Tuesday, July 26, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Bilgewater; Jane Gardam

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. 

Bilgewater; Jane Gardam
Europa - 2016

"The interview seemed over. The Principal of the college sat looking at the candidate.  The Principal's back was to the light and her stout, short outline was solid against the window, softened only by the fuzz of her aging but rather pretty hair.  Outside the bleak and brutal Cambridge afternoon --December and raining.

The candidate sat opposite wondering what to do.  The chair had a soft seat but wooden arms. She crossed her legs first one way and then the other -- then wondered about closing her legs at all.  She considered whether to get up.  There was a cigarette box beside her.  She wondered whether she would be offered a cigarette.  There was a decanter of sherry on the bookcase.  It had a neglected air."

What do you think -- keep reading or pass? 
(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro below?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Watching Edie; Camilla Way

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. 

Watching Edie; Camilla Way
(NAL) New American Library - 2016


Outside my kitchen window the long afternoon empties of light.  I look at London stretched out far below, my dripping hands held poised above the sink.  The doorbell rings, one long high peal; The broken intercom vibrates.  The view from up here, it's incredible, as if you're flying.  Deptford and Greenwich, New Cross and Erith, then the river, and beyond that there's the Gherkin, over there the Shard.  From my top floor flat here on Telegraph Hill, you can see forever and as usual it calms me, soothes me: how big it is, how small I am, how far from where I used to be.

The doorbell rings more urgently--whoever it is is putting their finger on the buzzer and holding it there.  The night hovers.

What do you think -- keep reading or pass? 
(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro below?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Dogs of Littlefield; Suzanne Berne

 The Dogs of Littlefield; Suzanne Berne
Brilliance Audio & Simon & Schuster
Carol Monda - narrator (excellent)

The Dogs of Littlefield was one wacky novel, it made me laugh and smile a lot. The audiobook reader, Carol Mondo, was perfect for this offering.

Littlefield, Massachusetts was recently named the 6th best place to live in the US. Great schools, charming town,  tree-lined streets and 1,146 psychotherapists and 679 psychiatrists and a few other unusual statistics.

Just after Dr. Clarice Watkins, a psychologist from Chicago, arrives in town to research the quality of life in Littlefield, someone begins poisoning the dogs in the town.  Things like this just do not happen in Littlefield, a town full of quirky, upper class busy bodies. So could the poisonings be in protest of the controversial off-leash proposal of a local dog park?

This book can best be described as a comedy of manners with a little mystery added to the mix. There  were a lot of characters but, it wasn't critical to keep them straight, the enjoyment factor was in the behavior and actions of the opinionated, neurotic and self-obsessed residents of Littlefield.  For example,  Dr. Watkins, new to the town,  is one of two persons of color in the town, and since she's from Chicago, some assume she knows the Obamas personally.  Equally insane is the way they react to a student from Pakistan.

I have to be honest, the mystery aspect of this novel is weak and the story lacks substance, but, the snarky writing never ceased to entertain me. I loved the descriptive writing about this insular town and the reactions of the wealthy people behaving badly.  If you enjoy quirky characters, this is a great summer book for you.  I highly recommend the audio as well.

Plot - 3 stars
Entertainment Value - 5 stars
(audiobook & eGalley)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Before the Fall; Noah Hawley

Before the Fall; Noah Hawley
Grand Central Publishing - 2016
Robert Petkoff - Narrator

Definitely one of the best books I've read this summer, Before the Fall, begins with the plane crash of a private jet headed to NYC from Martha's Vineyard.  Except for the crew, one passenger, and bodyguards, the other passengers were all wealthy people of influence.  Just 16 minutes into the flight the plane plunges into the ocean and only two individuals survive.

Scott Burroughs is a struggling artist who normally takes the ferry from Martha's Vineyard to NYC. On this particular day he is invited on the flight by Mrs. Bateman, an acquaintance. After the plane crashes Scott and JJ. Bateman, the four year old son of the CEO of a major news affiliate are the only survivors. Scott, a strong swimmer, is able to save JJ, however, his parents and older sister are among the casualties.

The rest of the novel is a wonderfully plotted narrative about the passengers, crew and next of kin of little JJ. As the stories surrounding the other passengers unfold, there is speculation about the cause of the crash and whether a bomb was involved.

The news media, as they often do, make a media circus out of this tragedy and, Scott's life is turned upside down. He is judged and accused by others based on speculation.   I must admit I couldn't stop thinking about John F. Kennedy Jr. as I read. If you recall his private plane also crashed over Martha's Vineyard, 17 years ago this coming Saturday. 

This is a suspenseful story with excellent character development and page turning plot.  I suspected this was going to be a perfect read for me but, I must say I was kind of disappointed the way the story played out in the end.  I still encourage you to try this one, a great summer read.

4.5/5 stars
(audio & eGalley)