Thursday, January 31, 2019

Book Beginnings: O Pioneers!


O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (first published 1913). These are the first lines of Chapter One:
One January day, thirty years ago, the little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away.  A mist of fine snowflakes was curling and eddying about the cluster of low drab buildings huddled on the gray prairie, under a gray sky. 

About the Book:
Alexandra Bergson inherits the family farm when her father dies early. In spite of her brothers’ doubts, her ambitious vision for the land comes to fruition, but the price of success appears to be a small, quiet life. Then the equilibrium of country life is jeopardized by the return of Alexandra’s brother Emil and her childhood confidant, Carl Linstrum. 
O Pioneers! is at once a love letter to Nebraska and the tale of a remarkable heroine who remains resilient in the face of tragedy. (-- Penguin Books website)

Initial Thoughts:

I've tried to read Cather's O Pioneers! many times, but never got much farther than the opening paragraphs. I always found it just a little too — well, slow. Maybe depressing. Just take a look at those first sentences. See what I mean?

But I'm thinking of giving it one more chance this year, for the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge. It's a short book — I should be able to stick with it for the sake of the challenge. Maybe. We'll see....

Even though I've never managed to get all the way through the book, over the years I've bought several copies. The covers can be very seductive.


Happy reading, everyone! And have a lovely weekend.



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, January 29, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: To-Read List, Latest Additions


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. To read all the rules and link up, just head on over to her blog.

This week's topic is "Latest Additions to My To-Read List" and it's another one that makes me feel a little guilty. Or maybe just overwhelmed. My "To-Read" list is so enormous, it's impossible even to imagine that I could ever read all the books on it. But that's OK — I love making the list almost as much as I love reading the books. (Sometimes maybe more.) So let's take a look and see what we come up with....

Actually, there are a dozen books that have been added to my list pretty recently. Mostly fiction, but starting off with an interesting nonfiction title I found the other day.


The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books, by Edward Wilson-Lee
The Stranger Diaries, by Elly Griffiths
Murder Theory (The Naturalist series, #3), by Andrew Mayne



The Last Romantics, by Tara Conklin
Light from Other Stars, by Erika Swyler
Old Baggage, by Lissa Evans



The Christie Curse, by Victoria Abbott (first book in her Book Collector Mystery series)
The Editor, by Steven Rowley
The Invited, by Jennifer McMahon



Lock Every Door, by Riley Sager
The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides
The Vicious Vet (Agatha Raisin series, #2), by M.C. Beaton


So that's my "Top Ten" list of twelve books I think I'd like to read. Some old, some not yet published. Enough to keep me occupied for at least a few months if I actually get to them. See anything tempting? Or if you've read any of these, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, January 28, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Monday again. And the last Monday of the month. January is almost outta here. January is one of those problematic months for me: I love the energy of fresh starts and new things happening, but don't particularly relish all that goal-setting and resolution-making. And, of course (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere which I do) — it's much too COLD!!

But we've been having some pretty good January weather in these parts — nothing bad enough to make my seasonal depression kick in. Which means that instead of sitting around wrapped in a blanket, cursing the weather gods, I've actually been able to get some reading done. So far this year, I've finished three (count 'em — three!) books:


Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (1st book in the series), by M.C. Beaton
Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover
The Janus Stone (2nd book in the Ruth Galloway series), by Elly Griffiths

I'll be posting reviews of Educated and The Janus Stone later this week. Also hoping to get another book or two read before the end of the month. I've got several advance copies leftover from last year that I really need to get finished and reviewed before we get too much farther into 2019. Mainly...


The Last Romantics, by Tara Conklin (coming in February, from William Morrow)
Old Baggage, by Lissa Evans (the US paperback edition of this is due out in April)
The Water Tower Club, by B.K. Mayo (published this month, by Fir Valley Press)

And that's definitely enough to keep me busy this week. Not much else going on right now (well, just some dental work scheduled for Thursday that I'm really looking forward to). So, it looks like my January will have been a bookish success. Nice.

How's your reading year going so far?



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, January 24, 2019

Book Beginnings: The Janus Stone


The Janus Stone, by Elly Griffiths (first published 2010), second book in Griffiths' Ruth Galloway mystery series. These are the book's opening lines:

1st June, Festival of Carna 

The house is waiting. It knows. When I sacrificed yesterday, the entrails were black. Everything is turned to night. Outside it is spring but in the house there is a coldness, a pall of despair that covers everything.

About the Book:
Forensics expert Ruth Galloway is called in to investigate when builders, demolishing a large old house in Norwich to make way for a new development, uncover the skeleton of a child — minus the skull — beneath a doorway. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain straightforward murder? DCI Harry Nelson must find out. 
The house was once a children's home. Nelson meets the Catholic priest who used to run the home. He tells him that two children did go missing forty years before — a boy and a girl. They were never found. 
When carbon dating proves that the child's bones predate the children's home, Ruth is drawn more deeply into the case. But as spring turns to summer it becomes clear that someone is trying very hard to put her off the scent by frightening her half to death… (GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts:

Sacrificed? Well that's certainly not the perkiest beginning, is it? But it did get my attention — right away I'm wondering exactly what's going on and also when it's going on.

I picked this one up because I needed a book with a word starting with "J" in the title; and this one has been on my TBR list for quite a while. Of course, once again I've started a series without reading the first book in the series, and I have a feeling that might be a problem this time. But we'll see....

For now, happy reading, everyone! And have a lovely weekend.




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, January 22, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2018 (But Didn't)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. To read all the rules and link up, just head on over to her blog.

This week's list topic is definitely making me feel guilty because several of the books I should have read were advance copies that I just never got around to. Shame, shame, shame. But I've made a promise to myself to DO  BETTER  THIS  YEAR. (And I really mean it this time.)

Anyway, here's my ten, in no special order:

The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah

City of Endless Night, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
(17th book in their series of Pendergast thrillers)

The Escape Artist, by Brad Meltzer

Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover
(Reading this one now.)

Virgil Wander, by Leif Enger

The Pharaoh Key, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
(Fifth book in their Gideon Crew series)

The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor

The Road to Lichfield, by Penelope Lively

The Ponder Heart, by Eudora Welty



Reading Report: The Quiche of Death


Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death
Written by M.C. Beaton
First published 1992; first book in the long-running series
196 pages, Kindle edition

50-ish Agatha Raisin is fed up with her successful career as a PR whiz and decides to leave London and the fast lane behind for the delights of early retirement. Choosing the quiet Cotswold village of Carsely, she purchases a cottage and quickly settles in — and just as quickly becomes bored with life in the slow lane. Trying to fit in and become popular with her new village crowd, she enters a quiche in the local cooking competition. She's sure no one will find out that instead of preparing the quiche herself, she purchased it from her favorite London caterer.

And she might have gotten away with the little subterfuge, if only the tasty quiche hadn't killed the judge! The poisoning is ruled accidental, so she doesn't end up in jail. But Agatha thinks it was murder and decides the only way to clear her reputation in the village is to find out who really poisoned the quiche of death.

This strange little cozy has been on my TBR shelf for several years now. I went back and forth on liking/not liking, but ended up enjoying it quite a lot. Beaton keeps the story humming along at a good pace, there are a lot of laughs thrown in, and Agatha is a hugely appealing and gloriously flawed character. A good choice for the year's first read. I can definitely see myself continuing with this very quirky series.

Rating: ★★★★

📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚

Qualifies for the following reading challenges:

2019 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge.
2019 GoodReads Reading Challenge.
2019 Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Book Beginnings: The Water Tower Club


The Water Tower Club, by B.K. Mayo (Fir Valley Press; January 15, 2019). New mystery novel from the author of Tamara's Child. These are the book's first lines:

You see it all the time on the news. The shaking heads. The startled looks. The stammered declaration: "I just can't believe it." What they can't believe is that their next-door neighbor, the unassuming Mr Wouldn't-Hurt-a-Fly, is a serial killer.

About the Book:
The day after graduating from high school, Darryl Coombs fled his hometown of Grotin, Kansas, hoping to put the memories of his nightmarish childhood behind him forever. Now, ten years later, his sister’s arrest on a charge of attempted murder has Darryl reluctantly returning to his childhood home. He is desperate to save his sister from prison, but his unwitting actions lead to deadly consequences that tear apart the fabric of a community and send him on a personal journey the end of which he could never have imagined.

Initial Thoughts:

Just started this one, but I've really enjoyed the bit I've read so far. Hope to finish it up later today — the weather here today is pretty yucky, so curling up with a good book is a very attractive prospect.

Happy reading, everyone! And have a lovely weekend.




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, January 01, 2019

Books Read in 2019

Cumulative Reading List

Here's where I'll be tracking my reading in 2019.

I usually have 50 books as my annual goal, but in recent years I've rarely achieved it. So this year I'm being a little more realistic and cutting that number down to 40 books. That's just a little more than a three-book average per month, and sounds fairly doable. So, here we go again....


JANUARY

1. The Quiche of Death (Agatha Raisin #1). M.C. Beaton (1992; fiction; 196 pages, Kindle edition)
2. The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway #2). Elly Griffiths (2010; fiction; 337 pages, Kindle edition)
3. Educated: A Memoir. Tara Westover (2018; nonfiction/autobiography; 339 pages, Kindle edition; ARC)
4. The Water Tower Club. B.K. Mayo (January 2019; fiction; 274 pages) 


FEBRUARY

5. O Pioneers! Willa Cather (1913; fiction; 154 pages)
6. Murder Theory (The Naturalist #3). Andrew Mayne (February 2019; fiction; 296 pages, ARC; e-book)

MARCH

7. The Stranger Diaries. Elly Griffiths (November 2018 / March 2019; fiction; 352 pages, ARC; e-book)
8. Run Away. Harlan Coben (March 2019; fiction; 385 pages; e-book)
9. The Uninvited. Dorothy Macardle (1942; fiction; 256 pages; e-book)


APRIL

10. The Appleton Case (Markham Sisters #1). Diana Xarissa (2015; fiction; 105 pages; e-book)
11. The Light at Tern Rock. Julia L. Sauer (1951; children's fiction; 64 pages)
12. Flat Stanley. Jeff Brown (1964; children's picture book; 48 pages)
13. The Magic Bedknob. Mary Norton (1943; fantasy; 113 pages)


MAY

14. The Invited. Jennifer McMahon (2019; fiction; 368 pages, ARC; e-book)
15. Light from Other Stars. Erika Swyler (2019; fiction/sci-fi; 320 pages, ARC; e-book)
16. Little Darlings. Melanie Golding (2019; fiction/thriller; 315 pages, ARC; e-book)
17. The Vicious Vet (Agatha Raisin #2). M.C. Beaton (1993; fiction/mystery; 224 pages; e-book)


JUNE
18. The Last Romantics. Tara Conklin (2019; fiction; 368 pages, ARC)
19. Mrs. Everything. Jennifer Weiner (2019; fiction; 480 pages, ARC; e-book)
20. Good Rosie! Kate DiCamillo; illus. by Harry Bliss (2018; children's fiction; 32 pages)


JULY
21. Recursion. Blake Crouch (2019; fiction/sci-fi thriller; 336 pages, ARC; e-book)
22. Lady in the Lake. Laura Lippman (2019; historical fiction/mystery; 352 pages, ARC; e-book)
23. The Potted Gardener (Agatha Raisin #3). M.C. Beaton (1994; fiction/cozy mystery; 256 pages; e-book)


AUGUST
24. The Patience of a Dead Man. Michael Clark (2019; fiction/ghost story; 374 pages, ARC; e-book)
25. Be Brave, Little Noddy. Enid Blyton (1956; children's picture book; 62 pages)
26. The Whispering Rabbit and Other Stories. Margaret Wise Brown; illus. by Garth Williams and Lillian Obligado (1965; children's picture book; 63 pages)


SEPTEMBER
27. The Man in the White Linen Suit (Stewart Hoag #11). David Handler (2019; fiction/mystery; 272 pages, ARC; e-book)
28. Old Baggage. Lissa Evans (reading now)
29. Fake Like Me. Barbara Bourland (reading now)

We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn #4). Becky Masterman (ARC, to read in September)


OCTOBER
....
NOVEMBER
....
DECEMBER
....