22 April 2019

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: A Mixed Reading Week

2 books to read in AprilHappy Earth Day! It's finally spring in Pennsylvania, and I'm staring to see early flowers everywhere. Yay (and sneeze)!

If you're looking for a way celebrate nature and learn more about the importance of conservation, I can't recommend the Netflix documentary series Our Planet more highly. We haven't seen all the episodes yet, but the filming is amazing and the message is important. I've included the trailer in this post, which gives you a hint of this don't-miss series.

Because there was so much to see on the news last week and because I'm working ahead to get ready for a lacemaking workshop coming up in a few days, I didn't get a lot of reading done. Hey, some weeks are slow.

review of The Last by Hanna JamesonThe Last by Hanna Jameson (Atria; April 9). I still love good dystopian fiction, and The Last combines an all-too-probable end-of-the-world story with a murder mystery. I really couldn't resist. The premise is this: Jon, an academic historian from the Bay Area attends a conference in a remote hotel in Switzerland. On the last day, before he can check out, massive nuclear war is launched, wiping out entire cities and even countries. A couple dozen people (made up of guests and staff) remain at the hotel to figure out what to do next. The characters come from different walks of life and from different countries. Some are stuck in the hotel alone; others have family with them. Some are resourceful or have a survivor instinct; others want to give up or take their chances in the surrounding woods; some even commit suicide. Can the people at the hotel work together to forge a future? Are there other people alive on the planet? And who murdered the little girl whose body Jon finds? The book consists of Jon's journal, which is a daily record of what happens at the hotel after the bombs are dropped and includes interviews Jon conducts of the other survivors. In addition, Jon becomes obsessed with trying to identify the killer, and he records his investigation and his suspicions in his journal. This novel was almost too scary to read because the idea didn't seem all that farfetched. I liked the set up, the setting, and the way the characters interacted with each other. The problems and choices the survivors faced seemed realistic, and so were the descriptions of the hotel and the changes to the environment. I would have given this a big thumbs up, right up to the end. I don't need my novels to be tied up with a bow, and I don't mind a few open ends that spark my imagination, but this book ended with way too much unresolved. I couldn't find any indication that a sequel was in the works, yet the ending screams, "you'll get the answers in the next book." Made me mad. The unabridged audiobook (Simon & Schuster Audio; 12 hr, 16 min) was brilliantly read by Anthony Starke, who nailed the characters' personalities and accents and created an atmosphere of dread and uncertainty. I've never listened to Starke before, but he's now on my recommend list! (audio and digital editions provided by the publisher)

Review of Tiny Hot Dogs by Mary GiulianiTiny Hot Dogs by Mary Giuliani (Running Press, April 9). Giuliani (no relation to Rudy) grew up in Montauk (Long Island) in an Italian Catholic family, dreaming of becoming a Jewish actress. Her life, however, took a different turn, and she is now known as being a caterer to the stars. This light memoir is told in short essays and is filled with recipes. There are laugh-out-loud moments from Giuliani's life as well as some fun stories about the famous people she's met. She also provides some behind-the-scenes insight to what it's like to be around the rich and famous, though contact is mostly from the kitchen and the sidelines. Giuliani's memoir is also a tribute to family and a strong marriage and includes her struggle to become pregnant and to sustain a pregnancy. Despite some inevitable sorrow, Giuliani's stories are mostly upbeat and positive. Life can be funny, and no matter how often we think we know where we'll end up, the gods usually have something else in mind. To echo the quote from Ina Garten that appears on the cover: "I love this book!" I may even get around to making one of Giuliani recipes. Note that this little memoir would make a great Mother's Day gift if the mother in your life has a good sense of humor and enjoys spending time in the kitchen. The audiobook (Hachette Audio; 4 hr, 25 min) is read by the author, and although I didn't listen to the book, I sampled a little bit of the narration. From the few minutes I heard, I thought Giuliani did a nice job. The audio comes with a PDF of the recipes. Thank you, Hachette for making sure that audiobook lovers won't miss out on the recipes. (audio, digital, and print copies provided by the publisher)

And here is the promised trailer.

19 comments:

Mae Travels 4/22/19, 7:35 AM  

I'm stumped by one thing in your review: what would it mean for an Italian-Catholic girl to be "dreaming of becoming a Jewish actress"? Just can't get my head around this. The book sounds mildly interesting, though I like more historical food accounts.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

JoAnn 4/22/19, 8:11 AM  

Tiny Hot Dogs sounds wonderful... definitely my kind of memoir!

The blogger commenting issue has me puzzled, to say the least. I'm able to post here, but cannot on my own blog. Grrr!

bermudaonion 4/22/19, 8:23 AM  

I've got to get my hands on Tiny Hot Dogs - it sounds like my kind of book!

rhapsodyinbooks 4/22/19, 8:57 AM  

I love books with recipes. I'm reading one now, even. They are such fun, even though I always eat more while reading them!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 4/22/19, 9:05 AM  

That's a clever and helpful way to package an audiobook with recipes, I think. Innovative.

I'm glad spring is finally arriving in Pennsylvania. My son and daughter-in-law live in Chicago and they got snow last week. I can't even imagine snow in April.

Have a lovely week!

shelleyrae @ book'd out 4/22/19, 10:51 AM  

Both books look enjoyable.

Have a great reading week

RealLifeReading 4/22/19, 11:22 AM  

Tiny Hot Dogs sounds like a fun read!

Laurel-Rain Snow 4/22/19, 11:43 AM  

The Last sounds like a powerful story...one that could unfold in our lifetimes. Scary, but perhaps inspirational, too.

Thanks for sharing...and enjoy your week. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Kathy Martin 4/22/19, 2:36 PM  

Both of these books sound good. With most of the snow finally gone, I can look forward to Spring now too. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Amelia 4/22/19, 3:06 PM  

Tiny Hotdogs sounds interesting. I'm gonna have to check that one out!

Vicki 4/22/19, 4:31 PM  

Tiny Hot Dogs is on my list to read.

Sue Jackson 4/22/19, 6:46 PM  

oooh...thanks for the trailer! I've been hearing a lot about Our Planet - it looks wonderful!

Funny, I just read the review of The Last in BookPage this morning and marked it for my husband's list...but he really doesn't like ambiguous endings, so maybe not - thanks for the heads up! Sounds like I might like it, though :)

We traveled to the Poconos this weekend for Easter with my extended family, and my son was thrilled that his allergies just completely stopped for 2 days! We were surprised by the difference - no leaves on the trees yet up there and no blooming flowers yet. Everything is blooming at once here in DE!

Enjoy your books this week -

Sue

Book By Book

Greg 4/22/19, 7:52 PM  

Our Planet looks great. I'll definitely be watching. And I want to read The Last too. Sounds amazing except for that ending- I hope there's a book two!

It's finally spring here and I'm sneezing all over the place, but I'll still take it lol as it's finally WARM. Or close enough. :)

Yvonne 4/22/19, 9:30 PM  

Thanks for the info about Our Planet. I'll have to check it out. It looks good. Have a great week!

Aj @ Read All The Things! 4/22/19, 10:24 PM  

Our Planet looks beautiful. Sometimes I wish I had Netflix. I feel like I’m missing out on awesome stuff. Have a great week!

Aj @ Read All The Things!

Les in Oregon 4/23/19, 10:47 PM  

The Last sounds wonderful, but the ending would be too frustrating for me. Maybe I should wait and see if there's going to be a sequel? I'll add it to my Goodreads list, but wait a while before I dive in.

I'm going to make a note to save Our Planet to our queue to watch when my granddaughter is visiting this summer. She will be 17 and is very much interested in the environment. I know this is one she will love to watch.

I hope you are having some lovely spring weather. We're traveling (in our RV) and are now on the Olympic Peninsula. It's lush and green and very peaceful. No rain in the forecast, which makes me a very happy camper!

Literature and Limes 4/23/19, 10:52 PM  

The Last sounds like a book I need to add to my to-read list.

(Diane) bookchickdi 4/28/19, 1:03 PM  

Tiny Little Hotdogs sounds like something I would enjoy, I'm going to keep my eyes open for this one.

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