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Mid-May eNewsletter

Welcome to our mid-May update full of the latest, best and most exciting books all selected by our team of incredibly experienced book experts. And don’t miss Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel, the winner of the prestigious Wolfson History Prize… a perfect gift for Father’s Day perhaps?.


Pre-Publication Exclusives

Your monthly peek between the sheets of books yet to hit the shelves! Books like: Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett – A musical journey through a life lived to the full and a compelling tale about making peace with our mistakes.

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E-asy Reading! – eBooks of the Month

For those still seeking the next great e-read, stay in touch right here with the latest digital delights with our definitive list of the best in eBooks.

Scared to Death by Kate Medina – With a whipping, corkscrewing plot and fast-paced action, ‘Scared to Death’ just roars along, ensuring a worthwhile and entirely captivating read.

You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood – A captivating courtroom drama, and a poignant personal story that explores social disadvantage and London gang culture from a unique perspective.

A True Story of Murder, Loss and Survival

Letting Go by Alex Hanscombe is a truly touching, considered, and frank life story of the young son of Rachel Nickell who, aged nearly 3, witnessed the brutal attack on his mother.

Liz Robinson, one of our Lovereading expert reviewers wrote. ‘I felt pain, yet I also felt admiration, and wonderment as difficult choices were made while Alex and his father were in a world of pain and confusion. ‘Letting Go’ is at times a heart-breaking read, of course it is, yet it also compellingly celebrates life, love and family.’

Maybe you Missed… Mid-May Highlights

This is where we highlight excellent titles that may have passed you by this month. Titles like:

A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson – An Agatha Christie-style mystery with Christie herself at the centre of it. Great fun; full of red herrings, clues and twists. Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found by Bella Bathurst – Engaging and intelligently fascinating study of the nature of listening and the science of hearing. The Cardinal’s Court by Cora Harrison – Captivating, transportive historical mystery and a murderous journey in the murky corridors of the past.
The Fireman by Joe Hill – Nightmarish, super-powered, mankind survival tale jam-packed with pulsing emotion, breathless adventure and quirky characters. An Unlikely Agent by Jane Menczer – An enthralling Edwardian espionage thriller featuring an endearing, independent female lead and lashings of intrigue.

Exuberant, Sensual, Imaginative

New York born, but resident in Rome, Jonathan Levi writes with a nimble style and lithe perception that demands your full attention.

Septimania is a ‘brilliantly bonkers’ (our expert reviewer) magical-reality tale of one man’s search for love and A Guide for the Perplexed is a dazzling Pandora’s Box of literary delights: a flabbergasting feat of imagination. We don’t want to give too much away; you should really find out for yourself! Suffice to say Levi is one of our major author highlights in the month. Click here.


Recommended by Readers – Our Reader Review Highlights

The books loved by other book lovers just like you. This month, don’t miss:

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson – ‘A jewel of a read’; ‘Raw, high-energy and distressing’; ‘ … gripping thriller’; ‘ … brings something unique to the world of crime writing’ (Reader Reviews). Crimson Lake by Candice Fox – A sharp, clever crime thriller set in Australia that is menacing, absorbing and edgily entertaining. No wonder the author is being celebrated as a new star of crime fiction. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – ‘A distinctive, funny and moving voice’; ‘Heart-warming and captivating’; ‘brilliantly written, bittersweet, thought-provoking.’ (Reader Reviews).

Making History – Debut Novel from Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Already an established Historical Biographer, Lucy Hughes-Hallett has now penned her first novel. The first of many we hope. Spanning centuries and multiple relationships, Peculiar Ground is a superbly written literary tome with a family drama at its centre. It’s a book of layers and levels and unexpected places. ‘A beautifully written, captivating and quirkily clever tale … I loved, loved, LOVED this book… a magical and appealing novel.’ (Reader Reviews).

Wolfson Winner! – Wolfson History Prize 2017

May is turning out to be the month to be a fan of History! The Wolfson History Prize was founded in 1972 and has become synonymous with the best History writing. The winner was Christopher de Hamel for his book Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts. The judges said “Imaginatively conceived, beautifully written and illustrated… de Hamel offers serious new insights in every chapter.” Find out more

While we’re celebrating a passion for history, this is the perfect time to whet your appetite about the upcoming Chalke Valley History Festival (26 June – 2 July).

There are incredible events, speakers and activities, as well as camping, glamping, re-enactments and an airshow. Not to mention the fabulous food! Interested? Look out for our special blog and join the show! Plus you can enter our competition to win a family ticket.

In Short! – Short Stories Category

We’re big fans of the short form here at Lovereading. A well-crafted short story is a wonderful thing; a mini escape, perfect for the bus or train and something to talk about with friends. New this month is Alexander McCall Smith’s Chance Developments, a poignant collection of tales inspired by a series of old photographs.

Liked that? You’ll LOVE this!

Our If You Like You’ll Love category suggests books we think you’ll love, based on the ones you’ve already enjoyed! Say goodbye to the ‘end of book blues’.

Like Anne Tyler?… You’ll Love Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. Like Victoria Hislop?… You’ll Love Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson. Like Erica James?… You’ll Love The Forever House by Veronica Henry. Like Liane Moriarty?… You’ll Love What Alice Knew by T A Cotterell.

Daddy Cool! – Father’s Day 2017

Every Dad has his day. This year, it’s Sunday 18 June! A book is a thoughtful, lasting way to say ‘I love you’. It certainly beats another pair of socks or novelty tie. Click here to see our collection of great reads, bursting with brilliant ideas to get in Dad’s good books!

Pure Magic!

Every now and then a crossover novel comes along that is written for young adults but is too good not to be read by older ones too! The magical, head-spinning first book of the new Spellslinger series by Sebastien de Castell is just such a book! Perfect for fans of Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s a fantasy novel that’ll keep you guessing on every page, filled with wit, adventure and fantastic characters. There’s more than a dollop of magic too.

Rich and compelling and bursting with tricks, it’ll have you on the edge of your seat. Find out more.

Crime Watch – Maxim’s Recommendations

Once again, crime writing sleuth Maxim Jakubowski has been lifting the lid this month on the best books for crime and thriller fans. It’s an eclectic gathering which includes everything from literary studies of the evils of the Nazi regime to supernatural dangers and twisted school children! 

His top two tips for success this month are:

Book of the Month Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson  – A stunning, eerie and scarily real serial murder tale, translated by Maxim himself.

Highly Recommended Mischling by Affinity Konar – An incredible, harrowing, beautiful and unforgettable novel about the horrors and huge heart of humanity.

Friends Forever, Enemies Never

If you have teenage children, it can be hard watching them go through all the trials and tribulations that life can hurl at them. Nicola Morgan’s The Teenage Guide to Friends is essential reading for teens and parents alike, tackling the all-important subjects of making and keeping friendships, as well as what to do when they break down (as they do). It’s a truly illuminating read that you will want to dip into over and over again. Get it here.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter our free prize draws especially the chance to win DVD box sets of Prime Suspect 1973

P.P.S. If you are a fan of fiction that will make you laugh look no further than the shortlist for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. Our top pick is the outrageously funny, fast-paced and uniquely addictive Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen.

And that is just about all from us this month. We hope you get to use the extra light of the evenings for some window-side reading and we’ll be back next month to help fill the gaps in your bookshelf!


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May eNewletter

May’s recommendations are fluffier and brighter than a basket of blossom and we’re blooming with joy to bring you the fruits of our labour this month! Whatever your taste, your next great escape is just a few clicks away. Read on for more.

May Queens! – Books of the Month

A right royal basketful of the best books about awaits you this month. Books like:

Don’t Let Go by Michel Bussi – A captivating, fiendishly puzzling crime drama with an exotic, fascinating backdrop and a heart-stopping finale. A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride – Gruesome, unpredictable and excitingly dark serial murder drama and an investigating team with a twist! The Ice by Laline Paull – From the award-winning author of The Bees, a beautifully written, complex, thought-provoking and intense Arctic drama. The Owl Always Hunts at Night by Samuel Bjork – Nail-biting suspense combined with masterful writing… the very best of Nordic Noir.

The Best Reads. Fact. – Non-Fiction Books of the Month

It’s not just fiction that floats our boat! Here, for fact fans, are the best non-fiction finds this month: We particularly love:

The Girl from Aleppo: Nujeen’s Escape from War to Freedom by Nujeen Mustafa –  The inspiring and illuminating first-hand account of a daring escape from a war-torn home, in a wheelchair.

East West Street by Philippe Sands – Multiple strands form one compelling and award-winning history, exposing the origins of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Calling all enfoodiasts! This month don’t miss: The Plagiarist in the Kitchen by Jonathan Meades – An ‘anti-cookbook’. No recipe is truly original and to prove it, here are 125 of the best stolen ones for you to try!


Darling Buds! – Debuts of the Month

Somerset Maugham said: There are three rules to writing novels. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are”. Here are our top tips for the best first-time authors who have tried to work them out! Don’t miss:

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach – Clever, twist-filled family tale in which mistrust leads to a suspenseful journey of searing tension. Perfect for fans of S K Tremayne. What Alice Knew by T A Cotterell – Devastating relationship tale: ‘A rollercoaster of emotion … A definite page-turner which will keep you hooked (Reader Review). Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – ‘… an exceptional book … Heart-wrenching … yet light-hearted and funny…’ (Reader Reviews). Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson – ‘A jewel of a read’; ‘Raw, high-energy and distressing’; ‘… a gripping thriller that brings something new’ (Reader Reviews).

Crime and Cake – The Grantchester Mysteries by James Runcie

Charming, atmospheric, and compellingly crafted, The Grantchester Mysteries is the epitome of ‘cosy crime’, with a quintessential English detective for a hero. No wonder the sleuthing Archdeacon, Sidney Chambers is already on his sixth case, Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love and the TV adaptation is such an enormous hit! This month you can win one of 5 sets of all six books! Click here to try your luck.

Pre-Publication Exclusives

Read exclusive extracts of highly recommended books before they hit the shelves! Books like:

Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson – Perfect Summer Read. A beautiful, heart-breaking and all too human story of love and sacrifice in the face of evil.

Plus, if you are quick, there is a special offer currently on the eBook format ahead of the physical edition.   


Prestigious awards galore this month…

First Prize! – Desmond Elliott 2017 ShortlistSupported by Lovereading and just about the best prize around for first-time novelists, the Desmond Elliott shortlist has just been announced. Is your favourite among them? And who’s your tip for the top honours?

Chair of Trustees for the Desmond Elliott Prize, Dallas Manderson said: “The judges have done a commendable job of selecting three titles from a strong, varied and ambitious longlist and we are delighted to present such an exemplary shortlist in our 10th anniversary year.” 

Browse the hopefuls, read what our expert reviewers have to say and pick your winner. The winner is announced on 21 June 2017.


Great Scott! – Walter Scott Prize 2017 ShortlistMuch the best thing that has happened for lovers of Historical Fiction’ (Hilary Mantel).

Why not peruse the shortlist for the hotly contested Walter Scott Prize and get the chance for you to win tickets to the Borders Book Festival on 17 June to see the winner announced in person! Click here for more.


Pages of History – Wolfson History Prize 2017 Shortlist – A quick reminder for History fans that you can now see the shortlisted titles vying for the top spot in the Wolfson History Prize.

We’ve added our own Lovereading Expert Reviews and free downloadable extracts so you can judge for yourself! Click here for more.

Find your next favourite reads

If you like Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train you’ll love The Second Sister by Claire Kendal. If you like The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett you’ll love The Other Us by Fiona Harper. If you like Harriet Evans you’ll love The Last Days of Summer by Sophie Pembroke.

‘Chalke’ it up to History! – Chalke Valley History Festival 2017

While we’re celebrating a passion for history, this is the perfect time to whet your appetite about the upcoming Chalke Valley History Festival (26 June – 2 July).

There are incredible events, speakers and activities, as well as camping, glamping, re-enactments and an airshow. Not to mention the fabulous food! Interested? Look out for our special blog and join the show! Plus you can enter our competition to win a family ticket.

Gripping and Frighteningly Realistic – The Books of Paul E Hardisty

Radiating the resonance of the author’s own life experience, the adventures of Claymore Straker, a modern justice seeker in the hot zones of the Middle East, are searingly real, incredibly topical and brilliantly written.

The first in the series was nominated for a CWA Dagger and Hardisty’s work has been strongly endorsed by his peers. The latest complex tale, Reconciliation for the Dead, is out now and is a dangerous and compelling return of a gripping hero. For fans of James Lee Burke, Lee Child and Terry Hayes, author of I am Pilgrim. Click here for more.

Don’t miss our Free Prize Draws this month

Lots of booky prizes are up for grabs this month but in the office we are enviously eyeing the box set of series 7 of the wonderfully acerbic Vera, based on the Vera Stanhope series of books penned by Ann Cleeves. Enter this and more today to claim your chance.

Scroll down to see more hand-picked selections in the categories you have told us you like to be kept up to date with. To change them just log in to your account.

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Blog Book Review: Be With Me, It’s C  by Avril Chester

Inspiring, touching and innovative, this collection of poetry by breast cancer survivor Avril Chester sees the author express her hopes and fears through the written word, and encourages others to do the same.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, aged 37, Avril found herself faced with many new things to process: perplexing medical terms, yo-yoing emotions and physical changes.


It’s no surprise then, as she herself admits, that she struggled to open up to others about her emotions and experiences during diagnosis and treatment. Unexpectedly, however, she found solace in writing, working  through the floods of thoughts and feelings in the form of short poems instead.


Avril says she noted down some of the poems during anxious daytime moments, others during long sleepless  nights, and found the act of writing to be a hugely calming activity, helping her to focus her mind, communicate with her friends and family when she didn’t feel like talking, and to keep a record of how far she’d come.


Here she has gathered them together in a short volume that tugs at the heartstrings even as it reminds readers of their own inner strength in fighting the ‘Big C’.


A key element to Be With Me, It’s C is that it is designed to help others ‘write out’ their own thoughts, fears, feelings and hopes, whether in the form of poetry, prose or just simple scribblings. To this end, each left-hand page is blank, and the paper has been tested to ensure it won’t blot or smudge when closed.


This is a short collection, running to just 44 pages, but it covers a lot of territory, with the poems dealing with every aspect of coping with the disease, which as the author notes has a mental as well as physical impact.


From the initial panic of finding a suspicious lump  to struggling to feel feminine and attractive when losing one’s hair, all these experiences are used as grist  for the literary mill.


The author’s bravery in dealing with her predicament is evident in each word and on every page. While some of the works are entirely original poems, others are pointed pastiches of famous pieces of poetry and music.


For example, The Night Before Christmas has been reworked to reflect the dichotomy between festive cheer and a looming mastectomy, which actually happened for the author in December of 2015, while Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise is cleverly adapted and inspires with the fighting words ‘I will not be broken, I will live to soldier on’.


Other iconic wordsmiths who receive this treatment, to excellent effect, include William Wordsworth and Shakespeare.


It’s inspirational stuff, and the poems are clearly deeply biographical and heartfelt, reflecting the deepest thoughts and emotions of a woman who has been through extremely challenging times but has emerged triumphant.


Be With Me, It’s C would be a thoughtful gift for anybody facing a similar situation, or for those around them, who will of course have their own anxieties and questions about what their loved ones are going through.


Buying the book will also help benefit research into the disease, with at least 10 per cent of the money made from the sale of each book going  to Breast Cancer Care.


The most important thing about this collection, however, is how it demonstrates clearly the cathartic power of the written word, and provides encouragement for others to do as Avril did, whether it is for public consumption or kept strictly private.

Be With Me, It’s C by Avril Chester (Gibson Publishing) is out now, RRP £6.99 in paperback. 

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The Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival


The full line-up for The Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival has been announced and tickets have gone on sale for the fourteenth book festival, which runs from 15th to 18th June 2017. Harmony Garden in Melrose in the Scottish Borders will play host as the stunning backdrop for this rich and lively festival, welcoming some of the biggest names from the world of books, entertainment and politics.

The programme of over 100 events includes best-selling novelists Joanna Trollope and Arabella Weir, journalist Misha Glenny; broadcaster James Naughtie; satirist and Private Eye co-founder Richard Ingrams; gardening expert Carol Klein; star of Dinner Ladies and Last Tango in Halifax Anne Reid, and No. 1 crime writers Val McDermid, and Ann Cleeves, best known for the TV hit series Vera and Shetland. Also from the world of crime, Chris Brookmyre and Mark Billingham are back by popular demand with their double act, as well as foodie raconteur Jay Rayner with his Ten (Food) Commandments; wildlife TV-presenter Steve Backshall; Top Gear and Grand Tour TV script editor Richard Porter and political satirist and impressionist, Rory Bremner.

With the festival now supported by new headline sponsor, global investment managers Baillie Gifford, the programme will incorporate a new Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Non-Fiction series featuring high profile events on a variety of topical subjects by experts in their field including: political journalist Tim Shipman; current affairs commentator and writer James Fergusson and politician and diplomat, Rory Stewart.

Former BBC correspondent Allan Little, who has reported for over 30 years from more than 80 countries, will be delivering the inaugural Brewin Dolphin Lecture on the rapidly changing political world we are currently facing and where it will likely lead to.

Philip Ardagh, Guy Bass, Vivian French, Petr Horacek and Derek Landy, bestselling author of the Skulduggery Pleasant series, are just some of the names from the world of children’s books, who will entertain and energise the younger crowd for the hugely popular SBHA Family Book Festival, which includes kids craft activities and creative workshops throughout the Saturday and Sunday.

This year adults get to go free to any SBHA Family Book Festival event so long as they are accompanied by at least one child!

In addition, throughout the four days, there will be live music, a street market, tented food village, champagne and whisky tastings and kids’ storytelling and circus skills, making the book festival a great day out for all the family to enjoy.

The winner of this year’s prestigious £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction will be announced on Saturday 17th June, from a shortlist including books by Sebastian Barry, Rose Tremain and Graham Swift.

Almost 2,000 children and teachers from primary schools across the Scottish Borders will also attend the Schools Gala Day on Thursday 15th.

The festival welcomes the support of new headline sponsor Baillie Gifford and the ongoing sponsorship and backing of Scottish Borders Council, EventScotland, Brewin Dolphin, The National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Borders Housing Association, Arts & Business Scotland and the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund, as well as the book festival’s many other loyal supporters.

Alistair Moffat, Festival Director, said:
“Every year we aim to bring some magic to the Borders within the walls of Harmony Garden and this year is no exception. John Cleese, Michael Parkinson, Judy Murray, Anne Reid, Richard Ingrams, Allan Little, Steve Backshall, Rory Bremner, Jim Naughtie, Carol Klein, Joanna Trollope, and Melvyn Bragg will all, without doubt, enthral our audiences.”

We welcome our new title sponsor Baillie Gifford and look forward to a weekend of live debate, laughter and entertainment.”

To find out more and get tickets please see the links below
Box Office: 0844 357 1060
twitter: @BordersBookFest

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The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival Monday 26 June – Sunday 2 July 2017 

See history, Hear history, Feel history 

The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival is on the move. Still very much in the heart of the Wiltshire Chalke Valley near Salisbury, and in an equally stunning location, this June the sound of sword-fighting and mounted cavalry will be heard in Church Bottom, Broad Chalke, for the first time. 

Win a family pass to the festival worth £40 for Saturday 1st July or Sunday 2nd July.  The pass will allow the family to get into the Festival – with access to all the Living History events, the Pop-Up History programme, Air Displays, stalls etc. Click here to enter.


This coming year we will see commemorations of some very important historical events: the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, the centenary of the Russian Revolution as well as the Battle of Passchendaele, and the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Now in its seventh year, The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival will be covering all of them this summer, along with a wide range of talks given by some of the finest historical talent in the country. Plus a series of fascinating discussions, debates, and study mornings, which are set to educate and inspire, whatever age you are. 


Throughout the week, and at the weekend, the very best living historians will be bringing the past to life and furthering our understanding of our ancestors with an exciting array of demonstrations and activities. On the Saturday and Sunday, historic aircraft will be rolling and twisting in the skies above the Festival in a series of breath-taking air displays. 

The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival is the largest festival in the world devoted entirely to history and attracts a line-up of speakers like no other. The 2017 programme has just been announced and tickets are now on sale. Making their Festival debuts this year, amongst others, are: award-winning lyricist Tim Rice, the last Governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten, revered First World War historian Lyn MacDonald, Britain’s favourite gardener Monty Don, award- winning playwright, novelist and translator Michael Frayn, former Chief of the General Staff. 


Richard Dannatt, presenter of R4’s Woman’s Hour Jenni Murray, and geographer and BBC TV presenter Nicholas Crane. Giving history a political twist at the Festival for the first time are: former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman, popular and respected political journalist Andrew Marr, one of the most talented politicians of his generation Ken Clarke, former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, well-known foreign correspondent and newsreader Michael Buerk, and former Cabinet Minister Kenneth Baker


Festival favourites returning once more include: Suzannah Lipscomb, Antony Beevor, Claire Tomalin, Max Hastings, Tracy Borman, Don McCullin, John Julius Norwich, Michael Wood, Artemis Cooper, Charlie Higson, Peter Frankopan, Ben Macintyre, David Owen, John Sessions, Paddy Ashdown, Ben Kane, and Alex Langlands. The full literary programme of over 140 speakers, from eminent professors to household names, can be found here.


Dan Snow’s History Hit digital TV channel has become something of a podcast phenomenon and now generates over a million listeners every time a new show is released. Each night at the Festival this year, taking place in the NAAFI tent and in front of a ‘studio’ audience, Dan Snow and James Holland will be hosting a live highlights programme, full of films shot earlier, interviews, features and other history hits. There will be plenty of opportunities for attendees to get involved, and for viewers to engage directly with the show via social media. 


The Chalke Valley audiences always extend a warm welcome to the Second World War veterans, and this June the Festival is delighted to be hosting a morning with two Knight’s Cross Winners: Hugo Broch and Günter Halm, and veteran of the entire Eastern Front campaign, Hans Schönfeld. French holocaust survivor Jacques Altmann will also be sharing his extraordinary story, as will the last surviving member of the Long Range Desert Group who fought in North Africa, Mike Sadler. Fighter pilots Keith Quilter and Colin Bell will tell tales of incredible skill and courage whilst flying their planes over enemy territory, as will former Lancaster bomber Rusty Waughman. A special appearance by Hitler’s godson Niklas Frank, when he will be in conversation with co-Chair James Holland, is sure to be one of the highlights of the weekend. 


The 2017 Prospect debate will tackle the most thorny of issues, with the motion ‘Nationalism in Britain is a force for ill’. Is it a unifying force that can be harnessed to something good, or is to be feared? Contesting the debate will be a panel of experts, including Professor of History at Cambridge University Robert Tombs and former MEP Daniel Hannan. In addition, the popular series of panels entitled The Long View – where current world issues are discussed by experts through the prism of history – will this year see three highly topical issues analysed: the first will be ‘War With Russia?’ with Malcolm Rifkind, Anne Applebaum and Frank McDonough, the second about Brexit and Britain’s close links to her continental neighbours, with David Owen, Brendan Simms and Lynne Olson, and the third entitled ‘The Challenge to Liberal Democracy’, with James Delingpole and Channel 4 News’s Europe Editor and presenter Matt Frei. All three panels will be chaired by Mary Ann Sieghart


The air displays, which take place at intervals on both days at the weekend, are one of the real stand-out moments of the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival and this year the line-up will include some of the most beautiful and iconic aircraft from the Second World War. The Battle of Britain veteran Hurricane R4118 and the P-51D Mustang ‘Tall in the Saddle’ are already confirmed, as is Britain’s only flying Lancaster. 


Commenting on the huge range of events planned for this year, co-Chair of the Festival James Holland said: ‘We’ve got another very broad programme both in terms of talks and discussions as well as a vast array of living history at our exciting new venue in one of the most beautiful corners of England. Celebrated academics and household names will be sharing the spotlight with incredible historic aircraft and some of the very best living historians in the country. It’s a salivating prospect.’ 


During the week, and especially at the weekend, the new venue in Broad Chalke will come alive with the sound of sword-fighting, gun-fire and horses’ hooves. This year’s Living History programme promises to be particularly special, with many exciting activities for all the family to do and see. Amongst the living historians (all experts in their field) will be Medieval knights, Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, Celts and Romans, as well as a large Napoleonic encampment with infantry, artillery and even mounted cavalry. There will also be a horse-drawn First World War ambulance as well as a number of other historic vehicles. On the evening of Dress-Up Saturday, after the last talks have finished, the Festival will be hosting a party – free for all – when the fabulous Bombshell Belles will be singing. This will be a chance to step back in time to the wartime years of the 1940s, and to dust off those dancing shoes! 


Running alongside the main programme, the Chalke Valley History Festival for Schools sees thousands of pupils, from primary school to sixth formers, visit during the week on special days dedicated to different year groups. Year 6, 7 and 8 pupils will attend on Tuesday 27th June and Thursday 29th June, and Year 10 and 12 students on Wednesday 28th June. Academics, best- selling and television historians will give talks and be on hand to explain secrets from the past, and to encourage pupils to learn and get involved. The wide range of subjects being discussed vary from The English Civil War and The Crusades, to Witchcraft and The Cold War. Guest speakers include Sarah Gristwood, Professor Jeremy Black, Jonathan Fenby and Helen Rappaport


The Pop-Up History programme was an instant success when it debuted at the Festival two years ago. Once again this year there will be a series of informal, interactive and free half-hour talks, designed to encourage the audiences to ask questions and feel involved. All they have to do is simply turn up and listen to what the speaker has to say. Also returning again is the popular Children’s Creative History Tent, providing art and craft activities for children aged 6 to 12 throughout the weekend. Plus The History Tellers will be giving free talks – primarily aimed at children – using props and costumes, and recounting tales from our rich historical past. There will be plenty of stalls for some well-earned retail therapy in The Emporium, plus both glamping and camping for those wishing to stay near the site. Book signings will be arranged by Festival partner Waterstones


The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival will take place in Church Bottom, Bury Lane, Broad Chalke, Wiltshire, SP5 5DP. For more details about the Festival, please visit the website Tickets can be purchased from here or by calling 01722 781133. 

Follow the news on Twitter at @CVHISTORYFEST and on Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

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Blog Book Review: Jodie and the Library Card by Julie Hodgson

Book-loving children and teens will find it hard to tear themselves away from this fantastically bitter-sweet tale of friendship, growing up…and time-hopping adventures.

In the first of what looks set to be a series of adventures for time-travelling bookworm Jodie Broom, author Julie Hodgson takes us on a thrilling hop skip and jump through history, seen through the eyes of a smart and engaging young heroine.


Jodie is 12 (“nearly 13!”) and in many ways she is like most young girls growing up in 2017 – she loves music, books, and hanging out with her friends.


But Jodie Broom is growing up in 2075 and in this future books have been banned for over 50 years.


There are no physical books, no newspapers; everything is consumed electronically – even food and music are simulated versions of the real thing. Robo-nannies are on childcare duties, and anybody found in possession of ‘real’ books faces stiff punishment.


Thankfully, Jodie is given a library card that allows her to venture into the past  – setting the scene for a rollicking adventure and bring back some precious books to store in a secret hiding place.


But when her stash of contraband books is discovered, Jodie faces the wrath of teachers and parents, and the excitement steps up a gear as she and Pacman attempt to outsmart the authority figures.


Jumping through time zones at will, the pair meet a new friend, Kai, and all three set off on a challenge involving an intriguing cast of characters including Attila the Hun, and a kindly, bearded man who absolutely denies being an off-duty Santa Claus (as Jodie and her friends strongly suspect).


The book has moments of high tension, particularly when the youths make the somewhat unwise decision to zap themselves back to the deck of the Titanic.


And it’s a page-turner that doubles as a handy history lesson. From the Blitz to Portugal’s Carnation Revolution, the book visits pivotal moments in history, sneaking interesting facts and information about historical events into an addictive read.


Jodie and the Library Card has already picked up a string of awards – including a New Apple Award for Excellence, Readers’ Favourite Book Award and Wishing Shelf Book Award – and it’s not hard to see why.


In Jodie, the author has created an engaging, likeable and believable character for her target nine to 12-year-old audience, while the travels through the fourth dimension grip from the get-go.


That being said, parents picking up the book out of curiosity may well find themselves quickly drawn into the action, and learning a thing or two in the process, and it’s easy to imagine the book playing out on the silver screen.


With several more Jodie Broom books in the pipeline, this promises to be the start of something very enjoyable – and should inspire armies of young readers to appreciate the importance of books.


Jodie and the Library Card (Lulu Books) by Julie Hodgson is out now in paperback, priced £5.38. Visit

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Mid-April eNewsletter

We hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable Easter and found the time to enjoy a bit more reading time than usual. Our mid-month email is packed with book recommendations from the Lovereading editorial experts including a virtual shelf full of titles you can read opening extracts of before they hit the virtual and physical bookshops!


Why wait for the publication date?

Sneak a peek at some carefully selected novels we rate very highly, before they’re published. You know you want to


Making History! – The Wolfson History Prize

A quick reminder for fans of brilliant non-fiction that you can now see the shortlisted titles vying for the top spot in the Wolfson History Prize 2017. We’ve added our Lovereading Expert Reviews and free downloadable extracts to help you choose your favourite. Click here for more and don’t miss the chance to win all the shortlisted titles worth £175!

And speaking of prize-winning fiction…

If you are part of a reading group why not read The Blood Miracles, the follow-up novel from last year’s Desmond Elliott Prize winner Lisa McInerney.

It’s outstanding, compelling, convincing, captivating and very, very readable.

In the Bag! – April Highlights

These are the best books this month that may just have escaped your beady eye. Must-haves for your book-bag! Books like:

The Museum of You by Carys Bray – 2nd novel from the author of award shortlisted A Song for Issy Bradley. Sarah Broadhurst described it as ‘sad, poignant and tender with some lovely secondary characters’. And Reader Reviewer Janet said ‘A magical thought-provoking book.’ Billionaires’ Banquet by Ron Butlin – An exceedingly original novel that evokes the zeitgeist of Thatcher’s Britain with wit, humour and an exhilaratingly zesty touch. Complex, astute and often acerbic, this is an utterly involving depiction of a transformative period in British history. Well of the Winds by Denzil Meyrick – A stimulating, fascinating and so very readable addition to the D.C.I. Daley Series, this time set on an island off the coast of Kintyre. If you’ve not yet met Daley and Scott, do sink into the pages and introduce yourself.



The eye-opening account of a refugee’s incredible strength and bravery

Nujeen is a teenager. She loves TV and wants desperately to fit in and be normal. Yet Nujeen has also travelled an arduous journey through seven borders in a wheelchair in the hope of finding a better life.

The Girl from Aleppo: Nujeen’s Escape from War to Freedom will give you the opportunity to understand the plight of the people fleeing. The story, although personal and unique, is still the story of many, many ordinary people seeking safety and deserves to be heard and better understood.


Transportive Historical Fiction – Karen Maitland

Fans of Kate Mosse and C.J. Sansom may already know the novels of Karen Maitland. Her impeccable research and deep understanding of community have helped craft some truly brilliant works of historical fiction. It’s no wonder she’s a firm favourite with reading groups up and down the country. Her latest title, The Plague Charmer, is a harrowing, enthralling and ultimately exciting look at the horror of apocalyptic illness in an age of superstition and its effects on real people. Find out more.

I Came, I Read, I Recommended! – Reader Highlights

Some of the popular books with our band of book lovers on our consumer Reader Review Panel, all gathered into one place to help you find your next great read!

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova – A beautifully crafted novel told in beautiful, descriptive prose. Watching Edie by Camilla Way – A truly compulsive read. Menace hangs over the whole story. The Lauras by Sara Taylor – A captivating and subtle novel, where heart-catching surprises lie in wait.
The Cows by Dawn O’Porter – Oh my word, this is an eyebrow-raising, mouth openingly good read. The Cutaway by Christina Kovac – A compelling and stylish psychological thriller from a fine new voice in crime fiction. A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys –  A scrumptiously entertaining mystery that fizzes with glamour, romance and intrigue.

Take it from the Max! – Maxim Jakubowski Recommends

Crime guru Maxim Jakubowski has been reflecting this month that the genre seems to go from strength to strength in spite of all the greats that have gone before.

With no signs of a slowdown in exciting plots, incredible twists and engaging protagonists, crime writing is alive and well. Good news for avid fans! See all his picks for the month here, or go straight to his top two:

Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker – Reminiscent of Twin Peaks and Fargo, a small-town missing child story that is poignant and comic as well as dark and disturbing.

And What You Don’t Know by JoAnn Chaney – Atmospheric and gripping psychological crime thriller where lives are changed forever in a dark, wonderfully voiced page-turner.

Gritty, Real, Northern Crime Saga

Julie Shaw’s grandparents were Annie and Reggie Hudson, the crime lords of the infamous Canterbury Estate in Bradford. Her gripping series ‘Tales of the Notorious Hudson Family’ based on real events is provocative, edgy and at times unbelievably sad but highly readable. The 6th in the series, Blood Sisters, is just out and is perfect for fans of Martina Cole.

That’s it from us this month. We’ll be back in May with more top tips for your next great read. Happy Reading!

P.S. Are you a fan of Ian Rankin’s Rebus? Find out more about RebusFest happening at the end of June in Edinburgh… but be quick, events are selling out fast.

P.P.S. The Baileys Women’s Prize shortlist has recently been announced and we are rooting for Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. You can find all the shortlist in our book awards category.

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Top 10 most popular books on Lovereading 2 – 9 April 2017

Lovereading Top 10

Black Water Lilies Black Water Lilies
Michel Bussi
April 2017 Book of the Month.
Simply superb, ’Black Water Lilies’ has leapt straight into my heart and soul. Thirteen days in the heart of Claude Monet’s homeland, where murder, death, lies, and deceit stalk the village of Giverny. Three women …
Download free opening extract
The Cows The Cows
Dawn O’Porter
April 2017 Debut of the Month.
Oh my word, this is an eyebrow raising, mouth openingly good read. A contemporary tale about three women, muddling and battling their way through this world as best they can. Emotional growing pains can occur …
Download free opening extract
The People at Number 9 The People at Number 9
Felicity Everett
April 2017 Debut of the Month.
Solid, surburban couple with two boys at the local school have their safe, perhaps a little monotonous, life disrupted by the arrival of an artistic golden couple next door. All glitter and shine, oozing charisma …
Download free opening extract
The Stolen Child The Stolen Child
Sanjida Kay
April 2017 Book of the Month.
Terrific, truly a one-sitting read so be warned and allow space for it to be so.  Zoe and Ollie adopt baby Evie, the unwanted child of a drug addict, father unknown.  Premature, incubated and fighting …
Download free opening extract
Sometimes I Lie Sometimes I Lie
Alice Feeney
A novel to meddle with your reasoning and taunt your gut instincts… Amber is in hospital in a coma, her thoughts are knocking at the door of her awareness as she attempts to remember what has happened to her. The …
Download free opening extract
Before the Fall Before the Fall
Noah Hawley
April 2017 Book of the Month.
A striking thriller from an established US author and Golden Globe award winner of the Fargo TV series scriptwriter. When a private aircraft returning from a wealthy holiday hideout plunges into the sea off New …
Download free opening extract
The Shadow Land The Shadow Land
Elizabeth Kostova
April 2017 Book of the Month.
This is a beautifully crafted novel. Those familiar with Kostova’s writing will be delighted to know that her beautiful, descriptive prose has yet again created a masterful novel that will hold you entranced throughout as …
Download free opening extract
Reservoir 13 Reservoir 13
Jon McGregor
April 2017 Book of the Month.
Aged 13 a girl goes missing.  The whole village turns out to search.  Over the course of thirteen chapters and thirteen years we follow the affect of this tragedy on the villagers.  We meet them …
Download free opening extract
A Dangerous Crossing A Dangerous Crossing
Rachel Rhys
April 2017 Debut of the Month.
All aboard for an Agatha Christie-esque mystery set on a ship bound for the distant shores of Australia in 1939.
As the world teeters on the edge of another war, working class Lily is about to …
Download free opening extract
When I Was Invisible When I Was Invisible
Dorothy Koomson
April 2017 Book of the Month.
An absolute page-turner of a novel, at times uncomfortable, yet powerful and oh so compelling. Roni and Nika meet when they are 8 years old, as the years pass their relationship changes, yet in their …
Download free opening extract
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April eNewsletter

Sebastian Faulks, famed writer of Birdsong always wanted to be a taxi driver. That is until he read George Orwell in 1968 and changed his mind. That’s the power of books! And that’s why we’re 100% dedicated to bringing you our top recommendations for the best books about, whatever your taste. Read on for your next adventure…

Books of the Month

This month’s bookshelf is burgeoning with brilliant titles just waiting for your love! Books like:

The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay – Captivating, terrifying and deeply moving thriller about a fragile family and haunting tragedy. The Lauras by Sara Taylor – An amusing and tender road trip coming of age story that will have you looking at your parents and yourself in a whole new light! Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor – ‘A beautifully written novel of ordinary life transformed by tragedy.’ (Reader Review). The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova  – Author of The Historian gives us an intelligent and beautifully crafted tale of humanity, history and the effects of grief.

Factual & Satisfactual! – Non-Fiction Books of the Month

For fans of non-fiction, there is no better place to look than right here! Check out:

Four Mums in a Boat – Ordinary women doing the extraordinary. This book is testament to following your dreams and that you can do anything you put your mind too if you work hard enough… even if that includes rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean!

East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Philippe Sands – An immersive and compelling multi-prize-winning book that explores personal and public legal attempts to hold Nazi warmongers to account at Nuremberg and the first stirrings of international law. 


The Firsts of April – Debuts of the Month

Delectable debuts that we are tipping for the top! Books like:

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter – Eye-brow raising, wince-inducing and warm tale about three women’s muddled battle through modern life. The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett – Clever sharply-observed examination of an intense friendship between new neighbours and the disastrous fallout. Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito – Provocative, compelling Nordic mind-bender! ‘An excellent, if unnerving read.’ (Reader Review). A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys – Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey in a mystery that fizzes with glamour, romance and intrigue.

Malorie Blackman, Crossover Author of the Month

With her heart-rending story of love and space exploration Chasing the Stars out in paperback this month, there’s no better time to dive into the wondrous world of Malorie Blackman.

She is also the author of the groundbreaking and award-winning Noughts and Crosses series. Her novels are primarily aimed at Young Adults but they easily ‘crossover’ into adult fiction with her unique blend of wit, thrill and emotional realism. See our special category to find out more.

Pre-Publication Exclusives!

A chance to read exclusive extracts of highly recommended books before they even hit the shelves. You’re welcome! Don’t miss:

The Owl Always Hunts at Night by Samuel Bjork – A chilling, stimulating, intensely dark tale. Second in the ‘Munch and Kruger’ series which started with I’m Travelling Alone. Don’t Let Go by Michel Bussi – Captivating, intimate and fiendishly puzzling exotic crime drama with an unmissable, heart-stopping finale. Night Market by Daniel Pembrey – Following up on his highly accomplished debut The Harbour Master is Henk van der Pol’s next thrilling and convoluted case.

A History Hand-out! – The Wolfson History Prize 2017 Shortlist

We’re delighted to be supporting The Wolfson History Prize that honours (with a sizeable cash sum) the best historical writing in the UK, combining readability with excellence in research. History fans will be thrilled to know that the shortlist has just been announced and you can find it here. History in the making! Three lucky readers also have the chance to win all the shortlisted books, worth £175!

Debutants’ Ball! – The Desmond Elliott Prize 2017 Longlist Announced

Supported by Lovereading and the most coveted prize for UK first novelists, The Desmond Elliott Prize is as characterful as its eponymous patron. Three expert judges lovingly assess the hopefuls for compelling narrative, arresting character and confident storytelling.

Last year’s winner The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney will be a hard act to follow. Check out the longlist here and the newest voices in great literature.

The Cream of Historical Fiction –  The Walter Scott Prize 2017 Shortlist

The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, founded in 2009 is the largest annual fiction prize to be judged outside London, and the winner receives £25,000!

The shortlist for 2017 has seven novels that, through insightful research and impeccable writing, will transport you to unusual subjects and times. You can see them all in our special category. The winner is announced at the Borders Book Festival on 17 June and one lucky reader can win tickets to the prize-giving!


Not Read Rebus? Criminal! – Rebus 30 Category

Fans of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels will be aware that we are celebrating the 30th year of this eponymous crime series with a special category featuring all of the gritty Edinburgh cop’s cases. It’s a fest of crime fiction!

Talking of festivals did you know about REBUSFEST in Edinburgh at the end of June?  Hosted by Ian Rankin and the Orion Publishing Group REBUSFEST is a weekend of literature, art, film, music and more to celebrate 30 years of the iconic detective. Taking place in Rankin and Rebus’ hometown of Edinburgh, this is your chance to step into the world of your favourite detective for an unmissable weekend. Find out more by visiting our Rebus category!

What to Read when The Girl on the Train has Alighted?

Some novels are hard to follow. After the last page is turned, you feel a sort of bereavement. Well, we think we’ve found the next must-read thriller. Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney.

It is a novel to meddle with your reasoning and taunt your gut instincts that is, on occasion, uncomfortable and challenging and walks a razor sharp edge of belief and understanding. Will you discover the truth?

One Reader Reviewer wrote:  ‘Sometimes I Lie has to be THE BEST novel I have read, it is clever, unsettling, intriguing and utterly convincing.‘ Don’t just take their word for it, find out for yourself!

More If You Like… You’ll Love recommendations

If you like Jojo Moyes or Jodi Picoult you’ll love This Love by Dani Atkins. If you like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn you’ll love Good as Gone by Amy Gentry.  If you like Kate Mosse or C.J. Sansom you’ll love The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland.
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Scroll down to see more hand-picked selections in the categories you have told us you like to be kept up to date with. To change them just log in to your account.

Happy Reading.

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Blog Book Review: An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles by Paul Spencer Sochaczewski

Victorian scientist Alfred Russel Wallace has been dubbed the ‘the forgotten naturalist’ and for over 100 years has been in the shadow of his more celebrated peer, Charles Darwin.


In recent years, however, there has been renewed interest in the work of this pioneering and exceptional figure, co-credited alongside Darwin with the theory of evolution by natural selection, and An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles will do much to drive forward this Wallace renaissance in the public’s mind.


This fully revised and expanded edition of the book, first published in 2013, offers the reader a unique mix of meticulously-researched biography, travelogue and contemplation of contemporary conservation and human rights concerns — with a healthy dose of boy’s own adventure thrown in for good measure.


‘Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes,’ as the old proverb goes, but author Paul Spencer Sochaczewski has gone much further to get under the skin of Wallace, retracing his steps across South-East Asia in a 40-year odyssey that took him far off the beaten path in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.


As such, this is far more than a dry, academic examination of his subject. Instead, the wild, often contrary and above all, extraordinary, mind of Wallace is vividly presented to the degree that you sometimes feel he is alongside Sochaczewski on his travels.


As we learn, Wallace was as much a force of nature as a devotee of the natural world. Born into financial hardship at a time when the rigid social hierarchy presented significant barriers to advancement for those without pedigree or capital, he was effectively a self-made man. His achievements are even more impressive considering Wallace left school at the age of 13.


The sheer magnitude of his intellectual curiosity and genius for new insights, combined with a staggering amount of good old-fashioned pluck, led him to venture to the Amazon at the age of 25 without any money or backing, any grasp of the native languages or, indeed, having any experience of overseas travel at all.


Wallace’s four-year Brazilian adventure was followed by his eight-year sojourn in Southeast Asia, which resulted in his classic book The Malay Archipelago.


By the time of his death in 1913 he had been hailed far and wide as the UK’s greatest living naturalist, while author G.K. Chesterton went so far to describe Wallace as one of the two “most important and significant figure[s] of the nineteenth century.”


As Sochaczewski explains, at first he followed Wallace’s path more by accident rather than design, arriving in Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, after joining the United States Peace Corps in 1969, before taking up an advertising job in Singapore.


Once he realised the parallels, however, he threw himself into his physical and intellectual quest with gusto, having many memorable escapades in the process such as venturing through seldom-visited rain forests on the look-out for birds of paradise, finding new species with over-excited botanists, getting acquainted with orangutans or searching for tiger magicians or mythical giant cannibal tribes, to name but a few.


He uses these experiences as a frame to introduce Wallace’s many interests and contributions to human understanding, not only in the fields of biology and evolution, but also many other disciplines such as geology, ecology, climatology, humanism and even, in his later days, spiritualism.


Each chapter of the book follows a theme. Creationism vs evolution,  Why Boys Leave Home, Women’s Emancipation, Animal Intelligence, Our Need/Fear Relationship with Nature, and Environmental Challenges are all covered in thoughtful detail — and each could be read as a fascinating piece of long-form journalism in its own right.


And despite his clear admiration for Wallace, Sochaczewski is not afraid to point out the perplexing contradictions in his character, such as on matters of slavery, the Western definition of the “savage,” and colonialism, where at various points he is either staunchly of his time or far ahead of it.


The author, a noted conservationist and the former head of communications at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), also uses his (and Wallace’s) experiences to make trenchant comments on contemporary issues such as the replacement of British colonialism with ‘brown-brown colonialism,’ abuse of human rights, and the ongoing destruction of habitat.


Further depths to these musings are added by the judicious inclusion of extracts from Wallace’s own papers and journals, as well as conversations with local people. The reader is spoilt for perspective and context, coming away with a well-rounded impression of the man and his world, both then and now.


The final chapter provides the author’s take on the lingering Darwin-Wallace Controversy, which still rages to this day over which man deserves the main credit for the key concept of the ‘survival of the fittest’.  Many readers may come away from this feeling that Wallace not only has the better claim, but was morally the superior as well.


Fitting for an examination of one of life’s most ardent collectors, An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles is packed with collected anecdotes, reminiscences and fun facts.  It has been widely praised by many VIPs active today in the study of nature and conservation, and it’s clear to see why.


There are two equally engrossing narratives to enjoy — Wallace’s and Sochaczewski’s — and with a shared brio for discovery that’s utterly engaging and infectious, you’ll reach closer for the passport with every page. Highly recommended.


An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles – Campfire Conversations with Alfred Russel Wallace (Didier Millet Pty) by Paul Spencer Sochaczewski is published on April 24, priced £16.95 in paperback and £7.95 as an eBook. Visit Amazon UK

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