Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Beginnings: His Last Bow


His Last Bow: Some Later Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes. This is the first sentence of the title story (which is actually the last story in the collection):
It was nine o'clock at night upon the second of August — the most terrible August in the history of the world.
About the Book:
His Last Bow is a collection of previously published Sherlock Holmes mysteries, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The earliest of the stories first appeared in 1908, and the last one ("His Last Bow") was originally published in 1917, a month before this volume was issued.

Initial Thoughts:

First of all, I'm assuming that the quote is referring to the beginning of the First World War, in August 1914. I'm sure that to Conan Doyle's generation, it did seem like the most terrible August in history.

I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan, though I don't think I've read any of these later stories. But I have seen several of them dramatized for British TV — with the magnificent Jeremy Brett as Holmes. The cover above is not the cover of the book I'm actually reading. It's from a "tie-in" edition, with the actors from the BBC One production (which I haven't seen). I'm reading one of the Kindle editions, with this cover:


I believe the drawing is one of the original illustrations — most of the stories were serialized in magazines and illustrated when they first came out. I have another print edition, one of a complete set of Holmes stories, and it's one I like a lot, so I'll include a photo of that one, too. Just becuz.


......



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.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Fix


This week my teaser lines come from David Baldacci's new thriller, The Fix (Grand Central Publishing, April 2017). It's the latest entry in his "Memory Man" series centered around police detective Amos Decker. This excerpt comes from Location 1772 of the e-book edition, and is from an uncorrected advance copy, so please remember that it might be different in the published volume.
"Good workout?" she asked, without looking at him.
"Any workout I have that doesn't involve a coronary is a good workout for me."
 
Yeah, that's kinda how I feel about workouts, too.





If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.


Monday, April 10, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

So here we are, heading into the middle of April. A quarter of the year, already history. Finding that very hard to accept. But...here we are.

I started the year with a very annoying reading slump that I'm just now beginning to climb out of. Which means I'm waaayyy behind on the list of things I wanted to read this winter/spring. This week, I'm finishing up a book I started back in March:


The Blazing World, by Siri Hustvedt

I'm enjoying it, for the most part. But the fact that I could put it aside for so long probably means something. One of those books that's really longer than it needed to be? Hope to get a review up later in the week — assuming I can stick with it long enough to get it read.

Last week I read one of the books I've chosen for the Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt:


Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

Really enjoyed that one. Hard to believe I've never read it before, since it's one of Christie's best-known works. Review to come, later this week (I hope).

Next up, as soon as I finish the Hustvedt book: probably another I intended to read last month:


The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry

That's one I received through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program and I'm really late in getting to it. Feeling very guilty, especially since Barry is one of my favorite authors.

So, that's my update. Now I'm off to see what everyone else is reading or getting ready to read. Happy Monday, everyone!




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.


Musing Monday 4/10/2017


The Musing Monday meme, hosted at The Purple Booker, asks us to choose one of the following bookish prompts to muse about:
▸ I’m currently reading…
▸ Up next I think I’ll read…
▸ I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
▸ I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
▸ I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
▸ I can’t wait to get a copy of…
▸ I wish I could read ___, but…
▸ I blogged about ____ this past week…
There's also usually an extra, random, question to answer. This week's:
What’s the coolest name you have ever seen in a book? Would you name your offspring after said fictional character?
πŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“š

That's a very intriguing question, but I guess my answer would depend on what is meant by "cool." And though I never had offspring, I always maintained that I'd never name a child after anyone in a book or movie or TV show or song or.... Well, you get it — I wouldn't want to saddle a child with the name of a "character."

But I do have a lengthy list of interesting character names from books (some I've read, some I haven't). Can't think of all of them right now (lucky you!), but here are a handful, in no particular order:
  • Rhett Butler, Scarlett O'Hara, and Bonnie Blue Butler - Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  • Eustacia Vye - The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy
  • Bathsheba Everdene - Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy
  • Hepzibah Pyncheon - The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne 
  • Heathcliff - Wuthering Heights, by Emily BrontΓ«
  • Hercule Poirot - mystery series, by Agatha Christie
  • Holly Golightly - Breakfast At Tiffany's, by Truman Capote
  • Huckleberry Finn - The Adventures of...., by Mark Twain
  • Humbert Humbert - Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Lorna Doone - Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore
  • Sherlock Holmes - mystery series, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Sam Spade - The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
  • Sebastian Flyte - Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
  • Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, and just about all the names in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Nero Wolfe - mystery series, by Rex Stout
  • Ellery Queen - mystery series, by Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee
... and I could go on and on. Maybe I'll do a blog post with the full list someday. Waiting on the edge of your seat, right?

OK, that's enough musing for now. Happy Monday, everyone! And please feel free to leave me a link to your own Monday musings. I love to see what all the other bookworms are chomping on!


Monday, April 03, 2017

Update: Picture Book Reading Challenge - Part 1


I've been a little slow getting started with my reading this year. Didn't read nearly as many books as I usually do in January or February or March, and April isn't looking much better. Just haven't been able to stick with anything long enough to finish it.

But I've done much better with children's books! Guess I've found my level.

I signed up for Becky's Picture Book Reading Challenge and I've already read more than the six book minimum. So I thought I'd do a little update, mainly just so I'll remember what I read and what I thought about it. I'm going to break it up into a couple of parts, so it won't be such an overwhelming post.

I'm using Becky's check list for choosing my books, and the numbers in parentheses here are the numbers from her list.

(17.) a book about pets (cats, dogs, fish):
My Kitten, by Margaret O'Hair; illus. by Tammie Lyon (pub. 2011)


Very cute story told in simple rhymes ("Food kitten, munch kitten, yum kitten, eat. / Lick kitten, fur kitten, clean kitten, neat."), about a little girl and her mischievous kitten. Tammie Lyon's illustrations stretch across two pages and are sweet and full of energy. I think this would be a lovely book to read aloud with your toddler.

(41.) a series book:
Arthur's Nose (25th Anniversary Edition). Marc Brown (first pub. 1976)


I'm a longtime fan of the Arthur cartoon series on PBS (a guilty pleasure), although I had never read any of the books. But they've been so super successful, I was interested to see how it all began. This 25th Anniversary edition of the series' first entry gave me that chance; plus it has extra material by the author, telling about what inspired him to write that first book about the young aardvark and his friends and family. I'm still a fan, but I have to admit if I was a kid just discovering this first book, I'm not sure it would leave me wanting more.

In the story, Arthur doesn't like his nose. He doesn't like the way it looks or the fact that it gets in the way when he plays games. And his friends think it's funny. He decides to change it, and goes to the rhinologist for advice. The rhinologist has him "try on" pictures of other noses to see if one of them suits him better. Well, of course, you know Arthur doesn't end up changing his nose. And that's it. Not the most scintillating of tales. But the pictures are cute and funny, and it's definitely nice to see how Arthur and his pals have changed over the years.

(43.) a book published before 1950:
Millions of Cats, written and illus. by Wanda GΓ‘g (pub. 1928)


A Newbery Honor Book, Wanda GΓ‘g's classic tale of an old man and woman who decide to get a cat is a book I've always known about, and always wanted to read. Strange that I just read it this year for the first time. Have to say, I thought I would like it more than I did. I loved the black-and-white artwork, but somehow I expected better story-telling. Maybe it's one of those books only children really respond to.

(62.) a Caldecott winner:
Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey (1958 Winner)
Another book that's been on my must-read list since it first appeared. However, this one I loved.


McCloskey's classic tale of a summer spent on an island off the coast of Maine is told in gorgeous, atmospheric pictures and stirring, poetic text. The description of the approaching storm and its effects on the family are wonderfully evocative, and the pictures put you right there. It's a beautiful, unforgettable reading experience for children and their elders.

(63.) a Caldecott honor:
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, by Chris Van Allsburg (1980 Honor book)


Young Alan Mitz is looking after Miss Hester's dog Fritz while Miss Hester visits her cousin Eunice. Fritz is not the tamest of canines, which is why cousin Eunice asked that he be left at home. One day while Alan isn't paying enough attention, Fritz runs away and strays into the forbidden garden of dog-hating retired magician, Abdul Gasazi. Of course, Alan has to follow and try to get the bad dog back. He eventually meets Mr. Gasazi and has a rather nasty trick played on him. Does he get Fritz back? You'll have to read the story to find out.

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with all of Chris Van Allsburg's work. I recognize the mastery, but I can't really say I'm attracted to his style of drawing. This is an intriguing story and the garden is appropriately mysterious; and Abdul Gasazi has a bit of magic up his sleeve. Is the magic real? That's a good question to explore with young readers.

(86.) a poetry book:
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, by Joyce Sidman; illus. by Rick Allen (pub. 2010)


This was a Newbery Honor Book for 2011, but I must admit I bought it just because of that cover. What a powerful image! And the artwork between the covers is wonderful, too. Even the Table of Contents page is colorful and fun to look at:


The book sticks to a strict pattern of poetry on the left-hand page, and on the right, a short lesson about the outdoor world at night. I learned quite a lot from those lessons. Some of the poetry rhymes, some doesn't. Some of it is simple and some is a bit more intricate. It's all very intriguing, and should appeal to readers of all ages. But I'm thinking it might be better for younger children to read with an adult — someone to explain the more unfamiliar words, and point out things a child might miss (like the fact that in the poem about the "Dark Emperor," the text is actually shaped like a stylized owl).


Musing Monday 4/03/2017


The Musing Monday meme, hosted at The Purple Booker, asks us to choose one of the following bookish prompts to muse about:
▸ I’m currently reading…
▸ Up next I think I’ll read…
▸ I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
▸ I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
▸ I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
▸ I can’t wait to get a copy of…
▸ I wish I could read ___, but…
▸ I blogged about ____ this past week…
There's also usually an extra, random, question to answer. This week's:
Are there any songs that make you think of certain books or scenes from books? If so, which songs/books?
So — the buying of books....

Well, I bought four books last week, all of them e-books, and all from Amazon. I really would prefer to buy more of my books from local independents, but there just aren't any of those around here. The only book store very near us is a Half-Price Books, and it's about a 45-minute drive away. Also, I've come to realize that I do read faster when I'm reading digital. So when I get a sudden book-buying notion, Amazon is pretty much my best choice.

Anyhoo, these are the books I bought:
The Cat Who Played Post Office, by Lilian Jackson Braun
A Going Concern, by Catherine Aird
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
Now if I could just settle down and actually read something....

And for this week's random question — I can't really think of any books I associate with any specific songs or musical works. I'd be much more likely to connect music with movies or plays or TV shows. But then, I'm not very musical.

OK, that's enough musing for now. Happy Monday, everyone! And please feel free to leave me a link to your own Monday musings. I love to see what all the other bookworms are chomping on!



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Once Upon a Time in the Spring


"In Fairyland," by Richard Doyle, 1870
Generally this time of year brings one of my very favorite reading events — the Once Upon a Time Challenge, hosted by Carl V. Anderson over at his Stainless Steel Droppings blog and dedicated to reading works of fantasy, fairy tales, folklore, and mythology. I've participated (not always successfully, but you know...) in eight of those annual fests, and enjoyed every minute I devoted to them.

"Midsummer Eve," Edward Robert Hughes, ca. 1908
I've been expecting an announcement from Carl about this year's challenge/event, but so far nothing has appeared. So I'm guessing that after ten years of hosting, Carl has had enough. Which I can definitely understand. Still, I love reading those genres in the spring — just feels like a perfect match; so I'm going to continue the tradition on my own.
[UPDATE: I've noticed that on his Facebook page, Carl says he's on vacation and will announce the new Once Upon a Time event when he gets back to his blog. (Yay!) So it might become official any time now (Yay!)]

"A Midsummer Night's Dream: Titania and Fairies" ca. 1896
I might even end up with a reading of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream on Midsummer's Eve.  But even if I don't keep up with that tradition, I'm hoping to read at least a few works that would qualify for a Once Upon a Time event. I'm starting with one of Edward Eager's 1960s kids' fantasy novels — Magic by the Lake.

Cover art by N.M. Bodecker

And after that, I have quite a list of possibilities. Of course, I won't get to all of them; but I hope to read at least one or two of these from my TBR list:
  • After Alice. Gregory Maguire 
  • Beauty. Robin McKinley 
  • Bedknob and Broomstick. Mary Norton 
  • The Bell at Sealey Head. Patricia A. McKillip 
  • The Boggart. Susan Cooper 
  • The Book of Lost Things. John Connolly 
  • The Box of Delights. John Masefield 
  • The Children of Green Knowe. L.M. Boston 
  • The City of Dreaming Books. Walter Moers 
  • The Crystal Cave. Mary Stewart 
  • The Foretelling. Alice Hoffman 
  • James and the Giant Peach. Roald Dahl 
  • The Magic City. E. Nesbit 
  • Magic or Not?  Edward Eager 
  • The Mennyms. Sylvia Waugh 
  • The Mists of Avalon. Marion Zimmer Bradley 
  • The Moon of Gomrath. Alan Garner 
  • Mythago Wood. Robert Holdstock 
  • The Neverending Story. Michael Ende 
  • The Phantom Tollbooth. Norton Juster 
  • The Princess and the Goblin. George MacDonald 
  • Silver on the Tree. Susan Cooper 
  • Solstice Wood. Patricia A. McKillip 
  • Stuart Little. E.B. White 
  • Tuck Everlasting. Natalie Babbitt 
  • The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame 
  • The Witches. Roald Dahl 
  • A Wizard of Earthsea. Ursula K. LeGuin



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Bell at Sealey Head


This week my teaser lines come from Patricia McKillip's 2009 fantasy novel, The Bell at Sealey Head. This quote comes from pg.11:
"Among my eccentricities is the pursuit of things mysterious, otherworldly, magical. There is magic in this place. I want to find it."
I haven't actually started reading this one yet, so I'm not sure what's going on here, or who's pursuing the mysterious, otherworldly and magical. This time of year I usually like to read a little fantasy. Springtime just seems to be the perfect setting for that. And this book has been on my TBR list for quite a while now — so I'm thinking of pulling it out and finally reading it.

And how about you? Do you ever read fantasy? Interested in the mysterious, otherworldly and magical? Or do you prefer that your bookish adventures stay a little closer to the real world?




If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Rosemary's Baby


This week my teaser lines come from Rosemary's Baby, by Ira Levin. This snippet is from p.24 of the new paperback edition (sorry it's more than two sentences, but they're short sentences):
They heard Minnie Castevet before they met her; heard her through their bedroom wall, shouting in a hoarse midwestern bray. "Roman, come to bed! It's twenty past eleven!" And five minutes later: "Roman? Bring me in some root beer when you come!"
Now who doesn't like a nice bit of root beer at bedtime, hmmm?

Levin's wonderfully spooky/funny horror tale has always been one of my favorite books. And since 2017 marks the novel's 50th anniversary (it was first published in 1967), I decided to give it a quick reread and was very happy to find it's just as good now as it was when I first read it back in the Pleistocene Era.

The book has been translated into dozens of languages and reprinted over and over, with most of the covers focussing on the apartment house where it all takes place — like the paperback edition (above) and the original hardback:


But some of the other covers have been a little more creative — not to mention lurid. I like this one which seems to be a Greek edition and features a spooky broken doll that really doesn't have much of anything to do with the story.


Chilling image.

So, is this a book you'd read? Or maybe you've read it in the past? Or do you read horror novels?

Oh, and have you seen the movie? (Also one of my faves.) It's very faithful to the book, and has some great redecorating scenes, if you're into HGTV-type viewing.




If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Book Beginnings: The Fifth Petal


The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry (Crown, January 2017). These are the first lines of the book's Prologue:
November 1, 1989
Salem, Massachusetts 
Isn't it a little late for praying? Tom Dayle thought but did not say.

About the Book:
"When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem's most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed 'The Goddess Murders,' in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?"

Initial Thoughts:

I haven't actually started this one yet, so I'm not really sure exactly who Tom Dayle is or why he's in such a negative mood. But too late for praying sounds like things must be pretty bad.

I loved Brunonia Barry's first book (The Lace Reader, 2006) but was not as impressed with her second effort (The Map of True Places, 2010) — not a terrible read, just not as good as I'd expected. I've been waiting quite a while now for this new book, and I have high hopes.




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.


Man Booker International Prize Longlist


Candidates for this year's Man Booker International Prize have been announced with the release of a 13-book longlist. The prize is awarded annually for a single book, translated into English and published in the UK. The award of £50,000 (about $61,020) is divided equally between the author of the winning book and its translator. A shortlist of six books will be released April 20th, and the winner named on June 14th in London. This year's longlisted titles are:
  • Compass by Mathias Enard (France), trans. by Charlotte Mandell
  • Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg (Poland), trans. by Eliza Marciniak
  • A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman (Israel), trans. by Jessica Cohen
  • War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans (Belgium), trans. by David McKay
  • The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (Norway), trans. by Don Bartlett & Don Shaw
  • The Traitor's Niche by Ismail Kadare (Albania), trans. by John Hodgson
  • Fish Have No Feet by Jon Kalman Stefansson (Iceland), trans. by Phil Roughton
  • The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke (China), trans. by Carlos Rojas
  • Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou (France), trans. by Helen Stevenson
  • Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer (Germany), trans. by Katy Derbyshire
  • Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors (Denmark), trans. by Misha Hoekstra
  • Judas by Amos Oz (Israel), trans. by Nicholas de Lange
  • Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (Argentina), trans. by Megan McDowell

The 13 books have been translated from 11 different languages, across Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East.

Some interesting titles in the list. Unfortunately, they're not always available here in the US, at least not right away. But the fact that they've been nominated for such a prestigious award can mean wider publication, so I'm sure they'll get here eventually.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Book Beginnings: The Mists of Avalon


The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (first published 1982). These are the first lines of the book's Prologue:
Morgaine speaks . . .
In my time I have been called many things: sister, lover, priestess, wise-woman, queen.

About the Book:
In Bradley's masterpiece the legend of King Arthur "is for the first time told through the lives, the visions, the perceptions of the women central to it. For the first time, the Arthurian world of Avalon and Camelot with all its passions and adventures — the world that, through the centuries, each generation has re-created in countless works of fictions, poetry, drama — is revealed as is might have been experienced by its heroines: by Queen Guinevere, Arthur's wife (here called Gwenhwyfar); by Igraine, his mother; by Viviane, the majestic Lady of the Lake, High Priestess of Avalon; and, most important, by Arthur's sister, Morgan, who has come down to us as Morgan of the Faeries, as Morgan le Fay — as sorceress, as witch — and who in this epic retelling of the story plays a crucial role both in Arthur's crowning and destruction. Above all it is a story of the profound conflict between Christianity and the old religion of Avalon."

Initial Thoughts:

Well, I'm not sure I can really call them initial thoughts, since I've been thinking about reading this one for several decades now. So when I was looking around recently for a book with MIST in its title, for the Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge, this one immediately came to mind. This could be the year I finally tackle it — it's a real chunkster (somewhere between 800 and 1100 pages, depending on the edition), and I generally try to stay away from anything that long. I'm a slow reader and tend to get bored with anything over 300 or so pages. But I do love the Camelot story, and the idea of seeing it from the female point of view is very attractive. Maybe it's time to just settle down and devote some of my spring reading time to Guinevere and Arthur et al.

So? To read or not to read? Too long to bother with? Or just the right thing to get lost in this month? What d'ya think?

Oh, and the book has been translated into many languages over the years. One of the covers I really like is this one from an Italian edition. (And no, I don't read Italian — regrettably.)






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.


Baileys Prize Longlist

The longlist has been announced for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, which celebrates "excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women throughout the world." I believe it was issued yesterday, in time for International Women's Day. The Prize was previously known as the Orange Prize, and after this year will be known as something else — apparently Baileys is "re-focusing" their marketing strategies and dropping sponsorship of the book prize. The award is one of the highest-profile book prizes in the world and one of the very few specifically focused on women.

The winner will be announced June 7, and will receive £30,000 (about $36,500). The longlisted books are:
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Little Deaths by Emma Flint
The Mare by Mary Gaitskill
The Dark Circle by Linda Grant
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
Midwinter by Fiona Melrose
The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Barkskins by Annie Proulx
First Love by Gwendoline Riley
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain

I've got a couple of those title on my "interesting-new-books" list (The Essex Serpent, The Gustav Sonata), but most of the others I'm hearing about for the first time. I did try to read McBride's The Lesser Bohemians last month, but had to abandon it almost immediately — I kept getting tangled up in the stream-of-consciousness confusion. (I'm confused enough on my own.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Blazing World


I think this is the first teaser I've posted this year. Where've I been? Anyway, this week my teaser lines come from The Blazing World, by Siri Hustvedt. This snippet comes early in the book, from pg.5 (or Location 118 of the Kindle edition):
Victor Hugo: "God became man, granted. The devil became a woman." 
I've never read Victor Hugo, but I've heard that quote before. And I still resent it.

This is one of those ARCs from a couple of years ago that managed to slip between the cracks in my reading that year. I feel very guilty about that, and really owe the publisher and author an apology. Especially since I'm enjoying the book so much now. Really wish I'd actually read it before now. Oh well....




If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book Beginnings: The Ballad of Peckham Rye


The Ballad of Peckham Rye, by Muriel Spark (first published 1960). This is the book's first sentence:
"Get away from here, you dirty swine," she said.

About the Book:
A man of devilish charm and enterprising spirit, Dougal Douglas is employed to revitalize the ailing firm of Meadows, Meade & Grindley. He succeeds, but not quite in the way his employer intended. Strange things begin to happen as Dougal exerts an uncanny influence on the inhabitants of Peckham Rye and brings lies, tears, blackmail and even murder into the lives of all he meets.
Initial Thoughts:

I think that's a pretty neat opening. And if it's Dougal Douglas who's the dirty swine, I think I like him already.

I've had this book on my TBR list for decades now, and finally decided to read it for the Read Scotland Challenge over at GoodReads. Muriel Spark is one of my favorite writers, and I'm determined to read all her novels, eventually. This one is pretty short, so I'm hoping to get a review up in a day or two. Unless, of course, real life gets in the way.





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 20, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

February 20th! How is that possible? This year is really zipping right along. I got a pretty fast start in January, but I've slowed down quite a bit in February — only finished two books so far:
Devil Sent the Rain, by Lisa Turner

and....

The Roanoke Girls, by Amy Engel (review still to come)

This week, I have a couple of books going:

The Sleepwalker, by Chris Bohjalian

and....

The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry

I'm pretty sure that's enough to keep me busy. But now I'm off to check out what everyone else is reading. Have a great week, ya'll!




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.


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.