Tag Archives: Kate Mosse

Spooky Stories…

As you will all know tomorrow is Halloween which is one of my favourite days of the year. I think it comes second to Boxing Day, seriously these are both above my birthday and Christmas in terms of times of cheer and joy for me. Anyway, it will be Halloween and I don’t know about you but I am in just the right mood for some spooky stories and tales of terror. Which ones to read though?

Well, funny you should ask that as I have made a little selection of potential books which I thought I would share with you in case you need inspiration, though I would love more recommendations from you below…

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Cold Hand in Mine
by Robert Aickman – Recently republished by Faber & Faber, this second collection of Aickman’s ‘ strange stories’ is supposed to be one of his creepiest, weirdest and most chilling. I am really looking forward to reading these, they also happen to be my latest choice for Hear Read This when we record in a couple of weeks so I hope they are in Gav’s suitcase while he travels around America.

Say Her Name by James Dawson – I have been meaning to read this for ages, James is now the ruling Queen of Teen and should really be the Queen of Scream as his wonderful novels are like better written Point Horrors for the current generation – and I love Point Horrors! I feel especially bad for not reading this sooner as I challenged James to write this one as I said modern ghost stories can’t be scary. This will definitely be my next creepy read.

The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill. I think Susan Hill is a legend at ghost stories, well I think she is a legend in all the forms she writes in. This is one of the few of her ghostly tales that I haven’t read and is guaranteed to give me the chills. Delightful. It has also reminded me that I have an anthology somewhere of ghostly tales chosen by Hill, that could be another addition. I am currently reading one of the Simon Serrailler series of crime novels by Susan and it is marvellous.

The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah. Sophie Hannah is most well known for her psychological thrillers (which I often find spookier than ghost stories as I mention on this episode of The Readers) and also for recently writing a new Poirot novel. Last year she wrote this spooky tale for the newly reinvigorated Hammer Horror imprint. It is another book I cannot believe I haven’t read yet, mind you like Susan Hill I am very behind with Sophie’s series. Shame on me.

The Mistletoe Bride and Other Stories by Kate Mosse. I have yet to read any of Kate Mosse’s novels. I tried reading Labyrinth when it came out in paperback and wasn’t in the right mood for it. I actually have this collection, subtitled ‘haunting tales’, and the equally creepy sounding The Taxidermists Daughter high up on my TBR. I sometimes like a short story collection as a way into a new author, and also ghost stories can be particularly spooky or chilling in the shorter form.

I know I have recommended it endless times but if you fancy a fast an chilling read do grab The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Oh and I also must recommend Michelle Paver’s Dark Matter. I will also have a ghostly tale up for discussion on the blog tomorrow. So which books will you be curling up with on Halloween night? Have you read any of the books I have selected? Which books would you recommend?

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Has The World Gone Mad; First Waterstones and Kindles, Now The Orange Prize…?

I don’t tend to do ‘topical’ too often on Savidge Reads but today I feel the need after the random double whammy of odd bookish news around Waterstones and the Kindle and what has happened with the Orange, or should that be the no longer Orange, Prize for Fiction.

I have to admit I was one of the people who did fear that the world might be ending when I heard the news yesterday that Waterstones, the UK’s biggest chain of bookshops, will be selling Amazon’s Kindle (or as I like to call it ‘the machine of the devils making’) in their stores. To me, as an avid book lover and fan of the chain, this seems ludicrous – but then again I am rather old school in terms of all things devils device e-reader based.  I understand that Waterstones have been having issues with people coming into bookshops, browsing the shelves, then seeing how much it is on Amazon via their smart phone apps instead. This must be incredibly disheartening, as well as business busting, for any company, but surely there must have been other options? I spent yesterday mulling this over silently for hours (whist nursing the sick, so I wasn’t just sat contemplating ha, ha) before decided to comment.

When James Daunt took over I was one of the many people who thought ‘phew, at last’ and having spent time hosting events and working alongside the lovely team at Waterstones Deansgate I have seen the wondrous changes that Daunt has implemented alongside his allowance of independence in stores, trusting that each branch know their customers and can appeal to them in the right way. Now teaming up with a company which is as damaging to books and the authors of course, as supermarkets can be seems a little odd to me? Or am I overreacting? I have even pondered if I should boycott the chain as I am so cross. That could be an overreaction. Though it would push me into supporting even more local independent bookstores and that is no bad thing is it?

Anyway here is James Daunt talking about it all, see what you make of it…

The other news that made me think the world has gone crazy, which was announced mere minutes ago, was that after seventeen years Orange have withdrawn their sponsorship of the Orange Prize, or they will have after the winner is announced next week. My initial thoughts are ‘well they could have waited and not over shadowed the winner before she is even announced’ my second was ‘oh dear, could this be another literary prize that vanishes like the John Rhys Llewellyn Prize did last year?’ my third was ‘well what will they call it now?’

Now in no way does this quite compare but I am currently working like a mad thing behind the scenes to make sure that The Green Carnation Prize runs for its third year in 2012. With the other two co-founders having left it is literally just me approaching all the people that I can think of who will judge and chair for free. For a prize that received over 80 submissions last year, and could do again this year, it’s a big ask. You get to hear the phrase ‘I am terribly sorry but no’, however I think I have pulled it off and an announcement will be made later today/tomorrow finally.

What has all that to do with the Orange? Well people will be cry that it is another award dead in the water; however I am not so sure. If the worst case scenario of no sponsor (unlikely if I am honest, I think Kate Mosse is very tenacious and passionate so will secure something) comes I am betting she will easily find volunteers, and I have found people who do it for free have a real passion for the book that makes them all the better book prize judges, they want to talk about the books and have a debate, they want to spread the word about great books. I am not sure I feel that way about what’s going on with Waterstones at the moment, maybe that’s just the cynic in me though? Thank goodness for the Fiction Uncovered list being announced tomorrow, that might be some less doom filled news.

What are your thoughts on this bumper amount of bonkers bookish news?

Note: I totally understand that for some people, like my Gran who likes to change the font of a book for her eyes, or have less to carry on her globe trotting adventures the Kindle is a good thing. For me however, not so.

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Two Bookish Books I Think We Should All Be Reading…

I try not to bark ‘read this now’ as an order too often on Savidge Reads. If I really love a book then I hope the enthusiasm comes of the screen and you might want to go and have a look at it in a book shop or read about it more online. It’s very unusual then that I am pretty much going to bark the orders ‘read these now’ about two books that I actually haven’t read myself the whole way through…

 

‘Stop What You’re Doing And Read This!’ and ‘The Library Book’ are two books from separate British publishers which are all about books, reading and libraries. Really that should be enough to have you rushing to your nearest bookshop or book selling website shouldn’t it, in fact it might already have done just that, however I thought I would tell you a little more about both – just to really push you over the edge.

‘Stop What You Are Doing And Read This!’ is an anthology which asks the question ‘why should you stop what you are doing and read a book?’ The ten essay responses collected here are from the likes of authors such as Jeanette Winterson, Blake Morrison, Mark Haddon and Zadie Smith, along with Jane Davis founder of ‘The Reader Organisation’ and Carmen Callil who founded Virago and rather famously quit the International Man Booker judging panel. These ten essays simply tell you, in varying ways, the power of the book and the joys of reading. I have only dipped in and out of a few so far but from what I have seen it’s only going to make my love of reading and desire to read all the stronger. I know that Simon T of Stuck in a Book loves this book.

There is a different twist on the joys of reading with ‘The Library Book’ as this book is of course celebrating the library itself. Some of my favourite authors like Susan Hill, Val McDermid and Alan Bennett (there are lots more Kate Mosse, Julian Barnes, China Mieville, Stephen Fry – I could go on, there are 23 pieces in this collection) have all contributed works to this book, not all of them are essays though as of course we go to libraries for fiction, and so some of the authors have made fictional shorts along with the other essays throughout – all about the library, of course. Again, I have only had a glimpse at this book (as it only arrived this morning) but I am very, very excited about what’s inside. In fact what am I doing here writing this? I should be reading them already!

What I think is another thing that’s special about these books, if I haven’t sold these two you by now you may be a lost cause, is that they are working with the charity The Reading Agency (all the proceeds of ‘The Library Book’ are definitely going to this charity, it doesn’t say with ‘Stop What You’re Doing And Read This!’) which encourages people to read in all sorts of ways and is developing exciting library programmes. What could be better?

I am hoping some of you have stopped reading the blog by now and run off to find out more, or even gone and got the book. I am off to sit with my copies for a while. I will report back, I hope you will too!

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A New Book Award for 2010…

I am going to do that thing of saying if you don’t always read every post I write (then how dare you, ha) then do please give this one a whirl! It is one that’s important to me and something that I am rather passionate about. A new book award has been unleashed this week and its one that is rather new and one that has really been a long time coming yet no one seems to have done it before in the UK, or even possibly the rest of the world. A prize ‘that dare not speak its name’, actually at several points this week that couldn’t have been truer, let me explain…

The whole thing actually started as an off-the-cuff comment by the author Paul Magrs (whose Brenda and Effie novels I love so) on twitter and facebook. One the day that ‘The Man Booker Longlist’ was announced he wondered why there was no award for writing for gay men and something that covered every genre? So an idea had been born and with a supportive ‘what a great idea’ comment from me and several emails later slowly but surely something real started to emerge.

Note:- Just to add in here I am aware that gay men get on the Booker list, in fact to longlisted authors are gay men this year. It’s just nothing specifically celebrating the gay male authors and their writing can be funny, exciting, harrowing, uplifting and challenging – and it can range right across the genres.

Initially named ‘The Man Fooker Prize’ we set up a site, managed to get three more judges and started contacting publishers and that was where we hit the first glitch… the name! All those publishers who actually responded (several didn’t but I wont name and shame them as they might yet) thought it was a great idea, the name just bothered them. Some didn’t care and have since submitted several titles (my reading plans are severely about to go up a certain creek) yet for some it seemed was perplexingly causing ‘controversy’, ‘being a little crude and graphic’ or ‘looking like a spoof’.

The latter I could understand but the reasoning behind the name one of my fellow judges put perfectly “it’s a response to the Booker – the monumentalism of it – and so the name is sort of important. The sense of irreverence and, well, fun are important. Sadly I can’t imagine ever hearing Mariella Frostrup saying it at teatime, but isn’t that part of it too? That it’s a bit cheeky, a bit impolite.”

However it seems if you want to get an award like this noticed you ironically have to be a little more conservative and demure and so after a few hours of brain storming ‘The Green Carnation Prize’ was born (in reference to Oscar Wilde, we are also announcing the winner on World Aids Day). This also meant therefore that so was a new website, second press release, email to all the publishers and press people in sundry having to explain the change, phew! I wonder if Kate Mosse had all this trouble with the Orange?

Naturally it would be amazing if all of you who read ‘Savidge Reads’ supported this. Not because I am a judge or helped found it but because it is an award that should be out there, it’s a subject that matters and is one we should be talking about. We all say we have gone forward with diversity, and in some ways we have… but is it as much as we think?

Do visit the site here and have a gander at everything, we would welcome feedback. Let us know if you can think of any books that match the criteria in the ‘Rules and Regulations’ as we would love to hear of as many books as possible. I know a lot of you have been doing GLBT challenges this year so all your suggestions could prove invaluable. And, though I am not begging, if you wanted to pop a link to the award in any round ups you do and a little bit about it that would be amazing, like I said though am not begging, might just be nice.

Right then I am off for some rest, it’s been a knackering week. Plus I better get cracking on all the other books I intended to read and need to before we get sampling everything for long listing! Eek! What reading plans have you got for the weekend, and what are your thoughts on ‘The Green Carnation Prize’ in general?

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The Reader’s Table

I mentioned a while ago that whilst I was milling in Waterstones I happened upon  a table filled with an authors favourite books. The Waterstone’s Writers Table is a great idea, have a very popular author who many people love to read telling you what their favourite reads. Well it works if you love the author and so far the ones they have chosen apart from Philip Pullman I havent read a word of but I feel I would love Faulks and Mosse should I read them.

I then had the thought that a writers table is great, but wouldn’t a readers table in a bookshop be great? Well I decided that I rather than just start rearranging a display in Waterstones there and then I would go home and think about my forty favourite reads of all time and then make an all new page on the blog so you can see them. And I have almost done it…

You see forty books is actually much harder than you think and after hours and hours of listing I came up with 24, then I went away from it and came back with 57. I started whittling this down until I came up with around 43 considered 37 of which where definates leaving six of them are fighting as to which will make it into the final three. Well tha battle is still on and so am leaving it for a few days but leaving you with my Top 20 as it stands today and you can find them here.

The top ten was really, really easy… in fact actually the top fifteen was really easy then then it gets harder and harder. Which was my favourite? Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier of course though it was a close fight to the death between that and Wilkie Collin’s ‘The Woman in White’. There is another thing that has come out of this delightful little excercise and that is the desire to re-read quite a lot of my favourites. Rebecca, The Woman in White and The Time Travellers Wife all may have to go back onto my TBR in the neare future. Is this something that any of you ever do at all?

I also noticed that despite having written some of my favourite books I have never read another book by some of the authors in the top 20 let alone the top 40. Obviously some of them have only written one book, however I definately need to read more Wilkie Collins (I am desperate to try ‘Armadale’ and may now have to treat myself as have more long train journeys this weekend to see my mother and my Gran), John Boyne, Evelyn Waugh and Cormac McCarthy. I am also aware I need to read a lot more classics as I think this will change the list, which is a constant everchanging work in progress.

If any of you want to do your own ‘Readers Table’ page do let me know, and do say where you saw it hahaha! So which books would you have in your top twenty? Can you guess what might make it in my my top 40 – 21? i look forward to your thoughts and hope you like the new page!

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