Catch Up

20 July

All the book are read and it was fun.

A month or two back I had run out of books to read. The canon didn’t appeal so I grabbed some from the airport (not sure how much of the canon you would find in an airport to be honest) Here’s what I thought of them

Superior Saturday – Garth Nix. Of all the books I had the highest expectations for this one. However, it was tedious, I’ve loved the previous books in the series but I kept forgetting what had happened in the earlier books which seemed to making this book seem very 2D. Had this series started to switch between his outside world and the inside world and we could really watch the development of the effects that were happened it might have been more fun. A felt really disappointed by this and am not even sure if I can wade through Sunday 🙁

A Darker Domain – Val McDermid. A great read; light, interesting and quick. Having only witnessed the miners’ strike as a young teenager on telly in a non industrial area, the whole thing seemed rather surreal to me. The early 80’s were full of riots and strikes, murders, poverty, agression, hatred. It was all very detached, the police were nice friendly trustworthy people so who were these terrifying riot garbed thugs and why were they charging on horseback at ladies? Come to that why were men throwing flaming bottles at policemen? Why were people starving in our own country? Why was Britain on fire? None of it had any bearing on my life or that or anyone around me and yet looking at the TV I just knew that it was all very wrong.

So, that was why I enjoyed this book, although not primarily about the strike, the main incidents take place during the strike and McDermid paints a clear picture of how bitter life must have been. The rest of the murder mystery is also good and there was only one really grim scene.

White Tiger – Aravind Adiga. Hmm. It was a good book, I would recommend it but I don’t feel tempted to try anything else by him and I can’t see why it won the Mann Booker. It was entertaining and a good gritty insight into an emerging economy that is still hugely traditional. Clearly the opportunities for opportunists and those who can step outside of their societal roles is enormous. This book really looked at the idea of who in this case once you are no longer hindered by values or morals you can literally make a killing. For all that though I wasn’t sure that the writing style was anything special or the story particularly unique. Maybe I should read the rest of the shortlist?

Century Rain – Alistair Reynolds. Loved it. This was great fun, great ideas and I’ve already passed it on to a few friends. Seem to remember something irritated at the time but I can’t remember what it was so it can’t have been that bad! Definately buying more of Alistair Reynolds.19:03
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Blog it16 June

Dogs in the shop

We are dog friendly and since getting Harry we are even friendlier! We have now put a water bowl outside for dogs to drink and of course they are always welcome to come in, but…. Now call me picky, whilst dogs are always welcomed it would be nice if people asked rather than assumed. Is it me or does that seem rather arrogant? I think it’s the same sort of person that looks at me in amazement and rather sneeringly reassures me that they won’t drip any of their ice cream on the books. I’m pretty immune to sneers so dogs can stay but ice creams never! LOL as I type this R4 have just started a programme on ice cream 🙂

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Blog it20 May

What happens when you run out of books to read…

Disasterous isn’t it when you’ve got nothing to read? I don’t know about you but I get really restless and despondant and despte thousands of books in the warehouse I regularly seem to run out of books to read. The situation came to a bit of a head recently when I was travelling to Norwich for a friend’s party. This was going to be by plane and coach and I had absolutely nothing to read – can you imagine! So I arrived in Stansted having got bored of the PSP and desperate for a good book. WH Smith were running a 4 for 3 promotion so I decided to treat it as a bit of an exercise. Could I pick out 4 books to read and would I enjoy them?

The first problem was paying full price for a book. As you know Hurley Books books are terrifically well priced and I pay even less! 🙂 So I couldn’t bring myself to buy a book for £6.99 when I knew it was sitting on the shelves back in the shop for £2.50.

The next problem was the choice – how on earth do you choose? I decided to pick from different genres and also pick authors that I had never read before – try something new. So this is what I choose.

A Darker Domain – Val McDermid

I’d read one of her books before “A mermaid Singing” but found it was just too bloodthirsty. However, I fell in love with the jacket cover. it was supposed to be Scotland but really reminded me of the sand dunes in Norfolk. I also fancied a whodunnit and liked the background of the miner’s strike.

The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga

Never a fan of the Mann Booker winners but I was on a mission to challenge myself. I do like Indian writing and really enjoyed Life of Pi, The God of Small Things, White Teeth, The Buddha of Suburbia and such like. So maybe this will be another good yarn.

Century Rain – Alistair Reynolds

Well I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy but I’ve never read this chap before – nice shiny cover, liked the blurb on the back so I thought I’d give it a go. Hopefully, a new author for me?

Superior Saturday – Garth Nix

This was my final rather desperate choice, only because I was running out of time. I like teenage fiction so I dashed towards the children’s section because in a shop full of hundreds of books I had only manaed to select 3 and with WHSmith offering 4 for 3 I’d be a fool to leave a book on the shelf. Thankfully there was the latest book in the Keys to the Kingdom series which I have been reading so an easy decision really.

Four books chosen – watch this blog to see what I make of them.

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Blog itThe Western Canon

Ever wondered who decided which books were “high literature.” Yesterday a customer came in and jolted my memory back to my dim and distant days of English A level and reminded me of Bloom’s Canon. As I could remember just about nothing about this (sorry Mr Mills) I went and looked it up. Harold Bloom is an American literary critic who some years back assembled a list of what he considered to be the finest and most influencial books of the Western world.

It’s an interesting list and I think his bias shines through but it’s an entertaining way to look at literature. LOADS I haven’t read and just as many that I’ve never heard of. There are some shocking omissions , go and have a look. There are hundreds and the chap who was in the shop is steadily working his way through the lot. Apparently he likes Dickens, so he’s going to be OK there then!

Incidently Bloom’s isn’t the only “Canon” all critics like to put forward their favourites. What would yours be?

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Blog it22 March

Anyone know where a warehouse is?

Honestly, how difficult do you think it is to find a warehouse and launch a commercial website. Very apparently. Well, very, if you have a long list of requirements! The software side of things has been nearly cracked but the warehouse is a nightmare. So if anyone reading this knows of a good solid building to the south and east of St. Austell do drop us a line. Ideally a chapel but you get the idea. And now you see why we are having difficulties!06:45
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Blog itFarewell Charlestown

Anyone reading this blog may have guessed just how much I love Charlestown, so the decision to leave has not been an easy one at all. I’m still hoping that under the right circumstances we may go back but for now we won’t be opening Charlestown this year. In the meantime we’ll look forward to seeing you in Mevagissey.06:42
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Blog itRecommended Guardian Retailer!

Old news really but I’ve just noticed that it I didn’t mention it at the time. Just before Christmas the Guardian selected us along with another 1000 independant stores to be featured in their Christmas shopping magazine. For a while Steve was very blaze about it until the penny dropped that it was the Manchester Guardian and the Cornish Gaurdian that was singing our praises! It was a wonderful lift to our spirits just before Christamas and rounded a good year off nicely. It also attracted new customers which is no bad thing.06:39
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Blog it09 January

Reading Group – January. Snow crash.

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson 0140232923

A cyber punk novel that was going to challenge eveyone. We haven’t looked at any sci-fi yet let alone cyber punk so it was quite a revelation for some in the group. This book has been hugely touted as one of the seminal texts in the whole sci-fi genre and is considered the next leap forward after Neuromancer by William Gibson. I found the writing quite weak to be honest and was astounded that the first paragraph ever got past and editor, talk about purple prose. I generally find that cyberpunk novels are badly written but full of wonderful ideas. Snow Crash was amazing – Sumerian cultures, Tower of Babel, Binary Code viruses, atavars etc I spent as much time background reading as reading the book itself.

This book split the group as agreed it could be better written but for half the group they couldn’t even finish it, let alone understand what they had managed to read. The other half loved the way it introduced new ideas and made you wonder where we’re all going!

The link above has a really good range of discussion questions based on the book which really deepen the way you look at the novel.

Next months choice was

Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegurt

An Equal Music – Vikram Set

Night Watch – Sarah Waters

I was expecting a Russian author this time and was looking forward to something large and meaty. As it was we chose An Equal Music so it looks like I might get a big read after all! Anyone reading this blog is welcome to join in and comment.15:52
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BooksReading Group catch up!

06 September

The Cockroaches of Stay More

0713427949 Tuesday 5th September – Helena’s

Present: Philippa, Helena, Liz & Simon.

Oh my god – this book was awful (in my humble opinion) 🙂 Just could not get around the anthropomorphic style. The characterization was totally human but the charateristics were all cockroach, I really tried but just couldn’t get on with it. Apparently it was a really clever commentry on religion but I completely missed it!

Really split opinions on this book.

1/5 Liz

2/5 Philippa

4/5 Simon

4/5 Janet

4/5 Helena

Philippa’s Selection

The links above take you to various book reviews. They may contain spoilers so read with care if you don’t want to spoil your ending. To buy a copy of the book I recommend and buy a secondhand copy through the “Marketplace”

We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini Other review

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka

Anita and Me – Meera Syal

Selected Title – A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Next meeting Tuesday October 3rd.

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Black Swan Green

Tuesday 1st August – Simon’s

Present: Rachel, Philippa, Helena, Liz & Simon.

What a strange book. Why on Earth can’t this writer finish anything he starts. There were so many interesting storylines that kept ending almost before they started, I found it hugely frustrating, I also hated the constant product placement. This character was exactly the same age as me so I thought I might have got into the feel of the book better, but it just didn’t happen.

That said, some of the writing in this book is stunningly good. “Something silent smashed without being dropped” p143 (hbk) The theme of silence runs throughout the book which has to have a bearing on his stuttering but I might be looking too deeply. Some scenes are wonderful p54 – 65 is the spat between Julia and Uncle Brian – that made me laugh out loud. In all though the book seemed a disjointed collection of stories, loosely tied to the central character. Can’t help but feel that this author is capable of a stunning novel – this could have been it but slipped.

Scored better than last week.

1.5/5 Liz

3.5/5 Philippa

3/5 Simon

3/5 Rachel

3/5 Helena

Black Swan Green has now made it to the long list for the Booker prize. Apparently it’s the bookies favourite! (guess they haven’t read it.) The Long List,,1844564,00.html Bookies odds Collection of reviews

Helena’s Selection

The Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett

The Cockroaches of Staymore – Donald Harrington. I could only find one review for this book but I did come across another blog where people were saying he was their newly discovered author and also refering to David Mitchell in the same passage!

After some soul searching Helena decided we would never read Cockroaches if given a choice, so she withdrew the Pratchett option. Cockroaches here we come!

The links above take you to various book reviews. They may contain spoilers so read with care if you don’t want to spoil your ending. To buy a copy of the book I recommend and buy a secondhand copy through the “Marketplace”

Selected Title – The Cockroaches of Staymore. Next meeting Tuesday September 5th.

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05 July


Tuesday 4th July – Rachel’s

Present: Rachel, Philippa, Liz & Janet.

Well I couldn’t stand the characters in the book and I really had it in for Mrs deWinter! Too self critical and only found self value through the eyes of others. But maybe I’m being too critical the rest of the group seemed to have a lot more sympathy for her. Call me heartless but she only gets happy and confident when she discovers her husband’s a murderer!

Also very strange view of love, she views Maxim as her “father, brother and my son” Yuk.

That said the writing is superb. Loved the rhodendrons creeping about and Mrs Danvers trying to get her to jump. Also like the way that almost nothing is revealed about Mrs de Winter.

Scored better than last week.

3.5/5 Liz

4/5 Philippa

3/5 Janet

5/5 Rachel

As we commented on the different way or three books portayed Mrs de Winter I thought I’d add a few more images.

Simon’s Selection

The Power of One -Bryce Courtney

Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby

Mother’s Milk

Black Swan Green – David Mitchell

The Caged Virgin.

The links above take you to various book reviews. They may contain spoilers so read with care if you don’t want to spoil your ending. To buy a copy of the book I recommend and buy a secondhand copy through the “Marketplace”

Selected Title – Black Swan Green. Next meeting Tuesday August 1st.

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Rebel Angels

Tuesday June 6th

Not a well loved book it seemed. It scored

5/5 Liz

3/5 Simon

2.5/5 Rachel

3/5 Helena

Dammed by faint praise. I loved it but there you go.

Rachel’s Selection

The Loop – Nicholas Evans

Rebecca – Daphne DuMaurier

Mums at home- Sophie King

Ruddlemoor – E.V. Thompson

Shellseekers – Rosamund Pilcher

The links above take you to various book reviews. They may contain spoilers so read with care if you don’t want to spoil your ending. To buy a copy of the book I recommend and buy a secondhand copy through the “Marketplace”

Selected Title – Rebecca. Next meeting Tuesday July 4th.

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First night

First Meeting 23.5.06.

I have set this blog up so that we can share comments and memories about the books we have read. It can also be used to post interesting web articles one of us might have come across. The password for getting in is reading but I guess if you are reading this that’s pretty redundant!

We have agreed to meet on the first Tuesday of each week.

We will have a maximum of 8 – 10 people.

New people must be recommended to the group first. (just to avoid people feeling bounced).

The next host will propose a few titles, the group will then select the book to be read.

Host decides on venue.

All book are considered – there are no unsuitable books.

If I’ve forgotten anything or you want to reply just start a new blog linking to this one.

Founder Members (oh we sound like Pilgrim Fathers!) Liz, Helena, Janet, Simon, Rachel, Philippa.

First selection of books.

Rebel Angels – Robertson Davies

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde

The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Wuthering Heigths – Charlotte Bronte

The links above take you to various book reviews. They may contain spoilers so read with care if you don’t want to spoil your ending. To buy a copy of the book I recommend and buy a secondhand copy through the “Marketplace”

Selected Title – Rebel Angles. Next meeting Tuesday June 6th.

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Books05 September

Top Ten Bookshops in Cornwall

A rather nice piece of news came in over the summer. Cornwall Today are running a feature on the 10 best bookshops in Cornwall and we hve been selected. How cool! Given that we have only just opened the Mevagissey shop it’s really great news – Charlestown is also mentioned, so we are obviously getting something right. Looking forward to reading the actual article – it comes out this month on the 20th. In theory it’s going to be complimentary but I’m still anxious to read it. We were mystery shopped so it will also be nice to try and work out who was flying the flag in the shops. However, I’m confident that it wouldn’t matter whch day they came in, they would have had the same friendly and helpful service.

So thanks to Helena, Janet and Dorothy for doing fabulous job at Charlestown, to Mum for being a star and to Thomas and Finn for putting up with stressed and tired parents. Steve and I are chuffed by how well the year has gone so far and we’ve still got four months to go. Roll on! 10:43
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Blog it04 September

An alternative blog

A friend suggested that this would explain the 2 month gap.


Cheers Helen, I think you hit that on the head!

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Blog itA Sunny Autumn

Hmm, a two month blog gap is quite hopeless. Maybe there were lots of fascinating entries but they all got washed away? The truth of the matter is that we’ve been so busy – which is no real complaint! In fact it was quite funny this Sunday, it was as if a switch had been flicked – the roads were clear, the supermarkets were empty, the beaches were quiet. Cornwall in September is a very different place than in August. Still lots of visitors but now that the families have gone back to school it all gets a bit calmer. Our own boys go back tomorrow and as much fun as it has been having them around it will be good to get back to a bit of a routine.15:56
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Blog it19 June

Lots of laughter

Just listening to the News Quiz on listen again. Someone made a joke about Camilla on the show and seven people in the previously quiet shop burst into laughter, then all looked at each other and laughed again! A nice, friendly sharing moment – without being all touchy feeling about it.13:35
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Blog it24 May

Big in Japan

Hey we’re going to be famous! Two ladies from a Japanese publishing comany have just been round. They publish a magazine featuring beautiful places to visit in Britain. Very glossy, visually lovely. So, they’ve focused on Charlestown and who can blame them., and they loved the bookshop and took loads of photos. Doubt I’ll ever see them as I can’t remember the name of the magazine – but hey ho, we’re on our way to global recognition!14:11
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Blog it23 May

Row Round Cornwall

Well they’re half way round, click on the link above to read their blog. They’ll be coming back in on Friday so come and wave them in.

Photos are from the Row Round Cornwall site.

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Blog it16 May

Du Maurier Festival

Brilliant event so far, despite the rain. In fact the gales only heightened the atmosphere at Menabilly where Rebecca was being performed. As the audience sat huddled under the canopy they could only wonder at what vengeful ghost was tugging at the canvas. Still trying to get tickets to see it as it’s getting really good reviews. Honestly, having a name like Liz Hurley does not get you to the front of any queue!

Went to listen to Marcus Brigstocke – very funny if slightly bluer than expected! God know what he made of us though when an argument broke out in the audience about whose cream is better – Cornwall’s or Devon’s. You may imagie which county was declared victorious!

We have a really nice range of Daphne du Maurier’s books in the shop at the moment and at only £4.99 new I don’t see them lasting much longer. Flick back to the website to have a look at the details.

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Blog it08 May

Dates for your Diary

Lots of things going on around here in the next few months. Each is well worth a visit and the Rowers are undertaking a really great challenge. All support that they can get will be welcome.

Daphne Du Maurier Festival 10th May – 19th May

A big event in a little village. An art and literature festival which has grown and grown- top list authors and commentators give talks, readings and lectures. There are also open air plays, concerts, guided walks and street events. You are as likely to rub shoulders with Michael Portillo or John Mortimer as you are with other event goers. We’re off to see Marcus Brigstocke and I’m really tempted by the Wind in the Willows river cruise. I like the idea of doing nothing for a few hours!

Row Round Cornwall – Charlestown Rowing Club. 18th May – 25th May

The first circumnavigation of Cornwall! In just eight days covering 300 miles Charlestown Rowers are going to take their gig Tormentor around Cornwall. For those of you who didn’t think that Cornwall is an island have a look at the website to see how they are going to deal with those few troublesome miles of land above the Tamar. This is a brilliant event and is raising money for great charities including the RNLI. As Anna is a lifeboat man (woman, person, whatever) we really support this event. Donations can be mad at either of our shops. Come and wave them off or even better cheer them home here at Charlestown. Why not meet them at each port of call, there’ll be live music at each port.

Mevagissey Feast Week. 24th June – 30th June

An ancient festival in honour of St Peter, patron saint of fishermen. This is an enormous event, with carnivals and fireworks galore. If you are planning on coming to stay get your accomodation sorted out quickly, otherwise we have quite a comfy doorstep!

Charlestown Regatta. 28th July – 3rd August

Now the festivals are well underway. I have a particular fondness for Charlestown Regatta as it is really friendly and manageable. There are loads of children’s events and it never feels crushed or crowded as it doesn’t suffer from narrow roads. Although it’s fair to say that the last night firework festival is HUGE! My favourite day is Sunday when we take part in the Charlestwon challenge. Read my blog for last August to see how miserably we fared last year. This time we’re going to get some practice in!

Fowey Regatta. 19th August – 25th August

A much bigger and louder event but just as much fun.

Look forward to bumping into some of you along the way.

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Blog it10 April

Happy Easter – bargains galore.

Well I hope everyone had as nice an Easter as us. We spent Sunday on Porthbeor Beach, sunbathing and splashing about. A good family day of rest given how busy we’ve all been recently. The shop is now crammed to the gunnels and Charlestown is also up and running. Loads of £1 bargains to be had outside Charlestown right now. It’s quite a challenge running the two shops but it’s a good challenge. Steve has already decided though that we need a third shop!13:07
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Blog it02 December

We’re Open and we have chocolate!

We’ve done it, we opened today and whilst there are still the odd things to sort out we’re trading. And we’ve already had customers – which helps! All a bit of a mad dash last night and it didn’t help when poor Thomas knocked over a bucket of dirty water on the carpet! we went home at that point.

Anyway now that we’re here please come and visit we’re open Monday to Saturday at the moment from 10 – 3. These are our winter hours and will stretch as the daylight does. For the next few days we will be giving away free chocolate christmas decorations so come and have a nibble.

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Blog it17 November

On the home straight.

Dear God this is hard work. I swear I have burnt grooves in the road going to and forth from Mevagissey, however it seems to have paid off as we are on budget and on schedule, fingers crossed we will have all the stock in by the end of next weekend; ready to trade on the 27th. I can’t claim the credit though as our builder is fabulous, various nightmares have surfaced and have been quickly chewed over and dealt with. that said, I have had a constant headache for the past month.

As you can see from the photos things have really come on. This weekend we paint it, on Monday we sort out the counter and windows, on Wednesday the carpet goes in, Thursday we get the shelves (the madness that is IKEA awaits) and then we stock up.

Well that’s the plan anyway!

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Blog it19 October

In which a floor is installed

God these builders are fast! we now have a floor but we might all have to learn to limbo under the existing RSJ – this could be tricky! Business at Charlestown is now SOOOOOOOOOO dead it’s amazing. Just holding on for half term, in the hope of some sort of miracle and then we close. We’ll be serving gruel at home, penury for Christmas – super! lol

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Blog it10 October

Build starts tomorrow

OK, we’re getting there. Builders go in tomorrow and maybe we’ll be ready by Christmas? Knowing our luck we’ll be ready for January – that commercial honey pot! As you can see there’s a lot to do.

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Blog it17 September

New shop assistant! Thomas takes over

Well we’ve got the apple juice back. Labelled it up and then Thomas asked if he could try and sell it at the shop! Well I always approve of a bit of enterprize so we set him up and left him to it. After an hour and no (real) sales he got bored so we brought him home again. Thanks Mum for buying three!

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Blog it14 September

We’ve bought a shop in Mevagissey !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeeha! Well we’ve done it, we are now the proud owners of a shop in Mevagissey. Currently it’s a complete wreck, the floor is simply cobbles in sand, the walls are crumbling but it’s ours! Now starts the hardwork and hopefully we will have a book shop up and running for Christmas. It has a wonderful location, being only 10 metres from the harbour. It has no views as it runs behind the pub but by the same token it is protected from storms and storm surges! It’s a large property so we will finally be able to have all our stock in one place. This means that I get my home back, another bonus.

The Charlestown shop has to close for the winter as it is not remotely weatherproof and the books swell in the damp. We think we will shut down at the end of October – weather dependent- and then re-open for Easter. We’re anticipating no shop front for about 2 months whislt we wait for the Meva place to get up and running so it will be belt and braces for a while.

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Blog it19 August

Regatta Week August 4th – 11th

Charlestown really puts on a good regatta. We had great fun getting involved. All the village was decked out in bunting so I ordered some gorgeous stuff on ebay and decked out the shop. Very Kath Kidston! Keep meaning to take a photo but whenever I remember, it’s raining! Too busy doing other stuff when the weather is good.

We started the regatta with a gig rowing competition between all the local businesses – only novices could apply so I figured that definately applied to us. Steve and I along with Simon and Helena took part and had a brilliant time coming last in woeful fashion. We were atrocious but it would appear that the other teams had at least rowed in a Gig one or two times before! We had a huge gang of support as Al, Simon, Rowan and Jasmine were staying with us plus we had Janet and Aleisha and Mike Finn and Obi cheering us on being led by Thomas and Finn. The round in the pub afterwards was terrifying! The children got hold of the tannoy and all we could hear across the harbour, apart from our own laboured breathing, and pins shattering as I caught yet another crab, was the children shouting “HURLEY BOOKS!” Bloody marvellous!!!!! Losing has never been so much fun. The cox and two professional rowers in the gig with us may not have shared that sentiment. Our gig was called “Tormentor” and has won many races but not on that day. Or at least not with us in it. On the few strokes when we all got it together, we flew, very exhilarating’ looking forward to next year already. Our thanks to Simon and Helena in rowing with us and to Charlestown Rowning Club for letting us near their precious boats.

Various other events took place through the week and ended with a massive fireworks display. We stayed open late that night and were treated by Warren who brought down three rabbit pies for us to eat. Completely out of the blue and totally delicious, a really nice way to end a very busy week. Next year though we will close early and get involved, much better than sitting in a shop!

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Book list

Century Rain (Gollancz S.F.)

by Alastair Reynolds

The White Tiger

by Aravind Adiga

Superior Saturday (The Keys to the Kingdom)

by Garth Nix

A Darker Domain

by Val McDermid

An Equal Music

by Vikram Seth

Slaughterhouse 5 (Vintage Crucial Classics)

by Kurt Vonnegut

The Night Watch

by Sarah Waters

Snow Crash

by Neal Stephenson