Ceri Shaw


 

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Category: New Titles


A Nation of Singing Birds  Ronald Rees.jpg Wales is known as ‘the land of song’ and the Welsh are renowned for their love of hymns – perhaps no other nation has sung them with such fervour. This passion is celebrated in a new comprehensive history of hymn writing and singing in Wales and amongst the Welsh diaspora in North America.  A Nation of Singing Birds: Sermon and Song in Wales and Among the Welsh in America  by Ronald Rees looks at the time between the Protestant Revivals in the late 18 th  century until the present day.

Described as “Lively, entertaining, and valuable – a real gem” by the journalist, presenter and newsreader Huw Edwards, the book considers the influences of key figures such as William Williams Pantycelyn and Ira Sankey also examines rhythmic elements in Welsh preaching.

Author, Ronald Rees, said:

“Two particular incidents led to the writing of this book. The most recent was my reading of Barbara Ehrenreich’s  Dancing in the Street . Her book is about the need, manifested throughout human history, for communal expressions of feeling – in dance, parade and song. The other incident was a combined concert and  cymanfa ganu  held at St David’s Hall, Cardiff about forty years ago. The concert performers were members of Rhondda’s peerless Pendyrus Choir, led by the late Glynne Jones. The singing was hair-raising. As the final repeated chorus died, a deeply moved Glynne Jones let the hall grow silent and said quietly and reverently: ‘This is who we are.’”

Painstakingly researched in libraries and archives in both Wales and America, and encompassing information from emigrant letters and diaries and local newspapers of the period, this definitive history tells how hymns and the religious movements and revivals spread via Welsh emigrants to religious communities of the USA. For example, it was a group of Welsh migrants to Utah, led by John Parry, who formed the nucleus of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

“To engage their audiences, Welsh preachers at home and in America often delivered their sermons with a discernible cadence or rhythm in which sound could be as important as meaning. By combining the persuasive power of the word with the emotive power of music, assemblies could be brought to states ranging from spiritual readiness to hysteria. In our own times there are echoes of the mesmerizing, cadenced style in the recorded speeches of Dr Martin Luther King and the poetry readings of Dylan Thomas. Thomas’s great-uncle, Gwilym Marles Thomas, was a Welsh Congregationalist minister.”

“My objective was to explore how hymns, and the religious movements and Revivals of which they were part, fired the Welsh imagination. The chapels may have emptied but hymns remain our tribal songs,” said Ronald Rees.

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In 2020 the people of Cwmbwrla came together in the face of an unprecedented health crisis to put smiles on each other’s faced and food on each other’s tables. Neighbours became friends, and together they showed Swansea at its best. We believe their stories are worth telling, and contributors including Brynhyfryd-born Mal Pope, local author David Brayley, MP Carolyn Harris and Councillor Peter Black agree.

Circling the Square: Cwmbwrla, Coronavirus and Community” tells the stories of individuals, families and groups whose acts of kindness and quiet courage have improved the lives of those around them, year after year. In particular, they’ve improved people’s lives this year, just when it mattered most. The book introduces readers to women and men who stocked up an emergency food resource, created art and craft packs to keep children entertained, cooked, shopped and cared for their neighbours and provided vital medical and social care no matter what the barriers or risks. It introduces readers to the best of Swansea, the best of Wales and the best of people.

We believe the people who’ve breathed life into these streets through wartime and peacetime and made their neighbours feel safe and valued throughout the coronavirus crisis have made their own history.”

Royalties will be reinvested in the community that inspired the book, with all revenue going to Cwmbwrla Community Events , a nonprofit group that funds entertainment and sports activity for children and adults across Cwmbwrla, Manselton, Brynhyfryd, Gendros and Landore.

Circling the Square: Cwmbwrla, Coronavirus and Community” is available in paperback ($7.95) and ebook ($3.99) from Amazon and also at a discounted rate from selected local retailers. Be a part of the Welsh community success story of 2020 and buy this book.

BUY IT HERE -

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Circling-Square-Cwmbwrla-Coronavirus-Community/dp/B08NDXBFTC

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Central Russia, 1919, a sanatorium cut off by the chaos of the Russian civil war. The murder of the chief doctor sets in motion a nightmarish series of events involving mysterious experiments, the secret police, the Tsar’s double, an enigmatic ‘visitor’, giant corpses, possessed cats, sorcery, and the overwhelming madness of war, in this fantastical and wildly exuberant historical novel. BUY HERE

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                                                                Commendations

A bold and confident n ovel that throws us into the deep end of post-revolutionary Russian life with fervour and wit. There are knowing  no ds to Gogol and Bulgakov but the voice is entirely original, with a gem of a phrase on every page. I love the quizzical, querulous, dry voice and it’s a satisfying whilst sometimes disorientating experience... the characters are larger than life, but the mud is real. Alan Bilton has a real talent for the unexpected l eft-ha nd turn, with lines that turn on a sixpence and surreal narrative twists. It reads like a very modern translation   of a 19th century Russian classic – if that sounds like your kind of thing, you will lov e this book.

Mark Blayney

A brutal, but often witty and tender tale, The End of the Yellow House is a twistedly brilliant emotional
rollercoaster. In experiencing its expansive vistas and claustrophobic tunnels, we learn to distrust the vibrant characters here, as well as the very landscape which they inhabit. A delicious mystery on every page –

David Towsey




Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Magic Realism, Surrealism.


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This is Dave's twenty-first book and fourth novel.  A gritty ‘Cymru noir’ thriller set in various locations around south Wales and the UK.  The book is available as a paperback as well as an e-book and can be found on Amazon and in all good book shops…

Synopsis

An authentic British road trip and old-fashioned love story.

A violent but compelling tale of grim landscapes and dark morality.

Paul Thorne is no angel.  A hard man with a troubled past, his mistake was to fall for the wrong girl.  When he said yes to love, he opened the door to death.

A tragic accident finds him running for his life from a vicious London crime boss.  He seeks sanctuary in a sleepy, Welsh seaside town but instead of solace, he finds jealousy and betrayal.

A brutal journey through the underbelly of 80s and 90s Britain.  Violent and sad.  Powerful, beautiful prose lingers like a bruise, haunting the mind, long after the last page is read.



This book can be purchased as a  paperback or as an  e-book  on Amazon kindle.


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Dyma ddetholiad o straeon gan unigolion sydd wedi tystio i'r twf mewn cefnogaeth i annibyniaeth, boed hynny yn sgil Ewro 2016, refferendwm Brexit neu'r penderfyniad yn nyddiau'r Coronafeirws mai annibyniaeth i Gymru yw'r unig ffordd ymlaen.

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Here is a selection of stories from individuals who have witnessed the growth in support for independence whether in the weeks of Euro 2016, the Brexit referendum or the decision in the days of the Coronavirus that independence for Wales is the only way forward.


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Ar gael yn  www.ylolfa.com  a thrwy eich siop lyfrau leol am £7.99 yn unig & chludiant

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Available in  www.ylolfa.com  and through your local bookshop for only £7.99 & carriage
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South Wales’ coal industry is world famous, and north Wales’ slate industry is recognised thanks to the Slate Museum in Llanberis as well as numerous publications celebrating its history. But what about the lost ore industry in mid Wales? Ioan Lord, author of a new bilingual book on the subject,  Worn by Tools and Time: Ore from Mid Wales  (Y Lolfa), hopes to bring attention to the history and the importance of the industry and its workers through his descriptive text and brand-new photographs of the underground world created centuries ago.  

“The fact that such a small number of people – both local and nationally – are aware of the ore industry in mid Wales is one of the main reasons behind the book,” said Ioan Lord. “I hope that this will lead to more sites being safeguarded and protected. So many have been destroyed and landscaped over the years, it is important to try and save the remains that still exist. After all, they are monuments to hundreds of men, women and children who laboured in these places up to 4,000 years ago and continuing to destroy the remains is an affront to their memory and lives.”  

Worn by Tools and Time: Ore from Mid Wales  chronicles briefly the history of the ore industry in mid Wales and its role in Britain’s metal industry. The history of the industry, the people, the society and work conditions are told through photographs as well as archival and modern diagrams. The book contains stunning underground scenes which have not been seen before, with artefacts, tools and original material also recorded.  

“Whilst researching I had the most incredible experience. I read the memoir of one of mid Wales’ last miners, which was recorded on tape in the 1970s. Following this, my friends and I went to try and find his old work site, as he had mentioned the details on the tape. We managed to dig through a large collapse at the entrance to gain access, the first time that anyone had been there for over a century. All the tools were still there; hats, shoes, tobacco pipes, a lunch box, and even their footprints in the mud on the floor. Linking these things with the old miner was thrilling”, said Ioan about his work.  

Ioan believes that the reason that the history has been largely forgotten is due to a combination of it coming to an end more than a century ago (1870s –1910s) and the fact that the population who worked in the industry was relatively small.  

“When the ore sites closed, the majority moved to work in the coal mines in south Wales. But when the coal mines closed, as well as being more recent and as a result the population was a lot larger, there wasn’t any work for the workers to move to. The result was that the ore industry in mid Wales was forgotten. Before the Industrial Revolution the mid Wales ore industry was well-known over Britain. This was one of the first industries to close because of cheap imports from abroad, but because it was surrounded by bigger industries which were still succeeding (coal, slate) it slipped quietly away.”  

This is the first book to include such a wide variety of new underground photographs, which record all the ‘newly discovered’ sites that have not been seen for over a century. Many of the underground photographs in this book were taken after weeks of careful digging and searching, in order to gain access to these time capsules, where tools were left where they were by the people in the previous age, and not a soul has seen the items since they were left.  

Ioan Lord was brought up in Cwm Rheidol, near Aberystwyth, which is located in the middle of an old ore site in mid Wales. His interest developed from a young age, as he explored the area and saw the old ruins of the ore industry. Ioan Lord is now studying for a Doctorate at Cardiff University in the Welsh History and Archaeology Department. He is Director of the Welsh Mines Preservation Trust and the Cambria Mines Trust. He lives in Cwm Rheidol.  

Worn by Tools and Time: Ore from Mid Wales   by Ioan Lord (£14.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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Popular illustrator and artist Valériane Leblond has written her first book for children, as well as painting the images that bring the story to life.  The Quilt  (Y Lolfa) is a beautifully illustrated hardback offering a message of hope which is sure to also strike a chord with many adult readers in these difficult days: when things look bleak, remember that happy times will return. 

The story follows a little girl who lives with her parents on a farm near the coast, around the turn of the twentieth century. Times are hard and the family decides to emigrate to America, raising the fare by selling all of their possessions except for a black and red quilt lovingly hand-made by the mother. The little girl feels homesick and sad at times, but the memories of love and home contained in the quilt help her overcome this and adapt to her new life. 

“I’ve been interested in quilts and quilting since I was a teenager, when my mother made me a quilt. Since moving to Wales, I’ve painted and read a lot about the craft of Welsh quilting, which is unique,” said Valériane. Traditionally, Welsh quilts are of a simple patchwork design, with more emphasis on the stiches and thread patterns. “The most interesting fact for me is that these quilts were made when opportunities for women to work and earn were very limited. Also, if you look closely, it’s much more than a craft – it’s an abstract fine art!” 

Praise for  The Quilt :

“[Valériane Leblond’s] first book as author and illustrator is a glorious production which conveys a message of hope... I loved the muted palette and Leblond’s portrayals of Wales, Liverpool and the New World.” Caroline Sanderson,  The Bookseller  

Valériane Leblond is a French author, illustrator and artist. Books illustrated by her were shortlisted or won the prestigious Tir na n-Og children’s book award for five years running from 2015. She now lives in an old farmhouse near Aberystwyth with her sons, several cats and too many chickens.  

Suitable for children between 4 and 8 years old. 

The Quilt  by  Valériane Leblond   (£5.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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Geoff Charles: Wales & The Borders


By Ceri Shaw, 2019-11-13

wales_and_the_borders.jpg A new book chronicling the life and work of celebrated Welsh photojournalist Geoff Charles (1909-2002), who captured a unique record of twentieth-century life in Wales and the Borders with his extraordinary photography. It includes 120 photographs and a biography written by a journalist colleague who knew him well. These stunning black-and-white images include the Gresford mining disaster of 1934, the effect of the Second World War on rural Montgomeryshire and the controversial flooding of the Tryweryn valley to provide water for Liverpool. They record profound social changes in rural and industrial communities, epitomising the words of famous French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”

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dafyddapgwilym.png To his friends in the 14 th century Dafydd ap Gwilym was paun cerdd, eos Dyfed, and penceirddwalch ‘the peacock of poetry’, ‘the nightingale of Dyfed’, and ‘the hawk of chief poets’. More than 650 years later he is still considered by many to be the finest Welsh poet ever. He is a delightful, at times hilarious, poet who explores the emotional complexities of love, especially unrequited love, with a self-mocking style that teaches us more than he seems, at first, to be saying. To say he loved nature is an understatement. He loved the world in all kinds of weather, which he also loved to complain about. He loved birds and trees and rivers. He loved the golden-haired Morfudd, perhaps for years even after she was married. He loved black- haired Dyddgu even though she seems to have been above his station in life. He loved to flirt with noble women and barmaids alike. And he continues to articulate for us the ubiquitous joys, doubts, and pains of love that most of us secretly harbor within ourselves.

This book includes the Welsh texts of 35 poems, accompanied by facing translations into English, an introduction in both Welsh and English, with explanatory notes, an afterword about Dafydd, and a brief introduction to Welsh metrics. The book is sumptuously illustrated by Anthony Griffiths with 70 evocative photographs of places that Dafydd himself knew and loved.

from the Preface by Dafydd Johnston, Director of the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies:

“As one who has spent his academic career working on the poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym, it is a rare pleasure for me to come across an entirely new way of looking at the subject, but I must say that this book has indeed made me see the poems with fresh eyes.... This collection provides a splendid introduction to the poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym.”




Copies are available in bookstores in Wales and from the publisher, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, at

https://carreg-gwalch.cymru/ .

In the US, signed copies are available from the author at

https://sites.google.com/site/themabinogi/home


Also by Bollard and Griffiths

The Mabinogi: Legend and Landscape of Wales (Gomer Press, 2006)

Companion Tales to The Mabinogi (Gomer Press, 2007)

Tales of Arthur (Gomer Press, 2010)

Englynion y Beddau / The Stanzas of the Graves (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2015)

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unnamed (1).jpg The author of an unusual new handy pocket-sized phrasebook is hoping to use humour to inspire people to learn a few basic bits of Japanese in readiness for the Rugby World Cup, which will be held in Japan in September 2019. Unlike many traditional phrasebooks, Teach your Dog Japanese Rugby World Cup 2019 Travel Edition  (Y Lolfa) shows that learning useful expressions doesn’t have to be boring or daunting, and makes picking up a few basics accessible to everyone. 

Every phrase is shown in both  romaji  (Japanese  words spelt out using our alphabet) and English, accompanied by appealing 1950s-style retro illustrations as well as help with the Japanese pronunciation. There are over 70 expressions to practise, from rugby-themed phrases such as  Sukoa-wa nan-ten desu-ka?  (‘What’s the score?’) to general tourist-themed phrases such as  Eigo-no menyū arimasu-ka?  (‘Do you have an English menu?’). It’s an excellent and really fun introduction to learning Japanese for all ages, and will help visitors to Japan with talking about the World Cup as well as with typical tourist activities such as finding your way around and travelling by train. 

Nigel Botherway, well-known rugby writer for the Sunday Times called it “a brilliant Japanese phrase book for rugby fans - and dog lovers!” 

The book is part of a series designed to help you learn a language while engaging with your favourite pet, and was inspired by illustrator Anne Cakebread’s bestseller  Teach Your Dog Welsh  (Y Lolfa, 2018). 

“The popularity of the series has been amazing! I was thrilled when  Teach Your Dog Welsh  was reprinted for the first time – but I’m amazed that it’s been reprinted three more times since! Hopefully this book will encourage rugby fans to learn a little bit of basic Japanese!” said Anne Cakebread. 

The inspiration for the original book came to Anne after she re-homed Frieda, a rescue whippet. Anne came to realise that Frieda didn’t understand English and would only respond to Welsh commands. Slowly, whilst dealing with Frieda, Anne realised that she was overcoming her nerves about speaking Welsh aloud by talking to the dog, and her Welsh was improving as a result – this gave her the idea of creating a book to help other would-be language learners whilst also using her skills as an illustrator. 

Summoning up the confidence to use a language you’re learning can be intimidating at first. A number of books are available to help with vocabulary and pronunciation, but the light-hearted context and the beautiful illustrations mean that this book is a bit out of the ordinary. It will especially appeal to people who haven’t had much success with languages in the past. 

Carolyn Hodges, Head of English Publishing at Y Lolfa, who developed market-leading language-teaching materials for Oxford University Press for many years, said: “One of the key factors in motivating someone to start learning and using a new language is to make it enjoyable.” 

Anne Cakebread is a freelance illustrator whose work was used in  Rugby World  for over 15 years. She grew up and went to school in Cardiff and now lives with her partner, two whippets and lurcher in St Dogmaels, Wales, where they run the Oriel Milgi boutique B&B. Anne also runs Canfas, an art gallery in nearby Cardigan. 

Teach your Dog Japanese Rugby World Cup 2019 Travel Edition  by   Anne Cakebread (£5.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.



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