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Fermenting Fiction

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Did you know that the Bloody Mary is rumoured to have been named by Ernest Hemingway? Just one of the exciting and, ahem, educational facts you could learn upon purchasing this book. Reminiscent of another A&B favourite, Tequila Mockingbird (see Lesley’s blog post here ), To Have and Have Another is cocktail connoisseur Philip Greene’s […]

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A View from the Top

Friday, March 28th, 2014

I recently put aside my fairly sizable fear of heights and ventured up The Shard, London’s latest tourist attraction. Everything in the building is very dark and glossy, and I felt uncouth just being in the reception. The viewing platform is on floor 69, with access up to floor 74 via stairs. I was a […]

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The Godfather of Fonts

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

‘The Godfather of Fonts’. It’s a snappy title, don’t you think, though I wonder whether Mike Parker, who died in February this year, liked the moniker. You probably encounter Parker’s work fifty times a day: he was the man who adapted and promulgated the font that became known as Helvetica. The typeface with its unfussy […]

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Wednesday Cover Story: Go Big or Go Home

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

At this time of year we’re busy with preparations for the London Book Fair: finalising appointments, consulting the seminar schedule for interesting topics and, my favourite, planning on how we can make our stand look stunning. A big part of that are the posters that will adorn the stand, giving those wandering the aisles of […]

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Get a bouquet from that book

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

It’s often said that our sense of smell is the most powerful and evocative sense, able to transport us back in time and to different locations in the whiff of a scent. So, excepting what I’ve found among the output of some children’s publishers, has the book trade been missing out on a trick not […]

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Hwæt! Beowulf’s back again?

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Beowulf, as the oldest work of English literature, has done the rounds. Whether or not you enjoy ploughing through Old English vernacular, its dragons, mead halls and monsters certainly set a precedent in terms of the word ‘epic’. With translations and interpretations from the great (Seamus Heaney) to the terrible ((yet hilarious) 2007 film starring Ray […]

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The characters are invading

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Which fictional characters in your opinion have lived on far beyond the turn of the last page of a book, or the scroll of the credits on the small or silver screen? BBC Radio 4 is investigating the power of character and letting a number take over with a day’s programming and free events next […]

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Six Degrees of Literary Separation

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Who doesn’t love Angela Lansbury?  I adore her in everything from Bedknobs & Broomsticks to Murder She Wrote, and I’m hoping to catch her during her run as Madame Arcati in Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre in London. There is an interesting interview with her in the current issue of The Lady, and […]

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Wednesday Cover Story: Great things come in pairs

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Great things really do come in pairs, like the new Laurie R. King covers for A Monstrous Regiment of Women and A Letter of Mary. With one in print and the other now on the way, these beauties would look great on any bookshelf. I’m not normally one for pink covers but I think A […]

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Celebrating The Moomins

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

The Moomins was one of my favourite books and cartoons as a child so I was interested to see that this year Finland is celebrating the centenary of the birth of Tove Jansson, its creator. A few childhood books are a little more troublesome than others, though no less great. I think that The Moomins […]

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Literary grudge match

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Literary fans can be as ardent (read: cut-throat) as any football supporter. Which is why I was slightly gutted to belatedly hear about a starry event that pitted Jane Austen versus Charlotte Brontë. Intelligence Squared, a live and online forum for debate and discussion, hosted an evening last month, the first in their ‘literary combat’ […]

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Book Benches for the discerning reader

Friday, March 14th, 2014

It’s been a long week and as we approach the weekend, I bet you’re all looking forward to putting your feet up with a good book. Even better then if you could park yourself in the spring sunshine (here’s hoping for a repeat of last Sunday) on a bench designed like an open book. The […]

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How big is too big?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

The other week I was catching with a good friend who happens to be a bookseller in Blackwells. The subject of conversation turned to The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and mainly our astonishment at how young she is the have won the Booker. But my friend said something else that shocked me; people often come into […]

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Making books ‘pop’ for kids

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

I can’t be the only person to have been shocked to read the latest news about a reading cultural divide and the link between deprivation and not reading, can I? Obviously, considering where I’ve ended up, I was a child who lived and breathed books, inhaling everything I could get my hands on, from Blyton […]

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A Cup of Tea and a Spritz?

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Spritzing. It is not the practise of drinking wine based cocktails, but rather what you might be doing instead of reading from now on. An American based software developer (Spritz) has developed a ‘speed reader app’, which promises to get us reading more quickly- potentially devouring a novel in less than 90 minutes. The developers […]

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International Women’s Day

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Saturday was International Women’s Day which, if you didn’t know, is an official holiday in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia and is traditionally a time when mothers, wives, girlfriends etc are honoured with flowers and gifts. Something akin to Mother’s Day. But it should go without saying that IWC is a heck of a […]

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Prince of Shadows competition winner announced

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Last month we were celebrating Valentine’s Day and Rachel Caine‘s latest release Prince of Shadows , a twist on the Romeo & Juliet tale, by giving away a host of goodies.  Feel free to coo over the image below. Thank you to all the people who entered to win the set, but there can only […]

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Cooking the Books

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

I’m currently reading a sneak preview of Jacqueline Winspear’s new book, The Care and Management of Lies, due for release in July this year (sorry to tempt you with it so early before the pub. date!). In it, Kezia Brissenden- a young and inexperienced farmer’s wife- discovers that despite lacking a traditional culinary education, her […]

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Spring is in the Air

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

We’re nearly three months into 2014 and I’ve noticed something great: the days are getting lighter. The air is still a bit chilly but my journey to and from work is no longer in the dark. So from this point onward it’s going to get warmer and brighter. There’s something wonderfully optimistic about spring; flowers […]

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All aboard the writer residencies

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

The idea of writers’ residencies isn’t new. Current programmes out there range from Gladstone’s Library to Hedgebrook which takes Virgina Woolf’s ‘a room of one’s own’ as it’s motto. While they might differ in focus, they generally seek to offer an environment that facilitates writing, perhaps along the lines of a writing retreat, a place […]

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