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Category: New Titles


penny_lane.jpgThe connection between Wales and Liverpool has been explored anew in a book published this week.

Penny Lane and All That by Camarthenshire author Ann Carlton is a celebration of growing up in Liverpool’s Penny Lane neighbourhood during the 1940s and 1950s – the same era as the Beatles and Quarrymen.

Ann Carlton grew up at Penny Lane. Her father rose from a poor background to become a senior local government officer; thus giving her unique insights into both poverty and affluence in the city at the time.

From first-hand experience she describes the Penny Lane area itself, the squalor of the city’s slums, the treatment of needy children and unmarried mothers, the glamour of civic events and the cultural diversity of the city – including the writer’s own Welsh background.

‘The Welsh would call my unrealistic longing for my Liverpool home ‘hiraeth’. It is a feeling shared by many among the Scouse diaspora’ says Ann.

‘Yet I always knew I was Welsh’ she added, ‘My parents and all my grandparents were born in Liverpool but tales of Wales were part of my family folklore’.

Ann describes her family’s Welsh background and Welsh connections in the city including the now demolished Welsh chapel that overlooked the Penny Lane roundabout and the Liverpool Welsh Choral which was often conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent.

‘Liverpool’s Welsh immigrants brought with them the Welsh language and a love of music. They went on to build numerous chapels in which they promoted both’ says Ann.

‘In my childhood Liverpool was known as the capital of north Wales. Every Thursday was Welsh day. It was the day people from north Wales travelled to the city centre by rail, coach and car to visit relatives and to shop’ Ann explained, ‘My mother’s favourite childhood photograph was taken on St David’s Day. For it, she was dressed in Welsh costume, complete with tall black hat.’

After studying sociology at the London School of Economics, Ann had a career in politics and journalism. She was one of the first UK Government Special Advisers and, for a time, a Western Mail columnist. She lives with her husband, the former MP Denzil Davies, in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire – a seaside village in her husband’s former constituency.

Penny Lane And All That by Ann Carlton (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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hywelemrys.jpgOne of Wales’ most well known actors has revealed the brave battle fought by his wife against cancer in his new autobiography published this week.

In Hunangofiant Dyn Lwcus (A Lucky Man’s Autobiography) the actor Hywel Emrys opens up about the death of his wife Liz to cancer last year, and portrays his own experience of losing someone so close to the cruel illness.

‘Liz was a unique woman’ says Hywel, ‘She was strong, she was brave and full of healthy humour – even towards the end.’

‘I hope talking about my experiences in such an open way will help those who are going through the same thing’ says Hywel.

Hywel is known primarily for playing the role of Derek, the garage owner on popular Welsh soap Pobol y Cwm, and is a familiar face throughout Wales. He has also acted in many other programmes and films. In this intimate autobiography, the lovable actor tells numerous stories and mishaps along the way’.

The death of his wife is what led him to write his story.

‘It was a form of catharsis that morphed into a book’ says Hywel, ‘I lost my own father at a young age and I only have faded memories of him now so I hope that by writing this book it will act as a memory for my children when I leave’.

Praise has already been given to the book by one of his friends and the world famous actor, Ioan Gruffudd, who sais, ‘This is a witty and wonderful autobiography – Hywel is one of the most loved actors in Wales’.

Hywel was born in Carmarthen but now lives in Cardiff with his children, Ffion and Sam.

The book will be launched at the caffi bar at yr Hen Lyfrgell in Cardiff on Tuesday the 29th of November at 7pm with Ieuan Rhys and entertainment by Lisa Angharad.

The second launch will be held the following week at Cwins rugby club in Carmarthen on Tuesday the 6th of December at 7pm with actor Gwyn Elfyn.

Hunangofiant Dyn Lwcus by Hywel Emrys (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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carwynjames.jpgA new biography presents new and revealing revelations about Carwyn James, one of the most iconic and popular characters in recent Welsh history.

The two sides to the life of Carwyn James are revealed in the book, Carwyn – Yn Erbyn y Gwynt by Alun Gibbard, published this week, the public figure and the private man. As well as new information and photographs never seen before, in depth research conducted by the author reveals new information about his personal life, including his sexuality, his drinking problem and his time in Italy. There's also details on the problems between his relationship with the BBC and the Welsh Rugby Union.

‘The Welsh Rugby Union belittled him, and the BBC did the same.’ said Alun Gibbard, ‘Both organisations failed to use Carwyn’s genius in a responsible way and benefit from his experience and talent.’

Detailed is his life as a student in Abersytwyth, a young man in the Navy during the Cold War, then his period as a teacher. All of which happened before Carwyn James became famous and a familiar household name at the age of forty. ‘Carwyn James was a genius. He was also a trouble soul’ said Alun Gibbard.

‘Conversations came from what can be described as the four pillars in Carwyn’s life - rugby, literature, patriotism and broadcasting.’ says Alun, ‘It is the sign of a great man that his contribution extends over all these different fields. Who can he be compared to today, I wonder? There is no obvious answer’.

Said the Professor Gareth Wililams, ‘This is a Grand Slam of a biography that breaks new ground in Welsh sport literature and beyond. One of the books of the year, there is no doubt.’

‘A moving and comprehensive portrait of a Welshman who lived two lives in one – a politican, a teacher, a broadcaster and author as well as one of the world’s greatest rugby strategist. Carwyn continues to inspire’ added Jon Gower.

The biography is the result of extensive research including over a hundred conversations with Carwyn’s family and the greats in his areas of interest including Colin Meads, Lord Elystan Morgan and Huw Llywelyn Davies.

Alun Gibbard is a full time author from Llanelli who has published almost thirty non-fiction titles and one novel. He contributes weekly to the Welsh magazine Golwg. A broadcaster for over 25 years before he began his writing career, he still contributes to radio and television.

‘Carwyn as a popular man but it was just him, on his own, at the end in Amsterdam. This is an attempt to understand the life of ‘...a man that everyone knew his name but nobody knew him’ according to his friend, the author Alun Richards’ explained Alun.

Two launches will be held in the company of Carwyn James’ family and the author Alnu Gibbard to celebrate the life and contribution of Carwyn James.

The first launch will be held at Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth, Cefneithin on Wednesday 23rd November at 7pm.

The second launch will be held at Aberystwyth rugby club on Thursday the 24th of November at 7pm.

Carwyn – Yn Erbyn y Gwynt by Alun Gibbard (£14.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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alunthebear.jpgThe infamous Dai Jones of Llanilar publishes his autobiography this week which will tell his story over the past twenty years.

Tra Bo Dai will follow the twists and turns of Dai Jones’ career over the last two decades as a farmer, presenter, and one of Wales’ most popular broadcaster. The book was co-written with his close friend, Lyn Ebenezer.

A farmer, television and radio presenter on programmes such as Cefn Gwlad and the Royal Welsh Show, Dai Jones is one of the most well known and most poular figure in rural Wales. His first book was one of the most popular books to be published in the last decade selling over 10,000 copies and his programmes continue to be very popular.

Because of his work and contribution to the agricultural world over the years, Dai has been awarded many honours including a BAFTA Cymru Wales fellowship, and being appointed Professor in the Arts by the University of Wales. But his greatest honour was to be made the President of Sioe’r Cardis in 2010.

‘I’ve enjoyed almost every second of my life. But I am a farmer and I’m glad that I have a little more time these days to enjoy the things close to my heart,’ says Dai, ‘But then again performing on stage or on the screen is nothing but an extension of what I did when I was a child’.

But despite all the fame and adoration, his feet rest firmly on the ground.

‘People are what’s always been important to me. I may have travelled the world but spiritually I never left my home’ says Dai, ‘Wherever I went and wherever I will go, I will always come back. This is where my heart is’.

But there is no end to Dai’s activites,

‘I don’t think I will ever be in want of more things to do. The things I do tend to change but they never disappear or dwindle’ he says.

‘I’m now 73 years old and still going’ says Dai, ‘God has been very kind to me! One, he gave me good health. I’m as healthy now as I have ever been’

‘I believe that to be in good health in this world and have a chance to enjoy life is more important than being a millionaire’ says Dai, ‘Truly, if enjoyment was a form of money, I would be a millionaire myself’

Tra bo Dai will be launched on Thursday the 17th of November at Marine Hotel in Aberystwyth at 7pm in the company of Dai Jones and Lyn Ebenezer. There will be entertainment by Nest Jenkins and Aled Wyn Davies with Menna Griffith conducting.

Tra bo Dai by Dai Jones Llanilar (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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alunthebear.jpgPlayers from the Wales football team have sung the praises of a new book that details the incredible success story of the team during the summer of 2016.

Published this week, When Dragons Dare to Dream is the follow-up to Jamie Thomas’ successful The Dragon Roars Again and starts where that left off, charting the amazing progress of the Welsh football team through the Euro 2016 finals.

‘Qualification for Euro 2016 meant absolutely everything to us, as a team, as a nation of people who have waited our whole lives to see Wales competing at a a major tournament,’ said Joe Ledley. ‘That feeling of qualifying was just amazing, and we couldn’t wait to get to France to put our country on the map and make a nation proud of us once more.’

‘We players had the time of our lives – every single day was a pleasure, and I like to think the fans enjoyed it just as much as we did; we just didn’t want it to end!’ said Joe, ‘To try and tell our nation’s incredible story over the summer is no easy task, but Jamie’s done a brilliant job of it with this new book. It’s a must-read for any football fan!’ he added.

Euro 2016 was the first major tournament for the national team since 1958. The success of the team was a dream come true for many fans and culminated with the team reaching the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

The book includes in-depth analysis of and insight into the journey taken during the summer of 2016, including an exclusive interview with Mark Evans of the FAW which offers a glimpse into the preparations for and events in the team base during the tournament. Players and team staff also offer their exclusive comments, including Joe Ledley and Chris Gunter.

‘I’m very pleased to say that this is another very good book that tells Wales’ incredible story from the perspective of so many people who were involved: players, coaches, fans, journalists, everyone!’ said Chris Gunter.

Raised on Anglesey, author Jamie Thomas is a 23-year-old Media Masters graduate and lifelong Wales fan who writes on many aspects of Welsh football for various media outlets.

‘I was ecstatic with the reception my first book received from everyone – whether that be people involved with the Wales squad on a day-to-day basis, fellow Wales fans or other journalists,’ said Jamie.

When Dragons Dare to Dream by Jamie Thomas (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is published on November 1st.

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alunthebear.jpgOne of Wales’ most beloved bears will be joining the Wales football team in his latest adventure.

In Alun the Bear and the Football Match by Morgan Tomos Alun has the opportunity to train with the Wales football team. But he can't play very well so he decides to be a referee instead. But what kind of referee will Alun be?

‘I was inspired by the Wales football team’s recent success during the Euros this summer’ explained the author Morgan Tomos on what inspired the latest Alun adventure.

‘But I can’t kick a ball to save my life!’ he addedd, ‘Alun and I have that in common!’

Morgan Tomos is from Caernarfon originally but now lives in Birmingham. He is a trained animator and enjoys travelling around schools in Wales discussing books and hosting workshops with the pupils.

This is the third story in the Alun yr Arth series to be translated into English. Over 50,000 Alun yr Arth books have been sold to date and recently a new website, apps and Twitter account were launched. The series has long established its place as one of the most popular series in Wales for children under 7 years of age.

‘I look forward to seeing what the Wales team do next and Alun and myself wish them the best of luck as they look to qualify for the World Cup!’ added Morgan.

Alun the Bear and the Football Match by Morgan Tomos (£2.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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owainglyndwrearlydays.jpgThe first book in a new trilogy which tells the compelling story of the early years of Glyndŵr’s uprising is published this week.

Glyndŵr: Son of Prophecy by the late Moelwyn Jones is an imaginary novel based on the real life and battles of Owain Glyndŵr.

The year is 1401, Owain Glyndŵr and his growing forces are still no more than a thorn in the side of the English crown. But when a force of some forty men succeed in taking the prestigious castle of Conwy from under the nose of King Henry IV, it marks a dramatic shift in the fortunes of Glyndŵr’s great Welsh rebellion.

The book follows a cast of vivid characters – from Rhys ap Tudur on the Welsh side to Hotspur on the English – as they dream of securing glory for their masters.

Author Moelwyn Jones was raised in Bancffosfelen, Carmarthenshire, and had a career as a Welsh teacher in Cardiff before joining the BBC as an Information Officer. He then became Head of Public Relations for Wales and the Marches Postal Board and following his retirement worked in the Welsh Assembly.

Glyndŵr: Son of Prophecy is the first in a trilogy and was completed before the author’s death in 2015.

‘Moelwyn had a great interest in the history of Owain Glyndŵr,’ says Delyth Jones, Moelwyn’s wife ‘He conducted extended research into Owain’s story. He was quite the hero to Moelwyn’.

The cover art was illustrated by Machynlleth based artist Teresa Jenellen.

The book will be launched at the Salem Chapel vestry on Market Road in Canton, Cardiff on the 24th of October at 7pm.

Glyndŵr: Son of Prophecy by Moelwyn Jones (£6.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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terrydavies.jpgOne of the first superstars of rugby union, Terry Davies, reveals the truth about his life in rugby in the 1950s as well as the loss of his talented brother to leukaemia at a young age in his long awaited autobiography this week.

He also reveals all about what happened to that crossbar that was stolen from Twickenham in 1958.

Terry Davies - Wales’s First Superstar Fullback by Terry Davies with Geraint Thomas is a tale of a typical working-class upbringing and coming of age before finding glory on the rugby field – is as much a social commentary as a fascinating insight into the heydays of amateurism.

The post-war period saw top rugby players in Wales achieve the kind of fame once associated with Hollywood movie stars and few captured the headlines more often than Terry Davies. The boy from Bynea, who combined the good looks of a young Robert Redford with silky skills and tough as teak tackling, went on to wow crowds across the rugby playing world through his displays for Wales and the British and Irish Lions.

The book tells of the remarkable life story of the Lions star, encompassing his childhood in Llanelli, learning rugby in Strade School, making his debut as a schoolboy for Swansea, entering the Royal Marines and winning his first cap before going on to become a household name.

From the highs of touring New Zealand and beating the All Blacks in their own back yard to the lows of a career-threatening shoulder injury, his rugby journey, which began as a nervous 17 year old one rainy day up in Ebbw Vale and ended with universal acclaim, is real Roy of the Rovers stuff .

Terry also remains one of the few living Welshmen to have won a test match in New Zealand.

‘Terry is a natural storyteller,’ said co-writer Geraint Thomas, ‘His book is packed with humour. He typifies the Welsh humour once so prevalent amongst the working class,’

‘His tale is both a social commentary and cultural account of Welsh life pre and post war as well as a priceless account of a bygone age of rugby union’ added Geraint.

‘As a young inspiring player he left a huge impression on me due to the way he stood out from the rest.’ added Sir Gareth Edwards, who wrote the introduction to the book.

The book is presented in memory of Terry’s brother Len, who was caped for Wales before Terry, but died in his 20s of leukaemia.

Geraint Thomas is a Swansea Valley based journalist, writer and playwright. After graduating from Cardiff University's School of Journalism he secured a position as a news reporter on the South Wales Evening Post where he is currently still employed. He also writes the occasional feature for Swansea Life magazine.

His play, the comedy Roofless, which is set around the Welsh rugby Grand Slam of 2005, played in the Grand Theatre Swansea in March 2008.

The book will be launched officially at Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli at 7pm on Thursday the 20th of October.

Terry Davies: Wales’s first superstar fullback by Geraint Thomas (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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carl_clowes.jpgA Plaid Cymru candidate, who travelled to Libya with a delegation from the party in 1976 reveals that the party received £25,000 from the Libyan government. Carl Clowes, a well known anti-nuclear activist and candidate for Plaid Cymru in many elections, reveals this information in his autobiography published this week.

In the book, called Super Furries, Prins Seeiso, Miss Siberia – a Fi, Carl Clowes recalls the research trip in 1976 to Libya with Dr Phil Williams, Brian Morgan Edwards and John Lewis. After watching Gaddafi speak a representative asked how could they contribute towards their cause for independence. Carl explains how he understood through Brian Morgan Edwards “that £25,000 had come through to Plaid Cymru”.

This is one of many revelations in Carl’s honest autobiography – a lifelong campaigner for the Welsh language and also the father of two members of the Super Furry Animals.

Carl Clowes moved from his specialist occupation in Manchester to a one man practice in Pen Llŷn in 1970 to raise the family in a rural and Welsh community. There he saw the community and its populace deteriorating and the health of the area suffering.

‘It was a new vision and personal awakening in regards to the relationshop between people’s living conditions and people’s health that led me to change my career and specialise in social healthcare’ said Carl.

There was a threat that the Llanaelhaearn village school would close and a great need for for employment opportunities if the area was to survive. This led to the creation of several initiatives include establishing Nant Gwrtheyrn language centre in 1982 which has since seen over 30,000 experience the unique atmosphere of the Welsh learning centre.

Carl Clowes found himself embroiled in several Welsh language campaigns including unifying several organisations and forums in the campaign for a new language act and developing the first comprehensive strategy for the future of the Welsh language.

He was also the election candidate for Plaid Cymru in Montgomeryshire in 1979, 1983 and 1987.

‘After I realised that politicans are in the best place to influence the health of a society, I ventured to the political work of Westminster three times in Montgomeryshire,’ says Carl, ‘I had remarkable experiences but without election success.’

He is also a firm campaigner against Wylfa B and drew a manifesto for Anglesey outlining a proposed plan for sustainable employment and energy on the island.

He led the twinning between Wales and Lesotho in 1985 and established Dolen Cymru – the first of its kind in the world. He is now the Honorary Vice Consul for Lesotho in Wales. Carl has also worked in the third sector in countries such as Siberia, Cambodia, and Mizoram in India.

He has also been honoured by the White Robe by the National Eisteddfod for his local, national and international contributions. He is married to Dorothi and they have four children - Dafydd, Rhiannon, Angharad and Cian.

Super Furries, Prins Seeiso, Miss Siberia a Fi by Carl Clowes (£12.99, Y Lolfa) is out on October 1st.

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A telephone once belonging to the KGB is the inspiration for a new thriller which tells of a struggle for survival against prejudice and fanaticism..

Centered in Brittany, Last Rites by John Humphries begins with a ringing telephone, once belonging to the KGB, with a woman pleading for help at the other end of the line. But how can the telephone ring if it is not connected?

The ringing telephone becomes an obsession investigative journalist Jack Flynt carries with him in a plastic bag from Paris to Wales, then to Île d’Iroise, an island off the French coast, a refuge for a community of Breton-language speakers hiding a dark secret. Flynt’s only hope is to do what he does best. If he finds the mystery caller he’ll find the person trying to kill her - unless he’s too late.

‘The idea for the novel came from a real event,’ explains John Humphries.

‘The KGB telephone in Last Rites does exist. I bought it for $5 from a second-hand shop in Tallinn in Estonia where I was lecturing to journalists how newspapers ran in a free society.’ he said.

‘Estonia had only recently broken free from the Soviet Bloc and the shop owner swore the telephone had been looted from the former KGB headquarters in Tallinn.’ said John.

‘It has since been connected to the landline in my study but crackles awfully! Although, I’m not sure whether that’s KGB or B.T!’ he added.

Last Rites has already receieved critical praise, with author Terry Breverton praising the novel as ‘a razor-sharp thriller that leaves the reader off balance throughout’.

John Humphries is a former national newspaper editor , investigative journalist and Foreign Correspondent. As European Bureau Chief for a large newspaper group, he has travelled widely covering major international news stories. Since retiring Humphries has written a number of non-fiction books relating to Wales including ‘Spying for Hitler’ published by University of Wales Press and translated into Portuguese by a Brazilian publisher. This is his first novel. He lives in Gwent.

Last Rites by John Humphries (£8.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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Post Brexit the political turmoil continues to cast shadows and uncertainty across Wales. None more so than in our farming and rural communities previously supported by subsidies, grants and loans via the EU’s Rural Development Programme.

Hill farmer Tia Jones’s new novel which launches at the Royal Welsh Show on the FUW stand on Thursday, 21 July, vividly depicts how the agricultural industry is inextricably linked to, and affected by, global and political developments beyond their control.

The Curlew’s Cry is Tia’s third novel in a trilogy centred around Tŷ Coch, a mid-Wales farm, where three generations of domestic drama is played out in a world of economic, and environmental turmoil.

The farming community faces constant threats to their livelihood and the timely novel, set against a backdrop of war in the Middle-East, highlights how the impact of globalisation and the effects of climate change affects rural life on a hill farm.

Bethan and her daughter are clinging on to the life they know in Llanfeni, surviving on the margins. At Tŷ Coch farm, Bethan’s family home, the enduring and constant struggle has become the way of life. The author doesn’t shy away from contentious issues that often divide rural communities such as Richard and Penny’s fight against the foot-and-mouth outbreak, which has left the neighbours wondering whether wind farming, not livestock, is the way ahead.

Passionate about sustainable farming, Tia Jones is a strong advocate of small, family-run businesses and the need for the hill farming community and its contribution to have greater visibility beyond the rural locale.

“The small farming unit is more important than ever, working in the margins as a way of life, not just enduring but prevailing against the odds, to help offset the imbalance. That also by default enables and secures the wild life a habitat and food source against the ever increasing larger indoor factory farming methods of the modern world.”

In a political climate of uncertainty and change, farming families such as the residents of Tŷ Coch continue their forebears traditions of caring for their livestock and cultivating the land. The political divide between neighbours may run deep, the tensions highlighted by the choices facing the agricultural industry highlight more than ever the deep need for Hill farmers to work together to sustain and protect this industry and its heritage in Wales.

'The Curlew's Cry is contemporary fiction at its best: deeply rooted in its place and yet engaging with the global events that affect us all.' Katie Gramich.

.....

Tia Jones will be launching her new novel on the FUW stand at the RWAS on Thursday, 21 July at 12pm and will be available for interviews.

The author will hold a book signing event on the Welsh Books Council stand at the RWAS at 11am on Thursday, 21 July.

 

The Curlew’s Cry will be available from

all good bookshops and online retailers.

.....



About the Author



An enthusiast of all things country, Tia Jones has become an established author within the rural genre. She lives and works in mid Wales with her husband on their family run organic hill farm. She has written across various media about her passion for Wales. Originally a freelance journalist she cut her teeth as a features writer for newspapers and magazines including The Field, Window on Wales and Country Living. Tia then wrote a bilingual television drama, Llety Piod, depicting the tensions between urban and rural perceptions, using the Welsh countryside as a backdrop. Originally a production broadcast on S4C, the film subsequently sold internationally. In 2008, Tia’s first novel On Open Ground was published by Gomer followed by the sequel The Moss Gatherers in 2013. The Curlew’s Cry completes the trilogy.

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To mark the centenary of the battle of Mametz wood in the First World War, a North Wales author has published a new novel about the massacre.

Mametz is a powerful novel following the story of three Welsh soldiers – Huw, Cledwyn and Ephraim – and their path from Wales to the battle field in France.

Mametz by Alun Cob is Book of the Month with the Welsh Books Council and National Museum Wales for July 2016.

In July 1916 around four thousand soldiers from the 38th (Welsh) Division were killed or injured in the successful attempt to capture Mametz Wood from the German military. The Battle of Mametz Wood began on 7 July 1916. The wood was intended - by the generals, at least - to be taken in a matter of hours. In the event the battle lasted for five days as the Germans fiercely resisted the assaults of the Welsh Division. Mametz was part of the Somme massacre and was one of the First World War’s biggest battles.

Alun Cob says “This is a novel about the ordinary Welsh lads who went to the Great War and their lives leading up to the massacre at Mametz. The lads’ background and story are important – it’s not just a book about war.”

Mametz is the fifth Welsh-language novel by Alun Cob from Garndolbenmaen, Gwynedd, and is published by Gomer Press. “This is a timely, harrowing novel, full of humanity. It’s one hell of a story!” says the editor Elinor Wyn Reynolds from Gomer Press.

Mametz is now available from your local bookshop or directly from the publisher Gomer Press for £7.99.  To read a snippet from the novel log on to www.gomer.co.uk

Bibliographic details

Mametz by Alun Cob

Publisher: Gomer Press

paperback, 190 pages

ISBN 9781785620072

£7.99

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Welsh writer and journalist Tim Hartley has travelled the world in an attempt to make sense of globalisation, international culture and politics, football and his own place in the modern world.

Kicking off in North Korea is a series of travel diaries that follow his adventures from herding reindeer with the last of the Sami people to watching football in a silent crowd of 50,000 in North Korea. Through his travelling, Tim casts a piercing and sometimes judgemental eye on the kaleidoscopic world around him.

‘I think the seed for my travel addiction may have been planted when I visited the former Yugoslavia in 1979.’ says Tim, ‘It was still a communist country, I was a politics student and while my family were happy to sit on the beaches of the Dalmatian coast I was peering into offices and government buildings looking for evidence of workers committees, red banners, hammers and sickles.’

‘The travel bug was there, in my head, and I think the aim was to find further, maybe more difficult places to go to.’ he continued.

‘Some of charity drives we did across Europe, to Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Macedonia were fascinating because the landscape and people changed every day. The shockwaves of the fall of the communist empire is still being felt in Eastern Europe.’ he explained.

‘The riots in Kiev, the blood feuds in Albania and the ethnic tensions across the former Yugoslavia are for real, but you don’t have a chance of understanding them without going there yourself and talking to those involved.’ he continued.

But it was not all plain sailing.

‘There have been some hairy moments like when we hitched a lift across the Jordanian desert at dusk with the driver asking us to spell ‘terrorist.’’ says Tim. ‘There have been checkpoints, North Korean minders and young Israelis with guns. But there’s a myth that foreign places are inherently dangerous.’

The travel diaries also tell the story of his developing relationship with his son, Chester, while they travel the world together.

‘It never crossed our minds that Chester would not be part of our travels.’ he says, ‘I have seen him grow in confidence and become thirsty for knowledge of other places, other people.’

Tim Hartley is a writer and journalist. He has worked for the BBC for 17 years and for the British Council and the United Nations Development Programme in Central Asia and Africa.

He is also a regular contributor on radio and television and has shared his obsessions on the BBC’s ‘From our own Correspondent’ and a number of newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, Golwg and the Western Mail.

‘You don’t have to travel to the ends of the world to get some great travelling experiences.’ concludes Tim. ‘North Wales may seem small on a map but every town has its own history and character.’

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The nation lost a giant of a man who had a devoting passion for Wales and the Welsh language when Meredydd ‘Merêd’ Evans died on the 21st of February 2015.

Now, in Merêd: Dyn ar Dân , the enormous contribution Merêd made to Welsh culture and politics is remembered -  as well as the man himself - the loving figure who had a deep love for his square mile. 

The diversity of the contributors found in the volume is a testament to the popularity Merêd had amongst people of all ages. Authors include Angharad Tomos, Gai Toms, Lyn Ebenezer and Cynog Dafis - each paying tribute to Merêd, to his genius and his tenacity, his vision and his affection.

There is also an article by the late Professor Gwyn Thomas, who died on the 13th of April this year.

There are also many poems paying tribute to Merêd, and the last poem written by Merêd himself, along with a host of pictures from all of the periods in his life.

'One of the greatest tributes of this volume is unwritten – that is to say that it features authors ranging from their twenties to their nineties have all contributed. Each, in their own area of expertise and each in their own style want to acknowlede their gratitude to Merêd,' said Rocet Arwel Jones.

The volume acknowledges Merêd’s contribution as a broadcaster, philosopher, performer, researcher, and educator; to the establishment of community newspapers, S4C and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, among many other things. He made large and lasting contributions to Wales during a life that spanned nearly a century.

‘He was an activist in everything he did – from earning a living as a lecturer and television product to campaigns in education, broadcasting and language acts’ added Rocet Arwel.

The volume has been edited by Eluned Evans, Merêd’s daughter, assisted Rocet Arwel Jones.

'He was a man of national and international platforms, yet nothing was more important to him than his square mile. Tanygrisiau was always there with him as he travelled to Bangor, Cardiff, America and eventually to Cwmystwyth, where he planted deep roots’ said Rocet Arwel Jones.

Rocet Arwel Jones was born in Rhos-y-bol, Anglesey and was educated at the Young Farmers Club in Rhos-y-bol, Amlwch Secondary School and the University of Wales in Aberystwyth. He has already published two books about his experiences in a humorous tour of Africa and Kenya, a volume of interviews with Emyr Humphreys and a book of oral history at the turn of the millennium. He is a familiar voice on Radio Cymru and S4C and has published poems and essays in Taliesin, Tu Chwith, Barn, Golwg, Y Traethodydd and on the internet. He is married to Sharon and is the father of three boys.

A Merêd memorial concert to celebrate the Welsh folk singing tradition will be held at Pontrhydfendigaid Pavilion on Sunday May 1st.

Merêd: Dyn ar Dân (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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Margaret Wynne of Gwydir is remembered as ‘an angry woman’ but after reading and research author Haf Llewelyn has claimed that Margaret was ‘misunderstood completley’. Her story has been reimagined and written anew in a brand new novel published this week.

‘Y Traeth’, which translates as ‘The Beach’, by Haf Llewelyn is set in Meirionydd during the 17th century and follows the lives of some of the gentry families of the period. It follows the story of Margaret Cave who marries the nobleman Sion Wynne of Gwydir when she was still a child. Although Margaret tries to persuade herself that she belongs, she suffers the contempt of her family in law, experiences bouts of depression and longs for her little girl and husband who spends time in far away London.

When Begw comes to work as her handmaiden, a close relationship develops between her and Margaret, and Begw comes to feel that she has no choice but to stay with her mistress through it all.

‘This is mainly a story of friendship and loyalty – particularly the handmaiden Begw’s loyalty towards her mistress, Margraet,’ explained Haf Llewelyn. ‘Begw did not choose to be poor. Margaret did not choose to be rich. But what is important is the choices the two make during the novel.’

Rewriting Margaret’s story was like ‘making up for the abuse she suffered during her life’.

‘She was clearly a very lonely woman and had to bend to the society of the time. Because she could not bear an heir, she was discredited and insulted by this powerful family,’ says Haf. ‘I took to her at once. As I read more about her I began to feel closer to her. I wanted the best for her. So I decided to write another story around her.’

The beach is also a central part to the novel.

‘Many of the characters feel drawn towards the beach. It is an embodiement of an attachment to somewhere. Like the characters of the novel know the sea and the beach, I’m sure many of us feel an attachment to familiar places or some feeling of belonging.’

The events of Y Traeth happen in the same place as Haf’s other novel, Mab y Cychwr, and some characters from that novel make an appearance. But Haf stresses that Y Traeth is not a sequel.

‘You do not need to read Mab y Cychwr to read this novel,’ she says. ‘Perhaps the reapperance of some old characters is a sign of my attachment towards the world I have created!’

Haf Llewelyn grew up on a mountainous farm in Ardudwy but has lived in Llanuwchllyn for over thirty years. This is her third novel for adults, following Y Graig and Mab y Cychwr, and she has published many novels and books for children, including Diffodd y Sêr, a novel told from the perspective of the younger sister of poet Hedd Wyn, a book which won her the Tir na n-Og prize in 2014.

‘You do not need to know the history of the period or the story of the Wynne family of Gwydir to read the novel,’ added Haf. ‘The period is simply the background for the story. Not much differentiates today and yesterday in the sense that the characters would make the same decisions they make in 1612 as they would today.’

‘This is a story about friendship and human nature. And those themes are timeless.’



Y Traeth by Haf Llewelyn (£8.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

A discussion of Y Traeth and Sian Northey’s new novel, Rhyd-y-Gro, (Gwasg Gomer) will take place at Y Fedwen Lyfrau in Galeri Caernarfon at 10 in the morning ond Saturday the 23rd of April.

On Wednesday the 27th of April at 7.30 pm at the Eagles Hotel in Llanuwchllyn there will be a special launch to celebrate the publishing of Y Traeth and new volume by Beryl H Griffiths, Mamwlad, by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch.

 

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A psychological thriller published this week explores how surveillance can becomes its own addiction as the narrator of this novel attempts to possess, control and spy on his partner when she’s unaware he’s watching.

Investigating Mr Wakefield by acclaimed writer Rob Gittins, follows Jack Connolly, a war photographer whose career went into freefall after he manipulated the image of a dead soldier to make it appear the soldier died a hero’s death. The deception cost him his job, the trust of his peers and his career. It taught Jack an all-important lesson, only one thing matters and that’s truth. No matter how unpalatable.

He soon becomes obsessed by a nineteenth-century short story, Wakefield by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Wakefield tells the story of a man who, one day - and in Hawthorne’s own words - decides to absent himself from his wife. He hopes to assess how much she loves him by gauging the extent of her desperation at his apparent disappearance.

Jack attempts to recreate in fact the events of this fiction and gradually infiltrates the private spaces of his  partner’s life by the use of surveillance technology attempting to capture her private conversations and record her emotional responses to the tests he puts her through. His obsession inevitably spirals out of control, inexorably leading to the destruction of his relationship and his life.

Unsettling and culturally significant, Investigating Mr Wakefield digs into issues of trust and loss at the most intimate and disturbing of levels.

‘While the hero of Investigating Mr Wakefield clearly takes matters to an extreme, the theme of the novel can resonate with almost anyone.’ explained Rob Gittins.

‘Many people, at one time or another, have probably wondered what a wife, husband or partner are like when they’re not watching.  This novel explores the dangers waiting to ensnare those who try to find out.’ he added.

This is Rob Gittins’ fourth novel. His previous novels received high critical acclaim, including The Poet and the Private Eye (2014) which was praised as a ‘compelling novel that values truth above what is simply true – at the same time as declaring that death really does have no dominion.’ by T. James Jones, former Archdruid and translator of Under Milk Wood, and Gimme Shelter (2013), commended as ‘Visceral, strongly visual and beautifully structured’ by Andrew Taylor, Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger Winner.

Rob Gittins is the longest serving scriptwriter on EastEnders having written over 250 episodes of the programme. In recognition of his work on EastEnders, Rob received an Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2015 British Soap Awards. He has also scripted for Casualty, The Bill, Emmerdale, Soldier, Soldier and Heartbeat and has won many other awards for his work including the Gold Drama Medal at the New York International Radio Festival.

Rob was Script Executive and Writer on Stella starring Ruth Jones (Gavin and Stacey) and was executive Producer and co-lead writer on Crash, a drama series for BBC Wales.  Rob has written over twenty original radio plays for BBC Radio 4 and over one hundred episodes of The Archers.

Rob’s short film Sacrifice, was released theatrically and Rob’s feature film, Blue Monday has just completed principal photography.

Investigating Mr Wakefield by Rob Gittins (£8.99, Y Lolfa) is out now.

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"Esme's passions are treated sensitively and honestly in this memoir, brought again to life so graphically by Teleri"  Lord Dafydd Ellis Thomas

Buy 'Esme: Guardian of Snowdonia' here

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This is the story of Esme Kirby, the heroine of Thomas Firbank's 1939 international bestseller, I Bought A Mountain, which portrayed the rigours of farming in Snowdonia, North Wales.

Esme's marriage to Thomas ended at the beginning of the Second World War and this book takes up her life as she struggled to cope alone on the 3000 acre Dyffryn Mymbyr sheep farm. Still a young woman, she could easily have given up such an arduous life but, instead, she grew to love her vocation and appreciate the fact that she lived in the most remarkable of landscapes.

Such was her fondness for Snowdonia, and concern for its future, that she later established the Snowdonia National Park Society, a 'watchdog' to ensure that the landscape was protected from any adverse development. She also led a campaign to re-establish colonies of the native red squirrel in Anglesey. Her legacy in this beautiful, rural community continues to this day.

Teleri Bevan comes from a farming background, yet her working life was spent at the BBC where she launched Radio Wales as its Editor and later became the Head of Programmes for BBC Wales radio and television. In retirement Teleri has enjoyed writing books about women who made distinctive contributions to rural life in 20th century Wales: firstly the story of establishing Rachel's Dairy, and then recording the accomplishments of the Ladies of Blaenwern, who bred world-famous Welsh cobs.

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The Poet And The Private Eye by Rob GittinsEastEnders’s longest-serving scriptwriter, Rob Gittins is launching his brand-new novel,The Poet and the Private Eye at Dinefwr Literature Festival this weekend. The novel depicts the last three weeks of legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’s life, and is based upon real life events.

The year is 1953, and a private investigator takes on a tail job in New York City. His quarry is a newly-arrived visitor from the UK ̶ the private eye has never heard of him, but he will. The mark is the legendary Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, and in three weeks’ time, he’ll be dead.

As far as the poet Dylan Thomas is concerned, nothing that happens in this story is invented,” explains author Rob Gittins, who published his first novel Gimme Shelter last year. “All of the events in the novel actually happened.

In October 1953, Time magazine hired a private detective to shadow Dylan Thomas during what turned out to be his last visit to New York. Dylan had taken out a libel suit against Time because of a less-than-flattering profile the magazine had published about him some months before. Time intended to use any new material gathered by the detective to defend its portrait of Dylan who, they alleged: ‘… dresses like a bum… drinks like a culvert… smokes like an ad for cancer… sleeps with any woman who is willing… is a trial to his friends and a worry to his family…’.

“To shape the events into a fictional form, however, I have taken liberties in mixing events from different trips, as Dylan Thomas visited America four times in total. So taken as a whole, the story presents an accurate account of the poet’s time in the US. As little is known about the private eye, his character, background and history is, necessarily, entirely my invention.”

The Poet and the Private Eye tells a tragic, but ultimately life-affirming story. It also engages with an issue: how an artist can change the life of even the most hard-bitten and cynical onlooker – and how an artist’s work can then live on to change the lives of countless others.

Wales Book of the Year winner Wiliam Owen describes the novel as “…a gripping story which takes a highly original look at the unravelling of Dylan Thomas’s chaotic life and ultimate death. But central to the novel is the power of Dylan’s poetry and how it’s ultimately a force for hope, reconciliation and even redemption in the lives of the people it touches.”

Rob Gittins is an award-winning screenwriter who has written for numerous top-rated television drama series – including EastEnders, Casualty and The Bill – and film as well as creating and writing original drama series of his own. He lives in Rhydargaeau near Carmarthen.The Poet and the Private Eye will be launched in Newton House at Dinefwr Literature Festival this Saturday, 5.45pm and at Waterstones, Carmarthen on Thursday 17 July at 6.30pm.

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Looking For Wales - Gerald Morgan

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The renowed historian Gerald Morgan has published an informal, wide-ranging guide to Wales. Looking for Wales (Y Lolfa) is a pocket-sized introductory guide for the curious and inquisitive reader.

Buy Looking For Wales here

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How did dragons, goats and leeks become symbols of Welsh identity? Did Cardiff really want to become the Welsh capital? And where did all the Joneses come from? Looking for Wales answers these – and other – questions while also providing more conventional information on Welsh castles, churches as well as Welsh music, literature and sport.

“Looking for Wales is presented as an introductory guide to Wales, but I would argue that it’s a must-read for every Welshman,” says the author Gerald Morgan. “I can promise any Welshman or Welshwoman, however learned they may be, that there’s something in this book they don’t know about their country!”

Every page is informed by Gerald Morgan’s lifetime interest in Wales and its culture. The author is a respected historian, teacher and author who admits that he has “been in love with the history of Wales since I was ten years old…”. His other published works include Castles in Wales and Ceredigion: A Wealth of History.

“You may think you can survive without knowing about Winston Churchill and the Welsh goat, about Edith Mair Leonard, John Graham Chambers or Samothes, but I would like to persuade you otherwise.”

Similar to A Brief History of Wales, another one of Morgan’s popular guides, Looking for Wales is an easily digestable, pocketable and affordable introductory guide to Wales, priced at £4.95.



Gerald Morgan lives in Aberystwyth. After teaching English at Ysgol Maes Garmon, Mold, and at Ysgol Gyfun Aberteifi, he served 22 years as headteacher first of Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni and then of Ysgol Gyfun Penweddig, Aberystwyth. A second career saw him teaching Welsh and local history in Aberystwyth University. He has published numerous books and articles on a wide range of subjects, focussing on Welsh history.

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Dylan Thomas: The Pubs - A Review


By Ceri Shaw, 2014-01-13

Dylan Thomas: The Pubs, front cover detailA pictorial tour of some of the pubs Dylan Thomas visited in Swansea, west Wales, Oxford, London, and the USA. This book will put Dylan Thomas's love of public houses and liking of drink into its proper perspective. Events that happened to him in and around pubs are reflected in his famous works and these are discussed in the book.

Buy Dylan Thomas: The Pubs here

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A recent article about the current Dylan Thomas centenary in the UK Guardian announces that Wales is preparing to resurrect the poet''s reputation . But is there really much work to be  done? A recent book published by Y Lolfa looks at Dylan''s ''alcoholism'' from a new angle.



This meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated book seeks to put the record straight on Dylan Thomas''s lifelong love affair with the pub. Was the poet more interested in people than pints? Did he crave fellowship and social interaction more than alcohol?

In the introduction, author Jeff Towns makes a number of telling points in support of this thesis. Firstly Dylan was, for the most part, a beer drinker. He objected to a colleagues suggestion, whilst working at the BBC, to keep a bottle of whisky in the office and only consumed spirits in any quantity on his American tours toward the end of his life. Additionally he was regarded by himself and others as an entertainer, the ''pub fool'' perhaps. He had a wide repertoire of bawdy jokes and limericks at his disposal and he craved the adulation of a receptive audience for his performances. All of this is far removed from the traditional picture of the sad and lonely alcoholic sitting at home alone pickling himself with the strongest liquor available. Perhaps there is truth in Dylan''s own observation that:- "An alcoholic is someone you don''t like who drinks as much as you do." The opinions of contemporaries should also be borne in mind, some of whom recall him as a habitual ( and occasionally excessive drinker ) but by no means a hardened alcoholic.

But however persuasive the introduction, it is the sections on individual pubs and incidents in Dylan''s life which are the real meat of this volume. Here is an incident ( quoted in the book ) that occurred in the Mermaid Inn, Oystermouth Rd, Mumbles:-

"Once after a widely reported rabies epidemic, Dylan and friend Wynford Vaughan Thomas....used this as some spontaneous horseplay. They went down on all fours and crawled around the floor of the pub, pretending to be rabid dogs, biting people''s ankles. When Dylan tried this on actress Ruby Graham, she feigned anger and shooed him out of the door. She was astonished to see him continue across the pavement to a lamp-post. "I thought he was going to pee on it.", she recalled. Instead, he bit on it, leaving him with a broken tooth for the rest of his life. ( Afterwards he used to tell her he remembered her every time he smiled.)"

This incident was later referenced in Thomas''s radio play Return Journey . Other passages from Dylan''s writing are illuminated in the same way and this is one of the many strengths of this book.

Together with the wonderful illustrations by  Wyn Thomas, the wealth of incident recorded here is sure to delight  Dylan Thomas afficianados and casual readers alike. An unreserved thumbs up and five star recommendation.



About The Author

Jeff Towns is a rare-book dealer based in Swansea who, for more than 40 years, from his Dylans Bookstore, has specialised in books about Wales in all its many aspects and ramifications and in particular, the life, works, manuscripts and iconography of Dylan Thomas. In 1993 he edited an unknown poem by Dylan, Letter to Loren , and is currently working on several other books and films on aspects of the poet''s life.

Wyn Thomas (Illustrator) was a design draughtsman before becoming broadcaster specialising in history and the arts for radio and television



Product Details 'Dylan Thomas: The Pubs'

A pictorial tour of some of the pubs Dylan Thomas visited in Swansea, west Wales, Oxford, London, and the USA.

Written by: Jeff Towns

Published by: Y Lolfa

Date published: 2013-24-11

Edition: 1st

ISBN: 1847716938

Available in Paperback


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Below you will find a list of the pubs referenced in the book, together with links to as many as we know which are still open. We hope this will be useful to anyone wanting to spend some time in one of Dylan's old watering holes. If you know of any websites we''ve missed please post in comments. Photos are welcome too.

SWANSEA

The Uplands Hotel ( now The Uplands Tavern )

The Bay View

The Three Lamps ( now The Office )

The No Sign Wine Bar

The No. 10 ( closed )

The Queens

The Bush Inn ( closed )

MUMBLES

The Mermaid ( now The Mermaid Restaurant )

The Antelope ( closed )

GOWER

The Worm's Head Hotel

CARMARTHENSHIRE

The Boars Head

LAUGHARNE

Browns Hotel

The Cross House

WEST WALES

The Black Lion, New Quay

ENGLAND

The Fitzroy Tavern

The Wheatsheaf

NEW YORK

The White Horse Tavern

BOSTON

The Copley Plaza

LOS ANGELES

The Players Restaurant



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From left to right:- The Worms Head Hotel, Gower - The Uplands Tavern, Swansea.

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Owain Gwynedd - Roger TurveyA study of the life and career of Owain Gwynedd (c. 1100-1170), who played a dominant role in the history of Wales before her conquest. He was king of Gwynedd from 1137 until his death, and was the first to be styled prince of Wales. He was considered the most successful of all the north Welsh princes prior to his grandson Llewelyn the Great.

Buy Owain Gwynedd here

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This is the first study for over a century of the life and reign of one of the greatest of medieval Welsh rulers, owain ap Gruffydd ap Cynan, or , as history remembers him, Owain Gwynedd.

Owain Gwynedd (1137-1170) was a leading figure in Wales for over thirty years during which time he earned the respect of his peers and established a reputation for fearlessness in war, wisdom in peace, ruthlessness in politics, and prudence and moderation in governance.

Lauded by chroniclers and poets, Owain was a man of flesh and blood, but one truly possessed of exceptional qualities. He acquired the epithet Fawr or Great, and in the opinion of one of the greatest of Welsh historians, Sir John Edward Lloyd, it is ''a description he fully deserved'' because his ''greatness was recognized alike by bard and chronicler, by Welshman and Englishman'', and by Irishmen and Frenchmen. This short, popular study is intended to ensure that the deeds of a great Welshman are not forgotten.



Roger Turvey is a native of the Amman Valley and a graduate of Swansea University. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London, and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors. He has published widely on medievaln and early modern Welsh history and was editor of the Journal of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society for over twenty years.

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Demons Walk Amongst Us - Book of the Day


By Ceri Shaw, 2013-09-07

demons-walk-amongst-us

This week an author from south Wales is launching his second novel in the only existing WW1 series of detective novels. Demons Walk Among Us is Jonathan Hicks'' second book featuring military policeman Thomas Oscendale, and is the sequel to best-seller The Dead of Mametz, published in 2011 by Y Lolfa which received much acclaim.

Buy Demons Walk Amongst Us here

Buy The Dead of Mametz here

Read our interview with Jonathan here

The brand-new sequel, Demons Walk Among Us, finds Thomas Oscendale fresh from the horrors of war on the Western Front and on leave in the coastal town of Barry, where he is drawn into the investigation of the savage murder of a war widow. The novel paints a vivid picture of life in the trenches as well as life in the industrial towns of south Wales during the Great War.

Demons Walk Among Us is set one year on from the first novel in the series. As 2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, there has been a burgeoning of interest in its history of this period and reviewers have noted Oscendale''s potential to develop into one of the great literary sleuths.

Available from all good bookshops and via Amazon on the author''s website:

www.jonathanhicks.co.uk

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Congo Calling by Margaret Maund, front cover detail

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Margaret Maund, one of the first women to be ordained priest in the Church of Wales, has launched a revealing book about her experiences as a nurse deep in the jungle of war-torn central Africa during her twenties.

Buy ''Congo Calling'' here

Buy ''Decades of Discovery'' here

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One of the first women to be ordained priest in the Church of Wales has published a revealing book about her experiences as a nurse in war-torn central Africa. Margaret Maund was raised in the Rhondda and trained as a nurse and midwife before spending her twenties deep in the jungle of central Africa at the end of the 1960s.

In her new book, Congo Calling, Reverend Margaret Maund from Tonyrefail explains how wanderlust overcame her during her mid twenties and, after a few years studying French and tropical medicine in Antwerp, she travelled to war-torn Belgian Congo, in central Africa, to work as a medical missionary.

As Margaret tells the story of the years spent in Africa, between 1968 and 1971, the reader enters fully into her experiences: the intense heat and great electrical storms, the poisonous snakes, crocodiles and insects, the traumas of the medical staff and the Ngombe people’s song and dance.

“Looking back, I think I found many similarities between the people I’d left back at home in the Rhondda and the people I met in the Congo,” the author explains. “The warmth of the welcome, their generosity and willingness to share everything they had all reminded me of home. I found Africa an open community which also had the hospitality and wit of my homeland.”

After three years Margaret had to return home. Although she had hoped to return to Africa, her health had been seriously impaired during the time she had spent in the tropics and she was never able to go back to the hospital at Pimu. This was a source of great sadness to her, and despite the fact that she went on to continue her nursing career, to broadcast, to write and to become one of the first women to be ordained priest in the Church of Wales, her love for Africa never left her.

“Before I left Africa, I was asked if I could share with the people of Wales the positive and hopeful lives of those living around me there – could I talk and write about them as they would like to present themselves? I have tried, to the best of my ability, to do just that.”

Congo Calling is Margaret Maund’s second book, following the publication of her autobiography Decades of Discovery in 2011. Congo Calling was launched at St David’s Church, Tonyrefail on Friday 21 June during the Arts Festival and at Tonyrefail Library the following week. The book is published by Y Lolfa, priced £7.95.

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Blood Month by William VaughanLlandaf author William Vaughan has released a brand new thriller, called Blood Month Born and educated in Cardiff, the author taught English and History in schools in the Welsh capital, including The Cathedral School, Llandaf before becoming a writer of fiction.

Blood Month is a detective story set in a fictional boys’ boarding school in the Vale of Glamorgan, where a young teacher chances upon the body of the unpopular headmaster. As well as revealing a list of possible suspects, the resulting investigation also uncovers accusations of sexual misconduct and a climate of jealousy and intrigue. Blood Month is William Vaughan’s first novel for adults, following the publication of three novels for children and young adults.

What you did wasn’t murder… He deserved everything he got. In the old days, they slaughtered surplus animals in November. Blood Month, they called it. That’s all you did. You rid the world of a useless beast…

A brand new thriller set in the Vale of Glamorgan has been released by Y Lolfa publishers this week. Blood Month by William Vaughan is a detective story set in a fictional boys’ boarding school in Llanover, where a young teacher chances upon the body of the unpopular headmaster. As well as revealing a list of possible suspects, the resulting investigation also uncovers accusations of sexual misconduct and a climate of jealousy and intrigue.

Blood Month is William Vaughan’s first novel for adults, following the publication of three novels for children and young adults.

“I fancied a change from writing for children, because such books impose so many limits upon content and vocabulary,” explains William Vaughan, who taught English and History in schools in Leicestershire and Cardiff before becoming a writer of fiction. “Relationships between characters have to remain platonic in children’s fiction. However in Blood Month, sex rears its sometimes ugly head, resulting in affairs and abuse playing a part in the story. Also, a teacher having feelings for a pupil wouldn’t be a topic I would raise in a novel aimed at a younger audience.

“The novel is set in 1971 to avoid closed-circuit cameras, DNA profiling and computer databases - which makes solving crimes too easy! I found that trying to devise a plot to deceive the reader without cheating - by introducing the murderer late in the story, for instance - was an interesting challenge. But so far, readers haven’t guessed the murderer''s identity on their first read!”

Blood Month is a book of novella length, which is unusual for its genre, and the fresh, gripping and fast-paced chapters perfectly reflect the tensions and frustrations infused in such a school as Llanover Grange.

William Vaughan is the author of The Midnight Ghost (2004), The Black Legion (2008) and Gold Hunter (2010). Born and educated in Cardiff, he taught English and History in schools in Leicestershire and the Welsh capital, including The Cathedral School, Llandaf. He became a full member of The Welsh Academy in 2009 for his contribution to the literature of Wales.

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rob-gittins-gimme-shelterAward-winning screenwriter Rob Gittins is launching his first novel next week. The hard-hitting and breathlessly pitched thriller Gimme Shelter (published by Y Lolfa) is a crime novel set in the hidden world of witness protection, and has already attracted rave reviews. Rob Gittins’s work for Heartbeat Casualty and The Bill has won him a Writers’ Guild Award, and he is currently the longest serving writer on EastEnders, having written over two hundred episodes of the programme.

Gimme Shelter pits a young, female, Witness Protection Officer against one of the deadliest psychopaths imaginable as she fights to keep her latest witness safe; but is that witness all she claims to be? And, in a world in which nothing can be taken on trust, is the Protection Officer all she seems?

“Gimme Shelter is a crime novel that didn’t actually begin with a crime,” explains author Rob Gittins. “It began with a question and that question was simple. If someone gave you the chance to start again, to wipe the slate clean, erase all that had been and all you’d been in the past, would you take it? And if so, could you handle it? “That question arose out of a stray sentence I read in a report a year ago on the growing number of protected witnesses in the UK. Over three thousand witnesses are now taken into that protection scheme each year. This startling statistic fascinated me at first, and then began to haunt me. Thousands of people living a life in the shadows, leading a life that isn’t their own, having to memorise a life story that isn’t their story at all.

“It’s all forced upon them by crime, of course - and some gruesome and harrowing crimes are at the heart of Gimme Shelter. But it’s the psychological impact and effect of the protection programme that completely compels me, and that was the starting point of the story that’s now become Gimme Shelter.

The author has revealed that a sequel will be ready for publication by this time next year. “Gimme Shelter is only the first in a number of stories I want to tell, because as I did more research into this whole field, I was presented with more and more questions that needed answering.”

Rob Gittins will be launching Gimme Shelter in Waterstones, Carmarthen night the 10th of September at 6pm, where limited edition hardback copies will be available. He will also be launching the novel in Waterstones, Cardiff on Thursday night the 10th of October.

Rob has written for numerous top-rated television drama series including Casualty, The Bill, EastEnders, Soldier, Soldier and. Rob’s also written over twenty original radio plays for BBC Radio 4 and over a hundred episodes of The Archers.



Praise for Gimme Shelter

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‘What a brilliant book… crying out to be a major bestseller and a major film… mesmerizingly written. Superb!’ Katherine John

‘Visceral, strongly visual and beautifully structured… powerful, quirky characters.’ Andrew Taylor, Winner, Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger

‘…utterly compelling, the psychological impact on the individuals enrolled on the Witness Protection scheme that forms the basis of the book is fascinating… highly recommended for those looking for a crime novel that is that bit different.’ Newbooks magazine

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To Dream Of Freedom - Roy ClewsOn Monday the 11th of March Y Lolfa will be launching a new edition of To Dream of Freedom, a book that was once described in the press as a “handbook for Welsh terrorists”. The book caused a storm of controversy when it was originally published in 1980. The then Anglesey MP Keith Best, amongst others, called on the book to be banned, claiming that it contained instructions on how to prepare a bomb.

To Dream of Freedom looks back at the Welsh bombing campaigns of the sixties and describes the volatile political climate of Wales between the drowning of Tryweryn and the investiture of Prince Charles. As well as describing the activities of movements such as the Free Wales Army, Patriotic Front, Lost Lands Liberation League and the more sophisticated MAC, many of the main activists such as John Jenkins, Cayo Evans and Dennis Coslett tell the story as they saw it. The new edition has a foreword by Sian Dalis Cayo-Evans, daughter of the late Cayo Evans, the charismatic leader of the FWA, and has many new revealing photographs from the height of the troubles.

Garmon Gruffudd of Y Lolfa said, “To Dream of Freedom is still regarded as a cult book in the eyes of Welsh nationalist and revolutionaries. The drowning of the Tryweryn valley almost exactly fifty years ago was a huge turing point in the history of modern Wales and sparked, for the first time since Owain Glyndŵr’s days, an armed rebellion in Wales. This extremely readable account of what happened remains one of our best sellers and most iconic publications.”

Before undertaking the story of the Welsh bombers Roy Clews, who now lives in Tregaron, had a colourful past. He had been a Royal Marines Commando, Stuntman, Kibbutznik and a tramp. His historical novels are popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

To Dream of Freedom - £9.95 can be ordered in bookshops throughout Wales or on Y Lolfa’s website – www.ylolfa.com.

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salem soldier by elfed/brian davies front cover detailFollowing the 70th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein, the vivid account of the life of Second World War soldier Elfed Davies (1919-2002) from Cardiganshire and his time as a young soldier in the North African Campaign has been published in a new book, called Salem Soldier.

Salem Soldier is a tale of two halves, as it is the story of a father and son, Elfed and Brian Davies, both raised in the tranquillity of north Cardiganshire hamlets, Salem and Penrhyn-coch. They lived dramatically different lives: Elfed Davies recalls his journey from north Cardiganshire to the ravages of war, when he served his country in Egypt, Libya and Italy during the Second World War. When he returned to Salem in 1945, the place and his world had changed dramatically.

Higher education provided a gateway to a career in outdoor education for Brian, and the means to travel extensively - from Penrhyn-coch to the Alpine ranges of Europe, the Far East and the extreme ends of our planet in South Georgia, Antarctica, Svalbard and Iceland. But, just like his father, the longing to return to the area was paramount in his mind. Salem Soldier portrays Salem and the surrounding north Cardiganshire area through the eyes of two generations as Elfed and Brian Davies tell of how our world changed.

During one particular journey with my father to Machynlleth some years ago, we took a detour and started reminiscing, said Brian Davies. My father recollected needing to borrow a copy of Old Moores Almanack before planning local concerts or eisteddfods in the old days, to find out the night of the full moon a clear night would illuminate the journey for the participants and audience alike.

I suggested that these recollections should be recorded and shared, and some time later I was presented with a moving, detailed account of my fathers early years, explains Brian. My own memories of a childhood within this caring community then came to mind. My fathers formative years, his wartime separation from the community, his marriage and my own birth, and some of my own memories, have led to an appreciation of the significance of cynefin to the Cymry cefn gwlad.

Brian Davies was born in 1946 and was educated at Ardwyn Grammar School, Aberystwyth and Cardiff College of Education. He has spent most of his career teaching at outdoor education centres and was chairman of the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres, 19992002. His interests lie in mountaineering and walking, photography, wildlife, travel, fishing and the local history of north Cardiganshire, especially the lead mining industry.

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A book of obituaries has been published to celebrate the lives of 75 eminent Welsh people who have contributed significantly to life in Wales during the last few decades.

An essential supplement to any history of modern Wales,Welsh Lives: Gone but not forgotten consists of obituaries written by the prolific Meic Stephens that first appeared, for the most part, in the pages of The Independent between 1999 and 2012.

Obituaries are about life, not death, says Meic Stephens. I think that the title, Welsh Lives: Gone but not Forgotten, sums up what I want to convey: that the people gathered in the book are remembered for their lifes work and that, in this special sense, they live on in the Wales and world they helped to shape.

Meic Stephens is a pre-eminent obituarist in contemporary Wales. Welsh Lives is the authors second book of obituaries, the first of which was published as Necrologies in 2008 and consisted of 72 obituaries, from Welsh writers to graphic designers.

Stephens new collection is even more capacious and various than the first volume, in that it mixes creative people with politicians, sportsmen, civil servants, film critics, broadcasters, arts administrators, doctors and judges, all of whom may be deemed to have made a contribution to Wales and Welsh life.

Welsh Lives holds up a mirror to Wales's culture, and includes short biographies of Stuart Cable, Ray Gravell, Hywel Teifi Edwards, Huw Ceredig, Iris Gower, Margaret John, Raymond Garlick, Dic Jones, Hafina Clwyd, Orig Williams and many more. Five Bretons and seven English people closely associated with Wales have also been added to the collection.

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haiku.jpgFresh from the success of his first novel, Ctrl-Alt-Delete, Welsh writer Dave Lewis has returned to poetry for his sixth book Haiku, and produced a fine collection of over 300 modern verses. The book was written over the last few years and is split into four sections under the headings Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

Reviews

"Dave Lewis is a unique voice in the poetry world. His new collection is filled with a range of vivid, often quirky, word pictures. He is adept at making every word count. Despite its brevity, the haiku is anything but an easy option at its best, this short and fairly formal poem should make the reader look anew at an everyday event. This Dave does to perfection, for example, "Chain gangs of electricity/on the green mountain/armies marching". His haiku dont always conform to the traditional 5,7,5 syllable format he goes his own original way, as in a favourite of mine, "Consultants waiting room/the plant in the window/dead". Who else would have the temerity to finish on that single-beat word, dead? His thought-provoking images have some surprising last lines that take your breath away and will remain with the reader for a long time." - Moira Andrew

"Unconventional, unapologetic, unpretentious! Dave Lewis' Haiku gives us an interesting taste of outside-the-box thinking and reminds us that while we breathe, we can embrace change, bend the rules and though we walk the same path as many others before us, we can make our own tracks." - Jolen Whitworth

Dave is from Pontypridd, has published five previous books and also runs the international Welsh Poetry Competition.

To buy a copy just visit Daves web site, or go to Amazon, Waterstones or other good booksellers.

Authors web site www.david-lewis.co.uk

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Margaret Maund Decades of Discovery front cover detailBuy ''Decades of Discovery'' here

This week, at Tonyrefail library, Y Lolfa published the autobiography of Margaret Maund. Her twenties was spent deep in the jungle of central Africa; then she became one of the first women to be ordained as a priest in Wales and also the proud owner of several brightly-coloured Robin Reliants! Margaret Maund has had quite an extraordinary life. Born in the south Wales valleys, she trained as a nurse and midwife and spent three years working in war-torn central Africa in the late 1960s. Many years later she became an Anglican priest, being amongst the first group of women to be ordained in Wales. Now retired from nursing and the ministry, Margaret Maund’s fascinating working life has spawned a third career as a writer and broadcaster. Her autobiography charts the highs and lows of a life spent breaking new ground.

Margaret says, “Friends and colleagues in work and church often say to me ‘tell us a story’, thoroughly enjoying the many situations which have made up my life. Most stories are a constant source of fun, and right across the age range we have laughed together. Perhaps there is something in what the researchers say about the power of laughter to keep us healthy. I trust that you will enjoy these stories from my life.”

The book was launched at Tonyrefail Library on Monday 6 June, 5–7 p.m. The book is published by Y Lolfa, price £9.95.


margaret maund and robin reliant

Margaret Maund and Robin Reliant

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Howard Marks discovers his roots and embraces Wales and Welsh culture in new book



two dragons by howard marks front cover detailImmortalised for his criminal activities, Howard Marks public life story is a heady mix of fact and fiction that begins and ends with his career as one of the most sophisticated drug barons of all times.

In his new book Two Dragons, Howard Marks pulls together, for the first time, the stories from his life that show the private quest he embarked upon following a chance conversation with a black American in prison for murder. It's an account of a personal journey that took him back to his Welsh roots and around the globe to discover his family history, including links with none other than the equally notorious outlaw, Billy the Kid, as well as an account of the making of the film Mr Nice and the role of the film in the wider Two Dragons story.

This warm, humorous and personal account uncovers a family history that is stranger than fiction. He learns of a distant relative, William Owen, a famous Welsh smuggler whose chronicle of scams, acquittals, and debauchery would put any modern-day smuggler or playboy to shame. He also discovers that his fathers family were part of Jesse Jamess gang and that his great- great grandfather was half-brother of Billy the Kid.

Howard Marks speaks of two Wales' in his experience, one he couldn't wait to get as far away from as possible and the other he is now warmly embracing once again. Throughout his journey into his past, and from one Wales into the other, Howard Marks makes new and firm friends with some of Wales biggest names in the acting and music industry including Rhys Ifans, Super Furry Animals and the Stereophonics. His search leads him to a past and present inextricably linked to his sense of identity and nationality and ultimately pride in being Welsh. In Two Dragons, we once again get to enjoy some of the well known stories associated with Howard over the years, as well as plenty of brand new ones, and all in a new, fascinating context.

Another chance conversation, this time in a pub in Laugharne, led to Howard collaborating with author Alun Gibbard in putting the story of his quest together. Two Dragons also includes new photographs especially commissioned for the book by photographer Emyr Young. The images include a literary festival in Caernarfon, a Goldie Looking Chain golf event, the Welsh Premiere of the film Mr Nice, and portraits taken of Howard in his home village of Kenfig Hill. It also includes photographs that Howard took when he visited the set of Mr Nice during filming, as well as his visits to South America and the Caribbean.

Two Dragons will be launched at the Grant Theatre, Swansea during An Evening with Mr Nice 7.30, Sunday 28th November. To contact Howard Marks call Alun Gibbard on 07747 694 643 or email agibbard@btinternet.com.

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the-ladies-of-blaenwernThe Ladies of Blaenwern recounts the way in which the University of Wales sold off an internationally renowned cob stud which had been bequeathed to them in the 1980s.

It is also the story of three ladies who formed a musical partnership called The Dorian Trio in the early twentieth century. Generations of children who were brought up in Wales in the 1930s, 40s and 50s knew of the Trio who travelled around schools performing and educating. They worked at University College of North Wales for ten years and later at Aberystwyth, travelling around south Wales giving concerts. However, by World War II they had turned their attention to farming in Llanarth, Ceredigion where they kept Welsh indigenous breeds. Their main interest was Welsh cobs. The Llanarth stud became world famous; their knowledge of genetics added impetus to the quality and standard of their stock. They were winners at international events. The three ladies were single-minded achievers. In the 1980s, they bequeathed the enterprise to University College of Wales, Aberystwyth for safekeeping.

As Teleri Bevan notes, “But unfortunately, old age brought a tragic ending to the story, with the dismantling of the farm and stud by the university who had been gifted the estate and farming enterprise. Many will remember the acute anger and disappointment at the final sale, the dispersal of the Llanarth stud and the press headlines and television programmes. Pauline and Enid died of broken hearts.”

Teleri Bevan was raised on a farm in Ceredigion. She spent most of her working life at BBC Wales as a radio producer, becoming the first Editor of Radio Wales when it was launched in 1978. Subsequently, she became its Head of Programmes. Now retired, she enjoys writing and this is her fourth book.

The Ladies of Blaenwern is published by Y Lolfa, priced at £8.95 and will be launched at the International Pavilion at the Winter Fair in Builth Wells on Monday 29 November.


Stori drist fferm cobiau Blaenwern, Ceredigion


Mae’r llyfr The Ladies of Blaenwern yn adrodd yr hanes fel y bu i Goleg Prifysgol Cymru werthu fferm magu cobiau o enwogrwydd rhyngwladol a ewyllyswyd iddynt, nôl yn yr 1980au.

Yn ogystal, mae’n sôn am stori tair gwraig a luniodd bartneriaeth gerddorol The Dorian Trio yn negawdau cynnar yr ugeinfed ganrif. Teithiai’r Dorian Trio o gylch ysgolion Cymru benbaladr, yn diddanu ac addysgu plant. Bu’r Trio hefyd yn gweithio yn adrannau cerddoriaeth colegau y brifysgol ym Mangor ac Aberystwyth yn ddiweddarach, ac yn cynnal cyngherddau yng nghymoedd y de. Ond erbyn adeg yr Ail Ryfel Byd roedd y gwragedd wedi troi eu sylw at ffermio yn Llanarth, Ceredigion ac yno roeddynt yn cadw bridiau brodorol. Eu diddordeb pennaf oedd magu cobiau Cymreig.

Daeth y fferm yn fyd-enwog; roedd eu gwybodaeth am eneteg yn rhoi symbyliad uwch i ansawdd a safon eu stoc. Roeddynt yn enillwyr mewn cystadlaethau rhyngwladol. Roedd y tair yn gyflawnwyr unplyg. Yn y 1980au, ewyllyswyd y fferm i Goleg Prifysgol Cymru, Aberystwyth er mwyn ei diogelu i’r dyfodol.

Fel y dywed yr awdur, “Yn anffodus, wrth i’r gwragedd heneiddio, daeth diwedd trychinebus i’r stori, gyda’r fferm magu cobiau yn cael ei gwahanu’n ddarnau a’i gwerthu. Bydd sawl un yn cofio’r dicter a’r siom yn ystod yr arwerthiant olaf, y penawdau papur newydd a’r rhaglenni teledu. Bu Pauline ac Enid farw o dorcalon.”

Magwyd Teleri Bevan ar fferm yng nghanolbarth Ceredigion. Treuliodd y rhan helaeth o’i gyrfa gyda BBC Wales, yn gyntaf fel cynhyrchydd rhaglenni, yna fel golygydd a phennaeth rhaglenni yr orsaf. Dyma ei phedwerydd llyfr.

Cyhoeddir The Ladies of Blaenwern gan Y Lolfa. Pris £8.95. Bydd y llyfr yn cael ei lansio yn y Pafiliwn Rhyngwladol ar faes y sioe yn Llanelwedd, adeg y Ffair Aeaf, ar ddydd Llun 29 Tachwedd.

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Life In The Coal House


By Ceri Shaw, 2010-10-13


life-in-the-coal-houseWith the experiences of two families giving up their home comforts to travel back to 1890s Blaenavon about to hit our television screens this month, it is timely that stars of a previous reality show reflect on their experiences during, and since the time they spent in the 1927 Coal House. Cerdin and Debra Griffiths and the family are back to tell us about how life has been for them since their nationwide TV exposure.

Life in the Coal House reminds us of those pleasant and not so pleasant experiences and contains the family’s personal photographs. The experience certainly changed the family’s way of thinking. Debra comments, “I look at things differently now… having lived in circumstances where I know that, if the fire went out, there would be no food for the family, well, that does change your outlook on all sorts of things. I really appreciate thinks now that I used to take for granted.”

Cerdin adds, “I’m extremely proud of the way that my family coped with their various experiences in the Coal House… the children went through massive changes, like speaking another language as well as adapting to a whole new way of living, and they did all this without complaining or protesting too much.”

Life in the Coal House may make interesting reading for the Snowdonia house incumbents.Life in the Coal House retails at £3.95 and is published by Y Lolfa in October 2010.

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World Mental Health Day will be celebrated at the Wales Millennium Centre this year with the launch of a novel Bamboo Grove, set in Bangkok, with a bipolar teenager as its main character. Manic depressive author Romy Wood looks at the extremes of life in the Far East through the eyes of Jessica, a young woman who also has the disorder. Precarious at the best of times and vulnerable to exotic job offers, Jessica meets Moses, a pseudo-Buddhist monk and Pippa, a Romanian illegal immigrant, and is sent to Bangkok by a quixotic pair of young businessmen. All become intricately, messily bound by the unique and rather dubious organization that is Eastern Vision. The empire has one foot in the seedier realms of metaphysical Surrey and the other amongst the slums and skyscrapers of the City of Angels. From faux-Eastern objets to real estate, client-centred sperm-donation to gypsy magic, the tangled fortunes of Eastern Vision go from strength to strength and back again. Bamboo Grove is a very funny satire about sex, financial boom and bust, corruption, cultural collision, fertility, altruism and unethical tourism.


Mother of three, Open University tutor and author Romy Wood is always creative and hugely practical about having had to be in and out of hospital while she wrote the novel and indeed in the weeks approaching the launch itself. Determined to be there on the day, Friday 8 October (7.30pm), she laughs that they wouldnt dare keep me in for something as important to me as this, adding,


It is so fortuitous that my novel is published for World Mental Health Day because its strong central character Jessica suffers from bipolar disorder but isnt defined by it. Since Stephen Frys flagship documentary, The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, bipolar disorder has begun to lose its stigma. I dont pretend that my novel will have the same impact but it does show a family affected by this disorder within a story of global settings and concerns. I hope that someone equally as prominent as Stephen Fry will publicise their personal experience of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses in order to break down prejudice.



Romy Wood taught drama in comprehensive schools for ten years. She works as an associate Lecturer for the Open University. This novel is informed by her experiences of Romania and Thailand, where she has friends and family, as it is by Romys life as a woman with Bipolar Disorder. She lives with her husband and three children in Cardiff.




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 'Bumping' by Tony Bianchi, front cover detail

North Shields-born and bred Tony Bianchi is of Italian descent but learnt Welsh so well that he took the major Fiction prize in Welsh, the Daniel Owen Memorial Prize, in 2007, as well as being nominated twice over for the Welsh Book of the Year for his novels in the language. He also taught himself the strict poetic metres and was the 2007 judge for Welsh entries of the Ireland-based International Poetry Competition, File Filochta, which he himself won in 2004. The son of a policeman, he spent most of his career as Literature Director at the Arts Council of Wales. Bumping, published in May 2010, is Bianchis first novel in English.


The first two of Bianchis Welsh novels explore with great sensitivity the compromises and realignments experienced by old people needing care and their families. Inspired by his fathers memories of his Merchant Navy days in wartime America, Bumping also takes age as a major theme in his portrayal of narrator eighty-six year-old Tom, struggling to adapt to life in a care home and the way his memories and thought trails are about quarter of an hour out of synch with everybody elses (indeed, John Williams, author of Cardiff Dead and Malcolm X, praises Bumping for this quality of slippage, A wise and tender portrait of ordinary lives slipping slowly out of kilter with the brave new world around them.) Tom is only one of three main narrators, however, making this a novel with truly wide readership appeal across the generations, as well as one of distinctive contemporary colloquial Tyneside voices.


Bumping interweaves three stories: each presents a character whose obsessions and attachments become magnified through chance encounters, leading to unforeseen and ultimately catastrophic results. The bumping of the title conveys something of these random processes, as well as one characters passion for recreational lock-picking. The stories are told in a number of voices: middle-aged way leave officer Frank; teenagers Nicky and Barry, and the heart-breakingly confused and ever-optimistic elderly Tom. The themes include relationships with home and place, male preoccupation with mechanisms and systems, moral evasion, and the tyranny of random events. Bumping is also a novel about youth and old age, delusion, lock picking and Californian ladybirds.


The author explains the meaning of the title and the impact of Tyneside on his writing,


People bump into each other as simple as that. The novel turns around a number of chance events. All of the characters believe that order, even contentment, are just an arm's-reach away. If only they can get over the next hurdle, explain themselves a little better, show that they are worthy of love then all will be well. But the pattern of their lives is much more random than they can ever allow.


'Bumping' also means 'lock-picking'. You need to read Barry's story to find out why this is significant. This is what he does, what he can do, it is his own, personal attempt at controlling a little bit of the world.


Among the books that have influenced me is Ciaran Carson's The Star Factory. I'd love to do for Tyneside what Carson did for Belfast in that book, and perhaps I'll work up to it. It needs doing. But it needs to be elliptical, full of the unexpected, the awkward, the plainly barmy!


Tony Bianchi is currently a freelance writer and translator, living in Cardiff.


Look inside and order 'Bumping' HERE. ( Available May 6th )




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Prichards Nose front cover detail

Pritchards Nose, the debut novel of Sam Adams, tells the tale of a man who lost his nose in strange circumstances.


Intrigued by the mysterious legend of the man with a hole where his nose should be, Martin, a literary researcher, goes on the trail of a long-lost manuscript belonging to Thomas Prichard, the 19th century author of the tales of the Welsh highwayman, Twm Sion Cati. Woven into this literary detective story is the fictional autobiography of Prichard himself, following him from his childhood in rural Wales, along the drovers' road to London and a career on the stage. The novel ends with the puzzle of how Prichard ended his days down and out in Swansea and without his nose.


In this revealing story, Sam Adamss nose for the Welsh past is combined with his poets eye to bring the nineteenth century alive to all our senses.


Sam Adams said, This is a book that had to be written in order to satisfy an obsession with Prichard that has extended over thirty years. What I knew of Prichard when I began looking into his life was that he had written a novel called Twm Shn Catti about a remarkable, eccentric character well remembered still, especially in Tregaron, his home patch, who in real life, as Thomas Jones Esq., 400 years ago, had been a poet, antiquary and genealogist, but in legend became famous as a merry rogue who, by disguise, mimicry, trickery and wit, and no little courage, overcame his enemies and won at last the hand of a grand lady.


The little we know for certain of the history of Prichard himself is almost as strange and fascinating as that of Twm Shn Catti, and I have not been able to let go of it. Prichards Nose is an attempt to fill in all those gaps in his life that research could not bridge. Why was his childhood spent in a remote farm high on the mountain above Sennybridge? How did he find his way to London as a boy? Why did he hate the Reverend Benjamin Jones of Builth? Why did he choose Jeffery Llewelyn as a pen name? How did he become an actor? And how did he lose his nose?


Sam Adams comes from Gilfach Goch, Glamorgan and is a former editor of Poetry Wales and a former chairman of the English-language section of Yr Academi Gymreig. He edited the Collected Poems and Collected Stories of Roland Mathias, is the author of three monographs in the Writers of Wales series and is a frequent contributor of poems, criticism and essays to a number of magazines. He published his third collection of poems, Missed Chances in 2007.


Pritchards Nose (9.95) will be published by Y Lolfa on the 16 March 2010

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dreaming-a-city

Thursday 26 November sees the Cardiff launch of Y Lolfa’s first book-DVD package, at Womanby Street’s bar, Y Fuwch Goch. Multi-prize-winning TV documentary film maker Colin Thomas’ awards include three from BAFTA Cymru, as well as the Prix Europa, the Gold Award at Houston International Film Festival, and the Jury Award at the Celtic Film and TV Festival. Now for the first time, his documentary Hughesovka and the New Russia, presented by Professor Gwyn Alf Williams, is available to keep. First transmitted in English to the UK network on BBC2 in 1991, the three-part series won BAFTA Cymru’s inaugural Best Documentary Award of that year. The DVD is published together with Colin Thomas’ first book, Dreaming a City: From Wales to Ukraine, which brings the story of Hughesovka, the town established by Welsh people in Ukraine, up to the present day.

Colin Thomas and Gwyn Alf Williams had a long and productive working relationship respectively as film producer and presenter, mainly on popular Welsh history programmes such as The Dragon has Two Tongues, made by the co-operative company Teliesyn. But they also formed a strong friendship, and this honest account of the bonds – and occasional blow-ups – of this creative relationship in television from 1981 to the Professor’s death in 1995, make Dreaming a City a fitting tribute to a fine historian and well-loved figure.

Author Colin Thomas said,

"I have always thought that what happened to the city founded by John Hughes and his Welsh workers told a much bigger story. But I have been surprised to discover, in writing a book about a place that has fascinated me for years, the degree of personal revelation involved. I have found myself exploring my own hopes for a better world. For many years I shared some of those dreams with the late great Prof Gwyn Williams and I''m delighted that this book/DVD package will form a tribute to Professor Williams, as well as bringing the Hughesovka story bang up to date."

Both DVD and book tell the remarkable tale of a city created in the 1870s by Welsh capitalist John Hughes and his team of seventy Welsh miners and steelworkers. Its transition from Hughesovka in Russia, to Stalino in the Soviet Union, and then to Donetsk in the newly-independent Ukrainian nation, is a story of Russia, Ukraine and the Soviet Union in microcosm. Dreaming a City traces the town’s growth from patriarchal beginnings through the Russian revolutions, Bolshevism, Stalinism, Nazi occupation and the collapse of Communism, Nineties rising Ukraine nationalism, to Ukraine post-independence in the present market economy. Partly a revisiting of the making of the television series Hughesovka and the New Russia, this book is Russian and Welsh social and political history; travel journalism, and a tribute to Welsh historian Gwyn Alf Williams, as well as being a personal memoir of a life in TV and history. Above all, though, it explores the tensions between a belief in social change and the danger implicit in utopian visions.

Extracts from Hughesovka and the New Russia will be shown at the launch, which commences at 7.30pm at Y Fuwch Goch/The Red Cow, Womanby St, Cardiff. The book/DVD package is available at good bookshops and from amazon, gwales and www.ylolfa.com.


John Hughes on Wikipedia



John James Hughes (1814 – June 1889) was a Welsh engineer, businessman and founder of a city in Ukraine. The city was originally named Yuzovka or Hughesovka (Юзовка) after Hughes, ("Yuz" being a Russian or Ukrainian approximation of Hughes) but was renamed Stalino in 1924 (in 1961 the name was changed again, to Donetsk)....more here

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Author Alan Biltons father worked as a track walker for British Rail. The family managed without a car until he was 17, enjoying as they did free rail travel. His father loved Charlie Chaplin. Obsessions with train journeys and silent film are Alan Biltons childhood legacy, and both are crucial to his first novel, The Sleepwalkers Ball, published next week. The novel was launched in a 1950s restored railway carriage, La Charrette, the smallest cinema in Wales, at the Gower Heritage Centre. Here the author will introduce to a select audience (the cinema seats only 23 people) two screenings of Buster Keaton films, High Sign, and Sherlock Jr, in which Keaton is a projectionist who falls asleep and enters the world of the film he is showing.

Alan Bilton is now an academic specialising in silent film, and has taught literature and film at the universities of Manchester, Liverpool Hope, and currently, Swansea. His official activities range from showing Chaplin movies to undergrads, to taking film clips to graduate classes in Spain and the US, and delivering conference papers on silent film and American Literature in Prague, Mississippi, Zaragoza, Rennes, Nicosia, Seattle and Oslo.

The novel features nightmarish train journeys: the anxiety of lateness; losing or merely lugging around luggage; the pressure of packed stations and waiting for loved ones; carriages which are chopped up and fed to a trains furnace while a bride and groom look on, en route to their honeymoon: all appear or recur in this fantastically surreal and stylish debut. Alan explains,

The idea of a rail journey as a metaphor for life has a long modernist pedigree from Freud, to Russian novels. The journeys in The Sleepwalkers Ball are influenced by war images, or one of my favourite films, Closely Observed Trains, which like my novel, is a slapstick comedy about death, and also juxtaposes the romantic with the sinister. Modelled on silent film, the author chose to cast silent film actress Clara Bow as his leading lady, creating an exaggerated emotional world of slapstick happening and reoccurence, into which the reader could project their longings, fears and fantasies. Set in a fictional (and strangely black and white) Scottish city dominated by a castle, it is based on Alan Biltons experiences as an undergraduate in Stirling, I was there in the Thatcher era: the town was run-down, depressed, violent at the edges... but I had discovered European films, modern art, books, and love too. Stirling was this amazing Kafka-esque Gothic place, all granite blocks, twisting cobblestones and the castle, and then you had the grim reality of most peoples working day. Im aiming for this tension in the novel, between work and play, dreaming and doing, my naive happiness then and the melancholy hopelessness all around. The Sleepwalkers Ball is united by a charismatic tour guide who takes the reader around the city, dipping in and out of the lives of Clara and her would-be suitor Hans Memling as they meet, miss, find and fail to hook up, though finally finding happiness.

Hoping to build on an increasing popular interest in silent comedy, Alan Bilton admits hed like his enthusiasm for this art form to spread beyond academia. Nevertheless, his credentials in the latter regard are impeccable, as he has written two nonfiction books, An Introduction to Contemporary American Fiction (New York/Edinburgh, 2002), America in the 1920s (co-ed with Phil Melling, Helm, 2004), and is currently working on a third, Constantly Moving Happiness Machines: New Approaches to American Silent Film Comedy. His forthcoming book on silent film connects slapstick comedy to American culture in the Twenties, especially through themes of consumerism, mass consumption and the ideas of Hollywood as Americas dream factory, themes which also occur in The Sleepwalkers Ball.

As a kid, Alan says, I adored Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. But if Stan Laurel messed up or Charlie Chaplin was trapped, I got so worried. Slapstick comedy is about anxiety as well as wish-fulfilment: a game without consequences and a nightmare version of adult life. In my novel I have created cartoon-like and grotesque characters that we identify with emotionally but who are also apparitions shifting in time and space, in the way that silent film occupies a space between comedy and terror.

Born in York, living in Swansea and passionate about Scotland and early Twentieth-century America, Alan Bilton is one of the few writers who still describe themselves as British.

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Welsh drinkersWales is renowned for its sheep, male voice choirs and rugby players. In a new book published this week Aubrey Malone makes a case for the legendary status of Welsh drinkers. In the introduction to Welsh Drinkers he mentions the boozing antics of amongst others Rhys Ifans, Charlotte Church, Dai Llewellyn, Tommy Cooper and Hugh Griffiths, however the bulk of the book is dedicated to four world famous Welsh celebrities whose lives fell apart due to their addiction to alcohol. Welsh Drinkers examines how Richard Burton, Dylan Thomas, Rachel Roberts and Anthony Hopkins coped with celebrity as their lives became ruled by the demon drink, with Anthony Hopkins being the only one to recover. Author Aubrey Malone said, “Their stories are presented neither to entertain or frighten; merely to state how it was for them on the greasy pole of celebrity before and after their lives become ruled by the substance they once imagined would save them from themselves.”

Aubrey Malone, a proud Irishman, sees many similarities between the Welsh and the Irish’s relationship with drink.

“I see a great affinity between Ireland and Wales in the sense of two small nations who were colonised by England and perhaps as a result of this developed a rebellious defiant streak, which led to colourful personalities who were sometimes unbalanced and sought either escapism through drink to make their poor circumstances bearable or dutch courage to try and do something about them. For every Dylan Thomas there''s a Brendan Behan, for every Richard Burton a Richard Harris and for every Anthony Hopkins a Peter O''Toole.”

Welsh Drinkers (£4.94 / $7.50 approx ) is published by Y Lolfa and is available on www.ylolfa.com and in Welsh bookshops.

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judith-maroA tense political thriller about the hunting down of a wartime Nazi executioner in the Welsh countryside by, among others, a Jewish girl, is being published by Y Lolfa this week.

Set in the early eighties, shortly after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and now published in the wake of the Israeli massacre in Gaza, it likely to prove controversial as the author is a committed Zionist.

However Judith Maro, the author, who now lives in Mumbles, Swansea, insists she disagrees strongly with present Israeli policies, as do many other Jewish intellectuals.

Author Judith Maro said: “I do hope the novel will also stimulate discussion about some difficult political issues which are relevant to Israel, Lebanon and Gaza today.”

Judith was brought up in Jerusalem and after graduating at the university there, joined the Zionist paramilitary Haganah organization. She met her future husband, Welsh sculptor Jonah Jones, at a British Army education centre in Palestine. She has lived for long periods in North Wales and Cardiff before settling with her family in Swansea.

She has written four novels in both English and Welsh and various essays and reviews and a memoir. She is fluent in both Hebrew and Arabic.



the-stoatBydd Y Lolfa yn cyhoeddi nofel wleidyddol gyffrous yr wythnos hon gan awdures sy’n wreiddiol o Israel. Mae priodas rhwng Gwyddel a Chymraes yn gefndir i’r dirgelwch sy’n troi o gylch dwy fferm ym mryniau Meirionnydd. Mae ditectif lleol a myfyrwraig o Israel yn ymchwilio i gefndir Pwyliad sydd wedi byw mewn tyddyn unig o’r enw Tyddyn Isaf am 35 mlynedd. Mae The Stoat yn nofel antur ryngwladol ei blas, sy’n trin rhai o densiynau gwleidyddol dyfnaf yr oes sydd ohoni.

Cafodd Judith Maro ei magi yn Jerusalem. Priododd y cerflunydd Jonah Jones, ac wedi byw mewn sawl ardal o Gymru, mae bellach wedi setlo yn y Mwmbwls ger Abertawe. Er ei bod yn Iddewes, mae hi fel nifer o feddylwyr Iddewig eraill, yn anghytuno a pholisïau presennol llywodraeth Israel. Mae’n gobeithio y bydd The Stoat yn annog trafodaeth am faterion gwleidyddol sy’n berthnasol i Israel, Libanus, Gaza a Chymru heddiw.

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A Welsh author living in America was overcome by emotion twenty five years since leaving his homeland and became ludicrously patriotic, so decided to write a novel glorifying Wales. Peter Griffiths is a Welsh-speaking author from Cynheidre near Llanelli, moved to Denver, Colorado in 1972, but in the last few years has gravitated back to Wales.

Peter Griffiths said: In 1990, while driving from Heathrow to Bala, climbing the Berwyn from Llangynog, I distinctly remember being moved by the grandeur, and feeling ludicrously patriotic. How could I not write a novel glorifying Wales, its people, and its language? It would be aimed mainly at my circle people in the States, who go weak at the knees over Scotland and Ireland, but rarely over Wales.

The novel is called, Tongue Tied, and is set in the Tryweryn valley and the Rhondda. The novel considers how language has had an unifying and some times divisive role over the centuries. The author said: One is Welsh if one feels Welsh. The novel recognises the tension that arises at times between the majority of Welsh people who cant speak Welsh and the minority who can; and the divisiveness of the language in these instances is compared, with sadness, to its crucial unifying role over the millennia.

Tongue Tied is published by Y Lolfa on St Davids Day. The author now shares his time between Swansea and Denver. This is his first novel.


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Fatal Neglect: Who Killed Dylan Thomas?


By Ceri Shaw, 2008-10-31

Fatal Neglect - Who Killed Dylan ThomasFatal Neglect: Who Killed Dylan Thomas? is published by Seren on November 9 2008, the 55th anniversary of the death. £9.99, ISBN 978-1-85411-480-8

It is now available from local bookstores, internet book suppliers or direct from www.seren-books.com. It will be many months before it appears in the US and other countries, so the internet and the Seren website are your best bets.

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From the Back Cover:-

Dylan Thomas went to New York in October 1953 to perform in Under Milk Wood. Three weeks later, he was dead. This fascinating book confronts painful facts about why he died.

Neglect was central to the death. John Brinnin, Dylan’s agent, had a playboy lifestyle to fund. Desperate for his fees, he turned a blind eye to the poet’s failing health.

Liz Reitell, Brinnin’s zealous deputy, also knew Dylan was ill but she worked him to collapse. Did she put her own career before his well-being? Brinnin’s intimate papers show how greed, ambition and sexual intrigue fed into a chain of events that sent Dylan to an early grave.

Dylan suffered from a treatable illness but his fashionable New York doctor ignored the warning signs. David Thomas
examines hospital data and the post-mortem report – included in the book – and shows that medical negligence
was a factor.

Fatal Neglect also investigates the conspiracy to protect those responsible. Friends and doctors took part in a cover-up, as did two of Dylan’s American biographers.

David Thomas’ previous books on Dylan Thomas have required us to rethink the poet’s life. Fatal Neglect is a fundamental reappraisal of his death.

David Thomas was brought up in Pontarddulais and Port Talbot. After Oxford and the LSE, he worked in London as a senior lecturer and chief executive. Since returning to Wales, he has written widely about Dylan Thomas, including The Dylan Thomas Murders, The Dylan Thomas Trail, Dylan Remembered and A Farm, Two Mansions and a Bungalow, now a major film, The Edge of Love, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Rhys.

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Cardiff author Peter Luther has just launched his second novel, The Mourning Vessels. It is loosely located in his favourite town of Tenby. The fast paced supernatural thriller is based on the machinations of a Satanic coven –The Divine Sentiment and the story follows the main character Ellen’s quest to unriddle their sinister operations and free the souls of her dead parents.

Peter Luther’s first novel Dark Covenant has already been reprinted twice by Ceredigion based publishers Y Lolfa, and earned him the tag of the “Welsh Dan Brown”. It was described as a “word of mouth sensation” in the Times and other reviewers have described his work as “macabre and compelling”, “a real page turner with a twist of Oscar Wild”, “genre hopping rollercoaster ride” with many tipping him for bigger things.

Although he is a new face, he has built a loyal band of underground followers, as testified by the response to his first book on his website www.peterluther.co.uk. His fans will be pleased to hear that Peter revealed at the launch of Mourning Vessels, in Waterstone’s Cardiff , that he has already written his third novel Precious Cargo and hopes to see it published next year.

Peter Luther, a successful solicitor and an accomplished musician, admits that his fictional work is influenced by his personal experiences, his latest born from the tragic loss of both his parents and his next relates to his wife’s experiences of receiving IVF treatment. He will be touring bookshops throughout Britain in November and December.

The Mourning Vessels in available in bookshops and www.ylolfa.com priced at £7.95.


Peter Luther will be signing copies of Mourning Vessels at the following shops in November

November 1 November
Waterstones, 9-11 Regent Street Wrexham at 11:00am – 1:00pm
Waterstones, 14 Eastgate Row, Chester at 2:30pm – 4:30pm
8 November
Waterstones Nottingham, 1-5 Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham at 11:00am – 1:00pm
15 November
Waterstones, 4a High Street, Abergavenny at 11:00am – 1:00pm
Borders, New Park Shopping Centre, Llantrisant at 2:30pm – 4:30pm
22 November
Borders, 14 The Hayes, Cardiff at 1:30pm – 3:30pm
29 November
Waterstones Chiswick, 220-226 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick at 11:30am – 1:30pm

December and January dates to be confirmed

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Kevin Johns....Oh Yes It Is, front cover detailKevin Johns is a performer, actor, pantomime dame, radio broadcaster, football fanatic and the guy with the mike at all of Swansea City’s home games. And that’s not all, as we discover in this extremely enjoyable autobiography of the all-round entertainer, co-written by Peter Read. Growing up in the Plasmarl area of Swansea in the 1960s, Johns longed to be an entertainer from an early age. After a religious experience at secondary school, his life became a battle between football and religion, the secular and the spiritual. The book tells of how he has managed to combine several diverse aims into a satisfying whole.

It is in the variety of roles he has played – both on and off the stage – which makes his life such an interesting story. He has (amongst many other things) been heavily involved in charity work, played football with Emlyn Hughes, interviewed Tony Blair and played a wind-up on Alastair Campbell, put on children’s entertainment at the home of the Duke and Duchess of Westminster, helped with a late-night soup run on the toughest streets of Glasgow, preached sermons, sung with Bonnie Tyler, and entertained the crowd at half-time during matches at Wembley Stadium.

Johns is very generous with amusing anecdotes and experiences which have affected him deeply. He is not afraid to reveal his insecurities or emotions, making this a very personal look at what makes him tick. The result, even for those who may be unaware of Johns before reading the book, is the feeling that one knows him personally by the end – or would like to get to know him better.

Kevin Johns was born in Swansea in 1961. He went to Dynevor Secondary School and two Bible colleges. He presents the radio shows Sunday Hotline and Heart and Soul for Swansea Sound. He has made many theatre and television appearances, becoming one of Wales’ best-known entertainers. Johns will again be performing in pantomime this year, with Su Pollard and Chris Jarvis at Swansea’s Grand Theatre. Cinderella will run from 17 December 2008 to 18 January 2009. He will attend book signings during the run.

Oh Yes It Is…Kevin Johns! by Kevin Johns and Peter Read, will be published by Y Lolfa on 23 October. The book will be launched on the same date at the Grand Theatre, Swansea at 7.15 pm.

REVIEWS OF GERALD MORGAN TITLES

''A well-organised, articulate and stimulating work... beautifully illustrated'' – Richard Moore-Colyer on Ceredigion: A Wealth of History.

''A splendid study, balanced, sensitive and nicely setting local events and trends within the wider Welsh and British context.'' David W. Howell on Nanteos – A Welsh House and Its Families.

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A Brief History Of Wales, coverThere have been many books written on Welsh history over the years, but for a concise overview of the subject, A Brief History of Wales will be hard to beat. Author Gerald Morgan says he appreciated “the impossibility of the task… a history of Wales in twenty thousand words! But fools rush in…”

However, Morgan has proved himself more than equal to the challenge by writing a gripping narrative of conquest, resistance and survival. This should come as no great surprise, since he is a respected historian and teacher who admits he has “been in love with the history of Wales since I was ten years old…” This book will be a boon to those who have long-sought after the ‘holy grail’ of an easily digestible, pocketable and, above all, affordable introduction to the history of Wales. It may be brief, but all the most important characters and dates are there, from the Night of the Long Knives to the 1905 victory over the All Blacks, from Welsh Indians to the 1904 Revival.

Amateur historians, tourists, schoolchildren and those merely wishing to brush up on their history will all enjoy reading this book. As Morgan himself says: “I have tried to gain some small grasp of the complexities of history, and have tried to grasp the extraordinary changes which have taken place in Wales during my lifetime.” He has succeeded admirably in these ambitions, despite the inherent difficulties involved.

A Brief History of Wales is the third book by this prolific historian to be published in as many months, following Ceredigion Coast Path – From the Teifi to the Dyfi (Cyngor Ceredigion) and Castles In Wales (Y Lolfa) – both of which were published in July.

Gerald Morgan lives in Aberystwyth and likes to describe himself as a teacher and historian in that order. After teaching English at Ysgol Maes Garmon, Mold, and at Ysgol Gyfun Aberteifi, he served 22 years as head teacher of Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni, then of Ysgol Gyfun Penweddig, Aberystwyth. A second career saw him teaching Welsh and local history in the Extra-Mural Department of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He has published books and articles on a wide range of subjects, including Ceredigion: A Wealth of History and Nanteos – A Welsh House and Its Families.


REVIEWS OF GERALD MORGAN TITLES

''A well-organised, articulate and stimulating work... beautifully illustrated'' – Richard Moore-Colyer on Ceredigion: A Wealth of History.

''A splendid study, balanced, sensitive and nicely setting local events and trends within the wider Welsh and British context.'' David W. Howell on Nanteos – A Welsh House and Its Families.

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Prolific historian Gerald Morgan’s latest work, Castles In Wales, will be gratefully received by tourists, amateur historians and castle enthusiasts alike. Rather than producing yet another coffee-table-sized tome or in-depth academic study, Morgan has written a practical, pocket-sized, comprehensive guide designed to make sense of the bewildering array of castles Wales has on offer – from the impregnable edifices of the Welsh princes situated high on craggy hilltops to Edward I’s ‘iron ring’ of magnificent fortresses designed to intimidate the rebels of Gwynedd.

The author has placed a strong emphasis on the guide’s practicality: “My wish is to enthuse potential visitors, so I have spent more time on access than is usual, having visited every castle. I particularly hope to interest people in the lesser-known castles well worth seeing, many of which are open to the public without charge.”    

Castles In Wales has a wide-ranging introduction, setting the castles in their historical, cultural, political and military context. The main guide comprises nearly 80 entries on medieval castles, including notes on access, grid references, history and the buildings themselves. Two appendices comprise a list of over 400 medieval castles and a shorter list of “possible, post-medieval and lost castles” in Wales. The book is fully illustrated with over 100 black and white photographs.

Author Gerald Morgan lives in Aberystwyth and likes to describe himself as a teacher and historian in that order. After teaching English at Ysgol Maes Garmon, Mold, and at Ysgol Gyfun Aberteifi, he served 22 years as head teacher of Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni, then of Ysgol Gyfun Penweddig, Aberystwyth. A second career saw him teaching Welsh and local history in the Extra-Mural Department of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He has published books and articles on a wide range of subjects. Castles in Wales is published by Y Lolfa and will be available in bookshops and on www.ylolfa.com from the 11th of August for £6.95.

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