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Book Review: The Dirty Players by Philip Fielding

This gritty tale of foul play on and off the pitch in northern England during the heady Madchester era is a gripping read from start to finish.

 

dirtycoverSteeped in the colorful fashion and music of the city’s clubland at the tail end of the 1980s, it is ostensibly about match-rigging among football players, but you won’t need to be a fan of the beautiful game to get engrossed in the action.

 

The book is a bold, brash debut from journalist and former semi-professional football player Philip Fielding. It’s not for the easily offended – sex, violence and expletives abound – but it’s justified given the setting and tone, and the book feels all the more realistic for it. Darkly witty and brimming with edgy northern humour, it captures the essence of the era in all its grime and glory.

 

The action takes place during Christmas week in Manchester, just as the materialistic 1980s are ending and the loved-up 90s are about to begin. It’s a time of hi-top trainers, hi-vis T-shirts, house music and clubbers packing out the Hacienda.

 

The book’s protagonist, Callum Murphy, is something of an anti-hero – a talented footballer punching below his weight at Belle Vue football club, when he had expected to be playing for United and for his country. He attempts to balance his love of the game with his love of women, partying and turning a profit from his sub-Hacienda nightclub, but is sucked into a world of match-fixing in a bid to avoid bankruptcy.

 

He meets his match in the alluring form of Victoria Heath – a ruthless reporter who will stop at virtually nothing to uncover a story. We first meet Victoria when she’s posing as a prostitute and it’s immediately clear this hotshot reporter isn’t afraid to go the extra mile to get the headlines. When she receives a tip-off about a match-fixing ring, she’s onto the story like a shot – but finds her journalistic scruples challenged by a strong attraction to the smooth-talking player.

 

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, however, and when the footballer appears to give straight-talking Victoria the cold shoulder after a heady night of romance, she’s hell-bent on making him pay for his dirty dealings.

 

The book perfectly captures the seedily seductive vibe of Manchester during the club scene’s hedonistic heyday. These were the days of brutal bouncers, protection rackets, gang violence and a dirty, dishevelled city that was a long way from the modern, slick, chrome-and-glass post-IRA bomb city as we see it today.

 

With its frequent references to Greater Manchester locales and landmarks, this book will have a particular appeal to those familiar with the city, and especially those who partied in Manchester during the legendary Madchester era.

 

This cracking romp will appeal to anybody who likes their books action-packed and unflinching. It’s short enough to be devoured in one reading binge – an ideal beach or travel read – and the ending seems to leave scope for a second book.

 

An extra-time follow up would certainly be welcome – the characters of Callum and Victoria are engaging (and perhaps because of) their very obvious character flaws, and the book leaves readers hungry to find out what happens next.

 

It’s also easy to imagine the book transferring well to film – think Lock, Stock with Mancunian accents – and Fielding definitely looks like a writer to watch. His journalistic background is evident in his depictions of cut-throat newsroom politics. He’s also clearly versed in the resolutely non-PC banter of the football training grounds.

 

A belting read from kick-off to final whistle.

 

The Dirty Players by Philip Fielding is available now, priced £7.99 in paperback and £4.99 in eBook edition. Visit www.philipfielding.co.uk.

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Autumn Book Festival News

Ever fancied a literary tour of Great Britain? Visit these autumn festivals and soak up the treats on offer at Budleigh Salterton (15-18 Sept), win tickets to Victoria Hislop at Henley Literary Festival (26 Sept-2 Oct), Jersey Festival of Words (28 Sept-2 Oct), Chiswick Book Festival (15-19 Sept) and Wigtown Book Festival (23 Sept-2 Oct).

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Budleigh Salterton – 15-18 Sept

The line-up for this year’s Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, taking place from 15 – 18 September, has been revealed. The announcement unveils an impressive selection of well-known names from the worlds of literature, philosophy, politics, science, maths and history.

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Returning to Budleigh will be much loved poet Jackie Kay MBE and Honorary President Dame Hilary Mantel DBE. They will be joined by new faces including historian Helen Rappaport, biographers Alexandra Harris and Juliet Nicolson, political journalists Peter Snowdon and Tom Bower and best-selling authors Mark Haddon and Deborah Moggach and Helen Dunmore.

Following David “Bumble” Lloyd’s popular event at last year’s festival, first-class retired cricketer Mike Brearley OBE will make an appearance, as will award-winning foreign correspondent Luke Harding and barrister and former Liberty director, Shami Chakrabati.

As well as the critically acclaimed authors’ events, this year’s festival will include all the usual activities, such as the marquee on the green, where attendees get a rare chance to have their books signed by the authors after their events. There will also be a wide selection of refreshments and live music throughout the four-day festival and a special Roald Dahl tent filled with fun activities to keep children entertained.

The opening event for the 8th annual festival will welcome historian Helen Rappaport in discussion about Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917 which tells the story of the first year of the Russian Revolution through eye-witness accounts.

Britain’s most famous Mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy OBE will discuss his most recent release What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge which takes readers on a thought-provoking expedition to the furthest boundaries of modern science.

Returning to the festival for another year, will be double Man Booker Prize winner, author of Wolf Hall and the festival’s long-standing Honorary President, Dame Hilary Mantel DBE. Hilary will be performing a reading of her short story In a Right State, followed by a conversation about writing short stories.

Investigative journalist Tom Bower will dissect one of the 21st century’s most divisive politicians, Tony Blair. Whilst in discussion with the Observer’s Rachel Cooke, Bower will discuss his biography of Blair Broken Vows: Tony Blair: The Tragedy of Power, tracing Blair’s career to date from an historic election to post Iraq-war demise.

Bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Deborah Moggach, will talk about Something to Hide, a witty and wise novel about the unexpected twists that later life can bring. Jenny Balfour-Paul will deliver a visually rich and inspiring talk around her book Deeper than Indigo which traces the journey of forgotten Victorian explorer, Thomas Machell from his ancestral home in England to the Middle East and Asia.

Cultural historian and writer Alexandra Harris will discuss her latest book Weatherland: Writers & Artists Under English Skies on the inspiring role weather has played in our art and literature. Juliet Nicolson, granddaughter of the infamous diplomat Harold Nicolson and poet Vita Sackville-West, will be in conversation with Rachel Cooke about her family memoir A House Full of Daughters which traces 200 years and seven intriguing generations of her family tree.

First-class retired cricketer Mike Brearley OBE, will be in conversation about the 30th anniversary re-release of his seminal treatise on leadership and motivation, The Art of Captaincy: What Sport Teaches Us About Leadership.

An analysis of another well-known British politician will take place with historian and BBC journalist Peter Snowdon. Snowdon will be offering his critique of the first five years of Cameron’s premiership, Cameron at 10: The Inside Story 2010-2015 and his thoughts on the EU referendum.

Returning to the festival for her second visit is Scotland’s poet laureate and author of Red Dust Road, Trumpet, Fiere and The Adoption Papers, the multi-award winning Jackie Kay MBE who will discuss and read her work with Observer writer Rachel Cooke.

Bestselling social historian and author of Just my Type, To the Letter and On the Map, Simon Garfield will be in discussion about A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt, a collection of brilliant and incredible funny diaries kept by a kept by a Buckinghamshire bookseller between 1910 and 1986. Harry Parker & Peter Hanington appear in the festival’s ‘New Voices’ event, where they will discuss their experiences of combat, conflict and the aftermath of war in their acclaimed debut novels; Anatomy of a Solider and A Dying Breed.

Tahmima Anam, award-winning author of A Golden Age and The Good Muslim will appear at midday on the Saturday to discuss her newest release Bones of Grace. This book is the final in her Bengal trilogy, a sweeping love story set in the present day which explores migration, belonging, identity and climate change as her character’s traverse countries, continents and communities.

Award-winning foreign affairs correspondent Luke Harding and barrister and former director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabati. Chakrabati will discuss her book On Liberty and his excellent and timely new book, A Very Expensive Poison: The Definitive Story of the Murder of Litivenko and Russia’s War with the West.

Former journalist and editor Kate Summerscale will be in conversation with Erica Wagner about her latest book The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer which traces the shocking story of two young brothers who became an overnight sensation when they were found to have murdered their mother.

Multi award winning novelist and author of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon will talk about The Pier Falls, a collection of short stories demonstrating Haddon’s sinister imagination.

Helen Pearson will introduce her book, The Life Project, which documents the world’s longest-running study of human development, running from 1946 and encompassing five generations of children. Respected British Philosopher A.C. Grayling will discuss his latest release, The Age of Genius, which examines scientific developments throughout the 17th Century where intellectual thought moved from observation to evidence-based investigation.

Critically acclaimed author Artemis Cooper will present her biography of novelist, actress and model, the late Elizabeth Jane Howard. Cooper will discuss Howard’s colourful life on and off the page with Honorary Festival President Hilary Mantel, a good friend and admirer of Howard’s work.

Closing the festival will be award-winning author Helen Dunmore talking about her exceptional new novel Exposure. She will be in conversation with Erica Wagner about this masterful thriller which captures the mood, tension and the paranoia of the Cold War.

There will also be also be two workshops including Prose Fiction: Keeping it Real with Devon-based award winning author Virginia Baily and Poetry Workshop: Let your imagination flow with Professor Andy Brown, lecturer in English and Creative Writing at the University of Exeter.

Tickets for Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival are available from 22nd July. For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.budlitfest.org.uk . Tickets can be booked in person or by phone from The Tourist Information Centre: 01395 445 275.

Follow the festival on Twitter @BudleighLitFest.

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Henley-lit-fest-logoWIN A PAIR OF TICKETS TO HEAR VICTORIA HISLOP DISCUSSING HER NEW NOVEL

Cartes Postales from Greece at 6.30pm on 28 September

AT HENLEY LITERARY FESTIVAL 26 September-2 October

 

Michael Hesltine, Julian Clary, Alan Johnson, Carol Decker, Victoria Hislop and Susan Calman announced for the 10th Henley Literary Festival, in association with Baillie Gifford

 

Some of the UK’s most respected writers will be joined by top speakers from comedy, cookery, politics, music and more with over 150 events for adults and children at the 10th annual Henley Literary Festival this autumn.

 

Michael Heseltine, Nadiya Hussain, David Essex, Sara Pascoe and Jeremy Paxman are among the names joining bestselling novelists Robert Harris, Val McDermid, Sebastian Faulks, Fay Weldon and Victoria Hislop at the Henley Literary Festival in association with Baillie Gifford, which takes place at venues across Henley on Thames from September 26 to October 2.

Over 50 events for children and families include Lucy Worsley, Julian Clary, One Show reporter Mike Dilger and Tiger Who Came To Tea creator Judith Kerr, as well as special Harry Potter and Roald Dahl events.

In addition to Lord Heseltine, who served as Henley’s MP for almost three decades, political speakers include Alan Johnson, David Laws, Anne Widdecombe, Ken Livingstone and Margaret Hodge. From the world of entertainment, comedians Sara Pascoe, Ben Miller, Gyles Brandreth and Susan Calman are joined by David Essex, guitarist Wilko Johnson, T’Pau star Carol Decker and actress Eleanor Bron. Debut novelists include Kit de Waal, Harry Parker, Fiona Barton and Abir Mukherjee, while Miniaturist author Jessie Burton discusses her second book.

Guardian editor-at-large Gary Younge, Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates, Daily Mail columnist Bel Mooney and Terry Waite will be taking a look at current events, while Tracy Borman, Ben Macintyre, Liam Byrne and David Owen will cover history. On the food front Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya is on the line-up alongside Tom Parker-Bowles and Prue Leith, while broadcasters Alan Titchmarsh, Woman’s Hour host Jenni Murray, Ben Fogle and the Reverend Richard Coles will all discuss their latest books.

A nationwide short story competition, with adult and child categories, is being held in partnership with Dragonfly Tea, with judges including Floella Benjamin, Helen Lederer, Hugless Douglas creator David Melling, Irenosen Okojie and Daily Mail literary editor Sandra Parsons. The winners will be revealed at a special ceremony on the final day of the Festival, which will also see a series of creative writing workshops held at Henley’s Hotel du Vin.

9781472223203Venues for the tenth festival include the historic Kenton Theatre, Fawley Court, Henley Town Hall and a boat on the Thames. Tickets go on general sale from July 18 at www.henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk.

Click here to enter our free prize draw: we have a pair of tickets to give away to hear Victoria Hislop on Wednesday 28 September at 6.30pm. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter. Multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once and the prize cannot be exchanged for cash and does not include transport or accommodation.

Draw closes on 29 August 2016. The winners will be chosen randomly from all entrants and will be notified by 2 September 2016.

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JERSEY FESTIVAL OF WORDS – 28 September-2 October

 

INTERNATIONAL best-selling authors Victoria Hislop and Louis de Bernières have been added to the line-up for the second Jersey Festival of Words.

The full programme will also feature leading writers from a range of genres, including former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, historian Alison Weir, novelists Louise Doughty and Simon Scarrow and journalist Cathy Rentzenbrink, whose memoir The Last Act of Love recently topped national sales lists.

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Victoria Hislop’s first novel The Island, held the number one slot in the Sunday Times paperback charts for eight weeks and has sold more than two million copies worldwide. Since then she has written numerous bestsellers and her books have been translated into more than 20 languages. She will appear at the festival to discuss her new novel Cartes Postales from Greece, a compelling family saga due for publication this September.

Louis de Bernières, best known as the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Best Book in 1995 and was adapted into a popular film starring Nicholas Cage, will be joined on stage by Jersey’s culture minister Murray Norton for a discussion of his numerous books, life and writing.

Sponsored by Le Gallais, popular blogger Sarah Turner, better known as The Unmumsy Mum, will also be at the festival, which runs from Wednesday 28 September to Sunday 2 October at venues including Jersey Opera House and Jersey Arts Centre.

So too will acclaimed performance poet Jo Bell, the former Canals Laureate, and science fiction and fantasy legend Michael Moorcock, in Skype conversation at Jersey Library with his biographer, Jeff Gardiner.

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural Jersey Festival of Words, when thousands of Island children and young adults had the chance to experience top authors at close quarters, there will once again be an extensive schools programme offering free tickets to all schools across Jersey.

Sponsored by the One Foundation, it will feature the entertaining performance poet and writer A.F.Harrold, Jim Smith, author of the Barry Loser series, Chris Bradford’s spectacular Young Samurai and Young Bodyguard shows and, for young adults, William Sutcliffe and Eugene Lambert.

Social issues under the spotlight will include prostitution, with a presentation by Kay Banyard, author of The Pimp State; and freedom of speech, in a collaboration with the Jersey Evening Post which will feature a talk by Mick Hume, author of Trigger Warning, and a lively panel discussion.

Historian Andrew Lownie will discuss his new biography of Soviet spy Guy Burgess while contemporary Russia will be explored by Oliver Bullough, author of The Last Man in Russia.

As well as bringing literary celebrities to the Island and contributing to the development of event-led tourism, Jersey Festival of Words aims to celebrate and encourage home-grown creative writing, some by Islanders already making their mark nationally such as performance poet Christian Foley, novelist John Samuel and the irrepressible Story Beast, John Henry Falle.

Jenny Lecoat will talk about scripting Another Mother’s Son, the forthcoming cinema release about the Jersey Occupation heroism of her great-aunt, Louisa Gould.

Great war historian Ian Ronayne will explore the part played by Jersey soldiers in the Battle of Guillemont, 100 years ago, and journalist Chris Stone will discuss his book, Dangerous Driving, written with one of the Island’s last Normandy veterans, Bill Reynolds.

Elsewhere, Jersey Heritage will feature in presentations on Lillie Langtry by writer and director Tessa Coleman, and Elinor Glyn, the scandalous Jersey-born literary superstar of the early century, whose life has been fictionalised by Paul Darroch. The best-selling Jersey Legends by Erren Michaels will also feature, as will Jersey poet Nicky Mesch’s new collection, Ice Bound.

Jersey Festival of Words will once again include support for the Island’s own language, Jèrriais, including a performance by Badlabecques at a unique literary cabaret night featuring both local and visiting writers and musicians, to be directed by the Jersey Arts Centre’s Daniel Austin.

And aspiring authors have a chance to display and develop their skills through the Jersey Evening Post Writing Competition, run in association with the festival.

As this year marks the 400th anniversary since the death of England’s greatest writer, Jersey’s own team of talented playwrights – Plays Rough, will be presenting an exciting and varied set of short plays based on their unique interpretation of Shakespeare. ‘Plays Ruff at the Castle: Inglorious Bardsters’ will open the 2016 literary festival on the evening of Wednesday, 28th September, at Mont Orgueil.

 

Jersey Festival of Words chairman Jennifer Bridge said: ‘In our second festival, we continue to celebrate the joy and importance of reading in all its forms in the setting of our beautiful island with its distinctive and inspiring heritage.’

To book an Early Bird Festival Pass (available till end July) please visit http://www.365tickets.je/jersey-festival-of-words-2016. For further information and the full line up visit: www.jerseyfestivalofwords.org

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Chiswick Book Festival 15-19 September

 

Top comedy writers and performers will bring a fresh look to the 8th Chiswick Book Festival, alongside many of Britain’s best-loved novelists, non-fiction writers and children’s authors. Andy Hamilton, Shappi Khorsandi and Mark Watson will talk about their new novels, while the creators of the best-selling ‘Ladybirds for Grown-Ups‘ series, Joel Morris and Jason Hazely, will preview their latest ‘How To…’ books due out this autumn.

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Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Cressida Cowell head the Children’s Book Festival line-up, talking about their bestsellers and introducing their latest books. Children will also be entertained by Jonathan Meres (World of Norm), Rob Biddulph (Odd Dog Out) and the Really Big Pants Theatre Company.

In a feast of crime writing, Paula Hawkins and SJ Watson will describe the process of turning their best-selling novels The Girl On The Train and Before I Go To Sleep into blockbuster films. And Jill Dawson and Sophie Hannah will debate who deserves the title the Queen of Crime: Agatha Christie or Patricia Highsmith?

Spy writer Charles Cumming will analyse what makes a great thriller with former Radio 4 Today producer Peter Hanington, whose first novel has received rave reviews. Nina Stibbe and Cathy Rentzenbrink will discuss what makes a great memoir with Sali Hughes.

Queen Victoria’s biographer AN Wilson will talk about ‘Victoria in Fact & Fiction’ with Daisy Goodwin, who has written ITV’s major new drama series about the young Queen. The centenary of the Battle of the Somme will be marked by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, author of Somme: Into The Breach. Historian Rebecca Rideal will remember 1666, a watershed year for England, 350 years after the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. And novelists Jane Thynne and James MacManus will talk about Berlin in the fateful year 1939, on the eve of World War II.

Other non-fiction highlights include Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson marking 40 years of the Pocket Book of WineFlags, Tim Marshall’s follow-up to his bestseller Prisoners of Geography; a Foodies Question Time; and a panel on Britain, Brexit and Beyond, with Hilary Benn MP, former shadow foreign secretary, Sonia Purnell (Boris) and parliamentary sketch writer John Crace.

Among the novelists, Victoria Hislop will talk to Jane Garvey of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour about her new book; Janet Ellis will discuss her debut novel with Joanna Cannon and Barney Norris, whose first works have also been acclaimed by critics; Mark Lawson will talk to Andy Hamilton about their new novels; and Santa Montefiore and four other bestselling authors will take part in Books In The City: Girls on Tour, a relaxed event with a glass of bubbles for Saturday evening!

All this and much more will take place at the 8th Chiswick Book Festival from September 15 to 19, 2016, in a variety of venues close to Turnham Green tube station on the District Line. The Festival is a non-profit-making community event, raising money for reading-related charities and St Michael & All Angels Church, which organises the Festival.

The full programme is published at the end of July, when tickets go on sale at www.chiswickbookfestival.net. You can follow updates and join in the conversation on Twitter @W4BookFest #ChiswickBookFest.

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WIGTOWN BOOK FESTIVAL 23 September-2 October

Every autumn thousands of people descend on a small town in Dumfries and Galloway to experience Scotland’s greatest literary party.

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Now in its 18th year, the award-winning festival has more than 240 events and activities for all ages across its 10 days, including 35 especially for the 0-12 age group and a dedicated young people’s festival for 13-25s. It has featured many of our most loved children’s authors from Scotland and beyond and this year includes Vivian French, Chae Strathie, Theresa Breslin, Debi Gliori, Philip Ardagh and many more. There are storytelling sessions, workshops and play activities for children, as well as panel debates, dinners and arts events to entertain and inspire the adults.

A host of leading authors (still to be announced) are attending this year’s festival, but here are a few highlights:

Lisa Owens: Not Working

Claire Flannery has quit her job in order to discover her true vocation – only to realise she has no idea how to go about finding it, while all around her seem to have their lives entirely under control. Moving and hilarious, Lisa Owens’ debut novel is a Bridget Jones’s Diary for the 21st century.

 

Chitra Ramaswamy: Expecting

When Chitra Ramaswamy discovered she was having a baby, she longed for a book that did more than describe what was happening in her growing body. In Expecting, she has written it, a brilliant portrait of a pregnancy that sets her own experience beside that of writers and artists, from Mary Shelley to Sylvia Plath.

 

Anne Strathie: From Ice Floes to Battlefields: Scott’s “Antarctics” in the First World War

What happened to the surviving members of Captain Scott’s mission to the South Pole? Anne Strathie talks about her fascinating group biography, which follows them through the first world war, from the trenches of the Western Front and Gallipoli to Jutland and Arctic Russia. As in Antarctica, life is challenging and dangerous. As on the ice, not all survive.

 

Anna Pasternak: Lara

Despite the huge popularity of Dr Zhivago, the real-life love affair that inspired the novel has not been fully explored until now. Pasternak’s muse and the model for his heroine Lara, Olga Ivinskaya was twice sent to Siberia labour camps because she refused to betray her lover. Anna Pasternak – Boris’s great-niece – reveals a tale of almost unimaginable courage, suffering and loss.

 

Anne Barclay, Operational Director of Wigtown Festival Company, organises the children’s festival with input from parents, teachers and children. She says, “We’re really excited about all of the fantastic events we have planned for this year. We have a dedicated venue in Wigtown Primary School which will be decorated beyond recognition and has great facilities all in one place. We’re especially looking forward to our James and the Giant Peach reading den which has been made by local artist Julie Houston.”

As Scotland’s National Book Town, Wigtown offers the perfect space to explore fresh ideas for the whole family – just one reason why it has grown to become the biggest Scottish book festival outside the central belt. Come and join in and inspire our next generation of readers and writers.

Full programme launches in August, for information and tickets visit www.wigtownbookfestival.com.

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Most popular books on Lovereading 17 – 24 July 2016

Lovereading Top 10

1
Modern Lovers Modern Lovers
Emma Straub
July 2016 Book of the Month and eBook of the Month.
A penetrating, witty and very modern look at family life. Two sets of friends from Brooklyn are now middle aged parents of teenagers, focusing on both generations, we see the …
Download free opening extract
2
I Found You I Found You
Lisa Jewell
July 2016 Book of the Month.
A tale of lost memories and hidden secrets but will the truth destroy or heal? Lisa Jewell returns with yet another page-turner as she delves into the darker corners of the mind where the memories …
Download free opening extract
3
Underground Airlines Underground Airlines
Ben H. Winters
July 2016 Book of the Month.
The premise is that four southern states in America did not abolish slavery and formed a republic within the USA. Tightly controlled borders exist and escaped slaves are ruthlessly hunted down. Our protagonist is an …
Download free opening extract
4
The Perfect Gift The Perfect Gift
Emma Hannigan
July 2016 Book of the Month.
Lovely, warm and engaging, ‘The Perfect Gift’ is just that, a delightful treat of a book. Loveable, spirited Roisin always knew she was adopted, she came back home to start up her food emporium and …
Download free opening extract
5
My Husband's Wife My Husband’s Wife
Jane Corry
A thriller, full of family drama and suspense… this is a story that sucks you in and keeps you on the edge of tense uncertainty. The short prologue set my mind racing, the few lines on the following page, proceeded …
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6
The Invitation The Invitation
Lucy Foley
A sophisticated, expressive, and emotional story set in the glamorous Italian film promotion world of the 1950’s. Hal and Stella meet at a party, an immediate connection flares into life, yet the spectre of war holds both in a devastating …
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7
Baby Doll Baby Doll
Hollie Overton
July 2016 Debut of the Month and eBook of the Month.
With an unusual focus, ‘Baby Doll’ is a menacing, yet beautifully compassionate read. Lily escapes captivity after eight years, she has suffered the unthinkable trauma of being mentally and physically …
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8
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises
Fredrik Backman
April 2016 Book of the Month.
Totally and utterly and completely gorgeous in every way, the thought of having to put this book down for even a second is inconceivable. The first few pages make you smile, make you laugh and …
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9
Hearts of Stone Hearts of Stone
Simon Scarrow
With a foray into more recent history than Simon Scarrow’s previous novels, the Greek Resistance in World War Two is brought vividly and violently to life in ‘Hearts of Stone’. The prologue set in 1938 highlights three young friends (two …
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10
When the Music's Over The 23rd DCI Banks Mystery When the Music’s Over The 23rd DCI Banks Mystery
Peter Robinson
July 2016 eBook of the Month.
Challenging, disturbing, and utterly compelling, Peter Robinson has delivered a humdinger of a read. When you reach the 23rd novel in a series, you might expect a little stodginess to have entered proceedings, however this …
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July e-Newsletter

Graham Greene hailed him “the greatest novelist of my generation”. Hilaire Belloc considered him possessed by the Devil. Either way, we are celebrating the great Evelyn Waugh on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Break open Philip Eade’s new, insightful biography, Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited. But if Waugh is not your thing, no problem. There’s something for everyone in our selections this month all with reviews by editorial experts including holiday reads in our hazy, happy, Summer Reading category. PLUS! Win a gourmet getaway in Devon, at the prestigious Horn of Plenty no less, worth £500 to take your new favourite book on! Read on for more.

Words Win Prizes! – Desmond Elliott Prize Winner Announced

Possibly the most coveted prize for UK first novelists, The Desmond Elliott Prize is as characterful as its eponymous patron. A publisher who drank only champagne and resolved passionately to support new writing. Right up our street. The three judges lovingly assessed the hopefuls for a compelling narrative, arresting character and confident storytelling and then chose the simply sensational debut from Lisa McInerney, The Glorious Heresies.

Desmond Elliott Chair of judges Iain Pears said: “We knew we had found a major literary figure of the next generation when we made our choice … Lisa is a genuinely exciting writer – there is electricity running through her prose.”

July Noted! – Books of the Month

July’s bookshelf is a juicy, genre-spanning jamboree of joy! Our favourites are:

The Museum of You by Carys Bray – As moving as it is funny. A heart-warming story of the search for truth and self, from the author of the astounding A Song for Issy Bradley.

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub – A penetrating, witty and very modern look at family, friendships and getting older.

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That’s a First! – July Debuts of the Month

Often a first novel, crammed as it is with passion and hope and all the ambitions of its writer, is hard to surpass. Catch these new authors at their best! Don’t miss:

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola – ‘A grizzly tale of murder in Victorian London that will leave you wanting more…An exciting new voice in historical fiction.’ (Reader Reviewer).

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton – Anyone who has enjoyed The Disappearance and Thirteen on the BBC will devour this gritty and captivating thriller.

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And two great reads published 14 July not to miss…

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown – A big-hearted, summer sojourn into self-discovery, from the best-selling author of The Weird Sisters. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell – Imaginative, illuminating, mind-bending brilliance from one of Britain’s best-sellers! One of our Reader Reviews said ‘I was only disappointed that I needed to break up my reading with a night’s sleep!’

His Maxim is our Maxim – Maxim Jakubowski Recommends

Crime and Sci-Fi guru Maxim Jakubowski has got the wind beneath his wings this month, focusing on the most brilliant books to bung in your beach bag. You won’t find his top tips in the airport shop, but get a copy before you fly. Then sit back, relax and enjoy your summer!

His Book of the Month is The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief by Lisa Tuttle – Witty, exciting, Victorian crime romp, with a delightfully unlikely detective duo.

And Highly Recommended is Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman – Evocative and delicately paced thriller where crimes from the past just won’t go away.

Love Is All Around – If You Like, You’ll Love

You know what you like. We know a lot of other authors we think you’ll like. We tell you about them. You LOVE them! For instance: fans of The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins will love Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon, a thriller so taut and thought-provoking, your coffee will go cold! And, you can find out even more about Holly as we were lucky enough to grab a chat with her – check out  the Author Talk section of  our blog.

A Summer Summary – Summer Reading

A book on a beach, park bench or bay window. Summer just lends itself to flights of fancy. Our special category, split into handy ‘moods’, will help you find the perfect accompaniment to however you’re feeling this summer. See some tasters on the shelf below or click here to see the whole range!

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Book Review: Cultural DNA: The Psychology of Globalization by Gurnek Bains

This fascinating book, which gets under the skin of different cultures to explore how they view the world, could not have come at a better time for British readers.

 

9781118928912Despite the fact that many of us like to see ourselves as truly global citizens living in a multicultural society, recent events in the UK such as the Brexit referendum have revealed that we are, in fact, deeply divided in our attitudes towards, and understanding of, other countries, cultures and religions.

 

Cultural DNA – The Psychology of Globalization is aimed primarily at business leaders, where insights into how foreign markets operate comes with obvious economic benefits, but there’s plenty here to interest anybody curious about the way distinct societal traits have developed over time.

 

Author Gurnek Bains, a noted business psychologist, is the UK’s leading expert and proponent of ‘cultural intelligence’, which is defined as the capability to relate and work effectively across cultures.

 

In the book he draws upon the latest research from the fields of neuroscience, behavioural genetics, psychology and history to explain how and why we are different. It’s heady stuff, but written in a clear and simple way that doesn’t require the reader to have any specialist knowledge to appreciate what’s being conveyed.

 

Bains surveys the complex psychology at play in eight key global cultures ranging from the global powerhouses of the United States and China to India, Europe and Latin America. For each, he explains the drivers that have shaped their predominant mien over thousands of years and which are expressed in everything from their political and financial institutions to the way companies resident in a particular country tend to do business.

 

For example, he reveals how the Pilgrim Fathers have left their mental stamp on successive generations in the USA and how living in a desert environment, where survival is a daily struggle, has heavily influenced the attitudes of peoples from the Middle East.

 

His study of the British, meanwhile, reveals an island nation heavily influenced by its geographic isolation and genetic ancestry to become fiercely independent in temperament. This could help explain our current problems with Europe while other EU members have taken better to the concept of a super-state.

 

Avoiding lazy stereotyping while acknowledging that many stereotypes do indeed have a certain ‘kernel of truth’ at their centre, he looks deep under the surface to get to the very heart of different cultures with the goal of getting us to embrace and harness cultural differences for mutual success.

 

As the co-founder and chairman of global corporate psychology consultancy YSC, which works with 40 per cent of FTSE100 companies, Bains knows full well that many businesses and organisations find themselves facing a difficult balancing act when it comes to dealings with other cultures.

 

By utilising cultural DNA, however, global-facing companies and professionals can anticipate and avoid certain common problems and unintended faux pas, and learn the ‘soft skills’ necessary to seal deals, integrate staff and establish new outposts across the world.

 

The incredible thing about Bains’s model is that it can be used not only to explain cultures but also issues and trends, and make educated predictions about how things will progress. Thus, using his theory of cultural DNA, the author can explain why China has become a world leader in manufacturing while India has excelled in the IT sector, and why some cultures may be more pre-disposed to burn out economically in the future than others.

 

As an Indian married to an Australian and based in London, Bains writes from personal experiences as well as information gleaned through his extensive research and insights from an extensive database of 30,000 business leaders. It is that lifts Cultural DNA above dry theorising and makes it a compelling and an engrossing read.

 

By shining a light on how a region’s early history of migration, warfare and other historical forces has impacted on its collective cultural DNA, the author gives us a powerful perspective on our global neighbours.

 

Enormously helpful as a tool for everyone from the C-Suite executive to politicians, Cultural DNA is also recommended for armchair scientists and anyone simply curious about what makes others tick.

 

Cultural DNA: The Psychology of Globalization by Gurnek Bains (Wiley) is out now in hardback, RRP £16.99 Lovereading price £13.59.

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Most popular books on Lovereading 4 – 11 July 2016

Lovereading Top 10

1
I Found You I Found You
Lisa Jewell
July 2016 Book of the Month.
A tale of lost memories and hidden secrets but will the truth destroy or heal? Lisa Jewell returns with yet another page-turner as she delves into the darker corners of the mind where the memories …
Download free opening extract
2
My Husband's Wife My Husband’s Wife
Jane Corry
A thriller, full of family drama and suspense… this is a story that sucks you in and keeps you on the edge of tense uncertainty. The short prologue set my mind racing, the few lines on the following page, proceeded …
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3
The Glorious Heresies The Glorious Heresies
Lisa McInerney
STOP PRESS… Lisa McInerney wins 2016 Desmond Elliott Prize
Winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016.
A quite simply sensational debut, one that reaches into the beastly heart of prostitution, drugs, and violence, and makes it relatable and so very …
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4
Barkskins Barkskins
Annie Proulx
July 2016 Book of the Month.
For the Wolf Hall readership, this is a huge historical novel to immerse yourself in.  A dramatic, violent, absorbing, long read for which you need to put aside serious time to devour.  You will find …
Download free opening extract
5
The Perfect Gift The Perfect Gift
Emma Hannigan
July 2016 Book of the Month.
Lovely, warm and engaging, ‘The Perfect Gift’ is just that, a delightful treat of a book. Loveable, spirited Roisin always knew she was adopted, she came back home to start up her food emporium and …
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6
The Unseeing The Unseeing
Anna Mazzola
July 2016 Debut of the Month.
A detailed, intriguing and highly enjoyable debut historical thriller. James Greenacre is accused of murdering his bride and his mistress, Sarah Gale, is convicted of aiding him in disposing of her body. Public opinion flares …
Download free opening extract
7
The Museum of You The Museum of You
Carys Bray
July 2016 Book of the Month.
Now that Clover is twelve she can have a key to her home while her father drives the local bus and she can remain there alone.  She has the allotment to water and tend and …
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8
A Quiet Life A Quiet Life
Natasha Walter
July 2016 Debut of the Month.
Wife. Mother. Spy. The publisher’s blurb tells us. Now Laura just wants a ‘a quiet life’ and so we follow her to that conclusion. As a young American woman just before World War II she …
Download free opening extract
9
The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief
Lisa Tuttle
Maxim Jakubowski’s July 2016 Book of the Month.
From one of the SF and fantasy & horror field’s most urbane – and much under-appreciated- writers, the first in a series of lightweight and terribly witty Victorian adventures to feature the cases …
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10
Fates and Furies Fates and Furies
Lauren Groff
Shortlisted for the National Book Award / Chosen by Barack Obama as his favourite book of 2015 / One of our Books of the Year 2015. Bold and surprising in character and style, Fates and Furies is a fascinating novel that …
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July Festival Update. Niddfest and Edinburgh Book Festival

NIDDFEST 5-7 August

Niddfest-logo

Following a successful inaugural year in 2015, NiddFest is returning to the picturesque landscape of Nidderdale, Yorkshire, from 5th-7th August, to present a weekend programme of literary greats. Focusing on celebrating nature in writing, the 2016 programme includes an intimate opening night with festival patron and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and ‘world laureate’ Imtiaz Dharker, a lively children’s programme, a talk from legendary peace activist Satish Kumar, wild swimming and music from Mercury Prize-nominated Kathryn Williams. Taking place over three days, in venues such as the Grade 2 listed church St Chad’s and Fish Pond

Wood in Bewerley, NiddFest captures the unique spirit of the Yorkshire Dales, whilst providing a platform to world-class authors, poets and experts.

 

Outdoor events

In a true celebration of nature, a number of the events will take place outside. The first day of the programme includes a wood walk and wild swim, followed by a picnic. This will be led by a local woodsman, who will speak about managing ancient woodland. Other highlights are a spot of stargazing with members of the Yorkshire Astrological society, a Dawn Chorus bird walk with author Nick Davies, and a walking tour of Nidderdale’s meadows with leading advocate of the new naturalistic style of planting, Dr Noel Kingsbury, who will be exploring plant communities in the wild.

 

 

Literary Programme

Championing the best in nature writing, NiddFest is joined by poets Carol Ann Duffy and Imtiaz Dharker, and authors Adam Feinstein, Nick Davies, Ali Shaw and John Lewis-Stempel. These authors will be discussing their books, covering a range of topics from ecology in a post-apocalyptic world (Ali Shaw’s novel The Trees) to the trickery of cuckoos (Nick Davies’ new work Cuckoo-Cheating by Nature). Other special events include a talk with Indian activist, editor and writer Satish Kumar who became internationally famous with his peace walk in the 1960s, and who will be speaking on the opening night of the festival about his new book Soil, Soul and Society. Former Head of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper, will also be speaking about what is really happening to our planet.

 

Some of the UK’s foremost garden writers are also joining the programme, with British presenter and gardener Christine Walkden, well known for her appearances on the One Show and The Great British Garden Revival, talking about her new book, The Life of a Gardener.

 

Childrens Programme

The children’s programme has been extended this year, including everything from den building to a big draw with children’s author and illustrator Helen Stephens and a recreation of the Brambly Hedge ‘Wilfred’s Birthday Party’. There will also be nature games with the director of the Save Childhood Movement Hattie Garlick. Indoor events will take place in the designated 120-seat children’s tent on the banks of the river Nidd, whilst den building and other activities will allow children to explore nature in a safe and fun environment.

 

Ticket information: Tickets are per event and range from £3 to £24. They will be available from

www.niddfest.com.

 

Line-Up

Carol Ann Duffy, John Lewis-Stempel, Christine Walkden, Tony Juniper

Imtiaz Dharker, Satish Kumar, Nick Davies, Ali Shaw, Noel Kingsbury, Adam Feinstein

Childrens

Brambly Hedge, Helen Stephens, Hattie Garlick

Music

Kathryn Williams and The Barrowband

 

NiddFest Comes South

NiddFest will be popping up at the Curious Arts Festival (22-24 July 2016). Friends of the festival will be appearing throughout this three day music and arts event at Pylewell Park in Hampshire. NiddFest speakers include Jackie Bennett, Stephen Moss and Carol Ann Duffy. Kit Peel, NiddFest Festival Director, will lead an event on the lost language of the countryside, reading extracts from his new book Snow Summer.

Other highlights are a spot of stargazing with members of the Yorkshire Astrological society, a Dawn Chorus bird walk with author Nick Davies, and a walking tour of Nidderdale’s meadows with leading advocate of the new naturalistic style of planting, Dr Noel Kingsbury, who will be exploring plant communities in the wild.

 

 

EDINBURGH BOOK FESTIVAL 13-29 August

 

edinburg-book-festIn a world of global uncertainty and shifting influence, this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival explores the power of the human mind to imagine a better world. Events address interlinking questions on the impact of conflict; Europe’s place in the world and our place in Europe; the implications of the current refugee crisis; the effect of migration on Scots both here at home and around the globe and the role of society in our wellbeing. Over 800 writers, poets, illustrators, politicians, journalists, historians, scientists, philosophers and playwrights from 55 countries come together to energise, inspire and stimulate debate in Charlotte Square Gardens in August.

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “You could say that the theme of this year’s Festival is ‘Project No Fear’. It’s about encouraging and celebrating the sort of courageous, positive, creative thinking that we desperately need in order to make the world a better place for everyone, rather than just for a privileged few. Novelists, journalists, scientists and poets – writers are the people we always turn to at a time when we need to imagine better. We welcome legendary novelists, prize-winning journalists and life-changing poets, as well as emerging talents whose unforgettable stories will revolutionise our future thinking. All in all, it’s a Festival bursting at the seams with big ideas.”

Bestselling American author, Jonathan Safran Foer travels to Edinburgh to launch his new book, Here I Am, his first novel in over a decade. Han Kang, author of The Vegetarian and winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, is joined by her translator, Deborah Smith, to discuss the key role of translation in bringing international fiction to an English-speaking audience.  Doyenne of historical fiction Philippa Gregory introduces her new Tudor novel; Eimear McBride launches the follow-up to her award-winning A Girl is a Half Formed Thing and Prue Leith gives a glimpse into the second in her Food of Love series.  Scottish actor Alan Cumming, comedian Stewart Lee and survival expert Ray Mears also offer sneak previews of their brand new books.  Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown addresses globalisation and the new populism; Mark Thompson, formerly the Director General of the BBC, launches his argument on why the internet and 24 hour news has failed to lead to better democracy; leading German historian Jürgen Osterhammel brings his panoramic history of the 19th century and young Edinburgh entrepreneur Fraser Doherty introduces his guide to setting up a successful business in 48 hours.

Other world renowned authors making their first appearance in Edinburgh include Thomas Keneally from Australia, one of China’s leading novelists Can Xue, Mexican writer Álvaro Enrigue and Jean-Christophe Rufin, co-founder of Médecins sans Frontières.  From the world of sport, David Millar, Chris Boardman and Mark Beaumont will talk about their lives in cycling and former goalkeeper Packie Bonner recalls his 30 year career with Celtic and Ireland.

Three Guest Selectors have created a series of events: author and journalist Bidisha discusses the refugee crisis, its human realities and its deep political and economic roots with Wolfgang Bauer, one of the first undercover reporters to document the journey of Syrian refugees from Egypt to Europe, and Gulwali Passarlay who at the age of 12 was smuggled away from Afghanistan and endured a 12 month journey before arriving in the UK. She is joined by journalists Patrick Kingsley and Charlotte McDonald-Gibson who examine the economic and political causes behind the current crisis in the Mediterranean and Sudan-born writer Ahmed al-Malik, who fled to the Netherlands in 1989, and writes of modern day Khartoum. Graphic novelists Bessora and Karrie Fransman have created visual tales of migrant journeys, Ben Rawlence offers an insight into the world’s largest refugee camp and Lucy Popescu discusses her human rights work.  Elsewhere in the programme Leila Al-Shami and Robin Yassin-Kassab look at the situation in Syria; Mostafa Salameh, the son of Palestinian refugees, talks of his life in the UK; respected Lebanese novelist Nada Awar Jarrar and Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan discuss their fictional accounts of encounters with refugees while Margaret Malloch and Paul Rigby explore all sides of human trafficking.

The newly appointed Scottish Makar, Jackie Kay, is interviewed by Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland. In her Guest Selector series Kay examines the importance of poetry in everyday life.  She talks to Zaffar Kunial about being a British writer of mixed heritage in the 21st century; with her son, Matthew about the impact of war and anti-war poetry on her grandfather and with the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.  Poetry touches every strand in the programme – Hollie McNish reads from her poetic memoir of pregnancy; Billy Bragg presents some of his best-loved songs; Luke Wright introduces some of the original protest poets including Attila the Stockbroker and Tim Wells and also performs his poetic and political play What I Learned from Johnny Bevan.   William Letford and Lemn Sissay launch their new collections and Chimwemwe Undi, who was born in South Africa, of Xhosa heritage, and is now a spoken word poet living in Winnipeg, speaks powerfully of the immigrant experience and what it means to call a place home.

The third Guest Selector, GP and author Gavin Francis, examines the intersections between medicine and literature through poetry, memoir, journalism, essay and fiction. He discusses Tools of the Trade, a pocket-sized poetry anthology which is given to all new doctors in Scotland and brings together neurosurgeon James R Doty and GP John Gillies, who is leading the Edinburgh University Compassion Initiative.  Francis also talks to poet, physician and translator Iain Bamforth; discusses motherhood with Chitra Ramaswamy and Eula Biss and mental health with Ruby Wax.

American theatre-maker Bryan Doerries brings his extraordinary performance Theatre of War, which uses the plays of the Ancient Greeks to make sense of contemporary trauma.  Matthew Green looks at the causes and treatment of PTSD while Harry Parker and Victoria Hendry turn to fiction to examine the post combat lives of soldiers.  Christopher Rush ponders the contradictions in our attitudes to war and peace; Max Hastings offers a new perspective on WWII and General Sir Richard Shirreff, former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, warns of future confrontation with Russia.

The Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme encourages young people to exercise their imagination with stories from picture books to gripping teen thrillers.  Including energetic performances from Julia Donaldson and Kristina Stephenson, books from Cecilia Ahern, Sophie Kinsella, Julian Clary and Andy Stanton and celebrations of Shakespeare, Roald Dahl, Paddington, Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter and a Big Draw and workshops from Illustrator in Residence, Alex T Smith, this vibrant celebration of ideas offers something for everyone from babies to teens.  There are rapping bears, singing farmers, giant talking beetles, dinosaurs, gymnasts, heroes, heroines, mythical and magical creatures and older readers will discover moving and uplifting tales of coming of age, friendship, family and finding themselves.

For further information and to book tickets visit: www.edbookfest.co.uk

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Book Review. The Sleepless by Nuzo Onoh

A dark horror story, steeped in supernatural suspense and based on the author’s experiences growing up in war-torn Biafra, The Sleepless is the latest bone-chiller from Nuzo Onoh, the British-Nigerian author dubbed the ‘Queen of African Horror’.

9781909484863Set against the backdrop of the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War of the late 1960s, which the author actually lived through, this is a tale of evil acts carried out on innocent children, and of wronged and restless spirits hungry for revenge.

The most shocking events of the book, however, are perpetrated not by the ghouls and wraiths of the story, but by mere mortals.

The story takes place in a small Nigerian town where blood sacrifices are commonplace and curses, hauntings and demonic possessions are seen as part of the fabric of life – and death.

The novel grips the reader’s attention from the very first pages. The blood-curdling scene is set when a father lures his young son, who has Down’s syndrome and a polio-weakened leg, to a dark forest where gruesome cats prowl.

The boy has been promised a ‘secret present’, but instead is offered as a sacrifice to the local witchdoctor. In exchange, the witchdoctor promises that the man will soon have a “healthy” son.

The rest of the story is shown from the point of view of the boy’s young sister, Obele. Since birth, Obele has been guided by a protective ‘Mother Voice’ who whispers to her the terrible truth about her brother’s death.

Obele soon learns that she must not speak of the voice in her head. Suspected of witchcraft and demonic possession, she is less afraid of the undead than she is of the living.

Obele’s father is a brutally violent man, and Obele knows that her brother is not the only child in the village to have met a cruel fate at the hands of heartless adults.

Guided by the ‘Mother Voice’, Obele begins to communicate with the ghosts of murdered children, and finds herself protected against death by their terrifying supernatural powers.

But at what price is this ghostly protection? Who does the Mother Voice belong to, and does it mean her harm?

Since releasing her first book, 2014’s short story collection The Reluctant Dead, Nuzo Onoh has quickly gained a reputation for having launched a new sub-genre of horror writing: African Horror.

The Sleepless continues in this vain, weaving in West African folklore and culture to provide something new and out of the ordinary for even the most hardened horror fan.

The supernatural elements of the book are far from the only terrifying aspects of this story, which deals with real-world issues including child sacrifice, sexual abuse, opposing religions, and the horrors of war.

Indeed, the author’s first-hand experiences of growing up in war-torn Biafra enrich the narrative and brings a level of authenticity and vividness to the novel that no amount of research by itself could hope to convey.

Despite The Sleepless being entertainment, albeit of the most frightening kind, it is sobering to think of the millions of children who lost their lives during the civil war – something Nuzo touches on in the book’s introduction with a heart-felt dedication to all those figures, including author Frederick Forsyth, who helped raise awareness in the West of the atrocities taking place in Biafra.

Not for the faint of heart, The Sleepless will thrill readers who like their ghost stories to haunt them long after the last page is turned.

The book was also featured on The Arts Hour, BBC World Service (broadcast), aired July 3, 2016
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03zhg9r

The Sleepless (Canaan-Star Publishing) by Nuzo Onoh is out now, priced £7.99 in paperback and £2.99 as an eBook. Visit www.nuzoonoh.com

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Top 10 most popular titles on Lovereading 20 – 26 June 2016

Lovereading Top 10

1
Dear Amy Dear Amy
Helen Callaghan
June 2016 MEGA Debut of the Month.
Margot Lewis is a classics teacher in a Cambridge school. She’s also the agony aunt for the local newspaper, dealing with problems from the loneliness of a recent widower to a teenager wondering if …
Download free opening extract
2
Barkskins Barkskins
Annie Proulx
June 2016 Book of the Month.
For the Wolf Hall readership, this is a huge historical novel to immerse yourself in.  A dramatic, violent, absorbing, long read for which you need to put aside serious time to devour.  You will find …
Download free opening extract
3
My Italian Bulldozer My Italian Bulldozer
Alexander McCall Smith
June 2016 Book of the Month.
A fabulously quirky, ‘standalone’ romance-cum-farce from this feel-good author.  Abandoned by his long-time girlfriend, travel writer Paul goes to Tuscany to research his next book.  Arrangements are made but upon arrival no car is available.  …
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4
Black Rabbit Hall Black Rabbit Hall
Eve Chase
June 2016 MEGA Debut of the Month.
Pencraw Hall, Cornwall, is a beautiful old house, the holiday retreat for the well-off Alton family of four children, twins and then a couple much younger, a hard-working father and a young, gregarious American …
Download free opening extract
5
How to Find Love in a Book Shop How to Find Love in a Book Shop
Veronica Henry
June 2016 eBook of the Month.
A lovely, gentle read, full of interesting characters, and at the heart of it all, a rather wonderful book shop called Nightingale Books. In this charming romance, we take a peek into the lives of …
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6
The Hanging Club The Hanging Club
Tony Parsons
June 2016 Book of the Month.
The third in the London based detective series featuring a man I really like, one Max Wolf, second in command in the Saville Row Crime Squad. His very human female boss here has some sad …
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7
The Unseeing The Unseeing
Anna Mazzola
A detailed, intriguing and highly enjoyable debut historical thriller. James Greenacre is accused of murdering his bride and his mistress, Sarah Gale, is convicted of aiding him in disposing of her body. Public opinion flares up against Sarah and the …
Download free opening extract
8
The Fire Child The Fire Child
S. K. Tremayne
A sublimely creepy slow burning thriller, a tale where the countdown to Christmas is a chilling one. Rachel tells her own story, she has just married widower David and moved into his huge family home, Carnhallow House, on the site …
Download free opening extract
9
A Quiet Life A Quiet Life
Natasha Walter
June 2016 Debut of the Month.
Wife. Mother. Spy. The publisher’s blurb tells us. Now Laura just wants a ‘a quiet life’ and so we follow her to that conclusion. As a young American woman just before World War II she …
Download free opening extract
10
The Crow Girl The Crow Girl
Erik Axl Sund
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.
If you thought The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the epitome of Nordic noir’s savage darkness, think again. Graphic, violent and weaving a thread of evil with the dexterity of a malevolent spider, this Swedish …
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Author Talk with Holly Seddon

Author Holly Seddon talks to Lovereading about her Psychological Thriller Try Not to Breathe.

Author photo © James Seddon

Author photo © James Seddon

For how long have Alex and Amy from Try Not To Breathe been resident in your mind? Have they ever kept you up at night? 

Alex and Amy have kept me awake many nights! Amy came to me first and she’s the one that I worried about the most. I wanted to get her story and her voice just right, and do justice to her situation. Alex came to me second, once I’d started writing and needed a character to take up Amy’s story. At first she was fairly functional and then something happened, I pictured her pouring her drink and closing the curtains and I realised she was a whole, damaged person in her own right. But then I also thought endlessly about Jacob too!

When did you know that you had all of the jigsaw pieces ready to write your first novel? 

I’m not sure that I did know! It was more like a compulsion to write it, even when I really should have been doing other things. I’ve always written stories and always hoped to write a novel but, maybe like having a child, you never really know if you’re ready. And there’s a lot of trial and error in the first, messy draft.

Did Amy’s condition come first or Amy? How did you decide when artistic licence should take precedence over fact?

Amy’s condition came first. I was gripped by the idea of a patient in this state, but more from the point of view of the people left behind. How do you grieve when your loved one is still there? Should you grieve? How do you keep hopeful when the odds are so long? With fiction, I think you make a deal with a reader that you will be using imagination and artistic licence but within the framework of it being plausible. I hope!

How have your reading tastes changed as you’ve grown from child to teenager to adult? 

I have a lot less time to read now and that makes me very sad! It’s such a pleasure to just read and read for hours, to lose yourself in another world. I still read widely, just not for as long so I’m a lot more picky with that precious time. I’ve got a bit more soppy since having kids too, I can’t read anything about terrible things happening to children! I used to read supernatural nonsense and gore (like most kids and teens) but now I’m more interested in characters. Metaphorical skeletons in the closet rather than real ones!

9781782399452-2What is the best experience you’ve had since becoming an author?

When my mum sent me a photo of my dad holding my book in their local bookshop. I cried like a baby!

Do you have a strange book habit that you’d like to admit to?

When I wrote the chapters from Amy’s point of view in the hospital, I could only write them lying in my bed. Nice excuse, eh?

What is your writing routine? 

Shambolic! My idea of heaven is getting up about ten o’clock, going to the gym, and then having someone bring me endless tea while I spend the whole day writing. Maybe writing from a poolside lounger!

The reality is getting up about six and fumbling about, trying – and failing – to get the baby back to sleep and then writing in bursts whenever I can. I write during nap times, I write in the evening and I write two afternoons a week when I have childcare. I also stop in the middle of the pavement to make urgent notes on my phone about the current work in progress, I make notes while I’m at the gym and I’ve even got out of the swimming pool before and run, slipping and dripping, into the changing room to type out a bit of dialogue on my phone before it leaves my head. It must be very annoying to those around me but needs must!

What makes you smile?

I love comedies like Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Arrested Development. And having a really good roast dinner with my family. We live in Amsterdam now and I miss British roasts like you wouldn’t believe.

If you could write anywhere in the world, that you’ve not yet visited, where would it be and why? 

I’d love to go on a writing retreat anywhere quiet but especially somewhere in Ireland or Cornwall.

For years I’ve been obsessed with Skara Brae, a Neolithic village on one of the Orkney Islands. A whole slice of Neolithic life is preserved there and I find it fascinating. All those lost stories.

How did you feel when ‘Try Not To Breathe’ was ready to print, were you completely ready to release it to the world? 

I really trusted that everyone who had worked on the book – my agent, editors, proofreaders, copyeditors, designers and so on – were so passionate and so knowledgeable that even though I was a novice, it was in really safe hands. I was nervous, you feel very vulnerable putting something out there that you’ve created out of your own mind, but I was so happy to finally realise a lifelong ambition that my normal hyper-anxiety took a back seat!

How has your journalism career helped or hindered your novel writing one? 

I think it’s helped with discipline. I’m used to daily deadlines, so sitting down and writing every day feels normal. It also helped with research and some practicalities: I wrote some ‘clippings’ of news stories from different publications in Try Not to Breathe and of course one of the main characters is a journalist, so that felt comfortable.

But publishing books is a far slower process and I had to learn to slow myself down and also adjust my expectations of how long things would take. I also realised that I wasn’t expected to fly by the seat of my pants all the time, and could take time to get everything right. I learned so much with this first book, and that’s really helping with book two.

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