Mystic Mince Pies, Hot Milk, and Traffic Jams…

Hot Milk and Mr Dickens

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the books are so delightful! Yep, we’ve had some snow today at Bookworm Central, lol! Some actual snow, as opposed to the usual attempt to snow in the UK. We have a kind of weather which I would describe as “Trying To Snow” which is when there’s a very minor flurry but nowt else, lol! However, at several times during the course of the day so far, it has been snowing. There has been some rain in between times so that has washed it away, but we have had snow. Not enough to build a snowman, not round here, unless you make a mini snowman on a garden wall or something.

Been a busy old week, and not over yet considering it is scheduled to be the Manchester Derby tomorrow at Old Trafford – snow permitting, of course! Anyway, I was at the match on Tuesday as United played CSKA Moscow in our final group game. Prior to the game, Dad came round for tea as we were going in his car, as has happened frequently this season. After our chilli con carne, we had some mince pies and squirty cream, and when Dad squirted cream on his pies, it looked like a 2 on one pie, and a 1 on the other, so he said that would be the score that night…

Not best pleased at half-time when we were trailing to a blatantly offside “goal” which should never have stood. Thankfully, in the second half, we turned things around in the space of three minutes midway through the half, with Romelu Lukaku equalising before Marcus Rashford put us ahead… and that reminded me of the pies and squirty cream, lol! 2-1 it remained, so when I got back in the car with Mum & Dad, the talk was of the Mystic Mince Pies, lol! Never mind your “Paul the Octopus” predicting winning sides in the World Cup, we had Mystic Mince Pies predicting the scoreline in United’s Champions League match!

So, we have won our group and we are through to the knockout stages, which start in mid-February. European football has a winter break, although we will find out on Monday who we have got in the first knockout round. As we have won our group, we will be away in the first leg, and at home in the second. It’s better that way, because if you don’t get a particularly good result in the first leg, you know you’ve got home advantage which can really help to turn things around in the second leg! Having said that, when we did the Treble in 1999, our quarter final and semi final ties against Inter Milan and Juventus saw United have the home leg first, and away leg second, and we still ended up winning the trophy!

Right, that’s the footy done, on to the books, lol!

Didn’t get any more of my book read in time for book club the next night, but I did get 70% read, so was mostly able to participate in the discussions, and I will finish it off – after all, I have just under a third left to read of The Good People. After our discussion, for which there were five of us, with Stephanie rejoining the fold as well as the four of us from last month – myself, Michelle, Nick and Diane, we discussed the next book and whether we should read something Christmassy, or deliberately un-Christmassy, and I said perhaps we should make it something reasonably short as we might not get a lot of time to get some reading in over the festive season! So, with a couple of us already owning a copy, we went for something fairly short and set in the summer, Hot Milk, by Deborah Levy. Our next meeting is on 10th January to give us a bit more time to read after Christmas and New Year!

Prior to the start of the book club, I met up with three of my colleagues from my days at Manchester DBC – June Padley, Anne Emmott, and Martin Biddles! It was great to be able to have a chat with them again and catch up a bit, also to be able to let them know I am working again at the moment. It was Martin’s birthday, so I guess that’s why they had met up. I said I’d seen one colleague fairly recently, Janice, as she volunteers at one of the charity shops here in Monton, and I am still in touch with quite a few people from my decade at Albert Bridge House on Facebook, and one or two on Instagram.

Right, anyway, I already had Hot Milk, as I said above, but I did buy myself something rather festive on the book front while I was at Waterstone’s, that being Mr Dickens and His Carol, by Samantha Silva. Something suitably seasonal, especially if our stupid weather insists on giving us the white stuff this year!

Chocs and books 2017

Thursday night, after work, Mum and I went off to the Lowry Centre on Salford Quays, as we had a voucher for Pizza Express, so we went in the shops first before we dined, and I stocked up on chocolate from the Cadbury’s shop, as you can see, lol, and a couple of cheap books from The Works, picking up The Snow Globe, by Sheila Roberts, and Hygge and Kisses, by Clara Christensen. Maybe not quite Christmassy as such, but certainly a plot which suggests cosiness, and that’s what many of us want at this time of year!

Then we come to yesterday, and the reason I ended up having to get a bus into Eccles today after my hairdo – I had to get my bus and tram pass, which was what I intended to do after work yesterday, and I got on a bus in decent enough time in Swinton, and headed on into town… except that when the bus actually got into Manchester, it was just bloody crawling along Bridge Street and taking an eternity! I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it across town to the travel shop in Piccadilly Gardens before it closed at 6pm, so I was a bit pissed off to say the least! But, I was in town, so I thought I might as well do the other stuff, in other words get myself something to eat from the Christmas markets, and as I was on that side of town, and the shop was open for a while yet, I went in Waterstone’s.

Traffic jam compensation books December 2017

Yes, I know. But I was so damn annoyed at the traffic jam that I felt I needed some retail therapy, so off I went into my natural habitat, lol, and came out with three books – Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, by Sarah Knight, and Warcross, by Marie Lu. I have mentioned the “not giving a f**k” book before, I think. I already like to think that I give fewer “flying ones” than I used to, but I felt this book would be good anyway! It would be a vindication of my general reduction of f**k-giving, so to speak!

Most of the stuff on telly these days is hardly worth giving a f**k about, especially reality TV shows! Unless they’re about food. I like Masterchef, although I probably shouldn’t watch stuff like that. Cookery programmes make me hungry, lol! I remember watching Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery late at night on BBC2 when I was a teenager in the late 80s, and that used to make me ridiculously hungry! I absolutely LOVE Chinese food! Always have done since I was very little!

I have half a mind to read Warcross and Ready Player One back-to-back as I feel the premise of both books is pretty similar, and Furiously Happy is a book I have seen on a lot of lists on List Challenges, and people have said, in reviews, that it’s very funny.

I was going to add that, if you want “very funny”, you should definitely read This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay, but I’ve been saying that already for a few blogs now, lol! Been saying it since about September or October! Another book I would recommend if you want a good laugh is Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate, by Susan Calman. I came upon that one by chance – I just happened to notice it a year or so ago when it was out in hardback and was being promoted in the Arndale Centre branch of Waterstone’s…

One of those times when you start reading a book in a bookshop, and you just know you’re going to have to take it to the counter and buy it because it’s too good not to buy! I didn’t even know who the author was at the time, turns out she’s a Scottish comedienne, but the fact that it was at least a bit about depression interested me – I’ve had a few bouts of that over the years, so I have experience of how shite it is when you’re going through it, and the “Crab of Hate” part of the title amused me, so I picked a copy off the shelf and started reading… and started laughing! It is on my list of books which have made me laugh my arse off, so if you want a good giggle, give it a try!

(Shite is a technical term, by the way!)

I think that’s about it, although I did pick up a couple of cheap books at the Rotary Club shop in Eccles this afternoon as I was waiting for the travel shop to re-open after their lunch break, lol! I picked up Unholy Night, by Seth Grahame-Smith, and The Spy Who Came For Christmas, by David Morrell. Both sounded suitably seasonal. Seth Grahame-Smith is the same guy who did the Austen-reworking, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, lol! Anyway, until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
  • Mr Dickens and His Carol – Samantha Silva
  • The Snow Globe – Sheila Roberts
  • Hygge and Kisses – Clara Christensen
  • Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • Warcross – Marie Lu
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression With the Crab of Hate – Susan Calman
  • Unholy Night – Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The Spy Who Came For Christmas – David Morrell
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Filed under Books, British Weather, Facebook & Other Social Media, Food & Drink, Football, Humour, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Mental Health, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Television, The TBR Pile, Travel, Weather

November Review and a bit of December too!

Flixton CBB Xmas Concert 2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

December is upon us, so, time to wrap up last month’s events as much as I can remember, lol, and a tiny bit of this month so far. Well, OK, yesterday and today, buoyed by the fact that my lads beat Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates earlier this evening! Woo hoo! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! Oh what fun it is to see United win away! Only blot on the landscape was Pogba’s red card, meaning we’re gonna miss him for a few fixtures. Grrr! Not happy about that! He’ll be able to play on Tuesday, though, as that’s a European fixture, and the red card only affects domestic games.

Right, anyway, as we know, I didn’t make much progress with Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien, but we did manage to enjoy a good book club meeting in November as there were four of us there, which made for a decent discussion! I’m hoping for a decent turn-out this coming Wednesday, 6th December, when we meet up again to discuss The Good People, by Hannah Kent. I am now up to 63% with this novel. Good progress was made in the last few days, firstly to get halfway and then I had a good read last night, during the first half of the concert at St Clement’s Church in Urmston.

Also, while I was at the church, I noticed they had a few books which could either be borrowed, swapped, or bought for a donation, so I made a donation and picked up a couple of interesting books to bring home with me. Those were Jasmine Nights, by Julia Gregson, and We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas. More to add to the TBR pile, lol! It takes the current number of books on my as-yet-unpublished List Challenges list for this blog to 528 different books! Joanne’s Bookshelf Blogs – Books Mentioned 2017 will be published in what is now a matter of weeks! Eek! Where’s 2017 gone?! Either I will publish the list on 31st December, or early in January 2018.

I am working between Christmas and New Year, but only one day, only the Wednesday. I am off the rest of the time! Time to read, and time to blog, I hope. Plus the inevitable lie-ins which I can have if I don’t have any reason to get up early!

I did finish a book in November, that being the excellent On Writing by Stephen King. As I have said in plenty of previous blogs, I’m not really big on horror, but he does write other stuff besides horror, and I have The Green Mile and 11.22.63 on my TBR list, so I hope to get round to at least one of those eventually, perhaps in 2018?

The main thing about November, however, was the fact that I got my dental surgery over and done with! I went for the x-ray appointment at the hospital on Monday 20th, and after I had had that, and went back to the reception to book the surgery, I was expecting to be given a date some time in the future, I was expecting January, to be honest with you! Thus I got quite a surprise when the receptionist said “We can fit you in this Wednesday afternoon at 3pm!” – I went for it, though, and booked it in. Yes, it was short notice, but I figured work would be pleased that I would be getting it out of the way as soon as possible! Work were fine about it, and thus I was off on the Wednesday and Thursday that week. Didn’t entirely feel like reading on the Wednesday, but on the Thursday I was reading and blogging again! I was a bit sore when the anaesthetic wore off, but, as I said at the time, not as “badger’s arse” as I thought I was going to be!

Flixton CBB Xmas Lights Urmston 24 Nov 2017

I was certainly up to playing my horn, as I found out on the Thursday evening, which was just as well, as I was playing at the switching on of the Urmston Christmas tree lights on the Friday evening and, as was documented, we didn’t get as wet as usual! There was actually a dry spell for a while, so not the usual non-stop rain, lol!

You know how I’ve mentioned, plenty of times, that my niece, Charlotte, is taking after me on the book front – she is the Junior Bookworm… Well, she also seems to be taking after her Auntie Jo on the music front, too! Not sure if I’ve told you this or not, although I probably have, but she’s been learning the violin for a few months now! I hope she will be entertaining us with some carols and other festive tunes this Christmas!

Well, not a lot of book related action in November, really, other than finishing the Stephen King book and starting the Hannah Kent novel, and still laughing my arse off over This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay, which is my book of the year for sure! I know we’ve got most of December left before 2017 gives way to 2018, we’re only on day 2 of our Advent calendars as I type, lol, but I doubt very much I am going to read anything which is even more hilarious than Adam Kay’s book about his time as a junior doctor! I dare you to read that book in public!

I went shopping on Monday, ended up loaded up at the Trafford Centre and, yes, it certainly did involve books, and visits to both Waterstone’s and W H Smith’s. However, I must stress that most of this shopping spree was for the purposes (or even porpoises, lol) of Christmas shopping. I purchased one book for my own future reading pleasure, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, but anything else I bought can’t be mentioned on here for a few weeks yet, I’m afraid!

Not until a bloke in red and white has been… and I don’t mean a United player in this instance, lol!

Away from books, and I am getting ridiculously excited at the prospect of a branch of Tim Horton’s opening not too far away from me in the very near future! I don’t know the opening date just yet, or whereabouts on this particularly long road the branch will be located, but Bury New Road will be getting a Timmie’s! Woo hoo! Any Canadian bookworms, and any other bookworms who’ve ever been to Canada, will know what I’m on about here! Perhaps, when the branch opens, I should go there for coffee and doughnuts, or a box of Timbits, and read Doughnut, by Tom Holt?! Or, perhaps even This Book Will Save Your Life, by A. M. Homes, as that has several doughnuts on the cover!

So, that’s about it for November and early December. I think that’s all the news for now. Book club this coming Wednesday. Even if I don’t finish The Good People in time, I will have got a lot of it read by then, although I hope I will have finished it! I have also put it on my Kindle, as well as owning the paperback, so I should be able to get some read on the way home from Old Trafford on Tuesday night after our Champions League home game against CSKA Moscow. Until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Jasmine Nights – Julia Gregson
  • We Are Not Ourselves – Matthew Thomas
  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • The Green Mile – Stephen King
  • 11.22.63 – Stephen King
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Doughnut – Tom Holt
  • This Book Will Save Your Life – A. M. Homes

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Food & Drink, Football, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Junior Bookworms, List Challenges, Month in Review, Music, Non-Fiction, The TBR Pile

Magnifique! From foreign books to bargain books…

Cantona signing 25th anniversary 2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

I was going to do that in French, in honour of it being the 25th anniversary of my club signing my all-time favourite player, but bookworm translates as <<rat de bibliothèque>> or “library rat”, which doesn’t sound all that flattering, does it?! I know some people actually prefer to be book dragons rather than book worms, even in English, so I shall forego the rodent comparisons!

Funnily enough, on one book-related group on Facebook, earlier this week, someone asked whether any of us have any books in other languages beside their own, and whether we read books in other languages. Yes, I can read in other languages, although I am much slower in French, German or Spanish than I am in English, and I would also need a dictionary or some form of translation technology handy. I guess you can probably Google verb tables for various languages these days? Anyway, back to the books in other languages, and one of my prized books in another language is Un Rêve Modeste et Fou, the original French edition of Eric Cantona‘s autobiography. I also have the English version, My Story, both of which were signed by the King back in the mid 90s while he was still at United.

I miss those days… when United trained at The Cliff, and it was reasonably easy for a fan to go down there, watch the lads train, and then meet the players afterwards to get their autographs and have photos taken with them before they headed home! Not been the same since they started training at Carrington!

Today and tomorrow, 26th and 27th November, are the significant dates… I always celebrate the Cantona anniversary over two days because the news broke on the 26th, that Thursday evening in 1992, at around 6:30pm our time, and then Eric actually signed for United the following day. I was 19 at the time, a student, in the second year of my degree, at home with my parents and sister, but only my mum and I were at home that particular evening. My sister was at trampolining and I think my dad was away on business. I thought my mum was pulling my leg at first when she called me downstairs to tell me the news, which had just come on the telly. She wasn’t, though! It was for real! Manchester United had agreed to sign Eric Cantona from Leeds United for an “undisclosed fee” – later revealed to be a bargain, a mere £1.2 million!

United marked the anniversary weekend with a 1-0 home win against Brighton and Hove Albion yesterday afternoon, amazingly a 3pm kickoff which is pretty rare for United these days, lol, and I don’t care what others say, I think Ashley Young SHOULD claim the goal as his, rather than it going down as an own goal! I am totally against the current trend of treating slight deflections as own goals! The defending team’s player does NOT want it going against him, so let the attacking team’s player claim the goal as his! It should ONLY go down as an own goal if it was bloody obvious that the unfortunate player put the ball in his own net! For example, the then Blackburn Rovers defender, Jeff Kenna, at Old Trafford in November 1997 in a 4-0 win for United around this time 20 years ago! Now, THAT was a definite own goal if ever there was one! He rolled the ball back, thinking his goalie was there. His goalie, however, was at the other side of the net, as I recall, so the ball rolled over the line and into the net at the Stretford End, 4-0 to United, and Kenna stood there wishing the pitch would open up and swallow him!

Anyway, never mind my own goal rant, back to books… and we were on for books in foreign languages, weren’t we? Besides Eric Cantona’s autobiography, I do own a few other books which are not in English, including Charlie y la fábrica de chocolate, by Roald Dahl (I think you can work out the English title from the Spanish one in this instance, lol) and Die Bücherdiebin, by Markus Zusak, and I reckon you could take an educated guess at translating that from German… I bought myself that one when I was in Berlin in 2012. A good tip is to go for books you already know fairly well in your own language!

I don’t actually own copies of the books I studied for A-Level French, though. Those were Eccles College’s copies, and I never bought my own. Mind you, I didn’t want reminding. I found French literature hard to get my head around at the time, and I really went off the language for a couple of years, until United signed Eric Cantona, lol, so no, I don’t have my A Level French set texts, even though I do own copies of the books I read at high school for GCSE English Literature. Mind you, I don’t have ALL the books I read at uni for the literature half of my degree! I gave quite a few away when we moved house in 2006! If I hadn’t read them and didn’t think I was going to get around to it, I gave many of them away. My office’s charity committee were having a charity book fair at the time, so I gave a lot of books to my colleagues for that.

And now we return to our regularly scheduled look at books in English, lol! The Good People now stands at 37% read, and I am on for page 142 of 380. Over a third read, and I hope to get some more read in the coming weeks. The next book club meeting is on Wednesday 6th December, so there’s still time to get more of it read!

church fair bargains St Marks 2017

Oh, and I got some bargains yesterday! Prior to the match, I went to St Mark’s Church in Worsley for their Christmas fair. My niece is at the primary school there, and she’s in the choir, so she was performing at the event. Thus I listened to my niece and her classmates, and I also managed to get 4 books for the whopping sum of… wait for it… 50p! Yep! Bargains! It isn’t every day you get four books for 50p, is it?! And, unlike in the “Cheap Flights” song by Fascinating Aida, there are no additional extra costs – it genuinely did set me back a mere 50p to acquire the above books, lol! If you have never heard “Cheap Flights”, I suggest you look it up on You Tube! It’s a classic!

So, I picked up American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, quite a chunky monkey that one, lol, The One Memory of Flora Banks, a YA book by Emily Barr, The Odyssey, by Homer, for no particular reason, and same applies to The Pelican Guide to English Literature, edited by Boris Ford! Just seemed like a good idea at the time, lol! Actually, I’d picked two books, American Gods, and The One Memory of Flora Banks, and handed over my 50p, and the bloke said “You can take two more if you want to” so I chose the other two as well!

Flixton CBB Xmas Lights Urmston 24 Nov 2017

Blowing my horn on Friday evening in the Flixton Community Brass Band

Yep, that’s me on there, photo taken by my mum, but I took a screen shot when she uploaded it onto Facebook. It was the annual switching on of the Urmston Christmas tree lights, and our band have performed at this occasion since the Community Band was formed in 2014. Usually, it absolutely pisses it down throughout, but we actually had a spell on Friday where it stopped raining for quite a while, so it’s the least wet we have ever been, lol! Despite my dental surgery on Wednesday, I was fine playing my horn, as I found out on Thursday evening when I attempted it. Mind you, the teeth which had been removed had been at one side of my mouth, so putting my mouthpiece to my lips and blowing in it did not affect anything.

So, yes, for fairly recent followers, that is one of the other things I do besides reading books, lol! Well, I also work, of course, but I meant things I do in my spare time, when I’m not at Unity House in Swinton working as an admin officer! Oh, and as I’ve just mentioned my dental surgery from this week just gone, I meant to mention that Mum is now reading I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović – she started it on Wednesday, as she took it along to the hospital with her to read while I was having my dodgy teeth removed! She’s certainly enjoying it so far, finding it very amusing!

Well, I think that’s about it for now. I have covered a multitude of sins tonight, though, to be fair, lol! Eric Cantona, yesterday’s match, own goals, books in foreign languages, the latest progress of my book club book, church fair book bargains, brass bands, Christmas lights, dental surgery and Zlatan! All being well, I plan to get some Christmas shopping done tomorrow after work, so you probably won’t be getting a blog from me tomorrow – I’ll be mooching round the Trafford Centre, no doubt heading to Waterstone’s during the course of the evening, lol! So, until I do present you with the next instalment of vaguely book-related waffle, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Un Rêve Modeste et Fou – Eric Cantona
  • My Story – Eric Cantona
  • Charlie y la fábrica de chocolate – Roald Dahl
  • Die Bücherdiebin – Markus Zusak
  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  • The One Memory of Flora Banks – Emily Barr
  • The Odyssey – Homer
  • The Pelican Guide to English Literature vol. 3 – Boris Ford (editor)
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović – Zlatan Ibrahimović

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, European Literature, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Foreign Languages, Goodreads, List Challenges, Music, Rants, Sports, Uncategorized, YA Books

Not As Badger’s Arse As I Thought I’d Be!

black book covers

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

Good evening, and, for my followers in the USA, Happy Thanksgiving! I guess you’re probably busy right now, you’ve got family round, or you’ve gone round to theirs, and you’re stuffed to the eyeballs with food, but I hope you’re having a good day and that you’ll eventually get some time to have a nice read! I guess you’re hoping for some book sales on Black Friday?!

Right then, back to events here in my part of the UK!

So, as you might recall from Tuesday’s blog, I’d had my x-ray appointment at Hope Hospital (Salford Royal) on Monday morning, and they then booked me in for my surgery on Wednesday, thus yesterday afternoon… so I have been off work yesterday and today. When you have the sedation I opt for, it can last in your body for up to 24 hours after it’s been given, so I have to have the next day off as well as the day of my surgery. I’ve had this done a few times over the years, as you can probably tell, so I’m very familiar with the procedures.

Well, I had the surgery yesterday afternoon, and they actually took me in at 2:30, so half an hour early (I think a previous op had been cancelled, so as Mum and I arrived in plenty of time, they took me in ahead of my original 3pm appointment), and took the teeth out, two of them together, upper left 7 and 8 for any of you who wish to know, and then after some time in recovery and being advised on aftercare, we went home, although not before stopping at WH Smith’s in the hospital and purchasing a book, lol,  and I had a snooze for a bit once I got home. I did feel a little sore when the anaesthetic wore off, but considering I had had two neighbouring teeth out, I didn’t feel as “badger’s arse” as I thought I would. A little sore, yes, but not exactly in serious discomfort.

I have also been using some of the time to have a good read, and I have made good progress with The Good People, by Hannah Kent, our current book club choice. I am now 30% of the way through the novel. I am enjoying it, but perhaps a glossary of Gaelic words and names would help matters, particularly a pronunciation guide! I do have family over in Ireland, but I don’t exactly want to mither them to death with pronunciation queries! Hopefully there’s something online that I can look up… If anyone who has already read the novel could come up with some sort of guide to all the Gaelic names and words in it, that would be much appreciated! Still hasn’t spoilt my enjoyment of the book, thus far, though, even if I look at certain words and think “How the hell do you say that?”

Anyway, as I was saying in the previous blog, I know many of you like blogs where I mention lots of books as it gives you ideas. I’ll have to be doing some book shopping soon, but for others as I have Christmas shopping to get the hell on with! But as for my books, before we get into that “review of the year” mode which tends to happen at this time, let’s see if there’s some books I’ve bought but not mentioned on here already… Caraval, by Stephanie Garber, was the book I purchased yesterday at the hospital, but I have already mentioned that one. Pretty sure, though that there’s a few which haven’t been listed yet in 2017…

Of the books in the photo at the top of this blog, I have already mentioned Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy, and The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, but I knew I had definitely mentioned that latter one on a few occasions as it was a charity shop bargain. It only cost me a quid from the British Heart Foundation shop on Salford Precinct, and that’s the hardback edition! Caraval has already been mentioned, of course, which just leaves A Man of Shadows, by Jeff Noon. I really do like that cover! I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and I’ve been a bookworm more than long enough to know that, so I did read the blurb on the back, and thought it was worth it – “let’s risk it for a biscuit” I thought!

At the same time as I purchased A Man of Shadows, I also purchased Welcome To Night Vale, by Joseph Fink. The blurb and the cover both attracted me. Looking around my room for anything which might not have been mentioned, but to be fair, a hell of a lot of books have been mentioned this year! 518 different books, and we haven’t even got to the end of this blog entry yet, let alone the end of the calendar year!

Apparently, there are nearly 130 million (129,864,880) books in the entire world, according to a post I saw on Facebook earlier! One of several interesting facts in a post on a group called “I’m Not Obsessed, I Just Love To Read”, posted by Firdyawkal Nigussie. This list also says that the first book described as a “best-seller” was Fools of Nature by US writer, Alice Brown, way back in 1889! Wow! As someone on FB said, it would be especially amazing, as many female authors at the time either had to publish anonymously or under a male pen name in order to get their books in print. Indeed, Mary Ann Evans took the pen name George Eliot, and it is under this very blokey-sounding name that her novels are still published, including The Mill On the Floss, which I read, or at least skim-read, at university! Even the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, originally took male pen names, being first published as Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, although they eventually DID get published under their actual names.

Other interesting facts from that list, and my thoughts on these matters…

It would take 60,000 years to read all the books in the world. It would probably take that long to read all the books in my room, let alone the whole world, lol!

The M6 toll road was built on two-and-a-half million copies of pulped Mills & Boon novels. Do you remember that Oxfam bookshop in Wales which was inundated with copies of the Fifty Shades trilogy? So many that they built a fort out of them in their back room?! Maybe they could offer them up to make a motorway if any new roads need building near Swansea?!

The page most readers lose interest at is Page 18. Wow! That early in a book? Well, if you get past page 18, from now on, you know you’re over at least one reading hurdle! I usually say give it rather more pages than that unless it’s a pretty short book! For a full-on novel, some say anything from 70 to 100 pages. Personally, when I’ve been doing my Ongoing Concerns lists during this year, I work out what 10% of the book is and see how that first 10% goes… So, if I’ve got a book that’s 380 pages long, let’s see how I feel about it when I get to page 38.

Thankfully, for you, this blog is not that long, lol, and we have got a few more “fresh” books mentioned which hadn’t already been on the list, and we’ve had some facts about books thanks to Firdyawkal’s post on Facebook, so I hope it’s been an entertaining blog tonight! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Caraval – Stephanie Garber
  • Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
  • The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  • A Man of Shadows – Jeff Noon
  • Welcome To Night Vale – Joseph Fink
  • Fools of Nature – Alice Brown
  • The Mill On the Floss – George Eliot

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My Idea of Fun

Lee Sharpe - My Idea of Fun

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to yet another blog, and it is fair to say that blogging can be included in my idea of fun, along with countless other things. In particular, reading books (obviously), buying books, finding bargain books in charity shops (I picked up the Lee Sharpe autobiography, My Idea of Fun, in a charity shop in Swinton after work yesterday evening), having a lie-in, stuffing my face with food, playing music, listening to music and, as is well-documented on here, watching Manchester United. Sharpey is one of our old boys from the late eighties into the mid nineties, his career interrupted in mid flow by viral meningitis in the early 90s, but he did make a comeback once he’d recovered from the excessive tiredness the illness had left him with for some time. Should be an interesting read.

Anyway, progress is being made with The Good People, I am on for page 74, the start of chapter 4, so this is a considerable improvement on the fiction front given my recent fiction slump which I’ve mentioned in recent blogs. Perhaps that’s it… Perhaps it’s the fact that this book is by an author whose previous novel I really enjoyed a few years ago, because this is the same lady, Hannah Kent, who wrote the brilliant Burial Rites.

The other progress made lately isn’t actually of the book variety, but of the dental variety… As regular bloggers might know, I had been awaiting an x-ray at the hospital ahead of a dental extraction. Well, I had that x-ray yesterday morning before heading in to work for the rest of the day, two neighbouring teeth will be coming out, and when I went to reception to book the actual surgery, they offered me Wednesday, i.e. tomorrow! Thus I will be back at the hospital tomorrow afternoon to have my two dodgy teeth taken out! Woo hoo! It does mean I’ll probably feel like shite afterwards (shite being a technical term, of course, lol) but at least it means that needing Wednesday and Thursday off work results in two days where I won’t have to worry about waiting for a damn bus!

Traffic was a bloody ‘mare coming home from work tonight. According to my sister, there was a car on fire on the East Lancs Road, meaning the traffic around Swinton, where I work, was utterly Donald Ducked! It took a long time before a bus turned up, and with no number 2 seemingly forthcoming, I had to resort to the 484. This bus goes between Swinton and Monton, but takes the, ahem, “scenic route” and goes all round the houses to get next door, as the saying goes! So I was eventually on a bus home, but then that got stuck in traffic for quite a while during its Grand Tour of Swinton! So, I read a bit of The Good People while I was on the bus and managed a fair few pages before nearing home.

It’s November, it’s cold, it’s dark, it was raining (probably still is), and the journey home from work was a bit of an arseache! Oh well, at least I had some books with me, and at least I don’t have to get a bus for the next two days! My mouth might not be at its most comfortable after tomorrow afternoon’s surgery, lol, but the complete lack of necessity to hang around at bus stops waiting for one of those damn vehicles to be arsed turning up will be a consolation! Two days without that palaver – yeah, I can go for that!

I just hope I will still be able to play my horn, though. Got the switching on of the Urmston Christmas Lights on Friday, an annual fixture in the gig calendar of the Flixton Community Brass Band, so I shall see, some time on Thursday, how I feel about playing a brass instrument after my dental extractions the day before. See how my face feels. Perhaps try buzzing on my mouthpiece on Thursday, see how that goes. If it’s OK, I’ll be up to playing my tenor horn.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/nov/21/doctors-diary-this-is-going-to-hurt-wins-public-vote-for-book-of-the-year?CMP=twt_gu

Congratulations to Adam Kay! The absolutely brilliant This is Going to Hurt has won the Books Are My Bag readers’ choice award! It has also won the non-fiction category as well as the overall award. As I have said before, I cannot recommend this book enough! I would exercise caution as to where you read it, though! Probably not best to read it in public, unless you’re really daring or you simply don’t give a shit about getting funny looks from others when you laugh your arse off!

It definitely wins MY award for book of the year!

Sorry that I’ve not really got any fresh mentions other than My Idea of Fun, by Lee Sharpe. I know some of you really like my blogs which are full of different books, as it gives you ideas to add to your TBR piles. Oh well, I guess this one is giving your TBR list a bit of a break by covering mostly old ground. Also, we’re coming up to that time of year where everything gets reviewed, lol! A time for looking back over 2017, the books we read, those we half-read, those we added to our TBR lists but have still not got around to yet… and some which were added to that list donkey’s years ago, and we have to admit we STILL haven’t got around to reading them, lol!

Has a book ever given you that sense that it’s saying “You KNOW you want to read me”?! It happens in book shops, sure, but then it happens with books on your TBR list… There’ll be one which is saying “Pick me next!” and I am getting those vibes from Republic or Death! Travels in Search of National Anthems, by Alex Marshall. It is in quite a prominent place in my room, on top of a pile of books, and it is non-fiction, and it involves travel, history and music, so obviously that held great appeal to me and caused me to buy it in the first place, which was some time ago now, earlier this year I think, and it keeps catching my eye of late!

In the meantime, I shall get this finished and published and return to The Good People. Until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • My Kind of Fun – Lee Sharpe
  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Republic or Death! Travels in Search of National Anthems – Alex Marshall

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, British Weather, Charity Shop Bargains, Food & Drink, Football, Music, Non-Fiction, The TBR Pile

What’s So Hard About Animal Farm?!

The Good People

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Back again with another blog, and it was nice to have four of us at book club on Thursday. Nick and Diane had returned, and one of my council colleagues, Michelle, came along, so there were four of us and it made for a much better book club meeting than I’d had for some time! It felt as though we were able to have some proper discussion and bounce ideas and book suggestions off each other, which is what book club is about, and that’s bloody hard to do if only two of you turn up and the other person is just happy to go along with your choices. So, much better, as I said. We decided on The Good People, by Hannah Kent, as our next book, and our meeting will be on Wednesday 6th December.

As I’ve said previously, Hannah’s first book, Burial Rites, was a book club book of ours about 4 years ago. When the novel was first published, Hannah and her publisher came to Waterstone’s to promote the book, and as we were due to have book club that night, Emma from Waterstone’s had said to us “Would you be happy for this to be a book club event?” so we said yes, and Hannah talked to us about her book and how it came about. She’s from Adelaide, Australia, but had gone on an exchange programme to Iceland and, in learning about the country and its history, became intrigued with the story of the last woman to be executed in Iceland, hence the story behind Burial Rites.

She’s gone from Iceland to Ireland with this one, but yet again it is a work of historical fiction based on Irish folklore. I have started it, so let’s see what it’s like! It’s a handbag book, anyway, although it’s not the only reading matter which has been making a home in my purple Kipling bag. Currently sharing the handbag space with The Good People are What Light, by Jay Asher,  which is a Christmas novella, and The Outsiders, by S E Hinton. I was kinda hoping that short books, and possibly some short stories, might get me feeling fictional again.

This year is 50 years since The Outsiders was first published. Not one I’ve read before, but it is a book which has been read by many in the last half century, especially teenagers. It has often been a set book for literature classes at school, on the syllabus for the old O Levels and CSEs and then GCSEs when those came along in my high school days. My year were the second lot ever to sit GCSEs, way back in the summer of 1989. Perhaps one of the other English sets, 2 to 4 read this book? Not sure. All I know is what we read in set 1 with Mrs Walsh. (There were eight sets, but only the top four studied literature as well as language.)

Our play was Macbeth, it was always going to be something by the Bard as our teacher was a total Shakespeare nut, lol! Our novel was Pride and Prejudice, so we were introduced to Mr Darcy long before Colin Firth played him in that adaptation! Animal Farm, by George Orwell, was our novella which we looked at both as a straightforward story and as a political allegory, and our poetry, rather appropriately for Remembrance Day weekend, was from the First World War, as we studied a fair few poems from both Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Not sure which book Mrs Walsh used for our poetry, but I always recommend The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry should you be looking to read what I read at school!

Right then… back from my high school reading to the present day, and yesterday I was at St Paul’s Church in Monton for our Christmas fair. While we did have one or two little kids’ books, Mum and I don’t have a book stall, but there is one, and I managed to get five books for a mere £1.50 so I think we should class church fair book bargains in the same category as charity shop bargains for the purposes of this blog.

Church fair book purchases 2017

As you can see, this haul includes two large books about Abba! Abba The Book, by Jean-Marie Potiez, and Mamma Mia! How Can I Resist You? This is the inside story of the making of the musical and film based on Abba’s songs. Bit irritating that I can’t see the exact edition of Abba The Book for my List Challenges list. I have put one on for now, but I shall keep trying for the white cover edition. Grrr! It annoys me, that! It’s all very well if I haven’t got a copy of a certain book, but if I have, I want the right edition on List Challenges. Except for The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, as I prefer the US cover anyway, as I’ve said before!

My other books are Prophecy, by S. J. Parris, The Tenko Club, by Elizabeth Noble, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. I have a feeling I do already own a copy of the latter, but as I’m not even sure where it is or whether I could get my hands on it easily, I chanced getting a copy yesterday at the church fair.  I remember seeing the film version when I was at uni, and then again some years later, on telly late one night, and it’s brilliant. It’s mostly in black and white, but the portrait is in Technicolor!

Actually, going back to List Challenges for a moment… I was on there in the past week or so, and there was a list of “difficult to read” books, but I have to say that some of them weren’t what I’d call difficult at all! The Picture of Dorian Gray was one of them, but I fail to see what’s so difficult about this book! SPOILER ALERT! Well-to-do good-looking young bloke has his portrait painted, as people did in those days when they were well-off, and he’s gone to see and admire the finished product. While he’s admiring his portrait, he makes a wish that he could stay young forever and that the portrait would grow old instead. This wish comes true and Dorian remains young and handsome. However, this goes to his head, and he becomes a right arsehole, and he does some pretty nasty shit to some people. As his behaviour deteriorates, his portrait grows not only older but uglier too, so he hides it away.

Anyhow, that’s enough Dorian spoilers! A couple of the other books on the “difficult to read” list were Jane Eyre and Animal Farm! Seriously?! Those are seen as hard to read?! As I have already said in this blog, I read Animal Farm for my GCSEs when I was at high school, so it’s not that bloody hard! If we’re discussing Orwell’s writing, I could see how people might find 1984, with its newspeak, difficult to read, maybe, but what’s so hard about Animal Farm?! I was about 15 or so when I read that! And I was even younger when I read Jane Eyre! I was in the third year at high school, 13 going on 14! If Jane Eyre was a difficult book, I doubt very much I’d have read it at that stage of my education!

Well, I think that’s about it for now. I had a bit of a book tsunami earlier, but then again, the previous one was in early February, so it’s not too bad considering the huge piles of books I have, lol! Quite a lot of book mentions in here for you tonight – I know some of you like it when I have a big long list at the end as it gives you reading ideas! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • What Light – Jay Asher
  • The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton
  • Macbeth – William Shakespeare
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry – Various
  • Abba, The Book – Jean-Marie Potiez
  • Mamma Mia! How Can I Resist You? – Benny Anderson, Bjorn Ulvaeus & Judy Craymer
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Prophecy – S. J. Parris
  • The Tenko Club – Elizabeth Noble
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • 1984 – George Orwell

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October Review – Better Late Than Never!

Adam Kay signing his book, This is Going to Hurt

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

I am back! First up, my apologies for not having blogged since mid-October, but you may recall that not only was I not feeling fictional, I was also not feeling very well, either! I wanted my cold to piss off and leave me alone, which it eventually has, more or less, but not without causing me to need time off work. I was in on the Monday after that blog, but even then I had a coughing fit, and stayed off the phone for the rest of that day, just doing the admin stuff – paperwork and computery stuff, and then I was too ill to be in work for the rest of that week! Absolutely streaming with a bloody cold! I did attempt to go in on the Friday, but it didn’t last long and I went home again.

I’d booked the following Monday off, and I was well enough to go out for the day, to Cheshire Oaks, and I came home loaded with a huge stash of chocolate, lol! I did buy a book, I acquired The Hate U Give from The Works for £2, although I still maintain that I prefer the cover of the US edition! Still got a bit of a cough, but I am generally a lot better than I was on the health front.

Still not feeling fictional, though! It’s book club this coming Thursday, and I have hardly read any of Do Not Say We Have Nothing. It’s not as though I dislike it, I don’t, what I have read has been fine, but I’m still not feeling it on the fictional front. I have been in the mood for factual stuff of late. I finished On Writing, by Stephen King, the other night – loved that book! I have thus finished 42 books this year, with just a bit of 2017 left to go.

The other thing is, that, while I was off sick, it was as though our internet came out in sympathy with my cold and decided to slow down! I mean right down. Really sluggish. Things taking ages to load, video clips buffering every few seconds… that sort of annoying slowness. Having given it a week or two to perk up, we contacted our providers with the results of a speed test my sister’s partner had performed for us, and they did some tests on Sunday, and then sent someone round earlier today. He did more tests and sorted things out, so we’re back up and running again! Nice and fast, as it should be. No longer fannying around, which is a technical term, by the way, but you knew that already, lol!

Anyway, you want to know about books, don’t you? You don’t want to hear my moans about how slow our broadband had been for the second half of October, do you?! You do realise, though, that this blog regularly contains large helpings of utter waffle!

The other book which was read last month, and utterly loved, was This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay, and I went to the book event at Waterstone’s on 27th October. He read to us from his book and then signed copies, so I had brought my copy with me for him to sign. Epic Win!

In the past few months, the only work of fiction I have finished is If I Stay, one of my YA books. I did also read one of my niece’s books, but that was fairly short, and even that was a few months ago, August, just before I started my job at the council! Since then, it’s been mostly non-fiction, having read about the periodic table of the elements, why internet food fads and diets are dangerous, how the Nazis were totally off their tits on drugs, the hilarious incidents in the life of a junior doctor, and the memoirs and writing advice of a hugely-successful author!

How do I get to feel fictional again? Why have I gone off fiction? I don’t understand what happened to cause it. I understand it in previous years. I remember a general book slump which started in 2012 and meant that I read very little from then until 2015, only managing the occasional book until around this time two years ago. 2012 was a pretty rubbish year for me, certainly the first half of it was, due to my grandad passing away and my redundancy after 13 years as a civil servant. It did pick up a bit in the summer though, as the London Olympics and Paralympics were on, and my club signed a certain Dutch centre-forward  that August at the start of the 2012-13 season, one whose goals would fire us to our 20th league title in 2013 when we would be declared champions the night before my 40th birthday! Oh, Robin van Persie! 🙂

I only managed the occasional book between those times. I loved Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent, Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, but a lot of books, even with promising blurb, didn’t grab me until the end of 2015 when a fiction book and a non-fiction book both helped get me in the mood for reading again. The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, and Why the Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates, are to be thanked for helping me out of that slump!

Last year, I had a fiction slump, but only because I had just finished A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, and that is one seriously epic book! So, I completely understand why I was only able to manage non-fiction for the rest of 2016 after THAT chunky monkey! However, I’ve not read anything quite so epic in 2017! Nothing to rival the 720 pages of A Little Life, that’s for sure, so why the hell am I having a fiction slump now?!

This is one reason why I’ve not even started Turtles All the Way Down, the latest book by John Green, which was published in October. I don’t want my experience to be clouded by doubts over my ability to enjoy fiction! Despite the slump, I am still acquiring fictional titles, and I even purchased a few last week when I headed off to Waterstone’s at the Trafford Centre, picking up Sabriel, by Garth Nix, What Light, by Jay Asher, a Christmas-themed YA novella by the looks of it, and the Booker Prize winner for 2017, Lincoln In the Bardo, by George Saunders. I have to admit I had no idea what the hell a bardo was. Not in the sense of that book’s title, anyway! To me, the only Bardo I knew of was the one-hit-wonder duo, Bardo, who represented the UK at the 1982 Eurovision Song Contest with a song called “One Step Further”!

That was also a bit of a risk – regular readers of my blog might recall some of my rants about prize-winning novels and how difficult they are to read! I think the only Booker Prize winner I have finished and enjoyed so far in my life was Life of Pi, by Yann Martel! But Lincoln In the Bardo sounded interesting – something to do with spirits fighting over the soul of Abraham Lincoln’s son.

I think that about brings me up to date, anyway, except for some news on the children’s book front. It seems David Walliams has a new book out, Bad Dad, so no doubt my friend Sarah’s son, James, will be wanting that one! My niece, Charlotte, the Junior Bookworm, has recently been reading and enjoying The Twits, by Roald Dahl. A classic! And on that note, I think we’ve covered everything, and I have returned to my regular waffly and very nerdy self – come on, it doesn’t get much nerdier than mentioning Bardo in the 1982 Eurovision Song Contest, does it?! So, until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • If I Stay – Gayle Forman
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Why the Dutch Are Different – Ben Coates
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Turtles All the Way Down – John Green
  • Sabriel – Garth Nix
  • What Light – Jay Asher
  • Lincoln In the Bardo – George Saunders
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  • Bad Dad – David Walliams
  • The Twits – Roald Dahl

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