Friday, 2 June 2017

2017 Reading, Part Three

Once again I've got through another six books. There are two authors new to me amongst them this time, some old favourites and some older books that I've only just read for the first time.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Briggs first came to my attention when a film crew complete with big name actors like Samuel L Jackson turned up here in Blackpool filming in and outside Blackpool Tower on the Promenade. Once the film came out we watched it and I enjoyed the story. The book is aimed at a young adult audience and doesn't quite follow the full narrative of the film - Blackpool seemed sadly missing for instance - but I have the follow-up book out of the library at the moment so more next time! The book has a wonderful collection of photos along the lines of the one on the cover - people seemingly performing impossible feats, or in surprising and bizarre costumes.

Private Eye Mike Hammer is the hero of this "pulp fiction" tale from Mickey Spillane. Fast moving, violent, full of sexy women and shadowy thugs it is the second of three books in a trilogy that I bought recently in a cut price book shop in Kendal. You can imagine Bogart playing the main role. Sam Spade, Mike Hammer... same mould!

This was somewhat unexpected. We sadly lost my uncle in March and whilst sorting through his house I came across this. I recognised it because of the Aardman animated film, which I enjoyed watching, though again the film is somewhat different than the book. Certainly Charles Darwin comes out a far better character in the book than in the film and Queen Victoria doesn't even get a look in!

In the 17th book following the adventures of 14th century Cambridge scholar and physician Matthew Bartholomew we find Matthew, Senior Proctor Brother Michael and other colleagues travel to York to secure a inheritance that has been left to them. However they find that there is opposition to their claim and almost as soon as they arrive a local man engaged in conversation with Matt is shot with a crossbow in broad daylight. The scholars have to solve not only this crime but others before their time in York is to come to an end. Once again a wonderful story, with lots of misleading clues and red herrings to negotiate, leaving the end denouement to come as a surprise.

The Last Kingdom has become a much-followed TV series with the second series having aired (I haven't seen it yet!) since I read the previous book. In fact the entire series of books that has been previously known as the Making of England series or The Saxon Chronicles has now been retitled as The Last Kingdom series on the back of the popularity of the TV series. I must get round to watching series 2...

This last week we were walking along the river front at Fleetwood to get some buttons from the market and I saw a sign for a book sale. I used to love Harold Robbins books - I suspect most schoolboys of my era did - and I'd never even heard of this particular book before so I shelled out 50p and gave it a go. It returns to the world of movie making, which was a popular topic for Robbins in such books as The Carpetbaggers. This follows a script writer who wants to be a book writer through adventures from New York to Hollywood, to glamorous places like Cannes and St Tropez. I'm sure sex has been a popular pasttime throughout history, but my own recollections of the days before widespread availability of the pill are somewhat more tame than this book would have you believe... Perhaps I had a deprived adolescence...

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