Another month has flown by and, given that it's football season, I'm pretty pleased that I finished 8 books this month. To be honest several were pretty mediocre but I loved Brain Myths by The Great Courses, The Crossing (because it's Harry Bosch) and The Dead Key. The Dead Key was a particular gem!
What's your favorite book that you read this month? All of us readers are always looking for new ideas!
The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger, Narrated by Fred Berman and Phoebe Strole
Clare was 6 years old when she first met 36 year old Henry. They met many times as Clare grew up and eventually married when Clare was 23 and Henry, 31. This was all made possible because Henry has a genetic condition that makes him time travel.
I don't know what prompted me to buy this book and I've been postponing reading it. In the end, I think I'm glad I did. The book is well written and perfectly narrated. It takes a bit of your time to get used to the movements back and forth in time but it all eventually makes sense.
Part of the story line is that Henry is the first person diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder. His genetic clock resets itself and he unwillingly moves back and forth in time. As much as I dislike sci-fi I was surprised that I didn't mind it. The one thing that did bother me was what a frivolous character Henry is. His emotional maturity seems to never develop beyond college. I would expect someone with his "condition" to be more mature. Clare is the mature one and plays the perfect Penelope.
by Carol O'Connell, Narrated by Kate Reading
This is the 6th book in the Kathy Mallory series and I assume I started here because I got it on sale. If anyone else has read the books in this series I'd be really interested in your opinion. Much of my opinion might come from the narration.
So, put on your imagination cap and try to envision Spock from Star Trek as a beautiful, blonde NYC detective. That's how I would describe Kathy Mallory. She's a big bag of cliche characters:
- beautiful, and of course, blonde
- brilliant although she apparently grew up ALONE on the streets of NYC from about the age of 7 to 10
- private to the point of neurosis
- apparently, and mysteriously, wealthy enough to buy only designer clothes
- doesn't understand the concept of teamwork
- skulks around like a cat sneaking up on people
All that and for some strange reason she's a member of the special crimes unit and her co-workers protect her. So, let's change that image. She's part Spock and part Sheldon Cooper. Specifically the most annoying characteristics of both.
On the other hand, the story line is pretty interesting (except for a side story about some series of cheap Western novels that she would steal and have prostitutes read to her when she was a orphan). A prostitute (although the author annoyingly consistently uses "whore") is found dead presumably a suicide by hanging. It's one of the prostitutes that she clung to when she was living on the streets as a child. The murder seems to be strangely connected to another murder 20 years before.
I enjoyed the story and most of the other characters but I can't accept how flat the main character is and I certainly don't want to read any more books with her in them.
The Whiskey Rebels
by David Liss, Narrated by Christopher Lane
I don't think anyone will be surprised to learn that I have a big Excel spreadsheet where I track all of the books that I've read (ok, listened to). I started the list in 1995 and it currently has 1227 books on it. Sometimes, when I'm being smart, I actually consult the list before I buy a book to see if I've read it before or read anything else by the author.
All of that is to say that I didn't consult the list before buying this book and when I was adding this one to the list I discovered that I've read 2 of his other books about 10 years ago. I liked one and couldn't finish the other. Now having read 3 of his books I think I'd say that David Liss has great stories that aren't told all that well.
The Whiskey Rebels is, as you've probably guessed, historical fiction about the Whiskey Rebellion. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of the two protagonists: Ethan Saunders and Joan Maycott. They come to the story addressing two overlapping federal government decisions that happened about the same time: establishment of national banking and establishment of the whiskey tax. Several of the characters are real historical figures, most notably Alexander Hamilton. But there are others and the author identifies the "real" people at the end of the book.
It is a good story and probably reflects pretty accurately what life was at that time. It was a little confusing switching back and forth between the 2 characters stories and the writing is mediocre at best. I'm still glad I read it because it made me go and research the Whiskey Rebellion.
By Michael Connelly, Narrated by Titus Welliver
You know after a day of wearing work shoes at the office you can't wait to get home and slide into your favorite sandals. That's what reading Michael Connelly is for me. Harry Bosch is my comfy sandal after wearing tight high heels.
This is #22 in the Harry Bosch series and #6 in Mickey Haller. Harry is now retired and Mickey needs him to be an investigator on a defense case. Hence, the "crossing" over to the enemy. At least that's how his former police detectives see it.
I don't know if it's because the last 2 books were so disappointing but this is one of my favorite Bosch books to date. It didn't hurt to have Titus Welliver narrating it now that I've seen him playing Bosch in the Amazon series.
Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons From Neuroscience
by the Great Courses, Narrated by Professor Indre Viskontas
Back in June I read The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons and really enjoyed it. So the next time I perused the Great Courses section of Audible I picked up this along with a few other books. I first (tried to) listen to The Vikings and discovered that I really don't care about the Vikings at all! I don't mind the ones who wear purple on Sunday but the historic ones, not so much. I stopped listening to that one and moved on to this one without much optimism.
Oh how I loved being pleasantly surprised and that's exactly what this book did. Each chapter is based on a brain myth: that we have 5 senses, that computers make us stupider, that Facebook makes us less social, that we only use 10% of our brain power, the left/right brain dominance. Dr. Viskontas takes on each of these myths (and many more) and share the research into each of these topics to show why our beliefs are all wrong. The material is presented in a way that anyone can understand it and, in some cases, can apply some changes to our own lives to help keep our brains healthy.
There are a couple of chapters where I believe that she should have either expanded the current understanding of the issue beyond neuroscience into included either information or caveats that there are other disciplines affecting the topic. For example, she talks about gender identity as a brain function but neglects to even mention the impact/influence of genetics. She also talks a LOT about her toddler but the examples are generally relevant given the development that happens in the brain in babies and children.
I learned a few things that we can all apply to our own lives. First physical activity is very important to brain health, especially as we age; second, computer activities (which I'll assume includes internet shopping) is great for seniors to keep their brains active; and third, all that Luminosity stuff is the equivalent of brain snake oil.
Some Danger Involved
by Will Thomas, Narrated by Anthony Ferguson
This is another new series to me. I'm pretty sure I picked this up in a sale because it's a little shy of my 10 hour minimum rule.
I didn't pay close attention to the era but I believe this is set around 1900. It opens with Thomas Llewelyn applying for a job with Cyrus Barker. Thomas is starving and homeless and answered a job advertisement as a last effort before throwing himself in the Thames. Barker is a private investigator looking for an assistant and he sees potential in Thomas.
They barely meet before they are off on their first case. Members of the Jewish community have hired Barker to investigate the crucifixion death of one of their citizens. The story is told by Thomas and we eventually get his personal history. If you like Anne Perry (William Monk, Charlotte and Thomas Pitt) you will enjoy this book, and probably the series. It's a little lighter than Perry and I'm on the fence about whether I'll read any more in the series. I did enjoy it and I like the characters but the books run a little short for me and that means that the plots can only be so complex.
The Dead Key
by D. M. Pulley, Narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith
In 1998 the First Bank of Cleveland has been vacant for 20 years. Iris is an engineer in a go-nowhere job when she is asked to create schematics of the old abandoned building for an impending sale. What she finds is a building left frozen in time. The bank had been shuttered in the middle of the night and every employee's desk was left unchanged. Iris starts finding mysterious things.
The story jumps back and forth between the 70's, just before the bank collapse, and the 90's with Iris. In the 70's we are following Beatrice as she starts to uncover some of what is happening there.
This book was the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and I completely understand how it won. It's a great (and unique storyline) told really well. It jumps back and forth in time which, as you know, I generally find supremely annoying. Ms. Pulley should teach a class for writers on how to do that transition right because she did it brilliantly and perfectly.
I couldn't turn this book off. One night I tried to listen to it in bed but it kept me wide awake. If you have worked in banking, as I did twice, you will know that the plot is mostly impossible but there's a thread of maybe, just maybe.....
By Robert Bidinotto, Narrated by Conor Hall
I found this one in another Deal of the Day and it's the second in the Dylan Hunter series. Dylan is a former special ops guy and the book opens with he and his girlfriend (a CIA operative) at the end of a month off recovering from the last operation. Just are they are leaving their mountain woods retreat an group of environmental terrorists have attacked a natural gas operation's offices.
Dylan and Annie stop the attack but the perps try to get revenge by planting a pipe bomb at their cabin.
The good about this book is the refreshing turn of events from traditional evil-doer stories. This time it's the environmentalists, EPA and other government officials that are the bad guys. The story runs along at a good pace and there are some twists and turns but too many of them are predictable and formulaic. Dylan has so many special skills, tools, connections and and such an endless supply of personal funds that the drama that's supposed to be there really isn't.
But that's not the worst part. Annie is the annoying character. She supposedly has PTSD but not "serious" PTSD but she can't be with Dylan if he continues his lifestyle....although she's still in the CIA. She is completely unbelievable as a CIA operative. She's way too girly and whiny for her character.
The funniest part of the book is that the voice for one of the characters sounds EXACTLY like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons. The most annoying part is the Valentine's Day dinner. Completely unbelievable. Also unbelievable is that an operative with such an unpredictable schedule has a pet cat. Oh, and the narrator pronounces "cache" as "kash-A" instead of "kash" - like a kash-A of weapons. Hilarious.
I don't think I'll be delving further into this series.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.