Tag Archives: reading

Honorary Life Member…

…that’s me – and the School Library Association surprised me with a generous Hon Life Membership which rather took the wind out of my sails when I recently attended the SLA Conference in Glasgow.  For a start it was quite odd being ‘just a delegate’ at the conference I had a hand in putting together (that was inevitable due to the time of year that I left SLA) but it was delightful too.  I got to see and chat with lots of friends, and didn’t have to dash off to be somewhere else!  I managed an off the cuff thank you speech – as well as (I hope) adding my voice to the call for the Great School Libraries Campaign.  Plus, the Ceilidh band that evening turned out to be a great success too – just right – with lots of help in the dances!


Copyright Minh Nguyen

Seriously though, if you can do back the Great School Libraries Campaign – it is vitally important, especially in these times of closing or de-professionalised public library services, that children have access through their schools to a great library.  Their literacy, ambition, health and well-being will all suffer if they have no access to good quality reading and information resources when they need them.

Since then it has been a bit of a flurry of activity which has included writing an article, completing a series of reviews, attending our first Youth Libraries Group Virtual meeting plus a few days away.  Will was working taking taking photographs for his new book but I was really just enjoying the scenery, catching up with local friends and enjoying Stratford Upon Avon.  We were anxious our newly laid lawn and the patio plants would survive in the heat – but all was well.

This week has been a glorious mix of work and and publisher events – including a sneak preview of the work of Chris Riddell in illustrating The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J K Rowling.  We are in for a real treat there (publishing Bloomsbury, October 2018).  Then off to the Branford Boase event – a celebration of the best in new writing for children and young people, but that also recognises the important role of the editor in the process.  It was won this year by Mitch Johnson for Kick with his editors Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker – published by Usborne – their third important book award win this year!

Last night was a fascinating discussion event hosted by Alice Curry at Lantana Publishers called ‘Inspired by India’ an evening of picture books and conversation from Chitra Soundar, Poonam Mistry, Ranjit Singh and Mehrdokht Amini at the Nehru Centre.  I had never been to the Nehru Centre before but check it out as it has a programme of events and exhibitions that are varied and interesting. IMG_0237

After 3 late nights in London – and Saturday there for my first FCBG National Executive meeting I am having a quiet day at home – a little light housework, followed by some reading and then a welcome catch up with friends from the village in the pub tonight!




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I’m rather enjoying this…

…semi-retirement.  It means that on lovely sunny days like today I can sit in my garden listening to the birdsong whilst doing my emails.  I also have had lots of time for reading – check out my Goodreads updates on this blog!

That doesn’t mean to indicate I haven’t done any work – I have and am – but choosing one’s own timetable and working late into the evening, if I want to, are lovely freedoms to have.  Don’t get jealous – I have worked and saved all my life to get to this stage – it is possible and it is achievable!

Meanwhile, I have enjoyed several book launches and events with different publishers – Otter-Barry Books, Hachette, for the Carmelite PictureBook Prize, and enjoyed a really full day seeing many publishing people at the London Book Fair.  This was followed really quickly by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups very enjoyable conference at Queenswood School in Hertfordshire.  These are always full to bursting with author and illustrator talks – all with opportunities to ask questions and get lots of books signed!  What a luxury!  This year was extra special as the FCBG is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary. I am honoured to have been asked to join the FCBG National Executive – so I’m looking forward to becoming more involved with this very energetic reading organisation.   Watch out for the Golden National Share-a-Story month activities during May.

This past weekend I have been at the Raunds Music Festival – dedicated to roots music in East Northants.  The programme, as always, was varied with highlights for me being  Mawkin, Carter Dolby, Granny’s Attic, Steve Turner, and Greg Russell.  The festival is organised and run entirely by volunteers but has a good extended community support – which is great to see in these often less than community minded times.

My pile of books to review for School Librarian has just arrived – so I think it may be time to do some more reading…


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The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner

This is an interesting ‘film noir’ type tale.  Set in the 1940’s (in the main) Arnold Rubens builds a memory machine to save his daughter Amaryllis – from what we are not quite sure to start – her own destructive will, from some threat in her childhood that is dimly lurking on the edges of her memory, or from the ever nearer threat of war?  Many of the characters appear to be much less straightforward than we think as we first meet them, and the hero Ezra is all too human, and totally engaging.  The book is peopled with believable characters who deal with an improbable but authentic sci-fi plot, the science is never heavy and the plot moves at a pace, but yet with a sense of mystery so you are completely hooked.  A real sit down and read book – I hope there are more to come from Sally!

A complete contrast was the contemporary novel set in America – Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur.  This is the story of orphan Elise brought up by her uncle and aunt  who has some growing up to do as she starts her middle school, and try to find out who and what she is as she matures.  Eight keys help her find out her history and help her think about her future.  A very engaging read.

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Resurrectionist By James McGee

I picked this up in a second hand book-sale in Norfolk one day and then it sat on the reading pile for a while!  Once I picked it up – it was a good, if violent and rather bloodthirsty read.  Hawkwood is a Bow Street Runner and, with an ex army background, quite the hard man – but with a good heart.  His instinct for the crime is unerring and this makes this a light but very enjoyable read.













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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

It has taken me a long time to get round to reading this book.  It won the Red House Children’s Book Award in 2010 and has sat on my reading pile for a long time – even though many people recommended it to me.  So – this week I read it, and happily I had the time to just sit and read as it is a compelling read and you just don’t want to put it down!  Katniss takes her sisters place in the Hunger games – a sort of gladiatorial televised entertainment for the rich and powerful in a dystopian future USA – this is how she battles and tries to survive in the literally dog eat dog world.  I liked Katniss’s honesty, her gradual realization of the manipulation of the media to make good entertainment and her sheer grit and determination in an awful world.  I shall now have to get the next 2 novels in the series as I must know what happens…



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Oundle Festival week

It has been a lovely week – full of music and reading, so today is a chance to gear up for work tomorrow whilst still enjoying the holiday!

I have been to see Giovanni Guzzo (violin – fantastic), the Spooky Men’s Chorale (very different and fun), T G Collective (Django type jazz, lovely!) and the highlight was the Kathryn Tickell Band – northumbrian folk as it’s very best.  Vespers in the Chapel was lovely – flickering candlelight and lots of choral and organ scholars singing divinely!  Will took part in the singing of the final Eucharist at Fotheringhay and certainly the rehearsals for that sounded great (I was sitting outside reading whilst listening!)

I got some reading done, though not necessarily as much as I had thought, and definitely not the books I had originally planned!  Wonder why a lot of life is like that?  Mary Hoffman’s David is the fictional story of the guy who may have posed for the Michelangelo statue and the turbulent times it was made in Florence.  A superb read as always in Mary’s books – well researched, well written and completely compelling.  Meanwhile Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery by Keren David is a completely different read to David – modern 16-year-old girl and the issues and problems she contends with when she wins the lottery – including friendship, bullying, sex, family, guilt, suicide, binge drinking and jealousy.  That makes it sound very heavy but the delight of this is the light touch and the page turning ease of reading this thought-provoking book.  Now well into a charity shop purchase by Kate Atkinson – literary detectives are always fun…

So – finish the week with a superb win for Lewis Hamilton at the German Grand Prix and we have a good weekend ready for work tomorrow.

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This Blog

This blog is a bit of an experiment. I wanted somewhere to share, record and muse on work, travel, life, reading and music. Though I tweet and use FB and am even exploring Google+ I think there is still space and time to use a blog.
I used to keep a diary but for various reasons (not least that my arthritis makes it painful to try to keep a handwritten one) I haven’t kept a regular comment record of any sort for some years and yet I miss that. Perhaps this will be the way forward. I shall have huge fun setting it all up regardless!

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