Stacked-Up Book Thoughts are my random notes about books I've read, movies I've watched, books I'm looking forward to, and events I hope to get to.
Freezing temperatures have kept me inside and away from my walks. Although I'm getting cabin fever, I've had plenty of time to listen to books, tackle some house projects, watch some teleision, and do some baking. Here's what caught my attention . . . or not.
Although I'm picky about the quality of my audiobooks, I usually have pretty good luck in my choices. Of course, luck usually doesn't have much to do with it, I know the narrators and the genres that will hold my attention. Unfortunately, I abandoned two audios this month. The good news is that I finally found a good one and could barely stop listening.
The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn (Penguin Audio) is historical fiction about the Borgias, a family and time period that I like. The plot and the writing, however, didn't hold my attention, despite the multiple viewpoints and cast of narrators (Leila Birch, Maria Elena Infantino, Ronan Vibert). I had high hopes for The Savage Fortress, by Sarwat Chadda (Listening Library), which is set in India and involves ancient legends coming to life in modern times. Sadly, I didn't connect to the brother and sister protagonists and felt that the plot was going to be predictable (read by Bruce Mann). Thank goodness I decided to switch from print to audio for North of Boston by Elizabeth Elo (Pamela Dorman Books), which kept me glued to the page and then to my earbuds (I'm giving away a copy of this novel). A lot of action and contemporary environmental issues to boot (Blackstone Audio, read by Marguerite Gavin).
I'm falling a bit behind on my print reading because I have declared 2014 to be my year of decluttering the house. So while I sift through drawers and closets and bookshelves, I'm listening to an audio instead of reading in print. Nevertheless, here are three books I finished recently.
After completing all the Jack of Fables spin-off books, I gave the Fables series a rest. Now I'm back to what's left of Fabletown and the Fable farm. Fables: The Great Fables Crossover, by Bill Willingham (Vertigo) and a host of artists, was not my favorite in the series. I'm glad that the Literals seem to be dealt with and Jack is no longer the star. I can't wait to get back to more of Bigby and Snow. I loved Karen Perry's The Innocent Sleep (Henry Holt), a mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing about the reliability of the narrators and the nature of a marriage. The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson is another winner from Amy Einhorn. It's set in the South after World War II; the world is not necessarily a pretty place for returning black veterans. Look for an upcoming Imprint Friday about this one.
Movies and TV
I have a ton of movies to review because we went on a marathon earlier this month and watched about a half dozen good ones. We have also been watching some great television. The first two we streamed, the third we're watching weekly
We were late to jump on the Longmire (A&E) bandwagon, but once it became available for streaming, we were hooked. We raced through season one and are looking forward to the day that season two is released for streaming. The setting, the story lines, the characters, the actors: all will draw you in. We just finished season one of The Vikings (History Channel). Wow! We love everything about this show. Fortunately we have to wait only a couple of weeks before season two starts up live. Finally, if you haven't been watching True Detective (HBO), then you've been missing out on some of the best television there is. I can't begin to summarize this mesmerizing miniseries (a mystery within a mystery set in the South), but Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are simply outstanding.
In the Stacks
The first quarter of the year is filled with so many great books, I hope I can put aside my decluttering for some quiet reading time. Here are just three that are near the top of my list.
Elizabeth Blackwell's While Beauty Slept is a fairy tale retelling, one of my favorite genres. It's gotten nothing but rave reviews and I can't wait to see for myself. Because it's an Amy Einhorn book, you'll see this in an Imprint Friday. This Dark Road to Mercy is Wiley Cash's latest (William Morrow) and involves children, hard times, and a questionable father. What I Had before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell (Harper) is about families and loss and is set on the Jersey Shore. I have the audiobook of this all set to go.