Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: Night Watch

This week, my teaser lines come from Linda Fairstein's new mystery novel, Night Watch. This snippet is from the opening paragraphs of the book, and I'm taking them from an advance reading copy, so please be aware they might be different in the published version (due out July 10th):
Bones. Human bones the length of a man’s thigh. I stopped short at the sight of more than a dozen of them stacked like a cord of firewood just steps in front of me.

I paused to catch my breath before heaving my shoulder against the thick wooden door for the third time.
This is one of Fairstein's Alexandra Cooper mysteries, and it's the first book I've read from that series. I'm only a few chapters into it, but so far it's holding my interest. Still haven't really found out much about those bones, though.

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, June 25, 2012

Seven-Day Magic

Written by Edward Eager
Illustrated by N.M Bodecker

Odyssey/Harcourt Young Classic, 1999; 191 pages
Originally published 1962

It was then that Susan looked back and saw the book sitting all by itself at one end of the bottom shelf. It was a red book, smallish but plump, comfortable and shabby. There had once been gilt letters on the back, but these had rubbed away, and Susan couldn't read the name of what it was. Still, it looked odd enough to be interesting and worn enough to have been enjoyed by countless generations. On a sudden impulse she added it to the pile in her arms.... (p.4)

Many many many MANY years ago, I read Edward Eager's Half-Magic and fell in love with his whimsical brand of magic fiction. And now that I'm all grown up, I still love it and I've been slowly working my way through Eager's list of fantasy novels for young readers. And, of course, the Once Upon a Time Challenge gave me the perfect excuse to finish off another one!

Seven-Day Magic was published in 1962, just two years before Eager's death. It was the last book in the bunch and the only one to feature a group of child protagonists who don't appear in any of the other books. It's a good stand-alone story, perfect for anyone not familiar with the other books -- although I'd really recommend starting at the beginning with Half-Magic (from 1954).

The plot revolves around John and Susan (twins, tall and blonde, and in fifth grade), and their neighbors Barnaby, Abbie and Fredericka, and what happens after they find a very old and very tattered book on one of their Saturday morning visits to the public library. They check the book out and are told it's a seven-day book -- strange, they think, since usually only the newest books have to be returned so quickly. And things get even stranger when they realize that the book is recording every word they say and all their actions from the time they discovered it right up to the moment they opened it. Beyond that, the pages are blank and seem to be just waiting for the children to come up with ideas to fill it full of adventures.

Which of course they do. And when Fredericka starts everything off by asking for an adventure with "wizards and witches and magic things," she's suddenly carried off by a dragon!

Not to worry, though -- the other children write themselves into the story right behind Fredericka and rescue her. But they've learned that wishing can be serious (and dangerous), and must be well planned (one of the most appealing aspects of all Eager's books is the way in which we get to watch the kids figuring out how the magic works). And eventually, they also discover that the book is a little different for each of them "because to each person it was the particular book that person had always longed to find."

This is a charming little book, and if I had read it as a child, I know I would have loved it. It might be a little slow and old-fashioned -- and, well, bookish -- for today's kids. But I'd still recommend it to anyone, old and young alike, who likes a good fantasy tale.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Booking Through Thursday: Quotable

This week BTT asks: "Do you have a favorite quote from a book?" And as a matter of fact, I do have some favorite quotes. In fact, I have hundreds of them! Possibly thousands! But don't worry -- I won't repeat them here.

Actually, a few years back, Booking Through Thursday asked a couple of similar questions about favorite opening and closing passages from books, and you can take a look at my answers here and here.

But for today's topic -- whenever anyone asks me about a favorite quote, one sentence always springs to mind:
Reader, I married him.
It's from Jane Eyre, and while it's not the absolute last line of the book (I believe it's the first sentence of the final chapter), I've always thought it really should be. It's such a wonderful way to bring one of the world's most romantic novels to a close.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: Artists in Crime

This week my teaser lines come from Artists in Crime, one of the Inspector Alleyn mysteries by Ngaio Marsh. In this snippet, the Inspector is interviewing a young art student who's one of the witnesses (and also one of the suspects, of course) in his latest case:
"Are you sure of that, Miss Lee?"

"Yes....I was absolutely exhausted. It always takes it out of me most frightfully when I paint. It simply drains every ounce of my energy. I even forget to breathe."

"That must be most uncomfortable," said Alleyn gravely. (p.70)

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, June 18, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Because of our recent move (from Virginia to Texas), I really haven't had the time to read much of anything lately. In fact, I got to sit down yesterday and actually open a book for the first time in many, many weeks. And it was wonderful.

Of course, the book was one I would have considered wonderful even if it hadn't been the first book I've looked at in two months -- Ngaio Marsh's Artists in Crime, one of her Inspector Alleyn mystery novels -- and I'm really looking forward to finishing it up and maybe saying a few words about it here on this very blog! And then (who knows?) I might even get to start reading something else this week!

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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: Skios

Wow, it's been a long, long time since I posted a Teaser Tuesday quote. The hubby and I have been spending the last couple of months getting ready for our move to Texas. And then actually moving to Texas. And then getting settled in the new house in Texas.

And all during that time, I really haven't had much time for blogging -- or reading, either. So this week's quote is coming from one of the books I should be reading right now -- Michael Frayn's new novel, Skios:
...she had slowly become aware of...what? Something. Some kind of feeling in her back. An uneasiness...The faint clammy touch of an alien gaze resting upon it. She was not alone. She was being watched. This was when the freezing paralysis had crept through her, even in the heat of the mid-morning sun. (p.92)
Sorry -- I know that's a lot more than two sentences (as usual). And since I haven't actually started this one, I'm not sure what's going on there, or who's watching who. Sounds a little more mysterious than I usually expect from Frayn, but snippets can be deceiving.

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, June 07, 2012

Booking Through Thursday: Secondly

This week, BTT asks: "Favorite secondary characters? (Note the plural)."

Yes, I've got some.

But it's very late, and I've got to get some sleep tonight, so I only have time to mention one.

And actually, one of my absolute favorite literary characters is a secondary. Ariadne Oliver is a recurring character in several of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot mystery novels. She's a wonderfully eccentric character -- an author of mystery novels herself, and Christie's alter ego. She frequently complains about her most famous creation, the Finnish detective Sven Hjerson, just as Christie was known to complain about her famous Belgian sleuth Poirot. Mrs. Oliver (apparently a widow, although we don't really learn much about her husband in the novels) appears in only seven of the books, and a few short stories. I've always wished Christie had seen fit to let her star in a few works of her own.