Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot - BOOK BEGINNINGS

 


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

I'm continuing my celebration of Victober with another Victorian novel, The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. 

What are you reading this week? Please share the first sentence (or so) here on Book Beginnings on Fridays. Add the link to your post in the linky box below. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

A wide plain, where the broadening Floss hurries on between its green banks to the sea, and the loving tide, rushing to meet it, checks its passage with an impetuous embrace.
-- The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. This one has been on my TBR shelf for a long time. Published in 1860, it is the story of Maggie Tulliver, her family struggles, romantic loves, and adoration of her brother. It is Eliot's most autobiographical novel. 

I finished The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins last week and loved it. The Moonstone was on my Classics Club list, so I'm making progress. The Mill on the Floss is definitely a classic, but not onw on my personal list of 50 classics to read in five years, which is what the Classics Club is all about. Are you a Classics Club participant? Join in if it sounds like fun!



YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From The Mill on the Floss:
Tom was to arrive early in the afternoon, and there was another fluttering heart besides Maggie’s when it was late enough for the sound of the gig-wheels to be expected; for if Mrs. Tulliver had a strong feeling, it was fondness for her boy. At last the sound came—that quick light bowling of the gig-wheels—and in spite of the wind, which was blowing the clouds about, and was not likely to respect Mrs. Tulliver’s curls and cap-strings, she came outside the door, and even held her hand on Maggie’s offending head, forgetting all the griefs of the morning.



Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Happy Victober! 

One of my favorite things about Instagram is Victober, the annual bookstagrammer tradition of reading Victorian literature in the month of October. I look forward to it all year. There is something so cozy about reading Victorian novels in the fall.

Do you participate in Victober? What books are you reading this year? I'm reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, and maybe one other one if I get the time. 

I plan to share some of the opening sentences here on Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading (or just want to highlight). Add the link to your Book Beginning post in the linky box below.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

I address these lines—written in India—to my relatives in England.

My object is to explain the motive which has induced me to refuse the right hand of friendship to my cousin, John Herncastle.
-- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

The Moonstone was published in 1868 and is considered the first (probably) detective story. It is the mystery of the theft of a yellow diamond the size of a plover egg. How big is a plover egg? I don't know. I don't even know how big a full grown plover is. But it's fun to say plover a lot.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From The Moonstone:
The Diamond takes us back to Mr. Franklin, who was the innocent means of bringing that unlucky jewel into the house.

Our nice boy didn’t forget us after he went abroad.
The Moonstone is an excellent book. It's a rollicking adventure with lots of funny bits and a pretty good mystery. I'm close to the end and still don't know who took the diamond. 

The Moonstone is one of the 50 books on my Classics Club list


Friday, October 1, 2021

Between Two Kings: A Sequel to The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

My apologies for not getting this week's Book Beginnings post up last evening. My computer was in computer hospital. Ugh! Fortunately, it was an easy repair -- it just needed a (way) bigger hard drive. Let's just say my phone had twice as much brain power as my two-year old lap top. What was I thinking?

So I am here now and ready to share opening sentences (or so) of the books we are reading this week -- or just the books we feel like highlighting. What book captured your fancy this first week October?

MY BOOK BEGINNING

From Between Two Kings:

Toward the middle of May in the year 1660, at nine o’clock in the morning, when the already hot sun was drying the dew on the ramparts of the Château de Bois, a little cavalcade, composed of three men and two junior pages, was returning into the city across the Loire bridge.
Dumas published Twenty Years After, his sequel to The Three Musketeers, in 1845. Between Two Kings, shown here, is the first volume of Twenty Years After.

This is the latest edition of a new translation of the Musketeer Cycle by Lawrence Ellsworth, out now from Pegasus Books. Ellsworth’s is the first translation from the French to English in over 100 years. If you thought the Musketeers were fun before, wait until you see how they swashbuckle now! 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From Between Two Kings:
As he was passing out of the gate, leading his horse by the bridle, a soft voice called from the gloom of a shaded path, “Monsieur Raoul!”

The young man turned in surprise and saw a brown-haired young woman who was pressing a finger to her lips and holding out her other hand.




Thursday, September 23, 2021

Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer (Los Angeles 1911-1913) by Nelson Johnson- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

It's time again to share the opening sentences (or so) of the books we are reading this week. What are you reading?

I have a lawyer book to share this week since I've had a very lawyerly week. I've been sitting through three days of (Zoom) court hearings in the Boy Scouts of America's bankruptcy case. I even got to argue one day! Although I've been suing the Boy Scouts for sex abuse since 2007, and even won a $20 million verdict against them, this bankruptcy case is the biggest legal battle I've ever been a part of. It's such a complicated mess!

MY BOOK BEGINNING

From Darrow's Nightmare:

Upon return to Chicago in January 1908, Clarence's priority was his law practice double dash namely, earning an income.

-- Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer (Los Angeles 1911-1913) by Nelson Johnson (Rosetta Books). This one came out a few months ago. Nelson Johnson wrote Boardwalk Empire that was adapted into such a terrific TV show.

Clarence Darrow was America's most famous criminal trial attorney in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Darrow's Nightmare is the nonfiction account of how Darrow was almost a convicted of crimes himself. Darrow went to Los Angeles in 1911 to defend two union agitators on trial for mass murder. While there, he the District Attorney indicted and tried Darrow for bribing a juror. A conviction would have ended his career as a lawyer almost before it got off the ground.


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please leave a link to your Book Beginnings post in the linky box below. Please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag if you share on social media.

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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From Darrow's Nightmare:
He viewed the courtroom as a battlefield; his profession was a means to pursue economic justice for the working class. Though Darrow was cynical about much of the law, he acted practically when it came to making a living.
I think most lawyers, at least litigators, view the courtroom as a battlefield. And lawyers with a plaintiffs' civil practice, like me, view the law as a means of pursuing economic justice for our clients. Civil lawsuits only offer economic justice. We can only sue for money to compensate for their injuries and their loss. The law isn't a time machine -- we can't get back our clients' former lives for them. The trick is to not grow cynical. 




Thursday, September 16, 2021

I Have Not Loved You With My Whole Heart by Cris Harris - BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Do you read memoirs? 

I love a good memoir. I'm not all that keen on memoirs by famous people. I prefer memoirs by regular people with interesting stories to tell about their own experiences. How about you?

My book beginning this week is from a new memoir. What are you reading this week? Please share the opening sentence (or so) for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Add the link to your blog or social media post in the linky box below. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

"And now, boys," he says, "let's get the boat. Track it down and bring it home." He smiles, eyes watery and bright, feverish under the little velvet fez he has taken to wearing in this last year.

-- I Have Not Loved You With My Whole Heart by Cris Harris (OSU Press). I don't usually give more than the very first sentence, but when I saw that bit about the fez, I couldn't resist including it. 

Cris Harris grew up in a difficult household with an alcoholic father, learning to live with the uncertainty, chaos, and neglect of living with addiction. What he didn't expect was that his father, an Episcopalian priest, would come out as gay during the height of the AIDS crisis and die of HIV in 1995. This gripping memoir will hit home for anyone who has grappled with complicated relationships to faith, had family members come out late in life, or lost loved ones to AIDS.


 YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please add the link to your Book Beginnings post below. If you share on SM, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag so we can find each other. 

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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From I Have Not Loved You With All My Heart:
Among the working-class, east-side parishioners, he was more at ease than back at Ascension Chapel. It was an Episcopal church, so there would still be mimosas on Easter morning after the vigil, but when they held a night of English and Irish song and dance, they also served Old English 800 in big bottles. 
Oh my. The evangelical churches I grew up in never served OE8 40s! 


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Welcome to Kamini and Shoal Water -- Two New Books -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

The light is starting to change and the first hints of fall are in the air. I love this time of year, with that back-to-school feeling. 

What books captured your attention this week? Please share the first sentence (or so) here on Book Beginnings on Fridays. Leave the link to your blog or social media post in the Linky box below. 

To celebrate the impending change of seasons, I am highlighting two new novels, both coming out in October. Both are also set in northern parts of Canada, so they make a good pairing.

MY BOOK BEGINNINGS

From Welcome to Kamini

Two figures pushed off from the dock in a canoe after sunset.

-- Welcome to Kamini by Don Engebretson. I like that first sentence, how about you? It sets a scene and I immediately want to know more.

Engebretson is a seasoned magazine and short story writer. Welcome to Kamini is his debut novel. The protagonist heads to the Canadian woods of northern Ontario to get over his failed marriage and professional tailspin. There he meets three powerful women and an Ojibwe fishing guide and who change his plans, and his life.

This one comes out October 1 from Guernica Editions and is available for pre-order now.

From Shoal Water:

The dark forbidding clouds closed in, the wind, its high-pitched universe.

-- Shoal Water by Kip Robinson Greenthal. This beginning is more atmospheric, and I like it too!

This beautiful debut novel is the story of Kate and her husband who move from New York City to a fishing village in Nova Scotia and open a book store. While getting to know their new community, Kate must confront ghosts of the past -- metaphorical and literal. Perfect for October!

Greenthal won the 2020 Landmark Prize for fiction for Shoal Water. The prize is publication by Homebound Publications. Shoal Water comes out on October 12, and you can pre-order now.



YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From Welcome to Kamini:
Closing her eyes, she twirled her finger twice in the air and placed it on the map. . . . Only when removing her finger did she find it had landed smack dab on a tiny dot labeled Kamini.

From Shoal Water:
Andy walked down the road toward the dory shop built alongside the Greenport wharf. Everywhere was fog and the smell of fish.
I can't wait for cool, rainy weather to get here when I plan to curl up with both of these books. 


Thursday, September 2, 2021

You Are Enough! Reclaiming Your Career and Your Life with Purpose, Passion, and Unapologetic Authenticity by Charlene Wheeless - BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Look at those Naked Ladies! We were in Mendocino last week and the town was awash with these beautiful belladonna amaryllis. They bloom in Mendocino in August, after their spring leaves have died away. They were spectacular.

Here's some bookish trivia for you. Did you know that Mendocino is where they filmed Murder, She Wrote? That’s right, Mendocino is the stand in for Cabot Cove, murder capital of America. Which makes it the most deadly spot on the planet outside Midsomer County, England.

It was fun to get away for our first vacation since corona started. But I'm happy to be back home in time for Book Beginnings on Fridays. It's time to share the first sentence (or so) of the books we are reading this week. Please share the link to your Book Beginnings post in the linky box below. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING


I have great respect and admiration for Dr. Angelou (may she rest in peace). But nearly my whole life, and like many women and minorities, I have always had to prove myself or prove something to someone, sometimes for reasons I didn't even understand, let alone accept.

 -- from the author's Introduction, You Are Enough! Reclaiming Your Career and Your Life with Purpose, Passion, and Unapologetic Authenticity by Charlene Wheeless (2021, Mascot Books). 

Those opening lines make sense only when given a little context. The Introduction is headed with a quote by Maya Angelou: "You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody." That quote sets up the opening sentences and the title of the book.

In her new book, Charlene Wheeless uses memoir and inspirational essays to share the wisdom she's gained from her years as a Black woman executive and cancer survivor.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS
 
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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From You Are Enough:
Most champions want to advocate for someone they believe is going to put in the work to be successful. Champions look for people with credibility, confidence, and consistency because champions do not just speak up; they open doors.
I love inspirational, self-help books, especially those with a career focus. I probably like them because I've always had an entrepreneurial approach to my law practice and I started my own firm several years ago. These books give me a boost. Do you read business or career self-help books?


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Rizzio, New Historical Fiction Novella by Denise Mina -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

What are your thoughts on novellas? 

I say yes! Unlike short stories, I like novellas. I am not drawn to short stories. When I go to pick a book off my TBR shelf, I almost always pick a novel over a short story collection. I read short stories to finish a list -- like if I am trying to read all the books by a favorite author or if the book won a prize. 

But novellas are fun. They offer the story arc of a novel but the quick satisfaction of a short story. What do you think?

So I was excited to see that one of my favorite mystery authors just wrote a historical mystery novella. Rizzio by Denise Mina comes out September 7 from Pegasus Books. And I am extra excited to get an early copy to share on Book Beginnings on Fridays. 

Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are enjoying this week. Add the link to your Book Beginnings blog or social media post in the linky box below.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

From Rizzio:

Lord Ruthven wanted him killed during this tennis match but Darnley said no.

-- from Chapter One, "David Rizzio Plays Tennis with His Assassins."

David Rizzio was the private secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots. Mina's new book tells the exciting and gruesome tale of his bloody assassination in 1566, a story of sex, secrets, power, and palace intrigue.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please add your link below. Please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings if you share on social media.

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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From Rizzio:
Darnley is giving too much detail, a sure sign of a false story, and all to subordinate. This makes Preston wonder if he's being fobbed off, but what can he do? Darnley is married to the Queen.
Rizzio is a fast and exciting read -- a sure winner for any historical fiction fan.


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Deep Hanging Out: Wanderings and Wonderment in Native California by Malcolm Margolin - BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

It's late summer and I settled the big trial I was preparing for, so I am all about hanging out. That's not exactly what this book is about, but we will all have to read it to learn more. 

For now, let's all share the opening sentences of the books we are reading this week, or the books that captured our attention. 

MY BOOK BEGINNING

From Deep Hanging Out:

Several years ago, I was invited by members of the Kashaya Pomo tribe of Sonoma County to be a guest at their annual acorn harvest celebration.

-- from the Introduction to Deep Hanging Out: Wanderings and Wonderment in Native California by Malcolm Margolin (2021, Heyday Books). Malcolm Margolin has long been a fixture in California's Native American community. Although he is not Native American, Margolin has been “deep hanging out” – immersing himself in an informal, social way – in California’s Indian country since the 1970s.

Margolin cofounded  and published a quarterly magazine called News from Native California in 1987. This new book from Heyday Books is a collection of 30 articles and other pieces, mostly collected from the magazine.

Margolin Margolin lives in Berkeley, California where he is the executive director of the California Institute for Community, Art, and Nature. His prior books include The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the Fan Francisco-Monterey Bay Area and The Way We Lived: California Indian Stories, Songs, and Reminiscences.  


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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

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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From Deep Hanging Out:
It was as if the idea of getting their chins tattooed was perfectly ordinary, an idea that found a place in their minds, settled in for a while, and finally made itself quite comfortable. With disarming matter-of-factness, they insisted that they were simply doing something that they had long thought about and that now seemed right.
OK. I want to read more about the chin tattoos. 

And now I want to settle in for some deep hanging out of my own. What are your weekend plans?



Wednesday, August 18, 2021

No Modernism Without Lesbians by Diana Souhami -- BOOK REVIEW

 

BOOK REVIEW

No Modernism Without Lesbians by Diana Souhami (2021, Head of Zeus)

Dianna Souhami's new history of 1920s Paris, No Modernism Without Lesbians, focusses on four women -- Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Natalie Barney, and Gertrude Stein -- who were at the center of the modernist movement. Beach started the Shakespeare and Company bookstore and published James Joyce's Ulysses. Bryher was a novelist, magazine editor, and heiress who used her fortune to help struggling writers. Barney was a writer and influential salon hostess. Stein was a patron of the arts and avant-garde author.

Sometimes group biographies are organized chronologically, or around big themes, discussing each person as relevant to the timeline or issue. Souhami’s book is more straightforward. It offers separate biographies of the four women, from birth to death. This makes sense. Although they all lived in Paris at the same time, were powerful forces in the modernist movement, and crossed paths, they were not a cohort. Now that they are combined between the covers, some of the highlights of the book are the cameos each woman plays in the others’ chapters.

Whether Souhami proves that her brash title is literally true misses the point of her book. Modernism was in the air, changing art and literature, and was happening if lesbians flocked to Paris in droves or not. But there is no denying that Beach, Bryher, Barney, and Stein all played big roles by sponsoring artists and writers and fostering the modernist community in Paris.

No Modernism Without Lesbians is a fascinating, lively history of Paris in the first half of the 20th Century. Recommended for readers interested in women’s history and books about Paris, art, or literature.

NOTES

Other reviews:

"[A] vivid cultural history ... This often gossipy, always smart romp trains a well-deserved spotlight on lesser-appreciated literary and artistic lives." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"A book about love, identity, acceptance and the freedom to write, paint, compose and wear corduroy breeches with gaiters. To swear, kiss, publish and be damned." THE TIMES


Monday, August 16, 2021

Between Two Kings and More Dumas Musketeer Books -- MAILBOX MONDAY

 


MAILBOX MONDAY

I can't resist matching editions! How about you? 

I also can't resist Alexander Dumas books because, well, we are related, obviously! 😉

This set of Alexander Dumas books are five books in the "Musketeers Cycle" -- a series of books that started with The Three Musketeers and ends with The Man in the Iron Mask

I'm excited about this set in particular because it is the new translation by Lawrence Ellsworth, the first new translation in over 100 years. The stiff, long-winded Victorian language is gone. Ellsworth's translation is fresh and lively. If you thought the Musketeers were fun before, wait until you see how they swashbuckle now!

All told, there will be nine volumes in the series, published by Pegasus Books:
  • The Three Musketeers (2018).
  • The Red Sphinx (2017). This Musketeer novel, called The Count of Moret in France, has not been translated into English before. This was the first book of the project. In the storyline, it comes after The Three Musketeers. I have it in the wrong place in my picture.
  • Twenty Years After (2019). This is traditionally published as one books. Ellsworth edition is split into two, Twenty Years After and the next one.
  • Blood Royale (2020). This is the second half of what is traditionally published as part of Twenty Years After.
  • Between Two Kings (2021). Ellsworth is breaking down Dumas's mega-novel, The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later, into five separate volumes. It was originally serialized over two and a half years and is traditionally published in three, four, or five volumes. Between Two Kings is Vol. 1.
  • The Court of Daggers (Vol. 2) (coming in 2022).
  • The Devil’s Dance (Vol. 3) (2023).
  • The Shadow of the Bastille (Vol. 4) (2024).
  • The Man in the Iron Mask (Vol. 5) (2025).

Ellsworth's translation project is a huge literary undertaking. I admit, it wasn't even on my radar. Pegasus Books kindly sent me a review copy of the new one, Between Two Kings, and I went bonkers. I had to get my hands on the earlier four immediately. I can't wait to reread The Three Musketeers in this new translation and then read the rest of the books. What an adventure!


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.

Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf, and Velvet of vvb32reads are the gracious hosts of Mailbox Monday.



Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Normans: The Conquest of Christendom by Trevor Rowley and Labyrinth by Kate Mosse -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 



BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

What book are you reading this week? It's time for Book Beginnings on Friday, so please share the opening sentence of the book you are reading or the book that caught your attention. 

I have two books this week. I'm reading Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, a novel set in the 1200s. That made me remember that The Normans, a new history by Trevor Rowley about the same time period, just came out this month. They compliment each other!

MY BOOK BEGINNINGS

From The Normans:

The Duchy of Normandy emerged in the tenth century out of the region known in the post-Roman era as the Breton or Neustrian March, an area which occupied the western edge of the decaying Frankish, or Carolingian, Empire. 

-- from Chapter 1, "Vikings, Norsemen, and Normans," in The Normans: The Conquest of Christendom by Trevor Rowley (August 2021, Pegasus Books). 

This fascinating little book offers a comprehensive history of the Normans, who were a powerful force from the 900s to the mid-1200s. Based in what is now northern France, the Normans conquered England, Wales, Ireland, and parts of Scotland, and established kingdoms in southern Italy, Sicily, the Holy Land, and North Africa.

From Labyrinth:

A single line of blood trickles down the pale underside of her arm, a red seam on a white sleeve.

-- from the Preface to Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. This Holy Grail adventure goes back and forth between a holy crusade in southern France in the early 1200s and the modern day story of an archeological dig that uncovers the mystery. 

Labyrinth is a lot of fun, especially because the protagonists in the historical and contemporary stories are both women. It's a little long and shaggy, but there's nothing wrong with that in a summer read.


Please link to your Book Beginnings on Fridays post in the box below. If you share on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag.
 
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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From The Normans:
William took full advantage of the situation of which he was in no small part the architect and, when the opportunity arose, he seized the throne of England. It seems probable that only a ruler with the energy, ambition and administrative ability of William's status could have managed to conquer England.

From Labyrinth:
Alaïs turned it over to look.
A labyrinth had been carved into the polished surface of the dark wood. 

Enjoy your summer weekend! Do you have a good book in store?




Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Louis-Philippe Dalembert, Author of The Mediterranean Wall - AUTHOR INTERVIEW


AUTHOR INTERVIEW: LOUIS-PHILIPPE DALEMBERT

The Mediterranean Wall by Louis-Philippe Dalembert, translated by Marjolijn de Jager (2021, Schaffner Press)

Louis-Philippe Dalembert is a prize-winning Haitian poet and novelist, who writes in both French and Haitian creole. He has worked as a teacher and visiting poet at universities in the US, Germany, Switzerland, and (currently) France. He lives in Paris and Port-au-Prince.

Dalembert's latest novel, The Mediterranean Wall, is based on true events of the summer of 2014, off the coast of Italy. It is the story of three women fleeing their homelands -- Nigeria, Somalia, and Syria. They are thrown together aboard a dilapidated refugee boat in the Mediterranean Sea, trying to get to Europe.


Louis-Philippe talked with Rose City Reader about his connection with migration stories, his new novel, The Mediterranean Wall, some of his favorite authors, and what he's reading now:


How did you come to write your new novel, The Mediterranean Wall? What drew you to the story of the Mediterranean refugee crisis?

At a very young age, I was confronted with stories of migration. In my family and my circle of friends, I saw many people leave, especially to the United States and Canada. Later, I was the one who left for Europe. I lived in France, in Italy, in Israel. I taught in Switzerland, Germany, the United States. I have traveled to Africa and the entire American continent. When I write a novel about migration, I naturally draw on my own experiences as a migrant. This allowed me to empathize with my characters.

In fact, the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean was just a trigger, there are other parameters to consider. First of all, I have lived a lot in Italy, where the issue of refugees arriving by boat goes back to the 90s. Secondly, I come from a generation of Caribbean people who were marked by the phenomenon of the Haitian and Cuban boat people, trying to reach the coasts of the United States in the 80s. Finally, the drama of people traveling in the holds of overcrowded boats is part of my identity as a black man from the American continent. All of these elements were at the origin of The Mediterranean Wall.

Your story is based on true events. How did you research the historical information and detail found in your book? Did you have access to primary source materials?

To write this novel, I stayed on the island of Lampedusa, Italy, between January and February, 2018. Lampedusa is an island that, since 1992, has received a large flow of migrants from Africa and the Middle East. I also did a lot of research, read hundreds of articles and books, watched dozens of documentaries. The scenes I describe in the novel are nothing compared to the heartbreaking testimonies I read, or collected from refugees during my stay in Lampedusa. I tried to put the same modesty that they use when they finally accept to tell their story. Some scenes are still quite close to reality.

Why did you choose to tell your story from the point of view of three women protagonists? Was it difficult to get inside the heads of your women characters?

When the media reports on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, they often show us boats full of men. But half of these refugees are women. Probably fewer of them reach the end of the journey, victims of all kinds of violence along the way. I had no difficulty getting into the shoes of these characters: I was raised by women, having not known my father, who died when I was less than a year old. Moreover, I have a wonderful editor, a woman who is an tremendous reader. That said, this is still a man's novel, a tribute to women and their courage. Where I come from, you don't have to be a woman to be able to talk about women, or a gay man to be able to talk about gay men. You just have to be a human being capable of empathy.

What is your background? How did it lead to writing fiction?

I have always read a lot since I was a child. I don't play any particular instrument, and I am unable to draw. This is a shame coming from a country like Haiti, where music and painting are the most common art forms. As I grew up, it was only natural that I found my favorite mode of expression in the written word. Like many Haitian writers, I entered literature through poetry. I published my first book of poems at the age of 19. I have never stopped since. However, fiction offers me other alternatives: space; the possibility of multiplying points of view, by slipping into the skin of characters sometimes opposite to what I am; without forgetting the absolute necessity, from my point of view, to tell a story. Also, my dual training as a literary scholar - I have a PhD in comparative literature - and as a journalist have taught me to be very careful also about the story to tell.
 
Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors? Is your own writing influenced by the authors you read?

You put me in difficulty with this question, there are so many. Let's say those who marked my adolescence and my early youth: Dostoevsky, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Philip Roth, Zora Neale Hurston, Gabriel García Márquez. As you can see, there are no poets among them. I started with poetry, and I keep writing and publishing poetry. The first authors I admired were poets.

That said, I hope I'm too old to write under the influence, unless of course it's a conscious game, a kind of dialogue with an author whose work I've admired, as I did with the poet Saint-John Perse in my last collection Cantique du balbutiement.

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

I'm a bulimic reader, and I read everything: novels, essays, short stories... except when I'm in the middle of writing. In that case, I only read newspapers, comics and poetry.

Before writing my new novel, which comes out next month, I read or re-read many books by authors from the United States: Russell Banks' Continental Drift, which I loved when it came out; Madison Smartt-Bell's trilogy, devoted to the history of Haiti; my compatriot Edwidge Danticat; Toni Morrison's Beloved, the novel I love most by her; Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad, whom I had the opportunity to meet in France at a literature festival; Chester Himes, who knows how to treat very serious subjects with a lot of humor. . . .

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author?

Read, read and read again. Then write, write and write as if your entire life depended on it; without thinking about anything else, neither about a possible publication nor about possible readers.

What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

For now, I've just finished a new novel, Milwaukee Blues, a fresco on racial tensions in the United States, which was inspired by the George Floyd tragedy. It will be published in Paris at the end of next month, by Sabine Wespieser editions.


THANK YOU, LOUIS-PHILLIPE!

THE MEDITERANNEAN WALL IS AVAILABLE ONLINE.




Thursday, August 5, 2021

A Few Words About Words: A Common-Sense Look at Writing and Grammar by Joseph J. Diorio - BOOK BEGINNINGS

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Halleluiah! My law partner and I unexpectedly settled the big case we were getting ready for trial! We've been working on this case for five years against the Assemblies of God on behalf of our 12 clients who were sexually abused when they were kids in the church's Royal Rangers program for boys. We filed the first case in 2016 and another two cases in 2018. We were supposed to start trial on September 7. 

Most civil cases settle before trial. Almost all sex abuse civil cases settle before trial. We figured we would be able to reach good settlements for most of our clients. But there were a few, one in particular, we thought would have to go to trial to get him the compensation we thought was fair. And then we had another round of mediation on Monday and, wowza! We met our goal and settled his claim too. It's a crazy feeling to work so hard (we had been working seven days a week for the last six weeks), and then just stop. We had a big adrenaline adjustment the last few days!

So I took the rest of the week off work. I've been reading a lot. I'll share the opening sentence of one of the books I'm enjoying this week. Please share the first sentence of your book here on Book Beginnings on Fridays.


MY BOOK BEGINNING

From A Few Words About Words: A Common-Sense Look at Writing and Grammar by Joseph J. Diorio:

I have written on my life. As a kid I would write and illustrate my own graphic novels, reaching into the depths of my attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) riddled imagination to make up original stories about a team of superheroes I called the “I.S. Men" or “Intercrime Stoppers."

I love grammar books! This new one from Beaufort Books comes out next week. Joe Diorio is the author of a popular newsletter of the same name that has been around for 30 years.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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

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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From A Few Words About Words:
Many of us may not have the right to vote if it weren't for clear and concise writing. 

During Ben Franklin's day, as he was knee-deep in the development of the United States and its Constitution, a battle raged in the Continental Congress over who gets the right to vote.


Monday, August 2, 2021

5 New Books for End of Summer Enjoyment -- MAILBOX MONDAY

 


MAILBOX MONDAY

It's time again for Mailbox Monday, where we share the books that have come our way in the past week (or so). What new books do you have to share?

I have a stack of enticing new books, all sure to provide end of summer summer enjoyment and autumn anticipation:


Rizzio by Denise Mina. This new novella is a historical thriller about the bloody assassination of David Rizzio, private secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1566. 

I adore Mina's contemporary crime fiction so am excited to get my hands on a preview copy of this new dark tale. Rizzio launches September 7 from Pegasus Books and is available for pre-order



You Are Enough! Reclaiming Your Career and Your Life with Purpose, Passion, and Unapologetic Authenticity by Charlene Wheeless (2021, Mascot Books). Charlene Wheeless shares the wisdom she's learned from her years as a Black woman executive and cancer survivor in her new book that is part memoir, part inspiring essays.


Welcome to Kamini by Don Engebretson. This is the debut novel from a seasoned magazine and short story writer.  It looks like a new(age) twist on a mid-life crisis story, with the hero heading to the Canadian woods to get over his failed marriage and professional tailspin. He meets an Ojibwe fishing guide and three powerful women who change his plans, and his life. 

This one comes out October 1 from Guernica Editions. I was lucky to get a review copy early and just hope I can get to it soon. It is available for pre-order now. 


Deep Hanging Out: Wanderings and Wonderment in Native California by Malcolm Margolin (2021, Heyday Books). Malcolm Margolin is a fixture in California's Native American community. Although not Native American himself, Margolin has been “deep hanging out” – immersing himself in a social, informal way – in California’s Indian country since the 1970s. 

This new book from Heyday Books is a collection of 30 articles and other pieces, mostly collected from News from Native California, a quarterly magazine Margolin founded in 1987.


A Few Words about Words: A Common-Sense Look at Writing and Grammar by Joseph J. Diorio. I love any and all grammar books! This new one from Beaufort Books comes out next week. Diorio is the author of a popular newsletter of the same name that has been around for 30 years.



Share your own new books on Mailbox Monday with other book lovers. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to share your post link, find links to the other participants' posts, and read more about Books that Caught Our Eye the week before.

Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf, and Velvet of vvb32reads are the gracious hosts of Mailbox Monday.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

SPIN: A Novel Based on a (Mostly) True Story by Peter Zheutlin -- BOOK REVIEW

 


SPIN BY PETER ZHEUTLIN: BOOK REVIEW


In June of 1894, a Boston housewife and mother named Annie Cohen Kopchovsky set off from Boston to go around the world by bicycle. Leaving her husband and three small children behind, she rebranded herself Annie Londonderry in honor of her first corporate sponsor, the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Co. of Nashua, New Hampshire, whose $100 fee also earned it a logo placard on her bike.

Annie’s tour was supposedly inspired by a bet about whether a woman could accomplish such a trip. As with much of the account of Annie’s adventure, the story of the bet may fall into the “too good to verify” category. Peter Zheutlin calls his new book SPIN: A Novel Based on a (Mostly) True Story because Londonderry was a born storyteller herself with a casual relationship with the truth. She freely embellished her accounts of her travels and was always ready to entertain an audience or the press. She left an extensive trail of newspaper coverage, which is the main source for Zheutlin’s book. But her own account was creative and he filled in gaps with his imagination, so readers are left to sort fact from fiction.

SPIN takes the form of a letter written by Annie in old age to her granddaughter Mary, which allows for a first-person narrative and more insight into Annie’s point of view. Still, SPIN is more than a quirky story of one woman’s adventure. It is the story of the late 1800s, an exciting time in the women’s movement for social equality and the vote. The book looks at how the bicycle radically transformed the lives of women in the late 19th century. There is a quote by Susan B. Anthony on the book’s cover that emphasizes the point: “Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” Annie Londonderry’s story is a case in point.

NOTES  

Recommended for historical fiction readers, bicyclists, fans of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, and book clubs.

Read my interview with Peter Zheutlin, here


Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Florentines: From Dante to Galileo: The Transformation of Western Civilization by Paul Strathern -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Can you believe July is coming to an end? This month flew by in a blur of work for me. August will be the same and, poof! There goes summer. Although, I will confess that I am not a hot weather person anyway. So if I have to go through a busy patch at the office, unlike many people, I prefer it to be in the summer because I hide here in the air conditioning. 

What end of month book are you happy about this week? Please share the opening sentence (or so) on Book Beginnings on Fridays! Add the link to you blog or social media post in the linky box below.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

From The Florentines: From Dante to Galileo: The Transformation of Western Civilization by Paul Strathern:

Between the birth of Dante in 1265 and the death of Galileo in 1642, something happened which would transform the entire culture of western civilization.

That is a bold assertion! In this new history of Florence, the cultural capital of Italy, Strathern explores how the ideas expressed in the art and architecture of the city led to the emergence of humanism as the driving philosophy of the Western world. 

The Florentines came out this month from Pegasus Books. It is a masterful examination of the history of Florence.  



YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please link to you BBOF post below. If you share on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag.

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.


THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From The Florentines:

Meanwhile, Florence embarked upon a costly and foolhardy attempt to conquer the neighboring small city-state of Lucca, which occupied the north-west corner of Tuscany and thus posed a potential, if unlikely, threat to Florence is trade route to the coast. The cost of this war, in the form of a steep rise in taxes, quickly led to a widespread and serious discontent among the people.

Any history of Europe that covers 400 years is going to have parts about wars and economics, as well as art and architecture. But with 400 years to cover in roughly 350 pages, Strathern never gets bogged down on a battlefield.  




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