Category Archives: British Weather

Mystic Mince Pies, Hot Milk, and Traffic Jams…

Hot Milk and Mr Dickens

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the books are so delightful! Yep, we’ve had some snow today at Bookworm Central, lol! Some actual snow, as opposed to the usual attempt to snow in the UK. We have a kind of weather which I would describe as “Trying To Snow” which is when there’s a very minor flurry but nowt else, lol! However, at several times during the course of the day so far, it has been snowing. There has been some rain in between times so that has washed it away, but we have had snow. Not enough to build a snowman, not round here, unless you make a mini snowman on a garden wall or something.

Been a busy old week, and not over yet considering it is scheduled to be the Manchester Derby tomorrow at Old Trafford – snow permitting, of course! Anyway, I was at the match on Tuesday as United played CSKA Moscow in our final group game. Prior to the game, Dad came round for tea as we were going in his car, as has happened frequently this season. After our chilli con carne, we had some mince pies and squirty cream, and when Dad squirted cream on his pies, it looked like a 2 on one pie, and a 1 on the other, so he said that would be the score that night…

Not best pleased at half-time when we were trailing to a blatantly offside “goal” which should never have stood. Thankfully, in the second half, we turned things around in the space of three minutes midway through the half, with Romelu Lukaku equalising before Marcus Rashford put us ahead… and that reminded me of the pies and squirty cream, lol! 2-1 it remained, so when I got back in the car with Mum & Dad, the talk was of the Mystic Mince Pies, lol! Never mind your “Paul the Octopus” predicting winning sides in the World Cup, we had Mystic Mince Pies predicting the scoreline in United’s Champions League match!

So, we have won our group and we are through to the knockout stages, which start in mid-February. European football has a winter break, although we will find out on Monday who we have got in the first knockout round. As we have won our group, we will be away in the first leg, and at home in the second. It’s better that way, because if you don’t get a particularly good result in the first leg, you know you’ve got home advantage which can really help to turn things around in the second leg! Having said that, when we did the Treble in 1999, our quarter final and semi final ties against Inter Milan and Juventus saw United have the home leg first, and away leg second, and we still ended up winning the trophy!

Right, that’s the footy done, on to the books, lol!

Didn’t get any more of my book read in time for book club the next night, but I did get 70% read, so was mostly able to participate in the discussions, and I will finish it off – after all, I have just under a third left to read of The Good People. After our discussion, for which there were five of us, with Stephanie rejoining the fold as well as the four of us from last month – myself, Michelle, Nick and Diane, we discussed the next book and whether we should read something Christmassy, or deliberately un-Christmassy, and I said perhaps we should make it something reasonably short as we might not get a lot of time to get some reading in over the festive season! So, with a couple of us already owning a copy, we went for something fairly short and set in the summer, Hot Milk, by Deborah Levy. Our next meeting is on 10th January to give us a bit more time to read after Christmas and New Year!

Prior to the start of the book club, I met up with three of my colleagues from my days at Manchester DBC – June Padley, Anne Emmott, and Martin Biddles! It was great to be able to have a chat with them again and catch up a bit, also to be able to let them know I am working again at the moment. It was Martin’s birthday, so I guess that’s why they had met up. I said I’d seen one colleague fairly recently, Janice, as she volunteers at one of the charity shops here in Monton, and I am still in touch with quite a few people from my decade at Albert Bridge House on Facebook, and one or two on Instagram.

Right, anyway, I already had Hot Milk, as I said above, but I did buy myself something rather festive on the book front while I was at Waterstone’s, that being Mr Dickens and His Carol, by Samantha Silva. Something suitably seasonal, especially if our stupid weather insists on giving us the white stuff this year!

Chocs and books 2017

Thursday night, after work, Mum and I went off to the Lowry Centre on Salford Quays, as we had a voucher for Pizza Express, so we went in the shops first before we dined, and I stocked up on chocolate from the Cadbury’s shop, as you can see, lol, and a couple of cheap books from The Works, picking up The Snow Globe, by Sheila Roberts, and Hygge and Kisses, by Clara Christensen. Maybe not quite Christmassy as such, but certainly a plot which suggests cosiness, and that’s what many of us want at this time of year!

Then we come to yesterday, and the reason I ended up having to get a bus into Eccles today after my hairdo – I had to get my bus and tram pass, which was what I intended to do after work yesterday, and I got on a bus in decent enough time in Swinton, and headed on into town… except that when the bus actually got into Manchester, it was just bloody crawling along Bridge Street and taking an eternity! I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it across town to the travel shop in Piccadilly Gardens before it closed at 6pm, so I was a bit pissed off to say the least! But, I was in town, so I thought I might as well do the other stuff, in other words get myself something to eat from the Christmas markets, and as I was on that side of town, and the shop was open for a while yet, I went in Waterstone’s.

Traffic jam compensation books December 2017

Yes, I know. But I was so damn annoyed at the traffic jam that I felt I needed some retail therapy, so off I went into my natural habitat, lol, and came out with three books – Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, by Sarah Knight, and Warcross, by Marie Lu. I have mentioned the “not giving a f**k” book before, I think. I already like to think that I give fewer “flying ones” than I used to, but I felt this book would be good anyway! It would be a vindication of my general reduction of f**k-giving, so to speak!

Most of the stuff on telly these days is hardly worth giving a f**k about, especially reality TV shows! Unless they’re about food. I like Masterchef, although I probably shouldn’t watch stuff like that. Cookery programmes make me hungry, lol! I remember watching Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery late at night on BBC2 when I was a teenager in the late 80s, and that used to make me ridiculously hungry! I absolutely LOVE Chinese food! Always have done since I was very little!

I have half a mind to read Warcross and Ready Player One back-to-back as I feel the premise of both books is pretty similar, and Furiously Happy is a book I have seen on a lot of lists on List Challenges, and people have said, in reviews, that it’s very funny.

I was going to add that, if you want “very funny”, you should definitely read This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay, but I’ve been saying that already for a few blogs now, lol! Been saying it since about September or October! Another book I would recommend if you want a good laugh is Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate, by Susan Calman. I came upon that one by chance – I just happened to notice it a year or so ago when it was out in hardback and was being promoted in the Arndale Centre branch of Waterstone’s…

One of those times when you start reading a book in a bookshop, and you just know you’re going to have to take it to the counter and buy it because it’s too good not to buy! I didn’t even know who the author was at the time, turns out she’s a Scottish comedienne, but the fact that it was at least a bit about depression interested me – I’ve had a few bouts of that over the years, so I have experience of how shite it is when you’re going through it, and the “Crab of Hate” part of the title amused me, so I picked a copy off the shelf and started reading… and started laughing! It is on my list of books which have made me laugh my arse off, so if you want a good giggle, give it a try!

(Shite is a technical term, by the way!)

I think that’s about it, although I did pick up a couple of cheap books at the Rotary Club shop in Eccles this afternoon as I was waiting for the travel shop to re-open after their lunch break, lol! I picked up Unholy Night, by Seth Grahame-Smith, and The Spy Who Came For Christmas, by David Morrell. Both sounded suitably seasonal. Seth Grahame-Smith is the same guy who did the Austen-reworking, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, lol! Anyway, until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
  • Mr Dickens and His Carol – Samantha Silva
  • The Snow Globe – Sheila Roberts
  • Hygge and Kisses – Clara Christensen
  • Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • Warcross – Marie Lu
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression With the Crab of Hate – Susan Calman
  • Unholy Night – Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The Spy Who Came For Christmas – David Morrell
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Filed under Books, British Weather, Facebook & Other Social Media, Food & Drink, Football, Humour, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Mental Health, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Television, The TBR Pile, Travel, Weather

My Idea of Fun

Lee Sharpe - My Idea of Fun

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to yet another blog, and it is fair to say that blogging can be included in my idea of fun, along with countless other things. In particular, reading books (obviously), buying books, finding bargain books in charity shops (I picked up the Lee Sharpe autobiography, My Idea of Fun, in a charity shop in Swinton after work yesterday evening), having a lie-in, stuffing my face with food, playing music, listening to music and, as is well-documented on here, watching Manchester United. Sharpey is one of our old boys from the late eighties into the mid nineties, his career interrupted in mid flow by viral meningitis in the early 90s, but he did make a comeback once he’d recovered from the excessive tiredness the illness had left him with for some time. Should be an interesting read.

Anyway, progress is being made with The Good People, I am on for page 74, the start of chapter 4, so this is a considerable improvement on the fiction front given my recent fiction slump which I’ve mentioned in recent blogs. Perhaps that’s it… Perhaps it’s the fact that this book is by an author whose previous novel I really enjoyed a few years ago, because this is the same lady, Hannah Kent, who wrote the brilliant Burial Rites.

The other progress made lately isn’t actually of the book variety, but of the dental variety… As regular bloggers might know, I had been awaiting an x-ray at the hospital ahead of a dental extraction. Well, I had that x-ray yesterday morning before heading in to work for the rest of the day, two neighbouring teeth will be coming out, and when I went to reception to book the actual surgery, they offered me Wednesday, i.e. tomorrow! Thus I will be back at the hospital tomorrow afternoon to have my two dodgy teeth taken out! Woo hoo! It does mean I’ll probably feel like shite afterwards (shite being a technical term, of course, lol) but at least it means that needing Wednesday and Thursday off work results in two days where I won’t have to worry about waiting for a damn bus!

Traffic was a bloody ‘mare coming home from work tonight. According to my sister, there was a car on fire on the East Lancs Road, meaning the traffic around Swinton, where I work, was utterly Donald Ducked! It took a long time before a bus turned up, and with no number 2 seemingly forthcoming, I had to resort to the 484. This bus goes between Swinton and Monton, but takes the, ahem, “scenic route” and goes all round the houses to get next door, as the saying goes! So I was eventually on a bus home, but then that got stuck in traffic for quite a while during its Grand Tour of Swinton! So, I read a bit of The Good People while I was on the bus and managed a fair few pages before nearing home.

It’s November, it’s cold, it’s dark, it was raining (probably still is), and the journey home from work was a bit of an arseache! Oh well, at least I had some books with me, and at least I don’t have to get a bus for the next two days! My mouth might not be at its most comfortable after tomorrow afternoon’s surgery, lol, but the complete lack of necessity to hang around at bus stops waiting for one of those damn vehicles to be arsed turning up will be a consolation! Two days without that palaver – yeah, I can go for that!

I just hope I will still be able to play my horn, though. Got the switching on of the Urmston Christmas Lights on Friday, an annual fixture in the gig calendar of the Flixton Community Brass Band, so I shall see, some time on Thursday, how I feel about playing a brass instrument after my dental extractions the day before. See how my face feels. Perhaps try buzzing on my mouthpiece on Thursday, see how that goes. If it’s OK, I’ll be up to playing my tenor horn.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/nov/21/doctors-diary-this-is-going-to-hurt-wins-public-vote-for-book-of-the-year?CMP=twt_gu

Congratulations to Adam Kay! The absolutely brilliant This is Going to Hurt has won the Books Are My Bag readers’ choice award! It has also won the non-fiction category as well as the overall award. As I have said before, I cannot recommend this book enough! I would exercise caution as to where you read it, though! Probably not best to read it in public, unless you’re really daring or you simply don’t give a shit about getting funny looks from others when you laugh your arse off!

It definitely wins MY award for book of the year!

Sorry that I’ve not really got any fresh mentions other than My Idea of Fun, by Lee Sharpe. I know some of you really like my blogs which are full of different books, as it gives you ideas to add to your TBR piles. Oh well, I guess this one is giving your TBR list a bit of a break by covering mostly old ground. Also, we’re coming up to that time of year where everything gets reviewed, lol! A time for looking back over 2017, the books we read, those we half-read, those we added to our TBR lists but have still not got around to yet… and some which were added to that list donkey’s years ago, and we have to admit we STILL haven’t got around to reading them, lol!

Has a book ever given you that sense that it’s saying “You KNOW you want to read me”?! It happens in book shops, sure, but then it happens with books on your TBR list… There’ll be one which is saying “Pick me next!” and I am getting those vibes from Republic or Death! Travels in Search of National Anthems, by Alex Marshall. It is in quite a prominent place in my room, on top of a pile of books, and it is non-fiction, and it involves travel, history and music, so obviously that held great appeal to me and caused me to buy it in the first place, which was some time ago now, earlier this year I think, and it keeps catching my eye of late!

In the meantime, I shall get this finished and published and return to The Good People. Until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • My Kind of Fun – Lee Sharpe
  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Republic or Death! Travels in Search of National Anthems – Alex Marshall

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, British Weather, Charity Shop Bargains, Food & Drink, Football, Music, Non-Fiction, The TBR Pile

Beach Huts, Angry Chefs, and Bargain Books!

Coffee cake and books August 2017

Coffee, cream cake, and bargain books…

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

* does celebratory Mobot *

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

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

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

Hit the Hut 3

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

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

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

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

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

Charity shop bargains August 2017

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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

Sticky Weather!

Sticky Weather June 2017

Avoid sunburn – Stay indoors and read!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

PSB Literally finished

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

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

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

Goodreads challenge surpassed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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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

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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

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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

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