What a great book month! I only finished 7 books but that was because some were long and also, it's football season. It's the time of year when I take off the headphones to sit in front of the TV.
Of the 7 books I finished I was only disappointed with one: The Sentence. I just didn't get the point of that one but I enjoyed all of the other books and my favorite is probably The Improbability of Love.
What books did you love (or hate) this month?
By Sarah Waters, Read By Juanita McMahon
If Charles Dickens wrote a psychological thriller, it would be this book.
In Victorian England, Susan Trinder was orphaned as a baby and raised by Mrs. Sucksby, who she views as a mother. Mrs. Sucksby along with a few other well-trained pickpockets and con artists. One day, fellow con, Gentleman, arrives with a grand plan to use Susan to swindle a young woman out of her inheritance.
Susan will become the Lady's personal maid and help convince her to marry Gentleman and will share in the riches. It's an elaborate scam that is in jeopardy when Susan forms a bond with the Lady.
This is one of the most unique and interesting books I've read in a while. It's a long one so if you are considering it, be prepared to devote over 23 hours to it.
The story is told alternating between Susan's story and the Lady's story. When it first started with Susan's story I really couldn't figure out what could make the book so long. Then part 2 is the same story told from the other perspective. Each one revealing a very surprising twist.
There are a couple of pretty steamy scenes and there's a very interesting storyline involving Victorian pornography. So be aware of that if it offends you. It's definitely the seedy side of Victorian London. I enjoyed it. It was a fresh story, not just another rehash of so many common plots.
The Ice Princess
By Camilla Lackberg, Read By David Thorn
This book was translated from Swedish so the names are all Swedish and sometimes hard to follow, but it's a fun mystery read.
Erica Falk has returned home after the deaths of her parents to clean out the house. While visiting, her childhood friend Alex is murdered. She and Alex haven't been in contact in years but Alex's parents as Erica to write a biography of Alex. Information about why Alex disappeared from her life is starting to come out.
Meanwhile, detective Patrick Hedstrom thinks his boss has the case all wrong and is investigating separate leads on his own. He and Erica also have a connection from their youth.
It was a good general mystery read.
By Louise Erdrich, Read By Louise Erdrich
I loved Erdrich's book, The Roundhouse, and was really looking forward to this one. Boy, was I disappointed.
Let me start my comments by saying that this book gets rave reviews so take my opinion as just that: opinion.
The premise of the book is that Tookie has just finished serving a long prison term which she survived by voracious reading. Now that she's out, she has gotten a job at a Minneapolis bookstore that specializes in indigenous authors. One of their most frequent customers dies on All Souls Day in 2019 and begins haunting Tookie at the store. What follows is just a weird rambling through the events of the next 12 months including a very large dose of pandemic, George Floyd, riots and BLM. By the end, I didn't even care about the point of the ghost. I just wanted it over. If the summary had mentioned anything about the pandemic storyline I would have never picked it up. Maybe in 20 years I could read about that but, at the moment, I'm not interested.
The author narrates it and, frankly, it's lethargic. I have never had to speed up a book to 1.25x to make it tolerable but I did with this one. There are also lots of lists of books. I think this book was a vehicle for the author to share her favorite reading lists. I kept listening to see if there ever was a point. I think it's intended to have some deep meaning and to make the reader have some deep reflections on something but I didn't get it.
The Girl on the Bridge
By James Hayman, Read By Stephen Mendel
This is #5 in the McCabe and Savage series. I needed a fast paced mystery after The Sentence and I got exactly what I wanted.
12 years ago Hannah Reindel was drugged and raped at a college fraternity party. When she reported it, 4 months later, she was not believed. She has dealt with the trauma ever since and on a December night she reaches a breaking point and jumps off a bridge into a freezing river.
A month after Hannah's death, Joshua Thorne, one of the alleged rapists is reported missing in Portland, Maine. During the investigation, McCabe and Savage discover that another of the rapists has recently died in New Hampshire. That one was reportedly an accidental death. The local investigator isn't so sure.
This story moves fast, has a couple of nice twists and the characters are interesting and, mostly, likable. I like all of the books in this series and this is the last one.
The Improbability of Love
By Hannah Rothschild, Read By Adam James and Kirsten Atherton
I loved this book!
Annie McDee is trying to get over a failed relationship, living in a crummy London flat, dreams of being a chef but is just barely getting by as a film maker's assistant.
She's in a new relationship now and is planning a nice birthday dinner for the man. She stops in a thrift store and finds a painting that she thinks he might like and blows her last $75 on it. Sadly, he's a no show and she's left to pick up the pieces of another failed relationship.
Now this painting is hers and her alcoholic mother is trying to convince her that the painting might actually be valuable. Unfortunately, the painting seems to bring her nothing but bad luck and it gets worse as people start to realize what it is and everyone wants it.
If you like art and history, you will love this book. It has one feature that is usually a big turnoff for me but it works in this book. The painting, called The Improbability of Love, narrates part of the story. The painting is so witty that I don't mind it and it was a great way to introduce the history of the painting into the story.
I got hooked for the start and couldn't put it down.
None of This is True
By Lisa Jewell, Read by a cast
Lisa Jewell is one heck of a writer and she's produced another winner with this new book.
Alix Summer is celebrating her 45th birthday at a local pup when she meets Josie Fair. They discover that they were both born on the same day at the same hospital. They are birthday twins.
Alix is a podcaster and just finished a series and is looking for another idea. After meeting Josie listens to all of Alix's podcasts and, when they meet a few days later, convinces Alix that she would be a good subject for her series. Josie says that she is going through big changes in her life.
The next thing she knows, Josie has entwined herself into Alix's life.
Some people in the reviews commented that they felt the ending was unfinished. I thought that the ending was perfect for the character. I couldn't put it down and stayed up very late one night to finish it.
The Fires of Vesuvius
By Mary Beard, Read By Phyllida Nash
If you are into Roman history then this is the book for you. If you are British then you are probably very familiar with the author, Mary Beard, and will know that this book is going to be thorough and accurate.
Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE and destroyed Pompeii. Most of what we know about early Roman life is information gathered from unearthing Pompeii. In this book, Beard makes sense of all of that information separating fact from speculation.
I thought it was organized really well and was very informative.
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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.