The Gone Novels, by Michael Grant

There are nine in all. Self heard about them only a few weeks ago, when she was in London. She went to the London Review Bookshop and on the lower floor, where Charles sits, was a stack of colorful paperbacks. She picked up one, and it had a blurb by Stephen King. As soon as she got home, she checked out two of the series, the only two that were available from her local library.

She started with Plague, Gone # 4: It’s been eight months since all the adults disappeared. GONE . . .

The kids are all alone (Self thinks: well, at least they’re in a California beach town, not in some arena). It has a sort of Lord of the Flies vibe (i.e. dystopian), but with drinking and sex (Yes, sex between American teens is a given, or at least it was until the current era).

One teen develops a parasitic infection. It appears there’s a hive of biting insects that lives in his shoulder: EEEEUWWWW) Others develop a coughing sickness.

Three girls, all named Jennifer (LOL) have banded together in a house. One of the Jennifers dies. Here’s a conversation between the two remaining Jennifers:

“Jen . . . I’m going to . . . hospital.”

No answer.

“Are you alive?”

Jennifer L. coughed, she wasn’t dead, and she coughed normally, not the crazy spasms that had killed Jennifer H. But she didn’t answer.

So Jennifer Boyles set off, on her own. She slid on her butt down the stairs, blankets gathered around her. Shivering, teeth chattering.

She managed to stand long enough to reach the front door and open it. But she sat down again very unexpectedly on the porch. Hard on her butt. She sat there shaking until the chills passed.

She tripped walking down the porch stairs. The fall bruised her left knee badly. This destroyed the last of her will to stand up. But not the last of her will to live.

Jennifer began to crawl. Hands and knees. Down the sidewalk. Impeded by her blankets. Delayed by coughing fits. Pausing whenever the chills rattled her so hard she could only moan and hack and roll onto her side.

“Keep going,” she muttered. “Gotta keep going.”

It took her two hours to crawl as far as Brace Road.

Plague, pp. 42- 43

This is good stuff!

Stay tuned.

Share Your Desktop – June 2022

Self just returned from a loooong trip overseas: Northern Ireland, London, and Oxford. It was her first overseas trip in three years.

In 2020, The Penn Club closed its doors forever, ending 100 years in its Bloomsbury location. Self mourned! This building was her home-away-from-home whenever she was in London. A haven. Just off Russell Square.

As soon as she got to London, in early May, she rushed to Bedford Place. She found that the building remained unchanged: the red door even seemed freshly painted. She walked right up to the door and peered through the glass: she saw the narrow lobby, the stairs leading to the upper floors.

She took a picture of the main entrance: who knows if it will still be there, the next time she’s in London:

Posting this for Clare’s Cosmos’ Share Your Desktop Challenge.

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge (CMMC), 3rd Wednesday in June, 2022

This week’s CMMC is: Pick a topic from Cee’s photo.

Possible topics frame within a photo, window, square, silhouette, restaurant, bushes, trees, table chair, green, red, brown, parked, vehicles, looking through, etc. What else can you come up with?

Have fun this week.

Topics self picked up on: trees, green, red

She took this picture at the end of May. She was on a walk with Old Map Man. We met at Trafalgar Square and walked to the foot of the Jubilee Bridge on the Victoria Embankment.

Self loves these embankments. Her love of London grew with her awareness of them: Southbank because of the Millenium Bridge, anchored at one end by the Tate Modern and at the other by a narrow funnel to St. Paul’s.

Recently, she’s become more aware of the Victoria Embankment: more staid than Southbank, but so historic! Samuel Pepys’s house is on the Victoria Embankment.

Self wondered aloud how old these embankments were. Old Map Man said, mid-19th century. Wow! All this time, she thought they were constructions of modern London.

Later, it began to POUR, so the walk had to end rather abruptly.

I’m a Fan of . . . BOOKS!

Posting for the “I’m a Fan Of” Challenge hosted by Jez.

I love reading books and reading about books. Some of my favorite places in the whole world are bookstores. Here are a couple of photos from my most recent trip:

City Sonnet’s Colors and Letters Challenge, June 9

Today’s prompt is: VIBRANT RED.

See how to join citysonnet’s colors and letters challenge, here.

Self’s photo is: Window Box, East London (near Bethnal Green)

Water, Water Everywhere: Thames River (View from Donnington Bridge During the Annual Oxford Crew Races)

Thanks to Jez for hosting the Water, Water Everywhere Challenge.

Self loves the lore of the Thames. She loves the Embankments in London: Southbank, with the National Theatre and Waterloo Station and the Tate Modern. And the Victoria Embankment, with the Jubilee Bridge and that view of the London Eye. The Thames has quite a different aspect in Oxford. There, it has boats and punts and rowers.

There’s a big event that occurs annually, end of May: the crew races where teams from all the Oxford colleges compete against each other. This was the vantage point from Donnington Bridge.

She had no idea until that day that crew was so grueling. As the boats skimmed beneath the bridge, she could hear grunts. Loud grunts. Which was so at odds with the graceful way the boats skim the water. There are shouts, too, from a person at the front of the boat (the one who steers, holding two lines) who has a whistle and keeps up a constant stream of encouraging cries like “Come on!” She’s sorry that the boats were moving so fast (they cleared the bridge in seconds) that, even though she pointed her camera straight down into the individual boats, everything was really blurred.

Thursday Trios: British Museum and Hackney Road

This post is about exhibit banners (at the British Museum) and store window mannequins.

In her explorations of East London, self discovered Wall and Jones. It’s a clothing and jewelry shop on Hackney Road, across from Hackney City Farm, that sells the most lovely, unique items. Beautiful jewelry by Eve, clothes by Ali Wall.

Posting for Mama Cormier’s Thursday Trios.

Last Photo on the Card Challenge, May 2022

Took this picture yesterday evening, on the Great Western 18:28 from Paddington Station. It had been a long, full day in London. It started with lining up at 10 a.m. to enter the National Gallery, being thrilled by the greatness of Raphael, meeting Old Map Man for a walk along Craven Street to the Victoria Embankment, getting sloshed by a terrific thunderstorm, taking refuge in Waterstones on Trafalgar Square, arriving in London Review Bookshop dripping wet, heading straight to the lower floor, finding a book to buy (three inches thick, oh no!), then training back to Oxford.

Thanks to Bushboy’s Last Photo on the Card Challenge, self can pay proper tribute to an extraordinary day.

Train Reading: London Review of Books, 9 June 2022

Migration is a self-splitting, one note observes; it’s “psychotic to live in a different country for ever.”

— Peter Howarth, in his review of Bhanu Kapil’s poetry collection How to Wash a Heart, “poems addressing the wealthy liberal woman who has taken the speaker, an artist whose immigration status is precarious, into her house.”

Perhaps I can write here again.
A ‘fleeting sense of possibility.’ — K

Whatsoever Is Lovely Challenge: Raphael

Xingfu Mama’s Whatsoever Is Lovely Challenge asks:

  • What was lovely in your life this week?

Today, self was at the National Gallery in London to see the Raphael exhibit. It was magnificent. In particular, this self-portrait. Because if Raphael really did look like that (the man in front), WOWEEE. Am I right?

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