Friday, January 27, 2017

Book Beginnings: In Thrall

In Thrall, by Eva Hanagan (The Odyssey Press, November 2016; first published 1977). These are the book's first lines:
I dug her grave beneath the big pine tree on the edge of the clearing, and when I had finished I sat crouched upon a rough exposed tree root and let handfuls of dry pine needles trickle through my fingers until all the dark fresh loam was gently covered in sepia gold. I could feel the eyes of the watchers upon me, although I could not see them, as my own were masked with tears.
About the Book:
"Recently-widowed Amelia Grace seizes the opportunity to escape her stifling middle-class suburban life by becoming the new occupant of Thatchers Cottage, with Ponsonby the cat her only company. A yearning for peace and tranquillity that has so far eluded her draws her towards the small stretch of woodland at the edge of her land. 
...she passes many an hour there each day, drinking in the life-giving spirit of the clearing near the curious rocky mound. 
But is a tranquil woodland atmosphere all there is to it? Is there more to the local folklore about the woods at Thatchers than just ‘old wives’ tales’?"
Initial Thoughts:

The watchers? What watchers? And whose grave are we digging? Hmmm.

Thinking about reading this one for the Read Scotland Challenge at Goodreads. I had never heard of this book or its author before I discovered it while browsing at Amazon the other day. Eva Hanagan was a Scottish writer and In Thrall, her first novel, was published in 1977. That beginning definitely makes me want to sample a little more. What about you?

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.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This week I've been doing a lot of work on my other blog (joysweb), so I haven't really been getting a lot of reading done. So far, in January I've finished a couple of books that I had on my list for the month:

Faithful, by Alice Hoffman

The Ballad of Peckham Rye, by Muriel Spark

(Reviews to come later this week.)

And then I got sidetracked by a true crime book I found on sale at Amazon:

It definitely wasn't on any of my lists, but I'm enjoying it a lot. After I finish that one, I'll probably be starting The Fifth Petal, the new novel by Brunonia Barry:

I loved Barry's first novel, The Lace Reader, a few years ago, so I have high hopes for this one.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now 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, January 15, 2017

Reading Challenge Addict, That's Me!

Yes, I am a reading challenge addict. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, but it's a reality and I have to face it. I always start out saying "only one or two this year," and inevitably end up signed up for a dozen or more (16 so far this year). So, I figure I might as well join the group and declare myself. Also hoping this will help me keep myself organized in 2017. During the year, I'll be doing most of my record-keeping and progress-tracking over on my challenge blog (HERE), but I'll try to update this post too, if I can remember.

My 2017 Reading Challenges:

Reading Goal: 2 books each in 17 categories
Books Read:  

Reading Goal: 50 books

Reading Goal: 50 books

Reading Goal: 12 books

Reading Goal: 2-6 books

Reading Goal: 10 books

Reading Goal: 4 books

Reading Goal: 5 books

Reading Goal: 12 books

Reading Goal: 15-20 books

Reading Goal: No set number of books

Reading Goal: 20 books 

Reading Goal: at least 6 books

Reading Goal: 1-5 books

Reading Goal: at least 6 books

Reading Goal: 6 books


Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 Picture Book Reading Challenge

Host: Becky @ Becky's Book Reviews
Dates: January - December 2017

As Becky says, the goal of this challenge is "To have adults read more picture books. To celebrate the fact that picture books are for everyone!" I love picture books, both the kiddie and adult kind. I'm going to be reading them anyway, so why not join the challenge?

There are several reading options for this challenge, including a bingo card that looks intriguing. But I think I'll go with Becky's checklist of categories/subjects/varieties — I love having all these choices:

_ 1. An alphabet book
_ 2. A counting book
_ 3. Concept book: shapes or numbers or opposites or colors
_ 4. a book set on a farm or in the country
_ 5. a book set in the city or in an urban area
_ 6. a book set at the beach, in the ocean, or by a lake
_ 7. a book with human characters
_ 8. a book with animal characters
_ 9. a bedtime book
_ 10. a rhyming book
_ 11. a book celebrating art
_ 12. a book celebrating dance
_ 13. a book celebrating music
_ 14. a book celebrating family (parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc.)
_ 15. a book about feelings, expressing feelings
_ 16. a book with a twist (unexpected) ending
_ 17. a book about pets (cats, dogs, fish)
_ 18. a book celebrating libraries or reading
_ 19. a book translated into English (originally published in another language/country)
_ 20. Mother Goose related
_ 21. a book about adoption
_ 22. a book by Gail Gibbons
_ 23. a book by Jon Scieszka
_ 24. a book featured on Reading Rainbow
_ 25. free choice
_ 26. out of print
_ 27. wordless picture book
_ 28. a book by Margaret Wise Brown
_ 29. a board book
_ 30. a book about trains or planes
_ 31. a book about cars or trucks
_ 32. a book about starting school
_ 33. a book about friendship (sharing, caring, forgiving)
_ 34. a book about being ME, about being unique, special, loved, etc.
_ 35. a fairy tale
_ 36. a twisted (adapted) fairy tale
_ 37. a book about a holiday
_ 38. a new-to-you author
_ 39. a new-to-you illustrator
_ 40. a book about new experiences (dentist, doctor, sleepovers, movies, playing sports, learning to swim, etc.)
_ 41. a series book
_ 42. a book celebrating food (cooking, eating, trying new foods, eating healthy)
_ 43. a book published before 1950
_ 44. a book published in the 1950s
_ 45. a book published in the 1960s
_ 46. a book published in the 1970s
_ 47. a book published in the 1980s
_ 48. a book published in the 1990s
_ 49. a book published in the 2000s
_ 50. a book published 2010-2016
_ 51. a book published in 2017
_ 52. a book by Dr. Seuss
_ 53. a book by Mo Willems
_ 54. a book by Jan Thomas
_ 55. a book by Eric Carle
_ 56. a book by Laura Numeroff
_ 57. a book by Patricia Polacco
_ 58. a book by Jon Klassen
_ 59. a book by Beatrix Potter
_ 60. a book by Kevin Henkes
_ 61. a book written or illustrated by LeUyen Pham
_ 62. a Caldecott winner
_ 63. a Caldecott honor
_ 64. a picture book biography
_ 65. a nonfiction picture book
_ 66. a book from your childhood
_ 67. a book you discovered as an adult
_ 68. a book celebrating writing, being an author or illustrator
_ 69. a library book
_ 70. an audio book
_ 71. a book about dinosaurs OR dragons
_ 72. nonfiction book about animals (or animal)
_ 73. a challenged book OR a controversial book
_ 74. a book that makes you laugh
_ 75. a book that makes you cry
_ 76. hate the text, love the art
_ 77. love the text, hate the art
_ 78. a book with a great cover
_ 79. a book with an ugly cover
_ 80. a book about toys
_ 81. a book about weather
_ 82. a picture book for older readers
_ 83. a book of jokes, riddles, tongue-twisters
_ 84. a book about seasons
_ 85. a song
_ 86. a poetry book
_ 87. a book by a celebrity
_ 88. a book published in Australia
_ 89. a book published in the UK
_ 90. a book about science or math
_ 91. a book about history or historical event
_ 92. a book about sports
_ 93. a book about celebrating birthdays
_ 94. a book about a President or world leader
_ 95. a book about another country
_ 96. a book celebrating faith
_ 97. a pop-up book, or, a book with cut-outs or flaps or fold-outs
_ 98. a bilingual book
_ 99. a television series that has been adapted to a book
_ 100. a book that has been adapted to a television series
_ 101. an adaptation of a myth or legend
_ 102. a book about babies

Not that I'll be reading that many books, but it does give me something to shoot for. During the year, I'll be tracking my progress over on my challenge blog (HERE).

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Beginnings: Two Days Gone

Two Days Gone, by Randall Silvis (Sourcebooks Landmark, January 2017). These are the book's opening lines:
The waters of Lake Wilhelm are dark and chilled. In some places, the lake is deep enough to swallow a house. In others, a body could lie just beneath the surface, tangled in the morass of weeds and water plants, and remain unseen, just another shadowy form, a captive feast for the catfish and crappie and the monster bass that will nibble away at it until the bones fall asunder and bury themselves in the silty floor.
About the Book:
"A literary page-turner about a beloved college professor accused of murdering his entire family, and one small-town cop's dangerous search for answers."
My Thoughts:

Two Days Gone is apparently the first book in a planned series of mystery novels centered around police detective Ryan DeMarco. And somehow that beginning makes me think this is not going to be a light and sunny read. Maybe a tad darker than I want right now, but it's got my interest. Well, I was looking for something different from my first read of the year (Alice Hoffman's Faithful), and this is definitely very different from that.

So, what about it? Would that opening draw you in and keep you 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.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Book Beginnings: Faithful

Faithful, by Alice Hoffman (Simon & Schuster, November 2016). These are the book's first lines:
In February, when the snow comes down hard, little globes of light are left along Route 110, on the side of the road that slopes off when a driver least expects it. The lights are candles set inside paper bags, surrounded by sand, and they burn past midnight. They shouldn't last for that amount of time, but that's part of the miracle.
About the Book:
"... a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.
Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt. 
Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world.... Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night."
My Thoughts:

I was a little nervous about this one at first — angels, miracles, and troubled teenagers aren't usually my subjects of choice. But so far, I'm enjoying the book quite a lot. But I have to admit, I was initially attracted by that cover. So lovely.

Admit it — you sometimes buy books for the cover, too. Am I right?

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.

2017 New Authors Reading Challenge

Host: Literary Escapism
Dates: January 1 - December 31, 2017

For some reason, I didn't participate in the 2016 edition of this challenge, but I'm in for 2017. Hoping to discover at least 15-20 new authors. During the year, I'll be tracking my progress and keeping all my lists over on my challenge blog (HERE).

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Challenge Wrap-Up: 2016 What's In a Name? Challenge

The 2016 What's In A Name? Reading Challenge was hosted by Charlie @ The Worm Hole. I didn't do very well with this one. Of the six categories, I was only able to read books for three of them:
  • An item of furniture: The Clocks (Hercule Poirot #34). Agatha Christie 
  • A profession: Dreaming Spies. Laurie R. King
  • A month of the year: The Last September. Nina de Gramont 
But even though, technically, I didn't complete the challenge, I did enjoy what I read. And had a LOT of fun making lists of possibilities! Thanks so much to Charlie for hosting.

Note: The 2017 edition of the challenge has been announced, and you can see the guidelines and sign up HERE.

Challenge Wrap-Up: 2016 Women's Fiction Reading Challenge

The 2016 Women's Fiction Reading Challenge was hosted by The Book Date. I signed up at the "Motivated" level (Level #1: read 1-5 books) and actually read seven books I think qualify for the challenge. Didn't do such a great job of reviewing those books, but still think the challenge was pretty successful.

Here's what I read:
  1. The Last September. Nina de Gramont 
  2. The People in the Photo. Hélène Gestern 
  3. My Name Is Lucy Barton. Elizabeth Strout 
  4. Miller's Valley. Anna Quindlen
  5. A Fine Imitation. Amber Brock 
  6. This Too Shall Pass. Milena Busquets 
  7. The Book That Matters Most. Ann Hood 
I haven't seen an announcement for a 2017 edition of the challenge, but I want to say thanks to Kathryn at The Book Date for hosting this one.

Challenge Wrap-Up: 2016 Women Challenge

The 2016 Women Challenge (4th annual) was hosted by Peek a Book! and had just one main requirement: read more books, of any kind, written by women authors.

I signed up at the Super Girl level (Level 3: read 16-20 books), and didn't read quite as much as I'd hoped. But I did manage to read seventeen books by women writers, so I think it was pretty successful. Here's what I read:
1. Lilies That Fester (Sheila Malory Mysteries #11). Hazel Holt
2. The Last September. Nina de Gramont
3. The People in the Photo. Hélène Gestern
4. Dreaming Spies (Mary Russell #13). Laurie R. King
5. My Name Is Lucy Barton. Elizabeth Strout
6. A Christmas Escape. Anne Perry
7. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Kate DiCamillo; illus. by K.G. Campbell
8. Miller's Valley. Anna Quindlen
9. A Fine Imitation. Amber Brock
10. This Too Shall Pass. Milena Busquets
11. Lovely In Her Bones. Sharyn McCrumb
12. Inkheart. Cornelia Funke; trans. by Anthea Bell
13. Vinegar Girl. Anne Tyler
14. The Book That Matters Most. Ann Hood
15. The Girls. Emma Cline
16. The Clocks (Hercule Poirot #34). Agatha Christie
17. Curtain: Poirot's Last Case (Hercule Poirot #39). Agatha Christie
Note: The 2017 Women's Challenge has been announced, and the sign-up page is HERE.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Host: Passages to the Past
Dates: January 1 - December 31, 2017

I'm signing up at the Victorian Reader level (5 books). During the year, I'll be tracking my progress HERE on my Challenge blog.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Books Read in 2017

Cumulative Reading List

Here's where I'll be tracking my reading in 2017.

My goal for this year, as usual, is 50 books. In 2016 I didn't even make it to 40, but I'm hoping for a much better showing in 2017.


1. Faithful. Alice Hoffman (2016; fiction; 272 pages, e-book)
2. Smooth Talker: Trail of Death. Steve Jackson (2016; true crime; 190 pages, e-book)
3. As Good As Gone. Larry Watson (2016; fiction; 341 pages)
4. The Ballad of Peckham Rye. Muriel Spark (1960; fiction; 138 pages)
5. The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. Chris Van Allsburg (1979; children's fiction; 32 pages)


6. Devil Sent the Rain (Detective Billy Able #3). Lisa Turner (2016; fiction; 352 pages, ARC)
7. The Roanoke Girls. Amy Engel (2017; fiction; 288 pages, ARC)
8. Time of Wonder. Robert McCloskey (1957; children's fiction; 64 pages)
9. Millions of Cats. Wanda Gág (1928; children's fiction; 32 pages)


10. Rosemary's Baby. Ira Levin (1967; fiction; 218 pages) (re-read)
11. Magic by the Lake (Tales of Magic #3). Edward Eager (1957; children's fiction; 190 pages)
12. The Blazing World. Siri Hustvedt (2014; fiction; 320 pages, e-book)


13. Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #10). Agatha Christie (1934; fiction; 256 pages, e-book)
14. The Secret Room (Zoe Goldman #3). Sandra Block (2017; fiction; 368 pages ARC, e-book)
15. The Fix (Amos Decker #3). David Baldacci (2017; fiction; 432 pages ARC, e-book)
16. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night. Joyce Sidman; illus. by Rick Allen (2010; poetry and nonfiction for children; 32 pages)


17. The Fifth Petal. Brunonia Barry (2017; fiction; 432 pages ARC)


18. Adventures of Frog and Toad. Arnold Lobel (2013; children's fiction; 192 pages)
19. The Arnold Lobel Treasury. Arnold Lobel (2014; children's fiction; 144 pages)


20. Our Spoons Came from Woolworths. Barbara Comyns (1950; fiction; 224 pages, e-book)




21. An Echo of Murder (William Monk #23). Anne Perry (2017; fiction; 320 pages, ARC)
22. Tell Me How This Ends Well. David Samuel Levinson (2017; fiction; 416 pages, ARC)


23. The Body in the Library (Miss Marple #3). Agatha Christie (1942; fiction; 224 pages)
24. The Graveyard Apartment. Mariko Koike, trans. by Deborah Boliver Boehm (2016/1988; fiction; 325 pages, e-book)
25. See What I Have Done. Sarah Schmidt (2017; fiction; 324 pages, ARC)
26. Anything Is Possible. Elizabeth Strout (2017; fiction; 254 pages, ARC)


27. Over My Dead Body (Nero Wolfe #7). Rex Stout (1940; fiction; 271 pages, e-book)


28. The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes (Stewart Hoag #9). David Handler (2017; fiction; 291 pages, e-book)
29. The Rules of Magic. Alice Hoffman (reading now)