Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-fifth Street

Baring-Gould, William S. Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street: the Life and Times of America’s Largest Detective. New York: Viking Press, 1969.

Reason read: Rex Stout was born in December. Read in his honor.

Right off the bat I need to tell you Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street is better read after you have consumed every Rex Stout mystery starring the portly private detective. I guarantee you will have many more ah-ha moments if you already know the cases. Baring-Gould fills his book with a mountain of facts but they are oddly assembled; a veritable mishmash of all things Nero Wolfe (and Archie Goodwin).  Everything from fashion, and facial tics to food and every case in between is scrutinized. It’s as if Baring-Gould combed the pages of every mystery, never missing a single detail, to build a character profile and biography of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.
Baring-Gould also has some interesting theories. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that Baring-Gould thinks Sherlock Holmes fathered Nero Wolfe. He draws thought-provoking connections between Holmes and Wolfe, including the similar phrases they utter.

Author fact: Baring-Gould’s first claim to fame was his analysis of Sherlock Holmes. He was the editor of the Annotated Sherlock Holmes among other publications.

Book trivia: in addition to the floor plan to Wolfe’s ground floor apartment, Baring-Gould also lays out an impressive chronology of Nero Wolfe’s movements from his birth in 1892 or 1893 to The Father Hunt case in August – September of 1967.

Nancy said: Nancy recommends reading Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street… if “the Nero Wolfe bug bites you” (p 226).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe: Too Good to Miss” (p 226).


The Beach

Garland, Alex. The Beach. New York: Riverhead Books, 1997.

Reason read: Thailand’s Constitution Day is observed on December 10th.

The quick and dirty plot: Richard is a young and adventurous English traveler hellbent on moving around the fringes of the world with a brazen attitude. He boasts of exploring where others fear to tread. However, on his first night in Bangkok Richard’s whole world changes after he thinks he has seen everything. His meeting with Daffy, also known as Mr. Duck, is a fateful turning point for all involved. Daffy, a Scottish traveler, ends up committing suicide but not before he leaves Richard a map of a beach he called paradise. Intrigued and unable to ignore the siren call of adventure, Richard recruits a French couple to join him and find this hidden oasis. Compared to Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Garland takes us to the beach where a group of other tourists have created a commune, complete with an off-center leader and other misfits.

Author fact: this is Garland’s first novel.

No quotes to mention.

Book trivia: The Beach was made into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000.

Nancy said: nothing except to say The Beach takes place in Thailand.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Thai Tales” (p 226).


Between the Assassinations

Adiga, Aravind. Between the Assassinations. New York: Free Press, 2008.

Reason read: in celebration of the Vivah Panchami festival (usually takes place in November or December).

Between the Assassinations is a series of connected short stories that take place over the course of one week in Kittur, India. The stories focus mainly on the poor of Kittur, their perceptions of the caste system and how they survive their lot in life. Some face it with hatred and revenge, as  does Shankara in “Day Two (Afternoon): St. Alfonso’s Boys’  High School and Junior College” (49). Some recognize family and the act of sticking together as being the only option like Keshava and Vittal in the beginning of “Day Two (Evening: Market and Maidan” (p 107). Others are constantly scheming like George in “Day Five (Evening): The Cathedral of Our Lady of Valencia” ( p 243). Every character has a deep personality and even deeper desires. Be forewarned,  most of the stories are desperate and all leave a chill in the air.

Quotes I liked, “A man might be stabbed in daylight, but never at night, and never while sipping tea” (p 31) and “His caste seemed to be common knowledge to people who had no business knowing it” (p 63).

Author fact: Adiga also wrote The White Tiger which is on my Challenge list.

Book trivia: At the end of Between the Assassinations there is a chronology of events occuring in Kittur between October 31st,  1984 and May 21st, 1991. It begins and end with assassinations, hence the title of the book.

Nancy said: nothing in particular except to say it is Indian fiction to be included in the India chapter (p 214).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Sojourns in South Asia: India” (p 212).


Wanting

Flanagan, Richard. Wanting. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008.

Reason read: the Tasmania Food Fest occurs in December.

Set in 1839, real-life Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin has arrived for a governor’s position for the penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land. There, he and his wife, Lady Jane, fall in love with a spunky live-wire of a native Aboriginal child they call Mathinna. To the Franklins, Methinna is a grand experiment: to see if they can “civilize” the girl through Christianity. Viewed as a savage without reason, they want to tame her into their kind of submission. Leapfrogging ahead in time, Sir John Franklin and his crew have disappeared in the Arctic. Tales of cannibalism embarrass Lady Jane enough for her to approach Charles Dickens to tell a different story.
Through both timelines the emotion of wanting is explored. Sir John Franklin wanted to tame Mathinna. Later, he wanted to tame the Northwest Passage. Lady Jane wanted Methinna as the child she could not have herself and later, when her husband disappeared, she wanted to clear his name of the rumored savagery. How ironic. Dickens, in competition with other writers of the day like Thackeray, reveled in Franklin’s story and wanted a recognition he has never had before.

Author fact: Flanagan also wrote Gould’s Book of Fish, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, The Unknown Terrorist, and Death of a River Guide among others. These four listed are on my list.

Book trivia: Wanting is a short novel, only 252 pages long.

Nancy said: the angle of Lady Jane Franklin employing Charles Dickens to tell her husband’s tale was “deftly explored” in Richard Flanagan’s Wanting (p 232).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “To the Ends of the Earth: North and South (the Arctic)” (p 230).


God Lives in St. Petersburg

Bissell, Tom. God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories. New York: Pantheon Books, 2005.

Reason read: In recognition of the Decembrist uprising on December 26th, 1825.

God Lives in St. Petersburg is comprised of six short stories:

  • Death Defier – Two journalists are stuck in war torn Afghanistan and taken captive. Favorite line, “He disliked such emotional nudism” (p 21).
  • Aral – A biologist falls prey to a former KGB officer with a grudge. Best lines, “Hunger stumbled, heavy-footed, inside her stomach” (p 64).
  • Expensive Trips Nowhere – A hiker’s marriage is challenged when his wife develops a bond with their Kazakhstan guide. Best sarcastic line, “Jayne had stabilized into a teeth-clenched toleration of Douglas’s parents, Park-and-Seventieth gentry who never understood why their son had settled for “some mousy midwestern girl” (p 96).
  • The Ambassador’s Son – Alec is a spoiled ambassador’s son with a penchant for finding trouble. Favorite line, “Finally we had arrived at the shores of his unfaithfulness” (p 145).
  • God Lives in St. Petersburg – a teacher finds himself in a terrible situation with a student.
  • Animals in Our Lives – while walking around a zoo, a married couple watch their marriage disintegrate.

Bissell thrives on the theme of entrapment. Every story centers around a character’s inability to get away from an unpleasant situation. Whether it be ugly people, bad drugs or heartbreak.

Author fact: Bissell also wrote Chasing the Sea which is also on my Challenge list. I’ll be reading that in May 2047…if I am lucky.

Book trivia: Be prepared. There is a twinge of sadness to every story.

Nancy said: Nancy admitted Bissell hasn’t written a peace corps memoir but she thinks his experiences “certainly informed several of his other books” (p 176).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go from the chapter called “Peace Corps Memories” (p 175). There is nothing specifically about the Peace Corp or remembering it in the book though.


Doomsday Book

Willis, Connie. Doomsday Book. New York: Bantam Books, 1992.
Willis, Connie. Doomsday Book. Read by Jenny Sterlin.

Reason read: Connie Willis was born in the month of December. Read in her honor. Confessional: this book is nearly 600 pages long so I decided to start it early.

I don’t know why I get so nervous about reading science fiction. I really shouldn’t when it comes to Connie Willis. I have enjoyed everything I had read from her so far and Doomsday Book is no different. In a word Doomsday Book is brilliant. Young and ambitious student historian Kivrin has been eagerly preparing to leave her 21st century world for that of fourteenth century Oxford. Wearing a costume proper for women of the era? Check. Middle English language lessons completed? Check. Customs training for her alibi for a woman traveling alone? Check. Proper inoculations for illnesses of the day? Check. Or it is check with a question mark? Her instructors back in 2054 had made painstaking calculation to ensure she would arrive decades before the Black Death, but is it possible she slipped twenty eight years passed the targeted date? Did she arrive at ground zero at the exact wrong time? Strangely enough, the 21st century is suffering an epidemic of its own. Modern day Oxford is quarantined and fear bordering on panic runs rampant.
This is a story of parallel tragedies and the human nature that transcends all time…despite being “sci-fi.”

Author fact: at the time of publication Willis lived in Greeley, Colorado. Such a beautiful place!

Book trivia: Doomsday Book won both the Hugo and Nebula award for science fiction.

Nancy said: in Book Lust, “many people believe Doomsday Book Willis’s most accomplished novel (p 246). In More Book Lust, nothing other than to list it as a time travel book.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Connie Willis: Too Good To Miss” (p 246). Also from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Time Travel” (p 221).


Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha

Gilman, Dorothy. Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1985.

Reason read: to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents’ Day.

When we left Mrs. Pollifax after her African safari she and Cyrus Reed had just started a new romance. Now ten months later they are newlyweds living in a house they bought together. He’s off in upstate Vermont somewhere on a bird-counting expedition and Emily is overseeing renovations on their house when who should stop by for a visit, but old friend (and CIA man), Bishop. Of course, he needs Mrs. Pollifax for a delicate assignment and, but of course, there is no time to waste. If she agrees to take the case she doesn’t even have time to contact the hubby or pack properly (although she does remember to grab a snazzy hat). In an era when you could leave strangers in your house, Emily pops off a note to Cyrus and leaves the handymen to work unsupervised. Mrs. Pollifax’s new mission is a trip to Hong Kong to find missing agent Sheng Ti (a character from a previous story I didn’t read). Here’s the thing about Mrs. Pollifax – she will talk to just about anyone so the characters she meets run the gamut. She blithely shares information with double agents, gangsters and psychics alike. You could call this an adventure with just the right amount of silliness boiled in. There is death and violence and the threat of terrorism but take, for examples, the agents’s “secret” language, “…should be arriving you-know-where in fifteen minutes…” (p 128). I’m surprised the statement wasn’t followed by a wink-wink.
Mrs. Pollifax gets herself in a pickle but now she has a secret weapon to help save the day, her lovable husband, Cyrus!
Author fact: According to the back flap of Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha, Dorothy Gilman lived in New Mexico and Nova Scotia. That sounds like the best of both worlds.

Book trivia: My copy of Mrs. Pollifax was peppered with highlighting. It was if someone had been using it as a vocabulary primer for words like shrubbery and ensconced were marked.

Nancy said: Nancy called Emily Pollifax a “dithery elderly woman with a penchant for unusual hats” (p 98). I would agree with that.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the simple and to the point chapter, “Hong Kong” (p 97).


Iron & Silk

Salzman, Mark. Iron & Silk. New York: Vintage Departures, 1990.

Reason read: Mark Salzman was born in December. Read in his honor.

Funny. You would not expect a memoir about a cello playing martial arts master in China for the purpose of teaching English to medical students a funny book and yet it is. It is very funny and eye opening. Salzman’s adventures are, truth be told, a string of essays laced with tongue-in-cheek wit and culture. You cannot help but laugh out loud at some of his exploits as he tries to make his way through Chinese bureaucracy and customs. Take for example, his attempt to receive a package containing medication for athlete’s foot. It’s so maddening you almost think he’s making the whole thing up. But then you remember, in South Central China, there is a regulation for everything real or otherwise.

Author fact: Salzman wrote The Soloist which I have already read. There are three other Salzman books on my list which I cannot wait to read.

As an aside, look Salzman up on YouTube. You won’t be disappointed. His interview in a phone booth is great.

Book trivia: I wish Salzman had included photographs…or is that asking too much considering it was made into a movie in 1990 starring Mark Salzman as himself?

Nancy said: In both chapters Iron & Silk is mentioned Pearl just describes the book.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in two chapters. First in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: 900s” (p 77) and again in the chapter called “Mark Salzman: Too Good To Miss” (p 194). As an aside, the first chapter shouldn’t include Iron & Silk. Nancy was mentioning Salzman was a companion of Stuart Stevens when Stevens traveled to China.


Fay

Brown, Larry. Fay. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2000.

Reason reading: December is Southern Literature Month. Fay takes place in Mississippi.

You can’t help but fall in love with Fay…in the beginning. Despite being abused by animals and humans alike beautiful seventeen year old Fay Jones holds out hope she can be friends with either of them. Preferably both at some point in her young life. But for now she is eager to find Biloxi after running away from a potentially dangerous and definitely drunk father. With only the clothes on her back and two dollars hidden in her bra, she is uneducated and generous; thoughtful in a complicated and naive way. She’ll trust anyone who can steer her in the right direction. You’ll find yourself holding your breath as she hitches a ride with three drunk boys back to their trailer deep in the woods. You again become breathless when a cop picks her up and takes her home. Fay’s ignorance makes people want to help her and hurt her all at the same time. I must admit, over time Fay’s willingness (eagerness?) to fall in with some really bad people grew wearisome. She’s either intensely shallow or so stupid she can’t help herself. She doesn’t recognize when someone is taking advantage of her. When she goes from being a blushing virgin to an easy lay in one week’s time I felt myself losing interest in her fate and willing the character I did care about to stay away from her.
Because Brown will make you care about some people. Even Fay.

My biggest pet peeve? Brown is almost too coy, too cute and dare I say, cheesy? about creating reader suspense at times. His first mention of Alesandra elicited an eye roll from me. One inappropriate remark that spoke volumes in a sea of other details and then nothing for pages and pages. It’s the proverbial gun on a table. Sooner or later it has to go off.

The only line I liked, “Then he was standing there with his neatly pressed gray trousers, a blue stripe down each leg, a gun on his hip and a crisp shirt, his nameplate and his shiny brass and all the authority she feared” (p 34).

Author fact: Brown also wrote Joe and Dirty Work. I’m reading both. Here is the crazy thing. For the first time I have started tracking the approximate time certain books will come up on the schedule. According to the master calendar I will be reading Joe in December of 2037 and Dirty Work in October of 2040.

Book trivia: This should be a movie. It has everything. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Strippers, prostitutes and drug dealers. Explosions and violence. And don’t forget beautiful scenery of the Mississippi gulf coast.

Nancy said: Nancy said “any list of grit-lit practitioners worth its whiskey would also include Larry Brown” (p 106). She also said Fay drifts through life “serenely” and “almost untouched” by the violence around her. I don’t know if I would agree. Fay’s traumas haunt her constantly. I would see her more as resilient; trying to push on despite the abuses. She has a steely determination to survive.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the very appropriate chapter called “Grit Lit” (p 106).


Ballet Shoes

Streatfield, Noel. Ballet Shoes. New York: Bullseye Books, 1937.

Reason read: Streatfeild was born in the month of December. Read in her honor.

The children in Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes reminded me of the very ambitious Melendy family in the Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright. Each child in both families has a special talent and  the adults are super supportive of each and every endeavor. But, Streafeild has a twist to her story. The Fossil sisters in Ballet Shoes aren’t sisters at all and they pursue their talents in order to avoid going into debt. Pauline, Petrova and Posy are all orphaned children adopted by kindhearted yet often absent fossil collector Great-Uncle Matthew (GUM, as he is affectionately known). While Gum is off on another expedition Pauline finds the theater, Posy is a natural at ballet and Petrova prefers aviation and motor cars to the stage but she does what she can. The “sisters” may be very different from one another but they share one important truth, their self-decided last name of Fossil. They create a vow to honor the name and renew that vow every year on each girl’s birthday. It’s a very cute story.

Author fact: Streatfeild wrote a bunch of books for children. I have four books on my list. It should be noted, however, Fearless Treasure has been difficult to borrow from a library so it’s on my “trouble” list.

Book trivia: The edition of Ballet Shoes I read was illustrated by Diane Goode. A second piece of trivia: Ballet Shoes is mentioned in the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie, You’ve Got Mail. Meg plays the owner of a small bookstore for children and Tom is the evil big box bookseller destined to put her out of business. There is a memorable scene where Meg visits Tom’s store and helps a woman chose Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes.

Nancy said: Streatfeild is known for her “shoe” books (p 84).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Fantasy For Young And Old” (p 83). Obviously, Ballet Shoes doesn’t belong in this chapter.


I Will Bear Witness Vol. 2

Klemperer, Victor. I Will Bear Witness: a Diary of the Nazi Years 1942 – 1945. Translated by Martin Chalmers. New York: Random House, 1995.

Reason read: Victor Klemperer was born on October 9th. This is the second volume of his journal.

In the first installment of I Will Bear Witness Klemperer spent a great deal of time worrying about his health and borrowing money from one of his siblings. He stressed constantly about being in debt and dying of a heart attack. He didn’t know which was worse. In the second installment, as the Gestapo power grows crueler and crueler, Klemperer’s worries shift from paying the bills to getting enough food to eat and being “arrested” or called to the concentration camps. He is helpless with despair as he hears of dogcatching soldiers who are actually hunting Jews. Terror reins when friends are arrested and then shot “trying to escape”, and worse. Those unwilling to meet an unpredictable fate take matters into their own hands by committing suicide. In the face of all this uncertainty, little by little Klemperer and his wife lose simple creature comforts. When they move into their third and smallest apartment Victor is shocked by the lack of privacy; the promiscuity of everyone living so close to one another. Then the bombs fall. This is probably the most revealing of Klemperer’s diaries. How he and his wife escape is nothing short of miraculous. I held my breath through every page.

As an aside, I wish Klemperer would have shared his thoughts on I,Claudius by Robert Graves. It’s on my Challenge list.

Author fact: Using the confusion following the Allied bombing of Dresden, Klemperer and his wife escaped.

Quotes to mention (and there were a few since Klemperer was so profound). First, early on: “The feeling that it is my duty to write, that it is my life’s task, my calling” (p 12). Then later,  “Religion or trust in God is a dirty business” (p 110), “But the inheritor of today is the evacuee or murder victim of tomorrow” (p 167), and “” ().

Book trivia: I Will Bear Witness is also known as To the Bitter End and is actually the second volume in a three-volume set. I am not reading the third installment, The Lesser Evil (1945 – 1959). In fact, it was never mentioned in Book Lust at all.

Nancy said: Nancy said Klemperer was “one of the best observers whose records we have of those terrible, and ordinary, years inside Germany” (p 131).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Journals and Letters: We Are All Voyeurs at Heart” (p 130). Note: There is a typo in the index for both volumes of I Will Bear Witness. Both are indexed as I Will Beat Witness.


Henry James: the Master

Edel, Leon. Henry James: the Master (1901 – 1916), Vol. 5 Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1972.

Reason read: to continue (and finish) the series started in April in honor of the birth month of Henry James. Yes, this should have been finished in August. We won’t dwell on how long it took me to finish this series!

So, let’s recap. We started Volume One of the Henry James biography examining his childhood. Subsequent volumes traced his move to Europe and followed his social life as a freewheeling bachelor. By Volume Four James was settling down with the purchase of Lamb House in Rye, England. Throughout every volume we were able to chart James’s progress as a writer, a poet and even playwright but in Volume Five he is dubbed “the master” by his peers. By Volume Five we see James slowing down, becoming more domestic and worrying about his Lamb House gardens. Imagine! He has never had gardens of his own before. Even though James might be slowing down, the emphasis is still on his ambition. He wanted to be influential. He wanted to be remembered and admired. He took great pride to cultivate his craft.

Confessional: all the while I kept asking myself how James could call himself a true American when he was away from his homeland so much of the time and especially after he put down solid roots in London and Rye, England. It just goes to show you how complicated citizenship can be.

Author fact: It took Edel nearly 21 years to write the James biography. Talk about a labor of love!

Book trivia: like the other four volumes of Henry James Volume Five has interesting photographs.

Nancy said: nothing at all.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Literary Lives (the Americans)” (p 144).


Beaufort

Leshem, Ron. Beaufort. Translated by Evan Fallenberg.  New York: Delacorte Press, 2008.

Reason read: Lebanon gained independence on November 22nd, 1943.

In a word, Beaufort is gritty. The military outpost Beaufort is a living nightmare for Israeli soldier Liraz, (better known as Erez), but yet he must defend it to the death. Twenty-one year old Erez commands the defense with thirteen boy-soldiers with insane courage, sharp wit and fierce loyalty. All around this crumbling and ancient fortress unseen enemies hide just waiting for the right moment to strike. And strike, they do. Erez is witness to death, up close and personal. In order to cope he and his men play a macabre game called “What He Can’t Do Anymore” where, when a soldier loses his life in battle, the survivors list all the things their fallen comrade will never do again. It’s a crude way of acknowledging his death as reality. By the end of Beaufort you will swear Leshem simply interviewed the real Erez and wrote it all down, word for word. Erez, crude and passionate, walks out of the pages in a blaze of glory and his words burn in the brain long after the last page is turned. I can why they made this into a movie.

Confessional: I have never done this before. Somehow I threw away all my notes for Beaufort. Which means I don’t have any favorite quotes to share, which is a shame because I know I had a few.

Author fact: to look at Leshem’s picture, you would never know at the time of Beaufort’s publication he was a deputy director in charge of programming for a television station. He looks like he should be in high school.

Book trivia: Beaufort is Leshem’s first novel.

Nancy said: nothing besides explaining the plot.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the no-brainer chapter called “Leavened in Lebanon” (p 130).


Edge of the Crazies

Harrison, Jamie. The Edge of the Crazies. New York: Hyperion, 1995.

Reason read: November is the month Montana became a state.

As an aside, I love it when a book introduces me to new music. “If Love was a Train” by Michelle Shocked is an example.

Be prepared to meet a lot of people. Jamie Harrison likes to introduce her readers to a bunch of people (kind of reminded me of Batya Gur). Jules Clement (sheriff) of Blue Deer is the main character but you’ll meet his family (sister and father). You’ll even meet an old girlfriend and her family. Don’t forget current girlfriends and arch enemies. Then there’s attempted murder victim George Blackwater and his entire entourage of family and friends (brother, wife, son, housekeeper, assistant – past and present. Don’t forget his love life, too). The introductions continue with a bunch of reporters, police officers, lawyers, doctors, coroners, personal assistants, paramedics, even the principal, a librarian, a caterer, and a banker.
But, back to the plot. Someone has tried to kill George. He has plenty of enemies but it’s up to Jules Clement to figure out who hates him the most. Is it his wife? His girlfriend? His brother? His agent? But, there is a bigger mystery at play. Who hates Jules Clement even more?

Confessional: I had a hard time pinning down in what decade Edge of the Crazies was supposed to happen. Even though it was published in 1995 the story seems to take place much earlier. An hourly wage was $4.50, you could buy a truck for $700 and a house for $30,000 and yet a couch was $1,000 “back in the eighties.” Harrison quotes a Lucinda Williams tune from 1992….
Another observation: I was surprised Jules wasn’t used to seeing his father’s name in print, especially since he is sheriff of the same town as his father. As sheriff of Blue Deer in 1972, wouldn’t Jules’s father’s signature be on a lot of things at the station?

Lines worth mentioning, “they both mulled over the educational properties of cheap fiction in silence” (p 104),

Author fact: Harrison definitely puts a little of herself in a few of her characters. In her former life she was a caterer and script reader. In Edge of the Crazies there is a caterer and script writer.

Book trivia: There was a section of timeline that didn’t sit well with me at all. Around pages 279-281 Jules goes to the Baird Hotel for lunch. The meal lasts two hours. When he returns to the station Grace fills him in on what happened while he was at lunch. After the conversation he “grabbed his coat and eyed the clock. It was 11, and he had plenty of time” (p 281). 11 in the morning? That would make lunch sometime between 8:30 and 8:45am depending on how long it took him to have his conversation with Grace. Further muddying the waters is that when Jules goes back to the hotel he sees the waitress who served him “an hour earlier.” Obviously, Harrison meant to say Jules had breakfast that lasted two hours. Although I still found it odd that the meal took two hours but he was only served his meal an hour earlier. Does that mean he sat around for an hour before the waitress served him?

Nancy said: Nancy called Edge of the Crazies a “good police procedural” (p 121).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust twice. First, in the easy chapter called “I Love a Mystery” (p 117) and again the chapter called “Montana: In Big Sky Country” (p 156).


Ysabel

Kay, Guy Gavriel. Ysabel. New York: ROC, 2007.

Reason read: Kay was born in November. Read in his honor.

This was a quick read once I settled into the fantasy aspect of it. I have to admit, the historical side was a little easier to cozy up to at first. The premise is an interesting one. Ned Marriner is traveling with his father in Aix-en-Provence, France on a photography assignment. Edward Marriner has made a name for himself as a professional photographer specializing in coffee table books of unusual landscapes and architecture. Ned’s mom is a doctor with Medicine Sans Frontiers and a source of angst for her family as she insists on being sent to treat people in warring regions like Dafur and Bosnia. While in Provence Ned befriends sarcastic and bold Kate and together they uncover an ancient mystery that borders on the supernatural. It seems like a great fantasy until Edward’s super assistant Melanie goes missing, sucked into that fantasy world.

As an aside, there are a lot of commercial references: iPod, Nike, Starbucks, Doc Martens, Coke…to name a few.

Quotes: sorry, there were none that stood out to me.

Author fact: Kay is a well known fantasy writer. I am reading six additional books for the Challenge (the Fionavar Tapestry series and a few others).

Book trivia: Cool factor – Ned likes music. Led Zep, U2, Pearl Jam, Alanis Morissette, Eminem…and it’s Coldplay who help get through one of his most difficult challenges.

Nancy said: Nancy said not to miss Ysabel. There was “enough history and adventure to satisfy even non-fantasy fans” (p 187). I would agree.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Provence and the South of France” (p 186).