Category: Book Beginnings Meme (page 1 of 3)

#BookBeginnings The Talker by Mary Sojourner

For Book Beginnings on Fridays, let’s take a look at The Talker: Stories by Mary Sojourner.

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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The Talker: Stories* by Mary Sojourner

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Summary:  Rather than a novel, this work is a collection of short stories set in the western U.S., particularly the Mojave desert.

I’m looking forward to reading these. I attended a writing workshop with the author a few weeks ago at a local indie bookstore. She is one of those people that fill a room with their presence. It may be cliché, but there’s no other way to describe her. At the workshop she revealed it had taken her over twenty years to finish these stories.

First sentence of the first short story (“Great Blue”):

“It all started with black olives, the bogus kind, the ones that look like patent leather and taste worse.”

Discussion:

Seems like quite a bit of detail for the beginning of a short story, but it does evoke the desert setting. We can grow olives here and in fact, have a local olive-processing plant.

Some people are surprised to learn olives can’t be eaten from the tree, but must be processed to be edible.

If you’d like to see more from the book, there’s an excerpt of one of the short stories, “Up Near Pasco,” on Mary Sojourner’s website.

#BookBeginnings The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Today we’re looking forward to starting the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challenge, Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters 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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The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

What it’s about:  Three grown sisters return to their hometown when their mother falls ill. Although they grew up together and all were named after characters in Shakespeare’s plays by their father, the three sisters couldn’t be more different. Will the crisis pull them together or break them apart?

Quirky fact:  This novel is written in the first person plural (we, our, etc.)

First Sentence of the Prologue:

We came home because we were failures.

First Paragraph of Chapter One:

Cordy had never stolen anything before. As a matter of pride, when our friends were practicing their light-fingered shuffles across the shelves of Barnwell’s stores in our teens, she had refused to participate, refused even to wear the cheap earrings and clumpy lipstick or listen to the shoplifted music. But here she was in this no-name desert town, facing off against the wall of pregnancy tests, knowing full well she didn’t have the money to pay for one. A Wild West shootout:  Cordy versus the little pink sticks at noon.

Discussion:

I remember seeing reviews of this one when it came out. The third person plural voice intrigued me, but I never picked it up.  What do you think of the tone of the first paragraph.? Would you want to read more?

Aside:  There’s an interesting essay about our interest in the first line of novels at Electric Lit. The author suggests our obsession over the first line is a relatively new phenomenon and may have had it’s roots in the rise of product advertising. He also discusses how the first sentence varies between genre fiction and literary works. In the end he concludes that there’s a danger of putting so much emphasis on having a knocks-you-socks-off first sentence that it will become “orphaned” from the rest of the novel. Perhaps simple is better.

What do you think?

#BookBeginnings Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton

Let’s took a look at Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted at  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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Sue Grafton’s Kinsey and Me*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

What it’s about:

This book is a collection of short stories. The first nine are private detective stories featuring the main character of Sue Graftons’s famous series, Kinsey Millhone. The second part includes thirteen stories with Kit Blue, who Grafton reveals is a younger version of herself. In those stories she examines her struggles with being the daughter of alcoholics.

Today, I’m going to give you two quotes. This one is from the dust jacket, referring to the stories in the second part of the book:

“I wish life could be edited as deftly as prose. It would be nice to go back and write a better story, correcting weaknesses and follies in the light of what I now know. ~ Sue Grafton

First paragraph of the first short story:

I squinted at the woman sitting across the desk from me. I could have sworn she’d just told me there was a dead man in her daughter’s bed, which seemed like a strange thing to say, accompanied, as it was, by a pleasant smile and a carefully modulated tone. Maybe I’d misunderstood..

Discussion:

This book seems to have a lot going on.

Regarding the dust jacket quote, isn’t that a particularly lucid way to put what many of us has felt at one time or another?

As for the first paragraph, I love the juxtaposition of the dead body and the pleasant smile.  Does it work for you?

Finally, when I was typing in the quote I noticed all the commas in the second sentence. What do you think of the comma after “accompanied”? Is is necessary?

Are you a fan of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series?

#BookBeginnings Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Today we’re looking forward to starting the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challenge, Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri 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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Unaccustomed Earth* by Jhumpa Lahiri

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

What the book is about:

In this collection of eight short stories the author explores how the lives of people are changed as they migrate from place to place, specifically from South Asia to America. She asks the question whether — as a quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne suggests — people thrive when they “strike their roots into unaccustomed earth” instead of being “planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil.”

First Sentence of the First Short Story:

“After her mother’s death, Ruma’s father retired from the pharmaceutical company where he had worked for many decades and began traveling in Europe, a continent he’d never seen.”

Discussion:

Isn’t it interesting how much word choice matters? The author makes it clear to the reader that Ruma is the main character by introducing the father by his relationship to Ruma. In fact, the author does not even name him until much further on.

Glancing through the pages, I’m taken by how extensive the descriptions are. The book I read last week, Night Watch, was heavy on dialogue and light on descriptions. It will be interesting to see how the two compare.

How much description do you like in the novels you read?

#BookBeginnings Night Watch by Iris and Roy Johansen

Today we’ve got Night Watch by the mother-son team of Iris and Roy Johansen 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’re finished,  add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

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Night Watch*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Kendra Michaels has regained her vision after undergoing a new procedure developed by England’s Night Watch Project. But when the surgeon who treated her goes missing, she gets wrapped up in an investigation of the very same organization that helped her.

First Paragraph of the Prologue:

Those chamber of commerce brochures were right on the money, John Jaden thought. It was freezing, and he was practically up to his [expletive deleted] in snow, yet surfers and sunbathers preened on a warm beach less than ninety minutes away. He’d seen them as he’d driven up the highway on his way to Big Bear.

Discussion:

This is the first time I’ve encountered an expletive in the first paragraph I was going to share. Even though it was a mild one, I wasn’t sure how to handle it. Should I have left it in?  It wasn’t as strong as the one from the famous first line of The Martian.

Have you ever not used a first line because of expletives?

As a writer, I’d also like to know:  Have you ever quit reading a book because of the coarseness of the language? Even though it was appropriate for the character using it?

Otherwise, the first paragraph captures the setting very well and reveals the character’s personality a bit.

What do you think?

#BookBeginnings The Orphan Master’s Son

Today we have The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson 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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The Orphan Master’s Son*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

This novel is coming up next for the ongoing Bestseller Code 100 reading challenge.  It won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Summary:   The history and culture of North Korea are mysterious. Adam Johnson pulls back the curtain with this fictional work, delving deeply into the lives of leaders and regular citizens alike. It follows Pak Jun Do who eventually assumes the identity of Commander Ga, the husband of a famous actress named Sun Moon.

First Paragraph of The Orphan Master’s Son:

“Citizens, gather ’round your loudspeakers, for we bring important updates! In your kitchens, in your offices, on your factory floors — wherever your loudspeaker is located, turn up your volume!

Discussion:

The first things I noticed were the exclamation points because I just read an article in Publisher’s Weekly, “Danielle Steel Loves the Weather and Elmore Leonard Hates Exclamation Points: Literature by the Numbers” According to the article’s author, Leonard Elmore says, “You are allowed no more than two or three [exclamation points] per 100,000 words of prose.” Adam Johnson is reaching his limit in the first paragraph.

What do you think of exclamation points in novels? Do you agree with Elmore Leonard?

Have you read this book? If not, consider joining us next week as we continue with The Orphan Master’s Son.

#BookBeginnings The Horse Whisperer

Today we have an older novel, The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans 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’re finished add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

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The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Published in 1995, this is probably the oldest book on the The Bestseller Code 100 challenge list. It was Nicholas Evans’s debut novel and was made into a movie with the same title.

Here’s the movie trailer:

 

Summary:  A desperate mother risks everything to seek out an horse expert on the hope he can help save her daughter’s broken down horse and perhaps her deeply-wounded daughter, as well.

First Sentence of The Horse Whisperer:

There was death at its beginning as there would be death again at its end.

Discussion:

I read this book when it first came out and I remember the emotional gist of it, if not the details. It will be interesting to read it again to see how well it has withstood the test of time.

Have you read The Horse Whisperer? Your thoughts?

#BookBeginnings Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

Today we’re highlighting Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta 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. Once you’ve posted, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

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Those Who Wish Me Dead* by Michael Koryta

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

I read and liked Michael Koryta’s first two novels, Tonight I Said Goodbye and Sorrow’s Anthem. The main characters of both novels were private investigators who seemed to really know the business. After taking a writing workshop with Mr. Koryta, I found out why.  He has a degree in criminal justice and has worked as a private investigator. No wonder the details were realistic.

This thriller is a sharp change of direction from his previous works.

Summary:   Jace Wilson is the only witness to a murder, so the authorities must protect him. They give him a new identity and send him to a remote wilderness-survival program to hide. It isn’t long, however, before the highly-motivated killers are on his track.

First Sentence:

On the last day of Jace Wilson’s life, the fourteen-year-old stood on the quarry ledge staring at the cool, still water and finally understood something his mother had told him years before:  Trouble might come for you when you showed fear, but trouble doubled-down when you lied about being afraid.

Discussion:

“On the last day of Jace Wilson’s life…”? Those first few words are quite a hook.

Have you read anything by Michael Koryta? Have you read this book?

I always forget when to hyphenate ages, but in this quote “fourteen-year-old” is a noun, so I think it is properly hyphenated.

What do you think?

#BookBeginnings One Day by David Nicholls

Today we’re highlighting a novel originally published in 2010, One Day by David Nicholls, 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’re done, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

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One Day* by David Nicholls

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Starting on July 15, 1988 and running through July 15, 2006, the story unfolds by revealing how Dexter and Emma’s relationship progresses on one day each year, July 15.

Of course they made it into a movie.

Note:  We’re reading this book next for The Bestseller Code 100 challenge.

First Sentence:

‘I suppose the important thing is to make some sort of difference,’ she said. ‘You know, actually change something.’

Discussion:

Does anyone know why the author uses single quotation marks for the dialogue? I looked and it seems to be carried throughout the book.

Seems like an interesting premise for a book.

What do you think?

#BookBeginnings Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Today we’re highlighting Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize Winner Olive Kitteridge 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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Olive Kitteridge* by Elizabeth Strout (2008)

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  A classic example of literary fiction, this novel reveals the life of school teacher Olive Kitteridge as she interacts with  her family and acquaintances in the small town of Crosby, Maine.

First Sentence:

For many years Henry Kitteridge was a pharmacist in the next town over, driving every morning on snowy roads, or rainy roads, or summertime roads, when the wild raspberries shot their new growth in brambles along the last section of town before he turned off to where the wider road led to the pharmacy.

Discussion:

Interesting that the author chooses to introduce the main character’s husband before the main character.

Have you read Olive Kitteridge?

Do you like literary fiction?

 

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As you may know, we have been reading through the list of the 100 bestsellers picked by the computer algorithm as revealed in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers.

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.

The next book is number 93. Olive Kitterage by Elizabeth Strout (2008) – Discussion begins February 13, 2017.

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