TCL’s #6Degrees of Separation for April 3, 2021.

From “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart to “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katarina Bivald.

This is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:

  • Link the books together in any way you like.
  • Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books are My Favourite and Best.
  • Share these rules in your post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  • Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  • Share you post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
  • Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.


This month we start with “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart!

Shuggie BainThis month (April 3, 2021), the chain begins with “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart. The blurb for this book on one site is: “It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.” I haven’t read this Booker Prize winning novel, and from this blurb, I’m not sure that I will – sounds a bit too dark for me, to be honest. However, as a starting point, it does have possibilities!

First Degree. 

ce3d1-cutting2broomSpeaking of dark and Glasgow, the first book that comes to mind is “The Cutting Room” by Louise Welsh! As I note in my review, despite the title, this story has nothing to do with motion picture film editing; this is about crime, pornography, erotica, sex, and money with a mystery thrown in for good measure. It is all about an auctioneer going into a home only to find some very disturbing pictures, that lead him down a rabbit hole of a mystery. While I found this to be a bit too dark for my taste (and hence my relatively low rating), I believe that Welsh is an amazing writer, and people who like these types of stories will truly enjoy her writing.

Second Degree.

War WidowMoving from Glasgow, Scotland to Sydney, Australia, we get another mystery that also includes an auction house in Tara Moss’ novel “The War Widow” which is the first in her new Billie Walker detective novels. Now, I’m really not one for the thriller genre, and the main reason I asked for this book was because I’ve long wanted to read more Australian writers. But who can resist a tough female detective, right? So, even though this was well outside of my comfort zone, I really enjoyed how she had me on the edge of my seat. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series, and I hope I can get the ARC to that one as well, because Billie Walker is a bad-a** detective!

Third Degree.

fe1c5-cocaine-bluesStaying in Australia, but moving from Sydney to Melbourne, and going backwards in time from after WWII to the roaring 20s, we also switch from a professional detective to an amateur one, in the form of Phryne Fisher. I’m also talking about the first book in that series, “Cocaine Blues” by Kerry Greenwood. Now, to be totally frank, while this was a fun book, it wasn’t really my thing, and I decided that I wouldn’t bother continuing to read these books. However, my husband and I are now totally hooked and binging on the TV series. I only wish there were more than just three seasons, because I could surely go on watching more of them! (On the other hand, maybe I could just read more of these books.)

Fourth Degree.

Spool of Blue ThreadI think my next link will use the title of the last one, and since I don’t have any other books with Cocaine in the title, the book I’m choosing is “A Spool of Blue Thread” by Anne Tyler. Many of Tyler’s fans were very worried to hear that Tyler had intended this to be the last book she was ever going to write, and keep writing it and never publishing the book. Her idea was to write the story of the Whitshaw family in reverse, starting with the most contemporary part, and then working backwards ad infinitum. However, after she finished the third generation, she realized she didn’t want to go any further back. Good thing, because this is one of my favorite novels of hers. If she’d never finished it, we’d never have been able to read it!

Fifth Degree.

ed79c-whole2btown2btalkingAnother book that looks at many generations in one place is Fannie Flagg’s “The Whole Town’s Talking” which I called her Elmwood Springs retrospective book. Flagg wrote several books that take place in the town of Elmwood Springs, but in this one, she starts at the beginning with the founding of the town and takes it right up to 2020 (well, as best she could. She didn’t predict the pandemic, but I don’t think that would have changed her novel much). This was an absolutely delightful read from start to finish, and if you’ve read any of her books set in this fictional Missouri town of hers, you’ll love “meeting” up again with some of your old friends from those books.

Sixth Degree. 

35418-readers2bbroken2bwheelFor my final link, let’s stick with a very small-town element, but move from one in Missouri to one in Iowa for “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katarina Bivald. The difference between this and Flagg’s book, is that Flagg shows the rise and fall of Elmwood Springs, where Bivald comes to Broken Wheel when it is already in decline. What makes this story so charming is that Bivald envisions a scenario where this total stranger is able to breathe at least a little bit of life back into this decaying town. Obviously, she does this through her love of books, and by helping the residents of this town discover how they can enrich their lives and strengthen their sense of community, through the stories that books contain, and their mutual enjoyment of reading.

There you have it – my chain of books for this month. So… the question is, does this last book connect in any way back to our starting novel?

The only thing I can think of is the bit about escaping a hopeless place, but in Bivald’s book, there’s more bringing hope to a place that seemed hopeless.

If you don’t know any of these books, I hope you’ll click on the links to my reviews and check them out!

#6Degrees 06 April 2021

If you decide to join in on this meme, I hope you’ll give me the link to your post in the comments below, and/or put your link on the linky page that Kate has on her blog for this meme.

Next month (May 1, 2021), to honor the passing of Beverly Cleary, we’ll begin with her Beezus and Ramona.

36 thoughts on “TCL’s #6Degrees of Separation for April 3, 2021.

  1. Sorry – am a bit late in visiting your chain. I have a LOT going on right now! I like how your chain takes an Australian twist, although I’ve not read those particular Australian novels. I have read The Cutting Room though and I remember thinking it was WONDERFUL but despite reading a couple more by this author this debut was by far her best work. I’ve also read A Spool of Blue Thread and really enjoyed it. I am a longtime Tyler fan.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked your chain very much.

    I read Fannie Flagg’s A Redbird Christmas last December and loved it (then lent it to my mother, who thought it was ‘twee’…) but knew nothing about her other books apart from Fried Green Tomatoes, so I am delighted to learn that she’s written a series; I’ll definitely look out for it.

    I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy The Readers of Broken Wheel nearly as much as most people seem to; I think I must have been in the wrong mood when I read it, as to me it just seemed so predictable and at the same time unlikely (and yes, I know A Redbird Christmas is a good deal less likely, so maybe I was just feeling more receptive that day, or perhaps Flagg’s style is simply more to my taste!)

    I also felt that, even though I could probably have deciphered the Glaswegian in Shuggie Bain, it sounded far too dark for me. I would, however, like to investigate Phryne Fisher, as so far I haven’t even seen the TV series, much less read the books. I know people most often complain that a TV adaptation isn’t as good as the book, but I don’t think it’s always the case; I remember being disappointed with Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse books after seeing the excellent TV series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I reviewed the first Phryne Fisher book on my blog. It was cute but the backstory of how she got to Australia was… well… unbelievable for me. The TV series just puts her there without much back story (some of which comes later), and seems to ignore the UK part of her life, which worked for me.


  3. I haven’t read any of the Phryne Fisher books, but, like you, I loved the TV series. And I haven’t read Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread, but your review makes me want to. Thanks for another interesting chain.


  4. Glasgow was my first link this month too, but I went in a different direction after that. I have read another Louise Welsh book, Naming the Bones, but The Cutting Room sounds a lot darker!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoy Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries tremendously but my husband doesn’t care for it and I rarely watch TV when I’m home by myself. Maybe I just need to make him try another episode or two.

    I’ve read a few of the Elmwood Springs books so I’ll have to look out for The Whole Town’s Talking.

    The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend sounds like something I would like as well.

    Great chain!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the Phryne Fisher TV show, and I’ve definitely heard before that the show is way better than the books. I’ve only read Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes, but that was way back and Whole Town’s Talking looks charming, may give it a try.
    But best of all, thank you for including “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” — real pandemic-stormed life is dreary as it is, so I prefer books that end on a hopeful, uplifting note.
    ~ Lex

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a varied chain, Davida. I initially thought you were going with a sub theme of books that aren’t your thing but you ended up enjoying! I’m glad you changed tack.

    I love crime thrillers, but haven’t read any for a while – you’ve mentioned a couple of new to me authors here that I’ve made note of.

    The last two really appeal. I’ve read Fried Green Tomatoes, which I loved, but nothing else by Fannie Flagg. I hadn’t heard of Katarina Bivald. Another two books noted down!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve read A Spool of Blue Thread and The Readers of Broken Wheel, both of which I enjoyed. I haven’t read that Fannie Flagg one though and have loved her Elmwood Springs books!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I know four of those authors – Moss, Greenwood, Tyler and Flagg – but haven’t read any of the books, though I have read others by Tyler (as you know) and Flagg. I’ve only read Fried green tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, but would happily read more of hers. I do rather like small town stories, perhaps because I really like small towns! There’s a reason I like living in Canberra! A nice balance between city and small town. There’s also a reason why when we travel we spend more time in the country and small towns than in cities. We once did a trip up the west of the USA from LA to Jasper (via Victoria and the San Juan Islands) and we by-passed San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. (I have been to three of those cities on other occasions and they are lovely to visit too, I must say!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, visiting smaller places in foreign countries is always interesting. Unfortunately, my one trip to Australia was only Melbourne with a short side trip to Sydney. Must get back some day to see more!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, that’s the thing, isn’t it. People tend to go to the big cities when they travel. In some ways they are easier because they are set up for tourists, particularly in countries which don’t speak your own language.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Davida, what a great chain! I love the sound of all your choices, but will particularly be checking out The War Widow. As you say, who doesn’t love a feisty tough female detective! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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