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Top 10 most popular books on Lovereading 12 – 19 October 2014

Lovereading.co.uk Top 10

1
Us Us
David Nicholls
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014.
After the phenomenal success of One Day it must have been tough for the author to write this.  Little will live up to that masterpiece but give the man some slack and sit back …
Download free opening extract
2
The Rosie Effect The Rosie Effect
Graeme Simsion
October 2014 Book of the Month.
The simplicity of the writing here has a magical quality that carries you effortlessly from page to page. If you have not met Don Tillman, Professor of Genetics in The Rosie Project then you are …
Download free opening extract
3
More Fool Me More Fool Me
Stephen Fry
October 2014 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.
Stephen Fry invites readers to take a glimpse at his life story in the unputdownable More Fool Me. It is a heady tale of the late Eighties and early Nineties and the price he …
Download free opening extract
4
The Last Anniversary The Last Anniversary
Liane Moriarty
Originally published in 2006, this comes back into print for those who may have missed it.  Actually she has changed publishers so her new one is reissuing her work.  This is a great read, especially astute, and indeed amusing, about …
Download free opening extract
5
The Woman Who Stole My Life The Woman Who Stole My Life
Marian Keyes
A fluctuating time scale, all from Stella’s viewpoint, makes this a little disjointed and convoluted in a long book with a huge amount of incident. Stella is hit with Guillain-barre, the illness which attacks the linings of the nerves and …
Download free opening extract
6
The Good Life The Good Life
Martina Cole
October 2014 Book of the Month.
Criminally Good: The new novel from the phenomenal No.1 bestseller. The best things in life are never free… especailly if you are already married and fall in love with someone else because if you live …
Download free opening extract
7
Gone Girl Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn
The book that has taken the world by storm, now a huge film starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Brilliant, scintillating, dark and manipulative, packed with twists and turns this is every bit as good as everyone says it is. …
Download free opening extract
8
The Narrow Road to the Deep North The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Richard Flanagan
Winner of The Man Booker Prize 2014.
This is the story of an Australian surgeon, Dorrigo Evans, a POW in a Japanese camp during World War II, working on the Thai-Burma railway.  It moves backwards and forwards in time as we …
Download free opening extract
9
Don't Look Back Don’t Look Back
Gregg Hurwitz
October 2014 Book of the Month.
Fantastic from start to finish. Real edge-of-your-seat stuff. In the prologue Theresa is spying on a man in a jungle in Mexico. She is spotted and caught by him. Eve, on holiday in an Eco-lodge …
Download free opening extract
10
Emma Emma
Alexander McCall Smith
This is a strange series where famous authors have been asked to give a modern version of Austen’s classics so Joanna Trollope did Pride and Prejudice, Val McDermid Northanger Abbey and now Alexander McCall Smith does interfering Emma.  She is …
Download free opening extract

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Ask the Author: M.R. Carey

mike-carey-smBy Vikki Patis

Born in Liverpool in 1959, Mike Carey is a well-known writer of comic books, films and novels. He wrote the Eisner Award-nominated comic book Lucifer for the Vertigo Imprint of DC Comics, as well as being the ongoing writer of X-Men: Legacy for Marvel Comics. After such an impressive writing career, it came as no surprise that Carey decided to turn his hand to novels. The first book in his Felix Castor series was published by Orbit in 2006, and The Girl With All the Gifts was released earlier this year.

On the recommendation of the lovely Peadar O’Guilin, I read and reviewed The Girl With All the Gifts a couple of months ago (proceed with caution – my review contains mild spoilers!). I thought it was absolutely fantastic. Not only is it a brilliant novel, with a fresh take on the overdone zombie theme, but it’s set in the area in which I live, so I could really visualise the events. My secondary school is literally down the road from RAF Henlow, where the base in The Girl With All the Gifts is located, and I used to live in Baldock. I have to agree with Sergeant Parks – it would be no great loss if the service station was burnt to the ground, though I’d rather keep the KFC. Stevenage is, regrettably, where you have to go if you want to get any decent shopping done. It came as no surprise to me that Stevenage was overrun by “hungries” – it’s practically the case already.

When I spotted Carey’s name on the programme for WorldCon, I was ecstatic. Book in hand, I sauntered over and demanded to know if he lived in the area. I can see how that may be taken the wrong way, but after assuring him that I wasn’t a stalker, I proceeded to explain that I lived in the area, and that he’d written about it perfectly. Luckily for me, he didn’t run away, and I managed to set up an interview.

TGWATG-smCarey didn’t see writing as a possible career, and so he writes, quite simply, because he loves to tell stories.

‘As a kid I used to make comics for my younger brother Dave, and then when I had kids of my own I used to tell them stories too – sometimes reading aloud from books, sometimes just making it up from whole cloth.  That pleasure is my strongest motivation.’

He has, of course, had an extremely successful writing career, despite his earlier hesitation.

‘It was something I did alongside my actual job, in the little interstices.  I was a teacher, and later a parent too, so I didn’t have a lot of free time.  But what I did have went to writing.  I wrote novels mostly, and they were big shapeless bags of story with no real structure.  Then I started to write and pitch comic series, and through that I learned how to structure a story.’

Carey, like many others, appeared to blanch at my second question: where do you get your ideas from?

‘From everywhere, I suppose.  And usually from sources that are fairly opaque to me.  I’m sure that’s true for most writers.  An idea comes to you and you don’t question where it comes from, you just grab it and start worrying it like a dog with a plastic bone.’

Writing 101, according to Carey, is to strip back your own childhood, and write about the experiences that are the most vivid and real for you.

‘A lot of people and places and actual events from my childhood have made it into my stories one way and another. The Hellblazer issue entitled The Gift was very heavily based on things that happened to me, and lots of the backstory in the Castor novels – especially in the fourth book, Thicker Than Water.’

And of course you’re wide open to stuff that’s bubbling away in the zeitgeist, he says.

‘In other words you build on other people’s stories.  Not in the sense of consciously borrowing from them, but in the sense of having them embedded in your brain at a deep level so bits of them filter up in disguised form.’

Carey has some brilliant advice for aspiring writers. The three most important things are the three most obvious ones: read a lot, write a lot, but not in a vacuum.

‘Read voraciously in the genre and the medium in which you want to write.  In my opinion if you don’t love it as a reader then you won’t hack it as a writer.  That sounds intuitively obvious but I’ve had conversations with people who’d decided to write (let’s say) a fantasy novel without ever at any point in their lives having picked one up.  Not gonna work.

Writing is very much a learning-by-doing thing.  It’s a creative skill, but it’s also a mechanical skill.  Mechanical skills improve with repetition, and writing does too. 

Take the stuff you’ve written and get people to look at it.  Read it aloud to friends and family.  Join a writing group and read it aloud there, too.  Seek out people who are not afraid to give you negative feedback – negative feedback is precious.  Find out what you’re doing wrong, then get back on the horse and try again.’

As someone who did a lot of indie work and fanzine work, Carey thinks the benefits of writing and reaching an audience will often outweigh the drawbacks of choosing to swim in a small pond. Small press and self-publishing are therefore valid and viable routes, though he has a word of caution, as going down those routes can make it harder to get a commission from a major publisher afterwards. If you can get an agent, do so. They will lift your work out of the slush pile and get it a sympathetic reading.

‘Having said that, I got my first job at DC Comics (Sandman Presents Lucifer) by being picked out of the slush pile, so it can be done.’

Carey wishes he hadn’t spent his twenties hiding his manuscripts in his sock drawer. Writing is a learn-by-doing process, and there’s a sense in which you always start out clueless and find out who you are as a writer by actually writing. But the process doesn’t kick in until you get serious. Once you’re writing whole stories and getting them out in some form – self-published, online, it doesn’t matter how – that’s when you really start to develop.  So the sooner you get on with it, the better. And when it comes to editors, it pays to do your research:

‘I wish someone had told me not to treat all editors as if they’re limbs of the same big monster-editor.  I sometimes sent pitches in to people who didn’t handle that particular genre at all.  I might just as well have dropped those pitches into the wastepaper basket.’

Being a freelancer means always thinking about the job after the job after next. At the time of this interview, Carey had delivered his next novel and was deep in rewriting it. He was also writing some episodes for a TV series at Touchpaper, as well as working on the movie adaptation of Jonathan Trigell’s sci-fi novel Genus. He’s also pitching a comic book series with Peter Gross, which he hopes they will be able to work on once The Unwritten wraps up at the end of this year.

As always, I asked what Carey was reading. He had just finished The Shining Girls by Lauren Buekes, which he described as an amazing and hard-hitting book. As light relief, he then picked up Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks, before moving on to Peter F. Hamilton’s latest novel.

‘And I’m simultaneously reading The Ocean At the End Of the Road to my wife, while she reads me Raising Steam.  This is a long-standing arrangement that kicks in when one of us is doing some cooking.  The cook demands and gets in-kitchen entertainment.’

Carey does a lot of appearances, both at festivals and in the form of readings in bookstores. He was in Lanarkshire for Encounters, and before the end of the year he’ll be attending Thought Bubble, Wales Con and the Herts festival. Keep an eye on his website or social media for appearances coming near you.

The Girl With All the Gifts is available on Lovereading.co.uk, the UK’s No.1 book recommendation site.

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Gerald Wixey Book Reviews: A Boneless Kiss, Salt of Their Blood, Small Town Nocturne

A Boneless Kiss: Letters From A Dead Heart by Gerald Wixey

This enthralling mystery tale follows the path of a journalist Stuart who discovers that his former lover, Helen Mably, has gone missing in suspicious circumstances.

FBSA_Boneless_Kiss-cover-smReaders quickly discover that Helen is a complex character, who is very bright but has always been slightly off the rails and sexually promiscuous. The main thread of the book centres around her dysfunctional relationship with her father — a former police inspector called David — and her apparent desire to humiliate him and get revenge for a past event; namely, when she was sexually assaulted by three policemen at the age of 17 — a crime which her father then ‘covered up’ so as to protect her from a public court case and intrusive press.

A few months before Helen ‘disappears’, she reveals to her father the first 30 pages of a journal she has written, which hints at the assault and reveals intimate details of her many sexual encounters. Stuart then has to decide whether David is telling the truth about his reasons for keeping the assault secret or whether he has more to hide. Is it the case that the Inspector loves his police force and his colleagues more than his daughter, and will do anything to protect them? Or has Helen faked her disappearance and is simply trying to frame him?

Readers will find the book engrossing and entertaining and will enjoy the character traits developed by the author.

The telling of the back story, namely Helen’s early and adolescent life, is also excellent. Much of this revolves around her father ‘dumping’ her in a social club full of “salt of the earth” policeman, where she would play snooker in tight tops and skirts and draw the attention of the men who subsequently went on to assault her.

It also builds upon the differences between Helen and her father and how she rebels against her upbringing.

David, for instance, is described as a “stickler for rules and regulations”, a man who would always be “immaculate in his uniform, highly polished black brogues, heavily starched shirt and perfectly knotted tie”.

Helen, on the other hand, is said to be “lovely and bright”, attending a girl’s grammar school and winning a place at Cambridge, but a person who resents having her life mapped out for her.

 This rebellion frequently manifests in promiscuous behaviour, which the book highlights in many scenes, such as when she is waving the hem of her short summer dress around “like an accomplished flamenco dancer” while not wearing any knickers. She is described as both being a provocative tease and having Machiavellian flair.

Importantly, the dad daughter relationship and its early destruction is central to the book. David knows he has let Helen down and, more fundamentally, knows that she has never forgiven him. In turn, Helen has what her psychologist calls a ‘fixation’ with her father, or is it, perhaps, an obsession?

This is a dark, psychological tale of a disturbed woman seeking justice and revenge, but who only finds betrayal. It asks the question, is everyone on Helen’s side, or no one? Read it to find out.

A Boneless Kiss: Letters From A Dead Heart by Gerald Wixey is available now in Kindle format, priced £1.69. For more information, visit www.geraldwixey.co.uk

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Salt of Their Blood by Gerald Wixey

In this book, author Gerald Wixey delivers on what he does best: thriller mysteries,  revenge, the past catching up with the present, and a young man’s determination to find out the truth at all costs.

Salt-of-Their-BloodsmSet in small English town in the 1960s, to a backdrop of Paul Simon music, the protagonist Stuart embarks on a passionate love affair with Kathy, who is married but hopelessly in love with him.

But while this is happening, there are also two other events Stuart has to grapple with and establish the truth about.

First, there is the death of a mechanic, killed by a five-ton truck which crashes down on him in a “dreadful accident”.

A few weeks later, Stuart’s best friend disappeared — and Stuart is convinced somehow that the two events are connected.

This was 12 years ago, at the same time that Stuart’s uncle was having a tragic love affair with a lady named Shirley, Kathy’s mother-in-law.

But now, as Stuart is himself falling in love with married Kathy, a chance encounter with the dead mechanic’s wife confirms the incidents were indeed linked in some way and that all is not well.

There are further twists and turns, namely that his lover Kathy is the sister of his missing friend. Her husband is also someone Stuart has a terrible relationship with and, worse still, knows of his wife’s affair, and also a bit too much about those confusing past events. It doesn’t take long for Stuart to realise his liaison is more dangerous than he thinks.

There is no doubt that Salt of Their Blood is a gripping page turner, with enough blood, guts, mystery and sex to keep readers captivated.  It takes a few chapters to get into it, and understand just who is related to who, how they are connected and why they’re important, but as soon as the major loose ends and characters are in place, it’s a fast, enjoyable read.

A key selling point is the prose. From the first brilliant line: “I heard someone die,” the author excels at creating mood, atmosphere and a great sense of place.

Great lines include: “The frost clung on, hard enough to bind the car park gravel into small knots,” and “A nasty wind sighed across the allotments”. He also expertly uses evocative aromas and plants —  “honeysuckle and cut grass” —  to draw the reader in.

Places are incredibly well described, as too are characters, particularly Stuart on his lazy summer holidays as a child.

Salt Of Their Blood is a great read about a dark love affair that will make readers cry, gasp out loud in surprise but mainly want to know more about what happened in that small 1960s town.

Salt Of Their Blood by Gerald Wixey (ISBN 978-1848766969) is available now, priced £7.99. For more information, visit www.geraldwixey.co.uk

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Small Town Nocturne by Gerald Wixey

“Small Town Nocturne” is no accidental name for this book. It’s a brilliant depiction of small-town England with corrupt council officials, affairs carried out in cheap hotel rooms, and seedy characters in positions of relative power.

Small-Town-Nocturne-smA main character, as in Wixey’s previous books A Boneless Kiss and Salt of Their Blood, is Stuart,  who has been a sexual voyeur since he was 12 when he watched his womanising uncle embark on an affair, with devastating consequences. He then developed an inquisitiveness that turned into a consuming passion for detective work and finding out what makes people tick. The politics of relationships is his idée fixe.

This leads to a confrontation with Chris Bruton, a “little weasel” of a man and responsible council leader with large department to run and a budget of millions, but who spends most of his time having an affair in a hotel, which Stuart documents.

Then there’s Rhonda, who we meet at the start of the book. She is a runaway from Wales who ends up in Reading after having enough of her stepfather abusing her. Homeless and alone, she’s picked up by Graves, a wealthy paedophile who is actually cruising the streets and stations looking for young boys.

He takes Rhonda in, “dresses her up sharp and razors her hair short (like a boy)” then uses her to help him pick-up other children, also teaching her a few other criminal tricks along the way. Rhonda is haunted by her past, and her dysfunctional relationships with men, especially her doctor, whom she sleeps with on their fourth meeting. She’s also got something of a drug habit.

The book follows the twists and turns of affairs, conspiracies, illegal property deals and men with criminal and unsavoury interests.

At times it is difficult to know which character is the worse and who we should be cheering for — but that is also part of the charm, and plot! It’s a tightly-paced thriller which builds to a fantastic but shocking denouement. Readers will love it.

Small Town Nocturne by Gerald Wixey is available now in Kindle format, priced £1.99. For more information, visit www.geraldwixey.co.uk

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THE ORANGE COAT By Sarah Baldry Lovereading Review

The Orange Coat is the harrowing and often shocking story of one woman’s alleged domestic abuse nightmare, and subsequent dealings with the police — whom, she claims, grossly mishandled her case almost from start to finish.

sbfc-The-Orange-Coat-smAs the author explains in the book’s introduction, she decided to put pen to paper to share “the story of various chapters of my life” and about her “dealings with officers of the law in the UK, during a time where I felt very scared and unsafe and I feared for the safety of others too”. It is, as such, a personal and heart-felt testimony that also serves as a  form of catharsis for the writer. It goes without saying that all names in the book, save the writer’s own psychiatrist, have been changed.

As with many works within the inspirational literature genre, The Orange Coat details the many wrongs and tragedies that have befallen the author throughout her life. Sarah has suffered from depression since childhood and says that this stems from her days at boarding school when, separated from her father and brother, she was the victim of ongoing institutional punishment that would rival anything from Dickens’s novels in its cruelty. The author goes further, hinting at sexual abuse, and this sustained loneliness and suffering may help account for her hasty and ill-advised marriage at 30 to a man she had only known for seven weeks.

Sarah claims that her time with her husband was a “marriage of mind-games, manipulation and cruelty” which featured a series of inexplicable events, illnesses and injuries that plagued and perplexed her until she built up the courage to escape the relationship. She says that after leaving her husband these issues disappeared and it is only on later reflection that she began suspecting his hand in these tribulations.

More worryingly, Sarah believes that her ex-husband might have been involved in much darker and disturbing deeds. There is no definitive proof for these suspicions, but the author presents her own evidence — the discovery of a child’s orange coat and drawing hidden away in the house she shared with her ex, when they had no children of their own — and leaves it to the reader to come to their own conclusions.

To try and escape her past, Sarah — a highly successful make-up artist — moves to Dubai to start anew, and for a time finds happiness, marrying again and starting a family. But, as she relates, the spectre of her ex soon comes back to haunt her and she turns to the British police for help, fearing for her safety. The rest of the book details the alleged mishandling of her case and makes some strong and alarming accusations against the very people who are meant to be their to protect the public. The authors presents the charges as she sees them in as objective and honest a way as possible throughout, and at the end of many chapters provides commentary on the incidents she describes — with the added benefit of hindsight.

The extensive amount of time, energy and money she spent dealing with the police, both in the UK and Dubai, to try and get some form of reassurance of safety from her ex caused no end of stress and worry for Sarah, and led to both a mental collapse and the break-down of her marriage.

Sarah says that The Orange Coat is a book that she has wanted to bring out for a long time, to air her grievances in public after failing to get the recognition or response she so desperately wanted from the police.

There are no happy endings to be had and no substantial answers — but that’s not what this book is about.

Sarah Baldry has given readers a “walk in her shoes”, offering a rare and powerful insight into the hell of domestic abuse that will help inspire other victims to seek out the support they need to get through it as well.

The Orange Coat by Sarah Baldry is available from Amazon in print (and Kindle) format, priced £8.43 (£6.16). For more information visit www.TheOrangeCoat.com

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October 1st email update

Did you know that Anne Rice was born in October? She went on to pen the blood-sucking classic, Interview with the Vampire. Well, ‘fangs’ to our team of ‘batty’ book fanatics, we’ve a rich vein of superlative titles for you to sink your teeth into. Read on to find out more…

Turning Leaves … October Books of the Month

A princely harvest of page-turners again this month, including our Top Tips: It Started with Paris by Cathy Kelly – Romantic indulgence that coffee and choccy biccies were invented for; The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop (our Sept. Author of the Month) – Masterfully crafted, heated and harrowing lives of family and friends at war; Wars of the Roses: Trinity by Conn Iggulden – Vivid, evocative and fascinating, there is no one better at bringing history to life in fiction; The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion – Endearing, kooky, heartfelt and thought-provoking writing.

 

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And talking of Books of the Month… don’t miss your chance to peruse the shortlisted titles for the Man Booker Prize and pick a favourite before the winner is announced later this month.

October the Firsts … Debut of the Month

It’s always a pleasure to bring you great new writing from talented new writers and this month Don’t miss Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley – A banquet of words where not every dish is easy to eat, but the whole meal stays with you forever. We also have an ‘Ask the Author’ exclusive interview with Robin where we quiz her on her writing motivations.

And the enchanting debut from the journalist and broadcaster Kirsty Wark, The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, set on the Scottish island of Arran. It is the stories of two women, generations apart, woven together in a delicate tapestry of interconnecting lives, loves and losses that vividly brings to life the island’s past and its present.

P.S. We Love Her … Guest Editor, Cecelia Ahern

Following her record-busting debut, P.S, I Love You, Cecelia Ahern has become a household name across the world. Published in over 40 countries, her latest, The Year I Met Youis an original, poignant, captivating novel that will make you laugh, cry and celebrate life.

So if you haven’t already, make this the year you meet her. One of her books is also due to hit the silver screen on 22 Oct called Love Rosie and is based on her book Where Rainbows End.

Book a Movie … Books of recent film releases

“The book is better”, they (almost always) say. This month, there are several opportunities to prove them right:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – you haven’t read this yet? Seriously? Okay, sorry. It’s good. Please get it, and read it before you see the film. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – from the author of Seabiscuit, a painfully difficult, ultimately uplifting, mind-blowing true story.

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper – wry, clever and genuinely hilarious portrait of American family life … and death. Serena by Ron Rash – Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are cast in this tale of love, passion and bloody revenge in 1900s rural America.

And Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie – nostalgic, eccentric, entirely British and soon to be an ITV 6-part series called Grantchester.

Reader Reviewers’ Favourites … the public jury

We’ve had some fantastic, insightful and honest reviews from the good folk of our Reader Review Panel for which we are immensely grateful. So we thought we could publish a Reader Reviewers’ favourite every month. And this month it’s:

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd which garnered reviews like – “glorious, amazing, sad, thrilling”; “stunning, totally stunning” “touched me profoundly” … praise from the horse’s mouth for this incredible piece set in the time of slavery. Find out more.

Are books your bag? Independent Bookshops’ Party!

Equally desirable as our own Lovereading Canvas bag, the “Books Are My Bag” bag has been designed by Tracey Emin to support a great nationwide campaign to celebrate the independent bookshop. There’s so much going on in bookshops all over the UK from 9-11 October in particular. Click here to find what’s on near you.

Scroll down for more hand-picked recommendations in the genres you have told us you want to be kept up to date on.Click here to check or change any.

Happy Reading.

P.S. There is a fantastic line-up at for Harrogate History and Historical Fiction Festival 23 – 26 October.
And we’ve negotiated a special 10% discount on tickets for Lovereading members. Just visit http://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/history or call 01423 562303 and use the code LOVEHISTORY. With star historical novelist such as Bernard Cornwell and Elizabeth Chadwick why not make a weekend of it?

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Top 10 books on Lovereading 30 September – 7 October 2014

Lovereading TOP 10

1
The Invention of Wings The Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd
October 2014 Book of the Month.
Divided into two first-person, alternating narration, this is strong stuff. One first person, Sarah Grimke, is the daughter of a rich, influential Charleston family in early 19th century Southern America. The second narrative is Handful, …
Download free opening extract
2
The Rosie Effect The Rosie Effect
Graeme Simsion
October 2014 Book of the Month.
The simplicity of the writing here has a magical quality that carries you effortlessly from page to page. If you have not met Don Tillman, Professor of Genetics in The Rosie Project then you are …
Download free opening extract
3
Gone Girl Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn
The book that has taken the world by storm, now a huge film starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Brilliant, scintillating, dark and manipulative, packed with twists and turns this is every bit as good as everyone says it is. …
Download free opening extract
4
Us Us
David Nicholls
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014.
After the phenomenal success of One Day it must have been tough for the author to write this.  Little will live up to that masterpiece but give the man some slack and sit back …
Download free opening extract
5
The Sunrise The Sunrise
Victoria Hislop
October 2014 Book of the Month.
Having told the harrowing tale of the leper colony of Spinalonga in The Island and the history of Thessalonika in The Thread, Victoria Hislop returns to a Mediterranean island, Cyprus. Sunrise was the name of …
Download free opening extract
6
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman
Denis Theriault
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 one, but he regularly sneaks a peek …
Download free opening extract
7
No Safe House No Safe House
Linwood Barclay
October 2014 Book of the Month.
A sequel to No Time for Goodbye but you can enjoy this without knowledge of that.  It concerns the Archer family, Terry, Cynthia and daughter Grace.  Seven years ago (first book) they suffered an ordeal …
Download free opening extract
8
Lies We Tell Ourselves Lies We Tell Ourselves
Robin Talley
October 2014 Debut of the Month.
Fascinating, commanding and stimulating; this work of fiction is steeped in the history of the American school integration struggle in the late 1950’s. The author has clearly done her research and written a provocative and …
Download free opening extract
9
We are All Completely Beside Ourselves We are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Karen Joy Fowler
Shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2014.
The effects on a family of a young sister who disappears.  It is a good third of the way through the book before you find out what it’s all about and I do hope …
Download free opening extract
10
The Year I Met You The Year I Met You
Cecelia Ahern
Very different from her previous books for there is no supernatural or spiritual element.  Just a thoroughly good story of family dynamics, relationships, handicaps in families and it affects all.  It’s pensive, soul searching stuff concentrating on two people who …
Download free opening extract

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Ask The Author: Robin Talley

By Vikki Patis

I spoke Robin Talley about her writing process, ahead of the publication of her debut novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves.

Robin Talley - AuthorRobin Talley grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, writing terrible teen poetry and riding a desegregation bus to the school across town. A Lambda Literary Fellow, Robin lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife, plus an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. When Robin’s not writing, she’s often planning communication strategies at organizations fighting for equal rights and social justice.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is an exceptional debut novel. Set in Virginia, 1959, it tells the story of two young girls, one black, one white, and their extraordinary journey through racism, oppression, and adversity.

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy, and I absolutely adored it. It was hard to read at times, but it is absolutely necessary for us to understand just what people went through, and are still going through today. A beautifully crafted novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves made me angry and sad and hopeful, all at the same time. Linda’s character totally surprised me, and Sarah’s ability to remain strong in the face of such horrible adversity was impressive to say the least.

I wanted to know what inspired Talley to start writing.

‘It was reading the Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin, and reading voraciously in general, as a kid that initially made me want to be a writer. I loved the idea that fictional characters ― people someone else had made up in their head ― could seem so powerful, so real. I wanted to try making up people like that myself!’

She gets her ideas from all over the place:

‘Stories I read about in the news, that I hear from friends, that start out as alternate versions of other people’s stories, etc. For several years I’ve kept a running list of bits and pieces of ideas in a Google doc, and when I’m starting a new project I’ll go through the list and choose different elements to mix together. My list has hundreds of different entries by now.’

Talley wishes she’d established relationships with other writers, and her advice to aspiring writers is to do just that.

‘No one else will understand what you’re going through, or be able to offer helpful suggestions on your work, as well as other writers who are at the same level as you or who are just ahead of where you are.’ 

She also wishes she’d known that there is a big difference between giving yourself a deadline, and dealing with multiple external deadlines that have actual consequences behind them.

Her next YA novel, which is tentatively titled Unbreakable, will be published next autumn by Harlequin Teen.

‘[It] follows a teen couple — Gretchen, who identifies as a lesbian, and Toni, who identifies as genderqueer — as they struggle to stay together during their first year in college, despite the growing rift caused by distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity.’

Talley is currently reading another 2014 YA release – The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Richmond. She describes it as a beautifully written alternate history story based on a fascinating premise’ and highly recommends it.

Talley will be at librarian and bookseller conferences this autumn, as well as appearing at bookstores, schools and libraries around Washington D.C. All the details of her upcoming events can be found on her website, www.robintalley.com. You can also find her on Twitter: @robin_talley.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is released in the UK on the 3 October. Find it on Lovereading.co.uk, the UK’s No.1 book recommendation site.

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Dear *[subscriber_firstname]*,

Thank you for registering for Lovereading. We are passionate about providing help and guidance so you are able to choose the books you want to read at the best prices.

As a registered member you will recieve regular emails full of hand-picked recommendations in the book categories you have told us you want to be kept upto date with. And you can change these at any time by logging into your account.

Some of you might be familiar with and have used some of our unique features and tools others are perhaps less so. For example, did you know there are over 15,000 Opening Extracts on Lovereading, all waiting for you to discover, download (for free) and enjoy?

You can also use Lovereading to buy all your books. Just key in a book title, author name or ISBN into our predictive search box and you will be able to browse and buy the 6,000,000 (or so) UK books in print – most with a 25% discount off the RRP.

Now, back to the features that makes Lovereading the best independent on-line bookstore. We hope you enjoy making use of them to find your next book.

One Click Links to all the popular eBook formats

iPads, KOBOs, Nooks and Sony eReaders – not to mention all the millions of Smartphones and tablets – no wonder eBook sales have skyrocketed. But where to go to get the biggest choice of eBooks in one place? ‘Simples’ it’s Lovereading, where you’ll find expert guidance and ‘one click’ links to all the popular formats, making your life as a digital reader a doddle.

We are here to help you choose your next great read. Use our guidance including reviews by our editorial experts and from our Lovereading Reader Review Panel, along with thousands of free Opening Extracts, then the eBook format you need is just a click away. All the eBook formats appear in our ‘other formats’ box that is on every book page. Owners of iPads and KOBOs can click direct to the iBookstore or KOBO store (we are exactly the same price) and Nook and Sony eReaders can download the ePub format which will work on those devices.

Author Like-for-Like

lovereading author like for likelovereading author like for likeFor days you’re wrapped up in an amazing story; then suddenly it’s over. When you’ve finished a great book, Lovereading‘s Like-for-Like tool helps you find another to fill the empty feeling. Sarah Broadhurst has reviewed 2,500+ top authors and used her encyclopaedic knowledge to recommend other authors similar in style. Just type in a name and explore some new literary avenues.

Book Price Comparison Engine

lovereading compare book priceA truly great book is priceless. But assuming you don’t have that much to spend, find the best deal here. Introduced by popular demand, our Book Price Comparison Engine searches dozens of online retailers and displays prices and postage costs for any book. Often Lovereading‘s flat rate 25% off may be cheapest; sometimes you’ll buy cheaper elsewhere. Either way, you’ll be glad you checked! It’s easy to use just click the lovereading compare book price button next to the book you are interested in – that’s it!

Stay Socially Connected with our Facebook pages and Twitter feed

Make sure you connect with us online to keep up to date with latest news, offers, share your thoughts and discuss your favourite reads – and the chance to grab some prizes in our regular competitions! Follow us on Twitter (@lovereadinguk) , and join our genre-specific Facebook pages as you please… or join them all and never miss out on any of it!

Wish List

Even if you read non-stop it’s tough keeping up with the dozens of great books published every month. Our Wishlist feature lets you keep an electronic note-to-self of books that catch your eye. So if you don’t want to buy it now, at least you won’t let some life-changing literature slip by. You can also email your list to friends and family, so they’ll know exactly what you want for Christmas or Birthdays! To enter books on your Wishlist – just click the lovereading wishlist button by the book. And all the books in your Wishlist can be moved to your shopping basket at the click of a button.

Gift Vouchers

Do you have a friend or family member who is wild and unpredictable? It’s probably why you love them, but it makes present buying extremely difficult. Available from £5 to £100, a Lovereading Gift Voucher is the perfect solution. Let them choose something they’ll love, and next time you meet you can be sure they’ll have a good story to tell you.

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Mid-September update

Our September mid-month email is full of Pre-Publication exclusive extracts, news on the Man Booker Shortlist and the chance to win signed books, cinema vouchers and even the exclusive and gorgeous Lovereading Canvas Book Bag worth £9.99. OR spend £25 or more, on books through Lovereading, and claim one free! … impossible to resist?

Sneak Peek! – “Pre-Pubs” for October

As usual there’s a host of hot-off-the-press Pre-Publication exclusives on the site so that you can see what’s due to rocket to the top next month. Every one of them is well worth spending time with but if we were forced to choose, we most certainly wouldn’t miss:

No Safe House by Linwood Barclay – A suspense thriller that Stephen King described as “masterful” … dark and tinglingly chilling. It Started with Paris by Cathy Kelly – Life in all its humorous glory with a broad canvas of classic characters and a wide Irish smile. And The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion – A quirky, heartfelt, cathartic follow-up to the witty bestseller The Rosie Project.

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One thing leads to another

Not sure if you noticed but 2 of this month’s Pre-Pub books are sequels. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion and Trinity by Conn Iggulden.

With both these books we heartily recommend you take the time, before the 2nd in the series is published, to read the 1st – you won’t be disappointed. The books are The Rosie Project and Stormbird. We love them both.

Maxim-ising September

Maxim Jakubowski, world-renowned and Lovereading’s resident Crime-writing guru has, this month, made his exclusive selection for us of the best Scottish Crime Fiction. Disciples of the genre, make your pilgrimage north to the Holy Grail of Crime! His ‘Book of the Month’ is a new collection of short stories from Ian Rankin …a must have for fans. His ‘Highly Recommended’ selection is the gripping thriller, reminiscent of a Scottish GODFATHER, The Night the Rich Men Burned by Malcolm Mackay.

 

eBooks of the Month

Pretty much all fiction is available as an eBook nowadays and uniquely Lovereading lets you choose the format, ePub, iBook or Nook that suits you best. Of particular note:

Tiger Milk

Stefanie de Velasco

A unique, powerful voice… not an easy read but a very rewarding one.

A Place for Us: Part 2

Harriet Evans

A wonderfully tantalising and captivating read that more than lives up to expectations.

Man Booker!

No that’s not a reference to a male escort client. It is of course that time of year when the shortlist for one of the biggest prizes in literature is announced. The Man Booker Prize never disappoints and for the first time this year it was opened to global nominations. Check out this year’s hopefuls below and see what floats your reading taste. Let us know through our Facebook or Twitter communities.

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We love your opinions …

Finally, thank you to all the people who completed the recent Lovereading annual survey, your views are invaluable and we hope the 15 lucky winners are enjoying their book bags and book tokens. The survey was run by the lovely people SurveyBods and if you sign up to them you will have the opportunity to earn extra money and win great prizes through simply giving your opinions online.

Autumn Book Festival News

lit-fest-summary-image-sep14_vsmAutumn…season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and a ripe crop of Literary Festivals for you to feast on. Enjoy the glut of authors at: Windsor Festival (15-28 September), Wimbledon Book Fest (3-12 October), The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival (3-12 October), Birmingham Literature Festival (2-11 October), Wells Festival of Literature (10-18 October) and Harrogate History Festival (23-26 October). And click here to win a pair of tickets to hear The Guardian’s Tim Dowling on How to be a Husband at Wells Festival on 11 October.

Do you have a romantic novel in you?

From Romeo and Juliet’s fateful kiss to Elizabeth’s clash with the proud, rude Mr Darcy at the Meryton Ball, writers have proved that true love springs from the most unlikely of encounters. LoveAtFirstWrite, a partnership between Lovereading and publisher Corvus, is looking for a romantic novel with an original set-up, written with flair and charm, so that its creator can find their happy-ever-after with their new publisher. So if you are a debut novelist looking for your first publisher click here to find out more, we even have tips on writing great romantic scenes. Good Luck.

9780141359151That’s September at Lovereading. Whatever you read and wherever you read it, have a great, page-turning month. See you in October.  

P.S. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Tissues at the ready … a heartbreaking yet funny and poignant story of life, love and suffering. You’ve probably already read the novel and seen the film but this gift hardback edition will be the icing on your bookshelf or that of another Fault in Our Stars addict.

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Ask the Author: Ed Cox

By Vikki Patis

Thanks again to the wonderful people at Orion books, I interviewed debut author Ed Cox about his writing process and upcoming novel The Relic Guild.

the relic guild‘Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.’

Cox, with over a decade of writing behind him and a host of short stories, has decided to turn his hand to compelling fantasy fiction. Based in the UK, Cox has a BA 1st class with honours in creative writing, and a Master degree in the same subject. He then went on to teach creative writing at the University of Bedfordshire.

Described as ‘a highly commercial fantasy with a complicated heroine’, The Relic Guild is the first in an epic trilogy, following a young woman who must control her magic and escape her prison. According to Cox himself, ‘The Relic Guild is a story about intrigue, isolation, magic and adventure. It’s about people doing the right thing even when they’ve been given every reason not to.’

Set in an amazingly visualised city with a host of memorable characters, The Relic Guild is a must-read for lovers of adventure, mystery, magic and monsters, and complex characters.

The Relic Guild  is published on September 18th by Gollancz, in trade paperback, e-book and audiobook.

According to Cox, it was only a matter of time before he caught the writing bug:

‘As far back as I can remember I’ve always had a love for stories.’

He quotes the Ray Harryhausen movies as an early inspiration, but reading David Gemmell showed him how much he wanted to write fantasy stories. Neil Gaiman, Angela Carter and Tad Williams are also his literary heroes.

Ed-1Like many authors, Cox says that his ideas come from everywhere and anywhere:

‘A conversation, a story that didn’t go in the direction I thought it would, walking, driving, having a bath, cooking dinner, TV – anywhere. I’ve learned not to go looking for story ideas; they’ll just come to me when they feel like it. This sounds like I’m being glib, but the harder I try to force ideas the less likely they are to happen. In fact, every time I stress about any aspect of writing I just end up making it tougher for myself.’

Cox’s tip for aspiring writers is that it’s important to keep your perspective focused on what you’re creating.

‘The story always comes first. Focus on that and nothing else until it is as good as you can make it. Then get your story read, get some feedback, and then make it even better. Only when it’s finished should you concern yourself with agents and publishers. I say this from experience. There have been times when I’ve written with one eye on getting published and making money. The work suffers for it, and I always fall flat on my face.’

The amount of waiting, and patience required, is what Cox would have liked to have known before he was published.

‘It’s taken 18 months for The Relic Guild to be published, but it has felt like my desk chair has been on fire since the moment I signed the contract.  Patience is an important part of a book deal, but not always easy to find, and you go through a whole host of emotions waiting for publication day. And then, of course, publication day comes around and you panic. There’s suddenly a shedload of work to do, and you worry that you’re not prepared for it at all! It’s all part of the fun.’

Cox is currently waiting for his editor to send back the edits on book two of The Relic Guild, and then for the next year or so he’ll be writing book three. He’ll be making an appearance at Goldsboro Books in London on the 18th of September for the official launch.

He’s currently reading Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams, and will move on to Banished by Liz de Jager next.

The Relic Guild will be available on Lovereading.co.uk from 18th September, the UK’s No 1 book recommendation website.

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