Category Archives: Random Savidgeness

Some Very Exciting News…

So finally after what has felt like forever, I can spill the beans on something that I have been beavering away on in the background, which has now come to fruition and I can talk about. I am working with the lovely, lovely folks at Orion for a new and very exciting project, called Hometown Tales, which I will be Editorial Consultant on. Below is a little bit more (the official word, rather than my excited ramblings that you can see here) about the project that will be part of Weidenfeld & Nicolson

“Hometown Tales is the first initiative of its kind to focus on geographical diversity, with a guarantee of publication for the chosen authors. The series aims to open up the publishing industry by offering deals to authors from regions that are under-represented in the UK book market, and to authors who wouldn’t necessarily be found through conventional channels. By pairing recognised names with unpublished talent, the series will provide a platform for new writers, helping them to launch the first step of their careers, edited and mentored by editors at W&N. 

Hometown Tales

Working with key industry figure Simon Savidge, W&N is calling for submissions based on the idea of ‘hometown’. Writers who have not published a full-length work are invited to submit a piece of fiction or non-fiction, of approximately 15,000 words, about a place where they were born or where they have lived. It can be a village, a town, a city or a region. For more information on how to submit visit the website here. The deadline for submissions is 31 January 2017″

How exciting is that? For those of you who have followed this blog for some time, you will know the passion that I have for diverse narrative and the power I believe that books have to place you into the lives of others from a world of different backgrounds, so to get to do this with a project like Hometown Tales with a major publisher behind it is quite incredible. I haven’t been this delighted, bookish project wise, since I joined the judging panel on Fiction Uncovered last year. I cannot wait to start collaborating with all sorts of authors, from household names to people putting pen to paper for the first time. Seriously, I am on cloud nine.

The first titles will appear in paperback and ebook in 2017, with the launch list to be confirmed later this year. W&N will work closely with organisations such as the the Reading Agency, New Writing North and Literature Works and many more; along with libraries, literary festivals and local writing groups to encourage the widest possible outreach and pool of talent. I feel like I am going to be on the bookish version of the X Factor panel as I join forces with the wonderful Katie Espiner (who made me read The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, which she bought when she was at Harper Collins, by putting it in my hands with a slight sense of threat and menace if I didn’t read it) along with the lovely Sophie Buchan, Jennifer Kerslake and Ian Wong… Or The Hometown Tales Squad as I affectionately think of them.

If you are worried that this means the end of the blog or the podcast or anything, fret not. I will still be reading books from all over the place, from all the publishers and carrying on as normal. Well maybe at a slightly reduced service, which I know it has been of late but with festivals, moving, pending operations, a holiday looming and this all happening you may be able to understand why it has been quieter of late. Thinking about it though, maybe I can blog about this adventure along the way. Would you find that interesting?

So that is my exciting news finally out of the bag. For more information on how to submit visit the website here with lots of lovely quotes and more information. What do you think about the initiative? Any authors, or people you know who can tell a bloody good yarn, that you think we should be looking in the direction of?

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Books I’m Looking Forward to in the Next Six Months #2

I know we are somewhat past the middle of 2016 but, as is my want I thought – like I did back at the start of the year – it might be a nice idea to let you know about some of the books that I am really looking forward to reading over the next six months published in the UK. I know, I know, it is the list you have all been waiting for. Ha! For a few years now, every six months, Gavin and I share 13 of the books that we are most excited about on The Readers podcast (based on which publishers catalogues we can get our mitts on, sometimes we miss some) so I thought I would make it a new biannual post. I have highlighted a few each month that I will definitely be reading or getting my mitts on – there will be more, let’s noy pretend. So, grab a cuppa and settle down with a notepad or bookstore website open next to you…

July

Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane – Paul Thomas Murphy (Head of Zeus)

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In April 1871, a constable walking a beat near greenwich found a girl dying  in the mud – her face cruelly slashed and her brains protruding from her skull. The girl was Jane Maria Clouson, a maid for the respectable pook family and  she was pregnant at the time of her death. When the blood-spattered clothes of  the 20-year-old Edmund pook, father of the dead girl’s unborn child, were  discovered, the matter seemed open and shut. Yet there followed a remarkable legal odyssey full of unexpected twists as the police struggled to build a case.  paul Murphy recreates the drama of an extraordinary murder case and  conclusively identifies the killer’s true identity.

Augustown – Kei Miller (Orion)

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Ma Taffy may be blind but she sees everything. So when her great-nephew kaia comes home from school in tears, what she senses sends a deep fear through her. While they wait for his mama to come home from work, Ma Taffy recalls the story of the flying preacherman and a great thing that did not happen. A poor suburban sprawl in the Jamaican heartland, Augustown is a place where many things that should happen don’t, and plenty of things that shouldn’t happen do. For the story of kaia leads back to another momentous day in Jamaican history, the birth of the Rastafari and the desire for a better life. Augustown is a novel about inequality and aspiration, memory and myth, and the connections between people which can transcend these things but not always change them. It is a window onto a moment in Jamaican history, when the people sought to rise up above their lives and shine.

August

Hide – Matthew Griffin (Bloomsbury)

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Wendell Wilson, a taxidermist, and Frank Clifton, a veteran, meet after the Second World War – in a time when such love holds real danger. Severing nearly all ties with the outside world, they carve out a home for themselves, protected by the routine of self-reliant domesticity. But when Wendell finds Frank lying motionless outside at the age of eighty-three, their life together begins to unravel. As Frank’s memory deteriorates, Wendell must come to terms with the consequences of half a century in seclusion: the lives they might have lived – and the impending, inexorable loss of the one they had.

The Summer That Melted Everything – Tiffany McDaniel (Scribe)

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When local prosecutor Autopsy Bliss published an invitation to the devil to come to Breathed, nobody quite expected that he would turn up. They especially didn’t expect him to turn  up a tattered and bruised thirteen-year-old boy. The Blisses believe the boy, who calls himself Sal, is a runaway from a nearby farm town. Then, after a series of strange incidents which all implicate Sal — and riled by the feverish heat wave baking the town from the inside out — there are some around town who start to believe that maybe Sal is exactly who he claims to be. Whether he’s a traumatised child or the devil incarnate, Sal is certainly one strange fruit; and ultimately his eerie stories of Heaven, Hell, and earth, will mesmerise and enflame the entire town.

The Tsar of Love and Techno – Anthony Marra (Hogarth)

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The Tsar of Love and Techno begins in 1930s Leningrad, where a failed portrait artist is tasked by Soviet censors to erase political dissenters from official images and artworks. One day, he receives an antique painting of a dacha inside a box of images meant to be altered. The mystery behind this painting reverberates through the stories that follow, which take us through a century as they thread together a cast of characters including a Siberian beauty queen, a young soldier in the battlefields of Chechnya, the Head of the Grozny Tourist Bureau, a ballerina performing for the camp director of a gulag and many others.

September

The Borrowed – Chan Ho-Kei (Head of Zeus)

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A cleverly constructed epic crime novel, told through six different murder cases set over fifty years in the Hong kong police Force. The year is 2013, and Inspector kwan, one of Hong kong’s greatest detectives, is dying. His friend and protegé, Detective Lok, has come to kwan’s hospital bed. Together they must solve one last case: the murder of a local billionaire. What follows is a brilliantly constructed novel of six interconnected stories, each featuring a different murder case solved by kwan and Lok over the last fifty years. Eventually, in the final story, we witness the case in which Lok, a rookie cop, met kwan for the first time.

By Gaslight – Steven Price (Oneworld)

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A severed head is dredged from the Thames; ten miles away, a woman’s body is discovered on Edgware Road. The famed American detective William Pinkerton is summoned by Scotland Yard to investigate. The dead woman fits the description of a grifter Pinkerton had been pursuing – someone he believed would lead him to a man he has been hunting since his father’s death. Edward Shade is an industrialist without a past, a fabled con, a man of smoke. The obsessive hunt for him that began in the last days of the Civil War becomes Pinkerton’s inheritance. What follows is an epic journey of secrets, deceit and betrayals. Above all, it is the story of the most unlikely of bonds: between Pinkerton, the greatest detective of his age, and Shade, the one criminal he cannot outwit. Moving from the diamond mines of South Africa to the fog-enshrouded streets of Victorian London, By Gaslight is a journey into a cityscape of grief, trust, and its breaking, where what we share can bind us even against our better selves.

Angel Catbird – Margaret Atwood (Dark Horse)

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On a dark night, young genetic engineer Strig Feleedus is accidentally mutated by his own experiment and merges with the DNA of a cat and an owl. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired superhero adventure with a lot of cat puns.

The Lesser Bohemians – Eimear McBride (Faber)

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One night in London an eighteen-year-old girl, recently arrived from Ireland to study drama, meets an older actor and a tumultuous relationship ensues. Set across the bedsits and squats of mid-nineties              north London, The Lesser Bohemians is a story about love and innocence, joy and discovery, the grip of the past and the struggle to be new again.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero – Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape)

From the author who brought you The Encyclopedia of Early Earth comes another Epic Tale of Derring-Do. Prepare to be dazzled once more by the overwhelming power of stories and see Love prevail in the face of Terrible Adversity! You will read of betrayal, loyalty, madness, bad husbands, lovers both faithful and unfaithful, wise old crones, moons who come out of the sky, musical instruments that won’t stay quiet, friends and brothers and fathers and mothers and above all, many, many sisters.

October

The Fat Artist and Other Stories – Benjamin Hale (Picador)

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Benjamin Hale’s fiction abounds with a love of language and a wild joy for storytelling. In prose alternately stark, lush, and hallucinatory, occasionally nightmarish and often absurd. The voices in these seven stories speak from the margins: a dominatrix whose longtime client, a U.S. congressman, drops dead during a tryst in a hotel room; an addict in precarious recovery who lands a job driving a truck full of live squid; a heartbroken performance artist who attempts to eat himself to death as a work of art.  From underground radicals hiding in Morocco to an aging hippie in Colorado in the summer before 9/11 to a young drag queen in New York at the cusp of the AIDS crisis, these stories rove freely across time and place, carried by haunting, peculiar narratives, threads in the vast tapestry of American life. Weaving a pleasure in the absurd with an exploration of the extraordinary variety of the human condition and the sway our most private selves and hidden pasts hold over us, the stories in The Fat Artist reside in the unnerving intersections between life and death, art and ridicule, consumption and creation.

Thin Air – Michelle Paver (Orion)

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The Himalayas, 1935. kangchenjunga. Third-highest peak on earth. Greatest killer of them all. Five Englishmen set off from Darjeeling, determined to conquer the sacred summit. but courage can only take them so far – and the mountain is not their only foe. As the wind dies, the dread grows. Mountain sickness. The horrors of extreme altitude. A past that will not stay buried. And sometimes, the truth does not set you free.

The Last Days of Leda Grey – Essie Fox (Orion)

During the oppressive heat wave of 1976 a young journalist, Ed Peters, finds an Edwardian photograph in a junk shop in the brighton Lanes. It shows an alluring, dark-haired girl, an actress whose name was Leda Grey. Leda is living still, in a decaying cliff-top house once shared with a man called Charles beauvois, a director of early silent film. A horrific accident left her abandoned and alone for more than half a century – until Ed Peters hears the secrets of her past, resulting in a climax more haunting than any to be found in the silent films of Charles beauvois.

Autumn – Ali Smith (Penguin Books)

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The first of four novels in a shape-shifting series, wideranging in timescale and light-footed through histories. Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy and the colour-hit of Pop Art – via a bit of very contemporary skulduggery and skull-diggery – Autumn is a witty excavation of the present by the past. The novel is a stripped-branches take on popular culture, and a meditation, in a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, what harvest means. Autumn is part of the quartet Seasonal: four stand-alone novels, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are), exploring what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative.

The Power – Naomi Alderman (Penguin Books)

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In The Power the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge, with devastating effects. Now, with the flick of a switch, teenage girls can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

Hag-Seed – Margaret Atwood (Hogarth)

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‘It’s got a thunderstorm in it. And revenge. Definitely revenge.’ Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge. After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

November

London Lies Beneath – Stella Duffy (Virago)

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In August 1912, three friends set out on an adventure. Two of them come home. Tom, Jimmy and Itzhak have grown up together in the crowded slums of Walworth. They are used to narrow streets, the bustle of East Lane market, extended families weaving in and out of each other’s lives. All three boys are expected to follow their father’s trades and stay close to home. But Tom has wider dreams. So when he hears of a scouting trip, sailing from Waterloo to Sheppey – he is determined to go. And his friends go with him. Inspired by real events, this is the story of three friends, and a tragedy that will change them for ever. It is also a song of south London, of working class families with hidden histories, of a bright and complex world long neglected. London Lies Beneath is a powerful and compelling novel, rich with life and full of wisdom.

Another Day in the Death of America – Gary Younge (Faber)

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On Saturday 23 November 2013, ten children were shot dead. The youngest was nine; the oldest was nineteen. They fell in suburbs, hamlets and ghettos. None made the national news. It was just another day in the death of America, where on average seven children and teens are killed by guns daily. Younge picks this day at random, searches for their families and tells their stories. What emerges is a sobering, searing, portrait of youth and guns in contemporary America.

Rotten Row – Petina Gappah (Faber)

In her accomplished new story collection, Petina Gappah crosses the barriers of class, race, gender and sexual politics in Zimbabwe to explore the causes and effects of crime, and to meditate on the nature of justice. Rotten Row represents a leap in artistry and achievement from the award-winning author of An Elegy for Easterly and The Book of Memory. With compassion and humour, Petina Gappah paints portraits of lives aching for meaning to produce a moving and universal tableau.

Wowsers! So thatwas quite a list, it is slightly extended since we recorded The Readers because, well why not? There will be many more I discover or hear about too I am sure. Anyway, quite a few for you to go and find out more about and a good list for me to have when I am stuck in a bookshop without a clue of what to by next – as if that ever happens. Right, I better get reading then. Which of these do you fancy? Which books are you looking forward to in the next six months?

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Guessing the Man Booker 2016 Longlist

So I said I would hold off sharing video’s for a while, however I thought the easiest way for me to do my Man Booker Prize longlist predictions this year was in that form, so I have. Here it is…

We only have a few hours to go until it is announced, when you will see that none of my guesses were correct and that is exactly why the team haven’t phoned begging me to judge it yet, hahaha. I will share more info, on both the list and my thoughts on it, here on the blog not long after it’s announced and we can all have a good old natter about it. Hoorah. In the meantime what do you think will make the list?

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And He’s Back, Where The Funk Has He Been?

Forgive me readers for I have sinned, it has been ten days since my last blog post. Ten days which actually feels like ten months as I have been working on the lead up to, delivery of and then derigging of a huge music festival and I am utterly, utterly shattered. I know I have shared a fair few video’s on here with you (some of you love it, some of you not so much) however I thought I would share a vlog I made last week whilst working on the festival, and a few other things, so you could see what on earth it is I do. You know, getting to know me a bit better and all that…

Bar festivals, and working around 15 hour days, I haven’t really done much else i.e. reading or writing reviews. I have mainly been bingeing on Stranger Things on Netflix or pizza’s when I get in. Then sleeping, as much sleeping as possible. So I guess I have been a bit boring book wise. What have you all been up to and what have you been reading? I would love to know.

Also, how can it be Man Booker longlist day tomorrow already, I haven’t even played guess the longlist this year which feels very odd. I might try and squeeze that in if I can maybe, though all I want to do is sleep, sleep, sleep. Oh and host an event with Jenn Ashworth tomorrow night, then I plan a long weekend of nothing but sleeping and reading, bliss. Bring it on. I am hoping to see Sarah Moss, Sarah Perry, Charlotte Wood, Garth Greenwell and Paul Beatty on the list. I need to give it more thought, what about you?

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Books of 2016, So Far…

So as we have reached, well slightly gone over, the halfway point in the year, I thought I would do something I don’t think I have done before and share with you my  Books of 2016 so far. Well it made sense to me considering I had just done the below video for my YouTube channel and so I thought I would share it on here too. (I am really enjoying the booktube community but trying not to bombard you with it on here.) So if you would like to know some of my favourite books of the year so far, grab a cup of tea (as its about 20 minutes of me going on about books) and have a watch of this…

I hope you like the list, some of the books haven’t been mentioned on here before so give you an idea of what is coming over the next few weeks and months*. I would love to hear you thoughts on the books that I discuss and what you have made of them if you have read them. I would also really love to know which books have been the books of your year so far too, so do tell.

*Yes I know there have been a few video posts of late, with work being utterly bonkers in the lead up to one of our biggest festivals this weekend, video’s are so much speedier to make than a review which takes me ages, they will return though, honest – along with the usual rambling posts. I just need to play catch up with life after the musical festival has happened. It is this weekend so I am getting there. 

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Time To Move On…

One of the reasons that I have been quieter over the last few weeks/months on the blog has been because I have been making a big decision, which some of you may know about through social media. After several years I have decided that enough is enough, I need more space for reading and books and so I am moving house. Well, I say I am, we are. Myself and The Beard have decided to get money married, me with a mortgage feels so grown up I could be sick/cry, before we actually get married in September 2017. I should also point out that I didn’t demand we move out, we have both – along with the cats – just outgrown the wonderful, wonderful apartment we have lived in for the last four and a bit years (which is The Beards not mine) and are heading to a new house in the next few weeks/months.

It is very exciting. It is also a bit odd and we are going to be very sad to say goodbye to somewhere we have loved, and had has such high ceilings perfect for so many bookshelves. I thought I would share some pics of the house because then a) you will get to know a bit more about where I live b) see why we are sad to leave and why it’s been so great for all the books.

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It is lovely isn’t it? But onward, what is very exciting is is that our new house is quite big and two of the six bedrooms are going to become a library for me on the first floor. (There has since been a small amount of kerfuffle when I mentioned I would still need shelves in every other room too, but that has been agreed in exchange for a new swanky kitchen.) Even more exciting is that The Beard and I are also planning on making the house a writers B&B, somewhere they can get away from it all for a week (well, five days) with breakfast, dinner and bookish chats by the log burner in the evening if they aren’t writing away. So exciting times ahead indeed, though with a holiday in Italy, several festivals at work and me having an operation for my Dercum’s it also looks like a bonkers summer.

So what is news with you? What have you been reading lately? Also, random ask but how would any of you feel about a readers retreat, somewhere you can just go and read and hideaway from the world with a lovely breakfast, dinner and lots of bookish chatter in the evening – maybe a few trips to the seaside thrown in. The Beard doesn’t think people would go for it, I am not so sure. Thoughts please.

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A Tour Of My Bookshelves, Not Other Peoples…

Normally on a Saturday we have a nosey around other peoples bookshelves, in an occasional series featuring – erm – other peoples bookshelves. Well, whilst I have one which I am saving for next weekend when I will be away celebrating my little sisters 18th, I am running low on volunteers. So firstly I am doing a call out to ask you to please join in sharing your bookshelves with us all, it isn’t scary; I don’t really come to your house and you can edit it as you see fit and I leave it untouched. You don’t have to be an author or a blogger just someone who has bookshelves and fancies chatting about them. Just email savidgereads@gmail.com and say you are up for it and I will send you all the bumf/stuff.

Secondly, whilst I have done Other Peoples Bookshelves myself before, I thought I would give you an actual tour of my shelves. So grab a cuppa/glass of something and settle down while I (quite literally) take you round my house. You will even get to see Granny Savidge Reads famous hedgehog collection I inherited. So I will hand over to that.

I hope you are all having great weekends and reading some corking books. Let me know what you are reading and what you are up to… And get emailing.

PS I know I haven’t done the book draw for the IBW2016 winners, I will be soon it is on my never ending list of to do’s.  

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Some LGBT Reading This Summer

It has been the start of the Pride season around the world this weekend. After verbalising my lack of pride in my country on Friday (I have left some of the tame responses up but deleted the ones about encouraging rapists into the country and other racist hate filled bile which have appeared on and off over the last few days) I was unsure if I wanted to talk about Pride, could I really face any homophobia when I was already feeling saddened by it all. Then I thought fuck it this is my blog and I will write what the bloody hell I want. So I am, well I will be speaking it mainly as there is a video coming up.

As many of you will be aware I am part of the LGBT community. I am a gay man, to me it is just a part of my life, nothing special nothing dreadful – though in the past it has felt like the latter on occasions. Who I love shouldn’t really matter, to me it is just who I am, I don’t feel the need to shout about it but maybe it should. As we have seen in the news in America not long ago in Orlando we haven’t come as far as we like to think we have, it does still scare/anger people, difference still breeds fear and contempt. Which means we need to be talking about it and making a stand for it all, be it in the bigger ways like Pride or something smaller. I will be taking part in some Pride’s this summer,I also thought I could do something smaller this summer, something that I could get all of you involved with if you fancied it? I thought it would be good to read some LGBT themed fiction over the summer months and I would love it if you wanted to join in with me. You can watch a video below to hear me talking about the choices, I will also list the titles below too.

The Bells – Richard Harvell
We Are The Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson
Beijing Comrades – Bei Tong
Sphinx – Anne Garreta
The Narrow Door – Paul Lisicky
Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta
The Art of Being Normal  – Lisa Williamson
Boy Erased – Garrard Conley

This list is by no means exhaustive, I actually had another 5 I wanted to talk about but I don’t like the number 13 and I would have ended up talking on the channel for ages. So if you fancy reading any of these then do let me know. Boy Erased, Sphinx and The Art of Being Normal are whizzing up the TBR the more I think of them, so I may read them quite soon. If you just fancy reading some LGBT literature of your own choice over the summer let me know which books you’ll be heading to AND as always do recommend me some LGBT titles new and old that you think I should be giving a read. I know it might seem small but it is still doing something. If you need any further inspiration for books the do head to The Green Carnation Prize (which I co-founded and will be back later in the year) website where lists of longlisted, shortlisted and winning titles reside, some corking reads there. Let’s get reading and discovering the worlds of all walks of life from all diverse backgrounds, after all that is all part of the wonder of books isn’t it?

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Down and Out, Heartbroken

I don’t like to get political on this blog but after the news this morning I just wanted to briefly mention that I am heartbroken. I love Europe. I love it’s people. I love the fact I have grown up all my life (as someone born after joining the EU) calling myself European, far more than I have British probably. So I am devastated that fear, lies and hatred have won.


The world seems all out of kilter, shouldn’t we be fighting the madness together rather than letting it win? I’m for inclusion, as all my friends and family are. So I feel utterly saddened that so many people will be looking at my country and thinking we aren’t and that we don’t want to be. That is all.

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Independent Bookshop Week 2016 (And The Chance To Win A Book From One) #IBW2016

To turn away from all the dreadful news of late, lets head towards something that all of us book lovers, erm, love. Independent Bookshops. For today in the UK it is Independent Bookshop Week 2016, where e celebrate the wonderful independent bookshops up and down the country. So I thought that we could celebrate it here on the blog too. I have mentioned on many an occasion how much bookshops mean to me now and have meant to me over the years and how important I think they are in the world, so any chance to celebrate them is a good thing. I have found some of my favourite books in them, had wonderful conversations in them (with booksellers, friends, family and the occasional random stranger or two, sometimes with tea and cake) and have many many happy memories of my time in them. In fact my favourite picture of myself and Granny Savidge, who I miss going bookshopping with and chatting about books to dreadfully) was taken in my favourite independent, Scarthin Books.

Awww, the memories and the laughter… and the occasional string disagreement on an author or book. It was as much a treat going book shopping with my Gran in my early thirties as it was in my early years, just a slight shift of focus in the books I was looking at and hopefully the conversation. I have waxed lyrical about the bookshops I love and the books I have found in them in the YouTube (I know so modern) video below, if you are on YouTube do give this tag a whirl and let me know once you have or if you have already.

I won’t be heading to a bookshop today, as The Beard has gone away from a weekend working and so I am allowing myself a weekend in having a readathon by myself BUT you can be sure I will heading to some when I am in London later in the week. In fact myself and the lovely Jen Campbell are going to do lunch and Libreria (a bookshop I have been very intrigued by and not been to yet) which has lead my to an idea… If you answer the following questions by the end of Wednesday the 22nd of June I will choose one of you at random and buy you a book in Libreria based on your answers. I may even get you a tote bag if they do them. So the questions are…

a) What is your favourite bookshop. b) What is the last amazing book you were recommended or found browsing in a bookshop? c) What is your favourite book of all time?

Based on those I will try and find whoever wins a brilliant book and send it to you anywhere in the world? How does that sound? Right, I am off to stick my nose back in a brilliant book. Good luck.

Update – I belatedly picked a winner, well The Beard chose the number 20 at random so congrats to Marissa Gaudette who I will be getting a copy of Iain Pears’ Arcadia (based on her favourites) as soon as I get her address. 

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Need Some Books For Your Weekend, Look No Further…

I thought as this week has been a bit of a mad rush, again, I would share some books you really might like to get reading if you hadn’t already. Some I might have mentioned and some I may have not yet, though probably will be a lot in the not too distant future. Now I know I have banged on about how I haven’t written a review in ages, well, guess what? I have, only it isn’t on the blog, it is over at Dead Good where I have reviewed Louise Doughty’s Black Water which is highly recommended reading for you weekend ahead. You can see my review here. You can also see my lovely former co-host of The Readers Gavin’s thoughts on Sharon Bolton’s new thriller Daisy in Chains here, which is teetering high on my TBR at the moment.

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Another book I have forgotten to shout about the release of, thinking of your reading weekend needs again, is Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way Of Things which is finally out in the UK. Hoorah! I read the book last year and was completely blown away by it. Charlotte also kindly joined me on You Wrote The Book a couple of weeks ago which will have you rushing out for the book if my review isn’t enough.

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This week Lisa McInerney won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016. I was thrilled as it was my joint second favourite, as I shared with you here earlier this week. Having read the whole longlist it is certainly one of the titles that stuck out and then stayed with me. My review will be up soon, it is on the list of the great unreviewed books of Simon Savidge 2016.

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Finally, if you haven’t picked Maggie O’Farrell’s latest novel This Must Be The Place then you really should think about it. I have been on a mini Northern Tour with her this week and below is the video we made ‘backstage’ at Waterstones which gives you more info on the book in a slightly rogue and tenuous way. Hope you enjoy it…

So those are my recommendations should you be in a bookshop/library this weekend, and why wouldn’t you be? Any recommendations for me? I am actually planning on locking myself away from the world with a pile of books and just read, read, reading all weekend long. I have Sarah Perry’s wonderful The Essex Serpent to finish and then I think I will be heading for Jung Yun’s Shelter, after that who knows? Seems like the book slump is joyously over though doesn’t it? Hoorah. What are you all reading?

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It’s Back… BOTNS Summer Book Bingo!

I have been meaning to write about this for a few weeks but my emotions have been running high. Hang on, I am all ahead of myself. You will probably know that I am a huge fan of the Books on the Nightstand podcast and have been for quite some time. Well, sadly (some of you will know this already and so I am probably picking at the emotional scab that is beginning to heal) Ann and Michael have decided to end the show after 8 years. I know, I am bereft. For those of you who may not have found the podcast do go and seek it out, you have over 300 episodes to catch up on and another two years to do it – as then it may disappear. So there is that.

Now whilst they are leaving us in a couple of weeks they are also giving the gift that keeps on giving again this summer. The brilliant Books on the Nightstand Bingo is back, woohoo. In case you haven’t been lucky enough to play (and win or fail, I tend to do the latter but it is still fun) it before, you simply head over to this link here and then press refresh to get your card, as the first one is a static/generic card. Once you have refreshed you simply save or print your bingo card off and start reading books that match the categories, that simple and oodles of fun. Which comes to my card, as featured below…

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Well. I need some help. Some of the rows I am fine with, like the bottom one, and the free square obviously, there are some of the squares that are trickier for me though. A topic currently in the news is one, how many books come out that swiftly as instant news hits? I am thinking of something about the refugee crisis possibly, but would love some other suggestions – though not around Donald bloody Trump or the EU referendum as they are doing my wick in. I would also like some suggestions about good books by celebrities, I have been considering Magda Szubanski’s Reckoning as I think she is amazing. More suggestions welcome on that. Steampunk, recommendations please. Finally, a book mentioned in the Gilmore Girls, what even is that? Help, help, help. Ha.

So really I was just informing you of the BOTNS Bingo so you can join in; do let me know when you do – share your bingo card – so we can play together, hoorah! Also, as always, recommendations please.

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Goodbye and Good Riddance To May, Bring On June…

I won’t lie to you, May was a wonderful month for going off and doing lots of lovely things and seeing lots of lovely people, it was an absolute devil for books and blogging though. Seriously, one of the worst months that I have had, if not ever then certainly in the time that I have kept this blog. I read 3 and a half books, which isn’t dreadful but one of them was, so much so that it almost killed my every waking desire for books. The struggle to finish it was real and it then made me very, very book bolshy for the rest of the month. Isn’t it awful when that happens? Thank goodness then for having still got some of Christos Tsiolkas’ short stories left which saw me back on track after the two weeks of very real fictional fury.

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It wasn’t just a lack of books being read that bothered me, it was also the lack of books being reviewed. I reviewed two last month, TWO! I feel ashamed to call myself a book blogger. The additional nightmare to that is that I have about twenty or more outstanding (and I don’t mean in a good way) reviews that I would like to share with you. I think it is going to have to be a case of separating the good, the bad and the mehing ugly and doing some round up posts, or maybe its a case of just having some up my sleeve when I have months like May in the future where I can’t blog as much as I would like? I’ll think on that, there will be some coming though which is nice, hopefully.

The month wasn’t all dreadful for book related things, I got to interview Charlotte Wood for You Wrote The Book, which you can hear here, about The Natural Way of Things which was one of my books of the year last year and you all need to read if you haven’t. It is out in the UK on Thursday, buy it or I am afraid I will have to do something nasty, like kill this blog or something – this is not an idle threat. Well, maybe slightly, just like the person writing this post. Ha. I have also dipped my toe tentatively back into the world of Booktube, you can have a gander here but I will be wanging on about it in more detail soon. Speaking of booktube though I have noticed that two (of my many new) favourite people on YouTube, both David of The Poptimist and Peter of Peter Likes Books, have said in their wrap ups they too have had dreadful months. Maybe something is in the air? Bring on June!

Before we get rid of May completely though, how has it been for you? Have you had some kind of pre-Summer slump or are you hurtling through books like there is no tomorrow? What have you been reading and loving, or indeed loathing? What else has been going on? Come on, time to check in and let me know how you all are, what has been happening, what you have been reading or buying as well as any other news. Ta ducks.

*The book in question was Muriel Barberry’s The Life of Elves, which having the quote ‘beguiling fairytale’ had me at hello when the initially nice but soon very pushy freelance publicist contacted me. However when I then read the full review, after the book took two weeks of fighting to finish, I discovered that was a very choice quote. I was furious. Why do publishers do this, actually that could apply to the pushy thing too. Anyway.

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Audiobook Advice

Firstly, thank you all so much for your recommendations of book to take to a spooky old mansion last weekend. I took Lesley Glaister’s Little Egypt which might have actually been recommended on Twitter. Anyway it was lovely to get all your recommendations, almost as lovely as it was to stay in a house where I had several moments mentally being Mrs Danvers. As it was I actually did no reading all weekend as it took so long to get to Kent (6 hours) that we arrived with just enough time to change into our glad-rags and get to my Great Aunt’s 80th, the next morning waking up for (one of my favourite things in life) the hotel breakfast before deciding we would dash straight home in case it took the same time again, which it nearly did. Too much time in a car. Though this does lead me into my ponderings of this post, audiobooks.

I have always had very mixed feelings on audiobooks in the past, I completely understand why they are brilliant for many but have never been that sure they are for me. I have had some dalliances and some have been brilliant (Agatha Raisin is wonderful on audiobook) others I have tried I soon realise I have missed a chapter of because I have been too busy watching the world go by and ignoring my headphones. However on the first lengthy road trip we stopped early on, well as early as two hours is out of six, and I was looking at CD’s I could buy to possibly stop The Beard going mad from my 1990’s-early-2000’s pop music fest, when I saw there were audiobooks.

What stopped me from buying any was a) the choice was somewhat limited in a motorway service station b) I couldn’t work out what would work to both mine and The Beard’s tastes c) the price, so expensive were they in this franchise of a high street store that I won’t name them, I opted for a wifi-dooberry-whatsit-thing – official name – that means I can transmit my whole iPod to a radio station and play that. Many hours of The Archers, Woman’s Hour and The Beard’s favourite, Cher, then ensued. The allure of the audiobook was there and has remained, as we have another epic drive next week for a wedding, we may call on them then as I don’t think (no matter how good I think they are, and I am gutted one is leaving us) book podcasts will do the trick now we have run out of the other variety.

Yet I have realised this week that this is not the only time audiobooks could work. I have quite a lot of admin hours at work where I could ‘pop a book in my ears’, plus with several festivals ahead quite a lot of setting up and de-rigging hours ahead, oh and there is the fact I have rejoined the gym (and the dreadful ‘diet’ world) which I am really enjoying as you can see…

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(I know, any excuse to share a picture of me looking sweaty and beardy on the internet!) So I could possibly have books in my ears in all those times, I think the question is which ones are best for me. This is of course where you come in. I would love to get some recommendations of audiobooks for me that a) have a great plot b) a hook so I want to listen on c) a narrator I can bear to listen to. My normal tastes of literary novels, thrillers, short stories etc apply. I would just love for you to rave about some that you have listened to and loved. I would also love some recommendations of narrative non-fiction ones which The Beard (or Mr Non Fiction as I may rename him) and I could listen to together. That would be lovely. Thank you.

Oh and PS – Reviews are coming, I have a long weekend this weekend and so can play catch up. PPS – I hope all is well and lovely with you all?

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