Friday, June 4, 2010

What Are You Reading?

It's time to talk about books again.

I'm reading When the Mississippi Ran Backwards: Empire, Intrigue, Murder, and the New Madrid Earthquakes by Jay Feldman.

These earthquakes occurred at the end of 1811 and the beginning of 1812, centered on the fault that lies in the southeast part of Missouri. Three of the quakes would have measured near 8.0 on the Richter scale, if such a thing had existed at the time. Felt as far north as Canada, all the way to the east coast, and south to New Orleans, the New Madrid series destroyed towns and even made the mighty Mississippi run backwards for a short time.

I became interested in the subject when I was researching true events for background in my historical novel manuscript, Wishing Caswell Dead. This is how we get sidetracked by research. I've been reading history of the Illinois area in the early 1800s ever since.

Maybe it's odd to think about first sentences in non-fiction history books, but I thought Feldman had a good one:

"Accompanied by an entourage of Shawnee, Kickapoo, and Winnebago warriors, the Shawnee chief strode decisively through the Creek village of Tuckhabatchee."

The book I recently finished was In the Woods by Tana French. This debut novel is mystery/suspense set in Ireland with a cop protagonist. A cop with a secret.

The winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for best first novel is so well written that it made me jealous. I can't wait to read French's new book, The Likeness, which was released in 2009. Instead of continuing the series with the same cop protagonist used in In the Woods, French apparently takes the cop's former partner as her new lead character. I think that's a nice variation on series.

The first sentence of In the Woods is in a prologue:

"Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film sent in small-town 1950s."

The two-page prologue sets the scene--the Irish countryside, the small village, the summer season, and a foreshadowing of the terrible things that happened that summer. French ignored all the advice that says no prologues, no long narrative openings that focus on setting, and don't open with backstory. I'm glad she did it her way, because it works beautifully.

What are you reading these days? Do you have something great to recommend?


Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Just finished another Jodi Picoult book. Anything she writes is terrific! Also reading 3 devotionals throughout the day. One of them is Cup of Comfort for Writers. This is my second read of it and I highly recommend it.

Jenny S. said...

Hi, Pat. I'm 3/4 of the way through The Know-It-All, A.J. Jacobs' memoir about the year he spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. It's very funny and quirky and full of great trivia.

I just finished Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger. Great characters, well-written, weird story. But I'm glad I read it.

Paul D. Brazill said...

I'm reading The White Gallows. It's a very good police procedural from Irish writer Rob Kitchin.


I'm not into reading at the moment as I am taken up with walking, I am trying to shed a few pounds.

Enjoy your day

Clarissa Draper said...

I purchased Edward Martin's Serpent Pool yesterday. Can't wait to read it.


Jan Morrison said...

I'm reading several old Elizabeth George's. I finished 'In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner' last night and started 'Payment in Blood' this morning. I've read them both before I think but as I can never remember - it is fine to read them again! I try not to read mysteries when I'm writing them and vice versa. I'm also reading 'This Year You Write Your Novel' by Walter Mosley. It is clear and small - works as a good inspiration while I revise. I read both the Tana French books - amazingly good!

Ann Best said...

Re In the Woods prologue: just goes to show, go with your intuition.

They all sound excellent. I'm especially drawn to In the Woods.

Terry Odell said...

I won a copy of Laura Griffin's Untraceable, and had to go buy her back list. I'm reading One Last Breath now. I've also got John Sanford's Storm Prey in my queue, and Risk No Secrets by Cindy Gerard.

And of course, I recommend my book, When Danger Calls, as great reading. :-)

Jeanie said...

I am ready "Heresy" by S. J. Harris. It is an historical thriller. The first line is "The outer door was thrown open with a crash that resounded along the passage, and the floorboards shook with the purposeful marching of several pairs of feet." The main character was sitting in the privy reading a forbidden book. It is set in England in the 1580s.

Talli Roland said...

I'm reading 'Mousetrapped' - it's the non-fiction account of an Irish girl working at Disney in Florida, and it's really interesting!

Kay said...

I've hit a dry spell. The last two books I picked up ... turned me off. Am hopeful something engrossing will emerge from my to-read pile.

irishoma said...

Just finished *Backseat Saints* by Joshilyn Jackson. Quirky characters, gritty writing--a story about an abused woman and the mother who abandoned her.

Anonymous said...

I'm adding some of these to my TBR list. Thanks all for the great reviews.

I just finished SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson. Everyone should read this YA, though the content is a bit tough to read, the style is so incredible I couldn't put it down.

Watery Tart said...

I just picked up a stack of books at the library based on the reader recommendations at Nathan Bransford's site: "What is the best mystery/thriller you've read?" The first one up is The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love doing this post because I always discover several new books or authors to add to my TBR list. Since I have books spilling all over the house already (including Terry's When Danger Calls), you'd think I'd have the good sense to burn the list...but no, I just keep adding more titles.

Margot Kinberg said...

I'm between books now, and just about to start Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear's Coming of the Storm. I'm a fan of their Anasazi mystery series about archeologist William "Dusty" Stewart, and forensic anthropolist Dr. Maureen Cole. Even though this one is part of a different series, I'm excited for it.

arlee bird said...

The book about the earthquake sounds like my cup of tea. I love those historical accounts that are highly readable. I'm going to keep When the Mississippi.... on my future read list.

Currently I'm finishing up my advance reader copy of Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. It is being released on June 7th, but since I've already scheduled a blog topic for that day I'll be reviewing the book on next Tues June 8.

Tossing It Out

Jemi Fraser said...

Those are great first lines!

I just finished Suzanne Brockmann's latest in the Troubleshooters series. Great stuff :)

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

Hi Patricia. I'm reading the Desert Hedge Murders. I'll post a review when I'm done. Happy weekend, Simon.

Pauladerelle said...

Finished Elizabeth George's "For The Sake of Elena". Next "The 8th Confession" by James Patterson & Maxine Paetero-# 8 in Women's Murder Club series