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Festive greetings from the Ramblings!

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I’m scheduling a little Christmas Day post to send good wishes to all of you who take the time to visit this site and read my ramblings!

I’m planning a peaceful and relaxing day with family (Middle Child has already visited, but the other two Offspring will be at home to spend time with Mr. Kaggsy and I). There are book-shaped parcels waiting to be opened (the above are from my Virago Secret Santa!), plenty of vegan good food and no need to go out and do chores, think about work or do anything we don’t want to. And when everyone else is sleeping off their Christmas lunch, I usually manage to sneak in a little reading…. πŸ˜‰

So wherever you are and whatever you’re doing today, have a lovely (and hopefully bookish!) Christmas! x

Seasonal and sometimes chilly crime! @BL_Publishing @medwardsbooks #BLCC

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The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories
Edited by Martin Edwards

It’s fast becoming a tradition around the Ramblings to spend the end of December with some wonderful Christmas Crime from the wonderful British Library Crime Classics, and 2018 is no exception! Last year Ann Meredith’s “Portrait of a Murderer” marked 50 books being published by the BL in the series; in 2016 I read and loved the “Crimson Snow” collection; this year’s festive treat is the third superb collection of seasonal short stories curated by the redoubtable Martin Edwards, and needless to say it’s a pure joy.

The book features eleven stories, some short, some long, but all very clever and twisty. All are set in or around Christmas and are arranged chronologically, ranging in time from Baroness Orczy up to the more modern tales of Julian Symons and taking in such luminaries as Carter Dickson, Francis Durbridge and John Bude. What’s so good about the BL collections, apart from the fact they’re sheer enjoyment, is that they’re also the perfect way to get to know new authors and in some cases their serial characters. For example, I’ve not read any of Baroness Orczy’s ‘Lady Molly’ stories, so the one included here was an ideal introduction (on the evidence of which I’d like to read more!) Similarly, despite having several E.C.R. Lorac books lurking on Mount TBR, I haven’t actually read them yet, and the story here has whetted my appetite.

McBride, the philosopher, was the host of the great man; and he felt bound to interfere, partly from the sense of hospitality, partly because he always likes to be desperately just. (Nobody, it has been said, has seen more points of view than McBride, or adopted less.)

The style of story is wonderfully varied too. There are traditional, country-house style mysteries; tales that veer towards ghost story territory; locked room mysteries; light-hearted jaunts; thrillers; and so much more. It’s always hard to pick favourites in any excellent collection, so I won’t; but I will mention that the Lorac was very cleverly constructed; the Carter Dickson brilliant and chilling; the Knox had a wonderful twist (as well as including a nod to Agatha Christie by naming one of the characters Westmacott); and the Symons was a most unexpected and wonderful exposition of how a seemingly perfect crime plan can go completely awry.

I regularly sing the praises of the BL on the Ramblings, and for good reason; the Crime Classics have to be lauded for bringing so many unjustly neglected authors and books back into the public eye. I always find I can’t go wrong with one of their books, and their Christmas collections are no exception. Highly recommended seasonal reading! πŸ™‚

…in which the Birthday Fairy and Santa deliver – big time…

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Well, I did promise book pictures, didn’t I? And so here they come… I happen to be blessed (or cursed) with having a birthday quite close to Christmas so the gifts double up at this time of year, and despite everyone’s best intentions, there are always books!

First off, some modest arrivals for my birthday:

These lovelies came from OH and my BFF J. (amazingly, the Offspring managed to avoid books altogether for the birthday!)

The Peirene title is from J. and she very cleverly managed to pick the one I probably most want to read from their list! OH was also very clever in that he managed to find a BLCC I haven’t got or read, and also a book (the Godwin) which ties in with my current interest in things with a sort of link to the French Revolution (plus it has a *wonderful* David self-portrait on the cover). The crossword book? I love a crossword – I kid myself it keeps my brain alert…

As for Christmas… well, here are the bookish arrivals…!

First up, I always take part in the LibraryThing Virago Group Secret Santa and this year my books came courtesy of the lovely Simon at Stuck in a Book and these are they:

Simon knows that we share a love of a certain kind of writing and so picked some wonderful books I don’t have by A.A. Milne, Stephen Leacock and Saki – I’ve already been dipping and giggling… And it wouldn’t be a gift from Simon if there wasn’t a title in there by his beloved Ivy Compton-Burnett! I confess to owning several titles but not having plucked up the courage to read one yet – and fortunately I didn’t have this one, which is a beautiful edition, so maybe this should be where I start with Ivy… πŸ˜‰

Next up a few treats from J. She reminded me when we met up recently that it was actually 35 years since we first met (gulp!) and she knows me and my obsessions and my reading habits well. These were wonderful bookish choices – an Edmund Crispin classic crime novel (can’t go wrong with Gervase Fen), a Sacheverell Sitwell set in Russia, and a marvellous sounding book of pastiches which has already had me giggling – these humorous books are obviously putting the merry in Christmas this year!

The Offspring decided Christmas was the time for books for me (as well as some other lovely gifts) and the above was the result – “The Futurist Cookbook” was from Youngest, the Plath letters (squeeeee!) from Middle and “The Story of Art” plus the Mieville from Eldest. Very excited about these and wanting to read them all at once…. πŸ™‚

Finally, not to be left out, OH produced these treats! Yes, *another* BLCC I don’t have, a fascinating sounding book on Chekhov and a really lovely book on Surrealist art. The latter is particularly striking and has a plate of the most marvellous Magritte painting which I hadn’t seen before and I can’t stop looking at:

It’s called “The Empire of Lights” and it’s stunning and this doesn’t do it justice…

So, I have been very blessed this Christmas – thank you all my lovely gift-giving friends and family! And once I shake off this head cold I’ve also been blessed with, I really need to get reading… πŸ™‚

A very merry – and bookish! – Christmas from the Ramblings!

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Some bookish choices for seasonal reading! πŸ™‚

As usual, I’d like to send seasonal wishes to all readers of my Ramblings here – posts will probably thin out a little as I celebrate with family, but there *will* be books arriving over Yule (and some have already breached the defences on my recent birthday!)

I’ll post piccies soon, and eventually a round up of my reads of the year, but in the meantime – a very Merry Christmas to all (and to all a good night! – as Tiny Tim would say!)

A very Merry Christmas from the Ramblings!

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Just a quick post to wish you all a very merry yuletide season wherever you are! I shall be off grid for a little while, celebrating with the family, but I’ll no doubt be back soon with pictures of festive book gifts….. πŸ™‚

Festive Bookishness!

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As I’ve probably mentioned before, Christmas is usually a bookish time for me as all my friends and family know how much I loved the printed word… Plus I have a birthday quite close to Christmas so there’s often double bookishness at this time of year; and I have been particularly lucky this festive season, so without further ado here are some snaps!
patti First up a couple of treats from in-laws in the form of Patti Smith’s latest volume, M Train, plus her Collected Lyrics. As I’ve loved Smith and her work for 40 years, this is rather wonderful!

hughesNext up a birthday lovely from my brother and his family – being a huge fan of Robert Hughes, this was essential, particularly as it contains some unpublished work. Plus it’s a lovely big American hardback with rough cut pages – fab!

vam,pioreEldest Child spoiled me with a book from my wishlist, an obscure Easter European classic I read about somewhere (who knows where?) which does sound rather fascinating.

wintonMy old friend V sent me a Tim Winton book I haven’t read (and I think she’s sent me Winton before). Another one that sounds intriguing!

hunger

And my dear friend J sent me a beautiful hardback of Hamsun’s Hunger, a book I really want to read, so this has arrived at just the right time!

orwellAll three offspring gifted me George Orwell’s poetry collection which, as an Orwell completist, I was really anxious to have!

vsssAs a member of the Virago LibraryThing group I take part in their Virago Secret Santa, and I was lucky enough this year to receive two beautiful volumes from my wishlist from Cushla – very excited about these, and thank you Cushla!
beverley

My dear friend J came up with a wonderful idea for my birthday – in the form of a personalised handmade book! I had stumbled across mention of a Beverley Nichols article on his apparent relationship to Jane Austen and we were keen to track down a copy. J managed to find one in the Charing Cross Road bookshops and put together a little handmade book containing the article – here is the inside:

beverley insideNeedless to say, the article is wonderful and pure Beverley, which had me giggling madly – thank you J!

escher

OH has also been beavering away madly on the book front and came up trumps with several titles, including the lovely Escher collection above and the Groucho book below:

grouchoHe also came up trumps with some wonderful finds, in the form of E.C. Bentley:

bentley1Beautiful editions of his three ‘Trent’ detective stories (which I’ve been really keen to read for absolutely ages) and also his Complete Clerihews (a form of humorous biographical verse named after him). These are just wonderful and I was so chuffed!

bentleyPhew! What a lot of wonderful books and I’m so lucky to have family and friends that know me well! The final few photos are some bookish-related gifts – the necklace from OH and the tote bag from Middle Child, both of whom have taken on board this blog’s title and used it for personalised gifts!

bag nnecklace

bag back

necklace close up

I’ve been awfully spoiled this year, and Christmas has been a lovely end to what has been an up and down year. I hope your festivities have been lovely, and now I’m left with that eternal bookish problem – what to read next?! πŸ™‚

Christmas on the Ramblings!

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Tomorrow you’ll all no doubt be merrily opening parcels and spending time with friends or family or pets or on your own if that’s what you like! We’ll be having a family day here, and I hope to grab some time to spend with one of my favourite festive stories – “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas.

christmas wales

I have a beautiful little edition of this tale, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone, and the drawings perfectly complement the text – I highly recommend it to anyone with a love of words, pictures and Christmas. There is a wonderful recording of Thomas reading the story which you can have a look at here:

Also, one of my favourite musicians, the Welshman John Cale, wrote a magnificent song of the same title which was on “Vintage Violence”, his first proper solo album. Here’s a later rendering of it:

I hope whatever you’re doing over the festive season,Β it brings you joy; Happy Christmas from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings!

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