Merry Christmas to our readers from everyone here at Bookgeeks Towers (which only exists in our imagination at the moment, but one day, will bestride the literary landscape like a colossal… well, you get the idea). We hope you have enjoyed our reviews and competitions in 2009, and we look forward to bringing you much, much more in 2010!
A nice way to round of the year was this interview with our own Simon Appleby over on Temple Library Reviews, and if you need a break from the turkey and mince pies, here are a few of the very best 2009 Bookgeeks reviews and reviewers that you may have missed:
- Some controversy between the Geeks over Neal Stephenson’s Anathem – read Simon A’s review
- Jennie Blake reviewed John Wray’s Lowboy, and we also interviewed him
- Simon A reviewed David Eagleman’s Sum, a book that later on became a word-of-mouth sensation
- Mathew was very excited by John Connolly’s latest Charlie Parker novel, the deceptively titled The Lovers
- Simon P’s review of Richard Dawkins’ latest book got a lot of attention from Dawkins fans
- Erin Britton was first to the punch with a review of the long-awaited second novel from Glen David Gold, Sunnyside
- With money seeming to mostly descend in 2009, our own Ben Parker had a timely review of Niall Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money
- Simon A wrote a letter to the central character for his review of Sean Williams’ The Grand Conjunction
- We are very proud of how we have expanded our Young Adult coverage this year, with great contributions from Jennie, Jenny, Erin and Mathew
- We have also welcomed new reviewers Andy, James, Jon, Marina, Mario, Michaela, Nicola, Paul and Sam to the Bookgeeks fold, and hope to bring you more from all of them in 2010!
And last but not least we would like to welcome Evangeline Ruby Riley (4.53am, 11 December) to the extended Bookgeeks family!
So to Fitzrovia for the announcement of the tenth annual CWA Ellis Peters Award for Historical Crime Fiction, which this year goes to Philip Kerr’s If The Dead Rise Not. It’s only just out so I have not yet read it, but if it’s up to the mark of his previous Bernie Gunther books, then Kerr is a deserving winner.
In a shortlist, indeed in a category, currently dominated by the Second World War, Kerr’s achievement stands out. In recreating Berlin of the 1930s his world weary detective inhabits a claustrophobic, paranoid world with which we are pretty familiar. To then take Bernie Gunther to post war South America is a stroke of authorial inspiration and I look forward to the rest of his detecting career with great enthusiasm.
The rest of the shortlist was:
- Rennie Airth: The Dead of Winter
- Shona MacLean: The Redemption of Alexander Seaton
- Mark Mills: The Intelligence Officer
- Andrew Williams: The Interrogator
- Laura Wilson: An Empty Death
Today marks the launch of our new sister site for Bookgeeks.
Bookhugger is a great place for you to find articles, competitions, podcasts, interviews, author panels and much more, from a range of the UK’s most interesting quality publishers. So far, we are pleased to announce we are working with:
- Faber and Faber
- Gallic Books
- John Murray
All of these fine publishers are providing us with their juiciest content and Bookhugger will be updated on a very regular basis; and we hope to be able to announce more publishers joining us soon. Our intention is to have the site quickly become a favourite destination for the latest book and publishing news from some of the UK’s most innovative publishers.
We also have a new weekly e-mail, Bookbreeze, which will summarise the best content from Bookhugger and Bookgeeks in an easy-to-digest form.
So, please take a look at Bookhugger, sign up to the feeds, and tell us what you think!
Congratulations to Canongate on the official launch today of their Meet At The Gate website – not just a publisher website, but rather a forum devoted to books, film and everything good in the arts.
Andrea See, who is Online Marketing Executive at Canongate (and thus our kind of person) says:
A publisher’s name often doesn’t mean much to the consumer; readers relate to authors or genres rather than publisher brands. By creating a site that is filled with interesting, diverse and outward-looking content, rather than an online catalogue, we aim to attract regular and loyal visitors, who will discover Canongate books along the way.
The first 500 people to sign up from the launch date (that’s today) will each receive a free book, and everyone who signs up get a free download of The Gift by Lewis Hyde. Yes, you hear right, we said free books – so get cracking and get over to Meet at the Gate.
In which we expound on the joys and bookish wonders that lurk on the incredible Interweb:
- Via the Book of Face, we came across Brian Dettmer: Book Autopsies – amazing sculptures crafted from books
- Nick Harkaway has released a new story on his blog – read The Stolen Daughter now
- Some SF writers talk to the BBC about how science fiction has to evolve and keep pace with modern science to stay relevant – includes Iain M Banks and Ken McLeod
- For the design geeks amongst you, we just discovered the wonderful FaceOut Books blog, dedicated to the art of book cover design, with insights from the artists involved
Until next time, link-lovers!
You can vote for a several of Bookgeeks’ favourite books of last year in the Galaxy British Book Awards, including The Gargoyle and The Mighty Book of Boosh – and if you vote you will be entered in to a draw to win £200 worth of book tokens.
We are pleased to report that our very own Mathew F. Riley has been writing more than just book reviews…
With three short stories forthcoming in genre magazines All Hallows, Necrography and Dark Horizons, the exciting thing is that he’s just won the British Fantasy Society’s Short Story Competition, 2008, with the spooky little number, Seems Only Right.
Congratulations to Mathew!
A few things that have caught our eye and led us seductively in to a secluded corner of the Internet for an intense one-on-one:
- Bob Fischer, author of Wiffle Lever to Full!, is reliving 1984 day-by-day, through the diary entries of his eleven year-old self. With the added commentary, this is a labour of love, and very enjoyable. It’s all on the Wiffle Lever blog.
- Nick Harkaway, author of The Gone-Away-World, has conducted an interview with fellow first-time novelist Charles Lambert which is worth a read, which is on his blog (and read the rest if you have time).
- Dorling Kindersley are seeking photographs of significant, unique and inspiring objects you might own or have access too – send in a photo and a short explanation of why the object is so special and you might see it in print. Competition closes on 28th January – check out www.allthisbook.com.
- On a more serious note, fellow geek George Walkley, Marketing Director at Little, Brown Book Group, has blogged the text of remarks he made about e-books and print-on-demand at a recent debate, clearly explaining the importance of storing book information in a platform-neutral way so it can be delivered to different formats, including some we probably don’t know about yet. What can I say, we’re geeks, we like stuff like this!
The British Science Fiction Association have announced the shortlist for the 2009 Best Novel Award – and you can find reviews of two of the four nominated titles right here on Bookgeeks – Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World and Stephen Baxter’s Flood. Look out for our interview with nominee Nick Harkaway in a few days too!
Time for Bookgeeks to join in with this – a list of speculative fiction and fantasy review blogs started by John at Grasping for the Wind which has grown hugely in the last week as people have added themselves and other blogs to it.
- 7 Foot Shelves
- The Accidental Bard
- A Boy Goes on a Journey
- A Dribble Of Ink
- A Hoyden’s Look at Literature
- Adventures in Reading
- The Agony Column
- Andromeda Spaceways
- The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
- Ask Daphne
- Australia Specfic in Focus
- Author 2 Author
- Barbara Martin
- Bees (and Books) on the Knob
Loads more after the jump…
First in an occasional series of links to other book-related stuff that we have enjoyed and think you might enjoy too:
- Austenbook is a clever re-telling of Pride and Prejudice as seen through the Facebook news feed
- HarperCollins literary imprint 4th Estate have a new animated short to celebrate their impending 25th birthday – and it’s rather wonderful (though perhaps slightly too long). You can see it on www.25thestate.com
If there is anything you think we should feature in future link round-ups, contact us.
Reading groups and book groups are all the rage at the moment. Never ones to buck the trend, we at Bookgeeks thought it would be fun to try an online reading group. Here’s how it will work:
- Participants will read the chosen book – The Bird Room by Chris Killen, which is published on January 22nd 2009. To get things rolling, publishers Canongate will give ten copies away to UK readers, which will be sent out several weeks before publication. If you don’t snag a free copy, you can still join in, we will wait until two weeks after the book is published before we kick things off.
- Once we have all had time to read the book (I will be reading it too), we will get things started with a review – and then that’s where you come in. We want your comments, your thoughts, your questions, here on Bookgeeks – and then Chris Killen will be logging on to answer them! It’s not everyday you get the author drop in to your reading group, is it?
Chris Meade (author of the recently reviewed digital fiction In Search of Lost Tim, and blogger over at if:book) has drawn the Bookgeeks’ attention to an interesting experiment they are kicking off – in using browser technology to facilitate online, co-operative reading and commenting. The text chosen is Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook (which I own but have not read myself). Here’s how Chris describes the experiment:
Have you read The Golden Notebook? Did you try it but never quite make it through to the end? Did you love it way back when and wonder what you’d make of it now? Did you hear some of it serialised on Radio 4 recently and think, “I must read that.” Well, now you can read it along with the comments of an international team of readers and an online community around them.
if:book London and Apt, the new media design and marketing consultancy, have collaborated on a groundbreaking project devised and curated by Bob Stein of the Institute for the Future of the Book, and supported by Arts Council England.
It’s a very interesting idea and well executed – you can view each page of the book, as it appears in print, and see what everyone has said about what’s taking place on that page. They have made allowance for the fact that different readers will have different editions with different page numbering (boring but important), allowed for threaded comments on pages, and created forums as well (recognition that some discussions are not appropriate for the page level). Everything’s very well integrated, and it’s an impressive achievement. It will be interesting to see how well the model works, as clearly the same approach could be taken to any text.
As someone whose shelves are laden down with bescribbled copies of set texts (Mrs Bookgeek is an English teacher), which I now find impossible to use as straight reading copies, I wish this experiment every success.
The Old Bat’s Belfry has nominated Bookgeeks for an ‘I Love Your Blog’ Award. She said “It’s a cool site with great author interviews and reviews. They did a panel about maps and visual aids not too long ago that I really enjoyed reading.” Gee, thanks!
So now, to make up for all the chain letters that I didn’t forward on when I was a kid, I am going to do my best to follow the conditions of the award, to whit:
- Add the logo of your award to your blog
- Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
- Nominate at least 7 other blogs
- Add links to those blogs on your blog
- Leave a message for your nominees on their blog
So, here are our nominations, all with a suitably literary bent:
Horror Reanimated – Mathew and I might have helped these guys get their blog off the ground, but the excitement they are generating among horror fans is down to superlative content – I especially love Bill’s short story where Sherlock Holmes meets Count Dracula!
26Books – set up by my former colleague James Higgs, along with Shane Richmond of the Telegraph, its bloggers have one objective: to read 26 books per year, whatever they fancy, and tell their readers about them.
The Librarything Blog – a wonderful insight in to my favouritest book cataloguing site. I love the competitions and the genuine sense you get of what it’s like to be on the team. If I lived in Maine, I know where I’d want to work!
John Connolly – like most big name authors who blog, Connolly doesn’t update every day, but when he does it’s worth reading – we loved the recent post about ‘books and being a blurb whore’.
Neil Gaiman’s Journal – a great insight on the demands placed on a successful novelist and screenwriter, which Gaiman uses to keep in touch with his fans.
Don’t Get Fooled Again – Richard Wilson’s blog, for the book of the same name, is a clearing house for sceptics everywhere, which he uses to focus on cant, deception, cultural relativism and wishful thinking wherever it occurs. Because he taught me how to be a good sceptic, I googled the ‘I Love Your Blog’ award and concluded it has a life of its own, despite having no official website – but I decided to join in anyway!
Hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do!
In February 2008 Bloody Books published the first full length title in their brand new horror line. The book was MEAT. and Stephen King immediately endorsed the novel saying of its author “Joseph D’Lacey rocks!” and horror fans across the world have echoed his sentiments.
Five months later, Bloody Books released their second horror novel, Through a Glass, Darkly by Bill Hussey. This distinctly British tale of demonic folklore, steeped in the traditions of the genre, has also garnered rave reviews internationally.
To celebrate the ongoing resurrection of horror, Bill Hussey and Joseph D’Lacey have teamed up, (with a little help from us Bookgeeks), to create Horror Reanimated, a blog for dark times. Here they discuss trends in the genre, the function of horror and the reason it persists in literature, art and film.
The blog features interviews, professional horror writing tips, reviews, original fiction, dark art, Bloody Books publishing news and much, much more…
Bookgeeks’ Mathew F. Riley will be sharing his genre book reviews with Horror Reanimated, as well as other things of darkness that tickle his fancy.
Bookgeeks’ very own king of horror, zombies and all things post-Apolcalyptic, Mathew F. Riley, has branched out from book reviewing and is now an official reviewer at the US-based genre film fan site Quiet Earth. Indulging in his taste for all things spooky and gory, he has already reviewed three films for them. Check out his thoughts about some of the movies screened at the recent UK gorefest Frightfest 08:
From the printed page to the silver screen, is there no end to his talents? We suspect not (unless zombies actually do take over the earth, in which case, by his own admission, he’d be stuffed).
Simon A is in his happy place thanks to the master of the spy novel…
STOP PRESS: I have now read and reviewed the book…
I am very excited – yesterday, which happened to be my birthday, the lovely people at Hodder & Stoughton gave me a hardbound proof of John Le Carré’s forthcoming novel, A Most Wanted Man. I shall be reading it soon so look out for a review at the beginning of September, prior to its publication on the 23rd of September 2008.
If you want to be notified when the review goes up, why not sign up to receive Bookgeeks updates via e-mail? In the meantime, to tantalise your tastebuds, here’s Hodder’s promo trailer, with the man himself talking about the characters and themes of the book.
You can now become a fan of Bookgeeks on Facebook – so if you like what you see here at Bookgeeks, share the love and let us know. Once a month we will send an update to fans with a round-up of the month’s reviews and a sneaky peek at impending reviews.
We look forward to seeing you there!
I just spotted a link to our review of The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway, which launches today, on the website for the book. Probably the closest we will ever come to getting on TV (unlike Mr Harkaway, who should be on Newsnight Review this Friday at 11pm).
Radiohead’s decision to release their album In Rainbows for free via digital download garnered huge amounts of publicity, and has spawned many imitators, and much thinking about the implications of the model for all kinds of digital publishing. Now John Buckman of Bookmooch is considering a publishing and distribution model that combines print-on-demand, tipping of the author if you like the book, and using a bookswapping site such as Bookmooch to keep the book in circulation. Under this model, if you like the book, you pay for the pleasure of having read it, and pass it on; or pay more and just keep it. If you don’t like it, you relist it on Bookmooch and when someone else asks for it, ship it off – all it will cost you is the outward shipping, so it’s less costly than buying a book you don’t enjoy.
Could it work? I think it could be a viable mechanism for authors starting out – after all, if a book is good and enjoyed by the majority of its readers, each copy is likely to earn much more revenue for the author over its lifespan than if it had been sold in the traditional way. It might also be a good way to generate word of mouth publicity and a bit of a buzz.
For more, see the BookMooch Blog.