Friday, October 09, 2020

Book Beginnings: Snow


by John Banville
(October 2020)


Opening Lines
WINTER, 1957
I'm a priest, for Christ's sake -- how can this be happening to me?

About the Book
Following the discovery of the corpse of a highly respected parish priest at Ballyglass House — the Co. Wexford family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family — Detective Inspector St John Strafford is called in from Dublin to investigate.

Strafford faces obstruction from all angles, but carries on determinedly in his pursuit of the murderer. However, as the snow continues to fall over this ever-expanding mystery, the people of Ballyglass are equally determined to keep their secrets
.
  (Description from GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts
 
I was definitely intrigued by that first sentence, and by the book's description. I've been intending to read something by John Banville for years now, so I was happy to get an ARC of this one (yes, I'm a little late getting it read). So far, I'm liking it a lot — Inspector Strafford is really an interesting character, and as yet I don't have any idea "whodunnit." I like that. 

Hope to get it finished up tonight or over the weekend, if all goes well.

Have a good weekend, everyone.
Stay safe. Stay calm. 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, September 28, 2020

Banned Books Week


To kick off this year's Banned Books Week (Sep 27 - Oct 3), the American Library Association has published a list of the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books of the Past Decade

It's an interesting list, with a few of my all-time favorites among the titles (Huck Finn, Lolita, 1984, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Also many titles I've never even heard of and lots I haven't read (and probably won't, at my age). But I'm intrigued, just the same. Here's the list, with the books I have read in bold typeface.

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  2. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  4. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  5. George by Alex Gino
  6. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  7. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  8. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
  9. Internet Girls (series) by Lauren Myracle
  10. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  11. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  12. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  13. I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel
  14. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  15. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  16. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith
  17. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  18. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
  19. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss
  20. Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg
  21. Alice McKinley (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  22. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris
  23. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  24. Scary Stories (series) by Alvin Schwartz
  25. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  26. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  27. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
  28. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  29. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  30. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  31. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
  32. It's a Book by Lane Smith
  33. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  34. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  35. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
  36. A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer
  37. Bad Kitty (series) by Nick Bruel
  38. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
  39. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
  40. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  41. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey
  42. This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman
  43. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
  44. A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
  45. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  46. Goosebumps (series) by R.L. Stine
  47. In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Polacco
  48. Lush by Natasha Friend
  49. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  50. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  51. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  52. The Holy Bible (well, I've read a lot of it)
  53. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
  54. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  55. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  56. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily von Ziegesar
  57. House of Night (series) by P.C. Cast
  58. My Mom's Having A Baby by Dori Hillestad Butler
  59. Neonomicon by Alan Moore
  60. The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake
  61. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  62. Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  63. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
  64. Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle
  65. Dreaming In Cuban by Cristina Garcia
  66. Fade by Lisa McMann
  67. The Family Book by Todd Parr
  68. Feed by M.T. Anderson
  69. Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
  70. Habibi by Craig Thompson
  71. House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  72. Jacob's New Dress by Sarah Hoffman
  73. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  74. Monster by Walter Dean Myers
  75. Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter
  76. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
  77. Stuck in the Middle by Ariel Schrag
  78. The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal
  79. 1984 by George Orwell
  80. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  81. Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
  82. Awakening by Kate Chopin
  83. Burned by Ellen Hopkins
  84. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  85. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  86. Glass by Ellen Hopkins
  87. Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesle´a Newman
  88. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  89. Madeline and the Gypsies by Ludwig Bemelmans
  90. My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis
  91. Prince and Knight by Daniel Haack
  92. Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology by Amy Sonnie
  93. Skippyjon Jones (series) by Judith Schachner
  94. So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins
  95. The Color of Earth (series) by Tong-hwa Kim
  96. The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter
  97. The Walking Dead (series) by Robert Kirkman
  98. Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
  99. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S Brannen
  100. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Sunday, September 27, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

 

 
So here we are at the end of another month, and now it's autumn! Not my favorite time of year, but at least it's usually a pretty good reading season for me. This year, though, I seem to be getting off to a slow start — in the last couple of weeks, I've only finished two books:

The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides

and...

 
The Suicide House, by Charlie Donlea

The suicide theme there is just a coincidence, not something I planned. At least, not consciously!

Right now, I'm reading:

 

And this week, I'm also hoping to get back to another book I've got started:

 
The Talented Miss Farwell,
by Emily Gray Tedrowe

After I get those finished up, I need to start on a couple of recent ARCs:

 Snow, by John Banville

 The Lost Village, by Camilla Sten

Definitely enough to keep me occupied as October gets underway! Happy reading, 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.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Book Beginnings: The Virgin Suicides

Is anyone else having problems with this new version of Blogger? I'm having loads of trouble getting this post together, so please excuse any weird glitches. I'm sure I'll work it out eventually, but right now WordPress is looking better and better. 
 

by Jeffrey Eugenides
(First published 1993)


Opening Sentence
On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide — it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese — the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope.

About the Book
... [The Virgin Suicides] is the story of the five Lisbon sisters – beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the entire neighborhood.

The boys that once loved them from afar are now grown men, determined to understand a tragedy that has always defied explanation. For still, the question remains – why did all five of the Lisbon girls take their own lives?

This hypnotic and unforgettable novel treats adolescent love and death with haunting sensitivity and dark humor, and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. (Description from GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts

Well, my first thought when I read that opening sentence was "Wow, that's very disturbing." I still think so. 

I've actually just finished reading this one, and LOVED it. Not sure why it took me so long to find it. I remember that it caused a huge stir when it was first published, but somehow I've managed to miss it until now. I definitely regret that, because it's one of the best books I've read in years.

It was apparently made into a successful motion picture, too —which I also missed out on. I notice it's available from Netflix, so I might have to watch it one of these days. But films made from your favorite novels are generally let-downs, aren't they? So I'll think about that a bit.

Anyway.... Here's another version of the cover — this is from the original hardcover edition.



Have a good weekend, everyone.
Stay safe. Stay calm. 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, September 07, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



It's been a while since I checked in with a Monday update. And here we are, a whole week into September! I started the summer off with a bit of a reading slump. But in the last couple of months things have picked up and I've actually managed to finish a few books. Here's the list:

(A Lighthouse Library Mystery),
by Eva Gates

Kill Your Darlings (Mallory #3),
by Max Allan Collins

(a Maggie Hope Mystery),
by Susan Elia MacNeal

(a Quilting Mystery),
by Mary Marks 

by Rebecca Stead

Also read a couple of classic children's books:

(Ramona Quimby #1),
by Beverly Cleary

(second book in that series),
by Jerry West

Right now, I've got several books going (as usual). This week I'm hoping to finish up these two:

The Talented Miss Farwell, by Emily Gray Tedrowe

The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides

And after that....who knows? Maybe one of the two or three thousand books on my ever-expanding "TBR" list.

Happy reading, 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.

Friday, September 04, 2020

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XV


Now that September's here (amazing, but true!), it's time for the annual R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (RIP) reading challenge/event. This is the fifteenth year for RIP, and I've participated in eleven of those years. I always look forward to it.

It's very informal this year — there's no sign-up, and you can read as much as you want from any of the mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, Gothic, or other "dark lit" genres. Then if you're into Instagram or Twitter, you can join in the discussions there (tags are @PerilReaders and #ripxv). I'm not a huge social media fan, but I might pay an occasional visit. Or maybe not. Either way, I'm still looking forward to doing some spooky reading for the event.

Don't have a specific list of reading to do, but I've got a few things in mind:
  • The Lost Village, by Camilla Sten (English edition to be published early in 2021. This one has been called "relentlessly creepy" — which sounds perfect for me and for RIP!) 
  • Plain Bad Heroines, by Emily M. Danforth (To be published in October. This one is getting lots of advance hype and sounds really intriguing, but it's much longer than the books I generally choose.)
  • Snow, by John Banville (Also coming in October. This will be my introduction to Banville, but I've got tons of his works on my TBR list.)
  • The Suicide House, by Charlie Donlea (I'm reading an ARC of this, and I really should have finished by now, since the book came out in July!)
I'll also be watching lots of mystery/horror movies and TV shows, of course. And I'll be keeping track of all my reading and viewing over on my challenge blog (HERE).

So, Happy Fall! And Happy Reading, everyone.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

WWW Wednesdays: 19 August 2020


It's Wednesday and that means it's time for WWW Wednesdays! This meme was originally hosted by MizB over at A Daily Rhythm, and then revived by Sam Stevens of Taking on a World of Words. Just three questions, once a week:


1. What are you currently reading?

I've got several books started right now, which of course means that I'm having trouble actually finishing any of them. I'm hoping to finish this one this week:

The Suicide House, by Charlie Donlea

I've also just started reading an advance copy of this one:

Plain Bad Heroines, by Emily M. Danforth
(with illustrations by Sara Lautman)

Emily Danforth's historical novel is due out in October, and it's getting an awful lot of pre-publication buzz. Sounds like an interesting read, but it's a chunkster with just about 600 pages — so it's very unlikely I'll get it read before it comes out.


2. What did you recently finish reading?

I've been reading a lot of cozy mysteries and kiddie lit lately. They seem like good genres for this strange time — sort of comfort food for the mind/psyche/soul. In the last couple of weeks I've finished these:

Knot of This World, by Mary Marks
(Quilting Mystery #8)

A Death Long Overdue, by Eva Gates
(Lighthouse Library Mystery #7)



Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary
(Ramona Quimby #1)

(Second in the Happy Hollisters series, first published in 1953)



3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Well, I'm probably going to be reading those first two for a while. But once I finish those (or possibly abandon them?), I'll most likely be looking for something nice and light, with a little humor. Maybe something like this:

(Number 5 in the series, first published 1996)


Or maybe something completely different!

So what about you? Have you been reading more than ever, in quarantine? Or about as much as usual? Or maybe you just can't settle down and read as much as you'd like. That's definitely been my problem for the last few months. I guess I'm still waiting for the new normal to feel ... well, normal.

Anyway, happy reading, everyone! And have a great Wednesday.