Read it if…..: The gargoyle’s reviews for the time-poor…or goldfish-sized attention spans.

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It has slowly dawned on me as I delve more deeply into the blog-o-sphere, that there is more interesting content out there than could ever be read by one individual.  It has also come to my attention that many people, including myself, are time poor.  “But Bruce,” I hear you think, “you are a bookshelf gargoyle, unable to leave your shelf.  Surely you have all the time in the world to accomplish your goals.”  Yes, well, you’ld like to think that, wouldn’t you?  But it seems that, for gargoyles as for fleshlings, time marches on.

To this end, I would like to assist Mad Martha in her attempt to provide you with succint recommendations of unmissable reads.  She really has cornered the extreme end of the market with her reviews in 17 syllables, but for those of you who prefer a slightly longer, but still fairly time-managed review (say, longer than a sneeze, but shorter than a drawn-out coughing fit), I would like to begin some reviews titled “Read it if…”

This will hopefully allow me to share many of the books I have enjoyed and recommend, without burdening you, the reader, with too much information.  After all, let’s face it, you all have other blogs to look at now, don’t you?  It’s alright. I understand.  You can’t be expected to hang around with a stony old brute like me longer than you have to…..no, don’t apologise, I’m used to it.

So I present to you my first “Read it if…review”: Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

Read it if…..

* you’ve dreamed of running off and leaving your problems behind while dressed inappropriately for the weather

* you are fond of horses or cheese

* you are, or know of, a horse with a fondness for cheese

* you have ever had an interesting conversation with complete strangers on a train (or other means of public transportation)

* you are partial to relatable characters who, despite harbouring strong suspicions that you may be a street-dweller, would happily offer you tea, a bacon sandwich and a chat in a polite, British fashion if you turned up unexpectedly in the small hours of the morning

* you enjoy delightful and witty tales that don’t require too much effort on the part of the reader and won’t generate the kind of angst that comes from consecutively reading three or more dystopian YA fiction titles featuring zombie plagues, nuclear holocausts or other forms of creeping death

Really, this is a great little read if you’re looking for something light and comfortable.  Go on, give it a burl.

Until next time,

Bruce

Harold and the Purple…..Dalek?: Picture book pop culture…

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Just came across this gem of a tee design, based on the classic picture book Harold and the Purple Crayon. As I preside over that tome, as well as a small collection of Doctor Who novels (although none featuring the eleventh Doctor), it would seem the perfect gift for anyone wanting to purchase a gift for a sweet-natured, stony-faced gargoyle….not that I’m hinting or anything.

Although, if one were in the market for such a gift, one could purchase it here: http://www.anotherfinetee.com/  but only for the next three days.

Until next time,

Bruce

Ode to an Author: Alexander McCall Smith

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Mad Martha here with the week’s Ode.  This week I have chosen one of my favourites (and possibly the only one I’ve actually met) – Alexander McCall Smith.  An ode to him is well overdue, as Bruce has presided over a number of his hardbacks for many a long year.  This is the man who brought the phrase “traditionally-built” to rotund ladies the world over and they continue to thank him today.  He is also a great fan of tea and common courtesy (together or separately).  Also, anyone who plays the Bassoon in an ensemble called “The Really Terrible Orchestra” must be worth knowing.  But my favourite thing of all about AMcS is the fact that he is not afraid to laugh uproariously at his own jokes….this is a trait I share. So sit back with a steaming cup of Red Bush tea and mull over my Ode to Alexander McCall Smith:

 

 

No doubt to blame for his two second names are the parents of one Alexander.

A Scotsman for sure, he’s filled up bookstores with tomes that are worth a quick gander;

‘Bout Edinburgh’s cobbles, relationship squabbles, detectives who like to meander,

Vegetarian dogs, poems in epilogues and a woman, Irene – we can’t stand her!

So give him a try – it should satisfy, for he writes with great humour and candour.

A nice cup of tea, a biscuit or three and a story – now what could be grander? 

 

 

Ta-ra my dears,

Mad Martha

Retro Reading: The Divine Ms Blyton

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Enid Blyton – that mistress of adventure, magic and exploration!  In my quest to re-read books from earlier in my considerable history, I decided to plunge back into Blyton’s world of wonder.  Selecting “The Secret of Spiggy Holes” as my text – part of the Secret Series, following the adventures of Jack, Mike, Nora and Peggy –  I settled back as the fifth member of the adventurous party.  While reading, the memories came flooding back and I realised that Enid Blyton writes in such a way as to make certain assumptions about life as she knows it self-evident.  So I present to you some of the “Universal Truths of the Queendom of Blytonia (otherwise known as Enidville)”:

1. The natural state of children is to be left alone.  Parents are merely the mechanism by which children are delivered into the world.  After this, parents are to leave  children to their own devices as much as possible, and this may be achieved through sending them to boarding school for the better part of the year, followed by shipping them off to mysterious and highly explorable places during the holidays, to be watched over by eager-to-serve, yet averse-to-intrusion adult guardians.  The parents in Spiggy Holes have accomplished this essential part of their duties to such an extent that they even purchased an island to which their offspring may retreat whenever the whim takes them.

2.People with foreign accents should be assumed to be smugglers, or involved in some other type of shady dealings, unless proven otherwise.  To this end, they should be kept under surveillance by any means possible, including, but not limited to, midnight watches using binoculars handily supplied by one’s adult guardian.  The exception to this rule is foreign children – for these are almost exclusively members of royal families, and should be befriended immediately.  Developing a friendship quickly and covertly is essential in this case, as it is highly likely that the foreign child is the victim of kidnapping perpetrated by the shady foreign adults previously mentioned.

3. There is always time for tea. Preferably involving a selection of cakes and biscuits, bottles of lemonade or ginger beer, cold pork pies, ham sandwiches, and plums.  Packed into a picnic basket for increased compatibility with exploratory parties.

After dipping a stone toe back into this simple world, I have decided that I will continue to reacquaint myself with old Enid through the St Clare’s school stories.  Please feel free to share your own reminiscences of times spent in Blytonia…or any other Universal Truths that I may have missed.

Until next time,

Bruce

Simply Gargoylicious: A cute tee for allies of gargoyle kind

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Just had to share this one. It has nothing to do with books. It has everything to do with gargoyles.

Vote for it to get printed at shirt.woot.com if you like, here: http://shirt.woot.com/derby/entry/66860/shy-pocket-monster

Until next time (which may be sooner than you think!)

Bruce

Haiku Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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Mad Martha with you again for another Haiku Review!  I have decided that I will save my HRs for books that I consider special. Stand-outs in their genre, if you will.  Today’s pick, by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, is, quite simply, a book that deserves to be remembered and re-read.  A fictional tale comprised of  correspondence between author and lass-about-town, Juliet Ashton, and a wide array of her friends, acquaintances and on occasion, enemies, the story roams through the lives of those living on the island of Guernsey during the German occupation in World War 2.  You will not regret reading it, I assure you.  So without further ado, here is Mad Martha’s (that is to say, my own) SECOND Haiku review:

Friendship unfolding,

like creases in a letter.

Writers block resolved!

Adieu, my friends,

Mad Martha

A Costume for the Very Hungry Booklover…

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I’ve just now come across this delightful (and head-turning!) wearable art piece for those who wish to publicly display their love of Eric Carle through fashion.

BEHOLD!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Costume:

Made by theholidayshoppe and available for purchase here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/110837950/the-very-hungry-caterpillar-inspired .  Incidentally, they also make a very nice sushi costume…if you’re into that sort of thing.

Laybuy now for Christmas (or Halloween…or Book Week!)

Until next time,

Bruce