27 Mar 2015

TOUGH TIMES & GRISLY CRIMES; A HISTORY OF CRIME IN NORTHUMBERLAND AND COUNTY DURHAM.


Take Control 2015
The sixth book read in my 2015 Take Control Of Your TBR Pile challenge.


TOUGH TIMES & GRISLY CRIMES; A HISTORY OF CRIME IN NORTHUMBERLAND AND COUNTY DURHAM by NIGEL GREEN.

BOOK BLURB (AMAZON.CO.UK): Presents a history of crimes and individual criminals, from Northumberland and Durham county, from around 1700 1945.

SOURCE: Given to me by a friend, thanks Jimmy.

FIRST SENTENCE {Introduction}: The dark side of human nature has always held a deep fascination.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 10}: Newcastle was also notorious for lawlessness in the 18th century.
The preacher John Wesley visited the city in 1742. He wrote: 'I was surprised; so much drunkenness, cursing and swearing - even from the mouths of little children do I never remember to have seen and heard before.'

MY THOUGHTS: Some wonderful facts and figures into the punishments - the jailings, the sending to the stocks, the hangings, the 'Riding the Stang'*, the transporting to America/Australia - meted out to the men, women and, yes, even child 'criminals' of eighteenth/nineteenth/twentieth century Northumberland and Co Durham made all the more fascinating because its my part of the world.

Looking at 'crimes' such as murder, highway robbery, grave robbing, domestic violence, prostitution and child cruelty Tough Times & Grisly Crimes is full of amazing original black and white photographs and illustrations - the faces of 'juvenile delinquents' (Jane Downey, 14; Joseph Oxley, 11 amongst others) their crimes (stealing clothes, taking blankets, sheets and a cruet stand respectively) displayed on boards held in front of them incredibly powerful and moving.

Whilst I found the longer accounts gave a fascinating insight into the people, places and events of that time (the shorter snippets some of which were only a sentence or two long less so) I felt the poor editing, and in particular the layout, could be vastly improved.

* 'A punishment often given to people who had upset their neighbours in one way or another. 
The victim was caught by the mob and strapped to a pole or plank, before being paraded through the town.
He or she would have rubbish and filth poured over them, as well as being punched, kicked, ridiculed and spat on by anyone who bore a grudge. Doubtless others joined in simply for the fun of it.
The procession was always accompanied by a group singing and banging kettles, frying pans or any similar metal objects that could make a loud noise'.
- Tough Times & Grisly Crimes, page 9: A Law Unto Themselves.


25 Mar 2015

PRIVATE LONDON.


Take Control 2015
WHAT'S IN A NAME 2015The fifth book read in my 2015 Take Control Of 
Your TBR Pile challenge and the third for the What's In A Name? 2015 challenge: A city category.  

PRIVATE LONDON (PRIVATE #2) by JAMES PATTERSON & MARK PEARSON.

SOURCE: Ex-library stock.

BACK COVER BLURB: For Hannah Shapiro, a beautiful American student, this particular nightmare began eight years ago in Los Angeles, when Jack Morgan, owner of Private - the world's most exclusive detective agency - saved her from a horrific death. She has fled her country, but can't flee her past. The terror has followed her to London, and now it is down to former Royal Military Police Sergeant Dan Carter, head of Private London, to save her all over again.

Carter draws on the global resources of Private in a desperate race against the odds. But the clock is ticking .... Private may be the largest and most advanced detection agency in the world, but the only thing they don't have is the one thing they need - time.

FIRST SENTENCE {Part One: Chapter One}: Hannah Shapiro was having a wonderful day.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 365}: There was a chopping block on the desk and a white handkerchief was laid neatly next to it.

MY THOUGHTS: Implausible plot? Yes but within the bounds of realistic - though sometimes only just. 

Cheesy dialogue? Without a doubt and yet this only somehow adds to the books overall wit and, in the case of main character, Dan Carter, his charm which is odd given that it verges on the sexist .... not normally something that endears a character to me.

OK so whilst arguably not a work of literary genius Private London is nevertheless a highly readable, page turner of a novel (made even more so by its incredibly short 116 chapters?) that despite it being the second book in a series is perfectly coherent as a standalone read.

With twists and turns aplenty - some of which I saw coming, others not. Not too action packed as to detract from the overall story and not as grisly as many others of its type. Private London is doubtlessly good value in that you get what is essentially two stories - the main one and a sub-plot. And yet, making for a slightly disjointed read that sometimes left me feeling a bit lost off, this is the one thing that I didn't particularly like about a book that I otherwise thought to be a satisfying read perfect for those nights when you can't sleep.


24 Mar 2015

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.


The 4th book read for my 2015 Take Control Of Your TBR Pile challenge.




A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES (ALL SOULS #1) by DEBORAH HARKNESS.

SOURCE: Received as a gift a few years ago.

INNER FRONT COVER BLURB: When historian Diana Bishop finds an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it's an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life.Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. (Read more by clicking on book title)

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter 1}: The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable. 

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 110}: 'In what way did I not kill her? I took her life, her identity, her vitality - that's death, Hamish.'

MY THOUGHTS:  

  • A latte-loving daemon?
  • A vampire who rather than needing to be 'invited in' waits for a window to be left open? 
  • A vampire who not only doesn't turn to a pile of ashes in sunlight but who 'liked to bask in its glow'?
  • A vampire who along with daemons and witches, doing .... yoga? 

..... Per-lease.

Reading at times like a script for a spoof supernatural movie, at times it's actually quite funny. It's just a shame that this isn't intentional and for the main part the novel takes itself too seriously.


A sort of Harry Potter/Twilight/Fifty Shades Of Grey hybrid. A witch, her parents the creme-de-la creme of their kind, orphaned at childhood and brought up by other family members? A mysterious, magical book? A vampire who spends considerable time watching a woman sleep unaware that he is there? A 'love affair' that borders on the abusive? Sound familiar? 

At least with Harry Potter and Twilight there is a certain honesty in that the reader knows what they are getting. Quite unlike A Discovery Of Witches which when it comes down to it is essentially just another vampire romance albeit one masquerading as a more intelligent read for 'grown-ups'.

Given to me as a present along with the second book in the series (Shadow Of Night). Alas I've been put off reading book two, an equally weighty novel, let alone buying book three (The Book Of Life). 


23 Mar 2015

APRIL FOOL'S DAY COME EARLY.

WARNING: Whilst I endeavour to keep Media Monday family friendly I feel it only right to point out that some of the newspapers featured do have links to articles of a more adult nature. TT


With rank outsiders Camilla at 100/1 and Boris at 200/1 as the Duchess of Cambridge's due date approaches ten corgis gathered in Bloomsbury's Bedford Square in order to run a race, the winner of which would predict the new arrival's name and sex.


Having crashed into a customer and then, panicking, hit a customer service desk in a Sainsbury store in Newcastle-Under-Lyme an 80 year old pensioner has been banned from every Sainsbury's in Britain.

With a package containing one perfectly runny, pre-cooked boiled egg, pre-cut soldiers, salt and a 'spooth' (a spoon that includes a tooth to help crack the shell) an egg company has produced the yowk.


Staff at a Scottish electrical wholesaler were left feeling a little sheepish after they were ram-raided by a lone sheep who having hopped over a farmer's wall walked a mile before running amok in the store.

In what they admit is 'very unusual behaviour' Cumbrian police are hunting a middle-aged man who is slapping Carlisle shoppers if they sneeze.

And in the news from Europe ...

Representing the 137 chemical fingerprints of different types of micro-organism an alien colour chart has been devised by astronomers and biologists led by a team of German scientist to help them recognise extraterrestrial life

And Russia ...

Claiming to not only have a healing effect and the ability to positively impact on the users mental state but also the physical strength (and staying power) of the yeti  a Russian business is selling cans of air from Big Foot's cave.