Category Archives: Music

Not Feeling Fictional

Books that make you happy

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

This one might be quite short. Chief Bookworm has a cold and is still feeling a bit rough. It was a “badger’s arse” situation earlier, but it’s still not good. I might curl up with a good book, although it will definitely be something factual, and I’ll probably continue with On Writing, which I’m really enjoying.

I doubt it’ll be any work of fiction. I’m having one of those times where I’m just not feeling it on the fiction front. I can briefly feel fictional, but it seems very fleeting and I am just not wanting stories right now for whatever reason. I have got a little way into Ready Player One, and have enjoyed what I’ve read thus far, thanks to the 80s references, but even that has failed to turn my head the past few days when I’ve thought “Which of my partially-read books should I get on with?” – it’s been back to Stephen King and his writing advice!

I have just about started my book club read, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, and that, too, with its music references, should appeal to me, indeed it caused me to listen to Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto earlier this evening, which was a pleasant experience – good piece of music for you to look up on YouTube, but it’s still not pulling at me like On Writing is. Maybe I should just get the Stephen King book read? Then read something else? But when I finish the King, will I just want another non-fiction book?

Music to read books to… Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto.

I understand why I had a bit of a non-fiction binge last year… I’d just read A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, last summer, and that book takes a lot out of you! I really enjoyed it, but it’s a chunky monkey, 720 pages long, and very emotional in its content, so after I had finished that, I didn’t feel like reading any fiction for the remainder of 2016! Non-fiction saw me through the rest of the year, including a couple of sports autobiographies, The Rules of the Game, by Pierluigi Collina, and Faster Than Lightning, by Usain Bolt.

However, I fail to understand why I’ve gone off fiction at the moment. I can’t recall reading anything particularly epic this year. Even the historical fiction I’ve read in 2017 has been under 500 pages long, as I recall, having read The Ashes of London, by Andrew Taylor, and Dissolution, by C. J. Sansom, so it’s not been massive even if it was substantial.

Hope you like the music, by the way! I’m not just an 80s nut, although that is my absolute favourite decade for music! I love a huge chunk of classical stuff. I say classical in this sense to differentiate between that and pop or rock or any other genre, although I know perfectly well that within “classical” music, only some of it is actually Classical… There’s several periods in music, including Baroque and Romantic, and then there’s opera and ballet, so no-nitpicking right now! I can be as pedantic as hell myself, but I’m not in the mood right now, I just wish this stupid cold would piss off and leave me alone!

Perhaps I should read books about books? Essentially, that is what I’m doing with the Stephen King book anyway, lol, so more non-fiction about the joys of reading might be the way to go until I actually fancy reading some fiction again? Perhaps consulting Book Lust, by Nancy Pearl, will help suggest some good reading matter? Maybe The Novel Cure has a cure for not feeling fictional? I doubt it, though.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I like both fiction and non-fiction, it certainly helps matters when you don’t feel like reading one type of book that you can always read the other unless you’re having a complete book slump, and not wanting to read anything at all. (In such instances of Complete Book Slump, perhaps consider seeking medical advice, as it might be due to depression, especially if you normally love to read.) However, it is a concern when your current book club book is a work of fiction but you only want factual stuff!

Well, as I said earlier, I’m sorry this is on the short side tonight, but I need to snuggle up with a hot drink, cold & flu capsules and a good book, so that’s about it for now! Hopefully I will be feeling up to a longer and more waffly blog the next time I publish something on here! Until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • The Rules of the Game – Pierluigi Collina
  • Faster Than Lightning – Usain Bolt
  • The Ashes of London – Andrew Taylor
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Book Lust – Nancy Pearl
  • The Novel Cure – Ella Berthoud
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Your Book Club Needs YOU!

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Book and a G&T – and I needed that after book club!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

My nephew, Reuben, is one year old today (8th October)! Hence we’ve been busy with birthday celebrations this weekend, but it’s now time for me to come over to Computer Corner and tap away at my laptop for a bit to bring you yet another dose of waffly blog which might just mention a book or two, lol! Actually, it WILL mention books, and some rather worrying developments. Basically, the Waterstone’s Deansgate book club is in a critical condition!

When I say that “we” met up on Thursday evening, I mean just me and Anne again! It is bloody ridiculous! I ended up going to speak to Alice, the current store manager, to ask for more publicity for the book club! We need it! You can’t have a book club with only 2 members, you need around half a dozen or so to make it a good club. That way you get some decent debate and discussion, a better mix of opinions, and more ideas for recommendations when it comes to deciding the next book!

So, like the Lord Kitchener posters in World War I, I am putting out this appeal if you’re a bookworm in the Greater Manchester area…

YOUR BOOK CLUB NEEDS YOU!

If you are able to make it to Waterstone’s Deansgate on Thursday 9th November 2017 at 6pm, get yourself a copy of Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien, published by Granta, RRP £8.99 (although it’s a former shortlisted book for the Booker Prize, so you may find a much cheaper copy in a charity shop if money’s too tight to mention like Simply Red once sang), get reading as much as you can of it, and get your bookworm backside to the coffee shop on the top floor of Waterstone’s on 9th November and join in the fun! Please! Pretty please with a cherry on top! WE NEED BOOKWORMS URGENTLY!!!

I’m not saying the book club is dead, it’s not yet an ex-book club, but let’s just say it’s in intensive care and desperate for a fresh injection of book lovers to bring it back to good health and keep it going into 2018. I have emailed those who have been in the past, let them know the club is still going, what we are reading next and for when, so I hope some of them will be persuaded to return, but I am also trying to get some new bookworms, including some of my council colleagues! We have an in-house social media thing called “Yammer” so I have mentioned the book club on there to try and get some new members.

Alice did say she’d try to get some publicity on Facebook and Instagram, but I might also try to raise awareness. Certainly with a bookstagram post on Instagram… get some new bookworms that way…

Anyway, I had finished Blitzed in time for book club, and the other day, I finished This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay and I was sad to finish it because I bloody loved it! I won’t spoil it for you, but I will advise that there are some parts you really shouldn’t read in public unless you want some funny looks when you’re laughing your arse off! Adam is coming to Waterstone’s Deansgate on 27th October to talk about his book, so I got myself a ticket for that event, and I shall bring my copy with me for him to sign. This also gives you lucky blog followers another book event to read about later this month, lol! Don’t say I never give you ‘owt!

Current reads October 2017

Well, we’ve dealt with the book club book, and you know about my e-book – that one’s for match days and our next home games are not until the end of this month, so there won’t be further progress on Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows until the Spurs match, and then the Champions League home game vs Benfica on Halloween.

On the grounds that I am exactly halfway through it, the Bill Bryson tour of Europe that is Neither Here Nor There makes my photo arrangement. While I’d scrapped the Ongoing Concerns list, essentially, it seemed unfair to Bryson to forget about that one given the significant progress made with it. Also, On Writing by Stephen King will be continued. Manchester England makes the list on the grounds that I am 17% of the way through it and I DID say I was going to resume it this year due to what happened here in May at the Arena. I will be using my “And the bees still buzz” bookmark in that one, as I said in previous blogs this summer.

So, that leaves Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which I have had for some time now and I must have bought in the first place due to the promising blurb on the back of it which mentioned that there are a lot of 80s references in it, so I thought I should give it a go. The author himself is only a year older than I am, a 1972 baby as opposed to 1973, and thus the creator of the OASIS virtual reality world which is the basis of this novel is also a 1972 baby. It definitely feels like a book for my era based on the start I have made on it. I’m more a pop music nerd than computer game geek, but I do remember some video games and stuff like that from when I was a kid – when Atari systems first came out, with games like Asteroids and Space Invaders!

By the way, when it comes to the end of this year, and I’m publishing the List Challenges list of all the books I have mentioned on these blogs during the course of 2017, it will be a pretty long list, lol! Do Not Say We Have Nothing was the 500th different book I have mentioned! If you’re like me, you prefer the longer lists on List Challenges and feel a bit short-changed if a list only has a few books on it! There will be at least 13 pages for Joanne’s Bookshelf Blogs – Books Mentioned 2017, so something to look forward to in a few months’ time!

Jane Austen tenner 2017

Just before I call it a night, I thought you might want to see one of the new £10 notes which came into circulation here last month. I know many of my followers are not on the same side of the Atlantic as myself, so you probably won’t be in possession of our new tenners with Jane Austen on them, thus I thought you might want to see one! The quote on the banknote reads “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” – I couldn’t have put it better myself, Jane!

With that in mind, I’ll get this published, and you can enjoy this helping of literary waffle! Until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
  • Blitzed – Norman Ohler
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Singh Jaswal
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • Manchester England – Dave Haslam
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

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Bad Medicine

this is going to hurt book

Warning: Reading this book may cause your sides to split.

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Open wide and say aah, lol! Bit of a medical theme tonight, really, on the book front. Hence the Bon Jovi song as blog title, although I could just as easily have opted for Doctor Doctor, a hit for the Thompson Twins back in the 80s. But, Bad Medicine it is! So, I’m prescribing this mad, waffly blog for you!

I doubt there’ll be any new books mentioned I’ve not already mentioned this year, though.

Not only am I still reading about the Nazi druggies in Blitzed, just over half way read now, book club a week away, but I am loving the book in the above photo This is Going to Hurt. Adam Kay is a former doctor, and these are incidents from his time in the medical profession before he became a comedian, and if you read it, you can see why he became a comedian! You may end up as a patient whose rectum has become detached from the rest of your body. In less than medical terms, you might laugh your arse off!

A look through my List Challenges list of all the books I’ve mentioned thus far this year throws up quite a few dealing with matters of life, death, health, illness and disability, some fiction, some non fiction, so instead of the one usual list at the end, there will be two for this one. One factual, one fictional, with lists of books and their medically-related themes. Some might just be vaguely on the subject, others might focus very much on the matters of life and death and all which comes in between. One or two books will be mentioned in the coming paragraphs, then there will be the two lists at the end of this blog.

APOLOGIES IN ADVANCE, BUT THERE’S PROBABLY GOING TO BE A FAIR FEW SPOILERS COMING UP HERE FOR SEVERAL BOOKS! SCROLL DOWN QUICKLY IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW!

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig. Author of The Radleys and The Humans, amongst other books, but this is his own personal tale of battling against severe mental health issues and the suicidal thoughts he was having at one point.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak. Set in Nazi Germany just before and during World War II, so Death, the narrator, is exceptionally busy! One of my favourite books, I gave out copies for World Book Night in 2012.

Blitzed – Norman Ohler. My current book club book. Drug addiction on a grand scale, especially drug addiction dressed up as being respectable and in the national interest during the war effort!

The Novel Cure – Ella Berthoud. This book deals with Bibliotherapy, the concept of prescribing certain novels to help patients with a range of illnesses and other issues. This is the book which said Shantaram was a cure for constipation! I don’t know if it’s true or not, lol, as I’ve yet to attempt that epic novel, although I do own a copy and it’s hanging out right here by Computer Corner!

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi. My favourite non-fiction book from last year! Paul was a surgeon who, himself, got cancer. He was helping other patients with cancer while having to deal with the fact he also had the disease.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara. My epic novel from last year, the one which caused a major Book Hangover, lol! 720 pages long, but well worth it. It’s a big pull emotionally, though, and issues of illness, disability, abuse and death run through it, hence it has to be mentioned on the Bad Medicine book blog!

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard. Young adult novel, in which one of the main protagonists suffers from selective mutism, and the other main protagonist is deaf. British Sign Language plays a big part in this novel.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews. More YA fiction, this time with a couple of nerdy amateur film makers and a classmate with cancer…

The Fault In Our Stars – John Green. I know, this one’s pretty obvious to those who are well-up on their YA. Two teens meet and fall in love at a cancer support group, get to go over to Amsterdam due to a charity which grants terminally-ill youngsters a wish.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen. At the other end of the age scale, life in an old people’s care home in Amsterdam. Elderly care, dementia and death are the issues raised here. Fiction, I think, although probably based on a real Dutch OAP in an old folk’s home…

The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner. A recent read, obviously, but with all his advice on food and on diets, I think it should be included in our medically-themed blog!

One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton. YA novel, in which the main characters are sisters suffering bereavement after their dad had died suddenly, so this novel looks at themes of grief and coping with loss, especially when faced with a lot of reminders of the person you’ve lost.

Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom. Mitch returns to one of his former favourite teachers, finds him in seriously ill-health but still able to impart valuable lessons. Again, terminal illness, deterioration and death are prominent.

If I Stay – Gayle Forman. YA novel in which a promising cellist suffers multiple serious injuries and multiple loss. I really should stop giving out spoilers, though. As there’s a sequel, though, you already know she lives, albeit a very different kind of life from the one she’d had before the family car was ploughed into.

Pear Shaped – Adam Blain. Not sure if this is available in hard copy, but I read it a while ago on my Kindle and finished it earlier this year. The true tale of Adam’s brain cancer.

The Ten (Food) Commandments – Jay Rayner. One of them is about not mistaking food for pharmaceuticals, so it touches on some similar ground to Anthony Warner’s book. Indeed, there’s praise from Jay Rayner on the cover of Warner’s book.

Mind Your Head – Juno Dawson. Non-fiction young adult guide to mental health issues and where to get support.

I think that’s enough to be getting on with. They’ll be listed soon enough, along with a few others, plus the odd one or two non-medical mentions right at the end. Anyway, talking of medical, and of mental health, I really do think the men in white coats should hurry along to the White House! As if we didn’t already know that the Mango Mussolini was several sandwiches short of a full picnic basket, he really has gone and done it this time with perhaps the barmiest and most pointless decision ever…

You remember that travel ban of his? Where people from certain countries couldn’t go to the US of A? Well, look which country the dozy Dotard has added now…

North Korea.

Yep. North Koreans cannot visit the United States of America.

Hello! Earth calling Donald! Got some news for you, sunshine, and it sure as hell ain’t fake! Get this little fact into your stupid orange head, dipshit…

NORTH KOREANS AREN’T EVEN ALLOWED OUT OF NORTH KOREA!!!

I think this therefore constitutes The Most Pointless Ban Ever! It has to! In the long history of things being banned in various countries at various times for various dubious reasons, this has got to be the most ridiculous ban ever! Fancy banning people from something they already couldn’t do anyway?! I was trying to think of a more pointless ban, but I don’t think I am able to! The nearest I could get would be to ban someone from doing something they wouldn’t want to do anyway, for instance banning die-hard Stretford Enders, like myself, from ever swapping clubs and supporting Liverpool! That would be a pointless ban ’cause die-hard United fans wouldn’t dream of supporting that lot!

But if citizens can’t even leave their own country, no other country needs to worry about admitting them, therefore Donald’s ban is even more pointless than a pointless answer on the TV quiz show Pointless!

I would have said that Dodgy Donald had lost the plot, but that would imply that the Tango-tinted Twat had a plot to lose in the bloody first place! For the good of the whole planet, PLEASE get Donald under psychiatric care PDQ!!!

Well, that’s about enough about President Fart’s mental health, so I think we should get this finished off and those lists made! Until next time, which will probably be the September Review, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Some non-fiction books on a medical/health theme…

  • Blitzed – Norman Ohler (drug addiction)
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay (life as a doctor)
  • Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig (mental health)
  • The Novel Cure – Ella Berthoud (bibliotherapy)
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi (surgery, cancer)
  • The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner (diets, food fads, health scares)
  • Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom (terminal illness, death)
  • Pear Shaped – Adam Blain (brain cancer)
  • The Ten (Food) Commandments – Jay Rayner (food is not medicine)
  • Mind Your Head – Juno Dawson (mental health, esp for teens)
  • This Is Your Brain On Music – Daniel Levitin (music and health, psychology)
  • Fragile Lives – Stephen Westaby (heart surgery)

Some fiction books with medical/health themes in them…

  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (death)
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara (disability, mental health, drugs, abuse, death)
  • A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard (mutism, deafness)
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews (cancer)
  • The Fault In Our Stars – John Green (cancer, cancer support)
  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen (old age, mobility, dementia, death)
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton (bereavement, grief)
  • If I Stay – Gayle Forman (serious injury, loss, disability)
  • Me Before You – Jojo Moyes (severe disability, mental health)
  • The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje (injury, deformity, disability)
  • Wonder – R. J. Palacio (facial disfigurement)
  • All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (blindness)
  • Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho (mental health)

And a few which were mentioned even though they’re not on a medical theme…

  • The Radleys – Matt Haig
  • The Humans – Matt Haig
  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

 

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Me and Earl and the Blogging Girl…

Me and Earl finished August 2017

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to yet another blog, and news of yet another book off the OC List! Yep, I have now finished Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews, and can recommend it, especially for anyone who likes humour in their reading matter! As I said a few blogs ago, when I was part-way through this book, I like Greg Gaines, the main character, because he is such a nerd! It’s the same reason I liked Colin Singleton in An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green. Loved that book! So funny! I know everyone blathers on about The Fault In Our Stars, and that is a good book, don’t get me wrong, but I seriously think An Abundance of Katherines is very underrated and ought to receive more attention!

Anyway, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old, is back in my purple Kipling bag ready for Book Club. I hope the others enjoyed it. I certainly did! I shall see if I can find anything at Waterstone’s which I can suggest to the group, although I definitely already have one in mind – The Angry Chef, by Anthony Warner, which I mentioned in my previous blog. I am pretty sure we’ve not done any non-fiction for a while, so I thought I might put it to them, and it is fairly topical. I aim to get there early enough to have a good mooch around the shop and see one or two things which caught my eye. The thing about Hendrik Groen, though, was that I already had it in hardback at home, and I noticed that the paperback had come out and was included in the buy one get one half price offers that Waterstone’s frequently have on, so I picked up a paperback edition and another book, and suggested them at book club, and we ended up going with Hendrik Groen.

I probably could do with us reading a Young Adult book, though, as far as my Ongoing Concerns list is concerned, or I may well end  up having a seventh book on the list. I have just finished Me and Earl, so there is a space on the OC List for another Young Adult novel, but I’ve got 2 general fiction books and 2 non-fiction books on the OC list at the moment. Oh well, what the hell?! I’ll still go for The Angry Chef, I think. We have read young adult books in our book club, and even one or two which are possibly even pre-teen books, such as The Girl of Ink and Stars, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, which we read last year. We’ve also read Tamar, by Mal Peet, and The Foreshadowing, by Marcus Sedgwick, in recent years, and those are also young adult books.

Before I go any further, I have some news for you all – not got my start date yet, but I shall be back in work soon! Had an interview on Monday morning for an Admin Officer post, and they phoned me back at lunchtime that day to offer me the job! Woo hoo! I’ve emailed them my references, so I guess the HR department has to sort that out, but I hope to have a start date soon. It will be full time, and it’s fixed term, for the time being, until mid-March 2018. I am sure I can still get some reading done out of hours, though, and get some blogging done, too. It’s in one of the departments of my local council, and involves data input, production of letters, and taking minutes at meetings, amongst other general office duties.

The other thing is, it’s Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm, and thus my weekends are free for my brass band practice and for going to matches – the new Premier League season starts this weekend, and we’re at home to West Ham United on Sunday! Giving some thought as to shirts… I quite like the black away one this season, and it’s also a matter of deciding whose name and number to have on the back of it. Right now, I’m thinking it’ll be either Henrikh Mkhitaryan, or Juan Mata. Yeah, I’ve got a thing for attacking midfielders with surnames beginning with M, lol!

Names and squad numbers on the backs of shirts first started in the Premier League during its second season, 1993-94, and in the 90s, I had two home shirts with CANTONA and 7 on the back, both signed by the King! Then King Eric retired. After that, I didn’t have anyone’s name or number on the back for absolutely ages, until 2012-13, when Robin van Persie was leading us to our 20th league title! So, in recent years, I’ve had v. PERSIE 20, SCHWEINSTEIGER 31, and IBRAHIMOVIĆ 9, on the back of my shirts. I also have a Dutch home shirt with v. PERSIE 9 on the back of it. My next decision is probably going to be between MKHITARYAN 22 or MATA 8. An Armenian or a Spaniard will join the roll of honour alongside the existing Frenchman, Dutchman, German and Swede!

Charity shop bargains to report now, and I picked up the fourth Percy Jackson book the other day, Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth, by Rick Riordan, so I now have all four books in that series. I could possibly consider Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief for the YA vacancy on the OC List, but we’ll have to see. I shall have to have a good thunk, lol!Also picked up Unconventional, by Maggie Harcourt, so another YA book for the TBR list and possibly the OC List!

So, with Me and Earl finished, Periodic Tales returns to the top of the OC List. 72% read, I should perhaps get on with that. I’m enjoying it, but, because it’s non-fiction, and about chemistry, it’s not the fastest of reads for me. However, I’m not exactly that far from the end now. Neither Here Nor There is at the halfway stage exactly, and The Beach Hut is just over a third of the way in, at 35%. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is at 16%, but I have only recently started that, as I have with Dark Fire, but really need to get on with that to get it to the 10% and get it on the OC List officially. What I feel I should do is have some intense reading sessions with Periodic Tales (to get that even closer to completion), and both A Quiet Kind of Thunder and Dark Fire to get those further along the way. Then we can look at the Bill Bryson and Veronica Henry books, plus whichever other reading matter we’re adding to the list…

I want to get Periodic Tales OFF the OC List – it has been on for a long time, lol!

Anyway, we shall see what Book Club brings and what I end up reading! If nowt else, it’ll be material for another blog, lol! Until that next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • An Abundance of Katherines – John Green
  • The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen
  • The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner
  • The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • Tamar – Mal Peet
  • The Foreshadowing – Marcus Sedgwick
  • Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth – Rick Riordan
  • Unconventional – Maggie Harcourt
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry
  • A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom

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Long Blog From Joanne!

Stuart Maconie at Waterstone's July 2017

Stuart Maconie at Waterstone’s, Deansgate

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

We’re now in the early hours of Friday morning, but I’m hoping to get on with this blog and report on a great evening at Waterstone’s yesterday, when I met one of my favourite writers, Stuart Maconie, who was promoting his brand new book, Long Road from Jarrow, in which he retraces the route from Jarrow to London taken by 200 men from the north-east town in October 1936 to try to petition Parliament to create some jobs in their local area.

Eighty years to the day, Maconie set off from Jarrow in October 2016, taking in what had changed and what was still similar all these years later. As he said himself, during the talk, things have changed so quickly even since last autumn that even some of the events of last year seem very out of date already, but you can’t just go round putting in amendments in all the books – you just have to accept that that’s how things were when you finished writing! An occupational hazard of non-fiction writing, especially when it comes to history!

The lady with Stuart was from BBC Radio 6 if I recall rightly, and was leading the interview-style event prior to Stuart taking questions from the audience. This was in one of the event rooms at the book shop, although Stuart did the book-signing session in the cafe on the 2nd floor, so that was out in the main part of the store again.

If any of you have read and enjoyed his books, he is as witty in real life as when he writes. There were a lot of similarities between 1936 and 2016, despite the eighty year gap. The media was just getting going back then, but the marchers used what forms of communication they had at the time to plan their route, find some accommodation and get some mentions in local papers along the journey! A lot of people felt politicians had turned their backs on them and abandoned them, which is pretty much the feeling a lot of people have even now.

Me with Stuart Maconie July 2017

Me with Stuart Maconie

I didn’t put any questions to him during the Q&A session, but did have a bit of a chat while he was signing my books – he signed my copy of Long Road from Jarrow, and also The Pie at Night, which I had brought with me. I mentioned that I’d got a lot of that read on the way to Wembley in February – it seemed an apt book to take to the EFL Cup Final as football is one of the major things we northerners enjoy as entertainment. He’s a Wigan Athletic fan, so 2013 was a special year for them, as well as my lads. Although they were sadly relegated from the Premier League that season, they did win the FA Cup so it was still a happy memory!

Long Road from Jarrow may have to wait, but hopefully not too long – it depends on the progress of the current non-fiction books on the OC List, but as Periodic Tales is now at 64% and Neither Here Nor There is now at 33%, it shouldn’t be too long before Dave Haslam and Stuart Maconie are on the OC List! Manchester England is being queued up as the next non-fiction to join the OCs, so Long Road from Jarrow can be next after that! They’re both books about (mostly) 20th century British history, popular history of northern England to be exact, but not completely the same. One is specific to my local area, concerning the city’s entertainment history, and the other is the re-tracing of a famous march route down to London by 200 job-seeking Geordie fellas.

My signed book, plus promotional postcard and badge

As I said earlier, he also signed my copy of The Pie at Night, but the photos are of the new book, and the promotional stuff – nice when you get matching freebies, isn’t it?! Plus, it gives me extra things to #Bookstagram about! And there’s plenty to #Bookstagram about when you’re a mad bookworm on Instagram, let me assure you, lol! Particularly when authors of YA novels are liking your posts! I got a like from Keris Stainton when I featured One Italian Summer in one of my Bookstagram posts! Woo-hoo!

I’ve also made friends on Instagram with one of the Waterstone’s ladies – she works in the children’s and young adult’s section, and she’s the one who recommended One Italian Summer to me. She has also recommended When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon, which I certainly like the sound of, but I have yet to acquire a copy.

Super scrumptious story bench

The above photo is a taster of a blog to come, as I plan to do a more thorough mention of the Book Bench Trail shortly. I have found the benches in Manchester Cathedral, and in the National Football Museum, so I will be featuring more photos very soon from around town. It’s just that I wanted to concentrate on the Waterstone’s event with Stuart Maconie in this blog. I don’t mean to over-Manc you all, I know that my followers are pretty spread out – the last time I checked, I had 58 of you following my book blog, so thank you for being brave enough to do that, lol! – and I also know it can be irritating to read about book events you can’t get to as they’re nowhere near where you live! I’d love to go to some of those book fairs I see mentioned on Book Riot’s Facebook page, but they’re all in the USA and I’m on the other side of the pond!

I mean, I’d quite like to go to Hay-On-Wye, which is a famous book town in Wales, well known for having a lot of book shops, and that visit is not beyond the realms of possibility as it is in the UK, so I feel that is an achievable thing for a British bookworm and that I might eventually be able to tick it off from my “to do” list! Not saying I won’t ever get to a book fair or convention in the States, but it’s a more remote possibility than visiting a book town based on the same island I inhabit!

Thus, if there’s book-related stuff happening right on my own doorstep, here in Manchester, I’m going to be having a shufty and reporting on it in this blog! However, for the time being, I’m going to have to call it a night for now and get this thing published, so, until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Long Road from Jarrow – Stuart Maconie
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

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Filed under Authors, Books, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Literary Issues, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, 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

A Red Letter Day

Pet Shop Boys Blackpool 21st June 2017

View from the front row! Pet Shop Boys at the Empress Ballroom, Blackpool

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

I’m in the middle of a pretty busy time right now, so things may be short, this blog might be one of them, or it might be typed over a number of days, and despite the fact that Neil & Chris opined that there are “a lot of opportunities”, the actual likelihood that I will get around to having anything resembling a good read is pretty remote! I have two family birthdays, a concert with my brass band, and my nephew’s baptism over the course of the next few days! Busy weekend!

The busy period actually started on Wednesday, as that’s when I met up with Sarah in Preston and we then went to Blackpool for the evening! The weather was hot, as it has been in recent days, but it was spitting at times, so our plan to have our KFC as a takeaway and eat our bargain bucket on the beach had to go by the wayside – we had to eat in and have our chicken indoors instead! Never mind! Seagulls probably would have tried to nick our fries anyway, if we’d attempted that, lol!

The main bit, once we’d stuffed ourselves silly with chicken, lol, was to head to the Winter Gardens for the gig. The thing is, there is more than one venue within the Winter Gardens, and the previous time I had seen the Pet Shop Boys in Blackpool, on the Performance Tour back in 1991, the first time I ever saw them in concert, the gig was at the Opera House, and thus we were seated. This time, however, we were in the Empress Ballroom, and were standing. Sarah and I are not the tallest of people, roughly around the same height of 5 foot 1 or thereabouts, but other fellow fans were letting us go in front of them, so we didn’t have too bad a view…

Part-way through the gig, during The Sodom And Gomorrah Show, one very kind bloke spots the pair of us and leads us right to the front for the rest of the show, including the next number which was It’s A Sin! So, we’re right at the front for the remainder of the concert, which was quite a few songs, and also being brought cups of water by Winter Gardens staff – let’s not forget it was an absolutely boiling day! So, we got some hydration and an unimpeded view of Neil and Chris! Absolutely brilliant gig in Mr Lowe’s home town!

Whoever you were, who led Sarah and I to the front, thank you SO much!

Phil Collins Not Dead Yet

As mentioned earlier this year: Borrowing this one from my friend!

Anyway, I guess I’d better mention some books, hadn’t I? If we go back to the previous occasion Sarah and I met up, that was back in February this year when we saw Neil and Chris at the Manchester Arena, and I had been reading Gary Kemp‘s autobiography, I Know This Much, and finished it in time to give it back to Sarah, along with Faster Than Lightning, by Usain Bolt, which she’d also lent me. At that time, in at least one of my February blogs, I mentioned that she was going to lend me Phil Collins‘ autobiography, Not Dead Yet. She hadn’t finished it at the time, I think, but I can now update you all with the information that she has now lent me that particular book!

David Walliams books

An impressive stack!

I also got to see a huge stack of David Walliams books, as her son, James, is a big fan of his stories. Indeed, we bought him at least one of those books, Ratburger, for Christmas a year or two ago now! He even has duplicate books – two copies of The Boy In the Dress, as they have two different covers – I’ve had that issue with some of my books, as has been well documented in these blogs, lol! The only David Walliams book which James has not yet got is the latest one, The World’s Worst Children 2, but I think he will be buying himself that with his birthday money, as he turned 12 the other week.

Anyway, from children’s books, and books lent by friends, to my current book situation. I need to start on The Power, not even started it yet. I had plans to reduce my OC list still further, and have only 6 books on it instead of 9, but I doubt that’s going to happen! I still feel that some of the books on my OC list have been forgotten about. A lot of them need resuming, I’ve not even read a page of some of them for ages! That’s why I thought getting the OC list down even further would be a good idea, but I don’t think it’s going to happen for a while yet. Might be best to stick with 9 books for the time being.

Certainly not right now. I’ve only finished off one book this month, that being Pet Shop Boys, Literally, by Chris Heath. However, as I have reached my 30 book target on Goodreads, the Chris Heath book and any others I read this year are above and beyond my target figure, but other books might have to wait until we get into July! Or at least until this weekend is over! Maybe get some of the YA stuff off the list, it will probably be the quickest to read and finish off once I resume it, as opposed to some of the non-fiction stuff which takes a bit longer. I enjoy non-fiction, of course, but it’s a more detailed read than a lot of fiction, and I progress at a slower rate, particularly with stuff such as Periodic Tales.

Friday, 23rd June, 2017, 20:54h.

Back again! Returning to the blog, if only to finish it off while watching Glastonbury. Well, alright, listening to Glasto, ’cause I’m at Computer Corner right now so I have my back to my telly. This is clearly a very music-minded blog with a few books mentioned too!

Apparently, today is Olympic Day, so I can’t fail to bring a bit of sport into it, can I, as I’ve been an Olympic nut since I was 10 going on 11 – feel free to hold Torvill & Dean responsible for that, lol! The Winter Olympics of Sarajevo 1984 were the first Games I got into, and I’ve got far too many favourite moments to list, and I’ve also read a fair few books on the matter! On the Games in general, and about certain incidents, or certain sportspeople. In recent times, I’ve read Faster Than Lightning, Usain Bolt‘s autobiography, and also a Quick Reads book, Headhunter, by Jade Jones, Team GB’s Olympic taekwondo champion in London and Rio. Although I read this one some time ago now, as a book club book, I can also recommend The Dirtiest Race in History, by Richard Moore, which is about the men’s 100m final at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, and Ben Johnson’s positive drugs test only a day or two after the race.

Before I get this wrapped up, I shall set you an Olympic teaser – see if you know the answer to this one…

What was the significance of Jenny Jones winning bronze for Great Britain at Sochi 2014?

I don’t have any medals to hand out for anyone who does get the right answer, but you will earn my respect as a fellow Olympic nut if you know the answer to that one! I’m off to get another drink and to watch Glasto, so until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • I Know This Much – Gary Kemp
  • Faster Than Lightning – Usain Bolt
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • Ratburger – David Walliams
  • The Boy in the Dress – David Walliams
  • The World’s Worst Children 2 – David Walliams
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Headhunter – Jade Jones
  • The Dirtiest Race in History – Richard Moore

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Childrens' Books, Computer Corner, Music, Olympic Games