Friday, April 23, 2021

Book Beginnings: The Postscript Murders

The Postscript Murders
by Elly Griffiths
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021


Opening Lines
Prologue

The two men have been standing there for eighteen minutes. Peggy has been timing them on her stopwatch.


About the Book
The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in the account of Peggy Smith's death given by the woman's carer, Natalka.
But then Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her. And that Peggy Smith had been a 'murder consultant' who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to. 
Then, after a masked gunman shows up in Peggy's apartment while Natalka is clearing it out, DS Harbinder Kaur begins to think maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

Initial Thoughts
 
I read The Stranger Diaries — the first book in Elly Griffith's Harbinder Kaur series — a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it, so I was very glad to find that she's written a second one. And so far, I'm enjoying this one even more. Lots of twists and turns, and some wonderfully quirky and appealing characters. Hoping to finish it up and maybe even get a review written (imagine that!) in the next day or two. 

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.


Monday, April 05, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Wow, it's been quite a while since I posted my last Monday reading update — sometime in January, I think. And that's mostly because I just haven't been doing much reading this year. Too many things going on and claiming my attention and taking up the time I'd ordinarily spend on reading. But I'm trying to change that and get back to the books now that I've got most of that other "stuff" attended to. I usually get quite a lot of reading done during the spring, so things might be looking up.

So far in 2021 I've only managed to finish eleven books. And several of those were children's books, which means I've been doing even less reading than it seems. 

Of all the books I've read this year, I think I enjoyed Christopher Fowler's Oranges and Lemons the most. 


It's the 17th book in Fowler's Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery series, but it was my introduction to the books. I'll definitely be reading more of the series in the future.

At the moment, I'm trying to finish two ARCs I should have read back in February or March: The Postscript Murders, by Elly Griffiths; and The Lost Village, by Camilla Sten. 




Looking forward to both of those, and they should keep me busy for a while. Now I'm off to see what ya'll are all reading this week. 

Happy reading, everyone! And have a great week!



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. 

  

Friday, March 12, 2021

Book Beginnings: A Guilty Thing Surprised


First published 1970


Opening Sentence
When Quentin Nightingale left home for London each morning his wife was always still asleep.


About the Book
The discovery of Elizabeth Nightingale's broken body in the woods near her home could not have come as a bigger shock. Called in to investigate, Chief Inspector Wexford quickly determines that the Nightingales were considered the perfect couple - wealthy, attractive and without an enemy in the world.
However, someone must have been alone with Elizabeth that night in the woods. Someone who hated - or perhaps loved - her enough to beat her to death.
The case seems straightforward. But Wexford soon learns that beneath the placid surface of the Nightingales' lives lie undercurrents and secrets no one ever suspected(Description from GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts
 
Well, for many years I would go off to work, leaving my husband either still asleep or just waking up. And I must admit, there were times when I thought I might actually feel perfectly justified in bonking him on the head as I was hurrying out the door. I got over it, but maybe Mrs. Nightingale's hubby just got pushed over the edge?

This is Ruth Rendell's 5th Inspector Wexford mystery, and it's the first one of the series I've read since sometime back in the 1990s, I believe. I read several of them back then, but finally stopped because Rendell's characters are always so completely awful. (With the exception of Wexford himself, of course.) Believable and well developed, but definitely NOT types you'd want to spend a lot of time with. However, I'm really enjoying this book, so maybe I'm finally ready to continue with the series.

Oh, and these days I'm never the first one out of bed.


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, February 11, 2021

Book Beginnings: Oranges and Lemons

by Christopher Fowler
Random House Ballantine / Bantam, 2021


Opening Lines

Chapter 1: Old White Males
‘Everything I tell you is a lie.’


About the Book
On a spring morning in London's Strand, the Speaker of the House of Commons is accidentally killed by a van unloading oranges and lemons for the annual St. Clement Danes festival. It's an absurd way to die, but the government is more interested in investigating the Speaker's state of mind just prior to his accident.
The task is given to the Peculiar Crimes Unit—the only problem being that the unit no longer exists. Its Chief, Raymond Land, is tending his daffodils on the Isle of Wight and senior detectives Arthur Bryant and John May are out of commission; May is undergoing surgery for a bullet wound and Bryant has been missing for a month. What's more, the old unit in King's Cross is being turned into a vegetarian tapas bar.
Against impossible odds, the team is reassembled and once again what should have been a simple case becomes a lunatic farrago involving arson, suicide, magicians, academics and a race to catch a killer with a master plan involving London churches. (Description from GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts
 
Yet again, I'm starting a long-running series without reading even one of the earlier books. Even though I've actually got a copy of the first book in the series. Dumb, right? But this one sounded so good, I just couldn't resist requesting it when I saw it at NetGalley. I was thrilled to get it. (I'm always thrilled whenever someone gives me a book!) I'm a little late in getting it read, but so far, I'm loving it. Can't wait to finish it so I can start reading the series from the very beginning. Don't you love when that happens?


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, February 03, 2021

Back to the Classics Challenge 2021

Click HERE for guidelines and sign-ups.

Dates: January 1 - December 31, 2021


The goal of this challenge is (pretty obviously): read classic literature. To qualify for the challenge, a book must have been published at least 50 years ago (so, no later than 1971). There are twelve categories for the challenge, and three different levels for reading (you can read books from six, nine, or all twelve categories). See the challenge announcement page for more info. 

I will probably go for the first level ("complete six categories"). I don't yet have a set list of books I might want to read, but I never managed to finish Jane Eyre last year, so I should probably lead off with that. I've started it several times over a period of about forty years! It would be nice to actually finish it at last. 

I'm very late signing up for this — the deadline for sign-ups is March 31. I actually thought I'd already signed up. Yeah, the brain is getting softer all the time. Anyway, during the year I'll be tracking my progress and keeping all my reading lists over on my challenge blog (HERE). 


Friday, January 29, 2021

Book Beginnings: Jerusalem Inn

by Martha Grimes
First published 1984


Opening Lines

A meeting in a graveyard. That was how it would always come back to him, and without any sense of irony at all — that a meeting in a graveyard did not foreshadow the permanence he was after.


About the Book
A white Christmas couldn't make Newcastle any less dreary for Scotland Yard's Superintendent Richard Jury—until he met a beautiful woman in a snow-covered graveyard. Sensual, warm, and a bit mysterious, she could have put some life into his sagging holiday spirit. But the next time Jury saw her, she was cold—and dead. 
Melrose Plant, Jury's aristocratic sidekick, wasn't faring much better. Snow-bound at a stately mansion with a group of artists, critics, and idle-but-titled rich, he, too, encountered a lovely lady . . . or rather, stumbled over her corpse. What linked these two yuletide murders was a remote country pub where snooker, a Nativity scene, and an old secret would uncover a killer . . . or yet another death. (Description from GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts
 
OK, anything that starts with a meeting in a graveyard is definitely gonna grab my interest. I've been wanting to read one of the Richard Jury mysteries for years now, and found this one when I was looking for a book to read for the Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge. It has a word starting with "J" in the title, so it's perfect for a January read. Actually though, it'll work for a number of the challenges I've got myself involved in this year. 

Once again, I've jumped into the middle of a long-running series, but so far I'm enjoying it and don't feel too lost. (Well, maybe just a little.) Hoping to finish it tonight.


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, January 15, 2021

Book Beginnings: Plain Bad Heroines

by Emily M. Danforth
William Morrow, October 2020


Opening Lines

Excerpt From
The Story of Mary MacLane
By Mary MacLane 

Though I am young and feminine — very feminine — I am not that quaint conceit, a girl: the sort of person that Laura E. Richards writes about, and Nora Perry, and Louisa M. Alcott, — girls with bright eyes, and with charming faces (they always have charming faces), standing with reluctant feet where the brook and river meet, — and all that sort of thing.


About the Book
1902, Brookhants School for Girls: students Flo and Clara are madly in love with each other, as well as completely obsessed with The Story of Mary MacLane, the scandalous debut memoir by 19 year old MacLane. A few months later they are found dead in the woods, after a horrific wasp attack, the book lying next to their intertwined bodies. Within five years the school is closed. But not before three more people die on the property, each in a troubling way.
Over a hundred years later, Brookhants opens its doors once more, when a crew of young actresses arrive to film a high-profile movie about the rumoured Brookhants curse. And as past and present become grimly entangled, it’s soon impossible to tell quite where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins. (Description from GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts
 
Actually, my first thought was that that opening passage isn't really pulling me in. Also, I had to Google Nora Perry to see if she was a real or made-up person. And she was real! She was "an American poet, newspaper correspondent, and writer of juvenile stories." Good to know.

This was an Early Reviewer win from LibraryThing, and (as usual) I'm very late in getting it read. Not sure exactly why I requested it — it's very much outside my normal comfort zones. Maybe that's why. But at just over 600 pages, it's also a book that's going to take me a looong time to finish. It's been quite a while since I took on such a chunkster. So I'll just have to see how long I can stick with the girls of Brookhants and their scandalous adventures.


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.

 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

2021 World War II Challenge

J. Howard Miller 1918-2004,
artwork details on wikimedia commons

Click here for guidelines and sign-ups

Host: Becky @ Becky's Book Reviews
Dates: January - December 2021

Goals: Read, Watch, Listen, Share WWII related stuff

 
This challenge sounds just too good to pass up, especially since it includes music from the WWII years, as well as movies made during or about that period. I already read a lot of historical fiction set during that era, and I love films from the 1940s. And as a Baby Boomer, I was born not too long after the war, so this one sounds great to me. 

I have a huge batch of books that would be perfect for this challenge, and dozens of movies in mind that I can watch. I won't list them here, but during the year I'll be keeping all my lists and tracking my progress over on my challenge blog (HERE). 

........

Saturday, January 09, 2021

2021 What's in a Name Challenge

Click here for guidelines and sign-ups

Host: Andrea @ Carolina Book Nook
Dates: 1 January - 31 December 2021

Here's another reading challenge I'm signing up for. I signed up for the 2020 What's in a Name Challenge, and did manage to read a few books. But since I never got any reviews posted, I feel like I sort of wiped out. So I'm going to try to do a better job with the 2021 challenge. 

As usual, there are six categories and the goal is to read one book for each category. These are this year's categories:

  1. One/1 (examples: One Second After; The 100)
  2. Doubled word (ex: In a Dark, Dark Wood; Wolf by Wolf)
  3. Reference to outer space (ex: The Fault in Our Stars)
  4. Possessive noun (ex: The Zookeeper’s Wife)
  5. Botanical word (ex: The Language of Flowers; The Sandalwood Tree) 
  6. Article of clothing (ex: Bossypants)

During the year I'll be tracking my progress and keeping all my lists over on my challenge blog (HERE).


Friday, January 08, 2021

Books in Translation Reading Challenge 2021

OK, I've decided to sign up for a few more reading challenges. (Somebody please stop me now!) I really shouldn't be looking for challenges when I haven't even finished one book during this first week of the new year. I think all the enforced hibernation must have addled my brain. Or maybe it's just the opportunity to make a few more lists of possible books to read — one of my favorite activities. 

Anyway, this one should be fun....

Click here for guidelines and sign-ups

Host:
Jen @ Introverted Reader
Dates:
1 January - 31 December 2021


Jen at Introverted Reader is hosting her Books in Translation Reading Challenge again in 2021, and it's a very attractive challenge if (like me) you don't like a lot of complicated rules. The main goal is just "...read a book that’s been translated from any language into the language of your choosing." 

I figure I should be able to read at least one or two translations this year, so I'm signing up at the "Beginner" level (1-3 books), and (as usual) I'll be hoping to do a little better than that. I don't have a set list of books I'm thinking about reading, so I'll just see what develops. During the year I'll be tracking my progress over on my challenge blog (HERE).


Monday, January 04, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


First Monday of the New Year! And already the 4th day of January. Time, as someone once said, flies. 

Haven't finished any books so far, but I've started several — trying to find just the right book for my first read of the year. And I've settled (for now, anyway) on this:

 

Jerusalem Inn, by Martha Grimes (1984)

It's part of the Richard Jury series of mystery novels, and even though it's the 5th book in the series, it will be the first one I've read. I keep telling myself I should try to avoid jumping into a series without reading the opener. But I already have a copy of this one on the Kindle, and I'm trying to read more of those this year. So....

This will fill a lot of slots in the various reading challenges I've signed up for and I've wanted to read this series for decades now. Not sure why I've waited so long to start it. 

I've also got several ARCs I should try to read very soon — books to be published in February and March. I'm especially looking forward to this one:

The Postscript Murders, by Elly Griffiths
(Harbinder Kaur series, #2)


Happy reading, everyone! And have a great week!



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. 

 

 

Friday, January 01, 2021

Books Read in 2021

Cumulative Reading List


Here's where I'll be tracking my reading in 2021.

For the last couple of years I've had 40 books as my goal, and in 2020 I actually did a little better than that — managed to read 46 books. I'd love to do that well again in 2021, but I'll keep 40 books as my official goal, just to stay realistic.


JANUARY

1. Nemesis (Miss Marple #11). Agatha Christie (1971; fiction / mystery; 282 pages)
2. 1066 And All That: A Memorable History of England. W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, illus. by John Reynolds (1930; humor; 115 pages) 
3. Jerusalem Inn (Richard Jury #5). Martha Grimes (1984; fiction; 300 pages)
4. Suspicious Death (Inspector Thanet #8). Dorothy Simpson (1988; fiction / mystery; 256 pages) 

FEBRUARY

5. Bryant & May: Oranges and Lemons (Peculiar Crimes Unit #17). Christopher Fowler (2021; fiction / mystery; about 400 pages, ARC)

MARCH

6. The Clue of the Tapping Heels (Nancy Drew #16). Carolyn Keene (1939; fiction / mystery; abt 200 pages) 
7. Planting a Rainbow. Lois Ehler (1988; children's picture book; 32 pages)
8. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. William Steig (1969; children's literature / fantasy; 32 pages)
9. Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1). Mary Pope Osborne; illus. by Sal Murdocca (1992; children's literature / sci-fi fantasy; 68 pages)
10. A Guilty Thing Surprised (Inspector Wexford #5). Ruth Rendell (1970; fiction / mystery; 209 pages)
11. Faithful Unto Death (Chief Inspector Barnaby #5). Caroline Graham (1996; fiction / mystery; 387 pages)

APRIL

12. My San Antonio Childhood: A Memoir. Michael L. Hall (2021; nonfiction / memoir; 196 pages) 
13. The Clue in the Crumbling Wall (Nancy Drew #22). Carolyn Keene (1945 (original text); fiction / mystery; 217 pages) 
14. The Postscript Murders (Harbinder Kaur #2). Elly Griffiths (2021; fiction / mystery; 335 pages, ARC)
15.  An Extravagant Death (Charles Lenox #14). Charles Finch (2021; fiction / mystery; 304 pages, ARC) 
16. The Dark Side of Alice in Wonderland. Angela Youngman (2021; nonfiction / literary history; 193 pages)

MAY

17. A Body at the Tea Rooms (Kate Palmer #3). Dee MacDonald (2021; fiction / cozy mystery; ARC; reading now)
18. The Lost Village. Camilla Sten (2019/2021; fiction / horror; 336 pages, ARC; reading now)  
19. Life in Miniature: A History of Dolls' Houses. Nicola Lisle (2020; nonfiction / history; 190 pages, ARC; reading now) 

JUNE

.......

JULY

.......

AUGUST

.......

SEPTEMBER

.......

OCTOBER

.......

NOVEMBER 

.......

DECEMBER

.......

📚📚📚📚📚