Archive for February, 2013

Hard-hitting crime fiction from the Book People

Easter is soon coming up and many fiction fans around the country will be using the extended break to catch up on their reading. With crime novels and collections from bestselling and highly acclaimed authors available at our heavily discounted prices, the Book People has many titles to choose from. Why not delve into one of the following books and let us know what you thought of it via our review function? You’ll be influencing thousands of potential book buyers.

Scandinavian fiction has come to the forefront of the literary industry over the last few years and we have some of the best books from the genre available – at the best prices. Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy changed the face of crime fiction when The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was released in 2005 and the book has inspired not only a highly acclaimed Swedish fan starring Noomi Rapace in the lead role, but also a David Fincher-directed Hollywood blockbuster starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Our three-book set will let you read the whole saga from start to finish and you are sure to be gripped by the dark world of unhinged criminals the books transport you straight into. Jo Nesbo is another Scandinavian author who now has a hugely passionate worldwide fanbase and our six-book collection is the perfect way to acquaint yourself with the Norwegian’s creepy contemporary thrillers. With doses of humour thrown in for good measure, five of the books star his famous creation Harry Hole and subject matter ranges from the strange disappearances of wives and mothers to hitmen on the run. Headhunters, a book that does not feature Harry but was adapted into a popular film last year, is also included in the set.

One of the most popular authors in the world, James Patterson’s Alex Cross books are unputdownable and feature a complex but heroic detective and psychologist. This three-book collection finds Cross facing up to the deadliest psychopath of them all, dealing with two diabolical killers who plan to murder him and hot on the trail of someone intent on killing Hollywood’s elite A-list. Mark Billingham is a much-admired writer whose work has been lauded by the likes of Martina Cole and the three books featured here all revolve around the dark world of DI Tom Thorne. Extremely intriguing, the books will keep you guessing from start to finish.

Standalone hardback novels we have on offer include Sophie Hannah’s The Carrier, an intelligent psychological thriller where, after a flight delay, Gaby Struthers finds herself having to share a room with the terrified Lauren Cookson. When Lauren blurts out something about an innocent man going to prison for a murder he didn’t commit, Gaby soon learns the victim was the wife of the only man she’s ever truly loved… and Lauren’s presence on her flight is not a coincidence… The latest thriller featuring Kathryn Dance, Jeffrey Deaver’s XO tells the story of the obsessed fan of a beautiful singer-songwriter Kayleigh Towne and the shock murder of one of her crew. Kathryn gets drawn into the case and will have to use all her investigative skills to discover the truth. Packed with spectacular plot twists, this is a read full of richly developed characters and plenty of suspense.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Headhunters Harry Hole


Red House Children’s Book Award 2013 – the winners are announced!

The 29th Red House Children’s Book Award ceremony took place in London on Saturday and it was a wonderful way to round off the events at this year’s Imagine Children’s Festival.

The shortlisted authors, publishers, members of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and children from reading clubs up and down the UK met at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank for an afternoon of fun and surprises.

Kids’ comedian James Campbell kicked off the day by calling the shortlisted authors on stage one-by-one where youngsters presented them with handmade portfolios which featured written work and drawings inspired by each of the shortlisted books, all done by the children themselves. A wonderful keepsake that the authors loved perusing and will serve as brilliant mementos of the day.

After a delightful meal of bite-size hamburgers, mini bangers and mash and finished with everyone’s favourite, jelly and ice cream served in jam jars and deliciously gooey double chocolate brownies, children were able to sift through their goodie bags, have their books signed by the authors and illustrators, and ask the best in the business exactly what it was like to have the best job in the world!

More crowds then joined the celebrations for the main event – the awards! Children from Dulwich Stagecoach had prepared three montages to express the stories and feelings of the shortlisted books from each Red House Children’s Book Award categories. Starting with a very funny sketch telling the tales of the picture books; the immensely talented children transformed the stage into outer space, a bookshop, a haunted house and a perfect hiding place for Sassoon – all in the space of about two minutes and all without a prop in sight! Caryl Hart, Ed Eaves, Louise Yates, Andrew Weale, Lee Wildish and Sam Usher then took to the limelight to answer questions from James Campbell before Spooky, Spooky House was announced by Korky Paul as the winner of the Younger Children award.

After the audience’s drum rolling and the party-blowers had finally ceased, we did it all over again for the Younger Readers category. Stagecoach returned to show their interpretations of Gangsta Granny (complete with plastic rain bonnets), Operation Eiffel Tower and The World of Norm: May Contain Nuts. David Walliams, Elen Caldecott, Jonathan Meres and Donough O’Malley then took their places to find out the winner. Walliams even entertained the audience with a hilarious reading from Gangsta Granny before being presented with the top prize for Younger Readers category from fellow award-winning young adult author Elizabeth Laird.

As James managed to quieten the excitement once again, Stagecoach ended their fascinating performance with their mini re-enactments of the gripping Medusa Project: Hit Squad, the brilliantly uplifting Eight Keys, and finally the very alien world in the Power of Six. Having to keep his whereabouts absolutely unknown, Pittacus Lore sent his answers via a secret recording which was played to the audience while previous winner Sophie McKenzie, and Suzanne LaFleur, who flew all the way from Boston to attend, awaited on stage to find out who was to win the Older Readers category. Last year’s winner Patrick Ness rejoined the celebrations to announce the Older Readers winners as Sophie McKenzie.

Patrick was then given the honour of announcing the much-anticipated Overall Winner, which saw him bring back his silver tree trophy (which had taken pride of place in his bathroom for the past year!) and also drop the occasional swear word – by accident of course, as he recalled the subtle language differences between the UK and that which is spoken over the pond. After each author or author/illustrator duo had expressed the importance of this award, in huge part because it is voted for by children, everyone who had taken part in this eventful day knew just how much this prestigious prize would mean to whoever received it.

Cue the drum roll… as children and grown-ups stomped their feet and got ready for a riotous applause, Patrick Ness announced that Spooky, Spooky House was this year’s overall winner and he gracefully handed over the beautiful trophy to Andrew Weale and Lee Wildish who expressed how grateful they were to not just each other (!) and the children who had voted for their book, but also all avid young readers and bookworms that make all their wonderful jobs possible.

A triumphant way to celebrate the whole atmosphere that the fantastic Imagine Children’s Festival has stood for over the past two weeks. Children left excited and inspired, many with books in their hands, after seeing plenty of their heroes and heroines from the world of literature in action. We can’t wait to see what next year has in store and we hope even more visitors will grace Southbank Centre to get creative, get imaginative and get involved!

Andrew Weale and Lee Wildish
David Walliams
Sophie McKenzie


Imagine Children’s Festival – Letterbox Live

A packed-out Queen Elizabeth Hall eagerly awaited Friday’s Letterbox Live show at Imagine Children’s Festival and it seemed like the parents were just as excited as the kids. A beautiful theatre, this event was set up by the Letterbox Club, a charity that aims to spread the joy of reading and improve children’s numeracy skills by delivering parcels of books and maths games to disadvantaged children and those in care.

Acclaimed poet, author and patron of the Letterbox Club Lemn Sissay opened the show with an introduction to the authors who would be talking later on. With a friendly and warming tone that appealed to everyone in the audience, he explained a little bit about what to expect and also told a few jokes with varying success. He told the audience about his favourite books (The London A-Z and the Guinness Book of Failed World Records) and then astounded them with his own failed world record of his own as he attempted to remember first names of everyone in the crowd. It was so loud as children shouted their names at him in unison.

Lemn left the stage by introducing debut author Tom Banks, who read from his new book The Great Galloon (released 7 March). Before his reading he warned the children in the crowd that he was quite nervous and that the next author, Gareth P. Jones, would appear on the stage to indicate it was time for him to wrap his set up and the audience loved practising their best ‘He’s behind you’! The Great Galloon is a very amusing pirate adventure and his reading marked Tom out as an author to watch out for over the next few months.

The eagle-eyed in the crowd had spotted the ukulele resting on stage when they walked in and when Gareth P. Jones walked on to a huge round of applause, he picked up the instrument and promised the crowd a ‘mash-up’ of the songs he’s written based on his books. He made a point of letting the parents in the audience know a ‘mash-up’ is what used to be known as a ‘mega mix’ or a ‘medley’. With plenty of crowd interaction to help him out with the songs, he sang about his popular Dragon Detective Agency books and the audience gleefully clapped along as he introduced the Ninja Meerkats before enthusiastically making their best ninja noises. Gareth even rapped at one point! He then slowed down the tone to play a very spooky song based on Constable & Toop, and this was equally well received.

Having just arrived in the country from her home in the States and nominated for last year’s fantastic Eight Keys, Red House Children’s Book Award-shortlisted author Suzanne LaFleur read from her 2009 novel Love, Aubrey. Giving a fascinating insight into the voices inside her head while writing the book, her reading really brought the characters to life and made the horrible situation Aubrey finds herself in even more touching. Reading from the start of the very first chapter, everyone in the hall was captivated and were left wanting to find out what happens next.

Jeremy Strong walked on to a huge round of applause and started his performance by covering the questions he always gets asked at events like these, including ‘How old are you?’. Entirely confident and wickedly funny throughout his set, he went on to reveal where he gets ideas from, especially for the popular Cartoon Kid series. Reminiscing on the time he walked into a friend’s glass door and ended up getting his head superglued back together (instead of getting stitches) at the hospital, he says how funny he thought it would be if the superglue worked and a nurse’s rubber glove ended up attached to a patient’s head. This scenario was featured in one of Cartoon Kid Casper’s adventures, after a rather unfortunate trampolining accident… Jeremy wrapped up his set with a reading of one of the stories from Cartoon Kid: Zombies! A laugh-out-loud scenario found Casper taking to decorating and painting – with anarchic results and Jeremy even spoke out all the bizarre sound effects featured in the book!

After Jeremy wrapped up his performance with some further information about the good work the Letterbox Club does, seemingly the entire venue made their way out to get their books signed by the four extremely talented authors they had just been so entertained by. Queues were going round the whole foyer of the theatre as children waited patiently to meet their new favourites. This was another triumphant event at Imagine Children’s Festival.

Imagine Children's Festival


Imagine Children’s Festival – Cathy Cassidy

Cathy Cassidy daydreams her way to Imagine Children’s Festival

‘Queen of Teen’ Cathy Cassidy entertained a room full of eager fans at Imagine Children’s Festival on Friday. Unlike the usual noisy hubbub you find in a room of kids waiting to see their hero, as I took my seat I found myself surrounded by avid young readers with their heads buried in their Cathy Cassidy books – which was undoubtedly the perfect way to spend their precious time as they patiently waited.

Dressed in a floral pink frock with her trademark crimped hair, young readers were not disappointed with the hour-long event Cathy put on. Giving the youngsters an insight into life as a writer, Cathy spoke about her favourite places to write, her recent move to the city from the remote regions of Scotland, and she shared her feelings about, and experiences with, those most dear to her – her dedicated readers.

Despite being interested in English literature and history, Cathy humorously told the children that the best lesson she learnt in school was daydreaming! Encouraging her audience to daydream at every opportunity, possibly much to some teachers’ dismay, Cathy expressed how important doing just this had been to the writing path she has been on in her lifetime. Letting your imagination run wild and exercising creativity was a resonant theme in her talk and I’m sure all the children left the auditorium inspired to do just that.

Cathy spoke to the many attentive girls about her career; from a top editorial role on her beloved Jackie magazine and agony aunt for Shout to smash-hit author that has been crowned Queen on Teen in the world of literature for young readers. Cathy had the audience enraptured as she read from her Chocolate Box Girls books and encouraged her readers to try making their own magazines for school or even just for fun. She showed her skills from the magazine market by providing the audience with a fabulous quiz to find out which Chocolate Box Girl they are most like through the trusty ‘mostly As, Bs, or Cs’ format – one that provides hours of entertainment for young magazine readers. Cathy didn’t leave out the brothers and dads who came to see her in action either, they were invited to do a similar quiz to find out which of Cathy’s boy characters they were most like as well!

Activities like these show just how much care Cathy takes in constructing ‘real’ characters that her readers can truly assimilate themselves with. Her wonderfully imagined names (Cherry, Skye, Summer and Coco, to name just a few) demonstrate Cathy’s daydreaming tendencies, and her fondness for sweet treats. Daydreaming fanatic and self-confessed sweet treat enthusiast – Cathy really is every young girl’s BFF! Given the chance to ask Cathy absolutely anything they liked, arms in the audience shot up in the air on mass. The children were sure to have picked up some invaluable tips from the award-winning author and they certainly left the event in the knowledge that they were able to daydream until their heart’s content, without any grown-ups (who were probably inspired to do the same) telling them otherwise!

Cathy closed by launching a very exciting competition to find a Coco to star in the innovative and growingly popular CCTV (Cathy Cassidy TV) snippets on her fantastic website. Giving exclusive clips and background information about each of her Chocolate Box Girls characters, Cathy is giving girls up and down the country the chance to land themselves the lead role as animal-mad tomboy Coco, the youngest of the sisters, in this exciting online venture. If you know a young girl who may be interested in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity just click here.

Imagine Children's Festival


Book People Debut Fiction Choice – The Universe Versus Alex Woods

A Book People Debut Fiction Choice, Gavin Extence’s The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a brilliantly told story about an unlikely friendship, social issues, life and death. Told from the point of view of teenager Alex Woods, a boy who made a miracle recovery from a freak accident, the book focuses on the life of an outsider.

Bullied from an early age, Alex lives in a small village near Glastonbury and has a tarot card-reading mother – two things which both contribute heavily to his unpopularity at school. While on the run from a gang of bullies, Alex ends up hiding away in an unfamiliar garden. It’s not long before he forms an improbable bond with the owner of this garden, the curmudgeonly Mr Peterson, an elderly neighbour who has lived a full life and tends to keep himself to himself. Encouraging Alex to make the most of life, Mr Peterson not only introduces him to a world of books, especially those of Kurt Vonnegut, but also learns a few things from Alex about society himself. When Mr Peterson receives some bad news, it is clear just how much the pair’s friendship means to each other…

Written with warmth and humour, this is a fascinating book that will live with you for a long time after finishing it and at times brings to mind Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Covering important topical issues too, there is so much to recommend in this read with two idiosyncratic main characters and a supporting cast that all have moments to shine too. From Alex’s peculiar mother to Ellie, the older school outcast he befriends, and the doctors and scientists who helped him make his recovery, there are so many memorable moments and it becomes clear that Extence really does have a strong affection for all his creations. Cohesively and confidently written, it’s incredible to think this is a debut novel and some of the issues tackled show just how brave an author Extence is. We highly recommend this book.

The Universe versus Alex Woods is available for just £4.99.

Gavin Extence


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