Category Archives: Books

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

It’s The Wrong Book, Gromit!

Wallace-and-Gromit-10

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

First of all, congratulations to J. K. Rowling on being made a member of the Order of the Companion of Honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List! She has been recognised for her work in literature and philanthropy. Not only am I a biased bookworm, but I am also a Potterhead, as many of you know, lol, so I’m very chuffed Harry Potter‘s creator has been given a gong. Also very chuffed that the Big Yin, Billy Connolly, has been knighted, been a huge fan of his for years, since I was a little girl, and seen him a few times, November last year being the most recent. Arise Sir Billy!

Anyway, I’m blogging because, earlier today (we’re still on Friday here, just about, as I type) I did my first stint at St Denys’ Bookshop at the Manchester Cathedral Visitors’ Centre, which mostly involved familiarising myself with the shop and its stock, but I did get to help Jed with unpacking a box or two of books and checking we’d been sent the correct reading matter!

As you can imagine, this is a church bookshop, so our orders are going to be stuff such as Bibles, hymn books, prayer books and other reading matter of a religious or at least spiritual nature… Jed and I are checking off what we’ve been sent from one publishing house, both the titles of the books and the quantities of each book we should have been sent. All going well so far… Six copies of The Shack, by William P. Young, as ordered, 4 copies of this Bible, 2 copies of that one, et cetera, et cetera, and then we have a problem… Not only are we a book short in one of the titles we’d ordered (one copy received instead of two), but we find a copy of The Guest List, by Melissa Hill!

Oops! The Guest List is NOT on our inventory! OK, the plot is about a wedding, but that’s as close to religion as it gets, really! I think one would class this novel as “chick lit”. It’s certainly romantic fiction if nowt else! We’ve had to put the book on one side, and the publisher’s will have to be contacted to report the error. I expect the book will be returned and a second copy of the book we only had one of needs to be sent. It did get me wondering, though, if some other poor bookshop’s staff were a copy short of The Guest List, and had instead received some non-fiction book in the religious category?!

Hence my “wrong book” blog title and a nod to Wallace and Gromit as a tribute to the late Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallace, who passed away recently, aged 96. He was also famous as Cleggy in the BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine.

Years ago, and I DO mean years ago as in back in the 1980s when I was a teenager and my paternal grandparents were both very much with us and had popped over from Dublin, we visited the village where Last of the Summer Wine was set! We even had cuppas and sticky buns in the cafe! As it was over in West Yorkshire, it was on the way to Bridlington where we were actually heading to take Nana and Grandad to Grandad’s RAF reunion do. We did a fair bit of visiting TV show locations in the late 80s, lol, particularly as Granada Studios Tour was open back in those days so you could walk on the set of Coronation Street, and that was just in town so very convenient for us! We also went back across the Pennines, though, in 1989, to visit the Emmerdale Farm set as my mum was still very much a fan of that soap back then.

Anyway, never mind British TV Series of the 1980s, let’s get back to the books, shall we?!

Pet Shop Boys, Literally, is now up to 85% as I made more progress with it earlier. I plan to get that one read as I go to see Neil and Chris this coming Wednesday at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, Chris Lowe’s home town. It is my own copy of the book, though, so it’s not one I’ve borrowed from my friend Sarah, unlike the Gary Kemp autobiography I was reading earlier this year before the previous PSB gig at the Manchester Arena in February. Gary Kemp is, of course, the guitarist of Spandau Ballet, but as I Know This Much was my friend’s book and I was going to the gig with her, I was getting it read so I could give it back to her, along with Faster Than Lightning by Usain Bolt, which she’d already lent me in 2016.

So, my aim is to get the Chris Heath book finished off, get another off the OC List, but I also need to make a start on The Power, by Naomi Alderman, which is our current book club book. I need to give it at least a try up to the 10% mark, whichever page that happens to be, and see if I’m enjoying it enough to add it to the OC List. If I get the PSB book polished off, I can just class The Power as the general fiction replacement in my quest to balance my OC List in terms of general fiction, non-fiction and young adult. Otherwise it might just go down on the list as a temporary 10th book.

Other books to be getting on with are Periodic Tales, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Then we can take a look at some of the others on the OC List, particularly some of the YA books which have not been read for a while and focus on those. Finding Audrey, for instance.

We’re now in Saturday morning, as I type, but most of this blog has been typed on the Friday, lol! I won’t go into the transfer idiocy too much, except to say that the little benny Cristiano Ronaldo is currently throwing will eventually calm down and he’ll stay at Real Madrid, as he always has done after each of his previous bennies since 2009! It’s not even an issue with them, anyway, it’s about being accused of fiddling his taxes, so this is about the Spanish equivalent of the Inland Revenue, it’s not one of his “Real Madrid are having a blip so I’m going to have a bit of a mope” sessions, which is what normally happens, lol!

He’s 32 now, anyway, so there’s no way he’d come back to us at the amount of money he would cost. Far too much to shell out for someone the wrong side of 30. If he were on a free transfer, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was last summer, it would be a different matter, and probably very likely he’d come back if he truly had had enough in Spain, but I think things will get smoothed over anyway, and he’ll stay. All it is, as far as I can see, is like when any of us gets some particularly bad or worrying news – we have a bit of a panic and throw a wobbler before we chill out and look at things a bit more rationally! That’s all that’s happening with Ronny right now. He’s at the initial stage of that process.

There’s no more actual proper official news at the moment, anyway. We’ve signed Victor Lindelof from Benfica, and we’re still waiting on further progress on other players we’d like to get, but no more deals have been done yet. I think the aim is to get 4 in, as it was last summer, and I’m sure a few will be leaving, but none have done so as yet. Some interesting news I have seen on BBC Sport, though, is that Robin van Persie might actually be heading back to Rotterdam to rejoin Feyenoord after a couple of seasons in Turkey at Fenerbahce. I think that sounds like a pretty sensible move, really, especially as he’s now 33 nearly 34, so he’ll go back to his hometown club to play for a season or two before he retires.

Ah, I miss Robin! I have very fond memories of his time with us, particularly the 2012-13 season when he helped us win our 20th league title! Especially as we were declared champions the night before my Big 40 with his hat-trick at home to Aston Villa! Boy was I on the stroopwafels that night!

Anyway, before I start waffling on about my appreciation of Mr van Persie, lol, I’d better get this blog finished and published so you can have a good read about my first day volunteering at the cathedral bookshop! Until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
  • The Shack – William P. Young
  • The Guest List – Melissa Hill
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • I Know This Much – Gary Kemp
  • Faster Than Lightning – Usain Bolt
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Football, Humour, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Television, Travel, YA Books

Pigeon English

Pigeon English book

Did our feathered friend come in to read this one?!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Not every day you get a pigeon flying in to a bookshop, but it was a little too late for book club if that’s what it came in for! I was actually coming down the stairs at Waterstone’s Deansgate with a couple of books and heading for the tills to make an enquiry about another book I was interested in, when a pigeon flew in to the store from the main entrance on Deansgate! I shit you not! Doors open, a few human customers come in to browse, and a damn pigeon flies in and perches on top of a set of bookshelves at the other end of the store! As a member of staff goes over to the bird, it takes off again, whooshing past yours truly (still on the stairs and gobsmacked at what I’m witnessing here) and perches on a handrail near the first floor!

I then headed to the checkout to ask about my third book, which a member of staff went off to find for me, so I guess the pigeon was at least on the first floor somewhere, and staff were fetching ladders and stuff in order to assist the pigeon out of the shop! It was still there when I was paying for my books and leaving the shop, so I hope the staff did manage to help it on its way back out into the glorious warm evening here in Manchester! As I said when I was paying for my reading matter, maybe it came in for a read. Perhaps the Stephen Kelman novel, Pigeon English?!

Anyway, back to book club matters… The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman had a mixed reception from those of us at the meeting, some of us liking it, but some thought it was awful. Personally, I quite enjoyed it, it was a pretty quick read, too, but I did want to slap one of Bilodo’s colleagues, so Robert joined the Literary Slap List. Our next book is The Power, by Naomi Alderman, which is supposed to be sci-fi or dystopia about women being in charge and having actual electrical power over the blokes. To me, that only sounds like dystopia if you’re a bloke! Our next meeting is 12th July, which, funnily enough, reminds me of a book, or rather a series, which I read when I was a teenager! The series is by Joan Lingard, best known as the Kevin and Sadie series, and the first book of that series is The Twelfth Day of July.

I also bought Hot Milk, by Deborah Levy, which comes recommended by Emma who works at Waterstone’s and runs the book club, and the book I was making an enquiry about, which was Republic Or Death!: Travels In Search of National Anthems, by Alex Marshall. I had looked around for that one myself, but it’s a bit tricky when a book’s subject matter could put it in a number of categories! I looked in music, as it was about national anthems, I looked in politics, I looked in history… When I gave up and went to ask at the counter, the Waterstone’s employee who found the book for me said he’d found it under Travel Writing! It should have been in world history, so I was actually right in looking in the history department! I’d seen the book in hardback a while ago, at the Trafford Centre branch, and it looked like the sort of book I’d enjoy!

The national anthems book will have to join the waiting list for the OC List, though. Need to get at least a couple of non-fictions off the list to get a new one on there, as the next non-fiction to be finished needs to be replaced by a general fiction book. I am going to have to decide what to do about Book Club Books, as they are obviously a priority, providing I enjoy them enough to read beyond the first 10% of any given book! Maybe I might have to have it as an extra 10th OC book regardless of genre.

If the Book Club Book (hereafter BCB) is short enough to be read quickly, it doesn’t even need to go on the OC List at all.

If the BCB is not my cup of tea, I shall leave it unfinished and it won’t go on the OC List.

If the BCB IS my cup of tea and I read it in its entirity, it goes on the OC List as a 10th book regardless of whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, YA or whatever! The other nine on the OC List shall be 3 general fiction, 3 non-fiction, and 3 Young Adult once I have got that balance adjusted!

Therefore, I could start The Power now, and get on with it, and still have 9 others on the OC List, even if I enjoy The Power and read beyond the first 10 percent of it, which is my criteria for it going on the OC List in the first place. The ten percent thing, as I mentioned a few blogs ago, is my literary insurance policy against books which don’t float my boat!

Hot Milk could possibly be one of the general fiction ones to be read next once a suitable vacancy arises on the OC List, although I still plan to start one of my “chunky monkeys”, possibly The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. The national anthems book will join the list of non-fiction books on the waiting list, but when a suitable vacancy arises, I shall be resuming Manchester, England, by Dave Haslam, and using the bee bookmark I stitched recently to keep my place in it.

I’ve got my eye on these two for future acquisition…

The above books are on my radar! I think I’ve alluded to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck before now, pretty sure I mentioned it in at least one blog earlier this year, or at least the concept of it, but The Last Volcano was new to me when I spotted it tonight while looking around for that book about national anthems which I mentioned earlier! Thanks to my dad and a late night Open University programme donkey’s years ago when I was about 7 or 8, I have had a fascination for volcanoes for most of my life, as I have definitely mentioned in several book blogs over the years since I started blogging in the summer of 2010! Check my archives, and I’m pretty sure there are several entries which mention our lava-spewing chums and my interest in them since I was in the juniors at primary school.

Before I wrap this up and get it published, I think I’d better mention that I posted a recent blog entry on a book group on Facebook the other day as someone was asking if any of us wrote book blogs, so I posted the link to mine. I have warned them I am very waffly and random, though, lol! I currently have 54 followers, 54 brave souls who put up with my epic drivel every time I send one of these things to be published, but it could possibly attract one or two more intrepid bookworms who are willing to sift through all the randomness and football mentions to find the book-related stuff! Talking of football, Victor Lindelof has become our first signing of the summer, a Swedish central defender nicknamed The Iceman. I look forward to seeing him in action!

Anyway, I shall call it a day for now, so until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pigeon English – Stephen Kelman
  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman  – Denis Thériault
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • The Twelfth Day of July – Joan Lingard
  • Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
  • Republic Or Death! Travels In Search of National Anthems – Alex Marshall
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
  • The Last Volcano – John Dvorak

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Football, Literary Slap List, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Television, The TBR Pile, Travel, Volcanoes, 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

Leave a comment

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

And The Bees Still Buzz!

Bee bookmark finished June 2017

Bookmark finished! Will be using it when I resume this book.

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome once again to the mad world of Joanne’s book blogs, which involve typing long, waffly blog entries which mention books and a whole load of other nonsense as well! Such as cross stitch, which is relevant, really, as I cross stitch a lot of bookmarks for my reading matter, and I finished off the Manchester bees bookmark the other night, as you can see from the photo! I will be using it when I resume Manchester England, by Dave Haslam. Given my current policy on my Ongoing Concerns, though, I need to get two non-fiction books finished off first!

As you might recall, the OC List is down to 9 books at the moment, but this consists of 4 non-fiction books and 5 Young Adult novels. I am trying to get it to 3 general fiction, 3 non-fiction and 3 YA books, so the next non-fiction to be finished would be replaced with a general fiction book, as would the next two young adult books I finish off!

Pet Shop Boys, Literally, still tops the OC List on 62%, but it’s the next two on the list where progress has been made of late. I am halfway through Periodic Tales now, 50% read, so wo-oh, we’re halfway there, as Bon Jovi put it in “Living On A Prayer”! Progress has also been made in recent days with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews, so that looks like the next YA book which will be coming off the list! That will be making way for a general fiction title, as will one more YA book, then I should eventually have 3 of each and a bit of balance as per my plan.

My next book club meeting is this coming Wednesday, so I’ll have to remember to put The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman back in my handbag for that. I’ve already read that one, of course, it was an overnight read so it never went on my Ongoing Concerns list! It was much too short to be an OC! Wonder what our next book will be?!

Church fair later, as I’m typing this in the wee small hours of 10th June, so I will be helping out at that – rather conveniently our brass band is not rehearsing until the afternoon, early evening, so I’m able to help out on my mum’s stall. We were setting up yesterday afternoon, so I took some books with me to have a bit of a clear-out. The Duplicate Books have gone! I figured there was no point in having the two copies of each lying around, so those and a few others have gone on the stall for other people to enjoy! I have also given them some of the books I’ve already read this year. Not that I didn’t enjoy them, but I’m not likely to re-read them, so I might as well let Sandra have them for her stall.

Oh, and the other book news… Due to a course I am currently on at Manchester Cathedral Visitors’ Centre, I will be volunteering for a half day per week, and I have arranged to do mine at St Denys’ Bookshop! So, I will be in amongst books, plus other church stuff, and my first stint will come on Friday this coming week.

So, back to the OC List and there now seems to be something of a waiting list of books waiting to go on the OC List once other books come off it, lol! Manchester England, by Dave Haslam, will be my next non-fiction to join the list when the time is right, that one is a book to be resumed, as it is partially-read, but I would also quite like to start This Is Your Brain On Music, by Daniel Levitin, so that’s another non-fiction in the queue! On the general fiction front, and this would be a priority as I am trying to get that balance and add some general fiction to my list, I was looking at some of my “chunky monkeys” in a recent blog, if I remember rightly, and considering which of those to add to the OCs…

chunky books 2017

Chunky Monkeys – Some seriously epic reads here…

I did have a comment on my Chunky Monkeys photo which I posted on Instagram, with my former colleague Jill recommending The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, so I may well opt for that one, especially as, if I enjoy that, I can then go straight on to the sequel, World Without End! I think the other books on that photo are stand-alone novels, although I do believe Gregory David Roberts, who wrote Shantaram, has recently brought out a sequel, The Mountain Shadow. The only thing which would make any of the Chunky Monkeys have to wait would be whatever book I’m reading next for book club if it ends up being fiction, my cup of tea, and longer than an overnight read, lol!

I definitely feel that the time is right for another go at a big book! If I DO suffer a Book Hangover, as I did after I finished A Little Life last year, I shall go with some non-fiction for a while to see if that keeps me reading even if I can’t find any fiction I fancy!

I know this is a bit on the short side, but it will have to do for now. It’s the silly season now, as far as football’s concerned, international qualifiers for next year’s World Cup are on at the moment, but club football will resume with pre-season friendlies in late July and then the new season will start in mid-August. The new season’s fixtures will be out soon, I guess, but we don’t know those yet, and we’ve not signed any new players as yet, so there’s not a lot for me to waffle on about right now, really, lol! Zlatan is a free agent again, although he’s still with us as he trains and does his rehab after his knee injury. We may or may not re-sign him, but that depends on how things go and if we get other strikers in and they bang in the goals, we might not need to call upon him again.

Definitely need to score far more goals next season, though! That is a fact!

So, that’s about it for now, and I shall get this published. More of the usual waffle again soon, but until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • This Is Your Brain On Music – Daniel Levitin
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • World Without End – Ken Follett
  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  • The Mountain Shadow – Gregory David Roberts
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Cross-Stitch, Football, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, The TBR Pile

May Review

bee bookmark a

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bee bookmark b

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

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

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

chunky books 2017

Some of my “chunky monkeys” for consideration…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Various books written and illustrated by Charlotte Elizabeth Williams, aged 6
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous
  • Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson
  • Oi Frog! – Kes Gray & Jim Field
  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler
  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • I Know This Much Is True – Wally Lamb
  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  • Paris – Edward Rutherfurd
  • Magician – Raymond E. Feist
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, British Weather, Cross-Stitch, Football, Goodreads, Junior Bookworms, Literary Slap List, Manc Stuff!, Month in Review, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns