Monthly Archives: July 2019

Choices

I was quite tickled to discover vigilante dentists in the book I was reading in the dentist’s waiting room this week. It was by Steve Cole, so not all that unlikely. I require books when in waiting rooms. It deals with the nerves. But I had nothing I’d started on this time, and it can be hard to open up a new novel in a waiting room situation. Because you just don’t know, do you? So I grabbed Steve’s latest, reckoning I’d be safe with him.

Wasn’t sure if I’d been sent this book for having been so positive about the first one in the series, or if I just look like a Steve Cole fan.

But these days I have shopping lists for books. It used to be I’d want the odd book I’d not been sent, and I’d maybe buy it if temptation got the better of me. Now I’m resorting to lists of books I want to read. The main reason for not having dealt with my current list yet is that I’ve not had time to shop, or felt I’ve had lots of time for reading. It’s not that I’m not wanting to read these books.

I even want a copy of Good Omens, despite having already bought one, over ten years ago. I pressed it into the hands of Son, and that was it. Now I want my own copy.

There are far too many top choices in books that publishers are being quite sparing with. Malorie Blackman’s new book was offered on Netgalley to a limited number of readers. Adrian McKinty’s golden new crime novel is proving impossible to hunt down. And so it goes.

Bad for the image of the blogger who not only gets everything free, but makes money from their blogging. WordPress are quite insistent that I want, need, their professional upgrade. Not so much to spread the word, but to make money for ‘my business.’ And I thought I was merely writing for pleasure…

I admit I’m tempted sometimes. But then I remember that with the lesser paid-for options you don’t even get snow in December. I almost cried last winter when the snow failed to fall on Bookwitch.

Good Omens, again

We’ve started on Good Omens on television again. The Resident IT Consultant and I watched it as soon as it was available, and managed to stretch it out over nine days, or something like that.

When Daughter asked if this was something she’d like – Good Omens, not the stretching – I only paused for a few seconds to run the possibility she might not like this wonderful book, especially on the screen, and especially with David Tennant in it. I could not come up with a reason against.

So now that we are all together in the same house for a few weeks, we’ve downloaded the episodes again and are watching with her. I’m fairly sure I could tolerate watching it with lots of different Offspring, one after the other, but I only have the two.

I’m relieved to discover we are having technical hitches even with someone young in the room. It’s clearly not just us old ones being old that causes it.

And you discover something new when you watch again. One day it might even become totally clear. Except it seems even God admits that the third baby is somewhat unaccounted for.

Sara on ICE

Isn’t it odd how people read books written by authors whose – sometimes strong – opinions they don’t share?

Whereas I am all for reading anything that appeals, in whatever way – if only to be able to throw the offending book into the fireplace, George Mikes style – I don’t get why I’d annoy myself by reading an annoying book.

I think I’ve seen something similar from Sara Paretsky earlier, but a couple of weeks ago she reported on an email from a ‘fan’ who thought Sara was too negative about ICE in her most recent novel, Shell Game. I believe Sara is negative about the actions of ICE, but even if she isn’t, it would still be appropriate in fiction about the state of things today, to say bad things about the bad things that occur.

Sara wrote this after taking part in a rally in Chicago, ‘to highlight opposition to the U.S. government’s detention policies and methods. One person had brought photographs of the children who’ve died in these border prisons, most of them alone, separated from their parents.’

We have to be grateful we have authors who care about these things, and who can put some of that which is wrong into fiction, making it known to more ordinary people. She hopes her writing is a bit like that of Mrs Gaskell’s. I believe it is.

And with every move my adopted country takes in the wrong direction, I am glad we have people who will speak out like this.

The Longest Night of Charlie Noon

I’m glad I read this book! I was going to, then decided not to, and then changed my mind again. You don’t need to go through this process; just take my word for it.

This is the story about three young children who get lost in the woods one night. Maybe, if I’d noticed the signs, I’d have realised it’s not set today, and that would have helped. But whatever your starting point, this is a fascinating meander in the suddenly so strange woods, where each of the children discover new things about themselves and about the other two.

Christopher Edge, The Longest Night of Charlie Noon

There are puzzles left in the woods for them to solve, and they need to cooperate to deal with them. They need to become friends. Two have always lived nearby, whereas Charlie has recently arrived from London. They all have something to contribute to help get them out of the woods.

This is middle grade reading at its best.

The Dangerous Lives of the Jacobites

The Jacobites used to get a mention in stuff the young witch watched on television. She had no idea then – or until much more recently – who they really were. Good? Bad? Or depends on who you are?

The latter, I’d say. Now I’ve read the story by Linda Strachan, about a Jacobite family in 1745, I feel I know a lot more, even if my head is reeling a bit from all the information.

Linda Strachan and Darren Gate, The Dangerous Lives of the Jacobites

I like the story about Rob and Aggie, and about fighting for Bonnie Prince Charlie. It’s as I usually say; it helps to understand history when you meet and get to know and like some of the people who were involved at the time.

It’s also useful to have facts to help with that understanding. However, I felt there was too much. I got lost among the Kings and all the rest of them. There were also several risings, and most of the old battles I’ve heard of appear in this book. But I do feel I’ve got the gist of what some Jacobites were like.

Illustrated by Darren Gate, you can see what kind of clothes they wore and what sort of house people like Rob and Aggie lived in. There’s a menu, as an example of what they had to eat. I reckon this kind of book will work very well in a classroom, helping to explain history.

For instance, for all the mentions I’ve come across in my life of Bonnie Prince Charlie, I had no idea he was ‘Italian.’ And in a way it’s a bit sad with all these princes who wanted to lay claim to thrones and who fought and sometimes died, and all for what? On the other hand, unlike today’s leaders, it seems they actually experienced the cold and the mud and the dangers. Just like their followers did.

Memories

After seeing a video snippet on – probably – Facebook the other day, I was gently guided by Daughter to Doctor Who and The Unicorn and the Wasp. What I’d seen was Agatha Christie introducing herself to a group of people, including Donna and the Doctor. And Daughter said it was a particularly good episode and why didn’t we watch it while the potatoes baked?

So we did. I vaguely recognised maybe one per cent of it and the rest was new. I guessed the recognition could be caused by trailers for the next episode. Or something.

I enjoyed it. And then we tried to work out why I hadn’t watched it in May 2008. (Because I obviously remember what I did eleven years ago.)

And, well. I hope I’m not getting demented, but it seems I did watch the episode back then, after all. Daughter went and found a blog post by some witch, which sort of proves it…

The Race to Space

There is more than one book about Apollo and space out, now that it’s been fifty years since Apollo 11. Clive Gifford’s The Race to Space, with illustrations by Paul Daviz, is perhaps a little more serious than When We Walked on the Moon. It starts much earlier and covers most of what went on in space for several decades.

Clive Gifford and Paul Daviz, The Race to Space

I have to admit I’m still upset about poor Laika, whose sad demise we weren’t told about back in the day.

As the title suggests this covers the race to get into space first, and then to get to the moon before ‘the others.’ It’s not a long book, so each chapter is brief, but you do get a very good picture of the space adventure we enjoyed in the middle of the last century.

It has more serious facts than the other book, so might require someone older, or at least, someone really keen on space, to read. But that’s fine. We are all at different stages in our fascination for space.

I reckon I would have liked this book even more, back when I was 13. But I like anything about space, and there will be many more like me today, who will really want to read this. And some will move on to do much more still.