Category Archives: Manc Stuff!

Outside of a Dog…

Year of the Dog 2018

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

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

K9 from Doctor Who

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dom-parsons-bronze-skeleton 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Marley & Me – John Grogan
  • The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  • White Fang – Jack London
  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy – Lynley Dodd
  • Harry the Dirty Dog – Gene Zion
  • The Hundred and One Dalmatians – Dodie Smith
  • The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Sirius – Olaf Stapledon
  • There Is No Dog – Meg Rosoff
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
  • Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller
  • Even the Dogs – John McGregor
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Dai Sijie
  • The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See
  • Sweet Mandarin – Helen Tse
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Mort – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bront√ę
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
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Filed under Books, Childrens' Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Fantasy Fiction, Food & Drink, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, Olympic Games, Ongoing Concerns, School, College & Uni Reading, Science Fiction, Sports, Television, Travel

Andrei Kanchelskis vs the Martians…

Me and the Manc Bee - Central Library Feb 2018

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

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

book purchases 7th Feb 2018

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

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

lathe and wood 2016

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

Woodwork and wood-turning 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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Science Fiction and Dutch Pensioners

Hendrik Groen and scifi books

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Here again, with another blog, and this time after a 2-0 win for my lads, at home to Huddersfield Town this afternoon, thanks to second half goals from Romelu Lukaku and our new boy, Alexis Sanchez. We had actually got a penalty, which is amazing enough as it is given what a dreadful, useless ref we had, but the goalie got down and got a hand to it. Thankfully, he didn’t save it, just blocked it, and the ball came back to Sanchez so he put away the rebound. Wonder if we’ve got any of that Chilean wine in? Hmmm…. That Casillero del Diablo stuff, if you’re wondering what I’m on about…

* Chief Bookworm then buggers off down the road to Tesco and ends up coming back with a bottle of said vino (white) and some snacks… *

* raises glass to Alexis Sanchez *

Here’s to many more goals! I could actually also get round to reading that book about the Chilean miners – you remember that? Around the end of 2010, as I recall. The book is called The 33, and it’s by Jonathan Franklin. Now my club actually has a Chilean player, it’s the perfect excuse to get that one off my TBR list at last. I may have to fast track it for when I’ve finished Russian Winters by Andrei Kanchelskis. That’s my current hardback.

However, the hardback I bought the other night may also be in line for an early read, as I read The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1/4 Years Old last year, and now Hendrik Groen is back with another diary, On The Bright Side, the New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen! Hence the bit about Dutch pensioners in my blog title! I’ve had a thing for diaries, at least amusing ones anyway, for years, two of my most-read books are the first two Adrian Mole books by the late great Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole. We might not have called them Young Adult books back then, but they were, and that’s the YA stuff I was reading when I was a teenager!

Mmmm… that wine’s nice! ūüôā

Anyway, I hadn’t expected the Hendrik Groen book. I had gone into town after work yesterday because I needed my¬† bus and tram pass reloading for another month, and I had said I was going to look for books in Fopp, which I did, and I also got some from Waterstone’s too, before fetching up at Wagamama for food. I ended up with 4 books from the SF Masterworks series, all by different authors, and I am going to mention 3 of them, as one of them will tie in with my intended blog for Chinese New Year, so I will be coming back to that later this month.

Science fiction Feb 2018

Besides the earmarked book for the “dog blog”, my other purchases were The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr, and The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester. I do already have another book from that series at my disposal, on one of my towering piles of books, that being Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keyes. However, while we’re on the subject of science fiction, let’s move on to my current read in that genre, and the other two books which are currently my Ongoing Concerns…

Some bad news for Mr Kanchelskis – I’m afraid our Andrei has been overtaken by the Martians, lol! Russian Winters is at 25%, but The War of the Worlds reached 26% the other night and as I have now downloaded the H. G. Wells classic for free on my Kindle (top tip – you can get a load of old classics for nowt as e-books), I was able to read a bit more of it this evening on the way home from the match after our 2-0 win against Huddersfield! I am up to 29% at the moment – my Kindle actually gives progress in percentages. Usually, I work out how many pages I’ve read and divide it by the book’s total to work that out.

I couldn’t read an actual book in the back of the car on the way home at this time of year, it’d be too dark, hence my Kindle comes in handy. We don’t live far away, but it takes quite some time to get out of the Old Trafford car park and then a while longer to get through Trafford Park, so it is worth taking an e-reader to the match! I’m glad I took it to Wembley last year for the EFL Cup Final – on the way back, after our 3-2 victory over Southampton, the reading lights in the coach didn’t seem to be working, so I couldn’t continue with The Pie at Night, by Stuart Maconie, which I had been reading on my way down to the final, and ended up reading Premier League Years 92/93 by Andrew Hyslop on the way back to Old Trafford. Must say, though, that that was the quickest we’ve ever got back from Wembley after a win! The Pie at Night ended up being signed when I met Stuart at Waterstone’s later in the year, along with Long Road from Jarrow, which had just been published when he did his book event on Deansgate.

Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd, is still 3rd, but is up to 23% read now, so not too far behind Andrei’s autobiography. I want to get all three advanced as much as possible bearing in mind that it’s book club this coming Wednesday, and I’ll then have another book to get stuck into!Munich 60th anniversary 2018

These were on our seats in plastic bags at the match today – match programme, book and pin badge. Today was the nearest home match to the anniversary of the air crash, the actual anniversary is this coming Tuesday, 6th February, and I will be having a half day at work so that I can finish at lunchtime and go to Old Trafford in the afternoon for the commmemorations.¬† Not sure the book’s got an ISBN, though, so I’m going to have an issue putting it on Goodreads, possibly. Just because it’s a commemorative book should not mean that it can’t feature on the Goodreads Challenge, though, surely?! A book is a book! If I read it, I should be able to list it, both on Goodreads and List Challenges. We shall see… If not, and I read it, we’ll just have to regard it as an extra book.

In a way it’s a bit similar to that problem I had last year when I got a free book at my book club, but it was an advanced copy, an unedited proof edition of Skintown, by Ciaran McMenamin. I acquired that in either January or February last year, but the book was not published until early April, so I had to wait a few months to find a photo of the cover of the book for List Challenges. I still have yet to read it, though, so it won’t be an issue on Goodreads anyway, but it was an issue for List Challenges – at the time, I found a photo of the author and put that in place on my list, and then replaced it in April with a photo of the cover of the published version!

Anyway, that’s about it for the time being, as I intend to get this published and then enjoy the rest of my glass of wine while watching our 2-0 win on Match of the Day! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The 33 – Jonathan Franklin
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen
  • On the Bright Side – Hendrik Groen
  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend
  • The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend
  • The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut Jr
  • The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester
  • Flowers For Algernon – Daniel Keyes
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Premier League Years 92/93 – Andrew Hyslop
  • Long Road from Jarrow – Stuart Maconie
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • The Flowers of Manchester – Manchester United (commemorative book)
  • Skintown – Ciaran McMenamin

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January Review – A Solid Start

January 2018 summary

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hogwarts House Socks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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A Russian Birthday Boy and a New Number 7…

Andrei Kanchelskis book Jan 2018

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

You’ll be pleased to learn that the Lurgy is on its way out! At long bloody last, eh?! The voice isn’t quite back to normal yet, and there are still occasional coughs, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it has been. So, I am at Computer Corner without coughing my head off, lol, and wishing our former winger, Andrei Kanchelskis, a very happy 49th birthday! This is why I have decided I am going to make a start on Russian Winters, his autobiography, and add it to the Ongoing Concerns, as I’m pretty much starting that back up again.

I just hope to keep it manageable this year. It kind of went to pot last year, didn’t it?! Books just weren’t being read, and it defeated the object of them being ongoing concerns if some of them weren’t exactly enjoying any ongoing progress! Anyway, Comrade Kanchelskis, birthday boy today, is being added to the current list. Pretty sure I still have his original autobiography, Kanchelskis, translated by George Scanlan, his interpreter at Manchester United, which was published in the early to mid 90s when Andrei was still at Old Trafford. In fact, not only am I certain I have this book, I am pretty sure I got it signed by Mr Kanchelskis, either at a book signing or at The Cliff. I think there was a book signing for it, so it was probably at one of the book shops in town.

I did do a book blog special on footballers’ autobiographies some¬† years ago, actually. I think it was when I’d just met Paul Scholes, who was signing copies of his book, My Story, at Selfridges in the Trafford Centre. Scholesy was quite used to getting booked on the pitch, lol, but on this occasion, his name was going in a lot of books without a yellow card being shown! But, when I did my blog, I issued a few red cards to some publishers for a few glaring errors which should not have got past the proof-readers! I think it was Heading For Victory, by Steve Bruce, which had a few mistakes in it and I felt the proof-reader was guilty of persistent fouling! Even Brucey himself, who went in where angels feared to tread during his playing days, would not have been as clumsy as some of the editing had been in his book!

This is turning into something of a Footballers’ Books Blog, isn’t it?! I’ve read plenty of them, so it’s a genre of book I am well-qualified to comment on, lmao! Last year I added I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovińá to the list. I could probably do a List Challenges list on Football Autobiographies I’ve read! Actually, that sounds like a really good idea! Throw in a few biographies too, where they’ve been written by others about players or managers, and I could have quite a list. I have TWO editions of Eric Cantona‘s autobiography! I have the English version, My Story, and the original French edition, Un R√™ve Modeste et Fou. Both signed by King Eric, I might add! Well, he IS my all-time favourite player!

Also, I have studied French to A Level, so don’t be too surprised at me having books in other languages. I have some books in German, and some in Spanish, too. I’ve studied both those languages to GCSE level. I have a copy of Charlie y la F√°brica de Chocolate, by Roald Dahl, and Die B√ľcherdiebin, by Markus Zusak, amongst my books in other languages, and I expect you can work out what the English versions of those books are!

Back to footballers for a moment, as the “Great United and Arsenal Player Swap of 2018” finally happened yesterday evening after work permits were renewed! What was originally just going to be a case of shelling out a lot of money for another club’s player turned into a swap deal as they were after one of ours whom, while I was very sad to see him go, I can understand his departure as the manager had messed him around somewhat and not had faith in him despite him being one of Jose’s own signings!¬† I can see why a manager might not always want some of the players he’s inherited from previous managers, but when you buy a player in the transfer window and then muck him around, that’s a bit odd, quite frankly! You signed him, you must have thought he was right for the club!

So, farewell, and good luck, Henrikh Mkhitaryan! I will miss you, and I thank you for your all too brief time at Old Trafford, and for helping us win the EFL Cup and Europa League double last season, particularly for scoring one of our two goals in the Europa League final as we beat Ajax 2-0 in Stockholm in May last year. I will miss singing about our midfield Armenian to the tune of “Englishman in New York” by Sting! Just don’t score against us, please, Mkhi!

On the other hand, Welcome to Old Trafford, Alexis Sanchez! ¬°Bienvenidos! The Chilean striker has joined United in a straight swap with Arsenal, and will wear the legendary number 7 shirt, as previously worn by the likes of George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo! Quite a bit to live up to, so I hope he manages to do that!

Ongoing Concerns 23rd January 2018

And back to books! I haven’t started Russian Winters yet, although I have read the foreword by Ryan Giggs, so I look forward to starting on the main book from Andrei himself. Progress has been made, however, on the other books on my Ongoing Concerns list… Not Dead Yet tops the pile, Phil Collins‘ autobiography is at the 76% read stage now, so just under a quarter of it left to read before I give it back to Sarah when we go to see Paul Young at the Preston Guild Hall next month. I might have to get my own copy of Not Dead Yet so I can lend it to people, as I’ve been recommending it of late, including to my dad when we went out for a Japanese meal at Sapporo Teppanyaki in town last week. Wouldn’t be right to lend the book I have now, as that’s Sarah’s and she’s lent it to me, but I am really loving it and want to share that enjoyment of a really good book!

The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells, is next on the list, been reading more of that earlier today, and that’s now up to 68% so we’re over two thirds of the way through that one with a good chance of getting that finished soon along with the Phil Collins book. I think, when I have finished The Time Machine, I’m going to replace it with another by the same author and give The War of the Worlds a go!

My book club book, The Red House Mystery, by A. A. Milne, is next up, and that’s 27% read now, so I’m over a quarter of the way into it, and it’s pleasant and readable enough! As I may have said before, I’m not really one for crime fiction, and I’ll be coming back to that matter shortly, but get me the right book in that genre and I might be persuaded! Book club is 7th February, so I’ve got about a fortnight to get it finished. It may have to become a priority along with Phil Collins.

Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd, is at 10% so I’ve made a start and got my head around the writing style which looks a bit “olde English” in parts. It’s meant to be that way, as some of it is set in 1711 or thereabouts. Other bits are set in 1985, I think it goes back and forth in time. It was mentioned by Duncan Jones when he launched the David Bowie Book Club, and it sounded interesting. I might not read all the books for the DBBC, and I might not get them read in time, but if some sound interesting, I will read them. There are a few unread ones on the list which I already own, such as The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz, so it would make sense to attempt those at least! And there are one or two I have already read, such as 1984, by George Orwell, so those are already ticked off the list! I read that one when I was 17, way back in 1990!

So that then brings us to Andrei Kanchelskis and his Russian Winters which I might make a start on in a short while. By the end of this evening, anyway.

Anyway, some recent acquisitions now, even if that means tonight’s list at the end of the blog is going to be pretty long, lol! Friday saw me at the Trafford Centre, ostensibly to sort out a problem on my phone, which was indeed my first reason for being there after work, and I got that sorted with an O2 Guru before I headed off to my natural habitats… book shops! WH Smiths and Waterstone’s were visited and books were acquired! The Raw Shark Texts, by Steven Hall was on sale for just ¬£3 at WH Smiths. A slight tear in the cover, but what the hell? Let’s go for it! The Impossible Treble, by Steve Bartram, Paul Davies and Ben Hibbs, was a necessity for a Stretford Ender like myself. That had to be purchased! We also have The Long and Short of It, by Jodi Taylor, The Note, by Zo√ę Folbigg, a tale of a woman falling in love with a book-reading bloke she sees on the train on her daily commute, and also Sirens, by Joseph Knox, which was actually written in the staff room of Waterstone’s Deansgate, where the author was working at the time, and is set in Manchester city centre! As I have said earlier, crime fiction isn’t really my thing, but with the Manc setting, it just might persuade me to give it a go.

I acquired some more books today, 4 for a quid at a charity shop in Swinton, but I think I’d better leave mentioning those until the next blog, as I’ve already listed a fair few books this evening, haven’t I?! I shall get this finished off and published while it is still Andrei’s birthday! Until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Kanchelskis – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • My Story – Paul Scholes
  • Heading For Victory – Steve Bruce
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovińá –¬†Zlatan Ibrahimovińá
  • My Story – Eric Cantona
  • Un R√™ve Modeste et Fou – Eric Cantona
  • Charlie y la F√°brica de Chocolate – Roald Dahl
  • Die B√ľcherdiebin – Markus Zusak
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • The Red House Mystery – A. A. Milne
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
  • 1984 – George Orwell
  • The Raw Shark Texts – Steven Hall
  • The Impossible Treble – Steve Bartram, Paul Davies & Ben Hibbs
  • The Long and Short of It – Jodi Taylor
  • The Note – Zo√ę Folbigg
  • Sirens – Joseph Knox

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Book Review of the Year…

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

There is less than a fortnight left of 2017, ladies and gentlemen, Sir Mo Farah was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year at the weekend, so I think it’s only fair if we do some sort of Book Review of the Year round about now! I might just get one or two more books read before the year is out, as I am currently enjoying The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, by Sarah Knight, and I have started on Mr Dickens and His Carol, by Samantha Silva, so I could get to 44 or even 45 books before we let in 2018! I finished The Good People a few nights ago, so that took me to 43 for the year. I’d quite like at least one more, to make it 44 so I’ve read my age in books, lol!

As most of you probably know by now, I’m hardly the world’s biggest fan of self-help books, but when a book comes along to encourage people to stop giving needless f**ks about things they really don’t care about, or don’t want to do, I am all for that! Indeed, I feel that I’ve already been reducing the number of f**ks I give since I hit my 40s! So I am happy to get on board with that! Also, it’s not ableist. Whether fully able-bodied, or with any kind of disability or health condition, anyone is capable of ceasing to give a f**k about completely pointless things! Things they can’t do, things they don’t enjoy, things they don’t want to do, things they don’t want to know about! You don’t need to be fully-able bodied in order to give zero f**ks about the Kardashians, for instance!

I started the year off by finishing off Pear Shaped, an e-book autobiography by Adam Blain, I think I’d got it for free on my Kindle. Anyway, he was writing about his brain tumour, hence the title, but he has since recovered, I am delighted to say. There have been a few books which I have started in a previous year, but finished off in 2017, most notably Jamrach’s Menagerie, by Carol Birch, Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson, Periodic Tales, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, and Pet Shop Boys, Literally, by Chris Heath, which I read this summer to coincide with my 30th anniversary of becoming a Pethead! Also, I saw them twice in concert this year – in February here in Manchester, and in June in Blackpool, home town of keyboard player, Chris Lowe.

Actually, today, 19th December, it is 30 years since “Always On My Mind” hit the top spot in the UK charts to become the Christmas Number One for 1987! Other notable 30th anniversaries in December are the release of my all-time favourite Christmas record, “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, which reached number 2 in the charts behind Neil and Chris, and it is also 30 years since one of the most sensible things my dad ever did… 30 years since he gave up smoking! He had the flu at the time, a really bad strain of it, and lighting his pipe gave him an epic coughing fit, so he gave up to get over the flu, and by the time he was well again, in early 1988, he realised he hadn’t smoked for about 2 or 3 weeks, and he just never went back to it.

February saw me going down to Wembley, as you may recall, to see Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in the League Cup Final, and when United booked their place in the final, I was trying to decide which books to take down with me on the coach for the journey to Wembley, and the return to Old Trafford. The book I read on the way down was The Pie at Night, by Stuart Maconie, but with the coach’s reading lights not working on the journey home, I had to resort to my Kindle, and thus Premier League Years 1992/93 by Andrew Hyslop was my reading matter on the way back, detailing Manchester United’s first Premier League title as we ended our 26 year wait to be champions.

I later got The Pie at Night signed, along with Long Road from Jarrow, when I met Stuart Maconie at Waterstone’s in July. Not read the Jarrow book yet, but I did read The People’s Songs earlier this year, so two books by Mr Maconie made my Goodreads Challenge list!

* Excuse me a mo… Chief Bookworm needs a drink – back shortly *

Right, back again! Sorry about that! Anyway, March was notable for my decision to read Tuesdays With Morrie once a week, each Tuesday!¬†April brought about Billy Ocean in concert, jury service and my birthday, making me an old gimmer of 44, lol! I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovińá was finished off that month, as was An Equal Music, by Vikram Seth. Adrian Mole, the diary-writing character created by the late great Sue Townsend, celebrated his¬† 50th birthday in April, and Penguin actually published a book of the poems Adrian wrote! The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 starts off in January 1981, so he was 14 on 2nd April that year. I was 8 three weeks later in real life! Thus, yes, Adrian is 6 years older than me. The first couple of Adrian Mole books are around 33 years old, or so, as they came out around 1984 if I’m not mistaken. I probably got my copies of the first two books around 1985, aged 12. Pretty sure that one of the kids at Salford Trampoline Club recommended them to me, possibly Tammy, as my sister had started training there by then.

Actually, earlier in 2017, around February, I revisited my 12 year old self in a blog thanks to an idea from Facebook. Someone had asked which 12 books would you give to your 12 year old self, so Joanne from 2017 visited Joanne from 1985 with a dozen books from her future!

From early July to early September, we had the Book Benches scattered around Manchester with a trail map so that you could go and find them. I was actually volunteering at Manchester Cathedral’s bookshop at the time, so was right at the heart of things, and saw book benches in the cathedral, in the Arndale Centre, and in the National Football Museum. Pretty sure I saw a book bench the other week, actually – at the Lowry outlet centre on Salford Quays, so maybe one or two have stuck around after the event, as we’re in December now and it’s nearly Christmas! The book bench event actually ended just after I started my job at Salford Council in early September. Watch out for the giant bees in town in the summer of 2018! Manchester will be truly buzzin’!

I read a few children’s books this year, as you might expect given that my niece, Charlotte, aka Junior Bookworm, likes her auntie to know what she’s reading, and wants me to enjoy some of her books! In 2017 I was able to add Esio Trot to the list of Roald Dahl books that I have read! Charlotte was reading The Twits not long ago, which was one of Ellie’s favourites as a kid! Sadly, we said rest in peace to Dick Bruna back in February when the Dutch author, famous for the Miffy books, passed away. As with the Roald Dahl books, Bruna’s tales of Miffy the rabbit were part of mine and my sister’s childhood, albeit before the Dahl… Miffy books were borrowed from Eccles Library when we were little and first learning to read.

On the other hand, we wished many happy returns to Stephen King, as the prolific author, famed particularly for his horror novels, hit his Big 70 in September, shortly after my dad hit his Big 70! As you may recall, my pressie for my dad was that big chunky biography of spy thriller author, John le Carré. I hit the hundred book blogs milestone earlier this year, back in March, I think, and I currently have 72 followers, so thank you to all of you who subscribe to this blog full of book mentions and other mad and random waffle, lol!

A few YA books made my Goodreads Challenge list, as I read One Italian Summer, by Keris Stainton, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews, and If I Stay, by Gayle Forman. Although I don’t have an out and out favourite genre, unlike many bookworms, I will say that I like a bit of historical fiction, and there were a few novels on the list which come into that category, including The Ashes of London, by Andrew Taylor, Dissolution, by C. J. Sansom, and The Good People, by Hannah Kent. That is my most recent finish, of course, but as I said earlier, I am hoping for one or two more before the year is over.

I had quite a non-fiction binge in the autumn, but I do like factual reads anyway! It was that which led to my second author event of the year and my choice for favourite book of the year… the wonderful This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay. Moving in parts, but utterly hilarious in others, you would be taking a huge risk by reading it in public, unless you don’t mind some odd looks while you laugh your arse off! The Angry Chef, by Anthony Warner, was a very good, quite witty, and pretty important book, one which as many people as possible should read in order that they stop falling for faddy diets and other con tricks on the internet!

Well, those are most of the highlights of my year in books. I hope to get at least a few more blogs in before the month, and the year, are over. I have actually blogged every month this year, which is a first. Prior to 2017, my blogging had been very patchy at times, long times went by without a blog. However, there have been blogs every month. I shall now bring this particular entry to a close, so until I blog again, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • Mr Dickens and His Carol – Samantha Silva
  • Pear Shaped – Adam Blain
  • Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch
  • Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Premier League Years 1992/93 – Andrew Hyslop
  • Long Road from Jarrow – Stuart Maconie
  • The People’s Songs – Stuart Maconie
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovińá –¬†Zlatan Ibrahimovińá
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend
  • Esio Trot – Roald Dahl
  • The Twits – Roald Dahl
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • If I Stay – Gayle Forman
  • The Ashes of London – Andrew Taylor
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner

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Mystic Mince Pies, Hot Milk, and Traffic Jams…

Hot Milk and Mr Dickens

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the books are so delightful! Yep, we’ve had some snow today at Bookworm Central, lol! Some actual snow, as opposed to the usual attempt to snow in the UK. We have a kind of weather which I would describe as “Trying To Snow” which is when there’s a very minor flurry but nowt else, lol! However, at several times during the course of the day so far, it has been snowing. There has been some rain in between times so that has washed it away, but we have had snow. Not enough to build a snowman, not round here, unless you make a mini snowman on a garden wall or something.

Been a busy old week, and not over yet considering it is scheduled to be the Manchester Derby tomorrow at Old Trafford – snow permitting, of course! Anyway, I was at the match on Tuesday as United played CSKA Moscow in our final group game. Prior to the game, Dad came round for tea as we were going in his car, as has happened frequently this season. After our chilli con carne, we had some mince pies and squirty cream, and when Dad squirted cream on his pies, it looked like a 2 on one pie, and a 1 on the other, so he said that would be the score that night…

Not best pleased at half-time when we were trailing to a blatantly offside “goal” which should never have stood. Thankfully, in the second half, we turned things around in the space of three minutes midway through the half, with Romelu Lukaku equalising before Marcus Rashford put us ahead… and that reminded me of the pies and squirty cream, lol! 2-1 it remained, so when I got back in the car with Mum & Dad, the talk was of the Mystic Mince Pies, lol! Never mind your “Paul the Octopus” predicting winning sides in the World Cup, we had Mystic Mince Pies predicting the scoreline in United’s Champions League match!

So, we have won our group and we are through to the knockout stages, which start in mid-February. European football has a winter break, although we will find out on Monday who we have got in the first knockout round. As we have won our group, we will be away in the first leg, and at home in the second. It’s better that way, because if you don’t get a particularly good result in the first leg, you know you’ve got home advantage which can really help to turn things around in the second leg! Having said that, when we did the Treble in 1999, our quarter final and semi final ties against Inter Milan and Juventus saw United have the home leg first, and away leg second, and we still ended up winning the trophy!

Right, that’s the footy done, on to the books, lol!

Didn’t get any more of my book read in time for book club the next night, but I did get 70% read, so was mostly able to participate in the discussions, and I will finish it off – after all, I have just under a third left to read of The Good People. After our discussion, for which there were five of us, with Stephanie rejoining the fold as well as the four of us from last month – myself, Michelle, Nick and Diane, we discussed the next book and whether we should read something Christmassy, or deliberately un-Christmassy, and I said perhaps we should make it something reasonably short as we might not get a lot of time to get some reading in over the festive season! So, with a couple of us already owning a copy, we went for something fairly short and set in the summer, Hot Milk, by Deborah Levy. Our next meeting is on 10th January to give us a bit more time to read after Christmas and New Year!

Prior to the start of the book club, I met up with three of my colleagues from my days at Manchester DBC – June Padley, Anne Emmott, and Martin Biddles! It was great to be able to have a chat with them again and catch up a bit, also to be able to let them know I am working again at the moment. It was Martin’s birthday, so I guess that’s why they had met up. I said I’d seen one colleague fairly recently, Janice, as she volunteers at one of the charity shops here in Monton, and I am still in touch with quite a few people from my decade at Albert Bridge House on Facebook, and one or two on Instagram.

Right, anyway, I already had Hot Milk, as I said above, but I did buy myself something rather festive on the book front while I was at Waterstone’s, that being Mr Dickens and His Carol, by Samantha Silva. Something suitably seasonal, especially if our stupid weather insists on giving us the white stuff this year!

Chocs and books 2017

Thursday night, after work, Mum and I went off to the Lowry Centre on Salford Quays, as we had a voucher for Pizza Express, so we went in the shops first before we dined, and I stocked up on chocolate from the Cadbury’s shop, as you can see, lol, and a couple of cheap books from The Works, picking up The Snow Globe, by Sheila Roberts, and Hygge and Kisses, by Clara Christensen. Maybe not quite Christmassy as such, but certainly a plot which suggests cosiness, and that’s what many of us want at this time of year!

Then we come to yesterday, and the reason I ended up having to get a bus into Eccles today after my hairdo – I had to get my bus and tram pass, which was what I intended to do after work yesterday, and I got on a bus in decent enough time in Swinton, and headed on into town… except that when the bus actually got into Manchester, it was just bloody crawling along Bridge Street and taking an eternity! I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it across town to the travel shop in Piccadilly Gardens before it closed at 6pm, so I was a bit pissed off to say the least! But, I was in town, so I thought I might as well do the other stuff, in other words get myself something to eat from the Christmas markets, and as I was on that side of town, and the shop was open for a while yet, I went in Waterstone’s.

Traffic jam compensation books December 2017

Yes, I know. But I was so damn annoyed at the traffic jam that I felt I needed some retail therapy, so off I went into my natural habitat, lol, and came out with three books – Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, by Sarah Knight, and Warcross, by Marie Lu. I have mentioned the “not giving a f**k” book before, I think. I already like to think that I give fewer “flying ones” than I used to, but I felt this book would be good anyway! It would be a vindication of my general reduction of f**k-giving, so to speak!

Most of the stuff on telly these days is hardly worth giving a f**k about, especially reality TV shows! Unless they’re about food. I like Masterchef, although I probably shouldn’t watch stuff like that. Cookery programmes make me hungry, lol! I remember watching Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery late at night on BBC2 when I was a teenager in the late 80s, and that used to make me ridiculously hungry! I absolutely LOVE Chinese food! Always have done since I was very little!

I have half a mind to read Warcross and Ready Player One back-to-back as I feel the premise of both books is pretty similar, and Furiously Happy is a book I have seen on a lot of lists on List Challenges, and people have said, in reviews, that it’s very funny.

I was going to add that, if you want “very funny”, you should definitely read This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay, but I’ve been saying that already for a few blogs now, lol! Been saying it since about September or October! Another book I would recommend if you want a good laugh is Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate, by Susan Calman. I came upon that one by chance – I just happened to notice it a year or so ago when it was out in hardback and was being promoted in the Arndale Centre branch of Waterstone’s…

One of those times when you start reading a book in a bookshop, and you just know you’re going to have to take it to the counter and buy it because it’s too good not to buy! I didn’t even know who the author was at the time, turns out she’s a Scottish comedienne, but the fact that it was at least a bit about depression interested me – I’ve had a few bouts of that over the years, so I have experience of how shite it is when you’re going through it, and the “Crab of Hate” part of the title amused me, so I picked a copy off the shelf and started reading… and started laughing! It is on my list of books which have made me laugh my arse off, so if you want a good giggle, give it a try!

(Shite is a technical term, by the way!)

I think that’s about it, although I did pick up a couple of cheap books at the Rotary Club shop in Eccles this afternoon as I was waiting for the travel shop to re-open after their lunch break, lol! I picked up Unholy Night, by Seth Grahame-Smith, and The Spy Who Came For Christmas, by David Morrell. Both sounded suitably seasonal. Seth Grahame-Smith is the same guy who did the Austen-reworking, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, lol! Anyway, until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
  • Mr Dickens and His Carol – Samantha Silva
  • The Snow Globe – Sheila Roberts
  • Hygge and Kisses – Clara Christensen
  • Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • Warcross – Marie Lu
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression With the Crab of Hate – Susan Calman
  • Unholy Night – Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The Spy Who Came For Christmas – David Morrell

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