Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope -- BOOK BEGINNINGS



BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
It was admitted by all her friends, and also by her enemies,—who were in truth the more numerous and active body of the two,—that Lizzie Greystock had done very well with herself.
-- from The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope. This is the third book in Trollope's "Palliser Novels" series. Unlike the others in the six-novel series, The Eustace Diamonds has little to do with Parliament or the characters in the other books. There is overlap, but this one stands on its own.

I'm reading this one, and the other Palliser books for a group read on Instagram. This is the only one of the six that I've read before. I greatly enjoyed it when I read it about 20 years ago and am loving the reread. This time, I'm reading it with my ears. 



YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from The Eustace Diamonds
Mr. Camperdown's first attempt was made by a most courteous and even complimentary note, in which he suggested to Lady Eustace that it would be for the advantage of all parties that the family jewels should be kept together. Lizzie as she read this note smiled, and said to herself that she did not exactly see how her own interests would be best served by such an arrangement.
FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
Following the death of her husband Sir Florian, beautiful Lizzie Eustace mysteriously comes into possession of a hugely expensive diamond necklace. She maintains it was a gift from her husband, but the Eustace lawyers insist she give it up, and while her cousin Frank takes her side, her new lover Lord Fawn states that he will only marry her if the necklace is surrendered. As gossip and scandal intensify, Lizzie's truthfulness is thrown into doubt, and, in her desire to keep the jewels, she is driven to increasingly desperate acts. The third in Trollope's Palliser series, The Eustace Diamonds bears all the hallmarks of his later works, blending dark cynicism with humour and a keen perception of human nature.


Thursday, June 13, 2024

Show Game by Steve Anderson -- Book Beginning

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
Show Game by Steve Anderson

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
I have the bastard, finally, I got him. Target number one.
-- from Show Game by Steve Anderson.

I'm a big fan of Steve Anderson's "Kaspar Brothers" series of WWII/Cold War thrillers. His new novel, Show Game, is a departure from the series. It is a modern-day psychological thriller about a vigilante targeting wrongdoers, starting with a pedophile priest. It looks pretty dark, but good!

Of course, Show Game caught my attention right away because of the priest angle. I've spent the last 18 years doing nothing but going after pedophiles and the institutions that harbored them. I've used the courts, not kidnapping, but I admit I can understand the vigilante idea.

Show Game launches in July, but is available for pre-order now. 



YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from Show Game

There's no actual timer counting down but it's not a bad idea. Maybe in a future production.

This is going to be exciting! 

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
The pandemic may be over, but the world is not safe for those who prey on the innocent. A vigilante known by the alias "Alex" knows what these transgressors have done. And taking them captive is only the first step toward vengeance. In order to be set free, they must first play the Show Game . . .

A predatory priest, a double-dealing politician, a fraudulent philanthropist--Alex has ways of making them confess, on camera, for all the world to witness. But the Show Game is building toward a darkly personal finale: exposing society's most notorious and evil abuser.

As Alex gets closer to the main event, investigative reporter Owen Tanaka is determined to unmask the vigilante's true identity and motive. But when a shocking revelation hits close to home, Owen must decide whether to stop a criminal mastermind's devious scheme . . . or let the Show Game play its final round.




Thursday, June 6, 2024

Real Tigers by Mick Herron -- BOOK BEGINNING

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Real Tigers by Mick Herron

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

Like most forms of corruption, it began with men in suits. 

-- from Real Tigers by Mick Herron, book three in his Slough House series. 

I just finished this one and loved it. The plots are intricate (sometimes confusingly so) and the characters are so wonderfully flawed. Jackson Lamb, the leader of the Slow Horses, says the most outrageous stuff! 

I've been trying to read as many of the series as I can before I start watching the tv show. That hasn't been difficult because The Tourist kept me enthralled for a couple of weeks, between seasons of Justified. We just started season four of Justified, so I still have time to read more of the Herron books. 

Have you read any of the Slough House books? Or watched the tv show?


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from Real Tigers:

On the move, walking faster, she found her phone, re-called Lamb, and went straight to voicemail again. Disconnecting, she once more considered knocking on a stranger’s door: but then what?

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
When one of their own is kidnapped, the washed-up MI5 operatives of Slough House—the Slow Horses, as they're known—outwit rogue agents at the very highest levels of British Intelligence, and even to Downing Street itself.

London: Slough House is the MI5 branch where disgraced operatives are reassigned after they’ve messed up too badly to be trusted with real intelligence work. The “Slow Horses,” as the failed spies of Slough House are called, are doomed to spend the rest of their careers pushing paper, but they all want back in on the action.


Saturday, June 1, 2024

12 Books Soon -- BOOK THOUGHTS

 

BOOK THOUGHTS

12 Books Soon!

This was a hair on fire week for me with work. The deadline in the Boy Scout bankruptcy to file all claims on behalf of sexual abuse survivors was May 31. I am happy to say that we now have everything filed on behalf of our 69 clients with claims, but it was insane getting it all done. 

I don't have the capacity to actually concentrate on a book, but I am unwinding by playing with my books. Here are twelve books I am either currently reading or hope to get to soon, which puts them on my TBR ASAP list.

See anything here you’ve read or would like to?

Warming Up Julia Child: The Remarkable Figures Who Shaped a Legend by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz. I bought this at the Smithsonian when I was there recently, after I finally visited Julia Child’s kitchen. I just finished it this morning. Read my thoughts, here

The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope. I'm in a Palliser Readalong group on Instagram and this is the next up in the series. It is the only book in the series that I've read before -- two times in fact -- but I am looking forward to reading it again, in context and with a discussion group. 

The Fallen Idol by Graham Greene. This novella (and a short story I can’t remember) are included in my Folio edition of The Third Man, which I read last month. I want to finish off the short pieces so I can move this book off my TBR shelf.

The Light of Day by Eric Ambler. I’m listening to the audiobook of this one, which won the Edgar Award for best mystery in 1964. It is funny, exciting, and quirky. This is the first Eric Ambler book I've read but it won't be the last. 

Lines of Deception by Steve Anderson, the latest in his Kaspar Brothers series of WWII/Cold War thrillers.

Last Chance in Paris by Lynda Marron. I am particularly excited to read this one so bought a copy from Blackwell's because it isn't available from US sellers yet.

Cabaret Macabre by Tom Mead. This is the third book in his series of historical, locked room mysteries featuring retired conjurer Joseph Spector. I was fortunate to get my hands on a review copy, but wanted to read the first two in the series before this one. I just finished the others and am looking forward to this one.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle. A friend gave me this and I want to read it so we can talk about it.

The Messenger by Megan Davis. This is a review copy that I forgot about and am now burdened by guilt I haven’t read it yet.

Hanging the Devil by Tim Maleeny is another one! I made a stack of these and then forgot them. This one, about an audacious heist from a San Francisco museum, sounds great!

J by Howard Jacobson is next up on my TBR 24 in '24 list. Jacobson is one of my favorite authors, so I expect I will love it even though I am not a big fan of dystopian novels as a rule. 

The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy is another gift from a friend. I just can't decide if I should read the earlier books before this one.

How was your week? Better than mine, I hope! Here's to a relaxing weekend!




Thursday, May 30, 2024

Warming Up Julia Child: The Remarkable Figures Who Shaped a Legend by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz -- BOOK BEGINNING

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Warming Up Julia Child: The Remarkable Figures Who Shaped a Legend by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

Julia Child was a person of great intelligence, drive, and accomplishment, but she did not work and achieve alone. This is a book about friendship and collaboration.

-- from Warming Up Julia Child: The Remarkable Figures Who Shaped a Legend by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz.

Last week, I finally visited the Smithsonian Museum of US History and saw Julia Child's kitchen. I'm a huge Julia Child fan, so this visit has been high on my list for a long time. It was well worth it. Very cool!

I bought this book at the Smithsonian gift shop and started it immediately, I've read many books by and about Julia Child. This one is a little repetitive -- they all are -- but it focusses on the people who helped Child create and launch Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her tv show, The French Chef. The author draws heavily from archived primary sources, mostly personal correspondence. It makes me feel like I was right there with Child and her team of helpers. I love it. 

I'm not so keen on the title, but that doesn't detract from the book. To me, Warming Up Julia Child sounds like she's leftovers. Or was left out in the cold. 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from Warming Up Julia Child:
After apologizing that she, not Bernard, was writing in thanks, Avis [DeVoto] stated, “I am green with envy at your chance to study French cooking.” With this she opened the conversation that the two would sustain for as long as Avis lived.
This book makes me long for the days of letter writing! The speed and convenience of email has cost us a valuable historic record. 

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
Warming Up Julia Child is behind-the-scenes look at this supporting team, revealing how the savvy of these helpers, collaborators, and supporters contributed to Julia's overwhelming success.

Julia is the central subject, but Helen Horowitz has her share the stage with those who aided her work. She reveals that the most important element in Julia Child’s ultimate success was her unusual capacity for forming fruitful alliances, whether it was Paul Child, Simone Beck, Avis DeVoto, Judith Jones and William Koshland (at Knopf), and Ruth Lockwood (at WGBH). Without the contribution of these six collaborators Julia could never have accomplished what she did.

Filled with vivid correspondence, fascinating characters, and the iconic joie de vivre that makes us come back to Julia again and again,
Warming Up Julia Child is essential reading for anyone who adores Julia and her legacy.


Lost & Found: Public Theology in a Secular Age by Michael A. Milton -- BOOK BEGINNING

 


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAY

Lost & Found: Public Theology in a Secular Age by Michael A. Milton

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
Some argue the case from anecdotal evidence and others from social research.
— from the author's introduction to Lost & Found: Public Theology in the Secular Age by Michael A. Milton (2024, WIPF and Stock Publishers).
The content of Lost & Found: Public Theology in the Secular Age is presented with a primary concern for the glory of God and the good of His creation.
—from the author's Preface.
The Lord instructed Isaiah to cry aloud and spare not: the truth of God applied to the presenting issues in the most public form possible.
— from chapter one, Cry Aloud and Spare Not: The Meaning of Public Theology and the Secular Age.

I gave three teasers from the beginning of this book to try to introduce it properly. Lost & Found is a new nonfiction book aimed theologians — pastors, professors, seminary students, etc. Still, even though the target audience may be professionals, or professionals in training, it is interesting for any Christian looking for a biblical response to social issues. 

The book sounds interesting to me, so I am happy to get a review copy. My first step was to look up what "public theology" means because it is not a term I am familiar with. The clearest definition google found for me says public theology is "a critical reflection on faith and its implications for society." Wikipedia has a pretty good article explaining public theology

Michael A. Milton is a Presbyterian minister, retired US Army Chaplain, professor, and author. Lost & Found also includes contributions from theologians John Frame, George Grant, Peter Lillback, and John Panagiotou. 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

—from Lost & Found:
Economics and the pursuit of monetary gain have become idols and an end unto themselves. The Church Fathers, earlier, and Calvin, later, taught economics and wealth-building as a means to the end of advancing the Kingdom of God.
Food for thought, for sure!

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
No one doubts we have quickly moved to what Charles Taylor called "a secular age." How do Christian pastors, professors, seminary students, and others respond to the myriad issues now facing the Body of Christ? Following on a biblical and reformed understanding of public theology, Milton along with trusted theologians . . . not only provide biblical responses to the issues of our time but in doing so give the Church a method, a way, to conduct faithful Gospel ministry in an increasingly hostile post-Christian world. A must for classes on ethics, sociology of religion, pastoral theology, and serious-minded Christians seeking insight that they might "Understand of the times."


Thursday, May 23, 2024

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

She only waned to get out of town.

-- from A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable.

That's an appropriate Book Beginning for me because I took this book out of town with me. It is about an art appraiser (specializing in antique furniture) sent to Paris to value an apartment full of old furniture and art. The apartment had been locked up for 70 years, owned by someone who didn't live in Paris. When she died, her heir called in the appraisers to prepare the contents for auction. This was a good pick for my trip because I'm in Washington, DC, visiting a lot of museums, and seeing a lot of art.

 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from A Paris Apartment:
Marthe's flat was so thick with museum-quality furnishings one could hardly walk through without stumbling. April's flat was so sparse she wondered if there were enough places to rest both her backside and her computer simultaneously.
FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
April Vogt, Sotheby's continental furniture specialist, is speechless when a Paris apartment shuttered for seventy years is discovered in the ninth arrondissement. Beneath the cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine, and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there's a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian. These documents reveal that she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly April's quest is no longer about the bureaux plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction. It's about discovering the story behind this charismatic woman.


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Riders by Jilly Cooper -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Riders by Jilly Cooper

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
Because he had to get up unusually early on Saturday, Jake Lovell kept waking up throughout the night, racked by terrifying dreams about being late.
-- from Riders by Jilly Cooper. We can all relate to that opening sentence!

I had never heard of Jilly Cooper until I saw this cover on Instagram last week. It is one to catch the eye! I went down a Jilly Cooper rabbit hole and can't believe the fun I've been missing. Her books sound like pure, escapist fun, especially the Rutshire Chronicles series, of which Riders is the first of 11. Riders was first published in 1985, but not with this racy cover from the 2015 reissue.

 You can buy Riders on the US amazon site, but it is expensive. I got this brand new copy from Blackwell's Books in England for a very reasonable price, including free delivery to the US. And it got here in about a week. 



YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from Riders:
The hostess was kind, but too distraught about gate crashers to introduce Tory to more than two young men, who both, as usual, danced one dance, then led her back and propped her against a pillar like an old umbrella, pretending they were just off to get her a drink or had to dance with their hostess. Thinking about Jake non-stop didn't insulate her from the misery of it all.

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
Set against the glorious Cotswold countryside and the playgrounds of the world, Jilly Cooper's Rutshire Chronicles . . . offer an intoxicating blend of skulduggery, swooning romance, sexual adventure and hilarious high jinks.

Riders, the first and steamiest in the series, takes the lid off international showjumping, a sport where the brave horses are almost human, but the humans behave like animals.


Thursday, May 9, 2024

The Royal Secret by Lucinda Riley -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

The Royal Secret by Lucinda Riley

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
"James, darling, what are  you doing?"

-- from The Royal Secret by Lucinda Riley. I have not read her books before, but this one looks like a fun adventure involving the Royal Family.  Although I admit the opening sentence is a little unsettling for me because my husband's name is James. What's going to happen?

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from The Royal Secret:
The next was a large, creased brown envelope, addressed in spidery writing so indecipherable she was amazed it had even reached her. She tore it open and took out its contents.
That's a good tease! I can't wait to find out what's in the letter!

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
When Sir James Harrison, one the greatest actors of his generation, passes away at the age of ninety-five, he leaves behind not just a heartbroken family but also a secret so shocking, it could rock the English establishment to its core.

Joanna Haslam, an up-and-coming reporter, is assigned to cover the legendary actor’s funeral, attended by glitzy celebrities of every background. But Joanna stumbles on something dark beneath the glamour: the mention of a letter James Harrison has left behind—the contents of which many have been desperate to keep concealed for over seventy years. As she peels back the veil of lies that has shrouded the secret, she realizes that she’s close to uncovering something deadly serious—and the royal family may be implicated. Before long, someone is on her tracks, attempting to prevent her from discovering the truth. And they’ll stop at nothing to reach the letter before she does.


Thursday, May 2, 2024

Outsider in Amsterdam by Janwilliams van de Wettering -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS

Outsider In Amsterdam by Janwilliams van de Wettering

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
The Volkswagen was parked on the wide sidewalk of the Haarlemmer Houttuinen, opposite number 5, and it was parked the way it shouldn't be parked.
-- from Outsider in Amsterdam by Janwilliams van de Wettering.  I love Soho Press's "Soho Crimes" imprint because they specialize in mystery series set in different countries. I also love the candy colored spines. Whenever I find any at library friends shops or the like, I snap them up, especially if, like this one, they are the first book in a series. My dream is to one day read all the Soho Crime books I collected, straight through. 

This book is the first in the Grijpstra & DeGier series, also known as the Amsterdam Cops series, probably because no one can spell or pronounce Grijpstra.


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from Outsider in Amsterdam:
The accountant sucked pensively on his cigar and began to cough. He looked ferocious and the saggy cigar stub was killed with savage power.
FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
On a quiet street in downtown Amsterdam, the founder of a new religious society/commune—a group that calls itself “Hindist” and mixes elements of various “Eastern” traditions—is found hanging from a ceiling beam. Detective-Adjutant Gripstra and Sergeant de Gier of the Amsterdam police are sent to investigate what looks like a simple suicide, but they are immediately suspicious of the circumstances.

This now-classic novel, first published in 1975, introduces Janwillem van de Wetering’s lovable Amsterdam cop duo of portly, worldly-wise Gripstra and handsome, contemplative de Gier.

I have no idea why the names are spelled differently in the description than they are on the cover of the book! Other than they are spelled in a more difficult way on the cover. Perhaps the publisher simplified them in a later edition.

 



Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Road Trip Books -- BOOK THOUGHTS

 


BOOK THOUGHTS

Road Trip Books

What are you up to this week?

I’m heading off to drive from my house in Portland to my sister’s house in Omaha. When she and our mom moved back to our hometown two years ago, I ended up with the last bits and pieces that didn’t fit in the moving PODs.

Which explains why I’ve been fostering this gorgeous Italian pot for my sis. She and our mom used to have a business importing Italian ceramics, which is how this pot came into her life in the first place. Now it is time to haul it to the Midwest. I am going to miss this gorgeous thing in my house.

I haven’t packed my suitcases yet, but I’ve picked the books I want to take with me. I’m trying something new. Normally, I take pocket paperbacks when I travel with the idea that they don't take up much room and I can leave them along the way as I finished them. But I decided to take space hogging hardbacks this time. Although the car will be crowded, there's always room for books. If I can leave them behind when I finish, I will have cleared substantial space on my TBR shelves.

That’s why I picked mysteries. I was looking for quick reads I don’t intend to keep after I finish. Have you read any of these books or authors? What do you think of my picks?
I'll be gone for 10 days. I probably will not read all five of these. But I might read four of them and probably three. My fear is that I may not finish a couple of them, if they are too scary for me or I just don't like them. I also have a niggling worry that I've already read the Susan Isaacs book. Better to have a couple for insurance in case there are a couple of DNFs in the mix. 

My companion on this road trip is my private eye friend. I know we will have lots to talk about! We will stay with her mom in Montana the first night, visit Mt. Rushmore the second night, and get to Omaha on the third evening. Lots of driving! But I borrowed library audiobooks of Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and Still Life by Sarah Winman to keep us entertained — when we’re not yakking.

Our plans for the return trip are up in the air. We’re not sure when we will leave to come back to Oregon because she’s working on a big case and there’s an FBI agent and a couple of witnesses she needs to meet with in Nebraska. Also, we have to dodge the tornadoes!


Thursday, April 25, 2024

Julius by Daphne du Maurier -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
Julius by Daphne du Maurier

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

His first instinct was to stretch out his hands towards the sky.
-- from Julius by Daphne du Maurier. This is the current book I'm reading as part of a Du Maurier Deep Dive group I'm in on Instagram. We are getting down the the last few of du Maurier's books. This is the third book she wrote.  Julius, the protagonist, is an unpleasant person, but the story moves along at a clip and is much more entertaining than what we read last month, I'll Never be Young Again (perhaps universally disliked by our group, a first). 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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

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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from Julius:
The driver stopped before a humble white building, almost hidden, squeezed between two projecting houses. “This is a synagogue,” he said, and he spat disdainfully, holding out his hand already for his money.
What makes a story so interesting is Julius's struggle with his Jewish heritage and antisemitism. That is a sympathetic storyline, even though he is so horrible otherwise. The conflict between the two sides of his character gives weight to the story.

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
A chilling story of ambition, Daphne du Maurier's third novel has lost none of its ability to unsettle and disturb. Julius Lévy has grown up in a peasant family in a village on the banks of the Seine. A quick-witted urchin caught up in the Franco-Prussian War, he is soon forced by tragedy to escape to Algeria. Once there, he learns the ease of swindling, the rewards of love affairs, and the value of secrecy. Before he’s 20, he’s in London, where his empire-building begins in earnest. Driven by a lifelong hunger for power, he becomes a rich and ruthless man. His one weakness is his daughter Gabriel.




Rut or Routine? -- BOOK THOUGHTS

 

BOOK THOUGHTS

Rut or Routine?

I’m a creature of habit, for sure. There are some things I like to do over and over, the same way, for years. For example, I’m on a board that meets four times a year at an office in the suburbs. I may pass that building 12 or 15 times a year, but only after the quarterly board meeting do I regularly do three nearby things: (1) stop at the Cat Fanciers’ Thrift Shop, (2) pick up yummy things to eat at the Ukrainian grocery store, and (3) fill up with slightly less expensive suburban gas. I’ve been on this board for over ten years and have done those same things after every meeting.

So, should I branch out? Explore other things to do out that way? Break it up and run those errands on a non-board meeting day? Or should I stick with what I know makes me happy? I read an article once that stuck with me. It described some real study that looked to determine whether people were happier when, on repeated visits to the same restaurant, they ordered the same, favorite thing or they tried new things each time. The conclusion was that most people were happier ordering the same favorite and not exploring the menu.

That’s me to a T! I’m often up for some exploring and even a little adventure, but I love my routines. I’ll banish the idea of calling them ruts. Maybe I should call them traditions, not routines, because that has a nobler ring to it. What about you? Do you prefer a familiar routine or are you always finding and trying new things?

Why do I bring this up? Well, because on my post-board meeting rounds last Friday, I found this book at the Cat Fanciers’ shop. (I also found a beautiful pink and green porcelain tea cup and saucer, but my tableware obsession is a different topic!) The book, The Royal Secret by Lucinda Riley (called The Love Letter in the UK), looks terrific. It’s a mystery with a lot of suspense and some romance about “an ambitious young journalist [who] unravels a dangerous mystery that threatens to devastate the British monarchy.” Sounds like quite a yarn!



Thursday, April 18, 2024

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING

One sunny April afternoon in 1990 two Englishman strode up the steps of London's Tate Gallery, passed beneath the imposing statues atop the pediment — Britannia, the lion, and the unicorn — and made their way through the grand portico into one of the world's great museums.

-- from Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo. 

I just started this nonfiction book about an elaborate art scam and am completely sucked in. 

YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

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

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This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

From Provenance
After several more visits to Jane Drew's country home, Drewe began systematically widening his circle of art world acquaintances by dropping her name and inviting members of the establishment to lunch with them. He reserved tables at Claridge's or at L'Escargot in Soho for such eminent Londoners as the former head of the Tate Gallery, Alan Bowness — Ben Nicholson's son-in-law — and the art critic David Sylvester, who had once had his portrait painted by Giacometti.

FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION

Filled with extraordinary characters and told at breakneck speed, Provenance reads like a well-plotted thriller. But this is most certainly not fiction. It is the astonishing narrative of one of the most far-reaching and elaborate cons in the history of art forgery. Stretching from London to Paris to New York, investigative reporters Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo recount the tale of infamous con man and unforgettable villain John Drewe and his accomplice, the affable artist John Myatt. Together they exploited the archives of British art institutions to irrevocably legitimize the hundreds of pieces they forged, many of which are still considered genuine and hang in prominent museums and private collections today.


Book and Birthdays -- BOOK THOUGHTS


BOOK THOUGHTS

Books and Birthdays

Today is my husband’s birthday so I baked his favorite German chocolate cake! 

I have other birthday plans in the works, but I'm going to take a book break first. I plan to put my feet up for a few minutes with this terrific book, Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by husband and wife writing team Laney Salisbury and Aly Sugo. I've only just started it and am completely sucked in. It’s mesmerizing.

Here’s a bit of baking trivia for you. Every time I make this cake for my husband, I am reminded that “German chocolate cake” has nothing to do with Germany. “German’s Sweet Chocolate” is a type of baking chocolate developed in the US by Samuel German in 1852 for his employer, Baker’s Chocolate.

A newspaper invented the recipe for German chocolate cake in the 1950s. It is a popular cake, mostly because of the coconut pecan frosting. But don’t try to order it in Germany! They don’t know what you are talking about.

I don’t know if German chocolate cake is even a thing outside the US. Is it?

To be honest, this is a "Perfect All American Chocolate Butter Cake" from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Hubby likes any chocolate cake with this frosting (which I make with toasted, unsweetened coconut and toasted walnuts instead of pecans). I find a real German chocolate cake to be a little pale and sweet. I picked this recipe because it isn't difficult and doesn't require the eggs to be separated. I am always put off by having to whip and fold in the egg whites separately.  

And to be even more completely honest, I messed it up. Despite baking chocolate cake for my husband at least a dozen times, not to mention baking in general for about 55 years, I had some kind of brain blip yesterday and put in half the butter! That’s why the layers are so thin. I was ready to start over and make another cake, but Hubby saved me from myself. He said he would like it no matter what, even if it was more like a giant cookie. Fortunately, we tried it this morning and it is good. A little dry, yes, but not bad. The frosting is delicious and saves the cake.



Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Kingsley Amis, Favorite Author -- BOOK THOUGHTS

 

BOOK THOUGHTS
Kingsley Amis, Favorite Author

"If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing."
~ Kingsley Amis in Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis was born on this day in 1922. He is in my pantheon of favorite authors, right up there with Graham Greene, Jim Harrison, Iris Murdoch, Philip Roth, Muriel Spark, and Evelyn Waugh.

But Amis holds a special place in my reader’s heart. His Lucky Jim book, which I first read in a college lit class, opened my eyes to the idea that “literature” could be funny. Until then – after books in school like The Grapes of Wrath, A Separate Peace, and Othello – I assumed all “good” writing was stone cold serious. I even missed the funny bits in books like Huckleberry Finn and Oliver Twist because I was sure anything I thought was funny must be a mistake on my part, not intentional. 

Then a professor assigned Lucky Jim and I couldn’t help laughing. Here was poor Jim Dixon, bumbling his way through college (as a new professor) just like me and my friends: Jim trying to go to class hungover, struggling through a lecture while drunk, getting rejected in love, wanting to impress the adults, and making embarrassing gaffes. I was laughing and my professor was explaining how the novel was a turning point in English literature. Turn away, I thought. I want more of this.

Because of Amis, I learned to read "good books" for pleasure, not just because I should. So I’ve been an Amis fan going on 40 years. I’m still less than halfway through all his books because he was prolific. He was fortunate to live in a time when the publishing industry tolerated popular authors writing anything they wanted, as long as they turned out a new book on a regular basis. Along with the comic novels of which he was the master, he turned his hand to mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, alternate history, poetry, biography, and essays. He was also a prodigious letter writer, especially with his buddy Philip Larkin.

The picture above is my collection of Amis books. Those I’ve read are on the left. This includes four volumes of Lucky Jim, which even I recognize is excessive, but I love the Penguin triband and the later Penguin with the Edward Gorey cover. Those in the stack on the right are the ones on my TBR shelf, including two biographies.

Have you read anything by Kingsley Amis? What’s your favorite? 

I keep a bibliography of Kingsley Amis books here on Rose City Reader, noting those I've finished, those on my TBR shelf, and those I have yet to track down. 




Thursday, April 11, 2024

Last Chance in Paris by Lynda Marron -- BOOK BEGINNINGS

 

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.

MY BOOK BEGINNING
Only an idiot would travel without a book.
-- from Last Chance in Paris by Lynda Marron. Well, that sentence caught my fancy! I don't know exactly where she is going with this idea, but I appreciate the sentiment. 

Last Chance in Paris is Marron's debut novel. It is the story of a couple who goes to Paris to save their marriage and crosses paths with several others on their own adventures in the city. Sounds like a fun read and it's getting a lot of buzz in Ireland where Marron lives. 

I am adding Last Chance in Paris to my "French Connections" list of books set in France. 

The book isn’t out in the US yet. But I ordered a copy from Blackwell's in the UK. The price was reasonable and free shipping to the US – can’t beat that! I may have been tempted to order several other book while I was at it – love those British editions we can’t get over here. Shopping at Blackwell's, even online, brings back happy memories of shopping for my school books at the original Blackwell's in Oxford when I was there for a year of college. 


YOUR BOOK BEGINNINGS

Please add the link to your Book Beginnings post in the box 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.
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THE FRIDAY 56

The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.

MY FRIDAY 56

-- from Last Chance in Paris:
There was, rising in her gut, a feeling of guilt that she had led him on and was about to let him down, combined with irritation that she was somehow responsible for first stalling his disappointment.

“C'mon, Claire — we're nearly there.”
PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
When her husband suggests a romantic break, Claire feels obliged to say yes but immediately regrets it. After the tragedy they've been through, how can one weekend in Paris save their marriage? Claire and Ronan aren't the only people on a make-or-break visit to the City of Love. There is a big-shot movie producer from Hollywood, full of regret for a life ill-lived; a student from Boston, torn between love and duty; a Ukrainian refugee struggling to protect her little sister; and an old woman from Dijon, hoping to be braver than she has ever had to be before. When their lives briefly intertwine, something extraordinary happens...








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