Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Beginnings: His Last Bow

His Last Bow: Some Later Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes. This is the first sentence of the title story (which is actually the last story in the collection):
It was nine o'clock at night upon the second of August — the most terrible August in the history of the world.
About the Book:
His Last Bow is a collection of previously published Sherlock Holmes mysteries, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The earliest of the stories first appeared in 1908, and the last one ("His Last Bow") was originally published in 1917, a month before this volume was issued.

Initial Thoughts:

First of all, I'm assuming that the quote is referring to the beginning of the First World War, in August 1914. I'm sure that to Conan Doyle's generation, it did seem like the most terrible August in history.

I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan, though I don't think I've read any of these later stories. But I have seen several of them dramatized for British TV — with the magnificent Jeremy Brett as Holmes. The cover above is not the cover of the book I'm actually reading. It's from a "tie-in" edition, with the actors from the BBC One production (which I haven't seen). I'm reading one of the Kindle editions, with this cover:

I believe the drawing is one of the original illustrations — most of the stories were serialized in magazines and illustrated when they first came out. I have another print edition, one of a complete set of Holmes stories, and it's one I like a lot, so I'll include a photo of that one, too. Just becuz.


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, April 25, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Fix

This week my teaser lines come from David Baldacci's new thriller, The Fix (Grand Central Publishing, April 2017). It's the latest entry in his "Memory Man" series centered around police detective Amos Decker. This excerpt comes from Location 1772 of the e-book edition, and is from an uncorrected advance copy, so please remember that it might be different in the published volume.
"Good workout?" she asked, without looking at him.
"Any workout I have that doesn't involve a coronary is a good workout for me."
Yeah, that's kinda how I feel about workouts, too.

If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Monday, April 10, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

So here we are, heading into the middle of April. A quarter of the year, already history. Finding that very hard to accept. we are.

I started the year with a very annoying reading slump that I'm just now beginning to climb out of. Which means I'm waaayyy behind on the list of things I wanted to read this winter/spring. This week, I'm finishing up a book I started back in March:

The Blazing World, by Siri Hustvedt

I'm enjoying it, for the most part. But the fact that I could put it aside for so long probably means something. One of those books that's really longer than it needed to be? Hope to get a review up later in the week — assuming I can stick with it long enough to get it read.

Last week I read one of the books I've chosen for the Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt:

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

Really enjoyed that one. Hard to believe I've never read it before, since it's one of Christie's best-known works. Review to come, later this week (I hope).

Next up, as soon as I finish the Hustvedt book: probably another I intended to read last month:

The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry

That's one I received through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program and I'm really late in getting to it. Feeling very guilty, especially since Barry is one of my favorite authors.

So, that's my update. Now I'm off to see what everyone else is reading or getting ready to read. Happy Monday, everyone!

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.

Musing Monday 4/10/2017

The Musing Monday meme, hosted at The Purple Booker, asks us to choose one of the following bookish prompts to muse about:
▸ I’m currently reading…
▸ Up next I think I’ll read…
▸ I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
▸ I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
▸ I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
▸ I can’t wait to get a copy of…
▸ I wish I could read ___, but…
▸ I blogged about ____ this past week…
There's also usually an extra, random, question to answer. This week's:
What’s the coolest name you have ever seen in a book? Would you name your offspring after said fictional character?

That's a very intriguing question, but I guess my answer would depend on what is meant by "cool." And though I never had offspring, I always maintained that I'd never name a child after anyone in a book or movie or TV show or song or.... Well, you get it — I wouldn't want to saddle a child with the name of a "character."

But I do have a lengthy list of interesting character names from books (some I've read, some I haven't). Can't think of all of them right now (lucky you!), but here are a handful, in no particular order:
  • Rhett Butler, Scarlett O'Hara, and Bonnie Blue Butler - Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  • Eustacia Vye - The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy
  • Bathsheba Everdene - Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy
  • Hepzibah Pyncheon - The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne 
  • Heathcliff - Wuthering Heights, by Emily BrontΓ«
  • Hercule Poirot - mystery series, by Agatha Christie
  • Holly Golightly - Breakfast At Tiffany's, by Truman Capote
  • Huckleberry Finn - The Adventures of...., by Mark Twain
  • Humbert Humbert - Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Lorna Doone - Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore
  • Sherlock Holmes - mystery series, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Sam Spade - The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
  • Sebastian Flyte - Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
  • Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, and just about all the names in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Nero Wolfe - mystery series, by Rex Stout
  • Ellery Queen - mystery series, by Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee
... and I could go on and on. Maybe I'll do a blog post with the full list someday. Waiting on the edge of your seat, right?

OK, that's enough musing for now. Happy Monday, everyone! And please feel free to leave me a link to your own Monday musings. I love to see what all the other bookworms are chomping on!

Monday, April 03, 2017

Update: Picture Book Reading Challenge - Part 1

I've been a little slow getting started with my reading this year. Didn't read nearly as many books as I usually do in January or February or March, and April isn't looking much better. Just haven't been able to stick with anything long enough to finish it.

But I've done much better with children's books! Guess I've found my level.

I signed up for Becky's Picture Book Reading Challenge and I've already read more than the six book minimum. So I thought I'd do a little update, mainly just so I'll remember what I read and what I thought about it. I'm going to break it up into a couple of parts, so it won't be such an overwhelming post.

I'm using Becky's check list for choosing my books, and the numbers in parentheses here are the numbers from her list.

(17.) a book about pets (cats, dogs, fish):
My Kitten, by Margaret O'Hair; illus. by Tammie Lyon (pub. 2011)

Very cute story told in simple rhymes ("Food kitten, munch kitten, yum kitten, eat. / Lick kitten, fur kitten, clean kitten, neat."), about a little girl and her mischievous kitten. Tammie Lyon's illustrations stretch across two pages and are sweet and full of energy. I think this would be a lovely book to read aloud with your toddler.

(41.) a series book:
Arthur's Nose (25th Anniversary Edition). Marc Brown (first pub. 1976)

I'm a longtime fan of the Arthur cartoon series on PBS (a guilty pleasure), although I had never read any of the books. But they've been so super successful, I was interested to see how it all began. This 25th Anniversary edition of the series' first entry gave me that chance; plus it has extra material by the author, telling about what inspired him to write that first book about the young aardvark and his friends and family. I'm still a fan, but I have to admit if I was a kid just discovering this first book, I'm not sure it would leave me wanting more.

In the story, Arthur doesn't like his nose. He doesn't like the way it looks or the fact that it gets in the way when he plays games. And his friends think it's funny. He decides to change it, and goes to the rhinologist for advice. The rhinologist has him "try on" pictures of other noses to see if one of them suits him better. Well, of course, you know Arthur doesn't end up changing his nose. And that's it. Not the most scintillating of tales. But the pictures are cute and funny, and it's definitely nice to see how Arthur and his pals have changed over the years.

(43.) a book published before 1950:
Millions of Cats, written and illus. by Wanda GΓ‘g (pub. 1928)

A Newbery Honor Book, Wanda GΓ‘g's classic tale of an old man and woman who decide to get a cat is a book I've always known about, and always wanted to read. Strange that I just read it this year for the first time. Have to say, I thought I would like it more than I did. I loved the black-and-white artwork, but somehow I expected better story-telling. Maybe it's one of those books only children really respond to.

(62.) a Caldecott winner:
Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey (1958 Winner)
Another book that's been on my must-read list since it first appeared. However, this one I loved.

McCloskey's classic tale of a summer spent on an island off the coast of Maine is told in gorgeous, atmospheric pictures and stirring, poetic text. The description of the approaching storm and its effects on the family are wonderfully evocative, and the pictures put you right there. It's a beautiful, unforgettable reading experience for children and their elders.

(63.) a Caldecott honor:
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, by Chris Van Allsburg (1980 Honor book)

Young Alan Mitz is looking after Miss Hester's dog Fritz while Miss Hester visits her cousin Eunice. Fritz is not the tamest of canines, which is why cousin Eunice asked that he be left at home. One day while Alan isn't paying enough attention, Fritz runs away and strays into the forbidden garden of dog-hating retired magician, Abdul Gasazi. Of course, Alan has to follow and try to get the bad dog back. He eventually meets Mr. Gasazi and has a rather nasty trick played on him. Does he get Fritz back? You'll have to read the story to find out.

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with all of Chris Van Allsburg's work. I recognize the mastery, but I can't really say I'm attracted to his style of drawing. This is an intriguing story and the garden is appropriately mysterious; and Abdul Gasazi has a bit of magic up his sleeve. Is the magic real? That's a good question to explore with young readers.

(86.) a poetry book:
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, by Joyce Sidman; illus. by Rick Allen (pub. 2010)

This was a Newbery Honor Book for 2011, but I must admit I bought it just because of that cover. What a powerful image! And the artwork between the covers is wonderful, too. Even the Table of Contents page is colorful and fun to look at:

The book sticks to a strict pattern of poetry on the left-hand page, and on the right, a short lesson about the outdoor world at night. I learned quite a lot from those lessons. Some of the poetry rhymes, some doesn't. Some of it is simple and some is a bit more intricate. It's all very intriguing, and should appeal to readers of all ages. But I'm thinking it might be better for younger children to read with an adult — someone to explain the more unfamiliar words, and point out things a child might miss (like the fact that in the poem about the "Dark Emperor," the text is actually shaped like a stylized owl).

Musing Monday 4/03/2017

The Musing Monday meme, hosted at The Purple Booker, asks us to choose one of the following bookish prompts to muse about:
▸ I’m currently reading…
▸ Up next I think I’ll read…
▸ I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
▸ I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
▸ I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
▸ I can’t wait to get a copy of…
▸ I wish I could read ___, but…
▸ I blogged about ____ this past week…
There's also usually an extra, random, question to answer. This week's:
Are there any songs that make you think of certain books or scenes from books? If so, which songs/books?
So — the buying of books....

Well, I bought four books last week, all of them e-books, and all from Amazon. I really would prefer to buy more of my books from local independents, but there just aren't any of those around here. The only book store very near us is a Half-Price Books, and it's about a 45-minute drive away. Also, I've come to realize that I do read faster when I'm reading digital. So when I get a sudden book-buying notion, Amazon is pretty much my best choice.

Anyhoo, these are the books I bought:
The Cat Who Played Post Office, by Lilian Jackson Braun
A Going Concern, by Catherine Aird
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
Now if I could just settle down and actually read something....

And for this week's random question — I can't really think of any books I associate with any specific songs or musical works. I'd be much more likely to connect music with movies or plays or TV shows. But then, I'm not very musical.

OK, that's enough musing for now. Happy Monday, everyone! And please feel free to leave me a link to your own Monday musings. I love to see what all the other bookworms are chomping on!