Monday 10 August 2020

Just finished and currently reading

I've finished just two books since the beginning of August, one I've been reading for several weeks, the other I devoured in two days. This is a quick catch-up post.

First up, Atlantic by Simon Winchester.

The sub-title of this book is 'A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories' and that pretty much sums up the book. The author starts at the beginning, going back to the slow creation of the Atlantic when the continents parted and moves on through history to the present day. He uses Shakespeare's 'The Seven Ages of Man' as his basis for the chapters of the book, 'The Infant', 'The Whining Schoolboy', 'The Lover', 'The Soldier' etc. It might sound a bit odd but it actually works very well. The book is beautifully written, very readable, not at all dry, lots of interesting anecdotes and lots of accessible history. My favourite section was that of the fishing of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, descriptions of the amount of cod that used to be there and how we humans managed to fish it out. A sad, sad story but Simon Winchester made it absolutely fascinating. I've been reading off my own shelves for months now with the intention of clearing a few books to go to the charity shop. And I've succeeded, but not with Atlantic, it's a keeper and a candidate for rereading in a few years. Fascinating and excellent. I have his book, Krakaotoa (apparently it's not 'East of Java' at all) to read and I'm really looking forward to it. I love it when I can add another non-fiction writer to my list of reliably good authors.

Atlantic was my 14th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2020.

Lastly, An Air that Kills by Andrew Taylor.

Jill Francis, a journalist living in London, is visiting friends, Philip and Charlotte, in Lydmouth after a traumatic event that has left her an emotional wreck. After she arrives the bones of a young baby are found in an old pub that's being demolished and it's thought they might date back to Victorian times. Jill and Charlotte become involved with the police investigation which is being headed by another newcomer to the area, Inspector Richard Thornhill. He's struggling with life in general and in particular his marriage and his new boss, an old style, overbearing detective. Thornhill and Jill Francis join forces to solve the case but their mutual antipathy is a barrier to progress. This was an odd one. Well written, pacey, very interesting, set on the borders of Wales and England. I devoured it in a couple of days, I was so intrigued by the case. Which makes it all the more peculiar that I can't decide whether to read any more in the series. You see, I didn't really care for anyone in the story. And it was 'grim'. Unrelentingly so. OK, the time period of the 1950s was not the most cheery of the 20th. century and thus I'm not attracted to books set during that decade, so that doesn't help. But for a book to have no humour, no one in it that's happy, that's quite an achievement really! So while I admired the writing, was fascinated by the case, despite having guessed the outcome from quite early on, I honestly don't know if I want to read on. Do I care enough about the characters? Possibly not.

So, I'm currently reading these three:

A Watery Grave by Joan Druett. Murder and mayhem on the high seas at the time of the United States Exploring Expedition in 1838. Great fun so far.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Classic about a missing diamond. Loving it to bits.

Coastlines: The Story of our Shore by Patrick Barkham. Walks on the pieces of coastline owned by The National Trust. Just started but think it's going to be very enjoyable.

How nice to be reading three good books all at one time.

So, all of a sudden I'm not blogging very much and it's down to one thing and one thing only, this wretched new interface that Blogspot are trying to force upon us. I've tried it twice now and run into trouble posting pics both times and had to go back to the old legacy one. That's apparently only going to be available until the end of this month (though they said that in June and then in July) so if it does go I'm not sure what I'll do because I'm really not going to struggle to use something that gives me a load of aggro. Blogging's supposed to be fun not an extra source of stress in your life. We'll see. I'll either have to give up my blog and move my reviews to Goodreads or move my blog to Wordpress. But what if I struggle with Wordpress too? At least I'm not the only one struggling with Blogspot blogging, I just wonder if they will listen to what people are saying and leave the legacy interface for those of us who prefer it. If not I can honestly see a mass exodus. And, you know, life is horrible enough at the moment for everyone, you might have thought Blogspot would realise this and leave well alone until things are more normal, not purposely add to the stress by doing this to us. You have to wonder about these people sometimes, you really do.



Kay said...

Cath, I totally understand your frustration with the software for blog posts. Sigh. All I can say is you could just go with no pictures. It wouldn't be horrible. Hopefully, they will leave the legacy around for a while longer.

As to the mystery that you read and didn't like the characters, I understand. I'll check it out as the author doesn't sound familiar. You know, it's funny, my husband doesn't like watching too many British crime shows because he thinks they are too gloomy. Me, I don't have that problem, but since we're watching together these days...he liked Agatha Raisin though. Who would have thought? I told him her clothes alone in the TV adaptation would negate any 'gloomy' effect. LOL

Lark said...

Fingers crossed that Blogger leaves the legacy interface in place. I hate how they arbitrarily decided to change something everyone seemed to be fine with, you know? It's frustrating!

Cathy said...

Glad to see that you're enjoying A Watery Grave. I really like that series.

As for the new interface... I wish I could set fire to it. I've purposely stuck with the stupid thing because Blogger said the old (good) one was going away and I'd have to get used to it anyway. What annoys the ever-lovin' puddin' outta me is that I'll get used to one thing and in a week, they'll change it and I have to relearn it. I got used to the new way of getting photos in a post, and they've changed it on me. My reviews have a new look-- whether I wanted them to or not.

Evidently, Blogger has employees sitting at home and the powers-that-be decided that they must be kept occupied, so they've been ordered to monkey around with the coding for the interface. Lots of us are not happy bunnies!

Judith said...

Hi Cath,
Well, Blogger seems to have altered their warning that they are dispensing with the old platform in August! It no longer says that on my page. Maybe enough people have complained??? I've decided not to worry about it this month, but to go along as much as I can.
And so interested to know that you are loving The Moonstone!! That's wonderful! I will put it on my list for the coming year. I need to read your post again, and perhaps comment again. So good to hear from you. (We're having horrid weather at the moment. Oppressive humidity and very high temperatures. They make me a horrid person as well. Even the dog is terribly unhappy with it.)

Cath said...

Kay: Thank you for understanding. Yes, I could do posts without pictures and considered it, realising it would not be terrible at all. But I do like to use pics and feel not being able to use them is a step backwards that I shouldn't have to take, I'd rather flounce off to Wordpress. LOL

The author, Andrew Taylor, is quite well known over here, he wrote The American Boy, about Edgar Allen Poe, which I read a few years ago. Like your husband I'm not too keen on gloomy Beritish crime series and I can't watch those Scandi types either as they scare the life out of me. I'm such a wimp.

Lark: I really hope they do leave the legacy interface in place, perhaps they will as so many people have kicked up a stink. I do know what you mean, it's comes under the category of, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

Cathy: I'm really enjoying Wiki and George's adventures on the high seas and your blog was where I first read about them so thank you for that.

Well, that makes two of us wanting to set fire to the new interface. I thought I'd stick with it too, especially on my 2nd. attempt but I just couldn't make it work. Possibly I was trying when they were 'fixing' things again. Exactly... your reviews now have a new look that you haven't chosen and to me that's unfair.

Oh yes, I can well believe employees were told to fiddle to earn their money. I wonder if Blogspot expected this kind of response to the fiddling, perhaps they don't care.

Sam said...

I think that the new Blogger is still pretty far from being "ready for prime time." They do seem to have fixed the problem I complained to them about, so maybe they really are listening. That would be nice.

Sounds like your reading choices so far for the month have mostly been good ones, so you have that going for you anyway. I'm putting "Atlantic" on my hold list at the library...sounds like the kind of book that would probably have ordinarily scared me away without your enthusiastic review. Thanks.

Cath said...

Hi Judith. Yes, I noticed the warnings had gone and then a couple of days ago I got another one appearing telling me that they're going to get rid of the legacy interface at the end of June. Hmm... which June I wonder? Joking aside it's a real mess. I shall stick with the legacy interface until it's ripped from my dying fingers.

Oh, The Moonstone is delightful! Honestly you will love it. I'm taking it slowly as I did with The Woman in White.

I can sympathise about your weather as we have similar here. I don't imagine it's quite as hot as where you are but it's warm and muggy and thoroughly unpleasant and not going until the weekend. I'd be looking forward to the autumn if it weren't for Covid19.

Cath said...

Sam: Pleased to hear that they fixed the problem that you complained about, that's something at least. It would indeed be nice if they were listening but er...

It's funny you saying that would've been scared away by Atlantic, there was me thinking as I finished it that it's just the sort of book 'you' would enjoy. And it has an excellent bibliography at the back for further reading so that appeals to me too. I do seem to be in the mood for sea based books at the moment.

Sam said...

A quick postscript: As I was putting Atlantic on hold, I saw that he has also written one called Pacific (2015) which sounds similar to what you describe for this one.

TracyK said...

Atlantic by Simon Winchester sounds very good but I don't know that I want to add it to my books, since I have a lot of books that I need to read. I will have to ask my husband if he is interested. According to my book catalog I read An Air that Kills in 2009, but I remember little about it. My only memory is that I did not like it that well. Well, if I decide to continue the series, I might reread it again. Although I have other books by Taylor that I want to read more.

I do want to read The Moonstone but before Coronavirus I was looking for a copy and I never found one I was happy with. So that will wait awhile.

About New Blogger. I am still using it and I have so far been able to put out acceptable (to me) posts. But not without a lot of frustration. I finally figured out how to center images. Nothing else with images works reliably. One big issue I have is that the problems change from day to day. That might be a good reason to revert to old blogger, although if they don't get feedback they won't fix things. It is possible by the time they cut off old blogger, the serious problems will be fixed. I will stick with Blogger vs WordPress as long as I can.

But I do hope you do keep reviewing if you give up on Blogger, either on Goodreads or Wordpress. I want to know how your reading is going and keep in touch.

Mystica said...

Lovely collection of reads here though I doubt I will be able to track any of them down. I particularly liked the Andrew Taylor book.
I have had the same issues with blogging and rather than not getting the reviews in, have done them without the book cover and feel I am letting the side down badly as a result. If anyone has had luck with the images please let us know. I am just glad that it was not my inability to understand the new blogger.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

Cath, as if it isn't bad enough with this pesky virus we could do without changes to our blogs - Blogger does seem to be in a bad way, but I am so pleased to see you still posting. I hope you don't stop!!! I was having a problem adjusting to the new WordPress editor but I'm happy with it now, so don't worry if you have to change to WordPress.

I agree about the 'grimness' of An Air that Kills but I did enjoy it. And I loved The Moonstone.

CLM said...

You and I absolutely agreed on An Air That Kills. I didn't like any of the characters at all (and I forgot how obnoxious Thornhill's boss was when I wrote my review); however, I may be curious enough to read more. All my library books are coming at once, sort of like an avalanche, and the second one is on its way. I am taking a week off at the end of the month so will have some uninterrupted reading time. Maybe it won't be too hot to sit in the hammock outside. Oh wait, I was going to clean the house.

Cath said...

Sam: Oh, right. I haven't looked at all of his output so didn't know there was one called 'Pacific'. Sounds like another one to put on the 'to read' shelf on Goodreads.

Tracy: Funnily enough, I didn't realise An Air that Kills was that old. He's a good author, I enjoyed The American Boy and there's a historical series of his I would like to try too. I think perhaps this Lymouth series is just not for me.

It's pretty annoying for you to manage to post but only with a lot of frustration. When I came back to my blog the day after I posted this post Blogger had automatically switched me to the new interface. I let it stay for a while and then switched it back. The message came up that 'within the coming months everyone will be switched to the new interface'. So they've changed that from 'by the end of August'. Suspect the problems they're experiencing are worse than they thought.

I really don't want to give up my blog and won't unless things get really bad and I get too angry with it all. Wordpress is a definite option though.

Cath said...

Mystica: No, it's not your inability to understand the new blogger, it seems no one can at the moment. It's so frustrating as one of the things I loved about Blogspot is how easy their old interface was to use. So easy to put pictures where you want, left, right, in the middle, different sizes. I can't see any way to choose on the new interface unless I'm very dense, which is entirely possible.

Margaret: Exactly. Yes, I think Blogger is in a bad way and I wonder just how many complaints they've had. I haven't found anyone with a good word to say about this new interface.

Constance: Yes, I read your review and saw that neither of us found any of the characters at all sympathetic. Odd way to write a book but there you go. If you do read book 2 I'll be very interested to hear what it's like.

Enjoy your week off to read... the housework can wait. LOL

R's Rue said...

I get your frustration

Marg said...

I have just stuck with the old Blogger and will stick with it as long as possible.

Cath said...

Marg: Me too, it switched me over a few days ago so I switched back again.

Susan said...

I hate the new Blogger, too, so I've just been sticking with the Legacy version. If it goes away, I'll move to WordPress although I really don't want to. I love the old Blogger - I really don't know why they have to change things up, especially in a BAD way. What's up with that??

Bummer about AN AIR THAT KILLS. I like the premise, but I would not be able to handle the grimness + unlikable characters + no humor at all. I could deal with one, but a combination of all three? No thanks.

Cath said...

Susan: Yes, I've stuck with the legacy version too, even when Blogger switched me to the new one I changed back. I don't know what I'll do when the legacy one goes away. If it does I'll probably move to Wordpress too even though I don't want to either. It's infuriating.

Yep, I honestly don't think I'll be reading any more in that series, too many other wonderful books out there.