Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: A Place in the World by Amy Maroney

Books are a big part of Christmas for me. I love to give and receive books for presents, and I love curling up with a good book for a little me time to escape the holiday bustle.

Last year, I gave The Girl from Oto to several people and it was a huge hit. My aunt said it was "the best book I have ever read" and she reads a lot of historical fiction. So this year I am excited to follow up and give those same people the other books in Amy Maroney's Miramonde series.

Here is my teaser from the latest, and final, book in the series, A Place in the World:
In his father's chambers in the Tower of Blood, Pelegrin flung open the shutters, struck as usual by the beauty of the Broto Valley unfurling to the south. Cowbells jangled in some unseen pasture.
-- A Place in the World by Amy Maroney.

The Miramonde series follows Mira, a female artist in the early 1500s in Basque sheep country, and Zari the modern day art historian trying to prove Mira's existence. It starts with The Girl from Oto, continues with Mira's Way, includes a prequel novella called The Promise, and concludes with A Place in the World.

2016: Zari Durrell seizes one last chance to return to Europe in search of sixteenth-century painter Mira de Oto. When the art world embraces a theory that Mira’s work was actually made by a famous old master, Zari must act. In a desperate bid to save Mira from obscurity, she travels to the windswept Basque coast of Spain. What she discovers there solves the puzzle of Mira forever—and unlocks the stunning secrets of Zari’s own past.

1505: Mira finally arrives in the city of her dreams. But Bayonne is nothing like she imagined. Navigating a strange world ruled by merchants and bishops, she struggles to reignite her fledgling career as an artist. When an old enemy hunts her down, Mira must make a terrible choice—will she avenge those she’s lost, or protect her family’s future?

Read my interview with Amy Maroney about her books, women artists, and what drew her to historical fiction.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker. Participants share a two-sentence teaser from the book they are reading or featuring. Please remember to include the name of the book and the author. You can share your teaser in a comment below, or with a comment or link at the Teaser Tuesday site, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

15 Days to Christmas!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Mailbox Holiday Monday: Off Island and Morning Will Come

I am feeling very Christmassy now that December is well underway. I've been buying people books for Christmas presents, which I am not going to show here because that would ruin the surprise, of course.

But I did get a couple of new books last week -- so new they are preview copies, both coming out in January. I am excited about these books because both stories sounds really creative, definitely not formula fiction.

Off Island by Lara Tupper. This new novel weaves an imagined historical story of the artist Paul Gauguin living on an island off the the coast of Maine with a modern-day story of another painter in Maine who finds the paintings and letters Gauguin left behind.

Off Island launches January 6, 2020 and is available for pre-order from Encircle Publications.

From the publisher's description:
With wry humor and clear-eyed precision, Tupper captures the lure of the unknown, the pull of the familiar and the strangers our loved ones turn out to be. A novel of love and disappointment, duty and wanderlust, Off Island questions what it means to be loyal to one’s art, one’s family and one’s home.

Morning Will Come by Billy Lombardo. This is a "re-issued, re-titled, re-edited, re-beautifully jacketed version" Lombardo's 2009 novel, How to Hold a Woman. The cover is riveting, I agree. This new edition is available for pre-sale from Tortoise Books and launches in January.

Morning Will Come is the story of a marriage and family struggling with the disappearance of the oldest daughter.

From the back cover:
Alan and Audrey Taylor are raising three children and coping with the demands of busy careers when their eldest child, Isabel, on the verge of precocious womanhood, goes missing in the middle of the night. Thus begins this intimate portrait of a barely functioning family left to decipher the mysteries of how to go on in the aftermath of violence and loss. Morning Will Come, a haunting, sometimes raw exploration of grief, is also by turns hilarious and sexy, exploring the bonds of blood and the redemptive power of love.
What new books came into your house last week? Feel free to share them in a comment here or link your blog post on the Mailbox Monday official page.

Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. 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 graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

16 Days to Christmas!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Favorite Author: P. D. James

P. D. James was the grand dame of British mystery writing when she died in 2014 at age 94. She published her first mystery in 1961, following the Golden Age traditions of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh.

James is best known for her series featuring Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, a poet as well as a detective. The books are all set in some kind of closed society -- an adaptation of the "closed room" mystery. She also has two mysteries starring Cordelia Gray, stand-alone novels, a book of four Christmas short stories, and non-fiction books.

She was appointed OBE in 1983. In 1991, she was made a life peer as Lady James of Holland Park.

I've now read 12 of James's books. Unusual for me, all but one with my ears. The audiobook editions are particularly good and readily available from my library.

Those I have read are in red; those currently on my TBR shelf are in blue.


Cover Her Face (1962) (country house)

A Mind to Murder (1963) (private mental hospital)

Unnatural Causes (1967) (writers' colony)

Shroud for a Nightingale (1971) (nursing school)

The Black Tower (1975) (reviewed here) (adult care home)

Death of an Expert Witness (1977) (forensic lab)

A Taste for Death (1986) (parish church)

Devices and Desires (1989) (community with a nuclear power plant)

Original Sin (1994) (publishing house)

A Certain Justice (1997) (inns of court)

Death in Holy Orders (2001)

The Murder Room (2003)

The Lighthouse (2005)

The Private Patient (2008)


An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972)

The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982)


Innocent Blood (1980)

The Children of Men (1992)

Death Comes to Pemberley (2011)


The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories (2016)


The Maul and the Pear Tree: The Ratcliffe Highway Murders, 1811 (1971), with Thomas A. Critchley

Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography (1999)

Talking About Detective Fiction (2009)


If you have written about P. D. James or reviewed her books and would like me to link your post here, please leave a comment with a link to your post and I will list it.

18 Days to Christmas!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Book Beginning: Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell



The owner of Laverings looked out of his bedroom window on a dewy June morning.

-- Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell. This country-house comedy was first published in 1939. It is part of a series, but the first one I've read. I keep seeing Angela Thirkell books on Instagram and wanted to read one at Christmas time because they looked charming and cozy.

From the publisher's description:
Jack Middleton likes to imagine himself a country squire. At weekends he retires to Laverings Estate with his wife, Catherine. He may be pompous, and they may seem ill-matched, but the couple are devoted to each other.

When Jack's widowed sister, Lilian, and her two stepchildren arrive to spend the summer in the neighbouring house, he dreads the intrusion to his idyll: Daphne, capable and ambitious, is too lively for his taste, whereas her brother Denis, a composer, he finds a crashing bore. But their wit and good sense charm the residents of Barchester, and they win over Lord Bond with an impromptu Gilbert and Sullivan evening. Even Jack begins to thaw.

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

SOCIAL MEDIA: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up. Please find me on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.


TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.


In the distance Mrs. Middleton could hear the stable clock chiming eleven from Staple Park and roused herself. There was shopping to be done in the village, the report of the District Nursing Association of which she was secretary to be finished, and a dozen small household odds and ends awaiting her.

20 Days to Christmas!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Mailbox Monday: Hollywood Book Club and P.G. Wodehouse

It is the first Monday in December, which means Mailbox Monday has a jazzy Christmas mailbox picture. Fa la la!

I'm also celebrating this Christmas season, as I always do here on Rose City Reader, with an advent calendar of vintage Christmas cards. Read yesterday's post to learn more about this blog tradition of mine. And check back every day through Christmas to see a different vintage Christmas image. The theme this year is Christmas cats! If you are looking for vintage Christmas images, click the "vintage postcard" or "Advent" tag at the bottom of any of the advent calendar posts and you can scroll through 12 years of vintage Christmas cards.

What new books came into your house last week? We were pretty busy mashing potatoes and baking pies, but two new books did show up:

The Hollywood Book Club by Steven Rea, new from Chronicle Books. This fun book of movie stars reading books is a definite gift option for book and film buffs.

I got my copy from the LibraryThing Early Review program. I plan to take a little "me time" during this busy holiday season and relax with this book, an adult beverage, and a crackling fire in the fireplace.

From the publisher's description:

Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe—the brightest stars of the silver screen couldn't resist curling up with a good book. This unique collection of rare photographs celebrates the joy of reading in classic film style. The Hollywood Book Club captures screen luminaries on set, in films, in playful promotional photos, or in their own homes and libraries with books from literary classics to thrillers, from biographies to children's books, reading with their kids, and more. Featuring nearly 60 enchanting images, lively captions about the stars and what they're reading by Hollywood photo archivist Steven Rea, and a glamorous stamped case design, here's a real page-turner for booklovers and cinephiles.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse : Volume 1: "This is Jolly Old Fame" by Paul Kent. I am beyond excited about this one. I am a huge P. G. Wodehouse fan. I keep a list of Wodehouse books here on this blog and am working my way through them.

Paul Kent is writing a three-volume biography of Wodehouse, based in part on new access to Wodehouse's papers and library. This first volume is just out in the UK. For American readers, you have to order it from the publisher, TSB an imprint of Can of Worms Enterprises, or from Book Depository.

For die-hard Wodehouse fans, there could be nothing better.

From the publisher's description:
Whether you re an absolute beginner or an aficionado, Paul Kent has captured the essence of what made Wodehouse tick without spoiling all the fun; and makes a compelling case for why we owe it to our collective sanity to keep on reading him. P.G. Wodehouse 1881-1975 Humourist, Novelist, Lyricist, Playwright So reads the simple inscription on the memorial stone unveiled in London s Westminster Abbey in September 2019, honouring the greatest comic writer of the 20th century. It takes a steady hand and a steely nerve to insist that sweetness and light can prevail in a world that seems hell-bent on proving the opposite, and over 40 years after his death, Wodehouse is not just surviving but thriving all over the world. Young Indian professionals can t get enough of him; he s hugely popular in Japan; his books have been translated into more than 30 languages, from Azerbaijani to Ukrainian via Hebrew, Italian, Swedish and Chinese; and there are established Wodehouse societies in the UK, the USA, Belgium, Holland and Russia. His books are demonstrating the staying power of true classics, and are all currently in print, making him as relevant and funny - as he ever was.

Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. 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 graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

23 Days to Christmas!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

24 Days to Christmas!

I love Christmas and Christmas traditions! This is the 12th year I've done an advent calendar type countdown here on Rose City Reader. Every year, starting December 1, I post a picture of a Christmas themed vintage card. Every day until Christmas, I post a different picture.


I started this advent tradition in 2008, the first year I started this blog, which seems a really long time ago, especially in blog years. I didn't have a particular reason to start it, or to keep it up. The blog is about books, not vintage cards, after all. But I enjoy it. I like decorating my house for Christmas and there aren't many ways to decorate a blog for Christmas. Posting a Christmas picture to count down the days until Christmas is the thing I like to do.


Some years I have a theme in mind when I pick the cards, some years it is a slapdash affair. Sort of like Christmas in real life, right? One year, it was all older, more Victorian looking cards, for example, one year it was all Santa cards. This year I'm going with all Christmas cats and kittens. Why? Because I'm in a cat and kitten mood. Some fluffy feline comfort sounds nice during this hectic time of year.

If you're into tiny details, whatever the theme for the year, I try to remember to post a card with Santa in it on Christmas Eve and a nativity scene picture on Christmas day. I try to find Santa and nativity cards that go with the theme. This year I found several Santa with cat cards to choose from. But I couldn't find a nativity scene with a cat.


What bookish things do you do this time of year, on your blog or otherwise?

Besides this advent calendar, I don't do much holiday stuff here at Rose City Reader. No holiday gift guides or Christmas book read-a-longs. Now that I'm on Instagram, I post some holiday-ish book pictures, like this one of books with #festivetitles:

This is also the time of year to wrap up 2019 book challenges and plan for 2020 book challenges. That means I need to post the 2020 European Reading Challenge, which I will do soon. In the meantime, the 2019 European Reading Challenge doesn't finish until the end of January 2020, so there is still time to finish, post reviews on this page and wrap up posts on this page.

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