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Partick Potter

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The Name Of The Rose
The Name Of The Rose
Price: £4.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning piece of writing, 28 July 2016
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This book is seriously hard work - but worth it. Just about. Eco takes you back in time to the early 14th century and a Europe in disarray as competing factions fight out whether or not Jesus owned the shirt on his back (sort of). The murder mystery that forms the backbone of this book is set in an imposing monestary high in the mountains, home to a treasury of literature and an increasing body count that the principle characters are tasked with sorting out.

In large part the writing is simply stunning. Utterly absorbing. But in many places, Eco indulges himself with long rambling narratives that serve no great purpose. He seems to have a passion for reeling off long lists of almost anything which don't advance the story in any way. An editors cutting scissors would have been helpful.

The result is a book that is both utterly absorbing and difficult to get into. A paradox the author I'm sure would be content with.


Original Rude Boy: From Borstal to the Specials: A Life of Crime and Music
Original Rude Boy: From Borstal to the Specials: A Life of Crime and Music
Price: £4.31

3.0 out of 5 stars Hard Living, Hard Loving, Hard Reading, 15 July 2016
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There's a great story in here - sadly the man and his writing get in the way. The story of the rise of a young man from his Jamaican roots through a troubled teenhood in the UK to pop superstardom in one of the music industry's most iconic bands is engrossing. However, integral to this book is the man himself. Three words describe him: Me, Me and Me.

I got the message in the first few pages of the book that his life is about fighting (he's the toughest kid on the block) and sex (he's the biggest lover on the block). But the book continuously repeats tales of his pursuits in both these endeavours. Which is rather dull. His reasoning for his tedious, inconsiderate behaviour is he is a rude boy - a product of his Jamaican roots. I wasn't convinced. He just comes across as a bit of a w****r.

Add to that a conversational writing style that simply irritates - I lost count of how many times he'd introduce a subject only to say "more of that later".

I really thought I was going to enjoy this book. And parts of it were excellent. But there's a lot of nonsense and poor writing to endure to get to the good parts. I'd say it's just about worth it - but only just. Hopefully there's another book on the Specials out there that tells the story far better than this book. The story of the Coventry SKA phenomenon deserves better than this effort.


What Milo Saw
What Milo Saw
Price: £4.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Going through the motions, 11 July 2016
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This review is from: What Milo Saw (Kindle Edition)
Poorly written. Full of stereotypes. Ropey plot. It reads like the sort of thing a publisher might write having decided these authors types are just over rated; take a little of Curious Incident, overlay a heart string pulling refugee story with a wicked witch of the rest (home) and over cook till it boils into a tasteless, shapeless mess.

Best sticking with the real thing like the aforementioned Dog in the Night-time or Shadow by Michael Morpurgo for a children's tale of a boy, a pet and a refugee or if you want an adult novel in the same area, try the excellent This Is Where I Am by Karen Campbell

Whatever you do - avoid this book.


Going Commando
Going Commando
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Get Some In, 7 July 2016
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This review is from: Going Commando (Kindle Edition)
A refreshingly honest, excellently written account of a 16 year old's experience of training to join the Royal Marine Commandos. No macho posturing from the author - rather a tale of doubt, uncertainty and no little amount of courage. The domestic back story is both compelling and heart wrenching. I know it's tough up north, but some folk have it really tough - even by Yorkshire standards.

I'll certainly be reading the further adventures of Mr Time.


Autobiography of Malcolm X
Autobiography of Malcolm X
by X Malcolm
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, 4 July 2016
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A fascinating story and a valuable account of an important 20th century figure. It shows us a driven, disturbed, dynamic young man of tremendous intelligence and resilience which left me wondering what might have been if he had not been murdered before he reached the peak of his powers.

His journey from a (relatively) happy childhood through turbulent adolescence into a man of history is compelling. We learn of the terrible traumas that shaped his life including the break-up of his family following the racist murder of his father and the subsequent (state induced) breakdown of his mother and the belittling career advice he received at school. We follow him through his teen years as a fast living zoot suited novice gangster with his hair suitably “conked” that leads inevitability to jail where he encounters Elijah Muhammad and converts to Islam.

His journey in Islam is fascinating; first he is obsessed with Elijah Mohammed’s teachings which he sees as capturing the struggle of the black man in white supremacist 1950s America then, as his relationship with Elijah deteriorates, he has a further development in his thinking while on the Hajj to Mecca where he experiences people sharing a common cause (Islam) regardless of the colour of the skin.

It’s a shame the book is not particularly well written. I think Haley let down Malcolm X by not using his skills as an author (evident, of course, in Roots) to provide better focus to what Malcolm X is looking to say. What we get instead, particularly in the polemic sections of the book that dominate the second part of the autobiography, is writing that comes across as streams of consciousness. As such it is, at times, repetitive, lacking in clarity and somewhat stodgy to read. You can imagine Malcolm X, in his interviews with Hayley that form the basis of this book, letting rip. That, of itself, is interesting. But it doesn’t make the best reading!

Overall though, I’d put this in the a list of “must read” books for its insight into an important (and fascinating) person at a pivotal time in 20th century American history.


Flash for Freedom! (The Flashman Papers, Book 5)
Flash for Freedom! (The Flashman Papers, Book 5)
Price: £6.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Educated and Entertained, 23 Jun. 2016
I'm gradually re-reading the Flashman books in a Kindle compendium and thoroughly enjoying the experience. Flash for Freedom is a roller coaster ride of adventure and misfortune in the appalling setting of late 19th century black American slavery. GMF pulls no punches in his description of the conditions of the time and the attitudes towards slavery including Flashman's typically self centred self serving approach. I guess it could make for uncomfortable reading for someone new to the Flashman series of books, but for me it shows the genius of the author combining a cracking story with important historical context. Educate and entertain indeed.


Killing Pablo: The True Story Behind the Hit Series 'Narcos'
Killing Pablo: The True Story Behind the Hit Series 'Narcos'
Price: £5.69

4.0 out of 5 stars Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, 17 Jun. 2016
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A fascinating look at one of the world's most notorious bad guys who wreaked havoc in his native country and became public enemy number one in America as the principle supplier of the tidal wave of cocaine that flooded the USA in the 80s and 90s.

The author provides a dispassionate assessment of both Escobar and the men, Columbian and American, who hunted him down. You are left to draw your own ethical conclusions - particularly in regards the vigilante group with close links to the Military who decide non-judicial action is the only way to get to Escobar, not to mention the playboy himself who has a decadent life style not disturbed by randomly killing anyone he disagrees with or who he believes poses a threat.

The only criticism I have of the book is it loses its way for some time in the middle of the story. It was something of a slog at times. Well worth persevering though. It's an important story.


The Uncommon Reader
The Uncommon Reader
Price: £4.70

5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy!, 8 Jun. 2016
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A wonderful read. Beautifully written. I know the author from his tv plays has an incredible talent in describing the small things in life. In this short story his observations of Royal life are portrayed with his characteristic precision, insight and gentle humour. A book written by someone who clearly loves books for people, like me, who love reading books.


The Best of Our Spies
The Best of Our Spies
Price: £2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 8 Jun. 2016
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Really thought I was going to enjoy this book but the further I read the less I liked it; it was a real struggle getting through to an underwhelming conclusion. The book started promisingly, a good tempo, some interesting characters and an interesting plot but all of these diminished as the book progressed; the second half of the book was turgid and unconvincing. Also, far too many typos. A shame.


Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe
Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, 29 May 2016
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Two stories in one novel; first the lives and loves of a small community centred on one family in Whistle Stop, a one cafe town just outside Birmingham, Alabama during the depression and secondly the tale of a late middle aged woman struggling to come to terms with life in 1980s America. The stories intertwine seemlessley and are told with a combination of gentle humour and vivid description. The book covers some serious topics such as domestic abuse, murder and racism with a gentle but firm touch. It's an understated style of writing that binds you closer and closer to the story the further into the book you get.


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