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Book Review: All for the Love of Music by John Schroeder

 

Award-winning songwriter and producer John Schroeder has worked with some of the UK’s biggest artists during an incredible 60-year career, ranging from Cliff Richard and Helen Shapiro to Status Quo.

 

He is also credited with introducing Motown to the UK and championing a new wave of easy listening orchestral pop that has enjoyed international appeal and appeared on Hollywood film soundtracks including the Ocean’s Eleven franchise.

 

All for the Love of Music is his personal account of a life dedicated to music, packed with fascinating and frank insights into the evolution and inner workings of the British pop industry before, during and after its 1960s heyday.

 

Written with a genuine passion and engagingly self-deprecating humour, the autobiography begins in 1957, when, fresh from National Service, the music-loving Schroeder can scarcely believe his luck at scoring a ‘rung on the ladder’ job with music giant EMI’s sales department.

 

Impressing his bosses with his dedication and innovative ideas, Schroeder quickly manages to move up the ranks, and soon finds himself working as assistant to Norrie Paramor, one of the biggest music producers of the time.

 

His big break has arrived and soon he was looking after stars in the making at EMI’s Columbia Records label, including a fresh-faced Cliff Richard and his band The Drifters, who would later make a name for themselves as The Shadows.

 

He also recounts how he discovered Helen Shapiro, who at 13 was still at school. Schroder was blown over by her soulful voice and worked tirelessly to develop her career – something that was far from easy as the UK pop scene had never handled a performer so young before.

 

In the end, finding that the songs available from publishers just didn’t fit, he was tasked with writing Helen’s first few hits himself. John was a classically-trained pianist but the pressure to deliver the goods was immense. In the cut-throat world of the music business one wrong step could spell the end for an artist’s career before it had even begun.

 

It was during this time that he first teamed up with lyricist Mike Hawker, a journalist by profession who was John’s lodger. Together they would pen Helen’s most popular hits, including her top five debut ‘Don’t Treat Me Like a Child’ and two chart-toppers, You Don’t Know and Walkin’ Back to Happiness – the latter which scooped John and Mike a coveted Ivor Novello Award in 1961.

 

After Columbia Records, John moved to Oriole, where he effectively established the fledgling label as a major player through sheer daring and vision. It was John who enticed Tamla Motown boss Berry Gordy to strike a licensing deal in the UK which would include “Fingertips” by a certain Little Stevie Wonder.

 

The book covers a good proportion of the staggering 170 artists John has produced during his career, from one-hit wonders to global stadium fillers Status Quo, while working at Pye Records.

 

It also takes an honest look at the lows – including music industry pressure to ‘make money, or else’, the suicide of his ex-wife and a painfully expensive divorce from his second wife.

 

At a time when chart placings were everything; with artists thrown out on their ears if they could not score a major hit within three releases, Schroeder was a key player in the industry, and his first-hand account of the challenges, joys and frustrations of writing hit records are both illuminating and occasionally shocking.

 

Despite the tales of fast cars and beautiful women – his other loves – Schroeder never comes across as arrogant. He has been described as ‘the Quiet Man of Pop’ and this lack of bravura is refreshing in an industry dominated by ego.

 

He openly admits his own mistakes and shortcomings but rightfully takes pride in his achievements, which also include founding his own record label, Alaska Records, and forming the acclaimed instrumental pop group Sounds Orchestral. You come away from the book with the impression that here is a man who, despite the obvious exceptional talent, still can’t quite believe he managed to achieve so many of his dreams.

 

The book will fascinate anybody with an interest in music history or the mechanics of the music business, with some rare ‘behind the scenes’ pictures and press clippings adding to the book’s appeal.

 

Crammed with detailed and vivid descriptions of nerve-wracking meetings and tense studio sessions that would go on to shape some of pop’s most iconic figures, All For the Love of Music is a treasure-trove that brings one of the most important times in musical history to life.

 

All For the Love of Music by John Schroeder (Matador) is available now, priced £10.99 in paperback. Visit johnschroeder.co.uk to find out more about the author.

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Five minutes with Tony Parsons

Despite leaving school at 16 – and after a few years of unskilled, low paid jobs – Tony Parsons got his first job in journalism at the New Musical Express (NME). For a few years he has juggled journalism with fiction achieving phenomenal success. Writing is, quite simply, his life.

Author Tony Parsons talks to Mary Hogarth about writing his first book while working the night shift at a distillery, those wild years at NME and his dog, Stan.

Tony Parsons photograph © Bill Waters Tony Parsons photograph © Bill Waters[/caption]

How did you get that first job on NME?

By publishing a novel. It was called The Kids and it was not very good but when the NME advertised for new writers in the summer of 1976, they asked for a sample of work and I sent my novel. So that looked pretty impressive, I imagine.

 

Did this shape your work as a journalist?

I don’t think I was really shaped as a journalist by the NME. There was too much sex, drugs and Rock & Roll – too many nights when I didn’t go to bed.

We were a weekly publication the pace was relentless so there wasn’t much chance to learn more than the basics of journalism. It was only after I left the NME that I started to grow as a journalist and a writer.

 

Tell us about your first book, The Kids

I left school at 16 and worked in a series of low paid jobs. In my late teens I got a job on the night shift at Gordon’s Gin Distillery in Islington. They gave us free Gin and left us alone from 8pm to 8am. While my colleagues slept, I wrote my novel.

It took a year to write, another to find an agent, then a year to find a publisher. So that is how my first book evolved – by never giving up.

I think that is how every first book evolves.

 

Who has had the biggest influence on your writing?

Probably Ian Fleming because he taught me books can be more exciting than anything else in the world.

 

How did Max Wolfe’s latest investigation, The Hanging Club, evolve?

The idea came from spending a day at the Old Bailey. If you go down to the basement and then keep going, you can see the ruins of Newgate prison, which was London’s jail for 800 years.

Inspiration came from the idea of these two places co-existing. The Old Bailey, where justice is fair, enlightened and modern, then Newgate, where justice was brutal, vengeful and Biblical. That was the starting point for a story.

It’s about a group of vigilantes who decide to bring back capital punishment for evil people they believe haven’t been sufficiently punished by the system.

 

For you which comes first, the characters or the plot?

First comes the title. From that the plot develops, then come those characters who make that plot work. Although if you are writing a series like Max Wolfe, then a lot of the characters already exist, so you need to decide on the new faces you introduce.

 

The-Hanging-ClubHow do you keep pace with advancements in crime detection?

I try to make it as authentic as possible. I listen to police because they can always teach me something. Cops tend to like the Max Wolfe books, which of course is very pleasing. But I am also not afraid to make stuff up it serves the story. A novelist should never underestimate the power of imagination.

Sometimes you write something that comes from your imagination and then it happens in real life. A novelist should not only reflect life, but also anticipate it.

 

Your typical writing day?

The top floor of my house has an office. There’s a bedroom, a bathroom and a room for writing that contains everything I need – computer, TV, dog basket as my dog Stan joins me for my working day.

I get up early and go – either taking my dog for a walk or driving my daughter to school. And my wife Yuriko does the other thing – daughter or dog. And that’s all before breakfast.

After breakfast I like to start work because I feel that a writer’s energy levels are higher earlier in the day. Also there are fewer distractions before the world starts to intrude.

I give myself a daily task – either planning a chapter of maybe writing 1,000 to 1,500 words, or reworking a scene that just needs improving. Whatever it is, I do it. Then I knock off – walk my dog, go to the gym, read a book and don’t feel remotely guilty.

And then I get up the next day and do it again.

 

The most important lesson learned?

Write from the heart. It has to be real for you or it will never be real for anyone else.

 

Name three writers who have inspired you the most

Keith Waterhouse – author of Billy Liar, newspaper columnist and playwright. He taught me that you should never place limitations on what you do – it is all about telling a story – then you should attempt to master everything.

When I was 16, I wrote to 100 authors, publishers and agents for advice. Only Keith Waterhouse replied, he wrote: ‘Dear Tony, get an agent.’ It was good advice.

Ian Fleming – I have to return to Fleming. He was the first adult writer that I chose to read, that wasn’t given to me by teachers to improve my mind.

John Le Carre – taught me that thrillers can be as intelligent – or even more intelligent – than a Booker Prize winner. He showed me that even those exciting page-turners, can be written in beautiful language with vivid characters that seem very real.

Le Carre taught me to aim for the stars.

 

The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons is published by Century, £12.99.

Tony Parsons photograph © Bill Waters

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Dovedale Arts Festival 10–12 June 2016

The Dovedale Arts Festival 2016 is back at the Izaak Walton Hotel in the heart of the Peak District with its superb views over Dovedale and taking place in a large marquee in the gardens.

A sparkling programme of talks and performances launches on Friday 10 June.

Dovedale-Logo-and-date-2016.

 

Sir Christopher Frayling will pull out all the stops, conjuring up Angela Carter and the Gothic in film and the imagination to the accompaniment of the Mighty Compton Organ at Dovedale Garage in Thorpe, home of ‘Pipes in the Peaks’.

 

On Saturday the Allegri String Quartet returns by popular demand and on Sunday, Robert Bathurst and Virge Gilchrist bring their dramatisation of Christopher Reid’s Song of Lunch, fresh from performances in Chichester and London.

 

There will be talks by Thomas Pakenham on his lifelong love affair with trees; QCs Jeremy Hutchinson and Thomas Grant will discuss Hutchinson’s most celebrated legal trials; opera director David Pountney and art historian Paul Hills on the artist/poet David Jones; politicians Caroline Lucas and Natascha Engel on today’s challenges in Westminster; historian Juliet Nicolson on seven generations of her extraordinary family; and biographers Adam Sisman and Zachary Leader on John le Carré and Saul Bellow, and on writers’ lives at close range.

 

There will be paintings, sculpture, collages and ceramics on show, by artists Sarah Anderson, Juliet Bankes, Judy Gilley, Susanna Penrose,  Jane Rye,  Jocasta Shakespeare and Bridget Whitehouse.

 

Thomas Pakenham will lead a walk down Dovedale in pursuit of trees on Saturday morning, and bicycle wizard Andrew Ritchie, creator of the Brompton bike, will give an informal talk on his invention at 9.30 on Sunday morning.

 

All details of events and timings at www.dovedalearts.co.uk. As before, the Dovedale Rover Ticket enables entry to all the events. Why not make a weekend of it by booking into the hotel www.izaakwaltonhotel.com?

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Lovereading Top 10 most popular books 15 – 22 May 2016

Lovereading Top 10

1
When I Was Invisible When I Was Invisible
Dorothy Koomson
May 2016 MEGA Book of the Month.
An absolute page-turner of a novel, at times uncomfortable, yet powerful and oh so compelling. Roni and Nika meet when they are 8 years old, as the years pass their relationship changes, yet in …
Download free opening extract
2
The Girls The Girls
Lisa Jewell
May 2016 Book of the Month.
A captivating and deeply dark family drama and mystery, set in the midst of a London communal garden square. ‘The Girls’ begins as a party is ending, a thirteen year old girl is found unconscious …
Download free opening extract
3
This Must be the Place This Must be the Place
Maggie O’Farrell
May 2016 eBook of the Month.
Award-winning novelist Maggie O’Farrell returns with her latest breathtaking novel.  This Must Be The Place is a story about journeys, it’s about discovering who you are and where you’re meant to be.  Daniel Sullivan is …
Download free opening extract
4
The Butterfly Summer The Butterfly Summer
Harriet Evans
A gorgeous, loveable read, this hovers on the edge of the feel of a fairytale, of being almost dreamlike, yet at the same time it is startlingly believable and real. Nina Parr is 25, divorced, living at home and working …
Download free opening extract
5
The Loney The Loney
Andrew Michael Hurley
May 2016 Debut of the Month.
Winner of Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards 2016.
Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2015.
Perhaps it’s the sheets of rain which fall continuously on The Loney, that ” wild and …
Download free opening extract
6
The Hanging Club The Hanging Club
Tony Parsons
May 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 …
Download free opening extract
7
A Life Discarded 148 Diaries Found in a Skip A Life Discarded 148 Diaries Found in a Skip
Alexander Masters
May 2016 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.
A detective story, investigating the life of the person whose diaries – 148 of them at least – turned up in a skip in 2001. Who was this person, this I who had written …
Download free opening extract
8
The Nest The Nest
Cynthia D’Apriz Sweeney
May 2016 eBook of the Month.
A thought-provoking and wittily pointed debut, about the life and loves of the Plumb family. There are four siblings at the centre of this novel, Leo causes uproar when a chunk of their common nest …
Download free opening extract
9
There's Only Two David Beckhams There’s Only Two David Beckhams
John O’farrell
Shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2016.
There’s Only Two David Beckhams is John O’Farrell’s love-letter to football; part-detective story, part-sports memoir, part-satire on the whole corrupt FIFA circus; it just made the final for the funniest football fiction ever …
Download free opening extract
10
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
Jackie Copleton
May 2016 Debut of the Month.
Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016.
A bittersweet, page-turning love story which jumps back and forth in time. It tells of a Japanese couple, Ameterasu and Kenzo, now living in America and the …
Download free opening extract
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Mid-May email update

Welcome to our Mid-May (where has 2016 gone?) update full of the latest, best and most exciting books all selected by our team of incredibly experienced book experts. In addition to enjoying (we hope) our selections we would love you to help Lovereading’s sister site, Lovereading4kids, get to the next stage of the Virgin Media #VOOM 2016 competition by giving us your vote and do please share this competition link with friends and family too. Thank you v v v much.

     

Mid-May Pre-Publications

Where else can you read so many extracts of fabulous fiction before publication? Here. That’s where! Why not try:

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan – First class and tightly woven, psychological suspense thriller. Or Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg – A chilling, compulsive debut about group mentality, superstition and betrayal – and a utopian commune gone badly wrong – it’s stunning.

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Download and Go! – eBooks of the Month

As ever we have a smorgasbord of delights served up this month as our eBooks of the Month selections but we have been especially taken by Fire and Sword by Harry Sidebottom and Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be The Place.

Fire and Sword is a powerful addition to the epic ‘Throne of the Caesars’ series with a story building layer by fascinating layer, ensuring an impressively compelling and convincing tale.

This Must Be The Place crosses time zones and continents to reveal an extraordinary portrait of a marriage. Her seventh novel is an intimate epic about who we leave behind and who we become as we search for our place in the world.

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Unmissable Highlights…

These are the cathartic, beautiful and brilliant books that are not to be missed. Books like Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan – A breathtaking, emotional and thought-provoking family tale, set against the backdrops of Taiwan and the USA in the second half of the 20th Century. Sweeping and perceptive, this is human nature laid bare and sensitively told.

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton. Inspired by the author’s time in Nagasaki, her first-hand experience of the legacy of the atomic bomb and by the themes of love, loss and the human experience of ageing, this is a truly wonderful novel about the intricacies of parenting, regret, forgiveness and the exquisite pain of love. Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016 we think it will make a perfect book group choice.

Alison Weir’s Tudor novels are detailed and hugely knowledgeable, her Tudor Queens series adds a touch of humanity to the infamous and often doomed wives of Henry VIII. Her first in this new series is of course on Henry VIII’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen. It plots her evolution from a frightened 16 year old to a spirited Queen. One of our Reader Reviewers wrote: ‘ … an enchanting, intriguing look into the life of Katherine of Aragon … I was mesmerised.’

Unrivalled by Alyson Noel #1 New York Times bestselling author is a pulse-pounding romance that has sets shelves ablaze over the pond. Now it’s here! It is the first in a new series called Beautiful Idols and is an insider view of Los Angeles and New York that throbs with mystery and suspense. Revel in the darkness that bubbles beneath the beach body perfection and slick city lives. It’s Gossip Girl meets Pretty Little Liars!

Tony Parson’s London-based detective series featuring DC Max Wolfe is an unmissable experience. We are very much enjoying the third instalment in the series called The Hanging Club, which is out this week, where vigilantes are live streaming hangings of people who have committed horrible crimes and got off lightly! Gripping, compelling and frightening are just three adjectives we would use. Read it or any one in the series – don’t worry too much about the order.

Finally Conn Iggulden’s Wars of the Roses series has kept fans of the period gripped with his brilliant ability to capture the nuances of political manoeuvering beautifully, and truly breathes life into the men and women of this time. Ravenspur is the stunning conclusion to a series that is, quite simply, breathtakingly glorious from beginning to end. Find out for yourself.

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Every Dad Has His Day! – Father’s Day 2016

This is not a drill! Nor is it a pair of socks, a home brewing kit that’ll never be used, a golf tee, a novelty tie or a driving glove. No. This is a definitive list of great books for dads. Make Father’s Day a lasting memory with a perfect, thoughtful and actually useful gift – a great read. Now, all he’ll need is the peace and quiet to read it in!

A Little of What You Fancy – If You Like You’ll Love

You know what you like, but where do you find new authors that are like your favourites? Simple. Here.

If you like Cathy Kelly you’ll love the gorgeous, almost dreamlike The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evans. If you like Nadine Dorries you’ll love the warm hearted A Family Scandal by Kitty Neale. If you like Rosie Thomas you’ll love the captivating debut Eden Gardens by Louise Brown.
     

Maxim Selections for May

Crime aficionado Maxim Jakubowski knows his onions when it comes to picking the top reads in a crowded genre. This month’s picks are an irresistible selection of delights. 

They span the 16th century fantasy world of Shakespeare to the outer reaches of the Galaxy, with side trips to Argentinian wineries, Icelandic bleak landscapes, Hollywood, New York, Montana, Moscow and rural ghostly America. Throw in a smattering of good old fashioned spy-romps and you’ve got a feast at the table of Maxim that all can enjoy! Top of the menu as his Book of the Month and Highly Recommended respectively:

The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley – Profane and gripping and paradoxically poetic tale in the shadow of the horrors of the Vietnam War. A crime novel for the ages. And The Travelers by Chris Pavone – A dazzling conspiracy thriller. A fast-paced and complex hall of mirrors with a female antagonist of wonderful seduction and cruelty.

Self Respect! – The Very Best of independently published authors

Independent Publishing is getting more and more profile these days. In fact, imprints actively look for the best of them to add to their lists. But, people can be skeptical about the quality of self-published work. Fear not! We have done all the hard work for you and compiled a bookshelf bursting with books from authors who sat down, got their literary juices going and made it happen. So why not have a look today and perhaps you might decide you have a book in you too?

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Cook Yourself Cool! – Cool Kids Cook by Jenny Chandler

The perfect book for budding Masterchefs. If you’re expecting kids’ food think again. Not a rice-krispie cake in sight in this fabulous, non-patronising book that aims to empower the growing number of youngsters interested in cooking. Cool Kids Cook has skills and facts about food from the shop to the plate, they’ll learn how to eat healthily, shop cannily and table a complete meal for the whole family. Once they are brimming with kitchen confidence there are also some more exotic dishes in there to show off with! A stylish, sophisticated book for pre-teens and beyond. Spread the word.

Bag Yourself a Prize! May Competitions

There are some simply sensational treats up for grabs this month. You may need a sturdy bag to put them in! Like our desirable, durable and geek chic canvas Lovereading book-bag! We have a few of these shoulder-hanging status symbols to give away. Usually a mere snip at £9.99, you can also bag yourself one absolutely free when you spend over £25 on books here at Lovereading! Click here for more.

Early Summer Book Festival News

Summer brings a flush of festivals the length and breadth of the UK, with the Derby Book Festival (3-11 June), the Wealden Literary Festival in Kent (18-19 June), the Borders Book Festival in Scotland (16-19 June), Chalke Valley History Festival (27 June-3 July) with 3 family tickets to be won and Althorp Literary Festival (30 June-3 July).

Finally, please can you help Lovereading4kids with a single click?

As we mentioned earlier, we have recently entered our sister site Lovereading4kids into a Virgin Media Business #VOOM competition to try and get investment to grow the business further and make it even better. To get to the next stage of the competition we need the public vote and we thought (and hoped) that you would understand us best and know and value what we are trying to achieve. CLICK HERE to go to the voting site to find out more and just click the vote button and follow the instructions. Thank you v v v much.


And that is all from us this month. We’ll be in touch in June with some more recommendations to rock your summer including our must read Summer Reads. Happy Reading!

P.S. Andrew Michael Hurley’s debut The Loney, published by John Murray, has won The British Book Industry Awards accolade of Book of the Year, beating off strong competition from 32 shortlisted titles including Fiction winner A Little Life, Children’s Book winner My Brother is a Superhero, and Non-Fiction winner Norwegian Wood.

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Lovereading’s most popular books 7 – 14 May 2016

Lovereading Top 10

1
The Girls The Girls
Lisa Jewell
May 2016 Book of the Month.
A captivating and deeply dark family drama and mystery, set in the midst of a London communal garden square. ‘The Girls’ begins as a party is ending, a thirteen year old girl is found unconscious …
Download free opening extract
2
When I Was Invisible When I Was Invisible
Dorothy Koomson
May 2016 MEGA Book of the Month.
An absolute page-turner of a novel, at times uncomfortable, yet powerful and oh so compelling. Roni and Nika meet when they are 8 years old, as the years pass their relationship changes, yet in …
Download free opening extract
3
Keep Me Posted Keep Me Posted
Lisa Beazley
May 2016 Debut of the Month.
An entertaining, perceptive and sharply witty debut, this is a novel that will have you cringing one minute and smiling the next. Sisters Cassie and Sid, separated by half the world, decide to put pen …
Download free opening extract
4
The House at the Edge of the World The House at the Edge of the World
Julia Rochester
Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2016.
Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016.
A wonderfully unconventional and thought-provoking read, where a mystery waiting to be solved shelters behind a penetrating and wryly emotional family tale. The first paragraph, short …
Download free opening extract
5
A Life Discarded 148 Diaries Found in a Skip A Life Discarded 148 Diaries Found in a Skip
Alexander Masters
May 2016 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.
A detective story, investigating the life of the person whose diaries – 148 of them at least – turned up in a skip in 2001. Who was this person, this I who had written …
Download free opening extract
6
The Sea Detective The Sea Detective
Mark Douglas-Home
This is a compelling and just fabulous start to ‘The Sea Detective’ series. Cal McGill, something of a loner, determined, yet caring, runs Flotsam and Jetsam Investigations in Scotland. As an oceanographer and environmentalist, he finds himself hounded by the …
Download free opening extract
7
The Girl on the Train The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
In the footsteps of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, the unreliable narrator domestic drama of untruths is the new ‘hot’ genre. The author was best known under another name for chick lit entertainments. …
Download free opening extract
8
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
Jackie Copleton
May 2016 Debut of the Month.
Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016.
A bittersweet, page-turning love story which jumps back and forth in time. It tells of a Japanese couple, Ameterasu and Kenzo, now living in America and the …
Download free opening extract
9
The Hanging Club The Hanging Club
Tony Parsons
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 personal tragedy to cope with …
Download free opening extract
10
That Girl from Nowhere That Girl from Nowhere
Dorothy Koomson
April 2016 Book of the Month.
What a terrific and powerful book, I reckon it is her best yet.  It covers race, adoption, rejection and even murder (or does it?).  Our hero, Smitty, a black girl, white adopted parents, white long-term …
Download free opening extract
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Althorp Literary Festival 30 June – 3 July

The 13th Althorp Literary Festival will take place on Thursday 30 June – 3 July, 2016 at Althorp House. Taking place over four days, this is the largest Althorp Literary Festival to date.

litfestival

This year’s line-up includes: Britain’s bestselling non-fiction author, Bill Bryson; screenwriter Andrew Davies – whose most recent triumph was War and Peace; actor Brian Blessed; racehorse trainer Henrietta Knight; Today broadcaster James Naughtie; journalist, presenter and Labour peer Joan Bakewell; television personality and heritage campaigner Loyd Grossman; former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King; comedian and columnist Sara Pascoe; historian and television presenter Suzannah Lipscomb; renowned director Sir Richard Eyre; popular Classic FM presenter John Suchet; cricket authority Simon Hughes; investigative journalist and biographer Tom Bower; veteran radio presenter Paul Gambaccini; author and biographer Paula Byrne; and one of Britain’s greatest experts on Shakespeare, Sir Jonathan Bate.

The 13th Althorp Literary Festival line-up also features a number of terrific local authors including Sue Bentley, Christine L. Corton, Lord Charles FitzRoy and Damian Collins, MP.

The Althorp Literary Festival is a unique and intimate celebration of the written word. In its first twelve years, the Festival has been privileged to host over 300 novelists, historians, comedians, actors, politicians, sportsmen and television personalities, including Boris Johnson, Alastair Campbell, Jung Chang, Julian Fellowes, Clare Balding, Sebastian Faulks, Helen Fielding, Michael Palin, Darcey Bussell, Sir Tom Stoppard and Twiggy.

I took as the theme of this year’s Althorp line-up ‘originality’ – only one of the speakers has been to any of my previous literary festivals – and that’s Bill Bryson. I have resisted the temptation to stick with past successes, and have gone for freshness and diversity. It’s a lip-smacking line-up.” Charles, Ninth Earl Spencer.

There are at least nine talks taking place on each of the four days with something to suit all interests. Complimentary fringe events include live music, poetry and performance art. There will also be pop-up shops, a variety of food and drink choices, and a spa service.

The Althorp Literary Festival is one of England’s great, summer, celebrations, and it takes place against the backdrop of one of the world’s most remarkable, private, historic homes.

For more information and to book tickets visit: www.spencerofalthorp.com

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Wealden Literary Festival 18 and 19 June

The first Wealden Literary Festival – a two-day event celebrating landscape, nature and place is being held on June 18-19 in the heart of the Garden of England. The festival, which has won the backing of award-winning landscape and travel writer Robert Macfarlane, is being held in the renowned gardens and woodland at Boldshaves, Woodchurch, near Tenterden.

whealden

Wealden Literary Festival is the brainchild of outdoor and nature enthusiasts Laura and Andrew Willan, of Tenterden. It will be an inspiring and fun festival for all ages with talks by nationally-acclaimed writers and speakers alongside hands-on outdoor activities exploring the natural world including wildlife safaris and nature trails. There will also be art installations and specialist craft stalls alongside a wide range of artisanal food stalls taking advantage of the best of local produce.

 

In short, we are organising the sort of event we just love to go to ourselves. Visitors will be able to hear brilliant speakers in The Garden Tent and meet specialists sharing their enthusiasm for exploring a sense of place and revealing exciting ways to connect with the living world. Authors taking part include Charles Foster, author of the ground-breaking new book Being A Beast, James Macdonald Lockhart whose inspiring book Raptor, journeys across the British Isles in search of birds of prey, and Phillip Hoare, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. TV Time Teams expert Francis Pryor will also be there together with leading bumblebee scientist and enthusiast Dave Goulson and Patrick Barkham whose book, Coastlines: The Story of our Shore features Kent in an exploration of how we as an island nation are shaped by our shores.

 

Other attractions include the works of Kate Beaugie, artist in residence, who will be responding to the gardens at Boldshaves and the natural environment of the Weald. Kate will be talking about the different ways her works capture and respond to the magic of nature in The Barn at 1pm on Saturday, 18 June.

 

On Sunday, 19 June, festival goers will be able to join author, broadcaster, naturalist and environmentalist Mark Cocker on a Wildlife Safari. From 9am, Mark will lead a small group through a tour of the surroundings of Boldshaves Gardens to reveal the wildlife at out fingertips.

 

Admission to the festival site is free for younger visitors, under 14 years. There will be free Children’s Activities including a workshop with Matthew Appleby, author of The Children’s Garden, and a chance to learn bushcraft skills with the Meek Family, plus art classes with Naomi Howarth whose book, The Crows Tale, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.

Early booking is recommended for the talks and programmed activities, including free Children’s Activities, as places are limited. The full Wealden Literary Festival programme, with details of all special activities and talk tickets, including day passes, is available at www.wealdenliteraryfestival.co.uk.

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Most popular books on Lovereading 1 – 8 May 2016

Lovereading Top 10

1
The Girls The Girls
Lisa Jewell
May 2016 Book of the Month.
A captivating and deeply dark family drama and mystery, set in the midst of a London communal garden square. ‘The Girls’ begins as a party is ending, a thirteen year old girl is found unconscious …
Download free opening extract
2
The Swimming Pool The Swimming Pool
Louise Candlish
Tense and full of intrigue, this is a novel that sinks into the depths of obsession and discovers a very dangerous game afoot. The newly opened, glamorous lido calls to Natalie and in one summer her life changes beyond all …
Download free opening extract
3
The House at the Edge of the World The House at the Edge of the World
Julia Rochester
Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2016.
Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016.
A wonderfully unconventional and thought-provoking read, where a mystery waiting to be solved shelters behind a penetrating and wryly emotional family tale. The first paragraph, short …
Download free opening extract
4
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
Jackie Copleton
May 2016 Debut of the Month.
Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016.
A bittersweet, page-turning love story which jumps back and forth in time. It tells of a Japanese couple, Ameterasu and Kenzo, now living in America and the …
Download free opening extract
5
American Wife American Wife
Curtis Sittenfeld
January 2015 Guest Editor Harriet Evans on American Wife…
Ooh, this book is so good. I’m saving it to reread for when I really need it. It is so absorbing, so sweeping, and yet it is also so intricate and beautifully …
Download free opening extract
6
The House of Fame The House of Fame
Oliver Harris
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.
Nick Belsey, from Hampstead CID, is a crooked cop, or at any rate a cop who bends the rules as far as they can be bent. Although, by hook or by crook, he normally does get …
Download free opening extract
7
No Place to Hide No Place to Hide
Susan Lewis
Overflowing with suspense, this is a dramatic and gripping family tale. Justine attempts to start a brand new life in the USA and bury all evidence of her old one in England, however fate isn’t prepared to hold her hand. …
Download free opening extract
8
The Accidental Agent The Accidental Agent
Andrew Rosenheim
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.
The third novel to feature FBI agent Jimmy Nessheim, of German origin who has been manipulated to infiltrate Nazi spy rings in the USA during WW2. Having now resigned and opted for a new career studying …
Download free opening extract
9
The Girl on the Train The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
In the footsteps of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, the unreliable narrator domestic drama of untruths is the new ‘hot’ genre. The author was best known under another name for chick lit entertainments. …
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10
The Road to Little Dribbling More Notes from a Small Island The Road to Little Dribbling More Notes from a Small Island
Bill Bryson
Marking the twentieth anniversary of Notes from a Small Island, the author makes a brand-new journey round Britain to see what has changed. He gives us an acute and perceptive insight into all that is best and worst about Britain. …
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The Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival 16-19 June

The Borders Book Festival, sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, has over 100 events in its programme for all ages, and on a wide variety of topics, all taking place over the weekend of 16th-19th June 2016. 

borders

Headline acts this year include master storyteller Frederick Forsyth, who makes a rare appearance to talk to Rory Bremner about his extraordinary life as one of the most lauded thriller writers of our time; world renowned musician Evelyn Glennie in conversation with Kirsty Wark; the founding member of Genesis, Mike Rutherford; comedian Phill Jupitus,  returning to his roots as a performance poet; food critic Jay Rayner;  popular novelist Kathy Lette and comedian Sara Pascoe talking about her first book Animal: How a Woman is Made. Former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, will join Borders Book Festival regular Gordon Brown and Scottish politicians, Jim Sillars and Michael Forsyth in a series of political debates.  Douglas Alexander talks about life after politics and veteran broadcaster James Naughtie gives the insider’s view on the American Primaries and upcoming Presidential election.

 

Further highlights include world famous chef Albert Roux; ‘Rab C Nesbitt’ actor and comedian Gregor Fisher; leading Scottish historian Tom Devine; best-selling author and raconteur Gervase Phinn and Top Gear script writer Richard Porter going behind the scenes on one of TV’s most successful series.

 

Leading authors from the world of children’s books will take to the stage during the ever-popular weekend SBHA Family Book Festival including Cressida Cowell, author of the bestselling How to Train Your Dragon series (Sat 18th June) and acclaimed War Horse author, Michael Morpurgo talking about his book Private Peaceful to mark the Battle of the Somme centenary (Sun 19th June).

 

The winner of this year’s prestigious £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction will also be announced on Saturday 18th June, from a shortlist, including authors Patrick Gale, William Boyd and Simon Mawer.

 

Primary schools from across the Scottish Borders will attend the Schools Gala Day on Thursday 16th, and there will be an exciting new strand of events on Friday 17th, thefuture@bbf, with an afternoon of live music, creative writing, theatre, poetry and film/TV recording workshops, entirely programmed by local youth organisations.

 

There will be even more opportunities to take part as well as spectate this year, with a variety of live music and theatre performances and workshops, a street market, tented food village, gin and wine tastings, performances by Scottish Opera, and kids craft and activity workshops.

 

The ever-popular Family Day pass will be available, where for £35, four family members can enjoy a number of events on either the Saturday or Sunday.  It’s the ideal way to make the most of the SBHA Family Book Festival supported by Arts & Business Scotland.

 

The newly-opened Borders Railway offers a new way of getting to the festival for visitors from outside the area, with festival signage showing the way for walkers from Tweedbank Station 1.5 miles away, and a shuttle for those who prefer not to walk.

 

Box Office (opens 27 April 2016): 0844 357 1060     www.bordersbookfestival.org

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