Thursday, December 27, 2012

Favorite First Lines & Covers

I was looking back over my reading spreadsheet for this year and I started to fall behind on keeping track of what I read this year. So, I'm not exactly sure of final totals, but it is somewhere in the vicinity of 95ish books total, a little low which I expected because of all the change this year. I am committing to keeping better track in 2013 and hopefully reading a bit more. But, from what I did accurately track I can tell you that I read at least 77 different authors; at least 54 of the authors were new to me; and at least 13 were debut novels. My audiobook total was the area that took the hardest hit. I listened to about 23 audiobooks. Past years it's been closer to 50 percent of my total. I'm also going to work on getting that back up in 2013 by dedicating at least an hour for walking each day, and I'll listen to audio then.

How about you all? Any areas of your reading that you'd like to work on in 2013? Anything from 2012 that you're especially proud of? A new author you tried? A different genre? Or even sub-genre of crime fiction? Did you discover you loved (or hated) something that surprised you? Share with us in the comments!

This is my week of favorites lists for this year. I'm going to include a new one today and that's my favorite covers and first lines. I have to admit that I am not a connoisseur of covers. I don't buy books because of the covers or reject books because of the covers (at least to date--if a cover really offended me I'd probably not buy it). So take my five choices with a grain of salt. Now on the other hand, first lines are something that I definitely pay attention to; that's why I include them on my reviews. And of course these choices are only from the books I read this year--it also doesn't include any 2013 publications I've read this month.

My Top Five Favorite Covers:

5. Boca Daze. I have often commented about walking down the mystery aisle in a bookstore or library. There's a sea of black, with red and white speckled in. The books that stand out to me are the ones that are NOT black. And the cover of Boca Daze just screams fun without looking preposterous. Since I had an early copy of this one, my cover was just boring black and white. The final cover is a masterpiece.

4. The Prophet. I really have to tip my hat to the Little, Brown folks because this was a bit of a gamble. I know there was some concern about people not wanting to buy the book with the dead bird on the cover. That didn't stop Koryta from hitting the NYT bestseller list with it, though. This is a cover that was tuned into the content of the book and was unique to the book. Nice call on this cover!

3. Whiplash River. I love the pure simplicity of this cover and how well it articulates the constant movement of the book. And again, I think the cover is in tune with the unique elements of the book.

2. Taken. The atmosphere of this cover is what first grabs my attention. I have a large version of this cover hanging on my library wall. It embraces the impending doom that boils in the novel while still showing a ray of hope. And the reflection is equally befitting the content of the novel. This one was well planned out.

1. The Survivor. At first glance this cover may not look like much, but the power behind the itty bitty man on his precipice is breathtaking. If you miss that little man (as I did at first because I was so excited to read a new Gregg Hurwitz book), it changes the cover completely. When I closed this book and really looked at the cover I was blown away. Again, the simplicity of the image was what did it. The enormity of the message in the simple graphic arrangement is stunning. I love this cover. Hands down, my favorite this year.

My Top Five Favorite First Lines:

5. Julia Heaberlin's  PLAYING DEAD:

"Despite its name, Ponder, Texas, pop. 1,101, isn't a very good place to think."

 This opening line is a good chuckle, but it all sets the scene and the atmosphere immediately. I was very excited to read this debut novel after that opening line.

4. Chris Grabenstein's FUN HOUSE:

"He wasn't happy about it, but last night my partner John Ceepak became a TV star."

Chris Grabenstein is a master of first lines. This first line may hold more attraction to readers of the series who already know John Ceepak, but even if you don't have that background, you know quite a tale is close on the heels of this opening sentence.

3. Ace Atkins's THE LOST ONES:

"A couple of roustabouts had been asking about guns at the Tibbehah County Fair, but by the time the word had gotten back to Donnie Varner, they'd long since packed up their Ferris wheel, corn dog stands and shit, and boogied on down the highway."
I love how Atkins's language brings out the setting of the novel. It also seems to add a scent to the air and a color to the page. Even though I know this is going to be a crime novel, I end up with a warm feeling from the way he puts his words together on the page.

2. Gar Anthony Haywood's ASSUME NOTHING:

"His last night in Florida, Joe Reddick remembered the blood in the goldfish bowl."

And the whole book follows suit with that. It's such a startling image to really grab the reader as soon as he/she opens the book!

1. Robert Pobi's BLOODMAN:

"Two hundred feet below the rolling metal surface of the Atlantic, a handful of ghosts skittered along the ocean floor in a jerky seesaw roll, furling and unfurling in a diluvial ballet."

The imagery of this statement is a mix of fun and fear. Bloodman was one of those rare books that taps the paranormal (just slightly) and I still love it and buy into it. It would have been hard to dislike the book after this opening sentence. This is another debut novel, by the way.

I went back and forth with about three other first lines that were great from my reading this year, but I wanted to keep each of these lists today to five, so I determined these five first lines to be my favorite.

Tomorrow I should have my favorite audios of 2012 and Monday will be my overall favorite reads of the year. I hope you'll check back and share your favorites as well! Happy Reading!


Katharine Ott December 27, 2012 at 8:13 AM  

I like the idea of keeping track of the first line of a book - I'll add that to my journal for 2013! Happy New Year from Lakewood!

Chris Grabenstein December 27, 2012 at 4:55 PM  

Whenever I write a first line I think of Jen Forbus reading it! Thanks for the mention. Chris Grabenstein


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