Midnight Riot – Ben Aaronovitch

Peter Grant has just reached the end of his probationary period in the London Metropolitan Police.     He wants to be a detective, but his superiors have pretty much decided he’s ripe for a desk job.        But that changes the night that he’s given an exclusive eye witness account to a murder – by a ghost.      That brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale – the more or less one man department in charge of all supernatural goings on in London.

Almost before he knows it, Peter is an apprentice sorcerer, learning that there’s far more going on in London than he ever dreamed, including a long running feud between dueling deities of the Thames, and an old evil centered in Covent Garden, trying to return to the land of the living.

I loved this book – it’s centered in a very real London, and the supernatural aspects blend in well – they fit better than many of your stereotypical vampires or river spirits.       It’s just a great story, and I very much look forward to reading more.

I would like to know why they felt the need to rename this book for an American audience.     Rivers of London is a quite serviceable name, and pretty well captures what the whole book is about.     Midnight Riot is a only a tiny slice of the action.      All I can think is that rights are weird.


The Three Weissmanns of Westport – Cathleen Schine

This book is Sense and Sensibility for the modern age – sisters Annie and Miranda are accompanying their mother to a extended exile in Westport, Connecticut when their step-father dumps Betty for a much younger woman.

Annie’s Edward is Frederick, famous author and brother to the much younger woman now shacked up with her step-father.     Miranda’s situation is a bit less clear – Willoughby is a distinct character, but Colonel Brandon is more or less an amalgam of three people, and it would be completely spoilerly to go into more detail than that.    A trip to Palm Springs stands in for London, and we’re off to the races.

I really enjoyed this story – it really does capture the essence of the original, but gives the sisters a more fitting story for this modern age.      It’s mostly pre-ordained, based on the source (Miranda’s denouement somewhat withstanding), but there’s still some mystery in what will happen next, and satisfaction upon reaching that end.

The History of the English Church and People – Bede

Here’s my serious reading for the year – one of the first primary sourced histories written out of England.

Bede was a monk who lived nearly his entire life between two monasteries in Northumberland, so there’s a decided religious slant to the narrative, but he’s very careful to give as well rounded a picture of the various secular doings of the age as well.     (It’s mostly Saxon kings, because let’s face it – kings always get the most press where anything historical is concerned.)

This book does concern the time before England was truly England – we’re talking after the Romans left, when the Britons and Saxons were still wrestling for control over land (non-spoiler spoiler if you’ve ever paid attention in history class – the Saxons won).     So we’re talking about various kings of smaller lands.    Bede being from Northumberland, there’s perhaps a bit more about the kings from northern England.     As well as plenty about St. Cuthbert – the local exulted saint.

It’s an interesting read – he did get as many primary sources as he could get his hands on – letters from the Pope to bishops in England, and the like.       There’s also a lot of flavor for the day – the thing that sticks out in my mind the most is that the Celtic church (up in Scotland), had apparently gotten it into their head that they were going to hold Easter two weeks later than the regular Catholic church, and Bede Did Not Approve.     Seriously, some note of disapproval is in almost every other chapter for a stretch.      There’s even a full chapter where the pope explains to one of the Scottish kings why their way of calculating Easter is correct.    (I skimmed.      It was detailed.    Very detailed.)       It’s all very distant and quaint in its own way.

Definitely an interesting read if you enjoy history, and don’t mind wading through a more archaic style of writing.

Embroidery Notes

I really like knitting, but you can only make so many lace shawls before you run out of places to use them, or people to give them away to.     So I’ve been thinking about something else I could do during the evening, that I can do while sitting on the couch, watching not too involved tv.

When I was in high school, I used to cross stitch.    I’ve done away with most of those supplies (save the floss – one can never in good conscience get rid of a good stash), I liked embroidery, and thought it might be nice to take that up again.     So I looked to my trusty visual crack website (aka Pinterest), and starting surfing the Craft/DIY section.    I settled on Jacobean crewel.

At that point, I started looking for kits, and ended up on Etsy.   This is what I ended up buying, because I really liked her style, and it has the added bonus of coming from Australia.   (Check out the stamps from the package below.    Shipping was just a smidge over two weeks, which isn’t bad for regular shipping from the other side of the world.)

The kit is awesome – really good illustrations, and a variety of stitches to practice.      So here’s to fun alternative week night activity.

Garden Notes

I’ve been a little under the weather since last Friday (hence the dearth of posts that I’m now trying to slam in over this weekend).     But the above was Monday night’s Swiss chard harvest.     That’s right, Monday, November 23rd.     Because it’s been a really warm Fall.

Warm enough, that despite previous intention, the above is still hanging out in my garden.   I mean, the Swiss chard probably won’t get to a full pizza’s amount again, but it looks so good, I just can’t bear to throw it out.     Maybe next weekend.    When it’s, you know, December.

In other news, since I got plagued out last weekend, I finished the raking on Thanksgiving morning.   (We spent a glorious day doing nothing – I actually made macaroni and cheese for dinner).      This doesn’t look like much, but it was seven bags worth.     So that’s a 25 bag total year.    (My neighbor did help with a bag or two.)


Garden Notes

The weather is just wacky.   It’s so freaking warm.   I mean look at the Swiss chard!   Because it can survive a frost or two, it’s doing beautifully.   So it’s made putting the garden to bed this year problematic.

Some things are done – I pulled out the clematis yesterday, so that whole side of the side garden looks empty.

But the herbs are, for the most part, still doing strong, so I’ve left them for now.

So yesterday was a whole lot of neatening.     It was a little on the breezy side, so I didn’t do much raking – if you count the four bags I pulled out just from around the driveway as not much raking.   But I suppose when you compare it to the below, it really isn’t that much.


I had today off, so the above was my first order of business.

Because of some other things I needed to get done around the house, I committed to ten bags this morning.     Which got me to the above.    I guess it’s a good thing I took Friday off as well…

To Say Nothing of the Dog – Connie Willis

I’ve had this book in the Tote of Shame ™ for a while – I think because I’d never read any of the author’s work before, so I really wasn’t sure to expect.     So I’ve been passing it by because I never know if it’s going to fit whatever reading mood I’m in at one moment.     But, I finally got into one of my “I just need something different, so let’s dredge the back of the Tote pile” moods, and out this came.      And I really should have read it a while ago.

The basic premise of the book is that time travel is possible, but you can’t move anything out of another time, so it’s basically been abandoned to historians to go back and observe what’s happened.    A very rich lady has more or less co-opted this history department at Oxford because she’s building a replica of Coventry Cathedral (which was destroyed in the Blitz), and is trying to track down ever last artifact that may have escaped the bombing.   Ned Henry is charge of finding a Victorian monstrosity referred to as the bishop’s bird stump, and for various reasons, ends up back in Victorian times.

The rest of the story is hard to summarize, or classify.    It’s like a comedy of manners, with time travel.     I really enjoyed it.     I am absolutely going to have to track down more of this author’s work.    At least now I’ll have a better idea of what moods I can be in to read it.

Knitting Notes

So, being at loose knit ends again, I’ve cast on some socks.     Which will probably be going to my friend K.     This is Cookie A’s Elm Socks, in Knit Picks Stroll in the Pine colorway.   (I think I’ve actually had it so long it’s technically Essential Yarn in the Pine colorway.    It’s been a while since they changed that name, which tells you how long I’ve had this yarn.)

Knitting Notes

Pattern:  Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf by Karen Baumer
Yarn: Tess’s Designer Yarns Microfiber Ribbon
Needles: Size 6 circs

This is one of the few times I’ve seen a knit sample at a yarn store and said, you know, I really want to make exactly that.     I’ve never knit before with this ribbon, but this particular skein caught my eye at the shop.   (Melinda told me it was the last skein left of a special run she’d done for a recent-at-the-time show.)

They had several scarf samples up, and the one that caught my eye was a variation of this really easy triangle pattern.    (The yarn itself comes with a free pattern for a dropped stitch scarf.)     So I snagged the yarn, and came home and found a decently written variation of this pattern (there are a ton to chose from).

The ribbon yarn is interesting.    The color is definitely gorgeous, but I can’t say I see that yarn being a versatile option for lots of different types of projects.    I’m not sure I’d ever buy it again, but it was fun to work with the once.