Well after a year of everyone telling me how good this book was I thought I had better read it. So I put it forward to the reading group as our next choice and thought no more about it until I started reading it on holiday. Now our reading group tends towards modern English literature, sometimes introspective and thoughtful, often very well well written. So my heart plummeted when in the first few pages we had a sex scene, a vicious murder, and a female potential terrorist. Gripping, pacey, exciting but hardly the stuff that Booker prizes are made of. That said it was great fun and I tore through it, a great thriller, albeit with a few plot holes you could drive a smallpox laden juggernaut through. When the book group got back together the vast majority enjoyed it for the exciting thriller it was and were prepared to overlook the literary weaknesses.
A Year of Reading Dangerously – Andy Miller
Well I picked this one up on a recommendation and was instantly hooked. It’s all about a journalist that makes a conscious decision to get back into reading and so he takes us through a year of his life in books. This really is a great read for anyone that loves books, he’s honest, funny, smart, sometimes wrong, sometimes right but always engaging. I loved it
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
Another much hyped book but oh boy did this one stink. Apparently it had a killer plot twist, shame it was obvious within the first few chapters. Worse, it didn’t have a single redeeming character in it. not one. I wanted them all to get framed or murdered, they were so deeply unpleasant.nicely written, nice conceit but just too flawed.
Armada – Ernest Cline
This was about as disappointing as it gets. Derivative, trite, boring. Standing on its own it would have been awful but tragically it follows Ernest Cline’s debut novel Ready Player One, which was fabulous. Can’t even be bothered to give you a synopsis. Top tip, read Ready Player One. Never ever feel tempted to read this.
Foxglove Summer – Ben Aaronovitch
So I was feeling a bit anxious about this as I had been really looking forward to this. Rather like Armada. Plus two bad books on the trot always makes a reader feel nervous. Is that it. Has the magic of reading gone? Are there no more good books? Didn’t need to worry, this was great fun. As usual. PC Grant is assigned to the Met Office Division of the Occult. Everything is normal London plus wizards and river gods and the like. Author was toying with perceptions of race / colour. Kept me on my toes. Managed to tone it down just before it got annoying but it may jar for some.
The Winter Crown – Elizabeth Chadwick
I love historical fiction but I tend to avoid the more romantic novels and I really dislike the poorly researched books. I tried a Chadwick a few years ago and couldn’t get on with it. Picked up The Summer Queen by Chadwick last year as it was about Eleanor of Aquataine and really enjoyed it. This is book two and is continuing in the same vein. Eleanor is a great historical figure and is being treated with great insight, right or wrong, Chadwick is convincing and tells a good tale.
Do you like hidden treasure? Finding a little something extra that you didn’t know you had? I do so I was really tickled to discover spare spine labels. So far I’ve only discovered three but I never knew what to look for before. I can’t find anything written about this so at the moment its all a bit of a treasure hunt.
You need to be looking for cloth bound books from the early twentieth century. On their spine there will be a paper spine label, or evidence that there may have been one in the past. Now turn to the back few pages, tucked in at the spine you may just find a spare spine label, helpfully supplied by the publisher for when your label fell off. In some books the spine label apparently is part of the adverts that you often find in the back few ages. Not found one of those yet.
Below is an example of a pretty destroyed book but look at how lovey the book cloth is, also lovely publishers crest / bookplate featuring unicorns. And there hiding in the back is the spare book label. Athletes of God, Shirley Hughson. Philip Allan. 1930
Two Rupert Brooke’s both published by Sidgwick and Jackson, 1922 & 1915
So, do you have any? I’d love to see them. Can you add the publisher and the year. One embedded in the adverts would be cool.
Sacred wells have played an important part in the culture and landscape of Cornwall for several millennia, and continue to do so. Holy Wells: Cornwall is a collection of beautiful colour photographs of forty-five of the most important and pre-eminent wells in the county, accompanied by an informative text about the history and legends associated with them, and a number of poems celebrating them by Robert Southey, Arthur Quiller Couch and others.
Like Wales and Ireland, Cornwall was an influential centre for the Celtic church and pagan places of worship were taken over by Christianity. Many Celtic saints – St Piran, St Euny, St Nonna, St David, St Mary, St Cuby, St Anne, St Sampson – are referenced in the names of churches and wells which stand in towns and villages, alone on moorland next to stone circles and iron age settlements, hidden in valleys and even in sea caves. Phil Cope takes the reader on a journey of discovery through densely wooded terrain, past bare tors, into ancient churches and along almost forgotten road and tracks, to lead us to special places of wonder and enrichment.
Holy Wells: Cornwall includes over 150 photographs, together with a map, bibliography and index.
I can understand how a nation that was creating itself anew and taking in people from all nationalities might want a sort of rule book of how to speak and spell, whereas the British have a huge history of literature and documents surrounding them and would view a dictionary in a different light. We have also watched our language twist and turn and change completely and so may have a more relaxed attitude to the finality of a word, its spelling and its meaning.
I found it interesting that so many law cases in the USA cite definitions of words. To me this was very much the trick of a first year undergrad student. Offering a definition had two purposes, the first was to pad out my word count, the second was to show off that I knew something that I didn’t know five minutes earlier. I suspect that not one of my lecturers was fooled. Defining words in essays faded away as I headed towards my masters and was only used when I was deliberately trying to show a change in historical or cultural perspectives. Otherwise defining a word seemed like something for beginners. Clearly I am not smarter than the professional legal system of America so there is obviously a divide in the way we view a dictionary. I agree with Lynne’s suggestion that a dictionary is viewed as a dry point of reference in the States rather than a collection of curiosites.
I got the impression from her article that it would be a very un-American thing to read a dictionary just for the fun of it, to explore and discover; or to compare one dictionary against another. Maybe to trace a word back and watch the culture change around the word and vice versa?
So do I view a dictionary as a bible? No I don’t, it’s far more important primarily because of its fluidity 🙂
Of course we all love books but sometimes we also sell books by the yard, so to speak. Previous clients have included the Eden Project, The Eden Cafe, La Cote and we also provided all the books for the Richard Curtis film “About Time” as well as a German production of Peter Pan.
We have seen our books transformed into chairs, flying bird installations or as simple beautiful props. Working on the About Time project was fun but pulling 1000 books together on a visual theme in just a week was a big ask but we did it.
Flying books in the Eden cafe in St Austell – very Harry Potter
We have also provided the library for the Scarlet Hotel as well as Bedruthan, in both cases we were given a few titles and then asked to build collections around those themes. Again, these were really enjoyable projects as they appealed to my previous incarnation of Librarian.
Getting some books together.
So if you ever need a shelf of pretty books, or a load of books that will be carved up or need a whole library built up please get in touch. we love projects like this and can generally pull something out of the bag.
All those books and many, many more came from Hurley Books!
Pretty props in a pretty shop – La Cote, Mevagissey
Christmas day and everything is warm and wonderful. You’ve had breakfast, maybe gone to mass, been on a bracing walk. The fire is roaring and you are gathered around the tree. What will this year’s gift be? An itchy jumper? Some vouchers? A food blender?
Or what about a tailor made hamper full of books and little luxuries? Can you imagine how great that would be? Some wonderful books, a journal, a bath melt, some chocolate all packaged in a wicker hamper with straps and carrying handle.
We can make up any hamper on any theme; avid reader, sporting enthusiast, writer, connoisseur or Cornish interest. We can also make it up for anyone; husband, father, boyfriend, wife, daughter, godchild, postman.
Hampers start from £25 this include as wicker hamper, book, bar of chocolate and luxurious bath melt or soap. You can either leave it up to us which flavours / title to put in or you can specify every item. We’ll let you know what’s available and you can pick and choose. After that the world is your lobster. How about just books! Or some exquisite pieces from Rory Dobner. Add a bottle of something sparkly. Whatever you do you’ll be sure of getting and receiving the best present ever!
I’ve just made my first Vine, which for those of you that don’t know, is the current latest social media thing. A vine is a six second video, I’d have thought Vix would have made more sense as a name but hey ho. I’m still waiting for someone to come and ask me to rule the world so until they do we shall have to endure Vines over Vixes and toothpastes ads filmed on the huh. The reason for the Vine was to celebrate Dylan Thomas’s birthday. Anyone can join in and ask for a line of poetry, the organisers then send you a short line that you present as a video and return it to them. they will then stitch them together and they will have a nation re-telling all of Dylan Thomas’s poems. My sister put me onto it and it sounded like a fun thing to do. https://www.dylanthomas100.org/
I’ll ‘fess up and declare that my knowledge of Dylan Thomas’s works is poor. I know the first bits of Milk Wood and of course Do Not Go Gentle but that is pretty much it and so I waited eagerly for my e-mail to see what randomly generated line I might get. Of course I secretly hoped for Bible Black and then feared getting it. In fact who could possibly do that line better than Richard Burton?
Millinery by Ellsewhere
The e-mail pinged and lo “A girl mad as birds bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume.” I was thrilled! The line meant nothing to me, I had never heard or read it before but birds and madness? How wonderful! I have always been fascinated with the connection between birds and insanity and I’m not alone, our language is littered with references to bird like behaviour, cloud cuckoo land, bird brain, all of a twitter. Currently I love the work of Ellsewhere and Suzy Sharpe and this line of poetry made me realise that I have always loved this type of imagery so I tried to trace it back. I thought I had found the root with Angela Carter’s mesmerising Fevvers, the protagonist in Nights at the Circle but no, I read Poe’s Raven before that, however even before that old sage, I grew up listening to the tales of Baba Yaga and her hut that moved on chicken’s legs. But maybe it’s more fundamental than that, quite simply who hasn’t looked at a bird and wished that they to could fly. Escape, soar, loop the loop (not sure how many birds loop the loop but I would).
Sketch by Suzy Sharpe
Anyway, thrilled, I went to seek out the poem to get a better grip on the sentence, the e-mail appeared to have failed to send over the right amount of commas. Now it seems the Dylan and I have something in common, whilst we both know that grammar is a useful thing, our teachers told us so, we often forget to use it. In fact Mr Thomas is well known for his grammatical laissez faire. I wish I had known him in school, I might have tried to plead Dylan Thomas when my red scrawled homeworks were returned to me. So whilst I was sympathetic to him, I was a bit stuck as to how I should read this poem. This is how it is laid out.
A stranger has come To share my room in the house not right in the head, A girl mad as birds
Bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume. Strait in the mazed bed She deludes the heaven-proof house with entering clouds
Right then, A girl mad as birds – easy, rat ta ta tat. Love it. Next? Bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume. Huh? OK So not only do I not understand it, I don’t understand it even if I try to put commas in. Who is bolting the night, the girl or the birds? I could cope with that ambiguity if there was a full stop after night but there isn’t, it’s night of the door. What is the night of the door? The door of the night makes more sense. Moving on, if we ignore night, I can understand bolting a door with an arm but her plume? A birds wing? Water? A head dress? I am envisaging a pale white arm thrown up to throw the bolt at the top of an oak door. So; A girl, mad, as birds bolting the night of the door, with her arm her plume. or A girl, mad as birds, bolting the night of the door with her arm, her plume. or any other variety of randomly strewn commas. Hmm. Despite this unexpected challenge I downloaded the Vine software and me and my son tried to film 6 seconds. At this point can I just say bravo to all the directors out there, and the sound engineers, the lighting gaffa, even the best boy. It took Thomas and I over half an hour and we still didn’t get it right but rain stopped play. I wanted the shot to look a little dishevelled and arty (I got scruffy school girl project) but transferring what is in your head onto a screen is sooo hard. We had some great ideas including throwing feathers in the air, this was great fun and included stabbing a pillow and a lot of laughter, I also tried to make my clothes look messed up but Thomas though I looked like a prozzie – his words. Take, after take, after take 🙂 Finally we gave in and figured that something had to be right. Only to discover that we hadn’t actually saved any of the shots! Dear god. Back to fumbled lines – could not get door and night in the right order, swinging lights, dying batteries, backcombed hair, chewed off lipstick, so it went on until finally the rain put us out of our misery. Actually we had had a hell of a lot of fun doing it and although the finished item is not what I wanted, the project was great fun and in my mind total success. Below is the clip that Thomas and I decided on. When the whole poem is stitched together I’ll add that link as well. God just realised that I may have messed up other people’s efforts by screwing mine up and reading it all wrong. Bugger. I do hope I’m surrounded by fun loving, amateur, idiots, not actual clever artists. Still I’ll make them look good. Bravo Dylan, you mad old bugger.
Love in the Asylum A stranger has come To share my room in the house not right in the head, A girl mad as birds
Bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume. Strait in the mazed bed She deludes the heaven-proof house with entering clouds
Yet she deludes with walking the nightmarish room, At large as the dead, Or rides the imagined oceans of the male wards.
She has come possessed Who admits the delusive light through the bouncing wall, Possessed by the skies
She sleeps in the narrow trough yet she walks the dust Yet raves at her will On the madhouse boards worn thin by my walking tears.
And taken by light in her arms at long and dear last I may without fail Suffer the first vision that set fire to the stars.
This young adult novel blends witchcraft and gang culture and makes for a refreshing read in a crowded market.
In a London that we almost recognise, gangs and chavs rule the streets, the elite have their private schools and their country clubs but running through all the tensions is witchcraft.People who develop the talent have to register with the ministry and are then subdued with chains or put to work.Anyone using magic to kill is burnt at the stake. Sorcery is the domain of the downtrodden and oppressed, anyone who develops the skill is viewed as either scum by the ruling classes or as a talented asset by the under classes.
Into this scenario step Glory and Lucas, Glory comes from a long line of witches but wishes to escape the crime and poverty. Lucas is the heir to the chief Witchfinder but sympathises with the witches brutal suppression.On the same day they both develop the talent for witchcraft, throwing themselves into each other’s life and onto a path that might change their whole society.
The book is exciting, challenging and very modern.Even better, it is the start of a series which is going to be a huge hit.
Dirt is a short, brutal and deeply unsettling book. Told in the third person but always following Galen we see the world through his eyes, immediately it is clear that his home life is unusual. Galen is 22 and lives alone in a large mansion with his mother; the only other characters in this book are Galen’s Aunt, his cousin and his Grandmother. The small cast adds to the claustrophobia of this book as we discover that their wealth, amongst other things, has fractured his family along disturbing lines.
Over the course of a weekend trip to the family mountain lodge Galen’s grip on reality moves from eccentric to dangerous as he is provoked and challenged by his female relatives. It is equally apparent, that everyone else in the family is affected by their hidden past. None of the characters in this book are likeable or even sympathetic despite suggestions of great abuse in their background but the beauty of the simple writing pulls you in as it sucks you down into the nadir of Galen’s madness. It is the clear, fragile writing that carries this book and makes it something quite unforgettable.
Little People – Jane Sullivan – Release Date: June 1st.
This is a wonderfully gothic tale from Jane Sullivan that will grip readers from the beginning.
The story opens with Mary Ann, a disgraced governess preparing to drown herself when she sees a child in the river. Thoughts of suicide leave her as she goes to rescue the child but instead she discovers that she has rescued Tom Thumb. Set in 1871 the story follows the fortunes of General Thumb’s tour of Australia. Billed as the world’s smallest man, Thumb and 3 other little people toured the world entertaining royalty and politicians as well as giving regular theatre performances.