Wednesday 31 December 2014

Thank You

Only a few hours to go before we say bye bye to 2014 and hello to 2015 and I just wanted to make a tiny note to you all.

It's a small note, but it's important to say it. Thank you.

Yes, I know that's a bit of an anticlimax but it's true. You guys are awesome and I want to say thank you. Thank you to the publishers who think my blog/opinion is good enough for their books and invite me to bookish events and say "Do you want to read this? We'll think you'll like...". Thank you to book shops and coffee shops for making me buy books and read them while I panic over if I ordered an extra hot skinny latte or a hot chocolate with all the works. Thank you to you guys for reading my blog &/or following my twitter/facebook/Goodreads/etc. Thank you for the book blogging community for chatting to me about books and making me discover new books/eBooks. Thank you to my family and friends who have to deal with me going "I can't right now. Am reading/blogging/am in London for bookish reason". And thank you to my other half (who I know will never read this) who has to deal with all of this and yet, still loves me because of it.

And who hasn't started a bonfire with all my books. (In case you are reading this, my other half, you dare touch my Harry Potters, I will destroy you in one form or another...)

There is too many of you to thank, but I do mean it when I say thank you. This year with my blog has been a bit harder than normal (there was one or two things I did think "Maybe I should just quit. This is no fun anymore...") and am still here, blogging in my little corner of the Internet, enjoying the fact I'm changing the blog up.

Yes, changes are a-coming. Slowly (this is me we're talking about).

Again, I just wanted to say thank you for staying with my blog, liking my blog and everything else that comes with this blog. I hope to get better with reviewing and reading and everything else blog-wise and real life-wise. Now, I will leave you so you can enjoy the New Year in and I will... well...

Monday 29 December 2014

Books and Their Theme Songs - Volume 27

I'm popping this up now as it's Christmas and New Year and I don't think I shall be blogging for the next few weeks. Hopefully. I doubt I will keep to this plan but either way, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas or whichever religious holiday you keep.

Be happy, be kind, be full of love, be you.

Anyway, before you go enjoy the next few days, let me show you guys the music I was listening to while I was reading in the past two months. I hope you like these songs choices!

THIS SHATTERED WORLD by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
"The Only One" by James Blunt

THE BANE CHRONICLES by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan & Maureen Johnson
"Welcome to New York" by Taylor Swift [Not available on YouTube at this time]

CONSPIRACY GIRL by Sarah Alderson
"If Only" & "Fine" by Kylie Minogue

A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness (Based on the Original Idea by Siobhan Dowd)
"Only Lonely" by Tina Arena

THE SNOW GLOBE by Sheila Roberts
"Intro (Return of Blackbird) by Rumer

COLD WIND by Nicola Griffith
"The Hanging Tree" by James Newton Howard (Sung by Jennifer Lawrence)

"No One's Here To Sleep" by Naughty Boy featuring Bastille & "Don't Forget Me" by Way Out West

CAPTIVE by A. J. Grainger
"Happy" by Marina and the Diamonds

Saturday 27 December 2014

Night School Saturday - Danny D Carmel talks Nathaniel

As some of you guys are aware if you're big Night School fans, a small web series has been released and yesterday, we had a new episode. Power focuses on one character: Nathaniel. If you haven't seen it, I shall link it below...

Seen it? Ok, we can talk now as I don't want you guys to go further in case of spoilers. If you haven't watched it and we let something slip, you only have yourselves to blame...

I have been very lucky that the director of the series, Jack Jewers, asked if I wanted to be involved in some way to show off this series. Of course, the answer was yes. I am a huge fan of the Night School series so it was a no brainer.

And I am very honored to have Danny D. Carmel on here, chatting about how he got into the mind of the power-hungry Nathaniel. So, before I hand it over to Danny, I must say thank you to Danny and to Jack, both for their time. If you want to follow either of them (and CJ Daughtery) on Twitter, you could go to @DannyDCarmel, @JackJewers &/or @CJ_Daugherty. Or, you can follow the Web Series on YouTube at

Ok, Danny, over to you!

What it was like playing Nathaniel?
Nathaniel is a very different kind of character to my usual roles, which have generally been boisterous, young and warm characters. Not so with Nathaniel; He's older, colder and bolder.

So getting into the mindset of this power-hungry man was vital. Aside from asking C.J. a series of questions about his back-story and motivations, I set-about about finding real-life people that Nathaniel could resemble and studied them. Their reasonings, their mannerisms, their outlooks - it unravelled some pretty interesting insights. Like, how much crime figures and Members of Parliament share similar traits, but for opposing goals (generally). Nathaniel internalises a lot of these, such as cunning, ruthlessness and persuasiveness, which he's able to bring into use in the right measure, at the right times. That's a big asset of Nathaniel's timing. Knowing when & where, as well as how, to get people on-side. It's one of Nathaniel's strongest assets. But his temper, impatience & aggression are his weakness. We tried to show that by keeping his violent edginess doing battle with his persuasive pleasanteries, and having neither the time nor patience for either!

We aimed to really bring this out in Nathaniel's eyes. In a sneaky way, I tried to grab some inspiration from that famous 'Restaurant Scene' in the Godfather. Where Al Pacino's eyes are saying far more than anything or anyone else is. You can see the anticipation, the second-by-second decisions he's making about whether to kill this guy, or not and what the repercussions would be. That's the effect we were trying to bring out here. Is Jeremy (the journalist) serious with these questions/allegations? Does he know I have a virtual gun pointed at him? Does he know that I already know this interview isn't going to air? Why does he say these things to me, when he knows I'll kill him for it? I was trying to convey those menacing questions raging behind a smiling suit & tie.

Finally: Playing someone who is as far away as you can get from the trait of humility was also tricky initially, as it is incredibly humbling to work opposite Damien Thomas, who is a fantastic & highly-accomplished actor. That is especially true for me, because I grew up watching Damien in the Hammer Horror movies in-which he played the lead role, well before I was even born! However, all that faded away after rehearsing with him and Kunju Li (who plays the lovely producer/ camera operator, Lucy). Damien's enthusiasm and passion quickly made us realise what a privilege we had to be working with him. Awesome Director Jack Jewers and the wonderful team he put together, made this journey all the more exciting and thrilling. I hope that the Night School fans will take away a whole new world from the Web-series. (If they do however, it will only be because Nathaniel wanted it to happen.)

Monday 22 December 2014

GoodRead - Captive

This, I have decided, will be my last review of 2014. I know. Am shocked that this year is nearly over but yes, this is my finally review. The last few days of 2014 will have me away from my laptop (so I need to do some forward planning). But yes, this is my last review. And it was a book going to be published next year!

Robyn Knollys-Green is the daughter of the UK Prime Minister. She is also kidnapped. Trapped in a room with kidnappers that seem to think she willsolve everything, Robyn is scared for herself and her family. This wasn't the first time that something this awful had happened to her...

But, slowly, Robyn begins to find out that she's in trapped inside a web of global corruption, lies and betrayal. And with one of her kidnappers - the one with the green eyes - might not be the bad guy... But if he isn't, who is?

Ok, am going to say this right off the bat. This is a mixed bag. It is a debut and it's fairly strong, but there are flaws that made me want to throw my kindle across the room is fury. I mean, seriously?!

Ok, let's get the negative out of the way because I had two or three HUGE problems with this. And if I get them out of the way, I can then rave (because I do like this book) about the book's good points.

The first problem I had was the term "Princess". It was used a lot by the kidnappers to Robyn. And I totally get why - if they call her by her name, she's a human. She's someone's child. A person. But the more I heard it, the more frustrated I got.

My second was Robyn's reactions in some situations. There was one scene I remember where I was shaking my kindle. She didn't react the way I thought someone would in her situation, but the reason for this was because of my third and my biggest problem.

There was a hint of romance. A sniff of one, you could say. I was warned over this before I started reading this so I braced myself but still, when I saw it begin to develop at the halfway mark, I instantly hated it. I found it was rushed and really? In that situation? What about Stockholm syndrome - could it be that? Nope, because Robyn knew it wasn't. But, if you had it, you wouldn't think you had it, right? I was just against it and, because I felt that way, I never believed it. But I think this is a me issue...

However, with all my ranting, I did like it. I did! I found a good chuck of the book addictive. I love the thriller-element (I love thrillers so I knew I was going to like this) and I never felt bored while reading. Even with the tiny flashback to what happened a few months prior to Robyn being kidnapped, I never felt bored or rolled my eyes. And with AJ giving clues to why this was happening to Robyn and, even then, you couldn't really trust it till you heard it from one person's mouth.  It had a feel of a Sarah Alderson novel.

So, while this does have its faults, I think Sarah Alderson's fans will love to get their teeth into this...

Friday 19 December 2014

#re3 Harry Potter 2015 Challenge

I can't believe I am planning to do this (and tell you about it after the whole Morganville Vampire distaster), but here we go...

Next year, I am planning to do something I have always wanted to do for the past few years but I have always found a reason to not do it. I have too many books. I don't have time to read them. I really dislike that book so if I want to read it, I have to read that horror.

Ok - *deep breath* - here we go.

Next year, I am planning to reread these books...

Yes, all seven Harry Potters by JK Rowling.

Ok, here is the thing. I have never read all 7 books in one year or back-to-back. Ever. I have when the first 3 and/or 4 books were published but not when all seven were published. 

I know - I call myself a Harry Potter fan. So, here's the plan. I am going to try (TRY!) to read all seven book within the next 12 months. But I really want to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone NOW!!!

Oh well, I shall blog about this via blog post (and there is a tab on top of the blog so you can keep up to date THAT way), which I am still figuring it out as I want it to be a bit different from my normal #re3 posts. It might be my Goodreads updates. It might be chapter by chapter. It might be filled with gifs like these:

And let's not get even started over the whole "calmly" debate...

But yes, I shall try to complete this! It should be fun! Join me in rereading Harry Potter or reread that series you always wanted to reread but always found an excuse not to next year. It'll be fun... You can give people death glares if they decide to talk to you while reading...

Wednesday 17 December 2014

His Dark Materials Alert!

If you know me, you would know that, for a few years, I was a tad obsessed with the series, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I just found the world he wrote fascinating and I enjoy reading something more "meaty", something that was lacking at the time in YA.

But now, today, has released a new short story from the His Dark Materials world/Lyra's Oxford, just in time for Christmas! The details for this new tale - The Collectors - is below as I have copied and pasted the Press Release (why keep it a secret from you guys?) but we have a new story, new characters, Bill Nighy reading it (OMG!) and it sounds very intriguied.

But most fans of this series will wonder (like I did) if this will have some connection to the long-fabled The Book of Dust that Mr Pullman has mentioned writing for the past few years now? Only time will tell (or the press release, if you believe THAT line...).

Oh, I hope to get my hands on a copy soon so, if all goes to plan, shall review this if/when I can...

And now, onto the press release!

Fans of the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy can return to Lyra’s Oxford this Christmas, as offers members the free gift of an exclusive new short story written by Philip Pullman and performed by Bill Nighy.

The Collectors is an original short story by one of the most well-loved and admired British novelists of recent times. It is available from 17 December as a free download for Audible members.

Set in the Senior Common Room of an Oxford college on a dark winter’s night, The Collectors follows the conversation of a pair of new characters, Horley and Grinstead, as they discuss two new works of art that Horley has added to his collection. Little do they know that these pieces are connected in mysterious and improbable ways, and that both of them are about to be caught in the crossfire of a story that has travelled through time and between worlds.

The Collectors marks the first time that Pullman has returned to the universe he created for the beloved His Dark Materials trilogy since the publication of Once Upon A Time in the North in 2008. Written exclusively for Audible as a standalone story, it introduces new listeners to the His Dark Materials books, while revealing a little something extra to fans of Lyra and her world.

The Collectors is narrated by Bill Nighy, the Golden Globe and BAFTA award-winning actor whose work on stage, screen and radio has included Love Actually, the Pirates of the Caribbean series and a multitude of TV, stage and radio appearances.

Laurence Howell, Audible’s director of editorial and merchandising said: “We are delighted to be able to offer our listeners another glimpse into the spellbinding world of the His Dark Materials trilogy. The Collectors is a perfect story for the Christmas season, written by a master of storytelling and narrated by the mellifluous voice of Bill Nighy. We love it and can’t wait to share it with our listeners.”

Monday 15 December 2014

GoodRead - Shadows On The Moon

This feels like one of those books that EVERYONE has been demanding that I read. I remember at my first Book Blogger event linked to this publisher, I mentioned that I hadn't read Zoe Marriott and the look I got from people... The less we say about that, the better.

That was a few years ago and, since then, I have read three of Zoe's books - Frostfire, The Night Itself and Darkness Hidden (reviews for all three are here, here and here) - but it was when I was at the Zoe Marriott event a few weeks ago at Walker Books HQ (not read my write-up on that? Here you go! ENJOY!) and I told several people that I was going to read it over Christmas. Including the author.


But the impulse to read it came sooner than I expected so I just grabbed my copy and began to read.

In this re-imagining of Cinderella set in fairy-tale like Japan, Suzume saw her father and cousin murdered before her eyes. She was meant to die to, but she escaped with a gift she didn't know she had - shadow-weaving. But when her mother remarries, Suzume find herself unable to cope and soon, she finds out the depth of the betrayal against her family and, fleeing for her life, she vows revenge...

I really REALLY like this book and this retelling of Cinderella where our lead wasn't some "weak female lead". Yes, Suzume is flawed but she is relateable and you root for her. You might not agree with what she's doing or how she reacts at times, but you're with her and you understand why she's doing the things she does.

I really liked the world Zoe built. The world of ancient Japan which has a slight tilt to it. And learning about the culture (which Zoe must have researched for hours) came across beautiful. It felt like something out of a movie. I could imagine this translating very well into film - if that happens, can we have it like House of Flying Daggers? (This has to happen! I will champion this! LET'S MAKE SHADOWS ON THE MOON A MOVIE. AND NOT AN ENGLISH-SPEAKING MOVIE BUT A JAPANESE SPEAKING MOVIE!

One of the things I adore about this book was how diverse the book's characters were and their attitudes. All the characters were non-white (nearly all the characters were Japanese with several characters were black) and the book has a strong mix of LGBT characters (one of these happens to be my favourite within this book. I love her more than I do Suzume and Otieno, and I kinda want Zoe to write more about her!). While the tide is turning in YA to have strong and interesting characters tackle the issues of race and sexuality, -It's still rare to have a book tackle these in the way Zoe did. And this was first published in the UK in 2011 so this was a brave move for the publisher back then...

Another thing I am very pleased over was the issue of self-harming. Now, I normally stay away from books in which self-harming is involved, but Zoe handled this topic with sensitivity and the respect it deserves.

This book isn't perfect - it took it's time to get to where I thought it would be (but that's due to character developement and I never felt bored by this, unlike other books I have tried to read in the past) and there was a few occasions that I felt that things were a tad too convenient for Suzume and Otieno

But yes, this book is very important. I like it a lot and I sense I shall be forcing it into people's hands in the near future. Soon, I shall read all Zoe Marriott's books... That's the plan.

Saturday 13 December 2014


Last week, I entered a contest hosted by the lovely people at My Independent Bookshop ( where you tweet your list of books you wish for this Christmas. As someone who lusts after books more than is very healthy, I did "my" independent bookshop on and entered, thinking "I'll never win, but I can show off some books that I am intrigued to try one day... one day..."

And I won. I NEVER WIN ANYTHING!!! And I won 9 BOOKS!!! [insert muppet flail here]

Today, a box of books sat on my doorstep and, bar one (will explain why one is missing), THEY'RE HERE AND I HAVE ADOPTED THEM ALL! I just wanted to show you guys these books and explain my reasons why I picked these as most are very much "outside my comfort zone".

So, let's get started!

MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME (Edited by Stephanie Perkins) - Everyone seems to be reading it and it's Christmas! I want to read something Christmasy and this looks perfect. It's a tad pink for my taste, but am ready to dive in and discover new authors (mainly Rainbow Rowell) while revisiting some old faves...

SHOOT TO KILL (Steve Cole) - I was at an event to launch this and, while I'm not a huge James Bond fan (I like the films [not loved - Skyfall, I love and am excited for Spectre] yet never read the books), I got excited over this more than any other Bond book - written by Ian Fleming and Charlie Higson. And Steve Cole is really cool! I will devour this book and probably wish I was a spy...

YOUNG AVENGERS: STYLE > SUBSTANCE (Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie) - I need to get into graphic novels and I have been a fan of this cover for a while. It looks like it's going to be fun yet crazy ride. I shall hold on for dear life!

THE SECRET HISTORY (Donna Tartt) - There is one reason and one reason alone why I asked for this book. And that is...

I am OBSESSED with How to Get Away with Murder! I LOVE THIS SHOW and I wanted a book that will tie me over till Season 1 Part Two is aired (DAMN THE MIDSEASON/WINTER BREAK!!!). And I have heard this book is PERFECT! I have only read one Donna Tartt book in my life (The Little Friend - I wasn't a fan), but I have this and The Goldfinch so one of these will be read till Universal Channel starts airing new episodes...

A GAME OF THRONES (George R.R. Martin) - It seems like one of those books/TV shows that I really should be a fan of, and yet I haven't seen a whole episode or attempted to read. It's quite a big book and I need to get more into longer reads. But this could be an interesting read, but I have been told once I get reading, the pages will fly by like a beat of a dragon's wing...

REAPER MAN (Terry Pratchett) - I have a copy of Mort and I have every plan to read it but this book has always been one of THOSE books. We all have one where it keeps catching our eye. And the hardback edition is BEAUTIFUL! I can not WAIT to read it next year as part of my British Book Challenge!

THE BOOKSHOP BOOK (Jen Campbell) - a few weeks, I took part in a short blog interview with Jen Campbell via the publisher on this book, and this book sounds good. A book about bookshops. From all over the world.

BONES NEVER LIE (Kathy Reichs) - I love Kathy Reichs. If you have seen on my Reviews Listings, I have reviewed 8 books/audiobooks and I have read more before I started the blog (Bones to Ashes is my first Kathy Reichs and I love that book!). So, it's a no brainer that I want this! IT SOUNDS SO GOOD. This is my third Kathy Reichs to join my TBR - Fatale Voyage and Bones Are Forever - so 2015 will be a year of murder for me!

Now, if you have been on My Independent Bookshop, you'll noticed that I haven't mention Captain Marvel. Well, sadly, that's not in stock (Marvel is doing a reprint run) but I was offered a replace choice. I gave a few titles and one of them might be my replacement. I think you guys will squeal with delight when I reveal my replacement (if it's in stock)...

So, I want to say thank you to My Independent Bookshop for these books. I am excited/scared to read them. Next year's reading is going be VERY mixed... Brace yourselves, my lovely blog-readers. We're in for a bumpy ride!

EDIT (18/12/2014): My replacement book has arrived! And I think you guys are gonna love me (or will like me a little bit more...). But I have, as my replacement... FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell. Yes, I finally have my hands on this book and I do plan to read it as everyone - EVERYONE - seems to be in love with this book and am curious on if I will fall under its spell.

But like I said before, next year's reading is gonna be bumpy reading ride so BUCKLE UP!!!

Sunday 7 December 2014

GoodRead - Six Degrees of Assassination: An Audible Drama

I was meant to listen to this and get this reviewed quite close to the release date which was a fortnight-ish ago. When Felicity at Midas PR asked if I wanted to listen to this, I jumped at it. It sounded interesting and gripping. Plus, it starred Andrew Scott and Freema Agyeman and I LOVE THEM!!! But I thought I would get it done quicker than I have, but due to the joy of my place of work wanting me to do overtime so my listening time was cut in half and it was this weekend when I blitzed through it

On one day in July, ten years after the horrible events of 7/7, the new Prime Minster visits a charity in East London. The coalition is becoming a distant memory, the economy is on the mend and the country is looking to the future with John Campbell being the leader of the country. Until a man comes out of the crowd and shoots the Prime Minister...

MI5 has to find out who this man is and why he did it. Alex Cartwright (Andrew Scott), MI5 Chief Counter Terrorism Officer, must find the truth. With his trusted second-in-command, Ellen Townsend (Freema Agyeman), Cartwright must look for the truth as clues seem to point to characters all over the world. But with the country in a state of shock, John Campbell's political party beginning to fight over who will lead them and the United Kingdom and MI5 find out that whoever ordered the hit has covered their tracks very well indeed, will they catch the mastermind behind it? And how close to home will the truth be?

This audiobook has a feel of the early series of Spooks, where I was on the edge of my seat. There never felt like a dull moment as the story jumped between MI5 (trying to find out who shot the Prime Minster and why) and Campbell's political party (which goes through shock before the backstabbing began on who should take John's place).

The acting in this was strong and, barring one or two actors, the cast was great and the writing to this was just as strong (though there was one or two times when a character would swear [yes, there is swear words in this] and it felt odd, as if the actor saying the word wasn't sure how their character would say it...).

My only nag with this was the subplot with Alex Cartwright's marriage problems, which (when we started) I felt was a bit pointless and we had seen it in pratically every crime show/book/etc. But then it got important in the middle of the story, although I sense some people would wonder, if the whole subplot of Cartwright's marriage wasn't written in, would it have effort the overall story? I doubt it, but it added to the drama.

Another problem I think most of you guys might have (but I didn't) is the music. I have seen on Audible that some people felt that, at places, it got very loud. I never thought that myself, but it's one of those things.

I can see this being turned into a mini-series for TV (BBC One or ITV, mainly) and I hope Audible Studios continues to work with M J Arlidge as I think these characters could have another outing...

Wednesday 3 December 2014

GoodRead - The Snow Globe

When Clara from Piatkus asked if I fancied reading a Christmasy read a few months back, I said yes. I always like Christmas so the idea of reading something to get me in the spirit seemed liked fun.

And of course, I forgot about it till a few weeks ago when three Sheila Roberts's books appeared in my letterbox. Nine Lives of Christmas, On Strike for Christmas and The Snow Globe. And while Nine Lives of Christmas should have been my natural reading material (I really like cats - have you not noticed?), something about this story caught my attention and I decided to give this a read.

When Kiley buys a snow globe from an antique dealer, she only barely believes the story that comes with it. The story that the snow globe is passed from generation to generation, somehow always landing in the hands of those who need its magic And with the drama of her ex dating her sister, Kiley needs all the magic she can get to survive this Christmas.

But when something very unexpected happens that turns her into a believer of the story, she passes the snow globe to her two friends, Allison and Suzanne. But maybe the snow globe has some magic for both of them two...

I am going say this from the word go, this is a light, fluffy and fun Christmas read. Perfect for reading once all the presents are open, the dinner is eaten, the Queen Speech is over and you want a moment to unwind. It's a hot-chocolate kinda read - and we all need them once in a while.

Yes, it does read like a Christmas movie you see in the afternoons on Channel 5 or Christmas 24 so, at times, it does feel a bit cardboard cutout for characters and some of the situations do seem a tad extreme, but I think this is a sweet little story for those wanting to enjoy the season and believe in magic.

This won't be for everyone, but it came at the right time for me. I hope, if I can find time, to read another Sheila Roberts before Christmas is upon us...

Tuesday 2 December 2014

GoodRead - A Monster Calls

As you guys know, I was at an event hosted by the lovely people at Walker Books (not read it? Here's the link and there s no hints of Cassandra Clare in my write-up as I haven't read the latter Mortal Instruments books just yet so no spoilers for me!). While I was there, I saw a copy of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. An illustrated edition of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I asked if I could take it as... well... I had to. EVERYONE LOVES THIS BOOK AND I HAVEN'T READ IT!!! Walker were very kind and said I could. And so, I started reading it once I got home Saturday evening.

From the original idea of Siobhan Dowd, A Monster Calls follows Conor who, one night, wakes up to find a monster staying outside his bedroom window. The monster isn't what Conor was expecting - he has seen worse in his nightmare - the nightmare. The nightmare he's been having since his mother started her treatment. But the monster wants something different. It says Conor called it and now, the monster won't leave till its told three tales to Conor. After that, Conor will tell the monster a fourth tale - and this tale is the worse of them all.

This fourth tale must be the truth.

So... this book. Is it worth it? Is it worth going out of your way to read? Is it worth hunting down the illustrated edition?


This book... I'm not sure where to begin on my thoughts and feels on this book but this book is wonderful. Simply wonderful.

I get why people have said this book made them cry. It didn't with me - sorry, I don't cry when I read - but this book hit me in the feels. If I didn't have to go to sleep and had to read it in two sittings, I would have read this in one go and yes, I fear I would have cried a manly tear (I hear you guys sniggering... don't judge me!).

There's something beautiful about Patrick's writing. It's simple and yet, there's something about how he spun this tale that just fits. Maybe it's because of the idea from Siobhan Dowd, who sadly died before she could finish this (she had, according to the author's note, the characters, the premise and the beginning) but Patrick paid perfect respect and tribute to Siobhan and to the subject matter (yes, this book did hit a nerve with me).

The illustrations by Jim Kay are wonderful. They fit with the story in two ways: they aided the story and yet, moved the story forward. Both with very little detail and yet, with so much detail.

This book is faultless. Buy it. Just buy it - but buy the illustrated edition. Trust me when I say this.

PS - this is being turned into a movie. To the movie people making this movie, PLEASE DON'T SCREW IT UP!

Monday 1 December 2014

Jen Campbell talks Bookshops!!!

I am very excited to welcome Jen Campbell to the blog. Jen has written The Bookshop Book, a book about... well, bookshops and the joy their bring. Jen travelled the world, visiting unique bookshops and writing them up in this quite unique book. So cool that it's this year's Books are My Bag's book! Go Jen! 

So, when the lovely Em asked if I wanted to ask Jen some questions, I jumped at the chance! Before I start the Q&A, I must quickly thank Em from the publisher for setting this up and Jen for taking out to answer these questions! 

Jen, thank you so much for doing this. First question: what made you write a book dedicated to bookshops?
Hi! Thanks for having me!

Well, I love books, and bookshops. I’ve got my first job as a bookseller when I was at uni, and have been working in new and antiquarian bookshops for the past seven years. I’m also a writer and my first book came out in 2012, called ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ - a book about all the funny things that have been said to me (there are quite a few!). When the book came out, I got to go on book tour and met all these amazing booksellers in fantastic bookshops (like Wigtown: a bookshop town on the west coast of Scotland by the sea: twelve shops all on one street. One of them is the largest secondhand bookshop in Scotland with a bed in amongst the books. Another is a feminist bookshop run by a lady called Gerrie who not only sells books but is also a humanist celebrant, so she marries people too! Sometimes in the bookshop itself!). So, I was going to all these places, and in turn going off and researching other strange bookshops - travelling bookshops; tiny bookshops; bookshops in the middle of a rainforest. And I thought, ‘Hey, I need to write about this.’

Did you travel to some of the bookshops you feature in the book? 
Yes, I did :) The book looks at over 300 bookshops across six continents, so I didn’t get to go to all of them. (I now have a bucket list of places to visit that’s as long as... well... it’s long!). I visited most of the bookshops in the UK, the bookshops in Paris, Berlin, the ones in Amsterdam (I lived on a houseboat for a few days there), and I’d been to a couple in the States previously on holiday. As for the others, I’d get up early in the morning and Skype with booksellers in Australia/New Zealand and Asia; then I’d go to work at the bookshop, come home and Skype with booksellers in America and Canada. So I was constantly in several different time zones in my head. It was a little mad, but lots of fun.

You found some pretty cool and very unique bookshops. How did you discover them and what was your reaction to each new discovery?
It was a domino effect, really - every bookshop I talked to I’d ask them about their favourite places, likewise with authors. I obviously also researched myself - so much research! - and it was a constant delight to discover places you would never think existed. Like a Book Town in Norway next to the largest glacier in mainland Europe, where booksellers transport books around the snow on kicksleds and sell them in converted barns.

Out of all the bookshops featured, which is your favourite?
Ahhh. Don’t make me choose! I love Shakespeare and Company in Paris; I have a soft spot for Librarie Papillion in Mongolia, who sell books to herders of the Gobi desert; there’s a bookshop in Greece that’s also a laundrette; there’s a travelling library in Kenya on the back of a camel, and one in Colombia on the back of a donkey. There are bookshops on boats, in old factories, in rainforests... I can’t pick!

If you could revisit any of these bookshops, would you and which one would you visit? 
This is one I didn’t get to visit, but I’d love to get to El Ateneo in Buenos Aires: a beautiful bookshop in a converted 1920s Tango dance hall. Give it a Google; it’s magnificent.

You spoke to several well-known and very respected authors about bookshops. Was there an author that made you have a bit of a geek out? 
I was thrilled that so many wanted to talk to me about their love of books, and all of them had excellent things to say. Meeting Audrey Niffenegger for coffee was particularly special - her passion for books is outstanding - and I had a bit of a fangirl moment chatting to Ali Smith. I adore her.

The Bookshop Book is this year's official Books Are My Bag book. How did you feel when you heard this news?
I’d met Meryl Halls - who runs Independent Booksellers Week - before, and we’d discussed doing something together in the future. Earlier this year we met up for coffee and had a chat. The Bookshop Book, which I was writing at the time, seemed to be the perfect match for their BAMB campaign. We knew it would be silly not to team up, so we had a chat with Constable (my publishers), and off we went!

One final question: as this book is about bookshops, you must feel passionate about bookshops. Why are bookshops, indie bookshops especially, so important?
 I think my feelings about bookshops are best summed up in the dedication of ‘The Bookshop Book:’

bookshops are
time machines
and safe places

(this book is for those who know this to be true)