The word “Christmas” is now in almost constant use round here; mince pies in the shops and decorations making their first appearance on high streets the length and breadth of the country, my thoughts have turned to Christmas preparations. Only two months to go…
And not only am I thinking of food and drink, presents and cards but also of school plays and all those little traditions that families make their own at this time of year. We love reading Christmas-y books to get us in the mood, and we have two to mention here that will get you in the spirit: Horrid Henry’s Christmas Play is now available as an early reader and is a hilarious eye-opening read about the school nativity. It’s perfect for keeping the little darlings quiet while you write lots of Christmas lists.
Our second recommendation is the perfect Christmas present for any Horrid Henry fan: Horrid Henry’s A-Z of Everything Horrid is brilliantly illustrated in full colour and has brilliant double page spreads of Tony Ross’ artwork, with Francesca Simon’s hilarious run down of everything you can think of in Horrid Henry’s world. Definitely one to keep them busy on Christmas morning.
If these two books aren’t enough to keep your clan quiet we have a special competition: you can win five sets of all 20 Horrid Henry story books by answering the following question in the comments:
With 35 years of experience as a midwife to her name , Sheena Byrom had no end of source material to call upon when she first put pen to paper and began writing her debut book, Catching Babies.
We featured Sheena Byrom on the blog only last week – Catching Babies has been chosen as one of the titles in the next round of our ‘Handpicked’ range - and as part of ‘Handpicked’ we are now offering our readers the opportunity to ask Sheena about the book, her life as a midwife and her experience of committing an entire career to print in her first memoir.
A striking account of her years in a truly remarkable profession, Catching Babies recounts the trials and triumphs of Sheena’s career. “I have had an amazing time over the years and a very challenging one too,” Sheena said recently to the Lancashire Telegraph.
So, if you have any questions you would like to ask, just leave them in the comments and we will pass them on to Sheena next week.
If you’re anything like me, then you’d have been watching the Eleventh Doctor’s second series finale with bated breath, and have been eagerly waiting the Christmas episode ever since. Well, the title of the Christmas special was finally revealed on Children in Need the other night – The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe – and if anything, this just ramped up my excitement for the episode!
In addition to the Christmas special, Doctor Who fans have another treat in store – the release of Doctor Who: 100 Scariest Monsters. From the Daleks to the Weeping Angels and the sinister Cybermen, this title features the 100 scariest monsters from all of the series.
To mark its release, we’ve got a bundle of bookish goodies that will delight any Doctor Who fan. One lucky reader will receive a copy of: Doctor Who: 100 Scariest Monsters, Doctor Who: Where’s the Doctor?, Doctor Who: The Official Annual 2012 and a great Doctor Who postcard set. To enter this competition, just leave a comment on this blog post telling us where you’d go in the Tardis. Remember, that’s anywhere in all of time and space, so we hope to see some creative answers!
“We asked around and time and time again we got the same answer – we choose books to suit our mood.
So, with this in mind, we want to try something out. We’re going to group books – every kind of book; fiction, non-fiction, autobiography, anything goes! – according to how they make us feel, nothing else.”
But not content with resting on our laurels, we’ve decided it’s time to move on to the next stage of our project and introduce our next round of books, which are set to hit selected stores around the country today. Just like last time, each of the books has been ‘handpicked’ to fit a certain mood. You can find out more about the new moods and the books that we’ve paired with them below.
Greg Heffley is in big trouble. School property has been damaged and Greg is the prime suspect. But the crazy thing is, he’s innocent! Well, kind of. The authorities are closing in, but when a blizzard hits the town the Heffley family is trapped indoors. Greg knows that when the snow melts he’s going to have to face the music but could any punishment be worse than being stuck inside with your family for the holidays?
Find out how whether Greg survives this terrible predicament in Jeff Kinney’s latest book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever. To tell you more about the book, Jeff has kindly recorded a special video just for our customers.
We’ve also got 5 signed copies of the book to giveaway to readers, so if you’d like to have a chance at winning just submit your answer to the question below as a comment on this post:
An author never knows where the creative pixie dust will fall. For me it was on a recent trip to England, Scotland and Ireland as part of a publicity tour for my publisher Pan Macmillan and my new novel The Sixth Man. I ventured to Harrogate for the Crime Writing Festival and stayed at the Old Swan. There, I seemed to be channeling Agatha Christie, or at least as much as an American writer can. I tried to mentally transport myself back to the time when Christie was making her indelible mark on the literary world. I would go back to my hotel room and the pages would fly out of me.
Next I flew to Edinburgh where I studied the passengers on the short flight. There I walked the streets of the old city, saw the signs for the tours of Underground Edinburgh and the ideas just started to flow. I went back home and the opening for my new novel, The Innocent, was already mapped out in my head.
When I returned to London in early October to be inducted into the CWA Hall of Fame at the SpecSavers ITV3 awards event, I spent much of my free time working on the new novel. Walking through the streets of London, especially at night, there were sparks of inspiration in virtually everything I saw. I brought home a beautiful trophy representing my induction, but just as importantly, I carried home more pixie dust to sprinkle over the new book.
(David’s avatar photo was taken by Alexander James)
A few months ago we told you all about our new concept for finding books to read – arranging books into categories based on how they make us feel, so we can pick books to suit our moods. The three categories we settled on are:
Handpicked to carry you away
For those moments when you want to switch off and tune out, immerse yourself in another world.
Handpicked to make you think… talk… and think again
These are thought provokers, the sort of books that you could chat about no end. Not necessarily easy-reading, but certainly rewarding.
Handpicked to turn your heart in somersaults
These are truly rollercoaster reads – up one minute, down the next.
We had a fantastic response from you guys, but to further test out the concept we knew there were a few other people we had to win over - bloggers!
Well the books have been read and the reviews written and now we can share with you all what they thought of our handpicked concept.
Awards evoke all kinds of different emotions and responses. Perhaps the stupidest and rudest comment I’ve ever heard was actress Honeysuckle Weeks trying to be funny at the ITV3 Book Awards last week, as she was about to announce the People’s Bestseller Dagger – won by – erm – me! “Awards are like haemorrhoids. Sooner or later everybody gets one.” Boy, did she know how to make someone feel good.
However what is true is this fine quote, from Jesse Owens: “Awards become corroded. Friends gather no dust.”
I’ve always considered that to be shortlisted is truly to win an award in itself. And yet with it comes a lot of anguish, too. First the elation of hearing or seeing your name on the shortlist. Then as the event gets closer, that elation fades and gets replaced with “will I win?” angst. Although I’ve been very, very lucky to have won several awards, I went through a long period of being shortlisted, but then having to sit there with my Happy Loser smile as the winner’s name was announced. One time at the Galaxy Awards four years ago, I decided, sod it, I would not put on my happy loser smile if I didn’t win. When the winners name, lovely Ian Rankin, was announced, I duly scowled – and a tv camera relayed my scowl, in all its bad sportsmanship glory to the watching world!
Some years ago, I was the only English author shortlisted for a French crimewriting prize, in Cognac. I was up against 5 French Authors. We all had a drink before, and I asked them whether the French crime writing fraternity was as friendly as the British. ‘Oui,’ one of them replied. ‘We are very friendly – unless someone wins an award. Then we hate this person with a passion.’
You can imagine my state of mind when, two hours later, my name was read out as the winner. I walked up to the podium to resounding applause, and my back on fire from the glaring loathing of the other five authors…..
With 25 published novels and 10 film adaptations to his name, John Grisham’s impact on contemporary fiction cannot be underestimated. Rising to fame with his second published novel, The Firm, which spent 47 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, he has gone on to publish a stream of successful fiction and non fiction books that have sold over 250 million copies worldwide.
The undisputed king of the legal thriller, his latest book, The Litigators, sees Grisham returning to the courtroom. David Zinc, a successful young lawyer with a bright future ditches his high-profile Chicago law firm only to find himself embroiled in the morally void activities of ambulance chasing outfit Finley & Figg. Tired of working divorce and DUI cases David and the managing partners set their sights on pharmaceutical giants Varrick Labs, winding up in a federal court of law facing off against the best lawyers that Varrick can afford – which just happen to be from David’s old firm.
We’ve been lucky enough to secure some of John’s time and we’re thrilled that he has agreed to answer questions from our readers. Our favourite questions will also receive a free hardback copy of the book. So, if you have any questions for John just leave them in the comments and we’ll pick our favourites and pass them on to the man himself.
Gemma Collins of The Only Way Is Essex stopped by to tell us about her new book, Basically... My Life as a Real Essex Girl