Friday, 10 October 2014

Books Are My Bag Launch 2014

Last night, the 2014 Books Are My Bag campaign kicked off with a fantastic launch event at the new flagship Foyles Store, Charing Cross Road. Boasting a stock of over 800,000 books, the iconic building was the perfect location to host this celebration of books and bookshops.

Dame Gail Rebuck, Chair of the Penguin Random House UK board, welcomed the guests, proclaiming the evolution of BAMB from its earnest beginnings as a  ‘campaign’ last year, to a serious and significant ‘movement’, thanks to the support of booksellers, publishers, authors and readers.
Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel author, charmed the crowd with her anecdotal experiences as an author, as she reminded guests of the magic of a bookshop and its important place in a community.

Finally, Tim Walker, president of the Booksellers Association, closed the speeches with a heartfelt thank you to those who have supported the campaign, listing the numerous events going on across the country in support of BAMB this weekend. These include: a stand- up for Bookshops comedy event featuring event featuring Jenny Éclair, Sara Pascoe and Robin Ince at Foyles and 100’s of “meet the author” in-store events at chain and independent bookshops across the country.

Adding to the excitement, on Saturday 11 October, high street bookshops will be throwing Big Bookshop Parties to support the campaign and limited edition tote bags designed by award-winning British artist, Tracey Emin, will also be on sale. The iconic Books Are My Bag orange tote will also be on sale and leading children’s illustrators across the country have teamed up to help publicise this year’s campaign by re-drawing some of the UK’s best-loved children’s characters with the tote.
Pictures courtesy of Books Are My Bag

The launch also saw the release of The Bookshop Book, Jen Campbell’s sequel to Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, which features 50 UK bookshops. She will be attempting an ambitious world-record breaking most-bookshops-in-a-day tour of London on October 11.

My colleague and I are very grateful to the Books Are My Bag team for our invitation to Thursday’s launch and for putting on such a delightful celebration of what should remain at the heart of our publishing industry – books and bookshops.

For more information on events, visit

Monday, 6 October 2014

Leigh Russell - Race to Death Blog Tour

Today I am very excited to be hosting the first stop on the Leigh Russell Race to Death blog tour.

Leigh Russell is a prolific writer who, best known for her Geraldine Steel series, is a bestselling author in print and eBook format. Race to Death is the second title in Leigh Russell's latest series featuring newly promoted DI Ian Peterson. Rather than writing a review today, I am delighted to be able to share with you a feature post written by Leigh.

Considering that Leigh has been a published author for a number of years, and that I am very new to the publishing world, I wanted to take advantage of Leigh's experience with this feature. I am constantly being told that the industry has been completely overhauled in recent years thanks to the digital revolution. Therefore, for this blog tour stop, I asked Leigh Russell to tell me a bit about how the world of publishing has evolved in her eyes since she began writing. Here's what she had to say:

My own personal writing process has changed almost beyond recognition over the past six years. To begin with I wrote longhand, in pencil. The first draft of Cut Short was written with no plans for the future. I had no idea anyone else would ever read it, let alone publish it. Certainly it certainly never occurred to me that it would become the first in a long running bestselling series, nominated for major awards and reaching number 1 on kindle. At that stage I was writing just for myself. Nine books on, I have abandoned handwriting in favour of typing my manuscripts. It's much faster, which is just as well as I'm now delivering two manuscripts a year to my publisher. The other big change is that I now write for my readers, not for myself.

            The world of publishing has also undergone huge changes, which are ongoing. When my debut, Cut Short, first came out in paperback, in 2009 a fellow author suggested I ask my publisher to bring it out as an ebook as well. At that time, I had heard of ebooks but wasn't quite sure what they were... The ebook duly came out about six months after the paperback and that happened again in 2010 with Road Closed. By the time Dead End was published in 2011, the ebook and print book were published at the same time. Sales of my books are huge on kindle, with all of them reaching the Top 10, and one even hitting the coveted number 1 spot. Sales figures of my print books are not quite so high, and that seems to be a trend throughout the publishing industry. I do wonder where books sales will go next.

            Another change that has come about due to the internet is that it is now possible for readers to contact authors directly. A day never passes now without my receiving an email via my website, or a DM on facebook or twitter, from a fan of Geraldine Steel or Ian Peterson. It's lovely to hear from readers all around the world, and I always respond as promptly as I can. This is a bonus that simply didn't exist for authors just a few years ago.

            My life as an author has changed so much since Cut Short came out in 2009. Who knows what further changes are in store for us?

A very interesting question indeed, one that is both exciting and daunting for someone just starting out in the industry! Although the digital changes in publishing pose lots of challenges to publishers and authors, they also offer a lot of opportunities and you can read something I wrote a while back about the new author-publisher-reader relationship here.

I'm very grateful to Leigh for taking the time to share her experience as an author with me. For more about her books and upcoming events visit . For more feature posts like this, visit
To purchase Race To Death click here

The Blog Tour

The next stop on the Race To Death blog tour is Our Book Reviews and you can check out the rest of the blog tour schedule below:

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Her by Harriet Lane

Unfortunately the constant rush of the 'real-world' in which I appear to have found myself, has caused me to neglect this blog terribly over the past few weeks. I'm hoping to post a whole host of reviews and features this week to make up for it!

First up is a book that I recently read before attending my very first Elle Book Club event (thanks to my colleague, Frances, for hooking me up with a ticket!)

The book in question was Her by Harriet Lane and the Book Club took place in the very swanky indoor courtyard at The Hoxton, London. I always find it a thrill to listen to authors talk about their work as I find it so fascinating to discover what their intentions were when writing the book and how they hope for readers to respond (and then, more interestingly, whether my response actually matched their hopes!). Having found Her an extremely intriguing read, I enjoyed listening to Lane read three passages from the novel before answering questions about its conception.

First of all, let me tell you a little bit about the book. Her tells a story of two women whose paths cross many years after their first meeting. As mothers and wives, they lead distinctly different adult lives, yet they are somehow connected in a dark and sinister fate. What begins as a very simple and domestic setting is given a cutting, unsettling edge, as one of them - harbouring a deep grudge - attempts to wreak havoc on the life of the other.

The 'thrilling' aspect of this 'psychological thriller' comes from the way in which Lane builds tension through the alternating perspectives of the chapters and the reader's sense of unknown. To tell you a more detailed account of the plot would therefore be to rob you of the experience of reading it!

Listening to Harriet Lane talk about Her, it was clear that her intention was subtlety. In fact, she explained that the book wasn't about creating a complicated, clichéd story, but it was about playing on the ordinary person's worst fears. Lane even explains this within the text of the novel, where a certain passage of the narrative highlights the fact that over-contrived climaxes of stories can't possibly accurately reflect life.

It's in its subtlety, then, that Her succeeds in its ambition; to unease, to unsettle and to intrigue. I finished the novel feeling confused and troubled by the female relationship that had been presented to me, so I think Lane achieved her desired response from me as a reader, and, although it wasn't the most pleasant of reads, I appreciated the courage and honesty of writing something so close to potential reality. Lane explained that she considered it an act of flattery to not tie up the story into one neat, contained ending. For her, it is the reader who should choose what comes next in the book. I suppose to decide that for yourself, you'll have to read it first.