Thursday 1 May 2014


April as far as reading numbers has gone has been dire - 6 books in total!  I haven't had a month in the the past 3 years plus, when I started re-recording things with as skinny a figure as that. Factor in DeLee's book being 55 pages only and I'm definitely struggling with my reading.

This year I have completed 32 books with a page count of 7584 
January     8 (2045)
February   9 (1769
March       9 (2424)
April         6 (1346)

This time last year - the figures were somewhat better - 58 books - 15914 pages.
January    15 (4433)
February  13 (3994)
March      16 (3940)
April         14 (3547)

Some bugger has nicked my bloody mojo and I want it back! Now please! 

Looking at the reading stat.s for the year though, they made off with it whilst I was seeing in the New Year! Any hints for getting back on track anyone?

Factors which have effected my reading  - trees and football definitely.

Trees - we had a 40 foot section of tree from a neighbour's garden come down in a storm and flatten my garden shed, wiping out some of my tools as well. I had arguments - ok discussions then, with his and my insurance company and the upshot was. It was my problem and my policy didn't cover me for removal. I got a quote for removal and the figure given had me thinking that the guy possibly was looking to retire a day or two after doing the job. I think the Dick Turpin fancy dress costume he was wearing when he showed up to quote the job, should have perhaps tipped me off as to what was coming.

Anyway, I have with the assistance of the rest of the Keane team managed to remove it, gradually slowly and painstakingly from the fence and shed. Which then left me the task of cutting it up into bite-sized chunks to enable me to get it around the front of our property for disposal over the next 6 months via the council and my green bin. Whilst I wasn't really in the mood for this, I have subsequently spent a few weekends judiciously pruning other trees, this time - my trees in my garden. My shed was covered plus the tools, but despite agreeing a figure before Easter I still haven't received anything yet.

I'm still narked that the insurers have basically told me to jog-on and someone's else's tree coming down hits me in my wallet and eats up most of my recent free time. I ought to let it go, but this one is gonna bug me for a good while yet!  (Never let it be said that I'm one to hold onto a grudge, but I've only just gotten over the fact that one of my sisters cried when she was told she had a baby brother - namely ME - all those years ago. Apparently she was after a rabbit.)

Football - whilst I stopped going a few years ago, apart from the odd match with my youngest daughter, it still retains an importance in my life. I did a post regarding the joys and pitfalls of being a Luton fan. But as we approached the climax of the season and an impending promotion back to the football league, I kind of found myself distracted whenever Luton or one of our close rivals played.....working out various permutations and scenarios. At least we got the job done in the month and I can enjoy some reading without the distraction of anxiously looking out for each match and staring monotonously at a laptop screen following game scores on a football website.

Lifestyle, age and tiredness - possibly. 

Face it I'm an old git and my eyes aren't as great as they used to be. They reckon as you get older, apparently you need less sleep. Never one to go with the flow, I have obviously bucked the trend and decided I need more not less. If I'm not tucked up in bed by about 10.15 latest, I'm a proper grump. Conversely though I do rise early - before 5am most mornings and not an awful lot later at weekends.

I have been out walking 2 to 3 miles distance, 3 or 4 times a week, with the odd time doing it as a run. Since my working role has evolved to sitting at a desk on a PC, eating donuts and drinking coffee, I'm far less active than I ever was previously. Hence my weight has crept upwards in the past 10 years or so to an all time high. An old joke, but early February I had more Chins than a Chinese phone book.

Efforts are being taken to address this - successfully so far, with over a stone and a half off in the past two months. If the consequences of addressing this means I have 3 or 4 less hours a week reading-time, so be it. If I'm lighter and a bit more active in general then at some point I should see an increase in my energy levels, which will then translate back to needing less sleep and having more reading time - so WIN/WIN eventually.

Anyway to those who have read thus far and stuck with me - back to those books!

From a quality perspective the standard was great with 3 x 5 stars competing for my book of the month.
Steinhauer got April off to a flyer with The Cairo Effect, which I didn't think would be bettered. Freedman's Doheny book almost equalled it, but still merited a top score. Then McKinty comes along and nails me with one that ripped off the pages.

Book of the month - McKinty I reckon just pinches it. Partly swayed, by the fact that he once sent me a couple of his books, so he's a nice bloke,  plus he's Irish and the other fellah isn't. (Irish that is.)

April's pick of the month - The Cold Cold Ground - Adrian McKinty  

Extra analysis, which shouldn't take long - no Scottish reads, no American State reads, 1 Espionage, nothing Vintage, nothing off the TBR pile, 1 female - cheers Moira for setting that one up, nothing Australian or New Zealand.

Female tally is 6 from 32, so just below my 20% target, which should be easily rectified.

3 of the authors were new to me.

1 book disappointed, 1 book was okay - enjoyable but not really my thing - Araminta Hall's Dot and the short DeLee book was good/great in parts.

April's reads below in detail.

Olen Steinhauer - The Cairo Affair (5)

David Delee - Cop Shot (4)

Araminta Hall - Dot (3)

J.F. Freedman - Turn Left at Doheny (5)

A.J. Riccio -  Only the Strong Survive (2)

Adrian McKinty - The Cold Cold Ground (5)

Looking forward to May - it can only get better!


  1. Col - You have had a time of it with the weather! And football Still, I'm glad you found some good reads, and I'm not at all surprised you liked your introduction to the Sean Duffy series so much. McKinty's very talented. I strongly recommend I Hear the Sirens in the Street, by the way.

    1. Margot - a second dose of Duffy may be the right medicine to cure the slump. Hopefully we are through the worst of the weather now.

  2. OK, you did read less than me this month. But I had airplane time on my side. The tree coming down sounds like a real pain and I don't understand why the guy next door is not liable... I can understand your continuing distress. It is great that you are exercising more and taking care of your health.

    On the other hand, three books that you rated a 5 is really good. I agree with you about Cairo Affair, and am sure I will like Cold, Cold Ground as well.

    1. Thanks - hopefully I get a cheque through soon, which will ease the pain!

      I saw on Amazon that Steinhauer wrote a shortish piece - On the Lisbon Disaster that gives more of John's story, so I bought that for less than a pound. I'll be looking out for your McKinty review when you read it.

  3. Well, an interesting view into your life, it was like a soap opera. Like Tracy, I don't understand why your neighbour seems to have no responsibility for removing the tree? Anyway, glad you did enjoy some of your books, and I think you are very gracious about Dot (which I haven't started yet). I have obtained a different book by Olen Steinhauer, but the way things are going Len Deighton is going to take up some time. I just finished the 2nd one, and am having to force myself not to start the 3rd straightaway. I don't know when I last felt that impelled by a series. Worth a look for you in terms of mojo?... different tastes and all that, but I just really really want to know what happens, in a very old fashioned and rare way!

    1. Moira - sorry if I bored you. Sometimes a mid-morning nap can be quite therapeutic though! Re Deighton - I'll have a look at him soon I think. I may have to hunt in the attic for my first few Samsons though. Isn't it great when you get that sucked in by an author and character and series. Keep reading them until the buzz starts to fade, then try something else, I reckon. Be curious to know which Steinhauer you plumped for.

    2. I didn't think it was boring at all, quite the opposite! Perhaps we have different takes on the words 'soap opera'...
      I think the Steinhauer is called The Tourist.

    3. Phew! :-)
      The Tourist is a good choice. Not read it yet myself, but one day!

  4. I feel your pain regarding the neighbour's tree - had the same thing happen myself about 6 or 7 years ago - with the same unhelp from insurance and neighbours - and largely the same solution (though managed to get rid of it a bit quicker by offering it for firewood as it was a suitable type of tree - once we'd gotten it to the front yard we told people to pop around with their chain saws and take what they wanted).

    I laughed about your sister wanting a rabbit instead of you - my older brother was convinced my parents were bringing home a puppy and for many years did not let me forget his disappointment.

    As for books - you can't go wrong with McKinty - as for your mojo I'm sure it will return - mine always seems to - I think of it kind of like learning to fly in Douglas Adams' books - you throw yourself at the ground and get distracted - your mojo will sneak back while you're thinking about something else

    1. Bernadette,
      I can see kind of see the wood for the trees now - so it shouldn't prove to much more of a distraction going forward! Would be nice if the insurers paid up though.
      I reckon my sister might have got more satisfaction out of a rabbit TBH, I think she's gotten over it now!

      Thanks for the thoughts regarding my mojo. You're probably right - if I stop thinking about it, it'll return before I know it. Some sharp reads to kick-start May would help, but hey - there I go again trying to force things.

  5. Don't worry about your mojo, Col. We all go through periods like this. I only read 4 books this month.

    Glad you liked The Cold Cold Ground.

    1. Sarah thanks for the kind words. I have had mini slumps before but this one seems to be dragging. More books like McKinty and I will be fine! Cheers,

  6. Interesting to see your stats, hope you find your mojo soon and good luck in continuing with the weight loss. I liked Dot by Araminta Hall, it was one of my favourite reads of last year.

    1. Cleo cheers. Hopefully my mojo comes back and some weight goes away! 1 out of 2 so far. Read your Dot comment, would be interested to hear if you have read her other book and whether you thought it similar or different.

  7. Col, I enjoyed this post even though it came at the expense of a tree fall and the burden on your wallet. Like Tracy, I wondered why your neighbour didn't compensate you right away. I hope he does. I walk a fair bit and mostly do yoga and meditation which helps me see through the day. You're right about proper hours of sleep that probably helps reading more books too.

    1. I have spent most of this weekend including Monday in the garden. We have two tall conifers of our own at the end which I have taken about 20 ft off each, which will allow us extra sunshine in the evening. I think the physical exercise, helps me sleep, but hasn't done much for the reading stats! At least when I'm finished I can forget about them for many years; there's 1 more to go!