Bookshops

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Broken River – J. Robert Lennon

Published February 6, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A modest house in upstate New York. One in the morning. Three people—a couple and their child—hurry out the door, but it’s too late for them. As the virtuosic and terrifying opening scene of Broken River unfolds, a spectral presence seems to be watching with cold and mysterious interest. Soon the house lies abandoned, and years later a new family moves in.

Karl, Eleanor, and their daughter, Irina, arrive from New York City in the wake of Karl’s infidelity to start anew. Karl tries to stabilize his flailing art career. Eleanor, a successful commercial novelist, eagerly pivots in a new creative direction. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Irina becomes obsessed with the brutal murders that occurred in the house years earlier. And, secretly, so does her mother. As the ensemble cast grows to include Louis, a hapless salesman in a carpet warehouse who is haunted by his past, and Sam, a young woman newly reunited with her jailbird brother, the seemingly unrelated crime that opened the story becomes ominously relevant.

Hovering over all this activity looms a gradually awakening narrative consciousness that watches these characters lie to themselves and each other, unleashing forces that none of them could have anticipated and that put them in mortal danger. Broken River is a cinematic, darkly comic, and sui generis psychological thriller that could only have been written by J. Robert Lennon.

What did I think?:

I have to admit, I’ve never heard of Broken River or the author, J. Robert Lennon before so I was delighted when it was the first book from my Daunt Books Annual Subscription that my lovely boyfriend gifted me for Christmas last year. I have made it my mission to read and review each book I receive as part of my Bookish Goals/Resolutions which I posted about in January. I’m always slightly concerned about a book subscription as I have a LOT of unread books on my shelves and I always worry that a book is going to be picked for me that I already own. Well, not only did I not already own Broken River but as I mentioned, I hadn’t even picked up on it being published so I was very excited to check out what it was all about.

It’s clearly a crying shame that I didn’t know about this book as it is a wonderful novel that is written in quite a literary style (i.e. gorgeous!) but has that edge of thriller that keeps you gripped, turning the pages quicker than you might do a “normal” literary novel. In fact, when I first started reading it, I was pretty determined that it was going to be a five star read for me. Unfortunately, I had a minor issue that stopped me from giving it the big five but I still insist that this is a fantastic book that needs to be read by more people.

Broken River is initially the story of a family – Mum, Dad and a young daughter who get into a horrific situation where the parents are killed, inches away from their surviving daughter. The perps responsible for the brutal murders are never found and brought to justice. After the daughter is taken into care, the house becomes abandoned, gathering dust, rodents and other house guests, including your typical teenagers who use it as “party central” and the homeless and drug addicts where it becomes a convenient place to sleep/get high.

This is until a new family moves into the house: Karl, Eleanor and teenage daughter Irina, all of whom have their own issues and deep, dark secrets. As we follow their story, we also learn how they all deceive each other, for one reason or another and witness the struggles of their relationships, particularly when an obsession develops with the murky history of the family that came before them and Irina’s insistence that she has found the previous daughter who saw her parents being murdered in such a terrible way. Of course, this news doesn’t stay quiet for long and the family find themselves embroiled in a now very deadly situation when some people think the secrets and crimes of the past should remain buried.

There’s so many things to love about this book, particularly the writing style and most definitely, the variety of intriguing characters that the author develops beautifully. They’re all flawed in some way, particularly the villains of the piece (of course!) and especially the father, Karl whose little ways and the mistakes he makes, potentially hurting his family forever, really got under my skin and made me cross but I literally loved to hate him. Yes I might have made a little huff of anger at him during several parts of the narrative but who hasn’t groaned at a nasty character that you can’t stand in a novel? For me, that just means that J. Robert Lennon has done his job properly and written people that I can either really connect with i.e. Eleanor, Irina or others that I just want to throw in a river.

Additionally, I thought it was fantastic that he gives some of his more villainous characters quite a human edge and you can really see their regrets about what they might have done in their past and the sticky situation that they feel they can’t run away from in the present time. Personally, there were only a tiny, minuscule part of this novel that I didn’t quite connect with and stopped me from giving it five stars. There were a few chapters interspersed between the main narrative from the point of view of The Observer. He/she watches certain events as if he is with the character at the time and gives a whole new perspective of their actions. Now I really enjoyed this at the beginning and thought it was quite frankly, a genius move by the author. However, the chapters nearer the end starting getting a bit too philosophical for my liking and sadly, it didn’t evoke the same emotions in me as it did at the beginning. Apart from this, I would urge anyone with an interest in literary fiction and crime to try this book, it might just surprise you. It definitely surprised me.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

 

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Bluestocking Bookshop Tours – A Review

Published February 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special post on my blog. I’m here to today to talk about the Bluestocking Bookshop Tours, organised by the lovely Lauren, “a classically trained librarian with an extroverted twist.” I was lucky enough to be part of one of her “Special Saturday” tours, we met at 11:00 and the tour lasted for about two and a half hours, visiting five bookshops along the way and having a wonderful time.

Lauren says on her website www.bluestockingbooks.co.uk that:

“there is no shushing here, we are more liable to lead in the laughter.”

Let me assure you, this is definitely the case. Lauren was warm and friendly, very interested in all her clients (where they came from, what they did for work) and most importantly of course, what they liked to read! I instantly felt comfortable with her and the rest of the group and was bowled over by the variety of bookshops we visited and the wealth of information we were given both by her and the fantastic booksellers we encountered.

Part of the joy of the Bluestocking Bookshop Tours is that you don’t really know where you’re going so I’m not going to tell you everywhere we went so as not to spoil the surprise. However, I’d like to focus on two shops in particular that really made my day special.

The first shop was in London’s amazing Cecil Court (note to reader: if you haven’t been here before, you really must!).

Tim Bryars, owner of Bryars & Bryars bookshop

The owner, Tim Bryars has a particular interest in maps and collectable, antiquarian books and this really comes across when you enter his shop. It had the most wonderful smell of old books and some of the treasures he was kind enough to show us were truly gorgeous and very precious, especially the books/pamphlets that had dedications or messages in them that you’re never going to find anywhere else. He also showed us one of his favourite items, the first London Underground map, published in 1933 and on sale for a cool £2500.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this – the words ring so true!

These are some of the antiquarian books that Tim has in his shop, including a tome written in Greek from the 1500’s.

After another few amazing bookshops we headed to our last stop for the day, Maison Assouline which I couldn’t resist but tell you about as both the interior of it and the collection they hold absolutely astounded me. The company was created to be a “luxury brand on culture….to supply everything for a contemporary library.” This includes scented candles, bags that look like books to the casual observer, beautiful prints and the most gorgeous (and largest!) books that I have ever seen, the most expensive topping the scale at about £3000. It’s a bit specialist in subject, tending to focus on fashion, design, art architecture and travel but the books are so stunning I think any book lover would be impressed, no matter where your interests tend to lie.

Our group was lucky enough to be given a tour of the private room upstairs which not only housed some beautiful books but some gorgeous objects too and I have to say, we were all a bit lost for words at how stunning the setting was.

Mmmmmm…..massive books by a fireplace. I must be in bookworm heaven!

Our guide also told us some very interesting stories about some of the objects in the room, particularly a legend about these two vases from Sicily. I won’t spoil it for anyone who goes but it involves murder and some very “green fingers.” Say no more!

I had such a fantastic time on the Bluestocking Bookshop tour and I would recommend it to anyone who might be interested. It’s an absolute bargain at £10 per person and you get to visit such a variety of bookshops with insider knowledge that you wouldn’t normally get on an ordinary tour that I really believe it’s worth every penny. The beauty of these tours is that Lauren gives you about 15-20 minutes inside each bookshop to browse, explore and buy books at your own pace and I managed to find several very tempting things.

There are three separate tours currently available on Lauren’s website, these are Magic, Medicine and Esoteria, Shoreditch Creative and Comics: Journey into Adventure. These tours normally start at 2PM and finish at 430PM, visit 4-6 bookshops, involves perhaps 30-40 minutes of walking and sightseeing and will always start and end near an underground station, purely for convenience.

I’d like to thank Lauren so much for inviting me on one of her tours and heartily recommend that if you’re in London, near London or planning to visit London in the near future, you go ahead and book one of her tours. She’s a fantastic tour guide and it was a delightfully bookish experience perfect for any bibliophile!

Visit Lauren on her website HERE.

February 2018 – Real Book Month

Published January 31, 2018 by bibliobeth

It’s time for one of my favourite months – real book month! This is where I try to bring down that pesky TBR as much as I can. I try to focus on books I’m really excited about and roll my eyes that I haven’t managed to get to them before now. I normally have a list of about ten I want to read, however, because I also participate in Banned Books and Kid-Lit with my sister as well as reading the Richard and Judy book club titles, I’ve felt under too much pressure lately so am just easing that slightly. This month I want to focus on some more of the titles my sister Chrissi Reads and I bought on our trip to the wonderful Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights in Bath. This is what I’ll be reading:

1.) The Gracekeepers – Kirsty Logan

What’s it all about?:

A lyrical and moving debut in the tradition of Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood, introducing an original and commanding new voice in fiction

As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, laying the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.

In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland (“landlockers”) and those who float on the sea (“damplings”), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives–offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future.

Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales, The Gracekeepers tells a modern story of an irreparably changed world: one that harbors the same isolation and sadness, but also joys and marvels of our own age.

2.) If I Fall If I Die – Michael Christie

What’s it all about?:

A heartfelt and wondrous debut about family, fear, and skateboarding, that Karen Russell calls “A bruiser of a tale . . . a death-defying coming-of-age story.” 

Will has never been outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who panics at the thought of opening the front door. Their world is rich and fun- loving—full of art, science experiments, and music—and all confined to their small house.

But Will’s thirst for adventure can’t be contained. Clad in a protective helmet and unsure of how to talk to other kids, he finally ventures outside.  At his new school he meets Jonah, an artsy loner who introduces Will to the high-flying freedoms of skateboarding.  Together, they search for a missing local boy, help a bedraggled vagabond, and evade a dangerous bootlegger.  The adventure is more than Will ever expected, pulling him far from the confines of his closed-off world and into the throes of early adulthood, and all the risks that everyday life offers.

In buoyant, kinetic prose, Michael Christie has written an emotionally resonant and keenly observed novel about mothers and sons, fears and uncertainties, and the lengths we’ll go for those we love.

3.) The Lie Tree – Frances Hardinge

What’s it all about?:

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy – a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.

In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder – or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

4.) Hideous Creatures – S.E. Lister

What’s it all about?:

An extraordinary, magical odyssey into the dark heart of the New World . . .

Arthur Hallingham is the youngest son of an English earl. He’s on the run from his former life – from a family where painful, half-understood secrets lurk.

Arthur travels on a slave ship to the coast of America. Amidst the teeming squalor and vaulting ambitions of the New World, he encounters Flora, the tough daughter of an outlaw, and Shelo, a native medicine man with mysterious powers who seems to have a plan for him.

The three set off on a journey through the thick forests and along the wide rivers of the lush southern wilderness. As they near their destination, Shelo’s terrible and destructive purpose is gradually revealed.

Hideous Creatures is a rich, beautiful and compelling novel that will appeal to fans of Audrey Niffenegger, Erin Morgenstern and Neil Gaiman, by a young debut author destined for literary stardom.

5.) Into The Trees – Robert Williams

What’s it all about?:

Harriet Norton won’t stop crying. Her parents, Ann and Thomas, are being driven close to insanity and only one thing will help. Mysteriously, their infant daughter will only calm when she’s under the ancient trees of Bleasdale forest.
The Nortons sell their town-house and set up home in an isolated barn. Secluded deep in the forest, they are finally approaching peace – until one night a group of men comes through the trees, ready to upend their lives and threaten everything they’ve built.

Into the Trees is the story of four dispossessed people, drawn to the forest in search of something they lack and finding their lives intertwining in ways they could never have imagined. In hugely evocative and lyrical writing, Robert Williams lays bare their emotional lives, set against the intense and mysterious backdrop of the forest. Compelling and haunting, Into the Trees is a magisterial novel.

 

As with everything that Mr B’s recommended us, the booksellers there did such a stellar job and I’m looking forward to every single one of these books. I’m particularly intrigued by Hideous Creatures by S.E. Lister as I read The Immortals by her recently (another Mr B’s purchase!) and absolutely loved it. I’ve also spent far too long waiting to read The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge, especially as it has had much critical acclaim, winning the Costa Book Award in 2015. The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan also looks like such a “me” book – fairy tale-esque, literary and lovely. Can’t wait to get started!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think and what should I read first?

Bookish Resolutions And Goals For 2018

Published January 8, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image from: http://msbookish.com/2015-goals-bookish-goals-for-the-new-year/

Hello everyone and welcome to a post that I don’t normally do but for some reason, I thought it might be nice to do for 2018. I don’t normally like to make too many rules and regulations for my blog but due to the sheer volume of the books that I own, the back-list of reviews I still have to write etc. I thought it might be time to set some things down, just to give me some sort of direction for the year ahead. I’ve written down TEN major resolutions and then I’ve slotted in another FIVE general ones (just because once I started I found it quite difficult to stop…oops!) So, here we go!

1.)  Put less pressure on myself to blog every day.

I came a little way to doing this last year when I was ill. I did get to the stage where I just thought: “Oh *%$* it!” but there was still that residual guilt when I didn’t get a post done every day. 😦

2.) Gradually reduce review back-list by continuing to do mini-pin it reviews.

I came a long way doing this last year – to date I’ve done 16 mini-pin it reviews which means sixty-four books that were originally on my review back-list are GONE! Definitely will continue this.

3.) Use notebook to make notes on titles “currently reading” so when I come to review them, things are fresher in my memory.

I recently bought a lovely notebook from Faye at Daydreaming Designs and used it to compile this list and a few other things already this year in the attempt to make me a little more organised!

4.) Be honest with myself if I’m unable to take on a review title especially those requested by authors directly that are not really my cup of tea.

When I first started blogging, I used to love that authors requested me to read their books and used to accept EVERYTHING. Then I realised how stupid this was and that I couldn’t possibly do this and read the things I WANTED to read as well. I have got better at refusing review requests but need to stop feeling bad about it too.

5.) Be better about commenting on other bloggers reviews.

Again something I have got a little better with last year but I still perhaps don’t comment as much as I should. Sometimes I think I’ve got nothing else to say except “Great review!” but even if I just say that it’s letting the blogger know I enjoyed their post.

6.) Attend more bookish events/author talks.

I love doing this and unfortunately chronic illness slows me down in this A LOT. I work in London and there is the potential to attend events after work however if I do that and get home late I’m likely to knacker myself for work the next morning. However, once in a while wouldn’t hurt!

7.) Continue with “Shelfie by Shelfie” meme and hopefully encourage others to participate.

I’ve really enjoyed developing my little meme last year, something I thought I could never do. I have a lot of shelves so there are many, many more shelfies to come and hopefully I can inspire someone else to join in too.

8.) Experiment with making reviews a little “fresher” i.e. use of images relevant to post.

I love bloggers that use images/GIF’s which highlight their content and break up the text a little bit. I’ve been thinking of doing something like this myself but we’ll see how it goes…

9.) Read some of those books I’ve been meaning to get to for years.

For example, A Song Of Fire And Ice by George R.R. Martin, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters. Some of these books have been on my shelves/Kindle for FAR too long!

10.) Start doing some buddy reads/join an online bookclub.

I’ve never done a buddy read before and it looks like such fun! I already have tentative plans with the lovely Janel from Keeper Of Pages to read The Fireman by Joe Hill this year so I’m really hoping that takes off. Just saying it right here, right now, if I mention a book and you’re open to a buddy read with me – let’s do it!

OTHER CHALLENGES:

  • Increase NetGalley ratio to a more acceptable level. – you don’t want to know my ratio…it’s shameful.
  • Participate in Mount TBR challenge. – I saw this on Jo’s Book Blog and it looks like a lot of fun!
  • Continue to enjoy Banned Books and Kid-Lit with Chrissi. – this should be easy, I’ve done this every year since I started blogging.
  • Read and review Richard And Judy book club picks. – also something I’ve done every year since I started blogging.
  • Read and review Daunt Books from annual subscription each month. – my wonderful boyfriend got me a Daunt Books Annual Subscription for Christmas so I get one new paperback each month. I’m determined to read and review them each month they come in. Let’s see how I do.

So everyone….

Image from: https://www.appbrain.com/app/wish-me-luck/com.Starlab.WML

 

YA Shot 2016 – why you NEED to go!

Published October 16, 2016 by bibliobeth

ya-shot-logo-web

Hi everyone, I’m here today to talk about a fantastic young adult literature festival in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstones Uxbridge that happens over just one day in Uxbridge (end of Metropolitan and Piccadilly Line just outside of London). Do you love young adult fiction? Are you free next Saturday 22nd October? Then you should definitely check out the YA Shot webpage HERE and see what delights they’re offering. I was lucky enough to attend YA Shot last year with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and we hosted a workshop called “Introduction To Blogging.” We were terribly nervous, especially as I’m not big on public speaking but we both ended up having a whale of a time and are so glad we did it.

For now, here are ten reasons why you should give YA Shot a try! (author links take you direct to the YA Shot webpage):

1.) It’s the brainchild of super-duper author and all round lovely person Alexia Casale whose novels The Bone Dragon and House of Windows you simply have to check out for their spellbinding content and beautiful, lyrical prose.

2.) Panel events? YA Shot has them in abundance! For example, Terms of Endearment: feminism and the portrayal of romance in YA – Harriet Reuter Hapgood, Rachel McIntyre, Holly Smale chaired by Holly Bourne sounds completely unmissable.

3.) Tough topics: To Have and Have Not: exploring poverty, privilege and class through YA – Michael Byrne, Patrice Lawrence, Steve Tasane, chaired by Polly Ho Yen, a talk which I’m sure will explore gritty issues and spark a great debate both during and afterwards.

4.) Feeling a bit emotional? The YA Shot team have got it covered with: The Hurt Locker: love, loss and coping – Sarah Alexander, Jenny Downham chaired by Clare Furniss.

5.) For the historical fiction lovers out there (like myself!) this looks incredibly tempting: Out of the Past: the age of the Tudors & Stuarts in YA with Jonathan WeilJane Hardstaff, Ally Sherrick, chaired by Andrew Prentice.

6.) Love the idea of “in conversation” author events? How about: It’s a Wonderful Life: exploring bullying and loss through magical realism with Mike Revell and Nikki Sheehan?

7.) Fancy being a writer yourself? How about an exclusive, small workshop (first come, first served) with a best-selling author where they can teach you all the tricks of the trade?: History is horrible (but great for writing fiction!) with Rhian Ivory.

8.) Do you have a favourite blogger/vlogger? Or maybe you’re just starting out? Come along to: The blogging system: all the things they don’t tell you with Vivienne Dacosta (Serendipity Reviews) and Laura Heath (SisterSpooky), also Blogging/Vlogging: the technical low-down with Stevie Finegan(SableCaught) and Virginie (Chouettblog).

9.) Don’t miss: Managing your reading and choosing what to review with Cora(TeaPartyPrincess) and Luna (Luna’s Little Library). (Hmm…maybe I need to go to this).

10.) There will be book signing sessions. Need I say more?

There are so many more wonderful author events and blogger/vlogger workshops than I’ve had space for in this post and I strongly urge you to visit the website to check out everything that’s going on. It’s a jam packed day that I’m certain will be a roaring success but you need to buy tickets if you want to go! Maybe I’ll see you there? Come and say hello if you see me, I’m sure to be lurking in some capacity!

Bookish Delights – Ninja Book Swap

Published September 22, 2016 by bibliobeth

autumn-swap

Has everyone heard about the Ninja Book Swap? No? Well, you’re in the perfect place! Sign up for their Autumn Ninja Book Swap has just opened (and remains open until midnight on Saturday October 2nd so you have plenty of time to fill in a really quick and easy form, receive a lovely box of bookish delights from a book ninja picked for you and send your own special package.

Interested? Tell you more?:

Okay, so here are the rules. On a date specified by lovely organiser Bex, you will receive an email giving you a partner. It will let you know their likes and dislikes with a link to their wishlist of books and your mission is to prepare a beautiful parcel based on what you think they would like. This should contain one book from your partner’s wishlist (but you can put more than one in if you like) a small gift and a card saying hello, introducing yourself with your name and Twitter/other social media contact details so that they can thank you for all the bookish goodness.

Bex will let you know the deadline as to when you must post your parcel by and once you send it off make sure you get proof of postage and email the Ninja Book Swap Team with a copy of this to prove that you have sent the package. You can choose to send internationally or locally, just please be aware that it is obviously going to cost a bit more if you choose to send overseas. After the deadline and after you’ve sent your parcel all you have to do is wait eagerly for Mr Postman to deliver your own box of delights from the partner chosen for you. Please also email Bex when you receive your parcel and make sure to thank your ninja on social media!

Make sense? Sign you up?:

First of all, say hello to Bex on Twitter @NinjaBookSwap so she’s aware of you (due to some naughty people taking advantage of the swap). She won’t bite- promise!

http://theninjabookswap.blogspot.co.uk/

Why do I love Ninja Book Swap so?:

I was first introduced to Ninja Book Swap by my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads after I expressed some jealousy at seeing her beautiful surprise packages. I’ve been involved in a couple of swaps now, one regular swap and a special themed spot which is done from time to time. On my first swap, I got the most beautiful bookish gifts – little bookmarks, banned books socks, a little keyring saying “I’d Rather Be Reading,” (so true!) and two fantastic John Lindqvist books which had been on my wishlist for an age but I’d never got round to buying for myself.

ninja

My Instagram post from my very first Ninja Book Swap – amazing goodies!

The themed swap had a Persephone Books theme – this is a specialist bookshop in London which stocks neglected fiction and non-fiction from mostly women writers. Their back catalogue is truly incredible and it was very exciting trying to decide a potential wishlist for my ninja of Persephone books I most wanted. See also my short feature on Persephone Books HERE.

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My Instagram post from my Persephone Book Ninja

Have I enticed you yet? Why not sign up? Might see you soon….as your NINJA! 😛

 

 

A Visit to Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights with Chrissi

Published September 4, 2014 by bibliobeth

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Photo’s of Mr B’s from the website, click on the image to get there!

Ah, you can’t beat a good bookshop. And without a doubt, Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in the centre of Bath, UK is one of the best bookshops I have ever been to. And I’m a bookshop fiend. I was over the moon when my sister found out about the bookshop and took me there as a treat for a “Reading Spa.” More about that later…

Mr B’s Emporium is an independent book shop set over three floors which was founded by Nic and Juliette Bottomley who left their jobs as lawyers to open the bookshop in 2006 (Thanks, guys!). The shop has done so well since it opened that it has twice won independent bookshop of the year in 2008 and 2011 where judges admired their “palpable passion” for books and their “compelling blend of traditional and modern bookselling methods.”

On entering the shop, I wasn’t quite sure where to start! There is so much to admire, look at, and touch for bibliophiles like ourselves that we felt quite overwhelmed. In a happy way, of course! The range of books is incredible and there always seems to be something different around every corner. For example, comic strips across walls, comfy chairs to sit on, free tea and coffee for customers and a fantastic concept where you can rent your own private reading booth, complete with headphones, biscuits and tea/coffee to shut out the world and just get reading! Not only this, but Mr B’s provides reading events with top authors such as Jeff Vandermeer, Sarah Waters and David Mitchell, book groups and ultimate gifts for book lovers like the Reading Spa or Mr B’s Reading Year. The latter involves eleven books being sent out a year (in paperback or hardback) based on a consultation with a biblio-therapist for your reading needs.

Reading Spa Room

Mr B’s Bibliotherapy Room courtesy of website, please click the image for more information on the Reading Spa

So, after being matched with a biblio-therapist (the lovely Emma) whose favourite books include The Time Traveller’s Wife and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Chrissi and I were taken to the beautiful Bibliotherapy Room where we had a cup of tea and a chat to Emma so she could get an idea of what to bring us. These were very basic questions such as: What are you reading at the moment? What was the last book you loved? Who are your favourite authors? Is there any genre you really dislike? (ME: “Chick-lit!” CHRISSI: “Really scary horror!”). Emma scribbled some notes, went away and came back with a towering mountain of books which she told us about one by one. I was really impressed with her bookish knowledge and it was so informal, it was like chatting to a friend. I was also really pleased about her choices, as they weren’t necessarily books that I would have been drawn to, but she sold them so well by the end we wanted the whole pile.

Emma left us in the comfy chairs with more tea and we discussed which of the beauties we just had to take away with us and which ones had to stay behind. It was a tough choice, but in the end we had it cut down to thirteen, and here they are!

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The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – Neil Gaiman

Dreams & Shadows – C. Robert Cargill

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie – Alan Bradley

I Am The Messenger – Markus Zusak

Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer

The Name Of The Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

The Moth – Catherine Burns

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal – Mal Peet

Born Weird – Andrew Kaufman

City of Thieves – David Benioff

The Last Banquet – Jonathan Grimwood

1222 – Anne Holt

The Panda Theory – Pascal Garnier

Quite a nice haul, don’t you think? Please click on each link to get to the book description at GoodReads. Armed with a free bookmark and Mr B’s mug to go along with our pile of books, we headed off, DEFINITELY to return again.

Huge thanks to Emma and all the staff at Mr B’s for making our day such a wonderful experience.