Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Lighthouse by P. D. James, an Adam Dalgliesh Mystery -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


I love mysteries! One of my all-time favorite series is P. D. James's Adam Dalgliesh series featuring Scotland Yard special Commander -- and published poet -- Adam Dalgliesh and his team of loyal inspectors. 

Are there other P. D. James fans among our Book Beginnings crew?


It is time again for Book Beginnings on Fridays, where we share the opening sentence or so of the book we are enjoying this week. You can play along on your blog, social media account, or in the comments below. 

If you post on a blog, Instagram, Facebook, or some other way that creates a link, please post it in the Linky box below. If you share on social media, please use the #BookBeginnings hashtag so we can find each other.


From The Lighthouse by P. D. James:

Commander Adam Dalgliesh was not unused to being urgently summoned to non-scheduled meetings with unspecified people at inconvenient times, but usually with one purpose in common: he could be confident that somewhere there lay a dead body awaiting his attention.

That is an excellent opening sentence, I think. I prefer long, opening sentences that get your attention right off the bat.

The Lighthouse is the penultimate book in the series and I'm sort of reluctant to read it, knowing there is only one book left after this. Oh well, there are so many series I still have to complete. And I suppose I can always reread this one!


I don't know why the pictures didn't show up on the Linky last week. Gremlins! We'll see if it works this time. 

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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 The Lighthouse:
As soon as he had begun unpacking the books, he had found Monica's letter, place between the two top volumes. Now he took it from the desk top and read it again, slowly and with careful attention to every word, as if it held a hidden meaning which only a scrupulous rereading could discern.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

John Haines, Author of Never Leaving Laramie -- AUTHOR INTERVIEW

John Haines was an adventure seeker from a young age. He biked through Tibet, kayaked the Niger River, and rode the Trans-Siberian Express from Beijing to East Berlin. His new memoir, Never Leaving Laramie (2020, OSU Press) weaves his travel stories with his philosophy of travel.

John talked with Rose City Reader about his travels, his work, and Never Leaving Laramie:

What lead you to write your memoir, Never Leaving Laramie?

I had time and a box of writing from over the years, usually for magazines, and detailed journals. Writing became another form of adventure, stringing stories into a thread for a book. I refer to the book as an "essayistic memoir" blending travel, culture, history and landscapes, mostly in places in transition, as I was.

Of all the trips you describe in your book, what was your favorite?

My favorite trip is always the next one. Beyond iconic places – The Potala Palace in Lhasa or the Great Mosque in Timbuktu – I value simple but durable moments: waking to dawn light in the Himalayas; sea kayaking on calm water off the coast of Hvar in Croatia after working in a war zone in Bosnia; walking alone on snow in a medieval Czech village remarkably undamaged by wars; and eating fish with water lily bulbs shared by the Bozo, a semi-nomadic fishing people in the Inland Delta of the Niger River in Mali.

You write about how growing up in the rural community of Laramie, Wyoming shaped your worldview. Can you explain a little about that?

Laramie is home to the only university in Wyoming, which gives it a continual cycle of student energy. It is surrounded by open space that begins on the edge of town and extends forever into the prairie, creeks and rivers, and mountains on the far edge of the high plains. The landscape serves as an escape for kids and eventually, inevitably, as a launchpad for wanderers into a wider world.

You had some amazing travel adventures and patched together a career around your travels before you went to work at Mercy Corps. Can you tell us about that transition?

I first heard about Mercy Corps when I was working in Central Europe and in Bosnia, and admired their predisposition for action and innovation. After helping to start an environmental bank in Portland, I joined Mercy Corps in 2002 to direct their domestic work. While there I worked on this idea to allow low-income people to invest in commercial real estate in their neighborhoods. In 2014 we formed the Community Investment Trust, a national project for Mercy Corps that puts real estate ownership into the hands of the BIPOC community, renters and first-time investors.

Who is the audience for your book?

People who are curious and have a taste for adventure, however large or small. I hope any reader will find something fresh in the stories of places in transition – from East Berlin to Bosnia, Tibet to Guinea – where the book moves. Themes of risk with beauty, pain, persistence and possibility flow through the book much as various rivers around the globe carry the stories.

In general, what do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope people have fun and relate to the elasticity of time and place that blends home with travel in the world.

What did you learn from writing your book – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you?

I can write watching sports while drinking a beer, but I edit in quiet with coffee.

What kind of books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

I read a range between creative fiction (anything by David Markson, for instance) and history (Michael Oren’s Power, Power, Faith, and Fantasy is amazing). I am currently reading Caste by Isabelle Wilkerson and Analogia by George Dyson, both of which take some time to absorb between chapters. I slip into reading the essays in Horizon, the final book of a favorite of mine, Barry Lopez.

What's next for you? What are you working on now?

I am committed to growing the Community Investment Trust into a national force, building replication from our successful East Portland pilot, to close the racial wealth gap throughout the US. I continue to write essays and am editing short stories I had mothballed.



Monday, March 1, 2021

Windhall and Princes of the Renaissance -- MAILBOX MONDAY


Two new books came into my house last week. How about you? Anything new?

These two new books are both from Pegasus Books and are vying for my attention:

book cover of Windhall by Ava Barry

Windhall by Ava Barry. Described as a "literary thriller," this debut novel finds investigative journalist Max Hailey trying to solve the cold case murder of a Hollywood starlet. 


1940s Hollywood was an era of decadence and director Theodore Langley was its king. Paired with Eleanor Hayes as his lead actress, Theo ruled the Golden Age of Hollywood. That ended when Eleanor's mangled body was discovered in Theo's rose garden and he was charged with her murder. The case was thrown out before it went to trial and Theo fled L.A., leaving his crawling estate, Windhall, to fall into ruin. He hasn't been seen since.

Decades later, investigative journalist Max Hailey, raised by his gran on stories of old Hollywood, is sure that if he could meet Theo, he could prove once and for all that the famed director killed his leading lady. When a copycat murder takes place near Windhall, the long reclusive Theo returns to L.A., and it seems Hailey finally has his chance.

Princes of the Renaissance: The Hidden Power Behind an Artistic Revolution by Mary Hollingsworth. This new nonfiction book tells the history of the patrons of the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance. It is a beautiful book, filled with color pictures or the art described.


The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was an era of dramatic political, religious, and cultural change in the Italian peninsula, witnessing major innovations in the visual arts, literature, music, and science.
. . . . 
A vivid depiction of the lives and times of the aristocratic elite whose patronage created the art and architecture of the Renaissance, Princes of the Renaissance is a narrative that is as rigorous and definitively researched as it is accessible and entertaining. Perhaps most importantly, Mary Hollingsworth sets the aesthetic achievements of these aristocratic patrons in the context of the volatile, ever-shifting politics of an age of change and innovation.


Join other book lovers on Mailbox Monday to share the books that came into your house last week. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.


Friday, February 26, 2021

The Bird that Sang in Color by Grace Mattioli - BOOK BEGINNING

 book cover of Grace Mattioli's new novel, The Bird that Sang in Color


I'm here on Friday again, not Thursday evening. My apologies. It was another crazy work week. I.m going to try to schedule a few Book Beginning and other blog posts for upcoming weeks this weekend to get a jump on things. 

I hope your week is more calm than mine! What are you reading? Let's share the first sentences or so of the books we are enjoying this week. Please use the hashtag #BookBeginnings if you post or share on social media. 

Share your link in the Linky box below. You can participate with a blog or a social media account like Instagram, Facebook, or anything else that works. Or just leave a comment with your opening sentence and the name of your book.


My book beginning is from Grace Mattioli's new novel, The Bird that Sang in Color:

What pictures will you have of yourself by the end of your life? By pictures, I mean drawings, not photographs. A picture is easy. A drawing is earned. 

I offer a longer excerpt than usual because I thought it was interesting. What do you think?

The Bird that Sang in Color came out last month. It is a brother/sister story about Donna Greco and her brother Vincent. Donna sought the conventional successes in life, compared to Vincent who was an artistic free spirit. The story follows their relationship from their childhood in the 1970s to the near present. Mattioli tells this heartfelt family story with finesse and humor.


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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 The Bird that Sang in Color:
"Hey, I'm doing the best I can," Vincent said defensively.
"That's why you'll never be anything but a flub!" Dad shouted at him.

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Anglophile's Notebook by Sunday Taylor - BOOK BEGINNINGS


I'm very late with my Book Beginnings post this Friday! I forgot to post last evening because I went to visit my mom and sister for an overdue celebration of my birthday. The festivities made me forget my blogging duties!

Snow and ice pushed back our celebration by over a week, so it was nice to finally get together out at their house. After lunch, we visited Tony's Garden Center, where this blanket of primroses made our eyes pop.

So, better very late than never, please share the first sentence or so of the book your are reading this week. Share the link to your blog post or social media post in the linky box below. If you link or share on social media, please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings. 


My Book Beginning is from The Anglophile's Notebook by Sunday Taylor:

Claire Easton awoke suddenly rom a deep sleep, her mind in a tangled fog.

This new novel follows Claire Easton, a magazine editor from LA on assignment in England to research a book about Charlotte Brontë. It's part literary travelogue, part romantic adventure, and all wonderful entertainment.


Please link to your Book Beginning post:

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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 The Anglophile's Notebook:

Though today Carlyle is far from a fashionable figure, in the 1830s and ‘40s he was one of Victorian London’s foremost men of letters. A Scottish writer and historian, Thomas lived with his wife, Jane, a prominent essayist and famous wit, in a little house at 25 Cheyne Row, one of London’s best-preserved Georgian streets.

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