Category Archives: British Weather

Beach Huts, Angry Chefs, and Bargain Books!

Coffee cake and books August 2017

Coffee, cream cake, and bargain books…

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

* does celebratory Mobot *

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

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

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

Hit the Hut 3

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

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

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

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

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

Charity shop bargains August 2017

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

1 Comment

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

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

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

A Sense of Completion

MUFC Europa League Winners 2017

Mission Accomplished: European Silverware and Goodreads Challenge…

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

Leave a comment

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

Books, Weather and Other Easter Eggstras…

Book club book April 2017

The new Book Club reading matter…

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Back again with another blog as we head into the Easter holidays, and also following on from the fact I was at my book club the other night, so we will be reading The Tobacconist, by Robert Seethaler, for our next meeting, which will be on 18th May.

We are now into the early moments of Friday, 14th April 2017, thus it is 9 years to the day that I created my book group on Facebook! I’d Spend All Day In Waterstone’s If I Could Get Away With It! If you are on Facebook and fancy joining, feel free to put in a joining request. I vet profiles to see how much of a bookworm anyone is, but I imagine I should see  plenty of evidence from any of you who follow my book blog. We stay pretty much on topic with posts about books and the world of literature and literacy, and I don’t tolerate spammers – I boot those out at the earliest opportunity if and when we have any, so you won’t have to worry too much about irrelevant posts on the group.

This is why I much prefer groups to pages on Facebook! Groups are far easier to police. Pages can be a free-for-all at times, with any Tom, Dick and Harry claiming to “like” them, but then proceeding to post a load of rubbish on them; spam, clickbait and other irrelevant shite! I’ve unliked and unfollowed several pages in recent times because I got fed up of them being targeted with spam and clickbait, and I was left wondering if those pages actually had any Admins, because they were bloody useless if they did!

Even less use than the proverbial chocolate teapot. At least you could eat one of those!

Anyway, never mind the spammers and the useless admins, let’s get back to books, with Zlatan now heading the OC list and up to 84% read! Woo hoo! The People’s Songs, by Stuart Maconie, is at 42% so I’ll be looking to get that to at least the halfway mark in the next day or so. Really enjoying that one. Of the newer additions to the list, The Tobacconist is already at 13%, with City of Bones not far behind on 12%, although I expect the Seethaler novel to progress quicker as it’s a shorter book, and it has priority because it’s a book club book.

I’ll be looking to get Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s autobiography read, and then passed on to my sister who was first to put her request in. The Tobacconist is a relatively short read, as was the previous book club book, so I’m hoping that I will get that read fairly quickly in plenty of time for the next book club, and then I can get on with other books. I’ll have to give serious thought to what I am taking with me to read when I do my jury service – may well need something chunky, lol!

Another-Crappy-Weather-Forecast-YouTube

“And to summarise the Easter Bank Holiday weather, I’d say it’s a good opportunity to stay in with a good book or two…”

Yeah, that looks pretty much like typical British weather for a bank holiday, and we have two of those over Easter, Good Friday, which we’re in to now, and then Easter Monday, so get the kettle on, make a brew, and sit down with a good book, and some hot cross buns or Easter eggs as well! Here’s a bit more weather advice from me…

Rain: Too wet to go out, so stay indoors and read a book!

Snow: Too cold, and also wet, to go out, so stay in with a hot drink and read a book!

Gale force winds: Don’t get blown away! Stay indoors and read a book!

Hot and sunny (very rare for the UK, lol): Go outdoors and read a book!

Hope that advice helps!

Couple of old photos of me reading outside, there! Both from 2008, although one of them was from when I was on holiday in Italy, which would definitely explain the nice weather! We must have been having a nice day back home for the other photo, though, lol, as I was outside in our garden, having a brew and a read! In the photo taken at home, my book is War and Peace, and the holiday reading was The Engineer of Human Souls, by Josef Skvorecky, a Czech author whose works I was introduced to by David Hunt on Facebook. He also introduced me to Bohumil Hrabal, and I’ve read a few of his books since, including Too Loud a Solitude, Closely Watched Trains, I Served The King of England, and Dancing Lessons For the Advanced in Age. If I forgot to mention Hrabal a few months ago, when I was listing authors by whom I’ve read more than one book, that would be an oversight, given I’ve read a few of his! They’re fairly short, so make for good quick reads.

Me at Easter in the 70s

Anyway, as we’re heading towards Easter, and I’m posting some old photos of yours truly, I shall leave you with this one to enjoy, from an Easter years ago. I look about 4 so it could well be 40 years ago in 1977! Not got my specs on, so I probably was just about four or almost four. I wasn’t really convinced enough to wear my specs until I actually started school, which was in the September of that year. Children’s books usually have large-print text anyway, so I probably could read them pretty well without glasses. Can’t see any books on the table, but I am clearly enjoying a few Easter eggs. I’ve always been a chocoholic, just as much as I’ve always been a bookworm!

Actually, before I was convinced enough of my need for specs, I used to wear them on top of my head, copying my paternal grandad, the late Dennis Dixon-Jackson! Even though I didn’t see Nana and Grandad D-J as often as I saw Grandma and Grandad Bacon, Grandad D-J had clearly influenced my earliest style of spectacle-wearing, lol! I actually became quite possessive of my specs once I did see the point of them, and didn’t see the point of anyone else wanting to try them on as they were made to my prescription, so other kids would just think things looked very odd through them!

That probably is about all for now, so I shall get this published and wish you all a Happy Easter! Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović – Zlatan Ibrahimović
  • The People’s Songs – Stuart Maconie
  • City of Bones – Cassandra Clare
  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  • The Engineer of Human Souls – Josef Skvorecky
  • Too Loud a Solitude – Bohumil Hrabal
  • Closely Watched Trains – Bohumil Hrabal
  • I Served The King of England – Bohumil Hrabal
  • Dancing Lessons For the Advanced in Age – Bohumil Hrabal

Leave a comment

Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, British Weather, Childrens' Books, European Literature, Facebook & Other Social Media, Handbag Books, Ongoing Concerns, Rants, Travel, Weather

February Review

Natural Born Bookworm!

I Read Therefore I Am!

Hello, again, fellow Bookworms!

Two months of 2017 done and dusted already! Can you believe it?! February has been a very busy, eventful month with plenty of blogs, so it was little wonder I notched up my 100th book blog during the course of this month, and celebrated by listing all the books I’d mentioned in one huge list on List Challenges! It came to 500 books!

The Goodreads Challenge is well on track, and I have now completed 10 books so far this year, adding another five to the five I’d read by the end of January. Jamrach’s Menagerie, by Carol Birch, finally came off the Half-Read Books list, although there are still plenty more of those which need finishing off. My next finish was pretty short – Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, meaning he can now be added to the list of authors of whose works I’ve read more than one!

I Know This Much, the autobiography of Gary Kemp, Spandau Ballet’s guitarist, was next over the finishing line, as I read that in time to return it to my friend Sarah before we went to see the Pet Shop Boys in concert on 19th February. It had been one of two books she lent me, but I’d read the other one last year.

In the spirit of finally getting around to reading books which I’ve had for absolutely ages, and in a spirit of rebellion against this notion that dystopian novels are the way to go right now, I decided what I needed most from my reading matter was humour! There is far too much gloomy shit going on in real life – the last bloody thing I need is the likes of Orwell, thank you very much! So, I went with Tony Hawks and I was so glad I did – Round Ireland With a Fridge is absolutely brilliant! VERY funny and exactly what I needed!

There have been a few rants. As you can tell from the above paragraph, one of them was about my need to put my mental health first and speak out against a lot of bullshit which does the rounds these days, such as “self-help” and “advice” from so-called life coaches. The other main rant was my periodic insistence that the most important thing about books is their content, NOT what the author looks like! The only thing you need to differentiate between is fiction and non-fiction, NOT between male and female authors!

Oh, and I also had a bit of an incident when my books got all excited and toppled over! Two piles of books fell down when Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored United’s opening goal away to Leicester City! Pleased to report, though, that this seems to have been a one-off occurrence, and that my books have since managed to remain calm despite further United goals and our EFL Cup victory against Southampton at Wembley on Sunday! No books fell over while I was down at the cup final, I’m pleased to report! It brings us on to our final finished book for February, that being Premier League Years 1992/93 by Andrew Hyslop, which I started reading on my Kindle on the way home from Wembley, and I finished reading it yesterday evening!

Just been enjoying some yummy pancakes! Yay for Pancake Day – that one day of the year when you can say someone is a complete tosser and mean it as a compliment, lol! My mum makes awesome pancakes, I think my blog readers ought to know this information, just as much as they ought to know that I have now added a sixth book to my read list for this month, and thus an 11th book overall, as I have read The Book With No Pictures, by B. J. Novak. I’d seen it mentioned on Facebook the other day, and I shared it to my book group on FB. My sister saw my post and it turns out that my niece, Charlotte, has that book, and they’d brought it round for me to read when I got back from my placement this evening! Very funny!

So, those are the finished books this month, now onto the ongoing concerns and new additions to the ongoing concerns! The two chunky ones are The Saffron Trail, by Rosanna Ley, and An Equal Music, by Vikram Seth, and I’m just over halfway in both books now. Then comes I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and I am also just over halfway through our Swedish striker’s autobiography.

The recent additions are The Pie At Night, by Stuart Maconie, and Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella, from which the main protagonist’s mum has gone on the Literary Slap List for being a Daily Fail reader! I’d finished Round Ireland With a Fridge before I went to Wembley, so I needed to add a fresh book to the list of ongoing concerns, and put it to the vote here and on Facebook, with the Maconie book enjoying a narrow victory, rather like the one United enjoyed over Southampton at Wembley, really, lol!

Finding Audrey was found at W H Smith’s when I was at Wythenshawe Hospital last week, visiting my dad. He had a heart attack on 16th February, and had a double bypass op on 23rd, from which he is now recovering well. He is still in hospital at present. It’s a Young Adult novel, but I don’t mind a bit of YA, as regular blog readers will know!

Talking of which, my readership has increased significantly during the course of this month and, at the last count, I had 37 people who follow my book blog, so many thanks to all of you who have chosen to risk it for a biscuit, lol! It is much appreciated!

I simply started blogging in 2010 just for fun, for my own amusement, but it seems others enjoy at least some of my waffle! I’m not Nick Hornby, I’m not blogging for a publication, so I take a leaf out of Frank Sinatra’s book and do it my way! I rant, I let off steam, especially if I think some people are putting many others off reading, I waffle on and on, I go off at tangents, and I often bring football and music into it, but there’s at least a book or two in there somewhere! Often quite a lot of books are mentioned, but there’s usually at least two, even during that time in 2011 when there was rioting and looting on the news and I quoted the manager of a branch of Waterstone’s down in London who said they were staying open and added “If they steal any books, they might actually learn something”!

Well, this is the last day of February, and it’s been a bit mad! Had snow this morning when I was getting ready to head to Eccles, and I have found out, this evening, that Mount Etna is erupting again – I’ve had an interest in volcanoes since I was about 7 or 8, and visited Mount Etna in 2001 when Mum and I were on holiday. We were in Malta on our jollies, but we had a day trip to Sicily and stood on Etna’s slopes. A fortnight later, she burst into lava-spewing life, producing one of the biggest eruptions she’d had in quite some time!

You can blame my dad for my interest in volcanoes, lol! It’s his fault, well to be fair, I think the Open University should take its fair share of responsibility, as it was one of their programmes Dad was watching late one night when I was a kid, and he let me come down to watch because he thought it’d interest me. I’ve read a few books about volcanoes, and have an absolutely MASSIVE book about them – mostly photographic but it does have some writing. This book is so damn big that it is under our coffee table in the living room as it’s the only bloody place it would fit! It’s simply called Volcanoes, and is by Philippe Bourseiller and Jacques Durieux.

Anyway, enough about volcanoes, it’s time I got this blog finished off and published! Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch
  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • I Know This Much: From Soho To Spandau – Gary Kemp
  • Round Ireland With a Fridge – Tony Hawks
  • Premier League Years 1992/93 – Andrew Hyslop
  • The Book With No Pictures – B. J. Novak
  • The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • The Pie At Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • Volcanoes – Philippe Bourseiller and Jacques Durieux

Leave a comment

Filed under Arsehole Politicians, Autobiography/Biography, Books, British Weather, Childrens' Books, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Humour, Junior Bookworms, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Literary Slap List, Month in Review, Music, Rants, Television, Travel, Volcanoes, YA Books

Take a Chill Pill, Doris!

storm-doris-weather-map

I’d put your Big Coat on if I were you…

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

You’ll be pleased to learn that I am still here! Well, you should be pleased to learn that, lol, given that I had to put my Big Coat on and venture out to Eccles earlier today, braving all that Storm Doris could throw at me! Thankfully, she didn’t actually throw anything at me personally, but it was pretty damn windy and I saw at least one small tree which had been blown down. That Doris is bloody wild, and she needs to take a chill pill and sit down with a cuppa and a good book!

Actually, I’m the one sitting down with a mug of tea and a good book or two! Well, I’ve got my brew, and I’m at my computer, and I’m about to blog about books once I finish ranting about our “lovely” British weather! I know it’s February, but there really is NO need for it to be that bad! I imagine the Shipping Forecast is a bit wild today – I bet Charlie Connelly would be glad he’s not writing Attention All Shipping now and having to brave any waters around the UK, particularly here in the north-west! I predict the Irish Sea will be as rough as a badger’s arse – it is pretty damn rough at the best of times, I’ve had some infamous ferry crossings in my younger days, which I am in no hurry to repeat!

Something I WILL be repeating later this year is going to see the Pet Shop Boys! Not only did Sarah and I enjoy a fantastic gig at the Manchester Arena on Sunday night, but her birthday pressie to me (for my forthcoming 44th birthday in April) is a ticket to see Neil & Chris again on 21st June in Blackpool! She is still reading Not Dead Yet, by Phil Collins, but will pass it on to me later this year once she has read it. Going back to Messrs Tennant and Lowe, I kinda gradually became a Pethead during the course of 1987, so by the end of this year, I will have been a PSB fan for 30 years! No, I can’t believe it, either! I can’t believe 1987 is so long ago!

Around the mid 80s, when I was 12 or 13, I really couldn’t give a toss who sung any particular record. I didn’t have a favourite band or singer, I just liked a lot of stuff in the charts and didn’t care who it was by. In the autumn of 1986, I absolutely adored “Suburbia”, but kept forgetting to tape it off the charts when I listened to the Top 40 on a Sunday evening, and I’d probably had to spend my pocket money on a birthday pressie for my dad, whose birthday is in September, so I guess I was skint, as per usual, lol, and thus couldn’t afford to pop to Play Inn, the record shop in Eccles, and buy the song on 7″ single.

The following summer, when “It’s A Sin” was number 1, my sister bought that record, and it was then that I discovered that it was that same duo who’d been responsible for “Suburbia” the previous year, so that’s probably when I started to become a fan, and so started the process which led to me being a Pethead, which I have now been for three decades!

Anyroad, back to the reading matter…

books-in-progress-feb-2017

Most of those are ongoing concerns, with the exception of The President’s Hat, by Antoine Laurain, which was a former book club choice from a few years ago, which actually came with its own detachable bookmark! It is a partially-read book which had been in one of my containers for a while, but I thought I would dig it out again and perhaps continue with it, maybe once I’d finished with Mr Hawks and his travels around the Emerald Isle with a domestic appliance in tow… I have fewer than 100 pages to go now in Round Ireland With a Fridge, so it may well be read before I head to Wembley on Sunday for the League Cup Final between Manchester United and Southampton. I’m on page 150 of 248, so, yes, not all that much more to read. Pretty decent bet that this will be the next book I finish this year, my 9th on the Goodreads Challenge for 2017!

As detailed the other day, I’m on page 44 of Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella, but I only acquired that one on Tuesday when I was visiting my dad in hospital. He’s had his double bypass operation today, by the way, and will be in intensive care for a few days, probably brought out of controlled coma over the weekend. Page 44 out of 280 is 16% of the book, though, so it’s a decent start!

I’m on page 177, the start of chapter 14, in I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 53% of the way through, so in footballing terms, we’d be talking early minutes of the second half, lol! Zlatan is coming to Wembley with me, as you’d imagine. I’m also hoping the man himself is going to score at Wembley during the course of the match!

Now we come on to our chunkier books in my list of ongoing concerns… An Equal Music, and The Saffron Trail. I am on page 222 of An Equal Music, part-way through part 4 of the Vikram Seth novel, 46% of that read, so probably time I got that to at least the halfway point! I’m on page 295 of The Saffron Trail, start of chapter 29, which is apparently 55% of the way through Rosanna Ley’s novel.

I keep thinking perhaps I should start The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, or perhaps The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton, but both are big hardbacks, so neither of them would ever be a Handbag Book! No way would either of them come to Wembley with me, for instance! The Night Circus was a charity shop bargain, as I think I said before, a mere quid from the British Heart Foundation shop in Salford, and The Miniaturist was a freebie from book club a few years ago, and is now signed by Jessie Burton, as I met her last year at Waterstone’s on Deansgate when she came to talk about The Muse, thus I bought that and had it signed, too, but her debut novel had been a freebie in my case!

I’m off to weigh up my options for what to read next, particularly once I’ve finished with Mr Hawks and his progress around Ireland with his fridge, lol, so until the next time I blog, take care, don’t get blown away by Doris, and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • The President’s Hat – Antoine Laurain
  • Round Ireland With A Fridge – Tony Hawks
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley
  • The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • The Muse – Jessie Burton

1 Comment

Filed under Books, British Weather, Charity Shop Bargains, European Literature, Football, Foreign Languages, Free Books, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Music, Travel, Weather