All in all September was a very good reading month! I liked all of the books I read this month for different reasons but the one that really stuck with me is Beyond the Crushing Waves. It's based on a true story and is really well written.
My listening time for September was 108 hours and 30 minutes. Year to date that's 1045 hours and 50 minutes. That's 43+ days so far.
What great books did you read this month?
Ancient Rome by Simon Baker - Just couldn't get engaged in this one. It might have been the dull narration.
If She Wakes (734)
By Michael Koryta, Read By Robert Petkoff
This is the second Koryta book that I've read and I wasn't disappointed. The story opens with college student, Tara Beckley driving a visiting professor to a conference speaking engagement. On the way the professor starts acting strange and asks her to pull over. He then takes photos of her for a smartphone screen lock and tells her to put the phone in her car. The next thing she knows she in a terrible car accident that leaves her in the hospital with locked-in syndrome. She's fully alert but can't control any movement at all so everyone thinks she's brain dead.
While her family is trying to find a way to heal Tara, lots of other people are searching for the missing smartphone. There's lots of action, some misdirection and suspense. The interesting thing about the book is that much of the story is based on the missing phone but at the end the explanation of what was on the phone was kind of an afterthought. Honestly, while it underpinned the reason for the actions, it really wasn't relevant to the story so I wasn't so bothered by it.
By Robin Pilcher, Read By John Lee
This is an older book that popped up in my Chirp list one day. I remembered that I loved Rosamunde Pilcher's books and I had read one of Robin's before. I was happy to be reminded of this author.
This story is set around the Edinburgh International Festival of film, music and comedy. Six artists from different backgrounds and disciplines cross paths and their lives are changed.
This is a feel good book that was an enjoyable listen. I loved all of the different characters and found myself very interested in knowing what would happen to each. Robin writes as well as his mother. Her book, The Shell Seekers, is one of my all-time favorite reads. I read it in 1998 and still remember how much I enjoyed it.
I Am Pilgrim (1361)
By Terry Hayes, Read By Christopher Ragland
This book was almost as long as the last two books combined. That will be enough to warn some of you off from the start. But I love a long book because it's an opportunity for the author to create a complex plot and this book did not disappoint.
But, before I go into my thoughts, there's another aspect that might warn you off right off the bat. It's about a plot to contaminate the supply of flu vaccine. This book was released in 2014 before we were all sick to death of discussing viruses and vaccines.
The book opens with the death of an unknown young woman murdered in a run-down hotel in New York. The murder is interesting because the murderer seems to have followed the guidance from an obscure investigative book written by someone who knows a lot about methods of undetectable murder. The author, code named Pilgrim, needs to solve this murder and one other just to find the trail of the most dangerous person of all.
A Saudi son witnesses the beheading of his father and vows revenge. That revenge included training in Afghanistan as well as earning a medical degree. The medical degree give him credentials for travel and access to medical facilities. His training give him the ability to disappear and reinvent himself with the help of his underworld friends. His plan, if successful, will be worse than the Spanish Flu. Pilgrim must find him.
You do have to keep up while reading this book but it was a refreshing story and reminded me somewhat of the writing style of Kyle Mills (currently writing the Mitch Rapp series). I enjoyed it.
Beyond the Crushing Waves (655)
By Lilly Mirren, Read By Melissa Chambers
Before I tell you about the book I'll just say that if you read, and liked, Before We Were Yours, you will enjoy this book. It's a similar story based on different, but also, true events.
Before this book I had never heard of Britain's Child Migrant Programme. I expect it had good intentions to provide indigent British children with opportunities to be cared for and learn trades abroad. Between 1920 and 1970, about 130,000 children were sent to Canada and Australia to live and work on farms. Many were told that they were orphans or their single mother's were forced to give up their children. Charities and churches coordinated the efforts.
The story is told in this book through three children who found themselves together on a ship heading to Australia for the promise of a better future. What they found on arrival was a workhouse environment that may or may not have been better than their homes.
The story is told in two timer periods with the second in current day when the Granddaughter of one of the children is about to give birth to her own child. Several events collide that prompts a confession by the Grandmother.
The writing is beautiful and even though you sort of know how it ends, you are constantly cheering on the children and hoping that they get a break. I couldn't put it down.
Gone Baby Gone (816)
By Dennis Lehane, Read By Jonathan Davis
This is #4 in the Kenzie and Gennaro series. I read #3 last December and enjoyed it enough to keep going in the series. This is an older series. I believe the original release date was 1998 but the story still holds up. I liked this book even better than the last one. I realized that Lehane is a master of the complex plot and he develops it in such a way that he doesn't need to rely on magical revelations to resolve the plot.
In this book, Kenzie and Gennaro are asked to investigate the case of a missing 4 year old girl, Amanda. It's been long enough since the disappearance and the search has been so thorough, that they don't feel that they can add anything to the investigation. But Amanda's aunt is insistent and she seems to be the one most interested in finding Amanda.
Amanda's disappearance is complicated by the lack of interest of her drug and alcohol-dependent mother. In fact, Amanda disappeared from her bed while her mother was watching TV with a friend one night. She had left the door unlocked. It seems the case might be connected to some of the mother's drug activities.
But might it also be connected to some other missing children in this poor Boston area?
Lost and Found in Paris (630)
By Lian Dolan, Read by Brittany Pressley
If you need kind of an easy, frivolous read this is the book for you!
Joan Blakely lost her famous artist father on 9/11 and 10 years later she is still dealing with the grief. Her famous model mother had removed herself from the public eye. One day Joan comes home to have her husband tell her that 5 years ago he fathered twins with another woman but, it's OK, he want them to stay together (because he benefits from the association with the Blakely name) but he wants to be more involved with his sons. Joan blows up her marriage and starts life anew.
She accepts an assignment to be an art courrier to Paris. On her first night there (after dinner with her flight seat mate) she discovers the artwork has been stolen and one of her father's lost sketches has been left in its place. So begins a scavenger hunt through Paris to find the source of the sketch and the missing artwork.
It's a ridiculous story but kind of a fun, lighthearted read. There's a ton of celebrity name-dropping that seems really excessive and can be annoying but I eventually got over it.
Fourth of July Creek (941)
By Smith Henderson, Read by MacLeod Andrews and Jenna Lamia
If you are looking for something different to read, this might be your book. It's set in the Montana wilderness and the central character is Pete Snow. Pete is a social worker who looks nothing like a social worker. He's called to the local school one day to try to help a boy who has appeared out of nowhere. Benjamin Pearl is a nearly feral 11 year old who lives in the wilderness with his paranoid survivalist father. Pete works hard to build a relationship with Benjamin and his father but there are all sorts of complications, including the involvement of the FBI.
Meanwhile, Pete's ex-wife has moved with their daughter (Rachel) to Austin and the daughter narrates part of the story. She runs away and Pete goes on a desperate search to find her.
The narration flips back and forth between Pete and Rachel and it's a really choppy transition in the narration. It took me a couple of hours in to figure out exactly what was going on between the two different narration voices. That was not handled well for the listener. I expect that it's different chapters in the book and a pause between narrators would have been good.
But, back to the story, it's a unique story and it's interesting. It is dark in it's portrayal of the permanently downtrodden but there's hope. For a debut novel, it's really well written and you do get attached to the characters.
River of the Gods (602)
By Candice Millard, Read By Paul Michael
In the mid 1800's, England was obsessed with exploration of Africa. The Royal Geographical Society sent Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke to seek out the source of the Nile River. This is the story of that journey and the story of the lives of the people involved. It even addresses the petty actions of Speke and other people involved in the search. Pettiness survives all generations!
One of the most interesting people on the team was Sidi Mubarak Bombay, a former slave who agreed to be a guide on the tour.
It's a very interesting book and I feel that it addressed the subject and the characters honestly and fairly.
9/30/2022 03:56:37 pm
Thanks again for your well written and interesting book reviews. I haven't read River of the Gods, but I did read River of Doubt by the same author, which was a fascinating book about Theodore Roosevelt's trip down a tributary of the Amazon.
9/30/2022 10:31:50 pm
I'm going to have to try to find a copy of the Lily Mirren book because my uncle (by marriage) was a home child and was shipped to Canada during the war. Haven't been able to trace his family in England but I'm always hopeful I can find some information on his life before he was sent here. He was sent to a farm and then ended up being a farmer the rest of his life.
10/3/2022 12:45:31 pm
Thanks for your recommendations. I've currently been listening to David Sedaris's ramblings and diary entries. He has several audio books, he isn't for everyone but I'm more entertained/amazed by real people lately, rather than fiction.
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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.