The Numbers

DATE: 3/23/15
Titles Finished Total

  • Books: 869
  • Poetry: 74
  • Short stories: 32

Total for 2015: 29 titles
Titles left to go (all combined): 4,753
Next count: 4/23/2015

Literary Murder

Gur, Batya. Literary Murder: a Critical Case. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.

We first met Michael Ohayon in The Saturday Morning Murder. Since then he has been promoted to Superintendent and his new case is the violent death of a famous poet, lecturer, critic and literature professor from Hebrew University. Curiously, at the same time, albeit miles away, another murder has taken place and this victim is also a member of the same department at the same university. Very interesting. What makes this case so interesting is that Ohayon must wrestle with the complexities of literary criticism, intellectual integrity, and ethics in a world of competitive academia. Everyone at the university becomes a suspect when the motive is simple envy.

One of the things that trips me up about Gur’s writing is the sheer number of characters she puts in her books. While many are well developed interesting characters many more of them are only mentioned once and never again. For some reason I decided to list them all (in alphabetically order):

  • Adiel – scholar
  • Adina Lipkin – faculty secretary
  • Agnon – poet
  • Aldandari – police
  • Anatoly Ferber – poet
  • Andre Sakarov
  • Ariyeh Levy – Major General Jerusalem Subdistrict commander
  • Ariyeh Klein – Medieval poetry professor previously on sabbatical at Columbia
  • Avidan – department investigations officer
  • Avigdor  – head of criminal identification division
  • Avraham Kalitzky – professor
  • Azariya – deputy recovering from back surgery
  • Becky Pomerantz – Uzi’s mother
  • Bialik – poet
  • Boris Zinger – Russian
  • Dana – daughter of Henry Wolf
  • Danny Balilty – intelligence officer
  • Davidov – Host of Book World
  • Dita Fuchs – professor; had an affair with Tirosh
  • Dovik – works in personnel
  • Eli Bahar – police medical examiner
  • Emanuel Shorer – Michael’s predecessor
  • Emuna Yaron – daughter of Agnon
  • Gilly – police spokesman
  • Guy – diving instructor
  • Dr Henry Wolf
  • Helena Radovensky – parent of Tirosh
  • Hirsh – pathologist worked with Michael 8 years
  • Hrabal – poet
  • Iddo Dudai – young, poet, murder victim
  • Illan Muallem – Ofakim police
  • Jan Schasky – parent of Tirosh
  • Kalman Aharonovitz
  • Malka “Mali” Arditi – Klein’s mistress
  • Manfred Herbst – condemned to a leper’s hospital
  • Manny Ezra
  • Meir Shatz – historian
  • Menucha Tishkin – teacher
  • Marom – president of the college
  • Max Lowenthal – lawyer/professor
  • Maya – Michael Ohayon’s girlfriend
  • Michael Ohayon – inspector
  • Motti – diving instructor
  • Natan Zach – poet
  • Nathan Yaron
  • Nechama Leibowitz – professor
  • Nira – Michael’s ex-wife
  • Noa – Uzi’s second wife
  • Ofra Klein
  • Perla Lindborg – Swedish biologist
  • Pnina – Crime Identification Division; forensics
  • Rabbi Sharabi
  • Racheli Luria – third year psychology undergraduate; secretary’s assistant
  • Raffi Alfandan- police
  • Raffi Weizer – Agnon archives
  • Rina – comes to comfort Ruth
  • Ruchama Shai – Tuvia’s wife, had an affair with Shaul
  • Ruth Dudai – Iddo’s wife
  • Sara Amir – frumpy professor
  • Schlomo Ibn Gabriol – poet
  • Shmaya – reporter
  • Shatz – police
  • Shaul Tirosh/Pavel Schasky – lecturer, poet, ladies man, murder victim
  • Shaul – crime scene investigator; married 10 years
  • Shaul Tchernichowsky – poet
  • Shulamith Zellermaier – older, popular lit and folklore professor
  • Tali Shatz – daughter of proefessor who supervised Ohayon’s MA
  • Tsippi Lev-Ari (Goldgraber) – Aharonivitz’s assistant
  • Tuvia Shai – married to Ruchama; professor
  • Tzesha – Racheli’s aunt
  • Tzilla Bahar- Eli’s wife & pregnant
  • Tzipporah – coworker of Ruchama
  • Uzi Rimon – Michael’s childhood friend
  • Yaakov Gafni – Tirosh’s favorite painter
  • Yael Eisenstein – wife of Tirosh (divorced 6 months later) teaching assistant
  • Yehezkiel – poet
  • Yehuda Halevi – poet
  • Youzek – ex-father-in-law
  • Yuval Ohayon – son of Michael Ohayon
  • Zvika – photographer, crime scene investigator

I’m sure I missed a few people here and there, but you see what I mean. It’s not enough for a crime scene photographer to pop in and out of a scene. He, too, must have a name and a story.
Reason read: to continue the Michael Ohayon series started in March.

Author fact: This Ohayon mystery must have been particularly close to Gur’s heart for she was a literary professor in Jerusalem (as of 1993).

Book trivia: This is book #2 in Gur’s series about Inspector Michael Ohayon.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Crime is a Globetrotter: Israel” (p 61).

Two Gardeners

Wilson, Emily Herring, ed. Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence: a Friendship in Letters. Boston: Beacon Press, 2002.

Reason read: to celebrate spring (and somewhere in the world April is National Gardening Month although we had snow showers today). However, three different coworkers mentioned they worked on their gardens over the weekend so it must be true. I’m jealous! I ran 13 miles instead.

Two Gardeners is a delightful book about a friendship that just clicked from the very beginning. Emily Herring Wilson has compiled & edited the letters of Katharine White and Elizabeth Lawrence’s nineteen year correspondence (1958 – 1977) which started with a simple fan letter to Katharine from Elizabeth. Katharine White (married to E.B. White) wrote reviews about gardening catalogs and Elizabeth just happened to respond to one such seed catalog review. Their correspondence grew from strictly talking about gardening to the more personal as time went on. They grew comfortable enough to share details of illnesses (their own and of family) and the trials of growing older. A real friendship starts to bloom despite only being pen pals and meeting once. Yes, I meant that pun! I have to admit it was sad to read about their growing illnesses, especially Katharine’s because hers were more debilitating.
My only “dislike” and a minor one at that: there was a lot of name-dropping between Katharine and Elizabeth and most names had a footnote explaining the significance of each person. I found it curious that “Donna” didn’t have her own footnote. Donna, as in Hurricane Donna, of 1960. Also, relating to the footnotes: Wilson felt it necessary to correct either Katharine or Elizabeth when they made an error in their letters.
I’m sure I would cherish Two Gardeners more if I were half as passionate about gardening as Katharine and Elizabeth. Not all was lost on me, though. I would say Katharine gardened most like me, “I just put things out and let them take their chances” (p 29).
I don’t know what to make of this, but Katharine, in the beginning of their friendship, was always asking Elizabeth not to answer her letters. “Do not answer this!” (p 70).

Quotes I loved, “I suppose she though she was bound to love a fellow gardener” (p 14), and “I am always in debt to Mr. Saier because he sends things at odd times, and I wake up in the night and remember that I have owed him a quarter for three years” (p 20).

Author Editor fact: Emily Herring Wilson just looks like a gardener from her dust jacket cover.

Book trivia: Two Gardeners includes some great photographs of Katharine and Elizabeth as well as their homes and loved ones. There is even one of Katherine with Andy.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Gear Up for Gardening” (p 95). Note: both Katharine and Elizabeth published books on the subject of gardening. Pearl preferred to only mention Katharine’s.

Banana Berry Smoothies

Larrew, Brekka Hervey. Banana Berry Smoothies and Other Breakfast Recipes (fun foods for cool cooks). Minneapolis, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 2008.

Reason read: always, always on the hunt for ways to make me & myself eat breakfast.

So. This turned out to be a cookbook for young adults. I say young “adult” because there are sharp knives, frying oil and a hot stove involved. Kids definitely need to be supervised while following the recipes if they are under the age of 8 or 9 years old. True to its title, the first recipe is a banana berry smoothie. It then moves on to other typical treats like muffins and pancakes. I thought the entire was well laid out and incredibly cute. It even had a little index. I liked the photographs of the tools needed for each recipe and the trivia facts were fun, too. Did you know Pancake Day is on Shrove Tuesday?

Author fact: Brekka is a stay-at-home mom.

Book trivia: even adults can use these recipes if they are anything like me and have trouble being inspired to eat breakfast!

New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition

Fitzgerald, Matt. The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition: a Cutting-Edge Plan to Fuel Your Body Beyond “the Wall.” Boston: Da Capo Press, 2013.

Reason read: So. I have this little run of 13.1 miles in Toronto in less than two weeks. I’m just now thinking I should research nutrition for this jaunt.

As much as I love books that are designed to make me a better anything my eyes glaze over when the information becomes too out-of-my-league. Take, for example Fitzgerald’s recommendation that runners should know “basic” information: body weight and V02 max. I can jump on a scale and figure out BMI, weight, fat % and bone density… but V02 max? I’m a middle-aged housewife just looking for a little more information on nutrition for runners. Obviously, The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition is for consumers who are much more hardcore about running than I am! But having said all that, there was a plethora of take-away information that I could (and probably will) use. Pre-race nutrition was especially helpful, as was the nutrition training plans and the chart of diet quality guidelines.

Author fact: Fitzgerald has written a few other books about running, nutrition and the like.

Book trivia: Kara Goucher, two-time Olympian, wrote the foreword for New Rules. Ryan Hall, also an Olympian, endorsed the book as well.

Royal Flash

Fraser, George MacDonald. Royal Flash: From the Flashman Papers, 1842-3 and 1847. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1970.

Even though I didn’t remember the plot of Flashman, the first book in Fraser’s series, one detail came rushing back to me immediately when I started Royal Flash – Harry Flashman is definitely not short on ego. He’s the same despicable cad he was in the first book. Within the first few pages of Royal Flash he describes himself as handsome, beloved, admired, and respected. And, like the first few pages of Flashman he winds up in the bed of a beautiful woman almost immediately. But, having said all that, he’s still a coward, albeit a clever one at that. He says brazenly, “The world was my oyster, and if it wasn’t my sword that had opened it, no one was any the wiser” (p 4). This time Flashy has got himself in deep. As payback for an earlier embarrassment Harry is forced to pretend he is Prince Carl Gustaf while the real royalty gets over a bout of the clap. Only, here’s the twist: he takes over for Carl on the eve of his wedding and has to marry the Irma, the frosty Duchess of Strackenz. He is assured the marriage is not binding due to his different religious faith (and the fact he is already married). True to Fraser style, all is not as it seems and Flashman finds himself in one pickle after another.

Couldn’t help myself lines I like, “Royalty – I have Bersonin’s solemn word for it – never claw at their arses to assist thought” (p 113).

Reason read: George MacDonald Fraser was born in the month of April.

Book trivia: this is the second book in the Flashman series. I read Flashman a long time ago (Oct 20, 2009) and had to review my blog to remember what I read.

Author fact: I have heard it said that Harry Flashman is George MacDonald Fraser in disguise. A womanizing coward? Yikes.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93).

Measure of All Things

Alder, Ken. The Measure of All Things: the Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error that Transformed the World. Read by Byron Jennings. New York: Simon & Schuster Audio, 2002.

While the French Revolution raged around them, the Royal Academy of Sciences had a plan – to measure the circumference of the world and they knew just the two scientists (astronomers also known as savants) to do it. Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre was to head north from Paris while his partner, Pierre-Francois-Andre Mechain headed south. [As an aside, when Alder referred to them as the north and south going astronomers I instantly thought of Dr. Seuss & his Sneetches. Yup, I’m a seven year old at heart.] What was supposed to be a year-long adventure turned into seven but the end result was the definition of the meter and the birth of the metric system. Part biographical, part scientific, part historical and part adventure Alder adds intrigue when he delves into a secret error that only Delambre and Mechain knew about. He goes on to question exactly what is an error and he speculates on the lives of the men who changed the course of weights and measures.

Reason read: April is National Math, Science and Technology month

Author fact: Alder is the author of a couple of other books but this is the only one on my list.

Book trivia: The Measure of All Things includes illustrations and photographs. My favorite photo is of the Rodez Cathedral

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Techno-Thrillers” (p 232).

Binding Spell

Arthur, Elizabeth. Binding Spell. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

Binding Spell is another one of those stories where you feel like you have been lifted out of your little life and plopped down in the middle of someone else’s. A lot of someone elses, really. Felicity, Indiana is a community full of interesting characters and Binding Spell has the occasional long rambling commentary on religion and the nuclear arms threat, especially when the Russians come to town. Let me back up. Meet the community of Felicity: Ryland Guthrie is a hypochondriac furniture salesman. His brother Peale has been the county sheriff for all of five months. Ryland was married to April (divorced five years) and they have a son, Clayton. Peale married Amanda but sometimes forgets she’s his wife. Bailey and Howell Bourne are brother and sister. They lost their parents in a car accident. Bailey is twenty years old and a witch in training and Howell is married to Charlene. Ada Esterhaczy is Hungarian and a self proclaimed witch. Maggie, a counselor at Powell College, is her granddaughter. She also dabbles in witchcraft. Billy Bob Watson is the maintenance man at Powell. He likes to try to run over students with his tractor. Mitch Ketchum is a down and out desperate farmer in danger of losing his farm. Murrary Anderson artificially inseminates horses and has just been dumped by his girlfriend, Rosie. Dr. Richard Minot is a professor at Howell and has the hots for Maggie. Ryland starts dating Maggie. Peale has a thing for Bailey. Ada just wants her dog to mate with Ryland’s so that she can breed puppies. Then there are is the weather. Did you get all of that? Now enter the two Russians, come to visit Powell College. Howell, Billy Bob and Mitch hatch a plan to kidnap the Russians in order to save their farms. Thinking Ada will hate the Russians due to her Hungarian heritage they bring the captives to her farm. Only Ada is too busy cooking up love potions to bind certain couples (human and animal)…and that’s when things go a little crazy.

Lines I liked, “She was less trouble than her pet cat” (p 39) and “Now, as the pain – which might, admittedly, have been caused by that ice water he had drunk down so rapidly, with some ice shards inadvertently included – poked him tenderly in the side, he could not decide whether it was pancreatic cancer or Maggie’s being late” (p 217).

Reason read: April is National Dog Month

Author fact: Arthur wrote a memoir, Island Sojourn that is not on my list.

Book trivia: Binding Spell is Arthur’s third novel but the only one I’m reading for the Challenge.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Great Dogs in Fiction” (p 105). Chance is my favorite of the dogs.


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