Archive for the ‘events’ Category

James Dawson’s ‘Say Her Name’ Book Launch: In Pictures

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend James Dawson’s book launch for his newest novel, Say Her Name. Being a massive fan of one of his previous books, Cruel Summer, I knew I had to be there. So, armed with my copy of CS, which I desperately wanted to get signed, I was heading to Islington to meet James and fellow book bloggers.

I met Zarina before the event and we made our way to Waterstones together. We were a tiny bit early so we had the chance to say hello to James, get our books signed AND grab a cupcake before the crowd arrived. (Mine happened to match my book’s cover. #madskillz)

My signed copy of James Dawson's Cruel Summer

Before the speeches began, we spotted Sabrina in the crowd (who has the cutest, most awesome tote bag and coin purse ever) so we had a little chat. I’ve been following her on Twitter for quite a while so it was lovely to finally meet her in the flesh. I also met the lovely Faye who, I think, is one of those few people who I’ve known pretty much since this blog exists but don’t seem to meet too often so it’s always great to see her. :)

Vicky from Books, Biscuits and Tea and Sabrina from I Have to Read That

Sabrina & me with James’ books

After we’ve been chatting and stuffing our faces with cupcakes for a while, James reappeared. Dressed as Bloody Mary, in tights, a kilt, a black wig, terrifying contact lenses and blood all over his face. And then the speeches began. I’ve never met James before last week but all I can say is, he’s such a genuinely lovely guy. He made all of us feel welcome and he was so, so funny. I’ve been to a few book launches in the past couple of months but this was definitely the most fun so far. :)

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Bloggiesta Spring 2014 – Goals

Bloggiesta 2014

Bloggiesta is back! If you haven’t seen my Bloggiesta posts some time last year and are wondering what it is exactly, it’s a blogging marathon between 27 and 30 March, 2014 revolving around ticking off those items on your to-do list and improving your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing.” Basically, four days of blogging and improving your blog (or writing those reviews you were supposed to finish weeks ago) in the virtual company of many other bloggers. It’s fun and it’s a great way to catch up on blogging tasks you’ve been meaning to do for a while.

I haven’t had as much time for my blog as I would have wanted recently so I decided to dedicate this weekend to Bloggiesta and FINALLY getting back on track.

My goals for this year’s Bloggiesta:

  • write all my unwritten reviews (about 3, I think)
  • update my contact and about me page
  • comment on other blogs
  • schedule blog posts for the next two weeks. That should give me some time to catch up on reading!
  • put together a media kit
  • come up with discussion and/or new feature ideas
  • try and think about a new blog template. I’m thinking about giving my blog a new look – not a complete makeover (I really like the colours and my header), just a new template maybe.
  • make my blog mobile friendly
  • participate in at least one Twitter chat

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Lucy Dillon’s Launch Party: In Pictures

The eagle eyed among you might have noticed that I haven’t been online too much in the past couple of days. The reason for that is that Hodder & Stoughton has invited me to the book launch of A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon, and when I wasn’t working or running errands I had my nose buried in the book, trying to finish it before Wednesday’s party.

So, on Wednesday afternoon, Zarina from Page to Stage Reviews and myself headed off to Central London to toast Lucy and her wonderful new novel in a gorgeous Edwardian bookshop, Daunt Books. Neither of us have been there before so we weren’t prepared for how stunning it is with its skylights and long galleries – it was definitely the perfect setting for such an event. Needless to say, we couldn’t resist sneaking upstairs with a glass of wine and taking a few pictures of the beautiful interior and the gathering crowd below us.

Lucy Dillon's launch party at Daunt Books Marylebone

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John Lewis Secret Santa Goodies

You might remember that I posted about the John Lewis Secret Santa Challenge that I was lucky enough to take part in this time last month. I received my presents nearly two weeks ago and I thought I’d show you what my Secret Santa chose me. :)

When I opened the first box I  found a big box of hot chocolates inside and was absolutely thrilled. I’m obsessed with hot chocolate and it’s one of my favourite hot beverages to drink while reading. And then literally an hour later two other boxes showed up. You can imagine my surprise as I honestly thought the hot choc selection was all I’d get! But it turns out it was only one third of a complete gift set.

John Lewis Secret Santa Challenge

John Lewis hot chocolate selectionJohn Lewis Annoushka Hot Water Bottle£20
Jolly Hot Chocolate Selection, £12.50

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John Lewis’s Secret Santa Challenge

Christmas

I know, I know. It’s not even December yet and here I am talking about Christmas. I can’t help it (and I know I’m not the only one). It’s my favourite time of the year and once the Halloween decorations are stored away at the end of October I’m ready for the Christmas holidays. What makes it even more exciting this year is that I’ve been chosen as one of the lucky bloggers who get to take part in the John Lewis Secret Santa Challenge.

I was thinking about signing up for a bookish Secret Santa last year but my December turned out to be a bit hectic and in the end I didn’t manage to do so. But I absolutely love looking for Christmas presents for friends and family and I love the idea of sending a lovely surprise to someone I don’t know (I mean, who doesn’t like browsing for presents and meeting new people online?) so I’m really looking forward to this one. :)

For this challenge, John Lewis will send me the details of another blogger early next week and I’ll have two days to research their blog – read their posts and get an idea of their personality – and choose a gift from a list provided by the John Lewis team. Once I’ve chosen the perfect gift (and enclosed a personal message to the blogger) JL will send it to them at the end of November and I’ll be able to show you what my Secret Santa gave me as well.

I. Can’t. Wait. *runs around in circles*

Are you guys participating in this challenge or any other Secret Santa this year? Or if you did it last year, what did you get? Would you sign up again?

European Blogger Meetup in Amsterdam: In Pictures

As you may remember from one of my previous posts, I – along with a couple of fellow European bloggers – headed to Amsterdam for a book blogger meetup/picnic two weeks ago. Since so many of you seemed interested in this impromptu event and I promised I’d show you some pictures of the city and the meeting itself, that is what I’m going to do today. :) Hurray!

One of Amsterdam's canals

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Crime: A Manifesto

Fiona Griffiths series

As part of my Crime Fiction Month feature, crime fiction writer Harry Bingham stopped by Books, Biscuits, and Tea to discuss what makes a good crime novel. And not only do we have a brilliant and thought-provoking discussion in store for you but – wait for it – courtesy of Orion Books, we have 10 copies of Harry’s first book, Talking to the Dead to give away. Sounds good? Then make sure to read on, join in the discussion and you may be one of our lucky winners. :)

What makes a perfect crime novel? Or rather, since the market moves on and we don’t want to re-write the great stories of the past, I should ask what makes a perfect crime novel of today?

I don’t pretend to have a universal answer – every reader (and, if it comes to that, every literary agent or publisher) will have their own. But here’s mine.

Character

We have to start with character. It’s impossible to name a really stand-out piece of detective fiction that doesn’t have an utterly compelling central character. Sherlock Holmes is, of course, the paradigm example, but you could throw in Poirot, or or Peter Wimsey, or Philip Marlowe, or Lisbeth Salander, or any number of others.

The classic detective is, of course, something of an outsider. A brilliant analyst of society without ever quite being part of it. Perhaps it’s corny, but I like that model. My own Fiona Griffiths is in recovery from a major (and strange) psychotic collapse. She’d love to belong to ‘Planet Normal’, but getting there, and staying there, is more of a challenge for her than solving crimes, no matter how dangerous or complex. There’s a way in which the Sherlock Holmes stories are nothing but a vehicle for the character. The same, I guess, is true of any tale that has Fiona Giffiths trampling through it.

And for that matter, I want detectives who have real lives. Romances, mysteries, problems, families, challenges. One of the beauties of the crime story is that there are so many series novels. They give writers an extraordinary chance to map someone over huge amounts of time, to devote a million words or more to a single life. Writers need to grab that opportunity and do something wonderful with it.

Reality

Love Sherlock Holmes though I do, his stories were often preposterous. The Red-Headed League, for heaven’s sake! Or the number of times that poisons, or serpents or secret societies, bred abroad, wreaked havoc amongst those Victorian/Edwardian domesticities. And in the world post-Chandler, I think that doesn’t work any more. For me, the society has to be broadly recognisable as our own. We need crimes that feel plausible, villains that feel realistic.

For that reason, I don’t really like those modern serial killer stories with strangely coded forms of murder, or any sort of sadism that just seems designed to generate nasty crimes for a detective to solve. That’s not to say we can’t flirt with the outrageous. Fiona Griffiths is not, by any means, a standard issue police officer, but for me at least, that’s one real departure from reality. It’s the one concession I demand from my reader.

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