Category Archives: Historical Fiction

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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E-Readers, Dutch Books, and Eye Tests

Man in the Middle ebook finished March 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

Ebook devices March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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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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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

Bookworm Dilemma Time Again

Lady and Unicorn finished March 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Four days into March, and we have our first finished book of the month, our 11th of the year so far, as I polished off the last chapter or so of The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier, earlier this afternoon, and have now only got Hawksmoor on my OC List! ell, I’ve got my e-book, too, I guess, but I tend to save that for match days. Ebooks are for when I’m coming home from Old Trafford, and we are either stuck in the car park near the stadium for ages, or stuck in post-match traffic in Trafford Park.

I don’t live far away from the ground, only about four miles away, but it feels like miles away at times when it takes ages to get home. Depends who we’ve been playing, of course, and it’s always been a bit bad coming out, but roadworks started last  year which are set to cause disruption up to 2020 as tram tracks are being put down for a new Metrolink route.  The trams will eventually go to the Trafford Centre, but they will stop near Old Trafford and near the Imperial War Museum North on their way to the shopping mall, so the whereabouts of the road cones may alter from 2017 to 2020, but it’s a pain in the arse on match days!

Right, anyway, enough ranting about how long it takes to get home from football matches, and back to books…

I can’t just have ONE book on my Ongoing Concerns list, can I?! I have to have several books on the go because what if I am not in the mood for one of the books? I have to have a few different items of reading matter so that there’s something which grabs me! I know I will have a new book club book as of Wednesday evening, but with that and Hawksmoor, that would still only be two books! I need a couple more, I think. Need about 3 or 4 books on the go. Yeah, I can get on with Hawksmoor, and I will do for the next few days, to get it beyond halfway, but I want, er sorry, NEED, other books in my reading life! Hawksmoor is an enjoyable read, not saying it isn’t, but it is not a “fast book” to read, or at least I don’t think it is. I don’t feel it’s something I can get through on my lunch at work, for instance.

One thing’s for certain, the other book in that photo, on which my finished Tracy Chevalier novel and the Penguin Classics bookmark are resting, will NOT be a Handbag Book! That book is A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth, and to call it a Chunky Monkey would be an understatement! It is MASSIVE! Over 1400 pages! I read An Equal Music, by the same author, last year, but that was nowhere near the length of A Suitable Boy! An Equal Music is only around 400-500 pages. Substantial, but not overly-huge. I could start the book, and it would be a long-term Ongoing Concern, but it would have to be one I read at home. The only other possibility, if it were not too dear, would be to acquire it for my Kindle as well, and thus be able to read it on the go at times, but that would all depend on whether I am enjoying the book if I decide to give it a go.

I do have more Tracy Chevalier novels, unread ones, which I could read. I have Burning Bright, and The Virgin Blue, which could be considered, and either of those would be suitable as a Handbag Book. If anyone ever wants to get into historical fiction, but they’re a bit put-off by the chunkiness of a lot of books of that genre, I would definitely recommend that Tracy Chevalier’s novels would be a good starting point before moving on and overcoming their fear of chunky novels! Just because a book looks over-facing does not mean it’s a difficult read – it might be very readable once you get into it and you find yourself whizzing through it. On the other hand, some slimmer books have turned out not to be the quick reads one might imagine them to be! Size can be deceiving! Never mind not judging a book by its cover, I would say you shouldn’t judge a book by its size!

There’s also one called Remarkable Creatures, if I’m not mistaken, but either I don’t have that, or it’s in my Book Chest, and as the weather has been so awful of late, I have yet to go into the garage this year to see what’s in there! Chief Bookworm is not very fond of the cold weather! Especially not the bitterly cold winds we’ve had of late. If things warm up a bit, I might venture to the Book Chest, might even select a few more to take in to work for my colleagues to borrow and read, but at the moment, buggered if I’m doing that when it’s so freezing cold out there! Sod that for a game of soldiers, as the saying goes! The weather is far too shite, and that’s a technical term, as you no doubt know by now, lol!

I DO want to go into the garage, though. Need to check the Book Chest and what’s in there. Wondering if my copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick is in there, and if I still have my copy of The Man in the High Castle, also by the same author. That one was a book club book a few years ago now. Actually, I didn’t feel as though that one was science fiction – it was more alternative history to my mind.

Not that I am short of potential reading matter on the science fiction front in here, though! There’s plenty of books I can put my hands on right now from that genre, without wrapping up warm and venturing out to our garage, lol! I have got a lot of them from Fopp in town, which is across from the blood donor centre, and has a lot of books on a 2 for £5 offer, including the SF Masterworks range. I picked up Ubik, by Philip K. Dick, and The Food of the Gods, by H. G. Wells from Fopp on Friday evening as I’d been into town to renew my bus and tram pass for another month. I also ventured to Waterstone’s, as you might expect, lol, and acquired To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. That one’s a bit chunkier than the other two, though. Not massively chunky, certainly not compared to Vikram Seth‘s epic novel which I mentioned earlier, lol, but not the slim volume that several of my other SF books are.

I wish I’d remembered that Connie Willis one when I did the “Dog Blog” last month, though! Would have been a good one to mention for my Chinese New Year special!

However, I probably should start using that bookmark I finished off last month, and for that I should choose a Penguin book, lol, preferably one with an orange and white cover, so perhaps I should give The Chrysalids a go? Definitely a Handbag Book, at a mere 200 pages long, so I might as well. I got it a while back, possibly some time last year, from the Mustard Tree shop in Eccles, and it was only 10p! Yeah, let’s add the John Wyndham book to the OC list and see how that goes!

As I said, I will have another book after Wednesday evening, and although we do sometimes read non-fiction, the likelihood is that it will be fiction more often than not, so I am considering adding a non-fiction book to the OC List. I have a few in mind, and as long as I have a couple of Handbag Books, it wouldn’t matter if one of my books was a hardback. I could wait until Wednesday, there is sense in that, but there is also sense in making a start on something while I am still a few days away from Book Club, to give other books a chance to be read before I know what my next book club book will be. Republic or Death! by Alex Marshall does have the added advantage of being a potential Handbag Book – that’s the one about national anthems which I have mentioned in previous blogs, but I still think The 33 might be an option – that’s the one about the rescue of the Chilean Miners in 2010, by Jonathan Franklin.

The other good bet, fiction or non-fiction, is to resume another book which I had already started previously, and get it finished. Some of my books on my Goodreads Challenge, for any given year, are ones I had started some time ago, but I finish them off later and they go on the list for the year in which I finish them. I think I will certainly start The Chrysalids, though, and see how things go with other books. I should make a start, really, so that’s about it for this blog! Until next time, by which time I may have a bigger OC list once again, lol, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • Burning Bright – Tracy Chevalier
  • The Virgin Blue – Tracy Chevalier
  • 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
  • The Food of the Gods – H. G. Wells
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog – Connie Willis
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • Republic or Death! Travels in Search of National Anthems – Alex Marshall
  • The 33 – Jonathan Franklin

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Filed under Authors, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, List Challenges, 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

January Review – A Solid Start

January 2018 summary

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome back to the most random blog on the internet, lol! Alright, there’s one more day of January left after today, but I wouldn’t be getting any more books finished than I already have done this month, plus I’ll probably be keeping an eye on the score as my lads are away to Spurs tomorrow evening and it’s Transfer Deadline Day so I’ll be amused by all the last-minute nonsense from other clubs, relaxing in the knowledge that we have Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal and I don’t expect owt else to happen for us until the summer now. If it does, it’ll be an extra bonus, but I’m not expecting my lads to be busy tomorrow in terms of buying new players – as long as the existing players are busy putting the ball in Tottenham’s net and keeping it out of ours, that will do me nicely!

Anyway, books… The year started with me coming down with more Lurgy having thought I’d got shut of it between Christmas and New Year, but I am now finally over it. I finished Hot Milk, by Deborah Levy, in time for the book club meeting, although there was only myself and Stephanie at Waterstone’s due to the amount of bugs going round!

Thus I got my first book of the year read, but it was about a fortnight before I’d be getting more read. However, they’ve come thick and fast in the past week! It started with finishing off the excellent autobiography, Not Dead Yet, by Phil Collins, who turns 67 today, by the way, so Happy Birthday, Phil! Following swiftly on the heels of the legendary Genesis drummer and frontman, I polished off The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells, less than 48 hours later!

I then had an overnight read, a re-read of a childhood book, when I polished off Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood, by Alf Prøysen, which I found lying around in our living room behind our sofa, with a few other books which were a mix of mine and my mum’s from our younger days! I will now be lending Mrs Pepperpot to my sister in case she wants to read it, and perhaps Charlotte might also fancy reading it!

Then, in the wee small hours, I finished off my current book club book, The Red House Mystery, by A. A. Milne, which I quite enjoyed. I’ve read it with just over a week to spare, so I’m quite chuffed. Plus, that means that I’ve finished off 5 books already in the first month of 2018. We can’t take anything for granted, there can be quiet spells on the reading front sometimes, so I still don’t know how many books I’ll end up on by the end of December, but I can say it’s a pretty solid start. This is my 6th blog of the new year, too, hence I wrote 6 on the wipeboard knowing that I intended to blog and to use that photo for this blog! 5 books finished, 6 blogs published by the time you’re reading this, lol, and 1 player signed for Manchester United in the January transfer window!

Sadly, the Grim Reaper seems a bit too busy again this year, and has already claimed a few notable people this year, including science-fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin, Cranberries lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan at only 46 (hardly much older than me – far too young), former footballer, Cyrille Regis, and the former referee, Paul Alcock, who passed away today at the relatively early age of 64 – probably best known for being pushed over by Paolo Di Canio when he had been sent off for Sheffield Wednesday at home to Arsenal in the 1998-99 season!

Hogwarts House Socks

Accio Socks! I’m a Ravenclaw, in case you were wondering.

The Hogwarts house socks were from my mum! I just thought I’d mention them as they are book-related and I acquired them this month, so it seemed apt to put a photo in the January Review! I’ve had the Harry Potter FunkoPop for a while now, though. I also have a Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – they usually stand in front of my wipeboard.

Well, I originally thought I had two deadlines – my book club deadline, which is 7th February, and I also thought I had 15th February for giving Not Dead Yet back to my friend Sarah. However, as Paul Young’s wife sadly passed away last week, he postponed his February concerts, which will be rescheduled, so I will be hanging on to Phil’s autobiography for a while longer before I hand it back to Sarah. We may arrange to meet up for non-concert reasons, though. There’s always a chance we could meet and go shopping or something, so I will give her the book back at the earliest opportunity. It gives Sarah more chance, if she hasn’t already done so, to read Bruce Dickinson‘s autobiography, What Does This Button Do? She has said she will lend me that one, which I am looking forward to. The Iron Maiden frontman’s book sounds like another fascinating read. He is actually a qualified pilot as well as being a heavy metal legend!

So, 5 books read so far: 1 each for general fiction, autobiography, science-fiction, children’s fiction and crime fiction.

So, now onto the current Ongoing Concerns… All of them are at the early stages of being started, really. None of them near completion, so that’s why I knew I had my January total. Even if I resumed a half-read book and finished that off this year, I didn’t think I had any that were near enough to the end for me to have a quick read and add them to the finished list! I COULD resume Neither Here Nor There, by Bill Bryson, which I was exactly halfway through last year before things all went a bit Pete Tong on the OC front! That would give me a book at 50% to add to Russian Winters, by Andrei Kanchelskis, at 13% and Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd, at 10%. I have made a start on The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells, so that’s 5% read.

I gave some thought to Sirens, by Joseph Knox, which I mentioned in the previous blog entry – a work of crime fiction set in Manchester, which thus piques my interest enough to read a crime novel, which is not my usual genre. However, part of me thinks that I should just stick to Russian Winters, Hawksmoor, and The War of the Worlds and concentrate on those for the next week or so, while I have the chance. On 7th February, I’ll be at Waterstone’s for the next book club meeting, and will end up with a new book and a new target date, lol, so making progress on three existing fronts seems like the best idea no matter how much I might want to add or re-add books! If I can make significant progress with the reading matter from Messrs Kanchelskis, Ackroyd and Wells, at least one of those should be halfway or better by the time I add my next book club book to the mix!

Was considering if I should do some sort of reading challenge, I was looking at a few last night on the internet, but perhaps the best idea would be to work my way through one of my piles of books, for example the rainbow tower of books! That would give me a good 18-20 books, which would be doable, just working them in alongside book club reads and other books I fancy reading! I could also resume the Shardlake series, by C. J. Sansom, which I started last year when I read Dissolution. I am on for Dark Fire, the second book in the series, and there are 4 more after that – Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone, and Lamentation. I may be a very random reader, as you no doubt know by now, but I am quite partial to a bit of historical fiction! I like history anyway – I would do – half of my degree was in history! (The other half was in literature, as you also probably know!)

Mentioning the Shardlake series has taken the Books Mentioned list, on List Challenges, up to 73 now, lol!

The other thing I need to do is to resume my cross stitch – especially as I tend to stitch bookmarks, and there is a partially-stitched one which I started last year and which is meant to go well with a classic orange and white Penguin book!

I think that’s about it for now, and books are not going to read themselves, lol, so I shall get this finished and published, and we shall see what February brings… Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  • Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood – Alf Prøysen
  • The Red House Mystery – A. A. Milne
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • Sirens – Joseph Knox
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom
  • Sovereign – C. J. Sansom
  • Revelation – C. J. Sansom
  • Heartstone – C. J. Sansom
  • Lamentation – C. J. Sansom

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