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ANOTHER KIND OF KNOWING BY JAMES CARRÉ-RICE

By Staff Writer

The world of self-help is populated by ‘experts’ who seem to have solutions, but never actually faced the problems they are addressing in their own lives.

Author James Carré-Rice is a notable exception to this rule. By his early 20’s, he was serving a fourth prison sentence for grievous bodily harm and was high on the list of those inmates that were expected either to kill, or be killed. He was made to feel like he was a nobody – a hopeless case who would see out his days behind bars. And he believed it, finding it seemingly impossible to escape a destructive lifestyle that kept on dragging him deeper and deeper into trouble.

But then the remarkable happened. James was fortunate enough to secure a place at HM Prison Grendon – the UK’s only dedicated therapeutic prison. Enrolling on an intense course of psychological counselling known as psychodrama, he was able to break with the past and become the person he’d always known himself to be.  Like a modern-day Road to Damascus moment, James came to understand the root of all his woes and armed with this knowledge was able to turn his life completely around.

After his release from Grendon, he went to college, found employment and settled down. He lived in America for five years, where he became the director of a pioneering Youth Courts programme supporting the rehabilitation of young offenders.

He has since gone on to become an international public speaker, offering guidance to the UK’s and US’s prison population, as well as to the countless people who, while not as dramatically, may likewise feel trapped in their own lives.

James’s new book, Another Kind of Knowing, shares his hard-earned transformative insights, with the powerful psychological principles behind them illustrated perfectly through many first-hand examples.  The tone of the book is conversational and, at times, brutally honest. James makes it clear that the greatest obstacle to his, and anyone’s freedom, is themselves. Unconsciously, many of us make a false identity which we come to believe is real, and which holds us back from achieving our true potential.

The author describes this alter-ego aptly as a ‘robot’ – an artificial creation powered by all the negative thoughts we keep with us: the self-doubt, self-pity and selfishness that acts in the shadows of the mind.  It is only by coming to recognise this other self, and having the courage to face it in the open, that enables us to dismantle the robot and move forwards without fear.

As you read James’s life-story, you are struck by his commitment to catching out negativity in its many guises, and how it has clearly worked for him. In his early years, he effectively robbed himself of opportunities but now wise to that game, is not prepared to be the victim again.

Another Kind of Knowing, the follow-up to Carré-Rice’s bestselling Within These Streets, will appeal to those who enjoy self-help books – especially those of more spiritual writers such as Eckhart Tolle.

It is both a moving testimony and inspirational guide to finding the key to many of life’s problems, and finally unlocking the cell door.

Another Kind of Knowing is out now priced £7.99 from Amazon UK. For more information go to www.jamescarrerice.com

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B. A. Paris is Back with a Brand New Thriller

As we celebrate B. A. Paris’ third gripping thriller novel, Bring Me Back, here at LoveReading we have had a look back at B. A. Paris’ previous titles in order to celebrate this latest release.

B. A. Paris first came to our bookshelves with the release of Behind Closed Doors in 2016, a gripping debut thriller that is jam packed with twists, turns and revelations. This thriller was adored by our Consumer Reader Review Panel and our Editorial Experts. Among the positive reviews, B. A. Paris was described as ‘an author to keep a watch out for’ as she tells a compelling tale of Jack and Grace, a charming and graceful couple on the surface, with further investigation revealing lies and secrets. An amazing first novel and featured as one of LoveReading’s Debuts of the Month.

B. A. Paris returned in February 2017 with The Breakdown. Featuring on LoveReading as one our Books of the Month, this latest Crime, Mystery and Thriller is a story of trust. Cass Anderson made the choice to not help a woman in a car. However, that same woman was found dead and since then, Cass has been bombarded by silent calls and now the fear is setting in. Is someone watching her every move? To make matters worse, Cass is starting to forget everything, from where she parked her car to whether or not she has taken her medication. Described by our Consumer Reader Review Panel as ‘a very gifted author’ this thrilling author released yet another exceptional book. Our Expert Reviewer, Shelley Fallows called The Breakdown an ‘exciting read’ that offers the reader the opportunity to ‘work out what really happened that night and how much memory affects us’.

A year later and after much anticipation, B. A. Paris is back with the thrilling Bring Me Back. A three part story centring on the disappearance of Layla from a petrol station one day. During a road trip a couple, Finn and Layla stop to refuel. Finn goes inside to pay, but when he returns, Layla has disappeared, and is never seen again. Ten years later, Finn is married to Layla’s sister, but a lost object resurfaces, raising questions about what really happened. This gripping psychological thriller is packed full of tension in order to keep you hooked until you reach the conclusion. Described by our Consumer Reader Review Panel as ‘taut and tight’, ‘a great read [with] believable characters and a real twist at the end’, Bring Me Back is a book that will have you on tenterhooks.

So clear your schedule, lock the door, grab your favourite snacks and be prepared to be blown away by this astonishing new novel.

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The New Prophet by Rex Richards

By staff writer

If you’ve ever switched on the TV and despaired at the endless parade of vapid celebrities and sensationalist current affairs shows then rejoice –  The New Prophet is here for your entertainment, ready and waiting to poke a sharply satirical sword-stick into the sleazy world of mass media.  This fast-paced serial killer-thriller takes no prisoners as its rips through ‘contempt-orary’ culture  with as much gusto as its titular antagonist, a deeply-psychotic and troubled individual on a personal mission to wash clean his soul with the blood of others.

Set in present-day London, The New Prophet centres around Jack Donaldson, a cynical, womanising drug addict who also happens to be the lead news anchor on ITN’s News at Ten.  He’s burnt-out and hanging on to his job by a thread, with attractive new co-anchor, Najida Islam being positioned as his replacement.

A bad trip during a live broadcast looks certain to end his career, but then he stumbles upon the body of The New Prophet’s first victim, an attractive young woman who has been horrifically mutilated in some kind of ritualistic murder.  Rather than call the police, he instead calls his boss, Max, and tells them he’s got a major scoop that will trounce their rivals over at BBC News in the ever-waging ratings wars. Max agrees and gives Jack a stay of execution as the full efforts of the news team turns towards exploiting the girl’s brutal killing for all its worth.

Jack’s news hunch pays off and he’s once again at the top of his game but today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper and he desperately needs another killing to keep the momentum going. Thankfully for him, The New Prophet is of a like mind and sends Jack an ominous text that suggests things are only just beginning to heat up.  But as Jack is drawn further into the demented plans of his new-found cash cow, and with the police seemingly stumped as to the identity of the killer, he swiftly comes to realise that he may be playing with a fire he can’t hope to contain.

Rex Richards’ second novel, The New Prophet is certainly not for the faint-hearted or the easily offended. It comes across like the illicit offspring of Martin Amis’s Money and TV’s Drop the Dead Donkey, firing a savage salvo at what he perceives as broadcast news’s cynical obsession with tragedy and misery, and the hollow cult of celebrity.

There’s a rich, inventive vein of darker than dark comedy pulsing throughout the narrative, which keeps the reader gripped as they scramble to learn more about The New Prophet and his murderous motivations.

A side-plot about the media’s reckless whipping up of Islamophobic hysteria, pointing the finger at a Muslim man for the atrocities, is so on the nose that it stings, and the author’s own background in broadcast journalism is called upon to provide a shocking indictment of all that he sees as wrong with the current climate.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but fans of biting satire and extreme thrillers may find The New Prophet to be a revelation.

The New Prophet by Rex Richards is out now, priced £9.99 in paperback and £2.39 as a Kindle eBook. It is available for sale on Amazon UK.

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Sovereignty by Rhys Hagan

By Staff Writer

This powerful second novel from acclaimed Australian writer Rhys Hagan is an engaging and thought-provoking piece of historical fiction, set in Judea in the time of Jesus Christ.

The author, whose debut novel Hunting Taylor Brown received rave reviews on its release in 2016, has spoken publicly about his own experiences with a religious cult, and this carefully-plotted book takes a long hard look at the theme of corruption in organised religion.

It’s far from a dull trawl through religious history – Hagan, who clearly knows a good deal about some religious leaders’ ability to deceive and mislead their followers, immerses the reader in a world where these Biblical figures trade jokes and insults like modern day ‘banter’, and characters discuss Christianity from a marketing perspective: “Right. So, I think we should start considering how we’ll get in touch with the rest of the population. Make the movement exclusive—elite…as Egypt has its Egyptians, Christ should have his Christians.”  Entering into a contract with the ruthless Pilate, Amphion sets out to exploit the religious ‘naivety’ of the locals. With ruthless cunning, he cons them into believing that the messiah is among them – and that he wants them to part with their cash. Wise to the numbers of people that gather to hear the words of Jesus of Nazareth, Amphion blackmails Jesus into declaring himself the Son of God, and convinces followers to donate to the ‘church’.

Against a backdrop of political and religious unrest and violence – rape, murder and torture are among the cruelties dealt out by some of the book’s more nefarious characters – Amphion enlists the help of his brother Marcus and good friend Dismas to stage ‘miracles’ for Jesus to publicly perform, and establish a new religious group, the ‘Christians’.

In a volatile political climate, these religious rumblings are noticed by Israel and Rome’s foremost scholars, leaders, and even underground assassins.  Success comes at a huge personal price – as he counts his riches Amphion’s family are found complicit in conspiring against the Jewish religion and are consequently found guilty of inciting unrest in Judea.  With his family and friends dead or estranged, and his enemies bearing over him, Amphion finds himself looking to Christ for words of wisdom, but the ‘Son of God’ is also set to meet the ultimate punishment.

Humanity’s capacity for self-deception is a key theme of the book, and as an author and religious cult survivor, Hagan raises some pertinent issues, highlighting the need to look out for ‘red flags’ in religious leaders looking to exploit vulnerable members of society for their own ends.  While there’s no doubt that the central theme is a controversial one, this is not a book that sets out to be offensive or to poke fun at Christianity. Rather, it’s a thoughtful and thought-provoking work of historical fiction that raises some important talking points.

 

Sovereignty by Rhys Hagan is out now in print and as an eBook priced £11.97 and £4.79. It is available from Amazon UK. Visit www.rhyshagan.com/

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Mark International Women’s Day with LoveReading!

International Women’s Day has become increasingly prominent over the course of the past few years, and 2018 could see the event reach its largest so far. The Day has been observed for more than 100 years and is recognised around the world as a time to celebrate the achievements of women, from political to social and everything in between. IWD is a great catalyst for a louder call for equality and unites global governments, women’s organisations, businesses and charities together under one banner.

This year the theme is #PressforProgress and is a call to motivate and unite friends and colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive. Here at LoveReading we are taking the opportunity to celebrate IWD with the promotion of some amazing female authors.

This year, LoveReading is celebrating the centenary of one of the greatest female writers in history, Muriel Spark. Dame Muriel was a poet, writer of fiction, criticism and literary biography at the top of her profession for more than half a century. Muriel’s works have never gone out of print and include the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Driver’s Seat and Memento Mori.

The History of Women Re-written

I Know a Woman, by Kate Hodges and Lucy Mangan unveils the amazing and extraordinary achievements and stories of 84 pioneering women the perfect book to show the relentless strength of womankind! This tome of women’s history and endeavour includes women from ground-breaking  Marie Curie, to the game changing Billie Jean King.

A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Bronte, Eliot and Woolf, has been created by Emily Midorikawa, Emma Claire Sweeney and Margaret Attwood. The group have worked to resurrect four literary collaborations have been kept in the shadows, until now! Previously unpublished material unveils creative connections for these four giants in female-authored literature. The story of brilliant heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt who married the Charles Spencer-Churchill, the 9th Duke of Marlborough is told in Julie Ferry’s Million Dollar Duchesses. One of a number of matches between America’s heiresses and the elite of British society. Filled with scandal, illicit affairs, spurned loves and unexpected deaths, this is a great book.

Tessa Boase’s Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather: Fashion, Fury and Feminism- Women’s Fight for Change is a shocking and entertaining book about the women’s movement that captured the public’s imagination. This book covers the events of this period with Emmeline Pankhurst; but also focuses on Etta Lemonwo, with a handful of other women who together created the conservation charity the RSPB.

Penguin are also helping to host a wide range of events between the 5th and the 9th March.  Their pop-up bookshop can be found at 1-3 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3DT. Their #LikeAWoman women’s empowerment blog has information about the events on offer. You can also see a wide range of books that feature in their women-author only pop-up bookshop, interviews and features from some amazing writers.

Educating the Future Generation

It is important that everyone celebrates the achievements of women and men while working for equality. This is most important when it comes to educating the future generation. Have any children you would like to learn more about suffrage for International Women’s day? Head over to our LoveReading4Kids blog post. You can also check out a range of books about Women’s Suffrage and the Vote 100 centenary.

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THE FOGGIEST NOTION BY MARC BREMAN

By Staff Writer

The humble crossword, a staple of newspapers the world over, can quickly become something of an obsession, as many keen readers will no doubt attest. But what if the solving – or not– of a particular clue was something that could not only bruise your ego but actually cost you your life?  That is the intriguing premise of The Foggiest Notion, a surreal stand-alone adventure that, as far as this reviewer is aware, enjoys the distinction of being the first novel in history about crosswords.

The story centres on a remarkable day in the life of Colin Holly, an emotionally-repressed former maths teacher and recovering alcoholic whose one remaining interest is the daily cryptic crossword puzzle of the Daily Voice newspaper.  Things get off to an unusual start for Colin when a train nearly destroys his London home – a train travelling sideways on freshly-laid tracks set flat against the fronts of the houses down his street.

Colin quickly learns that crossword clues can manifest in the real world creating all manner of strange thing, such as a sideways train, and, unless promptly solved, run the risk of causing untold chaos and destruction. These clues come in pairs and the manifestations only disappear when both clues are cracked. It is up to Colin, an unlikely hero at one point described as a “knight in shining knitwear”, to vanquish the errant clues and solve the grid before time runs out and the cruciverbal creations become permanent fixtures.

Helping him is a small rag-tag bunch consisting of teenage girl Kia and her two unusual uncles: Uncle Sid, who has an odd habit of speaking only in anagrams, and Uncle Jasper, who reels off thesaurus lists. They are part of a team of specialised wordsmiths dedicated to solving crosswords and preserving the reality status quo. They have been drawn to Colin, who, it is revealed, is a ‘Solver’ – a chosen one sent to assist in the fight against the particularly fiendish grids. Unfortunately, the crossword creatures are also being drawn to Colin, driven on by an innate survival instinct and willing to go to any lengths to destroy the Solver before he destroys them.

Hopping off to solve the various clues, the group visit some very strange places, such as an antiquated sailing ship with a measuring device and the Chameleon Realm, a bizarre land where everything tries to look like its surroundings. They also have run-ins with a list of colourful characters including a roving reporter, a band of murderous corporate blackmailers and a robot steel band, not to mention the titular Foggiest Notion itself – a wispy malevolence hell-bent on thwarting Colin and allowing all future crossword constructs to roam the world unchallenged.

If that wasn’t enough, Colin and the team need to work out why more than 90 MPs have mysteriously vanished, and how a 20-ft three-year-old child connects with the peculiar goings-on. There’s a certain ‘Arthur Dent’ vibe to Colin, and comparisons with the equally imaginative Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy wouldn’t, on the surface, be out of place.

But The Foggiest Notion’s closest relation would probably be Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where author Lewis Carroll, a noted mathematician, revelled in playing with logic and mathematical concepts in his nonsensical tale.

The same applies to this novel and its author, who is a seasoned professional crossword compiler writing for a number of national newspapers and magazines including the Daily Mirror, Sunday Telegraph and BBC Focus. Breman has a genuine passion for cryptic crosswords, the crazy images that clues conjure up and the real sense of achievement in solving them.

It goes without saying that The Foggiest Notion will appeal to all fans of wordplay, especially those who love their crosswords, but it also has much to offer fans of quirky fantasy adventures. And for those who wish they were better at cryptic crosswords, the book also serves as an entertaining and insightful guide to the different types of puzzle commonly encountered. Colin and the team explain their solutions step-by-step so readers can follow along and, hopefully, improve their own skills in the process. As an added encouragement, at the end of each chapter is a 15 x 15 grid that slowly fills with all the clues solved so far.

A most singular and enjoyable novel, The Foggiest Notion is best approached like a cryptic crossword clue: don’t ask why things are, it’s just because the grid says so.

The Foggiest Notion (Lager Than Life Books), book one of The Cryptic Chronicles, is out now, priced £8.99 in paperback and £4.99 as an eBook. It is available for sale on Amazon UK

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Cathy Kelly’s The Year That Changed Everything Released Today!

Cathy Kelly's The Year That Changed Everything

Cathy Kelly is back with the release of The Year That Changed Everything. The popular author of The Honey Queen, Once in a Lifetime and Between Sisters.  Published By Orion and out on the shelves today, the book is a comforting hug, and ideal to curl up and immerse yourself in. Cathy Kelly has received great reviews from Good Housekeeping, The Lady and, of course, our Expert Reviewers and Reader Review Panel. The No.1 bestselling author has released yet another great new book. You can check out the other fabulous books written by Cathy here.

This latest novel follows three characters as they reach milestone birthdays. Ginger, Sam and Callie are celebrating their 30th, 40th and 50th with life changing consequences. Ginger’s birthday has the potential to be the first day of the rest of her life, or a complete disaster. Sam has spent ears trying to have a baby, and on her 40th birthday her waters break. With this also comes the realisation that she has no idea how to be a mother. Callie is throwing a party to celebrate her 50th, but an uninvited guest turns everything on its head.

Audiences able to sit back and enjoy the wisdom and humour that flows through the pages. The variety of main characters used offers something that everyone could relate to. Also with Mother’s Day just around the corner, Cathy Kelly’s latest release would be a great gift. Click here to read the extract, and to see the Expert and Consumer Reviews for yourself.

Our Expert Reviewer Liz Robinson is one of the many fans of Cathy Kelly. Liz has said that The Year That Changed Everything is  “uplifting” and “delightful”. Also, Liz described the characters as “just so likeable and relatable, I would be more than happy to be their friend…to hug, to console to cheer them on”. This lighthearted read is full of wisdom and shows that your life can change completely at any point. Click here to Read Liz’s full review and see what our Consumer Review Panel had to say.

Cathy Kelly is a bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Based in Ireland, witty storytelling comes easily to Cathy, with tales about modern life delivered  with a captivating, uplifting voice. To find out more and keep up to date with Cathy Kelly, check out her Facebook.

So, if you’re wanting to check out a charming new book that offers a story about  finding happiness with an emphasis on strong female characters from a number one bestselling author, then head to LoveReading and use our selection of online retailers to get your hands on a copy of The Year That Changed Everything today!

 

 

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LoveReading Reader Review Panel Insight

LoveReading’s Reader Review Panel helps us to deliver a more accurate service to our users, allowing people to have their say on a book before it is released, and help those that visit LoveReading choose what book they want to read next. We love sharing a wide range of fabulous books with our readers and with around 1,000 people signed up to our panel, and only ever a limited number of review copies available to share with you all, it is vital that we work to distribute opportunities as fairly as possible. Keep reading to find out more about our Reader Review Panel, and the answers to some FAQs.

How are invites sent out?

We aim to send out at least one email a month which will invite our panel members to put themselves forward to review a selection of titles. However, depending on demand, and the number of titles that we have available, this could vary.

Once we have received your responses, and have allocated names to the different books we have on offer we will send you a follow up email, telling you whether or not you have been successful. If you missed out this time, don’t lose heart and keep your eyes peeled for other opportunities in the future.

We focus on making sure that everyone gets to read what they ask for, and expressed preferences when responding to our invite are great. It is also brilliant to have reviewers that are happy to read anything, so if more than one book tickles you fancy, let us know! A prompt response to the invite also allows us to act quicker, allocate the copies we have available and get them sent out to you.

Often, LoveReading promotes books in the weeks and months leading up to their publication. A great way of advertising a book is to show those searching for a new book what other readers have thought about it. There are always reader reviewed titles in the LoveReading Top 10 and this is because the response you have really does make a difference. It is also great to get reviews submitted as early as possible so that we can pass them back to the publisher for their own advertisement. It is great to see one of LoveReading Review panel members used on the cover of a book, or in the publisher’s marketing campaign (All uses of you reviews well be credited accordingly).

How can I guarantee that I get to review the book I choose?

As mentioned earlier, we have around 1,000 people signed up to review pre-publication titles for the LoveReading site. Unfortunately because of this, we can’t ‘guarantee’ that you will be able to receive every book that you request. We try our hardest to be fair when it comes to selection reviewers from our panel and try to give books to those who have been waiting the longest, or randomly selected if this isn’t the case. We also have a small number of trusted ambassadors, who are known for being prompt and consistent in review quality.

There a number of areas that can be worked on in order to increase your chances of selection. These include

  • Responding to our initial invite promptly.
  • Make sure that the details we have on our system for you are up to date. This will avoid any delays or problems in receiving you invite or books.
  • Let us know if, for whatever reason you are unable to submit a review. We will them make sure that it isn’t marked as outstanding on our system and affect any future invites.
  • Submitting detailed and good quality reviews through our submission form. More on this later.
  • Submitting your reviews as early as you can.

What should my review look like?

On our blog there is the LoveReading Reader Review Entry page:

http://blog.lovereading.co.uk/make-the-most-of-lovereadings-unique-features/helping-you-choose-your-next-book/reader-review-entry/#.WnsOw6hl_cc

This submission form is a handy way of gathering all of your reviews, so we can get them uploaded quickly. The form is quick and easy to use. Just fill in the boxes, type up your reviews and press send. We also like to return the favour, so if you have a blog or public social media page, pop it into the box at the bottom and we will attach a link to your review.

On the site there are two spaces for you review. This is because we ask for a full review which is longer and more detailed. This review is shown on the site in PDF form and passed back to the publishers. We ask that this review is around 200 words, with a maximum of 1,500 characters.

The Short Review is also required as a succinct summary of your overall opinion of the book. This, also credited to you, will feature on the main book page on the LoveReading site. The short reviews act as a quick snippet for those looking at our site. For this short review we ask that you submit no more than 200 characters, which is around 30 words.

We upload these reviews manually and may tweak them slightly. This is to make sure that the best quality reviews a featured on the site and to make sure that there are no spoilers. We do try not to edit them, to allow your true voice to shine through.

Do you have any tips for writing a review?

We love to hear you express your opinions on the books we feature. If you are wanting a couple of tips to make your review shine then look for:

  • Passion- whether you feel positively or negatively towards the book, let us know how this book made you feel. Explain your why you felt this way to offer more detail.
  • If perhaps you didn’t quite enjoy this book as much as you thought, we would still like your honest feedback. Why not let us know who you think would enjoy the book?
  • Don’t worry, we don’t want an essay! Try to give your review as though you were chatting to a friend.
  • Try not to give away the story. We will make sure that any spoilers are removed so that other readers can discover the story for themselves.

There are a few more tips here that one of our Expert reviewers came across and could also be useful.

It is also great if panel members could feature their reviews or snippets in their blog, vlog or through social media. We really hope all our panel members will get involved in these social media activities and credit/link to LoveReading/Lovereading4kids so word of mouth can be spread on the titles you’ve read and loved.  Do follow/like us too – we have absolutely thriving Facebook/Twitter communities so if you’ve not joined us there yet, please do. Also please share your reviews on sites like Amazon and GoodReads (it’s great for both the book and author). Please just remember to credit LoveReading/Lovereading4kids for your review copy.

We hope that this will offer you more of an insight in to the reader review process. We are very grateful for the members of our review panel across LoveReading and LoveReading4Kids. You provide a valuable contribution to the website. A great book becomes part of our life, part of who we are and your reviews help people to choose those books.

Best Wishes.

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The Seven Deadly Sins of Innovation & The Seven Heavenly Habits of Innovation by Mat Shore

When the financial crisis struck in 2007, the tech sector was told to innovate or die. An intellectual stampede ensued as enterprising CEOs appointed over-zealous experts to create something – literally anything – revolutionary. What followed, predictably, was a glut of painfully pointless products, most of which were executed – very publicly in some cases – soon after launch.

Now brands are again being warned that innovation is vital if they are to remain relevant to consumers; UK companies, in particular, “must act” if they are to succeed in a post-Brexit world.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Innovation & The Seven Heavenly Habits of Innovation, a new two-book compendium by Mat Shore, sets out to analyse the phenomenon and, in so doing, to help decision makers make considered choices about the products and services they bring to market.

Shore, an innovation specialist and consultant for a string of blue-chip clients, is not afraid to name and shame. His books are packed with examples of innovation gone right (“heavenly”) and those gone very, very wrong (the “sinful”). The sinful Nokia Hair Coach, for instance, was in Shore’s view created on the assumption that a consumer need can be created. The remarkable success of Lego Friends, the children’s TV series and merchandise range, on the other hand, was devised to fulfil a clear need in the market. (Developers realised that girls tended to play with Lego in a different way to boys that repackaging standard Lego in a more ‘feminine’ way would not work. Instead, they introduced a new range of character-driven products that became an instant hit).

So what, if anything, can be done? For a start, don’t treat customers like dummies, Shore recommends. Most failures can be avoided, he says, by asking consumers what they need and want before presenting them with a solution, however ingenious (expensive, and over-engineered) that solution might be. Insight-driven innovation, on the other hand, focuses on meeting real-world needs, rather than pulling them “out of thin air”, as Shore puts it.

Shore’s work is excellent, certainly, and has the potential of helping most CEOs avoid the perils of their predecessors. But can a book alone really knock any sense into the super-arrogant decision makers? Perhaps a better, more innovative solution would be to hit them with it. They say the bigger a man’s head the worse his headache, after all.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Innovation is priced £11.95 in hardback; The Seven Heavenly Habits of Innovation is priced £11.95 in hardback; The compendium edition is priced £15.99 in hardback. Visit www.matshore.com

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Author Talk: Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

We recently caught up with Ayobami Adebayo to ask her a few questions about her debut novel Stay With Me published by Canongate Books.

 

The majority of your debut novel ‘Stay With Me’ is set in 1980’s, what is it about that time period in Nigeria that you felt your characters should dwell in?

 

In 1983, a coup put Nigeria under military rule and for the next sixteen years, the country moved from one dictatorship to another. One of the things I find fascinating about that period is that no one imagined that it would take so long for Nigeria to return to democracy. The military ruler in power from 1985 kept unveiling electoral plans that he would then modify and postpone for some reason or the other. He had people hoping and sometimes believing that military rule would soon be over but those hopes were ultimately dashed, over and over again.

 

I found some parallels between this state of limbo that the Nigerian polity was in and Yejide and Akin’s marriage. For a long time, Yejide keeps hoping and believing that she will get pregnant while Akin thinks that having children will somehow fix the things that are fundamentally wrong with their marriage. When they both get what they want, it’s not quite as they had imagined it would be.  It was interesting to put these characters in a time period when the events unfolding in the country mirror the course of own marriage in some ways.

 

This wasn’t the first time Nigeria would be under military rule, but from the mid-eighties, we entered a period uniquely characterised by attempts to use language and propaganda to legitimise what was an illegitimate and dangerous government. So, with Akin and Yejide, I was also very interested in the ways they would use language to describe their realities and feed their respective insecurities and illusions.

 

 

How long had the story been inside you, did you have it mapped out or did the story occasionally surprise you and tell itself?

 

I began thinking about Yejide and Akin in 2008 but I didn’t start working on the novel until 2010 and it took some five years to shape it into that even resembles the final draft. I spent the first couple of years trying to map things out and control the narrative but that approach only resulted in failed drafts. In retrospect, it’s funny because I’d written several short stories before I started working on the novel and I’d never mapped out any of them. I was so intimidated by the novel form that I believed everything would fall apart if I didn’t make a plan and stick to it.

 

It wasn’t until I read what I had already written, tried to figure out how the characters wanted to tell their stories, and finally allowed them to lead the way and surprise me at almost every turn that Stay With Me began to evolve into the novel it is now.

 

We understand ‘Stay With Me’ grew from a short story you had written, what was it about the story that suggested it wanted to grow?

 

The characters just wouldn’t go away. I was an undergraduate in the university when I wrote that story and even after I’d completed it, I’d be walking down the hall in my hostel and think – Yejide was living here when she met Akin. The next day, I might look up a statue erected in honour of students who had died in a protest in the eighties and realise that Akin and Yejide also marched in that protest. It felt as though they were both real people who kept following me around and telling me random things about their lives, so I started taking notes.

 

 

Akin and Yejide feel so very real, they are touchable relatable people, how did you form their characters and encourage them to reveal their flaws?

 

They were always quite real to me. Many times, I felt as if I was bearing witness to events that had actually occurred. I had to write myself into their flaws, particularly with Akin, because he’s so reticent, it took several drafts to get him to actually open up.

 

As I worked on the novel, it was important to make sure that I saw the world primarily from Yejide and Akin’s perspective so that the plot could unfold in a way that is consistent with their personalities and experiences. Every time I went back to edit, I would delete or rewrite sections I could recognise as narrated in my own voice and bits that did nothing but expound my own opinion about an issue. The truth is that because of their own peculiar circumstances, they weren’t always interested in the things that I cared about. I had to learn to make peace with that in order for them to really come to life on the page.

 

 

What three words best sum up Nigeria for you and, and when you aren’t there, what do you miss most?

 

Indescribable, beautiful and perplexing.

 

I always miss hearing people speak Yoruba around me. There’s something about how its tonality lends  rhythm to the language and the way metaphor is such an integral part of everyday speech that just feeds my mind.  When I’m away, though I hardly watch movies, sometimes I play Yoruba movies on You Tube just to hear conversations play out in Yoruba.

 

Who is your favourite fictional character? What is it about them that speaks to you?

 

This keeps changing but I continue to find Sethe from Toni Morrison’s Beloved very intriguing. She is such a strong, flawed and complex character. I love the fact that she isn’t put forward as some ‘ideal’ mother figure, she is just herself in a very real and human way. I find it so remarkable that she is a person who is broken yet undeniably strong.

 

Who has inspired you the most with your writing and why is that?

 

My mother. She just believes I can be exceptional at pretty much anything I want to do including writing. I don’t usually feel that way so it’s great to have someone who is so sure about my potential.

 

If you could choose anywhere in the world to sit down and write, where would it be and what would you like to write?

 

I’d pick a house somewhere in Jos, Nigeria. I would want to write another novel. Though I’ve carried some of the characters around with me for a while now, I don’t know what the novel would be about. Maybe they’ll reveal that while I’m writing it.

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