Treasure Hunter

Jameson, W.C. Treasure Hunter: a Memoir of Caches, Curses, and Confrontations. 2nd Ed. London: Taylor Trade Publication, 2014.

Reason read: LibraryThing and the Early Review program.

Author fact: Jameson has written over 25 books on buried treasure and over 15 books on other subjects such as poetry, food and biographies.

Book trivia: Treasure Hunter has minimal photographs; mostly of Jameson as a young (and very handsome) treasure hunter.

First, the good news.Jameson is a great storyteller. His flair for detail makes every gold or silver ingot expedition come alive. You are right there with him and his crew in the desert, crawling through caves, avoiding snakes and spiders and, of course, the law. Right away, three things about Jameson are apparent. He values privacy due to his semi-outlaw status, he is proud of his semi-outlaw status and he wishes his treasure hunting days weren’t drawing to a close. He wants to go back for the gold or silver he left behind. Which brings me to the bad news. Every expedition may start off differently: different state (mostly in the southwest) or different country (Mexico), but they all end the same way – the bulk of the treasure (sometimes all of it) is left behind for one reason or another. It’s as if Jameson is daring us to get out there and look for it ourselves. Every chapter ends with “the treasure is still there, waiting” or something like that.

As an aside, I wasn’t surprised to see Jameson has authored a few cookbooks as well. The way he describes food in Treasure Hunter lets you know he savors his meals.
UPDATE: Did you see the news?! Famed treasure hunter Tommy Thompson was arrested this week. He’s been on the run for years. Could 61 year old Thompson be Jameson’s “missing” partner? The news certainly got my wheels spinning!


Lady Franklin’s Revenge

McGoogan, Ken. Lady Franklin’s Revenge: a True Story of Ambition, Obsession and the Remaking of Arctic History. London: Bantam Books, 2006.

Lady Jane Franklin is right up there with Freya Stark and Isabella Bird when it comes to fearless lady travelers – except Stark and Bird were barely born before Franklin started her travels. She truly exemplified a pioneer in female expedition. Although Nancy Pearl doesn’t include Franklin in her chapter on the subject in Book Lust, Franklin was the first to venture to far off places such as Russia, Africa and the wilds of Australia at a time when Victorian women were expected to stay at home, be dutiful wives and raise docile families. Jane Griffin was different. From a very young age she couldn’t be bothered with such domestic pursuits. She wanted an education, an adventure, and to be an outspoken voice. Even after marrying John Franklin and becoming an instant mother to his four year old daughter, Jane Franklin felt no parental responsibility for Eleanor and continued to travel on her “own” (servants and escorts not counted). It was only after her husband, now Sir John Franklin, disappeared in the Arctic that another obsession besides travel of Lady Franklin’s was realized- to bring her husband home. She spared no expense (even her stepdaughter’s inheritance) and pulled out all the stops to convince high-powered officials that her husband’s expedition was worth searching for. At a time when America and Great Britain were not on the best of terms, Lady Franklin worked deals with both countries to send rescue expeditions into unknown waters. She worked tirelessly to keep the missing ships in the minds of everyone on both sides of the pond. Even after the mystery of Frankin’s disappearance had been solved, Lady Franklin insisted his name should carry on as the discoverer of the Northwest Passage.

Can I just say I wish I could have known Lady Franklin? For some reason I find her incredibly cool. While I don’t admire her selfish behavior and prejudice ways, I value the strength in her independence, her tenacity and resolve.

Quoting my favorite lines, “She cloaked her need in the language of love, thus deluding even herself” (p 53), and “In her twenties, the studious Jane Griffin not only read prodigiously, but began keeping a special notebook, updated annually, in which she listed books and articles she perused” (p 63). I, too, keep a journal of such lists. Only my journal is updated monthly and I don’t include articles. Just books.

Reason read: Jane Griffin Franklin was born in December. Reading Lady Franklin’s Revenge in her honor.

Author fact: Ken McGoogan also wrote a biography of Samuel Hearn, another adventurer fascinated with Arctic exploration.

Book trivia: One of the great things about McGoogan’s Lady Franklin is the variety of photographs included. Something as simple as a photograph of a replica of the dress Jane would have worn as a young woman was appreciated. It added texture to the text, if you will.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “To the Ends of the Earth: North and South” (p 232).


Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Diaz, Junot. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Diaz. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007.

From the very first pages of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (which I will from now on refer to as “Wondrous” because the title is too long), you are sucked in. The narrator goes on and on about “fuku” curse and the superstition of it all. It’s amusing and chilling all at once. All the while, you are hoping fuku doesn’t set its sights on you. But if it does, you also hope to have a little zafa (counterspell) hanging around.

When we first meet Oscar, he is seven years old and the year is 1974. He is the “GhettoNerd at the End of the World” trying to have two girlfriends at once. The story switches gears for chapter two (1982 – 1985). Oscar’s sister, Lola takes over the story in first person. She is a feisty runaway girl with typical teenage angst. From there, the narratives keep changing. Each voice tells a new story (just wait until you get to the story of Lola and Oscar’s mother, Belicia from 1955 to 1962). Through the generations, all the while the fuku is circling this doomed family. The writing of Wondrous is rich and enveloping. You cannot help but get completely drawn into the lives of every character.

Favorite lines (and there are a few), “The talkback blew the fuck up” (p 6), “You don’t know the hold our mothers have on us, even the ones that are never around. You don’t know what it’s like to grow up with a mother who never said a positive thing in her life, not about her children, not about the world, who has always been suspicious, always tearing you down and splitting your dreams straight down the seams” (p 55-56), and “Even at the end she refused to show me anything close to love” (p 208).

Reason read: New Jersey became a state on December 18, 1787.

Author fact: Junot also wrote Drown which is also on my list.

Book trivia: Pearl recommended listening to the audio of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao so I did both. I listened to the audio to and from work and read 10-15 pages on my lunch break. Also, Wondrous won a Pulitzer.

Audio trivia: The audio is read by Jonathan Davis and an unknown female…unless Davis does an extraordinary job sounding like a woman?

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Cavorting Through the Caribbean” (p 54).


Maus: a Survivor’s Tale

Spiegelman, Art: Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale. My Father Bleeds History. New York: Pantheon Books, 1973.

Maus I is such a curious conundrum. On the one hand, you are mostly looking at pictures. The very idea of a “comic book” is something out of childhood and inherently considered “light reading.” Definitely not something to be taken seriously. On the other hand, you have Spiegelman’s story itself: a son interviewing his father to get the perspective of a Polish Jew who survived the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. Fear, starvation, distrust, torture, suicide, execution, genocide. All pretty heavy subject matter and without a doubt, difficult to read in any context. Even in his characterization Spiegelman plays with our perceptions. He uses enemies in the natural world to drive home the story; using cats for the Germans and mice for the Jews; pigs for the police.
Here’s the underlying truth, the war never leaves Spiegelman’s father. Even though he survived the war, survived the concentration camps, survived to tell his tale, he lives in the shadow of memory. He worries constantly about money; is distrustful of his own family’s intentions (trying to steal from him). Betrayals of the past run deep and dictate how he trusts others.

Reason read: Pearl Harbor anniversary is Dec 7th (Remembrance Day). Confessional: I started this in November in honor of Veterans’ Day.

Stop and think line, “He survived me my life that time” (p 80). Even though we would normally say, “he saved my life” I think this phrasing, saying the word “survived” carries more weight.

Author fact: Check out the author info in Maus I. There is a lot going on in the illustration.

Book trivia: My favorite part was the comic within the graphic novel. The styles were so vastly different. The importance of the comic was clearly illustrated.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “Graphic Novels” (p 103).


Cradle of Gold

Heaney, Christopher. Cradle of Gold: the Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010.

In 2008 Peru sued Yale University for the return of artifacts and human remains taken by Hiram Bingham. They claimed he stole over 46,000 articles. Yale claimed they had only a little over 5,000. Was that an admission of guilt? Heaney was fascinated with the case and decided to dig up the truth for himself. Here’s the thing, he knows how to grab the reader’s attention with the opening description of Indiana Jones. I like the idea of Hiram Bingham being the devil-may-care Indiana Jones of his time. It lends an air of intrigue to the story. He had the looks and the devil-may-care attitude!

Here are some things about Hiram Bingham: Hiram is an old family name. Our Hiram was the third. He sired a fourth. Hiram was also very prejudice. He thought he had “competition” when exploring the ancient Inca ruins until he realized the ones who went before him weren’t European white so they didn’t count. He was also a master thief. He was able to smuggle out additional crates of human remains and artifacts with the help of Peruvians he was able to bribe. His smuggling cracked open an age-old question, just who do these treasures belong to? The ancestors of the land or are the finders the keepers, as they saying goes?

Heaney’s story is rich with history and lore. The ghosts of past conquests walk among Bingham’s Machu Picchu ruins and beg to be remembered.

Quotes I liked, “Christianity no longer had a monopoly on the truth” (p 14), “Yet a pith helmet, compass, and a slap-leather spirit did not an explorer make” (p 29),
Reason read: Hiram Bingham was born in the month of November – read in his honor.

Author fact: Heaney has his own website.

Book trivia: While Cradle of Gold has some photographs, they aren’t very exciting. There aren’t that many of Hiram, despite the fact he was a good looking man.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Peru(sing) Peru)” (p 177).


Walk in the Woods

Bryson, Bill. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. New York: Broadway Books, 1998.

Bill Bryson is one of those “collectible” authors. Meaning, I know I can read anything he has written and enjoy it on some level. A Walk in the Woods was no different. One day in 1996 while walking near his Hanover, New Hampshire home Bryson gets it into his head to hike the Appalachian Trail, starting in Georgia and working his way, 2,100 miles later, to Maine. He brings along an old buddy, Stephen Katz, someone he hasn’t seen in years. They make an interesting pair and their relationship is one of the best parts of the book, but there is a little of everything in A Walk in the Woods. Over the course of 870 miles, Bryson has the opportunity to tackle the serious with a touch of silliness. Case in point, the bears. Bryson jokes about becoming a snack for the hungry mammals but at the same time paints a pretty scary picture of what those beasts can do. While a great deal of the book is written in a humorous tone (can you just picture the “waddlesome sloth” he mentions on page 4?), Bryson also has a sobering commentary on the history of the trail, man’s devastating logging and hunting practices, and the sociological quirks of the regions he visits. His visit to Centralia, Pennsylvania is both haunting and disturbing. From the blundering beginnings of trying to buy the correct equipment (and use it properly) to the soberly fact the Appalachian Trail is over 2,000 miles long and they will never finish it, Bryson and Katz experience the best and worst of an iconic trail. Even though they end up skipping the AT from Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, the pair learn more about America (and themselves) than they bargained for. A Walk in the Woods made me want to find my own little piece of the trail and hike it, just to say I did.

Reason read: Bill Bryson was born in December. Read A Walk in the Woods in his honor.

Author fact: Bryson had moved his family to the other side of the pond. This hike was a “coming home” of sorts.

Book trivia: Supposedly, A Walk in the Woods is being made into a movie.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Bill Bryson: Too Good To Miss” (p 37). I have 13 different Bryson books to read. The one I am looking forward to reading the most is Palace Under the Alps.


In a Strange City

Lippman, Laura. In a Strange City. Read by Barbara Rosenblat. New York: Recorded Books, 2009.

Here’s what is nice about In a Strange City: if you have skipped other books in the Tess Monaghan series, you can get caught up pretty quickly without repetitiveness in this book. When I last left Miss Monaghan in Butchers Hill, her best friend was in Japan, she was kind of seeing Crow, her aunt was jumping from man to man searching for the right relationship and Tess was in business with someone else. Now, Whitney is back from Tokyo, Crow and Tess practically live together (Tess is out of her Aunt’s place and in a real house now), her aunt is now dating Tyner and Tess has her own private investigation business (and she still has her greyhound. Yay!). Because Lippman is so smooth at bringing the reader up to speed, I feel like I just stepped out of the room for a minute. My only question – there was no mention of Tess rowing or working out at all. Did the fitness buff drop all that completely?

As a private detective, Tess Monaghan is back and this time she has taken on a case quite by accident. A man claiming to have been scammed in an antiques deal wants Tess to take his case. Although Tess refuses, Crow convinces her to check out the man’s claims. Through this interaction, Tess ends up witnessing a murder, finding out the would-be client doesn’t exist, and then she starts receiving strange gifts and messages at work and then at home. Somehow, she knows, the all of this is connected. She knows someone wants her on the case. She couldn’t stay out of it if she tried. Out of sheer curiosity she starts working the case…without a real client to speak of. It all hinges on the mysteriously “Poe Toaster”, a unknown man who symbolically has a drink with the ghost of famed author, Edgar Allan Poe, every January 19th.

Confession: I really liked the prologue, from the killer’s point of view. The descriptive writing was magical.

Reason read: to continue the series started with Baltimore Blues in September to honor Baltimore’s Book Festival.

Author fact: I am surprised Lippman hasn’t been voted Baltimore’s best voice. She crams more facts about Charm City into her books than anyone else I have ever read.

Reader fact: Narrator Barbara Rosenblat was deemed the “golden voice of the 20th century” by AudioFile magazine.

Book trivia: In a Strange City made the New York Times “most notable” list.

Audio trivia: So, I was checking out the info on the audio case and was very surprised to read, “In a Strange City is Lippman’s second Monaghan mystery.” My first thought was, “Oh crap! I’m reading this series out of order…again!” Leave it to me to blame myself first and foremost. I went to Lippman’s site and clicked on the Tess Monaghan tab and read In a Strange City is actually number six on the list. Number two is Charm City, which I skipped, thanks to Pearl. I’m going to trust the author is correct and say, with confidence, I am reading the Monaghan series in order. Lippman, of all people, should know the order of her series. Right?

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Baltimore” (p). Simple and to the point.


Any Four Women…

Cornelisen, Ann. Any Four Women Could Rob the Bank of Italy. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983.

Everyone knows men can rob the banks of anywhere. It’s a no-brainer that men have the smarts and brawn to pull it off. But, what about four women? What about the Bank of Italy? This is the story of what happens when four, plus two, bored, ex-patriot women get thinking about a sexist comment. Really, there are six women involved: Hermione, Martha, Eleanor Kendall, Lacey, Caroline Maffei, and Kate Pound. Of course, they succeed in robbing the Bank of Italy, but now there is another problem. What good is successfully robbing a bank when the crime is blamed on men? How do they get credit for it as women without giving themselves away?

Quotes I liked, “Neither was fit company for a normal person” (p 32)”In her irritation she muttered to Lacey that any four women could rob the Bank of Italy, take everything in the vaults, and the police would still go around looking for four men” (p 34), and “Certain processes in life were irreversible, including robbery” (p 109).

Pet peeve – lots of random typos.

Reason read: Cornelisen’s birth month is in November.

Author fact: Cornelisen was born in Cleveland, Ohio.

Book trivia: Cornelisen also wrote Torregreca: Life, Death and Miracles in a Southern Italian Village, which is also on my list.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Ciao, Italia!” (p 47).


Running for Women

Goucher, Kara. Running for Women: from first steps to marathons.New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Reason read: running. Duh.

Kara Goucher is an Olympic distance runner. I decided to read her book partly because I was looking for a new perspective on an old theme, running for women. All in all, I found Goucher’s Running for Women to be informative, if not a little disorganized. I realize Goucher probably wanted the information approachable and therefor used a very deliberate tone, but I felt like it wasn’t serious enough or thought out enough. For example, in the section on running a marathon there is a little box titled “The World’s Simplest Marathon Training Plan (15 weeks)” (p 248), with the admonishment, “Before reading the plan, please review chapter 7 to learn…where you need to be fitness-wise…” (among other things). I went back to chapter 7 because I didn’t really remember that information. In searching the chapter I found Goucher’s personal marathon story, tips for organization before a race, advice on sex and food the night before a race, what to wear the day of a race (including extra deodorant), how to wear your hair and get your head space together…all sorts of interesting things, but nowhere did I easily find the information I was asked to review before reading the plan. Short of rereading the chapter I still don’t know where I need to be fitness-wise before running a marathon.
I mentioned disorganization. Let me elaborate. All of Goucher’s advice, quips, comments, answers to questions and personal stories are great, but they are all over the place. On page 106 she mentioned getting away from running every once in awhile. On page 110 she says the same thing, more or less, when she says, be okay with regular breaks from running.
Did I get anything out of reading Running for Women? Yes. I liked the nutrition section a lot. I appreciated her honesty when talking about her own relationship with food. I even enjoyed her advice for new moms even though I didn’t need the information.


Andorra

Cameron, Peter. Andorra. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997.

Andorra is like a fine wine. You can get through a whole bunch of it without realizing how much you have consumed. From the very beginning readers don’t know a lot about the narrator of Andorra. Little by little, page by page, we learn he is Alexander Fox, an American from San Fransisco, trying to escape a past tragedy. In his former life he was married, a father, and owner a bookstore. He has come to Andorra to figuratively and literally start over. He has arrived, thanks in part, to a novel by Rose Macaulay which takes place in Andorra but isn’t like the Andorra he has arrive in at all. By chapter four we finally learn his name and discover he is distrustful of Mrs. Dent (although Mr. Fox doesn’t know why). Soon after meeting Sophonsobia Doyle Quay and her daughter Jean, Mr. Fox’s life begins to change. Slowly, as if a snail from a shell, Mr. Fox reveals he has trouble with relationships, especially women. The Dents have a secret, but he has a larger one.

As an aside, Peter Cameron must have an interest in architecture. Words like porte cochere, loggia, pichet and dhurries are thrown around casually. Later in the story it is revealed that Alex was an architect. Ah ha!

Quotes I liked, “Because we never know if we will get where we are going, it is always a relief to arrive there” (p 7), “It was the joy that comes from feeling you are where you should be” (p 47),

Reason read: November is Imagination Month. I called it “Finding Neverland Month” – whatever that means.

Author fact: Cameron also wrote City of Your Final Destination, which is also on my list to read.

Book trivia: Andorra is short, only 219 pages long, but it packs a punch. I could see this turning into a movie.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Travel to Imaginary Places” (p 236).


All the King’s Men

Warren, Robert Penn. All the King’s Men. Orlando: Harvest Book, 1946.

I have to admit, parts of All the King’s Men were difficult to read. Flashbacks within flashbacks sometimes had me a little lost. There was a lot of jumping between 1922, 1936 and 1939, all seemingly on a whim. Willie Stark is backwoods man trying to move past increasing corruption on his way up the political ladder. His story, loosely based on Louisiana governor, Huey Long, is told from the point of view of his aide, Jack Burden. Being a former journalist, Jack knows his way around incriminating information and he knows how to use it. Most of the story is about Jack struggling with the different relationships in his life. Morality plays a huge part in his development as a character. One of the biggest take-aways of the book is Warren’s descriptive language. I have never been to the deep south but I felt as if I had experienced Louisiana first hand.

Quotes I caught, “How life is strange and changeful, and the crystal is in the steel at the point of fracture, and the toad bears a jewel in its forehead, and the meaning of moments passes like the breeze that scarcely ruffles the leaf of the willow (p 27). What? Here’s another, “If the human race didn’t remember anything it would be perfectly happy” (p 60).

Reason read: everyone knows the U.S. holds its elections in November. Read in honor of Tuesday, November 4th as Election Day.

Author fact: Warren won three Pulitzer Prizes, the National Book Award, a National Medal for Literature and the Presidential Medal for Freedom. If that wasn’t enough, he was also the nation’s first poet laureate.

Book trivia: All the King’s Men was made into a movie starring Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins, among others. More importantly, AtKM is on the American Library Association’s list of top banned and/or challenged books of the 20th century.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Politics of Fiction” (p 189) and again in Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Texas Two-Step (After a Bob Wills Song)” (p 225).


Slumdog Millionaire

Swarup, Vikras. Slumdog Millionaire. Read by Christopher Simpson. Kingston, RI: BBC Audiobooks America, 2009.

Right away I knew I was going to like everything about Q&A (aka Slumdog Millionaire). I like the actor (Christopher Simpson) who reads the story. His accents are great. But, more importantly, I love the way Swarup captures 18 year old Ram Mohammed Thomas’s voice. There is something about the way you are drawn into his story immediately. Ram is a poor, uneducated orphan from the slums of Mumbai. How he ends up on a television game show is anyone’s guess, but just how he wins the billion rupee prize is unfathomable. How can someone like him, someone who never reads, nor has ever been to school, answer all twelve difficult questions correctly? The story begins with that question. Unable to pay Thomas his winnings the show’s producers search to uncover cheating, a scam, anything to get out of coming up with a billion rupees. The rest of the novel is unraveling the mystery. Each chapter is an answer to how Ram could use his life experiences to his advantage, answer the questions correctly and ultimately, win the show.

As an aside, I wish that I had read more reviews that didn’t make comparisons or even mention the movie version. In my opinion, the book is always going to be different from the movie. And really, how can you objectively read the book after seeing the movie? And another thing – if I were Swarup, I would be pissed if I went to sites like Good Reads and found six entries, all for the movie version, before my own written work. The site is called Good READS. If Swarup hadn’t written the book there wouldn’t have been a movie, a screenplay or a soundtrack! The mistake is retitling the book.

Reason read: the movie was released in November. How’s that for ironic?

Author fact: Slumdog Millionaire Q&A was Swarup’s first novel.

Book trivia: Slumdog Millionaire was made into a movie starring Dev Patel, but more importantly, it was originally published as Q & A.

Reason read: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Sojourns in South Asia: India” (p 214). I really wish Pearl had indexed the original title.


Butchers Hill

Lippman, Laura. Butchers Hill. New York: Avon, 1998.

Tess Monaghan is back. This time she has her own “business” as a private investigator. It’s a bit hokey, but the business actually belongs to someone else and she does the “detecting” for a cut. Since it is a brand new venture for her, she is thrilled when she gets two cases on the same day – cases she considers “slam dunks”, especially since she has other people helping her with the leg work. Client #1 is Luther Beale of Butcher Hill. Six years earlier he went to prison for killing a kid vandalizing cars in his neighborhood. Now, newly released from prison Beale wants to make amends with the children who witnessed the death of their friend, even though he has always claimed self defense. Beale needs Tess to not only find these kids, but identify them first since they were anonymous minors at the time. Her second client is a woman with several different aliases. Although shrouded in mystery, Tess can tell she is a well-to-do black woman. This woman claims she looking for the daughter she put up for adoption thirteen years before. Of course, both cases turn out to be more complicated than they first appeared. The end of the story delivers a curve ball that somehow doesn’t smack of shock that it should. Instead, the surprise misses the mark and fails to make an impact.

Letdown: I was surprised Tess didn’t know what a “mule” was. Reason read: to continue the series started with Baltimore Blues…but not really. See BookLust Twist below for what I mean. I could also say that I am reading Butchers Hill because November is National Adoption Month.

Author fact: Lippman won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original for Butchers Hill.

Book trivia: Butcher’s Hill is third in the Tess Monaghan series. I skipped book #2, Charm City.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Ms. Mystery” (p 171). Funny thing is, Pearl doesn’t mention specific titles except #3 and #8. The first book in the series, Baltimore Blues is mentioned in Book Lust To Go in the chapter “Baltimore.”

As an aside, what would have been really cool is instead of listing the same book in several different chapters (like To Kill a Mockingbird) list out all the books within a series. Less repetition, more information.

Another note: I had been calling this book Butcher’s Hill as opposed to Butchers Hill. Big difference.

 


Great Hunt

Jordan, Robert. The Great Hunt. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1990.

Full disclosure – I don’t know why I am reading any more books from this series. I have a problem with repetition and in the preface Jordan writes the phrase, “the man who called himself Bors” no less than 23 times. I get it. He wants you to know the guy’s name isn’t really Bors. As a result of the preface, I expected nothing less in the rest of the book. There is a lot of repetition between the first and second book to “catch you up” if you didn’t read the first one. However, truth be told, very little changes in the next installment of the Wheel of Time series. Everything is still over-the-top dramatic (“eyes more dead than death” p xiv). Rand al’Thor is still the reluctant hero. Trollocs are still terrible. Egwene is still conflicted and childlike. They still have this weird romance thing lingering. Probably the more interesting thing about them at this point is that they go on different journeys. Still, it wasn’t enough to keep me glued to the page.
And another thing! Can I just say how annoyed I am by the sheer number of groups, nations, societies and the like? Good grief! You have aielmen, arad doman, caemyl, cairhien, children of the light, darkfriends, dai shan, dreadlords, far dareis mai, eyeless, forsaken, fades, gaiden, goaban, hardan, hundred companions, lurks, manetheren, marath’damane, mydraal, halfmen, questioners, shadowmen, sea folk, taraboners, tinkers, tree killers, trollocs, tuatha’an, warders, watchers over the waves, white cloaks, women’s circle, and wisdom. Let’s not forget about the aes sedai who can be red, brown or blue, or the ajah who can be blue, red, white, green, brown, yellow or gray (where’s the purple, orange or pink?).

Can I admit that I think the Wheel of Time “logo” looks a lot like a Mickey Mouse head?

Reason read: to continue the series started with Eye of the World in October.

Book trivia: The Great Hunt is 757 pages long.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror” (p 214).


Picture of Dorian Gray

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Viking, 2000.

Nancy Pearl included this in her chapter “Horror for Sissies” in More Book Lust. But, when I really think about it, it’s more horrible than any slasher film out there. Dorian Gray is a beautiful young man in Victorian England. His beauty and youth have taken him places and afforded him many luxuries. During a sitting with a painter he rashly wishes he could remain young and beautiful all his life. This wish is granted but subsequently his personality sours and his morality rots away. With each passing cruel remark and act, the portrait grows older and uglier while Dorian’s human exterior remains handsome and pure. Soon, Dorian cannot separate himself from the image that he sees on the canvas. The more hideous the portrait, the more violent his actions against humanity. It’s a downward spiral with tragic results.
Wilde has a lot to say about Victorian society norms, but his tongue-in-cheek humor and wit thread through the evil demise of Dorian Gray with delightful frequency.

Strung-together words I liked, “Music was not articulate” (p 30) and “Philanthropic people lose all sense of humanity” (p 49). Funny! Here are two more lines I liked, “He was late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time” (p 60), and “There was an exquisite poison in the air” (p 63).

Reason read: Halloween. Duh. Also, Basil (the artist who paints Dorian) wants to include Dorian’s portrait in a show scheduled for October. By this time Dorian’s canvas image has begun to deteriorate so Dorian is loathe to show it to anyone.

Author fact: Oscar Wilde had such a tragic end to his story.

Book trivia: If you can, find The Whole Story version of The Picture of Dorian Gray because it is really unique. First of all, it’s the complete, unabridged text as it was originally published so you aren’t missing out on Wilde’s artistic endeavor but the annotated extras make the story really come alive.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Horror for Sissies” (p 119).