Category Archives: Music

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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Filed under Books, Bookstagram, Charity Shop Bargains, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Handbag Books, Humour, List Challenges, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, The TBR Pile, YA Books

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

Sticky Weather!

Sticky Weather June 2017

Avoid sunburn – Stay indoors and read!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

It’s sticky weather, as Peter Kay would put it! I do have to venture out tomorrow, as I’m volunteering at Start in Salford, as I currently do on Monday mornings, but I shall be taking precautions against this abnormally hot and sunny weather which my country is currently experiencing! Hopefully, though, there will be SOME chance to sit and read and avoid getting sunburned!

The weather’s reminding me of one of the newly-knighted Sir Billy Connolly’s stand-up routines, about holidays and sun cream…

“I’m a kind of pale blue. It takes me a week of sunbathing to get white! I go into a chemist’s… “I’ll have a bottle of suntan lotion, please! Factor 57.” They gave me an asbestos suit and a welder’s helmet!”

This might not be the longest of blogs, but you ought to know the news that Pet Shop Boys, Literally, is now finished! Yep! One more off the OC List. It’s been a bit quiet on the book front this month, I have only finished off one book so far in June, but perhaps it will pick up again later. As I go to see Neil & Chris in concert this coming Wednesday, it is a timely finish for the book about their first-ever tour back in 1989. I didn’t see them on that tour, but I did see them two years later, funnily enough in Blackpool, on the Performance Tour of 1991!

PSB Literally finished

I will be back at the Winter Gardens in midweek with my friend Sarah. She was there that night, too, but although we were penpals at the time, she and I didn’t meet up until the following year. My sister, Ellie, went with me the first time I saw the Pet Shop Boys, and also the first time I saw Erasure, in 1992 at the Manchester Apollo, but all the subsequent concerts where I’ve seen either of my two favourite synth duos have been with Sarah, and all the Erasure gigs I’ve seen with her have been at the Guild Hall in Preston. The PSB gigs have been at either the Arena or the Apollo, including the one in February this year at the Arena.

Obviously, after the bomb last month, the Arena is still out of use at the moment, being repaired, although it is hoped it will re-open soon. Although I was disappointed about the Maccy D’s closing, as it used to be very handy for a post-gig drink to cool us down, I still think it’s the best concert venue, certainly in terms of location. It is so handy for going into town and having something to eat first, then making your way over for the gig.

I will have to make a start on The Power, by Naomi Alderman, my book club book, but it’s not on the OC List as yet, so the list is down to 8 books at the moment. I’m still thinking that I should add a “chunky monkey” to that list, and due to a response from one of my friends on Instagram, my former colleague Jill, it’ll probably be The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett.

Goodreads challenge surpassed

You see, I’ve met my Goodreads Challenge, and I’ve learned from last year! I am NOT going to alter my challenge, I’m going to see how many more books I read beyond the 30 I’ve finished off thus far! So, I will not panic if I have a book hangover after a particularly epic novel, as I did last year when I finished A Little Life. I will probably stick to non-fiction until I feel ready to read a story again. 2016’s challenge was very handy in imparting some useful book-reading lessons!

  1. DON’T increase your target number of books! Just see how many books you read beyond that number when you hit your target.
  2. DON’T panic if you have a Book Hangover! Just read books which are different to the one which gave you the hangover.

I was having a Book Reshuffle earlier. That’s a bit like a Cabinet Reshuffle, except that it’s useful, lol! Actually, that means it’s nothing like a Cabinet Reshuffle, lol! Anyway, I was putting some books in the Book Chest in the garage and taking some out. I think there’s going to be another mini-clearout, might take a few and divvy them out between local charity shops.

I was mostly going into the Book Chest because one of the books I picked up at the church fair last week was Heartstone, by C. J. Sansom which is the 5th book in his Shardlake series of historical fiction, and I knew I had a few other books of his in my book chest, so I was essentially going for a shufty to re-familiarise myself with what the hell I had in there. I discovered that I have Dissolution and Dark Fire, which are the first two books of that series. Sovereign and Revelation are the third and fourth books, but I don’t have those, nor the 6th book, Lamentation. This is not a cause for concern, though. There’s time yet. I will list them in reading order on the List Challenges list, and at the end of this blog. I like series to be in the right order.

Other books I took out of the book chest to have close to hand were Humble Pie, Gordon Ramsay‘s autobiography, which sounds good, and Robbing The Bees, by Holley Bishop, which is described as a biography of honey. I have read books about tea, coffee and chocolate, so don’t be too surprised! Besides which, bees are very much in the news of late, as they’re a symbol of Manchester, so I thought I might add that to Manchester, England, by Dave Haslam in my Manc Reading theme. There are beehives in town, by the way… on the roof of Manchester Cathedral, and also on the roof of The Printworks.

This one’s not from my book chest, but from one of the tubs in my room… Fathomless Riches, by the Revd Richard Coles. Those of you who are my age and into 80s music will probably remember the UK’s best-selling single of 1986, which was “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by The Communards, a song which is still guaranteed to get me on the dance floor at a disco, even though I’m no dancer and will probably just dance around my handbag, lol! Well, Richard Coles was one half of The Communards, along with the rather more well-known Jimmy Somerville. Coles is a vicar now, has been for some time, and his book is about how he went from pop to pulpit!

Well, I need to go from blogging to freshening up, which is pretty tricky in sticky weather, so that’s about all there is for this entry. Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom
  • Sovereign – C. J. Sansom
  • Revelation – C. J. Sansom
  • Heartstone – C. J. Sansom
  • Lamentation – C. J. Sansom
  • Humble Pie – Gordon Ramsay
  • Robbing the Bees – Holley Bishop
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • Fathomless Riches – The Revd Richard Coles

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, British Weather, Food & Drink, Goodreads, Humour, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Reader's Block, The TBR Pile, Weather

It’s The Wrong Book, Gromit!

Wallace-and-Gromit-10

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

First of all, congratulations to J. K. Rowling on being made a member of the Order of the Companion of Honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List! She has been recognised for her work in literature and philanthropy. Not only am I a biased bookworm, but I am also a Potterhead, as many of you know, lol, so I’m very chuffed Harry Potter‘s creator has been given a gong. Also very chuffed that the Big Yin, Billy Connolly, has been knighted, been a huge fan of his for years, since I was a little girl, and seen him a few times, November last year being the most recent. Arise Sir Billy!

Anyway, I’m blogging because, earlier today (we’re still on Friday here, just about, as I type) I did my first stint at St Denys’ Bookshop at the Manchester Cathedral Visitors’ Centre, which mostly involved familiarising myself with the shop and its stock, but I did get to help Jed with unpacking a box or two of books and checking we’d been sent the correct reading matter!

As you can imagine, this is a church bookshop, so our orders are going to be stuff such as Bibles, hymn books, prayer books and other reading matter of a religious or at least spiritual nature… Jed and I are checking off what we’ve been sent from one publishing house, both the titles of the books and the quantities of each book we should have been sent. All going well so far… Six copies of The Shack, by William P. Young, as ordered, 4 copies of this Bible, 2 copies of that one, et cetera, et cetera, and then we have a problem… Not only are we a book short in one of the titles we’d ordered (one copy received instead of two), but we find a copy of The Guest List, by Melissa Hill!

Oops! The Guest List is NOT on our inventory! OK, the plot is about a wedding, but that’s as close to religion as it gets, really! I think one would class this novel as “chick lit”. It’s certainly romantic fiction if nowt else! We’ve had to put the book on one side, and the publisher’s will have to be contacted to report the error. I expect the book will be returned and a second copy of the book we only had one of needs to be sent. It did get me wondering, though, if some other poor bookshop’s staff were a copy short of The Guest List, and had instead received some non-fiction book in the religious category?!

Hence my “wrong book” blog title and a nod to Wallace and Gromit as a tribute to the late Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallace, who passed away recently, aged 96. He was also famous as Cleggy in the BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine.

Years ago, and I DO mean years ago as in back in the 1980s when I was a teenager and my paternal grandparents were both very much with us and had popped over from Dublin, we visited the village where Last of the Summer Wine was set! We even had cuppas and sticky buns in the cafe! As it was over in West Yorkshire, it was on the way to Bridlington where we were actually heading to take Nana and Grandad to Grandad’s RAF reunion do. We did a fair bit of visiting TV show locations in the late 80s, lol, particularly as Granada Studios Tour was open back in those days so you could walk on the set of Coronation Street, and that was just in town so very convenient for us! We also went back across the Pennines, though, in 1989, to visit the Emmerdale Farm set as my mum was still very much a fan of that soap back then.

Anyway, never mind British TV Series of the 1980s, let’s get back to the books, shall we?!

Pet Shop Boys, Literally, is now up to 85% as I made more progress with it earlier. I plan to get that one read as I go to see Neil and Chris this coming Wednesday at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, Chris Lowe’s home town. It is my own copy of the book, though, so it’s not one I’ve borrowed from my friend Sarah, unlike the Gary Kemp autobiography I was reading earlier this year before the previous PSB gig at the Manchester Arena in February. Gary Kemp is, of course, the guitarist of Spandau Ballet, but as I Know This Much was my friend’s book and I was going to the gig with her, I was getting it read so I could give it back to her, along with Faster Than Lightning by Usain Bolt, which she’d already lent me in 2016.

So, my aim is to get the Chris Heath book finished off, get another off the OC List, but I also need to make a start on The Power, by Naomi Alderman, which is our current book club book. I need to give it at least a try up to the 10% mark, whichever page that happens to be, and see if I’m enjoying it enough to add it to the OC List. If I get the PSB book polished off, I can just class The Power as the general fiction replacement in my quest to balance my OC List in terms of general fiction, non-fiction and young adult. Otherwise it might just go down on the list as a temporary 10th book.

Other books to be getting on with are Periodic Tales, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Then we can take a look at some of the others on the OC List, particularly some of the YA books which have not been read for a while and focus on those. Finding Audrey, for instance.

We’re now in Saturday morning, as I type, but most of this blog has been typed on the Friday, lol! I won’t go into the transfer idiocy too much, except to say that the little benny Cristiano Ronaldo is currently throwing will eventually calm down and he’ll stay at Real Madrid, as he always has done after each of his previous bennies since 2009! It’s not even an issue with them, anyway, it’s about being accused of fiddling his taxes, so this is about the Spanish equivalent of the Inland Revenue, it’s not one of his “Real Madrid are having a blip so I’m going to have a bit of a mope” sessions, which is what normally happens, lol!

He’s 32 now, anyway, so there’s no way he’d come back to us at the amount of money he would cost. Far too much to shell out for someone the wrong side of 30. If he were on a free transfer, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was last summer, it would be a different matter, and probably very likely he’d come back if he truly had had enough in Spain, but I think things will get smoothed over anyway, and he’ll stay. All it is, as far as I can see, is like when any of us gets some particularly bad or worrying news – we have a bit of a panic and throw a wobbler before we chill out and look at things a bit more rationally! That’s all that’s happening with Ronny right now. He’s at the initial stage of that process.

There’s no more actual proper official news at the moment, anyway. We’ve signed Victor Lindelof from Benfica, and we’re still waiting on further progress on other players we’d like to get, but no more deals have been done yet. I think the aim is to get 4 in, as it was last summer, and I’m sure a few will be leaving, but none have done so as yet. Some interesting news I have seen on BBC Sport, though, is that Robin van Persie might actually be heading back to Rotterdam to rejoin Feyenoord after a couple of seasons in Turkey at Fenerbahce. I think that sounds like a pretty sensible move, really, especially as he’s now 33 nearly 34, so he’ll go back to his hometown club to play for a season or two before he retires.

Ah, I miss Robin! I have very fond memories of his time with us, particularly the 2012-13 season when he helped us win our 20th league title! Especially as we were declared champions the night before my Big 40 with his hat-trick at home to Aston Villa! Boy was I on the stroopwafels that night!

Anyway, before I start waffling on about my appreciation of Mr van Persie, lol, I’d better get this blog finished and published so you can have a good read about my first day volunteering at the cathedral bookshop! Until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
  • The Shack – William P. Young
  • The Guest List – Melissa Hill
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • I Know This Much – Gary Kemp
  • Faster Than Lightning – Usain Bolt
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella

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Filed under Books, Football, Humour, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Television, Travel, YA Books

Pigeon English

Pigeon English book

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

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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