Tag: reading

6 weeks later…

I keep meaning to do a post, and then something comes up, and later I realise that I didn’t do my post, and think I will do it now, but manage somehow to get myself sidetracked and BOOM! Forgot to post again. I do not know what is going on with me. So, forgive me for my tardiness!

Fish…

Since last we “spoke” as it were, I finally got rid of my large tank in the lounge. Part of me was glad to get rid of it, and part of me was sad to see it go. The fish love their new smaller home and my Cameroon shrimp seems happy too. Although it was a great tank it took up quite a lot of room, being so massive. We have a unit that we moved into one of the halls when we got the tank, so that is now back in the lounge. My thoughts for getting rid of the tank was to move the smaller tank onto the said unit and get another small tank and finally do a nano reef tank. However, the cost of doing a reef tank is high. I have found a nano tank I like which is £150, but then I need a skimmer and a heater so that’s another £90. Add sand, live rock and all the other bits I need to get it started and I am close to £500 without even adding fish or coral. So, before I take the plunge I have downloaded and printed a book on the subject and intend to read it in full before I decided on what to do. Having spoken to a few people the jury really is out. Some say it is easier than tropical, some say get a large tank as a nano can have problems being small, and others rave on about nano tanks, so there is no real help chatting to others LOL.

I bought an external 12-litre canister filter for my other large tank which works like a treat, but today I added on an extra 2-litre filter canister to that. In essence, water is drawn out of the tank to the small sub canister then passed into the large canister and finally put back into the other end of the tank. I did manage to make a bit of a watery mess as I had not fastened one of the inlet pipes properly oops! I had lost a few fish over the last few weeks, so thought the canister filter would help sort the water quality out. It has UV inside so sterilises the water as it filters. The lighting I have on the tank also decided to die, only 6 weeks after it being exchanged after the first one died after 4 months. Thankfully the aquatic centre where I get most of my equipment and livestock were very understanding and spoke to Fluval who admitted there was a problem that they have now sorted out and to exchange it for me.

Dogs…

Harper with her Birthday monkey

It was Harpers 5th Birthday on Sunday. As always we took them to McDonald’s for hamburgers, then to the pet store so Harper could pick a toy, which this year was a rather large monkey, and two packs of balls. Needless to say, they both had a great time.

Knitting…

Thought about it, even mentally made a pattern for a hat for winter, but that was it, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

Books…

I was reading The Massacre of Mankind which is a sequel to War of the Worlds and in the end, I gave up as it was so slow and the author was trying to write in the style of H. G. Wells but failed page after page. As most of my readers will know I love classical literature, so have no problem with ancient writing and old English, but this bad, if he had written it in current English it would have been a good read.

Outings…

I went to a joint Christening and Communion party a few weeks ago, got very drunk and had a ball.

Last week we went to Delamere Forest again, which for some reason driving there we managed to take all the wrong turns. I came off the motorway/highway onto the expressway in order to go over the Mersey Gateway Bridge, which when you get to the end of the expressway is straight over the roundabout, however, when you follow this, you end up in an industrial estate and nowhere near the bridge. It would seem the directions for the bridge do not exist, and when you get to the end of said expressway you turn left and ignore the signs. But as I managed to turn the wrong was we ended up back on the motorway heading in the direction of home. Time though was on our hands. My satnav said we would get there at 11:15 when we left home and although I managed to go on a long diversion of 20 minutes we got there at 11:22 thus proving that time travel can be achieved.

Education…

The degree is now on hold. I was so undecided about doing it that I thought it best to put the thought to one side until I was 100% committed to doing it.

General…

After returning from Ireland I had tests and a cardiac assessment done. My blood results came back reporting a lack of vitamin D, which is about right living so far north and the general lack of sun. But I also did not have enough of the good cholesterol either, but this could be due to coeliacs disease. The doctors’ office suggestion was to take vitamin D tablets and eat more oily fish etc. Luckily I found a company that sells vitamins on Amazon and they do a vitamin D that is 4000iu, and when you buy a product they thank you by letting you pick another one for free. I decided on Hemp oil tablets as they are for omega 3 and 6, so that’s the bloods sorted.

The scarecrow festival came and went, and I managed to take exactly zero photos of it. I mean, what is the point of having a great camera, living in the country, and having festivals if I do not record it? Answers on a postcard, please!

We bought new garden furniture, namely a table, chairs and a parasol, just in time for the monsoon season to hit us. Yes, my luck/timing really is in at the moment.

I have managed to have a few barbeques lately, between showers that is.

I finally took the leap into meditation after dipping my toes off and on into it over the last few weeks. I have joined Headspace for a year, and am finding it quite good and just have to add it into my daily routine.

In other news, I had a puncture in one of the rear tyres on the car.

So, how are you all?

Reading Challenge – April Update

19 books read so far, and now 10 books ahead of schedule in 17 weeks. Happy about the result so far. April’s books were…

This book is not for the faint hearted at all. I found the whole thing quite disturbing that human beings can be so cruel. Do not get me wrong, it was a good book, just disturbing.

In July 1965, teenagers Sylvia and Jenny Likens were left in the temporary care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a middle-aged single mother and her seven children. 

The Baniszewski household was overrun with children. There were few rules and ample freedom. Sadly, the environment created a dangerous hierarchy of social Darwinism where the strong preyed on the weak. 

What transpired in the following three months was both riveting and chilling. 

In October 1965, the body of Sylvia Likens was found in the basement of the Baniszewski home, where she had been imprisoned. She was starved, beaten, burned and had the words “I am a prostitute and proud of it” carved into her stomach. 

Gertrude Baniszewski oversaw and facilitated the torture and eventual murder of Sylvia Likens. While she played an active role in Sylvia’s death, the majority of the abuse was carried out by her children and other neighbourhood youths. 

The case shocked the entire nation and would later be described as “The single worst crime perpetuated against an individual in Indiana’s history”


For my overseas readers, Leon and June are two people featured on Channel 4’s Gogglebox. It is an insane idea, but on Friday evenings at 9pm, we sit in front of the TV and watch ordinary people watch TV, listen to their reactions and general conversations. A little Orwellian, but very entertaining. Leon was a beloved member of the Gogglebox people who died at Christmas 2017. He and June were in our lounges each week, entertaining us with their madcap moment, Leon’s love of food and general opinion of everything that was going on in the world. Oh, he was also from Liverpool, so he endeared our hearts greatly with his scouse wit and his unfaltering love of June. When Leon passed away June decided to write about their lives as it was one of the things Leon said he would do.

As founding cast members of hit television show Gogglebox, Leon and June won the hearts of a nation with their warm humour and unending love for each other. When Leon sadly died at Christmas 2017, Gogglebox viewers were bereft, calling for a state funeral for our national treasure. In this touching memoir, she looks back at all of the laughter and love they have shared together; letting us in on the secrets to a truly happy marriage in this wonderful celebration of two lives well lived.

Together for 63 years, coming to terms with life without Leon has been a difficult process for June. But the many treasured memories of their marriage will never leave her. From when, aged 18, she first laid eyes on Leon at teacher training college in 1955; their journey to marry when their parents disapproved; happy recollections of 1960s Liverpool; to building a loving home and family together before finding fame as pensioners. Firm favourites of Gogglebox, they were loved for their gentle teasing, Leon’s cheeky gags and humorous rants, and June’s unerring patience and caring touch. 

Leon and June have experienced their fair share of highs and lows, but they always got through everything together. As Leon always said,

‘As long as June’s here, I’m all right.’


I had read the inside cover details of this book and just had to read it. The UK Government decides that all cars need to be autonomous and with that people no longer have full control. Chilling, especially since the current government had decided to outlaw diesel and petrol cars by 2030, so this is now only one step away from this book being fact rather than fiction.

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

The new gripping page-turning thriller from the bestselling author of THE ONE – soon to be a major Netflix series.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?


I have always loved this book, so decided to read it again. I just find it a shame that all movies made from it are set in the USA, when it was originally set in Surry southwest of London.

They came from outer space — Mars, to be exact.

With deadly heat-rays and giant fighting machine they want to conquer Earth and keep humans as their slaves.

Nothing seems to stop them as they spread terror and death across the planet. It is the start of the most important war in Earth’s history.

And Earth will never be the same.


Being a country boy, having worked on farms, and love all things animal I decided to read about Julian’s life as a Vet. He is a partner at the original practice of James Herriot (real name James Alf Wight)

Star of Channel 5’s television series The Yorkshire Vet, Julian Norton has written a warm and evocative memoir of his life and the animals and people he has met along the way.

Just as happy calving a cow, treating a dog with cancer or tending to the overgrown teeth of a rabbit, Julian’s passion for his work shines through on every page.

From his first thoughts of becoming a vet through his training and the pressures and challenges faced by vets on call, through the terrible times of the BSE crisis in the 1990s and Foot and Mouth in 2001, dealing with unexpected exotic pets, and handling excitable humans, too, Julian has seen all sides of the veterinary world.

Sometimes sad, often funny and always warm and compassionate, his tales bring to life the world of the working vet and the highs and lows he faces daily.

Reading Challenge – Feb

As you will know, and if you don’t, take yourself off to a darkened room and a laptop and read my blog, god-damn-it. Only kidding! I set myself a challenge of 30 books to read this year, so far I have managed 6 and I am part way through far too many to mention, but here are the ones I have managed to read up to now.

Sequel to SCOUSE GOTHIC. Gothic/fantasy thriller set in present-day Liverpool. 
The same characters from Scouse Gothic return and find that their pasts and present continue to become further intertwined. Vampires and mortal co-exist and discover that the boundaries between friends and family, good and evil becomes even more blurred. 
Included are maps of Liverpool marked with references to the text, illustrations and recipes based on characters and events in the story.


Based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—a love story in the midst of atrocity.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.


Life can be difficult – even when you’re dead. 

Lathom lies awake. His nights are plagued by nightmares and his days by hallucinations and cravings for blood. Worse still he’s stone cold sober all the time – immortality has its drawbacks. 
Melville has decided to put his past behind him and live for the future – unfortunately, his past has other ideas. 
Peter is worried that his research might create human vampires – and also that he may already know one. 
Frank ponders how to make an omelette without breaking your favourite egg. 
And Sheryl wonders if it’s unnatural for vampires to live together. Perhaps, love isn’t all you need – perhaps all you need is blood.


A new edition of one of the best-selling and best-loved books of recent years, with a new introduction by the author. The publication of Wild Swans in 1991 was a worldwide phenomenon. Not only did it become the best-selling non-fiction book in British publishing history, with sales of well over two million, but it was also received with unanimous critical acclaim, and was named the winner of the 1992 NCR Book Award and the 1993 British Book of the Year Award. Few books have ever had such an impact on their readers. Through the story of three generations of women — grandmother, mother and daughter — Wild Swans tells nothing less than the whole tumultuous history of China’s tragic twentieth century, from sword-bearing warlords to Chairman Mao, from the Manchu Empire to the Cultural Revolution. At times terrifying, at times astonishing, always deeply moving, Wild Swans is a book in a million, a true story with all the passion and grandeur of a great novel. For this new edition, Jung Chang has written a new introduction, bringing her own story up to date, and describing the effect Wild Swans’ success has had on her life.


The Pope is dead.

Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election.

They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals.

Over the next seventy-two hours, one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.


From the ocean, it rose.

Every fourteen months it appears on a secluded beach in a small town just before dawn.

One morning during his daily run to the beach, Danny Lynch witnesses the strangest and most incredible thing he’s ever seen.

A dark, man-like figure emerges from the ocean, stands for just a few moments on the beach, and then retreats back to the surf.

Danny’s perspective on the world changes in an instant, and as the only eyewitness to this event, his mission now is to convince anyone who will listen that what he saw was real.

But with only a vague photo and a dubious story, that task is proving almost impossible, and his only hope may be in finding a mysterious woman who was at the beach earlier that morning, and who may hold the terrifying secret that could cost Danny his life.

What did Danny see? And why is he in danger?


So far so good with my challenge, and I am three books ahead of schedule. One of the current books I am halfway through is Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, set in the decade after WWII. It is a little odd, but enjoyable. I read some reviews and it really does divide the readers, some find it a ramble of thoughts, but I cannot see what they are moaning about, it is written like a memoir, so it will ramble, but there are correlations throughout. I loved The English Patient, both book and film, and when I saw this was was drawn to it. It was in my shopping cart for weeks on end, as I thought it would drop in price, and in the end, I yielded to its allure. Then again, any book in a book shop has a big allure.

I love the feel and smell of a book, especially brand new ones, and very old ones that have a heady lived-in smell. I am sure that if you like your books like me you will understand my ramblings. If heaven exists, then for me it would have to be an enormous library with comfy sofas, good coffee and deafening silence. Void of screaming children, people, mobile phones, or any distraction from the words in the books. Oh! and an automatic food bar, so I could eat too. Maybe a knitting section with an abundance of yarn and patterns, after all, I would need some form of exercise LOL. But this is heaven so I would not have to worry about exercise really or getting fat etc., as that is all sorted out on arrival. So there it is my heaven, a place to read, knit, drink coffee and eat without getting fat. Fingers crossed I am right!

Expanding Library

In the words of Jim Carey, “Somebody Stop Me”.

I bought more books. I cannot help it, it is like an addiction. Anyway, this is what I bought today.

  • English: A Story of Marmite, Queueing and Weather – Ben Fogle
  • Up: My Life Journey to the Top of Everest – Ben Fogle
  • Blood for Blood – Victoria Selman
  • The Killer Collective – Barry Eisler

At this rate, I need to learn to read a book a day. I bought M some great books for Christmas too, 2 of which I would like to read, and my parents bought him the latest Churchill book “Churchill: Walking With Destiny”, which is another one that I want to read too. Maybe I should start practising my speed reading. Yes, I can speed read, but I prefer to go at a natural pace and take the book in, visualise what’s going on, and transfer the words to the movie projector in my mind. A prime example would be Bird Box by Josh Malerman, which I read in October, then watched the film in December and discovered the moved that played in my head from the book was far better than the actual movie itself.

Anyway, someone, please stop me from buying more books than I can possibly read in my lifetime, or send me a vampire to make me immortal.

Reading Challenge

So, in Goodreads, I pledged to read 30 books this year. I was thinking of only doing 20 as I have some really big books to read this year. I also have about 600 books that I still have not read sitting on bookcases about the house. We have bookcases near every room, and in all our halls, which we have 4. I do love books and am more than happy to sit and read all day every day, not that that is productive by any means, but if I could I would.

So far I have read one book, and I am part way through my next book, but being an avid reader does cause problems as I tend to have about 14 books on the go at any one time. I am also a Kindle lending library member, a Kindle unlimited member, Kindle first reads member, and I have access to ebook from the county library too. So all in all, if I never bought another book in my life, when I come to the end of my time on the planet I will still have shelves of books that I never got round to reading. Part of me feels sad about this, but I knew when I was in my early 20’s that I would never get to read all the book I ever wanted to before I died. Back then I could get through a most Stephen King novels in a weekend. I remember back when I was 21, one Saturday I went to Woolworths and bought James Herberts Creed, came home and hung off the end of my bed and read it from cover to cover (320 pages) that day. On saying that, at that time I was a big fan of James Herbert and Clive Barker, so I tended to consume books back then. These days I seem to have little time to read, and if I do get to sit down with a book, the dogs want to play, or generally, want to stop me from reading.

With a bit of determination, I will surpass this goal.

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