First Paragraph: The Silkworm

firstparagraphEvery Tuesday I join Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea to share the first paragraph (or two) of a book I’m reading or about to read. Feel free to join the fun.

I’m reading the second novel in J.K. Rowling’s detective series. The detective is Cormoran Strike –  he is such a;o great character. I am thoroughly enjoying it. It’s heavy on the dialogue as you will see in the opening paragraph. Warning: There is bad language and some gory stuff.

What dost thou feed on?
Broken sleep.
Thomas Dekker, The Noble Spanish Soldier

“Someone bloody famous,” said the hoarse voice on the end of the line, “better’ve died, Strike.”

The large unshaven man tramping through the darkness of pre-dawn, with his telephone clamped to his ear, grinned.

“It’s in the ballpark.”

“It’s six o’clock in the f__ing morning!”

“It’s half past, but if you want what I’ve got, you’ll need to come and get it,” said Cormoran Strike. “I’m not far away from your place. There’s a—“

“How d’you know where I live?” demanded the voice.

“You told me,” said Strike, stifling a yawn. “You’re selling your flat.”

“Ok,” said the other, mollified. “Good memory.”

“There’s a twenty-four hour caff—“

“F__ that. Come into the office later—“

“Culpepper, I’ve go another client this morning, he pays better than you do and I’ve been up all night. You need this now if you’re going to use it.”

A groan. Strike could hear the rustling of sheets.

“It had better be sh__-hot.”

“Smithfield Cafe on Long Lane,” said Strike and rang off.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking


Author: Susan Cain

Publisher: Crown Publishing, 2012

Suppose that you, as a child, preferred to spend your free time reading a book or with a microscope studying tiny insects or on your own with legos creating elaborate structures that no one else understood. Suppose that when you were in school you seldom raised your hand to answer a question only because you didn’t want everyone looking at you. Most of the other kids seem to roam in packs while you didn’t mind sitting at a lunch table by yourself, or maybe one other person. Now, pretend you are the parent of this child. Are you worried?

This is a simplified view, of course, of a young introvert. In our Western culture these children often are constantly prodded to be “more outgoing” which in turn makes them go on to feel there is something a little weird about themselves. Susan Cain’s refreshing look at the research on introverts provides a thorough understanding of why we need to celebrate all the differences we as humans possess. The author sets forth the proof that we all possess different ways of dealing with the world. There is no one way that is any better than the other.

It’s not only okay to be an introvert, but we should welcome the contributions they make to the world. This book is an excellent explanation of this topic. It is organized very well. It starts with what is an introvert and then begins an exploration of some pretty astonishing research that’s been done on everything from how introverts are developed or created on to the value introverts contribute in various ways to our society.

I’m not sure I am able ro express how much I loved this book. It explains so much about my own life and many others that I know and love. I particularly enjoyed the two sections on introverts as children and then the contrast between Western culture with it’s emphasis on extraversion and Eastern culture’s preponderance of introverts. This section I feel is very important in light of our increased interaction among neighbors around the world. This book is important for parents, teachers and anyone who deals with various people in everyday life. It will give you much to think about and boost your understanding of people in general.

I first heard about Susan Cain on TED Talks. (You can see her speech here: Susan Cain.) I listened to the audiobook first and then got the paperback when one of my book clubs decided to read it. There’s a little quiz at the beginning of the paperback/hardback to see if you are an introvert or an extravert. The print books also give the reader all the notes and back-up research that many will find helpful

I know many people shy away from nonfiction. Trust me, this book is so fascinating that you will not even think nonfiction. If you are a fiction-only person, think of it this way: Quiet could help you see those ficitonal characters you love in a whole new light.

Wondrous Words #323

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.

This week I found a couple of new-to-me words connected to the environment. I found both words in The Darkness and the Deep by Aline Templeton.

1. haar: “The sea haar came rolling in on an oily swell from the Irish Sea just ahead of the darkness.”

Haar is a cold sea fog on the east coast of Englan or Scotland.


2. mull: Now, to the melancholy lowing of the foghorn on the Mull of Galloway,

Mull is a promontory. And, just in case you’re not sure of what a promontory is, it’s a point of high land that juts out into a large body of water.

Okay, that’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

First Paragraph: Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking

firstparagraphEvery Tuesday I join Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea to share the first paragraph (or two) of a book I’m reading or about to read. Feel free to join the fun.

I’ve put it off for a long time, but I’m finally reading Quiet by Susan Cain. It is a captivating study of nearly half the population — the introverts. In her Introduction the author begins her book with a well-known introvert. Can you guess who it is?

QuietMontgomery, Alabama. December 1, 1955. Early evening. A public bus pulled to the stop and a sensibly dressed woman in her forties gets on. She carries herself erectly, despite having spent the day bent over an ironing board in a dingy basement tailor shop at the Montgomery Fair department store. Her feet are swollen, her shoulders ache. She sits in the first row of the Colored section and watches quietly as the bus fills with riders. Until the driver orders her to give her seat to a white passenger.

The woman utters a single word that ignites one of the most important civil rights protests of the twentieth century, one word that help America find its better self.

The word is “No.”


What do you think?

Would  you keep reading?

*The woman is Rosa Parks.

Book Review: The Spider Woman’s Daughter

Spider Woman's DaughterAuthor: Anne Hillman

Publisher: Harper Collins 2013

Format: Audiobook, Read perfectly by Christina Delaine

My husband and I “discovered” Tony Hillerman’s books back in the 1980s when we were driving back and forth between our home in the Kansas City area and Santa Fe, New Mexico where are two oldest children were going to college.

The landscape of the American Southwest is so dramatic that our imaginations could not help but be fueled by the variety of stories that must be hidden there. Tony Hillerman created his Navajo police characters based on a compilation of people around the area. One of my favorite characters, beside Joe Leaphorn, is that of Bernadette Manuelito, also a Navajo police officer.

Tony Hillerman died in 2008. All of his fans mourned his passing, as did his family and friends. We miss the man, the writer and the people he created in his books. I was so happy to hear that Mr. Hillerman’s daughter, Anne Hillerman, has taken on the continuation of the Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee stories. I was doubly happy when I learned the first book, Spider Woman’s Daughter would feature Bernadette/Bernie and her husband Jim.

As the story opens, we watch and are horrified when retired police lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is shot in the head just a short distance from Bernie. As a trained police officer, she noted as many clues as she could before the assailant drove off. Thanks to Bernie they soon track down the vehicle, but that’s just the beginning of the hunt. As it happened, lots of people have driven that car.

Meanwhile, Joe Leaphorn is taken to Santa Fe where specialists work to save him. As he lies in a coma, Jim Chee, with assistance from the FBI, follow all leads in the case. Bernie is forbidden to work the case because she was an eye-witness and may be in danger. Fortunately, this doesn’t stop Bernie. In her quiet and determined manner Bernie thinks logically and deeply, just like Joe Leaphorn, and gradually figures things out.

A big part of this book is the natural environment of northwest New Mexico and the people who live there. In this story we travel to Shiprock and Chaco Canyon and through the other small towns in the area. There are conversations with a variety of residents that make this book and all of Tony Hillerman’s books so rich.

I enjoy spending time thinking about the Navajo way of looking at life. Some of their values are different and admirable. For instance, the Navajo strongly believe that it’s evil to want material possessions and to crave them. I wonder what they think about all the Indian casinos around the country. Spending time with the Navajo also means looking at their unique sense of humor. In the middle of investigating this shooting, they are still able to find things to laugh at and poke fun at. I love it.

As one who has read all of Tony Hillerman’s books featuring Leaphorn and Chee, I must say that Anne Hillerman did a fantastic job of keeping the characters alive. I think her dad would be very proud. She did an excellent job of understanding Bernie. She took the basic character and expanded her. She gave Bernie more depth and made her much more real.

Listening to the audio version of the book certainly enhanced the experience. Christina Delaine’s voice was so versatile with the different characters and the various accents. She certainly made me feel the emotions that Bernie and Jim were experiencing. I recommend reading the book via audio. If you’re unable to get an audiobook, then read it with your eyes. You’ll be glad you did.

At the end of Spider Woman’s Daughter the mystery was solved nicely. There were a couple of issues that weren’t resolved such as the situation with Bernie’s mom and sister. This gave me hope. There must be a second novel coming. I checked and the second novel has already arrived. I put my name on the request list for Rock With Wings. I’m a happy fan.

Book Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspeare

Maisie DobbsAuthor: Jacqueline Winspeare

Publisher: Penguin Group 2003

Format: Audiobook read by Rita Barrington

Earlier this year I read the latest book, A Dangerous Place, in this Maisie Hobbs series. It was the twelfth book in the author’s series, but I liked it so much that I suggested to one of my books clubs that we all read the first book. It wasn’t one of my best suggestions, but more about their thoughts later. Here’s what the book is about:

Maisie Dobbs: The Novel is the author’s introduction to the main character of the series, plus a little mystery. We learn that Maisie was an intelligent young girl living in London at the beginning of the twentieth century. It’s just she and her dad, and times were tough. At the age of thirteen Maisie had to go to work as a housemaid at the Belgravia Mansion. There, Lady Rowan takes an interest in Maisie when she discovers her reading in the library.

Lady Rowan oversees Maisie’s education which includes private lessons with Maurice Blanche, a noted private investigator and psychologist. Maisie will go on to study at the prestigious Girton College at Cambridge. Before she can complete her studies, World War I interferes. Maisie trains as a nurse and then is soon in France in a field hospital, caring for wounded soldiers.

The war, of course, has a big impact on Maisie’s life. All the deaths, the atrocious injuries she witnessed, the varied behavior of the injured men, a doctor she falls in love with, all cause Maisie to view life, and human nature, in a different way. The story then flashes forward to 1929.

Maisie had just opened her own private investigation business when her first client calls on her. The man is concerned about his wife. He suspects she is being unfaithful to him. As Maisie investigates, she learns of a private retreat where disfigured former soldiers have come together to live. It sounds like an excellent respite for these men, but Maisie suspects something isn’t right with the whole set-up. And that’s as far as I’m going to go. I don’t want to spoil the story for you.

For me, the book was interesting and I liked reading the background and development of young Maisie. I also liked being on the front lines during the war. But, I thought the plot was somewhat disjointed. Going back and forth between 1929 and Maisie’s earlier years was occasionally confusing. For me there was a big gap between the end of the war and 1929. There was no mention of what Maisie was doing in the ten years between the end of the war and starting her business in 1929.

Our book club members were somewhat split on their opinion on the novel. Most thought it was just okay. One member, a former nurse, really liked the battlefield-hospital section. Other members didn’t feel the mystery was much of a mystery. In the end I don’t believe I convinces anyone to read another Maisie Dobbs novel. As for myself, I’m not ready to give up. I’d like to go ahead and read the next book in the series.

Have you read this book or the series?

What do you think?

Wondrous Words #322

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 like reading a variety of books, websites,magazines and journals. Reading widely means that I often come across foreign words and phrases. Some are familiar to me, but some I have to check out. Here’s one I found that was fun and interesting:

fella du jour

I found the phrase in a new cozy mystery, Parchment and Old Lace by Laura Childs. The phrase was in this sentence:

“ . . . [Carmella] was staring into the inquisitive blue eyes of her fella du jour,

Detective Edgar Babcock.”

The phrase fella du jour was not in the dictionary, so I broke it up and started again.

Fella is the nonstandard spelling of fellow.

Du jour is French and literally means ‘of the day.’  It’s used to describe something that is enjoyed but is probably short-lived.

I think what is meant in this quote is that Detective Edgar Babcock is a guy Carmella will enjoy for now, but he won’t be around for long. What do you think?

 That’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

First Paragraph: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspeare

firstparagraphEvery Tuesday I join Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea to share the first paragraph (or two) of a book I’m reading or about to read. Feel free to join the fun.

I’m reading an historical mystery that is the first book in a series. I’m late coming to it, but that just means, if I like the book, I have a lot of books ahead of me to read. Here’s the first paragraph. See what you think.

Maisie DobbsSpring 1929

Chapter One

Even if she hadn’t been the last person to walk through the turnstile at Warren Street tube station, Jack Barker would have noticed the tall, slender woman in the navy blue, thigh-length jacket with a matching pleated skirt short enough to reveal a well-turned ankle. She had what his old mother would have called “bearing.” A way of walking with her shoulders back and head held high as she pulled on her black gloves while managing to hold on to a somewhat battered black document case.

“Old money,” muttered Jack to himself. “Stuck-up piece of nonsense.”

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Diveese Universe 2015The purpose of the More Diverse Universe Challenge is to draw attention to authors of color. As you can see, I’m a few days late in celebrating my second author in this challenge. (See my post celebrating Zora Neale Hurston HERE.) So even though I’m late, I’m posting anyway. I don’t think it hurts to draw attention to authors of color at other times during the year. In my opinion, this author is too important to pass up.

I’m highlighting a contemporary writer of books for children and young adults, Jacqueline Woodson. She is a multi-award winner. She’s won three Newberry Honor Medals, the Coretta Scott King Award, Claudia Lewis Award, Hans Christian Andersen Award, and for this book, the National Book Award. As you can see, lots of people like her work.

Jacqueline WoodsonMs. Woodson grew up telling stories. Unfortunately, the people around her said she was lying. That’s how it went until, in elementary school, she won an award for a poem she wrote. Jacqueline discovered that “a lie on the page was a whole different animal.”

Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming is a personalf memoir in verse form. Jacqueline Woodson was born in Ohio but lived her early life in Greenville, South Carolina and New York City. She grew up in the 60s and 70s — a turbulent time that most of us remember clearly.

Although I grew up white in the 40s and 50s, I understood and could so closely feel “brown girl’s” experiences. I was right there with her when she was:

  • fighting with her brother and sister,
  • found a true best friend,
  • listened as a beloved grandmother told Bible stories,
  • her teacher didn’t believe she had written a super-good story, and
  • her absolute joy when given a whole table full of board games.

Ms. Woodson doesn’t duck away from the negative things that happened. I felt it when:

  • she was confused and hurt when her parents separated,
  • her sadness when her fun-loving uncle had to go to prison,
  • embarrassment when she had to leave the classroom during the pledge of allegiance because of her family’s religious beliefs, and
  • her fear when interacting with white people.

I couldn’t really feel the “brown girl’s”  pain at the treatment she experienced because of her skin color, but I did feel anger at the injustice of it. The author’s style of honesty and openness appealed to me and, I’m sure, the children she writes for. Most children will say, “That just isn’t fair!”

The other thing I believe young readers will like about Brown Girl Dreaming is the verse form in which it is written. The lilt and rhythm of the short sentences are so enjoyable. I wanted to share a short quote from this heartfelt book so you can see what it’s like. I think you will identify with this young book-lover:

The Reader

When we can’t find my sister, we know
she is under the kitchen table, a book in her hand,
a glass of milk and a small bowl of peanuts beside her.

We know we can call Odella’s name out loud,
slap the table hard with our hands,
dance around it singing
“She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”
so many times the song makes us sick
and the circling makes us dizzy
and still
my sister will do nothing more
than slowly turn the page.

Was that you under the table? I’m pretty sure it was me too. This short story is a perfect example of why this book is not just for brown girls. I celebrate that it was written by and for brown girls, but inside we are the same—girls.

I highly recommend you read this book. Actually, please read this book and then, find another girl to read it with you. Thanks to my daughter Candice for recommending it to me.

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books 2014


2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

2015 Corretta Scott King Award

Wondrous Words #321

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.

In an article about Ruth Reichl on NPR’s newsletter I found this word:

incantatory: “With only 140 characters, Twitter became incantatory, formal — like haiku. Or, as Reichl called them, “word pictures.”

Incantatory is the adjective form of incantation. (I should have known.) It still means the same thing:  the use of words as a magic spell or charm.


Here’s a word I found in The Book Shop by Penelope Fitzgerald:

foreshore: This was because of her worries as to whether to purchase a small property,  the Old House, with its own warehouse on the foreshore, and to open the only bookshop in Hardborough.

Foreshore is a noun that means the part of a shore between high-water and low-water marks, or between the water and cultivated or developed land.

Okay, that’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.