Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

In 2022

First Lines

    1. Alex hurried across the wide, alien place of Beinecke Plaza, boots thudding over flat squares of clean concrete.
    2. She came to him toward morning.
    3. Shortly after eleven o’clock on a bright November morning, a handsome middle-aged man dashed up to the front door of the brothel at 172 Customhouse Street in the French Quarter and let himself in with a key.
    4. When we think of rivalries and feuds, we often think of warring families or groups of people caught up in a pointless, destructive, and bitter hostility.
    5. You there, peasant, approach your queen.
    6. Hell was not what I expected.
    7. Alizeh stitched in the kitchen by the light of star and fire, sitting, as she often did, curled up inside the hearth.
    8. My name is unimportant.
    9. Tonight, I will do the impossible.
    10. Zoe met X on a Sunday in February, when there was a storm on its way from Canada and the sky was so dark it looked like someone was closing a giant coffin lid over Montana.
    11. The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.
    12. On the eve of the Sun Rites, Khara dha Ellimi awoke alone in the jet-black dark.
    13. She would come at daybreak — the woman whose letter I held in my hands, the woman whose name I did not yet know.
    14. It was the most torturous of deliveries.
    15. Larken pressed the heels of her hands into the cool dough, her body slipping into the dance of bread making.
    16. There was an army of vampires encamped on the outskirts of my father’s kingdom.
    17. This is how I kill someone.
    18. Rain drums its fingers on the garden shed.
    19. The day Libby Rhodes met Nicolás Ferrer de Varona was coincidentally also the day she discovered that ‘incensed,’ a word she had previously had no use for, was now the only conceivable way to describe the sensation of being near him.
    20. I never know what to expect when I open my door to new clients.
    21. I flipped through the CT scan images, the diagnosis obvious: the lungs were matted with innumerable tumors, the spine deformed, a full lobe of the liver obliterated.
    22. The Greer mansion sat high on a hill, overlooking the town and the ocean.
    23. Jillian Ramsey, PhD, was driving a panel van without air conditioning through an area known as the Devil’s Armpit.
    24. The old washtub was plotting against him, intentionally trying to mess up his day.
    25. Sometimes, being an ancient supernatural creature meant making strange choices to pay your rent.
    26. Taesia Lastrider had never considered herself a good person, nor did she have any intention of becoming one.
    27. Sonja Fong didn’t need magical powers.
    28. Charlotte McBee was accustomed to the incredulous looks she got while driving her over-sized airstream trailer down the highway.
    29. If there was one thing Cordelia Canton understood, it was hair-soaking, ass-cheeks-sticking-to-the-upholstery heat and humidity.
    30. If it isn’t already obvious, we would much rather spend our days out in the forest than shopping for ingredients.
    31. Sometimes a girl just needed to stretch her legs.
    32. I watched him die, twice.
    33. I slam the shot glass down on the table.
    34. Alex Lancaster was a man accustomed to being in control.
    35. The building was haunted, Vi thought as she ran across the huge expanse of green lawn to the Inn.
    36. First you remove your shoes, as you would upon entering a Japanese home.
    37. ‘Well gosh darnit, wouldn’t you just.’
    38. It might take a little while to get there, but I’ll tell you everything, and I’ll tell you the truth.
    39. The train was late the day I ran away.
    40. When people ask me what I do — taxi drivers, dental hygienists — I tell them I work in an office.
    41. It wasn’t the best weather in the world.
    42. I never envisioned myself as a twenty-nine-year-old children’s birthday party performer, but here I am.
    43. As she woke up in the pod, she remembered three things.
    44. Charlie’s ugly Crocs stuck to the mats on the floor behind the bar, making a sticky, squelching sound.
    45. The smoke from ships and the exhalations of the river left a haze that blurred the world and made the big liner seem even bigger, less the product of human endeavor than an escarpment rising from a plain.
    46. Sometimes, I despise being a princess.
    47. The office of the headmaster of Blackbrook Academy looked like a high-budget, if not particularly imaginative, movie set.
    48. Class was over, but the bell didn’t ring.
    49. Vaughn Green was singing again.
    50. ‘Jamie Gray!’ Rob Sanders popped his head out of his office door and waved at me, grinning.
    51. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they executed the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.
    52. Once upon a time, not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine.
    53. She was watching the giraffes at the watering hole after breakfast, no longer awed by their presence as she’d been even four days ago when she’d first seen a great herd of them eating leaves from a copse of tall umbrella acacia, their heads occasionally bobbing up to stare back, unfazed and not especially alarmed by the humans.
    54. When he was nine, and his mother had her first deadly dance with cancer, he became a thief.
    55. She woke in the dark.
    56. The dead were her business.
    57. My son Johnny is dead.
    58. It takes money to make money, her dad used to say.
    59. Getting married was murder.
    60. Reginald Gatling’s doom found him beneath an oak tree, on the last Sunday of a fast-fading summer.
    61. The trouble began long before June 9, 1976, when I became aware of it, but June 9 is the day I remember.
    62. The alley was dark and stank of piss and vomit.
    63. Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday.
    64. The first time Eliza Gray laid eyes on the baby was at dusk in a slow-moving boxcar on a rain-swept stretch of the line three miles west of Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk, England.
    65. Going to Ford’s Theatre to watch the play is like going to Hooters for food.
    66. Dirk Moeller didn’t know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident.
    67. I’ve been staring out at the night for hours, daring the dawn to keep its distance, but the first hint of purple appears along the crest of the mountain anyway.
    68. I am not as I once was.
    69. ‘Fourteen million and fifteen percent of the gross?’
    70. ‘I am so fucking late,’ I mutter under my breath.
    71. I like a good happily ever after as much as the next girl, but after sitting through forty-eight different iterations of the same one–forty-nine, if you count my (former) best friends’ wedding–I have to say the shine is wearing off a little.
    72. Nate Tucker found out about the apartment as people often learn about the things which change their lives forever — by sheer luck.
    73. I checked under my bed, but the monster was gone.
    74. Ove is fifty-nine.
    75. Bang-der-bang-dera-bang.
    76. Three weddings. Three funerals.
    77. There were stories in sweat.
    78. There were five thousand souls stuffed into the train cars — thick and deep like cattle.
    79. Luka Löwe’s evening started out on a promising note.
    80. We were going too fast.
    81. The prosecutor approaches the witness box.
    82. Are you ready?> whispered a voice.
    83. The voice echoed as if down a long passage, distant and fading, difficult to make out.
    84. ‘God I hate this place.’
    85. ‘He won’t get out of there, I’m telling you,’ the pockmarked man said, shaking his head with conviction.
    86. In the trees, something was moving.
    87. Lin could see President Obama, but President Obama couldn’t see Lin.
    88. We found Henrik Soren at a wine bar in the international terminal, thirty minutes from boarding a hyperjet to Tokyo.
    89. Afterwards, it was the door she would remember.
    90. We don’t have time for this.
    91. I lean forward in my seat and stare at my reflection in the car mirror, assessing my work.
    92. It was a dark and stormy night.
    93. These days, Devon only bought three things from the shops: books, booze, and Sensitive Care skin cream.
    94. The third time a customer grabbed her, Mer considered drowning him.
    95. Trian’s stomach growls.
    96. By the time Professor Richard Lovell found his way through Canton’s narrow alleys to a faded address in his diary, the boy was the only one in the house left alive.
    97. Halfway through his twenty-fifth year, and to his acute relief, Prince Kadou became an uncle.
    98. ‘Mister Valdez, Mister Peng here will pay you ten thousand dollars, in cash, to shoot him in the head right now.’
    99. It’s said that five belladonna berries are all it takes to kill someone.
    100. Spartans are made of metal and fire.
    101. Many gods and goddesses are named in Norse mythology.
    102. We hunt when the world sleeps.
    103. ‘It all started with the rain.’
    104. For the week leading up to his death, Cardenia Wu-Patrick stayed mostly at the bedside of her father, Batrin, who, when he was informed that his condition had reached the limits of medical competence and that palliative care was all that was left to him, decided to die at home, in his favorite bed.
    105. In the beginning was the lie.
    106. Aspera. It comes to me on my knees in the back of one of the mall’s storerooms, its gray concrete walls dappled with early morning light.
    107. ‘Let’s be clear about what’s going on,’ Deran Wu said.
    108. When I was a boy, summer nights in the Wilds always smelled like adventure.
    109. The parties at the Tuñóns’ always ended unquestionably late, and since the hosts enjoyed costume parties in particular, it was not unusual to see Chinas Poblanas with their folkloric skirts and ribbons in their hair arrive in the company of a harlequin or a cowboy.
    110. There is a door deep inside the royal library of Wolf Hall that no one has opened for centuries.
    111. Ever since you were a boy, you’ve dreamt of being Kung Fu Guy.
    112. In the late spring of 1995, just a few weeks after I’d turned twenty-eight, I got a letter from my friend Madison Roberts.
    113. They never tell you it’s the girls that are hardest to kill.
    114. Harper scooches her foot this way, and then scooches her foot back.
    115. As the autumn wind pawed at the boarded windows like a wolf trying to break in, I arranged my medical supplies next to the teacup containing the severed finger.
    116. I’m not looking for any trouble.
    117. I walk out of my life on Thanksgiving Day.
    118. On the day of my sister’s seventeenth birthday, blood rain falls from the sky.
    119. There were tales that only the island knew.
    120. He was an artist.
    121. It came quickly, the pain.
    122. Before she was first bled, when she still had the name her parents gave her, Marion Shaw was a maid at a townhouse in the South of Prane.
    123. I was nine the first time the Physicians came to the house.
    124. Nobody tells Hollywood about the screaming.
    125. I never meant to find the manuscript, but maybe it meant to find me.
    126. Death-Cast might call at midnight, but it won’t be the first time someone tells me I’m going to die.
    127. I can tell someone when they’re going to die.
    128. At 8:38 a.m., the temperature was already hovering in the high eighties, on its way north of one hundred — unusual perhaps for May, but not unheard of.
    129. I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites.
    130. A light breeze wafted through the latticed windows of the royal bedchamber, carrying with it the scent of night-blooming jasmine and drying the sweat on Katyani’s brow.
    131. There were twelve cracks in the pavement outside Artemis’s house.
    132. My strongest memory is not a memory.
    133. The camp around me is shadowy and asleep — vulnerable — just the way I like it.
    134. They say that spring never comes to the forest by Hemlock Falls.
    135. When he was a year out of Brown, my friend Josh O’Connor won a Thai beach vacation in a lottery in a bar.
    136. There’s no way to know the exact second your life changes forever.
    137. Elizabeth Navenby was known for three things: needlework, talking to the dead, and an ill temper at the best of times.
    138. I always stop for lost-pet flyers.
    139. Serilda stopped telling her tale, checking to see if the children had finally fallen asleep.
    140. Though the opioid epidemic would go on to spare no segment of America, nowhere has it settled in and extracted as steep a toll as in the depressed former mill and mining communities of central Appalachia, where the desperate and jobless rip copper wire out of abandoned factories to resell on the black market and jimmy large-screen TVs through a Walmart garden-center fence crack to keep from ‘fiending for dope.’
    141. ‘What do you mean it’s not airing tomorrow?’
    142. After what came to be known as the Battle of the Dark Portal, Breen stayed in the Capital for three weeks.
    143. Ffion Morgan scans the prone figure beside her for signs of life.
    144. I’m not alone out here, Benji thought.”
    145. My father told me once that the only fools who sailed the Narrows were the dead and the dying.
    146. I walked back to the castle, trying to decide where to stop first: my quarters or the mess hall.
    147. Riley sat cross-legged atop the hard black surface of a lab bench, using a document-scanner app on her phone to digitize a stack of research notes before feeding the hard copies into a paper shredder, one page at a time.
    148. “Asya didn’t need the falcon circling overhead to tell her something terrible had happened here.”
    149. “I get ready for work and the post has been up for eight hours.”
    150. “Stevie Bell stopped reading.”
    151. Somewhere around the time she started calling herself ‘Chess,” I realized I might actually hate my best friend.
    152. ‘You’re so pretty it makes me want to go home and punch my wife in the mouth.’