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).


Amber Beach

Lowell, Elizabeth. Amber Beach. New York: Avon Books, 1998.

Reason read: Lowell was born in April. Read in her honor.

If you have been keeping up with this blog you know that romance novels are not really my thing. I think by reading Amber Beach I figured out exactly what annoys me so much. I don’t care for the coy I-Hate-Your-Guts attitude the characters put on right up until the angry yet passionate Rip-Your-Clothes-Off-And-Have-Wild-Sex-With-You routine. Amber Beach is exactly that kind of novel. Honor Donovan is a feisty, beautiful, smart, and courageous sister of one missing Kyle Donovan. In other words, she is perfect. Her one flaw is that she has no idea what happened to beloved brother Kyle and will stop at nothing to find him.  Enter two other brothers and family secrets. Honor doesn’t know of the rumors concerning Kyle. One story is he stole a crap load of valuable amber, killing someone in the process. Now it is believed he’s in hiding along with that millions of dollars worth of amber. But that’s not how the rest of the Donovan clan see it. Their story is they think Kyle was killed by his business partner, Jake “Jay” Mallory. Sexy, brooding, strong as an ox, smart as a whip, perfect specimen of a man, Jake only wants to clear his name. Okay, and find the precious amber. His side of the story is simple, he thinks he’s been framed by his friend and business partner, Kyle Donovan. Jake cleverly answers Honor’s ad for a fishing guide (lie). In reality she wants to learn how to run Kyle’s boat so she can search for him. Jake pretends to be a fishing guide but really wants to teach Honor how to run Kyle’s boat so he can get to Kyle first. Naturally, they fall into bed together before they can learn of each other’s mutual betrayal. Will their mutual attraction survive the lies? Will they find Kyle? Who is the guilty one, Kyle or Jake?

No quotes to quote.

Author fact: Lowell also writes under the name A.E. Maxwell.

Book trivia: Amber Beach is the first book in the Donovan Series. Lowell cleverly makes reference to the next book in the series, Jade Island by calling one character a “Jade” man. Well played, Lowell!

Nancy said: Pearl put Amber Beach in the category of  “Action Suspense” (p 204).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here to Stay” (p 203).


Library Week and the April Reads

Yes, it is now April 4th and I am just getting to this. April is slowly becoming one of those coulda, woulda months. I was supposed to run nine miles on Sunday. Instead, I had Easter dinner with the family and chilled out. I could have run on Monday but it snowed and I had Cairo. Coulda, shoulda, woulda, didn’t. April is supposed to he a half marathon (and you can see how well the training is going) and a 10k one week later. Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • Amber Beach by Elizabeth Lowell – in honor of Lowell’s birth month being in April.

Nonfiction:

  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers – in honor of April being the month Louisiana was founded.
  • Bogey Man by George Plimpton – in honor of the PGA tour.
  • Corner by David Simon – in honor of Maryland becoming a state in April.
  • Evolution of Useful Things by Henry Petroski – in honor of April being Math, Science, and Technology month.

Series continuations:

  • Venus Throw by Steven Saylor – to continue the series started in March for Saylor’s birth month.
  • Charmed by Nora Roberts – to continue the series started in February for Valentine’s Day.

Poetry:

  • New and Collected Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz – to continue honoring Poetry Month
  • A Few Figs From Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay – see above.
  • “Wild Geese” by Edna St. Vincent Millay – see above.

If there is time:

  • To the Is-Land by Janet Frame – in honor of Anzac Day in New Zealand.
  • Jargoon Pard by Andre Norton (I had to request this one through interlibrary loan so I’m not sure it will be read in time to be in the April category.

Marching Out

March was one of those weird months. A few Nor’Easters. A few miles run. A few books read. We had two school closings in back to back weeks so that helped with the reading, but not the run. I finished the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race just two minutes off my time last year. Considering I didn’t train (again) I’m alright with that. There’s always next year! Here are the books:

Fiction –

  • The Good Son by Michael Gruber
  • Roman Blood by Steven Saylor
  • White Man’s Grave by Richard Dooling
  • Witch World by Andre Norton
  • Cards of Identity by Nigel Dennis

Nonfiction –

  • All the Way Home by David Giffels
  • Slide Rule by Nevil Shute

Series Continuations –

  • Coast of Incense by Freya Stark – to finished the series started in honor of her birth month in January.
  • Entranced by Nora Roberts

Early Review for Librarything –

  • Oneiron by Laura Lindstedt (started)
  • Infinite Hope – Anthony Graves

Poetry –

  • New and Collected Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz (not finished)

Fun – I’m not finished with either fun book so I won’t list them here.


Roman Blood

Saylor, Stephen. Roman Blood.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.

Reason read: Saylor’s birth month is in March. Read in his honor.

It’s Rome in the year 80 B.C., and Gordianus the Finder has been summoned to the house of Cicero. Only twenty six years old, Cicero needs help defending a client in court. A wealthy farmer has been accused of patricide, the most heinous crime of Roman times. Cicero needs evidence to support his case and Gordianus is just the man to find it. Only, this is ancient Rome where slaves and masters practice deceit and betrayal on a daily basis. Who is telling the truth and who is behind the lies? As Gordianus’s investigation takes him closer and closer to dictator Sulla himself he knows he is in trouble. How far will he go to help Cicero uncover the truth? And is that truth worth uncovering?

As an aside, I want to know if Rome still has streets as described on page 23, “It was a street never touched by sun, never dried by its heat, or never purified by its light – filled with steam at high summer, coated with ice in winter, eternally damp.” I don’t know why, but that sounds magical.

Quotes to quote, “Romans love the strong man who can laugh at himself, and despise the weak man who cannot” (p 249), and “Some people are not at their best when roused from bed in the middle of the night” (p 268).

Author fact: taken from the book jacket, “Saylor’s fascination with ancient Rome began at the age of eight when he saw a censored print of Cleopatra at a drive-in theater theater…”

Book trivia: Roman Blood is Saylor’s first novel.

Nancy said: Nancy said Saylor writes “superior historical mysteries” (p 60).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Classical World” (p 60). Pearl includes other Saylor mysteries: Venus Throw, Last Seen in Massilia and A Twist at the End but she doesn’t indicate Roman Blood and the next two are part of a mystery series. If she had, I am pretty sure she would have listed them in order as Roman Blood should be read before Venus Throw and A Twist at the End is not part of the Sub Rosa series.


February Falling Up

I can only describe February as falling up because health-wise I am up on upswing. I’m still not really running yet (I’ve gone for four under-three-mile runs, but who’s counting?). I’m not really running but I haven’t fallen down either. Hence, falling up.

We had a snow day from work, I took a few days off for my birthday and we took a trip to New Jersey so I was able to get in a fair amount of reading. I spent President’s Day reading, too. Oh, and I almost forgot. I’m barely running so there’s that, too. Needless to say, I’ve been reading a lot. Weirdly enough, for all the reading I’ve done you would think there would be more books. Oh well. Speaking of the books, here they are:

Fiction:

  • Dead Room Farce by Simon Brett. Read in three days.
  • Captivated by Nora Roberts. Read on my iPad in four days.
  • Backup Men by Ross Thomas. Read in five days.
  • The Almond Picker by Simonetta Hornby.
  • Color of Money by Walter Tevis. Read in five days.

Nonfiction:

  • City of Falling Angels by John Berendt.
  • Full Steam Ahead by Rhoda Blumberg.

Series Continuation:

  • Beyond Euphrates by Freya Stark.

For Fun:

  • Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline.

Backup Men

Thomas, Ross. The Backup Men.New York: William Morrow & Company, 1971.

Reason read: Thomas was born in the month of February. Read in his honor.

Mac McCorkle and Mike Padillo are “saloon” keepers in Washington D.C. They came to Washington after their place of the same name in Bonn on the banks of the Rein had been blown up. Oddly enough, despite their reputations, their Washington D.C. establishment has yet to be assaulted. Despite the fact they are trying to put their pasts behind them and keep their noses clean, through various mishaps they find themselves with a new job, to protect a young man from assassination. Peter Paul Kassim is on the brink of becoming King of Llaquah, a country that has recently discovered it sits on nearly 100 billion barrels of oil reserves. Kassim stands in the way of political enemies who are extremely interested in getting Kassim out of the way.
The Backup Men is a fast paced suspense novel, but what really hold the story together is McCorkle and Padillo’s relationship. Their characters and conversations are witty, humorous and at times, utterly astonishing.

As an aside: From everything I have read, The Backup Men is not a continuation of a series, but rather has some of the same characters from previous novels. From what I could tell, it was not necessary to read the previous stories in order to understand The Backup Men.

Edited to add the only quote that I liked, “That type of revenge was based on rage which, if heated to the right temperature, can make any action, no matter how foolish, seem coldly logical and completely justified… (p 154). I won’t quote the whole sentence because it involves the word “baby” and the verb “slam.”

Author fact: Thomas wrote a ton of books. I have 24 of them on my list.

Book trivia: Many of Thomas’s books have reoccurring characters. The Backup Men is the third book to include Mac and Mike (Mac McCorkle and Mike Padillo). Both characters were first introduced in The Cold War Swap (also on my list).

Nancy said: Absolutely nothing.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Ross Thomas: Too Good To Miss” (p 234).