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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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April, blog she will…

 

Birthday photo 23 04 2018

Me last year on my birthday – nearly that time again…

Hello, fellow bookworms!

Long time no blog, I know! Regulars will know this has happened before in the history of my blogs, but I’m here now. I see I have 82 people following this blog now, so thank you very much! Especially given that you’ve had bugger all to read from me since November! Got some catching up to do, fill you in on the missing months. I think you had sussed out, though, towards the end of last year, that the reading had kinda dried up a bit and that I’d gone into a book slump again. You probably won’t be terribly surprised to learn that I didn’t meet my Goodreads Challenge last year. I was two books short, having managed 28 books during the course of 2018, whereas I’d set the target at 30. I have not bothered this year.

The List Challenges lists that I promised have now, finally, been published, so if you want to go through what I read in 2018, or the Handbag Books list, or even the list of books I’ve mentioned on here during the course of last year, you can now do so. Very sorry for the delay.

So, as I said, I’d been having Reader’s Block since the end of last year. I had hoped, as we let in 2019, that my reading mojo would return but, it certainly didn’t do so in time for the new year. In fact, things got worse. When you’re already a bookworm going through a book slump, the last bloody thing you need is bereavement, but that’s what happened. On the evening of Saturday 12th January 2019, my sister came round to inform Mum and I that Dad had died. He was 71, same age as his dad had been when he died, back when I was a teenager. We knew he’d had his health issues, but didn’t think, at the time, that it was something that couldn’t be put right if he got some medical advice.

However, as I’ve probably said before on here about my dad, he was a pretty stubborn bloke, not the sort to take advice from other people, and definitely the sort who, if he did go and see a medical practitioner, would tell them a few tales and would not be honest with them about the fact that he was a couch potato and that he liked a drink or three… His second wife, Gill, had found him dead in their bathroom, she had been away. She had phoned one of Dad’s sisters, and she in turn had phoned Ellie. Then Ellie came round to tell us.

Obviously, one or two people reading this will already know, some who are friends on FB, but for the rest of you, I’m fairly sure it will explain why I’m only just blogging now for the first time in 2019. I’ve not been reading much, if anything, and finally had my first book finish of the year last night! We’re in April, a few days away from my 46th birthday, and I have actually got a finish under my belt for this year at last! Regulars won’t be terribly surprised to learn that it was a non-fiction book which did the trick! Factual stuff gets me out of slumps! I have Mark Manson to thank, as the book was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and I really enjoyed it! You know my opinion of most so-called “self help” books, but occasionally something comes along in that genre which I actually find I can relate to, rather than finding it patronising and ableist like I do with so many others of that ilk!

You may recall that I read a similar book in 2017, that would have been Sarah Knight‘s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, so I would recommend both books to anyone who is not struck on the usual bog-standard self-help books and wants something a bit different, a book that does look at things in a different way to most books of that variety. Back to the Mark Manson book, however, and I certainly found that a lot of stuff was very relatable, particularly dealing with people who were very like that ex-friend of mine – you know the one, initials HLA. Reading Mark’s book made me feel vindicated that I’d kicked that toxic bitch out of my life.

I can’t even recall what was on my Ongoing Concerns back in November. All of that kinda fell by the wayside, and I don’t even know where my magnetic wipe board is at the moment, although probably in the garage. You did know about the loom knitting and Pixelhobby, though, as I’d started those activities before I went into the book slump, and had mentioned them in blogs in the autumn. I will give you a catch-up some time on the Pixelhobby projects. I don’t currently have a project on the go, although I’ve got something in mind. Recently completed a couple of 4 baseplate kits, my largest ones so far, and it would be another of that size that I have in mind and have got some of my pixels put aside so that I know what I’ve already got.

The one thing that has been good, though, came the week before Christmas, when the Bus Parking One was sacked after our 3-1 defeat away to Liverpool. Personally, I think he should have been sacked at the end of last season. I would have preferred it if he hadn’t been appointed in the first place, as I’ve never liked him and I have made that quite clear over the  years, but anyway, United finally had enough of his crap and booted him out on 18th December, replacing him, the following day, with the Treble-winning Legend that is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer! So, Ole’s been at the wheel since just before Christmas, and the immediate response at the time was for the lads to thrash Cardiff 5-1 away! Then, on Boxing Day, we had our first home game with Ole in charge, a 3-1 win against Huddersfield Town, and that was the last time I saw my dad. At least Dad got to see a match under Ole and know that United were playing the proper way again before he died.

Ole was made permanent at the end of last month, so it should be interesting to see who he buys in the summer. He has certainly got the best out of most of the lads he inherited from the Portuguese Pillock, though! That’s what the second half of this season has been about – believing in the current players, encouraging them to attack and score goals, and to be a good man-manager and keep the hairdryer treatment behind closed doors. Ole learned from Sir Alex, though, so this comes as standard. This is why we’re back to the United way. Even when results haven’t gone our way, you still see the effort, which is what you weren’t always seeing in the previous five and a half seasons, especially the two and a half under the Tax-Fiddling One!

It also brings me neatly onto one of my current Ongoing Concerns, which is the biography Ole, by Ian MacLeay, a book which first came out in 2007, apparently, which would have been when he retired as a player, but has now been updated this year to take in his return to United as our manager. While we’re on the subject of football-related books, I got Michael Carrick‘s autobiography, Between the Lines, for Christmas, so I’ve still got that to read yet. It’s Carrick, you know. Hard to believe it’s not Scholes, lol!

Sort of still footy related, although the book isn’t, my next mention is for a book which was mentioned by Juan Mata not long ago. I love reading Juan’s blogs, One Hour Behind, but this was actually an interview with Guillem Balague, and Juan mentioned that he’d been reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. One of the many things I love and admire about Juan is that he’s not just a great player on the pitch, but a really lovely, and very interesting, bloke away from footy! The sort of person I’d love to have a cuppa and a chat with – a natter with Mata! I would definitely love to have a chat with Juan about books!

Sales of Notre Dame de Paris, by Victor Hugo have rocketed following the devastating fire which has destroyed the roof of the famous cathedral earlier this week. I purchased a copy from Waterstone’s at the Trafford Centre on Wednesday night, and it said, in the introduction, that the cathedral had been in disrepair before, particularly after the French Revolution, but that when Hugo’s novel was published, its popularity led to necessary repairs being made back then! Hopefully sales might help once again.

I already had one of Hugo’s works, but that’s Les Misérables, and I’ve not got round to reading that yet! I would probably end up singing songs from the musical if I did, lol!

Victor Hugo always reminds me of when I was at high school, learning French… whatever textbook you use, and we used French For Today at the time, there’s usually a unit about asking for and giving directions, and so there’ll be this map of some made-up French town with various buildings on it so you can practice asking «Pour aller à la bibliothèque, s’il vous plâit?» and other similar questions. You will note that I’ve used the example of asking how to get to the library – have to keep it book-related, lol! Anyway, when you get these pretend French towns and their maps, it doesn’t seem to matter which damn text book it’s in, you can guarantee at least two of the street names! I shit you not! There will always be an Avenue Charles de Gaulle, and there will always be a Rue Victor Hugo! I would be absolutely gobsmacked if there wasn’t!

Recently been in France, actually, as we were in Disneyland Paris at the start of April, but no Rue Victor Hugo there, even though Disney did do a film of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, so Quasimodo did become a Disney character some time ago. Not really a holiday where I could get much, if any, reading done, though. Not that sort of holiday, unlike the one Mum and I are going on in the summer. That will be a more relaxing, chilled-out holiday, and some lengthy flights, so I should get some reading done!

The blog title, by the way, is based on April Come She Will, by Simon and Garfunkel, as I saw Art Garfunkel at the Lowry Theatre last Sunday. Just in case you were wondering. Yes he sang a few of the old ones from when he and Paul Simon were a duo – I pretty much grew up with their music. Mum and Dad had the Bridge Over Troubled Water album, and also I performed a fair few of their songs in the orchestra and choir when I was at high school. He also sung Bright Eyes, which was a solo number 1 for him here in the UK 40 years ago in April 1979 when I was 6! It was used in the film Watership Down at the time, which was about rabbits. As my Dad used to say… You’ve read the book, you’ve seen the film, you’ve heard the song… now eat the pie!

He’s going on the piss with Georgie Best, my dad. That’s how I see it now. As in our terrace version of Spirit In the Sky… “Goin’ on up to the spirit in the sky. That’s where I’m gonna go when I die. When I die an’ they lay me to rest I’m gonna go on the piss with Georgie Best!”

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now. I’m back and I’ve mentioned a few books, so we’re up and running for this year. I’ve started the blog-related list on List Challenges. This is the one where I mention them whether I’ve read them or not, so there should be a decent amount of books there by the end of the year, I hope! Dunno which ones I will actually have read by the end of 2019, but hopefully a few! Trying to decide whether to try a nice big chunky bit of historical fiction, perhaps Paris by Edward Rutherfurd. I have been looking at my copy of The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Yeah, it is over 1000 pages long, but, as I’ve said before, if a book is readable, size shouldn’t be a turn-off! World Without End, which is the sequel, has been moved to a higher position on the Bass Amp Book Tower. Just in case, lol!

Adam Kay book signing

Oh, and before I go, some news re Adam Kay. You may remember the brilliant This is Going to Hurt, which I read in 2017, my favourite book that year, and indeed I met the author that autumn when he came to Waterstone’s on Deansgate (see photo above)… Anyway, he’s just announced that he’s got a new book, also about his time in the medical profession before he became a comedian, and it’s due to be published in October. So I will probably be looking to pre-order Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas.

I think that definitely is all there is for now! That’s all folks, as they used to say at the end of Looney Tunes cartoons! Until the next time I blog, take care, Happy Easter and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • Ole – Ian MacLeay
  • Between the Lines – Michael Carrick
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
  • Notre Dame de Paris – Victor Hugo
  • Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
  • French For Today – P J Downes & E A Griffith
  • Watership Down – Richard Adams
  • Paris – Edward Rutherfurd
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • World Without End – Ken Follett
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas – Adam Kay (due October 2019)

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Mixed Bag on the Book Front

August 2018 finishes part 1

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

As the title suggests, there’s been mixed news on the book front, and in the photo above, you will see two of the four books I have finished so far this month! Yep, August has been good thus far when it comes to finishing books, and I loved both Notes On a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig, and The Man I Think I Know, by Mike Gayle – indeed, I have commented on Instagram to let him know I loved the book and would like a sequel! I have to say that there were times when I thought James DeWitt’s parents needed to go on the Literary Slap List, though! Probably a spoiler alert here, but I was chuffed for James when I got to the bit where he stood up to them and essentially told them to stop patronising him! Would definitely recommend either or both books to anyone!

Yesterday, I got two more polished off, finishing Wigs On the Green, by Nancy Mitford, and then a nice quick, short read, that being The Lady In the Van, by Alan Bennett. Enjoyed both of those as well, although more 3-4 stars rather than the Matt Haig and Mike Gayle books which would get 5 stars each from me.

August 2018 finishes part 2

So, we’re now at 23 out of 30 on the Goodreads Challenge for this year, and hopefully I will be able to make it at least to target. I didn’t want to set a ridiculous amount of books, bearing in mind that I’m working full-time and have to fit reading in at lunchtimes, evenings and weekends, when I’m not doing other stuff, such as getting weighed, going to the gym, or going to matches – although don’t start me on that! Not until the Boring Bus-Parking Pillock gets sacked! Please keep your fingers crossed for me that this happens sooner rather than later, and that we go for a proper manager – you know, one who encourages attack-minded football, promotes more players from the youth team, and who doesn’t criticise players in public! Someone who’s rather more like that nice Scottish bloke we had for 26 and a half years from November 1986 to May 2013 would be good… hint hint!

Returning to Wigs On the Green for a moment, as I need to mention the less than wonderful news on the book front – that there was only me at book club on Wednesday! I didn’t get Stephanie’s message until after the event that she wasn’t going to be able to make it, so I didn’t get to discuss Nancy Mitford with her, unfortunately. I was left feeling very upset and very angry on Wednesday and into Thursday. I have given Waterstone’s Deansgate a piece of my mind via Messenger, but they haven’t got back to me yet. I told them that I felt they’d abandoned us, and that the dwindling numbers of people attending in the last year or so since Emma stepped down and no-one took over from her proved that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way!

You’d think a bookstore would WANT to have a book club and be proud of it, and promote it as a regular event at that branch, wouldn’t you? Indeed, they used to, which makes it all the more baffling that they stopped doing so. Also, what makes it worse, is that it seems to have fallen on me to try to keep things going, and I am obviously crap at persuading people! I’ve emailed, I’ve put it on our social media platform at work to try to drum up interest, and I get one or two hinting that they’re interested, but then they don’t bloody turn up… Beyond pissed-off! This book club needs someone who is GOOD at persuading people, and that person is NOT me! I am good at a lot of things, but that is not one of them! To use a technical term, I am shite at that sort of thing! I need someone else on board to do that! (Firm believer that everyone should play to their strengths, and persuasion is not really one of mine. Persuasion is, however, a novel by Jane Austen, and one which I read some years ago – for book club, ironically enough, lol!)

I don’t even see how it’s such a problem to maintain a book club and provide a member of staff to run it. They were doing it for a good 8 years or so, and it’s not as though it was that frequent a pull on their resources! All they need to do is make ONE member of staff available for ONE hour from 6pm to 7pm for ONE evening roughly every month! Is that really too much of a demand?! Every 4 to 5 weeks, we would need one person to run a book club meeting for one hour! We don’t need the shop shutting to everyone else, we meet up in the coffee shop area, anyone is welcome to join, and we are hardly asking for some all-day event! It takes more members of staff to assist with an author event when someone comes in to read from and sign copies of their book, for crying out loud!

Waterstone’s Deansgate management – you should be ASHAMED of yourselves!

(They still haven’t got back to me yet. Not even with a shitload of flimsy excuses for no longer providing a member of staff to run our book club!)

Anyway, back to more pleasant things on the book front, and you know that I do List Challenges and see how many books on other people’s lists I’ve managed to read, or at least half-read in my uni days, lol, plus I also create lists of my own, such as the one which goes with these blogs and lists all the books I mention on here for a year! I feel a bit “late” for those lists of Books You Should Read Before You Turn 30 or even 40, as I’m 45 now, lol, but I’ve just been through one of Books You Should Read Before You’re 80, and I’d read or at least half-read 67 of them, which isn’t too shabby! It always depends on whether that other person has the same tastes in books, doesn’t it?! It was quite a long list, and did contain quite a few of my favourites, such as The Book Thief, Girl With a Pearl Earring, and The Art of Racing In the Rain, though, so whoever compiled that list has got good taste in books! As for the actual list for this blog, the current one is at 247 books, although there will be more by the time I’m finished with this blog entry, as I will be mentioning a few more books that I’m pretty certain haven’t featured on the 2018 list so far… Anyway, another challenge for you, and I’m posting a blank one for you to fill in, plus my list of answers…

Right, OK… French Revolutions is now 68% read, and Twisting My Melon is on 55% as I recall, but now that the Mike Gayle book has been finished, which I was reading in both paperback and ebook formats, I can return to Shaun Ryder on my way home from matches. Rather tempted to get the Kindle app on my mobile and actually read during matches given the bus-parking we Reds are subjected to under the current manager…

I am going to be focusing more on What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson, especially as there may not be a book club any more and I might as well focus on the one deadline I do have – to get a book read before I give it back to my friend Sarah when she comes in December to see Madness with me at the Manchester Arena! It’s a hardback, so it will be for reading at home, really.

August 2018 purchases part 1

I picked these up on Wednesday, after hanging around for 45 minutes in the coffee shop area hoping I would have a book club meeting… I think The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, is short stories. The Antidote, by Oliver Burkeman, is non-fiction, possibly psychology, and appealed to me due to my oft-stated dislike of many of the self-help books available on the grounds of them being unrealistic. Some peoples’ idea of positive thinking is my idea of delusion and fantasy! If these books were realistic, if they encouraged positive thinking within the constraints of the world we live in, that would be fair enough, but all they do is get people’s hopes up, that something is going to happen which is at best a flying pig situation, and then people just end up disappointed. Personally, I think getting people’s hopes up is a shitty thing to do to people!

They are the book equivalent of sports “journalists” coming out with all that bollocks about Cristiano Ronaldo returning to United, which happened every damn transfer window for years! In other words, just a con to get money out of people and get their hopes up over something which would probably only happen once Hell had frozen over and hosted the Winter Olympics!

Cynicism is your friend! Trust me on this! If you lean towards cynicism, and tend not to believe much of what you hear or read, you are much less likely to be taken for a ride, and thus much less likely to end up feeling disappointed! A good level of education also helps. The more you use your brain, the less likely you are to be conned.

August 2018 purchases part 2

Right, OK, and another batch of books, but be fair – three of them were only £3 each! The bargains were The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown, ostensibly a kid’s book, but you know I do not give an airborne copulation about that, The German Girl, by Armando Lucas Correa, and The Massacre of Mankind, by Stephen Baxter, which is a sequel to The War of The Worlds, by H. G. Wells, which I read earlier this year. The less cheap one is Good As You, by Paul Flynn, which seemed apt with Pride coming up here in Manchester next weekend, and as many of my fave singers are gay, or were in the case of Freddie Mercury and George Michael, I figured there would be a lot of mention of some of my favourite music! It covers the time from 1984, the year of both “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat, up to 2014, and the start of gay weddings here in the UK (although civil partnerships had already got the go ahead some years previously and Sir Elton John was one of the first celebs to have one.) Should be a good read!

Loom knitted hats as of 19th August 2018

These are hats, in case you were wondering! Well, they will be, all being well, when they’re finished! One of my other things besides reading. Chunky wool for both of them, and circular looms. Craft show coming up at Event City, near the Trafford Centre, in September, so I might go to that, even if only to get some advice on casting off. I’m still pretty new to this, and I watch YouTube videos to see how to do stuff, but there are times I think I could do with someone showing me in person. Some things I don’t always “get” without someone there to show me.

Well, I think that’s about it for now, so until the next time I’m back with another 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
  • Persuasion – Jane Austen
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain – Garth Stein
  • French Revolutions – Tim Moore
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
  • The Antidote – Oliver Burkeman
  • The Wild Robot – Peter Brown
  • The German Girl – Armando Lucas Correa
  • The Massacre of Mankind – Stephen Baxter
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • Good As You – Paul Flynn

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July Review – Out of the Slump

Book finished July 2018

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

Last day of July, so it’s review time, and this makes it a 3rd blog for the month! Yay! Plus a book finished and a bookmark made – that being the red woolly one I made on my afro comb, which you saw with my copy of Wigs On the Green, by Nancy Mitford, in my previous blog! That book, as I mentioned recently, is a third of the way through, 34% read, and there are two weeks to go to my book club at Waterstone’s on Deansgate, or there will be tomorrow, anyway! Next aim for that one is to get it to 50% read.

Anyway, I finished Ego Is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday, so for the first time since early May, I’ve had an addition to my Goodreads Challenge list, now at 19/30, and it has been worth doing some Bookstagramming! I have also had to update unpublished lists on List Challenges, besides the one I do for this blog, which you will get to see either at the end of December or the start of 2019! The list is already over 200 books long, 227 as I type this part, but I will be adding to that with this blog, probably.

Yesterday, 30th July, Emily Brontë would have been 200! I studied Wuthering Heights when I was at uni, way back in the early to mid 90s, but have to admit I found it a struggle, and when it comes to works by the Brontë sisters that I have read, I must say I found Jane Eyre, by her sister Charlotte, an easier read. I read that one way back when I was in the 3rd year at high school, what would now be known as Year 9. When it comes to Wuthering Heights, I do like the song by Kate Bush, lol! Kate herself had a special birthday yesterday, too – her Big 60!

Right, anyway, never mind all that, time to get on with the book review for July… I’m thinking of taking Hawksmoor off the OC List or only mentioning it if I make any further progress with it. It’s been stuck at 58% read for ages now, so unless I move it on a bit, is it really worth mentioning? With the new footy season almost upon us, there’s every likelihood that I’ll be returning to Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, which was at 55% after the last time I read some of it, but if we have to wait ages in the car to get out of the Old Trafford car park after a match, then I can see Shaun getting off my OC list by the end of the calendar year, and another ebook being finished. As I mentioned in my previous blog, my season ticket arrived last week – a sure sign that another Premier League campaign is on the horizon!

Talking of United, Shaun Ryder and all things Manc, the bees are in town! I know I have mentioned this earlier this year, but now town is a hive of activity due to Bee In the City! I know we often say that town is “buzzin'” but it really is at the moment, and the giant bees are here until around 23rd September. I shall have to go into town and have a shufty! Perhaps this weekend.

Returning to ebooks for a moment, Fire Woman by Josephine Reynolds is on 25% read, that being the account of Britain’s first female firefighter. The other book that I’ve got ongoing as an ebook is one where I’m doing it part ebook part paperback as I have both formats for this novel – that book being The Man I Think I Know, by Mike Gayle, which I discovered recently thanks to the Zoe Ball Book Club on telly (Sunday mornings on ITV – I record it on Sky+ as I’m usually having a lie-in, lol!). The Mike Gayle novel is at 18% at the mo, although I’m thinking that’s what I’m going to read once I’ve finished this blog! I am giving books a bit of a push… how much of a particular book I can read in half an hour, that sort of thing…

I mentioned Notes on a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig, in my last blog, and I started reading that last night, getting 22% of it read in the wee small hours, and improving slightly on that before starting this blog, by getting it to the 26% mark! Also at 26% is French Revolutions, by Tim Moore. This is the guy whose book, Nul Points, about the acts which failed to register any votes in the Eurovision Song Contest, I read and enjoyed last year, and in this one, which had been knocking around my room for a while, he gets the mad idea to cycle the Tour de France route! As we’ve just had the Tour de France, won by Welshman, Geraint Thomas, I thought it would be an appropriate read.

Woolly stuff 2018

As well as my red bookmark, this is some of my other stuff – ongoing items on my improvised looms. This just gives you an idea of some of the other things I get up to when I’m not reading! One of the other things I’m up to is making some attempt at shifting the pounds, and I had lost two and a half pounds yesterday evening at Slimming World, and need only two more pounds off to have lost my first stone!

Recent purchases 25 July 2018

Some recent purchases there, which I forgot to mention in the previous blog, apart from the Mike Gayle book. As with Gayle‘s novel, Dark Pines, by Will Dean, is also one of the books which has been reviewed on Zoe Ball’s TV programme. That one is in the “Scandi crime” genre, and features a deaf protagonist, which is an unusual angle. Three Things About Elsie is the second novel by Joanna Cannon, who I met a couple of years ago when she was signing copies of her début novel, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep. You might also be familiar with the name of Mohsin Hamid, as he has had a few novels published, most notably, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which I read and enjoyed some years ago now. Exit West piqued my interest because of its plot, in which black doors are rumoured to appear and people who walk through them leave one city and enter a different one! Sounds intriguing!

Books and coffee July 2018

Technically, we’re now on for 1st August, but this is still the July Review, and I still have a few more books to mention before I get this published. I think I may have listed a book called The Note not too long ago, a novel by Zoë Folbigg. Anyway, The Distance, also by the same author, was one of my purchases last week, along with The 1,000 Year Old Boy, by Ross Welford, and The Boy At the Back of the Class, by Onjali Q Rauf. Those two are essentially children’s books, but you probably already figured out how many shits I give about stuff like that! If it sounds like a good read, I’m up for it! The only books which need an age restriction are ones containing adult material – erotic novels, in other words, but unless there’s a lot of sex involved, the beauty of most books is that they’re open to all ages!

That’s about it now for the July Review, I’ve mentioned a lot of books, and given progress updates, so until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading! Oh, and keep cool, as the heatwave’s supposed to be returning!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Wigs On the Green – Nancy Mitford
  • Ego Is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Fire Woman – Josephine Reynolds
  • The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • Notes On a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
  • French Revolutions – Tim Moore
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • Dark Pines – Will Dean
  • Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid
  • Exit West – Mohsin Hamid
  • The Note – Zoë Folbigg
  • The Distance – Zoë Folbigg
  • The 1,000 Year Old Boy – Ross Welford
  • The Boy At the Back of the Class – Onjali Q. Rauf

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Instructions For a Heatwave

Recent purchases July 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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