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#BookBeginnings Trace of Evil by Alice Blanchard

I just picked up Trace of Evil by Alice Blanchard 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

Trace of Evil* by Alice Blanchard

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Rookie police detective Natalie Lockhart wants to find out who killed Daisy Buckner, a schoolteacher whom everyone in their small Upstate New York community loved. The good news is Natalie has a suspect. The bad news is that the suspect lapsed into a coma right after Daisy’s death. Has she solved the case or is Daisy’s death somehow linked to the mysterious disappearance of nine transients?

First Sentence:

Detective Natalie Lockhart pulled into the cemetery and parked in front of a run-down church covered in ivy and twining vines, her hands tightening on the steering wheel. This part of the weed-choked graveyard was isolated and neglected.

Discussion:

The cover intrigued me, so I grabbed this at the library today. The premise indicates it is a police procedural novel, which I usually enjoy,  plus I wanted to find out more about the Upstate New York setting.

Why do you think she is visiting an old graveyard? Would you keep reading?

Calendar of Crime 2020: Jeopardy in January

Today’s review is part of the reading challenge called Calendar of Crime 2020 hosted by Bev at My Reader’s Block. 

Month: January

Jeopardy in January* by Camilla Chafer

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Category:  I chose a mystery with the month in the title.

Summary:  As the head of the Calendar Public Library, Sara Cutler is fighting to keep the lovely old building from being torn down by a real estate developer named Jason Rees. When she discovers her assistant dead in the rare books section, handsome Rees is on hand to keep Sara safe. Soon Sara’s life becomes complicated as she must solve the mystery of her assistant’s double life, save the library, and figure out what to do about Rees.

Review with Spoilers

At times I’ve been known to compare a book to food. In this case, I was looking for something light, such as the cozy mystery version of a salad. Jeopardy in January turned out to be a salad, but one of those iceberg lettuce versions you get in diners sometimes, the ones with a few hard, tasteless tomato wedges and perhaps a carrot shred or two. It is a salad, but you are disappointed the creator didn’t put in a tiny bit more effort, like adding some new ingredients or at least better lettuce.

In Jeopardy in January we are offered two men who serve as both love interest and potential killer. Two.  No red herrings, no non-love interest bad guys, no bad women, just those two.  That pretty much takes the joy out of the mystery.

I also expected a head librarian to talk about books once in awhile. Granted, she’s upset about the library being threatened and her assistant being killed, but when the readership is filled with book nerds, throw them a bone. Or because we’re doing salad, a bit of cucumber at least.

There are a few other things I noticed, but perhaps I’m being too harsh. On the whole the main character, Sara, was spunky and resourceful, plus the small town setting sounded delightful.  So, let’s say I was actually in the mood for coleslaw instead of a salad. Either that, or this review is sour grapes because I really wanted the harried police detective to get the girl in the end.

Public domain image by Marina Shemesh at Publicdomainpictures.net

#BookBeginnings Jeopardy in January by Camilla Chafer

Let’s take a look at Jeopardy in January by Camilla Chafer 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

Jeopardy in January* by Camilla Chafer

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  As the head of the Calendar Public Library, Sara Cutler is fighting to keep the building from being torn down by a real estate developer named Jason Rees. When she discovers her assistant dead in the rare books section, handsome Rees is on hand to keep Sara safe. Soon Sara’s life becomes complicated as she must solve the mystery of her assistant’s double life, save the library, and figure out what to do about Rees.

First Sentence:

Discussion:

I love novels set in libraries, but after reading this first paragraph I have to admit I was a bit disappointed.  The protagonist sounds young and immature rather than what I would expect for a head librarian. Hopefully it gets better.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

This novel is part of the Calendar of Crime 2020 challenge.

#BestsellerCode100: The Hit By David Baldacci

Time to discuss a novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list,

The Hit* by David Baldacci

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

The Hit is the second title in the Will Robie thriller series.

Summary: When a fellow CIA assassin Jessica Reel starts killing their colleagues, Will Robie accepts the task of hunting her down. Soon the clues aren’t adding up, and Robie must figure out who is telling the truth before he becomes the next target.

Review:

Right at the beginning we realize this novel is going to be a roller coaster ride because Baldacci sets up expectations that one thing is about to happen when “Bam!” there’s a big surprise. The plot continues to twist and turn throughout the book, until it is unexpected when things don’t twist.

Overall, it was a good read except for the very end, which  in my opinion was too forced. I won’t go into details, but it felt tacked on.

Notes:

In The Bestseller Code, the authors suggest that emotional beats are one characteristic of bestselling novels (like for example, in Fifty Shades of Gray). In this novel, however, the characters have the emotionalism of a sharks hunting prey. They are cold and calculating, and bury their emotions.

So, how did it make the list? It turns out that although the emotions don’t bounce up and down like a dribbling basketball, the pacing does. In a typical chapter there is a short burst of violent action with tight, terse pacing, then the rest of the chapter involves the character reflecting on what happened and what is going to occur next. It seems likely the computer algorithm picked up the action-reflection-action-reflection pattern.

The point of view also jumped between characters from chapter to chapter, but not as regularly or evenly as the pacing. Plus, frankly, the voices weren’t that different.  After all, the two main characters were both CIA assassins and it is their similarities that makes the story compelling;  two equals going head to head.

Bottom Line:

If you are a writer, check out how David Baldacci handles his characters’ reflections. They are undoubtedly  part of what makes this novel a bestseller.

Have you read The Hit by David Baldacci? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can also join us on social media:

Public domain photo courtesy photos-public-domain.com

#BookBeginnings The Hit by David Baldacci

Today we have one of the novels from The Bestseller Code 100 list, The Hit by David Baldacci 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-Baldacci

The Hit* by David Baldacci

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

The Hit is the second title in the Will Robie thriller series.

Summary:  When a fellow CIA assassin Jessica Reel starts killing their colleagues, Will Robie  accepts the task of hunting her down. Soon the clues aren’t adding up, and Robie must figure out who is telling the truth before he becomes the next target.

First Sentence:

Feeling energized by the death that was about to happen, Doug Jacobs adjusted his headset and brightened his computer screen.

Discussion:

Doesn’t that first line make you want to keep reading?

I’ve read far enough to know that what happens next is not expected.

Last week’s novel, Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich was on the same list of 100 bestsellers, but the two novels couldn’t be more different in voice.  Twelve Sharp was hot and emotional.  This one is cold, calculating, and denies emotions.  What a contrast.

Have you read any of David Baldacci’s thrillers ?

New Reading Challenge: Calendar of Crime 2020

Thanks to Margaret at BooksPlease, I just found about an intriguing reading challenge called Calendar of Crime 2020  hosted by Bev at My Reader’s Block.  This year’s Calendar of Crime runs from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

How to participate:

Check out the calendar of categories on the sign-up page, choose a mystery novel that fits one of the categories listed (each month has 9 different choices), read it, post a review and then link to that month’s  post.  You can choose any book under the “mystery” genre (from spy thriller to true crime to cozy) and there are no restrictions on publication date.

For example, one of the choices for January is to find a mystery with January in the title.  Let’s see what comes up in a search:

1. Jane Doe January: My Twenty-Year Search for Truth and Justice by Emily Winslow is a true crime memoir by the victim of a serial rapist.

2.  The Door to January by Gillian French was a 2018 Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel. Looks like it is a paranormal thriller?

I think I might keep looking for my choice this month, but you get the idea.

If you pick one category per month, you will read 12 new mysteries by the end of the year. Or you can pick two or three categories each month. Margaret read 42 novels for this challenge last year!

Hope you decide to join us! It should be fun.

#BookBeginnings Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Today we have one of the novels from The Bestseller Code 100 list, Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich 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-Evanovich

Twelve Sharp*by Janet Evanovich

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Twelve Sharp is number twelve in the long-running Stephanie Plum series. Each new novel features the series number in the title, starting with One for the MoneyTwisted Twenty-Six is the most recent.

Summary:  Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum spends her days trying to outwit criminals who have skipped bail plus figuring out what she should do about the two guys she’s attracted to, police detective Joe Morelli and the mysterious Ranger. When a crazy woman shows up and says she is Ranger’s wife, it should make her decision easier, but soon it is evident things just got way more complicated.

First Sentences:

When I was twelve years old I accidentally substituted salt for sugar in a cake recipe. I baked a cake, iced the cake, and served it up. It looked like a cake, but as soon as you cut into it and took a taste, you knew something was going on. People are like that, too.

Discussion:

Okay, the writer-geek in me adores that Evanovich worked the word “twelve “into her first sentence. Isn’t that clever?

Previously I have read maybe the first five of this series, so when Twelve Sharp showed up on The Bestseller Code list of 100 best books (picked by a computer algorithm) I knew I wanted to read it.

Wow. I had forgotten who much I loved Evanovich’s snarky humor and her awesome use of the “will they or won’t they?” trope. I’m such a sucker for that.

In case you were wondering, Twelve Sharp works well as a stand alone because she takes time to introduce everything and everyone you need to know to enjoy it.

Have you read any of the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich?

Happy New Year! Celebration With A Dance

In celebration of 2020, let’s dance.

 

This dance is mesmerizing to me for a number of reasons.

I love how the costumes and movements play with gender. If the male dancers all had long hair (or the females short), it would be difficult to tell them apart. The dancers’ muscles ripple in the same way when they move, etc. Also, at one point the male dancers leap into the female dancers’ arms in a blatant role reversal. It makes me smile as well, however, because based on the occasional close up glimpse of female-specific body parts, I suspect the camera person didn’t get the gender-neutral memo from the choreographer.

As a biologist, I also noticed that many of the movements mimic bird courtship behaviors. Amazing.

What do you see in this dance?

 

 

#BookBeginnings N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season

Today I’m reading N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season 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 Fifth Season* (The Broken Earth #1) by N. K. Jemisin

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Won the Hugo Award in 2016

If you’ve read this book, you realize it is hard to summarize without spoilers. Here’s my best attempt:

Summary:  Against the backdrop of a earthquake that rips apart the world called Stillness, Essun finds that her own world is shattered as well. Her husband has killed her son, and he and her daughter have disappeared. How will she survive?

First Sentence Chapter 1:

You are she. She is you. You are Essun. Remember? The woman whose son is dead.

Discussion:

I like the short sentences at the beginning. To me, the brevity gives it a primal feel.

What do you think? Have you read any books by N. K. Jemisin?  Have you read this series?

 

#BookBeginnings The Ice Dragon by George R. R. Martin

Today I pulled out The Ice Dragon by George R. R. Martin 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-George R. R. Martin

The Ice Dragon* by George R. R. Martin and illustrated by Luis Royo

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  When the fiery dragons swoop in and threaten Adara’s community, she has a secret — in the form of an ice dragon — that could help stave off destruction.

First Sentence:

Adara liked the winter best of all, for when the world grew cold, the ice dragon came.

Discussion:

If you’ve never heard of The Ice Dragon, be prepared that this is not George R.R. Martin’s usual giant tome. Instead it is a wisp of a novella; it is short and sweet.

I have read this before and it really moved me. That’s why I like to pick it up again once in awhile.

My thoughts:

I absolutely love, love the illustrations. They are breathtaking. The way the words flow has a special quality, too.

I also love that the story has flaws. It reminds me of a really old pane of glass, one that is full of bubbles and is so wavy your view through it is a bit distorted. If you expect a piece of glass to be clear and straight and perfect in a modern way, then you will be disappointed. But if you appreciate that not everything needs to be perfect to be beautiful, then this is the book for you.

Here’s a snippet to help you decide.

What do you think? Have you read The Ice Dragon? Are you a George R. R. Martin fan?

 

 

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