December Books

Cryptonomicon (audiobook)

By Neale Stephenson
Narrated by William Dufris

Started 21 November
Finished 8 December

I have the kindle version of this book, but had never got round to reading it, so I thought I'd try the audiobook. Much is made in reviews of how cerebral/geeky/techy the book is, with its detailed descriptions of cryptography. I have to say I wasn't aware of that, but this could be because I know a little about the subject - but only a little.
On balance, I enjoyed the book, although I lost focus a bit towards the end. I don't necessarily think it's the classic that some people do, but I don't regret the time spent on it.
I did find the narrator's tone of voice a little irritating at times, along with some of the voices he gave to characters, but then I'm a Brit and less familiar with American accents.

The Water's Edge (audiobook)

By Karin Fossum
Narrated by David Rintoul

Started 8 December
Finished 10 December

My first Karin Fossum. I expect she is someone whose books I'll read again.
David Rintoul - I have loved this man's voice since seeing him in "Pride and Prejudice" on TV many years ago (and he still remains my favourite Mr Darcy).
I enjoyed this story. Not exactly fast-paced, but very easy to listen to.

The Body in the Thames (audiobook)

By Susannah Gregory
Narrated by Gordon Griffin

Started 11 December
Finished 13 December

I have read a number of Susannah Gregory's Thomas Chaloner novels and enjoyed them, so I thought I might give an audiobook a go, especially as it was part of a two-for-one offer. I had reservations about the narrator. He was ok, but there was something about the voice that I didn't like all that much (not to mention constantly pronouncing adversary with the emphasis on the second syllable - one of many pronunciations on my "list"). That said, I enjoyed the story; plenty of interest and intrigue to keep me listening.

The Mistletoe Seller

By Dilly Court

Started 10 December
Finished 11 December

I read this in one sitting. It's the first novel I've read by Dilly Court, and I suspect that they may well all follow a similar formula; that of a poverty-stricken 19th-century heroine who either makes good, finds good fortune, or both. That's not to say I didn't enjoy this, I did, very much. Sometimes this sort of story makes a pleasant change, much like the occasional Georgette Heyer novel does.

Killman Creek

By Rachel Caine

Started 12 December
Finished 12 December

Another one-sitting read. I pre-ordered this book, having read Stillhouse Lake, by the same author. This is the follow-up to that book and is equally as thrilling, with plenty of twists and turns. It covers a lot of bases - the nastiness that social media can spread, fake evidence, the fear we all have of being trapped/framed and struggling to prove our innocence, betrayal, isolation and a truly, believable psychopath. Thoroughly enjoyed both books.

Killers of the Flower Moon (audiobook)

By David Grann
Narrated by Will Patton, Ann Marie Lee, Danny Campbell

Started 13 December
Finished 18 December

I found this story fascinating and not a little horrifying. Like a lot of non-Americans I was broadly aware of the treatment of the native peoples, but I had never heard of the Osage, let alone what had happened to them in the 1920s. This story was told well, from the point of view of the Osage people, from the point of view of the lead investigator and then a final section drawing everything together and expanding on it from the work done more recently by the author. I found myself drawn into the tale and I am glad I picked the book.

The Last Thing She Ever Did

By Gregg Olsen

Started 14 December
Finished 29 December

Well, I finally finished this. I can't say the story really grabbed me, to be honest. It seemed a little far-fetched - not the initial part, but pretty soon it diverged from what I could accept as plausible. Add to that characters who were almost entirely unsympathetic, plus an abrupt ending and, well, I just wasn't feeling it with this one. It started well and showed promise - a day out which ended in tragedy. That set up the back story, and, to be honest, that was the most interesting part. Maybe it was just me, but I'm rather glad this was a Kindle First, so I didn't pay for it.

Cosmos (audiobook)

By Carl Sagan
Narrated by LeVar Burton

Started 18 December
Finished 22 December

I never read this book, though I probably should have. I first came across Carl Sagan when he presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, back in 1977. I was fascinated and have been interested in astronomy and cosmology ever since.
Back to 2017 and I was pleased to see this had been released as an audiobook. The narration was excellent, as expected from LeVar Burton. His voice is very pleasant to listen to. The content was, understandably, a little dated and seemed quite simplistic. That's probably because I have read quite a lot on the subject and this book was written for the casual reader. It was groundbreaking; one of the first of many and I'm glad I finally got around to it.

Lightning (audiobook)

By Dean Koontz
Narrated by Christopher Lane

Started 22 December
Finished 24 December

Good. Not Koontz' best, but intriguing and interesting. I liked the characters and there were a few plot twists. It has made me want to re-read a lot of my old Koontz novels.

Ad Astra an illustrated guide to leaving the planet (audiobook)

By Dallas Campbell
Narrated by Dallas Campbell

Started 26 December
Finished 26 December

A fairly light listen, but, although it's a subject which interests me, I do feel I learned some new things. Campbell is an engaging presenter on television and he reads his own book well. I have the Kindle version, too, to make the best of the "illustrated" part of the title. Not a groundbreaking work, but entertaining and informative.

Snowblind (audiobook)

By Ragnar Jonasson
Narrated by Thor Kristjansson

Started 27 December
Finished 27 December

I enjoyed this, very atmospheric. It was a slow burn, but set up the characters well. Some reviewers have commented that the atmosphere was conveyed rather obviously; by direct, repeated statements, rather than by allowing the reader/listener to reach their own conclusions. True, to some extent, but it didn't seem to be overly intrusive to me.
The narration was, well, interesting. On the one hand, having a Scandinavian narrator helped with setting the scene, and the Icelandic names, but on the other, it proved slightly confusing, as the speech pattern was rather different and it didn't always flow. It wasn't a deal-breaker, just occasionally required a short rewind.
I am going to continue with the series, as I enjoyed this one.

Blackout (audiobook)

By Ragnar Jonasson
Narrated by Leighton Pugh

Started 28 December
Finished 28 December

I think this book was better than the first. It is listed as book 3 in the series, but book 2 is the latest, chronologically, so I'm saving that until last. Admittedly, the characters are now familiar, but I also found the story more interesting, with a few surprises along the way. The narration was much more to my taste than the first book and this is a narrator I'm happy to listen to again - just as well, as he has read the next three books.

As it’s the end of the year, time for a little summing-up of 2017 in books.

I have read 21 books and listened to 33 (only joining Audible mid-July), making a total of 54 books consumed. My lowest number in a month was June, with no books finished, and my highest has been December with 12 books finished. Ending on a strong note.