Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Beginnings: Midnight in Europe


One of the books I finished this week was Alan Furst's Midnight in Europe. The novel is set mainly in Paris in the years leading up to World War II, but it begins in New York. Here's the opening paragraph:
On a soft, winter evening in Manhattan, the fifteenth of December, 1937, it started to snow; big flakes spun lazily in the sky, danced in the lights of the office buildings, then melted as they hit the pavement. At Saks Fifth Avenue the window displays were lush and glittering -- tinsel, toy trains, sugary frost dusted on the glass -- and a crowd had gathered at the main entrance, drawn by a group of carolers dressed for a Dickens Christmas in long mufflers, top hats, and bonnets. Here then, for as long as it lasted, was a romantic New York, the New York in a song on the radio.
Initial Thoughts: I liked it: This opening paints a really attractive picture, and stirs several very pleasant memories. As a kid growing up in the 1950s, I was always amazed and delighted by those wonderful Christmas windows the major department stores produced, with Santa and elves and model trains, and toys that seemed to come to life. (Just like the opening of "A Christmas Story," one of my favorite holiday movies.) And even though I really don't like snow, I do have some great, snowy memories of visiting Manhattan around Christmas or New Year's Eve -- it's a very busy, very vibrant season in the life of a city I love. So, I was sort of pulled in, right from the opening page. Of course, this is a novel about war and espionage, so we know the idyllic holiday scene definitely can't last. This was an enjoyable read, but not quite what I was expecting -- review to come soon (I hope).



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, June 24, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: The Transcriptionist

This week my teaser lines come from The Transcriptionist, the debut novel by Amy Rowland.  I haven't actually started this one, but it's next up, right after I finish my current read (Love Story, With Murders by Harry Bingham -- which I'm enjoying much more than I expected to). 

This snippet comes from page 85 of the ARC.  And since I'm quoting an advance copy, please remember that the published edition might be different (I've never had that happen, but in theory...you never know). So, here we go:
"Carol, why didn't you correct Morris just now when he called you Lena?"
"Oh, it's not that important."
"It's your name, Carol, of course it's important."
..."Russell, it's just that" -- she takes a deep breath and says it quickly, quietly, on the exhale -- "my name is Lena."
Poor guy. Poor girl.

This exchange really resonated with me because I've always had that problem of people calling me by some name that's not my own. Usually when they hear "Joy" they think "Joyce" -- so over the years I've learned to answer to Joyce a lot of the time. Or Jane. Or Joan. Or Jill. Sometimes it's just not worth correcting. Although that has occasionally led to rather surreal incidents. For a while I did temporary office work in Washington DC, and at one of my assignments one of the junior execs invariably called me Amy. Even though I did correct him repeatedly. But after a while I got fed up and just answered to Amy. Then one day he upped the weirdness level by saying, with a perfectly straight face, "You know, you really don't look like an Amy." Fortunately, that temp job ended soon after, before we had more encounters of the bizarro variety.

And I think I actually DO look sort of like an Amy.  I wonder if Amy Rowland ever gets called JOY?





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, May 20, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: The Bookman's Tale

This week my teaser lines come from The Bookman's Tale, by Charlie Lovett. I started this one back around the beginning of the year, and then put it aside to finish up a few other books. I really intended to get back to it much sooner, but somehow it just kept getting pushed further and further back in the lineup. You know how that works, right? I'm really enjoying it, though, and hope to finish it up this week.

I'm reading this on the Kindle, so I'm not sure about page numbers, but this snippet is at Location 622, early in the book. Here we have the main character, future book dealer Peter Byerly on a first date with the young woman who will eventually become his wife:
"You know," said Peter, "I've discovered two things in the Ridgefield Library that fascinate me -- rare books and you."
"I'm glad I fascinate you, Peter Byerly," she said. "I don't even mind being second on your list."




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.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Book Beginnings: Love Story, with Murders


Just started this one -- Love Story, with Murders, by Harry Bingham. It's a Library Thing Early Reviewer book from a few months back, so I need to read it quickly and get a review posted. These are the opening lines:
Cardiff Prison. September 2010.
"Welcome."
Penry opens his hands in what's meant to be a spreading gesture, only they never get more than about eight inches apart. It's as though the ghosts of his handcuffs are still there.
Initial Thoughts:  Well, it's not exactly a riveting start. But I've been looking for books with a Welsh connection, and this one is set in Cardiff. It's a little grittier than the whodunnits I generally read -- begins with a severed leg found in someone's freezer. One of those books you don't want to be reading near mealtimes. But so far, I'm enjoying it.



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, March 17, 2014

Monday Reading Update

Haven't finished any books lately. Actually, I've been in a very annoying reading slump all month. I've got several books going, but can't seem to stick with any of them for very long. Here's what I've been reading:


The Asylum. John Harwood
The Bookman's Tale. Charlie Lovett
The Innocent Sleep. Karen Perry
The Thief of Always. Clive Barker

I'm enjoying all of them ﹣ just can't settle down to any one long enough to get it finished. I'm hoping my "slump" will end with the winter ﹣ assuming this winter DOES eventually END.


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.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Beginnings: The Weight of Blood

Image credit: Good Reads

The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh: a suspense novel set in the Ozark Mountains. I haven't actually started this one yet, but it's in my "must read soon" stack.  Here's the first sentence:
That Cheri Stoddard was found at all was the thing that set people on edge, even more so than the condition of her body.

Initial Thoughts: Well, that opening got my attention.  Perhaps a little grisly, but I'm definitely intrigued. Would you go on reading?


http://www.rosecityreader.com/2013/12/book-beginning-sinful-folk-by-ned-hayes.html

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.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Book Beginnings: The Thief of Always


Don't know how I've managed to miss out on Clive Barker, but The Thief of Always is my introduction to his work.  It was a recommended e-book on Amazon the other day, so I downloaded it to the Kindle and started reading.  Here's the first paragraph:
The great gray beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive. Here he was, buried in the belly of that smothering month, wondering if he would ever find his way out through the cold coils that lay between here and Easter.

Initial Thoughts:  I started reading this in February, and it just reached out and grabbed me.  I felt exactly the same way young Harvey felt: Will we never see the end of this ridiculously long, cold winter?  "Great gray beast" describes it perfectly.  So I definitely loved the beginning -- and so far, the rest of the book has been pretty enjoyable too. Of course, it's another young adult novel -- I seem to be sort of stuck in the young adult world this year.  But at least I'm reading again. 


http://www.rosecityreader.com/2013/12/book-beginning-sinful-folk-by-ned-hayes.html

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, March 04, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: While Beauty Slept


This week my teaser lines come from While Beauty Slept, by Elizabeth Blackwell.  I haven't started this one yet -- just opened it this morning to find something to tease with -- so I don't really know a lot about what's going on.  This snippet comes from the Prologue (page 3, or Loc.52 of the Kindle edition):
Even in that dimly lit space, the emeralds and rubies embedded in the dagger's handle sparkled. The sharp, cruel blade retained its silvery luster, and I felt a wave of revulsion as I remembered that same surface coated in blood.
Generally, I'm not a huge fan of the re-imagined fairy tale, but I've heard good things about this one.


http://shouldbereading.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/teaser-tuesdays-jan-7/

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, March 03, 2014

Monday Reading Update

Ernst Anders, "Ein stiller Moment" 1878

I haven't been doing much reading lately.  I regret that, but there's just been too much other stuff going on lately.  In fact, I only finished one book in February -- C.C. Benison's Ten Lords A-Leaping.


This week, I'm trying to get back in the groove.  Assuming I can FIND the groove.  Assuming I'd even know what the groove looked like if I DID find it.  OK, enough.  I'm getting back to my reading, and I'm continuing with The Innocent Sleep by Karen Perry,


and The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett.


Those two covers have a sort of similar design, don't they?  Never noticed it until now.  So far, I'm enjoying both of the books (which is more than I can say for "Ten Lords," but more about that in a later post).



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, February 18, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: The Innocent Sleep

http://jlshall.blogspot.com/search/label/Teaser%20Tuesdays
This week my teaser lines come from The Innocent Sleep by Karen Perry.  I haven't really started this one (it's my "next up"), so I'm not too sure about what's going on in this excerpt.  From page 18:
"But you know what I'm afraid of?  Late at night, she'll come round here looking for you.  She'll find me instead, and then what?  She'll try to sink her teeth into me as well.  She will try to suck the blood out of me."
"The way I see it, someone's already beaten her to it.  Have you looked in the mirror?"
Hmmmm.  I don't think it's a vampire story, so....?




http://shouldbereading.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/teaser-tuesdays-jan-7/

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, February 06, 2014

Book Beginnings: The Caves of Perigord


This is not a book I planned to read this year - or even one that I knew about:  The Caves of Périgord, by Martin Walker.  I made the mistake of browsing the BookOutlet website, and this one - a story involving prehistoric cave paintings, and art stolen by the Nazis - sounded too interesting to pass up.  These are the opening lines:
Every interesting woman has a private smile, and Lydia Dean was startled by a brief, tantalizing glimpse of her own.  Its reflection suddenly flashed on the glass covering a poster as she entered her cramped attic office, then it faded.  She might almost have imagined it, and certainly there was no cause to smile.  Determined not to show how much the interview with Justin had upset her, she closed the door firmly behind her and contemplated the imminent ruin of her empire. Yet for the first time that day, and despite the faint dismay at the prospect of unemployment, she felt her spirits lifting.

Initial Thoughts:  Well, that bit about the private smile might be a little much, but the opening piques my curiosity a bit, I have to admit.  I'm wondering just what it is that makes Lydia an interesting woman, since nothing in those first lines really explains that.  And what's all that about her empire being in ruins?  And why should that make her spirits lift?  Lots of questions to be answered, so I guess that's enough to keep reading.  Well, after I finish three or four other books, that is.

So, what do you think?  Give it a try?  Or ditch it and move on?


http://www.rosecityreader.com/2013/12/book-beginning-sinful-folk-by-ned-hayes.html

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.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Coup de Grâce by Marguerite Yourcenar

Translated from the French by Grace Frick
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1957; 151 pages
First published 1939

From the publisher:
Set in the Baltic provinces in the aftermath of World War I, Coup de Grâce tells the story of an intimacy that grows between three young people hemmed in by civil war: Erick, a Prussian fighting with the White Russians against the Bolsheviks; Conrad, his best friend from childhood; and Sophie, whose unrequited love for Erick becomes an unbearable burden.


My Thoughts:

This was my introduction to Marguerite Yourcenar's writing: Coup de Grâce is a book I've had in my "must read" stack for several decades now, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it even though I can't say it's destined to go on my list of favorites.  The writing is beautiful and the story, though a bit chaotic, is one that sticks with you after you've closed the book.

The short novel is narrated in first person by the book's main character, Erick von Lhomond, an aristocratic young officer fighting against the Bolsheviks in the 1917-1922 civil war.  Erick, his childhood friend Conrad and some of their fellow officers and soldiers are sheltering in a house on Conrad's family estate, waiting to advance in the fighting.  Conrad's aunt and his sister Sophie are also in residence -- along with a female servant, they are the only women in the group of men.  Early on, we learn that Sophie had been assaulted by one of the soldiers, although she tries to keep the fact a secret for as long as possible. 

We get only the story that Erick sees fit to tell, and it's hard to know exactly how dependable a narrator Erick is.  He certainly doesn't come across as admirable or likable, so I suppose we have to believe he's honest.  Of the other characters in the book, I think only Sophie was distinct and memorable.  Some of her actions are a little hard to understand -- but she loves Erick apparently to distraction, and Erick does not love her.  (Erick is actually more interested in Conrad, and memories of their youth together.)  So I guess we're to assume that unrequited love can drive a person to sad and dangerous lengths.  Well, it makes a good story anyway.

It's a short, quick read, and the writing is brilliant.  I don't want to give away much more of the plot, but I'll just say that the ending is very sad.  Well, it's a war story, after all.  Sad, but satisfying. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Reading Update

"CMS Reading by Gaslight" 1884, William Stott (1857-1900)

I did quite a bit of reading last week -- managed to finish two books I've had going for a couple of weeks now, and a few that have been on my TBR list longer than that.  Even though several of them were really short, I still feel that I accomplished quite a lot.  It's unlikely that I'll be able to keep up that pace, but at least I've made a good beginning for the year.

Finished last week

Reading this week

Waiting in the wings




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, January 21, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: Ten Lords A-Leaping


This week my teaser lines come from Ten Lords A-Leaping by C.C. Benison.  I really haven't started this one -- I just recently received it from the publisher.  It's the third and latest book in Benison's Father Christmas Mysteries series, featuring Tom Christmas, amateur sleuth and vicar of the idyllic little English village of Thornford Regis.  I haven't read either of the other books in the series, so I'm not exactly sure who's who and what's what yet, but anything with a character named Father Christmas has to be worth taking a look at, right?  This snippet comes from p.148:
"I say, Grandmama," Max began as they passed into a cool dark hall, his voice rich with import. "I have some astonishing news....Uncle Olly's gone and snuffed it."
Miranda giggled.
"Miranda!" Tom cautioned.
"Sorry, Daddy." She turned her head to look back up at him, but she didn't appear remorseful.
Uncle Olly who's "gone and snuffed it" was Lord Morborne, who's been found dead (apparently strangled) in the center of a labyrinth on his estate. Now that certainly appears promising, doesn't it?  Sounds like a combination of Agatha Christie and Downton Abbey -- which should be right down my street, dontcha know.

http://shouldbereading.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/teaser-tuesdays-jan-7/

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.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Beginnings: The Only Problem by Muriel Spark


This week I've been reading Muriel Spark's short novel The Only Problem, first published in 1984.  These are the opening lines:
He was driving along the road in France from St Dié to Nancy in the district of Meurthe; it was straight and almost white, through thick woods of fir and birch.  He came to the grass track on the right that he was looking for.  It wasn't what he had expected.  Nothing ever is, he thought.

Initial Thoughts:  Well, my first thought was that I'd really, really love to get back to France someday.  Other than that, the opening didn't exactly grab me.  But I've read enough Muriel Spark to know that no matter how mundane the book may seem at the start, amazing things will emerge.  She was such a wonderful writer.  And this is another book I've been meaning to read for a couple of decades now. Glad I finally got around to it. 


http://www.rosecityreader.com/2013/12/book-beginning-sinful-folk-by-ned-hayes.html

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.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WWW Wednesdays


WWW Wednesdays is a weekly reading event hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Right now I'm reading (and enjoying) The Only Problem, by Muriel Spark


and Fog Magic, by Julia L. Sauer (also enjoying):


Just a couple of chapters left to read in each of those.

Recently I've finished Coup de Grâce, by Marguerite Yourcenar.


Up next?  Well, I still have a few more pages to go in the first book I started this year - The Universe Versus Alex Woods, by Gavin Extence:


The fact that it's taking me so long to finish it definitely doesn't reflect on the quality of book; it's an excellent read.  And when I'm done with Alex and the Universe and everything, I think I might try something for the Vintage Mystery Bingo reading challenge.  Possibly Too Many Cooks, by Rex Stout


or The Man in the Queue, by Josephine Tey.


That should keep me busy for the rest of the month.  Now I'm off to see what everybody else is reading.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Reading Update

The Fairy Tale, by Walther Firle (German, 1859-1929)

Last week, I finished Coup de Grâce by Marguerite Yourcenar.  My first book of 2014!


And it was such a short book, it really shouldn't have taken me so long to get through it.  But at least I've managed to get something read this month.  This is shaping up to be a busy week for me, but I'm hoping to get a short review up today or tomorrow.

Also hoping to get a little more reading done.  I've got a couple of books going right now, but the one that's really got me hooked is one I'm reading for the Newbery Challenge -- Fog Magic by Julia L. Sauer. 

First edition cover art by Lynd Ward

Lately, my favorite books all seem to be children's lit.  And pretty ancient children's lit at that.  Second childhood, maybe?  No -- by now, I'm definitely on my third or fourth.



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.