Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Beginnings: The Days of Anna Madrigal


Lately I've mostly been reading mysteries, thrillers, and ghostly tales. Which I love.  But the last one left me so spooked, I decided I needed something completely different -- and Armistead Maupin's The Days of Anna Madrigal is certainly that.  Here's the opening paragraph:
Summer had been warmer than usual this year, but the heat that throbbed in the East Bay was already coaxing pale fingers of fog into the city. Anna could feel this on her skin, the chilly caress she had come to think of as "candle weather." She had not owned a fireplace since her landlady days on Russian Hill, but to her mind the proper application of candlelight carried all the primal comfort of a campfire.

Initial Thoughts:

Well, I'm intrigued, I guess -- all that fog and candlelight and chilly caressing draws me in. Also, I know that Anna is 92 years old, and I'm always interested in books with older protagonists. I haven't read any of the earlier books in this series (this is number 9, and apparently the final volume), so this will be my introduction to Maupin's San Francisco tales. I've heard lots of good stuff about the books (and the TV mini-series, which I've also never seen), so I'm looking forward to getting immersed in this one.



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, November 18, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: Bliss House


This week my teaser lines come from Bliss House by Laura Benedict:
She wouldn't own Bliss House if it hadn't been for the murder. The thought struck her with its full force. Another woman's blood had helped her become the mistress of Bliss House. (p.83)
It's definitely an unsettling read, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far.





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, November 11, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: Peter Pan Must Die

This week my teaser lines come from the latest novel in John Verdon's Dave Gurney series, Peter Pan Must Die. I love the Gurney books, and this new one is my favorite so far.

In this snippet, Dave is speaking with his wife Madeleine, about his grown son Kyle. (The quote is taken from an advance copy of the book, so please remember it might be different in the published edition.)
"I used to tell Kyle when he was a kid that one key to a happy life, a happy career, was to find an activity you enjoyed enough that you'd be willing to do it without being paid -- then find someone willing to pay you to do it. Well, not many people succeed in doing that. Pilots, musicians, actors, artists, and athletes, mainly. And hit men...." (p.281)
You have to realize that Gurney is a retired police detective who's investigated some pretty gruesome crimes -- it's given him a unique, if ever so slightly skewed, perspective on life. Well, maybe a little more than slightly skewed.




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.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Book Beginnings: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches


For this week's Book Beginnings on Friday, I'm looking at one of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce novels, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. Here are the first lines from the book's Prologue:
"Your mother has been found."
Nearly a week after he had made it, Father's shocking announcement was still ringing in my ears.
Harriet! Harriet found! Who could believe it?
Harriet, who had been lost in a mountaineering accident when I was barely a year old; Harriet, whom I can't remember seeing, ever, with my own eyes.
My reaction?
Numbness, I'm afraid.
Initial Thoughts:
I read the first of the Flavia books, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, when it first came out back in 2009. Haven't read any of the others -- the one I'm quoting from here is No. 6, so I'm supposing I'll be doing some catching up with all the characters. I had forgotten about Flavia's lost mother, so hearing that she'd been found was sort of a double surprise. I enjoyed the first book, and so far I'm having fun with this one, too.



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.

Monday, November 03, 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 didn't get a huge amount of reading done last week. Somehow, we'd managed to schedule a bunch of medical/dental stuff all in one week (I hate it when that happens), and that took up a lot of time that would have been reading time. Took my Kindle with me, and read as much as I could in the various waiting rooms. But that's not as easy as it used to be, now that all medical facilities have TVs blasting talk shows all day, and everyone in the place is on a cell phone. I find it so very strange that people will have the most intimate conversations right out loud on their phones, not caring who's hearing it.

But I digress.

I did manage to finish a couple of books last week:
  • Children of the Revolution, by Peter Robinson (The latest Inspector Banks mystery - number 21! Enjoyable, as always.)
  • The Dirty Book Murder, by Thomas Shawver (Which is the first book in a new mystery series set in the world of rare books and book collecting. And, no matter what the title and cover might make you think, not pornographic.)

OK, what's up this week? Well, the RIP/9 reading event/challenge ended October 31st, and I'm sort of mourning its passing. Just not ready to give up on reading the dark stuff. So this week, I'll be starting Bliss House, a ghost-y novel by Laura Benedict,

and possibly Blue Labyrinth, the new Pendergast thriller by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

And to balance out all that darkness, I'm also reading something a bit lighter (although still a suspense tale, but romantic suspense): Murder at the Painted Lady, by Barbara Warren.

So that's it.  Oh, and I'm also thinking of signing up for a new fall reading challenge I stumbled onto the other day.  It's called The Come Sit a Spell Challenge, and it's hosted over at Book Dragon's Lair. It's appealingly free-form, and I'm thinking it might be just what I need to keep me on track with my reading for the rest of the year.


Monday, October 27, 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.

Well, I really don't have a lot of updating to do this week.  I'm still reading the same book I was reading last week -- Children of the Revolution, by Peter Robinson. But the fact that it's taking me too long to finish isn't the fault of the book; I've just had a lot of STUFF going on lately that's kept me from reading as much as I'd like.


I'm hoping to get done with this one in a day or two and move on to something new.

I've also been doing a little more catchup work with reviews. I've been really very lazy about posting reviews this year, so I'm trying to write at least a few sentences about each of the books I've read -- just enough to remind myself that I did indeed read the book, and what I thought of it. Posted these over the weekend:


The Good Suicides, by Antonio Hill 

The Innocent Sleep, by Karen Perry

Love Story, With Murders, by Harry Bingham 

The Transcriptionist, by Amy Rowland

I'll probably be posting lots of short reviews in the days to come. Very short reviews. Anyway, that's the plan for the moment.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Reading Report: The Innocent Sleep

Written by Karen Perry
Henry Holt and Company, 2014; 323 pages

As The Innocent Sleep begins, Harry and Robin are young artists living in Tangier with their son Dillon.  One night, while Harry is preparing a birthday dinner for Robin, he suddenly remembers that he's left her gift at the café in town. Robin is still at work, and the café is only a five minute walk away, so Harry decides to run out while three-year-old Dillon is asleep upstairs. Dillon is a problem at bedtime, as he doesn't sleep easily, so once in a while Harry has been in the habit of slipping small amounts of sleeping pills into Dillon's nighttime drink -- something he knows is wrong, but on this night it does solve the difficult problem. Also on this night, though, disaster strikes. While Harry is out, an earthquake hits the city. Dillon is apparently killed when the house is destroyed, although his body is never found.

Five years later, Harry and Robin have moved back to their native Dublin and are trying to rebuild their lives, while still grieving for Dillon. Harry's career as an artist is beginning to take off and Robin, who has abandoned art to study architecture, has just discovered she's pregnant again. Things seem to be going well enough, until Harry gets a glimpse of a child he's sure is Dillon on a crowded Dublin street, and the past -- along with its secrets -- comes crashing back on them.

Could the child really be Dillon? How could he have survived the earthquake? And how would he have ended up so near them in Dublin? Was the sighting just a figment of Harry's guilt-ridden imagination? Or is someone playing a cruel and dangerous game?

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this one very much, in spite of a few slightly bothersome complaints. All the way through, I kept having the niggling feeling that there was just too much coincidence and convenient turn-around going on. But then it is a thriller, and you know, going in, there will definitely be surprises, twists and about-face plot developments. So I just made up my mind to go with the flow. As it were.

Also, the frequent changes in narrator/point of view got tedious very quickly. The two main characters, Robin and Harry, take turns narrating the chapters -- and I'm getting a little fed up with that technique. But those were really minor flaws and not enough to spoil the reading experience for me.

Certainly a book I'd recommend to anyone looking for a quick, suspenseful read.

(Just gotta say this. The whole time I was reading The Innocent Sleep, I had trouble getting beyond the fact that the author, "Karen Perry," is actually a two-person writing team -- Dublin-based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. Not that I care whether or not a book has multiple authors; I think that's fine. But why not just use both names?)

Disclaimer:
I received my copy of The Innocent Sleep free of charge from the publisher, through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received, and no one influenced my opinion of the book.