Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Film Book

I have the habit of collecting cinema tickets, and they looked quite tackly on my wall and wardrobe. So I decided I wanted to do something with them.

I made a book, with softer covers than usual as well as a little room on the spine to allow for thickness and flexibilitiy - the soft covers mean I can bend the covers back and write with ease.

On every page I will stick in the cinema ticket and write a reiview of what I remember of the film.

Here's what I have so far.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Paignton's Well Read

Paignton – a bustling, touristy sea-side town, resplendent with arcades and charity shops. Paignton offers to a tourist every part of what a British holiday should be, including sticky rock and postcards. It also offers to those holiday makers who want to escape from their holiday escape, in the form of three bookshops in which are contained hundreds of journeys to embark upon.

Of the three, Parkside Books is most ideally situated right among the arcades. On your way to Lidl you may pop into Parkside and pick up value books, too. ‘Budget Fiction’ a sign proclaims in the window. This shop does exactly what it says on the tin.


Our second bookshop is perhaps not so perfectly situated but draws in booklovers regardless. Flying the flag for independent bookshops, The Torbay Bookshop was busy as I stepped in. Colourful, personable and welcoming, the bookshop offers the unique advice-over-the-counter with friendly staff that is so hard to find in big chain bookshops. That, and the shelves are continually updated. The shop has a clear layout and offers, as any good bookshop should, a book ordering service from reliable and nifty resources. It is efficient and yet holds a lot more personality than some other shops out there. And what about the book signings and other literature based events? The Torbay Bookshop is rather brilliant. Why not enjoy a Thornton’s coffee whist contemplating a possible purchase?

Readers may have noticed a distinct lack of bookshops of the second-hand variety in Paignton. Not to fear! Situated close to The Torbay Bookshops lies your redemption. Epicentre has a distinct hand-made quality to it, and you would be excused of thinking, as you step in, that this was somebody’s living room. Deep, comfortable sofas entice readers to perch in bliss and contemplate the vast array of books on the walls. Books surround every surface and they all seem hand-picked. It has books whose condition makes it seem unread, practically new: and it has those delicious old books that mark this shop from the rest. You may notice that a coffee machine lies behind a homely counter, and that there is a menu offering delectable dishes at moderate prices. Epicentre is a gem of Paignton, offering creative workshops and a variety of good quality books. Doubly satisfying, is you are a vegetarian, for there is no mention of meat anyway on the menus.

All good things come in threes, someone once may have or may have not said. The bookshops in Paignton cater to every kind of book browser, including vegetarians and chocoholics. It offers the best of books, in a variety of different shops, and it is a town that is very definitely well read.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Dartmouth Community Bookshop

I remember seeing the Harbour Bookshop swathed in scaffolding, and my heart plummeted. This bookshop of literary significance had just become another victim to the decline of independent bookshops. Goodness knows what terror may spring up in its place.
But, a beacon in the dark: hand written signs, pointing up the dank and narrow alleyway running alongside the late bookshop, proclaiming books could be found.
Emerging from the alleyway into a pretty street, the sun shone relentlessly onto a bright and bustling, paint-fresh bookshop.
 It wasn’t just the warmth of the sun that comforted me after such a blow. I knew, stepping into the shop, that here was a project I wish would exist in every town. Condensed into a small shop were books, smelling factory fresh, delicately chosen to sit proudly on the shelves.
 Dartmouth Community Bookshop’s Facebook page proclaims its simple aim – to retain the tradition of a book lover visiting a bookshop; of the encounters with books that can’t be found anywhere else, especially not on the internet. It also outlined the importance of staff and customer relationships, the advice and guidance from the expansive knowledge of the staff.
With the increase of buying on the internet, Dartmouth Community Bookshop stands as a beacon for the magical aura and unique experience of independent bookshops.
After the shock of Harbour Bookshop’s untimely death, Dartmouth was left without a bookshop from which the most avid readers could keep up with new and popular publications. The community rallied and were supported by similar projects. Shelf by shelf and person by person the community built a shop that stands proudly within Dartmouth, and retains the important literary links with the town and its people, providing Dartmouth with great and new delights for the entire town to devour.
 I took away with me four Book Time magazines and a warm feeling in my heart. There are people out there determined to keep the light burning brightly for independent bookshops, and the importance of loving books. It truly is a place to remember how books can delight not only a book lover, but a whole community.

Dartmouth Community Bookshop
12 Higher Street

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Castle Road and the Highstreet, Totnes

I continue my journey in Totnes. Here I review two more bookshops.

Totnes is incredibly lucky in the way that a reasonably small town, filled with some great history, is graced by three bookshops, two of which are second-hand. If you fancy a bargain, or perhaps a more battered and hard to find copy of a book, Harlequin is perfect: and if you want to be engulfed in the shiny, just out of the packet feel of new books, Totnes Bookshop is the one for you. The small bookshop down Castle Road is cosy and welcoming: imbued with the knowledge of its owner. 

 In Totnes two bookshops straddle the high street and grimace at each other: Harlequin Books, full of tatty old Penguins, and shelves marked ‘Collectable and Unaffordable,’ and Harlequin Books’ younger and more attractive cousin, the Totnes Bookshop.

Independents like Totnes Bookshop are ideal for all your book news, and help is at hand with the knowledgeable and diplomatic staff. The shop covers a wide range of subjects, and as I said, keeps up to date with new releases. Apart from books it sells picture frames, scented candles: a whole paraphernalia of stuff that seem to be picked out for the reader: these objects would be perfect next to a comfy armchair, your reading chair next to a shelf of books.

Totnes’ other second hand bookshop offering is the quaint bookshop found on Castle Road, just round the corner from the others. If Harlequin was middle aged and hippy and Totnes Bookshop young and hip, this bookshop is the younger’s old and mysterious, yet welcoming, aunty. Bravely displaying books on its narrow windowsill, it provides that intimate and friendly atmosphere that is akin to stepping inside the living room of your grandmother. Rugs 
  and wooden chairs aplenty, shelves bursting with old books, this is a place to browse in depth. Separated into two rooms one cannot help but feel that you are surrounded by books, and that any doors or staircases to the rest of the building are obliterated by books that seem carefully selected, that have the privilege of existing in this Aladdin’s Cave. It is a brilliant shop, with an exclusive selection.

Here ends my exploration of the bookshops of Totnes. Fiercely proud of the lack of chain stores and big brands, this town has something for everyone, and caters extremely well to the needs of the public.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Harlequin Books, Totnes

Harlequin Books offers the opportunity for browsers to spend all day digging among their stock or even a quick visit to pick up something to read on a lazy summer’s day.

I have discovered recently that I love Devon. This may be because I know a certain someone there, and because we went on lots of boating holidays around there too. I also love Devon because it has some of the best bookshops.

We headed out to Totnes on a grey day in November, when everybody was just about getting used to the idea of autumn and winter that lay beyond. I had looked online before and Totnes was just like every other Devonshire town – it yielded up three bookshops upon a silver platter. There are three bookshops in Totnes, not counting the Oxfam bookshop (where, it has to be noted, I picked up Douglas Cockerell’s Bookbinding) and the wonderful charity shops. One is an independent, one is a small and cosy second-hand, and one is Harlequin Books.

The people at Harlequin have crowded books into every available space, which is probably my favourite kind of set up. Books spilled from the shelves, all tumbled, all in some messy order. Amusing labels accompanied your shopping experience – something like ‘Expensive and Old’ was attached to a shelf containing some first editions of a variety of books.

                The range of books is both fantastic and very easy to get lost in. At the front of the shop, if the outside stalls – harking back to Victorian time bookshops – don’t tempt you inside, then the selection of books within will. Heading the front of the shop is the entire range of Wordsworth Classics, providing an inexpensive but quality edition of what seems to be every known British classic. Other such books adorned the shelves nearby.  They attract a browser to dig deeper into the shop. The contrast of new and old doesn’t clash here, either – it is like the new books are complimenting the old, and the collection within the shop is diverse.

Some particularly nice children’s books sat upon some shelves with a teddy bear: and next to them, a brilliant case of orange Penguins. There is something so satisfying about seeing lots of those titles altogether, something desirable and antique, as well. As far as I can remember, everything was reasonably priced.

I got distracted for a while by digging into a huge pile of old National Geographic. I was hoping that a cover or a title of an article would jump out at me as a potential Christmas present for my brother. Nothing was forthcoming, and my attention went back to a book I had seen on the ‘Expensive and Old’ shelf.

The variety here was delightful, and the atmosphere perfect for any book lover.


It was a large book of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales that caught my eye. As you may already know from reading this blog, I go pretty gaga over books of fairy tales. I was immediately entranced by the beautiful cover design, and then the age – although not as old as some of the books I own, this was from the 1920s. I like to imagine a previous owner of such a book, and holding it, it filled me with sweet and warm images of children being read to at night, by candlelight: or a child camping under the covers with a torch.

Apprehensively, I opened the book. It was £25. I couldn’t really afford to spend that much money.  


David and I visited Harlequin Books again in April. Nothing much had changed, except I noticed that the Hans Christian Anderson book had gone. I would have been prepared to buy it, if it had been there still.

Curiously, David seemed ever so interested in the not-so-interesting sale books that were gracing the outside stalls that he didn’t come into the shop at all.


It was reasonably bright for my birthday in May. I had not received any books as yet. David’s presents looked promising. There was a pretty heavy book-looking one among the others.

Tearing into the paper I recognised a pattern that I had fallen in love with. The Hans Christian Anderson Book fell into my hands.

It turned out that it was David who had bought the book just a few days before our visit, and he didn’t want to back into the shop in case the owner sad, ‘How’s the book?’ and therefore ruining a lovely surprise.


It sits proudly next to Andrew Lang and Grimm. My collection of fairy tales is growing, and this book is a beautiful companion within my ever-increasing collection of Crumblers.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Book Meme Chapter Four

Favourite book of your favourite series

A book that reminds you of home

That’s right, I’m scrapping the ‘official’ meme question and instead using the far less superior (but easier to answer) 30 Day Book Challenge found on a social networking site. There are a couple of reasons for this. I haven’t even finished the Hornblower series, or Mortal Engines. I may come across a book out of them that I like the most. As for LOTR/ Harry Potter, I can’t really decide there, either. Added to that is the fact that I actually haven’t read any of the series mentioned for a long time, and seeing as my memory is not the best, I was thinking that something I had read not too long ago would work.

Initially I thought I might review Mockingjay, which is my ‘favourite’ of The Hunger Games trilogy, and one I have read fairly recently. The only thing was that this wasn’t my favourite series. Don’t get me wrong, the fast, heart pumping action was brilliant, but the love triangle was like a soggy cold sponge in comparison. And, I hated Peeta.

I decided that it was extremely difficult to judge individual books from a series, but rather, how all the books work together as a whole. So for Chapter Four I have decided to use an alternative question.

Chapter Four – A book that reminds you of home

I am in love with my home – the Isle of Wight. Even though we may be small and behind the rest of England by twenty years, there’s something quaint in the quiet and close communities, and I often get asked if I feel compacted. I do, in a good way. I relish in the fact that we are such a small community, that people say hello to me and ‘my, how you’ve grown’ even though I don’t know who they are. I like the fact that someone will do something scandalous (scandalous on the island is nothing like something scandalous on the mainland and the rest of the world, apart from that time we had the million pound drug haul)  and you will know about it the next time – like the time a got a warning slip from Southern Vectis, the island’s bus company, about not staying in my seat on the school bus (I had been caught by CCTV) and my parents knew about it before a letter came home because my aunty is friends with the main boss man. I didn’t like the fact that my mother forced me to write an apology letter and hand it to the bus driver on the way back from school, though.

The book I have chosen got me through a time when I was feeling particularly homesick in second year. The very name of the author comforted me, and reading his words, I could almost feel as if I were home again.

Here is my review from Goodreads:

WARNING: I am going to be totally biased with this author because, well, I love him so very, very much.

I picked up Alone on a Wide Wide Sea from my shelves yesterday. I chose to read it because I wanted to read it, and it wasn't one of my obligatory books.

I had looked at it in the shops, seen the diagrams of boats, the maps - this immediately appealed to me. And that fact that it's written by one of my favourite authors of all time helped, too.

The book was in itself amazing, truly inspiring. I loved the poignant journey of Arthur across Australia. Morpurgo brought every sense alive. The themes in the book were actually quite adult, beyond the '11-12 year old' readers sections. Slavery, oppression, religion, gambling, death,'s all there. What is perhaps most amazing is the constant referencing to literature - London Bridge is Falling Down, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I cried, I laughed. I just was so absorbed in this book. It took me just this morning to read it. That's the magic of a book like this. I haven’t read anything all the way through, from just picking it up one morning, for a long, long time. It was also the first time I honestly cried at a book for ages, too.

I didn't really like the second part as much as the first, but that's maybe because I like the way Morpurgo can suck you into history, and so when he writes as if in the present, it jars, somehow.

I have grown up with this author - ever since primary school and The Butterfly Lion I have constantly been touched by his writing. I could only ever wish to write as he does, to touch people the way he does.

He's the person I would really like to meet, if I could choose anybody.

To expand on the point of growing up with the author – this is why any of Morpurgo’s books reminds me of home. The sheer memories I have on reading and re-reading War Horse, The Butterfly Lion and The Wreck of the Zanzibar are ones that are filled with a golden aura of innocent childhood, when I didn’t really have to worry about much except growing up. I felt I could completely relate to the things that Morpurgo writes – he was writing from a  landscape that was similar to the rolling hills of the island, and of Cornwall, which I have visited with my family often. He taught me magic was to be found in every thing and his stories fed my imagination. Morpurgo is probably one of the reasons I wanted to write stories in the first place.

Reading Alone on a Wide Wide Sea as a twenty year old I found that the magic had not been lost. Not only was Morpurgo conjuring hills and animals, he was conjuring the sea: the sea that forms an extremely important part of my home life. I could relate to the characters and I even imagined some of them as faces from home.

No matter what age you are, it is easy to get completely lost in Morpurgo’s words. He is a master story teller, and he is also my teacher. He reminds me of home.

I noted that he would be the person I would most like to meet. The opportunity has arisen – he is at Bath Children’s Literature Festival in October. Alas, I shall be off to Prague the next day, so I do not know if I will be able to meet my hero.