Friday, January 18, 2019

Book Beginnings: The Water Tower Club

The Water Tower Club, by B.K. Mayo (Fir Valley Press; January 15, 2019). New mystery novel from the author of Tamara's Child. These are the book's first lines:

You see it all the time on the news. The shaking heads. The startled looks. The stammered declaration: "I just can't believe it." What they can't believe is that their next-door neighbor, the unassuming Mr Wouldn't-Hurt-a-Fly, is a serial killer.

About the Book:
The day after graduating from high school, Darryl Coombs fled his hometown of Grotin, Kansas, hoping to put the memories of his nightmarish childhood behind him forever. Now, ten years later, his sister’s arrest on a charge of attempted murder has Darryl reluctantly returning to his childhood home. He is desperate to save his sister from prison, but his unwitting actions lead to deadly consequences that tear apart the fabric of a community and send him on a personal journey the end of which he could never have imagined.

Initial Thoughts:

Just started this one, but I've really enjoyed the bit I've read so far. Hope to finish it up later today — the weather here today is pretty yucky, so curling up with a good book is a very attractive prospect.

Happy reading, everyone! And have a lovely weekend.

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, January 01, 2019

Books Read in 2019

Cumulative Reading List

Here's where I'll be tracking my reading in 2019.

I usually have 50 books as my annual goal, but in recent years I've rarely achieved it. So this year I'm being a little more realistic and cutting that number down to 40 books. That's just a little more than a three-book average per month, and sounds fairly doable. So, here we go again....


1. The Quiche of Death (Agatha Raisin #1). M.C. Beaton (1992; fiction; 196 pages, Kindle edition)






Monday, December 31, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Not only is it Monday, but it's the last day of 2018, too! What better day to sit back and take a look at what we'll all be reading this week to end the old year and start the new.

And just between us, I could not be happier to see the end of 2018 — not the worst year I've seen, but not much about it I really want to remember, either. So I'm definitely ready for a shiny new year and lots of great books to read.

This week, though, I'm actually going to be finishing up one of the books I started this month....

Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover (Random House, February 2018)

Since I have more than half the book to go, I'm counting it as my first read of 2019. Then if I actually get that finished (and that's very iffy — I have some dental adventures coming up this week), I'll be moving on to an ARC of a book that's coming out next month....

The Water Tower Club, by B.K. Mayo (Fir Valley Press, January 2019)

And that should be enough to keep me occupied for a week. Especially this week, with dentist visits to get through, and Christmas decorations to take down and store away. (Yes, we always leave everything up until after the New Year.) But we've got some nasty winter weather predicted for later in the week — terrible for getting out and about, but great for curling up with a good book.

So, happy reading and a Happy New Year, everyone!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is 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, December 30, 2018

Wrapping Up 2018: The Rest of the Challenges

2018 is FINALLY over! Well, almost, anyway. And since it's pretty unlikely I'll be doing a huge amount of reading over the next couple of days, I guess it's time to go ahead and wrap up the last few un-wrapped-up reading challenges I had going during the year. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

Host: Becky @ Becky's Book Reviews
Dates: January - December 2018
See my original post about the challenge HERE.

The goal of the challenge was to read a book from the birth year of each of your selected family members (at least three). I planned to read four books, corresponding to the birth years of my four cousins — 1949, 1950, 1952, and 1960 — but only managed two (1950 and 1960):
  1. A Murder Is Announced (Miss Marple #5). Agatha Christie (pub. June 1950)
  2. Give the Boys a Great Big Hand (87th Precinct #11). Ed McBain (pub. 1960) 
Even though I didn't make it to the finish line, it was still a fun challenge and I'm giving some thought to signing up for next year's version (see guidelines and sign-ups here). Thanks to Becky for hosting!

Host: Katie @ Doing Dewey
Dates: January - December 2018
See my original post about the challenge HERE.

For this one, participants set their own goals. I hoped to read at least four books, but only managed two, and only reviewed one of those:
  1. Balthus: Cats and Girls. Sabine Rewald (2013; art/art history; 176 pages)
  2. Just Kids. Patti Smith (2010; memoir; 304 pages)
Another enjoyable challenge, even though (again) I didn't do as well as I'd have liked. Thanks so much to Katie for hosting. (She's hosting the Nonfiction Challenge again for 2019. Click HERE for guidelines and signups.)

Dates: January - December 2018
See my original post about the challenge HERE.

The goal of the 2018 Picture Book Reading Challenge was "To have adults read more picture books," and there was a minimum of six books. I went with Becky's option to use her checklist for coming up with selections, and read these six books:
  1. Checklist #10. Author beginning with E: Feathers for Lunch, by Lois Ehlert (1996; illus. by author)
  2. Checklist #34. Title beginning with R: The Rabbit and the Shadow, by Mélanie Rutten (2013; illus. by author)
  3. Checklist #40. Title or Author beginning with U: Umbrella, by Taro Yashima (1958; illus. by author)
  4. Checklist #70. a book set in the past – fiction or nonfiction: The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart; illus. by David Small (fiction; set in 1930s, during the Great Depression)
  5. Checklist #77. one word title: Golem, by David Wisniewski (1996; illus. by author)
  6. Checklist #104. Picture book published in 2018: Outside My Window, by Linda Ashman; illus. by Jamey Christoph

I love reading children's lit, so this is always one of my favorite challenges. Thanks so much to Becky for hosting. She'll be hosting a new edition of the challenge in 2019 — click HERE for guidelines, checklists, and signups.

AND, I think that's it. Now it's time to get ready for all those brand new reading challenges out there. Hoping to do sooo much better next year. As usual.

Happy New Year, everyone! And Happy Reading in 2019!

2018 Monthly Key Word Challenge: The Wrap-Up

Host: Bev @ My Reader's Block
Dates: Throughout 2018
See my original post about the challenge HERE.

I loved this challenge!

The goal was to read at least one book each month, with a title that includes one or more of that month's key words, and I actually did manage to read a qualifying book every month. In fact, in May I read two! Somewhere along the line I stopped doing reviews, so in that respect I was sort of a failure. But I really enjoyed finding the books every month — and, of course reading the books (some more than others) — and I'm hugely grateful to Bev for hosting. Haven't decided about joining next year's challenge (click here for details and sign-ups), but I'm definitely considering it. Anyway, here's what I read:

List of Monthly Key Words:

My Reading List:

• If Morning Ever Comes. Anne Tyler (See Review)

• Miss Zukas and the Library Murders (Miss Zukas #1). Jo Dereske (See Review)

Give the Boys a Great Big Hand (87th Precinct #11). Ed McBain (See Review)

Time Out of Joint. Philip K. Dick (See Review)

At the Mountains of Madness. H.P. Lovecraft (See Review)
Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels. Katherine Anne Porter (See Review)

When You Reach Me. Rebecca Stead (See Review)

The Mystery of the Blue Train (Hercule Poirot #6). Agatha Christie (See Review)

The Dead House. Billy O'Callaghan (See Review)

Call for the Dead (George Smiley #1). John le Carré (See Review)

The Night She Died (Inspector Thanet #1). Dorothy Simpson

Broomsticks Over Flaxborough (Flaxborough Chronicles #7). Colin Watson

The Red Book of Primrose House (Potting Shed Mystery #2). Marty Wingate

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Back to the Classics Challenge 2019

Hosted by: Karen K @ Books and Chocolate
Dates: 1 January - 31 December, 2019

I really thought I'd finished signing up for next year's reading challenges, but you know how it is.

This year I read almost nothing but whodunnits and thrillers. Nothing wrong with that, of course — but I'd like to read some of the classic lit I've always intended to read but just never got around to. So, here I go again....

The 2019 Back to the Classics Challenge is composed of twelve categories. I probably won’t plan to complete all twelve, but I think I should be able to manage six. And at the moment, I'm thinking I might choose from these:

1. 19th Century Classic - Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

2. 20th Century Classic - Where Angels Fear to Tread, by E.M. Forster

3. Classic By a Female Author - Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell

4. Classic in Translation - Demian, by Hermann Hesse

5. Classic Comic Novel - The Code of the Woosters, by P.G. Wodehouse

6. Classic Tragic Novel - The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton

7. Very Long Classic - The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James

8. Classic Novella - The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka

9. Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean) - Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys

10. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia) - The Grass Is Singing, by Doris Lessing (Africa)

11. Classic From a Place You've Lived - Horseman, Pass By, by Larry McMurtry (Texas)

12. Classic Play - Lady Windermere's Fan, by Oscar Wilde

But those plans are definitely subject to change, and I’ve got a long list of alternate choices over on my challenge blog. And that’s where I’ll track my progress during the year.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Book Beginnings: The Appleton Case

The Appleton Case, by Diana Xarissa (2015). These are the first lines of Chapter 1:

"Where are we exactly?" Joan asked in a calm voice.
"We're right here," Janet answered, waving the map in the air. "At least I think we are."

About the Book:
The Markham sisters — Janet and Joan — have just purchased a small bed and breakfast in Derbyshire. But very soon after acquiring Doveby House, Janet finds herself doing some sleuthing. Just how did the previous owner, Margaret Appleton, die? Margaret's son isn't happy that he was left out of his mother's will, but what's he so desperate to get inside Doveby House to find? And are there really ghosts in Janet's bedroom, the library and the coach house? 

Initial Thoughts:

I love that opening because it sounds so much like the hubby and myself when we're traveling. I'm really bad at directions, never know where we are, and have a terrible time reading maps. And yet I'm always the one doing the navigating.

I picked up this cozy mystery mainly because I needed an author whose last name starts with X for one of the Library Thing challenges I've got going. Never have read anything by Diana Xarissa before, but so far I'm enjoying this one. It's the first book in a series, which is nice since I usually jump into a series in the middle and have trouble figuring out relationships, etc.

And it's very short — just over 100 pages — so should be a quick read. Which is also good, since I'm still several books away from my 50-book goal for this year and still hoping to get there.

How about you? Do you do much reading during the holidays? Or have you abandoned all things bookish for all things merry-merry? I usually don't get a lot of reading done during December, but I'm hoping to improve on my record this, back to the books.

Happy Friday, everyone! And have a lovely weekend.

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.