Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

One of the books I’m currently reading is Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge. I’ve enjoyed some of her other books so I’m hopingto enjoy this one too.

My Book Beginning:

One morning early in October, a man called Ashburner, tightly buttoned into a black overcoat and holding a suitcase, tried to leave his bedroom on the second floor of a house in Beaufort Street.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 56:

Only last week there had been a report in the Guardian about an innocent bystander from Manchester who had gone to some meeting or other behind the Iron Curtain and disappeared for three days.

Synopsis

Quiet and reliable, Douglas Ashburner has never been much of a womaniser. So when he begins an extra-marital affair with Nina, a bossy, temperamental artist with a penchant for risky sex, he finds adultery a terrible strain.

He tells his wife that he needs a rest, so she happily packs him off for a fishing holiday in the Highlands. Only, unknown to her, Douglas is actually flying off to Moscow with Nina, as a guest of the Soviet Artists’ Union. It is then that things begin to get very complicated indeed…

What do you think? What are you currently reading?

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: A Heart Full of Headstones by Ian Rankin

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

One of the books I’m currently reading is Ian Rankin’s latest and 24th Rebus novel, A Heart Full of Headstones. I’ve read all the earlier books.

The first Rebus book I read was Set in Darkness, the 11th book in the series. It was obvious that this featured characters that had been in the earlier books but I didn’t find it difficult to follow who was who and their relationships. Even so I decided I needed to start at the beginning and read them in sequence. And I think, for me at least, that works best, in order to fully understand the background and how the characters interact and evolve.

My Book Beginning:

John Rebus had been in court plenty of times, but this was his first time in the dock.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 56:

Rebus had just finished eating an early dinner of microwaved haggis when he heard the doorbell. Brillo trotted with him to the door. Siobhan was standing on the step.

‘Well, well,’ Rebus said, while Brillo’s welcome was more effusive, ‘In you come then.’

Synopsis:

John Rebus had been in court plenty of times, but this was his first time in the dock…

John Rebus stands accused: on trial for a crime that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life. Although it’s not the first time the legendary detective has taken the law into his own hands, it might be the last.

What drove a good man to cross the line? Or have times changed, and the rules with them?

Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke faces Edinburgh’s most explosive case in years, as a corrupt cop goes missing after claiming to harbour secrets that could sink the city’s police force.

But in this investigation, it seems all roads lead to Rebus – and Clarke’s twin loyalties to the public and the police will be tested to their limit.

A reckoning is coming – and John Rebus may be hearing the call for last orders…

Oh, my goodness – the call for last orders? How will this book end? I just have to read it!

What do you think? Have you read it, or are you going to read it?

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

I’ve borrowed Demon Copperhead from the library and I’ve started reading it – even though I’m currently in the middle of two other books. As it’s had such good reviews, I’m a bit worried that it won’t live up to all the hype for me. It’s a retelling of David Copperfield, which I read earlier this year.

My Book Beginning:

First, I got myself born. A decent crowd was on hand to watch, and they’ve always given me that much: the worst of the job was up to me, my mother being let’s just say out of it.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 56:

Finally Miss Barks turned round with her elbow on the back of the seat and said let’s talk about where we are going. I’d be staying with a gentleman named Mr Crickson that took kids for short-term only. He had boys there now. The Cricksons had been regular fosters until his wife passed away, and now he just took in the odd hardship case.

So, I’m guessing Miss Barks and Mr Crickson are the equivalent characters of Mr Barkis and Mr Creakle in David Copperfield. I have a feeling I should not approach this book as a retelling of David Copperfield, or I’ll be forever comparing the two and not really reading it as a book in its own right, as it were.

Synopsis:

Demon’s story begins with his traumatic birth to a single mother in a single-wide trailer, looking ‘like a little blue prizefighter.’ For the life ahead of him he would need all of that fighting spirit, along with buckets of charm, a quick wit, and some unexpected talents, legal and otherwise.

In the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, poverty isn’t an idea, it’s as natural as the grass grows. For a generation growing up in this world, at the heart of the modern opioid crisis, addiction isn’t an abstraction, it’s neighbours, parents, and friends. ‘Family’ could mean love, or reluctant foster care. For Demon, born on the wrong side of luck, the affection and safety he craves is as remote as the ocean he dreams of seeing one day. The wonder is in how far he’s willing to travel to try and get there.

Suffused with truth, anger and compassion, Demon Copperhead is an epic tale of love, loss and everything in between.

~~~

What do you think? Have you read it, or are you going to read it? Do you like books that retell classics?

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

Today I’m featuring one of my TBRs books Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, a book I bought four years ago and promptly forgot about it. Earlier this year I thoroughly enjoyed reading State of Wonder and then remembered that I hadn’t read Bel Canto. I’ve just started reading it.

My Book Beginning:

When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 56:

The crowd on the floor pulsed with needs. Some had to go to the bathroom again. There were murmurings about medications. People wanted to stand up, to be fed, to have a drink of water to wash the taste from their mouths.Their restlessness emboldened them, but there was this as well: eighteen hours had passed and still no one was dead.

Synopsis:

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honour of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxane Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerised the international guests with her singing.

It is a perfect evening – until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.

What do you think? Would you read it?

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Murder in the Afternoon by Frances Brody

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

Today I’m featuring one of my TBRs books Murder in the Afternoon by Frances Brody, the third Kate Shackleton Mystery set in the Yorkshire Dales in 1923.

My Book Beginning

Harriet held the cloth-covered basin in her thin hands, feeling the warmth. She and Austin trod the well-eorn path from their long strip of back garden on Nether End,

Mam wasn’t home. She’d hurried off to Town Street, to buy the Woodbines that Harriet accidentally on purpose forgot when she and Austin went to do the Saturday shop. Mam wanted a new house. She was sick to death of living in the back of beyond.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 56:

‘Won’t you at least cordon off the mason’s hut, in case this does turn out to be a murder enquiry?’

His small eyes narrowed. I had overplayed my hand.

‘No, Mrs Shackleton, I will not.’

Synopsis:

Dead One Minute: Young Harriet and her brother, Austin, have always been scared of the quarry where their stonemason father works. So when they find him dead on the cold ground, they scarper quick smart and look for some help.

Alive the Next?: When help arrives, however, the quarry is deserted, and there is no sign of the body. Were the children mistaken? Is their father not dead? Did he simply get up and run away?

A Sinister Disappearing Act: It seems like another unusual case requiring the expertise of Kate Shackleton. But for Kate this is one case where surprising family ties makes it her most dangerous – and delicate – yet….

What do you think? Would you read it?

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

Today I’m featuring one of the books I’m currently reading, Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch, the third book in his Rivers of London series, police procedurals of a very different kind – urban fantasy, set in the real world of London, a mix of reality and the supernatural.

My Book Beginning

Back in the summer I’d made the mistake of telling my mother what I did for a living. Not the police bit, which of course she already knew about having been at my graduation from Hendon, but the stuff about me working for the branch of the Met that dealt with the supernatural.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 56:

I was carrying my magic bowl with both hands and stepping carefully on the frost-slippery cobbles.

Ben Aaronovitch is an English author and screenwriter. He is the author of the Rivers of London series of novels. He worked as a scriptwriter for Doctor Who and Casualty before the inspiration for his own series of books struck him whilst working as a bookseller in Waterstones Covent Garden. His unique novels are the culmination of his experience of writing about the emergency services and the supernatural. 

The series is to be adapted for television, bringing together all nine of the novels, plus the accompanying short stories, novellas and graphic novels, for the screen. The TV adaptation will be co-produced by Pure Fiction Television, See-Saw Films and Aaronovitch’s own production company Unnecessary Logo.

Synopsis:

Peter Grant is learning magic fast. And it’s just as well – he’s already had run-ins with the deadly supernatural children of the Thames and a terrifying killer in Soho. Progression in the Police Force is less easy. Especially when you work in a department of two. A department that doesn’t even officially exist. A department that if you did describe it to most people would get you laughed at. And then there’s his love life. The last person he fell for ended up seriously dead. It wasn’t his fault, but still.

Now something horrible is happening in the labyrinth of tunnels that make up the tube system that honeycombs the ancient foundations of London. And delays on the Northern line is the very least of it. Time to call in the Met’s Economic and Specialist Crime Unit 9, aka ‘The Folly’. Time to call in PC Peter Grant, Britain’s Last Wizard.

What do you think? Would you read it?

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Nemesis by Rory Clements

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

Today I’m featuring Nemesis by Rory Clements, the third book in his Tom Wilde series, historical fiction set in the Second World War. I’ve read books 1, 2, 4 and 5. It’s probably better to read them in sequence, but I’ve found they read well as standalone books. I am about to start this one.

This was the best day of his life, watching his beloved boy, here in this ancient chamber of light.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 56:

Why was the door open?

He stood on the front doorstep, as his eyes adjusted to the gloom. Across the road, beside the fenced-off garden at the centre of the square, he thought he saw shadowy movement. At first he dismissed it, but then, he heard voices too.

RORY CLEMENTS is a Sunday Times bestselling author. He won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award for his second novel, Revenger, and a TV series of the John Shakespeare novels is currently in development. 

Synopsis from Amazon:

In a great English house, a young woman offers herself to one of the most powerful and influential figures in the land – but this is no ordinary seduction. She plans to ensure his death . . .

On holiday in France, Professor Tom Wilde discovers his brilliant student Marcus Marfield, who disappeared two years earlier to join the International Brigades in Spain, in the Le Vernet concentration camp in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Wilde secures his release just as German tanks roll into Poland.

Meanwhile, a U-boat sinks the liner Athenia in the Atlantic with many casualties, including Americans, onboard. Goebbels claims Churchill put a bomb in the ship to blame Germany and to lure America into the war.

As the various strands of an international conspiracy begin to unwind, Tom Wilde will find himself in great personal danger. For just who is Marcus Marfield? And where does his loyalty lie?

A brilliantly intelligent, gripping WW2 spy thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Corpus and Hitler’s Secret.

What do you think? Would you read it?

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Ammonites and Leaping Fish by Penelope Lively

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

I was on holiday in the Lake District last week, overlooking Esthwaite Water. There were two shelves of books in our apartment and one of them was Ammonites and Leaping Fish: a Life in Time by Penelope Lively, so I read it whilst we were away. I’ll write more about it in a later post (although I’ve not been keeping up with reviewing the books I’ve read this summer).

This is not quite a memoir. Rather it is a view from old age.

And a view of old age itself, this place at which we arrive with a certain surprise – ambushed, or so it can seem. The view from eighty for me. One of the few advantages of age is that you can report on it with a certain authority; you are a native now and know what goes on here.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 56:

When I was on the other side of the Atlantic a few years ago staying with my best friend in America, she produced a photo she had found of the two of us taken in the early 1980s. We gazed at it with surprised respect; ‘Weren’t we young!’ said Betty. Actually verging on middle age, but never mind – our reaction was in perfect accord: an acknowledgement of those other selves.

Penelope Lively is one of my favourite authors and I’ve been reading her books for years, all of them are enjoyable and this one is no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Synopsis from Amazon:

In this charming but powerful memoir, Penelope Lively reports from beyond the horizon of old age. She describes what old age feels like for those who have arrived there and considers the implications of this new demographic. She looks at the context of a life and times, the history and archaeology that is actually being made as we live out our lives in real time, in her case World War II; post war penny-pinching Britain; the Suez crisis; the Cold War and up to the present day. She examines the tricks and truths of memory. She looks back over a lifetime of reading and writing. And finally she looks at her identifying cargo of possessions – two ammonites, a cat, a pair of American ducks and a leaping fish sherd, amongst others. This is an elegant, moving and deeply enjoyable memoir by one of our most loved writers.

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

Yesterday I finished reading Shrines of Gaiety, Kate Atkinson’s new book which will be published in September. I’ll write about it in a later post. Although I’m still reading The Return of the King and The Island, I wondered what I’d like to read next. I was thinking of reading  Lion by Conn Iggulden, the first in a new series ‘The Golden Age’, set in Ancient Greece in the 5th century BC. But, today I wasn’t in the mood for ancient historical fiction and fancied something more rural and more modern – and spotted All Among the Barley in a pile of books waiting to be read. It’s set on a farm in Suffolk just before the Second World War.

Prologue

Last night I lay awake again, remembering the day the Hunt ran me down in Hulver Wood when I was just a girl.

And then Chapter 1:

My name is Edith June Mather and I was born after the end of the Great War. My father, George Mather, had sixty acres of arable land known as Wych Farm; it is somewhere not far from here, I believe. Before him my grandfather Albert farmed the same fields, and his father before him, who ploughed with a team of oxen and sowed by hand.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 56:

Unlike Doble, whose family had been tied to ours for generations, John was what we in the village called a ‘furriner’, having been born sixty miles or more north of us, where our clay gave way to flat, rich peat.

Synopsis from Amazon:

WINNER OF THE EU PRIZE FOR LITERATURE

‘BOOK OF THE YEAR’ NEW STATESMAN, OBSERVER, IRISH TIMES, BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE

The fields were eternal, our life the only way of things, and I would do whatever was required of me to protect it.


The autumn of 1933 is the most beautiful Edie Mather can remember, though the Great War still casts a shadow over the cornfields of her beloved home, Wych Farm.

When charismatic, outspoken Constance FitzAllen arrives from London to write about fading rural traditions, she takes an interest in fourteen-year-old Edie, showing her a kindness she has never known before. But the older woman isn’t quite what she seems.

As harvest time approaches and pressures mount on the whole community, Edie must find a way to trust her instincts and save herself from disaster.

I chose this book because earlier this year I enjoyed Melissa Harrison’s novella, Rain: Four Walks in English Weather, which is about four rain showers, in four seasons, across Wicken Fen, Shropshire, the Darent Valley and Dartmoor. I like the way she writes about the natural world and All Among the Barley looks as though it will bring to life a world governed by the old rural traditions, in an evocation of place and a lost way of life.

What do you think? Have you read this book ?

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: The Island by Victoria Hislop

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

I’m currently reading The Island by Victoria Hislop, a book I’ve had on my bookshelves for years. The Wanderlust Bingo challenge has given me a massive nudge to read it now as it is the perfect book for the Island category! It is historical fiction inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, an island off the coast of Crete, a stone’s throw from Plaka. I’ve now read 25% of this book and am enjoying it so far.

Plaka, 1953

A cold wind whipped through the streets of Plaka and the chill of the autumnal air encircled the woman, paralysing her body and mind with a numbness that almost blocked her senses but could do nothing to alleviate her grief.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 57 (page 56 is blank):

1939

Early May brings Crete its most perfect and heaven-sent days. On one such day, when the trees were heavy with blossom and the very last of the mountain snows had melted into crystal streams, Elena left the mainland for Spinalonga. In cruel contrast to this blackest of events, the sky was brilliant, a cloudless blue

Synopsis from Amazon:



On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother’s past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more.

Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone’s throw from the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony. Then she finds Fotini, and at last hears the story that Sofia has buried all her life: the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion.

She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip…

I’ve read three other books by Victoria Hislop and enjoyed them so I’m expecting this one to be good too.

What do you think? Have you read this book ?