Category Archives: Science Fiction

Towels, Tigers, Travel and Tortoises

Towel Day

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Happy Towel Day to all you hoopy froods out there! We’ve actually got some new towels in our bathroom recently. Dark teal ones, really gorgeous shade. So, yes, I’m a frood who knows where our towels are! For those who are unfamiliar with the works of the late great Douglas Adams, I am making reference to the legendary work of science fiction humour that is The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. As 25th May was Douglas’ birthday when he was still with us, it has been declared Towel Day in his honour since he passed away.

Sadly, while on the subject of authors no longer with us, Judith Kerr passed away earlier this week, aged 95. She is particularly famous for her children’s books, one of the best known ones for young readers being The Tiger Who Came to Tea. One of those books my sister and I enjoyed when we were kids and my niece has enjoyed it too in recent years. Charlotte, the Junior Bookworm, is quite into David Walliams books these days, and has recently been laughing her way through Fing. According to my sister, Charlotte had already started reading it in Waterstone’s and had got through the first three chapters in the book shop! You know it’s a good book when you haven’t even left the store and you’re already well into it!

You won’t be at all surprised to learn that I was at Waterstone’s earlier today. Let’s face it,  you’d be more gobsmacked if I hadn’t been, lol! The big one in town, on Deansgate. I wanted some more of those Object Lessons books – you will recall in a recent blog that I bought and read Souvenir, by Rolf Potts, and I wanted more from the same series about items which interested me, so I will be mentioning those shortly. I also got some books from HMV this afternoon. Yes, I know, it’s ostensibly a record shop, or that’s what it’s famous for, but they do have books and usually on offer.

As you know, my dad passed away in January. I used to get him HMV gift cards for Christmas, I had been doing this for some time. However, he hadn’t got round to using the last two I’d got him, and Mum found them amongst his stuff the other day. I got them checked out before I bought anything and, yes, they were both still valid and with a tenner on each. I have now spent one, on some books, but I still have one to use.

Books bought 25th May 2019

Book haul from HMV and Waterstone’s.

The three at the bottom, plus White Teeth, by Zadie Smith, were from HMV, and the other five were from Waterstone’s. I did toy with getting myself another copy of Not Dead Yet, by Phil Collins, and I still might. I had read that the other year when Sarah lent me her copy. I then found a paperback edition last summer for a quid at a charity shop in Wales when I went to Conwy and Llandudno for the day in August. I then lent that copy to my dad as I thought he would enjoy it.

Although we got a lot of his stuff after he died, my Phil Collins book wasn’t amongst the belongings. It doesn’t really matter as I have read the book, but it would have been nice to have got it back anyway!

Obviously, with having my ups and downs, I am not doing the Goodreads Challenge this year, as I mentioned in a previous blog. I only just started reading again in April. Book slump, followed by bereavement, meant that I hadn’t finished a book since the end of November, until April this year. I have now finished my fifth book of the year, though, as I finished off You Do You, by Sarah Knight while I was on my lunch at work the other day! It’s the second book I have read by this writer, as I previously read and enjoyed The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k the other year.

I am very near to my sixth book, too, as I am almost at the end of the ebook version of The Girl With the Curly Hair, by Alis Rowe. You may well know her from Facebook and other forms of social media. She has Asperger’s Syndrome, so she’s on the autistic spectrum, and posts about life on the spectrum from her own experiences and in order to help others – both those with the conditions and those without. Having an invisible health issue myself, my lifelong dodgy thyroid, plus being introverted and having my run-ins with depression from time to time, there is a lot I can relate to when Alis posts on FB, so I downloaded her book on my Kindle. Other than that she is an early bird and I’m a night owl, I feel there’s a lot of cross-over and stuff in common.

I would like to get to double figures in books read by the end of the year. I know that’s a low target, but I don’t care. I also don’t care if nearly all the books I read this year are non-fiction. I have read a couple of poetry anthologies, too, but I’ve not finished any novels yet, and the books on the horizon for being finished look like being factual stuff, too. I’ve still got the book about Ole on the go, so a biography will add to the non-fiction list once that’s been read.

Anyway, as I said a few paragraphs ago, lol, I bought some more of those Object Lessons books when I was at Waterstone’s earlier. Given my impending jollies, Luggage, by Susan Harlan, was an obvious choice! I’d bought a book about souvenirs, I might as well buy one about suitcases, lol! The other two OL books are about relevant items to me due to being a bookworm and a music nut, as they are Bookshelf, by Lydia Pyne, and Personal Stereo, by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow.

Sony launched their first-ever Walkman portable personal cassette player in 1979, so it’s the 40th anniversary this year. I had a couple of personal stereos, not branded ones, since the mid 80s, getting the first one when I was 12. I think it was for Christmas in 1985, so, yes I would have been 12. I got another at about 15, but it was in 1989, ten years after Sony launched the first model, that I saved up and bought myself a Sony Walkman. One with MegaBass, in my case, and that really served me well in the early 90s when I was a student and commuting to Bolton and back on the bus for the three years of my degree at uni! Pretty sure I still have that Walkman, and that it’s in the garage. Might even still work if fresh batteries were put in it! We still have some tapes in the garage, so if my Walkman does work, I would have something to play them on, lol!

In the past 30 years, though, audio technology has changed. I went from a Walkman and tapes to a portable CD player, and also MiniDiscs at one point, and an MP3 player, and then, of course, an iPod, and in recent times the advent of having my music on my phone so that everything is on the same device and I would notice if someone was trying to ring me while I was listening to some tunes! My tastes in music haven’t changed much, just how I listen to my favourite songs! I’m listening to music digitally, on my mobile phone, when I’m on the bus or tram, but it’s pretty much the same stuff I loved to listen to on tapes back in the day! Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, and pretty much most other 80s music, especially the synth stuff! Human League, Depeche Mode, New Order, Soft Cell, Ultravox, OMD, etc…

Tortoise, by Peter Young, is not from the same series, not an Object Lessons book, but it is from a series about different animals. I am hoping to see some giant tortoises when I’m on my holidays, so that’s why I bought the book, in case you were wondering! No, I don’t have one as a pet. I don’t have any pets. Lots of music by the Pet Shop Boys, but no pets, lol! The only time we had any pets, temporarily, was when my sister and I were at primary school and we looked after Sooty, one of the nursery class’s guinea pigs, during school holidays. We did that a few times, particularly when Ellie was in the nursery.

Well, that’s about it for now, I think, so have the rest of a Happy Towel Day, fellow froods, and I shall be back again some time soon! Might not be this side of my jollies, but I will be around again before too long! Take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr
  • Fing – David Walliams
  • Souvenir – Rolf Potts
  • White Teeth – Zadie Smith
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • You Do You – Sarah Knight
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • The Girl With the Curly Hair – Alis Rowe
  • Ole – Ian MacLeay
  • Luggage – Susan Harlan
  • Bookshelf – Lydia Pyne
  • Personal Stereo – Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow
  • Tortoise – Peter Young
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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Childrens' Books, Computer Corner, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, List Challenges, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Poetry, Science Fiction, Travel

Science Fiction and Cheeky Nando’s

Tallest structures in the world 2019

Hello again, fellow Bookworms,

Trying to decide what to read next! Also got to give some thought to holiday reading. OK, so my Kindle will be coming on my jollies, so there’s plenty of ebooks on that, and there is always the chance I will find some book or other while I’m away and come home with some reading matter as a souvenir, but I usually do take a physical book or two away with me.

However, there’s still some weeks to go, and I still need to decide what to read now, never mind when I’m on the plane or sunning myself overseas! So, what I could do with, and this is a concept that might be familiar to other bookworms, particularly on Facebook and particularly if you’re a fellow Potterhead… the Book of Requirement. In the Harry Potter series, I think it might be around the 5th book where this comes in, there’s a Room of Requirement at Hogwarts. A room that isn’t always there, but makes itself appear and become available when it’s needed, which it does for Dumbledore’s Army when Hermione and others form the resistance movement against Umbridge and all the dark stuff that’s going on by then…

Thus, someone came up with the idea, in a meme, that there should be a book that turns itself into whichever book it is that is right for you at that time! A book that might, sometimes, be blank, but then when you’re having one of those “I don’t know what to read next” times, you open that book, and it is whichever book is just right for you at that time. The Book of Requirement! If there was such a book, that’s what I could do with right now, lol!

patronus is a bookworm

As for the Harry Potter books, I’ve listed them all on the books mentioned in 2019 list on List Challenges, the 7 main books, anyway. I’m not going through all the spin-offs, I just wanted to raise the issue of the Room of Requirement so you got the idea about the Book of Requirement concept.

Someone once said, and I think it might have been Margaret Atwood, that the book to read is the one that makes you think. Right now, though, the book to read is the one that will make me want to continue reading and help me get back in the mood for more books! I’ve been in a book slump since November, and my dad popped his clogs in January, then the funeral was in February, so I’ve only just been in the mood for reading since April, therefore it’s not necessarily about books that make me think, although I do read a lot of non-fiction so it is pretty true that they usually make me think, but the book to read is the book that makes you want to read even more!

Decisions, decisions! Fiction or non-fiction?

If non-fiction, what to read about? If fiction, which genre? Historical fiction? Science fiction? Fantasy? General fiction? Some people on social media suggest re-reading an old favourite when in a slump, but I just feel that I should read something I’ve not read before as I have absolutely stacks of unread and partially-read books…

I may have to resort to getting a few out and selecting a book by the time-honoured method…

Ip dip do, cat’s got flu, dog’s got chicken pox, out goes you!

Sometimes, that’s the only way to make a decision! I mentioned, last time out, that Howard’s End is On the Landing was on our landing, which seems appropriate enough, lol, but there are plenty of books on our landing. There are also some books downstairs, and, of course, in the book chest in the garage. And then, there are all the books in here. There are books right under Computer Corner as well as on top of surfaces near here!

I seem to have two copies of The Music Shop, by Rachel Joyce! One hardback and one paperback. I think it’s because I couldn’t find the hardback at the time, and found a copy of the paperback in a charity shop, thinking I would need it for the work’s book club, although they would have read that as I think I was on leave due to bereavement when they were reading it. My hardback copy was from a charity shop, too, so both copies of the book were pretty cheap!

Regular readers of my blog will recall the infamous Duplicate Books List from a year or two ago now. I think I actually ended up giving the duplicates to charity shops last time I was having a clear out, so I no longer have more than one copy of those books, and there were quite a lot on the list. I think it was at 17 or even 19 books at one point where I owned two copies of the same book! A lot of it was accidental, I genuinely forgot that I already owned those particular books, saw the book on offer in a charity shop and bought it, before realising that I already owned a copy! Occasionally, though, it was deliberate, as I knew I had a copy but didn’t know where it was, and bought another copy anyway with the intention of reading it fairly soon. However, I didn’t get around to it, as you might have guessed, lol!

Let’s see which books are lurking around here…

I’ve got Who’s the B*****d in the Black? here, the autobiography of former referee, Jeff Winter. I could read that, actually! It would be the third referee’s autobiography that I’ve read, as I’ve read The Rules of the Game, by Pierluigi Collina, and The Man in the Middle, by Howard Webb, in recent years. Could take the Jeff Winter book on holiday if I’ve finished the biography of Ole by then, as it might help alleviate the notorious Football Withdrawal Symptoms which come upon me once the season is over, and it very nearly is! Final game of the season this coming Sunday for my lads, at home to Cardiff City.

Although the lads have run out of steam in recent weeks, I still reckon we’ve done much better than we would have done if the Bus Parking One hadn’t been sacked the week before Christmas. Ole did give them belief back, but I think fitness and stamina need to be worked on to get us back to the side that used to be able to play to the final whistle as they did under Sir Alex. I expect that, with those who stay, and with the new signings, Ole will make it a priority to get a side together that keeps going for 90 minutes plus stoppage time.

We’ll be in the Europa League next season, which is a bit of a pain as those games are on Thursdays, so I’ll have to miss steel pans some weeks.

Funnily enough on the covers of the referee books, Howard Webb isn’t brandishing any cards. Pierluigi Collina is showing a yellow card on his, and Jeff Winter is showing a red card on his, giving some player the grand order of the early bath!

Still deliberating whether to take Dune with me on my jollies so I can read it on a dune in June. I was actually looking at my science fiction section the other day, and considering To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. That one actually sounds quite amusing. I could give that a go. I think it’s a time-travel novel by the sound of the blurb. I’m still considering Resistance is Futile, by Jenny T. Colgan, on the grounds of humour. It is “a riotous cocktail of geeks” according to Matt Haig.

OMG, there’s a Nando’s receipt in my copy of the Connie Willis book, lol! It’s for an order taken at 7:17pm on 2nd March 2018, and from the Nando’s in Piccadilly Gardens! Must have been in town after work and bought the book at Waterstone’s on Deansgate, and then gone for a cheeky Nando’s before I got the bus or tram home… I am partial to a cheeky Nando’s, it has to be said! On that occasion, I had the double chicken breast wrap, with chips, and a bottomless soft drink. I also had a reward on my Nando’s card, so I actually got money off! Eat in total was £8.50 which is pretty damn good!

There is a Waterstone’s receipt at the front of my copy of The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s dated 2nd February 2018, so I bought that book exactly a month before the Connie Willis novel. According to the receipt, I also bought a brown notebook with dotted pages on that same occasion, plus The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester. I probably went for a cheeky Nando’s that night as well, although there’s no evidence of my dining destination for 2nd February! Not in any of my nearby books, anyway!

I still intend to read The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon, but am thinking I might wait until I’m home from my jollies before starting that one due to the sheer physical size of the book. I don’t really want to be lugging it anywhere, so it’d be one I’d read here at home, and thus I don’t want to start it now and really get into it and then feel that I do have to cart it around with me, and I certainly don’t really want to be carting it around overseas! So, we shall wait until I am back from my hols before that one is commenced!

Another one I’m not about to attempt yet is S, by J J Abrams and Doug Dorst. I got this a couple of years ago now, as I recall, from a bookshop and cafe on Lever Street in town. I think it’s called Chapter One. The idea of this book is that it’s an old library book and it’s been written in by these two people, students I think, who write comments in the margins, and there’s loads of stuff in it between certain pages. Postcards and the likes… All part of the story, so it’s going to take some kind of strategy to work out how to tackle this one when I do read it. I think the guy at the shop said, at the time, that there’s a lot of stuff online about it, so I might look for online advice and ideas when I do get around to trying it. Again, a book I will probably want to keep at home. It’s not massively chunky,  well not compared to The Priory of the Orange Tree, lol, but with all the things inside it, I don’t want anything getting lost or mislaid once I do start reading it.

I have some seriously weird and random books, don’t I?! Regular readers of my blog won’t even be surprised, though, lol, as I’m a very random person and I do waffle on about anything and everything! It will be, mostly, about books, but then other ingredients are added to a blog entry… music, food and drink, Manchester United, holidays I’ve been on or am going on, various handicrafts… Somehow, though, it hasn’t put people off as I seem to have over 80 brave souls now who follow this blog!

I’ve always read anything which took my fancy. Some people tend to stick to one thing or another. Some like romance, some like horror, some crime… my late dad was very much into spy thrillers, he certainly read a lot of Len Deighton and John le Carré novels when I was a kid. That was during the Cold War era of the “Iron Curtain” so there was plenty of material for spy novels! He also liked war-themed stuff, but then again, his dad was a bomber pilot in the RAF during the Second World War, so that’s pretty understandable. He also liked poetry, as I mentioned recently, and I certainly share at least some of that – definitely the appreciation of Roger McGough, anyway!

I’ve liked fiction and non-fiction pretty  much alike since I first learned to read. I’ve even read a lot of reference books. That’s how much of a nerd I am, lol! I remember getting an encyclopaedia for Christmas one year as one of my pressies. I think I was about 8 or so. Anyway, there was a double-page spread of Flags of the Nations. Bear in mind this was about 1981 or so. Dad went through all the flags and wrote a C next to all the countries that were communist, so there were a lot of those back then! That’s when I asked him something of a hypothetical question at the time… If East Germany and West Germany ever became just Germany again, did my dad think they’d be western like us or eastern like the Russians? My dad thought they’d be eastern like the Russians. Then again, at that time, I think we all thought it would be how it was forever, we didn’t see the Berlin Wall coming down… that all came as a massive surprise when it happened at the end of 1989!

Obviously, towards the end of this year, it will be 30 years since the Berlin Wall came down, so I may well do a special blog on it, or at least part of a blog. Having been to Berlin in 2012, I have seen some slabs of the Wall, and also where the Wall was is marked throughout the city with two lines of cobbles and metal plates bearing the words Berliner Mauer 1961-1989. Fascinating city, I would love to go back there again.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now, so 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
  • Howard’s End is On the Landing – Susan Hill
  • The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce
  • Who’s the B*****d in the Black? – Jeff Winter
  • The Rules of the Game – Pierluigi Collina
  • The Man in the Middle – Howard Webb
  • Ole – Ian MacLeay
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog – Connie Willis
  • Resistance is Futile – Jenny T. Colgan
  • The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
  • S – J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, Computer Corner, Duplicate Books List, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Fantasy Fiction, Food & Drink, Football, Half-Finished Books, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Science Fiction, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

Blogging I am. Read it you should.

darth vader reading

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

Happy Star Wars Day! May the 4th be with you! Sad that Chewy didn’t make it to today, though, as Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca, passed away yesterday. He will now be in a galaxy far, far away, though, and reunited with Princess Leia.

Don’t go over to the Dark Side… it’s too dark to read! Stay here with a good book and enjoy this blog, lol! I shall start with poetry, as I mentioned a few poetry books in my last blog and I have added a couple to my “books read” list. Poetry anthologies are something you can dip in and out of, though. I think, if you’ve read and enjoyed a significant amount of poems in any given book, you can say you’ve read that book. It’s not like a novel where you start off and read all the way through it, or at least try to. I mean, for instance, with Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, you start off with her at Gateshead with her mean aunt and spoilt brat cousins, and then you end up with her marrying Mr Rochester, don’t you? Poems, however, are not usually a continuation of the same story. They might be on a theme, you might have an anthology of love poems, for instance, or war poems, something I studied 30 years ago for my GCSEs, and I can recommend The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry should you wish to read any Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon.

If there’s anyone reading this at the moment who’s currently sitting their exams, good luck to you you for the remainder of your exams, hope they go well. Doesn’t matter if it’s GCSEs, A Levels, degrees, or any other qualifications. As I said, it’s three decades ago since I was sitting my GCSEs, so 28 years since my Bastard A Levels (worst exams ever) and 25 years since I was about to graduate from university.

Ice cream van’s outside, playing the Match of the Day theme as the jingle, lol! Nearly the end of the footy season now, though, ha ha! Only two more league games left. My lads are away to Huddersfield Town tomorrow, and then at home to Cardiff City next Sunday, on what would have been my grandma’s 100th birthday! She did make it to 95 and a half, though, so she did have a good innings!

Anyhow, back to books, and I have added You Took the Last Bus Home and The Luckiest Guy Alive to my list of books read in 2019, so those are the third and fourth books for this year so far. May the fourth be with you, indeed, lol!

I have a book here beside me at Computer Corner as I sit typing this blog, and it’s Jacob’s Room is Full of Books, by Susan Hill. You may recall that, some time ago, I read Howard’s End is On the Landing, by the same writer. Well, this is the follow-up! If she thinks Jacob’s room is full of books, which it may well be for all I know, and I hope it is, but she’s not seen mine! Mine is definitely full of books! A lot of them in huge piles, one or two of which, quite memorably, came toppling down one day in February a couple of years ago just after United had scored away to Leicester, lol! Never underestimate the excitement caused by a good goal, even my reading matter was celebrating!

My copy of Howard’s End is On the Landing is, appropriately enough, on our landing!

I had started the second of the Susan Hill books. Might resume that one, but am also considering The Rhine, by Ben Coates, which I have mentioned again recently. Wondering when it might be right to return to the fiction, though. Should I stick to factual stuff just to get through what is still a difficult time, or will something made up grab me?

I could actually start The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher, which is here in Computer Corner, and it would be apt to start that on Star Wars Day, wouldn’t it?!

Star Wars musicians

One for Star Wars AND music nerds.

Talking of music, I’ve been playing steel pans for 6 months now, well just over that, and as part of Salford Steel, I will be off to the north-east in July, to North Shields for a steel band festival! Going to be a massed pans bit at one point, with over 100 of us all playing.

Oh, and, if you recall a couple of years ago, I mentioned on this blog the Learn to Play Day, well weekend, that Forsyths held in March – it was a national, or possibly international, thing where music shops offered free short lessons on various instruments… Well, I did that again in March this  year! You may recall I had a go on the accordion the last time, but this time there were strings attached, lol, as I had a go on the cello!

Me on the cello March 2019

I really enjoyed it! If space wasn’t such an issue, I wouldn’t mind learning the cello. It has quite a huge pitch range, around four octaves from its lowest possible note to the highest achievable note, so the register goes from the bass clef into the treble, essentially two octaves below middle C up to two octaves above it.

The keyboard is out again, been in the garage for ages, but it’s back in our house. Running on batteries at the mo as it needs a new adaptor for it to run on mains, but I was playing it the other day, attempting “Always On My Mind” and “Rent” like the Pethead that I am! I thought, seeing as my old keyboard was out again, I may as well play some Pet Shop Boys stuff and pretend to be Chris Lowe, ha ha! My niece, Charlotte, is learning the piano on keyboards, so that’s why it’s out. She’s still also learning the violin. Taking after her Auntie Jo and playing more than one instrument…

Ironically, when I watched the old Top of the Pops from 1987 the following day on BBC 4, Neil and Chris were actually on it and performing “Rent”! The Bee Gees were number one with “You Win Again” so I think we were on for some time around October 1987 at that point. Sad that there’s only Sir Barry Gibb left now. Very partial to their music, especially all the disco stuff from Saturday Night Fever that was out when I was a little girl in the late 70s!

I think that’s the music news caught up with. I am going out in a bit, to a quiz night, so this won’t be a particularly long blog compared to the previous couple, but it’ll have to do for now! I just wanted to get the Star Wars references in, given today’s date, lol! Otherwise, I know you’d find my lack of blog disturbing! So, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

The Force was strong with these books during this blog entry…

  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry – Various
  • You Took the Last Bus Home – Brian Bilston
  • The Luckiest Guy Alive – John Cooper Clarke
  • Jacob’s Room is Full of Books – Susan Hill
  • Howard’s End is On the Landing – Susan Hill
  • The Rhine – Ben Coates
  • The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher

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Filed under Books, Food & Drink, Football, List Challenges, Music, My Bookworm History, Poetry, School, College & Uni Reading, Science Fiction, Sports, Television

O.U. Pretty Things!

Recent Pixelhobby designs completed – I scanned the photo of King Eric into my software for that kit and just ordered the necessary pixels.

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Well, I did say in my last blog entry that I’d show you some of my completed Pixelhobby kits, so there you have it! I’ve made some keyrings and magnets, too, but those are for another time. This time, enjoy Sydney Harbour, “Amber” the fairy, and King Eric! I have the software on my laptop, so I scanned a suitable Cantona photo into it and then printed off the charts and ordered the pixels I needed. Those other two designs, though, were kits I bought.

Hope  you can all see that and watch the ident. Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the Open University! Yep, the OU has been going since 1969. Even though various members of my family, including my dad and I, have done our degrees at actual physical universities, the OU has had an indirect part in my education, and has certainly been a constant in the background when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, because Dad was ALWAYS watching OU programmes!

Dad graduated when I was a toddler, with his Bachelor’s degree. He was on day release from work to go to Manchester Polytechnic, as it was in those days – it’s now MMU – Manchester Metropolitan University. A bit more about MMU later, but anyway, Dad did his chemistry degree alongside working, and then later also did his Master’s in conjunction with work – when he graduated from the University of Sheffield with his Master’s, I was at university myself, halfway through my degree in Bolton, although I was studying history and literature, rather than chemistry! I was at Bolton Institute, now the University of Bolton, and this summer it will be 25 years since my graduation – the ceremony was in the October, though, so this autumn will be a quarter of a century since I fulfilled my childhood ambition of wearing a cap and gown! That made Dad and I the Three Degrees, lol!

Partial credit for this ambition has to go to comic books, The Dandy and The Beano, which I read in the waiting room at our dental surgery while awaiting a check-up! I guess our former dentist, Norman Hoy, has long since gone to that great dental surgery in the sky, but he was our dentist for absolutely donkey’s years, and when I was waiting for my dental checkup, and usually those of my mum and sister in the same visit, I would be reading these comics and noticing that the teachers in comic strips such as The Bash Street Kids all wore gowns and mortar boards! I was about four years old. If I had started school, I would have been in the reception class at primary school, so I would only just have been starting my formal education, but I thought caps and gowns looked ace! I decided I wanted in on that!

So, the next thing that would have happened, probably around the same time, would have been to see actual people on the telly wearing caps and gowns, which happened one day when I was still around this young age, still only about 4… I am guessing that this might have been an Open University programme about people graduating from the courses that they ran, having watched a lot of the programmes that my dad seemed to watch for his entertainment! I guess, because he already had a degree, and worked for a chemical firm, and actually worked in the labs when I was little, the science programmes were of particular interest to him. I asked Dad if the people wearing caps and gowns were teachers. This is when he explained to me that wearing a cap and gown didn’t necessarily mean you were a teacher, although some of those graduates may well have gone on to become teachers – it simply meant they’d been to university and got a degree. So, that’s basically what started my childhood ambition!

I had no idea at that time what, if anything, I would be good at! As I said, I might not even have started school at that point, so I had no idea about school subjects. I did know that I liked books, and I was a fluent reader by the time I started school in the autumn of 1977, but I just knew I had to be brainy, and the more subjects I turned out to be good at, the more choice I would have of what I could feasibly study up to the age of 21 or more! It was indeed up to 21, and I graduated 25 years ago with a BA (Hons) Combined Studies degree in history and literature (joint). I got a “Desmond” – a 2:2, lol!

I’d better actually write something about books, hadn’t I?! However, I couldn’t go without mentioning the Open University’s birthday, as the TV programmes are part of the soundtrack of my life, part of growing up. Especially that ident and that fanfare. It is also a huge reminder of Dad.

I also suspect that it’s the OU that’s responsible for broadcasting the programme which got me into volcanoes! By that time, I think I would have been around 7 or 8, I was certainly in the first year juniors at primary school, what is now known as year 3 in the national curriculum. It was a programme which was on telly late at night, on BBC2, which makes me suspect it was the Open University, so it was probably shown for a geology degree or something. Anyway, Dad thought it would be of interest to me, and he knew I was a night owl, lol, so he let me come down to watch this programme with him. I had never seen an erupting volcano before, and I was fascinated!

There aren’t any volcanoes where I’m going on holiday (vacation) this year, which will come as a relief to many who suspect that I’m some sort of volcano goddess who goes around standing on them and causing them to erupt! Look, just because that happened when I stood on Mount Etna in 2001, that does NOT make me Volcano Woman! Reunion does have an active volcano, Piton de la Fournaise, but, as far as I’m aware, Mauritius doesn’t. Anyway, surely a volcano goddess would actually hail from a part of the world which does have at least one active volcano? That would rule out the United Kingdom, then!

Anyway, this talk of jollies, does bring me on to a book at last, you’ll be pleased to hear! I don’t know if you’re aware of Bloomsbury’s non-fiction Object Lessons series or not, but this is a series of small, short books which take ordinary, everyday objects, and delve into the history of them and popular mythology around them. The book I am reading is Souvenir, by Rolf Potts. It has an Eiffel Tower keyring on the cover. Keyrings are one of the items I tend to seek out when I’m on my travels, along with magnets and postcards. There are other items as well, but those three things usually top my list of holiday artefacts to purchase and bring home as a reminder of my jollies!

The book by Rolf Potts is most likely to be my second finish of the year. As I said in the last blog, just before my birthday, I am not doing the Goodreads Challenge this year. I hadn’t started it when 2019 started as I was in a reading slump anyway since the end of 2018. Then, twelve days into the new year, I lost my dad, so add bereavement to a book slump and it’s a recipe for not getting much read! This is why I’m only just feeling like reading a bit again now, and as with several previous slumps, it seems to be factual books which are helping me back to reading. It always seems to be non-fiction with me, although in 2015, there were two books which helped me, and one of those was fiction, that being The Art of Racing In the Rain, by Garth Stein. The non-fiction book was Why the Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates. I actually have another book by Mr Coates, which I did start just before I went into the book slump. The Rhine, as the title suggests, is about the river which runs through a large swathe of Europe and passes through several countries, actually more countries than I suspected! We lived on the banks of the Rhine way back in 1978 when we lived in Basel, Switzerland, for six months because of Dad’s job, so I really should read that book, although it might make me sad as Dad’s not here for me to lend it to once I’ve read it, and I know he would probably have been interested.

I did mention, earlier, that I would return to the matter of Manchester Metropolitan University, and I do so now with some news from the literary world this past week. Although some posts on social media called it a sequel, the writing of Anthony Burgess which has been found at MMU is NOT a sequel to A Clockwork Orange, but more a non-fiction explanation of the novel, including how the title came about. It is not known, as yet, whether this stuff will be published, but it has at least been found, having previously been thought lost. The film version was released in 1971, but then withdrawn in 1973 at the director’s request when Stanley Kubrick heard about cases where violent incidents in the film had been copied. It was re-released in 1999 after Kubrick died.

Anyway, back to the book situation, and I will obviously have to think about what I am taking on holiday with me when I jet off, as it won’t be too long now. I will be taking my Kindle Paperwhite, so I have plenty of ebooks on that, but I’m sure there might be one or two paperbacks coming with me, and who knows what books I might find while I’m away?! It’s not unusual, as Sir Tom Jones would put it, lol, to acquire a book on my jollies! The best instance of this, so far, was in 2013 when I was in Mexico, and I found the brilliant Attention All Shipping, by Charlie Connelly, at the resort! This is a journey around the Shipping Forecast and it is very funny as well as informative, especially a certain part towards the end which mentions Faroese puffins! No more spoilers, I promise – just read it! I have actually seen it in charity shops in the past, so you might even be able to nab yourself a cheap copy of this book and help some good cause or other at the same time!

One book which probably won’t be coming on any holiday any time soon is The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon, due to its extreme chunkiness! It is a true chunky monkey, that one! Beautiful cover, though! Over 700 pages of novel, over 800 pages in total given the glossaries and maps, and it’s a hardback, so, no, it’s probably not going to be going in the suitcase despite the generous weight allowance and the fact I’ll be away for a fortnight! It’s just not practical! I know I took Dune, by Frank Herbert, to Cape Verde with me last summer, but even that one was not as large and bulky as the Samantha Shannon novel! I took Dune so that I could read it on a dune in June! I suppose I could take Dune again… I’m away for quite some time this time, travelling time and actual holiday time… and the resort where we’ll be staying boasts three beaches, so there’s scope to read Dune on a dune in June, and maybe read more of it this time round…

By the way, if any of you read The Priory of the Orange Tree either at a priory, or even underneath an orange tree, feel free to post photographic evidence! I will give a mention for anyone’s Relevant Reads! Perhaps you’ve read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in a tailor’s shop? Maybe you’ve been reading Kitchen Confidential in a kitchen? Please do feel free to join in and interact with this blog! I couldn’t care less if it’s fiction or non-fiction. Maybe it’s a children’s book? Maybe it’s a poetry anthology? Perhaps you’ve read You Took the Last Bus Home on the last bus home?! I can recommend that anthology, by the way – you’ll probably recognise some of the poems, as they’ve appeared on social media in the past few years, written by a guy called Brian Bilston. If you like the poetry of Roger McGough and or John Cooper Clarke, you might like Brian Bilston. I happen to like all those poets! I’d recommend The Luckiest Guy Alive by John Cooper Clarke, and Watch Words by Roger McGough, which is a book of my dad’s that I bagsied when I was a kid. I discovered it by chance when I was around 10 or 11, I think, in our dining room cabinet, and that was that!

He did have an appreciation for literature, even though his degrees were scientific. He studied chemistry because that was his job, and it did obviously interest him, hence all the Open University science and maths programmes he watched, which I mentioned earlier in this blog, but Dad also had a love for poetry. I bagsied the rest of his poetry books back when he and Mum split up, back in 2004, so I have had those for a long time now, it wasn’t a case of reclaiming them after he died earlier this year.

One book of my dad’s I would have liked to have reclaimed, but it wasn’t amongst his stuff when we picked up several crates of his belongings, was the book I bought him for his 70th birthday, which was John le Carré: the Biography, by Adam Sisman. It would, however, have had to have been that copy, as I wrote in it at the front for the occasion of his Big 70 in 2017. If it’s been given away and is in some charity shop, probably in the Macclesfield area of Cheshire, could someone please alert me? Ta! Pretty unlikely that I’ll get it now, but if there is a chance, I might as well have back what I got for my dad as another reminder of him. I would have written my birthday dedication to him somewhere near the front of the book, probably inside the front cover, and it’d be dated September 2017 and wishing my dad a happy 70th birthday.

Well, I think that’s about all for now. Plenty to be getting on with, lol! So, until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Souvenir – Rolf Potts
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Why the Dutch Are Different – Ben Coates
  • The Rhine – Ben Coates
  • A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John le Carré
  • Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  • You Took the Last Bus Home – Brian Bilston
  • The Luckiest Guy Alive – John Cooper Clarke
  • Watch Words – Roger McGough
  • John le Carre: the Biography – Adam Sisman

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September Review: Books, Bags, Pixels…

Planet Earth finished Sept 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Time once more for a monthly review of the stuff I’ve been getting up to, and it does include two books being finished off this month, one ebook and one paperback. It also includes a lot of loom knitting and a not inconsiderable amount of fiddly little pixels, lol! As you can see from the above photo! I am not sure when I last blogged, it might have been just before I went to the craft show, in which case you wouldn’t have known about the pixels as I discovered them by chance at the Creative Crafts Show on 8th September.

I had gone there looking for wool and for loom knitting stuff, and I certainly found some wool, but I chanced upon a stall run by The Craft Dookit, which was offering Pixelhobby kits and accessories and where you could do a make and take pixellated keyring! So, I paid the necessary and made a keyring, choosing a snowman design. I also bought some other kits while I was there, some keyrings and magnets, and the Planet Earth kit which you can see at the top. Yeah, before you ask, it did make me think of the Duran Duran song, but I guess you worked that out, knowing what an 80s girl I am, lol!

The Planet Earth kit does look very science fiction, doesn’t it?!

Not that there has been any science fiction read in September. Both the books I finished this month have been non-fiction, those being Your Eighties, by Sarah Lewis, on my Kindle, and Good As You, by Paul Flynn, in paperback, celebrating 30 years of Gay Britain and covering the three decades from 1984 and the release of both “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat, to 2014 and the go-ahead for gay weddings here in the UK. Not only did I love all the 80s music references, but a lot of the book focused on events up here in Manchester, so there were plenty of mentions for places I know. As I think I may have mentioned in previous blogs, I had a work placement in the late 90s, where the office was on the edge of the Gay Village, so I am not unfamiliar with that part of town.

I really need to get on with Snap, by Belinda Bauer, as I need to get a decent amount of it read for 16th October, and have just over a fortnight. I also need to get on with What Does This Button Do? That’s the autobiography of Iron Maiden frontman, Bruce Dickinson, and it’s the one my friend Sarah has lent me, so I need to get it read before we go to see Madness in December at the Manchester Arena. Two months to get on with it. May have to do some each night. It’s a hardback, so I don’t really want to be lugging it around, and wouldn’t want anything to happen to it anyway, as it isn’t my book.

The next book for the book club at work is Salmon Fishing In the Yemen, by Paul Torday. I haven’t actually read that one before, although I’ve had a copy for some time now. All the previous work book club choices have been re-reads for me, but this one isn’t. On the Kindle, there’s a couple of books which I am reading, and may well be my post-match reading matter. I’m already reading them at lunchtime at work, though. The Eighties: One Day, One Decade, by Dylan Jones, is about the Live Aid gig on 13th July 1985, so that’s my 80s music fix sorted, and Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading, by Lucy Mangan, is a book about books, so also right up my street! I was 12 when Live Aid took place, and was watching it on my telly. I still think, however cheesy it might sound, that “Rockin’ All Over The World” by Status Quo was the most appropriate song with which to open that gig! I have the DVD set of Live Aid. It has everything on it except Led Zeppelin, as they thought their performance was so bad that they didn’t want it on the box set because they were too embarrassed!

Sometimes I feel like I would be better off reading during the bloody match, though! Just keeping everything crossed that Jose gets the boot sooner rather than later! How can the board justify him remaining as manager when we’re losing?! It’s apparently our worst start to a Premier League season. Yes, that’s right. Even worse than under Moyesy in 2013-14! And Moyes was out of his depth as our manager, so the so-called “Special One” (more like the Boring One) being worse than Moyesy…

I know you can’t entertain ALL the time, but we can and should be able to expect our team to entertain MOST of the time! The style of play is shite, to use a technical term, and it’s not even as if it’s getting the results, is it?! It’s not even effective! The players hate it, the fans hate it… and if we don’t do well enough in the league, the business partners aren’t gonna like it either, so if that’s all the bloody directors think about, they need to wake up and smell the coffee because they NEED the performances on the pitch to be winning and attractive in order for the performances on the financial front to be good too! Whatever it costs to sack Jose and pay him off would be worth it if we can get a manager in who does things the right way! Get back to attack-minded football, give our forwards and midfielders free rein to entertain and bang in the goals, bring up a few more from the youth team, and only criticise players in private!

Defend in public, throw the teacups behind closed doors! That’s how you get players on board, that’s how you retain their trust! Then they know that even if they’ve had a total ‘mare and they know they’re going to get the hairdryer treatment, as it was known when Sir Alex was manager, they know that the gaffer will stick up for them in the press conference, and the kick up the arse will only happen either in the dressing room, or in the manager’s office at the training ground. That is the way things SHOULD be done! I wouldn’t mind if the manager came out with Arsene Wenger’s old catchphrase and told the press that he didn’t see the incident! Wenger, like Fergie, knew how to treat players. That’s why he was Arsenal’s manager for over 20 years.

Pixel piano and owl

Anyway, enough of that. Back to the crafts, I think. Obviously, the pixels have been a big part of this month’s creativity, especially as one of my orders arrived on Wednesday, from Crafter’s Cavern. I’m still awaiting an order from The Craft Dookit, though, with a couple of kits. As I have done cross-stitch, there is a similarity, although you’re putting diddy little pixels onto baseplates rather than threading some floss and stitching it onto aida or evenweave. The pixel shades all have colour codes, so in that respect it’s similar to stitching! There are keyrings, which are 11 pixels by 14, little squares which are 24 by 24, and standard baseplates, which are 40 by 50 pixels. You can also get XL pixels which cover 4 prongs on a baseplate (2 by 2) and are less fiddly – you can put those in by hand rather than needing tweezers!

That’s the latest finished bag, by the way! I have now started another, although the second picture shows an earlier picture of the scarf I have started. The cream wool is now being used for my latest bag, as I’m onto brown wool on the scarf – I have two huge balls of this stuff, one cream, one brown, it has a bit of a towelling feel to it, Bernat Blanket it’s called, and I’m alternating colours, about 12cm of one, then I change over to the other. On my second lot of brown now. I think of it as coffee and cream. As well as finishing  the bag, I also finished a purple snood.

That’s the snood on the left. On the right is my niece, taking after me on the music front as well as being Junior Bookworm! I came home from work one night this week to be treated to a violin recital from Charlotte! She’s just got a new violin – gone from a quarter-sized one to a half-sized one now that she’s bigger. She’s really good at playing, really fluent with it, and played us a few tunes, including the Can Can! I will be busy this coming week getting a card and gift wrap – it’s nearly my nephew’s 2nd birthday, and we’ll be having the party next weekend! Reuben also likes books, as well as diggers and dinosaurs! I understand he is also partial to Thomas the Tank Engine! Anyway, Auntie Jo is going to be busy!

Oh, and Slimming World. Nearly forgot. I have now lost over 1 and a half stones! The Monday after the craft show, I reached that particular milestone exactly, and have dropped another 3lbs since then, so I’m only 4lbs off a 2 stone loss… that’s my next aim. I have changed my target weight. I may yet change again, but at the moment it is a weight that would give me a 2 and a half stone loss in total from what I started at when I first got on the scales on my sister’s birthday in June!

I think that’s about it for now. I’ve probably covered everything… Books, loom knitting, pixels, footy, music, Reuben’s birthday, Slimming World… yep, that’s pretty much it… Hopefully there will be a Waterstone’s book club to report on in October, everything crossed for 16th October and for a few people to turn up! Until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Your Eighties – Sarah Lewis
  • Good As You – Paul Flynn
  • Snap – Belinda Bauer
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • Salmon Fishing In the Yemen – Paul Torday
  • The Eighties: One Day One Decade – Dylan Jones
  • Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading – Lucy Mangan

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Mixed Bag on the Book Front

August 2018 finishes part 1

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

As the title suggests, there’s been mixed news on the book front, and in the photo above, you will see two of the four books I have finished so far this month! Yep, August has been good thus far when it comes to finishing books, and I loved both Notes On a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig, and The Man I Think I Know, by Mike Gayle – indeed, I have commented on Instagram to let him know I loved the book and would like a sequel! I have to say that there were times when I thought James DeWitt’s parents needed to go on the Literary Slap List, though! Probably a spoiler alert here, but I was chuffed for James when I got to the bit where he stood up to them and essentially told them to stop patronising him! Would definitely recommend either or both books to anyone!

Yesterday, I got two more polished off, finishing Wigs On the Green, by Nancy Mitford, and then a nice quick, short read, that being The Lady In the Van, by Alan Bennett. Enjoyed both of those as well, although more 3-4 stars rather than the Matt Haig and Mike Gayle books which would get 5 stars each from me.

August 2018 finishes part 2

So, we’re now at 23 out of 30 on the Goodreads Challenge for this year, and hopefully I will be able to make it at least to target. I didn’t want to set a ridiculous amount of books, bearing in mind that I’m working full-time and have to fit reading in at lunchtimes, evenings and weekends, when I’m not doing other stuff, such as getting weighed, going to the gym, or going to matches – although don’t start me on that! Not until the Boring Bus-Parking Pillock gets sacked! Please keep your fingers crossed for me that this happens sooner rather than later, and that we go for a proper manager – you know, one who encourages attack-minded football, promotes more players from the youth team, and who doesn’t criticise players in public! Someone who’s rather more like that nice Scottish bloke we had for 26 and a half years from November 1986 to May 2013 would be good… hint hint!

Returning to Wigs On the Green for a moment, as I need to mention the less than wonderful news on the book front – that there was only me at book club on Wednesday! I didn’t get Stephanie’s message until after the event that she wasn’t going to be able to make it, so I didn’t get to discuss Nancy Mitford with her, unfortunately. I was left feeling very upset and very angry on Wednesday and into Thursday. I have given Waterstone’s Deansgate a piece of my mind via Messenger, but they haven’t got back to me yet. I told them that I felt they’d abandoned us, and that the dwindling numbers of people attending in the last year or so since Emma stepped down and no-one took over from her proved that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way!

You’d think a bookstore would WANT to have a book club and be proud of it, and promote it as a regular event at that branch, wouldn’t you? Indeed, they used to, which makes it all the more baffling that they stopped doing so. Also, what makes it worse, is that it seems to have fallen on me to try to keep things going, and I am obviously crap at persuading people! I’ve emailed, I’ve put it on our social media platform at work to try to drum up interest, and I get one or two hinting that they’re interested, but then they don’t bloody turn up… Beyond pissed-off! This book club needs someone who is GOOD at persuading people, and that person is NOT me! I am good at a lot of things, but that is not one of them! To use a technical term, I am shite at that sort of thing! I need someone else on board to do that! (Firm believer that everyone should play to their strengths, and persuasion is not really one of mine. Persuasion is, however, a novel by Jane Austen, and one which I read some years ago – for book club, ironically enough, lol!)

I don’t even see how it’s such a problem to maintain a book club and provide a member of staff to run it. They were doing it for a good 8 years or so, and it’s not as though it was that frequent a pull on their resources! All they need to do is make ONE member of staff available for ONE hour from 6pm to 7pm for ONE evening roughly every month! Is that really too much of a demand?! Every 4 to 5 weeks, we would need one person to run a book club meeting for one hour! We don’t need the shop shutting to everyone else, we meet up in the coffee shop area, anyone is welcome to join, and we are hardly asking for some all-day event! It takes more members of staff to assist with an author event when someone comes in to read from and sign copies of their book, for crying out loud!

Waterstone’s Deansgate management – you should be ASHAMED of yourselves!

(They still haven’t got back to me yet. Not even with a shitload of flimsy excuses for no longer providing a member of staff to run our book club!)

Anyway, back to more pleasant things on the book front, and you know that I do List Challenges and see how many books on other people’s lists I’ve managed to read, or at least half-read in my uni days, lol, plus I also create lists of my own, such as the one which goes with these blogs and lists all the books I mention on here for a year! I feel a bit “late” for those lists of Books You Should Read Before You Turn 30 or even 40, as I’m 45 now, lol, but I’ve just been through one of Books You Should Read Before You’re 80, and I’d read or at least half-read 67 of them, which isn’t too shabby! It always depends on whether that other person has the same tastes in books, doesn’t it?! It was quite a long list, and did contain quite a few of my favourites, such as The Book Thief, Girl With a Pearl Earring, and The Art of Racing In the Rain, though, so whoever compiled that list has got good taste in books! As for the actual list for this blog, the current one is at 247 books, although there will be more by the time I’m finished with this blog entry, as I will be mentioning a few more books that I’m pretty certain haven’t featured on the 2018 list so far… Anyway, another challenge for you, and I’m posting a blank one for you to fill in, plus my list of answers…

Right, OK… French Revolutions is now 68% read, and Twisting My Melon is on 55% as I recall, but now that the Mike Gayle book has been finished, which I was reading in both paperback and ebook formats, I can return to Shaun Ryder on my way home from matches. Rather tempted to get the Kindle app on my mobile and actually read during matches given the bus-parking we Reds are subjected to under the current manager…

I am going to be focusing more on What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson, especially as there may not be a book club any more and I might as well focus on the one deadline I do have – to get a book read before I give it back to my friend Sarah when she comes in December to see Madness with me at the Manchester Arena! It’s a hardback, so it will be for reading at home, really.

August 2018 purchases part 1

I picked these up on Wednesday, after hanging around for 45 minutes in the coffee shop area hoping I would have a book club meeting… I think The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, is short stories. The Antidote, by Oliver Burkeman, is non-fiction, possibly psychology, and appealed to me due to my oft-stated dislike of many of the self-help books available on the grounds of them being unrealistic. Some peoples’ idea of positive thinking is my idea of delusion and fantasy! If these books were realistic, if they encouraged positive thinking within the constraints of the world we live in, that would be fair enough, but all they do is get people’s hopes up, that something is going to happen which is at best a flying pig situation, and then people just end up disappointed. Personally, I think getting people’s hopes up is a shitty thing to do to people!

They are the book equivalent of sports “journalists” coming out with all that bollocks about Cristiano Ronaldo returning to United, which happened every damn transfer window for years! In other words, just a con to get money out of people and get their hopes up over something which would probably only happen once Hell had frozen over and hosted the Winter Olympics!

Cynicism is your friend! Trust me on this! If you lean towards cynicism, and tend not to believe much of what you hear or read, you are much less likely to be taken for a ride, and thus much less likely to end up feeling disappointed! A good level of education also helps. The more you use your brain, the less likely you are to be conned.

August 2018 purchases part 2

Right, OK, and another batch of books, but be fair – three of them were only £3 each! The bargains were The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown, ostensibly a kid’s book, but you know I do not give an airborne copulation about that, The German Girl, by Armando Lucas Correa, and The Massacre of Mankind, by Stephen Baxter, which is a sequel to The War of The Worlds, by H. G. Wells, which I read earlier this year. The less cheap one is Good As You, by Paul Flynn, which seemed apt with Pride coming up here in Manchester next weekend, and as many of my fave singers are gay, or were in the case of Freddie Mercury and George Michael, I figured there would be a lot of mention of some of my favourite music! It covers the time from 1984, the year of both “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat, up to 2014, and the start of gay weddings here in the UK (although civil partnerships had already got the go ahead some years previously and Sir Elton John was one of the first celebs to have one.) Should be a good read!

Loom knitted hats as of 19th August 2018

These are hats, in case you were wondering! Well, they will be, all being well, when they’re finished! One of my other things besides reading. Chunky wool for both of them, and circular looms. Craft show coming up at Event City, near the Trafford Centre, in September, so I might go to that, even if only to get some advice on casting off. I’m still pretty new to this, and I watch YouTube videos to see how to do stuff, but there are times I think I could do with someone showing me in person. Some things I don’t always “get” without someone there to show me.

Well, I think that’s about it for now, so until the next time I’m back with another blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Notes On a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
  • The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • Wigs On the Green – Nancy Mitford
  • The Lady In the Van – Alan Bennett
  • Persuasion – Jane Austen
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain – Garth Stein
  • French Revolutions – Tim Moore
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
  • The Antidote – Oliver Burkeman
  • The Wild Robot – Peter Brown
  • The German Girl – Armando Lucas Correa
  • The Massacre of Mankind – Stephen Baxter
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • Good As You – Paul Flynn

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Always Know Where Your Towel Is!

Benefits of books

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Me again! Chief Bookworm is back, although this is probably going to be a minor update and a fair bit of random drivel, so fasten your seatbelts for this blog! Personally, I don’t see dog ears as a benefit of books – I think you should use a bookmark! And I have a Kindle, indeed I have two, my old one and my Paperwhite, and can confirm I have never had adverts pop up when I’ve been reading. That just tends to happen when you’re on Facebook and you click on some article to read, and you get stupid ads on that website getting in the way of the writing, but that’s not a book problem, that’s an internet problem!

There are also some perks to ebooks, though, such as being able to store shitloads of books on one device, and the ability to change font size, which you can’t do with a paperback or hardback, and which comes in handy for anyone with visual impairment who needs large print, or if your eyes are simply a bit tired and maybe you want a larger font temporarily. There’s also some good offers on with ebooks, daily deals and suchlike, and many of the classics of literature are often free as they were written so long ago that they are out of copyright. So, if you fancy some Austen, Dickens or one of the Brontë sisters, and you have a Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or other electronic reading device, you should be able to download them for absolutely nought pounds and nought pence, or zero dollars and zero cents if you’re across the Atlantic from me!

Right, other various bits and bobs of news…

Slimming World Stone lost 6th August 2018

Chief Bookworm has lost a stone! I think I did mention, in my last blog entry, that I needed to lose 2lbs at tonight’s weigh-in to have shifted my first stone, and I actually lost 2 and a half pounds, so I’ve lost a stone and half a pound since I started 6 weeks ago on my sister’s birthday! I’ll probably have a few pairs of baggy trousers soon, and that’s well before I go to see Madness in December with my friend Sarah, lol!

As we’re on 6th August, many happy returns to one of my favourite footballers of recent times, as Robin van Persie is 35 today! RvP, along with Carrick, was hugely responsible for helping my lads win their 20th league title in 2013, particularly as Robin scored a hat-trick at home to Aston Villa the night before my 40th birthday to get the title race wrapped up with 4 games to spare that season! I just wish the bus-parking eejit currently in the managerial hot seat would park his damn bus as far away from Old Trafford as possible, and that we could get a manager who will deliver our 21st title! You do NOT win the league over here by being a cure for insomnia!

Oh, and, sort of loosely related, as it does pertain to sport and exercise, I have finally got around to joining the local leisure centres – I say that as a plural because if you purchase membership, there are 8 centres located around the Salford area and you can go to any of them to make use of their facilities! I went a couple of times last week for workouts after I had joined and had my induction, and I will be going tomorrow after work. Got some kit together, including a big pink IN Salford towel! As it says in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by the late great Douglas Adams, you should always know where your towel is! If you do, that makes you a frood!

“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a brush but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

So, there’s just a section of what the Guide says about towels! Actually, I have a biography of the late Douglas Adams, by Jem Roberts, entitled The Frood, so I might get around to reading that eventually, lol! Not right now, though, as I’ve got plenty on my Ongoing Concerns list and I really need to get a few books off the list!

Wigs On the Green is a priority, need to try to get that read by next Wednesday, so going to have to push that on a bit. Maybe I could read while having a workout? OK, not on a treadmill, I don’t think that would be safe if I got so engrossed in a book I forgot to keep walking, but I reckon I could get away with it on an exercise bike! After all, you just sit there and you’re in control of the speed on those… it’s up to you how fast or how slowly you pedal, so you could feasibly set a workout time, listen to your workout playlist on your phone and have a good read as you cycle away on your stationary bike! Actually, the most appropriate read would be French Revolutions, by Tim Moore, as that’s about cycling the route of the Tour de France! I have Sir Bradley Wiggins‘ autobiography, My Time, lurking somewhere, I’m pretty sure, so that could be a future read while on an exercise bike, lol!

Right, I’ve found Wiggo’s book, and also Unbelievable, by Jessica Ennis-Hill, and some books about the Olympics, lol! The First London Olympics 1908, by Rebecca Jenkins, and The Games, by David Goldblatt. Also, lurking on my bass amp, is Twin Ambitions, by Sir Mo Farah, and I also have the autobiography of Greg Rutherford, Team GB’s Olympic long jump champion from London 2012. Unexpected is in my book chest in the garage, I think. A fair few sports books to be getting on with when I finish laughing my arse off over Tim Moore‘s attempts to cycle the route of the Tour de France and deal with other French road-users, actually, come to think of it, French people in general… This book is definitely going to join the list of books I’ve laughed my arse off while reading! I thought Nul Points was funny, but this is just bloody hilarious! If you want a damn good laugh, read French Revolutions!

Books I've Read 1

That’s a template for you all, by the way! Save it to your computers, print it out and use it for your book journals – I found it the other day and that page has 30 books, so perhaps you could do your all-time top 30 favourite books? Or a genre, such as your top 30 fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, romance, horror, crime, Young Adult, etc… You might want to do your Top 30 books about music or about sport, or travel… or your top 30 books that made you laugh, or that made you cry! All entirely up to you, but see what you can do with it! I could probably fill a page with books which made me laugh! One of the reasons I read is to be amused! I like to be entertained, and I like to learn new stuff, but I do have a thing for books which promise a damn good laugh!

It was probably around this time in 2010 that I first started this blog, so consider the template a treat from me to celebrate my 8th Book Blog Anniversary! It has grown quite a bit in these eight years – I now have over 70 followers who subscribe to my random waffle which also happens to mention book-related stuff, ha ha!

Anyway, I think that’s about enough utter drivel for now, and let’s be fair – I have mentioned a few books on here tonight after all, lol! When I’ve made some more progress on the OC List, I’ll probably be back again with a further report… Until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books read in this blog entry…

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (The Trilogy of Four) – Douglas Adams
  • The Frood – Jem Roberts
  • Wigs On the Green – Nancy Mitford
  • French Revolutions – Tim Moore
  • My Time – Sir Bradley Wiggins
  • Unbelievable – Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill
  • The First London Olympics 1908 – Rebecca Jenkins
  • The Games – David Goldblatt
  • Twin Ambitions – Sir Mo Farah
  • Unexpected – Greg Rutherford

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Filed under Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Football, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Humour, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Olympic Games, Ongoing Concerns, Science Fiction, Sports, Travel