Category Archives: Fantasy Fiction

Greetings from the Costa del Salford!

Costa del Salford 23rd July 2019

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

It’s a hot one alright! That was earlier on when I was on Swinton Precinct having an iced coffee in Costa after work. Hence Costa del Salford is a particularly apt pun! I need to try to catch up on stuff I’ve not blogged about yet, and I last blogged at the end of May, before I did one to Mauritius on my jollies! I will probably have to work things in over a number of blogs, but we might as well start now. I will still get book-related stuff mentioned, and I did get some reading done while I was on my hols, so we can start on that.

I finished Ole, by Ian MacLeay, while I was in Mauritius, and passed it over to Mum to read, so she’s on that one. I also started on Luggage, from the Object Lessons series, by Susan Harlan, while I was on holiday, as it seemed apt to read about luggage on one’s jollies! You will be hearing so much about these books, as I absolutely love them! There may be one or two which wouldn’t really be relevant to me, but a lot of them are of interest. I have found a large selection of them in the Popular Science section of the Deansgate branch of Waterstone’s, but there are so many of them, and I have also bought some online as they interested me but the Deansgate store didn’t have those particular books.

Since coming home from my jollies, I’ve polished off two more Object Lessons books, those being Personal Stereo, by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, and Bookshelf, by Lydia Pyne. I have now decided upon Sock, by Kim Adrian as my fifth OL book. Yeah, here we are in a heatwave, and I’m reading about socks, lol!

Holiday was absolutely awesome, although it did have its dodgy moments. Tip to any readers of this blog if you’re ever at the Shandrani Beachcomber Resort and Spa in Mauritius… If you have a ground floor room, and you’re near the beach, make sure you turn the light off for outside your room at night! You might find that, when you’ve come back from your evening meal, the staff who have come to turn down your bed covers may have turned the patio light on… Turn it OFF! You do NOT want uninvited knobheads, who may well have been beach sellers, having a party outside your room at stupid o’clock in the morning! We were woken up by these idiots at around 2:30am on the first Friday we were there, a few days into our jollies. Even though the windows were shut, the music was loud, and one of them was smoking and the smell did waft into the room, and I ABSOLUTELY HATE THAT SMELL!!! I’ve hated it pretty much all my life, can’t stand it, it makes me feel sick! I have actually been known to throw up because of people smoking near me, so I find it really revolting.

We had to call security twice before, eventually, someone came to tell them a complaint had been made. Even then, they hung around for another ten minutes before they buggered off. Just glad we didn’t have any excursions booked that day, as our sleep had been interrupted. We felt the hotel really could and should have done more to make up for this experience. Also, they need to up their game on the dining front. To be a truly top hotel, nothing should be too much for them to do, no customer request should be too difficult, especially something like making us a dessert from a different menu… We had an experience that would not have been out of place as a Monty Python sketch! I might actually save that for another blog, though. Let’s just say it was a bit of a farce!

They did have a bookshelf so people could borrow or swap books, but the thing was that there weren’t that many in English while I was there. I did consider a couple of books, but when I looked them up, both of them were about the third book in a particular series! If they’d been the first book in the series, I would definitely have considered them, but it’s a bit silly when it’s not. I really could have done with either a stand alone book, or the start of a series. The first of these third books, if you get my drift, was The Lords of the North, by Bernard Cornwell, and the other was Fire and Sword, by Simon Scarrow. Both would have been historical fiction, which I am partial to when I’m in the mood for fiction, although I’m more into factual stuff at the moment.

When we came home, we had Mum’s 70th birthday that weekend, and the following weekend we were on a stall at St Thomas’ church fair, and then I had my trip to Geordieland with Salford Steel as we went to the Steel Band Festival in North Shields, so it’s been all go really! Just had my niece’s birthday, too! Junior Bookworm is now 9 years old! Thus it’s all been a bit mad and I’ve been thinking “should I blog?” and then deciding against it, but I really do need to get some stuff typed up and photos put on from various events. Might get some time for that this weekend.

So, I’ve got Mauritius, I’ve got London and I’ve got North Shields to waffle on about and also mention some books, lol! Well, I’ve bought books, anyway, and I have read a few of them. If they’re non-fiction, that is. Non-fiction gets me out of slumps, and I’d been in one of those between November and April, as I’d mentioned in previous blogs. Well, it started as a book slump, but obviously then turned into bereavement after Dad died in January, so books were a bit of an afterthought for a while and I only started bothering again just before my birthday.

Ooh. A numpty! Sorry, just had notification from Farcebook that someone wants to join the United group of which I am one of the admins, and the daft nelly hasn’t answered the damn joining questions! Ever since FB started letting admins ask questions to potential members, the other admins agreed to my idea that we should have a mini quiz to see if they know their history of the club. It has been a really good way of filtering out unsuitable people! So many of them can’t even be arsed answering the questions, so we give them an hour or so, and then we block them from being able to try again. If they do answer the questions, most of them get them wrong, so, again, bye bye! I think, in the time since we’ve started asking questions, we’ve actually had to vet all of two profiles for member suitability! And one of those turned out to like other clubs in their likes, including some of our rivals, so that was him blocked as well! We have let in one new member since we started asking questions! Got the questions right, and their profile showed they were a proper Red with no other reasons not to admit.

We used to get lots of people asking sometimes, especially just before a really big match, right bunch of bandwagon-jumpers, and as we would go through their profiles quite thoroughly to see if they were a proper supporter or not, and if there were any other reasons why they might not be a good member (any discriminatory attitudes towards certain people – racism, sexism, homophobia, that sort of stuff…), so as you can imagine, it used to take us Admins quite a while if we had a lot of people to vet, and it was a bit of a chore. When the questions became possible, it made things much quicker. If you don’t do as we ask, that’s it! You’re not coming in! Do one!

We will post stuff, and so will others, when there’s relevant factual stuff to post… starting line-ups on match days, goals, half-time and full-time scores, transfer news during the windows, if there’s any official news of signings (we don’t do rumours or gossip), and mentions of famous results on this day in history or birthdays of former or current players or managers…. you get the idea. Occasionally, we have to show a yellow card to a spammer, sometimes a red one if they’re a repeat offender or they break a more serious rule, but most of the time it’s pretty calm, unlike a few years ago when all hell used to break loose far too often! Certain trouble causers were removed around 6 years ago now, and things have been much more on an even keel since then, thankfully!

buying books and reading them

Starting to feel that way myself! I also feel that my To Be Read list (TBR) can no longer be described as a list or a pile. It would be far more accurate to describe it as a TBR Library! I am cultivating a TBR Library, fellow Bookworms! Well, OK, I’ve not really got enough bookshelves, so you’ll have to imagine it as a library setting, but I’ve certainly got the books for it to be classed as a library!

I am also pondering which book I should consider for my first fiction book in ages. So far this year, I have read non-fiction and a bit of poetry, a couple of anthologies. Not actually read anything that resembles a story, though, so far in 2019. Daisy Jones & the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid appeals to me. Looking at some more of my recent fiction purchases, we have The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch, and Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor. I think both of those are young adult fantasy novels.

I could read Half a World Away, by Mike Gayle. You may recall that I read and loved The Man I Think I Know last year after it was featured on the Zoe Ball Book Club on ITV. When I bought the new Mike Gayle novel, I also bought the new book by Brian Bilston, Diary of a Somebody. You will recall that I’ve already read You Took the Last Bus Home a few months ago, and that I’ve been enjoying his poetry on Facebook and Instagram for quite a while, but this book is kinda combination between novel and poetry. It’s written in the style of a diary with poems in it. There’s also On the Bright Side, by Hendrik Groen, the diary-writing Dutch pensioner whose debut diary I enjoyed a couple of years ago.

I do also have the entire set of the Malory Towers series! Box set of them. Got it from the book club at work a while back and it’s been sitting in a locker at work for a while, but I needed to clear out that spare locker recently, so I brought the books home. I did read some of them donkey’s years ago, when I was a kid and I was at a sports centre for one of my sister’s trampoline competitions, but it’s been a long time since then, and I only read the first few. There’s actually 12 in the series! I don’t have any qualms about reading children’s books, happy to go back and read some Enid Blyton! I’ve read a bit more Roald Dahl in recent years, too! Esio Trot, and Fantastic Mr Fox came as recommendations from my niece!

Well, time has ticked on a bit since I started this blog. Just gone 11pm here. Still bloody hot here, though! Got a fan on just outside my room, first time since last summer’s heatwave. I have plenty more material for more blogs, obviously, with things I got up to on holiday, plus the trip to London for my mum’s birthday, and the other mad stuff that has kept me busy since June! I need to tell you about the floating island farce sometime soon, lol!

Until that time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Ole – Ian MacLeay
  • Luggage – Susan Harlan
  • Personal Stereo – Rebecca Tuhus Dubrow
  • Bookshelf – Lydia Pyne
  • Sock – Kim Adrian
  • The Lords of the North – Bernard Cornwell
  • Fire and Sword – Simon Scarrow
  • Daisy Jones & the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
  • Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor
  • Half a World Away – Mike Gayle
  • The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • Diary of a Somebody – Brian Bilston
  • You Took the Last Bus Home – Brian Bilston
  • On the Bright Side – Hendrik Groen
  • Malory Towers series – Enid Blyton
  • Esio Trot – Roald Dahl
  • Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl

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Filed under Books, British Weather, Facebook & Other Social Media, Fantasy Fiction, Football, Historical Fiction, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Non-Fiction, Object Lessons, Poetry, The TBR Pile, Travel, Weather, YA Books, Zoe Ball Book Club on ITV

Science Fiction and Cheeky Nando’s

Tallest structures in the world 2019

Hello again, fellow Bookworms,

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

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

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

patronus is a bookworm

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

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

Decisions, decisions! Fiction or non-fiction?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s see which books are lurking around here…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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

O.U. Pretty Things!

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

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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

Everything Must Change!

Book Sort March 2018 h

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Not quite a spring clean, but certainly a spring sort out! For the first time in ages, the weather has been decent enough on a weekend day to enable me to venture into the garage and look at the Book Chest! I’ve done more than look at it, or in it, though – I have been having an epic rearrangement! Books have been cleared out of the chest, and also out of my room – they’re going to be given out – to work, to charity shops, might even sell some of them off. I looked at whether I’d re-read them if I’d already read them, or whether I’d read them or finish them off if I had half-read them or not read them, and thus decided plenty of them have to go.

It was getting out of hand, even for Chief Bookworm! Hence the title Everything Must Change, which is also a Paul Young song from back in the 80s when I was a kid, which ties in with going to see him last month in Preston!

The sorting isn’t finished yet, there’s still loads more books to sort and other nonsense to clear out, but it is considerably better than things have been. One of the reasons this has come about was because I recently bought a pair of wooden bookends from a charity shop in Swinton – these bookends have robots on them, so I thought I would get all my science fiction books together and put them between these bookends, and that is essentially what has happened now as part of the sort-out! Yes, they’re all lined up here near Computer Corner, lol!

Book Sort March 2018 f

OK, you can’t see either of the robots, I’ll have to get another photo to show you one of those, but that’s my row of science fiction brought together, other than the two which are currently in my handbag, The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, and The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin, and possibly the odd stray SF novel elsewhere, but I think I’ve got the vast majority of that genre together. I am wondering about a few other books in my collection though, and whether they are classed as science fiction. In particular, I’m wondering about 11.22.63, by Stephen King, as a guy travels back in time to just before JFK is shot. Time travel is surely a science fiction thing? Also, I was wondering about my China Miéville novels – I have The City and the City, and Un Lun Dun, and was wondering if those were science fiction too?

I found Remarkable Creatures when I was looking in the Book Chest, so that has come in to join my other Tracy Chevalier novels! My Philip K. Dick books are all together, too – I found Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – It was near here, not far from the computer! The Man in the High Castle was in the Book Chest, but that and “Androids” have joined Ubik and are now lined up on the science fiction row between the Robot Bookends!

My Bill Bryson books are together, well most of them are, and if I can find where I put the classic Notes From a Small Island, that will join them! My two Hannah Kent novels are together, my Paulo Coelhos, and there’s a few other authors whose works are together. Need to gather my Stuart Maconie books together, too. I bought one the other day at Waterstone’s, actually – Cider With Roadies. Been meaning to get that one for some time! Bryson and Maconie are two of my favourite non-fiction writers, actually, and I met Stuart Maconie last year when he came to Waterstone’s on Deansgate to promote his most recent book, Long Road from Jarrow.

Me with Stuart Maconie July 2017

Me meeting Stuart Maconie last summer at Waterstone’s Deansgate.

A bit of an update from yesterday, although there’s not been that much reading done. I have made some attempt at starting North and South. I say attempt, as it seems a bit slow-going. Not feeling it yet. Got until 11th April to try to read as much of it as I can for my book club, and I don’t really want to disappoint Nick and Diane, if they can make it, as they are big Elizabeth Gaskell fans, but I’ve got it in paperback, and I even downloaded it for my Kindle as there was an edition for 49p, lol (you can get some cheap, and some free, classics as ebooks) – but it’s not exciting me.

busby book march 2018

On the other hand, I am now up to 10% of The Man in the Middle, by Howard Webb, which is my match day ebook, and I was reading it while stuck in the Old Trafford car park, and then Trafford Park, on the way home after our 2-1 victory over Liverpool yesterday! Always good to beat the Scousers, and it was also satisfying to get a decent amount of my ebook read on the way home! While we’re on the subject of football, I can now mention Patrick Barclay‘s biography of Sir Matt Busby, which was one of the pressies I bought my mum for Mother’s Day. Obviously, I couldn’t tell you beforehand, but she has opened her pressies, so I can tell you now! Ellie bought her Thinking Out Loud, by Rio Ferdinand, so she’s received two United-related books today!

Book Sort March 2018 g

As you can see above, one of the other things I have done as part of my book sorting session is to get a load of short books together. These are books which have 200 pages or fewer. There might be the odd one or two with just over 200 pages, but most of these have considerably fewer, and so I am putting them in one handy pile so that if I need something short, which I hope will be a quick read, I can reach for one of these and give it a ago! I also have a few other Horrible Histories books lurking around, along with The Slimy Stuarts, which I read the other day. The one on the bottom isn’t a short book, lol, but I needed a sturdy base, so The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones, by Rich Cohen, provides me with a solid foundation for my Short Books Tower!

Email from Book Riot – Choose some TV shows and we’ll give you a book to read. In other words we’ll find you books according to your viewing habits. Trouble is, I doubt they’d suggest anything I’d want to watch! I only really watch sports events or music videos. About the only “popular” show I would bother to watch would be Masterchef, lol! Anyway, I tend to be able to find books about sports, music and food without anyone else’s assistance! I’ve read plenty of great books about sports and music, and I have also read some bloody good books about food, especially Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain! I can definitely recommend that one!

Well, I think that’s about it for now, so I will be back again soon enough. I still intend to do a blog on the Slap List and the Shovel List, so I haven’t forgotten about that theme! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • 11.22.63 – Stephen King
  • The City & the City – China Miéville
  • Un Lun Dun – China Miéville
  • Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
  • The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick
  • Ubik – Philip K. Dick
  • Notes From a Small Island – Bill Bryson
  • Cider With Roadies – Stuart Maconie
  • Long Road from Jarrow – Stuart Maconie
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • The Man in the Middle – Howard Webb
  • Sir Matt Busby: The Definitive Biography – Patrick Barclay
  • Thinking Out Loud – Rio Ferdinand
  • The Slimy Stuarts (Horrible Histories) – Terry Deary
  • The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones – Rich Cohen
  • Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain

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Filed under Authors, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Computer Corner, Fantasy Fiction, Football, Half-Finished Books, Historical Fiction, Literary Issues, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Science Fiction, The TBR Pile, Weather

Russians, Wizards and Unicorns…

Finished books 21 Feb 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

First up, thank you SO much! The Dog Blog for Chinese New Year has had 13 likes! I am glad so many of you enjoyed it! In total I have had over 500 likes for my blogs, some entries more than others, but that last one seemed to go down very well! Not a themed one this time, just a general book blog and an update on the Ongoing Concerns, two of which were finished off in the previous 24 hours, leading me to start a new book earlier today!

Within a matter of hours from late on 20th February and in the early hours of the 21st, I finished Mort, by Sir Terry Pratchett, and then Russian Winters, by Andrei Kanchelskis, both of which I enjoyed enormously! Two completely different books, one a work of fantasy humour, and the other an autobiography, but both brilliant in their own ways. I’d previously read Andrei’s original autobiography, as mentioned in earlier blogs, which was published when he was still a Manchester United player, which shows how long ago THAT was! He left us for Everton in 1995, so 23 years ago now! Russian Winters is brilliant for a catch-up, to find out what happened after he left Old Trafford. Obviously, he was at Goodison Park for a bit, but after that, I had kinda lost track, so it was very interesting to read about his various clubs as both a player and then later a manager. He was one of my favourite players when he was at United, my 2nd fave after King Eric.

I definitely need to read more Discworld and not leave it so long in between visits! I absolutely loved Mort and it was a great book to have as a Handbag Book, and to read on my lunch at work. Who’d have thought the Grim Reaper would enjoy a curry, lol! It does pose the question now, though, of whether I continue to read them in order, in which case, the next Discworld book would be Sourcery, or whether I look for other books where Death and possibly also Mort make a reappearance. The thing about Discworld is that the books don’t really follow on. There’s not a sequence. It’s not like, say, Harry Potter, where there is a defined order of the books if you want things to make chronological sense.

So, with two books read, including one of my Handbag Books, it means that I need to add new books to the Ongoing Concerns, because otherwise, there’d only be two of those, and I’m halfway through Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which I need to get on with for my book club. As I said previously, if I get that one read before 7th March, I’ll get a bit more of Hawksmoor read while I have the opportunity, but Eleanor Oliphant is a priority.

It does mean that I have now finished 3 books this month, and 8 in total so far this year. The War of the Worlds was my first February finish, but the two I’ve polished off in the last day or so take my month’s total to 3. Not bad for a short month. Hmmm… can I get Eleanor Oliphant finished off before we start March?! As mentioned before, that one is a hardback, so that’s being read here at home, not taken to work with me.

So, with finishing two books off, I need new ones, and at least one of them needs to be a Handbag Book. I have gone with The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier, and I have already read 11% of it. I have already read one of her books, the brilliant Girl With a Pearl Earring, which I read a few years ago now and loved. These are works of historical fiction, but they are not chunky, unlike many other books of this genre, so if you were thinking of reading some historical fiction, but thought the size of many novels a bit off-putting, I’d start with some Tracy Chevalier novels. You could always move on to the chunky monkeys later and read some C. J. Sansom or something like that!

Rainbow Book Tower Feb 2018

I also have another vacancy on the Ongoing Concerns list, but here is where I am finding it hard to decide. Part of me is thinking I should start on the books on the rainbow spines tower, which would mean Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, would be added to my list. However, I have already replaced fiction with fiction – the Tracy Chevalier book, as mentioned above, replacing Mort in my handbag. Thus, as the other book I have just finished was non-fiction, that being Russian Winters, there should be another non-fiction book on the OC list! Do I go with another autobiography, or perhaps a different factual book? Perhaps time to put Neither Here Nor There, by Bill Bryson, back on the list? That is already at 50% from last year, so I could resume that one. It would make sense to resume it and finish it off. Plus, it’s also a paperback, and fairly slim, so it would go in the Handbag!

Yes, I think we’ll go for the Bill Bryson. Get that finished off. Perhaps take Hawksmoor out of the bag for now, put The Lady and the Unicorn and Neither Here Nor There in the handbag and go with those. I may yet start Stargirl soon. We shall see. Can I manage 5 books on the OC list? I had more than that on plenty of occasions last year, but sometimes it just got out of hand and some books just weren’t being read at all. I don’t want that – it defeats the object of the Ongoing Concerns list if some of the books aren’t exactly ongoing!

There needs to be a manageable list, and I think having an OC list of 4 books is very manageable. Let’s see how we get on with the Chevalier and the Bryson. Hopefully, they will be fairly quick reads and I can then get more books on the list! Eleanor Oliphant will probably be replaced with whatever is the next book club book, but I won’t know what that is until 7th March.

Anyway, I know this one is a bit short, but it’s time for me to settle down into my pyjamas and watch a bit of the Winter Olympics until I need to get zeds ready for work in the morning! Our women have reached the semi-finals of the curling. If we can win our semi, we would be guaranteed a medal, silver at worst, and thus Team GB would have a new national record medal tally at the Winter Olympics! The men are in a play-off to try to get into the semi-finals. Come on, guys!

So, I’m off to watch some of the action on snow or ice until I fall asleep, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Mort – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Sourcery – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Bookstagram, Chunky Monkeys, Fantasy Fiction, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, List Challenges, Ongoing Concerns

Outside of a Dog…

Year of the Dog 2018

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

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

K9 from Doctor Who

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dom-parsons-bronze-skeleton 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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

Andrei Kanchelskis vs the Martians…

Me and the Manc Bee - Central Library Feb 2018

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

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

book purchases 7th Feb 2018

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

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

lathe and wood 2016

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

Woodwork and wood-turning 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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