Category Archives: Literary Slap List

Pigeon English

Pigeon English book

Did our feathered friend come in to read this one?!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Not every day you get a pigeon flying in to a bookshop, but it was a little too late for book club if that’s what it came in for! I was actually coming down the stairs at Waterstone’s Deansgate with a couple of books and heading for the tills to make an enquiry about another book I was interested in, when a pigeon flew in to the store from the main entrance on Deansgate! I shit you not! Doors open, a few human customers come in to browse, and a damn pigeon flies in and perches on top of a set of bookshelves at the other end of the store! As a member of staff goes over to the bird, it takes off again, whooshing past yours truly (still on the stairs and gobsmacked at what I’m witnessing here) and perches on a handrail near the first floor!

I then headed to the checkout to ask about my third book, which a member of staff went off to find for me, so I guess the pigeon was at least on the first floor somewhere, and staff were fetching ladders and stuff in order to assist the pigeon out of the shop! It was still there when I was paying for my books and leaving the shop, so I hope the staff did manage to help it on its way back out into the glorious warm evening here in Manchester! As I said when I was paying for my reading matter, maybe it came in for a read. Perhaps the Stephen Kelman novel, Pigeon English?!

Anyway, back to book club matters… The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman had a mixed reception from those of us at the meeting, some of us liking it, but some thought it was awful. Personally, I quite enjoyed it, it was a pretty quick read, too, but I did want to slap one of Bilodo’s colleagues, so Robert joined the Literary Slap List. Our next book is The Power, by Naomi Alderman, which is supposed to be sci-fi or dystopia about women being in charge and having actual electrical power over the blokes. To me, that only sounds like dystopia if you’re a bloke! Our next meeting is 12th July, which, funnily enough, reminds me of a book, or rather a series, which I read when I was a teenager! The series is by Joan Lingard, best known as the Kevin and Sadie series, and the first book of that series is The Twelfth Day of July.

I also bought Hot Milk, by Deborah Levy, which comes recommended by Emma who works at Waterstone’s and runs the book club, and the book I was making an enquiry about, which was Republic Or Death!: Travels In Search of National Anthems, by Alex Marshall. I had looked around for that one myself, but it’s a bit tricky when a book’s subject matter could put it in a number of categories! I looked in music, as it was about national anthems, I looked in politics, I looked in history… When I gave up and went to ask at the counter, the Waterstone’s employee who found the book for me said he’d found it under Travel Writing! It should have been in world history, so I was actually right in looking in the history department! I’d seen the book in hardback a while ago, at the Trafford Centre branch, and it looked like the sort of book I’d enjoy!

The national anthems book will have to join the waiting list for the OC List, though. Need to get at least a couple of non-fictions off the list to get a new one on there, as the next non-fiction to be finished needs to be replaced by a general fiction book. I am going to have to decide what to do about Book Club Books, as they are obviously a priority, providing I enjoy them enough to read beyond the first 10% of any given book! Maybe I might have to have it as an extra 10th OC book regardless of genre.

If the Book Club Book (hereafter BCB) is short enough to be read quickly, it doesn’t even need to go on the OC List at all.

If the BCB is not my cup of tea, I shall leave it unfinished and it won’t go on the OC List.

If the BCB IS my cup of tea and I read it in its entirity, it goes on the OC List as a 10th book regardless of whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, YA or whatever! The other nine on the OC List shall be 3 general fiction, 3 non-fiction, and 3 Young Adult once I have got that balance adjusted!

Therefore, I could start The Power now, and get on with it, and still have 9 others on the OC List, even if I enjoy The Power and read beyond the first 10 percent of it, which is my criteria for it going on the OC List in the first place. The ten percent thing, as I mentioned a few blogs ago, is my literary insurance policy against books which don’t float my boat!

Hot Milk could possibly be one of the general fiction ones to be read next once a suitable vacancy arises on the OC List, although I still plan to start one of my “chunky monkeys”, possibly The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. The national anthems book will join the list of non-fiction books on the waiting list, but when a suitable vacancy arises, I shall be resuming Manchester, England, by Dave Haslam, and using the bee bookmark I stitched recently to keep my place in it.

I’ve got my eye on these two for future acquisition…

The above books are on my radar! I think I’ve alluded to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck before now, pretty sure I mentioned it in at least one blog earlier this year, or at least the concept of it, but The Last Volcano was new to me when I spotted it tonight while looking around for that book about national anthems which I mentioned earlier! Thanks to my dad and a late night Open University programme donkey’s years ago when I was about 7 or 8, I have had a fascination for volcanoes for most of my life, as I have definitely mentioned in several book blogs over the years since I started blogging in the summer of 2010! Check my archives, and I’m pretty sure there are several entries which mention our lava-spewing chums and my interest in them since I was in the juniors at primary school.

Before I wrap this up and get it published, I think I’d better mention that I posted a recent blog entry on a book group on Facebook the other day as someone was asking if any of us wrote book blogs, so I posted the link to mine. I have warned them I am very waffly and random, though, lol! I currently have 54 followers, 54 brave souls who put up with my epic drivel every time I send one of these things to be published, but it could possibly attract one or two more intrepid bookworms who are willing to sift through all the randomness and football mentions to find the book-related stuff! Talking of football, Victor Lindelof has become our first signing of the summer, a Swedish central defender nicknamed The Iceman. I look forward to seeing him in action!

Anyway, I shall call it a day for now, so until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pigeon English – Stephen Kelman
  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman  – Denis Thériault
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • The Twelfth Day of July – Joan Lingard
  • Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
  • Republic Or Death! Travels In Search of National Anthems – Alex Marshall
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
  • The Last Volcano – John Dvorak

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Filed under Books, Football, Literary Slap List, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Television, The TBR Pile, Travel, Volcanoes, YA Books

May Review

bee bookmark a

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

We’re on Wednesday 31st May 2017, and thus it’s time for this month’s look back at books and other stuff that’s gone on this month! A fair bit of cross-stitch has occurred, as you can see from the photos of the bee bookmark, which is still in progress. There have also been some patterned bookmarks made this month, but some books have also been read, and the total of 30 books, which I set for this year’s Goodreads Challenge, has been met.

I am going to leave things as they are and see how many more books I can read this  year. I’d really love to add some of my niece’s creations – Charlotte, the Junior Bookworm, has been busy writing a few stories of her own, and illustrating them herself! She even understands about putting some blurb on the back! In years to come, if you ever see any children’s books by a Charlotte Williams, don’t be too surprised! She also writes and spells really well. The occasional mistake, but she puts a lot of adults to shame! She’s even had a go at science fiction with a story about aliens!

Her books don’t, as yet, have ISBN numbers, so it would be tricky to put them on Goodreads, sadly, but I can say I’ve been treated to advanced readings of them!

When April came to an end, I’d just finished Diary of an Oxygen Thief, and had reached the 25/30 mark on the Goodreads Challenge, so let’s go through the five books I’ve completed in May to bring the total to 30…

Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson, was the first of the five to be finished off. It had been almost-finished for some time, and I only had about 9 pages left to read, so I got that done! A bit of a departure from his usual books, as he is mostly known for travel writing, but this is a book about the history and development of the English language, another matter which is of interest to me.

The next book was Oi Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field, and was brought round by my niece for me to read! As I’ve said before, Charlotte has some brilliant books!

The Tobacconist, by Robert Seethaler, wasn’t quite finished in time for my book club, but I did finish it shortly afterwards, and I had read the vast majority of it by the time we met up at Waterstone’s, so it wasn’t as though I couldn’t discuss it! At the book club, our next choice was another short book, a novella entitled The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, by Denis Thériault. This book was such a quick read that I didn’t bother adding it to the Ongoing Concerns list, as there was no point! It was an overnight read. Started one day, finished the next. A really good book, actually, although the postman’s colleague Robert, deserves to go on the Literary Slap List.

May is the time of the year, these days, when the people of our continent gather for the annual festival of dodgy singing, bad costumes and biased voting. Otherwise known as the Eurovision Song Contest! Congratulations to Portugal, who won for the first time ever, and also thanks and congratulations to Tim Moore for writing Nul Points, a book about all those acts since the mid 1970s up to the early noughties, who’d come away from Eurovision without a single vote to their names!

bee bookmark b

Still deciding what to do about my bookmark. I could actually fit another bee on it at the other side, facing the other way. It certainly needs a border no matter what else I add. The bee chart is diagonally symmetrical so I could turn it on one side and the bee would be a mirror image of the one I’ve already stitched.

I also need to work out a design on graph paper for stitching. When I started stitching in 1997, I did United’s honours list in cross stitch, but it’s only last week that we won the Europa League, a trophy best known to us older footy fans as the UEFA Cup. Thus I never designed a version of that for my honours list or other footy-related stitching, but I need to do so now! I intend to stitch myself a bookmark with the European Cup, European Cup-Winners’ Cup and UEFA Cup now that United have completed the set with their 2-0 victory over Ajax in Stockholm last Wednesday.

With The Tobacconist and Nul Points off the OC List, and with no new ones added as yet, we are currently running an OC List of 9 books, of which 4 are non-fiction and 5 are young adult. My next plan is to replace the next non-fiction book I finish, and the next two YA books I finish, with general fiction books, possibly including one of my “chunky monkeys” for added challenge, and then I would have 3 non-fiction, 3 general fiction and 3 young adult. This balance amongst my Ongoing Concerns is something I have mentioned in previous blog entries.

chunky books 2017

Some of my “chunky monkeys” for consideration…

Obviously, I’m not going to start ALL of these, lol, but I’m certainly giving serious thought to starting on one of them soon! Technically, given my 10% rule, and given that these books are so long – we’re talking around the 900-1000 page range here, I’d have to read around 90 to 100 pages to even get it to the 10% mark, so I could start on one for when the OC List gets another taken off it, but on the other hand, the one I start could grip me so much…

The books most likely to come off my OC List first are both non-fiction, with Pet Shop Boys, Literally, in the lead, and Periodic Tales second, and now up to 47% although I’ve had a bit of a to do on Goodreads because someone had altered the number of pages and it made it look as though I’d actually gone backwards percentage-wise! Grrrr!

Yes, I KNOW the book has more than 398 pages, but after page 398 all you have are notes, bibliography, acknowledgements and the index! Are you seriously telling me that people actually read those bits?! They’re just there for reference, for crying out loud! The main body of writing ends on page 398, so that is when I consider the book to end. When I get to that page, I will have finished Periodic Tales. I have just given someone a piece of my mind on Goodreads as I change the number of pages back again! And if Amazon says there’s 448 pages, they’re wrong anyway, as there’s only 428 even if you do include the index and suchlike at the back! I will calculate my percentages based on 398 pages, thank you very much!

Some fiction books can be like that, too. Not with indexes, of course, those are for non-fiction books, but occasionally you get additional things from the author, even extracts from some of their other novels, so the end of the book, for me, is wherever the main story ends. Sometimes you get a few pages at the back which suggest questions which can be considered if the book has been chosen as a book club book. All very well and good, but it gives a misleading impression about the length of the main book if you ask me, and might lead to similar arguments on Goodreads as the one I’ve been having regarding a non-fiction book – see above!

Anyway, what do you reckon with regard to my chunky monkeys? Which of these pretty lengthy books should I attempt? There are 6 possibilities. The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb, Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, Paris, by Edward Rutherfurd, Magician, by Raymond E. Feist, and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. If you have any recommendations, I’d be happy to hear them, or rather read them in the comments, lol!

Another thought for when the time comes to get more general fiction on the OC List is that I should start on some of those hardbacks which are still resting in a tall pile on top of my bass amp! Possibly The Night Circus, or The Miniaturist, the latter of which is a signed copy since last summer when I met Jessie Burton at Waterstone’s in town.

Anyway, that’s about it for now, time to have another look at my bee bookmark and decide what to add to it… Until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Various books written and illustrated by Charlotte Elizabeth Williams, aged 6
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous
  • Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson
  • Oi Frog! – Kes Gray & Jim Field
  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler
  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • I Know This Much Is True – Wally Lamb
  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  • Paris – Edward Rutherfurd
  • Magician – Raymond E. Feist
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke

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Filed under Books, British Weather, Cross-Stitch, Football, Goodreads, Junior Bookworms, Literary Slap List, Manc Stuff!, Month in Review, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns

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

March Review

ongoing concerns and possibilities 31 March 2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

What a productive month March has been on the book front, ladies and gentlemen! At the end of February, I had 11 books on the Goodreads Challenge, and I’d also posted my 100th blog on here earlier that month. February ended with United winning the EFL Cup at Wembley, 3-2 vs Southampton, and with me starting The Pie at Night as a result of your votes when I asked which book from a choice of about 15 I should take down to Wembley with me!

Anyway, March has seen me reach and pass the 200 total likes milestone for my book blogs, and I also have over 40 followers! So chuffed! Thank you for reading my utter waffle! My Goodreads Challenge, as of today, 31st March, stands at 17 books, so 6 have been read this month, 3 quick reads and 3 which had been on my Ongoing Concerns list! I also have an almost-finished League Cup Winning Years bookmark, although I still need to add a couple of little finishing touches to it. The actual cross-stitching and backstitched border have been completed, though!

The quick reads, which I read in a day, or over 2 days max, were Esio Trot, The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, and Headhunter. They didn’t even go on the OC list for rather obvious reasons – they were so short that I could finish them pretty quickly, there was no point in adding them to the list!

The books which are no longer Ongoing Concerns are The Pie at Night, Moonstone (my book club book), and Tuesdays With Morrie. Those have come off the OC List, taking the list down from 8 to 5, although I have since added Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, so I’ve got 6 OCs right now. The YA novel I have just mentioned is now at 34%, by the way. Making quick work of that one, and I reiterate what I said the other day about Greg Gaines – I am enjoying his nerdiness!

Couple of problem areas… 1) I’d like to know whereabouts I put my EFL Cup Final ticket. I know it’s in my room somewhere, but not sure where it’s disappeared to, and 2) I now have 19 books on the notorious Duplicate Books List, an increase of 2 books on the 17 I realised I had this time last year! Yes, one of them was intentional due to the book being on the Missing Books List, but the other is accidental – I have discovered that I somehow own two copies of Shakespeare, by Bill Bryson, and it’s not the only Bryson on the Duplicates list, either!

An Equal Music tops the OC list at present, and is on 78%, but I’m making short work of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, now at 34% and I only started it the other day! Either of those could be finished next, I feel. However, Finding Audrey is still stuck at 29%, I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović at 53% and The Saffron Trail at 55%, so those could do with a kick start. Personally, in the case of Finding Audrey, I shall blame her mum for reading the Daily Fail, lol!

In The Saffron Trail‘s case, I blame Greg’s dad, Ted, for being a right-wing arsehole. In fact, he can join Audrey’s mum, and the others, on the Literary Slap List next time I revise that! I try not to post spoilers for any book, but the plot kinda moves between certain characters, locations and periods in time, and part of it is set at the time of the Vietnam war. Much of the novel is set either in the UK or Morocco, though, and I bought it just before my holiday in Marrakech because of the whole Moroccan theme – quite a bit of the book is set in Marrakech, although some of it is set in Essaouira.

Zlatan is currently serving a domestic ban, although I think he misses his final game of it tomorrow at home to West Brom, so he should be back soon. I was going to read a bit more of his autobiography had he scored in our most recent European game, at home to FC Rostov, but it was Juan Mata who scored the only goal of that match in our 1-0 win, so Zlatan didn’t get read! Maybe after this weekend, then…

I have checked. This is the final game of his 3 match ban, so he’s back after we play the Baggies at Old Trafford tomorrow. Can you believe we actually kick off on a Saturday afternoon at 3pm?! A proper traditional kick off for Manchester United! Wow! You may need to sit down with a stiff drink on reading that, lol!

Eric the Seagull

Today is 22 years since King Eric came out with his legendary speech…

“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you.” – Eric Cantona. 31st March 1995.

Good excuse to post the photo of Eric the Seagull, lol! Anyway, back to the books! Let’s get this month’s review sorted and then I can chill and watch Masterchef in a bit! Not that I’ve anything against John Torode, but I really do love Greg Wallace! He makes me lol, and he loves his desserts! I have a majorly sweet tooth, as everyone who knows me will probably tell you, so I have an affinity with Greg, even though I do envy him ’cause he gets to eat that yummy food and I don’t! Mind you, I don’t envy him or John when one of the contestants has had an absolute ‘mare in the kitchen and their cooking has been an absolute disaster and is either burnt or raw! Greg also presents the brilliant Inside The Factory series on BBC2, which I also really love!

So, as we head into April, there are 6 books on my OC list at present, of which 3 are YA novels, plus two “chunky” general fiction novels and an autobiography. My book club book for my next meeting, Moonstone, has already been read. The meeting is on 12th April. I have jury service at the end of April, so I am hoping I will get a lot of reading done when I’m on that! I am off to put the kettle on and make another brew and then watch Masterchef, so until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Esio Trot – Roald Dahl
  • The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark – Jill Tomlinson
  • Headhunter – Jade Jones
  • Moonstone – Sjón
  • Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Shakespeare – Bill Bryson
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović – Zlatan Ibrahimović
  • The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Cross-Stitch, Duplicate Books List, Food & Drink, Football, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Literary Slap List, Month in Review, Ongoing Concerns, Television, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

February Review

Natural Born Bookworm!

I Read Therefore I Am!

Hello, again, fellow Bookworms!

Two months of 2017 done and dusted already! Can you believe it?! February has been a very busy, eventful month with plenty of blogs, so it was little wonder I notched up my 100th book blog during the course of this month, and celebrated by listing all the books I’d mentioned in one huge list on List Challenges! It came to 500 books!

The Goodreads Challenge is well on track, and I have now completed 10 books so far this year, adding another five to the five I’d read by the end of January. Jamrach’s Menagerie, by Carol Birch, finally came off the Half-Read Books list, although there are still plenty more of those which need finishing off. My next finish was pretty short – Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, meaning he can now be added to the list of authors of whose works I’ve read more than one!

I Know This Much, the autobiography of Gary Kemp, Spandau Ballet’s guitarist, was next over the finishing line, as I read that in time to return it to my friend Sarah before we went to see the Pet Shop Boys in concert on 19th February. It had been one of two books she lent me, but I’d read the other one last year.

In the spirit of finally getting around to reading books which I’ve had for absolutely ages, and in a spirit of rebellion against this notion that dystopian novels are the way to go right now, I decided what I needed most from my reading matter was humour! There is far too much gloomy shit going on in real life – the last bloody thing I need is the likes of Orwell, thank you very much! So, I went with Tony Hawks and I was so glad I did – Round Ireland With a Fridge is absolutely brilliant! VERY funny and exactly what I needed!

There have been a few rants. As you can tell from the above paragraph, one of them was about my need to put my mental health first and speak out against a lot of bullshit which does the rounds these days, such as “self-help” and “advice” from so-called life coaches. The other main rant was my periodic insistence that the most important thing about books is their content, NOT what the author looks like! The only thing you need to differentiate between is fiction and non-fiction, NOT between male and female authors!

Oh, and I also had a bit of an incident when my books got all excited and toppled over! Two piles of books fell down when Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored United’s opening goal away to Leicester City! Pleased to report, though, that this seems to have been a one-off occurrence, and that my books have since managed to remain calm despite further United goals and our EFL Cup victory against Southampton at Wembley on Sunday! No books fell over while I was down at the cup final, I’m pleased to report! It brings us on to our final finished book for February, that being Premier League Years 1992/93 by Andrew Hyslop, which I started reading on my Kindle on the way home from Wembley, and I finished reading it yesterday evening!

Just been enjoying some yummy pancakes! Yay for Pancake Day – that one day of the year when you can say someone is a complete tosser and mean it as a compliment, lol! My mum makes awesome pancakes, I think my blog readers ought to know this information, just as much as they ought to know that I have now added a sixth book to my read list for this month, and thus an 11th book overall, as I have read The Book With No Pictures, by B. J. Novak. I’d seen it mentioned on Facebook the other day, and I shared it to my book group on FB. My sister saw my post and it turns out that my niece, Charlotte, has that book, and they’d brought it round for me to read when I got back from my placement this evening! Very funny!

So, those are the finished books this month, now onto the ongoing concerns and new additions to the ongoing concerns! The two chunky ones are The Saffron Trail, by Rosanna Ley, and An Equal Music, by Vikram Seth, and I’m just over halfway in both books now. Then comes I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and I am also just over halfway through our Swedish striker’s autobiography.

The recent additions are The Pie At Night, by Stuart Maconie, and Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella, from which the main protagonist’s mum has gone on the Literary Slap List for being a Daily Fail reader! I’d finished Round Ireland With a Fridge before I went to Wembley, so I needed to add a fresh book to the list of ongoing concerns, and put it to the vote here and on Facebook, with the Maconie book enjoying a narrow victory, rather like the one United enjoyed over Southampton at Wembley, really, lol!

Finding Audrey was found at W H Smith’s when I was at Wythenshawe Hospital last week, visiting my dad. He had a heart attack on 16th February, and had a double bypass op on 23rd, from which he is now recovering well. He is still in hospital at present. It’s a Young Adult novel, but I don’t mind a bit of YA, as regular blog readers will know!

Talking of which, my readership has increased significantly during the course of this month and, at the last count, I had 37 people who follow my book blog, so many thanks to all of you who have chosen to risk it for a biscuit, lol! It is much appreciated!

I simply started blogging in 2010 just for fun, for my own amusement, but it seems others enjoy at least some of my waffle! I’m not Nick Hornby, I’m not blogging for a publication, so I take a leaf out of Frank Sinatra’s book and do it my way! I rant, I let off steam, especially if I think some people are putting many others off reading, I waffle on and on, I go off at tangents, and I often bring football and music into it, but there’s at least a book or two in there somewhere! Often quite a lot of books are mentioned, but there’s usually at least two, even during that time in 2011 when there was rioting and looting on the news and I quoted the manager of a branch of Waterstone’s down in London who said they were staying open and added “If they steal any books, they might actually learn something”!

Well, this is the last day of February, and it’s been a bit mad! Had snow this morning when I was getting ready to head to Eccles, and I have found out, this evening, that Mount Etna is erupting again – I’ve had an interest in volcanoes since I was about 7 or 8, and visited Mount Etna in 2001 when Mum and I were on holiday. We were in Malta on our jollies, but we had a day trip to Sicily and stood on Etna’s slopes. A fortnight later, she burst into lava-spewing life, producing one of the biggest eruptions she’d had in quite some time!

You can blame my dad for my interest in volcanoes, lol! It’s his fault, well to be fair, I think the Open University should take its fair share of responsibility, as it was one of their programmes Dad was watching late one night when I was a kid, and he let me come down to watch because he thought it’d interest me. I’ve read a few books about volcanoes, and have an absolutely MASSIVE book about them – mostly photographic but it does have some writing. This book is so damn big that it is under our coffee table in the living room as it’s the only bloody place it would fit! It’s simply called Volcanoes, and is by Philippe Bourseiller and Jacques Durieux.

Anyway, enough about volcanoes, it’s time I got this blog finished off and published! Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch
  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • I Know This Much: From Soho To Spandau – Gary Kemp
  • Round Ireland With a Fridge – Tony Hawks
  • Premier League Years 1992/93 – Andrew Hyslop
  • The Book With No Pictures – B. J. Novak
  • The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • The Pie At Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • Volcanoes – Philippe Bourseiller and Jacques Durieux

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Filed under Arsehole Politicians, Autobiography/Biography, Books, British Weather, Childrens' Books, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Humour, Junior Bookworms, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Literary Slap List, Month in Review, Music, Rants, Television, Travel, Volcanoes, YA Books

The Literary Slap List

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

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Message for Goodreads:

No, I haven’t “just started” Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella. I’m on for page 44 now, as I type! I actually started reading the damn book while I was still stood in W H Smith’s at Wythenshawe Hospital, after I’d been visiting my dad! Hence I am using my Metrolink tram ticket as a bookmark! Off-peak adult return between Cornbrook and Roundthorn. (I have a bus and tram pass, but only certain tram lines are covered, for others I need a ticket.)

My dad had a heart attack last week, but could feel it coming on, so thankfully he was able to get himself home and call for an ambulance, and he was taken to hospital. Wythenshawe is a heart specialist hospital, if you get my drift. Dad lives in Macclesfield, but having had this heart trouble, it’s brought him back in the Manchester area for now. He’s due to have a double bypass on Thursday.

Anyway, enough about my dad’s dodgy ticker for now, and back to the books. Actually, he had a pretty huge history book when I went to visit him – my sister’s partner had lent it to him. History, whether it’s fact or fiction, seems to result in some pretty huge books! I’ve mentioned chunky works of historical fiction on many occasions, as regular readers will know, lol!

Finding Audrey, which I found myself reading at W H Smith’s at the hospital, is a YA novel, set here in the UK, although I’m not currently sure if it’s set in any specific part of these shores. Audrey is the middle child of Chris and Anne Turner in this particular story, with both an elder and a younger brother by the sound of it. She has two brothers, anyway. Whilst I will try not to spoil things, Audrey has mental health issues, and personally, I can see why she and her brothers are like they are when you consider that their mum reads the Daily Fail! Enough said, methinks! Perhaps Ms Kinsella wrote this book to poke fun at the sorry excuse for a “news” paper?! I might only be 44 pages in, but I sense that the author is having a significant dig at Daily Fail readers!

This means that Anne Turner has the dubious distinction of being added to my notorious Literary Slap List! This is my list of characters from various books who could all do with a damn good slapping because they are all seriously annoying in one way or another! As we add our latest candidate to the list, I shall now run through the list of characters who are already on there, and we shall start with Jane Austen‘s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice

I had to study Pride and Prejudice when I was at high school, it was one of my set books for GCSE English Literature. Whilst it did grow on me eventually, and gives us some good characters, I’m afraid to say there are actually FIVE characters in this novel who feature on my Slap List, and Mr Darcy is NOT one of them! Mr Darcy is just a bit misunderstood. I think he’s probably an introvert, and doesn’t really enjoy all those balls he is compelled to attend. He’d rather just be in the company of one or two other people instead of the whole damn town!

However, Mrs Bennet and her two youngest daughters, Kitty and Lydia, are most definitely on the Slap List! Kitty and Lydia are just a pair of airhead bimbos, and their mother is an overgrown airhead bimbo who encourages her two youngest in this tarty behaviour! She’s more than old enough to know better! Mr Collins joins them on the list – can we say “obsequious little toad”? Yes, I thought we could! Elizabeth was right to turn him down! The fifth member of the Pride and Prejudice cast list to be added, but by no means least, is Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Two-faced, hypocritical old bag with serious double standards! Wants every other young lady to have a list of accomplishments as long as her arm, but makes every excuse under the sun as to why her own flesh and blood hasn’t got any strings to her bow!

After that, there were no more additions for years, although there were times when I was doing A Level French at Eccles College when I would have liked to have slapped Jean-Paul Sartre because trying to get my teenage head around the concept of existentialism was NOT an easy thing to do! I’d also like a word with whoever it was who came up with the Past Historic tense in the French language! Seriously! How many versions of the past tense does any bloody language need?! Do you really need a version of the past tense which you only actually use in works of literature?! No, I don’t bloody think so! So, grrrr at French for inflicting this upon us! Grrr at whoever invented A Levels as well, come to think of it!

We have to go to The Catcher In The Rye, by J. D. Salinger, next, as our next entrant on the Slap List is none other than Holden Caulfield. This caused much debate on my book group on Facebook, I’d Spend All Day In Waterstone’s If I Could Get Away With It, when we discussed this way back in around 2008, but plenty of people were in agreement that he was a very whiny, moaning teenager who really ought to stop sulking and realise how lucky he actually was! Just to amuse you, though, I recall reading that book, due to the kerfuffle it had caused on our Facebook group, and I kept misreading Pencey Prep as Poncey Prep! I guess Holden might have seen it as poncey, lol!

Dolores Umbridge absolutely HAS to be on this list! Ghastly woman! We first meet her in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and she is just such a vile two-faced character that I actually prefer Lord Voldemort! At least you know where you stand with Voldemort! He doesn’t disguise it. He’s a nasty piece of work, but he makes no pretence at being nice, which is fair enough, whereas Umbridge comes over all simpering and pretending to be nice, when she’s actually a right nasty bitch! The other thing about two-faced people is that you don’t know which face to slap first!

This next one is actually non-fiction as it is autobiographical, but I really want to slap the author, Elizabeth Smart, for what basically amounts to a pity party in writing! Two years ago, as one of our book club choices in 2015, I had the misfortune of encountering By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept. This may have been a short book, but it really wasn’t short enough! She loved this poet guy, and actually paid for him and his wife to move over to the States. Thing is she did it in the hope that he’d leave his missus for her. She just wanted to get in his pants and basically sulked because he was spoken for and carried on like some whingeing teenage girl. As I think I said at the time, save yourself the time and money… just listen to “Love’s Unkind” by Donna Summer, and you’ll get the general idea!

And now, that brings us back to Anne Turner, Audrey’s mum in Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella. The fact that this character is a Daily Fail reader, and a pretty typical, annoying one, is absolute proof that she needs to be on my Slap List! Probably needs to be at the top of it, actually, even above the irritants I’ve just been mentioning!

The novel may well be coming to Wembley with me, though, along with I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Round Ireland With a Fridge, as chances are I may still be reading both of those come Sunday. I’ll certainly still be reading Zlatan‘s autobiography. and probably the Tony Hawks book as well. Not finalised the list yet, will have to see what still needs reading come Saturday, but as the EFL Cup Final approaches, things become clearer on the book front.

I’m clearer on my need to get some kip right now, as we’re in the wee small hours as I type this, so until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Catcher In the Rye – J. D. Salinger
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J. K. Rowling
  • By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept – Elizabeth Smart
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Round Ireland With a Fridge – Tony Hawks

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Crap Cyclists and Outdoor Noodles

Me at Wagamama 6th June 2016

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

That was me, yesterday evening, at Wagamama after my book club meeting. Weather here is gorgeous at the moment, having what is known as a Proper Summer, most unlike the UK, lol, and definitely most unlike Typical Mancunian Weather! Therefore, I had the rare opportunity to dine outdoors! Not something I usually get to do unless I’m on my jollies abroad! But there I was, eating outdoors in Manchester, and we are talking some time around 8pm here… Yes, I was in town, it was gone 8 o’clock and it was still light and still warm… You may need to sit down with a stiff drink upon reading this!

I need to get on with A Little Life, as the “support group” meeting is on 17th June, so 10 days to go. I am just over half-way through it now, so some epic reading in big chunks should see me get through! I’m currently on page 370 of 720, so another 350 pages to go… I was going to say that I’d like to add Caleb from A Little Life to my Literary Slap List, but a slap would not be anywhere near enough for that arsehole for what he does to Jude, so he heads up the Literary Punch Their F***in’ Lights Out List instead! Wishing this Caleb character was in the ring and facing the late great Muhammad Ali at his very best… THAT level of having his lights punched out…

2016 needs its lights punching out, far too many people taken from us, Ali being the latest legend we have lost this year. Sadly, it was narrowly outvoted last night, but I really fancied reading King of the World, by David Remnick, which is about Muhammad Ali, not just the boxing, but how he transcended his sport. Mind you, I can happily read sports books, and not just football ones! The chosen book for our next meeting, which will be on 4th July, is Deep Water, by Patricia Highsmith. I have bought it, along with Fishbowl, by Bradley Somer, which is supposed to be funny, and narrated by the goldfish!

Having finished The Girl of Ink & Stars on Sunday, in time for yesterday’s book club meeting, I have decided that my new current dose of YA is Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Shakespeare, by Bill Bryson, is also now a Handbag Book, and is a current non-fiction fix.

I guess you figured out the bit about outdoor noodles, but the other aspect of my blog title was witnessed by Steph and I as we met up and chatted. Ken Loach had been in town, so Steph had gone to that event instead of book club last night, but we met up as I was heading along Deansgate from Waterstone’s to the Spinningfields area for my post book club food. We crossed over and stood chatting for quite a while. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with Manchester, but there is a pedestrian crossing between that arcade bit on one side of the road and the John Rylands Library on the other, and we were stood outside the library, appropriately enough, chatting, mostly about books, authors, reading, and other issues of this nature when our literary natter was punctuated by the witnessing of numerous incidences of Bad Cycling, much of which involved going through red lights and not looking what they were bloody doing!

The 2 kinds of Bad Cycling…

  1. The type done by sports cyclists where they cheat by taking performance-enhancing drugs, the sort of Bad Cycling which has brought shame on the Tour de France, for instance. The “Lance Armstrong” type of Bad Cycling, as it were…
  2. The type done by utter eejits on bikes on roads up and down the country with no regard for their own safety, let alone that of other road users or pedestrians. This is the type Stephanie and I witnessed rather too much of yesterday evening!

The worst example of this was one complete and utter dickhead who had one hand on his handlebars and the other on his mobile phone, and guess which was receiving most of his attention? Clue: It wasn’t a part of a bicycle! Yep, this utter knob was so busy checking his phone that he went through a red light, just before turning left at the junction where Deansgate meets Bridge Street and John Dalton Street, thus left onto Bridge St, and how this complete imbecile did not get knocked down by a taxi, I shall never know! And it would not have been the taxi driver’s fault, for once! We all know taxi drivers do not have the best of reputations for driving, but the cyclist would only have had himself to blame if he’d ended up in one of Manchester’s hospitals that evening!

Deansgate map

Right, here’s a map… After Book Club, I walked down from Waterstone’s along that side of Deansgate, crossing both South King Street and John Dalton Street until I got to the pedestrian crossing which is near where you can see Elixir Tonics & Treats. That’s in the arcade bit with a betting shop and one of those fried chicken places which is a cheapo version of KFC… you get the picture… I met up with Steph here and we crossed the road, and were stood outside the John Rylands Library, hence the little square on the map. The circle on the corner of Deansgate and Bridge Street indicates where the utter numpty on a bike ran the red light and went left while still on his mobile and not looking what he was bloody doing! Eventually, we’d seen too many crap cyclists that Steph felt the need to get home before she risked accosting one of these utter dipshits, and I headed to Wagamama, so off the map as far as this diagram is concerned, but not too far away.

Personally, I think the worst drivers are bus drivers. At least you have a seatbelt if you’re in a taxi, but you have NO protection when you’re on a bus and the driver thinks he’s in the Monaco Grand Prix! I’ve been on buses where passengers have been flung around and hurt, and I am actually surprised it’s only happened occasionally given what a bunch of boy racers bus drivers are and how they never seem to wait for everyone to sit down before they move off… Just don’t get me started on that… No wonder I prefer trams, lol!

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now! Enough noodling around and wandering off topic! I shall be back again fairly soon, I imagine, with more mentions for various books and other assorted waffle! Until next time, take care, watch out for cyclists who are not looking where they’re going, and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • King of the World – David Remnick
  • Deep Water – Patricia Highsmith
  • Fishbowl – Bradley Somer
  • The Girl of Ink & Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  • Shakespeare – Bill Bryson

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