Category Archives: The TBR Pile

Not Dead Yet!

Your Eighties finished 7th September 2018

Another book finished! This was a great read for me!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Back again with another blog, and to paraphrase a bit of Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Waterstone’s Book Club have been greatly exaggerated! Well, possibly! Thanks to some of my council colleagues, it looks like things are back on, as I was receiving emails earlier this week from a lady who I met by chance at the gym yesterday evening after my post-work workout, and she and at least one other person expressed an interest in joining the book club because they might want to read something more recent than the library service can provide for the work book club.

To cut a long story short, as Spandau Ballet sang back in the early 80s, lol, I had communications both from work and from a lady called Charlotte at Waterstone’s Deansgate, and I am set to meet Vivienne and others at the usual place at 6pm on 16th October to discuss Snap, by Belinda Bauer!

Thus, the book club, which looked to be popping its clogs last month after I ended up as Billy No-Mates at Waterstone’s on meeting night, has somehow pulled through and come out of intensive care! Hence the blog title, Not Dead Yet, which is, coincidentally, the title of Phil Collins‘ brilliant autobiography which I read and loved at the start of this year! I had to give that copy back as my friend Sarah had lent it to me, and I returned it to her when we went to see Paul Young in February at the Preston Guild Hall, as you may recall. However, I did manage to pick up a paperback copy when I was in Wales the other week, for a mere quid in a charity shop in Conwy, so I now have one of my own, and I have let my dad borrow it. I thought he would enjoy it, but didn’t think it would be right to have lent him Sarah’s copy!

I have let Charlotte from Waterstone’s know about the date and the book for the meeting, and I have now emailed a few of the people who have been in the book club in the recent past to let them know it’s back on, and to give them details of the date, time and book. Keeping everything crossed, although maybe not eyes, lol, that people turn up! Personally, I don’t give a shit how much or how little of the book they’ve read, I don’t always get books finished so I can’t call others out on it, and anyway, it’s turning up that matters right now! I just want enough people to turn up to make it worth doing!

I think, if enough of us do turn up, that I will make a suggestion for the next book club, which would probably meet some time in November. I know this will be an old book, but with it being 100 years since the end of the First World War, I think I might suggest that we read All Quiet On the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, or something of that ilk. Talking of the centenary of the end of WWI, a large display of poppies is going to be outside the Imperial War Museum North on Salford Quays until late November, so anyone in my neck of the woods has a couple of months to go and see it.

Me with Bee United 1st September 2018

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of large items on display in my area, this brings me back to Bee In the City, which is currently still running until about 23rd of this month, so you’ve still got around another fortnight to do any more bee-spotting! That was me last weekend, when I was on my epic bee hunt – I got someone to take a photo of me with Bee United at Old Trafford. I’d been doing a lot of bee spotting with my mum on the Friday afternoon, which I mentioned in my August Review blog, and then I continued my quest the next day, albeit on my own, visiting Media City, the Lowry Outlet Mall (where there’s a lot of little bees, including one decorated by pupils from my former high school), Old Trafford and then into town.

I was getting about by tram and by foot, and as I was walking from Old Trafford football ground to the cricket ground and tram stop, I was thinking how I was now at least in a fit state to do all this walking around. If it’d been a couple of months ago, before I started at Slimming World, I would have been knackered and having to rest a lot more than I needed to last weekend! And, despite what I had to eat during my week off work, when I went to Wales, and the Lake District, and even had an ice cream on the Saturday while making my way from one Old Trafford to the other, I still managed to lose 4 and a half pounds on Monday when I weighed in after a week off! If I can get at least another pound off this coming Monday, I’ll have lost 1 and a half stone!

Right, anyway, I was back in work on Monday, and brought my colleagues some fudge from my trip to Wales. I had a lot of emails to catch up with after having been off for a week! I’d missed the August book club meeting, where Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine was discussed, but the next meeting is on 25th September, and it’s another re-read for me, as the book is Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruen, which, ironically, was the first book I read for the Waterstone’s Deansgate book club when I joined that in October 2008! After that, the October book will be Salmon Fishing In the Yemen, by Paul Torday. This will be the first one which won’t be a re-read for me, lol! I own a copy of the book, had it for donkey’s years, but not got around to reading it yet.

So, I have Water For Elephants and Snap to get on with for book clubs, plus What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson, the Iron Maiden frontman, as Sarah has lent me that one and I need to get it read so I can give it back to her when we go to see Madness at the Manchester Arena in December. Not started Snap yet, but 15% of the way through Water For Elephants and 10% read of What Does This Button Do? at the mo. I can probably skim much of the elephants one, as I have read it before, I just need to refresh myself on the story. The other two books with deadlines are new to me.

Now on to the non-deadline books, and, as you can see from the top of the blog, I’ve already finished one book this month, as I polished off Your Eighties, by Sarah Lewis, on my Kindle in the early hours of today! Not sure how I came about it – it may well have been either free or 99p on a Kindle offer, and you know what I’m like when it comes to the 1980s, so it had to be downloaded and read! This means I’m now on 26/30 on my Goodreads Challenge, only 4 more books to go to meet my target, which is pretty good considering I’ve been working a whole year now, full-time, and I got bugger all read in June and only one book either side of that in May and in July. Getting six read in August was a big help!

My current Handbag Book, besides all the ebooks on my Kindle, is Good As You, by Paul Flynn, which is a 30 year history of gay Britain from 1984 to 2014 taking in the three decades from the release of “Relax” and “Smalltown Boy” to the go-ahead for gay weddings in the UK. It’s probably the book I am most enjoying right now, and not just because of all the 80s disco music, but also because a lot of it centres around Manchester, and the writer is a Manc and not much older than me, so I know, or at least know of, many of the places in town that he mentions! I actually went to the gay village last weekend on my bee hunt, as there is a big bee in a park near Sackville Street and Canal Street. A rainbow-coloured bee, needless to say! The LGBTQ+ Queen Bee. It was moved temporarily, as I believe it was on a float during the Pride parade at the end of August, but it has returned to the park. Years ago, back in the late 90s, I had a work placement at a housing association, and the office where I was based was on the edge of the gay village.

LGBTQ+ Queen Bee

The guy in the bee’s eye is Alan Turing, the guy who cracked the Enigma Code, therefore played a major part in helping the Allies defeat the Nazis and win the Second World War. Thus, to any decent person, this guy is a hero. Unfortunately, not to our politicians, certainly not those around at the time, who had a big problem with the fact that he was gay. Some people are just ungrateful bastards, aren’t they?! One of the many reasons why I dislike politicians, especially right-wing ones.

I’ve never been bothered as to whether a couple is a man and a woman, two men, or two women. What I think is important is that people are loyal to one another in relationships. Whether that’s a straight one or a gay one is unimportant, the important thing is to be faithful and not go seeing anyone else behind your partner’s back.

Anyway, back to the books, and Good As You is 37% read, so that’s currently leading in the Ongoing Concerns list, closely followed by The Antidote, by Oliver Burkeman at 35% read. There are some other partially-read books, but they’ll have to take a back seat to some of the books with deadlines. I can return to less urgent reads later.

I’m off to the Creative Craft Show tomorrow, at Event City, near the Trafford Centre, so I’ll be taking a bit of my loom knitting with me and looking for tips, particularly regarding different stitches, and with casting off, and on Sunday I might be going to see those poppies I mentioned earlier, which are on display outside the Imperial War Museum North. I will be back with another blog entry soon enough though, but until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Snap – Belinda Bauer
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • All Quiet On the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen
  • Salmon Fishing In the Yemen – Paul Torday
  • What Does This Button Do?  – Bruce Dickinson
  • Your Eighties – Sarah Lewis
  • Good As You – Paul Flynn
  • The Antidote – Oliver Burkeman
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August Review – Books, Bees, and a Bag

Bookstore Conwy Wales 29 August 2018

Me in Hinton’s of Conwy, when I was in Wales on Wednesday.

Hello again, fellow Bookworms! Or should that be Book Dragons, given that I was in Wales a couple of days ago?!

Have had a very nice week off work to finish August. Monday was a bank holiday here, and then I have been using up annual leave for the rest of the week as I can only carry 5 days or fewer over into my new leave year which starts in September. Hence I have been out and about this week and the weather has been great! You can have some really good days out here in the UK if the weather’s not too shite (which is a technical term, as you know by now)! We’ve actually been having a decent summer this year, helped by that heatwave in July! Usually we have to go abroad for that sort of weather! Actually needing sun lotion and after-sun in this country is something of a novelty, hence many of us still go on about the Summer of 1976!

Anyway, never mind me waffling on about the weather, another month has come to an end, and therefore it’s time for the monthly review blog, and the most successful month so far this year for finishing books off, as I have finished SIX books in August! Yay! I’ve also finished off a couple of items I’ve been making on my knitting looms, so I can show you those as well! Right, all aboard for August’s Review of the Month blog… Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for books, bees, bara brith, a bag and a baby hat…

Well, August’s first two finishes were both early in the month and they were two I loved and gave 5 stars to, although they were both very different to one another. The first was Notes On a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig, and that was followed very closely by The Man I Think I Know, by Mike Gayle, both of them finished off within the space of 24 hours! I had discovered the Mike Gayle novel thanks to the Zoe Ball Book Club on her Sunday morning show on ITV, and gave it a go on the strength of that, so thank you, Zoe, for choosing that one as one of your ten books!

Back in the 90s, I used to think she was a bit annoying, actually, probably as she’d jumped on the football bandwagon without knowing her stuff and thus not helping the cause of female supporters, especially the likes of myself who want to be seen and respected as clued-up knowledgeable fans just as much as male supporters, but in recent times, with running this book club on telly, I’ve seen a different side of her. She’s a couple of years older than me, so I guess it’s that difference between being some annoying mid 20s bimbo back in the 90s, and now being middle aged, as I am myself, and obviously matured a lot!

Anyway, enough waffling on about Zoe Ball, and back to the books. Book club at Waterstone’s seems to be either dead or in intensive care, lol, although I do have one at work, despite missing the most recent meeting because I’ve been on leave all this week, but I did eventually finish Wigs On the Green, by Nancy Mitford, which I’d been up to around 75% of the way through when it was supposed to be the meeting night, only to end up sitting in the coffee shop area of Waterstone’s Deansgate for around 45 minutes on my own like Billy No-Mates, and then realising that no bugger else was going to turn up, so I might as well have a shufty, buy some books to cheer myself off, because I was a bit pissed-off to say the least, and then go for a Cheeky Nando’s before getting a tram home! As one does!

For a quick read, and I mean quick, my next finish was probably the shortest adult-orientated book I’ll have read all year, the 100 page Alan Bennett quickie, The Lady In the Van. OK, so Fantastic Mr Fox, by Roald Dahl, is probably the shortest book I’ve read this year, but that is a children’s book, so this is the shortest I’ve read which is aimed at an adult readership, and is a biography of the cantankerous old bat who lived in her clapped-out van in Alan’s front yard for quite a number of years! I guess he was a bit too kind to her in the first place and she took advantage of that and spent the rest of her life there.

Little bag finished August 2018

It was also around this time that I finished my bag. Having acquired some actual knitting looms from Abakhan Fabrics in town, I set about making some stuff, and this was my first creation. The bag itself is made on that long rectangular loom, and the handle was made by using the “knitting fork” or lucet, which you also see in the photo – that two-pronged wooden thing with the hole in it. The variegated purple bits give a bit of a contrast to the sparkly white main bit of the bag.

Me with a bee Manchester 31st August 2018

Bee In the City – Manchester, 23rd July to 23rd September 2018

I’d gone into town to do a bit of bee-spotting, because, as I have mentioned before, Bee In the City is on in Manchester, and the surrounding area, at the moment, and runs up until 23rd September, I think, so there’s still around 3 weeks left to go bee hunting, and I’ve been doing a lot of that today, and will be doing more of it over the weekend. Certainly tomorrow. I have the app on my phone, so as well as taking photos of the bees, I’m also entering the codes on my mobile to unlock the bees and count how many I’ve seen. In terms of book-related stuff, there are bees in some of the libraries in town, certainly in Central Library, and I think there’s a bee in the John Rylands Library on Deansgate, so I will have to investigate that!

French Revolutions finished August 2018

On Sunday, just before my Big Week Off, lol, I finished off the utterly brilliant French Revolutions, by Tim Moore, which has now been added to the roll of honour featuring books which have made me laugh my arse off over the years! If you like travel writing, sports writing, and/or you are in need of a damn good laugh, you should definitely read French Revolutions! It’s up there with Penguins Stopped Play, by Harry Thompson! I read that one some years ago now, and that was hilarious! You don’t even have to be into cricket to enjoy Penguins Stopped Play! Just read it!

Bara Brith and Coffee in Conwy 29th August 2018

Bara brith and a cup of coffee, Conwy, North Wales

That’s in case you were wondering what the hell bara brith is when I listed it with all the B words at the start of the blog, lol! It’s a kind of tea loaf from Wales, and Mum and I had a slice each when we were in Conwy on Wednesday. I am well aware that many of my followers are not from the UK, so I guess you would’t have known about certain items of food and drink from these shores! If I’ve got any Welsh book dragons following this blog, they’ve probably known for donkey’s years, but I know that quite a few of you are more far-flung, including the USA and Canada. The last time I recall knowing my follower count, I had either 77 or 78 followers, I think, so thank you for deciding to follow this mad blog and I hope you’re enjoying this entry!

By the way, the book I am holding in the photo at the top of the blog is not one that I actually bought, but I did purchase The Pebbles On the Beach, by Clarence Ellis, when I was in Hinton’s of Conwy.

Twisting My Melon finished 30 August 2018

I was in the Lake District yesterday, but was spending time in the holiday park with my sister, her partner and my niece and nephew, including sitting in a hot tub, which was lovely, and I definitely want to do that again! Therefore, I didn’t get out and about near the Lakes and didn’t get to go in any shops, so no books were purchased. However, I did get to finish off one of my ebooks during the journey there and back! Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, became my sixth finish for August, and my 25th finish for 2018 so far, thus meaning I have 5 more books to go to meet my Goodreads Challenge for this year! Woohoo!

Little hat finished 31st August 2018

Bringing you right up to date, as this blog draws to its close, this is the little hat I finished earlier, although it would only be big enough for a new baby. It will probably go on the stall at the church Christmas fair later this year. The size of the circle determines the size of the hat. I bought a set of four, and the biggest one would be too big, and would probably make a snood, but the next biggest one would probably make a good adult-sized hat. The third one might make a kid’s hat or at least an older baby or toddler, but that small one would be for a newborn, probably.

I’ve also been taking some books to charity shops in Monton and Eccles while I’ve been off. Occasionally, I need to do this to make way for newer purchases. Sometimes I just have to figure out “Am I going to read this?” or “Am I going to finish this?” If not, then I might as well give it away, especially if I’m likely to get a cheap copy from a charity shop in the future should I ever decide I do wish to read it! Some books crop up in charity shops all the time, so there’s a good shout that I’d get hold of it again if I do want to read it, but I’ve given away my previous copy.

Well, that’s about it for now, so I’d better get this published while we’re still just about in August, lol! Until the next 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
  • Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl
  • French Revolutions – Tim Moore
  • Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson
  • The Pebbles On the Beach – Clarence Ellis
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder

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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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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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The Force is Strong with these Books…

SF Introduction finished May 2018

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

I probably should have blogged yesterday so that I could have wished you Happy Star Wars Day, but never mind! I hope the Force was strong with all of you!

I also hope the Force is strong with Sir Alex Ferguson. Just as I was about to start this blog, I saw the news that our legendary former manager has had emergency surgery for a brain haemorrhage, so I shall keep everything crossed for a full and speedy recovery.

The less said about the current side at United, and last night’s match, the better, so we shall move swiftly on and celebrate the fact that I have now finished my 18th book in 2018! It was Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction, by David Seed, and an interesting book it was too, giving me some ideas for further reading. I also have some more wipeboard markers and they seem to be a bit more bold than my other set. I think you should be able to see the words more clearly on my book board. Also, you can see my magnets, as I forgot to put my Harry Potter and Charlie Bucket Funko Pops on the photo. I am hoping to get more magnets when I go on holiday, as well as flags. It is somewhere I haven’t been before, so I will need some souvenirs, lol!

Boa Vista Sunset

So, before I set off to see gorgeous sunsets like the one above, I need to sort out things on the book front. Having finished a book earlier today, it frees me up to focus on the book club book in time for 30th May, and thus get on with The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, which is currently at 11%. As I have done previously, I might try to trim down the OC list before I go away, and not add any new books to it until just before my hols. I want to get The Hate U Give read, and then perhaps see if I can move both Hawksmoor and The Cellist of Sarajevo on a bit, percentage-wise. Maybe also my ebook, Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder.

Technically, that is my match day ebook, but there’s only one home game left this season, against Watford, so I will have to read it whether I’m on my way home from Old Trafford or not! Otherwise, it wouldn’t be back in action again until the new season starts in August! I could always take it on the plane. Even if I don’t take my Kindle on my jollies, my iPad will be coming and I have the Kindle app on that, so I could read ebooks on my travels should I wish to.

Mum was looking at her books and thinking about her holiday reading earlier. Looks like Thinking Out Loud, by Rio Ferdinand, might be coming with her as one of her books. If Ellie has finished Six Little Miracles before we go away, she said she’d like to take that one with her, too. I’m still thinking I will take Dune, despite its chunkiness, so that I can read Dune on a dune in June! Opportunities like that do not present themselves all that often, so it has to be done, lol! My other book choices are yet to be determined!

Nerdy bookworm photo 2018

A very nerdy photo, I’m sure you’ll agree! Some of my science fiction books, and some postcards from the Museum of Science and Industry (MoSI) in Manchester on the magnetic noticeboard behind them. You can see what a chunky monkey Dune is, can’t you?! One of those postcards shows the first computer, so I thought it was apt for putting on display near Computer Corner! There’s also a few robots, Tim Peake, and Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.

I still think Resistance is Futile might be read soon, it sounds funny. Could take that away with me. THE great science fiction comedy, however, is The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To the Galaxy, by the late great Douglas Adams, and why shouldn’t space be a laugh?! Robots and aliens needn’t be scary, even if the Vogons did write the third worst poetry in the universe, and wouldn’t save their own grandmother from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal! On 25th May, 20 days from now, it will be Towel Day in honour of Douglas Adams – a hoopy frood who definitely knew where his towel was!

Actually, while we’re on all things geeky, nerdy and computery, how about this start to a cover letter for a job application…

Dear Sir or Modem,

LOL! That’s from a book called Crap CVs , by Jenny Crompton. “There are plenty of books on how to write the perfect CV – but none at all on what not to write. This is that book.” – It’s a great laugh and one of those books you can dip in and out of. I do think, however, that companies SHOULD take on people who have been observant enough to spot typos on their vacancy adverts – someone who can spell and proof-read would make those companies that little bit more professional, surely?! Not that my last interview was due to an advert, as it wasn’t – I was approached at a job fair last summer for a couple of copies of my CV as there might be an opening coming up. That led to the interview, and to being phoned up a couple of hours later and offered the job!

When you read through the examples in Crap CVs, you can see why some people have had considerable difficulty in gaining paid employment! Reaching level 58 on Flappy Bird might be a computer skill, but not really one which is required in a place of work! I do think, though that someone who lists, amongst their special skills, the fact that they bring in doughnuts on Fridays, should certainly be considered, at least for an interview! I’m sure there must be places of work where someone would say that constitutes being a good team player!

For my followers across the Atlantic, a CV is what you call a resumé. CV stands for curriculum vitae, and is probably used because it sounds a lot more fancy in Latin than it would in English, lol! Then again, resumé is French, so we’re all more willing to use a foreign word or two because it sounds fancy and a bit more short and to the point than putting the heading “Education and Employment So Far In My Life” at the top of the paper, even though that’s basically what it is, isn’t it?! We needed something that isn’t so long-winded! I couldn’t find it in the book, but I could have sworn that I read something somewhere about how not to apply for jobs, where a person had quoted Bon Jovi lyrics either in their application or at their interview, and told the prospective employers, “I’ve seen a million faces and I’ve rocked them all!”

Actually, if it was me sifting through a shitload of applications, and someone had put something like that on their CV or cover letter, I would be inclined to at least invite them for interview, even if it was simply for giving me something interesting and amusing to read during what must be a very tedious process! Well, providing they’d met the other criteria, lol, but a sense of humour from an applicant would go down well with me!

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now, so I shall get this published so you can all enjoy a good read. It’s a bank holiday weekend here, so a nice long one, and, for once, the weather is sunny and warm instead of the typical bank holiday rain, so you might want to go out somewhere, or perhaps have a barbecue, but maybe you’ll still find time to enjoy this waffle! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction – David Seed
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Thinking Out Loud – Rio Ferdinand
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • Resistance is Futile – Jenny T. Colgan
  • The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • Crap CVs – Jenny Crompton

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Chunky Monkeys, Computer Corner, E-Books & Audiobooks, Football, Foreign Languages, Goodreads, Humour, List Challenges, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Science Fiction, The TBR Pile, Travel

April Review – Birthday and other news

Birthday photo 23 04 2018

Me on my birthday at Patisserie Valerie in town

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Here we are at the end of April, and it’s been pretty busy, hence the low number of blogs and low number of books finished off this month! After three months on the trot where I finished off 5 books and published 6 blogs, we’re down to two books and three blogs, but that’s how these things go. I might get a month where I get loads of books finished off, so there’s time yet to meet, and then exceed, my 30 book target on Goodreads.

I finished off The Vile Victorians, from the Horrible Histories series by Terry Deary, which was a quick read at the start of April, and the other book I read this month was Six Little Miracles, by Janet Walton, about her sextuplets, who are now in their thirties! My sister is now reading this book.

6 Little Miracles finished

Shortly after Easter, I was taking advantage of a guest pass which my mum had for her gym, where I could go for up to 14 days, so I was going to David Lloyd in Trafford Park quite a bit in early to mid April, and either going for a work out on the exercise bikes and treadmill, or going for a swim, which may also contribute to the lower book tally this month. I do need to look at joining a gym, to burn off at least some of the stuff I eat at work, lol, although it will probably be the council-run leisure centres who get my membership, especially as I would get staff discount on the monthly cost, and wouldn’t have to pay a joining fee – perks of where I work!

Talking of work, I am there until at least the end of July, although there are certainly hints of continuing beyond then, as my manager said if I wanted to book any time off in August, I should get my requests in. We are awaiting the outcome of a review, which is why they can’t make anyone permanent at the moment, but it might be possible once we have that review. As long as they still want me, which they seem to do, that’s the main thing!

Therefore, once I knew I was going to be working until at least the end of July, I decided that it was time jollies were booked! Mum and I last went away at the end of 2016, going to Marrakech, Morocco, in October-November 2016, which we really enjoyed. This time, we’ll be chilling out in the Cape Verde Islands and it’ll be rather sooner than the autumn. After the footy season’s over, though!

I can’t bloody believe we’re nearly at the end of yet another season! Where the hell do they all go?! Yesterday, when we beat Arsenal 2-1 at Old Trafford, that was our penultimate home game for 2017-18! We have two away games, against Brighton and Hove Albion, and against West Ham United, and then we end the Premier League season at home to Watford! Of course, we do have the FA Cup Final to look forward to, as well, when we will play Chelsea at Wembley on 19th May, but my last fixture of this season will be that Watford game. Not going to Wembley this time, too near my jollies, really, and it’s not as though I’ve not been in recent times! So, there won’t be the blog about which books I should take down to Wembley, but there may well be a blog about which books I should pack in my suitcase!

It was also the last time Arsene Wenger would be the visiting Arsenal manager at Old Trafford, having recently announced that he was stepping down at the end of this season after 22 seasons in charge of the Gunners! It won’t be the same without him telling the media that he didn’t see the incident, lol! He got a commemorative silver vase, which was presented to him by Sir Alex Ferguson before the kick-off yesterday, a move which Arsene has described as “classy”. Truly the end of an era. I hope that the Gooners can end the Wenger era on a high note by winning the Europa League so that Arsene bows out with silverware! I know they’ve got to win away after a 1-1 draw in the home leg against Atletico Madrid, but they can do it!

We definitely need to score far more goals next season, though, especially if we have any serious ambition to bring the Premier League trophy back to Old Trafford! (It’s high time we did! 2013 is getting to be a bit too long ago now!) Parking the bus does NOT win the league over here! That might work in a defensively-minded league such as Serie A in Italy, but English football is about an attack-minded game and entertainment! Parking the bus should be restricted to a temporary tactic for the first 15 minutes of a European away game, where it is a good idea to keep the home team quiet and thus shut their fans up, lol, but other than that, it should be attack, attack, attack!

I know some Reds moaned that LvG’s style of play was boring and there was a lot of going sideways rather than forward, as though our players were crabs in a past life, but the same can easily be said about these past two seasons under Jose Mourinho. I have failed to notice any significant difference in the level of entertainment! There have been some more comebacks from losing positions, which is promising, and a reminder of the Fergie days, but that needs to happen ANY time we are not winning – there needs to be that urgency in all matches – you can’t just pick and choose which games you make an effort in!

Some more of my match-day ebook was read yesterday on the way home from our late win over the Gooners, and I have now reached 30% of Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, putting it level with The Cellist of Sarajevo on the Ongoing Concerns list. Hawksmoor, at 58% read, has now been overtaken by Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction, by David Seed, which is at 61%. I’ve got 30 days until my next book club meeting, as that is on 30th May, but I have now started The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, and have reached the 10% mark, so we’re up and running! It’s the first YA book for a while, and it’s a current Handbag Book.

Birthday pressies from work 2018

Birthday pressies from my colleagues! 🙂

Obviously, as well as all the Easter eggs, gymming, footy and occasional bits of reading, lol, April means Chief Bookworm’s Birthday, and I am now the grand old age of 45! You’ll be pleased to learn that there were some Waterstone’s gift cards amongst my pressies, one from my colleagues on the admin team at work, and one from our friends the Wisemans, so more books will be acquired. OK, books will be acquired anyway, but especially when there’s gift cards…

Ah, now I remember something else from the last time I’d blogged… I’d just got a new mobile phone, I’d upgraded after almost four years of my Sony Xperia Z2, and got myself the Sony Xperia XZ1, which is a lovely phone. However, at the time of blogging, I had a slight problem – the sim card was too big for my new phone! Hence one more night of the old one. The following day, I went to the O2 shop after work and got my new mobile sorted out and all up and running – have I ever said on here how much I love O2 Gurus?! They’re bloody brilliant! One of them helped me out online that first night and explained that I would need a smaller sim for my new phone and what I needed to do, and then another Guru helped me out in the shop when I was at the Trafford Centre the next night!

Before I wrap this up and finish the monthly review, I shall mention a few books I have acquired of late. Because Patisserie Valerie on Deansgate is right next to Waterstone’s, there was no way I could be in town on my birthday without at least a browse in my natural habitat, lol! I ended up coming away with Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, a bit of science-fiction of the time travel variety, and The Senility of Vladimir P, by Michael Honig, which seemed like it might be a good laugh! That one actually brings us up to 200 books mentioned on this year’s blog list on List Challenges! Of course, you won’t see that until the very end of this year or the start of next year, but we’re up to 200 different books mentioned already!

Also should mention that I have an Arndale Centre gift card. Not technically a birthday pressie, although I did pick it up on my birthday, but it was from the Volition course at the Manchester Cathedral visitors’ centre – if you recall, I was on a course there last summer prior to starting my current job in the September, and it was to do with getting in a job and still being in one earlier this year when they got in touch with me. I have got a lot left on the card, but I did treat myself to a couple of books, as there is a Waterstone’s in the Arndale! I think the only places in the Arndale which don’t accept the card are the key-cutting kiosk and some of the pound shops, but everywhere else accepts it.

I bought myself Dune, by Frank Herbert, and The City and the Stars, by Arthur C. Clarke. Dune is a bit of a chunky monkey of a book, but I am still quite tempted to take it on my jollies with me, if only to say I’ve read Dune on a sand dune, lol! I could start a theme here – Relevant Reads! So, if you’ve ever read War Horse while sitting on a horse, or The Beach while sunning yourself on a beach, do let me know! If you’ve got photographic evidence, even better!

Anyway, that is about it for now! Let’s see what May brings, particularly on the book front, but until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Vile Victorians (Horrible Histories) – Terry Deary
  • Six Little Miracles – Janet Walton
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Science Fiction: a Very Short Introduction – David Seed
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Kindred – Octavia E. Butler
  • The Senility of Vladimir P – Michael Honig
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • The City and the Stars – Arthur C. Clarke
  • War Horse – Sir Michael Morpurgo
  • The Beach – Alex Garland

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Food & Drink, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Humour, List Challenges, Month in Review, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Science Fiction, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

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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