5 Cures for ‘Outlander’ Separation Anxiety

Personally I gave up on the Outlander series after the first three books, but I know plenty of people who pull at the bit waiting for the next book, and who schedule their day around the next episode on TV.  Hopefully as you wait for season 2 to air, or wait for the next instalment in the book series, here are five books I think you may find helpful:

Into the wildernessInto the Wilderness ~ Sara Donati
ISBN ~ 978-0385342575
Publisher ~Delta
No. Of Pages ~ 896 pages
Links ~ Indie Bound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Weaving a tapestry of fact and fiction, Sara Donati’s epic novel sweeps us into another time and place…and into a breathtaking story of love and survival in a land of savage beauty.

It is December of 1792. Elizabeth Middleton leaves her comfortable English estate to join her family in a remote New York mountain village. It is a place unlike any she has ever experienced. And she meets a man unlike any she has ever encountered—a white man dressed like a Native American: Nathaniel Bonner, known to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives. Determined to provide schooling for all the children of the village, Elizabeth soon finds herself locked in conflict with the local slave owners as well as with her own family. Interweaving the fate of the Mohawk Nation with the destiny of two lovers, Sara Donati’s compelling novel creates a complex, profound, passionate portrait of an emerging America.

veil of timeVeil of Time ~ Sara Claire R. McDougall
ISBN ~ 978-1451693812
Publisher ~ Gallery Books
No. Of Pages ~ 416 pages
Links ~ Indie Bound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

The medication that treats Maggie’s seizures leaves her in a haze, but it can’t dull her grief at losing her daughter to the same condition. With her marriage dissolved and her son away at school, Maggie retreats to a cottage below the ruins of Dunadd, once the royal seat of Scotland. But is it fantasy or reality when she awakens in a bustling village within the massive walls of eighth-century Dunadd? In a time and place so strange yet somehow familiar, Maggie is drawn to the striking, somber Fergus, brother of the king and father of Illa, who bears a keen resemblance to Maggie’s late daughter. With each dreamlike journey to the past, Maggie grows closer to Fergus and embraces the possibility of staying in this Dunadd. But with present-day demands calling her back, can Maggie leave behind the Scottish prince who dubs her mo chridhe, my heart?

time travelers wifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife ~ Audrey Niffenegger
ISBN ~ 978-1476764832
Publisher ~Harvest Books
No. Of Pages ~ 571 pages
Links ~ Indie Bound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

This is the celebrated tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who inadvertently travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.

human croquetHuman Croquet ~ Kate Atkinson
ISBN ~ 978-0312186883
Publisher ~ Picador
No. Of Pages ~ 352 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound

Once upon a time, in far-off England, there was a small village surrounded by a mighty forest, where a dark stranger, one Francis Fairfax, arrived to build a stately home. Fairfax Manor was renowned throughout the land for its feudal pleasures, its visit from the Queen, and the mysterious beauty of Lady Fairfax, who one day cursed the Fairfax name and vanished into the forest, never to be seen again except in a ghostly haze. Fast-forward to 1960…Over the centuries the forest has been destroyed, and the Fairfaxes have dwindled, too; now they are the local grocers to their suburb of Glebelands, a family as disintegrated as its ancestral home. It is here that young Isobel Fairfax awakens on the morning of her sixteenth birthday, a day that will change everything she knows and understands about her past and her future. Helping celebrate if one could call it that are the members of her strange and distracted family: There is Vinny, Maiden Aunt from Hell; Gordon, Isobel’s father, who disappeared for seven years; and Charles, her elder brother, who divides his time between searching for aliens and waiting for the return of their long-gone mother, Eliza. And back again…As her day progresses, Isobel is pulled into brief time warps and extended periods of omniscience, from the days of the first Fairfax to the roaring twenties to World War II, through which she learns the truth about her family and about her mother, whose disappearance is part of the secret that remains at the heart of the forest.

perilous gardThe Perilous Gard ~ Elizabeth Marie Pope; Richard Cuffari (Illustrator)
ISBN ~ 978-0618150731
Publisher ~Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
No. Of Pages ~ 288 pages
Age range ~ 10 – 14 Years
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound

In 1558, while exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle known as Perilous Gard, young Kate Sutton becomes involved in a series of mysterious events that lead her to an underground world peopled by Fairy Folk—whose customs are even older than the Druids’ and include human sacrifice.

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Review: The Guns of Napoleon ~ Peter Lean

Guns of NapoleonISBN ~ 978-1910162668
Publisher ~ Kindle Amazon
No. Of Pages ~ 320 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble

A cross genre (time-travel/historical) novel, based on the short story with the same title.

The Guns of Napoleon takes Victor Sirkov, professor of History at St. Petersburg State University, and passionate scholar of Napoleon, on an adventure through time to meet the very man he thought he knew so well.

Victor is contacted by the mysterious ChronoLab and given the opportunity to witness first hand what he could only have imagined. He is sent back two hundred years through a natural wormhole, and brings his personal demons with him.

Thrust into a world very different from the one he left behind, Victor must fight for survival during Napoleon’s fateful, and bloody, conquest of Russia. Knowing how history should play out, doesn’t always give him the upper hand, as Victor soon finds out.

The Guns of Napoleon deals with the consequences of changing significant moments of world history, and to what lengths one man will go to correct them, not only for the greater good of mankind, but for the woman he loves.

4 Thumbs-UpI was given this book by the Author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review, as if I ever do anything else in my reviews but be honest and unbiased.

To be honest I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw the title and then read the synopsis, but I can say that this book was well worth the time it took to read it.

The main protagonist is well written and, although he can be a bit of an ass in some parts of the story, he is a well-rounded and likeable chap.  The way in which he reacts to the period of history he finds himself in is very realistic and when faced with events that his interaction with could change the course of history, it is interesting to see which path he takes.  This is a character that makes the reader think, and also makes them examine what they themselves would do if they were in his shoes.  What I particularly liked about this character was the way he was able to accept some of the new facts he learnt about certain historical figures; he was not narrow-minded or blinkered as can be the case with some History Professors.  He appeared to me to fully embrace the notion that History is more about the motivation of those who were around at the time that shaped History, rather than just it being a random series of events.

Blending time travel with actual historical events in a piece of fiction must be a difficult task; the Author pulls this off magnificently.  The way in which they wrote this book reminded me very much of Connie Willis and her Oxford Time Travel books, but without the humour that is apparent in those novels.  My only complaint in this book, and the reason for giving it a 4 thumbs rating was, I felt, it could have done with some really tight editing to correct some of the minor errors in it.  Apart from this everything else about the book was thoroughly enjoyable; the writing style of the Author, the plot and the premise all joined together to show that this is an Author that has what it takes to satisfy an established publishing house, rather than remaining in the self-publishing world.

I would definitely recommend this book to readers interested in both the Historical and Time-travel genres, as it is a wholly engrossing read.

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Review: Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel #1) ~ Connie Willis

DoomsdayIn the year 2054, students research the past by living in it. So when Kivrin Engle, a history student at Oxford, enters Brasenose College’s time machine for transport back to 1320s England, no one anticipates any problems.

But her two-week project takes a frightening turn. A mutant virus has been spreading through Oxford, and Kivrin arrives in the past delirious with fever. She is found and taken to a manor house, and when she recovers, she can no longer locate the time machine rendezvous point.

As Kivrin struggles to adjust to a past that’s not quite what she expected, a past where the Black Death is beginning to ravage a mystified, terrified population. With the only people who know where she’s gone seriously ill themselves, will Kivrin ever find her way back to the future? Or has she become a permanent exile in a deadly time?

4 Thumbs-UpWhat can I say about this book apart from the fact that it has something in it that almost every reader will enjoy, and that this is the book that started my love of this particular Author.  I had a copy of this lent to me whilst I was laid up with pneumonia, and a friend asked me if I had ever read anything written by the Author; little did they know then that by introducing me to them they would be creating a monster.

There are many characters in this novel, both futuristic and from the past, and the main protagonist is a gripping female student who time travels back to the 1300’s.  The way in which this character copes with a time so at odds to her own, with so many restrictions when it comes to women is what makes her a person I immediately could connect with.  Throw into the mix the issue of the Black Death and this makes her even more compelling.  Throughout the novel the reader can follow her progress as she comes to terms with the times she now finds herself in and can root for her every step of the way.  Her determination and courage shines through as the times degenerate into one of sickness and death.  The Author is equally generous when introducing their other characters in this book, although there were a few that I thought were rather superfluous to the plot itself; there is the concerned and overworked professor who I felt was the very picture of the stereotypical academic, and also the ‘mother hen’ type character who fussed over everyone and anyone.  I didn’t find any of the characters unlikable, and this rather surprised me as there is usually one that I would like to meet a miserable demise.

When it comes to location descriptions and really setting the mood for the 1300’s it is apparent that the Author did a great deal of research into the time period, and the effects the Black Death had on families and attitudes of that time.  Unfortunately the editing was not as tight as I would have expected in a novel as gripping and fast paced as this one, and this is the reason for the four thumbs rating.  Overall though this is a well written and entertaining book, that keeps the reader turning the pages to the very end.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a great story and/or is interested in historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy.

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Review: Timelapse ~ Lorrie Farrelly

timelapseThe accidental death of his beloved wife sent Alex Morgan into a numbing world of suppressed grief and rage, eased only by a profound bond with his son. Suddenly his life is shattered again when a chance discovery propels him into a world gone horribly, terrifyingly wrong.

Piecing together clues in this new nightmare, Alex suspects a colleague of taking a few, meddling steps back in time, changing the course of history – destroying Alex’s family and his world. Desperately clinging to his sanity, he searches for any evidence his young son still exists.

Jessica O’Neil is fighting a nightmare of her own, captured and facing execution for freedom-fighting heroics in her grim, oppressive world. When Alex rescues the feisty young rebel, she resists her dangerous attraction to him – a man who’s clearly crazy, literally in a world of his own.

Bound together first by chance and desperation, then by growing purpose, respect, and emotion, Alex and Jessie must depend on each other to survive. More than that, they must find a way to prevent a terrible crime from taking place – a crime that plunged both their worlds into nightmare – over a hundred years before. To have a future, they will have to find their way to the past.

4 Thumbs-UpAfter having read the synopsis for this particular novel, you may be forgiven in thinking that I may have had too much sun this summer, as this book appears to be one of those dreaded romance novels that I avoid as if I may catch something nasty from them; and you would be right, not about the sun thing but about this being a romance novel… except it isn’t one in the true sense of the word.  From the very first page this book had me pulled in hook, line and sinker and, because I was expecting one of ‘those’ novels took me totally by surprise.

The male protagonist is written wonderfully and in such a manner that both male and female readers will develop a close connection with him.  He is vulnerable while at the same time having an inner strength that the reader can only wonder at, is devoted to his family but also feels that fate is not on his side as life continues to throw one, almost unbearable curve ball after another at him.  The female counterpart to his lead is a perfect foil for him, she is strong and capable in all the traits that he lacks, and is also able to retain her own individuality during the most trying of times and circumstances.  The Author wrote these, and all her characters in such a way that they came alive within the novels pages, and make the reader feel as if there might be a possibility they would run into them as they go about their daily lives.  These are three-dimensional, well fleshed out participants in a definitely not your run of the mill romance.

Now we move onto why this is not a romance book, it is primarily a science fiction novel which deals with time travel and just happens to include the story of a developing relationship between two of its characters.  The fact that the romance wasn’t overwhelming made this book even more enjoyable for me.  The plot line is excellent and contains plenty of fast paced action for those readers who like this kind of thing in their sci-fi/time travel reads and, although some of the scenes could have been written with a bit more punch for my liking, I attributed this to being the Author’s writing style more than anything wrong with the novel.  My one complaint and the reason for the four thumbs rating was I would have liked to have read more about the world in which our male lead finds himself in even though it was not necessary to the flow of the story, it would have added a little more depth.

I would highly recommend this to all readers of time travel and science fiction novels and to anyone who want an enjoyable read with a twist.

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Review: 3037 ~ Peggy Holloway

3037
The year is 3037 and technology has come a long ways. There are no more computers. Now everything is implanted directly into the brain and the government is using these implants to control the people. It is up to Ashley, the heroine to come from the past and save mankind.

 

3 Thumbs-UpHaving written many mysteries novels, this book is the Author’s debut in the world of science fiction.

Given the era from which the novels heroine comes, the character of the female lead is captured wonderfully.  When we first meet her she is full of all the indoctrinated expectations of her time and, although this made her come across as naive it also served to make her grate on my last nerve until the book, and her found its stride.  From that point onwards, the female lead developed and evolved to fit the changed world she was now in, and without the obvious difficulties this would cause any time traveller, did it without any of the constant whining and moaning that are often found in books of this type.  Although she was a good fit for her part in the storyline, she still wasn’t a character I particularly liked as I couldn’t find any part of her that I could identify with.

The novel itself is very interesting, and contains a lot of food for thought as to the way mankind is treating the ‘small blue dot’ we live on and how it may affect future generations, so if you are looking for an easy read that will make you think, this would be a good one for you to pick up.  Because of the nature of the writing and the basically simple way in which the storyline is put together, I feel it also would make and ideal read for the beach, or when there are a few moments free to enjoy a book and a glass of your favourite something.  This is not a book the reader will have to invest vast amounts of time and energy into, just to make it to the end.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light and easy vacation read, but something that will also give them something to talk about over dinner.

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12 London Literary Spots

union-jack

If you are thinking of going to London this summer, here are some off the beaten track spots all book lovers should take time to visit.   of Buzzfeed.com also wrote an article on this theme on May 2nd, 2014 and, although the concept is the same a lot of the descriptions have been changed for the purpose of posting on this site:

the fitzroyWhat:  The Fitzroy Tavern
Where: 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX
Of Special Interest to: Dylan Thomas, George Orwell lovers
Why:  The Fitzroy Tavern was once right in the heart of London’s Artists Quarter, and was known as a meeting place for writers, artists, intellectuals, and Bohemians in the 1930s and ’40s. Two of the more notable regulars were Dylan Thomas and George Orwell, whose pictures can be seen on the walls of the downstairs Writers and Artists Bar.

dickens museumWhat:  Charles Dickens Museum
Where: 77 Borough High Street, Camberwell, London SE1
Of Special Interest to: Charles Dickens and the Victorian era lovers
Why:  The Charles Dickens museum, based out of the only remaining London home of the writer, he lived here from 1837–1839, and wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickelby within its walls. The shop is stocked with such Dickensian delights as plaster and bronze busts, ceramic figurines, stationery sets, embroidered towels, and feather quill pens.

If you decide to pay the entrance fee and tour the four floors, you will not be disappointed.  The museum is a reconstruction of what Dickens’ home would’ve looked like when he lived there, with period furniture — some, like his custom-made lectern or writing desk, originally owned by Dickens himself. The dining table is set for one of his dinner parties with place cards for writers like John Foster and William Thackeray, the library is preserved with walls of books written by Dickens and by those who inspired him, and portraits line the walls. It’s a good glimpse into Dickens’ life, but things like the kitchen re-creation also showcase upper-class Victorian life in general.

charing cross roadWhat:  The Bookshops of Charing Cross Road
Where: 77 Borough High Street, Camberwell, London SE1
Of Special Interest to: Bookshops, Book lovers… need I say more!  One of my all time favourite spots in London!
Why:  Charing Cross Road is a book lover’s Mecca for its second-hand and independent bookshops. Quinto & Francis Edwards (72 Charing Cross Road) offers an eclectic selection of rare and antique books on its ground floor, and a more general (and often pulpy) inventory in the basement that is completely restocked every month. Any Amount of Books (56 Charing Cross Road) is the almost magical kind of shop where it feels like the books are spilling out of the walls — and it’s got an impressive collection of paperbacks on the pavement.  Also, while you are here take time to visit Marks & Co (84 Charing Cross Road), yes it is the shop that featured in Helene Hanff’s 1970 book.

If you want something of a grander scale, there’s the flagship branch of Foyles’ (113–119 Charing Cross Road), which sells a comprehensive selection of both new and second-hand books, spread out among five floors. And if you’re still itching for more you can turn onto Cecil Court, which has its own collection of rare, specialist, and second-hand bookshops.

The french houseWhat:  The French House
Where:  49 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 5BG
Of Special Interest to: Dylan Thomas, Brendan Behan lovers
Why:  This Soho pub is another onetime Bohemian hot spot, with a claim to poets Dylan Thomas and Brendan Behan as regulars. Dylan Thomas is reputed to have once left the only original, handwritten manuscript for his radio drama Under Milk Wood at the bar, which sent the BBC into a frenzied search. It prides itself on being a place for conversation it has a strict “no music, no machines, no television and no mobile phones rule,” though the phone rule might not be quite as rigid as the others, and it’s a lively gathering place. The problem is that it’s so lively, conversation is difficult without shouting. But if you’re down for shouting, and if you’re OK with cozying up next to strangers, it’s a great stop.

Oscar WildeWhat:  A Conversation with Oscar Wilde
Where: Adelaide Street near Trafalgar Square
Of Special Interest to: Oscar Wilde lovers
Why:  This sculpture celebrates one of the greatest playwrights of the English language, and was commissioned following a campaign and public appeal to finally honor and memorialize the famous playwright in the city where he lived, and where his plays were most performed. The sculpture depicts Wilde emerging from a low granite sarcophagus, and according to the sculpture’s creator, Maggi Hambling, “The idea is that he is rising, talking, laughing, smoking from this sarcophagus and the passerby, should he or she choose to, can sit on the sarcophagus and have a conversation with him.” On the granite, a quotation is inscribed from his play Lady Windermere’s Fan, “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars”. Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854, and he was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford. After he graduated, he moved to London to pursue a literary career. In the early 1890s, he wrote several extremely successful society comedies that continue to be popular with theatre audiences today, including An Ideal Husband, and The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde’s personal life became tumultuous when he began an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. After fighting a disastrous court action over accusations of gross indecency, Wilde was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to two years of hard labour. Following his imprisonment, he lived the remainder of his life in exile, and died in Paris on 30 November 1900. A Conversation with Oscar Wilde was unveiled on the 98th anniversary of Oscar Wilde’s death.

the globeWhat:  Shakespeare’s Globe
Where: 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9HS
Of Special Interest to: Charles Dickens and Shakespeare lovers
Why:  The original Globe Theatre, where many of Shakespeare’s plays were first staged and which he co-owned, burned to the ground in 1613 during a performance of ‘Henry VIII’. Nearly 400 years later, it was rebuilt not far from its original site, using construction methods and materials as close to the originals as possible.  The open-air, free-standing Yard is the best bet for those after complete authenticity, the absence of seating may test your stamina, while the Middle and Upper Galleries afford an atmosphere of their own.  The Globe has a commitment to faithfully recreating an original ‘Shakespeare in performance’ experience, with the season running from April to October.

In the UnderGlobe beneath the theatre is a fine exhibition on the history of the reconstruction, Bankside and its original theatres, and Shakespeare’s London, including elegantly displayed costumes from early productions in the new theatre, filmed video interviews and touch screen exhibits on Elizabethan special effects; visitors can also edit a page of ‘Hamlet’ to their own specifications and print the result. Guided tours of the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre run throughout the year and seasonal festivals take place on the riverside area outside the Globe.

The goerge innWhat:  The George Inn
Where: 77 Borough High Street, Camberwell, London SE1
Of Special Interest to: Charles Dickens and Shakespeare lovers
Why:  The George Inn dates back to the late 16th century, and it stands as the last remaining original coaching inn in London. A placard in the courtyard counts both Shakespeare and Charles Dickens among those who “knew the hospitality of the inn,” and the spot even has a mention in Dickens’ Little Dorrit. The 300-year-old building is pretty stunning, with two floors of interlocking, oak-beamed dining rooms, latticed windows, open fireplaces, and long galleries.  It’s a busy spot — it attracts tourists for its proximity to Shakespeare’s Globe, and it’s often used for conferences and events — but because it’s so large, you don’t really feel cramped, and you can explore the less crowded nooks and crannies and convince yourself that you’ve actually travelled back in time.

bloomsburyWhat:  The Garden Squares of Bloomsbury
Where: Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A
Of Special Interest to: Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, T.S. Eliot, Mary Shelley lovers
Why:  Set aside out a full few for exploring the garden squares of Bloomsbury. This idyllic area is most famous for being a home and meeting grounds to the great writers, artists, and intellectuals of the 1920s and 1930s known as the Bloomsbury group, but it’s had a long history of literary ties. There’s Gordon Square, where you can spot blue plaques, some of which you may have to look closely for, marking the homes of Lytton Strachey (51 Gordon Square), John Maynard Keynes (46 Gordon Square), and Virginia Woolf (50 Gordon Square). You can enjoy the fountain plaza at Russell Square and check out where T.S. Eliot once worked, at Faber & Faber. Swing by 87 Marchmont Street and find the former home of Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Or you can just claim a spot on the grass at Tavistock Square and read until you fall asleep.

The British LibraryWhat:  The British Library
Where: 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB
Of Special Interest to: Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, original manuscripts, historic texts lovers
Why:  The British Library is a necessary stop if only for the fact that it is technically, based on the number of catalogued items, the largest library in the world. Those who are drawn to libraries in general will eat it up: the rare collections, the serene reading rooms, a sprawling piazza, and some truly life-changing upright panels for leaning and reading.  But the biggest draws are the King’s Library and the Sir John Ritblat Gallery — the former an awe-inspiring, six-story glass tower right smack in the middle of the building, containing 65,000 printed volumes, pamphlets, manuscripts, and maps collected by King George III between 1763 and 1820; the latter, a stunning free exhibit showcasing sacred scrolls, historical documents, and original manuscripts — many annotated with the authors’ handwritten notes — including Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, Jane Eyre, Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, Mrs Dalloway, and more. It also has a well-stocked book and gift shop, which is worth a visit.

harry potterWhat:  The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9¾
Where: King’s Cross Station
Of Special Interest to: Harry Potter, fantasy and magic lovers
Why:  The “Platform 9¾” sign has moved around a bit since the first film was released, but these days you can find it in the western departures concourse at King’s Cross Station. Half of a luggage trolley, complete with owl cage, sticks out of the wall underneath it, and a surprisingly short line of Harry Potter fans weave around, waiting for their photo-op. At first it seems like maybe it will be embarrassing, since you are in the middle of the concourse and you maybe noticeably older than both the friendly employees and the fellow fans, but then you get closer, and you choose a scarf, and the employee validates your choice “Of course you’re a Hufflepuff, look at you!”, and then …

But instead of transporting to Hogwarts, you just give the scarf back to the employee and swing around the corner to the cozy shop, which holds a wonderland of Harry Potter merchandise despite its tiny size. A display of wands lines the back wall, basically straight out of Ollivanders. You can stock up on house cardigans and scarves, Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans, Marauder’s Maps, feather quill pens, and — if you want to drop some more serious money — original, signed posters.

herculesWhat:  Pillars of Hercules
Where: 7 Greek Street, London W1D 4DF
Of Special Interest to: Charles Dickens, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan lovers
Why:  Situated in Soho, this pub dates back to 1910, but a tavern of the same name has been at the site since as early as 1730. It apparently inspired Charles Dickens enough for him to drop its name in A Tale of Two Cities, and the honor was returned when the road at the bar’s side was renamed Manette Street, after the book’s Doctor Manette. More recently, the spot has been said to draw some of the best of London’s literary scene, including Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, and Ian McEwan. Writer and critic Clive James even named his second collection of literary criticism after the bar, allegedly because that is where a majority of the essays within it were written.

sherlock holmes museumWhat:  The Sherlock Holmes Museum
Where: 221b Baker Street, London NW1 6XE
Of Special Interest to: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, mysteries, the Victorian era, historical re-enactments lovers
Why:  You might think that the Sherlock Holmes Museum is only worth visiting if you intend to pay for a ticket, and it would be an understandable assumption, but a WRONG one. The whimsy is far-reaching, starting with the scattered silhouettes at the Baker Street Tube station and continuing up on the street, where you’re met with a “mysterious “sign of a hand pointing to…

The trail continues down Baker Street, and the silhouette can be found on the signs and windows of both the restaurant and bar across the street; the clothing shop next to those displays capes in the window (which could be a coincidence, but still). Even the dry cleaner isn’t just a dry cleaner — it’s the dry cleaner to Sherlock Holmes. And then you’re there, at “the world’s most famous address”, in the reimagined home of everyone’s favorite fictional detective.

The museum portion is a re-creation of the home of Sherlock Holmes, as described by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The sitting room, bedrooms, study, and laboratory are all set with Victorian-era furnishings, “handwritten” notes and memorabilia about various cases, and life-size figurines.  The museum shop is honestly enough of an attraction in itself if you don’t want to pay admission to the actual museum and it’s filled with standard souvenir fare, However, you can also find some rare and often silly gems (hats, walking sticks, pipes, handcuffs, and, of course, books), and all of the employees are in period garb.

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National Reading Month

bk_home_small Kate DiCamillo

March is National Reading Month and March 5th was World Read Aloud Day, so I thought I would share this interview with you from Kate DiCamillo, a children’s book author that I thought you would enjoy.  The original interview was written by Seira Wilson of Omnivoracious.

“Probably best known for her novels Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux, DiCamillo has had quite a year already.  At the start of 2014 she was named the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a post voted on by a panel of booksellers, the Children’s Book Council, and the Library of Congress.  Then when the Newbery award winners were announced at the end of January, DiCamillo took home the medal for Flora & Ulysses (an Amazon Best Children’s Book of 2013), marking her third time as a Newbery recipient (she won the medal for Tales of Despereaux in 2004 and an honor for Because of Winn-Dixie in 2001).  DiCamillo is a powerhouse advocate for reading and getting books into the hands of children and, as you’ll see in her post below, she does it with immense grace, gratitude, and always a touch of humor.

When I was nine years old, my mother checked Beverly Cleary’s Ribsy out of the public library, and read the book aloud to my brother and me.  We read a few chapters of the story every night.  The three of us sat side by side on the flowered sectional couch in the Florida room.  The Florida room had orange shag carpet.  Its walls were paneled in cypress, and we could see Lake Minnehaha from the large bank of windows that faced south.

On the floor, stretched out parallel to the couch, was our dog Nanette.  Nanette’s flank rose and fell as my mother read, and the dog would raise her head off the floor and look at us every time we laughed. 

We laughed a lot. 

Ribsy is a funny book.

There was a lamp by the couch.  And as the darkness outside grew darker, as the lake disappeared into the sky, as more of the story got told, the light by the couch seemed to grow brighter.

We were a pack of four: my mother, my brother, the dog and me.  In the book, Ribsy the dog was lost.  But we were all safe inside.  We were together.

That was over four decades ago.

Nanette is gone and my mother is gone.  My brother and I live far away from each other. 

But every time I see the cover of that book, every time I see a picture of Ribsy, I am transported back to that time, to that cypress-paneled room, to the flowered couch, to the lamp and the laughter and the safety.

Reading together is a very particular kind of magic.

When I meet teachers and librarians who tell me that they read aloud to their classrooms, I always try to make a point of thanking them.

Reading a story together brings us together: large groups, small groups, packs of four and packs of two.  When we read together, we come in from the darkness, the cold.

It occurs to me as I write these words, as I remember the darkness outside that room in Florida, that I never explicitly thanked my mother for reading to us.

So, I will thank her here, now, in the best way I can, by encouraging other people to do what she did for me, and for my brother.

I will ask you to read aloud to your students, your children.  Read aloud to your husband, your wife.  Read aloud to your dog.

Push back the darkness.

Sit down beside somebody you love. 

Turn on a light.  Open a book.

Kate DiCamillo

All rights and credits for this article belong to Seira Wilson, Onmivoracious