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Category: New Titles


na_nel_un_tro.jpgThe Welsh Books Council is delighted to confirm that a special book to celebrate World Book Day is to be published for the first time ever in Welsh.

Na, Nel! Un Tro by Meleri Wyn James, illustrated by John Lund, will be published by Y Lolfa in time for World Book Day celebrations on 1 March 2018. The book will be part of the official World Book Day activities in Wales, which is supported by the Welsh Government and Waterstones. This will be the first time that a Welsh-language book has been included in the range of special £1 books that are published annually as part of the UK-wide campaign.

Angharad Sinclair, Reading Promotions Project Manager for the Welsh Books Council, said, 'It’s such a pleasure to include a Welsh-language book for the first time for World Book Day. I’m sure children across Wales will enjoy reading about Nel’s next adventure! The Na Nel! series is extremely popular and proves that original series can hold their own and sell really well.'

Garmon Gruffudd, Managing Director of Y Lolfa, said, 'We’re delighted to be part of this pioneering scheme. Nel is well established as one of Wales’s most popular characters and we hope that this will be a further boost to the series.'

The book will follow the adventures of Nel, the mischievous girl who appears in the popular Na, Nel! series. It will capture the fun and playfulness of the stories and encourage children to go on to read the other books in the series. In the new book, Nel will cast herself in the middle of the story once again and show how mischief follows her, wherever she goes

'I’ve loved reading and writing since I was a child, and now I love reading with my own children and sharing the Na, Nel! stories with young readers all over Wales. It’s an honour that Nel’s original adventures have been chosen as the first Welsh-language book to be part of World Book Day this year' said author Meleri Wyn James, 'I hope that children will seize the opportunity to buy Nel’s latest adventure for a £1, and that it will encourage them to read more of Nel’s stories and to dip into the wealth of Welsh books which are available to children today.'

Meleri Wyn James is an experienced author and editor and has published over 25 books for children, young people and adults. Since 2014 she has been responsible for creating a number of adventures for Nel, the mischievous little girl.

World Book Day was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and is marked in over 100 countries around the globe. World Book Day is a partnership of publishers, booksellers and interested parties who work together to promote books and reading for the personal enrichment and enjoyment of all. A main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.

In Wales, the campaign is coordinated by the Welsh Books Council and supported by the Welsh Government and Waterstones.

Additionally, a brand new production by Theatr Arad Goch, which is a stage adaptation of the popular books by Meleri Wyn James, will visit theatres around Wales during the summer of 2018. Na, Nel! Wwww! travels to 17 theatres across Wales between May and July with a new, original story by the author, bringing the popular characters alive on stage for the first time.

A new colourful activity book will be published to coincide with the show, Na Nel!: Waw!, which will encourage children to use their imagination and is full of Nel’s usual fun and laughter.

Na, Nel! Un tro... by Meleri Wyn James (£1, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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geiriau_cyntaf cyw.jpgAn original Welsh language children’s book has been selected for an exciting Welsh Government initiative to promote literacy in the most deprived areas of Wales.

Geiriau Cyntaf Cyw by Helen Davies (Y Lolfa) was chosen as the successful book after the Welsh Books Council was asked to be part of the tendering process to supply 10,000 copies of a Welsh title as part of the Flying Start programme.

Flying Start is part of the Welsh Government’s early years programme for families with children under four years of age living in disadvantaged areas of Wales. As well as providing childcare, an enhanced health visiting service and access to parenting programmes, it also provides parents with support in regards to speech, language and communication.

Evidence shows that speech, language and communication ability is an important predictor of later progress in literacy and has an impact on social skills as well as behaviour of children.

The successful title had to be a Welsh language picture book for pre-school children - preferably with a Welsh theme.

Geiriau Cyntaf Cyw (Cyw’s First Words) is a colourful picture-word book presenting a simple vocabulary in various locations such as the garden, farm and seaside. It was originall published in cooperation with S4C and Boom Pictures Cymru. It is suitable for children who are attending nursery or for young children aged between 3 and 5 years old.

‘The Lolfa is very proud that Flying Start has chosen one of the Cyw books for the scheme,’ said Garmon Gruffudd, managing director of Y Lolfa, ‘I hope, as a result, that parents will find more of the great original books that are available to children in Welsh.’

I am delighted that this book, which has received Welsh Government support via the Welsh Books Council's grant scheme, was chosen for Flying Start’ added Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council, ‘It will give children and parents living in Wales access to an authentic Welsh book originated entirely in Wales and hopefully contribute to lifelong enjoyment of reading.’

Copies will be distributed around Wales as part of the scheme by the beginning of February.

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mellten.jpgWelsh comic Mellten is looking for the next generation of cartoonists by giving young children the chance to create their own cartoon character or cartoon strip in a big competition that is launched this week. As part of the 2018 World Book Day celebrations , the Welsh Books Council are running a competition with Mellten – a quarterly Welsh-language comic for children, bringing together stories, jokes, puzzles and competitions.

The prize for the winning entry will be an original piece of artwork by Mellten creator, Huw Aaron and a Family Ticket to Hay Festival 2018. The strip will also feature in the next issue of the comic! There is also a prize available for the winning school – a workshop with Huw Aaron himself.

The competition is open to all and you competitors can choose to complete the Capten Clonc cartoon strip included in the seventh issue of Mellten or create a totally new character or cartoon.

The competition closes on the 31st of March and the names of the winners will be announced in April. Competitors are asked to send their work to cllc.plant@books.wales or through the post to – “Mellten Competition” , Welsh Books Council, Castell Brychan, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 2JB.

‘'We are delighted to be working with Mellten and y Lolfa on this competition and give the children and young people of Wales the chance to get their imagination going by creating a new cartoon character or strip,’ said Angharad Wyn Sinclair, Reading Promotions Project Manager, ‘What better way to celebrate World Book Day this year than by reading the latest issue of Mellten and trying out in this competition? We look forward to seeing the various creations!’

‘The seventh issue is a great example of encouraging children to create and use their imaginations,’ says Huw Aaron, ‘We at Mellten are very eager to help and develop children’s creative talent. I myself especially want to see the next generation of cartoonists creating their own comics in the future.’

‘The creative talent is certainly there but children need the opportunity to showcase their talents’ he added.

In the pages of the seventh issue Gwil Garw discovers himself in a bit of trouble, Bloben discovers its affection for Cyw and Iola is preparing to race at the Space Rally competition.

There will be more stories from the shadows as the storyteller tells the story of Pontarfynach’s mysterious bridgge, the Allwedd Amser mystery will continue while poor Boc is missing on the farm and the animals are all on the run.

Aimed at children between 7 and 13, Mellten is the first original Welsh language comic in decades. The next issue will appear in March. Individual issues are available or it is possible to subscribe for £8 a year via the website, schools or local bookshops.

The seventh issue of Mellten (£2, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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cinemas of west wales.jpgThe secret history of the forgotten cinemas of west Wales has been rediscovered this week. Most of the cinema and picture houses of west Wales – from Barmouth in Gwynedd to Llanelli in Carmarthenshire – have long since disappeared, been demolished or converted to other uses. The Cinemas of West Wales by Alan Phillips records where they were, gives descriptions of their interiors and programmes, and includes over a hundred photographs of what they looked like then, and now.

In Wales construction of most cinemas took place in 1910 and 1911, although a number of buildings had been converted into cinemas before that.

‘In days gone by a weekly visit to the “flicks” was as common as watching the television is today. It was an adventure and one of the few modes of entertainment available,’ said author Alan Phillips, ‘It was a chance to step back in time or to the future, a chance to forget daily toils and, for an hour or two, be transported to a make-believe world’.

Wales had its own film pioneers, such as John Codman, son of the Llandudno pier Punch and Judy man, who travelled throughout north Wales with his magic lantern living picture show. Then there was Arthur Cheetham who filmed day-to-day scenes throughout the country for the purpose of showing them at venues across most of Wales. He eventually settled in Rhyl and in 1906 established the Silvograph Animated Pictures - the first permanent cinema in Wales.

But, by the 1960s the advent of television and increased running costs caused cinema attendances to decline and several went into financial difficulty.

‘Times have changed now,’ added Alan, ‘Some cinemas or theatres were converted into bingo halls or were used for other uses, such as supermarkets, or eventually demolished. Today several cinemas have been taken over by J.D. Wetherspoon pubs, and they have retained the décor to give us a glimpse of their former glory days’.

There are still some independent cinemas left in Wales, mostly run by local authorities with the help of volunteers. Over the years the Welsh Government has supported the venues with grants from the European Development Fund which have enabled the cinemas to invest in modern equipment such as digital projectors.

As well as being a former cinema projectionist himself, Alan notes that his motivation behind the book were ‘more than anything seeing the number of cinemas that have closed throughout Wales since the 1960s’.

Alan Phillips studied history at University College of Wales, Swansea, before joining the RAF. He worked as a cinema projectionist with the Kinema Corporation and later with the Ministry of Defence.

The Cinemas of West Wales by Alan Phillips (£6.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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iolo morganwg.jpgAn author who moved to the Vale of Glamorgan has been inspired by the story of Iolo Morganwg so much that he wrote a novel about him.

Gareth Thomas moved to the Vale of Glamorgan six years ago following a career in England as an actor, teacher and director.

Like many others he had heard of Iolo Morganwg but knew little of his story or significance.

His imagination was fired by the attention given to ‘Old Iolo’ in the National Eisteddfod in Llandow and visits to the places in the Vale associated with the bard such as his memorial in the church in Flemingston, the Samson Pillar in Llantwit Major, St Mary Church where he was married, the examples of his work as a mason that can be seen across the Vale and Cowbridge and The Bear Hotel where Iolo performed much of his seditious verses and delivered passionate speeches on political issues.

‘The more I learnt, the more I marvelled at his story’ said Gareth Thomas, ‘It’s a tale that needs to be told.’

But Iolo proved to be an enigma. There were differing opinions amongst his friends on the subject of Iolo - some of whom admired him as a hero who helped form the national identity of Wales and others who saw him as a cheat and con-man. Having read the research of Gwyneth Lewis, Geraint Jenkins, Mary-Ann Constantine and others, Gareth came to the conclusion that here was a story with real contemporary significance.

The result is  Myfi Iolo, a new Welsh language historical novel which recounts Iolo’s true story which is published this week.

The novel is set at the end of the 18th century where Iolo is a young man with a host of talents and limitless energy. He is full of anger against the injustice he sees and is committed to the cause of freedom in Europe.

‘Iolo’s story has every element you would wish for in an historical novel: adventure, mystery, love, revolution, violence, drugs, passion, spies and betrayal’ said Gareth.

The scene moves from Cowbride to the grand drawing rooms of Mayfair, from Gorsedd ceremonies on inhospitable hillsides to the luxurious bordellos of Covent Garden, from his cottage in Flemingston to a hearing before the Privy Council in Downing Street.

‘Here was a man who inspired friendship but turned friends into enemies. Here was an incredibly talented man who ultimately failed to win a livelihood in any field.’ said Gareth, ‘Was Iolo a conscious trickster – or was he inspired by a bigger vision?’

The novel has already recieved substantial praise by the author Dr Mary-Ann Constantine calling it ‘a fasincating novel about a fasinating person’.

The novel will be launched in the Georgian ballroom in the Bear Hotel in Cowbridge on November 23 at 7pm.

‘It was in The Bear hotel in Cowbridge that Iolo Morganwg performed his poetry and spoke passionately about politics. So there’s no better place to launch the novel!’ added Gareth.

The launch will be led by Carys Whelen who will be interviewing the author and there will be readings from actors Eiry Palfrey (Gwaith/Cartref, Dinas) as ‘Peggy’ and Danny Grehan (Harri Tudur, Casualty) as Iolo Morganwg.

Gareth Thomas was born to parents from Cwm Rhondda and studied drama in the Barry and London. He worked in England as an actor, teacher and director before learning Welsh aged fifty. His first novel, A Welsh Dawn, was published in 2014. He currently lives in Cowbridge.

Myfi, Iolo by Gareth Thomas (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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CELEBRATING THE BEST OF WELSH MYTHOLOGY


By AmeriCymru, 2017-10-31

colouring welsh tales.jpgWith this year designated the Year of Legends in Wales, an artist has gone on to celebrate the best of Welsh mythology by publishing a sequel to her bestselling colouring book.

Lliwio’r Chwedlau / Colouring Welsh Tales by artist Dawn Williams published this week includes 21 beautiful pictures of scenes from popular Welsh folk tales to colour in, including Gelert, Pwyll Pendefi g Dyfed, Branwen and Llyn y Fan Fach.

The book is a follow-up to the incredibly popular Lliwio Cymru / Colouring Wales, the first Welsh colouring book for adults published last year which sold over a thousand copies in its first run.

‘Following the success of Colouring Wales we thought it would be an ideal time to publish a colouring book depicting scenes from some of Wales’s most popular folk tales and well-known legends’ said Meinir Edwards, an editor at Y Lolfa publishers.

‘The book contains some beautiful, exciting and dramatic scenes from the ancient Mabinogion, Britain’s earliest prose tales. Stories such as Blodeuwedd and Culhwch and Olwen were compiled in Middle Welsh in the 12th–13th centuries from earlier oral traditions’ said Meinir, ‘The book also includes some historical figures such as Dwynwen, the patron saint of lovers, and the Red Bandits of Mawddwy, plus favourite childhood stories such as Twm Siôn Cati and The Lady of the Lake. The stories are our heritage, and they fire the imagination.’

‘I’m so glad to have been given the opportunity to create a second Welsh colouring book based on the best of our mythology,’ said Dawn, ‘Welsh mythology is an integral part of our culture and history as the people of Wales and has formed the backbone of our literature. I hope this book will be a different way to tell these stories – and encourage people to relax as well.’

According to the Mental Health Foundation 59% of adults in Britain say they are under more stressed today than they were five years ago. Although colouring is an activity for children it is now being used as a form of alternative theraphy to help adults relieve stress and anxiety.

The professional artist Dawn Williams was born in Bangor and raised in Ynys Môn. She now lives in Llanrug and is married with three sons.

Lliwio’r Chwedlau / Colouring Welsh Tales by Dawn Williams (£4.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

dawn williams.jpg

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wynne melville jones.gif

A well known Welsh artist has accused the art scene of being ‘too elitist’.

The famous artist, Wynne Melville Jones, said that ‘art needs to be for everyone and not just for a select few who are financially privileged’.

‘Too often public galleries and private business concentrate more on people who are wealthy’ said Wynne, ‘But I strongly believe art should be a medium that enriches everybody’s life’.

His comments follows the publishing of Darluniau o Gymru / Paintings of Wales this week.

This striking bilingual book shares some of Wynne Melville Jones’s most well-known paintings, as well as telling the story behind the pictures.

Best known for his images of west Wales, the artist now paints landscapes from all over the country and some of his works have created interest far beyond. His painting of Soar-y-Mynydd chapel is owned by former US president Jimmy Carter, and his picture of ‘Elvis Rock’ at Eisteddfa Gurig, Ceredigion, is now on display in Graceland Tennessee.

Most recently his painting of Pantycelyn went on a tour around Wales including visiting the Senedd in Cardiff, as a response to the lack of celebration and recognition for influential national figure Williams Pantycelyn, three hundred years after his death.

The book was launched last Saturday at an exhibition of some of the works featured in the book at Oriel Rhiannon, Tregaron in the company of Ben Lake MP and Sulwyn Thomas with Bois y Fro and Merched Soar performing

‘I sincerely hope the paintings in this volume will appeal to a variety of people and that it will bring fine art to a new audience’ said Wynne,

‘Many of my paintings include Welsh iconography. This is where I’m from and I feel pride in my Welshness, my heritage, and my language and culture. I feel passion and responsibility for all things Welsh’ added Wynne.

‘These paintings will enrich your lives – enjoy the book, the feast awaits you.’ Added David Meredith, Chairman of The Sir Kyffin Williams Trust.

‘Painting brings me great pleasure. I hope I can share this pleasure with others – that is all I need’ said Wynne.

Best known for his pioneering work in bilingual communications Wynne Melville Jones (Wyn Mel) is a former art student, who has rediscovered his zest for painting and is establishing himself as one of the most prolific artists in Wales.

Darluniau o Gymru / Paintings of Wales by Wynne Melville Jones (£12.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

paintings of wales.jpg

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Welsh Cowboys - 'All Through The Night'


By AmeriCymru, 2017-10-05

all through the night neil thomas.jpg



ORDER HERE

Essentially, this novel, set at the end of the eighteenth century, shows that cowboys were as much invented in Wales as in Wyoming.

Running through this Welsh Western, with its personalities, adventure and incidents, the storyline has the strong cultural, emotional and human elements that make Westerns so appealing – by exploring how people act in the drama of their own lives.

Written very much in the style of an old-fashioned Western, this tale of Welsh drovers taking a large herd of cattle from the 'wild west' of North Wales to London in the 1790s stakes a claim for these interesting characters to be the first cowboys. What happens in Westerns happened here to drovers on their cattle drive.

Engaging the reader with its authentic period feel and rich in excitement, All Through the Night tells the rights-of-passage tale of a young man seeking to escape his background. Relations between the drovers and the good and bad people they encounter on their cattle drive make for a lively and emotional tale.

Combining romance and the romantic appeal of life in the saddle with the struggle to ensure that relationships and families survive against all the odds, this book has all the ingredients needed for a satisfying tale of strong individuals being tried and tested on life's journey.

At heart, it is about loss, which is, perhaps, the basic story arc of all our lives; losing people, losing cultural heritage, losing our innocence - all in the relentless unfolding of our life's experiences.

AUTHOR

Neil Thomas was born in Wales and, in his mind at least, is never far from it. In All Through the Night, his first work of fiction, he has taken delight in trying to demonstrate that we should not think that Americans have the monopoly over the Wild West, cowboys, trailhands, rawhide and cattle drives.

MARKET

The book is for all readers of general historical fiction who will enjoy its quirky, original angle – that everything we have come to expect from a good Western happened in Britain, only many years before. The salute to the cultural heritage of Wales will add a regional appeal to its wider national and international appeal.



A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

A Welsh Western?

You might think it too eccentric, but is it?

A new novel (All Through the Night) published by Thorogood on the 30th September has the following idea as its ‘elevator pitch’ (to use the jargon of the film world): that cowboys were invented as much in Wales as in Wyoming.

How so? Well drovers took large herds of cattle across country from Wales to London and it is easy to develop the notion that everything that happens in Westerns could have happened to them.

The book is set in the 1790s and the story revolves around the ‘cowboyos’ who take one particular cattle drive from Anglesey to London, crossing the Menai Strait (ok, so it’s not the Rio Grande, but…) and finishing by selling the herd to Smithfield dealers.

But, it is really a novel about the characters of the drovers themselves, of those they leave behind and meet on the way, of the adventures and adversities they face and how the experiences they have shape their lives.

All the ingredients of a classic western, in other words, but featuring the culture and personalities of the Wild Welsh rather than the Wild West.

Neil Thomas

October 2017

“It’s the best Welsh Western ever published ” – says the author, who just happens to be Neil Thomas!

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HEDD WYN INSPIRES YOUNG ADULT NOVEL


By AmeriCymru, 2017-07-26

haf llywelyn.jpgA historical novel for young adults published this week has been inspired by the life of Hedd Wyn, the famous Welsh poet who fought in the First World War.

An Empty Chair by acclaimed author Haf Llewelyn follows young poet Ellis, and when the First World War arrives, he has to join up and go and be a soldier like dozens of other young men from rural Trawsfynydd. His teenage sister Anni longs to have him home again on their family farm, Yr Ysgwrn, especially after seeing the terrible effect of the war on her best friend Lora’s father.

Meanwhile Ellis is in the trenches in Belgium, hoping to make it home safely, and to win the Chair at the National Eisteddfod – the most important prize in Welsh poetry.

The novel is published as part of the centenary commemorations for World War I, and particularly to mark the centenary of the battle of Passchendaele in July 1917, and Hedd Wyn’s involvement in it.

The novel follows the huge impact of the war on village life through the eyes of Hedd Wyn’s 14-year-old sister Anni, bringing the incredibly moving events to life for teenagers through a vivid voice of their own age. At the centre of everything is Anni’s relationship with her best friend Lora, and the difficult decisions the two have to face concerning family, friendship, love and honesty, as well the effects of the war on their whole community.

The original Welsh-language version of the novel (Diffodd y Sêr, Y Lolfa, 2013) is highly critically acclaimed and won the Tir na n-Og secondary fiction prize in 2014. Since 2015, it has been a set text on the Welsh Literature GCSE syllabus.

A farmer’s son from Trawsfynydd, Hedd Wyn – real name Ellis Humphrey Evans – fought in the trenches in the First World War as part of the 15th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and fought at Passchendaele in July 1917, one hundred years ago this month, and is famous for being awarded the Chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod, held in Birkenhead shortly afterwards.

Haf Llewelyn comes from Ardudwy and was brought up very near Trawsfynydd and Yr Ysgwrn. She now lives in Llanuwchllyn and is a full-time author. After travelling to the small town of Ypres in Belgium, she was struck by the thousands of white gravestones in the World War I cemeteries there, and what the stories of those who fought at Passchendaele might be. Her inspiration to write this novel stemmed from that trip.

‘Seeing the names and ages of the young men carved on those white gravestones in Ypres made me realise the terrible price of war’ said Haf, ‘Sometimes it's difficult for us to connect with a time that has passed, but when visiting Yr Ysgwrn, the home of Hedd Wyn, time has somehow stood still.’

‘The scale of the loss is just incomprehensible when you see those thousands of gravestones, but when you bring it all down to one story about one actual person and the people at home who loved him, it somehow seems more real’ added Haf, ‘The terrible events of July 1917 continue to cast a shadow over the home of one of Wales's best-known poets.’

An Empty Chair by Haf Llewelyn (£5.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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galar a fi.jpgA book published this week will aim to break the taboo around grief whilst offering supporting through the medium of Welsh to those who are going through grief.

Galar a Fi (Grief and Me) contains the experiences of 14 people who have been through grief after losing a brother, sister, friend, son, daughter, father, mother or lover – and the way they coped with their grief and loss. The responses to grief vary from poems, letters, diaries, essays and short stories.

The volume was compiled and edited by Esyllt Maelor, who has experienced grief herself.

The book follows Gyrru drwy Storom (y Lolfa) which was published in 2015 – a book that presented moving accounts of living with mental health issues.

‘In her preface to that book, Alaw Griffiths noted that she could not find sufficient websites or books on mental health in Welsh. And there’s very little available in Welsh about grief too.’ explained Esyllt, ‘If reading is a form of counselling, then I wanted to read in Welsh.’

‘Like with mental health, there’s a taboo associated with grief too. So this book is an attempt to give a voice to the voiceless,’ said Esyllt.

The contributions are varied – with many young people in ther midst – Luned Rhys who wrote a poem about losing her father; Llio Maddocks who wrote a short story about losing her friend, Mared; Sara Maredudd Jones who notes how important it is to talk after losing a loved one; and Manon Gravell who wrote a diary of her last holiday with her father, Ray Gravell.

Branwen Haf Williams writes a letter to her father, Derek, the author Sharon Marie Jones talks to her son Ned, Nia Gwyndaf talks to her husbans, Eifion Gwynne, Mair Tomos Ifans sees grief as being ‘in a tunnel’ and Cris Dafis conveys his deep hiraeth and longing. The other contributors are Dafydd John Pritchard, Arthur Roberts, Iola Lloyd Owen, Manon Steffan Ros a Gareth Roberts.

‘I am forever grateful to the authors for their willingness to share and in doing to opening many doors for us, the reader. I hope this book will be of help to those who need it,’ added Esyllt, ‘Whenever you find yourself turning to it, I hope that one thing stays with you through the grief and pain of these pages. That thing is love. A deep, priceless love.’

Galar a Fi (£7.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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