Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: Last Orders

This week my teaser lines come from Last Orders by Graham Swift (1996). I'm reading it for the Battle of the Prizes (British Version) Reading Challenge; it's the only book to win both the Booker and the James Tait Black prizes, the two awards the challenge is built around. I've just started the book, so I really don't know much about what's going on in this snippet from page 71:
A good motor is a comfort and companion and an asset to a man, as well as getting him from A to B. I can't speak for women. Mandy drives like it's nothing special, like a car is a handbag. But a good motor deserves respect....
Well, I know he wouldn't understand, but some of us (women) tend to think a good handbag can be a comfort and an asset, too. And some of those handbags cost almost as much as a motor car these days! Like this one I'm drooling over.

Now if I just had an extra twelve thousand bucks lying around somewhere!

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, September 23, 2011

Fall Into Reading 2011

It really doesn't seem much like fall around here yet -- just a very WET late summer. But the calendar doesn't lie, so the leaves should be coloring up and starting to drift to the pavement any day now. I'm definitely looking forward to some nice crisp autumn weather, and I'm also ready to get a little more serious about my reading. So Fall Into Reading 2011 is coming at just the right time.

This low-key, no pressure reading challenge is hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days, and runs from today through December 21. It's one of my favorite reading events of the year because it doesn't require a set number of books, or any particular type of book. The guidelines are available on the challenge announcement/sign-up page (here), but basically all you need to do is make a list of the books you think you'd like to read this fall. Or a list of reading goals. Post it on your blog. Then go sign up, and start reading!

Of course, you might want to check out some of the other participants' lists, too -- that's one of my favorite parts of the challenge. Here's what I'm thinking about for my fall reading schedule:

Books I need to finish (reading now):
Last Orders. Graham Swift
Literary Brooklyn. Evan Hughes
The Man in Lower Ten. Mary Roberts Rinehart
Mrs. Malory and A Time to Die. Hazel Holt

ARCs from this year that I really should read before next year:
Altar of Bones. Philip Carter
Dreams of Joy. Lisa See
Iron House. John Hart
The Land of Painted Caves. Jean M. Auel
The Map of Time. Felix J. Palma
Prophecy. S.J. Parris
The Survivor. Sean Slater

The challenge should also help me with another reading goal -- finishing up all my other reading challenges for this year. Right now, these are the challenges and the number of books I need to read to complete each one:
  • 1st in a Series == 2 books
  • Aussie Authors == 2 books
  • Battle of the Prizes (British) == 3 books
  • Book Awards V == 4 books
  • Historical Fiction == 1 book
  • Off the Shelf == 4 books
  • Vintage Mystery == 3 books
  • Young Readers == 7 books
Not as bad as it looks, since several of the books will overlap in several different challenges.

Of course, I might end up reading none of the above, but that's OK -- list changing is allowed (I love that). But whatever develops, I'll be updating my progress on my challenge blog, here. So now all I need to do is get reading! (And note to self: also get reviewing! )

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: Let's All Kill Constance

This week my teaser lines come from a book I discovered while browsing the shelves at my local public library last week. Let's All Kill Constance is a mystery novel by Ray Bradbury, one of my favorite writers, but one I usually associate more with sci-fi and fantasy than whodunits. I haven't actually started this one yet, so I'll just give you some lines from the opening section of the book:
It was a dark and stormy night....it was a stormy night with dark rain pouring in drenches on Venice, California, the sky shattered by lightning at midnight....The only thing that moved in all that flood ten miles south and ten miles north was Death. And someone running fast ahead of Death.
Bradbury is such a wonderful writer, and I didn't know he wrote mysteries, so I'm really curious about this one. And, as the book's dust jacket says, only Ray Bradbury would be audacious enough to begin a book with that dark and stormy night routine.

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, September 19, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's been a while since I posted a Monday reading list -- my reading life has been so unsettled for the last few months, I never really know what I'm likely to be reading from one day to the next. Or even if I'll be reading. But I'm hoping things will be slowing down a bit, now that summer's over and my time is getting a little more organized. So here's how things are shaping up:
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.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Theme Thursday: Feelings

Theme Thursday is a weekly event hosted by Reading Between the Pages. Each Thursday, a theme is posted for that week. Participants select a conversation, snippet, or sentence from whatever book they're reading and post it for everyone to read. It's a great way to discover new books and authors, so here goes.

This week's theme is FEELINGS, and my snippet is from the book I just started reading, Antonia Fraser's Quiet as a Nun; these are the opening lines of the book:
Sometimes when I feel low, I study the Evening Standard as though for an examination. It was in that way I found the small item on the Home News page: NUN FOUND DEAD.

Born This Day...

The Grand Dame of Mystery

Agatha Christie
Born 15 September 1890

Booking Through Thursday: Replay

This week, BTT asks: Have you ever finished a book and loved it so much you went right back and started re-reading it again? (And obviously, if so, we want titles!)

And the answer is yes, I have but it's been a really long time since a book had such an effect on me. It used to happen all the time when I was a child -- I'd discover a new favorite and read it over and over and over. Of course, back then I had world enough and time to do that sort of thing. Haven't done any immediate re-reads recently -- too many other interesting books out there calling my name.

However, if I had an unlimited budget of reading time, there are some books I've read in the last few years that I might have considered reading more than once. These are a few I can think of:
There is one book I read and loved many years ago, that I just might be re-reading very soon. I've got Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House on my list of possible reads for the RIP/VI Reading Challenge, so maybe I'll find out if it's just as good and scary as it was the first time around.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Queue

This week, BTT asks: What are you reading now? Would you recommend it? And what’s next? And my answers:

I really don't like to recommend books before I've finished them. However, I'd definitely recommend the Mrs. Malory book to anyone who likes cozy English-village mysteries.

The MR Rinehart is a classic, of course, but I'm just now getting around to it -- started it last month and had to put it aside for other things. The Diane Arbus bio is an Early Reviewer book from LibraryThing, and I don't actually have my copy yet. Besides these two, I'll probably be reading something for the RIP/VI Reading Challenge very soon -- of course, The Winter Ghosts would probably qualify there (and maybe the Diane Arbus book, too?).

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: A Time to Die

This week I'm once again using one of Hazel Holt's Mrs. Malory mysteries for my teaser lines. This time it's Mrs. Malory and A Time To Die, from 2008, the 18th book in the series. Animals figure very prominently in all the books: Sheila Malory has a cat and a dog, and most of her friends and family have pets, too -- and the critters usually make it into the action somehow. In this snippet, Sheila is away from home, getting ready to pet-sit her cousin Hilda's much-loved and pampered kitty (Tolly) while Hilda is off on a trip:
Tolly greeted me amiably enough. Possibly he remembered me..., but he probably just recognized a born slave and was prepared to accept me as such....When I stroked his head he nipped my hand, not out of malice, you understand, but merely to indicate my place in the hierarchy. (p.122)
Our cats Pug and Rosie (who, sadly, are no longer with us) probably would have just turned their backs and ignored the intruder. Until it was time for the serving of dinner, of course.

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, September 05, 2011

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge VI

Wow, I actually missed the start of this one, this time around! I usually spend the last week in August obsessively checking Carl V's Stainless Steel Droppings blog, just hoping for some mention of the beginning of his annual R.I.P. Challenge. But this year, real life just keeps getting in the way of the fun stuff – so I'm a little late signing up.

The R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge (R.I.P. for short) is one of my favorite reading challenges. It runs from September 1st to October 31st, and it's perfect for this time of year. Also, it includes some of my favorite genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural. You can read about it in detail and sign up on the challenge announcement page (here). There are several different levels of participation, and even a new wrinkle this year with the Peril of the Group Read feature.

I'm going to be signing up for Peril the First, so I'll be reading at least four books. I'm also going to sign up for Peril on the Screen again this year – I had a great time with that one last year.

Now, about books. I'll be giving a lot of thought to what I might read for this one, so my list of possibilities will probably be getting longer and longer, and going through many changes. But right now, these are a few of the books I'm considering:
  • The Dead Zone. Stephen King (I read King's The Dark Half last year, and it was a great reminder of just how fine a writer King really is. And scary, too!)
  • Grave Sight. Charlaine Harris (The first book in the Harper Connelly mystery series. Everyone else has read something by Harris, and I'm beginning to feel left out.)
  • The Haunting of Hill House. Shirley Jackson (This would be a re-read for me, so I'm not sure about it; but it's been many years, and I loved it the first time around.)
  • The Hunger. Whitley Strieber (I'm not usually a vampire fan, but I could make an exception for this one. Loved the movie.)
  • Mr. Murder. Dean Koontz (Never read anything by Koontz, but several trusted recommenders have recommended this one.)
  • The Prince of Mist. Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n (A spooky novel for young adults, by the author of Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game.)
  • Widdershins. Oliver Onions (First published in 1911, and one of the classic ghost story collections; includes the novella that is probably Onions' best-known work, The Beckoning Fair One.)
Or, I might ignore all those and just stick with Preston and Child – there are still quite a few of their Pendergast novels I haven't gotten to yet. And Diogenes P. is a really delicious villain – perfect for a little autumnal reading spree. Anyway, during the challenge I'll be updating my reading progress on my challenge blog here.

Now, I'm off to sign myself up for the challenge, and then do some blog-hopping to see what everyone else is thinking about reading.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Stormy Weather

This week, BTT asks: "What’s your book with weather events? Hurricanes? Tornadoes? Blizzards? Real? Fiction? Doesn’t matter...weather comes up a lot in books, so there’s got to be a favorite somewhere, huh?"

I suppose that's true -- most authors do make use of weather at some point: as a plot device, or sometimes just to set a mood. But I'm not sure I have a favorite "weather book."

Of all the books I've read, I can really only think of two in which weather plays a major role -- Wuthering Heights and The Grapes of Wrath. Of course, there's also Dr. Seuss's Bartholomew and the Oobleck -- but I'm not sure I've ever actually read that one, or just read about it (brain getting a little mushy these days).

So I guess I'd have to say that, unless it's a major element in the story, I pretty much ignore literary weather systems. Wish I could do that in real life, too.