Adventures in web-land (1)

Well, dear reader, this could be the first of many posts on this topic…

I finally took the plunge and purchased some web hosting, with the intention of learning something about the subject and, hopefully, some things Indieweb, via a WordPress blog.

It started off quite well - signing up and spending money was easy enough, of course.

I added the domain I wanted to use, updated my registrar's nameservers to point to Dreamhost, nothing too taxing so far.

I added in the various records I needed for my Fastmail account. As long as that continues to work I'll be no worse off. Although, even then, Fastmail gave me three CNAME records to add, but Dreamhost would only let me add one. No idea why, as previously I'd added all three to Cloudflare for this domain.

When adding the domain to hosting, I opted to use Cloudflare, as I already have an account there and Dreamhost is an official partner. That meant that I was forced to use a redirect from the bare domain to www. Also ok, I thought, as my main blogs currently have that in place, so I can point to the AWS servers they are hosted on. The bare domain can only contain an A record; I learnt that when my provider moved from static IPs to AWS. All ok so far.

I then decided I'd like security on the site. Dreamhost provides LetsEncrypt certificates for free and does it all for you. Fine, click and it shall be done.

I installed WordPress and got that set up. My site showed the basic welcome page. Superb. Time for bed and to revisit this all at a later date. Until the site failed to load, giving me security and certificate warnings, with the browsers eventually refusing to serve up the site at all.

I'm confused and the only thing I can think is that the certificate has been applied to the bare domain, which redirects to the unsecured www subdomain. No problem, request a certificate for www. Can't. Can't add it as a hosted subdomain because Dreamhost says it already has a record of it. It probably does but I have yet to work out how I can secure it,

I went through similar processes with my "blog." subdomain but that has a 404 error message now, most likely because removing its pointer to my hosted micro.blog hadn't propagated through yet.

Tomorrow is another day and I guess that if nothing ever went wrong I'd not learn much. There has to be a solution as I don't think.I'm trying to set up anything too unusual.

18-02-2018 1

Test post for microblogging, to see if I can work round mandatory post titles.

January 2018 books

Rupture (audiobook)

By Ragnar Jonasson
Read by Leighton Pugh

Started 29 December
Finished 1 January

Book three (chronologically) in the Dark Iceland series and even better than the first two. This book weaves several different story threads together in an interesting way. It's difficult to decide which is the main story, but it doesn't matter. I like spending time with the main characters in these stories and I enjoy the depiction of life in Northern Iceland. On to the next book now…

Whiteout (audiobook)

By Ragnar Jonasson
Read by Leighton Pugh

Started 1 January
Finished 3 January

Another good book, though I think Rupture was slightly better. This had plenty of interest, though; Ari Thor reuniting with his previous boss, the progress of his relationship with his girlfriend. The plot was fine, but didn't seem all that gripping. Still, overall an entertaining listen.

Nightblind (audiobook)

By Ragnar Jonasson
Read by Leighton Pugh

Started 4 January
Finished 5 January

There was a lot more intrigue in this novel than in the previous one and I enjoyed it more as a result. The story centres around the murder of the local police inspector and I didn't guess whodunit until it was revealed, which makes a change!
I found the main character's girlfriend rather annoyingly unsympathetic in this book, whereas I had started to warm to her in the previous one. I have enjoyed these books and hope there are more to come.

How to be Champion (audiobook)

By Sarah Millican
Read by Sarah Millican

Started 6 January
Finished 8 January

Thoroughly enjoyable book, although probably not if you don't like Sarah Millican's humour. I do, obviously, as I bought the book. I haven't bought any Russell Brand books…

This book is a humorous look at Millican's life and career to date, but it is set out in the form of a self-help book, with tips on "how to be champion" at the ends of chapters. It's not all hilarious, some of it is quite sad, and parts are quite shocking. Not surprising, given the state of society today, when people seem to think that anyone in the entertainment business is fair game. The tales she tells of abusive comments on Twitter is pretty grim. Overall, I found the book entertaining, uplifting and quite inspiring.

Harlequin/The Archer's Tale (audiobook)

By Bernard Cornwell
Read by Andrew Cullum.

Started 9 January
Finished 14 January

I picked this book because it was the first of the Grail trilogy and I'm a sucker for a Grail story. In this first novel it gets mentioned, but that is all. It centres around a young archer, Thomas of Hookton, following his progress as, after the French raid and destroy his town, he joins the English army and fights in France, at the start of the 100 years war. Not my usual book, although I read the early novels in the Saxon series by Cornwell. I enjoyed it though. The main character is quite compelling; far from perfect, very human, but I found myself rooting for him and sympathising with his situation. The novel ends with the battle of Crécy, which is described in some detail, but, fortunately, not to the point of boredom. I look forward to listening to the remaining books in the series.

The Shack (audiobook)

By William P Young
Read by Roger Mueller

Started 15 January
Finished 19 January

I read this book some years ago, along with a lot of other people, I expect. I fancied listening to it, so picked up the audiobook. On balance, I think it is better to read than to listen to, but I enjoyed this. Occasionally the narrator seemed to overdo things a bit, which almost detracted from the story. I preferred it when I read the book and occasionally went "ooh". I felt with the audiobook things were rather unsubtly signposted at times. Good to wind down with, though.

Vagabond (audiobook)

By Bernard Cornwell
Read by Andrew Cullum

Started 23 January
Finished 31 January

The second instalment of the grail trilogy (although there is a linked fourth book). This book develops the story a little - somewhat scarily at one point involving the torture of the main character, Thomas, by a Catholic priest. The character was thoroughly scary; and very well portrayed by the narrator, who made him seem really creepy.

As with most Cornwell novels, there is a lot of detailed description of a number of battles. It did occasionally feel as though the story was just a vague thread holding together tales of battles in the 100-years war. I'll see what the third book brings to the main plot. Not that I didn't enjoy the book - I did and I know what to expect from Cornwell, having read a number of his books over the years.

December Books

Cryptonomicon (audiobook)

By Neale Stephenson
Narrated by William Dufris

Started 21 November
Finished 8 December

I have the kindle version of this book, but had never got round to reading it, so I thought I'd try the audiobook. Much is made in reviews of how cerebral/geeky/techy the book is, with its detailed descriptions of cryptography. I have to say I wasn't aware of that, but this could be because I know a little about the subject - but only a little.
On balance, I enjoyed the book, although I lost focus a bit towards the end. I don't necessarily think it's the classic that some people do, but I don't regret the time spent on it.
I did find the narrator's tone of voice a little irritating at times, along with some of the voices he gave to characters, but then I'm a Brit and less familiar with American accents.

The Water's Edge (audiobook)

By Karin Fossum
Narrated by David Rintoul

Started 8 December
Finished 10 December

My first Karin Fossum. I expect she is someone whose books I'll read again.
David Rintoul - I have loved this man's voice since seeing him in "Pride and Prejudice" on TV many years ago (and he still remains my favourite Mr Darcy).
I enjoyed this story. Not exactly fast-paced, but very easy to listen to.

The Body in the Thames (audiobook)

By Susannah Gregory
Narrated by Gordon Griffin

Started 11 December
Finished 13 December

I have read a number of Susannah Gregory's Thomas Chaloner novels and enjoyed them, so I thought I might give an audiobook a go, especially as it was part of a two-for-one offer. I had reservations about the narrator. He was ok, but there was something about the voice that I didn't like all that much (not to mention constantly pronouncing adversary with the emphasis on the second syllable - one of many pronunciations on my "list"). That said, I enjoyed the story; plenty of interest and intrigue to keep me listening.

The Mistletoe Seller

By Dilly Court

Started 10 December
Finished 11 December

I read this in one sitting. It's the first novel I've read by Dilly Court, and I suspect that they may well all follow a similar formula; that of a poverty-stricken 19th-century heroine who either makes good, finds good fortune, or both. That's not to say I didn't enjoy this, I did, very much. Sometimes this sort of story makes a pleasant change, much like the occasional Georgette Heyer novel does.

Killman Creek

By Rachel Caine

Started 12 December
Finished 12 December

Another one-sitting read. I pre-ordered this book, having read Stillhouse Lake, by the same author. This is the follow-up to that book and is equally as thrilling, with plenty of twists and turns. It covers a lot of bases - the nastiness that social media can spread, fake evidence, the fear we all have of being trapped/framed and struggling to prove our innocence, betrayal, isolation and a truly, believable psychopath. Thoroughly enjoyed both books.

Killers of the Flower Moon (audiobook)

By David Grann
Narrated by Will Patton, Ann Marie Lee, Danny Campbell

Started 13 December
Finished 18 December

I found this story fascinating and not a little horrifying. Like a lot of non-Americans I was broadly aware of the treatment of the native peoples, but I had never heard of the Osage, let alone what had happened to them in the 1920s. This story was told well, from the point of view of the Osage people, from the point of view of the lead investigator and then a final section drawing everything together and expanding on it from the work done more recently by the author. I found myself drawn into the tale and I am glad I picked the book.

The Last Thing She Ever Did

By Gregg Olsen

Started 14 December
Finished 29 December

Well, I finally finished this. I can't say the story really grabbed me, to be honest. It seemed a little far-fetched - not the initial part, but pretty soon it diverged from what I could accept as plausible. Add to that characters who were almost entirely unsympathetic, plus an abrupt ending and, well, I just wasn't feeling it with this one. It started well and showed promise - a day out which ended in tragedy. That set up the back story, and, to be honest, that was the most interesting part. Maybe it was just me, but I'm rather glad this was a Kindle First, so I didn't pay for it.

Cosmos (audiobook)

By Carl Sagan
Narrated by LeVar Burton

Started 18 December
Finished 22 December

I never read this book, though I probably should have. I first came across Carl Sagan when he presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, back in 1977. I was fascinated and have been interested in astronomy and cosmology ever since.
Back to 2017 and I was pleased to see this had been released as an audiobook. The narration was excellent, as expected from LeVar Burton. His voice is very pleasant to listen to. The content was, understandably, a little dated and seemed quite simplistic. That's probably because I have read quite a lot on the subject and this book was written for the casual reader. It was groundbreaking; one of the first of many and I'm glad I finally got around to it.

Lightning (audiobook)

By Dean Koontz
Narrated by Christopher Lane

Started 22 December
Finished 24 December

Good. Not Koontz' best, but intriguing and interesting. I liked the characters and there were a few plot twists. It has made me want to re-read a lot of my old Koontz novels.

Ad Astra an illustrated guide to leaving the planet (audiobook)

By Dallas Campbell
Narrated by Dallas Campbell

Started 26 December
Finished 26 December

A fairly light listen, but, although it's a subject which interests me, I do feel I learned some new things. Campbell is an engaging presenter on television and he reads his own book well. I have the Kindle version, too, to make the best of the "illustrated" part of the title. Not a groundbreaking work, but entertaining and informative.

Snowblind (audiobook)

By Ragnar Jonasson
Narrated by Thor Kristjansson

Started 27 December
Finished 27 December

I enjoyed this, very atmospheric. It was a slow burn, but set up the characters well. Some reviewers have commented that the atmosphere was conveyed rather obviously; by direct, repeated statements, rather than by allowing the reader/listener to reach their own conclusions. True, to some extent, but it didn't seem to be overly intrusive to me.
The narration was, well, interesting. On the one hand, having a Scandinavian narrator helped with setting the scene, and the Icelandic names, but on the other, it proved slightly confusing, as the speech pattern was rather different and it didn't always flow. It wasn't a deal-breaker, just occasionally required a short rewind.
I am going to continue with the series, as I enjoyed this one.

Blackout (audiobook)

By Ragnar Jonasson
Narrated by Leighton Pugh

Started 28 December
Finished 28 December

I think this book was better than the first. It is listed as book 3 in the series, but book 2 is the latest, chronologically, so I'm saving that until last. Admittedly, the characters are now familiar, but I also found the story more interesting, with a few surprises along the way. The narration was much more to my taste than the first book and this is a narrator I'm happy to listen to again - just as well, as he has read the next three books.


As it’s the end of the year, time for a little summing-up of 2017 in books.

I have read 21 books and listened to 33 (only joining Audible mid-July), making a total of 54 books consumed. My lowest number in a month was June, with no books finished, and my highest has been December with 12 books finished. Ending on a strong note.

Kingston Lacy Illuminated Walk

Some friends invited me to go with them to see the illuminated walk at Kingston Lacy, a National Trust property near to me. It meant finishing work 30 minutes early, but that was just an added incentive for me to hit my goals for today, which I did.
It was pretty cold out, so hats, scarves and gloves were deployed and hot chocolate was consumed afterwards.

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November Books

Ratking (audiobook)

By Michael Dibdin
Narrated by Michael Kitchen

Started 27 October
Finished 2 November

This book took a while to get into. I hadn't read any others, nor had I seen any of the TV programmes - which I understand may have been a good thing. Once the story got going I really enjoyed it. Of course I enjoyed Michael Kitchen's narration, as his is a voice and delivery that I have liked for years.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down (audiobook)

By Haemin Sunim
Narrated by Sean Pratt

Started 2 November
Finished 3 November

When I say "finished", this is a book I will return to many times, I think. It is a mixture of short tales/talks and little nuggets of wisdom. I listened to it in one sitting, but I will go back to it and study the content more closely, as certain parts really touched me. I'm not surprised, as I have long had an interest in Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism and the Tao. This book is quite practical and doesn't confine itself to Buddhism; it refers to the Bible and other religions. It encompasses a lot of the "mindfulness" trends; something I very much need to incorporate into my life.

The Last Cathar

By Kate Riley

Started 1 November
Finished 6 November

This book was shorter than I expected, and seemed to me to be similarly light of plot. It told the tale of one of the last of the Cathar faith, a woman entrusted with the legendary treasure. Part of it was told in retrospect, part in the current time, when she cared for an injured young man. I think I was expecting more of an air of mystery than I got, so overall I found the book a little disappointing. There was also a rather random reference to 1944 thrown in, the significance of which completely escaped me.

The Night of the Moths

By Riccardo Bruni

Started 6 November
Finished 11 November

Finally, I got through a Kindle First in the month I acquired it! I enjoyed this story, about a man who returns to a town to sell his parents' house. When he used to visit the town, 10 years earlier, he became involved with a girl who was murdered. The story is told partly through the girl's eyes and partly in the third person. I have read some reviews which didn't like the prose style, or the switch between the narration styles. I can't say I felt the need to analyse the sentence structure, so it must not have bothered me that much. Whatever the grammatical errors/flaws, they worked in context and, as a simple novel, that's ok with me. I didn't find anything particularly memorable about the book, but it was an entertaining enough read.

Dead Lagoon

By Michael Dibdin
Narrated by Cameron Stewart

Started 4 November
Finished 8 November

Another in the series of books about the Italian police officer Aurelio Zen. I think I enjoyed this more than the first one I read. Possibly I have become attuned to the style and am getting to know the main character. This one certainly kept me listening. It evoked Venice well, in my opinion, which generally means showing it as it is, not simply enthusing about its glory, taking a tourist's view. This book also depicts the impression I had of Venice when I visited: faded glory, dampness and decay, as well as all the famous locations. The narration was excellent. Cameron Stewart is on my list of top audiobook voices.

Origin (audiobook)

By Dan Brown
Narrated by Paul Michael

Started 10 November
Finished 17 November

Ok, I weakened. Yes, I know Dan Brown's books are fantastically popular and, as a result, picked to pieces and derided by lots of people. Hey, they are just an entertaining read (listen). I'm not all that impressed by the narration, but that's mainly a personal preference, as a Brit; I found the accent a little more pronounced that I tend to like from an American. Not to the point of not enjoying the story though. Overall, an enjoyable book, although I did lose interest slightly towards the end, as it seemed that the last hour of listening didn't add much to the story.

Jane Austen At Home (audiobook)

By Lucy Worsley
Narrated by Ruth Redman

Started 17 November
Finished 21 November

I enjoyed this. I wasn't sure I would, although I have enjoyed Lucy Worsley's TV programmes - I was unsure how I would take to an audiobook on an historical topic. The information was well presented, and, for me at least, avoided becoming dull. Despite the carefully constructed image of Jane Austen put to the public by her family, this book manages to look behind the facade and puts together Jane's life. Although I do enjoy Jane Austen's novels, I knew very little about her life, so this was very informative. It covered her novels, too, showing how real events may have had an effect on the stories and portrayed an author with a well-developed sense of irony and a dry wit. I think I should have liked Jane Austen,

Nothing in the last week, as I started listening to Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon". That will take me a while…

October Books

This month has been another one devoted to audiobooks. I have been rather tired, to be honest, and curling up with puzzles/drawing while listening to a book has proven to be soothing and relaxing. I have started some kindle books, just not finished them. I am reading a non-fiction history of the Templars and a novel about the Cathars. I'll get through them at some point!

Outlander (audiobook)

By Diana Gabaldon

Narrated by Davina Porter

Started 10 October
Finished 13 October

I read this book many years ago and loved it, so have read all the subsequent books in the series. I also watched the TV adaptation, which was almost as good as I had hoped. I decided to re-purchase the books on Kindle and with them, the audiobook. I really enjoyed listening to the story. The narrator does a good job - these books are pretty epic, with this one coming in at about 32 hours, which is the shortest of them. One of the later ones clocks in at 57 hours!

Amnesia (audiobook)

By Michael Ridpath

Narrated by Sean Barrett

Started 14 October
Finished 18 October

I enjoyed Michael Ridpath's series set in Iceland so thought I might try another of his books. This was good; the plot developed nicely and intrigue was maintained. I felt a little less involved with the characters than I did in the Fire and Ice series. Nothing wrong with them, but I just didn't find myself warming to them particularly.

La Belle Sauvage (audiobook)

By Philip Pullman

Narrated by Michael Sheen

Started 20 October
Finished 27 October

Excellent, as one expects of Philip Pullman. A worthy successor to the His Dark Materials trilogy, and I look forward to the next book. The narration is the best I've heard yet, but then, no more than might be expected from Michael Sheen.

This book is set when Lyra is a baby and tells of a young lad who ends up having to look after her, rescuing her from danger. It starts fairly slowly, but then picks up pace and is a riveting ride.

Dragonfly in Amber (audiobook)

By Diana Gabaldon

Narrated by Davina Porter

Started 19 October
Finished 27 October

Like slipping into a cosy pair of pyjamas. I have read all these novels, and watched the tv series. I listen to these while working, as they are good company. I feel I am hearing the tale of what old friends have been up to. I loved the books; I love the epic story and the audio versions are just as good, if not better, than the written word.

September Books

Apparently September was the month of the audiobook! Still, they have kept me company during some particularly lonely times.

A Fragile Thing

By Kevin Wignall (audiobook)
Read by Scott Merriman
Started 27 August
Finished 2 September

I really enjoyed this, more than I did "The Hunter's Prayer". The story here was more family-based, with the main character being a very successful financier who deals with shady clients - although that isn't what the main plotline focuses on. The story held a few surprises and was a very satisfying listen.

The Liberation (audiobook)

By Kate Furnivall
Read by Imogen Church
Started 2 September
Finished 6 September

I loved this audiobook. It was beautifully, lyrically read and the story was intriguing; it certainly held my attention. I read some reviews which said that the book was over-long for the story, but it didn't seem that way to me. I savoured every little detail. I read a very powerful book recently which detailed some of the events in Italy during WWII ("Beneath A Scarlet Sky" by Mark Sullivan), so it was interesting to read another novel set in the same time period, as it's something I know very little about. I enjoyed the twists of the plot and I also wallowed in the setting. I want aware of any particular description of the scenery, but I was left with a very clear sense of Sorrento and Naples. The author managed to evoke the atmosphere without my having noticed. Normally I am very alert to passages describing scenery, or characters, as often I quickly find them tedious. Not so with this book. It really was the audio equivalent of curling up in a comfy armchair wrapped in a fluffy blanket, where one can sink into the world of the novel.

Closed Circles (audiobook)

By Viveca Sten
Read by Angela Dawe
Started 7 September
Finished 9 September

This is the second in a series of books set in and around Sandhamn, an island in the Stockholm archipelago. I enjoyed the first one and I also enjoyed this one. I wasn't as keen on the narration though. It seemed to be a bit rushed - and this from someone who talks very quickly herself! That combined with the American accent caused me to struggle a little with following the thread at the start. I did get used to it, which is just as well, because I have the third book next in my queue!

Guiltless (audiobook)

By Viveca Sten
Read by Angela Dawe
Started 10 September
Finished 13 September

The third Sandhamn novel in the series and again, thoroughly enjoyable. As in the previous novel, I wasn't all that keen on the narration, but it was ok. I suspect the sound quality wasn't ideal and made a slight sibilance more prominent.

Conclave (audiobook)

By Robert Harris
Read by Roy Mcmillan
Started 14 September
Finished 20 September

The narration was excellent, but then I am always going to be more attuned to a British accent, so I'm biased.

I did enjoy this book. I have often drifted away from Robert Harris books, as they haven't grabbed my attention. Similarly, this one started slowly, and I wondered how a whole novel could be built around the vote for a new Pope. Well, it can, and the story was fascinating. A few surprises and twists along the way, and quite an ending! The fact this was an audiobook may have helped me get into the story, as there was no harm in letting it run, whereas a printed book may well have been discarded as a perceived waste of time. Obviously I rarely simply listen to an audiobook, I am usually doing something else at the same time.

The Silk Road (audiobook)

By Peter Frankopan
Read by Laurence Kennedy
Started 21 September
Finished 24 September

This was a long book to get through, although a very interesting one. On the whole the narration was good, although some of the sentences were rather long and peppered with subordinate clauses, which interrupted the flow a little. The narrator occasionally hesitated with his delivery. I guess that's the occasional pitfall with an audio version of a book like this.

The book starts with a history of the middle east and then moves through history to more recent times. It does have "a new history of the world" in its title and it is that; dealing with the last few centuries very much from the non-western viewpoint. It discusses the decisions made by various western countries and the impact these have had on the middle east, leading to the situation we are now in, which is not good. I did get a little bored around the second world war, but then became more interested as we moved into the later years of the twentieth century. It certainly put this into context for me. The writing was a little dense in places, but never too convoluted that it didn't make sense. For a history book it was an interesting read, not at all dry.

Thin Air (audiobook)

By Ann Cleeves
Read by Kenny Blyth
Started 25 September
Finished 27 September

I decided I would try an Ann Cleeves novel, as I enjoyed the"Shetland" tv series. I wasn't disappointed, this is a competent police drama, probably made more enjoyable because I was already familiar with the main characters.

Cold Earth (audiobook)

By Ann Cleeves
Read by Kenny Blyth
Started 28 September
Finished 30 September

The latest book in the "Shetland" series. Enjoyable, decent storyline, familiar characters again. These books are not outstanding, but great background listening.

August Books

A fairly respectable number of books in August, no doubt assisted by my new-found liking for audiobooks. Slighly hampered by a bereavement, but whereas I haven't wanted to read, I have been quite happy to listen.

Paradise Valley

by CJ Box

Started 1 August

Finished 10 August

For once not a Joe Pickett novel, but just as enjoyable. Not many of CJ Box's books have disappointed me and this certainly didn't. The descriptions of the countryside are very evocative, something that I always appreciate and find very calming, even in the midst of a thrilling plot. I hadn't read the earlier books in this series, but it didn't matter: I want aware there had been when reading.

The X-Files Cold Cases (audio dramatisation)

I picked this for my August Audible allowance. Yes, I'm a big fan of the TV series, so I was likely to enjoy this, which I did. I would agree with some of the reviews which said that the acting from the main characters was a bit wooden at times: that of David Duchovny particularly. Maybe his style just doesn't translate that well to audio-only. It was great to get back into the X-files world and all the main characters were there, including my favourite, Walter Skinner. Mitch Pileggi has a wonderful voice, I could listen to him for hours!

Bryant & May: Wild Chamber (audiobook)

by Christopher Fowler

Read by Tim Goodman

Started 10 August

Finished 15 August

Good, as always. The most recent Bryant and May. Rambling at times, but then so is Mr Bryant. These are stories to savour rather than rush. They unfold gently and I find the audiobooks quite transport me into the world of the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

The Hunter's Prayer (audiobook)

by Kevin Wignall

Read by Karen Cass

Started 15 August

Finished 15 August

I like Kevin Wignall's books and I very much enjoyed this one - I listened to it in one sitting! I felt the ending was a little unsatisfactory, most likely because it wasn't what I expected. For the most part, it was tense, surprising and an interesting study of two people on different paths in life.

The Fountain of Daphne

by William Gordon (Bill Kitson)

Started 16 August

Finished 20 August

Enjoyable, but within a few pages a man and a woman have been introduced to the reader and I'm thinking "are they going to end up getting together ". I don't want to spoil the ending, so suffice to say I enjoyed the story. It was, perhaps, a little predictable, slightly grown-up Mills & Boon, but I was interested in the characters and the setting was beautifully described. That and the book was sold in aid of charity.

The Traitor's Story

by Kevin Wignall (audiobook)

Read by Simon Vance

Started 20 August

Finished 20 August

A day in bed thanks to illness got me through the whole of this book. I enjoyed it, as I do most of Kevin Wignall's books. A well-paced story, switching between the past and the present, drawing the threads together well. Narration was good, too. Simon Vance has a very pleasant voice and he made the various characters stand out just enough.

The Mysterious Mr Quinn

by Agatha Christie (audiobook)

read by Hugh Fraser

Started 26 August

Finished 27 August

One of my favourite novels, so I was happy to see it on offer with Audible. I passed some relaxing hours enjoying the tales of Mr Satterthwaite's encounters with Mr Harley Quinn. For me, the stories never get old. Can't go too far wrong with Hugh Fraser as a reader, either.

Life

Sometimes it's hard, this living thing.

This week is particularly hard. It was excruciatingly so three years ago yesterday, when we were told that my lovely Mum had died. It will be heartbreakingly so tomorrow, at my Dad's funeral. Then, again, ten days later, on his birthday. Today is the in-the-middle day. Final arrangements made, my best friend has arrived, my brother and his family are nearby and, yet, if I could not have tomorrow, I would. I also know that it won't be as bad as I think it will be; I found that at Mum's funeral. I also know that it will "help", certainly in the future, if not immediately.

Actually I have realised it's after midnight now, so it's no longer the in-the-middle day, which it was when I started writing. Although, my Dad was always happy to point out that in summertime, "afternoon" really started at 1pm, not 12pm. So, using that logic, is it currently still Tuesday, until 1am? I don't know. The timestamp on this site's admin panel says 23:30, so maybe I'll go with that and you can ignore this paragraph.

Undoubtedly I am slightly protected from the most raw of emotions by the medication I am still taking as a result of the effect on me of my mother's passing. The experience has been different this time, as I cared for Dad at his home (with masses of help from the district nursing team, a local care firm and the truly wonderful Marie Curie nurses). I was there, holding his hand and talking to him as he slipped away and I'm glad I was. I wish it hadn't had to happen, naturally, but I did the best I could and now I have to find the courage to move on. Slowly. Day by day. I feel I have to reappraise my place in the world, as I now feel alone in it. My brother has his own family, which, I'm sure, is a great comfort and also a distraction. I don't have that and there have been a number of days recently when getting out of bed has seemed very overrated. That should pass, in time, but I know, too, that things will never be the same again. Which may, in some way, turn out to be a good thing, or at least not such a bad thing. A voyage somewhat into the unknown, but one that we all have to embark upon at some point in our lives.