Author: Roberta (page 1 of 26)

#BookBeginnings A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Today we’re looking forward to starting the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challengeA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan 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-button-hurwitz

A Visit from the Goon Squad* by Jennifer Egan

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Written like a collection of loosely-knit short stories, the novel centers on a two characters, a recording executive named Bennie and his employee, Sasha. The stories move through different times and settings.

First Sentence:

It began the usual way, in the bathroom of the Lassimo Hotel. Sasha was adjusting her yellow eye shadow in the mirror when she noticed a bag on the floor beside the sink that must have belonged to the woman whose peeing she could faintly hear through the vaultlike door of a toilet stall. Inside the rim of the bag, barely visible, was a wallet made of pale green leather.

Discussion:

Do you think she’s going to take the wallet or not?

While in a therapy session, Sasha reveals that not taking the wallet is a bigger challenge than stealing it.  Showing her unusual response to what is essentially an everyday occurrence gives the reader a deep insight into her character right at the start.

I can see why Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for this novel.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Or have you already read A Visit from the Goon Squad?

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Review of American Wife

Let’s take a look at American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld from a writer’s perspective.

This post may contain spoilers.

 

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: When quiet school librarian Alice Lindgren meets Charlie Blackwell, the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family, she doesn’t think they have much in common. That doesn’t prevent her, however, from falling in love and marrying him. Before she knows it, he’s governor of their state and then president. As first lady, she must decide how to cope with the challenge of loving her husband, but disagreeing with many of his beliefs and actions.

According to a preface in the book,

“American Wife is a work of fiction loosely inspired by the life of an American first lady. Her husband, his parents, and certain prominent members of his administration are recognizable.

Although not identified by name, the author admits her main character is modeled after Former First Lady Laura Bush.

The Cover

I don’t usually comment on the cover, but this one is striking. It shows a woman wearing a beautiful full length wedding dress. Laura Bush didn’t wear anything like it when she got married, however, and it also isn’t what Sittenfeld writes that ever practical Alice wore. Pretty dress, but doesn’t truly reflect the story inside.

The Writing

Because my perspective as a writer, I tend to dissect books as I read them and it takes me out of the story. For example, for our last book I noticed right away that E. L. James described her main character looking in a mirror, which is not considered to be best writing practice. For American Wife, however, the writing disappeared into the background and I became fully engrossed. It is high praise when the reader doesn’t notice the writing and it becomes simply a vessel for the storytelling.

The few times I did notice the writing was when the word choice — slang in dialogue — seemed too modern for the earlier time. But that was only a word or two.

How did Curtis Sittenfeld achieve such seamless writing? First of all, by choosing the first person voice.  The first person draws the reader in by allowing full access to the main character’s thoughts and feelings. It worked well.

Sittenfeld also has a gift for storytelling. She frames the work with a scene in the White House where Alice reflects our her life with her husband, the president. From there, she crafts the story in chronological order as events in Alice’s life unfold. Although it has been labeled as a bildungsroman (coming of age story or about growing from youth to adult), it is the inherent conflict between a serious, quiet wife and a jovial, extroverted husband is central to moving the plot forward.

Some people were shocked that the author included explicit sex scenes, as well as a less-than-flattering bathroom scene. At first it did seem out of character when portraying someone who exhibits such decorum in public. But, the author’s goal was to make Alice seem realistic — like a living, breathing woman– and real women do have sex and have embarrassing moments in bathrooms.

Public domain image of Wisconsin

Setting

Although Sittenfeld uses many details from Laura Bush’s life in American Wife, she chose to deviate with the setting. Instead of living in Texas, the whole fictional clan is from Wisconsin. Why did she choose Wisconsin? The author grew up in Ohio and was living in St. Louis at about the time she wrote this, so we shouldn’t be surprised she picked a state in the Midwest.

Discussion

One of the problems with fictionalizing a real person is that readers will wonder where the nonfiction ends and the fiction begins. For example, it is true that Laura Bush was involved in a car crash that killed a classmate when she was seventeen. Some of the details were fictionalized, however, such as having Alice drive alone whereas Laura had a passenger in the car.   She also changed some prominent, verifiable details, like Charlie Blackwell’s father never becomes president like George Bush did. It was distracting at times to have to stop reading and do an internet search to verify or disprove story details, but I did learn quite a bit.

Sittenfeld isn’t the first author to fictionalize people who have occupied the White House. Another book on our challenge list, Primary Colors, is a thinly-veiled look at Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign. In fact, just in the last few months there has been a thriller by a former president,The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson, and a mystery series featuring Former President Barack Obama and Former Vice President Joe Biden, Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer.

Why this novel is special, however, is that it is an in depth look at the complexities of relationships, how marriages can survive and thrive between two people from vastly different backgrounds and opposite personalities under the pressure of being prominent public figures. Given that The Bestseller Code predicts novels about human relationships should do well, this fits the model perfectly.

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 55. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (2010) – Discussion begins July 23, 2018
Won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011

#BestsellerCode100: Number 56 American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listAmerican Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: When quiet school librarian Alice Lindgren meets Charlie Blackwell, the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family, she doesn’t think they have much in common. That doesn’t prevent her, however, from falling in love and marrying him. Before she knows it, he’s governor of their state and then president. As first lady, she must decide how to cope with the challenge of loving her husband, but disagreeing with many of his beliefs and actions.

According to a preface in the book,

“American Wife is a work of fiction loosely inspired by the life of an American first lady. Her husband, his parents, and certain prominent members of his administration are recognizable.

Although not identified by name, the protagonist is apparently modeled after Former First Lady Laura Bush, who was recently in the news.

 

Have you read American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 55. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (2010) – Discussion begins July 23, 2018
Won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011

#amreading Hugo Marston Mystery Series by Mark Pryor

Today we have the mystery series featuring Hugo Marston by author Mark Pryor. You can see all the books in order at the author’s website.

With the exception of The Button Man, which is a prequel to The Bookseller, these novels are set in Paris. They feature former FBI profiler Hugo Marston who provides security for US embassies.

The first in the series is The Bookseller.

The Bookseller: The First Hugo Marston Novel* (2012)

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  When someone kidnaps  elderly bookstall owner Max, his friend Hugo Marston can’t do anything to stop it.  As head of security at the US embassy, Marston launches a search with the help of semiretired CIA agent Tom Green.

The Crypt Thief: A Hugo Marston Novel* (2013)

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Two tourists have been murdered in Père Lachaise cemetery in front of Jim Morrison’s grave. In a confusing twist, the killer also stole parts of the skeleton of a dancer from another era.  When another dancer’s grave is broken into, Hugo Marston begins to wonder about the killer’s real motive.

I really like one line on page 11

He stepped out of the shadows and walked toward them, his gun parting the darkness in front of him.

The gun parting the darkness is such a great visual.

The newest by Mark Pryor:

The Sorbonne Affair: A Hugo Marston Novel* (2017)

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Hugo Marston dismisses American author Helen Hancock’s idea she’s being watched until she discovers a spy camera hidden in her room at the Sorbonne Hotel. When an hotel employee who planted the camera and one of Helen’s students are both killed, the pressure is on to find the killer before it is too late.

Positives:

Author Mark Pryor has a fascinating background. He started out as a newspaper reporter in England (among other things), but now works as an assistant district attorney in Austin, Texas. How did that happen? Plus, he has all these novels. Someone should be writing about him.

As a sucker for setting, I enjoy that the books are set in Paris, as well as London and Barcelona.

I also enjoy that books, librarians, and authors often figure prominently, from the bookseller in his first novel, to an American author in his most recent.

Negatives:

With all they have going for them, I have to admit I had a bit of difficulty getting drawn into the books. There was never a deep emotional connection. The story never went to the next level, pulling the reader along, which is too bad because the potential is there.

Overall:

Enjoyable to discover new things about the history of the areas he writes about.

#BookBeginnings American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Today we’re starting the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challengeAmerican Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld 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-button-hurwitz

American Wife* by Curtis Sittenfeld

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  When quiet school librarian Alice Lindgren meets Charlie Blackwell, the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family, she doesn’t think they have much in common. That doesn’t prevent her, however, from falling in love and marrying him.  Before she knows it, he’s governor of their state and then president. As first lady, she must decide how to cope with the challenge of loving her husband, but disagreeing with many of his beliefs and actions.

According to a preface in the book,

“American Wife is a work of fiction loosely inspired by the life of an American first lady. Her husband, his parents, and certain prominent members of his administration are recognizable.

Although not identified by name, the protagonist is apparently modeled after Former First Lady Laura Bush, who was recently in the news.

First Sentence of Prologue,  American Wife :

June 2007, the White House

Have I made terrible mistakes?

The paragraph that follows goes on to tell the reader how Alice deals with her husband’s snoring. She admits she has difficulty sleeping for other reasons, too.

First Sentence, Chapter One

In 1954, the summer before I entered third grade, my grandmother mistook Andrew Imhof for a girl.

This sentence is intriguing. It makes me wonder what this has to do with Alice’s future.

What do you think? Have you read American Wife? Would you like to read it?

#BestsellerCode100: A Writer’s Review of Fifty Shades of Grey

Let’s take a look at the next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listFifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James, from a writer’s perspective.

This post does contain spoilers.

Warning:  This is an Erotic Romance, for mature audiences only.

Fifty Shades of Grey* by E. L. James

 


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  When Anastasia Steele fills in for her friend and interviews wealthy young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she is both intimidated by and attracted to his looks and spirit. Starting an affair with him, she discovers some dark secrets that she isn’t sure how to handle.

This novel is the first of a trilogy. The other novels in the trilogy are Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

Romance Genre and Tropes

What is expected in a romance novel? GoodReads has extensive, useful descriptions of the different types of genre fiction. For example, romance novels have a love story as the central focus, and readers expect an ending with an upbeat, satisfying resolution. In the subgenre erotic romance, the basic romance is augmented with graphic descriptions of sex.

Fifty Shades of Grey is considered to be an erotic romance because there are many scenes of graphic sex (although E. L. James calls it “provocative romance”). This particular novel departs from the romance standard because it ends on a downcast note rather than an optimistic one. In the end Ana breaks up with Christian Grey and it looks like they are finished as a couple. Because this is the first in the trilogy, however, we can assume that the two characters are going to meet again in future books, which makes the ending a false or temporary resolution.

Romance novels are known to embrace tropes to the fullest, and Fifty Shades of Grey is no exception. The TV Tropes website has an extensive list of all the tropes found in the trilogy. The main trope is “all girls want bad boys.” Christian Grey is a very bad boy.

Writing in Fifty Shades of Grey

Critics have written scathing reviews of this novel because of the quality of the writing. Many of the mistakes, however, are those of an untrained writer rather than a “bad” writer. For example, in the first paragraph the readers meets Anastasia as she examines herself in a mirror.

I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror.

Looking in the mirror is a trope writers are taught to avoid. Writer coach K.M. Weiland has 5 reasons not to do this:

 

Setting

Christian Grey lives in Seattle, Washington. At first Anastasia lives in Vancouver, Washington but after she graduates she moves to Seattle to find a job.

Most of the descriptions of the outdoor settings are generic. The details of the insides of the buildings are much more richly drawn, probably reflecting the fact that E. L. James lives far away in a West London suburb.

Why did a British author set her novels in the U.S.? Fifty Shades of Grey is set in Washington state because  was originally written as fanfiction for Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Twilight is set in Forks, Washington.

 

What Makes A Bestseller?

One of the reasons we started this The Bestseller Code reading challenge (in October 2016) was to learn what bestselling books have in common.

The huge popularity of this novel initially stumped the authors of The Bestseller Code. Their preliminary examination of bestsellers found that they rarely mention sex, yet on the surface this novel is all about sex. However, when they examined the novel in more depth in Chapter 3, Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers discovered that this novel is more about relationships than purely about sex. In fact, in a lot of ways the sex acts as a wedge to keep the two lovers apart because of Christian and Ana’s differences in experience and desires.

More importantly, Archer and Jockers discovered E. L. James wrote with regular swings of emotion. First things are going great and Ana is happy, then an obstacle arises and she is sad, they have sex and she’s happy, they separate and she begins to have doubts. After the awkward first few chapters, the rest of the book is a regularly-paced emotional roller coaster:  high -low-high-low. They suggest that this is pattern is what makes the book a bestseller.

Discussion

When I first started reading this book, the writing felt rough and awkward. The first few chapters were hard to read. But once the two main characters started a relationship, it seemed to take off. Either the writing got better, or I got more invested in the characters and spent less time analyzing the writing. In any case, the rest of the book went by pretty quickly.

Comparing this novel to the last one, I can see that many intangibles go into making a book into a bestseller. In both cases it seems to be a hardcore group of devoted fans — rather than skilled writing or topic — that makes all the difference.

Join us on social media:

 

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 56. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld (2008) – Discussion begins July 9, 2018
Bildungsroman

#BestsellerCode100: Number 57. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listFifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. See notes below.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

Fifty Shades of Grey* by E. L. James

 


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  When Anastasia Steele fills in for her friend and interviews wealthy young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she is both intimidated by and attracted to his looks and spirit. Starting an affair with him, she discovers some dark secrets that she isn’t sure how to handle.

This novel is the first of a trilogy.

Important Notes

Note 1:  Warning:  This is an Erotic Romance, for mature audiences only.

Note 2:  Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers devote much of chapter three of The Bestseller Code to explaining the phenomenal success of this novel despite that fact it was panned by critics. Their discussion starts on page 73.

Note 3:  This novel was first written as a fan fiction tribute to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight books. The original title was Master of the Universe and the author used the pen name Snowqueens Icedragon. You can find a PDF of the original linked to the Master of the Universe title in this article.

Note 4.: In Dave Barry’s book, You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty, he has a hilarious and insightful essay about Fifty Shades of Grey entitled “What Women Want.” (Also available online at Time.)

 

Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  2. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective
  3. (We aren’t doing a book beginning this time because Roberta discussed the beginning in her review)

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 56. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld (2008) – Discussion begins July 9, 2018
Bildungsroman

#amreading #mystery The Salaryman’s Wife by Sujata Massey

Let’s take a look at The Salaryman’s Wife by Sujata Massey for our ongoing research into older mystery series.

The Salaryman’s Wife* by Sujata Massey


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

First in the Rei Shimura mystery series, originally published in 1997.

Summary:  Rei Shimura is a 27-year-old Japanese-American woman living in Tokyo, where she barely scrapes by teaching English. During a New Year’s vacation to the Japanese Alps, she discovers the body of one of the guests at the minshuku (family-run inn) where she is staying. Before long she’s caught up in the investigation while trying to avoid becoming the next victim.

**Setting**

This novel is all about the Japanese setting. The lodging, the food, the trips to various village and cities all play an essential part in pulling the reader into the mystery. Because the author spent time teaching English in Japan and takes frequent trips there, she is able to move past the tourist experience. She expertly captures the conflicts and inconsistencies between modern and traditional culture, as well as between Rei’s two sides, American and Japanese culture.

 

Public domain photo of Mount Fuji via Good Free Photos

Characters

The main character, Rei Shimura is in-your-face strong, yet sweetly unaware at times.  Her Japanese-American heritage adds depth to the story. It shows the difficulties of seeming to belong to two cultures and yet being fully accepted by neither. Author Sujata Massey’s parents were from Germany and India, so she understands the conflicts of a mixed-cultural background.

The characters in the story are diverse and interesting. At times it felt like there were way too many characters, some of whom played little role in moving the plot forward. By the end, we find out at least some of the characters who seemed extraneous were in fact involved in ingenious ways. For example, she gives a meal to a homeless man in one scene. Later on he rescues her.

Sujata Massey handles the dialogue well, especially the banter between Rei and her love interest Hugh. At times, however, the content of the dialogue seemed contrived. For example, Rei meets a powerful businessman for the first time and grills him for intensely personal information. He gives her everything she wants straight out. It would have been more realistic if she had to coerce him or if he had toyed with her before spilling. This is a problem I have as a writer, too. Instead of giving each individual in the conversation their own or an opposing agenda, as is the case in the real world, they simply say what is needed to move the story forward.

Discussion

Sex Scenes

In the book we are using for our ongoing reading challenge, The Bestseller Code, the authors state that very few bestsellers contain sex as a topic. It seems like some older mysteries, like this one,  do have sex scenes. Massey’s scenes work well because the sex isn’t gratuitous. The scenes move the story forward because they cement the relationship between two characters and gives them a realistic motive to work together.

Conclusion

Although rough in spots, there are enough gems in this book that I enjoyed it. I’ll be looking forward to reading more in this series.

#BestsellerCode100: A Writer’s Review of Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good

Let’s take a look at our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 challenge listSomewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon, from a writer’s perspective

This post does not contain spoilers.

Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good by Jan Karon (2014)

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: Father Tim Kavanagh has returned to Mitford, North Carolina with his wife Cynthia. He’s retired, but feels his life is missing something. He can’t seem to figure out what he wants to do about it.

This is the twelfth novel in the Mitford series, which features the multiple generations of the Kavanagh family. The fourteenth novel in the series came out in September, 2017.

****

Because both Karen (see her review) and I failed to finish reading this novel, it might be informative to try to figure out why.

Characters

Ever been to a gathering where everyone else had known each other for a long time, such as the first time you met with all your in-laws? Or go to the company softball game when you’ve just been hired and they’ve been playing together for years? People who know each other well, and have history together, often speak in shorthand or code. You feel left out because you have no idea what they are talking about.

Because this is the twelfth novel in the series, the characters are old friends to people who started the series at book one. The author apparently expects new readers to understand the characters the same way as old fans and makes little effort to introduce us. By jumping in at book twelve for this challenge,  we are left standing on the outside.

Genre and Pacing

Although writers try to reach a general audience, realistically they often must gear their writing to the expectations of a subset of readers who prefer their genre.  For example, cozy mystery writers avoid a lot of violence. Their books focus on restoring order to a community that is basically good. The pacing is moderate with a good distance between conflicts or incidents.  On the other hand, thriller writers pile on the violence and often the central question is whether the villain is going to get away with the mayhem. The pacing is fast and distance between conflicts is short.

As Christian Fiction, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is supposed to have a gentle touch with no violence  and a relatively slow pace. As a person who reads mysteries and thrillers for fun, I like my novels to feel like I’m in a race car plunging down a hill. This novel felt like I was on a very rickety bicycle that meandered a lot. I didn’t like it. It is a personal preference, however, and many people probably find the slow pace refreshing.

Little Mysteries for Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good

A good novelist provides little mysteries in the story. Those are questions put into a reader’s mind to keep them turning pages. To be effective, the answers should be revealed within a few pages, hence “little” mysteries.

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good  starts out with the question whether Father Kavanagh will be able to fit into his tux. When he can’t, he and his wife (mainly his wife) go in search of an alternative. The last mention of their search is around page 19 or 20, then that thread pretty much disappears. We never learn what happens until an oblique mention on page 63:

‘There we were, two of three misfits who didn’t show up as penguins…’

So, about 40 pages later we learn that apparently he didn’t wear a tux. If you had forgotten the question, the answer was so subtle you would have missed it. If you had remembered the question, it was a long time to ponder such a trivial mystery that apparently had no bearing on the plot except to send the main characters to visit a friend. The author promised a reward, but never fulfilled it.

Too Slow

In fact, the novel is way too slow in providing  the solutions to the little mysteries throughout. Another example:  On page 19 we learn that Irene is missing and her front door was left open. That sounds alarming. Has something bad happened to her? On page 38, they check again. Irene still isn’t home, but this time the police show up. When do we find out what happened to Irene? Not until page 90, where we learn she was in Georgia with her new grandson. She was never in danger. The reader is left wondering why such good friends, who knew so many other details of her life and felt comfortable rummaging through her house, didn’t know she was expecting a new grandson.

Again and again the author has failed in her promises to the reader by either holding out too long or hiding the answers to the little mysteries, if she gives them at all (see quote in Karen’s review). When they arrive, the answers are often anticlimactic or serve no purpose. It was enlightening to me as a writer to realize how frustrating that was. I will definitely make a big effort to make sure any little mysteries I include will fulfill their promises to my readers in a timely way.

Setting

The setting is the fictional small community of Milford, North Carolina. Although there was a map in the front, I never got a strong impression of place. In contrast, Alice Sebold, for example, never names the setting in Lovely Bones, and yet it seemed much clearer and much more concrete. Perhaps the setting has been described in detail in some of the earlier novels in the series? Again, jumping in at novel twelve was frustrating.

Discussion

In summary, some of the issues we had with the book were due to it being the twelfth in a series and others were issues with the author’s choices about plotting and storytelling. Perhaps the inability to connect with the characters and the settings would not have been a problem if we had read the novels in the order intended. Given the popularity of the books, that is likely the case.

Have you read Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 57.  Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James (2011) – Discussion begins June 25, 2018

#BookBeginnings The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon

Today we have The Temptation of Forgiveness: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon 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-button-donna-leon

The Temptation of Forgiveness: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:   A friend of his wife’s implores Commissario Guido Brunetti to look into her son’s drug use, but before he starts the woman’s husband is found with a severe head injury. Brunetti must find out if the two problems are connected.

This is the twenty-seventh novel in the Commissario Guido Brunetti  police procedural series. The novels are set in Venice.

First Sentence:

Having left the apartment smack on time so as to arrive at the Questura on time for a meeting with his superior, Brunetti found himself seated towards the rear of a Number One vaporetto, glancing idly through a copy of that morning’s Gazzettino.

Discussion:

I like how the novel starts with the beginning of Guido Brunetti’s day. It is relaxing, but with a hint of things to come.

Donna Leon adds a few specific words that establish both the tone and setting. The Questura is the police station in Venice. The vaporetto is a water bus, which is something so specific to Venice. Plus, the newspaper is called the Gazzettino.

Whenever I read this series, I just want to hop on a plane to Venice.

What do you think? Have you read anything by Donna Leon?

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