Friday, September 21, 2018

Book Beginnings: A Morbid Taste for Bones


A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters (first published 1977). First book in the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael series of mystery novels. This is the first sentence of Chapter 1:

On the fine, bright morning in early May when the whole sensational affair of the Gwytherin relics may properly be considered to have begun, Brother Cadfael had been up long before Prime, pricking out cabbage seedlings before the day was aired, and his thoughts were all on birth, growth and fertility, not at all on graves and reliquaries and violent deaths, whether of saints, sinners or ordinary decent, fallible men like himself.

About the Book:
In the 12th-century Benedictine monastery of Shrewsbury, Brother Cadfael has settled down to a quiet life in charge of the herbarium. It is fortunate his prowess as a herbalist is matched by his detective skills — when his Prior decides to acquire the bones of a Welsh saint, the obstacles include murder.

Initial Thoughts:

To be honest, my first thought was something about that being a really long opening sentence.

The Brother Cadfael mysteries have been on my must-read list for decades now. Oddly (for me), I'm starting with the first book in the series this time. I'm about 50 pages in, and really enjoying it so far. Hope that lasts.

Happy Friday, everyone! And have a lovely weekend.



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.


Thursday, September 06, 2018

Book Beginnings: The Empty House


The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories, by Algernon Blackwood (first published 1906). First sentence of the title story:

Certain houses, like certain persons, manage somehow to proclaim at once their character for evil.


About the Book:
A collection of mystery and horror tales from an author whom many critics regard as one of the masters of the genre. The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories showcases some of Algernon Blackwood's finest — and most spine-tingling — short fiction.

Initial Thoughts:

That's been one of my favorite opening sentences ever since I first read Blackwood's classic horror story "The Empty House" back when I was twelve or so. I've read more of Blackwood's stories over the years, but not all the ones in this edition. So now that the RIP challenge has come 'round again, I thought this might be a good time to fill in some gaps.

And anyway, I love a good ghost story. Do you?

Happy Friday, everyone! And have a lovely weekend.



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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII


It's that time of year. September is almost here, and with September comes one of my favorite traditions of autumn, the RIP (for Readers Imbibing Peril) reading event/challenge. This is the 13th year for RIP -- I think this will be my 10th year as a participant. The challenge begins September 1st and runs until (fittingly) Halloween on October 31st.

RIP was the brainchild of Carl Anderson, over at his Stainless Steel Droppings blog, and last year was handed over to new hosts. This year it's being hosted by Heather from My Capricious Life, and has its very own website, where you can read all about it and join up.

The purpose of the event is to read books that fall into any of the RIP categories:
Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural.
And the main goals are to HAVE FUN, and to share that fun with others. Pretty simple.

Actually, it's not that much of a challenge for me -- those are the genres I read most of the time. But RIP always manages to renew my reading spirits after they've started sagging during the summer. Also helps me find new books I might be interested in. I'll be signing up at the Peril the First level (read four books), and combining that with Peril on the Screen (and possibly Peril of the Short Story, too).

To find out about the various Peril levels, and to sign up, visit the challenge announcement page HERE. I don't really have a set list of books I intend to read, so I'll just see what I come up with. And I'll be tracking my progress over on my challenge blog (HERE).

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Book Beginnings: Last Song Sung


Last Song Sung, by David A. Poulsen (Dundurn, May 2018). Third book in Poulsen's Cullen and Cobb mystery series. These are the book's first lines:
Prologue 
February 28, 1965 
The cigarette smoke stung her eyes. She threw the cigarette down, regretted it right away — hated to do that to a Lucky Strike, damn good smokes — and looked around. 
Looking for Joni.

About the Book:
Former newspaper journalist Adam Cullen and private investigator Mike Cobb are back to look into the 1965 disappearance of a folk singer. Kidnapped from the alley behind a Canadian folk club, her bandmates shot and killed, Ellie Foster’s whereabouts have remained a mystery for fifty years. Hired by Ellie’s granddaughter, Cullen and Cobb travel into the past to unearth long-buried secrets.
Initial Thoughts:

This is a new series for me — and once again, I'm jumping into a series without having read any of the early books. So far, though, I don't feel too lost and I'm enjoying getting to know Cullen and Cobb. I was originally attracted to this one because of the 1960s folk music aspect, and because the Joni mentioned in the quote was supposed to be Joni Anderson, later known as Joni Mitchell. And Joni Mitchell was always one of my favorite singers back in the day. Well, still is in this day, too.

For some reason, I've had trouble getting going on this. Started it twice before and got sidetracked by other books both times. Not the book's fault — I've just been having trouble staying focused this summer. Hoping I'll do better on this third attempt.

Happy Friday, everyone! And have a lovely weekend.



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, August 03, 2018

Book Beginnings: The Man Who Couldn't Miss


The Man Who Couldn't Miss, by David Handler (William Morrow, August 14, 2018). This is the 10th book in Handler's Stewart Hoag mystery series. This is the book's opening sentence:
His voice on the phone was booming and authoritative, especially for five thirty in the morning.
(The quote is from an ARC of the book, so please remember the published edition might have some changes.)

About the book:
The Man Who Couldn't Miss, the tenth novel in David Handler's beloved Edgar-winning series, finds celebrity ghostwriter Stewart "Hoagy" Hoag in Connecticut, where his ex-wife, Oscar-winning actress Merilee Nash, is directing a stage production to benefit a local theater. But when one among the starry cast is found murdered, it's up to Hoagy — accompanied by his faithful and cowardly basset hound Lulu — to unmask the killer.
Initial Thoughts:

My first thought is that if anyone called me at 5:30 A.M., I'd assume somebody had died. But I guess that's a fitting assumption for the beginning of a mystery novel.

I've read one other book in this series — last year's The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes — and really enjoyed it. "Hoagy" Hoag is witty and smart and sort of snarky and just a very charming amateur sleuth. And his faithful sidekick Lulu is fun too — well, mostly faithful anyway. Looking forward to this one.

Happy Friday, everyone! And have a lovely weekend.



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.


Thursday, August 02, 2018

Looking Forward: Late Summer and Autumn 2018

I know — instead of looking ahead at all the books due to be published in the next few months, I really should just get on with reading the ones I've got now. But I always like to keep an eye on what's going to be coming out next season. These are a few that sound interesting and I want to remember to look for them when they become available. So I made a little list — not that it's likely I'll be reading ALL of them...but you never know.

...............

(The publishing info on all of these is from Publishers Weekly.)


Bad Man, by Dathan Auerbach (Aug. 7, Doubleday, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54292-0). A young man is forced to take a job at the store where his kid brother disappeared into thin air, and strange and creepy events soon escalate into terror.


Before We Were Strangers, by Brenda Novak (Dec. 4, Mira, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-7783-6994-3). When she was five, Sloane McBride’s mother disappeared. The official story is she left. But adult Sloane fears her domineering father isn’t just a difficult person, but something worse. Another traumatic loss makes Sloane realize she owes it to her mother to discover the truth.


The Clockmaker’s Daughter, by Kate Morton (Oct. 9, Atria, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4516-4939-0). A group of young artists arrives at Birchwood Manor in rural Oxfordshire in the summer of 1862, planning to use the seclusion for artistic inspiration. By the end of the summer, one of them is dead and another has disappeared. Over a century later, a London archivist discovers a leather satchel with connections to Birchwood Manor.


Daughters of the Lake, by Wendy Webb (Nov. 1, Lake Union, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-5039-0082-0). After the end of her marriage, Kate Granger retreats to her parents’ home on Lake Superior—only to discover the body of a murdered woman, whom Kate recognizes from her dreams. As Kate is drawn into a 100-year-old tragedy, she promises to right the wrongs of the past.

The Governesses, by Anne Serre, trans. by Mark Hutchinson (Sept. 25, New Directions, trade paper, $13.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2807-7). Serre’s U.S. debut is an erotic fairy tale set in a country house where three governesses, nominally educating a group of little boys, instead lie in wait for men to pass by the house. Meanwhile, they’re watched by the old man in the house opposite.


I Am Behind You, by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Oct. 16, St. Martin's, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-250-08657-0). Four families wake up one morning in their trailer on an ordinary campsite—but everything outside the camping grounds has disappeared. As the holiday-makers try to come to terms with what has happened, they are forced to confront their deepest fears and secret desires. 


In the Night Wood, by Dale Bailey (Oct. 9, HMH/Adams, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-1-328-49443-6). In this contemporary fantasy, the grieving biographer of a Victorian fantasist finds himself slipping inexorably into the supernatural world that consumed his subject.


Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami, trans. by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen (Oct. 9, Knopf, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-525-52004-7). Murakami’s first novel since Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is, according to the publisher, a story of “love and loneliness, war and art—as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby.”


The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Sept. 11, Harper, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-285995-2). In 1780s London, merchant Jonah Hancock finds overnight fame when he obtains a purported mermaid specimen. Catapulted into the drawing rooms of high society, he meets Angelica Neal, who dares him to bring her another mermaid.


Riddance: Or: The Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children, by Shelley Jackson (Oct. 16, Black Balloon, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-936787-99-9). Eleven-year-old Jane Grandison arrives at the Sybil Joines Vocational School, which claims to cure students’ speech impediments, but secretly has pioneered the field of necrophysics by harnessing the students’ stutters to communicate with the dead.


A Short Film About Disappointment, by Joshua Mattson (Aug. 7, Penguin, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-525-52284-3). A movie critic certain no one reads his reviews fills them with details of his personal life in this sharp, funny PW-starred debut set some time in the future, in America’s Central Hub.


The Third Hotel, by Laura Van Den Berg (Aug. 7, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-374-16835-3). Clare, an elevator sales rep, travels to Havana after her horror-film scholar husband, Richard, is killed in a hit-and-run. The couple had planned to attend the Festival of New Latin American Cinema together, specifically to see Cuba’s first horror film. Shortly after arriving at the festival, Clare spies a man from afar who looks exactly like Richard.


Transcription, by Kate Atkinson (Sept. 25, Little, Brown, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-17663-7). Initially recruited for her secretarial skills, Juliet Armstrong is drawn into dangerous assignments as an undercover agent for MI5 during WWII. A decade after the war, Juliet, now a radio producer, encounters figures from her past.



Melmoth, by Kate Perry (Oct. 16, Custom House, hardcover $28, ISBN 978-0-062-85639-5). Helen Franklin, a translator living in Prague, finds herself searching for the truth behind the dark, legendary figure Melmoth—while also being pursued by her. Gothic mystery novel from the author of The Essex Serpent.




Friday, July 27, 2018

Book Beginnings: The Mystery of the Blue Train


The Mystery of the Blue Train, by Agatha Christie (first published 1928). These are the first lines of Chapter One:
It was close on midnight when a man crossed the Place de la Concorde. In spite of the handsome fur coat which garbed his meagre form, there was something essentially weak and paltry about him.
About the Book:
When the luxurious Blue Train arrives at Nice, a guard attempts to wake serene Ruth Kettering from her slumbers. But she will never wake again—for a heavy blow has killed her, disfiguring her features almost beyond recognition. What is more, her precious rubies are missing.
The prime suspect is Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek. Yet Hercule Poirot is not convinced, so he stages an eerie reenactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board.
(--Harper Collins)
Initial Thoughts:

This was Agatha Christie's 6th book in her Hercule Poirot series, and my first thought is that the man mentioned in these lines can't possibly be the famous Belgian sleuth. There's nothing paltry or weak about Poirot. But that handsome fur coat does sound like something he might wear.

Also, it's not the most thrilling first paragraph. But I like the sound of this one and I've had it on my TBR shelf for quite a few years now. And you really can't go wrong with Agatha Christie, so I'm looking forward to getting this started.

So far, the summer has been sort of a busy one around here, but I think it's slowing down a little now and I'm hoping to get more reading done in August than I have this month. I guess I need a vacation from my vacation!

Happy Friday, everyone! And have a lovely weekend.




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.