Dec 21, 2017

High-Risers by Ben Austen: Book Beginning


High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing

High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing by Ben Austen
Genre: nonfiction
Publication: February 6, 2018, Harper

High-Risers braids personal narratives, city politics, and national history to tell the timely and epic story of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green, America’s most iconic public housing project.
Book beginning:
Portrait of a Chicago Slum
Tucked into the elbow where the river tacks north, just beyond the Loop and a mie from Lake Michigan, it is as historic a neighborhood as there is in Chicago.In 2016, it was named one of the city's best places to live. A couple of generations earlier, and more than a century after the banks of the Near North Side were settled, surveyors from the Chicago Housing Authority walked its narrow streets, confirming with every step their belief that it was a slum beyond salvation. 

(This quote is from an uncorrected proof. The final copy may differ).
Memes:  visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Dec 19, 2017

The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky: First Chapter


The Fortunate Ones

The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky,
November 21, 2017, William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: blend of historical and contemporary fiction
Setting, Vienna, 1939 and Los Angeles, present day

First chapter:
Vienna 1936
Oma wanted to send a telegram to Papi in Paris, but Mutti said no. "He will be back in three days. He will know soon enough," Mutti said from the cot in the little room that would have been the nursery. She had moved in once the pains began. ("It's too early!" Rose had heard Mutti cry out.) The doctor had come and gone, the sheets had been changed, the blood scrubbed away. Without any evidence, it almost seemed to Rose as if it hadn't happened. 

Book description:
A Chaim Soutine painting—will connect the lives and fates of two different women, generations apart, in this debut novel that moves from World War II Vienna to contemporary Los Angeles.

Would you continue reading, based on the beginning and book description?
MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon

Dec 17, 2017

Sunday Salon: The Girl in Times Square by Paullina Simons

Visit The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date
The Girl in Times Square
A new book this week, thanks to William Morrow: The Girl in Times Square by Paullina Simons,
December 19, 2017, William Morrow.
"(A) riveting novel about a young woman whose search for her missing friend turns into a life-shattering odyssey." Part mystery, part romance, part family drama . . . in other words, the perfect book.—Daily Mail 

I am finishing up Ne lache pas ma main,  in French, by Michel Bussi, a thriller set on the French island of Reunion, Indian Ocean. Slow going, but good!


Also reading:

Rebellion by Molly Patterson, August 8, 2017, courtesy of Harper

"the stories of four women who dare to challenge the boundaries of their circumscribed lives." From rural Illinois to the far reaches of China, a vibrant story of compassion and discovery... (publisher)

"Molly Patterson is a writer of the first order, and her debut novel is a revealatory, immersive miracle. Ambitious in scope and exacting in its language, Rebellion becomes a grand exploration of fate and circumstance."—Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus

What books are on your desk this week?

Dec 11, 2017

It's Monday: Cozies and French thrillers

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date. Visit also Mailbox Monday.
The title of this cozy, Twelve Angry Librarians, February 21, 2017, caught my eye. I can't imagine twelve angry librarians, at least not in the same space. The book is the eighth in the Cat in the Stacks series.

Dial M for Mousse (Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery #3)

Dial M for Mousse by Laura Bradford, Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery #3, January 2, 2018, from Berkley.
Baker Winnie Johnson works overtime to satisfy the emergency cravings of Silver Lake, Ohio and solves a murder mystery along the way. 






Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley, January 2, 2018, Berkley Books
Victorian cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered. 
Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #1)

Other reading last week: I finally finished a French thriller by Michel Bussi,
 N'oublier jamais, one I can recommend to those who read in French sometimes. A plot with so many twists and turns and unbelievably complex and interesting characters, not to mention the setting on the coast of Normandy, France.
N'oublier jamais

I am now reading another thriller by Bussi, Ne lache pas ma main, set in the island of Reunion, a French territory in the Indian Ocean. Its about a tourist mother who disappears from her hotel on the island, leaving behind her young daughter and husband. I am eager to see if she fled or if she was abducted. I'm sure the plot will have more twists and turns.
Ne l√Ęche pas ma main

Happy reading week everyone! 

Dec 8, 2017

Book Beginning: The Making of a Dream by Laura Wides-Munoz


The Making of a Dream: How a group of young undocumented immigrants helped change what it means to be American

The Making of a Dream: How a Group of Young Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change What It Means to Be American by Laura Wides-Munoz, January 30, 2018, Harper
Genre: nonfiction

Book beginning:
It would only be a few weeks. 
That's what Hareth Andrade-Ayala's parents told her when they planned he trip to Washington, D.C. Eight-year-old Hareth and her little sister would travel from La Paz, Bolivia, with their grandparents. Their parents would join the girls later. 
Hareth's grandparents had lived with the family as long as she could remember, always game for her bits of theater, jokes, and dances, all the stuff her parents were too tired to sit through. She'd traveled to visit relatives with them before. This would be another of their adventures.
Page 56: 
What was she? She was an undocumented immigrant. She was also a hard-driving honors student whe'd been high school swim team captain and had dreamed of going to college. 
Book description: A journalist chronicles the story of a movement and a nation, witnessed through five young undocumented activists who are transforming society’s attitudes toward one of the most contentious political matters roiling America today: immigration. (publisher)

I'm interested in reading about the experiences of these real life young undocumented immigrants who are succeeding in their lives in the U.S. Quotes are from an uncorrected proof ; the final copy may differ. 
Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Dec 5, 2017

First Chapter: Beau Death by Peter Lovesey


Beau Death (A Detective Peter Diamond Mystery)

Beau Death by Peter Lovesey, December 5, 2017, Soho Crime
Genre: British detective series

Peter Diamond digs deep into Bath history to ferret out the secrets of one of its most famous (and scandalous) icons: Richard “Beau” Nash, who might have been the victim of a centuries-old murder.

First paragraph:
The kid was forever asking questions.
"What are those people doing, Dad?"
"I don't know, son. Just looking/"
"Why?"
"Why what/?"
"Why are they looking?"
"It's some kind of building site. The contractors put those high fences round for safety, but some people like to see what's going on, so they make little windows in the panels."

Based on the book description and the first chapter, first paragraph, would you keep reading?

MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon

Dec 3, 2017

Sunday Salon: A Romance and Greek Mystery Novels

Vinegar Girl
I finished and reviewed Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn, a retelling in modern times of the King Lear story. I have decided to read others in the Hobarth Shakespeare series as well.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler retells The Taming of the Shrew. It was an enjoyable, light read, basically a love story about 29-year-old Kate, whose scientist father engineered a romance by matchmaking her with his research assistant, Pyotr. Kate is unwilling to help her father - he needs to keep Pyotr in the country to continue his research, and Pyotr's visa is about to expire. Kate's father tries to persuade Kate to an arranged marriage so that Pyotr can legally stay in the country. 

How Pyotr manages to win her over is the theme of the story, and Tyler has done a marvelous job with her retelling of Shakespeare's story. 
The Lady of Sorrows (The Greek Detective #4)
Another book I finished recently was a Greek mystery, The Lady of Sorrows by Anne Zouroudi.
Set on a remote Greek island, the plot surrounds the poisoning of a local fisherman and the possible connection to the icon of Our Lady of Sorrows in the local church. There are also questions about the catacombs beneath the church and the secrets kept by some of the colorful local people of the village. The investigator is a visitor to the island, the enigmatic detective Hermes Diaktoros, whom the novel refers to only as the Fat Man. A good plot and an intriguing setting, the book looks at another side of of an otherwise beautiful tourist island.

The Whispers of Nemesis (The Greek Detective, #5)The Feast of Artemis (The Greek Detective, #7)
I have downloaded two of the other books in Zouroudis' Greek Detective mystery series - The Whispers of Nemesis and The Feast of Artemis.

Visit The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date.


Dec 1, 2017

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar: Book Beginning

Salt Creek, a debut novel by Lucy Treloar, published February 28, 2017 by Picador Australia. This is an historical novel about the Finch family who move from Adelaide, Australia during hard times to a remote part of the South Australian coast. The award-winning book covers "colonialism, race relations, social expectations on women, love, family, and duty."
Book beginning:
Chichester, England, November 1874

Mama often talked of this house when I was a child, and of its squirrels with particular fondness. She missed them as she missed all about her life here. They were fastidious, she said, and always prepared for flight. Their plumy tails jerking, they would hold a nut in their tiny hands, turning it and turning it looking for the weak point, angling their heads and tilting the nuts, their tiny teeth flashing, yet could not always penetrate the shell....
Page 56:
The cheese-making began, using the small moulds from the old dairy farm. I washed them and dried them to make them ready. 
Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader


Nov 27, 2017

It's Monday: The Wife by Alafair Burke

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date. Also visit Mailbox Monday
The Wife
The Wife by Alafair Burke, January 23, 2018, courtesy of Harper
Genre: thriller, suspense
This book by Edgar-nominated The Ex asks how far a wife will go to protect the man she loves: Will she stand by his side, even if he drags her down with him?

I am also trying to read more in the Hogarth Press Shakespeare series and have borrowed these from the library:
Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood; a retelling of The Tempest
New Boy by Tracy Chevalier; a retelling of Othello
I've started on two of them so far.

Somewhat slowly, I admit, because of reading in a different language, I am finishing up the French thrillers by Michel Bussi, which I'm really enjoying: 
Ne lache pas ma main, set on the French island of Reunion, and 
N'oublie jamais, set on the coast of Normandy, the Spanish version 

In other news, we managed to rake up most of the leaves for today's pick-up by the city trucks. Many leaves are still on the trees, so I imagine raking will go on for another few weeks.

What are you reading this week?

Nov 24, 2017

Book Beginning: Peculiar Ground by Lucy Hughes-Hallett


Peculiar Ground

Peculiar Ground by Lucy Hughes-Hallett, January 9, 2018, Harper
Genre:  historical fiction

... a great English country house novel, spanning three centuries, that explores surprisingly timely themes of immigration and exclusion.

Book beginning:
1663
It has been a grave disappointment to me to discover that his Lordship has no interest- really none whatever - in dendrology. I arrived here simultaneously with a pair of peafood and a bucket full of goldfish.It is galling that my employer takes more pleasure in the creatures than he does in my designs for his grounds.  (from an uncorrected proof; final copy may differ)

Memes:  visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Nov 21, 2017

First Chapter: The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo

The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo, October 3, 2017, courtesy of William Morrow Paperbacks,
is a debut novel about two American nurses who served in different countries during WWII - France and the Pacific.

First chapter:
Jo McMahon
Spring 1945, the Western Front

The main problem was her hands. They were raw and cracked and bleeding, and she couldn't get them to heal. A shell exploded outside the tent - somebody screamed and somebody laughed and someone else just said "fuck." Jo steadied the rickety supply rack in front of her, pressing her body against the shifting white boxes, pushing the brown glass bottles back into place with her thigh. The generator made a grinding noise as the lights flickered, went out, came back on. Her hands felt along the highest shelf, searching for a stray box of penicillin someone might have left behind in the initial rush to pack up, when the order to pull out had first come down.... 

Based on the first paragraph, would you go ahead and read more? 

MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon

Nov 19, 2017

Sunday Salon: November Rains are Cold-ish

New Boy (Hogarth Shakespeare)
New Boy

Hag-Seed
Hag-Seed

It's good reading weather. It has been overcast, raining all day, and cold.  There has been no encouragement to go outdoors the past two days, and more cold rain is on the way! Oh, November!

I am reading:
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich, November 14, 2017, Harper
Genre: dystopian thriller 

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, a contemporary novel which retells The Taming of the Shrew. 

I'm also finishing up a few ebook mysteries in French, brushing up on the language.
No new books have arrived, but that's not a problem, as I have a very tall TBR stack waiting.

Two new books I'm interested in are retellings of Shakespeare's plays, published by Hogarth Press. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood, October 11, 2016, retells The Tempest.  Also New Boy by Tracy Chevalier, May 11, 2017, which retells Othello. There are others in the series I hope to get to soon.

What are you reading this week?             
Visit The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date.

Nov 17, 2017

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich: Book Beginning

Future Home of the Living God


Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich, November 14, 2017, Harper
Genre: dystopian thriller 

Book beginning:
When I tell you that my white name is Cedar Hawk Songmaker and that I'm an adopted child of Minneapolis liberals,  and that when I went looking for my Ojibwe parents and found that I was born Mary Potts I hid the knowledge, maybe you'll understand. Or not. I'll write this anyway, because ever since last week things have changed. Apparently - I mean, nobody knows - our world is running backward. Or forward. Or maybe sideways, in a way  as yet ungrasped. I am sure somebody will come up with a name for what is happening, but I cannot imagine how everything around us and everything within us can be fixed. What is happening involves the invisible, the quanta of which we are created. Whatever is actually occurring, there is constant breaking news about how it will be handled - speculation, really, concerning what comes next -  which is why I am writing an account. 

Page 56:
My parents are both lawyers....Which is to say, they are shrewd as only market-based -society suspicious trust-fund liberals can be.

I was at first wary of the term "dystopian" to describe this book, as I am not a science fiction or dystopia lover,but the term "thriller" after the word dystopia sealed my interest in this novel. As does the name of the author, Louis Erdrich, whose previous books set among the Native Americans in the West I have really liked.

The narrator, Cedar Hawk Songmaker is, so far in my reading, a very intriguing personality and I am enjoying following her into her future discoveries, and into her dystopian world!

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Nov 14, 2017

First Chapter: A Taste of Paris by David Downie

A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food by David Downie, September 26, 2017,  courtesy of St. Martin's Press
Genre: travel, food, nonfiction

Described as "a culinary history" of Paris, this book is one of several books on Paris and France by David Downie, an informative, entertaining, and well researched writer. 

First Chapter:
A Conspiracy of Pleasure

Imagine a gastronomic romp through Paris weaving the living past into the lively present, the story of the great Parisian conspiracy to enjoy life - the city's centuries-old passion for food, wine, dining out and entertaining. That's what this book is about.

Long ago this love affair with food and wine earned Paris the name of the world's capital of fine dining. I had the foretaste of the fun as a young man during my first visit to the city in 1976. A decade later in the spring of 1986 I became a full-time conspirator,  taking possession of a seventh-floor, cold-water walk-up maid's room in the 17th arrondissement near the Arc de Triomphe. As soon as I unpacked I began mapping out Paris' gastronomic topography - the markets, stores, restaurants, and cafes that became my second home. 

Based on the first paragraphs and the book description, would you read on?

MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon

Nov 11, 2017

Sunday Salon: The Leaves Have All Come Down


Vinegar Girl

Seems winter is here. It's freezzzzing outside and it's only mid-November. I hear it may warm up a bit later in the week. The leaves came down all of a sudden during the super cold nights. Autumn is over!

I finished and reviewed Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn, a retelling in modern times of the King Lear story. I recommend it, and have decided to read others in the Hobarth Shakespeare series as well.

I've borrowed Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, which retells The Taming of the Shrew. 


My current read is The Marsh King's Daughter  by Karen Dionne, a suspenseful thriller involving a woman who hunts down her father, a murderer and escapee from prison, who had abducted her mother years before. The conflict is that she had grown up loving him as her father, not realizing her mother's situation as a captive until she and her mother escaped when she turned age 12.
The Marsh King's Daughter


Who doesn't like to read about a strong woman, one who has to battle her heart and circumstances in order to do the right thing and save her own life in the end?
That's all for this week, folks. What are you reading?

Visit The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date, and Mailbox Monday..

Nov 10, 2017

Book Review: DUNBAR by Edward St. Aubyn

Dunbar
Dunbar
Dunbar is an old man, a former mogul, who retired and gave up his valuable shares as well as his seat on the board of trustees of his global empire. He is now in a retirement home, although a luxurious one, kept sedated, and is rendered literally helpless by his two greedy and conniving daughters. His third, a more sympathetic daughter, eventually comes to his rescue.The book is by Edward St. Aubyn, published October 24, 2017 by Hogarth.

Hogarth Press has been publishing books based on Shakespearean plays. Dunbar is based on the King Lear story. In this retelling of the King Lear play, we watch as the eighty-year -old Dunbar, now old, forgetful, and scattered, escapes from his retirement home with the help of his friend Peter, who plays the part of the unlucky Fool. Dunbar hides on the cold and snowy countryside as his daughters send people out to find him, to imprison him in an Austrian sanatorium or asylum, while they plunder his legacy and take it over finally for their own. The third and more sympathetic daughter, Florence, finds her father but the other daughters plot their revenge.

The book, set in modern times, follows King Lear quite closely. How the author adapts it to today is ingenious and the storytelling and characters remain compelling. The book concentrates on Dunbar's awakening to the beauty of the natural world, his  realization of the former cruel treatment of his daughter Florence, and to a late joy in the things in life that he finds are really meaningful. 

Five stars for an excellent reimagining of Shakespeare's play. 


Book beginning:
"We're off our meds," whispered Dunbar.
"We're off our meds/We're off our heads,"sang Peter, "we're out of our beds/ and we're off our meds!
Yesterday," he continued in a conspiratorial whisper, "We were drooling into the lapels of our terry cloth dressing gowns, but now we're off out meds! We've spat them out; we've tranquilized the aspidistras. If those fresh lilies you get sent each day..."
"When I think where they come from," growled Dunbar.
"Steady, old man."

Page 56:

Wrapped in his fur-collared overcoat, Dunbar was impervious to these meteorological threats and, as he extracted the Swiss credit card from his wallet, he seemed to enter into a kind of trance. 

I hope to read other books in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.
Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Nov 8, 2017

First Chapter: Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay


Death in the Stacks (Library Lover's Mystery, #8)

Death in the Stacks #8: Library Lover's Mystery by Jenn McKinlay, November 17, 2017, courtesy of Berkley Books
... the library's big fund-raiser leaves director Lindsey Norris booked for trouble and suspicion of foul play

First chapter:
September in New England was about as perfect a season as there was on earth. The days became cooler, pumpkins ripened and colorful leaves decorated the trees like they were getting ready for a party, the last colorful gala before winter.

Lindsey Norris, director of the Briar Creek Public Library, rode her bike into work, enjoying the crisp snap to the air and the fresh smell of the briny sea as it rolled in for high tide....

 Based on the first paragraph, would you keep reading? 

I have followed the author's Library Lover's Mystery series, and enjoyed the setting and the characters. Here is my review of the second book in the series, if you are curious - Due or Die review

MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon

Nov 5, 2017

Sunday Salon: The Paris Secret by Karen Swan, a review

What are you reading this week? Note: my review below may contain spoilers. 

I finished The Paris Secret by Karen Swan, November 14, 2017, courtesy of William Morrow. 
The setting reminds me of two other novels, The Paris Apartment.  and The Velvet Hours. This one, however, is not based on the true life story of the Paris apartment abandoned for seventy years and found later on to contain art, paintings, and other valuables.

In this novel, inspired by the true story but with fictional characters, fine arts expert, Flora, of London, travels to Paris to a newly discovered abandoned apartment that had been closed since over seventy years ago. She and her employer discover valuable paintings and artifacts within and plan to catalogue, valuate, and finally sell the pieces, per the request of the owners, the Vermeil family. But because of Flora's research into provenance of the paintings, which include a Renoir, the Vermeils discover unsavoury truths about their family's role during WWII, possibly as collaborators of the Reich in divesting condemned Jews of their artwork.

The novel brings up this part of WWII history that has been portrayed in books and movies - valuable art plundered and slowly being rediscovered by some of their true owners or their heirs.

I gave this a five for the ingenuous plot using true history. The added romance in the story only enhanced a good reading experience. 

Thanks to a free 30-day trial Amazon Prime membership, I have borrowed a few ebooks that I hope to read before they have to be returned : 
When I'm Gone
When I'm Gone
The Writer (San Juan Islands Mystery, #1)
The Writer
Coming Clean
 Coming Clean

When I'm Gone is a thriller, as is The Writer.
Coming Clean is a memoir by a woman whose father was an extreme hoarder. I'm finding this one quite interesting. 

I also borrowed this hard cover from the library, a novel based on Shakespeare's King Lear:
Dunbar
Dunbar
Dunbar is an old man, a former mogul, who retired and gave up his shares as well as his seat on the board of trustees of his empire. He is now in a retirement home, although a luxury one, kept sedated, and is rendered literally helpless by his two greedy and conniving daughters. His third, a more sympathetic daughter, evidently comes to the rescue. I only hope the book doesn't end the way King Lear did - in tragedy.  The book is by Edward St. Aubyn, published October 24, 2017 by Hogarth. 

Weatherwise, there is quite a bit of rain this weekend, and more on the way with stormy conditions tonight, Sunday. 

Keep warm and safe, everyone! And don't forget to turn back your clocks one hour!

Visit The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date, and Mailbox Monday..