Monday, January 30, 2023

New Books for February Reading -- MAILBOX MONDAY



Do you generally buy new or used books? The books that come my way, while "new to me," are not usually new copies. I almost always buy used books (I'm particularly fond of library shops). But the universe conspired to bring four new books to me last week.

  • The King's General by Daphne du Maurier I'm reading for a buddy read with some bookstagrammer friends. We've been reading a du Maurier book each month since November and The King's General is our February book. I needed a copy to start reading this past weekend so got this one when I was at Powell's last week. 
  • The Promise of a Normal Life by Rebecca Kaiser Gibson launches on February 7 and sounds so wonderful that I jumped at the offer of a review copy. It is a coming of age story about a young Jewish-American woman who encounters adventure and colorful characters as she crisscrosses the US and the ocean to Israel, eventually finding herself on her journey.
  • Thirst by K.L. Barron is another new book that sounded too good to pass up. I was happy to accept a review copy of this fascinating novel about a young woman living among the nomadic Tuareg people in Niger.
  • The Maid by Nita Prose seems incredibly popular right now, so I was excited that my book club picked it for our next read. But it is so popular that there is a four-month wait for the audiobook from my library and used copies are selling for the same as new ones. I hope it lives up to the hype. We've had a bad streak at book club of picking popular books no one in book club ended up liking. 


What books came into your house recently?

Join other book lovers on Mailbox Monday to share the books that came into your house lately. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts. You can also find the hosts' favorites at posts titled Books that Caught Our Eye.

Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf, and Emma of Words and Peace graciously host Mailbox Monday.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

The King's General by Daphne de Maurier -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


Thank you for joining me each week on Friday to share the opening sentence (or so) from the book you are reading. Feel free to share instead from a book that caught your fancy or you feel like highlighting. Please hop around and visit the other participants!


September, 1653. The last of summer. The first chill winds of autumn.

-- from The King's General by Daphne de Maurier. Each sentence was so short —  and not even a complete sentence — that I wanted to give more than one! I understand why authors like those sorts of staccato openings, using several short sentences or fragments like brushstrokes to paint a scene. But I admit my preference is for full, shaggy opening sentences full of actual story. 

In this case, I don't think I'll have to wait long to get to heart of this plot-driven historical fiction novel set on the Cornish coast during the English Revolution. I'm reading The King's General as part of an ongoing buddy read project on Instagram where a group of us are reading through several Daphne du Maurier books. 


Please add the link to your book beginning post in the Linky box below. Use the hashtag #bookbeginnings if you share on social media.

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Freda at Freda's Voice hosts another teaser event on Fridays. Participants share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of the book they are reading -- or from 56% of the way through the audiobook or ebook. Please visit Freda's Voice for details and to leave a link to your post.


From The King's General:
That Richard should ill use his wife because he could not trifle with her property was an ugly fact to face, but, having some inkling of his worse self, I guessed this to be true. He had married her without love, and in much bitterness of heart, and she, suspecting his motive, had taken care to disappoint him.
Well, that doesn't sound like a happy state of affairs!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Saul Bellow Bibliography -- BOOK LIST



Saul Bellow (1915 to 2005) may have been born in Canada, but he was an American treasure. He won the Pulitzer Prize once and the National Book Award three times. In 1976, when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish Nobel Committee described his work:
The structure is apparently loose-jointed, but for this very reason gives the author ample opportunity for descriptions of different societies; they have a rare vigour and stringency, and a swarm of colourful, clearly-defined characters against a background of carefully observed and depicted settings, whether it is the magnificent façades of Manhattan in front of the backyards of the slums and semi-slums, Chicago’s impenetrable jungle of unscrupulous businessmen intimately intertwined with efficient criminal gangs, or the more literal jungle in the depths of Africa, where the novel, Henderson the Rain King, the writer’s most imaginative expedition takes place. In a nutshell, they are all stories on the move, and, like the first book, are about a man with no foothold. But (and it is important to add this) a man who keeps on trying to find a foothold during his wanderings in our tottering world, one who can never relinquish his faith that the value of life depends on its dignity, not on its success, and that the truth must triumph at last, simply because it demands everything except – triumphs. That is the way of thinking in which Saul Bellow’s “anti-heroes” have their foundation and acquire their lasting stature.
Bellow is a real favorite of mine. Henderson the Rain King didn't do anything for me, but I think Hertzog and Humbolt's Gift are wonderful.

Here is a list of Bellow's books, from most recent to oldest, with notes about whether I've read it, it is on my TBR shelf, or if it is available from my library as an audiobook. 

There is Simply Too Much to Think About (2015) (essays and criticism) FINISHED

Saul Bellow: Letters, edited by Benjamin Taylor, (2010) (correspondence)

Collected Stories (2001) (short stories)

Ravelstein (2000) FINISHED

The Actual (1997) (novella) TBR SHELF

It All Adds Up: From the Dim Past to the Uncertain Future (1994) (essays) TBR SHELF

Something to Remember Me By: Three Tales (1991) (short stories) TBR SHELF

The Bellarosa Connection (1989)

A Theft (1989) (novella) TBR SHELF

More Die of Heartbreak (1987) TBR SHELF/AUDIOBOOK

Him with His Foot in His Mouth (1984) (short stories)

The Dean's December (1982) FINISHED

To Jerusalem and Back (1976) (memoir) TBR SHELF

Humboldt's Gift (1975) (Pulitzer winner; reviewed hereFINISHED

Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970) (National winner; reviewed hereFINISHED
Mosby's Memoirs (1968) (short stories)

The Last Analysis (1965) (play)

Herzog (1964) (National winnerFINISHED

Henderson the Rain King (1959) FINISHED

Seize the Day (1956) FINISHED

The Adventures of Augie March (1953) (National winner; reviewed hereFINISHED

The Victim (1947) FINISHED

Dangling Man (1944) FINISHED


This is a redo of a list I first posted back in 2010.

I also have a biography of Bellow on my TBR shelf by Ruth Miller called Saul Bellow: A Biography of the Imagination. I have a lot of biographies of my favorite authors on my TBR shelves. I sledom read authors' biographies, thinking I want to read all, or more of their books before I read their biographies. This is silly. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh -- BOOK BEGINNINGS



What are you reading this week? Please share the opening sentence (or so) with us here on Book Beginnings on Fridays. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy or you want to highlight, even if you are not reading it at the moment. 


"Sent down for indecent behavior, eh?" said Paul Pennyfeather's guardian.

-- From Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh. This is Waugh's first novel, published in 1928, well before Brideshead Revisited. It is a satire of boarding school life in Britain between the wars. I just started it and it is very funny, more farce than satire so far, almost slapstick. 


Please add the link to your Book Beginnings post in the Linky box below. If you share on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag. 

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Another weekly teaser event is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice where you can find details and add a link to your post. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of the book you are featuring. You can also find a teaser from 56% of the way through your ebook or audiobook.


From Decline and Fall:

"Oh, sir," came a chorus of reproach, "you've hurt his feelings. He's very sensitive; it's his Welsh blood, you know: it makes people very emotional." 

Sent down from Oxford after a wild, drunken party, Paul Pennyfeather is oddly surprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at a boys' private school in Wales. His colleagues are an assortment of misfits, rascals and fools, including Prendy (plagued by doubts) and Captain Grimes, who is always in the soup (or just plain drunk). Then Sports Day arrives, and with it the delectable Margot Beste-Chetwynde, floating on a scented breeze. As the farce unfolds in Evelyn Waugh's dazzling debut as a novelist, the young run riot and no one is safe, least of all Paul.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Lorrie's Deal by Buck Sawyer -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


How are you doing this second week of January? I'm still wildly swinging between new year energy and a lingering post-holiday slump. I feel like a vitality/lethargy yo-yo!

But I am back again to share from a book I want to highlight this week on Book Beginnings. Please share the first sentence (or so) from the book you are reading -- or just a book that caught your fancy. 


If you wrong the Mob, if you help the Feds take down a crime family, you become dead or go Gone. Thirty-nine years ago, I'd picked Gone.

-- Lorrie's Deal by Buck Sawyer. This new novel is about a mid-level gangster who narced on his boss and got witness protection in New Mexico. Decades later, he retired to Florida. That sounds like the set up for an Elmore Leonard book, so I hope this is as lively and fun. 

A lawyer buddy of mine in Boise sent me this book, which his friend wrote. I've worked with this lawyer for years, most intensely when we litigated 30 sex abuse claims against the Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church. Those cases took ten years to finish, so I spent a lot of time in Boise with my buddy Andy Chasan. 

The author of this book, Buck Sawyer, lists Andy as one of his "test readers" with a sample of Andy's commentary: "Tears? That's a cheap out. Fine, don't listen to me but that's dumb." That makes me laugh because it sounds just like Andy. That's exactly how he talked to our clients. 


Please leave a link to your Book Beginnings post in the Linky box below. If you share on social media, please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings.

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Another fun Friday event is The Friday 56. Share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your book, or 56% of the way through your e-book or audiobook, on this weekly event hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice.


From Lorrie's Deal:
“The Bureau has honored your wish for us to handle your relocation—”
“That wasn't a wish, that was a demand.”
Lorenzo Mancuso is a guy with secrets. As a kid, his broken family spilled him onto the streets of Philadelphia. His childhood buddy brought him into the home of the family that ran the Family—the biggest crime Family in that city. He grew up and muscled for them on the streets, but, with his head for numbers, he ended up helping to run the business. Lorrie achieved his dream of being important, trusted and valued. Right up until he wasn’t. Lorrie worked for the Family but wasn’t actual family— and having the Family’s secrets marked him for death. Lorrie made a quick, strategic choice and stayed alive by taking his secrets to the FBI. The Mafia bosses went to prison, Lorrie got a one-way ticket to New Mexico and a new identity. The FBI kept him safe, hidden there for thirty years. Then, without their permission, he moved to an upscale retirement home in Florida. What’s a guy like Lorrie—with time on his hands and crime on his resume—do to keep himself entertained? What secret brought him to Florida? What happens when, for the very first time, other people become more important to him than himself?

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