Sunday, May 20, 2018

Fourth most published book in English language to go online

A book that influenced Charles Darwin and is reputedly the fourth most published work in the English language is to be made available online.

The title page from The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne.The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne by the Reverend Gilbert White, first published in 1789, has inspired generations of naturalists with the vivid descriptions of the flora and fauna – as well as the weather and crops – the author encountered in the countryside around his Hampshire home.

The book has since been published in more than 300 editions and has never been out of print. It is believed to be the most published book in the English language after the Bible, the works of Shakespeare and John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.

The Fire Court by Andrew Taylor

The Fire CourtA sequel to The Ashes of London, his magnificent evocation of the Great Fire of 1666, The Fire Court takes place the following year and continues the stories of James Marwood and Cat Lovett. The city is being rebuilt, with the eponymous fire court settling individual disputes over who should pay for what. Marwood’s elderly father, Nathaniel, claims to have seen the body of a woman at Clifford’s Inn, where the court sits. This is chalked up to senility, but after Nathaniel is run over and killed by a wagon, James discovers a bloodstained list of names among his personal effects and begins to wonder if the old man was telling the truth. His investigation brings him back into contact with tough-minded Cat – now living under an assumed name – and he turns to her for help. With a fast-moving, complex plot underpinned by solid but unobtrusive research and plenty of drama and intrigue, Taylor brings the 17th century to life so vividly that one can almost smell it.

Margot Asquith's Great War Diary

Margot Asquith was the opinionated and irrepressible wife of Herbert Henry Asquith, the Liberal Prime Minister who led Britain into war on 4 August 1914. With the airs, if not the lineage, of an aristocrat, Margot knew everyone, and spoke as if she knew everything, and with her sharp tongue and strong views could be a political asset, or a liability, almost in the same breath. 

Her Great War Diary is by turns revealing and insightful, funny and poignant, and it offers a remarkable view of events from her vantage point in 10 Downing Street. The diary opens with Margot witnessing the scene in the House of Commons, as the political crisis over Irish Home Rule began to be eclipsed by the even greater crisis of the threat of a European war, in which Britain might become involved…

Bookmobiles - Now a thing of the past

The bookmobile’s design is such that once parked, readers could easily access its treasured literary items. Now it’s more like a thing of the past, but back in the day, this way of distributing literature to people functioned perfectly.

It was working exceptionally well in remote areas such as villages or suburbia – places that otherwise did not have an access to a nearby library.

As of more recent times, there has been a 20 percent decline reported in bookmobiles in the years between 1990 and 2003. Nevertheless, the digital revolution of the 21st century and the availability of many books online just may be a good reason why bookmobiles are now thing of the past. Despite that, at current, some bookmobiles still function well, especially in developing parts of the world, fulfilling their initial purpose – to bring the books to some of the most remote places around.

Review: Bottom Feeders by John Shepphird

Bottom Feeders
A page-turning whodunit set in the wilds of a remote movie ranch, Bottom Feeders describes the hapless Hollywood cast and crew that eke out a living working on low-budget fare.

I didn't finish this one - it jumped too much all over the place in setting up the scene. Even with notes, I couldn't focus on what was relevant to the story line and what wasn't.

Review: Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark

Fiction Can Be Murder (Mystery Writer's Mystery, #1)
The premise caught me - life becomes stranger than fiction. When author Charlee Russo's agent is killed via method used in her yet to be published manuscript, the question is asked "... who had access ..." Turns out, at least 15 people from the members of Charlee's critique group, people at her agent's office, her boyfriend, her beta readers. Even Charlee herself is front and centre.

So, what does one do when being accused of murder .... one investigates. And thus we have the slow process of eliminating - one by one - all those who could have read the manuscript and had motive for murder. Most annoying character is Charlee's brother - he constantly refuses to take her calls, doesn't assist in her investigations (as every good family member should); just what is his role, why is he even in the book, I couldn't fathom it.

Its a standard cosy mystery where revenge is a dish best served cold. And I am in no hurry to take this series any further.

Review: Mystery of the Templars by Martina Andre

Mystery of the Templars
I so wanted to like it (due to my long fascination with the Templars) but it really just lost me and I consider it a waste of my valuable reading time.

My goodness - with the wealth of information, intrigue, legends, scandal and conspiracy theories surrounding the Templars, there was so much that could have been written, but just wasn't taken advantage of in this instance.  

The inclusion of the character of Amalie was unnecessary and left me completely flat - the action scenes with the Templars were fast paced and dynamic enough for a decent storyline. Then it takes a Da Vinci Code turn when the main character, Gerald of Breydenback, finds himself going forward in time, then back, and then forward again to live happily ever after. 

I honestly didn't know if this was supposed to be a thriller with historical overtones, or a poor man's "Outlander" (which I also could not get into).  A good plot that was poorly executed.

Review: Killing In C Sharp by Alexia Gordon

Killing in C Sharp (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries #3)
Third in the Gesthemane Brown series - and although I didn't read the first two, although there is a lot of character, background and scene setting before things actually start to kick off.

I'm not a fan. I loved the setting - Ireland - and the theme of ghostly revenge, however the character of Brown (and indeed of the supporting cast) did not illicit any connection / empathy that other "cozy crime" sleuths have done. I didn't have an invested interest in either character or the storyline that developed. For me personally, it just doesn't stack up with all the hype. Glad it was a freebie read.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tin by Padraig Kenny

Tin (Paperback)A science fiction fairy tale, set in a astonishingly realised mechanical world, Tin is a heart-stopping adventure about friendship, courage and finding your identity.

Imagine: the world you know is gone, in its place, a machinarium of Mechanicals, intelligent machines created with the sole purpose of serving mankind. The laws governing their creation are strict and above all the merging of human and mechanical is strictly forbidden.

Christopher is 'Proper': a real boy with a real soul, orphaned in a fire, he can remember nothing of his old life but vague images of his mother and father, cloaked in smoke and ash.

Now he works for an peculiar engineer, a maker of the eccentric, loyal and totally individual mechanicals who are Christopher's best friends; his only friends.

But after a devastating accident, a secret is revealed and Christopher's world is changed for ever...

What follows is a remarkable adventure, as Christopher discovers who he really is, and what it might mean to truly be human.