Category Archives: Food & Drink

April Review – Birthday and other news

Birthday photo 23 04 2018

Me on my birthday at Patisserie Valerie in town

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

6 Little Miracles finished

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birthday pressies from work 2018

Birthday pressies from my colleagues! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

Vile Victorians finished April 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

April is here, 3 weeks to go until Chief Bookworm reaches the grand old age of 45, lol, and we already have a book finished this month, as I decided to plump for another book in the brilliant Horrible Histories series! Bit of a jump in time from The Slimy Stuarts, which I read last month, but I thought we’d get April under way with The Vile Victorians! So that is my 16th finish of the year, with more books to come. The Horrible Histories series is written by Terry Deary, by the way. I actually went to a Horrible Histories event some time ago now, at the Imperial War Museum North on Salford Quays – as I recall, it was the Frightful First World War event. Possibly around 10 years ago in 2008 to mark 90 years since the end of World War I, but don’t quote me on that. I do know there’s a photo album of mine on Facebook from that event, and I have a tin hat on in one of the photos!

Right then, enough about the Horrible Histories for now, although I’m pretty sure there’ll be more about that series in future blogs! Saturday saw me at Old Trafford for United v Swansea in the Premier League, which we won 2-0 thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, and as I had finished my previous match day ebook, The Man in the Middle, by Howard Webb, I needed to find something else suitable on my Kindle for the journey home, and I found it in Twisting My Melon, the autobiography of Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays fame! He’s from round this way, he’s a fellow Red, and I had already started this book a while ago, so I decided I would resume matters and this is now my main ebook, particularly for home matches, although I might read it even when I’m not off to watch the lads.

Weirdly enough, I was in town last week, having gone to get my bus and tram pass sorted, and having done that, and done a bit of retail therapy, I was eating at Wagamama and they played “Step On” by the Happy Mondays, which includes that bit “You talk so hip, man, you’re twistin’ my melon, man!” and was in the charts back in the summer of 1990 when I was 17 and at Eccles College, halfway through my two year A Level courses! Took me right back to all that Madchester rave on stuff in my late teens! Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, James, Inspiral Carpets… all that malarkey… and, of course, New Order teaming up with the England squad for “World In Motion”, one of that year’s number ones and one of the best footy records ever!

Actually, when England came 4th at that summer’s World Cup in Italy, that was the best they’ve ever done in my lifetime! It’s still the best they’ve ever done in my lifetime, and I can’t really expect them to do ‘owt  in this year’s World Cup because they’re a bit too shite these days (shite being a technical term, of course) and I suspect they’ll be home before the postcards, as the saying goes!

Bookmarks 2018 so far

Right at the end of last month, although I hadn’t quite managed it in time for that final blog in March, I finished the red bookmark in the middle of the above photo. I then got the Space Invaders one stitched before we were into April. I just decided to look up patterns for space invaders on Pinterest, and then used my iPad to refer to the charts as I stitched a few and ended up making it look like a little game in progress! I stitched my initials and the year to look like a high score. My geek is showing, yes I know! Then again, I have read a few science fiction books already this year and plan to read a few more. I might even resume Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which is here by Computer Corner. I think it’s actually a film now – most books get made into films these days. I’ve not been to the cinema for donkey’s years, though! I can’t even remember which was the last film I went to the flicks to see!

It’s not that I don’t like films. I do, and sometimes I see a trailer on telly or Facebook for a film, and think “That sounds really good”, but then I never get around to going to see it! Even with TV dramatisations, it’s the same – I recorded The Miniaturist on my Sky+ box at Christmas and it’s still there, not yet watched! That’s the Jessie Burton novel, in case you were wondering. As I mentioned in the last blog, The City & The City, by China Miéville, is being broadcast as a TV series starting this coming week, I think, so I might record that. Whether I will get around to watching it is another matter, though, lol! About the only thing I’ve been watching lately is Masterchef!

That must have been going donkey’s years by now! Originally, it used to be presented by Lloyd Grossman, who had a seriously annoying voice! A good one for ripping the piss out of in comedy sketches, though! He also used to present Through The Keyhole. Not sure how long Masterchef has been going in its current format and with current presenters but a good few years now, I reckon, as I’ve been watching it now for around 4 years or so, I think. I like Greg Wallace and John Torode, the current presenters. You know you’ve been watching it a few years when you remember previous winners and finalists when they come back in for the current contestants to cook for!

Enough about cookery shows, or I’ll just make myself hungry!

 

Junior Bookworm then and now

You won’t be terribly surprised to learn that I bought my niece and nephew a couple of books each for Easter. They both love books, and Charlotte has been known to read to Reuben. She loves books so much she can barely wait until she gets out of the bookshop to start reading her latest purchases! Definitely taking after her auntie!

Charlotte outside Waterstone's March 2018

Charlotte just outside her natural habitat… This was a few days ago. Good Friday, I think. Charlotte needed an eye test, so Ellie took her and Reuben off to the Trafford Centre, and as well as the optician’s, there was a visit to Waterstone’s, and Charlotte was so keen to get started on her latest purchases that she sat down and started reading as soon as she’d got out of the shop!

Anyway, just over a week to go to book club, but as you already know, North and South has been put on hold. I may resume it some time in the future. On the other hand, I might not. We can, however, safely say that it is nowhere near finished, barely started in fact, and thus I’m just going to have to admit it’s not my thing come next Wednesday, and hope that our next choice of book is more appealing.

At least I DID make some progress with Hawksmoor! The Peter Ackroyd novel is now 58% read, so we are over halfway with that now. I might as well make some more progress with that before book club, as well as continuing Six Little Miracles, about the Walton Sextuplets. My sister has asked to borrow that one once I’ve read it. That one’s at 22% and Twisting My Melon is currently at 25% – not done too badly over Easter with the books and bookmarks! Been quite a productive long weekend!

That’s about it for now, then. I think we’ve had all the news on the book front. So, I shall now get this finished off and published, and you can have a good read of where I’ve got up to over Easter when I’ve not been scoffing chocolate or hot cross buns, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Slimy Stuarts – Terry Deary
  • The Vile Victorians – Terry Deary
  • The Frightful First World War – Terry Deary
  • The Man In the Middle – Howard Webb
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • The City & The City – China Miéville
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton

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March Review and Childhood Cookbooks

Word for World is Forest finished March 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Another month, another 5 books finished! I can’t guarantee I will be this consistent all year, but so far in 2018 I have finished 5 books and published 6 blogs each month! This means I am now on at 15/30 on my Goodreads Challenge – half way to my target and we’ve only had three months so far. Also, a third of the way to matching the total of 45 books which I managed to finish off in 2017!

There’s another bookmark on the way. Might just about get it finished before the month is over, but not in time for this blog. It is nearly done though. Only needs the back-stitching finishing and a tassel of some sort adding.

So, anyway, we’re at the end of March 2018, I have 77 followers now, so thanks to all of you for putting up with my random waffle, and welcome to some of the new followers who have discovered this blog of late. These blogs go right back to August 2010, so feel free to mosey around in the archives. I have published over 200 book blogs, and have been pretty prolific in the last year or so. Before that, it was rather inconsistent.

Time to move on to the actual books now, lol, and let’s look at what I’ve finished off in March. My first finish for the month, and it seems like ages ago now, was The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier, which was a brilliant read. A couple of quick-to-finish children’s books came next, Fantastic Mr Fox, by Roald Dahl, and The Slimy Stuarts, by Terry Deary, the latter being a book from the Horrible Histories series. I had picked up a few Horrible Histories books at a charity shop in Swinton after work one night!

Towards the end of this month, in the past week or so, two more books have taken my monthly total up to five. First up was my ebook, The Man In the Middle, by Howard Webb, which had started off as my match day book as I had been reading it to pass the time in the car while stuck in the car park at Old Trafford, or in Trafford Park, on the way home from one of our home games, but I ended up reading it on days when I wasn’t heading to the Hallowed Ground, and finished it off at home one night last week!

Finished books 29 March 2018

Bringing my monthly total to a consistent five, I finished off The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin, last night, thus adding another science-fiction book to my read list, and Don Davidson to my Literary Shovel List! Whilst I didn’t find him quite as anger-inducing as the bigoted nutjob Joseph Strorm, Davidson certainly needs a good thwack on the head with The Shovel, and he has to be added to Humans In Science Fiction Novels Who Are An Embarrassment To The Species! As with my feelings of sympathy towards the mutants in The Chrysalids, I quickly took the side of the “Creechies” in Le Guin’s novella. I think, once I’d have given Davidson the Shovel treatment, I would then grab him warmly by the throat and yell “Stop showing us all up, you arrogant knobhead!”

At least, for now, the interplanetary embarrassment is only in works of fiction. Bad enough that, in real life, there are too many dicks here on Earth who embarrass the species as a whole, and their part of the planet in particular, without going to new planets and behaving in that manner! The novella was written in the late 60s and early 70s, being first published in 1972, the year before I came into this world. It’s easy to see it as a damning criticism of some of the worst atrocities committed during the war in Vietnam, but it’s still pretty relevant now, especially with the concept of male privilege – you could see some of the “yumans” in the plot, Davidson in particular, exhibiting what might be called Earthling Privilege, lording it over the poor Creechies whose planet they’d invaded and buggered up ecologically! Having screwed their own planet up in the first place, they’ve buggered off to mess some other planet up as well and piss off the inhabitants.

Don Davidson definitely joins the Shovel List. By contrast, I liked Raj Lyubov, who was one of the few who made an effort to treat the Creechies with respect and learn about their way of life.

Will I continue with The Chrysalids? Maybe, but it is on hold for now. I might even make some attempt at North and South, a final go to see if it does grab me, but if it doesn’t, no point plodding on with it. I will just have to accept it is one of those which hasn’t fizzed on me. Won’t be the first, and I doubt very much it will be the last. I do not persist with books I’m not enjoying. As you already know, I don’t agree with all that bullshit about not giving up. Sometimes, giving up is the wisest thing you can do. If you’re making no progress at something, and not enjoying it, time to pack it in! You might have to try a bit harder if you need to read a book for the purposes of your academic or professional attainment, but if you don’t have to read it for education or employment, and you’re not enjoying it, time to put it down and find a different book!

Hawksmoor‘s still hanging around, and I plan to get some of that read this weekend, another chapter at least, get it past the halfway stage. It’s been on 49% for a while, so time we took it beyond 50, especially if I just accept that North and South isn’t doing it for me. The other book whose title you can see on the wipeboard on the top photo of this blog is Six Little Miracles, by Janet Walton. I found it at a charity shop in Swinton the other day. For those of us who were around in the UK in the 1980s, you may recall the birth of the Walton Sextuplets, the six girls born in 1983 – well, this is their mum’s autobiography, the memoir of growing up, meeting her husband, and trying for a baby – then ending up with half a dozen of them at once!

Childhood cookbooks

My first recipe books!

Talking of growing up, Veronica Henry, author of The Beach Hut and How To Find Love In a Book Shop, amongst other novels, posted a photo on Instagram the other day which had me going back to my childhood, as it featured a book I’d received when I was a kid, either a birthday or Christmas present – a recipe book called My Learn To Cook Book – funnily enough, I still have it, alongside The Mr Men Cookbook! Both of those have some damn good recipes in them! The former is by Ursula Sedgwick, and the latter by Roger Hargreaves. Mr Topsy-Turvy’s Upside Down Pudding is particularly good!

SF purchases March 2018

Onto recent purchases now, and then we can think about What To Read Next, that great bookworm dilemma, lol! I was in town yesterday, essentially to get my bus and tram pass sorted for another month, but any old excuse to do a spot of retail therapy while there, eh?! The books you see in that photo are Ammonite, by Nicola Griffith, Neuromancer, by William Gibson, and the one at the top of the pile there, Resistance is Futile, by Jenny T. Colgan. That comment by Matt Haig on the cover amused me enormously! “A riotous cocktail of geeks” – there’s a recommendation if ever there was one!

I’ve read a couple of his books, actually, both very different, but both great – The Radleys, and Reasons To Stay Alive. The former is fiction, and very funny, and the latter is autobiographical and a good read, especially if you’re looking for books relating to mental health issues. Also, I have How To Stop Time, and The Humans, right here by Computer Corner, on my science fiction row between the robot bookends!

I could always read one of the new purchases. After all, I’ve finished the Le Guin, so there’s room for some more science fiction on the OC List. Non-fiction is accounted for, of course, with the Walton sextuplets book I mentioned earlier. I will also need a new choice of book on one of my e-readers for match day, so I will have to have a shufty on my Kindle and my Sony Reader to see if there’s anything I really fancy reading or resuming!

I could read The City and The City, by China Miéville, which is about to be dramatised in a 6 part series on the BBC starting just after Easter. That’s a paperback, though, not on my e-readers. I also had my eye on The Cellist of Sarajevo earlier today. I’d previously had two copies, it was one of my notorious Duplicate Books, lol, so I took one in to work with some other books, so that my colleagues can borrow and swap them, but I was giving some thought to reading my remaining copy of the Steven Galloway novel.

Well, I think that’s about it for now. Easter Long Weekend starts here! I will be back again with another blog before too long, lol, but until next time, have a lovely Easter, hope you get plenty of eggs and maybe some books, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl
  • The Slimy Stuarts (Horrible Histories) – Terry Deary
  • The Man In the Middle – Howard Webb
  • The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
  • The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry
  • How To Find Love In a Book Shop – Veronica Henry
  • My Learn To Cook Book – Ursula Sedgwick
  • The Mr Men Cookbook – Roger Hargreaves
  • Ammonite – Nicola Griffith
  • Neuromancer – William Gibson
  • Resistance is Futile – Jenny T. Colgan
  • The Radleys – Matt Haig
  • Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig
  • How To Stop Time – Matt Haig
  • The Humans – Matt Haig
  • The City and The City – China Miéville
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway

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Slaps, Shovels and a Slice of Pi…

book-selfie-march-2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

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

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

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

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

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

The Catcher In the Rye – J. D. Salinger

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

The Chrysalids – John Wyndham

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

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

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

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

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

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

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

pi background

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

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

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

pies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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

Fave Female Authors, Shovel List and More…

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

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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Filed under Authors, Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Food & Drink, Football, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Literary Shovel List, Literary Slap List, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Rants, Science Fiction, Sports, YA Books

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

Books, Timbits and the Winter Olympics

War of the Worlds finished Feb 2018

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

The Martians were finished off in the early hours, lol! The War of the Worlds became my 6th finished book so far this year, my second by H. G. Wells, and my second work of science fiction this year. Therefore, so far, I have finished 1 general fiction novel, 1 autobiography, two science fiction novels, a children’s book and a crime novel. Not bad considering we’re only in early February!

I think it makes for timely reading, and perhaps more should read it. There is a lesson in how the Martians were killed off. These creatures, on their own planet, had eradicated all disease, but that became their downfall when they came to Earth. They couldn’t resist our germs, our bacteria saw them off! They had come to Earth, thinking they were great, zapping everything to bits with their Heat Ray, killing the humans and then consuming their blood… but maybe some of those humans had the lurgy, like the bugs which have been going around here of late, so no wonder the Martians died!

It all made me think of the time when I was a kid, back in the 70s and 80s. The days before everything was over-sterilised and people got their knickers in a knot about kids putting soil-covered fingers in their mouths, rushing over with wipes… Back in the day, our parents warned us about the plant life we shouldn’t eat, the stuff which WOULD make us very sick, or even kill us, if we did put that in our mouths, but they didn’t bother about the harmless stuff, even if it didn’t taste all that great… They knew we would perhaps try it once or twice, then realise for ourselves that it wasn’t worth bothering with in terms of flavour! However, it WAS worth doing, as it turned out, as I hardly know anyone of my age or older who has a food intolerance! I know all of three people! One who’s allergic to fish, one pork, and the other allergic to onions, but that’s it. Three people. Nowadays, there seems to be a huge issue with allergies, be it nuts, dairy, or whatever! I think part of this is because people fuss too much about kids eating a tidgy bit of soil or mud!

STOP FUSSING! LET THEM EAT SOIL!

Seriously, if it means they can eat a huge variety of food without being ill, and you can go out for meals without having to badger the restaurant manager for ingredients lists, let your kids stick their fingers in the soil and try it! They’ll probably only do it the once, anyway, find that it doesn’t taste particularly good, and not bother again, but that one taste might just help their body cope that bit better and not reject certain foods! Just a bit of advice from a 70s baby!

Right, anyway, moving on from Martians being killed off by bacteria, I need another Handbag Book! I’m having one of those “What the hell should I read next?” moments! It won’t be a hardback, that’s for certain, I’ve got two of those on the go as it is, as I am still reading Russian Winters, by Andrei Kanchelskis, and have now made a start on our latest book club book, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. I do have Hawksmoor, which I tend to read in chunks, a chapter at a time, lol, so I need something that might prove a quicker read, particularly bearing in mind that I like to have a bit of a read at work when I’m on my lunch. Followers of mine on Instagram will know that I often sit in our deli at work, having something to eat and having a good read! There are quite a few Bookstagram posts from my lunchtime reading sessions!

Rainbow Book Tower Feb 2018

I could, of course, start on my Rainbow Tower of Books! This photo shows the current state of the tower, from the pink-spined (indeed pink-covered) Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, at the top, to the “pot of gold” at the bottom, the gold spine belonging to The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt. That one would actually be resuming a book I’d made a start on a few years ago, but I was in the middle of a book slump at the time and even though I liked it, it wasn’t enough to override my reading malaise. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be enough now, though. If I hadn’t thought I would ever finish it, I’d have given it away to a charity shop some time ago. It has a great cover, too! Really clever design! I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but let’s face it, some covers are just bloody brilliant, aren’t they?! One of the other brilliant covers in recent years is that of Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes, which I read and loved a couple of years ago!

By the way, this is my 201st book blog! After I published that last one about Andrei and the Martians, Word Press sent me a notification to tell me it was my 200th book blog! Many thanks to all of you who follow and read my blogs!

Some of those books on the tower are a little chunky, but I don’t think any are particularly excessive size-wise! No major chunky monkeys, anyway. Nothing along the lines of A Little Life, let alone War and Peace, so there should be room in my handbag if I do decide to read my way through the rainbow tower of books, or maybe one or two of them could just stay at home if they were on the chunky side. Seems a decent variety on that tower, too. Got a couple of biographies, some general fiction, some young adult fiction and some science fiction or fantasy on there.

Perhaps I should read a book about books? For instance, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald, or How To Find Love In a Book Shop, by Veronica Henry. Or I could read some more non-fiction, and choose Republic or Death! Travels In Search of National Anthems, by Alex Marshall. Or one of two books I can see close by with doughnuts on the covers! One of them is called Doughnut, and is by Tom Holt, the other is This Book Will Save Your Life, by A. M. Homes. Mention of doughnuts is making me think of Timmie’s! Mmmm…. So glad we’ve got Tim Horton’s over here now! I discovered the joy of Timmie’s when I was in Canada in 2009, and wanted them over here ever since – branches opened around here towards the end of 2017, the one in Salford, on Bury New Road, opening a week before Christmas. Mmmm…. Timbits! 🙂

Well, I shall have a think and get back to you all with my decision. Only kidding! I really need a mug of hot Vimto and to settle down for some late night viewing – live coverage from PyeongChang of people doing mad stuff on snow and ice, otherwise known as the Winter Olympics, lol! I would just fall on my arse! I’ve never had the greatest of balance in the bloody first place, so slippy surfaces are not really my cup of tea, but I admire those who can do tricky stuff on them! Mind you, even some of them end up going arse over tit in a spectacular manner – this is what happens when it all goes Pete Tong in winter sports! Some of the falls in the men’s slopestyle snowboarding last night, for instance…

Until the next time, take care and Happy Reading! I might have chosen another Handbag Book by then!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in tonight’s blog entry…

  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
  • Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  • The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald
  • How To Find Love In a Book Shop – Veronica Henry
  • Republic or Death! Travels In Search of National Anthems – Alex Marshall
  • Doughnut – Tom Holt
  • This Book Will Save Your Life – A. M. Homes

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