FIRST CHAPTER, FIRST PARAGRAPH: The Gentleman, by Forrest Leo

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First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea!

I received Forrest Leo’s The Gentleman in a Muse Monthly box a few months ago, and I still haven’t gotten around to reading it. Oops. The Gentleman is Leo’s debut novel, and is about a Lionel Savage, a popular poet in Victorian London, who has discovered he has no money, marries a woman for her money, and realizes he does not love his wife because his muse has left him. The description on the inside cover says that Lionel believes he meets the dark lord/devil at a party, and once Lionel’s wife disappears he believes he accidentally sold her to the devil himself. After his wife’s disappearance, Lionel, with some help along the way, plans a rescue mission to Hell to rescue her.

One: In Which I Find Myself Destitute & Rectify Matters in a Drastic Way

My name is Lionel Savage, I am twenty-two years old, I am a poet, and I do not love my wife. I loved her once, not without cause – but I do not anymore. She is a vapid, timid, querulous creature, and I find after six months of married life that my position has become quite intolerable and I am resolved upon killing myself.

After flipping through several pages after the introduction, this looks like a very well-paced, humorous novel, and I’m excited to start it after I finish up a few of my current reads.

FIRST CHAPTER, FIRST PARAGRAPH: The Mortifications, by Derek Palacio

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First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea!

Derek Palacio’s The Mortifications follows a rural Cuban family in the 1980s torn apart during the Mariel Boatlift. Uxbal Encarnación—father, husband, political insurgent—refuses to leave behind the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. His wife Soledad takes young Isabel and Ulises hostage and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life. But instead of settling with fellow Cuban immigrants in Miami’s familiar heat, Soledad pushes further north into the stark, wintry landscape of Hartford, Connecticut. There, in the long shadow of their estranged patriarch, now just a distant memory, the exiled mother and her children begin a process of growth and transformation.

Ulises Encarnación did not believe in fate. This may have been a by-product of the sailor’s name of his father, Uxbal, had given him and the fact that Ulises detested ocean horizons – they were impermanent and appeared like waterfalls over which one could cascade into death. More likely his disbelief was a consequence of how Ulises was taken from Cuba as a young boy by his mother, Soledad, as a member of the now-infamous 1980 Mariel Boatlift. Uxbal had wanted the family to stay despite their poverty. They did have a sturdy house with a garden, tomatoes when others didn’t, but Soledad saw in Ulises a mind for school, and she worried about the state of young, pensive boys in Cuba. Bookworms were considered faggots, and though she did not think her son a homosexual, the state might, and she cringed at the thought of him in prison, or worse, at a rehabilitation camp.

Have you read this? What did you think about it?

FIRST CHAPTER, FIRST PARAGRAPH: Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin

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First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea!

James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room is part of the classics challenge I am doing this year (and spectacularly failing at, but I still have time to catch up). The edition I have is part of Penguin’s Great Loves series that contains twenty volumes of love. The back cover of this says “Love can be dishonest.” In Giovanni’s Room, when David meets the sensual Giovanni in a bohemian bar, he is swept into a passionate love affair. But his girlfriend’s return to Paris destroys everything. Unable to admit to the truth, David pretends the liaison never happened – while Giovanni’s life descends into tragedy.

I stand at the window of this great house in the south of France as night falls, the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life. I have a drink in my hands, there is a bottle at my elbow. I watch my reflection in the darkening gleam of the window pane. My reflection is tall, perhaps rather like an arrow, my blond hair gleams. My face is like a face you have seen many times. My ancestors conquered a continent, pushing across death-laden plains, until they came to an ocean which faced away from Europe into a darker past.

Have you read this? What did you think?

FIRST CHAPTER, FIRST PARAGRAPH: Lolly Willowes, by Sylvia Townsend Warner

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First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea! I’m also cheating a little bit this month by posting more than the single line that functions as the first paragraph.

Lately I’ve been really interested in what is published by New York Review Books, and I came across Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes in a bookstore. It’s about a single woman living at the beginning of the 20th century who decides, in middle age, to live alone, out of her brother’s house and away from polite society. John Updike’s blurb on the back reads “This is the witty, eerie, tender but firm life history of a middle-class Englishwoman who politely declines to make the expected connection with the opposite sex and becomes a witch instead.” Perfect for Halloween! 🎃

When her father died, Laura Willowes went to live in London with her elder brother and his family.

“Of course, ” said Caroline, “you will come to us.”

“But it will upset all your plans. It will give you so much trouble. Are you sure you really want me?”

“Oh dear, yes.”

Caroline spoke affectionately, but her thoughts were elsewhere.

Pokémon Go Book Tag

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I stumbled across Aentee’s Pokémon Go Book Tag and decided immediately I wanted to do it, because I’ve been totally obsessed with the app (I even caught some in the Bahamas!)! I don’t know who to tag specifically, but if you want to do it, tag, you’re it!

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I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember, but the books that really got me wanting to read more beyond what was given to me were the Dear America books! Does anyone remember those? I was in the fourth grade when I read the first one, and I used to get them through the Scholastic book orders. They were fictional diaries of girls in different periods of history, and I was obsessed. I read the first three in that series over and over and over.

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Jane Eyre, to nobody’s surprise. I’m going to read the rest of the Brontë works in this year and the next because I need to know more of their inner lives after reading Claire Harman’s biography of Jane (and her siblings).

pokemon-tag-03-zubat Maybe A Song of Ice and Fire? I’ll read them all eventually, maybe once Winds of Winter is released or something. Otherwise, there are several series/books that I avoid not just because I see it everywhere but because I have no interest in ever reading them for personal reasons.

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I don’t have a specific answer for this because it’s in a lot of stuff I’ve enjoyed, but I’ll read nearly anything that has a Beauty and the Beast/forced cohabitation and oh look we’ve fallen in love trope. I don’t know why but it gets me every time. It’s seen in stuff like Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and Robin McKinley’s Beauty/Rose Daughter.

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Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive series. Those books are literal bricks, okay. I haven’t finished the rest of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series for this reason, too.

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Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station was the last book to keep me up past my bedtime. I had to know more about those data vampires and where he took the characters in the world he created. Dracula, when I first read it years and years ago, kept me up out of sheer horror.

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Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester. Yvaine and Tristran Thorne. I have more but these are my top three!

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I blazed through Pierce Brown’s Red Rising! I really enjoyed the world building. It wasn’t a new concept, but I thought it was well-executed, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy!

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I WANTED TO SAY HARRY POTTER UNTIL I STARTED READING THE CURSED CHILD. (I’m still excited for Fantastic Beasts, though, not gonna lie.) So… let’s just say I’ll read all the Star Wars and Star Trek spin-offs until the end of time. Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath is so much fun!

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Some of these aren’t “new” debuts, but I haven’t read them yet: Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte, Paula Lichtarowicz’s The First Book of Calamity Leek, Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, and Paige Orwin’s The Interminables!

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NEIL GAIMAN. I also have (decidedly) not read everything of his yet because I always want there to be something of his that’s always new to me.

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Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. It seems like everyone and their mother’s read it, and it’s going in different directions than some of us probably hoped for, but I still like it, and I’m super excited for Empire of Storms!

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Uh… Patrick Rothfuss’s Door of Stone or whatever it’s called. The third book in the Kingkiller Chronicles. WHERE IS IT.

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I read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith as part of an Instagram read a long a while ago, and I loved it so much more than I expected to! I don’t know why I thought of it as a stuffy book and avoided it because of that, but I was surprised at its breadth and depth and magic.

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The Sandman Omnibus Silver Edition. Because OMG.

 

(And if anyone’s wondering/curious, I caught my first Tentacool and Magikarp in Nassau.)