Frank Sinatra – Songs for Swingin’ Lovers (1956)

Songs for Swingin' Lovers

Songs for Swingin’ Lovers

Songs for Swingin’ Lovers was the first official No. 1 album in the UK charts, reaching that position on 22nd July 1956 and was number one for a total of 3 weeks.

I remember listening to this album quite a bit at my Nana’s house on a Sunday as she was a huge Sinatra fan (and a huge musicals fan, but more on that later on).

Being brought up with huge music fans in the family made me love music in all its genres and forms.

The family was also a huge lover of films (not telly though) and this will also influence what I’m going to write about.

This blog is going to contain reviews for all the UK # 1 albums since the chart started in 1956, plus other music, film, and book lists (and any other lists I want!) as I get round to them.

I want to listen to a #1 album a week, but sometimes this may be more if the album is really poor (I’ve already seen some that are going to fit into that description straight away 😉 )

So onto this album by Frank Sinatra.

As I said I remember listening to this and many other albums like it as young ‘un at my Nana’s house and this holds a lot of fond memories for me, probably being one of the earliest introductions to pop I can remember.

All of the tracks on here are classics, though ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’ is the track that sticks out for me, remembered after all these years, fresh and danceable it really encapsulates the energy of the era and this album.

The rest of the album is sleek, riffing off Frank Sinatra’s smooth voice and wonderful arrangements, ‘Pennies From Heaven’ being another classic that I remember as being one of my Nana’s favourites, though my Uncle (who’s a big Elvis fan) really loved ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’.

An album of its time with some great jazz tracks from Frank Sinatra, arranged beautifully with no spare tracks on it.


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Lorraine Wilson – Q&A

Lorraine Wilson

Lorraine Wilson

A conservation scientist and third culture Scot, Lorraine lives by the sea writing stories influenced by folklore and the wilderness. She has won the British Fantasy Award for her short fiction, and her debut novel, the dystopian thriller This Is Our Undoing, was a multi-award finalist. The Way The Light Bends, a dark folkloric mystery, was recently released, and her upcoming third book, Mother Sea, is an exploration of motherhood, climate change and belonging. She has been stalked by wolves and negotiated truces with tree frogs, runs the Rewriting The Margins mentorship scheme for marginalised writers, and can be found at https://linktr.ee/raine_clouds.

Lorraine can be found at:
Website – shadowsonwater.wordpress.com
Twitter – @raine_clouds
Instagram – @raine_clouds_writes
Mastodon – @raine_clouds
Book buying:
Luna Press – lunapresspublishing.com/novels
Fairlight Books – fairlightbooks.co.uk/Mother-Sea

Tell me what inspired you to write your latest novel?

The Way The Light Bends started with a very specific place & time – some empty arches in the cathedral ruins in St. Andrews in a thick haar (our east coast sea mist, destroyer of sunny days). I’ve been in the cathedral in a haar a couple of times, and highly recommend it for spooky vibes! There’s something incredibly liminal and otherworldly about it, and the image of the arches, the idea of someone looking through those arches searching for something lost stuck in my head for years before the rest of the story began to grow around it.

What came first the characters or the world?

Well, the world in-so-far as that scene above. But from there, the first parts of actual story to take shape were my sisters – Freya and Tamsin – the tension and distance between them, the sense of them both being lost in very different ways and trying to find a way back to one another.

How hard was it to get your first book published?

It was a long road! I was publishing short fiction in anthologies and magazines from fairly soon after starting writing, but it took me seven years from first starting writing to accepting the publication offer for my debut, This Is Our Undoing.

How long did it take to write?

I can’t remember exactly. The normal for my books is about five months for a first draft, then another few months of editing, interspersed amongst other projects, so about a year in total for a book to go from an idea to a fairly polished manuscript.

Do you have a writing playlist? If so do you want to share it?

I don’t! I listen to a lot of indie folk though, so pick an indie or acoustic folk playlist on Spotify & it’s probably one I’ve listened to as well!

How many publishers turned you down?

The Way The Light Bends

The Way The Light Bends

For my debut, This Is Our Undoing, not very many because the first batch of indie presses I subbed to included Luna Press. My second book, The Way The Light Bends, went on a bit of a longer road – I wrote it before Undoing, and had more or less shelved it because it had two pub contracts fall through late-on, and I’d kind of lost faith in it. Then, after Undoing was published I showed it to my publisher to see what she thought & fortunately she loved it! It’s one of those fortuitous things – if Light hadn’t had a rocky road I might never have found Luna Press, and working with Francesca Barbini has been the biggest joy so I’m forever grateful that my books found their perfect home. It was worth the wait.

What kind of reactions have you had to The Way The Light Bends?

I’ve made people cry quite a bit, apparently! Which is a strange thing because I always feel like I should apologise but I’m also kind of delighted – it’s such a special thing to know that your words have connected with someone else so strongly. So I’m always saying, ‘I’m sorry, but also yay and thank you!’

What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to The Way The Light Bends?

It was one of my beta readers, actually, who said that Light helped her understand her sister in a way she hadn’t before, and helped her with her own bereavement as well. That is something I treasure.

What can you tell us about your next book?

Mother Sea is out with Fairlight Books in May next year. It’s about a scientist in a remote island society under crisis, trying to reconcile her community’s grief with her hopes of saving their home and her own unborn child. We’ve just revealed the cover, which is just so beautiful and captures the feel of the book’s setting perfectly I think.

Do you take notice of online reviews?

Ummm… I don’t generally go looking for them. If someone tags me in, then yes, or when it’s part of a blog tour that I’m expected to help boost. And I keep a vague eye on overall numbers and ratings because I know that matters for the evil algorithms. But I try not to check too often – publishing is hard enough on your self-esteem without going searching for the inevitable meh reviews.

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

I don’t really write within any one genre, so … yes! My writing style is very genre-blending – genre labels aren’t something I think about when writing, so my books are all quite different – so far, This Is Our Undoing is a speculative dystopian (clifi) thriller, The Way The Light Bends is a contemporary dark folkloric mystery, and Mother Sea is a lightly speculative literary novel.

What did you do before you became a writer?

I was a conservation research scientist at St. Andrews University. It’s a background that deeply influences my writing, both in the settings I use, and in the themes I often explore – climate change, our relationship with the wilds, etc.

Which author(s) inspire you?

Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro and the much missed Ursula le Guin and Maya Angelou.

Which genres do you read yourself?

Almost everything! I will happily read any genre, although there are certain tropes that put me off where-ever they arise – mainly gratuitous violence or gore, or fridging of female characters.

What is your biggest motivator?

It depends on what kind of motivation – the drive to sit at the computer and write is mostly about me needing something to be working towards, to give me focus and challenge. The motivation to make my writing better is about wanting to connect with people, to make stories that resonate in some way, especially with people who don’t often get to see themselves or their stories on the page.

What will always distract you?

The cats. (also social media. Ugh I am weak)

How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?

It has varied – for Undoing, my publisher saw the artwork by Daniele Serra and knew that it suited the book perfectly, so checked that I agreed and snapped it up (I agreed immediately, it’s perfect); where-as for Light (with Luna Press again), and for Mother Sea (with Fairlight Books), I discussed themes, inspirations and comparative books with my editors before they then commissioned artists. I absolutely adore all three of my covers so consider myself very lucky.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Oh man, yes. I could read before I went to school, and have never stopped. I was lucky to grow up in a house full of books as my mum is an avid reader as well, so I read widely all the way through my childhood.

What were your favourite childhood books?

Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea books were my greatest love, alongside Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series. Then when I was into my teens I discovered Jane Austen and Margaret Atwood and fell in love with both of them too. I also read a lot of mythology, folklore and traditional ghost story books as a kid (the scarier the better).

Do you have a favourite bookshop? If so, which?

I love my local Toppings in St. Andrews. Any bookshop that has ladders and offers you tea is impossible to resist!

What books can you not resist buying?

I mean….I buy a lot of books!! A few authors that are automatic don’t-even-stop-to-read-the-blurb pre-orders are Natasha Pulley, Kazuo Ishiguro & Emily St John Mandel.

Do you have any rituals when writing?

Cup of tea & music, does that count?

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

I almost exclusively read ebooks as it’s kinder on both my bank balance and migrainous brain, but my kindle says I have 51 bought books in my tbr folder, and 111 in my wish-list samples folder.

What is your current or latest read?

Currently reading Small Favors by Erin A Craig and beta reading an upcoming book by my marvellous friend and thriller author Jane Jesmond.

Any books that you’re looking forward to in the next 12 months?

I’ve recently read an ARC of Ascension by another friend, Nicholas Binge, so I’m really excited to see other people fall in love with that when it comes out. I’m also excited to get my hands on Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo, Ghost Girl Banana by Wiz Wharton, and Shauna Lawless’ sequel to her fabulous debut – The Words of Kings and Prophets.

Any plans or projects in the near future you can tell us about?

Well, I’ve already mentioned Mother Sea, which is coming out next year. This is a book that speaks about issues I care so, so deeply about (climate change, post-colonialism & motherhood), so I’m equal parts overjoyed and terrified to have it out in the world. I also have several other projects in the works, spanning a take on dark academia, a bit of Welsh gothic mystery and some Icelandic ghosts.

and finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?

Like I said, I don’t really write in one genre, so I’d say instead that I’m drawn to folklore and the wilderness, due mostly to the books I read as a child, and my experiences as a field biologist. I am fascinated by the way folklore intersects with the natural world and how different peoples’ relationships with their environment are shaped by their mythologic heritage, so even though my books range from deeply SFF to (almost) entirely real-world, contemporary, there is always a really strong thread of folklore within them, and the natural world is always a really powerful presence.


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Olaf Falafel – Q&A

Olaf Falafel

Olaf Falafel

A surrealist comedian, children’s book author/illustrator and winner of the Funniest Joke of The Edinburgh Festival. Olaf’s stand up shows include his award nominated debut hour ‘Olaf Falafel and The Cheese Of Truth’, ‘The Marmosets Of My Mind’, ‘Knitting With Maracas’ and the award winning ‘There’s no i in idiot’.

Olaf is the author and illustrator of several kids books including the flatulent ‘Old MacDonald Heard A Parp’ trilogy, ‘It’s One Giant Leek For Mankind’, ‘Blobfish’ and his first middle grade series for Puffin Books ‘Trixie Pickle Art Avenger’.

As well as finding comedic success onstage, Falafel has also enjoyed online fame with his short viral videos. These absurdist movies include slices of truth telling cheese being thrown onto newspapers, Opera singers mixed with modem dial up tones and the Bee Gees hiding in his beard.

The comedy website Chortle affectionately described Falafel as ‘an idiot’ and when he doesn’t have a microphone in his hand you’ll probably find him with a pencil and pad trying to draw something equally idiotic.

Olaf can be found at:
Website: www.olaffalafel.com
Twitter: @OFalafel
Instagram: @olaffalafel

When did you know you wanted to become an illustrator?

When i was around 8 or 9 I used to make my own comics, get my dad to photocopy them at work and sell them in the playground at school. That was probably the start of both my comedy and my illustration.

How long does it typically take to make a page or cover for a book?

It varies so much – I’ve just created a cover for a book proposal that took me four hours but I’ve got spreads in some of my picture books that have taken four days

What’s your favourite piece of art equipment?

I love the Pentel Brush pen, it gives a great line and it’s not to messy. I swear by it.

Do you have a favourite colour scheme, if so what and why?

Before I was a comedian/author/illustrator I worked in design and ad agencies. One designer nicknamed me Timmy Mallet because I always liked using bright and garish colour combinations. He still calls me it to this day.

Who were your inspirations when starting out?

Pete Fowler was and is the illustrator whose work I’ve always loved. I discovered him through the artwork he did for the Super Furry Animals, I love the characters he creates – a perfect blend of funny with stylish.

Do you have another job beside being an illustrator, if so what?

I’m a comedian! The two jobs really go hand in hand for me, especially as I like to try and make funny books. Also the onstage experience helps when I do school events, a room full of kids and a room full of drunk adults are surprisingly similar!

What do you do to overcome a creative block?

Go for a walk – I read something ages ago about kinetic thinking – how your brain fires up when the legs are going. Could be complete rubbish but my brain seems to enjoy a stroll.

Do you have a favourite piece in your portfolio, if so could you share it and talk about it?

I like the nap/dream illustration from Old MacDonald Heard A Parp. Partly for sentimental reasons because it was my first ever children’s book and also because it’s quite weird. There are floppy Dalí-esque clock, a farting unicorn and a couple of hidden jokes in there such as the planet Mercury looking like Freddie Mercury.

What was your first book related project?

It was Old MacDonald Heard A Parp which was originally called Old MacDonald Heard A Fart but the publishers felt it was too rude for UK audiences so I begrudgingly changed it. You can get hold of hardback Fart copies in Australia and New Zealand though!

What type of media do you prefer to work in and why?

Ink and watercolours or digitally drawing in Procreate.

Do you have a playlist you like working to? If so do you want to share it?

Lately I’ve been listening to Dave Brubek when I need to think – the upbeat scattergun jazz seems to help. If I’m drawing and don’t need to think too much I’ll have a movie playing in the background. Anything with Liam Neeson or Denzel Washington usually does the job.

Do you have any rituals when working?

Not really, I like to change things up in terms of where in the house I draw – I get bored if I’m in the same chair for too long.

Do you have a favourite artist outside of the world of books, if so who and why?

Peter Blake has always been a favourite since my college days. I like his deceptively simplistic style and the humour in his paintings.

Did the books you read as a child influence your work?

I loved Richard Scarry’s books when I was little, I was fascinated by all the small details and how all the different things were labelled. The running jokes that went through his books are definitely something I try and add to mine. When I was a bit older, around nine or ten I discovered The Ha Ha Bonk Book by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. It was filled with great jokes, surreal characters and loads of bonus humour within the illustrations.

Has your illustration/art style changed over time?

I have an instinctive way of drawing characters that has remained fairly consistent over the years – bendy limbs and a treble-yoo nose (like a double-you but with an extra u). I like to experiment with different mediums and styles but I like to try and keep it recognisable as something I’ve made.

How closely do you work with the author on developing the illustrations for a book?

Very closely as the author in most cases is me!

If you could illustrate any classic book which would it be and why?

I quite like the idea of illustrating A Midsummer Night’s Dream because of all the fairies, fools, queens and kings.

Which illustrated books in the last year have you loved?

I’m a big fan of Gustavo The Shy Ghost by Flavia Z Drago and also the follow up Leila The Perfect Witch.

If you can please tell us about your latest project and if not your last project.

Trixie Pickle Art Avenger is my latest book, it’s also my first foray into ‘middle grade’ chapter books. I was (and still am) what they call a ‘reluctant reader’ so I wanted to make something accessible to kids like me. It’s influenced by The Beano, Diary of a Wimpy kid, The Ha Ha Bonk Book and Viz. I’ve rammed it full of funny illustrations and because it features real facts on famous artists as well as farts it’s the perfect blend of high and low brow and actually quite educational. Also, the follow up book, Trixie Pickle Art Avenger Toxic Takedown is out on May 4th so that’s exciting!

Do you have any events on in the near future?

I’m at the Leicester Festival on February 19th where I’ll be doing a book event followed by a family friendly comedy event and then a ‘grown up’ comedy show. I’ll be up at the Edinburgh Festival again in August doing loads of funny stuff.


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Quinn’s Bookshop, Market Harborough

Quinns Bookshop is an award-winning independent bookshop situated in the heart of Market Harborough in Leicestershire. It’s is down one of the market town’s old lanes with an inviting entrance, looking forward to visiting.

Contact:
Three Crowns Yard, High St LE16 7AF Market Harborough
01858 432313

Twitter: @QuinnsBookshop
Instagram: @quinnsbookshop.mh
Facebook: @QuinnsBookshop
Linktree: QuinnsBookshop

 

In their own words

How did you come up with the name of your bookshop?

Our shop was originally owned by Kevin Quinn; father of GBBO winner Frances Quinn, which is where it got its name! Whilst they no longer own the business, the shop name has continued and the Quinn family are still customers.

Do you stock a variety of genres or do you specialise?

We stock a variety of genres across fiction, non-fiction, adult’s and children’s books. I think my favourite section is the children’s because the books are all so vibrant and exciting, and I’m a big kid at heart! Until very recently we didn’t have a manga or sci-fi section, but we sell Warhammer too and I felt these genres would appeal to our current customers, so I begged the owner nicely and now we do! And I’m pleased to say they’re selling well.

What makes your bookshop special?

We are tucked away down a little cobbled side alley into one of Market Harborough’s characteristic yards, which makes us a peaceful shop off the beaten track, and adds to our quirkiness. As my friend’s son beautifully put it, “It’s like you’re in Harry Potter!”

What’s the hardest thing about being a bookseller?

Having a customer come back and tell you they hated one of your favourite books!

What’s the best thing about being a bookseller?

Helping someone to find their new favourite book, or something that helps them through a difficult time, whether that’s with information to support them or good old fashioned escapism in a novel.

What’s the most surprising thing about being a bookseller?

The deep connection you make with some of your customers. I’ve worked in different types of retail and there’s nothing quite like ‘talking books’ to reveal someone’s personality and bare their soul to you rather rapidly.

Describe your store in three words.

Small but mighty

How do you choose the books you stock?

A lot of the time it’s simply a case of “ooh that looks interesting!” whilst flicking through the various buyers catalogues! I think you also get a feel for your customer base and will see books as you’re browsing and think “Mr xxx would love that!” or “Mrs xxx will be so thrilled that author has a new book coming out!” To summarise, it’s a mixture of what I’d like to read, and what I know our customers enjoy reading. With us being in such a rural area anything nature or farming related always goes down a storm!

Do you have a favourite publisher? Why?

You shouldn’t have favourites but YES! I LOVE Nosy Crow – their children’s chapter books are usually fantastic stories and full of substance with important themes and messages, and their younger children’s books are so colourful and exciting! It’s always an expensive publisher rep chat though because I end up buying half their catalogue for my daughters!

Name three books on your TBR.

Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (I bought this from Southwold books when I visited recently – lovely shop, would highly recommend) and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (I’m rereading this because I read it over ten years ago and loved it, now it’s been chosen by the bookclub I attend so I need a refresher).

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from selling books?

That you can never underestimate how much a story can impact someone’s life. They’re powerful things, books.

What is the weirdest thing a customer has ever asked for?

It was when I worked for a previous bookshop chain which has since closed down – we had a customer looking for travel plugs; the sort you take to Europe so that British plugs work in European plug sockets!

What do you get up to in a normal bookselling day?

Chatting to customers mainly! Ordering books, drinking tea, ordering some more books, eating my lunch too early because I have no restraint, replying to emails, drinking some more tea, alphabetising the books, drinking more tea, scanning deliveries in, debating for half an hour over which books make the cut for the new paperback table, drinking more tea, changing my mind about which books to put on the new paperback table and rearranging it, emptying the bins, locking up and going home to drink more tea!

What is the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you?

“Your shop is well curated”. They’ll never realise what a spirit-lifting, confidence boosting compliment that was. When I was a teenager I wanted to be an art gallery curator and for one reason or another that dream fell through. I went into retail (stacking shelves in a supermarket at the time), and it never occurred to me that it would lead onto me still being a curator of sorts in later life. Books suit me better than art anyway, so it’s all come good in the end!


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Indie Bookshops) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.