Category Archives: Month in Review

July Review

Hendrik Groen finished July 2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Well, I forgot the tick on my wipeboard, but The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old has now been read, and I would love a sequel! Think of Adrian Mole, but imagine him as an elderly Dutch guy in an old folks’ home in Amsterdam with all his aches and pains, and various grumbles, plus a sense of adventure!

So, I have finished three entire books within the course of this past month, with Hendrik Groen’s completion following on from One Italian Summer and Dissolution which were both finished last week. During the course of 2017 so far, I have read, or at least finished off, 34 books, meaning I am 4 books over my Goodreads Challenge target of 30, which I met in May, and I feel July has been very productive on the book front!

I have read at least 50 pages of each of the six books I have read during the course of July, with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl needing more reading done on it. Only read 50 pages of that one, but with reading Dissolution, the first of the Shardlake series, that was 443 pages, so that was the most for any book I read this month. As I am listing these books here, they will not be listed at the end of the blog, although other books will be mentioned.

One Italian SummerKeris Stainton. 241 pages. (Read whole book)

DissolutionC. J. Sansom. 443 pages. (Read whole book)

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years OldHendrik Groen. 376 pages. (Read whole book)

Periodic TalesHugh Aldersey-Williams. 88 pages read in July.

Me and Earl and the Dying GirlJesse Andrews. 50 pages read in July.

Neither Here Nor ThereBill Bryson. 92 pages read in July.

Total number of pages read in July: 1,290

Nemanja Matic joins MUFC 31st July 2017

My current distraction from reading, but July has been a good month for books!

Wow! That’s a lot of pages! After June, which wasn’t all that productive, I feel July has been a great month on the book front! Probably because I felt I had to do something while waiting for United to sign players in the transfer window, lol! Therefore I got a lot of reading done between breaking news on Sky Sports News! We have signed Romelu Lukaku, of course, and now Nemanja Matic, but the fannying about from our chief exec, Ed Woodward (aka The Gnome), was getting a bit much at times, and doing my head in, so I had to escape into a few good books while I waited for him to get his arse in gear and get signings done and dusted!

(We did also sign Victor Lindelof, but that was in June, so I’m dealing more with July’s events in this blog!)

I think this is something like my 166th book blog, but I know some things for sure. I now have 61 followers, 60 on WordPress, plus 1 via email, so thanks very much to all of you who brave my waffle on a regular basis in the hope that I mention something to do with books! The vast majority of my blogs on here are about books, but there have been one or two occasions when only one or two books have been mentioned because something has happened for me to bring up a particular news event. I am pretty sure that’s not a common thing, though. I remember having a rant at the chavs responsible for the arson and looting in 2011, and I also posted my Manchester La La La blog entry in May this year after the bomb at the Arena. I still did get a couple of book references in each of those blogs, though, but I hope you understand these things had to be said and that you knew I would get back to matters of a literary nature!

(The blog covering the arson and looting rant was in September 2011, I think, and was called If They Steal Any Books, They Might Even Learn Something! It’s either August or September’s archive from 2011, anyway, should you wish to look up that blog and have a read of it.)

Cathedral book bench 4

This month also saw the Book Benches appear around town, and they are on display up to 10th September. For those wishing to see them, they are indoors at their various locations, such as Central Library, the Arndale Centre, Manchester Cathedral and the National Football Museum. There are also many others to find! Not just in the city centre, but also dotted around various suburbs of Manchester!

Charlotte bookmark 2017

My niece, the Junior Bookworm, celebrated her 7th birthday this month, so I stitched her a cross-stitched bookmark. It is currently keeping her place in one of her books.

So, let’s get on to the Ongoing Concerns as July comes to an end. Early this month, as you may recall, I decided it was time for the OC Overhaul, and booted a few books off the list. It was actually a matter of being fair to those books as they hadn’t been read for ages, and were being overlooked and overtaken. I had about 9 or 10 books on the list, but only 3 or 4 of those were being picked up and read, so I had a cull and decided I would have six books, two fiction, two non-fiction and two young adult.

The revised list of six books was Dissolution, One Italian Summer, Hendrik Groen, Periodic Tales, Me and Earl, and Neither Here Nor There. As you know now, the first three of those books have been read, so that leaves  us with three to be continued as we head into August…

Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews

Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson

OC list end of July 2017

The new OC List as we head into August…

Two of those are non-fiction, with Me and Earl being Young Adult, so we need two general fiction books and one young adult one to get the OC list back to the half dozen. One of the general fiction books I am adding is The Beach Hut, by Veronica Henry. As that one is already 34% read, it can go straight on the OC List. It is over 10% read. The other two books are Dark Fire, by C J Sansom, the second Shardlake novel, of which I will need to read 58 pages to get to 10%, and A Quiet Kind of Thunder, by Sara Barnard, 31 pages of which should see me reach 10% and I will thus be able to add it to my OC List. With those two, of course, it all depends on that first ten percent, and whether it grabs me enough to continue!

If, for any reason, I am not enjoying them, I will have to reconsider matters, but I feel confident that I will enjoy these books.

Lake District purchases July 2017

Before I finish, a couple of mentions for some books acquired recently. As I went to the Lake District last week, I picked up The Shepherd’s Life, by James Rebanks, which had been a bit of a word-of-mouth surprise best-seller a year or so ago if I recall rightly. It’s from a shepherd in the Lake District, so it’s local to that area. Yes, there were also magnets purchased, lol, and some necessary Kendal Mint Cake! Had to be done! Today, I was just out and about locally to me, though, and picked up a 20p bargain from one of the charity shops on Salford Precinct, the book in question being The Food of Love Cookery School, by Nicky Pellegrino. It’s set in Sicily, it’s about food, and it was a mere 20p, so I decided to risk it for a biscuit!

Well, that’s about it for this month on the book front, I think that’s all my news for July, so as we head into August, I shall finish this off and get it published, so until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry (other than the original 6 OCs)

  • The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom (Shardlake #2)
  • A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
  • The Shepherd’s Life – James Rebanks
  • The Food of Love Cookery School – Nicky Pellegrino

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Month in Review, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

June Review

Penguin orange book spines

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Another month over, and time for the monthly review, plus a look at the first half of 2017. Consider this the half-time break, go and get your pie and a cuppa, while the manager gives his team-talk, lol! (And while I secretly wish to boot my beloved club’s chief exec up the arse with one of my Timberlands if the bloody gnome-alike doesn’t start making more moves in the transfer market pretty bloody sharpish! Come on, Woodward! Even bloody Arsenal have signed someone today, and we know they’re not always the most active in the transfer market, lol, so how embarrassing does that look that you’ve yet to tick off any other players from Jose’s shopping list other than Lindelof?!)

Anyway, we’re half-way through the year, and we’re at 31/30 on the Goodreads Challenge. Meaning that I met my target in May, but have since added one more book to the list, that being Pet Shop Boys, Literally, by Chris Heath, which I finished just before I went to see Neil and Chris in concert at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool last week!

It’s been a busy old month, with a concert, two birthdays, a christening, and the course that I’m currently on, which has increased my weekly amount of getting out and about! I probably should have fitted in more reading, but I didn’t, and I still need to start The Power, our book club read by Naomi Alderman, and the next book club is on 12th July, so I’d better get a shift on, I suppose…

I did buy two books at the church summer fair, those being Heartstone, by C. J. Sansom, and The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood, but I had given Sandra a few bags of books for her stall, so I still reduced my physical book count significantly.

And then new ones come in… Well, second hand ones from charity shops, but they’re still new to me… Revelation, by C. J. Sansom, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, and Jacky Daydream, by Jacqueline Wilson

That last one is actually her autobiography, her memoirs of her childhood, but written in the same style as her novels! I really should read more of hers, but I did read The Story of Tracy Beaker years ago!

I was also busy with my band, and the past two Saturdays have seen us giving concerts instead of having our usual rehearsals, although it’s back to normal tomorrow, and I shall be blowing my horn at Flixton Junior School as usual. So, last Saturday, I was playing my horn at an Armed Forces Day event in Northenden, adding to my busy weekend.

And it was Glastonbury last weekend, so Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I was alternating between BBC2 and BBC4 with use of the red button as well! Then looking up how to play “Creep” by Radiohead on my ukulele. Only 4 chords, which repeat throughout the song, although fretting one of those chords is slightly tricky.

I also had a book reshuffle during the course of this month, going into the Book Chest in the garage and swapping some reading matter over between the chest and the stuff here in my room.

Books were discussed when Sarah and I met up for the Pet Shop Boys gig last week, and I got to see James’ collection of David Walliams books, as well as being lent Phil Collins‘ autobiography, Not Dead Yet. He was risking it for biscuit calling his book that when you consider that the Grim Reaper was on overtime last year, when the book was published, and went a bit crazy with the number of famous people he was taking from us!

Plus, my volunteering, as part of my Volition course, is at the cathedral bookshop in town.

So, there has been quite a bit of book-related stuff going on in June, just not all that much actual READING! Oops!

Hopefully, July will be better and I will actually get some reading done! It can’t be much less productive on the reading front than June has been! OK, I met my Goodreads target for the whole year, and I achieved that in May, but I had hoped to exceed 30 books by a bit more than just one book by now.

I want to get some stuff off my OC List which has been on there for rather too long and if books could talk, they’d probably be moaning that I’d forgotten all about them! The list seems to have gone “stale” in that hardly anything on it has been read lately! OK, the PSB book was finished off, but the only other two I’ve bothered with have been Periodic Tales, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl! A whole shedload of books need to be read, even if only a little bit. They need to be revived.

I think I feel that I don’t know what to read for the best at the moment. So many damn books need reading for one reason or another and the whole OC List thing, which I started in February, and which had been working well, seems to be going a bit Pete Tong!

I hope matters improve in July, and that things settle down after a busy month and I can get some significant reading done! To that end, I think it’s time I finished this off and got it published, so until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Oh, and in case I have any followers in Canada, and I don’t get round to blogging tomorrow, I send my advanced best wishes for a Happy Canada Day!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Heartstone – C. J. Sansom
  • The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
  • Revelation – C. J. Sansom
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
  • Jacky Daydream – Jacqueline Wilson
  • The Story of Tracy Beaker – Jacqueline Wilson
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Anderson

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Childrens' Books, Football, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Manc Stuff!, Month in Review, Music, Ongoing Concerns

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

April Review

Cross stitched book girl in frame

Another good month on the book front…

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to the monthly review for April 2017! A month in which I have managed to finish off 8 books and reach the 25/30 stage on my Goodreads Challenge for this year. A matter of an hour or so ago, I finished Diary of an Oxygen Thief, by Anonymous, which it only took me a day to read. Wasn’t a particularly long book, only 151 pages. There was no point putting it on the OC List, as I felt it would be a quick read, which it proved to be. Likeable in an odd sort of way, rather in the way I enjoyed Fight Club last year!

While I accept that two of the eight books I’ve polished off this month were the kids’ books I read in Waterstone’s the other day, six of my finished reads during the course of April have been grown-up reading matter, lol! I have got quite a few long-term ongoing concerns off the list! Some of that is thanks to being on jury service, although I finished I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović before Easter and passed it on to my sister.

I also finished the cross-stitch of the girl with the book before Easter, as seen in the photo at the start of this blog!

Skintown, by Ciaran McMenamin, was published on 6th April, so I was finally able to find a photo of the actual cover for the purposes of List Challenges! This was a book which I had got as a freebie in February at a book club meeting, because it was an uncorrected proof copy.

That was also the day I was at Cheshire Oaks, and acquired a few books at The Works while I was there. While I don’t need to list all of them here, a couple of them were added to the OC List this month, those being The People’s Songs, by Stuart Maconie, which I have since finished, and City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare, the first of the Mortal Instruments box set of 6 books, which I am still reading at present.

12th April was my book club night, and our chosen book for our next meeting, to be held on 18th May, is The Tobacconist, by Robert Seethaler, so that is currently one of my ongoing concerns.

Four of the five missing books were found on 14th April in part of my wardrobe unit, Good Friday proving a very good day for locating stray paperbacks, lol! Of those books which I had listed as missing in previous blogs, the only book still AWOL is The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. I still haven’t a Scooby where that one buggered off to, as it used to be in Computer Corner! It went walkabouts some time ago, though.

An Equal Music, by Vikram Seth, was the first of the books I finished while on jury service. Also coming off the list thanks to my time at Manchester Crown Court were The People’s Songs, The Saffron Trail, and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.  The Stuart Maconie book hadn’t been on the OC list for long, but the other three had, so some of the long term OCs are finally off that list!

The OC List, as things stand at the end of April, has eight books on it, and this is the present state of affairs…

Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath – 62%

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews – 34%

The Tobacconist  – Robert Seethaler – 32%

Nul Points – Tim Moore – 30%

Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella – 29%

City of Bones – Cassandra Clare – 21%

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You – Ally Carter – 15%

Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson – 13%

Nul Points is, as you can imagine, a book about the acts which have failed to register a single vote from any country at the Eurovision Song Contest. I added this book in April, along with the Ally Carter book, the first in the Gallagher Girls series of YA novels about girls at a school for spies, and Bill Bryson‘s tour of Europe. I also added the book about the Pet Shop Boys, which I had mentioned earlier this year. That was already half-read, so it’s just a matter of resuming it, which I have now done. As I have listed the current OCs above, they will not be listed again at the end, just the other books I’ve mentioned in this blog which are not currently ongoing concerns will be listed in my usual bullet points.

I am now a 44 year old bookworm, by the way, as I celebrated my birthday last Sunday, 23rd April. Have to admit that I had a day off from the reading. It was a day for eating, and also for celebrating a 2-0 away win at Burnley for my lads. I just wish more of the home performances were better, I feel short-changed! We’ve had far too many draws this season, especially at Old Trafford, and I am not impressed! Too many wasted opportunities. Anyway, less about the footy and back to the books…

On Saturday, I read Tidy, and The Day the Crayons Came Home, which accounts for the two children’s books added to the Goodreads Challenge this month, and on Sunday I polished off all 151 pages of Diary of an Oxygen Thief, as I mentioned at the start.

So, as we head into the merry month of May, there are more books to be read, more to be added to the OCs, and hopefully more to come off that list, too! I will probably add at least a book or two to the OC list to get it back up to ten. I just need to decide which books to choose! Got plenty of possibilities! Maybe The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli, just in case she actually lets us know how mermaids pee, lol! Maybe I might even find The God of Lost Books, er sorry, The God of Small Things?! Stranger things have happened, like Leicester City winning the league last season, but that book must be around somewhere! I’m pretty sure I didn’t give it away!

Oh well, I think that’s about all my book related waffle for now, so I’ll get this published so you can read my review of April’s book-related activity! Until my next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry (other than the current OCs)…

  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović – Zlatan Ibrahimović
  • Skintown – Ciaran McMenamin
  • The People’s Songs – Stuart Maconie
  • The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  • Tidy – Emily Gravett
  • The Day the Crayons Came Home – Drew Daywalt
  • The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli

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Filed under Books, Cross-Stitch, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Free Books, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, List Challenges, Month in Review, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, The TBR Pile, Travel, 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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January Review

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

Good afternoon, Bookworms!

Bit of a look back on this last month, as my Goodreads Challenge for 2017 got off to a pretty good start. I have read 5 books already this year, finishing two of them off yesterday evening! I started the month, and the year, by finishing off an e-book on my Kindle, the very funny Pear Shaped, by Adam Blain, and was delighted to learn that he had actually overcome his brain cancer and is at least in remission, or has possibly had the all-clear, but I think you have to have gone 5 years without cancer coming back before you get that.

The theme of finishing off stuff I’d already started continued when I finished off the YA novel In Bloom, by Matthew Crow. Fiction this time, but once again dealing with cancer, although – spoiler alert – one of the main characters is sadly unable to fight it off.

Then came a couple of fresh books, the entirety of which I read in 2017. Rob Jovanovic‘s biography of George Michael was the first to be finished as it was slimmer than The Ashes of London, by Andrew Taylor! I’d been looking for a book about George Michael since he passed away on Christmas Day, and managed to find one, so I bought it and read it. The Andrew Taylor novel was my book club book for the month, which we decided upon at our meeting on 5th January. A typically chunky piece of historical fiction set at the time of the Great Fire of London in 1666, it was a pretty enjoyable read, and it’s not the first time we’ve had an Andrew Taylor novel for our book club choice. A few years ago now, we read The Anatomy of Ghosts, which I also enjoyed. I must look out for his other novels, as he’s clearly an author whose works I’ve liked so far.

I finished off the Taylor novel yesterday, in good time for my book club meeting tomorrow, and also finished off Why We Love Music, by John Powell, so I’ve got five books on my Goodreads Challenge. We’re off to a good start, but I’m not counting any chickens, because you never know if a book is going to affect you as much as A Little Life did last summer!

Obviously, the Taylor book’s gonna have to go in my bag for tomorrow so I can take it to book club with me before we choose our next book, but I’ve put a few other slim books in my purple Kipling bag in the hope they’re going to serve as Handbag Books and I’m going to get through them when I’m out and about. I already have I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic in my handbag, but our Swedish centre-forward has been joined by Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Hideous Kinky, by Esther Freud. I picked that one up the other day in a charity shop for 50p. It’s set in Morocco, so another book to bring back memories of Marrakech, along with The Saffron Trail, which is one of my ongoing concerns at present.

Oh, and while I was out shopping earlier, Conspiracy, by S. J. Parris, gave me the “Call of the Book” – clearly didn’t want to remain on the shelf at Asda in Swinton, so decided it was going to become part of my shopping, lol! I actually have one of her other novels, Treachery, which I picked up for free last year – it was a World Book Night book, and the Chapter One bookshop and cafe in town had a few of that year’s WBN books so readers could claim one for free. The fella let me have an extra one as WBN is on 23rd April – my birthday, so Last Bus To Coffeeville, by J. Paul Henderson, also came home with me that day!

Anyway, this blog is a review of January, really, so that’s about it for now, it brings things up to date on the book front. Back to the usual blogs with their regular waffle next time, lol! Until the next blog, though, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pear Shaped – Adam Blain
  • In Bloom  – Matthew Crow
  • George Michael: The Biography – Rob Jovanovic
  • The Ashes of London – Andrew Taylor
  • The Anatomy of Ghosts – Andrew Taylor
  • Why We Love Music – John Powell
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud
  • The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley
  • Conspiracy – S. J. Parris
  • Treachery – S. J. Parris
  • Last Bus To Coffeeville – J. Paul Henderson 

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