Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book Beginnings: The Sleepwalker


The Sleepwalker, by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday, January 2017). These are the book's opening lines:
It makes all the sense in the world. You awaken and smell smoke and see that the cat at the foot of your bed is on fire. And so you scoop him up and race to the bathroom and douse him with water in the tub. You reassure him that he'll be fine — he is fine — telling him that everything's okay. You hold him firmly but gently under the faucet because you are worried about his burns. 
The only thing is, you're not awake. 
About the Book:
....a spine-tingling novel of lies, loss, and buried desire. Annalee Ahlberg is a sleepwalker, and when she disappears from her bed one night, her children fear the worst. It appears as if she has "walked to her death" in the river near her Vermont home. But did something more nefarious happen?
My Thoughts:

My first thought was Whoa! what a terrible dream. Well, not actually a dream, I guess. I've never had any experience of sleepwalking, so I'm not exactly sure if you can call it dreaming. Sometimes the Hubby talks in his sleep, but fortunately he never gets up and walks around while he's sleeping. That would be decidedly spooky.

I've read one other book by Bohjalian, and enjoyed it quite a lot. This one has gotten some really glowing reviews, so I'm looking forward to getting into it. Hoping no actual flaming kitties show up, though.



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, February 06, 2017

Reading Report: Devil Sent the Rain

Lisa Turner
William Morrow, 2016; 350 pages

Publisher's Description:
Fresh from solving Memphis’ most sensational murder case, Homicide Detective Billy Able and his ambitious new partner Frankie Malone are called to a bizarre crime scene on the outskirts of town. A high society attorney has been murdered while dressed in a wedding gown. Billy is shocked to discover he has a very personal connection to the victim. When the attorney’s death exposes illegal practices at her family’s prestigious law firm, the scandal is enough to rock the southern city’s social world. 
In a tale of the remnants of Old South aristocracy and entitlement, twisted by greed and vengeance, Billy must confront the secrets of his own past to have any chance at solving the murder of the girl he once knew. But as he seeks the truth, he’s drawn closer to an embittered killer bent on revenge—and eliminating the threat Billy poses.
My Thoughts:

This is the third book in Turner's Detective Billy Able series of police procedurals set in Memphis, Tennessee. And for the most part, I thought it was a very good mystery novel. And even though it's part of an established series, it works very nicely as a stand-alone. I haven't read any of the earlier books in the series, and I never felt that put a damper on my enjoyment.

And I did enjoy it, even though I thought it was a little too long. I seem to be saying that about nearly every book I read these days — but in this case, I really do think the book would have been a more powerful experience if the author had tightened it up a bit. There's so much description that a lot of it just sounds like padding — I like local color as much as anyone (and Memphis is one of my favorite cities), but I really don't need to have the complete history of every building or location the main character enters, drives by, or calls up in his memory. Also, there are quite a few characters to keep track of, and I kept having to go back and remind myself who was who and how they all related to the story. That slowed things down even more.

But the author did keep me guessing right up to the last few chapters. Also, Billy Able is an attractive character, and I was intrigued by the interplay between him and his ambitious, rather prickly female partner. So, while I thought there was room for improvement, I still enjoyed the book a lot. I definitely wouldn't mind reading more in this series.

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(Note: I received my copy of this book from the publisher, free of charge, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received, and no one tried to influence my opinion of the book.)

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Qualifies for the following reading challenges: New Authors; New To Me .


Reading Report: As Good As Gone

Larry Watson
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2016; 341 pages

Publisher's Description:
It’s 1963, and Calvin Sidey, one of the last of the old cowboys, has long ago left his family to live a life of self-reliance out on the prairie. He’s been a mostly absentee father and grandfather until his estranged son asks him to stay with his grandchildren, Ann and Will, for a week while he and his wife are away. So Calvin agrees to return to the small town where he once was a mythic figure, to the very home he once abandoned. 
But trouble soon comes to the door when a boy’s attentions to seventeen-year-old Ann become increasingly aggressive and a group of reckless kids portend danger for eleven-year-old Will. Calvin knows only one way to solve problems: the Old West way, in which scores are settled and ultimatums are issued and your gun is always loaded. And though he has a powerful effect on those around him – from the widowed neighbor who has fallen under his spell to Ann and Will, who see him as the man who brings a sudden and violent order to their lives – in the changing culture of the 1960s, Calvin isn’t just a relic; he’s a wild card, a danger to himself and those who love him.
My Thoughts:

As Good As Gone is a bit of a modern-day update of the classic western novel, and is not exactly the sort of fiction I normally read. But I've heard so many good reports about Watson's Montana 1948, I decided to step outside my comfort zone for once, and take a chance.

It's an interesting book — well drawn characters, and a pretty good story that held my attention...mostly. The tale develops in a very leisurely fashion, and the focus keeps changing from one character to another, and after a while I just really wanted it to go ahead and wrap up.

Calvin Sidey was an intriguing guy and I kept hoping he'd finally demonstrate some real growth — that was the main thing that kept me reading. I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just say that I was not entirely happy with the final outcome.

So not a terrible read, but not destined for my "faves" list. However, I was impressed enough with Watson's writing to want to take a look at some of his earlier work. And that's definitely a good result.

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(Note: I received my copy of this book from the publisher, free of charge, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received, and no one tried to influence my opinion of the book.)

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Qualifies for the following reading challenges: Historical Fiction; New Authors; New To Me; What's In A Name.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Book Beginnings: The Lesser Bohemians


The Lesser Bohemians, by Eimear McBride (Hogarth, September 2016). These are the book's first lines:
I move. Cars move. Stock, it bends light. City opening itself behind. Here's to be for its life is the bite and would be start of mine.
About the Book:
"A captivating story of passion and innocence, joy and discovery, set against the vibrant atmosphere of 1990s London over the course of a single year...
One night, an eighteen-year-old Irish girl, recently arrived in London to attend drama school, meets an older man — a well-regarded actor in his own right. While she is naive and thrilled by life in the big city, he is haunted by more than a few demons, and the clamorous relationship that ensues risks undoing them both."
Initial Thoughts:

Well, the description of the book sounds interesting — which is why I requested it from the Early Reviewer batch at Library Thing (yes, I'm way behind in my reading). But that opening is so strange, I'm wondering if I'll be able to stick with it. 

How about it? Sound like something you'd continue with? Or would you move on to something a little less challenging?




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, January 27, 2017

Book Beginnings: In Thrall


In Thrall, by Eva Hanagan (The Odyssey Press, November 2016; first published 1977). These are the book's first lines:
I dug her grave beneath the big pine tree on the edge of the clearing, and when I had finished I sat crouched upon a rough exposed tree root and let handfuls of dry pine needles trickle through my fingers until all the dark fresh loam was gently covered in sepia gold. I could feel the eyes of the watchers upon me, although I could not see them, as my own were masked with tears.
About the Book:
"Recently-widowed Amelia Grace seizes the opportunity to escape her stifling middle-class suburban life by becoming the new occupant of Thatchers Cottage, with Ponsonby the cat her only company. A yearning for peace and tranquillity that has so far eluded her draws her towards the small stretch of woodland at the edge of her land. 
...she passes many an hour there each day, drinking in the life-giving spirit of the clearing near the curious rocky mound. 
But is a tranquil woodland atmosphere all there is to it? Is there more to the local folklore about the woods at Thatchers than just ‘old wives’ tales’?"
Initial Thoughts:

The watchers? What watchers? And whose grave are we digging? Hmmm.

Thinking about reading this one for the Read Scotland Challenge at Goodreads. I had never heard of this book or its author before I discovered it while browsing at Amazon the other day. Eva Hanagan was a Scottish writer and In Thrall, her first novel, was published in 1977. That beginning definitely makes me want to sample a little more. What about you?



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.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This week I've been doing a lot of work on my other blog (joysweb), so I haven't really been getting a lot of reading done. So far, in January I've finished a couple of books that I had on my list for the month:

Faithful, by Alice Hoffman

The Ballad of Peckham Rye, by Muriel Spark

(Reviews to come later this week.)

And then I got sidetracked by a true crime book I found on sale at Amazon:


It definitely wasn't on any of my lists, but I'm enjoying it a lot. After I finish that one, I'll probably be starting The Fifth Petal, the new novel by Brunonia Barry:


I loved Barry's first novel, The Lace Reader, a few years ago, so I have high hopes for this one.




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.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Reading Challenge Addict, That's Me!


Yes, I am a reading challenge addict. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, but it's a reality and I have to face it. I always start out saying "only one or two this year," and inevitably end up signed up for a dozen or more (16 so far this year). So, I figure I might as well join the group and declare myself. Also hoping this will help me keep myself organized in 2017. During the year, I'll be doing most of my record-keeping and progress-tracking over on my challenge blog (HERE), but I'll try to update this post too, if I can remember.

My 2017 Reading Challenges:

Reading Goal: 2 books each in 17 categories
Books Read:  


Reading Goal: 50 books


Reading Goal: 50 books


Reading Goal: 12 books


Reading Goal: 2-6 books


Reading Goal: 10 books


Reading Goal: 4 books


Reading Goal: 5 books


Reading Goal: 12 books


Reading Goal: 15-20 books


Reading Goal: No set number of books


Reading Goal: 20 books 


Reading Goal: at least 6 books


Reading Goal: 1-5 books


Reading Goal: at least 6 books


Reading Goal: 6 books

...