Category Archives: Bookstagram

March Review and Childhood Cookbooks

Word for World is Forest finished March 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Another month, another 5 books finished! I can’t guarantee I will be this consistent all year, but so far in 2018 I have finished 5 books and published 6 blogs each month! This means I am now on at 15/30 on my Goodreads Challenge – half way to my target and we’ve only had three months so far. Also, a third of the way to matching the total of 45 books which I managed to finish off in 2017!

There’s another bookmark on the way. Might just about get it finished before the month is over, but not in time for this blog. It is nearly done though. Only needs the back-stitching finishing and a tassel of some sort adding.

So, anyway, we’re at the end of March 2018, I have 77 followers now, so thanks to all of you for putting up with my random waffle, and welcome to some of the new followers who have discovered this blog of late. These blogs go right back to August 2010, so feel free to mosey around in the archives. I have published over 200 book blogs, and have been pretty prolific in the last year or so. Before that, it was rather inconsistent.

Time to move on to the actual books now, lol, and let’s look at what I’ve finished off in March. My first finish for the month, and it seems like ages ago now, was The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier, which was a brilliant read. A couple of quick-to-finish children’s books came next, Fantastic Mr Fox, by Roald Dahl, and The Slimy Stuarts, by Terry Deary, the latter being a book from the Horrible Histories series. I had picked up a few Horrible Histories books at a charity shop in Swinton after work one night!

Towards the end of this month, in the past week or so, two more books have taken my monthly total up to five. First up was my ebook, The Man In the Middle, by Howard Webb, which had started off as my match day book as I had been reading it to pass the time in the car while stuck in the car park at Old Trafford, or in Trafford Park, on the way home from one of our home games, but I ended up reading it on days when I wasn’t heading to the Hallowed Ground, and finished it off at home one night last week!

Finished books 29 March 2018

Bringing my monthly total to a consistent five, I finished off The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin, last night, thus adding another science-fiction book to my read list, and Don Davidson to my Literary Shovel List! Whilst I didn’t find him quite as anger-inducing as the bigoted nutjob Joseph Strorm, Davidson certainly needs a good thwack on the head with The Shovel, and he has to be added to Humans In Science Fiction Novels Who Are An Embarrassment To The Species! As with my feelings of sympathy towards the mutants in The Chrysalids, I quickly took the side of the “Creechies” in Le Guin’s novella. I think, once I’d have given Davidson the Shovel treatment, I would then grab him warmly by the throat and yell “Stop showing us all up, you arrogant knobhead!”

At least, for now, the interplanetary embarrassment is only in works of fiction. Bad enough that, in real life, there are too many dicks here on Earth who embarrass the species as a whole, and their part of the planet in particular, without going to new planets and behaving in that manner! The novella was written in the late 60s and early 70s, being first published in 1972, the year before I came into this world. It’s easy to see it as a damning criticism of some of the worst atrocities committed during the war in Vietnam, but it’s still pretty relevant now, especially with the concept of male privilege – you could see some of the “yumans” in the plot, Davidson in particular, exhibiting what might be called Earthling Privilege, lording it over the poor Creechies whose planet they’d invaded and buggered up ecologically! Having screwed their own planet up in the first place, they’ve buggered off to mess some other planet up as well and piss off the inhabitants.

Don Davidson definitely joins the Shovel List. By contrast, I liked Raj Lyubov, who was one of the few who made an effort to treat the Creechies with respect and learn about their way of life.

Will I continue with The Chrysalids? Maybe, but it is on hold for now. I might even make some attempt at North and South, a final go to see if it does grab me, but if it doesn’t, no point plodding on with it. I will just have to accept it is one of those which hasn’t fizzed on me. Won’t be the first, and I doubt very much it will be the last. I do not persist with books I’m not enjoying. As you already know, I don’t agree with all that bullshit about not giving up. Sometimes, giving up is the wisest thing you can do. If you’re making no progress at something, and not enjoying it, time to pack it in! You might have to try a bit harder if you need to read a book for the purposes of your academic or professional attainment, but if you don’t have to read it for education or employment, and you’re not enjoying it, time to put it down and find a different book!

Hawksmoor‘s still hanging around, and I plan to get some of that read this weekend, another chapter at least, get it past the halfway stage. It’s been on 49% for a while, so time we took it beyond 50, especially if I just accept that North and South isn’t doing it for me. The other book whose title you can see on the wipeboard on the top photo of this blog is Six Little Miracles, by Janet Walton. I found it at a charity shop in Swinton the other day. For those of us who were around in the UK in the 1980s, you may recall the birth of the Walton Sextuplets, the six girls born in 1983 – well, this is their mum’s autobiography, the memoir of growing up, meeting her husband, and trying for a baby – then ending up with half a dozen of them at once!

Childhood cookbooks

My first recipe books!

Talking of growing up, Veronica Henry, author of The Beach Hut and How To Find Love In a Book Shop, amongst other novels, posted a photo on Instagram the other day which had me going back to my childhood, as it featured a book I’d received when I was a kid, either a birthday or Christmas present – a recipe book called My Learn To Cook Book – funnily enough, I still have it, alongside The Mr Men Cookbook! Both of those have some damn good recipes in them! The former is by Ursula Sedgwick, and the latter by Roger Hargreaves. Mr Topsy-Turvy’s Upside Down Pudding is particularly good!

SF purchases March 2018

Onto recent purchases now, and then we can think about What To Read Next, that great bookworm dilemma, lol! I was in town yesterday, essentially to get my bus and tram pass sorted for another month, but any old excuse to do a spot of retail therapy while there, eh?! The books you see in that photo are Ammonite, by Nicola Griffith, Neuromancer, by William Gibson, and the one at the top of the pile there, Resistance is Futile, by Jenny T. Colgan. That comment by Matt Haig on the cover amused me enormously! “A riotous cocktail of geeks” – there’s a recommendation if ever there was one!

I’ve read a couple of his books, actually, both very different, but both great – The Radleys, and Reasons To Stay Alive. The former is fiction, and very funny, and the latter is autobiographical and a good read, especially if you’re looking for books relating to mental health issues. Also, I have How To Stop Time, and The Humans, right here by Computer Corner, on my science fiction row between the robot bookends!

I could always read one of the new purchases. After all, I’ve finished the Le Guin, so there’s room for some more science fiction on the OC List. Non-fiction is accounted for, of course, with the Walton sextuplets book I mentioned earlier. I will also need a new choice of book on one of my e-readers for match day, so I will have to have a shufty on my Kindle and my Sony Reader to see if there’s anything I really fancy reading or resuming!

I could read The City and The City, by China Miéville, which is about to be dramatised in a 6 part series on the BBC starting just after Easter. That’s a paperback, though, not on my e-readers. I also had my eye on The Cellist of Sarajevo earlier today. I’d previously had two copies, it was one of my notorious Duplicate Books, lol, so I took one in to work with some other books, so that my colleagues can borrow and swap them, but I was giving some thought to reading my remaining copy of the Steven Galloway novel.

Well, I think that’s about it for now. Easter Long Weekend starts here! I will be back again with another blog before too long, lol, but until next time, have a lovely Easter, hope you get plenty of eggs and maybe some books, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl
  • The Slimy Stuarts (Horrible Histories) – Terry Deary
  • The Man In the Middle – Howard Webb
  • The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
  • The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry
  • How To Find Love In a Book Shop – Veronica Henry
  • My Learn To Cook Book – Ursula Sedgwick
  • The Mr Men Cookbook – Roger Hargreaves
  • Ammonite – Nicola Griffith
  • Neuromancer – William Gibson
  • Resistance is Futile – Jenny T. Colgan
  • The Radleys – Matt Haig
  • Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig
  • How To Stop Time – Matt Haig
  • The Humans – Matt Haig
  • The City and The City – China Miéville
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway
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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Bookstagram, Charity Shop Bargains, Childrens' Books, Computer Corner, Cross-Stitch, Facebook & Other Social Media, Food & Drink, Football, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, Literary Shovel List, Mental Health, Month in Review, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Science Fiction, Television, The TBR Pile

February Review – Read Amid The Winter’s Snow 2018

February Finishes 2018

February Finishes – 5 books and a bookmark

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

I know there’s a day to go, we’re not quite done with February yet, as our current weather is proving to us, lol, but I finished another book off tonight to make it 5 finishes this month and 10 in total so far this year, and the likelihood of me finishing another book off in the day we have left of this book is about as remote as my chances of NOT falling on my arse if I were ever to attempt any snow sports! Even attempting to walk to work once I’ve got off the bus is precarious enough for me in snowy and icy weather!

As you no doubt know, this “Beast from the East”  has brought significant amounts of snow to the UK for the first time since that bad winter of 2009-2010, which is all well and good if you’re a Team GB athlete who has just got back from the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang and could feasibly ski or snowboard down the streets in this weather, but the rest of us are not exactly cut out for wintry weather! Couldn’t see myself doing any “big air” events. Big hair, yes, lol, but not big air!

The last time we had such snowy weather, I had a particularly bad fall near the car park not far from where I was working at the time, in Chorlton, bumped into a lamppost as I slipped and hurt my ribs – they were sore for several months after that, so I do NOT want a repeat of that eight years on, ta very much!

Anyway, it’s time for the monthly review, so, as well as the “Penguin Classics” bookmark, what else did I manage to finish off in February? Well, it started with the Martians getting finished off as my first February Finish was The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells. The other four books kinda came in pairs within days or even hours of each other. Around 20th to 21st February, I finished off Mort, by Sir Terry Pratchett, and hot on the heels of Mort was Russian Winters, by Andrei Kanchelskis. Less than a week later, two more books were polished off.

Yesterday, I finished Neither Here Nor There, by Bill Bryson, which I had decided to resume, having started it last year and got exactly half-way before it kinda stalled as an Ongoing Concern of 2017. Anyway, I resumed it and was glad I did. The usual Bryson fare, witty and snarky as ever! Oh, and he mentions the 1984 Winter Olympics when he gets to Sarajevo! Epic Win! Not that I’m biased or anything, lol, but… 14th February 1984… Torvill & Dean… Ravel’s Bolero – one of my all-time favourite sporting moments, and the start of me becoming an Olympic Nut!

Today was the turn of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, to be brought to a conclusion on the reading front, and another excellent read. As this is my current book club book, and the meeting is on 7th March, I have just over a week now before the meeting to get on with other books and give them a serious chance to make significant progress without having a book club book to prioritise.

I have added an e-book to the mix as well, although I only just started that on Sunday on the way home from our 2-1 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford, so it’s only at the 3% read stage yet. The book is The Man In the Middle, by Howard Webb. I figured I might as well read something on my Kindle which was footy-related so the ref who officiated at the 2010 World Cup Final was as good a choice as any. Not the first referee’s autobiography I’ve read though, of course, as I read The Rules of the Game, by Pierluigi Collina, a couple of years ago. That’s on my 2016 Goodreads Challenge, lol! One of the few books I managed to read for the rest of that year once I’d finished A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara! That book gave me an EPIC Book Hangover! Couldn’t read any fiction for the rest of 2016, but I did manage a few non-fiction books!

There are a few home games coming up in March, though, so I hope to get a bit more of Howard Webb‘s book read in the coming month. We have home fixtures against Liverpool (Premier League), Sevilla (Champions League), Brighton & Hove Albion (FA Cup), and Swansea City (Premier League), so I would expect to make decent progress on the ebook front!

February 15th saw me off to Preston to see Paul Young in concert, and thus I was able to give my friend Sarah her book back. She had lent me the brilliant Not Dead Yet, by Phil Collins, which had been my second finish of this year, back in January! A great gig, by the way. Wonder if Paul has an autobiography? He’s had a pretty long career, after all, and, like Phil Collins, he was involved in Band Aid – indeed, he sung the opening lines of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” back in 1984. (The original and still the best version!)

medallistsmontage-2018

L-R: Dom Parsons, Izzy Atkin, Laura Deas, Lizzy Yarnold & Billy Morgan.

Considering February is a short month, and also considering that I spent a fortnight of it rather distracted by events in PyeongChang, I am quite amazed that I finished off 5 books again this month, same total as January. This is also my 6th blog of the month, so in terms of books and blogs, I have started consistently!

The five people in that montage are Team GB’s medallists at the Winter Olympics, five medals is a national record for us at a Winter Games, beating our previous best of 4 medals in both 1924 and 2014. Plenty of firsts for us in South Korea… First British medallist on skis (Izzy Atkin), first British bloke to win a medal in the skeleton (Dom Parsons), first British athlete to retain a title at a Winter Olympics (Lizzy Yarnold), first time we’ve had two athletes on the same podium at a Winter Olympics (Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas), and a new national record medal tally achieved when Billy Morgan won bronze in the men’s snowboarding big air event!

Funnily enough, though, we could be in line for another bronze from Sochi! With all the positive drug tests by Russian athletes, and retrospective reallocation of medals, we are awaiting confirmation that the standings from the 4 man bobsleigh final of 2014 are to be amended. Great Britain’s GB1 bob team finished 5th originally in Sochi. However, two of the bobs who finished higher than our lads were Russian crews. One team of Russians won the gold, and their other team came 4th. With those records removed from the books, the IOC look set to upgrade the bobs in 2nd, 3rd and 5th place, thus meaning that Great Britain’s 4 man bob team should receive bronze medals. That would actually make Sochi our best Winter Games, as our four medals won at the time were 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze. In PyeongChang, we didn’t win any silver medals – it was 1 gold and 4 bronze.

Penguin books and bookmark 2018

The “Penguin Classics” bookmark was finished off this month, so I decided to do a Bookstagram display featuring a couple of classic Penguin books! I have yet to read either Everything Is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer, or The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, but I may yet get round to reading either or both of them in the fullness of time! Pretty decent chance of The Chrysalids, actually, given that I have already enjoyed some science fiction this year.

So, now I shall start to turn my attention towards March. With my book club book read with a week to spare, I might read a bit more of Hawksmoor, try to get that to at least 50% or more. I will also continue with The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier, which is now my main Handbag Book at present. Hawksmoor is currently still on 39%, the Chevalier novel is on 19% at present, but I am reading that at lunchtimes at work, and will probably read a lot more of it at home. I might wait before adding other books to the Ongoing Concerns. One will have to be non-fiction to replace the Bryson. I might also, whether fact or fiction, look to finish more books off which I have started previously.

Then again, I am still itching to read that book about national anthems, Republic or Death! by Alex Marshall. It could, feasibly, become a Handbag Book. Born A Crime, by Trevor Noah is also factual, though, and slimmer than the book about anthems. Whatever I decide, you will find out in the coming blogs! Until that time, though, by which time I hope the weather has improved, lol, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • Mort – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • The Man In the Middle – Howard Webb
  • The Rules of the Game – Pierluigi Collina
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • Everything Is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Republic or Death! Travels In Search of National Anthems – Alex Marshall
  • Born A Crime – Trevor Noah

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Russians, Wizards and Unicorns…

Finished books 21 Feb 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

First up, thank you SO much! The Dog Blog for Chinese New Year has had 13 likes! I am glad so many of you enjoyed it! In total I have had over 500 likes for my blogs, some entries more than others, but that last one seemed to go down very well! Not a themed one this time, just a general book blog and an update on the Ongoing Concerns, two of which were finished off in the previous 24 hours, leading me to start a new book earlier today!

Within a matter of hours from late on 20th February and in the early hours of the 21st, I finished Mort, by Sir Terry Pratchett, and then Russian Winters, by Andrei Kanchelskis, both of which I enjoyed enormously! Two completely different books, one a work of fantasy humour, and the other an autobiography, but both brilliant in their own ways. I’d previously read Andrei’s original autobiography, as mentioned in earlier blogs, which was published when he was still a Manchester United player, which shows how long ago THAT was! He left us for Everton in 1995, so 23 years ago now! Russian Winters is brilliant for a catch-up, to find out what happened after he left Old Trafford. Obviously, he was at Goodison Park for a bit, but after that, I had kinda lost track, so it was very interesting to read about his various clubs as both a player and then later a manager. He was one of my favourite players when he was at United, my 2nd fave after King Eric.

I definitely need to read more Discworld and not leave it so long in between visits! I absolutely loved Mort and it was a great book to have as a Handbag Book, and to read on my lunch at work. Who’d have thought the Grim Reaper would enjoy a curry, lol! It does pose the question now, though, of whether I continue to read them in order, in which case, the next Discworld book would be Sourcery, or whether I look for other books where Death and possibly also Mort make a reappearance. The thing about Discworld is that the books don’t really follow on. There’s not a sequence. It’s not like, say, Harry Potter, where there is a defined order of the books if you want things to make chronological sense.

So, with two books read, including one of my Handbag Books, it means that I need to add new books to the Ongoing Concerns, because otherwise, there’d only be two of those, and I’m halfway through Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which I need to get on with for my book club. As I said previously, if I get that one read before 7th March, I’ll get a bit more of Hawksmoor read while I have the opportunity, but Eleanor Oliphant is a priority.

It does mean that I have now finished 3 books this month, and 8 in total so far this year. The War of the Worlds was my first February finish, but the two I’ve polished off in the last day or so take my month’s total to 3. Not bad for a short month. Hmmm… can I get Eleanor Oliphant finished off before we start March?! As mentioned before, that one is a hardback, so that’s being read here at home, not taken to work with me.

So, with finishing two books off, I need new ones, and at least one of them needs to be a Handbag Book. I have gone with The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier, and I have already read 11% of it. I have already read one of her books, the brilliant Girl With a Pearl Earring, which I read a few years ago now and loved. These are works of historical fiction, but they are not chunky, unlike many other books of this genre, so if you were thinking of reading some historical fiction, but thought the size of many novels a bit off-putting, I’d start with some Tracy Chevalier novels. You could always move on to the chunky monkeys later and read some C. J. Sansom or something like that!

Rainbow Book Tower Feb 2018

I also have another vacancy on the Ongoing Concerns list, but here is where I am finding it hard to decide. Part of me is thinking I should start on the books on the rainbow spines tower, which would mean Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, would be added to my list. However, I have already replaced fiction with fiction – the Tracy Chevalier book, as mentioned above, replacing Mort in my handbag. Thus, as the other book I have just finished was non-fiction, that being Russian Winters, there should be another non-fiction book on the OC list! Do I go with another autobiography, or perhaps a different factual book? Perhaps time to put Neither Here Nor There, by Bill Bryson, back on the list? That is already at 50% from last year, so I could resume that one. It would make sense to resume it and finish it off. Plus, it’s also a paperback, and fairly slim, so it would go in the Handbag!

Yes, I think we’ll go for the Bill Bryson. Get that finished off. Perhaps take Hawksmoor out of the bag for now, put The Lady and the Unicorn and Neither Here Nor There in the handbag and go with those. I may yet start Stargirl soon. We shall see. Can I manage 5 books on the OC list? I had more than that on plenty of occasions last year, but sometimes it just got out of hand and some books just weren’t being read at all. I don’t want that – it defeats the object of the Ongoing Concerns list if some of the books aren’t exactly ongoing!

There needs to be a manageable list, and I think having an OC list of 4 books is very manageable. Let’s see how we get on with the Chevalier and the Bryson. Hopefully, they will be fairly quick reads and I can then get more books on the list! Eleanor Oliphant will probably be replaced with whatever is the next book club book, but I won’t know what that is until 7th March.

Anyway, I know this one is a bit short, but it’s time for me to settle down into my pyjamas and watch a bit of the Winter Olympics until I need to get zeds ready for work in the morning! Our women have reached the semi-finals of the curling. If we can win our semi, we would be guaranteed a medal, silver at worst, and thus Team GB would have a new national record medal tally at the Winter Olympics! The men are in a play-off to try to get into the semi-finals. Come on, guys!

So, I’m off to watch some of the action on snow or ice until I fall asleep, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Mort – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Sourcery – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson

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Books, Timbits and the Winter Olympics

War of the Worlds finished Feb 2018

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

The Martians were finished off in the early hours, lol! The War of the Worlds became my 6th finished book so far this year, my second by H. G. Wells, and my second work of science fiction this year. Therefore, so far, I have finished 1 general fiction novel, 1 autobiography, two science fiction novels, a children’s book and a crime novel. Not bad considering we’re only in early February!

I think it makes for timely reading, and perhaps more should read it. There is a lesson in how the Martians were killed off. These creatures, on their own planet, had eradicated all disease, but that became their downfall when they came to Earth. They couldn’t resist our germs, our bacteria saw them off! They had come to Earth, thinking they were great, zapping everything to bits with their Heat Ray, killing the humans and then consuming their blood… but maybe some of those humans had the lurgy, like the bugs which have been going around here of late, so no wonder the Martians died!

It all made me think of the time when I was a kid, back in the 70s and 80s. The days before everything was over-sterilised and people got their knickers in a knot about kids putting soil-covered fingers in their mouths, rushing over with wipes… Back in the day, our parents warned us about the plant life we shouldn’t eat, the stuff which WOULD make us very sick, or even kill us, if we did put that in our mouths, but they didn’t bother about the harmless stuff, even if it didn’t taste all that great… They knew we would perhaps try it once or twice, then realise for ourselves that it wasn’t worth bothering with in terms of flavour! However, it WAS worth doing, as it turned out, as I hardly know anyone of my age or older who has a food intolerance! I know all of three people! One who’s allergic to fish, one pork, and the other allergic to onions, but that’s it. Three people. Nowadays, there seems to be a huge issue with allergies, be it nuts, dairy, or whatever! I think part of this is because people fuss too much about kids eating a tidgy bit of soil or mud!

STOP FUSSING! LET THEM EAT SOIL!

Seriously, if it means they can eat a huge variety of food without being ill, and you can go out for meals without having to badger the restaurant manager for ingredients lists, let your kids stick their fingers in the soil and try it! They’ll probably only do it the once, anyway, find that it doesn’t taste particularly good, and not bother again, but that one taste might just help their body cope that bit better and not reject certain foods! Just a bit of advice from a 70s baby!

Right, anyway, moving on from Martians being killed off by bacteria, I need another Handbag Book! I’m having one of those “What the hell should I read next?” moments! It won’t be a hardback, that’s for certain, I’ve got two of those on the go as it is, as I am still reading Russian Winters, by Andrei Kanchelskis, and have now made a start on our latest book club book, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. I do have Hawksmoor, which I tend to read in chunks, a chapter at a time, lol, so I need something that might prove a quicker read, particularly bearing in mind that I like to have a bit of a read at work when I’m on my lunch. Followers of mine on Instagram will know that I often sit in our deli at work, having something to eat and having a good read! There are quite a few Bookstagram posts from my lunchtime reading sessions!

Rainbow Book Tower Feb 2018

I could, of course, start on my Rainbow Tower of Books! This photo shows the current state of the tower, from the pink-spined (indeed pink-covered) Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, at the top, to the “pot of gold” at the bottom, the gold spine belonging to The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt. That one would actually be resuming a book I’d made a start on a few years ago, but I was in the middle of a book slump at the time and even though I liked it, it wasn’t enough to override my reading malaise. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be enough now, though. If I hadn’t thought I would ever finish it, I’d have given it away to a charity shop some time ago. It has a great cover, too! Really clever design! I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but let’s face it, some covers are just bloody brilliant, aren’t they?! One of the other brilliant covers in recent years is that of Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes, which I read and loved a couple of years ago!

By the way, this is my 201st book blog! After I published that last one about Andrei and the Martians, Word Press sent me a notification to tell me it was my 200th book blog! Many thanks to all of you who follow and read my blogs!

Some of those books on the tower are a little chunky, but I don’t think any are particularly excessive size-wise! No major chunky monkeys, anyway. Nothing along the lines of A Little Life, let alone War and Peace, so there should be room in my handbag if I do decide to read my way through the rainbow tower of books, or maybe one or two of them could just stay at home if they were on the chunky side. Seems a decent variety on that tower, too. Got a couple of biographies, some general fiction, some young adult fiction and some science fiction or fantasy on there.

Perhaps I should read a book about books? For instance, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald, or How To Find Love In a Book Shop, by Veronica Henry. Or I could read some more non-fiction, and choose Republic or Death! Travels In Search of National Anthems, by Alex Marshall. Or one of two books I can see close by with doughnuts on the covers! One of them is called Doughnut, and is by Tom Holt, the other is This Book Will Save Your Life, by A. M. Homes. Mention of doughnuts is making me think of Timmie’s! Mmmm…. So glad we’ve got Tim Horton’s over here now! I discovered the joy of Timmie’s when I was in Canada in 2009, and wanted them over here ever since – branches opened around here towards the end of 2017, the one in Salford, on Bury New Road, opening a week before Christmas. Mmmm…. Timbits! 🙂

Well, I shall have a think and get back to you all with my decision. Only kidding! I really need a mug of hot Vimto and to settle down for some late night viewing – live coverage from PyeongChang of people doing mad stuff on snow and ice, otherwise known as the Winter Olympics, lol! I would just fall on my arse! I’ve never had the greatest of balance in the bloody first place, so slippy surfaces are not really my cup of tea, but I admire those who can do tricky stuff on them! Mind you, even some of them end up going arse over tit in a spectacular manner – this is what happens when it all goes Pete Tong in winter sports! Some of the falls in the men’s slopestyle snowboarding last night, for instance…

Until the next time, take care and Happy Reading! I might have chosen another Handbag Book by then!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in tonight’s blog entry…

  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
  • Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  • The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald
  • How To Find Love In a Book Shop – Veronica Henry
  • Republic or Death! Travels In Search of National Anthems – Alex Marshall
  • Doughnut – Tom Holt
  • This Book Will Save Your Life – A. M. Homes

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December and 2017 Review

Books 44 and 45 of 2017

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

With a few days of 2017 left, the ol’ Badger’s Arse Syndrome has struck again, and I have a cold, which I need to shift by the weekend as United are at home again on Saturday, against Southampton, and then Sunday is New Year’s Eve, so I’m out for a meal with Mum to let in 2018! This cold can, quite frankly, do one! Bugger off, cold! I really don’t need this crap! I already had a cold in October and needed time off work, so just sod off and leave me the hell alone! Take your stinking germs and piss off!

I have been productive on the book front in recent days, though, getting a couple more finished off, hence I have reached 45 for the year. I think that’s fair enough really, especially as my Goodreads Challenge was originally 30, so I have exceeded it by another 15! Not sure about the coming year. I will probably only set a low target, as I am working full time certainly up to and including March, and I hope that they will want me to stay on after that. Work provides the money to buy books, but it does mean that you have to fit the actual reading around your working life! Thus I will not be setting a big target for 2018. Possibly 25 or 30.

Anyway, let’s get on with what I have read this year, and to round off the reading, I finished off Mr Dickens and His Carol, by Samantha Silva, and The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, by Sarah Knight. This has taken me, as I said, to 45 books for the year. I could probably publish my list of books read this year on List Challenges now. I can’t see myself finishing a 46th book before we let in 2018! I guess, if I hadn’t come down with a cold, I might have felt I could manage another one and make it 46, but realistically, even if I’d not been germ-ridden, I could start a book, but it probably wouldn’t be finished until some time in January at the earliest.

I can get on with Hot Milk, by Deborah Levy, I guess, if I am feeling up to it, and get going with that. It’s only a fairly short book, but book club is on 10th January, so I should get cracking, really!

Perhaps I should make a start on Not Dead Yet, by Phil Collins – Sarah lent it to me in the summer when we went to see the Pet Shop Boys in Blackpool, and I have got another gig on the horizon thanks to my friend – my main Christmas present from Sarah was a ticket to see Paul Young at the Preston Guild Hall on 15th February! I have already booked a half day off work for that day, so I can finish at lunchtime, go home and get ready to go to Preston later. China Crisis are the support act, so all very 1980s, which is how I like it, lol!

I bought a few books for members of my family for Christmas, and I got a Waterstone’s gift card, so I can go out and get more books, lol, but that’s fair enough – Those who know me well know that I have rather a lot of books (a slight understatement, lol), so it’s best to get me a gift card rather than buy me a book I might already own. One of the books I bought was Only Fools and Stories, by Sir David Jason, for my mum. I couldn’t exactly mention that in any pre-Christmas blogs, but I can mention it now! My sister certainly reads my blogs when I share them onto Facebook. At times, especially when Reuben was very little and she was up at silly o’clock feeding him, she would read my blogs then! I got him a couple of Christmasssy books from the Usborne “That’s Not My…” series, namely That’s Not My Santa, and That’s Not My Elf.

So, what were my favourite reads of 2017 from the 45 books I managed to read, or at least finish off during the course of the year? Here are some stats for the year and some favourite books…

Goodreads Challenge Set: 30

Books Read in 2017: 45

Authors Met in 2017: 2, Stuart Maconie and Adam Kay

Favourite Non-Fiction: This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

Favourite Fiction: The Good People – Hannah Kent

Favourite Young Adult: One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton

Favourite Children’s: Esio Trot – Roald Dahl

Reminder of a Holiday: The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley. Reminded me of my holiday in Marrakech, Morocco, in November 2016.

Wembley Books: The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie, and Premier League Years 1992/93 – Andrew Hyslop, read on the coach going to and coming back from the EFL Cup Final in February, which United won 3-2 vs Southampton. Two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimović and one from Jesse Lingard. Zlatan’s second goal, three minutes from time, was the decider, as we had gone 2-0 up only for the Saints to take advantage of our decidedly dodgy defending by getting back to 2-2.

Having looked back on 2017, we need to look ahead. I know I have already mentioned two books, one for my book club, and one my friend lent me in the summer, but what else do I think I might read in 2018? There will, of course, be other book club books, and there is no accounting for what those might be, lol, but of the stacks of stuff I have here, what should I read? Perhaps some relatively short books, such as The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton, which I did make a start on this year, and possibly some H.G. Wells – I have both The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds lurking here near Computer Corner, lol!

At the other end of the size scale, there are a few chunky monkeys I could attempt, and I could always return to the Shardlake Series by C. J. Sansom, having read Dissolution earlier this year, and get on with the second in that series, Dark Fire. Maybe some classics, maybe some modern classics, perhaps 2018 will be the year I finally read some books which have been hanging around for years waiting for me to read them?! Maybe I will read I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb – probably while thinking of the Spandau Ballet song “True” as I think of it every time I even SEE my copy of that book, so I will probably think of it all the time if I am actually reading it!

As I’ve said many times, I’m an 80s nut, so it’s to be expected, really! Actually, talking of Spandau Ballet, I’ve got Martin Kemp‘s autobiography, True, lurking in my room, so I could read that as well. I read Gary Kemp‘s autobiography, I Know This Much, earlier this year, which Sarah had lent me, so I could always read his brother’s book in the coming year! As I said earlier, though, I think the Phil Collins autobiography would have to be a priority.  One book I like the sound of, but have yet to purchase, is the Bruce Dickinson autobiography, What Does This Button Do? I have a feeling that my friend might have that one, so I could always end up borrowing it from her some time in the not too distant future!

Anyway, I have just looked at my list of books mentioned on this blog during the course of 2017, and the Bruce Dickinson autobiography takes us up to a whopping 541 different books mentioned this year! So, when I publish this list, as I will be doing shortly, there should be a nice long list on List Challenges for you to get stuck into! A huge, very random list of books with probably something for everyone! Fiction, non-fiction, autobiographies, biographies, young adult, children’s books, science fiction, classics, comedy, football, music…  I will be starting a new list in the new year for everything I mention on here in 2018, so until I blog again, as it is very unlikely to be before January, lol, I wish you all a Happy and book-filled New Year! Take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Mr Dickens and His Carol – Samantha Silva
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • Only Fools and Stories – Sir David Jason
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • Esio Trot – Roald Dahl
  • The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Premier League Years 1992/93 – Andrew Hyslop
  • The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton
  • The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom
  • I Know This Much Is True – Wally Lamb
  • True – Martin Kemp
  • I Know This Much – Gary Kemp
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson

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Your Book Club Needs YOU!

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Book and a G&T – and I needed that after book club!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

My nephew, Reuben, is one year old today (8th October)! Hence we’ve been busy with birthday celebrations this weekend, but it’s now time for me to come over to Computer Corner and tap away at my laptop for a bit to bring you yet another dose of waffly blog which might just mention a book or two, lol! Actually, it WILL mention books, and some rather worrying developments. Basically, the Waterstone’s Deansgate book club is in a critical condition!

When I say that “we” met up on Thursday evening, I mean just me and Anne again! It is bloody ridiculous! I ended up going to speak to Alice, the current store manager, to ask for more publicity for the book club! We need it! You can’t have a book club with only 2 members, you need around half a dozen or so to make it a good club. That way you get some decent debate and discussion, a better mix of opinions, and more ideas for recommendations when it comes to deciding the next book!

So, like the Lord Kitchener posters in World War I, I am putting out this appeal if you’re a bookworm in the Greater Manchester area…

YOUR BOOK CLUB NEEDS YOU!

If you are able to make it to Waterstone’s Deansgate on Thursday 9th November 2017 at 6pm, get yourself a copy of Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien, published by Granta, RRP £8.99 (although it’s a former shortlisted book for the Booker Prize, so you may find a much cheaper copy in a charity shop if money’s too tight to mention like Simply Red once sang), get reading as much as you can of it, and get your bookworm backside to the coffee shop on the top floor of Waterstone’s on 9th November and join in the fun! Please! Pretty please with a cherry on top! WE NEED BOOKWORMS URGENTLY!!!

I’m not saying the book club is dead, it’s not yet an ex-book club, but let’s just say it’s in intensive care and desperate for a fresh injection of book lovers to bring it back to good health and keep it going into 2018. I have emailed those who have been in the past, let them know the club is still going, what we are reading next and for when, so I hope some of them will be persuaded to return, but I am also trying to get some new bookworms, including some of my council colleagues! We have an in-house social media thing called “Yammer” so I have mentioned the book club on there to try and get some new members.

Alice did say she’d try to get some publicity on Facebook and Instagram, but I might also try to raise awareness. Certainly with a bookstagram post on Instagram… get some new bookworms that way…

Anyway, I had finished Blitzed in time for book club, and the other day, I finished This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay and I was sad to finish it because I bloody loved it! I won’t spoil it for you, but I will advise that there are some parts you really shouldn’t read in public unless you want some funny looks when you’re laughing your arse off! Adam is coming to Waterstone’s Deansgate on 27th October to talk about his book, so I got myself a ticket for that event, and I shall bring my copy with me for him to sign. This also gives you lucky blog followers another book event to read about later this month, lol! Don’t say I never give you ‘owt!

Current reads October 2017

Well, we’ve dealt with the book club book, and you know about my e-book – that one’s for match days and our next home games are not until the end of this month, so there won’t be further progress on Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows until the Spurs match, and then the Champions League home game vs Benfica on Halloween.

On the grounds that I am exactly halfway through it, the Bill Bryson tour of Europe that is Neither Here Nor There makes my photo arrangement. While I’d scrapped the Ongoing Concerns list, essentially, it seemed unfair to Bryson to forget about that one given the significant progress made with it. Also, On Writing by Stephen King will be continued. Manchester England makes the list on the grounds that I am 17% of the way through it and I DID say I was going to resume it this year due to what happened here in May at the Arena. I will be using my “And the bees still buzz” bookmark in that one, as I said in previous blogs this summer.

So, that leaves Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which I have had for some time now and I must have bought in the first place due to the promising blurb on the back of it which mentioned that there are a lot of 80s references in it, so I thought I should give it a go. The author himself is only a year older than I am, a 1972 baby as opposed to 1973, and thus the creator of the OASIS virtual reality world which is the basis of this novel is also a 1972 baby. It definitely feels like a book for my era based on the start I have made on it. I’m more a pop music nerd than computer game geek, but I do remember some video games and stuff like that from when I was a kid – when Atari systems first came out, with games like Asteroids and Space Invaders!

By the way, when it comes to the end of this year, and I’m publishing the List Challenges list of all the books I have mentioned on these blogs during the course of 2017, it will be a pretty long list, lol! Do Not Say We Have Nothing was the 500th different book I have mentioned! If you’re like me, you prefer the longer lists on List Challenges and feel a bit short-changed if a list only has a few books on it! There will be at least 13 pages for Joanne’s Bookshelf Blogs – Books Mentioned 2017, so something to look forward to in a few months’ time!

Jane Austen tenner 2017

Just before I call it a night, I thought you might want to see one of the new £10 notes which came into circulation here last month. I know many of my followers are not on the same side of the Atlantic as myself, so you probably won’t be in possession of our new tenners with Jane Austen on them, thus I thought you might want to see one! The quote on the banknote reads “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” – I couldn’t have put it better myself, Jane!

With that in mind, I’ll get this published, and you can enjoy this helping of literary waffle! Until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
  • Blitzed – Norman Ohler
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Singh Jaswal
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • Manchester England – Dave Haslam
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

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August Review

Life without books

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

You can thank Liz Craig for the above photo – she sent it to me in FB Messenger, and it seemed right for this blog! 1st September is here, which for Potterheads means it’s that epilogue at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 19 years on… Albus Severus Potter is on platform 9 3/4 ready to head to Hogwarts…

Anyway, we’re ready to head to the review of all things bookish that went on chez moi during August 2017, and it’s been a pretty busy month, and a successful month on a lot of fronts. Let’s start with finished books from last month, and two of them came off the Ongoing Concerns list after having spent quite some time on there. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews, was finished in August, as was Periodic Tales, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams. As I read one of my niece’s books on Wednesday when we had the day trip to St Anne’s on Sea, Oi Dog! by Kes and Claire Gray and Jim Field completes the trio of books finished in August.

The Angry Chef was chosen by Anne and I at book club as we were the only two there last month – I do hope we’re going to have a better turnout this coming Wednesday! I am 53% of the way through this book, so I hope to get more finished over the weekend. Has to be said, though, that I am busy, especially with the events which unfolded since the end of July, events which mean I’m starting work on Monday!

I’d been booked onto a jobs fair in Swinton, which I attended on the last Friday in July. At this event, a lady from the local council spoke to me and asked me for 2 copies of my CV (for my transatlantic followers, I believe you call it a resumé in the States) as she said there may be some openings coming up… The following week as we head into August, I get a phone call from a lady called Gail, inviting me for an interview on Monday 7th August at Unity House, which is part of the civic centre complex in Swinton.

So I go to this interview on the Monday morning, and am interviewed by Gail, who was due to retire, and Michelle who was succeeding Gail, and that lasted around 20 minutes, and then I headed on my way to Salford for a couple of appointments, with a fairly decent feeling that “things went about as well as they could have done, although you can never be sure with interviews…”

Anyway, I’ve got time to get my lunch before my appointments, and I’m sat in KFC on Salford Precinct’s car park, having had my food, and I get a phone call, and it’s Gail calling me back to offer me the job! Chuffed to bits, to say the least! So, this month has been a bit busy with all that! I’ve had to provide references, then provide an alternative reference because one of the people I’d named was on sick leave and they needed someone else pretty quick as they were keen to get me started as soon as possible. I have also had to email scans of my passport and a bank statement for proof of ID and address, and complete and return medical forms, so there’s been a fair bit to do for me, and for them, before they could get me started. They needed to get me a staff pass, get me put on their computer systems, and that sort of stuff, plus check the things I had sent to them and make sure they were OK. However, this Tuesday just gone, I got my start date, and thus I will be back in work this coming Monday.

So, that’s work, and then there’s been the start of the new football season! 2017-18 is under way, and United’s Premier League campaign has started with us ending August top of the league with the only 100% record in the top flight! This is unusual. Normally, after only 3 matches, you’d expect about 3 or 4 clubs to have maximum points, 9 out of 9, but everyone else has dropped at least two points already, and we’re the only ones with the full 9 points. We’ve also kept 3 clean sheets, winning 4-0, 4-0 and 2-0, so you couldn’t really ask for a much better start, except to ask for better linesmen than one of the numpties we had for the Leicester match who wrongly ruled Juan Mata offside in the first half! I know I always say our players are never offside, but Juan definitely wasn’t!

The transfer window has now closed, that shut at 11pm last night, and doesn’t re-open until January, but we didn’t need to do anything on the last minute. We’d got our players, three new ones plus the re-signing of Zlatan Ibrahimović who will resume action when he’s fit again after his knee injury from last season. Still trying to decide who I want on my next United shirt, but I won’t be getting that just yet, I’ll be waiting until I’ve had at least one payday in this new job, so it might not be until October before I have to make that tricky decision, which still looks like being between Mata, Matić and Mkhitaryan at the moment! Have to say, though, that Pogba’s had a great start to this campaign so far. The signing of Matić has helped, as he is a defensive midfielder, so his job has freed up Agent Pogba to venture further forward and add to our attacking line-up. The performances have been much more like the United of old, not the tedious crap from a lot of home games last season!

Anyway, books… back to the OC List… As I have said, The Angry Chef is top of the list, with 53% read thus far, so I have read at least half of it, and am really enjoying it. Due to being busy, I might not finish it in time for book club, but I certainly want to finish it. With two books having come off the OC list last month, Manchester England, by Dave Haslam, has been put on the list for the purposes of resuming this book which I started years ago. There was also a vacancy for a YA novel, and Dead Ends, by Erin Lange, filled that position.

Went a bit mad yesterday, actually. Unlike the footy, there are no deadlines for books unless they are library books, lol, but I thought I’d have my own “transfer activity” on transfer deadline day, seeing as United wouldn’t be farting around on the last minute, lmao, and I had a bit of a clear-out come book replacement session, giving two batches of books away, one to a cafe in Eccles, and the other to a charity shop in Swinton. The piles of books you can see in the photos are those I gave away. The latte in the first photo is a giveaway that those books went to the cafe. So, I cleared out 21 books in total. However, I did acquire quite a lot of replacements, and ended the day with 15 “new” items of reading matter, 11 from Eccles, 4 from Swinton. I say new in speech marks as many of them were second-hand apart from a couple of the books in Swinton, but they’re all new to my considerable collection!

Books acquired 31st August 2017

These are the books I ended up bringing home. August has been a mad month for books, though, as this batch of 15 just adds to the book buying I did last month. There have been a lot of purchases! A lot of them are charity shop books, though, so it’s not like I’m paying full RRP on that many of them. Occasionally there have been some freebies, plus the odd one or two ridiculously cheap ones, such as The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness, one of the 15 from yesterday, which set me back all of 20p! Mind you, even that is “pricey” compared to The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, which was a mere 10p! The freebies were the two by Erica James, The Dandelion Years, and Summer at the Lake, plus Summer Loving, by Allie Spencer.

The two Erica James books were from the Malaga Drift cafe, but I had given them ten of my books, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable that I left the cafe with two books from their bookshelf. The other freebie was from the Charities 2gether in Salford shop in Eccles precinct, as they’d not managed to sell it and it had been on the shelf for ages, so I think the bloke was happy to see anyone take an interest in it!

Amongst the many books acquired this month, there have been a few which I’d been keen to get for some time. Brilliant Orange, by David Winner, about the Dutch national football team was one of those books, plus The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald, and 13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson. Nice when you can get your mitts on a book you’ve had your eye on for a while, isn’t it?! Anyway, that about brings us to the end of this review for August! I am not listing all those books in the photos, not in this blog, it would take forever – you’ll just have to look at the photos. If you want to know what any of them are, just ask!

Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J. K. Rowling
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Oi Dog! – Kes & Claire Gray and Jim Field
  • The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • Dead Ends – Erin Lange
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • The Dandelion Years – Erica James
  • Summer At the Lake – Erica James
  • Summer Loving – Allie Spencer
  • Brilliant Orange – David Winner
  • The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson

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