Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: Tales from Tinseltown

This week my teaser lines come from Roger Moore's new book of reminiscences, One Lucky Bastard: Tales from Tinseltown. I've loved Roger Moore since I was a kid, ever since his days on The Alaskans TV show. And he was my favorite James Bond, too. So when I saw that GoodReads was offering advance copies of this one, I put in a request and was delighted when they told me I'd won! This snippet is from his chapter on his early years at England's Pinewood Studios (please remember that, as this is coming from an advance copy of the book, the quote might be different in the published edition):
And as for my old mate Maurice Micklewhite, his agent suggested it wasn't the sort of name that tripped off the tongue easily, so young Maurice looked across from the phone box at Leceister Square where he was calling from and saw The Caine Mutiny was playing at the Odeon. Henceforth Michael Caine, film star, was born. (p.78)
Ah, Michael Caine -- another of my faves.  The book is made up of lots and lots of similar anecdotes, and should make for a very fast read -- and a nice break from the murder and mayhem in all the whodunits I've been reading lately.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Beginnings: Children of the Revolution

Another mystery I'm thinking about reading for RIP/9 is Peter Robinson's Children of the Revolution, No. 21 in his Inspector Banks series. This is the opening paragraph:
As Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks walked along the disused railway track, he couldn't help but imagine two young lovers kissing on the footbridge ahead, shrouded in smoke from a steam engine. All very Brief Encounter. But the age of steam was long gone, and it wasn't love he was walking toward; it was a suspicious death.
Initial Thoughts:
I've only read one other novel in this series, and that was a while ago. But I've been watching the TV series (DCI Banks) based on the books, and that's made me interested in reading more of them. This one sounds pretty good. Starts right off with a dead body and a reference to a classic film. Can't be bad. Right?

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. 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, September 23, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: The Mist in the Mirror

This week my teaser lines come from Susan Hill's The Mist in the Mirror, a novel inspired by classic ghost tales. In this snippet (from Chapter 5/Loc.835), the main character is beginning to realize there really is a ghost following him around London:
He stood, pale, ragged, utterly still in the circle of lamplight and as I stared directly at him he raised his head, turned his face up to me, his eyes seeking mine out. And so we stayed, as if frozen in some other time and place, I, James Monmouth, in the dark, upper room of the house, and the ghost of the boy in the cold street below.
This is one of the books I'm reading for RIP/9, and so far I'm loving it.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: The Lady in the Lake

Cover of the 1971 Ballantine edition
This week my teaser lines come from The Lady in the Lake, a Philip Marlowe mystery by Raymond Chandler. In this snippet, Marlowe and a companion are looking for (and unfortunately finding) said lady in the lake:
I looked down with him into the water at the edge of the submerged staging.
Languidly at the edge of this green and sunken shelf of wood something waved out from the darkness, hesitated, waved back again out of sight under the flooring.
The something had looked far too much like a human arm. (Chapter 6, Loc.624)
I guess I should apologize for this, but I had a lot of trouble settling on just one teaser, so I'm including a few more. Chandler's work is always so full of quotable lines, it's really hard to choose.
"I don't like your manner," Kingsley said in a voice you could have cracked a Brazil nut on.
"That's all right," I said, "I'm not selling it." (Chapter 1, Loc.98)

The self-operating elevator was carpeted in red plush. It had an elderly perfume in it, like three widows drinking tea. (Chapter 23, Loc.2047)

Degarmo spun on his heel and looked at me wonderingly, "Did he say 'whom'?"
"Yeah, but don't hit him," I said. "There is such a word." (Chapter 35, Loc.2833)
Good stuff.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Monday Reading Update

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. If you want to let the world know what books 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.

I took a little break from these Monday updates during the summer months. The last time I checked in, as I recall, I was in the midst of an annoying and long-lasting reading "slump," having trouble sticking with any book long enough to finish it. That all changed during the summer, though, and I got quite a few books read during July and August. Here's the list:
Midnight in Europe. Alan Furst
The Antiquarian. Gustavo Faveron Patriau
The Lady in the Lake. Raymond Chandler
The High Window. Raymond Chandler
The Quilter's Apprentice. Jennifer Chiaverini
The Collector of Dying Breaths. M.J. Rose
The Good Suicides. Antonio Hill
Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster. Terrance Dicks
The Colors of Space. Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Weight of Blood. Laura McHugh
The Transcriptionist. Amy Rowland
As usual, I wasn't quite so successful with reviews -- I'm still working on that, but hope to get ALL of these reviewed before September slows me down (it's always such a busy month around here). I've also started posting reports on books I read earlier this year, but never got around to talking about here on the blog. A few of those:

The Litter of the Law, by Rita Mae Brown

 Ten Lords A-Leaping, by C.C. Benison

 Andrew's Brain, by E.L. Doctorow

This week, I'm reading Peter Pan Must Die, by John Verdon (fourth book in his Dave Gurney thriller series),

and The Dirty Book Murder, by Thomas Shawver.

These two are also the first books I'll be reading for the RIP/9 event/challenge that's getting started today. I'm really not sure how it got to be September so fast, and time for another RIP go-round (number 9!), but here we are.

After that, who knows? Maybe a nice cozy mystery to balance out all that gore and mayhem.  Possibly Hazel Holt's most recent entry in her Sheila Malory series:

Or maybe something completely different. We'll see what emerges.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril / IX

Artwork for RIP/9 provided by Abigail Larson

Last day of August! How did that happen? My favorite season is drawing to a close, and I seem to dread the end of summer more and more every year. But there is this to cheer me up: At least the approach of autumn also means the start of one of my favorite annual reading events -- R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (RIP, for short), hosted by Carl V. Anderson at Stainless Steel Droppings, and now in its ninth year. To read all about it and sign up, just visit the challenge announcement page HERE.

This year, I'm going for Peril the First -- read four books of any length that fit any of the RIP categories (Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural) -- and Peril on the Screen as well.  Haven't really made any decisions about what I'll read or watch yet, but I have a few possibilities in mind for the reading peril:
  • The Blackhouse, by Peter May (first book in May's "Lewis" trilogy)
  • The Mist in the Mirror, by Susan Hill (classic ghost story by the author of The Woman in Black)
  • Mrs. Malory and a Necessary End, by Hazel Holt (the latest book in the Sheila Malory series of cozy mysteries)
  • Peter Pan Must Die, by John Verdon (the fourth book in his Dave Gurney mystery series)
  • This House is Haunted, by John Boyne (gothic goings-on revolving around a governess and her charges in a spooky Victorian mansion)
I'm also thinking about giving Peril of the Short Story a try. I've got several collections of short fiction in the ghost story/horror/suspense genre to sample from. This would be a first for me -- I've never tried this Peril before, and I'm looking forward to it.

During the run of the challenge, I'll be tracking my progress and keeping my reading/viewing lists over on my challenge blog (HERE).  Now, just need to get reading!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Litter of the Law, by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

Random House/Bantam Books, 2013; 235 pages

Publisher's Description:
Autumn has descended and crops are being harvested all over Crozet, Virginia, ideal conditions for a scenic drive for Harry and husband Fair. Bucolic views are all well and good, but Harry’s nose for trouble leads her straight to a cornfield’s macabre scarecrow — an all too real murder victim that frightens all but the noisy crows.

This accountant’s gruesome death is only the first of many disturbing events in this normally pastoral corner of the world. While Harry tends her beloved grapes and sunflowers, a killer edges closer — as does Harry’s protective menagerie of animals.

My Thoughts:
I always look forward to a new Mrs. Murphy mystery (this is number 21 in the series) — I've read several of them over the years, and always enjoy them. I love that they're set in Virginia, where I used to live. And I love all of the interaction among the various critters: Mrs. Murphy, for those who aren't familiar with the books, is a cat (the companion of the series' main human character, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen) and she has many animal friends who show up to help solve the mysteries.

Of course, Rita Mae Brown (or maybe it's Sneaky Pie?) does have a tendency to be a bit preachy when she gets onto any subject she obviously cares about. I can usually overlook that quirk because the stories are good enough to make up for it, but this time that just didn't work. I had trouble sticking with this one, and found myself rushing through large chunks to get to the end — which is never a good sign. The plot and most of the characters seemed sketchy and not very memorable. (Maybe I'd remember them a little better if I hadn't done so much skimming.) Very unusual for this series which generally abounds in intriguing characters and interesting plot twists. But in this one, I thought even the non-human characters seemed pretty tedious. It wasn't a terrible reading experience, but it didn't come up to the level of other books I've read in the series. On the other hand, the illustrations by Michael Gellatly were some of the best yet. (I really wish more books for adults had pictures!)

So, I guess I have to say I was disappointed with the book, although I still love Mrs. Murphy and I'm hoping for better things in the next installment. But if you're thinking of giving the series a try (and you should), definitely start with one of the earlier novels.

I received my copy of this book free of charge from the publisher, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received, and the opinions expressed here are all my own.