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July reading diary : a little murder, a little warfare, a little ukulele…

A mixed month of books: a little murder, a little warfare, a little ukulele…

(73-74) The Strangled Queen and The Poisoned Crown by Maurice Druon

I started this series last month, and liked the first book, but felt it was incomplete. The Iron King sets up the characters for the author, who uses them in these next two books. This trilogy that completes the reign of King Louis X of France, called “the Quarreler.” George R.R. Martin’s claim that this was “the original Game of Thrones” seems a little breathless, which seems odd given that Mr Martin’s social media persona is so gruff. I enjoyed the series, and will continue it, and commend it to those who like books of medieval dynastic politics.

(75-77) Get plucky with the ukulele by Will Grove-White, Ukulele crazy! by Mike Evans and The Ukulele Handbook by Gavin Pretor-Pinney.

Each of these books mix a history of ukelele and a chapter on basic techniques. Either would be suitable for a new player.  Get plucky… is the best of the three, but not markedly so. I’d note the third is a really useful handbook, but there’s one slight issue that can be confusing if you have been reading other ukulele guides. Most early uke guides teach playing with two, then three, then four chords. The first chord is always C, and by the end of the teaching sequence the other three are G, Am and F.  In this book, G is replaced with G7 (a sharper, brighter G), so that the tabs look a little odd, and the transition shortcuts don’t make a lot of sense unless you realize the difference.

(78) Uke’n play ukulele by Mike Jackson

A tiny book, but useful. Many other sources. sources, both in print and online, tell you that once you have learned C/G/Am/F you can play thousands of songs…which you’ll need to look up somewhere else for copyright reasons, This little book rearranges some traditional, Australian songs so that they can be played using C/G/Am/F. There’s a strum-along disc in the back. It’s easy to recommend because it is one of the few books which does not shy away from giving tabs for simple songs.

(79) Batman : Mad Love and Other Stories

Separately reviewed here.