Friday, May 17, 2024

Book Beginnings: The Queen of Poisons


The Queen of Poisons
by Robert Thorogood
Poisoned Pen Press, June 2024


First sentence

Suzie Harris was on a mission.



About the Book

Description from GoodReads:
 

The Marlow Murder Club is on the hunt for a killer... 
Geoffrey Lushington, Mayor of Marlow, dies suddenly during a town council meeting. When traces of aconite—also known as the queen of poisons—are found in his coffee cup, the police realize he was murdered. But who did it? And why? 
The police bring Judith, Suzie, and Becks in to investigate the murder as civilian advisors right from the start, so they have free rein to interview suspects and follow the evidence to their heart's content… which is perfect because Judith has no time for rules and standard procedure. But this case has the Marlow Murder Club stumped. Who would want to kill the affable mayor of Marlow? How did they even get the poison into his coffee? And is anyone else in danger? 
The Marlow Murder Club is about to face their most difficult case yet...

 

Initial Thoughts

Well, my first thought isn't exactly about the book — it's about my reading/blogging life. It's been quite a while since I put up a post for Book Beginnings. Actually, it's been quite a while since I posted anything at all on the blog, aside from my list of books read. More than a year, in fact. During that time I've been through a lot of major life changes, and for a long time I wasn't able to do any reading — so there wasn't really much of anything to blog about. But time moves on, and the books are starting to whisper my name again. And now that I'm back to reading, I want to try to get back to blogging, too. They tell me it's therapeutic. 

So, here goes....

Not the most magnetic opening, is it? I'm not sure that first sentence would draw me in if I wasn't already familiar with the Marlow Murder Club books. 

The Queen of Poisons is the third book in Robert Thorogood's Marlow Murder Club series of mystery novels. The two earlier books are The Marlow Murder Club (2021), and Death Comes to Marlow (2023). 

The "Murder Club" of the series consists of three amateur sleuths — a couple of middle-aged women (Becks and Suzie) and a third member who by now should be nearing 80 (Judith was 77 in the first book). I love finding books that feature older women doing interesting things and not just waiting around for dementia to set in, while letting their offspring and nieces and nephews have all the adventures. Judith lives on her own (well, in the first two books, anyway), enjoys swimming nude in the Thames, and solves mysteries. So, naturally, I fell in love with her immediately. 

I've read and enjoyed the first two books, although I thought the second was not as satisfying as the first. That frequently happens in a book series. So I'm hoping this third offering turns out to be as intriguing as the first. 

Please note: The sentence quoted above comes from an advance reader's copy of the book. I've checked it against the UK edition which came out in January. The book is scheduled to be released in the USA in June. 


Have a good weekend, everyone.
And happy reading!


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 (or one that's caught your eye), 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 nice chance to connect with other readers and bloggers. 

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Books Read in 2024

Cumulative Reading List

Here's where I'll be tracking my reading in 2024. I used to aim for 50 books a year, but for 2024 I'm just hoping to do better than the dozen books I read last year. 

JANUARY

1. City of Glass (New York Trilogy, Book 1). Paul Auster (1985; fiction / mystery; 203 pages) 
2. Ghosts (New York Trilogy, Book 2). Paul Auster (1986; fiction / mystery; 100 pages) 
3. The Locked Room (New York Trilogy, Book 3). Paul Auster (1986; fiction / mystery; 179 pages) 
4. Heads You Lose (Inspector Cockrill #1). Christianna Brand (1941; fiction / mystery; 196 pages) 


FEBRUARY

5. Peril at End House (Hercule Poirot #8). Agatha Christie (1932; fiction / mystery; 288 pages) 
6. World's Fair. E.L. Doctorow (1985; fiction / historical fiction; 304 pages) 
7. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. Chris Grabenstein (2013; fiction / children's literature; 293 pages)


MARCH

8.  The Road to Lichfield. Penelope Lively (1977; fiction; 224 pages) 
9.  Experimental Film. Gemma Files (2015; fiction; 314 pages) 
10. Last House. Jessica Shattuck (2024; fiction / historical fiction; 304 pages) 


APRIL

11. After Annie. Anna Quindlen (2024; fiction; 273 pages) 
12. Hamnet. Maggie O'Farrell (2020; fiction / historical fiction; 321 pages) 
13. Unexpected Night (Henry Gamadge Mysteries #1). Elizabeth Daly (1940; fiction / mystery; 221 pages)


MAY

14. The Exvangelicals: Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church. Sarah McCammon (2024; nonfiction / memoir / culture; 288 pages) 
15. Oracle Night. Paul Auster (2003; fiction; 260 pages) 
16. Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey. Karen Wilkin (2009; nonfiction / art / art history; 123 pages) 
17. Power and Glory: Elizabeth II and the Rebirth of Royalty. Alexander Larman (2024; nonfiction / history; 525 pages)


JUNE

18. Jane Eyre. Charlotte BrontΓ« (1847; fiction; 465 pages) 


JULY

19. The Queen of Poisons (Marlow Murder Club #3). Robert Thorogood (2024; fiction / mystery; reading now) 
20. Take Your Breath Away. Linwood Barclay (2022; fiction / mystery / thriller; reading now)
21. Every Time We Say Goodbye (Jane Austen Society #3). Natalie Jenner (2024; fiction / historical fiction; reading now) 
.......

AUGUST
.......

SEPTEMBER
.......

OCTOBER
.......

NOVEMBER
.......

DECEMBER
.......


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Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Books Read in 2023

Cumulative Reading List


Here's where I'll be tracking my reading in 2023. I'm getting a late start with the list, and didn't manage to do any reading in January or February. But my goal for 2023 is a lot lower than most years. If I read a book or two a month during the rest of this year, I'll be satisfied. 


MARCH

1. High Rising (Barsetshire #1). Angela Thirkell (1933; fiction)

APRIL

2. Wild Strawberries (Barsetshire #2). Angela Thirkell (1934; fiction) 
3. Bramton Wick. Elizabeth Fair (1952; fiction) 

MAY

4. The Windsors at War: The King, His Brother, and a Family Divided. Alexander Larman (2023; nonfiction / history)

JUNE

5. Landscape in Sunlight. Elizabeth Fair (1953; fiction) 

JULY

6. Death Comes to Marlow (Marlow Murder Club #2). Robert Thorogood (2023; fiction / mystery)

AUGUST

7. Looking Glass Sound. Catriona Ward (2023; fiction / horror) 

SEPTEMBER

8. The Heiress. Rachel Hawkins (2024; fiction / thriller) 

OCTOBER

9. The Messy Lives of Book People. Phaedra Patrick (2022; fiction / women's fiction / adult fantasy) 
10. The Love Story of Missy Carmichael. Beth Morrey (2020; fiction / women's fiction)

NOVEMBER

11. I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died (Emily Dickinson Mystery #2). Amanda Flower (2023; fiction / mystery / historical fiction) 

DECEMBER

12. When You Are Engulfed in Flames. David Sedaris (2008; nonfiction / humor / essays) 



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Monday, December 12, 2022

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

 

I have no idea what happened to the last month or so. Time flies, right? But I know what's happened to the last couple of weeks — for me, anyway. I came down with COVID right after Thanksgiving and I've been pretty wiped out ever since. I think I might be on the mend now, but I don't wanna speak too soon. I thought I was on the mend last week, too — and then, the dreaded rebound set in. So at the moment I'm in wait-and-see mode, with fingers crossed. 

But even with the brain fog, I've managed to finish a few books, so far this month....

Gambit
(Nero Wolfe #37)
by Rex Stout (pub. 1962)

(21st book in the Pendergast series)
by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
(expected pub. - Jan. 2023)


(Jeremy Logan #2)
by Lincoln Child (pub. 2008)

Those are by three of my favorite authors — I expected them to be entertaining, and they didn't disappoint. 

Not sure what's on the list for the rest of December, but at the moment I'm reading a classic bit of humor by another of my favorite writers. Because, right now, I could definitely use a few laughs....


by Will Cuppy
(first pub. 1931)


Happy reading, everyone — and have a great week!



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. 

Friday, November 04, 2022

Book Beginnings: The Cloisters


The Cloisters
by Katy Hays
Atria Books, November 2022


First sentence
Death always visited me in August. 
 
About the Book

Description from GoodReads:
 

When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.

Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs. 

 

Initial Thoughts

I've only visited the Cloisters Museum once, but it was an amazing experience, and I'd love to go back someday. And I've always been interested in tarot cards and their history. So The Cloisters sounds like it could be just the book for me! Haven't actually started it yet, but that first sentence is something of a grabber, so I have high hopes. 


Have a good weekend, everyone.
And happy reading!


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, October 03, 2022

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


September seems to have disappeared while I wasn't really paying attention. But that's OK — it's never been one of my favorite months, even though it's my birthday month. Or maybe BECAUSE it's my birthday month. Anyhoo, I find it's suddenly October, a much nicer month (imho). 

I don't think I posted a reading update during September, so here's what I read last month:

by Melissa Dassori

by Lauren Owen

by Megan Goldin

by Laurie R. King

And here's what I'm reading right now:


Late Harvest Havoc
by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen


by Andrew Mayne

I haven't been posting any reviews here on the blog this year, and I regret that. I like to say at least a few words about everything I read, so in the future I can go back and see what I thought about the books. Because, you know, the memory isn't getting any better as the years melt away. So, I'm hoping to get a few reviews up this week. At least, that's the plan right now. 

Happy reading, everyone — and have a great week!



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. 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Book Beginnings: Stay Awake


Stay Awake
by Megan Goldin
St. Martin's Press, August 2022


Opening Lines
Wednesday 2:42 A.M. 
Starbursts blink from streetlights like they're sharing a secret as I wake to find myself slumped in the back of a cab, without any recollection of how I got here, or where I'm going. 
 
About the Book

Description from GoodReads:
 

Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers—a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget—permanently. 

 

Initial Thoughts

I was attracted to Stay Awake because that storyline reminded me a bit of the movie "Memento" (2000, Directed by Christopher Nolan), which was about a man with short-term memory loss trying to investigate his wife's death. I enjoyed the movie, but I'm happy to report that beyond that basic similar plot device, the stories in the book and film are (thankfully) completely different. 

Following the thoughts and actions of a central character who keeps forgetting what happened to her just a few paragraphs back is challenging. It's an interesting exercise that works sometimes, but sometimes just becomes irritating. 

I'm hoping to stay interested enough in this one to finish it, since I've started and abandoned several other books recently. And I really do hate to keep adding books to that "Did Not Finish" pile. 

Have a good weekend, everyone.
And happy reading!


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.