Category Archives: Historical Fiction

And The Bees Still Buzz!

Bee bookmark finished June 2017

Bookmark finished! Will be using it when I resume this book.

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome once again to the mad world of Joanne’s book blogs, which involve typing long, waffly blog entries which mention books and a whole load of other nonsense as well! Such as cross stitch, which is relevant, really, as I cross stitch a lot of bookmarks for my reading matter, and I finished off the Manchester bees bookmark the other night, as you can see from the photo! I will be using it when I resume Manchester England, by Dave Haslam. Given my current policy on my Ongoing Concerns, though, I need to get two non-fiction books finished off first!

As you might recall, the OC List is down to 9 books at the moment, but this consists of 4 non-fiction books and 5 Young Adult novels. I am trying to get it to 3 general fiction, 3 non-fiction and 3 YA books, so the next non-fiction to be finished would be replaced with a general fiction book, as would the next two young adult books I finish off!

Pet Shop Boys, Literally, still tops the OC List on 62%, but it’s the next two on the list where progress has been made of late. I am halfway through Periodic Tales now, 50% read, so wo-oh, we’re halfway there, as Bon Jovi put it in “Living On A Prayer”! Progress has also been made in recent days with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews, so that looks like the next YA book which will be coming off the list! That will be making way for a general fiction title, as will one more YA book, then I should eventually have 3 of each and a bit of balance as per my plan.

My next book club meeting is this coming Wednesday, so I’ll have to remember to put The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman back in my handbag for that. I’ve already read that one, of course, it was an overnight read so it never went on my Ongoing Concerns list! It was much too short to be an OC! Wonder what our next book will be?!

Church fair later, as I’m typing this in the wee small hours of 10th June, so I will be helping out at that – rather conveniently our brass band is not rehearsing until the afternoon, early evening, so I’m able to help out on my mum’s stall. We were setting up yesterday afternoon, so I took some books with me to have a bit of a clear-out. The Duplicate Books have gone! I figured there was no point in having the two copies of each lying around, so those and a few others have gone on the stall for other people to enjoy! I have also given them some of the books I’ve already read this year. Not that I didn’t enjoy them, but I’m not likely to re-read them, so I might as well let Sandra have them for her stall.

Oh, and the other book news… Due to a course I am currently on at Manchester Cathedral Visitors’ Centre, I will be volunteering for a half day per week, and I have arranged to do mine at St Denys’ Bookshop! So, I will be in amongst books, plus other church stuff, and my first stint will come on Friday this coming week.

So, back to the OC List and there now seems to be something of a waiting list of books waiting to go on the OC List once other books come off it, lol! Manchester England, by Dave Haslam, will be my next non-fiction to join the list when the time is right, that one is a book to be resumed, as it is partially-read, but I would also quite like to start This Is Your Brain On Music, by Daniel Levitin, so that’s another non-fiction in the queue! On the general fiction front, and this would be a priority as I am trying to get that balance and add some general fiction to my list, I was looking at some of my “chunky monkeys” in a recent blog, if I remember rightly, and considering which of those to add to the OCs…

chunky books 2017

Chunky Monkeys – Some seriously epic reads here…

I did have a comment on my Chunky Monkeys photo which I posted on Instagram, with my former colleague Jill recommending The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, so I may well opt for that one, especially as, if I enjoy that, I can then go straight on to the sequel, World Without End! I think the other books on that photo are stand-alone novels, although I do believe Gregory David Roberts, who wrote Shantaram, has recently brought out a sequel, The Mountain Shadow. The only thing which would make any of the Chunky Monkeys have to wait would be whatever book I’m reading next for book club if it ends up being fiction, my cup of tea, and longer than an overnight read, lol!

I definitely feel that the time is right for another go at a big book! If I DO suffer a Book Hangover, as I did after I finished A Little Life last year, I shall go with some non-fiction for a while to see if that keeps me reading even if I can’t find any fiction I fancy!

I know this is a bit on the short side, but it will have to do for now. It’s the silly season now, as far as football’s concerned, international qualifiers for next year’s World Cup are on at the moment, but club football will resume with pre-season friendlies in late July and then the new season will start in mid-August. The new season’s fixtures will be out soon, I guess, but we don’t know those yet, and we’ve not signed any new players as yet, so there’s not a lot for me to waffle on about right now, really, lol! Zlatan is a free agent again, although he’s still with us as he trains and does his rehab after his knee injury. We may or may not re-sign him, but that depends on how things go and if we get other strikers in and they bang in the goals, we might not need to call upon him again.

Definitely need to score far more goals next season, though! That is a fact!

So, that’s about it for now, and I shall get this published. More of the usual waffle again soon, but until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • This Is Your Brain On Music – Daniel Levitin
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • World Without End – Ken Follett
  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  • The Mountain Shadow – Gregory David Roberts
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

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Filed under Books, Cross-Stitch, Football, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, The TBR Pile

Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

Tobacconist finished May 2017

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Another blog, another book finished and off the OC List! Not quite in time for yesterday’s book club meeting, but The Tobacconist has been finished off, and I can recommend it! Historical fiction without being too chunky (we all know historical fiction, as a genre, has a well-earned reputation for chunky novels!) Very well-written. So, currently, until I add another book, there are 10 books on the OC list, and now 28 on my Goodreads Challenge! Woo hoo!

Going back to my OC List, it may have occurred to you that when I give percentages for how far through any book on my OC List I have progressed, they are always at least 10% or more. Usually coming in on the list at around 12 or 13 percent. This is my OC List policy and it also means that I can try a bit and see if I like it first. If it doesn’t grab me, it’s not even going to go on the list! It’s my escape clause so that I don’t feel pressured into reading stuff which really doesn’t fizz on me, such as horror novels! So, if you WERE wondering why books had to be read, at least a little bit, before even appearing on the OC List, that is why! In case my book club chooses something which isn’t my cup of tea, or if I try one of my many books from my TBR List only to find that I can’t get into it…

New books May 2017

My latest acquisitions from Waterstone’s yesterday…

Anyway, talking of the book club, the next book, for our meeting on 14th June, is The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, by Denis Thériault, a novella set in Quebec, Canada. The author lives in Montreal, according to the info at the front of the book, so that’s our new one, with the postman theme giving us the blog title for today! Thing is, it’s a short one. 137 pages. Thus I am debating whether it will even need to go on the OC List at all, or whether it will only take a day or two to read and I needn’t list it as an Ongoing Concern, in the same way I didn’t bother listing Diary of an Oxygen Thief as an OC.

The other book in the photo is one which caught my eye in Waterstone’s yesterday, Midnight Blue, by Simone van der Vlugt. Historical fiction set in the Netherlands, in both Amsterdam and Delft. I have been to Amsterdam, of course, been there twice, let in the new year there once, back in the noughties, but not been to Delft as yet. I believe it’s in the south of the country and not far from Rotterdam, which I mentioned on here earlier this week due to Feyenoord winning the league and due to the anniversary of United winning the European Cup-Winners’ Cup at their ground in 1991.

Anyway, back to Midnight Blue. I read the blurb on the back, and it struck me that it seemed like the sort of book I might like, having enjoyed Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, a couple of years ago. Actually, I really should get round to trying The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton, sometime soon, if we’re discussing historical fiction set in the Netherlands, lol! Plus, I met her last year, and she signed it for me, along with my copy of The Muse.

Really should read some more of my hardbacks. Thing is, they’re not always the most ideal handbag books, are they? So I don’t feel as inclined to lug them around as I do with paperbacks, which I just stick in my handbag and take them around with me. Some books just come everywhere… Nul Points is still in my handbag. That’s top of the OC List now that I’ve finished The Tobacconist. Still got a lot of YA novels on there to get on with. Perhaps I need to get Nul Points finished and have a good go at the YA stuff… get it off the list and some fresh stuff on.

Talking of YA novels, anyone who knows me on FB book groups might know that I’ve recently commented that I much prefer the cover of the US edition of The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, rather than the UK version. Very helpfully, the young lady who was working in the YA section at Waterstone’s yesterday said that the Book Depository would be the place to go if I wanted to get a copy of that book with the US cover, so when I get around to acquiring one, I shall look online at that site. The book has different publishers in different countries. I don’t dislike the UK cover, but I have to say I much prefer the US one.

Bit of a List Challenges mini rant! Grrr! Why is it that sometimes they either change the edition or put image not available?! I’ve had to find new images for a couple of books and I’ve had to put those back in where they belong on a very long list, meaning I had to scroll upwards quite a bit, not just for 11/22/63, by Stephen King, but especially for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling! Very irritating, and a total pain in the arse, but covers have been found and the old ones deleted.

The other rant, although this applies to other sites, not just List Challenges, is that when you hide an advert for whatever reason, they bloody lie to you with that “We’ll try not to show that advert again” bullshit, but you know that’s not true as it crops up yet again shortly afterwards. If they are trying, which I very much doubt, then they’re NOT trying anywhere near hard enough as far as I’m concerned! Lying tossers!

The standard of advertising on the internet is subterranean to say the least! So much misleading shite! I just wish there was some kind of strict regulator, like we have the Advertising Standards Agency here in the UK. That tends to cover TV, radio, papers and magazines. Sadly, websites don’t come under their remit and there’s a load of bullshit “adverts” on the internet which would NEVER get shown on telly for a bloody good reason – they’re false and misleading and just bloody clickbait! If pigs ever fly, and I ever get to be in charge, a whole host of shite ads would get banned! Why should people’s enjoyment of time online have to be spoiled by shitty fake adverts?!

Been on the Book Depository website, but, disappointingly, it just seems to have the UK edition of The Hate U Give. Is there anywhere where I could get a copy of the edition with the cover I prefer? Anywhere at all? Not that I’ve really got the dosh right now, but on a need to know basis for when I do get around to buying it…

Well, time to get a bit more of Nul Points read, I think! So, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler
  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous
  • Midnight Blue – Simone van der Vlugt
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • The Muse – Jessie Burton
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • 11/22/63 – Stephen King
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J. K. Rowling

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Filed under Books, European Literature, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Historical Fiction, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Music, Ongoing Concerns, Rants, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

Mermaid Mystery

Books bought 29th April 2017

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

“I’m on the toilet at the 9:30 Club, and I’m wondering how mermaids pee.”

Isn’t that a brilliant opening line?! People get drawn to books because of their covers (we know we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but we still do, lol), and often because of the blurb, but a good opening line can do it for you as well! It’s what attracted me to The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli, when I was in Waterstone’s yesterday! She is also the author of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is on my notorious TBR list. Indeed, it’s in the rainbow tower of books!

The other book in the photo, Anna and the Swallow Man, by Gavriel Savit, is set in Poland in 1939, so a WWII setting, with a child separated from her parents, certainly from her father, early on, so not unlike The Book Thief in that respect. Anyway, as you can see here, from this photo, Savit’s novel came with a freebie…

Book and bookmarks 29th April 2017

Actually, my copy had TWO free matching bookmarks in it, and I also picked up the free postcard while I was in Waterstone’s, although that’s for a completely different book, Checkmate, by Malorie Blackman. Must admit I’ve yet to read any of her books, but I’ve certainly heard of them, Noughts & Crosses for definite. The postcard will no doubt end up being used as a bookmark anyway, lol! Offering free matching bookmarks is a pretty common promotional method, usually for the book shop to put one in each copy or put a pile on the table alongside the book they are promoting, although occasionally a book might actually have a detachable bookmark, such as the time I bought The President’s Hat, by Antoine Laurain, a book club book a few years ago. (That was a novel about the former French president, François Mitterrand, by the way, NOT about Washington Wiggy!)

I got another couple of books read while I was in Waterstone’s, so I am up to 24/30 on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I admit these were kids’ books, as seen above, but I read widely anyway, from children’s books to epic novels, and I’ve recently got a few long term ones off my notorious Ongoing Concerns list, so why not read a couple of quickies in Waterstone’s?! They were Tidy, by Emily Gravett, and The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt, which is the follow-up to the brilliant The Day the Crayons Quit, which I have also read, probably last year! I’ve mentioned it on my blog this year, though.

Charlotte is now moving on, though, more towards books which take more than a day to read, books with chapters. As mentioned recently, they’re reading The Wind in the Willows, or certainly parts of it, at her school. I don’t think I’ve ever read it, but I certainly remember the animated TV adaptation in the 80s, as I’m pretty sure Mr Toad was voiced by the legendary Sir David Jason. Then again, in a year or so, it’ll be Reuben’s turn for some of those books from which Charlotte is moving on. Reuben’s on the board books, he’s 6 months old at present. He has his mum, dad and big sister reading to him, so hopefully my little nephew will also love books as much as my niece does.

Obviously, in the next day or two, I’m going to have to do the April Review on here, so I’m not really focusing on the OCs right now as that’ll be a big part of the monthly summary of bookworm activity, but I’ve been making some progress with Pet Shop Boys, Literally in recent days, Chris Heath‘s account of the duo’s first tour in 1989. At the last count, I was on for page 212, and had thus read 62% of the book. I mentioned in a previous blog, earlier this year, that 2017 marks 30 years since I became a Pethead during the course of 1987, so it’s part of the anniversary celebrations of 3 decades of yours truly appreciating the musical talents and output of Neil Francis Tennant and Christopher Sean Lowe!

The OC list is still currently standing at 8 books, as I have still not decided on the books to replace The Saffron Trail and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. I did think, though, about honouring a couple of authors, one who’d passed away recently, and one who would have celebrated his 69th birthday on 28th April, but who passed away in 2015. We have recently lost Robert M. Pirsig on 24th April, the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, while the late great Sir Terry Pratchett would have turned 69 on Friday, so I was giving some thought to Mort, the fourth book of the Discworld series.

I’ve still got Diary of an Oxygen Thief, an anonymous novella, on my TBR pile, but I shall have to check again how long it is, or rather, how short, as it could be a one-day read which would not need to join the OC list any more than those children’s books I read at Waterstone’s! The Ongoing Concerns are books which are going to take me at least a while to read, they’re not going to be one-day or even overnight reads.

I might just read that one I bought earlier, though, the Becky Albertalli book… It would be my YA replacement for Nick & Norah and, after all, I’d also like to know how mermaids pee! Until the next time I blog, which won’t be very long in coming, lol, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
  • Anna and the Swallow Man – Gavriel Savit
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • Checkmate – Malorie Blackman
  • Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman
  • The President’s Hat – Antoine Laurain
  • Tidy – Emily Gravett
  • The Day the Crayons Came Home – Drew Daywalt
  • The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt
  • The Wind In the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig
  • Mort – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Childrens' Books, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Historical Fiction, Junior Bookworms, Music, Ongoing Concerns, Television, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

Good Morning, Judge!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

The joys of jury service, eh?! Last week, I wasn’t on a case, this week I am, but there’s still a lot of hanging around in the jurors’ lounge and thus plenty of reading time to keep bookworms happy, lol! Especially if a point of law needs to be raised and the judge doesn’t need us jurors for that… Thus, long lunches and plenty of book time! Therefore the OC List might be unrecognisable soon with some long-standing books coming off the list at last! You’ll remember that I finished off An Equal Music last week, along with The People’s Songs, and now another couple which have been on the list for some time, along with the Vikram Seth novel, have also been finished and joined the ranks of the Goodreads Challenge instead!

By the way, tonight’s court-themed blog title comes courtesy of a hit by 10CC back in the 70s! I’m not expecting the case to go on too long, which is a good thing because I’m not sure how many more legally-themed songs I can think of! We’ve had Love In The First Degree, All Rise and now Good Morning Judge! Talking of Love In The First Degree, it’s quite a co-incidence that I should use a Bananarama song title for a blog title last week and then we hear the news that Bananarama are making a comeback! I’m sure that’s just a fluke and we’ll not be hearing similar news for Blue and 10CC!

If I hadn’t been going through legally-themed titles, I might have gone with A Little Respect for today’s blog, as it’s the birthday of Andy Bell from Erasure, and I have loved them since my teens, back in the late 80s – second only to the Pet Shop Boys as far as my musical favourites go, and I’ve seen Andy and Vince in concert several times, almost as many times as I’ve seen Neil and Chris!

Right, anyway, so, where were we?! Ah, yes, finishing off books and getting them off the OC list because I’ve had a lot of time to kill on jury service, lol! So, yesterday I finished off The Saffron Trail at last, a really great book with a really good plot twist near the end! I’d actually got that book in October last year because I wanted something set in Morocco, or at least partially set in Morocco, to take on my jollies with me to Marrakech, and a Google search of “books set in Morocco” threw up that one along with a few others, the blurb looked good, and I managed to get a copy of Rosanna Ley‘s book from W H Smith’s in the Trafford Centre. Waterstone’s had some novels by the same author, but not that particular one, but WH Smith had a copy, so I was in luck. I got a bit read before and during my jollies, but I have read most of it since then, and it has reminded me of my time in Morocco in November.

I still want to slap Ted Robinson from The Saffron Trail, though! Well, actually, punch his lights out for being a total arsehole, or asshole as they’d say in the States, as he’s one of the American characters in the plot. He’s on the Literary Slap List, that’s for certain!

That one had been on 55% for a while, along with Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, but I finished that one off today, before making further progress with City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare, the first of the Mortal Instruments series, which is now up to 21% according to Goodreads.

Before we come on to the usual “what the hell should I read next?” dilemma, lol, I saw an interesting book-related question on Facebook earlier, concerning books which you may have originally hated, or at least not liked very much, first time around, but then you read them again later and really enjoyed them. Not sure I’ve experienced that as such, yet, but there is one book I remember having to read when I was at high school, round about 30 or 31 years ago now, the academic year of 1986-87, anyway, when I was in my third year at high school (year 9 as it’s known these days).

It was one of those instances where the whole class reads the same book. The book was The Gun, by C S Forester, and it didn’t really float my boat as a 13 or 14 year old. However, this is now 2017, I am now 44 years old, and if I were to get hold of a copy, I might try it and see if it grabs me this time round. I think they picked the book at the time in the hope it would appeal to the lads. I was a teenage girl and the thought of reading about some huge-arse cannon used in some silly battle or other didn’t seem like the sort of reading matter which would be up my street.

As I said before, though, we’ve moved on 30 years or so, I’m an adult, and a very random reader with pretty broad tastes! I read quite widely, I like to think, although there’s some stuff which really doesn’t appeal to me – such as horror or books by known right-wingers, as I have no wish to read something that’s either going to scare the living crap out of me or annoy me and get my blood pressure up! I’m not too thrilled about crime fiction, either, although I’ll give it a go as long as the plot isn’t too gory or scary!

I think I need a brew. On second thoughts, no. I KNOW I need a brew! I shall be back shortly with a cuppa… cannot possibly decide what to add to the OC List next unless there’s some tea inside me…

Right, back again with a brew and the remainder of my birthday cake. Oh, and a special thank you to all of you who follow my blog! 50 of you now! Not bad at all for something I just started up in 2010 in order to amuse myself and see if anyone else was undeterred by my waffle! I do go on a bit! You may have noticed, lol!

So… let’s not put it off any longer… Having just finished another couple of books in the past couple of days, we go back to that age-old question of what the hell to read next! The eternal bookworm dilemma…

Let’s look at what I’ve just finished. We have The Saffron Trail, which is general fiction, and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which is YA. So, if I were to replace like with like, we’re looking at one general fiction and one young adult to come off the sub’s bench, so to speak! But I could just disregard that and pick two completely different books to those which have come off the list. I could go with some fantasy and resume my Discworld progress with Mort, by Sir Terry Pratchett. It would give me a good laugh and be a really good size for my handbag. I’ve got I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov, here by Computer Corner, and that’s around the same size, physically, as Mort, so if I wished to attempt a bit of science fiction, there’s always that. Out on the landing, on one of the bookshelves, I have Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which is supposed to have an 80s setting to it, or at least a lot of 80s references in it.

Then again, there’s some of the “Prodigal Books” – those which once were lost, but had been found, lol! You may recall that four out of five of my “missing books” turned up. Just don’t start me on The God of Small Things, as I haven’t the foggiest when that disappeared, let alone where the hell it is! If you wish to revisit the sorry tale of my books going walkies, go back in the archives, you’ll probably need either February or March of this year, and blogs entitled Missing Words, and All The Books We Cannot See. However, there was a happy ending in Four Out of Five Ain’t Bad!

Of the Prodigal Books, most had been at least started, other than All The Light We Cannot See, plus the still-missing novel by Arundhati Roy (see above) but there’s three partially-started books – The English Patient, Thirteen Reasons Why, and A Man Called Ove. It occurred to me that if I were to resume Thirteen Reasons Why, plus either the Ondaatje or Backman, it would be a like for like substitution for the general fiction and YA I’ve just finished. However, for the general fiction, there’s the temptation to go with All The Light We Cannot See on the grounds that I could make serious inroads with this fairly chunky one while I’m still on jury service! Shorter reads can wait their bloody turn, lol!

Anyway, I’d probably better give some thought as to what to put in my bag for tomorrow. Perhaps I should take some which need getting on with… The Tobacconist, as it’s my current book club book, probably should be one of them, but we’ll see… I’m off to sort my books out, so if you wish to know which books I end up adding to the OC List, you’ll have to keep your eye out for email notification of my next blog, lol! Until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • The People’s Songs – Stuart Maconie
  • The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  • City of Bones – Cassandra Clare
  • The Gun – C. S. Forester
  • Mort – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
  • All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  • The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
  • Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  • A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler

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Filed under Books, Computer Corner, Facebook & Other Social Media, Fantasy Fiction, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, List Challenges, Literary Slap List, Music, Ongoing Concerns, The TBR Pile, YA Books

Put The Kettle On!

Tea and coffee books 1

Nothing quite like a brew and a good book, is there?!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

You may recall yesterday’s blog, and the rainbow tower of books, which contained two books by Vanessa Greene on the theme of tea, those being The Vintage Teacup Club, and The Seafront Tea Rooms. I mentioned, at the time, before I went downstairs for a brew, that I had had an idea for a themed blog. Well, here it is… I would definitely advise you to put your kettle on and make a hot leaf or bean-based beverage, because my theme for tonight is books about tea and coffee! I hope you enjoy this blog – I’ve been into part of my wardrobe unit to get some books and teas out for the photos, and I’m now having a mug of Maple Tea. As you can imagine, I purchased the tin of Maple Tea when I was in Canada, which was October 2009. The maple teabags were in a bag within the tin, though, and so they seemed OK!

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me” – C. S. Lewis

In recent blogs, I also mentioned a non-fiction book on the discovery and history of coffee, that being The Devil’s Cup, by Stewart Lee Allen, and, as I like both tea and coffee, I thought I’d do a blog about books on a theme of those drinks. One or two books are non-fiction, plus a few fictional works with mention of either beverage in the title.

Tea books 1

The Maple Tea is a souvenir of Canada, the other tin was in a set from a shop in Manchester’s Chinatown!

Obviously, we have the two Vanessa Greene novels, dealing with vintage teacups and with tea rooms in seaside resorts. I have yet to read these, and I have also yet to read The Tea Planter’s Wife, by Dinah Jefferies, but I expect I will get round to them. Ooh, that maple tea is nice! Anyway, sorry, where was I?! Ah, yes, unread novels about tea, lol! I have, however, read the non-fiction books about tea in this photo, those being A Taste of Tea, by Brian Glover, The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura, and Tea: The Drink That Changed The World, by John Griffiths. At the back of that book, in the sources list, as I’ve read this particular tome, is a bookmark from Niagara Falls, so I obviously acquired that in 2009 and must have been reading that book some time shortly after I came home from Canada. I doubt very much I was reading that book when I was in Toronto or Montreal on that particular holiday, as it is a chunky hardback and thus not really the most ideal reading matter for overseas travel!

On the first photo, at the top of this blog, you will also see the spine of The Story of Tea, by Mary Lou Heiss, another non-fiction guide to the history, preparation and world traditions surrounding tea. You can tell I like a cuppa, can’t you?!

So, that’s the tea sorted, now the coffee, lol! Obviously, my non-fiction book for this beverage is the Stewart Lee Allen book, The Devil’s Cup, a fascinating read about the discovery and history of coffee. It was discovered by Arabs who, being practising Muslims, found the plant’s berries and beans were great for keeping them awake and alert for their night-time prayers! Thus were the joys of caffeine discovered! I was actually reading Allen’s book when I was still working in town, so that shows you how long ago that was! That particular office closed in 2009, so it’s at least 8 years, probably more, since I read The Devil’s Cup! I was on some course or other in our meeting room, possibly a fire & bomb warden refresher session which I had to have every two or three years, and we were having a break from our training, so I was having a read while I could.

One of my younger colleagues didn’t seem to get why I loved reading. I find it hard to understand why people don’t love reading! Well, I can understand it if they have dyslexia, or some similar issue, but if you have no actual difficulties in reading, you just need to find a book you like! There’s plenty out there for everyone!

Along with the factual coffee book, I have put my hands on two fiction books with coffee in their titles, although how much either book focuses on the java remains to be seen as I have yet to read one of them, and have only read a very small percentage of the other. The one I have yet to read at all is The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, by Deborah Rodriguez, and the other book is Last Bus To Coffeeville, by J. Paul Henderson, of which I have read a smidgeon, but not really much. Can’t really call it an ongoing concern as yet. It was a free book I acquired last year at Chapter One in town, a giveaway for World Book Night.

Anyway, it’s a start. A selection of tea and coffee books, some factual, some fictional, and if you have any suggestions for books about either drink, feel free to mention them in the comments! I’m quite happy for people to comment, as long as I don’t get spammed! I don’t like spam! (Just don’t get me started on Monty Python sketches, or we’ll be here all bloody night, lol!)

“I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK! I sleep all night and I work all day!” – Oops! Sorry!

You’ll probably be ready for another cuppa now, so I suggest you put your kettle on, make yourself a brew, and until next time, Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Vintage Teacup Club – Vanessa Greene
  • The Seafront Tea Rooms – Vanessa Greene
  • The Devil’s Cup – Stewart Lee Allen
  • The Tea Planter’s Wife – Dinah Jefferies
  • A Taste of Tea – Brian Glover
  • The Book of Tea – Kakuzo Okakura
  • Tea: The Drink That Changed the World – John Griffiths
  • The Story of Tea – Mary Lou Heiss
  • The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – Deborah Rodriguez
  • Last Bus To Coffeeville – J. Paul Henderson

P.S. Which one of you’s called Brian?!

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Filed under Books, Food & Drink, Free Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, Non-Fiction, Television, The TBR Pile, Travel, World Book Night

Final Reckoning…

5-book-shortlist-feb-2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Been to see my dad earlier, physios are getting him walking already, they took him for a walk around the ward while we were there. I’ve lent him Round Ireland With a Fridge, although I have advised him that maybe he should leave it for a while – it is very funny, but he is very sore after his bypass, especially his ribs, so it might hurt too much if he’s laughing his head off at Tony Hawks hitch -hiking his way around Ireland, domestic appliance in tow! Plus, he has the absolutely massive Max Hastings book to be getting on with, which my sister’s partner has lent him – The Secret War. As I said the other day, seems history books are seriously chunky whether fact or fiction!

Anyway, on to the matter in hand, and that is the list of books I gave you yesterday, a selection of 15 books, pretty broad spread of reading matter across those books, and enlisted your help here on my blog, and on Facebook, so I would like to thank the following people who have made comments, either on here, on the Waterstone’s group, or on my timeline… Liz Craig, Sharon Ledger, Samantha Lidster, Darren Perks, Cornelia Jolitz, Lynda Cosgrove, Ellie Dixon-Jackson, Karen E MacKenzie, Liz Murphy, and Steve Hoar.

Between all those helpers, five different books from my list of 15 were named at least once, which means I was able to whittle things down to a shortlist of five books, those being…

  • The Pie At Night – Stuart Maconie
  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Mort – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Land of the Midnight Sun – Alexander Armstrong
  • Fishbowl – Bradley Somer

I think that’s given me a pretty decent and mixed shortlist, and one where I’d work my way through all five books, but I have to start with one of them, there has to be a winner which comes in my handbag and travels to Wembley with me tomorrow.

The only vote on this blog was for The Lady and the Unicorn.

On my Facebook timeline, the two friends who expressed a preference opted for The Pie At Night.

So, on to my group, I’d Spend All Day In Waterstone’s If I Could Get Away With It… who said what on there? There was one mention for Fishbowl, courtesy of my sister, and two mentions each for Mort, The Pie At Night, The Lady and the Unicorn, and Land of the Midnight Sun. Overall, across social media, that means that Fishbowl received one vote, Mort and Land of the Midnight Sun received two votes each, The Lady and the Unicorn received three, but the overall winner, with four different nominees, was The Pie At Night, by Stuart Maconie. There you go – the pies have it, lol!

Oops! There was also a mention, on the Waterstone’s group, for Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn, but as that only received a single vote, I will get around to it later, as I will with Fishbowl.

So, Stuart Maconie’s exploration of what the north does for fun will become a Handbag Book, and will travel down to Wembley with me tomorrow for the League Cup Final. Tracy Chevalier’s novel will become an ongoing concern the next time I finish any of my current books, and then the others I’ve mentioned on here tonight will come in to the equation sooner or later, lol!

I’m off to do a bit of reading and a bit of sorting ahead of tomorrow, so, until next time I get in touch with another blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this book blog other than the shortlisted ones…

  • Round Ireland With a Fridge – Tony Hawks
  • The Secret War – Max Hastings
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

 

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Filed under Books, European Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Football, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, Non-Fiction, The TBR Pile, Travel

101 Book Mentions

101-dalmatian-puppies

101 dogs for 101 blogs!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Last night, when I clicked to publish my blog, I received a notification shortly afterwards from WordPress, that I had published 100 blogs on Joanne’s Bookshelf! Wow! I knew I’d published a lot of book blogs, but some time ago, they seemed to stop letting me know blog by blog, so I lost count, although I knew I’d written a lot of these things! Anyway, last night, I reached my century, so this is my 101st blog, hence a photo from the film version of The Hundred and One Dalmatians! Well, it had to be done, lol!

Over the previous hundred book blogs, there have been many more than 101 books mentioned, lol! In fact, when I came to list them on List Challenges, my list came to 500 books! Would have been more if I’d listed every single Discworld book, I know, but I did list a few individually, and there’s one entry to represent the series. It’s just that the late great Sir Terry Pratchett wrote so many that it’d take ages to list! With some of the other fantasy series, there are not quite so many books. The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy, both Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia comprise of seven books each, and A Song of Ice and Fire has five books at present, and there are two more to come, I believe, as George R. R. Martin has not yet finished writing the series.

dalmatian-family

In one hundred blogs, we’ve covered one hell of a lot of issues! Some literary, some otherwise. Travel, music, sports, sports books, food, duplicate books, Young Adult novels and why they’re not just for teens, how much I hate book snobs, the content of books being more important than the authors’ appearances, tributes to poets, musicians and authors who’d passed away, especially last year when the Grim Reaper was overdoing it on the bumping-off front! I still think Phil Collins was taking a massive risk calling his autobiography Not Dead Yet, lol, given the number of celebrities lost in 2016! Looking forward to reading that book, though, when Sarah lends it to me.

We’ve even had cross-stitched bookmarks, Handbag Books, the chunkiness of historical fiction novels, the concept of the Book Hangover and bouts of Reader’s Block, the occasional rant, and of course a few mentions of the Junior Bookworm, my niece Charlotte. She now has a baby brother, of course, my nephew, Reuben, who was born in October, and she is clearly passing on her love of reading to the new arrival!

charlotte-reads-to-reuben

Charlotte reading to Reuben.

Looks like my nephew is enjoying having Eva and the New Owl read to him! It’s a book from the Owl Diaries series, by Rebecca Elliott, aimed at newly-independent readers such as my niece. I’m sure she still likes having books read to her, but she’s now very good at reading them on her own, and, as we can see, reading them to her baby brother!

You might be interested to know that my piles of books were still intact this evening when I returned home from Old Trafford after watching Manchester United beat Watford 2-0 in the Premier League, so neither the Juan Mata goal, nor the Anthony Martial goal, caused my books to topple over as they did last weekend when Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored our opener away to Leicester City! Must have just been a one-off! Let’s hope so! I want my side scoring lots of goals, but I don’t want my books falling over! As I reach 100 blogs, United reach 2,000 Premier League points, which they achieved this afternoon with the three points gained in our 2-0 win. Indeed, our next league victory will be our 600th in the Premier League, another milestone we’ll be the first club to achieve! However, this can’t happen until March, as we now have Europa League and FA Cup ties to contest, plus the League Cup Final against Southampton, before we have another Premier League fixture, which will be a home game against Bournemouth.

With Premier League Years 1992/93 downloaded onto my Kindle, I have at least one suitably United-related read amongst my ebooks for my trip to Wembley on 26th February. That particular date is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s birthday, too, so more reason to hope we win the cup – it would be appropriate to do so on a Legend’s birthday. Ole will be 44, he’s a couple of months older than me. He’s one of the main reasons why Norway is on my to-do list as far as travel is concerned, although I want to see more of Scandinavia anyway!

I have been to Denmark, a very long time ago now, way back in 1991 when I was 18, but we didn’t go to Copenhagen, so I have yet to visit the capital city. I have been to and performed at Legoland though! The original Legoland in Billund. The reason I was in Denmark in 1991 was because I was playing in the City of Salford Youth Concert Band, and every two years the band went abroad and gave a few concerts as well as having a bit of a holiday.Denmark was my first tour with the band, I also went to the Netherlands, France and Spain as part of the CSYCB. I was actually helping the band out by playing baritone sax at the time we went to Denmark, although my main instrument back then was the clarinet, “main instrument” meaning that I had my own, a pressie for my 16th birthday in 1989 just before I sat my GCSEs and left high school. The baritone sax was the music centre’s instrument, as was the bass clarinet I played a few years later in the band. These days, I’m in the Flixton Community Brass Band, in which I play tenor horn.

Anyway, I was on about Scandinavia, wasn’t I?! While Denmark was a long time ago, when I had just become an adult, I have had a more recent Scandinavian visit, when Mum and I went to Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2010. I totally recommend Iceland, especially as it’s an island full of bookworms! Icelandic people are major book lovers, they even have the “Christmas Book Flood” where they all buy each other new books, which they give each other on Christmas Eve, unwrap them, and then spend that night happily reading their new books! What a brilliant way to spend Christmas! I went there before I started writing these book blogs, which commenced later that year, but you won’t be surprised to learn I came home from Reykjavik with a few books, including The Sagas of Icelanders – that one kinda had to be purchased, really! I think it’s in the Book Chest in the garage. It’s a big, chunky book, anyway, as you might expect! Obviously, they were written by various Icelandic people, but the book I own has been put together by Jane Smiley. It’s not ALL the sagas, that would require an even chunkier book, I’m sure, but it’s a substantial introduction to Icelandic history, culture and folklore, and I hope to get around to reading it some time!

Well, we’ve started off with 101 dalmations to mark our 101st book blog, and we have ended up with mention of the bookworms of Iceland! You never know what’s going to turn up in this blog… mainly because I don’t know, either, lol! I just type this stuff as I go along, and sometimes one thing leads to another! Anyway, that’s about it for now, so until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Hundred and One Dalmatians – Dodie Smith
  • The Discworld Series – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling
  • The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis
  • A Song of Ice and Fire (series) – George R. R. Martin
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • The Owl Diaries: Eva and the New Owl – Rebecca Elliott
  • Premier League Years 1992/93 – Andrew Hyslop
  • The Sagas of Icelanders – Various (prefaced by Jane Smiley)

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Filed under Authors, Books, Cross-Stitch, Duplicate Books List, E-Books & Audiobooks, Fantasy Fiction, Football, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, Junior Bookworms, Literary Issues, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Rants, Reader's Block, School, College & Uni Reading, Sports, Television, Travel