Here are some short summaries of books I have read recently. With one exception, all of these have been audiobooks.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
This is a great story of an unlikely hero who saves two planets with the help of a very unusual friend.
4.5-stars rounded up to 5 because the Audible narrator, Ray Porter, was outstanding! His reading made me enjoy the nerdiness of all the math and science. This was the perfect listen for my trips back and forth to Austin to see my new grandson, Stevie, who was born on February 28, 2022.
The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
The Diamond Eye is the fictionalized autobiography of Lyudmila Pavlichenko “Mila”, a Russian sniper during World War II. The novel expertly blends portions of the real-life Mila’s actual biography with Quinn’s “unofficial” biography. We follow Mila from being a 15-year-old mother, then a history major writing a dissertation, to becoming a trained markswoman, a sniper, and going on a goodwill mission to the United States where she befriends Eleanor Roosevelt. The fictional element of her being targeted by a hitman while in the United States adds intrigue throughout the story.
Kate Quinn is one of my top five favorite authors. I love her writing style and usually rate her books 5-stars. I feel guilty for only giving this one 4-stars. I really enjoyed it but did not love it. I listened to the audio. Saskia Maarleveld, as always, is an excellent narrator.
A Million Things by Emily Spurr
A Million Things is rated 4.26 on Goodreads, which is very good. The publisher’s quick description is “A bursting, heartfelt, debut following fifty-five days in the life of ten-year-old Rae, who must look after herself and her dog when her mother disappears.” While I mostly enjoyed the story, I found parts of it to be unbelievable. The narrator, Zenia Starr, was very good. 3.5-Stars rounded up to 4.
Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan
Surviving Savannah was my book club’s February 2022 selection. I think everyone really enjoyed this dual timeline historical fiction. I wholeheartedly gave it 5-Stars. I read this one on Kindle instead of listening to the audio. Here is part of the publisher’s summary:
When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.”
The Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad
The publisher’s summary for The Long Flight Home says it is ” Inspired by fascinating, true, yet little-known events during World War II, The Long Flight Home is a testament to the power of courage in our darkest hours—a moving, masterfully written story of love and sacrifice.” I wouldn’t describe it in such flowery terms. It is a pleasant story about the use of homing pigeons during World War II. There is a love story thrown in as well. I enjoyed the narration by Simon Vance, who has a lovely British accent. 3.5 Stars.
The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Don’t get this from Audible! It seems like this was originally published on cassette tapes and then uploaded to digital. There are strange breaks with music that are nonsensical. My only guess is these are the places where you had to switch out the cassettes. The narrator is not very good at changing voices, especially male voices.
This book is a collection of short stories about ordinary people, mostly Bengalis (Calcutta). Some are American immigrants living in Boston, while some of the stories take place in Bengal. Many of the stories are about mundane situations, but the author makes you care about the individuals.
4-stars for the stories. 2-stars for the Audible version.