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Ask the Author: Samantha Shannon

By Vikki Patis

I spoke to author Samantha Shannon ahead of the publication of her new novel, The Mime Order.



The year is 2059. Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant – and under Scion law, she commits treason simply by breathing.

Elsewhere, however, there is a seat of power even greater than Scion. And they have a different design for Paige and her uncommon abilities…


samantha-shannon-the-mime-orderBorn in Hammersmith in 1991, Shannon has lived in the city’s western suburbs ever since. In 2010, she began studying English Language and Literature at St Anne’s College in Oxford, and published her first novel, The Bone Season, in 2013. The Bone Season marked the beginning of a seven-book series, published by Bloomsbury.

A fan of old music, gramophones, good coffee and real books, Shannon has four siblings, four parents, and a male tortoise named Lily-Beth. Her second novel, The Mime Order, will be published on the 27 January this year.

Shannon and I are the same age. This both frightens and inspires me. I wanted to know how a young woman has managed to embark upon such a successful career as an author.

I wanted to be a writer since I was about twelve or thirteen. I’d always been a voracious reader, and I’d written little stories before that, but it wasn’t until then that I became fully aware of the idea that people actually created stories for a living. As a child, I’d been so interested in books that I’d never really paid attention to the names on the cover. I knew, then, that there was nothing else in the world I’d rather do.

She takes a lot of her inspiration from cities.

I am endlessly fascinated by cities, which is one of the reasons I love travelling so much. Each person, each building, each street, and each district has its own story to tell, and its own song to sing. The core ideas of The Bone Season and The Mime Order came from living in London and Oxford.

9781408857397Her advice to aspiring writers is to listen to your gut instinct.

Be open to critique, but don’t feel like you have take too much advice. Remember, it’s your story, and nobody can tell it quite like you can. Listen to your gut instinct. 

Before she was published, Shannon was concerned about not having a say when it came to how her book looked. But her fears were unfounded.

It would have been comforting to know that I’d be able to stay in control of how my work was presented. My publisher, Bloomsbury, always asks for my opinion on things like cover design and illustrations.

Shannon is currently working on the third book in the Bone Season series, which she’s hoping will be finished in time for publication in 2016. She will also be on tour in the US and the UK.

This year I’ll be on tour in the US from the 9th to the 15th of February. I’ll be appearing in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Missouri, Utah, and California. I’m also doing various events around the UK from January onwards.

For more information on her tour, check her website.

As she has to focus on her own writing for a while, Shannon is not currently reading anything.

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon is published by Bloomsbury on 27th January 2015, £12.99 hardback and £10.99 eBook.

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Mid January Update

The days might be cold and the nights dark but it does give you more time to read, so we are pleased to say we have a selection of hand-picked fiction and non-fiction titles to help you choose your next book. And why not consider banishing those winter blues with a visit to the first of this year’s literary festivals? Purbeck 16 February – 1 March or The Independent Bath Literature Festival 27 February – 8 March. Both of them are packed with author events to warm the heart, inspire the mind and boost the spirits.

See the Future – Pre-Publication Exclusives

Where can you read an exclusive extract of a specially chosen book before it’s been officially published, you ask? Right here. That’s where. This month, we love:

Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle – An enthralling historical romp, danger, intrigue, lies and survival, follow up to Queen’s Gambit. It was also raved about by our Reader Reviewers ‘The attention to detail is both engrossing and insightful‘, ‘This book simply blew me away‘.

And if you are looking for a novel that will make you laugh, cry and remind you that the most important thing in life is the most simple – the people you love – then try The Two of Us by Andy Jones. Perfect for fans of David Nicholls and Nick Hornby.

Finally Closer Than You Think by Karen Rose – A real page turner that has everything, murder, family, love and history… that was also No. 5 in the Lovereading top 10 ‘Readers’ Choice’ Books of the Year 2014. The paperback is published in February.

Other great pre-publication reads are:


Beauty and Brains – The Women’s War-Effort at Bletchley Park

Literally steeped in ‘enigma’, the work of the code-crackers at Bletchley Park is a rich seam of awe-inspiring stories. Heralded by Churchill as the “geese that laid the golden eggs”, 8,000 of the 12,000 Bletchley workers were women, often overlooked. There are two new books that tell their stories. Michael Smith’s The Debs of Bletchley Park and Other Stories From the Debutante and the Stripper to the Wren and the Student it was these ‘real people’, all women, who worked at Bletchley Park to break the codes and helped to win the war. They are an incredible set of women, and this is their story. And, The Bletchley Girls by Tessa Dunlop – A thrilling glimpse into a truly fascinating world.

Hail Mary! – Mary Gibson’s Jam and Roses

Acclaimed author of Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts, the gripping tales of Bermondsey working-class women in WWI, has followed up with an equally beguiling sequel.

Mary Gibson’s Jam and Roses lays bare the lives and dreams of three sisters in the midst of the General Strike (1926) and a violent home.

Her soul-engulfing writing is testament to the truth that you can become a successful author at any age. Read her books and her own story here.

Dangers in Paradise

From the pen of the screenwriter of the TV hit Death in Paradise comes A Meditation on Murder by Robert Thorogood, a compellingly enjoyable Agatha Christie-esque whodunit. We recommend you curl up indoors, escape to the Caribbean and bask in the warmth radiating from the pages of this gripping locked-room mystery.

It is, simply, a fantastic cosy read and we defy you not to be charmed!’

Words and Action! – Books that Inspire Film-makers

Since audiences first ducked in fright as the Lumière brothers screened: ‘Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat‘ in 1895, the movies have held an unrivalled fascination for folk of all ages. Many of the “greats” were great books first and well, the book is always better! We have selected 4 adaptations that hit the silver screen in the next few weeks. Read the book first and see if the film is up to scratch, or see the film then read the book to enhance your enjoyment. You can also win a £20 cinema voucher in our free prize draw.

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain. One of the most famous autobiographies of WWI – Cripplingly moving, hopeful and passionate record of a lost generation. Travelling to Infinity: The True Story Behind the Theory of Everything by Jane Hawking. Honest and often painful… a marriage under the strain of fame, illness and the search for truth.

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. Mind-boggling, neon-noir, psychedelic ’60s romp, that manages to be very funny and thought-provokingly wistful at the same time. Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James. Love it or hate it, the film starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson is likely to be one of the biggest of 2015. Out on Valentine’s Day.

Worlds of the War – World War Literature

2014 was the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One and the commemorative response was enormous. We, in our own way, created a whole section dedicated to the amazing literature, stories of courage, loss and of ordinary lives in extraordinary circumstances. Lest we forget. Now in 2015 on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War you will find a new category with a range of titles selected by our experts covering both World Wars.

Below you’ll find a small selection of ‘Our Class of 2014‘ for you to browse in case you missed any or visit the website to find them all.

So, Happy New Year! Happy New Reading! From all of us. See you in February with some perfect antidotes to the winter blues.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s A Year of Books Reading Challenge

January 2015 Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook posted the message below….

‘My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.

I’m excited for my reading challenge. I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.’ He has called this A Year of Books.

A year in books

To make it easy to follow Mark Zuckerberg’s selections we will be featuring them all on this blog post – and in time on a special category on the website.


Book 1 January: The End of Power by Moises Naim

The End of Power From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge isn’t What it Used to be argues that in every field of endeavor – business, religion, politics, and all matters of war and peace – power is no longer what it used to be.

The author deftly delineates the shifting global dynamics in control, authority and expertise between the traditionally dominant megaplayers and the newly ascendant micropowers.

Book 2 January: The Better Angels of Our Nature A History of Violence and Humanity by Steven Pinker

This title was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2012 and argues that, contrary to popular belief, humankind has become progressively less violent, over millenia and decades. Can violence really have declined?

The images of conflict we see daily on our screens from around the world suggest this is an almost obscene claim to be making. Extraordinarily, however, Steven Pinker shows violence within and between societies – both murder and warfare – really has declined from prehistory to today.


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THE INDEPENDENT BATH LITERATURE FESTIVAL 2015 27 February –8 March. Since it started in 1995 Bath Literature Festival has welcomed the finest living writers and thinkers to the city and in 2015 we mark its 20th Anniversary with a spectacular celebratory programme.


BATH IMAGE RE-SIZEDIn Bath’s biggest venue, the 1500-­seater Forum, Edinburgh Fringe sell-out show and last  year’s festival sensation Austentatious will  create an entirely  new  Jane Austen novel before  your very eyes.

Channel 4’s Jon Snow returns to Bath to chair this year’s Big Debate:  The American Dream is Dead with panelists Paul Mason, Channel 4’s Economics Editor and The Independent’s Yasmin Alibhai-­Brown who will argue that the era of America’s cultural and economic dominance is over.

Arguing that the dream is still alive and we should keep faith with the values of wealth and  aspiration are Justin Webb (Today presenter and former BBC North America correspondent) and Sarah Churchwell, American academic and Great Gatsby specialist.

We celebrate the role of Poetry in our lives with a tribute to Ted Hughes, the former Poet Laureate, who appeared at the festival 20 years ago and read his poems to over a thousand people in The Forum. Hosted by Bel  Mooney, one of the founders of the Bath Literature Festival, this is a magical recreation of that event, one of his last major public appearances only  a  few  years before his death. His daughter, the poet Frieda Hughes joins Melvyn Bragg, Jonathan Dimbleby, ‘Downton doctor’ David Robb and poet-playwright-rapper Kate Tempest, 2014 Mercury Prize Nominee and winner of the 2013 Ted Hughes Prize for ‘Brand New Ancients’ for this inspirational event.


Alastair Campbell in  the  first  public  event  about  writing his  new  book  about  leadership, competition,  elections and  the  psychology  behind  a  winning  mind set  with  Gavin  Esler. We  welcome  the  best ­‐read  couple  in  Britain  and  two  of  the  most  powerful  people  in publishing Richard  Madeley and  Judy Finnigan.

The Japanese born British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro who will talk to Alex Clark about The  Buried  Giant his  first  novel  since  Never  Let  Me  Go  ten  years  ago.

After  the  success  of  last  year’s  Bliss  Lectures,  we  once  again  invite  well-known  writers to talk  about  their  passions.  This year’s lecturers include Lynne Truss on The Sound of  One’s Own Voice…Uninterrupted; John Carey on Beekeeping, Kate Mosse on Adventure Fiction; Fay Weldon on Editing and Elif Shafak on Turkey.

A specially commissioned reading of Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth, brought to life by EastEnders star Annette Badland and directed by Chrys Salt. Mary Portas talking about her newly published memoir Shop Girl. We are also focusing on contemporary American writers including George Prochnik, Tara Mohr, fiction writer Nicole Mary Kelby, and the incredible deaf novelist Louise Stern and we have a dedicated Science and Economics strand curated by the economist Tim Harford.

Bath Literature Festival 2015 logo (reversed)Other great names at this year’s festival include: Ben Okri, Omid Djalili, Helen Lederer, Shami Chakrabati, Andrew Motion, Meg Rosoff, John Crace, Sadie Jones, Helen McGinn, Michelle Mone, James Naughtie, Anita Anand, Simon Singh, Michael Frayn, Antonia Fraser, Tracy Borman, Emma Bridgewater, Polly Toynbee, David Walker, Christopher Frayling, Alison Weir, Linda Grant, Sarah Brown, Julia Hobsbawm, Simon Schama, Blake Morrison, Rachel Cusk, Andrew O’Hagan, Celia Imrie, Mark Bostridge and Margaret Heffernan.

The full 20th anniversary programme, which features the best in contemporary fiction both at home and abroad,  intelligent debate, inspirational master classes, comedy,  science, performance, politics, poetry and a range of  specially commissioned Bliss Lectures, opens for general booking on Monday 19 January 2015.

Go to

To become a Friend or Patron and benefit from Priority Booking (opening Friday 2 January) call   01225 462231

Bath Box Office Tel: 01225 463362.

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Ask the Author: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

As I state in the Author’s Note in the back of My Heart and Other Black Holes, I began to write the book in January 2013, a few days after the death of one of my very closest friends. I found myself in a place of deep grief and working almost compulsively on the manuscript was one of the ways in which I dealt with those feelings.

So while one of the major inspirations for the book stemmed from my own grief, I also pulled inspiration from a desire to write about the importance of love and all of its many forms (familial love, friendship love, romantic love, and most importantly self-love). Though Aysel and Roman’s relationship certainly drives the main thread of the plot, the book for me has always foremost been about Aysel’s journey to self-love and self-acceptance.

Depression is such a tricky disease to understand because it usually doesn’t present in any physical way; you don’t lose your hair, you don’t lose a limb, you don’t break out in a violent rash. But on the inside, you feel terrible. Your mind is your own worst bully, which makes self-love a nearly impossible prospect at times. Even though depression can be nearly impossible to physically detect, it is certainly a very serious disease; however despite depression’s severity (and oftentimes its longevity), it doesn’t have to be a terminal disease.

And so I set out to write a book that not only illuminates the realities of depression, but also showcases what I believe to be one of the most important components to battling and surviving depression: love and human connection. At the start of the book, Aysel is very isolated, but as the novel progresses, and she begins to let Roman into her life, she starts to see her world, including herself, from a new perspective, and this makes all the difference.

What Roman does for Aysel is what I think is one of the most beautiful things about friendship—how our friends help us to see ourselves through a different, more forgiving lens. Through our friends’ love, we learn to accept and love ourselves. Sometimes we even learn to find strengths where we used to see only weakness, find beauty where before we only saw ugliness. My dear friend who passed away certainly did that for me, and while the actual storyline of the novel is not based on him in any way, that particular kernel of inspiration stemmed from my grief of losing such an important person and desire to write a story that hopefully honors the strength and importance of human connection.

I hope readers of My Heart and Other Black Holes will be reminded of the people in their life that they love. That the book will encourage them to be kind and gentle with those loved ones. And even more importantly, I hope after finishing the book, readers will learn to be kinder and gentler to themselves because self-love and self-acceptance are paramount. Jasmine Warga.

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Purbeck Lit Fest plans packed programme for Second Festival

Purbeck LitFest weblogoPlans are in place for a packed two week programme for the 2nd Purbeck Literary Festival. Launching on 16 February (half term) and running until 1 March; events are being put together to appeal to both readers and writers of all ages, across one of the most beautiful areas of Dorset, in a range of venues. Hopefully everyone, both local and visiting, will get the opportunity to take part, whether it’s a library visit by a school or joining your Mum and friends at an author tea in a hotel.

The festival will launch with a free, drop-in children’s storytelling event by Martin Maudsley at The National Trust Visitor Centre, Castle View, Corfe Castle on February 16th. The Dorset-based storyteller is renowned for his unique sense of place and for creating magical tales in beautiful historical locations. He is currently touring across the UK with his new production of Peter and the Wolf. This will be a treat for all the family.

MathewsCarole+Winter_smHighlights of the festival include: Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown at Swanage Library on February 26th, novelist and screen writer Natasha Solomons at Winfrith Village Hall on Friday February 20th. Sunday Times best-selling novelist Carole Matthews will crown the two week programme, hosting a ‘bubbly afternoon,’ of chat, tea and fizz at the wonderful Victorian Grand Hotel, Swanage on February 23rd. The hotel has a legacy from Dorset’s literary past, as Purbeck resident Enid Blyton was a frequent teatime visitor.

The festival will provide an opportunity to explore the area, take part in master classes, poetry nights, competitions, literary walks, Q and A’s, story slams, exhibitions, drawing, music and a chance to get up close and personal with some fantastic authors in wonderful locations. There will be laughter, books, lots of cake and not a kindle in sight!

PurbeckLitFest runs from 16 Feb – 1 March 2015.
Tickets available directly from some venues alternatively book via
Swanage Tourist Information Centre on: 01929 422885
Discover Purbeck Information Centre Wareham on: 01929 552740
Full programme details at
Follow us on Facebook at Purbeck Literary Festival
Or Twitter @LitfestPurbeck

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A novel about the devastating effects of dementia has won the Lovereading Readers’ Choice for favourite book of 2014.

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman, which follows the story of a young woman struck down by Alzheimer’s, received the most votes in an annual poll by the recommendation site,

Reviewers agreed that the book, published in January by Ebury Press, was “a work of literary excellence”.

In a separate review for the Richard and Judy Book Club, TV chat show host Richard Madeley – whose own mother died of dementia in April – said Rowan Coleman’s book was a “tear-jerker” and a  “metaphor for how love can transform a family tragedy”.

The book, Coleman’s eleventh novel, has now been crowned the Lovereading Readers’ Choice Book of the Year 2014.

It beat The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes, and A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman to the top spot.

Lovereading Readers’ Choice book of 2014?

In November we asked our 600+ Reader Review panel members, a lot of whom are regular book bloggers, to let us have their top 3 books of 2014; the top 10 choices then went to the public vote. 



The Memory Book

Rowan Coleman



The Amber Fury

Natalie Haynes



A Man Called Ove

Fredrik Backman

and the rest of the Top 10 were…


The Lovereading4kids Readers’ Choice book of 2014

Awful Auntie, a “screechingly funny” novel by comedian David Walliams, won the Lovereading4Kids Readers’ Choice Book of the Year 2014.

Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan and Sweet Honey by Cathy Cassidy took second and third place in the children’s category respectively.


Awful Auntie

David Walliams
(9+) Best-selling David Walliams is back on top form with Awful Auntie. Stella Saxby is the unfortunate owner of the awful auntie!


The Blood of Olympus

Rick Riordan
(11+) Another awesome Greek mythology epic in the series from Rick Riordan.


Chocolate Box Girls: Sweet Honey

Cathy Cassidy
(9+) The girls are growing up and learning to deal with new problems.

and the rest of the Top 10 were…

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Lovereading Top 10 most popular books 7 – 14 December 2014  Top 10

If I Knew You Were Going to be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go If I Knew You Were Going to be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go
Judy Chicurel
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
1972 and the teenagers of Long Island spend their time drinking, smoking and taking drugs.  The girls all experiment with sex, get pregnant, have abortions or adoptions, such is life.  The boys are …
Download free opening extract
The Memory Book The Memory Book
Rowan Coleman
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
This has all the ingredients required to curl up with and savour.  Compelling in its originality, heart-breaking in its sadness yet so uplifting it will also make your heart soar. The Memory Book …
Download free opening extract
The Amber Fury The Amber Fury
Natalie Haynes
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
Despite borrowing both plot and inspiration from the Classics, The Amber Fury remains an easy, accessible read.  Escaping the sudden and cruel loss of her fiancé, Alex moves from London to start a …
Download free opening extract
A Man Called Ove A Man Called Ove
Fredrik Backman
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
59-year old Ove is quite possibly one of the grumpiest people you’ll meet but, he has been an upstanding pillar of the community for decades. The last six months have taken their toll …
Download free opening extract
Elizabeth is Missing Elizabeth is Missing
Emma Healey
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2014.
Eighty-something Maud is getting forgetful and so writes notes to herself.  ‘Elizabeth is missing’ is one such note which Maud then becomes obsessed with for Elizabeth …
Download free opening extract
Funny Girl Funny Girl
Nick Hornby
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
November 2014 MEGA Book of the Month.
I would like to say ‘classic’ Hornby but the thing I most like about his writing is that the stories are all different, so one can hardly …
Download free opening extract
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman
Denis Theriault
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
Deceptively clever and utterly compelling, this beautifully written little book will continue to haunt your thoughts long after you’ve finished it. Set in Montreal, the world of Bilodo the postman is a simple …
Download free opening extract
Someone Else's Skin Someone Else’s Skin
Sarah Hilary
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
A powerful new detective series joins the ranks of great reads.  This stars sparky DI Marnie Rome and her sidekick, quieter DS Noah Jake, a splendid duo.  Their case is dreadful and the …
Download free opening extract
The Bees The Bees
Laline Paull
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
May 2014 Debut of the Month.
An excellent book unlike any other.  The life of bees is examined and fictionalised as never before.  These bees are not anthropomorphised or overly sentimentalised into cute cartoon …
Download free opening extract
The Aftermath The Aftermath
Rhidian Brook
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
September 2014 Book of the Month.
World War II is an all too written about period of history but Brook manages to find a fresh take in this exquisite novel. It’s 1946 and there’s …
Download free opening extract

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Lovereading Books of the Year 2014

The end of the year is often a time of reflection. Here at Lovereading the staff and the Reader Review panel members have been doing just that on the novels they’d like to unwrap at Christmas had they not already read them!!! It is such a cracker of a collection that we thought we’d share it with you. Take a look below and guarantee yourself (or friend or family) a riveting read.


What is the Lovereading Readers’ Choice book of 2014?

A month ago we asked our 600+ Reader Review panel members, a lot of whom are regular book bloggers, to let us have their top 3 books of 2014; the top 10 choices then went to the public vote. All of them were fantastic reads and we can excitingly reveal the top 3 winners below. Congrats to all the winning authors and publishers.



The Memory Book

Rowan Coleman



The Amber Fury

Natalie Haynes



A Man Called Ove

Fredrik Backman

and the rest of the Top 10 were…


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STOP PRESS… Love at first write winner announced

5 December 2014… 4pm… the winner of the Lovereading & Corvus writing competition has been chosen.


The winner of the romantic novelist competition is Sophie Cousens, who has penned a story called How to Get Ahead in Television. We have an exclusive extract of her forthcoming novel and a bit more information about Sophie… who is overjoyed to have won. Sophie will now be working closely with the Corvus editorial team in finishing and editing her book. Corvus will publish the book as a digital-first late 2015. It will, of course, feature on Lovereading and we can’t wait. Click here to read more about the competition.




Sophie Cousens is a thirty-three year old Television Producer who lives and works in London.


When she’s not making TV, Sophie can be found tending her allotment, baking elaborate animal-shaped cakes, or writing everything from Young Adult Sci-Fi to modern romantic comedy. Her greatest ambition is to become a full time novelist and own of a longhaired miniature dachshund called Horace.


How To Get Ahead In Television is based on her own experiences working in the TV industry. From diva celebrity strops to ruthless production tactics, it’s a backdrop ripe with comedic potential and the perfect setting for a classic love story.


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