January with the King’s Men

January started with my first official appointment to a chiropractor. I mentioned elsewhere that he wasn’t really confident he could put me back together, but that’s there and not here. Not being able to run has given me more time to read…much more than I realized. You can get a lot done with an extra 4-5 hours a week! With that being said, here are the books:


  • Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright. This story stayed with me for a really long time.
  • Tea From an Empty Cup by Pat Cadigan. I think I was most disappointed by this one because I saw the ending a mile away.
  • On the Beach by Nevil Shute. I listened to this on audio and I still can’t stop thinking about it.
  • Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich. I read this one in a day.
  • Wake Up, Darlin’ Corey by M.K. Wren. Another really short book.
  • What Did It Mean? by Angela Thirkell. I gave up on this one after 120 pages. Boring!


  • Partisans: Marriage, Politics, and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals by David Laskin.
  • War Child by Emmanuel Jal. Probably the most raw and captivating story of the month. Read in a weekend.
  • Traveller’s Prelude by Freya Stark
  • Practicing History by Barbara Tuchman. No one does history like Barbara. (AB/print)
  • Last Cheater’s Waltz by Ellen Meloy. She has a wicked sense of humor.

Series continuations:

  • Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle by Dorothy Gilman. The last Pollifax mystery I will read.  Read in a day.

Early Reviews:

  • Brain Food: the Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Health by Lisa Mosconi. This took me a really long time to read. You may have seen it on other lists. There was just a lot to it.


Last Cheater’s Waltz

Meloy, Ellen. The Last Cheater’s Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1999.

Reason read: Most of Last Cheater’s Waltz takes place in Utah and Utah became a state in January.

Ellen Meloy is hunkered down in a corner of the desert near the San Juan River in Utah. While she and her husband, Mark, call this barren land home, it is also close to Los Alamos and the White Sands Missile Range. Meloy, using her love for the west and naturalist instincts, explores what this atomic history’s proximity means to the environment. As the subtitle implies, it’s the juxtaposition of violence and beauty across a landscape that is teeming with the will to go on.
Meloy writes with wit, humor, and dare I say, sarcasm. I found a whole slew of passages I wanted to quote. I knew I was in for a good ride when I read that Meloy had just poured scalding hot water over coffee grounds and, inadvertently, a sleeping lizard: “I sat on the front steps of the screenhouse with sunrise burning crimson on the sandstone cliffs above the river and a boiled reptile in my cup” (p 3).

Another line I liked (out of a bunch): “While I could not be certain I was simply drowsily apathetic or enraged to the point of catatonia, I thought it best to cover both fronts by considering some kind of low-grade home lobotomy or one of those highly touted anger management seminars” (p 4). One more, because it made me laugh, “I am the aunt who laughs her head off at the funeral” (p 29).

Author fact: Meloy also wrote Raven’s Exile which is on my Challenge list.

Book trivia: Much of Meloy’s story is about a hand-drawn map she is creating of her known universe, the circumference of land around her home in the desert. While the description of Meloy’s Map Of the Known Universe would have been fun to see, it isn’t included.

Nancy said: Nancy compared Richard Shelton’s writing to Meloy.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “A Geography of Family and Place” (p 98).