Tag Archives: Lesley Cookman

The Green Carnation Prize Longlist 2012

One of the joys of blogging was meeting lots of new people and getting very excited about books. Three years ago along with Paul Magrs, Nick Campbell and joined by Lesley Cookman I started on an exciting new venture co-founding a prize for LGBT literature of all kinds which eventually, after a small glitch with the initial name, was called The Green Carnation Prize. Well just over three years later the prize has changed a little bit yet the current team of judges, and one is an old ropey judge who refuses to leave, has brought you a very exciting longlist of thirteen books which are…

  • Carry The One – Carol Anshaw (Penguin)
  • Are You My Mother? – Alison Bechdel (Jonathan Cape)
  • Ninety Days – Bill Clegg (Jonathan Cape)
  • The Purple Shroud – Stella Duffy (Virago)
  • Absolution – Patrick Flanery (Atlantic Books)
  • A Perfectly Good Man – Patrick Gale (4th Estate)
  • Scenes From An Early Life – Philip Hensher (4th Estate)
  • Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Before He Stole Me Ma – Kerry Hudson (Chatto & Windus)
  • Snake Ropes – Jess Richards (Sceptre)
  • Hawthorn & Child – Keith Ridgway (Granta Books)
  • Valentine Grey – Sandi Toksvig (Virago)
  • Moffie – Andre Carl Van Der Merwe (Europa Editions)
  • Jack Holmes and his Friend – Edmund White (Bloomsbury)

It is nice to be able to share at least the titles of some of the books that I have been secretly reading away over the past few months. Alas, I can’t tell you exactly what I thought of these thirteen because there is the short listing and the winning announcement to go, but it might be time to start telling you about some of the amazing books that didn’t make the longlist this year… because that is how good the submitted books were this year.

Always keen to get in on the act, a certain Oscar cat is now casting his eyes over the selected few and will be accompanying me in some re-reading. However I think I might have a week of reading just what I fancy first.

So what do you think of the list? Have you read any of them? What do you think might make the shortlist? Are there any you are surprised not to see? Are you going to give any of them a whirl? All thoughts, as always, most welcome.

Full details and thoughts from all the judges, and updates over the next few weeks, on the Green Carnation Prize can be found on the website.

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The Highs of Hebden Bridge & Heptonstall (A Book Crawl in Yorkshire)

Before I take you on a virtual tour which includes beautiful countryside, several book shops, Sylvia Plath’s final resting place and an impressive book loot, I just want to say a huge thank you for all the comments, emails and texts I got yesterday after I told you of the latest with my health. It was lovely to have all your thoughts and meant a lot. Anyway before I get any mushier let me tell you about a wonderful day out I had on Tuesday which was something of a destination lottery as it turned out.

Wanting to do something to keep me occupied before ‘results day’ on Wednesday myself and the lovely Paul Magrs decided we would head to the train station and pick a random destination to head to for some kind of bookish adventure. And what a lovely station it was that we chose, you know how I love my Victoriana…

As soon as we stepped inside I had a good feeling that we would have a great day for books and adventure when I saw this wonderful old signage from the original station…

We decided we would get the next train which happened to take us into the Yorkshire Dales with Hebden Bridge as its destination. With a lovely M&S sandwich selection (which Paul rather took the mickey out of me for) and some nibbles we got onto a train that looked like it should be sat on a snowy peak and be taking us off to the top of the alps. Instead it took us as far as Todmorden where we sneakily got off (sometimes you need to stop and hop off along the way)…

Paul had raved about a wonderful bookshop that was housed there; unfortunately it seemed that like most of Todmorden on a Tuesday it was closed… which was rather unimpressive, did they not know we were coming? Oh no, they didn’t. We did pop into several charity shops though before both grabbing a corned beef pasty (I might also have had a gingerbread man) which we ate by the canal…

Soon enough though we headed off to Hebden Bridge which has one of the most wonderful train stations I have scene, its literally like going back in time…

Again, sadly the independent book shop here was also closed on a Tuesday (maybe we should have said we were coming) it looked a corker too…

We did visit a marvellous remainder book shop…

In which I found an absolute gem I could have walked away with about five books from this store but I was incredibly restrained, well ok I was restrained because we had visited every charity shop going in Hebden Bridge and had already got a corking seven books in my bag. Which meant rather than walk all the way to the peak point of Heptonstall I begged to get a bus, which was driven by the happiest bus driver I have ever had the pleasure of meeting – he drove us back down too rather like a taxi service), and came to the stunning derelict Heptonstall church which either got struck by lightening or was bombed, I need to look it up…

It honestly was incredibly haunting and rather spooky. It has stayed with me since and seems to have got my creative juices flowing, I have been scribbling away in my notebook ever since seeing this…

Before we left we went and, after rather a lot of searching, found the final resting place of Sylvia Plath, I was rather surprised by her grave to be honest I think I expected something more showy or extravagant. Instead was a rather understated grave in the middle of a simple hidden church yard…

Paul and I then had a rather interesting, if slightly sacrilegious, discussion on the way back down with the jolly bus driver as to whether ‘The Bell Jar’ (which is the only Plath that I have read, I am not so good with poetry) would have been quite so successful if Sylvia hadn’t died early? All in all it was an amazing bookish day. Oh of course… you will want to know what books I came away with. So without further ado…

  • Murder At The Laurels/Murder in Midwinter/Murder in Bloom by Lesley Cookman – you may have noticed in the last few hauls I have managed to get almost all the Libby Sarjeant series. I will be tucking into these soon.
  • Dewey by Vicky Myron – I am actually rather cross with myself for buying this but it’s become a rather’in’ joke with Paul and I and for 50p I couldn’t hold back. A book about a library cat, I have an awful feeling that like ‘Marley & Me’ I will love this and be ever so slightly disgusted with myself.
  • Eating For England by Nigel Slater – I almost squealed when I saw this after LOVING ‘Toast’ earlier in the year.
  • This Is Not A Novel by Jennifer Johnston – You don’t see Johnston’s books very often in second hand shops and I do like her style and prose a lot plus I loved the title, so in the bag it went.
  • The House of Mitford by Jonathan Guinness – This was the bargain I found in the discount store, it was the most expensive purchase of the day at a whopping 3.99 but it’s normally over a tenner, its about The Mitfords which is themost important factor and is normally quite hard to get hold of – hoorah!
  • Fear The Worst by Linwood Barclay – I can’t deny that I am having a real ‘Savidge Reads Crime’ phase and I really liked the first Linwood Barclay ‘No Time For Goodbye’ so even though I haven’t read the one between these I picked this up anyway.

What an ace bookish day it was. Books, Sylvia Plath, adventures in the dales, and stunning locations. No wonder we had to have a drink afterwards in central Manchester to calm ourselves down. Have you visited Heptonstall? Read any of the books that I picked up? When did you last go on a random book haul trawl and where?

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Cosy Crime Time…

Over the last few weeks, maybe even months, you may have heard me mentioning how my health has been all over the place. This of course has to some extent affected my reading, as while I have had more time for it in waiting rooms and on long bus journeys etc my mind hasn’t been able to concentrate on it in quite the way it should. Not quite readers block exactly more a reading head fog. Anyway this week saw the final results come in and it wasn’t the best news but it wasn’t the worse, it seems a certain bunch of evil cells (and you all know what I am getting at here) have set up home in my colon and over the next week we will be seeing what can be done (more procedures) and where we go next. I didn’t know if I should make this big news as a) I like to keep the blog positive b) I don’t want other people worrying c) I’m never sure how much sharing is too much sharing on the blogosphere?

Anyway, in general I’m doing ok with it all and dealing with it all in bits whilst remaining in quite a positive place. I finally feel like I know what I am dealing with and though its not great we aren’t at curtains just yet plus after having felt so sick over the last few months with no answer I now know it wasn’t just all in my head. I will admit though that I think for the next few days it’s going to need to be a time where I, through whims of course, turn to some comfort reading and one particular genre is calling out to me…

…Those lovely cosy crime novels. I have sifted through some of the many boxes of books in the house and come up with a delightful collection that are going straight on my bedside table for some fun reading times ahead. Some of them are old favourites like the wonderful Agatha Raisin, who I have also been listening to lately and really enjoying, plus some of the Edwardian M.C. Beaton mysteries that have recently been republished with lovely (rather camply fabulous I think) new covers. I am also going to crack on with a whole new series and author Lesley Cookman (though I know her through the Green Carnation Prize I have never read any of her books till now) which I seem to have managed to randomly get the whole ‘Libby Sarjeant’ series of after a trip away this week which I will be reporting back on tomorrow.

It looks like I have some marvellous murders ahead doesn’t it? I know I have some about a crime fighting cat; I just haven’t been able to locate those yet. I’ll have to have another hunt when I re-box my books that have started to go a bit curled in the garage. Which cosy crime novels do you turn to now and again? Any you would recommend I seek out I might have missed?

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A Peak Book Buying Binge

I know I said I’d not post too many ‘books in’ posts BUT I seem to have had my first severe book buying binge since my year of not buying books. So I thought I should share it with you!

I have been in Matlock, for a little break, for less than 48 hours so far and my book buying had had a little ‘Matlock Meltdown’ as I have been on a slight book binge through the second hand shops and even, oh dear you may judge me, Sainsbury’s and am the proud owner of 6 new books!!!

I know that supermarket book buying is sometimes deemed a crime but they had 2 for £7 and I had turned up with three books I didn’t really fancy reading just at the moment and their was the first in the series, well that has been translated at least, of Jo Nesbø’s books and I’ve wanted the Catherine O’Flynn for ages, hang on let me share a picture of my spoils…

Murder on the Green – Lesley Cookman
Murder by the Sea – Lesley Cookman
My Judy Garland Life – Susie Boyt
The News Where You Are – Catherine O’Flynn
A Darker Domain – Val McDermid
The Redbreast – Jo Nesbø

I’m holding some of you responsible because of your feedback on McDermid and Nesbø the other day! I had to buy the Lesley Cookman books because I have been promising myself a read of them since Lesley was my co-judge on last years Green Carnation Prize Panel! Oh and the Susie Boyt book has been recommended to me sooo many times by those who know how much I ridiculously love the Wizard of Oz (I have dish cloths and all sorts) and Judy too! I wonder if I should write ‘My Doris Day Life’? Anyway I digress…

Have you read any of these and if so what did you think? Did I take a book buying binge a little too far?

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