Category Archives: E-Books & Audiobooks

Towels, Tigers, Travel and Tortoises

Towel Day

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Happy Towel Day to all you hoopy froods out there! We’ve actually got some new towels in our bathroom recently. Dark teal ones, really gorgeous shade. So, yes, I’m a frood who knows where our towels are! For those who are unfamiliar with the works of the late great Douglas Adams, I am making reference to the legendary work of science fiction humour that is The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. As 25th May was Douglas’ birthday when he was still with us, it has been declared Towel Day in his honour since he passed away.

Sadly, while on the subject of authors no longer with us, Judith Kerr passed away earlier this week, aged 95. She is particularly famous for her children’s books, one of the best known ones for young readers being The Tiger Who Came to Tea. One of those books my sister and I enjoyed when we were kids and my niece has enjoyed it too in recent years. Charlotte, the Junior Bookworm, is quite into David Walliams books these days, and has recently been laughing her way through Fing. According to my sister, Charlotte had already started reading it in Waterstone’s and had got through the first three chapters in the book shop! You know it’s a good book when you haven’t even left the store and you’re already well into it!

You won’t be at all surprised to learn that I was at Waterstone’s earlier today. Let’s face it,  you’d be more gobsmacked if I hadn’t been, lol! The big one in town, on Deansgate. I wanted some more of those Object Lessons books – you will recall in a recent blog that I bought and read Souvenir, by Rolf Potts, and I wanted more from the same series about items which interested me, so I will be mentioning those shortly. I also got some books from HMV this afternoon. Yes, I know, it’s ostensibly a record shop, or that’s what it’s famous for, but they do have books and usually on offer.

As you know, my dad passed away in January. I used to get him HMV gift cards for Christmas, I had been doing this for some time. However, he hadn’t got round to using the last two I’d got him, and Mum found them amongst his stuff the other day. I got them checked out before I bought anything and, yes, they were both still valid and with a tenner on each. I have now spent one, on some books, but I still have one to use.

Books bought 25th May 2019

Book haul from HMV and Waterstone’s.

The three at the bottom, plus White Teeth, by Zadie Smith, were from HMV, and the other five were from Waterstone’s. I did toy with getting myself another copy of Not Dead Yet, by Phil Collins, and I still might. I had read that the other year when Sarah lent me her copy. I then found a paperback edition last summer for a quid at a charity shop in Wales when I went to Conwy and Llandudno for the day in August. I then lent that copy to my dad as I thought he would enjoy it.

Although we got a lot of his stuff after he died, my Phil Collins book wasn’t amongst the belongings. It doesn’t really matter as I have read the book, but it would have been nice to have got it back anyway!

Obviously, with having my ups and downs, I am not doing the Goodreads Challenge this year, as I mentioned in a previous blog. I only just started reading again in April. Book slump, followed by bereavement, meant that I hadn’t finished a book since the end of November, until April this year. I have now finished my fifth book of the year, though, as I finished off You Do You, by Sarah Knight while I was on my lunch at work the other day! It’s the second book I have read by this writer, as I previously read and enjoyed The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k the other year.

I am very near to my sixth book, too, as I am almost at the end of the ebook version of The Girl With the Curly Hair, by Alis Rowe. You may well know her from Facebook and other forms of social media. She has Asperger’s Syndrome, so she’s on the autistic spectrum, and posts about life on the spectrum from her own experiences and in order to help others – both those with the conditions and those without. Having an invisible health issue myself, my lifelong dodgy thyroid, plus being introverted and having my run-ins with depression from time to time, there is a lot I can relate to when Alis posts on FB, so I downloaded her book on my Kindle. Other than that she is an early bird and I’m a night owl, I feel there’s a lot of cross-over and stuff in common.

I would like to get to double figures in books read by the end of the year. I know that’s a low target, but I don’t care. I also don’t care if nearly all the books I read this year are non-fiction. I have read a couple of poetry anthologies, too, but I’ve not finished any novels yet, and the books on the horizon for being finished look like being factual stuff, too. I’ve still got the book about Ole on the go, so a biography will add to the non-fiction list once that’s been read.

Anyway, as I said a few paragraphs ago, lol, I bought some more of those Object Lessons books when I was at Waterstone’s earlier. Given my impending jollies, Luggage, by Susan Harlan, was an obvious choice! I’d bought a book about souvenirs, I might as well buy one about suitcases, lol! The other two OL books are about relevant items to me due to being a bookworm and a music nut, as they are Bookshelf, by Lydia Pyne, and Personal Stereo, by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow.

Sony launched their first-ever Walkman portable personal cassette player in 1979, so it’s the 40th anniversary this year. I had a couple of personal stereos, not branded ones, since the mid 80s, getting the first one when I was 12. I think it was for Christmas in 1985, so, yes I would have been 12. I got another at about 15, but it was in 1989, ten years after Sony launched the first model, that I saved up and bought myself a Sony Walkman. One with MegaBass, in my case, and that really served me well in the early 90s when I was a student and commuting to Bolton and back on the bus for the three years of my degree at uni! Pretty sure I still have that Walkman, and that it’s in the garage. Might even still work if fresh batteries were put in it! We still have some tapes in the garage, so if my Walkman does work, I would have something to play them on, lol!

In the past 30 years, though, audio technology has changed. I went from a Walkman and tapes to a portable CD player, and also MiniDiscs at one point, and an MP3 player, and then, of course, an iPod, and in recent times the advent of having my music on my phone so that everything is on the same device and I would notice if someone was trying to ring me while I was listening to some tunes! My tastes in music haven’t changed much, just how I listen to my favourite songs! I’m listening to music digitally, on my mobile phone, when I’m on the bus or tram, but it’s pretty much the same stuff I loved to listen to on tapes back in the day! Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, and pretty much most other 80s music, especially the synth stuff! Human League, Depeche Mode, New Order, Soft Cell, Ultravox, OMD, etc…

Tortoise, by Peter Young, is not from the same series, not an Object Lessons book, but it is from a series about different animals. I am hoping to see some giant tortoises when I’m on my holidays, so that’s why I bought the book, in case you were wondering! No, I don’t have one as a pet. I don’t have any pets. Lots of music by the Pet Shop Boys, but no pets, lol! The only time we had any pets, temporarily, was when my sister and I were at primary school and we looked after Sooty, one of the nursery class’s guinea pigs, during school holidays. We did that a few times, particularly when Ellie was in the nursery.

Well, that’s about it for now, I think, so have the rest of a Happy Towel Day, fellow froods, and I shall be back again some time soon! Might not be this side of my jollies, but I will be around again before too long! Take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr
  • Fing – David Walliams
  • Souvenir – Rolf Potts
  • White Teeth – Zadie Smith
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • You Do You – Sarah Knight
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • The Girl With the Curly Hair – Alis Rowe
  • Ole – Ian MacLeay
  • Luggage – Susan Harlan
  • Bookshelf – Lydia Pyne
  • Personal Stereo – Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow
  • Tortoise – Peter Young
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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Childrens' Books, Computer Corner, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, List Challenges, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Poetry, Science Fiction, Travel

Science Fiction and Cheeky Nando’s

Tallest structures in the world 2019

Hello again, fellow Bookworms,

Trying to decide what to read next! Also got to give some thought to holiday reading. OK, so my Kindle will be coming on my jollies, so there’s plenty of ebooks on that, and there is always the chance I will find some book or other while I’m away and come home with some reading matter as a souvenir, but I usually do take a physical book or two away with me.

However, there’s still some weeks to go, and I still need to decide what to read now, never mind when I’m on the plane or sunning myself overseas! So, what I could do with, and this is a concept that might be familiar to other bookworms, particularly on Facebook and particularly if you’re a fellow Potterhead… the Book of Requirement. In the Harry Potter series, I think it might be around the 5th book where this comes in, there’s a Room of Requirement at Hogwarts. A room that isn’t always there, but makes itself appear and become available when it’s needed, which it does for Dumbledore’s Army when Hermione and others form the resistance movement against Umbridge and all the dark stuff that’s going on by then…

Thus, someone came up with the idea, in a meme, that there should be a book that turns itself into whichever book it is that is right for you at that time! A book that might, sometimes, be blank, but then when you’re having one of those “I don’t know what to read next” times, you open that book, and it is whichever book is just right for you at that time. The Book of Requirement! If there was such a book, that’s what I could do with right now, lol!

patronus is a bookworm

As for the Harry Potter books, I’ve listed them all on the books mentioned in 2019 list on List Challenges, the 7 main books, anyway. I’m not going through all the spin-offs, I just wanted to raise the issue of the Room of Requirement so you got the idea about the Book of Requirement concept.

Someone once said, and I think it might have been Margaret Atwood, that the book to read is the one that makes you think. Right now, though, the book to read is the one that will make me want to continue reading and help me get back in the mood for more books! I’ve been in a book slump since November, and my dad popped his clogs in January, then the funeral was in February, so I’ve only just been in the mood for reading since April, therefore it’s not necessarily about books that make me think, although I do read a lot of non-fiction so it is pretty true that they usually make me think, but the book to read is the book that makes you want to read even more!

Decisions, decisions! Fiction or non-fiction?

If non-fiction, what to read about? If fiction, which genre? Historical fiction? Science fiction? Fantasy? General fiction? Some people on social media suggest re-reading an old favourite when in a slump, but I just feel that I should read something I’ve not read before as I have absolutely stacks of unread and partially-read books…

I may have to resort to getting a few out and selecting a book by the time-honoured method…

Ip dip do, cat’s got flu, dog’s got chicken pox, out goes you!

Sometimes, that’s the only way to make a decision! I mentioned, last time out, that Howard’s End is On the Landing was on our landing, which seems appropriate enough, lol, but there are plenty of books on our landing. There are also some books downstairs, and, of course, in the book chest in the garage. And then, there are all the books in here. There are books right under Computer Corner as well as on top of surfaces near here!

I seem to have two copies of The Music Shop, by Rachel Joyce! One hardback and one paperback. I think it’s because I couldn’t find the hardback at the time, and found a copy of the paperback in a charity shop, thinking I would need it for the work’s book club, although they would have read that as I think I was on leave due to bereavement when they were reading it. My hardback copy was from a charity shop, too, so both copies of the book were pretty cheap!

Regular readers of my blog will recall the infamous Duplicate Books List from a year or two ago now. I think I actually ended up giving the duplicates to charity shops last time I was having a clear out, so I no longer have more than one copy of those books, and there were quite a lot on the list. I think it was at 17 or even 19 books at one point where I owned two copies of the same book! A lot of it was accidental, I genuinely forgot that I already owned those particular books, saw the book on offer in a charity shop and bought it, before realising that I already owned a copy! Occasionally, though, it was deliberate, as I knew I had a copy but didn’t know where it was, and bought another copy anyway with the intention of reading it fairly soon. However, I didn’t get around to it, as you might have guessed, lol!

Let’s see which books are lurking around here…

I’ve got Who’s the B*****d in the Black? here, the autobiography of former referee, Jeff Winter. I could read that, actually! It would be the third referee’s autobiography that I’ve read, as I’ve read The Rules of the Game, by Pierluigi Collina, and The Man in the Middle, by Howard Webb, in recent years. Could take the Jeff Winter book on holiday if I’ve finished the biography of Ole by then, as it might help alleviate the notorious Football Withdrawal Symptoms which come upon me once the season is over, and it very nearly is! Final game of the season this coming Sunday for my lads, at home to Cardiff City.

Although the lads have run out of steam in recent weeks, I still reckon we’ve done much better than we would have done if the Bus Parking One hadn’t been sacked the week before Christmas. Ole did give them belief back, but I think fitness and stamina need to be worked on to get us back to the side that used to be able to play to the final whistle as they did under Sir Alex. I expect that, with those who stay, and with the new signings, Ole will make it a priority to get a side together that keeps going for 90 minutes plus stoppage time.

We’ll be in the Europa League next season, which is a bit of a pain as those games are on Thursdays, so I’ll have to miss steel pans some weeks.

Funnily enough on the covers of the referee books, Howard Webb isn’t brandishing any cards. Pierluigi Collina is showing a yellow card on his, and Jeff Winter is showing a red card on his, giving some player the grand order of the early bath!

Still deliberating whether to take Dune with me on my jollies so I can read it on a dune in June. I was actually looking at my science fiction section the other day, and considering To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. That one actually sounds quite amusing. I could give that a go. I think it’s a time-travel novel by the sound of the blurb. I’m still considering Resistance is Futile, by Jenny T. Colgan, on the grounds of humour. It is “a riotous cocktail of geeks” according to Matt Haig.

OMG, there’s a Nando’s receipt in my copy of the Connie Willis book, lol! It’s for an order taken at 7:17pm on 2nd March 2018, and from the Nando’s in Piccadilly Gardens! Must have been in town after work and bought the book at Waterstone’s on Deansgate, and then gone for a cheeky Nando’s before I got the bus or tram home… I am partial to a cheeky Nando’s, it has to be said! On that occasion, I had the double chicken breast wrap, with chips, and a bottomless soft drink. I also had a reward on my Nando’s card, so I actually got money off! Eat in total was £8.50 which is pretty damn good!

There is a Waterstone’s receipt at the front of my copy of The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s dated 2nd February 2018, so I bought that book exactly a month before the Connie Willis novel. According to the receipt, I also bought a brown notebook with dotted pages on that same occasion, plus The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester. I probably went for a cheeky Nando’s that night as well, although there’s no evidence of my dining destination for 2nd February! Not in any of my nearby books, anyway!

I still intend to read The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon, but am thinking I might wait until I’m home from my jollies before starting that one due to the sheer physical size of the book. I don’t really want to be lugging it anywhere, so it’d be one I’d read here at home, and thus I don’t want to start it now and really get into it and then feel that I do have to cart it around with me, and I certainly don’t really want to be carting it around overseas! So, we shall wait until I am back from my hols before that one is commenced!

Another one I’m not about to attempt yet is S, by J J Abrams and Doug Dorst. I got this a couple of years ago now, as I recall, from a bookshop and cafe on Lever Street in town. I think it’s called Chapter One. The idea of this book is that it’s an old library book and it’s been written in by these two people, students I think, who write comments in the margins, and there’s loads of stuff in it between certain pages. Postcards and the likes… All part of the story, so it’s going to take some kind of strategy to work out how to tackle this one when I do read it. I think the guy at the shop said, at the time, that there’s a lot of stuff online about it, so I might look for online advice and ideas when I do get around to trying it. Again, a book I will probably want to keep at home. It’s not massively chunky,  well not compared to The Priory of the Orange Tree, lol, but with all the things inside it, I don’t want anything getting lost or mislaid once I do start reading it.

I have some seriously weird and random books, don’t I?! Regular readers of my blog won’t even be surprised, though, lol, as I’m a very random person and I do waffle on about anything and everything! It will be, mostly, about books, but then other ingredients are added to a blog entry… music, food and drink, Manchester United, holidays I’ve been on or am going on, various handicrafts… Somehow, though, it hasn’t put people off as I seem to have over 80 brave souls now who follow this blog!

I’ve always read anything which took my fancy. Some people tend to stick to one thing or another. Some like romance, some like horror, some crime… my late dad was very much into spy thrillers, he certainly read a lot of Len Deighton and John le Carré novels when I was a kid. That was during the Cold War era of the “Iron Curtain” so there was plenty of material for spy novels! He also liked war-themed stuff, but then again, his dad was a bomber pilot in the RAF during the Second World War, so that’s pretty understandable. He also liked poetry, as I mentioned recently, and I certainly share at least some of that – definitely the appreciation of Roger McGough, anyway!

I’ve liked fiction and non-fiction pretty  much alike since I first learned to read. I’ve even read a lot of reference books. That’s how much of a nerd I am, lol! I remember getting an encyclopaedia for Christmas one year as one of my pressies. I think I was about 8 or so. Anyway, there was a double-page spread of Flags of the Nations. Bear in mind this was about 1981 or so. Dad went through all the flags and wrote a C next to all the countries that were communist, so there were a lot of those back then! That’s when I asked him something of a hypothetical question at the time… If East Germany and West Germany ever became just Germany again, did my dad think they’d be western like us or eastern like the Russians? My dad thought they’d be eastern like the Russians. Then again, at that time, I think we all thought it would be how it was forever, we didn’t see the Berlin Wall coming down… that all came as a massive surprise when it happened at the end of 1989!

Obviously, towards the end of this year, it will be 30 years since the Berlin Wall came down, so I may well do a special blog on it, or at least part of a blog. Having been to Berlin in 2012, I have seen some slabs of the Wall, and also where the Wall was is marked throughout the city with two lines of cobbles and metal plates bearing the words Berliner Mauer 1961-1989. Fascinating city, I would love to go back there again.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now, so until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
  • Howard’s End is On the Landing – Susan Hill
  • The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce
  • Who’s the B*****d in the Black? – Jeff Winter
  • The Rules of the Game – Pierluigi Collina
  • The Man in the Middle – Howard Webb
  • Ole – Ian MacLeay
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog – Connie Willis
  • Resistance is Futile – Jenny T. Colgan
  • The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
  • S – J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, Computer Corner, Duplicate Books List, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Fantasy Fiction, Food & Drink, Football, Half-Finished Books, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Science Fiction, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

O.U. Pretty Things!

Recent Pixelhobby designs completed – I scanned the photo of King Eric into my software for that kit and just ordered the necessary pixels.

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Well, I did say in my last blog entry that I’d show you some of my completed Pixelhobby kits, so there you have it! I’ve made some keyrings and magnets, too, but those are for another time. This time, enjoy Sydney Harbour, “Amber” the fairy, and King Eric! I have the software on my laptop, so I scanned a suitable Cantona photo into it and then printed off the charts and ordered the pixels I needed. Those other two designs, though, were kits I bought.

Hope  you can all see that and watch the ident. Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the Open University! Yep, the OU has been going since 1969. Even though various members of my family, including my dad and I, have done our degrees at actual physical universities, the OU has had an indirect part in my education, and has certainly been a constant in the background when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, because Dad was ALWAYS watching OU programmes!

Dad graduated when I was a toddler, with his Bachelor’s degree. He was on day release from work to go to Manchester Polytechnic, as it was in those days – it’s now MMU – Manchester Metropolitan University. A bit more about MMU later, but anyway, Dad did his chemistry degree alongside working, and then later also did his Master’s in conjunction with work – when he graduated from the University of Sheffield with his Master’s, I was at university myself, halfway through my degree in Bolton, although I was studying history and literature, rather than chemistry! I was at Bolton Institute, now the University of Bolton, and this summer it will be 25 years since my graduation – the ceremony was in the October, though, so this autumn will be a quarter of a century since I fulfilled my childhood ambition of wearing a cap and gown! That made Dad and I the Three Degrees, lol!

Partial credit for this ambition has to go to comic books, The Dandy and The Beano, which I read in the waiting room at our dental surgery while awaiting a check-up! I guess our former dentist, Norman Hoy, has long since gone to that great dental surgery in the sky, but he was our dentist for absolutely donkey’s years, and when I was waiting for my dental checkup, and usually those of my mum and sister in the same visit, I would be reading these comics and noticing that the teachers in comic strips such as The Bash Street Kids all wore gowns and mortar boards! I was about four years old. If I had started school, I would have been in the reception class at primary school, so I would only just have been starting my formal education, but I thought caps and gowns looked ace! I decided I wanted in on that!

So, the next thing that would have happened, probably around the same time, would have been to see actual people on the telly wearing caps and gowns, which happened one day when I was still around this young age, still only about 4… I am guessing that this might have been an Open University programme about people graduating from the courses that they ran, having watched a lot of the programmes that my dad seemed to watch for his entertainment! I guess, because he already had a degree, and worked for a chemical firm, and actually worked in the labs when I was little, the science programmes were of particular interest to him. I asked Dad if the people wearing caps and gowns were teachers. This is when he explained to me that wearing a cap and gown didn’t necessarily mean you were a teacher, although some of those graduates may well have gone on to become teachers – it simply meant they’d been to university and got a degree. So, that’s basically what started my childhood ambition!

I had no idea at that time what, if anything, I would be good at! As I said, I might not even have started school at that point, so I had no idea about school subjects. I did know that I liked books, and I was a fluent reader by the time I started school in the autumn of 1977, but I just knew I had to be brainy, and the more subjects I turned out to be good at, the more choice I would have of what I could feasibly study up to the age of 21 or more! It was indeed up to 21, and I graduated 25 years ago with a BA (Hons) Combined Studies degree in history and literature (joint). I got a “Desmond” – a 2:2, lol!

I’d better actually write something about books, hadn’t I?! However, I couldn’t go without mentioning the Open University’s birthday, as the TV programmes are part of the soundtrack of my life, part of growing up. Especially that ident and that fanfare. It is also a huge reminder of Dad.

I also suspect that it’s the OU that’s responsible for broadcasting the programme which got me into volcanoes! By that time, I think I would have been around 7 or 8, I was certainly in the first year juniors at primary school, what is now known as year 3 in the national curriculum. It was a programme which was on telly late at night, on BBC2, which makes me suspect it was the Open University, so it was probably shown for a geology degree or something. Anyway, Dad thought it would be of interest to me, and he knew I was a night owl, lol, so he let me come down to watch this programme with him. I had never seen an erupting volcano before, and I was fascinated!

There aren’t any volcanoes where I’m going on holiday (vacation) this year, which will come as a relief to many who suspect that I’m some sort of volcano goddess who goes around standing on them and causing them to erupt! Look, just because that happened when I stood on Mount Etna in 2001, that does NOT make me Volcano Woman! Reunion does have an active volcano, Piton de la Fournaise, but, as far as I’m aware, Mauritius doesn’t. Anyway, surely a volcano goddess would actually hail from a part of the world which does have at least one active volcano? That would rule out the United Kingdom, then!

Anyway, this talk of jollies, does bring me on to a book at last, you’ll be pleased to hear! I don’t know if you’re aware of Bloomsbury’s non-fiction Object Lessons series or not, but this is a series of small, short books which take ordinary, everyday objects, and delve into the history of them and popular mythology around them. The book I am reading is Souvenir, by Rolf Potts. It has an Eiffel Tower keyring on the cover. Keyrings are one of the items I tend to seek out when I’m on my travels, along with magnets and postcards. There are other items as well, but those three things usually top my list of holiday artefacts to purchase and bring home as a reminder of my jollies!

The book by Rolf Potts is most likely to be my second finish of the year. As I said in the last blog, just before my birthday, I am not doing the Goodreads Challenge this year. I hadn’t started it when 2019 started as I was in a reading slump anyway since the end of 2018. Then, twelve days into the new year, I lost my dad, so add bereavement to a book slump and it’s a recipe for not getting much read! This is why I’m only just feeling like reading a bit again now, and as with several previous slumps, it seems to be factual books which are helping me back to reading. It always seems to be non-fiction with me, although in 2015, there were two books which helped me, and one of those was fiction, that being The Art of Racing In the Rain, by Garth Stein. The non-fiction book was Why the Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates. I actually have another book by Mr Coates, which I did start just before I went into the book slump. The Rhine, as the title suggests, is about the river which runs through a large swathe of Europe and passes through several countries, actually more countries than I suspected! We lived on the banks of the Rhine way back in 1978 when we lived in Basel, Switzerland, for six months because of Dad’s job, so I really should read that book, although it might make me sad as Dad’s not here for me to lend it to once I’ve read it, and I know he would probably have been interested.

I did mention, earlier, that I would return to the matter of Manchester Metropolitan University, and I do so now with some news from the literary world this past week. Although some posts on social media called it a sequel, the writing of Anthony Burgess which has been found at MMU is NOT a sequel to A Clockwork Orange, but more a non-fiction explanation of the novel, including how the title came about. It is not known, as yet, whether this stuff will be published, but it has at least been found, having previously been thought lost. The film version was released in 1971, but then withdrawn in 1973 at the director’s request when Stanley Kubrick heard about cases where violent incidents in the film had been copied. It was re-released in 1999 after Kubrick died.

Anyway, back to the book situation, and I will obviously have to think about what I am taking on holiday with me when I jet off, as it won’t be too long now. I will be taking my Kindle Paperwhite, so I have plenty of ebooks on that, but I’m sure there might be one or two paperbacks coming with me, and who knows what books I might find while I’m away?! It’s not unusual, as Sir Tom Jones would put it, lol, to acquire a book on my jollies! The best instance of this, so far, was in 2013 when I was in Mexico, and I found the brilliant Attention All Shipping, by Charlie Connelly, at the resort! This is a journey around the Shipping Forecast and it is very funny as well as informative, especially a certain part towards the end which mentions Faroese puffins! No more spoilers, I promise – just read it! I have actually seen it in charity shops in the past, so you might even be able to nab yourself a cheap copy of this book and help some good cause or other at the same time!

One book which probably won’t be coming on any holiday any time soon is The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon, due to its extreme chunkiness! It is a true chunky monkey, that one! Beautiful cover, though! Over 700 pages of novel, over 800 pages in total given the glossaries and maps, and it’s a hardback, so, no, it’s probably not going to be going in the suitcase despite the generous weight allowance and the fact I’ll be away for a fortnight! It’s just not practical! I know I took Dune, by Frank Herbert, to Cape Verde with me last summer, but even that one was not as large and bulky as the Samantha Shannon novel! I took Dune so that I could read it on a dune in June! I suppose I could take Dune again… I’m away for quite some time this time, travelling time and actual holiday time… and the resort where we’ll be staying boasts three beaches, so there’s scope to read Dune on a dune in June, and maybe read more of it this time round…

By the way, if any of you read The Priory of the Orange Tree either at a priory, or even underneath an orange tree, feel free to post photographic evidence! I will give a mention for anyone’s Relevant Reads! Perhaps you’ve read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in a tailor’s shop? Maybe you’ve been reading Kitchen Confidential in a kitchen? Please do feel free to join in and interact with this blog! I couldn’t care less if it’s fiction or non-fiction. Maybe it’s a children’s book? Maybe it’s a poetry anthology? Perhaps you’ve read You Took the Last Bus Home on the last bus home?! I can recommend that anthology, by the way – you’ll probably recognise some of the poems, as they’ve appeared on social media in the past few years, written by a guy called Brian Bilston. If you like the poetry of Roger McGough and or John Cooper Clarke, you might like Brian Bilston. I happen to like all those poets! I’d recommend The Luckiest Guy Alive by John Cooper Clarke, and Watch Words by Roger McGough, which is a book of my dad’s that I bagsied when I was a kid. I discovered it by chance when I was around 10 or 11, I think, in our dining room cabinet, and that was that!

He did have an appreciation for literature, even though his degrees were scientific. He studied chemistry because that was his job, and it did obviously interest him, hence all the Open University science and maths programmes he watched, which I mentioned earlier in this blog, but Dad also had a love for poetry. I bagsied the rest of his poetry books back when he and Mum split up, back in 2004, so I have had those for a long time now, it wasn’t a case of reclaiming them after he died earlier this year.

One book of my dad’s I would have liked to have reclaimed, but it wasn’t amongst his stuff when we picked up several crates of his belongings, was the book I bought him for his 70th birthday, which was John le Carré: the Biography, by Adam Sisman. It would, however, have had to have been that copy, as I wrote in it at the front for the occasion of his Big 70 in 2017. If it’s been given away and is in some charity shop, probably in the Macclesfield area of Cheshire, could someone please alert me? Ta! Pretty unlikely that I’ll get it now, but if there is a chance, I might as well have back what I got for my dad as another reminder of him. I would have written my birthday dedication to him somewhere near the front of the book, probably inside the front cover, and it’d be dated September 2017 and wishing my dad a happy 70th birthday.

Well, I think that’s about all for now. Plenty to be getting on with, lol! So, until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Souvenir – Rolf Potts
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Why the Dutch Are Different – Ben Coates
  • The Rhine – Ben Coates
  • A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John le Carré
  • Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  • You Took the Last Bus Home – Brian Bilston
  • The Luckiest Guy Alive – John Cooper Clarke
  • Watch Words – Roger McGough
  • John le Carre: the Biography – Adam Sisman

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, Computer Corner, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Fantasy Fiction, Humour, Manc Stuff!, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Pixelhobby, Poetry, School, College & Uni Reading, Science Fiction, The TBR Pile, Travel, Volcanoes

October Review – All Quiet on the Reading Front

book-reader-1

Hello there, fellow Bookworms,

Probably going to be a short blog, this, as there’s not an awful lot to report this month. Not in terms of books, anyway. It’s not that nothing has been read, I have read some books, but I haven’t finished any off this month. I have read at lunchtimes at work, and in the car on the way home from matches sometimes, especially if we’ve been stuck in the car park at Old Trafford for bloody ages after the game – the home match against Juventus, for instance, but it’s not been all that good on the reading front.

I didn’t finish Snap, by Belinda Bauer, although I did start it, and got some of it read, and there were actually four of us at Waterstone’s on 16th October, I’m pleased to report! The book club has been revived, lol! I put my idea to the others about the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and perhaps reading something set during the First World War, but in the end, we decided not to. As with the Bauer novel, my colleagues are influenced by what’s on offer at Asda, and so our current book is Why Mummy Swears, by Gill Sims, which we’re reading for our next meeting on 16th November, which will be a Friday night on this occasion! I have to say that Why Mummy Swears is definitely far more my kind of book! I’m about a third of the way through it so far, and have laughed my arse off on a number of occasions! It’s actually the sequel to Why Mummy Drinks, which I also bought at Asda as it was on offer in the £4 each or two for £7 deal, so I thought I might as well get both, even if I’m reading them out of chronological order!

We head into November tomorrow, need to get a poppy soon. Maybe this weekend. Might still read something WWI related anyway.

Only thing is, that it’s been balls of wool that have caught my eye more than books of late. There has been a lot of loom-knitting going on! Bags, scarves and hats. There’s also been some Pixelhobby done, as I finished my Christmas Candle kit, plus made some magnets and some keyrings. I might start on my snowglobe kit shortly. Like the candle design, it’s just a one baseplate kit. The Sydney Harbour kit can wait until the seasonal stuff is done, as that’s not Christmassy.

The Eighties: One Day, One Decade, by Dylan Jones, is still being read on my Kindle, so that’s just under half-way by now, around 45 or 46% read, so I’ve got things on the go, and there has been some reading done, but just not the finishing off of anything. I have also taken the precaution of acquiring my own copy of What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson, so that I can give Sarah her copy back in December when we go to see Madness, even if I haven’t finished reading the book yet.

I’ve finished 27 books so far this year, so I do want to get to 30 before the end of the year. Only three to go, doesn’t seem a lot, but it does when you feel more in the mood for other stuff than you feel for reading. Juggling hobbies can be tricky! What I need to remember is, though, that this year, I’ve been in work all year. I have spent all of 2018 in full-time employment, whereas, in 2017, I started the job I am doing in the September, and before that, I had got a fair bit more reading done, so I was over my Goodreads target and seeing how much more I could fit in. This year, reading has always had to be something which I’ve had to fit in around working, eating, sleeping, and doing other stuff.

So, yes, this is probably a pretty short blog just to get something published in October, lol, but I hope to be back in a reading mood sooner rather than later and raving about some books that I come close to calling must-reads! And you know I don’t call anything a must-read, I’m not into forcing anything! I figure we all have more than enough stuff rammed down our throats by other people, you must do this, you must read that, you must eat this, blah, blah bloody blah! Inevitably, a lot of those recommendations end up being disappointments after other people have raved about them only for you to think they’re not all that great! The nearest I will come is that I might strongly recommend that as many people as possible would do well to read a certain book, like with The Angry Chef last year, but I’m not a fan of force, unless it’s in the Star Wars sense of using the Force, lol! May the Force be with you!

Some book news before I go – there is now a SEVENTH book in the Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom! Tombland was published recently, and it’s seriously chunky! As I’m only on for the second book in that series, it will be a while before I’m tackling that one! I have read Dissolution, so I’m on for Dark Fire.

This next one is probably a slimmer volume, but significant to me and other Petheads… 1st November sees the publication of One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem, by Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys. I actually thought it was already out the other week, and then found, to my disappointment, that it wasn’t out yet, which would explain why the hell I couldn’t find it when I was searching all the possible shelves at Waterstone’s in the Trafford Centre! This has happened to me too many times, lol! Seems like I’m forever thinking books are available before they are! There’s been plenty of times I’ve heard about a book and really fancied it, only to discover that it’s not published yet! Usually after I have scoured at least one branch of Waterstone’s looking in vain for the damn book!

With Neil Tennant‘s book, I was like… “Is it in poetry? Is it in music? Is it in autobiography? * looks it up on her phone * Bugger! It’s not even bloody published yet!”

Ah, the ups and downs of being a bookworm, eh?!

Well, that’s about it for now, so until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Snap – Belinda Bauer
  • Why Mummy Swears – Gill Sims
  • Why Mummy Drinks – Gill Sims
  • The Eighties: One Day, One Decade – Dylan Jones
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner
  • Tombland – C. J. Sansom
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom
  • One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem – Neil Tennant

 

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Football, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, Loom Knitting, Month in Review, Music, Ongoing Concerns, Pixelhobby

September Review: Books, Bags, Pixels…

Planet Earth finished Sept 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Time once more for a monthly review of the stuff I’ve been getting up to, and it does include two books being finished off this month, one ebook and one paperback. It also includes a lot of loom knitting and a not inconsiderable amount of fiddly little pixels, lol! As you can see from the above photo! I am not sure when I last blogged, it might have been just before I went to the craft show, in which case you wouldn’t have known about the pixels as I discovered them by chance at the Creative Crafts Show on 8th September.

I had gone there looking for wool and for loom knitting stuff, and I certainly found some wool, but I chanced upon a stall run by The Craft Dookit, which was offering Pixelhobby kits and accessories and where you could do a make and take pixellated keyring! So, I paid the necessary and made a keyring, choosing a snowman design. I also bought some other kits while I was there, some keyrings and magnets, and the Planet Earth kit which you can see at the top. Yeah, before you ask, it did make me think of the Duran Duran song, but I guess you worked that out, knowing what an 80s girl I am, lol!

The Planet Earth kit does look very science fiction, doesn’t it?!

Not that there has been any science fiction read in September. Both the books I finished this month have been non-fiction, those being Your Eighties, by Sarah Lewis, on my Kindle, and Good As You, by Paul Flynn, in paperback, celebrating 30 years of Gay Britain and covering the three decades from 1984 and the release of both “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat, to 2014 and the go-ahead for gay weddings here in the UK. Not only did I love all the 80s music references, but a lot of the book focused on events up here in Manchester, so there were plenty of mentions for places I know. As I think I may have mentioned in previous blogs, I had a work placement in the late 90s, where the office was on the edge of the Gay Village, so I am not unfamiliar with that part of town.

I really need to get on with Snap, by Belinda Bauer, as I need to get a decent amount of it read for 16th October, and have just over a fortnight. I also need to get on with What Does This Button Do? That’s the autobiography of Iron Maiden frontman, Bruce Dickinson, and it’s the one my friend Sarah has lent me, so I need to get it read before we go to see Madness in December at the Manchester Arena. Two months to get on with it. May have to do some each night. It’s a hardback, so I don’t really want to be lugging it around, and wouldn’t want anything to happen to it anyway, as it isn’t my book.

The next book for the book club at work is Salmon Fishing In the Yemen, by Paul Torday. I haven’t actually read that one before, although I’ve had a copy for some time now. All the previous work book club choices have been re-reads for me, but this one isn’t. On the Kindle, there’s a couple of books which I am reading, and may well be my post-match reading matter. I’m already reading them at lunchtime at work, though. The Eighties: One Day, One Decade, by Dylan Jones, is about the Live Aid gig on 13th July 1985, so that’s my 80s music fix sorted, and Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading, by Lucy Mangan, is a book about books, so also right up my street! I was 12 when Live Aid took place, and was watching it on my telly. I still think, however cheesy it might sound, that “Rockin’ All Over The World” by Status Quo was the most appropriate song with which to open that gig! I have the DVD set of Live Aid. It has everything on it except Led Zeppelin, as they thought their performance was so bad that they didn’t want it on the box set because they were too embarrassed!

Sometimes I feel like I would be better off reading during the bloody match, though! Just keeping everything crossed that Jose gets the boot sooner rather than later! How can the board justify him remaining as manager when we’re losing?! It’s apparently our worst start to a Premier League season. Yes, that’s right. Even worse than under Moyesy in 2013-14! And Moyes was out of his depth as our manager, so the so-called “Special One” (more like the Boring One) being worse than Moyesy…

I know you can’t entertain ALL the time, but we can and should be able to expect our team to entertain MOST of the time! The style of play is shite, to use a technical term, and it’s not even as if it’s getting the results, is it?! It’s not even effective! The players hate it, the fans hate it… and if we don’t do well enough in the league, the business partners aren’t gonna like it either, so if that’s all the bloody directors think about, they need to wake up and smell the coffee because they NEED the performances on the pitch to be winning and attractive in order for the performances on the financial front to be good too! Whatever it costs to sack Jose and pay him off would be worth it if we can get a manager in who does things the right way! Get back to attack-minded football, give our forwards and midfielders free rein to entertain and bang in the goals, bring up a few more from the youth team, and only criticise players in private!

Defend in public, throw the teacups behind closed doors! That’s how you get players on board, that’s how you retain their trust! Then they know that even if they’ve had a total ‘mare and they know they’re going to get the hairdryer treatment, as it was known when Sir Alex was manager, they know that the gaffer will stick up for them in the press conference, and the kick up the arse will only happen either in the dressing room, or in the manager’s office at the training ground. That is the way things SHOULD be done! I wouldn’t mind if the manager came out with Arsene Wenger’s old catchphrase and told the press that he didn’t see the incident! Wenger, like Fergie, knew how to treat players. That’s why he was Arsenal’s manager for over 20 years.

Pixel piano and owl

Anyway, enough of that. Back to the crafts, I think. Obviously, the pixels have been a big part of this month’s creativity, especially as one of my orders arrived on Wednesday, from Crafter’s Cavern. I’m still awaiting an order from The Craft Dookit, though, with a couple of kits. As I have done cross-stitch, there is a similarity, although you’re putting diddy little pixels onto baseplates rather than threading some floss and stitching it onto aida or evenweave. The pixel shades all have colour codes, so in that respect it’s similar to stitching! There are keyrings, which are 11 pixels by 14, little squares which are 24 by 24, and standard baseplates, which are 40 by 50 pixels. You can also get XL pixels which cover 4 prongs on a baseplate (2 by 2) and are less fiddly – you can put those in by hand rather than needing tweezers!

That’s the latest finished bag, by the way! I have now started another, although the second picture shows an earlier picture of the scarf I have started. The cream wool is now being used for my latest bag, as I’m onto brown wool on the scarf – I have two huge balls of this stuff, one cream, one brown, it has a bit of a towelling feel to it, Bernat Blanket it’s called, and I’m alternating colours, about 12cm of one, then I change over to the other. On my second lot of brown now. I think of it as coffee and cream. As well as finishing  the bag, I also finished a purple snood.

That’s the snood on the left. On the right is my niece, taking after me on the music front as well as being Junior Bookworm! I came home from work one night this week to be treated to a violin recital from Charlotte! She’s just got a new violin – gone from a quarter-sized one to a half-sized one now that she’s bigger. She’s really good at playing, really fluent with it, and played us a few tunes, including the Can Can! I will be busy this coming week getting a card and gift wrap – it’s nearly my nephew’s 2nd birthday, and we’ll be having the party next weekend! Reuben also likes books, as well as diggers and dinosaurs! I understand he is also partial to Thomas the Tank Engine! Anyway, Auntie Jo is going to be busy!

Oh, and Slimming World. Nearly forgot. I have now lost over 1 and a half stones! The Monday after the craft show, I reached that particular milestone exactly, and have dropped another 3lbs since then, so I’m only 4lbs off a 2 stone loss… that’s my next aim. I have changed my target weight. I may yet change again, but at the moment it is a weight that would give me a 2 and a half stone loss in total from what I started at when I first got on the scales on my sister’s birthday in June!

I think that’s about it for now. I’ve probably covered everything… Books, loom knitting, pixels, footy, music, Reuben’s birthday, Slimming World… yep, that’s pretty much it… Hopefully there will be a Waterstone’s book club to report on in October, everything crossed for 16th October and for a few people to turn up! Until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Your Eighties – Sarah Lewis
  • Good As You – Paul Flynn
  • Snap – Belinda Bauer
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • Salmon Fishing In the Yemen – Paul Torday
  • The Eighties: One Day One Decade – Dylan Jones
  • Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading – Lucy Mangan

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Not Dead Yet!

Your Eighties finished 7th September 2018

Another book finished! This was a great read for me!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Back again with another blog, and to paraphrase a bit of Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Waterstone’s Book Club have been greatly exaggerated! Well, possibly! Thanks to some of my council colleagues, it looks like things are back on, as I was receiving emails earlier this week from a lady who I met by chance at the gym yesterday evening after my post-work workout, and she and at least one other person expressed an interest in joining the book club because they might want to read something more recent than the library service can provide for the work book club.

To cut a long story short, as Spandau Ballet sang back in the early 80s, lol, I had communications both from work and from a lady called Charlotte at Waterstone’s Deansgate, and I am set to meet Vivienne and others at the usual place at 6pm on 16th October to discuss Snap, by Belinda Bauer!

Thus, the book club, which looked to be popping its clogs last month after I ended up as Billy No-Mates at Waterstone’s on meeting night, has somehow pulled through and come out of intensive care! Hence the blog title, Not Dead Yet, which is, coincidentally, the title of Phil Collins‘ brilliant autobiography which I read and loved at the start of this year! I had to give that copy back as my friend Sarah had lent it to me, and I returned it to her when we went to see Paul Young in February at the Preston Guild Hall, as you may recall. However, I did manage to pick up a paperback copy when I was in Wales the other week, for a mere quid in a charity shop in Conwy, so I now have one of my own, and I have let my dad borrow it. I thought he would enjoy it, but didn’t think it would be right to have lent him Sarah’s copy!

I have let Charlotte from Waterstone’s know about the date and the book for the meeting, and I have now emailed a few of the people who have been in the book club in the recent past to let them know it’s back on, and to give them details of the date, time and book. Keeping everything crossed, although maybe not eyes, lol, that people turn up! Personally, I don’t give a shit how much or how little of the book they’ve read, I don’t always get books finished so I can’t call others out on it, and anyway, it’s turning up that matters right now! I just want enough people to turn up to make it worth doing!

I think, if enough of us do turn up, that I will make a suggestion for the next book club, which would probably meet some time in November. I know this will be an old book, but with it being 100 years since the end of the First World War, I think I might suggest that we read All Quiet On the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, or something of that ilk. Talking of the centenary of the end of WWI, a large display of poppies is going to be outside the Imperial War Museum North on Salford Quays until late November, so anyone in my neck of the woods has a couple of months to go and see it.

Me with Bee United 1st September 2018

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of large items on display in my area, this brings me back to Bee In the City, which is currently still running until about 23rd of this month, so you’ve still got around another fortnight to do any more bee-spotting! That was me last weekend, when I was on my epic bee hunt – I got someone to take a photo of me with Bee United at Old Trafford. I’d been doing a lot of bee spotting with my mum on the Friday afternoon, which I mentioned in my August Review blog, and then I continued my quest the next day, albeit on my own, visiting Media City, the Lowry Outlet Mall (where there’s a lot of little bees, including one decorated by pupils from my former high school), Old Trafford and then into town.

I was getting about by tram and by foot, and as I was walking from Old Trafford football ground to the cricket ground and tram stop, I was thinking how I was now at least in a fit state to do all this walking around. If it’d been a couple of months ago, before I started at Slimming World, I would have been knackered and having to rest a lot more than I needed to last weekend! And, despite what I had to eat during my week off work, when I went to Wales, and the Lake District, and even had an ice cream on the Saturday while making my way from one Old Trafford to the other, I still managed to lose 4 and a half pounds on Monday when I weighed in after a week off! If I can get at least another pound off this coming Monday, I’ll have lost 1 and a half stone!

Right, anyway, I was back in work on Monday, and brought my colleagues some fudge from my trip to Wales. I had a lot of emails to catch up with after having been off for a week! I’d missed the August book club meeting, where Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine was discussed, but the next meeting is on 25th September, and it’s another re-read for me, as the book is Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruen, which, ironically, was the first book I read for the Waterstone’s Deansgate book club when I joined that in October 2008! After that, the October book will be Salmon Fishing In the Yemen, by Paul Torday. This will be the first one which won’t be a re-read for me, lol! I own a copy of the book, had it for donkey’s years, but not got around to reading it yet.

So, I have Water For Elephants and Snap to get on with for book clubs, plus What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson, the Iron Maiden frontman, as Sarah has lent me that one and I need to get it read so I can give it back to her when we go to see Madness at the Manchester Arena in December. Not started Snap yet, but 15% of the way through Water For Elephants and 10% read of What Does This Button Do? at the mo. I can probably skim much of the elephants one, as I have read it before, I just need to refresh myself on the story. The other two books with deadlines are new to me.

Now on to the non-deadline books, and, as you can see from the top of the blog, I’ve already finished one book this month, as I polished off Your Eighties, by Sarah Lewis, on my Kindle in the early hours of today! Not sure how I came about it – it may well have been either free or 99p on a Kindle offer, and you know what I’m like when it comes to the 1980s, so it had to be downloaded and read! This means I’m now on 26/30 on my Goodreads Challenge, only 4 more books to go to meet my target, which is pretty good considering I’ve been working a whole year now, full-time, and I got bugger all read in June and only one book either side of that in May and in July. Getting six read in August was a big help!

My current Handbag Book, besides all the ebooks on my Kindle, is Good As You, by Paul Flynn, which is a 30 year history of gay Britain from 1984 to 2014 taking in the three decades from the release of “Relax” and “Smalltown Boy” to the go-ahead for gay weddings in the UK. It’s probably the book I am most enjoying right now, and not just because of all the 80s disco music, but also because a lot of it centres around Manchester, and the writer is a Manc and not much older than me, so I know, or at least know of, many of the places in town that he mentions! I actually went to the gay village last weekend on my bee hunt, as there is a big bee in a park near Sackville Street and Canal Street. A rainbow-coloured bee, needless to say! The LGBTQ+ Queen Bee. It was moved temporarily, as I believe it was on a float during the Pride parade at the end of August, but it has returned to the park. Years ago, back in the late 90s, I had a work placement at a housing association, and the office where I was based was on the edge of the gay village.

LGBTQ+ Queen Bee

The guy in the bee’s eye is Alan Turing, the guy who cracked the Enigma Code, therefore played a major part in helping the Allies defeat the Nazis and win the Second World War. Thus, to any decent person, this guy is a hero. Unfortunately, not to our politicians, certainly not those around at the time, who had a big problem with the fact that he was gay. Some people are just ungrateful bastards, aren’t they?! One of the many reasons why I dislike politicians, especially right-wing ones.

I’ve never been bothered as to whether a couple is a man and a woman, two men, or two women. What I think is important is that people are loyal to one another in relationships. Whether that’s a straight one or a gay one is unimportant, the important thing is to be faithful and not go seeing anyone else behind your partner’s back.

Anyway, back to the books, and Good As You is 37% read, so that’s currently leading in the Ongoing Concerns list, closely followed by The Antidote, by Oliver Burkeman at 35% read. There are some other partially-read books, but they’ll have to take a back seat to some of the books with deadlines. I can return to less urgent reads later.

I’m off to the Creative Craft Show tomorrow, at Event City, near the Trafford Centre, so I’ll be taking a bit of my loom knitting with me and looking for tips, particularly regarding different stitches, and with casting off, and on Sunday I might be going to see those poppies I mentioned earlier, which are on display outside the Imperial War Museum North. I will be back with another blog entry soon enough though, but until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Snap – Belinda Bauer
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • All Quiet On the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen
  • Salmon Fishing In the Yemen – Paul Torday
  • What Does This Button Do?  – Bruce Dickinson
  • Your Eighties – Sarah Lewis
  • Good As You – Paul Flynn
  • The Antidote – Oliver Burkeman

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August Review – Books, Bees, and a Bag

Bookstore Conwy Wales 29 August 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little bag finished August 2018

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

Me with a bee Manchester 31st August 2018

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

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

French Revolutions finished August 2018

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

Bara Brith and Coffee in Conwy 29th August 2018

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

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

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

Twisting My Melon finished 30 August 2018

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

Little hat finished 31st August 2018

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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