Day 12) L is for List: Choose a book from your to-read List
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
So reading lists. It feels like they will never end.
And every time I read a book, it feels as if I add ten more.
To help keep track of that, I have a Goodreads account and I try and work through it. But then I have another problem:
Yes, so even though I have too many books that I own and haven’t read; and too many on my to-read list, I keep getting more.
My shelves are stuffed:
And I have boxes full of them everywhere:
So I tried to figure out what book to review, and settled on Moby-Dick.
Moby-Dick or The Whale was published by Herman Melville in 1851. At the time it wasn’t received, and by the time of his death the book was out of print and hadn’t generated that much money.
However, readers are fickle and in the 20th century, the book became so popular it was given the title of one of the Great American Novels. William Faulkner was known to have wished he was the one who wrote it and D. H. Lawrence called it “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world”, and “the greatest book of the sea ever written.”
I had started The Great Illustrated Classic versionwhen I was much younger, but never finished the book. I had to return it to the library and I’m not sure why I didn’t recheck it out, but I never read, or finished reading it, ever again.
This book has been on my to-read list since I’ve joined Goodreads, and my friend even gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday, but I had still not read it. Leaving it buried under all the other to-read books.
But this year I decided to read it!
So what did I think after all this time?
I didn’t like it.
I know, I feel horrible for even uttering those words…
But it is the truth.
It’s how I feel.
So let’s go over what the story is about, and then I will share why I didn’t like it.
Ishmael signs up to a whaling ship, having to share his room with a Polynesian harpooner, Queequeg. At first Ishmael is afraid of him, but the two end up becoming extremely good friends.
The ship they go on is the Pequod, which is led by Captain Ahab. Now Captain Ahab has lost his leg to a mighty white whale, Moby-Dick, and he is incensed with revenge, planning on finding him and killing him on their journeys.
The ship sails, and while the crew hunt for the whales to bring back their blubber; Ishmael shares his philosophies of whaling, his idea of the British, the different whales they meet, etc. The novel ends in a bitter battle as Ahab finds his prey; but will he be able to destroy it or just himself?
So Why Didn’t I Like It?
The biggest problem for me is that this novel is a little bit of everything and moves from topic to topic instead of being one concise story. I mean Ishmael’s thoughts seem to wander everywhere as he will switch from the adventure on the whale ship to his thoughts of religion, how the color white is evil, that the British snootily look down on the Americans but need them, etc. This random philosophizing I could definitely do without, especially as there is no segway but a real rattling on.
I mean I really enjoyed the adventures in whaling and anything with Captain Ahab, I thought he was a great character, but sadly there wasn’t more of him.
What also struck me was how hard Melville was trying to make a “great American novel.” We know people from England looked down at America at this time, and you can see how hard Melville is trying to prove that American writers are just on par as the British.
“But where this superioty in the English whalemen does really consist, it would be hard to say, seeing that the Yankees in one day, collectively, kill more whales than all the English, collectively, in ten years.”
Yeah, I don’t think he is just talking about whales, it seems there is a deeper meaning under there…
So I didn’t really care for it, but at least I finally read it! Now I can cross it off my list and move onto the next item.
Today I choose the Christmas Carol, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. It was written by Pastor Edmund Sears in 1849. At the time he was depressed and saddened by the war with Mexico and the strife that hung in the air. His friend, Pastor William Parsons Lunt, asked him to write a poem and this was what Sears came up with.
A year later, composer Richard Storrs Willis, wrote the music that the poem goes with.
I choose the version done by Celtic Woman as they are a fantastic group.
Day 11) K is for Killer: Choose a book with a murderer
Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries #1) by Charlaine Harris
So you all know how much I love book sales.
Part of the fun is the mystery that you never know what you are going to find at a sale.
So one book sale I went to, it was the last day and they were trying to unload everything. It was a dollar a bag so I filled mine up with anything I found that sparked my interest.
I can’t help it, it is an addiction.
This one struck my eye as it was a mystery, involved a serial killer, and copying “real murders”.
This was during my “I want to be a behavioral psychologist” phase, before Criminal Minds came out, and I would read anything on the subject. So this idea of someone copying real murders seemed like a hit idea to me.
I enjoyed the book so much, that I reader it at least four times a year. The story is great, the characters fun, the mystery just perfect. It is a fantastic read and so engrossing! I just couldn’t put it down.
I was shocked when I discovered that this was the same Harris that wrote the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. I never would have made that connection as this isn’t as sex generated or full of supernatural characters.
And with Hallmark turning this book into a film, one that I can review for Horrorfest if I desire, what better time to choose to review this book?
Aurora “Roe” Teagarden is in her late twenties and lives a pretty quiet life in Lawrenceton, Georgia. She works as manager for her mother’s condos and as a librarian.
Her best friend moved away recently, and she isn’t seeing anyone romantically. The only other thing she is really involved in, is the club Real Murders.
A year ago there was a book signing of a true crime novel and several people from Lawrenceton traveled to the city to attend. When they realized they all shared an interest in true crime they created a group that meets once a month to discuss past crimes, try to figure out unsolved cases, and learn about police work or the criminal mind. Each time they meet a different person has a chance to create a program and share with the group.
Their group consists of Roe: Jane Engle, retired school librarian and substitute, specializing in Victorian murders, particularly Madeline Smith; LeMaster Cane, African-American and interested in the racial killings of the ’60s and ’70s, especially the Zebra murders and Jones-Piagentini shootings; John Queensland, Roe’s mother’s boyfriend, an expert on Lizzie Borden; Sally Allison, newspaper reporter; Perry Allison, Sally’s son, is not quite all there and shows an unhealthy interest in the Hillside Stranglers and the Green River killer; Gifford Doakes and his friend (boyfriend?) Reynaldo, who likes massacres such as St. Valentine’s Day or the Holocaust; Detective Arthur Smith, interested in studying old crimes and seeing how police worked the case; Bankston Waites and his girlfriend Melanie; Benjamin Greer, guy who has tried everything to “belong”; Gerald Wright and his jealous wife Mamie.
Tonight is Roe’s night to share and she is covering the Wallace case from the 1930s, where William Herbert Wallace was convicted for killing his wife Julia. She is a little nervous and heads over slightly early. This month Mamie is the opener of the VFW hall they rent, followed by Sally who is in charge of refreshments. When Roe gets there she looks around for the others, but instead receives a phone call asking to speak to Julia Wallace.
Roe cant find Mamie, but runs into Sally. As more people arrive, Roe finds it even odder they haven’t found Mamie in the building.
Surprisingly Elizabeth Ann “Lizanne” Buckley, the most beautiful and easily bored woman in town, comes to the meeting and brings Robin Crusoe, mystery writer.
Roe can’t brush off Mamie’s disappearance and starts searching the building for her. As she looks, she comes across her dead body.
Roe goes into shock over seeing her that way, but notices the similarities between this and the Wallace case. So eerily similar that someone must have copied it and arranged the body.
Everyone is subjected to long questioning, with Officer Arthur Smith making plans to meet with Roe the next day and get more information on the Wallace case.
The next day comes and Roe is finally able to give the talk she practiced.
Wallace Herbert Wallace was a Liverpool insurance salesman (like Gerald), and married with no children (just like the Wrights). Wallace had a regular schedule for collecting insurance payments from subscribers to his company and he bring the money home on Tuesdays. Wallace played chess and was entered in the tournament at his local club. There was a chart on the wall detailing when each person would play, one anybody could see.
Wallace didn’t have a phone at home and received a message from another member who had taken a call from a “Qualtrough” to meet him at his house the next evening.
Now the call came when Wallace wasn’t at the club so he could have left it himself at a phone booth down the way. H talks about the message with his friends at the club; is he puzzled or just trying to instill the message in other’s minds?
The next night Wallace goes out to meet Qualtrough. Qualtrough left the address Menlove Gardens East, but no such place exists. Wallace asks many people for help, even a policeman. Is he set on getting the new client or is he just trying to create an alibi?
Wallace returns home but his key won’t work. Julia has bolted the front door for some reason and won’t answer any knocks on the door. A couple who lives next door hears him as he heads in the back to get into the house; Wallace and the couple enter the house and see things out of place.
The box where the insurance money is usually held has been rifled. Wallace checks the house and finds his wife in the parlor, a room rarely used. Julia is lying in front of the gas fire with a raincoat under her, and she has been beaten to death brutally, but not raped; just like Mamie.
There was no real case against Wallace, just a lot of circumstantial evidence and pressure to arrest the killer.
Roe is absolutely disgusted with this killer. They killed Mamie not because she was Mamie or they had an issue with her; something that would be partially understood psychologically, but only because she was an insurance salesman’s wife and childless.
Later Roe heads to the store and right into Robin Crusoe. Robin is interested in the case, and wants to know more along with getting away from his disheveled house.
While he is there a package comes to Roe, but it is actually for her mother, Aida Teagarden, and sent by Roe’s father. Roe lets her know and she comes right over. The package is Mrs. See’s chocolate, her favorite!
But it is a bit odd that Roe’s father, Aida’s ex, would send her chocolate; and even stranger that it took six days to get from the city, an hour away.
Aida opens up the container and picks up a caramel filled one, when Roe notices that there is a puncture underneath.
She stops her mom and they look at all the cream filled ones. They all have punctures.
Arthur and his partner, Lynn Ligget, come to question the group about the event and later it is revealed that the chocolates were poisoned. This murder copies the Botkin Case, as it appears someone is trying to kill all those in the group, or their family, copying real murders.
Aurora calls a meeting of Real Murders to see if they can figure out who the killer might be, who dislikes any of them? But no one is helpful and the group disbands.
Unfortunately that does not stop the killing, as Benjamin Greer’s boss, potential mayoral candidate is killed in the bathtub, the same way as Marat during the French Revolution.
Meanwhile, amidst the killings, Roe has struck the interest of Robin and Arthur. Both men she finds very attractive, and who will win out as the series progresses? (For me I like Robin. Arthur is too egotistical and just expects her to go along with him even though he doesn’t really ask her like he should.)
But Roe has more on her mind than love, what murder will be copied next and which of her friends will be the next victim?
I won’t reveal any more as the ending is great. You will definitely have to check this book out for yourself. What a twist!
The other thing I like about this is that it isn’t gruesome but very intellectual, with all the past true crime that was researched, it is just fascinating to boot.
So the other day I went to the bookstore, and you know how much I love that.
But this time I had a plan. I had far too many books at home that I had yet to read; so I wasn’t going to buy myself anything, just birthday shop for my friend.
But then when I started looking I found all these books half off.
So I grabbed a bunch I liked along with some potentials for my friend. But then I looked at the bargain books. They were beautiful hardcover classics and oh, my I wanted them all.
So there I was with stacks of books, looking and wanting them all.
Nothing else I seem to have this problem, except with books.
But then reality hit me. I already needed more shelf space, and really have books spilling everywhere.
So I did one of the hardest things, I had to put some of the books back.
Instead I bought one book, a selection of stories from One Thousand and One Nights, in a beautiful hardcover book for only $8.
I then bought a copy of Tarzan of the Apes for $2.50; a steal of a deal.
But then I had to do something with all the books I wasn’t taking home. So I stacked them on top of each other and carried them around the store putting them back. One of the employees saw me and asked if I needed a cart, but said no I was putting things back. He was worried about me carrying so many. But I was like I work in a library, I do heavy lifting like this all the time.