26 March 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: What I Read Last Week

2 audiobook reviewsIf I recall last week, I think I foolishly thought my busy season was winding down. Hahahahaha. I had one free afternoon and then suddenly I was once again almost overbooked for another two weeks.

Granted, I am not complaining. I love my work and am grateful to have good clients. But so much for finding extra reading time.

By the way, I finally finished all seven seasons of Parenthood, so I'm up for suggestions: what's one of your favorite binge-worthy shows? I need a new television/streaming addiction.

I finished two audiobooks last week and got about halfway through a print book--Sometimes I Lie--which I'll review next week.

review: Mira T. Lee's Everything Here Is Beautiful I wasn't really sure how I'd feel about Mira T. Lee's Everything Here Is Beautiful (Pamela Dorman Books, Jan 16) because it touches on some difficult issues. It deals with sisters, immigration, relationships, motherhood, and most especially with mental illness. Lucia's first loses her grip on reality soon after China-born mother dies. Her diagnosis is vague and shares elements with schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, and bipolar disorder. The story is told from several perspectives--Lucia's and that of important people in her life--and presents a heartbreaking but realistic picture of life under the cloud of a mental disorder. Lucia struggles with determining what's real and what's hallucination; she wants to live life large, but the pills that stabilize her give her headaches, make her fat, zap her energy, and/or flatten her emotions. For everyone else, life is unpredictable and revolves around Lucia's mental state. It's impossible to let down your guard. Guilt, anger, frustration, and fear are all caught up in feelings of love and and the desire to protect. Everything Here Is Beautiful gives you quite a bit to think about and so would be great book club choice (you can find a reading guide at the Penguin Random House website). The unabridged audiobook (Penguin Audio; 13 hr, 18 min) is read by a full cast, though Cassandra Campbell performs the bulk of the story. Unlike many full-cast productions, there are no weak links in this audiobook and the narrators as a group created believable accents (Chinese, Israeli, Latino, New York City, Swiss German) and nicely handled both Lucia's breakdowns and the reactions to those events. (My full audiobook review will be available via AudioFile Magazine.)

review: Kelley Armstrong's BetrayalsI was reminded last week that I'm behind in Kelley Armstrong's Cainsville series, so I loaded the fourth book, Betrayals (Audible Studios; 13 hr, 15 min; Oct. 2017), onto my phone. The audiobook is read by Carine Montbertrand, who appears on all the books in the series, and Julie McKay replaces Mozhan Marno, who performed on the first three books. In earlier reviews, I described the series as "paranormal light," and that still holds. While there are indeed otherworldly beings (fae, gobblins, living gargoyles) the core of the story is less fantasy than it is about ancient rivalries, the cycle of fate, Old World tales and myths, and solving a mystery. There is also a complicated relationship among the three main characters: a wealthy socialite turned PI, a biker gang leader getting an MBA, and a pickpocket turned high-powered Chicago lawyer. I like the way Armstrong doles out clues to the main characters' ultimate fates, which are guided by both twenty-first-century expectations and the deep traditions set by their fae blood. You have to read this series in order to see the build up of events and to understand the characters' motivations. Although I can recommend the books themselves, I'm not quite sure why I've committed to listening this series because I have problems with the audiobooks. First, I don't know why the producers decided there should be two narrators. I realize the point of view sometimes changes, but I think one narrator could have handled that. Second, I don't really love the performances. The pacing is good and the dialogue is distinct, but for some reason (which I can't pinpoint), I'm just not wowed. Each time I listen to a Cainsville book, I tell myself to read the next one in print. We'll see what I do with book 5. (personal copy)


Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 3/26/18, 7:10 AM  

I'm planning to read Everything Here is Beautiful once I get through candidates for my Summer Reading Guide! And what do you thing of Sometimes I Lie? I downloaded the sample and am planning to try it for the Summer Guide.

Harvee 3/26/18, 7:49 AM  

Everything Here Is Beautiful is heartbreaking and focused on the older sister-younger sister relationship and bipolar disorder. I agree it would be great for a book club discussion.

bermudaonion 3/26/18, 8:27 AM  

I'd pick up Everything Here is Beautiful just because it's a Pamela Dorman book. I'm glad to see it's worth reading.

Susie | Novel Visits 3/26/18, 8:35 AM  

I loved Everything Here Is Beautiful and it's nice to know the audio version was so great, too. I hadn't thought of it for a book club pick, but you're so right about there being so much to talk about.

JoAnn 3/26/18, 9:56 AM  

I've been considering Everything Here is Beautiful. Glad to know the audio version is well done... Cassandra Campbell is a favorite.

sherry fundin 3/26/18, 10:10 AM  

Love that cover for Betrayal.
sherry @ fundinmental

Laurel-Rain Snow 3/26/18, 10:56 AM  

Everything Here Is Beautiful looks tempting.

Enjoy your week and your books...and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

Kathy Martin 3/26/18, 11:21 AM  

I enjoyed each Cainsville book as I was reading it but generally don't find that series very memorable. I should give them a reread to see if they improve. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Tina 3/26/18, 11:46 AM  

That's great your work is keeping you busy as I know you love it :-)
With a dog on the cover of Betrayals I would be worried he was killed or hurt. I just can't take it when an animal is abused so I avoid those sort of books. Hopefully he's just a stunning model for the cover.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 3/26/18, 12:29 PM  

I never used to be much of an audiobook reader (listener?) but now I listen to at least two a month. I think I will probably read (listen?) to more after I retire in May.

Aj @ Read All The Things! 3/26/18, 7:14 PM  

People keep recommending Everything is Beautiful to me. It does sound like my kind of book. Have a great week!

Aj @ Read All The Things!

Nise' 3/26/18, 8:10 PM  

As a fan of Kelly Armstrong, I want to get to the Cainsville series.

Yvonne 3/26/18, 8:28 PM  

I've heard so many great things about Parenthood. I never watched it. Maybe I should try it on Netflix.

Have a great week!

Greg 3/26/18, 8:37 PM  

I've been curious about Sometimes I Lie since I started seeing it around. I hope it was good. I'll probably get it if I see a good review or two. Same with the Cainsville series really, in that I've read a few recent Armstrong books but haven't gone back to her earlier series. I may though...

pussreboots 3/26/18, 10:00 PM  

I'm perpetually behind with Armstrong's books. Come see what I'm reading

Heidenkind 3/29/18, 12:19 AM  

I’m a big fan of cooking shows (obviously). Netflix has a show with Bradley Cooper based on Kitchen Confidential that’s really good and totally binge worthy. You might enjoy Girl Boss, as well.

Daryl 4/2/18, 7:45 AM  

i am glad i read the Cainsville series ...

Binge worthy shows ... i am about to start re-watching The Wire ...

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