Archive for September, 2002

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The Galton Case by Ross Macdonald

In books read on September 29, 2002

As this is a read for a mailing list discussion I won't comment here yet. More Ross MacDonald books are on my shopping list though.

Purchased on 2nd August 2002.

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The Floating Girl by Sujata Massey

In books read on September 28, 2002

I should have learnt from reading the previous book (about the Japanese art of flower arranging called ikebana) that Massey is capable of turning the least likely themes into decent settings for a mystery. But I still expected to be disappointed in a tale based around the comic art of manga. I wasn't of course, I should really learn to trust Massey to make any aspect of Japanese culture interesting.

Once again there is a decent plot here though I didn't think it was quite as well resolved as in other books in the series. The characters are mostly fleshed out realistic people; I was glad to see we didn't have to have too much to do with Rei's Japanese family in this book as they always seem to be quite stereotypical to me and take me out of the story.

In the end it was good to see Rei dealing with modern day culture rather than her usual antique culture. I'll keep reading this series and try not to take too many preconceptions about the subject matter with me into future books!

Purchased on 8th February 2002.

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How To Be Good by Nick Hornby

In books read on September 27, 2002

This was very readable, often very funny, also very touching but in the end it felt more ordinary than Hornby's previous books. I think I like it better for being more character based and being less intent on preserving popular culture though.

Purchased on 17th August 2002.

6 copies of this book are available on BookMooch.

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shades of grey

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2002

an exceedingly good optical illusion. i can’t get my eyes to believe my brain.

[found via kottke.org]

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Blood Will Tell by Dana Stabenow

In books read on September 25, 2002

Though I'm enjoying the series as a whole this particular book really didn't do it for me. One reason could be that the Anchorage city setting isn't as entralling as the more remote and inhospitable Alaskan settings. Another reason could be that I didn't much like the way Kate was portrayed in this book. There is some good stuff here but there was a lot that annoyed me. Kate seemed a little to vigilante like when it wasn't necessary. Also, in the previous books Kate has been seen to be if not quite ugly she's at least a down to earth, jeans and trainers, scarred and weather beaten kind of a person. In this book she got a makeover and turned into something that men fawned over. Granted it was only for the sake of the story but I found it all a bit too over the top. I already find the descriptions of her boyfriend (who's about seven foot seven and hunkily drop dead gorgeous) and her career in law enforcement ("the star of the Anchorage police department") to be a bit much and this was going too far for me.

Still there were good points to this book, and I won't stop here because I know Stabenow can do better. This was definitely the weakest of the series for me.

Purchased on 20th May 2002.

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antique software

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2002

oldversion.com is an excellent idea. as you’d expect from the name it archives old versions of software. my backup old, but still usable, computer wants several of these applications as the newer versions have proved too slow and unstable for it. i can’t say i’m sorry to find that they aren’t keeping old netscape 4′s around though.

[found via boing boing]

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open houses

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2002

added to my to do list today: find out if other cities run anything along the lines of london open house. meg has been in the midland grand hotel at st pancras and up marble arch this weekend and i’m deadly jealous thinking of private buildings in london and other cities that i’d love to peek inside.

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Recalled to Life by Reginald Hill

In books read on September 21, 2002

Writing up notes on each book in this series is getting a bit pointless and probably pretty tedious for anyone reading. Hill's a master storyteller and surprises me everytime with the inventiveness of not just his plots but of the way he narrates these stories.

I think this book draws a lot on Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities but I'm not qualified to comment on that angle. Pascoe stays in Mid-Yorkshire looking into a 1963 murder case. The surviving murderer has just been released from prison. Dalziel, who was a mere constable in the original case, takes off for New York and investigates the American side of the case. The American angle stops just short of turning into an outright comedy and Pascoe's home end stops just short of turning into a full scale tragedy.

If I had to find a complaint to put to Hill it would be that he likes to tie up every single loose end in his plots and sometimes I feel it might be preferable to leave things dangling a little more. But that's not really much of a complaint since many of the threads are only tied up for the reader and not for the police.

Purchased on 16th May 2002.

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Mary’s Prayer by Martyn Waites

In books read on September 18, 2002

I've been looking for books set in Newcastle for years without much success. It's typical that a crime novel set here comes to my notice just as I'm about to leave the city.

I'm not sure whether the rest of this series is set in the north east but on the basis of this book I'll be having a read to find out. This is dark, dark stuff but it suits the town. Whether I would have found this book as enjoyable if I didn't know many of the locations is debatable. I certainly enjoyed knowing that the Heartbreak Soup, Francesca's, the Baltic Tavern etc are all real places. There were a few fictional places muddled in to and I suspect the seams would have been invisible if I didn't know the real places (well actually I'm not sure where the seams were myself, some of the places I thought of as fictional could easily be real but off my radar).

On the whole this was a read that I enjoyed for different reasons than usual and I think I'd be more critical of the plot if I hadn't have been so tied up in the setting.

Purchased on 10th September 2002.

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glass

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2002

i came away from the national glass centre in sunderland last week with a lampwork model of the angel of the north (at about 1:200 scale it loses something but gains something else) and a mirror project submission.