01 January 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: 6 Books to Finish Out the Year

6 Books to Finish Out the Year
Happy New Year, everyone! New year, fresh starts, second chances.

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted reviews (thanks to the holidays), but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading and listening. Because many of you are taking advantage of the day--watching football, taking down the Christmas decorations, sleeping in, getting organized for the new year--and because I have a number of books to talk about, I'm going to try to keep my thoughts briefer than normal.

I'm looking forward to getting back to the rhythm of regular life.

My Last Books of 2017
  • 6 Books to Finish Out the YearLibrary at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy (Harper Perennial, Oct. 2017) was a fun, light book about a middle-aged woman finding the courage to step out of her comfort zone. I liked the Irish small-town setting and was happy that the plot had a twist or two to keep things interesting. This contemporary story would appeal to readers who like women's fiction and/or quirky characters. The unabridged audiobook (Dreamscape Media; 9 hr, 42 min) was nicely read by Emma Lowe, whose light accent added to the atmosphere of the novel. (full audiobook review will be published by AudioFile magazine)
  • I can't tell you how much I loved The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (Putnam, Jan. 9, 2018). The novel explores what happens after four New York children visit a fortune teller who tells each of them, privately, the exact date of his or her death. The story reveals how each sibling's life plays out and how each is affected by the old woman's predictions. I couldn't put this book down and ended up both reading and listening because I just had to know what happened to the characters and how the choices they made were influenced by their childhood visit to the Romany. Maggie Hoffman narrated the audiobook (Penguin Audio; 11 hr, 29 min) beautifully. I liked her pacing and her characterizations and appreciated the fact that she didn't foreshadow the ending. Don't miss this one! (review copies provided by the publisher)
  • 6 Books to Finish Out the YearI had the good fortune to meet Danish author Sara Blaedel a few years ago at BookExpo America. Although I liked her and I love Denmark, for some reason I never got around to reading her books. This month, the first three books in her Louise Rick series are being re-issued in print and audio under new titles. I took this as a sign to finally read Blaedel. The Night Women (Grand Central Publishing, Jan. 2, 2018) was an intense mystery that involved abandoned babies, young women in trouble, and human trafficking from eastern European countries. The characters and plotting were tight, and I liked mix of perspectives: Louise's take as a police officer and her BFF Camilla's thoughts as a newspaper crime reporter. I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Hachette Audio; 10 hr, 21 min) read by Christine Lakin. I normally really like Lakin, but her performance this time was a miss for me. The book takes place in Copenhagen and involved Danish and Slavic characters, but Lakin's accents were British, American, and maybe Irish. I would have rather had no accents than a mix of accents that made no particular sense. Because I requested all three audiobooks from the audiobook publisher, I thought I'd give Lakin a second chance with The Running Girl, but after a couple of hours, I decided to set it aside and wait to read the novel in print. I was caught up in the mystery of The Running Girl and am looking forward to finding out how it all plays out..
  • 6 Books to Finish Out the YearI continued with my re-read of Genevieve Cogman's Invisible Library series by listening to The Masked City (Audible Studios; 10 hr, 39 min), read by Susan Duerden. I know I said that I didn't love Duerden's performance of the first book in the series, but I gave her another chance. Either I became accustomed to her delivery or she improved because I listened to this audiobook straight through. If you haven't yet listened to or read this genre mash-up (alternate history, time bending, fantasy, steampunk) centered on a powerful library, you should add the books to your list. This is an adult series with adult characters and no angst-filled teenage love triangles. In this installment, our librarian hero and her not-quite human assistant face a deadly challenge. (audiobook purchased)
  • Finally, I spent all of Saturday cooking and cleaning and organizing for our annual New Year's Eve dinner party with friends. I started listening to J. D. Robb's Ceremony in Death (Brilliance; 10 hr, 32 min) in the morning and finished just as I was about to collapse for the evening. It's been several years since I listened to the first four books in the Eve Dallas series and was pleasantly surprised that I could jump right back in and not feel lost. Phew. I was equally happy to still love Susan Ericksen as narrator. She is the voice of this series. The Eve Dallas series is another one that blends genres; in this case it's romance, science fiction, and police procedural mystery. The books are set in a future New York City, and I love the characters, the technology, and the plotting. In this outing (the 5th book in the series), Eve is investigating a number of bizarre murders that may or may not involve drugs, Wiccan beliefs, devil worship, or extreme sexual practices. As always, Eve's personal life is as much of a focus as is the murder mystery, but these books are by no means cozies; there's as much violence as there is hot sex. (audiobook purchased)


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 1/1/18, 8:16 AM  

I must take a close look at The Immortalists, I think. Thank you for your thoughts about it and the other books today. I’m in a bit of a fiction slump right now, so I’m quite interested in finding a wonderful and thoughtful read like The Immortalists.

Happy New Year!

JoAnn 1/1/18, 8:56 AM  

The Immortalists sounds wonderful... on to the wish list it goes. Happy New Year!

bermudaonion 1/1/18, 10:17 AM  

I've heard a lot of good things about The Immortalists. I need to pick up a Blaedel book too. Happy New Year!

Molly 1/1/18, 10:35 AM  

Pretty sure I would have passed on the Immortalists if not for this glowing review. Now I can hardly wait to read it for myself. Happy New Year!!

Kay 1/1/18, 10:35 AM  

First of all, Happy New Year! I'm also interested in THE IMMORTALISTS and have marked it on my list. Eve Dallas - I'll tell you a little secret - this has been my year to get healthier, lose weight, and definitely step up my movement by some serious walking time. Between August-November, I did listen/reads of every single Eve Dallas book. All 40+ of them. I love that series. I'm caught up now and ready for the new one to be published later this month. And I've gotten stronger and lost 45 pounds. Those books kept me going as I walked and walked and walked. Hope your 2018 is so wonderful!

Kathy Martin 1/1/18, 10:53 AM  

Thanks for reminding me about Cogman's books. I read the first one and then got sidetracked by review books. I love the In Death series. They are "drop everything and read" titles when each new one is released. Come see my week here. Happy New Year and happy reading!

Kailana 1/1/18, 10:57 AM  

Looks like a great way to end out the year!

Laurel-Rain Snow 1/1/18, 11:47 AM  

Now I am very curious about The Immortalists. I've been noticing it, but now I'm intrigued after a closer look. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

Happy New Year!

Nise' 1/1/18, 12:02 PM  

Happy New Year. I agree, Susan is the voice the "In Death" series and I have a hard time when I listen to her narrate anything else. The Immortalists sounds like it would be a great book group selection.

Tina's Blog 1/1/18, 1:27 PM  

Happy New Year! I meant to comment a few days ago as you reviewed your year and the shorter review format you are using. I really like your short mini-reviews and have gone to that a bit more frequently on my blog as well. I'm thinking I'll be doing more of those.

Greg 1/1/18, 2:23 PM  

Happy New Year! The Sara Blaedel books look nice, I especially like that cover for The Running girl. Really sets a tone!

Vicki 1/1/18, 2:41 PM  

Happy New Year! I see a few I want to check into.

Iliana 1/1/18, 4:24 PM  

Happy New Year! I'm really curious about all of these books. I have read Sara Blaedel and have enjoyed her books so I can't wait to continue her series but some of these others are new to me. Wishing a great year of reading!

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/2/18, 2:21 PM  

Happy New Year! The Immortalists is tops on my 2018 TBR list.

pussreboots 1/2/18, 5:39 PM  

Nice selection of books. Happy New Year. Come see what I'm reading.

Daryl 1/3/18, 2:19 PM  

just finished book 3 of Eve Dallas series and thankfully 'Eve' and her angst have matured so that the narrator is no longer bugging me

and i am heading over to Audible to get Masked City because those are my fav genre mash ups!

Les in Oregon 1/11/18, 2:11 PM  

I just placed a hold at my library for The Immortalists and The Library at the Edge of the World. Both sound like winners!

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