Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Beginnings on Friday has a New Home!


Thank you so much for joining me for the last year and a half of Book Beginnings! It has been a wonderful run, but I'm ready to pass this fun meme on to another book blogger to enjoy. Gilion at Rose City Reader has graciously agreed to host Book Beginnings on Friday! She was the original inspiration for this meme, so it seemed only fitting that she become the new host! Please go over to Rose City Reader to link up your Book Beginnings posts!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Beginnings on Friday, March 16, 2012

I've been sick all week, and basically off the computer for most of it, so I haven't made a decision yet on the new home of Book Beginnings. I'm finally starting to feel better so I'm planning to do that ASAP. Sorry for drawing this out for so long. :(


How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

Thanks to Becky at Page Turners for starting this meme and to Rose City Reader for inspiring it!

I'm reading A Sudden, Fearful Death by Anne Perry right now. Here are the first lines:
When she first came into the room, Monk thought it would simply be another case of domestic petty theft, or investigating the character and prospects of some suitor. Not that he would have refused such a task; he could not afford to.
I adore Anne Perry's William Monk mysteries, and this one has been quite thought-provoking considering the current political climate! The story so far has involved a rape, a murder, and talk about birth control and abortion. I've been working my way through the series and have yet to be disappointed. This is book #4 in the series.

So how does your current read begin, and what are your thoughts so far? Please leave the link to your specific post, not just to the front page of your blog. 



Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Beginnings on Friday: March 9, 2012

Thank you to everyone who offered to take over Book Beginnings. I'm sorting through you all and I'll try to make a decision this weekend.


How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

Thanks to Becky at Page Turners for starting this meme and to Rose City Reader for inspiring it!

Influenced by my love for the BBC series Sherlock (airs on PBS in the US), I just started reading A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Here are the first lines:
In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as assistant surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it the second Afghan war had broken out.
I have a tendency to be nervous about classics sometimes--worried that they will be difficult to read, dry, and not as good as I hope they will be. So far, that has not been the case with this one. I've been pleasantly surprised that this has been a pleasure to read, and I'm disappointed in myself that I put it off for so long out of fear! I'm enjoying this introduction to Watson, and I'm already seeing wonderful connections between this story and its interpretation into the modern Sherlock series.

So how does your current read begin, and what are your thoughts so far? Please leave the link to your specific post, not just to the front page of your blog.



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 320
Publication Date: February 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: I read an e-galley through NetGalley.
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
✵✵✵✵✵✵✵✵

Although we encourage our kids to embrace their uniqueness and accept other peoples' differences, there is also a steady current in our society that celebrates conformity. But what if no matter what you did, you would always stand out as being very different from everyone else? What is it like to experience the staring, the prejudice, and the cruelty that others heap upon you as a child? This book is about a boy named Auggie who was born with a severe facial deformity. Through many surgeries and hospital stays Auggie was homeschooled. But when he reaches the age for middle school, he and his family decided to give public school a try.

It's a difficult experience for him. He is used to the stares and the comments that his facial deformity brings, but going into the school environment brings a whole new set of challenges. Auggie has to deal with bullying and try to make friends with kids who have a very hard time seeing past his face. Some of his experiences are so heartwrenching that I wanted to reach into the book and give the poor kid a hug. But through it all, he stays true to himself and wins people over by the goodness of his heart.

The book is told from several different points of view, in first person. You hear Auggie's story from his own POV, then you get to see how the people around him are affected by him being in their lives. I don't always like it when books are written in this way, but it worked really well for me here. I really liked it. It brought another dimension to the story--you find out what his high schooler sister is going through, what her boyfriend thinks, and what Auggie's friends go through in befriending the outcast kid. The story is complex and satisfying.

This was a fantastic book with an effective and moving message about the ways we treat each other and how the heart of one person can so utterly change us. I highly recommend it for young and old alike.

Related Linkage:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Review and Tour Stop: Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Pages:  336
Publication Date:  2005
Publisher:  Penguin
Source:  My personal library
Rating:  4 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):  
Jacqueline Winspear’s marvelous and inspired debut, Maisie Dobbs, won her fans from coast to coast and raised her intuitive, intelligent, and resourceful heroine to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths. Birds of a Feather finds Maisie Dobbs on another dangerously intriguing adventure in London "between the wars." It is the spring of 1930, and Maisie has been hired to find a runaway heiress. But what seems a simple case at the outset soon becomes increasingly complicated when three of the heiress’s old friends are found dead. Is there a connection between the woman’s mysterious disappearance and the murders? Who would want to kill three seemingly respectable young women? As Maisie investigates, she discovers that the answers lie in the unforgettable agony of the Great War.
♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Last March I discovered the wonderful world of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs when I read and reviewed The Mapping of Love and Death (click here to read my review). I was enchanted by the intelligence and heart of the main character and vowed that I would be reading more books from the series. Over the summer I read (and loved) the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which gave me a lot of the background that I was looking for and was hinted at in The Mapping of Love and Death. I picked up a copy of the second book, Birds of a Feather, at a local bookstore a few months ago and joined the "March is Maisie Month" blog tour just so I would have an excuse to finally read it.

Once again I was struck by the way that Maisie's adventures are not only full of mystery and suspense, but also place a lot of importance on characters' emotions as well. Maisie's history as a former maid and nurse in World War I give her depth and a particularly interesting point of view from which to approach her cases. Indeed, even though at the outset Maisie's investigation into the disappearance of a wealthy heiress doesn't seem related to WWI, it gradually becomes clear that there are unexpected connections to it. I find it interesting and logical that the upheaval of the Great War would have such lasting effects on people in 1930 (the year this book takes place). I also was intrigued by how the beginnings of the Great Depression were in evidence throughout the story.

As with my experience reading The Mapping of Love and Death, I was utterly surprised by who ended up being the murderer. Maisie keeps her cards close to the vest and while I knew she was starting to connect the dots I was still utterly in the dark about the murders and their connection to the runaway heiress. I love it when a mystery can keep me guessing right up to the final reveal. This was another great book in the Maisie Dobbs series and I plan to continue with the rest of the series.

On a related note, if you are a Downton Abbey fan, you should give Maisie Dobbs a try! I was particularly struck by the common threads between that show and these books after watching the second season of Downton Abbey, which takes place during World War I. Maisie Dobbs was a maid before World War I and she worked as a nurse during the war. She observes many changes that occur within society during the war and the years afterward that would be familiar to fans of Downton Abbey. So if you're looking for Downton-esque reads, put the Maisie Dobbs series on your list!

Related Linkage:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Beginnings on Friday: March 2, 2012

Hey everyone! I'm looking for someone to take over Book Beginnings. My zest for blogging has kind of tapered off, and this blog has become pretty quiet over the last few weeks. So if you're interested in becoming the new host for Book Beginnings on Friday, please send an email to afewmorepages[at]gmail[dot]com (include the URL of your blog). Thanks!


How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

Thanks to Becky at Page Turners for starting this meme and to Rose City Reader for inspiring it!

This week I'm reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Here are the first lines:
I know I'm not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an XBox. Stuff like that makes me ordinary. I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds.
This is certainly an intriguing beginning. Just from the blurb I know this book is about a boy with a facial deformity, and finding out that it starts out being told from his perspective definitely makes me want to read more.

So how does your current read begin, and what are your thoughts so far? Please leave the link to your specific post, not just to the front page of your blog.



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