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).