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Full Metal Wheelbarrow
I can't complain, but sometimes I still do...
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5th-Dec-2014 08:09 pm(no subject)
If I've been a bit quiet lately it's because I've been busy with jury service (and tired, because a change of routine is surprisingly wearying) and then busy catching up with the stuff I wasn't able to do while I was on jury service.

I may post a bit more about some of that later, if I get an appropriately shaped tuit, but for now, here's a picture of a Blackcap in the garden this afternoon, a species that hasn't visited us before. He (the females have a brown cap, despite the species name) seemed to very much enjoy the purple berries on the Callicarpa bush.

5th-Dec-2014 08:07 pm(no subject)
If I've been a bit quiet lately it's because I've been busy with jury service (and tired, because a change of routine is surprisingly wearying) and then busy catching up with the stuff I wasn't able to do while I was on jury service.

I may post a bit more about some of that later, if I get an appropriately shaped tuit, but for now, here's a picture of a Blackcap in the garden this afternoon, a species that hasn't visited us before. He (the females have a brown cap, despite the species name) seemed to very much enjoy the purple berries on the Callicarpa bush.

15th-Nov-2014 08:04 pm - Books 201-220 for 2014
(Books marked [RA] are those I read aloud to Rob)

201. Some Like it Hawk by Donna Andrew. 162 pages.

Another exploit for Meg Langslow and her innumerable friends and relatives in the Virginia town of Caerphilly. Implausible nonsense, but huge fun.

202. The Adventures of Inspector Lestrade by M.J. Trow. 152 pages.

I thought this Victorian crime thriller from the point of view of Sherlock Holme’s much-maligned police colleague might be fun but I found it disappointing both in characterisation and plot.

203. The Secret of Steeple Rocks by Harriet Pyne Grove. 147 pages.

Another of the books I worked on for Project Gutenberg. It starts off as a potentially interesting mystery and then just rather fizzles out. Disappointing.

204. Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce. 177 pages.

Part 1 of The Immortals series. More enjoyable yarns from the land of Tortall. This time the focus is on a young girl called Daine, who has a special rapport with animals.

205. The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross [RA]

Another outing for Bob Howard the computational demonologist. This time his mentor, Angleton, goes missing and there are a bunch of cultists trying to invoke the Great Old Ones. Just another day at the office then….

Rob and I both really like this series.

206. Wolf-Speakerby Tamora Pierce. 169 pages.

Second in the Immortals series. Daine is called in to help the wolf-pack who saved her life when her family were murdered by bandits and uncovers a plot against the King.

207. Overtime by Charles Stross. 26 pages. [RA]

A Christmas short story in the Laundry universe, where the things that are likely to come down the chimney are unlikely to be fat jolly white-bearded men bearing gifts…

208. Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce. 177 pages.
209. The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce. 161 pages.

Third and forth books of the Immortals series.

I liked the last one less than the first three, perhaps because it features fewer of the familiar characters. But it does have the God of Duckmoles, making it probably the only book to feature a Platypus God :)

210. Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree by Nancy Atherton. 199 pages

This book annoyed me because it used the stupid cliche of someone having been on holiday and pretended to be someone else and instead of telling them to own up and tell the truth about it, their friends help them to carry on the deception when the person comes to visit them at home….

211. Ruby Celeste and the Ghost Armada by Nicholas J. Ambrose. 171 pages

Interesting steampunk setting, although the way things seem to work seems quite implausible - there are people living on a planet’s surface and airships and stations operating in its atmosphere, but travel between them id difficult and expensive. Not sure how plausible that is, but the story was interesting enough that I could mostly ignore that part.

212. A Play of Isaac by Margaret Frazer. 224 pages

Murder mystery with the protagonists a small band of medieval players. Nicely written and led me to look for the author’s Sister Frevisses mysteries.

213. Murder Out of the Blue by Steve Turnbull. 73 pages.

There were good things about this book - interesting ideas, a sympathetic main character and some reasonable world-building, but there were also several faults. The bad punctuation might be the publisher’s fault as much as the author’s, but the badly executed perspective shifts can be laid firmly at the latter’s door.

Still, given an editor who pays attention, and a bit of work, Turnbull could become a decent author.

214. Timeless by Gail Carriger, 282 pages.

Last of the Parasol Protectorate books. which is a pity, because although I’ve been quite frustrated by the author’s feeble grasp of how Victorian folk would have spoken, I’ve enjoyed the series and the characters and will miss them.

215. Death by Drowning by Abigail Keams. 178 pages.

Second mystery featuring beekeeper Josiah Reynolds. In this one she’s recovering from the injuries she suffered at the end of the previous book and trying to discover the truth about the death of a young neighbour.

It occurred to me partway through the book that although I sympathise with the protagonist I don’t actually like her very much….

216. Never Sorry by Edie Claire. 578 pages.

I like Leigh Koslow, the protagonist of this book, a lot better. She makes some bad decisions, but she’s basically a decent person. Unfortunately that doesn’t prevent her being arrested for a murder she didn’t commit.

A decent solid whodunnit.

217. The Novice’s Tale by Margaret Frazer. 197 pages.

First in a series about a crime-solving nun in the 1400s. The author is American, although unlike many other books written by Americans and set in England this is not immediately apparent, I’m glad to say.

Perhaps not quite up to Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael books, but not too far off.

218. The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross. 322 pages.[RA]

Like previous books in the Laundry series, this one is a pastiche of another series, in this case, Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise books. Unlike previous books in the Laundry series, the target material is painfully obvious and obtrusive and I felt the book suffered for it.

There were stil some enjoyable bits, but rob and I both though this book had too much pastiche and not enough Bob.

219. The Servant’s Tale by Margaret Frazer. 171 pages.

Second in the Sister Frevisse series. Another interesting whodunnit, which also introduces the players from the other Frazer book I read before starting this series.

220. The Outlaw’s Tale by Margaret Frazer. 180 pages.

Third in the Sister Frevisse series. This one was a little credulity-stretching on the plot front, but still entertaining.
4th-Nov-2014 07:31 pm - Birthday treat
Today it was Rob’s birthday, so I took him to the zoo. They said they had enough monkeys and didn’t want to keep him though….

So I instituted Plan B, which was to book a “Feed the meerkats” session for him and feed him fish and chips, which he seemed to like rather better :)

“Zoo”Collapse )
27th-Oct-2014 07:48 pm - Books 180-200 for 2014
180. Balance of Trade by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 273 pages

Jethri Gobelyn is the youngest son of his tradeship captain mother and since his father’s death, the least regarded. When an opportunity arises to become apprenticed to a Liaden Master Trader, Jethri seizes it and his life takes some interesting turns.

I’ve finally worked out why I like these books so much - they remind me of both Andre Norton and Lois McMaster Bujold. Splendid space shenanigans.

181. Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews. 234 pages.

Second of the Kate Daniels series.

This time there’s a mysterious crossbowman on the loose, a magic surge is on the way and Kate finds herself in charge of a teenage girl whose mother is missing.

Terrific rollercoaster action story with some interesting worldbuilding and mysteries.

182. Crystal Soldier by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 307 pages

Another book in the Liaden series - this one goes back and tells the story of Jela and Cantra, the original founders of Clan Korval.

I didn’t think it was as good as the rest of the series, but that might just be my personal dislike of prequels.

183. Aunt Dimity Down Under by Nancy Atherton. 178 pages.

When her dear friends the Pym sisters fall ill, Lori must go on a quest to find their long-lost relative.

An absolute howler in this one - when the sisters fall ill, the villagers rally round to look after them and the postmistress kindly arranges for their post to be brought directly to their house….Clearly neither the author nor her editor understands that, with the exception of really remote places, that’s standard service for the post in the UK….

But I can forgive this sort of thing because these books are such fun otherwise.

184. The Air Mystery of Isle La Motte by E. J. Crain. 115 pages.

Juvenile adventure story, with rather a jolly hockey sticks Enid Blyton feel about it.

I worked on the proofreading of this one before it was posted to Project Gutenberg and was sorry to see that a handful of extraneous apostrophes had found their way into it in the interim :(

185. A Death In the Family by Caroline Dunsford. 130 pages.

I liked the protagonist of this one, so I was willing to overlook the sheer improbability of the plot. Unfortunately this book also suffers from s bad case of “spellchecked but not proofread” (at one point, a character denies that another man was in the army by saying “He was no solider”) which makes some sentences all but incomprehensible at first reading.

186. The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross. 294 pages.

Yes, I know, I’ve listed this one already this year, but this time I read it aloud to Rob. He understood the computerese more than I did and appreciated the pop culture references.

187. The Deeds of the Disturber by Elizabeth Peters. 309 pages.

Another adventure for Amelia Peabody and her irascible but stalwart husband Professor Emerson. This time it’s the perils of London rather than Egypt that draw them into mystery and danger, although I must admit to being more interested in the goings on at their home, where they have inadvisedly agreed to look after Amelia’s niece and nephew for the summer.

188. Nefarious Doings by Ilsa Evans. 237 pages.

Murder mystery set in Australia. Not sure about this one. The writing’s decent, but the characters are annoying and the protagonist does something so mindbogglingly stupid at one point that I lost a great deal of sympathy for her.

189. Blood Cross by Faith Hunter. 307 pages.

Second Jane Yellowrock novel.

Jane has been retained by the vampire council of New Orleans to catch the vampire who’s letting young rogue vamps loose on the streets.

Rather bloody but nicely done.

190. First Test by Tamora Pierce. 152 pages.
191. Page by Tamora Pierce. 164 pages.
192. Squire by Tamora Pierce. 259 pages.
193. Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce. 261 pages.

The Protector of the Small series. Keladry wants to be a knight. Unfortunately not many others want her to succeed. But she’s not going to let that stop her if she can help it.

Always a sucker for stories about young girls winning out against unfair treatment.

194. The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross. 334 pages.
195. Down on the Farm by Charles Stross. 33 pages.

Another novel and a short story in the Laundry series. Rob and I are both liking these very much.

196. The Real Macaw by Donna Andrews. 220 pages.

Another madcap outing with the Langslows and their supporting cast.

197. Alanna, the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. 132 pages.
198.In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce. 138 pages.
199. The Woman who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce. 152 pages.
200. Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce. 192 pages.

The Song of the Lioness series.

Reading these after the Protector of the Small books shows up how Pierce’s writing has improved in between. Keladry comes over as a much more rounded character than Alanna does.
24th-Oct-2014 07:30 pm(no subject)
New business bank account now up and running, funds transferred thereunto from the old account and letter despatched to the smegheads in charge of said old account asking them to please close it. I didn’t bother telling them why as I don’t imagine they care - we’ve heard from at least one other person who’s had similar issues, so we wonder if they’re deliberately weeding out unwanted customers.

The new Oki printer is having a major sulkfest and insisting that two of the cartridges aren’t inserted properly. I contacted support, who kindly sent two replacement cartridges, but despite taking great care in inserting them, still getting the same error messages as before.

Next step to talk to the warranty people on Monday.

Meanwhile I have bought an Emergency Holographic Cheapo Printer. It’s not the best print quality but most important thing - it does actually work. I was astonished to find it, as it’s a printer/scanner, made by HP and cost me £30 including shipping.

And when I plugged it into my iMac, the pooter said “You’ll be wanting some software for that then. Shall I nip off and download it?”. So I said “Yes, please do.” and it did. And it Just Bloody Worked. Result.
20th-Oct-2014 08:23 pm(no subject)
It was the last BHPC race of the year yesterday.

Rob came home clutching the trophy [*] for the Faired Multitrack class, having clinched the needed points on the day.

He is Rather Pleased.

[*] It's actually a "hairnet" cycle helmet for some reason...
20th-Oct-2014 08:22 pm(no subject)
New oven arrived on Friday, after the old one decided to stop working the previous Saturday.

Note the eminently sensible door which slides underneath out of the way so that I can get near the oven to clean it or to get things out without it swinging shut on me or getting in the way.

Also, Rob has now fitted the controls of the extractor fan on the front of the unit, instead of on top of it. I’m not sure what deranged person though that was a sensible place to put them….
9th-Oct-2014 08:44 pm - Holibobs Part two - Mull
Right, now for some pictures of our doings on Mull.

“Mull”Collapse )
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