26 February 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: The Escape Reading Edition

2 good audiobooksRain, rain, and more rain kept me inside for the bulk of last week. Ugh. I was beginning to feel stir-crazy. Maybe it was a good thing, though, because I have so much work to do.

The second week of the Olympics played in the background, but neither of us seemed to be very committed to watching. We intermittently turned to the news or let the games play while we read or did other things.

I'm looking forward to getting back to our regular shows or perhaps streaming an Oscar-nominated movie or two.

Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel HartmanTess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (Listening Library; 16 hr, 15 min) read by Katherine McEwan. This fantasy is set in the world Hartman created for Seraphina (my review here), but works absolutely as a standalone because it focuses on one of Seraphina's half-sisters. Tess has always been strong willed and an independent thinker, neither of which is a becoming characteristic of upper-society women. Despite her rebelliousness, she had a fairly sheltered upbringing, which left her vulnerable to a young man's attentions. Consequently, her family plots to place Tess in a nunnery. Needless to say, she runs away from home, ill-prepared but determined to survive on her own terms, whatever it takes. Through her adventures on the road and with the help of friends, both old and new, she finds her inner strength and discovers her true self. I enjoyed Tess's medieval-type world, which is inhabited by humans, dragons, and other creatures. The court politics and general societal details were believable and consistent, and the interplay between myth and science was well done. I liked the themes of self-reliance, friendship, prejudice, and redemption. Tess gets out scrapes a little too conveniently, but I was invested in her journey and rooted for her to find happiness and peace. The book does not end on a cliff-hanger, but there are clearly more Tess adventures to come. Audiobook notes: McEwan's characterizations and dialogue are strong, and her performance is expressive, capturing Tess's wide range of emotions. She has tendency to fall into a rhythmic cadence, but I was swept up in the audiobook nonetheless. (review copy)

Review: Death of a Celebrity by M. C. Beaton Death of a Celebrity by M. C. Beaton (Blackstone Audio, 5 hr, 19 min), read by Graeme Malcolm. I can't believe it's been a year since I read my last Hamish Macbeth mystery. This is the 17th installment in the series, and although you could start here, it's really best to read these mysteries from the beginning. Hamish Macbeth is a village constable in the Scottish highlands. He's smart and a good detective and has successfully avoided promotion. This is a good thing; he doesn't want to move to the city, and he doesn't do well with precinct rules and regulations. These books aren't considered to be cozies because Hamish isn't an amateur sleuth, but the stories are as much about the easygoing copper and his village as they are about the murder investigations. In this outing, a tell-all television series is set to be filmed in Lochdubh, which has the townsfolk both excited and nervous. It seems that everybody has a long-buried secret he or she doesn't want exposed on national TV. When the snotty host of the series is found dead in her car from carbon monoxide poisoning, Hamish doesn't believe it was suicide, despite the hose running from the exhaust pipe. Only after two more deaths, does Hamish finally tease out the facts of the case to solve the mystery. These books are light, short, and fun. They are great escape reading and the plots are deceptively complex. Plus I love the setting and the people in Hamish's life. As all good series, the characters grow and change and their relationships deepen. I had some issues with the last installment, but fortunately, Beaton--and Hamish--are back to form in this book. Audiobook notes: I will be forever saddened that Davina Porter (with her lovely Scottish accent) no longer reads this series. I'm trying my best to get over this because there's nothing really wrong with Malcolm's performance. His accent isn't as engaging, but his pace and understanding of the characters are fine. I'll get used to him. (personal copy)

19 comments:

Daryl 2/26/18, 9:37 AM  

i am so over the Olympics pre-empting network TV .. but we managed to entertain ourselves with a few good series on Amazon Prime, Syfy and Netflix ...

Sherry Fundin 2/26/18, 9:38 AM  

I kinda feel the same way about the Olympics and did the same thing. Our weather has been hit or miss and I have been trying to fit some outdoor work in. Summer will be here before we know it.
sherry @ fundinmental

bermudaonion 2/26/18, 9:42 AM  

I bet my sister would love Tess of the Road.

rhapsodyinbooks 2/26/18, 9:43 AM  

I liked Tess of the Road but not as much as Seraphina, which doesn't really mean TOTR isn't good!

Kathy Martin 2/26/18, 9:54 AM  

I did pay closer attention when the hockey games were on but, otherwise, the Olympics were in the background for me too. I don't understand curling at all but was delighted when the Americans, most of them from my hometown, won the Gold. I also enjoyed Tess of the Road even though I began by not liking Tess very much. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Laurel-Rain Snow 2/26/18, 10:55 AM  

The way that the Olympics "hogged" the networks just annoyed me...the same way those news conferences do when they barge in as if they own the networks. LOL. And yes, some news interruptions are important...but not when That Guy takes over.

Enough said.

Death of a Celebrity piques my interest.

Enjoy your week, and thanks for visiting my blog.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 2/26/18, 1:40 PM  

I've been a big fan of the M.C. Beaton Agatha Raisin series. I've never read Hamish Macbeth.

Vicki 2/26/18, 2:33 PM  

I tried a few times to watch the Olympics but caught it both times when skating or curling was on, neither of which I like much. I mainly like Bobsleigh, Skiing, Skeleton, & Snowboard.

Sue Jackson 2/26/18, 6:58 PM  

I didn't really watch any of the Olympics, though I caught a recap each morning on the Today show to see what I had missed!

We are very glad our regular shows are coming back this week :) Though during the Olympics hiatus, we watched 11/22/63 on DVD (we both loved the novel), and it was SO GOOD!!! Completely immersive - I can't get it out of my mind now. Sorry it is over.

Looks like some good listening variety for you last week - hope you enjoy your books & better weather this week!

Sue

Book By Book

Mae Travels 2/26/18, 8:03 PM  

The Olympics used to hold my attention somewhat more than they did this year, but I still enjoy figure skating, which seems to become more technically dangerous every time. I think there should be deductions for wardrobe failures.

Despite your recommendation, the thought of starting at the beginning of a series of 17 mysteries is just too fatiguing. Maybe in another life!

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Martha Eskuchen 2/26/18, 8:31 PM  

We didn't watch Olympics either.
Tess on the Road sounds good. I really need to consider starting Beaton at the beginning.
Hope your rain stops soon. Either way - continue your Happy Reading!

pussreboots 2/26/18, 8:36 PM  

Tess of the Road is on my wishlist. My weekly update

AJ Sterkel 2/26/18, 8:55 PM  

I’ve had the Olympics on in the background, too. Now I have no idea what to watch. Back to nature shows and reality TV, I guess.

Aj @ Read All The Things!

Greg 2/26/18, 9:11 PM  

I did the same thing with the Olympics- we mostly had it on in the background as well. Caught a few fun events that way (usually when the announcers got excited it was my cue to look up- lol) but otherwise- yeah didn't watch real heavily.

Tess of the Road does look intriguing, and that cover makes me interested as well!

Nise' 2/26/18, 9:39 PM  

I loved watching the Olympics, but am glad to be back to regular programming. I would be so sad about Davina Porter too, she is one of my all time favorites.

Nan 2/26/18, 10:43 PM  

I've read 26 of the Hamish books, and I think I'm done, but then I may find them calling to me again sometime!

Kailana 3/1/18, 8:48 PM  

I didn't watch the Olympics at all and that is very very weird for me. I am not sure what is up with me. lol I have been watching a lot more TV which is also very weird for me. I normally wouldn't notice stuff going off the air because of the Olympics, but I did this year.

Donna H 3/2/18, 7:59 AM  

My reviewer MK French read and enjoyed Tess of the Road. I'm listening to an Agatha Raisin novel, but I think it's time I find another Hamish novel so I will see if the digital library has this one. Happy Reading! Donna from Girl Who Reads

Penny@Literaryhoarders 3/9/18, 9:15 AM  

Ahhh, about the Beaton - Hamish dedicated audiobook narrator....I felt the same way when my beloved Ralph Cosham passed away and felt Louise Penny's books would never, ever be the same. :-( I bought the last 3 in hardcopy format convinced I wouldn't enjoy the audiobooks any longer. However, I felt that loss and turned to the audio for A Great Reckoning. I missed having her books read to me....Robert Bathurst (Downton Abbey fame - he dumped Edith at the altar) does a nice job and it was enjoyable. No, he doesn't have the same warmth and depth for Gamache as Cosham did, but I'm getting used to him. ;-)

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