A New Dawn

Back at the tail end of the twentieth century I started this website as a place to keep track of all the little things I found on the internet every day, and the site gradually became a weblog (which then contracted to ‘blog’) and the archive of those little things gradually came to be something that was more than the sum of its parts to me. A trail of small pieces that told me about myself as much as it told anyone else anything.

Then things got busy for a while – business got bigger, my daughter came along – and while I was distracted the world moved away from blogs and seemed to move mostly onto Facebook. Which has never really been my thing. I like hearing what people I know are up to but even when you know no one is really paying attention saying anything on that site still feels like standing up in front of the room and showing off, so I end up keeping quiet there, sitting in the corner of the room and watching but never dancing. But I like dancing. My internet activity spread out to little bits of things across a range of different sites and I reconfigured this site to mostly be a consolidation of all those bits.

And gradually all the bits fell over as I never looked here any more either. But I miss what I used to do here and I’m forever finding myself looking at some interesting morsel of the internet and wanting to share it, to save it for my future self to stumble over. So I plan to do so again. I miss the internet I used to have, but I can still make this little corner like the internet I want it to be. I’m messing with wordpress and I’ll get the goodreads reviews working here again soon, and the photos synced, and I’ll add those other snippets I enjoy in between.

A Rising Man (Sam Wyndham #1) by Abir Mukherjee

Cover of A Rising Man (Sam Wyndham #1)

Reading the first in the series after the second; it doesn’t sound ideal but I often find that authors get better as series go on so I don’t think it’s that bad an approach. Here I had an inkling that something was up with one of the characters based on the fact that they hadn’t featured in the second book but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment. The author didn’t make me care very much about the victim here, it was more figuring out the logic of the puzzle of who killed him and why, which is interesting and there’s no reason every fictional murder victim should be a nice guy but it just felt a bit uninvolving at times here. Darren’s reading this at the moment and pointed out that Sam seems to be far too liberal a character for the time and place (1920ish colonial India) but I think that if he wasn’t then he’d be insufferable to a twenty-first century readership so I’m glad he’s a bit anachronistic.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There by Rutger Bregman

Cover of Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There

Really enjoyed this; I was in need of a non-fiction fix and this delivered it. Very well written essay on how the world could be a better place (and especially well written considering it’s a translation from Dutch). I went into it expecting to agree with the author on some points and disagree on others but mostly I felt talked a lot of sense. Certainly on the things I already knew a fair amount about he seemed to have his head screwed on. It left me with lots of things to explore (and lots of citations to follow up, though as always it’s super annoying not being able to access academic journal articles easily) and lots to think about.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

Cover of This Must Be the Place

An utterly fab book. Each chapter skips around to a different character, a different time, a different place. The sort of device I adore. Sometimes you know what tragedies are ahead of the characters before they do, sometimes you hope things we be resolved differently. It all revolves around the life of a reclusive movie star, but spreads out in all directions. You could end up feeling that it was all spread too thinly but instead I just wanted to know more about some of the minor characters who barely got mentioned. Just more please.

The bit that really made it marvellous was that the chapters skipping around to different characters/times/places were all so distinctly different. Lots of different ways of telling the story – of digging into a character’s personal archives – were embraced which made you want to read on just to see the ‘how’ of the story as well as the ‘what’.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

The Rumour by Elin Hilderbrand

Cover of The Rumour

Random audiobook from the library. Picked because I needed something lightweight and fluffy and it didn’t look like a very deep book. And it wasn’t. It was entertaining enough, I wouldn’t have finished it if it wasn’t, but nothing special. And yes, I am always kind of disappointed when I ask for fluffy and only get fluffy, but that’s my problem and not the author’s!

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee

Cover of A Necessary Evil

Second in a series. I read it before the first one. Set in 1920s colonial Indian. Given that the author’s name is Indian I was surprised at first to find the central character is a white British policeman who has headed out to India (which sounds awful when I write it down, after all, I probably wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d opened up a book to find a white author writing an Indian character.) Anyway, I liked Sam Wyndham and I didn’t have any problem getting to know him and his reasons for being in India despite skipping the first book. This story is about the death of a prince and there’s no shortage of non-white characters, including Sam’s sergeant in the Calcutta police.

I’ve since read the first book and my memory has rather merged the two stories together for me so I don’t want to say things that might be about the wrong book. I enjoyed the investigations in both the books but both times had difficulty being very concerned about justice for the victims as neither book really brought them to life. Other characters did come to life though and I’ll probably read some more in the future as I found these an interesting beginning.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

The Venetian Game by Philip Gwynne Jones

Cover of The Venetian Game

I found this very easy to read. A nice jaunt round Venice. It’s billed as an “unputdownable thriller” on the cover and I think that whoever gets to decide on those tags for the cover needs to get a bit more original about it than that as that description almost put me off buying it. It doesn’t really do the book justice. I did read it pretty quickly, I was several chapters in before I left the bookshop, and I guess it does have plenty of thriller elements towards the end but mostly it was just a well written and interesting look at a guy living in Venice who gets mixed up in some rather weird goings on.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

The Fade Out: Act One by Ed Brubaker

Cover of The Fade Out: Act One

Graphic novel of Darren’s that was lying around so I picked it up and read it in one sitting. Nice bit of noir murder mystery. I quite like that it’s in parts so I couldn’t read the entire thing at once (well I suppose I could but all the parts weren’t available to me and that’s fine).

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Cover of The Woman in the Window

I borrowed this from Darren, who urged me to read it because he thought it was great. I don’t think I liked it nearly as much as he did though. It was full of film references that went over my head, at that level where they are just low enough to clip me and make me realise that I’m missing something. I enjoyed the story and the main character with agoraphobia seemed both just realistic enough and sympathetically portrayed. The Rear Window connection is one that even my mostly film-ignorant self did manage to make. And I did get to feel a little bit clever when I worked one of the twists out which is always nice.

Good, just not quite really good.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.