First Paragraph: Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman

I’m so glad that Anne Hillerman is continuing the series her late father, Tony Hillerman, started. Its so enjoyable to keep up with the adventures of Jim Chee and his wife, Bernie Manuelito and even Joe Leaphorn. Here’s how the newest book in the series begins:

 

Chapter One

Navajo Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito stood in the lobby of the Shiprock High School gym, fondly known as the Chieftain Pit of Pain, trying to decide if she should buy a hot dog or a Frito pie from the booster’s stand. Despite the decibel level produced by more than a thousand fans screaming and stomping on the bleachers, she recognized the new sound even as she felt the building shake.

In Bernie’s mind, the noise from the parking lot changed everything. She nudged back her panic and hurried toward the exit, pushing through a few folks also hoping to leave the building. They sensed danger and wanted to escape; she headed toward it.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.

 

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My Week . . .

Hi everyone. Thanks for stopping by to check on my week. I’ve had a fun and busy reading week. First, I posted earlier this week my thoughts on American Gods by Neil Gaiman. That was an amazing book and now a TV series! There is nothing like a Neil Gaiman novel.

I also read Silence of the Jams by Gayle Leeson. This was a lovely surprise – a win from Candace at Beth Fish Reads. Believe me, I needed to read a light-hearted cozy mystery after the intensity of American Gods. Silence of the Jams (don’t you love the title?) features cafe owner and super-cook, Amy Flowers. Her Down South Cafe has only been open several months, so Amy is still trying to build its customer base.

The last thing she needs is a customer dropping dead while eating a meal at her cafe. Amy has a natural affinity for chatting up and gossiping with certain residents of the small town. Its the perfect way to narrow down the suspects. Having a boyfriend who works for the sheriff’s department also helps. There was a lot of talk about food, primarily menus for breakfast and lunch. Unfortunately, nothing I was excited about. However, I did enjoyed this fun cozy mystery. I must be losing my touch – I didn’t predict the final culprit.

I also read All By Myself, Alone a Mary Higgins Clark novel this week. A friend told me the plot which sounded good, so I picked it up when I saw it at the library. I was about half-way through it when it seemed like this might be a book from a series. Sure enough – it’s number 11 in the Alvirah and Willy series. Here’s what its about:

A very sleek and luxurious ocean liner is on its maiden voyage. On board are some very wealthy people and those who work for them plus a few others. There is a Lady Emily, a very wealthy woman who has brought along quite a number of her jewels including a necklace believed to have been the last thing Cleopatra wore. Several people on board covet the necklace, but will they commit murder to get it?

Celia is another passenger who befriends Lady Emily. She’s a gemologist who was hired by the cruise ship to give lectures as part of the entertainment. Also on board is a couple who won the lottery several years ago. The wife, Alvirah, is quite the detective so, when Lady Emily is murdered, she and her husband Willy jump in and do what amateur detectives do well – poke their noses into all sorts of places and gather enough tidbits until they solve the crime. It was a fun change of pace to read this very good mystery.

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What I Watched:

My husband and I saw a very inspirational documentary called Tomorrow at our local theater.

“Tomorrow is an optimistic documentary about saving the planet. Actress Melanie Laurent, who directed the movie, traveled the globe in search of innovative ways people have devised to counter climate change, economic inequality, and other critical issues.” (from Variety)

We saw communities of people all over the world working in innovative ways to solve energy problems, grow food all over a busy city, change a school system in Finland, a town in England that prints its own money, changing city streets in Copenhagen to promote more bike riding, city-wide composting in San Francisco, and so on.

We came out of the theater believing that people all over the world are working to solve some of the greatest challenges facing all of us. I hope you all have a chance to see this hopeful and inspirational film.

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Wondrous Words #395

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

I was reading author Louise Penny’s monthly newsletter when I came across a new word. She was quoting part of a sonnet written by William Wordsworth.

vicissitude:  “But Thee, long buried in the silent Tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?”

Vicissitude (vəˈsisəˌt(y)o͞od) is a noun meaning a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant.

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That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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First Paragraph: A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles

I’m reading A Gentleman In Moscow for an upcoming book club meeting. I’m just barely into it so I don’t have an opinion yet. Here’s how the story begins:

 

1922
An Ambassador

At half past six on the twenty-first of June 1922, when Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov was escorted through the gate of the Kremlin onto Red Square, it was glorious and cool. Drawing his shoulders back without breaking stride, the Count inhaled the air like one fresh from a swim. The sky was the very blue that the cupolas of St. Basil’s had been painted for. Their pinks, greens, and golds shimmered as if it were the sole purpose of a religion to cheer its Divinity. Even the Bolshevik girls conversing before the windows of the State Department Store seemed dressed to celebrate the last days of spring.

 

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.

 

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Book Tour: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

When I first read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, I was stunned by how much I liked it. I was just plain blown away. How could that be? I’ve never been one for ghost stories or vampires or anything smacking of woo-woo. I don’t know how I was taken in, but I’ve now read that book three times! When asked if I’d participate in a book tour for the Tenth Anniversary of American Gods, you bet I said, Yes!

About American Gods

Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; The Tenth Anniversary Edition

Now a STARZÆ Original Series produced by FremantleMedia North America starring Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, and Pablo Schreiber | Premiering Sunday, April 30, at†9pm EST

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadowís best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesdayís bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies . . . and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewingóan epic war for the very soul of Americaóand that he is standing squarely in its path.

Purchase Links†for the TV Tie-in Paperback

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains; the Sandman series of graphic novels; and the story collections Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and Trigger Warning. He is the winner of numerous literary honors, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, and the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. Originally from England, he now lives in the United States. He is Professor in the Arts at Bard College.

Find out more about Neil at his†website, find all his books at his†online bookstore, and follow him on Instagram,†Facebook,†tumblr, Twitter, and his†blog.

My Thoughts:

All through this story I kept shaking my head and saying. “Neil Gaiman is an Amazing Storyteller!” I said this with various degrees of emphasis on Amazing. He created this mix of mythology and fantasy with a strong message. He made me, this non-myth and fantasy reader, believe it all.

There were so many things I loved about this novel. Here are just a few:

  • Shadow, the main character, had my sympathy at first and then my admiration. He is a modern hero, flaws and all.
  • Meeting all the other characters – the immigrants and the ancient gods and learning their  beliefs.
  • The  Road Trip around America!
  • How much the book made me think – really think – about what we consider “gods” in modern America. Can it really be social media? Its all those things we worship. Some people are going t think this is a book about modern politics, but keep in mind this was written over ten years ago.

I don’t have the Starz channel so I wasn’t able go see the TV series. However, I did listen to the audiobook which was superb. It was a full cast of actors including Ron McLarty and Daniel Orekes. I highly recommend listening to this book.

P.S. I do have one caution: American Gods is not a children’s book. There are plenty of f-words and other adult content here. I didn’t mind it as it fit the story, but I’m letting you know in case this bothers you.

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Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour. The full tour schedule is here:  Neil Gaiman Tour Schedule

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My Week . . .

Hi everyone. Thanks for stopping by to check on me. I’ve had a good week all around. I’m back to full use of my computer, thanks to my son, the tech-wizard. I’m also back to full use of all my audiobooks – both cds from the library and downloadable audios from Audible. Thanks to Ti I found a used Classic iPod for a fraction of the cost. I don’t know why I didn’t think to look for a used iPod. Audiobooks have become very important to me in the last few years since my eye-sight is no longer 20/20.

I’ve become a loyal Audible customer and I especially love all their Daily Deals and other special offers. A couple months ago they ran a special offer on books that are #1 in a series. It was a great chance to try new authors and/or series I haven’t read before. I indulged in quite a few of them. You’ll be hearing about them over the upcoming months, but this week I read two of the best:

Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon just blew me away. This is the first novel of approximately 75 books featuring Inspector Maigret. It was first written in 1930 in French, but now its been translated and published by Penguin.

The story begins when Inspector Maigret receives a description of a wanted criminal, Peter the Latvian, and warning of his imminent arrival in town. When the Inspector spots a man matching the description, he is on it. But then a man also matching the description is found dead on the arriving train. Immediately there are lots of questions for the Inspector to chase. He is a good old-fashioned intrepid detective. Also, the incredibly descriptive writing had me right there with the Inspector seeing the people, the rooms, the streets. I loved it! I’m looking forward to more.

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The other book I read this week was book #1 in Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series. This book is also set in the 1930s, this time in the U.K. The main character is Georgie, a young woman a few years past her “season” with still no prospects for marriage. Since she’s thirty-fourth in line to the throne, the Queen feels compelled to help find a suitable mate for Georgie. Unfortunately, the Queen’s picks are not what Georgie wants.

The Queen also asks Georgie to do a special favor for her. She wants Georgie to “spy” on the King’s brother who’s been causing a lot of gossip. He’s been seen cozying up to a twice-married American woman. Georgie’s assignment is to find out what’s really going on and what kind of person is the American woman and what are her intentions.

On top of all that, Georgie has a couple of problems. For one thing she has very little money. And then there’s the problem of a dead man in the bathtub. There’s a lot more but I’ll save that for you to enjoy as you read the book. It was actually great fun and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

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In the other part of my life: I want to share some pictures from last week. As I told you then, we joined our son, his family and many of their friends as we celebrated our grandson’t fourth birthday.

We camped at Salt Point which is a California State Park a little over an hour away. It’s a lovely campground close enough to walk to the ocean. The section in th4e picture above is overlooks a big area of boulders that is a favorite with seals.

Our little guy wanted to make his own birthday cake and well, why not? He and I have discovered rainbow cake videos on You-Tube and that’s what he wanted. Here’s how he did it – with a little help from his Nana: Once the cake batter was mixed we divided it into six small bowls. Then he used food-coloring to make the batter in each bowl with a different color. In the bottom of a greased cake pan we put each color in blobs sitting next to each other. Once we had all the batter in the pan we carefully drew a knife down the length of the pan – about four times – and then did the same thing in the opposite direction. It just barerly mixes up the colors. The baked cake is what you see above.

We did all of that at home. At the campground we frosted the cakes and then let all the kids shake rainbow colored sprinkles over the top. Its not bakery-style, but it made the birthday boy happy. It was fascinating, even for the adults to see how the colors turned out when the cake was cut. In addition, the cake was actually very tasty.

In the meantime, have a great weekend.

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Wondrous Words #394

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

Only one word again this week. I heard this word on a CNN interview between Anderson Cooper and Congressman Adam Schiff:

incipient: “We are interested in hearing from incipient witnesses.”

Incipient is an adjective when it refers to a person. It means having a good understanding of things.

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That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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First Paragraph: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I’m participagting in a book tour for the tenth anniversary of American Gods. I missed reading the book when it was first published so I am glad for this chance to read it now. It’s also been make into a TV series which started las night on STARZ  The book is quite good, just right if you’re a Neil Gaiman fan.

I decided to share the opening of the Author’s Introduction. I found it very interesting. Here it is:

 

Introduction

I don’t know what it’s like to read this book. I only know what it was like to live the writing of it.

I moved to America in 1992. Something started, in the back of my head. There were unrelate ideas that I knew were important and yet seemed unconnected: two men meeting on a plane; the car on the ice; the significance of coin tricks; and more than anything, America: this strange, huge place where I now found myself living that I knew I didn’t understand. But I wanted to understand it. More than that, I wanted to describe it.

 

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.

Posted in First Paragraph | 10 Comments

Weekly Review

I’ve been reading/listening to Save Room For Pie by Roy Blount, Jr. for a couple of weeks now. It’s the kind of book that, for me, is best read in short pieces because what he has just said makes me think of an experience or a person in my own life and I want to stop and remember that. For example, in one of the earlier chapters, Roy remembers a typical comments made at a meals during his growing up years in Georgia. I was not raised in the South, but it seemed very similar to what was said at our Wisconsin table and I had to think and talk about that for a while.

The subtitle of this book is Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations. That’s the best way to describe how the book is written. Someone said the author “just rambles.” I disagree. Maybe because I listened to the author read the audio version, but I thought he told his tale in a chatty-shooting-the-breeze sort of style. Most of the time I imagined myself sitting at a round table in a local diner, reminiscing about old times and the food we ate.

The subject is always food. Sometimes he tells a joke, sometimes a poem or what he calls “songs,” but always he’s trying to make me laugh or at least smile. Let me share a little bit of one of Roy’s songs:

Song To Hamburger

Whether you’re a dean or a minor,
a sommelier or a turpentiner,
a critic or construction worker,
you no doubt enjoy a burger.
You can get into its juices,
you appreciate its uses,
you can feel the steady pull of one,
you would like your right hand for one,
and all the way with everything.
Do bleu cheese, bacon, pickles spring to mind?
Okay, there’s plenty room. . .

Roy Blount is a former journalist and the author of well over twenty books. He is well known for his comic wit, especially on the NPR show Wait Wait and was a frequent guest on Garroson Keilor’s Prairier Home Companion. I thought Garrson Keilor summed up this book quite well when he said this:

In poems and songs, limericks and fake (or sometimes true) news stories, Blount talks about food in surprising and innovative ways, with all the wit and verve that prompted Garrison Keillor, in The Paris Review, to say: “Blount is the best. He can be literate, uncouth, and soulful all in one sentence.”

On Tuesday I attended a book club meeting which is always so enjoyable. This month we read and discussed The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan Phillip Sendker. There were a few members who weren’t crazy about the book, but the majority of us were positive about the book.

This is an emotional story about a young boy who goes blind around the age of four and then is abandoned by his mother after his father dies. The story of his survival, challenges and tremendous accomplishments makes for a compelling story. There were some parts of the story that stretched believability, especially near the end. Overall, I liked it and will give it a 3.5 stars.

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In the other side of my life I had some positives and some negatives. My husband and I camped with our son and his family and about six other young families. We were celebrating our grandson’s fourth birthday. He loved having all his friends around him. We camped at Salt Point Campground, a lovely state park right by the Pacific Ocean.

My negatives this week are all technical. First my Classic iPod died. I’ve had this reliable friend for 12 years. I am truly in mourning. They no longer make this wonderful tool any more. It’s hard to even think of it, but I’m looking for something suitable as a replacement.

My next technical failure is not one with as much emotional attachment as my iPod, but absolutely critical: my computer! I have no idea what’s wrong. It just stopped last night. If my son (my personal tech specialist) can’t fix it, I’ll be taking it into the Apple Store. This computer is only about four or five years old so I think that’s too young to be dead.

We’ll see. I’m finishing this post on my iPad. (Thank God one tool is still healthy.) Unfortunately I’m not able to share any of my camping photos with you. Hopefully, if the technical gods allow, I can share them next week. In the meantime  – have a great weekend.

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