Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Beginnings: See What I Have Done


See What I Have Done, by Sarah Schmidt (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2017). These are the first sentences of Chapter One:
He was still bleeding. I yelled, 'Someone's killed Father.' I breathed in kerosene air, licked the thickness from my teeth. The clock on the mantel ticked ticked.

About the Book:
When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden — thirty two years old and still living at home — immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime. 
Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie's unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie's uncle to take care of a problem. 
This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America. (-- NetGalley)
Initial Thoughts:

I like that beginning, the way it starts right in the midst of the action. I also like that bit about the clock tick-ticking. That little refrain gets repeated further on. The Lizzie who's speaking to us here in the opening lines of Sarah Schmidt's debut novel has a way of throwing odd little thoughts out at you. She's not easy to figure out or get comfortable with.

I've read other fictional versions of the Lizzie Borden story, and seen it dramatized (and parodied) several times. Not sure why, but I've always found it an interesting subject. So far, this has been one of the best treatments I've found. Definitely disturbing and chilling — but then it would have to be, wouldn't it?



Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Color of Fear


This week my teaser lines come from the new Sharon McCone mystery, The Color of Fear, by Marcia Muller. This is, somewhat amazingly, the thirty-second entry in this series; but it's the first one for me. This snippet comes from Location 311 of the Kindle edition, and since it's from an advance copy of the book, please remember that the published edition might differ slightly.
I said, "They're not 'kind of' old — they're old." 
"So what do they want with each other?" 
"The same thing we all do. Wouldn't you want somebody to warm your tootsies when you're in your eighties?"
Well, definitely! Ah, youth! Was I really that smug once upon a time? Hmmm. Yeah, probably.

I started reading The Color of Fear last week, and liked it quite a lot. But the plot involves a vicious, racially-motivated attack and its aftermath — and what with the news from Virginia this past weekend, I might need to take a little break from this one.





If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Book Beginnings: The Young Widower's Handbook


The Young Widower's Handbook: A Novel, by Tom McAllister (Algonquin Books, February 2017). From the novel:
On Monday Kaitlyn Cady went for a five-mile run, on Tuesday night she experienced severe stomach pains, by Wednesday morning she was dead, on Thursday she was burned down to ashes and poured into a stainless steel cube, and on Friday she was delivered by a stranger to her husband, Hunter. 
To describe her death as sudden is to reduce it to cliché, to not do justice to the swiftness with which she stopped existing.
About the Book:
After his wife Kait dies suddenly, 29-year-old Hunter Cady decides to take her ashes with him on a road trip so he can fulfill the promises he’d made to her that they would someday travel the country.
Initial Thoughts:

I'm cheating a little today — these lines are actually the first sentences of Chapter Two in the book, but somehow they just seem more like the book's beginning. Chapter One is short and has more of a feeling of "prologue" about it.

I was a little dubious about this one. Sounded like it could be a really depressing read. But I was encouraged by the claims that it was insightful, wry, and "laugh-out-loud" funny. And after reading the first 50 or so pages, I can say I'm enjoying it, but haven't really hit anything I'm laughing out loud about.




Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Monday, July 24, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hard to believe the year is more than half over, isn't it? Or maybe that's just me. Summer is in full swing already, and generally I get a lot of reading done during the summer. But that hasn't been true this year.

It's been over a month since I actually finished a book, but I've started quite a few. I've got my current reading list divided up into several categories.

(1) Books I'm more than halfway through:

Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout

The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry


(2) Books I've got started, but haven't yet reached that halfway point in:


Tell Me How This Ends Well,
by David Samuel Levinson

(3) Books I've had on my TBR list for this spring/summer, that I haven't actually started yet:

Grief Cottage, by Gail Godwin

Heartbreak Hotel, by Jonathan Kellerman

The Heirs, by Susan Rieger

How to Be Human, by Paula Cocozza

And then there are those "maybe" books I've been downloading onto my Kindle because I just can't pass up a cheap/free book from Amazon. And those books I bought at the spring sale over at our local public library. And those upcoming late summer/early autumn ARCs I really do need to get to pretty soon.

So you can see I'm not lacking for ideas about what to read next. I just need to get back to reading something right now. But first, I'm gonna visit a few other blogs and see what everyone else is reading. Maybe that'll give me the nudge I need.



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. If you want to let the world know what you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Book Beginnings: Our Spoons Came from Woolworths


Our Spoons Came from Woolworths, by Barbara Comyns (first published 1950). These are the first lines of Chapter 1:
I told Helen my story and she went home and cried. In the evening her husband came to see me and brought some strawberries; he mended my bicycle, too, and was kind, but he needn't have been, because it all happened eight years ago, and I'm not unhappy now.
About the Book:
"Sophia is twenty-one and naïve when she marries fellow artist Charles. She seems hardly fonder of her husband than she is of her pet newt; she can’t keep house (everything she cooks tastes of soap); and she mistakes morning sickness for the aftereffects of a bad batch of strawberries. England is in the middle of the Great Depression, and the money Sophia makes from the occasional modeling gig doesn’t make up for her husband’s indifference to paying the rent. Predictably, the marriage falters; not so predictably, Sophia’s artlessness will be the very thing that turns her life around."
Initial Thoughts:

After reading those opening lines, my first thought was that the narrator (Sophia) sounds oddly disengaged from the story she's relating — which is, after all, the story of her own history. Almost like she's talking about another person she once knew, and not all that well.

I picked this one up when I was looking for something to read for the What's In a Name Reading Challenge — one of the categories is "an item/items of cutlery," and spoons would fit. But I'm not sure how much of Sophia's airy-ness I can put up with.

How about it? Does this one sound like something you'd go on reading? Do the opening lines spark your interest, or would they send you dashing back to your shelves for another book?



Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Beginnings: The Westing Game


The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (first published 1978). These are the book's first lines:
The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east. Strange!
Sunset Towers faced east and had no towers.
About the Book:
The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance.
Initial Thoughts:

Lately I've been having a really hard time sticking with any book long enough to finish it, and sometimes a good children's book will give me a little jump start and get me back on track. The Westing Game was the winner of the 1978 Newbery Medal, the annual prize handed out to the most distinguished literary work for young people. I've had it on my "must read" list for decades and I finally picked up a copy recently and thought maybe now might be a good time to give it a look. So far, it's holding my interest — and it's a fairly short read, so I'm hoping I'll actually stay with this one right to the end!

What about you? Do you ever read children's lit or books written for young adults? Do you have any strategies for overcoming the dreaded reading slump? And would that opening draw you in and keep you reading?




Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Grief Cottage


This week my teaser lines come from Gail Godwin's latest novel, Grief Cottage (Bloomsbury USA, June 2017). This quote comes from an advance copy of the novel, so please remember it might be slightly different in the published edition.

In this snippet, eleven-year-old Marcus is visiting the ruined cottage the locals call "Grief Cottage" for the first time; he's been napping, but slowly realizes he's actually awake now. And someone (or something) is watching over him.
I felt its presence by the electric prickles all down my back and by my serious reluctance to move a muscle. Then the reluctance turned to cold fear. There was no way in the world I could muster the courage to roll over and see what was in that doorway. (Kindle, Location 309)
I've never read anything by Gail Godwin before this, so I didn't really know what to expect. I haven't officially started this one yet (just took a quick look at the early pages), but so far I like what I've seen.





If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.