Drawing Blood, Drawing Poison, Drawing Fire: a new digital project for Gladstone’s and Aura Libraries

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Aura Leisure and Libraries are excited to announce our participation in a new digital project with Gladstone Library in 2021. Funded by the Arts Council and led by artist Simon Grennan, ‘Drawing Blood’ will create a new online exhibition of twenty new, original animated artworks. Hosted by Gladstone’s Library, the online exhibition will also be available at Contemporary Art Space Chester and at Aura libraries in North Wales, including Broughton, Buckley, Mold, Holywell, Connah’s Quay and Flint.

The new artworks are inspired by a book Grennan found in the Gladstone’s Library collections. Dating from 1878, Gladstone from Judy’s Point of View collects cartoons satirising one of the hot topics of the period – liberal political opinion. As one of the major Liberal politicians, William Ewart Gladstone is often in the firing line of Judy’s cartoonists. In the tradition of political artists everywhere their pens puncture any political pomposity, drawing Gladstone (and others) not as respected statesman but as wobbly juggler, unstable acrobat, indecisive whirligig, pram-pushing lady, and many more.

An expert in nineteenth-century cartoons and art, who has published several books on the work of Judy cartoonist Marie Duval, Grennan knows well the quality and humour of the artworks. In his redrawing and reimagining the work of Judy’s Victorian cartoonists, Grennan will help us all to get to know the work of some of the most skilled, but not well known, artists of the period. Digital technology means that not only will more people experience the new artworks online, but the drawings themselves will be able to come alive in the way that the Victorian originals (already full of life!) never could.

The exhibition is supported by a series of online drawing workshops, inspired by the exhibition, where anyone can learn to start drawing cartoons. Anyone can have a go, whether they have lots of experience in drawing, or none at all. What can we learn about these Victorian cartoonists, and the way they used class, gender, sexuality, and colonialism to humorously critique their politicians? How can we bring this to our own drawing, and our own time?

Simon Grennan is part of the international visual arts studio Grennan & Sperandio, producer of over 40 comics and books and hundreds of public projects. He is Leading Research Fellow at the University of Chester.

Gladstone’s Library is a residential library that houses one of the world’s most significant nineteenth-century collections. Founded by Victorian Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, the Library remains a space for study, discussion and reflection.

Contemporary Art Space Chester is a range of pop-up and permanent exhibition spaces in and around the University of Chester and the city of Chester, including the Foyer Gallery at Creative Campus Kingsway and the Forum Shopping Centre Gallery in the heart of the city.

For further information about ‘Drawing Blood’, please visit Gladstone’s Library’s Digital Gladstone pages.

Aura Libraries’ Author of the Month: January 2021!

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Our January 2021 Author of the Month is: Peter Swanson

American author Peter Swanson is best known for his crime and suspense novels which have propelled him into the contemporary thriller genre in recent years. Layered with suspense and brilliantly clever, each and every one of Peter Swanson’s books will grip you from start to finish!

Whether you are discovering his books for the very first time, or revisiting some of his best known and loved titles, we have put together a small reading list to set you off on an Peter Swanson adventure! Enjoy!

Where it all began…
The Girl With a Clock for a Heart (2014)

The game changers…
The Kind Worth Killing (2015)
Her Every Fear (2017)

Most recently…
Before She Knew Him (2019)

Aura Libraries top recommendation…
Eight Perfect Murders (2020): A homage to the crime fiction genre in more ways than you’d expect; it is the perfect read for any lover of classic crime novels.

What is your favourite Peter Swanson novel? Let us know what you think of our choices or which ones you would have chosen! Leave a comment below or get in touch on Twitter (@LibFlintshire) and Facebook (@LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries)
To view our previous Author of the Month, click here!

Joyful Christmas Reading Recommendations from Aura Libraries!

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There is something about reading a book at Christmas time that is especially heart-warming. Whilst the chestnuts are roasting and the weather outside is most certainly frightful, why not curl up on the sofa with a brilliant book, mince pie and perhaps even a glass of mulled wine. To give you some inspiration, we have put together a reading list of joyful Christmas reading recommendations for you to enjoy.

Whether you are looking for stories to share with the family, recipes to spice up your Christmas menu, or handy hints and tips for creating some extra special gifts, our libraries will have the book for you!

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon
The Twelve Birds of Christmas by Stephen Moss

Recipe book recommendation:
Christmas with Kim-Joy: a festive collection of edible cuteness by Kim-Joy
Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection by Mary Berry

Hoff Gerddi Nadolig Cymru by Bethan Mair
Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope

Christmas Craft:
Supercraft Christmas by Sophie Pester

For younger readers:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis
A boy called Christmas by Matt Haig
Anrheg Nadolig Taid/ Grandpa Christmas by Michael Morpurgo
Stick Man by Julia Donaldson

Aura Libraries’ top recommendation: Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson

Whatever you’re reading this festive season, Aura Libraries wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The best books released in 2020 ranked by Aura Libraries!

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We may be a little biased, but here at Aura Libraries, we know just how important a good book can be to lift your spirit and brighten your week: especially during difficult and overwhelming times such as these. One very positive thing to come out of 2020 is the fabulous array of books, poetry collections and short stories that have been written and shared with the world.

We have compiled a list of our top 10 books to have been released in 2020! All of the below titles are wonderful in their own ways, and have certainly helped readers to feel hopeful and positive for the future.

10. The Searcher by Tana French

9. Apeirogon by Colum McCann

8. Summer by Ali Smith

7.The Motion of the Body Through Space by Lionel Shriver

6.Real Life by Brandon Taylor

5.Weather by Jenny Offill

4.The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel

3.The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

2.Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

1.Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

All of the above titles are available to borrow either from our libraries or as e-books or audiobooks on Borrowbox!

We want to hear from you! What have been your favourite books this year? Share your thoughts with us on social media! Find us on Facebook: @LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries Twitter: @LibFlintshire and Instagram @aura.wales

Let’s hope that 2021 brings lots more fantastic books. Remember, we are always #UnitedByBooks!

The Aura Advent Calendar: 12 Days of Wellbeing!

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With the festive season upon us, we have put together our very own Aura Advent Calendar, bringing together 12 well-being tips to inspire and encourage our members. Hopefully our top well-being tips will leave you feeling refreshed and energised, ready for a new year!

  1. Try a Studio Cycling Class at Mold, Flint or Buckley Leisure Centre: they run at different times throughout the week and are a brilliant way to exercise your whole body. Click here to view our fitness class timetable.
  2. Ask your librarian for a book recommendation based on the types of interests you have, they’ll be sure to help you find something that’s right up your street. It might end up being your new favourite book!
  3. Even with a healthy diet and lots of exercise, winter can still catch up with us! Take a trip to Afon Spa’s Pop Up Beauty Room based at Jade Jones Pavilion Flint for a warming pick me up. Treat yourself to a treatment, whether it’s your nails or a massage, the Pop Up Beauty Room is the perfect place to destress.
  4. Ask one of our fitness instructors to recommend a fitness class or new piece of equipment to challenge you as you work towards new fitness goals.
  5. Take up a Tai Chi Movements class at Jade Jones Pavilion or from home on Zoom. It is a group based class that uses slow, smooth body movements to relax both body and mind. It can also help to improve flexibility, balance control and fitness.
  6. Try something new! Why not join our ‘Reading Friends’ shared reading group via Zoom, where we get together to socialise and share reading recommendations. (For more information, visit the Aura Libraries Facebook page: @LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries or email Susannah.hill@aura.wales )
  7. Mix up your midweek! Come along to an Aquafit, Yoga or Abs class at Jade Jones Pavilion Flint.
  8. Wind down after a busy day with one of Afon Spa’s homemade Aromatherapy massage oil blends, or explore the Spa’s range of beautiful Buddha Beauty products, available at the Afon Spa Pop Up Beauty Room.
  9. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise: come along to an Aqua Fit session at Buckley Leisure Centre or a Family Pod swimming session at Jade Jones Pavilion Flint.
  10. Book a 1-2-1 personal fitness session with our qualified, friendly and professional fitness instructors to make sure you are on track to reach your fitness goals.
  11. Pilates is the perfect class if you are looking to improve your flexibility and strengthen your body: try a Pilates class at Buckley or Mold Leisure Centre!
  12. Listening to an audiobook is the perfect way to unwind after a long day. As an Aura Library member you can access hundreds of different audiobooks! Find out more here.

Connect with us on social media and! Find us on Facebook: @walesaura Twitter: @aura_wales and Instagram: @aura.wales

Aura Libraries’ Author of the Month: December 2020!

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Our December 2020 Author of the Month is: Jeanette Winterson!

From novels to short stories and essays, time after time, Jeanette Winterson has dazzled readers with her writing and is certainly one of our most beloved authors here at Aura Libraries.

Whether you are discovering her books for the very first time, or revisiting some of her best known and loved titles, we have put together a small reading list to set you off on a Jeanette Winterson adventure! Enjoy!

Where it all began…
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985)
The Passion (1987)

The game changers…
Written On The Body (1992)
The Powerbook (2000)

A writer for all ages…
Tanglewreck (2006)
The Lion, The Unicorn and Me: The Donkey’s Christmas Story (2009)

More recently…
The Gap of Time (2015)
Frankissstein: A Love Story (2019)

Aura Libraries top recommendation…
Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days (2016): a perfect starting point to Jeanette Winterson, especially with Christmas on its way!

What is your favourite Jeanette Winterson novel? Let us know what you think of our choices or which ones you would have chosen! Leave a comment below or get in touch on Twitter (@LibFlintshire) and Facebook (@LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries)

To view our previous Author of the Month, click here!

Knock knock? 10 of the funniest books written this decade!

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With 2020 drawing to a close, Aura Libraries have put together a list of funny reading recommendations based off some of the most popular comedy books written over the past 10 years.

We hope that these reading recommendations make you laugh, keep you feeling positive, and put a smile on your face as we jump into a new decade where we can look forward to even more fabulously funny books!

I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron (2011)
Bossypants by Tina Fey (2011)
The Sellout by Paul Beatty (2016)

The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry (2016)
The Wangs vs The World by Jade Chang (2016)

Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sim (2017)
Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe (2019)
Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen (2019)

At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien (2019)
Grown Ups by Marian Keyes (2020)

We want to hear from you! What is your favourite funny book and what books would you include on your own list of humorous reading recommendations? Connect with us on social media by sending a message to @LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries on Facebook or @LibFlinshire on Twitter. Remember, we are always #UnitedByBooks!

Afon Spa Pop Up Beauty Room coming to Jade Jones Pavilion Flint

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Aura is pleased to announce the launch of Afon Spa’s Pop Up Beauty Room, based at Jade Jones Pavilion Flint.

Officially open from Wednesday 2 December, Afon Spa’s Pop Up Beauty Room will offer a variety of different spa treatments for customers including manicures, pedicures and gel nail treatments. A treatment room will also be available for the following:
• Waxing
• Lashes
• Tinting
• Brows
• Threading
• Electrolysis
• Reflexology
• Massages: Sports, Hot Stones, Aroma

Tracy Bevan, Afon Spa Team Leader, expressed her excitement on behalf of the whole team, saying: “It has been great to work with colleagues at Flint who have been very supportive. We have all worked so hard getting everything ready and it has been lovely to have the team back together. We are so excited to welcome back our customers, and hopefully meet new clients too.
Our clients have been so loyal and supportive over the past 8 months; we have received lovely messages offering good wishes to the team, and to let us know how much they are missing the Spa and the treatments we have to offer. We feel privileged to have such wonderful clients and we can’t wait to welcome them all back.”

Opening times are as follows:
Wednesday – Friday: 10.00am-7.00pm
Saturday: 10.00am-5.00pm

Our number one priority is the health and safety of our customers and employees. We would like to reassure our customers that the Spa, as with all Aura facilities, is following national guidelines to ensure we maintain a safe environment for everyone.

The Spa can be contacted by telephone on 01352 704280 or by email: afonspa@aura.wales You can also keep up to date with the Spa and connect with them online via the Afon Spa Facebook and Instagram pages.

We hope to see you soon!

Waves of Well-being: it’s never too late to learn how to swim!

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Here at Aura Leisure and Libraries, we believe that it is truly never too late to learn how to swim. Swimming should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age and that is why we want to encourage anyone who has not yet learnt to swim to come along to our adult swimming classes.

Catering for beginners, as well as those who wish to improve their technique, our adult swimming classes at the Jade Jones Pavilion Flint aim to encourage water confidence and to support anyone seeking well-being through swimming. The class currently takes place every Wednesday from 9.30-10.30am. For more information, please contact Wes Billings by emailing: wes.billings@aura.wales

Physical Benefits

Swimming uses all the muscles in the body and exercising in water makes your body work harder. As a result, 30 minutes in a swimming pool is worth 45 minutes of the same activity on land. In other words, swimming is a full body workout!
Swimming is also one of the most effective ways to burn calories. A gentle swim can burn over 200 calories in just half an hour, more than double that of walking.

Water supports up to 90% of the body’s weight; if you sprained an ankle at a football or netball session, or have a long term injury or illness, swimming is a brilliant way to stay active and help you towards improved fitness levels.
Inactivity is often responsible for people’s lack of energy, yet just 30 minutes of swimming three times a week can help to increase your energy levels and boost your mood.

Well-being for the Body and the Mind

Not only is swimming a brilliant way to exercise, but it can also help you to maintain a positive and healthy outlook: just 30 minutes of swimming three times a week, alongside a balanced and healthy diet, can help both your body and your mind to stay fit and healthy.
Regular trips to the swimming pool can lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve your sleep pattern. The benefits are endless!

Why is swimming so important?

We asked one of our wonderful Swimming Coordinators, Wes Billings, why he feels so passionately about teaching children and adults to swim, he said: “Swimming is a life skill that no other sport or hobby can offer. Not only is swimming an excellent way of keeping a high level of physical fitness, but it can also support your personal well-being. Being around water can be intimidating or frightening for non-swimmers, but it is never too late to learn and we are here to help. We offer swimming lessons from new born babies to adults of any age and ability. Aura take pride in offering swimming lessons to everyone and supporting the community to learn an important life skill. Swimming is a very inclusive sport or hobby and I encourage everyone to take part in aquatics and enjoy the health and well-being benefits that come along with it.

For more information, please get in touch with Wes Billings by emailing wes.billings@aura.wales
We hope to see you soon!

The best autumnal reads recommended by Aura Libraries!

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We’ve compiled a reading list of perfect rainy day reads for you to delve into this autumn! All of the below titles are available either at our library branches (search our catalogue, here!) or via Borrowbox and can be searched for, here!

Autumn: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons by Melissa Harrison
Pine by Francine Toon
The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi
Grimm’s Fairy Stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Autumn by Ali Smith
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Let us know what you think of our reading recommendations or what books you would recommend! Find us on Facebook @LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries or Twitter @LibFlintshire