16 January 2019

Wordless Wednesday 522

Fungus, 2019

Click image to enlarge. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Click for more

14 January 2019

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: The Good and the Bad

3 book reviews from Beth Fish ReadsHappy Monday. Looks like winter is finally here--I'm happy to report that we have a little snow and the temperatures have dropped. I actually like snow and don't mind the cold. . . . At least for a little while. By the end of February, however, you'll hear me whining about the weather.

I didn't have a lot of reading time this week, because we spent way too much time watching the news. On Saturday we took a break to watch a movie, which turned out to be bust.

Hold the Dark (2018) is set in Alaska and stars Alexander SkarsgÄrd (from True Blood fame) and Jeffrey Wright (from Westworld fame); it's billed as a mystery. It sounded like something we would love. Sigh. I'm not quite sure why we bothered to see it all the way through, because by 15 minutes we could tell this was definitely a B-movie. I've embedded the trailer at the end of this post, but trust me, just give this a pass.

Review of Lewis Man by Peter MayLewis Man by Peter May (Quercus, 2014): This is the second book in May's Lewis trilogy, set in the Outer Hebrides and featuring Fin Macleod who left his native Lewis Island to attend university. After dropping out, he joined the Edinburgh police force, eventually becoming a homicide detective. Note that I won't spoil this book, but may lightly spoil the first book, The Blackhouse, which I reviewed last month. In this installment, Fin has quit his job, signed his divorce papers, and returned to Lewis to restore his parents' croft. In the meantime, the body of a young man is discovered in the island's peat bog, and evidence points to a murder in the 1950s. The victim may have ties to people Fin knows from his youth, and the ex-cop can't help but follow through on the leads (though he keeps in contact with the local authorities). As with the first in the trilogy, this book is as much about Scotland and the Hebrides as is it about the murder. Fin's personal life also plays a major role. May's ability to create an atmosphere and to vividly convey his characters and the setting is always a pleasure. I think I'm going to spend this year catching up on May's backlist and maybe even doing some rereading--especially on audio. The unabridged audiobook (Hachette Audio; 10 hr, 54 min) was read by Peter Forbes, who (yay!) reads the whole trilogy. I love his accent and particularly appreciate hearing the Gaelic. Forbes has a real feel for May's style, and this is one of those author-narrator pairings that is, in a word, perfect. (Print and audio copies provided by the publishers)

Review of The Waiter by Matias FaldbakkenThe Waiter by Matias Faldbakken (Gallery, 2018; translated by Alice Menzies): I guess I should have known that a book compared to Remains of the Day (a book I ditched early on) would not be a good match for me, but because this story takes place in an Oslo restaurant, I was hoping for good food references and the hustle and bustle of the waiter's life. Instead, this was a quiet story of a career waiter in a European-style cafe/restaurant and his interactions with the establishment's regulars. Every day, the same people show up at the same time and are seated at the same tables, in our waiter's section. There's an actor, an elderly widow, a rich man and his companions, and the waiter's childhood friend with his daughter. All chugs along like clockwork, until the rich man invites a beautiful young woman to join his usual guests. From there, things seem to fall apart. Our usually impeccable waiter messes up an order, injures his hand, and becomes too involved in the customers' lives. This novel has won tons of praise and buzz, but it didn't work for me. It's the second book this year (only 14 days long) in which the ending made me say: "Huh? That's it?" You'll probably love The Waiter, I'm sure I'm in the very small minority. The unabridged audiobook (Simon & Schuster Audio; 5 hr, 31 min) was wonderfully read by Jacques Roy. Roy does a really good job projecting the waiter's inner life and his thoughts about the diners, the other restaurant employees, and the changes the woman brings to his routine. I sound like a broken record, but it's true: a great performance can't save a book that just doesn't click. (review audio copy provided for a freelance assignment)

Review of The Paper Menagerie by Ken Lui“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” from The Paper Menagerie by Ken Lui (Saga Press, 2016): For this week’s short story, I picked the opening piece from Lui’s collection of speculative fiction stories. This story fits into the science fiction sphere and is written as a description of the different ways books are written and used by beings across the universe. I loved the premise of the story and especially was intrigued by the creatures whose books were kind of like recordings, allowing the “reader” to hear the voice of the author, almost literally. Lui’s writing is incredibly quotable, and I marked several possible passages to share in this story, though it’s only about nine pages long. Here’s one:

They have always had a complicated relationship with writing, the Hesperoe. Their great philosophers distrusted writing. A book, they thought, was not a living mind yet pretended to be one. It gave sententious pronouncements, made moral judgments, described purported historical facts, or told exciting stories . . . yet could not be interrogated like a real person, could not answer its critic or justify its accounts.
True, yes? The Paper Menagerie is going to remain on my short story list; I’m sure I’ll end up reading Lui’s entire collection. (review copy from the publisher)

And here’s the promised trailer for Hold the Dark:

Click for more

12 January 2019

Weekend Cooking: The Trip to Spain (Movie)

Review of The Trip to SpainWay back in 2013, I wrote about The Trip, a funny mockumentary about two friends who hit the road to sample food in northern England and muse about all things middle-age, movies, and more.

Although I missed comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's second film, in which they travel to Italy, I'm glad I took the time to see the third in their projected 6-part series. It's true that The Trip to Spain (directed by Michael Winterbottom) doesn't offer too much new, but that didn't matter me.

Coogan and Rob and are clearly having fun, and their banter about movies and actors and their delightful impersonations still made me laugh. Food doesn't have quite the center stage in this film as it did in The Trip, but many of the scenes are shot in restaurants, with cutaways to busy professional kitchens.

The cinematography and Spain's spectacular scenery often stole the spotlight. If you hadn't had Spain on your list of destinations, this movie will correct that lapse. The countryside and small towns are simply beautiful.

The Trip to Spain may have lacked a little in the foodie-porn department and may have been a kind of rehash of the duo's earlier work, but that didn't stop me from laughing at their antics, impressions of the famous, and oohing and aahing at the scenery.

Take some time to see at least one of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's movies; I bet you have some some laughs. Here's the trailer for The Trip to Spain.

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

NOTE: Mr. Linky sometimes is mean and will give you an error message. He's usually wrong and your link went through just fine the first time. Grrrr.

Click for more

11 January 2019

Off the Shelf; Or What's New in My Corner of the World 1

Off the Shelf at Beth Fish ReadsWe're two weeks into the new year, and I already like things better on this side of the calendar. My working life is in good shape, the house is still in order, and we're back to healthful eating. All those things make me happy.

I'm experimenting today with a more personal kind of post. The format is a work-in-progress, but I decided to jump right in. My usual roundups and other book-related posts have not gone away. This "Off the Shelf" series will appear only every few weeks--at least that's my current plan.

Oh, and if the tag "Off the Shelf" is stepping on someone's toes, I apologize profusely. It's all I could come up with. I'm not sure I'm married to the flower photo, but it was conveniently on my phone.

Book quote of the week that made me smile:

It's never too early for a wee dram.
(From Peter May's Lewis Man, which I should finish on audio tonight)

Thoughts on Travelers the TV seriesTelevision series I'm currently addicted to: Travelers on Netflix. I gave the show a try last weekend when I had a night to myself and promptly watched the first three episodes back to back. I love time-travel stories anyway (queue Outlander and Time Traveler's Wife), and this series is action packed, a little mysterious, and totally addictive.

Movies I'm going to review: I'm lucky enough to sometimes have access to screeners and review copies of movies and series, and after the Golden Globes awards, I checked Fox Home Entertainment and was happy to see that I have The Favorite and Bohemian Rhapsody in my queue as well as The Hate U Give. Yes, I'm always way behind in my movies.

A mistake that turned into a blessing: Although I pretty much abandoned my bullet journal in June last year, hope springs eternal. I bought a new journal and am going to try again--for the fourth year. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I'm such a journal failure. Anyway, when I opened my new Leuchtturm1917, I discovered that I had ordered a grid journal instead of a dot one. My first reaction was OH NO! But since I had already pulled the plastic off, I decided to go with it. I know this sounds stupid, but I think the grids may be a turning point for me. I love it!

Thoughts on Koss BT232i Wireless FitClipsLife-changing discovery of the year (11 days in): A few months ago I finally had to say good-bye to my iPhone 6. The battery no longer held a charge, but worse my speakers were starting to crap out on me. I totally abused those speakers, considering that I listen to audiobooks every single second I can. I didn't want a new iPhone because I needed that earbud jack. First, I have small ears, and there is only one style of earbuds or headphones that I ever found to be comfortable, and they use a jack. Second, I really didn't want yet another thing I had to charge each night. Third, I couldn't face the tragedy of having my earbuds lose charge partway through a walk. Still, I had to get a new phone.

So I ordered my new iPhone (if you're interested in which model I got and why, ask and I'll write about that next time) and an adapter so I could listen through my trusted earbuds. I was so disappointed: not only does the adapter affect the sound but it adds extra length and weight to the cord and a second place for the buds to inadvertently come unplugged. Enter some research and the discovery that my favorite earbuds come in a Bluetooth model. Now add in the after-Christmas sales.

OMG, where I have been all these years? Yes, the sound was so incredibly improved (even for my cheapo favs), but the magic moment occurred when I was listening to a book while cooking and--without thinking--ran upstairs to get something. Suddenly I realized that I could still hear my book, even though my phone was downstairs! Holy cow! Then there was the time I went to take something out of the oven and realized I didn't have to first make sure the plastic-coated cord was out of the way. My life has changed, and I'm never going back! In fact, I'm going to order a second pair, so I can take an extra set with me on my walks, just in case. Product: Koss BT232i Wireless FitClips (totally unsponsored; just a happy customer)

What's new for you in 2019?

Click for more

09 January 2019

Wordless Wednesday 521

A Winter Walk, 2019

Click image to enlarge. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Click for more


All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2019. All rights reserved.



To The Blogger Guide, Blogger Buster, Tips Blogger, Our Blogger Templates, BlogU, and Exploding Boy for the code for customizing my blog. To Old Book Illustrations for my ID photo. To SEO for meta-tag analysis. To Blogger Widgets for the avatars in my comments and sidebar gadgets. To Review of the Web for more gadgets. To SuziQ from Whimpulsive for help with my comments section. To Cool Tricks N Tips for my Google +1 button.

Quick Linker



  © Blogger template Coozie by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP