Last Seen in Massilia

Saylor, Steven. Last Seen in Massilia. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Reason read: the last book I need to read for the Sub Rosa series. I started the series in March in honor of Saylor’s birth month.

When we catch up to Gordianus the Finder in 49 B.C. he is on a quest to find his missing adopted son, rumored to have been murdered. It’s a tricky situation. Meto was caught betraying Caesar, or so the story goes.
Gordianus has taken Darus, his son-in-law, for companionship to the besieged port city of Massilia. (Massilia is modern day Marseille, by the way.) Once there, he encounters more mystery than he knows what to do with. In the middle of a bloody civil war between Caesar and Pompey a smaller, quieter war is underway. A beautiful woman is missing. Gordianus may or may not have witnessed her death. Was it a suicide? Did she jump or was she pushed. Different eyes see different things. An innocent man is doomed to death; a scapegoat by the priests of Artemis, for the sins of his family. Nothing is as it seems. All the while Gordianus is a guest or prisoner of Massilia, seeking the truth of his son.

Author fact: Saylor has appeared on the History Channel.

Book trivia: this is the eighth book in the Sub Rosa series.

Nancy said: nothing worth mentioning.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Classical World” (p 59).


Jade Island

Lowell, Elizabeth. Jade Island. New York: Avon Books, 1998.

Reason read: to continue the series started in April in honor of Lowell’s birth month.

Jade Island is the second book in the Donovan series but it doesn’t follow Amber Beach’s plot line all that much. When we left the Donovan clan in Amber Beach, Kyle Donovan had been rescued from near death after his amber hungry girlfriend sold him down the river and nearly had him killed. Now, Kyle is chasing jade and an impossibly beautiful Asian-American named Lianne Blakely. Kyle certainly knows how to pick ’em. Lianne is the illegitimate child of Chinese Johnny Tang and all American Anna Blakeley. Lianne wants nothing more than to belong to the Tang clan and is more than happy to appraise and evaluate jade trades for them. But what happens when Tang jade starts to disappear and Lianne is the prime suspect? Kyle must decide between his head and another piece of his anatomy. Is Lianne innocent or is he falling in love with a criminal? What I appreciated with Jade Island was there was none of the coy games played between the two impossibly beautiful protagonists. Lianne enjoyed Kyle’s company and they got along really well despite the sexual tension.

It is not necessary to read Amber Beach to understand Jade Island. Lowell makes references to details from the previous book but the plot is not dependent on it.
Author fact: Lowell writes with her husband. It’s funny I should learn this after reading Jade Island because I had written myself a note that Lowell sometimes writes like a woman (fashion, appearances, emotions) and other times she writes like a man (sexual appetites, violence, lust).

Book trivia: Jade Island is the second book in the Donovan Series. There are two more.

Nancy said: nothing.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here To Stay” (p ).


Into Thin Air

Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. New York: Anchor Books, 1997.

Reason read: the Mount Everest disaster occurred on May 10th 1996.

Jon Krakauer was given an assignment by Outside Magazine to join a climbing expedition ultimately going to the top of Mount Everest. Being an avid mountaineer he thrilled at the chance to join a professional team to reach the highest summit in the world. What he didn’t anticipate was being witness to one of the worst Everest disasters in the mountain’s history.
As Karakuer takes us to higher elevations he not only gives the reader a play by play of the events unfolding at each camp, he also details the physical and psychological effects wreaking havoc on the climbers, adventurer and Sherpa alike. It’s a grueling quest and Krakauer never lets you forget the danger.
It has been said that the mountaineering community is unique unto themselves. Never before was this more apparent than when Kraukauer described climbers so hellbent on reaching the top that they would push on past half dead individuals lying in the snow, slowly freezing to death. Or step casually over the legs of a half buried dead man…
Despite the dangers of climbing such high elevations, the challenge continues to draw thousands to Everest. It is an industry unto itself, making millions for guides, the sports corporations looking to sponsor them, and the Sherpas looking to lead the way.

I devoured this book. I found it was very easy to lose track of time and read 70-80 pages in one sitting.

Quotes I liked, “I thrilled in the fresh perspective that came from tipping the ordinary plane of existence on end” (p 23) and “Problem was, my inner voice resembled Chicken Little; it was screaming that I was about to die, but it did that almost every time I laced up my climbing boots” (p 101).

Author fact: I think Krakauer is best known for Into the Wild, but I am reading two others, Iceland and Where Men Win Glory.

Book trivia: There are the obligatory black and white photographs of the victims and a few of the mountain. Unlike a book a read recently where every photo was of the author, Jon Krakauer isn’t in a single one.

Nancy said: Krakauer’s book “sets the standard for personal adventure books” (p 8).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Adventure By the Book: Nonfiction” (p 8).


Warding of Witch World

Norton, Andre. The Warding of Witch World. New York: Warner Books, 1996.

Reason read: to continue the series started in April to honor Norton’s memory. She passed in the month of April.

From everything that I can tell, The Warding of Witch World is the final entry in the Witch World series. It is Book Six of the Turning Series. The premise is pretty simple, all the witches come together, future allies and past enemies must bond together to face impending doom. All of the gates of their Witch World are open and evil is about to descend upon them. The title of the book comes from the warding and watching of these gates. A robust cast of creatures, including a giant, come together for the battle of their lives.

I pretty much gave up on this book before it even began.

Author fact: Andre Norton is the pseudonym for Alice Mary Norton.

Book trivia: The Warding of Witch World is a hefty read, totaling 560 pages.

Nancy said: nothing.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy” (p 216).


Evolution of Useful Things

Petroski, Henry. The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts – From Forks and Pins To Paper Clips and Zippers – Came To Be As They Are. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

Reason read: April is Math, Science and Technology Month.

Did you ever stop to think that the four-tined fork which brings food to your mouth and the two-tined fork you use to hold meat while carving it came from the same food necessity and that they are siblings separated at birth? Probably not, but Petroski did. He goes on to explore to evolution of all sorts of everyday items, like cans and can openers, zippers, and to name a few. His book is filled with interesting facts and even a little humor. The photographs are great, too!

Confessional: to those of you who follow along it should come as no surprise that I get a certain thrill from making a Natalie connection in seemingly unrelated books. Here’s the Natalie connection with The Evolution of Useful Things: Natalie released a 4-song CD called “Songs To Color By” in 2002. Song #3 was called “Paper of Pins” and even though I had know idea what the title meant I was content to be ignorant and just sing along. Sixteen years alter, enter Henry Petroski and his paper of pins. Thanks to a photograph I now know what a paper of pins looks like, too.

Author fact: It should come as no surprise, Henry Petroski was a Civil Engineering professor at Duke University. Obviously, the man knows what he’s talking about.

Book trivia: the illustrations and photographs in The Evolution of Useful Things is pretty cool.

Nancy said: Pearl said Henry Petroski was a professor of civil engineering and that The Evolution of Useful Things is “a good book” (p 232).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Techno-Thrillers” (p 231).


Venus Thow

Saylor, Steven. The Venus Throw. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995.

Reason read: to continue the series started in March, in honor of Saylor’s birth month.

At this point in Gordianus the Finder’s life he is a 54 years old farmer in Etruria just outside Ancient Rome. He has married his Egyptian slave, Bethesda, and she has given him a daughter, Gordiana, who is thirteen years old and goes by the name Diana. Rounding out the household are two adopted sons, Meto and Eco, and Gordianus’s house slave, Belbo.
In the year 56 B.C., Gordianus is trying to live the quiet life when philosopher and former teacher Dio of Alexandria arrives at his door dressed as a woman, desperately looking for help. Because Egyptian enoys have been assassinated, he has reason to believe someone is trying to kill him next. Despite their history, the strong desire to not get involved led Gordianus to turn Dio away, a decision he would later regret when Dio is indeed found stabbed to death. Gordianus, being the finder of the truth, seeks to uncover the mystery of who killed Dio and why. Despite every indication this is a straightforward political assassination Gordianus soon realizes nothing is ever that simple.

Confessional: Because there are eight other books before The Venus Throw there so much more to this series than what I am reading for the challenge. I feel as though I am missing out on key pieces of Gordianus’s life.

Author fact: at the time of publication, Saylor was living in California.

Book trivia: I mentioned this before. Out of sixteen titles, Venus Throw is the ninth book of the Roma Sub Rosa series. I am only reading three from this series. I have one more to go.

Nancy said: Maybe it is because there are sixteen Roma Sub Rosa titles, but Pearl lists the three I am reading out of chronological order. Venus Throw is listed first when it should be second.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Classical World” (p 59).


Jargoon Pard

Norton, Andre. The Jargoon Pard. New York: Ballantine Books, 1974.

Reason read: to continue the series started in March in honor of Norton’s birth month.

The Jargoon Pard is the companion piece to Crystal Gryphon
and the prequel to The Year of the Unicorn.
A science fiction story with a fantasy twist. Kethan is the chosen one. From the moment of his birth he was destined to lead his family. With the help of a magic belt, his fate is solidified, despite the jealousies of an evil woman, his mother’s Wise Woman.
Full confession: I didn’t really get into The Jargoon Pard. To be honest, I didn’t get more than fifty pages before I called it quits. Fantasy and I just don’t like each other, I guess. A whole bunch of fantasy words were thrown around that essentially equated to mumbo jumbo. Arvon. The Seven Lords. The Four Clans: Redmantle, Goldmantle, Bluemantle, and Silvermantle. House of the Car Do Prawn. What? What the what? I have no idea. It’s the year of the Red Boar. The month of the Snowbird. Whatever that means.

Author fact: Andre Norton was a librarian in Cleveland, Ohio.

Book trivia: Even though The Jargoon Pard is part of the Witch World Series it has nothing to do with the first book.

Nancy said: nothing beyond mentioning The Jargoon Pard is part of the Witch series.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror (p 213).