Monthly Archives: September 2011

Today is a very special day in our calendar – it’s Super Thursday! 

Basically, on Super Thursday publishers release most of their top titles in time for Christmas. This year, 225 new books will be released and we wanted to share with you our thoughts on which ones we think might do the best.

The genre that really seems set for success is the comic memoir. Titles from the likes of James Corden and Jason Manford are among our top picks. Even though it’s being released a little later (13 October), we’ve also got our eyes on Rob Brydon’s Small Man in a Book, which publishers Michael Joseph describe as “a funny, heartfelt, honest, sometimes sad, but mainly funny, memoir of how a young man from Wales very, very slowly became an overnight success”.

A few other books tipped to do well this Christmas are Lee Child’s The Affair, Bernard Cornwell’s Death of Kings and The Fear Index by Robert Harris.

So, which new releases have you got your eye on?

Keith Lemon Signature Snakeskin Boots

Right, we’re aware that this competition isn’t exactly run-of-the-mill stuff for the Tesco Books blog, but the opportunity presented itself and, frankly, it was too bizarre and too funny to pass up. We have managed to lay our hands on a signed pair of Keith Lemon’s boots – don’t ask how – and while the original plan was to eBay them and live like kings off the spoils, our conscience got the better of us so we’re going to give them to one of you guys instead!

If you’re not familiar with Keith Lemon, he is the comic creation of Leigh Francis who appears in his own TV shows, Keith Lemon’s Very Brilliant World Tour and Celebrity Juice, and is about to release his print debut, The Rules: 69 Ways to be Successful.

To be in with a chance of winning – and we’d like to point out, this part was Keith’s idea … he was very insistent – just post your best chat up line into the comments. Nothing too dirty please!

*UPDATE* We’ve had a fantastic response to the competition so far. Thanks to all who have entered! Unfortunately due to our moderation policy we haven’t been able to publish all your entries BUT fear not, as all those who entered, published or not, will be eligible to win Keith’s boots!

***Please note, this competition is now closed. Thank you to all that entered, we’ll be emailing the winner shortly!***

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini TaylorIn 2005, my husband and I went to Prague to hunt vampires. Well, not hunt exactly. We didn’t mean them any harm. We just wanted to discover—to decide, rather—where in the city they might choose to live and hunt, and where their human prey would hide from them. We rented a flat right behind Tyn Church and spent nine days prowling the city, lurking in shadows, taking notes. And also drawing, eating dumplings, and shopping for marionettes! It’s a rough life, but someone’s got to do it.

We were planning out a graphic novel. Our first had just come out, The Drowned. I wrote it, Jim illustrated it, our first published book,and we were—and still are—so proud. It had debuted at Comic Con, the big US comic book convention held in San Diego, and as we drove home to Oregon—something like a fifteen-hour drive—we cooked up our next project: a vampire story. Our first thought was to set it in New York. We’d go, we decided, and research it on location. Jim could shoot photo reference for the artwork. We could really get into texture and geography that would make the story richer.

It was my best friend who immediately said, “New York? Why New York? If you’re going to go somewhere, go to Prague.”

And Jim and I looked at each other and said, “Yeah.” And we did.

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For me, learning to enjoy Jane Austen was a little bit like learning to enjoy red wine. When I was very young I hated it; when I was a teenager I had some friends that liked it, although I wasn’t too fussed; then around the age of eighteen or so I developed a mild interest, and not too long after that the appeal became crystal clear.

janeaustenThese days, although I really enjoy Austen’s books and some of the screen adaptations, I don’t read or watch them all too often. I used to live in Bath – where Austen lived and did a lot of her writing – and as anyone who has lived in Bath will agree, when you are confronted by all-things-Austen on a daily basis the appeal begins to wane a little. Even so, my interest was recently piqued by the news that HarperCollins are inviting “authors of global literary significance” to reinterpret Austen’s works – the first to take to the plate will be Joanne Trollope.

Now, while I think this is a great project, for one reason or another, I still have my doubts. Perhaps because over the years there have been no end of Austen adaptations, some more successful and some more outlandish than others – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, anyone?

It’s worth mentioning that at this point HarperCollins are keeping their cards fairly close to their chest in terms of the poetic license the authors will have with the original texts. Louise Joyner, HarperCollins’ publishing director, described these books as a ‘conversation’ between the initial texts and modern novelists. Is that intentionally ambiguous language? Perhaps not, but either way I’m going to be keeping my ear very close to the ground on this one to see who they get to take on Austen’s other classics – no doubt it will be a pretty formidable line-up.

Last week we published a Q&A with author John Connolly – using your questions! We had such a great response that we thought we’d do it again. This time we have Penny Vincenzi in the hot seat, one of the UK’s favourite authors. Since her first novel, Old Sins, was published in 1989, she has written thirteen bestselling novels. Her latest novel, The Decision, looks set to carry on that legacy, with its heartbreaking tale of a divorce and a child caught in the middle of it all.

Like last time, questions can be sent to us either by commenting on this article or via Twitter, and you can send in as many entries as you like. We will select 10 questions from all the entries to pass on to Penny, three of which will be picked to receive a signed copy of her newest release, The Decision - read an extract here. So if you’ve got a question you’d love Penny to answer – and wouldn’t mind being in with the chance of winning a signed copy of her new novel – get those questions in!


Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Karou lives a life of two halves. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in “Elsewhere”, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

With Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Taylor has created a truly original story that takes a familiar landscape and completely reshapes it, challenging readers’ grasp of reality.  Serendipity Reviews said that ”Reading this book is like falling through the rabbit hole alongside Alice into Wonderland. You are happily reading the book, thinking you have an idea where this story will lead, then the author whips the carpet away from you and keep falling down a hole into a completely different story”.

Penelope at Fantasy Book Review also praised the novel’s unique premise and ability to suck readers into its magicial world. She says, “This is unlike any novel that I have ever read. Although Taylor uses some Y.A. fantasy conventions … she manages to transform everything into her own uniquely seductive language that both compels and thrills as the reader is swept into the world of Elsewhere.” For Becky from The Bookette, the novel’s portrayals of its non-magical locations were also part of the book’s allure – “I really enjoyed the parts of the novel that were set in Prague. Taylor made it truly come to life and I wanted to leap into the book and walk the streets”.

Kathryn Stockett – The Help

We’re a big fan of reading books before seeing their film adaptations. It allows each reader to create in their mind their own version of the story before characters become tied to actors and locations to sets. So be sure to check out Kathryn Stockett’s fantastic debut novel The Help before it reaches UK cinema screens next month.

Set in 1960s Mississippi, The Help tells the story of three women – Aibileen and Minny, black maids of rich white families, and Miss Skeeter, a young white woman. Though their society separates them, the women start to interact in ways which make them reconsider their own values and beliefs about race, life and love.

Readers have given The Help high praise, with Bookgeeks even going as far as to claim that ”This book will change your life. There is no other way to put it; it will change the way you look at the world, and change it forever”. Although the novel certainly has a strong ethical narrative, Judging Covers maintains that ”Even if you’re not interested in the wider issues the narrative is based on, the story of the friendship between the three women is a beautiful thing to watch unfold over the pages”.

Emlyn Rees – Hunted

Danny Shanklin wakes up slumped across a table in a London hotel room he’s never seen before. He’s got a high-powered rifle strapped to his hands. He hears sirens and stumbles to the window to see a burning limousine and bodies all over the street. The police are closing in. He’s been set up. They’re coming for him…

With only his tech support friend, the Kid, for backup, Danny sets out on a nail-biting odyssey though the panicked city streets, in a desperate bid to escape, protect the people he loves, and track down the terrorists who set him up. But with 500,000 CCTV cameras, 33,000 cops, 9 intelligence agencies, and dozens of TV news channels all hot on his tail, just how long will this one innocent man be able to survive?

Hunted is a full-speed adrenaline ride that will delight fans of thriller authors such as Lee Child and Charlie Higson. Milo’s Rambles describes Hunted as ”a frenetic book and one I found incredibly easy to get lost in … If you’re looking for an adrenaline pumping adventure, believable characters and a few jaw dropping moments then look no further”. Dragons and Fairy Dust agree – “This is an action packed book which will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, frantically turning the pages to find out what happens next …There is an interesting twist at the end which is left ambiguous, setting the scene for another book in the series.  A great read, ideal for the holidays”.

Foursome by Jane FallonWhenever I start writing a new book I have to find tricks to lure me into spending hours every day sitting in my attic office. Working at home there are constant distractions. Even ironing suddenly seems like an exciting option. I loathe ironing, but for eight months of the year, while I am supposed to be writing my first draft, I have mountains of crisp crease-free clothes to wear. My only hope is to try to turn my office into a haven I won’t ever need to leave.

As I was beginning Foursome I bought a photo to put over my desk; a robot dressed up as a surgeon. I love that photo and I spent many happy hours staring at it while I tried to think of plot twists. I managed to finish my new book, The Ugly Sister, by purchasing a kettle so that I couldn’t keep wandering downstairs to make a cup of tea. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been up to my ears in hoovering or making bread when I’ve remembered that I am actually halfway through a sentence and just came down to get myself a drink. It almost worked except that I still had to go to the kitchen for milk so now, about to embark on my fifth novel, I’ve bought a tiny fridge just big enough to hold a small carton. So long as I don’t get hungry I’ll be fine. Or maybe I should invest in a microwave…

You can follow me over on my Facebook page!

Peter Kay is one of Britain’s best loved comedians. His most recent tour, The Tour That Doesn’t Tour Tour, is now the biggest selling British comedy tour of all time. But Peter has also been widely celebrated as a writer, with two self penned books, Saturday Night Peter and The Sound of Laughter -  the latter holding the record for the fastest selling British hardback autobiography since records began.

His third book, The Book That’s More Than Just a Book Book, looks set to be another corker and we’ve managed to lay our hands on an extract which, of course, we’re more  than happy to share with you guys.

We’ve also got three copies of the book to give away, which will be accompanied by an official Peter Kay tea towel. To enter the competition, all you have to do is tell us your favourite joke – by tweet or as a comment on this post – and we’ll pick the three that made us laugh the most. So if you’ve got any rib-ticklers you’ve been itching to share, now’s your chance to show everyone what you’ve got!

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Last week we gave you the opportunity to put your questions to John Connolly, the best of which were then picked by us and passed on to the man himself. We managed to whittle your entries down to just ten questions, no mean feat considering the quality of the entries – clearly there are some avid John Connolly fans among you!

Thanks to everyone that got involved and a special thanks to John himself for taking the time to answer the questions in such detail.

“What book have you read that has made you think: I wish I’d written that?”

I think any book that I’ve really loved would have been worse if I’d written it, so better that I didn’t get my hands on it.  Still, I think Bleak House by Charles Dickens is the greatest novel in the English language. Would be quite nice to say: “Oh yes, I did write the greatest novel in the English language, actually.  Was it difficult?  Oh, not really . . .”

(James Dacey)

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Suzanne LaFleur – Eight Keys

Eight Keys tells the story of Elise, an eleven year old girl who is struggling with starting secondary school when she discovers a key with her name on it, leading her to a series of incredible revelations about her family. This is the premise of LaFleur’s stunning second book.

If you haven’t read her previous novel Love, Aubrey, don’t let that put you off. Neither had Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, and they are now ‘determined to remedy that fact soon … because [they] adored everything about Eight Keys – the beautiful writing, the simplistic yet touching story, the sentiments behind it and the believable characters with very real anxieties and concerns’.

Kirsty at The Overflowing Library was similarly taken with the story, describing how she found there the two main messages in the book – one about friendship and one about family – to be thought-provoking. Fluttering Butterflies also found the issues dealt with by the book as important and inspiring – ‘I think bullying is a very important topic to address and that it is incredibly important in those difficult transitions between primary and secondary school like Elise is facing during Eight Keys … There’s such vulnerability to Elise as she deals with all the emotions and questions and fears that she has about how and where she belongs in the world’.

If these reviews have got you interested, be sure to visit Feeling Fictional’s post on Eight Keys for a preview of the first chapter, and So Many Books, So Little Time have a great Q&A with LaFleur.

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