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Personal opinion: I really dislike World Book Day

Personal opinion: I really dislike World Book Day

This may be more controversial than my posts on Brexit, but as an avid book-lover I really dislike World Book Day. In particular, I dislike the way the primary focus of the day is about dressing up. I recognise that some people like dressing up – but we already have other days dedicated to dressing up, notably Halloween. There are also fancy-dress parties and other fancy-dress events. We have one day a year that’s meant to be about celebrating books…

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Two Misunderstood Works

Two Misunderstood Works

This post examines the way Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ and Kipling’s ‘The Ballad of East and West’ are often misinterpreted through a literal reading of their most famous lines – when in fact their message is almost the diametrical opposite. Born in the USA (Bruce Springsteen) A link here. One of Springsteen’s greatest hits, taken at face value from the chorus, the song is a simple, even jingoistic, celebration of America. But listening to the lyrics more closely tells…

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Watership Down is not a Children’s Book

Watership Down is not a Children’s Book

Chorus: Why do you cry out thus, unless at some vision of horrorCassandra: The house reeks of death and dripping blood.Chorus: How so? ‘Tis but the odour of the altar sacrifice.Cassandra: The stench is like a breath from the tomb. These lines, a quote from Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, constitute the opening of Watership Down. If ever an author wished to give a better signal to the audience that this book was not a children’s book, it would be hard to imagine…

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Bible Analytics: What do Children’s Bibles Focus On?

Bible Analytics: What do Children’s Bibles Focus On?

We have quite a lot of children’s bibles and it’s always interesting to see what each one focuses on. This post carries out some fairly surface level analysis of how much time different children’s bibles spend on different books. First, the actual bibleWe can look at the relative size of the different books of the bible by comparing the number of chapters they have. It’s not a perfect analysis – some chapters are longer than others – but it’s good…

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Herman Wouk – the 20th / 21st century’s greatest author

Herman Wouk – the 20th / 21st century’s greatest author

What makes a great author? Some would argue that popularity should be the key measure, with best-selling authors the clear champions of the writing world. The public is the true test of what is great and their judgement carries all before it. Others might argue that simple popularity is a bad measure: Agatha Christie or Dick Francis may have sold millions of copies, but their books are relatively simple in structure and arguably lack depth. For such people, the true…

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My Kickstarter Experience

My Kickstarter Experience

I’ve recently concluded my first experience of using Kickstarter to launch a project and have been pleasantly surprised by the experience. he project in question was The Twelve Quizzes of Christmas, a compilation book of twelve of my former Christmas Quizzes, lightly edited to ensure relevance to a wider audience. The main draw of Kickstarter was that it provided a convenient platform to collect preorders (ordering in volume reduces costs) and to promote it to an audience outside my core…

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Guest Post: The Truth Behind the Cluck

Guest Post: The Truth Behind the Cluck

A guest blog by Jean Blakey.   A mountain of people have asked me about the meaning behind my children’s book Cluck Cluck Duck and a smattering have given me their interpretation of the book. I love that! I love that people are trying to read something into my cheeky little story about a duck who has lost his quack. If you are wondering what I’m talking about then read on. I am Jean Blakey, a friend of Iain Mansfield…

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The Twelve Quizzes of Christmas is available to order now

The Twelve Quizzes of Christmas is available to order now

My new book, The Twelve Quizzes of Christmas, is now available to order. A compendium of mind-bending and perplexing questions guaranteed to set your mind boggling. With twelve quizzes, each with its own theme, The Twelve Quizzes of Christmas is the perfect way for any quiz fan to while away the winter hours. Consisting of a compilation of my twelve Christmas Quizzes to date, it’s a great brainteaser for those Christmas times with family, as well as the perfect present…

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Two Charlies

Two Charlies

I recently reread Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. It’s fascinating that for two books that are so similar – same author, same series, same length, similar vocabulary levels and sentence structure – there are still several features of the latter  that make it a noticeable, if small, step up in difficulty. Most obviously, Chocolate Factory has 30 chapters while Elevator only has 20.  As the books are the same length, chapters in Elevator…

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Book Review: World Order by Henry Kissinger

Book Review: World Order by Henry Kissinger

‘Magisterial’ and ‘epic’ are all words that come to mind to describe Kissinger’s magnum opus, written in 2014 when he was 91. Certainly a book that begins a consideration of the modern international order with a detailed analysis of the Thirty Years War deserves that description – but what is more impressive, is that Kissinger then goes on to consider similar seminal moments in the history of other nations, including China, Russia, the US and the Islamic world. As the…

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