Monthly Archives: April 2016

P-Pick Up A Penguin!

Penguin orange book spines

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Apparently, according to Farcebook at least, today is World Penguin Day! Therefore, I thought there was only one way to celebrate this as a bookworm… with some Penguin books! Of course, Penguin Books were celebrating all last year, as it was their 80th birthday since the publishing house was started in 1935!

I may well be picking up a Penguin or two soon enough, although that depends which books take my fancy. I reached the ripe old age of 43 on Saturday and one of my pressies was a £20 Waterstone’s gift card. Add to that the fact that I met up with a couple of my aunties the previous weekend, and got a National Book Tokens gift card from Auntie Andrea! Yay! That one’s for £15, so I have £35 worth of book-related gift cards! I also received The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson, which I am looking forward to reading! So, all in all, a pretty good birthday on the book front.

I finished American Housewife last week, which was pretty good, very funny in parts, and the first book club choice I’ve finished in absolutely ages! Progress has been made with How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup, which is rather appropriate given that my lads added to my birthday celebrations by booking their place in this year’s FA Cup Final with a 2-1 victory over Everton at Wembley. We did it in the traditional United manner, too… last-minute winner, three minutes into stoppage time! As with 1990, we will play Crystal Palace in this year’s FA Cup Final on 21st May.

Actually, in terms of birthday and books, the bookfest started the previous day, on 22nd April, when I was in town. After my appointment, it was time to wander to Chapter One, a cafe and book shop on Lever Street in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. Ahead of World Book Night, the following night, they had a few free books on the table, one per customer, although Liam, the owner, let me take an extra book when I mentioned my birthday! Of the free books, I selected Last Bus to Coffeeville, by J. Paul Henderson, and Treachery, by S. J. Parris.

I also bought a couple of books while I was there and got a bit of discount off those, as they were the last remaining “reading copies” of each book. Chapter One has lots of brand new copies, wrapped in shrinkwrap, but there are reading copies available for anyone to sit and read while they’re having a drink and perhaps something to eat. If they are down to that last reading copy, and you wish to buy it, you get 20% off because it’s been opened and read. I bought Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne, and Viper Wine, by Hermione Eyre.

A lot of books have come and gone in recent times, although the mass exodus to the charity shops of Greater Manchester has calmed down for now. Thing is, although I have offloaded plenty of books, a fair few new ones have made their way in return! When I say new, some of them might be brand new, some might be second-hand, but if they are new to me, that is what counts. Having said that, I recently bought one at a charity shop which I had previously tried and not got in to. It was a former book club choice, and a Booker Prize winner, actually… The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. Thing is, I now don’t know if I couldn’t get into it because of the writing style, or whether it was simply a case of not getting into anything much at that time because I had reader’s block. I didn’t really feel like reading much back then. This was around 3 years ago, and my mind was not really on books, other than Attention All Shipping, which I read and loved on holiday in Mexico that October, so perhaps I should give some book club books another go to see if I like them second time round.

This is why I have not parted with some former book club books. Indeed, The Sisters Brothers is on my notorious Duplicate Books List! Other books I still have, which were Waterstone’s Deansgate book club choices, (although I only have ONE copy of these, or at least I think I do, lol), include The Axeman’s Jazz, by Ray Celestin, and High-Rise by J. G. Ballard, which was the recent book before American Housewife.

The next book club meeting is on 12th May, so a couple of weeks away yet. Having already read the book, it gives me a chance to get others finished and start new ones. In my recent book reshuffles, a couple of chunky Ken Follett books have made their way into my room from the book chest in the garage. Steven, who has been helping me at Remploy, recommended The Pillars of the Earth. He said even though it’s a chunky book, it is very readable. I have made a start on When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, and on Treachery, by S. J. Parris, which, as I mentioned earlier, was one of the free World Book Day titles I picked up on Friday.

So, with that, I think I shall go and pick up a book, whether that is a Penguin or not, and listen to a bit of Prince. I seriously can’t believe this year! The Grim Reaper really needs to take a chill pill and stop bumping people off! If they’re in their late 80s or have reached their 90s, you can say they’ve had a good innings, but far too many talented people are being taken from us far too young this year, including Victoria Wood at only 62, and Prince at the ridiculously young age of 57! What the hell is Death playing at?! It’s NOT big, and it’s NOT clever! Give over with taking people from us! We are not amused!

Anyway, until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • The Road to Little Dribbling – Bill Bryson
  • American Housewife – Helen Ellis
  • How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup – J. L. Carr
  • Last Bus to Coffeeville – J. Paul Henderson
  • Treachery – S. J. Parris
  • Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne
  • Viper Wine – Hermione Eyre
  • The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
  • The Axeman’s Jazz – Ray Celestin
  • High-Rise – J. G. Ballard
  • The Pillars of the Earth  – Ken Follett
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Football, Free Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, Music, World Book Night

Mad About The Book(s)…

Book spree at Waterstone's 7th April 2016

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to another book blog from your seriously random Chief Bookworm! Never mind the boy in the original song title, I’m mad about the book. Or rather, books. And I went a bit mad, as you can see, when I was at Waterstone’s on Thursday evening for my book club meeting, at which we were discussing High Rise, by J. G. Ballard. Not that I got very far with that one, other books distracted me, luring me away, lol, but I can safely say I have already read far more of our new choice, American Housewife, by Helen Ellis. It is funny. VERY funny! The Wainscoting War part is particularly amusing, as is the Dumpster Diving with the Stars part. I might even manage to read a book club book all the way through for the first time in bloody ages, so I would like to thank Emma, who runs our book club, for suggesting that one, and my fellow book club members for opting to go for it.

As you can see, I came home with a few others to go with American Housewife! Stuart Maconie’s latest, The Pie at Night, a companion book to Pies and Prejudice as he describes it, has just come out in paperback, so I bought it. I saw it a few weeks ago in hardback and it took my fancy! In Pies and Prejudice, which I read some years ago now, Maconie travels around the north of England in a general exploration of life up north, and he does so again in The Pie at Night, to discover what we Northerners do for fun, how we get our entertainment.

A couple of YA books made the list in the book spree, those being Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli, and The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williamson. Both have caught my eye on several occasions lately, so I decided those were joining my notorious TBR pile. That basically leaves us with four mentioned, three to go from the books in the photo…

How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup, by J. L. Carr, is a novella, and thus a Handbag Book, and, as such, has gone in my handbag, at least for now. It was written back in the early to mid 1970s, skips a few rounds, and not only is it highly improbable in terms of the rank outsiders of Steeple Sinderby Wanderers winning the cup, but there are Scottish teams in the tournament in this story, so it’s pretty far-fetched, they have an FA Cup of their own, the Scottish FA Cup, but seemed like a good short fun read, so I bought it. Howards End is on the Landing has come out of my handbag. Although it had a bookmark in it when I found it in the Book Chest the other week, it seems I’ve already read it according to Goodreads. I’m not averse to re-reading stuff I enjoyed, but it needs to make way in the handbag for fresh books I know I haven’t read before! Therefore, Howards End is on the Landing is now, appropriately enough, on our landing!

However, A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, will NOT be going in my handbag! It is only “little” in the same way that A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James, is “brief” – in other words, they are definitions of little and brief which I have never previously considered, lol! How can you have little or brief in a book title when the book concerned is a whopping huge doorstopper?! Seriously! It’s mega chunky! 720 pages is NOT little by any stretch of the imagination! I don’t own a copy of the Marlon James book which won the Booker Prize last year, but I know that one is also a chunky one! I think it’s a good 600+ pages if I’m not mistaken!

One more book to mention from the photo, and that’s When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, a former surgeon who wrote this book when he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.He was only 36 and on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon. He passed away writing this book, his wife writes the epilogue at the end.

I am a VERY random reader, as regular readers of this blog will know, and if anyone has recently started reading my book blogs, welcome! Thanks for joining! I did mention my blog the other day in the Bookshop Cafe group on Facebook, so I could well have gained some new followers to Joanne’s Bookshelf. If so, I am delighted you chose to have a shufty at my blog, and I hope you enjoy it! Not only am I random in the books I mention, I am pretty random as to when I blog. It is not consistent. Sometimes I hardly blog for ages, other times, I blog every day!

Also, I mention a lot of books. It doesn’t mean I’ve read them all! Quite a few of them, I will have read, of course. Others are half-read or at least partially-read books, and others are either on my TBR list, or just books I’ve heard about. Sometimes it might be because I’ve read another book by that author. If some of the books are fairly recent children’s books, they may well be books my niece has read! Charlotte is 5 going on 6 and a right bookworm, so quite a few kids’ books crop up on here, particularly if Chief Bookworm has been on a book shopping spree for Junior Bookworm! Especially anything by Julia Donaldson, although I expect Charlotte has probably got everything she’s ever written by now, lol!

Anyway, back to some books on the go… I have actually finished Equal Rites, by Sir Terry Pratchett, and am nearing the end of The Story of Music, by Howard Goodall. I need to get on with Ghostwritten, the David Mitchell book, which I am halfway through at the moment, but perhaps getting American Housewife and the Steeple Sinderby one read would be a better priority. After all, I’ve put the CDs for the audiobook of Ghostwritten on my laptop already, and I know where I’m at when I want to resume. I have other audiobooks from the library I need to put on the laptop before I return them, and so the Mitchell takes a back seat for now, for several reasons.

Recent charity shop bargains have included a couple of Discworld books I’d not previously got, those being A Hat Full of Sky, and Making Money, the latter of which I acquired in hardback edition for a mere 99p. Bargain! I think the former was also 99p. That one is a paperback edition. I also got an interesting bit of travel writing, Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw, by Will Ferguson, who turns out to have come from Red Deer, Alberta, the same city as my very good friend Liz on Facebook! The book is about travels around Canada. I’ve been to Canada, back in 2009, although just near the east coast, in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. I’ve been to Toronto, Niagara Falls, Montreal and Quebec City, with a few hours in Ottawa, the national capital, on the way from Toronto to Montreal. It was the “Maple Leaf Trail” tour. I’d love to go to Canada again. Really enjoyed it, and I want to go to Tim Horton’s and have coffee and donuts, or at least a box of Timbits! I know we already do have some equivalent places over here in the UK, we do have Krispy Kreme, which I love, but I think we really ought to have Timmies in the UK!

There are several bookmarks on the go as well, including the blue version of the knitting Dutch lady – you’ll recall I stitched this design on white aida with orange floss, and at the same time I’d started that one, I started one in blue floss on light blue aida. I’m getting on with that one now, as well as a couple of other bookmarks. Actually, there are four bookmarks in progress, including the doggy one I mentioned in a previous blog. I have that many books, it makes sense for me to cross stitch a lot of bookmarks!

And, with that, perhaps it’s time I actually got on with some of that cross-stitch, or some more reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog, especially if it’s the first time you’ve read any of my waffle, lol! Feel free to browse through the archives, this drivel goes right back to 2010, or some of it does, anyway! Six years of vaguely book-related nonsense with a whole load of other random stuff thrown in because it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Take care, and, until next time, Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • High Rise – J. G. Ballard
  • American Housewife – Helen Ellis
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Pies and Prejudice – Stuart Maconie
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
  • The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson
  • How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup – J. L. Carr
  • Howards End is on the Landing – Susan Hill
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings – Marlon James
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  • Equal Rites – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • The Story of Music – Howard Goodall
  • Ghostwritten – David Mitchell
  • A Hat Full of Sky – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Making Money – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw – Will Ferguson

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Childrens' Books, Cross-Stitch, E-Books & Audiobooks, Football, Junior Bookworms, Manc Stuff!, Non-Fiction, Travel, YA Books

New Books For Old!

Oxfam shop buys 1st April 2016

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to another blog, and I know it’s been a few days since the last, but Chief Bookworm has been dealing with the results of the recent sort-out she’s been having… Obviously, you will recall the sort-out as it resulted in me adding more books to the Duplicate Books List and ending up with 17 of them on there, but what you might not know is that I was having a clear-out as well, sussing out a few of my books which I have either read and finished with or am not likely to get round to reading, and I am in the process of giving those out to various charity shops in the local area. I’ve still got a few more to take, although I have already shifted a hell of a lot of books! This does make way for new books, of course. Well, they might be old, they might be second hand, but they are new to me and to my own personal library of reading matter!

We shall go back to last Friday, 1st April, although this is no April Fool’s joke, this stuff is true. I had an appointment in town, so while I was in Manchester, I visited the Oxfam shop on Oldham Street. It is not specifically an Oxfam Bookshop, unlike the one in Chorlton near where I used to work, but the shop does have a large selection of books, and the above photo shows what I acquired there, including Eric and Hogfather, two Discworld books by Sir Terry Pratchett, which I didn’t already have, a lovely copy of The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier, which I had been after since my blog entry A Book For Belgium the other week, and I also found the non-fiction one, Musical Instruments Through the Ages, by Anthony Baines, for good measure.

Saturday, I was finally able to get to that Rotary Club bookshop in Eccles, on one of the rare occasions that it is open – only about twice a month, sadly – so I got three books for a quid there, as well as taking a load of books to them. I actually saw a copy of The Lady and the Unicorn there, and, yes, it would’ve been cheaper than the Oxfam shop, but I think I got a nicer edition the day before, so I’m not too sad. Plus, I wasn’t terribly sure if that Rotary Club shop was even going to be open or not, so the fact that it was is something of a bonus.

Eccles charity shop buys 2nd April 2016

These are the ones I got from Eccles, although The Hundred-Foot Journey, by Richard C. Morais, was from the British Heart Foundation shop, not the Rotary Club bookshop. That’s where the other three were from. Three for a quid there, so I picked up Maple Leaf Rag, by Stephen Brook, Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson, and Half Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan.

Monton charity shop buys 5th April 2016

A further shufty, at charity shops close to home, brought these four the other day. I’d been in Eccles, then been to my dentist, and I was on Monton Road, so that was my excuse. Two from the Age UK shop, and two from the St Ann’s Hospice shop… From Age UK, I picked up Tulip Fever, by Deborah Moggach, and A Season in Red, by Kirsty Needham, a non-fiction account about her life in China. From the St Ann’s Hospice shop, I picked  up White Truffles in Winter, by N. M. Kelby, and Orfeo, by Richard Powers.

On the audiobook front, I took back Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell, as that one is on my laptop and I am part-way through listening to it and following it in the paperback, but I did renew The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo, as I need to get that put on my laptop, as I do with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, but that book is due back at Eccles Library next week, so I still have a bit more time to get that on my computer. The Snowman needs 14 CDs putting on, Snow Flower only needs 9. Mind you, the biggest one which needs putting on is Citadel, by Kate Mosse. However, that is my own audiobook, I have bought that one, so I will take my time over the 21 CDs I need. Plus, I haven’t actually got that book in paperback or hardback, so there’s plenty of time yet! I quite like to have the book as well, if only for Goodreads purposes. I don’t know what page an audiobook would actually be up to if I didn’t have a physical copy, and I do like to keep track of it. I do have a copy of Snow Flower in paperback. I don’t have Citadel, but I do have a couple of others by Kate Mosse. Big chunky works of historical fiction, that author certainly doesn’t do Handbag Books, does she?! The slimmest of her works is The Winter Ghosts.

Obviously, even with offloading old books of mine, I’ve brought new ones in and I am always in need of bookmarks! Yeah, I use anything, and it’s not uncommon for me to shove used bus or tram passes into my reading matter, but I really enjoy making my own bookmarks, particularly as it gives me the excuse to do some more cross-stitch! These are a couple I finished off the other day! Two floral ones stitched onto coloured aida. Both the patterns were for filet crochet, but I convert such things to cross stitch! I often have a few ongoing, and started one yesterday which will have dogs on it. I don’t have a particular book in mind for it, though, nor do I have a particular book in mind for either of those two in the photos.

Book club tomorrow night. Not that I’ve read much of High Rise, but I will be attending. Maybe some time soon, we’ll choose one which will really grab me again, and not cause me to be distracted by other books instead. It’s not that they’re bad books, but some of the choices have not been my cup of tea, or, even if they did interest me a little, they didn’t hold my interest enough to stick with them. Also, in recent years, I’ve struggled with bouts of reader’s block. I’d say, in the past four years, I’ve had some real issues with reading. In the more distant past, even if I’d had a bout of depression, I would still read a fair bit. It was one of the only things I could actually be arsed to do when I was depressed.

However, since 2012, there have been times when I didn’t even feel like reading. I have read quite a bit since the end of last year, but those bouts of reader’s block may have accounted for a lot of hardly-read books amongst my Book Club books. A lot of those of which I only read a tiny bit were amongst those I have given to the charity shops in my recent sort-outs. A couple of books helped get me reading again towards the end of last year, neither of them were Book Club choices, mind! I enjoyed both The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, and Why the Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates.

I need a good read to get me over my recent stress, caused by a former friend of mine, whose whole attitude towards me had been driving me nuts for some time, and it reached the last straw on Friday when she commented LOL to a serious post I had shared on Facebook. I felt that summed up her whole lack of respect for my feelings, and I unfriended her. In one way, I am relieved, but I do feel very disappointed that it came to this. I had tried dropping hints, and had done so on FB, in private messages, and via this blog a few entries ago when I went off on a bit of a rant, so I have given her lots of clues, lots of chances, but she has failed to take the hint with any one of them. I will still see her at band, but I can’t see how we can be friends unless she can somehow learn to accept me as I am. It’s either that, or just leave me alone. I am NOT Eliza Dolittle, this is NOT Pygmalion! I am NOT here on earth as a part of some stupid bet or game, for someone to try to change me into something I’m not! Anyone who thinks I am can take a long walk off a short cliff!

So, I shall now return to my books, or my bookmarks, and leave you to enjoy the blog! Take care, and, until next time, Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Eric – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Hogfather – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Musical Instruments Through the Ages – Anthony Baines
  • The Hundred-Foot Journey – Richard C. Morais
  • Maple Leaf Rag – Stephen Brook
  • Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
  • Half Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan
  • Tulip Fever – Deborah Moggach
  • A Season in Red – Kirsty Needham
  • White Truffles in Winter – N. M. Kelby
  • Orfeo – Richard Powers
  • Ghostwritten – David Mitchell
  • The Snowman – Jo Nesbo
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See
  • Citadel  – Kate Mosse
  • The Winter Ghosts – Kate Mosse
  • High Rise – J. G. Ballard
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Why the Dutch are Different – Ben Coates
  • Pygmalion – George Bernard Shaw

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Cross-Stitch, E-Books & Audiobooks, Historical Fiction, Humour, Mental Health, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Rants, Reader's Block