Thursday, July 02, 2020

Book Beginnings: The Jane Austen Society


The Jane Austen Society
by Natalie Jenner
St. Martin's Press, May 2020


Opening Lines
Clawton, Hampshire
June 1932
He lay back on the low stone wall, knees pulled up, and stretched out his spine against the rock. The birdsong pierced the early-morning air in little shrieks that hammered at his very skull. Lying there, still, face turned flat upwards to the sky, he could feel death all around him in the small church graveyard. 

About the Book
A heartbreaking and uplifting novel of hope, loss and love.

It’s only a few months since the war ended but the little village of Chawton is about to be hit by another devastating blow. The heart of the community and site of Jane Austen’s cherished former home, Chawton estate is in danger of being sold to the highest bidder.

Eight villagers are brought together by their love for the famous author’s novels, to create The Jane Austen Society. As new friendships form and the pain of the past begins to heal, surely they can find a way to preserve Austen’s legacy before it is too late?

Initial Thoughts

I guess my first thought is that we've got a really depressing opening there. But the book is supposed to be "uplifting," so I'm assuming (and hoping) it gets some uplift pretty quick.

I received an advance copy of Natalie Jenner's debut novel several months ago, but had to put it on hold in order to finish up a few other books. So I'm getting to it a little late. (Yeah, like that never happens around here!)

This one's a little out of my comfort zone — lately, I've been reading mysteries and suspense novels almost exclusively. But variety is a good thing, right? Not sure how long I'll stick with it, but I'm eager to make a start.

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.



Wednesday, June 17, 2020

WWW Wednesdays: 17 June 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?

First of all — it's sort of hard to believe June is half over already, isn't it? It seemed like May dragged on forever, but this month has just sort of buzzed right along.

I've had a lot of trouble settling into any books lately. I've sampled quite a few — kept putting one aside to start another. I guess the unsettled nature of life in general right now is affecting my reading habits, but I frequently have problems sticking with anything during the summer, for some reason. This week, I'm concentrating on reading one of the books I've received from Library Thing's Early Reviewer program:

The King's Justice, by Susan Elia MacNeal

I've had it for a while now and really need to get it finished and reviewed in a hurry.


2. What did you recently finish reading?

In the last couple of weeks, I've finished these two:

Access Point, by Tom Gabbay

by Rebecca Stead

Enjoyed both of those, and hope to get some reviews up soon. (Yeah, I always hope to do that, don't I?)


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

As usual, I have a few ARCs that I need to get to ASAP. These two are at the top of the pile....

 Or What You Will, by Jo Walton
(Coming out in July, from Tor Books)

 Knot of This World, by Mary Marks
(A Quilting Mystery, from Kensington Publishing, also due in July) 


Friday, June 05, 2020

Book Beginnings: Pilgrims



Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance, by Garrison Keillor
(First published 2009)

Opening Lines
The first of the pilgrims through the International Arrivals portal at Leonardo da Vinci was Margie Krebsbach, face scrubbed, fresh, grinning, towing her husband Carl who looked stunned as if struck by a ball-peen hammer, and then the others came slouching and shuffling along, jet-lagged, brain-dead, and right away she spotted the thin, spiky-haired man in the blue blazer holding up a sign — LAKE WOBEGON — in one hand, high and she let out a whoop and let go of Carl.

About the Book
Margie Krebsbach dreams up the idea of a trip to Rome, hoping to renew her husband's romantic interest. She also finds a patriotic purpose for the journey: A Lake Wobegon boy, Gussy Norlander, died in the liberation of Rome, 1944, and his grave, according to his elderly brother Norbert, is in a neglected weed patch near the Colosseum. So it's decided they will go to clean Gussy's final resting place.

But Margie is unprepared for the enthusiastic response —fifty people want to go with her, including her nemesis, the mayor of Lake Wobegon, Carl's bossy sister Eloise, Mr. Berge the town drunk, and her treacherous mother-in-law. Margie gets the motley crew to the airport and aboard the plane, and then discovers one of the secret pleasures of travel — safely away from Lake Wobegon, the pilgrims' memories are quickened and they recall long-forgotten incidents. In this alien territory, they tell stories of astonishing frankness and self-revelation all delivered with Keillor's trademark humor. 

Initial Thoughts

Okay, my FIRST thought was that that is one very LONG opening sentence. But it does sound a lot like Garrison Keillor.

I've been looking for something to read for the 2020 European Reading Challenge. It's always one of my favorite challenges, but I haven't been doing very well with it this year. Pilgrims takes place (at least most of it) in Italy, and it's been on my TBR list ever since it came out back in 2009. And I already own a copy, so that makes it even more attractive.

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.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Book Beginnings: A Fatal Grace


A Fatal Grace, by Louise Penny (first published 2006)
Second book in the Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series

Opening Lines
Had CC de Poitiers known she was going to be murdered she might have bought her husband, Richard, a Christmas gift.

About the Book
The falling snow brings a hush to Three Pines – until a scream pierces the air. A spectator at the annual Boxing Day curling match has been fatally electrocuted. Heading the investigation, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache unravels the dead woman's past and discovers a history of secrets and enemies. But Gamache has enemies of his own. As a bitter wind blows into the village, something even more chilling is sneaking up behind him. (GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts

Hmmm?  So now I'm wondering why she didn't buy the poor guy a Christmas gift. Even though she didn't know about her impending demise.

I just finished the first book in this series (Still Life, 2005) last week, and liked it so much that I just had to go ahead and read the second book right away. Actually, that doesn't happen very often for me – I usually allow some time between books in a series. But Chief Inspector Gamache is such an attractive character, I felt like I wanted to spend a little more time with him. From the reviews of this one, it seems to be just as good as the first book (it won the Agatha Award for Best Novel), so I have (as usual) high hopes.

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.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Book Beginnings: The King's Justice


The King's Justice, by Susan Elia MacNeal (Bantam, February 2020).
Ninth book in the Maggie Hope series of historical mystery novels.


Opening Lines
Prologue
March 1, 1943
Each incoming tide of the Thames brought another layer of debris, and, when the waters receded, mysteries could be found buried in the silt.

About the Book
Maggie Hope started out as Winston Churchill's secretary, but now she's a secret agent–and the only one who can figure out how a missing violin ties into a series of horrifying murders. 
Traumatized by her past, Maggie finds herself living dangerously–taking huge risks, smoking, drinking, and speeding through the city streets on a motorbike. The last thing she wants is to get entangled in another crime. But when she's called upon to look into the theft of a Stradivarius, one of the finest violins ever made, Maggie can't resist.  
Meanwhile, there's a serial killer on the loose in London, targeting conscientious objectors. Little does she know that investigating this dangerous predator will pit her against a new evil–and old enemies.

Initial Thoughts

This will be a new series for me, and as usual I'm jumping in at the end without having read any of the earlier books. But the premise is intriguing, and I'm always interested in that World War II period as a setting. So I have high hopes for this one.

I'm actually still reading the same book I've been reading for a couple of weeks now (Still Life, by Louise Penny), but I'm expecting to start this new one in a day or two...if I don't get distracted by one of those other books in one of those many piles of TBR books around here.


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.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Book Beginnings: Still Life, by Louise Penny


Still Life, by Louise Penny (first published 2005).
First book in her series of Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries.


Opening Lines
Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday. It was pretty much a surprise all round.


About the Book
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. 
Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces—and this series—with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny. (—GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts

This is a series I've been meaning to sample for years now. My husband recommended it, which is a little odd since he doesn't read many mystery novels. And I'm doing something that's quite unusual for me, too — starting with the very first book! Instead of starting near the end of the series and working my way back. It's definitely a new experience — but so far, a happy one.


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.


Friday, May 01, 2020

Book Beginnings: Miss Austen


Miss Austen, by Gill Hornby (Flatiron Books, April 2020). 

Opening lines
"Let us take that path." 
He closed the garden door behind her and gestured toward the Elm Walk. She pulled her shawl close and drank a deep draft of the new, green air. The year was 1795, and the day seemed to assume itself to be the first of that spring. Birds high in the oak tree sang out their relief; a new stickiness shone from the twigs. Together they walked up the slope at the back of the rectory, through the gap in the hedgerow and there — out of sight of her family — he stopped and took her hand.

About the Book
England, 1840. For the two decades following the death of her beloved sister, Jane, Cassandra Austen has lived alone, spending her days visiting friends and relations and quietly, purposefully working to preserve her sister’s reputation. Now in her sixties and increasingly frail, Cassandra goes to stay with the Fowles of Kintbury, family of her long-dead fiancé, in search of a trove of Jane’s letters. Dodging her hostess and a meddlesome housemaid, Cassandra eventually hunts down the letters and confronts the secrets they hold, secrets not only about Jane but about Cassandra herself. Will Cassandra bare the most private details of her life to the world, or commit her sister’s legacy to the flames? (Publisher's description)

Initial Thoughts

There seem to be several books out right now with Jane Austen as a character or theme. I'm usually a bit wary of that sort of historical fiction, but this one sounds more interesting than most. Got my copy from GoodReads in one of their giveaways, and I really should have read it by now. Running slow (as usual), but I'm eager to get started on it.

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.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Books from the Backlog


Books from the Backlog is a weekly linkup hosted by Carole's Random Life in Books. As she says, "Books from the Backlog is a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your bookshelf unread.  If you are anything like me, you might be surprised by some of the unread books hiding in your stacks."

I really haven't been able to make myself do a lot of reading lately. Just can't seem to settle down long enough. Keep feeling like I should be making masks or disinfecting something.

What I have been doing is spending a huge amount of time going through my "Want to Read" shelf at GoodReads. I started out thinking I would thin it out a bit, but of course just ended up adding more books to it. The thing that really surprised me was just how far back my TBR list goes – I started it back in 2008! One of the first books I added was Daphne, by Justine Picardie (first published 2006, by Bloomsbury).



Here's the description from GoodReads:
It is 1957. The author Daphne du Maurier, beautiful and famous, despairs as her marriage falls apart. Restlessly roaming through Menabilly, her remote mansion by the sea in Cornwall, she is haunted by regret and by her creations—especially Rebecca, from her most famous novel. Seeking distraction from her misery, Daphne becomes passionately interested in Branwell, the reprobate brother of the Brontë sisters, and begins a correspondence with the enigmatic scholar Alex Symington as she researches a biography. But behind Symington's respectable surface is a slippery character with much to hide, and soon truth and fiction have become indistinguishable. 
In present-day London, a lonely young woman, newly married after a fleeting courtship with a man considerably older than her, struggles with her Ph.D. thesis on du Maurier and the Brontës. Her husband, still seemingly in thrall to his brilliant, charismatic first wife, is frequently distant and mysterious, and she can't find a way to make the large, imposing house in Hampstead feel like her own. Retreating instead into the comfort of her library, she becomes absorbed in a fifty-year-old literary mystery… 
Daphne is a tale of obsession and possession, of stolen manuscripts and forged signatures, of love lost and love found: a tantalizing literary mystery that takes its reader into the heart of Daphne du Maurier's world. 

Daphne du Maurier's classic Gothic novel Rebecca is one of my favorite reads, and I've always been fascinated by the Brontës, too. So Picardie's book sounds like something I'd love. You wouldn't think it would take me more than ten years to get to it. Would you?

So what d'ya think? Sound good to you? Like something you'd read? Or maybe you've read this one already? I think I'll keep it on the Want-to-Read list. For now, anyway.

Happy reading, everyone!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Book Beginnings: Gin & Daggers


Gin & Daggers (Murder, She Wrote #1), by "Jessica Fletcher" and Donald Bain (first published 1989). These are the book's first lines:
"Care to take a closer look, Mrs. Fletcher?"
"Well, I suppose so," I said.
"Hold on, then, here we go." 
My heart, which had been nestled securely in its usual place, now moved up to my throat and lodged there, beating as though a crazed bass drum player were doing a paradiddle on it.

About the Book:
Jessica Fletcher is off to London to deliver the keynote address at a mystery writers convention. She's also looking forward to seeing her mentor, Marjorie Ainsworth, who's hosting a party on her estate to celebrate her latest book. But a routine business trip becomes murderous business–when Jessica discovers Marjorie stabbed to death in her own bedroom. 
Gossip about Marjorie's failing health and an unknown ghostwriter takes on more serious meaning now that everyone–including Jessica–is a suspect. Inspector George Sutherland of Scotland Yard is eager to help with the investigation for reasons that go a bit beyond the professional. And Jessica's sleuthing introduces her to a whole new side of London, populated with some very colorful–and sinister–characters. (Publisher's description)

Initial Thoughts:

Actually, my very first thought after reading that opening, was that I wasn't at all sure what a "paradiddle" was. I've heard the word before, but only had a vague notion of what it really meant until today when I Googled it and found this definition:
... one of the basic patterns (rudiments) of drumming, consisting of four even strokes played in the order left-right-left-left or right-left-right-right
Also found a bunch of YouTube videos of drummers showing how it's done. Amazing! Just shows, you're never too old to learn something new and interesting.

But I digress.

I loved the Murder, She Wrote TV show back in the '80s and '90s. I'm still watching the reruns just about every night on the Hallmark Movie channel. So I was definitely intrigued when I found out that someone had written a series of mystery novels based on the show, and I've been meaning to give them a try for years now. And for once, I decided to start out with the first novel in the series! (How unique is that?)

So far, Gin & Daggers has been very enjoyable and sounds very much like something the TV Jessica Fletcher might have gotten herself involved in. (Uh-oh! Jessica would never end a sentence with a preposition.) It's definitely lifting my spirits, and goodness knows they can use some lifting right about now. I might just read nothing but Jessica for the rest of this increasingly dismal year.

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.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Book Beginnings: And Be a Villain


And Be a Villain (Nero Wolfe #13), by Rex Stout. First published 1948. These are the book's first lines:
For the third time I went over the final additions and subtractions on the first page of Form 1040, to make good and sure. Then I swiveled my chair to face Nero Wolfe, who was seated behind his desk to the right of mine reading a book of poems by a guy named Van Doren, Mark Van Doren. So I thought I might as well use a poetry word. 
"It's bleak," I said.

About the Book:
Madeline Fraser, radio talk show host extraordinaire, had a natural dread of dead air. So when one of her on-air guests "signed off" at the mike after drinking a glass of a sponsor’s beverage, it was a broadcaster’s nightmare come true. Enter Nero Wolfe. He agrees to take the case, with his sizable fee contingent on his solving the murder. But to Wolfe’s surprise, everyone connected to the case now tells lies in unison about it. And as the portly detective soon discovers, the secret worth lying about only hides another worth killing for. (--GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts:

I've been looking for soothing reads lately, to take my mind off the current depressing situation, and what could be more soothing than a Nero Wolfe mystery? I read quite a few of these when I was much younger, but there are so many of them (Stout published 33 Nero Wolfe novels, and 41 novellas and short stories between 1934 and 1975), I've still got a huge selection to keep me occupied and calm.

This one begins, as so many do, with Nero Wolfe's assistant and legman Archie Goodwin lamenting how bad Wolfe's financial situation has become. Not to worry — the great man will come up with some high-profile, high-paying case to pursue very soon. Miscreants will be punished. And readers will be dazzled.

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.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Book Beginnings: A Fragment of Fear


A Fragment of Fear, by John Bingham (first published 1965). First paragraph of Chapter 1:
We live in a dangerous age, and this is not only because of the hydrogen bomb and high taxation.

About the Book:
"James Compton, a young journalist and crime writer, becomes intrigued by, and then involved in, the mysterious death of an older British woman tourist apparently on holiday near the ruins of Pompeii. On his return to England he becomes further implicated in what he now knows was a murder, but his efforts to help the police are sabotaged by unknown forces who discredit him to such an extent that his evidence and his theories are devalued. However, so determined is he to bring the criminals to justice that he endangers not only his own life but that of his fiancee Juliet on the very day of their long awaited wedding." (–GoodReads)
Initial Thoughts:

Well, my first thought was something about how very, very true that opening line is — especially with all the craziness we're living through at this moment in time. I guess every era has its dangers, but some just seem more frightening than others. And make you feel extremely helpless. But fortunately, this book has kept me nicely distracted from current events, at least for a while.

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.


Friday, March 20, 2020

Book Beginnings: The Five Red Herrings


The Five Red Herrings, by Dorothy L. Sayers (first published 1931). These are the book's opening lines:
If one lives in Galloway, one either fishes or paints. 'Either' is perhaps misleading, for most of the painters are fishers also in their spare time. To be neither of these things is considered odd and almost eccentric.

About the Book:
"The body was on the pointed rocks alongside the stream. The artist might have fallen from the cliff where he was painting, but there are too many suspicious elements — particularly the medical evidence that proves he'd been dead nearly half a day, though eyewitnesses had seen him alive a scant hour earlier. And then there are the six prime suspects — all of them artists, all of whom wished him dead. Five are red herrings, but one has created a masterpiece of murder that baffles everyone, including Lord Peter Wimsey."

Initial Thoughts:

The Five Red Herrings is one of the few Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries I've never read. It's been on my must-read list for decades now, and one of my 2020 reading challenges finally gave me the nudge I needed to get started on it.

I love Lord Peter, and he's up to his usual form in this one. But I'm having a really hard time getting through all the Scottish dialect in the book. It's definitely slowing me down. Will I be able to stick with it long enough to finish? Och! A dinnae ken.

Anyway....Happy reading, everyone!



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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

WWW Wednesdays: 26 February 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?

Almost done with The Illness Lesson, by Clare Beams....



Getting ready to start reading The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster, by Cary Fagan. It was an Early Reviewer book from Library Thing, and I really should have gotten it read by now. Too many books calling my name.


Also still reading Jane Eyre, a bit at a time. It's probably going to be a year-long effort, but I'm sticking with it.

2. What did you recently finish reading?

In the last couple of weeks, I've finished:

An ARC of Anita Abriel's The Light After the War....


Evidence of Love, a true-crime tale by John Bloom and Jim Atkinson, downloaded (free!) from Amazon....


And a couple of classic children's books that have been on my TBR list for quite a while -- Ramona and Her Father, by Beverly Cleary (read for the Newbery Reading Challenge)....


and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst....



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

Well, I have several ARCs lined up that I need to get to ASAP. These two are at the top of the pile....




Friday, February 21, 2020

Book Beginnings: The Illness Lesson

Cover art by Michelle Kingdom
Cover design by Emily Mahon

The Illness Lesson, by Clare Beams (Doubleday, February 2020). This is the book's first sentence:
The first of the birds Caroline mistook for her own mind's work.

About the Book:
At their newly founded school, Samuel Hood and his daughter Caroline promise a groundbreaking education for young women. But Caroline has grave misgivings. After all, her own unconventional education has left her unmarriageable and isolated, unsuited to the narrow roles afforded women in 19th century New England. 
When a mysterious flock of red birds descends on the town, Caroline alone seems to find them unsettling. But it's not long before the assembled students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms: rashes, seizures, headaches, verbal tics, night wanderings. One by one, they sicken. Fearing ruin for the school, Samuel overrules Caroline's pleas to inform the girls' parents and turns instead to a noted physician, a man whose sinister ministrations--based on a shocking historic treatment--horrify Caroline. As the men around her continue to dictate, disastrously, all terms of the girls' experience, Caroline's body too begins to betray her. To save herself and her young charges, she will have to defy every rule that has governed her life, her mind, her body, and her world.
Initial Thoughts:

I was interested in this book because I had heard that the plot echoed the story of Bronson Alcott and his attempts to establish a similar school in the 19th century. And the hints are definitely there, but this book is so much more than that. I'm about midway through it, and it's turning out to be (by far) the best debut novel I've read in quite a while. Clare Beams is a wonderful discovery! Hoping the second half doesn't let me down.

Happy Friday, everyone! And happy reading! 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.


Friday, February 14, 2020

Book Beginnings: The Circus


The Circus, by Jonas Karlsson (Hogarth Press, February 2020). This is the book's first sentence:
It all started with the usual discussion: is it possible to be friends with someone who listens to "Fix You" by Coldplay?
About the Book:
"The gentle, off-beat narrator of The Circus is perfectly content with his quiet life. By day he works in a bakery, and by night he obsessively organizes and reorganizes his record collection: it’s all just the way he likes it. But when his childhood friend Magnus comes calling out of the blue, the contours of our narrator’s familiar world begin to shift. On a visit to the circus together, Magnus volunteers to participate in the magician’s disappearing act, and midway through the routine he vanishes. Is this part of the act? What’s happened to Magnus? And who is it calling on the phone in the dead of night, breathing into the receiver, but never saying a word?.... The Circus is a funhouse mirror of a read—one that ingeniously reveals the way we see ourselves and the stories we tell. "
Initial Thoughts:

Well, first of all — I realize I have no idea what "Fix You" sounds like. I have no idea what Coldplay sound(s) like. I know it's a music group, but (as far as I know) I've never heard any of their music. I suppose that could have made a difference in my reaction to this book. So let me just nip over to YouTube and listen a bit.

OK — I'm back. I will probably never be a Coldplay fan. But I don't think I'd rule you out as a pal if you were a fan. That seems a little extreme.

But let's get back to the book at hand. The Circus is the third work I've read by the Swedish writer Jonas Karlsson. I loved the first two novels: The Room and The Invoice. This one was also enjoyable and clever, and definitely worth reading, but just didn't have the wow-factor of the others. Will try to get a short review up in a day or so.

Darn. Can't get that Coldplay tune out of my head now.

Happy Friday, everyone! And happy reading! 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.

Monday, February 03, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


So now it's February.

January was pretty busy around here, so even though it was a nice, long month, I'm a little surprised that it's already over. But even with all our activities, I managed to get a few books read.

Finished in January:


Also one that I'm finishing up today (but will list it as a January read):

Those were all fairly short reads, and very entertaining — especially that last one. I read Alice Thomas Ellis's The Other Side of the Fire several years ago and loved it, too. I'm a real fan of her writing, but her books weren't easy to find until just recently.

Will try to get some short reviews up later in the week.

So far, this month I've started:

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
(which will probably be a year-long project)

and...

The Light After the War, by Anita Abriel

The Light After the War is due to be issued this month, by Atria Books. I'm reading an advance edition from NetGalley and hope to finish it up before its publication date. So I need to get back to the books!

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.