Category Archives: British Weather

Floating Islands and Local Plays By Local People!

.Floating Island dessert Mauritius 2019

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

That dessert in the photo is the Floating Island I mentioned in my last blog. Mum and I had these at Ponte Vecchio on our first full day at our resort in Mauritius. The usual Grand Port buffet restaurant needed to be closed for some reason, so they opened up the Italian restaurant for lunch, and Mum and I had a lovely meal there, especially this dessert. However, that meant we wanted this dessert again, but it wasn’t on their evening menu, and led to this, which would not be out of place as a Monty Python sketch…

Mum: We would like the Floating Island, please.

Waiter: I’m very sorry, that’s only on our lunch menu.

Mum: When are you open for lunch?

Waiter: We’re not.

See what I mean?! Don’t get me wrong, we did enjoy our accommodation for the most part, but there were some areas for improvement on their part! So, I still think, of all the jollies I’ve ever been on, the El Dorado Seaside Suites on the Riviera Maya in Mexico still tops the list. That’s where we went in 2013, as you may recall, as part of my 40th birthday celebrations that year. I certainly think, for free onsite activities, the Shandrani has plenty going for it. The setting is beautiful too. We were there in their winter, as it’s in the southern hemisphere, so there were some issues with finding one of the restaurants, Le Sirius, when some of the lamps had their timings wrong and were off when it was dark. As I said, I would tell them, if they ask, that we enjoyed it on the whole, but I would give some constructive criticism around areas which need improving.

I did like the Beachcomber travel wallet we got before we went on the holiday, though. That was a lovely touch when our documents came with about a fortnight to go before the hols. I will be using that for future holidays for tickets and stuff!

Let’s get on with some book stuff now, and we can return to jollies later. Sock, from the Object Lessons series, is still an ongoing concern. I get bits read when I’m on my lunch at work. They are only short books, though, so they don’t take too long to read. As the book talks about socks and other similar items of footwear and foot wrapping, it also mentions puttees, which, for me, was a reminder of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. I was reading that back in the day, back in the 1990s, and got halfway through it, my bookmark is still in there between pages 206 and 207, but I don’t know what happened, perhaps I got distracted by other things and haven’t finished it off. I should do, but part of me wonders if I need to re-read up to that point to refresh myself of what happened, as it’s been a bloody long time!

As I recall, I was enjoying it at the time, although I had to look a lot of things up, especially Greek words! I have been to a couple of Greek islands since then, though, so that may help, although I’ve not been to Kefalonia, which is where this novel is actually set. I have been to Santorini, which is beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone, and also to Kos for the day when we were on holiday in Turkey. The novel was hugely popular back then, seemed like everyone was reading it at that time! It appealed to me on the music front.

As we’re on books I’ve had for ages, here we have one that I’ve had for quite some time, although not as long as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Have any of you read this one?

English Passengers Matthew Kneale

We have English Passengers, by Matthew Kneale. Published in 2000, so it’s more recent, only 19 years old, lol, and I’m not sure I’ve had it a full 19 years. On the back of my copy is a price sticker for £1.00, so I got it from a charity shop when I bought it, I didn’t pay the full £8.99 that was the RRP when it came out and is stated on the back of the book. Obviously, something appealed to me at the time when I bought it, but it has been around amongst my TBR Library for some time and has not yet been read. OK, the same can be said of a lot of books, lmao, but for some reason, this one does keep catching my eye and sticks out as a Book I’ve Had For Donkey’s Years But Not Read Yet!

I’ve still not read any fiction this year, just been poetry and non-fiction, but I went back to the staff book club at work the other day, and our next book is actually a play, so we have drama on the cards here!

The last time I studied a play, I was at university, so it’s a pretty long time ago as I graduated 25 years ago! My final year dissertation was about plays, as it was on the theme of lies and liars in the plays of Henrik Ibsen. I know two of the three plays I based my thesis on were A Doll’s House and The Pillars of Society. I think the other one may have been The Wild Duck.

However, the book club reading matter is rather closer to home. In fact, I doubt it could be any more local than A Taste of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney! Delaney wrote this play when she was only 19 years old. She was from Salford, from the Broughton area, and the play is also set here. I know this might make me sound like those two weirdo shopkeepers from The League of Gentlemen, but A Taste of Honey really is a local play by a local person! I may even see if there’s any performances on YouTube as I think you really need to see a performance if you’re studying a play. It does help. You are reading something which is meant to be acted out.

Just pulled a book out of my purple Kipling bag. All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. I had started reading that last year, given that 2018 was 100 years since the end of the First World War. I got myself a new handbag though, so changed over to that mostly. My current bag fits the Object Lessons books, but I would need to go back to bigger handbags, really to start having Handbag Books again, or take them with me in an extra bag. That has been known. Maybe I should start a Backpack Books list? I have a Hogwarts backpack that I bought myself not long ago for the trip up to North Shields with Salford Steel, so sometimes I take that with me to places as well as my handbag, and there are often books in my backpack! Sometimes I set off with them, sometimes I come home with them!

Just how bloody hot was it on Thursday?! It was crazy! I would love to know what temperatures it reached in Salford and Manchester on Thursday, because it was still bloody boiling even in the evening! After work, I went into town for an event organised by Cruse – UK readers may know of Cruse, they’re an organisation who provide bereavement support, and this was a group for adults who have lost a parent. The meet up was at Manchester Central Library, and by the time it was over, I came out of the library around quarter to eight in the evening and it was still absolutely boiling! Then I crossed the tram lines and went to Wagamama to eat. Came out of there around an hour later… still pretty damn warm! Quarter to nine at night and still ridiculous temperatures! If it weren’t for the familiar surroundings, I would have questioned if I was in Manchester! Perhaps it was a parallel Manchester, but with hot weather?! It certainly wasn’t the usual weather for my neck of the woods, lol!

When I had got to town from Swinton on the bus, I had time for a quick visit to Waterstone’s before heading to the event, and purchased a copy of A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole – the edition with the red cover and yellow hot dogs on it – I love that cover, and believe the book is meant to be very funny. If I am going to get back into fiction, I think I want something that’s going to give me a good laugh! Actually, when I looked it up on Amazon just now, there was a glowing review of it by Sir Billy Connolly, who said it was his favourite book of all time, and I think you all know I’ve been a big fan of the Big Yin for donkey’s years! My all-time favourite comedian.

I have actually got his Made in Scotland book, which I started a while ago, so I can continue with that, but that’s not fiction, so wouldn’t get me back into made up stuff.

On the List Challenges list for this blog, I now have 82 different books listed for the things I’ve mentioned so far this year on my blogs, which means we’re into our third page in terms of published lists. When a list is published, there are 40 items to a page. Given that I didn’t start blogging this year until April, that’s not too bad, really. This list is going to be shorter than usual, I suspect, but probably as random as ever! We have poetry, plays, books about the art of not giving a f**k, children’s books, historical fiction, science fiction, books about medical conditions and disabilities, autobiographies, object lessons, travel, and books about books! Bit of young adult, too. My lists have a lot of random stuff on them. I am a very random person. You might have noticed, lol!

You may recall from previous blogs, way back in 2012, after the London Olympics and Paralympics, that I put a photo up of me with a gold postbox. I think I did, anyway. Royal Mail painted postboxes gold up and down the UK in places of significance relating to athletes who won gold for Great Britain in those home Games, and we have one in Salford in honour of Dame Sarah Storey, the cyclist who won multiple golds in the Paralympics that summer. I think she won 4 golds if I remember rightly.

Anyway, Royal Mail have now painted some other postboxes white with cricket bats and stumps to celebrate England’s victories in the Cricket World Cups for our women’s team in 2017 and our men’s team this year, and as Old Trafford, Lancashire’s ground, was a host venue, there is a celebratory postbox in town. Possibly there isn’t a postbox near the cricket ground itself, maybe there is, but there is now a cricket-themed postbox in town and I saw it on Thursday night, so I thought you might like to see it. I’ve only read one book that’s cricket-related, but that was the hilarious Penguins Stopped Play, by Harry Thompson! I definitely recommend it. Even if you’re not into cricket, it is so funny! It is on my list of books which made me laugh my arse off while reading them!

Another funny book I can recommend, one that I read a couple of years ago now, is Round Ireland With a Fridge, by Tony Hawks. I remembered it again recently because of Mr Hawks’ previous claim to fame before he became a published writer… as a pop star, albeit a one hit wonder. He and a couple of mates teamed up in the late eighties and, under the name of Morris Minor and the Majors, reached number 4 in the UK singles charts in early 1988 with a comedy rap hit called Stutter Rap (No Sleep ‘Til Bedtime), a send-up of the likes of the Beastie Boys who were hugely popular back in 1987-88! As BBC4 shows old Top of the Pops on Friday nights, they’d got to the stage where it was late 1987 and early 1988, and this song was being performed on the show on some of the TOTPs that I had recorded and watched on my Sky+ box, and that reminded me that this was the first bit of fame enjoyed by Tony Hawks before his writing career!

Incidentally, BBC4 are now up to April 1988 in terms of Top of the Pops, and thus Heart by the Pet Shop Boys is number 1, so I was a very happy bunny watching it last night! The main reason I was particularly keen on watching the shows from December 1987 and into January 1988 was that Always On My Mind was number 1 for four weeks, so I was basically watching those shows because of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe! There were other good tunes as well, including Stutter Rap, which was quite witty for a daft novelty record, but I admit I was watching because I’m a PSB fan!

So, what other things have I bought recently on the book front? There’s Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch, and the much talked-about Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. Feels like every book group on Facebook mentions that novel! Perhaps I should see what it’s like? I’m not really one for much talked about books, but then a lot of those seem to be crime thrillers, so that’s not really my genre anyway. This seems a bit more general fiction even if there is crime and mystery in it.

Wonder what the Booker Prize nominations are for this year? I tend to find winners of such prizes off-putting. I did enjoy Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, but I’ve attempted one or two others that have won the Booker Prize, and didn’t get very far with them. Found myself plodding and wondering if the plot was going to get moving at all! It was The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, that I found hard-going, and I did swap my original copy at a pub restaurant some years ago in exchange for Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, which I loved! I did get another copy of The Luminaries, though, thinking I might try it again, as I was having a book slump at the time we attempted it for our book group.

Well, the list on List Challenges is now up to 89 books, lol! I think that’s about it for now! More about books, holidays and other waffle coming soon, but until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Sock – Kim Adrian
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières
  • English Passengers – Matthew Kneale
  • A Doll’s House – Henrik Ibsen
  • The Pillars of Society – Henrik Ibsen
  • The Wild Duck – Henrik Ibsen
  • A Taste of Honey – Shelagh Delaney
  • All Quiet On the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  • A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
  • Made in Scotland – Sir Billy Connolly
  • Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson
  • Round Ireland With a Fridge – Tony Hawks
  • Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch
  • Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  • The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
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Filed under Books, British Weather, Charity Shop Bargains, Facebook & Other Social Media, Foreign Languages, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Music, Non-Fiction, Object Lessons, Olympic Games, Ongoing Concerns, Plays, Sports, Television, The TBR Pile, Travel, Weather

Greetings from the Costa del Salford!

Costa del Salford 23rd July 2019

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

It’s a hot one alright! That was earlier on when I was on Swinton Precinct having an iced coffee in Costa after work. Hence Costa del Salford is a particularly apt pun! I need to try to catch up on stuff I’ve not blogged about yet, and I last blogged at the end of May, before I did one to Mauritius on my jollies! I will probably have to work things in over a number of blogs, but we might as well start now. I will still get book-related stuff mentioned, and I did get some reading done while I was on my hols, so we can start on that.

I finished Ole, by Ian MacLeay, while I was in Mauritius, and passed it over to Mum to read, so she’s on that one. I also started on Luggage, from the Object Lessons series, by Susan Harlan, while I was on holiday, as it seemed apt to read about luggage on one’s jollies! You will be hearing so much about these books, as I absolutely love them! There may be one or two which wouldn’t really be relevant to me, but a lot of them are of interest. I have found a large selection of them in the Popular Science section of the Deansgate branch of Waterstone’s, but there are so many of them, and I have also bought some online as they interested me but the Deansgate store didn’t have those particular books.

Since coming home from my jollies, I’ve polished off two more Object Lessons books, those being Personal Stereo, by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, and Bookshelf, by Lydia Pyne. I have now decided upon Sock, by Kim Adrian as my fifth OL book. Yeah, here we are in a heatwave, and I’m reading about socks, lol!

Holiday was absolutely awesome, although it did have its dodgy moments. Tip to any readers of this blog if you’re ever at the Shandrani Beachcomber Resort and Spa in Mauritius… If you have a ground floor room, and you’re near the beach, make sure you turn the light off for outside your room at night! You might find that, when you’ve come back from your evening meal, the staff who have come to turn down your bed covers may have turned the patio light on… Turn it OFF! You do NOT want uninvited knobheads, who may well have been beach sellers, having a party outside your room at stupid o’clock in the morning! We were woken up by these idiots at around 2:30am on the first Friday we were there, a few days into our jollies. Even though the windows were shut, the music was loud, and one of them was smoking and the smell did waft into the room, and I ABSOLUTELY HATE THAT SMELL!!! I’ve hated it pretty much all my life, can’t stand it, it makes me feel sick! I have actually been known to throw up because of people smoking near me, so I find it really revolting.

We had to call security twice before, eventually, someone came to tell them a complaint had been made. Even then, they hung around for another ten minutes before they buggered off. Just glad we didn’t have any excursions booked that day, as our sleep had been interrupted. We felt the hotel really could and should have done more to make up for this experience. Also, they need to up their game on the dining front. To be a truly top hotel, nothing should be too much for them to do, no customer request should be too difficult, especially something like making us a dessert from a different menu… We had an experience that would not have been out of place as a Monty Python sketch! I might actually save that for another blog, though. Let’s just say it was a bit of a farce!

They did have a bookshelf so people could borrow or swap books, but the thing was that there weren’t that many in English while I was there. I did consider a couple of books, but when I looked them up, both of them were about the third book in a particular series! If they’d been the first book in the series, I would definitely have considered them, but it’s a bit silly when it’s not. I really could have done with either a stand alone book, or the start of a series. The first of these third books, if you get my drift, was The Lords of the North, by Bernard Cornwell, and the other was Fire and Sword, by Simon Scarrow. Both would have been historical fiction, which I am partial to when I’m in the mood for fiction, although I’m more into factual stuff at the moment.

When we came home, we had Mum’s 70th birthday that weekend, and the following weekend we were on a stall at St Thomas’ church fair, and then I had my trip to Geordieland with Salford Steel as we went to the Steel Band Festival in North Shields, so it’s been all go really! Just had my niece’s birthday, too! Junior Bookworm is now 9 years old! Thus it’s all been a bit mad and I’ve been thinking “should I blog?” and then deciding against it, but I really do need to get some stuff typed up and photos put on from various events. Might get some time for that this weekend.

So, I’ve got Mauritius, I’ve got London and I’ve got North Shields to waffle on about and also mention some books, lol! Well, I’ve bought books, anyway, and I have read a few of them. If they’re non-fiction, that is. Non-fiction gets me out of slumps, and I’d been in one of those between November and April, as I’d mentioned in previous blogs. Well, it started as a book slump, but obviously then turned into bereavement after Dad died in January, so books were a bit of an afterthought for a while and I only started bothering again just before my birthday.

Ooh. A numpty! Sorry, just had notification from Farcebook that someone wants to join the United group of which I am one of the admins, and the daft nelly hasn’t answered the damn joining questions! Ever since FB started letting admins ask questions to potential members, the other admins agreed to my idea that we should have a mini quiz to see if they know their history of the club. It has been a really good way of filtering out unsuitable people! So many of them can’t even be arsed answering the questions, so we give them an hour or so, and then we block them from being able to try again. If they do answer the questions, most of them get them wrong, so, again, bye bye! I think, in the time since we’ve started asking questions, we’ve actually had to vet all of two profiles for member suitability! And one of those turned out to like other clubs in their likes, including some of our rivals, so that was him blocked as well! We have let in one new member since we started asking questions! Got the questions right, and their profile showed they were a proper Red with no other reasons not to admit.

We used to get lots of people asking sometimes, especially just before a really big match, right bunch of bandwagon-jumpers, and as we would go through their profiles quite thoroughly to see if they were a proper supporter or not, and if there were any other reasons why they might not be a good member (any discriminatory attitudes towards certain people – racism, sexism, homophobia, that sort of stuff…), so as you can imagine, it used to take us Admins quite a while if we had a lot of people to vet, and it was a bit of a chore. When the questions became possible, it made things much quicker. If you don’t do as we ask, that’s it! You’re not coming in! Do one!

We will post stuff, and so will others, when there’s relevant factual stuff to post… starting line-ups on match days, goals, half-time and full-time scores, transfer news during the windows, if there’s any official news of signings (we don’t do rumours or gossip), and mentions of famous results on this day in history or birthdays of former or current players or managers…. you get the idea. Occasionally, we have to show a yellow card to a spammer, sometimes a red one if they’re a repeat offender or they break a more serious rule, but most of the time it’s pretty calm, unlike a few years ago when all hell used to break loose far too often! Certain trouble causers were removed around 6 years ago now, and things have been much more on an even keel since then, thankfully!

buying books and reading them

Starting to feel that way myself! I also feel that my To Be Read list (TBR) can no longer be described as a list or a pile. It would be far more accurate to describe it as a TBR Library! I am cultivating a TBR Library, fellow Bookworms! Well, OK, I’ve not really got enough bookshelves, so you’ll have to imagine it as a library setting, but I’ve certainly got the books for it to be classed as a library!

I am also pondering which book I should consider for my first fiction book in ages. So far this year, I have read non-fiction and a bit of poetry, a couple of anthologies. Not actually read anything that resembles a story, though, so far in 2019. Daisy Jones & the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid appeals to me. Looking at some more of my recent fiction purchases, we have The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch, and Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor. I think both of those are young adult fantasy novels.

I could read Half a World Away, by Mike Gayle. You may recall that I read and loved The Man I Think I Know last year after it was featured on the Zoe Ball Book Club on ITV. When I bought the new Mike Gayle novel, I also bought the new book by Brian Bilston, Diary of a Somebody. You will recall that I’ve already read You Took the Last Bus Home a few months ago, and that I’ve been enjoying his poetry on Facebook and Instagram for quite a while, but this book is kinda combination between novel and poetry. It’s written in the style of a diary with poems in it. There’s also On the Bright Side, by Hendrik Groen, the diary-writing Dutch pensioner whose debut diary I enjoyed a couple of years ago.

I do also have the entire set of the Malory Towers series! Box set of them. Got it from the book club at work a while back and it’s been sitting in a locker at work for a while, but I needed to clear out that spare locker recently, so I brought the books home. I did read some of them donkey’s years ago, when I was a kid and I was at a sports centre for one of my sister’s trampoline competitions, but it’s been a long time since then, and I only read the first few. There’s actually 12 in the series! I don’t have any qualms about reading children’s books, happy to go back and read some Enid Blyton! I’ve read a bit more Roald Dahl in recent years, too! Esio Trot, and Fantastic Mr Fox came as recommendations from my niece!

Well, time has ticked on a bit since I started this blog. Just gone 11pm here. Still bloody hot here, though! Got a fan on just outside my room, first time since last summer’s heatwave. I have plenty more material for more blogs, obviously, with things I got up to on holiday, plus the trip to London for my mum’s birthday, and the other mad stuff that has kept me busy since June! I need to tell you about the floating island farce sometime soon, lol!

Until that time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Ole – Ian MacLeay
  • Luggage – Susan Harlan
  • Personal Stereo – Rebecca Tuhus Dubrow
  • Bookshelf – Lydia Pyne
  • Sock – Kim Adrian
  • The Lords of the North – Bernard Cornwell
  • Fire and Sword – Simon Scarrow
  • Daisy Jones & the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
  • Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor
  • Half a World Away – Mike Gayle
  • The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • Diary of a Somebody – Brian Bilston
  • You Took the Last Bus Home – Brian Bilston
  • On the Bright Side – Hendrik Groen
  • Malory Towers series – Enid Blyton
  • Esio Trot – Roald Dahl
  • Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl

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Filed under Books, British Weather, Facebook & Other Social Media, Fantasy Fiction, Football, Historical Fiction, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Non-Fiction, Object Lessons, Poetry, The TBR Pile, Travel, Weather, YA Books, Zoe Ball Book Club on ITV

August Review – Books, Bees, and a Bag

Bookstore Conwy Wales 29 August 2018

Me in Hinton’s of Conwy, when I was in Wales on Wednesday.

Hello again, fellow Bookworms! Or should that be Book Dragons, given that I was in Wales a couple of days ago?!

Have had a very nice week off work to finish August. Monday was a bank holiday here, and then I have been using up annual leave for the rest of the week as I can only carry 5 days or fewer over into my new leave year which starts in September. Hence I have been out and about this week and the weather has been great! You can have some really good days out here in the UK if the weather’s not too shite (which is a technical term, as you know by now)! We’ve actually been having a decent summer this year, helped by that heatwave in July! Usually we have to go abroad for that sort of weather! Actually needing sun lotion and after-sun in this country is something of a novelty, hence many of us still go on about the Summer of 1976!

Anyway, never mind me waffling on about the weather, another month has come to an end, and therefore it’s time for the monthly review blog, and the most successful month so far this year for finishing books off, as I have finished SIX books in August! Yay! I’ve also finished off a couple of items I’ve been making on my knitting looms, so I can show you those as well! Right, all aboard for August’s Review of the Month blog… Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for books, bees, bara brith, a bag and a baby hat…

Well, August’s first two finishes were both early in the month and they were two I loved and gave 5 stars to, although they were both very different to one another. The first was Notes On a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig, and that was followed very closely by The Man I Think I Know, by Mike Gayle, both of them finished off within the space of 24 hours! I had discovered the Mike Gayle novel thanks to the Zoe Ball Book Club on her Sunday morning show on ITV, and gave it a go on the strength of that, so thank you, Zoe, for choosing that one as one of your ten books!

Back in the 90s, I used to think she was a bit annoying, actually, probably as she’d jumped on the football bandwagon without knowing her stuff and thus not helping the cause of female supporters, especially the likes of myself who want to be seen and respected as clued-up knowledgeable fans just as much as male supporters, but in recent times, with running this book club on telly, I’ve seen a different side of her. She’s a couple of years older than me, so I guess it’s that difference between being some annoying mid 20s bimbo back in the 90s, and now being middle aged, as I am myself, and obviously matured a lot!

Anyway, enough waffling on about Zoe Ball, and back to the books. Book club at Waterstone’s seems to be either dead or in intensive care, lol, although I do have one at work, despite missing the most recent meeting because I’ve been on leave all this week, but I did eventually finish Wigs On the Green, by Nancy Mitford, which I’d been up to around 75% of the way through when it was supposed to be the meeting night, only to end up sitting in the coffee shop area of Waterstone’s Deansgate for around 45 minutes on my own like Billy No-Mates, and then realising that no bugger else was going to turn up, so I might as well have a shufty, buy some books to cheer myself off, because I was a bit pissed-off to say the least, and then go for a Cheeky Nando’s before getting a tram home! As one does!

For a quick read, and I mean quick, my next finish was probably the shortest adult-orientated book I’ll have read all year, the 100 page Alan Bennett quickie, The Lady In the Van. OK, so Fantastic Mr Fox, by Roald Dahl, is probably the shortest book I’ve read this year, but that is a children’s book, so this is the shortest I’ve read which is aimed at an adult readership, and is a biography of the cantankerous old bat who lived in her clapped-out van in Alan’s front yard for quite a number of years! I guess he was a bit too kind to her in the first place and she took advantage of that and spent the rest of her life there.

Little bag finished August 2018

It was also around this time that I finished my bag. Having acquired some actual knitting looms from Abakhan Fabrics in town, I set about making some stuff, and this was my first creation. The bag itself is made on that long rectangular loom, and the handle was made by using the “knitting fork” or lucet, which you also see in the photo – that two-pronged wooden thing with the hole in it. The variegated purple bits give a bit of a contrast to the sparkly white main bit of the bag.

Me with a bee Manchester 31st August 2018

Bee In the City – Manchester, 23rd July to 23rd September 2018

I’d gone into town to do a bit of bee-spotting, because, as I have mentioned before, Bee In the City is on in Manchester, and the surrounding area, at the moment, and runs up until 23rd September, I think, so there’s still around 3 weeks left to go bee hunting, and I’ve been doing a lot of that today, and will be doing more of it over the weekend. Certainly tomorrow. I have the app on my phone, so as well as taking photos of the bees, I’m also entering the codes on my mobile to unlock the bees and count how many I’ve seen. In terms of book-related stuff, there are bees in some of the libraries in town, certainly in Central Library, and I think there’s a bee in the John Rylands Library on Deansgate, so I will have to investigate that!

French Revolutions finished August 2018

On Sunday, just before my Big Week Off, lol, I finished off the utterly brilliant French Revolutions, by Tim Moore, which has now been added to the roll of honour featuring books which have made me laugh my arse off over the years! If you like travel writing, sports writing, and/or you are in need of a damn good laugh, you should definitely read French Revolutions! It’s up there with Penguins Stopped Play, by Harry Thompson! I read that one some years ago now, and that was hilarious! You don’t even have to be into cricket to enjoy Penguins Stopped Play! Just read it!

Bara Brith and Coffee in Conwy 29th August 2018

Bara brith and a cup of coffee, Conwy, North Wales

That’s in case you were wondering what the hell bara brith is when I listed it with all the B words at the start of the blog, lol! It’s a kind of tea loaf from Wales, and Mum and I had a slice each when we were in Conwy on Wednesday. I am well aware that many of my followers are not from the UK, so I guess you would’t have known about certain items of food and drink from these shores! If I’ve got any Welsh book dragons following this blog, they’ve probably known for donkey’s years, but I know that quite a few of you are more far-flung, including the USA and Canada. The last time I recall knowing my follower count, I had either 77 or 78 followers, I think, so thank you for deciding to follow this mad blog and I hope you’re enjoying this entry!

By the way, the book I am holding in the photo at the top of the blog is not one that I actually bought, but I did purchase The Pebbles On the Beach, by Clarence Ellis, when I was in Hinton’s of Conwy.

Twisting My Melon finished 30 August 2018

I was in the Lake District yesterday, but was spending time in the holiday park with my sister, her partner and my niece and nephew, including sitting in a hot tub, which was lovely, and I definitely want to do that again! Therefore, I didn’t get out and about near the Lakes and didn’t get to go in any shops, so no books were purchased. However, I did get to finish off one of my ebooks during the journey there and back! Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, became my sixth finish for August, and my 25th finish for 2018 so far, thus meaning I have 5 more books to go to meet my Goodreads Challenge for this year! Woohoo!

Little hat finished 31st August 2018

Bringing you right up to date, as this blog draws to its close, this is the little hat I finished earlier, although it would only be big enough for a new baby. It will probably go on the stall at the church Christmas fair later this year. The size of the circle determines the size of the hat. I bought a set of four, and the biggest one would be too big, and would probably make a snood, but the next biggest one would probably make a good adult-sized hat. The third one might make a kid’s hat or at least an older baby or toddler, but that small one would be for a newborn, probably.

I’ve also been taking some books to charity shops in Monton and Eccles while I’ve been off. Occasionally, I need to do this to make way for newer purchases. Sometimes I just have to figure out “Am I going to read this?” or “Am I going to finish this?” If not, then I might as well give it away, especially if I’m likely to get a cheap copy from a charity shop in the future should I ever decide I do wish to read it! Some books crop up in charity shops all the time, so there’s a good shout that I’d get hold of it again if I do want to read it, but I’ve given away my previous copy.

Well, that’s about it for now, so I’d better get this published while we’re still just about in August, lol! Until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Notes On a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
  • The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • Wigs On the Green – Nancy Mitford
  • The Lady In the Van – Alan Bennett
  • Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl
  • French Revolutions – Tim Moore
  • Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson
  • The Pebbles On the Beach – Clarence Ellis
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder

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July Review – Out of the Slump

Book finished July 2018

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

Last day of July, so it’s review time, and this makes it a 3rd blog for the month! Yay! Plus a book finished and a bookmark made – that being the red woolly one I made on my afro comb, which you saw with my copy of Wigs On the Green, by Nancy Mitford, in my previous blog! That book, as I mentioned recently, is a third of the way through, 34% read, and there are two weeks to go to my book club at Waterstone’s on Deansgate, or there will be tomorrow, anyway! Next aim for that one is to get it to 50% read.

Anyway, I finished Ego Is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday, so for the first time since early May, I’ve had an addition to my Goodreads Challenge list, now at 19/30, and it has been worth doing some Bookstagramming! I have also had to update unpublished lists on List Challenges, besides the one I do for this blog, which you will get to see either at the end of December or the start of 2019! The list is already over 200 books long, 227 as I type this part, but I will be adding to that with this blog, probably.

Yesterday, 30th July, Emily Brontë would have been 200! I studied Wuthering Heights when I was at uni, way back in the early to mid 90s, but have to admit I found it a struggle, and when it comes to works by the Brontë sisters that I have read, I must say I found Jane Eyre, by her sister Charlotte, an easier read. I read that one way back when I was in the 3rd year at high school, what would now be known as Year 9. When it comes to Wuthering Heights, I do like the song by Kate Bush, lol! Kate herself had a special birthday yesterday, too – her Big 60!

Right, anyway, never mind all that, time to get on with the book review for July… I’m thinking of taking Hawksmoor off the OC List or only mentioning it if I make any further progress with it. It’s been stuck at 58% read for ages now, so unless I move it on a bit, is it really worth mentioning? With the new footy season almost upon us, there’s every likelihood that I’ll be returning to Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, which was at 55% after the last time I read some of it, but if we have to wait ages in the car to get out of the Old Trafford car park after a match, then I can see Shaun getting off my OC list by the end of the calendar year, and another ebook being finished. As I mentioned in my previous blog, my season ticket arrived last week – a sure sign that another Premier League campaign is on the horizon!

Talking of United, Shaun Ryder and all things Manc, the bees are in town! I know I have mentioned this earlier this year, but now town is a hive of activity due to Bee In the City! I know we often say that town is “buzzin'” but it really is at the moment, and the giant bees are here until around 23rd September. I shall have to go into town and have a shufty! Perhaps this weekend.

Returning to ebooks for a moment, Fire Woman by Josephine Reynolds is on 25% read, that being the account of Britain’s first female firefighter. The other book that I’ve got ongoing as an ebook is one where I’m doing it part ebook part paperback as I have both formats for this novel – that book being The Man I Think I Know, by Mike Gayle, which I discovered recently thanks to the Zoe Ball Book Club on telly (Sunday mornings on ITV – I record it on Sky+ as I’m usually having a lie-in, lol!). The Mike Gayle novel is at 18% at the mo, although I’m thinking that’s what I’m going to read once I’ve finished this blog! I am giving books a bit of a push… how much of a particular book I can read in half an hour, that sort of thing…

I mentioned Notes on a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig, in my last blog, and I started reading that last night, getting 22% of it read in the wee small hours, and improving slightly on that before starting this blog, by getting it to the 26% mark! Also at 26% is French Revolutions, by Tim Moore. This is the guy whose book, Nul Points, about the acts which failed to register any votes in the Eurovision Song Contest, I read and enjoyed last year, and in this one, which had been knocking around my room for a while, he gets the mad idea to cycle the Tour de France route! As we’ve just had the Tour de France, won by Welshman, Geraint Thomas, I thought it would be an appropriate read.

Woolly stuff 2018

As well as my red bookmark, this is some of my other stuff – ongoing items on my improvised looms. This just gives you an idea of some of the other things I get up to when I’m not reading! One of the other things I’m up to is making some attempt at shifting the pounds, and I had lost two and a half pounds yesterday evening at Slimming World, and need only two more pounds off to have lost my first stone!

Recent purchases 25 July 2018

Some recent purchases there, which I forgot to mention in the previous blog, apart from the Mike Gayle book. As with Gayle‘s novel, Dark Pines, by Will Dean, is also one of the books which has been reviewed on Zoe Ball’s TV programme. That one is in the “Scandi crime” genre, and features a deaf protagonist, which is an unusual angle. Three Things About Elsie is the second novel by Joanna Cannon, who I met a couple of years ago when she was signing copies of her début novel, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep. You might also be familiar with the name of Mohsin Hamid, as he has had a few novels published, most notably, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which I read and enjoyed some years ago now. Exit West piqued my interest because of its plot, in which black doors are rumoured to appear and people who walk through them leave one city and enter a different one! Sounds intriguing!

Books and coffee July 2018

Technically, we’re now on for 1st August, but this is still the July Review, and I still have a few more books to mention before I get this published. I think I may have listed a book called The Note not too long ago, a novel by Zoë Folbigg. Anyway, The Distance, also by the same author, was one of my purchases last week, along with The 1,000 Year Old Boy, by Ross Welford, and The Boy At the Back of the Class, by Onjali Q Rauf. Those two are essentially children’s books, but you probably already figured out how many shits I give about stuff like that! If it sounds like a good read, I’m up for it! The only books which need an age restriction are ones containing adult material – erotic novels, in other words, but unless there’s a lot of sex involved, the beauty of most books is that they’re open to all ages!

That’s about it now for the July Review, I’ve mentioned a lot of books, and given progress updates, so until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading! Oh, and keep cool, as the heatwave’s supposed to be returning!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Wigs On the Green – Nancy Mitford
  • Ego Is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Fire Woman – Josephine Reynolds
  • The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • Notes On a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
  • French Revolutions – Tim Moore
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • Dark Pines – Will Dean
  • Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid
  • Exit West – Mohsin Hamid
  • The Note – Zoë Folbigg
  • The Distance – Zoë Folbigg
  • The 1,000 Year Old Boy – Ross Welford
  • The Boy At the Back of the Class – Onjali Q. Rauf

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Instructions For a Heatwave

Recent purchases July 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Ooh, it’s sticky weather, as Peter Kay would say! It’s just gone 10pm here, as I start this blog entry, and it is still boiling. Hence the blog title, Instructions For a Heatwave, which is actually a novel by Maggie O’Farrell. I think that book is set 42 years ago, back in 1976, which is what this year is being compared with, lol! Talking of reads set in the Long Hot Summer of ’76, there’s also The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, by Joanna Cannon, and Summer of ’76 by Isabel Ashdown. So, grab a cold drink, possibly an ice cream or a lolly, and chill out with a good book! Get some 70s music on, too! Bit of Abba should do the trick, lol!

Right, so… World Cup’s over, won by France, and what a brilliant final they and Croatia served up, eh?! Best World Cup Final for bloody years, unlike some of the boring ones of recent times which had just one goal and went to extra time before that happened… It wasn’t coming home, though, for England, sadly, but under Gareth Southgate (and his M&S waistcoat), the Three Lions equalled their best World Cup finish in my lifetime, and the joint-second-best of all-time, finishing 4th, as they had done way back in the summer of 1990! The previous time we’d got to the semis in the World Cup, it was taking place in Italy, I was old enough to learn to drive, but not quite old enough to drink or vote until the following April! I was at Eccles College and coming towards the end of my first year there, so halfway through my Bastard A-Levels! For anyone who doesn’t know, A-Levels are awful! They certainly were back in the early 90s when I was doing mine. My degree was easier!

They are also a very good example of why getting out of your comfort zone is NOT always a good idea! I know I went off French at A Level, but I look back at the other subjects I did at college, which were totally new to me in the autumn of 1989 when I started there, and I think I should have stuck to what I knew. If you do stray from that comfort zone, don’t go far. Imagine the comfort zone to be a house and a back garden. At the bottom of the path alongside the lawn, there is a fence and a little gate. Even if you undo the latch and open the gate to step outside, you are still in familiar territory. Do new stuff, but stuff which isn’t too dissimilar from things you already know how to do! Out of your comfort zone, but not out of your depth.

Take, for example, me learning another new musical instrument. I would have to learn the notes and the techniques for playing the new instrument. However, as I can already read music, and have had plenty of experience of playing in ensembles before, it would not be a completely new thing for me, and I would think, with my track record of learning instruments, that I would be able to reach a decent standard of proficiency.

Right, anyway, after the mini slump since early May, you’ll be pleased to learn that I have recently finished another book! Ego Is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday, was finished off last Saturday, making it book number 19 for this year. Funny how non-fiction seems to help me get out of book slumps! Three years ago, towards the end of 2015, when I finally got out of quite a lengthy book slump, it was a book called Why the Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates, which got me in the mood for reading again. Back to the book about ego, though, and I think there are a lot of people who really could do with reading this and taking on board the message. I’m thinking particularly of an orange-faced bloke with a bad wig and childish demeanour, a bus-parking Portuguese football manager, and a certain female ex-friend of mine who failed to take the hint even after I blocked her arrogant arse on all social media platforms two years ago!

As I’ve just mentioned a bit of footy again, I should mention that my season ticket came on Wednesday! Yay! I do wish we’d get a manager who plays attractive, attack-minded, entertaining football, though! And who doesn’t criticise his players in public. Surely there must be a new Fergie out there?! Someone who would go back to having the lads play the United way instead of all that tedious bus-parking shite?! (By the way, in case you’d forgotten, shite is a technical term!)

Let’s have a look at the other books on that photo at the top of this blog… The Mermaid, by Christina Henry, is a reworking of a fairy tale, The Fire Court, by Andrew Taylor, is historical fiction, and the sequel to The Ashes of London, which I read and enjoyed last year, and Notes On a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig, is non-fiction and deals with mental health issues and the increase in stress and anxiety levels worldwide. The thing with Matt Haig is that he writes both fiction and non-fiction!

The Nancy Mitford novella, Wigs On the Green, is my current book club book and I am 34% of the way through it with a couple of weeks to go before my next meeting at Waterstone’s Deansgate, which will be on 15th August. The red bookmark is one that I have made using my afro comb as a knitting loom, lol! Think it has come out quite well! Wigs On the Green sends up fascists, hence the reason Stephanie and I chose it. Anything taking the piss out of the far-right is fine by me!

Earlier this month, it was my friend Sarah’s birthday, so I popped up to Preston with her pressies and card. Her main pressie is that we’re going to see Madness in December at the Manchester Arena, and I can tell you all now because she knows! Anyway, she was able to lend me What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson, the Iron Maiden frontman and qualified pilot, so I have started that and I want to have read it in time to return it to her when she comes for the Madness gig. I know December’s a bit of a way off, but if I don’t get started, it’ll be upon us all too quickly. Only just started that one, though so it’s not technically an OC yet until it reaches 10%. Islander by Patrick Barkham, as I may have mentioned previously, was picked up on my jollies in the Cape Verde Islands last month. That’s up to 14%, but it has now been overtaken by The Man I Think I Know, by Mike Gayle, which I discovered thanks to the Zoe Ball Book Club on telly. I am already on 17% and I only got it on Wednesday night when I was at the Trafford Centre. Really enjoying it already!

On my Kindle, there are a couple of ongoing concerns, those being Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, currently on 55%, and Fire Woman, by Josephine Reynolds, on 25% – that one being her true account of how she became Britain’s first female firefighter. I read an article not long ago, and ended up downloading the book for my Kindle Paperwhite.

I would continue, I do have more recent books to mention, lol, but sitting here at my laptop is doing NOTHING to cool me down at all! Therefore, I shall have to do another blog and mention some more recent purchases, but at least I have got a second blog published for this month and I have finished at least one book, so a considerable improvement on June, lol! Until the next time, try to keep cool and hydrated, and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Instructions For a Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  • Summer of ’76 – Isabel Ashdown
  • Ego Is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
  • Why the Dutch Are Different – Ben Coates
  • The Mermaid – Christina Henry
  • The Fire Court – Andrew Taylor
  • The Ashes of London – Andrew Taylor
  • Notes On a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
  • Wigs On the Green – Nancy Mitford
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • Islander – Patrick Barkham
  • The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Fire Woman – Josephine Reynolds

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June Review and Relevant Reading…

Novel approach

Hello, fellow Bookworms!

This might be short. June has not been a good month on the book front, as nothing has been finished off. However, some reading was done on my holidays, and I did acquire a book while I was in Boa Vista, Cape Verde Islands!

I took my new Kindle Paperwhite on my jollies, and certainly read some more of Twisting My Melon, Shaun Ryder‘s autobiography, while I was on the plane, on the way to my holiday destination, and got that up to 55%, so that is over the halfway mark. Probably the best result on the reading front last month, as we are now in July.

Oops, as we are now on 1st July, before I go any further, it’s time to wish my Canadian followers a very Happy Canada Day! Hope you’re enjoying your long weekend!

For my American followers, advanced wishes for a Happy Independence Day this coming Wednesday!

Right then, on with the books and the bit of reading that I have managed last month. I didn’t end up reading Spirals In Time, the book about seashells, but did find a book at the hotel, which I started and then brought home with me, Islander, by Patrick Barkham. This is a journey around the UK archipelago, visiting little islands around the British Isles, and I read around the first 15% of it, so it joins the Ongoing Concerns. Even it’s about my own set of islands, I was on an island from another set of islands when I started reading it, so it still seemed apt. Plus, it’s a holiday souvenir, lol, just like Attention All Shipping was when I brought it home from Mexico five years ago!

Dune on a dune June 2018

Relevant Reads – Dune on a dune!

So, as you can see above, I did it! I read Dune on a dune! Well, I did read a page or two of it. Only just started, so it can’t go on the OCs just yet, I would have to read more of it for it to go on that, but I got the Relevant Reads photo opportunity, so I want to see yours! Doesn’t have to be exotic! Have you ever read The Catcher in the Rye sitting in a field of rye? Kitchen Confidential in a kitchen? Alone in Berlin while alone in the German capital city?! I want your “relevant reads” stories and evidence! I’ve been writing these book blogs for nearly 8 years now, and I’d like to hear from those of you who have been kind enough to decide to follow my blogs!

Spain v Russia is in extra time… is it going to be won in extra time, or am I going to have to shuffle off and watch a penalty shoot-out? Come on, Spain!

Anyway, May’s lack of reading has continued into June. I had only finished off one book at the start of May, and that was the last one I added to my Goodreads Challenge list, Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction, by David Seed. I’ve done some cross-stitch, I’ve been on my jollies, come back, gone back to work, had family birthdays and some seriously boiling weather, and joined Slimming World, but there’s not really an awful lot to report on the book front!

The other thing is that the current heatwave makes me feel tired at times. I just want a siesta, lol! I don’t really feel like reading. I might nod off, especially if the book wasn’t really grabbing me! Even if I was enjoying it, I might still be too sleepy.

Spain and Russia is going to a penalty shoot out…

Russia won on penalties. Not what I wanted. Croatia v Denmark at the moment, which is still 1-1 after both teams scored very early! Right now, that looks like heading for extra time. I don’t really mind who wins. Slight preference for Denmark, as United have had a few Danish players in the past, (Jesper Olsen, Peter Schmeichel and Anders Lindegaard), but I wouldn’t be upset if Croatia won, especially after they stuffed Argentina 3-0 in that group game! I have harboured an immense dislike of the Argentinian national side since Mexico ’86! I was 13 when that World Cup was on, so it’s 32 years now!

Book club on Wednesday. I have read a little bit, and I mean a LITTLE bit of Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng, and I have liked what I have read, but I just haven’t been up for reading anything at the mo. So, I won’t discard the book. Even if I haven’t read much of it by Wednesday, which I won’t have, it may be something I return to at a later date. A few years ago, during a reading slump, there were books I read a bit of and liked, so I have not completely given up on those, I might return to The Sisters Brothers some day, amongst others. I do like the cover of that one, it’s very clever!

At least I will have another fortnight for what will be a re-read, as a book club has been started at work, and the first meeting is on 18th July, at lunchtime, and we’ll be reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. As I have mentioned on here before, this book was a book club read some years ago for the Waterstone’s Deansgate book club, but it’s quite a while since I read it, so I don’t mind that my council colleagues have chosen something I’ve already read.

The other thing I need to mention is that there is now even a TV book club here in the UK, on Zoe Ball’s programme on Sunday mornings. I have set the series to record, which is a wise move as I was on holiday when the series started, and I am usually having a lie-in on a Sunday anyway, so I can catch up later. Well, I can when the footy’s over, but Denmark v Croatia has gone into extra time…

Adam Kay book signing

Not sure which books have been discussed since the first one, but Zoe started with the book which was my favourite read from last year, the excellent This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay! I think it has recently come out in paperback, but I bought the hardback last year and then got it signed when Adam came to Waterstone’s Deansgate in the autumn! I think as many people as possible should read it, although maybe doing so in public might not be a good idea as you’ll get some funny looks when you laugh your head off at certain bits! The photo above is from when Adam was signing my copy of his book.

Well, that’s about it for now, although the Danes and Croatians are still playing at the moment, so no result as yet. Still 1-1 from right at the start of the match. Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Spirals In Time – Helen Scales
  • Islander – Patrick Barkham
  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • The Catcher In the Rye – J. D. Salinger
  • Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  • Alone In Berlin – Hans Fallada
  • Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction – David Seed
  • Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick DeWitt
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

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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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