Tag: Book Beginnings (page 1 of 9)

#BookBeginnings The Operator by Howard Gershkowitz

Today I’m reading a friend’s debut novel, The Operator by Howard Gershkowitz 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 Operator*by Howard Gershkowitz

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Summary:  Harold Russell takes his wife Laura to an historical hotel in Prescott, Arizona for a much-needed vacation.  While admiring an antique switchboard, a young switchboard operator using a brand-new version appears and talks to him. Because his wife can’t see or hear her, Harold wonders if he’s seeing ghosts. Another encounter with the young woman, whose name is Talia, in the middle of the night leads him to realize he’s traveling back in time to 1929. Using his knowledge that the Great Depression is imminent, he and Talia hatch a plan to prevent it. Arriving back in 2017, he finds the plan has failed, but Talia has left him a fortune and another plan to prevent an even bigger catastrophe.

First Sentence:

Journal Entry
December 21, 2016
7 a.m., Starbucks Dobson and Frye, Chandler, Arizona

It’s been a long time since Laura and I have gone away together. I don’t know if it’ll do much good, but it’s worth a try.

Discussion:

I met Howard Gershkowitz at a writers group at our local library a few years ago, so I’ve had glimpses of this novel coming together. It is exciting that it is finally published. He never revealed the ending to our group, so we finally get to learn what happens.

The novel mentions a number of real places in Arizona, which is fun for locals to read.

What do you think?

#BookBeginnings Justice Denied by J.A. Jance

My husband has been reading through the J.A. Jance’s J. P. Beaumont series, so I thought I’d join him with Justice Denied  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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Justice Denied by J. A. Jance

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Summary:  When a former drug dealer and ex-con is murdered, J.P. Beaumont expects the perp is another drug dealer taking out the competition and wonders why his boss wants the investigation kept confidential. At the same time his detective lover is asked to keep her investigation of the deaths of registered sex offenders quiet, too. As they begin to realize the two cases are related, they discover their assignments are leading them into something much more sinister than they had first suspected.

First Sentence:

LaShawn Tompkins saw the sole white woman, a nun, huddled under her umbrella in the pouring rain as he turned the decrepit Windstar van off Rainier Avenue South onto Church Street.

Discussion:

The Beaumont novels are set in Seattle, which explains the rain. I just looked it up, and Rainer Avenue is an actual street in Seattle. Those details give the reader a strong sense of place. What other words catch your attention?

J. A. Jance is a well-known author here in Arizona. I’ve seen her speak a number of times and have enjoyed both her Detective J.P. Beaumont series and her Sheriff Joanna Brady novels, which are set in Bisbee, Arizona.

Have you read anything by J. A. Jance?

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

#BookBeginnings The Likeness by Tana French

Let’s take a look at The Likeness by Tana French 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 Likeness by Tana French

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Summary:  In this follow-up to In The Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox is no longer with the Dublin Murder squad. When a young woman whose name is Alexandra Madison is killed, however, the squad calls her in. They realize that the victim looks like Cassie and Alexandra Madison is one of Cassie’s past undercover aliases. While she searches for the killer, Cassie must figure out whether she was the intended target.

First Sentence of The Likeness Prologue:

Some nights, if I’m sleeping on my own, I still dream about Whitethorn House. In the dream it’s always spring, cool fine light with a late afternoon haze. I climb the worn stone steps and knock on the door — that great, brass knocker, going black with age and heavy enough to startle you every time — and an old woman with an apron and a deft, uncompromising face lets me in.

First Sentence Chapter 1:

This is Lexie Madison’s story, not mine.

 

Discussion:

I read Tana French’s In The Woods for a reading challenge (review) and enjoyed the elegant writing, so I’m eager to delve into this one. It feels like one of those books that deserves to be read at leisure over a long, quiet weekend. Not that I’ll get one of those.

One thing I am struggling with is that I have a good friend named Cassie. I keep visualizing her when I read the name of the character in the book and they aren’t much alike. Have you ever read a book with the name of a close friend, family member, or even your own name? Was it difficult?

What do you think?

#BookBeginnings A Season to Lie by Emily Littlejohn

A Season to Lie by Emily Littlejohn caught my eye at the library this week 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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A Season to Lie by Emily Littlejohn

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Summary:   Gemma Monroe has just returned to her job as a police officer after twelve weeks of maternity leave. For her first case, she heads out into a blizzard on what should be a routine check for a prowler at a local school. Instead she discovers a dead body and launches into an investigation that proves to be far from routine.

First Sentence of Prologue:

On a cold and bitter night in February, twelve weeks after giving birth, I returned to what I know best:  death.

First Sentence Chapter One:

I stepped into the central squad room of the Cedar Valley Police Department and then stood still for a moment, taking in the familiar sights and smells.

 

Discussion:

I like police procedural mysteries, and the snowy Colorado setting caught my attention. So far it hasn’t completely lived up to expectations, but it is pleasant enough.

I believe someone else featured this novel recently for Book Beginnings, but I couldn’t find the post. I’d love to hear what you thought of it if you’ve already read it.

What do you think? Have you read any novels in the Gemma Monroe series?

#BookBeginnings The Old Man and the Gun by David Grann

With the recent release of the movie starring Robert Redford, today we’re featuring The Old Man and the Gun: And Other Tales of True Crime by David Grann 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 Old Man and the Gun: And Other Tales of True Crime* by David Grann

 

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Summary:  This small volume is a collection of three articles previously published in The New Yorker between 2003 and 2008. The first, “The Old Man and the Gun” is about a man who keeps up a crime spree well into his seventies. “True Crime” describes the investigation of a novelist who might have revealed the details of a real murder in his fiction. In the third, The Chameleon,” a Frenchman pretends to be a missing boy from Texas all grown up, but soon finds out he might not be the only one who is being less than truthful.

First Sentence of “The Old Man and the Gun:”

Just before Forrest Tucker turned seventy-nine, he went to work for the last time.

Discussion:

What possibly go wrong when your “work” is robbing banks?

David Grann is the author of Killers of the Flower Moon, which was on a lot of must-read lists last year.

What do you think? Would you keep reading? Are you going to see the movie?

#BookBeginnings Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves

Wild Fire: A Shetland Island Mystery (Shetland Island Mysteries) by Ann Cleeves 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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Wild Fire: A Shetland Island Mystery  by Ann Cleeves


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Summary:  In the final installment of the Shetland Island Mysteries, an English family moves to the remote Shetland Islands to give their autistic son chance for a better life. When a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn beside their home,  suspicion falls on the father who might have been having an affair with her. Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez must investigate while dealing with both his complicated relationship with his boss and the burning resentment of locals towards the newcomers.

The novels are also the basis of a popular television series.

First Sentences of Wild Fire:

Emma sat on the shingle bank and watched the kids on the beach below build a bonfire. They’d dragged pieces of driftwood into a pile: it was something to do to relieve their boredom. Nothing much happened in Delaness.

Discussion:

Did you notice the alliteration in the first line? Five words start with ‘b’ and the punchline in the next line also starts with ‘b’: boredom. Do you think that was intentional?

What do you think? Are you a fan of the Shetland Island Mysteries? Have you seen the TV show?

#BookBeginnings The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

Today I have an old favorite, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman 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 Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax*by Dorothy Gilman

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Summary:  Mrs. Virgil (Emily) Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, is a widow with grown children and an unremarkable life. She is tired of attending her Garden Club meetings and frankly, is more than a little depressed. She wants to do something good for her country, so she becomes a CIA agent.

This is first in an enjoyable series.

First Sentence of The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax:

The nurse walked out of the room, closing the door behind her, and Mrs. Pollifax looked at the doctor and he looked at her. He was a very nice young man, with black hair, very white teeth and horn-rimmed glasses that he removed now, placing the stem of the earpiece between his teeth. “Well, Mrs. Pollifax,” he said pleasantly, “I don’t know how you manage it, but for a woman of your age, you’re in fantastically good health. I congratulate you.”

Discussion:

What I love about this beginning — and it is perfect because it gives a taste of what is to come in the rest of the novel — is the surprising twist, the defying of expectations. The reader starts out expecting that the doctor is going to give Mrs. Pollifax bad news about her health, but he doesn’t. She is perfectly healthy.  In the next bit there’s another twist when we find out Mrs. Pollifax is actually disappointed her health is good. Dorothy Gilman is a master of setting up expectations and then breaking them in fun and interesting ways.

What do you think? Would you continue? Have you read any of the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries?

#BookBeginnings The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Today we have a historical mystery, The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey, 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 Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

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I have read and enjoyed a couple of the novels in Sujata Massey’s Rei Shimura mystery series, which are (initially) set in contemporary Japan. In a noticeable departure, this novel is set in Bombay in the 1920s.

Summary:  Perveen Mistry has just joined her father’s law practice, making her one of the first female lawyers in India.  When she notices that the three wives of a deceased wealthy businessman have all relinquished their inheritance, Perveen decides to find out why. Someone is trying to hide the truth, however, and that person is willing to resort to murder. Perveen must figure out what is going on before anyone else is harmed.

First Sentence:

A Stranger’s Gaze
Bombay, February 1921

On the morning Perveen saw the stranger, they’d almost collided.
Perveen had come upon him half-hidden in the portico entrance to Mistray House. The unshaven, middle-aged man appeared as if he’d slept for several days and nights in his broadcloth shirt and grimy cotton dhoti that hung in a thousand creases from his waist to his ankles, His small, squinting eyes were tired, and he exuded a rank odor of sweat mixed with betal nut.

Discussion:

Does it work for you when the author simply states the “where” and “when” at the beginning of the chapter like Massey does here?

Sometimes authors artfully incorporate that information in the first few sentences, but I like when they simply state it, too. I prefer when the author does give away some information about who, where, and when up front rather than leaving us guessing.

I also like that she includes enough information for the reader to figure out that a dhoti might be similar to pants since it hangs from his waist to ankles.

What do you think? Have you read The Widows of Malabar Hill? Would you like to?

#BookBeginnings The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

We have the newest Jane Hawk thriller, The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz 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 Crooked Staircase* by Dean Koontz


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Summary:  In the third novel of the series, Jane Hawk is still hunting the secret organization responsible for her husband’s death as well as the deaths countless other innocent victims. Previously an FBI agent, her pursuit of the villains has turned her former employers against her, so now she is running from both former friends and enemies. Will she be able to stop the man behind it all before her pursuers catch her?

First Sentence of The Crooked Staircase:

At seven o’clock on that night in March, during a thunderless but heavy rain pounding as loud as an orchestra of kettledrums, Sara Holdsteck finally left the offices of Paradise Real Estate, carrying her briefcase in her left hand, open purse slung over her left shoulder, right hand free for a cross-body draw of the gun in the purse.

Discussion:

What a lot of information in one sentence! We have the who, when, and where as well as a set up that leaves the reader wondering what is going to happen next.

Conventional wisdom says not to start a novel with a reference to the weather, but since this sentence includes so much else in addition to the rain, I think it works.

What do you think? Have you read any of Koontz’s Jane Hawk thrillers?

Hope you are having a wonderful Friday!

#BookBeginnings Fade to Black by David Rosenfelt

This week I found the thriller Fade to Black by David Rosenfelt at our local library. Let’s take a look at it 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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Fade to Black* by David Rosenfelt


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:

After getting shot in the line of duty, New Jersey state police officer Doug Brock has been busy rebuilding his life. His fiancé suggests he attend an amnesia support group where he meets Sean Conner.  Sean approaches him after a meeting with a scrapbook of a murder victim that he found in his attic. Conner, who also has amnesia, has no idea who the girl is or why he might have made the scrapbook. Doug agrees to help and convinces his captain to open the cold case. When he discovers that he had a personal connection, suddenly he’s questioning everything he thought he knew about Sean and about his own past.

First Sentence:

His name was William Simmons, but no one he knew really cared about that. Social workers asked him for his name when they gave him a meal, or if he checked in for a cot on a particularly cold night, but they wrote it down without paying much attention.

Discussion:

It’s not really clear who this character is and how he fits into the story. We meet the protagonist, Doug Brock, in the second chapter.

What do you think? Have you ever read any of David Rosenfelt’s novels?

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