Pippin Pals

With the UK most likely going into lock down again sometime soon, there will no doubt be quite a few children who will continue to be confused by all the goings on so a book about Covid, its implications and the precautions needed, plus a hearty thanks and some appreciation for health workers, etc. will come in handy for parents.

:Donna Marie, blogger and author says; I made available on my site for families with kids, educators, staff and their families and students hoping they stay safer by helping them comply, especially if they have to do in-person learning. They’re in 8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17 sizes to print for home or classroom; they show, in pictures, how to wear and handle masks properly, and thoroughly wash hands. This entire project is my contribution to helping children during this pandemic.

Approaching the new measures from a child’s point of view with all the emotional aspects, as well as explaining all about Covid and protecting oneself, the book also encourages family time and creativity, which helps to balance out and bring something positive into discussion. Continue reading “Pippin Pals”

Channel Islands Water-Colours – Henry B. Wimbush

Recently I decided that I needed to know more about the Channel Islands, why?  Why not, is my default answer and there are probably few better reasons than that.  Having since hunted down a couple of books – as well as finding some obscure titles about other subjects in the process, more of which in the future – this is the first of two books I have to share with you.

Rather than concentrating on the stories and histories thereof first, this offering is a simply a series of watercolour scenes from the islands.  These are mainly from Jersey and Guernsey, as well as a token one each from both Alderney and Sark.

Strangely the cover doesn’t really give the inquisitive viewer any clue to the quality or style of the work, so throwing myself into the subjective world of art, I couldn’t help but be taken by this collection. Not only does it inspire travel with its attention to nature, but it also adds in a touch of the human encroachment and how this can be pleasant but also less palatable.

There is much to appreciate with these watercolours, whether it be a ferocious sea, a peaceful scene of boats around a harbour, or the impressive towering cliffs that adorn a few of the pieces.  The sea features in all of the photos, which makes sense for the subject of islands but the scope for the interiors now interests me and leaves me seeking art that is more inward looking. Continue reading “Channel Islands Water-Colours – Henry B. Wimbush”

Irmina – Barbara Yelin

In the mid-1930s, Irmina, an ambitious young German, moves to London. At a cocktail party, she meets Howard Green, one of the first black students at Oxford, who, like Irmina, is working towards an independent existence. However, their relationship comes to an abrupt end when Irmina, constrained by the political situation in Hitler’s Germany, is forced to return home. As war approaches and her contact with Howard is broken, it becomes clear to Irmina that prosperity will only be possible through the betrayal of her ideals.

When it comes to World War II and graphic novels, the book that seems to be most referenced is Maus, which is a good read although is not without its flaws.  Irmina on the other hand is much more mature and rewarding, it should be a required read for everybody.

Based around the diaries and letters of Barbara Yelin’s grandmother, this story is a well-researched and deeply layered examination of ordinary lives torn apart by the war.  |it’s a worth inquest and goes much further than most books do in getting to the route of the psychological impacts of the Nazi regime.

Irmina and Howard are both looked down on socially and distained, the outcasts shared loneliness becomes a strong bond, the tenuousness of which is soon shown as the war approaches.  As the book shifts towards life in Germany for Irmina, the reader witnesses her slow change through adversity – and choice – in her decisions and attitude towards all that she stands for holds dear.

Our protagonist is written in a believable and balanced way, she makes mistakes and the changes in her are gradual sometimes imperceptible, allowing the reader is left to decide whether Irmina is aware of all of her choices or not. Continue reading “Irmina – Barbara Yelin”

Modern Art an the Death of Culture – H. R. Rookmaaker

This illuminating, disturbing, highly original book shows how modern art reflects a wholeculture – a dying culture. Dr Rookmaaker outlines the various steps, the decisive choices that have been made, which have led to the modern movement. But the steps have not been made in isolation from socety generally. They depend on a worldview, particualrly on the values and presuppositions of the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, which have made our culture what it is today.

With his analysis of both well-known and lesser-known works of art, his broad understanding of contemporary cultures and sub-cultures, pop and op, happenings and hippies, jazz and beat, protest and revolution, Dr Rookmaaker builds up a message for our times which may be devestating, but is also profoundly helpful and positive. He sees above all the tremendous potential and relevence of Christian attitudes, to man, to society, to freedom, to the whole of reality, as the basis for a way ahead in the future.

It is always a pleasure to get a particular insight into art, and especially paintings that have passed my ignorant self by. Reflecting on this book, parts of it are dated yet it is an intriguing read, especially if you have your internet browser of choice handy for referencing the artwork mentioned but not shown.

Like the proverbial game of football, this is a book of two halves.  I really enjoyed the exploration of art through the ages, the way it was framed, and the stories the paintings tell, as well as those of the artists.  On the downside, there were plenty of bones of contention I had with some of Rookmaaker’s assertions when it came to religion and science.The book was first published in the 70’s, and it has dated to varying degrees.  Mainly though I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for the bit about Émile Zola, which was promised in a chapter and never appeared, which was a disappointment.

My main gripe with the author’s arguments were the plentiful attacks on science, Rookmaaker bizarrely complains that science has reduced reality to the things we can see and leaving out explanations that lack a naturalistic or rationalistic reason.  No offer of how one would test for those explanations is forthcoming, unsurprisingly. Continue reading “Modern Art an the Death of Culture – H. R. Rookmaaker”

Cover Love Letter

When scanning the shelves for prospective books, neither the spine colour and font interest me, it’s all about about if I recognise the title/author, or if the title is quirky enough to arrest my relentless and speedy march to the end of the shelf.

It would be remiss of me not to take the time to repost this absolutely gorgeous specimen, which is one book to certainly judge its cover by.  This beauty was cunningly placed in my eyeline, demanding my attention and money, both of which were duly and happily paid.

It is a shame that there aren’t more well thought out and intricate covers adorning shops everywhere, after all the appeal is not just for the bibliophile but also a way to entice those normally not interested in reading into picking up a book.  For those interested in more of Christopher Gibbs’ work, check out his visually arresting portfolio here.

Also worth a mention is Stephen King’s, The Wind Through the Keyhole, which used mosaic design technologies to incorporate thousands of rader’s faces into the artwork used on the back cover illustration of the first edition, which I think is a wonderful give back to the fans, especially those with magnifying glasses who wish to find themeselves.

Get Yourself A Free Book

Everyone loves free stuff, and what can be better than a good book bargain to take your mind off whatever is on currently on it?

I have been informed by my good friend Estelle – who runs a blog for the books of Indrajit Garai – that The Bridge of Little Jeremy, is currently on a free giveway on Amazon, which you can find at the link here.

I have also read and reviewed Indrajit’s two short story volumes, The Sacrifice,  and The Eye Opener, which I enjoyed immensely. Both of which I can happily recommend to you.

Here’s the blurb for The Bridge of Little Jeremy, check it out and indulge yourself in a story about family, the changing face of Paris, and the meaning of beauty, for absolutely no pennies.

Jeremy’s mother is about to go to prison for their debt to the State. He is trying everything within his means to save her, but his options are running out fast.

Then Jeremy discovers a treasure under Paris.

This discovery may save his mother, but it doesn’t come for free. And he has to ride over several obstacles for his plan to work.

Meanwhile, something else is limiting his time…

Modern Art and Old Titles

Modern art is really not my thing, however I will turn my hand to anything, and the result is about as on par with the other nonsense that graces popular galleries, so I will be accepting bids for this one starting at £20,000.

The one armed doll is a metaphor, please add appropriate £ value.

In other news, I have been gathering up the books of late and am now looking forward to reading some more eclectic and obscurer works to go with the madern titles that are more familiar.

In the future expect to see reviews for such travel books as Lord Dufferin‘s Letters from High Latitudes, more Indian works including, A History if Indian Literature, and A History of Indian Railways, thanks to our respective countries’ ties. And I’ll throw in The History of Chess for good measure.

Another geographic area that fascinates is Polynesia, so I’m pleased to have my grubby hands on Legends of Ma-ui: A Demi God of Polynesia.  And finally, to round off the southern hemisphere jaunts, and perhaps unsurprisingly I have also procured, Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society, and Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino.

My quest to vary my reading matter, and to push myself ever onward to new, fascinating, and perhaps undeservedly forgotten books will continue constantly, and I hope you will join me in these ventures, and perhaps suggest any fascinating titles you come across on your own reading journey.  The stranger, the better.

The Magic of Reality – Richard Dawkins

Magic takes many forms. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting that the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality – science.

Packed with inspiring explanations of space, time and evolution, laced with humour and clever thought experiments, The Magic of Reality explores a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena. What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? What causes tsunamis? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a page-turning, inspirational detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist too.

Richard Dawkins elucidates the wonders of the natural world to all ages with his inimitable clarity and exuberance in a text that will enlighten and inform for generations to come.

The copy that currently occupies shelf space next to St Augustine’s Confessions – as I confess I get a kick out of putting unlikely titles next to each other –  is the hardback edition, and it is a lavish, weighty, and fully illustrated, which is preferable to the paperback edition.

Dave McKean (one of the artists involved with Neil Gaiman’s magnificent The Sandman series, amongst other projects) is behind the varied and in many cases gorgeous illustrations.  There is plenty here to thrill the eye as well as to inform, and it will appeal to children as much as it will adults.  The intention is to attract all to the wonderful world of science, which it does.

Dawkins has departed from his usual style of writing in favour of something simpler, and I didn’t find the book particularly challenging, it was however very insightful and anybody with a love of exploring science and revelling in the knowledge we have accumulated over the millenia will enjoy the book. Continue reading “The Magic of Reality – Richard Dawkins”

The Literary Discipline

Whilst wandering the dusty tomes I came across this quote in The Literary Discipline by John Eskine, published in 1923, it still holds true today and makes the writer seem ever nobler.

As civilization becomes greater in quantity,
with more discoveries of science, with
more apparatus of education, we need
more and more the poetic genius that will
dedicate this material to great ends, and
by articulating for us what we can recognize
as our best ideal, teach us to simplify
life by casting off the other less significant
interests. The solution of all this raw
material for art can only be a greater art.

Coal Black Mornings – Brett Anderson

Back in 1996 I fell in love with the pop rock album, Coming Up, by Suede, said music used to keep me company when working nights a few years ago (and also whilst writing this review).  Combining elements of bouncy pop, glam rock, and melancholy laden tracks, to give it a good balance, the album teeters between throwaway music and the poignant atmosphere of emptiness layered tunes.

Seeing this book in the shops, it was a matter of chance that I chose to idly browse through – as well as hum one of the tunes from yesteryear – whilst waiting for the missus to finish shopping for makeup. Owing to a lack of blurb, and viewing the usual positive quotes with suspicion, I was pleasantly surprised with the writing style and how Anderson conveyed his story.

Although Coal Black Mornings stops short of the those commercially popular times for the band, this is a still very much worth the read even for those who have never heard of the band.   Normally I wouldn’t pick up a book such as this but after having a brief peruse through, I was taken with the way Anderson expresses himself and his critical self-awareness.

The majority of the book is about the author’s early life which takes place in the poverty of a working-class English suburb.  The band only begins to form towards the end of the book so there is plenty of insight into Anderson’s childhood and the way his experiences would go on to inform his lyrics and musical style.

The way this is approached was very effective, with honesty, and a lack of manufactured drama that so many memoirs of this ilk provide.  I found it a compelling read due to its simplicity and erudite literary style.  Although it is fair to note that as this is a book written for his son to understand his father more, there is little reference to the more showbiz part of the story with all its assorted vices. Continue reading “Coal Black Mornings – Brett Anderson”