Monthly Archives: May 2017

May Review

bee bookmark a

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

We’re on Wednesday 31st May 2017, and thus it’s time for this month’s look back at books and other stuff that’s gone on this month! A fair bit of cross-stitch has occurred, as you can see from the photos of the bee bookmark, which is still in progress. There have also been some patterned bookmarks made this month, but some books have also been read, and the total of 30 books, which I set for this year’s Goodreads Challenge, has been met.

I am going to leave things as they are and see how many more books I can read this  year. I’d really love to add some of my niece’s creations – Charlotte, the Junior Bookworm, has been busy writing a few stories of her own, and illustrating them herself! She even understands about putting some blurb on the back! In years to come, if you ever see any children’s books by a Charlotte Williams, don’t be too surprised! She also writes and spells really well. The occasional mistake, but she puts a lot of adults to shame! She’s even had a go at science fiction with a story about aliens!

Her books don’t, as yet, have ISBN numbers, so it would be tricky to put them on Goodreads, sadly, but I can say I’ve been treated to advanced readings of them!

When April came to an end, I’d just finished Diary of an Oxygen Thief, and had reached the 25/30 mark on the Goodreads Challenge, so let’s go through the five books I’ve completed in May to bring the total to 30…

Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson, was the first of the five to be finished off. It had been almost-finished for some time, and I only had about 9 pages left to read, so I got that done! A bit of a departure from his usual books, as he is mostly known for travel writing, but this is a book about the history and development of the English language, another matter which is of interest to me.

The next book was Oi Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field, and was brought round by my niece for me to read! As I’ve said before, Charlotte has some brilliant books!

The Tobacconist, by Robert Seethaler, wasn’t quite finished in time for my book club, but I did finish it shortly afterwards, and I had read the vast majority of it by the time we met up at Waterstone’s, so it wasn’t as though I couldn’t discuss it! At the book club, our next choice was another short book, a novella entitled The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, by Denis Thériault. This book was such a quick read that I didn’t bother adding it to the Ongoing Concerns list, as there was no point! It was an overnight read. Started one day, finished the next. A really good book, actually, although the postman’s colleague Robert, deserves to go on the Literary Slap List.

May is the time of the year, these days, when the people of our continent gather for the annual festival of dodgy singing, bad costumes and biased voting. Otherwise known as the Eurovision Song Contest! Congratulations to Portugal, who won for the first time ever, and also thanks and congratulations to Tim Moore for writing Nul Points, a book about all those acts since the mid 1970s up to the early noughties, who’d come away from Eurovision without a single vote to their names!

bee bookmark b

Still deciding what to do about my bookmark. I could actually fit another bee on it at the other side, facing the other way. It certainly needs a border no matter what else I add. The bee chart is diagonally symmetrical so I could turn it on one side and the bee would be a mirror image of the one I’ve already stitched.

I also need to work out a design on graph paper for stitching. When I started stitching in 1997, I did United’s honours list in cross stitch, but it’s only last week that we won the Europa League, a trophy best known to us older footy fans as the UEFA Cup. Thus I never designed a version of that for my honours list or other footy-related stitching, but I need to do so now! I intend to stitch myself a bookmark with the European Cup, European Cup-Winners’ Cup and UEFA Cup now that United have completed the set with their 2-0 victory over Ajax in Stockholm last Wednesday.

With The Tobacconist and Nul Points off the OC List, and with no new ones added as yet, we are currently running an OC List of 9 books, of which 4 are non-fiction and 5 are young adult. My next plan is to replace the next non-fiction book I finish, and the next two YA books I finish, with general fiction books, possibly including one of my “chunky monkeys” for added challenge, and then I would have 3 non-fiction, 3 general fiction and 3 young adult. This balance amongst my Ongoing Concerns is something I have mentioned in previous blog entries.

chunky books 2017

Some of my “chunky monkeys” for consideration…

Obviously, I’m not going to start ALL of these, lol, but I’m certainly giving serious thought to starting on one of them soon! Technically, given my 10% rule, and given that these books are so long – we’re talking around the 900-1000 page range here, I’d have to read around 90 to 100 pages to even get it to the 10% mark, so I could start on one for when the OC List gets another taken off it, but on the other hand, the one I start could grip me so much…

The books most likely to come off my OC List first are both non-fiction, with Pet Shop Boys, Literally, in the lead, and Periodic Tales second, and now up to 47% although I’ve had a bit of a to do on Goodreads because someone had altered the number of pages and it made it look as though I’d actually gone backwards percentage-wise! Grrrr!

Yes, I KNOW the book has more than 398 pages, but after page 398 all you have are notes, bibliography, acknowledgements and the index! Are you seriously telling me that people actually read those bits?! They’re just there for reference, for crying out loud! The main body of writing ends on page 398, so that is when I consider the book to end. When I get to that page, I will have finished Periodic Tales. I have just given someone a piece of my mind on Goodreads as I change the number of pages back again! And if Amazon says there’s 448 pages, they’re wrong anyway, as there’s only 428 even if you do include the index and suchlike at the back! I will calculate my percentages based on 398 pages, thank you very much!

Some fiction books can be like that, too. Not with indexes, of course, those are for non-fiction books, but occasionally you get additional things from the author, even extracts from some of their other novels, so the end of the book, for me, is wherever the main story ends. Sometimes you get a few pages at the back which suggest questions which can be considered if the book has been chosen as a book club book. All very well and good, but it gives a misleading impression about the length of the main book if you ask me, and might lead to similar arguments on Goodreads as the one I’ve been having regarding a non-fiction book – see above!

Anyway, what do you reckon with regard to my chunky monkeys? Which of these pretty lengthy books should I attempt? There are 6 possibilities. The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb, Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, Paris, by Edward Rutherfurd, Magician, by Raymond E. Feist, and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. If you have any recommendations, I’d be happy to hear them, or rather read them in the comments, lol!

Another thought for when the time comes to get more general fiction on the OC List is that I should start on some of those hardbacks which are still resting in a tall pile on top of my bass amp! Possibly The Night Circus, or The Miniaturist, the latter of which is a signed copy since last summer when I met Jessie Burton at Waterstone’s in town.

Anyway, that’s about it for now, time to have another look at my bee bookmark and decide what to add to it… Until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Various books written and illustrated by Charlotte Elizabeth Williams, aged 6
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous
  • Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson
  • Oi Frog! – Kes Gray & Jim Field
  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler
  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • I Know This Much Is True – Wally Lamb
  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  • Paris – Edward Rutherfurd
  • Magician – Raymond E. Feist
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
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Filed under Books, British Weather, Cross-Stitch, Football, Goodreads, Junior Bookworms, Literary Slap List, Manc Stuff!, Month in Review, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns

A Sense of Completion

MUFC Europa League Winners 2017

Mission Accomplished: European Silverware and Goodreads Challenge…

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome again to yet another blog from the most waffly bookworm in Manchester! As you can see from the blog title and the photo, there is a feeling of satisfaction and completion here. On Wednesday night, my lads delivered the goods in Stockholm, beating Ajax 2-0 in the Europa League Final to win the trophy for Manchester and complete the set of continental silverware! We have now won every trophy European football has ever had to offer at least once each! European Cup 3 times, the old European Cup-Winner’s Cup in 1991 and now the UEFA Cup (as the Europa League was known for donkey’s years) on Wednesday night in Sweden. Actually, it’s the first time we have ever kept a clean sheet in a continental final! Even in our other victories, the opposition had had a goal back, but not this time!

Yes, we’re still shocked and upset, but the best tribute to the 22 who died at the Arena on Monday night is that the show goes on… the sports, the entertainment… The athletics went ahead this evening on Deansgate and outside the Town Hall, and the Great Manchester Run goes ahead on Sunday. As it says at the end of the poem I posted in my last blog, this is Manchester, and the bees still buzz!

Anyway, on from sports to the matter of books, and United’s trophy collection isn’t the only thing being completed this month, as my Goodreads Challenge has also reached my target of 30 books! Yay! As I had mentioned after our last book club meeting, I never included our current book on the OC List. It was far too short! An overnight read as it turned out, and I finished The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, by Denis Thériault, last weekend! This took me to 29 books for the year, and I finished Nul Points earlier today, Tim Moore‘s book of Eurovision losers, so that brings up the 30 books I had set as my target!

So, what to do next? My OC List is now down to 9 books at present, I’ve not added to it yet. It’s also a question of what to do next with the Goodreads Challenge side of it. Last year, I set the original target at 25. I met that around May or June of last year. Plenty of time to go, I thought, so I upped the target to 40, thinking another 15 books was perfectly sensible…

But then I read A Little Life. And then I had an Epic Book Hangover! Oops! For the rest of 2016, I did not feel up to reading ANY fiction at all! Nothing appealed to me. Nothing grabbed me. My final total for 2016 was 30 books, and that’s because I managed to read some non-fiction books for the rest of the year! I’d missed my target by 10 books, though, because I’d wasted a lot of time fretting about my inability to read any fiction.

However, I now know that if the same thing ever happens again, I can turn to my non-fiction reads, of which I have plenty I can be getting on with, so I am NOT going to let it bug me if I have Reader’s Block on the fiction front. It would only be a worry if I didn’t fancy reading anything at all! This has also happened in the past, so I am not going to bother upping my Goodreads Challenge total. I will leave it at 30 and see how many more books above and beyond my target number I can read by the end of 2017!

So, back to the Ongoing Concerns… Pet Shop Boys, Literally, now returns to the top spot, followed by Periodic Tales. The number of OCs is currently 9. Do I add to that, or get others off the list first before adding new ones? I really think some of the YA ones on there could do with reading! Perhaps get PSB off the list first, though. The book is at 62% and I am going to see them in Blackpool in June, so back to Chris Heath‘s account of their first proper tour back in 1989…

Just looking over at the OC pile, and the nine books consist of four non-fiction titles and five YA novels! My plan, from a previous blog, was to get the list to a balance of general fiction, non-fiction, and young adult. Three of each. So, next non-fiction to come off the list gets replaced by a general fiction title, and the next two YA books to come off the list are also replaced by general fiction, and we would get to that three of each stage. The others could be like for like replacements. So, let’s say I finish Pet Shop Boys, Literally next. That non-fiction is replaced by fiction. Next book after that is Periodic Tales, another non-fiction, but that could be replaced by another non-fiction, as we’d have got the non-fictions down to three. After that on the list are Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, followed by Finding Audrey, so those are the two YA titles which would be replaced by general fiction once those had been read, but then we’d have that balance.

So, the OC pile stays at nine. No more books are added. Next non-fiction, and next two YA novels are to be replaced by general fiction, and then we’re set.

For one of my next fiction ones, once I’ve finished with Pet Shop Boys, Literally, I have a few in mind. Obviously, Midnight Blue, a recent acquisition could be read, but then again, maybe it’s time I gave The Miniaturist a go? However, I did recently find I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb, at a charity shop in Salford for £2. Bearing in mind that it’s quite a chunky book, and the RRP was £9.99, that’s still quite some bargain, even if I have had much cheaper acquisitions from the local charity shops, of which we have many in Monton, Eccles and Salford! I still can’t see that book without thinking of the Spandau Ballet song, lol!

Anyway, that’s about it for now, and while we’re still on 26th May, 18 years on from the best night of my life in Barcelona in 1999, I wish all my fellow Reds a Happy St Ole’s Day! Until my next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • Periodic Tales  – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • Midnight Blue – Simone van der Vlugt
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • I Know This Much Is True – Wally Lamb

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Filed under Books, British Weather, Charity Shop Bargains, Football, Goodreads, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Reader's Block, Sports, The TBR Pile

Oh Manchester is Wonderful!

Manchester skyline dusk

Manchester at dusk

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Didn’t think “good evening” would be right after the events which started unfolding around 10:30pm last night. My thoughts go out to the 22 killed and 59 injured (the current figures, as far as I know, unless there has been a further update) after the bomb blast at the Manchester Arena last night at the end of the Ariana Grande concert. My thoughts, also, to Ariana and the members of her band, and roadies. They must be pretty shaken, too. You go on tour to take your songs around a country, provide entertainment for your fans, you don’t expect your gig to be ruined by some terrorist knobhead.

But that knob will NOT win. Message for the dickhead…

This is Manchester, sunshine! Idiots have tried before, and they have failed!

The Luftwaffe tried way back in the 40s during the Second World War. They failed.

The IRA tried in June 1996. They also failed.

And the latest batch of knobheads will also fail, as will any future knobheads!

Because we don’t put up with that sort of shit round here! Never have and never bloody will! I live on the outskirts of a very cosmopolitan and friendly city, I worked in the city centre for ten years and loved it, and I am especially proud of the way fellow Mancs rushed to help out after the atrocity.

city united against terrorism

Opening up shops and houses to those stranded in town, offering accommodation and cuppas, cabbies turning off their meters and giving people a free ride home, sandwich shops and pizza deliverers providing free sustenance to members of the emergency services to keep them going strong on what would have been the busiest and most horrific night of work many of them will ever have been called out to. Huge thumbs up to the North West Ambulance Service, by the way! One of my former classmates, whom I’ve known since primary school, is a paramedic, and was in action last night in the aftermath of the blast.

Hotels took in kids separated from their parents, I’ve heard of phone shops which opened up to let people recharge their mobiles – last thing you need when you need to let people know you’re OK and where you are is for your battery to run out, so I expect that anyone providing mobile-charging facilities was much appreciated!

This is a city which has always loved entertainment. Particularly music. Dave Haslam wrote about it in Manchester, England, and Stuart Maconie also mentioned it in The Pie at Night, which I read earlier this year, a book about what the north likes to do for fun after hours. It is also a city which welcomes people of all backgrounds. All faiths, nationalities, sexual orientations, etc, etc…

The only thing we don’t like is a narrow-minded knobhead who has a problem with us having fun and enjoying ourselves! Especially to the extent where they think it’s acceptable to blow people up at a pop concert. That is the only kind of person that is NOT welcome round here! If you have a problem with people having a good time, then you can just do one! Seriously, off you f**k! That sort of shit is out of order!

Manchester 23rd May 2017

Market Street, Manchester, earlier this evening.

The rest of us will carry on. After a day or two, we will resume going to gigs, we will resume enjoying ourselves, because we are NOT going to let the latest shower of bastards win any more than we let the previous numpties win back in the 40s or 1996…

I’m currently 84% of the way through Nul Points, on my OC list, which, as many of you know by now, is a book about the artists who have gone away from the Eurovision Song Contest completely empty-handed, without a single vote to their name. Some of those poor unfortunate singers might have felt like right losers on those occasions, but they’re not, really, are they? It is much, much better to lose at Eurovision than to lose in life by being a terrorist knobhead!

and the bees still buzz poem

Poem courtesy of the Afflecks page on Facebook.

Thought I would leave you all with the poem as this is supposed to be a literary-themed blog, and I have mentioned a few books tonight, including a couple which speak of Manchester’s love of and reputation for entertainment. I will be back to my usual, long, waffly self soon enough, and probably listing more books than you can shake a stick at, lol, but I’m sure you understand that, as a Manc bookworm, I had things to get off my chest tonight which weren’t about reading matter!

All the best to my beloved Reds for tomorrow night, as Manchester United play Ajax in the Europa League Final at the Friends Arena in Stockholm! Keep the Red Flag flying high over in Sweden and win the trophy for Manchester!

Until the next time I blog again, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore

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Filed under Books, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Manc Stuff!, Music, Ongoing Concerns, Rants

Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

Tobacconist finished May 2017

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Another blog, another book finished and off the OC List! Not quite in time for yesterday’s book club meeting, but The Tobacconist has been finished off, and I can recommend it! Historical fiction without being too chunky (we all know historical fiction, as a genre, has a well-earned reputation for chunky novels!) Very well-written. So, currently, until I add another book, there are 10 books on the OC list, and now 28 on my Goodreads Challenge! Woo hoo!

Going back to my OC List, it may have occurred to you that when I give percentages for how far through any book on my OC List I have progressed, they are always at least 10% or more. Usually coming in on the list at around 12 or 13 percent. This is my OC List policy and it also means that I can try a bit and see if I like it first. If it doesn’t grab me, it’s not even going to go on the list! It’s my escape clause so that I don’t feel pressured into reading stuff which really doesn’t fizz on me, such as horror novels! So, if you WERE wondering why books had to be read, at least a little bit, before even appearing on the OC List, that is why! In case my book club chooses something which isn’t my cup of tea, or if I try one of my many books from my TBR List only to find that I can’t get into it…

New books May 2017

My latest acquisitions from Waterstone’s yesterday…

Anyway, talking of the book club, the next book, for our meeting on 14th June, is The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, by Denis Thériault, a novella set in Quebec, Canada. The author lives in Montreal, according to the info at the front of the book, so that’s our new one, with the postman theme giving us the blog title for today! Thing is, it’s a short one. 137 pages. Thus I am debating whether it will even need to go on the OC List at all, or whether it will only take a day or two to read and I needn’t list it as an Ongoing Concern, in the same way I didn’t bother listing Diary of an Oxygen Thief as an OC.

The other book in the photo is one which caught my eye in Waterstone’s yesterday, Midnight Blue, by Simone van der Vlugt. Historical fiction set in the Netherlands, in both Amsterdam and Delft. I have been to Amsterdam, of course, been there twice, let in the new year there once, back in the noughties, but not been to Delft as yet. I believe it’s in the south of the country and not far from Rotterdam, which I mentioned on here earlier this week due to Feyenoord winning the league and due to the anniversary of United winning the European Cup-Winners’ Cup at their ground in 1991.

Anyway, back to Midnight Blue. I read the blurb on the back, and it struck me that it seemed like the sort of book I might like, having enjoyed Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, a couple of years ago. Actually, I really should get round to trying The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton, sometime soon, if we’re discussing historical fiction set in the Netherlands, lol! Plus, I met her last year, and she signed it for me, along with my copy of The Muse.

Really should read some more of my hardbacks. Thing is, they’re not always the most ideal handbag books, are they? So I don’t feel as inclined to lug them around as I do with paperbacks, which I just stick in my handbag and take them around with me. Some books just come everywhere… Nul Points is still in my handbag. That’s top of the OC List now that I’ve finished The Tobacconist. Still got a lot of YA novels on there to get on with. Perhaps I need to get Nul Points finished and have a good go at the YA stuff… get it off the list and some fresh stuff on.

Talking of YA novels, anyone who knows me on FB book groups might know that I’ve recently commented that I much prefer the cover of the US edition of The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, rather than the UK version. Very helpfully, the young lady who was working in the YA section at Waterstone’s yesterday said that the Book Depository would be the place to go if I wanted to get a copy of that book with the US cover, so when I get around to acquiring one, I shall look online at that site. The book has different publishers in different countries. I don’t dislike the UK cover, but I have to say I much prefer the US one.

Bit of a List Challenges mini rant! Grrr! Why is it that sometimes they either change the edition or put image not available?! I’ve had to find new images for a couple of books and I’ve had to put those back in where they belong on a very long list, meaning I had to scroll upwards quite a bit, not just for 11/22/63, by Stephen King, but especially for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling! Very irritating, and a total pain in the arse, but covers have been found and the old ones deleted.

The other rant, although this applies to other sites, not just List Challenges, is that when you hide an advert for whatever reason, they bloody lie to you with that “We’ll try not to show that advert again” bullshit, but you know that’s not true as it crops up yet again shortly afterwards. If they are trying, which I very much doubt, then they’re NOT trying anywhere near hard enough as far as I’m concerned! Lying tossers!

The standard of advertising on the internet is subterranean to say the least! So much misleading shite! I just wish there was some kind of strict regulator, like we have the Advertising Standards Agency here in the UK. That tends to cover TV, radio, papers and magazines. Sadly, websites don’t come under their remit and there’s a load of bullshit “adverts” on the internet which would NEVER get shown on telly for a bloody good reason – they’re false and misleading and just bloody clickbait! If pigs ever fly, and I ever get to be in charge, a whole host of shite ads would get banned! Why should people’s enjoyment of time online have to be spoiled by shitty fake adverts?!

Been on the Book Depository website, but, disappointingly, it just seems to have the UK edition of The Hate U Give. Is there anywhere where I could get a copy of the edition with the cover I prefer? Anywhere at all? Not that I’ve really got the dosh right now, but on a need to know basis for when I do get around to buying it…

Well, time to get a bit more of Nul Points read, I think! So, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler
  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous
  • Midnight Blue – Simone van der Vlugt
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • The Muse – Jessie Burton
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • 11/22/63 – Stephen King
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J. K. Rowling

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Filed under Books, European Literature, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Historical Fiction, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Music, Ongoing Concerns, Rants, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

Voyage of Discoveries

Garage finds 15th May 2017

Unlike Bono, I HAVE found what I’m looking for, lol!

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

Back again with another blog for your reading pleasure, and, firstly, congratulations to Portugal who won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night, the first time they have ever won it! Next year’s ESC will be in Lisbon. I have some good news and bad news on the book front, so let’s crack on with this…

The bad news, or rather, disappointing news, is that there is now a 20th book to add to the notorious Duplicate Books List, as I have found a copy of The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway, which I didn’t know I already owned when I bought a copy not long ago! Oops!

However, I went on the voyage to the bottom of our garage, lol, due to a tip-off from my mum that there were some plastic boxes with books in them, which might contain some that I’d been looking for. Sure enough, there it was… The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy! Yay! All the “missing books” I’d bemoaned on here earlier this year have now been located and retrieved! Alone in Berlin, by Hans Fallada, was also in that container, so please remind me of this if I mention in a future blog that I’m looking for it and don’t know where I put it! Also in that same box was The Radleys, by Matt Haig, but I have read that one a few years ago. Really good book.

There were two other things of interest which I fished out of those containers. One of them was my Hello Kitty diary, which I had used as a travel diary for a few years in the early noughties – first couple of excursions were the London Eye and Camden Market trip and the Amsterdam Tournament trip, both in 2002, but the diary is open at the back in the photo to reveal something from 2003 and our holiday in the USA to see United’s pre-season tour that summer…

I think I may have mentioned this before, I’ve certainly mentioned it on Facebook, but we had to fly from Heathrow on that tour as all the flights from Manchester were booked up. West Ham’s team were going on their pre-season tour that day, although I’m not sure where they were jetting off to, but that meant there were a lot of footballers milling around with us in the departure lounge and duty free areas at Heathrow Airport, and that’s when I met Jermaine Defoe and got his autograph in the back of my travel diary! Jermaine is currently at Sunderland, although I guess he’ll be leaving this summer due to their relegation. As he’s an England international, he can’t really afford to stay with a relegated side and play in the Championship if he’s going to be picked for the Three Lions. He needs to be at a Premier League club.

You will also see a cross-stitched bookmark on the photo. That is the very first cross-stitched bookmark I ever made! Way back in the early months of 1997, 20 years ago, when I first decided to give cross stitch a try! Eric Cantona was still playing for us at the time, although he retired that May. He remains my all-time favourite player. I replaced that bookmark with another in the book in which I had found it, a book about United, appropriately enough although about a more recent time than the seasons Eric played for us, so I could bring the bookmark up to my room and photograph it for the benefit of my 54 followers, plus those who read my blog via Facebook! Once I’ve published it on here, I also paste a link onto FB so my bookworm friends on Farcebook can also enjoy my waffle, lol!

Rotterdam! Rotterdam! We’re the famous Man United and we won in Rotterdam!

Talking of United, we’re on 15th May, so Happy Birthday to our former defender and deputy captain, Patrice Evra, 36 today, and Happy ECWC Anniversary, as it’s 26 years since United won the European Cup-Winners’ Cup in Rotterdam! 15th May 1991. Les Sealey, Denis Irwin, Clayton Blackmore, Steve Bruce, Mike Phelan, Gary Pallister, Bryan Robson (captain), Paul Ince, Brian McClair, Mark Hughes and Lee Sharpe. That starting eleven played the full 90 minutes. Unusual for no subs to have been used, but there you go! Sadly, Les Sealey died in 2001, but the other 10 guys are still with us.

Drink, drink, wherever you may be!

We are the drunk and disorderly!

An’ we don’t give a s**t an’ we don’t give a f**k

‘Cause we came home with the Cup-Winners’ Cup!

Oops! Sorry! While we’re on the subject of Rotterdam, Feyenoord, whose ground was the scene of our night of glory in 1991, won the Dutch title yesterday for the first time in 18 years – their previous Eredivisie title had come in the 1998-99 season, the same time United did the Treble, of course, but now they are celebrating again after clinching it at home yesterday with a 3-1 win. I don’t know if I have any Dutch bookworms amongst my followers, either on here or on Facebook, but if I do, and any of them are Feyenoord fans, congratulations on your title!

While we, and Feyenoord fans, were celebrating in 1999, that season saw the final time the European Cup-Winners’ Cup would be contested. UEFA brought it to an end that season, so the final winners, Lazio, got to keep the trophy, although there is a replica in the National Football Museum here in Manchester, along with a plaque celebrating the years it has been won by clubs here in the UK. I know I talk of Ongoing Concerns with regard to books, but the ongoing concerns with regard to continental football tournaments in Europe are the European Cup (Champions’ League) and the UEFA Cup (Europa League), the latter of which will see Manchester United play Ajax in Stockholm on 24th May – next Wednesday! Eek! It’s getting close!

Anyway, I probably ought to return to the topic of books, lol! I really need to get The Tobacconist finished as soon as possible. As much of it read by Thursday as I can, ahead of my book club. Thing is, it’s Nul Points which is still grabbing me at the moment! I’m also in the middle of stitching a couple more bookmarks! As there is no such thing as too many books, there is also such a thing as not enough bookmarks! I have been known to use a lot of things as improvised bookmarks, including postcards, expired bus and tram passes, and tickets from concerts and football matches, but I do have a fair few actual bookmarks, particularly as I stitch a lot when the mood takes me! So glad I found my Eric Cantona one, though! Wondered where that had got to! It’ll be his birthday next Wednesday when United play Ajax in Stockholm! He’ll be 51!

So, that’s about it for my news at the moment! There will be more book-related waffle fairly soon, along with side orders of music, football, crafting and other points of interest! Until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway
  • The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
  • Alone In Berlin – Hans Fallada
  • The Radleys – Matt Haig
  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore

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Filed under Books, Computer Corner, Cross-Stitch, Duplicate Books List, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Music, Ongoing Concerns, The TBR Pile, Travel

Swede Dreams Are Made of This

swede-reads

Swede Dreams: United are going to Stockholm!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Apologies for an omission from my previous blog. My niece was round here on Tuesday with some of her favourite reading matter, which Charlotte and I were reading together. I have mentioned these two books before, both by Drew Daywalt, but they are The Day the Crayons Quit, and The Day the Crayons Came Home. Both brilliant and very funny books, and expertly read by my niece! She is such a fluent reader, and puts inflection into her reading. I think she’s bringing Oi, Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field, round with her next time. She has some great books!

Obviously, my last blog entry was written before our game against Celta Vigo, so this is my first opportunity on this blog to mention that we’re through to the Europa League Final in Stockholm on 24th May! Woohoo! Sadly, for several reasons, I won’t be there, and will have to settle for watching it on telly, but we got through. It was 1-1 on Thursday night, but we had won the away leg 1-0, so we won 2-1 on aggregate. One consolation is that our final opponents, Ajax, weren’t convincing either. They had won their first leg 4-1, but lost the second 3-1 in Lyon, so they squeaked through 5-4 on aggregate. They will also be missing a player through suspension, they had a guy sent off, so the fact that Eric Bailly was dismissed along with Celta Vigo’s goalscorer, can be offset slightly!

So, if you were wondering about the title and the photo of books by Swedish authors, it’s ’cause United are going to Stockholm! Of course, I have also found my copy of A Man Called Ove since then – it was missing at the time, as you might recall. One of the notorious missing books, although Ove and three of the others were later found in my wardrobe unit. Still haven’t got the foggiest where The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, has disappeared to, though! That is a mystery yet to be solved, lol!

On the Goodreads Challenge, I’m currently at the stage of having read 26 books so far this year. My target for 2017 is 30 books. Something tells me I might have to update at some point, lol! Diary of an Oxygen Thief, by an anonymous author, was book number 25 on the list, and finishing off the last 9 pages of Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson, took me up to my current total.

As for the books hoping to get on to the Goodreads Challenge list, otherwise known as the Ongoing Concerns, Pet Shop Boys, Literally, by Chris Heath still tops the list, but I’ve been reading quite a bit of Nul Points lately, so Tim Moore‘s book has crept up to 2nd on the list. The PSB book is at 62%, with Tim Moore’s book about Eurovision Song Contest losers on 55%. The Tobacconist, by Robert Seethaler, is at 51% so it’s just over halfway, but I need to get on with that one, really, as my book club is this coming Thursday! Oops!

Just below The Tobacconist, is Periodic Tales, so non-fiction is taking up 3 of the top 4 places on the OC List at the moment.

* My my! At Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender… *

Oops! Sorry! Just getting in the mood for Eurovision, lol! I felt we needed a bit of Abba. Well, they are the most successful act to have become famous because of the Eurovision Song Contest, so we might as well appreciate the Swedish superstars. Actually, Frida (Anni-Frid) is Norwegian, but the other three are Swedes. When Pick of the Pops was on Radio 2 earlier, the first of the two years was 1976, and Abba were number one this time 41 years ago with Fernando. They had 9 UK number ones, 7 in the 70s and 2 in the early 80s, from Waterloo in 1974, which started it all, to Super Trouper in 1980, the last of their songs to top the British charts.

I apologise that this blog entry is a bit on the short side, but let’s not forget that my previous one was rather waffly, lol! I’ve mentioned more books than I did last time, though! I will be back again sooner rather than later with another blog, but, until then, take care, Happy Reading, and enjoy Eurovision if you’re also watching it tonight!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt
  • The Day the Crayons Came Home – Drew Daywalt
  • Oi, Frog! – Kes Gray & Jim Field
  • A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
  • The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous
  • Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams

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Filed under Books, Childrens' Books, European Literature, Football, Goodreads, Junior Bookworms, Music, Ongoing Concerns

I Spy

Le Carre bargain book

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with B…

B for bargain, obviously! Regular blog readers might know that I have tried to get my dad to get his arse back on Facebook, but that pulling his finger out and doing something about anything is not really his strong point, lol! He had been on FB, briefly, but his place of work weren’t happy about their staff being on it. However, he has been retired since April 2010, so I really don’t see why he can’t get his arse back online, and there are plenty of things I could share with him if he did.

Then again, there is ONE advantage to him NOT being on Farcebook… It does mean that if I get anything which is supposed to be a surprise for him, I can share it with others on FB knowing he won’t see it! Hence the book in the photo, John Le Carre: The Biography, by Adam Sisman. Not a charity shop book, but an epic bargain nevertheless. Mum and I had gone to Blackpool for the afternoon, and happened to pop into a branch of The Works.. and there it was. Full price would have been £25, but it cost me all of £3! Dad has always been a fan of spy thrillers, I grew up seeing him read books by John Le Carre and Len Deighton, as I may well have mentioned in my previous blogs about my family’s tastes in books, so I thought this would be the ideal birthday pressie for him for his 70th birthday in September!

I doubt very much he reads blogs, and he’s not on Facebook, as I said, so I’m hoping I am safe in letting you lot know that I’ve got him this for his birthday. If you DO know Kevin Dixon-Jackson, not a word to him about this, please! It’s a surprise!

Right, what else is there on the book front? Apparently, according to a new study, bookworms are nicer, kinder, and more empathetic people. Yay! However, I would argue there is a proviso to this… We are nice people except when you interrupt our reading! Just don’t even think about doing that to us, and we’ll be nice, lol!

Still reading Nul Points, by Tim Moore, as one of my OCs, and the Eurovision Song Contest is coming up this Saturday! Woo! I actually braved listening to a couple of entries which Tim had mentioned in his book. And I mean “braved” listening to them. Having exposed my eyes and ears to YouTube clips from the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest of the Turkish and Spanish entries for that year, I have to say that I can understand perfectly well why those entrants went home from Germany without a single point to their names! Particularly the Spanish entry. I’m very sorry, my Iberian chums, but that is 3 minutes I will never get back! It’s not just the wailing attempt at a “song”, in which she asked umpteen times as to who was steering her boat, but it was what she was wearing! A blue, white and grey stripy shower curtain would have been an approximation to her “dress” that night! Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

Makes me wary of trying to look up some of the other nul point entries, but I guess I’ll end up doing so, even if it’s purely out of morbid curiosity, to see if they are any worse than the two I’ve already endured, lmao!

While we are on the subject of Eurovision, it seems that my family were ahead of their time! Many people these days hold Eurovision parties and make a big event of watching the contest. Nothing new for us – I can recall Eurovision nights in the late 70s and early to mid 80s where Mum, Dad, me and Ellie would be round at Grandma and Grandad’s and the six of us would be watching the Eurovision Song Contest in their living room, with my dad “translating” the non-English songs! For some reason, known only to Dad, most of these foreign warblings seemed to be about nuns with bicycles stuck up their arses! Especially the French entries! Those were ALWAYS about nuns with bikes stuck up their bums, according to my dad! Google Translate?! Pah! Who needed that in the early 80s when you could have my dad telling you what the songs were about?!

We used to go round to Grandma and Grandad’s on a frequent basis, anyway, when my sister and I were little, particularly for tea on a Saturday evening, so it wasn’t that surprising that we would be watching Eurovision round there. One point that I’ve not mentioned about those Turkish and Spanish entries who ended up with nul points in 1983, was that the contest that year took place on 23rd April, thus these poor pointless creatures were going away from Eurovision with the proverbial wooden spoon on my 10th birthday! So maybe, that year, I might have been watching Eurovision at home while stuffing my face with birthday cake!

Maybe the Turkish guy could have got a point or two, but… sorry, Spain, but that woman did you no favours in 1983! I’ve seen it on YouTube, as I said earlier, and it is bad. I mean BAD! We’re talking bad singing AND a terrible outfit! Just asking for nul points, quite frankly! Oh well, with singing that bad, just as well she was over in Germany, and not at our house singing happy birthday to me on the day I reached double figures, lol! Thankfully, I don’t recall much if anything about that year’s Eurovision, so clearly her bad singing didn’t spoil the day I completed an entire decade on the planet!

Without Tim Moore’s book, about the only thing I probably would have been able to figure out was that it would have been in Germany as Nicole had won in 1982, so the ESC is in the country of the previous year’s winning entry. I remember 1981 ’cause that’s when Bucks Fizz won with Making Your Mind Up, and I remember 1982 as the UK hosted it and Nicole won for Germany (West Germany as it was then) with Ein Bisschen Frieden, but I have a bit of a blank for a year or two until 1985 which I remember because there was a massive shock when Norway, who’d previously become infamous for getting nul points, actually won the Eurovision Song Contest that year!

Norway, however, were relatively lucky, compared to other multiple nul-point countries such as Finland and Turkey! Norway won the Eurovision Song Contest as early as 1985, and have since won it twice more, in 1995, and in 2009. Their ignominious failures of the early days have actually been outweighed by their ESC successes in more recent times. Turkey and Finland both had to wait much longer to be making headlines for the right reasons, with Turkey finally winning in 2003, and Finland three years later in 2006. To date, those have been the sole successes for the countries in question.

This is probably going to be one of those blogs where few books are mentioned. It happens from time to time. I am sure, though, that I’ll return to the usual long list of reading matter in coming blogs, so it’s nothing to worry about if I have only mentioned a couple of books in this one!

Update on the nul point recipients I have watched. I have now seen Jahn Teigen’s performance from 1978 which earned Norway one of its big fat zeroes. I can see why. What the hell was he wearing, and what the hell did he think he was doing with those on-stage antics? The pulling of his braces! That jump! WTF?! I am thinking the song itself wasn’t too bad, I’ve heard much worse, but if anyone was thinking of awarding him any points, his cringeworthy antics on stage probably cost him a few votes!

Video unavailable for Finn Kalvik, another nul-pointer from Norway, from 1981, sparing his blushes at least for now, but maybe I will find that somewhere else on the internet?

Onto Finland’s Kojo in 1982 and Nuku Pommiin. Oh dear! Not the greatest of songs, and what was with that red leather suit? It’s admirable enough to sing a song protesting about nuclear missiles, but there are probably better ways of going about it, chuck! Look at Nicole. That same year, she sat on a stool with her big guitar and sung about wanting a little peace. She won!

I’ve already dwelt upon Turkey and Spain and their pointless performances in 1983. We move on to 1987, then. and, sorry, Turkey, but it’s you guys again! The 1987 contest gave us an Israeli entry whose title translated as Lazy Bums, but their own country were a bit more upset about that than the others as it did receive at least some votes! Cetin Alp would no longer be the only Turk to have come away from Eurovision pointless after this contest… Not actually a bad song in 1987, although maybe too much hyperactive jigging about on stage was considered offputting? Maybe it got zilch because other songs were just much better, or it got forgotten about as more memorable acts caught the imagination and won the votes?

Clearly the late 80s were a rich source of nul-pointers. Consecutive ESCs in 1987, 1988 and 1989 each saw an act go home without a single vote. As mentioned above, Turkey got the wooden spoon in 1987, with Austria receiving it in 1988 and Iceland in 1989. Wilfried Scheutz for Austria… Lisa, Mona Lisa…  Nein. Nicht gut! Keine Punkte, mein Herr! You need something a bit more cheerful for Eurovision, matey! Something a bit upbeat and boppy! Or at least not so bloody gloomy-sounding! Daniel made a pretty similar mistake the following year as Iceland got the cold shoulder from the other countries’ juries.

Well, I’d better call it a day. Otherwise I’ll end up getting nul points for this blog! Or nul likes, more to the point! More utter waffle will probably follow in my next blog, but for the time being, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • John Le Carre: The Biography – Adam Sisman
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Humour, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns