10 September 2015

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: 12 Short Takes

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts from Beth Fish ReadsStacked-Up Book Thoughts are my random notes about books I've read or listened to, movies and TV I've watched, books I'm looking forward to, and events I hope to get to.

Audiobooks: This summer has been my slowest audiobook time since the 1980s. First it rained every day, so I couldn't get out for my walk, which is prime listening time. Then we did some traveling. Then the temperatures and humidity skyrocketed, so again I've been unable to get many walks in. Fall can't get here fast enough for me.

Regardless, I still managed to get some listening in. The following books are all recommended and you'll eventually find reviews at AudioFile magazine, and here on my blog.

American Meteor, The Lost Landscape, The Girl from the Garden, A Paris Affair
  • American Meteor by Norman Lock follows the life of Stephen Moran, who witnesses or plays a part in many important historical events of the last half of the 19th century (such as the Civil War, Lincoln's assassination, the building of the railroad, Custer's Last Stand). Mark Bramhall's narration is terrific.
  • Even if you've never read a Joyce Carol Oates book before, do not miss her beautiful memoir, The Lost Landscape. All I really want to say is that it's emotional, poetic, funny, and amazing. Cassandra Campbell's performance is brilliant.
  • Parnez Foroutan's The Girl from the Garden focuses on three generations of women in a Jewish family living in Iran, set mostly in the early 20th century. The themes are family sacrifice, women's roles, marriage, motherhood, prejudice, and class divisions. Narrator Lameece Issaq nicely captured the characters' personalities.
  • Polly Stone and Simon Vance share the narration of Tatiana de Rosnay's A Paris Affair, a wonderful collection of stories, all of which feature infidelities. The circumstances and consequences of the affairs will surprise you, make you laugh, and sometimes make you angry. Stone and Vance bring a very French feel to their spot-on performances.
Books I'm Reading Now: Lately I've been reading and skimming and evaluating a ton of middle grade books for a group of roundups, which will appear on my blog next week (I hope). I am so impressed with the quality and diversity of books for young readers this year, and I can't wait to share my discoveries with you. Here are four books--two nonfiction, two fiction--I haven't reviewed yet.

White Dresses, Dr. Mutter;s Marvels, The Fall of Princes, The Golden Specific
  • White Dresses by Mary Pflum Peterson is a fascinating memoir centered her relationship with her mother. Themes involve sexuality, hording, spirituality, and mental health.
  • Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz delves into the strange but real life of one of America's surgical pioneers. Dr. Mutter's Marvels, newly out in paperback, takes us into the OR and the good doctor's fight for sterilization and anesthesia. I'm totally hooked by this story.
  • I wrote about Robert Goolrick's The Fall of Princes on Tuesday, so I'll just quickly say here that it's an emotionally complex story of a regular working man who recalls, with mixed feelings, his glory days as a Wall Street 1 percenter.
  • Thank goodness that all that I loved about S. E. Grove's first book in the Mapmaker's series is back in The Golden Specific. In fact, the second installment in this unique, time-bending, alternate history/fantasy series may be even better, as our young heroes grow and mature. I've only just begun this book, but the scent of adventure is in the air.
What I've Watched: Besides our regular shows on HBO and SHO, we finished up all the available (free) episodes for Blue Bloods, Justified, and Longmire. We don't have a current obsession, but here are four things that have appeared on our screen.

The Fall, Bitten, Wild, Lovejoy

  • If you are into creepy psychological thrillers, then you'll love The Fall starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan. A woman detective superintendent is called to Belfast to find and capture a serial killer. In the meantime, we see the killer in the act and as he lives his other life, as a husband and father. Loved!
  • I adore Kelley Armstrong, so it was a duh that I would give Bitten, starring Laura Vandervoort and Greyston Holt, a try. I haven't finished the first season yet, but the plot seems to be following the book fairly closely (or at least closely enough). The jury is still out on this: Mr. BFR is bored (but he's not into werewolves), and I'm just not convinced that the spirit of the book is there.
  • Confession: I could not get past about page 70 of Cheryl Strayed's memoir. She mostly just made me mad. But Mr. BFR is a Reese Witherspoon fan, so we watched the movie version of Wild, when it became available on HBO. Witherspoon was good, but I was still bored and still totally uninspired by Strayed's adventure.
  • I love Ian McShane and was so happy to see him on Ray Donovan this season. Then I heard he was going to have a small but important part in next season's Game of Thrones. All this made me nostalgic for my first introduction to McShane: the mystery series Lovejoy, which aired from 1986 to 1994. Antiques expert, con man, ladies' mad, and rogue -- Lovejoy was always getting into and out of scrapes, running just a few steps ahead of the creditors. Way too much fun not to rewatch.
So that's about it for me. Still praying for cooler weather but happy to have such good entertainment to keep me happy when I'm stuck inside with the A/C.


Literate Housewife 9/10/15, 7:27 AM  

Thanks for talking about American Meteor. I've been thinking a lot about Mark Bramhall and how I've been missing him lately. I'm going to pick that up. It sounds good.

I also enjoyed The Fall of Princes. There was so much emotion in that novel I didn't expect. It hit me hard and in the best way.

(Diane) bookchickdi 9/10/15, 7:29 AM  

I loved White Dresses, and Wild didn't reach me as much as it did others.

JoAnn 9/10/15, 7:43 AM  

Adding The Lost Landscape to my audio list now - thanks!

bermudaonion 9/10/15, 8:15 AM  

Carl walks with me since he retired so I get very little listening time these days. I really want to read The Lost Landscape.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 9/10/15, 8:24 AM  

I liked The Fall of Princes...and I agree it's more emotionally complex than you usually see about Wall Street debauchery. I loved the perspective of Rooney working in a store (I think it was B&N??) looking back on his prior life as if it was almost a dream.

Vicki 9/10/15, 9:48 AM  

After reading your thoughts about The Lost Landscape, I checked to see if my library has it. They don't yet, but it's on order, so I placed it in my "to read" list.

Unknown 9/10/15, 11:33 AM  

I'm glad to know you liked The Fall as much as I did. Watching the villain in his life as a husband and father really creeped me out, but I loved watching the detective put the clues together to find him. I thought she was fascinating. Based on your recommendation, I'm going to try Lovejoy.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 9/10/15, 1:08 PM  

You've reminded me that I wanted to read Dr. Mutter's Marvels! Need to see if I can get my hands on that one.

Wild was boring. LOL! I loved the book (though out of my book club I was the only one who did), but I'm glad I watched the movie alone...Scott would have scorned the entire thing.

And Cassandra Campbell is such a wonderful narrator! I'm listening to Everything I Never Told You right now and her narration is so spot on.

Katherine P 9/10/15, 3:27 PM  

Dr. Mutter's Marvels was on my list last year but I forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder! I've seen The Fall on Netflix but for some reason had dismissed it as alien related (I guess because of Gillian Anderson). It definitely sounds like my kind of show though seriously creepy! I'm just now getting back to audios. I had to take a break when the kids were out of school because there weren't enough moments I could actually focus on a story but I've really been enjoying getting back into them.

Daryl 9/13/15, 6:39 PM  

Check out Vexed on BBC on Netflix a co-worker recommended it, the male lead is Maggie Smith's son! ... and if you get Netflix you can see Longmire its moved there for its new season!

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