FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Cemetery Boys, by Aidan Thomas

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the rest of the year, I’m going to feature books by non-white writers, partially because I just did a whole list of classics by a majority of white writers and partially because I am continually focusing on purchasing and reading books by non-white writers for a whole list of reasons. The books featured will range from “classics” to adult fiction to YA/middle grade fiction, and these are all I’ve had on my shelf for a bit that I want to read by the end of this year or within the first few months of 2021! I can’t believe it’s basically the middle of November already, but time flies when you’re in the middle of a stress-bomb called COVID-19. Stay safe, stay home, wear a mask!

Yadriel wasn’t technically trespassing because he’d lived in the cemetery his whole life. But breaking into the church was definitely crossing the moral-ambiguity line.

Still, if he was going to finally prove he was a brujo, he had to perform the rite in front of Lady Death.

And she was waiting for him inside the church.

The black Hydro Flask full of chicken blood thumped against Yadriel’s hip as he snuck past his family’s small house at the front of the cemetery. The rest of the supplies for the ceremony were tucked away inside his backpack. He and his cousin Maritza ducked under the front windows, careful not to bump their heads on the sills. Silhouettes of the brujx celebrating inside danced across the curtains. Their laughter and the sound of music filtered through the graveyard. Yadriel paused, crouching in the shadows to check the coast was clear before he jumped from the porch and took off. Maritza followed close behind, her footsteps echoing in tandem with Yadriel’s as they ran down stone paths and through puddles.

Adrian Thomas’s Cemetery Boys has been buzzy in my neck of the book internet, and the premise intrigued me from the get-go. Thankfully my store got copies on release day so I could buy it, and I wanted to read it around Halloween but life took a different turn than I was expecting with the death of my cat and work getting busier/more stressful. But after reading the first few pages in preparation for this post, I definitely am bumping it up to the top of my TBR because it already sounds so good and perfectly spooky.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: When No One is Watching, by Alyssa Cole

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the rest of the year, I’m going to feature books by non-white writers, partially because I just did a whole list of classics by a majority of white writers and partially because I am continually focusing on purchasing and reading books by non-white writers for a whole list of reasons. The books featured will range from “classics” to adult fiction to YA/middle grade fiction, and these are all I’ve had on my shelf for a bit that I want to read by the end of this year or within the first few months of 2021! I can’t believe it’s basically the middle of November already, but time flies when you’re in the middle of a stress-bomb called COVID-19. Stay safe, stay home, wear a mask!

History is fucking wild.

Last fall, on a night when my ass was getting well acquainted with the uncomfortable guest chair in Mommy’s hospital room, I’d numbly tapped and swiped my way to an article about a place called Black America. Not the label politicians use to place our concerns into a neat box full of worries they don’t have to attend to immediately or ever, but an actual, tangible place — a slavery theme park that’d opened in Brooklyn at the end of the nineteenth century.

Slavery. Fucking. Theme park.

Black America, the theme park, was billed as “an opportunity to become familiar with plantation life for those of the North who belong to a generation to which the word slavery has but an indefinite and hazy meaning.” This was, like, twenty years after slavery ended, mind you. I mean, I too get nostalgic when an eighties jam starts playing on the radio, but these motherfuckers really needed to reminisce about owning humans?

I am so excited to read this. The back blurb says it’s Rear Window meets Get Out, and I’m so excited to read a thriller by Alyssa Cole because I’ve loved all of the romances I’ve read by her so far. In the last year and a half she’s become one of my autobuy authors with her romance books, and I can’t wait to see what she does with thrillers.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! This is the last title I’ve chosen that I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). One of the last essays I ever wrote for my undergraduate degree was on Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, and I loved it so much that I made a note to read more of Wharton in the years to come. However, it’s now been almost eight years since I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and I haven’t read another word of Wharton. When Scribner released beautiful new covers on The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, I bought both of them and immediately added The Age of Innocence to this #12decades12books challenge.

On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.

Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances “above the Forties,” of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendour with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy. Conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the “new people” whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to; and the sentimental clung to it for its historic associations, and the musical for its excellent acoustics, always so problematic a quality in halls built for the hearing of music.

It was Madame Nilsson’s first appearance that winter, and what the daily press had already learned to describe as “an exceptionally brilliant audience” had gathered to hear her, transported through the slippery, snowy streets in private broughams, in the spacious family landau, or in the humbler but more convenient “Brown coupe.”

What did you read in school that you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise? How has an instructor shaped your enjoyment of something?

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). I read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde when I was sixteen and found an old beat-up copy in a local used bookstore, and I remember being so entranced with it that I still haven’t stopped thinking about it. When I found it in a little free library, I grabbed it and have been waiting for the right moment to read it again. Now that it’s been half my life ago, I want to revisit it and see how I think about it now.

Mr Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable. At friendly meetings, and when the wine was to his taste, something eminently human beaconed from his eye; something indeed which never found its way into his talk, but which spoke not only in these silent symbols of the after-dinner face, but more often and loudly in the acts of his life. He was austere with himself; drank gin when he was alone, to mortify a taste for vintages; and though he enjoyed the theatre, had not crossed the doors of one for twenty years. But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove. ‘I incline to Cain’s heresy,’ he used to say quaintly; ‘I let my brother go to the devil in his own way.’ In this character, it was frequently his fortune to be the last reputable acquaintance and the last good influence in the lives of down-going men. And to such as these, so long as they came about his chambers, he never marked a shade of change in his demeanour.

What books have you read a decade ago that you still think about today? Why do you think they’ve stuck with you?

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). The Scarlet Letter is one of my favorite classics, and I first fell in love with it when I was like thirteen when I had to read it for a co-op Literature class. This is the other more well known Hawthorne title, and I had it on my shelf already!

Half-way down a by-street of one of our New England towns, stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst. The street is Pyncheon-street; the house is the old Pyncheon-house; and an elm-tree of wide circumference, rooted before the door, is familiar to every town-born child by the title of the Pyncheon-elm. On my occasional visits to the town aforesaid, I seldom fail to turn down Pyncheon-street, for the sake of passing through the shadow of these two antiquities; the great elm-tree, and the weather-beaten edifice.

The aspect of the venerable mansion has always affected me like a human countenance, bearing the races not merely of outward storm and sunshine, but expressive also of the long lapse of mortal life, and accompanying vicissitudes, that have passed within. Were these to be worthily recounted, they would form a narrative of no small interest and instruction, and possessing, moreover, a certain remarkable unity, which might almost seem the result of artistic arrangement. But the story would include a chain of events, extending over the better part of two centuries, and, written out with reasonable amplitude, would fill a bigger folio volume, or a longer series of duodecimos, than could prudently be appropriated to the annals of all New England, during a similar period.

How to you feel about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work? Do you enjoy it or is it something you’ve passed on?