Sunday, October 15, 2023

Audiobook Review: The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese book cover and review
I read Cutting for Stone and really enjoyed it. Verghese is such a great storyteller. So when I saw The Covenant of Water, there was no hesitation on my part. And I was totally correct. I think this is one of my new favorite books of all time.

I'm inserting part of the description, because I can't do better: Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning—and in Kerala, water is everywhere. At the turn of the century, a twelve-year-old girl from Kerala’s long-existing Christian community, grieving the death of her father, is sent by boat to her wedding, where she will meet her forty-year-old husband for the first time. From this unforgettable new beginning, the young girl—and future matriarch, known as Big Ammachi—will witness unthinkable changes over the span of her extraordinary life, full of joy and triumph as well as hardship and loss, her faith and love the only constants.

There is so much to this story, much like Cutting for Stone. It spans generations. It takes you from India to Ireland (and you have to just be patient to see how things all fit together.) The characters are so richly detailed that they feel like a part of your own life. My only complaint is that I wasn't ready for it to end. There were some situations that I would have liked more resolution, although the ending is comfortable. It isn't a cliffhanger or anything. But I was so involved that it felt abrupt.

Verghese narrates the audiobook himself and is superb. He has an accent, but it is appropriate and easily understood.

It is a long story, but it flies by. I highly recommend the audio version. The only thing I didn't realize is that there are illustrations. So either get a copy of the book or go to I wished I had known this while reading because I would have liked to see the illustrations at the proper part of the story as I was listening. The Covenant of Water will stick with me for a long time.

Published by Grove, May 2, 2023
Audiobook obtained from
736 pages

Rating: 5/5

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Thursday, October 5, 2023

Book Review: A Traitor in Whitehall, by Julia Kelly

A Traitor in Whitehall, by Julia Kelly book cover and review
I was reading a new thriller, and taking forever. After about 55%, I asked myself, "Do I really care about these characters? Can I live without knowing what the 'big twists' are?" The answers were "no" and "yes." So I gave up.  Sometimes I easily blame myself for not enjoying a book--not in the right mood, not enough time to get the idea. But sometimes I just don't like the book! And I need to admit that. After reading over half the book I still couldn't keep the two main characters apart.

All of that is to say, I decided to try A Traitor in Whitehall, and I really enjoyed it. I read it in three sittings! It grabbed me from the beginning. It was an easy read. So I realized, I CAN read and enjoy a book! There's nothing wrong with me!!

It's 1940 in England and Evelyn is doing everything she can for the war effort by working in a munitions factory. When she runs into a friend of her father's, he gets her working as a typist in Winston Churchill's war rooms. Top secret stuff. She works three days and must stay at the underground facility. Then she gets two days off to go home.

She is trying to get to know the women she works with when one of them is murdered. And Evelyn is the one who finds the body. She can't help but begin investigating, but this causes her to butt heads with David, who is investigating for the government. She also finds out he's investigating a mole who is selling secrets to the enemy. Are the two crimes related? David allows Evelyn to help him in his investigation, and it turns out she's pretty good at it. 

The clues are interesting, and there are plenty of suspects. This is the first of the Parisian Orphan series, so as everything is solved, we find out more about David and his work. It seems Evelyn and David will be working together in the future. I'll be interested to read more of their adventures.

This one is a pleasant and easy read. The characters are likable and easy to root for. The historic setting is always a plus for me. Read A Traitor in Whitehall if you are interested in these types of stories.

Published by Minotaur, October 3, 2023
eARC obtained from Edelweiss+
304 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Book Review: The Bone Hacker by Kathy Reichs

The Bone Hacker by Kathy Reichs book cover and review
The Bone Hacker is the latest Tempe Brennan book, and as expected, it was very enjoyable.

This episode brings Tempe to Turks and Caicos where several young men, tourists, have been disappearing. Some bodies have been found and they need help from our favorite forensic anthropologist.

Seemingly unrelated accidental deaths have also occurred. It's all very confusing and the pieces don't come together until the end.

Another creative plot that kept me turning pages and kept me guessing (incorrectly) at the resolution. As usual, it gets tense as Tempe herself faces danger.

If you are a fan, as I always say, you won't want to miss this latest installment. If not, you should start anywhere -- it isn't necessary to read these in order. And if you've only watched the TV series (Bones), you are missing out!

Published by Scribner, August 1, 2023
eBook obtained from NetGalley
336 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Thursday, August 10, 2023

Audiobook Review: Killers of a Certain Age, by Deanna Raybourn

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn book cover and review
At first, I thought Killers of a Certain Age was going to be a kind of tongue-in-cheek cutesy assassin story. After the introduction, when the women were fighting for their lives, the tone changed, and I found it to be pretty exciting.

Billie is the narrator of the present time. She is one of four, recently retired women, who have worked for the past 40 years as assassins. The organization they work for, the Museum, started out as a Nazi-hunting squad, but since the Nazis' numbers have dwindled, their mission is to investigate, target, and assassinate unscrupulous people all over the world.

The four women have been sent on an all-expenses-paid cruise as a retirement gift. Turns out their real gift is finding out they, themselves are targets of the Museum. Once they figure this out, they are on their own to escape their former colleagues who are now trying to assassinate them and to figure out why they have been targeted.

Their methods are creative and intriguing. The four each have different personalities and different strengths. We get flashbacks of how they were recruited and trained 40 years ago, and some of their early missions are described.

They can trust no one, as we soon find out. Their destiny seems an impossible one to escape. There are surprises all the way through, and I only figured out the situation as the characters did.

All in all, Killers of a Certain Age was time well spent. Oppenheimer and Delaine, the narrators, did a great job. (One did the present, and the other did the flashbacks.) I would recommend this one if it sounds interesting and highly recommend the audio version.

Published by Berkley, 2022. Penguin Audio.
Audiobook obtained from
368 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Friday, August 4, 2023

AudioBook Review: The Guardians by John Grisham

The Guardians by John Grisham book cover and review
I always enjoy Grisham stories, but I really loved The Guardians.

I think it's because of the premise. The main character, a lawyer named Cullen Post, created and runs Guardian Ministries, a nonprofit that works to get innocent people, most of them on death row, out of prison. I totally believe there are many people, right now, who are in prison but innocent. I just can't imagine being in that situation.

Post is trying to prove the innocence of Quincy Miller. Twenty-two years ago, Quincy was convicted of murdering a lawyer at his desk. Post knows this isn't true, but proving it and getting anyone in the legal system to listen to him, isn't easy. And it turns out the people who framed Quincy are powerful and dangerous, which creates the build-up of suspense. 

I enjoyed all the people who work with Post. They are colorful and special characters. While he is working to free Quincy, we learn about several other cases that Post is working on and some of those that he's been successful in getting released from prison.

I loved the narrator, Michael Beck. He has the appropriate southern drawl, but not too irritating. I thought he was perfect for this story, and he has narrated several of Grisham's novels.

The Guardians is a good one, combining good guys, and colorful bad guys, in the courtroom and on the street. If you enjoy Grisham, you won't want to miss The Guardians.

Published by Doubleday, 2019. Random House Audio
Audiobook obtained from
384 pages

Rating: 5/5

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Thursday, August 3, 2023

Book Review: The Hotel Nantucket, by Elin Hilderbrand

The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand book cover and review
I saw this on a "deal of the day" right before I went on vacation. I was in the mood for something "beachy" and The Hotel Nantucket did not disappoint.

Lizbet has just had a devastating breakup with her longtime boyfriend and business partner after discovering he was having an affair. Some faraway billionaire, Xavier, purchases The Hotel Nantucket and needs a general manager. The hotel has been closed for many years and is supposedly haunted. Lizbet throws everything she has into redesigning the hotel. The only way to make Xavier happy is if she gets a 5-star rating from Shelly Carpenter, the popular Instagram influencer who has never given 5 stars to any hotel.

The ghost, Grace, who was killed in a hotel fire in 1922, does play a part in the story. Don't let that throw you off. It is tasteful and a cute addition. Turns out Xavier (who doesn't even visit the hotel until the very end) had an ulterior motive for buying and refurbishing the hotel. But I won't spill the beans about that.

Lizbet is destined for some romance (new or old? I won't tell you that either.) The employees and guests of the hotel are varied, and each has their own backstory. There are ups and downs, of course, but ultimately this is a feel-good beach read with a happy ending. Not too sappy. Some secrets that are intriguing. Just what I wanted!

I don't read too many of this genre, so I don't have much to compare it to. Hilderbrand is supposedly a master, so I would recommend The Hotel Nantucket if you are in the mood. 

Published by Little, Brown & Co., 2022
EBook purchased
416 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Book Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood book cover and review
Like The Handmaid's Tale, The Heart Goes Last is another creative and thought-provoking dystopian by Atwood.

Because of some non-descript economic collapse, Charmaine and Stan have lost everything and are now living in their car. When they get the opportunity to join The Positron Project. a town where everyone has a home, a job, and security. The tradeoff is that every other month they must serve as inmates in the Positron Prison. So while they are in prison, another couple is living in their home and working their civilian jobs. And you can never leave the town.

It all seems great -- until things fall apart. Charmaine has an affair with the man who lives in her house when she is in prison. But it's more than that. The affair is a setup, and secrets about Positron are revealed. Stan's life is in danger and Charmaine can't do anything to help him. Or can she?

I found The Heart Goes Last to be intriguing, but I got bored after a while. I thought it just dragged on a bit. I always wonder if this is because I stopped reading for a while, so it took me a long time to finish. Or maybe I stopped reading because I was bored with the book? Chicken, or egg?

Anyway, I was satisfied with the ending. The Heart Goes Last was mostly compelling and a bit disturbing. I still think it is worth a read if you enjoy these types of books.

Published by Bloomsbury, 2015
Copy obtained from my collection
382 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Audiobook Review: Stay Close, by Harlan Coben

Stay Close by Harlan Coben book cover and review
I'm a big Coben fan and hadn't read one for a while so I was very entertained by Stay Close.

Megan, a suburban housewife with two kids, a handsome husband, and a beautiful house, has a secret past. When she decides to return to one of her old haunts -- where they know her as Cassie -- she ends up digging up more than she bargained for.

Ray, a two-bit photographer who is constantly down on his luck, is someone from Cassie's past. Ray inadvertently takes a picture of a man right before he disappears. He sends the picture anonymously to the police, and Detective Broome is on the case. 

These three characters will have their world turned upside down as they dig into this case. Turns out there are many more missing men, going all the way back to Cassie's and Ray's relationship.

Stay Close has also been turned into a Netflix series if you are interested. The audiobook narrator, Scott Brick, does a great job. The voices are distinct, but his narration doesn't get in the way.

As in all Coben stories, there are many twists and turns and lots of surprises. The characters are sympathetic, even with all their faults. The way these surprises are revealed is classic Coben, and if you haven't experienced his storytelling, you should try Stay Close. Or my favorite, Tell No One. Or really any of his mystery thrillers. You won't be disappointed. 

Published by Dutton, 2012
Audiobook obtained from
387 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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