Robertgreaves Carries On ROOTING in 2022 Part Deux

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Robertgreaves Carries On ROOTING in 2022 Part Deux

1Robertgreaves
Sep 28, 2022, 7:22pm

Part 1 was here.

All books I own as of today now become ROOTs. I have 25 treebooks and 99 ebooks on the TBR shelf, making a total of 124 ROOTs, down from 167 ROOTs this time last year, which means I may run out of books in 2025, a worrying thought.

Nevertheless, since ebooks are always available and always tempting I am as usual going to limit myself:

1. 2 books as a reward for each kg I lose;
2. next in a series;
3. bookclub/reading group books.

2Robertgreaves
Edited: Sep 28, 2022, 7:37pm

Starting my No. 142, Dog Is In the Details by Neil S. Plakcy. This ebook is my eighty-fifth ROOT for 2022. It fits the MysteryKIT

My review of The Inheritors from last time I read it:

Lok and the people are moving to their summer camp. As they settle in they become aware of new people in the neighbourhood.

An imaginative telling of what happens when Neanderthals meet modern humans from the Neanderthals' point of view. The author really brings you into a completely different way of experiencing the world.


The ebook cover has changed since I last read it 8 years ago. I prefer the old cover.

3rocketjk
Sep 28, 2022, 7:49pm

The Inheritors looks like fun. Happy new thread!

4Robertgreaves
Sep 28, 2022, 9:42pm

Thanks for dropping by, Jerry

5MissWatson
Sep 29, 2022, 2:52am

>2 Robertgreaves: That looks very interesting, Robert. BB taken. And happy new thread, of course!

6Robertgreaves
Sep 29, 2022, 4:40am

Thanks for dropping by, Birgit

7rabbitprincess
Sep 29, 2022, 5:19pm

Happy new thread! I hope you like Amongst Our Weapons :)

8Robertgreaves
Sep 29, 2022, 7:22pm

Thanks for dropping by, RP

9Robertgreaves
Sep 29, 2022, 8:15pm

In honour of International Translation Day, starting my No. 143, The Easy Life in Kamusari by Shion Miura, translated from Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter. This ebook is my eighty-sixth ROOT for 2022.

My review of Dog is in the Details:

When a local rabbi's brother from several states away is murdered, Steve Levitan offers to help find out what he had been doing in the area. Is the murder related to the murder of a Holocaust survivor and his rabbi in the late 1940s?

A quick enjoyable read but with a somewhat darker background than the usual cozy.


10Robertgreaves
Sep 30, 2022, 9:08pm

Possible reading for October:

11Robertgreaves
Sep 30, 2022, 9:26pm

I started my No. 144 Rockets Versus Gravity by Richard Scarsbrook last night as an insomnia read (after midnight so it counts for October). This ebook is my eighty-seventh ROOT for 2022. It fits the AlphaKIT.

My review of The Easy Life in Kamusari:

After leaving his Yokohama high school, Yuki Hirano drifts along with no initiative or motivation until his parents enrol him in an apprenticeship programme and he is sent to Kamusari, a tiny mountain village in the back of beyond, to learn forestry.

Charming tale of city boy maturing and learning skills in the countryside.. Although I don't find forestry as interesting as lexicography, I learnt a lot from this possibly romanticised view of the Japanese forestry and timber industry. I will certainly keep an eye open for the sequel, but having watched the trailer on YouTube, I will probably give the film a miss.

12connie53
Oct 1, 2022, 4:16am

Hi Robert, Happy new thread!

>1 Robertgreaves: There are some very good books there. Happy Reading too.

13Robertgreaves
Oct 1, 2022, 4:26am

Thanks for dropping by, Connie

14Jackie_K
Oct 1, 2022, 3:36pm

Happy new thread, Robert! I always like seeing pictures of people's bookshelves.

15Robertgreaves
Oct 1, 2022, 7:07pm

Thanks for dropping by, Jackie

16Robertgreaves
Oct 2, 2022, 7:30pm

Also reading Before Your Memory Fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot. This is my eighty-eighth ROOT for 2022. The treebook TBR shelf now has 28 books as I added two books I want to re-read and bought one over the weekend. It fits the AuthorCAT.

17Robertgreaves
Edited: Oct 5, 2022, 3:42am

Starting my No. 146, Traces by Patricia Wiltshire. This ebook is my eighty-ninth ROOT for 2022. It fits the CATWoman. (The same book seems to have an alternative (American?) title The Nature of Life and Death: Every Body Leaves a Trace, so although I am reading the UK edition with the simpler title, I am also going to count it for the AlphaKIT.)

My review of Before Your Memory Fades:

There is another coffee shop for aspiring time travellers, this one in Hakodate rather than Tokyo, but the rules are the same. The book follows the same format of four interlinked stories but it is starting to feel a little forced and lacking the freshness and interest the first two books had.

My review of Rockets Versus Gravity:

To lose one wedding ring may be unfortunate, but to lose four? The rings pass through Toronto showing us how strangers are unknowingly or knowingly tied together.

A little too clever for its own good.

18Robertgreaves
Oct 7, 2022, 6:46am

Starting my No. 90, Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather. This ebook is my ninetieth ROOT for 2022. It fits the AlphaKIT.

My review of Traces:

Patricia Wiltshire is a pioneering forensic ecologist specialising in palynology - the study of pollen and spores. She compares the pollen and spores found in a suspect's clothing or vehicle with those at the crime scene (and apparently they can vary enormously even in a matter of a few yards) to find out whether the suspect was at the scene or not. If, for example, X says a couple had consensual sex here while Y says it was rape there, Patricia Wiltshire can assess whose story at least gets the location right.

As she rightly assumes that her readers (at least me) are almost totally ignorant of palynology there is a certain amount of dry technical detail to be explained, but the cases she uses as illustrations and the story of her life are interesting enough to keep the pages turning.

19connie53
Oct 7, 2022, 8:26am

Congrats on reaching your goal, Robert!

20Robertgreaves
Oct 7, 2022, 8:12pm

Thank you, Connie.

21Robertgreaves
Oct 8, 2022, 1:58am

Starting the second and latest in the series, as my No. 91, Sisters of the Forsaken Stars. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of Sisters of the Vast Black:

Nuns in space, travelling in a genetically modified sea slug. What's not to like?

22Jackie_K
Oct 8, 2022, 5:14pm

>21 Robertgreaves: I think this is my favourite review of the year.

23Robertgreaves
Oct 9, 2022, 10:33am

Starting my No. 149 (note, used ROOTs count as Nos for the previous few books) The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley. This ebook is not a ROOT. It fits the CATWoman.

My review of Sisters of the Forsaken Stars:

A worthy successor to the first in the series up to the point where in one scene the away team are trapped in the University of St. Ofra by the forces of the Central Governance and in the next they have somehow returned to their ship - but how?.

24MissWatson
Oct 9, 2022, 11:06am

Congrats on reaching your goal, Robert!

25Robertgreaves
Oct 9, 2022, 11:36am

Thank you Birgit

26Caramellunacy
Oct 10, 2022, 4:15am

>23 Robertgreaves: I really enjoyed The Art of the English Murder although I felt I should have read more of the books/authors she talks about to have gotten the most out of it. It did very much make me want to read Wilkie Collins and re-read all of my Lord Peter Wimseys...

27Robertgreaves
Oct 11, 2022, 10:06am

Starting my No. 150, The Five by Hallie Rubenhold. This ebook is not a ROOT but I am reading it for CATWoman.

My review of The Art of the English Murder:

Lucy Worsley looks at murder as entertainment through true crime and fiction from Thomas De Quincey's 1827 essay on the public reaction to the Ratcliffe Highway Murders in 1811 to the shift from the puzzles of Golden Age fiction to the more noir-ish post WWII scene.

Fascinating, though I wish she'd carried on up to the present and there were some parts where it was a little too obvious this was the book of the TV series rather than something that stood on its own merits. So, I may well watch the series, which appears to be available on YouTube.


>26 Caramellunacy: Definitely got some things to add to my TBR list.

28Robertgreaves
Oct 13, 2022, 10:53am

Starting my No. 151, A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie. This ebook is my ninety-first ROOT for 2022. I am reading it now for the CATWoman.

My review of The Five:

The five in question are the five "canonical" victims of Jack the Ripper. The author looks at what is known or can be reconstructed (there is an awful lot of "would have" and "must have" involved) of their lives up until the night each of them met her end and how they came to be there, especially as none of them were native to Whitechapel. Nor, despite assumptions then and now, were they all prostitutes. Except for the last victim, Mary Jane Kelly, they were vulnerable because they were homeless.

A fascinating look at what the lives of the poor, particularly poor women, were like in Victorian Britain, what they could aspire to and what failure meant for them.

29Robertgreaves
Oct 14, 2022, 11:27pm

Starting my No. 152, Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie. This is my ninety-second ROOT for 2022 and the treebook TBR shelf now stands at 26. It fits CATWoman and possibly MysteryKIT.

My review of A Murder is Announced:

What appeared to be a practical joke takes a grim turn when the prankster kills himself by accident or on purpose. Was it actually an attempt to murder Letitia Blacklock?

I noticed a major clue but dismissed it bloody ebooks full of typos - NOT.

30Robertgreaves
Oct 15, 2022, 11:22pm

Starting my No. 153, The Hollow, another Agatha Christie, a Poirot this time. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of Sparkling Cyanide:

A year to the day after his wife died of cyanide poisoning at a restaurant, George Barton, who now believes it was not suicide, recreates the same meal with the same guests in an attempt to flush out the murderer. What could go wrong?

I did of course make the elementary mistake of thinking it was the obvious suspect.

31Robertgreaves
Oct 16, 2022, 7:34pm

Starting my No. 154, The Wolves of Savernake by Edward Marston. This ebook is my ninety-third ROOT for 2022.

My review of The Hollow:

Poirot arrives at his neighbours' for lunch only to find Gerda Christow standing over her husband's body with a gun. It looks too staged to be real. And yet John Christow is dead.

I found most of the characters in this one rather tiresome and the murder delayed far too long.

32Robertgreaves
Oct 17, 2022, 7:59pm

Starting the next in the series, The Ravens of Blackwater, as my No. 155. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of The Wolves of Savernake:

Four commissioners are investigating discrepancies and errors in the returns for the Domesday Book. When the miller who alleged fraud by the local abbey is found conveniently dead in the forest, allegedly killed by a wolf, the two lay commissioners investigate his death.

Promising start to a series with some good period details.

33Robertgreaves
Oct 19, 2022, 7:47pm

Two books started last night. My No. 156 was the next in the series, The Dragons of Archenfield. This ebook is not a ROOT. My No. 157 is Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye. This ebook is my ninety-fourth ROOT for 2022. It fits the RandomCAT.

My review of The Ravens of Blackwater:

Two nuns are attacked on their way back to their priory in Maldon. Fortunately the commissioners arrive on the scene in time for Ralph and Gervase to fight off the attackers. But how is the attack related to the irregularities detected by the first Domesday Book commission and the murder of a local magnate's son?

For the side mystery, my guess was that Humphrey was a pawnbroker but the author's explanation was more fun.

34Robertgreaves
Oct 20, 2022, 8:11pm

My review of Date Me, Bryson Keller:

Bryson accepts a dare to date the first person who asks him each week. This week Kai is the first, and the dare said "person" rather than "girl" so Bryson agrees to accept Kai as his secret boyfriend.

The basic premise is absurd but the author handles it well, making for an engaging fantasy that kept me turning the pages and wishing there had been such books around when I was that age. About 2/3 of the way through the whole fantasy comes crashing to the ground as reality intrudes when Kai's parents find out what is happening and Kai is outed in the school magazine. The author's touch is less sure in this part of the book and the occasional preachy element in the first part of the book takes over to become the dominant theme of the last 1/3 much to its detriment.

35Robertgreaves
Oct 22, 2022, 9:36pm

Starting my No. 158, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, which I last read in 2019. I'm reading it again now for my book club. It is my ninety-fifth ROOT for 2022.

My review of The Dragons of Archenfield:

The commissioners come to Hereford to look into Domesday Book irregularities along the Welsh border as tensions from cross-border raiding mount.

At first I thought this book was a bit of rehash of the earlier books as far as the obvious bad guy went (he didn't have a moustache to twirl but I'm sure he would have if he'd thought of it) but then it started going off it some interestingly different directions. And I'm glad to see Brother Simon is coming out of his shell a bit - he's got a wicked sense of humour.

36MissWatson
Oct 23, 2022, 7:30am

This sounds like a very entertaining series, Robert. Taking a note...

37Robertgreaves
Oct 25, 2022, 1:06am

Starting my No. 159, The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. This ebook is my ninety-sixth ROOT for 2022. It fits the October CATWoman, and although a bit early also the November MysteryKIT.

38Robertgreaves
Oct 26, 2022, 7:59pm

Starting the next in the series as my No. 160, The Postscript Murders. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of The Stranger Diaries:

Clare's friend and colleague Ella has been murdered. The story of the investigation is told through overlapping narratives from Clare, her daughter Georgie, and the police detective, Harbinder Kaur. Clare is writing a book about R. M. Holland, a fictional 19th century writer of horror stories, whose home is now the school where she teaches.

The contemporary story was gripping but the story by R. M. Holland was by far the best thing in the book to the point where after reading the first extract I turned to the back of the book to read the whole thing before starting the present-day narratives.


39Robertgreaves
Oct 28, 2022, 10:05am

Starting my No. 161, The Jeeves Omnibus Volume 3 by P. G. Wodehouse. This ebook is my ninety-seventh ROOT for 2022. I'm reading it as an ebook, but it does also exist as a treebook omnibus, so by my rules it counts as a single ROOT.

My review of The Postscript Murders:

An old lady in sheltered housing dies of what appear to be natural causes but her carer is convinced there was a more nefarious cause. She reports her suspicions to DS Harbinder Kaur, but continues investigating herself with a cafe owner and another sheltered housing resident who both knew the deceased, who described herself as a murder consultant.

Gripping and very intriguing.There was a point when a comparatively prosaic solution seemed to be on the cards but it fortunately turned out to be a red herring. Excellent in itself with a bonus cameo appearance by Clare from the previous book.

40Robertgreaves
Oct 30, 2022, 8:02am

My review of Ring for Jeeves, the first novel in the The Jeeves Omnibus Vol. 3:

Bertie Wooster has lent out Jeeves to Lord Rowcester, an impoverished nobleman working in disguise as a bookie.

Jeeves without Bertie Wooster doesn't really work. It doesn't help that the setting is closely tied to the early 1950s rather than a never-never land vaguely resembling the interwar period. Only for real aficionados.

41Robertgreaves
Oct 30, 2022, 9:13pm

I've think the nearest I've got to something seasonally appropriate is The Stranger Times by C. K. McDonnell, so I'm making that my No. 162 and my ninety-eighth ROOT for 2022.

42Jackie_K
Oct 31, 2022, 1:39pm

>41 Robertgreaves: I hope you enjoy The Stranger Times - I really liked it.

43Robertgreaves
Oct 31, 2022, 7:33pm

>42 Jackie_K: I'm about a third of the way through and enjoying it so far

My possible November reading:

44Robertgreaves
Nov 1, 2022, 7:57pm

Starting the next in the series, This Charming Man, as my No. 163. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of The Stranger Times:

Hannah Drinkwater, sorry, Willis, is looking for a job while divorcing her husband. The only job she can find is with a small newspaper which specialises in reporting on the weird and wonderful things some people believe have happened. In the background some very weird stuff is going on in Manchester.

Very funny story about the paper's staff and the stories they report with a good urban fantasy story about a magician tracking down descendents of magical races mixed in with the humour.

45Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 4, 2022, 9:15pm

My review of This Charming Man:

The Founders insist vampires don't exist. The Folk insist vampires don't exist. So why are men in Manchester waking up with fangs and a thirst for human blood?

Interesting expansion of the world seen in the first book. Although I did sometimes have problems working out whether some of the new characters were Founders or Folk, it was still a great read, and I'm looking forward to book 3 next year.


My review of The Mating Season:

Bertie has to impersonate Gussie Fink-Nottle to prevent Madeline Bassett from finding out Gussie has been arrested and sent to prison. What could go wrong?

I've read this several times but I can't find any record of it on LT so it must have been before I joined in 2006. It's still the one that sticks in my mind as the quintessential Jeeves and Wooster tale, though perhaps it's getting a bit too familiar as I didn't find it quite so funny this time round.

46Robertgreaves
Nov 5, 2022, 9:22am

Starting my No. 164, Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell. This ebook is my ninety-ninth ROOT for 2022.

My review of Very Good, Jeeves:

A collection of short stories featuring Jeeves and Wooster. Hit the spot.

47Robertgreaves
Nov 6, 2022, 6:35pm

Starting my No. 165, The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. This is my one hundredth ROOT for 2022. The treebook TBR shelves now have 24 books.

My review of Confessions of a Bookseller:

Interesting look at life as a bookshop owner but not as humorous as the first book.

48Robertgreaves
Nov 8, 2022, 6:48pm

Currently reading my No. 166, Ramen Assassin by Rhys Ford. This ebook is my one hundred and first ROOT for 2022.

My review of The Dictionary of Lost Words:

Esme's single father is one of Dr. James Murray's assistants in the compilation of the OED, so she basically grows up in the Scriptorium where the dictionary is being compiled but she comes to realise the dictionary's focus on the written word excludes the words used by those who are not members of the literary elite.

A little slow at first but draws the reader in and does a good job in the balancing act of making Esme a believable 19th century woman with a more 21st century attitude to lexicography.

49Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 9, 2022, 8:56am

Starting my No. 167, Russian Literature: A Very Short Introduction by Catriona Kelly. This is my one hundred and second ROOT for 2022 and brings the books on the treebook TBR shelves to 23.

My review of Ramen Assassin:

When former child star Trey Bishop is out jogging he runs into two guys moving a body. In the ensuing gun fight he is protected by Kuro Jenkins, the owner of the local ramen shop and a former CIA(?) field operative. Over the next few days attempts are made on both Trey's and Kuro's lives, so Kuro needs to find out why.

It's a traditional action hero rescuing damsel in distress story, not really changed by the damsel also having a willy. Not my cup of tea. I came quite close to DNF-ing it several times but persevered in the hope that Trey was going to bring something to the story. It's said to be the first in a series, but I don't see how unless there is a new guy for Kuro in every book.

50Robertgreaves
Nov 10, 2022, 7:33pm

Currently reading my No.168, The Great Passage by Shion Miura. As a a re-read, this ebook is my one hundred and third ROOT for 2022. I am reading it now because it fits the AlphaKIT and I was reminded of it by The Dictionary of Lost Words as another novel about lexicographers.

My review of Russian Literature: A Very Short Introduction:

Taking as her starting-point Pushkin's poem, "The Monument", the author looks at themes of Russian attitudes to literature amongst lay people and writers and how literature deals with themes of women, ethnic minorities, and religion.

She says in the introduction that she has deliberately eschewed a survey approach as plenty of surveys of Russian literature already exist. But she seems to forget that this is an INTRODUCTION. The audience must therefore be assumed to know nothing about Russian literature apart from a few big names and so a survey is what is needed.

51Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 15, 2022, 5:38am

Starting my No. 169 The Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume One by Ashley Gardner. This omnibus only exists as an ebook so each novel counts as 1 ROOT. I'm reading it for AlphaKIT.

My review of The Great Passage (unchanged since last time I read it):

Lexicographers working for a Japanese publishing house spend 15 years on bringing out a new dictionary.

A lovely story wonderfully translated so that the non Japanese speaking reader can, to some extent, grasp the nuances the lexicographers discuss. I was surprised how little impact computers seem to have made on the methodology used in compiling the dictionary. The characters use email, but their methods involve index cards, hand correcting paper proofs, a lot of design decisions made intuitively in people's heads rather than looking at a screen, and the characters read and watch TV to look for new usages and coinages rather than use corpora.

In the story of the characters' interactions and feelings the translator used a style that, at least to somebody with no experience of Japan, did not seem to be ignoring differences in story-telling and culture between Japanese society and most English-speaking cultures but still read very fluently. And who would have thought it possible to bring tears to the eye in a story of lexicographical triumphs and failures?

All the stars.

52Robertgreaves
Nov 12, 2022, 5:23am

Next in this omnibus is my No. 170, A Regimental Murder, which is my one hundred and fifth ROOT for 2022.

My review of The Hanover Square Affair:

Captain Lacey is caught up in a mob stoning a house an abducted young woman was believed to have been taken to. The next day he calls on the owner of the house in an attempt to find out what happened to the woman. A few days later when he calls again the owner of the house is found dead, stabbed through the heart and castrated. Did the butler do it?

Not as gory as it sounds but plenty of period detail that makes me glad I live now rather than 200 years ago. A good start to the series.


53Robertgreaves
Nov 13, 2022, 2:44am

My No. 171 was Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell. Very short mildly humorous caricatures.

54Robertgreaves
Nov 13, 2022, 7:14pm

Third in the omnibus is my No. 172, The Glass House, which is my one hundred and sixth ROOT for 2022.

My review of A Regimental Murder:

One night Captain Lacey comes across a woman he thinks is about to throw herself into the Thames. Her husband had died shortly before he was due to be charged with the murder of a fellow officer during the Peninsula War, a charge he did not deny. The widow believes he was murdered by a group of three dissolute officers to hide their own involvement. Lacey promises to investigate.

Twisty but I kept having the feeling I knew the story from elsewhere though I can't think from where.

55Robertgreaves
Nov 15, 2022, 5:37am

Starting my No. 173, Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume Two. This ebook is another omnibus where each book counts as a separate ROOT. The first book in the omnibus is The Sudbury School Murders, which is my one hundred and seventh ROOT for 2022. I was originally planning just to read the first omnibus for now, but the novellas included in that volume actually fit into the timeline of this volume.

My review of The Glass House:

Called to identify a woman fished out of the Thames who looks like his upstairs neighbour, Captain Lacey investigates to find out who she actually is and how she ended up in the river - the only clue a valuable ring.

A good twisty tale. The historical setting is well done, and so far at least, the author strikes a good balance between the story arc of Lacey's personal life and relations with the other characters and the mystery.

56Robertgreaves
Nov 16, 2022, 5:26am

Starting my No. 174, the novellas and short stories included in the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume One and the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume Two. They count as my one hundred and eighth ROOT for 2022.

My review of The Sudbury School Murders:

While Captain Lacey is working undercover looking into a series of pranks at a school in Berkshire, the body of the head groom at the school is found floating in a nearby canal. One of the stable boys is arrested but Lacey happens to know the head groom had connections to the London underworld, so he decides to dig deeper.

This was at the same time the best of the series so far and the worst. The best with regard to an exciting story that left me quite anxious for one character and some interesting developments in the relationships between the characters. Unfortunately it was also one where the author had not been paying so much attention to making the characters' vocabulary period-appropriate.

57Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 16, 2022, 9:28am

Starting my No. 175, the second novel in Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume Two, which counts as my one hundred and ninth ROOT for 2022.

58Robertgreaves
Nov 17, 2022, 6:17pm

Starting my No. 178, the third novel in Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume Two, A Covent Garden Mystery. This is my one hundred and tenth ROOT for 2022.

My review of A Body in Berkeley Square:

When a body is found at a society ball, Lacey's former colonel confesses to the murder and says it was because of the victim's offensive behaviour to the colonel's mistress. Lacey is not convinced and decides to uncover the truth.

Some interesting twists and turns but again some linguistic slips.

59Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 18, 2022, 8:26pm

Starting my No. 179, Timescape by Gregory Benford. This ebook is not a ROOT. It fits the AlphaKIT.

My review of A Covent Garden Mystery:

Denis arranges for Lacey's wife and daughter to come to London together with the wife's new partner. Family drama ensues until Gabriella goes missing at a time when Lacey is investigating why game girls are going missing. Now the investigation gets personal.

Interesting to get more of Lacey's back story and the relationships between the characters are advanced but the mystery itself seems just an excuse to show that everybody loves Lacey.

60Robertgreaves
Nov 21, 2022, 2:00am

Starting my No. 180, Impossibilia by Douglas Smith. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of Timescape:

As ecological catastrophe spreads in 1998, a team of scientists at Cambridge attempt to send a warning back to 1962 using tachyons.

The story alternates between the transmitters and the receivers, with the reader feeling a mounting sense of despair as to whether the warning will be deciphered or acted upon. Excellently done.

61Jackie_K
Nov 21, 2022, 1:23pm

Hi Robert - I hope you haven't been too badly affected by the earthquake today.

62Robertgreaves
Nov 21, 2022, 5:42pm

Thanks for your concern, Jackie. It's a terrible thing. I was in the lift on the way back to the office after lunch when it struck. We could hear this terrible screeching as the lift ground against the walls of the shaft. Some people from the office evacuated but having got up there I wasn't going to go back down again.

63Robertgreaves
Nov 21, 2022, 6:20pm

Starting my No. 181, Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens. This ebook is not a ROOT but it does fit the AlphaKIT.

My review of Impossibilia:

A collection of 3 interesting short stories, one of which is being followed up with a series of novels, which I will look out for.

64MissWatson
Nov 22, 2022, 5:00am

>62 Robertgreaves: Oh my, that sounds scary. I hope you're safe!

65Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 22, 2022, 5:49am

>64 MissWatson: Jakarta was shaken a bit but no bad effects here. A lot of deaths and injuries close to the epicentre, though.

66mnleona
Nov 22, 2022, 8:44am

Sending prayers for the people.

67Jackie_K
Nov 22, 2022, 5:00pm

>62 Robertgreaves: Wow, that sounds frightening, but I'm glad you're OK. What a terrible thing for those nearer the epicentre.

68Robertgreaves
Nov 22, 2022, 8:44pm

Starting my No. 182, Utopia by Sir Thomas More. This is my one hundred and eleventh ROOT for 2022. I read it 15 years ago. I can't remember why I put it on my TBR shelf to re-read but it fits the AlphaKIT.

My review of Murder Most Unladylike:

A mashup of Golden Age mysteries and Edith Blyton's school stories. Hazel (the narrator) finds the body of a teacher in the gym but when she returns with help the body has vanished and nobody believes her, except her best friend Daisy and they decide to investigate.

I was expecting this to be very funny but it wasn't particularly. It wasn't so bad that I wanted to DNF it but for most of the first 2/3 I just felt impatient to get it over and done with. It only really got interesting the last 1/3 but no so interesting that I will be continuing with the series. Maybe the kid detective genre is just not for me.

69Robertgreaves
Nov 24, 2022, 9:22am

Starting my No. 183, Bloody Scotland edited by James Crawford. This ebook is my one hundred and twelfth ROOT for 2022.

My review of Utopia unchanged from last time I read it:

Interesting first half. More gives some opinions on social problems of his day (is executing thieves a good idea, what makes people steal, does govt and social policy make them thieves?) and the difficulty of reform from within a corrupt and corrupting system.

In Book Two, we get more about the social set up of the Utopians. I suppose their lifestyle with communal meals was based on More's experience with monasticism. I read he was thinking of joining a monastery at one point in his life -- and did some time as a lay brother without taking any vows.

Can humans be taught not to desire status and riches? More seems to think they can.

He thinks complete religious toleration is impossible, and draws the line at those who attempt to force their views on others. A pity he didn't put it into practice himself.

An interesting read, though unclear how seriously he meant it.

70Robertgreaves
Nov 25, 2022, 1:26am

As I left my book at home, also reading my No. 184, Return to Thrush Green by Miss Read. This ebook is not a ROOT.

71Robertgreaves
Nov 26, 2022, 2:36am

Starting my No. 185, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. This is my one hundred and thirteenth ROOT for 2022. I'm reading it now for my book club.

My review of Return to Thrush Green:

Delightful nostalgia trip to the 1970s

72Robertgreaves
Nov 27, 2022, 4:24am

Starting my No. 186, Vespasian 1 - 3 by Robert Fabbri. I will be counting each novel in this ebook omnibus separately, so the first one Tribune of Rome is my one hundred and fourteenth ROOT for 2022.

73Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 27, 2022, 7:06am

Also reading my No. 187, Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of Bloody Scotland:

An anthology of murder stories set in real buildings in Scotland. Most of the writers are new to me even though I recognise some of their names. I will definitely be reading more of their work.

74Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 30, 2022, 4:09am

Starting the next in the series, The Glass Room, as my No. 188. This ebook is not a ROOT but does fit the AlphaKIT.

My review of Silent Voices:

Vera finds a body in the steam room of the gym where she goes swimming. The deceased was a social worker. Was her death related to the recent murder of a child by his mother, whose fitness as a parent had been questioned but who had retained custody?

I felt I should have worked out who the murderer was even without the information revealed near the end. And there were parts where I wanted the pace to pick up a bit, but still enjoyable.


(actually No. 186 - two books were counted twice)

75Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 30, 2022, 4:08am

My review of The Glass Room:

At a writers' retreat, one of Vera's neighbours is discovered wandering the corridors with a knife in her hand moments after a dead stabbing victim is found.

Enjoyable mystery.


76Robertgreaves
Edited: Nov 30, 2022, 8:16am

Possible reading for December 2022

77Jackie_K
Nov 30, 2022, 1:00pm

I'd love to see what you think of The Year of Reading Dangerously. The author is one of the co-presenters of the Backlisted podcast which I really like.

78Robertgreaves
Nov 30, 2022, 5:52pm

>77 Jackie_K: I have read it before but I've lost my book bullet notes from it

79Robertgreaves
Dec 1, 2022, 9:59pm

My No. 188 is Vespasian: Rome's Executioner by Robert Fabbri, the second in the ebook omnibus Vespasian 1 - 3, which was my one hundred and sixteenth ROOT for 2022. I also read the prequel novella, The Crossroads Brotherhood (my No. 187 and one hundred and fifteenth ROOT) yesterday afternoon.

My review of Vespasian: Tribune of Rome:

First in a series of novels telling the story of Vespasian's life.

I have read the author's novellas featuring Vespasian's sidekick before and so far I prefer them. Given the space to do so, he goes in for information dumps rather than world building. In just the first chapter, Vespasian entering a house gives the author the chance to tell us everything he knows about Roman country houses. When the family sets out for Rome, it's an excuse to tell us everything about domestic travel. And so on.

Also Vespasian is bit too precocious. He is 16 for most of this book, yet he is bossing Antonia (!) around when being smuggled out of her house.

It is an interesting take being rather grittier than most fiction set in Rome, so I will continue, but my patience is wearing a bit thin.

80Robertgreaves
Dec 1, 2022, 11:07pm

I left my book at home, so starting my No. 189, Missing, Presumed Dead by Christiane France. This ebook is not a ROOT.

81Robertgreaves
Dec 2, 2022, 2:32am

My No. 190 is The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson. This ebook is not a ROOT. It fits the ShakespeareCAT.

My review of Missing, Presumed Dead:

Hollywood agent Vance Stewartson asks his PI brother Greg to find one of the actresses he manages who went missing in Greg's beach resort town.

Not very interesting novella. Meh.

82Robertgreaves
Dec 4, 2022, 8:09am

My review of The Gap of Time:

Jeanette Winterson's re-telling of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale is at its best in Leo, Xeno, and MiMi's back story and the present day of Shep and Perdita, but the parts connecting them didn't quite work for me.

83Robertgreaves
Dec 4, 2022, 8:50pm

My review of The Testaments:

Interesting to get Aunt Lydia's back story and to have a look at Gilead from the wives' point of view but it just didn't have the wow factor that "The Handmaid's Tale" did.

84Robertgreaves
Edited: Dec 6, 2022, 12:25am

Starting my No. 191, Put On By Cunning by Ruth Rendell. This ebook is my one hundred and seventeenth ROOT for 2022.

My review of Vespasian: Rome's Executioner, the second novel in the omnibus Vespasian 1 - 3:

DNF. Having read some of Fabbri's short stories I was under the impression this was going to be a noirish mystery but it turned out to be action adventure - a genre I can only take in small doses. I might have got further if I'd read it a decent interval after the first one, but trying to read the first three in the series in an omnibus was a mistake. It doesn't help that they seem to be curiously unmemorable, so even a week later I'm struggling with references in the second book to events in the first book. I'll probably read some more of Fabbri's short stories but skip the novels.

85Robertgreaves
Dec 6, 2022, 9:28pm

Starting the next Wexford novel, The Speaker of Mandarin, as my No. 192. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of Put On By Cunning:

An elderly man takes his dog out for a walk round the garden before going to bed. The next day he is found dead, drowned in the pond. Accident or murder?

I did notice some clues and realise their significance but still didn't manage to get all the way there.

86Robertgreaves
Dec 7, 2022, 9:05am

My No. 193 is the next Wexford book, An Unkindness of Ravens. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of The Speaker of Mandarin:

On holiday in China, Wexford finds himself haunted by the figure of an elderly woman whose feet were bound as a child. Distracted by these hallucinations, he misses clues to the later murder of one of a party of travellers back in England.

The travelogue of Wexford's holiday in China was a bit overlong but once the main story got underway it was all competently done.

87Robertgreaves
Dec 8, 2022, 8:03am

Starting my No. 194 Golden State by Ben Winters. This is my one hundred and eighteenth ROOT for 2022. It fits the AlphaKIT.

My review of An Unkindness of Ravens:

Joy Williams, a neighbour, asks Wexford to look into the disappearance of her husband. At first he assumes the husband has run off with another woman, but evidence mounts to show that something more sinister has happened.

An intriguing plot with a solution which I don't think anybody writing now would come up with.

88Robertgreaves
Dec 11, 2022, 12:49am

My review of Golden State:

Speculator Lazlo Ratesic is assigned a new partner as he begins investigating the death of a fallen roofer.

I enjoyed this exploration through a police procedural of a society where lying is the ultimate crime. Both the world building and the mystery were well done, though I must admit to being a bit baffled at the end as to what the significance of the pumpkins might be.


My No. 195 (read on the plane) was Crime & Punctuation by Kaitlyn Dunnett. This ebook was my one hundred and nineteenth ROOT for 2022. My review:

Mikki Lincoln starts an editing business after moving back to the small town where she grew up. Her first client, the granddaughter of someone Mikki went to school with, is murdered. Who doesn't want Tiffany's book to see the light of day?

I DNF'd this book the first time I read it because of Covid but decided to give it another chance after reading some positive reviews. I did finish it this time but still couldn't summon up very much interest in the characters or who dunnit.

89Robertgreaves
Dec 11, 2022, 12:52am

Currently reading my No. 196, The Other Man by Farhad J. Dadyburjor. This ebook is my one hundred and twentieth ROOT for 2022.

90Robertgreaves
Dec 11, 2022, 4:56am

Starting my No. 197, Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow. This ebook is not a ROOT. I am reading it now for my reading group.

My review of The Other Man:

As India approaches the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Ved Mehra, the closeted gay son of a millionaire businessman, finds himself under increasing pressure to get married as he approaches 40. He gets engaged to Disha, an eligible heiress found by his mother, but then meets the love of his life.

It could be angsty and depressing but the author keeps it light and fun. The end does rather smack of hand-waving by the author rather than a genuine HEA, but that's only to say I would have just as happily read it if it had been half as long again.

91Robertgreaves
Dec 12, 2022, 12:51am

Also starting my No. 198, The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller. This ebook is my one hundred and twenty-first ROOT for 2022. It fits the AlphaKIT.

92Robertgreaves
Dec 13, 2022, 12:55am

Starting my No. 199, Evil Intent by Kate Charles. This ebook is not a ROOT.

93Robertgreaves
Dec 13, 2022, 10:45am

My review of Death of an Eye:

Sheri is asked by her friend Cleopatra to look into the theft of a new issue of bronze coinage and the murder of the Eye, Cleopatra's secret agent. Was the motive purely financial or was it part of an attempt to destabilise Cleopatra's rule in favour of Ptolemy, her brother-husband?

A good start setting up the series and introducing the characters.

94Robertgreaves
Dec 14, 2022, 11:47am

Starting the next in the series, Secret Sins as my No. 200. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of Evil Intent:

After a public row with Jonah Adimola, Frances Cherry throws a glass of wine in his face. The next morning Jonah is found dead, strangled with Frances's stole.

The political posturing by various church factions seems rather dated now, getting on for 20 years later, or perhaps I've just lost interest in arguments which are still ongoing. Be that as it may, Kate Charles creates characters the reader can take an interest in to the point of wondering what happened to them next without artificial cliffhangers. I will be reading the next book in the series in the hope of finding out.

95Robertgreaves
Dec 16, 2022, 3:26am

Next in the series is Deep Waters, which is my No. 201. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of Secret Sins:

A jogger doesn't come home and his body is found drowned in the canal. A little girl runs away after being bullied by her step-cousins.

Although this is billed as the Callie Anson series, the books are more ensemble pieces, with Callie's colleagues, her police detective love interest, and his colleagues all taking their turns in the spotlight. Although it was only written 15 years ago, its exploration of contemporary issues makes it feel a bit dated but I still enjoyed it.

96Robertgreaves
Dec 17, 2022, 9:54am

Next up in the series is False Tongues, which is my No. 202. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of Deep Waters:

Muffin, baby of celebrity couple Jodee and Chazz, died from appeared to be cot death but the autopsy shows she had been severely shaken before her death. But by whom?

Enjoyable main story but the sub-plots involved what seemed to me unlikely behaviour. I'm looking at you, Neville Stewart.


97Robertgreaves
Dec 19, 2022, 3:06am

Last in the series is Desolate Places, which is my No. 203. This ebook is not a ROOT.

My review of False Tongues:

In Neville Stewart's latest case, a young teenager is found dead in a churchyard, stabbed through the neck. In the meantime, Callie is attending a course in Cambridge, where gossip about a lecturer's relationship with a student is swirling about.

Sometimes thematically similar incidents where you think "This isn't going to end well" fizzle out and sometimes the foreseeable results do actually ensue. It's an interesting way of keeping the uncertainty and suspense going.

98Robertgreaves
Dec 20, 2022, 1:05pm

My review of Desolate Places:

Felicity Chapman is found dead in a very downmarket hotel, which is a bit of surprise for a well-off solicitor's wife. Neville Stewart and his colleagues investigate.

In this last of the series, the various story arcs are wound up satisfactorily. But Sid Cowley's Mockney accent has been coming through more strongly as the series progresses to the point where it now gets a bit tiresome.

99connie53
Dec 22, 2022, 5:47am

Hi Robert! 70 something new posts! I don't think I'm going to read them all. But a lot of books read! Great.

I want to wish you and yours all the best for 2023 and Happy Holidays! I hope to see you in 2023.

100Robertgreaves
Dec 22, 2022, 7:02am

>99 connie53: Thank you, Connie. All the best to you and yours. See you next year

101Robertgreaves
Dec 23, 2022, 2:03am

Starting my No. 204, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. This ebook is my one hundred and twenty-second ROOT.

My review of The Year of Reading Dangerously (basically unchanged from when I read it 7 years ago):

After reading "The Master and Margarita", Andy Miller decides to atone for the number of times he's said he's read books which in fact he hasn't by reading the books the List of Betterment he compiles.

Variable. I suspect there are stylistic jokes which are going over my head for the books I don't know. The author's pop music world is not mine so there are names which mean nothing to me. But where we share points of reference he is a genial companion talking about his life and reading.

102Robertgreaves
Dec 25, 2022, 3:01pm

Starting my No. 205, Impostor by LJ Ross. This book is not a ROOT. My sister had it out of the library and recommended I read it before she returns it.

103Robertgreaves
Edited: Dec 27, 2022, 3:26am

My review of Impostor:

Psychiatrist and profiler Dr Alexander Gregory is called to help investigate a murder in a small Irish village.

Rather plodding, pedestrian, prose and 2/3 of the way through I'd already worked out who the murderer was. I'd also worked out the final big reveal early on. I might give her other series a go at some point, but I'm in no hurry to seek it out.

104Robertgreaves
Dec 30, 2022, 2:52am

Starting my No. 206, Murder at Pirate's Cove by Josh Lanyon. This ebook is my one hundred and twenty-third ROOT for 2022.

105Robertgreaves
Dec 31, 2022, 3:47am

Starting my No. 207, Secret At Skull House, the next in the series. This ebook is my one hundred and twenty-fourth ROOT for 2022.

My review of Murder at Pirate's Cove:

Ellery Page inherits a struggling bookshop and decrepit house from his great-great-great aunt in a seaside town in Rhode Island. He needs to clear his name when a business rival who wanted to buy him out is found dead in the bookshop.

Rather bland. The first two books in the series were freebies so I will read the second, but I wouldn't go so far as to pay out good money to continue.

106Robertgreaves
Dec 31, 2022, 10:41am

End of year report:

Books read: 207 of which 124 were ROOTs.
Male/Female authors: 102/105
Books with LGBT authors or subject matter: 48
Books from the inner Anglosphere/elsewhere: 180/27
Fiction/Non Fiction: 176/31
Ebooks/Treebooks: 165/42

107Robertgreaves
Jan 1, 4:44am

2023 starts here