Tag Archives: Museum of London

Christmas Wishlists & How You Could Win Yours…

I don’t know if you have noticed but Christmas is arriving fairly shortly. I have to admit that despite putting up the tree and having made one or two (well 17) videos for Vlogmas this year, I have mainly been in denial. I was too ill with a dercum’s flare up to go to the Christmas party which normally sets my ‘season to be jolly’ bells off. I have also been in a slight end of the year anxiety meltdown, does anyone else get really tense by the end of a year. I love the start of a new one, it’s like a lovely new diary – all those crisp white pages. The end though, oh it’s battered to bits and everything feels like its unravelling rather than being tied up.  I have digressed, oops.

Anyway, I have been being forced into thinking about it by being asked by my mother (mainly, often) what on earth I would like for Christmas. The answer is obviously books or book vouchers. Well, she won’t do vouchers so of course a list helps. Well just as I was thinking about the books I would like for Christmas something very fortuitous happened. A new bookish social media site called Bookwitty got in touch asking if I would like to give my readers anywhere in the world a chance to win the top five books they would most like. I instantly said ‘of course’ because who doesn’t want to win some books at any time of the year. I know, you want me to shut up and tell you how to do it. Well I shall leave instructions under this little video of Bookwitty which looks like it might be a potential book website of choice for the future (I have had a play around with it and entered the competition myself, I am no fool, before just so I could see if it was good before I sent you there and it is) so have a gander.

How to create your list and win the five books…

  • Sign up at Bookwitty.com
  • Create a reading list of five books that you want for the holidays by clicking on Add content/Reading list y December 22nd 2016.
  • Link your new reading list to the topic page: Holiday reading list contest.

And you’re all set! The winner will be announced on December 23rd. Good luck!

Now I have to say I really found this link the most helpful explanation of how to do it, so off you pop, have a gander and have a go and you could win five books (worth upto $125 in total) and considering there are only five or so entries I would get clicking over there sharpish.

Oh and what were the five books that I wanted most for Christmas? How nice of you to ask the books are…

The Book of Bees by Piotr Socha

9780500650950How do bees communicate? What does a beekeeper do? Did you know that Napoleon loved bees[unk] Who survived being stung by 2,443 bees? This book answers all these questions and many more, tracking the history of bees from the time of the dinosaurs to their current plight. I saw this at the Wellcome Collection bookshop and thought it looked stunning. Plus I have a small obsession with bees. Not wasps, they are horrid.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? Stories by Kathleen Collins

9781783783403Lovers. Lovers who meet at Civil Rights Conferences, sit-ins, church rallies, art galleries. Lovers who send letters back and forth from maximum security prison. Lovers with dislocated jaws. Lovers who lose themselves or shoot themselves. Lovers who let go too soon. Love that is “colour free”. Love that makes men cry. Love that defies the strictures of race and class. In prose that slips between lush sensuality and electric melancholy, Kathleen Collins has gifted us a universe of lovers. Of poets and freedom riders struggling to get through hot lonely summers, spending night and day in dingy New York apartments. A universe of young women who step outside of their father’s homes, grow their hair wild and discover sex. Of young men whose daredevil antics disguises an abiding sadness. I saw this on the Book of the Month subscription service (they so need to ship to the UK). Admittedly this is a tough one as it isn’t out in the UK yet but will be from Granta in Feburary and I have all the wants for this.

Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper and Arsenic in the Victorian Home by Lucinda Hawksley

9780500518380Bitten by Witch Fever presents facsimile samples of 275 of the most sumptuous wallpaper designs ever created by designers and printers of the age, including Christopher Dresser and Morris & Co. For the first time in their history, every one of the samples shown has been laboratory tested and found to contain arsenic. Interleaved with the wallpaper sections, evocative commentary guides you through the incredible story of the manufacture, uses and effects of arsenic, and presents the heated public debate surrounding the use of deadly pigments in the sublime wallpapers of a newly industrialized world. I saw this in Foyles earlier this week and it was too heavy for me to carry home, sadly. It is also quite expensive but when you open it up you know why, it is stunning. Plus, it has witch in the title, is about arsenic and the Victorians = ultimate winner.

The Other World, It Whispers by Stephanie Victoire

9781784630850From the secrets of the forest, to the magic of the sea, these nine stories tell of what happens when passion, desire, loneliness and imprisonment lead us on a search for freedom and empowerment – no matter what the cost. A woman makes a deal with gods and goddesses in order to bring a slanderous town down to its knees, a man who has lost everything finds himself in the graveyards of Paris, turning to dark magic to ensure success, an opulent masked ball becomes the stage of spite and revenge, a teenage boy who believes he is in the wrong body calls out to mermaids to enchant him. With strands of classic fairy and folklore weaved through, the unknown – the silent and dark – is explored. Where spirits, deities and witches lurk, but also where the beauty of life and renewal can be found. I have seen this on Jen Campbell and Jean’s channels on booktube and have been jealous ever since. It is a collection of modern fairytales, or a modern collection of fairytales depending on your view.

Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived But Will Never Die by Alex Werner

9780091958725Ever since his creation, Sherlock Holmes has enthralled readers. Our perception of him and his faithful companion, Dr Watson, has been shaped by a long line of film, TV and theatre adaptations. This richly illustrated book, compiled by Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the Museum of London, is an essential guide to the great fictional detective and his world. Using the museum’s unrivalled collections of photographs, paintings and original artefacts, it illuminates the capital city that inspired the Sherlock Holmes stories, in particular its fogs, Hansom cabs, criminal underworld, famous landmarks and streets. Accompanying the landmark exhibition at the Museum of London, the first since 1951, this book explores how Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of Sherlock Holmes has transcended literature and continues to attract audiences to this day. I bloody love Sherlock Holmes and I saw this when I went to the Museum of London and nearly bought it then, but I was being good for which I am now kicking myself.

So there is the top of my Christmas wishlist. Do go over to Bookwitty and win some books, I would love it if one of you lovely lot won out, that would be ace. Do also tell me which books you would love to get for Christmas in the comments below, and if you have read any of the above tell me about that too – no spoilers. Thanking you.

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A Lovely Literary London Trip…

The blog has been a little bit quiet this week because I am down in London and whilst I did bring my laptop (with the intention of catching up with lots of backlogged reviews and the lije) I haven’t turned it on very much as I have been out and about doing some lovely literary and/or touristy things, so I thought I would share some of them with you. First up on arrival in London last Sunday I did something slightly sneaky, I told hardly anyone I was here. I love, love, love catching up with people however I never end up getting time to just have a wander, go shopping or take in an exhibition. I have been desperate to see the Crime Museum Uncovered at the Museum of London for ages and ages (and Sunday was it’s final day) and so stealthily I went, it was amazing.

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You can’t take pictures once you are in, because there are murder weapons and all sorts inside and it is all still owned by Scotland Yard (though there is a book), what impressed me so much was that the way the exhibition is curated and worded the emotion of it all hits you, it is very much about how murder and crime can suddenly happen to anyone by anyone and really, really makes you think about all those involved. I found it horrifying, grimly fascinating but overall very moving and effecting, the Museum of London is also just marvellous, I have no idea why I have never been there before. I spent ages wandering through the exhibitions on London during the plague, the Great Fire, the War and wandering through a Victorian street. Brilliant.

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I then went and pottered around St Paul’s, possibly looking for the First Dates restaurant and then actually for some food. I never visit tourist sights like this and it is SO London, so I wanted a potter round, though I wasn’t paying to go in – I have a theory on paying to go into churches, but that is not for now.

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I then headed to my favourite park in London, Postman’s Park. If you haven’t been you must. There is an area of the park that is a place of memories of those who have died sacrificing themselves for someone else and I never cease to find it moving.

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So that was my Sunday, I managed to be a complete tourist. Monday was spent wandering the shops and reading in cafes, or over pizza, before I met up with Eric of LonesomeReader so the Bearded Bailey’s Book Group could go to the Bailey’s Shortlist party which was very good indeed. The highlight for me might just have been standing with Janet Ellis and Sophie Ellis Bextor talking about books for 10 minutes over cocktails. Lovely stuff.

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Tuesday was more mooching and wandering sprinkled with a meeting or too, sometimes it is just nice to have a wander, before catching up with my almost ex-husband (not long to go) before heading out for dinner with the lovely Catherine Hall and some interestingly spelt Turkish food…

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Wednesday was day one of the London Book Fair. Now if, like I once did, you imagine the London Book Fair to be the Motor Show of the book world (lots of free books and the like) think again. It is a madness of sweltering sales people and deals and other goings on.

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I did however have meetings there on the Thursday but headed over on the Wednesday, with the lovely Rob of Waterstones and Adventures with Words, to go and see Deborah Levy talking about Hot Milk with Alex Clarke, who through Twitter I feel like I have known for years and who is just as lovely as I wanted her to be in real life…

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Before then seeing Jeanette Winterson talking about her new novel which takes on Shakespeare.

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I then ended up seeing lots of friendly faces as I milled round getting my bearings for the following day. I left with Rob feeling like this…

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I then caught up with my mate Andy who I hadn’t seen for seven years for an epic decompress after Olympia before readying myself for a second day, filled with meetings, before meeting up with my old co-host of The Readers, Gav of Gav Reads, we were much happier about it than we looked…

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…Before heading of to Kensington Palace (as you do) for the Man Booker International Prize shortlist party. Where I saw so many lovely faces, some who I had only met on Twitter, some who I have known a while and was delighted to catch up with all of them, and had lots of lovely bookish chats whilst also keeping my eyes peeled for royalty, ha.

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Then it was probably one of the highlights of my trip so far, but something ace is coming tomorrow, as I went off to Soho post Booker party to meet up with some of my fellow Waterstones Bloggers; Kim, Nina, Rob, Kate and Eric for some wonderful cocktails, nibbles and gossip, I mean natter…

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Rob, Kate and I then went off to meet Gav, who had been to the Terry Pratchett memorial, in a cafe on Leicester Square where we proceeded to drink coffee, eat cake and end up plotting a whole new project, more on that soon. Blimey, it has been a full week. I am now off to dash to two more meetings before going on a bookshop crawl with Gavin today, which I will report back on. It’s been such good fun and I still have a few days left. What have all of you been up to lately?

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