23 October 2017

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Sound Recommendations; Or a Pick and a Pan

Sound Recommendations: Audbook winners and losersI really need to remember that the week after taking a four-day weekend is not the time to schedule appointments. It sure cuts into one's reading time. Still, I managed to finish two audiobooks, while sitting in waiting rooms and starting the sad business of putting the deck and yard in shape for the winter.

Every year it's a guessing game of when to put away the deck furniture. We want to pack up the cushions and rug when they're dry, and we like to do the work when the weather is still mild. On the other hand. we don't want to jump the gun and miss out on last gorgeous fall days.

What I Listened to Last Week

Review: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas (audiobook)The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas (Flatiron, Aug. 29): Wolas's debut novel contains stories within a story. We meet Ashby, a twenty-something world-famous short story author who vows never to marry or have children. She, of course, does both, burying her writer side while her two boys grow up and her husband becomes a renown eye surgeon. When her sons are finally grown, she experiences a betrayal that sends her to India, where she rediscovers her passions. The main plot line is interrupted by Joan's short stories and how those works affect her or her readers. We also read parts of her novels, which she writes in secret, hiding the manuscripts from her husband and sons. Although Joan's life story was mildly interesting, I quickly grew tired of her short stories and her reluctance to admit to her family and agent that she was still writing after the birth of her older son. In addition, I didn't really buy what happens to her in India (being vague = no spoilers). The unabridged audiobook (Macmillan Audio; 19 hr, 20 min) was read by Gabra Zackman and Michael Dickes. Zachman met the challenges of this novel quite well, distinguishing among characters, rendering recognizable accents, and signaling the main plot from Joan's work. Dickes performed the few sections told from one of Joan's son's viewpoints. Although his delivery wasn't quite as smooth as Zackman's, he did a fine job. Unfortunately, the narrators couldn't save Resurrection of Joan Ashby for me, and I would have DNF'd it if I weren't listening for a freelance assignment. (More in AudioFile magazine.)

Review: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman (audiobook)The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman (Knopf Books for Young Readers, Oct. 19): The Belle Sauvage is the first installment of a prequel series to Pullman's famous His Dark Materials trilogy, and oh what a story it was. The book starts when Lyra is a baby and is given to an Oxford priory to be raised in safety by nuns. Malcolm, the tavern keeper's son, sometimes helps the nuns and is almost immediately enthralled with Lyra, though his parent's young employee Alice is less so. Then there are the bad guys (many of whom we meet again when Lyra is older) who want the girl for their own purposes: to kill her? to manipulate the prophecy that says she will change the world? for some undisclosed reason? All we need is the biggest flood in England's history to set up this action-packed, wonderfully written story of how Lyra survives both rising waters and her enemies. I loved seeing the characters in the years before the other books take place, and Malcolm especially stole my heart. If you are a Pullman fan, I promise you will not be disappointed. The unabridged audiobook (Listening Library; 13 hr, 7 min) was read by Michael Sheen, who was absolutely brilliant. I loved the emotional layer of his performance: I really felt Malcolm's love, fear, hate, confusion, and curiosity. Sheen also nailed the characters' personalities, from Alice's toughness to Malcolm's father's firm gentleness. But it's in the action scenes that Sheen really excelled. I was on the edge of my seat, spellbound, as I was listening to how Malcolm and Alice protect Lyra from kidnapping, drowning, and starving, all the while fighting floodwaters and trying to find their own strengths. My only complaint: why oh why do I have to wait for the next book in the series? (review copy provided by the publisher)

Notes on Television

  • We watched Tin Star (Amazon), which I found a little too weird for my tastes, although Mr. BFR really liked it. I got tired of the flashbacks, and I didn't totally understand what was going on. The last episode ended on a cliffhanger, so I guess we'll be watching the next season.
  • Ray Donovan has only one more episode to go. Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of the same old things, week after week: generally Mickey or another family member messes up, and Ray tries to make it right. I liked the show better when the main focus was on Ray's work as a Hollywood fixer.
  • Outlander: Finally Claire and Jamie are reunited. I'm not yet wowed by the two characters who play a semi-grownup Fergus and Young Ian, neither of whom look or act like the characters I fell in love with in the books. Granted they had bit parts in the latest episode, still I think it will take me a while to get used to them.


Susie | Novel Visits 10/23/17, 8:50 AM  

Initially I thought Joan Ashby sounded good, but I've seen too many reviews like yours where it didn't quite work. I've had a glut of those, so I think I'll skip it.

I'm jealous that you've been able to enjoy your deck this long. We lost that kind of weather a couple weeks ago.

bermudaonion 10/23/17, 9:07 AM  

I'll probably pick up The Book of Dust for Vance for Christmas - he loved Pullman's work when he was growing up.

We leave our deck furniture out all year.

rhapsodyinbooks 10/23/17, 10:15 AM  

I have never read Philip Pullman! I have felt intimidated over all the world building. But I should just do it!....

Vicki 10/23/17, 10:34 AM  

I haven't seen any of those shows. I never watched Gilmore Girls when it was on and finally decided to watch it on Netflix. I was hooked from the first few minutes. I watched it every chance I got and then watched A Year in the Life. I loved GG! Now I can start watching all my shows that just recently came back on.

Majanka Verstraete 10/23/17, 10:47 AM  

The Book of Dust is interesting. I hope you enjoy reading this week.

My It's Monday! What Are You Reading? post.

Laurel-Rain Snow 10/23/17, 10:51 AM  

I'm curious about The Book of Dust...and as for TV shows, I thought Ray Donovan sounded good, but by the time I was interested, it was too far into the series. Maybe if it shows up on Netflix or some other streaming service, I'll try it.

Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

Kathy Martin 10/23/17, 11:24 AM  

I read the His Dark Materials series so many years ago that I am sure I would miss the clues about future villains in the prequel. It does sound good though. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Elizabeth 10/23/17, 2:38 PM  

I keep seeing BOOK OF DUST.

Nice week for you.

Thanks for coming by my blog earlier.

Sue Jackson 10/23/17, 7:16 PM  

Sorry to hear Joan Ashby wasn't a hit - I've been hearing a lot about it and it sounded intriguing!

So excited to hear about the new Phillip Pullman prequel!! I loved the trilogy. Thanks for the heads up!


Book By Book

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 10/23/17, 7:58 PM  

I love it when I see a book that you wildly recommend. It makes me want to go out and buy it now.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 10/23/17, 9:33 PM  

OMG - Joan's writing drove me insane. Ruined the book for me. I skimmed all those sections in the second half. Why would an editor choose to leave all that in?? Especially given how long that book is?!

pussreboots 10/23/17, 11:43 PM  

I hope by next summer to actually have deck furniture. Come see what I'm reading

Mystica 10/24/17, 9:17 AM  

Book of Dust totally new to me. I was glad to read about it.

Katherine P 10/24/17, 9:33 PM  

I think I'll skip The Resurrection of Joan Ashby. A lot of the conflict seems a bit of her own making and I'm listening to a book right now that has a lot of that and it's driving me mad! I'm curious about The Book of Dust. It sounds like quite the adventure!

Daryl 10/26/17, 9:21 AM  

thanks .. i am not sure i want to go back into Lyra's past .. maybe ....

as for Outlander ... i am trying to watch slowly so its not over before the next season kicks in .. i know i am crazy ...
AND i was surprised to see Murtaugh still alive in prison w/Jamie .. i was sure he died at Culloden ...

Nise' 10/26/17, 9:22 PM  

We timed the yard work and putting away the deck furniture perfectly. Can't wait to get to Season 3 of Outlander!

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