The Numbers

DATE: 10/26/15 (Happy birthday, Natalie Merchant!)

Titles Finished Total

  • Books: 922
  • Poetry: 75
  • Short stories: 36

Total for 2015: 91 titles

All titles left to go: 4,691 (This number went up because I found several more titles that are actually the title of the SERIES and not the individual books. Case in point – Proust. Remembrance of Things Past is actually 12 different titles. The Complete Sherlock Holmes is actually 4 novels and 56 short stories totaling 60 different titles. With just those two examples I went from two titles to 72 titles.)

Next count: 11/30/2015 (Happy anniversary, mom and dad!)

Eve Green

Fletcher, Susan. Eve Green. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004.

Reason read: This is a stretch, but Dylan Thomas was Welsh. Eve Green takes place in Wales. Thomas died in November. See the connection? Didn’t think so.

I think this was my favorite book of everything I read in November. It spoke to me the way Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams did. Taylor Greer and Evangeline Green were a lot alike and I could hear their voices long after their stories were out of my hands.
Evangeline’s story begins In Birmingham where her mother commits suicide and, at seven years old, she is sent to live with her maternal grandparents in Wales. She has never met her father and her friends consist of one outcast boy from school, a 23 year old farm hand, and a reclusive. seemingly mentally ill man who frequents the woods near her grandparent’s farm. Everyone else represents jealousy and danger. When a blond, blue eyed classmate goes missing Eve’s world is turned upside down. It doesn’t help that she didn’t really like Rosie, nor that her reclusive friend is a suspect.

There were lots and lots of lines I liked in Eve Green. I really like Fletcher’s writing. Here are a couple of lines to remember, “But my point had been made: if someone expects trouble, they usually get it, in the end” (p 45) and “As I hovered by the door all I knew was that men weren’t designed for crying” (p 106). Why this last line hit me so hard – It’s true. I can’t stand to see grown men cry because it feels so unnatural, so wrong. Here are a couple more quotes I liked, “But at fifteen my heart was hungrier than ever” (p 177), and “Life’s a stone not yet carved on, an unwritten page” (p 280).

Author fact: Eve Green is Fletcher’s first novel.

Book trivia: some people feel that Fletcher gave a nod to Lee Harper when she included a misunderstood and potentially mentally ill man as a character in Eve Green.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Wales Welcomes You” (p 248).

Four Seasons in Rome

Doerr, Anthony. Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. New York: Scribner, 2007.

Reason read: Doerr celebrates a birthday in November, or something like that.

Imagine coming home from the hospital after your wife has just given birth to twins and discovering you have won an award that will send you to Rome for a year, an award you didn’t ask for or even know about. So, six months later you pack up aforementioned wife and boys and off to Rome you go. Doerr spends the next year reading Pliny, exploring the ancient city and marveling at life BT (before twins) and AT (after twins). He is observant and witty on all accounts but by his own admission is too busy staring at Italy to write anything constructive. Until Four Seasons is born. If you are to read just one page of Four Seasons in Rome I strongly recommend reading page 141, starting with “What is Rome”.

Quotes I liked, “Sleep is a horizon: the harder you row toward it, the faster it recedes” (p 26) and “Complexities wane, miracles become unremarkable, and if we are not careful, pretty soon we’re gazing out at our lives as if through a burlap sack ” (p 54). There were many more, but I’ll leave it a that.

Author fact: Doerr has received two O. Henry Prizes and this book was as a result of winning an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, affording him a stipend ($1,300/month) and a writing studio in Rome.

Book trivia: there are no photographs in Four Seasons in Rome. I’m disappointed. There are, however, illustrations by Brian Rea at the beginning of each season.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Roman Holiday” (p 189).

Dark Hills Divide

Carman, Patrick. The Dark Hills Divide. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2005.

Reason read: November is Fantasy Convention month in some places in the world.

I need to preface this with the obvious: Dark Hills Divide is a book for kids. Okay, so onto the plot. Alexa Daley is twelve years old and is spending a month with her father in the town of Bridewell. Bridewell is no ordinary place as it is surrounded by huge walls that are 42′ high and 3′ thick. What Alexa wants to know is what is beyond, in the world she can not see? All her life she has lived behind those thick walls. All she knows is what her mayoral father tells her: that a mysterious man by the name of Thomas Warvold had the walls built by an army of prison convicts. Legend has it, the walls have kept out an unnamed evil.
And so begins the first book of the Land of Elyon series. As with any good fantasy book there is a menacing villain, talking animals and one brave-as-all-get-out kid. Pervis Kotcher, Bridewell’s head of security and resident bully, will stop at nothing to keep Alexa from seeing what is beyond the walls but like any determined kid, Alexa finds a way out. From there, things get weird and Alexa realizes everyone has secrets and the motto is “trust no one”.

As an aside, I was pleasantly surprised to see the traditional poem “Six Men of Indostan” or “The Blind Men and the Elephant” reimagined by John Godfrey Saxe. I know the John Godfrey Saxe version as interpreted by Natalie Merchant on her “Leave Your Sleep” album.

Author fact: I don’t think it would surprise you to learn Carman has his own website here.

Book trivia: Dark Hills Divide doesn’t have illustrations throughout the text, but there is a beautiful drawing of a wolf on the second page and illustrations of Alexa’s chess moves. Another detail, Dark Hills Divide is the first book in a series called “The Land of Elyon.”

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Fantasy for Young and Old” (p 85).

Hatchet Job

Adams, Harold. Hatchet Job. New York: Walker and Company, 1996.

Reason read: South Dakota became a state in November.

Hatchet Job is such a short book (barely over 150 pages) that it can be read in one sitting and because it is so short it ends almost before it really begins. Here are a couple of other things you need to know about Hatchet Job: it’s the thirteenth book in the Carl Wilcox series but you do not need to have read the other twelve before enjoying Hatchet. Also, even though Hatchet Job was published in 1996 it takes place at least fifty years earlier. Details like Wilcox driving a Model T, women wearing or not wearing girdles, and lots of references to the Great War helped set the time frame.
Now for the plot: someone has murdered the town cop of Mustard with four chops with an ax or hatchet. The blows are precise and predictable. No one is shocked Lou Dupree is dead and if the town could cheer about such a demise, they would and loudly. Our hero, Carl Wilcox, is called in to solve the mystery and stand in as Mustard’s law enforcement until they can find a replacement. When Carl isn’t asking a million questions he’s trying seduce all the single ladies, but he has an eye for the married ones as well. It’s just a matter of time before Carl solves the case and gets a date. The real question is, which will happen first?

Author fact: in 1996 Harold Adams was the retired director of the Minnesota Charities Review Council.

Book trivia: Hatchet Job is part of the Carl Wilcox series.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Great Plains: the Dakotas” (p 106).

November End

This is the LAST month of the gigantic list! Yay! Hopefully, I can remember how I used to blog the books before this huge list! As an aside, I have finished training for the marathon so I won’t have that obsession after next month (14 DAYS from now).

  1. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
  2. In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  3. By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman
  4. Recognitions by William Gaddis
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  6. Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
  7. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz
  8. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  11. A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
  12. Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
  14. Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
  15. Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
  18. In Xanadu by William Dalrymple
  19. The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  20. Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose
  21. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore
  22. Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London
  23. Alma Mater by P.F Kluge
  24. Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy
  25. Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  26. Good Life by Ben Bradlee
  27. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  28. Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban
  29. Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton
  30. Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan
  31. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
  32. Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft
  33. Polish Officer by Alan Furst
  34. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
  35. Walden by Henry David Throreau
  36. Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft
  37. Selected Letters of Norman Mailer edited by J. Michael Lennon
  38. Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle
  39. Saturday Morning Murder by Batya Gur
  40. Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe
  41. Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose
  42. Broom of the System by David Wallace
  43. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  44. Little Follies by Eric Kraft
  45. Literary Murder by Batya Gur
  46. Bob Marley, My Son by Cedella Marley Booker
  47. Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  48. Southern Mail by Antoine de Saint- Exupery
  49. Measure of All Things, the by Ken Alder
  50. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson
  51. Royal Flash by George Fraser
  52. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur
  53. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  54. ADDED: Castle in the Backyard by Betsy Draine
  55. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan
  56. Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft
  57. Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren
  58. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur
  59. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser
  60. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma
  61. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge
  62. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman
  63. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  64. Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser
  65. What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft
  66. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
  67. Ruby by Cynthia Bond
  68. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan
  69. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan
  70. Murder Duet by Batya Gur
  71. Flashman in the Great Game – George MacDonald Fraser
  72. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft
  73. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme
  74. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc
  75. Grifters by Jim Thompson
  76. Snow Angels by James Thompson
  77. So Many Roads: the life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne
  78. Short story: Drinking with the Cook by Laura Furman
  79. Short Story: Hagalund by Laura Furman
  80. Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin
  81. Not so Short story: The Last of Mr. Norris by Christopher Isherwood
  82. short story: Jack Landers is My Friend by Daniel Stolar
  83. short story: Marriage Lessons by Daniel Stolar
  84. Light in August by William Faulkner
  85. Not so Short story: Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  86. A Comedy & A Tragedy by Travis Hugh Culley
  87. Feed Zone by Biju Thomas
  88. Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft
  89. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser
  90. In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan by John DeFrancis
  91. Faster! by James Gleick
  92. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
  93. Families and Survivors by Alice Adams
  94. Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft
  95. Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett
  96. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser
  97. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett
  98. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  99. Petty by Warren Zanes
  100. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  101. Homicide by David Simon
  102. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (AB)
  103. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett
  104. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser
  105. A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez (ER)
  106. Crows Over a Wheatfield by Paula Sharp
  107. Time Traveler: In Search of Dinosaurs and Ancient Mammals from Montana to Mongolia by Michael Novacek
  108. ADDED: Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giaordano (recommendation from my sister)
  109. ADDED: Under the Volcano by  Malcolm Lowry (needed an AB)
  110. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman
  111. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser
  112. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett
  113. ADDED: My Confection by Lisa Kotin (ER)
  114. ADDED: Hatchet Job by Harold Adams

DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review; DNS = Did Not Start; EB = E-Book

Disorderly Knights

Dunnett, Dorothy. The Disorderly Knights. New York: Vintage Books, 1997.

Reason read: to continue the series started in August in honor of Dorothy Dunnett’s birth month.

The year is now 1551. Francis Crawford of Lymond, the blond-haired, blue eyed rebel of Edinburgh Scotland has a new mission from the King of France: to come to the aid of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John in Malta as they battle the Turks to defend their island. It begins as a confusing battle, and as with all great stories in history, not everyone is who they first appear to be. There is a traitor among them. Who can it be? It’s up to Francis to figure it out and in doing so discovers his worst enemy. On a personal note, in this installment of the Lymond Chronicles I was pleasantly surprised to see a more personal side to the dashing and devastatingly cruel Francis. This time Dunnett didn’t have him constantly drinking to falling down drunk, and while I wasn’t always agreeing with Lymond’s actions, they shed light on the complexities of his personality.
On another note, I was sad to lose key characters.

Quotes I liked, “Hatred shackled by promises to the dead was the vilest of all” (p 218) and “But that’s just immaturity boggling at the sad face of failure” (p 322).

Author fact: According the back cover of Disorderly Knights Dunnett was, to critics at that time, the “world’s greatest living writer of historical fiction.”

Book trivia: this is the third installment of the Lymond series.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Digging Up the Past Through History” (p 79).

Time Traveler

Novacek, Michael. Time Traveler: In Search of Dinosaurs and Ancient Mammals From Montana to Mongolia. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.

Reason read: October is Dinosaur Month. I don’t know who came up with that except to say that I read it on the internet.

Michael Novacek begins his book Time Traveler like a memoir, taking us back to a time when high school yearbooks crowned well endowed coeds with titles such as “Miss Sweater Girl” (and it wasn’t considered sexist). Novacek makes it autobiographically personal by including interesting artifacts (pun totally intended) about his own adolescence, like how he was in a rock band that could have gone somewhere, or that he kissed a girl named Diane in the back of a bus. He even includes some humor. Consider this quote, “…our last moment on earth will probably be marked by an image of a dark cab coming at us dead-on, with a flash of gold teeth and a tequila bottle on the dashboard” (p 166). It makes for a very entertaining read. But, that’s not to say he dumbs down paleontology and all things natural history. Just the opposite, in fact, his laid back writing style made the otherwise dry topic (for me anyways) far more interesting. Just wait until you get to the part about whales found in Patagonia and Michael’s harrowing adventures in Chile.

Quote I liked, “Nothing is worse than obligatory fun” (p 241).

Author fact: PBS made a documentary about Novacek’s work. That’s pretty cool. Something to put on the to do list…

Book trivia: I read a review that mentioned grainy photography but I don’t know what they were talking about. I didn’t see photographs. I thought they were all very cool illustrations.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter simply called “Patagonia” (p 93).


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