Category Archives: Autobiography/Biography

Trophies, OCs, and Book Club Emergencies

Me and Mum with EFL and UEFA Cups 2017

Me and my mum at Old Trafford with the EFL Cup and Europa League trophy

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Yes, I’ve been to have my photo taken with the silverware we won last season! Had to be done! Obviously, the Community Shield has already gone back, Arsenal having won that last weekend, beating Chelsea on penalties in the traditional “curtain-raiser” to the new season. That has got under way now, with a very entertaining game to kick off the 2017-18 season, Arsenal beating Leicester City 4-3. United are at home to West Ham United on Sunday afternoon, so I shall be back at Old Trafford, in the Stretford End, and hoping for a home win and an actual proper challenge for the title this season for the first time since Fergie retired!

Still awaiting the start date for my job, hopefully I might hear something this coming week. I guess they are getting in touch with the references I provided.

Periodic Tales is now up to 82% having read a bit more of it earlier. We’re getting there, lol! It’s a very interesting book, and I am enjoying it, but it’s not one I feel I can read quickly. I have to take my time with it, and I sometimes need to look things up. Actually, what I was looking up was about sea squirts, as I had never heard of them before!

Dark Fire is up to 8%, but still not quite really enough to get it on the OC List officially as yet. However, I am unofficially adding it, and I have got 7 books on there at the moment. 2 fiction, 3 non-fiction, 2 young adult. The reason that I’ve got three non-fictions is because one of them is the book club book, and thus a “wild card” of sorts. As discussed in recent blogs, that book is The Angry Chef, by Anthony Warner, and I have got that one up to 10%. I have chosen Dead Ends, by Erin Lange, for my newest young adult addition to the OC List, a book I bought on Wednesday night, along with The Angry Chef, and My Turn, by Johan Cruyff.

Currently, the OC List looks like this…

  1. Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams. 82%
  2. Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson. 50%
  3. The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry. 35%
  4. A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard. 16%
  5. Dead Ends – Erin Lange. 11%
  6. The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner. 10%
  7. Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom. 8%

Priorities are to get Periodic Tales off the list, it’s been an Ongoing Concern for quite some time, lol! Also, to continue with The Angry Chef, and to get going with Dark Fire.

Very disappointingly, there were only two of us at book club on Wednesday night, consequently it was a bit pants!

Sorry, but you really do need a few of you there for it to be a good book club! It’s not all that much fun when there’s only the two of you, and the other is one of the least-forthcoming members! OK, in one way it was handy, as Anne was quite happy to go along with my choice of The Angry Chef for our next meeting, and to agree on the date, which will be 6th September, but sometimes I get the feeling she thinks I’m in charge of the club and that I know more than I do! I don’t! I might be a long-serving member of that book club, I’ve been in it since October 2008, after all, so 9 years this coming autumn, but I’ve not been the one to send emails round or anything like that! I have had to do the communications after this meeting, but that’s because there were only the two of us!

Anyway, I messaged Waterstone’s Deansgate on Facebook after the meeting to let them know the situation, and they forwarded the message on to Emma, who has now sent out an email. I have forwarded the email to Anne, and also replied to Emma to ask her to add Anne’s email address to the contacts list, as she has only joined in recent times. Emma’s a manager now and pretty busy, so it’s unlikely she can attend much, if at all, but she’s still happy for us to meet up there and to recommend any book ideas to us for book club reads.

I’ve also been having a problem in that my email was returned with an error message. I think I may have written Anne’s email address down incorrectly. Trouble is, as I’ve said, she’s pretty quiet volume-wise, and she does also have a bit of an accent, so I actually find it a bit hard to hear what she’s saying. All the more problematic, then, that she seems to lean on me so much. I really wish she wouldn’t. Particularly as, while I was trying to type a private message to Waterstone’s Deansgate on my iPad, therefore trying to do my best in the circumstances, and she’s there wittering on, fussing, and basically doing my head in!

Apologies for the rant, and I don’t wish to sound harsh, but she really annoyed me! I dearly wanted her to shut the hell up! Firstly, so I could concentrate on what I was typing, and also because there was no point anyone talking to me while I was trying to concentrate, because I wouldn’t really hear a word of it properly! There’s only the two of us, and if those two had been me and one of the others, I think we could have handled things evenly and fairly between us, but no chance given who the only other person was besides yours truly! So, she’s leaning on me, expecting me to do bloody everything, when I’ve never even taken full charge of a book club meeting before, but while I am ACTUALLY TRYING TO DO JUST THAT, she is bloody wittering on pointlessly, fussing, and just basically pissing me right off!

If anyone has any tips on how I can get someone to stop leaning on me and leave me alone, without being horrible to them, that advice would be much appreciated! How do I shake someone off?! I don’t want to be horrible, as I said, but I need her to get the hint and thus leave me alone. I feel I’m the last person she should be coming to, for her own good she needs to ask someone else. Especially as I feel I don’t hear her properly. I’m not deaf by any means, but perhaps I do need my hearing tested? Anyway, the fact is that I find her very difficult to hear for whatever reason, but perhaps someone else in the book club hears her perfectly and would be a much better person for her to ask?!

For the common good of the pair of us, I need a bit of help! What can I do to convince her to go to someone else?! How do I let her down gently and let her know I’m not the right person for her inquiries?!

Right, enough about book club stress, and back to other book-related matters… Picked up a few charity shop bargains in Eccles earlier, including The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, for a mere 10p from the Mustard Tree shop, which is where I used to volunteer a few years ago! Wyndham, of course, is perhaps best known for The Day of the Triffids, the BBC TV adaptation of which, when I was a kid, scared the crap out of me, lol! I did enjoy Chocky, though, when I was a bit older, and that was adapted for a series on Children’s ITV, and I read the book because of that series.

The other bargain purchases were Foundation, and Foundation & Empire, both by Isaac Asimov, both 70p each, and Possession, by A. S. Byatt, at a mere 20p. However, there is supposed to be Prelude to Foundation, which goes before the two Asimov books I acquired.

Actually, Prelude is a prequel, so I guess it might be possible to just read those two, then find a copy of Second Foundation, to complete the trilogy if I enjoy it enough to do so. Anyway, if I ever do get around to trying these books, they certainly would make good Handbag Books! For now, though, I shall get this finished and published so you can have a good read! Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom
  • The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner
  • Dead Ends – Erin Lange
  • My Turn – Johan Cruyff
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
  • Chocky – John Wyndham
  • Prelude To Foundation – Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation – Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation & Empire – Isaac Asimov
  • Second Foundation – Isaac Asimov
  • Possession – A. S. Byatt

 

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Bookstagram, Charity Shop Bargains, Childrens' Books, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Handbag Books, My Bookworm History, Ongoing Concerns, Rants, Television, YA Books

Beach Huts, Angry Chefs, and Bargain Books!

Coffee cake and books August 2017

Coffee, cream cake, and bargain books…

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to another blog entry as August is  upon us which means I’ve been blogging for seven years now! As I think I mentioned recently, I started this blog in August 2010, shortly after I had become an auntie! The other anniversary which will be coming up very soon, this coming week in fact, will be my 10th anniversary of joining Facebook!

Not that I use it much now, but I joined Twitter in early 2009, and I think I joined Instagram some time in either 2011 or 2012. I was certainly still working in Chorlton when I first joined Instagram, so it was definitely before the summer of 2012. I post photos of various things on there, but a lot of them are book-related, I am a regular Bookstagrammer, so if any of you wish to follow me, you can do so. I’m joannedj1973 on Instagram.

Before we go any further, congratulations to Sir Mo Farah, 10k World Champion 2017!

* does celebratory Mobot *

He seemed to do it the hard way, though. Mind you, I’m more than used to seeing United do that, lol! We still need another player, a fourth signing, before the transfer window closes on 31st August, so perhaps it’s time to do some more Gnome vs Book challenges to encourage Mr Woodward to get his arse in gear once again?!

I finished the beach hut bookmark on 2nd August, but the above two photos are from when I was in the process of stitching it. I got ideas from a mixture of charts and motifs. Did consider putting something between the writing and the waves, perhaps a small shell or a crab, or something, but decided not to in the end. I was particularly pleased with the waves. I adapted them from part of a design I found. The row of waves on the chart was slightly longer than what I needed, but I could fit 3 on my design, and they make a nice border at the bottom!

The hut itself was improvised, adding the life ring and panels in the door, plus seagulls above the hut. I chose my own colour scheme, too. Usually, when I “hit the hut”, I am off for a pizza, lol, but I had actually been to a beach hut, hence the theme of the bookmark and my decision to resume Veronica Henry‘s novel.

Hit the Hut 3

This photo featuring the finished bookmark and the corresponding novel, The Beach Hut, in which I am now using the bookmark, was put on Instagram, and has been liked by the author herself, Veronica Henry even commenting to say she liked the bookmark! Yay! I have also had likes and responses on Instagram from Keris Stainton, author of One Italian Summer, which I read and enjoyed recently. Authors liking my Bookstagram posts! Woo-hoo! Our Ellie has put in a request for The Beach Hut when I’ve finished reading it, although she’s still reading I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović at the moment. My mum has recently finished reading Red, Gary Neville‘s autobiography, which she had been borrowing from me, and had read outdoors in our garden during some recent nice weather!

The Beach Hut has now been resumed, with a current slight increase to 35%. I have started A Quiet Kind of Thunder, by Sara Barnard, which is at 16%, and has thus been added to the Ongoing Concerns list. I have also started Dark Fire, the second book in the Shardlake series by C. J. Sansom, but as I’ve yet to reach the 10% stage on that one, it will have to wait a little longer to join the list. It will be our book club meeting this coming Wednesday, 9th August, so if I like what we end up reading, that could become a temporary 7th OC, but this list is not going to get out of hand like it used to do.

I also have to remember not to neglect existing OCs. I still need to make progress with Periodic Tales, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Neither Here Nor There! I feel there is a particular need to get on with Me and Earl. Perhaps a major YA session is called for, with me focussing on the Jesse Andrews novel, along with making more progress with A Quiet Kind of Thunder.

With Book Club looming, I managed not to buy anything from Waterstone’s earlier, but I certainly made notes for future purchases! 5 YA novels and one non-fiction book caught my eye, the factual book being The Angry Chef, by Anthony Warner, which is about how so much “information” about foods and diets on the internet is a load of male bovine excrement! Some of the things which online quacks claim are good for us are either harmful or, at best, not doing us anywhere near as much good as their supporters make out! There is a review on the front of the book from Jay Rayner, whose book, The Ten (Food) Commandments, I read towards the end of last year when I could only manage non-fiction books after my epic Book Hangover which I suffered once I’d finished A Little Life! I might see if the rest of the book club can be convinced to give The Angry Chef a go – I’m pretty sure it’s been a while since we did some non-fiction.

I still intend to get around to resuming Manchester, England, by Dave Haslam, though. It is definitely on the agenda once a non-fiction book comes off the OC List! That has not changed.

Charity shop bargains August 2017

However, just because I didn’t buy anything at Waterstone’s does NOT mean I did not purchase any reading matter! On the contrary, I picked up these two bargains for 20p each from the bargain basket of the Salvation Army charity shop in Eccles! At only 20p, I thought I’d give The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, by Joël Dicker, a chance to join my TBR list at the very least, lol! The other book, Cross My Heart & Hope To Spy, by Ally Carter, is the second in the Gallagher Girls series about the spy school, so I was particularly chuffed to pick that one up for only 20p! Epic Win!

Well, I am off to attend to my reading matter, so that’s about all for now! Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović – Zlatan Ibrahimović
  • Red – Gary Neville
  • A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner
  • The Ten (Food) Commandments – Jay Rayner
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – Joël Dicker
  • Cross My Heart & Hope To Spy – Ally Carter

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Bookstagram, British Weather, Charity Shop Bargains, Cross-Stitch, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Historical Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Sports, The TBR Pile, YA Books

The Not-So-Secret Blog of a Borassic Bookworm, Aged 44 1/4!

Hendrik Groen

And here’s one I bought earlier…

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Epic Win at book club earlier! I have actually managed to persuade those present at book club to opt for a book of which I already own a copy! Yay! The paperback edition of The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old, is out, and available on a buy one get one half price deal at Waterstone’s. I’ve had the hardback for a while now, it’s been on my TBR pile, so I thought I’d put a copy of the paperback on the table and suggest it for our next book, my other choice being Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, which was a hardback, but on offer at half price, and it looked interesting, so I presented those choices.

There were only four of us there tonight, and the others didn’t have any book suggestions. They liked both of mine, but we went with the Dutch pensioner, rather than the office worker. I might eventually get that other book. In fact, I probably will, knowing me, at some point or other… It will end up in here, in hardback or paperback, and on my notorious TBR list! Trying to be good and resist the Call of the Book at the moment, but these items of reading matter will end up here sooner or later, no doubt!

Whether I will ever get around to reading them, though, is entirely another matter! I already have a TBR pile which would take years to read through even if I had all the time in the world for the rest of my life! In fact, I still wouldn’t get around to reading all of the books I own! Crafters tend to know this as SABLE – Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy, and the same can be said for bookworms and their book collections!

Onto the other books now, and some slight inaccuracies in the previous blog. Dissolution is on for 61% as far as Goodreads is concerned, and the entire Shardlake series would involve reading 3,626 pages of plot over the course of the 6 books. Anyway, Dissolution is now at the top of the OC List, having overtaken Me and Earl and the Dying Girl slightly. That’s on for 57% and Periodic Tales is on 56%, so it’s quite close at the top at the moment. What I could do with is a new wipe board, or at least a new marker pen for it. I will have to see if they have any more at The Range. I was on my work placement when I bought that one and I was often put on the arts & crafts and stationery section, so I got to see those magnetic wipe boards frequently and just had to buy one!

One Italian Summer has also shot up on the list, past the other YA novels apart from Me and Earl. If I can get both of those polished off, I can make a start on A Quiet Kind of Thunder, and maybe also sort out some of the other Young Adult books on the OC List. Maybe return to The Upside of Unrequited. After all, I’d still like to find out how mermaids pee, lol!

Might take some books off the OC list, return them to the general TBR pile as half-read books, and resume them some other time. I have clearly lost interest, progress has not been made for ages, so I can drop them off the list, they are hardly ongoing concerns when I’ve not really been arsed with them for ages, and we can have a very trimmed-down OC List. It doesn’t mean they’re doomed, though. After all, I resumed Jamrach’s Menagerie after several years of not being read, and the same goes for Pet Shop Boys, Literally!

From part-read books on to other literary issues now…

Recently, I blogged about how books which are said to change your life never seem to have that effect on me. See my June 2017 archive for that particular blog if you wish to revisit the issue. One of the other issues with literature, which has been raised on the book groups and pages of Facebook lately, is the matter of books which cause you to cry. I’m not talking about quiet crying or the shedding of a few tears, though. I’m talking about “ugly sobbing” over a book. Again, something which I don’t ever recall doing!

In all my years as a bookworm, which is most of my life as I was reading before I started school, I don’t think I have ever ugly cried over a book. Certainly, books have made me emotional. I have wanted to slap certain characters (hence I have a Literary Slap List), I’ve wanted to punch some of them, such as those who abused Jude in A Little Life, and I’ve wanted to transfigure Dolores Umbridge into something to suit what a nasty bitch she is! Actually, I’ve wanted to send her to Azkaban and let the Dementors sort her out! Don’t bloody start me on that awful woman! As a Potterhead, I dislike Umbridge so much that I even prefer Lord Voldemort to her! At least you know where you stand with Voldy! He’s always evil. He never pretends to be nice!

So, I have wanted to slap, punch, hug, and send some characters behind bars! I have also leaked some tears, there have been occasional waterworks, but only quiet ones! No ugly, messy sobbing here! No “it’s a good job I don’t wear mascara” moments! The ugly crying doesn’t happen for me any more than the “life-changing” books happen for me! I do bear in mind other peoples’ warnings, I do have tissues handy. However, so far, nothing has made me blub that much while reading a book that I’ve actually needed them. I think the closest I’ve come, and even that was just quiet tears, was when I was reading This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, by Tadeusz Borowski, a collection of short stories which I read some years ago thanks to a recommendation by David Hunt on Facebook.

I don’t know why this is the case. I don’t know why I don’t ugly cry any more than I know why life-changing books don’t change my life, lol, but there it is! I’ve been a bookworm for over 40 years, which is almost all my life given that I’m 44, lol, but books don’t change my life and they don’t make me ugly sob either! I love books. I find them moving at times, informative and educational at other times, but I guess I just don’t have those extreme reactions which make me bawl my eyes out or experience something life-changing after reading a certain book!

I think that’s probably about all for now, which is more than enough, lol, so until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
  • The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli
  • Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen – Tadeusz Borowski

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Facebook & Other Social Media, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Ongoing Concerns, The TBR Pile, 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

A Red Letter Day

Pet Shop Boys Blackpool 21st June 2017

View from the front row! Pet Shop Boys at the Empress Ballroom, Blackpool

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

I’m in the middle of a pretty busy time right now, so things may be short, this blog might be one of them, or it might be typed over a number of days, and despite the fact that Neil & Chris opined that there are “a lot of opportunities”, the actual likelihood that I will get around to having anything resembling a good read is pretty remote! I have two family birthdays, a concert with my brass band, and my nephew’s baptism over the course of the next few days! Busy weekend!

The busy period actually started on Wednesday, as that’s when I met up with Sarah in Preston and we then went to Blackpool for the evening! The weather was hot, as it has been in recent days, but it was spitting at times, so our plan to have our KFC as a takeaway and eat our bargain bucket on the beach had to go by the wayside – we had to eat in and have our chicken indoors instead! Never mind! Seagulls probably would have tried to nick our fries anyway, if we’d attempted that, lol!

The main bit, once we’d stuffed ourselves silly with chicken, lol, was to head to the Winter Gardens for the gig. The thing is, there is more than one venue within the Winter Gardens, and the previous time I had seen the Pet Shop Boys in Blackpool, on the Performance Tour back in 1991, the first time I ever saw them in concert, the gig was at the Opera House, and thus we were seated. This time, however, we were in the Empress Ballroom, and were standing. Sarah and I are not the tallest of people, roughly around the same height of 5 foot 1 or thereabouts, but other fellow fans were letting us go in front of them, so we didn’t have too bad a view…

Part-way through the gig, during The Sodom And Gomorrah Show, one very kind bloke spots the pair of us and leads us right to the front for the rest of the show, including the next number which was It’s A Sin! So, we’re right at the front for the remainder of the concert, which was quite a few songs, and also being brought cups of water by Winter Gardens staff – let’s not forget it was an absolutely boiling day! So, we got some hydration and an unimpeded view of Neil and Chris! Absolutely brilliant gig in Mr Lowe’s home town!

Whoever you were, who led Sarah and I to the front, thank you SO much!

Phil Collins Not Dead Yet

As mentioned earlier this year: Borrowing this one from my friend!

Anyway, I guess I’d better mention some books, hadn’t I? If we go back to the previous occasion Sarah and I met up, that was back in February this year when we saw Neil and Chris at the Manchester Arena, and I had been reading Gary Kemp‘s autobiography, I Know This Much, and finished it in time to give it back to Sarah, along with Faster Than Lightning, by Usain Bolt, which she’d also lent me. At that time, in at least one of my February blogs, I mentioned that she was going to lend me Phil Collins‘ autobiography, Not Dead Yet. She hadn’t finished it at the time, I think, but I can now update you all with the information that she has now lent me that particular book!

David Walliams books

An impressive stack!

I also got to see a huge stack of David Walliams books, as her son, James, is a big fan of his stories. Indeed, we bought him at least one of those books, Ratburger, for Christmas a year or two ago now! He even has duplicate books – two copies of The Boy In the Dress, as they have two different covers – I’ve had that issue with some of my books, as has been well documented in these blogs, lol! The only David Walliams book which James has not yet got is the latest one, The World’s Worst Children 2, but I think he will be buying himself that with his birthday money, as he turned 12 the other week.

Anyway, from children’s books, and books lent by friends, to my current book situation. I need to start on The Power, not even started it yet. I had plans to reduce my OC list still further, and have only 6 books on it instead of 9, but I doubt that’s going to happen! I still feel that some of the books on my OC list have been forgotten about. A lot of them need resuming, I’ve not even read a page of some of them for ages! That’s why I thought getting the OC list down even further would be a good idea, but I don’t think it’s going to happen for a while yet. Might be best to stick with 9 books for the time being.

Certainly not right now. I’ve only finished off one book this month, that being Pet Shop Boys, Literally, by Chris Heath. However, as I have reached my 30 book target on Goodreads, the Chris Heath book and any others I read this year are above and beyond my target figure, but other books might have to wait until we get into July! Or at least until this weekend is over! Maybe get some of the YA stuff off the list, it will probably be the quickest to read and finish off once I resume it, as opposed to some of the non-fiction stuff which takes a bit longer. I enjoy non-fiction, of course, but it’s a more detailed read than a lot of fiction, and I progress at a slower rate, particularly with stuff such as Periodic Tales.

Friday, 23rd June, 2017, 20:54h.

Back again! Returning to the blog, if only to finish it off while watching Glastonbury. Well, alright, listening to Glasto, ’cause I’m at Computer Corner right now so I have my back to my telly. This is clearly a very music-minded blog with a few books mentioned too!

Apparently, today is Olympic Day, so I can’t fail to bring a bit of sport into it, can I, as I’ve been an Olympic nut since I was 10 going on 11 – feel free to hold Torvill & Dean responsible for that, lol! The Winter Olympics of Sarajevo 1984 were the first Games I got into, and I’ve got far too many favourite moments to list, and I’ve also read a fair few books on the matter! On the Games in general, and about certain incidents, or certain sportspeople. In recent times, I’ve read Faster Than Lightning, Usain Bolt‘s autobiography, and also a Quick Reads book, Headhunter, by Jade Jones, Team GB’s Olympic taekwondo champion in London and Rio. Although I read this one some time ago now, as a book club book, I can also recommend The Dirtiest Race in History, by Richard Moore, which is about the men’s 100m final at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, and Ben Johnson’s positive drugs test only a day or two after the race.

Before I get this wrapped up, I shall set you an Olympic teaser – see if you know the answer to this one…

What was the significance of Jenny Jones winning bronze for Great Britain at Sochi 2014?

I don’t have any medals to hand out for anyone who does get the right answer, but you will earn my respect as a fellow Olympic nut if you know the answer to that one! I’m off to get another drink and to watch Glasto, so until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • I Know This Much – Gary Kemp
  • Faster Than Lightning – Usain Bolt
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • Ratburger – David Walliams
  • The Boy in the Dress – David Walliams
  • The World’s Worst Children 2 – David Walliams
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Headhunter – Jade Jones
  • The Dirtiest Race in History – Richard Moore

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Childrens' Books, Computer Corner, Music, Olympic Games

Sticky Weather!

Sticky Weather June 2017

Avoid sunburn – Stay indoors and read!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

It’s sticky weather, as Peter Kay would put it! I do have to venture out tomorrow, as I’m volunteering at Start in Salford, as I currently do on Monday mornings, but I shall be taking precautions against this abnormally hot and sunny weather which my country is currently experiencing! Hopefully, though, there will be SOME chance to sit and read and avoid getting sunburned!

The weather’s reminding me of one of the newly-knighted Sir Billy Connolly’s stand-up routines, about holidays and sun cream…

“I’m a kind of pale blue. It takes me a week of sunbathing to get white! I go into a chemist’s… “I’ll have a bottle of suntan lotion, please! Factor 57.” They gave me an asbestos suit and a welder’s helmet!”

This might not be the longest of blogs, but you ought to know the news that Pet Shop Boys, Literally, is now finished! Yep! One more off the OC List. It’s been a bit quiet on the book front this month, I have only finished off one book so far in June, but perhaps it will pick up again later. As I go to see Neil & Chris in concert this coming Wednesday, it is a timely finish for the book about their first-ever tour back in 1989. I didn’t see them on that tour, but I did see them two years later, funnily enough in Blackpool, on the Performance Tour of 1991!

PSB Literally finished

I will be back at the Winter Gardens in midweek with my friend Sarah. She was there that night, too, but although we were penpals at the time, she and I didn’t meet up until the following year. My sister, Ellie, went with me the first time I saw the Pet Shop Boys, and also the first time I saw Erasure, in 1992 at the Manchester Apollo, but all the subsequent concerts where I’ve seen either of my two favourite synth duos have been with Sarah, and all the Erasure gigs I’ve seen with her have been at the Guild Hall in Preston. The PSB gigs have been at either the Arena or the Apollo, including the one in February this year at the Arena.

Obviously, after the bomb last month, the Arena is still out of use at the moment, being repaired, although it is hoped it will re-open soon. Although I was disappointed about the Maccy D’s closing, as it used to be very handy for a post-gig drink to cool us down, I still think it’s the best concert venue, certainly in terms of location. It is so handy for going into town and having something to eat first, then making your way over for the gig.

I will have to make a start on The Power, by Naomi Alderman, my book club book, but it’s not on the OC List as yet, so the list is down to 8 books at the moment. I’m still thinking that I should add a “chunky monkey” to that list, and due to a response from one of my friends on Instagram, my former colleague Jill, it’ll probably be The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett.

Goodreads challenge surpassed

You see, I’ve met my Goodreads Challenge, and I’ve learned from last year! I am NOT going to alter my challenge, I’m going to see how many more books I read beyond the 30 I’ve finished off thus far! So, I will not panic if I have a book hangover after a particularly epic novel, as I did last year when I finished A Little Life. I will probably stick to non-fiction until I feel ready to read a story again. 2016’s challenge was very handy in imparting some useful book-reading lessons!

  1. DON’T increase your target number of books! Just see how many books you read beyond that number when you hit your target.
  2. DON’T panic if you have a Book Hangover! Just read books which are different to the one which gave you the hangover.

I was having a Book Reshuffle earlier. That’s a bit like a Cabinet Reshuffle, except that it’s useful, lol! Actually, that means it’s nothing like a Cabinet Reshuffle, lol! Anyway, I was putting some books in the Book Chest in the garage and taking some out. I think there’s going to be another mini-clearout, might take a few and divvy them out between local charity shops.

I was mostly going into the Book Chest because one of the books I picked up at the church fair last week was Heartstone, by C. J. Sansom which is the 5th book in his Shardlake series of historical fiction, and I knew I had a few other books of his in my book chest, so I was essentially going for a shufty to re-familiarise myself with what the hell I had in there. I discovered that I have Dissolution and Dark Fire, which are the first two books of that series. Sovereign and Revelation are the third and fourth books, but I don’t have those, nor the 6th book, Lamentation. This is not a cause for concern, though. There’s time yet. I will list them in reading order on the List Challenges list, and at the end of this blog. I like series to be in the right order.

Other books I took out of the book chest to have close to hand were Humble Pie, Gordon Ramsay‘s autobiography, which sounds good, and Robbing The Bees, by Holley Bishop, which is described as a biography of honey. I have read books about tea, coffee and chocolate, so don’t be too surprised! Besides which, bees are very much in the news of late, as they’re a symbol of Manchester, so I thought I might add that to Manchester, England, by Dave Haslam in my Manc Reading theme. There are beehives in town, by the way… on the roof of Manchester Cathedral, and also on the roof of The Printworks.

This one’s not from my book chest, but from one of the tubs in my room… Fathomless Riches, by the Revd Richard Coles. Those of you who are my age and into 80s music will probably remember the UK’s best-selling single of 1986, which was “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by The Communards, a song which is still guaranteed to get me on the dance floor at a disco, even though I’m no dancer and will probably just dance around my handbag, lol! Well, Richard Coles was one half of The Communards, along with the rather more well-known Jimmy Somerville. Coles is a vicar now, has been for some time, and his book is about how he went from pop to pulpit!

Well, I need to go from blogging to freshening up, which is pretty tricky in sticky weather, so that’s about all there is for this entry. Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom
  • Sovereign – C. J. Sansom
  • Revelation – C. J. Sansom
  • Heartstone – C. J. Sansom
  • Lamentation – C. J. Sansom
  • Humble Pie – Gordon Ramsay
  • Robbing the Bees – Holley Bishop
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • Fathomless Riches – The Revd Richard Coles

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, British Weather, Food & Drink, Goodreads, Humour, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Reader's Block, The TBR Pile, Weather

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