Category Archives: Television

July Review – Out of the Slump

Book finished July 2018

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

Last day of July, so it’s review time, and this makes it a 3rd blog for the month! Yay! Plus a book finished and a bookmark made – that being the red woolly one I made on my afro comb, which you saw with my copy of Wigs On the Green, by Nancy Mitford, in my previous blog! That book, as I mentioned recently, is a third of the way through, 34% read, and there are two weeks to go to my book club at Waterstone’s on Deansgate, or there will be tomorrow, anyway! Next aim for that one is to get it to 50% read.

Anyway, I finished Ego Is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday, so for the first time since early May, I’ve had an addition to my Goodreads Challenge list, now at 19/30, and it has been worth doing some Bookstagramming! I have also had to update unpublished lists on List Challenges, besides the one I do for this blog, which you will get to see either at the end of December or the start of 2019! The list is already over 200 books long, 227 as I type this part, but I will be adding to that with this blog, probably.

Yesterday, 30th July, Emily Brontë would have been 200! I studied Wuthering Heights when I was at uni, way back in the early to mid 90s, but have to admit I found it a struggle, and when it comes to works by the Brontë sisters that I have read, I must say I found Jane Eyre, by her sister Charlotte, an easier read. I read that one way back when I was in the 3rd year at high school, what would now be known as Year 9. When it comes to Wuthering Heights, I do like the song by Kate Bush, lol! Kate herself had a special birthday yesterday, too – her Big 60!

Right, anyway, never mind all that, time to get on with the book review for July… I’m thinking of taking Hawksmoor off the OC List or only mentioning it if I make any further progress with it. It’s been stuck at 58% read for ages now, so unless I move it on a bit, is it really worth mentioning? With the new footy season almost upon us, there’s every likelihood that I’ll be returning to Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, which was at 55% after the last time I read some of it, but if we have to wait ages in the car to get out of the Old Trafford car park after a match, then I can see Shaun getting off my OC list by the end of the calendar year, and another ebook being finished. As I mentioned in my previous blog, my season ticket arrived last week – a sure sign that another Premier League campaign is on the horizon!

Talking of United, Shaun Ryder and all things Manc, the bees are in town! I know I have mentioned this earlier this year, but now town is a hive of activity due to Bee In the City! I know we often say that town is “buzzin'” but it really is at the moment, and the giant bees are here until around 23rd September. I shall have to go into town and have a shufty! Perhaps this weekend.

Returning to ebooks for a moment, Fire Woman by Josephine Reynolds is on 25% read, that being the account of Britain’s first female firefighter. The other book that I’ve got ongoing as an ebook is one where I’m doing it part ebook part paperback as I have both formats for this novel – that book being The Man I Think I Know, by Mike Gayle, which I discovered recently thanks to the Zoe Ball Book Club on telly (Sunday mornings on ITV – I record it on Sky+ as I’m usually having a lie-in, lol!). The Mike Gayle novel is at 18% at the mo, although I’m thinking that’s what I’m going to read once I’ve finished this blog! I am giving books a bit of a push… how much of a particular book I can read in half an hour, that sort of thing…

I mentioned Notes on a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig, in my last blog, and I started reading that last night, getting 22% of it read in the wee small hours, and improving slightly on that before starting this blog, by getting it to the 26% mark! Also at 26% is French Revolutions, by Tim Moore. This is the guy whose book, Nul Points, about the acts which failed to register any votes in the Eurovision Song Contest, I read and enjoyed last year, and in this one, which had been knocking around my room for a while, he gets the mad idea to cycle the Tour de France route! As we’ve just had the Tour de France, won by Welshman, Geraint Thomas, I thought it would be an appropriate read.

Woolly stuff 2018

As well as my red bookmark, this is some of my other stuff – ongoing items on my improvised looms. This just gives you an idea of some of the other things I get up to when I’m not reading! One of the other things I’m up to is making some attempt at shifting the pounds, and I had lost two and a half pounds yesterday evening at Slimming World, and need only two more pounds off to have lost my first stone!

Recent purchases 25 July 2018

Some recent purchases there, which I forgot to mention in the previous blog, apart from the Mike Gayle book. As with Gayle‘s novel, Dark Pines, by Will Dean, is also one of the books which has been reviewed on Zoe Ball’s TV programme. That one is in the “Scandi crime” genre, and features a deaf protagonist, which is an unusual angle. Three Things About Elsie is the second novel by Joanna Cannon, who I met a couple of years ago when she was signing copies of her début novel, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep. You might also be familiar with the name of Mohsin Hamid, as he has had a few novels published, most notably, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which I read and enjoyed some years ago now. Exit West piqued my interest because of its plot, in which black doors are rumoured to appear and people who walk through them leave one city and enter a different one! Sounds intriguing!

Books and coffee July 2018

Technically, we’re now on for 1st August, but this is still the July Review, and I still have a few more books to mention before I get this published. I think I may have listed a book called The Note not too long ago, a novel by Zoë Folbigg. Anyway, The Distance, also by the same author, was one of my purchases last week, along with The 1,000 Year Old Boy, by Ross Welford, and The Boy At the Back of the Class, by Onjali Q Rauf. Those two are essentially children’s books, but you probably already figured out how many shits I give about stuff like that! If it sounds like a good read, I’m up for it! The only books which need an age restriction are ones containing adult material – erotic novels, in other words, but unless there’s a lot of sex involved, the beauty of most books is that they’re open to all ages!

That’s about it now for the July Review, I’ve mentioned a lot of books, and given progress updates, so until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading! Oh, and keep cool, as the heatwave’s supposed to be returning!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Wigs On the Green – Nancy Mitford
  • Ego Is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Fire Woman – Josephine Reynolds
  • The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • Notes On a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
  • French Revolutions – Tim Moore
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • Dark Pines – Will Dean
  • Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid
  • Exit West – Mohsin Hamid
  • The Note – Zoë Folbigg
  • The Distance – Zoë Folbigg
  • The 1,000 Year Old Boy – Ross Welford
  • The Boy At the Back of the Class – Onjali Q. Rauf
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Instructions For a Heatwave

Recent purchases July 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Ooh, it’s sticky weather, as Peter Kay would say! It’s just gone 10pm here, as I start this blog entry, and it is still boiling. Hence the blog title, Instructions For a Heatwave, which is actually a novel by Maggie O’Farrell. I think that book is set 42 years ago, back in 1976, which is what this year is being compared with, lol! Talking of reads set in the Long Hot Summer of ’76, there’s also The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, by Joanna Cannon, and Summer of ’76 by Isabel Ashdown. So, grab a cold drink, possibly an ice cream or a lolly, and chill out with a good book! Get some 70s music on, too! Bit of Abba should do the trick, lol!

Right, so… World Cup’s over, won by France, and what a brilliant final they and Croatia served up, eh?! Best World Cup Final for bloody years, unlike some of the boring ones of recent times which had just one goal and went to extra time before that happened… It wasn’t coming home, though, for England, sadly, but under Gareth Southgate (and his M&S waistcoat), the Three Lions equalled their best World Cup finish in my lifetime, and the joint-second-best of all-time, finishing 4th, as they had done way back in the summer of 1990! The previous time we’d got to the semis in the World Cup, it was taking place in Italy, I was old enough to learn to drive, but not quite old enough to drink or vote until the following April! I was at Eccles College and coming towards the end of my first year there, so halfway through my Bastard A-Levels! For anyone who doesn’t know, A-Levels are awful! They certainly were back in the early 90s when I was doing mine. My degree was easier!

They are also a very good example of why getting out of your comfort zone is NOT always a good idea! I know I went off French at A Level, but I look back at the other subjects I did at college, which were totally new to me in the autumn of 1989 when I started there, and I think I should have stuck to what I knew. If you do stray from that comfort zone, don’t go far. Imagine the comfort zone to be a house and a back garden. At the bottom of the path alongside the lawn, there is a fence and a little gate. Even if you undo the latch and open the gate to step outside, you are still in familiar territory. Do new stuff, but stuff which isn’t too dissimilar from things you already know how to do! Out of your comfort zone, but not out of your depth.

Take, for example, me learning another new musical instrument. I would have to learn the notes and the techniques for playing the new instrument. However, as I can already read music, and have had plenty of experience of playing in ensembles before, it would not be a completely new thing for me, and I would think, with my track record of learning instruments, that I would be able to reach a decent standard of proficiency.

Right, anyway, after the mini slump since early May, you’ll be pleased to learn that I have recently finished another book! Ego Is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday, was finished off last Saturday, making it book number 19 for this year. Funny how non-fiction seems to help me get out of book slumps! Three years ago, towards the end of 2015, when I finally got out of quite a lengthy book slump, it was a book called Why the Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates, which got me in the mood for reading again. Back to the book about ego, though, and I think there are a lot of people who really could do with reading this and taking on board the message. I’m thinking particularly of an orange-faced bloke with a bad wig and childish demeanour, a bus-parking Portuguese football manager, and a certain female ex-friend of mine who failed to take the hint even after I blocked her arrogant arse on all social media platforms two years ago!

As I’ve just mentioned a bit of footy again, I should mention that my season ticket came on Wednesday! Yay! I do wish we’d get a manager who plays attractive, attack-minded, entertaining football, though! And who doesn’t criticise his players in public. Surely there must be a new Fergie out there?! Someone who would go back to having the lads play the United way instead of all that tedious bus-parking shite?! (By the way, in case you’d forgotten, shite is a technical term!)

Let’s have a look at the other books on that photo at the top of this blog… The Mermaid, by Christina Henry, is a reworking of a fairy tale, The Fire Court, by Andrew Taylor, is historical fiction, and the sequel to The Ashes of London, which I read and enjoyed last year, and Notes On a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig, is non-fiction and deals with mental health issues and the increase in stress and anxiety levels worldwide. The thing with Matt Haig is that he writes both fiction and non-fiction!

The Nancy Mitford novella, Wigs On the Green, is my current book club book and I am 34% of the way through it with a couple of weeks to go before my next meeting at Waterstone’s Deansgate, which will be on 15th August. The red bookmark is one that I have made using my afro comb as a knitting loom, lol! Think it has come out quite well! Wigs On the Green sends up fascists, hence the reason Stephanie and I chose it. Anything taking the piss out of the far-right is fine by me!

Earlier this month, it was my friend Sarah’s birthday, so I popped up to Preston with her pressies and card. Her main pressie is that we’re going to see Madness in December at the Manchester Arena, and I can tell you all now because she knows! Anyway, she was able to lend me What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson, the Iron Maiden frontman and qualified pilot, so I have started that and I want to have read it in time to return it to her when she comes for the Madness gig. I know December’s a bit of a way off, but if I don’t get started, it’ll be upon us all too quickly. Only just started that one, though so it’s not technically an OC yet until it reaches 10%. Islander by Patrick Barkham, as I may have mentioned previously, was picked up on my jollies in the Cape Verde Islands last month. That’s up to 14%, but it has now been overtaken by The Man I Think I Know, by Mike Gayle, which I discovered thanks to the Zoe Ball Book Club on telly. I am already on 17% and I only got it on Wednesday night when I was at the Trafford Centre. Really enjoying it already!

On my Kindle, there are a couple of ongoing concerns, those being Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, currently on 55%, and Fire Woman, by Josephine Reynolds, on 25% – that one being her true account of how she became Britain’s first female firefighter. I read an article not long ago, and ended up downloading the book for my Kindle Paperwhite.

I would continue, I do have more recent books to mention, lol, but sitting here at my laptop is doing NOTHING to cool me down at all! Therefore, I shall have to do another blog and mention some more recent purchases, but at least I have got a second blog published for this month and I have finished at least one book, so a considerable improvement on June, lol! Until the next time, try to keep cool and hydrated, and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Instructions For a Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  • Summer of ’76 – Isabel Ashdown
  • Ego Is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
  • Why the Dutch Are Different – Ben Coates
  • The Mermaid – Christina Henry
  • The Fire Court – Andrew Taylor
  • The Ashes of London – Andrew Taylor
  • Notes On a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
  • Wigs On the Green – Nancy Mitford
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • Islander – Patrick Barkham
  • The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Fire Woman – Josephine Reynolds

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June Review and Relevant Reading…

Novel approach

Hello, fellow Bookworms!

This might be short. June has not been a good month on the book front, as nothing has been finished off. However, some reading was done on my holidays, and I did acquire a book while I was in Boa Vista, Cape Verde Islands!

I took my new Kindle Paperwhite on my jollies, and certainly read some more of Twisting My Melon, Shaun Ryder‘s autobiography, while I was on the plane, on the way to my holiday destination, and got that up to 55%, so that is over the halfway mark. Probably the best result on the reading front last month, as we are now in July.

Oops, as we are now on 1st July, before I go any further, it’s time to wish my Canadian followers a very Happy Canada Day! Hope you’re enjoying your long weekend!

For my American followers, advanced wishes for a Happy Independence Day this coming Wednesday!

Right then, on with the books and the bit of reading that I have managed last month. I didn’t end up reading Spirals In Time, the book about seashells, but did find a book at the hotel, which I started and then brought home with me, Islander, by Patrick Barkham. This is a journey around the UK archipelago, visiting little islands around the British Isles, and I read around the first 15% of it, so it joins the Ongoing Concerns. Even it’s about my own set of islands, I was on an island from another set of islands when I started reading it, so it still seemed apt. Plus, it’s a holiday souvenir, lol, just like Attention All Shipping was when I brought it home from Mexico five years ago!

Dune on a dune June 2018

Relevant Reads – Dune on a dune!

So, as you can see above, I did it! I read Dune on a dune! Well, I did read a page or two of it. Only just started, so it can’t go on the OCs just yet, I would have to read more of it for it to go on that, but I got the Relevant Reads photo opportunity, so I want to see yours! Doesn’t have to be exotic! Have you ever read The Catcher in the Rye sitting in a field of rye? Kitchen Confidential in a kitchen? Alone in Berlin while alone in the German capital city?! I want your “relevant reads” stories and evidence! I’ve been writing these book blogs for nearly 8 years now, and I’d like to hear from those of you who have been kind enough to decide to follow my blogs!

Spain v Russia is in extra time… is it going to be won in extra time, or am I going to have to shuffle off and watch a penalty shoot-out? Come on, Spain!

Anyway, May’s lack of reading has continued into June. I had only finished off one book at the start of May, and that was the last one I added to my Goodreads Challenge list, Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction, by David Seed. I’ve done some cross-stitch, I’ve been on my jollies, come back, gone back to work, had family birthdays and some seriously boiling weather, and joined Slimming World, but there’s not really an awful lot to report on the book front!

The other thing is that the current heatwave makes me feel tired at times. I just want a siesta, lol! I don’t really feel like reading. I might nod off, especially if the book wasn’t really grabbing me! Even if I was enjoying it, I might still be too sleepy.

Spain and Russia is going to a penalty shoot out…

Russia won on penalties. Not what I wanted. Croatia v Denmark at the moment, which is still 1-1 after both teams scored very early! Right now, that looks like heading for extra time. I don’t really mind who wins. Slight preference for Denmark, as United have had a few Danish players in the past, (Jesper Olsen, Peter Schmeichel and Anders Lindegaard), but I wouldn’t be upset if Croatia won, especially after they stuffed Argentina 3-0 in that group game! I have harboured an immense dislike of the Argentinian national side since Mexico ’86! I was 13 when that World Cup was on, so it’s 32 years now!

Book club on Wednesday. I have read a little bit, and I mean a LITTLE bit of Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng, and I have liked what I have read, but I just haven’t been up for reading anything at the mo. So, I won’t discard the book. Even if I haven’t read much of it by Wednesday, which I won’t have, it may be something I return to at a later date. A few years ago, during a reading slump, there were books I read a bit of and liked, so I have not completely given up on those, I might return to The Sisters Brothers some day, amongst others. I do like the cover of that one, it’s very clever!

At least I will have another fortnight for what will be a re-read, as a book club has been started at work, and the first meeting is on 18th July, at lunchtime, and we’ll be reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. As I have mentioned on here before, this book was a book club read some years ago for the Waterstone’s Deansgate book club, but it’s quite a while since I read it, so I don’t mind that my council colleagues have chosen something I’ve already read.

The other thing I need to mention is that there is now even a TV book club here in the UK, on Zoe Ball’s programme on Sunday mornings. I have set the series to record, which is a wise move as I was on holiday when the series started, and I am usually having a lie-in on a Sunday anyway, so I can catch up later. Well, I can when the footy’s over, but Denmark v Croatia has gone into extra time…

Adam Kay book signing

Not sure which books have been discussed since the first one, but Zoe started with the book which was my favourite read from last year, the excellent This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay! I think it has recently come out in paperback, but I bought the hardback last year and then got it signed when Adam came to Waterstone’s Deansgate in the autumn! I think as many people as possible should read it, although maybe doing so in public might not be a good idea as you’ll get some funny looks when you laugh your head off at certain bits! The photo above is from when Adam was signing my copy of his book.

Well, that’s about it for now, although the Danes and Croatians are still playing at the moment, so no result as yet. Still 1-1 from right at the start of the match. Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Spirals In Time – Helen Scales
  • Islander – Patrick Barkham
  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • The Catcher In the Rye – J. D. Salinger
  • Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  • Alone In Berlin – Hans Fallada
  • Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction – David Seed
  • Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick DeWitt
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

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One More Night…

books and phone brochure April 2018

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

In two weeks’ time, Chief Bookworm will be halfway to ninety! Yep, yours truly will turn 45 in a fortnight, I’m officially middle-aged, lol! Still a mad bookworm, and it’s book club on Wednesday, but we all know it’s hardly been read. Hoping for better luck with the next book and hoping it grabs me more than North and South. It just didn’t grab. Other books were more enticing. That’s the way it goes with some books. Not everything is going to float your boat, even if you read widely.

Oh, well! On with the show! Got up to the 34% stage of Six Little Miracles at lunchtime today, so we’re a third of the way through Janet Walton‘s autobiography of becoming mum to six baby girls in 1983! I am up to 26% of The Cellist of Sarajevo, so doing fine with that one, too! Twisting My Melon is at 25% and I hope to get more of that read on Sunday on my Kindle when I’m on my way home from Manchester United vs West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford. Back to the footy shortly, but I shall round off the OC update by mentioning that we’re at 58% with Hawksmoor. I might have been up to that stage the other day, I can’t remember, but I know I am definitely over the halfway point with that one now.

In the top photo, you might see Ready Player One – that’s the audiobook, so it’s a set of 14 CDs. I will eventually put them onto my computer, and then possibly onto other devices, so I can have a listen. Maybe read along, as I do have the paperback, which I did start some time ago. I’m on for page 47, the start of chapter 4 when I’m ready to resume, although I might just let myself be read to. Thing is, I’m not sure what, if anything, to do when listening to an audiobook. Perhaps do some cross stitch? But part of me thinks I should just be listening to it. I am not that used to using them, although I do have a few. I have heard, as well as read, Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes, and that’s really good. I can definitely recommend that book! I read it two years ago, it’s on my List Challenges list of books I read in 2016.

Also in that photo, you’ll see a travel guide – I now know I’ll be at work into the summer, and thus I am able to enjoy some time off from it, lol! Well, I will be doing so in a couple of months. The other book, the chunky one, is The Complete Robot, by Isaac Asimov, which is a book of his robot stories. I remember when my dad used to get a monthly magazine called Complete Car, and I used to think it’d be a bit silly if it were called Incomplete Car, lol! Like as though it was missing something… wing mirrors, steering wheel, indicators.. actually, a lot of people seem to drive as though they’re missing their indicators, lol! Many’s the time I’ve been in the car with my mum and we’ve seen at least one dickhead who must think we’re Mystic Meg and Claire Voyant, as they clearly haven’t been arsed to tell us that they wish to turn left or right!

Enough ranting about drivers from the Stevie Wonder School of Motoring, lol, and back to other matters! Obviously, besides being chuffed about booking jollies, the weekend’s footy saw my lads come from behind to win the Manchester Derby 3-2! Apart from the fact that our second half goals came earlier in the game on Saturday than they did almost a quarter of a century ago, there are a lot of comparisons with our 3-2 comeback victory at Maine Road on 7th November 1993 when two goals from Eric Cantona and one from Roy Keane saw United overhaul a 2-0 half-time deficit to come back across town with all three points! This time it was another Frenchman, Paul Pogba, who bagged the brace, before Chris “Mike” Smalling scored what turned out to be our winner at the Etihad.

I was in the Trafford Centre while the derby was going on across town, and thought the lads were just throwing it away when they went two goals down in the first half, so I buggered off into Waterstone’s to look at books and take my mind off the footy, plus I needed a travel guide, of course, having a holiday to prepare for. When I came out of Waterstone’s and bothered to glance at my mobile, fearing the worst, we were into the second half and on level terms, 2-2 thanks to Monsieur Pogba. Merci beaucoup, Pog! I headed for the O2 shop to look at mobile phones in a much better mood, lol!

I’ve had my current one for nearly 4 years now, having got my Sony Xperia Z2 in July 2014, so I had been entitled to an upgrade for some time, and I went in to have a word with the staff and get their advice. I decided on the Sony Xperia XZ1, and the guy in the shop said to phone up customer services, which I did today after work, and they could get me some money off my new tariff, which they did, and I collected my phone after I’d been to the gym for a bit…

The only thing is that I feel like I’m in some technological fairy story… Goldilocks and the Three Sims! My sim card for my current phone won’t fit in my new one! I need an even smaller sim, which I am going to sort out at the phone shop tomorrow. So I tried some previous phones, but the sim bit in those is too big for the current sim! Eventually, I managed to get the damn thing back in my current phone, so we have an operational mobile, which I will be using as my main phone for one more night, as Phil Collins once sang, lol, hence the title of tonight’s blog.

sci fi and new phone April 2018

Got a couple of charity shop acquisitions earlier, having popped in to the Headway shop on Swinton Precinct after work. The Giant Book of Science Fiction Stories, edited by Isaac Asimov, written by numerous different authors, and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, by Philip K. Dick. Alongside the books, you can see my new phone. Hopefully, it will be working and fully operational by this time tomorrow night!

The City & The City started on Friday, although, typically, I’ve not got around to watching it yet. Need to do so, really, before this Friday. At least I am ahead of the game for something coming up later this year – I read an article on Facebook the other day which said that the BBC have adapted The War of the Worlds, and it will be on telly in the autumn! Not like me to be ahead of things, lol, but for once I will be as I read the H. G. Wells novel earlier this year!

I think that’s about it for now, though, I’m pretty sure I’ve told you all the news there is to know, lol, so until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes
  • The Complete Robot – Isaac Asimov
  • The Giant Book of Science Fiction Stories – Various (Edited by Isaac Asimov)
  • The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick
  • The City & The City – China Miéville
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells

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Twisting My Melon, Man!

Vile Victorians finished April 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

April is here, 3 weeks to go until Chief Bookworm reaches the grand old age of 45, lol, and we already have a book finished this month, as I decided to plump for another book in the brilliant Horrible Histories series! Bit of a jump in time from The Slimy Stuarts, which I read last month, but I thought we’d get April under way with The Vile Victorians! So that is my 16th finish of the year, with more books to come. The Horrible Histories series is written by Terry Deary, by the way. I actually went to a Horrible Histories event some time ago now, at the Imperial War Museum North on Salford Quays – as I recall, it was the Frightful First World War event. Possibly around 10 years ago in 2008 to mark 90 years since the end of World War I, but don’t quote me on that. I do know there’s a photo album of mine on Facebook from that event, and I have a tin hat on in one of the photos!

Right then, enough about the Horrible Histories for now, although I’m pretty sure there’ll be more about that series in future blogs! Saturday saw me at Old Trafford for United v Swansea in the Premier League, which we won 2-0 thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, and as I had finished my previous match day ebook, The Man in the Middle, by Howard Webb, I needed to find something else suitable on my Kindle for the journey home, and I found it in Twisting My Melon, the autobiography of Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays fame! He’s from round this way, he’s a fellow Red, and I had already started this book a while ago, so I decided I would resume matters and this is now my main ebook, particularly for home matches, although I might read it even when I’m not off to watch the lads.

Weirdly enough, I was in town last week, having gone to get my bus and tram pass sorted, and having done that, and done a bit of retail therapy, I was eating at Wagamama and they played “Step On” by the Happy Mondays, which includes that bit “You talk so hip, man, you’re twistin’ my melon, man!” and was in the charts back in the summer of 1990 when I was 17 and at Eccles College, halfway through my two year A Level courses! Took me right back to all that Madchester rave on stuff in my late teens! Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, James, Inspiral Carpets… all that malarkey… and, of course, New Order teaming up with the England squad for “World In Motion”, one of that year’s number ones and one of the best footy records ever!

Actually, when England came 4th at that summer’s World Cup in Italy, that was the best they’ve ever done in my lifetime! It’s still the best they’ve ever done in my lifetime, and I can’t really expect them to do ‘owt  in this year’s World Cup because they’re a bit too shite these days (shite being a technical term, of course) and I suspect they’ll be home before the postcards, as the saying goes!

Bookmarks 2018 so far

Right at the end of last month, although I hadn’t quite managed it in time for that final blog in March, I finished the red bookmark in the middle of the above photo. I then got the Space Invaders one stitched before we were into April. I just decided to look up patterns for space invaders on Pinterest, and then used my iPad to refer to the charts as I stitched a few and ended up making it look like a little game in progress! I stitched my initials and the year to look like a high score. My geek is showing, yes I know! Then again, I have read a few science fiction books already this year and plan to read a few more. I might even resume Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which is here by Computer Corner. I think it’s actually a film now – most books get made into films these days. I’ve not been to the cinema for donkey’s years, though! I can’t even remember which was the last film I went to the flicks to see!

It’s not that I don’t like films. I do, and sometimes I see a trailer on telly or Facebook for a film, and think “That sounds really good”, but then I never get around to going to see it! Even with TV dramatisations, it’s the same – I recorded The Miniaturist on my Sky+ box at Christmas and it’s still there, not yet watched! That’s the Jessie Burton novel, in case you were wondering. As I mentioned in the last blog, The City & The City, by China Miéville, is being broadcast as a TV series starting this coming week, I think, so I might record that. Whether I will get around to watching it is another matter, though, lol! About the only thing I’ve been watching lately is Masterchef!

That must have been going donkey’s years by now! Originally, it used to be presented by Lloyd Grossman, who had a seriously annoying voice! A good one for ripping the piss out of in comedy sketches, though! He also used to present Through The Keyhole. Not sure how long Masterchef has been going in its current format and with current presenters but a good few years now, I reckon, as I’ve been watching it now for around 4 years or so, I think. I like Greg Wallace and John Torode, the current presenters. You know you’ve been watching it a few years when you remember previous winners and finalists when they come back in for the current contestants to cook for!

Enough about cookery shows, or I’ll just make myself hungry!

 

Junior Bookworm then and now

You won’t be terribly surprised to learn that I bought my niece and nephew a couple of books each for Easter. They both love books, and Charlotte has been known to read to Reuben. She loves books so much she can barely wait until she gets out of the bookshop to start reading her latest purchases! Definitely taking after her auntie!

Charlotte outside Waterstone's March 2018

Charlotte just outside her natural habitat… This was a few days ago. Good Friday, I think. Charlotte needed an eye test, so Ellie took her and Reuben off to the Trafford Centre, and as well as the optician’s, there was a visit to Waterstone’s, and Charlotte was so keen to get started on her latest purchases that she sat down and started reading as soon as she’d got out of the shop!

Anyway, just over a week to go to book club, but as you already know, North and South has been put on hold. I may resume it some time in the future. On the other hand, I might not. We can, however, safely say that it is nowhere near finished, barely started in fact, and thus I’m just going to have to admit it’s not my thing come next Wednesday, and hope that our next choice of book is more appealing.

At least I DID make some progress with Hawksmoor! The Peter Ackroyd novel is now 58% read, so we are over halfway with that now. I might as well make some more progress with that before book club, as well as continuing Six Little Miracles, about the Walton Sextuplets. My sister has asked to borrow that one once I’ve read it. That one’s at 22% and Twisting My Melon is currently at 25% – not done too badly over Easter with the books and bookmarks! Been quite a productive long weekend!

That’s about it for now, then. I think we’ve had all the news on the book front. So, I shall now get this finished off and published, and you can have a good read of where I’ve got up to over Easter when I’ve not been scoffing chocolate or hot cross buns, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Slimy Stuarts – Terry Deary
  • The Vile Victorians – Terry Deary
  • The Frightful First World War – Terry Deary
  • The Man In the Middle – Howard Webb
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • The City & The City – China Miéville
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton

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March Review and Childhood Cookbooks

Word for World is Forest finished March 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Another month, another 5 books finished! I can’t guarantee I will be this consistent all year, but so far in 2018 I have finished 5 books and published 6 blogs each month! This means I am now on at 15/30 on my Goodreads Challenge – half way to my target and we’ve only had three months so far. Also, a third of the way to matching the total of 45 books which I managed to finish off in 2017!

There’s another bookmark on the way. Might just about get it finished before the month is over, but not in time for this blog. It is nearly done though. Only needs the back-stitching finishing and a tassel of some sort adding.

So, anyway, we’re at the end of March 2018, I have 77 followers now, so thanks to all of you for putting up with my random waffle, and welcome to some of the new followers who have discovered this blog of late. These blogs go right back to August 2010, so feel free to mosey around in the archives. I have published over 200 book blogs, and have been pretty prolific in the last year or so. Before that, it was rather inconsistent.

Time to move on to the actual books now, lol, and let’s look at what I’ve finished off in March. My first finish for the month, and it seems like ages ago now, was The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier, which was a brilliant read. A couple of quick-to-finish children’s books came next, Fantastic Mr Fox, by Roald Dahl, and The Slimy Stuarts, by Terry Deary, the latter being a book from the Horrible Histories series. I had picked up a few Horrible Histories books at a charity shop in Swinton after work one night!

Towards the end of this month, in the past week or so, two more books have taken my monthly total up to five. First up was my ebook, The Man In the Middle, by Howard Webb, which had started off as my match day book as I had been reading it to pass the time in the car while stuck in the car park at Old Trafford, or in Trafford Park, on the way home from one of our home games, but I ended up reading it on days when I wasn’t heading to the Hallowed Ground, and finished it off at home one night last week!

Finished books 29 March 2018

Bringing my monthly total to a consistent five, I finished off The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin, last night, thus adding another science-fiction book to my read list, and Don Davidson to my Literary Shovel List! Whilst I didn’t find him quite as anger-inducing as the bigoted nutjob Joseph Strorm, Davidson certainly needs a good thwack on the head with The Shovel, and he has to be added to Humans In Science Fiction Novels Who Are An Embarrassment To The Species! As with my feelings of sympathy towards the mutants in The Chrysalids, I quickly took the side of the “Creechies” in Le Guin’s novella. I think, once I’d have given Davidson the Shovel treatment, I would then grab him warmly by the throat and yell “Stop showing us all up, you arrogant knobhead!”

At least, for now, the interplanetary embarrassment is only in works of fiction. Bad enough that, in real life, there are too many dicks here on Earth who embarrass the species as a whole, and their part of the planet in particular, without going to new planets and behaving in that manner! The novella was written in the late 60s and early 70s, being first published in 1972, the year before I came into this world. It’s easy to see it as a damning criticism of some of the worst atrocities committed during the war in Vietnam, but it’s still pretty relevant now, especially with the concept of male privilege – you could see some of the “yumans” in the plot, Davidson in particular, exhibiting what might be called Earthling Privilege, lording it over the poor Creechies whose planet they’d invaded and buggered up ecologically! Having screwed their own planet up in the first place, they’ve buggered off to mess some other planet up as well and piss off the inhabitants.

Don Davidson definitely joins the Shovel List. By contrast, I liked Raj Lyubov, who was one of the few who made an effort to treat the Creechies with respect and learn about their way of life.

Will I continue with The Chrysalids? Maybe, but it is on hold for now. I might even make some attempt at North and South, a final go to see if it does grab me, but if it doesn’t, no point plodding on with it. I will just have to accept it is one of those which hasn’t fizzed on me. Won’t be the first, and I doubt very much it will be the last. I do not persist with books I’m not enjoying. As you already know, I don’t agree with all that bullshit about not giving up. Sometimes, giving up is the wisest thing you can do. If you’re making no progress at something, and not enjoying it, time to pack it in! You might have to try a bit harder if you need to read a book for the purposes of your academic or professional attainment, but if you don’t have to read it for education or employment, and you’re not enjoying it, time to put it down and find a different book!

Hawksmoor‘s still hanging around, and I plan to get some of that read this weekend, another chapter at least, get it past the halfway stage. It’s been on 49% for a while, so time we took it beyond 50, especially if I just accept that North and South isn’t doing it for me. The other book whose title you can see on the wipeboard on the top photo of this blog is Six Little Miracles, by Janet Walton. I found it at a charity shop in Swinton the other day. For those of us who were around in the UK in the 1980s, you may recall the birth of the Walton Sextuplets, the six girls born in 1983 – well, this is their mum’s autobiography, the memoir of growing up, meeting her husband, and trying for a baby – then ending up with half a dozen of them at once!

Childhood cookbooks

My first recipe books!

Talking of growing up, Veronica Henry, author of The Beach Hut and How To Find Love In a Book Shop, amongst other novels, posted a photo on Instagram the other day which had me going back to my childhood, as it featured a book I’d received when I was a kid, either a birthday or Christmas present – a recipe book called My Learn To Cook Book – funnily enough, I still have it, alongside The Mr Men Cookbook! Both of those have some damn good recipes in them! The former is by Ursula Sedgwick, and the latter by Roger Hargreaves. Mr Topsy-Turvy’s Upside Down Pudding is particularly good!

SF purchases March 2018

Onto recent purchases now, and then we can think about What To Read Next, that great bookworm dilemma, lol! I was in town yesterday, essentially to get my bus and tram pass sorted for another month, but any old excuse to do a spot of retail therapy while there, eh?! The books you see in that photo are Ammonite, by Nicola Griffith, Neuromancer, by William Gibson, and the one at the top of the pile there, Resistance is Futile, by Jenny T. Colgan. That comment by Matt Haig on the cover amused me enormously! “A riotous cocktail of geeks” – there’s a recommendation if ever there was one!

I’ve read a couple of his books, actually, both very different, but both great – The Radleys, and Reasons To Stay Alive. The former is fiction, and very funny, and the latter is autobiographical and a good read, especially if you’re looking for books relating to mental health issues. Also, I have How To Stop Time, and The Humans, right here by Computer Corner, on my science fiction row between the robot bookends!

I could always read one of the new purchases. After all, I’ve finished the Le Guin, so there’s room for some more science fiction on the OC List. Non-fiction is accounted for, of course, with the Walton sextuplets book I mentioned earlier. I will also need a new choice of book on one of my e-readers for match day, so I will have to have a shufty on my Kindle and my Sony Reader to see if there’s anything I really fancy reading or resuming!

I could read The City and The City, by China Miéville, which is about to be dramatised in a 6 part series on the BBC starting just after Easter. That’s a paperback, though, not on my e-readers. I also had my eye on The Cellist of Sarajevo earlier today. I’d previously had two copies, it was one of my notorious Duplicate Books, lol, so I took one in to work with some other books, so that my colleagues can borrow and swap them, but I was giving some thought to reading my remaining copy of the Steven Galloway novel.

Well, I think that’s about it for now. Easter Long Weekend starts here! I will be back again with another blog before too long, lol, but until next time, have a lovely Easter, hope you get plenty of eggs and maybe some books, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl
  • The Slimy Stuarts (Horrible Histories) – Terry Deary
  • The Man In the Middle – Howard Webb
  • The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
  • The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry
  • How To Find Love In a Book Shop – Veronica Henry
  • My Learn To Cook Book – Ursula Sedgwick
  • The Mr Men Cookbook – Roger Hargreaves
  • Ammonite – Nicola Griffith
  • Neuromancer – William Gibson
  • Resistance is Futile – Jenny T. Colgan
  • The Radleys – Matt Haig
  • Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig
  • How To Stop Time – Matt Haig
  • The Humans – Matt Haig
  • The City and The City – China Miéville
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway

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Outside of a Dog…

Year of the Dog 2018

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

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

K9 from Doctor Who

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dom-parsons-bronze-skeleton 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Marley & Me – John Grogan
  • The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  • White Fang – Jack London
  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy – Lynley Dodd
  • Harry the Dirty Dog – Gene Zion
  • The Hundred and One Dalmatians – Dodie Smith
  • The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Sirius – Olaf Stapledon
  • There Is No Dog – Meg Rosoff
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
  • Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller
  • Even the Dogs – John McGregor
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Dai Sijie
  • The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See
  • Sweet Mandarin – Helen Tse
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Mort – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins

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