Author: Roberta (page 1 of 34)

#BookBeginnings A Yummy Memoir: Save Me the Plums

Today I used my birthday month discount at Changing Hands Bookstore to snag a signed copy of Ruth Reichl’s delicious memoir Save Me the Plums for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

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Save Me the Plums* by by Ruth Reichl

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Ruth Reichl had started reading Gourmet magazine at eight years old, so when the management called many years later (1998) to offer her the position of editor in chief, of course she turned it down. But like re-connecting with a childhood sweetheart, once she accepted the magazine job, it transformed her life.

First Sentence:

I was eight years old when I first found the magazine, sitting on the dusty floor of a used-book store. My father was a book designer who enjoyed the company of ancient volumes and he often took me on book-hunting expeditions around New York, leaving me with a pile of vintage magazines while he went off to prowl among the dark and crowded shelves.

Discussion:

Who wants to go to New York and visit this bookstore right now? What a fun upbringing for a writer/editor!

This is a yummy memoir. I started devouring it this afternoon and couldn’t stop. The sensory descriptions of food are incredible. Plus Reichl knows how to capture the reader as only a master storyteller can.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Do you like to read memoirs?

#BookBeginnings Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky

Let’s take a look at Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky for Book Beginnings on Fridays. It has been way too long since I’ve joined in.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-Gershkowitz

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  In the latest in the Jackson Brodie mystery series, Jackson has moved to a seaside village and is working as a private investigator. He juggles dealing with his rebellious teenage son while investigating an unfaithful husband. Before long he is juggling much more as he tries to untangle a complicated web of interwoven cases.

First Sentence:

“So, what now?” he asked.

“A quick getaway,” she said, shucking off the fancy shoes into the passenger footwell. “They were killing me,” she said and gave him a rueful smile because they’d cost a fortune. He knew — he’d paid for them. She had already removed her bridal veil and tossed it onto the back seat, along with her bouquet, and bow she began to struggle with the thicket of grips in her hair.

Discussion:

This is such an intriguing way to start a book. Later in the page we learn she is pregnant, but before the end of the page the man says, “It’s not what it looks like.”

What do you think? Would you read on?

Are you a fan of the Jackson Brodie series?

 

 

Kate-Atkinson-Big-Sky

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Must-Buy Authors

The topic for Top Ten Tuesday this week — hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl blog — is Auto-Buy Authors.

Auto-buy authors are the ones that you absolutely must buy a copy whenever they publish a new book. It’s a given.

1. When author J. Todd Scott publishes a new book, not only am I willing to  buy it, but I’m willing to pay full price at a bookstore  so I can have it signed.

This Side of Night

2. I share Michael Connelly’s novels with my stepfather, so I always purchase a copy.

The Late Show*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

3. I have spent a pretty penny on Louise Penny’s novels over the years.

A Better Man (2019) – coming in August


4. I’m a sucker for Sujata Massey’s mysteries. Love the settings.

The Pearl Diver* by Sujata Massey


(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

5. J. T. Ellison’s twisty action-packed novels are a blast to read.

Tear Me Apart

No Longer Auto-Buy:

6. J.K. Rowling used to be an auto-buy author for me, but her last one written as Robert Galbraith (Lethal White, link to review) had some huge flaws, so I’ll wait for reviews before buying from now on.

Lethal White* by Robert Galbraith

(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

 

I wish some of these authors were still available:

7. The Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorthy Gilman is unbeatable.

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax*by Dorothy Gilman

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

8. Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series stands out.

9. Agatha Christie was the grande dame of mysteries.

10.  P.D. James novels took you on a journey, sometimes fast, but usually leisurely.

This was another fun prompt.

Do you have any authors you enjoy so much that you auto-buy their books?

Reviews: Two More Ruth Galloway Mysteries

Over the recent holiday I read the second and third Ruth Galloway Mysteries by Elly Griffiths. See the author post for more information about the series.

Number 2. The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

In The Janus Stone, construction workers uncover the bones of a child buried under the foundation of a structure. Ruth Galloway investigates and figures out the death is decades old, not centuries old. She and Detective Nelson search for the previous owners of the house and the child’s identity.

Number 3. The House at Sea’s End by Elly Griffiths

When workers recording beach erosion uncover a mass grave, it is Ruth Galloway’s job to figure out how six men ended up bound, shot and buried there.

Quick Notes with Spoilers:

Both books feature the things that attracted me to the first novel, the compelling characters, the Norfolk setting, and the use of the present tense to give the action an immediate feel.

Although I enjoyed the second novel, there was some repetition of plot from the first.

By the third novel, however, the plot became a clone of the previous one, even though the victims were very different and the main character’s circumstances had changed drastically. In the climax scene, Ruth Galloway trudged  off to get captured by the villain on a boat, exactly like what happened in the second novel.  Once again Detective Nelson throws himself into the water to rescue her, but instead endangers himself, again the same scenario as the second novel.

I was particularly disappointed when Ruth Galloway chose to go off to meet the villain, when she had a compelling reason to go home to be with her child. The boat wasn’t that exciting a find, and to leave her child after her friend had just chided her for being an inattentive mother seemed weak and self-centered.

Personally, I thought the plot would have been stronger and more believable if Detective Nelson put himself in danger and Ruth figured out she needed to go save him.  That would have been a credible reason for Ruth to leave her child. According to the blurb for the next novel, Detective Nelson becomes ill and is in danger. So, perhaps I am being prescient?

 

 

Ruth Galloway Mystery

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Childhood Favorites

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday at That Artsy Reader Girl blog.

The topic this week is top ten childhood favorites. (Linked covers from Amazon, where I’m an affiliate).

1. Both my sister and I loved, loved, loved The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.


It was the first book I remember reading where the author spoke directly to the reader. I have never re-read it because I’m afraid to change the wonderful memories I have of it.

2. Mother Goose Rhymes

Probably the earliest book I can remember. Our copy became very tattered from use over the years.

3. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss


I remember first reading this one at my cousin’s house. We all giggled.

4. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

A teacher read this to my class, which wasn’t fair because some of us cried in front of our classmates.

5. Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene

I’m showing my age, I’m afraid. These definitely shaped my early interest in reading mysteries, along with Agatha Christie.

6. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell


Sometimes a book stands out not because it is wonderful, but because the content is disturbing and it requires further processing.  Black Beauty is definitely one of those.

It’s amazing that so many of these older favorites are still available.

7. Disclaimer:  I was a precocious and voracious reader, so some of the ones that stand out in my memory probably aren’t traditional young children’s books, like my grandfather’s Zane Grey books.

I distinctly remember the descriptions of the western landscape. I felt like I was riding right along with the main character. Looking back now, I’m not sure how much else I got out of them.

8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Spoiler: Clearest memory from the book is the girl who turned into a giant blueberry.

9.  My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

I’m not sure how well this one stands the test of time, but I remember it being thrilling when I read it as a child.

10. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

 

Author Post: Elly Griffiths

British novelist Domenica de Rosa writes awesome mysteries under the pseudonym Elly Griffiths.

The first series features forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway who lives in Norfolk, a county north and east of London.

Ruth Galloway Series:

  • The Crossing Places (2009) -see review below
  • The Janus Stone (2010) –quick review
  • The House at Sea’s End (2011) – quick review
  • A Room Full of Bones (2012)
  • Ruth’s First Christmas Tree (2012)
  • A Dying Fall (2013)
  • The Outcast Dead (2014)
  • The Ghost Fields (2015)
  • The Woman in Blue (2016)
  • The Chalk Pit (2017)
  • The Dark Angel (2018)
  • The Stone Circle (2019)

DI Stephens & Max Mephisto series

  • The Zig-Zag Girl (2014)
  • Smoke and Mirrors (2015)
  • The Blood Card (2016)
  • The Vanishing Box (2017)

Standalone Novels by Domenica de Rosa

  • The Italian Quarter (2004)
  • The Eternal City (2005)
  • Villa Serena (2007)
  • Summer School (2008)
  • A Girl Called Justice (2019)

 

The Crossing Places (first in the Ruth Galloway Mysteries series) by Elly Griffiths

When Ruth Galloway is called in to age some bones unearthed in a marsh, she quickly establishes that the Iron Age remains aren’t related to a decade-old case of a missing child. The detective who contacted her realizes Ruth’s expertise might shed light on some mysterious letters related to the disappearance. Soon Ruth is caught up in trying to find the lost girl as well.

This novel grabbed me in a way that I haven’t experienced in some time.

What I loved:

  • The main character is older, overweight, and lives with two cats. She seems grounded and real.
  • The novel is written in the present tense, making it feel immediate.
  • The pacing is fast. It fits in the mystery category because we don’t know who did what, but the fast pace makes it seem more like a thriller. It doesn’t wander.
  • Griffiths has a deft touch with foreshadowing.
  • The relationship between Ruth and the detective, Harry Nelson, makes a compelling character arc that pulls the reader into the next book without resorting to cliffhangers or unsatisfactory endings. It is perfect.

I hope the library has the next one on the shelf.

 

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About Author Posts:

Ever been at the library or in a store and wondered if you need a certain title or if you’ve read it?  Having a list like this makes it easy to check on your phone.

#BookBeginnings The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

Today I’m reading The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-Gershkowitz

The Crossing Places (first in the Ruth Galloway Mysteries series) by Elly Griffiths

When forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is called in to age some bones unearthed in a marsh, she quickly establishes that the Iron Age remains aren’t related to a decade-old case of a missing child. The detective who contacted her realizes Ruth’s expertise might shed light on some mysterious letters related to the disappearance. After discovering clues in the letters, soon Ruth is caught up in trying to find the lost girl as well.

 

First Sentence:

Waking is like rising from the dead.

Discussion:

I would like to thank Magaret at BooksPlease who recently featured the Ruth Galloway series on her blog because it is a gem. I haven’t been this excited about a novel/series in a long time.

This novel is written in the present tense, which can be hard to pull off but she makes it work.

What do you think? Have you started a series lately you’ve been really excited about?

Do you like novels written in the present tense?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer 2019 TBR

For the first time I’m joining the meme Top Ten Tuesday at That Artsy Reader Girl blog.

The topic for the week is Top Ten Books on my summer 2019 TBR.

(Note:  I get my cover links from Amazon, where I’m an affiliate.)

 

1. The Power by Naomi Alderman

My cousin read this recently and recommended it.

2. The Overstory by Richard Powers

Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize, my sister-in-law read this and raved about it afterwards.

3. The Crossing Places (first in the Ruth Galloway Mysteries series) by Elly Griffiths

Because I’m a mystery fan, I’d better add some mysteries to the list. I’ve run across this author while visiting Book Beginnings on Friday posts, and now is the time to take a look.

4. Coming in August; A Better Man by Louise Penny

Just can’t wait!

5. Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl

Entices the part-time foodie in me.

6. Among The Shadows: A Detective Byron Mystery (A John Byron Novel) by Bruce Robert Coffin

7. The Reluctant Detective: A C.T. Ferguson Private Investigator Mystery by Tom Fowler


The title and premise sound intriguing. Some of the later books in the series, like Daughters and Sons, have gotten great reviews.

8. The Satapur Moonstone (A Perveen Mistry Novel) by Sujata Massey

Loved some of her earlier novels, especially the fact that she sets them in less-traveled places.

9. A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley Mysteries, No. 1) by Elizabeth George

10. Into the Darkest Corner: A Novel by Elizabeth Haynes

I’m a sucker for debut novels.

So, that is my list. It took longer to put together than I had hoped, but now I’m organized… for five minutes.

What are you reading this summer?

Author Post: Louise Penny

Louise Penny is a popular mystery novelist. She has a deft hand with plotting, pace, and character development, plus her setting — The village of Three Pines in Canada — shines.

Penny based her main character Inspector Armand Gamache (of the Sûreté du Québec) on her husband, Michael. Unlike detectives in many mysteries , Gamache is a well-rounded family man who is also good at his job.

People ask if the series should be read in order. My recommendation is that if you are going to read them all, then in order is preferable because they do build on one another. On the other hand, I skipped to the most recent one and was still able to enjoy it without reading all that came before.

Inspector Gamache Books in order:

Still Life (2005)

A Fatal Grace (2007)

The Cruelest Month (2008)

A Rule Against Murder (2009)

The Brutal Telling (2009)

Bury Your Dead (2010)

The Hangman (2010)

A Trick of the Light (2011)

The Beautiful Mystery (2012)

How the Light Gets In (2013)

The Long Way Home (2014)

The Nature of the Beast (2015)

A Great Reckoning (2016)

Glass Houses (2017)

Kingdom of the Blind (2018) –reviewed here

A Better Man (2019) – coming in August


 

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About Author Posts:

Because I read a lot of mysteries, I’ve been trying to come up with a better system to keep track of which novels I’ve finished. I thought blogging would help, which it does, but I don’t always review everything I read. To get more organized, I’ve decided to create a series of author posts with lists of novels and links to my reviews. I plan to edit these pages as needed.

Author Post: Tana French

I have a strong love/hate relationship with Tana French’s novels. I love her writing, especially her pitch perfect dialogue and feel-like-you-are-right-there settings. On the other hand I hate her characters, who are often unreliable narrators sinking down on some sort of negative character arc. They are slippery and slimy, and leave me feeling dissatisfied.

Although the Dublin Murder Squad books are loosely called a series, the main characters change from book to book.

Dublin Murder Squad Books

In the Woods (2007) reviewed for The Bestseller Code challenge

The Likeness (2008) -see below

Faithful Place (2010)

Broken Harbour (2011)

The Secret Place (2014) – on shelf

The Trespasser (2016)

Stand Alone Novels

The Witch Elm (2018) -see below

In The Woods* by Tana French

 


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

The Likeness (spoilers)

The premise completely spoiled this one for me. It was so unrealistic that I couldn’t suspend my disbelief. Plus the undercover detective trapped in a house with a potential killer was more claustrophobic than chilling.

Yes, I disliked the book, but I keep picking up and reading more by this author.

The Witch Elm (spoilers)

Saw it on the shelf at the library and couldn’t leave it there. The main character, Toby Hennessy, proves that he’ll go along with shady dealings early in the book. After he sustains a severe beating and loses parts of his memory (another unreliable narrator!), he’s not at all sure what criminal acts he might have done in the past. Let’s just say his behavior slides downhill from there. Plus he loses his wonderful girlfriend, the only bright spot in the whole book.

On the other hand, the writing is superb. Stephen King describes French’s writing as “smooth, almost satiny prose.” Like ice cream, it is beyond delicious and addictive.

Which is why I picked up The Secret Place for my TBR pile this week. I just can’t help myself.

 

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About Author Posts:

Because I read a lot of mysteries, I’ve been trying to come up with a better system to keep track of which novels I’ve finished. I thought blogging would help, which it does, but I don’t always review everything I read. To get more organized, I’ve decided to create a series of author posts with lists of novels and links to my reviews. I plan to edit these pages as needed.

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