Tag Archives: Donald E. Westlake

BBAW meme



Here’s my next post in our continuing celebration of Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  The instructions were to just pick a few or to answer them all in 5 words or less.  Yeah, not so much with the brevity, but I did my best.  Enjoy learning a bit more about how I read, and please leave comments sharing your own reading habits.  You should also check out the main site for 2009 BBAW: http://bookbloggerappreciationweek.com

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?

I like to eat sweets when I’m reading, especially since most of my reading time these days is on Sunday evenings.  A few Oreos or brownies hit the spot.


Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

Oh, I’m a scribbler, as those of you who have been following my Ulysses graffiti know.  The more “proper Literature” the novel, the more likely it is to get this treatment.  I do, however, draw the line at writing in library books.  That’s just bad manners (ok, I’ve copy-edited one or two, but I couldn’t help myself… really…)


How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?  Laying the book flat open?

I’m rough on my books– dogearring pages left, right, and center; laying books open flat for months at a time until I get back to them; underlining bits I really need to remember.  And yet, for all of my admittedly abusive behavior, I’ve only ever lost the spines on one or two. 


Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

Generally, I’m a Fiction girl through and through, but this summer I’ve strayed into Non-fiction and quite enjoyed “Julie and Julia.”  

Hard copy or audiobooks?

Hard copy is my bread and butter, but I do love a great audio book.  During my winter-time commutes (when I leave in the dark and come home in the dark), a rivoting audio book makes me actually wish for the traffic to be worse, so that I can listen to the end of the chapter.


Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?

I tend to read to the end of the chapter– wait, let’s be truthful here… I promise myself I will just read to the end of the chapter, and then I end up reading 3 more chapters before I absolutely MUST put it down and go and do real work. 


If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

I’m a bit of a word collector, so I try to look them up and then, if I find it interesting, jot it down in my little book.
What are you currently reading?

I nearly always have multiple books going at once.  Currently, I’m reading “Watch Your Back!” by Donald E. Westlake, “The Code of the Woosters” by P. G. Wodehouse, and “A Beautiful Blue Death” by Charles Finch.  All of them are very good in distinctly unique ways.
What is the last book you bought?

“Lust, Loathing, and a Little Lip Gloss” by Kyra Davis– It’s going to be my new bath book when I finish with Wodehouse.
Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?

As you can tell from my currently-reading list above, I’m a multi-book reader.  I have no trouble juggling plots and characters in my head– especially since I tend to have a bunch of very different books going, and pick them up according to the way I’m feeling at the moment.  I like to have a fluffy & fun “bath book,” a serious mystery, and a clever book going at any one time.


Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? 

I really like reading a great mystery novel on a late afternoon during a rollicking thunderstorm.
Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

I tend to really fall in love with characters and stories, so series novels are usually how I roll.     
Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?

I love recommending Laurie R. King’s work– every single one of them are delicious– to people who like mysteries and strong writing.  Then, of course, I have my sci-fi favorite of Douglas Adams.
How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)

I organize my shelves superficially by author and genre, but most of the books are actually gathered into emotional groups– so that I can easily pick a book by what I Feel like reading at the time.  My dvds and cds are actually organized this way as well.

the last saturday of summer


It’s Saturday again, and you all know what that means… it’s Library Day!

Best snags today– newest Dorothy Cannell mystery; “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”; and “The Hound of the Baskervilles” with Jeremy Brett as Holmes.  (What is that I smell?  A comparison post?  Yummo!)

Check out my sidebar for the rest of my lovely swag.

And yes, coming this evening to a blog near you– Douglas Adams appreciation.  Watch this space.

new books


Ah, once again, ’tis Saturday, and so I have scads of new books from the library. 


Big scores today: new Mary Janice Davidson & “The Angel’s Game” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon!

For the rest, come and check out my library bag sidebar links.

(Ah, and for those of you who remember Nickelodeon’s show “Today’s Special,” there is a bonus treat.)

a little bit louder and a little bit worse


title: Baby, Would I Lie?

author: Donald E. Westlake

series: this is a sequel to “Trust Me on This”

summary: Reporter Sara Joslyn and her editor Jack Ingersol are back, now working for respectable, cultural weekly magazine “Trend.”  They are covering the infamous trial of country-singer Roy Clark.  When Sara notices the shenanigans of their old colleages from the Weekly Galaxy, Jack determines to expose them.  In the meantime, Roy seems to be playing some game of his own.

I have to admit that I’m in two minds about this one.  I’m pleased to spend more time with Sara and Jack.  The hijinks of the Weekly Galaxy team are fun.  The author’s attitude about country music was refreshingly positive.  There were several twists and turns in the plot that kept me reading.  Overall, a fun read; however, a few things really bothered me, which is why I had to give this one a bit of thought.

1– The constant descriptions of the tourists as fat, polyester-clad, fast-food-guzzling people with whiny children got on my nerves.  I get it, already.  Enough.

2– Part of what made the previous novel so much fun was rooting for the Weekly Galaxy crew to get away with their ridiculous stunts.  Now that Jack and Sara are legitimate journalists, though, they have certainly developed a “holier-than-thou” attitude.  Here, Jack goes out of his way, pretty determinedly, to nail the Galaxians.  Not only hypocritical, but actually tainting the previous novel.  After all, they are quite lovable rogues.

3– The last bit that really threw me off was {spoiler alert} when Binx, the anxious and over-morgaged editor from the Weekly Galaxy, callously abandons his family, just because he wants an out from his confining life.  I get that he wants to escape and that this decision represents his finally taking control of his life; however, the fact that Jack and Sara (our eyes into the story) respect Binx after he leaves his wife and children abruptly and without notice really bothers my sensiblities.

Now, other than my issues with the plot, a nice novel that I did enjoy reading.  I’m very much looking forward to the up-coming final Dortmunder novel next month.

For more on Westlake, check below:


coming soon…


I just finished reading “Baby, Would I Lie?” by Donald E. Westlake.  I want to think about it for a bit before I write a review, so expect one tomorrow or so. 

In the meantime, go and watch Doctor Who on BBC America tonight.  Huzzah!  [ok, so it’s far from the best episode, but it is AN episode, so enjoy it and then come and read my review here.]

are you a literary geek? umm, yes.


A Literary Geek Meme

Thanks kindly to House of Duck, who let me borrow it.

1) What author do you own the most books by?

Lillian Jackson Braun– well, she did write over 30!  I think I own 8?  A close runner up would be Elizabeth Peters.  I think I have 6 or 7 of hers.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?

William Shakespeare’s plays– I’ve got 2 “complete” copies, and several versions of individual plays in paperback

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

Yes.  Yes, it does.  I do teach grammar, after all.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Sherlock Holmes– have been since I saw Jeremy Brett playing him; Laurie R. King has just encouraged me

4a) What fictional character would you most like to be?

Anne of Green Gables– who wouldn’t want to live on P.E.I and love Gilbert?

4b) What fictional character do you think most resembles you?

Polly from “The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew”– go on.  read it and see.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life?

“The Outlaws of Sherwood” by Robin McKinley– I used to read it every six months when I was in school

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

Ohh.. that’s hard.  I started on adult novels pretty early.  I think by ten I was into Agatha Christies’ s “Tuesday Club Murders”

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Wow, hmmm… this is difficult b/c I don’t tend to start books that I’m not already pretty sure I’m going to like.  Maybe “Miracle Myx”? (see my review here)

8 ) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

 I think “At Home in Mitford”by Jan Karon– it’s a soft, pastor-in-a-small-town novel.  I laughed, I cried, and I immediately went and read the rest of the series straight through.  Then my dad did as well.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?

“Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  It is fabulous, gothic, and about the love of books.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?

JK Rowling. Screw proper “literature” and the snobs.  Anyone who can get my 7th graders to read multiple 400+ page novels deserves this prize in my book!

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

I want to see “The Hobbit” done by the same crew who did such a great job with LotR.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

“The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” by Laurie R. King– one of my favorite books, so I don’t want it spoilt

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

Sometimes when my brothers were little and I had to read “Green Eggs and Ham” to them all of the time, I’d find myself reciting it in my sleep.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?

The Ranma 1/2 mangas

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

“The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Crime and Punishment” are tied here– I had to make charts half-way through just to keep all of the name changes straight;

however, I think “Ulysses” is going to take the cake, once I have finished it.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?

A Winter’s Tale

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

The French: “they don’t care what they do, actually– as long as they pronounce it properly” 🙂 [hint- quotation from the same source as my blog’s name]

18) Roth or Updike?

Updike– I like his rewrite of the Hamlet story: “Gertrude and Claudius”

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

Dave Eggers– who else would have the guts to call his novel/ memoir: “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”?!

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

Shakespeare, any day.

21) Austen or Eliot?

Austen– but I actually prefer the film adaptations on these.  I had a bad experience with “Middlemarch” and haven’t yet forgiven Eliot.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

Eliot, Austen, Bronte– that sort of thing.

23) What is your favorite novel?

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

24) Play?

“The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan– I like musical theatre.

25) Poem?

“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

26) Essay?

Mark Twain on the inadequacies of James Fenimore Cooper

27) Short story?

oh, really, any of the Jeeves stories by P. G. Wodehouse

28) Work of non-fiction?

Harold Bloom on Hamlet

29) Who is your favorite writer?

Laurie R. King.  I’ve read, I think, everything she’s written, and they are all exceptional.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Toni Morrison.  I’m sorry, but all of her books are really the same basic characters and themes.

31) What is your desert island book?

“The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: a five-book trilogy

32) And … what are you reading right now?

I am reading the following. I jump around based on my mood, where the book is in the house, and how much time I’ve got:

“Ulysses” by James Joyce

“Baby, Would I Lie?” by Donald E. Westlake

“A Beautiful Blue Death” by Charles Finch

How did you do?  Are you a literary geek too?  Drop me a comment below. 

trust me on this one


Title: Trust Me on This (1988)                                                                                    trust me... read it

Author: Donald E. Westlake

Sequel: “Baby, Would I Lie?” (1994)  see my review here.

Summary: As a new “reporter” for the outrageous tabloid “Weekly Galaxy,” Sara Joslyn must track down (or invent) the stories demanded by her irascible editor Jack Ingersoll.  Soon, she is part of a series of increasingly calamitous capers on the Galaxy’s behalf.  One little problem– on Sara’s first day on the job, she discovered a dead body.

I LOVE Westlake’s “John Dortmunder” series!  (If you want to know why they are so good, go and read Laurel L. Russwurm’s excellent post LOL: The Dortmunder Novels.)  Anyway, since this is one of his other caper novels outside of the Dortmunder series, I figured I’d try it out, and I was not disappointed.  Certainly, some of the tricks we see here get used again in later books, but it was great fun. 

Sara and Jack make a strong team, and like most partnerships, theirs gets off to a rocky start; however, Sara soon proves she is very capable of working within the insane and surreal world of tabloid journalism.  For example, instead of cubicles, the editors of the “Weekly Galaxy” work in squaricles, which are made up on black tape outlines on the floor; yet, everyone in the offices treats these lines as walls and does not cross them.  Our narrator is a detached third person limited, shifting between Sara and Jack, with occasional sidelines to other characters.  The author, though, does use the beginning of the book to have “A Word in Your Ear.”

The Jack Ingersoll team engages in anything-goes tactics to get their money shot and quote; the harder the shot, the more they want it.  Thus, the merely difficult quickly rolls into the realms of absurdity.  I found myself laughing out loud at several points.  Through it all, though, Westlake creates characters that the reader can recognize and understand, and (in the cases of Sara and Jack) care about.  They may be on a fool’s errand, but you want them to succeed.

  The novel is divided into sections, beginning with “The First Day,” and chronicling Sara’s adventures with the 100 year old twins, the celebrity wedding, the body in a box, and culminating with “The Way We Live This Instant.”  Westlake weaves multiple sub-plots throughout his main plot, ensuring that the reader doesn’t get a chance to be bored anywhere in the book’s nearly 300 pages.  The story careens like an express train from South Florida (very accurate description of an expressway in the ‘Glades, by the way), to Indiana, Martha’s Vineyard, Chesapeake Bay, and New York City.

The only problem with this novel is that you might have a hard time finding a copy.  My local library had an original hardback from 1988, but they’re good like that.  Looking around online to find the cover art, I had a difficult time even getting anything other than a bibliography to appear.  So, good luck– it’s worth a bit of a search around.

Here are my best online finds: