January Review: Badger’s Arse, Postbox Toppers, Pet Peeves and Finished Books…

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to the first monthly review blog of 2023 now that January is almost over, lol! Got Sky Sports News on for transfer deadline day as Marcel Sabitzer, an Austrian central midfielder, is set to join United on loan from Bayern Munich for the rest of this season due to Christian Eriksen getting injured during our recent FA Cup 4th round win over Reading.

Will keep you posted on the footy, but got a month’s worth of the usual nonsense to get through, so let’s get through it, starting with the start of the year when it was a few days into 2023 before I felt well enough to blog. I came down with the lurgy just before new year and Mum and I had to have our New Year’s Eve meal from La Turka as a takeaway rather than heading down the road to our local restaurant.

I did get a book read while recovering from the lurgy, though, as I had a re-read of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy due to the animated version having been shown on BBC1 over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Second week of the month, two more books joined my re-read on the finished books list, as I polished off Wall and Piece, by Banksy, and then the sheet music from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. That came about because of my choir audition, as I chose to sing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” – I am now an official member of the choir, and have an absolute shedload of music, lol, which is in two concertina file boxes!

A postbox on a postbox, lol! We’ve already had some good ones as we started 2023, including some new year toppers, Chinese New Year toppers and one for Burns Night with a haggis being piped in as per the tradition in Scotland.

Also had a couple of rants already this year. We are now in 2023, almost a quarter of the way into the current century, and yet some people still need to be told that ALL formats of book count as reading, and, yes, that DOES include audiobooks, and it’s very ableist to say they don’t count as they are a major way in which blind and visually-impaired people can enjoy books.

The other rant was aimed at spammers on Farcebook and their creepy way of replying to people’s comments with their bullshit about how they tried to send a friend request but FB wouldn’t let them. They always target females, so I’m going to have to change my profile pic back to something that’s not a photo of me, that should help reduce the number of requests to me from these pricks, but why do they even do it?

Do they actually get anyone who’s dim enough to fall for that shite? Do they actually get anyone who’s even remotely flattered by some creepy stranger putting a shit ton of flower emojis in their comment? I’ve seen forests less shady than these knobheads! Maybe that toxic ex-friend of mine might be gullible enough to fall for their smarm disguised as “charm”, but I can’t think of anyone else offhand who’d find that crap anything other than creepy and an insult to their intelligence.

Some of my happy mail this month – biscuits stickers and parcel tape. Also got wash tapes with the biscuits (cookies) on. They’re from Nikki’s Supply Store, but I have also had mail from the regulars – Oops a Daisy and Under the Rowan Trees, plus some from Gretel Creates and some stickers from The Dotty Room. I have a theme in mind for one of my journals which will include the biscuits!

The biscuits on the stickers are a Bourbon, a Jammie Dodger, a Custard Cream, a Party Ring (that pink circular one) and three Iced Gems. That’s for any of my followers outside of the UK who might not be familiar with certain popular British biscuits.

Back to the books, though, and there’s a couple more finishes to mention. Northerners, by Brian Groom, was polished off last week, and The Wood Age, by Roland Ennos, was finished in the wee small hours of Monday morning!

There was some crossover in what I was reading, and while coming to the end of The Wood Age, where Ennos was talking about trees taking over, I was reminded of Islands of Abandonment, by Cal Flyn, which I was reading around this time last year. That book, a former BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, was about how nature eventually returns to places abandoned by humans and pretty much takes over that corner of the world. Would definitely recommend.

So, with some books OFF the Ongoing Concerns, there is space for books to go ON the list! Bearing in mind that Days Like These, by Brian Bilston, will become an Ongoing Concern at the weekend when it reaches the 10% read stage on 5th February, it meant that there was space for another book, so one of my recent purchases has joined the list although I think it will be a fairly quick finish.

That book is Mother, Brother, Lover, by Jarvis Cocker, and it is the lyrics from a sizeable selection of his Pulp hits with some background note from Jarvis about the songs, how they came about and some places in Sheffield and local expressions that we would not otherwise be familiar with. You may recall that one of my 60 books read last year was Good Pop Bad Pop, in which Jarvis went exploring the contents of his loft and deciding whether to keep or cob – cob being a Sheffield term for “throw out”.

Mother, Brother, Lover is one of six books I have purchased in January, and you do know about one of the other ones, as I mentioned Dark Tide, by Stephen Puleo, in my blog on Sunday – that’s the book about the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. I will get round to mention of the other books in due course, but I will add that one of the other four is by a non-fiction writer I have already mentioned in these blogs a few times as I have read a few of her other books.

So, The Wood Age is a finished book, so comes off the OC list. Mother, Brother, Lover is 52% read already so well on the way to being an early finish in February. Dead Wake is 51% read, followed closely by The Man Who Tasted Words and Proust and the Squid, both 50% read. Buzzin’ by Bez is now at 37% read as I was reading some of that this evening, and Charles: Heart of a King is still 25% read. Days Like These will become an OC on Sunday.

That’s it for this month, then. Marcel Sabitzer is at the Carrington training ground and has had his medical. Just waiting for official confirmation that it has been passed and that he can be announced as a Manchester United player, but there will be more book news and waffle in February, which will hopefully contain news about the Read for 15 competition in Alberta, Canada.

As my friend Liz said, it’s a province-wide initiative, so they need to count up all participants from all libraries in that province, thus it takes a few days to add all that up. What we can tell you, though, is that Bashaw Public Library has over 60 children signed up to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library since they signed up to the initiative in late November.

I will be back again soon enough with the usual nonsense, and hopefully some more finished books, so until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse – Charlie Mackesy
  • Wall and Piece – Banksy
  • Jesus Christ Superstar – Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice
  • Northerners – Brian Groom
  • The Wood Age – Roland Ennos
  • Islands of Abandonment – Cal Flyn
  • Days Like These – Brian Bilston
  • Mother, Brother, Lover – Jarvis Cocker
  • Good Pop Bad Pop – Jarvis Cocker
  • Dark Tide – Stephen Puleo
  • Dead Wake – Erik Larson
  • The Man Who Tasted Words – Prof. Guy Leschziner
  • Proust and the Squid – Maryanne Wolf
  • Buzzin’ – Bez
  • Charles: Heart of a King – Catherine Mayer

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Food & Drink, Football, Half-Finished Books, Literary Issues, Manc Stuff!, Month in Review, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Poetry, Post Box Toppers, Rants, Stationery

Post Box Toppers, Hyped Books, and My 50th Armful…

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

I am back again for yet another waffling session in which some books will also get a mention, ha ha! Kung Hei Fat Choi for last weekend, as we let in the Chinese New Year last Sunday, so I wish all my followers happiness, prosperity and plenty of books during the Year of the Rabbit! This is why we’re starting this blog with a post box topper to celebrate the lunar new year.

Seems Word Press has now been taken over by Jet Pack. It remains to be seen as to how efficient it is or whether I have any lost blog problems like previously, but it seems that Word Press had actually taken over in the early days of my blogging, as I got an email around October last year to say happy 12th anniversary, but my actual 12th anniversary of this book blog was on 14th August!

I can’t even recall what blog host I was with back in August 2010, though. Word Press must have taken it over in the autumn (fall).

It was Burns Night on Wednesday, in honour of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, so here we have another brilliant post box topper, this one of a haggis being piped in!

Got a few books to the 50% stage since the previous blog, and we also have a finished book and another of the Ongoing Concerns which is now very close to being finished, and that is likely to be polished off either later tonight or tomorrow, so, all being well, we should have five finished books for January, which would be the same tally as this time last year.

Bit of a rant, though, before we go on to the book news, and this is not about spammers, unlike my previous rant, but about anything that gets hyped up. I guess I’ve never liked hype. I have always felt it spoiled things. Doesn’t mean I will always dislike something that gets hyped up, but maybe I will appreciate it more later on when the fuss has long died down.

Therefore, I’m not completely ruling out the prospect of reading a certain book by the Celebrity Formerly Known As a Prince, but I am in no rush to read it as it’s been on our news far too much in recent weeks – so many spoilers in the news that it makes you wonder if there’s actually any point in reading it as you know most of it already, lol!

Maybe, one day, I might get around to it, when I find it for 99p in a charity shop in 2027 or something like that, ha ha! Just to see what the fuss was about. A bit like when I bought Spycatcher from a charity shop a few years ago as that one had caused a fuss back when I was a teenager and was actually banned over here in the UK for a while! I’ve still not got around to reading Peter Wright’s book yet, though.

You may recall the above trophy from previous blogs – this was from last year. Well, Bashaw Public Library is aiming to retain that trophy and the Read for 15 event took place on Friday just gone, 27th January. I think readers had to notify the library the following day, so it might take a while before things are counted up, but I hope to hear some news soon from Liz as to whether they’ve retained the trophy or not.

Someone who has already won an award, however, is the poet Brian Bilston, as his current anthology, Days Like These, which is set to become an Ongoing Concern next Sunday, has been voted Overall Winner in the Indie Champions Awards run by Bookshop.Org, so well done to Brian!

Also, last weekend, I was at the donor centre in town to give a pint of my O positive to the Vampires! It was actually my 50th donation, so I should be getting a badge and a gold-coloured donor card in the post fairly soon. I got the text yesterday to inform me that my most recent armful has been given to Nottingham University Hospital. I love the fact that NHS Blood and Transplant send a text to tell you where your pint has gone, they’ve been doing this for a few years now.

As an added bonus, for the first time since the pandemic, I was able to sit down at the table and have a hot drink after my donation! I had a cup of tea, and also a packet of ginger nut biscuits (cookies). Definitely getting back to normal there, then. Always used to have a cuppa after giving blood before coronavirus came along, but it had been cold drinks only for a while, so it was good to get back to a brew!

Chief Bookworm’s got a brand new bag! Actually, I really should have shown you a bag I got in the run-up to Christmas but it’s a bit late for that one now, as it says Season’s Readings! Both that bag and the one in this photo were from Waterstone’s.

The main book news is that Northerners, by Brian Groom, is finished! My fourth book of the year, and The Wood Age, by Roland Ennos, is currently 88% read at time of typing, so that’s the one I aim to polish off either later tonight or tomorrow. Aiming for tonight, really, so I can get on with at least another book or two tomorrow! Then it’ll be time for the first monthly review blog on Tuesday as we finally reach the end of January! It’s such a long month, isn’t it?!

Really enjoying The Wood Age, and there have been bits in common with bits in Northerners. Also, with it being the history of wood, including its use in ships in the past, it kinda ties in with some of the stuff found by Lara Maiklem in Mudlarking, which was one of last year’s reads.

Was actually reading an article by Lara on Facebook earlier, about a boxwood comb that she had found which was now drying out nicely. She said that 82 such combs were found when the Mary Rose was raised in 1982 – something else I blogged about last year due to it being 40 years since the Tudor warship was raised – the Thames mud preserves a lot of stuff, so mudlarkers often find items in pretty good condition given how old some of them are!

The combs were quite fine-toothed and not unlike modern nit combs – indeed some head lice had been found on one of the combs! Reading about that took me back to the days when I was at primary school and the nit nurse would come in every now and then to check our heads for lice – she was always known as Nitty Nora, the Bug Explorer!

There are three other Ongoing Concerns that are at the halfway stage, so I plan to progress these further in the coming days… Dead Wake, by Erik Larson, is 51% read, with both Proust and the Squid, by Maryanne Wolf, and The Man Who Tasted Words, by Professor Guy Leschziner, both at 50% read at the moment. The other two OCs are Buzzin’, by Bez, and Charles: Heart of a King, by Catherine Mayer, which are 26% and 25% read respectively.

There are a couple of Premier League home games coming up for me in early February, so another two opportunities to read my Kindle on the way home from Old Trafford, although I don’t just read my Kindle when giving blood or coming home from the footy or ebooks would take even longer to read!

The book in the photo is Dark Tide, by Stephen Puleo, and it sounds fascinating. It’s about the Boston Molasses Flood of 1919, quite possibly one of the most surreal disasters in history. It was an explosion in the molasses factory on 15th January 1919, causing a wave to flood through the streets at 35mph and resulted in 21 deaths and 150 injuries. For those of us on my side of the Atlantic, molasses are similar to black treacle, both are a byproduct of the sugar refining process. So, try imagining streets overrunning with treacle! I shall let you know when I start on the book.

The above photos are some of my journaling, my March setup in my book journal. I have given it a weather theme. I’d show my theme for the general journal but it might be a bit soon and give spoilers away. It is over a week since I got my Mini One with the “Be Lucky” theme, but given that Royal Mail got hacked the other week and it has affected post to people overseas, I will give more time before posting pictures of my theme made with the contents of that box.

I’ve got themes in mind for April and also some for May. Not setting them up yet, but decades will form my April themes, whereas I have the coronation and some refreshments in mind for May.

Got myself a label maker when I was in town last Saturday – was quite busy and not just giving blood. Felt that I needed a new label maker so I got myself one from Ryman’s in the Arndale Centre, it’s a Brother P-Touch H200 and I’ve essentially got it to help me organise my stationery. I also paid a visit to a new bookshop in town, House of Books & Friends, which is a bookshop and café on King Street. If you know where Rosso is, the restaurant owned by Rio Ferdinand, then this bookshop is not too far from there.

I think that’s about it for now, but I will be back again fairly soon as I will need to do the monthly review blog on Tuesday! Until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Spycatcher – Peter Wright
  • Days Like These – Brian Bilston
  • Northerners – Brian Groom
  • The Wood Age – Roland Ennos
  • Mudlarking – Lara Maiklem
  • Dead Wake – Erik Larson
  • Proust and the Squid – Maryann Wolf
  • The Man Who Tasted Words – Prof. Guy Leschziner
  • Buzzin’ – Bez (Mark Berry)
  • Charles: Heart of a King – Catherine Mayer
  • Dark Tide – Stephen Puleo

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Food & Drink, Football, Half-Finished Books, Literary Issues, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Poetry, Post Box Toppers, Rants, Stationery, Uncategorized

Raiders of the Lost Blog!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Chief Bookworm here. Not Indiana Jones, lol, but we’re now the Raiders of the Lost Blog after what happened last night! I shall try to remember what it was I was blathering on about last night before things went Pete Tong, but I do have fresh stuff to add to the mix anyway.

I remember starting off with tributes to Gianluca Vialli and Jeff Beck as both the former footballer and the musician had passed away recently, Vialli aged 58 and Beck at 78.

Regarding Luca, I said that he was one of those guys in football who was such a top bloke that he transcended rivalry and was widely admired and loved regardless of allegiance. He played for and later managed Chelsea, but I still admired the guy despite the fact that I’m a die-hard Stretford Ender and would have preferred it if Mr Vialli had come to Old Trafford rather than going to Stamford Bridge!

Jeff Beck had been in The Yardbirds, and then formed his own band, the Jeff Beck Group. Late 60s so a few years before my time, but I am certainly familiar with one of his biggest hits, that being “Hi Ho Silver Lining”, which contains the fab lyrics, “The flies are in your pea soup, baby. They’re waving at me” – lol!

That’s my box from the 12 Days of Planning, but it’s now a very handy way of storing washi tapes. Have had a new one today, as the latest mini one arrived (see photo at the top) but I can’t show stuff yet, not giving away spoilers. I will say that the colour scheme of it is very green! The other box, underneath my Oops a Daisy happy mail, is another batch of catarrh pastilles.

In the original blog, which is probably floating around somewhere in internet limbo, I mentioned some big purple parcels. I had one on Saturday 7th January, and then another on Thursday 12th. Those were from Oops a Daisy. One was a journal with Bobby the Toucan on (named after Bobby Brown, as in Toucan Play That Game, ha ha), and the other was binders as I needed more for my stencils.

I actually need to get on with mentioning some books, though, as I have finished two more books since my first blog of the year, thus three so far in 2023…

The first of these two recent finishes was Wall and Piece, by Banksy, which I had bought back in early December when I went to The Art of Banksy at Media City on Salford Quays. It was briefly on the Ongoing Concerns for a couple of days, so when I come on to those, I will have a vacancy.

The other book is similar to the edition above – the sheet music for a selection of songs from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. I am having my audition on Thursday evening for the Mancunian Singers, the choir I started going to back in August, and I am singing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” as I know that’s a good pitch range for an alto like me – I sung it years ago when I was sixteen.

So, three books already this year. Good start despite the lurgy I had over new year! I count books of sheet music towards my Goodreads Challenge, as many of you already know. We have had orchestral scores and other books of sheet music on here before now.

This was a sneak peek from Oops a Daisy last week! Bookworms! So, we are getting a bookworm character and book-themed stuff! According to the Plan With Me video on You Tube yesterday, the book stuff is planned for March. Obviously, as a bookworm whose main reason for journaling is to track progress on the legendary Ongoing Concerns, book-themed stationery is something to get VERY excited about!

There’s also going to be some coffee-themed stuff and that’s due next month, but first up is the Stencil Time Machine at the end of January and an opportunity to get stencils that we have missed out on if we have only recently discovered Oops a Daisy, which I discovered in March last year thanks to Facebook. It was an advert for their bookshelves stencil, so obviously that piqued my interest!

However, while we are mentioning Farcebook, I have just remembered a rant I was having in the lost blog. It concerns those arseholes who reply to people’s comments and try to claim that they sent a friend request but Farcebook allegedly wouldn’t let them, which is the biggest load of bullshit ever…

I’ve already complained about these dickheads in general, but I want to express my disgust about when these carbuncles on the backside of humanity have the temerity to post their crap on certain pages for people with more than enough to contend with in life without having to put up with being chatted up by these creeps…

Included in this category of pages are, of course, pages for those with various medical conditions, disabilities or neurological differences, but just when I thought people couldn’t sink any lower than posting that shit on such groups, one lowlife by the name of Gregory, really plumbed the depths by putting that crap on a page for people going through bereavement!

Not only was this prick trying to chat up people who were grieving the loss of a loved one, but he started his bullshit comment with “Hello Smiling Queen”. I mean… What The Actual F**k?! Smiling queen?! To people on a bereavement support page?!

I wanted to reach through my iPad and punch Gregory’s f***in’ lights out! I was incensed! I wanted to ask this thoughtless bellend how he would like it if he was mourning the loss of a loved one and someone sent him a similar message! I admit I was feeling a bit raw, I’ve just had the 4th anniversary of losing my dad, but even without that anniversary, I would still have been fuming at the insensitivity of that prick. I put an angry face reaction, then reported and blocked the knobhead, but why should anyone have had to put up with that?!

This is why I have groups on FB, not pages. As an admin, groups are much easier to police, you can control who is allowed into the group in the first place, whereas with pages, anyone can like and follow, so you get a lot of dicks who just come on to cause trouble or at least annoyance.

About time I got on to the Ongoing Concerns, isn’t it?! We have FOUR of the OCs at the halfway stage now! Yay! Northerners, by Brian Groom, is 53% read. This is followed by Dead Wake, by Erik Larson, at 51% read, and both The Wood Age, by Roland Ennos, and Proust and the Squid, by Maryanne Wolf, are 50% read.

Charles: Heart of a King, by Catherine Mayer, is still at 25%, which is where it was at when I put it to bed in November, so that needs to be resumed, but The Man Who Tasted Words, by Professor Guy Leschziner, is now 17% read as of the early hours of today.

Reading this ebook, I discovered that the professor is an adopted Manc! He’s originally from Germany but came over here in the 80s when he was a kid due to his dad’s job, so grew up in Manchester! Visiting a visually-impaired patient, who had had sight at one point, he sees a framed maraca – it had belonged to Bez from the Happy Mondays and it took him on a nostalgia trip back to the Manc bands of the 80s and 90s!

He must be around a similar age to me. He said that when he hears the opening bars of a Stone Roses song, it takes him back to when he was sixteen, and that’s how old I was when I first heard the Stone Roses, when I was at Eccles College and embarking on my two years of work towards my Bastard A Levels, lol!

As I mentioned, I have room for another book on the Ongoing Concerns list as I only have six on there at the mo and Days Like These, by Brian Bilston, won’t reach the 10% stage until 5th February, which is just under three weeks away. There’s a good chance that one of the half-finished books will be 100% read by then, so I was thinking about possible new OCs, and I am thinking it might be Buzzin’, by Bez, or Mark Berry to give him his actual name – the guy whose maracas were seen by Professor Leschziner at a patient’s house!

So, I am off to look at the book situation and find Bez’s autobiography so I can get started on it. Hope this publishes properly and there’s no monkey business from Word Press this time! Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Wall and Piece – Banksy
  • Jesus Christ Superstar – Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice
  • Northerners – Brian Groom
  • Dead Wake – Erik Larson
  • The Wood Age – Roland Ennos
  • Proust and the Squid – Maryanne Wolf
  • Charles: Heart of a King – Catherine Mayer
  • The Man Who Tasted Words – Prof. Guy Leschziner
  • Days Like These – Brian Bilston
  • Buzzin’ – Bez

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Goodreads, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Poetry, Rants, Stationery

Thanks a Bunch, Word Press… NOT!

Natural Born Bookworm!
I Read Therefore I Am!

Hello fellow Bookworms.

Chief Bookworm is extremely pissed-off right now!

I had a blog. I pressed Publish. It appeared twice, so I thought I would send one to the bin. Went to the bin to delete that one permanently… and the other one went as well. So I have no blog and no way of getting it back.

All that typing gone. Tributes to Gianluca Vialli and Jeff Beck. Updates on the finished books and the Ongoing Concerns… a rant about spammers on FB, news about some of my stationery orders and big purple parcels… and it’s all gone.

Not typing it all out again right now. It’s quarter past eleven at night. If I can remember what I typed, and I do have prompts in my book journal, I might try again tomorrow, but I am seriously pissed-off right now! Just really bloody fed up.

Joanne x x x


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World Braille Day, Fay Weldon, and Other Random Stuff To Start 2023!

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

Happy New Year! Welcome to the start of 2023’s helpings of utter random waffle, lol!

You won’t get any of that “new year, new me” crapola on here. I don’t do that b.s. – instead you will get the same familiar stuff to which you have become accustomed – book news, music, football, food & drink, travel, post box toppers, stationery supplies and the general randomness of things! No doubt some really odd things might crop up, as pomanders and carboys did last year, ha ha!

Apologies that it has taken a few days into 2023 to get the ball rolling with this year’s blogs, and to publish the List Challenges lists from last year, but I have had the lurgy over new year, the notorious Badger’s Arse struck again, and so I’ve been a bit run down and am only just about ready to blog again.

We still had La Turka on New Year’s Eve, but Mum went down and explained that I wasn’t well, so we had our meal as a takeaway instead of dining in, and they were so lovely and provided several bottles of wine and Prosecco to go with our food!

As you can tell, there have been some fab toppers to let in 2023, so there will be some amongst my photos on tonight’s blog.

Let’s get down to business though, on the book front, and first up, we have some sad news to report as Fay Weldon has passed away today. She was 91. Possibly her most famous work was The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, published in 1983, as it was adapted for TV in 1986, but she was also a scriptwriter, including the first episode of “Upstairs Downstairs” in 1971 – the “Downton Abbey” of its day, and in the 60s, she’d worked in advertising and had come up with the “Go To Work On an Egg” campaign!

Mind you, she’s not the only author who’s ever come up with a well-known advertising campaign, and I’m going to set you one of my little teasers for this blog – answer at the end of the blog… Which famous author came up with the “Naughty But Nice” campaign for fresh cream cakes in the 1980s? You can see how you got on later!

Despite my lurgy, which has included some of the worst catarrh I have had in quite a while, I have managed to get off the mark on the reading front. Given that the animated film has been on TV here a few times over Christmas and New Year, I figured that it would be good to have a re-read of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy, so we do at least have a book read already this year.

I have also got a year-long read for this year. Regular followers will recall that, in 2021, I spent the year reading The Wrong Kind of Snow, by Antony Woodward and Robert Penn. Well, this year it’s poetry, but it’s a book where there’s an entry for each day, so I will be reading it thoughout the year. This book is Days Like These, by the brilliant Brian Bilston, who many of you may know from Facebook and Instagram.

You may remember the above bookmark if you’re a regular follower, at least if you’ve been reading this blog since 2021 – I stitched it back then, and it is my name in Braille.

I am posting it again because today is World Braille Day – 4th January was Louis Braille’s birthday. At the time I stitched the bookmark, I was reading a book by a guy who went blind, so I was looking up Braille and figured that cross-stitched crosses would feel similar to the raised dots of Braille and worked out my name and surname initials in Braille, stitching them in a very pale cream floss.

It brings me on to one of my pet peeves on the book groups and pages of Farcebook – why is it that some people still question whether certain formats count as books or not? If it has an ISBN number, it counts as a book, and audiobooks have ISBN numbers! I’m not an audiobook listener, only ever listened to two books being read that way on a set of CDs, but I accept all formats as books, and feel that not doing so is discriminatory and counter-productive.

What if our eyes go wrong at some stage? What if we love books, but can’t enjoy them the way we do now due to visual problems? Yes, there is Braille, which we have been mentioning, but I’m not all that sure of the availability of popular book titles in Braille editions, or how much they might cost – I imagine it costs a bob or two to make a Braille edition of any given book. But audiobooks are quite widely available, and often available to borrow from libraries, so even if you can’t afford to buy an audiobook, you can still have access to them.

Also, the book is being read to you, you are not having to run your fingers along a page of raised dots and try to work out if the dots are a letter or a number. Braille is a brilliant invention, but I figure it must take some learning. I once saw a video with a blind flautist talking about music in Braille – basically, she really has to feel and learn that piece of music really thoroughly before picking up her flute to play it!

Anyway, as we are now into 2023, the time has come to wake the Ongoing Concerns from their nap, lol! You may recall that they were put to bed at the end of November, and had all reached at least 25% – so now it is a matter of waking them up again and making progress with them, so the first of them to have been resumed is The Wood Age, by Roland Ennos, and that is now 35% read, so just over a third of the way through it!

(The part I was reading earlier actually mentioned the Fertile Crescent, which is in modern day Turkey, and which links back to the books about bread that I was reading in 2021!)

Although I have started Days Like These, by Brian Bilston, due to the nature of the book, a poem for each day of the year, I won’t be reaching the 10% stage until around 5th February, so it won’t be an official Ongoing Concern until early next month. Therefore, there is a chance to get other OCs progressed and finished, and other new books started.

I have started one on my Kindle at the end of last year, and was reading a bit more of it last night – regular blog followers will know that I have a post-match e-book for when I’m in my sister’s car and on the way home from Old Trafford – if it takes a while to get out of the car park where we park, and it does sometimes, I get a bit of reading done!

So, on 27th December, after our 3-0 home victory against Nottingham Forest, I started The Man Who Tasted Words, by Professor Guy Leschziner, and got a bit more read last night after our 3-0 victory over Bournemouth. I don’t reserve my Kindle purely for after football matches, but that is one of the common times for me to read an ebook. The other times are on my jollies or if I’m giving a pint of my finest O positive to the “Vampires”! It’s much easier to tap the screen of my Kindle when giving blood than trying to turn the pages of a physical book.

That is my book journal for the start of this year, by the way! I may have shown it to you before, but this one starts 2023 as the book journal. I have learned from last year, though. You don’t have to cram 12 months into one book, so there will be journals coming off the “subs’ bench” so to speak, lol, when the current ones are full. The fountain pen character on the front goes by the name of Penny Doodles. January’s theme is the pun-tastic “Now is the Winter of our Discount Tents!” – I couldn’t resist, plus there was an “Into the Wild” themed box from Oops a Daisy at the end of last year which practically lent itself to the discount tents theme perfectly!

I think that’s probably about all for now news-wise. I have set up a new list on List Challenges for all books mentioned on here during the course of 2023, and one for all the books I get read this year, but I am no longer bothering with either the monthly lists or part-year lists.

The only thing remaining is to give you the answer to that little teaser I set at the start of the blog. I asked which famous author was responsible for the “Naughty But Nice” advertising campaign for fresh cream cakes back in the 80s when I was a kid. The correct answer is Sir Salman Rushdie! How did you do?

So, with all that wrapped up, it brings us to the end of the blog for tonight, so don’t forget to switch off your sets, lol! Oops! Sorry, this is not a television close down, it’s just me saying, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Life and Loves of a She-Devil – Fay Weldon
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse – Charlie Mackesy
  • The Wrong Kind of Snow – Antony Woodward & Robert Penn
  • Days Like These – Brian Bilston
  • The Wood Age – Roland Ennos
  • The Man Who Tasted Words – Professor Guy Leschziner

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Just a Short One For Now…

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

I was hoping to get one last blog in before 2022 was out, but I’ve really been feeling quite dodgy today, the catarrh is really playing up big time, and I am trying to fend it off and be well for tomorrow to let in the new year.

So, I will tell you that I have finished on 60 books this year, same total as 2020, ten fewer than last year’s 70 books, and I am pretty chuffed with that. To have read the same number of books this year as I did in a year affected by pandemic and lockdowns when this year has been spent a more “normal” manner, is pretty good! I went to shows and concerts, went overseas on my holidays (vacations) and ran my half of the stall at two church fairs… and still managed to fit in the reading of sixty books!

Hopefully, I will be feeling OK at the start of 2023 and can blog then to let you know about the Ongoing Concerns being woken up from their nap, and the new stuff I fancy reading in the coming year.

So, that is about it for now, I’m afraid. Sorry it’s so short, and I wish all my followers all the best for a Happy New Year! Until next year, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

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Boxing Day Blog and 2022 Review of the Year Pt 3!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Hope you all had a good Christmas and that you got some books or at least a gift card or two to spend on reading matter! I got a WH Smith gift card amongst my pressies, so when the mad rush from the sales has died down, I shall have a shufty! I know some things I need for next Christmas, though… gift bags and gift tags, and a selection of bows as I discovered that I was really getting short of gift tags and bows, and that most of my bags were bottle bags!

We shall bring you up to date with December’s reads in a bit, and I can now include the two books I bought Reuben for Christmas, but we need to head back to September first, when I had just got back from Madeira and had a change of prime minister and monarch within days of each other!

So, September… was still on my jollies in Madeira as the month started, watching my nephew catch lizards, lol! I only managed to finish two books this month, my lowest monthly tally for 2022, and those books were Leap In, by Alexandra Heminsley, about open swimming, and The End of the Road, by Jack Cooke, a trip around the UK in search of interesting graves and tales about the deceased. Both these books would not be the last books this year on those topics as I ended up heading down some rabbit holes…

Don’t get me started on the changes at 10 Downing Street this autumn! And then, of course, there has been the change of head of state as well… This year in the UK, we have had three Prime Ministers, 2 monarchs and a partridge in a pear tree! The knitted topper of King Charles III is great, but I have to admit I am still not used to having a king yet, even though he gave his first Christmas speech yesterday and the Royal Mint have started circulating 50p coins with his head on. Still a bit too used to having a queen!

Attempted to give blood in September, but due to having been to Madeira on my jollies, I had to rebook for early October as it was too soon to donate. When I DID donate in October, I had a bone to pick with my Kindle as it needed charging up! No idea how the battery had run down quickly given that I have it in airplane mode most of the time and with the screen off!

We said goodbye to Dame Hilary Mantel in September, the double Booker Prize winner, for Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, passed away at the age of 70. Not sure if she’s the only author to win that prize more than once, but I certainly can’t think of any others so if there are any, I doubt there’s that many of them.

Since I started mentioning post box toppers on here, we have had quite a variety of them on different themes. These last four months have brought about a range of themes… we’ve had tributes to HM the Queen who passed away in September aged 96, and also one or two of King Charles III. We have then had autumnal ones, particularly spooky ones for Halloween, followed by soldier’s heads and poppies for Remembrance Day. We have had football toppers for the World Cup, and, of course festive toppers for Christmas!

Queen Elizabeth, by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, was my first finish for October, and that was followed by the brilliant novel Thrown, by Sara Cox. In the previous blog, I mentioned Mudlarking, by Lara Maiklem, and said that would not be the last mention of that activity – it won’t because the husband of one of the main characters in Thrown goes mudlarking as part of the plot! Thrown is about pottery, but a lot of the items Lara has found down by the Thames have been bits of ancient pottery!

We can’t mention October without mentioning the fact that it’s my nephew’s birthday month and he turned six. Obviously, as a responsible auntie, Chief Bookworm bought Reuben some reading matter amongst his presents. The books I bought him, and read before I wrapped them up, were Lizard in a Blizzard, by Lesley Sims, The Bumblebear, by Nadia Shireen, and Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell.

To finish off October’s reading, I polished off Packing for Mars, by Mary Roach, which was on my Kindle, and my nod towards Halloween and all things spooky, which was A Tomb With a View, by Peter Ross. Seven books finished in October which got things back on track after only two finishes in September.

To be fair, though, I did think that my total might be at least a bit lower than those of 2020 and 2021 as we have been getting back to some semblance of “normal” this year compared to the lockdown-affected parts of the previous two years.

Right then… November, and this was the month I had a week’s annual leave, but came down with the lurgy after two days of it when the notorious Badger’s Arse struck! I did manage to make The Tassel, though! This tassel kit was part of my Rowan Berry After Dark Box in October and I got round to making it while off work in November and attaching it to one of my cross-stitched bookmarks!

The World Cup got under way in mid November and was won, just before Christmas, by Argentina after an end-to-end final with France. This means that Lisandro Martinez will be coming back to United as a World Cup Winner! Raphael Varane, his centre-back partner, was a winner from the previous World Cup in 2018 when France won in Russia. England got to the quarter-finals but lost 1-2 to eventual runners-up, France. Rumour is that the ball from Harry Kane’s second penalty is still orbiting the moon, lol!

Bashaw Municipal Library in Alberta, Canada, became an affiliate library of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in November, and to celebrate this becoming official, my friend Liz volunteered at the launch event, acting as “Molly Parton”, hence the photo above!

I finished five books in November, starting with Waterlog, by Roger Deakin. When I had mentioned Leap In back in September, I said it wasn’t the only book about outdoor swimming, which it wasn’t as Waterlog was the other one. – Roger Deakin’s account of swimming his way around the UK in the late 90s by way of rivers, lakes, streams and lido pools… the fact that he started his swimming adventure on my birthday was proof that I was meant to read that book!

Mail Obsession, by Mark Mason, was the next finish. Another round the UK book, but this time by postcode areas, and full of fascinating info for nerds like me, ha ha! That was the last one that was an ebook as there was no real point in choosing another Kindle read for a while due to the World Cup taking place – I had no United matches to go to and that’s when I’m most likely to read my Kindle – on the way home from Old Trafford.

The Circling Sky, by Neil Ansell, was next up, then Drama Queen by Sara Gibbs was polished off. The fifth and final finish for November was The Cloudspotter’s Guide, by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, which was a very enjoyable read and a good addition to the list of weather-related books I’ve read in the last year or two!

As this was the end of November, I decided to do what I had done the previous year – I let the Ongoing Concerns go to sleep for December! There are five books on the OC list and they are all at least 25% read – the range is currently from 25% to 28% – and will be resumed in the coming year. I spend December reading whatever random stuff I fancy!

December’s post box topper on Parrin Lane – the lights on the Christmas tree light up in the evening! Was quite busy as the month started as the Christmas Fair at St Thomas’ was on 3rd December, and then the following day we were off to Lapland for the day! We even saw the Northern Lights when we were on the plane home!

December’s finishes started with A Ukrainian Christmas, by Yaroslav Hrytsak, and then Librorum Ridiculorum, by Brian Lake, a book full of obscure and daft books, the best of which has to be Planet of the Knob Heads, by Stanton A. Coblentz – this is a genuine work of science fiction, believe it or not! I hope that particular fiction never becomes reality – we don’t need a planet of knob heads when there’s too many of those already here on Earth, lol!

Gin, by Shonna Milliken Humphrey, was next up, an Object Lessons book about one of my favourite tipples, and then that brings us up to Christmas and the books I bought Reuben. Those were Town Mouse, Country Mouse, by Libby Walden, and The Stinky Sprouts, by Rosie Greening. This means that, with just under a week left of 2022, I have read 59 books! Will there be a 60th, I hear you ask…

Well, all being well, there should be, as I am currently 77% of the way through Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops, by Shaun Bythell, one of the books I bought from his bookshop in Wigtown in 2021, and which he very kindly signed for me. So, if I get that wrapped up after this blog is done, I can claim book number 60, which would be the same total as 2020, and I will be very chuffed with that!

Ah, that meme never gets old, lol! Thought we’d have that in honour of the late Terry Hall who we lost last week at the age of just 63. When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, The Specials and Fun Boy Three made a significant contribution to the soundtrack of my childhood, so thank you for the music, Terry.

My book journal for 2023 is all set up and ready to go, the Ongoing Concerns will be woken from their naps in January, and I do hope to get one more blog in before the year is over, if only to have a look at one or two books that I might want to start in the new year.

We have spent three blog entries looking back at 2022 and this year’s books, so it’s only fair to have a look at possible new reads for 2023 and a look at the Ongoing Concerns which will be about to wake up again. I think I will just go back to doing one big list on List Challenges, though, for the whole year. Not long until I publish the 2022 list, so you will soon get to check off what you’ve read from all the books I’ve mentioned during the course of this year’s blogs!

As I said, I do hope to get one more blog in for this year, but until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Leap In – Alexandra Heminsley
  • The End of the Road – Jack Cooke
  • Wolf Hall – Dame Hilary Mantel
  • Bring Up the Bodies – Dame Hilary Mantel
  • Queen Elizabeth – Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
  • Thrown – Sara Cox
  • Mudlarking – Lara Maiklem
  • Lizard in a Blizzard – Lesley Sims
  • The Bumblebear – Nadia Shireen
  • Owl Babies – Martin Waddell
  • Packing for Mars – Mary Roach
  • A Tomb With a View – Peter Ross
  • Waterlog – Roger Deakin
  • Mail Obsession – Mark Mason
  • The Circling Sky – Neil Ansell
  • Drama Queen – Sara Gibbs
  • The Cloudspotter’s Guide – Gavin Pretor-Pinney
  • A Ukrainian Christmas – Yaroslav Hrytsak
  • Librorum Ridiculorum – Brian Lake
  • Planet of the Knob Heads – Stanton A. Coblentz
  • Gin – Shonna Milliken Humphrey
  • Town Mouse, Country Mouse – Libby Walden
  • The Stinky Sprouts – Rosie Greening
  • Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops – Shaun Bythell

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2022 Review of the Year Pt 2 and More Assorted Nonsense…

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

* sings * Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, but the very next day, you sold it on eBay…

Oops! Sorry! My niece’s alternative lyrics to the Wham classic! We are only a matter of days away from the big day, and tomorrow is my last working day of 2022, so it’s about time I got my arse in gear and did part 2 of the review of the year, isn’t it? In today’s look back, we are reviewing what got read and what I was up to from May to August.

I will also be blathering on about some more recent stuff, including last night’s outing and the big pink spiky thing in the photo, lol, but we need to get back to the lighter nights of May and the reading matter that mattered at the time…

Obviously, May means Star Wars Day (see above) but it also means Eurovision Song Contest time, the annual continental festival of dubious singing, wacky costumes and biased voting, ha ha! To that end, my first finish for May was The Little Book of Eurovision, by Alexandra Parsons. Amazingly, my worst fears didn’t happen and far from getting the infamous “nul points” the United Kingdom actually came second! The words “Royaume Uni, douze points” were actually heard on a number of occasions! Good job I was sitting down, ha ha!

Ukraine won, as was expected, but as they are not in a position to be able to host the contest in 2023, it will be held over here on their behalf, and Liverpool will be hosting the event – apparently, they are twinned with the city of Odessa, so it makes sense.

Prince, by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, was next up on the books read list, followed by Windswept & Interesting, by Sir Billy Connolly – that was lent to Mum afterwards.

Question Time, by Mark Mason, and To Hull and Back, by Tom Chesshyre, two books about travelling around the UK, one for quizzes and the other for unlikely tourist destinations, completed May’s five finished books. It was the month I was off to the Manchester Arena with my mate, Sarah, to see the Pet Shop Boys on the Dreamworld Tour that had twice been postponed due to coronavirus. Well worth the two year wait, though!

Sadly, though, we did say goodbye to Vangelis (of “Chariots of Fire” fame) and Andy Fletcher from Depeche Mode, two big losses to the music world, particularly for those of us who love synth music.

June only saw three books being finished, but this is possibly due to the fact that, for the first time since going over to Ireland in February 2020, I was packing my bags and leaving on a jet plane! Yep! Mum and I were off to Gran Canaria for 10 nights at the Hotel Cordial Mogán Playa in Puerto Mogán, and to say we could recommend it would be a massive understatement! We did enjoy the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, and bank holidays, and then we were off to sun ourselves in the Canaries!

That restaurant is Los Guayres, it’s in the hotel, and it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant! Mum and I dined there while we stayed and I can definitely say it’s well worth doing. Yeah, it’s pricey, but the food, the drink, the setting, the level of service… and we did get some discount for being hotel guests, too, so it wasn’t actually as expensive as advertised! It’s one of those “bucket list” things, isn’t it? Well, I can tick that off mine, although I’m hardly averse to repeating the experience, ha ha!

As for books read in June, As Easy as Pi, by Jamie Buchan, was read before we jetted off, but Seashaken Houses, by Tom Nancollas, about lighthouses, was polished off by the pool in Gran Canaria. Catch Your Breath, by Ed Patrick, completed the trio of finished books – I had bought that at WH Smith’s in the departure lounge at Manchester Airport!

The music news was that the TV series “Stranger Things” had led to Kate Bush having only her second-ever UK number one! Way back when I was nearly 5, she had topped the charts with her debut single, “Wuthering Heights” based on the novel by Emily Brontë, but this was the re-release of her 1985 hit “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” that saw her back at number one after a gap of 44 years since 1978!

When we got back, it was a case of Error 404: Carpet Not Found, but a few days later, we had a brand new carpet in the house! We also had the church fair at St Thomas’ not long after we got back, a busy day as it was also my sister’s birthday that day!

That is Mum meeting Will Moore and getting her copy of Boys Will Be Boys signed by him – I’m not the only one in my family who gets to meet authors and get books signed! Talking of books, my office had a bookcase. Got quite a few books to mention for July as nine of them got finished off that month, my most successful month this year on the reading front.

Elementary, by James M. Russell, was the first of those, a book about the elements of the periodic table, so something Dad might have been interested in reading. Good Pop Bad Pop, by Jarvis Cocker, was next up, and if he has more stuff to explore in his loft, that would be great as this book was brilliant! I’m a bit biased, though. Pulp were my favourites from the mid 90s Britpop era, especially because of their 1995 album, “Different Class”.

We then had Atlas of Improbable Places, by Travis Elborough, It’s a Love Story, by Shirlie & Martin Kemp, which you may remember was a pressie from my friend Sarah, and Mog and the Baby, by Judith Kerr. It was after this that Arsène Lupin Gentleman Thief, by M got polished off. Talking of Sarah, as I was when I mentioned the joint autobiography, she hit her Big 50 in July. I had already given her her pressies back in May, though, when we went to see the Pet Shop Boys.

A book bench at the Lowry Theatre on Salford Quays. My nephew’s primary school designed one of them, although I think that one was somewhere near the school. I did get to visit a few, though, and an exhibition of artwork based on children’s books, thus I read Coming to England, by Dame Floella Benjamin, and Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson. Salford History Tour, by Paul Hindle, completes the 9 books polished off by me in July.

Can’t leave July, however, without mentioning that football came home! The Lionesses, England’s ladies, won the UEFA Women’s European Championships, beating Germany 2-1 in the final, so although I am still waiting for our men to win a trophy in my lifetime, and it is now 56 years of hurt for them, we had something to celebrate, and our ladies deservedly won Team of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards last night, with their manager, Sarina Wiegman, winning Coach of the Year. Quite right too!

So, to August, and three book finishes to mention for this month. Two of them were from the Little People, Big Dreams series by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, and were books about Ayrton Senna and Elton John.

The other book I read in August was one I had chanced on a while back, Mudlarking, by Lara Maiklem, which was a fascinating read about the items that can be found on the foreshore of the Thames, often very well preserved due to the mud! There are also connections between this and some of my autumnal reading matter, but you will have to wait until after Christmas for the remainder of this year’s look-back!

It was the 12th blog anniversary in August, so party time on here, ha ha! We had a look back at the weird and wonderful items of reading matter that had ever had a mention on here since 14th August 2010. Sadly, though, we said goodbye to Dame Olivia Newton-John and also to Raymond Briggs, so as we are about to celebrate the animated film version of The Snowman turning 40, he is not around to see it. I think a special introduction is planned by Channel Four.

August ends with us jetting off to Madeira for a week, in which we discover that my nephew is as mad on lizards as he is on dinosaurs! He even managed to catch and hold a few Madeiran Wall Lizards while we were there!

So, back to the present day now, to report on some festive matters, like the current post box topper on Parrin Lane. Actually, it has lights on the tree, and it was lit up the other evening! Talking of Christmas lights, we were at RHS Bridgewater yesterday evening for the RHS Glow event, hence that big pink spiky star-like thing in the photo at the start of the blog!

Also, we should mention “Christmas Lights” as in the Coldplay song as it was one of the two songs my niece, Charlotte, performed on Sunday evening at the Anthem Music School Big Christmas Gig! The other song was “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon.

Another big loss to the music world to report, though, as we lost Terry Hall on Monday – the frontman of The Specials and Fun Boy Three, thus he made a significant contribution to the soundtrack of my childhood as I was growing up in the 70s and 80s. He was also a massive fellow Red and a proper, knowledgeable matchgoing fan when he could get to games, unlike a lot of celebrity football fans. Only 63, which is no age, is it?

Not very seasonal, eh?! But it was in my Advent Box from Under the Rowan Trees, and it is a scented ice lolly eraser, taking me right back to my 80s childhood! I did have a sizeable collection of novelty erasers back in the day, including a clothespeg with an actual spring in it, an audio cassette in a case, and a little t-shirt one in a mini packet – it was scented like washing powder!

Mind you, lots of 80s stuff is having a revival, isn’t it? And I don’t just mean Kate Bush songs, although those are included. I was more on about the toys that first came out when I was a kid – Transformers, My Little Pony, and Care Bears! I was in either first or second year of high school, probably first year, and it was like all us girls had a mini poseable Good Luck Bear and they sat on our desks as we sat our exams at school, lol!

The Object Lessons book, Gin, by Shonna Milliken Humphrey, has been finished, so 57 books have been finished so far this year. Will I get to 60? Find out after Christmas! Currently, I am reading Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops, by Shaun Bythell – one of the books I bought from his shop in Wigtown last year when I visited Scotland’s national book town, and he signed it for me.

Before I bring this to an end, ever heard some music on an advert and you know you know it from a song? Like, it’s the instrumental part, just so it can be talked over on the commercial, and you know you recognise it, it’s from some time ago, like the noughties, and you recall liking it at the time but can’t put your finger on what the song is and it drives you nuts?

Well, the music from the Very Pay commercial was doing that to me until Shar Matsell came to my rescue on Facebook – the song is “Fill My Little World” by The Feeling from 2006 and I have since downloaded it. I think I may have the CD somewhere, the album was “Twelve Stops and Home”.

The box in the photo starts on Sunday! Well, I mean opening the envelopes in it starts on Christmas Day. My Advent Box ends and my 12 Days of Planning Box starts, so that’s quite handy!

That pretty much wraps things up for now, just like my pressies are wrapped up, lol, so we bring The Blog Before Christmas to a close and I will be back once stockings have been emptied, gifts unwrapped, the King’s Speech watched (still not used to not having a Queen, though), and I am full of turkey and stuffing and burping not so gently, ha ha! Until then, I wish all my followers all the best for a Merry Christmas and I’ll probably be back on Boxing Day!

Hope you all get some books or at least gift cards for bookstores!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Little Book of Eurovision – Alexandra Parsons
  • Prince – Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
  • Windswept & Interesting – Sir Billy Connolly
  • Question Time – Mark Mason
  • To Hull and Back – Tom Chesshyre
  • As Easy as Pi – Jamie Buchan
  • Seashaken Houses – Tom Nancollas
  • Catch Your Breath – Ed Patrick
  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
  • Boys Will Be Boys – Will Moore
  • Elementary – James M. Russell
  • Good Pop Bad Pop – Jarvis Cocker
  • Atlas of Improbable Places – Travis Elborough
  • It’s a Love Story – Shirlie & Martin Kemp
  • Mog and the Baby – Judith Kerr
  • Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Thief – Maurice Leblanc
  • Coming to England – Dame Floella Benjamin
  • Room On the Broom – Julia Donaldson
  • Salford History Tour – Paul Hindle
  • Ayrton Senna – Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
  • Elton John – Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
  • Mudlarking – Lara Maiklem
  • The Snowman – Raymond Briggs
  • Gin – Shonna Milliken Humphrey
  • Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops – Shaun Bythell

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2022 Review of the Year Pt 1 and Other Miscellaneous Waffle…

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

That time of the year again! As I have read a considerable amount of books so far this year, with about 3 weeks left of 2022, I figured that the sensible thing would be to do the review of the year in a few parts as I have done in recent years, so we are starting this tonight by going right back to the start of the year and looking at the books I read and the absolute random guff I was wiffling on about between January and April.

I will then get on to some more recent news of mine and some recent finishes on the book front, but let’s set the time machine right back to the start of 2022, when yours truly was letting in the new year with some fancy cheese on Hovis digestives and listening to a top 40 of George Michael and Wham songs on Radio 2…

There were five books finished in January and some cross-stitch was being done. Found a piece of aida fabric onto which I had stitched a ship right in the middle. That ended up being an old-style sampler bookmark. First up on the book front was Up In the Air, by Terry Deary, and was a Horrible Histories book about the history of flight and the invention of all sorts of flying machines, including aeroplanes, zeppelins and hot air balloons.

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka was next, followed by Mean Time, by Carol Ann Duffy – my only poetry anthology so far this year, although there is time to sneak another one in before the year is out. I was also wittering on about Christmas pressies that we used to get back in the 70s and 80s when I was a kid, all thanks to the comedienne Sarah Millican, lol! I was watching a video of her at the time, via Facebook, and she mentioned pomanders, which is what set me off on the retro pressies theme, ha ha!

Map Addict, by Mike Parker, was the next book to be finished. That had been an Ongoing Concern in 2021 and I put those to bed at the end of November, so I was resuming it in the new year and then finished it off. January’s final finish was Islands of Abandonment, by Cal Flyn, which was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and a fascinating read. One of my favourites from this year.

I also had a bit of a rant at the dickheads on Instagram, as there was a spate of idiots copying me into their spam, claiming I’d won an iPhone 13, and other total pricks messaging me about their stupid MLM crap, which is the sort of rubbish that my Toxic Ex-Friend used to fall for, and probably still does as she is one of the most gullible numpties I have ever known!

Right, anyway… February… Chinese New Year saw us let in the Year of the Tiger, and saw Chief Bookworm polish off another five books! More bookmarks were made, including the Ukrainian pattern one and the Winter of our Discount Tents one, lol! Wintering, by Katherine May, was the first book finished in February.

The weather was its usual self, i.e. that well-known technical term of shite! There were three winter storms on the trot, so wheelie bins were reported to be racing down roads doing their best impression of Lewis Hamilton in the Formula 1 Grand Prix, ha ha! I heard one rumour of a wheelie bin getting flashed by a speed camera!

Next books read in February were a couple of children’s books, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, by Jon Scieszka, and The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr – given we had let in the Year of the Tiger, I felt that one needed to be read! Music autobiographies brought February’s reads to a finish, as I polished off True, by Martin Kemp, and Face It, by Debbie Harry.

It was also the month that Mum started sorting out the garage, and my Ongoing Concerns wipeboard was found, complete with the magnets still on it! That was put back in use. Mum also found her programme and the tickets from the athletics heats at the 1972 Olympics in Munich! These were mentioned on the blog, along with some Olympic stadia I have visited.

Right then, marching into March, ha ha! Due to the garage sort-out it meant that it was easier for me to get to the Book Chest and have a good ol’ Book Reshuffle! There were four books finished in March, but also some books bought due to Mum having had an offer from British Gas – it was an offer for discount on books from Waterstone’s so she let me partake of that offer!

At the start of the year, or even end of 2021, I had decided that keepimg a journal might be useful, especially for tracking my reading progress, so I started one for my books and also a general one, in dot grid journals from Kenji. Early on in the year, it was quite hard to distinguish which one was for books and which was general, but as this year has gone on, it has separated out better, and March was when I started getting more stencils to make my layouts look clearer and to add a touch more colour and creativity to them.

There are definite distinct monthly themes now and pages that I have each month for my Ongoing Concerns and my blog notes. Also, I now know that there are no rules, lol, it’s entirely up to each person what the content is, and that you don’t have to cram a full year into one book, which is what I have done with the book journal, but realised I didn’t have space for blog notes, so those have had to go in the general journal. They will be in the book journal as of 2023.

Those books are the ones I got thanks to Mum’s offer from British Gas in conjunction with Waterstone’s.

As for what I read in March, Life’s What You Make It, by Phillip Schofield was first up, followed by Britain By the Book, by Oliver Tearle. My Mess is a Bit of a Life, by Georgina Pritchett was next, probably the best book title of the year, and RuPaul, by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara was the other book, one of the Little People Big Dreams series. More of those coming up later in the year.

March also included the second anniversary of working from home! I am still working from home, and it is great. In February, I became part of our dedicated minute-taking team, so it won’t be long until the first anniversary of my current role.

April coming up, and then we can get back to the present day and give you some more recent news, but let’s head back to my birthday month and bring the first part of the review of the year to a close.

April meant it was Easter, and the above egg is what I won in my niece’s competition to design an Easter egg. I also discovered the joys of Gigantic Chocolate Buttons from Marks & Spencer’s, and when I say gigantic buttons, I am not exaggerating – they are huge! Available in chocolate orange or mint chocolate with crispy minty bits! Would definitely recommend!

I also mentioned carboys in this month – the tall glass vessels that were traditionally displayed in chemist’s shop windows, and I mentioned Lark Hill Place, the Victorian street at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery. I WAS going to go there in November when I was on annual leave, but as you already know, the lurgy struck and I wasn’t well enough. If it’s open between Christmas and New Year, I might go then if no Badger’s Arse interferes with my plans.

As for books, six of them were finished in April, including a couple which were Easter pressies for Reuben. I Named My Dog Pushkin, by Margarita Gokun Silver, was the first finish for April, followed by the absolutely brilliant Anti-Social, by Nick Pettigrew, which had been a recommendation from Ian Dixon on my book group on Facebook.

Then came the two books I had bought for Reuben, and I actually read these in March, but I only count them once the recipient has had them if they are pressies, so they went on the April list as they were given for Easter. They were Don’t Ask the Dragon, by Lemn Sissay, and You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger, by Patricia Cleveland-Peck.

Two more books brought the April total to six and the total for the year so far up to 20 at this point. They were Unmasking Autism, by Dr Devon Price, and a re-read of I Hate Myself and Want to Die, by Tom Reynolds, which is his selection of 52 of the gloomiest tunes ever commited to vinyl in his view, with his explanations of what makes them so damn grim!

However, I do recall saying at the time that I have never found “McArthur Park” a gloomy song. A bit odd perhaps, but you do have to bear in mind it was written in the 60s and could well have been written under the influence of mind-altering substances! The imagery conjured up in the lyrics could easily have been a trip if someone was on drugs!

So, that pretty much takes us up to April and thus the first part of our annual review is done. That’s me with my book journal, by the way! That means we can have a look at some more recent news now, like December’s stuff…

We had the Christmas Fair at St Thomas’s on Saturday 3rd December and our stall made £103! The church as a whole did brilliantly and well over a grand was raised overall. The following day was a long one but a good ‘un as we were off for a day trip to Lapland!

You may well recall that we went back in 2018 when Dad was still with us, but four years on we went again. Reuben is now 6 so old enough to remember it and enjoy it more. He was only two last time. Also, the weather was milder this time. It was snowing all day, so it wasn’t bitterly cold as it was in 2018. As an added bonus, we saw the Northern Lights when we were on the plane home and flying over Norway!

Chief Bookworm has got a brand new phone! I was having trouble with my old one prior to going to Lapland. I had had it over four and a half years, to be fair, but I was having problems getting it to charge up – it was really slow to juice up and would stop charging even though it was plugged in, so the day after Lapland, as I was on annual leave, it was off to the O2 shop at the Trafford Centre and I now have a Sony Xperia 5 IV.

I also went to Media City that afternoon – The Art of Banksy is on until early January, I think. As I was off, I had booked to see it so I got a tram and went. Would definitely recommend. It is where the Van Gogh one was last year, just near the tram stop and the BBC HQ.

Some recent happy mail! As we are having postal strikes on certain days, post has been a tad random, but things have eventually been getting through. At the moment, I am actually only waiting for one parcel now. There’s also the VIP stencil, but that fits through the letterbox, so it’s not something where the postman is gonna have to ring the doorbell.

Being in December, I’m now almost halfway through the Advent Box from Under the Rowan Trees. Today’s item was a heart-shaped paperclip, but there have been a few pens, and I think tomorrow’s is a pen.

I have also got two books finished so far this month, A Ukrainian Christmas, by Yaroslav Hrytsak and Nadiyka Gerbish, and Librorum Ridiculorum, by Brian Lake. I have now started Gin, by Shonna Milliken Humphrey, which is an Object Lessons book. I first discovered the Object Lessons series in 2019 – they are small and short and there are lots of books in the series. I figured that, as we were close to Christmas, I might as well read about gin, lol! As well as drinking the stuff, obviously, ha ha!

England may now be out of the World Cup, losing their quarter-final 2-1 to France yesterday, but my niece came 3rd in her Drama Cup! She was in a couple of categories, but it was the musical theatre one where she came third, singing “Heart of Stone” from the musical “Six” about the wives of Henry VIII. Well done, Charlotte!

That pretty much brings things up to date now, and I will look at a time in the coming week or next weekend when I can do Part 2 of the review of the year, looking back at the middle of the year, from May to August and a time when I was going on my jollies abroad again! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Up in the Air – Terry Deary
  • The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs – Jon Scieszka
  • Mean Time – Carol Ann Duffy
  • Map Addict – Mike Parker
  • Islands of Abandonment – Cal Flyn
  • Wintering – Katherine May
  • The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales – Jon Scieszka
  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr
  • True – Martin Kemp
  • Face It – Debbie Harry
  • Life’s What You Make It – Phillip Schofield
  • Britain By the Book – Oliver Tearle
  • My Mess is a Bit of a Life – Georgia Pritchett
  • RuPaul – Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
  • I Named My Dog Pushkin – Margarita Gokun Silver
  • Anti-Social – Nick Pettigrew
  • Don’t Ask the Dragon – Lemn Sissay
  • You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger – Patricia Cleveland-Peck
  • Unmasking Autism – Dr Devon Price
  • I Hate Myself and Want to Die – Tom Reynolds
  • A Ukrainian Christmas – Yaroslav Hrytsak & Nadiyka Gerbish
  • Librorum Ridiculorum – Brian Lake
  • Gin – Shonna Milliken Humphrey

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The St Nicholas’s Day Mini Blog…

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

Just a short one – basically to let you know Chief Bookworm is still here and hasn’t forgotten about you! Just been mad busy and it will probably be this weekend before I can get round to a proper blog with some book news, the start of the review of the year and the usual waffle!

I have already finished a book this month, something seasonal, and I will be letting you know about that as well as looking back at what I read from January through to April and the sort of random nonsense that appeared on here in the early months of 2022, lol!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy that photo of a telephone booth with a giant Santa hat on it! Anyone would think it was getting near Christmas…

Happy St Nicholas’s Day to those who celebrate it – quite a lot of European countries do celebrate on 6th December. I know the Netherlands do, as do Switzerland – I experienced it first-hand way back in 1978 when I was living over there due to my dad’s job. Even had a party for it at my Kindergarten in Basel! I remember getting a little bag with some fruit and nuts and some little toys in it.

So, that’s about it for now, but I hope to do a proper blog soon!

Take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

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