Hostage to Murder by Val McDermid

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One of my favourite series has come out of retirement for what feels like a farewell encore but I hope it isn’t. It’s curiously published by “V. L. McDermid” rather than the regular “Val” which looked like some strange publishing industry shennanigans to me but actually comes down to a really boring bit of accounting.

This is more of a thriller than the previous Lindsay Gordon stories with Lindsay back in Glasgow but chasing off to St Petersburg after a kidnapped child. Excellent entertainment.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 26th December 2003.

Shadow Boxer by Eddie Muller

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That ‘slightly unfinished feeling’ that I came away from The Distance with was wiped out when I read this story because it’s pretty much a direct continuation of the previous book. It expands and enhances what has gone before whilst finding new things to explore.

Once again I put off reading this book because of the boxing background, but that’s all that the boxing is: background. There’s even less direct coverage of boxing in this book, it just sets the scene for a great noirish story of 1940s San Francisco.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 26th March 2003.

Where Roses Fade by Andrew Taylor

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Another wonderful episode in the Lydmouth series. If I had to fault this book it’d be to say that I’m almost more interested in the development of the relationship between Jill Francis and Richard Thornhill than I am in the mystery plot but that’s not really a complaint at all. It’s kind of like at an interview where they ask what your worst quality is and you find something to say that can be twisted to sound bad but actually puts your skills in a good light.

Plus since this book is very much centered around illegitimate relationships and births the ‘Jill and Richard’ parts of the story aren’t just a tacked on love story but an integral part of the tale. The characters really come to life for me and I can see Mattie and Violet and Bill and Malcolm running round Lydmouth as I’m reading. Also since the books are set fifty years or so ago there is the dimension of wondering what happens to the characters and the town in the time between then and now as well as wondering what will happen next in the series.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 11th October 2003.

Fludd by Hilary Mantel

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Darren grabbed a selection of lightish reads from his book collection when I was feeling ill and in need of something different and not too taxing to read. This was the one I picked out. Whimsical is a good word to describe it. I don’t want to go into the plot too much because it’s hard to do without giving away the point of the book, I’ll just give an idea of the subject matter by saying that a small mostly Catholic town on what I think is the edge of the Peak District in what I think was about the 1950s is all shaken up by the arrival of the mysterious Father Fludd.

I quite enjoyed it and the writing style made me think of Muriel Spark but then I noticed that one of the cover reviewers had said that too so I probably didn’t come up with that comparison by myself.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.


you know that thing about not rubbing salt into wounds? how it sounds really silly and you’d never even think of taking salt to a cut instead of the germolene? well it still applies if the salt is off the rim of your margarita glass and the wound is your cracked and sore lips. ouch! ouch! ouch!

nuts over numbers

this number puzzle is going to drive me nuts all day. i can get the grid down to 24 1s (or -1s). hopefully something will click in my brain and i’ll figure out how to get rid of all the numbers before i go crazy over it.

[found via meish]


annoying day+ outage from my web hosts is over and i’ve got my access to my site back.

my way

kris has got me thinking about weblog tools and the people who use them. that’s where i started off and i found myself on a whole philosophising about my life tangent so i brought my comments over here instead.

i totted up the tools that my sidebar blogs are built with and the scores were:

  1. movable type with 16
  2. homespun coding
  3. with 11

  4. blogger with 2
  5. bigblogtool with 1

i expect i’ve got a really high proportion of handrolled sites in there because i’m a codey/programmy/build your own type person myself and i like reading the thoughts of other codey/programmy/build your own type people.

when i added this weblog to my site three years ago i patched in the output of blogger but it quickly became a mess of imported xml and generated html with far more code processing the data on my server than i was using on blogger’s server. i’ve tried installing other weblog tools, movable type included, but they just don’t do it for me. the initial ease of getting things set up is quickly overcome by feeling like i’m in a strait jacket of someone elses code. i like the idea that there are lots of people messing about with movable type and adding things into the software but i can’t be bothered to dive into the perl and get involved. i’m happy living in my own little handspun universe even if it is a pain sometimes and i don’t end up with the latest flashy gizmos.

last week i was messing about with the web pro browser on my shiny new palm and one of the things i noticed was the nearly all the weblogs that i link to look really good on a 320×320 screen with the majority of the stylesheets ignored. the html they use is either coded centrally by people who understand web standards or they have a good grasp of accessibilty ideas themselves. the difference in accessibility between a weblog and a random commercial website is huge. i think weblog software is really good for getting people without much web knowledge to make good websites.

one other thing that occurs to me is that i’m the kind of person who builds her own things in other domains too. i knit my own jumpers, make my own christmas cards, keep a vast array of spices on hand for making my own curries, etc, i don’t see that building my own database back ends for websites is very different to that. it’s all a case of learning skills and putting them together to make a bigger whole, whether the individual skills are sql, crochet or pastrymaking it all seems to be the same kind of thing to me.

i did warn you that i was going tangentially here! i wouldn’t want to build everything myself pioneer style of course. sometimes i buy jumpers, cards and curries but i enjoy the ones i make all by myself much more. and that’s what my weblog is to me, something that i enjoy building, enjoy spending time with and at the end of the day it’s all my own work which is far more important to me than being part of a crowd or having the latest flashy things around. which i didn’t really have a handle on until i started writing this.