I’m Back

After nearly 2 years taking a break from this project, I’m back.

Stay tuned for more reviews book lovers, let’s get reading.


A Break from the BBC Top 100

Okay so I know I’m not exactly the worlds greatest blogger but 99 of you like what I do enough to hang around and that makes me very happy so thank you! This week is the one year anniversary of Bernie and Books which has gone much quicker than I expected. In that time I have posted 105 times read 37 books 18 of which are from the BBC Top 100 and I now have only 37 more to go wooh!

But, as with most things life is about to get in the way. I am starting research for my dissertation which of course involves an awful lot of reading. As a result I don’t know how much time I am going to have to read anything other than books about 16th Century women’s dress. Now I really hope I will be able to keep up reading for pleasure but it isn’t looking very likely as I am up to my eyeballs already in biographies of Renaissance Queens. Now if that’s your sort of thing I will probably be posting the reviews of those books here at Bernie and Books for you to peruse at your leisure but there is probably going to be a substantial break in BBC Top 100 post.

I am hoping to keep up blogging as a whole as I really enjoy being a part of this community of book lovers so I hopefully will speak to you again soon but I am really very sorry if this next year isn’t as exciting as the last.

All the best and here’s to another year full of books for us all,

Claudia x


Thoughts from Swindon Bus Station

As I write this I am sat an a slanted bench, designed to discourage rough sleeping, in the notoriously drab town of Swindon. Now of the 15 minutes experience I have had of this town so far I would say not a lot really except it feels “modern”. I come from a place mentioned in the Domesday book that has remained virtually unchanged since the Second World War and perhaps would have looked the same in 1866 as 1066. Therefore, I have always found towns like Swindon utterly uninspiring.

However, sitting here at the highly practical, conveniently placed bus station I am starting to have rather profound feelings about the place. This town has the uniformity and logical feel of a lot of post war spaces. Concrete 60s architecture prevails despite many noticeable attempts at modernisation. These things have a result of a rather tragic air and as I sit on my slanted bench I have started to realise why. When Swindon was designed it was designed with hope, with aspirations for the future of Britain. This was what we wanted Britain to be. People looked to the future and tried their hardest to create a world where life would be easier for us all.

The result…. I’m not so sure. The truth is I feel bad that so many people’s work and passion is now viewed as mundane, lacking imagination, drab. As with a lot of attempts at a modern look it has dated terribly like shoulder pads and perms. It feels as if it lacks character. But does it? Surely the story of the people who conveniently placed the bus station next to the train station is just as worthy of being told as the stories of roof thatchers and “the old post office mews”? Will concrete one day be slate roofs and bus stations village squares?

Anyway, my bus is here.


‘Brass’ – A New Musical

I know this isn’t book related in anyway but I am hoping you will bear with me and let me talk about something I am really proud of.

Copyright Matt Hargraves

Photo Credit Matt Hargraves

Last summer I worked on a new musical by composer Benjamin Till with a British theatre company called National Youth Music Theatre or NYMT. The musical tells the story of a Leeds brass band that all sign up to fight in the First World War together. This story is unique as it also follows the women that the men leave behind as they go to work in the Barnbow munitions factory. IMG_20150603_124104[1]

The experience of working on this show is one of the greatest of my entire life. I love this show. I love the people who worked on it, I love the design and I love the songs. I know I am biased but the music is just breath taking and beautiful. But the show was only on for a week in a music hall in Leeds. The very music hall where a lot of the Leeds pals battalion actually signed up. It is deeply moving and poignant but only a few people managed to see the show. Luckily that included some very important critics because the show went on to win the UK Theatre Award for Best Musical Production.

BUT ALL THAT CHANGES TODAY. Because now, today, the original cast recording is available to buy! I can’t believe it this is such an incredible achievement for everyone involved and I am so proud to be a tiny part of it. I even get a mention on the inside sleeve! IMG_20150603_123931[1]

So I understand that it is highly unlikely any of you will actually be interest in buying a copy of the album. Don’t worry all I ask is that you check out the music videos we made to accompany the release. Like the show I was able to help with costumes so look out for my name in the credits. The first song, ‘Billy Whistle’ the pals sing as a bit of light relief whilst in the trenches. But the second song is a more emotional number. I hope you enjoy them even if musical theatre makes your skin crawl. ‘Brass’ is a tribute to all the men and women of Leeds for the sacrifices they made during World War One and it has been my privilege to help share their story.

Just in case the album grabs your fancy 😉 :




Ebooks <3 Busy People

You know that feeling when you’re half way through a show and all you can think about is Edwardian bloomers? No? Admittedly my life is pretty strange in that respect but I know that I am not alone in leading a life that leaves little room for ‘me time’. I can barely stay on top of the business of getting through a day and then there is the added pressure of household chores, shopping, cleaning, cooking. Somehow in the middle of all of this for the sake of my sanity I have to find time to for me.

Being quite a solitary person it can be a bit awkward to say to people, “Look I’m sorry I just have to be by myself”. I love to chat and I love living with my friends but I still need to be left with my own thoughts. Most of the time I implement this through reading. I am sure you all know the joy of disappearing from yourself for a little while and thinking exclusively of another world. But right now I hardly have time for that. If ever I do get time to myself I open a book only to stare at the pages for 5 minutes before closing it again. The frantic nature of my life has disturbed the quite places of my mind so that any moment of stillness resonates with the absence of all the things I ought to be doing.

I have however, come to a sort of solution. For a long time now I have had a Kindle and so am by no means new to ebooks. However, I did recently get a new phone and the bigger screen has opened up a world of reading where I least expected it. I first came to this discovery when I was stuck on a train with nothing to read. At the time I was slogging my way through Bleak House and I found that I could download the ebook, for free, straight to my phone. This discovery has greatly changed my life and the way I read so I thought I would share some of my favourite things about ebooks with you.

Easy to Carry. You know that dilemma of “I have nearly finished my book should I take another one with me?”. Going on holiday and worried that you might finish your book on the plane out and then have nothing to read for the rest of the week? With ebooks this isn’t a problem. Take as many books as you like on one device. If you finish all of those? Just download some more (wi-fi permitting).

Free Books. Yes you heard me free books. A lot of classics or books in the public domain are available for free. That means you can download as many as you like and still stick to your book buying ban.

Protect your Precious Hardbacks. The other bonus of getting classics for free is you can own a physical copy in whichever beautiful edition takes your fancy, read that copy at home where it is safe from being left on the train or dropped in the gutter, then read the free ebook in whichever moments you can grab.

Make the Text Bigger. This one is perhaps a little more niche than the others but I love that I can adjust the font size on my Kindle. I am slightly dyslexic and being able to make the font bigger has made reading so much easier. As a result I read faster and with greater understanding and I don’t care if anyone is judging me when they peer over my shoulder.

Read Everywhere. Having ebooks on my phone is great because I take it everywhere with me anyway. No bulky paperbacks. No extra Kindle. Just the things I was going to take with me anyway. This means I ALWAYS have a book on me no matter what and as a result, I read when every the moment permits. Waiting for the bus. Read. Waiting in the dentists. Read. On the underground and want to avoid awkwardly staring at the person opposite. Read. The added bonus of being able to read in these otherwise wasted moments is that I am finally able to grab some precious escapism, free from that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. In those moments I couldn’t possibly be doing any of the many things on my to do list and with that knowledge I can finally leave the real world behind me.

I know that people say that ebooks have none of the magic of physical books and I agree. However, for me the act of reading is magical in itself, no matter how you do it. I still love physical books with their sense of wonder and beauty but ebooks have won me over with their practicality. I love that I can have the best of both worlds. Ebooks have enabled me to read more and I am grateful for that.


My Top 5 Booktubers

As previously mentioned new things are happening here on Bernie and Books. I thought I would start by giving the people what they want. This post was suggested by emilinamar so thanks very much for that I hope you like it.

Now for those of you who don’t know what a Booktuber is, here is a brief explanation:

Booktuber: Noun, bʊk:tjuː.bər – A person who makes videos about books on Youtube.

Simple enough really. Booktube is a wonderful place where you can get excited about books and nobody will judge you. It’s kind of like Booklr in video form. Now these are my top 5 Booktubers but I am always on the look out for new channels to watch so let me know about your favourites in the comments.

5. polandbananaBOOKS

Now YA isn’t my thing so a lot of the books Christina or Xtina talks about I haven’t read, but you know what I really don’t care because she’s so funny. A lot of Booktubers talk very seriously about the ins and outs of a book but Xtina is just all about the laughs. She isn’t afraid to be ridiculous when it comes to books and I like that because if I’m honest, I have jumped up and down and made ridiculous noises when a book I’ve been waiting for arrives in the post. It’s really nice to get to see that other people do that aswell.

4. The Readables

The Readables or Priscilla has such high production value her videos are always beautiful to watch. She does these really cute little animations and graphics that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I also love that she covers a wide range of topics through her Top 5 Wednesday series and reads a wide range of books including graphic novels. She also talk about TV and film and the like which sometimes makes a nice change from books, books, books.

3. ItsWayPastMyBedtime 

Okay technically Carrie Hope Fletcher is more than just a Booktuber but I love her channel and she talks about books so she’s on my list. If you’re into reading, musicals, disney or tea Carrie’s your girl. She just wrote a non-fiction book herself which is pretty cool and if you are interested in theatre, like me, her vlogs from backstage at her job as Eponine in Les Miserables in the West End are fascinating.

2. JeanBookishthoughts 

What I love about Jean is the way her videos are slightly more ‘homemade’ than some of the others. She films on her iPhone, her editing is simple and her lighting nothing special. This is just a girl in her bedroom who is passionate about books so talks about them on the internet for our enjoyment. She talks much slower than a lot of vloggers which is so good, sometimes I watch youtube videos and end up completely stressed because of the speed the person has been talking. Jean takes things slow, she pauses for breathe and I have time to think about what she says.

And finally *drum roll*

1. booksandquills

Sanne aka booksandquills is the Booktuber that started it all for me and so she claims top spot on my list. She loves costume dramas (tick), classics (tick) and works in publishing. Originally from the Netherlands she now lives in London and I basically wish my life was like hers. *sigh*. Anyway she does a mixture of reviews, tags, hauls, collaborations and visits to bookish locations. She reads a wide range of books and everything she makes is beautiful. I really suggest you check out her channel I promise there is something for everyone.

So there we have it. My Top 5 Booktubers. Let me know what you think of my favourites and please suggest some of yours for me to watch. If there is anything I need in my life right now it’s more ways to procrastinate!


Versatile Blogger Award

Boom. How cool is that I got nominated for an award! Thanks very much to cup of tea with that book, please for nominating me. I often find it really weird that there are people out there reading my little corner of the internet so this is an amazing surprise and has really inspired me to keep blogging.

So in case you don’t know here are the rules:

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Pretty straight forward really. But then I started thinking about who I would want to nominate. A quick bit of searching and I found that almost everyone I had thought of had already been nominated, sometimes even more than once! Seeing as I am still kind of new here I didn’t want to pester anyone a lot more established than me. So I have come up with a plan. Rather than nominate the blogs I follow now, I am going to save my nominations for when I discover a new blog, perhaps one that is just starting out and would be really encouraged by getting the award.

I have no issues with the 7 facts bit so here we go:

7 Facts about Bernie and Books:

  1. I am currently at drama school in London studying Costume Production. That means I make clothes that people wear in the theatre, from budgeting and fabric buying to washing them between shows.
  2. I love rabbits. My current life goal is to own a house rabbit.
  3. I am wheat-intolerant which makes eating out a roller-coaster ride of “am I going to poop my pants?” (so far this has always been avoid but the struggle is real).
  4. My New Year’s Resolution for 2015 was to reduce my carbon footprint and have been transitioning to a “Zero Waste” lifestyle. (Side note, this is incredibly hard, much more than I expected and requires much more, time, energy and money than I actually have.)
  5. I am a big Star Wars fan.
  6. Beside reading, my other main hobby is knitting for charity and have sent garments all over the word including to refugees in Syria.
  7. My love of reading stems from a period of my life when I was devastatingly ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was so ill I lost my ability to read completely. That was 4 years ago now and although I will never recover from the Chronic Fatigue I now have the comfort of books again.

So there we have it. You know a little bit more about me. I would love it if you could comment with some facts about yourselves lovely readers so that I can get to know you a bit better as well. In the mean time I have just finished Brave New World by Aldous Huxley so I should probably write a review.

All the best, Claudia x