Adams, Harold. The Man Who Was Taller Than God. New York: Walker and Company, 1992.
Reason read: to “finish” the series started with Hatchet Job in November (in honor of South Dakota becoming a state). Yes, I am reading them backwards.
This won’t take you anytime at all to read. Barely 156 pages it is a quick one. You could read it in one sitting, for sure. Anyway, the plot:
It’s the first murder the town of “hopeless” Hope, South Dakota has ever seen. Felton Edwards, a tall, womanizing, good for nothing and better-off-dead man, is found face down in a gravel pit. Some shot to death this tall drink of water and like Hatchet Job there is no shortage of suspects because everyone had a beef with Mr. Edwards. Never mind the fact he hasn’t been in Hope for the last 15 years. Enter Carl Wilcox, our hero. As a retired police officer he has been called back into service by Hope’s mayor, Christian Frykman. Frykman can’t bear the thought of a murder happening in his little town. Wilcox may have an unorthodox way of solving crimes (he makes more dates with single women than finding clues), but he always gets the job done.
Quotes I liked: “A man who talks as much as he does is bound to strike truth now and then” (said by Christian Frykman on page 20) and “It was enough to make my tired ache” (said by Carl Wilcox on page 136).
Book trivia: …Talller Than God is actually book number nine in the series. The title of the books comes from the fact that the dead man was “long enough to be taller than god”. Whatever that means.
Author fact: the inspiration for the Wilcox series is Adams’s own uncle, Sidney Dickey. I wonder if Mr. Dickey smoked like a chimney, had a sarcastic wit and a way with the ladies?
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Great Plains: Dakotas” (p 106).
Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman and the Mountain of Light. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.
Reason read: Some of you might remember, way back in April I started the Flashman series in honor of Fraser’s April birth month. It seems so long ago…
Harry Flashman is back again! It almost seems like he won’t go away. The year is 1845 and this time Flashy is a spy for Her Majesty’s Secret Service! When we last left Flashy he was in Singapore. I have to admit, the start to Flashman and the Mountain of Light was a little slow this time around. It took me two chapters before I really got into it. If you are looking for Fraser’s trademark sex and violence, Flashman and the Mountain of Light does not disappoint. It just takes a little longer to get to. For the historians out there, Fraser covers the Sutlej Crisis and of course, the Mountain of Light or Koh-i-Noor, one of the largest diamonds in the world.
Confessional: this wasn’t my favorite. In fact, I didn’t even finish it.
Favorite line: “Optimism run mad, if you ask me, but then I’ve never been shipwrecked much, and philosophy in the face of tribulation aint my line” (p 105).
Author fact: According to the back flap of Flashman and the Mountain of Light Fraser helped with the screenplay for Lester’s The Three Musketeers. Sounds about right.
Book trivia: This is the ninth book in the Flashman series. I only have two more after this one.
BookLust Twist: Say it with me: from Book Lust in the chapter called “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93). You would think I would have this information memorized by now.
Fletcher, Susan. Eve Green. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004.
Reason read: This is a stretch, but Dylan Thomas was Welsh. Eve Green takes place in Wales. Thomas died in November. See the connection? Didn’t think so.
I think this was my favorite book of everything I read in November. It spoke to me the way Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams did. Taylor Greer and Evangeline Green were a lot alike and I could hear their voices long after their stories were out of my hands.
Evangeline’s story begins In Birmingham where her mother commits suicide and, at seven years old, she is sent to live with her maternal grandparents in Wales. She has never met her father and her friends consist of one outcast boy from school, a 23 year old farm hand, and a reclusive. seemingly mentally ill man who frequents the woods near her grandparent’s farm. Everyone else represents jealousy and danger. When a blond, blue eyed classmate goes missing Eve’s world is turned upside down. It doesn’t help that she didn’t really like Rosie, nor that her reclusive friend is a suspect.
There were lots and lots of lines I liked in Eve Green. I really like Fletcher’s writing. Here are a couple of lines to remember, “But my point had been made: if someone expects trouble, they usually get it, in the end” (p 45) and “As I hovered by the door all I knew was that men weren’t designed for crying” (p 106). Why this last line hit me so hard – It’s true. I can’t stand to see grown men cry because it feels so unnatural, so wrong. Here are a couple more quotes I liked, “But at fifteen my heart was hungrier than ever” (p 177), and “Life’s a stone not yet carved on, an unwritten page” (p 280).
Author fact: Eve Green is Fletcher’s first novel.
Book trivia: some people feel that Fletcher gave a nod to Lee Harper when she included a misunderstood and potentially mentally ill man as a character in Eve Green.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Wales Welcomes You” (p 248).
Doerr, Anthony. Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. New York: Scribner, 2007.
Reason read: Doerr celebrates a birthday in November, or something like that.
Imagine coming home from the hospital after your wife has just given birth to twins and discovering you have won an award that will send you to Rome for a year, an award you didn’t ask for or even know about. So, six months later you pack up aforementioned wife and boys and off to Rome you go. Doerr spends the next year reading Pliny, exploring the ancient city and marveling at life BT (before twins) and AT (after twins). He is observant and witty on all accounts but by his own admission is too busy staring at Italy to write anything constructive. Until Four Seasons is born. If you are to read just one page of Four Seasons in Rome I strongly recommend reading page 141, starting with “What is Rome”.
Quotes I liked, “Sleep is a horizon: the harder you row toward it, the faster it recedes” (p 26) and “Complexities wane, miracles become unremarkable, and if we are not careful, pretty soon we’re gazing out at our lives as if through a burlap sack ” (p 54). There were many more, but I’ll leave it a that.
Author fact: Doerr has received two O. Henry Prizes and this book was as a result of winning an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, affording him a stipend ($1,300/month) and a writing studio in Rome.
Book trivia: there are no photographs in Four Seasons in Rome. I’m disappointed. There are, however, illustrations by Brian Rea at the beginning of each season.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Roman Holiday” (p 189).
Carman, Patrick. The Dark Hills Divide. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2005.
Reason read: November is Fantasy Convention month in some places in the world.
I need to preface this with the obvious: Dark Hills Divide is a book for kids. Okay, so onto the plot. Alexa Daley is twelve years old and is spending a month with her father in the town of Bridewell. Bridewell is no ordinary place as it is surrounded by huge walls that are 42′ high and 3′ thick. What Alexa wants to know is what is beyond, in the world she can not see? All her life she has lived behind those thick walls. All she knows is what her mayoral father tells her: that a mysterious man by the name of Thomas Warvold had the walls built by an army of prison convicts. Legend has it, the walls have kept out an unnamed evil.
And so begins the first book of the Land of Elyon series. As with any good fantasy book there is a menacing villain, talking animals and one brave-as-all-get-out kid. Pervis Kotcher, Bridewell’s head of security and resident bully, will stop at nothing to keep Alexa from seeing what is beyond the walls but like any determined kid, Alexa finds a way out. From there, things get weird and Alexa realizes everyone has secrets and the motto is “trust no one”.
As an aside, I was pleasantly surprised to see the traditional poem “Six Men of Indostan” or “The Blind Men and the Elephant” reimagined by John Godfrey Saxe. I know the John Godfrey Saxe version as interpreted by Natalie Merchant on her “Leave Your Sleep” album.
Author fact: I don’t think it would surprise you to learn Carman has his own website here.
Book trivia: Dark Hills Divide doesn’t have illustrations throughout the text, but there is a beautiful drawing of a wolf on the second page and illustrations of Alexa’s chess moves. Another detail, Dark Hills Divide is the first book in a series called “The Land of Elyon.”
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Fantasy for Young and Old” (p 85).
Adams, Harold. Hatchet Job. New York: Walker and Company, 1996.
Reason read: South Dakota became a state in November.
Hatchet Job is such a short book (barely over 150 pages) that it can be read in one sitting and because it is so short it ends almost before it really begins. Here are a couple of other things you need to know about Hatchet Job: it’s the thirteenth book in the Carl Wilcox series but you do not need to have read the other twelve before enjoying Hatchet. Also, even though Hatchet Job was published in 1996 it takes place at least fifty years earlier. Details like Wilcox driving a Model T, women wearing or not wearing girdles, and lots of references to the Great War helped set the time frame.
Now for the plot: someone has murdered the town cop of Mustard with four chops with an ax or hatchet. The blows are precise and predictable. No one is shocked Lou Dupree is dead and if the town could cheer about such a demise, they would and loudly. Our hero, Carl Wilcox, is called in to solve the mystery and stand in as Mustard’s law enforcement until they can find a replacement. When Carl isn’t asking a million questions he’s trying seduce all the single ladies, but he has an eye for the married ones as well. It’s just a matter of time before Carl solves the case and gets a date. The real question is, which will happen first?
Author fact: in 1996 Harold Adams was the retired director of the Minnesota Charities Review Council.
Book trivia: Hatchet Job is part of the Carl Wilcox series.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Great Plains: the Dakotas” (p 106).
Dunnett, Dorothy. The Disorderly Knights. New York: Vintage Books, 1997.
Reason read: to continue the series started in August in honor of Dorothy Dunnett’s birth month.
The year is now 1551. Francis Crawford of Lymond, the blond-haired, blue eyed rebel of Edinburgh Scotland has a new mission from the King of France: to come to the aid of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John in Malta as they battle the Turks to defend their island. It begins as a confusing battle, and as with all great stories in history, not everyone is who they first appear to be. There is a traitor among them. Who can it be? It’s up to Francis to figure it out and in doing so discovers his worst enemy. On a personal note, in this installment of the Lymond Chronicles I was pleasantly surprised to see a more personal side to the dashing and devastatingly cruel Francis. This time Dunnett didn’t have him constantly drinking to falling down drunk, and while I wasn’t always agreeing with Lymond’s actions, they shed light on the complexities of his personality.
On another note, I was sad to lose key characters.
Quotes I liked, “Hatred shackled by promises to the dead was the vilest of all” (p 218) and “But that’s just immaturity boggling at the sad face of failure” (p 322).
Author fact: According the back cover of Disorderly Knights Dunnett was, to critics at that time, the “world’s greatest living writer of historical fiction.”
Book trivia: this is the third installment of the Lymond series.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Digging Up the Past Through History” (p 79).