Coming soon - to a shelf near you…

In sticking with a favourite recurring theme - namely what books are coming soon - I spotted two on Bookbrunch that are definitely worth mentioning.

Cora Harrison is set to continue her stint at Macmillan with I was Jane Austen’s Best Friend - based on the story of Austen’s friend Jenny Cooper. Cora’s most recent book with Macmillan was the second Burren mystery - Michaelmas Tribute. I was Jane Austen’s Best Friend should be on the shelves early next year.

Elsewhere, HarperCollins are to release US based Janice Hardy’s young adult book, The Pain Merchants, the first of a fantasy trilogy. The first novel will be out later this year, October to be more specific.

Plenty more listed online - have a look see. And if ye fancy writing your own, have a read of the latest in scientific research about what “compels readers to form more vivid identification in literature“. (via Boing Boing)

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Written by david. in: Publising, books, linkage | Tags: , ,

Something Fowl

Help! I’ve been kidnapped. Two hefty looking blokes broke in and blindfolded me, dragged me into a large van crammed with other book types and we’re all being taken to an disclosed location. There are murmurs about seeing a movie, maybe this one. But I don’t know… Hopefully they’ll let me go in time for the Blookie Event tonight.

Good friends Richard & Judy* tell me they’re looking for your votes - namely for their Children’s Book of the Year Award. There are some great books on the list - including Artemis Fowl, The Great Paper Caper, Before I Die and Kaspar. (Not that I’m trying to influence your votes… no not at all)

That general trouble maker Eoin Colfer has his own plea for votes or you can go straight to voting here.

*My good friends Richard and Judy may not be the more telly famous R&J.

Update: I’m no longer being held hostage. AND I got to see the stunning Secret of Kells. Tom Moore should be very proud - he, and several hundred others, have created a 2D visual masterpiece. Brendan Gleeson and Mick Lally lend their powerful voices to the movie (and one of the downfalls I felt was in some of the younger cast in comparrison) as well as a strong soundtrack from Bruno Coulais and Kila.


Baby it’s cold outside.

After a week of manic weather, and just when everyone in Dublin thought it was safe to go back out doors, we woke on Sunday to an incredible winter wonderland all over again. And this time I took full advantage - a snowball fight against the meanest, hardest 7 year olds I’ve ever met (I’m not a sore loser, nope) and then the birth of Mortimer Jones Frost II. Isn’t he pretty? (Sadly Mortimer Jones didn’t last the night… he was a mere puddle of his former self this morning.)

Of course with the weekend comes some free time to read the newspapers:

JK Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson are winning the library popularity contest - The Most Borrowed Books of 2008

And speaking of popularity - Rowling was given French Legion of Honour last week.

Lucy Mangan in the Guardian continues to build the most brilliant Children’s Lit Library - this time featuring Mr Roald Dahl and his fabulously scrumptious chocolate factory.

Sticking with the Guardian for a bit longer - Rachel Ward’s book Numbers goes under the microscope and Michael Rosen sets himself the challenge to get kids reading.

Numbers is a high-concept, it-could-go-anywhere idea taken down an unexpected and interesting route. Seemingly downbeat, it is both intelligent and life-affirming. First-time author Rachel Ward is certainly one to watch. But I’d avoid eye contact if I were you. - Philip Ardagh on Numbers

Comics and cartoons feature in the Independent for the New York Comic Con and Nicholas Tucker in the Independent UK reads Siobhan Dowd’s Solace of the Road

Creating the characters Holly meets in just a few words, quickly conjuring up the urban scenery, expertly flitting between past and present, Siobhan Dowd meets every challenge with the authority of a born writer taken from us too soon.

And in the Times UK

This powerful and humane book shows that hatred is never an answer, and proves the pointlessness of torture and the danger of thinking of anyone as ‘other’.

Written by david. in: Reading, books, childrens books | Tags: ,

Reading the world.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne’s new book Dún an Airgid is given the third degree by Michael Cronin in the Irish Times - and comes up trumps. Michael reckons that Ní Dhuibhne’s new book is ‘briskly told in a style that is eminently accessible to young adult or adult learners of Irish.’

Robin Williams, my favourite cross-dressing comic, is in the middle of his first stand-up tour in the UK in over 25 years. Dominic Maxwell celebrates and analyses one of my heroes in the Times UK.

The other cross-dressing comic, David Walliams, is reviewed in the Guardian for Boy in the Dress. Philip Ardagh reckons it is charming. ‘The characters really do grow, and the complicated relationships between the members of Dennis’s family are very touching.’

Staying in the Guardian - Michael Rosen appears to talk about the Roald Dahl Funny Prize announced earlier this week. ‘I woke up on the morning we announced the winners of the first Roald Dahl Funny Prize, wondering what might have been the first ever funny book for children….’ (find out more! You know you want to)

And Sue Townsend and Adrian Mole pop-up in the Times UK with a review by Peter Parker (what a name! The review is dated tomorrow, so it could disappear) ‘At its sharpest the book is very funny indeed. It also passes the test of being read and enjoyed in isolation from other books in the series.’


Pet rats? Riiiight

Not sure if I posted this before - but it’s worth a second listen. Emily Gravett’s chat with Jon Dennis after winning the Kate Greenaway award earlier this year.

It’s four minutes well spent. Enjoy.

Written by david. in: awards, books, childrens books | Tags: ,

Questions that need answering…

I have a few minutes with Neil Gaiman later this week - anyone have any questions they would like to ask him??

I’ll try and ask as many of them as I can and put the interview up on the site afterward. And if you’re feeling really energetic Neil will be signing books in Easons on O’Connell Street from 7pm on Thursday - details here.

Written by david. in: Free Time, Jealousy, Reading, books | Tags:

Movers and shakers

If, after yesterdays two events and the new writers’ reading in Dún Laoghaire tonight, you are still craving more then why not head to Hughes and Hughes in St Stephen’s at half six on Wednesday for the launch of Conor Kostick’s new book Move.

Liam O’Dwyer discovers he can move between parallel universes – when he wants something to go his way, he moves to the universe where it happens. (Remember Sliders?) But there are consequences to each move and they are starting to catch up with Liam and his friends.

Robert Dunbar will be officiating the night and the launch is in a bookshop - so there’ll be plenty of choice!


a strangled picnic basket or two

A few quick links on a Sunday evening -

Robert Dunbar (who really does live up to his title as the nicest man in letters) reviews some of the latest Irish books for young readers in the Irish Times.

To explain the picnic basket reference comes the news that Yogi Bear is being developed for the big screen. More over on the FP Blog.

Edel Coffey in the Irish Independent look at the latest (and some upcoming) new books for teenagers - have a read.

And back to the Irish Times for Adam’s interview with Bob Byrne, the man behind clamnuts.com and the brilliant Mister Amberduke.

Written by david. in: Reading, books, childrens books | Tags: ,

The graveyard shift

I promised Darren I’d keep him up to speed on the Graveyard Book - so here goes:

Neil Gaiman has one of the most recognized names in fantasy writing. He has written almost everything; from television and film scripts to comic books, graphic novels, picture books and fiction for adults, children and teenagers alike. (In between all of that he manages to keep a blog that is read by more than one million people every month, keep bees and travel for research, book tours and fun - which leads me to believe that he has found a way to stop time, write stuff and then restart time again without any of the rest of us noticing.)

The Graveyard Book throws everything that Gaiman has learned into the mix and the result is impressive. The book is made up of 8 short stories that he has been intermittently working on for two decades and has finally put them together - with huge attention to detail.

A bone-chilling killer named Jack has murdered an entire family, all except one, a small baby who escapes to a nearby graveyard. The resident spirits discover the toddler, Bod, and agree to raise him as their own, under the watchful eye of the mysterious guardian, Silas.

Each chapter is deftly crafted to an inch of its (after)life and there is little missing from the story. The tribulations and awkwardness of Bod’s adolescence are all there but with the twist of being surrounded by mausoleums and lessons on how to fade from sight. But the man Jack is still out searching for the boy-that-got-away and he won’t stop until he finds what he is looking for.

Chris Riddell masterfully illustrates the Bloomsbury children’s edition with black and white ink sketches that only add to the suspense of each chapter. The Graveyard Book does stretch itself to cover all genres and to meet the expectations of Gaiman’s legions of readers of all ages. For this dedicated fan it didn’t disappoint.

Written by david. in: Reading, books, childrens books | Tags:

Monday morning moan…

I’ve really little to moan about. I’m just back from the Aspects literature festival and a day or so in Belfast so I’m only catching up on what the web has been up to since Thursday. While I find something interesting to blog about have a look at these:

> Julia Eccleshare talks about Patrick Ness and winning the Guardian Prize… (You heard about that, right?)

> Eoin Purcell is going back through the archives and revisiting old favourites. (Gmail IM is great sometimes)

> The crew at Just One More Book have a really interesting discussion on independent/self-published books.

> The Bookwitch ponders who the Queen of Teen will be… (The Queen of Teen has a very pink website - the opposite of a yorkie bar)

> Eve Harvey has a look at Siobhan Dowd’s Bog Child and Kate Thompson’s Creature of the Night on Vulpes Libris. (And Chicklish have an interview with the Kate up to boot - spoiling us.)

> Amanda Craig has a look at Phillipa Pearce’s A Finder’s Magic and Edward Ardizzone’s Johnny’s Bad Day over at the Times UK.

And to make Monday that little bit easier why not check out Chicklish’s interview with Meg Cabot, as part of their ‘Meg Cabot Week‘.



Seeing the future

The journo’s have started up the smoke machines, donned their best towels (on their heads, don’t be rude) and polished up their crystal balls to have a look at what is coming up over the next few months in television and books.

TV this Autumn is covered on the times.co.uk - one of my highlights has to be Merlin on BBC One:

No Robin Hood this autumn (that’s back in the new year); Saturday teatimes will instead get a magical, Arthurian makeover. Colin Morgan will star as the fledgling wizard, opposite Richard Wilson, Anthony Head, Michelle Ryan and a dragon sounding suspiciously like John Hurt.

And in books Suzi Feay over in the Indepenent UK has a look at what will be the next big thing -

And the next big children’s book is… about a bunch of kids in a boarding school! Andy Mulligan’s Ribblestrop (Simon & Schuster, April 2009) is a hilarious and morally questionable tale about a disastrous school whose pupils can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The building was falling down even before a disaffected pupil set fire to it. Health and safety is non-existent, rebuilding and DIY forms a major part of the curriculum, and a donkey sanctuary occupies the playing fields. The book’s hapless hero, Sam, is concussed, scalded and stripped of most of his clothes in the very first chapter. Ribblestrop has the “crazy school” appeal of Hogwarts and the grim humour of Lemony Snicket, and looks like a winner.

It’ll be interesting to see how the predictions fair once the smoke clears… In the mean time I’m off to find a beginners guide to tarot cards.

Written by david. in: Televsion, books | Tags: ,

Press Catch up

A few quick clippings from the papers over the last few days:

> Deirdre Falvey has a look at children’s festivals throughout October - no mention of the Book Festival though which is really odd… (irishtimes.com)
> Frank Cotrell Boyce
looks at Terry Pratchett’s new book - Nation (guardian.co.uk)
> Adele Geras
enjoys Eva Ibbotson’s The Dragonfly Pool (guardian.co.uk)
> UK children’s minister, Ed Balls, is against age-branding on books (guardian.co.uk)
> Amanda Craig looks at three books featuring well-known heroes as children (times.co.uk)
I’m sure I linked to this already but: Philip Pullman’s Essential Reading List (times.co.uk)
Stephanie Meyer’s new book has been put on indefinite hold after a draft was leaked online (times.co.uk)
> Star of MTV’s reality show The Hills Lauren Conrad is working on a young adult fiction series (rte.ie)
UTV’s new sitcom, No Heroics, following the everyday lives of British superheroes kicks off next Thursday (Guardian.co.uk)

Right, back to nursing a hangover. Ugh.


China reacts to ‘Bunny suicide’ book

The bestselling Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don’t Want to Live Anymore has come under fire in China after a number of children made serious suicide attempts and one twelve year old jumped from a sixth floor apartment.

Newspapers there are blaming the exam-oriented educational system for excessive pressure on students while the China Mental Health Association has reported that suicide in China is triple the world average for 15 - 34 year olds.

As a reaction to the rising fears bookshops have begun to remove the book from their shelves. (Irish Times)

*September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day. While I don’t see the need, or the effect, of candle vigils there is a need for people to be more open and willing to talk about suicide. It effects thousands of people each year - in 2005 431 Irish people took their own lives. Banning books that might initiate discussion isn’t helping. Books, like Keith Gray’s Ostrich Boys approach suicide with humour and reality and could, at least in theory, help begin discussion.

Written by david. in: Censorship, books, mental health | Tags: , ,

Free books? | Neverwhere

Fancy a free read? Harper Collins are offering Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere as a free PDF download. There is a catch though - the PDF will last 30 days before disintegrating back into the ether.

Still, as he says himself, free is free.


Written by david. in: Free Stuff, books | Tags: ,

World Book Day releases

Following on from the success of this year news of the World Book Day Quick Reads 2009 has been popping up around the interweb. John Boyne - I was going to make a ‘John Balde, see-what-I-did-there’ joke, but my heart wouldn’t have been in it - the Bookseller and the Guardian cover it. Apparently, according to Kate Mosse, the guidelines for writing one of the Quick Reads are quite demanding: ” very short sentences and no words longer than two syllables”.

John Balde, see-what-I-did-there*, features alongside Ian Rankin, Kate Mosse and Sherrie Hewson (the lady from Coronation Street).

The full list for 2009:

Ian Rankin - A Cool Head
Kate Mosse - The Cave
Catrin Collier - Black-Eyed Devils
John Boyne - The Dare
Jacqueline Rayner - Dr Who: The Sontaran Games
Sherrie Hewson - The Tannery
Gervase Phinn - All These Lonely People
Patience Thomson - 101 Ways To Get Your Child To Read
Lola Jaye - Reaching For The Stars
Evan Davis - Dragons’ Den

* No John’s were hurt in the making of this post. (I hope)

Written by david. in: Publising, Reading, books | Tags: ,

Time Paradoxical catch up post

And we’re back. Plenty to catch up on so expect a few link posts to follow for a few days. Managed to read Eoin Colfer’s new Artemis Fowl over the weekend - brilliant, paradoxically confusing and delivered with the usual one line humor that you have come to expect.

On to some links:

> Writers’ behaving badly? Not any more.
> The Irish Times Comic Con review.
> More Comic Con fun on the Guardian.
> Yet More Comic Con revelations. And even more here.
> Was the Dark Knight too old for its viewers? The Irish Independent thinks so.
> RTE’s The Buzz has a ‘How To Draw’ page. Something to do at lunch…
> Richard Kidd’s obituary from the Independent.
> Observer Round Up last week - Kate Thompson, Patricia McCormick, Valérie Zenatti and EL Konigsburg.
> Guillermo Del Toro gets his Hobbit hat on. Times UK.

And in case you missed it, like I did, Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn was launched last week too. Huzzah!

Written by david. in: Comics, books, childrens books, movies | Tags: , , ,

Guardian Graphic Novel Competition

Fancy a chance to win a snappy special edition by Kyle Baker? The Guardian is running a competition to mark the launch of Danny Finderoth’s The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels (pretty much what it says on the tin). To win one of the prints (or the runner-up prize of Fingeroth’s Rough Guide) all you have to do is answer one quick and easy question…

In Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel about the Holocaust, Maus, the characters are all presented as various types of anthropomorphic animals, according to nationality or race. What animal are the Germans? (Hint)

As a bonus - Fingeroth has a feature choosing his top 10 graphic novels (more books added to the list). Enjoy.

Written by david. in: Comics, Competition, Reading, books | Tags: , , ,

Keith Gray interview

Those very clever foxes over on the Vulpes Libris blog have an interview with Keith Gray. A sneak peak at what Keith is planning next:

So… what’s next for you?  Another book?  More virtual projects?  Holiday in the Bahamas?

What’s next for me is another book.  It’s a job, I’m afraid.  If I don’t write the books, I don’t get paid.  My deadline is the end of this July with a pencilled publication date of next July.  It’s another book aimed at teenagers and so far it’s called ‘Hoodlum’ but that may change.  None of my books have ever kept the same title throughout the whole of the writing/editing process.  Ostrich Boys was originally called Painted Black, then it became ‘Ash’, and was even ‘Still Death’ for a short while.  My publishers loved ‘Ash’  - but I fought for my own way.  I’m very happy with Ostrich Boys.

The interview covers a lot of what Keith discussed with Kate Thompson in Dublin last month (a month already? Time flies) Age Branding and suicide and being the writer-in-residence for the Scottish Book Trust… Go on, have a read.


what are bloggers reading this summer?

The annual summer deluge of ‘What to read on the beach’ feature articles have started cropping up (such as - here, here and here). Now it’s the bloggers’ turn to name their books of the summer:

Sinéad C got the ball rolling with Wordpress for Dummies, Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter in the Dark. Monscooch followed up with Sebastian Faulks’ Devil May Care and a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and a Jeff Lindsay book too - are these two the blogger favourites?

Rick has his nose in JRR Tolkein’s Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman (nice choice!), as well as some great others. Kevin, the smartest man in blogging, is reading the inexplicable Thom Gunn and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Meanwhile RP has Ray (Carver?), Johnny (Irving?), David (Eggers?) and Chuck (Palahniuk?) all on the back burner…

>> Is there a blogger beach recommendation for the summer?

Meanwhile over my side of the bed is a spring/summer reading collection that amasses to a total of 65 books (not including advance review copies for magazines and newspapers). I couldn’t quite fit all of the leaning tower in one picture so I had to get up on a chair to take the second shot…

Here goes:

Aidan Higgins - Langrishe go Down, Axel Munthe - The story of San Michele Brendan Behan - The Hostage, Brian Dillon - In the Dark Room, Chimnamanda Ngozci Adiche - Half of a yellow Sun, Chuck Palahniuk – Diary, Colin Thubron - Shadow of the Silk Road, Conor Kostick – Saga, David Almond - Heaven Eyes, David McWilliams - Pope’s Children, DH Lawrence - Love among the haystacks (and other stories), DH Lawrence - The Rainbow, Emile Zola - For a night of love, Eoin Colfer - Benny and Omar, Frank Cotrell Boyce – Cosmic, Gabriel Garcia Marquez - One Hundred Yers of Solitude, GW Dahlquist - The Glass books of the Dream Eaters, Herodotus - The Histories, Irvine Welsh – Glue, Jack Kerouac - The Town and the City, Jean-Paul Sartre - What is Literature?, John Irving - Until I Find You, Kate Moss – Labyrinth, Kazuo Ishiguro - Never Let me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro - The Unconsoled, Keith Gray – Ostrich Boys, Kingsley Amis - Jake’s Thing, Kurt Vonnegut - Cats Cradle, Thomas Mann - The Magic Mountain, Marcel Proust - Pleasures and Days, Marcus Zusack - The Book Thief, Marjane Satrapi – Persepolis, Mark Bennett - Joe Rat, Martin Amis – Money, Meg Rosoff – Just in Case, Meg Rosoff - What I Was, Michael Ondaatje - Anil’s Ghost, Michael Ondaatje - The English Patient, Michel Houellebecq - The possibility of an island, Oscar Wilde - Plays, Prose Writings and Poems, Pat McCabe - The Asylum, Roddy Doyle - Paula Spencer, Philip Reeve - Here Lies Arthur, Philip Reeve – Larklight, Richard Adams - Watership Down, Robert Muchamore - Mad Dogs, Robert Muchamore - The Fall, Robert Muchamore - The Sleepwalker, Ross O’Carroll Kelly - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress, Thomas Pynchon - Slow Learner, Thomas Pynchon - The crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon – V, Tim Bowler - River Boy, Tim Bowler – Starseeker, Toni Morrison - Song of Solomon, Trudi Canavan - High Lord, Trudi Canavan - Magicians Guild, Trudi Canavan – Novice, Truman Capote - In Cold Blood, Umberto Eco - On Literature, Vladimir Nabokov - Pale Fire, Yann Martel - Life of Pi and Zadie Smith - On Beauty

Lucky it’s raining a lot this summer.

Written by david. in: Reading, books, linkage | Tags: , ,

Not this time

Writers talk about submitting manuscripts and waiting for replies a lot. You hear encouraging stories of manuscripts being accepted by the first publisher who reads it. You hear ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ stories, most famously from JK Rowling, who was accepted by a publisher at the eleventh hour and has gone on to be massively successful. But less often you hear about writers who are plagued by rejection letters, who spend years trying to get off the starting block.

I got my first rejection three weeks ago. It’s taken me this long to write about it - mostly because I wanted to wait it out and see how it affected things (mostly my own outlook). Three weeks on, here is where I’m at:

A rejection comes from a subjective reading. Each publishing house has a different ethos and each reading editor is different. (Just as every potential reader is different.) If one editor, or ten, rejects a manuscript you should take on board their suggestions, maybe redraft, before trying again with a different reader. But not stop trying.

This is all easier said than done. One (now highly accredited) writer I spoke to recently said he has one wall of his office covered completely by rejection letters and prides himself on the collection he acquired when he was starting out. This was meant to encourage me - I think - to keep going.

Yvonne, looking forward to reading that book, posted last week about panicking before she sent out a synopsis. I’m panicking about getting the responses. (That said the letter I did receive was friendly, honest and encouraging.)

So, back on the horse. Anyone have Penguin’s number?

Image © (the brilliant) Andre Jordan
>> click for larger version <<

Written by david. in: Publising, Writing, books | Tags: , ,

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