Tag: Book Beginnings (Page 1 of 15)

#BookBeginnings The Searcher by Tana French

Let’s explore The Searcher 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 Searcher* by Tana French

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

Summary:  Former Chicago police detective Cal Hooper moves to a quiet, rural Irish village after retires, where he plans to fix up a run-down house and do a lot of fishing. Before long, however, he is drawn into investigating the disappearance of a local teenager who no one misses except his family — particularly his sibling, Trey. Can Cal unravel the truth among the tangle of village secrets ?

First Sentence:

When Cal comes out of the house, the rooks have got hold of something. Six of them are clustered on the back lawn, amid the long wet grass and the yellow-flowered weeds, jabbing and hopping.

Discussion:

Tana French’s novels have been described as literary suspense. Literary works can be defined in part by beautifully written descriptions, and French’s description of the rooks’ behavior in the beginning of Chapter One gives me chills. If you know birds, it rings true, but it also works to set the tone and establish setting, among other things.

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The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

Leftover raindrops tick in the hedges; small birds hop and peck in the grass. Cal saws, measures, chisels out dadoes and grooves, and gives Trey the fine sandpaper when he’s done with the coarse one. He can feel the kid glancing at him, the same way he was glancing at the kid, assessing.

 

It was harder to notice in the first quote, but the novel is written in the present tense. However, nothing in a Tana French novel is simple. She plays verb tense like a first chair violinist plays classical music.

Overall, the literary flavor might not appeal to readers of genre suspense and mystery who prefer a tightly-written plot. Tana French’s novels tend to wander through  the woods, allowing you to soak up the atmosphere.  Wanderng can be enjoyable if you know what to expect and that’s what you want to do, but maddening if not.

What do you think? Do you like literary fiction? Have you read any novels by Tana French? Would you read this one?

 

A rook is a type of crow (Public domain photo from Wikimedia)

#BookBeginnings A Song for the Dark Times: An Inspector Rebus Novel

Let’s take a look at  A Song for the Dark Times: An Inspector Rebus Novel by Ian Rankin 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 Song for the Dark Times: An Inspector Rebus Novel* by Ian Rankin

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  John Rebus has retired from the police. Therefore, when his daughter calls to tell him her husband is missing, he can drop everything to go stay with her. Once he arrives, however,  he has to walk a fine line between being a father and being a police detective who might not want the truth uncovered.

First Sentence Prologue:

Siobhan Clarke walked through the emptied flat. Not that it was empty; rather the life had been sucked from it.

First Sentence Day One:

Siobhan Clarke woke to a text from Rebus. She decided it could wait until she made coffee.

Discussion:

I haven’t started reading yet, so I’m not sure how Siobhan Clarke fits into the picture. Rebus’s daughter is Samantha.

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The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

Day Two

Rebus had awoken on the sofa to find a pair of eyes watching him intently.

“Where’s my daddy?” Carrie asked softly.

 

What do you think? Have you read any of Ian Rankin’s John Rebus books?

#BookBeginnings Finlay Donovan is Killing It

Let’s take a look at the riotous book Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano 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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Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Blurb:   Finlay Donovan is a writer and single mom whose life has spun out of control. She has a looming contract for a novel, but instead of writing she has to figure out what happened to the nanny and how to get to a meeting with her agent on time. When someone mistakes her conversation about a crime in her novel with real life, things go hilariously down hill.

First Sentence:

It’s a widely known fact that most moms are ready to kill someone by eight thirty A.M. on any given morning.

Discussion:

Oh yes, this sets the tone for the book perfectly. Anyone who has ever been a mom will undoubtedly relate to the chaos of this first scene.

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The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

I held him steady as he plopped down on the floor in front of Zach’s car seat, apple juice and Goldfish cracker goo sticking to the backside of his expensive suit as I pushed him backward with promises of the good time waiting for him if he climbed inside and laid down on the floor like a good boy.

As you might guess from this quote, this novel is a lively walk on the wild side.

I really enjoyed the freshness of this book. I will warn you, however, that at times Cosimano pushes right up against the hard cliff of believability.  At certain points I struggled to suspend disbelief, but I never felt it was enough to drop me out of the book or make me quit reading. You may have a different line.

I didn’t write down who in the group previously recommended this, but thank you for the recommendation.

What do you think? Would you like to read this? Have you ever struggled to suspend disbelief in a novel?

#BookBeginnings Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

 

Today I’m highlighting a book that kept me up at night, Before She Disappeared 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!

 

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Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Frankie Elkin looks for missing persons. It is her obsession. The only problem is that she is an ordinary woman, without training, support, or credentials. Understandably, both the families of the missing and the police distrust her.  When she travels to a Boston neighborhood to look for a girl who disappeared after school, she has to watch for danger around every corner so she doesn’t go missing as well.

First Sentence:

The water feels like a cold caress against my face. I kick deeper down into the gloom, my long hair trailing behind me like a dark eel. I am wearing clothes…Why am I wearing clothes?

Discussion:

Lisa Gardner plays with the trope where a body is supposed to show up in the first scene in mysteries. Is the narrator a victim? Or is she something else? Is what is happening even real?

For me, it worked. I was pulled in, wanting to know what was going on. However, I could see how some readers might find it too disorienting or disturbing.

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The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

If I hold in my head where I want to go, my feet take me in the right direction. One glance at the map, however, and all bets are off. Maybe because the transit map bears no resemblance to surface street. It offers an oversimplified series of blue, green, red, and yellow spines that are far too neat for the reality of an overgrown historic district bristling with random byways.

I picked this quote because it seems to me that Gardner is revealing something deeper than just how the transit map works.

What do you think? Have you read anything by Lisa Gardner? Would this one keep you up at night?

#BookBeginnings The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

 

I’ve been immersed in the world of children’s picture books, so it is time for a novel. Let’s take a look at The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See 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 Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  This is a historical fiction novel about two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju named Mi-ja and Young-sook. Although their backgrounds are very different, the two become close friends and train to become haenyeo, the famed female divers the island is known for. However, when their close friendship is put to the test by outside forces, one of the young women makes a decision that throws their lives into turmoil.

First Sentence:

Day 1:  2008

An old woman sits on the beach, a cushion strapped to her bottom, sorting algae that has washed ashore, She’s used to spending time in the water, but even on land she’s vigilant to the environment around her. Jeju is her home, an island known for Three Abundances:  wind, stones, and women.

Discussion:

Although I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, I chose this book because I am interested in the setting and the culture of the Korean female divers. I read a memoir about the daughter of a diver who eventually made her way to Texas and it “wet” my appetite for more (sorry). Plus, Lisa See presented at the virtual Tucson Book Festival this month and I wanted to learn more about her books.

According to the chapter headings, the novel weaves back and forth between two threads. One thread is narrow, covering a few days in 2008, the other goes back to 1938 and chronicles the broad history up to 1975.

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The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

“We are not bad people,” the lieutenant interrupted. “We’ve had to crack down on troublemakers, but we are husbands and fathers too”

Sounds like part of those “outside forces” that are going to test the girls’ friendship.

What do you think? Have you read anything by Lisa See? Do you like historical fiction? Would you read this one?

#BookBeginnings Shamed by Linda Castillo

I’m reading this month’s pick by our library’s mystery discussion group, Shamed by Linda Castillo, 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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Shamed by Linda Castillo

Summary:  The 11th novel in the Kate Burkholder series starts with the murder of an Amish grandmother. Soon Kate earns that the woman’s seven-year-old granddaughter is missing. Kate sets off in a race against time to find the girl, but discovers the family, upstanding and respected members of the Amish community, are not telling her all that they know.

First Sentence Prologue:

No one went to the old Schattenbaum place anymore. No one had lived there since the flood back in 1969 washed away the crops and swept the outhouse and one of the barns into Painters Creek.

Love how the sense of place is evoked with the names.

First Sentence:

You see a lot of things when you’re the chief of police in a small town. Things most other people don’t know about — don’t want to know about — and are probably better off for it.

Discussion:

The prologue is in third person with past tense verbs, which gives it a bit of narrative distance. That’s good because  is about the murder, which is quite gruesome. The rest is mostly told in the first person from the point of view of the protagonist Kate Burkholder and present tense, which feels really immediate. I admire anyone who can write in the present tense. It pulls you in and speeds right along.

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The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

The younger man’s eyes dart left and right, as if he’s looking for an escape route in case I attack. He’s just realized where this is going and he doesn’t like it.

When I was looking for the quote, I realized Castillo sprinkles in many words of Deitsch, the language of the Amish.

What do you think? Have you read any books by Linda Castillo?

#BookBeginnings Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Let’s take a look at Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz 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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Magpie Murders* by Anthony Horowitz

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

A few weeks ago  I dipped my toe into metafiction with The Eighth Detective.  It is an interesting take on a mystery novel, so I dug up another example. Anthony Horowitz has been dabbling in metafiction mystery novels lately, mixing fictional reality and fictional fiction in interesting ways.

Summary:  Alan  Conway writes wildly successful British mysteries featuring detective Atticus Pünd. When his editor, Susan Ryeland, begins to read his newest manuscript, she becomes suspicious there’s more to the story than has been found in the earlier books, one that might involve a real murder.

First Sentence of Magpie Murders by Anthony Horwitz

A bottle of wine. A family-sized packet of Nacho Cheese Flavoured Tortilla Chips and a jar of hot salsa dip. A packet of cigarettes on the side (I know, I know). The rain hammering against the windows. And a book.

The book starts with a chapter from editor Susan Ryeland’s point of view as she sits down to read the manuscript. Except for the cigarettes, it sounds like a good day to me.

First Sentence of Magpie Murders by Alan Conway:

23 July 1955

There was going to be a funeral.

Okay, this is a bit mind boggling. After the first chapter comes a title page (with the same title but a different author, no less), about the author page, book blurbs, everything that you’d expect in a real book. In fact, it took me a few minutes to figure out where things actually started. I had to page back and forth a few times.

What’s really freaky is that the page numbering starts again for the manuscript, except the numbers are found at the bottom rather than the top of the page. The 56 is going to be inside the manuscript text.

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The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

‘He’d kill me,’ she replied. She smiled curiously. ‘Actually, he did try to kill me in a way — after our last row. ‘

It is weird to be looking for clues to more than one mystery within the text. There are the clues to the inside the manuscript mystery — as typically presented in a novel — and the clues to the outside of the manuscript mystery.  Which are which?

I’m beginning to think metafiction is going to require a whole new set of vocabulary words to describe the different layers.

What do you think? Would you give this a try? Have you read anything by Anthony Horowitz?

#BookBeginnings The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

 

In a real visit to the library, I picked up The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi to read 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

The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:   When editor Julia Hart contacts retired mathematics professor Grant McAllister about republishing the book of seven mystery stories he had written 30 years ago, he agrees. As they read through the old stories, Julia notices inconsistencies. Are the problems mistakes or are they clues to a real life mystery?

First Sentence:

Spain, 1930

The two suspects sat on mismatched furniture in the white and almost featureless lounge, waiting for something to happen.

Discussion:

Based on the date, this is the first story of main character McAllister’s book, therefore a fictional book within a book of fiction.  I love the layer upon layer aspects of metafiction, so I’m excited to get started with this one. I’m already seeing possibilities for deeper meaning.

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The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

“Morning, Maggie,” she said to her sister. “What are you two doing?”

Rose stood up. “It’s afternoon, silly.”

Discussion:

Based on the names of the characters, this is likely another of McAllister’s stories . I haven’t read this far, so I’m not sure what is going on. I do wonder about the mistake with the time of day.

What do you think? Do you enjoy metafiction? Have you read this book?

#BookBeginnings And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall

Today let’s look at And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall 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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And Now She’s Gone* by Rachel Howzell Hall

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:   Novice private investigator Grayson Sykes’ job is to track down Isabel Lincoln, whose doctor boyfriend is concerned about Isabel’s mysterious disappearance. Grayson  is new to investigating, so new that when her pen runs out during her first interview, she’s too embarrassed to ask to borrow one.  Will she be able to unravel Isabel’s secrets and find her, even if she might not want to be found?

First Sentence:

She had to do it.
She had to glance in her rearview mirror.
Because a black SUV was rolling up behind her.

Discussion:

What do you think about the fact we have no idea who this character is? Is it confusing or does it make you want to know more? Often mysteries and thrillers start with the victim’s death. So is this the woman, Isabel, who is missing? Or someone else?

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The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

Pens — I need pens.

Who knew private investigators needed so many pens?

I like how the running pen gag gives a little levity to tense scenes and also keeps reminding us that Gray is new to this.

A few weeks back I read Rachel Howzell Hall’s Land of Shadows (prev. post) and enjoyed both her main character’s fresh voice and her vivid, inventive descriptions. So far, this one has the same strengths.

What do you think? Have you read any of Rachel Howzell’s novels?

#BookBeginnings Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

Today I’m reading Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall 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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Land of Shadows* by Rachel Howzell Hall

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

 

Summary:  When a young girl is killed and left at a construction site, Homicide detective Elouise Norton is immediately suspicious  of the owner, who had been linked to the disappearance of Norton’s older sister twenty-five years prior. Norton is determined to get answers this time, but at what cost?

First Sentence:

Two hundred and six bones make up the adult human skeleton.

Discussion:

Over the last six months, I’ve attended many virtual book and writing events, and I’ve discovered so many new authors I want to read. I’d seen Rachel Hall at a couple of events and she seemed intriguing, so I decided I’d try the first book in her Lou Norton series. This first line does not disappoint.

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The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.

 

I called Joey Jackson over and told him to take the warrant request to the courthouse and hand it to Judge Keener as soon as she popped her first can of Diet Coke.

 

This is a pretty standard police procedural, but the author drops in fresh descriptions and details that make it enjoyable. Can’t you just see the judge drinking Diet Coke to fortify her against her busy day?

What do you think? Have you found any new authors via virtual events?

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