London Indie Book Haul

I went to London for a work meeting the other day and decided to make the most of being in the Big Smoke and checking out some of the amazing independent bookshops there.

Starting out with Daunt Books in Marylebone (about a 20 min walk from Paddington Station), I got a facsimile hardback edition of The Body in the Library – isn’t that cover beautiful!

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Love the way the shop is laid out with a huge part of it organised by country, with a mixture of fiction and non-fiction in each section. It was also so nice being able to browse a bookshop with nothing particularly in mind to look for, I just got to look at everything I was drawn towards, and definitely could have left with more books – I’ll defnitely have to go back and would highly recommend a visit if you’re in London. I’m interested to see how the other five Daunt shops in London compare to this flagship one.

After some wandering around and going to my meeting, I found my way to Persephone Books, which is an absolutely gorgeous little shop, and they also publish neglected/out-of-print, mainly female, authors to celebrate works of fiction and non-fiction that would otherwise be forgotten.

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The books are all published with a signature grey dust jacket, but each book has individual full-colour vintage endpapers and they are beautiful.

“Persephone books are all grey because – well – we really like grey. We also had a vision of a woman who comes home tired from work, and there is a book waiting for her, and it doesn’t matter what it looks like because she knows she will enjoy it.”
Persephone Books (2018, “About Us”)

I ended up picking up Long Live Great Bardfield: The Autobiography of Tirzah Garwood, who was taught by and then married to illustrator & printmaker Eric Ravilious. I also picked up the Persephone Book of Short Stories because, well, dippability, and The Journey Home and Other Stories by Malachi Whitaker because I saw the words “Holborn” and “bookshop” and was intrigued? I also like that it’s a short story collection because I do not read enough short stories.

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I’ve already had a look at their catalogue and decided what books I want to get next! Dangerous, this book lark.

Next up I went to Gay’s the Word, the LGBT bookshop in King’s Cross and really enjoyed the experience! I don’t often go into specialist indie bookshops because there’s just not enough of them outside London, I suppose, but I really enjoyed looking around knowing that everything there had a common theme in that they were written by or about gay people.

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I went with the first in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series, because it’s been so long since I read a book in a series!! It sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I also picked up the first in Nicola Upson’s series featuring Josephine Tey, a real-life Golden Age detective fiction writer. I really enjoyed Andrew Wilson’s A Talent for Murder which was a fictionalised account of what happened to Agatha Christie during the 11 days in which she disappeared in 1926, so I feel like fictionalised stories featuring real-life crime writers is a thing now and i’m all for that.

I also picked up a pamphlet about “LGBTQ+ Night-time Spaces: Past, Present & Future” which I haven’t had chance to look at properly yet but I am looking forward to.

 

That’s it for my London indie book haul, if you’re ever in London I would definitely recommend checking out all of these shops, and I was also hoping to go to Magma and Gosh! Comics as well, bit gutted I didn’t have time.

Are there any other independent bookshops in London you’d recommend for next time I go?

Thanks for reading,
Amy x

 

Crickhowell Literary Festival 2018 Wrap Up

#CrickLitFest is over for another year.

What a crazy, tiring, inspiring, amazing nine days that was.

I met some great speakers: authors, poets, comedians, musicians. I was pretty restrained with my book purchasing however and only got 4 books over the festival!

For me, the festival kicked off with the amazing Paul Henry & Brian Briggs, a poet/musician combo reading and singing stories based around the local canal. It was heart-warming and heart-wrenching. It was great.

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Next up for me was the amazing Robin Ince, talking about his latest book, I’m a Joke and So Are You. Talking about life, death and everything in between in true Infinite Monkey Cage (minus Brian Cox) style, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and I bought his book.

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Then we had a local writing group launching their anthology to celebrate their 10 year anniversary, we had Oliver Bullough and Katy Mahood. And then there was Tristan Gooley, natural navigator.

Now I am not one for walking, not just going out just for a walk kind of walking anyway. However, I was really inspired by Tristan Gooley and his signs in nature that tell you where you are, which way you are facing etc just by looking at the shape of a tree or the angle of Orions Belt. Or knowing which direction the wind is blowing just by looking at the shape of a cloud. He was definitely inspiring, he made me consider the pros of walking for the sake of walking.

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Friday was a school event with Adam Baron (loads of fun),

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Frankenstein (super interesting),

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And Dr Brian Brivati talking about an exhibition of portraits of Yazidi women, survivors of Daesh.

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Then there was my faaaaaaaaaaaaave, Stuart Turton, interviewed by none other than Sophie Hannah! They bounced off each other so well and I enjoyed their conversation so much, I felt like the biggest fan girl in the room, or maybe second biggest after Amy from Tomes with Tea

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Sophie also had her own event in the evening, discussing her new Poirot story and how she got to write continuation novels for Agatha Christie. Words cannot express how excited I was for that and how lucky I felt for getting to be there. Swoon.

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On Sunday, the last day, I saw Neil Ansell and Bella Bathurst talk about sound and hearing loss and it’s effect on them. It turns out birdsong is usually one of the first sounds you lose when your hearing deteriorates, and that just made me feel so grateful for the fantastic things that are ears.

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Then there was Martin Dorey of #2minbeachclean fame, talking about his new book, No. More. Plastic. He was so interesting and it was great to see such an engaged audience for  a talk on saving the planet.

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Can’t wait for CrickLitFest19, but first, some sleep…

Amy x

I went to the Booksellers Association Conference 2018 and here are some photos

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I went to the BA Conference in Aston last weekend and thought you might like to see what we got up to! Here’s a sneak-peek of the “book bus” which came in very useful when transporting all our goodies home!

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First up was the Gardners Tradeshow where publishers shared with us what they were loving and promoting for Christmas. We found our good friend Adele Nozedar’s new book “Foraging with Kids” on the Watkins Media stand!

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After the Tradeshow, we got treated to Afternoon Tea with Harper Collins as they introduced us to some of their new titles – I got my proof of Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers signed by Anna James and really can’t wait to read it!

We then had a dinner provided by the Independent Alliance, who are a group of UK publishers including Atlantic Books, Faber & Faber, Granta Books and more. We got to hear from speakers like Robin Ince and Tiffany Watt Smith – it was a great evening!

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Breakfast saw Vaseem Khan talking about his newest Inspector Chopra mystery – I’ve loved these so far and am so excited for the new one!

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We then got to hear from TED speaker Margaret Heffernan and poet Benjamin Zephaniah – both were great speakers, very inspiring!

After some workshops, we got treated to a dinner by Pan Macmillan to celebrate their 175th Anniversary and got to meet Marianne Power, Alex T Smith and Kate Morton talk about their new books, another fab evening! (Do people say fab anymore?)

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Should have brought a bigger suitcase.

Can’t wait to share with you all what I’m loving out of what was generously shared with me, watch this space!

 

Thanks for reading,

Amy x

 

Wandering around the Welsh countryside (We’ve moved house!)

Hello!

Apologies for not posting for over a week, Max and I finally moved house on Monday! We’ve been so busy unpacking boxes and spending too much money in Ikea for the last six days, but everything is coming together so nicely now. (I hope to do a “house tour” blog post soon, so keep eyes peeled for that!)

This morning we went out for a walk near our new house, exploring the landscape, saying hello to the sheep, etc. I thought I’d take some photos and bring you guys along!

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Map and tea in hand, we wandered around, scampered up hills and got barked and ran at by the cutest spaniels ever.

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The views looking back were pretty incredible! (Yes, that’s a castle.)

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There were loads of interesting looking plants and flowers, definitely want to paint them!

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And I braved a walk through two sheep fields (turns out they tend to walk away from you).

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Then we reached a cow field and they’re a bit bigger and scarier, plus Max pointed out it was lunchtime (he’s on the ball, that one) so we headed back.

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And then we came home and had some lunch! I forgot to take pictures of that (-10 blogger points) but we had fried avocado, pepper vegan cheese and pesto wraps – do they have a name?

Hope you enjoyed having a look at those photos, like I said I promise lots more house-related posts really soon because we’re pretty much settled in now and it’s GREAT. Let me know if there’s anything specific you want me to talk about.

Laterz,

Amy x

Visiting the Art Chapel, Abergavenny

The other day I visited the Art Chapel in Abergavenny for the first time, after hearing so many good things. I’ve been to the associated Art Shop in the town many, many times but the owners recently opened up the Art Chapel as more of an events space with a cafe, keen on showcasing local, fresh  food produce as well as local artists and makers. (It also has the most beautiful stream running in front of it!)

We stopped for a bite to eat and I had the tastiest lentil and chard soup with sourdough (and apple juice – my favourite drink to have out). We sat in the garden area and it was so nice being surrounded by ALL the greenery.

They also had some plants for sale, I think Max and I will be returning once we’ve moved because, don’t know if I’ve told you yet, we’ll have a garden! 😉

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Inside, there were lots of books and art supplies for sale, as well as handmade ceramics, jewellery and artwork.

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I’d definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area! And then go and visit the Art Shop on Cross St, it’s so old and narrow, with really wonky stairs going up to the gallery space – just such a lovely building!

As always, thanks for reading and let me know of any inspiring places you’ve been to recently!

Amy x

Visiting Blue Ginger Gallery, Malvern

The other day Max and I went to Blue-Ginger Gallery, near Malvern, Worcestershire, with his mum to prep some work they were both exhibiting.

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Above: the view from the car park.
Below: inside the gallery.

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There was quite a lot there that I wanted to take home with me, I think knowing that we’re moving soon has just made me so excited to get nice things to fill our new house with. Like these beautiful ceramic boats and submarines by Richard Goodwin-Jones

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And these stunning pieces by Hannah Willow (I especially love the cow in the middle!)

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But back to the task at hand! I was on tape-cutting and measuring duties while Max positioned and framed. I must say, the pieces turned out pretty nice!

His work (above) will be exhibited and available to purchase from next week at the gallery if you’ve fallen a bit in love with it like I often do.

All that tape cutting and measuring made me hungry so Karin, Max’s mum, kindly treated us to some tea and cake before we left. I had pear and ginger, it was amazing.

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I also wanted to quickly point out how cool this tiny dish is that Max’s creme fraiche came in…

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You can see more of Max’s work at:

www.max-low.com
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and Karin’s at:

www.celestineandthehare.com
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And I wanted to add this photo of Max because it makes me laugh…

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Thanks for reading!
Amy