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  1. ceremonial festival at which gifts are bestowed on the guests by the host according to rank or importance and valued items are destroyed by the owner to illustrate his/her superior wealth (Native American origin, especially the Kwakiutl). 2. a party or celebration.          

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  The Bodley Head found itself, at the beginning of the week, sold out of ‘Penguins’, 150,000 having been sold out in four days.… — The Bookseller, 8 August 1935, a week after Penguin’s launch   In the early 1930s, Allen Lane, then director of The Bodley Head publishers, was returning from a weekend stay … Continue readings

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An opening line can be a thing of beauty, drawing us into a novel. There are many great lines but here are our Top 10 favourites.     1. ‘He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.’ — Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche (1921)       2. ‘It … Continue readings

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This review is dedicated to Elizabeth Hoyt’s new title, Duke of Midnight, the sixth and – in my opinion – best of the ‘Maiden Lane’ books. It features protagonists, Maximus, Duke of Wakefield by day, Ghost of St Giles at night, and Artemis Greaves, a lady’s companion, struggling to survive, while endeavouring to free her … Continue readings

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In a time of quite frequently over-complicated plots, with subplots and substrands in hundreds of thousands of words, it’s refreshing to read a good old-fashioned feel-good romance, in which girl meets boy, girl likes boy, boy likes girl – and they live happy ever after. A garish bridesmaid dress, a Bridezilla and a plane, train … Continue readings

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  The mass nodding by staff in a meeting, when the boss says something that no one understands. Mmm … familiar.          

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  A word of several meanings (love those kind of words): a. a male goose (‘what’s good for the goose…’) – no b. a ‘ninny’ – also love this word as it’s affectionate condescension at its best, but … no c. town in Newfoundland, Canada – spent six months in NL and … NO! In … Continue readings

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  To stride around looking busy, when in fact you are doing nothing. Also: (n) a niggardly or miserly fellow.   As the internet is a wonderful thing, TLS also stumbled across this alternative definition: ‘Snudge: 
 The inner glow that heterosexual men feel toward each other after a carton of beer. Touching is optional.
 … Continue readings

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  The fear of being tickled by feathers. Also known as ‘feather ticking phobia’ Why?
’ … the fear of being tickled with feathers may not actually be a fear of feathers, but the experience they represent. The sight of the feather can transport you to a time and place where you felt you had no … Continue readings

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  Believe it or not, ‘petrichor’ is a word for that gorgeous sweet smell that occurs as the first rains hit parched earth. How lovely is that?          

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  A particularly noisy or heated argument, brawl or fracas. A scene of uproar and disorder; a riotous or uproarious meeting.   Derivation: 
 In 1204, King John granted Donnybrook, a district of Dublin (today in Ireland), the right to hold a public fair. Usually held from 26 August for about 15 days, the fair … Continue readings