Susan's ROOT Project for 2021 (2)

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Discussão2021 ROOT CHALLENGE

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Susan's ROOT Project for 2021 (2)

Editado: Abr 1, 2021, 8:12 am

Hello, I'm Susan. I did this challenge a few years ago, when it was called BOMBS, I think, but it didn't go well due to all the shiny new stuff at the library. However, with my library running only a very slender service at the moment (and England probably going into total lockdown again any day now) I don't think there will be so much shiny new stuff to tempt me this year.

I'm going to try and read 50 books of my own - hard copy (not many) and Kindle (hundreds). I'm going to include books bought in 2021 - I wouldn't have such a stack of TBRs if I actually read them as I bought them. I tried to do that in the second half of 2020 and it did cut down the amount I bought.

I'll include everything I read on this thread, but only the ROOTs will have numbers next to them and those are the ones included in my ticker.

Shamelessly copying Julia's idea (Hi Julia!) I'm going to list my acquisitions too.

Editado: Jul 28, 2021, 4:09 am

2021 Acquisitions

1. The Once and Future Witches
2. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
3. West With Giraffes (a Kindle First Read)
4. The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths
5. Long Bright River by Liz Moore
6. Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
7. The Other Mrs by Mary Kubica
8. Dead Famous by Greg Jenner
9. The Wedding Game by Meghan Quinn
10. The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish
11. Jews Don't Count by David Baddiel
12. Bloodline by Jess Lourey
13. The Coppersmith Farmhouse by Devney Perry
14. Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art by Rebecca Wragg Sykes
15. Red Heat by Alex von Tunzelmann
16. The Boundless Sea by David Abulafia
17. Written in Bone by Sue Black
18. Airhead by Emily Maitlis
19. Blitzed by Norman Ohler
20. Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker
21. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
22. The Next Wife by Kaira Rouda
23. Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan
24. The Burning by Laura Bates
25. Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
26. The Darkest Flower by Kristin Wright
27. Love in the Blitz by Eileen Alexander
28. The Pinocchio Brief by Abi Silver
29. Frostquake by Juliet Nicolson
30. The Survivors by Jane Harper
31. The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan
32. The Appeal by Janice Hallett
33. The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths
34. Trouble in Nuala
35. Built on a Lie by Owen Walker
36. The World for Sale by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy
37. Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
38. The Sleeping Beauties by Suzanne O'Sullivan

Abr 1, 2021, 8:14 am

My focus book for April is going to be Tom Jones, which I'm buddy-reading with Mamie (Hi Mamie!). I'm going to start it this afternoon as it's very long and I think I'll need most of the days in April to finish it. But I'm on holiday and it's a long weekend, so I should get a good start if I don't get sucked into endless TV...

Abr 1, 2021, 8:24 am

Happy new one, Susan! I am also planning on starting Tom Jones this afternoon. This morning I am taking Abby to an appointment with a pain management doctor - cross your fingers for her that he can help her. We have heard very good things about him, so we are hopeful.

Hoping your holiday and long weekend are full of fabulous.

Abr 1, 2021, 8:55 am

Happy new thread, Susan!

Abr 1, 2021, 9:02 am

Happy new thread! A long book sounds perfect for a long weekend.

Abr 1, 2021, 9:03 am

Happy new thread! I'm hoping to get some good reading done over the long weekend as well!

Abr 1, 2021, 12:27 pm

Happy new thread, Susan. Enjoy your time off and all of the wonderful books you're going to read :)

Abr 1, 2021, 4:46 pm

Yay the long weekend... may yours be work email free.

Abr 2, 2021, 3:57 am

>4 Crazymamie: Mamie, I had my fingers crossed and I hope the appointment was helpful.

>5 katiekrug: Thanks Katie!

>6 rabbitprincess: Thanks RabbitPrincess - I'm hoping to make some good progress with it.

>7 Jackie_K: Thanks Jackie - I think the weather is going to help us stay inside this weekend. It's supposed to be 5C on Monday! In London!

>8 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks Reba!

>9 charl08: Thanks Charlotte - all is quiet on the email front so far. Most of the Young People I work with are on holiday for a week or two (our holiday year ends at the end of this month) so I'm hopeful.

The Next Great Migration arrived at the elibrary for me this morning, so I've downloaded it and I'll start it later. Then I got an email from the hard-copy library to say that a reserve is ready to pick up, which is interesting because I suspended them all until June...I might walk over tomorrow and return the books I've had out since before Christmas. They keep extending the due dates but virus numbers are pretty low in London now so I think I can venture back to return them and pick up my reserve and then skedaddle.

Abr 2, 2021, 10:41 am

Happy new thread, Susan. Good luck with Tom Jones. He's on my list to tackle on day, but I already have one long book on the go.

I know, weather gone from quite warm to cold again, just as everything's started trying to bloom. Hoping the blossom survives, otherwise that impacts on the number of plums I get come autumn - and that matters.

Abr 3, 2021, 6:44 am

Happy New Thread and Happy Easter, Susan!

Abr 3, 2021, 7:11 am

> 11 Thanks Helen. I've read ten chapters but I've been sidetracked by The Next Great Migration, which I started last night and have now read 60% of. It's fascinating from a history of science point of view, although there is lots I don't agree with.

>12 connie53: Thanks Connie - you too!

Someone in the UK won the EuroMillions last night (£122 million) but sadly it wasn't me. I did win £3.50, though...

UK Christopher Paolini fans may want to snap up To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, which is a Kindle Daily Deal today. It's a very recent release. I also saw something saying they had 100 cookbooks on sale (maybe for Kindle) for Easter.

Abr 4, 2021, 5:55 am

The Next Great Migration by Sonia Shah

There are lots of parts of this book that are really good - particularly on the history and migration of various human and flora/fauna populations over gazillions of years. But there's also quite a bit about the efforts of European scientists to work out how everything was related (or not) and that was the "white people are evil" message in the book, which seems to be required for every book proposal. I keep waiting for a writer to explain not just how white people got things wrong, but how "meanwhile, in India/China/Africa etc scholars had worked out the actual truth, which has been available in books for years if only Europeans had bothered to read them." And yet I never see that. Odd.

There's also a lot of cheerleading for migration on the basis that migrants are *excellent* (better than those white people) and bring all sorts of amazing things to their new countries. The less amazing things are ignored or excused. For example, in Germany on New Year's Eve 2015 there were a huge number of sexual assaults on women by Muslim immigrants ( This is accepted to have happened and even the author agrees that it did. But this is what she goes on to say:

"In the summer of 2017, an NPR reporter examined the reports of rising crime in Germany. The attacks on New Year's Eve had transpired, he found, but may not have been exceptional. Sexual violence in Germany, as elsewhere, constituted an ongoing crisis, with over seven thousand rapes and sexual assaults reported every year, affecting more than a third of women in the country."

In other words, the locals already rape plenty of women so importing men who rape even more women is just fine. (Interestingly, I looked up the index of the book to find this part again, and the index lists it under "Germany, and anti-immigrant backlash").


So there was lots of this that I didn't agree with, and I think some of the "assimilation within a generation" figures must be averages, because they certainly don't hold true where I live. Children are instead sent off to be jihadis and ISIS brides and no-one in authority dares to say too much for fear of being cancelled.

I found the flora/fauna parts of the book more interesting, and I wished there had been more of them. Even *trees* migrate (as populations over time - not a Birnam Wood to Dunsinane-type situation). They gradually start growing further up mountains as the temperature rises.

I didn't go to the library yesterday for my reserve, which was just as well because I've received another pick-up notice, for the new(est) Jack Reacher novel. Yay! Maybe I suspended the reserves until 1 April and not 1 June. Anyway, I have Tuesday as holiday so I'll go over then.

Abr 4, 2021, 3:34 pm

>13 susanj67: 3.50 is more than I've ever won lol

Abr 4, 2021, 4:32 pm

>13 susanj67: Whoot! whoot! you're going to make hay on that winning!! Don't blow it all at once. >;-)

>14 susanj67: mmm. Maybe not.

Abr 5, 2021, 6:05 am

>15 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I win the little EuroMillions prizes quite a bit, but never yet the big one :-)

>16 Helenliz: Helen, I'll do my best to eke it out. Actually it's three Kindle Daily Deal books, so that's something.

The National Lottery sends an email in the middle of the night after the EuroMillions draws,with the title line "News about your ticket!". This means you've won a prize, but you can't log into the website until the morning as they do maintenance overnight. So if you happen to see the email in the middle of the night, and then you see a news item saying there's been one UK winner of a giant prize, it can be hard to get back to sleep. :-) I was checking my account on Saturday morning and noticed that I still had £4 in my online wallet, which has been there for years. I usually only buy tickets for EuroMillions, but as the Lotto draw on Saturday was a "must be won" £12.5 million I bought a ticket for it. And one for tonight's "£10,000 per month for 30 years" draw. I got the confirmation emails for my purchases and shortly afterwards I got one about problem gambling :-) My Saturday ticket won me a free Lucky Dip ticket for Wednesday's Lotto draw so I still have my fingers crossed :-)

I'm making decent progress with Tom Jones - I've read the first three books. But today I have a stack of book review supplements to get through, so I plan to do those with the Pick channel on in the background as it has several New Zealand programmes today. I've just watched Border Patrol, which is always hilarious. The snarky voiceover is excellent :-)

Abr 5, 2021, 7:29 am

Hooray for winning - anything is better than nothing, so well done you.

I have read the first two books in Tom Jones, and I like the humor. I looked up the author and was surprised to learn that he founded the Bow Street Runners.

Abr 5, 2021, 7:44 am

>17 susanj67: At least it's going on a good cause then. >:-)

Abr 6, 2021, 6:51 am

>18 Crazymamie: Mamie, yes, people used to do more things in those days, I think. I love the very-present narrator and his rambly commentary :-)

>19 Helenliz: Helen, yes, it will!

17. Something to Talk About by Meryl Wisner

This. Is. Terrible. There's about enough plot for a novella and yet it's a 316-page novel. And it goes on and ON, round and round, mostly in the characters' own heads. Every single woke box is ticked, so it's pretty much a write-by-numbers exercise, careful to offend no-one, to speak everyone's truth and so on.

This morning I went to the library to pick up the two reserves that had come in. I haven't been all year and it turns out I haven't missed anything. We can't go in at all now - we have to stand at the door, hand over our returns and say our name and then one of the staff goes and gets the reserved books and checks them out. And that's it. I wonder how much it will change from Monday when libraries are allowed to open again. At least my returns have been checked back in again, and I have two free reserve slots now so I'll have to fill those up ASAP. Heh.

I have today as holiday (like most of the rest of the firm, if the lack of emails is anything to go by) so I have the afternoon free to read Jack Reacher and then I can return him later in the week. First, though, I've got two episodes of Police Ten 7 and then two episodes of Motorway Patrol. I love Motorway Patrol, which is the NZ police chasing bogans up and down the state highways. They come across lots of people walking aimlessly in places they're not supposed to be (like the hard shoulder, and crossing lanes of traffic. The best one I've seen was two teens walking over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, which is thrillingly naughty but most Aucklanders have wondered what it would be like). "What are you doing" asked one officer yesterday, with no question mark, as he rolled down his window. The young man didn't seem to know, but might have been going back somewhere for a shirt he'd left behind. Or not. Most get driven home to sleep off the booze.

Abr 6, 2021, 6:53 am

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Abr 6, 2021, 7:18 am

>20 susanj67: Oops, I was going to say one to avoid then, but it looks as if I also bought the Meryl Wisner in a Kindle offer a few weeks ago. Reading the blurb I'm not even sure why.

Abr 6, 2021, 8:16 am

>20 susanj67: taking a pass on that one then.
>21 SophiaBurns: That's a dilemma - to read (because you've bought it) or to discard...

Abr 6, 2021, 9:11 am

>23 Helenliz: Not really a dilemma - it might take me a few years or decades to get to, but as it's an ebook it really isn't taking up space.

Abr 6, 2021, 10:45 am

>20 susanj67: Oh dear! Hope your next read is a better one.

Abr 6, 2021, 2:38 pm

>22 elkiedee: Luci, I thought the premise sounded really good, but the execution let it down.

>23 Helenliz: Helen, I'd say it's a hard pass.

>24 elkiedee: That's the tempting yet dangerous thing about ebooks!

>25 charl08: Thanks Charlotte. I think I'll read a bit more of Tom Jones tonight. I didn't get to Jack this afternoon - I finished The Investigation on the iPlayer instead. Very well done (albeit subtitled so you have to concentrate). It's markedly different from the usual true-crime dramatisation, but I won't say why in case you haven't seen it. If you have then you'll know what I mean...

Abr 6, 2021, 3:04 pm

>26 susanj67: Oh yes, it's great, isn't it. Mum and I were gripped. Although half way through I had to admit that I had read about it in the papers, so 'knew the ending'. Sort of. I listened to a podcast about why they made it the way they did - but annoyingly can't now remember the name of it.

Abr 7, 2021, 4:10 am

>27 charl08: Yes, I'd also read about what made it different and I was really impressed at seeing how they did it. And yet it was so easy to do it. It says a lot about the usual balance between the offender's story and the victim's story on-screen.

I read book 4 of Tom Jones last night, and I really want to hunt out a movie or mini-series version of it when I've finished. I think I have the most recent series on DVD somewhere as a freebie from the Daily Mail when they still did those DVD giveaways.

Abr 7, 2021, 2:32 pm

Hi Susan, Just dropping by to let you know that I've finished listening to Pandora's Jar, as read by the author and I cannot fault your estimation of it. Intelligence, wit and snark all rolled into one neat package. Superb.

Abr 7, 2021, 3:45 pm

>28 susanj67: I think what made a lasting impression on me was the willingness not to have that conflict at the heart of the story: no dramatic showdowns in the interview room (does that ever really happen in RL?)

Abr 8, 2021, 9:27 am

>29 Helenliz: Helen, that's great to hear!

>30 charl08: Charlotte, yes, it gave the whole thing a totally different feel. I'm going to read up some more about it and try and find the podcast you mentioned.

Meanwhile, I've finished book 5 of Tom Jones, and I think I read about half of book 6 last night before deciding I'd better go to sleep. I had an earlyish start this morning with a Zoom training session for some Young People from outside the firm, so I spent the whole night having dreams in which I either forgot to log on in time or tried and tried but couldn't. Aargh. In real life it all went fine, of course, because I have *never* forgotten to log on. I have, however, worked out why my Surface Pro refuses to shut flat, which is usually how I have it as it's connected to a monitor. When I opened it today for the camera I saw that the screen has come unstuck from the casing on one side, which is...weird. I can see the gubbins inside it, which isn't really supposed to happen. I don't have the emotional stamina to get a new one from IT, so I'll just cross my fingers and start moving all the locally-saved documents onto The System.

Abr 11, 2021, 11:50 am

The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew Child

This is Reacher 25 (!) and it's the first one co-written with the author's younger brother, who will be taking over the franchise. It's just as good as all the others, so I think we have many more years of Reacher ahead of us, which is fabulous news :-)

Editado: Abr 18, 2021, 6:18 am

The Way to the Sea: The Forgotten Histories of the Thames Estuary by Caroline Crampton

This is a great read and it's giving me many more book suggestions which I had to keep stopping to write down or look up. The author's South African parents sailed to the UK before she was born, and spent their first few months on their boat at St Katharine Docks, which is just along the river from me. Then they moved down to the Isle of Sheppey, where the author was born. She grew up knowing the area incredibly well (and thinking that going by boat was the way you got to places) and in this book she travels from where the Thames rises right down to where it becomes part of the sea. From Limehouse she sails with her parents on their boat and the book is a mix of that trip plus other trips that she made to look in more detail at places afterwards. It fits together incredibly well and made me slightly ashamed that I've never even made it down as far as the Thames Barrier. But so much of what she says about the river is familiar even to people who live further upstream, and I loved it. Very highly recommended it you like reading about London or rivers of any sort.

ETA: I'd recommend the hard copy because it has excellent hand-drawn maps at the beginning of the book, and they include all of the places the author mentions in the text, which is not often the case.

In exciting news, we're allowed back in the office from tomorrow, and we can sit in our own offices rather than in the open-plan area downstairs. I plan to be there bright and early and already I'm collecting up things to take with me. It's voluntary at this stage but even when we're all vaccinated and the nightmare is over we're going to be allowed to work from home up to 50% of the time. I definitely won't be.

Abr 18, 2021, 7:16 am

>33 susanj67: That sounds great - I've added it to my wishlist.

Enjoy your change of office scenery tomorrow!

Abr 19, 2021, 8:21 am

>34 Jackie_K: Thanks Jackie! I am having a lovely day. There's hardly anyone here but just the change of scenery is wonderful.

I went over to the library at lunchtime to return a couple of things and two reserves were waiting for me. They are:

The Death of the Gods: The New Global Power Grab
A Place for Everything, which is about the history of alphabetical order.

They must have come in this morning because I haven't received an email about them yet. The library website says that we can only browse a small selection of books but at my branch they let me loose on the whole collection, which was lovely. There is So Much New Stuff! But the only other thing I borrowed was The Haunting of Alma Fielding. Visits are still limited to "about 15 minutes" and we're not allowed to touch anything without either borrowing it or taking it to a trolley for quarantine, but I am used to not touching now. There is phone/wi-fi reception near the door if I want to look something up to see what it's about. Now I have to fill up the two empty places on my reserve list :-)

Abr 19, 2021, 9:42 am

Yay for a change of scenery!

Abr 19, 2021, 10:24 am

>36 katiekrug: Katie, yes! I should also give an honourable mention to the boiling water tap in the kitchen, which is another plus. Also not knowing what's for lunch until I go and buy it.

I've filled up my reserve list again, so I may soon be back to going across twice a week (or more). Today I was the only one looking at the books. There were a couple of people on the computers but everyone else was staff. On the way back to the office I walked through Wood Wharf, which is the new bit of Canary Wharf, just to check on what they'd been doing and see whether I approved of it. There's been tons of progress, and the two floating pavilions that are going to be restaurants were floated in last week, so that's exciting. The square outside my office has been partly astro-turfed and has seats and picnic tables, which is a nice touch. I think there are other areas like that around the estate and I plan to walk around at lunchtime this week and have a good look.

Abr 19, 2021, 10:44 am

Susan, I am so happy for your change of scenery - most exciting! And how wonderful to be able to go back to your very own space. The exploring sounds fun. I have mostly been exploring the screened-in porch here at the Pecan Paradisio - it's lovely weather for it right now, and I feel like I have to soak it up before it returns to its default temperatures of hell-like. We have actually had a gorgeous Spring, so I cannot complain. Thank you for your positive thoughts for Abby - the pain management is helping her to make forward progress, which is so great to finally see. She has even been able to get into the pool several days a week - so full of fabulous that it makes me want to cry.

How is Tom Jones coming? I am loving it - the narrator and his ramblings and digressions crack me up. I ended up picking it up on audio so that I can listen while doing other things, and it works perfectly that way for me. I have just finished book nine, so I have made it past the halfway point. Where are you?

Abr 19, 2021, 12:07 pm

So glad to hear your re-entry into office life is going well, if quietly :) I especially like "not knowing what's for lunch until I go and buy it".

Abr 19, 2021, 1:25 pm

>38 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie! That's great news about Abby - I hope she continues to make progress. I've just finished book 8 of Tom Jones, so I'm a little bit behind you but I'm going to try and read some more tonight. Your screened porch sounds lovely - it's still a bit cool for that here, but we are hoping for summer at some stage.

>39 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba! Today's lunch was a beet and feta pot with rocket (arugula) and pumpkin seeds, and a crunchy bread roll. Then a banana and a natural unsweetened yoghurt for afterwards. I managed not to buy any carp from the vending machine for the whole day. *Proud*.

The tube was very quiet on the way home. Usually at Canary Wharf we have to queue to get onto a train (and it can take five or six trains on a bad day). But now I can just walk onto the platform and get on the first one that comes along.

Abr 19, 2021, 1:30 pm

>35 susanj67: - Who knew alphabetical order had a history? Of course, I know that there must be at least some sort of history to it, but I never dreamed that it was enough to write a book about. Looking forward to hearing more about it, Susan.

And congratulations on your return to an actual, real work place! I know that I would certainly prefer going to an office over working at home all of the time.

Abr 19, 2021, 1:38 pm

It's currently 72F here (22.2 C), so perfect weather for porching. And there's a nice breeze today making it pretty much perfect, IMO.

Lunch sounds great except for the part about the beets. And hooray for being able to just get on the very first train that comes along.

Abr 19, 2021, 1:46 pm

Excellent being back in the office. I went in for 1 day last week and it was sooooo nice. Hope it all settles down into a rhythm

I almost borrowed A Place for Everything, but decided it might be better on paper than audiobook. Interested to see what you make of that one.

Abr 22, 2021, 4:45 am

>41 Fourpawz2: Hi Charlotte! Yes, I was a bit surprised that alphabetical order had a history. I just seems...obvious. I haven't started it yet but I plan to this weekend.

>42 Crazymamie: Mamie, I'm giggling about the beets :-) On Tuesday I splurged and went to Wasabi, which is a takeaway place in the main mall that does sushi and bento boxes. The queue is usually so insane that I've never been before, but there are no queues now. I bought their chicken katsu curry box, which has the chicken in a separate little container at the top so that it stays crisp for as long as you want it to. It was excellent, although they only have one size, and it's what my grandma would have described as "man-sized", so I ate it with a faint sense of ancestral judgement. Women she disapproved of at her rest home were often said to "have a man-sized porridge at breakfast, you know". Yesterday I went to Marks & Spencer and bought their "hot" salmon (hot as in peppery - it was in the fridge cabinet) salad with new potatoes. There was a dressing on the potatoes and a lemon vinaigrette in a little container and it was fab-u-lous. I can't wait to see what today holds :-)

>43 Helenliz: Helen, it's settling into a very nice rhythm and there are so few of us here that there's the "little gang" feeling that we had in Sept/Oct last year. Everyone says hello and waves as they move around the building. We now have to give our details to the receptionist when we arrive as well as swiping in, so I've made myself a sheet of paper with my name, pass number, floor and extension number on it and I just hold that up to the plastic screen and they giggle. But it does save two lots of voices repeating things and spreading air. On the other side it has my name and "I arrived today at" and then a gap for a post-it note where I can write the time, because they have to go back through the book and sign you out again. I'm sure it's all research for when we reopen fully. They've also brought in a new and fabulous change to the printing system. We used to have individual printers, which they took away during lockdown 1. Then we had to link up to a printer nearby, which was a faff, particularly as we never knew which one was free. Now we have "follow-me printing", which means we send the print job to the follow-me address, go to *any* printer, swipe our pass and the printing comes out. IT'S LIKE MAGIC OMG.

The Water Will Come by Jeff Goodell

This is about low-lying areas of the world in danger of rising seas by the end of the century or maybe earlier. The author seems to be obsessed with Miami, which he keeps coming back to in the book, but he looks at other places as well, including Venice. It's well done although I am starting to wonder why I read these books as I won't be around to see what's happening at the end of the century and there's nothing I can do about it anyway.

Abr 22, 2021, 8:36 am

Your lunches sound most interesting. I'm very fond of bento boxes. Also glad the techno parts of your reentry are working smoothly.

Abr 22, 2021, 9:48 am

>45 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba! Yes, it is all going pretty smoothly so far. This morning the Jubilee line had "severe delays", which I only found out about when I'd crossed the river to get on it, but that just meant twice as many people per carriage as yesterday and there were still plenty of empty seats :-) Usually severe delays means ages of waiting in a packed station as people try to get onto packed trains. Today's lunch was a harissa chicken, couscous and lentil salad with a yoghurt dressing. Pretty good but it didn't beat the salmon, which is lunch of the week so far.

Abr 22, 2021, 9:52 am

I love hearing about your lunch adventures, Susan. Keep 'em coming. I'm getting inspiration...

Abr 23, 2021, 8:18 am

I'm still wanting a bento box...I think we're going to try to find a Japanese restaurant one of these days.

Editado: Abr 23, 2021, 8:35 am

>47 katiekrug: Hi Katie! Today was the salmon salad again, but instead of a banana and unsweetened yoghurt I bought a "yumnut". I'm not sure if those are a thing in the US, but it's a cross between a yum-yum and a doughnut. I'd never tried a yum-yum until last weekend I bought what I thought were two lemon and sultana danishes and they were yum-yums put in the wrong place on the shelf. So good!
M&S used to have their single items out unwrapped, but one benefit of the pandemic is that they're now all packaged in little boxes so I'm going to work my way through the yumnut range every Friday until I've tried them all: (A further benefit is that the boxes all have barcode stickers on them, so you can go through the self-service checkouts instead of having to queue).

I just got my first letter from my new penpal. The old scheme finished, but we were asked to carry on with a new pupil until the summer holidays. Mine is ten, like the last one. He introduced himself and then there was this:

Questions now Susan, Are you the manager? Are you single? As i support arsenal what club do you support? Will we be allies or rivals? Sorry I did not answer any Questions the reason is I accidentally lost my sheet.


I'm laughing out loud in my office. In New Zealand we would call him a "dag", which possibly only Kiwis will understand, but trust me.

Abr 23, 2021, 8:28 am

>48 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba! I might try one of their true bento boxes at some point, but I find it hard to move past katsu curry wherever I am...

Abr 23, 2021, 3:35 pm

>49 susanj67: Your letter writer sounds like fun. I wonder if he reads?

Editado: Abr 23, 2021, 4:24 pm

>49 susanj67: Oh dear! How are you going to answer that question? It will shape your future relationship irrevocably, you know.

hmm. I guessing that the dog may eat his homework at some point in the future, if it hasn't already.

Abr 24, 2021, 7:01 am

>51 charl08: Charlotte, I suspect not :-) There were references to playing Fortnite and doing many other activities.

>52 Helenliz: Helen, I've decided to say that, while I don't have a team, I'll support Arsenal while we're penpals, so we can be allies. That seems diplomatic.

Today I whizzed over to Westfield, for the first time since February last year. Last weekend was the first weekend of non-essential retail reopening, so I avoided that, but this weekend seemed like a good choice because payday for a lot of people is the end of the month, suggesting next weekend might be busier (and it's a Bank Holiday), and also inside eating and drinking is still banned so the food court is closed. It's usually super-busy and a big draw for friends meeting up, so all those people were also absent. And it wasn't busy at all, even though some shops have started opening at 10 rather than 9 and I had to go outside and read Tom Jones for a bit while I waited for them to open. Some experts are now saying that UK no longer has a pandemic but rather endemic Covid, which is (a) amazing but also (b) controversial. However, we seem to be doing pretty well even if the pandemic part isn't quite over. I didn't hang around, but just got what I'd gone there for and headed home again, and this afternoon I'm planning some quality time with my library books. I started The Death of the Gods last night and it's very good.

Abr 24, 2021, 9:14 am

>49 susanj67: Thanks for the link because I had no earthly idea what a "yum yum" was/is.'s a doughnut in bar shape...but if you make it in hexagon shape it becomes a "yumnut"? I guess you need to make up funny names if you're going to charge a pound, or more, for a doughnut. Glad it was tasty though.

Your new penpal sounds like he'll be a lot of fun and I agree that your response is indeed very diplomatic :)

Abr 25, 2021, 9:52 am

>54 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I'm not very knowledgeable about all the new things in food, but a "double chocolate" anything seems like a fairly good bet :-)

Today has been quieter, but I made some energy balls to take to work as dessert for the coming week. If they're any good I'll post the recipe but I haven't tried one yet. And I've finished a book:

The Death of the Gods by Carl Miller

This is about the craziness we all live in now, with power structures fundamentally changed by tech. And all the cat memes. It's a very interesting read, but it made me feel about 104.

Editado: Abr 28, 2021, 4:43 am

The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale

I've previously read The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and Mrs Robinson's Disgrace by Kate Summerscale, and they're both about Victorian events. This one is set in 1938, as war gets closer and a poltergeist appears in Thornton Heath. It's the story of an investigation into the poltergeist and other strange happenings, and it focuses on the craze for spiritualism, which was very popular in between the wars. It's well done and I liked the way that the author followed up on most of the people in it, so we found out what happened to them. I've just borrowed The Wicked Boy from the elibrary, as that's another Victorian one that I haven't read yet.

Maio 1, 2021, 6:37 am

The Wicked Boy is coming along very well, but I need to turn some pages in A Place for Everything today. More: The 10,000-Year Rise of the World Economy arrived at the library yesterday so I went over to pick that up and also snagged Invisible Girl. But it's a long weekend, so I'll make a start on everything.

Yesterday I got a new Surface Pro at work. I finally had to give in and get one after the old one conked out just as I was finishing the questions after a talk on Thursday. I had to unplug it to move it to the best light when I spoke and the battery wouldn't even last 70 minutes. I was holding on to it because I thought I must have done something wrong for the screen to come away from the body, but it seems that the model 5 is well known for the battery heating up and causing the screen to come loose. IT said they'd been replacing lots of them. So now I have a 7. The IT guy was revving up to explain to me that I'd need a new cable to connect it to a monitor at home, because the connection was different. "Oh," I said, looking at it, "so I need a USB-C to HDMI cable?" He looked startled, as if he hadn't expected me to know anything about cables. Fair enough, really, given how little I know about anything else in the tech world. But that was a little victory.

I may also have bought a ring light which was delivered to Ryman yesterday as a click and collect. It's so cute! Three types of colour - "white", "warm" and "soft" (soft please) and varying levels of brightness in each colour. Once my roomie's back in the office I'll have to do my webinars in little internal meeting rooms where the lighting is a nightmare, so now I'm all set :-) I bought a tabletop one as I don't need a giant tripod for Tik-Tok videos, because I'm pretty sure work would frown on that...

Maio 1, 2021, 8:54 am

I think you should deliver all your presentations to the Young People in the form of TikTok videos :)

Maio 1, 2021, 9:56 am

>57 susanj67: >58 katiekrug: Oh yes, with the dancing and the pointing at key legal terms as they pop up around your screen.... no?

Maio 1, 2021, 12:10 pm

>58 katiekrug:, >59 charl08: Um, nooooo :-) Besides, aren't the TikTok videos really short? I am a person with a lot of words. One of the firm's trainees has a YouTube channel, which is sort of amazing, particularly as he has nearly 100,000 subscribers. It's a "how to stay organised and work hard" channel that I think he started at university with study tips and student lifestyle content. I was a bit envious, particularly with his most recent "desk tour" which featured all manner of clever gadgets.

I just switched the TV on to see the Sky News ticker saying that surge testing is being deployed in Tower Hamlets because of new variants. But I put my postcode into the council's website and it said I don't need a test. Phew! Slightly alarming though. Lucky I ordered that cable to come on Monday, just in case...I've also ordered a set of stickers for my home keyboard, which will mean all the keys have letters on them again. I'm very excited about that.

Maio 2, 2021, 4:59 am

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale

This was an impulse-borrow after I finished The Haunting of Alma Fielding, and I liked it much better. It's the story of a gruesome murder in the late 1800s, how the case was tried (so lots of legal nerdery) and what happened to the murderer after that. It takes a really unexpected turn at the end, which is foreshadowed by a preface so you want to keep reading to see how it all matches up.

I started A Place for Everything yesterday and I'm making good progress with that. I think today will be a day with the books because it looks pretty chilly outside and I don't really want to walk anywhere local with the new variant on the loose.

Maio 2, 2021, 6:45 am

>61 susanj67: that looks like a good one. I enjoyed the other book of hers I read.

I've done all my gardening this morning (trimmed the hedge, cut the lawn) before it is due to rain this afternoon and tomorrow. Typical bank holiday weather! Have a good day indoors with your books.

Maio 2, 2021, 9:07 am

>62 Helenliz: Helen, well done for getting everything done! I've been derailed by a six-part series on Victorian railway murders on the Yesterday channel. I've read a book about the first one but the others are new to me.

There was a knock on my door a few minutes ago. I could see a respectable-looking man through the peephole so I opened it a tiny bit. "Hi," he said, "I live upstairs from you and I've locked myself out. Could I climb up from your balc - " "No," I said, "You'll kill yourself." He seemed amused at this. "It wouldn't be the first time," he said, starting to look a bit put out. "I suppose I'll have to - " but I didn't hear what he'd have to do because I'd shut the door again by then. My question is this: WHAT IS WRONG WITH MEN. I've never seen this man before, so he must be new upstairs, and yet I know at least Clompington 1 is still up there. So he's never seen *me* before, presumably. And yet he still felt that it was perfectly fine to knock on the door of a woman living alone and expect to be let in to her flat and to walk right through it. We're only a few weeks beyond the killing of Sarah Everard, and there's been yet another showbiz pervert unveiled over the last few days. Women are (fairly permanently) furious. But all the men can say is "Not all men" and play the victim. No, not all men *would*, but, as far as women are concerned, any strange man *could*.

This is the second time a strange man has tried to get into my flat on the pretext of having locked himself out and they seem to think it's a perfectly reasonable thing to expect. Maybe I should get a sign made for my front door, except it would mostly be asterisks. I should have just ignored the knock except I'm always worried that it will be one of the neighbours saying that their flat is filling up with water and it's all my fault. aaaarggghhhhh.

Maio 5, 2021, 4:19 am

A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order by Judith Flanders

This appealed to me because I believe in Order. And what could be more orderly than alphabetical order? Many other sorts of order, is the answer, and this book looks at how order started and how it developed until now when alphabetical order is largely (but not exclusively) accepted as an appropriate order for most things. It's a delight, if a bit detailed in parts. My favourite bit was about the wealthy man who catalogued his books according to which bookshelf he put them in. Each bookshelf had a bust of someone famous on it so for example a book might be Cato iv, 10, which would be the tenth book on the fourth shelf of the bookshelf with the bust of Cato on it. The British Museum (which eventually bought or was given the collection) still includes the original cataloguing details in its own catalogue.

Maio 5, 2021, 5:11 am

>64 susanj67: That is a very original way to catalog your books! I love the idea of it.

Editado: Maio 5, 2021, 5:50 am

>64 susanj67: That does sound interesting. Would it work on audio, do you think, or do I wait until I can access a paper copy?
I've always thought that Cotton's filing system makes some sense, it takes you to exactly *where* the book is. Depending on the system by which they are put on shelves, it might not make browsing the easiest, but that's a different thing. And I've always wondered if he reorganised the filing and updated the catalogue each time he bought a new book, or if each shelf was always left a little bit empty, so that new ones could be added...

>63 susanj67: how did I miss that?! Yes, of course you're going to let a complete stranger into your apartment on his say so. doh!

Maio 5, 2021, 7:21 am

>63 susanj67: And/or what if he had actually been a burglar trying to get into the neighbors flat to rip them off? Maybe men should learn to pay attention to door locks and keys and not get locked out.

Maio 5, 2021, 7:44 am

>64 susanj67: OK, Susan. You got me with this one. A few years ago I read a book about the history of the library card catalog and had a similar revelation about how people ever found anything before it was invented. The book is The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures and it has lots of historical photos along with the text.

Maio 5, 2021, 8:16 am

>69 elkiedee: I had someone telling us that he was doing work on a neighbour's tree and that this would be pointless unless we sorted out the one in our garden too. I was a bit dismissive because I was in the middle of something at the time and then hoping to sit down with a cup of tea and read a few pages before school kicking out time. Also because yes, it is a mess out there but we don't have money to pay anyone and I don't want to deal with people coming in or through my house to do work (our gardens/rather small outside spaces are at the back and enclosed all round within lots of terraced housing so no other access). And having been seriously let down by a personal recommendation, there's no way I'm even going to sat oh, can I hire you to trim back our tree too?

This guy accused me of being rude for trying to close the door on him - I'd not been nasty, simply said, sorry, no money and I don't hire people to do jobs who come to my door. Then he kept talking across me, not listening, interrupting and telling me to calm down.

Editado: Maio 5, 2021, 11:03 am

>64 susanj67: That looks like fun!

>68 rosalita: I miss card catalogs!

My favorite cataloging story, though, has to do with records rather than books. Back in the day when LPs were all we had, I was visiting a friend who was a jazz drummer. It was the first time I'd been to his place. I was looking at his record collection and couldn't figure out how he had them sorted. When I asked him he said, "They're alphabetical by drummer."

Maio 5, 2021, 11:27 am

>70 rocketjk: I love that story!

Hello, Susan! How is Tom Jones coming along? I have just finished Book XIV. This is a very long story's and I am thinking that it would perfectly suit being serialized like they often did back in the day. It's kind of like reading a soap opera but with a lot of humor mixed in, and if it had a voice over narrator who was constantly interjecting their own thoughts. It never really calls to me, but once I pick it up, I am pulled in and laughing within minutes.

>64 susanj67: Adding this one to The List - is the author the same Judith Flanders that writes that mystery series that starts with A Murder of Magpies?

>63 susanj67: Yowza! This is crazy that he just expected you to let him in when you had never met him before and had no idea whether or not he actually lived there. I think you should get a sign for your door that says: Don't Even Ask. No really, I mean it.

Maio 5, 2021, 12:53 pm

>64 susanj67: - Re: the rich guy's cataloguing system - Karen (karenmarie) in the 75ers tags each of her books with a location - she's got a whole room name/shelf number system.

Maio 5, 2021, 2:47 pm

>65 connie53: Connie, I think it must have been quite a talking-point!

>66 Helenliz: Helen, I think it would work best in hard copy. As well as the endnotes there are lots of asterisks in the text with footnotes at the bottom of the pages and I have no idea how they'd deal with those in an audiobook.

>67 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, that's a good point, and I hadn't considered it. Yeesh, imagine if he was and someone let him in and then had to explain that to the police. Funnily enough I heard a door close upstairs fairly soon afterwards, so he can't have been locked out for long.

>68 rosalita: Thanks for that BB, Julia! Index cards were quite a turning point in this book :-) It's funny looking back from the 21st century at how s-l-o-w-l-y things developed. Because index cards! Obvious! And yet somehow not obvious at all. It was years and years before anyone dared to put "deus" before e.g. "angel", because deus is God and nothing is more important than God.

>69 elkiedee: Luci, I think women are socialised to be too nice, too polite, ever-apologetic, and we're taken advantage of. We shouldn't even open the doors to people we don't know (but that seems a bit rude, right?). I didn't last time - just had a look through the peephole and asked him what he wanted. When I said no to him coming in he really had nothing more to say because he couldn't see me. I wish I'd done the same on the weekend.

>70 rocketjk: I love alphabetical by drummer! It makes perfect sense if you're all about the drumming :-)

>71 Crazymamie: Mamie, I've stalled a bit on Tom Jones, but I'm going to bed shortly to read for a while. I've had a day of scrolling (ouch) and now it's nearly dark because of rain. I need the rain, though - a flock of albatrosses seems to have flown over my roof window and all answered a call of nature at the same time. The author is the same Judith Flanders who wrote the crime books. She's got a really interesting list of titles. I like the idea for the sign!

>72 katiekrug: Katie, I would love to have the room for that! I wonder how she deals with secret attics?

Editado: Maio 5, 2021, 3:36 pm

Speaking of secret spaces, I just saw this on Twitter and thought of you:

Some of the comments are great, too.

Maio 6, 2021, 3:12 am

>74 katiekrug: Katie, I love it! I once discovered that a sofa in a rented flat converted into a sofa-bed, but that's about it...

Maio 6, 2021, 6:02 am

This just in from my penpal (who is a twin):

What an outstanding letter I dont think I could do better anyway I'm glad you have answered my questions Are you sure your friend meant that he likes having twins my mum and my dad say that I'm a handful


Maio 6, 2021, 6:56 am

>75 susanj67: Awwwwwwww

Maio 6, 2021, 7:49 am

Your penpal cracks me up.

Maio 6, 2021, 9:35 am

>76 susanj67: Their parents seem to have them bang to rights there, based on limited evidence presented so far! Mind you, having your letter described as outstanding has got to be worth a few kudos points. Bet that's the best bit of feedback you'd had so far today.

Is this a penpal actually in pen and paper or electronically? My handwriting was never that good - my brain was always faster than my hand. And went further downhill once I stopped having to write everything down by hand, sometime post university.

Maio 6, 2021, 9:59 am

>76 susanj67: Fabulous. Gold stars for listening to that one...

Maio 6, 2021, 1:36 pm

>76 susanj67: You must be chuffed, Susan, to know you wrote a letter so outstanding that even a 10-year-old couldn't do better! LOL, kids these days. I just bet he's a handful.

Maio 7, 2021, 5:18 am

>77 elkiedee: Luci, seldom do I laugh in the office but I really look forward to his letters!

>78 Crazymamie: Mamie, he's certainly got All The Chat :-)

>79 Helenliz: Helen, yes, it was pretty good feedback :-) This penpal types, which suggests his writing isn't great. (The last one hand-wrote and did it very well. I mentioned this and she said "Thank you. I get a lot of compliments.") The lack of full stops also suggests that he has no time for stopping of any kind, and lives life at full speed. I think the parents do indeed have them bang to rights :-)

>80 charl08: Hi Charlotte!

>81 rosalita: Julia, well, you know, kids are very hard to impress so I'm counting it as a win. He's pleased that I've decided to support his football team. I asked what I should know to be a good fan and he said that if a Tottenham supporter says Arsenal is rubbish I am to ask how many cups THEY have won. Because apparently Arsenal has won the most FA Cups. So now I need to find a Tottenham supporter for some football banter, which is not a sentence I ever envisaged writing.

Last night I had plans to finish Invisible Girl, but they came to nothing. I did, however, start No Filter, which is about Instagram. It's an elibrary reserve that arrived just after The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down, which I started a couple of nights ago.

Maio 8, 2021, 5:32 am

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Another good thriller by this author, who started in the 90s writing "chick-lit". I prefer the thrillers :-)

It's rainy here today, so I think...I *think* I'll just have a quiet day in. I should be an expert at it by now. And I have a lot of books to read. The library re-opening for browsing has not been very good for my ROOT project.

Museums reopen here on 17 May, and I want to book a ticket for the Thomas Becket exhibition at the British Museum I'm going to wait to go until after my second vaccine, which is on 3 June, but it will be lovely to have something to look forward to. The V&A has some excellent exhibitions too.

Maio 8, 2021, 7:05 am

Ooh, I've found an Amazing New Thing! My library's Overdrive site now has magazines! I've only just noticed, as a couple showed up in the "Connect with Nature" display at the top of the home page. You can read them in your browser and there's a zoom tool. Exciting! I've borrowed a National Geographic History magazine. Even better, magazines don't count towards your borrowed item total (which for me is eight items).

Editado: Maio 8, 2021, 7:18 am

PSA for Chromebook users: If you're trying to connect a monitor for your Chromebook you click on the TIME in the bottom right of the screen to find "Settings". Personally I blame Bill Gates - clicking "Start" to shut down is what started this madness. But now I've worked it out, so yay! My monitor came with an HDMI-to-HDMI cable which I've never used as the Surface Pro needed its own special cable (of course) but I pulled it out of my Magic Drawer of Cables and it works fine. I think I'll read National Geographic over lunch instead of zooming on a smaller screen.

Editado: Maio 13, 2021, 4:34 am

"Come back to the office!" I said.
"The Wharf is lovely!" I said.

Then I got off the tube this morning and there were police with machine guns on the platform.


Meanwhile, on the home front, the Clompingtons introduced some annoying piece of equipment into their kitchen (above my bedroom) that made a buzzzzzzz sound for 5 - 10 seconds every ten minutes or so, *round the clock*. I no longer have Clompington 1's phone number, so I asked the managing agent to deal with it. He asked whether I was sure it was them. Yes, I said, because the noise was coming from the same direction as their washing machine, which they run at all hours of the night. Back came a reply from Clompington 2, saying he was *amazed* that I hadn't just knocked on the door and said that the washing machine was disturbing me. Except, of course, I wasn't complaining about the washing machine. He went on to say that they had nothing new in the kitchen and that I was acting like a repressive communist dictator (missing the point that, if I had a gulag to send them to, I'd have done it years ago). But, in an AMAZING COINCIDENCE, that night the buzzing was not right above me any more, but further away and far less annoying. Fancy that! I should buy a lottery ticket because luck is clearly with me. He also said that he had never met me, so I said to the managing agent that I presumed he was not the man who'd knocked on my door a fortnight ago expecting me to let him in to my flat, despite having never seen me before. There was no answer to that point.

On the library front, FLA is leaving. "But you're the only one who likes books!" I said, maybe a little loudly but masks muffle sound. Ahem. I was picking up reserves which keep coming in day by day. On Tuesday I went over and, standing outside in the mall in full view of the staff on the desk at the entrance (there was no-one else with them) I took out my sanitiser, did my hands, waved them about to dry them and then I went inside. "Please sanitise your hands" said one of them. Yesterday I went over again, stepped inside a little bit this time, right in front of the security man, took out my sanitiser bottle and very clearly sanitised my hands again. "Please sanitise your hands," he said when I'd finished, pointing to their own sanitiser. So I'm pleased to announce that my arms are evidently invisible and if the rest of me follows suit I will be able to go anywhere I want. I'm planning to go upstairs, find the buzzy thing and steal it.

Editado: Maio 13, 2021, 1:07 pm

>86 susanj67: Did you find out why the armed police was there, Susan?

I remember that I was shocked when we visited London a few years back. When we got from the plane and left the building, there were police/army? men with machine guns. I had never seen guns so openly carried ever in my life, and it felt very uncomfortable.

Maio 13, 2021, 11:11 am

>86 susanj67: - You have such a great way of telling stories, Susan. Delivered so dryly :)

Anytime I am in Penn Station in NYC, there are police and/or National Guard wearing ridiculous tactical gear and carrying giant guns. Just because they can, I guess. Such a waste of money, IMO.

Editado: Maio 13, 2021, 11:24 am

>86 susanj67: "So I'm pleased to announce that my arms are evidently invisible and if the rest of me follows suit I will be able to go anywhere I want."

Just as long as we can still see your smile.

I, too, loved reading your post, though those neighbors don't sound like they're really any fun (except to write about, maybe, and certainly to read about).

Maio 13, 2021, 11:39 am

>86 susanj67: Indeed you do tell wonderful stories!! In spite of feeling sorry about what you're enduring, I found myself smiling and nearly giggling as I read :)

Maio 14, 2021, 5:22 am

>87 FAMeulstee: Anita, our building manager said it was "probably" just a routine patrol, but I'm not convinced. It is scary seeing the guns - I remember the first time I saw police with guns was in Rome in 1995 which was my first time in Europe. They're only really deployed regularly in the UK at the airports and around super-secure places like Buckingham Palace. I don't generally see them at all.

>88 katiekrug: Katie, you are very kind :-) I was thinking of you in the context of transport the other day, funnily enough. I was reading something that kept mentioning "Grand Central Terminal" and I thought that you would approve :-)

>89 rocketjk: Thanks Jerry. I do marvel at what they get up to, particularly what sounds like clog-dancing in their kitchen at 4am. The email said that the guy has clients in China and gets up early to work Chinese time. Maybe he's the entertainment during their breaks. But I haven't been woken up by the clogs the past couple of nights, so it's possible he's discovered slippers.

>90 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, see why I envy giant American houses?! The lack of neighbours is one of the main reasons, even though I tend to focus on the secret attics.

I'm closing in on finishing The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down, which is very well done but incredibly frustrating as a story. I think it's very well-known, because it was originally published in the 1990s and yet it's just shown up in the elibrary and in the contents there's a foreword to the 15th anniversary edition.

Maio 14, 2021, 7:41 am

Susan, like everyone else here, I love how you tell a story. Also your use of capitals. And hooray for getting the buzzing noise moved to a less annoying location. People are so weird - why not just admit that you know what the noise is and say that you didn't realize that it could be heard downstairs? Speaking of weird, I took Abby to her pain management clinic yesterday, and there was a lady in the waiting room whose phone conversation entertained all of us for over an hour - she even got a couple of Amens from her captive audience. And I fully agree with her that you shouldn't send money to "mens in prison" because they are happy to take your money but when they get out they will just go back to their "woman who had childrens" with them. Also, when we were leaving the hospital, there was a woman walking in with a mesh mask - I kid you not.

In breaking news, I have finished Tom Jones. Definitely longer than it needed to be, but also delightful to listen to. I don't know if I would have made it all the way through the print edition without some serious skimming. How are you coming with it?

Maio 14, 2021, 10:08 am

>92 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie! she even got a couple of Amens from her captive audience - I'm cackling! Do people have no shame, broadcasting their business to the entire waiting room? I hope the mens hadn't planned how to spend all that commissary money they won't be getting :-) I think the Clompingtons missed a trick with the buzzing - if I was the one buzzing and I didn't give a damn about anyone else, I'd say "OMG! I can hear it too! It's not me so I wonder where it could possibly be?" Because they've *got* to be able to hear it. Hooray for finishing Tom Jones! I've finished Book XIV so I haven't made much (possibly any) progress since I last posted about it.

However, I will soon have some more time on my hands. An email just arrived from management, with the ominous title "Expected Coronavirus surge testing" which says that Tower Hamlets is putting in place surge testing for the South African variant (actually they've been doing it for a couple of weeks, so I don't know what's changed) and that everyone who enters the Canary Wharf estate will be encouraged to take a test. And then the fateful words: "We would ask anyone who is a resident of Tower Hamlets to work from home until this period of surge testing is complete." Oddly, though, that will mean I *don't* get a test, because there are no centres in my home part of the borough. The closest place to get a test is...Canary Wharf. So now I'm looking through my diary and printing stuff for my upcoming talks. Goodness knows how long it will take till I'm back - right now it's the South African variant but it could easily become something else. Already I miss my office and I'm still sitting in it :-(

The Prime Minister is giving a press conference at 5, and there is a rumour that he might be going to cancel Monday's great unlocking. Nothing has leaked yet, though, so maybe not.

Maio 14, 2021, 12:28 pm

"Do people have no shame, broadcasting their business to the entire waiting room?" Um...NO. Welcome to the Deep South.

I totally understand about Tom Jones - it worked for me because I could listen while doing other things. I am convinced I would have stalled in the print format.

Total bummer about the working from home again. If the invisibility thing continues to develop, you might be able to work from the office with no one the wiser.

Maio 14, 2021, 12:33 pm

I find seeing Police armed startling. I'm with you, I can't believe that was nothing.

The Clompingtons seem to have slightly missed the point. hmmmm.

Boo to having to work from home again. I've got back to 1 day a week in the office and it's been lovely. I'll be back up to 2 assuming things relax again in June.

Maio 15, 2021, 6:30 am

>94 Crazymamie: Mamie, excellent point about the invisibility! I'll have to work on it and learn to type v-e-r-y quietly so no-one suspects anything.

>95 Helenliz: Helen, I'm glad you can have some office time. I watched the press conference last night and they seem to be softening us up for a delay to June 21. Not that people will really be softened any more. They also said they're bringing forward the second vaccines for the over-50s, but mine is in three weeks and I'm not expecting the appointment to change. I keep getting texts from my GP urging me to book my jabs, but I assume they're sending them to their whole database because my NHS record clearly shows I've had the first one. What a waste of public money.

The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

This is a famous book (I now understand) about the clash of cultures when Western medicine meets...well, shamanism and animal sacrifices. It's mostly the story of a young girl born in the US to Hmong refugee parents, how she developed epilepsy as a baby and how the parents, deciding that her illness was due to her spirit leaving her body and getting lost, decided to thwart her expensive Californian doctors at every turn. It's a massively frustrating story to read, because they pretty much killed their daughter and yet the author argues that Western doctors should take more time to understand nonsensical woo-woo. My main thought was "Haven't they got enough to do already?" I don't know why people are so keen to live in the West if they reject all the good things about it. Alternate chapters of the book look at why the Hmong left Laos in such numbers, and that was less interesting than the story about the family. It was very well done as a book but made me very cross. There are people in poor countries desperate for medical help, who would be so, so grateful for even a fraction of the time and effort given to this child, but her parents did nothing to try and help her (in a way that actually *would* help her). Both illiterate, they didn't even learn how to read Hmong so that instructions for medicine could be read and followed. The author seemed to find them amazing (in a good way) but I didn't.

Maio 15, 2021, 6:37 am

This weekend's reading plans:

Finish More: The 10,000-Year Rise of the World Economy (150 pages left)

Continue: No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram


Landfalls: On The Edge of Islam with Ibn Battutah - this is a travelogue following the journeys of Ibn Battutah, who was a traveller in the Middle Ages. I'd never heard of him until I was watching an episode of Mighty Ships, and the ship was called the Ibn Battutah. Naturally I had to Google...

The Demon in the Machine: How Hidden Webs of Information are Solving the Mystery of Life

The Missing Lynx: The Past and Future of Britain's Lost Mammals (oh, I see what they did there)

And The Thursday Murder Club just appeared at the elibrary, after *months* on the list.

Maio 15, 2021, 12:28 pm

>94 Crazymamie: work in office invisibly -- lol -- great idea Mamie

Maio 16, 2021, 5:49 am

>86 susanj67:. I had a great time reading this post, Susan.

"Do people have no shame, broadcasting their business to the entire waiting room?"

They do that in trains too. I've spend a journey of about an hour listening to a girl having a row with her boyfriend. And it was loud enough to hear him too.

Maio 16, 2021, 6:44 am

"Do people have no shame, broadcasting their business to the entire waiting room?"
I remember being on a train once when a chap was trying to arrange a spa day for his wife's birthday. Quite loudly. At one point he asked the poor person on the other end of the phone something of "do you think she'd like the seaweed wrap?" and a whole pile of heads up and down and carriage shook to indicate the negative.

Maio 16, 2021, 1:05 pm

>98 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, for the time being it seems that I won't have to! See below :-)

>99 connie53: Connie, sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just said "Sshhhhh!". In London I'd probably get stabbed, but in nicer places it could work :-)

>100 Helenliz: Helen, good to read that everyone was agreed on the seaweed wrap :-) I was once on the bus to work with a woman on the phone who sounded like an actual gangster. Everyone was concentrating very hard on their phones/papers/books in case they accidentally met her eye.

Work has just sent a reverse ferret* email, saying that Tower Hamlets residents *can* go back into the office, as surge testing is not being brought in at Canary Wharf and is only taking place in some areas of the borough. Minutes before this I'd checked the council's website, which said that I didn't need a test. Yay! I've been so fed up all weekend.


In buzzing news, last night the buzzing disappeared for a long time and could only be heard very, very faintly (upstairs at the Clompingtons, I think, in the bedroom on the other side of the building to me). Today it's back on their lower floor, but it's less frequent and still not right above me. And the occasional buzz isn't really a problem - it was more the 24/7 buzzing every five minutes, so my complaint does appear to have changed their behaviour, even though "This is not North Korea", as Clompington 1 noted in his email. I replied that "Nor is their flat a bungalow in the middle of a field" but I bet the managing agent didn't send that on. I wondered today what sort of noise a robot vacuum cleaner makes when it's stuck. Does anyone have one? I thought it would beep, rather than buzz, but I've never seen one in action in real life.

It's raining hard here, so I have high hopes that the albatross doo-doo will be rained off the roof window. There's no sign of the heatwave they promised...

Maio 16, 2021, 3:30 pm

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

This is a lovely read :-) It's set in a luxury retirement village in Kent, where the "Japanese Opera" discussion in the Jigsaw Room every Thursday is actually a semi-secret club whose members go through old police files and try to solve murders. The retired police officer is comatose in the hospital part of the village, and her place is taken by Joyce, a former nurse whose diary entries form some of the chapters. The plotting is very detailed and kept me guessing until the end. I don't think I've ever seen a book (certainly not a first novel) hyped so much in the UK, but I really enjoyed it. I've been on the elibrary reserve list so long that the follow-up book is now available!

Maio 17, 2021, 3:19 am

You would be attacked here in the Netherlands too. Maybe not stabbed, but more with words and intimidation. I live in a little town where nothing much happens but in cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam there is some violence going on. Fights and stuff like that.

Great news about the buzzing.

Maio 18, 2021, 7:32 am

There's a new Radio 4 and podcast series of Natalie Haynes Stands Up For the Classics. Posting in case it interests you and/or any of your thread followers.

Maio 19, 2021, 4:24 am

>103 connie53: Connie, yes, there seems to be plenty of fights and other violence everywhere. It's depressing really. One popular newspaper columnist says that she still tells teenagers to pick up their litter, and if she's stabbed at least she'll die a hero :-)

>104 elkiedee: Thanks Luci! That looks good.

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier

This is a really good read, whether or not you have an Instagram account. I tried it once but couldn't get to grips with it so I gave up. The author looks at how it started and its original aim, before it was bought by Facebook and started to change (for the worse). It's a great look at the social media phenomenon generally. It's still so very new, and while the world might have moved on to Tik-Tok, many of the same problems remain.

More: The 10,000-Year Rise of the World Economy by Philip Coggan

This was also a good read. It's a very broad history of how humans started to trade, and kept on going. It's not just economics, although there is a fair bit of that. There's lots of history and some science and various other things too. It looks like quite a chunkster but my copy was 362 pages of text, and the rest of the book is appendices and notes. So if you see it on a shelf, bear that in mind.

Last night I read a bit more of The Missing Lynx, which I thought was going to be about rewilding, but I don't think it is. Still, it's interesting although the author uses too many asterisks to notes at the bottom of each page and they break up the flow of the text. I thought the same about A Place for Everything - if the point is interesting enough then make it in the text! And if it's only of interest to a specialist, then surely it goes in an end-note.

I really need to get back to my own books, so I've stopped reserving hard copies at the library until I've read ten of my own things. I'm now looking for very short novels on my Kindle :-) I can't help myself with the elibrary reserves, though, and this morning Pilgrims showed up. I've filled up the empty reserve slot with last year's Joe Pickett novel.

Editado: Maio 19, 2021, 4:45 am

I got a bit carried away with reserves as the chance to make some and to get hold of some recent publications came up, and of course, they are all coming through at once, even the books that I thought would take ages, the ones listed as "on order" in the catalogue for months, the one I put in a suggestion for, as Islington has an online suggestions feature as well as free reservations. I asked Mike to pick up "up to 8 books" last week - it was 5 because 2 are at a different branch and I'd left collecting one for too long - notifications aren't consistent and once reservations come through they issue them before collection and I can't actually see whether I asked for him to be held near M's normal workplace or in a branch nearer to home and nearer to M's real life meetings - his job as a union rep is very meeting based with a small number of face to face meetings, mostly ones where services can't be run by home based working and where virtual meetings don't work for members' needs.

Maio 19, 2021, 4:35 am

>105 susanj67: I think I might pass on both of those. I'm not sure my understanding of economics is up to that much of being baffled.

Still no reservations for us, as some of the branches have not opened, so they can't do all the transfers between libraries. So I still have a list of books that I want to reserve and can't quite yet. I can see myself getting inundated when they do restart.

Maio 19, 2021, 4:46 am

>106 elkiedee: Luci, the "suggestions" feature sounds incredibly dangerous! My library is full of new things - well, I suppose some of them were "new" months ago but they've been locked away from the chain-smoking nose-pickers so they still look lovely. I don't dare to linger when I go in there or I'd need a little trolley for everything I'd borrow.

>107 Helenliz: Helen, that must be annoying. It's rather lovely being inundated, though - there are multiple things to choose from in my library pile at home and they're all very different. I hope it's not too long before your libraries are back to normal.

Maio 19, 2021, 6:41 am

>108 susanj67: I am bad enough just placing reservations on existing stock. I think I've only made 3 or 4 suggestions and I've been using Islington Libraries since 1996, online account management and reservations came a few years later.

Maio 20, 2021, 4:24 am

>109 elkiedee: I've made a few suggestions for the elibrary because there's a button on the site. I've never tried it with hard copies, though. If there was a form I'd make a hundred copies and start from there :-)

Another reserve has turned up at the library - this time it's A Scheme of Heaven: Astrology and the Birth of Science. The library describes it like this:

"Despite a resurgence in popularity, horoscopes are generally considered to be pseudoscience today - but they were once a cutting-edge scientific tool. In this ingenious work of history, data scientist Alexander Boxer examines a treasure trove of esoteric classical sources to expose the deep imaginative framework by which - for millennia - we made sense of our fates. Astrology was the ancient world's most ambitious applied mathematics problem, a grand data-analysis enterprise sustained by some of history's most brilliant minds, from Ptolemy to al-Kindi to Kepler. This title explores the wonderful subtleties of astrological ideas. Telling the stories of their inventors and most influential exponents, Boxer puts them through their paces using modern data sets - finding that the methods of today's scientists are often uncomfortably close to those of astrology's ancient sages."

And on a similar subject (sort of), an interesting talk has appeared on the British Academy YouTube channel. It's "Why History? The History of Magic" and the blurb describes it like this:

"Three great strands of practice and belief run through human history: science, religion, and magic. But why has magic – the idea that we have a connection with the universe – developed a bad reputation? In this event, Chris Gosden explores the role of magic in shaping civilisations and how we might use it today to rethink our understanding of the world."

I haven't watched it yet but I definitely plan to.

Last night there was no buzzing. I'm not sure whether this means the Clompingtons are away, or whether Clompington 2 has made his point (that he will do whatever he pleases) and then got rid of the buzzing thing. Very strange. Strange, but deliciously quiet :-)

Editado: Maio 29, 2021, 11:55 am

Pilgrims by Matthew Kneale

This is the story of a pilgrimage to Rome in the late 1200s. It's well done and I liked the historical detail.

Two ROOTS! At last!

18. Airhead: The Imperfect Art of Making News by Emily Maitlis

This was OK. It's more a series of vignettes of important interviews that Maitlis did than an in-depth look at issue confronting modern journalists but there were some good bits.

19. Blitzed by Norman Ohler

This was a startling read, all about how German troops fought a lot of WWII off their faces on crystal meth. Yes, really. Scientists had to find a way for them to do without sleep, and dosed them up with all sorts of things. Hitler, too, spent much of his time under the influence of strong narcotics injected by his personal doctor.

And a library book that's due back soon...

The Demon in the Machine by Paul Davies

This was hard, but good. The Amazon blurb gives a better explanation than I could:


When Darwin set out to explain the origin of species, he made no attempt to answer the deeper question: what is life?

For generations, scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental question. Life really does look like magic: even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it. And yet, huge advances in molecular biology over the past few decades have served only to deepen the mystery. So can life be explained by known physics and chemistry, or do we need something fundamentally new?

In this penetrating and wide-ranging new analysis, world-renowned physicist and science communicator Paul Davies searches for answers in a field so new and fast-moving that it lacks a name, a domain where computing, chemistry, quantum physics and nanotechnology intersect. At the heart of these diverse fields, Davies explains, is the concept of information: a quantity with the power to unify biology with physics, transform technology and medicine, and even to illuminate the age-old question of whether we are alone in the universe.

From life's murky origins to the microscopic engines that run the cells of our bodies, The Demon in the Machine is a breath-taking journey across the landscape of physics, biology, logic and computing. Weaving together cancer and consciousness, two-headed worms and bird navigation, Davies reveals how biological organisms garner and process information to conjure order out of chaos, opening a window on the secret of life itself.


Maio 31, 2021, 4:23 am

Landfalls: On the Edge of Islam with Ibn Battutah by Tim Mackintosh Smith

Ibn Battutah travelled all over the place in the Middle Ages- sort of like Marco Polo but he went further. And he wrote a book, which is apparently famous. Lots of people have tried to retrace his steps to see the things he saw and work out whether some of the more eyebrow-raising were actually true, and the author is perhaps the latest.

I was slightly alarmed when I started the book to discover that it was the third in a trilogy (!) but the introduction said that they are standalone books, and in fact the travels in this one took place before those in book 2. The books are organised by place rather than by time. This one started on the west coast of Africa, moving to the Maldives, Sri Lanka (the best chapter), China and then back to Africa, (but Mauretania this time) and then Spain. It's a really good read. You'd possibly get more out of it if you'd read Battutah's own book, but I am unlikely to do that and the author does explain what Battutah wrote about various places before he gets into his own visit.

I've now finished the two books due back tomorrow and Wednesday. Today I'd like to finish The Missing Lynx, which is due back on Friday, so that I only have to go to the library once this week.

Maio 31, 2021, 5:24 am

>112 susanj67: Oh, this sounds like a fascinating project!

Maio 31, 2021, 9:17 am

>112 susanj67: Sounds good. I read Natalie Zemon Davies on another African traveller, Leo Africanus, and that was fascinating.

Maio 31, 2021, 9:28 am

Just checking in, Susan. Hope you are enjoying the long weekend.

Editado: Maio 31, 2021, 11:20 am

>113 MissWatson: Yes, it certainly gives shape to a travel memoir!

>114 charl08: Charlotte, Trickster Travels looks very good.

>115 katiekrug: Hi Katie! The weekend has gone well, although I took Friday off as well and that was a fail due to an urgent client email. Still, at least I got to use the expensive cable I had to buy for the new Surface Pro.

The Missing Lynx by Ross Clark

Subtitled "The past and future of Britain's lost mammals", this is really more about the past, and specifically what made them all become extinct (hint: the reason is in our family trees). There has been one successful "rewilding" (Eurasian beavers in Scotland) and the author argues that the Northern Lynx should be reintroduced but maybe not wolves or bears (just yet). It's engagingly written although I don't think "kinda" or "gonna" work even in a popular science book. There are also far too many asterisks to notes at the bottom of the page. I'm reading Kindred on my Kindle at the moment and it does go well with that. The author doesn't see much likelihood of, or point in, "resurrecting" or "de-extinction", which the media is always going nuts about, but there's a bit about a project at Harvard tinkering with the elephant genome to introduce woolly mammoth characteristics to it.

That's three library books to take back tomorrow - yay! I have two more but they're not due back until late next week.

This week will be exciting as I'm getting my second jab on Thursday and then I will be invincible. Or something. Last weekend the NHS wrote and said I could book an earlier slot but I would have had to give up my Thursday slot first and hope for something sooner in a convenient place and I decided it wasn't worth doing that for the sake of a few days. Yet again I've spent the weekend at home, encountering no-one. But I have rearranged the living room and done quite a declutter, so I'm pleased with that. Also lots of laundry and enough ironing to use up all my hangers. Today has been breezy but sunny, which is perfect puffa-laundering weather, so my coats have been outside all day and I've been shaking them regularly to separate the damp feathers and re-floof them. They're going away once they're dry. It's June tomorrow and I have to draw a line somewhere.

Maio 31, 2021, 2:09 pm

>116 susanj67: Susan, if we get snow this week, I shall be pointing the finger at your puffa-floofing-and-putting-away ....

Maio 31, 2021, 3:07 pm

Excellent news on your second jab comming up.
I've had my linen trousers on over the weeknd, the temperature suddeny seems to have perked up. Not that I'm putting the jumpers away quite yet...
Some excellent reading there, >112 susanj67: appeals a lot. Did >116 susanj67: cover birds, or just animals? We live in an area that was one of ther first to have the Red Kite reintroduced in England. They're huge birds.

Jun 1, 2021, 4:28 am

>117 charl08: Charlotte, that's fair enough :-) It's lovely and sunny here in London today, at least, which is odd for half-term.

>118 Helenliz: Helen, it's just about mammals. That's great news about the red kites, though!

I made several trips down to the rubbish/recycling cupboard before I left for work, and I'll try and do some more tonight if I remember. And I ought to, as I've left the other things in the hall, and they'll be the first things I see when I get home...

I had great plans to read for hours last night but I only managed a couple of chapters of A Scheme of Heaven and then I conked out. It's not the book's fault, though.

Jun 1, 2021, 8:45 am

Shopping alert! An Amazon Fresh supermarket has opened at the Wharf! Wood Wharf, to be precise, which is the new bit of Canary Wharf on the far eastern side of the estate. I saw an ad on an electronic billboard at lunchtime, so I'm going over after work. It's the fourth one in London, and the first one only opened comparatively recently (in Ealing) so it's all very new and different. I've seen some YouTubers go shopping and they haven't been overcharged, so fingers crossed. This is where more than a year of the supermarket instruction "Only touch the things you intend to buy" comes in handy.

I returned my books to the library at lunchtime and managed not to borrow anything else, so that was a relief. Then I bought a charging pad for my phone, as yet again I've forgotten the cable for it. The young man at Curry's showed me some that were £39.99, including one with *two* pads, so I could charge the other things I don't have. "I think I'll get this one," I said, pointing to one that was £9.99 and which I had seen on their website. "That's only half as fast," he said disapprovingly. But I've got it plugged in and charging my phone and it's plenty fast enough. It also came with a lovely long cord.

Editado: Jun 5, 2021, 5:24 am

Hmmm. Well, I'll be surprised if the Amazon Fresh lasts long. It's basically like a Tesco Express in terms of size and range of products. Wood Wharf is an odd choice for it because most of the residents will work on the estate and if they walk home they'll pass Waitrose or M&S and those have a much bigger range. I suppose they might pick up people who come out of the tube station and walk over to Wood Wharf but even then you could come up from the tube another way and go to Waitrose/M&S. There's also a Tesco Metro on the western side of the estate for people who want something cheaper.

I bought a litre of milk and some Bonne Maman jam (only two flavours available out of nine. I'm sure I bought some recently but I can't find it, so buying another one is the quickest way of ensuring I find the first one next time I open the cupboard*). They had quite a few ready-meals, but I'm not sure whether they're Asda-level ready meals (no) or M&S level (I'll take all of them, please). Ditto their own-brand eggs. Still, it was super-easy to just scan the app on the way in and then leave with my shopping, and the app sent me a notification very soon afterwards with details of how much I'd spent. No queues! No checkouts! No unexpected item in the bagging area! And it may be a US venture but the meet and greet staff at the door were chatting to one another and completely ignored me, so it has elements of British retailing too :-)

*ETA: Yup - found it.

Jun 5, 2021, 5:20 am

Just My Luck by Adele Parks

This was a random library book that I picked up when I went in for something else, instead of making progress with my own things. The story was about friends who had a lottery syndicate and what happened when their ticket won the big prize. I liked the bits about how a win is processed and what happens in terms of advisers (yes, I'm a nerd) but the story was weak and there were a couple of twists that were pretty silly. Overall I wouldn't recommend this one.

I've got a few chapters of A Scheme of Heaven to finish and then that's it for library books. Last night I started a hard copy thriller from my own books, so I should be on track to finish six of my own by the end of the month and be half way through my root target for the year.

It's a lovely day today but I'm staying at home again because I had my second jab on Thursday and it takes two weeks for maximum protection to develop. So I have this weekend and next week at home, or at least not going further than the supermarket, and then, finally, I might go Out. OMG!

The Night Hawks, which is Ruth Galloway 13, is a Kindle Daily Deal here today so, um, yes, I did :-)

Jun 5, 2021, 6:45 am

A Scheme of Heaven by Alexander Boxer

Once again Amazon describes this better than I could:

Despite a resurgence in popularity, horoscopes are generally considered to be pseudoscience today - but they were once a cutting-edge scientific tool. In this ingenious work of history, data scientist Alexander Boxer examines a treasure trove of esoteric classical sources to expose the deep imaginative framework by which - for millennia - we made sense of our fates. Astrology, he argues, was the ancient world's most ambitious applied mathematics problem, a grand data-analysis enterprise sustained by some of history's most brilliant minds, from Ptolemy to al-Kindi to Kepler.

A Scheme of Heaven explores the wonderful subtleties of astrological ideas. Telling the stories of their inventors and most influential exponents, Boxer puts them through their paces using modern data sets - finding that the methods of today's scientists are often uncomfortably close to those of astrology's ancient sages.

I enjoyed this, although much of the maths was over my head. But the historical part was really interesting. It's £3.79 for Kindle in the UK at the moment but my copy was a hardback from the library and it's a beautiful book - expensive paper, lovely illustrations - definitely a treat to read in hard copy.

Those are all my library books finished (!). Well, at least for the time being. I'm considering what ROOTs I want to read before the end of the month:

Kindred - I'm part-way through this book about the Neanderthals, so now I can devote some more time to it.

Ivory by Tony Park - this is the thriller I started last night. I bought a set of three books by this author from the Book People at work, and that must have been pre-Kindle. This one is pretty silly but entertaining.

Frostquake - this is about the very cold British winter of 1962/63

The Book of Trespass

To War With The Walkers

The Night Hawks

Hmmm - that looks like a plan right there.

Editado: Jun 5, 2021, 1:21 pm

So you did nab Frostquake when it came up as a deal. You'll probably get to it before me (waaaaay too many books), so I will be interested to hear what you think.

There is an ongoing weekend Social Distancing Readathon going on on the 75 group if you want to come and talk about your reading progress there.

Jun 5, 2021, 11:08 am

The Night Hawks isn't out here until the end of this month... GRRR....

Jun 5, 2021, 6:22 pm

>125 katiekrug: Right?! I've had it pre-ordered for yonks, and here's Susan just casually talking about getting it on sale.

Jun 5, 2021, 10:08 pm

She lives to torture us.

Jun 5, 2021, 10:19 pm

On the other hand, you still have a book in the series to look forward to. I have to wait until next year, though there's another in her historical Brighton series coming out in the autumn.

Jun 6, 2021, 5:19 am

>124 elkiedee: Luci, yes, I was really pleased (and amazed!) to see Frostquake as a deal.

>125 katiekrug:, >126 rosalita:, >126 rosalita: Snort! Sorry, ladies - it's rare for the UK to have amazing deals that the US doesn't have so I had to grab it :-) On the subject of amazingness I downloaded a US game to my phone the other day and the premise was that a young woman gets a key from her grandmother which opens a door in a wall to a secret garden and a whole mansion. "Well of course," I thought, remembering the attics.

>128 elkiedee: I still haven't got to the Brighton series. I think I'm saving it for when I need an Elly Griffiths fix and there's no new Ruth.

I started The Night Hawks last night (there's nothing like a plan) and read about a third of it. Ruth is back in north Norfolk and all the other recurring characters have appeared except Clough. And there's a new character at the university. I might finish it today...

Jun 6, 2021, 6:37 am

Be interested to see what you make of Frostquake. The mill pond in my home town froze solid and they raced boats on the ice instead. If you look at the weather records it is startling not just that it was cold, but how long it was cold for.

I've just finished Ruth #8. I'm catching up slowly.

Jun 6, 2021, 12:57 pm

>130 Helenliz: Helen, I'm looking forward to it. I might even start it this evening.

20. The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

This is book 13 in the Ruth Galloway series, and it counts as a ROOT because I bought it, even if I only bought it yesterday. So it's my 20th ROOT out of an intended 50. It's another good instalment in the series, and at the end there's a picture of the cover of book 14, which apparently takes place in lockdown. It's out here in February next year.

Editado: Jun 6, 2021, 2:49 pm

We are told that the story of The Night Hawks is taking place in September 2019, and I was very conscious when I read it earlier this year that a lot of it must have been written during lockdown and thinking ooh, how are they all going to be dealing with lockdown? There was also a demonstration of video conferencing software scene at the university where Ruth works.

Editado: Jun 7, 2021, 5:41 am

>132 elkiedee: Luci, yes, I did smile at the reference to the "Zoom thingy". They had no idea...Book 14 is called The Locked Room, which I thought might also be a nod to the pandemic.

21. The Appeal by Janice Hallett

This was a great read :-) It's a legal thriller, and the premise is that two trainee solicitors have to review correspondence and other documents and decide what really happened with a murder a couple of years earlier, as the partner on the case wants to file an appeal. The UK cover is a reference to this - the pink ribbon is what was traditionally used to tie up instructions to counsel when they were sent in paper form with supporting documents. But the legal appeal isn't the only appeal in the book...The first 60% or so is emails, text messages and notes, which I don't usually love in a novel but you're soon drawn in to the story, and the author does a brilliant job of making each character different through the way they write. I read most of this last night until it got too late (11.30! That's practically tomorrow) and finished it this morning.

Editado: Jun 7, 2021, 9:58 am

>133 susanj67: - Ooh, that sounds like a good one! I'll have to see if it's available over here...

ETA: Not on Kindle and a paperback via Amazon is $22.

Editado: Jun 7, 2021, 10:09 am

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Jun 7, 2021, 10:10 am

>134 katiekrug: Yeah, not on Kobo, either. And Overdrive doesn't have it, either.

Jun 7, 2021, 10:11 am

>136 rosalita: - I am personally offended that this book has not been published in the US. Don't they know who we are?!?!?! ;-)

Jun 7, 2021, 10:21 am

>137 katiekrug: Seriously!

Jun 7, 2021, 11:00 am

>134 katiekrug: Hi Katie!

>135 rosalita: Oh no! I missed a message from Julia :-(

>136 rosalita: Oh, but here is Julia again. Hi Julia! I had no luck with it on Overdrive either, but it was published this year so it's pretty much brand new. I'm sure the US will get it soon.

>137 katiekrug: Katie, maybe they don't! But they should :-)

>138 rosalita: See, Julia agrees with me! Or you. Or maybe both of us.

*Note to self: Pick an old book for next read*
*Self: But I have the new Sarah Morgan.*
*Note to self: Hmmm. What about Trouble in Nuala, which you may remember buying yesterday as well?. That's the name of Katie's dog, although in this case it's somewhere in Sri Lanka*
*Self: Yes, that could work...*

Jun 10, 2021, 3:52 pm

22. Trouble in Nuala by Harriet Steel

This is the first in a series of cosy-ish mysteries set in Ceylon in the 1930s. Nuala is somewhere near Colombo, but doesn't really exist. Inspector Shanti De Silva is head of the police and has to find out who killed a tea plantation owner. His English wife, Jane, spends a lot of time reading detective stories and didn't have much of a role in this one. It wa an engaging read, though. I think there are ten in the series altogether.

A newish Joe Pickett became available at the elibrary this morning - squee! I think it's last year's one. I'll read it over the weekend and then get back to my own things.

Jun 10, 2021, 4:31 pm

>140 susanj67: - Obviously, I love this title. And the cover is gorgeous. I know "Nuala" as an Irish name - interesting that the author gives it to a place in Ceylon.

Jun 11, 2021, 4:11 am

>141 katiekrug: Katie, I tried to see why she made that choice, as I don't think Ceylon has any Irish history in terms of settlers, but it doesn't appear easily in a Google search :-) I found this article about how she got the inspiration for the books, though:

I updated my series list last night to include this new series. I used to have it at the top of each thread but it got a bit long, so now it's a Word document. I checked up on some series where I was (previously) up to date, and it seems I still am. Vassem Khan appears to have started a new series now (I have the first one - I must read it as the second one is out now or soon) so there are no more Inspector Chopra stories. And Abir Mukherjee doesn't seem to have added to his Sam Wyndham series either.

Jun 11, 2021, 5:27 am

I've only recently got to the first book in the series but Sam Wyndham #5 is due out in November (thought I'd seen something because I'm watching out for a price drop on #3, so I've just double checked).

Jun 11, 2021, 5:33 am

>143 elkiedee: Luci, that is good news! I wonder how many series are going to have a gap for 2020 :-) At least Daniel Silva has kept up with Gabriel Allon. Those books are the highlight of my year, every year.

Editado: Jun 11, 2021, 6:02 am

I need to stop reserving books for a while. Like a few months. Been making up for lost time on Islington's system but stuff that I only reserved because there was a big queue for one copy, so I thought it was safe to assume it wouldn't show up for some time, is suddenly coming through.

Editado: Jun 17, 2021, 4:50 am

>145 elkiedee: Luci, I think it takes more willpower than I have!

My penpal's latest letter just arrived. He wasn't sure about my Dad's brainteaser (Which is heavier - a pound of stones or a pound of feathers?) but he sent me a good joke. I think I'll send him a tongue-twister in my letter next week. My mother taught us this one:

Betty Botter bought some butter.
"But," she said, "this butter's bitter.
If I put it in my batter,
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter
Will make my batter better."

But will his parents hate me if he ends up practising it for days? His letters are getting ever shorter, so I think he's over the writing thing now. But I'm pretty impressed that he's kept going this long, to be honest! He seems like a young man with a lot of interests competing for his attention.

Editado: Jun 12, 2021, 1:31 pm

Long Range by C J Box

This is book 20 in the Joe Pickett series and it's a good one. All the usual characters are back, including Joe's awful mother-in-law, Missy, and Nate Romanowski. And yes, someone does lose an ear...

I've just reserved book 21, which is this year's one, so I hope that won't be too long in getting to me and then I'll be all caught up.

Next I need to finish Ivory. I need to finish three more of my own things this month, which I should be able to do easily if the library books don't overwhelm me...

Jun 17, 2021, 4:48 am

23. Ivory by Tony Park

This is one of a set of three books by this author that I bought from the Book People at work years and years ago. It must have been pre-Kindle, when I feared running out of stuff to read. It's a thriller involving *pirates*, which I didn't realise when I picked it up. It's like the pirates find me. It's set partly in Mozambique and partly in South Africa, so it's an interesting setting. The characters are pretty cookie-cutter, though, and the women are mostly just decorative. The main female character is a lawyer and most of the time I was thinking "That will get you struck off And that. And also that.". At one point she even *says* this to the pirate, and yet she just can't give up the pirate-related shenanigans. Refreshingly in these days of long, long series, this is a standalone novel.

The Double X Economy: The Epic Potential of Women's Empowerment has arrived at the elibrary for me, so that will be my next start. And quite appropriate in a good week for women. #IStandWithMaya

Jun 20, 2021, 1:28 pm

The Double X Economy: The Epic Potential of Women's Empowerment by Linda Scott

This is *superb*. If you liked Caroline Criado Perez's Invisible Women, this is another book on a similar subject (women being ignored) although it's more focused on economics. And, while Criado Perez takes the view that "Default Man" is absent-minded rather than evil, Scott's view is that economists, in particularly, are actively sexist, realise very well what they're doing and don't care. There's heaps of research in the book but it reads pretty quickly because it's so interesting. And YAY for an author brave enough to call a book about women The Double X Economy. A belief in biological sex (or, as most of us call it, "fact" or "science") is a protected belief now, so she can't get fired for it, but this was published last year.

There are two reserves waiting for me at the library tomorrow so I'll go over at lunchtime to get those, assuming it's not pouring with rain.

Jun 21, 2021, 4:43 am

Well, it *is* pouring with rain, although it's not yet lunchtime. And, had I not washed my puffa coats and put them away for the summer, I could have worn one this morning. On the summer solstice!

It's Amazon Prime Day and I'm wondering about getting an Echo Dot, which is half-price. Still wondering, although I suppose I don't have to decide immediately.

Jun 21, 2021, 8:06 am

From the library:

The Map of Knowledge
Alchemy and Rose

The Cut
Light Perpetual

And my Echo Dot is arriving tomorrow...

Jun 22, 2021, 6:12 pm

Glad you gave in to that Dot, Susan :) I ordered some new ear buds since my old ones had died and I do enjoy my audio books. Also ordered the raised planters in celebration of the day.

I think many of us to the west would be happy to share some heat with you, were that possible. We are cooling off a bit here in the far west though.

Jun 23, 2021, 4:29 am

>152 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba! I love the Dot :-) I had it delivered to an Amazon locker in the mall under my office, so I collected it after work. I put in the code and a message flashed up "Stand back - your locker is opening". A few seconds later there was a "clunk" and a little door flew open. It's vaguely Harry Potterish, somehow :-) I got it home and it started up as soon as I plugged it in and downloaded the Alexa app for my phone. I noticed that it was flashing yellow at one stage, so I googled what that meant and it means there's a message waiting. It was a message to me from me, but at least it stopped flashing yellow. I bookmarked the website page with all the colours and what they mean. I really got it so I could have Absolute 80s on in my bedroom while I'm getting ready in the morning, but I know it can do a lot more than that. The sound is very good for such a small thing - it's only the size of a grapefruit, which suggests that the pictures on Amazon have very small accessories in the background.

Another library book is waiting for me, which is slightly alarming although entirely my own fault. At least it's another novel and not a chunky NF. We finally have some sunshine after days of rain but I wonder whether it will last.

Jun 23, 2021, 4:40 am

>153 susanj67: Another library book? Have you caught the phantom reservations infection off Charlotte?

I have more reservations waiting for me too, and I thought one of them wouldn't show up until July or August.

Jun 23, 2021, 5:58 am

It did feel an awful lot like November, didn't it? It looks lovely out there right now *fingers crossed*
I'm quite jealous of the library access. Ours are open but still no transfers between branches. My local branch isn't all that large. >:-(

Jun 23, 2021, 7:25 am

>153 susanj67: >154 elkiedee: Another two have turned up now. I am in trouble.

The fancy technology sounds like a handy thing to have. Do you just say 'play Absolute 80s' or does it go back to whatever was on (the radio?) before?

And has the Clompington's mysterious beeping device been turned off altogether now? Enquiring minds, etc.

Editado: Jun 23, 2021, 9:05 am

>154 elkiedee: Luci, maybe I have! I had a lot sitting on my reserve list with nothing happening for months, and then suddenly they started moving.

>155 Helenliz: Helen, I hope yours opens again soon. Surely they'll have to on the new Freedom Day, or very soon afterwards. So far the sun is still out here so fingers crossed for home time, when I have to go to Waitrose.

>156 charl08: Charlotte, you say "Alexa, play Absolute 80s" and Alexa says "Absolute 80s from Planet Radio" and starts playing a banging 80s tune. I stop it by saying "Alexa, stop" and then it stops. On the generation 4 one you can turn off the microphone using a button on the top but otherwise it stays on, waiting for its wake-up word, which is why people on the radio and TV don't say "Alexa", because it sets off everyone's gadgets. The buzzing upstairs is still continuing, although there is additional noise now (but further away from me). On Friday the lift stopped at 5 and a neighbour got in and, after a comment about the rain, asked me if I was from 7 (the Clompingtons' floor). I said I was from 6. She said "Can you hear a noise - " She's going to email the managing agent now :-)

Jun 25, 2021, 4:36 am

24. The Survivors by Jane Harper

I really liked Harper's first two books, but this one (her fourth) was a miss for me. The characters were boring, the plot dragged and at no point did I care whodunnit or why. The best thing about it was that it's another ROOT off my shelves (well, Kindle shelves). I'm hoping that her third book is better. I have it on the Kindle but this one was nearer the top and not part of a series.

Next up is a library book - I'm going to start Alchemy and Rose tonight. I think I must have seen it in the Arts & Books section of a Saturday Times and reserved it because it's set in New Zealand (or partly in NZ). Otherwise it's a bit of a mystery why I reserved it. I'm a hundred pages in to The Map of Knowledge, which is going well. There are now *two* books waiting at the library for me but I'll leave them there until after the weekend. I'd like to return two if I'm picking two up.

Jun 25, 2021, 6:46 am

I just had a call from the library to say that the copy of The Appeal I reserved is now waiting for me. Eeeek, that's 5 books that have come through this week. And I blame you for this one.....

Jun 25, 2021, 7:09 am

>159 elkiedee: Luci, I'm sorrynotsorry :-) It's such a gripping read that you'll finish it in no time.

Jun 26, 2021, 12:58 pm

The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller

The English subtitle for this book is "How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found: A History in Seven Cities" and that's an accurate description :-) The author looks at seven seats of learning between 500AD and 1500, and how ideas spread across Europe. It's a good read, and I think it would make an interesting companion to A Place for Everything, which I read recently.

I went over to Westfield today, as I wanted a few things including a battery for my nice watch, which stopped in April 2020. I never felt that a battery was an essential outing during the Stay At Home days, so I've left it all this time (I have another watch) but finally I think we're close enough to being back to normal. The food hall at Marks & Spencer has been drastically redesigned, and looks amazing. And upstairs they now have other brands. In the women's clothes I saw Seasalt, Hobbs, White Stuff and Phase Eight and then a sign that said "Coats". I thought to myself that I'd never heard of that brand, but it turned out to be the actual coat section. D'oh! Back downstairs for groceries they had large punnets of nectarines for £1 (!) so I bought one and I've halved them and roasted them this afternoon, to have with cereal and yoghurt. They were mostly very ripe, which I suppose explains the price. But they're gorgeous. They also seemed to have a glut of avocados, if anyone's an avocado fan. And mushrooms. They've put in an aisle of "weigh and pay" things like pasta, lentils and so on, which is the first time I've ever seen that in a M&S. Or really anywhere but Whole Foods, I think. Most of the things dispense downwards into a bag or container (you can take your own) but a few had the little scoops, which don't seem that hygienic particularly at the moment. I was very tempted by little chocolate-covered pretzels, but I already had lots of things to carry and not enough hands to work it all out.

Jun 26, 2021, 1:17 pm

Glad to hear things are getting back to (more) normal! Here's hoping we're really over the hump this time.

Very tempted by The Map of Knowledge

Jun 26, 2021, 1:23 pm

>161 susanj67: Yes, the new labels have turned up on Marks' website I noticed the other day.
I miss "St Michael".
Although I suppose it must be a relief to those brands after the collapse of Debenhams.

>161 susanj67: Sounds good. Although it's taken me a week to finish A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum so maybe in 2023. Or 24.

Jun 27, 2021, 6:29 am

>162 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I think the UK is very close to (the new) normal - cases are still going up because of the Delta variant but more people are now dying of flu and pneumonia than Covid, and it seems to be very mild in people who've had two jabs. And that's a lot of people. Everyone over 18 can now book, and this weekend has been a "grab a jab" weekend where people can go along without bookings and get their first one. Lots of sports grounds and concert venues are being used, so there's only a limited time to get it all done as those venues will be able to open for their normal business again on "Freedom Day" which is currently 19 July in England. An article in The Times yesterday said that over-50s are likely to be offered a booster shot with their flu vaccine for the winter - that's two shots as they can't combine them, but there's a study going on into how people react to flu and Covid shots at the same time so we should know soon.

>163 charl08: Charlotte, yes they'll be glad of new outlets, and particularly M&S which has so many shops. I think I saw somewhere that the collections are "for M&S" clothes rather than their normal lines, but a little Seasalt t-shirt was £30 yesterday so maybe not. I didn't succumb - after my recent wardrobe reorganisation I'm going to try and stick to "one in, one out".

Alchemy and Rose by Sarah Maine

This historical novel is set in Australia and New Zealand in the late 1870s. I liked the New Zealand section, which was about gold-mining on the west coast, but the characters did seem to run around a lot. Overall it was OK but nothing startling. However, I now have two library books to take back tomorrow when I pick up two more books...That's assuming it's not pouring with rain again. After sun and breezes yesterday (excellent laundry weather) today is overcast and a bit blah.

Jun 28, 2021, 6:03 am

Hi Susan, I've been way from LT for a while due to Peet's situation. I only posted in my own thread. Lots of books read here. I'm trying to visit more frequent in the future.

Just saying hi for now.

Jul 2, 2021, 4:46 am

>165 connie53: Connie, I'm sorry to hear about Peet. I hope the doctors can work out what's wrong and help him.

The Hitler Conspiracies: The Third Reich and the Paranoid Imagination by Richard J Evans

This is a good read, particularly in these days of non-stop conspiracy theories. The author looks at five popular theories about the Nazis, and whether there is any basis to them. Did The Protocols of the Elders of Zion set Hitler on his genocidal course? Was WWII due to the German army being "stabbed in the back" in WWI? Who really burned down the Reichstag? Why did Rudolf Hess fly to the UK in 1941? And...did Hitler really escape the bunker? It's only 216pp, and I read most of it last night after I saw that two more reserves have come in (eek). I need to have at least two things finished to take back next week. One of the best points the author made was that there is considerable cross-over among conspiracy theorists. They don't just focus on one hobby-horse, but seem to think that all sorts of other nonsense is true.

I'm taking a day of holiday today so I'm going to read a lot and maybe try to finish The Cut. It's a bit of an odd book, but possibly because it doesn't neatly fit a genre, I think.

Jul 2, 2021, 7:04 am

And I'm back again. Peet will have surgery on his neck. If you visit my thread you can read the details.

Jul 5, 2021, 4:36 am

>167 connie53: Connie, that's great news about the surgery! And I see from your thread that it's either next week or the week after, which is excellent. I hope everything goes well.

The Cut by Chris Brookmyre

This is a thriller, set partly in Scotland with excursions around Europe, and a dual timeline. Overall it was a good read but I did keep putting it down. I think perhaps I would have done better with it if I'd jumped in and read a big chunk of it at the start with no interruption.

Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford

Fabulous. Fabulous. Fabulous. It's only July but this is going to be my best fiction read of the year.

In 1944 a German bomb obliterated the Woolworths branch in New Cross (south-east London), killing 168 people including a number of children. But what if it hadn't happened, and those children had lived? Light Perpetual follows the life stories of five of them. It's superbly well done, and it will stay with me for a long time. Spufford changes the location to the fictitious "Bexford", which is a suburb in the same area, so it's a very London-y book, which I always love.

Last night I started Fatal Isles (the touchstone goes to "Deception", which must be its name in the US) which is also set in a fictitious place called Doggerland, in between the UK and Denmark. Looking at the map at the front of the book I wondered for a few terrible moments whether there really was a set of islands I'd never heard of before, despite living right next to them, but fortunately not :-) It's good so far. I feel I should blame Charlotte (Hi Charlotte!) for this one, but that is something of a reflex action for good crime novels.

Waiting for me at the library are Hurdy Gurdy and Scoff: A History of Food and Class in Britain.

Jul 5, 2021, 5:33 am

Thanks, Susan! We do hope so too.

Jul 5, 2021, 6:09 am

Seeing a lot of love for the Spufford book, so may have to put that one on the wish list.

Dogger Bank is the name of a undersea ridge in the North Sea and it gives its name to a shipping area. So it could be an island group - but only if sea levels fall dramatically.

Hope Monday decides to treat you well.

Jul 5, 2021, 6:15 am

I apparently bought Fatal Isles on Kindle on 2 April. It's currently on offer at 99p. Have just been having a look at the book. The author is apparently Swedish but there is no reference to the book being originally published in Swedish or whether the author or someone else did the English translation, which seems a bit strange. The copyright page says copyright Maria Olafsson 2021. Author profiles do refer to her books being sold into 12 different languages.

Jul 5, 2021, 6:24 am

I don't know whether you've read Francis Spufford's previous book Golden Hill but he was the subject of Radio 4's Bookclub this month - which should be available on Sounds and Bookclub seems to be one of their programmes that's available forever.

Jul 5, 2021, 8:38 am

>169 connie53: Connie, I'm very impressed by how fast they're doing it.

>170 Helenliz: Helen, definitely add the Spufford! I thought that Doggerland (or at least Dogger?) was from a weather forecast, so the map surprised me a bit. But maybe the author is just imagining a different sea level :-)

>171 elkiedee: >172 elkiedee: Luci, I did read Golden Hill and loved it. Fatal Isles is the author's debut novel, apparently, (or maybe debut translated into English?). If I didn't see it on Charlotte's thread I will have seen it in the book review section of the Saturday Times. Both good sources of recommendations!

I went to the library but only one reserve was waiting for me. I asked the chap on the desk about the other one. He went through everything on the reserve shelf (apparently we're allowed to touch stuff now) and then went to look for it on the ordinary shelves. And he found it there, despite it being *from another branch*. We were both shocked by this breach of reserve-handling protocol. On the way out I saw Dark Tides, which is the sequel to Tidelands, so I snagged that too.

Then to Boots for a prescription. "I don't have these," said the pharmacist, looking slightly pained that I'd dared to take in a private prescription from which they will make money. "Could you order them in for tomorrow?" I asked (usually they offer this automatically). She passed the prescription to one of the pharmacy assistants who looked up the computer and said yes, they could. So they're doing that. Then I asked for some lateral flow tests. The assistant gave me a box and wrote down why I wanted them (work recommends doing them if we're coming into the office). "Also I have to ask your age," she said. I told her and she said "You look very good for your age!" which first I thought was nice but then I wondered whether she'd heard e.g. 73 instead of 53. Darned masks. I've just unpacked the test box and it all seems like quite a palaver. I think I'll take everything home and do it tonight.

Jul 5, 2021, 8:47 am

>173 susanj67:. OK, adding it. *salutes*.

We've been doing the LFT and they're annoying, but not all that bad. It's just a case of being organised. The worst bit is taking the swab. I find I'm OK with a mirror. Just take a deep breath and take your time over that bit.

I'd take it as a compliment. There are few enough of them around, grab it while it's on offer. >:-D

Jul 5, 2021, 9:33 am

Doggerland was an area of land which once connected Great Britain to continental Europe, but rising sea levels flooded it out of existence. It's supposed to have stretched to the Netherlands, the western coast of Germany, and Jutland in Denmark.

Jul 5, 2021, 9:45 am

>173 susanj67: I was too. With all the surgeries that were suspended I thought it would take much longer.

Jul 5, 2021, 12:15 pm

>168 susanj67: With that strong a recommendation from you what can I do but run off to order the book. It'll be here on Thursday :)

>173 susanj67: I was totally shocked when I learned how old you are (not that it's all that old just that I thought you were more like 40).

Jul 6, 2021, 3:46 am

>173 susanj67: Not guilty. And will be adding it from here!

Helen's advice re the test makes sense. I'm wondering whether to take a set on holiday with me 'just in case', but agree re the palaver factor.

Jul 11, 2021, 5:27 am

>174 Helenliz: Helen, you're right - I should just smile and grab it :-)

>175 Jackie_K: Jackie, I did find that the "fakeness" of the islands kept throwing me out of the story.

>176 connie53: Connie, you're lucky not to be on an NHS waiting list :-(

>177 RebaRelishesReading: LOL Reba! You are very kind :-) I hope you enjoy the Spufford.

>178 charl08: Charlotte, my "review" is below. The cover says it was a Sunday Times crime novel choice so I must have read about it in the paper.

Fatal Isles by Maria Adolfsson

As discussed above, this is set in Doggerland, which is a fictitious group of islands between the UK and Denmark. I'm not sure that I've read a modern novel set somewhere entirely made up. That's more a thing for fantasy novels. True, books are full of fictitious towns but they're always in real places. I know that there's no Twelve Sleep County in Wyoming, where Joe Pickett works, but Wyoming exists. Jack Reacher's small towns are all invented but the US exists, and so on. But with an entirely fictitious country it's not really anchored anywhere. I kept wondering how big the islands were, how many people lived there, whether such a small place would really have the full infrastructure that it seemed to have or whether it would, in real life, be an overseas territory of somewhere else, and so on. It's possible that the author used Iceland as a template, but the population seemed to be a mix of Danes, British and Scandinavian people and they have their own language but they can understand e.g. Swedish.

That aside, it was a good police procedural story, with lots of twists in it and quite a shocking ending. I'll definitely get the next one, which is due out next year, but I'm just not sure that Doggerland really works.

Scoff is coming along nicely and I plan to read a bit more today but I also want to read (or at least start) Hurdy Gurdy, which is apparently a black comedy set during the Black Death.

Jul 11, 2021, 6:09 am

When I looked up Fatal Isles, I discovered I'd bought it a few months ago, and I'm assuming I did so because it was a Kindle deal, daily or otherwise.

Editado: Jul 11, 2021, 8:03 am

>180 elkiedee: Luci, they've had some pretty good deals recently. I reserved this one from the library a while ago but I've bought - ahem - a few others.

Hurdy Gurdy by Christopher Wilson

This is indeed set during the Black Death but I couldn't really see anything funny about it. Fortunately it was short, so now I've finished it and I might move on to Dark Tides this afternoon. I really liked Tidelands last year.

The news is showing *gazillions* of people at Wembley already, and the game isn't until this evening. I wonder how much Covid rates will shoot up in a week or two. They're already higher in men due, apparently, to them gathering to watch the matches. Madness. I wouldn't blame the PM for putting Freedom Day off for a bit longer.

Jul 16, 2021, 12:58 pm

Scoff: A History of Food and Class in Britain by Pen Vogler

While I'm not a foodie, I do like books about the history of food. And this one covered a lot. But I didn't like the author's style and I finished it by setting myself a pages-per-day goal rather than because I desperately wanted to.

That leaves me just one library book and I'm half-way through it. I've had a day of holiday today so my weekend is well underway and it's supposed to be a hot one.

Monday is Freedom Day, which will either be amazing or amazingly bad depending on whether you're a scientist or not. I really hope the scientists are being overly gloomy. My borough has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, which is partly due to having a lot of young people in it who haven't been eligible for very long, but also due to having a high population who don't believe in science.

Jul 17, 2021, 12:29 pm

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

This is the second book in the Fairmile series, following Tidelands last year. I thought it was considerably weaker, due to some very stereotyped characters and an implausible plot, but I still want to see what happens next. I assume the next one will be published later this year, although there's no sign of it on Amazon UK. But books 1 and 2 are just £3.99 for Kindle at the moment.

That's the final library book for the time being, so this morning I got out my Kindle, ready to catch up with the books I've started on that. But it needed charging, so I got to pick a *hard copy* from Mount TBR , and that was exciting :-) I've started No Time on My Hands, which is a memoir about life on the plains (?) or maybe prairies (?) of Nebraska in the 1880s. Fans of Little House on the Prairie will love it. There was quite a buzz about it on LT a few years ago so I ordered a copy from the US but it's taken me all this time to get to it and demonstrates why I need to make more of an effort. On my Kindle I've got Kindred going and The Book of Trespass.

Now the Health Secretary has the Covid despite having two jabs, and squillions of people are being "pinged" by the tracking app, meaning the country will grind to a halt according to the papers. I'm having - yes - a quiet weekend at home. I went down to the big Tesco yesterday so I have plenty of supplies. My office reopens fully on Monday for people who want to go in (there's no obligation) but the thing I'm most looking forward to is the reopening of the escalator from our foyer into the mall below. For months we've had to leave the building, cross the street, walk through the park, go into the mall and then go down multiple levels, which means that we encounter a lot more people than we would if we could just take the escalator down. It seems crazy to me. Masks will still be required on the tube and buses, so I've got a new set from Boots which are excellent. They're plain black but I've got my eye on a set with a leopard-print trim. I'll see how things go after Freedom Day, which the politicians are no longer saying is "irreversible".

Jul 17, 2021, 12:36 pm

Hope the U.K. gets everything back under control. Black masks with a leopard trim sound very attractive. On the odd time I wear a mask these days it's usually a disposable blue paper one. I still have a dozen or so home-made ones in a drawer but haven't used one in ages. Washington state is now up to 70% of people over age 16 with at least one shot on board and fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks. If I were to venture into a crowded space I would dig mine out but I try to avoid such places instead.

Jul 17, 2021, 12:44 pm

We have units in a multiple occupancy building, and the building owners have already mailed to request that people continue to wear masks in the shared use areas. I still can't see myself eating out or mingling with the great unwashed. I've got used to being able to keep my distance. It all feels too early and too much of a change too quickly, based on 1 in 95 people (last figures I saw) currently having it.

I made 4 masks last year, I can now only find 2. I think the other two must be in the same place as all those biros I've lost over the years, and odd socks. I'm having the debate about unearthing the sewing machine and making a couple more.

Jul 17, 2021, 1:00 pm

>184 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, those are great stats for your state! Jabs have slowed down here as a lot of younger people seem to think they're invincible so that's unfortunate. The NHS is running "grab a jab" events where people can attend without an appointment, but there are worries that people won't go back for their second jabs. When I booked mine the system gave me an appointment for my second one as well, which I think is probably the best way of doing it. Some supermarket chains have said that they will still ask people to wear masks. I'm not sure what Canary Wharf is doing for its malls, but I noticed late last week that they'd taken the "entry/exit" signs off the doors and taken the arrows off the floors. That seems like a bit of a strange thing to be doing when more people will be there, but there was a lot of ignoring the signs and the arrows anyway. I'm going to continue to wear mine in all the places I have been wearing them (not that I go to that many places - mostly just the supermarket and the largely empty office and occasionally the library).

>185 Helenliz: Helen, we still have to keep our masks on when we're away from our own desks, so in the corridors, kitchens and toilets for example. I think they're waiting to see how many people come back before they change the rules. It's school holidays now so that should cut down the numbers a bit for a few weeks. One of my friends thinks we'll be back in lockdown by the end of the school holidays but I really hope not. These are the Boots masks in case you can't be bothered with the sewing machine :-) And it looks like all their blue masks are BOGOF.

Jul 17, 2021, 3:01 pm

I think most state schools' terms end next week - though my kids are now learning at home until Thursday - fortunately a virtual classroom. Private schools may have broken up earlier and years that would have normally had exams will have finished up assessments weeks ago.

Editado: Jul 18, 2021, 8:30 am

>187 elkiedee: Ah, I see. Canary Wharf tends to be a lot quieter once the private school holidays start, and I can see partners already taking time off, so it must be for those schools. I wonder whether people with kids in state schools will continue to stay home so they don't get pinged before a family holiday? The 'pingdemic' seems to be out of control.

25. The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan

Finally I'm half-way through my ROOT challenge! This is a cute summer story from my favourite romance author, although it's not strictly romance. Well, there's some romance, but it's not the main focus of the book. I think Charlotte read this one and was puzzled by the Americanisms in a book about British people (albeit some of the book was set in the US). I thought the same. It's not even consistently Americanised. One of the American characters says, for instance, that if he'd done or eaten something (I can't remember now) he'd "be in hospital", which is the UK way of saying it. Americans would say "be in the hospital", I think. But there was a trunk where there should have been a car boot and so on. The copy editing could have been improved but I did like the story and right at the end the screen seemed to go a bit blurry.

Jul 18, 2021, 11:30 am


Jul 18, 2021, 11:43 am

>189 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, the NHS Test and Trace app lets you know if you've been in the same place as someone who later tests positive for the Covid. Apparently it's a ping noise, and that means you should self-isolate for ten days although it's not compulsory. It's only compulsory if someone from the Test and Trace team rings you up and tells you to isolate. However, the app is pretty sensitive, and there are stories of it pinging because someone in the next flat has tested positive, even though there's been no contact between the people in them, and there's also the issue that when you "check in" somewhere (by scanning a QR code) you never "check out" again, so people are worried that they're getting a ping because someone with Covid showed up at the same place hours after they did. Businesses are worried that too many staff will be self-isolating (one tube line closed yesterday due to lack of staff, and Marks & Spencer says that it might have to close some shops early, which is like Armageddon for the middle classes). Quite a few people are, um, just deleting the app (which has never been compulsory to download anyway).

Jul 18, 2021, 11:50 am

>190 susanj67: Ah thank you. I signed up for phone tracing a year or so ago but have never been contacted. I don't know if our system just isn't working or if I've been fortunate enough to not run into anyone positive. I think we get a text or email rather than a "ping" though.

I see we're on line together again today. Hope your day is going well.

Jul 18, 2021, 12:05 pm

>191 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I've never been contacted either. I'm not near anyone for long enough, really, but that might change with the office opening up again. That's one of my concerns if my roomie comes back. I've let my stocks of groceries run low so I'd struggle to survive for ten days on what I have right now. But we're getting quite a few fast grocery delivery services in London, which promise groceries within minutes so that's another option if supermarket delivery slots are all booked up. I don't know how they manage to deliver everything so fast, but I've seen some positive feedback. I got a leaflet in my letterbox from one of them the other day so I've kept that in case of emergency. My day is going OK, thanks - it's pretty hot here but not 46C:-) I hope you're having a good Sunday.

Jul 18, 2021, 12:18 pm

Slightly less seriously than even M&S, large employers like factories, hospitals and the like are finding that a significant number of their staff are being pinged at once.

The check-in and no check out thing has always struck me as utterly contrary and so easily solved.

It's a trifle warm here too. I might leave mowing the lawn to later in the evening.

Jul 18, 2021, 12:55 pm

I had to manually check in to places via the website when I was on holiday in England recently, because the QR codes didn't work with the Scottish app. At least at one motorway cafe I could input my time of entry on the web form, and then indicate when I was leaving.

Jul 19, 2021, 5:34 am

>193 Helenliz: Helen, it seems a bit silly to me that people have to isolate even if they've had both vaccine jabs, particularly as that's going to change on 16 August. I don't envy you having to mow the lawn in this heat! Maybe go for a bee-friendly wildflower meadow-type thing until it's cooler?

>194 Jackie_K: Jackie, I remember having to do that at McDonalds here at the end of August last year. I can't remember whether the NHS app had been rolled out then but I did it via the McD's website and I put how long I intended to stay. I can't believe it's been nearly a year since I went to my favourite eatery!

The office is as quiet as it's been since April when we were allowed back. I thought people might come in for the air-conditioning, but it seems not. And I'm wearing a nice outfit, too :-( I got the bus to work this morning in case the tube was busy, and there was hardly anyone on the bus either. I'm going to the library at lunchtime to return four books so that might be busier. I've received an email from the Tower Hamlets mayor this morning which seems to expect people still to wear masks in council buildings but doesn't go as far as saying that they must. That's really not helpful for staff who'll have to deal with the Covid-deniers, anti-vaxxers and so on.

Jul 19, 2021, 2:31 pm

26. Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art by Rebecca Wragg Sykes

This is a very detailed but readable look at Neanderthals and everything we know about them (did I mention it was detailed?) I liked it a lot, and it made me want to reread Clan of the Cave Bear. Funnily enough the author cites Jean Auel as one of her inspirations and makes the point that some of the things she wrote about in the Cave Bear series, which seemed a bit "fringe" at the time, have since been proved to be right.

Our knowledge of the Neanderthals took a huge leap forward with genome sequencing, which showed that they live on in us, to a greater or lesser degree depending on where we come from. But we still don't know why H. sapiens "won" in the gene race and Neanderthals disappeared. This is a really thought-provoking read.

(Also book 26 in my ROOT challenge - woo-hoo!)

The tube was nearly empty this evening, so people have not flocked back to their offices. The heat wave may be to blame but I suppose we won't know for a few days, or whenever the rain starts. I'd say it was even quieter in my office than it has been in the last few weeks.

Jul 21, 2021, 4:20 am

Yesterday I stayed home, which was a mistake because it was So Hot. But today I'm back in the office as the heat warning lasts until Friday. It may get up to 33C OMG. No giggling from properly hot countries. Also one of my pals may be in today if her tube line is running - service is a bit patchy due to the pingdemic. So it will be nice to see her if she's here, or I'll go over to the library if she's not, as - ahem - three reserves have arrived. My list was nearly empty and then it wasn't. But I'm making progress with The Dragon Republic, which is a ROOT. I borrowed The Windsor Knot on Monday when I returned four things, but it's a pretty quick read by the look of it. It's premised on the Queen being not just the Queen but also an amateur sleuth :-)

Jul 23, 2021, 4:31 am

27. The Dragon Republic by R F Kuang

This is book 2 in the Poppy War trilogy, which (apparently) is "grimdark" fantasy. It's certainly fairly dark and also grim, so I suppose that works. It's set in a fantastical country but based on the history of China. I've seen a few BookTubers say the trilogy is the best thing they've ever read, which frankly suggests that they need to read more, but it was good enough for me to read it in four nights and it's quite a chunkster. I don't like the Americanisation of the young characters' speech ("I've got this" etc) but the shamanic elements are fun. I don't have the third one in the trilogy but I think I'll borrow it from the library fairly soon so that I can finish the series.

Jul 23, 2021, 4:41 am

Irreversible Damage: Teenage Girls and the Transgender Craze

This is SUPERB. I would say more, but only J K Rowling is rich enough to speak the truth at the moment. I'll just say that this is a must-read whether you have a teenage girl or not.

Jul 23, 2021, 1:22 pm

Mother of Invention: How Good Ideas Get Ignored in an Economy Built For Men by Katrine Marcal (or, according to LT, Katrine Kielos)

This is a great read, which I gobbled up today as I took a day of holiday. It's blurbed by Caroline Criado Perez, who says "A smart, witty and fascinating warning from history. I loved this book." And that's pretty much my opinion too :-) There's a delicious chapter on the rise of the influencer in the 2010s, starting with the Kardashians:
"The sisters helped millions of women to discover their own eyebrows and start diligently grooming them with special brushes. They normalised Botox by broadcasting injections of the poison into their faces, and they made it acceptable to spend 90 minutes in front of the mirror applying different shades of blush to their cheekbones. They also became incredibly rich."
Next up I've either got a true crime book or The Windsor Knot, but I think I'll catch up with some TV this evening.

Jul 23, 2021, 1:55 pm

>199 susanj67: & >200 susanj67: both of those sound most interesting and worthwhile but I don't think I'll go there right now -- maybe sometime soon.

Editado: Jul 24, 2021, 8:39 am

>201 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I think you need something a bit lighter at the moment but I hope you can find them eventually

A Plot to Kill by David Wilson

I saw this reviewed in The Times and I'd read about the murder that it relates to. It was an awful case a few years ago in which a young man had pretended to be in love with a much older man and then poisoned him after the older man's will had been changed. He got away with it until he tried something similar with an elderly female neighbour, but her family realised what he was up to and told the police. The author is a former prison governor and now an Emeritus Professor of Criminology.

I did find a bit woo-woo in parts - it's much more of an exploration of the killer and his victim and how exactly the "grooming" started than a straight true crime book, but overall it was a worthwhile read. Above all, it brings home the point that if you know someone old and/or lonely who suddenly seems to be in thrall to a new person, don't ignore things that make you uncomfortable about that new person. The killer in this case was a psychopath who managed to fool a lot of people, but some admitted afterwards that they wished they'd spoken up earlier. If the second victim's family hadn't said anything then it's entirely possible there would have been a second murder and more following that one.

Editado: Jul 25, 2021, 4:33 am

The Windsor Knot by S J Bennett

This is the first in the "Her Majesty the Queen Investigates" series, in which the Queen is secretly an amateur sleuth in addition to being Queen. This one is mostly set at Windsor Castle, and the investigation story runs alongside the Queen's day job, which is very well described. It's set in 2016 - the year the Queen turned 90, so the official birthday events are going on as the Queen's Assistant Private Secretary is interviewing people on the Queen's behalf. It's a "cosy", I suppose, if a cosy mystery can be set in a castle, a palace and racing around London. The next one is coming out in November :-)

Editado: Jul 28, 2021, 4:08 am

28. The World for Sale by Jack Farchy and Javier Blas

This is an excellent look at the history of the big commodity trading houses and how they operate. I realise that doesn't sound particularly interesting, but it really is. We all use commodities, all the time. But most of us probably give little thought to how they reach us, unless they don't. The authors are two journalists from Bloomberg, but the book is about a lot more than just business.

Jul 28, 2021, 2:24 pm

Golly, that looks a bit over my head. Rather more intrigued by the previous two mysteries, which are quite different!

Jul 29, 2021, 4:18 am

>205 Helenliz: It's very well explained, and not hard to follow at all :-)

One of the books I borrowed yesterday is Blood Legacy: Reckoning With a Family's Story of Slavery by Alex Renton, which seemed familiar but my LT book search told me that I hadn't read it. I think I was confusing it with Mr Atkinson's Rum Contract as the two have the same theme. I read a hundred pages last night because it's really compelling, so I'm off to a good start. It's a brand new hardback too, which is lovely. I also borrowed The Talented Mr Ripley because it was discussed in A Plot to Kill and there are multiple books with Ripley in them (!), and Second Sleep by Robert Harris. From my Kindle I've started The Once and Future Witches, which is just OK at this stage. I sense a busy weekend ahead of me :-)

Jul 29, 2021, 8:32 am

It sounds like you have enough books to keep you busy. For now...


Jul 29, 2021, 11:19 am

>207 katiekrug: Katie, well, you never know...:-)

I ventured over to the main mall at lunchtime, which is definitely busier than it has been since I came back in April. The Austen Reed shop (or was it Moss Bros?) is now an IV vitamin place called Get a Drip (I see what they did there): . Tiffany closed and is becoming a Jaguar showroom and Greggs is still promising goodies for "High (sausage) rollers" when they open at some unspecified future time. I bet they're all watching footfall carefully before they commit staff.

Editado: Jul 30, 2021, 6:00 am

Voicemail: "Please call back and ask for *Mary*."
Me: "Hello, can I speak to Mary, please?"
Number called: "Um, we don't actually have a Mary here..."
Me: (explains voicemail)
Number called: "Oh, you must mean *Mary*".

Now waiting for Mary to call me back. BUT I've worked out how to make my phone ring for calls but not beep/buzz every time an email comes in, so yay for that!

Jul 30, 2021, 11:12 am

>209 susanj67: You've reminded me of Lily Tomlin . . .

"Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?"

Jul 31, 2021, 3:47 am

>209 susanj67: And did Mary call back?
Saturday's weather due to be unsummery. Hope you have a stack of books and a watch list as long as your arm to occupy you. What happened to summer?

Jul 31, 2021, 8:20 am

When Mary means Mary and not Mary. Oh. My. God. Its the little stuff like that that makes me nuts.

Editado: Jul 31, 2021, 9:55 am

>210 rocketjk: Ha! Yes, it was a bit like that :-)

>211 Helenliz: Helen, yes, but, um, she did have a slightly different name. Darned hard-of-hearingness. I struggle with consonants at the beginning of words on the phone. Just one of the reasons I'd asked on the form to be contacted by email...

>212 Fourpawz2: Charlotte, yes although it was my fault, but that's why people should spell out their names. And both the names said by the person who answered the call sounded identical to me. Humph.

I took yesterday afternoon as a half-day and went down to Hobbycraft "Greenwich" (*whispers* it's actually "Charlton"). But it's an easy walk down the peninsula from North Greenwich tube and there's still a ton of building work going on so I like to see what they've thought up since last time. It was a little bit rainy as I walked, but only on and off and not seriously. But I'd scarcely got inside when the heavens opened like someone was hovering with a monsoon bucket. Everyone turned to look, and said Oooh. So I stayed for some time :-)

As Helen said above, we have now moved into the "unsummery" part of summer and the BBC forecast is full of raindrop icons for London, so I've stayed at home. I've just finished Blood Legacy but I'm going to start a new thread to review it because look how long this one is OMG.

ETA: New thread is here:
Este tópico foi continuado por Susan's ROOT Project for 2021 (3).