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Help fund the 10th Leeds Brownies trip to London!

browniesOur good friend and Eagle Owl @BookElfLeeds is raising money for her Brownies. Here’s why

When we asked our Brownies what they really wanted to do this year, they told us they wanted to visit London.

We’re a Leeds Brownie unit, based in LS4/LS6, for whom money is tight, and we’d love to give our girls, aged 7-11, the trip of their lives. For most of them it will be their first time visiting London, for some their first time away from home.

We’d love to make this as cheap a trip as possible so that ALL our Brownies can join us, and for that to happen we need your help!

Funds will go initially to cover transport and accommodation costs, and to buy food for the girls. If there is any left over we’d love to have some thing special to look forward to, any suggestions let us know!

We’re travelling down in February. The girls are planning a fundraising Christmas Fair (more details as and when) and our plucky Eagle Owl Jess is going to complete the Leeds Country Way-a 63 round trip all around Leeds-all to raise money.

If you can spare a fiver, that would pay for tea for one of the girls. We’re grateful for every penny and will keep updates on things we’re planning, and let you know how the trip goes!

You’ll be making twenty little girl’s wishes come true with every donation-on behalf of them all THANK YOU for your very kind donations.

If you have a moment, please check out the JustGiving page here!

Convinced? Donate HERE!



REVIEW – The Map of Time – GUEST

LBC regular reviewer Michael has been reading again…

Thanks again Michael!




An epic, ambitious and page-turning mystery that will appeal to fans of The Shadow of the Wind, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and The Time Traveller’s Wife.

London, 1896. Andrew Harrington is young, wealthy and heartbroken. His lover Marie Kelly was murdered by Jack the Ripper and he longs to turn back the clock and save her.

Meanwhile, Claire Haggerty rails against the position of women in Victorian society. Forever being matched with men her family consider suitable, she yearns for a time when she can be free to love whom she choses.

But hidden in the attic of popular author – and noted scientific speculator – H.G. Wells is a machine that will change everything.

As their quests converge, it becomes clear that time is the problem – to escape it, to change it, might offer them the hope they need…

THE MAP OF TIMEI always worry that if you read a book in translation it loses something from the original essence which is the story in the author’s native language. However, this book, in translation from Spanish is a complex, twisting yet very engaging “Fan Fiction” of H.G. Wells “The Time Machine” .

There are three strands to the story, one is the desire of a rich aristocratic son to prevent the murder (by going back in time) by Jack the Ripper of a prostitute with whom he has fallen in love. The second is the rejection by H.G. Wells of a penny bookstall science fiction story written by an entrepreneur, or that’s what he likes to call himself, and his subsequent revenge. And the third is the meeting, in a future world, of a young woman and whom she would like to believe is the victor in a devastating battle in the year 2000 between evil automatons and their former human masters.

There’s the written fantasy of time travel, which we all now know from H.G. Well’s book, there’s the desire to believe in time travel and how this can cause the boundary between the real and made up to be blurred, and there’s actual time travel. Mixed into this are murders, London gangland punishments and the great difference between the lifestyles of the rich and poor in late 19th CenturyLondon.

If you can manage to keep in your head the many twists and turns of the plot, which are found to all link together in the end, this is a satisfying and exciting read and one in which the story, mostly told from the point of view of the narrator, keeps offering surprises and happiness.



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Visit Michael’s Blog HERE


Women’s Literature Festival-Women’s Writing Today-Selma Dabbagh

In the build up to the Women’s Literature Festival in Bristol on the 16-17 March, BookElf will be reviewing the work of the writers on the Womens Writing Today panel. The event will look at the issues facing women writers today, and their inspirations for their work.

This book, the debut novel by British Palestinian writer Selma Dabbagh, who has previously published short stories in several Anthologies and along with Festival Chair Bidisha has appeared at PalFest, the Palestine Literature Festival, described in her book Beyond the Wall .

Out Of It describes the longings of Palestinian academic Rashid, who sits on the roof of his home, the only brick building left in the middle of a field of tents, getting high and dreaming of his British girlfriend and ultimate do-gooder Lisa. As he watches bombs fall on Gaza, Rashid is secure knowing soon he will be gone, to study in London and be away from the horror of the bombings and the pressure from his family and friends who run a humanitarian centre.

Rashid’s sister Iman, meanwhile, feels torn between wanting to do “something”, not quite knowing what that would be or involve, and also flee the chaos of Gaza, and the various intrigues of the different factions and groups, both secular and religious, that compete for the hearts and minds of the people.

This book is extremely complex, and assumes an awful lot of pre-existing knowledge of the history of Palestine, the social mores of the country and how all the different leaderships and UN declarations relate to each other. Despite learning a little more about the situation in Palestine since since Beyond the Wall I started reading this and almost instantly completely lost where I was or what was going on, Wikipedia’d it, and still didn’t really know what was going on, to be honest if I was coming at this book knowing nothing of Palestine I would have got very lost very quickly, and there isn’t the gripping plot behind the themes and characters to have kept me interested.

More than anything whilst reading this book, which follows Rashid and Iman from Gaza to London and the Gulf and back again, I thought ‘wouldn’t this make a great play?’. I would love to have seen this on stage, rather than in prose, as what Dabbagh is describing and saying would make much more of an impact I think that in its current form. Rashid and Iman’s struggle to discover the truth behind their parents, who were actively involved in the Outside Leadership, who I think were the PLO but am not absolutely sure, and to figure out their place in the world was interesting but, and this is going to sound really harsh, they are my age, have lived all over the world including a war zone and still to me eyes seemed incredibly immature. I didn’t like them, and found it hard to sympathise with them.

This book is very well written, she has an excellent voice and it is an important one to hear. How exhausting it must be to live in the conditions described, and the difference between a Gaza and London or the Gulf is striking, and wonderfully done-if you ever wanted to feel real guilt about being able to get a bikini wax or walk alone when only a few hundred miles away there are people cowering in fear this book’ll do it. There were also some excellent moments of comedy-Lisa the aid worker who organises petitions and protests, but has no actual human emotions past self-interest, on stage with an elderly pipe smoking politician, would 150 years ago have probably been saving fallen women in Whitechapel, inviting prostitutes to tea in order to look even more caring about her projects. I’ve met quite a lot of Lisa’s in my time and Dabbagh gets her spot on.

I couldn’t get on with this book, but if you’re not as ignorant as me or enjoy writing that makes your head tense then you’d enjoy this. I am however really looking forward to seeing her speak, as judging from her material here she has a lot to say.

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