10 December 2015

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Reading at the End of the Year

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts from Beth Fish ReadsEach December, as the holidays and the end of the year come ever closer, my reading life changes. I rely even more heavily on audiobooks and turn to escape reading and favorite genres instead of literary fiction and nonfiction.

This year is turning out to be no different. I plan to spend the last three weeks of 2015 lost in fantasy worlds and puzzling out mysteries. I may turn to women's fiction and will throw in a few middle grade books for good measure. I'm also thinking about light nonfiction. In any case, I plan to go where my mood takes me.


I have a number of fantasies and cozy mysteries queued up for December listening, but wanted to mention some audiobooks that I haven't reviewed on my blog.

  • I listened to The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Penguin Audio; 10 hr, 59 min) read by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher, last month. While I enjoyed the story and thought the audiobook production to be fine, I was not wowed. I like quirky characters and trying to figure out who is telling the truth, but ultimately the book didn't live up to the hype for me.
  • I downloaded The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson (Recorded Books; 13 hr, 18 min) read by George Guidall on the off chance that my husband and I would listen to it on a recent road trip. I ended up listening on my own and really loved the production. Guidall nailed the characters, pacing, and emotions.
  • Orhan Pamuk's A Strangeness in My Mind (Random House Audio; 21 hr, 56 min) is a beautiful book that's part family saga and part tribute to Istanbul. John Lee's performance was brilliant. (My full review will appear in AudioFile magazine.)
  • I'm currently listening to Visions, the second Cainsville book by Kelley Armstrong (Penguin Audio; 15 hr, 2 min) read by Carine Montbertrand and Mozhan Marno. If you like urban fantasy, myths, and omens mixed with great characters, good humor, and plenty of action, then this series will be a good match. Montbertrand and Marno make a good team and are keeping me well entertained.
Print Books

Here are some books at the top of my holiday reading pile.

  • I can't believe I've had Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Knopf Books for Young Readers) on my bookshelves since BEA (June). I know people have been talking about this book, but I still don't know much about it. I'm going to keep it that way and go into this one blind.
  • What better way to escape the holiday stress than to sit down with Michael Connelly? The Crossing (Little, Brown) is the newest Bosch book, and I'm happy to see it features Mickey Haller too! I'll pour myself a shot of whiskey and settle in for a great read.
  • I missed Jamie Kain's The Good Sister (St. Martin's Griffin) in hardcover, but it was released in paperback just this week. The story is about three sisters and touches on some tough subjects. Not exactly fluff reading, but this emotional novel will be a good foil to my other picks.
  • I'm fascinated with the premise of J. C. Carleson's Placebo Junkies (Knopf Books for Young Readers). It's about a seventeen-year-old girl who has become a professional pharmaceutical trial volunteer. What happens when the side effects of the drugs start to manifest themselves? According to reviews, there is enough humor to offset any sadness.

I really should join Kerry's Clean Your Reader Challenge for next year. In the meantime, here's what I have loaded on my reading devices.

  • I'm almost done with Kate Morton's The Lake House (Atria), which has been taking me way too long to read. The story and the pacing are great, but I keep getting distracted by work and other activities. I should finish this in a couple of days. Loving it!
  • The Box Wine Sailors by Amy McCullough (Chicago Review Press) looks like it could be a good match for me . . . or not (ask me about my reaction to Wild). Here's the basis for this true-life story: A twenty-something couple with minimal sailing experience buy a boat unsuited for ocean travel, quit their jobs, and attempt to sail south along the Pacific coast. I'm going to give it a try.
  • Ticket to India by N. H. Senzai (Paula Wiseman Books) is a contemporary adventure set in India. Two sisters board a train, heading north to their grandmother's village. After they become separated, twelve-year-old Maya continues the trip alone. This coming-of-age story explores themes surrounding the Great Partition.
  • Christopher Buckley's The Relic Master (Simon & Schuster) promises to be a rollicking adventure set in 1517 and involving Catholic relics, the rise of Protestantism, and quirky characters. Although the themes sound serious, reviewers assure us that the humor wins out.
Have you read any of the books I'm considering for my year-end reading? If so, which ones do you recommend?


rhapsodyinbooks 12/10/15, 6:30 AM  

I am very interested to know if Illuminae would/could be made into an audio book, since so much of it is visual.

JoAnn 12/10/15, 7:44 AM  

I haven't read any of these... really need to think about the Clean Your Reader Challenge though!!

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 12/10/15, 8:25 AM  

I've heard really good things about The Lake House! And - I'm finding it hard to concentrate on anything except light stuff right now. So, I'm reading Beatriz Williams' latest...Along the Infinite Sea. Once I get through early next week, things will start to slow down for the holidays and I'll read some backlist I've been meaning to get to and start on January releases.

bermudaonion 12/10/15, 9:28 AM  

I read The Girl on the Train before all the hype and liked it a lot. I think it was probably hard to live up to all the hype it's gotten.

Katherine P 12/10/15, 9:30 AM  

I finally decided to give Girl on the Train a pass for a bit. I'm iffy on unlikable character and the more I've heard about it the less it interests me. I've gotten it a few times from the library but never seem to read it. I do love Kate Morton and can't wait to read The Lake House.

Anita LeBeau 12/10/15, 10:34 AM  

I only read Girl on the Train, and I read it early and enjoyed it. I've been in such a slump with reading but I think I'm feeling a bit better as of late, hoping to finish a couple of books before January.
Happy reading and lets not talk about my e reader or my shelves backing up! ha ha

Vicki 12/10/15, 2:25 PM  

I've read non of these, and don't even have any of them on my list to read. The Clean Your Reader Challenge sounds good to me since I have quite a few that I need to read on my Kindle.

Andi 12/10/15, 3:14 PM  

Some good-lookin' books on the horizon for you!

Belle Wong 12/10/15, 9:18 PM  

So glad to see you're enjoying the Cainsville series. I'm halfway through Illuminae and really enjoying it.

Heather Fargis 12/10/15, 9:45 PM  

I haven't read any of them, but The Box Wine Sailors sounds fantastic! I was divided on Wild too, so I hope this one falls on the good side.

Karen White 12/11/15, 9:47 AM  

I'm with you re: GIRL ON THE TRAIN. My book club read it this summer. I don't get why its on so many "Best of" lists as it seemed a bit derivative.

Daryl 12/11/15, 9:50 AM  

I am antsy waiting on book 3 of the Cainesville series ... i downloaded The Cold Dish a while back, i started it and then somehow lost interest ... thats unusual for me so i think i will give it another shot ...

and now i am really curious about Illuminae ... really curious

maria helena 12/11/15, 2:18 PM  

I really enjoyed The Lake House.

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