Monthly Archives: March 2016

Just Seventeen

17 Duplicate Books

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Hope you’ve had a great Easter! I am here again, and the title of tonight’s blog, as well as being a magazine back in the 80s, is a reference to the Duplicate Books List. Regardless of anything I am actually reading right now, let’s go through this list of books, books of which I somehow own two copies…

With some books, I have no idea how I fetched up with two copies. With others, it’s because I saw it at a charity shop and forgot I already had that book, or perhaps I thought I’d previously had it but given it away, and with a few of them, I think I knew I had it somewhere, but wasn’t entirely sure I could put my hands on it… So, I have reached this stage where I have two copies of these seventeen very different books!

(For the record, I used to read Smash Hits when I was a teenager, but my sister read Just Seventeen back in the day.)

My thoughts are that I would really like someone, ideally someone fairly local, who was a fellow bookworm but hadn’t read many, if any, of these books, so we could read them together. I have read two of them, and half-read another, but I wouldn’t have a problem with reading those books again, especially as I really loved Attention All Shipping anyway!

Manual of the Warrior of Light does not really take much reading, to be fair. I guess you’d put it in the Mind, Body & Spirit category in a book store. It’s basically advice for life. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, is a book I partially-read at university, so we are going right back to the early 90s here with this one. As I said, it’s one I’d probably skimmed through for the purposes of one of the literature modules of my degree, so I’ve not really read it properly and not read any of it since 1994 at the very latest, as that’s when I graduated, which will be 22 years ago this summer! A bloody long time ago, lol!

Anyway, what I plan to do, is go through all 17, giving some sort of brief description as best I can. This list is as I typed it out, it is in no particular order, although I do think, if I DO get this reading challenge done, the first book on this list should be the first one in the challenge. I think it would be an apt choice for starting something like this…

The Year of Reading Dangerously, by Andy Miller. Essentially, Andy finds himself with loads of books but, he thinks, no time for reading, so he makes time to read them and gets enjoying books again, from what I can gather.

The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov. Banned in the former USSR for 26 years, which probably added to its popularity, as bans tend to do in most instances – look what happened to “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood when Mike Read kicked up a stink about it and the Beeb stopped playing it. Holly Johnson and his band mates must’ve thought all their birthdays and Christmasses had come at once! Not only was it a number 1 early in 1984, but it shot back up the charts that summer to get to number 2 when “Two Tribes” was number 1! Not a clue what the Bulgakov book is about, but the blurb on the back describes it as Faustian, so I can only hazard a guess that a pact with the Devil might be involved, as that’s what usually happens…

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne. One of those which is in general fiction and also in YA. It wouldn’t really surprise me if it was on reading lists for GCSE English at high school these days. Bruno’s family are relocated as his dad is a concentration camp officer, not that Bruno understands any of this, and he befriends a boy on the other side of the wire.

Attention All Shipping, by Charlie Connelly. A journey around the Shipping Forecast, and exceptionally funny! I discovered this book and brought home one copy of it from Mexico when I was on holiday in 2013! Charlie travels around the UK and to neighbouring parts of Europe, to visit all the areas mentioned in the Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio 4.

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan. A tale of four mothers and their first generation Chinese-American daughters. I read this, well, let’s be fair, partially-read this, back at uni, so I have basically forgotten it, thus it won’t matter if I re-read it! A question of cultural identity issues, I guess, as is the next book, but the next one is on my side of the Atlantic…

Anita and Me, by Meera Syal. The story of Meena, who is from the only Punjabi family in a mining town in the West Midlands, and her attempts to fit in with those around her and to be like them. This book actually IS on the set list for GCSE English Literature these days, you can buy revision study guides for Anita and Me!

Manual of the Warrior of Light, by Paulo Coelho. The author invites us, in this book, to embrace the warrior of light in all of us. As I said before, probably in the Mind, Body and Spirit category in book shops. Not really an awful lot of writing on any page, so it’s pretty quick to get through. It is probably, really, one of those things you tend to dip into and find relevant bits which most apply to you, but in a 17 book challenge, we have to just view it as a whole book…

The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. Starts with a runaway girl in the 80s and moves through the decades in a chunky adventure of just over 600 pages. Let’s not let that put us off. It may be long, but it could well turn out to be easy to read. Other supposedly shorter books might prove more challenging!

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson. Essentially, the travel writer’s autobiography, about his own childhood in the US in the 1950s. Should be a good laugh, knowing Bryson, and having read some of his other books.

The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt. A Western, set in the days of the prospectors, following the notorious brothers, Eli and Charlie Sisters… Has one of the best covers I’ve seen in recent times! I have partially-read this one, as it was a book club choice a few years back, but it was about 5 years ago now, anyway, and I only read part of it, so it would not be an issue re-reading what I’d started and then continuing with it for the purposes of a book challenge.

The No. 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith. First in what has turned out to be quite a series, starring Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s only, and finest, female private detective, the Miss Marple of Botswana, so to speak…

The Rotters’ Club, by Jonathan Coe. Coming of age in 1970s Britain. Claims to be funny, so worth a go in my estimation, to see if it is. I came of age in the late 80s and early 90s, I turned 18 in April 1991, 25 years ago very shortly when I get to my birthday, but I can remember as far back as the long hot summer of 1976, 40 years ago, so the 70s are familiar to me, and I love the music from those days! It’d be an excuse to listen to some epic 70s tuneage while I read it!

Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D. H. Lawrence. Caused a massive fuss when first published, with Penguin having to go to court to be allowed to publish it! Essentially, Lady Chatterley’s husband is rendered disabled by war, and thus unable to enjoy a fulfilling love life, so Lady Chatterley goes and gets her satisfaction with the gamekeeper!

A Passage to India, by E. M. Forster. Not to be confused with the Passage To India, which used to be our local Indian restaurant at the bottom of our road, until it closed last year and then became La Turka. Dad and I had many a ruby murray at the Passage! Anyway, the novel… An English visitor shows an interest in Indian ways of life, despite the disapproval of other Brits there. The mystery in the plot comes from a visit this lady makes to some caves. She is accompanied by an Indian doctor, but returns alone and distressed…

The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks. A guy returns to North Carolina after WWII, haunted by images of the girl he lost more than a decade earlier. Meanwhile, a lady is about to marry a wealthy lawyer, but still thinks about the boy who stole her heart years ago…

The Periodic Table, by Primo Levi. Inspired by chemistry, this is an autobiographical account where Levi assesses his life in terms of chemical elements which he associates with his past.

And, last, but by no means least…

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. Historical fiction from Dickens, set during the French Revolution, so expect lots of people having their heads chopped off, I guess…

Normally, at the end of my blogs, I list all the books I’ve mentioned, but I don’t think there’s any need on this occasion, as I’ve just been through them one by one, and I don’t really wish to list all 17 over again! I’ve not mentioned any other books which are NOT on the Duplicate Books List, so that’s about it for now. Until next time, when normal service will probably be resumed, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x


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Filed under Books, Duplicate Books List

It’s The Fort That Counts…

Book Fort

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

What do you do if you’re running a charity book shop and too many people donate copies of the same book? If you’re the Oxfam Bookstore in Swansea, South Wales, you build a fort out of them! The above photo is the fort which the staff built at their store after being inundated with copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James! That is quite incredible, I’m sure you’ll agree! I am most impressed! So, if you live in Swansea and have books to donate to charity shops, please do so, but no more Fifty Shades, ta very much! They have plenty already!

Anyway, the other pressing issue of the day is that THREE more books have been added to the Duplicate Books list! Yep, over the past couple of days, it has come to light that there are more books of which I own two copies! We had already reached double figures, but as I was looking for other books, I discovered three more duplicates. Sadly, I didn’t even find A Tall Man in a Low Land, by Harry Pearson, which I mentioned yesterday with regards to books about Belgium. I think I must have given it away when I moved house in 2006. I could always look for another copy or get it on my Kindle, I suppose.

The books I DID find, amongst others in my room, were duplicate copies of The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, The Periodic Table, by Primo Levi, and The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne.

Duplicate Books 23rd March 2016.jpg

So, these are all 13 of the Duplicate Books! Quite an assortment, really, isn’t it?! I have said, though, that I’m a random reader! Anyone fancy a read-a-long with me? Me and one other person could have a set each of the thirteen books and read them at the same time, discussing each one. I have read a couple of them already, Attention All Shipping, and Manual of the Warrior of Light, and I half-read The Joy Luck Club at university, but I would be willing to re-read them for a reading challenge if anyone else was up for it!

As well as the one person reading all 13 of these, anyone else who had any of those books could read along with us at the same time, as I would be blogging about it and give warning of what was being read next… So, say you had Anita And Me, and wanted to read it when we were reading it, that would be fine! The full Duplicate Books List now looks like this…

  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • Manual of the Warrior of Light – Paulo Coelho
  • Anita and Me – Meera Syal
  • The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  • The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
  • The Year of Reading Dangerously – Andy Miller
  • The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – Bill Bryson
  • The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D. H. Lawrence
  • The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
  • The Periodic Table – Primo Levi

An eclectic selection if ever there was one, so I’m pretty sure that would make a good mix and a varied reading list should anyone wish to take me up on the offer of reading them along with me!

As I said earlier, I didn’t manage to find that book about Belgium, and I have the feeling I gave it away when I moved house. Just before I moved, we were having a charity book sale where I worked at the time, so I donated loads of books to that, therefore I expect the Harry Pearson book was one of them.However, I have found my copy of Neither Here Nor There, by Bill Bryson, which is his account of his travels throughout Europe, so that will probably include at least a bit of Belgium, and should be a good laugh, as Bryson’s travel books are!

Also, I have bookmarks I am working on, at least one, anyway, so I would like to get it finished. Therefore, that’s about all for the time being! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry, other than the Duplicate Books:

  • Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L. James
  • A Tall Man in a Low Land – Harry Pearson
  • Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe – Bill Bryson

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Duplicate Books List, Travel

A Book For Belgium

Lady and unicorn.jpg

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms.

Our thoughts are with everyone in Belgium following this morning’s acts of terrorism in Brussels. Belgium’s a great place – been a few times, one of my penpals, now a friend on Facebook, is from Belgium, two of my club’s players are Belgian (Messrs Fellaini and Januzaj), and it is a nation which has given us two of my favourite things – chocolate and chips (fries) – yum!

Plus, one of its most famous landmarks is a urinating fountain! Mannekin Pis can be found in the centre of Brussels, and it is a little boy with his willy out, having a wee!

So, that got me thinking… Are there any books set in Belgium? There must be, surely?! There are hundreds of thousands of books out there with countless worldwide and Europe-wide settings, so some of them must be set, at least in part, in Belgium. Obviously, there’s the fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, created by Agatha Christie, who appears in 33 novels, but his character was employed here in the UK in those novels as he’d fled the Occupation of Belgium during the war, so although he is one of the most famous Belgians in literature, his stories were not set in Belgium!

Possibly the most famous Belgian author was Georges Simenon. However, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that his novels were set in his own country, although I imagine some of them would have been, as he wrote a lot during his lifetime.

So, I did a Google search for books set in Belgium. One of the ones it came up with was The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, which I enjoyed a year or two ago. It is set in both France and Belgium, but there is at least partial Belgian setting, so it would count. The Goodreads list of books set in Belgium is as follows…

From that list, a work of non-fiction stands out, and possibly because I know I either have this book, or have had it… A Tall Man in a Low Land: Some Time Amongst the Belgians, by Harry Pearson. If I still have it, and can lay my hands on it, I might read that one, as I’m always up for a bit of non-fiction, particularly if it is amusing! Factual stuff can be VERY funny, and I like books which make me laugh!

* after extensive search in part of my wardrobe unit… *

Nope, it’s not there. Either it’s not where I thought it would be, or I no longer have it. Perhaps it was one I had at Hawthorn Avenue, and this October will be 10 years since my Mum and I moved house to our present address, and I needed a clear-out of pretty much half of my personal library! A very sad occasion, that was! I had to part company with so many books! So, the Harry Pearson book is no longer in my possession, unless it turns up at a later date when I’m busy looking for something else (and we can’t rule out that possibility – it’s pretty normal for that to happen when I look for stuff).

I did find A Year in the Scheisse, by Roger Boyes, and The Flea Palace, by Elif Shafak, so if you want non-fiction about Germany, or fiction set in Turkey, you’re sorted! But neither of those are set in Belgium, nor is Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks. That’s set in France.

Maybe we should turn this into A Book for Europe? The Eurovision Book Contest?!

It’d be nothing like the Eurovision Song Contest, though. Well, it wouldn’t really be a contest, for a start, there’d be books, not songs, and as there wouldn’t be a contest, there’d be none of the bent voting for which Eurovision is notorious, lol! No, Greece and Cyprus, you can’t give each other douze points, so deal with it!

So, not really a contest. More a case of A Literary Tour of Europe, I guess. As any European tour of books, should I venture out on one, would include the UK and Ireland, I could get round to reading Round Ireland With a Fridge, by Tony Hawks. Actually, I might read that anyway. Sounds a good laugh, and would be slim enough for a potential Handbag Book.

Tony Hawks, besides being an author, was responsible (in the loosest possible sense of that word) for a UK top 5 single back in 1988. Under the guise of Morris Minor and the Majors, he wrote and performed the comedy rap parody, “Stutter Rap (No Sleep ‘Til Bedtime)” which was a send-up of rap in general, and the Beastie Boys in particular – the subtitle was a parody of “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn”. The single got to number 4 on the UK charts. Paul Boross and Phil Judge were the other two band members, with Boross co-writing the rap with Hawks.  So, not only do you get a blog about books set around Europe, you also get a nugget of useless 1980s pop trivia, too! Aren’t you just the lucky ones?!

Stutter Rap was their only UK top 40 hit, rendering Hawks a one-hit-wonder. He has been much more successful as a writer, though, plus I think he probably revels in the one-hit-wonder tag! He has written six books, Round Ireland With a Fridge being the first of them, and it was the result of a drunken bet, as was his second book, Playing The Moldovans at Tennis. In that one, he has a bet with a friend that just because a sports person is good at one sport doesn’t necessarily mean he or she will be any use at other sports, so the idea is to challenge the members of Moldova’s national football team to tennis matches… I am just making a mental note that I should also, perhaps, read that book!

If going on a bookish tour of Europe, we might as well start off in Ireland, then come to the UK, then we can head anywhere on the continent… It would also include, in my case, finishing off some half-read or partially-started books. For example, Norway’s book could be The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo, and Sweden’s could be A Man Called Ove, by Fredrick Backman. Ove is like the Swedish version of Victor Meldrew from the BBC sitcom “One Foot In The Grave”! A true grumpy old man!

A Year in the Scheisse could be continued with for Germany, The Miniaturist could be the Netherlands’ representative, and The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George, could provide the French setting… Besides Belgium, there may well be other countries for which I will need helpful suggestions. The nationality of the author is not important here, it’s the location of the setting which matters… Do I revisit old stuff? A while back, around 2008, I read quite a fair bit of Czech fiction. English translations, of course, but I read some Milan Kundera, Jozef Skvorecky, Jaroslav Hasek, and a good bit of Bohumil Hrabal. Perhaps I could re-read Closely Watched Trains, particularly for the arse-stamping incident!

Anyway, I would need to give this literary travel itinerary some more thought. It’s probably why I never did that around the world one. Europe alone would require plenty of books! All I know is that, sensibly, the Republic of Ireland would have to be first, and Turkey would probably have to be last, as Istanbul marks the meeting point of Europe and Asia. Talking of last, this is about all for the time being, so, until the next entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • A Tall Man In a Low Land – Harry Pearson
  • A Year In the Scheisse – Roger Boyes
  • The Flea Palace – Elif Shafak
  • Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
  • Round Ireland With a Fridge – Tony Hawks
  • Playing the Moldovans at Tennis – Tony Hawks
  • The Snowman – Jo Nesbo
  • A Man Called Ove – Fredrick Backman
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
  • Closely Watched Trains – Bohumil Hrabal

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Filed under Books, European Literature, Historical Fiction, Humour, Music, Travel

The Right Books

Right Book

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

Well, we lost another author at the weekend, didn’t we?! 2016 has got a lot to answer for. Barry Hines, most famous for A Kestrel For A Knave, which was made into the film “Kes”, passed away yesterday. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009. He wrote several novels and television scripts, but it’s probably A Kestrel For A Knave for which he will be best remembered. I have never read that one, but I do know it has long been a set text at high school, so plenty of people will have had to study it for O Levels and GCSEs.

Before we go much further with this blog, let’s remember the authors we have lost so far this year and ask that there be no more departures during 2016!

Harper Lee

Umberto Eco

Louise Rennison

Anita Brookner

Barry Hines

Thank you for your contributions to the world of literature, and may you all rest in peace.

Now, on the more positive side, as well as my lads winning the derby yesterday (I think we’ve discovered a new star in Marcus Rashford!), I also got a couple of books finished off! Sound Bites, by Alex Kapranos, is now out of the handbag. A really good read, especially if you’re a foodie! If you love eating out, and trying interesting grub in interesting places, I would search out Sound Bites. It’s not a long read, but it’s a good one. Kapranos was himself a chef before he formed the band Franz Ferdinand, and in his book, he mentions Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain – one of my other favourite books! Another one to read if you love your food!

I also finished off Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes. A brilliant read and very funny! At times you have to think “Hang on a moment, this is Hitler…” but he has a hard time getting others to believe it’s actually him. Most of them just think he’s a brilliant impersonator!

I now need to choose more books, lol! Maybe get some more finished. I am still reading The Story of Music by Howard Goodall. I regularly read posts on Facebook from Book Riot, and they have some good blogs about how it matters not what kind of reader you are, the important thing is that you are a reader. There are books out there for everyone. I am a Random Reader, I guess, lol! I read fiction and non-fiction, and I don’t really go off genres and authors. I just read whatever I fancy. Sure, there are some authors of whose output I have read several works – Roald Dahl, J. K. Rowling, Paulo Coelho, and Sue Townsend spring to mind here. However, I mostly read anything which takes my fancy, and I couldn’t care less who wrote it!

Anyway, today is World Poetry Day, so let’s think about poems we’ve read and enjoyed. A favourite of mine, which I discovered when I was at uni, is Poet For Our Times, by Carol Ann Duffy, the current Poet Laureate. It’s from her anthology, The Other Country, and is about the headline writer for a tabloid newspaper, and the eye-catching headlines he comes up with for the news. When I was at high school, I had to study some war poetry for my GCSEs, a fair bit of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. If you’re interested in that, I can recommend The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry. I would also recommend Selected Poetry by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, even if it’s only for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. That alone is worth reading! It’s a long one, as is Goblin Market, by Christina Rossetti. Try Goblin Market and Other Poems for that one, although I’m sure it’d be in most anthologies of her poetry.

Going right back to when I was young, though, I discovered the books of Roger McGough’s poetry which my dad owned, and bagsied Watch Words for myself! I am pretty sure I was still at primary school when I claimed that one, or very early on at high school. I loved the way McGough strung words together in his poems. When Dad was caught playing away from home in 2004, and my parents split up, I claimed the rest of his poetry books as well, plus Catch 22, by Joseph Heller! He didn’t bother taking any of his books with him, so I helped myself to those I wanted.

We moved house in the July of 1983, a few months after I had turned ten.So, that September, I started my final year at primary school. There is thus still a chance that I discovered that Roger McGough book before I started high school, as I’m fairly sure we were at our new home when I found the book in the dining room book case. I still have it – in a cupboard in my room, with most of my other poetry books, although the Coleridge anthology is right here near Computer Corner!

Anyway, as you can see from the above photos, another bookmark was finished at the weekend! I completed the stitching of the actual design on Friday, and finished the bookmark completely on Saturday with the border, buttons, and beaded tassel.As I think I said previously, it was a filet crochet chart originally, which I discovered on Pinterest, but I converted it to cross stitch. At the moment, the knitting Dutch lady bookmark is in my copy of The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton, although I have yet to decide if I am going to start that one. I probably will, even if I have got plenty of half-read books around already! The dragon bookmark, another recent creation, is in Eragon, as I hinted it would be.

I was going to bring this to a close, but I just thought I’d mention that I was catching up with Pointless on my Sky+ box the other day, and they often have literature rounds in that quiz show. There was one such round the other day, and it was about World Book Night books! They didn’t mention The Book Thief, which is what I gave out in 2012, but they did mention plenty of books I knew, including Girl With A Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, which I read in the past year or two and really enjoyed. Perhaps, next time, we could have a look at what’s being given out this year, as it’s getting close. April is not too far away now!

Until then, though, that is about all for now on the book front, so take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • A Kestrel For a Knave – Barry Hines
  • Sound Bites – Alex Kapranos
  • Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  • Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes
  • The Story of Music – Howard Goodall
  • The Other Country – Carol Ann Duffy
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry – Various
  • Selected Poetry – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Goblin Market and Other Poems – Christina Rossetti
  • Watch Words – Roger McGough
  • Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • Eragon – Christopher Paolini
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Cross-Stitch, Food & Drink, Humour, Music, My Bookworm History, Poetry, Television, World Book Night

Not Dragon On Much Longer!

finished dragon

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

The dragon has been stitched! Yes, I completed the bookmark in the early hours of this morning, and it is ready to be used in Eragon, by Christopher Paolini, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog entries. I added beads to this bookmark, and attempted a little tassel. I was going to put a bead in the dragon’s eye, but the beads seemed a bit too big for that purpose and it looked a bit silly, so I just stitched that bit in the end and thought I’d have some beads for decoration around the dragon instead, hence the tassel, and the beads in the corners of the backstitching.

finished dragon and book

I stitch a lot of bookmarks as I have a lot of books! I find most of the patterns on the internet, particularly on Pinterest, and they need not be for cross stitch itself. They might be for filet crochet, beads, or some other craft, but if it’s a grid-based design which I can easily convert to cross stitch, I will do it! My next one might be the rose bookmark – very similar to the iris one I stitched recently, which is now keeping my place in Sound Bites, by Alex Kapranos, a very enjoyable Handbag Book! The dimensions of the rose bookmark, for the oval and the corners will be exactly the same as with the iris bookmark, but the pattern of squares I miss out will be different, to form a different flower, and I will be choosing a different colour scheme for that one. Probably deep red for the central oval, and pink for the corners. I might even make a beaded tassel for that one. I have some red beads, as well as green ones. I also have a few buttons lurking around here if I need ideas for decorations…

I don’t cover up the back of my stitching, before anyone asks, but I do like to think the back of my stitching is usually quite neat, so it doesn’t really matter. If it was a mess, I’d probably be more bothered about finding some way of covering it up.

Good progress is being made with Look Who’s Back, aided and abetted by the fact that I have it on unabridged audiobook. With that in mind, I was at Eccles Library this afternoon, and have borrowed a couple of audiobooks. You get them for three weeks. I aim to put them on to my computer as I have done with the Timur Vermes one, then I can listen at leisure. I’ve borrowed Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell and The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo. Perhaps I can get those novels read with having at least part of them read to me. I might venture into audiobooks of novels I don’t have, lol, but for now, getting ones I’m at least partly familiar with seems like a good start!

I did consider one which I haven’t got, and if they still have it at the British Heart Foundation shop in Salford when I’m back in that neck of the woods on Thursday, I shall consider getting Citadel by Kate Mosse. In terms of actual books, I have had better days of bargain books from charity shops, but I did find The Martian, by Andy Weir, in the British Red Cross shop in Eccles, for a mere £1.50, so that’s not to be sniffed at!

Wonder if iTunes has audiobooks? Hmmm… must investigate…

* returns to blog from checking iTunes on her iPad… *

Yep, iTunes does indeed have audiobooks! Will have to consider the varying costs, but it’s something worth considering, although borrowing from the library and putting the discs on my laptop is probably the best option, providing the library has audiobooks I might wish to borrow! If they have any which float my boat, I’ll borrow them!

I can’t let this blog entry pass without mentioning that we have lost yet another author in the past few days, Booker Prize-winning Anita Brookner passed away on 10th March. She was 87 years old, an art historian and a novelist, and she wrote 24 novels, the best-known of which was probably Hotel Du Lac. It has been a very bad year thus far in terms of the famous people we have lost (I’m still not exactly over the losses of David Bowie and Alan Rickman back in January), and it is particularly sad that this is the fourth author whose passing I am having to mention in 2016, following the deaths of Harper Lee, Umberto Eco and Louise Rennison. May they all rest in peace.

I’m off to sort out my flosses for more bookmarks! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Eragon – Christopher Paolini
  • Sound Bites – Alex Kapranos
  • Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes
  • Ghostwritten – David Mitchell
  • The Snowman – Jo Nesbo
  • Citadel – Kate Mosse
  • The Martian – Andy Weir
  • Hotel Du Lac – Anita Brookner

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Making Music

Duplicate Books row

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

I’m here again with another blog. Just when you think you’ve found all the duplicates.. I was getting ready to head for the match earlier, and found a Waterstone’s bag beside my bed, amongst my boots. I looked in the bag and thought “Here we go again!”

Inside the bag was a copy of The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell.

I’d only gone and bought that book the other night as one of four I brought home from my book club meeting on Thursday! And now, I realised I’d already got it, and yet another book was added to the list of Duplicate Books. I could have a mini book club if anyone fancies reading the same books as me! I have ten books we could now get through together! And, quite an assortment of books it is too!

Duplicate Books 13th March 2016

I shall list them now, and at the end of this blog entry, I shall just list any other books I mention in this blog, books of which I do not own two copies, lol!

  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  • Anita and Me – Meera Syal
  • Manual of the Warrior of Light – Paulo Coelho
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D. H. Lawrence
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – Bill Bryson
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  • The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
  • The Year of Reading Dangerously – Andy Miller
  • The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell

So, those are the ten books. I grant you that I have read the Coelho and Connelly books, but I would be willing to read them again if anyone fancied reading each of these along with me! Some kind of mini reading club for two people, each of us armed with those ten books, working our way through them… novels, classics, non-fiction, autobiography…

Audiobook - Look Who's Back

Those books, of course, are books of which I own two physical copies. However, there are other books where I may have that book in more than one format, for example a paperback and an ebook version, and I have just bought myself my first audiobook, that being Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes, so I can follow it in my paperback as I listen to Julian Rhind-Tutt reading it! I am also fairly sure that’s not how everyone else does it – they have audiobooks instead of actual physical books, I expect. But I thought if I was going to try one, I should get the audio version of something I am familiar with. I guess I’m just odd, lol!

I also have some books in more than one language. I think I have already mentioned, previously, that I have both the English and French versions of Eric Cantona’s autobiography, but my foreign language books also include Charlie y la Fábrica de Chocolate, by Roald Dahl, the Spanish version of the story, and when I was in Berlin in 2012, I treated myself to Die Bücherdiebin, by Markus Zusak. I am fairly sure you can guess which book that is! Clue: It’s set in Germany in the 30s and 40s, and I gave out copies of the English version for World Book Night in 2012…

Dragon bookmark progress 12 03 2016

Eragon is nearer to being started, as progress has been made on the dragon bookmark. As you can see from the photo, I have reached the back of the dragon’s head, so not all that much more to stitch. A couple of Handbag Books have enjoyed significant progress, those being Sound Bites, by Alex Kapranos, and The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. Kapranos is the lead singer and guitarist of the band Franz Ferdinand. However, he is also a foodie and has had cheffing experience, and Sound Bites is his book on the food side of things, food he’s prepared and cooked, and other foods he has tried while on tour around the world as a musician. Really interesting and entertaining read so far! I picked that one up on a whim at a shop called Fopp, which is in Manchester, and opposite the blood donor centre. If you know where the Tesco’s is on Market Street, go round the corner. The “vampires” are on that side, and across the pedestrianised area from the donor centre is Fopp. Cheap music, dvds and books.

Talking of vampires, I will probably be getting a letter from them soon. I’m pretty sure I’ll be due to give blood again in April, just before my birthday, as my last donation was just before Christmas, and we females can give blood every 4 months.

Me on accordion 1 12th March 2016

Another book with which I have enjoyed further progress is The Story of Music, by Howard Goodall. It was Learn To Play Day here in the UK yesterday, and thus all music shops had events on to encourage people to learn musical instruments. I had my band practice in the morning, anyway, so I had been playing my tenor horn, but when I got home from band, I dropped my horn off, and headed into town, to Forsyth’s on Deansgate. My niece had been there in the morning, having a recorder lesson, but I booked in for a lesson, and thus, at 5pm, Sophia was teaching me the accordion! I had a great time!

I was in the string room having my lesson, but no strings attached with my instrument! Most instruments were actually available for lessons. I saw other people being taught while I was there, some of them having a go on clarinets, oboes and cor anglais. I would’ve been happy to try most things, really, but within reason. There’d be some practicalities to consider.

I’ve already tried an oboe years ago, when I was about 12, and found it difficult due to it being a double-reed instrument, thus that would also mean I would find the cor anglais or the bassoon tricky for the same reason. Also, I would have to bear in mind that I am a 5 foot 1 shortarse, so I was not about to attempt anything which is taller than I am. Bye bye, double bass, lol! I’d have considered a free lesson on a cello, but double basses are massive and I’m only little! I’d have had to stand on a ladder! Or a stool, at the very least! Goodall’s book is about the long history of music, but this is part of my own personal story of music! I have touched on it previously in this blog, but maybe it would be worth a separate blog entry some time. There might not be that many books mentioned in that one, but it’d give you my musical background.

I did have to do some editing on Goodreads with the Goodall book, though, as the website had claimed my edition was 368 pages long. Er, not so. Firstly, the total number of pages was more around 355, so a slight inaccuracy to start with. Secondly, and more pertinently, some of those, at the back, are simply the acknowledgements and the index! The actual number of pages for reading about the history of music is more like 336, so I edited the details on Goodreads to change the number of pages to 336. Why include the index? The actual book is finished before that point. The index pages are just for reference in case you need to know which pages mention Bach, Beethoven, or whomever!

Lots of books these days seem to have other bits at the end. It’s not just a non-fiction thing. With non-fiction, you can understand it. You need an index at the end, and acknowledgements, plus probably some footnotes and something about where you got your facts from. However, even with fiction, you might find some sort of Q & A with the author at the end, or a preview of a forthcoming book – the first chapter of their next novel, for instance. I would say, though, that the book you had been reading was finished by that point. The main novel has ended. You do NOT need to read the additional extras, therefore that needs to be reflected on Goodreads, and other such sites, that the book is finished when what you bought the book for has come to an end!

Before I get to the end of this blog entry, I should make mention of my book club, as I was there on Thursday, and we discussed our book and chose our new one, which is High-Rise by J.G. Ballard, the author perhaps best known for Empire of the Sun. As I mentioned earlier, at the start of this blog, I bought a few other books as well, bringing home The Bone Clocks, which I have since discovered is now a duplicate book, and also The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, by Vaseem Khan, and The Edge of the World, by Michael Pye – a book about how the North Sea made us who we are.

I’ve always liked a good bit of non-fiction as much as a good story! I like my facts, especially on subject matters which interest me, and I think my niece is like that with her books, too! Ellie was telling me that Charlotte had taken to a book about butterflies, which she was continually borrowing. She might need her own copy of that, so it can go back to the school or the library! But she does like a good story, too, and one she is really after, yet another Julia Donaldson for her collection, is What The Ladybird Heard Next. She has loads of books – definitely taking after her auntie! Not biased at all, lol! She already has What The Ladybird Heard, and there’s a follow-up, and it is now out in paperback.

That really is about all for now! Maybe the dragon bookmark might be finished next time? Who knows? Maybe someone will take me up on my duplicate books offer! Stranger things have happened! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry other than the duplicate books:

  • Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes
  • Charlie y la Fábrica de Chocolate – Roald Dahl
  • Die Bücherdiebin – Markus Zusak
  • Eragon – Christopher Paolini
  • Sound Bites: Eating On Tour With Franz Ferdinand – Alex Kapranos
  • The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide
  • The Story of Music – Howard Goodall
  • High-Rise – J. G. Ballard
  • Empire of the Sun – J. G. Ballard
  • The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra – Vaseem Khan
  • The Edge of the World: How the North Sea Made Us Who We Are – Michael Pye
  • What The Ladybird Heard – Julia Donaldson
  • What The Ladybird Heard Next – Julia Donaldson


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Filed under Books, Childrens' Books, Cross-Stitch, Duplicate Books List, European Literature, Goodreads, Junior Bookworms, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction

Here Be Dragons!

Eragon cover

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

The night before book club, I’ve got up to page 50 of The Loney, yet another book choice along the lines of mystery and thriller. Previously, the book before that had been Disclaimer, by Renee Knight. I know this genre IS popular, but I did think the whole idea of our book club was to read widely across genres, to read fiction and non-fiction alike, and to read things we probably wouldn’t have considered reading otherwise. I definitely think we need a different kind of book for our next read when we meet up to discuss this one tomorrow! I wouldn’t mind a mystery so much if it were perhaps something a bit lighter. I feel our reads have been pretty dark of late. A book which has taken my eye of late is The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, by Vaseem Khan. It’s one of the Waterstone’s Book Club books of the month for March, and has been likened to the Alexander McCall Smith books set in Africa, the series which started with The No. 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency.

I have made a list of books which I might suggest, including a couple which I would be very keen to have as our book club choice, not only because I fancy reading them, but also because I already have a copy of each of these books and it would thus mean I read a book I already have instead of adding yet another to the incredible book mountain! Therefore, The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George, and The Versions of Us, by Laura Barnett, are on my list of suggestions.

I’m looking through my spare specs at the moment. I had to take my actual specs to the optician’s on Monday. It was the afternoon, I was just about to settle down with a cuppa and do some cross stitch, continuing my work on another bookmark, when one of the arms came off my specs! Therefore, after I’d finished my brew, it was off to the Trafford Centre to visit the optician’s, who said it couldn’t be mended, I’d need new glasses. Mind you, I have had those since 2012, and last had an eye test in 2014, so I was due for one and booked in to return the next night as I was definitely planning on going to TC to eat on the Tuesday, so I figured I might as well get my eyes looked at while I was there.

Anyway, back to Monday, and I was a tad pissed-off to say the least. I had knackered specs which couldn’t be fixed. Not a happy bunny! Therefore, I just had to go in Waterstone’s and cheer myself up! Any excuse, eh?! Well, I was looking for, and found, some more books for my niece, some of which will be for Easter, others for her birthday, but I did treat myself to one, and thought I’d risk it for a biscuit with Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. Seemingly, he wrote it when he was a teenager, and it’s about this lad who finds what he thinks is a blue stone, but it turns out to be a dragon egg… The book is the first of four, and is thus part of a series called The Inheritance Cycle. The other three, in order, are Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance. Seemingly, it was originally going to be a trilogy, but Paolini announced that there would be a fourth book as the story was too complex to conclude over just three books.

dragon bookmark progress 09 03 2016

Anyway, as you have seen from some of my photos on this blog, one of my other hobbies, besides reading books, is cross-stitch, which is something I’ve done on and off for 19 years since I first gave it a try early in 1997. I don’t make just bookmarks, I do stitch other items, but it makes sense to make a lot of bookmarks as I have a lot of books! I’m particularly fond of a style of cross-stitch known as Assisi, as in the town in Italy with which St Francis is associated. In needlework, this style means that you stitch the background… Leaving certain squares unstitched, that is what forms the image or pattern. It’s a bit like the negative of a photo, if you get my drift. In the above photo, I’m stitching with a darker green floss on pale green aida, and, by missing out certain stitches in each row, a dragon starts to form!

I have decided that, when the dragon bookmark is completed, I shall be using it to keep my page in Eragon. If I enjoy that novel, I shall continue with the series. Below, you can see the partially-stitched dragon again, along with a few other bookmarks I’ve made. That iris one on the end is the most recent, I finished that the other night. Again, it’s Assisi work, with two shades of purple, but missing out certain stitches to form an oval frame and an iris. It is also the reason why I needed to visit Abakhan Fabrics when I was in town earlier – needed some more flosses, especially for the darker shade of purple in that bookmark, as I’d used up almost all my existing floss of that shade to complete that pattern!

Iris bookmark and others

partial bookmarks

In this last photo, you can see three partial bookmarks in progress, including the dragon, and two versions of the same design – a Dutch lady knitting. All three designs are being stitched Assisi style. I like the effect it has when I stitch in this style, and I love to see the design appearing as I stitch more and more rows of Xs.Maybe one of the knitter bookmarks could be used when I get around to reading The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton? Neither that, nor Eragon, will be handbag books – Eragon, in particular, is far too chunky!

I’ve had that one for quite a while, and actually got my copy for free. It was amongst a bunch of freebies brought to our book club meeting some time ago. We had a spell where there were a few freebies knocking around, so there are a few which I acquired for nowt! The Chimes, by Anna Smaill, was another of the freebies. That one was actually an unedited proof copy, which was why it was free – it was ahead of the official publishing date for that novel. Other freebies from around that time also include Stiltsville, by Susanna Daniel, and The Night Guest, by Fiona McFarlane.

Anyway, before I head off to get on with my bookmarks, I shall bring this blog to an end for the night and let you all read it! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • The Loney – Andrew Michael Hurley
  • Disclaimer – Renee Knight
  • The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra – Vaseem Khan
  • The No. 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
  • The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett
  • Eragon – Christopher Paolini
  • Eldest – Christopher Paolini
  • Brisingr – Christopher Paolini
  • Inheritance – Christopher Paolini
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • The Chimes – Anna Smaill
  • Stiltsville – Susanna Daniel
  • The Night Guest – Fiona McFarlane

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Filed under Books, Cross-Stitch, Free Books, YA Books