Tag: Book Beginnings (page 2 of 4)

#BookBeginnings Danielle Steel’s The Klone and I

Today we’re looking forward to starting the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challenge, The Klone and I by Danielle Steel 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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Danielle Steel’s The Klone and I*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

This is one of the oldest books on the challenge list, published in 1998.

Summary:  When her husband of thirteen years leaves,  Stephanie isn’t ready for the dating world. That is, until she meets someone during a spontaneous trip to Paris. Has she finally found her match?

First Sentence:

My first, and thus far only, marriage ended exactly two days before Thanksgiving.

Discussion:

Although she is wildly popular, I have never read anything written by Danielle Steel before.

Even though it is a sad time for Stephanie, the way the first scene is written made me nod my head and at times chuckle. I liked the first person voice. It made me feel like I was talking to a close girlfriend.

Without giving too much away, at about 100 pages things change abruptly.  Although authors are supposed to defy readers’ expectations half way through the book, this was way too much. I’ve read that the first sentence/scene/chapter should set the tone for the book, like the author’s promise to the reader:  “If you like this, you’ll like the rest of the book because it will be the same.” In this case, the promise was broken.

Do you think the first chapter should set the tone for the book? Have you ever read a book that changed tone so much you no longer enjoyed it?

#BookBeginnings Easy Prey by John Sandford

Today we’re featuring the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challenge, Easy Prey by John Sandford 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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Easy Prey* by John Sandford


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:   A glamorous supermodel is killed at a party and police detective Lucas Davenport gets the call. Not only does he have to deal with a media frenzy over his case, but things go from bad to worse when another body shows up and one of his men becomes the main suspect.

This is the 11th novel in the “Prey” mystery series.

First Sentence:

When the first man woke up that morning, he wasn’t thinking about killing anyone.

Discussion:

That sets the tone for a mystery, doesn’t it? The man isn’t identified, but it sounds like he may be a killer before the day is out. Also, how many more men that might kill someone are there, if he’s only the first?

So far this book could be called “Easy Read” instead of Easy Prey. It goes down like candy, in stark contrast to our previous Bestseller Code challenge book, World War Z. Thank you, John Sandford.

What do you think? Have you read any of John Sandford’s books?

#BookBeginnings The Far Empty by J. Todd Scott

Let’s take a look at The Far Empty by J. Todd Scott 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 Far Empty* by J. Todd Scott

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

I picked up this book because J. Todd Scott is a local author who is coming to visit our writing group next week. The Far Empty has been touted as a “Western crime novel.”

The author is a federal agent who has worked for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for over twenty years.

Blurb:   When skeletal remains are discovered in a small Texas border town, both seventeen-year-old Caleb Ross and sheriff’s deputy Chris Cherry suspect the young man’s father, Sheriff Ross, is the murderer.

First Sentence:

My father has killed three men.

Discussion:

I think that lets the reader know what to expect right up front.

You can’t really tell from only one sentence, but from what I’ve read so far it appears that each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character.

Don’t you think it sounds like both main characters have a lot to lose if the Sheriff is involved?


#BookBeginnings World War Z by Max Brooks

Today we’re featuring the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challenge, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks 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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Max Brooks’s World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War*  (2007)

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:   World War Z is an example of an epistolary novel.  It is written as a collection of witness accounts of the survivors of a zombie apocalypse.

First Sentence:

It goes by many names:  “The Crisis,” “The Dark Years,” “The Walking Plague,” as well as newer and more “hip” titles such as “World War Z” or “Z War One.”

Discussion:

The quote is from the “Introduction,” which reads like the introduction of a nonfiction book.

Neither my co-blogger, Karen, nor I are fans of horror, so this is going to be challenging for us to read. Hopefully the journalistic voice will help distance the reader from the more gruesome events.

Zombies were a popular topic when this book was written. Do you think it has remained relevant?

Have you read this book? What do you think?

#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

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

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.

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