14 August 2017

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: The Eclectic Edition

This month is an exciting one for sky watchers. Although it was too cloudy to seem much of the pleiades meteor shower on Friday night (which was supposed to be the peak viewing time), we did go out on Saturday night and were able to see several shooting stars before the clouds moved in again. Next week is, of course, the eclipse.

In other news, I spent most of the week researching a new laptop (PC), and I think I'm now ready to place my order. It's always such a difficult decision because whatever I buy, I'll be using 10 to 12 hours a day for 3 to 5 years. My research took up most of my reading time, but I still managed to complete three very different books.

What I Read

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street Books, 2014): I've been meaning to read this psychological thriller for a while now, so was very happy that it was the summer selection for my postal book club. For a college project, Joe interviews a dying convicted murderer, who has always insisted on his innocence. During the course of their conversations, Joe begins to believe the old man. But the more he digs into the past, the more he puts himself in danger. There is much to love about this novel, from the great characters to the action. Everyone, it seems, has parts of their lives they'd like to hide from the public, and Joe himself is no exception. Besides the murder case, themes include friendships, family, PTSD, and autism. Highly recommended and deserving of all its many awards.

Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan (Del Rey, July 2017): The newest installment in the epic fantasy series Legends of the First Empire is everything Sullivan fans have come to expect. There are several plot lines in this book, but all are leading to the seemingly unavoidable war between the humans and elves, and even dwarfs are entering the conflict. First, we have the elves who are more concerned with rebellion among their own than they are with weak and powerless humans. Next, we have the humans, who are trying to band together, to catch up technologically, and to learn to fight. The final group consists of a handful of human women and dwarf men who undertake a dangerous journey. I love this universe and can't wait until the next book comes out. The audiobook (Recorded Books; 20 hr, 2 min) was read by Tim Gerard Reynolds, who is the absolute best voice for Sullivan's work. He's great at picking up the personalities of the characters and delivers both the action and the humor with perfect timing.

Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright (Henry Holt, February 2017): I picked this audiobook based on several recommendations of trusted friends and because it is so absolutely up my alley. This is a nonfiction account of the major plagues that have affected humankind from Roman times to the present. Some of the diseases covered are the black plague, smallpox, leprosy, and the Spanish flu. Wright's focus is on the ways government, society, and contemporary medical practitioners dealt with the horrors of incurable sickness that affected the masses. You might think this could be dry stuff, but you'd be very, very wrong. I was utterly fascinated with things like the exploding frog cure for bubonic plague and nose reconstruction for syphilis. I didn't realize the classic movie The Red Shoes had a foundation in a real disease, and I didn't know the behind-the-scenes history of the polio vaccine. I loved Wright's sense of humor and the many references to pop culture, television, movies, and books. The unabridged audiobook (Blackstone; 7 hr, 43 min) was read by Gabra Zackman. I think this is my first experience with Zackman, who nailed this book. I loved her conversational tone, which perfectly fit Wright's writing style; the way she signaled quotes from the running narrative; and her delivery of both the humor and the gruesome. One of my favorite books of the year.

Giveaways

I have a great giveaway going on now for Big Little Lies: one person will get a Blu-Ray/digital download of the fabulous HBO series plus a copy of the book. Click the link for more information. Tomorrow I'll have another giveaway--this one for a collection of short stories you won't want to miss. Note that both giveaways are for people with USA mailing addresses only.

21 comments:

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 8/14/17, 7:36 AM  

Good luck with the laptop search!

bermudaonion 8/14/17, 8:54 AM  

Buying any big ticket item is stressful for me.

I loved The Life We Bury too.

Lindsey 8/14/17, 9:53 AM  

Get Well Soon sounds so good. I should check if my library has the audiobook, although I've had terrible luck lately with my audiobooks going back to the library before I finish listening to them!

Kathy Martin 8/14/17, 10:01 AM  

Nice variety of books. What kind of laptop did you pick? Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Sherry Fundin 8/14/17, 10:21 AM  

Saw some meteors, but couldn't get any photos. Looking forward to the eclipse.
sherry @ fundinmental

Laurel-Rain Snow 8/14/17, 11:07 AM  

Good luck finding the right laptop....so important to those of us who write and blog.

I like the look of The Life We Bury. Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

Susie | Novel Visits 8/14/17, 12:45 PM  

I hate making decisions about things like computers, but I must say I love my MacBook. It's definitely the best laptop I've ever had. (Though I think your daily use is just a ted higher than mine!)

JoAnn 8/14/17, 3:18 PM  

Get Well Soon is already on my audio wish list, but I'm moving it to the top now!

Sue Jackson 8/14/17, 7:24 PM  

3-5 years for a computer? Wow, my MacBook is at 7 years now! I suppose it's time for a new one, but I know the new systems are missing a key piece of software I love, so I am reluctant (not to mention the cost!) Hope you enjoy your new laptop! I know what you mean about all the time spent on it.

Glad you finally got to The Life We Bury - my husband and I both enjoyed it, as did my entire book group!

Enjoy your books this week -

Sue

2017 Big Book Summer Challenge

Yvonne 8/14/17, 7:35 PM  

Good luck with the laptop! I hope you have a great week!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 8/14/17, 7:46 PM  

With your strong recommendation, I definitely am adding the plague book to my wish list.

pussreboots 8/14/17, 8:07 PM  

Good luck with finding a computer that will serve you well for the next few years. Come see what I'm reading.

(Diane) bookchickdi 8/14/17, 8:45 PM  

I picked up The Life We Bury at BEA, I'm glad to hear you liked it.

Nise' 8/14/17, 10:06 PM  

I need a new laptop too. Which one did you pick?

Greg 8/14/17, 10:08 PM  

Good luck with picking a laptop, I think I might be in the market for one soon too. And hopefully the sky wil cooperate for the eclipse!

Age of Swords looks like a good fantasy, and Get Well Soon looks interesting.

Melinda Ott 8/15/17, 12:15 AM  

The weather didn't cooperate for us for the meteor showers and our fingers are crossed for the eclipse. Our plan is to go down the day before to stay with my brother in Salem (about an hour away, and they will have a total eclipse). However, if the weather doesn't cooperate, we're going to scrap it and go down and visit them the following weekend when the traffic will *hopefully* be gone.

rhapsodyinbooks 8/15/17, 6:02 AM  

Get Well Soon is the kind of book I would love. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Daryl 8/16/17, 8:09 AM  

glad you found a PC ... what did you end up with?


thanks for the reviews .. a few being added to the to be read list, thanks!

Heather @ Book Addiction 8/16/17, 12:37 PM  

I thought Get Well Soon was so fantastic! Reminded me of Mary Roach.

Bryan G. Robinson 8/18/17, 8:15 PM  

I've seen The Life We Bury at the library and thought about it a few times. I guess I'll actually have to read it now.

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