LBCPuffins 2nd Birthday!


LBCOutlaws 4th February -Along came a spider at @crowdoffavours

Books that make you go Oooooo

Meeting at Crowd of Favours from 6pm for 6:30pm start to discuss:

alongcameaspiderAlong came a spider – James Patterson

He had always wanted to be someone. For years he had planned to kidnap someone famous, and he had chosen his victims carefully. Now the pressure was on to catch him before he killed again

website here

LBCDystopia – books not picked

As always we have a list left over, so don’t forget to keep putting them in as there’s always some good suggestions.

Wool by Hugh Howey

Feed by Mira Grant

The Girl with All the Gifts by Mike Carey

Man in the high castle – Philip K. Dick

The Road – Cormac Mcarthy

V for Vendetta

World War Z by Max Brooks

LBCDystopia’s next pick – The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1)

by Rick Yancey



After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. offical website here
meeting on 25th February

It’s nearly here!!! LBC DYSTOPIA first meeting of 2015


Meeting in Crowd of Favours

Join Helen and the rest of the clubbers to discuss the following book

 Uglies – Scott Westerfeld


Our dystopian book club is a lot more fun than the subject matter might suggest! We meet every 6-8 weeks at Crowd of Favours on Harper Street. We gather at 6pm to grab a bite, with the book club discussion usually starting at 7pm.

28th January 2015 –

CANCELLATION – Jacqueline Harvey at the Leeds Church Institute


An Afternoon with Children’s Author

Jacqueline Harvey 

and the Heroine of Her Books, Alice-Miranda!

big book endWHEN: Saturday the 24th of January 2015

WHERE: Leeds Church Institute, Central Road, Leeds

(Opposite the Corn Exchange, just off Vicar Lane, above the Out of This World shop.)

TIME: 2pm – 4pm

COST: Free Event (with refreshments available for only £1 contribution)

big book end 02

Come and meet Australian children’s author

and learn about her amazing books!



EVENT – Chris Nickson Book Launch


Chris Nickson is launching his latest book!

Date: 6th of February

Time: 6.30 pm

Venue: Waterstones Leeds – 0113 244 4588

There will be free wine apparently – just let Waterstones know that you are coming!!



LBCPuffins – March pick

Drum roll please! After much talk at LBCPuffins I went in search of this particular book. Loved by one of our regulars, but not heard of by any others I was intrigued to find out what it was about. I am so glad I did! It’s an amazing little book.

It is…..

The wuffler and the querk by Wendy Wharam


llust. by Stepan Zavrel. Mr Bootle was a quiet, ordinary bank clerk. His only peculiarity was writing books about a strange creature called a Querk, an animal with a long rubbery nose and a preference for hanging upside down by its toes. When the housekeeper found Mr Bootle hanging upside down in the cupboard one morning, the trouble really started

Please note fellow Puffins!

This is a rare book! We have two copies and will be doing a book share! contact me @lbcpuffins or @isfromupnorth or Stefanie  @stefarchivist for when you can borrow a copy. If you can source one yourself we don’t mind, but we have until March 18th to read it.

In the meantime please think of book choices for April and May, so we have a couple ahead! Remember it can be anything, old or new. It’s all about Big kids reading little kids books after all :D

Review – James Meek at the Howard Assembly Room


In a little over a generation the bones and sinews of the British economy – rail, energy, water, postal services, municipal housing – have been sold to remote, unaccountable private owners. In a series of brilliant portraits James Meek shows how Britain’s common wealth became private, and the impact it has had on us all.

In a series of panoramic accounts, Meek explores the human stories behind the incremental privatization of the nation over the last three decades. As our national assets are being sold, the new buyers reap the rewards, and the ordinary consumer is left to pay the ever rising bill. Urgent, powerfully written and deeply moving, ‘Private Island is a passionate anatomy of the state of the nation for readers of Chavs and Whoops’

private islandSince 2010, the Howard Assembly Rooms have been hosting the Liberty Lectures. As described by the Director of Projects Dominic Gray – these are a series of talks orientating around significant topics, impacting on contemporary society. The series emerged out of a desire to deliver an inter-sectional program of events, linking the productions happening on the stage in the theatre with the social world. The productions on this season (including La Traviata and The Marriage of Figaro) orientate on class conflicts, which tied in beautifully, albeit obliquely, with the nights theme.

Last night, James Meek took to the stage to discuss his recent book Private Island – about the human stories behind the privatisation of Britain’s rail, energy, water, housing and postal services.

The author was introduced by Dr Kirsteen Paton, Lecturer in School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds, who chaired the discussion and lead the question and answer section.

James Meek began by (re)assuring the audience that he was first and foremost a journalist and author. His book charted the progression of privatisation in Britain in a descriptive fashion.  It is not an attack on private enterprise. While he does believe that a radical overhaul of the political and economic state is desired by many readers; he is not a politician, nor an economist.

This book is not a call to arms, to return all industry to a centralised system (something that he doesn’t think is desired by anyone on the ‘left’ and is only conceptually kept alive by ‘right’ spectators). Neither is he a historian…nor Russel Brand – he is not offering ideas of how to change or put right the world. Rather, he focuses on the impact of privatisation, the winners and losers within the society that it creates and its paradoxical recreation of nationalism – in an almost unrecognisable way – as states other than ‘our’ own buy shares into public services.

From there, we had a whistle stop tour of public services and the definitions that we use. Are public services still provided for the public good or purely for profit? Perhaps it is more useful to consider these services in terms of universal networks – essential to each citizen. Indeed, we are witnessing the birth of a new network – internet access – and the death of another – the postal service. And if each of these services is privatised, what impact does that have on a state – what is a state if no longer the provider of these networks? Let alone the human cost – poor Britons with no respite from true poverty.

The highlight of his overview, for me, was the run down of the 6 lies told to promote privatisation over national control – including efficiency, competition and public apathy. Here, he provided pithy, practical and sensible responses to encourage conversations at every societal level, beginning at home, round the table.

Calm, measured and with a dry and infectious humour, James Meek held our attention easily for an hour. The conversation he had with Dr Paton was interesting, though I personally felt that more clarity regarding the phrasing of the questions would have been useful. The question and answer section was more thought provoking as he fielded a wider range of topics. Sadly, James Meek did not provide a road map for change; in fact he was almost coy on the question of how control and power could be wrestled away from the few – eventually revealing that he was researching this for future writings and had no easy answers. He did reveal however that he feels optimistically for the future, convinced that people do actually care.

All in all, a wonderful night out in a truly beautiful venue. I will certainly be reading the book for greater insight and look forward to the next Liberty Lecture!

About the Author

James Meek is a Contributing Editor of the London Review of Books. He is the author of six novels published in the UK, US, France and Germany, including The People s Act of Love, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Ondaatje Prize and Scottish Arts Council Award. We Are Now Beginning Our Descent won the 2008 Le Prince Maurice Prize and The Heart Broke In was shortlisted for the 2012 Costa Prize.

In 2004 he was named the Foreign Correspondent of the Year by the British Press Awards and he contributes regularly to the Guardian, New York Times and International Herald Tribune.


howard assembly room

Visit James Meek’s website HERE

Visit the Howard Assembly Room  HERE


Visit the Opera North website HERE



Theatre Reviews

Mini-review – SurviRal by Ken Benton


The deadliest flu season in a hundred years is about to turn a whole lot deadlier. When an accident at a famous medical research facility lets a mutated avian flu strain out, a nightmare scenario unfolds. Before authorities can react, millions are infected—and that’s just the beginning. The mortality rate exceeds 80%. Leaders and elected officials soon learn the man-manipulated virus respects neither rank nor stature. The resulting chain reaction leads to a collapse of modern society—even in Colorado, where no cases of the killer strain have yet appeared.

Clint Stonebreaker, a happily-married software engineer living in Denver, doesn’t like watching the news. He especially doesn’t let Jake, his wacky doomsday-prepping brother, watch it when he visits. But when chaos goes viral through the entire country, Clint and his wife Jenny are forced to acknowledge reality. They find themselves hitting the road with their gun-enthusiast neighbor to escape the deteriorating city. Their goal? Reaching Clint’s hunting cabin in Southeastern Colorado and trying to make a homestead of it.

They don’t get far before running into a gauntlet of obstacles. Colorado seems to have become a giant sociological experiment, with dire consequences for making the wrong decisions. The spirit of American resolve is pitted against the ugly realty of criminal opportunism in every direction they turn. Ironically, Clint isn’t sure which is worse: being forced to survive in the midst of civil unrest, or knowing he’ll have to admit to Jake that he was right. Assuming he can find him…


About the Author

Ken Benton appears to be your run-of-the-mill city slicker at first glance, blissfully playing with his iPhone at the bar of the local barbeque joint while sipping on craft-brewed IPA. But he has a secret passion: doomsday survival prepping. And if you ever snuck up behind him to see what he was reading, it would likely be one of those apocalyptic-survival stories set after the collapse of modern society. Yes, he’s one of those nuts. But someday soon, Ken believes, those nuts may become the new upper class in society. Until then, we’ll just have to make do with story-telling. And preparing.

This is his first work of fiction.

Mini-Review (very minor spoilers – I make sure not to give too much away)

Though I’ve read a number of dystopian and post-apocalytic books in the past (LBCDystopia); this is my first ‘prepper’ story. Preppers or survivalists are people or groups who actively prepare for emergencies – be they social, political, economic or medical. One of the primary goals seems to be becoming self sufficient with regards to medical care, shelter building and food storage to ensure survival should SHTF  (s**t hit the fan) scenarios arise. Though this is a worldwide phenomenon, what little knowledge I have is orientated around the US – primarily via (I suspect) terribly inaccurate and sensationalist ‘documentaries’.

In the main, I enjoyed this story. Ken Benton is very detail orientated and clearly really loved writing the initial disaster scenario. Perhaps it was a strength that this scene plays out so quickly – it definitely left me wanting more! So many of the books that I’ve read have focused on society forming long after the initial disaster point that it was very interesting to read one focused on the actual crumbling infrastructure and societal melt down.

For the first few chapters, it was primarily exposition via dialogue. To be honest, this is a style that leaves me cold and here I found Clint and Jenny to be pretty willfully ignorant, which is hardly a good start for the primary protagonists. I mean, yes, fair enough, keeping up with the news is stressful but after a couple of pages, I started to hope that they were going to be victims of the virus – they seemed so determined to stick their head in the sand and avoid learning ANYTHING AT ALL about what was happening. I appreciate the idea behind passing along exposition in this way but it seemed that every person they interacted with was better informed so frankly I had very little time for them.

While I grew quite frustrated with Clint and Jenny, the few chapters that dealt with their brother Jake and his conflict with the more grasping aspects of the government was FAAAR more interesting to me. I was delighted that there was more development of this aspect as the book progressed. Similarly the emergence of a brutal gang of ‘savages’ was quite out of the blue – I didn’t expect the ‘bad guys’ to have an origin story featured in this way – and equally captured my attention.

Clint, Jenny and Harold are forced to navigate cross country to attempt to find safety and encounter a number of challenges that kept my interest up. This is a book that is *very* located in the US, as evidenced by the proliferation of arms (not to mention the near reverence for them as demonstrated by every second character) and via an interesting exchange where help is turned down because the group offering it are the wrong sort of Christians. Very different mentality to the bits of Europe that I’ve been exposed to…though my gut response was to suspect that we either have fewer cults, or they are better at subterfuge… At every turn there were challenges, including one or two that I genuinely didn’t see coming – always good!

Politically, the author pulls no punches, he appears to be equally disdainful of the two major parties in the US. The somewhat amoral but fundamentally decent character of Congressman Wade Bennett was probably the best developed outside the primary three and was definitely the most delightful character for me. I’ll be signing up for the newsletter just to discover more about his story! By the time the divergent strands come together, it feels like quite a well explored world – albeit a slightly more brutal version of one than I am familiar with!

With regards to the survivalist aspect, it was apparent that the author felt very comfortable exploring and developing his ideas. On the one hand, this was a strength – the research shone through and I felt like I learned quite a bit behind the psychology of ‘prepping’ vis a vis the do’s and don’t. Do keep seeds. Don’t hoard, it’ll attract scavengers and so on. On the other hand, I felt like this was all predetermined and designed to fit an agenda – I have a feeling that in this book, none of the characters ever moved in a direction that the author hadn’t planned for…which is a bit of a shame really.

However, it’s worth noting that this is the first foray into fiction writing for Ken Benton. At points, it did feel like he was experimenting with different styles of storytelling and this was a touch distracting. However it also left me feeling like he is still finding his feet and personal approach towards fiction.

Certainly, this is a strong and solid initial effort and I look forward to seeing what he tackles next.


Visit his website – Survival Tales – HERE

Sign up for the newsletter and be send a free short story featuring Congressman Wade.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,589 other followers

%d bloggers like this: