Famous First Lines, Part 2

Here’s how to play…Identify the first lines of these famous novels by telling me what book it’s from. Leave a comment with the # of the first line and the title of the book and I’ll cross it off the list. No Googling, that’s cheating and no fun! If you know them all, please don’t guess every one, maybe five max? Mid week I’ll offer hints if needed.

 1. Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. Jason, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by Rowling

2. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. Mark, The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald

3. Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her. HINT: This was the beginning of a famous movie trilogy. Amy, The Godfather by Puzo

4. At a village of La Mancha, whose name I do not wish to remember, there lived a little while ago one of those gentlemen who are wont to keep a lance in the rack, an old buckler, a lean horse and a swift greyhoundDON QUIXOTE by Cervantes

5. The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY by Clarke

6. Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.   THE DIVINE COMEDY, INFERNO by Dante Alighieri

7. Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery. Mark, The DaVinci Code by Brown

8. Call me Ishmael. Jason, Moby Dick by Melville

9. All children, except one, grow up.  PETER PAN by Barrie

10. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Amy, Anna Karenina by Tolstoy


Free Books Online

I came across this site today that claims to have 30,000 free books online.  It looks like the majority of those are classics.  As a test I checked the last book I read (Kafka) and he was there ready to read!  The thought of sitting in front of a computer to read a whole book is not appealing to me, but I can think of better possible uses.  It’d be fine for short stories or to read a few chapters to see if they interested you enough to get the book.  Check it out.


The Metamorphosis & Other Stories by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis - Franz KafkaThe Metamorposis. Finished 4-25-08, rating 2.5/5, fiction short stories, B&N edition 1996

Kafka’s Metamorphosis is a bizarre tale full of dark humor that sometimes had us laughing out loud.  Gregor is turned into an insect and forced to live out his days at the mercy of his horrified family. Jason was hoping for a little more closure I think.  I remember reading it in college and not liking it then and nothing this time changed my opinion.  Jason and I read this and a few of the others out loud to each other and were ambivalent.

There were a few stories in this collection that I enjoyed.  I enjoyed The Stoker, which I understand is the first chapter of his book Amerika.  A sixteen year old, Karl, made his way to Ellis Island and somehow managed to befriend a ship stoker who had grievances with authority.  Karl tried to aid him, but only managed to find himself the beneficiary of some very good luck.  I can see this as the beginning of an interesting novel.

We both enjoyed A Hunger Artist and I thought In the Penal Colony was very good.  These two stories had different things to say about death which I found thought provoking.  Josephine the Singer, or The Mouse People was enjoyable if a bit too long.  Before the Law was also interesting.

The rest of them I would have been happy to have not read at all.  The Judgement neither of us liked, although it was the one that led to the most discussion after.  The Country Doctor, An Old Leaf, and A Message From the Emperor were a waste of my time.

Authors on Books

If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.  ~Toni Morrison

A house without books is like a room without windows.  ~Heinrich Mann

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.  ~W. Somerset Maugham

Famous First Lines

I’ve posted the answers to Who Am I if you want to check them out.

Here’s how to play…Identify the first lines of these famous novels by telling me what book it’s from.  Leave a comment with the # of the first line and the title of the book and I’ll cross it off the list.  No Googling, that’s cheating and no fun!  If you know them all, please don’t guess every one, maybe five max?

1. It was a pleasure to burn. Jason, Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury

2. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Janet, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

3. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. The Bell Jar by Plath

4. I am an invisible man. Jason, Invisible Man by Ellison

5. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. Carol, Pride & Prejudice by Austen

6. What can you say about a 25 year old girl who died? Love Story by Segal

7. Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Mark, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis

8. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. Mark, The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger

9. As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. Mark, The Metamorphosis by Kafka

10. You better not never tell nobody but God. The Color Purple by Walker

Hold Tight, by Harlan Coben

Cover ImageFinished 4-19-08, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2008

“In the end we’re just their caretakers, Mike.  We get them for a little while and then they live their lives.  I just want him to stay alive and healthy until we let him go.  The rest will be up to him.”  Hold Tight, Chapter 2

I mentioned in an earlier post that Jason and I went to a book signing by Coben in Houston a few years ago.  He was charming and smart and just goofy enough to make him interesting.  I was already a fan, but it was nice to know that I liked the guy whose career I was supporting.  I’ve read all of his books and have liked them all, some more than others.  I generally prefer his novels written in the first person because so few authors really do it well.  This wasn’t in first person, but it was fun and I finished it in one day so that must mean I liked it!

This is a book about parents – the love, the fears, and the lengths they’ll go to to protect their kids.  The Bayes fear that they are losing their teenage son, Adam, so they install a spyware program on his computer to keep tabs on him.  The decision was a hard one for them and one that plays out to reveal the real dilemma parents face today.  The Bayes are not the only parents with problems.  Their next-door neighbors need to find a kidney donor for their son.  Their daughter’s best friend was ridiculed by a teacher, school has become unbearable, and her father wants to move to protect her.  The Hills have just lost a son to suicide and the father needs to move on while the mother needs to know why.  The police chief has a stoner son and is willing to lie and intimidate to protect him. 

Amazingly all of these stories come together in a fast-paced thriller that will leave you hoping for the best until the end.  This is a terrific book, especially if you have a teen in the house.  It wasn’t just about the technology, but also many of the pressures kids face today like drugs and bullying.  Coben manages to hit on current issues while keeping the story compelling and the action swift. 

This is just the lastest installment in Coben’s bestselling library.  Enjoy!

Angels Fall, by Nora Roberts

Cover ImageFinished audio 4-17-08, rating3.5/5, fiction, pub. 2006

Reece is a woman haunted by her violent past in Boston who ends up in Wyoming trying to recover.  She finds a small close-knit town that looks at gossip as a badge of honor.  They watch out for their own.   Reece takes a job at the local diner and begins to heal.

As Reece tries to normalize her life she is shaken when she witnesses a cold-hearted murder.  She finds a new friend in Brody, who believes her, but some distrust among others when no body was found.  Having been in a psychiatric hospital not long before Reece begins to think that she may be going crazy.  Brody’s belief in her gives her hope for her sanity, but she is feeling  more and more fragile as the town watches her seemingly fall apart.

I enjoyed this novel even though I thought I knew the killer right away and I was right.  It had a great story about a woman putting her life back together, with romance, surprising friendships, and a murder mystery.  I rarely read Nora Roberts, but I’d recommend this one.

Chain Letter 2: The Ancient Evil, by Christopher Pike

Cover ImageFinished 4-13-08, rating 2/5, YA, pub. 1992

This may seem like an odd book to review, but I read it on the airplane so here goes.

This book picks up a few months after Chain Letter ends.  Neil is dead and everyone believes that he was the Caretaker-the evil behind the letters they had all received.  The book begins as Fran receives a letter telling her she must drown her new puppy or she will be killed.  She ignores the letter and is beheaded.  Allison and Tony lose faith in each other and one falls prey to an evil force.

I remember reading the first book, Chain Letter when I was in eighth grade and loving it.  Christopher Pike was always a reading staple of mine, but this was not enjoyable.  The main themes of this were satanic worship and evil coming to life, which are not topics I find fun.