0

Happy St. David’s Day

welsh-week

Happy St. David’s Day! And a Diwrnod Dewi Sant Hapus to those of you who speak the language!

It being St. David’s Day today means that we’ve reached the end of Welsh Week. Personally, I’ve really enjoyed sharing some of my favourite things about Wales, and some of my favourite (sort-of-Welsh) books. To end the week, I thought I’d go through some typical Welsh stereotypes, and see how well they apply to me!

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1. We All Love Rugby

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of rugby, but I do get into it when Wales are playing. Mainly because everybody gets really excited about it, and I don’t really have a choice.

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2. We All Love Singing

So this one is very true about me. I’ve always been in various choirs since I was about nine, and I’ve competed with those choirs in quite a few competitions. Yep, that one is definitely true.

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3. We All Love Sheep

I was about to deny this one, and then I remember about my mum’s shed which is filled with wool, spinning wheels, books about sheep, posters about sheep etc. I also know several people who own sheep… I think this one probably does apply to me.

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4. We’re All Miners

Definitely not true. Not true at all.

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5. We All Speak Welsh

Yes, I’m one of the twenty percent who can speak Welsh, and yes, I can pronounce the really long place name.

 Based on that, I am your stereotypical Welsh person, and I’m proud of it!

8

Books With: Dragons

welsh-week

It’s getting to the end of my little celebration of Wales, but there’s still time for a couple more posts. And today, that post is Books With Dragons. Because you can’t get more Welsh than a dragon! (Well, apart from sheep. But last time I checked, books about sheep aren’t all that interesting).

Julie Kagawa - Talon

Talon by Julie Kagawa

George R R Martin - A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Christopher Paolini - Eragon

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Sarah J Maas - Heir of Fire - UK

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

J K Rowling - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

Rachel Hartman - Seraphina

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Rick Riordan - The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

C S Lewis - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

There are plenty more books out there which have dragons in, but these are just a few of the ones I’ve read more recently/loved since forever.

Have you got any recommendations when it comes to dragons?

11

Stacking the Shelves #44

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Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga, where book lovers get to share what their latest additions to their book shelves are.

It’s been a whole month since I last wrote a StS post. It looks like my plan to not buy books is working! (Or maybe it’s the whole I-can’t-afford-them-because-I’m-a-student thing…)

Anyway, I’m looking forward to all the books I got this week (although I have read one of them before). On with the books!

Mary Hoffman - City of Masks

City of Masks (Stravaganza #1) by Mary Hoffman

I read this book years and years ago, but at some point I lost my copy, so when I saw it in a charity shop for a couple of pounds, I couldn’t resist! I’m pretty excited about rereading it too.

Ransom Riggs - Hollow City

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs

My mum bought me this one (mainly because she wants to read it), so I managed not to spend anything at all when it came to this book. It looks great though!

Marcus Sedgwick - She Is Not Invisible

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

I’ve already started this one, and it’s fantastic! I’m about half way through, and I already want to recommend it to everybody I know.

So, that’s what I got, but what’s new on your shelves? And have you read any of these books?

1

Tales of the Mabinogi: Red Dragon

welsh-week

Yes, it’s another Welsh Week post! And, it’s not only that either. It’s also a Tales of the Mabinogi post!

(Look at me killing two birds with one stone!)

Anyway, this week I’m going to focus on one of the most famous Welsh emblems - the Red DragonYep, we have dragons here in Wales because they’re awesome. The Red Dragon, or Y Ddraig Gochis also the symbol on our flag so I figured I’d explain to you guys why exactly that is.

The Red Dragon has been a Welsh symbol for centuries, and one of the first times its seen is in the Mabinogi. In the story, it fights an invading white dragon, and it’s shrieks are causing bad things e.g. women are miscarrying, crops aren’t growing and animals are dying. So, the king at the time decides to get the dragons drunk on mead before imprisoning them in Snowdonia. Problem sorted.

However, it doesn’t end there. Centuries later, King Vortigern tries to build a castle on this spot in Snowdonia, but the castle keeps crumbling. A wizard (probably Merlin) tells him about the dragons buried beneath, and so the king frees the dragons. The two continue to fight and, finally, the red dragon beats the white dragon. The wizard tells the king that the red dragon symbolises his people (the Welsh), and that the white dragon symbolises the Saxons (the English).

The red dragon became a symbol for a king named Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon in the 7th century, and was later used by Henry VII while he was in Wales. The Welsh flag finally became official in 1959, after being used on several coats of arms and other flags in Wales.

So there you have it. Our flag is a red dragon essentially because of the rivalry with the English. Who knew?

5

Review: Dreamwalker (Ballad of Sir Benfro #1)

J D Oswald - Dreamwalker

The dragons of Glwad are dying. Persecuted for over two millennia, they’re a shrunken echo of the proud creatures they once were. And yet in new life springs hope: Benfro, son of Morgwm the Green, the first male kitling in a thousand years. Long ago dragons wrought a terrible wrong to the land, and now is the time for redemption.

Every young boy in the Twin Kingdoms dreams of being chosen for one of the great orders, and Errol Ramsbottom is no different. He longs to be a Warrior Priest of the High Ffrydd, riding to glorious victory in battle. But you should be careful what you wish for; it might just come to pass.

For almost a century there has been an uneasy truce between the Twin Kingdoms and the godless Llanwennogs to the north, but as King Diseverin descends ever further into drunken madness, his ruthless daughter Beulah takes up the reins of power. A time of war looks set to descend upon Gwlad, and it will surely draw everyone, man and dragon both, into its cruel game.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Firstly, look at that awesome cover. I really love it. Plus it has a dragon! And we all know dragons are really awesome.

Anyway, this is a book about dragons and humans and dragons and humans not being friends. It’s also a book which has a lot of Welsh references. For example, you know the way lots of fantasy books have made up terms? This one used Welsh words, and I loved that aspect of things. It did make it very entertaining though when I knew exactly what the older, wiser characters were on about and the other characters didn’t.

I guess that doesn’t really help explain the book though. Dreamwalker tells the story of two fourteen year olds – a dragon and a human born on the same day. Their fates are intertwined and they both begin to discover the mysteries of Gwlad. Meanwhile, Princess Beulah is trying to take the throne so that she and the warrior priests can kill dragons again. Beulah, by the way, is easy to imagine. She is literally Morgana Pendragon (apart from the killing dragons thing.)

queen-morgana

Generally, I had pretty mixed feelings about this book. I did enjoy the story and rather liked the characters, but I did find it very slow. Honestly, not all that much actually happened in this book. What did happen was good and exciting, but nothing was happening a lot of the time. Also, this book jumps through time so much. A few months or a year will suddenly have passed and so I found it hard to keep track of when everything was actually happening.

There were things I liked though. The characters, especially Benfro and Errol, were a lot of fun. I really enjoyed reading about them developing and learning about magic (because magic). I actually liked Beulah a lot too, even if she was the villain (but that might be because I love Morgana so much.) The world building was also good and very interesting, although that might be because I personally loved the Welsh side of things.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and even if it did have some weak points, it was still worth the read.

Random question: If you were a dragon, what colour would you be?

1

Books With: Welsh References

welsh-week

It’s Wednesday, and it’s time for another Welsh week post.

Today, I’m looking at popular books which have connections with Wales (because this is a book blog, not just a “look how awesome Wales is” blog). Honestly, I’m pretty sure there are more than the ones I’ve found, but I’ve mainly gone for the YA scene.

J D Oswald - Dreamwalker

1. Dreamwalker by James Oswald

My review of Dreamwalker is going up tomorrow, and it has a lot of Welsh references. There are a lot of Welsh words and names in there and it’s very much based on Welsh history/mythology.

Lloyd Alexander - The Book of Three

2. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander REVIEW

Again, this one is based on Welsh mythology, and is actually the inspiration for Disney’s The Black Cauldron. I thought it had a really sweet story, and I really want to carry on reading the series.

Ransom Riggs - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

3. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs REVIEW

This one’s set on a little island off the coast of Wales. That’s it. That’s the only link I could find. But still, it’s set in Wales so it definitely counts! Anyway, it’s really good and it has great old photographs in it, plus it’s sort of about super powers.

Cassandra Clare - Clockwork Angel

4. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

One of the three main characters, Will Herondale, is Welsh. He even speaks Welsh in the books. Trust me, I squeaked with excitement every single time a word of Welsh sneaked into this series. And it has a brilliant storyline too!

Maggie Stiefvater - The Raven Boys

5. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater REVIEW

The whole series centres around Welsh prince Owain Glyndŵr, and it is full of awesomeness and friendship and cuteness and cliffhangers. It’s a brilliant series which keeps getting better and better.

That’s it for my list of books to do with Wales, but I really wish it was longer. Do you guys have any recommendations?

6

Top Ten Favourite Heroines

toptentuesday

This is a feature that celebrates lists!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I really like this week’s topic, which is Top Ten Favourite Heroines. It’s also exciting because I get to tie it in with Welsh Week which is currently happening on the blog, so I’m adding a little twist to this week’s top ten. I’m going to be looking at

Top Ten Welsh Heroines

gwenllian

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, 1097-1136

1. Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd

Welsh princess who eloped with a prince, and then led her husband’s army into battle. She was captured and beheaded, but inspired others in South Wales to rise against the Normans/English.

gwenllian_picture02

Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn, 1282 – 1337

2. Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn

Another Welsh princess, and daughter of the last native Prince of Wales. She was imprisoned for fifty years in a convent, and never returned to Wales after her capture.

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Betsi Cadwaladr, 1789-1860

3. Betsi Cadwaladr

She worked alongside Florence Nightingale as a nurse in the Crimean War (despite the fact that Nightingale was totally opposed to a working-class Welsh woman going to Crimea). She moved to a hospital nearer the front line where she made a lot of good changes, and then returned to Britain at the age of 66. She also traveled all over the world while she was young, working as a maid or an assistant.

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Elizabeth Phillips Hughes, 1851-1925

4. Elizabeth Phillips Hughes

Welsh scholar and promoter of women’s education. She was the first woman to take first-class honours at Cambridge, and was appointed  Principal of the Cambridge Training College for Women, later named Hughes Hall. She then returned to Wales to continue to fight for better secondary education.

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Elizabeth Andrews, 1882-1960

5. Elizabeth Andrews

Suffragette and first woman organiser of the Labour Party in Wales. She campaigned a lot for health and education services, and was awarded an OBE in 1948.

viscountess_rhondda

Margaret Haig Mackworth, 1883-1958

6. Margaret Haig Mackworth

Viscountess Rhondda and active suffragist. She campaigned for women’s suffrage across South Wales in the year before the first world war, and served a period of time in prison due to activities such as attempting to destroy a post box with a chemical bomb. She worked with her father in the US during WWI and survived her ship being torpedoed by a German submarine when returning to the UK. She also tried to take her father’s seat in the House of Lords after his death, but failed.

gwendolinemaragaretdavies

Gwendoline Davies,1882-1951, and Margaret Davies, 1884-1963.

7. Gwendoline and Margaret Davies

Sisters who were Impressionist and 20th-century art collectors. They set up an arts centre just after WWI, and collected art whilst traveling Europe. They also set up a printing press, and sponsored the Gregynog Music Festival. In the mid 20th-century, they donated their 260 works of art to the National Museum of Wales.

NPG x170240; Lady Megan Arfon Lloyd George by Bassano

Megan Lloyd George, 1902-1966

8. Megan Lloyd George

First female MP for a Welsh constituency, and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, before defecting to the Labour Party in 1955. She campaigned for a Welsh Parliament and the creation of a Secretary of State for Wales.

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Elaine Morgan, 1920-2013

9. Elaine Morgan

Welsh writer for television and author of books about evolutionary anthropology. Her work for television included several popular dramas, and was drawn into scientific writing because she was irritated that because most explanations of human evolution were largely male-centered.

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Tanni Grey-Thompson, 1969-

10. Tanni Grey-Thompson

Wheelchair racer, parliamentarian and television presenter. As a paralympic athlete, she won 16 medals, including 11 golds, and held over 30 world records. She also won the London marathon six times between 1992 and 2002.

There are plenty more Welsh women who’ve done pretty awesome things, but these are just a few of them.

Which heroines were on your list this week?