Category Archives: Authors

Long Blog From Joanne!

Stuart Maconie at Waterstone's July 2017

Stuart Maconie at Waterstone’s, Deansgate

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

We’re now in the early hours of Friday morning, but I’m hoping to get on with this blog and report on a great evening at Waterstone’s yesterday, when I met one of my favourite writers, Stuart Maconie, who was promoting his brand new book, Long Road from Jarrow, in which he retraces the route from Jarrow to London taken by 200 men from the north-east town in October 1936 to try to petition Parliament to create some jobs in their local area.

Eighty years to the day, Maconie set off from Jarrow in October 2016, taking in what had changed and what was still similar all these years later. As he said himself, during the talk, things have changed so quickly even since last autumn that even some of the events of last year seem very out of date already, but you can’t just go round putting in amendments in all the books – you just have to accept that that’s how things were when you finished writing! An occupational hazard of non-fiction writing, especially when it comes to history!

The lady with Stuart was from BBC Radio 6 if I recall rightly, and was leading the interview-style event prior to Stuart taking questions from the audience. This was in one of the event rooms at the book shop, although Stuart did the book-signing session in the cafe on the 2nd floor, so that was out in the main part of the store again.

If any of you have read and enjoyed his books, he is as witty in real life as when he writes. There were a lot of similarities between 1936 and 2016, despite the eighty year gap. The media was just getting going back then, but the marchers used what forms of communication they had at the time to plan their route, find some accommodation and get some mentions in local papers along the journey! A lot of people felt politicians had turned their backs on them and abandoned them, which is pretty much the feeling a lot of people have even now.

Me with Stuart Maconie July 2017

Me with Stuart Maconie

I didn’t put any questions to him during the Q&A session, but did have a bit of a chat while he was signing my books – he signed my copy of Long Road from Jarrow, and also The Pie at Night, which I had brought with me. I mentioned that I’d got a lot of that read on the way to Wembley in February – it seemed an apt book to take to the EFL Cup Final as football is one of the major things we northerners enjoy as entertainment. He’s a Wigan Athletic fan, so 2013 was a special year for them, as well as my lads. Although they were sadly relegated from the Premier League that season, they did win the FA Cup so it was still a happy memory!

Long Road from Jarrow may have to wait, but hopefully not too long – it depends on the progress of the current non-fiction books on the OC List, but as Periodic Tales is now at 64% and Neither Here Nor There is now at 33%, it shouldn’t be too long before Dave Haslam and Stuart Maconie are on the OC List! Manchester England is being queued up as the next non-fiction to join the OCs, so Long Road from Jarrow can be next after that! They’re both books about (mostly) 20th century British history, popular history of northern England to be exact, but not completely the same. One is specific to my local area, concerning the city’s entertainment history, and the other is the re-tracing of a famous march route down to London by 200 job-seeking Geordie fellas.

My signed book, plus promotional postcard and badge

As I said earlier, he also signed my copy of The Pie at Night, but the photos are of the new book, and the promotional stuff – nice when you get matching freebies, isn’t it?! Plus, it gives me extra things to #Bookstagram about! And there’s plenty to #Bookstagram about when you’re a mad bookworm on Instagram, let me assure you, lol! Particularly when authors of YA novels are liking your posts! I got a like from Keris Stainton when I featured One Italian Summer in one of my Bookstagram posts! Woo-hoo!

I’ve also made friends on Instagram with one of the Waterstone’s ladies – she works in the children’s and young adult’s section, and she’s the one who recommended One Italian Summer to me. She has also recommended When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon, which I certainly like the sound of, but I have yet to acquire a copy.

Super scrumptious story bench

The above photo is a taster of a blog to come, as I plan to do a more thorough mention of the Book Bench Trail shortly. I have found the benches in Manchester Cathedral, and in the National Football Museum, so I will be featuring more photos very soon from around town. It’s just that I wanted to concentrate on the Waterstone’s event with Stuart Maconie in this blog. I don’t mean to over-Manc you all, I know that my followers are pretty spread out – the last time I checked, I had 58 of you following my book blog, so thank you for being brave enough to do that, lol! – and I also know it can be irritating to read about book events you can’t get to as they’re nowhere near where you live! I’d love to go to some of those book fairs I see mentioned on Book Riot’s Facebook page, but they’re all in the USA and I’m on the other side of the pond!

I mean, I’d quite like to go to Hay-On-Wye, which is a famous book town in Wales, well known for having a lot of book shops, and that visit is not beyond the realms of possibility as it is in the UK, so I feel that is an achievable thing for a British bookworm and that I might eventually be able to tick it off from my “to do” list! Not saying I won’t ever get to a book fair or convention in the States, but it’s a more remote possibility than visiting a book town based on the same island I inhabit!

Thus, if there’s book-related stuff happening right on my own doorstep, here in Manchester, I’m going to be having a shufty and reporting on it in this blog! However, for the time being, I’m going to have to call it a night for now and get this thing published, so, until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Long Road from Jarrow – Stuart Maconie
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

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Filed under Authors, Books, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Literary Issues, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Travel, YA Books

A Truth Universally Acknowledged

Jane Austen ten pound note 2017

The forthcoming plastic £10 note featuring Jane Austen

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of one of the new £10 notes will find a picture of Jane Austen on it! This week marked the 200th year since Austen passed away, so it does make it rather appropriate that when the new plastic tenners come out this autumn, she will be on them. At least the Bank of England have got things right this time, actually bringing a note out featuring a certain famous person in an appropriate anniversary year, as opposed to a few years ago when they actually phased out the £20 notes with Sir Edward Elgar on them a year or two before a significant anniversary regarding one of our most famous composers! I expect, after the strident complaints received from disgruntled classical music buffs over their Elgar error, they have learned from their mistake and chose 2017 to actually launch the Jane Austen ten pound notes. And, as you can probably tell from the title and the opening sentence of this blog, yes I did study Pride and Prejudice when I was at school!

The OC Overhaul is working well, getting the list down to six was one of my better ideas, lol! Today I have been making progress with our latest book club book, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old, and am presently up to 37% of the way through the book. If you can imagine Adrian Mole, but elderly and Dutch and in a nursing home in Amsterdam, you can probably get a fair idea! The diary is set in 2013, and I am up to the end of April, or early May, I think, so I’ve just gone past a significant time for me – not that Hendrik mentions it, he doesn’t, but April 2013 for me was about United’s 20th league title and my 40th birthday! As many of you know, our 20th title was clinched the night before my Big 40, thanks to Robin van Persie’s hat-trick at home to Aston Villa, the second goal of which was an absolute beauty and definitely one of the best goals I have ever seen!

Talking of goals, it was good to see Romelu Lukaku get off the mark with his first goal for us the other night as we came from behind to beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 in our second game of our pre-season tour in the USA. I know we have got Lindelof and Lukaku, but we still need more players this summer! The Gnome is being very tardy, and Jose has had to mention it a few times in press conferences – you can tell Mr Mourinho isn’t happy about it! He gave Ed the “shopping list” in May at the end of the season we’ve just had, and we have got two players, but Jose has said we need four! I would say we need at least four! I am not best pleased that Morata’s going to Chelsea, I thought we should have gone for him as well as Lukaku! We need all the strikers we can get after not scoring anywhere near enough goals last season, especially in the league!

So, some of the progress I have been making in recent days with both Dissolution and the Hendrik Groen book has been as part of a challenge to see how much I can get read while I wait for that useless Gnome to get his finger out of his arse and make some more signings! Dissolution is up to 75% read now! Serious progress, and I am really enjoying it, so I hope the other books in the Shardlake series are as good! Of course, when I finish Dissolution, Dark Fire will be next.

Charlotte's summer reading challenge 2017

My niece’s summer reading challenge – I’m sure she’ll complete this!

My sister posted that photo on my timeline on Facebook earlier. It’s Charlotte’s summer reading challenge from her primary school. As she takes after me on the bookworm front, I’m sure she will excel at this! The Junior Bookworm will be 7 this weekend – yes, I know! Time flies, doesn’t it?! Seven years since I became an auntie! I had been an “honourary auntie” to friends’ kids prior to 2010, but I became an actual auntie that summer, and I remember having to phone in to work and speak to my boss to get that day off – my niece was born at a silly time in the morning, and I hadn’t had much sleep when I woke up to phone work – thankfully my boss, Dawn, could tell I sounded utterly knackered, congratulated me on becoming an auntie, and gave the go ahead for my leave. I then went back to sleep, as you can imagine!

Actually, next month will be my 7th blogging anniversary! I have been doing this Joanne’s Bookshelf blog since August 2010. August will also mark my 10th anniversary on Facebook! I joined on either 9th or 10th August 2007, not quite sure which date, but I am sure FB will let me know next month with my “10th Faceversary” video, lol! One of my long-time FB friends, Robert Rush, recently celebrated his 10th FB anniversary, although I think it was probably around the September of 2007 when I became friends with him thanks to a group called A Cup of Tea Solves Everything!

Of the charity shop bargains lately, there have been a couple of chunky monkeys by Charles Dickens which have ended up chez moi – The Pickwick Papers set me back a mere 50p on Monday when I was in Salford, and Nicholas Nickleby wasn’t much more expensive when I acquired it in Eccles earlier today for 99p. You can get some of the classics really cheaply, I have noticed! I once got Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, for a mere 20p! It was when I was volunteering at The Mustard Tree in Eccles, I think. And that’s a real chunky monkey of a book! It weighs in at 785 pages in the edition I own! 785 pages of novel for a mere 20p?! A snip, as they used to say in the legendary pop magazine Smash Hits back in the day!

Well, I shall be at Waterstone’s tomorrow evening… the book event with Stuart Maconie has soon come around, hasn’t it?! Hence I will be meeting one of my favourite non-fiction authors. I think I will take either The Pie at Night or The People’s Songs with me just in case, but I intend to buy Long Road From Jarrow anyway, so I can certainly get him to sign that. I must remember that if there are any drinks, as there often are at these things, I can’t have any of the vino, unfortunately! I’ve got a dental infection and I’m on the “uncle-biotics”, lol, so no booze for me for a few days! Will have to stick to juice.

Talking of which, I must remember to have my third and final one for today, three a day for five days, so I shall get this blog finished and published, and then I can attend to my medication. I will be back again soon enough with another blog, lol! Hopefully a photo or two from the Stuart Maconie event! Until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Dark Fire – C. J Sansom
  • The Pickwick Papers – Charles Dickens
  • Nicholas Nickleby  – Charles Dickens
  • Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • The People’s Songs – Stuart Maconie
  • Long Road From Jarrow – Stuart Maconie

 

 

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Filed under Authors, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Junior Bookworms, Manc Stuff!, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, School, College & Uni Reading, The TBR Pile

OC Overhaul, Book Benches and an Emergency Book!

OC Overhaul July 2017

Bullet journal documenting my Ongoing Concerns overhaul…

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Yes, I have gone and done it! I have taken decisive action on the notorious Ongoing Concerns List, and trimmed it down! I decided it was unfair on certain books which were not being read, I hadn’t touched them for weeks, if not months, and I thought let’s just take them off the list, at least for now, and put them back on some time later if I CAN be arsed reading them instead of leaving them on there for decoration without them making any ounce of progress as far as Goodreads percentages are concerned.

Several YA books are therefore back in the TBR pile as partially-read books, with receipts or travel tickets in them as bookmarks so I know where I’m up to when I do decide to resume them at any time in the future. There are now two YA novels on the new OC list, those being Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews, and One Italian Summer, by Keris Stainton. She actually liked one of my posts on Instagram the other day! I am a frequent Bookstagrammer on there, most of my posts on Instagram are about books! There are some which aren’t, but I’m very much into the whole Bookstagram thing.

One non-fiction book has been returned to the TBR list, but Periodic Tales, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, and Neither Here Nor There, by Bill Bryson, remain on the OC List as our current representatives of factual reading matter! This coming week, on Thursday, I will be meeting one of my favourite non-fiction writers, Stuart Maconie, who is coming to Waterstone’s on Deansgate to promote his new book, Long Road From Jarrow, which will be published that day. That one will have to join the TBR pile though, as I’ve got two non-fictions on the list, and I said I was going to resume Manchester, England by Dave Haslam as my next non-fiction selection on the OC List once one of the current factual books has been read, and will be using my “and the bees still buzz” bookmark in it!

It’s all go on the book front in Manchester at the moment, and I shall return to the matter of Mancunian book-related events shortly, once I have covered the fiction section of my new trimmed-down OC List, lol!

OC Wipeboard July 2017

The OC Wipeboard – cleaned and tarted-up with the new list. The magnets have been on for a while, from Berlin, Chichen Itza, and Marrakech respectively. The blue thingy is a wipeboard eraser, and is magnetic. I might just plonk that on the top and put a few more magnets on, or sometimes change them around. I needed a new pen for it anyway, as the one it came with had gone funny. The board itself needed cleaning, too, but I sorted that out, so it looks pretty good now, and I have a few colours I can use on it. I’m sure non-permanent OHP pens would also work on it…

So, the fiction section… Obviously, this currently consists of Dissolution, by C. J. Sansom, the first book of his Shardlake series, and my current book club book, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old. I am now 12% through that so it has joined the list because I have read at least 10% of it. Thus the OC list is at six, with a nice balance of 2 fiction, 2 non-fiction and 2 young adult. If I find even that is too much and things are not being read, I will have to trim it down further, but it’s a lot better than it was!

Bookbench trail map

Bookbench Trail Map

I did promise you more book-related goings-on in Manchester, so this is what I was on about, the Bookbench Trail. A bit like when we had Cowparade in the noughties, but with sets of benches in the shape of books, decorated by various groups and schools, and dotted around Manchester, both in the city centre and out in various suburbs. This is on for 2 months from 10th July to 10th September, so it just started this Monday just gone.

The above photos are from some of the benches in the Arndale Centre in town. The crayons remind me of some of Charlotte’s books, actually, lol! I’m thinking about The Day the Crayons Quit, and The Day the Crayons Came Home, both by Drew Daywalt. If you haven’t read these books, you really should! They’re brilliant and very funny!

Anyway, one foolish thing I did yesterday was that I forgot to put any books in my handbag! Oops! I was going in to town for my volunteering, and also to give blood afterwards, although it turned out that my haemoglobin was low, so I couldn’t donate a pint of my O positive on this occasion. I realised in the morning, after leaving the house to get a bus to Eccles, that I had forgotten to bring any books with me. I was not best pleased, as you can imagine! Chief Bookworm had no Handbag Books! Oops!

Emergency Book July 2017

Emergency Book!

Bearing in mind I’d be volunteering in the morning, and that I’d be doing the sudoku in the newspapers while on the tram to town, I wasn’t so much bothered about not having a book for the outgoing journey, but I figured that, if I was going to be giving an armful to the vampires, I would need a book to pass the time during my donation, so just before I went to the donor centre, I nipped into Fopp, where they have a selection of cheap books as well as music and films, and picked up Life After Dark, by Dave Haslam, for £3 to take with me. Hence the bit in the title of this blog about the Emergency Book!

So, I took the Emergency Book with me to the donor centre, only for me to turn out to be a bit low on iron and unable to give blood! Oh well, never mind! The book is a history of British nightclubs and music venues, as you might expect from a DJ, and I read a little bit of it on the bus on the way home from town, although the rest of it will have to wait, at least until after I have finished with one of his other books, and that’s still not on the OC list yet, anyway!

Didn’t have a fellow bookworm on that bus, but the previous day, I had a fellow bookworm on the tram to Eccles when I was coming home from town. I was reading Dissolution, she was reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, which she said she was enjoying. I said it was on my TBR List. She said she’d read and enjoyed Dissolution! My copy of The Essex Serpent is in the pile of books, mostly hardbacks, known as my Bass Amp Book Tower!

Well, I shall now go and get myself a brew, and do some reading perhaps. My lads have their first game of the pre-season tour later, at what is silly o’clock for us here in the UK, but that’s not too much trouble as I can always watch it in bed and I am a night owl, so I will probably be awake for most of it anyway!

Wonder when the Gnome will get his finger out of his arse and get some more players off Jose’s shopping list?! I don’t think the manager is very chuffed at the extremely lethargic “speed” at which Gnome is progressing with this task, and we fans certainly aren’t! We need more players, and we need to be buying them, not letting other players go in exchange! Especially not strikers, as we don’t have enough as it is! No, Inter Milan, you cannot have Anthony Martial! We don’t have enough forwards! We might possibly have some spare defenders or something, if you need anyone in those positions at the back, but we need all the strikers we can get!

We have practically exchanged Rooney for Lukaku, so we have Lukaku, Martial and Rashford. That in itself is not enough strikers. We need at least one more, because we cannot bank on Zlatan returning. If he comes back mid season and manages to bang in the goals despite his age and despite having had a serious knee injury, that should be considered a bonus!

Anyway, that is about all from me for now, you’ll be relieved to learn, lol! So, until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • Long Road From Jarrow – Stuart Maconie
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen
  • The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt
  • The Day the Crayons Came Home – Drew Daywalt
  • Life After Dark – Dave Haslam
  • The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry

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Filed under Authors, Bass Amp Book Tower, Books, Bookstagram, Childrens' Books, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, Junior Bookworms, Manc Stuff!, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Travel, Uncategorized, YA Books

Dissolution and Distraction

Shardlake selfie 1

Shardlake Series Selfie: Already over 25% of Dissolution read…

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

You’ve had Pride and Prejudice, you’ve had Sense and Sensibility… now meet Dissolution and Distraction, lol! Well, in so far as I’m reading Dissolution, while hoping that United will provide the distraction by signing players! It nearly worked, too! There was some actual interest in the transfer window! However, Everton are denying that they accepted a bid for Romelu Lukaku, from ourselves, and part of me is hoping that it might be a ploy to worry Real Madrid and get the price of Alvaro Morata lowered!

Personally, I’d like both players at Old Trafford! Not just because, as one guy tweeted, you could fit both names (Lukaku, Morata) in a terrace chant to the tune of Hakuna Matata from The Lion King, lol, but because we bloody well need at least a couple of centre-forwards! We’ve already released the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and it looks very likely that Wayne Rooney will be heading back to Everton after 13 seasons at United and more trophies than you can shake a stick at! Maybe not the numbers of trophies won by Giggs and Scholes, but Rooney will be up there on the list amongst the well-decorated players, and he also holds the club goalscoring record, of course, having overtaken Sir Bobby Charlton’s 249 goals this season just gone. Wazza scored 253 goals for us, so that looks like it will be the new total to beat, and that will take some doing! It took 44 years for anyone to beat Sir Bobby’s record!

So, back to Dissolution, for a moment, and it seems my book challenge had an effect! It’s like the days when I couldn’t read while in a vehicle which was in motion, which was the case back in my student days at uni, and I could only get a book out and read on the bus if the driver had stopped for a 5 minute break. They seemed to sense that someone who couldn’t read while in motion was reading, and they took that as a signal to get their arses, and their buses, back in gear, and get moving again! In a footballing sense, my Shardlake Series challenge seems to have had that sort of effect on The Gnome! Perhaps Ed Woodward can sense that a bored and pissed-off Stretford Ender has got fed up of the lack of activity and decided to read a particularly chunky series of historical fiction novels?! Thus he thinks “Oh shit! I’d better get a move on and sign someone!”

Dissolution has joined the Handbag Books list, and the Ongoing Concerns list, and is currently at 27% read as I type, so I’ve already got through a quarter of the novel since I started it yesterday evening after my previous blog!

Not got band practice this coming Saturday, so a potential reading opportunity presents itself… Still need to decide what I’m doing regarding The Power. Going to get on with Dissolution as I’ve started the Shardlake series as a challenge to the Gnome (see above) and I’m enjoying it, plus I’ve regained interest in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, so I can make some progress with that, get that one read and off the OC List. Maybe even look at some of the other YA books on there and get some of those read… Finding Audrey hasn’t been read for ages.

Talking of books that haven’t been read for ages, you will probably know by now that I have many half-read books lying around, some of which eventually come back onto my radar and join the OC list. One such book could possibly be The Beach Hut, by Veronica Henry, which has been lying around near Computer Corner for ages! The only reason it has come back into my mind is because of a forthcoming event for which a beach hut has been hired for a day. It was something Mum mentioned to me, and it reminded me that I had a book called The Beach Hut!

While we’re on forthcoming events…

STUART MACONIE IS COMING TO WATERSTONE’S DEANSGATE!!!

Sorry! Please excuse my excitement, but I am going to an event on 20th July at the Waterstone’s branch in town as one of my favourite non-fiction authors has a new book out! Woo-hoo! I hope he might also sign some of my other books of his if I were to take them along, such as The Pie at Night, and The People’s Songs, which I read earlier this year! I think Pies and Prejudice is in the book chest in the garage. Read that one some years ago now.

The forthcoming book from Mr Maconie is Long Road From Jarrow, and it is an account of his retracing of the route 80 years on from when 200 men from the Tyneside town of Jarrow marched down to London in 1936 to protest against the destruction of their towns and industries.

https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1109317/long-road-from-jarrow/

I have included the link for any interested readers. The book is published on 20th July, which is actually the same night that I shall be seeing Mr Maconie launch this book at the Deansgate branch in town! He is one of my favourite non-fiction writers, along with Bill Bryson and also Nick Hornby‘s non-fiction stuff! Fever Pitch is on my list of all-time favourite books, so I couldn’t forget Hornby!

I was good, and didn’t buy any books today, but that’s not to say I didn’t spot some potential future reading material, including One Italian Summer, by Keris Stainton, which is a YA novel, and Around Britain By Cake: A Tour of Our Traditional Teatime Treats, by Caroline Taggart. Before you ask, yes, the latter of those DOES feature Eccles Cakes and contains a recipe for them! Sounds like the sort of book to read while enjoying a cuppa and a good big slice of cake! Actually, most books can be enjoyed with a cuppa and a cake. You might not want to eat if you were reading horror novels, they might become too gory and put you off your food, but as I don’t read horror, because I don’t want the living shit scared out of me, that’s not an issue in my bookworm life!

Anyway, it’s been warm again, and I’m not getting any cooler sitting at my laptop, so I shall get this published and then I can chill and return to my reading! Until the next helping of waffle, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • The People’s Songs – Stuart Maconie
  • Pies and Prejudice – Stuart Maconie
  • Long Road From Jarrow – Stuart Maconie
  • Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • Around Britain By Cake – Caroline Taggart

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Computer Corner, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, School, College & Uni Reading, Television, The TBR Pile

Scope For a Bargain!

Scope shop in Eccles

The Scope shop in Eccles

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to yet another blog entry, and the reason there is a photo of one of the many charity shops in Eccles, is because yours truly is now the proud owner of the complete Shardlake series by C. J. Sansom, due to the fact that she acquired Sovereign at this very shop (see photo) earlier today for the princely sum of 50p! Epic Win!

I had had an appointment in Eccles, so after that, and a bit of lunch at Greggs’, lol, I did the rounds of most of the charity shops in the precinct. Within the precinct, there are several of these. Mustard Tree, Salvation Army, Charities 2gether In Salford, British Red Cross, and British Heart Foundation. However, I had already done the rounds of the precinct on Monday, and when you’re after something specific, and it’s not there, you might be thinking it’s not your day, and it’s time to get the bus…

Shardlake Series complete. Now I just need to read them…

But then I remembered that there is ANOTHER charity shop in Eccles, but this one’s rather at the far end of the town, bit out on a limb compared to the others, and that is the Scope shop, so off I trundled to pay it a visit and browse the shelves for books… And there it was… Sovereign! The book I was after. Book 3 of the series, but the one which I still needed in order to complete the set. It’s one of those shops which offers 3 books for £1, but if you just want one book, it’s 50p. So, the grand sum of fifty pence was handed over at the counter, and I headed for the bus home a happy little bookworm!

The one matter where I am NOT happy is the current transfer window situation where Ed Woodward, aka the Gnome, is making about as much progress as an asthmatic ant with some particularly heavy shopping, to quote from Blackadder Goes Forth! Yes, we do have ONE player, a central defender, Victor Lindelof, but we really ought to have more by now, as United head off on their pre-season tour on Sunday!

Thus, I am so pissed-off with the lack of progress made by the Gnome thus far that I am actually siding with Jose, and you KNOW my feelings on him! We’re talking about a bloke I have disliked since 2004, the night Porto knocked us out of Europe, and never wanted as our manager, a guy whose ego blocks out the sun, lol, but in the past day or two I have started to look at photos of a particularly pissed-off Mourinho and think “Yeah, Jose, me too, chuck!”

I’m starting to wonder if I should start some big chunky book, or a book series, and see how far into it I am when the damn Gnome actually signs a player for Manchester United?! Maybe if I actually start Dissolution, the first book of the Shardlake series, we can track my progress compared to Woodward’s in the transfer market… see which page I’m on by the time any player jets over for a medical, and then which page I’m on when the guy actually puts pen to paper and officially become a MUFC player?!

And one of those players had better be Alvaro Morata, or there’ll be trouble, Gnome! Got that?! You make damn sure he joins us, and that you get a few others off Jose’s shopping list as well, you lazy little shit! You’ve had that bloody list since May, and you’ve signed ONE player so far! This is no time for you to be sitting on your arse watching the rugby, the Tour de France, Wimbledon, or any other sporting event… it’s time for you to get off your arse and sign some damn football players!!! Get on it like a bonnet, Woodward!

Right, back to books, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has now taken over at the top of the Ongoing Concerns list! I am now 57% of the way through the YA novel by Jesse Andrews, thus it moves marginally ahead of Periodic Tales, which is on 56% at present! I really need to watch “Withnail & I”, which is referenced in Me and Earl… I am pretty sure I recorded and kept it on my Sky+ box, so I shall have to have a shufty.

* returns from shufty *

RIP Barry Norman.

Yes, Withnail & I is on my Sky+ box. Getting round to watching films, though, is not my strong point. (I make about as much progress with getting around to watching films as the Gnome makes with getting round to signing players in the transfer market, lol!)

Its not that I dislike films, but it’s a feeling of needing to put aside a big chunk of time to watch one! The average film is, I reckon, around 2-3 hours long and, while I can pause it, if I am going to watch a film, I would rather do it all in one and not be interrupted by anything. The other thing is that films usually have to be funny or have good soundtracks, or preferably both, for them to appeal to me. I would be a useless film critic, lol! The late Barry Norman, who passed away last week at the age of 83, wouldn’t have needed to worry about competition from me for his job presenting the film programme on the Beeb, which Jonathan Ross took over in the late 90s. Always did like the “Film” theme music, though!

I have a week to go until my next book club meeting, next Wednesday, and I have read a little bit more of The Power, by Naomi Alderman, but I am still not at the 10% stage yet, and still not decided whether I wish to progress and try to get it finished… As it says on a badge which I once had as a profile picture on Facebook…

The trouble with reading books is that I get distracted. By other books.

I’m sure, as fellow bookworms, many of you have the same issue! I really fancy getting stuck into a series or a really big chunky monkey of a book! Something really substantial. Actually, as I said earlier in this blog, I could do that challenge… Me vs Ed Woodward… Shardlake vs the Gnome… How much of the series can I get through while waiting for that lazy tosser to sign some more players for Manchester United this summer?!

Shardlake vs The Gnome – let’s do this!

Still got a few incomplete series knocking around, and have now kinda added to that by acquiring a couple more books in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I had already snapped up Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief the other week, and have now added the second and third books, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, and Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse. The fourth book is Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth, but I don’t have a copy of that as yet.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now, that’s my book news up to date as far as I can tell, so I am off to have a good read and hope that the Gnome gets off his arse and actually signs someone! Usually, I would hate to be distracted while reading, but I would happily allow it if it meant that my club had a new signing, or at least a player coming over for a medical! That would be an improvement on the current situation where there is bugger all happening! So, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Sovereign – C. J. Sansom
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
  • Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters – Rick Riordan
  • Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse – Rick Riordan
  • Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth – Rick Riordan

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Filed under Authors, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Football, Historical Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Sports, YA Books

You’re a Wizard, Harry!

Harry Potter series

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Yep! 20 years ago today, back on 26th June 1997, readers were first able to see that opening line in print as the first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published! Further books had come out by the time I was actually introduced to the series a few years later, some time around 1999 or 2000, by one of my colleagues at Manchester DBC. I shall admit now that, at first, I had thought they were for kids, but as it was a fellow adult who recommended them to me one day at work, I decided to give them a go and thus I became a Potterhead! I was on holiday (vacation) in Las Vegas in the summer of 2007 when the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published, and went to a party at Borders in a shopping mall near the Strip!

I have also read two of the mini books which were published originally to help Comic Relief – Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, and Quidditch Through the Ages. I need to read Tales of Beedle the Bard, which was brought out after Deathly Hallows, as that was a book which was in Dumbledore’s will. Personally, I still think there is more mileage from some of the other books which are mentioned within the Harry Potter series, some of the other set texts which are on the reading lists of witches and wizards at Hogwarts would make good books. Particularly Hogwarts, A History. Hermione quotes from it in Philosopher’s Stone, showing how much swotting up she’d been doing since she got her Hogwarts letter, and I think it’d be a good accompaniment to the main series and give a good back story to the founding of the wizarding school. So, if there’s any way of passing on that suggestion to J. K. Rowling, that’d be great…

Right, on to other stuff now, and I still need to start on The Power, by Naomi Alderman. It’s our book club book, so I’d better get a move on, really! At least enough to see if I like it. As I’m back in Salford again tomorrow morning for another appointment, I guess I could always pop it in my bag as a Handbag Book and take it along with me.

Need to do an assessment of the OC List, too, and continue with Periodic Tales and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Those are the top two on my list at present, but still some way to go in both of them before I finish them.

Picked up Revelation, by C. J. Sansom this afternoon at the British Heart Foundation shop in Salford, so that’s another of the Shardlake series acquired. The fourth in the series, as I recall. Still numbers 3 and 6 to go, but as I said previously, not in a major rush at the moment, so there’s time yet! Charity shops are so good for bargain books. For my readers across the Atlantic, I understand such shops are known as thrift stores in the USA, and that there are bargains to be had in those, too!

As you no doubt know, I’m on Facebook, have been for almost ten years now – joined in August 2007, so not far away from my Farcebook Anniversary, lol, and as you can imagine, I go on a lot of groups and pages for bookworms! I even run a book-related group, as some of you regular blog readers will know! Anyway, on one of these many groups or pages of a literary nature, there was a quote, which I think was from Margaret Atwood…

The book to read is the book which makes you think.

To an extent, yes, but that kind of assumes that you’re quite a reader already and up for the challenge of some reading material which will make you sit up and take notice! Therefore, I would say that there’s a piece of advice which should precede Atwood’s…

The book to read is the book which makes you want to read!

First things first, Ms Atwood! Get people reading in the first place! Get more people reading more books! The way to do that is not to get all picky about what those people are reading! There is no room for book snobbishness! The last thing we want to be doing is to put people off reading.

It doesn’t matter if what people read is lightweight and fluffy! Chick lit, holiday romances, cosy crime fiction… People need to find things they enjoy reading, the books which make them want to read other books…

Further down the line, there MIGHT be scope for assessing what people are actually reading and maybe trying to encourage them to get out of their so-called “comfort zone”, but I’m not one to advise risking that! After all, who bloody cares if someone just reads holiday romances, or cosy crime novels?! Reading SHOULD be fun! It should be seen as something people can enjoy purely for entertainment, NOT just as something you have to do at school, college or uni!

Also, we may well be dealing with grown-ups who were put off reading when they were at school! They might have had books foisted upon them as class readers, books which were not their cup of tea, and that may have put them off books! Having to write essays about those books, having to sit exams and write about those books in some boring school hall for 2 to 3 hours, such events may well have put a lot of people off reading when they were at school!

You really need to have been a bookworm from an early age to be able to withstand the occasional set text you don’t enjoy! I was, so I have remained a bookworm throughout my life despite the occasional tedious “class reader” book, and despite having to over-analyse various books at school, college and uni – don’t forget I had to experience French Literature when I was at college and doing my bastard A-Levels! How many bloody variations on the past tense does a language actually NEED?! It sure as hell doesn’t need a version of the past tense which is only actually used in literature! Yes, past historic, I am looking at you!

So, the book to read is the book which makes you love reading and want to read more books! Let the “fluffy” readers read their “fluffy” books. They might eventually try something a bit deeper. They might not. Not everyone’s going to be on the same intellectual level, and that’s fine. There are books out there for everyone. The trick is not to be so bloody high-handed about it! Stop being so prescriptive! We’ve got light readers, non-readers and reluctant readers to try to help… we can’t afford any form of literary snobbery.

It’s shouldn’t be “You must read this!”

It should be “What sort of things do you enjoy? Which television programmes? Which films? What music do you like? Do you follow any sports? Which team do you support? What are your hobbies?” – from those questions, we might be able to figure out the sort of books people might enjoy! Perhaps they might enjoy autobiographies by various celebrities? I enjoy autobiographies, particularly by musicians and sports stars. Can’t wait to get stuck into Not Dead Yet, by Phil Collins!

In short, these people need some bibliotherapy! They need a “book prescription” which suits their interests, reading suggestions which might get them reading on a more regular basis and help them find their genre(s). Just like with regular medicine, what you or I might take for our various conditions would not necessarily be right for another patient, so that’s why I warn against foisting your own likes on a light or non-reader! If we bookworms are to serve as “book doctors” or “book coaches”, the patient’s tastes in other matters will help guide us as to what we recommend for them. Getting hold of a copy of The Novel Cure, by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, may also help, as might Book Lust, by Nancy Pearl – the subtitle of which is “recommended reading for every mood, moment, and reason.”

Have a trawl through the archives of this blog of mine! My book mentions are many and varied! I am a very random bookworm, lol! I do a recap at the end of each blog, listing the books I mentioned in it, so you might get some ideas from those, and don’t be put off even if I didn’t like that book. You might enjoy it! You might even enjoy that one I read a couple of years ago and thought of as just a pity party in writing, lol! Some time around this time of year two years ago, so May or June 2015, if you want to look it up!

Anyway, I’m off to see where my Hogwarts letter’s at, lol! Where’s an owl when you want one, eh?! Until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J. K. Rowling
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them – J. K. Rowling
  • Quidditch Through the Ages – J. K. Rowling
  • Tales of Beedle the Bard – J. K. Rowling
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Revelation – C. J. Sansom
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • The Novel Cure – Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin
  • Book Lust – Nancy Pearl

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Filed under Authors, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Literary Issues, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, School, College & Uni Reading, The TBR Pile, YA Books

This Book Will Change Your… Er, No It Won’t!

Row of Penguin Books

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman is now back in my handbag, ready for tomorrow’s book club meeting. Hopefully we will choose something else I will enjoy. So, no horror and no dystopia, please. No current affairs, either! I read to escape from that crap!

As well as a few other issues, I want to open up to fellow bookworms and ask if there is anyone else out there who has the same issue as me… This issue is with books which other people claim “will change your life”. I just don’t think any of them have!

I love books. I have loved books all my life. My parents read to me when I was a baby and I soon learned to read for myself. I was reading before I started school, and was thus already a bookworm by the time I started in the reception class at Monton Green Primary School in the September of 1977, 40 years ago this coming autumn! But, as an adult, I have come across several books in my general awareness of all things literary which certain people will claim are life-changers.

I have read a few of these, but I don’t feel my life has been changed!

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying I’ve not enjoyed them. There have been a few I have enjoyed, such as The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, and Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, but these books have had no significant effect on my life other than to be able to say “yes, I’ve read that one” and to be able to tick it off on book lists when I go on List Challenges, lol! That’s hardly what you call life-changing, though, is it? I am that little bit more well-read than I was prior to having read that particular book, but that’s all I can honestly declare!

I’ve not changed my diet, not taken up any unusual pastimes, not changed career, and I’ve not upped sticks and buggered off around the world and off the beaten track! Isn’t that what those books are supposed to cause people to do?! Give all your possessions away and live up a tree in some remote village?! Go and climb a mountain or something?! Hell, I’ve never even climbed one of those rock walls, let alone a bloody mountain, and with my dismal track record on physical activity, it’d be a cold day in Hell before that is likely to change! In fact, Hell would have frozen over and hosted the Winter Olympics if you ever see me at the summit of a mountain, lol!

(My niece has climbed one of those rock walls, though, at some place in town!)

Have any books changed my views? Er, no. Or, if so, only slightly. The Dirtiest Race in History, by Richard Moore, did shift the focus of my disgust more towards the athletics coaches and doctors rather than the athletes themselves, but I still maintain that those athletes, the likes of Ben Johnson, were grown men, thus they could and should have stood up to their coaches and insisted on remaining clean! Not as though they were kids, like the East German swimmers, whose coaches were tricking them into cheating, taking advantage of their age, inexperience, and the fact that no-one from that particular country would want to miss out on a privilege that very few others from the DDR got to enjoy!

I’m not including so-called “self-help” books in this, though. I’ve already been over that issue before now, if I recall rightly. I have already said I find such things pretty patronising and unrealistic. They certainly don’t help me, and bear no resemblance to real life. I swear the people who write those things are living in cloud-cuckoo land where everything’s perfect and no-one has anything wrong with them which can’t be overcome! Whereas real life is full of shit, far from perfect, and the fact is that not every obstacle can be overcome!

If something sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is!

That whole law of attraction rubbish has got to be one of the biggest cons in recent years, and stuff like The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, should be sent for recycling so it can actually be turned into something more practical or realistic to read! It’s just designed to prey on gullible people, con them into getting their hopes up, and then that just sets them up for disappointment! It’s no better than our so-called “news” papers whose sports “journalists” write a load of shite on the back pages to get fans’ hopes up about top players joining their clubs in the transfer windows!

Fortunately, things have calmed down on that front, maybe even the journalists have now realised that a certain Portuguese striker I could mention is perfectly happy at the club he’s always supported since he was a boy, and that he will NOT be returning to one of his previous clubs, but there were several seasons when I used to despair because those “journalists” were conning a load of less-intelligent “fans” to believe that a certain Mr C. Ronaldo would be returning to Old Trafford, the biggest pile of bovine excrement being the tall story in which Nike and Chevrolet were supposedly getting together to bring him back! What an absolute load of drivel!

One transfer which DOES look set to happen is the arrival of Swedish centre-back, Victor Lindelof, from Benfica, as United confirmed the other night that a fee had been agreed for the player. Of course, he needs to come over and have a medical, which I think is going to happen tomorrow after he’s been on international duty these past few days, and then agree terms and conditions. Then we should see an official unveiling of a new player.

Anyway, back to books and the matter of none of them having changed my life despite the claims of others. By others, I mean both the reviews on the covers of books, plus word of mouth mentions from people I know, or even recommendations on social media… “Oh, you should read [insert book title] – it’ll change your life!” – yeah, right! Maybe I’m just too cynical to fall for that.  Perhaps too well-educated to go along with certain daft ideas, especially if they sound particularly impractical or unrealistic!

Also, maybe part of it is my rebellion against the idea of “must reads” anyway! As far as I’m concerned I don’t HAVE to read anything! There are no specific books I NEED to read! Not since I graduated from university, anyway, and that was way back in 1994! I’ve done the school, college and uni thing, I’ve been there, done that, read the books, and worn the cap and gown at my graduation in Bolton in October 1994!

So, I’ve not had a set reading list for 23 years now! I’ve written the essays, sat the exams, underlined stuff, made shitloads of notes in my arch lever file, analysed certain passages of certain books to death… I did that when I had to, but I’ve not needed to do that for over two decades now! I read what I want, when I want, because I want! It’s all about reading for fun, for enjoyment, with books as a form of entertainment! Even with the non-fiction, where I am still learning and discovering stuff, this is out of choice, I am reading these books because I want to know more about certain subjects which I find interesting!

If any book or books DID change my life, they would have been ones I read as a little girl, the books which made me fall in love with reading and want to spend my life being a bookworm! Thus, I’m more likely to have had my life altered by The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, than by anything I’ve read as a grown bookworm! That book was fun, enjoyable to read, and that’s the lesson that book imparted on me… Books are fun! Reading is a great way to spend your time, and you’ll be able to entertain yourself for hours on end!

I will still appreciate book recommendations, as long as they’re for the sort of books I want to read. No horror ones, please, and I’m not much of a crime or thriller reader, either, but general book recommendations are welcome. Just don’t make any grandiose claims about life-changing properties of whatever you’re recommending to me! I may well take you up on some of your recommendations, I might enjoy some of these books, as I have done in the past, but don’t bother with the “life-changing” stuff – that side of it probably won’t happen for me!

I think that’s about it for now. I just had to get that out. There may also be a forthcoming blog about other things which just don’t happen to me even though they seem to happen to other bookworms, but for now, I think we’ve covered the issue of life-changing books which haven’t changed my life, lol, so until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
  • Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Dirtiest Race in History – Richard Moore
  • The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Literary Issues, Non-Fiction, Olympic Games, Rants, Travel