Titles Finished (Totals To Date):
- Books: 1,145
- Poetry: 75
- Short stories: 51
Total for 2017: 124 titles (including poetry, short stories, Early Review and fun books).
Titles Finished Totals for 2018:
- Books: 28
- Poetry: 0
- short stories: 0
All titles left to go for Challenge: 4,437
Next count: 4/2/2018
Saylor, Stephen. Roman Blood. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.
Reason read: Saylor’s birth month is in March. Read in his honor.
It’s Rome in the year 80 B.C., and Gordianus the Finder has been summoned to the house of Cicero. Only twenty six years old, Cicero needs help defending a client in court. A wealthy farmer has been accused of patricide, the most heinous crime of Roman times. Cicero needs evidence to support his case and Gordianus is just the man to find it. Only, this is ancient Rome where slaves and masters practice deceit and betrayal on a daily basis. Who is telling the truth and who is behind the lies? As Gordianus’s investigation takes him closer and closer to dictator Sulla himself he knows he is in trouble. How far will he go to help Cicero uncover the truth? And is that truth worth uncovering?
As an aside, I want to know if Rome still has streets as described on page 23, “It was a street never touched by sun, never dried by its heat, or never purified by its light – filled with steam at high summer, coated with ice in winter, eternally damp.” I don’t know why, but that sounds magical.
Quotes to quote, “Romans love the strong man who can laugh at himself, and despise the weak man who cannot” (p 249), and “Some people are not at their best when roused from bed in the middle of the night” (p 268).
Author fact: taken from the book jacket, “Saylor’s fascination with ancient Rome began at the age of eight when he saw a censored print of Cleopatra at a drive-in theater theater…”
Book trivia: Roman Blood is Saylor’s first novel.
Nancy said: Nancy said Saylor writes “superior historical mysteries” (p 60).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Classical World” (p 60). Pearl includes other Saylor mysteries: Venus Throw, Last Seen in Massilia and A Twist at the End but she doesn’t indicate Roman Blood and the next two are part of a mystery series. If she had, I am pretty sure she would have listed them in order as Roman Blood should be read before Venus Throw and A Twist at the End is not part of the Sub Rosa series.
Giffels, David. All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House. New York: William Morrow, 2008.
Reason read: All the Way Home takes place in Akron, Ohio. Ohio became a state in March.
Who buys a house they describe with adjectives and nouns such as these: rusty, dusty, decay, debris, ruin, smelly, stained, treacherous, flaking, rotted, grime, filthy, cluttered, damaged, wreckage, decomposed, dark, cracked, dingy, chilly, ugly, broken, dirty, scratched, soot, dangerous, rotten, warped, collapsed, cramped, broken, discolored, disintegrated, discolored, poisonous, fermenting, or crusted? You half expect to find, buried deep in the debris, a mummified body a la Bates Motel. In fact, when Giffels first tours the house there is a woman, perched amid the disaster. But, buy the house he does.
Giffels, a self described handyman, needs projects. When he buys the 1913 mansion on North Portage Path (Akron, Ohio) there is every indication he has bit off more than he can chew. That only becomes apparent to himself when he attempts to remove paint from every single door hinge in the house. The master bedroom alone has seventeen doors with at least two hinges…you do the math. And that’s just hinges. Never mind the structural damage like a leaking room that requires 55 roasting pans to catch the downpour whenever it rains, or the jungle of wisteria growing in through the cracks. Then there are the uninvited guests: mice, squirrels, raccoons, termites, carpenter ants, gawkers…it’s a wonder Gina didn’t divorce him.
One of a thousand quotes of humor, “more than anything else, I do not want to die a cartoon character’s death” (p 5).
Quote of foreshadowing, “And I honestly couldn’t decide which I wanted more; to get the house, or to get the house out of my system” (p 73). Indeed, there are numerous times he hoped to get out of buying the house. Starting with his sister-in-law’s neighbor, Earl. Hoping seventy-plus-year-old realtor Earl would advise him it’s a lost cause after seeing it; praying the inspector would say it’s his professional opinion the house is hopeless; and wishing the owners will refuse his insultingly low ball offer. Giffels is seeking any and all opportunities to wriggle out of the fantasy; to escape the choke hold of unreasonable and borderline fanatical desire. None of “outs” happen for Giffels and All the Way Home is born.
Author fact: Giffels used to write for MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head so you know he has to be funny. And. And! And, I think it goes without saying he must like music since he worked for MTV. Indeed, he quotes Tom Waits right off the bat. Other musicians mentioned:
- Lou Reed
- Henry Rollins
- Paul Westerberg
- Rage Against the Machine
- Judas Priest
- Henry Mancini
- P.J. Harvey
- Dave Brubeck
- Guided By Voices
- Suzanne Vega
- Liz Phair
- Duane Allman
- Janis Joplin
- Sonic Youth
- No Doubt
- Gewn Stefani
- Henry Rollins
- Circle Jerks
- Rod Stewart
- Guns ‘n Roses
- Cyndi Lauper
- Joe Strummer
- The Clash
- Andy Summers
- Pete Townsend
- Jimi Hendrix
- Kurt Cobain
- Chrissy Hynde
- Yngwie Malmsteen
- Mark Sandman
- They Might Be Giants
The list was so eclectic I thought about making a mixed tape (because that’s how old I am coming from an era when mixed tapes were a thing). I would call it “All the Way Home.” Here is my (short) fantasy track listing:
- “You’re Innocent” (when You Dream)” – Tom Waits
- “Unsatisfied” – Paul Westerberg
- “So. Central Rain” – R.E.M.
- “Moon River” – Oranji Symphony
- “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper
- “Money (that’s What I Want) – Beatles
- “I’m Just a Girl” – No Doubt
- “Cats in the Cradle” – Cat Stevens
- “Swing it Low” – Morphine
Book trivia: Aside from a smattering of photographs in the beginning All the Way Home is mostly devoid of pictures. Bummer.
Nancy said: “This is more than a do-it-yourself memoir; rather it’s a paean to his hometown” (p 168).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called simply “Ohioana” (p 168).
Graves, Anthony. Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement and 12 Years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul. Boston: Beacon Press, 2018.
Reason read: this came as an Early Review for LibraryThing.
I think the title sums up Anthony’s story. I am not spoiling the plot by saying he was wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit after his “accomplice” blatantly lied on the witness stand. The title sums up the story, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. What the title cannot convey is Graves’s spirit; his faith; his resilience to survive mentally and spiritually. Solitary confinement could have broken him. The mere fact he was on death row could have filled him with enough despair to shatter his hope in humanity. There were times Graves was angry. There were times he was afraid. But, he never lost the will to prove his innocence. Even after his freedom was restored, Graves did not stop fighting. See Author Fact below.
I need to talk about perception for a minute. There is a reality show called Cold Justice that “stars” Kelly Siegler. Have you seen it? When I first started watching the show I was disappointed more cold cases were not solved. Then I began to wonder if Ms. Siegler felt the pressure to close cases, not only for the sake of the victim and family, but because America was watching and judging… just as I was when I experienced disappointment. Did she get to the point she wanted to solve cold cases “by any means necessary” which in my mind meant find a suspect first and then build a wall of evidence around his or her guilt? This first question prompted another; when you find a viable suspect, do you spend all your energy and efforts trying to make the charges stick and never mind looking for other possible suspects?
As an aside – do yourself a favor and listen to “I’m Not the Man” by 10,000 Maniacs. I know lead singer Natalie Merchant is sometimes hard to hear, but pay attention to what she says at 0:38 seconds in, “He knows the night like his hand. He knows every move he made.” Just like Graves. Actually the whole song could be Grave’s story – an innocent man on death row. It’s haunting.
Author fact: Graves is the cofounder of Join Hands for Justice.
Book trivia: This was too short! Less than 200 pages I know Graves had more to say and I would have listened.
Roberts, Nora. Entranced: Donovan Legacy Book Two. New York: Silhouette, 2004.
Reason read: to continue the series started in honor of Valentine’s Day.
Mary Ellen “Mel” Sutherland is a no nonsense private investigator who is more comfortable in jeans and a tee shirt than high heels and a slinky dress. She runs three miles a day and prefers to be alone. Her tomboy ways don’t allow her to enjoy pink toenails or frilly outfits or even the searing looks from admiring men.
Sebastian Donovan just happens to be one of those admiring men. He is a wealthy psychic hired to help Mel find a missing child. Mel is less than thrilled to need the help of a kook she doesn’t believe in, but she has no choice. The missing child is her friend’s infant son, David. As you might have guessed, Sebastian is one of the Donovans, related to Morgana (from book one of the Donvan Legacy) as cousins. He is also a witch and, did I mention devastatingly handsome? Of course Mel cannot help but be drawn to him. It’s cliche, but she is annoyed with him until she isn’t.
Author fact: Nora Roberts has five different pseudonyms.
Book trivia: Morgana, Nash and even Luna the cat make an appearance in Entranced. Morgana and Nash are expecting their first child and throughout the entire story I worried their newborn would be stolen as part of the adoption scam.
Nancy said: absolutely nothing.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust not in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here to Stay” (p 207). I am super annoyed with The Donovan Legacy being the title of the book I was supposed to read. Here’s what I want to know: were the Donovan books published together as one book and then sold separately later? Or were the books published one at a time first and then sold as a package? Which came first, because that is what really matters to me. If I had more time I would research this further. My guess is the latter.
The only run I have planned for March is St. Patrick’s Day. No surprise there. Here are the books planned for March:
- The Good Son by Michael Gruber (AB) – in honor of the start of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
- White Man’s Grave by Richard Dooling – In honor of Dooling’s birthplace (Nebraska) becoming a state in March.
- Roman Blood by Stephen Saylor – in honor of Saylor’s birth month in March.
- All the Way Home by David Giffels – in honor of Ohio becoming a state in March.
- Coast of Incense by Freya Stark – to continue the series started in January for Stark’s birth month. This will end the autobiography.
- Entranced by Nora Roberts (EB) – to continue the Donovan Legacy started in February in honor of Valentine’s Day.
- Infinite Hope by Anthony Graves
- New and Collected Poems by Czeslaw Milosz – in honor of National Poetry Month.
If there is time:
- Slide Rule: the Autobiography of an Engineer by Nevil Shute – in honor of the birth month of William Oughtred
- Which Witch? by Andre Norton – to remember Norton (who died in the month of March).
- Cards of Identity by Nigel Dennis in honor of Reading Month.
I can only describe February as falling up because health-wise I am up on upswing. I’m still not really running yet (I’ve gone for four under-three-mile runs, but who’s counting?). I’m not really running but I haven’t fallen down either. Hence, falling up.
We had a snow day from work, I took a few days off for my birthday and we took a trip to New Jersey so I was able to get in a fair amount of reading. I spent President’s Day reading, too. Oh, and I almost forgot. I’m barely running so there’s that, too. Needless to say, I’ve been reading a lot. Weirdly enough, for all the reading I’ve done you would think there would be more books. Oh well. Speaking of the books, here they are:
- Dead Room Farce by Simon Brett. Read in three days.
- Captivated by Nora Roberts. Read on my iPad in four days.
- Backup Men by Ross Thomas. Read in five days.
- The Almond Picker by Simonetta Hornby.
- Color of Money by Walter Tevis. Read in five days.
- City of Falling Angels by John Berendt.
- Full Steam Ahead by Rhoda Blumberg.
- Beyond Euphrates by Freya Stark.
- Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline.
Stark, Freya. Beyond Euphrates: autobiography 1928 – 1933. London: John Murray, 1951.
Reason read: Stark was born in January. Reading Beyond Euphrates to continue the series.
When we left Freya at the end of Traveller’s Prelude Freya had just gained her independence as an adult and the travel bug had bitten hard. She takes her first journey in 1928 to Damascus. As a woman, traveling without an escort was unheard of in 1928. To make matters worse, because Freya could speak several different languages, she was believed to be a Russian spy when she reached Baghdad. The more Freya travels, the more her independent spirit grows. She scoffs at using escorts and chaperones. At one point she fears being tied to a job because it might keep her rooted in one place and yet she needed to earn a living in order to keep traveling. It was at this point that she started writing articles and her first book, Baghdad Sketches was published. Stark ends Beyond Euphrates in hopes of traveling to Yemen next. Amusingly enough, in her last letter to her mother she rejoices to find a good face cream.
Quotes to quote. An example of bravery: “I don’t mind the chance at being shot at, but did not want to be held up by police and kept all night in one of their solitary little towers for safety…” (p 270). An example of humor: “Darling B, I am busy with prostitutes” (p 267).
Author fact: Stark had a sense of humor. Case in point: “Captain Holt told me I had better go home from North Persia by way of Moscow (where he is to be): and I had to remind him that I am a Bolshevic spy” (p 127).
Book trivia: Beyond Euphrates also has great photographs. Not as many of Freya, though. Second book trivia – I am reading a first edition of Beyond Euphrates.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Lady Travellers” (p 142).