Monthly Archives: October 2017

Carnegie Story Trail

The Resident IT Consultant likes leaflets. He brings home many of them, and I’m not always grateful.

But, as he said, he thought I’d be interested in who was involved with this one he’d found. I was.

Carnegie Story Trail

So I am now going to ‘review’ what I’ve not read, because reading it would entail me travelling to a wood somewhere well north of Inverness. And I’m not too keen on woods. But you might be!

And when you arrive at Ledmore & Migdale Carnegie story trail, you are supposed to go geocaching to find the story that I can’t tell you too much about. Sorry.

I have tried getting my head round geocaching in general, and I read the instructions for this trail in particular, but I can’t say I get it. I was never too good at orienteering at school either, so that could be the reason.

But anyway, you go round this trail, looking for these spots, and then you search for the hidden story parts; the story written by Theresa Breslin and illustrated by Kate Leiper. And I’m guessing when you’ve found them all, they join up and make for a great reading experience. Which would be nice. Less nice if you missed the chapter by the root end of fallen tree.

In fact, especially that one, as it’s the last chapter. (I know this because apparently there are hints you can follow.)

This will be good for you. First the walk. Then the satisfaction of discovering all the chapters. Finally reading the story. It was written by the best and illustrated by the best.

What are you waiting for?

I’m not coming with you…

Carnegie Story Trail

Hiding in full view

Sometimes I do stuff which is not all that nice. Often it’s done hurriedly, and later I might wish I hadn’t. Once I had it forced on me. And that’s the one time I don’t regret.

I used to have this irrational belief that adults can and will behave like adults. That the politics from the school playground stayed there and didn’t enter any grown-up dealings. But as I watched the new employees of a small business I was slightly connected with, come, and go, followed by childish but unpleasant gossip behind their backs, I was a bit shocked. However, I assumed that what was said was mostly true, because I couldn’t see the point of them lying.

Until one day I realised that I was next. I wasn’t employed by the business, nor was I paid. I had believed this would safeguard me from being ‘fired.’ And I wasn’t, because I simply walked away.

But I could see that it was likely similar gossip would be used about me, and potentially to people I liked and who I would prefer if they continued liking me to the same extent they’d done in the past. And belatedly I understood that what had been said about all those other people had not been true, but more a way for the business owners to justify the departure of yet another member of staff.

What to do? Well, I blogged about it. No, not about that as such, but about what had gone before. It wasn’t nice, but it was done with names changed, and only to get in there first, in case anyone ever asked. Because blog posts are dated, and I’d read enough crime stories to see the value of that. And if it wasn’t needed, then no one would be any the wiser.

It deeply offended the business owners. I was actually quite touched that they continued reading Bookwitch after what had been said between us. The thing is, I didn’t want to upset them, even though they upset me at the time. It was merely intended as a safeguard.

In the years since, I have talked to others who knew them, and I believe I know where I stand with most of them. Some continue being friendly with the business, and I don’t mind that. Others have been able to share openly how they themselves felt ‘at their hands.’

The funny thing is, I am really, really good at bearing grudges. I could grudge for Scotland. But in this case I don’t. On the other hand, when I see they are looking to recruit new staff, I don’t suggest anyone has a go. I don’t wish that experience on anybody.

If the playground could have been left where it belonged, I reckon we would all have benefitted from continued collaboration. Because when it was good, it was good. It’s just that when it wasn’t, it really, really wasn’t.

What price books?

It’s odd. I could have sworn Waterstones were offering La Belle Sauvage for £10 earlier in the week. I felt that if I ended up having to buy my own copy, that was an OK price.

But when the Resident IT Consultant was dispatched to go bookshopping on Thursday afternoon, he found otherwise. First, he checked the Stirling Waterstones web page and saw the price was £12.99. We agreed this was still all right.

And when he got there, the price was £15.

As a good Scot he haggled. He told them about the £12.99 quoted, and said if they sold it at that price he’d buy two copies. After phoning higher powers for permission, they gave in.

If I’d known I’d need to pay, I’d have ordered early and bought at £10.

But at least we didn’t go for Blackwells Oxford on eBay, who were [are?] selling the book at a ‘reasonable’ £34.62. That’s with free postage. For a book with a cover price of £20, I am having trouble working out what’s going on.

And today…

I’m taking the day off, planning to have a weekend in Switzerland. Doing nothing. Not taking my computer with me, or anything.

I might tell you about it later. Or not. Taking two books; one for the outward flight and one for the return flight. Sorry, make that three. One should always carry a spare.

Lake Geneva


It ends well. Sort of. Ish. Monster is the first of a new trilogy set in the Gone world by Michael Grant. And I don’t really mean that it ended well. So many unbelievably horrible and gross things have happened by the end of it, that the tiny sliver of ‘sunshine’ on the last pages made me say it. Hope. Or the expectation that there might possibly be something positive in the next book, which is going to be called Villain.

Michael Grant, Monster

The fact that I read the whole book is proof of how well Michael writes. By the time the La Guardia incident ended on page 90 I was wondering whether I’d be able to go to bed. And not see what I had just read.

After that evening I took longer reading, because I had to avoid reading last thing before bed, if it was dark, or if I was alone in the house. It got better. Or I grew desensitised. Either way works.

But setting aside just how gross it is, this is another fantastic Michael Grant Gone story. The problem is far ‘worse’ than in the first six books. Believe me. It is. Although, encountering old friends is always good. There aren’t many of them, but more than I’d been led to understand. You get Dekka, and that makes you sort of happy. You feel safe. Ish.

As before, you can never be certain someone is dead, which depending on who it is, can be good, or bad.

I was disoriented at the start, as I felt I wasn’t returning to quite what I had left, four fictional years earlier. I remembered the end to be better than it’s now described as having been. And those survivors didn’t necessarily live happily ever after.

We have some great new characters in Shade, Cruz and Malik, and I grew really quite fond of Armo. Then there were others I didn’t. And when people morph after eating – yuk – bits of the alien rock that caused all this to begin with, it’s all a bit eugh.

Towards the end you come to understand that the La Guardia incident was fairly civilised as gory incidents go.

Happy reading!

The embargo

Reading Harry Potter a week after ‘everyone’ else never bothered me. I would hope for no spoilers, but I didn’t feel an absolute urgency. We already bought two copies of the book, and three or four would have been ridiculous. Especially as I preferred to take my time over the book, savouring the adventure, not wanting to hurry, and definitely not being an officially recognised reviewer.

I’ve had today’s date in my diary for months, and suspecting a return to the secrecy Harry got, I enquired a few months ago whether this was likely to happen again. Hard to tell whether I was strung along or misunderstood. I wouldn’t have minded the answer, whatever it was. I merely wanted to know what to expect.

As with Harry Potter, I know full well that a review – by anyone – is not needed. Millions of impatient fans will buy the new book. Most of them today.

I want to savour this book as well, so there’s not going to be a hurried review. It would obviously have been different had I been sent an early copy, in good time. I know there are copies. I know of some people who’ve had one. I’ve seen a photo of one. So not only do I know they are numbered (woe if your number ends up on eBay), but I know who’s got the number I’d have liked…

What I don’t know, at the time of writing this, is if today’s post will bring anything, or if I should put my shoes on and walk to the nearest bookshop. That is another bit of information I’d have appreciated, and I could have ordered online, in advance.

While a reply to my emails would have been nice, no one owes me anything.

Tea in the library

It wasn’t until I typed that heading, that I realised quite how Agatha Christie it sounds. There were no corpses, to the best of my knowledge. The books were legal registers, rather than books you’d actually read, but it still made for a suitably bookish backdrop.

My friend Pippi was in town (=Edinburgh), and like me she enjoys an extravagant afternoon tea. And she had just the place in mind for us to test. After all, someone has to. Colonnades at the Signet Library, right next to my very own Cathedral on the Royal Mile, made it easy(-ish) to get to.

Would have been easier had I not been required to bring a computer thingie for Son, who met my train at Waverley and then proceeded to walk with me. It’s uphill all the way and his idea of slow didn’t tally with mine. But we got there, and as we waited in the foyer for the clock to strike afternoon tea-time, he chatted to Pippi, before running off to do the kinds of things Sons do.

Pippi and I were shown to our own little alcove table in the sun, and the tea started coming. Now I know why they set aside two hours for it! It’s not so you can lounge; more to allow you to eat all of it, as the dishes keep coming. The photo below is my personal stand showing the savoury stuff. There was another for the sweet things. And two more for Pippi.

Colonnades at the Signet Library

I didn’t actually eat all of it. Honest.

Luckily the uphill meant it was downhill back to the train, which was a jolly good thing.

Before that, Pippi had asked me book questions I couldn’t answer, and then I told her what to read. She even asked me which bookshop I go to, which is an awkward question for someone who does not specialise in buying books. But I trust she will go somewhere, and buy some books, although hand luggage only means not too many of them.

Colonnades at the Signet Library

Yes, that is Pippi’s head at the bottom, with books behind her going way further than you can see.