Readers Represen’: Tees for lovers of literacy…


As a gargoyle, I have little need for clothing and while this has its advantages, it also means that I cannot outwardly express my likes and interests through fashion.  You can though. So here are some of my favourite book-related tees…laybuy now for Christmas!  You can find the links for where to purchase these tees at the end of this post!

Tantalised by Tolkein?  You don’t have to go to Mt Doom and back for these, precious! Wild about Harry? These might be right up your (Diagon) Alley! Hungry for the Hunger Games? These might make a nice tribute!  Want something a little less…commercial?  Here are some tees that are sure to gain you looks of obscurity and the occasional appreciative glance indicating that someone else gets the reference…

So, my fleshling friends, now you have no excuse not to cover your fleshy hides with fashionable attire, while also promoting the wonders of reading.

Until next time,


Find these tees here:

The Prancing Pony:

The Green Door:

Baggins Family Jewellers:

I Just Nevilled Up:

Join Dumbledore’s Army:

A Seeker’s Quest:

District 12 Fightin’ Jays:


Farewell District 12:

Where the Wild Adventures Are:


Tollbooth Adventures:

Sherlock is my Holmesboy:

Elect Zaphod Beeblebrox:

Daisy award: will wonders never cease?


It is with much blushing and “aw shucks’es” that I announce my receipt of a Daisy award, from the delightful and mysterious Lily  Wight of  Curious as to the origins of this award, I completed some research and discovered the creator of the “Daisy” is one Subtlekate, and you can read of the origins of this award here:

In accordance with the rules of this bestowal, I present to you seven interesting facts about my humble self:

1.  Up until this morning I was unaware that blog awards existed.

2. It appears that I thrive on positive feedback and the receipt of awards (expected or otherwise)

3. The last gargoyle in my ancestry to have received an award of such eminence was my great-great-uncle Martin, who was awarded the Order of the Marble Bookend for his contribution to treaty negotiations between Shelf Gargoyles and Paper-Eating Insects.

4. I have yet to find an anti-aging cream that works on stone flesh.

5.  Contrary to gargoyle social expectations, I am quite interested in maintaining my level of physical fitness.  To this end I pratice a strict routine of calisthenics every morning.

6. I am remarkable poor at the game of “pick-up-sticks”.

7.  I am remarkably able at maintaining an effective poker face.

The rules of this bestowal also require me to nominate other worthy bloggers for attaining similar heights of daisy-ness.  I, as a newish blogger, have taken the executive decision to postpone this duty pending further research in the blogverse.  To that end, I will present a new post at a later date announcing my nominations.

Again, many thanks to Lily Wight for this honour – it is quite difficult to make a gargoyle blush, but you have achieved this today.

Until next time,


Retro Reading: Choosing one’s own adventure…



This book is different from other books. 

You and YOU ALONE are in charge of what happens in this story…”

I must admit, when I saw the book pictured here land on my shelf I emitted a gasp suffused with nostalgia and excitement and more than a little trepidation.  It was as if I had dropped back through time (appropriately enough, given the title) to the days when I graced the shelf of a much younger fleshling.

Ah, the phenomenon that was Choose Your Own Adventure!  Designed as an interactive reading experience, some forty titles made their way out into the homes and hearts of young readers, to engage and frustrate and challenge.  Each book contained multpile endings to the story which could be accessed after the reader had made a choice about the direction of the plot.

Surely I am not alone in remembering the feelings of anticipation and angst that accompanied every choice; the complicated internal dialogue that reflected the fraught-ness of each decision…should I stay and search the cave (turning to page 56) or go back and find my dog first (turning to page 89)?   Should loyalty to one’s canine outweigh the potential for discovery? Which action would serve me better in saving myself from future peril? And could I sneakily leave my finger to mark the page in case I made the wrong choice?

How well I recall the feeling of righteous indignation that welled up when, having made a well-considered and strategic decision, I was met with those awful words, written in bold capitals after half a page or less of text – THE END. How could my plucky gamble have backfired so poorly? And what measure of ethics surrounded this “ending” of my adventure? Was it morally the correct thing to begin the story again from the beginning, or would the god of the reading universe overlook, say, a change of heart that involved simply turning back a few pages and choosing the initially discarded option?  After all, a gargoyle is entitled to change his (or her) mind.  It could simply have been that in the time between making the choice, and turning the pages (with possibly a glimpse at those terrible, story-ending words as the pages turned) that a gargoyle reconsidered the criteria on which to base the most prudent choice.  Yes, obvioulsy I meant to choose the other option.  Any fool could see that.  I just…misread…which page I was supposed to turn to.

Surely this collection of books is ready for a second coming.  After all, younglings of this generation are breast-fed on interactive everything – Ipods, smartphones, Wii thingies….why not books?  The series has even been extended in recent years to include beginning readers, with new titles published that cater specifically to children in pre-school and prep.  Imagine, if you will: new parents, who grew up on the heady anticipation of being master (or mistress) of their own story domain, guiding their younglings in the best strategies to avoid disaster….it could be a brave new world of reading pleasure.

Admittedly, re-engaging with this particular Choose Your Own Adventure title as an older gargoyle lacked somewhat in the area of disbelief suspension, but nonetheless, the trip down memory lane it provided was worth the extra effort it took to really imagine one’s self into the story.  But never fear! This is one gargoyle who believes firmly in re-gifting, and will no doubt wrap this one up and pass it on to gargoyles of a more recent vintage to discover…for the first time.

And if the nostalgia bug has burrowed it’s way into your neurotransmitters while reading this post, you may find some relief here:

Until next time,


Ode to an Author: Anthony Horowitz


Mad Martha here – after hearing the joyous news of the publication of the fifth book in the Power of Five series, “Oblivion”, I decided to honour with a poem that master of creepiness – Anthony Horowitz.  Sit back and enjoy the incredible job I have done of rhyming with Horowitz….including having to use a superfluous “s” on more than one occasion.

Enticing tomes in which he fits

some terrifying horror bits,

I crave the thrill, suspense and glitz

of books by ‘T’ony Horowitz.

I grab them with my hairy mitts,

They lift me out of boredom’s pits,

As spellbound and engaged I sits,

And read and read, I just can’t quits!

How I wish I had the wits to write like Mr Horowitz.

The gargoyle appeals to the fat man in red…


It is almost unfathomable to think that there exists a kit designed for the individual to create their own lending library at home, and I was not informed.  The shelf gargoyle communication network has seriously dropped the ball on this one.

Yet I am prepared to forgive – and present to you this little gem, complete with stamps, cards, pockets…and the power to fine those who do not return your books!

It is available at ThinkGeek…here:

Laybuy now for Christmas.


The Corpse-Rat King…a memorable romp through death, disaster and destiny


[Marius]..”stepped away from the hull and found a small rise where he could lay back and knit his hands behind his head, and pretend he was lying in a field somewhere to rest off a particularly good drink, instead of waiting at the bottom of the ocean for an insane centaur with delusions of grandeur to finish beating up a ship full of nothing.” p 276

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had been waiting patiently for this book to land on my shelf for a good long while, my shelf’s owner having pre-ordered it well before the publication date based simply on the intriguing title alone.  The corpse-rat of the title refers to one Marius don Hellespont, who makes his living by trawling corpses found on battlefields and relieving them of valuables that have become superfluous to their owner’s current station.  It is on one of these sojourns that Marius is mistaken for a corpse and accompanied to the land of the dead, where he is promptly tasked with finding a dead king to rule over the domain of the dear departed.

Cue death, disaster and finally, destiny, as Marius does his level best to escape both the pesky dead and their pesky task while his body passes through varying states of decomposition.

I must admit that this gargoyle took a while to warm to this book, as the character of Marius is not altogether a likeable fellow – at least early on.  The further I ventured with him though, the more he grew on me and by the halfway point, I found myself snatching snippets of time to plunge back into the story.

The book did not carry the tone that I imagined it might on reading the blurb.  I was expecting something along the lines of Yahtzee Croshaw’s “Mogworld”, which also contains an undead hero, initially out for number one, whose only aim is to escape his current predicament by either (a) dying properly, or (b) returning to life.  The Corpse-Rat King, however, was not, for the most part, light-hearted and the humour was far less flippant than in Croshaw’s tome.  This I initially considered to be a negative aspect, but after finishing it, I am of the opinion that this book contains a much deeper story than Croshaw’s, and one which has been well-crafted to engage the reader beyond the amusing premise promised by the blurb.  Certainly by the halfway point, the tone has lightened and the final chapters are replete with the cheerful calamity that one would expect of a group of protagonists that include two people in various states of undeath and a  7-foot tall royal skeleton.

The Corpse-Rat King is definitely worth a look in my opinion, not least because it is published by Angry Robot Books, who are fast becoming one of my “go-to” publishers when I am in need of a fresh take on sci-fi or fantasy.

Speaking of sci-fi and fantasy, as an end note, I have very recently become aware that the fifth book in the “Power of Five” series by Anthony Horowitz, “Oblivion” is due for release in the next month.  I am utterly excited about this as it has been such a long gap between books four and five that I began to believe that I had hallucinated the idea of a fifth book, and that the story did really end with number four, but I somehow missed it.  Stay tuned for a review of this one in the future.

Until next time,


Worthy additions to my shelfdom…


I am utterly enamoured of these amazing pieces of book-related art…in fact, I believe I will use some of the, shall we say, less lofty books on my shelf to begin this meditative practice myself.

The knight and dragon sculpture is available at WetCanvasArt’s shop on etsy, here:

While this Little House sculpture is available at Artful Living, here:

Until next time,


Fifty Shades of Not-Grey…alternatives for the discerning reader of a certain type of fiction…


50 Shades of Grey – Eroticism? Or Not-iscism? This one hasn’t passed my shelf yet, for which I am eternally grateful, yet I feel compelled to suggest some other titles in a similar vein for those readers who like to sit on the sidelines of the hype and imply that what they are reading is far more highbrow than the selections of the common herd.

First! May I suggest to you Alan Bennet’s enticingly named Smut: two unseemly stories? This delightful little tome presents two engaging stories that romp along with spirit and humour.  My pick of the two stories is the first, in which a lady in her autumn years invites two young lodgers into her home to assist with her financial situation.  It need not be said, given the title of the book, that the situations in which our heroine finds herself extend well beyond the financial.  This book, while only a quick read in itself, provides far more bang for your buck (pun intended) than its size might first suggest.  More to the point, it contains no brooding, damaged men presented as the epitome of woman’s desire.  Just a bit of situational comdedy based around rumpy-pumpy in an old woman’s spare bedroom.

Next! I would like to present for your consideration The Toyboy Diaries by Wendy Salisbury.  Continuing the theme of ladies of a certain age, this autobiographical offering provides an insight into the life of an intelligent, successful and driven woman, who happens to enjoy the company of (much!)younger men. Salisbury is honest, funny and, in turns, both apologetic and unashamed about her conquests and the explicit detail in which she recounts them.  Be careful – this book is highly engaging, and one may find oneself having to read just one more chapter to find out how each encounter ends.

For a change of pace – and those who like to pretend that they are only reading Playboy for the articles, as it were – allow me to introduce you to The Sex Diaries Project by Arianne Cohen.  This book grew from a blog in which the author invited readers to anonymously contribute a week’s worth of their personal diary.  Already, you may think, this seems like a voyeur’s dream, but wait! There’s more! The diaries in question were to focus on the writer’s sexual thoughts and behaviour – any fantasy, fleeting fancy, or factual action (or lack thereof!) was to be recorded in detail over a period of seven days.  Readers responded to this challenge with gusto, thereby creating the impetus for this fascinating book.  Highly readable, it presents the anonymous diaries of people from a diverse group of ages, races and sexualities.  There’s something for everyone in this one…and the best part is, if anyone asks, you can pretend you are reading it as part of a modern sociology course you happen to be enrolled in.  That you haven’t mentioned to anyone before. Because it’s only for really clever people.

I hope this has encouraged you to move beyond the confines of the much-hyped books of this genre, towards some less lauded, yet no less worthy, offerings.

Until next time,


Ode to an Author: Agatha Christie


Mad Martha would like her blogging debut to be the commencement of a series of poems entitled “Ode to an Author”.  Today’s subject will be the late, great Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie!

My eyes go misty

At your talent for myst’ry,

With plots so deep and twisty.

In all recorded hist’ry I’ve never loved so blissf’lly!

Your books will out-exist me!                                          

 When I am old and whisk’ry

My hands all gnarled and blist’ry,

I’ll think of you so whistf’lly:

and how I NEVER, EVER, EVER pick the killer.


How do you do it woman??!

It’s very frustrating.

The perfect gift for the book lover with shelf space…and no gargoyle to fill it.


This may in fact top my previous brilliance in uncovering the zombie-hand bookmarks: behold, MINIATURE AUTHOR ART DOLLS! I’m sure you will agree that the likenesses are extraordinary.

This one is obviously a miniature Maya Angelou.

These are available at UneekDollDesigns, by one Debbie Ritter at the link below.

I am, frankly, astounded that this idea has not been leapt upon and appropriated by the major book selling chains.  Although on second thought, the pressure of having one’s image captured for posterity in doll form may spawn a whole new trend towards plastic surgery and excessive dieting amongst contemporary authors as they strive to attain unreasonable standards of physical beauty prior to immortalisation in fabric and crafty off-cuts.

Laybuy now for Christmas.