Ceri Shaw



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Category: New Titles


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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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…


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.


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.


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


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


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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unnamed.jpg This week sees the publication of In Passing: A Welshman’s bizarre adventures from Merthyr to Mecca  by distinguished Welsh academic, Professor Randall Baker.  

The unusual collection of offbeat anecdotes are a collection of just some of the strange incidents which have happened to him over a period of 65 years, and over several continents:

“ I am lucky to have done an awful lot of travelling, including with the Spanish Foreign Legion in the colony of Spanish Sahara, being surprised by several nasty earthquakes, and being in East Germany as they built the wall, but my stories are in the shadow of the world affairs rather than dealing with them directly,” says Randall Baker.  

The incidents recorded in  In Passing  are all true stories from his own life, starting from when he was a pupil at Abermorlais Junior School in Merthyr. Over the years, he started to realize that the number of odd events that happened to him was unusual. Speaking of the realization, Randall said:

“Throughout my life, when I discussed something that had just happened to me, inevitably I was greeted by cries of “Oh, come  on ” and the like. Eventually, my wife started to preface them with “Here comes another of Randall’s stories” . The hard thing for me was that I was just recounting something that had really just  happened . Eventually I realised that life is not like this for everyone and so for posterity, I decided to put all the most interesting or amusing events together, starting with post-war Wales and moving on to New Zealand, Fiji, Mecca, and other places far from Merthyr. As a scientist I do require rugged standards of proof, but what do you do when the incident happened to you and you have absolutely no way of explaining it!”  

He credits his childhood in Merthyr as ‘a good training ground’, enabling him to go out and face some of the wilder corners of the world.  

“Merthyr’s history in the iron and steel industry and the buying of ore and selling metal brought Merthyr into the world – in a way that’s hard to imagine today. Merthyr manufactured cannons for Nelson, and built almost every railroad in South America. It’s hard to imagine this world leadership as you stroll around Merthyr these days, but it’s not like any other place in Wales,” says the author of his hometown.  

Crimebusting soothsayers, a homicidal optometrist, men who fall off trains or into open graves, a ridiculously over-attentive waitress, an abandoned stripper and a fellow traveller whose huge suitcase is packed solely with alcohol are just a few of the colourful characters populating this engaging book, The stories get more and more inexplicable, though all are true! He comes across coffee with strange properties, gets caught in the crossfire in the OK Corral of English tearooms, locates lost property through the power of suggestion, meets royalty and rebels, and POSSIBLY steps back in time into 1944 New Zealand. Holding all of this together is an infectious sense of Welsh humour, especially in handling the unexpected!

Randall Baker is a distinguished Welsh academic who has studied and taught in universities all around the world. He co-founded the School of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia, and has acted as an advisor to UNESCO, the Fijian Government, the Prince of Mecca, the Sultan of Brunei, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, The British Foreign Ministry and Crown Agents, UNEP, and the US State Department. He has published extensively on both academic and non-academic subjects. He now spends half the year in Bulgaria and the other half in Newbridge-on-Wye in Wales.  

In Passing: A Welshman’s bizarre adventures from Merthyr to Mecca w ill be launched at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth at 1pm on Thursday 19 th  of September. Seats can be reserved at  www.library.wales  or turn up on the day. Dr Brinley Jones will host the session.  

In Passing: A Welshman’s bizarre adventure from Merthyr to Mecca  by Randall Baker (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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in the vale.jpg A new novel by Welsh author Sam Adams was inspired by a family Bible. The novel called  In the Vale , published by Y Lolfa, is a family saga that takes the reader from London to the Vale of Glamorgan and outwards into the social ferment and bloody turmoil of the Napoleonic era. It was inspired by the Williams family, who lived in the Vale of Glamorgan. George Williams, Rector of Llantrithyd was the Bible’s original owner, and used it to record the births and deaths of his and his wife Sarah’s children. Sam Adams received the Bible, which has been passed down from father to son since his great-great-great grandfather’s time, from a cousin.  

Author Sam Adams said:

“To be in possession of only half a story is frustrating – you want to know the whole thing!

George was an impoverished curate when he married, and was gifted the rectory, the land and income that went with it as a result of the marriage, which (very oddly) was announced in the  Gentleman's Magazine  in London. There the bride’s address was listed as 'Ash Hall, Ystradowen', the home of Richard Aubrey, youngest son of Sir Thomas Aubrey of Llantrithyd Place.

How did this union come about? Why isn't the name of their first child, George, recorded in the Family Bible? These were among the earliest puzzles that tormented me.”  

This led to much research in libraries and on-line searches for any information linked with George Williams and his family. Successes included the discovery in a library at Saint Fagans of a diary kept by John Perkins, a gentleman farmer of Llantrithyd – and a friend of the Reverend George Williams.  

“The story of the Williams family was unfolding during one of the most turbulent periods in European history – the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The strife and suffering caused by conflict affected everyone, at home and overseas: military action, disease, a bad economy. These were the realties of the time. While in a familial context, George and Sarah’s first son, also named George, died in infancy due to being vaccinated against smallpox,” says Sam Adams.

“I have tried to recapture, through choice of vocabulary and cadence of expression in dialogue, narrative and description, the tone of the period, while seeking to fill imaginatively the many gaps in a story of real people against a background of bloody turmoil.”  

Sam Adams has been involved in Welsh writing in English since the late 1960s. He is a former editor of  Poetry Wales  and former chairman of the English-language section of Yr Academi Gymreig. His scholarly writing includes editions of the  Collected Poems  and  Collected Short Stories  of Roland Mathias, and three monographs in the Writers of Wales series, the latest on  Thomas Jeffery Llewelyn Prichard , who is also the subject of several articles published in the  Journal of Welsh Writing in English . He has contributed poems and well over a hundred ‘Letters from Wales’ to the Carcanet Press magazine  PN Review . His work from Y Lolfa includes, in addition to  Prichard’s Nose , a collection of poetry and  Where the Stream Ran Red , a delightful and moving history of his family and of Gilfach Goch, the mining valley where he was born and brought up.   

In the Vale  by Sam Adams (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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