My weekend reading plans

I’ve been communing a lot with my TBR shelves recently and as I whittle away the long-languishing books the communing is taking longer and longer, but this morning the shelves spoke quickly and loudly: Miss Benson’s Beetle and it felt right and good.

Miss Benson's BeetleMiss Benson's Beetle
by Rachel Joyce
isbn: 0857521993
Publication Date: June 11, 2020
Pages: 389
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday

Margery Benson's life ended the day her father walked out of his study and never came back. Forty years later, abandoning a dull job, she advertises for an assistant. The successful candidate is to accompany Margery on an expedition to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist. Enid Pretty is not who she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all Margery's expectations, eventually finding new life at the top of a red mountain.

This is a story that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story and it is also a tender exploration of a friendship between two unforgettable women that defies all boundaries.


I also continue to whittle away at Histories of the Unexpected and I’m about half-way through.  Maybe, maybe, maybe I can get through the rest of it this weekend.  If I push.  It’s killing my average days to read curve.

Histories of the UnexpectedHistories of the Unexpected
by James Daybell, Sam Willis
isbn: 9781786494122
Publication Date: October 1, 2018
Pages: 467
Genre: History, Non-fiction
Publisher: Atlantic Books

In this fascinating and original new book, Sam Willis and James Daybell lead us on a journey of historical discovery that tackles some of the greatest historical themes - from the Tudors to the Second World War, from the Roman Empire to the Victorians - but via entirely unexpected subjects.

You will find out here how the history of the beard is connected to the Crimean War; how the history of paperclips is all about the Stasi; how the history of bubbles is all about the French Revolution. And who knew that Heinrich Himmler, Tutankhamun and the history of needlework are linked to napalm and Victorian orphans?

Taking the reader on an enthralling and extraordinary journey through thirty different topics that are ingeniously linked together, Histories of the Unexpected not only presents a new way of thinking about the past, but also reveals the everyday world around us as never before.


I’ll leave you with a little Pikacu action, as she quietly reminds me of reading that needs to be done:

My … 10 days in reading? Part 1

I don’t even know how long it’s been.  While my leg continues to improve – and noticeably – the stress levels have gone up because of office politics.

Everybody – and there are a stupid number of people involved in my health at the moment – has been just fine about everything except one person, and she oversees safety/workplace injuries for my company.  She’s gotten a bug up her ass, trying to insist that I be taxied into the corporate office 4 days a week, so I can sit and do exactly the same thing I’m doing from home.   The list of reasons this is wholly impractical is long, and everybody agrees, but she won’t let it go, trying to do end-runs around everybody to get it approved, because she thinks it will be better for me both mentally and physically. 🙄  The surgeon officially shot it down yesterday, in writing, so hopefully, that’s the end of that.

The stress, along with the mind numbing effects of Cisco networking training (what I’m doing from home), have driven me into a massive binge of re-reading.  14 books, read back to back the way a chain-smoker lights his next one with his last, with a mid-binge whiplash from historical mystery into alternate reality fantasy.

I think I’m done now – MT really wants me to be done, because he has 14 books he has to re-shelve, all requiring the ladder, and he’d be happier not to have to fetch any others.  For the record:  I married the perfect man. (For me)  Last night, there was an audible sigh of relieve when I pulled The Book of Forgotten Authors off my TBR shelf.

The second half of my binge was re-reading – again – The Others series by Anne Bishop.  These never, ever, get old for me, and while they are easily the most violent, and at times, goriest books I own, they relax me in a way no other books have.  At my core there’s a very angry misanthrope, and she is soothed by the way justice is always served, usually with a very satisfactory and bloody finality.

I’ve added all the books in the series to the book database, but I won’t do more than add the covers here, as my feelings about each book remain the same as my original reviews.

My week in books

As my leg continues to heal, and I take on more rehab tasks, I’ve had more pain.  In fact, this last week was the first time I’ve had pain significant enough to wish I still had the industrial-level pain pills.  What this has meant to my reading?  Re-reads.  Lots of re-reads.

I spent the week un-plugged and binging on an older cozy mystery series written by Nancy Martin – the Blackbird Sisters series.  They’ve held up beautifully over the years, and are an example of the higher quality cozy mysteries that used to be written before cozies became an assembly-line commodity, written to formula and thrown at the public en masse, hoping a fraction of them will stick.

Most of the series I read before I started documenting my thoughts, so I’ll be writing reviews for those in the next few hours.  Apologies in advance if I spam your feed.

Weekend Reading / TBR project

As a couple of you might know, I’ve decided to try to do the whole spreadsheet tracking thing this year.   Part of the setup is entering your total TBR books, a number I lost control of a couple of years ago during the Great BookLikes Crises.  Having been on crutches the last three months, I haven’t been able to walk around and count them, either, and it seemed way too cheeky to ask MT to do it for me, not to mention the TBR range spans across at least three rooms.

I’m still on crutches, but with more energy, and I’m bored to tears with seeing the books on my bedside TBR bookcase, so this weekend I decided to tackle the counting in stages and at the same time incorporate some swapping of the stock, so to speak, in the hope that some “new” titles next to the bed will re-invigorate my reading.  I started yesterday with the medium sized bookshelf located in my lounge room.  This room is down a small set of floating stairs from the rest of the house so I only get to spend time in it when MT is here.  I’m good on the crutches, but it seems like a Very Bad Idea to tackle floating (highly varnished) stairs when I’m alone in the house.

I pulled the books off and re-arranged them, setting aside the ones that made me go “ooh” or “hmm”.  The set-aside pile came to 26 books:

A couple of these are ‘read-in-a-day’ reference type books I can easily process off the pile, and in fact, I’ll be posting a review of the first one after I finish this post.  Of the rest, 2 immediately caught my attention, and I started reading them yesterday:

VenomVenom
by Eivind Undheim, Ronald Jenner
isbn: 9781486308378
Publication Date: October 1, 2017
Pages: 208
Genre: Natural Science, Science
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

A fully illustrated guide to venom, its evolution in different animal groups, its effects and its treatments.
When we enter the world of venom, we enter the realm of one of the most diverse, versatile, sophisticated and deadly biological adaptations ever to have evolved on Earth.

Since it first appeared in ancient jellyfish and sea anemones, venom has proved so effective that it has since evolved independently in dozens of different animal groups. The authors reveal the many unique methods by which venomous animals deliver their cocktail of toxins and how these disrupt the physiology of the victims.

Jenner and Undheim also consider how humans have learnt to neutralise venom’s devastating effects, as well as exploit the power of venom in innovative ways to create new drugs to treat a variety of serious conditions. Fully illustrated throughout, this illuminating guide will appeal to all those with an interest in the wondrous world of venom.


One Day: The Extraordinary Story Of An Ordinary 24 Hours In AmericaOne Day: The Extraordinary Story Of An Ordinary 24 Hours In America
by Gene Weingarten
isbn: 9780399166662
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Pages: 375
Genre: History
Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Two-time Pulitzer Prize–winner Gene Weingarten explores the events of a random day in U.S. history, offering a diorama of American life that illuminates all that has changed—and all that hasn’t—in the past three decades.

On New Year’s Day 2013, two-time Pulitzer Prize–winner Gene Weingarten asked three strangers to, literally, pluck a day, month, and year from a hat. That day—chosen completely at random—turned out to be Sunday, December 28, 1986, by any conventional measure a most ordinary day. Weingarten spent the next six years proving that there is no such thing.

That Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s turned out to be filled with comedy, tragedy, implausible irony, cosmic comeuppances, kindness, cruelty, heroism, cowardice, genius, idiocy, prejudice, selflessness, coincidence, and startling moments of human connection, along with evocative foreshadowing of momentous events yet to come. Lives were lost. Lives were saved. Lives were altered in overwhelming ways. Many of these events never made it into the news; they were private dramas in the lives of private people. They were utterly compelling.

One Day asks and answers the question of whether there is even such a thing as “ordinary” when we are talking about how we all lurch and stumble our way through the daily, daunting challenge of being human.


One Day I’ve only read as far as the introduction but was completely absorbed by what I was reading – I’m expecting to enjoy it, especially as I like these snap-shot looks at history; Venom is going to be a bit of science-candy, I think; the introduction feels like it’s aimed at the more urban reader with less practical experience with the venomous side of life, but it’s fully illustrated and seems like a good warm-up to tackling the slightly more in-depth Venomous by Christie Wilcox, also in that pile.

This morning, I pulled 20-ish books off my large bed-side TBR bookshelf and MT will haul those into the lounge to take residence on the medium sized shelf.  They’re still titles I want to read, but I’m so used to seeing, my eyes glide right over them.  The stacks above will take their place in the bedroom, doing their bit to shake up my visual field.  I’ll also tally up the books on both shelves for my spreadsheet, which will leave me only with 2 smallish shelves in the library, of mostly MM Paperbacks, and then I’ll finally be able to more accurately track my efforts to whittle down my TBR.  I hope.

Halloween Bingo Update, October 29; Another Halloween Bingo, done and dusted.

Well, the bingo gods strung me out to the very end, but with today’s call of Reclics and Curiosities my bingo card is complete and I have all the bingos.

I had a lot more fun with Bingo this year that I feared I would back in August, when my reading mojo, and just my overall life mojo was in a perilous state.

Taking a new approach to the game helped revive my enthusiasm to a degree, but by far the most uplifting and energising act I took was working with Christine and Themis-Athena to create a new, private site where the old BL gang could once again join together in an environment conducive to both games and general book conversations.  We’re all drowning in optimism now and I hope this is the start of a new era of bibliophilism for me.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Accumulative reading table with links to reviews below the card.

The spreadsheet:

Bingo Square Date Called Book Title Date Read
Row #1
X Mad Scientists and Evil Geniuses Sep. 7 Naked Brunch Aug. 30
X Stone Cold Horror/Creepy Carnival Sep. 29 Wild Ride Sep. 1
X Vintage Mystery Sep. 23 The Filigree Ball Sep. 16
X Dem Bones Oct. 2 Independent Bones Sep. 14
X Read by Candlelight/Flashlight Oct. 9 The Ex Hex Oct. 4
Row #2
X Murder Most Foul Oct. 11 Charleston Green Sep. 18
X Lethal Games Oct. 18 No Nest for the Wicket Sep. 1
X Spellbound Oct. 22 The Once and Future Witches Aug. 31
X Black Cat Sep. 15 Thornyhold Sep. 13
X Relics and Curiosities Oct. 30 On the Edge Sep. 8
Row #3
X Shifters Oct. 28 Naked Brunch Aug. 30
X Terror in a Small Town Oct. 14 Agnes and the Hitman Sep. 3
X FREE SPACE Like a Charm Sep. 7
X Psych / Highway to Hell Oct. 6 Archive of the Forgotten Sep. 3
X Truly Terrifying Oct. 1 The Cannonball Tree Mystery Sep. 5
Row #4
X Noir Sep. 24 The Big Over Easy Sep. 22
X Genre: Mystery Oct. 5 The Alchemist’s Illusion Sep. 2
X Country House Mystery Oct. 25 Murder Most Fair Sep. 16
X Tropical Terror Sep. 4 The Mimosa Tree Mystery Sep. 4
X Locked Room Mystery Sep. 28 Black Lizard’s Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries Oct. 5
Row #5
X Splatter Oct. 20 Carpe Jugulum Sep. 9
X Cryptozoologist Oct. 10 Bayou Moon Sep. 11
X Plague and Disease Scourged Sep. 3
X In the Dark, Dark Woods Oct. 17 Paper & Blood Sep. 12
X Gallows Humor Sep. 25 Murder Most Fowl Sep. 10
  Wild Card Spell
  Amplification Spell
  Bingo Flip Spell
  Cell Conversion Spell
  Transfiguration Spell
  Double Trouble Spell

Halloween Bingo Update, October 20: 4th and 5th (and 6th) Bingo!

The Splatter square call gets me my 4th and 5th bingo, and it seems I missed seeing a 6th at some point.

They’re dropping like flies now.

I’ve had so much fun this year, and I think next year is going to be even better.

Accumulative reading table with links to reviews below the card.

The spreadsheet:

Bingo Square Date Called Book Title Date Read
Row #1
X Mad Scientists and Evil Geniuses Sep. 7 Naked Brunch Aug. 30
X Stone Cold Horror/Creepy Carnival Sep. 29 Wild Ride Sep. 1
X Vintage Mystery Sep. 23 The Filigree Ball Sep. 16
X Dem Bones Oct. 2 Independent Bones Sep. 14
X Read by Candlelight/Flashlight Oct. 9 The Ex Hex Oct. 4
Row #2
X Murder Most Foul Oct. 11 Charleston Green Sep. 18
X Lethal Games Oct. 18 No Nest for the Wicket Sep. 1
Spellbound The Once and Future Witches Aug. 31
X Black Cat Sep. 15 Thornyhold Sep. 13
Relics and Curiosities On the Edge Sep. 8
Row #3
Shifters Naked Brunch Aug. 30
X Terror in a Small Town Oct. 14 Agnes and the Hitman Sep. 3
X FREE SPACE Like a Charm Sep. 7
X Psych / Highway to Hell Oct. 6 Archive of the Forgotten Sep. 3
X Truly Terrifying Oct. 1 The Cannonball Tree Mystery Sep. 5
Row #4
X Noir Sep. 24 The Big Over Easy Sep. 22
X Genre: Mystery Oct. 5 The Alchemist’s Illusion Sep. 2
Country House Mystery Murder Most Fair Sep. 16
X Tropical Terror Sep. 4 The Mimosa Tree Mystery Sep. 4
X Locked Room Mystery Sep. 28 Black Lizard’s Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries Oct. 5
Row #5
X Splatter Oct. 20 Carpe Jugulum Sep. 9
X Cryptozoologist Oct. 10 Bayou Moon Sep. 11
X Plague and Disease Scourged Sep. 3
X In the Dark, Dark Woods Oct. 17 Paper & Blood Sep. 12
X Gallows Humor Sep. 25 Murder Most Fowl Sep. 10
  Wild Card Spell
  Amplification Spell
  Bingo Flip Spell
  Cell Conversion Spell
  Transfiguration Spell
  Double Trouble Spell

Halloween Bingo Update, October 18: 3rd Bingo!

I got my third bingo!

Lethal Games was today’s call and that gives me my third bingo.

There are only 13 days or so, of bingo left, and I’m down to 5 squares yet to be called, and only one of those calls won’t give me bingos.

I’ve had so much fun this year, and I think next year is going to be even better.

Accumulative reading table with links to reviews below the card.

The spreadsheet:

Bingo Square Date Called Book Title Date Read
Row #1
X Mad Scientists and Evil Geniuses Sep. 7 Naked Brunch Aug. 30
X Stone Cold Horror/Creepy Carnival Sep. 29 Wild Ride Sep. 1
X Vintage Mystery Sep. 23 The Filigree Ball Sep. 16
X Dem Bones Oct. 2 Independent Bones Sep. 14
X Read by Candlelight/Flashlight Oct. 9 The Ex Hex Oct. 4
Row #2
X Murder Most Foul Oct. 11 Charleston Green Sep. 18
X Lethal Games Oct. 18 No Nest for the Wicket Sep. 1
Spellbound The Once and Future Witches Aug. 31
X Black Cat Sep. 15 Thornyhold Sep. 13
Relics and Curiosities On the Edge Sep. 8
Row #3
Shifters Naked Brunch Aug. 30
X Terror in a Small Town Oct. 14 Agnes and the Hitman Sep. 3
X FREE SPACE Like a Charm Sep. 7
X Psych / Highway to Hell Oct. 6 Archive of the Forgotten Sep. 3
X Truly Terrifying Oct. 1 The Cannonball Tree Mystery Sep. 5
Row #4
X Noir Sep. 24 The Big Over Easy Sep. 22
X Genre: Mystery Oct. 5 The Alchemist’s Illusion Sep. 2
Country House Mystery Murder Most Fair Sep. 16
X Tropical Terror Sep. 4 The Mimosa Tree Mystery Sep. 4
X Locked Room Mystery Sep. 28 Black Lizard’s Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries Oct. 5
Row #5
Splatter Carpe Jugulum Sep. 9
X Cryptozoologist Oct. 10 Bayou Moon Sep. 11
X Plague and Disease Scourged Sep. 3
X In the Dark, Dark Woods Oct. 17 Paper & Blood Sep. 12
X Gallows Humor Sep. 25 Murder Most Fowl Sep. 10
  Wild Card Spell
  Amplification Spell
  Bingo Flip Spell
  Cell Conversion Spell
  Transfiguration Spell
  Double Trouble Spell

Halloween Bingo Update, October 17: Second Bingo!

I got my second bingo!

Some might’ve wondered if I’d given up updating my Halloween Bingo, but it’s just taken this long to get the call that got me my second bingo, which was In the Dark, Dark Woods.

There are only 13 days of bingo left, and I have 6 squares yet to be called, so the bingos should be coming in thick and fast any day now.

Accumulative reading table with links to reviews below the card.

The spreadsheet:

Bingo Square Date Called Book Title Date Read
Row #1
X Mad Scientists and Evil Geniuses Sep. 7 Naked Brunch Aug. 30
X Stone Cold Horror/Creepy Carnival Sep. 29 Wild Ride Sep. 1
X Vintage Mystery Sep. 23 The Filigree Ball Sep. 16
X Dem Bones Oct. 2 Independent Bones Sep. 14
X Read by Candlelight/Flashlight Oct. 9 The Ex Hex Oct. 4
Row #2
X Murder Most Foul Oct. 11 Charleston Green Sep. 18
Lethal Games No Nest for the Wicket Sep. 1
Spellbound The Once and Future Witches Aug. 31
X Black Cat Sep. 15 Thornyhold Sep. 13
Relics and Curiosities On the Edge Sep. 8
Row #3
Shifters Naked Brunch Aug. 30
X Terror in a Small Town Oct. 14 Agnes and the Hitman Sep. 3
X FREE SPACE Like a Charm Sep. 7
X Psych / Highway to Hell Oct. 6 Archive of the Forgotten Sep. 3
X Truly Terrifying Oct. 1 The Cannonball Tree Mystery Sep. 5
Row #4
X Noir Sep. 24 The Big Over Easy Sep. 22
X Genre: Mystery Oct. 5 The Alchemist’s Illusion Sep. 2
Country House Mystery Murder Most Fair Sep. 16
X Tropical Terror Sep. 4 The Mimosa Tree Mystery Sep. 4
X Locked Room Mystery Sep. 28 Black Lizard’s Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries Oct. 5
Row #5
Splatter Carpe Jugulum Sep. 9
X Cryptozoologist Oct. 10 Bayou Moon Sep. 11
X Plague and Disease Scourged Sep. 3
X In the Dark, Dark Woods Oct. 17 Paper & Blood Sep. 12
X Gallows Humor Sep. 25 Murder Most Fowl Sep. 10
  Wild Card Spell
  Amplification Spell
  Bingo Flip Spell
  Cell Conversion Spell
  Transfiguration Spell
  Double Trouble Spell

Halloween Bingo Update, October 9: BINGO!

I got my first bingo!

I’m doubly happy I’ve blacked out my card as I’ve been sucked into a rabbit hole on a new project, so at least now it’s just about waiting on the calls.

Squares on my card that have been called: (this list is getting long so I’m putting it in a spoiler tag)
View Spoiler »

Accumulative reading table with links to reviews below the card.

The spreadsheet:

Bingo Square Date Called Book Title Date Read
Row #1
X Mad Scientists and Evil Geniuses Sep. 7 Naked Brunch Aug. 30
X Stone Cold Horror/Creepy Carnival Sep. 29 Wild Ride Sep. 1
X Vintage Mystery Sep. 23 The Filigree Ball Sep. 16
X Dem Bones Oct. 2 Independent Bones Sep. 14
X Read by Candlelight/Flashlight Oct. 9 The Ex Hex Oct. 4
Row #2
Murder Most Foul Charleston Green Sep. 18
Lethal Games No Nest for the Wicket Sep. 1
Spellbound The Once and Future Witches Aug. 31
X Black Cat Sep. 15 Thornyhold Sep. 13
Relics and Curiosities On the Edge Sep. 8
Row #3
Shifters Naked Brunch Aug. 30
Terror in a Small Town Agnes and the Hitman Sep. 3
X FREE SPACE Like a Charm Sep. 7
X Psych / Highway to Hell Oct. 6 Archive of the Forgotten Sep. 3
X Truly Terrifying Oct. 1 The Cannonball Tree Mystery Sep. 5
Row #4
X Noir Sep. 24 The Big Over Easy Sep. 22
X Genre: Mystery Oct. 5 The Alchemist’s Illusion Sep. 2
Country House Mystery Murder Most Fair Sep. 16
X Tropical Terror Sep. 4 The Mimosa Tree Mystery Sep. 4
X Locked Room Mystery Sep. 28 Black Lizard’s Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries Oct. 5
Row #5
Splatter Carpe Jugulum Sep. 9
Cryptozoologist Bayou Moon Sep. 11
X Plague and Disease Scourged Sep. 3
In the Dark, Dark Woods Paper & Blood Sep. 12
X Gallows Humor Sep. 25 Murder Most Fowl Sep. 10
  Wild Card Spell
  Amplification Spell
  Bingo Flip Spell
  Cell Conversion Spell
  Transfiguration Spell
  Double Trouble Spell

My tea arrived! Let the black tea auditions commence.

A couple of years ago, I discovered Tao of Tea would deliver to me in Australia, so I started buying my organic spearmint and chamomile from them in bulk, along with tea bags that make 1 gallon of tea, so I could make the iced tea that runs in my veins, and is thus necessary for life.

When I needed to re-order, I decided it was time to find a black tea I actually like drinking hot.  I used to love English Breakfast, but it’s become too tannic to my taste buds.  I mostly drink my chamomile, spearmint, and lavender blend, changing up the proportions depending on time of day, and I’d really like to add a pinch of a nice black tea to it in the mornings, along with an occasional mug of all-black.

So I went to Tao of Tea, loaded up every black tea they had in stock, read the descriptions and chose 4 that were all described as light, or fruity, or whatever (when did tea tasting get so posh?).  They arrived today! And thank goodness too, because I was down to one teaspoon of chamomile.

Added my favorite tea pot, bought from a local potter, and one of my favorite tea cups and my favorite tea strainer balls, bought at our local tea chain called T2.  For ambiance.

They are:
Wild Lapsong (the bamboo container):  Smooth and rich with sweet aroma and notes of Peach and roasted yam (?!)
Basic Orange Pekoe (that’s my baseline): Light bodied with balanced sweetness and astringency. Aromas of turbinado warm brown sugar
Neela Green herb, floral and citrus aromas. Full smooth taste with a subtle turbinado sweetness
Ceylon Black Tips Deep, full-bodied tea with balanced sweetness and astringency. Aromas of raw sugar and molasses give way to black cherry and dark fruit.

Uh huh.

So staring tomorrow, they’ll be getting auditioned, both alone and in my normal herbal blend.  I’m excited and hopeful that I’ll find one (at least) I love.