Monthly Archives: June 2013

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Independent Booksellers Week

From the 29th June until the 6th July over 360 bookshops around the UK are taking part in Independent Booksellers Week (IBW), a week-long celebration of independent bookshops, organised by The Booksellers Association (BA), the national trade association for booksellers in the UK.

Independent Booksellers’ Week is part of the IndieBound campaign for independent bookshops, which promotes the idea of shopping locally and sustainably and highlights the stark issues facing bricks and mortar bookselling.

Authors across the country will be taking part in AuthorFest, a series of high profile talks and events encouraging British book lovers to support their local bookshops. Bestselling writers including Antony Beevor, Kate Mosse, Rachel Joyce, Ann Widdecombe, Richard Madeley, Deborah Moggach, Kate Humble, Jack Straw, Malorie Blackman and Ruth Ozeki will be visiting bookshops to discuss why they matter so much to them and the valuable role that to play. Events include:

* Kate Mosse – Sarratt Village Hall (Chorleywood Bookshop), Tuesday 2nd July, 7.30pm

* Antony Beevor – Dulwich Bookshop, Tuesday 2nd July, 7pm

* Rachel Joyce – The Shire Hall, Monmouth (Rossiter Books), Thursday 4th July, 7pm

* Deborah Moggach -Jaffe & Neale, Chipping Norton, Monday 1st July, 6.30pm

* Richard Madeley – City Books, East Sussex, Thursday 4th July, 5.30pm

* Kate Humble – Sussex Produce Company (Steyning Bookshop), Wednesday 3rd July, 7pm

* Ruth Ozeki – Jaffe and Neale Bookshop, Chipping Norton, Wednesday 3rd July, 6.30pm

* Jack Straw – Watford Grammar School for Boys (Chorleywood Bookshop), Monday 1st July, 7.30pm

* Malorie Blackman – Jewish Free School, Kingsbury (Bookworm Bookshop), Friday 5th July

Parents will have the chance to help their children discover more about their local independent bookshops with a series of interactive events across the country. Bloomsbury Children’s Publishing have created a unique Illustrator-in-Residence project, with eight of their top illustrators will be volunteering their skills and becoming ‘illustrators in residence’ in their local bookshops during the Week. Over the course of the week each of the illustrators will visit a number of shops in their local area, holding workshops, storytelling sessions and designing window displays. Catch the illustrators at these bookshops: Under the Greenwood Tree, Clapham; Foyles Bristol; David’s Bookshop, Letchworth Garden City; Bags of Books; Lewes, East Sussex; Book Nook, Hove; Stanfords, Bristol; Wenlock Books, Much Wenlock; Seven Stories, Newcastle Upon Tyne; The Mainstreet Trading Company, St Boswell’s; Blackwell’s Bookshop, Edinburgh.

Over 110 bookshops will be orchestrating a series of Where’s Wally hunts, with Wally hiding in local businesses in towns throughout the country. Culminating in a grand ceremony with fantastic prizes to be won, it’s the perfect opportunity to energise the whole family whilst celebrating the importance of local businesses to communities. The biggest hunt so far has been organised by the Fable bookshop in Abergavenny, which has got 23 businesses involved including the local museum, library and tourist information centre.

To find out more visit the website:

Geeky Reads: Books by Geeks, about Geeks and for everyone!

Sarra Manning: Adorkable
Susie Day: Serafina67/Big Woo
John Green: The Fault in Our Stars
John Green: Looking for Alaska
Keris Stainton: Della Says OMG
Sean Cummings: Poltergeeks
Andy Robb: Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind & Geekhood: Mission Improbable
Tom Clempson: The Adventures of Jack Samsonite
Dave Cousins: 15 Days Without a Head & Waiting for Gonzo
C.J. Skuse: Rockoholic
Luisa Plaja: Diary of a Mall Girl & Kiss Date Love Hate
Holly Smale: Geek Girl
Ellie Phillips: Dads, Geeks and Blue Haired Freaks & Scissors, Sisters & Manic Panics
Cindy Benentt: Geek Girl
Leah R. Miller The Summer I Became a Nerd
Tom Angleberger The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, The Secret of the Fortune Wookie, The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet

Brock by Anthony McGowan

brockLife’s not easy for Nicky. His mum’s gone, his dad’s on bail, and his brother Kenny needs looking after like a little kid.

When Kenny drags Nicky out of bed ne dark morning, Nicky has no idea that he is about to witness a terrible act of destruction, and the senseless killing of an innocent animal. But Nicky manages to save something precious from the disaster, and his and Kenny’s lives are changed forever…

Brock could so easily have been depressing; it has all the hallmarks of misery lit – two brothers in a single-parent household being looked after by an unemployed, depressed father facing potential jail time. Lives blighted by poverty and bullies and, in the opening chapters, trapped into a brutal , illegal act that could ruin their lives.

Except that it isn’t. Depressing that is – it is so much more! Brock is a novel about bravery, family love and hope.

With an opening chapter reminiscent of Watership Down, Brock plunges into what I have heard described as Kestrel for a Knave but with badgers. I haven’t read Kestrel… or seen the film (Kes) but after reading Brock I have ordered a copy that I will read and hopefully do a comparative review of both.

Nicky is our narrator and it is through his actions that the story unfolds. Juggling his responsibilities as an older brother and trying to do what he knows is right after he and Kenny get involved with the local bullies when they go badger baiting.

Nicky is an archetypal teen stuck between trying to do what is right and the law all the while trying to keep his brother safe and the whole thing a secret from his father, the bullies and everyone else. Anthony McGowan gives a wonderful story of familial love and a positive representation of a dad who is trying to do his best for his sons as well as trying to be a good role-model.

Brock was brilliant I loved it, the only complaint that I have is that is it is too quick read but even this adds to the power of the story!

Midsummer Night's Dreaming

The Royal Shakespeare Company has worked with some brilliant bods at Google to bring to digital life Midsummer Night’s Dreaming, an interactive digital theatre project. This weekend, alongside a classic performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a parallel play will be acted out online, with help from Internet thespians around the world.

The complete play will be performed from the 21st – the 23rd

You can follow A Midsummre Night’s Dreaming here:

or take part digitally here:

There is no need to reread the play beforehand (although you can if you want to) as a video refresher is available here:

If you have time to spare you can hear the play read out in full (courtesy of Librivox)

Everything the RSC characters share and everything you share will be added to the wider event!

So if you share photos or video or words tagged #Dream40 (and it’s not naughty), they will show it there.

There are streams from +PUCK, from the public, and from all the new characters and blogs that have been created. You won’t miss a thing.

If you’re on the road and want to catch up then the stage works just as well on your phone or tablet. Or if you are a Google+ user you can also follow the cast via a shared circle.

If you miss it they will be sharing a curated timeline of events for 18 months after the show.

The show will start at 8pm on Friday 21st June.

Teen Reading Group Campaign

Reading Groups for Everyone a project run by the reading Agency is running a campaign to get people enthused about Teenage Reading Groups.

Until the 29th June there will be daily competitions to win reading group sets of books and author visits so keep checking the site for new competitions and information.

Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize 2013 writing contest

Short Story Day Africa 2013 : 21st June

Short Story Day Africa brings together writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, teachers and school children from all over the globe to write, submit, read, workshop and discuss stories – and to foster the love of reading and writing African fiction.

When Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie addressed the TED Conference in 2009, she spoke of the danger of the single story, a distorted, one-dimensional view of Africa that sees the continent through a prism of war, disease, poverty, starvation and corruption. Short Story Day Africa has established a day – 21st June, the shortest day or night of the year – on which to celebrate the diversity of Africa’s voices and tell you who we really are; what we love; love to eat, read, write about. We want to bring you the scents on our street corners and the gossip from our neighbours, and to let you listen to strains of the music that get us dancing. Short Story Day Africa exists because we have something to tell the world. About us. In our own voices.

What’s New?
The project is in its third year and has grown substantially since 2011. We continue to have the support of the African writing community, and more writers are reaching out and holding workshops to share their knowledge. We’ve partnered with Worldreader and Paperight to bring out a Kids anthology comprising the best of their efforts, as well as an adult collection of fifteen stories harvested from the entries into our Feast, Famine and Potluck writing competition. Thus bringing us closer to one of our aims: to give writers – established and emerging, young and old – a platform for their work.

The Impact
Literacy! By running competitions and workshops in schools and beyond, we foster a love of writing that leads to a love of reading. Perhaps we inspire the next Chimamanda. Also, we hope, the promotion of African fiction as we like to tell it.

Where We Are
Follow us on Twitter @shortstoryAFR and on Facebook : Short Story Day Africa

The support we’ve garnered from the writing community and beyond is evident in our prize sponsorships. 2013 prizes are sponsored by BooksLive, NB Publishers, All About Writing, Erotica sensation Helena S. Paige, Louis Greenberg, SL Grey, The Caine Prize, Modjaji Books, Botsotso and Heart & Soul Photography.

See website for full details of competitions.

Feast, Famine & Potluck (over 18) – Original unpublished stories, in any genre, inspired by our theme. 1st Prize R2000 + Writing course plus Word count: 3000 – 5000 words. Deadline 30th June 2013.

• Fairy tales, Myths & Legends Reimagined (17 and under) – Take any fairy tale, myth, fable or legend and reimagine it. Parents and teachers can download workshop packs from the website. Great fiction titles to be won in all categories. Age 9 and under, 900 words or less; Ages 10-13, 500-1200 words, Ages 14-17, 500-1200 words. Deadline 15th July 2013.

Spine Stories (All ages) – Assemble a story from the titles on your book shelf. Snap a pic. Twitpic it @benrwms @shortstoryAFR with hashtags #shortstorydayafrica #spinestory .
Ends 30th June 2013.

Story Submissions
In the month of June we will publish short stories from some of Africa’s most talented writers. Stories will simultaneously be published across Worldreader Mobile to over half a million readers, giving writers the opportunity to grow their fanbase. See website for submission guidelines.

Who is behind Short Story Day Africa?

Rachel Zadok was raised in Johannesburg. In 2001, she escaped a career in advertising to become a writer, which she describes as being a little like running away to join the circus without the safety net. In 2005, she was a runner-up in the Richard & Judy How to Get Published Competition and her first novel, Gem Squash Tokoloshe, was published by Pan Macmillan later that year. Gem Squash Tokoloshe went on to be shortlisted for The Whitbread First Novel Award and The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and longlisted for the IMPAC award. She launched Short Story Day Africa in 2011, an initiative to highlight African fiction. Her writing has appeared in the Observer, The Jewish Chronicle, The Independent and, the 2012 Caine Prize Anthology. Rachel’s second novel, Sister-Sister (Kwela Books) was published in April 2013. She lives in Cape Town with her husband and daughter, and occasionally blogs.
Tiah Marie Beautement is the author of the novel Moons Don’t Go to Venus. Shorter works have appeared in various publications, including two anthologies: The Edge of Things and Wisdom Has a Voice. She lives on the Garden Route with her husband, two children, Orwell the dog and five chickens all named Eva.

Colleen Higgs is a writer and a publisher. She launched Modjaji Books (, an independent press for southern African women writers, in 2007. She has two published collections of poems, Halfborn Woman (2004) and Lava Lamp Poems (2011). In 2012, her first collection of short stories, Looking for Trouble was published. She lives in Cape Town with her daughter.

Booklist: YA Diary Fiction

A selection of YA diary fiction.

Absolutely Normal Chaos – Sharon Creech
The Adrian Mole Diaries – Sue Townsend
Confessions of Georgia Nicolson – Louise Rennison
Dear Dumb Diary – Jim Benton
Diary of a Chav – Grace Dent
Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jef Kinney
Diary of an (Un)Teenager – Pete Johnson
Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey – Margaret Peterson Haddix
Dork Diaries – Rachel Renee Russell
Go Ask Malice: A Slayer’s Diary – Robert Joseph Levy
Love Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli
Mackenzie Blue – Tina Wells
My Story series – various authors
Spud – John van de Ruit
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
The Adventures of Jack Samsonite – Tom Clempson
The Carbon Diaries – Saci Lloyd
The Demigod Diaries – Rick Riordan
The Donut Diaries of Dermot Mulligan – Anthony McGowan
The Moth Diaries – Rachel Klein
The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot
The Vampire Diaries – L.J. Smith
Witch Child – Celia Rees
Z for Zachriah – Robert C. O’Brien

Created with flickr slideshow.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Every four years two children are stolen away from Gavaldon, never to return. Most children fear being taken to the School for Good and Evil. But not Sophie…
She has dreamt all her life of being a princess and believes the school could be her chance.
Her friend Agatha has other ideas.
When the two girls are taken, things don’t quite go to Sophie’s plan.
Because sometimes, the princess and the witch don’t look like they do in fairytales.

This book…
Sophie and Agatha are as different as night and day, Where Sophie is blonde and fair and does her best to look perfect, Agatha is dark of hair, lives in a cemetery and does her best to discourage everyone but they are best friends.

Good in pink. Evil in black. The School Master’s perfect pair.

Look, going by the blurb you just know what is going to happen are taken to the school, but what happens after – that is what makes this book fantastic!

The School for Good and Evil is dark, funny and entertaining. It asks the question how far will people go to achieve their dreams and forces the reader think about the nature of good and evil, prejudice, choice and predestination versus free will. It is quite a lot for a novel for young readers and what is more, it does it excellently!

Shining a light on to the characters that populate fairy tales is a brilliant idea, good may be good and evil may be evil but neither are very nice.

A wonderful tale, artfully told – I recommend it unreservedly!

The New Children's Laureate is… Malorie Blackman

Catching up with UK news while in the USA and I find out that one of my favourite YA authors is the new Children’s Laureate

Congratulations Malorie!