Thursday, May 17, 2018

Book Beginnings: The Quest of the Missing Map


The Quest of the Missing Map, by Carolyn Keene. These are the book's first lines:
Chapter 1 - The Haunted House 
Her golden red hair flying in the wind, Nancy Drew ran up the porch steps and opened the front door of her home. 
She could hear Hannah Gruen, the Drews' housekeeper, saying to someone in the living room, "Why don't you tell your mysterious story to Nancy? She's a really clever young detective."

About the Book:
Nancy investigates a small ship cottage at the Chatham estate and discovers a connection between the mysterious occurrences at the cottage and an island where a lost treasure is said to be buried. With one half of a map, Nancy sets out to find a missing twin brother who holds the other half. The mystery becomes dangerous when an assailant hears about the treasure and is determined to push Nancy off the trail. Can she endure this and other grave dangers, and recover in time to solve the mystery? (-summary from Wikipedia)

Initial Thoughts:

I haven't actually decided if I'm going to read this one or not. It's the 19th book in the enormously successful Nancy Drew mystery series. It was first published in 1942 and then went through several reissues (and revisions) over the years. I haven't read Nancy Drew since I was a preteen, but I was looking for a book with a Q/K title/author combination for one of the challenges I'm doing over at Library Thing, and this one popped out at me.

I thought I had read all the early Nancy Drew books, but I don't remember this one. Although that opening could be from any of them: It's such perfect Nancy — her "golden red hair" was always flying in the wind, or shining in the sun, or glittering against her velvety evening cloak.

The cover above is from the original 1942 edition, but I think this is the one I remember, from the late 1950s:


I loved these stories when I was a kid, and this could be a really neat walk down memory lane. Or a huge disappointment. So, to read or not to read? Am I too old for the girl detective?




Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Monday, May 14, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

OK, middle of May already. Haven't finished any books this month. And I've only posted one review, of one of the books I finished in April:


Time Out of Joint, by Philip K. Dick

This is going to be a busy week for us — lots of stuff to do around the house. But I think I should be able to sneak in a little reading. The book I'm reading now is one of the books I've got on my list for the Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge:


Pale Horse, Pale Rider, by Katherine Anne Porter

So far, I'm enjoying this one. It's been on my TBR pile for quite a while now, so it'll qualify for the Mount TBR Challenge, too. And speaking of reading challenges, now that we're approaching midyear, I guess it's time to take a look at how I'm doing in that area. At the moment, I think I'm on track with most of my challenges. And that's definitely a little unusual for me.




It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. If you want to let the world know what you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Time Out of Joint, by Philip K. Dick

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
240 pages, Kindle edition
First published 1959

In this early Philip K. Dick novel, 46-year-old Ragle Gumm has a perfectly ordinary life, living with his sister Margo and Margo's husband Vincent in a nice quiet, perfectly ordinary community. The only extraordinary thing about Ragle is that he makes his living by winning a daily newspaper contest — the contest is called "Where Will the Little Green Man Be Next?" and Ragle wins it everyday by predicting exactly where this little green person will show up. He has the world's longest-running contest-winning record, and his entire life is devoted to the task.

But lately Ragle has begun having doubts about both those things — his life and the contest. After having some very disturbing hallucinations and a few worrisome encounters, he begins thinking maybe there's more going on than just game-playing. Or maybe someone's just playing a game with him. And when he begins investigating, he comes to believe that there might be a lot more than his reputation resting on his daily win. It's beginning to seem to Ragle that the fate of the world might just be somehow centered on him and his ability to predict the outcome of the daily "Little Green Man" puzzle. But how much of what he imagines is just imagination? And how much is real? Or is any of it real?

Can't say much more about the book because there are twists and surprises I don't want to reveal. Some I saw coming, some caught me completely off guard.

This is the first Philip K. Dick novel I've read, although I think I might have read some of his short fiction back in the 1970s an '80s. I've had this one on my TBR shelf for literally decades, and I'm really glad I finally got around to reading it; for the most part, it was very enjoyable — a little slow in places, but not so slow that I felt like abandoning or skipping ahead to the ending. And it's definitely made me want to read more of his work.

Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑

........

Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge .
Mount TBR Reading Challenge .


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Book Beginnings: The Girls in the Picture


The Girls in the Picture, by Melanie Benjamin (Delacorte Press, January 2018). Opening lines of the book's first chapter:

Frances / 1969

Lately, the line between real life and movies has begun to blur.

About the Book:
It's 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone's lips these days is "flickers" — the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. 
In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing screenplays. She also meets actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have given her the title of America's Sweetheart. The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by the mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution. 
But their ambitions are challenged by men and the limitations imposed on their gender — and their astronomical success comes at a price. As Mary, the world's highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas play out, personalities clash, and even the deepest friendships are tested. 
With cameos from Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era — its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak. (description from publisher)

Initial Thoughts:

This is yet one more of those Early Reviewer books from Library Thing that I've been neglecting over the last couple of months. I had hoped to get this one read and reviewed back around the beginning of the year, but got a little sidetracked by a bunch of other books. (I seem to have that problem a lot these days.)

Anyway, I'm not really sure what it was that first attracted me to this book. I don't generally read historical novels about movie stars, but I'm very interested in the period of the novel. And Frances Marion co-authored the screenplay of one of my favorite classic films, Dinner at Eight. So I'm looking forward to getting started on this one pretty quick.




Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Book Beginnings: The Cottingley Secret


The Cottingley Secret, by Hazel Gaynor (William Morrow, 2017). First lines of the book's Prologue:
Cottingley, Yorkshire. August 1921.
Fairies will not be rushed. I know this now; know I must be patient.
Hmmm. Okay. And these are the first lines of Chapter One:
Ireland. Present day.
Olivia Kavanagh didn't believe in happy endings. Life hadn't worked out that way for her so far.
These quotes are from an ARC of the book, so please note that they might be slightly different in the published edition.

About the Book:
[The Cottingley Secret] turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.

Initial Thoughts:

Well, my main thought on this one is that I'm really embarrassed about it. It was an Early Reviewer book from Library Thing and I've had it for months now. I just forgot I had it, and it got...sidelined. So now I'm trying to finish it up quickly and do my (very late) review.

My second thought is that I'm not generally a fan of books about fairies. But this episode has always interested me, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Gaynor handles the tale.

And here's one of the actual photos taken by the real Elsie Wright in 1917 (via Wikipedia's USA public domain photo files):

Photo by Elsie Wright (1917)



Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.

Monday, April 09, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

April is more than a week old now! I find that very hard to believe, especially since our weather keeps dancing back and forth between spring and late winter. We haven't had the snow and ice that some of the country has had, but these last few days have been WAY too cold for a central Texas spring. Not happy about that.

Also a little upset that I only finished one book last week:

Murder in the Meadow (DI Hillary Greene #7), by Faith Martin

Haven't reviewed it yet (soon, I hope), but I did get a few reviews posted for books I finished earlier this year:

Looking ahead: This week I'm hoping to finish up a couple of Early Reviewer books from LibraryThing (I'm embarrassingly far off the track over there):

The Cottingley Secret, by Hazel Gaynor

and...
The Girls in the Picture, by Melanie Benjamin

Both of those are print books, and I've gotten very used to doing most of my reading on my iPad. I find I read much faster on an e-reader, but I do occasionally miss the physical experience of reading "real" books. How about you? Are you a dedicated "print purist" or have you gone over to the dark (electronic) side? I like both, but I certainly do enjoy being able to carry a whole library with me on my Kindle or iPad. That's a definite advantage.



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. If you want to let the world know what you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.


Saturday, April 07, 2018

Mount TBR Reading Challenge: Mountaineering Checkpoint No. 1


Hard to believe April is a whole week old now, but my calendar tells me that's true. Which means it's time for Check-in #1 in this year's Mount TBR Reading Challenge. I usually forget to do these check-ins, but for some reason this year my brain seems to be a little better oiled or something.

Let's see.... I signed up for the Pike's Peak level (Level 1), twelve books from my TBR pile/s; and so far, I've finished four books that qualify:
  1. Five Children and It. E. Nesbit (pub. 1902; read in March) 
  2. Just Kids. Patti Smith (pub. 2010; read in February) 
  3. A Murder Is Announced (Miss Marple #5). Agatha Christie (pub. June 1950; read in January) 
  4. Vintage Murder (Roderick Alleyn #5). Ngaio Marsh (pub. 1937; read in January) 
All of which have been on my shelves for quite a while; in fact, I think I've had my copy of Five Children and It since sometime back in the 1970s.

Bev had a few questions for us to think about answering. One about a favorite cover — and I have to admit, none of the covers on my books this time were really anything to cheer about. I guess if I had to choose one, it would be the cover of the paperback edition of the Patti Smith memoir Just Kids:


That's Patti with Robert Mapplethorpe back in about 1970. They made a very striking pair, didn't they?

And as for favorite characters.... Well, I think I'd (always) have to choose Miss Marple. She's always been one of my favorite fictional inventions, and she's at her Miss-Marple-est in A Murder Is Announced. But Inspector Roderick Alleyn, from the Ngaio Marsh mystery series, would run her a close second.

So, at this point I think I'm on track. If I continue with at least three or four books per quarter, I should do a little better than twelve books by the end of 2018. That's what I'm hoping, anyway. I know that would only make a very tiny dent in my ridiculously enormous TBR piles/lists. But for now, I'm still climbing the mountain. No falls, no set-backs, and no reason to be seeking shelter in a cave along the way. Yet.