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Book Review: The Customer Experience Book, By Alan Pennington

In a world where customers are increasingly inclined to go public with tales of exceptionally good – or bad – experiences, it’s more important than ever for businesses to get it right when it comes to delivering on their promises.

 

TheCustomerExperienceBook_smAnd with the advent of the internet making competition fierce in virtually every field of business these days, gaining and retaining customers by providing a quality experience is more vital than ever.

 

But while, according to customer experience expert and author Alan Pennington, many business professionals are aware of this, at least in theory, the vast majority lack the detailed knowledge necessary to make real, lasting change. This is where The Customer Experience Book comes in.

 

Newly released by Pearson, this is the first practical guide to implementing an effective customer experience policy within and across a business. As such, it will prove an indispensable resource for anyone in business, from C-suite executives to those working in human resources, marketing and sales, and front-line customer service.

 

As Pennington explains, experience that customers have when dealing with a company can have a huge impact on the success or otherwise of its operations, which makes it all the more surprising that relatively few companies are presently addressing the issue.

 

In this straight-talking guide, the author, who co-founded market-leading global customer experience consultancy Mulberry Consulting, gets right to the nub of the matter, presenting practical ideas and solutions that, when properly implemented, can yield impressive results for businesses of all sizes.

 

As a concept, customer experience, or ‘CX’ for short, is relatively new; only entering the business lexicon within the last decade or so.

 

Unfortunately, according to Pennington, many British businesses have been slow to catch on, preferring to continue with an old operational model that might have worked in the past but is woefully ill-suited to today’s commercial pressures.

 

One of his central arguments is hard to refute: why waste potentially millions of pounds on advertising and marketing of a product or service just to lose those same customers you’ve courted if the overall customer experience is flawed.

 

By this, he not only means the product or service itself, though that’s a large part, but the total package, including the customer’s experiences with the sales team or help desk.

For those rare businesses that get it right, such as Apple, the net result can reap dividends in generating repeat business, customer loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations.

 

Refreshingly, Pennington is no idealist and appreciates that a company philosophy cannot simply change overnight. What he advises are gentle steps towards the CX goal, perhaps over the space of a few years, so both employees and customers don’t get scared off by the new polarisation.

 

In The Customer Experience Book he offers an ‘end-to-end’ view of the subject, which cuts through the jargon and the publicity stunts to clearly and simply show business leaders how to integrate and deploy a customer experience strategy that will give their brand the edge.

 

Citing numerous case studies and examples of good and bad practice in the field, Pennington highlights how businesses are often defeating their own ends by sacrificing a quality customer experience in favour of cutting costs: for example, by outsourcing to that bane of modern existence, the call centre, or by encouraging telephone staff to stick to a script to shave time from their communications.

 

This book introduces measurement tools such as Customer Journey Mapping and the effective use of Big Data, and as a whole is enormously useful in helping business leaders assess where their company currently stands, and what steps they should take to delivering a customer experience that will genuinely benefit both their customers and bottom line.

 

The Customer Experience Book (Pearson) by Alan Pennington is out now, priced £17.99. Find out more thecustomerexperiencebook.com

 

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Author Talk: Jackie Morris and Jon Boden discuss their book The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow

9781910862650Globally acclaimed artist and author Jackie Morris inspires us with an illustrated short story collection, The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow, inspired by music and musicians. This collection of interwoven illustrated stories for adults are also perfect to share with musically inclined children of all ages. Here Jackie shares her thoughts and then singer, composer and musician, Jon Boden also shares his.

 

Jackie Morris talks:

Jackie_Morris_picThe Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow is a book worked backwards. The illustrations were commissioned Christmas card designs for the charity Help Musicians, produced at a rate of one painting a year.

 

The brief was always the same: anything, so long as there were musical instruments or musicians in it. Even with the first card there was an unwritten narrative behind the image of three kings, three ships and a star.

 

After a few years the narrative widened; characters began to move between the paintings, sometimes missing for a year or two, but entering again into the next year’s card as if returning from a journey. As they gathered over the years, the stories flowed between the cards and the images became a window into a strange world.

 

Sometimes people would ask me if there was a story behind a piece of work, and what it was. I would reply, “you tell me.” My feeling was that the images all spoke a different story to different people.

 

Now, here, between the covers of this book there is a new gathering, of images and stories. The words tell only a small part of what can be found in the images. These stories ask more questions than they answer. Look at the paintings and find within them more answers. The book is a harbour in which to rest, a catalyst for the imagination, and the stories are a series of lullabies for grown-ups.

 

My hope is that the threads of stories will wrap around the dreams of others and spin fine gold threads to catch the imagination.

 

 

Jon Boden, Singer, Composer and Musician talks:

jon_bowden_smI first became aware of the beautiful imagination of Jackie Morris over ten years ago when I received a Christmas card with a panoramic vision of snow, patchwork balloons and music-making pilgrims entitled “Flight of Fancy”. The picture was so mysterious and enchanting that I immediately stuck it in a frame and placed it on our living room mantelpiece, and there it has remained ever since, centre-fold crease and all.

 

Morris’ sixteen-year “flight of fancy” in her work for Help Musicians UK (previously the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund) has been a slowly blossoming flower, each year yielding a tantalising glimpse into an enigmatic, free-flowing world with music at its heart. Each character, each landscape feels like the window into an unknowable story that is quietly carrying on its own time and space, untroubled by the inquisitive eyes of onlookers gazing up from beneath the mantelpiece. I must admit to a tinge of sadness every time I’ve immersed myself in these pictures, that the secrets of their private cosmos would never be revealed.

 

So thank goodness Jackie Morris has decided to throw open that window and invite us into the magical world of The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow.

 

The question of where folk tales have come from is one that has long occupied literary theorists and psychologists alike, but most agree that the strange, simple, twisted beauty of such stories must be a manifestation of the human subconscious itself. That being the case it follows that new fairy tales can only really be created if they are written sub-consciously. For most people that would presumably mean taking mind-altering drugs or hoping that a dream comes along at some point with narrative intact…

Love-Reading_The-Quiet-Music-of-Gently-Falling-Snow_Jackie-Morris-ilovepdf-compressed-5

The brilliance of this book is that Morris has devised a far more interesting and fruitful method for tapping into the subconscious world of the folk tale. By letting her imagination run riot through her paintings over many years without any compulsion to provide a narrative context she has yielded the sign-posts for these stories. But since they have come bubbling up from her own sub-conscious it is only really possible for her to follow those markers and piece together the hidden stories of her own visual imaginings.

 

That she has managed to do so in such a compelling, lucid and bewitching way is not only immensely gratifying for readers and lovers of great illustrative art, but is also tremendously exciting for the future of artistic creation itself. Music, painting and words have long been close acquaintances, but in The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow Morris has discovered a way of bringing the three art forms together in a truly organic, intuitive amalgam.

 

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Book Review: Because of You by Helene Fermont

Because of You by debut author Helene Fermont is a confident and absorbing work of modern women’s fiction with a psychological twist, spanning three decades in the intertwined lives of four individuals.

BOY-cover-(RGB-update)Starting off at the tail end of the disco era in the 1970s, the novel introduces us to fresh-faced 18-year-old Hannah Stein, who has left her native Sweden to spend a gap year in London before launching into a challenging teaching career with special-needs children.

The early chapters see Hannah finding her feet as she adjusts to life away from her parents, making friends and slowly coming out of her shell as she is introduced to the exciting London club scene.

Here she meets the handsome, charismatic Mark. There is an immediate and undeniable sexual chemistry between them, but Mark has a reputation as a serial womaniser and the couple’s relationship quickly becomes tempestuous.

While still involved with Mark, Hannah is introduced to the alluring Ben at a friend’s birthday party. They are made for each other and he has the stamp of approval from Hannah’s parents and friends, but the course of true love never did run smooth and over the coming years life will throw a series of obstacles in their path as Hannah tries to decide between him and the persuasive yet unscrupulous Mark.

Foremost among these obstacles will be Vanessa, the daughter of a millionaire who is Ben’s business partner. Her obsession with Ben means she will stop at nothing to undermine the relationship between Ben and Hannah, and a cash-strapped Mark is only too happy to help in her underhand plans.

Split between London and Sweden, Because of You weaves a complex and fulfilling narrative tapestry as the years, and decades, pass.

Just as in real life, the indiscretions and mistakes of the past leave their mark on the characters as each searches for happiness in their own, sometimes misguided, way.

Between 1978 and 2014, when the saga comes to an uplifting and satisfying conclusion, Hannah, Vanessa, Mark and Ben face many trials and tribulations, some shared, some alone; some to be expected and others, such as a terrifying rape ordeal, coming completely out of the blue.

Loss, bereavement, and grief are recurring themes. Hannah, for example, has to accept that friends move on with their lives and that her parents and beloved grandmother will not be around for ever.

The description of one of the characters having to deal with their mother’s sad decline with Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, is especially poignant, as is another character’s experiences after suffering a miscarriage.

Another key motif is the role of fate and destiny in shaping people’s lives, and how individuals respond to situations that are simply out of their control.

What is refreshing is how author Helene Fermont goes to great lengths to create believable and relatable three-dimension characters. Even the supporting cast and most villainous antagonists all have their reasons for acting as they do while retaining the facility to adapt, even to find some form of redemption and atonement, over the course of time.

And perhaps it’s the author’s Anglo-Swedish heritage that has a part to play in making Because of You unique in the booming women’s lit genre. The realism combined with dark psychological undertones have more than a whiff of Scandinavian noir about it, usually something found only within the realm of crime fiction.

As engaging as it is thought-provoking, this character-driven novel is a nuanced account of the way past events and experiences can shape personalities and impact on the present – both for good and bad – and how, beneath the turbulent streams of life, enduring love, acceptance and fidelity can ultimately bring peace and contentment.

At 500 pages, it’s not a short read and certainly not to be mistaken for an airport novel.

But for readers ready to invest the time and emotion, they will discover that Because of You is an exceptional first novel by an author with a clear and original voice, and a very promising future.

Because of You by Helene Fermont (Fridhem Publishing) is published August 15, priced £9.99 in paperback and £3.99 as an ebook. Find out more at helenefermont.com

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Author Talk: Q&A with Christobel Kent author of The Loving Husband

 

9780751562415-2Did you have the whole plot for this book worked out before you started writing or did you change or review certain things as ideas came to you?

For this novel, as for my previous English-set thriller The Crooked House, and the one I have just finished – although not for any of my Italian books – I worked out the whole plot before I began writing the book in a scene by scene plan, much more than a synopsis, something around a hundred pages long. It doesn’t at all feel as though I ‘begin writing’ when I set out to write the novel itself, as an awful lot of quite developed writing has already happened. I do it this way because I need to understand the characters and develop them before the plot takes shape. Even a plan as detailed as this, though, allows for changes and digressions. One clue or plot twist or character can end up taking much more space and significance than another, for example and ideas can occur to me as I go along. But there are much less likely to be any big changes, such as who did it.
 

What is the most interesting thing you have learnt when creating your books? Do you learn new things about yourself?

You learn how dull and uninteresting you are, quite a lot of the time!  Putting your thoughts and yourself down on paper can be rather testing, when you only think ooofff how boring. I try very very hard not to be boring, that’s my idea of total failure as a novelist, so I suppose I set the bar very high.

 

Was Nathan a difficult character to research? He seemed to have a lot of psychological problems that gave him power to control people that should have known better?

I don’t really research characters, or indeed anything in my novels aside from some small specific technical details. I just sort of accumulate bits of information about criminal or unpleasant behaviour – about bad people whose quirks and characteristic behaviours can be given away in chance remarks or newspaper stories. Such as: when the infamous Rosemary and Fred West were tried, a neighbour said of Rose West that she was astonished she could have been capable of such terrible acts because ‘she kept her children’s hair so nice’. Small unexpected or telling details like that are gold dust, and they can come from all sorts of places – not least amongst one’s acquaintance; usually not from people one knows well but from passing encounters. I don’t seek them out or write them down, but once heard they are never forgotten. There are plenty of men a little bit like Nathan out there: men who need to control their wives or lovers or girlfriends, and disguise that control as loving care.

  

How did you feel when you heard your novel was going to be optioned for a three-part drama by ITV studios?

I was absolutely delighted, of course!  When you write – and I have written eleven novels now – practically the first thing anyone ever says is wouldn’t it be great if it was turned into a TV series/movie?  Of course I know quite well what the odds are even of being optioned, let alone the film or series actually getting made, so my heart always sank when the question was asked. But my books are all in their way cinematic, not least because I focus a lot on setting, and always have a very strong visual idea of what is happening and where. And trying to decide on one’s perfect cast list for one’s characters is every author’s favourite daydream (not least because it ends with us being rich and famous).
 

What does your usual writing day routine consist of?

My usual writing day routine consists of getting the children out of the house to school (this is easier than it used to be as I only have the last of five children at home now), sitting down at my computer (which is in my bedroom, facing the wall so as to present no opportunities for distraction) and writing for two hours, roughly. This was established when I started writing and I had a nine-year-old, a seven-year-old, a five-year-old and a three-year-old. When the last baby came along a couple of years later, two hours was an absolute maximum because that was how long she would sleep after I had wheeled her home in the pram from dropping the others at school. My husband makes me one cup of the best coffee in the world after about ten minutes, and I make myself a second (less perfect) one when I have got to five hundred words. I write a thousand words a day roughly, never less, occasionally more. When I started writing I used sometimes to go over it again in the evening for half an hour, with a glass of wine in my hand. I do that less now, but it works pretty well as a light self-editing technique. As long as you only ever do it on one glass of wine.

 

Have you ever written a scene that has scared you enough so you have had to walk away for a minute or two?

I don’t get scared exactly by my own writing, as generally I have a resolution worked out – though I have had the hairs rise on the back of my neck. For example, when in The Loving Husband Fran goes up into the attic of the grim old house she lives in: I hadn’t really worked out what it was she was going to find there when I began writing it so it was more about closing my eyes and thinking of what a dark spidery attic feels like, the space, the smell, the rafters, the quality of the shadows and that sense in many crowded attics that something might be waiting in there.

 

Where does the darkness in The Loving Husband come from?

I think the darkness in The Loving Husband comes from my understanding of the very risky business of motherhood, the fears and burdens it brings, and of committing yourself to another human being for life, very often when you know very little about them. People regularly turn out to be darker and more complicated than you first realise, when they present their sunniest, most upbeat face to you and the world; sometimes they conceal their true selves from you, consciously or unconsciously, sometimes they change with major life events such as having children. The thought of revealing your most vulnerable, needy self, your deepest self, to someone who then either rejects or abuses or manipulates you, is horrible to me. And if you add in the need – as in The Loving Husband – to protect small children, plus a hostile alien environment, what you get is terror.

 

Do your characters stay with you after you finish writing or do you leave them on the page?

Some of my characters stay with me long after I’ve written the novel in which they appear. The best ones do – and the ones you mine yourself most deeply for. In my Italian detective series, of course, (five novels so far) I have come to think of my principal characters as my own family. I know I am going to see them again, and look forward to it.

 

Have any authors or novels particularly shaped your writing style?

I don’t think I write like any other crime writer, if I am honest. I often wish I did – but those who have inspired me are Patricia Highsmith for her deep uncompromising darkness and understanding of the criminal urge, Daphne du Maurier for her wild imagination, her delight in bold drama and her intense involvement with landscape, and Georges Simenon for his fine cool economy with description and detail and characterisation, his understanding that what is really interesting in a crime story is human nature. I think Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine is really the mistress of the powerful hybrid that is the literary psychological thriller and she was the model who gave me confidence to write something more elaborate than a simple ‘mystery’ while not losing sight of the mission to entertain and excite and terrify.

 

Did you have a favourite bedtime read as a child? If so, what did you particularly love about it? 

I loved Joan Aiken’s Wolves of Willoughby Chase series (though when I was a child I think she had only written the first four). Black Hearts in Battersea was my favourite, I think. I loved her fine eye for physical detail and her brilliant way with character – feisty misfit girls, evil governesses, lumbering sidekicks – and her strong sense of adventure, of what a child responds to, and beauty. There was a wonderful scene in Wolves of Willoughby Chase when the two main characters, young girls, escape in deep snowy winter from an orphanage by scaling the wall and are met by a friend driving a cart loaded with sheepskins where they can burrow down and stay warm even in the frosty night, safe from pursuing wolves.

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Author Talk: Unravelling by Thorne Moore

Author Thorne Moore answers a few questions from Lovereading about her book Unravelling 

9781909983489What were you like at school?

Academically bright, socially hopeless. It wasn’t my happiest time.

Were you good at English?

Yes, great at English Language, which involved grammar and what would now be called creative writing. My best O level grade was English Language. However, I very nearly failed English Literature, since it seemed to be about expressing the correct opinions about other people’s writing. I have never been short of my own opinions.

Which writers inspire you?

Iris Murdoch, Barbara Vine, Kate Atkinson – and Jane Austen in a very humble, kneeling-at-her-feet sort of way. I used to use milestones in her life to encourage me not to give up. She was 36 when she first got published. That encouraged me until I was 37. She died at 42, so I gave myself till 42. Seriously annoying when I turned 43. Now I reconcile myself with thinking that she took her time to get going.

So, what have you written?

Well, apart from the 20,000 novels written and discarded since I was about 14, I have three novels published by Honno – A Time For Silence, Motherlove and The Unravelling, which was published in July this year. My first published work was a short story, in a magazine, in 2010, which was voted 1st prize by the readers. It gave me the push I really needed to get over the finishing line.

What genre are your books?

A difficult question. Crime, but not whodunits. I am not interested in crime as a puzzle, with clues to be followed in order to reach a triumphant conclusion. I am not interested in a duel between goody and baddy, with a clever criminal carefully planning a crime and determined to mislead an even more brilliant detective. The crimes I am interested in are the unintended ones, the ones committed on the spur of the moment by people pushed into a corner, crimes that are just the fatally wrong choice at the wrong moment. The crimes they didn’t mean to commit and wish they hadn’t. It’s the psychological impact that interests me, and the long-term consequences. Even if I write about psychopaths, I am really interested in how it all came about and how people would cope with having a psychopath in their midst. Would they recognise the phenomenon or try to pretend it’s not true? And how would they cope with the aftermath? I could call my genre Psychological Mystery, but I quite like Domestic Noir.

How much research do you do?

Enough to make sure I get details right when necessary. I don’t want any reader to start screaming ‘She’s got that wrong!’although I expect some will, but I try to get dates, procedures, little details right. I don’t want to make any research too obvious, though. Sometimes, research uncovers details that I itch to include, because they are so astonishing and interesting, but if they are irrelevant to the theme or characters, I have to be firm with myself and put them to one side. So I put aside all the fascinating information I discovered about a local POW camp, when I was writing A Time For Silence, because it didn’t add to my theme, but I did read local newspapers and talk to local people in order to get the general background right. In my latest book, The Unravelling, I needed to check small things like the weather on very specific days, or TV schedules from years ago. The internet really is a godsend for that sort of research. Instant answers found at the click of a mouse. How did I manage before? On the other hand, it is about a girl who was 10 in 1966, and I didn’t have to research that. I just had to remember it.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

Any author worth her salt is supposed to say, ‘Oh I always write in longhand with my trusty Parker fountain pen,’ or ‘Call me old fashioned, but I still tap with two fingers on the Remington Standard 2 I inherited from my great-great-grandmother.’ Rubbish. The word processor, on my laptop, is the best thing since unsliced Granary bread. No more throwing reams of paper in the bin, no more illegible corrections scribbled in margins, and extra bits sellotaped in. No more realising that you’ve used the wrong name and wondering how many times you’ve done it in the previous 300 pages. Cut, paste, find and replace – brilliant.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I have a loose outline and yes, I see where it takes me. I usually have very definite images of the locations, and of most of the characters but sometimes I think I know what they’re going to do and they surprise me. If they have developed in a realistic enough manner, who am I to argue with their choices?

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Writing isn’t hard. Deleting half of what you’ve written because it shouldn’t be there is the hard bit. All the editing – and the endless waiting. “Writer” is only one letter removed from “Waiter.” That’s the most agonising part of the process.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I’ve never wanted to in the past, but a carrot has been dangled before my nose and I’m seriously thinking about it. I can see the appeal.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

My thoughts on bad reviews don’t bear repeating. But mostly, really bad reviews are by bad tempered people who got out of bed the wrong side, or who are simply the wrong audience for the book. I don’t write bad reviews, because if I think a book is really bad, I can’t be bothered to review it. If someone can be bothered, he or she is probably prompted by hidden issues. Good reviews, on the other hand, really lift the spirits. They don’t have to be five star reviews to be good. A good review, for me, is one that shows the reader has read my book and thought hard about it. That is very flattering.

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Most popular book on Lovereading 25 – 31 July 2016

Lovereading Top 10

1
How to Find Love in a Book Shop How to Find Love in a Book Shop
Veronica Henry
A lovely, gentle read, full of interesting characters, and at the heart of it all, a rather wonderful book shop called Nightingale Books. In this charming romance, we take a peek into the lives of a number of people, and …
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2
No Turning Back No Turning Back
Tracy Buchanan
July 2016 Book of the Month.
A tension filled, dramatically striking tale, where there is far more to discover than you may at first think. Anna finds herself in the worst possible position when she takes a life in order to …
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3
The Swimming Pool The Swimming Pool
Louise Candlish
July 2016 Book of the Month.
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 …
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4
Watching Edie Watching Edie
Camilla Way
July 2016 Book of the Month.
In alternating chapters headed “Before” and “After” and narrated by both Heather and Edie, this is one truly compulsive read. Menace hangs over the whole thing. “Before” was seventeen years ago when the girls became …
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5
Modern Lovers Modern Lovers
Emma Straub
July 2016 Book of the Month and eBook of the Month.
A penetrating, witty and very modern look at family life. Two sets of friends from Brooklyn are now middle aged parents of teenagers, focusing on both generations, we see the …
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6
Four Weddings and a Fiasco Four Weddings and a Fiasco
Catherine Ferguson
A deliciously readable and enjoyable relationship tale featuring a wedding photographer as she struggles to overcome her heartache and a less than healthy bank balance. 30 year old Katy Peacock started Sister Act Photography with hope and excitement, yet two …
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7
Dear Amy Dear Amy
Helen Callaghan
July 2016 MEGA Debut of the Month.
Margot Lewis is a classics teacher in a Cambridge school. She’s also the agony aunt for the local newspaper, dealing with problems from the loneliness of a recent widower to a teenager wondering if …
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8
The Glorious Heresies The Glorious Heresies
Lisa McInerney
STOP PRESS… Lisa McInerney wins 2016 Desmond Elliott Prize
Winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016.
A quite simply sensational debut, one that reaches into the beastly heart of prostitution, drugs, and violence, and makes it relatable and so very …
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9
My Italian Bulldozer My Italian Bulldozer
Alexander McCall Smith
June 2016 Book of the Month.
A fabulously quirky, ‘standalone’ romance-cum-farce from this feel-good author.  Abandoned by his long-time girlfriend, travel writer Paul goes to Tuscany to research his next book.  Arrangements are made but upon arrival no car is available.  …
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10
A God in Ruins A God in Ruins
Kate Atkinson
Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016.
Winner of the Costa Novel Award 2015.
Kate Atkinson’s dazzling Life After Life, one of the top selling adult books of 2014, explored the possibility of infinite chances, as Ursula Todd lived through …
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Book Review: The Dirty Players by Philip Fielding

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A belting read from kick-off to final whistle.

 

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

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Autumn Book Festival News

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

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Budleigh Salterton – 15-18 Sept

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow the festival on Twitter @BudleighLitFest.

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

Cartes Postales from Greece at 6.30pm on 28 September

AT HENLEY LITERARY FESTIVAL 26 September-2 October

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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JERSEY FESTIVAL OF WORDS – 28 September-2 October

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Chiswick Book Festival 15-19 September

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WIGTOWN BOOK FESTIVAL 23 September-2 October

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

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

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

Lisa Owens: Not Working

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

 

Chitra Ramaswamy: Expecting

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

 

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

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

 

Anna Pasternak: Lara

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

 

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

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

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

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Most popular books on Lovereading 17 – 24 July 2016

Lovereading Top 10

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

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

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

Words Win Prizes! – Desmond Elliott Prize Winner Announced

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

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

July Noted! – Books of the Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And two great reads published 14 July not to miss…

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

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

His Maxim is our Maxim – Maxim Jakubowski Recommends

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

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

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

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

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

A Summer Summary – Summer Reading

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

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