Thursday, July 27, 2023

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Welcome to Book Beginnings on Fridays, where participants share the opening sentence (or so) of the books they are reading this week. Please share yours! You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it this week.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

“Is it a hanging?” an eager newspaper delivery boy asked to no one in particular.

-- from Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson. 

I'm a huge Kate Atkinson fan. Shrines of Gaiety is her most recent book, a novel about nightclub life in 1920s London. I just started the audiobook today and am already completely sucked in. Atkinson really knows how to spin a yarn.

Shrines is the perfect follow up to Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies that I finished last week. Both are about post-WWI, 1920s, London party life. The characters in Shrines even talk about the "Bright Young Things" in the society pages, which is exactly the framing for Waugh's book. 
 

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please add the link to your Book Beginnings 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 Shrines of Gaiety:
When younger, Frobisher had imagined many qualities in his future wife, but he had not anticipated hysterical amnesia. Lottie’s story was tragic and complicated — again, something he had not predicted in his future wife.
A police officer with a mentally ill French wife, a librarian willing to go undercover as a nightclub hostess, missing girls, damaged war veterans, a nightclub queen looking to hand over her empire to her six children -- I'm only a quarter of the way through the book and am entranced. 




Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Favorite Genres -- BOOK THOUGHTS

 

BOOK THOUGHTS

Here's a question for you: What are your favorite literary genres?

I will read most genres (except horror and erotica), but I mostly read literary fiction and mysteries. Within those broad categories, here are my favorite sub-genres.

CAMPUS NOVELS: My favorite type of novel! I keep a list of Campus Novels here on Rose City Reader. I like them snarky and glib. My favorites are the three originals – The Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy, Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, and Eating People is Wrong by Malcolm Bradbury. I also love David Lodge, Julie Schumacher, and Robertson Davies. My unpopular take? I didn’t care for Stoner by John Williams, although recently reprinted and quite popular. Too much of a downer for me.

CLOSED ROOM MYSTERIES: Country house weekends, creepy institutions, ships, remote locations, whatever. I love a mystery with a confined location and limited set of characters. Some of my favorite authors are Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Ruth Ware, and Lucy Foley.

AGA SAGAS: Nothing appeals to me more than a story about messy village life getting sorted by a friendly and competent, usually female, protagonist. Maeve Binchy was the queen of these books. I also enjoy Joanna Trollope, Rosamunde Pilcher, and Anne Tyler.

ADVENTURES OF WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE: I love stories about women about my age coming into their own. As with my campus fiction, I prefer funny over maudlin. Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan is a perfect example. I also like books by Erica Jong, Penelope Lively, Barbara Pym, Faye Weldon (when she isn’t too mean), and even nonfiction like Frances Mayes and anything by or about Julia Child.

MIDDLE-AGED MEN BEHAVING BADLY: I made this oe up, just like Adventures of Women of a Certain Age. But I enjoy this kind of book as much as campus novels. There’s often overlap between the two. So many of my favorite authors write these stories. Jim Harrison, Philip Roth, Kinsgley Amis, John Updike, Malcolm Bradbury, Howard Jacobson, Richard Ford, David Lodge, and Michael Frayn are all high on my list.

How about you? What are your favorite literary genres?



Thursday, July 20, 2023

Three Fires, by Denise Mina -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Please join me every Friday for Book Beginnings! 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 Instagram, Twitter, 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. Find me on Instagram, Facebook, 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.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

It's late afternoon as a Fra Girolamo Savonarola shuffles onto the raised stage at the front of the Hall of the Five Hundred.

-- from Three Fires, by Denise Mina, out August 1 from Pegasus Books. This is the story of Girolama Savonarola, a Dominican frier in 15th Century Florence. Savonarola rose as a puritanical leader of Florence after his preaching against the greed and vice of the ruling Medici family led to their loss of power.

Savonarola’s hellfire preaching inspired a series of fires around Florence lit to publicly burn books, fancy clothes, art, playing cards, musical instruments, and other symbols of immorality. These fires became known as the Bonfire of the Vanities.

I’m excited to get my hands on this advanced copy of Three Fires. I plan to enjoy it with a cool adult beverage out on my porch.


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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MY FRIDAY 56

From Three Fires:
Savonarola appears at the palazzo door and the crowd outside cheer enthusiastically, touch his cassock as he comes past. They part to let him through.



Thursday, July 13, 2023

One More Seat at the Round Table by Susan Dormady Eisenberg -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Please join me every Friday for Book Beginnings! 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 Instagram, Twitter, 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. Find me on Instagram, Facebook, 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.


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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MY BOOK BEGGINING
No doubt about it, success has been an answered prayer that's causing tears for my friends Alan Lerner and Fritz Loewe.
-- from the Prologue, "Brock Remsen's Journal[,] August 29, 1958," in One More Seat at the Round Table: A Novel of Broadway's Camelot by Susan Dormady Eisenberg.
I don't have psychic powers, but at various times in my life, I've felt a prickle along my neck when something big was about to happen.
-- from chapter 1, "Two Big Breaks[,] Jane."

I like everything about the opening of this new book. I like that the chapters have titles, we know already when the story is set and that there will be multiple points of view, and both of these sentences offer the little details that hint at the story to come. 

And while it isn't immediately obvious to anyone not a big fan of classic Broadway shows, Alan Lerner and Fritz Loewe are the real life writers of the music for the real Camelot musical. I like that the first sentence refers to them, so we know the story is based on historical events.

One More Seat looks like a highly entertaining story offering a glimpse backstage at a major production.  My only question is whether I read it right away or save it for once the weather turns chilly. It looks like it fits the bill for either a breezy summer read or a cozy fireside read. What do you think?

MY FRIDAY 56

Crossing Fifth Avenue, I glanced up the block, thronged with people toting shopping bags, and saw the stone faรงade of St Patrick's with its neo-Gothic steeples looming over midtown. The cathedral had opened in 1879, a fact I learned at age twelve when my Girl Scout trooped toured the city.

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
Set backstage during the out-of-town chaos of Lerner and Loewe's now-classic 1960 musical, One More Seat at the Round Table portrays the struggles of feisty drama school grad Jane Conroy, who lands a plum Gal Friday job, and Bryce Christmas, a gifted, if insecure, actor on the verge of his big break. When Jane and Bryce fall helplessly in love during Toronto tryouts, their relationship is tested by mistakes they make and endless work woes . . . .

As Lerner, composer Loewe, and their stars, Richard Burton and Julie Andrews, trudge on to Boston, doubts besiege Jane who hopes to buck convention and skip marriage and Bryce who wants a wife. . . .





Thursday, July 6, 2023

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Welcome to Book Beginnings on Fridays, where participants share the opening sentence (or so) of the books they are reading this week. Please share yours! You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it this week.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

It was clearly going to be a bad crossing.
-- from Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh. 

Now that I see this book starts on a ship crossing the ocean, I would have brought it on my first cruise vacation! I just got back yesterday from a Baltic cruise with my mom and sis. None of us have ever been on a cruise before. I brought plenty of books, but this one would have been on-theme.

I read Vile Bodies years ago as an audiobook. Obviously it didn't sink in because I forgot it starts on a ship. I'm rereading it now as part of an Instagram buddy read. I hope to get more out of it by reading it with my eyes this time. 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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

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THE FRIDAY 56

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.

MY FRIDAY 56

From Vile Bodies:
"How pretty Nina Blount is," said Lady Throbbing, busy from the front row with her lorgnette, "but don't you think, a little changed; almost as though . . ."

"You notice everything, darling."

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION

In the years following the First World War a new generation emerged, wistful and vulnerable beneath the glitter. The Bright Young Things of 1920s London, with their paradoxical mix of innocence and sophistication, exercised their inventive minds and vile bodies in every kind of capricious escapade. In these pages a vivid assortment of characters, among them the struggling writer Adam Fenwick-Symes and the glamorous, aristocratic Nina Blount, hunt fast and furiously for ever greater sensations and the hedonistic fulfillment of their desires. Evelyn Waugh's acidly funny satire reveals the darkness and vulnerability beneath the sparkling surface of the high life.


Saturday, July 1, 2023

Books I read in June -- MONTHLY WRAP UP


MONTHLY WRAP UP
June 2023

This might look like a pretty short stack of books for a whole month of reading. But wait! June was the month I went on a Baltic cruise with my mom and sis. After much handwringing, I ended up taking seven books with me on the trip, five of which I read in June (the other two in July, on the plane home). But those five books are not in this picture because I passed them on to my cruising companions.

Here’s a list of the 11 books I read in June, along with a few amazing marzipan bon bons I picked up in Kiel, Germany:

PICTURED

Lucia's Progress by E. F. Benson, the second book in Volume Two of the Mapp & Lucia series. I love all these books, with their mix of village charm and catty snark. ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

Trouble for Lucia, also by E. F. Benson, the last book in the series. I definitely see myself reading all these again some day. ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier, which I read with a lively group of women friends on Instagram. Who doesn’t love a sexy pirate? ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

Horse by Geraldine Brooks. This was a birthday gift from a friend because I usually don't have brand new hardbacks. I am so glad she gave it to me because it is such an excellent book! ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

NOT PICTURED

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, which my mom, sister, and I all read and loved. ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. Definitely a highlight. I look forward to the rest of the books in the series. ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

The Grave Gourmet by Alexander Campion. Good premise, but I found it oddly off kilter. ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

Ms. Demeanor by Elinor Lipman. Laugh out loud funny. My favorite of the trip. ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

A Simple Country Murder by Blythe Baker, a surprisingly good WWII cozy. ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. I’m making definite progress with this favorite series. I read this one with my ears because they are such wonderful audiobooks. ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

Assignment in Brittany by Helen MacInnes, a WWII spy novel published in 1942, which I also read as an audiobook. It has a doppelgรคnger theme similar to Daphne du Maurier’s 1957 novel, The Scapegoat, although the plots are completely different. ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

NOTE

I got behind on posting monthly wrap up posts this year. I'm going back and filling in some missing posts. 



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