Monthly Roundup – February 2020

It feels as though the whole of February has been wet and stormy. In recent weeks, every time I venture out for a walk, run or bike ride, I return home cold, damp and muddy. Daffodils are growing in my garden so spring is on its way. I am hoping we do not have to endure snow before the warming sun returns.

I had my big children visiting on two weekends this month so, as a family, we had all the excuse we need to eat out together. This weekend I am in London catching up with my daughter. I continue to take part in weekly Parkruns and hope to complete the Fulham Palace event while in the capital. A dry course would be most welcome.

February saw my return to adding literary event write-ups to my blog. I also featured an author interview in preparation for another event I plan to attend. We will have to see if my impetus to book tickets and travel to such entertainments continues further into the year.

I posted reviews of nine books this month: five novels (one translated), two short story collections, and two works of non-fiction. These proved quite a mix of positive and negative. As I would never pick up a book to read that I did not expect to enjoy, there were a few disappointments.

Click on the cover below to learn more about each book. Click on the title to read my review.

 

Two fine novels that I recommend you read 

 
The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue, published by Corvus
How Pale the Winter Has Made Us by Adam Scovell, published by Influx Press

 

A crime fiction tome that wasn’t for me, and a novelette that fully satisfied in under seventy pages

 
Bury Them Deep by James Oswald, published by Wildfire
One Thing by Xanthi Barker, published by Open Pen

 

Five star translated fiction


Snow, Dog, Foot by Claudio Morandini (translated by J. Ockenden), publishe by Peirene Press

 

Well written short story collections, although one didn’t quite resonate

 
Escape Routes by Naomi Ishiguro, published by Tinder Press
Exercises in Control by Annabel Banks, published by Influx Press

 

Non-fiction worth reading – loved one cover, found other off-putting

 
Under the Stars: A Journey into Light by Matt Gaw, published by Elliott and Thompson
Another Planet: A Teenager in Suburbia by Tracey Thorn, published by Canongate

 

An interview I very much enjoyed doing


Author interview: Venetia Welby

 

Write-ups of my first two literary events this year

 
Cornerstone 2020 New Writing Showcase in Bristol
Naomi Ishiguro in Bath

 

Sourcing the books I read

This month publishers generously provided me with a bumper thirteen new titles to consider.

I purchased a further six books to add to my TBR pile.

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their titles to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

Monthly Roundup – January 2020

I know I’m not alone in finding this month a challenge at times. There have also been highlights. On New Year’s Day I ran my first Parkrun and have since become somewhat addicted to these regular Saturday morning events. I attend with other family members and we are forever chasing personal bests over the 5km distance. I even became a Parkrun Tourist when my husband and I travelled to Belfast for a weekend.

This weekend spent in Belfast, where I was born and raised, enabled me to visit my parents on my mother’s 92nd birthday. It also served as a reminder of some ongoing, wider family issues. A silver lining was found in an unexpectedly free evening that I was able to spend in the company of good friends. Alongside the tourist activities enjoyed it ended up being a fine, short citybreak.

I managed to review a mere seven books in January as my reading time has been severely curtailed by other distractions and commitments. Of these books only one disappointed. Click on the cover below to learn more about the book and on the title to read my review.

Deliciously dark fiction

   
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver, published by Head of Zeus
Magnus by Mark Carew, published by Salt

Thrilling thrillers 

 
Black 13 by Adam Hamdy, published by Pan Macmillan
Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris, published by Black Swan

Fabulous translated fiction


Real Life by Adeline Dieudonné (translated by Roland Glasser), published by World Editions

More than simply a short story anthology


Splice 1 edited by Daniel Davis Wood, published by Splice

Non fiction, originally reviewed for Bookmunch


Not Working: Why We Have to Stop by Josh Cohen, published by Granta Books

 

I ended my literary event hiatus, writing about my reasons for this here. There will be a write-up of the event attended next week.

I also wrote a short post on my seven year blogging anniversary: Curbing the seven-year itch

 

Sourcing the books I read

As a new feature in these monthly roundups I thought readers may have some interest in the books I borrow, purchase and receive gratis. You can see why my TBR pile rarely shrinks no matter how many books I review.

One book – Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver – was borrowed from my local library and has since been returned.

I bought five books in January – two second hand, three direct from publishers – of which two were gifts for others.

Seven review copies made it safely to my door from lovely publishers.

 

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their titles to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

Curbing the seven-year itch

WordPress tells me I started my blog seven years ago this week. How time flies. Actually, it is hard to remember where I put my thoughts before I carved out this space. Although now primarily a book blog, it started out without much focus other than as a sort of personal therapy. Writing has long been regarded as a good way to bring order to the voices in our heads.

It is, however, as a book blog that Never Imitate found its audience. With that in mind, I thought a few other numbers may be of interest.

As of this week I have published in excess of 1500 posts. These include:

  • 865 book reviews, but still none bearing a title beginning with the letter X or Z;
  • 34 interviews or guest posts from independent publishers about their small press, some of which sadly no longer exist;
  • 60 interviews or guest posts from authors to help raise awareness of their work;
  • 75 write-ups of an eclectic array of literary events;
  • an ever evolving review policy as I try to filter the books I accept, to include only those most likely to appeal – we all benefit if my reviews are mostly positive;
  • uncounted random musings when there is something else I wish to try to articulate.

My most viewed post remains a paean to one of my many teddy bears.


Edward reads Mawson’s latest book, She Ran Away from Love

However, most search terms that land a reader here include the title of a book or an author’s name.

Viewing figures vary, often inexplicably, and I try not to dwell on these. Naturally it feels good to be read and appreciated but I exist among a multitude of book bloggers and many have bigger personalities that garner attention. I understand there are steps I could take to raise my profile but prefer to continue to run this blog in my own way. Its title reflects a personal tenet I have no wish to compromise.

Lovely though it is to have a reader take the time to comment on one of my posts I am often unsure how or if to respond – I find all social situations tricky to navigate. I’m never ignoring readers but rather mulling over potential responses, probably more than anyone imagines.

I have observed many bloggers come and go over the years as their lives and motivations change. I too sometimes question why I continue to devote so much of my time to writing about the books I read. My answer has been to cut back rather than walk away. I may at times feel jaded but there are still moments of joy when I feel myself to be a small part of my beloved literary world.

Thank you to all who take the time to read my posts, especially those who then share them across their social media platforms. With so many good books still to shout about, I hope to remain here for some time to come.

Book Review: The Secret Life of Books

“I don’t suppose anyone will ever ask to paint my portrait, but if they do I certainly plan to take a book along to the sittings. I’ll choose a cracking detective story to pass the time, and then get the artist to paint ‘Homer’ or ‘Milton’ on the front cover afterwards.”

The Secret Life of Books: Why They Mean More Than Words, by Tom Mole, is an extended essay exploring our relationship with books as objects. The author posits that a reader’s books, at least the ones they choose to hold on to and put on their shelves where guests may view them, tell us exactly who they think they are. For the reader themselves he suggests that books serve as aide memoirs for life as it passes.

“Books on the shelves are sandbags stacked against the floodwaters of forgetting”

Divided into eight main chapters plus a coda, a variety of topics are explored including: the book as a thing and the development of associated accoutrements; the history and development of the book in the form we know it today; the part books play in personal lives and how they are more widely valued as a national cultural treasure; technological changes and how this has affected ownership and reading habits; prospects for the future of the book as society changes. Between each pair of chapters are interludes in which the author studies a work of art that includes images of books, and discusses their potential meaning.

Books connect people, enhancing relationships with shared discussion and interest. A Kindle may offer the same words but a physical copy enables others to observe what is being read and to then share their thoughts on the text, thereby bringing people together. Of course, readers do not always wish to be disturbed while reading. From wing backed chairs that provided a degree of privacy in shared space to noise cancelling headphones for busy commuters, accoutrements have been purchased in addition to books.

With the advent of railway travel people pondered how to avoid wasting their time during journeys. Reading was considered a beneficial activity and WH Smith began to sell books from kiosks in train stations. Developing technology enabled not just wider travel but cheaper reading material.

I found the chapter on bookshop and library classification fascinating, influenced as it is by society’s moral and value judgements. I was reminded of contemporary debates over the perceived disparagement of genre fiction, misogyny and literary elitism.

Throughout the medium’s existence, certain books have been valued, carefully held within national libraries and archives which reflect a country’s cultural pride. Book burning is discussed along with the targeting of national libraries by insurgents in times of war.

“The battle against books is a battle against history, against learning, against culture, against openness to others. The fact that our books stand in so readily for our identities, our aspirations and our heritage makes them targets. […] Destroying books is a deliberate strategy for attacking the identity of a culture and denying its right to exist.”

Moving on, the author accepts the benefits of e-readers but points out several aspects of the form that could prove problematic over time.

“Books produced on paper or parchment are, for the most part, superbly durable. […] By comparison, we have trouble recovering digital files stored only a few decades ago in superseded formats on obsolete hardware.”

“Like all modern consumer electronics, e-readers have built-in obsolescence.”

There are interesting thoughts on the personal and environmental footprint of digital technology: the provenance of materials used in manufacturing; working conditions in factories that produce the devices; the challenges of disposal when improved versions are created. The central data storage facilities where digital copies of books are held must also be run and maintained yet do not provide the aesthetic pleasure of a library.

E-books are not owned; what is purchased is a license to read the words. Thus books cannot be passed on or shared. There are no shelves for others to browse, no books to bequeath to friends or children. Valued heritage is not digital.

Sales figures show that books considered disposable are often purchased in higher numbers on e-book. Titles that a reader will hold on to, perhaps hoping to reread, sell better in physical copy. There has been a recent trend to make these books more beautiful. They stay in hardback for longer. Paperback copies may be produced with French flaps. Bearing this in mind, the copy of this book I was sent is therefore an object to be treasured.

As well as the beautiful cover, I love these endpapers

Electronic devices tend to be multi-purpose with the inevitable distractions this brings. A physical book offers a chance to switch off – an escape. In the future, with the growth of the gig economy, such action may be possible only for the privileged.

The author muses on his own shelves and how he has invested in a family home furnished with books. He notes the transience of a life and how he knows he must one day give his books away, passing them into the collections of other readers.

The writing took a little while to capture my attention but once engaged provided some beautifully expressed insights into why readers become so invested in the books they desire and give space to. The author is articulate and interesting, offering intriguing nuggets for consideration. This is a book I will happily add to my shelves, and recommend to all fellow bibliophiles.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Elliott & Thompson. 

Random Musings: Literary Podcasts

I am old school when it comes to book reviews, author interviews and literary discussions. I prefer reading to watching or listening. Mainly this is due to time constraints. I can read most articles in just a few minutes whereas audio and visual content demands a much longer time commitment. I prefer to devote that extended time to reading books.

Last year my favourite book prize, the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses, announced that it was starting a podcast. I was dismayed. Then, when I read of the books, participants and discussions being featured I grew curious.

The episodes released varied in length but required that a significant block of time be made available. To listen I had to find a space within my day. The obvious place, where I would benefit from a distraction, was the gym. After presenting my cost-benefit analysis, my husband kindly gifted me a set of headphones. Many fruitless attempts to download episodes to my phone for offline listening later (I don’t use Apple products or have internet access at the gym) I found a means of carrying audio content with me (I use Castbox, available for android).

Listening to podcasts while cycling nowhere or working out on a cross trainer has proved effective at taking my mind off how tiring and tiresome these activities can be. I quickly worked my way through each of the Republic of Consciousness podcasts and sought out alternatives to supplement the time I have available each week. I now have a backlog of interesting book discussions to listen to, thereby working both my heart and mind.

The Republic of Consciousness Podcast for Small Presses

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“The Republic of Consciousness Podcast comes out about 3 times a month. It’ll be a bit different each time, but expect interviews, readings, and some regular features, such as our Book of the Month.”

Bookmunch Podcast

No dedicated page as yet but first three episodes may be found here:
Episode 1 – Emma Glass (Peach)
Episode 2 – Adam Foulds (Dream Sequence)
Episode 3 – Melissa Harrison

Why Why Why: The Books Podcast

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“We ask writers why they wrote the book they wrote, editors why they published the book, and readers why they picked up the book and read it.”

 

I realise that I am probably late to the party but I am enjoying these audio broadcasts given that they fill a time slot when reading would be difficult. It goes to show that trying new things can sometimes be worthwhile.

 

Updated, May 2019

I am still listening to and enjoying the above podcasts during my visits to the gym. The RofC hasn’t quite managed to produce fresh output three times a month but each new episode it does put out is worth listening to. I have also been listening to the following that you may wish to check out.

The Comma Press Podcast: from the team behind the Manchester based publisher


Click on image for link

“Series One focuses on our best-selling Protest: Stories of Resistance anthology, and episodes will feature the author and their historical consultant from the collection, alongside a third guest who will be connected to the cause or movement, either directly, or in a more contemporary way, and will be hosted by a Comma editor.”

Unsound Methods: A literary fiction podcast


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“We want to share conversations about the nitty gritty of writing fiction and explore what makes fiction ‘real’.”

The Slightly Foxed Podcast: the independent-minded book review magazine


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“Think of it as an audio version of the magazine, full of interesting bookishness, interviews and discussion – all set around our kitchen table, here in Hoxton Square.”

Live on air – talking about summer reads on BBC Wiltshire

At the end of last week I received an email from Roo Green, producer on BBC Wiltshire’s weekday afternoon radio show, asking if I would be interested in taking part in a summer reads recommendation segment the coming Monday. Anyone who follows my more personal posts, here or on social media, will know that the idea of such participation takes me way outside my comfort zone. I find it hard to think on my feet preferring the written word where I can carefully consider what I say before committing it to public scrutiny. Nevertheless, the opportunity to talk about excellent books that too often fly under readers’ radars was too good to pass over.

Never having attempted anything like this before I was unsure what to expect. I was told that I would be asked about my blog and then invited to talk about one book I would recommend to listeners. I submitted half a dozen suggestions and Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill, published by Lightning Books, was selected. I duly wrote out the words that I wished to say as a script and practised reading it out loud. When I arrived at the studio in Swindon I was gently told it would sound obvious that I was reading and I should simply talk to the show’s host, answering his questions as in a conversation.

Back home my children were primed to record the show that I may listen to it afterwards. They also picked up this 15 second ‘coming soon’ announcement a half hour or so before. How strange it is to hear my name mentioned in this context.

In Swindon the segment got under way and I was asked about how I started book blogging, how I selected the books I read and my opinion on ereaders. James Thomas, the show’s lovely host, was doing his best to put me at ease. I managed a shout out to small publishers: Galley Beggar, Influx and Salt Publishing.

We then moved on to the discussion of the book selected – Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill. Sadly I did not do it justice. The inspired concept and nuances of structure and presentation did not come across in the words I managed to extract from my nervous brain. Could do better would be on my report card.

To finish I was asked to mention the books I was currently reading. John Boyne’s A Ladder to the Sky was successfully recalled but I didn’t include the title of Patrick Gale’s new book – Take Nothing With You. I then got my blog address wrong (doh!). I truly struggle to think on my feet.

If you wish to listen to my performance it is here (lasts just under 9 minutes).

The plan is to run this segment on BBC Wiltshire every Monday afternoon throughout the summer with a different book featured each week. I have been invited back next Monday to discuss a non fiction book and have suggested Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers, published by Elliot & Thompson. I am delighted that my local radio is talking about books. Wish me luck in rising to the challenge and learning to enjoy the experience.

Random Musings: On why I am withdrawing from blog tours

Have you noticed that blog tours are becoming ever more ubiquitous? Of course I get why they are a thing. While the organiser will be paid, most book bloggers review for free. By tying them into a blog tour the publisher can rely on a book being promoted across social media at a time of their choosing. Review copies sent out do not get lost amidst the ever growing piles of books to be read by reviewers. From the publisher’s point of view harnessing book bloggers, who already have an audience interested in finding their next good read, makes perfect sense.

Recently however I have cut back on my commitment to tours. Much as I remain eager to work with publishers on promoting good books, I have encountered issues that have, at times, been stressful. In this post I share some of my experiences and attempt to explain my reasons for choosing to limit my involvement in blog tours, for the time being at least.

The initial contact from a publisher’s designated organiser is an invitation to take part. Due to busy schedules these invitations are typically sent out many weeks in advance, often before the book is available to read even as an ARC. Decisions must be made based on a brief synopsis designed to sell the book.

If I agree to participate I will sometimes request author content for my stop on the tour. I will email my interview questions or ideas for a guest post within a few days of accepting the invitation, to allow time for responses to be put together. Very occasionally I agree to host content that I will receive blind. This has only been an issue for me when what was provided turned out not to be original, making me feel I may as well have hosted a link to wherever it first appeared – this is not what I want on my blog.

A good blog tour organiser will ensure a copy of the book is sent out well in advance – several weeks before the tour starts. As I require a hard copy, problems with print runs can delay this. So long as I am kept updated I will always do my best to accommodate. I have never yet missed my stop on a blog tour but am obviously happier when not reading under pressure.

As books also get lost in the post, more often than seems reasonable but this is a thing, I will chase if I don’t receive my review copy, a situation that is frustrating for everyone involved. Were I not committed to a tour non-delivery of a promised book would be an irritation but not a concern.

As the tour date approaches I look to the organiser to email a digital copy (.jpg) of the book cover, author photo and blog tour flyer. Ideally the latter will include the hashtag they wish to use. It takes time and effort to prepare any blog post and this increases if covers and author pictures must be searched for on the web where image quality and usage can be problematic.

I generally have my blog posts prepared and scheduled at least a week in advance. Receipt of any author content is required to allow for this. If I am listed on a tour flyer and have nothing to post it reflects badly on my blog. I have had to chase for content many times but have only been entirely let down once.

I have numerous examples of reviews, interviews and guest posts on my blog and assume the organiser is happy with my format and writing style or they would not have invited me to participate. I will always post honestly – integrity matters to me. I wouldn’t have accepted the book had I not expected to enjoy reading it. Nevertheless, some books disappoint and I will not pretend otherwise.

While the blog tour is running I will try to share other participant’s posts. I never share a post I have not read and lose interest if there is too much repetition across the tour. How much I share also depends on the time I have available to seek out and read. For the long blog tours – some last for weeks – I will likely only manage to share a fraction of the stops.

There have been tours where my participating post, even when positive, has been ignored by author, publisher and organiser. My fellow book bloggers are always generous in sharing content but I expect some interest from those who benefit more directly.

Some have suggested that negative reviews have no place on a blog tour and bloggers should withdraw rather than post anything but praise. Late withdrawal strikes me as reneging on an agreement. Such action would also dilute the worth of the tour. Why would a reader click on multiple posts about a book that are known to have been filtered in this way?

Whilst my enthusiasm for tours has been subdued recently the main reason I have cut back on participation is the limit it places on my flexibility to choose the books I read. By filling my schedule with agreed dates I commit myself to particular titles, most of which I have not yet received at the point of commitment.

For publishers reading this post it is worth remembering that, whether or not I am taking part in a tour for a book, if I am sent a review copy I will do my best to read it in a timely manner and then share whatever publicity it receives from multiple sources. Once I have posted my own review I will share other’s thoughts on the title, whatever they may be. I blog about books to make readers aware that they exist, to share the book love.

Do other bloggers enjoy taking part in blog tours? I love talking about books but, for now, desire greater freedom to read titles of my choosing, in an order that suits me. I am, after all, more likely to react positively to a book if it is the one I feel like reading at a given time.

Book Review: The Book of Forgotten Authors

The Book of Forgotten Authors, by Christopher Fowler, is a book for bibliophiles. It offers the reader details and anecdotes on ninety-nine authors who were once hugely popular and are now no longer in print. It is a very personal selection. The author admits that some of those chosen produced work that was predictable and not particularly well written, yet it has a charm that he finds appealing. Others he dismisses. Of Georgette Heyer and Eleanor Hibbert he opines that they wrote novels packaged in

“the kind of pastel covers no man would ever pick up.”

Really?

Each author listed is necessarily given just a few pages. Although superficial this is enough to provide a flavour of why they became popular before sinking into obscurity. Interspersed with the listings are commentaries such as ‘The Forgotten Books of Charles Dickens’ and ‘The Forgotten Booker Winners’. Although esoteric in places these make for interesting reading.

From some of the quotes provided I would suggest many of these authors deserve to stay forgotten, yet this reaction demonstrates just how personal individual reading experiences can be. In talking of the suspense writer Charlotte Armstrong:

“sometimes you want to wring the necks of her protagonists for picking the one option that will get them into deeper trouble. But hey, bad choices make good stories.”

I’m not sure that I agree.

The book is written with a deft and humorous touch. It is also moving in places. The chapter on Polly Hope was a particular favourite.

It is not so much the quality of the literature produced by these forgotten authors as their passing popularity that warrants their inclusion. Tastes change over time as do readers’ offence radars; authors can be sidelined when their evocative voice grates modern sensibilities.

I did not always agree with the conclusions the author reaches. The Forgotten Queens of Suspense opens with

“Ignored, underrated, overlooked or taken for granted, the women who wrote popular fiction for a living were often simply grateful to be published at all.”

This sounded familiar. The author is more generous suggesting

“Today women read more than men, and female authors have finally been accorded the prestige they always deserved.”

If only this were truly the case.

The output of many of the authors listed was prodigious, especially compared to current expectations. Like today some was also abtruse. Thomas Love Peacock is described as an acquired taste, seemingly for good reason. In writing of his tome Nightmare Abbey:

“it seems best to stumble from one page to the next and merely enjoy the juxtaposition of words”

“the book doesn’t so much end as stop. My paperback version is so old that some of the pages fell out, and it didn’t feel entirely necessary to put them back in the right order.”

Do authors such as this deserve a reprint?

There are scathing comments about readers who are described as ‘intellectually inert’. As an example, the author clearly dislikes the once popular little book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. When a teenager I found this uplifting. Perhaps my more jaded, aged eye would not agree but at the time of reading it did its job and connected.

The author writes kinder words on the renowned Dan Brown:

“The real sin of bad writing is being boring, and Mr Brown is certainly never that.”

Well, he bored me.

Of course, agreeing with the author’s point of view is not the point. What this book offers is a window into the vagaries of the publishing world and its readership, the changing tastes and fickle loyalties. It is packaged in a way that makes it perfect for dipping into and refering back to over time.

I welcomed the insights into the ever evolving literary world, its discoveries and appropriations, pretensions and fads. So much has changed and yet much remains the same. As a great author, who has not been forgotten, once wrote: a man is not dead while his name is still spoken. For these ninety-nine, Mr Fowler could be a lifesaver.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the author, riverrun.

This post is a stop on The Book of Forgotten Authors Blog Tour. Do check out the other blogs taking part, detailed below.

Gig Review: Headline’s 2017 Blogger Night

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(photo credit: Georgina Moore, taken from Twitter)

Yesterday I travelled up to London, always a major undertaking for me, to attend a gathering of authors, publicists, bloggers and other book people, organised and hosted by Headline Publishing. It was held on the top floor of their riverside headquarters, Carmelite House, and was my second visit to the building. On this occasion the bitterly cold weather kept everyone inside enjoying the warmth and ambience rather than braving the views from the rooftop terrace.

I had taken my daughter, Robyn (@LeFailFish), as social events can make me anxious and I valued her support. Having collected our name stickers from Jenny (@jrharlow) in the foyer we made our way up to the sixth floor.

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The always lovely Georgina Moore (@PublicityBooks) ensured throughout the evening that everyone felt welcome and included. She introduced us to several of the authors whose books we were able to take away.

I chatted to Alison Weir (@AlisonWeirBooks) about her fascination with the Tudors and the medieval period and now look forward to reading my proof of her latest installment in the Six Tudor Queens series, Anne Boleyn, due out in May. New insights and secrets are promised although Alison ensured that only teasers, not spoilers, were shared last night.

I had a lovely conversation with Gemma Todd (@GemTodd) before realising that this personable librarian is also the author of Defender, which I had spotted early on the book table and eagerly popped into my bag for future reading. This was a popular choice for many attendees.

defender

Felicia Yap (@FeliciaMYap) and I discussed our love of Belfast where I was raised and now enjoy returning to as a tourist. Visit Belfast (@VisitBelfast) should totally get Felicia to write a piece for them as her enthusism for the city was infectious. Felicia’s debut, Yesterday, is due out in August and I will be hoping for a proof when available.

Copies of Pendulum were also tempting readers on the book table and I had been advising everyone to pick up this taut thriller, a proof of which I read last summer. I was therefore delighted to meet the author, Adam Hamdy (@adamhamdy) and tell him how much I enjoyed his work. He was chatting to a group of bloggers about setting and how he visits each place featured in his story rather than relying on long distance research.

pendulum

Meeting other bloggers is always fascinating as we all write for the love of books but often have different perspectives on what we do and how we are recieved. I was particularly pleased to meet Linda (@Lindahill50Hill), Tina (@TripFiction) and John (@Thelastword1962) all of whose reviews are worth checking out.

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Adam, John, Linda and Tina (photo credit: Georgina Moore, taken from Twitter)

There were many other authors, bloggers, publicists, librarians and book sellers enjoying the company and the freely flowing wine. I could have stayed on to pick up writing tips and share book recommendations but, as ever with my trips to the capital, I had a train to catch if I was to make it home. The roads around our village are very dark at midnight – perhaps I read too many thrillers…

Thank you to the team at Headline for inviting me and for organising such a friendly, welcoming event. Also for my goody bag and the opportunity to add even more titles to my tottering TBR pile. Book people are the best.

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Note: hen is my own. In discussing recognition from Twitter pictures I had told John I would bring it to the evening. Next time he wants a live one.

 

Gig Review: The Inaugural Bath Book Bash

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There are many aspects of corporate culture that I was happy to leave behind when I resigned from my job in the IT department of a large, financial services company:

  • Team Building Days;
  • Ice Breaker Games;
  • Role Play;
  • Networking.

Why then did I choose to attend an event that would require me to walk alone into an unknown pub and introduce myself to strangers with whom I would be expected to mingle and chat for an evening? A couple of words explain all – book people. In my experience book people are lovely and the more of them I have in my life the better.

The inaugural Bath Book Bash was organised by  Jennifer Vennall, a writer and final year publishing student at Bath Spa University. Aided and abetted by Sam Missingham she had offered to help grow the concept of the Book Bash outside of London. If the number of people attending last night was anything to go by, this is a popular idea.

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The venue was The Bath Brew House and they had set aside an area near their entrance which was quickly filled by authors, publishers, creative writing and publishing students, their teachers, and a large number of people I didn’t have time to place. After introducing myself and chatting to several of the early attendees I found myself in authors’ corner where, despite feeling a bit of a fraud, the conversation proved too interesting to leave. Thank you RachelLucy and Jason for your company.

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As well as talking to these authors, I enjoyed conversations with several of the students and a representative of a previously unknown publishing house, Crimson, based in Bath. Another house I have worked with, Impress, were also there but my inability to hear well across a crowded table in a noisy pub prevented me engaging.

I discovered another writer I would have enjoyed chatting to as I was leaving to catch my train. Thank you for saying hi Joanne and apologies that I had to rush away.

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There is obviously scope for a repeat performance. I am unsure if there were any other book bloggers but I felt welcome and a part of the community.

Jennifer is hopeful that another Book Bash will happen in Bath in January. All being well I shall do my best to attend.