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The Mundaneum

The Google Doodle today was labelled Mundaneum and I couldn't quite remember what it was. That's been happening a lot lately. I guess I need more RAM? Anyhow I clicked on it and there it was on Wikipedia, in all its glory.

The Mundaneum - a paper version of the world wide web made in 1910 by two Belgian lawyers researching documentation science.

Everything was cross referenced against everything else according to a numerical system called the Universal Decimal Classification so it should be possible to follow routes of research by going from one numerical reference to another. There's a museum in Wallonia where one can view what remains of the Mundaneum - parts were lost during WW2 and other parts have been damaged by neglect.

In the process I remembered why I sort of recognised it. In 1982, when I first started working for the museum, a modern version was being launched called the SHIC classification system that had been designed especially for museum archivists. SHIC = Social History and Industrial Classification. Every social history item could be logged with a series of numbers. Say one had a photo of some Morris dancers. That counts as part of Community Life - 1 - subdivided to Cultural Traditions - 1.1 - but if the dance was part of a Mummer's Play only performed at a solstice then it would fall under Custom and Belief and Calendar Customs which would give it a code of 1.116 AND/OR as Community Entertainment - 1.66 - and if the photo was part of a newsclipping then it would also fall under dessemination of information which would take it into a whole new category. For example, smelling salts should normally be classified to 2.7, but smelling salts in a small bottle obviously carried around by one particular individual should be classified to 3.72. A scrapbook about a coal mining disaster would be classified to 4.2121.81, but a scrapbook recording the life of one particular individual would be classified to 3.12. A pipe rack would be classified to 2.68, but a pipe would normally be classified to 3.63.

Not confusing at all! Obviously.

Then the personal computer revolution kicked off with searchable databases and the SHIC system fell into disuse. I rather regret that somewhere in my head there's a whole bunch of bits and bytes where bunches of info from the system is stored, hard to get at but still present. Local topography - 1.92 - crop spraying - 4.13. I wonder why I can remember those when I often can't remember a doctor's appointment or to pick up a prescription.

More RAM.

Weekend Recommendations

I normally post these on a Saturday so I'm a day late and a shilling short, as they say. But no, no missing shillings because today I have just finished something rare and wonderful.

I'm ploughing a hard furrow at the moment with a mule that's on three legs and a swinger, and with Christmas coming up it's enough to drive a body to drink. But I don't drink so instead I mine the M/M pit for gems and take my mind of the situation by reading a lot.

This weeks gem is a softly glowing pearl of a book - Like Fire through Bone by E E Ottoman.

I'm a real history nerd and feel that some periods and places are unjustly neglected, so it was a HUGE treat to find this book set in something very much like the Eastern Roman Empire. Byzantium/Constantinople is never mentioned and the geography has been fiddled with a bit, but the world was familiar, lush, horrifying and complex. I loved that.

Then there are the characters. Firstly Vasilios, the MC, a castrato who was captured in war and mutilated. Rather than falling into despair he worked hard and has made himself indispensable to his master, a merchant whose health is failing. These eunuch bureaucrats, highly educated, highly motivated, cultured and competitive, were the driving force behind the Roman Empire, both east and west and the Ottoman Empire that followed, in government, th military, financial institutions, the church and right down to household level. Vasilios runs his master's household, directs his business, disciplines the other servants and has more or less given up on doing anything other than serve others. He's a sweet, gentle, intelligent man who is appreciated only as a valuable asset rather than a person in his own right. His one little self indulgence is a wistful crush on General Markos, confidant of the Emperor.

Then Vasilios begins to have horrifying dreams and realises that they have a bearing on a task that the General is trying to accomplish. This provides the excuse fr him to meet the General more often and the crush blossoms as he realises that the General too may be harbouring feelings for him. Markos is a tough guy but benign who has attained his rank through competence and loyalty rather than birth or connections. As such he's a very good match for Vasilios.

Their gentle and careful courtship forms part of the story. Other themes are a dark paranormal tale concerning devils and murder and the utter vulnerability of slaves in a world where they have absolutely no rights and can be killed, discarded, used or brutalised at their owners whim.

I read this book almost at a sitting and enjoyed every word of it. Very highly recommended. If you want a standard romance structure you might be a little disappointed in the slightly ambiguous ending but for me it was perfect for Vasilios and an ending that is good for the character has to be better than one that panders to readers tastes doesn't it? Get it, read it. I'm sure you'll love it as much as I did.


Happy Saturday.

Reading really is the BEST thing to do when it's a bit dreary and miserable outside and you can't summon up the enthusiasm to do much inside.

This week I've been dipping into old favourites again - Harry Dresden ftw. Then a pre-ordered book popped up on my Kindle which was a terrific surprise. I always forget preorders and have sometime pre-ordered copies from the publisher and Amazon AND bought one on release day from ARe as well. But this time there was just one - sorry, Charlie - The Best Corpse for the Job, a cosy British murder mystery from fave autobuy author Charlie Cochrane.

Isn't that cover brillant? Thanks Riptide.

This is one of those books that doesn't categorise easily. It has the murder, but it's not gory. There's a mystery but not very many potential murderers to choose from. There's some romance between two young men but none of the usual heaving, moaning and spurting that's almost obligatory in M/M romance. Also it's very very British and, again, thank you Riptide from the bottom of my heart for not moving it to that watery mid-Atlantic grave inhabited by UK-set books who are trying to cater for readers who can't cope with odd words like curtains, crumpets and trainers.

I smiled all the way through this examination of the petty rivalries and quirky competitions between characters in a small closed in community. Village life can be cut throat emotionally and sometimes I think it's just as well that we don't 'do' guns or the local PTA meetings would be a blood bath. There was so much here that I recognised, empathised with or laughed at with a wince.

The lead characters are very sweet and some of the secondaries almost deserve their own stories. It was a very relaxing read and great fun as well.

Highly recommended.

Originally posted here on Wordpress.

Saturday Recommendations


Scary night last night :(

We had heavy rain and it hammered down on the new bit of roof over our derelict kitchen and woke me up. that was about 3.30. So I had a read - as you do - until I felt sleepy and went back to sleep. And THEN I had a nightmare that the museum was on fire, and it was full of school buses and I had a ZZ Top style beard that was singeing. Bloody scary. So I read some more.

But that means I have more than one rec for you this week because I have been inhaling books like a book-breather.

Firstly, How to Train Your Dom in 5 Easy Steps by Josephine Myles. Straight wannabee dominant Jeff's brusque 'tell it like it is' attitude has upset so many potential female subs that the only person he can find is a very cheerful chap called Eddie who is a self described 'pain-slut' with an equally high tolerance for butch straight boys who don't know what they are doing. This story is tender and funny, although some of the descriptions of their play made my eyes water, and the gay-for-you theme of it was handled with care - Jeff fighting it every inch of the way. Yes there's a lot of sex, yes it's graphic. Not my usual choice of reading matter but I ALWAYS give Jo the benefit of the doubt and I've never been disappointed. Highly recommended if the mere mention of nipple clamps doesn't send you fleeing for cover.

My next outstanding read this week was Cover Me by L A Witt. This is quite sexy too but since that was part of the personalities of the incredibly stressed protagonists it worked well. EMT Nick meets detective Andrew at a call out that ends tragically with a death and extreme trouble for Nick. Getting a lift home from Andrew the two of them get rid of some on their built up stress by shagging each other silly in a quite startling exhibition of stamina. I got the impression that this was even more fantasy than M/M romance usually is. BUT there was also a really good tense mystery that was resolved in a satisfying manner. Highly recommended. The sequelae, Trust Me and Search Me, respectively follow the adventures of two other protagonists with another mystery, which was fun, and unpacked some of the baggage Nick and Andrew still had to work their way through and was solely about the tensions in their relationship, which didn't work as well for me. But I think romance readers will get a kick out of them.

My third recommendation, finished around 5am this morning, is Unspeakable Words by Sarah Madison. This is an FBI story. Special Agent Jerry Park is more intelligent than almost everyone else around him but has a habit of showing that he knows this. A superlative number cruncher and data miner he is paired with Special Agent John Flynn who is charismatic, charming and has a special hatred of serial killers, to investigate a possible connection to the Grimm's Fairy Tale killer, a cold case, that may have new evidence. So far so good, but there's an unusual paranormal event that adds a whole new dimension to the story. This book is the set up for a new series so while it is a satisfying read and comes to a good conclusion, there are plenty of issues left unresolved to be tackled in future titles. Book 2 is out now and I plan to get on with reading that as soon as I have some reading time! Highly recommended.

So those are my recs for this week. Have you got any recommedations for me?


On Friday evenings I like to imagine all my friends list out on the town dancing their faces off in a club, or watching La Boheme or enjoying something fiddly on fine china served by a would be actor in tight pants while being poured dry martinis by Matt Bomer. Or something.

I, on the other hand, am eating choccy bikkies in front of the TV [it's annoyingly on but I'm ignoring it] and betaing something rather fine by an author called Lillian Francis while the dog drools into my crocs.

Are you having your ideal Friday night?

Sidles back in for a catch up

*waves a guilty hello*

Let's face it! There are only so many social media sites that one can maintain at the same time so I've only been looking at friends posts and commenting occasionally. But I've decided I really miss LJ so will try and post here a bit more often.

I'll go and try to think of something interesting to post about. 


Happy Saturday

I hope you're having a great weekend so far and sincerely hope you are somewhere high up or well drained, preferably both.

One of the nicest things about the weekend, especially a cold and rainy weekend, is curling up with a book so here is one of my Saturday Recommendations.

I'm a big fan of historical action stories, and of action stories in general. Until I found the growing M/M genre knocking on for 10 years ago now, I had never read romances - preferring Fred Forsythe or Patrick O'Brien to Loretta Chase or E L James - and I still have problems getting my head around the tropes. Some of the best stories I've read play all kinds of games with these 'set in stone' rules.

Because I know that I have problems with romances I scan the ebook displays very quickly, screening by book cover. I usually ignore all the naked torsos and cuddling contemporary couples, and pounce on anything with a gun or a spaceship, a suggestion of noir or a whiff of historical costume. The Boys of Summer went on my To Read List the moment I saw the gorgeous cover.

Boy, did I feel daft when I read the blurb properly and realised that it was a contemporary romance but actually it was that glorious thing - a twofer! As in two for the price of one.

The contemporary romance concerns David, a location prospector for the film industry checking out sites in the Hawaiian archipelago, assisted by Rick, a pilot, whose skill at the controls is the only thing between them and death when a tropical storm blows up. There's action right from the first page and the pace continues, with quieter moments that allow the reader to catch up and realise just how much trouble the protagonists are in. Neatly inserted into the contemporary narrative is a slightly slower paced story set during the Second World War where another David and Rick carry out an exquisitely agonised courtship against a backdrop of code breaking and far too many sorties as a fighter pilot. This part of the book was beautifully done and impressed me very much - a clear 5 star read. When we return again to the present, it's with a greater sense of purpose and urgency.

How one story fits with the other would be a spoiler, as would how the past impacts on the present so I'll say no more about it other than that it was a damned good read and kept me entertained throughout.

Now I'm off to read something by S E Jakes and toss another log or two on the fire. Stay warm!


I've been MIA for a long time due to lack of brainwidth. The old energy has been pretty badly depleted for most of 2013 as well.

But I miss the people I follow on LJ so I'm going to try to do a bit better in 2104.

For now - have a "Comfy Chair" author interview, crossposted from my Wordpress blog.


comfy chairMy guest today is Mina Carter, renowned for her beautifully produced book covers [I still get a bit of a lump in my throat when I look at the one she made for On A Lee Shore] and for her many romance series. She is here today to publicise the latest instalment of her Lyric Hounds series, Sex, Wolves and Rock and Roll, which has a strong M/M pairing at the heart of it.

Welcome, Mina, and thank you for answering my questions.


Elin: Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

Mina: Nope, no 'day' job as in going out to work for someone else, but in addition to writing I'm also a cover-artist and a photographer, so at any given time I can be wearing one of three hats :) Other than that I'm a married mother of one with a bad reading habit and far too little respect for correct amounts of sleep :) I'm also addicted to coffee.

Elin: Normally at this point I would be asking about your other creative outlets but since I first got to know you through your fantastic cover art, I'd like to ask some questions about that. In view of the highly imaginative works produced by artists such as Nathie, Ann Cain, Paul Richmond and yourself, do you think the day of the stock photo nude torso on MM romances may be drawing to its close? Where do you start in designing a cover? The characters? The overall tone of the work? Do you accept commissions?

Mina: Hmmm, it's possible. I'm getting a lot of requests for more than just a torso. While I understand the thinking behind it (so the reader can imagine the perfect hero), it's a creative challenge to take the information from the cover art form and create a cover that tells a story in itself.

Generally I start by reading through the form and the information provided by the author. I'll also go and have a look at their website to see any previous covers, and have a look around the stock sites. Different genres have different requirements so then it's a case of picking the stock that matches both the characters and the genre. Sometimes if I know I need something specific in advance, I'll organise a photoshoot with the intent of getting that image.

I do occasionally accept commissions, but it very much depends on my writing schedule :)

Elin: What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you'd written yourself?

Mina: Currently I'm reading City of Bones, the Mortal Instruments series. I can heartily recommend Zero Dog War by Keith Melton, which I would love to have written. (But he wrote it WAY better than I could have)

Elin: In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Mina: Any and all of the above. Sometimes it's a line of a song, an image in a film, or my brain idly playing 'what if?'. It's more a case of trying to turn the ideas off before they drive me mad o_O

Elin: Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

Mina: Some are pretty much fully-fledged, like Sav in the Lyric Hounds series, but he still had a surprise for me in that he used to be a cage fighter. Others are just a thought and a feeling so I need to chip away at their story to reveal their full potential.

Elin: I know that you have written a successful series of books with paranormal theme combined with crime combined with het romance, but that your latest book is M/M. What inspired you to make the change from het sex to same sex?

Mina: Love is love, a heart is a heart. Same emotion whether it's MF or MM or FF. Sav arrived and told me his story was with Karlan, so I sat down and wrote it as I saw it.

Elin: Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot?

Mina: All stories for me follow a certain ebb and flow. I always write romance or stories with a romance somewhere in it, so early on I need to make the choice whether the romance or the action is predominant. Action-heavy stories tend to be longer for me, and more complex in planning to ensure all the players on the board so to speak are in the right places at the right time.

Elin: Put together your ideal team of men/women – drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional – who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?

Mina: Ohh, this is an interesting one. How many do I get? I think I'd want Andy from Reaper (nothing gets past a woman who is basically Death personified), Darce from Blood Mate because he can talk his way out of anything and perhaps Calcite from Hard as a Rock/Between a Rock and a Hard Place because a Gargoyle would put a serious crimp in any muggers day.

Elin: What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it's finished.

Mina: I'm currently working on the next PPA story, which will be Duke's story. All I'll say is that this story will open up a whole new area of the PPA world, and potentially launch a new sub-series.

Elin: Could we please have an excerpt of something?

Mina: Oh, go on then. It's a tiny, unedited snippet of my next release, Reaper and the Cop.

Death is inevitable. For most that means worrying about the how, and more importantly, when. It’s an obsession the marketing industry has latched into like a leech and from one person to the next ranges from the absent worry about leaving loved ones behind through to narcissistic panic at leaving this mortal coil.

For some of us though, death is a job. I would say it’s a nine to five daily grind, but really it’s more of a 24/7/365 deal. Let me introduce myself. I’m Laney Larson, and I’m a Reaper. Yeah, you heard me right. I said Reaper. As in the big, bad dude with the robes and scythe...looks like he could do with a few extra squares in his life? That guy.


Well, not quite.

It’s probably more accurate to say that I’m his great-god knows how many-great grand-daughter. Hard to tell really since no one has seen his Grimness since the middle ages, but each and every Reaper carries a piece of him, their Grimm, inside us. It’s what gives us our abilities and lets us see things that others can’t. Without a Grimm, a Reaper is just a standard human with an interesting family tree. Nothing more, nothing less. With a Grimm? Yeah, even I don’t know everything we’re capable of. I don’t want to think what we’re capable of. Not with how many of us there are.

It’s a bit like the Santa deal, but instead of presents, there are lots of souls to be reaped on a daily basis all over the world. I have no clue how the big dude in red manages it (yeah, he’s real too. And the Easter Bunny? Don’t get me started on that asshole) but us Reapers spread the load.


Mina's latest release is available NOW from all the usual ebook outlets.

Sex, Wolves and Rock 'n Roll

He'd loved Karlan forever. Now he must face forever without him...

Karlan Rixx is the epitome of the playboy rocker. Sexy and gorgeous, with that feral edge that marked a werewolf, Sav's been in love with him for years. The trouble is, Karlan's Mr. New girl every night, as straight as they come, and Sav doesn't stand a chance. Unable to bear it anymore, he makes plans to leave the band, even though it will break his heart in the process. But anything's better than seeing the man he loves and not being able to touch. Ever.

K loves being a Lyric Hound. The only time he truly feels alive is on stage, a guitar in his hand and the beat of Sav's drums flowing through his veins. Despite his image as a womaniser, it's the other wolf who makes his heart pound and his body ache. Before K can admit his feelings though, Sav leaves and rips his world apart.

Enter Madam Eve and a very special 1NS date. Can she succeed where so many investigators have failed and find K's lost wolf?

Read an excerpt here

Buy from:
Decadent Publishing
Amazon UK

You can follow Mina at her:

Website - http://mina-carter.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/minacarterauthor
GR - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2920063.Mina_Carter
Pinterest - http://pinterest.com/minacarter77
Twitter - http://twitter.com/minacarter
Amazon author page - http://www.amazon.com/Mina-Carter/e/B002BOH5R4/


This is what I'm writing about at the moment:

I've always enjoyed the idea of secret places underground, though I find them a bit scary too. I did some caving when I was a gel, and quite liked splashing around in the mud, but there's something very romantic to me about man made caverns. I'm not thinking about 'romantic' in a Romance sense - no hearts and flowers and angsty protestations of undying adoration - but a passion of a different kind. A passion that organised and provided and planned and ensured that every single brick in that picture was delivered on time to men who knew what they were doing and who were concerned to do a good job. This bricks were laid in 1855 and are showing their age but are still watertight. To Sir John Bazalgette and his workforce, well done, guys.

Well, when I say "I'm writing" I mean that theoretically. I type a few words, sneer at them and do something else for a bit. Like write blog posts. The point is that the story got bogged down with minutiae in the soggy middle - the way they do - and my inner editor is shrieking about re-writing the bits that have got off message before I get any further off the point, but my commonsense reminds me that if I do that I'll probably never finish the damned thing.

Sod it. Let's have some more photos.

This is Eglwys Faen. I can see the above ground bits from my kitchen window. Not man made at all, it is part of a huge network of limestone caverns that extend around to the north of the Silurian coal fields. Very scary, very wet. Sadly not everyone who goes in has managed to get back out!

Here's the entrance to Agen Allwedd

Very heavily locked and this is why:

It's a deeply scary place. Ha! deeply - dija see what I did there?

*sigh* back to the sewer.

Ho Hum!

I'm astonished how long it is since i last updated. Frankly the past twelve months have been pants and I've run right out of oomph. I update the sort of serious semi-professional blog where I pretend I know what I'm doing but here is where I'm at least partially me and being me feels altogether too raw and vulnerable right now. So instead of nattering on about stuff I'm going to put on my wellies and dance in the mud with Wilfred while I listen to Seasick Steve.