Category Archives: Cross-Stitch

Instructions For a Heatwave

Recent purchases July 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

Novel approach

Hello, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

Dune on a dune June 2018

Relevant Reads – Dune on a dune!

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

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

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

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

Spain and Russia is going to a penalty shoot out…

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

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

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

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

Adam Kay book signing

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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Overdue May Review, and New Device

May 2018 book and bookmarks

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Sorry for the delay, but the first part of this blog needs to be the May Review, although it will be pretty short as I didn’t exactly read much! What you see above, two bookmarks and a book, is the grand sum of what got finished last month! It was while I was cross-stitching the bookmarks that I felt myself getting more into my stitching again, so that has kinda taken over, although it will have to take a back seat after Sunday as I won’t be doing any more with needles and floss until I get back off my jollies, about which more later!

So, I finished Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction, by David Seed, and made a couple of bookmarks. I did get to around a quarter of The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, which will be resumed, even if it wasn’t read in time for my book club. Our next meeting for that is 4th July, and we’ll be reading Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng for our next meeting.

Before I go any further, I was saddened to learn today that chef and author, Anthony Bourdain, has died. As I have mentioned on this blog plenty of times, I read the Bourdain Omnibus a good while ago now, when I was still working at Albert Bridge House, so we’re talking before 2009, and absolutely LOVED it! I would definitely say it’s amongst my favourites! Not being from the US, I didn’t get to see his TV shows in recent years, but I have read a couple of his books – that omnibus is two books in one – Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour. Rest in Peace, Anthony.

(All 3 books listed in case you’ve read the omnibus, or read the books separately.)

Right then, back to the books. I think, in one of my March or April blogs, shortly after Earth Hour, I put a photo on here of my Sony E-reader and my Kindle. Not entirely sure when I actually got my Sony device, but I got my Kindle, which is a 4th generation one, apparently, back at the end of 2011 – feel free to peruse the archives from around August or September 2011 to November, and you can read about the whole Kindle Saga from back in the day, lol!

Anyway, I’ll have had that Kindle 7 years by the end of this year, and I think I might have mentioned that I feel the battery goes down quite quickly considering it’s switched off a lot of the time, and I am pretty sure I mentioned a month or two ago that I was considering getting myself a new one some time soon… This is where Yammer comes in… Yammer is a social media platform for council staff, and because I’m on it, I get notifications in my inbox at work… so I get one earlier this week that one of my colleagues is selling a Kindle Paperwhite for a mere £60! So, I like the post and express my interest.

Not only had it not been sold yet, but the lady selling it works not too far from where I work! Basically, just down the road a bit! I thought it might have gone at that price, but I was in luck! They’re about £110-120 to buy absolutely brand new, so this was almost new and £60 and also came with a case for it! Plus a charger, of course.

E-readers June 2018

Left to my own devices!

The one in the leopard-print cover is my new Paperwhite, and the ones lying down are the Sony Reader and my other Kindle! I have simply added my new Kindle to my devices. I still have my books on my original one, plus I also have the Kindle app on my iPad, so can read books on that too – actually, if I want to see anything in colour, the iPad would be the one to use! My other two Kindles are black and white. Not really that arsed, though. Most of the stuff I read doesn’t need to be in colour unless there are perhaps some diagrams or photos.

I was doing some reading on my new Kindle yesterday, once I’d got it set up – resuming Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, which is now up to 41% read. I will probably continue that one as I head off on my hols very shortly! That’s going to be what I need to sort out over the weekend. Well, on Sunday, anyway, when I’m doing my packing. Tomorrow is the church summer fair at St Paul’s so I’ll be helping Mum out on the stall there, but Sunday will be the time to get the suitcase and hand luggage out and sort out the vast majority of what’s coming with me. The odd thing might need to go in right at the end, in the early hours of Monday morning, but most packing will be done the previous day.

I have already said, of my physical books, that Dune, by Frank Herbert, is definitely coming to Cape Verde with me so I can read Dune on a dune, lol! I have also decided on a definite non-fiction choice of Spirals In Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells, by Helen Scales. As this will be a beach holiday, the book about seashells seemed apt. I was also thinking about Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green, given that we might even see some turtles nesting, but that particular work of YA fiction is a hardback, and I’m already taking Dune! Perhaps I should pack Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot, by Mark Vanhoenacker? I’ve had that one a while. Should get it read, especially as my paternal grandad was a pilot! No wonder I like flying!

Congratulations to Casey Stoney, who has been appointed the Head Coach of Manchester United’s women’s team! As long as she gets our lasses playing the United way, with attack-minded, entertaining football, that will be the main thing! The less said about that bus-parking numpty in charge of our men, though, the better! Don’t get me started on him, other than that he needs to take the brake off on that damn bus or he needs to do one! I have a good mind to start instigating the waving of white hankies in the coming season, which is what the fans do in Spain when they’re fed up with the manager and want him out! Jose’s managed in Spain, so he should know what it would mean if the Red Army started getting the white hankies out at Old Trafford!

World Cup starts next week, while we’re on the subject of footy! No doubt I’ll probably watch a game or two on a screen in the hotel bar or something as I’ll still be on my jollies when things get going in Russia! Sadly, I don’t really rate the chances of my national team making much progress. England are a bit too shite these days (technical term, obviously, lol!) so they’ll either go out at the group stage and be home from Russia before the proverbial postcards, or they will somehow scrape into the knockout stages and then lose in a penalty shoot-out, which is just a very normal way for England to exit a tournament! Seen it all too often over the years, and that’s included times when England have been half-decent!

No idea what bloody time games are going to be on in Cape Verde, though! I mean, there’s a difference of 3 hours between Moscow and the UK, with the Russians ahead of us, and then the time in the Cape Verde Islands is 2 hours behind the UK, so that’s a good 5 hours’ time difference, and some parts of Russia, where games might be taking place, might be even further ahead! Bloody big place, Russia, unlike either my native home or my imminent holiday (vacation) destination! If matches are on at stupid times, I can always console myself by reading Football in Sun and Shadow, by Eduardo Galeano, a book I bought recently, at the same time as the one about seashells.

Helliconia, by Brian Aldiss, is definitely NOT coming with me! It’s far too chunky! Besides which, I’ve already chosen Dune for some chunky science-fiction, lol!

Oh, perhaps I should just get this finished and published so I can have a damn good look at the book situation and decide on my holiday reading matter?! Take care, and until next time, Happy Reading! If you’re also off on your holidays (vacation), take care and have a safe journey there and back!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction – David Seed
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  • The Bourdain Omnibus – Anthony Bourdain
  • Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  • A Cook’s Tour – Anthony Bourdain
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • Spirals In Time – Helen Scales
  • Turtles All the Way Down – John Green
  • Skyfaring – Mark Vanhoenacker
  • Football in Sun and Shadow – Eduardo Galeano
  • Helliconia – Brian Aldiss

 

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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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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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