SusanJ's 75 Books Challenge - Thread 7

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SusanJ's 75 Books Challenge - Thread 7

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1susanj67
Dez. 6, 2014, 11:52am




Hello and welcome to my last thread for 2014.

As with 2013 I'm going to run a ticker for my total number of books read and tickers for fiction and non-fiction, because I found that really useful in keeping myself on track.

In 2013 my goal was one-third non-fiction to two-thirds fiction, and I reached it. For 2014 I thought I would aim for half and half. Non-fiction was winning by quite an amount but then I got into a few fiction series, so fiction is catching up.








2susanj67
Bearbeitet: Dez. 6, 2014, 11:56am



175. Devil's Food Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Where I got it: Library ebook
Why I read it: It's the 14th instalment in the series set in the most dangerous small town in Minnesota

This time the victim is a visiting vicar...or is it? Hannah and her family try and solve the mystery, but Hannah has no luck at all with the mystery of Norman's strange moods. And the end of this one is an even better cliffhanger than the last. I had to download the next one immediately :-)

3Ameise1
Dez. 6, 2014, 11:54am

Happy New thread, Susan.

4Helenliz
Dez. 6, 2014, 12:03pm

Happy new thread, and love the tree.

5inge87
Dez. 6, 2014, 12:46pm

Congrats on the new thread!

6Crazymamie
Dez. 6, 2014, 12:48pm

Happy new thread, Susan!

7luvamystery65
Dez. 6, 2014, 2:21pm

Happy new thread Susan!

8DeltaQueen50
Dez. 6, 2014, 2:28pm

I love your tree, Susan, it looks very festive.

9thornton37814
Dez. 6, 2014, 7:53pm

Happy new thread! Opening with a murderous dessert sounds like a good way to start it. I enjoy some of Fluke's installments more than others.

10ronincats
Dez. 6, 2014, 9:36pm

Hee-hee, even though I'd never heard of a bonkbuster before, I totally got its meaning! The office tree still looks wonderful, Susan.

11susanj67
Dez. 7, 2014, 5:48am

>3 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara! I thought I'd squeeze in one more thread before the end of the year, as I hope to read quite a bit this month with my HOLIDAY (woo-hoo!)

>4 Helenliz: Thanks Helen. The other trees in the office have now made an appearance, so I'm not the only one :-) And I'm amazed to see that the shops are already discounting their (artificial) trees, and there is hardly an ornament to be found at the John Lewis along the road at work. Crazy!

>5 inge87: Thanks Jennifer!

>6 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie! I love the pictures of Abby on your thread - I must get over there and say so.

>7 luvamystery65: Thanks Roberta! Enjoy your RR with Katie - so sorry I have to give presentations at work and can't jump on a plane!

>8 DeltaQueen50: Thanks Judy. It really has cheered me up. I now smile whenever I walk into the office, which isn't my usual reaction :-)

>9 thornton37814: Thanks Lori. I think the books are becoming less mystery and more recipes!

>10 ronincats: Roni, it's been a word here for so long that I didn't even think - I suppose it's from "blockbuster" but with lots of added canoodling :-)

I skipped the Christmas movie on Friday and watched a documentary called "My Crazy Christmas Lights Obsession" which looked at various people who put on displays of lights all over their houses and have become a tourist attraction in their own right. I'd love to see the US equivalent as there's only so much you can do with a terraced house, but one chap reckoned he'd spent £90,000 over the years. Maybe next year I could get a bigger tree :-) Yesterday's movie was "Mrs Miracle", which was the best one so far. I love the Mrs Miracle films, and there's another one on later in the week. It's that picture-perfect small-town American Christmas setting mostly. And Mrs Miracle is a great character.



176. Cinnamon Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke

Where I got it: Library ebook
Why I read it: I just had to know what happened after the astonishing ending to the last one

In this one, there were two murders but only one of them was actually solved as the focus shifted mostly to the Norman issue (I'm trying to avoid spoilers). There were also gazillions of recipes, which are not just baking any more, but all sort of Minnesotan specialities. I don't think it would have made much sense to anyone who hadn't read the rest of the series, though. I was also intrigued, in this book and the one before, at the characters called "Grandma" (and then their surname). In the last book, Grandma Knudson featured (Reverend Bob's grandmother), while Andrea's housekeeper/babysitter is only ever referred to as "Grandma McCann". And Grandma Knudson was actually addressed as "Grandma" by some of the characters, like that was her actual name. I wondered whether that really happens, or whether the author had just made it up.

I've downloaded the next one, but I have to get my Christmas cards ready for posting tomorrow, so that has to take priority today. I've already received my first one, which is (always) from my brother's in-laws, who are lovely people and always remember me at Christmas, so theirs is first on my list.

12scaifea
Dez. 7, 2014, 8:22am

Happy New Thread, Susan!

13BekkaJo
Dez. 7, 2014, 8:53am

Merry Xmas threadage to you Susan!

And thank you for reminding me that I must start on the cards! Aghhhh! Now where in holy hell is the address book. Methinks still packed...

14Crazymamie
Dez. 7, 2014, 8:59am

Good Sunday Morning, Susan! I have not read any of those Joanne Fluke mysteries, but I can answer your Grandma question - both Craig and I had grandparents that went by Grandma and Grandpa followed by their surname. I never even knew their first names until I was older. And in small towns/rural communities I think that often someone's grandma becomes simply "Grandma" to everyone - I never understood this. Craig's parents went by simply Grammie and Grampy with their grandchildren, with no other name attached, but nobody else called them that.

15susanj67
Dez. 7, 2014, 10:12am

>12 scaifea: Thanks Amber!

>13 BekkaJo: Bekka, the address book will be in the last box you look in. I hope that helps :-) Mine is new and already I've had to cross out two people's addresses and write in new ones - grrr. It was looking so neat as well :-) I've done my overseas cards, except for my aunt, who needs a religious one. I will have to try and find one in among the Santas and snowmen and other irreligious cards, which are most of them. I'll do the local ones next weekend. I'm making some of them, so it's quite slow going, but fun.

>14 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie - that is so weird, though! I can't imagine calling someone "Grandma" when they had an actual name! Still, I do love learning new things about Minnesota from those books, so I'm glad this was an actual thing and not just invented. In the last book, Hannah's younger sister was cooking from all sorts of random ingredients and Hannah was proud that she was turning into "a real Minnesotan cook" :-) I suppose that's what people have to do if they can't get through the weather to get to the shops.

On the subject of The Cold, does anyone have any views on fleece sheets? I had QVC on last night and the American guest host, who was selling leisurewear, mentioned that she'd just discovered "polar fleece sheets" and asked the UK host whether QVC sold them. The host mentioned the Cozee Home brand, and they do indeed stock them, but I've never heard of them before. We have flannelette sheets here, but fleece sheets seem to be big in the US but not on this side of the ocean (yet). Are they really warm? Reviewers say that they do away with "sheet shock" (the QVC term for that cold feeling of cotton sheets in the winter) and I can see that, but they're also 100% polyester, which I'm not sure about.

16Fourpawz2
Dez. 7, 2014, 2:39pm

Growing up I had 2 grandmothers. One was called Grandma and the other - my father's mother - was called Grandma also, but to distinguish her from my mother's mother she had her last name tacked onto that as well. This state of affairs continued until I was in my early twenties when I suddenly started calling Grandma, Granny, which meant that I could drop the last name for Daddy's mother. (I'd long thought her name with it's 5 syllables was far too long). The two grandmothers were fine with my change, but Grandpa was totally pissed off because he thought 'Granny' made his wife sound old. It was always that way in my family. Someone always has to be put out over some little thing or other.

17Helenliz
Dez. 7, 2014, 2:57pm

Until my teens I had 4 grandparents and 2 great grandparents. My female grandparesnts were distinguished as Grandma and Granny, but the males were both Grandad. If we had to distinguish between them they were referred to as Granny's Grandad or Grandma's Grandad.
The two Great grandparents were both female and were Great Granny with surname attached.

It made perfect sense to us as children, but sounds awfully convoluted when I try to explain it to anyone else!

I'll veto the polyester sheets no matter how warm they're supposed to be. Try an underblanket if you want some extra warmth. Pure cotton is the only thing I'd consider sleeping under. We have a duvet and I usually have a blanket on top as I feel the cold rather more than he does. But each to their own...

18susanj67
Dez. 8, 2014, 4:49am

>16 Fourpawz2:, Charlotte, my mother was always insistent that she would not be "Grandma" or "Granny" for that very reason :-) In the end she died before it became an issue, and I'm not sure what the nephews call their other grandmother, or indeed what they call my stepmother. I think her grandchildren refer to my father as "Grandpa Bob" to distinguish him from her first husband, who is their actual grandfather.

>17 Helenliz: Helen, how lucky you were to have all your grandparents, and two greats. I never had Grandads, and even the man who would have been my step-grandad died before I was born. All three of them were apparently lovely.

In the Hannah Swensen books, "Grandma" is used as a name and a greeting by people who are not related to the "Grandmas" at all. Hannah (no relation to Grandma Knudson) refers to her as "Grandma Knudson" in conversation with other people and addresses her as "Grandma", which is what weirded me out. I've never heard that done before. I would always say "Mrs Knudson" or "Edith" (actually we never learn what her first name is, because she's just "Grandma"). Calling someone "Grandma" when they're not your own Grandma seems odd. Sometimes you hear "Grandad" here, but only as a term of insult, e.g. when someone's going too slowly on the motorway :-) It made me wonder whether you have to be a certain age to have the community address you like that, and, if you are that age but with no grandchildren, what do they call you then? All questions I'm sure the author had no intention of raising when she wrote her cosy mystery!

The third sign of Christmas appeared last night - I heard The Pogues with "Fairytale of New York" on the radio. Now it's really Christmas! And the library, which is closed over the break, is now stamping books for 2 January. Yay! I went in to pick up The Tilted World this morning (Hi Katie!) and also picked up Cheek by Jowl: A History of Neighbours and The Eighties: One Day, One Decade, which is about the Live Aid concert in 1985.



177. Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Where I got it: Library ebook
Why I read it: I had to find out what happened next

In this one, Hannah not only finds the body, but becomes a suspect in the murder, and is grilled by Mike at the police station. Later, in a secret meeting in the pantry at The Cookie Jar, he explains that she'll have to prove that she *didn't* murder the victim. I was a bit disappointed that she didn't refer to the Constitution and explain how he was wrong, but proving herself innocent did give her something to do for the rest of the book.

The library doesn't have the most recent two in the series as ebooks, so I have reserved the next one, which is currently out on loan from Enfield.

19Fourpawz2
Dez. 8, 2014, 8:31am

I understand now about your problem with the whole 'Grandma' designation. The boy next door, when we were young, had an issue with me because I called his mother Rita instead of Aunt Rita which was what he thought I should call her. It was an ongoing argument between the two of us for a few days because I would not, on the grounds that Rita was not my aunt.

20susanj67
Dez. 8, 2014, 8:54am

>19 Fourpawz2:, Charlotte, my mother HATED the "Uncle/Aunt" thing for people who were not, in fact, our uncles or aunts, and would never let us do it. Friends' parents were "Mr and Mrs X". But one of my friends always did it with my parents, and now a friend's daughters call me "Aunty Susan". My stepmother has a term for it - "courtesy aunt", which I think is perfect.

21katiekrug
Dez. 8, 2014, 12:15pm

Ooooh, The Tilted World! Hope you like it as much as I did!

22susanj67
Bearbeitet: Dez. 9, 2014, 6:46am

>21 katiekrug: Katie, I loved your review, so I'm sure I will. I intended to start it last night but got waylaid by the TV.

Meanwhile, Project Re-Shelve continues. Last night another one of the hairdressers came over and said it looked great. The romance/chick-lit/saga/bonkbuster section has now doubled (eek!) so I didn't get to crime/thrillers, but never mind. Ideally I would like to have cleared all the shelves and sorted everything out before re-shelving it, but that's not possible with the little bits of time I have, so there is a system but it may not be immediately apparent to the casual observer :-) The shelves aren't bookshelves either, for the most part, but a glass display case sort of thing - far too deep and the shelves too far apart. I'm thinking of double-shelving some of the lower shelves of romance as there will be a big gap between rows, and the back row will be clearly visible through the glass to someone looking down on them. Currently some of the shelves I haven't got to yet have a row on top of another row, but that does look messy.

I've also found heaps of duplicates - five extra copies of Bridget Jones's Diary, three of the sequel, and millions of the Binchys, Cooksons and Kinsellas. There's at least a shelf-worth of those, so they've come out. I think it will be the same for the Dan Browns and the Harlen Cobens (if I've spelled that right). The non-fiction is also growing quite alarmingly as I go through the shelves. Tempting though it is to print out the entire Dewey classification, I'm going to have to go quite broad or it will never be finished. Of course, I suppose I could always refine it later :-)

23lunacat
Dez. 9, 2014, 9:52am

We had Grammie and Grandie growing up because my oldest cousin (their first grandchild) designated them as such when she was learning to talk. I think they were quite upset when our great-aunt (Grandie's younger sister) then adopted the same for their own grandchildren as they liked being unique.

So I had Grammie and Grandie, and Grandma and Granddad on the other side, but I never had much to do with the latter. We also had Granny who was my great-grandmother and who lived to be 102 so was around for a lot of my childhood!

My mum says she will NEVER be Granny so I guess it's Grandma or nothing if I ever have children, unless they come up with something on their own. My cousin's children call my aunt (their grandmother) Grandma but my uncle is Grancha.

My other cousins have Grandma Cats and Grandma P (and respective Granddads).

24Crazymamie
Dez. 9, 2014, 10:22am

Well, I'm going to be Grandmamie if I ever get there. And Craig is going to be Pops. Why? Because it cracks us up!

25BekkaJo
Dez. 9, 2014, 11:25am

#22 Love project re-shelve. See we all may pass as fairly normal in our real lives... then someone presents us with a big mess of books and we show our true colours :)

26souloftherose
Dez. 9, 2014, 1:46pm

>22 susanj67: I like the sound of Project ReShelve :-)

27lkernagh
Dez. 9, 2014, 11:22pm

Happy new thread, Susan! I haven't read any of the Joanna Fluke books but they do sound like fun.... maybe I will start them after I complete my binge read of the Inspector Montalbano books. One binge at a time, I say.

Nope.... never heard of fleece sheets and you would think something like that would be so Canadian considering the abundance of polar fleece one can see everywhere. I have two polar fleece throw blankets and I can tell you that I will take the "sheet shock" of cotton sheets any day over fleece sheets.

I love Project Re-Shelve!

28SandDune
Dez. 10, 2014, 3:11am

>28 SandDune: Reviewers say that they do away with "sheet shock" (the QVC term for that cold feeling of cotton sheets in the winter)
I thought 'sheet shock' died in the 1970's once everyone had central heating!

29susanj67
Bearbeitet: Dez. 10, 2014, 6:20am

>23 lunacat: Jenny, you're another lucky one with all four grandparents! I always wanted a grandpa. I had Grandma and Nana, and in NZ Nana's husband would usually be "Poppa" but I never got a chance to find out. I love the way your great aunt purloined the nicknames :-)

>24 Crazymamie: Mamie, that would sound very cool!

>25 BekkaJo: Bekka, that is so true :-) The book exchange has been driving me mad for YEARS. It's basically just a dumping gound. Brrrr.

>26 souloftherose: Heather, I just hope I can finish it. Yesterday when I went down there, someone (and my suspicions fall on the stamps and dry-cleaning lady) had pushed all the books back against the very back of the shelves.

>27 lkernagh: Lori, the sheets are described as "micro-fleece" so I don't think they're like fleece blankets, exactly, but then the pictures aren't that clear. I would indeed think that they would be big in Canada if they were going to be big anywhere!

>28 SandDune: Rhian, I'm not sure but my bedroom isn't heated (there is an electric heater on the wall but it's useless) so I still have sheet-shock. I've ditched the electric blanket this year as it was getting a bit elderly and also I hardly used it last year (but then that was a warm winter). Maybe flanellette is the way to go, but I hate to think how long they would take to dry. I'm surrounded by laundry drying much of the time as it is.

I'm at home today as my poor head/neck/shoulder has given up the ghost, but I did a bit of Project Re-Shelve last night, and finally started crime and thrillers. Plus expanded the romance etc section yet again. I've had to shelve books on top of other books, which I don't like, but the double-shelving didn't work, as I could SEE the books at the back but couldn't REACH them. D'oh! I've pulled out about four archive boxes-worth of duplicate books (or whatever the word for SEVEN copies of Bridget Jones's Diary is) and there are more to find, so actually I think that the overcrowding issue may not be so bad once I've finished. I've found a whole run of Patricia Cornwell novels which I seems to remember grouping together years ago, so that's helpful.

30BekkaJo
Dez. 10, 2014, 10:57am

Sorry you're feeling bad Susan - hope that some rest helps that pesky shoulder/neck problem.

And that does seem an excessive amount of Bridget Jones...

31susanj67
Dez. 10, 2014, 1:23pm

>30 BekkaJo: Thanks Bekka. I seem to have been working for most of the day anyway, but I did sneak in a nap this afternoon :-) There are also a lot of Girls with Dragons, Dan Browns, Sam Bournes (I've never heard of him before) and James Pattersons. I nearly shelved a Jack Reacher book (by Lee Child) under REA, though, which was poor :-) I actually had to stop and think "Jack Reacher is not a real person". And I didn't quite believe myself. Are you getting the "weather bomb"? What a ridiculous name. It's supposed to hit my side of the country tomorrow. Oooh.

32lunacat
Dez. 10, 2014, 1:32pm

>29 susanj67: Well I've got no grandparents now, and I had very little to do with the grandparents on my Dad's side. In fact I didn't set eyes on my grandfather (my grandmother having already died) after my dad's death when I was nine. And yes, I'm still bitter that he didn't try to keep in touch with his only grandchild.

But on a happier note, I adored Grammie and Grandie and they were a huge part of my life. I miss them, and the almost perfect times we had together, every day. Or perhaps it's that I miss the feeling their home was separate from the rest of the world, and nothing negative could touch me while I was there. Either way, I wish I had realised how important they were when they were here, instead of now they are gone.

33susanj67
Dez. 10, 2014, 1:46pm

>32 lunacat: Jenny, that's sad about your Dad's father. My mother's family all fell out with one another years ago, so I am missing two uncles and an aunt, and only recovered the other aunt after my mother died. The missing one lives quite near me, ironically, but the last time I saw her (in NZ) I was about three. There's a picture of us together and she looked like she was having a good time, but evidently not good enough to stay in touch. I was always very close to my paternal Grandma, and I felt the same about her house as you do. It was an old villa built in the 1920s, with the high ceilings and dark corners. There was a ceramic cat in the shadows behind the front door, which she gave me when she moved out. I was always mildly scared of it as a kid, but, looking at it in the light for the first time I saw it was an Art Deco-style bookend, one of a pair that my father and uncle had bought her for mother's day one year. The other one was long gone, and they were probably only from Woolworths, but I've always kept it with me.

34BekkaJo
Dez. 10, 2014, 2:58pm

#31 LOL!

My chimney is howling which means the winds are high - not as bad as last night though - last night was mental. Despite good windows and double glazing the blinds were moving on the inside of the windows...slightly worrying!

35katiekrug
Dez. 11, 2014, 4:30pm

Hi Susan,
Just wanted to let you know that we are here at a resort in Cedar Creek, Texas, further planning your visit. Better start looking at flights!
Love,
Roberta and Katie

36luvamystery65
Dez. 11, 2014, 4:34pm

^What Katie said!

37susanj67
Bearbeitet: Dez. 12, 2014, 8:02am

>34 BekkaJo: Bekka, it sounds like the west is getting it worst today so I hope you're OK. We had a 12-hour wind warning here, from midnight, so of course it's one of the stillest, quietest days I can remember, even out here at the Wharf which I am sure is one of the windiest places in the country.

>35 katiekrug:, >36 luvamystery65: Hi ladies! I've been wondering how it's going. Last night I had a strange dream in which I'd bought air tickets to NZ and they involved three days in Dallas, and I thought "I'll be able to see Katie and Roberta!" I hope you're both rested and well-read :-)

38susanj67
Bearbeitet: Dez. 12, 2014, 12:54pm

Oh my word, I just went down to do a bit on Project Re-Shelve, and there were *gaps* in the romance etc section, like people had *actually borrowed stuff*!! "It's so much easier to find things now," said one of the hairdressers who came over to admire it with me. I think I will have to make an appointment as they are all so nice, plus undoubtedly handy.

Crime and thrillers is nearly complete and I have a sneaky pile of fantasy and one of sci-fi ready to be shelved once I see how much more room I need for crime. There's one nightmare double-sheved cabinet left which I suspect holds all sorts of horrors. (Ooops , that reminds me, horror). There's also going to be a children's/YA section, and classics, which are also more or less grouped together, waiting for space allocation. And then non-fiction, which at this rate is going to take up three or four half-bays. And general fiction, which is everything else :-) I've had to shelve rows on top of other rows, but I hope to be able to undo some of that once it's finished, as the duplicates are still piling up.

39DeltaQueen50
Dez. 12, 2014, 2:38pm

Sounds like your inner librarian has risen to the surface, Susan. There is nothing I find more relaxing than arranging books on shelves!

40katiekrug
Dez. 12, 2014, 5:51pm

I want to see a picture of your re-shelving project!

41Ameise1
Dez. 13, 2014, 7:55am

>38 susanj67: Susan, that sounds like you are very busy and chimming in for pictures. I wish you a fabulous weekend.

42susanj67
Bearbeitet: Dez. 13, 2014, 12:23pm

>39 DeltaQueen50: Judy, my inner librarian is never very far from the surface :-)

>40 katiekrug: Katie, I'll have to see what I can do when it's all finished. Meanwhile, take it from me that if you wanted a bonkbuster by Jilly Cooper, you would now have no trouble finding one :-)

>41 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara" What a pretty picture.

I'm rationing my time on the computer over the weekend, to give my arms a break. There will also be no more game-playing on the Kindle while I'm watching TV. I actually *watched* a whole programme this afternoon, looking at the TV for all of it, and not just occasionally.



178. The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly

Where I got it: Library
Why I read it: Katie's great review

I've hardly read any fiction this year that isn't crime or romance, and I *loved* this one, partly for the excellent characters and partly because it's the only non-genre fiction I can remember reading recently. It's a delight, and it was also set at a time (the Mississippi flood of 1927) that keeps popping up in various MOOC courses, so I've ordered the book that the authors cite at the end as one of their best sources. What a huge disaster for the US and yet, as they say, hardly remembered now. Thanks for a great recommendation, Katie. One of the authors' other books appears to be on the shelf at my library so I'm going to look for it on Monday.

I'm currently reading The Eighties: One Day, One Decade which is a good read so far. Then I only have one library book left, but fortunately I've found quite a few excellent things at the book exchange which I can bring home for Christmas :-)

43katiekrug
Dez. 13, 2014, 4:45pm

>42 susanj67: - Excellent! Glad you liked that one. If the book your library has is Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, that is also very good. I have a few other ones by Frnaklin but haven't read them yet...

44susanj67
Dez. 14, 2014, 4:03am

>43 katiekrug: Katie, that is indeed the one! I love it when stuff is on the shelf as it means I don't have to use up a reserve slot. I'm trying not to reserve so many things as they all arrive at once. I'm even considering a rule of no more than three reserves at once for 2015. But then I am weak...

45susanj67
Dez. 14, 2014, 12:21pm

Today I have solved a mystery!

A few years ago, a friend sent me two of these as a thank-you for proof-reading her PhD thesis. They're Alessi. But, I didn't know what they were FOR.



(Picture from Amazon.co.uk)

The bit in the middle is a cord, and the bottom figure moves up and down the cord. But what were they? I looked and looked and thought and thought, and then I put them in a drawer. This morning I found them again, while I was looking for something else in the drawer. I looked again. Nothing. But then I googled "Alessi" and "bookmark" and voila! That's what they are! They're a joint project with the National Palace Museum of Taiwan and there are lots of other things in the collection, according to Amazon.

I'm so glad I've worked that out :-)

46susanj67
Dez. 14, 2014, 4:32pm



179. The Eighties: One Day, One Decade by Dylan Jones

Where I got it: Random library book
Why I read it: It looked interesting, and it was fairly new and clean :-)

This is the story of the Live Aid concert, which took place on 13 July 1985 and changed things forever, or so the author argues. And actually I can see his point. It changed the idea of charity, certainly, and gave the lie to the Eighties being a me me me decade. It changed how the music business worked, because it was the last big thing that was actually in control of the industry rather of than the press. And I can certainly agree with that. The acts at Live Aid were (mostly) proper acts, not the manufactured talentless pop icons that we are deluged with today. And that's a result of the media. One person speaking about the day made the point that the TV cameras followed the musicians around, whereas today they'd be in charge of what happened and when, and the "talent" would just do as they were told in order to produce the product that the TV company wanted to broadcast.

Jones seems to have interviewed dozens of people for the book, and includes lengthy excerpts from his discussions with Bob Geldof, so in a way it's quite topical at the moment with the re-release of the Ban Aid single for the Ebola appeal. There's also a lot about how the acts were chosen, and how it all worked on the day, with lots of backstage gossip although Jones was a twenty-something in the audience at Wembley, so he's done a great job of getting people to talk. And, as he points out, the pictures of the event are finite. There were no cameraphones, so no-one can ever come up with previously unseen footage shot backstage. What we've seen is all we will ever see. And now most of it seems to be on YouTube, which was convenient when I wanted to watch the Queen set, which seems, by common agreement, to be the Best Live Set EVER. And it is indeed awesome. (Freddy Mercury had a vocal range of FOUR octaves. There was no miming for Freddy).

The book also looks at the 1980s a little bit more widely, although always coming back to that day. The concert started at midday here in the UK, so in New Zealand it was the middle of the night and I don't recall seeing any of the British part live. But, thinking back, I was pretty sure that I'd seen Bruce Springsteen in the US part, which started later. I read on a few pages and the author mentioned that his wife had a clear memory of Springsteen singing "Philadelphia" at Live Aid. Hey! I did remember something after all. But then he pointed out that the song wasn't even written then, and Springsteen wasn't in fact there at all. Those "memories" are actually myths :-)

This would probably appeal to a UK audience more than a US one, as it focuses on the UK concert and doesn't have anything particularly good to say about the US part, but I thought it was a great read and I learned a lot of "behind the scenes" things about bands that I loved as a teenager, and have spent much of the day playing 80s music, at least until my tapedeck (!) chewed up two Sade tapes and the best of Cyndi Lauper. I think it might be kaput.

47DeltaQueen50
Dez. 14, 2014, 7:41pm

Susan, I have absolutely got to read a "bonkbuster" just so I can use that word in a review!

48Helenliz
Dez. 15, 2014, 1:44am

>46 susanj67: Oh my, that's one for a trip down memory lane. Kicked off with the Quo. I watched the entire thing, both UK and US concerts, me & dad sitting up until the wee small hours. No way is that nearly 30 years ago...

49susanj67
Dez. 15, 2014, 5:43am

>47 DeltaQueen50: Judy, maybe you could add a bonkbuster category to your 2015 challenge? :-)

>48 Helenliz: Helen, that's amazing! You should definitely get the book. I was just talking to one of the girls at work and she watched most of it too.

It was terrible to wake up this morning to the news about the cafe siege in Sydney - I know it's probably silly to worry about one of my friends who is over there, but our Sydney office is in the CBD and so I am. I suppose the police are just waiting for the stupid idiot gunman to tire himself out.

50Fourpawz2
Dez. 15, 2014, 8:35am

Hope your friend is safe, Susan. It's not silly. It only shows that you care. Hoping the standoff is over soon and that none of the hostages get hurt.

51DeltaQueen50
Dez. 15, 2014, 6:40pm

>49 susanj67: Well, I do have a category called "Is This A Kissing Book?" so perhaps a bonkbuster or two will show up there!

52susanj67
Dez. 16, 2014, 1:00pm

>50 Fourpawz2: Thanks Charlotte. She was safe, but it was so very terrible to read about the hostages who died. Both of them seemed like lovely people - what an immense loss to their families.

>51 DeltaQueen50: Judy, I think they should :-) The book exchange has a giant copy of Old Sins which I loved when I read it years ago. I'm trying to persuade one of the hairdressing ladies to borrow it, but now I'm tempted to take it home for Christmas.

Project Re-Shelve went really well today after a slightly headless-chicken day yesterday. (Too. Many. Books). Everything is pretty much grouped together now, but there is twice as much crime as I thought there would be and a lot more general fiction. And HEAPS of non-fiction, which is going to mean moving some things around tomorrow. For now I've just corralled it all together. A question for the librarians: Do I really have to shelve The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series in crime, or can I have it in general fiction? Precious Ramotswe doesn't really fit with Jack Reacher et al, does she?

53inge87
Dez. 16, 2014, 1:57pm

>52 susanj67: I'm not officially a librarian (yet) but I did take cataloging this past semester. Basically every library is different, and if you think those books are better placed in general fiction than crime, then go ahead and put them there. It's totally allowed.

54elkiedee
Dez. 16, 2014, 4:35pm

There have always been very different styles of crime fiction though - not much murder in the Mma Ramotswe stories, true, but I'd probably put it there, as they are stories of detection and problem solving, and people may read both or may like other fairly cosy sleuth books. My crime fiction bookcase was full before I heard of Alexander McCall Smith but I would tend to put him with the crime fiction anyway, it may be as much about where I first heard of him.

My local library has lots of crime series shelved partly under crime and partly as general fiction. The Camden branch I currently go to seems to have just shelved all the fiction together, crime or not.

55susanj67
Dez. 18, 2014, 4:51am

>53 inge87: Thanks Jennifer! I'm pleased to know I can have my own rules :-)

>54 elkiedee: Luci, as we have quite a few in his other series, I've decided to keep them all together in general fiction. Those cheerful covers of the Precious Ramotswe series in among the black, blood-dripping covers of the serious crime novels have always bemused me at the library.

It's nearly finished! General fiction is in perfect order now, and I put the classics in with them, because it's too hard to work out what is a "classic" and what isn't. Romance etc and crime/thrillers now need reshelving to incorporate the endless Danielle Steels and James Pattersons I have found while doing the other shelves, but at least everything will fit. I found a table yesterday, hidden from view, which I am going to use for the book categories that won't fit on the shelves (children's, horror, maybe fantasy) and for returns/donations. I'm going to make a little boxpark for the books, like those shipping container shopping centres. It might prompt some new shelves. The hairdressers told me yesterday that they had heard talk of new shelves, but that none had shown up. I've also got to label everything today, so I have a roll of glue dots with me for my shelf signs. And I'd like to make a start on organising the non-fiction, with my Dewey list :-) In my defence, it's just in tens. For now.

56katiekrug
Dez. 18, 2014, 8:42pm

>55 susanj67: - "For now."

*snort*

57susanj67
Dez. 19, 2014, 4:20am

>56 katiekrug: Would it be wrong to confess to some "Recommended" display ideas for next year? (not by colour, as the public library does it).

Yesterday I finished romance. Finished! Today I'm determined to finish crime. I have one bay shelved in order, but there's another half-bay's worth of crime that needs interfiling. Today is my last day in the office for the year so the non-fiction will have to wait to be sorted properly, but at least it's all together and I've pulled out a number of biographies and memoirs and put them together, so it's a start. People are borrowing stuff, though - the general fiction was pretty snug by the time I finished it and now there are quite a few gaps :-) I set up a a "Returns and Donations" box last night so I'm quite excited to see if there's anything in it this afternoon when I go down there!

I have a little stack of things to read during my fortnight off - actually about eight things so I will be kept busy. I'm going to cut the computer time down to an hour a day maximum while I'm off work - my arms are in a terrible state.

58BekkaJo
Dez. 19, 2014, 10:14am

Oooh - recommended reads. Your heart will just thrill when you come back and find someone's borrowed one :) I used to love doing that sort of display in my library days.

59susanj67
Dez. 19, 2014, 10:46am

>58 BekkaJo: I'm looking forward to it!

Meanwhile, I've had a new idea for next year's Project Rudolph...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2879785/Cubicle-cabin-fever-Saleswoman-s...

I could totally do that.

60Ameise1
Dez. 19, 2014, 3:17pm

>59 susanj67: LOL, that's gorgeous.

61ronincats
Dez. 19, 2014, 10:53pm

I love the cubicle, but I am amazed and proud of you for what you have done with the library!

62Ameise1
Dez. 20, 2014, 8:38am

Susan, I wish you a lovely weekend and Merry Christmas.

63susanj67
Dez. 22, 2014, 3:17am

>60 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara :-)

>61 ronincats: Thanks Roni! I'm pleased with the way it's turned out, and I can see that already people are borrowing things so I hope it increases the amount raised for the charity it supports (50p per book borrowed). I just have the non-fiction to put into order after Christmas. On Friday I finished the crime, sci-fi, fantasy and horror and labelled the shelves so all the fiction is now in order in categories. It's very satisfying!

>62 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. Happy Christmas to you too!



180. Cheek By Jowl: A History of Neighbours by Emily Cockayne

Where I got it: Library
Why I read it: A random library book because (a) it was on display and (b) I liked the cover

This was an excellent read! It looks at how people have lived together in the UK over the centuries, and contains a fair amount of nerdy legal stuff as well as social history. I think that today, in fights over noise and Leylandii hedges, we tend to lose sight of the fact that things were *so much worse* in history, as people lived much closer together and hygiene was so dire (there is a fair amount about shared toilets, which will horrify modern readers). This is one of my top reads of the year, which is pretty good for a book I borrowed on a whim.

I'm now about 35% of the way into In These Times, Jenny Uglow's superb look at what life was like in the UK during the Napoleonic wars. It's another one that's going to make it onto my list of 2014's stand-out books.

64souloftherose
Bearbeitet: Dez. 22, 2014, 8:26am

>180 A wishlist hit for Cheek by Jowl and I like your reasons for checking it out of the library.

I also have In These Times out of the library although I don't know whether I will get to it this month. Glad to hear you're enjoying it!

A bit early but wishing you a merry Christmas now in case I don't make it back to your thread later this week.

65lit_chick
Dez. 22, 2014, 12:23pm

Hi Susan, I love the little Christmas tree you have on your desk! And that cubicle log cabin is WOW! Just WOW! I hope you will do it next year!

66inge87
Bearbeitet: Dez. 22, 2014, 5:40pm

>63 susanj67: In These Times doesn't come out over here until late January, but I already have it pre-ordered because I liked her last book so much. Good to get news that my faith has not been misplaced.

And Cheek by Jowl does sound interesting.

67susanj67
Dez. 23, 2014, 3:53am

>64 souloftherose: Hi Heather! I'm sure you'll love Cheek By Jowl - the author has a lovely droll tone and doesn't just report what went on, but sometimes comments on it. There are some very funny parts. In These Times is a real chunkster (very thin pages so it doesn't look like the 650 pages that it really is) so if you're busy over Christmas it might not be the best thing to start. I'm aiming for about 150 pages a day, but then I have nothing else to do :-)

>65 lit_chick: Hi Nancy! I'm not sure I'll achieve the full log cabin look, but my roomie is quite keen to do something bigger (yes, I'll blame it on her :-) ) and we've had some great feedback on the tree/advent buckets and the Christmas stitching.

>66 inge87: Jennifer, you'll love In These Times - it's definitely worth the wait! It was a Samuel Johnson prize nominee and it's taken *months* to get to me from when I reserved it, although I see that actually it was only released here on 6 November so it must have been listed for a while but not actually available.



181. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Where I got it: Book exchange at work (!)
Why I read it: I noticed this as I was putting the general fiction in order, and then it popped up on a list of favourite Christmas reads of an author I like, so I borrowed it. With four other things. But let's not focus on that...

This cute novella is the story of Luther and Nora Krank, who decide to skip Christmas one year when their daughter is away with the Peace Corps, and spend the money on a cruise instead. To be honest, the idea is Luther's, and Nora faces some dilemmas about whether to join in, but soon they are both avoiding the neighbours together, and being judged for not holding their famous Christmas Eve party or having a Frosty on their roof like the rest of the street. Naturally there's a twist. This was a funny and sweet read, perfect for Christmas.

Today's reading plans: My allotted pages from In These Times and then The Hot Zone, a book about an Ebola outbreak in 1980, republished to take advantage of the current interest in the virus.

68susanj67
Dez. 23, 2014, 4:29pm



182. The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

Where I got it: Library
Why I read it: It's about an Ebola outbreak in the US in 1989. Yes, that's right.

Originally written in 1994, this book has been republished because of all the interest in the current Ebola outbreak, which is the world's largest, or at least the largest known one. It looks at how the Ebola and Marburg viruses were first diagnosed in Africa, and then at an outbreak in a quarantine facility in Reston, Virginia, which housed monkeys imported from the Philippines. That was another surprise - how could Philippine monkeys have Ebola? The answer to that question is still a mystery, but the book is a good account of what happened once the monkeys started dying, the conflict between the Army and the CDC and the personal stories of some of the people involved. Interestingly, some of them were convinced that Ebola could in fact be carried through the air, and isn't just transmissible via blood and other body fluids. Evidently the thinking on that has changed as we're now told that it's *not* airborne. Let's hope they're right about that. Despite some injuries among workers that were feared to be fatal, none of them actually died. Tested later, they were all found to be infected with Ebola, but a strain now known as "Ebola Reston", which is very mild in humans, and which eventually left their systems.

The author does a bit of wondering about just how far the disease will eventually spread (along with AIDS, which, in 1994, was still pretty new) and his predictions haven't come true (yet) but he does suggest that perhaps these viruses are the response of the earth to the sheer load of humans currently living on it and grabbing all the resources.

Another answer, perhaps, is that people have been dying of these diseases in Africa for a long time, but they've only made their way out of the continent comparatively recently, with improved transport links (AIDS apparently spread along the Kinshasa Highway once it was tarmacked, increasing traffic levels) and international travel and certainly Western-style medical record-keeping is very recent. We only have to look at how information about the current outbreak is being exchanged on social media, let alone through formal medical channels, to see how much easier it is to understand what's happening and where than it ever was in the past.

This was a good read, although it might have benefited from an updated chapter at the end.

69ronincats
Dez. 23, 2014, 10:28pm

Susan, it's Chrismas Eve's eve, and so I am starting the rounds of wishing my 75er friends the merriest of Christmases or whatever the solstice celebration of their choice is. I may need to add the Grisham to my Christmas reads.

70scaifea
Dez. 24, 2014, 9:33am

Happy Holidays, Susan!!

71susanj67
Dez. 24, 2014, 1:20pm

>69 ronincats: Thanks Roni - those kitties are very cute!

>70 scaifea: Thanks Amber!

I've made fairly little progress on the reading front today (40 pages of In These Times, 70 pages of The Interestings), but some excellent things have happened.

1. Yesterday at 17.39 UK time I submitted an application to renew my (NZ) passport. I expected to get the new one maybe mid-January. This morning at 09.46 UK time I got an email to say the new one was on its way. Wow! It turns out that they still do them here in London, because shortly afterwards I received a second email, with the name of the lady who had sent it via DHL from NZ House, and a tracking link to click. It should be delivered on Monday, as the next two days are public holidays here.

2. One of my stepbrothers' sons got into Auckland Medical School. Woo-hoo! That is a HARD course to get into, so we are all thrilled. He finished his first (pre-med, I think) year in the top 5% of students, and then had to pass an interview to assess him as a potential doctor. The results came out on Christmas Eve (mean!)

3. I foolishly went to Waitrose at lunchtime but there was NO QUEUE at the "Baskets only" tills. Surely a Christmas miracle :-)

I now have to find the email with my Dad's new phone number in it, and ring them for Christmas Day, which it is in NZ already of course.

72lit_chick
Dez. 24, 2014, 1:55pm

73scaifea
Dez. 24, 2014, 2:46pm

>71 susanj67: That *is* all good news! WooHoo!

74DeltaQueen50
Dez. 24, 2014, 2:53pm

Merry Christmas, Susan. It sounds like your holiday season has gotten off to a good start with some excellent news.

75SandDune
Dez. 24, 2014, 3:20pm

Happy Christmas Susan!

76BekkaJo
Dez. 24, 2014, 3:52pm

Merry Christmas Susan :)

77cbl_tn
Dez. 24, 2014, 5:23pm

Happy Christmas Susan! I'm impressed with the passport service! And congrats to your nephew! You have a lot to celebrate this year.

78lkernagh
Dez. 24, 2014, 5:24pm

>45 susanj67: - A bookmark! See, I would have been just as baffled as you were so good job on solving the mystery!

I so love Project Re-Shelve! Awesome!

>59 susanj67: - Ambitious idea for next year's Project Rudolph but the somewhat introverted and holiday free spirit that I am - kind of a conflict, I know - would love to work in a cabin cubicle. ;-) I like how she created the impression of falling snow. In our office there is a branch that hangs paper snowflakes from the ceiling tiles. It really gives a Christmasy feel to the place.

>180 - Okay, nerdy legal stuff and social history sounds oddly appealing to me. On the potential future reading list this one goes....if I can locate a copy waaaaay over here, that is.

>67 susanj67: - I loved Skipping Christmas when I read it a number of years ago. I was going through a very anti-holiday mood at the time and have to now laugh that not only did I enjoy the story, but I then went to the trouble of getting a tree and decorating my place. Reverse psychology at its best! ;-)

>71 susanj67: - Don't you just love it when you get to witness efficiencies - for things like processing passport applications - in the works? Congrats to the soon-to-be Auckland Medical School student! *Whoot! Whoot!*

Closing off this rather long post to wish you a Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2015, Susan!

79RebaRelishesReading
Dez. 24, 2014, 9:57pm

Hope you have a very happy Christmas, Susan!!

80AMQS
Dez. 25, 2014, 3:15am

Dear Susan, best wishes to you for a very Merry Christmas!

81susanj67
Bearbeitet: Dez. 25, 2014, 1:21pm

>72 lit_chick: Thanks Nancy :-)

>73 scaifea: Thanks Amber :-)

>74 DeltaQueen50: Thanks Judy. We are so pleased for him, as he has worked so hard and was living in halls of residence, so no home support. Family passing through Auckland take him out for large meals :-)

>75 SandDune: Thanks Rhian :-)

>76 BekkaJo: Thanks Bekka. I hope Santa brought Jersey everything it wanted :-)

>77 cbl_tn: Thanks Carrie. Yes, we do. And everyone is well at the moment, which is always a worry with an elderly parent. That's one of the reasons I hate being without a passport, and one reason I'm glad that I should have the new one by Monday. According to the tracking website it has travelled from Lambeth to Heathrow, which is the *wrong way*, but I'm assuming that's the sorting deport for DHL (fingers crossed!)

>78 lkernagh: Lori I can't believe it took me so long to get the bookmark! Cheek by Jowl is quite new here (always an attraction for me, in a library book...) so it should show up in Canada at some point. I'm glad you liked Skipping Christmas - I'd never heard of it before, but recently I've seen a few references to it, or maybe I just notice them now. I hope you don't come down with the lurgy threatening on your thread.

>79 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks Reba :-)

>80 AMQS: Thanks Anne :-) What a pretty snowflake in that picture. I think I need some for my tree next year. It's never too early to start planning!

This evening we have a Call the Midwife Christmas special, and a Downton Abbey Christmas special, so that's my evening taken care of from 7.30. I've had a quiet day, mostly listening to the carol request show on Classic FM. And I finished an excellent book:



183. In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars, 1793-1815 by Jenny Uglow

Where I got it: Library
Why I read it: This was on the Samuel Johnson prize longlist, which I have decided to try and read every year

This is definitely going to be one of my books of the year. It's a superb look at what life was like in Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. That's the basis for a lot of books about WWI and WWII but not so common for other wars - in fact this is the first one I've read about this period. While there are details of what was going on overseas, the book focuses on what people were saying and thinking here in the UK, and it draws on correspondence from a number of families, and other, more public, documents. Jane Austen features as a correspondent, as does one of the brothers from Hoare's Bank (still going today), together with a lot of military men writing to their wives and families and receiving letters with all the domestic news in return. The chapters are short, and themed, so the book rattles along although it does require quite a bit of time devoted to it or you start to forget who everyone is and what's happened so far.

It doesn't look like the 650-odd pages that it is, as the paper is very thin, but it weighs a lot and anyone with arm/wrist/hand issues may want to consider the ebook version of it (it's available in Kindle, at least - I haven't checked other formats). I had to sit it on a cushion in my lap as I couldn't have held it up without a lot of pain afterwards. There are no maps and the other illustrations would reproduce well in an ebook, although there are extensive notes at the end which I know are problematic in that format. But, for content, very highly recommended.

82inge87
Bearbeitet: Dez. 25, 2014, 4:07pm



Merry Christmas Susan!

ETA: And and I waiting in anticipation for In These Times to come out next month.

83susanna.fraser
Dez. 25, 2014, 9:28pm

>82 inge87: I'll be buying it when it's released here too.

84susanj67
Dez. 26, 2014, 2:55am

>82 inge87: Thanks Jennifer!

>83 susanna.fraser: Susanna, enjoy!

Today they are forecasting snow. Snow! I'm excited because (a) I love snow and (b) it never snows in London at Christmas and (c) today...



so I would love snow as my gift :-) I am up early as Dad said he would ring and they are not late people. He usually rings exactly on the hour or half-hour, though, which allows for toasting breakfast and looking at the sunrise (red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning - maybe because of the SNOW!).

Last night I finished another book:



184. The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

Where I got it: Library ebook
Why I read it: It's a book about reading books

I reserved this ages ago, when I was patron 3 of 3 on hold for it, but then it arrived just as the Christmas reading extravaganza (copyright: Charlotte) started, so I had to bookhorn it in. It's the story of how the author composed a "List of Betterment" - great novels he had never read, and set about reading them so he could finally stop lying about having read them.

While I don't think it's quite as clever/funny as it aims to be, this was a good enough read, although it has made me even more certain that I don't want to attempt Moby-Dick. The book selection is slightly random, because, as he says, he had read a lot of the classics, but just not some of the key ones.

Today's plan is officially The Interestings but I'm not sure that they are {whispering} that interesting. However, I'm not very far in. But I might spend today reading something that is *really* interesting, while I wait for the snow. Did I mention that it might snow?

85susanj67
Dez. 26, 2014, 4:33am

Oof, this getting up early - Dad rang, and then my brother, and then I thought it was surely time for morning tea and a slice of Christmas cake. It's 9.32. I'm still having the tea and cake, though :-)

86cbl_tn
Dez. 26, 2014, 8:44am

Happy birthday Susan! My grandmother's birthday is tomorrow, and one of her brothers had a Christmas birthday. She always made a point of getting him a birthday present in addition to a Christmas present.

My cousin has a Dec. 19 birthday, and when he was small they used to celebrate his half birthday in June so it wasn't always tied to Christmas.

87drneutron
Dez. 26, 2014, 9:27am

Happy birthday!

88inge87
Dez. 26, 2014, 9:54am

Happy Birthday!

89Fourpawz2
Dez. 26, 2014, 10:01am

Happy Birthday, Susan. Hope it's a good one!

90katiekrug
Dez. 26, 2014, 10:49am

Happy Birthday, Susan! Hope you have a great, snowy day :-)

91susanj67
Dez. 26, 2014, 11:32am

>86 cbl_tn: Thanks Carrie :-) My brother's birthday is on Saturday so my parents have always been very good about separate presents for Christmas and birthday!

>87 drneutron: Thanks Jim!

>88 inge87: Thanks Jennifer!

>89 Fourpawz2: Thanks Charlotte :-) So far it's good, although the snow tally rests at 0 and it is 16.21. But there is still time...

>90 katiekrug: Thanks Katie - I am not giving up hope. It is snowing in Wales already and weather generally moves across the country from that coast. I might have to stay up late :-)



185. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

Where I got it: Book exchange at work
Why I read it: It's a book about reading books. I wondered whether it might be the one I'd reserved, so I could delete the hold, but it wasn't

Subtitled "The Diary of an Occasionally Exasperated But Ever Hopeful Reader", I thought I would read this today as I'd just finished the Andy Miller book, and see how they compared. This is a collection of columns that Nick Hornby wrote for the "Believer" magazine between 2006 and 2006, and the "Polysyllabic Spree" refers to the committee of people who run the magazine, and who set rules like no saying mean things about books, which means that a few are unnamed. But it's an entertaining look at what the author read for two years, and I was struck by how many of the new and "in" books he referred to that I've never heard of a decade later, or which quickly slipped from popularity, until I'm even having trouble finding Marilynne Robinson's Gilead (the library lists copies on shelves and yet "0 copies available").

92lkernagh
Dez. 26, 2014, 1:28pm

Happy Birthday, Susan! Here is hoping that a little snow came your way today. Snow is so magical, especially when one doesn't have to drive in it. ;-)

93Ameise1
Dez. 26, 2014, 3:07pm

Happy Birthday, Susan.

94ronincats
Dez. 26, 2014, 11:52pm

Oh, Susan, a belated very Happy Birthday to you!!

95PaulCranswick
Bearbeitet: Dez. 26, 2014, 11:55pm



and a belated Happy Birthday too!

96susanj67
Dez. 27, 2014, 4:41am

>92 lkernagh: Thanks Lori! London didn't get snow (wind, rain, no snow - hmph) but there are lots of pictures of snow-related traffic chaos on the news. And the trains, of course.

>93 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara :-)

>94 ronincats: Thanks Roni! I had a lovely day, snuggled up in the recliner, reading and reading :-)

>95 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!

Today's plan: The Interestings again (still not that interesting but I live in hope) and the rest of The Mystery of Overend and Gurney which sounds like a Golden Age crime novel, but which is in fact a non-fiction book about the crash of a big bank in the 1860s. It's very interesting indeed, particularly as one of the people in it was said to be the model for Trollope's Augustus Melmotte in The Way We Live Now. That's made me want to reread The Way We Live Now.

And I see that Jim has set up the 2015 page, so I'll start my new thread at some point. Thanks Jim!

97susanj67
Bearbeitet: Dez. 27, 2014, 10:41am



186. The Mystery of Overend and Gurney: A Financial Scandal in Victorian London by Geoffrey Elliott

Where I got it: Library
Why I read it: The Gurney family's records were one of the sources quoted by Jenny Uglow in In These Times. I was part-way through that book when I saw this one, and picked it up to see if the Gurneys in the title were the same family. And they were!

Set a couple of generations after In These Times, this excellent book looks at the collapse of the Overend & Gurney bank in the 1860s, and what was responsible for it, particularly as the Gurneys (along with many other banking and commercial families) were Quakers, who were supposed to be moderate in what they did, and not take the sort of wild risks that led to the downfall of the business in this case.

As I said in my last post, this book really evokes The Way We Live Now, with all sorts of dubious types proposing crazy schemes that duped the public while lining the pockets of their promoters. It has always been the same, says the author who, writing in 2006, said that "Maybe the {next} problem will come from the shrouded computer screens of 'hedge funds', maybe in the arcane byways of 'futures', 'options' and other 'derivative securities' whose real risks few understand." In a way it's a pity that this wasn't written after the 2008 crash, because there are some startling parallels.

I loved this book, which I have read in a couple of days, because it races along a bit like a thriller. But I also learned a lot about the Quakers and their philosophy, and the author suggests that it might have all gone wrong for the Gurney family because times changed, religious conventions were less strictly observed and Friends who started to ease themselves away from the strict requirements of the faith weren't brought back into the fold like they once were (the alternative was being disowned). In the end, the family managed to save the Norwich bank which also had their name (Overend & Gurney was a related enterprise in London) and in 1896 it was part of a merger which eventually led to Barclays, the bank that is still going today.

Very highly recommended for anyone interested in the mid-to-late 1800s, or in the history of the financial markets (which are well explained, including the question mark over the Bank of England's role as "lender of last resort", something which was the subject of extensive litigation here after Northern Rock was nationalised. In the 1860s, the Bank of England let Overend & Gurney go under. This time round, it has saved the banks, something which has been criticised by some people although I'm not sure how millions of people losing their savings would really have helped matters)

98Helenliz
Dez. 27, 2014, 12:21pm

Happy belated birthday. Christmas birthdays are always difficult. Dad's was 23rd, so we didn't used to decorate until his birthday.

Shame about the lack of snow, as it does make the world look so special. However, as someone who has to drive home tomorrow from mother's, I'm not entirely sad about that.

99BekkaJo
Dez. 27, 2014, 12:22pm

Belated belated Birthday wishes from me too! Hope you had a great day :)

100susanna.fraser
Dez. 27, 2014, 1:10pm

Happy belated birthday!

101Ameise1
Dez. 27, 2014, 4:37pm

Susan, I wish you a lovely weekend.

102susanj67
Dez. 28, 2014, 10:41am

>98 Helenliz: Thanks Helen. I hope you got home OK. London has been defiantly sunny all day, but cooold. I thought I should leave the house for the first time since Thursday, but I wasn't out for long!

>99 BekkaJo: Bekka, I did! I did lots of reading, and my sister-in-law sent a M&S Swiss Chocolate gift bag...

>100 susanna.fraser: Thanks Susanna!

>101 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara! I'm sort of losing track of what day it is, but I'm pretty sure today is Sunday, which means only seven days of holiday left (sniff).

Today I'm reading Samurai William by Giles Milton, which keen observers may note is NOT The Interestings. Ehhh... But I had to stop to check out the awesome sale at versobooks.com, which Darryl posted about. 90% off ebooks. I nearly went crazy, but I made myself check which ones were available via the library, and edited my basket accordingly. Still, five books for £8.90 is excellent.

Then I had to email Westfield NZ to point out that they had sent *two* sets of gift cards to my brother and his family, but only billed me for the one set I ordered. I hope he can just cut up the second set and does't have to faff around sending them back but I'll see what they say.

103susanj67
Dez. 29, 2014, 9:46am



187. Samurai William by Giles Milton

Where I got it: Book exchange at work. Amazingly, there were *two* copies of this
Why I read it: I enjoyed Nathaniel's Nutmeg and White Gold by this author

This is the story of the first Europeans to reach Japan, and mostly of William Adams, a seafarer from Limehouse who was virtually shipwrecked there in 1600 and rose to a fairly important position in the court of the region where he landed. Europeans were eventually thrown out of Japan for 200 years, until 1853, but the story of the 1600s was fascinating.

And this was my 100th non-fiction book of the year! Yay!



188. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Where I got it: Library
Why I read it: I'd seen it mentioned on LT and the library had a very new hardback copy. Perfect!

But in fact it just wasn't that interesting (no pun intended). The second half was better than the first, and I didn't really wish it would combust in front of me (which I have wished in the past) but the fact that I read four other books in between starting it and finishing it probably speaks for itself.

Next is going to be Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, but first I really need to do some filing of all my paperwork. I'm sure it multiplies and springs out at me during holidays.

104lkernagh
Dez. 29, 2014, 3:09pm

Congratulations on reading 100 non-fiction books this year, Susan! I am very impressed!

105elkiedee
Dez. 29, 2014, 5:40pm

Thank you very much for mentioning the Verso sale - it is amazing - I did go completely mad, buying 33 books, but that only came to just over £40 and I can't imagine most of them ever coming up as Kindle Daily Deals.

106katiekrug
Dez. 29, 2014, 7:36pm

I had a hard time getting into The Interestings, too, Susan. I ended up setting it aside to try at another time. I wonder if that will work...?

Go you on the 100 non-fiction reads! My modest goal next year is to read at least one NF book a month. We'll see how I do!

107AMQS
Bearbeitet: Dez. 29, 2014, 8:11pm

Oh, happy, happy belated birthday, Susan! Did you get your wish for snow? If not you're welcome to as many inches of ours as you'd like!

How was the Call the Midwife special? I picked up the book in a hotel/apartment library this summer in Cyprus. I haven't read it yet, but my mom snagged it and said it was excellent:)

eta: I listened to an audio of The Interestings. I completely get your comments and Katie's too. Being captive in a car (and hearing an excellent narrator) probably helped.

eta again: wow on your 100 nonfiction books this year! Last year I read 6 nonfiction books, and set a goal to read more this year. When I counted up today I managed to read... 4. Whoops.

108ronincats
Bearbeitet: Dez. 29, 2014, 8:17pm

That 100 nonfiction book mark is pretty amazing.

109thornton37814
Dez. 29, 2014, 10:29pm

Wow! I'm impressed that you read 100 nonfiction books. I might have done that in a year where I read 225 or more books, but this year I didn't get too far over the 100 mark total.

110souloftherose
Dez. 30, 2014, 7:09am

Belated Christmas wishes and a Happy New Year Susan!

>81 susanj67: I still haven't started In These Times but hopefully that's one I'll fit in next month.

>97 susanj67: And The Mystery of Overend & Gurney: A Financial Scandal in Victorian London has also gone on my library list - grrr.

And adding my congratulations on 100 non-fiction books!

111Fourpawz2
Dez. 30, 2014, 8:15am

100 non-fiction books is truly amazing. I'd love to do a complete year of NF, but it won't be in 2015. And - much though I would like to do that - I expect that I would feel compelled to read a bunch of fiction in order to get my numbers up as I am a slave to them. But there is no reason why I can't read more. Am almost done with The Verneys by Adrian Tinniswood. It's been awfully good - so interesting and informative.

Hope you are enjoying your Christmas break. I would sell a toe to get a vacation!

112susanj67
Dez. 30, 2014, 1:48pm

>104 lkernagh: Thanks Lori :-) I got so close I was determined to make it!

>105 elkiedee: Luci, I'm glad you found so many books. It's an amazing sale.

>106 katiekrug: Hmmm, Katie, I would say if you've set it aside then it might not make it back to the top of your TBR pile. I think if mine hadn't been a library book then the same thing might have happened, but I'm focused on taking everything back on Friday.

>107 AMQS: Thanks Anne! No snow, but we did get frost this morning. And from tomorrow it's supposed to shoot up many degrees and be warm over the New Year, so I think I can wave goodbye to snow for the time being. Call the Midwife was good, although the "young" Jenny was missing, and Vanessa Redgrave (the voice of the "old" Jenny) appeared in person. They had a great guest appearance by an actress who used to be in a popular soap over here, and she was excellent. Never mind about the NF books - you are in a YA place at the moment with work, and I love your reviews of those books
:-)

>108 ronincats: Thanks Roni :-) Once I started I just couldn't stop. For some reason NF has just appealed to me a lot more than fiction over the past couple of years (with the exception of Jack Reacher). I'm just going with it.

>109 thornton37814: Thanks Lori :-)

>110 souloftherose: Oops, sorry about that BB, Heather :-) But it's really good!!

>111 Fourpawz2: Charlotte, I had to look up that book, which is now on my wishlist because I may - ahem - have used up all my 12 reserve slots. I have a New Year's resolution to have no more than three things on it at any one time, but the new year doesn't start till Thursday...



189. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Where I got it: Library
Why I read it: Because I loved The Tilted World and I was looking for something else by this author. And the library had it right on the shelf - not the shelf I was actually looking at, mind you, as it was in crime and I was looking at the general fiction, but they found it quickly when I reserved it :-)

This was another superb read, and I particularly liked the dialect, if that's the right word for how people speak in south-east Mississippi. It had a real sense of place about it, and I loved that. Actually I see there I am echoing the quote on the back from A N Wilson - "Franklin has a superb ear for dialogue and a perfect sense of place." I really didn't intend to plagiarise! Thanks again Katie for recommending this great writer! I must see what else the library has.

113katiekrug
Dez. 30, 2014, 1:52pm

Susan, let me know if you have trouble getting your hands on any of his other books. I see them fairly often in the secondhand shops here and could easily pick up a copy for you (though only if they are in excellent condition, of course!).

The others of his that I have but haven't read yet, are Smonk, Hell at the Breach, and Poachers.

114susanj67
Dez. 31, 2014, 7:18am

>113 katiekrug: Thanks Katie :-) I think I can get them here, but he's certainly not a big name in the UK unless I have totally missed something.

I've had a lovely morning re-reading Phineas Finn, the second in the Palliser series, in preparation for the GR of The Eustace Diamonds in February. Lyzard's excellent tutored read thread is really helping with some of the obscure references in it. I suppose novels written now will have footnotes in a hundred years' time explaining what Twitter was, and who the Kardashians were. Well, I can hope for 20 years in the case of the Kardashians :-)

115souloftherose
Dez. 31, 2014, 7:32am

>111 Fourpawz2: Ooh, The Verneys?! I thought the name was familiar, Claydon House is quite near to us and we went to see it last year. Another book to add to my wishlist!

>114 susanj67: 'I suppose novels written now will have footnotes in a hundred years' time explaining what Twitter was, and who the Kardashians were.'

So funny to think that but I'm sure you're right!

116lkernagh
Dez. 31, 2014, 4:45pm

Here is hoping that the Kardashian blip on history will be something that no one will care about, except from a popular culture perspective. ;-)

117michigantrumpet
Dez. 31, 2014, 4:57pm

Incredibly, just today a saleswoman was showing me pictures from a wedding she attended this past week -- with Kanye and Kim in attendance!! I did my best to look suitably impressed. Not sure if the attempt was successful or not ...

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

118susanj67
Jan. 1, 2015, 11:48am

>115 souloftherose: Heather, we're in a race for The Verneys! Looking at the author's other books, I realised that he wrote the one about pirates that I read a few years ago, which started off my whole Empire/US history reading jag that I've been on ever since.

>116 lkernagh: Lori, I hope so. They're an embarrassment. But then I wonder whether other times have had a "reality" culture where people boast about their own stupidity and crassness, and we just remember the clever ones whose records survived. There's that Roman expression about bread and circuses, so maybe they did :-)

>117 michigantrumpet: Marianne, how funny! All the best to you too, and that does look like an accurate list of my resolutions :-)

119Crazymamie
Jan. 1, 2015, 11:50am

Happy New Year, Susan! May it be filled with fabulous!

I also loved Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter!

120susanj67
Jan. 1, 2015, 12:02pm

>119 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie! Happy New Year to all at the Paradisio too!

121luvamystery65
Jan. 3, 2015, 4:45pm

I finally caught up with last years thread. My thoughts...

Happy belated birthday to one of my favorite people!

Seriously, if I get an unexpected cash windfall I will PM you to get your schedule. I will visit London but only WHEN I can get to meet you and spend time chit chatting and seeing all your favorite places.

Great job on the library book shelves. I can't wait until after your break to see what progress you make on that front. I hope to see a photo of your works. Perhaps the hair shop ladies will pose as models? Tell them your friend Texas has made a special request. :D

I have highlighted many of the books you reviewed since last I visited. Book Bullets indeed!

I loved your project Rudolph and can't wait to see what you do next year.

I seriously thank you for being so wonderful and kind. You helped make 2014 into a much better year than it really was for me.

On to your 2015 thread.

122susanj67
Jan. 4, 2015, 7:29am

>121 luvamystery65: Thanks for your lovely message, Roberta! I'm glad there were lots of BBs in there - I hope you agree with my assessments :-) I would *love* it you came to London and we could run around like tourists (well, you would actually BE a tourist, of course). But I promise not to put Project Re-shelve on the list of Must-Sees for London, even though I can't wait to visit it again tomorrow and straighten things up :-) I'll see if I can sneak a photo at some point. I still have my fingers crossed for some more shelves from Santa (via his helpers in Building Management). I know 2014 was a tough year for you, and I hope 2015 is better.