Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Happy Birthday to Us!


Vulpes Libris is one year old today!

Time flies! The first post appeared on Vulpes Libris on the 18th October 2007 and was by Leena, our esteemed and sorely missed leader. So, in honour of our birthday we thought we’d each pick a few of our favourite pieces from the past year to share and give you a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at the last 365 days.

We’ve chosen a few of our favourite Leena Posts…

decencydisorder Decency & Disorder by Ben Wilson.To represent what must be Leena’s great love of all things 18th century we have chosen this big meaty review of Decency and Disorder by Ben Wilson: “one of the most exciting and engaging works of history…(Leena has)…ever read”. How did the bawdy and rambunctious Georgians turn into decidedly un-bawdy and decorous Victorians? Read Leena’s review to find out. deathmaiden Death and the Maidens: Fanny Wollstonecraft and the Shelley Circle by Janet Todd.Leena: “Without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read this year”
We had to choose this one: Leena’s review of Death and The Maidens by Janet Todd, about Mary Wollstonecraft’s illegitimate daughter, Fanny.
enthusiasm Interview with Polly Shulman.
To represent Leena’s other great love: Young Adult Fiction, we have picked out her thoughtful interview with YA writer, Polly Shulman, author of Enthusiasm.

Lisa’s pick…

9781848090415 A Season of Leaves by Catherine Law was my favourite historical novel of 2008. Set in 1940s Cornwall and Prague, the novel sensitively considers the realities of love in a war zone. featherman Feather Man by Rhyll McMaster topped my literary fiction list. Feather Man is an unflinching look at the life of a young woman who gravitates towards those who will hurt her.
*Spread the Word has listed Feather Man in its World Book Day Top 50*
admabrooke A Dangerous Man by Anne Brooke I nominate for best thriller. One of the most gripping books I have ever read, A Dangerous Man is the story of Michael, a struggling young artist and part-time rent boy who strives for success at any price.

Trilby’s favourites…

parisreview The Paris Review Interviews, vol. II, Philip Gourevitch (ed.) A fascinating insight into the writing process, with interviews from some of the twentieth century’s leading authors. The unobtrusive technique means that each piece reads like a direct transcript. Compulsive reading. the-frozen-thames The Frozen Thames, by Helen Humphreys
A beautiful little book, made up of vignettes just short enough for excellent bedside reading. Spare but elegant writing tells the tales of those who were there when the Thames froze.
sorrowbelgium The Sorrow of Belgium, by Hugo Claus
A semi-autobiographical account of one boy’s experiences in Flanders leading up to the Second World War, from one of Belgium’s most treasured writers. We mourned Claus’ passing earlier this year: he will be missed.


tfox_r12 Over the past 12 months Vulpes Libris has published 340 posts.  There have been 3,730 comments, from fellow bloggers, from authors, from readers, from critics and from passing Black Boxers. (This does not include the thousands of viagra sales people, the hundreds of men with size issues and plethora of naked women desperate to share their experience with us.) We’ve been linked to by Neil Gaiman (!), Darren Shan, Anthony Horowitz, The Guardian Blog, CNN, … and numerous incredible people in the blog world.  And if you Google “Vulpes Libris” you get 17,900 results!
Last month saw us pass the 100,000 visitor mark at which point we all opened the champagne and had a party.  The ensuing hangover however, saw many of us dumb-struck, intimidated and too petrified to post.

Moira’s Choice…

ted hugesThe Letters of Ted Hughes, selected and edited by Christopher Reid. Coincidentally, my very first review on Vulpes … and still one of my favourite books. It cast almost as much new light on Hughes as did his own “Birthday Letters”. An intriguing glimpse into the life and mind of a very private man. LongDeliriousBurningBlueThe Long Delirious Burning Blue by Sharon Blackie.
The first modern fiction book I’d read in years … and what a way to start – a piece of good, old-fashioned story-telling with terrific characterizations, an overwhelming sense of place and a big heart. A incredibly good debut novel.
forgotten-dead-cover-shotThe Forgotten Dead by Ken Small and Mark Rogerson.
Other people’s obsessions are always fascinating. This account of Ken Small’s single-minded tenacity in uncovering the details of exactly what happened at Slapton Sands in the Spring of 1944 is no exception.

Jackie’s favourites…

impressionists roeThe Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe gives a background to those beautiful paintings; not only the artists’ lives, but also the times they lived in are painted in vivid strokes. mathematics emma The Mathematics of Love by Emma Darwin is historical fiction at its best. The symbols, layers and events of this dual story; one modern, one Napoleonic, lingers long after the book is finished. rat Rat:How the World’s Most Notorious Rodent Clawed Its way to the Top by Jerry Langton is a fascinating look at one of the most misunderstood animals on earth.

Kirsty’s pick…

kollontai1938 I greatly enjoyed revisiting Alexandra Kollontai’s Red Love, an unusual – and insightful – novel by one of the most controversial women in modern history. mayakovsky1 Vladimir Mayakovsky’s poetry for children is utterly charming and utterly difficult… especially for the potential translator. Going back to these poems is always a delight and I was very pleased to be able to write about them for Vulpes. joker And finally, this may be cheating, but the article I most enjoyed writing for Vulpes was about a number of stories in several media. Getting to grips with the Joker.


The past year has seen a fair bit of whooping in the den over the various name checks, links and achievements. We’ve also had some late nights, some fights and an enormous amotfox_j11unt of laughs. Some high points include: CNN linking to Jackie’s review of The Ghost With Trembling Wings, Robert McCrum calling us “highly responsible” in The Observer (fortunately, that was before one of our guest reviewers came up with the world’s most tasteless pun … and no, we’re not telling you where it is), Lisa’s Fox in the City going postal around the Blogosphere, the night Kirsty and Eve stayed up late to post the Darren Shan piece. There has been much excitement when Moira has somehow managed to rustle up a celebrity: Harry Enfield, Jay Benedict and Edward Petherbridge (we suspect she leads a double life).  Rosy and Eve had a cup of coffee in Julia Donaldson’s kitchen, which was fantastic.
Richard III week caused huge fights, poor Kirsty’s had more than her fair share of arguments and spam and the Classical Comics piece didn’t escape unharmed.  Rosy and Lisa’s interview with Scott Pack was hilarious, as was their video fight over Jude The Obscure. We loved Kirsty’s April Fools piece (who didn’t get it?), we’re proud to have paved the way in three-way-interviewing and we are always delighted to see so many authors (particularly the lovely teen ones!) popping by to comment. There are just far too many high points to note them all, but there is always a ton of high-fiving in the den at every one.

Rosy’s faves…

borderliners Borderliners by Peter Høeg. This is a cheat as it was already one of my all-time favourite books before I reviewed it for Vulpes. About three damaged children on the borderline of society, it is simply one of the most moving books I’ve ever read. gents Gents by Warwick Collins. A tiny book of big themes, Gents deals with three immigrant toilet attendants and their attitudes and tolerance (or not) towards the cottagers who use the public convenience for other purposes. A book about tolerance with a realistic edge, this is a clever, controlled and strangely charming book full of humour and humanity. hearts-and-minds Hearts and Minds by Rosy Thornton. Sometimes a book comes along at just the right time. This book came along at just the right time for me – a time where I felt quite stressed and down. A warm comforting duvet of a book that puts the kettle on and gives you a backrub at the same time, but not sickly sweet or sentimental – looking clearly at the issue of politics in the college and the domestic sphere with irony and realism. I did have a few quibbles, but it is still one of the reading experiences I most enjoyed this year.

Emily’s choice…

n161612 Becoming Bindy MacKenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty.
Funny, thoughtful, clever YA fiction that made me remember being fifteen like it was yesterday – which is no mean feat.
bcareer My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin
Plenty of melodrama and extravagant prose, but so fitting, in this tale of a brave and stubborn young girl living in the Australian outback. First published in 1901.
26692986 A Vengeful Longing by Roger Morris
I didn’t even realise that Historical Crime Fiction was my cup of tea until I discovered this series, which was inspired by a character in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. An elegant page-turner.

Eve’s best bits…

crash Crash by J.A. Henderson.  This was just one of those books that grabbed you and pulled you through.  It was an irresistible read that has stuck in my mind long after I’d put it down.  My ultimate sticky book! 51zkgasJWOL._SS500_ Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray.  I loved the interaction between the boys in this book.  It was such a wonderfully crafted tale of friendship.  It was not only a physical journey but an emotional one.  I found it heart-warming, exhilarating and unputdownable. Print Interview with Katherine Naish of Barrington Stoke.  This is the interview I’m most proud of doing.  Barrington Stoke is an amazing publisher with such an important function in the literary world.  I hope everyone is still out there with their loudhailers.


To finish off we thought it would be amusing if we shared some of the search terms used by people who landed on Vulpes Libris. A number of them have caused us a lot of distress… for instance the time sotfox_l11meone was trying to discover how long a rat could hold its breath under water – we were very close to calling the RSPCA. And we’re all very concerned about the 42 women out there searching for : How to kill your husband… don’t do it, it’s not worth it!  We also had a heart-rending search by some poor child: Should children be made to keep still? We were all shouting no! no! no! from the den (except Moira, who seemed to think the idea had some merit …). Other classics include : Gigantic Manga Breasts, Mushroom Costume, Bunnies Typing Essays and our all time favourite, Pictures of Susan Hill Naked. Our top two search terms are a total bewilderment, since it would be difficult to find two more diverse subjects… (disregarding Vulpes Libris) at number one is Victoria Plum which only beats the number two spot Trotsky by a smidgen.



The foxes would like to say a huge thank you to every single one of you out there; every reader, every commenter, every linker, every fellow blogger. Without you, our stats wouldn’t be worth the constant monitoring, the comment boxes would remain empty and devoid of emotive discussion, the den would be stressless  and whoopless. Without the support, encouragement and general cheering on of everyone in the blogging community (and out with it!) this past year would have been far less eventful, gratifying and way less fun. To you all we raise a glass and say “CHEERS!”… here’s to the next 365 days!

(Can we say a particularly huge thank you to JP aka The Amateur Book Blogger on The View From Here for the fantabulous fox pictures, they are completely stunning!)

24 comments on “Happy Birthday to Us!

  1. Lisa
    October 18, 2008

    Thanks for putting this together, Eve. It looks splendid!!!

    It was very hard to pick just three favourite books. I would have liked six so that I could have included Laura Dave’s “The Divorce Party”, Luisa Plaja’s “Split by a Kiss” and Stona Fitch’s “Senseless”.

    Oh and then there’s Doug Johnstone’s “The Ossians” and “Vanessa and Virginia” by Susan Sellers. Gosh, it’s been non-stop brilliance in the reading department this year, and big thanks to the VL team for getting me away from my computer and TV and encouraging me to read all of them.

    Happy Birthday, folks! 🙂

  2. Linda
    October 18, 2008

    Happy Birthday, indeed! I found Vulpes Libris when the historical fiction forum linked about Richard III week. Being a big Richard III fan, I read each day’s post with much interest, made your blog one of my favorites, and I’ve checked you out regularly ever since. Thanks for everything!!

  3. Vanessa
    October 18, 2008

    Happy birthday Foxes!

  4. Sharon Blackie
    October 18, 2008

    So lovely to be picked as a book of the year … thanks, Moira … but also wanted to say that this is my favourite book reviewing blog by quite a long way. You have a really unique and winning format – you’re never ever dull, and the fact that there is a group of you with different reading habits makes for a much sparkier and more varied read. I can’t believe you’ve only been going a year. You must all put so much work into this … but please keep it going. This is one of only two book blogs that I check every day – for pure pleasure alone (the other is ‘occasional bookfox’ Emma’s – so I guess there’s a trend here!)

  5. kimbofo
    October 18, 2008

    Very happy birthday foxes — and may there be many more to come!! Congrats on all you’ve achieved this past year.

  6. Peta
    October 18, 2008

    Wishing you all a very happy first birthday indeed! Thanks for the huge amount of effort that you all put in to make this a very enjoyable place to visit.

  7. Anne Brooke
    October 18, 2008

    Happy birthday, VL!!!! Hope you’re already squiffy by now, all of you! And thank you hugely to Lisa for nominating A Dangerous Man as her best thriller – that’s made my day!



  8. Ceri Evans
    October 18, 2008

    Happy birthday Vulpes Libris. One of my favourite book blogs, keep up the good work!

  9. Jackie
    October 18, 2008

    This was a fun read, it was great seeing what the other foxes selected as faves. I also laughed at the roundup of inbetweeny bits. And the ink drawings of the fox are lovely, I like how the artist puts a dark sky behind the trees, it gives a greater feel of deep forest.
    Happy Birthday VL!
    It’s been a privilege to have been a fox this year.

  10. Nik
    October 18, 2008

    Happy birthday – many happy returns!


  11. JP
    October 18, 2008

    Happy Birthday – Pennblodh Lowen – Herzlichen Glueckwunsch zum Geburtstag!
    Wishing you every success in the coming year.

    Thanks for the kind comments – you’re very welcome!

  12. Kari
    October 19, 2008

    Happy birthday! I’m glad Kirsty introduced me to this blog; I keep sending people here. May the Foxes review Books as beautifully this year as they did last…

  13. Marg
    October 19, 2008

    Happy Blogiversary! I have only discovered you relatively recently, but I love reading your content! Here’s to the next twelve months!

  14. Patty
    October 19, 2008

    Happy Birthday foxes!

  15. Rosy Thornton
    October 19, 2008

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY and congratulations on all your success. May Year Two bring even greater glories! (And thanks so much, Rosy B, for the mention of my book!)

  16. RosyB
    October 19, 2008

    Oh brilliant brilliant piece Eve. You had me in stitches. And I’m in awe at your technical brilliance in formatting all those boxes. It’s as much as I can do to add a picture.

    Great year. What I like best about Vulpes is the way despite us all regularly disagreeing with each other about pretty well nearly everything that we still manage to work together and treat each other with enormous respect. I think the other foxes are all pretty special for this and for the professional and committed way they work on the site. It’s been an honour to work with you, fellow vulpines! All power to your blogging paws!

    Those search terms are brilliant. The time that Victoria Plum was linked to by The Sweeney fan forum was one of my abiding memories. Mushroom costume is a continuing favourite. If the mushroom costume reader is there I’d love to hear how you got on.

  17. Luisa
    October 19, 2008

    Happy birthday!

  18. KeithGray
    October 19, 2008

    Happy Birthday. The world of book lovers would be poorer without you.

  19. Sam
    October 19, 2008


    Sam x

  20. Poppy
    October 19, 2008

    Happy birthday, Foxies!!

  21. Eve
    October 19, 2008

    Oh what lovely birthday wishes… thank you to everyone 🙂 (It was no trouble to do and with Live Writer it was a sinch to put together… the foxes will know what a LW pusher I am!)

    I totally agree that we are such a diverse bunch that the odds are really stacked against us getting along… and yet we do! Famously! I have a feeling that it’s due to our shared love of books and that seems to be a calming influence on us all 😉

    Here’s to many more birthday posts and three cheers for all our readers… hip hip… 🙂

  22. Emma Darwin
    October 19, 2008

    Slinking over from my own little itchy den to say


    It really is a huge achievement, and I know, having access behind the scenes, just how much of it is due to Leena’s amazing hard work and erudition, and then to the wonderfully supportive and vigorously individual Vulpine team.

    I’ve been dreadfully occasional as a fox lately – I blame Richard III, personally – but very thrilled to see The Mathematics of Love in Jackie’s top picks. I’m vowing be a Better Fox as soon as A Secret Alchemy is launched and the PhD safely stowed. And I do drop in to see what’s going on on the site.

    Also deeply grateful for the opportunity to have my say about Antonia Forest, who doesn’t get enough said about her, and Georgette Heyer, who gets a lot said about her, much of it wrong.



  23. Pingback: Always Rushing « Rosyb’s Weblog

  24. Ariadne
    October 20, 2008

    I am so proud of you all! Happy, happy birthday. You’ve made your mark so quickly and so impressively. Here’s to many more years!

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This entry was posted on October 18, 2008 by in Special Features and tagged , , , , .



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