Some recent DNFs

<<mandatory “gosh it’s been a while since I posted. Baby stuff” disclaimer>>

So, maybe my concentration span has been destroyed by the experience of a small person, and maybe I’m just finding it tough to get time to read, but I’ve had a run of Did Not Finish books recently. A quick round-up (I won’t bother with ratings, and I won’t be counting them in my statistics for the year, or noting on LibraryThing or Goodreads that I read them):

The Piper’s Son, Melina Marchetta. I quite enjoyed Saving Francesca, and you can bet I’ll be putting a copy of Looking for Alibrandi in Bookmark’s hands at some point in her teenage years. But this one totally failed to grip me – not least because of the sheer number of male characters referenced but not seen; I found it impossible to keep track of them all. Filched from the box of books Mini-Me was throwing out, read 50 pages, dumped it at the Tube.

piper's son

Disclaimer, Renee Knight. A woman reads a novel which seems to be entirely about her. She tries to get in touch with someone she once knew. That woman’s husband is trying to get in touch with the “character”. There has been some unspeakable event. Much Too Confusing. Abandoned my NetGalley copy.


The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins. The world has been going crazy about this one, and I just didn’t get into it. Partly because I found the narrator unsympathetic from the get-go, partly because I struggled to tell characters apart/keep them straight in my head. So… abandoned my NetGalley copy.

girl on the train

Londoners, Craig Taylor. I have been listening to this one since before Bookmark was born (in fact, I was trying to listen to some of it while in early labour…) it’s a good book, but it does not lend itself well to audio format. The individual stories are too disjointed to be able to be retained in the memory between listens. So after renewing it from the library 23498719384 times, I’m abandoning it.


The Collector, Anne-Laure Thieblemont – this sounded really attractive on the mailing from Le French Book, but either the writing is bad or the translation, because the language in the first few chapters was too clunky for me to want to carry on with it. I might be missing out on a gem, but I was reading in red-pen mode and that’s a bad sign for a book. the collector

Jane Austen imitations

“Upon my word, Caroline, I should think it more possible to get Pemberley by purchase than by imitation.”

I’m reading Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott* which is free on the Kindle at the moment. It’s pleasant enough but given my limited reading time these days I think I’ll be abandoning it soon.

During Advent with Austen some years ago, and since, I have got into some of the Austen fan-writing (Lizzy and Jane, Death Comes To Pemberley, Darcy’s StoryJane Austen Made Me Do It), but none of it has really stuck with me.

I’m perplexed by this need to continue Austen’s story. Why must authors take up their pens and keyboards, giving Elizabeth a pregnancy, giving Wickham more terrible deeds, making Jane and Bingley even more nauseatingly happy?

I read Bridget Jones’ Diary as a teenager and it took me most of the book to realise it was a Pride & Prejudice homage – only “Darcy” seemed to be the link! Much less clunky.

Anyhow. End of my whinging. Georgiana is a perfectly satisfactory example of the genre, but I’ve lost patience with the genre as a whole.

*it amuses me that the author has a name so similar to one of my favourite Austen heroines. A nom de plume, perhaps?

Top Ten Tuesday – Diversity


July 21: Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC,  neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.)


I’m answering this one because I want to see whether I can actually name 10!

1. The Flavia de Luce series – the de Luce family are Catholic (definitely a minority in the UK, particularly in the 1950s) and the narrator refers to this frequently.

2. Alan Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles – I remember this book so clearly because the idea (to me, as a 9?-year-old) of being so disabled by a common childhood illness was so strange to me. A beautiful, wonderful book – well, it is in my mind anyway!

3. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. All over the news at the moment because of Go Set A Watchman being released, but I think that this, and other books featuring unjust accusation of African Americans in a predominately white society (at least one, if not two or three, of the John Grisham books are in this mold?) definitely deserve a mention here.

4. Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi – being an Italian Australian is almost as big a theme in this as being a child born out of wedlock.

5. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) is entirely about diversity (or lack of it).

6. Narnia! How did I get to item 6 on the list before I thought of the Narnia books?

7. Several of Amy Tan’s books touch on being Chinese in the USA and assorted cultural conflicts.

8. Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto is full of cross-cultural conflict and romance – particularly the romance between Gen (Japanese translator) and Carmen (illiterate rebel native to the unnamed Central/South American country)

9. Anne of Green Gables? Orphan, red hair, often picked on for one or the other…

10. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies – is it a stretch to list Piggy as a diverse character?

This was a real challenge – and several of mine are a stretch!

Books I should have read and which The Physicist says it is embarrassing that I have not read:

Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited

J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (“It’s even got 4 different species of characters, how much more diverse can you get?”)

All sci-fi/fantasy, ever.

The Bible (OK, I’ve read most of this in small pieces)

22 Dead Little Bodies – Stuart MacBride – 7/10

“The Espace pulled forward up the ramp, apparently unaware that they had nearly had an extra three passengers in the back seat, complete with patrol car.”


So, I’m not getting a lot of reading done at the moment. See Exhibit 1: a 3-month-old Bookmark. I’ve written about it ad nauseam.

I read this in two sittings (over two days).

Great fiction it’s not, but:

– I’ve never read any of the others in the series, and had no trouble with the characters or any pre-events (there’s one bit that seems a little out of character so now I want to read the earlier books to make sense of it!)

– It was definitely gripping and I plowed through the pages

– It’s got a very strong sense of setting in Aberdeen – a great mix of accents, local landmarks, the mix of suburbia and a seedier underbelly

– Both McRae and Steel are well-developed characters (Steel felt somewhat caricatured) and minor characters are left to be just that.

Good fun.

Additional information

Copy turned up unsolicited in the post, I presume from the publisher!
Publisher: HarperCollins, 172 pages (paperback)
Order 22 Dead Little Bodies from Amazon*Waterstones or Foyles
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting

You know, stuff…

Ah, life with a newborn. Turns out, I don’t read when I’m in my house. And I’m always in my house these days.

So while I have several audiobooks on the go (essential for long pram walks), and I read something on my Kindle over the course of several nights a few weeks ago (while we were teaching Bookmark to go to sleep in her crib and stay that way), not much reading is happening here.

What audiobooks have I got on the go? (* marks affiliate links)

The 5th Flavia de Luce, Speaking from Among the Bones*. I was delighted to discover that Westminster Library had the audiobook through OneClick Digital – so easy to download straight onto my phone, and free. And listen to through Bluetooth headphones while I did some gardening…

Londoners*by Craig Taylor. I started this while I was pregnant and while I am enjoying listening to the stories, it seems harder to hang onto them in my mind than if I were reading them. Or something like that. I keep wanting to take notes, which is tricky when you’re out walking with a Bookmark.

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Livesby Gretchen Rubin – I read her blog avidly and have enjoyed both of her previous books The Happiness Project and Happier At Home. In fact, it was Happier At Home that I re-read on the Kindle. I’m enjoying Better Than Before, but I have the same problem that I do with Londoners – I want to take notes!

Other things, not bookish, in my life…

I was talking about the Myers-Briggs personality test with a friend recently – so I re-took it and landed splat on the boundary between ISFJ and ISTJ. And those two are called The Nurturer and The Duty Fulfiller. So… no surprises there then.

On a similar theme, the Watson Personality Insights Demo analyses your writing (content, not handwriting)… and came out with some impressively accurate conclusions based on blog posts. I’d love to see the coding behind this one.

28 before 28

Last year I made a 27 before 27 list, although I only gave myself 6 months to achieve them as I came up with the list on the way home from an exceptionally wet cricket training session in April 2014.

While I didn’t manage all that many of them, I rather enjoyed the process, so I’ve done a 28 before 28. My list included quite a few items that needed to wait until after Bookmark was born (including a weight-related goal!) but in 4 months I’ve already knocked off quite a few of my items. My list is (including the number in brackets of what I’ve managed)

Visit 28 different new restaurants/cafes (11)
Get paid for 28 pieces of translation work (1)
Find 28 photos I love and display them (0 – I want to get some of our wedding photos and some early photos of Bookmark printed onto canvas, or put into a big collage frame)
Cook 28 new recipes (10 – this has been a really enjoyable category and I’ve found lots of new things to cook!)
Remove 28 things from my house (14 – such a therapeutic category)
Watch 28 films which won the Academy Award for Best Picture (0 – we watched Forrest Gump a few weeks ago but that doesn’t count because I’ve seen it before!)
Play the piano for at least 28 minutes 28 times in the year (0)
Do 28 things outside my comfort zone (1)
Write 28 postcards/letters, excluding postcards to my grandparents (10 – they’ve all been birthday cards though)
Discover 28 new artists (2)
Read 28 books (no DNFs) (6)
Eat veggies every day for 28 days (mushrooms definitely count) – I keep having to restart this one! up to 2…)
Learn some computer coding skills for 28 mins, 28 times in the year (3)
Get to a streak of 28 days on Duolingo (0)
Get to 28000 points on Duolingo (0)
Remove 28 books from my house (multiple times?) – done once in late 2014 and done again in Feb 2015
Buy 28 things for myself. (clothes that are needed thanks to baby don’t count!) (2)

-Things that had to wait for Bookmark to make an appearance-
Run 5k in under 28 mins, 28 times
Cut out chocolate for 28 days
Work out every day for 28 days consecutively for 28 minutes
Weigh less than x again
Cycle 28 miles in a day
Attend 28 ballet/yoga/Pilates classes

If you can count, you’ll notice that is only 23 items! Suggestions for the last 5 very welcome

I opened a book again

So it turns out that reading one-handed while nursing is quite the different skill from reading one-handed while eating. Also that 3-in-1 editions of Kinsey Millhone mysteries are not the most physically accessible to the one-handed reader.

That said, I read the first 20 pages that I’ve read since Bookmark was born, and hope to continue!

Also I’ve renewed my loan of Craig Taylor’s Londoners, which I was listening to the day I went into labour (so the loan had lapsed) – our walks are long enough that once I’ve caught up on a podcast, individual episodes are too short. So I’ll be restarting that one too!