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

Jen @ Introverted Reader
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 " 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.


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) 


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


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)


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)


17. A Body at the Tea Rooms (Kate Palmer #3). Dee MacDonald (2021; fiction / cozy mystery; 246 pages, ARC)
18. Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. Dr. Seuss; illus. by author (1958; children's literature; 80 pages)
19. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Dr. Seuss; illus. by author (1938; children's literature; 56 pages)
20. A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers. Nancy Willard; illus. by Alice & Martin Provensen (1981; children's literature; 48 pages)
21. The Lost Village. Camilla Sten (2019/2021; fiction / horror; 336 pages, ARC) 
22. Life in Miniature: A History of Dolls' Houses. Nicola Lisle (2020; nonfiction / history; 190 pages, ARC) 


23. Dead Dead Girls. Nekesa Afia (2021; fiction; 320 pages, ARC) 
24. In the Night Kitchen. Maurice Sendak; illus. by author (1970; children's literature; 40 pages)
25. Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot #17). Agatha Christie (1929; fiction / mystery; 320 pages)
26. Castle Shade (Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes #17). Laurie R. King (2021; fiction / mystery; 384 pages, ARC) 
27. Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond (Murder, She Wrote #53). "Jessica Fletcher" and Terrie Farley Moran (2021; fiction / mystery; 288 pages, ARC) 
28. Smilla's Sense of Snow. Peter HΓΈeg (1992; fiction / mystery; 482 pages)


29. Franklin Endicott and the Third Key (Tales from Deckawoo Drive #6). Kate DiCamillo; illus. by Chris Van Dusen (2021; children's literature / middle grade; 112 pages)
30. The Religious Body (Inspector Sloan #1). Catherine Aird (1966; fiction / mystery; 158 pages)
31. Summer. Edith Wharton (1917; fiction; 143 pages)
32. Outside Over There. Maurice Sendak; illus. by author (1981; children's literature; 40 pages)
33. The Funny Little Woman. Retold by Arlene Mosel; illus. by Blair Lent (1972; children's literature; 40 pages) 
34. The Hollywood Spy (Maggie Hope #10). Susan Elia MacNeal (2021; fiction / mystery; 368 pages)


35. Wolf Lake (Dave Gurney #5). John Verdon (2016; fiction / mystery / thriller; 386 pages) 
36. Jumanji. Chris Van Allsburg; illus. by author (1981; children's literature; 32 pages) 
37. The Victim in Victoria Station (Dorothy Martin #5). Jeanne M. Dams (1999; fiction / mystery; 178 pages)  


38. The Return of the Pharaoh: From the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D. (Holmes Pastiche #5). Nicholas Meyer (2021; fiction / mystery / adventure; 272 pages) 
39. Palm Springs Noir (Akashic Noir Series). Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, ed. (2021; fiction / mystery / short stories; 304 pages, reading now)
40. Five Little Pigs (Hercule Poirot #25). Agatha Christie (1942; fiction / mystery; 288 pages) 
41. Tom Swift and the Visitor from Planet X (Tom Swift Jr #17). Victor Appleton II (1961; fiction / sci-fi / young adult; audiobook, about 150 pages) 
42. The Giving Tree. Shel Silverstein; illus. by author (1964; children's literature; 64 pages)
43. John Prine Beyond Words. John Prine (2017; nonfiction / biography / music / photos; 179 pages)


44. Our Lady of Darkness. Fritz Leiber (1977; fiction / horror-fantasy; 221 pages)
45. Oh William! Elizabeth Strout (2021; fiction; 256 pages) 
46. The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories. Algernon Blackwood (1906; fiction / horror / short stories; 166 pages)


47. Bloodless (Pendergast #20). Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (2021; mystery / thriller; 368 pages)
48. Zathura. Chris Van Allsburg; illus. by author (2002; children's literature / sci-fi fantasy; 32 pages) 
49. Plot It Yourself (Nero Wolfe #32). Rex Stout (1959; fiction; 208 pages) 


50. Queen of the Falls. Chris Van Allsburg; illus. by author (2011; children's literature / nonfiction: history; 38 pages)
51. Capote's Women. Laurence Leamer (2021; nonfiction / biography; 368 pages)
52. The Golden Spiders (Nero Wolfe #22). Rex Stout (1953; fiction / mystery; 22 pages)