12 November 2015

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: The Late-Fall Edition

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: The Post-Daylight Savings Time EditionI know I'm not alone when I complain about how early night falls now that we're off Daylight Savings Time. I hate that's too dark to walk outside after work. I really need to get myself used to lunchtime exercise.

Fortunately, all is not sad around here because I'm getting ready for a long weekend in the Poconos with a group of great women. We make lace, we drink wine, we watch movies, we gab, we walk, we eat (a lot). It's one of my favorite weekends of the year, and this is the 12th November we've gotten together. So much fun!

Other news on the personal level is that I've joined the ListApp (as BethFishReads, of course). I've loved my first couple of weeks in that community -- it's a diverse group and I like the creativity, humor, honesty, support, and friendliness of the listers. (I think this is an iPhone only app.)

Audiobooks. I'm fairly caught up with audiobook reviews for my blog, but here are three audios I reviewed for AudioFile magazine (my full reviews are on their website) and one I DNF'd (did not finish).

  • I was really looking forward to listening to Fear of Dying because I was interested in Erica Jong's perspective on the sandwich years. Narrator Suzanne Toren's performance was expressive and engaging, but I found the book itself to be only okay.
  • I first heard about David Spade's memoir, Almost Interesting, at BEA this year, and I decided to take a chance because I don't really know much about his personal life. Unfortunately, I stopped listening after a couple hours. Mostly it had to do with Spade's delivery, which reminded me why I've never been a fan of his stand-up act.
  • Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott is a character-driven story about a diverse group of tenants who rent rooms in a Brooklyn brownstone. Christa Lewis's excellent narration kept my attention throughout this story of friendship, love, and family.
  •  Sophie Hannah's Woman with a Secret is a multilayered mystery involving the murder of a local celebrity and the public/private life of a suburban housewife. The audiobook is read by David Thorpe and Julia Barrie, each of whom nicely build the tension and perfectly capture the personalities of the characters.
Print Books / Ebooks. I've been working hard at editing and writing, but have nevertheless found time to keep up with my reading. Here's what I've read or am still reading; reviews will eventually appear on the blog.

  • I loved, loved, loved Susan Cheever's Drinking in America. My country has such a weird relationship with drink, and I can't wait to tell you all about it. Look for a review in a Weekend Cooking post before too long.
  • I'm about a third of the way through Kate Morton's The Lake House and haven't yet figured out how it will end. Great characters, family and personal secrets, a mystery--it's all here.
  • As you know, I love fairy tale retellings, and Sarah Prineas's Ash & Bramble is off to an interesting start. She offers a unique take on the classic godmother character and provides a behind-the-scenes perspective of the Cinderella story.
  • I haven't started M. C. Beaton's Dishing the Dirt yet, but I'm taking it with me on my weekend getaway. The Agatha Raisin books are light and fun; perfect escape reading. Look for a giveaway next week.
On the Screen. Pretty much everything we're watching this fall airs on Sunday nights. We've become masters at using the DVR and OnDemand. Here are four shows on our current list.

  • When I learned The Last Kingdom (based on a Bernard Cornwell book; see my review) was now a BBC television series, I knew I had to watch it. I've seen only the first two episodes, but I love the filming of this epic saga, and I'm looking forward to catching up with the series. In case you're wondering, The Last Kingdom is not quite as good as the History Channel's Vikings, but the two shows are telling slightly different stories.
  • Every week I ask myself this: Why is it I watch this show? The acting is fantastic, but I loathe every single character on Showtime's The Affair. I'm also often confused by the time line, because the show jumps to both the future and the past. I get so mad at these people, who are all selfish or manipulative or creepy or something bad. Yet, for some reason I can't stop watching.
  • Indian Summers takes place at the dawn of Indian independence. The mix of characters presents a variety of viewpoints and attitudes to politics, social class, entitlements, ambitions, and more as British control over the subcontinent begins to crumble. Lots of secrets and drama and scheming going on among the principal characters.
  • A few weeks ago, I wrote about the book on which the PBS series Home Fires is based. I found the book to be fascinating and had high hopes for the television show. I have to admit the first couple of episodes were a little slow, but now that the war is having a direct effect on the woman of the village, my interest in the series is picking up. If you decide to watch, my advice is to stick with it until the characters have all been introduced (two or three episodes).
Phew! Now I feel somewhat caught up and can turn my full attention to my fun weekend getaway. Note that I will have a Weekend Cooking post up, but I'm not sure that I'll have a Monday post; that's okay, right?

What have you been reading or watching?


rhapsodyinbooks 11/12/15, 6:10 AM  

I read the Jong book, not listened, but I agree it was only okay. In fact, had it not been Erica Jong, I might have liked it less than I did!

Vicki 11/12/15, 6:56 AM  

Too bad about the Spade book, when I saw the picture of it I thought "wow, I'd like to read that". But then I read your thoughts. I think I'll pass.

I haven't seen any of those shows. I'll have to check them out.

I hope you and your friends have a great time on your getaway!

JoAnn 11/12/15, 7:32 AM  

I'm so far behind on fall TV shows... too many episodes of Home Fires and Indian Summers are waiting on the DVR. Maybe a binge watching weekend soon. Will look forward to your post on Drinking in America. That sounds like an interesting book. Have fun this weekend!

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 11/12/15, 7:48 AM  

I'm loving the List App too - such random, hilarious stuff on there! I also loved Infinite Home - what gorgeous writing...I'm glad to hear such a character-driven novel whose writing is the star translated well to audio. And, I've also heard good things about The Lake House and plan to get to it at some point.

Laurie C 11/12/15, 8:51 AM  

I learned so much from this one post! I hadn't heard of the ListApp or any of the TV shows you've been watching, for example. Hope you have a great weekend!

Katherine P 11/12/15, 9:04 AM  

I've seen Home Fires listed but haven't watched it yet. I'm glad it improved after the slowness of the first episode! The Lake House is on my TBR and I'm curious about the David Spade even though he tends to irritate me on the shows I've seen him in. It sounds like a good audio. Now I have to go find out more about List App!

(Diane) bookchickdi 11/12/15, 9:05 AM  

I love Home Fires and the book just came into the shop, so I will probably pick it up. And I am obsessed with The Affair, even though I agree with you, the people are pretty self-absorbed. Enjoy your ladies' weekend, it sounds wonderful!

bermudaonion 11/12/15, 9:14 AM  

I look forward to your thoughts on Drinking in America - it's a subject I'm very interested in.

I don't know what ListApp is.

rhonda 11/12/15, 9:33 AM  

Loved Home Fires perfect masterpiece theater.really enjoying the affair an adult soap operas acting drew me in, Have a great weekend .AS a teenager I spent allot of summers at camp there loved it .For A city girl all the green was amazing,

Laurel-Rain Snow 11/12/15, 12:30 PM  

I have read and loved several books by Erica Jong, beginning with the infamous Fear of Flying. For some reason (perhaps my own fears?), I have not yet read Fear of Dying. But I've read good things about it....so I'm sure I will get to it.

I also watch The Affair on Sunday nights, and I hate the characters too...but I'm obsessed. The jumping back and forth is weird, but I guess it gives us a glimpse of what lies ahead.

Enjoy that weekend in the Poconos!

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 11/12/15, 8:05 PM  

I'm looking forward to hearing about Drinking in America too. And The Lake House is on my reading list. Just wish I had more time to sit down and read.

Nise' 11/12/15, 8:55 PM  

Have a wonderful weekend getaway! Sounds like so much fun. I just finished a book where I loathed most of the characters, but yet liked the book. The Lake House is on my want o read before the end of the year list. I just can't decide if I want to read it to listen.

Tina 11/13/15, 6:37 AM  

Ei like your update style. I did one similar a few days ago but your posts are always stylist and informative. I love the books you highlighted! I can't wait to get the Cheever book and I am a big fan of Agatha Raisin mysteries and I REALLY want The Lake House. I will be dropping anything I am reading when that one gets in to the library for me.

Loving your Instagram photos,

grammajudyb 11/13/15, 6:59 PM  

So many titles here. Now I know which one to pick up and which ones to pass by. Thanks for your thoughts.
Have fun at your weekend getaway. I'd like to see pictures of the lace you make. Is it tatted? Or crocheted? or something different?

Unknown 11/14/15, 12:12 PM  

I just added the List App, not sure if you follow me on IG but I participate in #Listersgottalist, and it combines lists and if you want to, crafting. I've enjoyed it very much.
I'm behind on all book formats but feeling better.
I'll check out the PBS show, I typically enjoy all things BBC does in the dramatic category, it amazes me they do such good work.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend away with friends....sounds like heaven!

Lisa 11/15/15, 9:36 PM  

What a bummer about the Jong book - I was interested for the same reason as you were.

Daryl 11/16/15, 10:06 AM  

this is quite a lot to take in ... thanks for all the recappage/reviews

what am i watching ... well last night we watched the latest episode of Fargo and on Saturday evening we watched the latest Black List, we record everything and then watch at our leisure ... we spread out the recorded shows so we have something to watch every night ..easy task since i am in bed by 9:30 at the latest as i am up at 5 ..

what am i reading ... well i finished the latest Lynley - Elizabeth George's wonderful British detective series ... i read two other books whose titles are eluding me and now i am going to try to finish Gibson's The Peripheral .. it was a tough nut to crack because he's a master at keeping what/where/when hard to pin down .. now i think i have it and will plow on through because in the past its been well worth it

Bryan G. Robinson 11/16/15, 3:44 PM  

As a part-time drinker (um, that doesn't sound right, does it...hmmm), I look forward to your review of Cheever's work. I'll have to look for this at the library. I'd like to try the List App, but I don't have an iPhone (whomp whomp).

As for what I'm reading, I've been making my way through the Easy Rawlins series by Walter Mosley and enjoying it. Watching? Right now, The Red Green Show as our library got the complete collection, and I'm home from work sick and really don't feel like reading much.

Sue Jackson 11/17/15, 6:50 PM  

You've been busy!

I'd like to read Kate Morton's The Lake House - I enjoyed her Forgotten Garden. And I've heard good things about Agatha Raisin books but have never read one.

Three of the four TV shows you mention are all new to me (I've seen ads for The Affair)! I will have to check them out.

Your girls weekend sounds wonderful! What a great tradition - have a fabulous time!


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