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I've just smashed my way through Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

 

I say "smashed" because it is tough going. The story centres on the relationship between an alcoholic mother and her gay son. Its not exactly a barrel of laughs, but it is beautifully written and the characters have you willing them on, hoping they will triumph.

 

Spoiler: they don't. But it is well worth a read.

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Not currently reading but recently finished: 'I Wanna be Yours' by John Cooper Clarke. [Oops! Sorry: Dr John Cooper Clarke.]

 

A memoir, not an autobiography. I enjoyed it because I got a lot of the references (people/places/things). It became a tad tedious towards the end though when the focus was on his need to score all the time (well, he was hanging out with Bernard Manning, Nico and Elvis Costello), but overall for me an engaging and light read. I had previously read 'Nico, Songs They Never Play on the Radio' (James Young), so there was a connection.

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11 hours ago, horribleblob said:

Not currently reading but recently finished: 'I Wanna be Yours' by John Cooper Clarke. [Oops! Sorry: Dr John Cooper Clarke.]

 

A memoir, not an autobiography. I enjoyed it because I got a lot of the references (people/places/things). It became a tad tedious towards the end though when the focus was on his need to score all the time (well, he was hanging out with Bernard Manning, Nico and Elvis Costello), but overall for me an engaging and light read. I had previously read 'Nico, Songs They Never Play on the Radio' (James Young), so there was a connection.

I read that a few months ago.

 

It was fun, but his poems are better. I agree with the tedious comment, it did go on a bit

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In between books, so, picked up two paperbacks, no doubt from a car boot some time ago.

Tyrant of the Alp's Jim Kent. Looks to be a bit of a collectors item, 1st edition 60c (Australian).

Usual WW2 war time, American hero comes to the rescue of scantily clad ladies from the ever so naughty Nazi's, rubbish.

 

Red Terror and Green. Richard Dawson.

Slightly different fare from the usual 'New English Library' pulp fiction.

First published in 1920 this 1972 1st edition paperback explains the beginnings of the unrest in Ireland.

Allowing for when this was first published and the biased to one side, the book is never or less an excellent insight,

not spoilt by it including how the escalation of violence progressed over the years.

 

Haven't read a cartoon strip book for years but bought a copy of 'the Broons' and 'oor Wullie' 1939-1945 the war years.

The PC brigade would be up in arms with some of the subject matter throughout.

Giving a bairn a dead paddock (Toad) t' play with, giving the headmaster a parcelled up dead cat as the bit of a jape, or seeing Wullie Axe and large knife in hand off to despatch the Christmas Turkey off, were everyday fun.

Saying that, were they any worse than todays violent computer games.

 

Keep safe out there 8)

 

 

 

 

 

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Here's my November reading, not got through as many as usual though for some reason.

 

Nicholas Bentley - The floating Dutchman. Undercover cop investigates fencing of stolen jewels (among other crimes) in dodgy London nightclub. Bentley was the son of E. C. Bentley (of clerihew fame) and is probably better known as an illustrator and cartoonist rather than as a writer, but I found this a pretty decent effort.

Carolyn Weston - Rouse the demon. The third of three police procedurals featuring contrasting detectives Al Krug and Casey Kellog. Trendy psychotherapist specialising in addiction battered to death, with ex-junkies the obvious suspects. Or is there more to it? Apparently her books inspired the TV series Streets of San Francisco (remember that?).

John Sherwood - Green trigger fingers. Gardener Celia Grant unearths a corpse in the flower bed. Cosy village mystery with a horticultural flavour that I rather enjoyed. Dreadful title though.

John Sherwood - Bones gather no moss. Celia Grant recommends an acquaintance for the job of cataloguing some botanical drawings in a French chateau, but then goes to investigate when the woman is killed. Didn't think this one was quite as good as the last.

Eric Wright - A single death. Toronto cop Charlie Salter investigates the death of a woman looking for love in the singles market. Good.

Richard Osman - The man who died twice. It's entertainingly written as you might expect, but if you thought the first one was pretty far-fetched, this one is even more so. Comfort reading really, like comfort food - the literary equivalent of a cup of tea and a nice sit down.

Gareth L. Powell - Embers of war. Sentient starship Trouble Dog is sent to rescue survivors when a ship attacked at a planet-sized artefact called The Brain. Excellent fast-moving space opera by Bristol-base SF writer Powell; first of a trilogy.

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Just started The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling, after very much enjoying The Cuckoo's Calling (though I guessed the murderer quite early on).

 

Also reading The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean.  This is exactly my cup of tea so far; it takes me right back to the early 80s and scaring my 10 year old self silly with tales of Borley Rectory and spontaneous human combustion from The Unexplained magazine, lonely water public information films and watching Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World on the tele.

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Finished The Apparition Phase.  The first third is brilliant - chilling and creepy, but when the story decamps to the apparently haunted country house (by means which made my disbelief clatter down from its suspended state) it loses some of its evocative eeriness.  It's still a great story well told, and suitably disturbing in places, but intriguing characters are abandoned for ones that are a little flat, and the story relies a little too much on convenient coincidences.  And I know it's to be expected in ghost stories but the many loose ends left flapping in this tale are particularly frustrating. 

 

I found the book ultimately really quite depressing, which wasn't what I expected at all.

 

 

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Just finished Shuggie Bain. It's a long book but I did enjoy it. Now reading Freddy Flintoff book of Fred which i'm enjoying.

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As if I haven't enough books, was given over four suitcases of the things from a house clearance.

(That's Christmas presents sorted :thumbsup:).

 

The history of Harthill by H Garbett. 301 pages.

 

Ok its not Sheffield, but what an excellent , local history book it turned out to be.

Written by Mr Garbett in the mid 1940's and published in 1950 this 1st edition book, really is a wealth of information.

Detailing on how the small village  of Harthill-w-Woodall & its hamlet at the time, Kiveton Park developed.

Pre Roman times as can be expected are a little sketchy although there was a Roman settlement at the nearby settlement of 'Wales'.

Mr Garbett's  enthusiasm for his village and retaining its history and values shines throughout the book.

Chromicised from the pre Roman, Roman, Saxon, Norman (including being mentioned in the 'Doomsday book) up to how the industrial age altered village life (can you believe, there were villagers who didn't want Street lights installing in the village?).

Who was the reigning monarch or who was the major land owner at the time all help making sense of how the village fared over the years.

Despite the destruction around the time of Oliver Cromwell enough local history all ready chronicled survived for Mr Garbett to piece together a very interesting book.

The small community nature where every body knows everybody's family history, legends and secrets shine through.

Professions, usually confirmed by surnames, (Cooper, Smyth, Mason etc)  passed down from one generation in many cases to the next, made this place  self sufficient (I'd insert 'almost', but reading the book the claim that it was self sufficient can be justified).  

Part of the advantage of this book, Mr Garbett would have been interviewing  people in their 80's so (born in the 1800's) their knowledge of how the landscape had changed along with the  knowledge passed down from their parents of confirm how the village altered over time with some amazing detail.

 

Has to go down as one of the best books of its kind I've read.

 

Keep safe - read well 8)

 

For further reading of Harthill's most famous contributor to British history check out the link below. 

 

www.historylearningsite.co.uk/stuart-england/earl-of-danby/ 

 

Earl of Danby - History Learning Site

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Tearaways

(more gangs of Liverpool 1890-1970)

Michael Macilwee.

 

I needed something for some research and this book turned out to be just the thing.

 

Most disturbing throughout  including similarities to cases decades later, including the Bulger killing. 

Excellent book, fully recommended.

 

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On ‎02‎/‎12‎/‎2021 at 21:09, Hecate said:

Finished The Apparition Phase.  The first third is brilliant - chilling and creepy, but when the story decamps to the apparently haunted country house (by means which made my disbelief clatter down from its suspended state) it loses some of its evocative eeriness.  It's still a great story well told, and suitably disturbing in places, but intriguing characters are abandoned for ones that are a little flat, and the story relies a little too much on convenient coincidences.  And I know it's to be expected in ghost stories but the many loose ends left flapping in this tale are particularly frustrating. 

 

I found the book ultimately really quite depressing, which wasn't what I expected at all.

 

 

Just started reading this, am really enjoying it.

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15 minutes ago, Mister M said:

Just started reading this, am really enjoying it.

I did too.  I didn't sound too enthusiastic about the latter two thirds, because it wasn't quite what I was expecting, but it is genuinely creepy. Would love to know what you think of it when you've finished.

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