Category Archives: Childrens’ Books

Twisting My Melon, Man!

Vile Victorians finished April 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

April is here, 3 weeks to go until Chief Bookworm reaches the grand old age of 45, lol, and we already have a book finished this month, as I decided to plump for another book in the brilliant Horrible Histories series! Bit of a jump in time from The Slimy Stuarts, which I read last month, but I thought we’d get April under way with The Vile Victorians! So that is my 16th finish of the year, with more books to come. The Horrible Histories series is written by Terry Deary, by the way. I actually went to a Horrible Histories event some time ago now, at the Imperial War Museum North on Salford Quays – as I recall, it was the Frightful First World War event. Possibly around 10 years ago in 2008 to mark 90 years since the end of World War I, but don’t quote me on that. I do know there’s a photo album of mine on Facebook from that event, and I have a tin hat on in one of the photos!

Right then, enough about the Horrible Histories for now, although I’m pretty sure there’ll be more about that series in future blogs! Saturday saw me at Old Trafford for United v Swansea in the Premier League, which we won 2-0 thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, and as I had finished my previous match day ebook, The Man in the Middle, by Howard Webb, I needed to find something else suitable on my Kindle for the journey home, and I found it in Twisting My Melon, the autobiography of Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays fame! He’s from round this way, he’s a fellow Red, and I had already started this book a while ago, so I decided I would resume matters and this is now my main ebook, particularly for home matches, although I might read it even when I’m not off to watch the lads.

Weirdly enough, I was in town last week, having gone to get my bus and tram pass sorted, and having done that, and done a bit of retail therapy, I was eating at Wagamama and they played “Step On” by the Happy Mondays, which includes that bit “You talk so hip, man, you’re twistin’ my melon, man!” and was in the charts back in the summer of 1990 when I was 17 and at Eccles College, halfway through my two year A Level courses! Took me right back to all that Madchester rave on stuff in my late teens! Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, James, Inspiral Carpets… all that malarkey… and, of course, New Order teaming up with the England squad for “World In Motion”, one of that year’s number ones and one of the best footy records ever!

Actually, when England came 4th at that summer’s World Cup in Italy, that was the best they’ve ever done in my lifetime! It’s still the best they’ve ever done in my lifetime, and I can’t really expect them to do ‘owt  in this year’s World Cup because they’re a bit too shite these days (shite being a technical term, of course) and I suspect they’ll be home before the postcards, as the saying goes!

Bookmarks 2018 so far

Right at the end of last month, although I hadn’t quite managed it in time for that final blog in March, I finished the red bookmark in the middle of the above photo. I then got the Space Invaders one stitched before we were into April. I just decided to look up patterns for space invaders on Pinterest, and then used my iPad to refer to the charts as I stitched a few and ended up making it look like a little game in progress! I stitched my initials and the year to look like a high score. My geek is showing, yes I know! Then again, I have read a few science fiction books already this year and plan to read a few more. I might even resume Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which is here by Computer Corner. I think it’s actually a film now – most books get made into films these days. I’ve not been to the cinema for donkey’s years, though! I can’t even remember which was the last film I went to the flicks to see!

It’s not that I don’t like films. I do, and sometimes I see a trailer on telly or Facebook for a film, and think “That sounds really good”, but then I never get around to going to see it! Even with TV dramatisations, it’s the same – I recorded The Miniaturist on my Sky+ box at Christmas and it’s still there, not yet watched! That’s the Jessie Burton novel, in case you were wondering. As I mentioned in the last blog, The City & The City, by China Miéville, is being broadcast as a TV series starting this coming week, I think, so I might record that. Whether I will get around to watching it is another matter, though, lol! About the only thing I’ve been watching lately is Masterchef!

That must have been going donkey’s years by now! Originally, it used to be presented by Lloyd Grossman, who had a seriously annoying voice! A good one for ripping the piss out of in comedy sketches, though! He also used to present Through The Keyhole. Not sure how long Masterchef has been going in its current format and with current presenters but a good few years now, I reckon, as I’ve been watching it now for around 4 years or so, I think. I like Greg Wallace and John Torode, the current presenters. You know you’ve been watching it a few years when you remember previous winners and finalists when they come back in for the current contestants to cook for!

Enough about cookery shows, or I’ll just make myself hungry!

 

Junior Bookworm then and now

You won’t be terribly surprised to learn that I bought my niece and nephew a couple of books each for Easter. They both love books, and Charlotte has been known to read to Reuben. She loves books so much she can barely wait until she gets out of the bookshop to start reading her latest purchases! Definitely taking after her auntie!

Charlotte outside Waterstone's March 2018

Charlotte just outside her natural habitat… This was a few days ago. Good Friday, I think. Charlotte needed an eye test, so Ellie took her and Reuben off to the Trafford Centre, and as well as the optician’s, there was a visit to Waterstone’s, and Charlotte was so keen to get started on her latest purchases that she sat down and started reading as soon as she’d got out of the shop!

Anyway, just over a week to go to book club, but as you already know, North and South has been put on hold. I may resume it some time in the future. On the other hand, I might not. We can, however, safely say that it is nowhere near finished, barely started in fact, and thus I’m just going to have to admit it’s not my thing come next Wednesday, and hope that our next choice of book is more appealing.

At least I DID make some progress with Hawksmoor! The Peter Ackroyd novel is now 58% read, so we are over halfway with that now. I might as well make some more progress with that before book club, as well as continuing Six Little Miracles, about the Walton Sextuplets. My sister has asked to borrow that one once I’ve read it. That one’s at 22% and Twisting My Melon is currently at 25% – not done too badly over Easter with the books and bookmarks! Been quite a productive long weekend!

That’s about it for now, then. I think we’ve had all the news on the book front. So, I shall now get this finished off and published, and you can have a good read of where I’ve got up to over Easter when I’ve not been scoffing chocolate or hot cross buns, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Slimy Stuarts – Terry Deary
  • The Vile Victorians – Terry Deary
  • The Frightful First World War – Terry Deary
  • The Man In the Middle – Howard Webb
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • The City & The City – China Miéville
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
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March Review and Childhood Cookbooks

Word for World is Forest finished March 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

Finished books 29 March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Childhood cookbooks

My first recipe books!

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

SF purchases March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl
  • The Slimy Stuarts (Horrible Histories) – Terry Deary
  • The Man In the Middle – Howard Webb
  • The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
  • The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry
  • How To Find Love In a Book Shop – Veronica Henry
  • My Learn To Cook Book – Ursula Sedgwick
  • The Mr Men Cookbook – Roger Hargreaves
  • Ammonite – Nicola Griffith
  • Neuromancer – William Gibson
  • Resistance is Futile – Jenny T. Colgan
  • The Radleys – Matt Haig
  • Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig
  • How To Stop Time – Matt Haig
  • The Humans – Matt Haig
  • The City and The City – China Miéville
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway

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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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Outside of a Dog…

Year of the Dog 2018

Year of the Dog. Photo courtesy of my friend Charity on Facebook. 🙂

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Wishing all my followers happiness, prosperity and plenty of good books in the Year of the Dog, which has started today! As I had mentioned earlier this month, this is the Dog Blog to celebrate Chinese New Year, so I will be mentioning some books with prominent canines, and also a few others on a generally Chinese theme. There’ll also be some of the usual stuff, such as updates on the Ongoing Concerns, and mention of the Winter Olympics, where Team GB are now on the medal table in PyeongChang, I’m pleased to say!

Can’t say the Year of the Dog has got off to the best of starts for me, though, I seem to have another cold, a bit “ruff” you might say, and I’ve not seen one of my best online friends on FB yet today, so I hope she’s OK and whatever is causing her not to be online is resolved as soon as possible. I hope she’s not ill, and perhaps it’s a power cut or an internet problem.

So, then… On with the dog books, before you all go barking mad, lol…

By the way, the title of this blog, as you may have guessed, comes from quite possibly my all-time favourite quote, which is a classic from Groucho Marx…

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.

Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read!

K9 from Doctor Who

K9 on Doctor Who (early 80s, at a guess)

So, there you have it! And let’s take a look at some books with notable four-legged friends of the canine variety, or even K9 if you’re a robot dog, like the one on Doctor Who years ago when I was a kid, lol! One of the obvious dog books is Marley & Me, by John Grogan, about a pooch who requires a fair bit of training. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, however, sees a dog become a sledge dog up in the frozen north! The dog in White Fang, also by Jack London, is part wolf, but we won’t let that stand in the way of his canine credentials on this blog!

The editions of those Jack London books which I found on List Challenges are Puffin Classics, so that indicates they are children’s books, which brings me very neatly on to a dog-filled book for younger bookworms, one my niece recommended to me a few years ago, that being Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, by Lynley Dodd! I loved this one, so thank you, Charlotte! Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion, also needs a mention while we’re on children’s books, and I’m sure I read that one when I was younger.

If we’re going to mention classic dog-filled books for younger readers, we have to mention The Hundred and One Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith. Probably best known as the Disney film, but it was a book originally! The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford, sees two dogs, and also a cat, make their way across Canada to be reunited with the family who own them. I admit, I’ve not read those two, but I have most definitely read, and loved, this next one – in fact, it helped get me out of a reading slump back in late 2015…

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, is a wonderful book, in which the dog has a huge part to play! It is on the list of books I often recommend. Oh, and, if you recall a blog or two ago, when I was mentioning science-fiction purchases, and I said I was going to save one book to mention in the Dog Blog, well that book is Sirius, by Olaf Stapledon, about a canine with human capabilities.

I also can’t do a dog blog without mentions of There Is No Dog, by Meg Rosoff, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller, and Even the Dogs, by John McGregor. I think I’ve given you plenty of dog books and dog-titled books to be getting on with!

As far as Chinese-themed books go, there are plenty around, but after the long list of dog books, I’ll just settle for a few I know well enough to mention. One I enjoyed some years ago now is Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie. There’s The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, centred around Chinese families in the USA, which I half-read at uni years ago. I still have a copy, so I might yet read it properly, rather than having to skim it as I did in the early 90s during my degree course. I also have Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, which I have yet to read. I actually have the audiobook on my computer for that one, so I could listen to it. There is also Sweet Mandarin, by Helen Tse, a true account of a family who move from China to Hong Kong, and then to the UK, and Helen was born here in Manchester. That one is about food and the restaurant business, so ties in nicely with going out for a meal to celebrate Chinese New Year!

So, after all the dogs, and the Chinese-themed reading material, how are the Ongoing Concerns getting on? Quite well, as it turns out! Russian Winters, by Andrei Kanchelskis, is at 72%, Mort, by Sir Terry Pratchett, is rapidly catching up and is now on 66% as I have been reading that one on my lunch at work and feel I will soon get it finished. Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd, is on 39%, and my book club book, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, is on 30% already. Really enjoying it, and am amused by the references to Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë – I’ll not spoil things for you, but let’s say that if you are familiar with Jane Eyre, you’ll find some characters’ names familiar if you read Eleanor Oliphant! I read Jane Eyre twice – firstly in my third year at high school (which is now known as year 9), and then again at university, so I was laughing when I got to one particular bit of my book club book and thinking “I know where you got THOSE names from!”

I’m looking to finish Russian Winters and Mort fairly soon, before this month is out, preferably, and also to get on with Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. If I get my book club book read before 7th March, I might read a bit more of Hawksmoor, move it on another chapter. I am enjoying it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a quick book to read, and it’s not high up on my reading priorities, really.

Oh, and Not Dead Yet was given back to Sarah yesterday, as I went to Preston to meet up with her and go to the Guild Hall to see Paul Young, supported by China Crisis. Yes, very 80s, which is how we like it, lol! A great night, but a shame about the journey home – damn roadworks on the motorway closing off some of our regular exits, thus we ended up coming off near Prestwich, and thus having to go through Prestwich, into Salford, and eventually chez moi, but it took us about an hour to do so, double the time it usually takes if Sarah’s bringing me home from Preston! It also took her a while longer to get back home, too.

There seemed very little warning, too. Did not expect to be snarled up in traffic so late at night! Not like it was rush hour, or anything! It reminded us of one time when we went to see the Pet Shop Boys at the Apollo, here in Manchester, possibly 2002 or some time around then, and without any warning, the Mancunian Way was shut when the time came to be picked up after the gig! No warning at all that night, either!

dom-parsons-bronze-skeleton 2018

Didn’t they do well?! The men’s skeleton medallists with their cuddly toys!

And, before I love you and leave you for now, on to the Winter Olympics, and although I’m not sure if he’s actually received his medal yet, Dom Parsons has put Great Britain on the medal table in PyeongChang by winning bronze in the men’s skeleton! That’s him on the right with the red had and blue coat, proudly holding his cuddly toy tiger with the other medal-winners. The gold-medallist is from South Korea, and that was his local track they were sliding down, so he definitely made home advantage count! I think the guy who got the silver was one of the Olympic Athletes from Russia, in other words a Russian who has been confirmed as drug-free, thus not a cheat, and allowed to take part.

I hope we can get a medal or two in the women’s skeleton. We’re halfway through that as I write. They’ve had 2 runs, and Lizzie Yarnold, the reigning champion from Sochi 2014, is in 3rd, with Laura Deas in 4th, and fractions of a second separating the top 4, so there is a chance for both to improve and both to end up on the podium if they perk up and slide well later!

So, that’s about it for now, as I head off to have another read and a rest, and watch some more action from the Winter Olympics when it starts up again in an hour or so for another day of mad stuff on snow and ice, lol!  I love the snowboard cross – as Christopher Dean described it on the Beeb the other day, it’s a bit like short-track speed skating but on snowboards! If you’ve never seen it, you’re missing a treat! 6 snowboarders go off together on this course, and they often crash into one another! Look it up on YouTube! One of the best events to be added to the Winter Olympics in recent times!

Talking of Christopher Dean, Valentine’s Day was the 34th anniversary of him and Jayne Torvill winning gold for us at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, one of my all-time favourite sporting moments! I still can’t hear Ravel’s Bolero, even the full 17 minute version, without thinking of those two in their purple costumes, on the ice in Sarajevo. That’s what got me into the Olympics! I was 10 going on 11 and I became an Olympic nut thanks to Torvill & Dean in February 1984!

Right, that’s definitely all for now, before I just waffle on about the Olympics, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Marley & Me – John Grogan
  • The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  • White Fang – Jack London
  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy – Lynley Dodd
  • Harry the Dirty Dog – Gene Zion
  • The Hundred and One Dalmatians – Dodie Smith
  • The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Sirius – Olaf Stapledon
  • There Is No Dog – Meg Rosoff
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
  • Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller
  • Even the Dogs – John McGregor
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Dai Sijie
  • The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See
  • Sweet Mandarin – Helen Tse
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Mort – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins

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Filed under Books, Childrens' Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Fantasy Fiction, Food & Drink, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, Olympic Games, Ongoing Concerns, School, College & Uni Reading, Science Fiction, Sports, Television, Travel

Andrei Kanchelskis vs the Martians…

Me and the Manc Bee - Central Library Feb 2018

Manchester will be buzzin’ this summer! Look out for giant bees!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome back to the crazy world of my book blogs! I had considered “Andrei and the Martians” as the title, but that sounds like a band name, really, doesn’t it? Like Adam and the Ants, or Florence and the Machine! Prior to book club this evening, Andrei was ahead in the early hours due to getting a fair bit of Russian Winters read yesterday, but I think the Martians overtook him again when I had a read of The War of the Worlds at lunchtime while I was at work! Thing is, the Martians would actually have had a hard job catching Andrei if it was the younger version of him – back in his footballing days he was bloody fast! He was at United from 1991 to 1995 and tied opposition defenders in knots! After we beat Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup semi-final replay at Maine Road in April 1994, the Oldham back four must have had knotted blood!

It was just Stephanie and I at book club again. Some of us have to keep it going! We both enjoyed The Red House Mystery, by A. A. Milne and I had brought a pile of books to the table for whoever else turned up to have a look at. As it turned out, it was just Steph. I’d arrived early and wandered round Waterstone’s looking for anything which took my fancy and which might interest any others. Steph saw Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, and said she fancied reading that. I did too, I already had the hardback edition at home – got it half price in the January sales at W H Smith’s last month, lol, so we decided on that one and set the next date for 7th March, which is 4 weeks’ time.

book purchases 7th Feb 2018

As I said, I already had our new book club book, but the books either side of it were bought tonight at Waterstone’s and I also picked up a free bookmark with Moomins on it! Yay! Perhaps something else I should re-read, having re-read Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood a few weeks ago, maybe Finn Family Moomintroll, by Tove Jansson, should be read again, lol! Another book I got when I was in the juniors at primary school, although possibly a bit older than when I read the Mrs Pepperpot book. The Moomins were being shown on Children’s ITV after school at the time, back in the 80s when I was a kid, and I loved it, so when Finn Family Moomintroll ended up as a choice in the book club brochure, I was able to read the stories the animated series was based on. I actually have five Moomin books, so four others besides the one I’ve just mentioned. I got them all when I was a kid, so I’ve had them since I was about 10 or so!

Anyway, getting back to the books I bought tonight, having been distracted by the Moomins, lol, I have had my eye on the Becky Chambers book for a while. I already have The Long Way To a Small Angry Planet, and I am under the impression that A Closed and Common Orbit is the sequel, although it could be a stand-alone. The other purchase tonight was The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin. I’ve used a lathe, a couple of years ago now, when I was doing wood turning at Start in Salford. Here we go, I’ll find photos for you…

lathe and wood 2016

This is a lathe, for those who don’t know – That round-looking chunk of wood would become a bowl eventually…

Woodwork and wood-turning 2016

That bowl in dark brown wood was what was on the lathe in the previous photo! The barrel tub, trees and the snowman were also made on the lathe.

So, you get science fiction books and woodwork photos, lol! I did warn you that you might see some seriously weird and random stuff on this blog! Mind you, over 70 of you are following the blog these days, so there must be a market for waffly random blogs after all!

As for crafting, I might not have done anything with wood since early 2016, but I am still making cross-stitched bookmarks on occasions, and there are a couple on the go at the moment, including the Penguin one, which just needs finishing touches, really – a bit of backstitching and perhaps a tassle of some sort. I hope to have at least that one finished soon and then I will have a bookmark to show you for the first time in a while. I think the last one was possibly the Manchester bees bookmark, although I also stitched the League Cup Winning Years one, and a few other patterned ones with 2017 on them. There will be a patterned one with 2018 on it fairly soon. Bookmarks thus bring us neatly back to books again.

Prior to book club, I had been trying to get three books read as much as I could. As you may recall, I had finished The Red House Mystery with just over a week to spare before book club, so I was focusing on Russian Winters, by Andrei Kanchelskis, The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells, and Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd. The latter of those, Hawksmoor, has reached the 39% stage, so we are over a third of the way through it, but as I had suspected, the main battle has been between the other two books, and both of those are over halfway now, with Russian Winters at 53% and The War of the Worlds just ahead on 56% – I am pretty chuffed with that. Two books over the halfway mark. Hawksmoor might take a bit of a back seat now, as I start on Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, my new book club book, but I am still aiming to get Andrei and the Martians finished off this month! I think that is doable!

If you cast your minds back to last month’s blogs and the mention of books for Holocaust remembrance day in late January, I mentioned a book called The Librarian of Auschwitz, by Antonio Iturbe. I made some enquiries about this at Waterstone’s, but it was unavailable. However, I did manage to get it on my Kindle, so I do have it as an ebook, and therefore it is a possibility for a match day book on my way home from Old Trafford! I also looked on my Kindle for another book which I had tried to find last year, but couldn’t manage to find, that being The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler, but for some odd reason, the only ebook version I could find was in German! Well, OK, I can read SOME German, but I am not about to go downloading an ebook in the language! I want the book in English, at least first of all!

Sometimes, you just have to go online, as I did when I bought Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, by Jordan Sonnenblick! I prefer browsing in actual bookshops, but there are times when, like Bono, you still haven’t found what you’re looking for! I was also looking for Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan, a week or so ago, as I had seen it on List Challenges lists and on book-related items on Facebook, and couldn’t find that one while browsing, so I may have to look online for that. Drives me nuts when a book is only available somewhere else! Or when you prefer another country’s cover to that of your own country’s edition of a certain book, but don’t start me on that – it was a big complaint of mine the other year, lol!

That actually takes the list of different books mentioned this year up to 100 already! We’re only in early February, and we are in three figures! On that note, I think we’d better call it a day and get this published, so I can have a read, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • The Red House Mystery – A. A. Milne
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood – Alf Prøysen
  • Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Jansson
  • The Long Way To a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
  • A Closed and Common Orbit – Becky Chambers
  • The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe
  • The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things – Carolyn Mackler
  • Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie – Jordan Sonnenblick
  • Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan

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January Review – A Solid Start

January 2018 summary

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome back to the most random blog on the internet, lol! Alright, there’s one more day of January left after today, but I wouldn’t be getting any more books finished than I already have done this month, plus I’ll probably be keeping an eye on the score as my lads are away to Spurs tomorrow evening and it’s Transfer Deadline Day so I’ll be amused by all the last-minute nonsense from other clubs, relaxing in the knowledge that we have Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal and I don’t expect owt else to happen for us until the summer now. If it does, it’ll be an extra bonus, but I’m not expecting my lads to be busy tomorrow in terms of buying new players – as long as the existing players are busy putting the ball in Tottenham’s net and keeping it out of ours, that will do me nicely!

Anyway, books… The year started with me coming down with more Lurgy having thought I’d got shut of it between Christmas and New Year, but I am now finally over it. I finished Hot Milk, by Deborah Levy, in time for the book club meeting, although there was only myself and Stephanie at Waterstone’s due to the amount of bugs going round!

Thus I got my first book of the year read, but it was about a fortnight before I’d be getting more read. However, they’ve come thick and fast in the past week! It started with finishing off the excellent autobiography, Not Dead Yet, by Phil Collins, who turns 67 today, by the way, so Happy Birthday, Phil! Following swiftly on the heels of the legendary Genesis drummer and frontman, I polished off The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells, less than 48 hours later!

I then had an overnight read, a re-read of a childhood book, when I polished off Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood, by Alf Prøysen, which I found lying around in our living room behind our sofa, with a few other books which were a mix of mine and my mum’s from our younger days! I will now be lending Mrs Pepperpot to my sister in case she wants to read it, and perhaps Charlotte might also fancy reading it!

Then, in the wee small hours, I finished off my current book club book, The Red House Mystery, by A. A. Milne, which I quite enjoyed. I’ve read it with just over a week to spare, so I’m quite chuffed. Plus, that means that I’ve finished off 5 books already in the first month of 2018. We can’t take anything for granted, there can be quiet spells on the reading front sometimes, so I still don’t know how many books I’ll end up on by the end of December, but I can say it’s a pretty solid start. This is my 6th blog of the new year, too, hence I wrote 6 on the wipeboard knowing that I intended to blog and to use that photo for this blog! 5 books finished, 6 blogs published by the time you’re reading this, lol, and 1 player signed for Manchester United in the January transfer window!

Sadly, the Grim Reaper seems a bit too busy again this year, and has already claimed a few notable people this year, including science-fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin, Cranberries lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan at only 46 (hardly much older than me – far too young), former footballer, Cyrille Regis, and the former referee, Paul Alcock, who passed away today at the relatively early age of 64 – probably best known for being pushed over by Paolo Di Canio when he had been sent off for Sheffield Wednesday at home to Arsenal in the 1998-99 season!

Hogwarts House Socks

Accio Socks! I’m a Ravenclaw, in case you were wondering.

The Hogwarts house socks were from my mum! I just thought I’d mention them as they are book-related and I acquired them this month, so it seemed apt to put a photo in the January Review! I’ve had the Harry Potter FunkoPop for a while now, though. I also have a Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – they usually stand in front of my wipeboard.

Well, I originally thought I had two deadlines – my book club deadline, which is 7th February, and I also thought I had 15th February for giving Not Dead Yet back to my friend Sarah. However, as Paul Young’s wife sadly passed away last week, he postponed his February concerts, which will be rescheduled, so I will be hanging on to Phil’s autobiography for a while longer before I hand it back to Sarah. We may arrange to meet up for non-concert reasons, though. There’s always a chance we could meet and go shopping or something, so I will give her the book back at the earliest opportunity. It gives Sarah more chance, if she hasn’t already done so, to read Bruce Dickinson‘s autobiography, What Does This Button Do? She has said she will lend me that one, which I am looking forward to. The Iron Maiden frontman’s book sounds like another fascinating read. He is actually a qualified pilot as well as being a heavy metal legend!

So, 5 books read so far: 1 each for general fiction, autobiography, science-fiction, children’s fiction and crime fiction.

So, now onto the current Ongoing Concerns… All of them are at the early stages of being started, really. None of them near completion, so that’s why I knew I had my January total. Even if I resumed a half-read book and finished that off this year, I didn’t think I had any that were near enough to the end for me to have a quick read and add them to the finished list! I COULD resume Neither Here Nor There, by Bill Bryson, which I was exactly halfway through last year before things all went a bit Pete Tong on the OC front! That would give me a book at 50% to add to Russian Winters, by Andrei Kanchelskis, at 13% and Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd, at 10%. I have made a start on The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells, so that’s 5% read.

I gave some thought to Sirens, by Joseph Knox, which I mentioned in the previous blog entry – a work of crime fiction set in Manchester, which thus piques my interest enough to read a crime novel, which is not my usual genre. However, part of me thinks that I should just stick to Russian Winters, Hawksmoor, and The War of the Worlds and concentrate on those for the next week or so, while I have the chance. On 7th February, I’ll be at Waterstone’s for the next book club meeting, and will end up with a new book and a new target date, lol, so making progress on three existing fronts seems like the best idea no matter how much I might want to add or re-add books! If I can make significant progress with the reading matter from Messrs Kanchelskis, Ackroyd and Wells, at least one of those should be halfway or better by the time I add my next book club book to the mix!

Was considering if I should do some sort of reading challenge, I was looking at a few last night on the internet, but perhaps the best idea would be to work my way through one of my piles of books, for example the rainbow tower of books! That would give me a good 18-20 books, which would be doable, just working them in alongside book club reads and other books I fancy reading! I could also resume the Shardlake series, by C. J. Sansom, which I started last year when I read Dissolution. I am on for Dark Fire, the second book in the series, and there are 4 more after that – Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone, and Lamentation. I may be a very random reader, as you no doubt know by now, but I am quite partial to a bit of historical fiction! I like history anyway – I would do – half of my degree was in history! (The other half was in literature, as you also probably know!)

Mentioning the Shardlake series has taken the Books Mentioned list, on List Challenges, up to 73 now, lol!

The other thing I need to do is to resume my cross stitch – especially as I tend to stitch bookmarks, and there is a partially-stitched one which I started last year and which is meant to go well with a classic orange and white Penguin book!

I think that’s about it for now, and books are not going to read themselves, lol, so I shall get this finished and published, and we shall see what February brings… Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  • Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood – Alf Prøysen
  • The Red House Mystery – A. A. Milne
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • Sirens – Joseph Knox
  • 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

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Bookworm’s Progress and All Manner of Reading Matters…

Not Dead Yet finished Jan 2018

Phil Collins and also H G Wells finished this week!

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

Been a good week on the book front, although some sad news has meant it will be longer before my friend and I meet up and I return her book to her. As you can see from the photo above, the brilliant Not Dead Yet was finished earlier this week, and I then polished off The Time Machine the following day! As I planned, I am lining up The War of the Worlds to go on the Ongoing Concerns list, one H G Wells science fiction novel replacing another. Well, novellas, actually, as neither book is particularly long. Even The War of the Worlds is under 200 pages long!

While we’re on science fiction, we have to mention the sad news from earlier this week, as Ursula K. Le Guin passed away on Monday, aged 88. I have not yet read any of her books, but I might look into them, The Left Hand of Darkness being one of the best-known of her novels. Rest in Peace, Ursula. 😦

Priority lies with The Red House Mystery, though, as that is my book club book and I need to get on with that before 7th February. My 15th February deadline which I set for Not Dead Yet is irrelevant as I have finished the book in good time, but I won’t be giving Sarah the book back on that date. She and I were due to see Paul Young at the Preston Guild Hall. However, Paul’s wife sadly passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer, so Paul has understandably postponed his February concerts, which will be rescheduled for later this  year. I will have to see if I can cancel the half-day leave I booked, as I won’t need it on that date now, and I might need it whenever the new date for the concert might be if it’s also a midweek gig.

Blogging today, I do realise I am too late for an Australia Day special, might have to do one of those next year if I remember in time. Would have to do it on 25th January here, though, so that it would be 26th January Down Under. That way I could mention any books set in Australia, and also some by Aussie authors, such as Hannah Kent, who has already given us two awesome novels, Burial Rites and The Good People. If I am not mistaken, Markus Zusak is also an Aussie, so I could mention The Book Thief, which is on my list of favourite books, and which I gave out for World Book Night in 2012 on my 39th birthday! Someone remind me to do an Aussie-themed book blog in 2019! I did an Irish special last year for St Patrick’s Day, so if you want to read that blog, check out the March 2017 archives!

The thing about these internationally-themed blogs is that I only need a few examples from any country to make up a blog. Where would I even start with my own?! So many English authors to choose from, and probably all the usual suspects anyway, such as the Brontës, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens! Besides which, our patron saint, St George, has his day on 23rd April… which also happens to be Chief Bookworm’s birthday! I tend to spend the day having a lie-in, unwrapping pressies and going out to eat… Whether I could fit a blog in on my birthday is another matter, or even whether I’d want to…

While we should never rule anything out completely, I would say that it would be highly unlikely that you would have a blog from me on my 45th birthday later this year…

Right, anyway, I need some hydration, so I shall just get myself a drink, and I shall return shortly…

* Chief Bookworm pops downstairs for a drink *

Right, I’m back! Sorry about that! Hot Vimto in my Cantona mug on a coaster on top of the printer as I sit here at Computer Corner, tapping away on my laptop!

I might have been too late for Australia Day, but it is Holocaust Memorial Day today, so we can at least mention a few works of fiction set around that terrible time, including The Auschwitz Violin, by Maria Angels Anglada, which I read a couple of years ago – pretty sure it’s on my Goodreads Challenge of 2016. The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne, is an obvious mention as well, and The Book Thief also touches on those sent to concentration camps, although not actually based around a camp. One other book, one which I read some years ago now, is a collection of short stories based on the author’s experience, and it was recommended to me, on Facebook, by David Hunt probably about 9 or 10 years ago now. The book is by Tadeusz Borowski, and it’s called This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s what he doesn’t say, what is implied, which gets to you. One which should be read, but maybe not in public as you might find it too upsetting.

There’s actually one I mean to get, The Librarian of Auschwitz, by Antonio Iturbe, and I shall have a look for it next time I am in a book shop, which won’t be long off knowing me! There’s also The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris, another recent book, only just published earlier this month. That one’s based on the true story of a concentration camp tattooist, and as we’re on for books based on true stories of World War II, we need to mention Schindler’s Ark, by Thomas Keneally, which inspired the award-winning film Schindler’s List.

I was going to mention some more of the books I’ve acquired in recent times, and I have some charity shop bargains to mention, but first, we go back to my childhood, and I found a book the other night which had my name in it, and it was one I have had since I was in the first year juniors at primary school, what is now year 3, and that’s the year my niece is in at school. The book is Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood, by Alf Prøysen, a Norwegian author who passed away in 1970, before I was even born, but his stories of this little old lady who shrunk to the size of a pepper pot at inconvenient times were read to us by our teacher, Mrs Lloyd, when we were in that first year junior class at Monton Green Primary School, which would have been the academic year of 1980-81. So the book turned up on the Puffin Club book catalogue and it was bought for me as I had enjoyed some of the stories in class.

Mrs Pepperpot book

So, this is my book from when I was Charlotte’s age, and I am going to re-read it, and then perhaps my niece might like to borrow it! After all, I enjoyed it when I was 7 going on 8, so it’s probably the right age range for Junior Bookworm! Mrs Lloyd was great, one of the best teachers I ever had. Years later, she even bought me some chocolate to celebrate when Mum and I met up with her in a supermarket shortly after I’d graduated from uni in 1994!

Right, as I promised, the charity shop books which I didn’t mention the other night because I already had a pretty long list of books to mention by the end of that blog, lol! One of the charity shops on Swinton Precinct had a four books for a quid offer, essentially making these items of reading matter 25p each… I chose Playing With Fire, by Gordon Ramsay, which I think is the follow up autobiography to Humble Pie, which I already owned.

East of the Sun, by Julia Gregson, was one of the four books. I also have another of hers on the notorious TBR list, Jasmine Nights, which I either got from a charity shop or a church fair. Either way, it was a cheap acquisition.

Broken Music, by Sting, was another of the four books. It’s his autobiography. Useless fact time here, folks… Sting went to the same school as Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys! Sting would have been two years above Neil. They both attended St Cuthbert’s RC Grammar School in Newcastle Upon Tyne. So there you go! I know this because I’ve been a Pethead for years, but I’m also partial to the music of The Police and some of Sting’s solo stuff, particularly Fields of Gold and Englishman In New York – that latter one, of course, providing the melody for our terrace song about Henrikh Mkhitaryan who has gone to Arsenal in the swap deal which saw Alexis Sanchez come to United!

He had a good debut last night, actually, setting up two of our goals as the lads won 4-0 away to Yeovil Town in the 4th round of the FA Cup. The goals came courtesy of Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku, giving us a convincing win and a place in the draw for the 5th round, which will be made on Monday.

Anyway, back to the four books, which brings us to the fourth, that being Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It sounds like a humorous one – after all, the late great Sir Terry was the author of the Discworld series. The edition I picked up at the charity shop was actually a World Book Night edition from 2012, which was the same year I was giving out special copies of The Book Thief for free at the Trafford Centre! Go back to my blog archives from early in 2012 and you’ll read about my preparations for that!

Oh, and I picked up Ulysses, by James Joyce, at one of the other charity shops in Swinton the other day. That’s a right chunky monkey, though. Might have to find some sort of guide to the novel before attempting it. I have read some Joyce, previously, but only Dubliners, which is a book of short stories set in the Irish capital.

This pretty much brings my book news up to date. Just a thought… We’re not even at the end of January and the list of books mentioned so far in 2018 is already at 66! Of course, as things go on, books get repeat mentions, and they’re already on the list, but plenty of previously unmentioned books get added and last year’s list was over 500 books long when I came to publish it at the end of December! If you’re on List Challenges, and you like big lists and you cannot lie, lol, check out Joanne’s Bookshelf – Books Mentioned in 2017 and see how many you’ve read from all the books I mentioned on here last year!

So, that’s it for now, I’m off for a reading session! Until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Red House Mystery – A. A. Milne
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • The Auschwitz Violin – Maria Angels Anglada
  • The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
  • This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen – Tadeusz Borowski
  • The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris
  • Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally
  • Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood – Alf Prøysen
  • Playing With Fire – Gordon Ramsay
  • Humble Pie – Gordon Ramsay
  • East of the Sun – Julia Gregson
  • Jasmine Nights – Julia Gregson
  • Broken Music – Sting
  • Good Omens – Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • Ulysses – James Joyce
  • Dubliners – James Joyce

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