Category Archives: E-Books & Audiobooks

The Force is Strong with these Books…

SF Introduction finished May 2018

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

I probably should have blogged yesterday so that I could have wished you Happy Star Wars Day, but never mind! I hope the Force was strong with all of you!

I also hope the Force is strong with Sir Alex Ferguson. Just as I was about to start this blog, I saw the news that our legendary former manager has had emergency surgery for a brain haemorrhage, so I shall keep everything crossed for a full and speedy recovery.

The less said about the current side at United, and last night’s match, the better, so we shall move swiftly on and celebrate the fact that I have now finished my 18th book in 2018! It was Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction, by David Seed, and an interesting book it was too, giving me some ideas for further reading. I also have some more wipeboard markers and they seem to be a bit more bold than my other set. I think you should be able to see the words more clearly on my book board. Also, you can see my magnets, as I forgot to put my Harry Potter and Charlie Bucket Funko Pops on the photo. I am hoping to get more magnets when I go on holiday, as well as flags. It is somewhere I haven’t been before, so I will need some souvenirs, lol!

Boa Vista Sunset

So, before I set off to see gorgeous sunsets like the one above, I need to sort out things on the book front. Having finished a book earlier today, it frees me up to focus on the book club book in time for 30th May, and thus get on with The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, which is currently at 11%. As I have done previously, I might try to trim down the OC list before I go away, and not add any new books to it until just before my hols. I want to get The Hate U Give read, and then perhaps see if I can move both Hawksmoor and The Cellist of Sarajevo on a bit, percentage-wise. Maybe also my ebook, Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder.

Technically, that is my match day ebook, but there’s only one home game left this season, against Watford, so I will have to read it whether I’m on my way home from Old Trafford or not! Otherwise, it wouldn’t be back in action again until the new season starts in August! I could always take it on the plane. Even if I don’t take my Kindle on my jollies, my iPad will be coming and I have the Kindle app on that, so I could read ebooks on my travels should I wish to.

Mum was looking at her books and thinking about her holiday reading earlier. Looks like Thinking Out Loud, by Rio Ferdinand, might be coming with her as one of her books. If Ellie has finished Six Little Miracles before we go away, she said she’d like to take that one with her, too. I’m still thinking I will take Dune, despite its chunkiness, so that I can read Dune on a dune in June! Opportunities like that do not present themselves all that often, so it has to be done, lol! My other book choices are yet to be determined!

Nerdy bookworm photo 2018

A very nerdy photo, I’m sure you’ll agree! Some of my science fiction books, and some postcards from the Museum of Science and Industry (MoSI) in Manchester on the magnetic noticeboard behind them. You can see what a chunky monkey Dune is, can’t you?! One of those postcards shows the first computer, so I thought it was apt for putting on display near Computer Corner! There’s also a few robots, Tim Peake, and Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.

I still think Resistance is Futile might be read soon, it sounds funny. Could take that away with me. THE great science fiction comedy, however, is The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To the Galaxy, by the late great Douglas Adams, and why shouldn’t space be a laugh?! Robots and aliens needn’t be scary, even if the Vogons did write the third worst poetry in the universe, and wouldn’t save their own grandmother from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal! On 25th May, 20 days from now, it will be Towel Day in honour of Douglas Adams – a hoopy frood who definitely knew where his towel was!

Actually, while we’re on all things geeky, nerdy and computery, how about this start to a cover letter for a job application…

Dear Sir or Modem,

LOL! That’s from a book called Crap CVs , by Jenny Crompton. “There are plenty of books on how to write the perfect CV – but none at all on what not to write. This is that book.” – It’s a great laugh and one of those books you can dip in and out of. I do think, however, that companies SHOULD take on people who have been observant enough to spot typos on their vacancy adverts – someone who can spell and proof-read would make those companies that little bit more professional, surely?! Not that my last interview was due to an advert, as it wasn’t – I was approached at a job fair last summer for a couple of copies of my CV as there might be an opening coming up. That led to the interview, and to being phoned up a couple of hours later and offered the job!

When you read through the examples in Crap CVs, you can see why some people have had considerable difficulty in gaining paid employment! Reaching level 58 on Flappy Bird might be a computer skill, but not really one which is required in a place of work! I do think, though that someone who lists, amongst their special skills, the fact that they bring in doughnuts on Fridays, should certainly be considered, at least for an interview! I’m sure there must be places of work where someone would say that constitutes being a good team player!

For my followers across the Atlantic, a CV is what you call a resumé. CV stands for curriculum vitae, and is probably used because it sounds a lot more fancy in Latin than it would in English, lol! Then again, resumé is French, so we’re all more willing to use a foreign word or two because it sounds fancy and a bit more short and to the point than putting the heading “Education and Employment So Far In My Life” at the top of the paper, even though that’s basically what it is, isn’t it?! We needed something that isn’t so long-winded! I couldn’t find it in the book, but I could have sworn that I read something somewhere about how not to apply for jobs, where a person had quoted Bon Jovi lyrics either in their application or at their interview, and told the prospective employers, “I’ve seen a million faces and I’ve rocked them all!”

Actually, if it was me sifting through a shitload of applications, and someone had put something like that on their CV or cover letter, I would be inclined to at least invite them for interview, even if it was simply for giving me something interesting and amusing to read during what must be a very tedious process! Well, providing they’d met the other criteria, lol, but a sense of humour from an applicant would go down well with me!

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now, so I shall get this published so you can all enjoy a good read. It’s a bank holiday weekend here, so a nice long one, and, for once, the weather is sunny and warm instead of the typical bank holiday rain, so you might want to go out somewhere, or perhaps have a barbecue, but maybe you’ll still find time to enjoy this waffle! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction – David Seed
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Thinking Out Loud – Rio Ferdinand
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • Resistance is Futile – Jenny T. Colgan
  • The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • Crap CVs – Jenny Crompton
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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Chunky Monkeys, Computer Corner, E-Books & Audiobooks, Football, Foreign Languages, Goodreads, Humour, List Challenges, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Science Fiction, The TBR Pile, Travel

April Review – Birthday and other news

Birthday photo 23 04 2018

Me on my birthday at Patisserie Valerie in town

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Here we are at the end of April, and it’s been pretty busy, hence the low number of blogs and low number of books finished off this month! After three months on the trot where I finished off 5 books and published 6 blogs, we’re down to two books and three blogs, but that’s how these things go. I might get a month where I get loads of books finished off, so there’s time yet to meet, and then exceed, my 30 book target on Goodreads.

I finished off The Vile Victorians, from the Horrible Histories series by Terry Deary, which was a quick read at the start of April, and the other book I read this month was Six Little Miracles, by Janet Walton, about her sextuplets, who are now in their thirties! My sister is now reading this book.

6 Little Miracles finished

Shortly after Easter, I was taking advantage of a guest pass which my mum had for her gym, where I could go for up to 14 days, so I was going to David Lloyd in Trafford Park quite a bit in early to mid April, and either going for a work out on the exercise bikes and treadmill, or going for a swim, which may also contribute to the lower book tally this month. I do need to look at joining a gym, to burn off at least some of the stuff I eat at work, lol, although it will probably be the council-run leisure centres who get my membership, especially as I would get staff discount on the monthly cost, and wouldn’t have to pay a joining fee – perks of where I work!

Talking of work, I am there until at least the end of July, although there are certainly hints of continuing beyond then, as my manager said if I wanted to book any time off in August, I should get my requests in. We are awaiting the outcome of a review, which is why they can’t make anyone permanent at the moment, but it might be possible once we have that review. As long as they still want me, which they seem to do, that’s the main thing!

Therefore, once I knew I was going to be working until at least the end of July, I decided that it was time jollies were booked! Mum and I last went away at the end of 2016, going to Marrakech, Morocco, in October-November 2016, which we really enjoyed. This time, we’ll be chilling out in the Cape Verde Islands and it’ll be rather sooner than the autumn. After the footy season’s over, though!

I can’t bloody believe we’re nearly at the end of yet another season! Where the hell do they all go?! Yesterday, when we beat Arsenal 2-1 at Old Trafford, that was our penultimate home game for 2017-18! We have two away games, against Brighton and Hove Albion, and against West Ham United, and then we end the Premier League season at home to Watford! Of course, we do have the FA Cup Final to look forward to, as well, when we will play Chelsea at Wembley on 19th May, but my last fixture of this season will be that Watford game. Not going to Wembley this time, too near my jollies, really, and it’s not as though I’ve not been in recent times! So, there won’t be the blog about which books I should take down to Wembley, but there may well be a blog about which books I should pack in my suitcase!

It was also the last time Arsene Wenger would be the visiting Arsenal manager at Old Trafford, having recently announced that he was stepping down at the end of this season after 22 seasons in charge of the Gunners! It won’t be the same without him telling the media that he didn’t see the incident, lol! He got a commemorative silver vase, which was presented to him by Sir Alex Ferguson before the kick-off yesterday, a move which Arsene has described as “classy”. Truly the end of an era. I hope that the Gooners can end the Wenger era on a high note by winning the Europa League so that Arsene bows out with silverware! I know they’ve got to win away after a 1-1 draw in the home leg against Atletico Madrid, but they can do it!

We definitely need to score far more goals next season, though, especially if we have any serious ambition to bring the Premier League trophy back to Old Trafford! (It’s high time we did! 2013 is getting to be a bit too long ago now!) Parking the bus does NOT win the league over here! That might work in a defensively-minded league such as Serie A in Italy, but English football is about an attack-minded game and entertainment! Parking the bus should be restricted to a temporary tactic for the first 15 minutes of a European away game, where it is a good idea to keep the home team quiet and thus shut their fans up, lol, but other than that, it should be attack, attack, attack!

I know some Reds moaned that LvG’s style of play was boring and there was a lot of going sideways rather than forward, as though our players were crabs in a past life, but the same can easily be said about these past two seasons under Jose Mourinho. I have failed to notice any significant difference in the level of entertainment! There have been some more comebacks from losing positions, which is promising, and a reminder of the Fergie days, but that needs to happen ANY time we are not winning – there needs to be that urgency in all matches – you can’t just pick and choose which games you make an effort in!

Some more of my match-day ebook was read yesterday on the way home from our late win over the Gooners, and I have now reached 30% of Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, putting it level with The Cellist of Sarajevo on the Ongoing Concerns list. Hawksmoor, at 58% read, has now been overtaken by Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction, by David Seed, which is at 61%. I’ve got 30 days until my next book club meeting, as that is on 30th May, but I have now started The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, and have reached the 10% mark, so we’re up and running! It’s the first YA book for a while, and it’s a current Handbag Book.

Birthday pressies from work 2018

Birthday pressies from my colleagues! 🙂

Obviously, as well as all the Easter eggs, gymming, footy and occasional bits of reading, lol, April means Chief Bookworm’s Birthday, and I am now the grand old age of 45! You’ll be pleased to learn that there were some Waterstone’s gift cards amongst my pressies, one from my colleagues on the admin team at work, and one from our friends the Wisemans, so more books will be acquired. OK, books will be acquired anyway, but especially when there’s gift cards…

Ah, now I remember something else from the last time I’d blogged… I’d just got a new mobile phone, I’d upgraded after almost four years of my Sony Xperia Z2, and got myself the Sony Xperia XZ1, which is a lovely phone. However, at the time of blogging, I had a slight problem – the sim card was too big for my new phone! Hence one more night of the old one. The following day, I went to the O2 shop after work and got my new mobile sorted out and all up and running – have I ever said on here how much I love O2 Gurus?! They’re bloody brilliant! One of them helped me out online that first night and explained that I would need a smaller sim for my new phone and what I needed to do, and then another Guru helped me out in the shop when I was at the Trafford Centre the next night!

Before I wrap this up and finish the monthly review, I shall mention a few books I have acquired of late. Because Patisserie Valerie on Deansgate is right next to Waterstone’s, there was no way I could be in town on my birthday without at least a browse in my natural habitat, lol! I ended up coming away with Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, a bit of science-fiction of the time travel variety, and The Senility of Vladimir P, by Michael Honig, which seemed like it might be a good laugh! That one actually brings us up to 200 books mentioned on this year’s blog list on List Challenges! Of course, you won’t see that until the very end of this year or the start of next year, but we’re up to 200 different books mentioned already!

Also should mention that I have an Arndale Centre gift card. Not technically a birthday pressie, although I did pick it up on my birthday, but it was from the Volition course at the Manchester Cathedral visitors’ centre – if you recall, I was on a course there last summer prior to starting my current job in the September, and it was to do with getting in a job and still being in one earlier this year when they got in touch with me. I have got a lot left on the card, but I did treat myself to a couple of books, as there is a Waterstone’s in the Arndale! I think the only places in the Arndale which don’t accept the card are the key-cutting kiosk and some of the pound shops, but everywhere else accepts it.

I bought myself Dune, by Frank Herbert, and The City and the Stars, by Arthur C. Clarke. Dune is a bit of a chunky monkey of a book, but I am still quite tempted to take it on my jollies with me, if only to say I’ve read Dune on a sand dune, lol! I could start a theme here – Relevant Reads! So, if you’ve ever read War Horse while sitting on a horse, or The Beach while sunning yourself on a beach, do let me know! If you’ve got photographic evidence, even better!

Anyway, that is about it for now! Let’s see what May brings, particularly on the book front, but until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Vile Victorians (Horrible Histories) – Terry Deary
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Science Fiction: a Very Short Introduction – David Seed
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Kindred – Octavia E. Butler
  • The Senility of Vladimir P – Michael Honig
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • The City and the Stars – Arthur C. Clarke
  • War Horse – Sir Michael Morpurgo
  • The Beach – Alex Garland

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Food & Drink, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Humour, List Challenges, Month in Review, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Science Fiction, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

One More Night…

books and phone brochure April 2018

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

In two weeks’ time, Chief Bookworm will be halfway to ninety! Yep, yours truly will turn 45 in a fortnight, I’m officially middle-aged, lol! Still a mad bookworm, and it’s book club on Wednesday, but we all know it’s hardly been read. Hoping for better luck with the next book and hoping it grabs me more than North and South. It just didn’t grab. Other books were more enticing. That’s the way it goes with some books. Not everything is going to float your boat, even if you read widely.

Oh, well! On with the show! Got up to the 34% stage of Six Little Miracles at lunchtime today, so we’re a third of the way through Janet Walton‘s autobiography of becoming mum to six baby girls in 1983! I am up to 26% of The Cellist of Sarajevo, so doing fine with that one, too! Twisting My Melon is at 25% and I hope to get more of that read on Sunday on my Kindle when I’m on my way home from Manchester United vs West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford. Back to the footy shortly, but I shall round off the OC update by mentioning that we’re at 58% with Hawksmoor. I might have been up to that stage the other day, I can’t remember, but I know I am definitely over the halfway point with that one now.

In the top photo, you might see Ready Player One – that’s the audiobook, so it’s a set of 14 CDs. I will eventually put them onto my computer, and then possibly onto other devices, so I can have a listen. Maybe read along, as I do have the paperback, which I did start some time ago. I’m on for page 47, the start of chapter 4 when I’m ready to resume, although I might just let myself be read to. Thing is, I’m not sure what, if anything, to do when listening to an audiobook. Perhaps do some cross stitch? But part of me thinks I should just be listening to it. I am not that used to using them, although I do have a few. I have heard, as well as read, Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes, and that’s really good. I can definitely recommend that book! I read it two years ago, it’s on my List Challenges list of books I read in 2016.

Also in that photo, you’ll see a travel guide – I now know I’ll be at work into the summer, and thus I am able to enjoy some time off from it, lol! Well, I will be doing so in a couple of months. The other book, the chunky one, is The Complete Robot, by Isaac Asimov, which is a book of his robot stories. I remember when my dad used to get a monthly magazine called Complete Car, and I used to think it’d be a bit silly if it were called Incomplete Car, lol! Like as though it was missing something… wing mirrors, steering wheel, indicators.. actually, a lot of people seem to drive as though they’re missing their indicators, lol! Many’s the time I’ve been in the car with my mum and we’ve seen at least one dickhead who must think we’re Mystic Meg and Claire Voyant, as they clearly haven’t been arsed to tell us that they wish to turn left or right!

Enough ranting about drivers from the Stevie Wonder School of Motoring, lol, and back to other matters! Obviously, besides being chuffed about booking jollies, the weekend’s footy saw my lads come from behind to win the Manchester Derby 3-2! Apart from the fact that our second half goals came earlier in the game on Saturday than they did almost a quarter of a century ago, there are a lot of comparisons with our 3-2 comeback victory at Maine Road on 7th November 1993 when two goals from Eric Cantona and one from Roy Keane saw United overhaul a 2-0 half-time deficit to come back across town with all three points! This time it was another Frenchman, Paul Pogba, who bagged the brace, before Chris “Mike” Smalling scored what turned out to be our winner at the Etihad.

I was in the Trafford Centre while the derby was going on across town, and thought the lads were just throwing it away when they went two goals down in the first half, so I buggered off into Waterstone’s to look at books and take my mind off the footy, plus I needed a travel guide, of course, having a holiday to prepare for. When I came out of Waterstone’s and bothered to glance at my mobile, fearing the worst, we were into the second half and on level terms, 2-2 thanks to Monsieur Pogba. Merci beaucoup, Pog! I headed for the O2 shop to look at mobile phones in a much better mood, lol!

I’ve had my current one for nearly 4 years now, having got my Sony Xperia Z2 in July 2014, so I had been entitled to an upgrade for some time, and I went in to have a word with the staff and get their advice. I decided on the Sony Xperia XZ1, and the guy in the shop said to phone up customer services, which I did today after work, and they could get me some money off my new tariff, which they did, and I collected my phone after I’d been to the gym for a bit…

The only thing is that I feel like I’m in some technological fairy story… Goldilocks and the Three Sims! My sim card for my current phone won’t fit in my new one! I need an even smaller sim, which I am going to sort out at the phone shop tomorrow. So I tried some previous phones, but the sim bit in those is too big for the current sim! Eventually, I managed to get the damn thing back in my current phone, so we have an operational mobile, which I will be using as my main phone for one more night, as Phil Collins once sang, lol, hence the title of tonight’s blog.

sci fi and new phone April 2018

Got a couple of charity shop acquisitions earlier, having popped in to the Headway shop on Swinton Precinct after work. The Giant Book of Science Fiction Stories, edited by Isaac Asimov, written by numerous different authors, and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, by Philip K. Dick. Alongside the books, you can see my new phone. Hopefully, it will be working and fully operational by this time tomorrow night!

The City & The City started on Friday, although, typically, I’ve not got around to watching it yet. Need to do so, really, before this Friday. At least I am ahead of the game for something coming up later this year – I read an article on Facebook the other day which said that the BBC have adapted The War of the Worlds, and it will be on telly in the autumn! Not like me to be ahead of things, lol, but for once I will be as I read the H. G. Wells novel earlier this year!

I think that’s about it for now, though, I’m pretty sure I’ve told you all the news there is to know, lol, so until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes
  • The Complete Robot – Isaac Asimov
  • The Giant Book of Science Fiction Stories – Various (Edited by Isaac Asimov)
  • The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick
  • The City & The City – China Miéville
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Handbag Books, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Science Fiction, Television, Travel

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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Filed under Books, Childrens' Books, Computer Corner, Cross-Stitch, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Food & Drink, Football, Goodreads, Junior Bookworms, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Science Fiction, Television

E-Readers, Dutch Books, and Eye Tests

Man in the Middle ebook finished March 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Last week of March coming up, and I got another book finished off on Friday night, my first e-book finish of the year. I had originally meant The Man In the Middle, by Howard Webb, to be my match day ebook for journeys home from Old Trafford, but I got so into it that I decided I couldn’t wait between home games and just got on with it! Does mean I’ll have to choose a new ebook for the home game against Swansea City on Easter Saturday, lol, but it’s another book on my Goodreads Challenge list – I am now up to 14/30 and if I can get another book finished off before March ends, I will be halfway to my target after just three months of this year! It would also maintain my consistent rate of 5 books a month so far in 2018.

I hadn’t read the book on the way home from the FA Cup 6th round victory over Brighton and Hove Albion because I was too bloody freezing after that game! It wasn’t just that it was snowing big time, but also that it was unbearably, bitterly cold, and the football was shite (a technical term that I need far too often under Mourinho, unfortunately!) so I was so cold and pissed off by half-time that I spent the second half in the concourse watching on the TV screen. We won 2-0 but, really, it was one of those games that we really should have won by a bigger scoreline, and would have done so under a more positive and attack-minded manager – someone who would do things the United way, as opposed to that boring, bus-parking pillock!

I really do hope he gets sacked as soon as possible, so that we don’t lose too many players – he’s pissing everyone off! Even players that he actually bought! Bad enough that he forced out the likes of Wayne Rooney and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who came to OT under other managers (Fergie and LvG respectively), but he’s even falling out with players that he actually signed, and he needs to go ASAP so that our remaining players might be persuaded to stay! I do NOT want a mass exodus of players! The style of play is awful, we’re far too many points behind 1st place and he doesn’t seem to care, and he’s driving players away. He has to go!

So, after the Brighton game, I just needed to thaw out, lol! Coffee was the order of the day when we got back in the car after that match! Hot coffee and plenty of it! Also, it didn’t take us too long to get home, which was another reason why I didn’t get my ebook read on the way home from that game. So I read it the next day instead, at home, and thought “why just reserve ebooks for when I’m coming home from a match?!”

Ebook devices March 2018

So, I now need a new choice of ebook, and I also need some more non-fiction for my Ongoing Concerns. Talking of ebooks, I found my old Sony Reader device the other day, and have managed to get it recharged and working again! I am not even sure when I got that, or even when I put those books on it! It doesn’t have WiFi, unlike my Kindle, so I can’t download onto that one – I think I had to put them on via USB from my computer. I apologise for the poor picture quality, but I took that photo during Earth Hour yesterday evening and it’s a tad blurred, especially on my Kindle.

What gets me is the variety of books that are on it – and for some strange reason, there’s a couple of books on my Sony Reader which are in Dutch! How on earth did that happen?! I can’t even remember uploading some of those books, let alone the foreign ones, and my foreign languages I can read in (well, read at least a little bit in) are French, German and Spanish! Those are the ones I’ve studied to some level or another, as opposed to picking up little bits and bobs of a language for holidays! I studied French to A Level, and German and Spanish to GCSE, so as long as I have a dictionary handy, I can read a bit in those languages and understand the main gist of it. So I still don’t get why I have two books in Dutch on there! I can work out some Dutch words if they look like German words I know, but even so, I’ve not done a GCSE in the language (I’m not even sure if the language is offered at GCSE level at any high schools), and much as I’ve loved a fair few Dutch footballers who’ve played for United over the years, it still doesn’t explain why there are a couple of Dutch books on my Sony Reader! Even accounting for the fact that, at the time I acquired that particular device, United still had the legendary Edwin van der Sar in goal, it still doesn’t explain the Dutch books!

I got my Kindle in 2011, I won it, and those of you who’ve followed my blog for quite some time might recall the ongoing saga of my Kindle from the summer to about November when I actually received the device! If not, feel free to read the archived blogs from 2011. About August 2011 onwards, I think. Possibly as far back as the July of that year, but certainly August 2011, just before I went on my jollies to Turkey that year. Sometimes I think the battery goes down quite quickly, even though my Kindle is off, and when it is on I usually have it in aeroplane mode unless I am downloading a book and put WiFi on temporarily. Perhaps I need a new model of Kindle? I would have to look into the prices and the specifications of current models of Kindle, though. Transferring the books shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but it would be which device to get.

Looking at the photo from Earth Hour, The War of the Worlds is on both devices, lol! Mind you I read that in paperback earlier this year! Venus In Furs, by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, is on my Sony Reader. I actually read that some time ago, on that device! I mentioned that book on my blog donkey’s years ago, too! Been doing this blog since August 2010, so it was probably around that time. I think I was sticking it to the book snobs at the time, in one of my blogs, and saying that the advantage of an e-reading device if you’re out and about and reading on it, for instance on public transport, is that it is much harder for nosy and judgemental arseholes to know what you’re reading, thus it reduces the risk of snide comments and dirty looks! Essentially, if you want to read erotica on the bus, get an e-reader! Also, if you want to read YA but you don’t want sniffy tossers giving you weird looks for reading “kids’ books”, electronic reading devices are ideal!

Not that it’s anyone else’s concern, of course, but I think there are too many rude and nosy people in the world these days, and they really need to learn to mind their own business! Impertinent bastards! OK, that person on the bus might be reading The Fault in Our Stars when they don’t exactly look like a “young” adult, or they could be reading Fifty Shades of Grey, or The Da Vinci Code. So what?! We all have different tastes in books, we have our different reading abilities, and our favourite genres… No excuse for being a book snob in my mind! I think snobbishness is one of the main reasons which scares some people off reading, which is why I am so against it! I want everyone reading! I want everyone finding at least some books they can read and enjoy reading, so I don’t want snotty bastards getting all judgemental about other people’s choices of reading matter! I couldn’t give a flying shit if a grown adult is reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar on a bus or tram! It’s a damn good book anyway, so I can’t blame them!

I especially don’t blame them as I have got until 11th April to make any semblance of progress with North and South, but I’m not feeling it. There are just other things I’d rather read than classic literature! Even though I have read one or two classics when I’ve not had to, I guess it still does remind me of when I have had to read such stuff. Just because I have a degree, half of which was in literature, does not mean that I find “classics” any easier than other bookworms who didn’t take their education to that level! They can still be dry, dull and hard to get into, even for graduates!

Even when I was at school and studying Pride and Prejudice, it took me a while to warm to it! Things which were a big deal in Jane Austen‘s day just seemed like a big fuss over nothing important to me! I was reading this book in around 1987-88, thus around 30 years ago now, when I was 14 going on 15, and the idea that you should have to get married in age order just sounded totally pointless and unnecessary to me! As far as I was concerned, you don’t even have to get married at all if you don’t want to, and who bloody cares if your younger sisters tie the knot before you do even if you do get married?! 30 years on, I still feel that way. And as we’re now in 2018, a woman could just as easily fall in love with and marry another woman. I would not see that as a big deal, either. People can’t help who they fall in love with.

So, maybe my reluctance to go back to classics is partly because I really can’t be arsed with some of the backward and pointless ideas of those times!

Back to these times, then, and before we look at the Ongoing Concerns, such as they are, lol, I will now move on to the eye test I had on Thursday afternoon at work. As I have mentioned recently, I am coming up to my 45th birthday, so it shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise that it probably won’t be long before I will either need varifocals or two pairs of specs, one for distance and the other for reading. I have actually had a few chats with other friends who wear specs, and it might be better to have the two pairs, especially as the reading ones will be particularly strong, and it’s not just books I’m reading… I read books, I read stuff on computer screens both at home and at work, and I also read music, particularly when I’m at band on a Saturday morning, so as a musical bookworm and a computer-user, reading glasses might be the way to go when the time comes that I can’t get away with single prescription any more!

So, Ongoing Concerns, and the only one which is ongoing right now is The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin, of which I have now read 41%. I think I am going to have to put The Chrysalids on hold, and North and South has been relegated from the OC list anyway, as I am not even up to 10% read and my disinclination to read it puts in doubt the likelihood that I’ll ever get up to that much of it read. I am therefore going to focus on the Le Guin novella, and get that finished before this month is out, and maybe find some other short books! Perhaps make a bit more progress on Hawksmoor, seeing as my book club book isn’t grabbing me. I’m not abandoning The Chrysalids, and might still retain it as a Handbag Book, but I don’t yet feel ready to resume it after the occasion where Joseph Strorm fuelled such an angry feeling in me! I might just put it to one side and try and resume it some time in the future. Not like I’ve not got other science fiction on the go, anyway, is it?

So, I’ve got science fiction, and historical fiction (I would class Hawksmoor as historical fiction as it jumps between 1711 and 1985, both of which are some time ago now, even the 1980s, lol!) but I need some non-fiction and another ebook for reading in the car after football matches when we’re stuck in the Old Trafford car park or in a post-match traffic jam in Trafford Park! I will try to sort something out by the next time I blog, which will probably be the monthly review next week, but until then, I think that’s about it for now, so take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Man In the Middle – Howard Webb
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • Venus In Furs – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
  • The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
  • Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L. James
  • The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd

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Slaps, Shovels and a Slice of Pi…

book-selfie-march-2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Back again, and talking of back, mine is starting to recover from Sunday’s exertions! The Great Book Sort-Out left me with some discomfort in my lower back. Ended up getting heat patches from Boots on Monday, and also going to the gym with my mum after work so I could have a soak in the jacuzzi! I don’t normally miss having a bathtub – when we had our bathroom done a few years ago now, we did away with an actual bathtub and just had a shower cubicle, but I felt I could have done with a good soak in a bath on Sunday night!

Well, anyway, I did promise a blog about the Slap List and the Shovel List, so I think it’s time we got around to doing it! I have had a Literary Slap List for some years now – Characters from novels are put on this list if they are irritating or mildly annoying and I feel they would benefit from a good slap! However, some characters are just downright bloody awful! Characters who disgust me. Nasty pieces of work. Characters with serious attitude problems, characters who discriminate against other characters… For these, a slap is nowhere near enough, as I realised when I was reading The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, one lunchtime at work, and I was finding myself absolutely appalled by Joseph Strorm’s attitude. He made me seriously angry and it dawned on me that a mere slap just wouldn’t suffice! Some characters need a heftier punishment! Like being whacked over the head with a particularly large and heavy shovel, for instance!

So, we now have the Slap List and the Shovel List, but which characters are on which list? Let’s go with a few novels I can think of and some of the characters who have made either of my rolls of shame, lol! WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD!

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Ooh, there’s a few from Pride and Prejudice who annoyed me! I had to study this novel at high school for GCSE English Literature, as I have mentioned in previous blogs over the years, and there are several characters who annoyed me! Funnily enough, though, NOT Mr Darcy! Weirdly, he has never gone on my lists. I see him as quite a misunderstood character anyway, but let’s move on to the irritating people, which has to include three members of the Bennet family! For those who need a reminder, Mr & Mrs Bennet have 5 daughters, all old enough to marry, and Mrs B is fixated with trying to get them fixed up with blokes, married off, and out of the house as soon as she can.

Kitty and Lydia, the two youngest daughters, are two of the slappable characters here. Both of them are what we, in this day and age, would probably call airhead bimbos! All they ever do is ogle over soldiers from the local regiment! They are just vacuous airheads who are after getting off with fit squaddies, basically! If they weren’t slappable enough, their damn mother actually encourages this ogling! Therefore Mrs Bennet joins her two youngest girls on the slap list for being an overgrown bimbo!

Mr Collins, the vicar, or parson, or whatever – member of the clergy, anyroad, is the other one on the slap list. Can we say obsequious little toad? Ah yes, thought we could! He basically just sucks up to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and is such an arse-licker that he definitely has to go on the Slap List! One of my fave bits when I was studying this novel at school was when Mr Bennet wittily says to Elizabeth;

“From now on, Elizabeth, you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never speak to you again if you do not marry Mr Collins, and I will never speak to you again if you do!”

I did mention Lady Catherine de Bourgh before, when I was saying how much Mr Collins licked her arse, and she used to be on the Slap List, but that’s because I didn’t previously have a Shovel List! However, I think she needs to change list and needs the Shovel as she is just a disagreeable old bag if ever there was one, and she has such double standards! She expects all other young ladies to have a list of accomplishments as long as their arms, but she makes excuse after excuse for her own offspring, claiming she’s too weak to do any of these activities. She’s not, she just simply lacks the talent at some of them, or hasn’t had the chance to try! So, it’s a whack on the head with the shovel for Lady C, and 4 characters getting a good slapping!

The Catcher In the Rye – J. D. Salinger

Yep, our old mate, Holden Caulfield! The archetypal teenage lad who really can’t be arsed with school, fails most of his subjects, having been turfed out of several other schools previously, and bunks off to New York to try to get served in a bar, although he’s clearly under-age… Holden remains on the Slap List. He reminds me of a lot of teenage lads when I was a teenage girl! All the stupid ones who arsed around and didn’t impress me at all! However, a shovel would be too harsh, so a slap it is!

The Chrysalids – John Wyndham

OK, so I am actually only around a quarter of the way through this one, but this is the reason I needed to invent the Shovel List… Joseph Strorm. Narrow-minded bigot, and clearly a hot-headed one who flew off the handle at his own son just because the lad expressed a thought that many of us have thought from time to time… if only we had an extra pair of hands! And then this arsehole flies into another rage at his lad simply because he has befriended a girl who has six toes!

As I have already said many times, I cannot stand people like Strorm. They just disgust me immensely, so Joseph Strorm is most definitely on the receiving end of a damn good whack on the head with The Shovel!

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

Basically, there are a whole host of characters whose mistreatment of Jude is deserving of a damn good walloping with the Shovel! Not sure re JB – he certainly deserves a slap, but perhaps he should get the shovel – after all, he mocked Jude, who was supposedly a friend, taking the piss out of his limping, and this essentially split the friends up quite badly – only Malcolm remains friends with JB after that incident. Jude won’t forgive JB, and nor will Willem. But if JB deserves the shovel, then there’s a whole host of other characters who need to be flattened into the ground with repeated blows from the shovel!

Jude’s own so-called parents, for starters. I mean, we don’t even know who they are! We discover that Jude was discovered by a monk. I got the impression that Jude was abandoned either as a baby or a very young child, and a monk found him and took him back to the monastery, which is where he was raised. However, Brother Luke, and several other monks, abused him, physically and sexually, so they deserve the shovel, too.

Then, when he is rescued by the cops, he is abused again while in state care, so yet more characters in need of the shovel, and then there’s Caleb. He meets Jude at a dinner party, but basically abuses Jude for being disabled (which has come as a result of all the previous abuse he’s been subjected to, poor bloke) so there’s a whole host of total arseholes who have treated Jude like shite throughout his life, and every single damn one of them needs a shovel to be brought down on their heads with great force!

So, those are a few recipients of either slaps or shovels from a selection of novels. More will be added if I can remember any, and if you have any suggestions for characters from books who need a good slap, or a whack over the head with a shovel, please feel free to let me know! Now we should move on, I think…

pi background

Happy Pi Day! OK, it’s not the way round we do the date here in the UK, as we do it dd/mm/yyyy, but in the US, they do it mm/dd so today is 3/14 to them, and 3.14 is the start of Pi, that never-ending number! The only book I can think of which mentions Pi in the title is the obvious one – Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, so, for a bit of fun, we shall look at books with PIE in the title! This may make you hungry, so perhaps you might want to eat a pie, lol!

I might be a bit biased here, as a northerner and a big fan of Stuart Maconie and his writing, but this pie-themed part of our blog does give me a chance to mention TWO of his books – Pies and Prejudice, and The Pie at Night, the latter of which I was probably finishing off this time last year! I’d started reading it on the coach when I went down to Wembley in late February for the EFL Cup Final against Southampton, so I must have finished it off in early or mid March, I reckon. It’s what I’m reading in the photo at the top, and I got my copy signed by Stuart last year when he came to Waterstone’s.

Another book I read and enjoyed, although this one is historical fiction, is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This is set in Guernsey during World War II, the Channel Islands being the only part of the British Isles which were actually occupied by the Germans. It was first published in 2008, and I read it for our book club some time ago now, so possibly around 2009 or 2010. It has been made into a film now. Mary Ann Shaffer died in early 2008, and when her health was deteriorating she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, to finish the rewriting and editing, hence both ladies are credited as authors.

pies

There’s also Gordon Ramsay‘s autobiography, Humble Pie, which I mean to get around to sometime soon, and a couple more with pie in the title which I have yet to read, those being Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, a YA novel by Jordan Sonnenblick, and The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley, a mystery novel.

Also, not quite pie-titled, but Jay Rayner was on Masterchef the other day when I was catching up with episodes of the latest culinary contest, and he’d set a brief for the contestants to make him a pie! Sweet or savoury, he didn’t mind! I read his book, The Ten (Food) Commandments towards the end of 2016 when I could only read non-fiction books for the rest of that year because I had an epic Book Hangover on the fiction front after finishing A Little Life!

So, now we’ve had a few Pie Titles for Pi Day, a mention of pies on Masterchef, and I shall also get in the fact that I had a pie for lunch, lol, I think it’s time we had a brief progress report on the Ongoing Concerns, and then I shall bring this to a close for now. Two books have made progress, my ebook The Man in the Middle, by Howard Webb, which is now up to 26% having read it on the way home from the match last night and continued reading it once I got home – needed cheering up after that shite performance, and Webb’s book is VERY funny! He’s actually only a couple of years older than me, so 46 or 47 now – I’m heading rapidly towards 45, lol! The speed in RPM of a 7 inch single, as those of us who remember records and record players will know! Actually, they’re coming back now, and my mum bought a turntable not long ago, so I could dig out my record collection, lol!

Anyway, The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin reached the 25% mark earlier this evening, so that’s another one reaching the first quarter!

I have taken North and South off the list for now. I have attempted to start it, as I said in a recent blog, but it’s not doing anything for me. Maybe I am totally out of the habit of reading classics, but I’m sure others have grabbed me more in the past. Maybe, though, a lot of those were the ones I read years ago at school or uni, the ones where I had a teacher or lecturer who was able to point out relevant bits to our class? I think that does help when it comes to the classic novels. Mind you, I read Great Expectations as an adult, long after my formal education ended, and enjoyed that without needing an educational professional to give me a hand! So it could just be that North and South is a bit slow-going for me? I shall give it more of a try, but if I find myself thinking I’m just plodding through this, I may have to give up on it and admit that at book club. If I find myself thinking “I’d rather be reading something else” when I’m reading it, it’s time to call it a day and put it to one side.

It’s also time I called it a day with this blog entry! Wow! Look how long it is! I’d better finish things off and blow the final whistle on it as it seems like it’s gone into extra time and a penalty shoot-out, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  • Pies and Prejudice – Stuart Maconie
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • Humble Pie – Gordon Ramsay
  • Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie – Jordan Sonnenblick
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley
  • The Ten (Food) Commandments – Jay Rayner
  • The Man in the Middle – Howard Webb
  • The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Books About Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Food & Drink, Football, Half-Finished Books, Literary Shovel List, Literary Slap List, Ongoing Concerns, Rants, Science Fiction

Fave Female Authors, Shovel List and More…

An Abby Wright illustration of a women reading a book outside in the snow

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

Good evening to all of you! Happy International Women’s Day to all my fellow female bookworms! I have said on here, many a time, that it does not bother me who the author is, I just read whatever takes my fancy, and always have done, but I shall have a look at some of my favourite books by female authors. I will also be introducing you to a new concept which cropped up the other day when a character in The Chrysalids pissed me off big-time, plus I will be doing the usual updates on the Ongoing Concerns and waffling on about a few non-book matters as well, no doubt, so here goes…

If I am going to focus on books by my fellow females, I shall start with a few series I have enjoyed, and then go on to some stand-alone books. I’ve not really read that many series, but one I did read in my teens was the Kevin and Sadie series by Joan Lingard, a series of five books set in Northern Ireland and England during “The Troubles” in the 70s and which I read when I was around 15 or 16. The Twelfth Day of July starts the series, and it is followed by Across the Barricades, Into Exile, A Proper Place, and Hostages To Fortune. You can still find them in the YA section at Waterstone’s, actually, should you wish to read them. Possibly a bit dated in 2018, and might even constitute historical fiction by now as they were set in the 1970s!

Rather obviously, J. K. Rowling has to be on this list as author of the Harry Potter series, which I started reading when I was a civil servant at Albert Bridge House in town – a colleague recommended the books to me! I’m not naming all 7 books, I’ve listed them already on the Joanne’s Bookshelf list for 2018 on List Challenges, and it’s well-known enough without going through them individually. The series, of course, also gives us Ravenclaw, the house for those of wit and learning, the Hogwarts library, and a female book nerd heroine in Hermione Granger! Oh, and Flourish and Blott’s bookshop on Diagon Alley, of course!

The late great Sue Townsend is on the roll of honour for giving us Adrian Mole and his diaries! I think I have read most, if not all, the Mole books, but the first two are still my huge favourites, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole. My copies of those books have had to be sellotaped back together countless times!

Now onto female authors of whose works I have read two or three and really enjoyed them, so we have to honour Hannah Kent and thank her for both Burial Rites and The Good People, both awesome books which I would totally recommend! Still on historical fiction, I have now read and loved two books by Tracy Chevalier, both Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Lady and the Unicorn, so she joins the roll of honour and I still have a few more of her books which I have yet to read.  Helen Fielding gave us the brilliant and funny Bridget Jones’ Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. There is another one too, but I’ve not got round to that as yet.

To bring this bit to a close before moving on with the blog, a few books which I have loved, and these are stand alone books. Last month, I read and loved Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple, was also a book club book, albeit a few years ago now, and I loved it. Again, very funny! To complete a trio of hilarious reads by females, I recommend Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate, by Susan Calman. I saw this in Waterstone’s in the Arndale Centre a few years ago, started reading it and had to buy it as it was too funny not to purchase it! I also recommend it if people want books about mental health.

Right, so… onto other matters and this concept came into my head the other day, at lunchtime, when I was having my lunch and reading The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, and one character, the father, Joseph Strorm, had me absolutely fuming! As you know by now, I HATE bigotry and narrow-mindedness, so this guy being a total nutjob, utterly disgusted me. His attitude towards the so-called “mutants” is appalling, his attitude towards his own son, how he flew off the handle at David just because the lad made a very normal conditional statement that I think every human has made at times – wishing they had another pair of hands! And to strike him for simply being friends with a girl with 6 toes… I was absolutely bloody LIVID reading this! I can’t remember the last time I hated a fictional character so much – hell, not even Dolores bloody Umbridge in the Harry Potter books had me fuming this much!

I think it’s because I see the so-called “mutants” as equivalent to people with disabilities. I myself have a gland which has never worked, so I was totally incensed at Joseph Strorm’s attitude! If they’ve got 6 toes, or 4 hands, or whatever, so what?! I think, deep down, Strorm is just jealous! Who wouldn’t like another pair of hands? It would, quite literally, come in handy! I know what it’s like to have a body which doesn’t quite behave normally, due to my lazy-arsed non-working thyroid gland, so I am on their side!

Thus, I was so angry at this nutjob character, that I wanted to do something very unpleasant to the bigoted bastard! That’s when I became inspired to come up with the Shovel List. I already have the Literary Slap List, of course, for characters who are merely annoying – characters who could do with a good slap because they’re irritating or stupid, but a slap would not suffice in this instance. Needs something a bit more harsh, like being whacked on the head with a large, heavy shovel, for instance! Thus I have created the Literary Shovel List for the worst offenders in literature. Characters who get you so wound up that you would dearly love to knock seven shades of shit out of them…

In a coming blog, I will expand more upon this theme and list some characters on the Slap List, and some who thoroughly deserve to go on the Shovel List. These lists are my book-related equivalent of yellow and red cards in football… the Slap List is for characters who need a warning that their conduct or attitude is irritating or annoying me, the Shovel List is for those whose conduct or attitude disgusts me, thus they need the literary equivalent of the grand order of the early bath!

As we have been mentioning The Chrysalids, it’s time we got to the Ongoing Concerns and some recent reads. I am now on for 13/30 on my Goodreads Challenge for 2018, and have read 3 books so far in March. After finishing The Lady and the Unicorn, I have wolfed down a couple of children’s books, both of which were brilliant, fun, quick reads. Fantastic Mr Fox, by Roald Dahl, was followed by The Slimy Stuarts, from the Horrible Histories series, by Terry Deary. Those two have been Handbag books as they were slim enough to carry home that way after I bought them, but they were so quick that they never went onto the Ongoing Concerns list!

I bought a book the other day, although not a children’s book, which I feel is borderline as to whether it goes on the OCs or not. It is 128 pages long so it just about might go on the list. The book is The Word for World is Forest, by the late Ursula K. Le Guin. I have got another couple of her books in, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, but this one is pretty slim, about the same length as The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells. That did go on the OC List at the time, so this one might, but it depends how quickly I read it!

Hawksmoor remains at 49%, currently topping the OC List despite the fact that I only made it to 49% and didn’t get it beyond halfway. The Chrysalids is currently at 27% despite my wish to wallop Joseph Strorm over the head with a shovel, as documented previously in this blog, lol! The Word for World is Forest HAS gone on the list at 12% thus far, and that officially ends the OC List for now as my match day e-book is only at 3% read and my new book club book has not been started yet. I only really put books on when they reach 10%

There were three of us at book club last night, myself, Stephanie, and Alison, who is one of my council colleagues. We all loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and, after a good chat, we set the date of the next meeting for 11th April, and went off to find a suitable book. We figured out that we hadn’t read a classic for quite some time, so we decided it was overdue and settled on North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell. Nick and Diane, if they can make it, will be very happy as they love Gaskell’s writing and volunteer at the Gaskell Society!

As you may have noted, all the books on the OC List, and book due to go on if I get to at least 10%, are works of fiction, meaning I am still short of a non-fiction book for the list. Does mean I could probably have a hardback and read that at home as my other Ongoing Concerns are all paperbacks at present.

The Winter Paralympics start tomorrow, with coverage in the UK courtesy of Channel 4, so if I am distracted from reading, you will know it’s probably winter sports action on the telly getting my attention again! Saturday, I will be at Old Trafford as United take on Liverpool in a lunchtime kickoff – I hate those! 12:30 is no time to start a footy match. Saturday afternoon at 3pm is the PROPER time for football. End of! Anyway, I hope to get my ebook read on the way home and make more progress with The Man in the Middle by Howard Webb.

Sunday is Mother’s Day here in the UK, so the likelihood is that I will be out and about with my mum at various stages of the day! Eating out, that sort of thing. I might possibly blog again before Sunday, but in case I don’t, I hope all my followers here in the UK who are mums have a very happy Mother’s Day and that they receive some good books, or at least gift cards for book stores, from their offspring! Until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • The Twelfth Day of July – Joan Lingard
  • Across the Barricades – Joan Lingard
  • Into Exile – Joan Lingard
  • A Proper Place – Joan Lingard
  • Hostages To Fortune – Joan Lingard
  • The Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling
  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend
  • The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
  • Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple
  • Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression With the Crab of Hate – Susan Calman
  • Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl
  • The Slimy Stuarts (Horrible Histories) – Terry Deary
  • The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell

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