PGMCC explores the Biblioverse in 2023: Chapter 5

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PGMCC explores the Biblioverse in 2023: Chapter 5

Redigerat: sep 28, 8:57 am

Books completed in 2023

Title; Author; Status; Start/end date; Number of pages
The Family Jewels by Caimh McDonnell 28/12/2022 - 02/01/2023 276 pages
Novelist as Vocation by Haruki Murakami 02/01/2023-12/01/2023 208 pages
The Tattoo Murder by Akimitsu Takagi 12/01/2023- 20/01/2023 377 pages
Once Upon A Tome by Oliver Darkshire 21/01/2023 - 23/01/2023 247 pages
Stranger Times by C. K. McDonnell 23/01/2023 - 31/01/2023 441 pages
The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas 01/02/2023 - 05/02/2023 304 pages
Under The Duvet by Marian Keyes 03/02/2023 - 674 pages
The Charming Man by C. K. McDonnell 06/02/2023 - 13/02/2023 498 pages
Love Will Tear Us Apart byC. K. McDonnell 15/02/2023 - 25/02/2023 448 pages
Richard Harris Raising Hell and Reaching for Heaven by Joe Jackson 24/02/2023 - 357 pages
Hopeland by Ian McDonald 26/02/2023 - 10/03/2023 648 pages
The Warden by Anthony Trollope 11/03/2023 - 19/03/2023 238 pages
Escape from Victory by Caimh McDonnell 19/03/2023 - 20/03/2023 66 pages
The Artful Dickens by John Mullan 20/03/2023 - 428 pages
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett 20/03/2023 - 23/03/2023 223 pages
Beyond the Reach of Earth by Ken MacLeod 23/03/2023 - 31/02/2023 334 pages
The Return of The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett 01/04/2023 - 05/04/2023 ? Pages
The Adventures of Amina al-Siraf by Shannon Chakraborty 05/04/2023 - 12/04/2023 482 pages
The Ability To Kill by Eric Ambler 12/04/2023 - 16/04/2023 220 pages
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey 17/04/2023 - 25/04/2023 561 pages
Dog Will Have His Day by Fred Vargas 25/04/2023 - 06/05/2023 256 pages.
Faithful Place by Tana French 06/05/2023 - 13/05/2023 400 Pages
The Culture Series of Iain M. Banks by Simone Caroti 19/05/2023 - 277 Pages
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 23/05/2023 - 25/06/2023 320 Pages
Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway 25/05/2023 - 30/05/2023 235 pages
A Kind of Anger by Eric Ambler 30/05/2023 - 03/06/2023 268 pages
Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey 04/06/2023 - 12/06/2023 595 pages
The Amberlough Dossier (Amberlough) by Lara Elena Donnelly 25/06/2023 - 10/07/2023 for first part 398 Pages
Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. Corey 10/07/2023 - 26/07/23 539 pages.
The Amberlough Dossier (Armistice) by Lara Elena Donnelly 27/07/23 - 06/08/2023 400 pages
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton 06/08/2023 - 13/08/2023 830 pages
The Amberlough Dossier (Amnesty) by Lara Elena Donnelly 13/08/23 - 16/08/2023 384 pages
The Fine Art of Invisible Detection by Robert Goddard 16/08/2023 - 20/08/2023 372 pages
Three Twins at the Crater School by Chaz Brenchley 21/08/2023 - 350 pages
The Night Man by Jørn Lier Horst 22/08/2023 - 25/08/2023 338 pages
Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey 25/08/2023 - 02/09/2023 581 pages
To Catch A Spy by Eric Ambler 03/09/2023 - o8/09/2023 189 pages
The Fine Print by Lauren Asher 09/09/2023 - 17/09/2023 434 pages
The Continental Affair by Christine Mangan 18/09/2023 - 27/09/2023 288 Pages
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Jöel Dicker 28/09/2023 624 pages

My next read list:

aug 6, 12:53 pm

Quite the list you've gotten through thus far in 2023! Happy new thread!

aug 6, 12:55 pm

>2 jillmwo: Thank you, Jill. I am having quite a good reading year.

Redigerat: aug 6, 1:07 pm

>1 pgmcc: Happy New Thread!
>2 jillmwo: Is correct.

aug 6, 2:45 pm

Happy new thread, Peter.

aug 6, 4:06 pm

>5 haydninvienna:
Thank you, Richard. I have my fingers crossed for your house deal. Good luck.

Redigerat: aug 6, 4:10 pm

I am starting The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. This is a book club read and the next meeting is 24th August. That does not give me much time for reading an 850 page novel.

Why am I bothering when I have been disappointed by so many of the previous book club books?

This is a book I planned to read. I thought I had a copy, but when I checked, I did not. However, the pretend book Kindle version was going at 99p so I thought that was not too much to invest. Now I will see if I have made a good investment.

aug 6, 5:09 pm

>7 pgmcc: You can do it. If you start it today then you only have to knock off about 45-50 pages a day. We have faith in you.

This one has been on my radar. I'm glad you will be able to let me know if it's worth the time.

aug 6, 5:20 pm

>8 clamairy: I love your inspirational coaching. You should take it up professionally.

Of course, I am aware that you have actually set me a challenge which I cannot resist. I suppose I had better meet you halfway and read the first page. :-)

aug 6, 10:07 pm

Happy new thread!

aug 7, 8:38 am

For those interested in The Luminaries, I am about 4% into the 850 pages and am finding it both engrossing and interesting. I may meet clamairy’s challenge yet.

aug 7, 9:33 am

>11 pgmcc: I am sure you can do this. (Especially if it's keeping your interest.)

aug 7, 10:14 am

>11 pgmcc: and >12 clamairy: Are all Man Booker Prize winners 800-page commitments? I mean, did any novel of less than 300 pages ever win?

aug 7, 7:38 pm

The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer is under 300 pages. Several are right around 300, such as The Sellout and The English Patient.

aug 8, 7:35 am

>12 clamairy:
I am 20% in and still going strong. You are a great coach.

aug 8, 7:36 am

>14 reconditereader:
I did an on-line crossword puzzle yesterday. The answer to one of the clues was, "Nadine Gordimer". Coincidence? ...

aug 8, 8:14 am

>16 pgmcc: where was the elephant?

aug 8, 9:08 am

>15 pgmcc: I am very proud of you... Also, you are spewing bullets with this one. It's going on my wishlist.

aug 8, 9:12 am

>18 clamairy:
I do not know about .COM, but on the kindle version was only £0.99.

aug 8, 9:13 am

>17 hfglen:

aug 8, 9:44 am

>19 pgmcc: It's $8.99 for Kindle here right now, but I'm pretty sure it was on sale very recently because I was contemplating a purchase.

aug 8, 2:15 pm

>21 clamairy:
I am on a little bookshop crawl. Still spending retirement book tokens. There is a good haul to be reported. Currently sitting in a pub reading.

aug 8, 3:48 pm

>22 pgmcc: I am very envious.

aug 9, 9:03 am

Happy new thread! I am glad you enjoyed Armistice, and I hope the final part of the trilogy gets that extra star!

Redigerat: aug 9, 10:10 am

Book buying spree report

As mentioned in >22 pgmcc:, I went on a bookshop-crawl armed with credit on two of the book tokens I received as retirement gifts in February. (The good news is that I still have credit on those two tokens.)

In the interests of full disclosure, I did go into town with a list of books I wanted to acquire if they were in the shops I visited. The shopping list was as follows:

-The Fine Art of Invisible Detection by Robert Goddard
-Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov
-The Launch Party by Lauren Forry
-A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon
-Memory's Legion by S. A. Corey

This list was built up over the past few months from BBs and other influencing factors.

The books I acquired are...
I feel like I am announcing the winners of an Academy Award.

In third place... No, we will just jump right in.

The Launch Party by Lauren Forry

This is a BB from Sakerfalcon ( who is steadily climbing the BB scoreboard.

I purchased this in Eason's on O'Connell Street. I could not find any of the other titles in Eason's.

My next stop was off piste as they say. I dropped into Books Upstairs, a favourite bookshop of mine, but one that I did not have a voucher for. If I bought anything in this shop it would be guilt-ridden. Did that stop me? I do not think I need to answer that question.

There is someone in the Books Upstairs secondhand book department that is watching me and seeding their secondhand book displays with books they know I cannot resist. I found two Folio editions of Anthony Trollope novels from his Barsetshire Chronicles series.

They are, Framely Parsonage and The Small House at Allington.

I have to check, but I think I have nearly all the Barsetshire Chronicles books in Folio editions thanks to my visits to Books Upstairs. They appear to seed one or two of them before each of my visits. If only they put them all out I would have the whole set.

Before leaving Books Upstairs I picked up a book about the burning of the big houses in Ireland. This happened at a time when the aristocratic big houses were seen as a symbol of British rule in Ireland. The book I have acquired contains discussion and information on what was happening politically at the time and what triggered the burnings. I like to get all sides of a situation.

My next port of call was Hodges Figgis, a location well known to haydninvienna.

Hodges Figgis yielded three books on my list.

Memory's Legion by James S. A. Corey

As regular readers of my thread will know, I have been steadily working my way through the nine books in The Expanse. I have read the first three and the standard is so high, and the enjoyment so pleasant, I will be finishing the series. Memory's Legion is a collection of short fictions written in the universe of The Expanse.

The Fine Art of Invisible Detection by Robert Goddard. I cannot remember where I came across this book, but I remember taking note of it with the intention of acquisition. I have checked the mentions of the book in LT but it does not appear to have been in any GD thread, or any other LT thread this year. I may have come across it in a newspaper book review section.

A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon.
I hmmmm_ed and haaaaaaa_ed before acquiring The PRIORY of the ORANGE TREE but eventually picked it up because of the praise in the GD threads for the book. I have not read it yet, but, when I spotted A Day of Fallen Night in a bookshop in Cork a few months ago, I was smitten by the beauty of the cover. To be honest, it was the cover that brought the book to my attention.

Having acquired The PRIORY of the ORANGE TREE and intending to read it, and being influenced by the denizens of The Green Dragon, I felt that I would be justified in buying the prequel. Anyway, that is the logic, if it can be called logic, that put A Day of Fallen Night on my shopping list. OK, I admit it, I judged the book by its cover.

aug 9, 10:10 am

>25 pgmcc: Very nice haul!

And yes, that Samantha Shannon cover is enticing. I have been eyeballing that one myself and waiting for the Kindle edition to get cheaper.

aug 9, 10:33 am

>25 pgmcc: Quite the gathering in of new volumes...You hit me with the Burning the Big House title from Yale University Press. I am intrigued. You also got me with the Robert Goddard mystery, The Fine Art of Invisible Detection. (Based on the quickest and dirtiest of Amazon searches, it appears that he mostly does stand-alone mysteries? Is that right?) And you already know my fondness for Trollope. The Folio editions are nice.

Finally, I think it interesting that you did not adhere to your list slavishly, but rather got a mix in the set of titles that returned home with you. Serendipitous acquisition is always more fun.

aug 9, 10:34 am

>24 Sakerfalcon:
I have found reading The Amberlough Dossier to be like watching a very well produced, lavish mini series.

aug 9, 10:42 am

>25 pgmcc: A lovely day of acquisitions. I almost felt like we were shopping with you.

aug 9, 11:05 am

>25 pgmcc: I have to admit that I’m shocked SHOCKED! that you still have bookstore credits from February. Otherwise, nice haul. I’m trying to resist clicking on half the titles in this post.

aug 9, 11:12 am

>30 2wonderY:
I am a bit shocked at that myself. The reasons why I still have credit include:
- the generosity of the friends who gave them to me
- my wife taking me out of the country for ten weeks and keeping me busy during the weeks I am in the country
- my using public transport and not being able to carry all the books I want to buy
- pacing myself to have an excuse to go on more bookshop-crawls

aug 9, 11:13 am

>29 MrsLee:
I am glad I can share some of the fun.

aug 9, 11:54 am

>25 pgmcc: Very nice selections! You are definitely making me consider reading a few more books in the Expanse series. I also may need a trip to a bookstore that isn't Barnes and Noble to get some different buying options.

aug 9, 12:23 pm

>33 Karlstar: I was just bemoaning the lack of a large privately owned book store here. There's a tiny one in the next town, and when I'm giving books as gifts I often buy them there, but the selection is limited.

aug 9, 1:31 pm

>34 clamairy: Dublin is after all a City of Literature. As such it needs a really good bookshop like Hodges Figgis (and yes, HF really is well known to me and it really is a very good bookshop).

aug 10, 4:59 am

Thank you for sharing your bookish adventure with us! It is a delight to explore Dublin's bookshops with you. I hope one day to do so in person!

aug 10, 6:19 pm

>18 clamairy:
Hey, coach! I am at 52%. We are going for gold.

aug 10, 6:29 pm

>27 jillmwo:
Serendipity is where it's at!

I am pleased with the haul.

I have one other Goddard book that I have not read yet. It is called, This is the Night They Come for You. It is about a policeman in Algiers who is partnered with a colleague from the Secret Police. It is a standalone as far as I know.

The Fine Art of Invisible Detection is one I am not surprised attracted your attention, probably in the same way it attracted mine.

It turns out I do not have the Folio edition of Doctor Thorne. I have a small, old edition, so I can read it, but, as you can imagine, I would like to fill that gap in my collection of The Chronicles of Barsetshire Folio editions.

I hadn't noticed that Burning the Big House was a Yale University Press edition. Yale University Press have done a lot of interesting Irish books.

aug 10, 6:32 pm

>33 Karlstar:
I have really enjoyed the first three Expanse novels. My having seen the screen version first has not affected my enjoyment at all. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I picture the characters as they have been represented in the screen version, but that is not a big problem, in fact, I think it has helped me enjoy the books; especially when Amos is involved. I think his philosophy of life and approach is a real breath of fresh-air. :-)

aug 10, 6:39 pm

>35 haydninvienna:
Hodges Figgis was founded in 1768, so it has had a good time to build up its reputation. It is a delightful bookshop to visit.

aug 10, 6:40 pm

>36 Sakerfalcon:
I hope the next time you are in Dublin I will be in a position to meet up with you.

aug 10, 8:42 pm

>37 pgmcc: WOOHOO! You will be done in no time!
Interestingly enough I just started reading her book, Birnam Wood. (It's shorter than yours, thankfully.)

aug 11, 2:08 am

>42 clamairy:
I nearly bought Birnam Wood on Tuesday. Thought I would wait until I finished The Luminaries first. How self controlling was that?

aug 11, 8:39 am

>43 pgmcc: I'm impressed. And you did the right thing, because I've already bailed. A few of the reviews I've seen in here say things like 'I bought this because I loved her first book, but this one didn't work for me.' I may try again, but I'll probably just try the one you're reading at some point in the future instead.

aug 13, 5:09 am

>44 clamairy:
I have finished The Luminaries. Thank you for being there, coach.

It is a great read. There are quite a few characters and a lot of action. Basically it is a murder mystery. It centres on activities in a gold-rush town in South Island New Zealand during the 1860s.

We get to view events from different points of view and follow the investigation from beginning to end, with revelations dropped in as events unfold and a courtroom drama thrown in for good measure.

Reading it in a short time helped me keep the characters clear in my mind, and achievement that was greatly assisted by the author’s skill in creating clearly distinct characters and giving them names that were not likely to be confused with the names of other characters.

I loved this book and strongly recommend it.

aug 13, 9:02 am

>45 pgmcc: I'm happy to hear both that you finished it, and that it was such a great read. However, I am not willing to take much credit for this accomplishment. :o)

aug 13, 10:59 am

>46 clamairy:
You are so modest!

>44 clamairy:
After not buying Birnam Wood I had a look at the book outline on Amazon. The story did not strike me as being as interesting as that of The Luminaries. Thank you for confirming my hesitancy. I was buying it purely on my experience with The Luminaries. Caution is the key word.

Redigerat: aug 13, 11:06 am

Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly, is the third novel in the Amberlough Dossier trilogy. I have started reading this concluding story and am five chapters in so far, i.e. ~15%. It is standing up to the quality of the first two instalments, Amberlough and Armistice.

E.T.A. This book, in fact this trilogy, is a BB from Sakerfalcon.

aug 13, 11:16 am

>48 pgmcc: So is this trilogy best described as being speculative fiction (in terms of political or social commentary)? Or is this "adventure" fantasy? I'm not getting a very good sense of it, one way or the other. Are we talking the sort of darkness of 1984 or the kind of ride found in The City of Brass?

aug 13, 11:53 am

>49 jillmwo:
Very good questions.

It is like a fictionalised version of what happened during WWII but is focused on the lives of a set of characters who are affected by the rise of The Ospies, i.e. the Nazi style fascist party, how they escape or otherwise the trouble that is brewing in their own land, and also how things stand politically after the demise of The Ospies. This paragraph does not do the trilogy justice. It is not a war story as such. It is more about political manoeuvring, survival in exile, and recovering after the turmoil.

You can imagine, to carry on the WWII analogy, the first book being set in Germany in the 1930s with the Fascists using underhand tactics, bullying and violence to gain power. The second book is focused mostly on people in exile from their country and who are trying to organise resistance at home, or who are simply trying to survive. It contains quite a bit of international intrigue and political initiatives. The third book is the situation after the crisis. Again, this paragraph does not do the story justice.

I feel reading the story is like watching a very well produced mini-series with well developed characters, clever storylines involving espionage, drug-dealing and cabaret. It is really well done and well worth reading. The story is very personalised to the characters. The characters' stories are very representative of how the political situation affects the lives of individuals. I would recommend it. The espionage element, and the secret police elements, make it very intriguing. I am grateful to Sakerfalcon for putting me onto this. I am not sure if it counts as one or three BBs. Claire is obviously determined to catch up with your BB score.

aug 14, 1:59 pm

>39 pgmcc: I was off the Expanse books for a little while, probably because of all the hype. I think I agree with you that watching the TV show has made it more likely I'll continue reading the books. I'm glad you are enjoying them.

>48 pgmcc: >50 pgmcc: That series sounds interesting.

aug 14, 2:17 pm

>51 Karlstar:
It was Sakerfalcon who hit me with The Amberlough Dossier book bullet. I am glad she did.

The Amberlough Dossier is the name of the omnibus edition that contains the three books of the trilogy.

You may think it a bit of a tautology for me to say, “the three books of the trilogy”, but you must admit that with the Dublin Trilogy having eight stories and Douglas Adams describing his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as a “Trilogy in Five Parts”, it is prudent to be precise when it comes to trilogies. Even Ursula K. Lequin extended her Earthsea Trilogy to a “Cycle”.

aug 14, 9:05 pm

>52 pgmcc: Agreed, there are far too many examples of series billed as trilogies that don't add up to three, one way or another.

Redigerat: aug 17, 12:28 pm

The Amberlough Dossier by Lara Elena Donnelly, was a BB from Sakerfalcon and I am grateful she hit me with it. Thank you, Clare.

Would I read another book by this author?

Would I recommend this book?

Who would I recommend this book to?
Anyone who likes political intrigue, espionage, political manoeuvring, interpersonal relationships, cabaret, decadence, etc... It covers a lot of ground.

Did this book inspire me to do anything?
Well, the decadence of the 1930s lifestyle in the first book prompted me to buy Kate Atkinson's Shrines of Gaiety when I saw the cover art on Atkinson's book.

I hasten to add, I have already read and enjoyed another book by Kate Atkinson. This wasn't a pure "judge-the-book-by-its-cover" moment; but almost.

The Amberlough Dossier story has a 1930s/40s feel to it. The setting is imaginary countries, but they could be metaphors for real countries in the 1930s/40s, or, with not too much imagination, countries in the 2020s. The technology is certainly WWII era, but many of the situations contained have modern day equivalents; certainly, the underhand political activities can be seen in the news of current days.

I am giving the trilogy a 4.5 star rating. It might have been 5 stars, but unfortunately for this series I read The Luminaries recently and The Luminaries does have the edge on Amberlough and I felt the relative ratings would have to reflect this. Sorry, Claire.

aug 17, 5:28 am

I have started reading The Fine Art of Invisible Detection by Robert Goddard. The first couple of pages focus on Umiko Wada who works for a private detective in Tokyo. The current head of the detective agency is the son of the former head and, unlike his father, he works alone and is the sole detective in the agency. I am getting the vibe that this is going to be fun and will have the feel of a Sam Spade in Japan, particularly the Sam Spade of 1975 film, "The Black Bird" starring George Segal as Sam Spade Jr, a spoof sequel to "The Maltese Falcon".

Alternatively, and I have not read anything to support this, the book might go along the lines of her boss dying and, to avoid losing her job, a job she loves, she covers up his death and continues the business as if he is alive. Again, an opportunity for a very amusing story. My record for predicting how a story goes is pretty woeful, but many of you will know that has never stopped my speculation. I will read on and see just how wrong I can be. :-)

What I can say is that the calm, level prose describing the setting of Kodata Detective Agency and the feelings and ambitions of its administrator, Umiko Wada, suit me perfectly and I look forward to a few hours reading this book.

aug 17, 8:55 am

>54 pgmcc: I'm glad you enjoyed Amberlough so much! The author really created such an immersive world, interesting characters and effective plots. I would not be sad if this trilogy had more than three books, although she wrapped everything up so well at the end.

Redigerat: aug 17, 8:55 am

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

aug 17, 11:04 am

I've read a lot of Goddard over the years and he's definitely a favorite, but I wasn't hooked by the preview bit on audible for that one, Pete. Will follow your reading with interest.

aug 17, 12:27 pm

>55 pgmcc:
It was on page eleven that I discovered my reputation for predicting how stories would proceed was left intact. I got it wrong again. :-)

aug 17, 12:29 pm

>56 Sakerfalcon:
She did create a great immersive world, and her characters are very credible.

aug 17, 12:52 pm

>58 Bookmarque:
About to start Chapter Five. It is entertaining me. Not the hilarious comedy I had predicted, but an intriguing cold case possible murder mystery. I am happy with it so far.

aug 17, 1:43 pm

>59 pgmcc:
Page 39 and my record for getting things wrong is in tatters.

aug 18, 7:22 am

I am over 100 pages into The Fine Art of Invisible Detection and am enjoying. Not the humorous read I had thought it would be, but an intriguing mystery, and yes, murder is involved.

aug 21, 1:43 pm

I enjoyed The Fine Art of Invisible Detection. It is a good book for anyone who likes murder mysteries with a bit of international corporate espionage thrown in to boot.

Would I read another book by the author?

Would I recommend this book?

To whom would I recommend it?
People who like murder mysteries and who are happy for their reading adventures to take place in several international locations.

I found this book easy to pick up and read. I at no time felt like giving up on it. It is a good murder mystery/thriller, with a relative genteelness. There are bad guys; and there are good guys. Which is which can be difficult for the main protagonists to work out.

In my rating, a three star book is a good book. I am giving this 3.5 stars. To make it to four I would need to have found sections I wanted to underline and take not off. There was none of that, but it was an enjoyable read and, as I like in books, some interesting twists and turns.

Redigerat: aug 21, 2:02 pm

I have started Chaz Brenchley's Three Twins at the Crater School. I am only a few pages in, but it is keeping my attention. It is set in a girls' boarding school, in a crater, not on Earth.

aug 22, 7:15 am

>64 pgmcc: I noticed that a sequel to that has just been published too, The Fine Art of Uncanny Prediction.

Redigerat: aug 22, 7:30 am

>66 AHS-Wolfy:
I didn't know that. I wondered if there was going to be a sequel. I have another Goddard to read, This is the Night They Come For You. I may go for The Fine Art of Uncanny Prediction before reading the one I already have. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

The existence of the sequel is a bit of a spoiler for the first book.

aug 22, 2:28 pm

>66 AHS-Wolfy:
You can officially chalk that up as a successful book bullet hit. I was in town for an optician visit and dropped into Hodges Figgis and picked up a copy.

aug 23, 6:10 am

>68 pgmcc: Maybe a half seeing as you'd already read the first book and would have picked it up anyway when you saw it. I only mentioned it as a just in case because I'd noticed the series page wasn't set up for them.

aug 24, 4:16 pm

>69 AHS-Wolfy:
You are too modest.

aug 24, 4:28 pm

I have put Three Twins at The Crater School on hold for the moment and have been reading The Night Man by Jørm Lier Horst. It is the first book I received as part of the retirement present a friend gave me. It is twelve mystery books, one per month, from Dubray's bookshop. I had to fill in a form about my book preferences and they pick a book for me. So far I have received four and they appear to be good picks, books I might have picked up myself.

It is a murder mystery set in Norway and is proving intriguing. No quotable quotes, but a robust murder mystery incorporating the issues in policing a multicultural society.

aug 25, 3:20 pm

I have finished The Night Man by Jørn Lier Horst and found it engrossing and entertaining. It is a solid police procedural murder mystery which includes character development and interpersonal relationships, as well as dealing with present day social issues that are international.

Would I read another book by this author?

Would I recommend this book?

To whom would I recommend it?
To anyone interested in crime fiction. It is not of the cozy crime genre, but it is not full of gore. There are brutal murders in the case, but the book does not overplay the nasty side of the crimes.

This book was picked for my by the bookshop that is sending me a book every month for a year based on the information I gave them about my reading preferences. So far I have received four books and I think the shop has picked books that are very apt. The books are:

1. The Night Man by Jørn Lier Horst. A Norwegian murder mystery. I find the wave of Scandinavian crime/murder mystery books to be of high quality and Dubray Books selected a good one for me.

2. The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth. First published in 1932 this book has come in for some great acclaim. I am looking forward to reading it. (When I noticed the cover on an earlier printing of the book I realised it is a book I considered buying some time ago, but didn't.)

3. Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway. Yes, they picked a book I already have and have already read. There is an option for me to return any book I already have or do not want to read, but I thought their picking this book showed how in-tune the selectors are with my tastes. Rather than send it back I sent if to a nephew who apparently has the same taste in books as I do.

4. Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv by Andrej Kurkow. At first I thought this was going to be a book about music, but a quick look at the first page informed me it was more to do with espionage than big band festivals. Another good choice by Dubray.

Redigerat: aug 25, 3:37 pm

Lockdown Book Club report:

Last night was the August meeting of our online book club that was formed to get us through the lockdown with a degree of social interaction. We have been meeting from the start of the pandemic in early 2020 and have only met in person once, and that was at the fiftieth birthday party of one of the members , a rather grand garden party in his mother's beautiful garden with a vast array of edibles. Those of you who read my thread regularly will know that I have not been 100% in line with the book selections made for the book club. Last night's book for discussion was, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, a book I loved and awarded 5 stars here on LT.

The reactions of the club members surprised me. Everybody said they liked it, but then they started to bring up criticisms they had found in newspaper reviews. Apparently some commentators said it did not deserve to win the Booker Prize. I strongly disagree. I suspect those critics are of the illiterati literati and think that any book that is actually good must not be good enough. There is an element of literati thinking amongst my book club fellows and I believe that gave rise to their comments. Despite their gumblings, despite liking the book, the book was awarded an average score of 8.5 out of 10. I think that means they really liked it.

The book for our next meeting is, The Continental Affair by Christine Mangan. This looks very enticing and I will report back on my reading in due course.

aug 25, 6:46 pm

I haven’t been on in a while and am catching up on threads. Good to see you doing some fine reading! Nice book haul you got way back in post #25! I read The Priory in June and really enjoyed it! The prequel is on my list to buy but I want to wait until it’s in paperback for two reasons: 1. It’ll be lighter in weight and 2. It’ll be a bit cheaper. I may even buy the kindle edition. It’ll depend on if a couple of my friends want to borrow it and read it. I also have to wait until I have a vacation so I can really spend time reading and enjoying it.

You hit me with a few bullets in that book haul. :)

aug 26, 8:47 am

>74 catzteach:
Ireland being a small market, most bookshops tend not to have hardcovers. Books appear in the shops here as Trade Paperbacks, i.e. the same text block as the hardcover book, but with a softback. If one wants a hardback one has to order it online from one of the UK online bookstores. My sequel to The Priory is therefore a paperback.

You hit me with a few bullets in that book haul.

Glad to be of service. :-)

aug 26, 8:59 am

I have started reading Cibola Burn, book 4 of The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey. I am a couple of chapters in and the quality is still holding up. I think The Expanse books have become a comfort read for me.

In my tracking post, >1 pgmcc: above, I have a link to a post in which I list the books I intend reading next. This intentional reading post was posted in January 2023. It does not appear that I have kept strictly to the plan. As the old saying goes, "All plans fail on the first encounter with the enemy", or words to that effect.

Redigerat: aug 26, 9:05 am

Over in the Gothic Literature Group, housefulofpaper shared a video that explains the commercial book formats. The video focuses on the formats in UK commercial bookshops, but one of the comments by @FantasyAuthorsHandbook provides a US perspective. I found the video very interesting and hence my mentioning it here. The relevant post, and the link to the video, can be found HERE

aug 26, 10:30 am

>73 pgmcc: I find it intriguing that the members of the group all said they like the book, but then started to bring up those negative reviews. Was it just to debunk them, or were they implying the negative reviews had a point?

>75 pgmcc: I didn't realize your book shops sold mostly trade paperbacks. Here I still see quite a few hard covers, but for the last decade that I was buying paper books I mainly bought hardcovers when they were discounted, or on sale because they were on the best seller list. The trade paperbacks usually came out a year after the hardcover though, and sometimes I couldn't wait.

aug 26, 11:16 am

>75 pgmcc: Interesting about the paperback book situation where you are. As Clam says, the paperback won’t come out for a while. It might be out by spring, but probably not. Does having it in paperback make it cheaper for you like it does for us?

aug 26, 11:18 am

>73 pgmcc: Overall, sounds like a successful choice by the group. I'm glad you didn't have to reshape any heads. :)

Are you going to the Notre Dame vs. Navy football game today?

aug 26, 11:42 am

>1 pgmcc: Wow! That's a great accomplishment! I'm still less than ten this year. But I read in bed before I go to sleep, so sometimes, more sleeping than reading :). And for some reason, it's big books year for me.

aug 26, 11:43 am

>7 pgmcc: I just bought a used copy of The Luminaries, but haven't read it yet. My copy didn't have 850 pages though. I'll have to go check. The hardback wasn't very thick.

aug 26, 11:47 am

>25 pgmcc: Having read The Expanse series, I am envious of you discovering the Expanse universe brain new :). I have them all in hardback and loved every one of them. They definitely aren't for the faint of heard LOL.

i just bought A Day of Fallen Night as a Barnes & Noble Exclusive publication with special printing. Now I'm looking for The Priory of the Orange Tree in special printing if I can find it. It's a FAT book! They all are, and very good. I highly recommend them (though Fallen Night is still on my TBR list).

Have fun!

aug 26, 11:50 am

>39 pgmcc: I do like Amos. The actor who plays Amos, Wes Chatham is now in Disney's Ahsoka.

Redigerat: aug 26, 2:06 pm

>78 clamairy:
I find it intriguing that the members of the group all said they like the book, but then started to bring up those negative reviews.

Most of the members of the group are from a part of Dublin known for its high opinion of itself. They are all professionals in their own fields, but, while keen readers, they solely read as an entertainment or to have something to talk about at social events. They tend to suggest book club reads from lists of newly published books that have appeared in the Sunday newspapers. Three of them are lawyers. One of them works in an organisation that provides relief in third world countries. Another one works as an administrator in an educational establishment. One is the GM of a GIS data company. I suspect they are unnerved when they enjoy something but see newspaper literary supplement reviews saying something negative, or not totally praising, of the book they have enjoyed. They are obviously influenced by the reviewers comments and modify their own comments accordingly. A touch of insecurity there. I am quite happy to give a book a score of 10 out of 10 or 2 out of 10 if that is what I feel about it. I do not think any of them have given scores above 8 or below 4.

They also have an aversion to long books and books with complex plots and numerous characters. This is the group in which one member vehemently argued against the thought that one of the books we read, about an android (Klara and the Sun), was Science Fiction. He was in total denial that he had read, and enjoyed, a book that could be described as Science Fiction. He said it was a book about ethics and could not be Science Fiction. After all, it did not have ray-guns and rocket-ships.

I didn't realize your book shops sold mostly trade paperbacks.
I suspect it is a matter of cost. Transporting hardbacks from Britain is more costly than transporting the lighter trade paperback. I noticed Hodges Figgis have a small number of hardbacks for new books that are very high profile, but generally if you want an Irish bookshop to provide you with a hardback you will have to order it specifically. It will also cost a lot more. When new books are released here as trade paperbacks they are around €23. Usually €22.95 so you think it is only €22. A hardback of the same book could be about €28.

To my shame, I order books from my favourite authors (Nick Harkaway; Ian McDonald; Ken MacLeod; Shannon Chakraborty) from Amazon so that I can get them on the day of publication in hardback. The hardbacks ordered this way are cheaper than the trade paperbacks sold in Irish bookshops. To my credit I do tend to spend the extra money to buy about half of the books I buy from local physical bookshops. (Books Upstairs; Hodges Figgis; Chapters)

aug 26, 1:43 pm

>79 catzteach:
In the video about book formats the narrator states that the normal sequence of publication is hardback on first release date. Trade paperback format one year later. Another year later the smaller paperback comes out.

Hardbacks bought in bookshops here are more expensive than the trade paperback. As I mention in >78 clamairy:, buying the hardback online from a UK shop, or, is cheaper than buying the trade paperback in an Irish bookshop.

aug 26, 1:52 pm

>80 Karlstar: I'm glad you didn't have to reshape any heads.

It was a near thing.

Are you going to the Notre Dame vs. Navy football game today?

Short answer: No.

Interesting answer: On Tuesday I received a phone call from friend. He wanted to know if I wanted to go to the American football match on Saturday, i.e. today. For various reasons I was not able to go. :-( It turns out his wife is working in the stadium and managed to get him a few tickets for the match.

I was searching to see if I could find the results for the match, but I cannot find them. I do not know if the result is being kept quiet so that people in the US can watch the game later without knowing the outcome.

Apparently 40,000 Americans have arrived in Dublin for the match. The American Ambassador to Ireland described it as the largest peace-time exit from the Country of US citizens. :-) There has been a lot of buzz around town about the match, and various events have taken place to entertain the visitors, and also to promote the game. Every one appears to have been having a good time.

aug 26, 1:55 pm

>81 Alleypat:
I will let you into a little secret. I retired from work in February. That appears to have had an influence on the speed with which I have been reading books. :-)

When I read in bed I have to stop when my eyes close. However, if I am reading a book that has particularly grabbed my interest, I have been known to consider my not having to get up for work and this has given me energy to keep reading.

aug 26, 1:59 pm

>82 Alleypat: I will be interested to see how many pages are in your copy. I have seen copies with 830 and others with 849 pages.

I ignored the length of the book, launched into it, and enjoyed it a lot.

aug 26, 2:06 pm

>83 Alleypat:
I watched the screen adaptation of The Expanse and was worried I would not enjoy the books as I already know the general story. I found that watching the screen adaptation has not affected my enjoyment of the books at all. I am really enjoying them.

The Priory and A Day of Fallen Night are both big books. It is the praise The Priory received from other LT/GD members that persuaded me to take the plunge and read them.

For other titles I have been tempted to buy special editions, e.g. Silverview by John le Carré and The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty.

>84 Alleypat: Amos is my favourite character. Bobbie is probably my next favourite. The lady who was UN General Secretary is also a character I really enjoyed.

aug 26, 2:58 pm

>77 pgmcc: What a really useful video! A great reminder of the historical progression of how things shifted over time. Thanks for bringing it over here (because it was unlikely I'd have found it over in the Gothic group...)

You are plowing through a number of books. I sense that the current Retirement regime must agree with you.

aug 26, 3:39 pm

>91 jillmwo:
I sense that the current Retirement regime must agree with you.

I suspect that is an understatement. :-)

There are a lot of things I want to do/get done, but I am taking a sabbatical this year and probably next year. My wife is the one that loves going to France. We have had ten weeks there so far this year, and there will be another three in October. She has already booked or ferry to France and back next year. The gap between the two is four months. This is not conducive with what I want to do, but I am making the most of it as best I can. Keeping a book close by is part of that benefits optimisation strategy. :-)

My reads at the moment appear to be more for entertainment and comfort rather than the more educational. There are still a lot of books about books I want to read, e.g. Portable Magic, but I feel the urge to destress rather than learn. The Luminaries was excellent as it was an entertaining read and I found it educational. I knew nothing of the New Zealand gold rushes before reading that book but have researched around the topic since reading the book.

How is your retirement/semi-retirement going? I get the impression that you are making the opportunities to delve into topics that you like. I enjoy your posts about topics that have intrigued you, but I do not seem to have the time to jump in and join you.

This day two weeks we will be flying to the US. We will be there for two weeks, but I do not think it will be possible to travel about and meet with GD friends. Our son-in-law lost his father only a few months ago. I think we will be focusing on being with him, our daughter and their children. His step-mother is due to visit while we are there and she must be having a rough time. She and Phil's father were due to be there when we are over, and we are hoping that she will still come. Anyway, enough of my excuses for not organising a meet-up while over in Cincinnati.

I must say, I am getting through the books well. I think I have already exceeded my best year in terms of how many books I have read in a year. Some of those books have been quick large, so in terms of pages read I must be well ahead of previous years.

aug 26, 7:25 pm

>87 pgmcc: Wow, that's a lot of Americans invading! At that point, the game had not started yet. While all those folks were over there, I was taking advantage and I was on the Notre Dame campus.

I saw your post earlier about visiting the US, I hope you have a great trip! Cincinnati again?

aug 26, 8:46 pm

>93 Karlstar:
Yes. That is where our daughter is living.

aug 28, 5:55 pm

>64 pgmcc: Okay, I pushed the "buy" button on that one. You can chalk up a BB.

aug 28, 6:44 pm

aug 28, 6:58 pm

I will be interested to get Jill’s take on a Goddard as it seems this might be her first go with his work. I’ve read about 20 books, some more than once, and am still somewhat hesitant with this one, but less so than before.

Redigerat: sep 1, 1:10 am

My wife had to have a minor procedure under general anaesthetic for her back problem on Tuesday. I suspect she was under the care of a time lord. The surgeon carrying out the procedure was Dr. Hu!

aug 31, 8:38 pm

>98 pgmcc: Are you serious? Or was this supposed to go in the bad jokes thread? I do hope she's on the mend, and that they have fixed whatever was ailing her.

aug 31, 10:03 pm

>98 pgmcc: Dr. Hu! That’s great! I hope the surgery went well and fixed her back.

aug 31, 11:49 pm

>98 pgmcc: Well wishes to your wife. Spoil her unceasingly.

sep 1, 3:54 am

>98 pgmcc: Strength and a quick, complete recovery to her! I hope Dr Hu now adjusts the time so that she can carry on her life seamlessly.

sep 1, 6:54 am

>98 pgmcc: Sending healing wishes to Catriona. Sounds like she is in the best of hands!

Redigerat: sep 1, 11:00 am

>99 clamairy:, >100 catzteach:, >101 MrsLee:, >102 hfglen: & >103 Sakerfalcon:

Thank you for all the good wishes for Caitríona. Her problem appears to relate to two bulging discs and she is responding well to physiotherapy and acupuncture. She had three MRIs yesterday, one of her brain, and we will get the results from those next Thursday. Unless something untoward appears on those scans it looks like nothing more sinister than debilitating back trouble, which, as I said, is responding to treatment.

My main point in >98 pgmcc: was Dr. Hu's name. I am sure you will agree it would be unforgivable of me if I did not report that to this group. Hugh, I would like Dr. Hu to do something with the timeline. We fly to the US on Saturday 9th. Caitríona does not want to cancel the trip, but sitting on a plane for hours is not likely to help her. I would like a few more weeks of physio for her to be more prepared.

In book related news, I am on page 422 of 581 pages in Cibola Burn, Book 4 of The Expanse series. I am enjoying it, but it is about the part of the story that I found least interesting. It still contributes to the character development and the overall arc. That is not slowing my reading or preventing my picking it up. On the other hand, it includes some funny elements and it involves Miller, one of my favourite characters.

sep 1, 8:33 am

Not great, but a relief for you & C. Do stay on top of the disc issue like crazy - skeletal issues just ruin life I tell you.

Redigerat: sep 1, 10:07 am

>98 pgmcc: >104 pgmcc: Best wishes to Mrs Pete. As >105 Bookmarque: says, that sort of issue is the ruin of life (just ask Mrs H).

sep 1, 10:14 am

>104 pgmcc: It's undoubtedly worrisome, but hopefully the results from the MRIs will clarify what does (and doesn't) need to be done. Crossing fingers and thumbs for a swift recovery. (I agree with you that hours on a transatlantic flight could be problematic. OTOH, is there any better justification for upgrading to first class?) Best to you both!

sep 1, 8:02 pm

>104 pgmcc: That sounds painful. I hope your wife has a speedy recovery.

Redigerat: sep 1, 11:43 pm

>98 pgmcc: I hope she recovers well and that the treatment was effective. What >105 Bookmarque: and >106 haydninvienna: said, back issues are such a problem, it would be wonderful to have it improved.

sep 2, 6:36 pm

I have just finished reading Cibola Burn and am now faced with that impossible task of picking the next book to read. My problem is that by picking one book I am automatically delaying reading numerous other books. Oh the anguish.

sep 3, 10:47 am

I have started reading, To Catch A Spy, an anthology of spy stories compiled by Eric Ambler.

Until picking the book up I had thought this was an Eric Ambler novel, but it turned out to be an anthology of spy stories presented in order of their publication. The Introduction, written by Ambler, is an essay on the origins of the spy story. This includes the history of how proper, honourable gentlemen could never do the things done by spies. It outlines how military men shunned the idea of spying and abhorred spies, as they could not be honourable men. (Yes, there was an emphasis on spies being men.) He suggests that the attitude towards spying as a dishonourable activity, even if the spy was spying on your behalf, influenced authors and hence the absence of spy stories appearing in print up until the first spy story appeared, The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers.

The stories included are:
"The Loathly Opposite", John Buchan
"Giulia Lazzari", Somerset Maugham
"The First Courier", Compton Mackenzie
"I Spy", Graham Greene
"Belgarde 1926", Eric Ambler
"From a View To A Kill", Ian Fleming
"On Slay Down", Michael Gilbert

This anthology was first published in 1964 which explains the absence of any John Le Carré story or reference. Le Carré's third novel, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, the story which was his big breakthrough, was first published in 1963. Ambler has been named by Le Carré and Greene as an influence in their own writing.

The Introduction essay is excellent and I find its presence sufficient, even without the stories.

sep 4, 10:32 am

>104 pgmcc: I hope Dr Hu can work his magic!

sep 4, 11:08 am

>112 Sakerfalcon:
If he has his sonic screwdriver he can achieve anything.

Redigerat: sep 8, 6:28 pm

Some comments on the Eric Ambler edited anthology of spy stories, To Catch A Spy.

To Catch A Spy by Eric Ambler
This is an anthology of spy stories presented in publication chronology with the intention of demonstrating the birth and development of tales of espionage. It has an informative Introduction written by Ambler, and seven spy stories including one of his own creation.

The introduction is a wonderful essay on why spy stories did not appear in literature before the early twentieth century despite spying vying, he argues, with prostitution for the position of oldest profession. It also contains discussion of the earliest spy stories to appear, and his regret that he cannot include some of his favourites stories in this collection as they are too big for the size of book he was preparing.

His explanation for the absence of spy stories until the 1900s is centred on the code of honour of military personnel in the regular armies of countries who did not hold with being secretive, camouflage, or deception. To them a soldier stood their ground, visible to the enemy, and exchanged shots with their adversaries on the enemy ranks. In this environment the military gentleman was aghast at the idea of people skulking around, lying about their identity and purpose, and stealing secrets. These gentlemen considered anyone who would carry out such underhand practices as a despicable person even if these individuals were spying on their behalf. A cad who would spy triggered the highest degree of distaste and was certainly not the type of person one would socialise with or present with awards for bravery.

Ambler notes the myth held true by honourable, military gentlemen, that their side did not spy, that was something the enemy did; or if their side did carry out spying activities, then it was absolutely necessary and no one would be ungentlemanly enough to talk about it or record it in any way. Ambler concluded that the attitude of these gentlemen, which extended into their social circles, influenced authors of the time, and no respectable author was going to write a story about spying if it was going to expose the widely held myth and result in their being ostracized as cads spreading what must be enemy propaganda.

This all ended in 1903 with the publication of the first spy novel, The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers.

Ambler’s Introduction to this anthology is a treasure in itself.

The Loathly Opposite by John Buchan
Ambler notes in his introduction that the earliest spy stories focused on the upper class people who looked after that sort of intelligence gathering. He also focused on spies being men. John Buchan’s story, “The Loathly Opposite”, is a real tale of gentlemen and how the relate to their opponents in the intelligence game.

This story very much has the gentleman’s club smoking room story, and it is told by one gentleman to other gentlemen in the smoking room of their club. It is an interesting, if twee tale, but is a good sample of how spying/espionage/counter-espionage was thought of at the time; and yet there was still the respect between gentlemen, even gentlemen of the other side.

Guilia Lazzari by Somerset Maugham
Ambler describes this as, “…an ugly story, but a highly satisfying one.”

As one can imagine, stories of the time will reflect the attitudes and prejudices of the time. This story contains racial stereotyping, sexism and all manner of classist attitudes. It is, however, a good glimpse at the state of spy stories at its time of creation.

The main character is, apparently, a recurring one in Somerset Maugham’s work, and the character’s thoughts about espionage and, in particular, his own involvement in such activities, is presented in the early pages of the book in a very informative, insightful, and humous way.

More comment will follow as I read the rest of the stories in the anthology.

sep 6, 7:00 pm

>114 pgmcc: So you liked the Somerset Maugham? I own a few of his books snapped up over the years at various book sales, but I've never read them.

sep 7, 2:51 am

>115 clamairy:
It is the first Maugham work I have read. Dated, but not difficult to read. I do not feel a compulsion to seek out more of his work, but I did like the story as an example of a very early spy story. Ambler described it as ugly but satisfying.

sep 8, 6:27 pm

Further comments on To Catch A Spy.

The First Courier by Compton Mackenzie
This story focused on an intelligence officer posted to a country in Eastern Europe that might swing in with the Germans or might ally themselves with the Allies. The stated premise is that a courier bringing a message from Germany to the local king is due to arrive in the country. The between the lines message from HQ was for the officer to get access to the message while the stated instruction was not to avoid any infringement of diplomatic protocol. Given the context of the premise and the instruction not to upset diplomatic protocol, the main theme of the story is how intelligence officers living under the guise of diplomats carried out the duties. Relationships with intelligence operatives of allied powers is described in clear fashion, the personal ambitions of the officers/diplomats involved are introduced, and subordinates' relationships with their superiors, and how they have to work around their superiors, are all brought into this interesting story. It could be considered as an early spy story that is a "how-to" guide.

I Spy by Graham Greene is a description of how a young boy discovers his father has secrets. It is not a spy story in the traditional sense, if in deed there is a traditional sense, but a story of some collateral effects from the secretive life.

Belgrade 1926 by Eric Ambler
Ampler states that his publisher insisted he include one of his own stories in the anthology. Not having written any short spy stories Ambler extracted an incident from his novel The Mask of Dimitrios and amended it slightly to work as a standalone story. The Mask of Dimitrios was the first Ambler story I read and I remember this extract well. It is a nice piece that demonstrates the nature of spies and spy masters.

From a View To A Kill by Ian Fleming
An interesting little, early Bond escapade.

On Slay Down by Michael Gilbert
A very short piece that gives and insight into how some of the darker side of espionage might work in the interests of effectiveness rather than strictly following legal paths.

Overall Comments
This was an interesting collection of stories demonstrating the evolution of spy stories from the early 1900s to the early 1960s. Given the period these stories were written one will realise they will contain some views and attitudes that would not be totally acceptable today. Ambler's introduction to the collection is erudite, comprehensive and interesting. In his discussion of the origin of the stories he highlights the inappropriate nature of some story content. I sense he was drawing the reader's attention to these flaws and was presenting them as attitudes and behaviours he did not support.

In "The First Courier" I felt Compton Mackenzie was holding up the snobbery and elitist attitudes of the upper-class members of the government and the intelligence industry to ridicule them rather than condone them. Some of his treatment of these attitudes is carried out in quite humorous fashion.

Had this anthology simply contained the stories I would give the book a three star rating, i.e. it is a good book. The presence of Ambler's excellent essay introduction to the anthology pushes me to make the rating three-point-five stars. Had it just contained the essay, I would be tempted to give four-point-five, or possibly even five stars.

sep 8, 7:29 pm

>117 pgmcc: You make it sound wonderful. I'd be all over this if I had an interest in spy stories.

sep 10, 2:32 pm

Currently sitting in Cincinnati having tea.

This message has been brought to you by a test of wifi connectivity.

sep 10, 4:27 pm

>119 pgmcc: For the record, your wifi was working successfully!

sep 10, 4:50 pm

>120 jillmwo:
Thank for the confirmation. I am now sitting in the garden with the singing of the cicadas all around.

While I was sitting drinking my tea I saw something outside that I thought was a hummingbird hawk moth. I was wrong. It was my first ever hummingbird. It is nice to see them in real life.

sep 10, 6:22 pm

I went to the Strathearn Art Walk yesterday and there was an elephant. Or at least a picture of one - smol one with red balloon

sep 10, 6:24 pm

>121 pgmcc: Are there no hummingbirds in Ireland?

Redigerat: sep 10, 9:17 pm

>121 pgmcc: Awesome! Hopefully you will get to see more of them. They have started migrating, so the ones I had all summer are gone. I still have the ones that spent the summer in New England and Canada dropping by and fighting over my hummingbird feeders. Was the one you saw feeding on flowers or is there a nectar feeder in the yard?

sep 10, 10:11 pm

>122 tardis:
Your level of Elephant Awareness is praiseworthy. Keep up the good work.

>123 catzteach:
There are no hummingbirds in Ireland.

>124 clamairy:
We had dinner out in the backyard and there were two hummingbirds vying for control of the feeder. My daughter has a feeder at the back and one at the front of the house.

I also saw a cardinal and a North American goldfinch. We have no cardinals in Ireland, and the European goldfinch has different colouring.

Redigerat: sep 10, 10:20 pm

I have started reading. The Fine Print by Lauren Asher. It is quite quirky and is the first of three books about a theme park called “Dreamworld” whose owner has just died and has bequeathed 54% ownership to be shared by his three grandsons on condition they complete the objectives he has set for each of them within six months.

sep 10, 10:22 pm

Your first hummingbird!! How excellent. I believe ours are all gone or nearly so. Won't be back for months - June 2024 most likely. Such special little creatures.

sep 10, 10:40 pm

>125 pgmcc: Glad you got to see two hummingbirds and the cardinal also.

sep 10, 10:43 pm

>125 pgmcc: Hope you have a lovely visit with your daughter and her family and all the best sightings of the local wildlife.

sep 11, 8:04 am

>127 Bookmarque:
My daughter said the numbers are way down from a few days ago, so the ones I have seen are probably stragglers. The are amazing little creatures to watch.

>128 Karlstar:
It is great seeing the species that we do not have back home. I first saw a cardinal in 2016 during a visit to my daughter when she lived in Boston.

>129 MrsLee:
Thank you, Lee. Things are shaping up well for a good visit. It is our grandson’s birthday next week and a BBQ is in the planning.

Redigerat: sep 11, 11:23 am

>125 pgmcc: What a lovely start to your visit to Cincinnati! I hope you have a great time with your family, and especially enjoy the birthday celebration.

>123 catzteach: There are no hummingbirds in Europe at all!

sep 14, 9:27 pm

No hummingbirds in Europe at all?! I’m so glad you’ve seen one then, Peter. They are so stinkin’ cute!

sep 15, 6:53 am

>132 catzteach: No hummingbirds anywhere in the Old World. We do have an assortment of LBJs but none with the aerobatic ability of a hummingbird.

sep 15, 7:59 am

>132 catzteach: we have a few in New England, and it's always fun to see them. When I visited Colorado, though, I saw literal swarms of them; I guess they prefer that climate.

sep 15, 9:00 am

I get a fair amount, but only the Ruby Throated variety. West of The Rockies there are multiple kinds. And even one year round resident in the Pacific Northwest, the Anna's Hummingbird. I am very envious of that!

sep 15, 8:58 pm

>45 pgmcc: > . . . the author’s skill in creating clearly distinct characters and giving them names that were not likely to be confused with the names of other characters.

I seldom see comments about the author's naming of characters, but it's an important element to me. For one thing, giving major characters names that begin with the same letter can make it difficult to keep them straight. There can't be more than 26 major characters, or you don't have a novel, you have an encyclopedia. I edited one novel where the author had 12 characters whose names began with M, among them the main character. And two of them had the same name. Made them all seem thoughtless.

For another, if authors want to choose names that are unfamiliar to a general audience and perhaps difficult to pronounce, I wish they would just go ahead and give us a glossary. I never knew how to pronounce Casaubon until I saw a TV adaptation. I don't like my inner reading voice to stumble and stammer.

Creating distinctive characters is a challenge to the author, perhaps, especially without making them wildly eccentric or physically exceptional; but they can do that (witness Bunny McGarry) as long as they also make them human, real, alive and breathing.

If I dislike the protagonist's name, though, or the author's, I don't read the book because I don't feel like looking at it all the time.

sep 19, 1:46 pm

Currently rollin’ down The Ohio River on a riverboat. Photos will follow…eventually.

sep 19, 4:40 pm

Enjoy. I hope the weather is perfect for it.

sep 19, 7:27 pm

>138 clamairy:
23C and sunny. Could not be better.

sep 19, 7:47 pm

I finished The Fine Print.

Will I read any more works by this author?

Would I recommend this book?
I would only recommend it to people who like romance stories and are happy with a lot of quite explicit sex scenes.

Did this book inspire me to do anything?
Yes. Delete the second and third books in the trilogy from my Amazon basket.

The book is well written, but the storyline, while it grabbed me early on, lost me as the awkwardness and gratuitous sex scenes built up.

I know both male and female people named Lauren. When I started reading the book I had assumed it was written by a female. As the sexy thoughts of the two main characters, one male and one female, increased in frequency and detail, I began to think the author was male and that I was amazed he got away with what could be considered male fantasy wish-fulfilment. I checked and the author is indeed female.

While reading the first few chapters I was inclined to give the book 3.5 stars. By the time it descended into the realm of over-sexed, twee romance I settled on 2.5.

Male fantasy wish-fulfilmeny? Yes, of course I would have loved to have a girlfriend with the libido of the main female character. It would probably have killed me at a young age, but hey, what a way to go.

And yes, I finished the book so that I could give my friends a considered opinion of the whole book.

sep 19, 7:49 pm

I have now started The Continental Affair, our book club read for September. Apparently this is a romance, but at least it has some espionage too.

sep 19, 7:54 pm

>136 Meredy:
The author of The Luminaries introduced each character in short precis of their lives through conversations with a stranger. It worked well and cemented the characters in the reader’s mind.

sep 19, 9:37 pm

>140 pgmcc: Thank you for taking one for the team and warning us off. It does have a relatively high rating here on LT for a book that sounds like a bit of a groanfest. (Pun intended.) But I have to ask what made you pick it up in the first place?

sep 19, 9:50 pm

>140 pgmcc: I've just read the description. I ask the same question as Clam — what on earth made you pick up not only this but the second and third books?

sep 19, 10:02 pm

>140 pgmcc: My thanks also for taking one for the team on that one. Did you not read the fine print on the back cover first?

sep 20, 9:03 am

>144 haydninvienna: I got the impression this was a Kindle book, and that Peter had the other two in his Amazon cart but had not purchased them yet, thankfully!

sep 20, 11:20 am

>143 clamairy: >144 haydninvienna: >145 Karlstar: >146 clamairy:

Why did I pick up this book?

In November of 2022 I went to Limerick with my wife. She attended a meeting of her political party and I explored bookshops. I remember spotting this book in O’Mahony’s bookshop. My report of the encounter and purchase, as posted on 13/11/2022 and reposted below, accurately reflects why I bought the book. I knew I was taking a risk.

I also picked up The Fine Print by Lauren Asher. I have to admit this came to my attention because I love the cover. As I read the bumf I wanted to think it was good. It gave two character profiles presented by the characters themselves. The first one, “Rowan”, started with, “I’m in the business of creating fairy tales.” How could I not buy it after that. Apparently it is the first in a series of spicy standalone novels featuring three billionaire brothers.

sep 20, 11:59 am

>143 clamairy: >144 haydninvienna: >145 Karlstar: >146 clamairy:

Why did I have the second and third books in my Amazon shopping cart?

First off, let me point out that I am a self confessed bookaholic, bibliophile and almost a completist. (That “almost” causes me so much pain.)

Secondly, if I have a trilogy of physical books I would prefer them to be of the same format and style.

Thirdly, it was the cover design that attracted me to the first book.

Fourthly, the second and third books have been published with the same cover style and format. The three books would look very well together on a shelf.

Fifthly, the second and third books were on offer at attractive prices on Amazon.

At this point let me comment on the question as it was asked. I believe that asking why I had the second and third books in my shopping cart is asking the wrong question. In the context of the five points above, and adding in the point from my previous post, i.e. that I thought the trilogy might be interesting from the storytelling point of view, the correct question to ask would be, “Why has Peter not already bought the second and third books?”.

This brings me to the sixth point in this post.

I was taking a risk with a new author with no experience of their work. With a trans-Atlantic flight ahead of me I had the chance to read the first book. I put the second and third books in my shopping cart on the basis that I would read the first book and confirm the purchase if I found the first book to be good. I have since deleted the two books from my cart.

So, my aesthetic sensibility wanted the books for display while my intellectual side* urged caution against spending money on a series that was not of a quality I would be happy to possess.

*”Intellectual side” = “miserlyfrugal self”

sep 20, 4:33 pm

>148 pgmcc: Oh, I misunderstood. So now you can't just delete it from your Kindle and move on. You're stuck with a physical copy.

sep 20, 4:52 pm

>149 clamairy:
Well, I do not have physical copies of the two books I did not buy. Emphasise the positive.

sep 21, 3:42 am

>149 clamairy: Ah, but he's in America, so he can leave it on a bench somewhere and it will almost certainly not follow him home.

Redigerat: sep 21, 10:11 am

>151 MrsLee:
I had a very spicy book that I was trying to get rid of. There was a book sale for charity in the local Catholic church, so I left it there. :-)

Spread the guilt.

sep 21, 10:34 am

>151 MrsLee: I like your way of thinking. >152 pgmcc: You really are a somewhat wicked rogue, aren't you?

Redigerat: sep 21, 10:39 am

>152 pgmcc: You are my hero of the day... maybe the month.

sep 24, 5:23 pm

We are back from Cincinnati.

We had a good time and enjoyed the city.

sep 24, 6:33 pm

Yay! I'm glad it was a good trip.

sep 24, 6:58 pm

>156 pgmcc: Nice to have you home, it looked like a great trip.

sep 25, 10:51 am

>156 pgmcc: Glad you had a good trip.

sep 25, 10:55 am

>175 Karlstar: & >158 MrsLee:

It was a great trip and we are glad to be home. My wife’s mobility issues improved so we ended up doing a lot more than we had expected to. Currently we are taking it easy and processing the jet-lag. At the moment, 15:51 hrs on Monday, having a jet-lagged lunch at the local garden centre. I am having Eggs Florentine and my wife is eating smoked salmon. Very grand indeed. :-)

I have taken hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures on my phone. I will be reviewing them and will present a selection here in a report on our adventures.

sep 25, 4:52 pm

>160 pgmcc:
I know I will come under attack for my next comments.

There will be very little reporting on cheese and wine from our Cincinnati trip.

Most of the cheese consumed over the past two weeks was in burgers, burritos or sauce. The only wine was from a big bottle of Merlot bought in a drugstore and only consumed on the occasional special occasion. My daughter and her husband are focused on raising their two young children rather than indulging in the delights of good wines and cheeses. :-( I know, you do your best for your children and this happens. At least the Merlot was nice.

sep 25, 5:58 pm

>161 pgmcc: I suppose the grandchildren filled the void of the wine and cheese. It would be too good to have all three.

sep 25, 6:23 pm

>162 MrsLee:
You are correct. The children were attending day-care in the case of the two-year-old, and kindergarten in the case of big sister. Family meals were arranged around the walk to school and the arrival back from day-care. Bed times were early, so there was not opportunity for quaffing copious amounts of wine or enjoying the nuanced flavours of exotic cheeses.

I have just been using my Google Maps timeline to remind myself of what we got up to and where we went. It is turning out that we did quite a lot.

By the way, my wife loves seeing how people live in other countries, so she considers a trip to a supermarket or other retail outlet as an tourist expedition. We managed to get to Kroger, Target and CVS Drugstore. My wife also got to Jungle Jim's. We do the most exciting tourist activities.

I will produce a list of our daily expeditions shortly.

sep 25, 8:37 pm

>163 pgmcc: I am curious to know what she thought of Target. It used to be one of my favorite places to shop when my kids were younger. I still go, but the one near where I live now has too few checkout lanes open these days.

sep 26, 12:12 am

>163 pgmcc: I am curious, do you have any of those chain stores where you live, and are they different, or mostly the same?

On of my biggest beefs is the homogenization of towns these days through chain restaurants and stores. A loss of community individuality.

sep 26, 9:18 am

>165 MrsLee: I've been very lucky. The last two areas I have lived in refuse to allow anything more than a Dunkin' Donuts and a 7-Eleven. The only negative being I have to drive for 25 minutes to get to Target and Costco. We don't even allow fast food out here on the North Fork. (There is one MacDonald's 10 miles away but it looks like a church.) I don't eat fast food at all, so it's no skin off my nose. And it definitely seems to cut down on the litter.

sep 26, 9:25 am

Cincinnati adventure highlights.

9th September: Flew to Cincinnati via Chicago. Departed Dublin at 11:35 hrs Irish time and arrived Cincinnati 20:08 hrs Ohio time. 13 hours 33 minutes in total, 9 hours 48 minutes flying. Arrived at Dublin airport at 8:30hours to allow for security, US Immigration Pre-clearance & breakfast.

10th September: Day of rest. Visit to McDonalds.

11th September: Visit to University of Cincinnati to collect grandson after his time in day-care. Discovered a Cincinnati styled TARDIS and a Mammoth, which is as close to an elephant as makes no difference.

12th September: Evening visit to Target for a few specific gifts and new trousers for me. I have lost weight and the full-body scans at airport security present me with a difficulty. Taking my belt off and raising my hands above my head in the scanner present the risk of arrest for indecent exposure.

13th September: Dropping granddaughter to school and collecting her at the end of her day.

14th September: Walking to PVS Pharmacy, dry-cleaners for new trouser alteration to shorten the legs, and lunch in City BBQ. Visit to Kroger with son-in-law to buy supplies for Sunday’s BBQ.

15th September: Granddaughter Dr appointment, visit to library, wait in Starbucks with grandson for granddaughter and daughter, then lunch in new restaurant in Maedira, SwingLine. After lunch we had a visit to Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Chinese food was collected and eaten.

16th September: I took the bus into Cincinnati and was the first visitor of the day at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Met up with rest of family at Moerlein Lager House for lunch, followed by a walk and play in the park by the river beside the Roebling suspension Bridge. Back to house to prepare for Sunday’s Birthday and Christening BBQ.

17th September: Grandson’s second birthday and christening. 50 people, including children, invited back to the house for a BBQ. Weather was good and we all had a great time in the garden eating hotdogs and cake.

18th September: My wife and I went to Kroger and back. We discovered toy elephants for sale in Kroger.

19th September: Taxi to Newport on the Levee and a two hour riverboat sightseeing tour on The Ohio River. That was great fun. We then walked over the Taylor Southgate Bridge to the Ohio side of the river and made our way to the Moerling Lager House (MLH) where we had a late lunch. A sports radio programme was being broadcast from table a short distance from us. The Reds were playing that day and there were plenty of Reds supporters in the MLH having something to eat before the game.

After lunch we headed for the bus back home and just about made it in time to babysit our grandson while his parents brought his big sister to a Bluey stage show, which she loved.

20th September: My wife was due to visit Jungle Jim’s with our daughter on this evening, but our s-i-l has some good news at work and he wanted us to all go out to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant to celebrate. There was a massive amount of food. I had a burrito containing beef, chicken, peas and cheese, and topped with chorizo and prawns. Delish!

After the restaurant meal we went to a pet shop and bought our daughter a Betta Fish.

21st September: Went to a lunch organised by the 50s+ group at our daughter and s-i-l’s church. The entertainment was an actor who came in costume and character as Lotte Moon Clark, a confederate spy. The actor was excellent. She told us her life history in her black lace dress, fanning herself with an ornate hand-fan, and speaking with a Southern Drawl. Her life included abandoning her betrothed at the altar and subsequently marrying another. Her eventual husband was taking no chances of a repeat performance; as they were coming along the corridor in her family house and descending the stairs to the awaiting guests, he came close to her, and she expected he would whisper some endearment to her. She was startled to feel the nozzle of a gun in her ribs and to hear the words, “There will be a wedding here today or a funeral here tomorrow.” The wedding proceeded as planned. By the way, the first man she was due to marry eventually became General Burnside of the Union Arm. He had whiskers that swept up to his temples. Apparently his style of whiskers was named after him, “sideburns”.

22nd September: Target first thing in the morning. Cincinnati Museum Center next. Two year development checkup for grandson which required another wait in Starbucks. The evening involved my daughter taking me to a Reds game. It was an amazing experience.

23rd September: 8am check-in at Cincinnati Airport for 11:16 hrs take off to Chicago. 4 hour stopover at Chicago airport with a 15:50 take off to Dublin. Arrived in Dublin at 05:00 hrs on Sunday, 24th September. A friend came to the airport to collect us and we took the opportunity of having breakfast at the airport and a good chin-wag with our friend before her taking us home. We did not want the adventure to end too soon.

sep 26, 9:29 am

>164 clamairy:
My wife used it last year to get some gifts and wanted to go back this year for some specific items. Our first visit this year was limited because of her mobility issues, but her physiotherapy is paying off and her walking ability has greatly improved. At the start of our trip she was using a mobility scooter. As the days passed she was able to walk further and reduced her use of the scooter. Our second visit to Target was a little more leisurely and we had a coffee in the in-store Starbucks.

My wife likes the store.

In terms of checkouts, yes, there was only one checkout with a person at it; the rest were all self-checkouts.

sep 26, 9:37 am

>165 MrsLee:
We have chain stores. Kroger is like Tesco here. Tesco is a British chain store. Its biggest rival is Dunnes Stores which is a family run business. It has big stores selling groceries, homewares and textiles (clothes). I used to work as the head of systems for Dunnes. That was a fascinating insight into retailing.

Supervalu is another chain, but its stores are run as franchises that are sourced from the central distribution centres of the central company.

Lidl and Aldi are big here. I am not sure if Lidl is in the US. Aldi is a German based company. Some decades ago some Aldi employees left and set up Lidl, which follows the same model as Aldi: high efficiency to keep costs down; standard store layouts to simplify training and all other processes, keeping costs down; a store in every settlement to present ubiquitous presence.

Supermarkets are supermarkets. I see the same trends in all the supermarkets in various countries.

There are other store formats the provide convenience products for people shopping everyday and in a hurry.

Redigerat: sep 26, 10:16 am

>168 pgmcc: That all sounds wonderful. How well did your digestive system handle the Mexican food? I'm assuming that's not a cuisine that you are exposed to too often in Dublin.

>169 pgmcc: We have both Lidl and Aldi here. I definitely prefer to go to Lidl. But it's a newer store and everything is still spotless. The Aldi is a little rundown, and doesn't seem to have as wide of a variety of products as Lidl does. They are both about a 25 minute drive, so when I only have a few things to get I go to the IGA here in town, which is about 4 minutes away. It is generally more expensive, but it does carry a decent amount of local produce.

sep 26, 10:30 am

Congratulations to Ireland on beating the Bokke on Saturday in the (thugby) World Cup on Saturday -- so far the only team to do so this year.

sep 26, 1:33 pm

>171 hfglen:
Thank you, Richard. The pilot on our transatlantic flight was giving match updates and finally announced Ireland’s win.

sep 26, 1:36 pm

>170 clamairy:
Mexican food can be had in Dublin. I do not know of any Mexican restaurants but there are restaurants that serve Mexican food amongst others. Mexican food is also popular for home preparation.

sep 26, 1:39 pm

>173 pgmcc:
I sit corrected. Having Googled “Dublin Mexican restaurants” I found three straight off:
Il Silencio
The Hungry Mexican

sep 26, 1:53 pm

>167 pgmcc: Sounds like a great trip! How was the food in general? I see more than one BBQ restaurant mentioned, were they good? Are you a ribs, chicken or brisket person? These are important questions!

Thanks for taking the time to write that up, glad you had a good visit.

Redigerat: sep 26, 2:46 pm

>175 Karlstar:
City BBQ was good. My wife was on a mobility scooter and the CLEANING WOMAN* made great space for us and was very attentive and made sure we knew how the ordering process worked. She was obviously an older citizen of high awareness of people’s needs. When I ordered our food at the counter the person taking my order was very patient and helpful.

We had ribs, and the ribs were laden with meat. They must have been the meatiest ribs I have had.

In Swingline I had brisket. It was very good.

People in Europe do not go to the US for the food. The food is good, but it tends to come in big portions, big tastes and is very much comfort food. It appears big, bold and brash. While we have similar food we also have more delicate food which I suspect is available in the US, but probably at more expensive restaurants.

US food appears to be very expensive. We did not manage to find a meal for two for less than $50. The lunch we had yesterday at our local garden centre, which considers itself upper end of the market, cost us less than €30. We had Eggs Flourentine and Smoke Salmon which we expect would be much dearer in the US.

The US food is fun.

At the Reds game I had a slice of pepperoni pizza and it was probably the best pizza I have tasted.

*Name the movie.

sep 26, 2:53 pm

By tge way, I visited Hodges Figgis a couple of hours ago. This resulted in books residing in my backpack.

The Enigma of Room 622 by Jöel Dicker

Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Prose by Raymond Carver

sep 26, 3:50 pm

>176 pgmcc: All of your observations regarding food in the US are correct. You roll away from the table no healthier in terms of nutritional value, but feeling as if you have consumed more than sufficient calories. (As just a quick cautionary note, this is doubly true if you eat out in New Orleans. I always loved working conferences there and getting to the various restaurants but geez louise, you leave at least ten pounds heavier.)

For the record, I personally loathe the software in use at self-checkout lanes. I cannot imagine how anyone could have written such seriously bad software.

All in all, it seems as if you must have had a grand time and now you get to enjoy a bit of decompress-and-rest. Unless you're flying off to France again any time soon.

As to >177 pgmcc: the guys at Hoggis Figgis must be thrilled when they see you walk in the door. Ka-ching!!

sep 26, 4:00 pm

The food in California (and on the west coast generally) is much better than most of the food in the midwest. Midwest is all comfort food all the time. California has much better and more authentic Mexican food but arguably not better chili.

sep 26, 5:25 pm

>178 jillmwo:
We are heading to France by ferry on 11th October, returning in early November.

Yes, the whole idea of self-checkout is worthy of long discussion in the context of social justice, cost/benefit, social engineering, societal erosion,…

sep 26, 5:25 pm

sep 26, 6:09 pm

>179 reconditereader: I would say the same is true of many of the big cities on the East Coast. But Peter is right in that one needs to be able to afford to dine in the places where the food is noteworthy and not because of its portion size.

sep 26, 7:59 pm

My daughter's house is about a 20 - 25 minute walk from Kroger. There is a stretch of about half a mile along the main road that has a big number of food outlets. These include:
- City BBQ X
- Dunkin' Donuts Y I (Was popular in Ireland but left.)
- Chipotle
- Buffalo Wings and Rings
- La Rosa's Pizza
- Graeter's (Ice cream parlour) X
- Bob Evans X
- Donato's Pizza
- Jersey Mike's Subs
- Chick-fil-A (under construction)
- Arby's
- Mi Cozumel X
- Burger King Y I

There is a McDonalds about another quarter of a mile to the north. X Y I

There is also a Chinese takeaway nearby X

X = I have eaten in this establishment

Y = I have eaten in another branch of this chain

I = We have, or had, outlets of this chain in Ireland

Redigerat: sep 27, 12:57 am

My kindle either has a comic sense of timing, or has a wicked, evil mind. I war reading The Continental Affair on the bus on my way home from meeting a few friends. I was coming to the story climax.


My paper books never do that to me.

Now, where is that charger.

Redigerat: sep 26, 8:15 pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

sep 26, 8:39 pm

>184 pgmcc: Oh, the humanity! Perhaps you might consider adding a reminder on your phone to charge it once every 10 - 14 days. Usually charge mine when I see it's getting below the 40% range. (My new one came with a lovely wireless recharging stand. I don't need to take off the leather case.)

sep 26, 8:41 pm

>183 pgmcc: Yikes! Yeah, the part of Illinois I lived in was like that. All chains, and very few mom & pop restaurants.

sep 26, 10:20 pm

>176 pgmcc: The combination of the pandemic, increasing labor costs and inflation have substantially increased the cost of dining out. I'm not sure the current prices are sustainable. The restaurants that we enjoyed pre-2020, now seem too overpriced. As you've noted, in many restaurants we were paying for quantity, not quality, but the quantity has been reduced (really, it has!). It is difficult to find a quality restaurant.

sep 27, 6:13 am

>188 Karlstar:
The pandemic killed off many eating places here too. Some transformed into delivery or click & collect operations for the duration. Others simply disappeared. Since the pandemic many establishments have found it difficult to get staff and have closed for that reason and the increasing costs of energy and supplies. The supply chain issues caused by the global lockdown during the pandemic caused scarcity and increased cost. As the pandemic eased the war in Ukraine upset the slowly recovering supply chains and led to a major hike in fuel prices.

sep 27, 11:06 am

>167 pgmcc: Thank you for sharing the trip with us. Looks like you didn't have much time for boredom!

Our little town (15,000) in California seems to have a good mix of chain eateries (if you like fast food) and other family owned restaurants, with Mexican restaurants outnumbering any other type by about 3-1. There are places where my husband and I can eat lunch for about $30. I do agree with your assessment of restaurant food in America though. We usually take home about half our meal, and so technically we dine for $15. At least in the local restaurants. The quality is not great. Which is why we rarely dine out.

sep 27, 5:06 pm

>190 MrsLee:
I have no complaints about the quality of the food. I remember McDonalds was always the prime example of perfect quality in the 1990s when Total Quality Management became a big thing. Quality was defined as meeting expectations. The McDonalds example stated that people going to McDonalds knew what they were getting and got what they were expecting, i.e. the expectations were met, i.e. perfect quality.

The food I have had in the US has been good; it has, however, been primarily comfort food or fun food rather than gourmet dishes or fine dining. Most of the food outlets are fast-food chains. Their product is designed to be standard, to be possible to produce quickly, and to sate the appetites of customers. The menu in the Mexican restaurant we went to was enormous and their dishes very complex. Obviously this restaurant was going for a more complete and varied dining experience. They were still big dishes with big flavours and lots of fun.

In relation to portion size, my s-i-l said restaurants in the US expect customers not to finish their meal and to want a box to bring it home for later consumption. It appeared to be standard that servers would ask us if we wanted boxes to take home our leftovers. I was the only person to finish my meal when we visited the Mexican restaurant. The server sounded a bit surprised that I had finished it. There are probably two reasons I finished the meal.

Firstly, in Ireland it is normal for people to finish their meal in a restaurant. If you want to take some food home you will probably have to ask for a container, normally referred to as a doggy bag under the pretence that you are bringing some home for the dog. Every restaurant will provide a doggy-bag if you ask for one, but some will not be prepared and they may have to cobble something together for you to bring the food home.

Secondly, my s-i-l has a comparatively small appetite. He keeps commenting that I have a big appetite. When I received my dish at the Mexican restaurant I was thinking I would bring half or a third of it home. My s-i-l commented, "I'm looking forward to seeing if Peter can finish this." I made no comment; I simply ate slowly and steadily. By the time I was thinking of getting a box I looked at what was left on my plate and thought it would be a waste of a box to take that paltry amount of food home, so I finished it. My s-i-l was amazed. Did I subconsciously accept his implied challenge? Damn right I did. It was gorgeous by the way.

sep 27, 6:46 pm

I have just finished The Continental Affair by Christine Mangan

Would I read another book by this author?
I would probably not go looking for other books by this author, but I can see myself reading other books by them at some time in the future.

Would I recommend this book?
I would recommend it to people who like criminal chases that are complicated by the possibility of human relationships.

Did this book inspire me to do anything?
It did inspire me to look up a few locations that appear in the story.

Redigerat: sep 28, 9:00 am

I have started reading The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker.

sep 28, 11:27 am

Thanks for telling us about your trip, Peter! It sounds like you had a great time. I loved your photos of the rail station. It is iconic. I've only been to Cinncinnati briefly and didn't get to see it.

I was lucky to live in Philadelphia when it was becoming one of the best restaurant cities in the US. It had everything from renowned high-end dining to places that felt like they were in the front room of someone's house with the family cooking for you. And cuisines from all over the world. I haven't visited since before the pandemic, but I hope at least some of that glory has survived. There is always a time and a place for a massive portion of comfort food from a big chain though!

Redigerat: sep 28, 6:47 pm

I promised a few pictures from our sojourn in Cincinnati. Here is a family picture.

My wife is the lady in the red top in front of the Premier Coach on the right. The young girl in the blue dress is my granddaughter. The buggy contains my grandson. This family shot was taken in front of the Cincinnati Museum Centreer (when in Rome) which is an amazing building with amazing exhibits. We only had a couple of hours there but could have spent the whole day and still not have seen everything.

sep 28, 7:19 pm

>195 pgmcc: There is speck of red in front of the bus, yes. Lovely building!

sep 28, 7:55 pm

>196 clamairy:
How dare you call my wife a speck?


sep 29, 5:28 am

While on holiday I spotted a Cincinnati Style TARDIS.

sep 29, 5:33 am

The hippos in Cincinnati Zoo are very tame.

sep 29, 5:34 am

On that note I should probably start a new thread.

sep 29, 8:42 am

>199 pgmcc: What, no elephant?

Redigerat: sep 29, 1:19 pm

>201 Karlstar: Well, seeing as you asked:

There is always an elephant.


sep 29, 2:55 pm

>202 pgmcc: My job here is done.

sep 29, 8:34 pm

Ahh, there's the requisite elephants!
Den här diskussionen fortsatte här: PGMCC explores the Biblioverse in 2023: Chapter 6