#BookBeginnings Never Tell by Lisa Gardner

Let’s take a look at the novel Never Tell by Lisa Gardner 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-Lisa Gardener

Never Tell*by Lisa Gardner

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

Summary:  When a pregnant woman named Evie Carter is found next to her dead husband holding a gun in her hand, Detective D.D. Warren realizes she has encountered Carter at a prior crime scene. Years before Evie confessed to accidentally shooting her father. Was the previous case actually murder? Is  this case as open and shut as it appears?

First Sentence:

By the time I pull my car into the garage, my hands are shaking on the wheel. I tell myself I have no reason to feel so nervous.

Discussion:

Evie is the narrator of the first scene. It really grabbed me and made me want to know what was going on. Including the viewpoints of those caught up in the crime — not just those investigating — is one of Lisa Gardner’s strengths (see previous review of Hide).

I picked this novel up at the airport because I’d already finished the novel I had intended to read on the flight. I’m glad I did! It was engrossing enough to make the time fly (pun intended?), but wasn’t so complicated that I’d lose track of the plot whenever I got interrupted. I would call this the perfect airplane read.

What do you think? Have you read any of Lisa Gardner’s novels?

What is your favorite airline novel?

#BookBeginnings Louise Penny’s A Better Man

Yay! I scored a copy of Louise Penny’s newest, A Better Man, from the library for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

book-beginnings-Louise Penny

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!

 

A Better Man by Louise Penny

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:   Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is back at the Sûreté du Québec, but it hasn’t been an easy return. He’s under attack in social media, he’s in a delicate position because he’s been given equal rank to his own son-in-law, plus spring floods threaten. An assignment to look for a young woman who is missing seems like it might be a welcome respite from his problems. Or is it?

First Sentence:

The novel starts with two apparent tweets:

What’s happened to Clara Morrow? She used to be a great artist. #MorrowSucks

Are you kidding me? They let him back in the Sûreté? #SûretéSux

Discussion:

The tweets are part of a theme of this novel. Throughout Louise Penny raises awareness of the impact of unkindness of social networks, perhaps in response to some readers who have posted not so pleasant tweets about herself or her books? Let’s hope the studies that show reading novels increases empathy have some merit.

Penny always has strong settings, but in this one man-vs-nature comes into play in a big way in the form of floods.

What do you think? Would your keep reading?

#BookBeginnings My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My novel today is My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

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!

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

 

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Korede’s spoiled and beautiful sister Ayoola has a habit of killing her boyfriends. Up to now Korede has dutifully cleaned up her sister’s messes. When her sister catches the eye of the handsome doctor Korede has a crush on, however, she begins to question where her loyalties lie.

First Sentence:

Ayoola summons me with these words — Korede, I killed him.

I had hoped I would never hear those words again.

Discussion:

I picked up this novel because it is the title the Writer Unboxed Facebook group plans to dissect on Oct. 24-27.  Writer Unboxed is a long running and highly informative blog for writers.  The Facebook group reads a novel together and discusses it from a writer’s perspective.

Plus, I have to admit the title made me curious.

What do you think? Would read about a character who covers up for a serial killer?

Poetic License (Plates)

Time to take some poetic license.

If you spend way too much time in the car like I do, you probably see vanity license plates every day. Here’s a challenge:  Assemble some of those license plates into haiku-like poems.

For example, these actual vanity plates

  • LEOPARD
  • FLAWLESS
  • SILENCE

can be rearranged to become the poem

Flawless leopard
Stalks its prey
Silence

In a similar theme, the license plates

  • X3X
  • ANCHOVY
  • FORTUNA

with a little “poetic license” become:

Three anchovies
Four tuna
X anchovies
X tuna

Think about it.

One day I saw in the same parking lot

  • 1Run100
  • GOOD4EWE

I run 100 K
Good for you

That is a a nicer pair than:

Be a duck…
Kabob

UBETCYA

 

 

Have you seen an poetic license (plates) today?

#BookBeginnings J. Todd Scott’s This Side of Night

Today I’m sharing  This Side of Night 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!

book-beginnings-Gershkowitz

This Side of Night by J. Todd Scott

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

This Side of Night, the recently-released third novel in J. Todd Scott’s series set in the Big Bend area of Texas, starts with a brutal attack on a busload of students in Mexico. Soon the violent event sends repercussions across the border to where Sheriff Chris Cherry and his deputies America Reynosa and Danny Ford are investigating the deaths of five men found along the river, and at the same time fending off the suspicions of El Paso DEA agent Joe Garrison.

By the way, the author knows his stuff. J. Todd Scott works full time as a senior supervisory agent for the DEA and writes novels in his “spare” time.

First Sentence of the Prologue:

When they shot Castel in the face, Chayo knew they were going to kill them all.

The prologue sets the tone. This is going to be steely crime fiction.

First Sentence of Chapter One:

It started with two eggs and an iron skillet, and went downhill from there.

 Scott can be as deceptive as his characters. Just as you are expecting a written-by-a-law enforcement-specialist flavor, he slips in some witty or vibrant prose that says “literary master” and takes your breath away.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

I snagged this book at a signing with the author. Check it out:

 

Boot-Rock-J. Todd Scott

Public Domain Photograph, Big Bend National Park.

#BookBeginnings A Yummy Memoir: Save Me the Plums

Today I used my birthday month discount at Changing Hands Bookstore to snag a signed copy of Ruth Reichl’s delicious memoir Save Me the Plums 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

Save Me the Plums* by by Ruth Reichl

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Ruth Reichl had started reading Gourmet magazine at eight years old, so when the management called many years later (1998) to offer her the position of editor in chief, of course she turned it down. But like re-connecting with a childhood sweetheart, once she accepted the magazine job, it transformed her life.

First Sentence:

I was eight years old when I first found the magazine, sitting on the dusty floor of a used-book store. My father was a book designer who enjoyed the company of ancient volumes and he often took me on book-hunting expeditions around New York, leaving me with a pile of vintage magazines while he went off to prowl among the dark and crowded shelves.

Discussion:

Who wants to go to New York and visit this bookstore right now? What a fun upbringing for a writer/editor!

This is a yummy memoir. I started devouring it this afternoon and couldn’t stop. The sensory descriptions of food are incredible. Plus Reichl knows how to capture the reader as only a master storyteller can.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Do you like to read memoirs?

#BookBeginnings Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky

Let’s take a look at Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky for Book Beginnings on Fridays. It has been way too long since I’ve joined in.

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

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  In the latest in the Jackson Brodie mystery series, Jackson has moved to a seaside village and is working as a private investigator. He juggles dealing with his rebellious teenage son while investigating an unfaithful husband. Before long he is juggling much more as he tries to untangle a complicated web of interwoven cases.

First Sentence:

“So, what now?” he asked.

“A quick getaway,” she said, shucking off the fancy shoes into the passenger footwell. “They were killing me,” she said and gave him a rueful smile because they’d cost a fortune. He knew — he’d paid for them. She had already removed her bridal veil and tossed it onto the back seat, along with her bouquet, and bow she began to struggle with the thicket of grips in her hair.

Discussion:

This is such an intriguing way to start a book. Later in the page we learn she is pregnant, but before the end of the page the man says, “It’s not what it looks like.”

What do you think? Would you read on?

Are you a fan of the Jackson Brodie series?

 

 

Kate-Atkinson-Big-Sky

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Must-Buy Authors

The topic for Top Ten Tuesday this week — hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl blog — is Auto-Buy Authors.

Auto-buy authors are the ones that you absolutely must buy a copy whenever they publish a new book. It’s a given.

1. When author J. Todd Scott publishes a new book, not only am I willing to  buy it, but I’m willing to pay full price at a bookstore  so I can have it signed.

This Side of Night

2. I share Michael Connelly’s novels with my stepfather, so I always purchase a copy.

The Late Show*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

3. I have spent a pretty penny on Louise Penny’s novels over the years.

A Better Man (2019) – coming in August


4. I’m a sucker for Sujata Massey’s mysteries. Love the settings.

The Pearl Diver* by Sujata Massey


(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

5. J. T. Ellison’s twisty action-packed novels are a blast to read.

Tear Me Apart

No Longer Auto-Buy:

6. J.K. Rowling used to be an auto-buy author for me, but her last one written as Robert Galbraith (Lethal White, link to review) had some huge flaws, so I’ll wait for reviews before buying from now on.

Lethal White* by Robert Galbraith

(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

 

I wish some of these authors were still available:

7. The Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorthy Gilman is unbeatable.

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax*by Dorothy Gilman

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

8. Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series stands out.

9. Agatha Christie was the grande dame of mysteries.

10.  P.D. James novels took you on a journey, sometimes fast, but usually leisurely.

This was another fun prompt.

Do you have any authors you enjoy so much that you auto-buy their books?

Reviews: Two More Ruth Galloway Mysteries

Over the recent holiday I read the second and third Ruth Galloway Mysteries by Elly Griffiths. See the author post for more information about the series.

Number 2. The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

In The Janus Stone, construction workers uncover the bones of a child buried under the foundation of a structure. Ruth Galloway investigates and figures out the death is decades old, not centuries old. She and Detective Nelson search for the previous owners of the house and the child’s identity.

Number 3. The House at Sea’s End by Elly Griffiths

When workers recording beach erosion uncover a mass grave, it is Ruth Galloway’s job to figure out how six men ended up bound, shot and buried there.

Quick Notes with Spoilers:

Both books feature the things that attracted me to the first novel, the compelling characters, the Norfolk setting, and the use of the present tense to give the action an immediate feel.

Although I enjoyed the second novel, there was some repetition of plot from the first.

By the third novel, however, the plot became a clone of the previous one, even though the victims were very different and the main character’s circumstances had changed drastically. In the climax scene, Ruth Galloway trudged  off to get captured by the villain on a boat, exactly like what happened in the second novel.  Once again Detective Nelson throws himself into the water to rescue her, but instead endangers himself, again the same scenario as the second novel.

I was particularly disappointed when Ruth Galloway chose to go off to meet the villain, when she had a compelling reason to go home to be with her child. The boat wasn’t that exciting a find, and to leave her child after her friend had just chided her for being an inattentive mother seemed weak and self-centered.

Personally, I thought the plot would have been stronger and more believable if Detective Nelson put himself in danger and Ruth figured out she needed to go save him.  That would have been a credible reason for Ruth to leave her child. According to the blurb for the next novel, Detective Nelson becomes ill and is in danger. So, perhaps I am being prescient?

 

 

Ruth Galloway Mystery

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Childhood Favorites

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday at That Artsy Reader Girl blog.

The topic this week is top ten childhood favorites. (Linked covers from Amazon, where I’m an affiliate).

1. Both my sister and I loved, loved, loved The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.


It was the first book I remember reading where the author spoke directly to the reader. I have never re-read it because I’m afraid to change the wonderful memories I have of it.

2. Mother Goose Rhymes

Probably the earliest book I can remember. Our copy became very tattered from use over the years.

3. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss


I remember first reading this one at my cousin’s house. We all giggled.

4. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

A teacher read this to my class, which wasn’t fair because some of us cried in front of our classmates.

5. Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene

I’m showing my age, I’m afraid. These definitely shaped my early interest in reading mysteries, along with Agatha Christie.

6. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell


Sometimes a book stands out not because it is wonderful, but because the content is disturbing and it requires further processing.  Black Beauty is definitely one of those.

It’s amazing that so many of these older favorites are still available.

7. Disclaimer:  I was a precocious and voracious reader, so some of the ones that stand out in my memory probably aren’t traditional young children’s books, like my grandfather’s Zane Grey books.

I distinctly remember the descriptions of the western landscape. I felt like I was riding right along with the main character. Looking back now, I’m not sure how much else I got out of them.

8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Spoiler: Clearest memory from the book is the girl who turned into a giant blueberry.

9.  My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

I’m not sure how well this one stands the test of time, but I remember it being thrilling when I read it as a child.

10. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

 

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