The book club

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  • #138834 Reply
    Brydo

    I must admit I am not a big reader of books but it’s clear that some on the forum are.

    I could of course be tempted and no better time than now when we have very little to do.

    So I thought it would be interesting to hear from members their recommendations.

Viewing 25 replies - 76 through 100 (of 132 total)
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  • #144280 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Just started Death is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury. It’s one of his non-SF books, being the first in a series of three mystery novels set in Venice Ca at around 1950-ish. Very odd. His poetic style does not really suit the genre but perhaps I am being too traditional. Thought I had to try it anyway…

    #144304 Reply
    Georgie

    I have to confess that the only Bradbury books I’ve read are the ‘popular’ two – The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451.  Plus his short story I Sing the Body Electric after I heard the song of the same name in the film Fame, which had nothing to do with the Bradbury story but was just a good song to my 14-year-old self.  And yes, I did own several pairs of leg-warmers . . .

    🙂

    I do have all the Arthur C. Clarke Space Odyssey books though, plus several Philip K. Dick and (my personal favourite in this category) John Wynhams.  The original (1960) The Village of the Damned (based on The Midwich Cockoos) is right up there with Quatermass and the Pit for old fashioned b/w creepy.  Only ‘modern’ film I’ve seen that comes close is The Others.

     

    #144315 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    The Bradbury “mysteries” are completely new to me. Discovered them by accident looking for something else. Similarly, Isaac Asimov did a load of non-SF which are most enjoyable; written with a great sense of fun.

    Have read Clarke’s 2001 series. OK but not his best. For me that’s The City and The Stars set in the very far future. Marvellous ideas and an extraordinary sense of place – you feel you know what it is like to live in Diaspar, the future city in which it is based.

    #144348 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Okay, wrong about the Bradbury mysteries, at least this first one. Nearly half way through, he introduces one pretty major character and brings the whole thing alive. She is a retired, eccentric, reclusive 60yr-old silent-film actress. Lives alone in palatial mansion, pretending to be her own chauffeur and maid and a thousand other people. Enjoys herself doing this, and virtually everything else she can think of.

    The whole book suddenly started to live when she arrived. I, like far too many others, had made assumptions about the early events and characters. If it had been by anyone other than a Sci-Fi writer it would have been hailed as a great, worthy work. I’m sure Bradbury would have hated this.

    #144376 Reply
    Georgie

    This is starting to get (almost) annoying!  And expensive.  So – The Bookman Histories arrived yesterday and I took another look at the reviews on Amazon.  One of the reviewers mentioned that the characters in Bookman Histories range “from Rudyard Kipling to Robert Rankin.”  Kipling I know, and I know Rankin – except I was thinking of Ian Rankin, not Robert Rankin.

    It looks like Robert Rankin has written a whole bunch of ‘my kind of books’ – in the Jasper FForde, Toby Frost genre (The Sprouts of Wrath, Raiders of the Lost Car Park, Waiting for Godalming, The Brightonomicon being but a few alluring titles), which I now feel desirous of purchasing.  But I haven’t got all the Bryant & May’s yet!

    Woe!  Woe!  And thrice, Woe!  I wonder if it’s actually possible to break an Amazon Basket by overloading it . . .

    #144415 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Georgie, be careful with the Robert Rankin stuff. Somehow I have about ten or more of his books – no idea where they came from, charridy shop probably. Have not been terribly impressed with his work. Much of the same gags over and over again. Titles, as you say, alluring. Reality a bit underwhelming. My advice would be try one and see what you think. I found them rather flat; nowhere as charming as Fforde.

    Great pity I cannot get to send books to you;  it’d mean going into The Post Office which is just running alive with disease vectors! However, if you should at some time indulge yourself in an A272 excursion, an RV might be arranged?

    #144629 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Well, just finished the Bradbury and remain very impressed. Written on many levels and ever moving, funny and downright shocking in parts. Will definitely read the other two. Not sure where to go next.Have a (gift) copy of Massacre of Mankind – the recent sequel to War of the Worlds. It has the backing of Wells’ estate so I hope it might work. Author is Baxter who has done some good stuff.

    #144673 Reply
    Georgie

    Warning re. Rankin duly noted, Tharg.  Thanks for the ‘heads up’.

    In fact, I think I should just carry on with the serieses (the plural of ‘series, obviously) that I’m already committed to for a while, plus actually read at least some of the other books that I haven’t quite got to – my new copy of Shogun is looking at me with an air of neglect, clearly unaware that it’s only here because my previous copy finally fell to pieces due to repeat reading.  Ditto All the Rivers Run and Scouting for Boys.  Plus I now have the Bookman Histories to navigate, too. 🙂

    #144683 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Yup. Know what you mean. Have so much building up that I don’t know which to devour next. Nibbling at some Bradbury short stories while I work it out. That said, was so impressed with Death is a Lonely Business that am sorely tempted to get the other two in series.

    #145166 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Just started an odd one – Clockwork City by Paul Crilley. It was a title which popped up when I searched for novels about the Fae and the Glamour. Hmm. I suppose a quick way to describe it is as a Rivers of London type done on a big Hollywood film budget. Many similarities; young London Met’ detective, spirit guide dog (with very foul mouth). An Action Movie of a book. Bit too violent – not against violence per se, cf Polanski’s Macbeth, brilliant if very gory! This story just has a bit too many people and beings blowing up, losing heads, hearts ripped out etc. Fair cliche collection too, missing daughter, history of mental health issues and so on. More opinion later…

    Crilley is a also a comic writer and fan, mentions 2000AD a couple of times so he can’t be all bad!

     

     

     

     

     

    #145502 Reply
    Georgie

    Stories set in ‘Faery’ have, naturally, always been a bit of a draw for me, too.

    Which leads me neatly to asking – Have you read any of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher?  Wizard P.I. living and working in contemporary Chicago – murders, ghosts, kidnappings, possessions, werewolves, occasional trips to Faery to deal with the machinations of his ‘literal’ Fairy godmother.  He often works with the local Police Force as a ‘consultant’ that nobody actually believes (he has to pay the rent, just like everyone else), and his side-kick is the spirit of a 16th century reformed-ish necromancer named Bob who lives in his own skull . . .

    Good stuff!

    #145505 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Sounds quite brilliant, Georgie. Shall order forthwith. The Clockwork City is never less than entertaining, although I do have to skip over the really gory bits. Not through any sense of being offended – there’s really only so much dismembering, decapitating and vapourising than a chap can take before getting bored. Another annoying detail – he never describes the appearance of any female characters. (??)

    Almost feel like someone took Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London characters and added Hollywood bangs and crashes. Shame. Have I mentioned Rivers before? Really is a cracking series, got into it by accident. Hint of H Potter type magic normally turns me off but the lead character is an almost dead ringer for our son-in-law – uniform PC working out of Charing Cross nick, had to read it. Then just got hooked, along with two daughters!

    #145634 Reply
    Georgie

    I’ve never had any problem with “gory bits”, Tharg.  I have every season of The Walking Dead on DVD.  Though it’s really a character-driven show, finding new and interesting ways to deal with the ‘walkers’ (often cringe-worthy but sometimes also blackly funny) is part of the ‘fun’.  🙂

    On the other hand,I’m not sure if I want to support the perpetuation of one-dimensional female characters.  Hmm . . .  I’ve put Poison City and Clockwork City in the basket, but I may have higher priorities – as I said, I have’t got all the Bryant & Mays yet!

     

    #145640 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Fully with you on gory bits, Georgie. As I said, I reckon Polanski’s Macbeth does it wonderfully and it is integral to the story. Just found it a but repetitive in Clockwork City. Moreover, so much of it is hand-to-hand stuff with knives, swords etc., which can be just boring. Other reviews say that Poison City is not the best while praising the Clockwork version. Maybe consider doing the second first?

    Have started Dresden Files. Was a bit worried at first by the stock US novel/TV characters (worried, pert doxy in charge; smart-arse doubting Thomas etc.) Main character seems to be developing OK, though so I’ll overlook the cliches. Holds promise.

    Would be interested in your opinion of Clockwork if you get round to it. His female characters are certainly not one-dimensional, one is undead/revenant, another is a human-sized centuries-old rat, Mother London is a shape-changer who goes back millennia. They all have plenty to interest the reader. It’s  just that, for most of them, you are left guessing what they look like.

    #145705 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Okay, I finally get it with Dresden. Just accept its American nature. I can see a young James Garner in the lead role for TV series. Or, just as good, Michael Weatherly, from NCIS and Bull. He could do with a decent role to replace the formularised lawyer in the latter.

    #145813 Reply
    Georgie

    There was a very good TV series (which I also have on DVD) with British-US actor Paul Blackthorne as Dresden and I think he was pretty much perfectly cast.  They only made one season, unfortunately.  Probably didn’t appeal to the ‘right’ demographic.  A lot of great shows are lost before they really get going thanks to short-sighted TV executives, while other shows are dragged on waaay too long because they’re nice little earners . . .

    Still, I really am going to have to curtail my book-buying for a while: I’ve just ordered a new guitar, plus strings, stand, Snark tuner, cleaning cloth, cables . . .  I’ve only been playing for a week so I’m only getting a Squier Strat., but the old Rockwood I was going to use has pretty much had it, and wasn’t that great to begin with, so . . .

    https://www.andertons.co.uk/squier-fsr-bullet-stratocaster-ht-hss-sea-foam-green

    #145826 Reply
    Mike 700
    Participant

    Hey Georgie

    I was into pop from about age 12 I guess, and I saved up my pennies mainly in Tom Thumb Cigar tins, and when I had saved enough for the deposit on a guitar, I bought a new Fender Stratocaster in a sunburst colour , from the USA via a music shop in Cardiff, and which back in about 1961 cost about the same as a car , or so my Dad thought?

    I played regularly,  occasionally in a group, until I left school, and then I was off elsewhere , so I sold it , but I also had both a six and a twelve string acoustic guitar which I kept until some time after I was married .

    Many years later, I bought another new Stratocaster , this time a Plus , in Sonic Blue but because of my disability , it hardly left the case, and had only a couple of hours playing time on it when I eventually sold it – actually for considerably more than I paid for it ( it was advertised by the Music Store, who sold it for me, as the best used Strat they had ever come across )

    The wife has since bought me a Tanglewood semi acoustic , hoping that it would be a type of therapy for me, but after 2 years of trying, I still can’t play very much on it?

    I wrote a story in verse about the guitars –

     

    SIX STRINGS.

    When I was just a teenage lad
    Back home In Wales with my Mam and Dad
    I dreamed of many many things
    But mostly i dreamed about six strings

    So I went & bought me a Stratocaster
    Which was so expensive – nearly a financial disaster
    The cost was oh ever so blinking much
    My Dad a said ‘how much ‘? We’ll definitely ‘go Dutch’

    I practised so hard on my posh shiny guitar
    Hoping one day i’d become a big star
    Well one Thomas Jones I did once follow
    At the local club, in some sleepy hollow

    Of course He wasn’t famous in those days
    Laughing & joking even while singing, what silly ways
    Yeah Tommy Scott and his Senator gang
    Had lots of fun and occasionally sang

    But then I gave it all up for a different thing
    and anyway I freely admit that I couldn’t sing
    many years and more went by
    With some travels by car & some in the sky

    Then in 95 I bought another shiny Fender
    The wife said what? ” you been on a bender ”
    I could have a new lounge carpet for that sort of price
    after all the arguing she lost on the toss of the dice

    In 2013 my Strat Plus guitar was still looking like new
    Shiny and bright in an unmarked “Sonic Blue ”
    But as that dirty rat Parkinson came on me to call
    By then I could hardly play it at all

    But never mind eh. it’s worth quite a bit they all did say
    So I thought I would sell it on the local flea bay
    A valuer called from that London Street ‘Denmark ‘
    But it was the Local music shop which sold it for me, oh what a lark

    So all was not lost, ‘cause it went to a good home
    And anyway it was the inspiration for this feeble poem
    And I learned that even though disability can sometimes be very tough
    There can be some smooth mixed in with that little bit of rough

     

     

    VW Tiguan SEL in Silver White.

    #145827 Reply
    Mike 700
    Participant

    Another fellow Volvo driver who has come to writing latish in life is Joe Harding. Recommend his books on Amazon. The Swordsman of Calais. Death in the Last Carriage Timescope

     

     

    Joe has a new book out, on Kindle etc

     

     

     

    VW Tiguan SEL in Silver White.

    #145854 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Georgie, the Strat’ looks like a serious instrument. Enjoy (but don’t stop reading 📚 😊)

    #145871 Reply
    Georgie

    A major part of the ‘learning guitar’ thing is that I have to see if my body will even co-operate long enough to let me do it.  I had to give up playing the piano because my back won’t stay upright unsupported for long enough now, but trial and error suggests that I can handle a guitar for longer if I sit on a sprung-seated, sprung-backed dining chair because I can lean back for support while staying sufficiently upright.  Plus, I can practice certain aspects like two-chord changes sitting in my armchair.

    The Rockwood I started on is the guitar my DH bought from Argos . . . 30+ years ago as part of a bundle – guitar, amp and lead, all for £80.  Having spent the last 30 years neglected in a corner of the junk room it crackles a lot and it goes out of tune as soon as you look at it because the machine heads slip.  Thus, the new ‘good but inexpensive’ Squier until we know for certain that I can stay the course.  I have inherited DH’s retired Fender Amp, though, which saved some pennies. 🙂

    It might work or it might not.  But why not give it a shot?

    And, of course, I’m not going to stop reading, Tharg.  I’m just having to stop buying for a while.  From where I’m sitting I can see a couple more Bryant and Mays, The Bookman Histories, Marrying Off Mother, the three Mortal Engines prequels, The Master and Margarita, the entire Expanse series – all unread.  It’s shocking!  And I’m not even looking very hard . . .

    😀

    #145903 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Brilliant, Georgie. Nothing holds you back does it! No piano? OK, I’ll do the axe instead. So not only do we have biker bird, she’s doubling as axe-chick! Well done, my friend!

    #145919 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    Sorry if my replies have been short and infrequent over past few days. One of our tortoises died very suddenly in a most un-tortoise-like manner and the funeral arrangements was most upsetting. Done now, very sad.

    Have to say I’m most envious of your musical activity. Would love to be learn guitar but am absolute crap at the repeated practice stuff. Tried once with acoustic instrument. Loved doing all the twiddly Knopfler-style finger-picking (if that’s the right phrase) but didn’t stick with it. Would have loved to do the rock-band thing. But could only have done the singing – was in days when voice still worked and was used on classics from Walton to Handel. Couldn’t manage much more than a gruff blues rumble now, I’m afraid. 😎

    #145933 Reply
    Georgie

    Sorry to hear about the tortoise, Tharg.  I won’t speculate, but you have my sympathy.

    {{Tharg and Mrs Tharg}}

    And what is wrong with a gruff Blues rumble, prithee?  Ian Siegal – “With a voice so gravelly and raspy, he makes Tom Waits sound like a choir boy, Siegal bridges the gap between the past and the future of the blues.”  And there are plenty of Rock and Roll vocalists who sound like they gargle with nails.  Don’t hide your light under a bushel (or any other Medieval measure of dry grain) – You might be an undiscovered Rock Legend.  🙂

    Anyway, it took DH 3 goes before he finally got hooked enough to stick out the early stuff, but now he’s still enjoying it after almost 3 years.  It certainly comes in handy having someone to hand who has already found a few of the pit falls and knows how to let me bypass them – e.g. when one of the strings wasn’t tuning up a couple of days ago and I thought it was a problem with the tuning key, but it was actually the string binding slightly to the notch in the nut.  Applying a bit of graphite to the notch using a 2B pencil sorted it in no time.

    Really looking forward to my first guitar.  Delivery still a whole week away at the earliest!

    #145994 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    And talking of good blues voices, Tom Jones deserves a mention. Just listened to his rendition of Please Make a Change on Hugh Laurie’s blues/soul/spiritual /etc album Let Them Talk. Really very good and so much better than the so-called “popular” numbers for which he is known. Grieves me to say it because he is not a very nice chap. Never met him meself but Mrs T interviewed him years back and did not come away with a good impression (he typed with extensive understatement!).

    To learn an instrument I guess you’ve got to really want to play it. Only thing that gets me like that are the big-bloke seriously large full-orchestra cymbals. Would so like to do the two cymbal notes in Bridge Over Troubled Water as the accompaniment goes from solo piano to full orchestra. One of the best moments in any music, ever!

    #146052 Reply
    Tharg
    Participant

    About a third of the way through The Great Game, part three of Bookman. You will not be disappointed!

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