Category: Book Beginnings Meme (page 1 of 10)

#BookBeginnings The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Let’s take a look at the extraordinary true crime tale The Feather Thief:  Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace 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 Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

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Summary:  Kirk Wallace Johnson investigates the theft of 299 irreplaceable bird specimens from the British Museum of Natural History. On the surface doesn’t seem like a spectacular crime, but what he discovers is an obsession with fly-tying, and a blatant disregard for the value of nature, history and science.

In an interview at This American Life,  Johnson reveals his life was threatened while he researched the book. He and his interviewer also throw around some hilarious bird-related puns.

First Sentence of Prologue:

By the time Edwin Rist stepped off the train onto the platform at Tring, forty miles north of London, it was already quite late.

I like how he answers who, where, and when in the first sentence.

First Sentence of Chapter One

Alfred Russel Wallace stood on the quarterdeck of a burning ship, seven hundred miles off the coast of Bermuda, the planks heating beneath his feet, yellow smoke curling up through the cracks.

Discussion:

That must have been terrifying!

I’ve seen this book on several “best of true crime” lists. I’m looking forward to reading it.

What do you think? Have you read The Feather Thief? Would you like to read it?

 

#BookBeginnings The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke

Today I’m reading a novel that made a 100 must-read mysteries list, The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke, 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 Neon Rain by James Lee Burke

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Summary:  After losing his wife, Detective Dave Robicheaux must survive both grief and the the dark underworld of the New Orleans French Quarter as he investigates the murder of a young prostitute.

This is the first in a series, originally published in 1987.

First Sentence of Chapter One:

The evening sky was streaked with purple, the color of torn plums, and a light rain had started to fall when I came to the end of the blacktop road that cut through twenty miles of thick, almost impenetrable scrub oak and pine and stopped at the front gate of the Angola penitentiary,

Discussion:

I love Burke’s lush descriptive language. The first sentence is almost a paragraph itself. It also makes me wonder why he’s there.

Although this is an older novel, I’m looking forward to reading it because it is the first in the series. I enjoy seeing how an author’s style evolves over time.

Have you read anything by James Lee Burke?  If not, what do you think? Would you give this one a try?

Public Domain Photograph by Andrew Schmidt

#BookBeginnings If I Die Tonight: A Novel by Alison Gaylin

The 2019 Edgar award winners were announced this week and I’m featuring the best paperback original If I Die Tonight: A Novel by Alison Gaylin 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!

If I Die Tonight: A Novel by Alison Gaylin

 

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Summary:   Aging pop star Aimee En tells the police that a teenager stole her car and used it to run down a local high school football player named Liam Miller. As Miller’s life hangs in the balance, social media portrays Liam as a hero and the suspected car thief Wade Reed as a deranged killer. But are things that simple?

Beginning:

Five days earlier

In bed late at night with her laptop, Jackie Reed sometimes forgot there were others in the house. That’s how quiet it was here, with these hushed boys of hers, always with their heads down, with their shuffling footsteps and their padded sneakers, their muttered greetings, their doors closing behind them.

Discussion:

According to the blurb, the story’s told from multiple points of view. That may explain why the beginning is from Wade Reed’s mother’s point of view.

I think some of you may have already reviewed this. Did you like it?

Have you read anything by Alison Gaylin? Would you like to read this one?

 

#BookBeginnings Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Today I’m reading Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny 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-Penny

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

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Summary:  How do you summarize a complex novel like this one? Here’s the gist:

A stranger has named Chief Inspector Armand Gamache to be one of the executors of her will, along with a bookseller named Myrna Landers and a young builder. Still suspended because of an investigation in a case that went wrong months before, Gamache agrees to accept the task as a way to keep occupied. What would seem to be a straightforward duty becomes troublesome, however, when they read the bizarre terms of the will, which before long leads to murder.

As if that weren’t enough, the case that got him suspended rears its ugly head again and he must track down missing drugs and work to clear his name.

First Sentences of Kingdom of the Blind:

Armand Gamache slowed his car to a crawl, then stopped on the snow-covered secondary road.

This was it, he supposed. Pulling in, he drove between the tall pine trees until he reached the clearing.

There he parked the car and sat in the warm vehicle looking out at the cold day. Snow flurries were hitting the windshield and dissolving.

Discussion:

The Chief Inspector Gamache series are set in Canada, around Québec and Montreal. I love the way she describes the snow and the cold.

Although this copy is from the library, I noticed that Louise Penny has almost an entire shelf to herself at our local bookstore. Her books are very popular.

Do you think it is surprising that the title is Kingdom of the Blind rather that The Kingdom of the Blind?

Have you read any of this series? What do you think?

#BookBeginnings Celine by Peter Heller

Let’s take a look at Celine by Peter Heller 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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Celine* by Peter Heller

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Summary:  Private investigator Celine is renowned for her ability to track down missing persons. When a young woman’s father goes missing in Yellowstone Park, Celine leaves the comfort of her apartment in New York City to track him down.

First Sentence of Prologue:

It was bright and windy, with the poppies flushing orange down the slopes of the bluffs, all mixed with swaths of blue lupine. The Pacific was almost black and it creamed against the base of the cliffs all along Big Sur. He loved this.

First Sentence Chapter One

The call had come while she was at her workbench wiring the naked taxidermic form of an ermine onto a rock, beside the skull of a crow.

 

Discussion:

The novel follows a common mystery format by introducing the victim in the prologue and the investigator in chapter one.

I’m really looking forward to reading this novel for a few different reasons. First of all, the protagonist is a 68-year-old woman who is also a private investigator. Also, the author’s own mother, who was also a private investigator, inspired the story. Finally, a friend recommended it for its lush descriptions of the setting. I can’t wait to delve into it.

What do you think? Have you read anything by Peter Heller? Do you think you’d like to read Celine?

#BookBeginnings Lives Laid Away by Stephen Mack Jones

Today I’m starting a book set in Detroit, Michigan: Lives Laid Away by Stephen Mack Jones 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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Lives Laid Away by Stephen Mack Jones

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Summary:  Detroit ex-cop August Snow spends his time renovating houses in a neighborhood called Mexicantown. After a young girl from the community is found dead,  Snow discovers she was last seen alive during an ICE raid. Soon he is embroiled in a violent campaign to prevent the perpetrators from acting again.

First Sentence:

Her secret ingredient was nutmeg.

Not a lot — maybe half teaspoon or less — but she got the same complex undercurrent effect that she would have with smoked East Indian paprika or authentic Mexican chili powder.

Discussion:

I read some reviews of this novel that suggested it has a lot of violence, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the beginning. In fact, I really like the description. I want to know who “she” is and also what exactly the narrator is making.

What do you think? Have you read a book by Stephen Mack Jones? Would you read this one?

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Aside:  I have website that lists children’s books set in 50 different states, and thought it might be fun to try the same thing with mysteries. I already have three mystery series set in Arizona. Do you have any suggestions for others?

#BookBeginnings The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith

Today I have the most recent in the  No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith, 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 Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith

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Summary:  Precious Ramotswe, owner and chief detective of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, allows herself to be pulled into running for a seat in a local Botswana election. To help her stay on top of everything, her apprentice Charlie takes over the case of a hit-and-run victim, perhaps before he is ready.

First Sentence:

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, and one of the finest mechanics in Botswana, if not the finest, was proud of his wife, Precious Ramotswe, progenitor and owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

Discussion:

Isn’t it clever how Alexander McCall Smith introduces two main characters and the setting in the first sentence? I immediately wonder why Mr.  Matekoni is proud of his wife.

One of the things that has made these novels so popular is the Botswana setting. For instance, I always find the names of the businesses to be so memorable.

These are not high tension mysteries, but instead more of a stroll.

What do you think? Have you read any of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series novels?

 

#BookBeginnings Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Today we’re getting ready to start the next novel in The Bestseller Code Challenge ListMaine by J. Courtney Sullivan, 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-Courtney Sullivan

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

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Summary:  Four Kelleher women gather their families at their summer beach house in Maine, each bringing their own secrets and issues.

Genre:  Domestic fiction

First Sentence:

Alice decided to take a break from packing. She lit a cigarette, leaning back in one of the wicker chairs that were always slightly damp from the sea breeze.

Discussion:

Already I wonder why she’s packing up the summer home before anyone else arrives.

Although this looks like a summertime beach read, it also might be a great way to escape from the February blah weather.

What do you think? Have you read Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan? Would you like to read it?

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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 46. Room by Emma Donoghue (2010) – Discussion begins March 11, 2019
Literary Fiction

#BookBeginnings The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Have you seen The Library Book by Susan Orlean yet? Let’s take a look 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 Library Book by Susan Orlean

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Nonfiction

Summary:  Using a horrific arson fire in the Los Angeles Public Library on April 29, 1986 as an “inciting incident,” Susan Orlean explores not only multiple facets of the crime, but also the importance of libraries and librarians.

First Sentence:

Stories to Begin On (1940)
By Bacmeister, Rhoda W.
X 808 B127

Begin Now – To Enjoy Tomorrow (1951)
My Giles, Ray
362.6 G472

A Good Place to Begin (1987)
By Powell, Lawerence Clark
027.47949 P884

To Begin at the Beginning (1994)
By Copenhaver, Martin B.
230 C782

Even in Los Angeles, where there is no shortage of remarkable hairdos, Harry Peak attracted attention.

 

Discussion:

Do you see it?  The author has started the chapter with book titles and their call numbers relating to “beginning.”  All the chapters start with appropriate book titles like this. Isn’t that cool?

I am glad I sprang for a hardcover edition because the book has so many extra special touches, starting with deckle edges. The end papers have the standard book jacket blurb in the front — printed on the endpapers — and an image of one of those old-fashioned library card pockets in the back. The image is so 3-D that it looks real at first glance.

I am really, really enjoying this book.

Have you read The Library Book? Would you like to read it?

#BookBeginnings The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

Today we’re starting the next novel in The Bestseller Code Challenge List, The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury, 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 Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

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Summary: When four men on horseback dressed as Templar knights steal rare artifacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, archaeologist Tess Chaykin, who witnessed the theft,  and FBI agent Sean Reilly team up to investigate.

This novel is a historical thriller of sorts. Some say it is similar to The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, an author who also has a book on the challenge list.

First Sentence of Prologue:

The Holy Land is lost.

And so starts the prologue, set in Acre, Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1291.

First Sentence, Chapter 1:

At first, no one noticed the four horsemen as they emerged out of the darkness of Central Park.

The setting in Chapter one is modern day (for a book published in 2005) New York City.

I’m actually about half way through and I’m enjoying the action. It seems like the plot is a bit less convoluted than The DaVinci Code, but the author hasn’t revealed everything yet.

What do you think? Have you read this? Ever read The DaVinci Code?  How do you think they compare?

 

Have you read The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury? 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 47. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan (2011) – Discussion begins February 25, 2019
Domestic Fiction

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