Friday, July 9, 2021

June Books

 Hi everyone. It's Friday. Happy almost weekend.  It's raining here and is going to be a wet day, and that makes it a good day for art. I'm looking forward to it since I haven't had enough art time lately. Smile.

It's time once again for my monthly book post.  If it's not your thing, never mind my post. I write this post for those of you who enjoy reading a book post. I also write it for myself for future reference. If you like book posts, then this might be a post you'd like to read. 

Summer is usually a good reading time for me because hot afternoons and a hammock just scream for a book. I'm not sure I can say I have a stellar reading list this month. I read a few exciting books and a few that were lighter reads. 

My first few books this month are the next in the series from books I read in May .

One book I listened to back in May was Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. Moran wrote 3 novels about Egyptian royal women. She used  information about the culture and  the times, but she created the story and some of the characters within the story. I enjoyed the Nefertiti  book , and since a lighter listen was perfect for the hot summer weather we had in early June, I decided to continue with the series and listen to the second book. 

This time the book was about Nerfertari. She was the principal wife of  Pharaoh Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great. I read online that theirs was actually a true love story.  She might have also been related several generations back to Nefertiti according to various historical websites that I checked;  this book states that  she was related. Unlike the last book which was told through Nefertiti's sister, this one is told directly by Nerfertari.

Although I still enjoyed most of the book, this story is more of a typical romantic story just set in Ancient Egypt. Compared to the Nefertiti (first) book of this series, this story was more predictable. However,  even though I write how the book is basically a more predictable romance, I did learn something of this time in Ancient Egypt ( a pharaoh's funeral was particularly fascinating), and I did want to see what happened all the way until the end of the story.  I am glad I continued listening through the parts I didn't find as interesting because there were some definite surprises further into the story. 

Overall it was a decent story for the hot lazy weather of summer. It was well written, but I was disappointed it wasn't as good as the first story.  I had hoped for more.  Right now I don't think I'll continue on and read the last book in the trilogy. 

Last month I read A Superior Death, book 2 in Nevada Barr's National Parks mystery series.  I enjoyed that book so I decided to read the next book in this series.   Anna Pigeon is a National Park Ranger, and this time the setting of the book is Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado.

Once again I thought it would take a little bit to get  the characters straight. There were a few people that continued on in the story (from earlier books in this series), however, seeing main character, Anna Pigeon, was at a new national park, there were many new  people in this book.  As with all the characters in the last book, keeping them straight quickly became a non-issue. 

When a park ranger is found dead in one of the ancient cliff dwellings in the park, it is up to Anna Pigeon (with a little help)  to figure out who killed him. Is the killer someone from the present time or are they a ghost from the past civilization? Could their spirit have been disturbed during some construction work that is going on in the park?

I enjoyed this book as much as the last one I read by this author.  Although this book is part of a series, I think you could read it without having read the last book.

When I finished reading  Ill Wind , I went on to book 2 in Mary Stewart's King Arthur series, The Hollow Hills.  

 This is an excellent story. It was well written, and I think even easier to follow than the previous volume as the story was so well set up in book 1 (The Crystal Cave).  This book is narrated by Merlin, and goes through the story of King Arthur's birth, childhood and crowning as King.

I'm glad I've discovered this series because Mary Stewart is a talented writer, and I enjoyed reading about characters whose names I know. The beauty of this story, is that even though the basic story  of King Arthur and Merlin are basically known entities, the author turned this into a really good novel and added some of her own twists and turns to come up with a really engrossing story. 

The last 100 pages especially kept me glued to the book.

If you like the Legend of King Arthur and haven't read this series (they were first published in the 1970's), then I recommend at least books 1 and 2 as that is as far as I have gotten in this series. 

I then needed to listen to something totally different.

Vanishing Fleece was a great listen for anyone who has any interest in wool. The author, Clara Parkes, gets 676 pounds of sheep fleeces, and she follows the fleeces through the process of becoming yarn. During the journey she visits places where fleece is scoured, dyed, baled, turned into wool and everything else involved in the sheep fleece to yarn process. It has history, humor, personal interactions, and lots of information, presented in a fun and light way. It's not a long book, and I finished it in 2 sittings. I very much enjoyed this story. 

I was reading an article about bees on the internet by Frank Mortimer, and at the bottom of this article the author ran a blurb about his recently released book. As I learned a lot in the article, I checked out the book. The book had good reviews so I thought I would listen to it. I still have so much to learn about responsible bee keeping.

Here's how I'd rate this book:

for bee keeping info: 5 out of 5
for making me laugh: 4 out of 5
for the author's personal story: 5 out of 5
for the author's personal opinion (or preaching) in parts: 3 out of 5
for the author's discussion of other be keepers he knows: 2.5 out of 5

Not a waste of my time in any way, but had I been the editor I would have chopped a few of the chapters. It would have made a tighter better book overall.


The Pharaoh Key is a fast paced, quick read, "adventure thriller" by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I've read and enjoyed some of their crime/mystery books, as well as several of Douglas Preston's solo books. I didn't realize The Pharaoh Key was book 5 in a series when I started it, but luckily I could follow along without any issues. There was some discussion of the previous cases the 3 main characters, Eli Glinn, Gideon Crew and Manuel Garza, had been through, and if I had read the earlier stories in this series,  it would probably have added to this story. Nothing like starting well into a series.

This was a fun read as 2 of the main characters are in search of treasure in a remote part of Egypt. There is a lost Egyptian Tribe of head hunters, a mythical one eyed leopard, and days in the hot, water free desert. This book is truly escapism. There is never a dull moment in this story, which makes it a page turner. And I would guess from the ending there could be a book 6 in this series. This book  will not win any literary awards, but it is enjoyable and worth the read if you're looking for some escapism on hot summer days. 

Why We Swim is a wonderful book, not particulary long, but very full of details. I love a book that talks about human achievement, biological differences, and something we all know about but don't really know that much about. 

I'm not a great swimmer. I'm slow, can't swim for long time periods,  and I'm not great at dipping and removing my head underwater to stride forward. BUT I love swimming. I'm often one of the first ones into the water at my mother-in-laws, even when it is still cold. I slowly wade in and then splash under. I swim with Pete. Even though he and our other dog Maddie are both almost half Labrador retriever, Pete has the swimming instinct. He used his tail as a rudder and moves fast.  He swims circles around me impatiently. I say this because just like dogs, in this book I discovered how some people have better swimming traits like bigger lungs, cold water genetics or traits for deep diving. 

I learned a lot about the activity of swimming.  I didn't know there were world swim bucket lists.  I also learned about some extreme swimmers, both people who chose to have these adventure swims and people who had to be extreme swimmers in response to some kind of disaster. It was an enjoyable listen. And different from my usual fiction  picks also.  I like to learn something about a topic I never really thought much about.

And finally I finished June with a day spent mostly on the couch reading. Between the crazy high heat and the need of a quiet day hanging out at home, I made the plunge into the new Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery. 

Elly Griffiths does not disappoint in this volume, book 13, of the series. Time has gone forward since the last book. There is a double murder as well as archaeological digs. As these books are set in the Norfolk area of England, there are also local legends.  Of course the fascinating characters that make these stories so good are back. There is Nelson, the chief detective, Ruth, the college professor and archaeologist, Cathbad, the local Druid, Judy, Tanya, Nelson's boss Jo, Kate, Michelle and many more as well as the new characters. 

The only sad thing about having read this book is the fact that now I need to wait until next year for the next one to be released. OK, I am hooked on this series.

I hope you enjoyed my post if you're a book post reader. As usual, I love recommendations also, so if you have any good books, I'd love to hear about them.  

Have a great weekend. Thanks for visiting.


Valerie-Jael said...

You've been reading some great books again. I always enjoy the Mary Stewart and Elly Griffiths books, they're good to listen and/or read! Sorry the beekeeping book wasn't quite to your taste, I suppose they can't all hit the mark. I like the sound of the Nevada Barr books, perhaps I can get one sooner or later. Have a great day, take care, hugs, Valerie

one irrational bean said...

Wow, some good recommendations. I am especially interested in the two mysteries, but I will have to put both on my lists of want to read. A rainy reading day to be sure. Or it’s always a good day for art. Take your pick!

DVArtist said...

Lots of good reading here. Thanks for the commendations.

Iris Flavia said...

With real good books I do the same, to be able to go back and re-read the essential.
And if Ingo would have had to turn on the heating again - sadly not kidding - you´d find me on the balcony with a book.
Instead I have my microwave-tiger on my legs.
I saw Ramses back then in Cairo. And my very dumb ex-boyfriend wanted to ride a Camel. And then we had no money to go into the pyramids. I still could.... think these days you cannot visit the inside anymore.

Aha. So my FIL must have huge lungs. Even at over 40 years of age he won against colleagues in their 20s in Lower Saxony where all police-swimmers met and heard one say "what´s Granpa doing here?" - Granpa one :-)
I still have the t-shirt, it hangs on the wall. Ingo is fast, too, but me... slow. And I can´t stay cold.
Wish we hadsomething warm to swim here!
In Jamaica that was how we started the day.

To a great weekend!

And don´t be mad at the postie, maybe he met just dumb 60-year olds - we are near Wolfsburg and many plant worker live in Braunschweig (which you can see in a lille movie tomorrow, if you like).
They are not the brightest...

CJ Kennedy said...

Certainly an eclectic set of reading books and June was perfect for a read in the hammock. I hope the rain leaves and hot and humid sets up for July. Stay dry today

jenclair said...

Great list of books! I haven't read an Anna Pigeon book in a while, but I've enjoyed many of her National Park adventures. Although I've followed the Agent Pendergast novels for years, I haven't read any of the series, so adding it to my list.

Divers and Sundry said...

I read and liked Nevada Barr's "Track of the Cat" and enjoyed it but somehow never read more by her. I should add this next one to my list. Thanks for reminding me of this series.

The Mary Stewart trilogy (don't even ask me about that 4th book ;) ) is delightful. I'm unfamiliar with the other authors. I like finding new-to-me books :) Thanks!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Always enjoy your book review posts, Erika, although quite honestly the only one in this group I was familiar with was the last one. I just finished listening to Greenlights read by its author, Matthew McConaughy, and it revealed a lot I didn't know about him. Finished reading If I Were You by Lynn Austin, a fast and enjoyable read. i tried The Searcher by Tana French, the first one I've ever tried by her and just could not get into this book after giving it a good try. The same is true for Anxious People by Fredrick Bachman . There's just so many books that now if one doesn't hold my interest, I've decided to move onto another. I downloaded The Alienist on my Kindle and also will download another audio book for our week in RI visiting family.

R's Rue said...

Stay dry and enjoy art time. You’ve introduced me to many great titles. Thank you.

craftytrog said...

Some interesting books on your June list Erika. I like the sound of those Michelle Moran ones. And I love a good Mary Stewart, and anything King Arthur related.
Have a lovely weekend.
Alison xx

Carola Bartz said...

I always love to read about books! Of these books I have only read "Ill Wind" after I had visited Mesa Verde (I think I bought it in the park store) and it hooked me on Nevada Barr's books. I think I will look into the Ruth Galloway mystery series - I have been to Norfolk several times and love that area, and I simply love novels that take place in a location I am familiar with. Thank you!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I always love a good mystery and these sound great. The Fleece one sounds interesting, too. Even though I don't ever want to work with yarn, I would love to learn more about the process.

Jeanie said...

I love your book posts -- what a great list! (And a reminder I need to recap June). I'm especially interested in the swim book (I can swim long but slow and I hate putting my head in water up and down! I don't mind going under but on my terms!) And I'd like to revisit Mary Stewart and the Arthurians again -- a good reminder. But oh, you're caught up with Ruth and company. I'm at about six or seven, I think. (The Michelle/Tim subplot.) The thing with a series is eventually you catch up -- I'm that way with Louise Penny and Jacqueline Winspear and I HATE the wait till the new one arrives!

Stevenson Q said...

Oh what a beautiful variety of reading you did dear Erika! For my birthday last month, my dad gave me some cash which I used to buy a complete set of Harry Potter books on sale :) I am a big Potter fan and I have read all the books but I do not own a complete set since I was just borrowing the books when I was in school from my friends so it's a good thing to have in my collection I think :)

Laurie said...

Really good books! I’ve read Mary Stewart, I loved this one and the series, I’m not interested in her romantic works but Thorny hold and this one are among my favourites. I’ve also read the Pharohs Key, you always give such great suggestions! 👍❤️