Tag Archives: The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar

Sue Johnston on Sunday – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 11

I think one of my all time highlights of the year was getting to meet one of my icons and I still cannot quite believe I did. I remember seeing that Sue Johnston was coming to Waterstones Deansgate to discuss her memoir and my instant thoughts were ‘she has a memoir… and she is coming here woohoo’. This was then followed by ‘oh I wish I could meet her, and imagine if I could interview her!’ I dropped large hints with Waterstones about this but someone else was doing it… and then they pulled out, and in I came, hoorah.

That's my very nervous face...

Well after being so nervous I didn’t think I would be able to talk (she has been a constant institution in some of my very favourite shows like Brookside, back in the 80’s, and then in Waking the Dead, Jam and Jerusalem and The Royale Family) we started chatting away over a glass or three of wine before we went out to talk in front of her fans (and my Gran and aunty)  and she was wonderful. She was really friendly, very funny, warm, interested in everything and anything and she LOVES books so we chatted about those a lot happy to chat about anything just like I had hoped.

The event was great and I could have talked to her for hours and hours more. We had a very funny moment of both standing and sitting and sitting and standing alternately which made us look like a comedy double act and the whole thing was over far too soon. BUT we might be working on something bookish together next year if all goes well and I pitch it right, but my lips are sealed for now.

You will have seen ‘Things I Couldn’t Tell My Mother’ was one of my most enjoyable reads of the year, and I am always rather sceptical about autobiographies, its very funny but also heartbreakingly sad and so of course I want to share it with you. So if you would like to be in with a chance of winning one of three copies, anywhere in the world then simply tell me, what your favourite autobiography you have read is ever and why. You have until 11am GMT on the 14th of December 2011. Good luck!


Filed under Book Thoughts, Give Away, Random Savidgeness

Margaret Atwood and China Mieville – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 10

I was thinking about this the other day and I would absolutely love to have Margaret Atwood and China Mieville round for tea, or even at Bookmarked, to discuss and debate literature and science fiction. After reading Atwood’s ‘In Other Worlds’ recently and seeing China Mieville talk about ‘Embassytown’ earlier in the year I can imagine the conversation would be scintillating. They both merge the two wonderfully and as its been on the brain I thought I would make them a joint giveaway.

So two of you lucky readers could win Margaret Atwood’s latest collection of essays ‘In Other Worlds’ and China Mieville’s novels ‘The City and the City’ and ‘Kraken’

All you need to do is read my review of the Margaret Atwood here and give your response to the last question I ask and your thoughts on it in the comments there, causing some delightful debate and the possibility of three wonderful treats to read. You have until 11am GMT on the 14th December 2011. Good luck, get debating.

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Sophie Hannah – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 9

Some giveaways will have nothing to do with the main blog post of the day, if there is one, in the giveaway-a-thon leading up to Christmas which is The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar. Today is one such surprise as I am giving away not one Sophie Hannah book, but all of them so far. Yes a whole series, and be prepared as I am giving away a few more series over the next few weeks.

Those of you who visit Savidge Reads regularly will know that I love this series, though I am rather worryingly almost up to date and have only one more outstanding though I have heard the seventh in this series ‘A Kind of Cruel’ is out next year, a book too look forward to. So as I love them, I would like to pass them on and that means there are six of these books that one of you could end up having the joy of reading…



All you have to do is simply state which is your favourite crime series and why in the comments below. It’s that easy. You have until 11am on the 13th of December to enter (I will be drawing the first few winners tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled for who has won what in the next 24 hours) so good luck!


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Joan Bakewell – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 8

I’ve started doing the looking back over the year thing, oh dear, be warned. Anyway… One of the best things of 2011 was starting Bookmarked (which is on a hiatus till next year), and also doing some of the solo ‘in conversation’ events with authors at Waterstones Deansgate. The last one I did (and I will be reporting on a few more) was with the wonderful Joan Bakewell. I was very, very nervous, she is a national treasure after all.

Dame Joan Bakewell is known for being incredibly clever, in fact one of the things that shocked me when we met, she was a little breathless after being stuck in a the madness of Manchester’s Christmas lights being turned on or some such, was that she greeted me with ‘Hello Simon, so lovely to meet you,  so you are a blogger and journalist…’ it seemed I wasn’t the only one that evening who had been doing their research. We sat and had a glass of wine and my nerves vanished as we just had a chat together before going out to see her audience (which included Granny Savidge Reads who befriended Joan over reading habits afterwards) and talk as Joan had said with a laugh ‘about anything you like, I am too old to care you know.’

Well we pretty much did. We discussed her latest novel ‘She’s Leaving Home’ (another review that was deleted in the great computer wiping virus) which I have to say I enjoyed very much. We talked about the main themes of it and how it deals with changes in women’s roles in society (almost touching on feminism) in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the music scene in Liverpool at that time which was thriving and the relationships between mothers and daughters. That was just what was covered in talking about the latest book. We then discussed ‘All The Nice Girls’ and writing a debut in her 70’s and what’s to come. There was politics, her thoughts on Katie Price (a mix of confusion and admiration at how she has used her body to make so much money and how she clearly has brains) and her role as ’voice of older people’ for the Government. I was fascinated I don’t know about anyone else.

Anyway, that all surmounted to the fact that today I am giving away two copies of her latest novel ‘She’s Leaving Home’. All you have to do is tell me your favourite book this year about mother and daughter relationships. You have until 11am December the 12th. Good luck.


Filed under Book Thoughts, Give Away, Random Savidgeness

The Green Carnation Prize Winner 2011 – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 7

Yes, after all that reading this year the winner of The Green Carnation Prize 2011 is finally revealed and I am thrilled to say, if you don’t already know, that it is ‘The Proof of Love’ by Catherine Hall. You can see the official release here. I utterly adored this novel when I read it, and then reviewed it not knowing it was a contender – whoops, earlier in the year. Please note this doesn’t mean that my vote swayed it as chair, the consensus was that all the judges felt exactly as I did pretty much. As I loved it so much, regardless as to whether it won or not, I wanted to give you all the chance to win a copy, only now I have gone one better and you can win both of Catherine’s books.

Yes three of you lucky readers, from anywhere in the world, can win both ‘The Proof of Love’ and Catherine’s debut novel ‘Days of Grace’ thanks to the lovely people at Portobello Books. All you have to do, by 11am GMT on the 10th of December, is answer this question leaving your answer in the comments below… which book do you wish had won an award in 2011 that didn’t and why?

Then these could be yours…


Win or not do please get your hands on ‘The Proof of Love’ it is just wonderful and I think Catherine Hall is an author to watch out for, I will be reading ‘Days of Grace’ over Christmas curled up in front of the fire. You can see Catherine discussing ‘The Proof of Love’ when it was chosen as part of Fiction Uncovered earlier in the year here. I can also heartily recommend the rest of the Green Carnation Prize shortlist 2011, six cracking books. Good luck!


Filed under Give Away, Random Savidgeness, The Green Carnation Prize

Award Winners – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 6

So today I am giving you away something rather special. One of you (though three of you can win things) will be able to win a signed hardback edition of Jennifer Egan’s ‘A Visit From The Goon Squad’ which has been nominated for and won some of the most prestigious prizes this year. But with a prize like this there is a catch… you need to work a little harder for it and its all to do with today’s other post about The International Readers Book Award 2011.

To be in with a chance of winning this signed edition of one of the most talked about books of the year (which yes I admit I didn’t love but almost everyone else who read it did) you need to follow the instructions and vote for The International Readers Book Award on the post here. Once you have voted drop a comment here saying you have done so and you are in the draw wherever in the world you are. Simple-ish. There are also two sets of ‘A Visit From the Goon Squad’, and ‘Look At Me’ by Jennifer Egan for two runners up from teh lov. You have until 11am December 16th 2011, get voting and good luck.

Update – as The Readers website is currently down you can download the International Readers Book Award nomination form here


Filed under Book Thoughts, Give Away, Random Savidgeness, Uncategorized

Oh, Bake Off – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 5

I have been thinking something along the lines of ‘oh, bake off’ for the last three days since the possibly now over-mentioned virus hit my computer on Friday first thing in the morning. You see not only have I officially lost everything that I had on my machine until then, it has also taken me until now, well within the last 20 minutes, to get all the software and everything uploaded and updated (over 900 updates, seriously??) to the point where the computer works. Enough of that, you want to know what is tucked away as today’s treat don’t you, and the emphasis on today’s give away (don’t forget there is a give away of some books here, and another here which I have belatedly posted) is ‘treat’ as we are going cake and bake tastic!!

One of the highlights of my year has been discovering the joys of The Great British Bake Off on the telly. Who would have known watching some amateur chefs cooking in a marquee with Mel and Sue and being judged by supreme bakers Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (who I would like to become my personal chef please) would have become a favourite weekly moment for a while? Well it did and so I wanted to share this joy in some small way.

So along with the lovely BBC Books I am giving three of you the chance to win a copy of ‘The Great British Bake Off: How To Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets’ as a treat (my aunty is very jealous). Sadly this can only go UK wide but if you have someone who can pass it on, or a P.O. Box, then do still enter oh and don’t forget the previous two international book give aways. Anyway, all you have to do is tell me what your favourite cake is and why? You have until 11am GMT on December the 8th – Good luck!


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Début Delights – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 4

Apologies for belatedly posting this, as my computer got wiped by a nasty virus everything has been a little delayed. Just imagine you have been away for a weekend and forgotten your advent calendar so you have double/triple the treats to catch up with.

In the last week specifically I have not only started to think about the books which I have enjoyed the most this year, I have also started to think about the direction that I want the blog to go in 2012. This has been through certain contemplation here on the blog and in discussion elsewhere too. I have been feeling like I am forgetting the careers of authors I love and want to go back to them more often than I do, yet I wouldn’t want to miss out on new authors I might love and in particular début authors especially as 2011 has been such a fantastic year for them.

I think début authors will actually feature rather heavily on my ‘Books of the Year’ when I get around to finally compiling it and whittling them down (something I keep putting off) there have been joys like ‘When God Was A Rabbit’ by Sarah Winman, ‘White Heat’ by MJ McGrath, ‘Ours are the Streets’ by Sunjeev Sahota, ‘Grace Williams Says It Loud’ by Emma Henderson, ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by SJ Watson… I could go on. So I thought I would give a couple away as my fourth day of festive fun, and the titles I have chosen to give are ‘The Godless Boys’ by Naomi Wood (who I hosted a Reading With Authors with earlier this year and ended up in a fig roll fight with) and ‘Snowdrops‘ by A.D. Miller which I read and really enjoyed (and lost the almost finished review of in the great computer wipe mentioned above) in the Man Booker Longlist blur way back when.


Three of you, wherever in the world you are, could win a copy of both of these books. All you have to do is tell me which book, or books, have been your favourite début novels of the year and why? You have until 11am GMT on December the 7th – Good luck!


Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

Books That Surprise – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 3

Apologies for belatedly posting this, as my computer got wiped by a nasty virus everything has been a little delayed. Just imagine you have been away for a weekend and forgotten your advent calendar so you have double/triple the treats to catch up with. 

Rather than just pop up posts simply giving books away, though in essence that is what these advent posts are all about, I thought I would use them to discuss brief things about books or books this year that I have wanted to discuss but have never thought would quite make a post all of its own… and now are. I didn’t think you could ramble or waffle in a blog post, look how wrong I am. So to cut to the chase I thought I would ask you about books that have surprised you in 2011 and give two away which indicate what I am on about.

I was going to discuss books that have been underrated and overrated in 2011 and I thought that actually had too many negative possibilities and so instead I thought I would mention books that have come out in 2011 which you either surprised you as you were really looking forward to and yet they never had the impact you thought they would, and the books that seemed to come from nowhere and delight everyone who read them. The books I have chosen to highlight this and give away are Smut by Alan Bennett and Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. I expected Smut to be read here there and everywhere, just because it was a Bennett if I am honest not just because I loved it, yet it wasn’t and then there was Half Blood Blues which I had heard nothing off and then with the Man Booker nominations and the Giller Award has been everywhere (my review vanished in the computer wipe caused by aforementioned virus, apologies) and people are really glad to have discovered.


So anyway I am giving two lucky readers a copy each of both these books, you can enter the draw wherever in the world you are, all you have to do is tell me a book you thought was going to be huge because you loved it, and yet sadly it wasn’t as huge as you would have liked, and then a book that seemed to come from nowhere and surprise you by how wonderful it was – so much so you want to read anything and everything else by said author. This way we can all spread the word about two books that we think are wonderful. It’s that simple, you have until 11am GMT on December the 7th, good luck!


Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day Two (Delayed and Deleted, Bah Humbug)

Apologies for the belated second Savidge Reads Advent Calendar post, on the second day of Christmas the internet gave to me… a nasty virus which wouldn’t allow me to log onto anything, it simply opened my internet window said I had done something terrible and then closed down my computer. Sadly this has meant something even more awful has now happened, a complete computer wipe and rewrite. Annoyed much? Oh yes. However weirdly there is a bright side to it in some ways.

I was saying a while back that I was pondering on all the books I have read this year and haven’t written full book thoughts/reviews on. Well the semi written posts are all gone now so that seems to solve the problem. My list of bloggers I visit has vanished so I have adventures searching for all of them to come and probably finding new ones along the way. Also my TBR spreadsheet of all the books I own and where they are has vanished so now I have no idea where any of my books are in which boxes. It feels oddly liberating (and you should see the amount of space I now have on my computer, I just need to figure out how to get the wifi working again – thank goodness for smart phones in the interim). It feels like a new start and just the time to get thinking about my new reading resolution which I aim to start not on January 1st but December the 21st – more thoughts on that soon.

I can imagine you are all thinking ‘stop going on and tell us what book you are giving away today’. Well… I had aimed to giveaway a book which I was almost finished reviewing but that’s all gone down the pan (I will finish this review as its one of my non-fiction books of the year) and so instead as the virus’s name has a criminal link, which I won’t put in here as I don’t want to attract its attentions again, and because I think its criminal to spread these evil things I thought I would give away a crime book which though I haven’t read as yet, is at the top of the TBR and looks like it should be brilliant. (I have met the author though and interviewed him for The Readers Manchester Literature Special.)

The book is ‘Burned’ a debut crime novel by Thomas Enger, here’s the synopsis…

“A Brutalised Victim in the Wilds: A solitary tent is found to contain the body of a half-buried woman. She’s been stoned to death. There are lash marks across her back. One of her hands has been cut off. A Lone Voice: Two years earlier internet reporter Henning Juul lost his son, Jonas, in a domestic fire. As he returns to work, physically and emotionally scarred, Henning struggles to escape this past and to be taken seriously again as a reporter – by his colleagues, his ex-wife and the police. A Mystery Ignited: Told to cover the story of the woman in the tent, he finds an increasingly dangerous trail and, despite an early arrest, he is convinced that the story is more complex than the police think…”

That to me sounds like a gripping thriller and I am very much looking forward to some icy Nordic crime (note the iciness is a tenuous link to the time of year), I was going to say that I can imagine reading this in front of a fire on the sofa, I am not sure with the title how appropriate that might be. Anyway, the lovely Faber and Faber – and I think what they are doing with their crime division at the moment is marvellous – have kindly offered two paperback copies of this to give away internationally. All you need to do is simply leave a comment telling me what your favourite icy crime has been this year and why before 11am GMT tomorrow Saturday the 3rd. Simple as that.


Filed under Give Away, Random Savidgeness