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Who is DCI David Rosen?

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Guest post by author Mark Roberts who was born and raised in Liverpool and was educated at St. Francis Xavier’s College. He was a mainstream teacher for twenty years and for the last ten years has worked as a special school teacher. He received a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for best new play of the year. What She Saw is the second novel in the DCI Rosen series after the acclaimed debut, The Sixth Soul.

What She Saw, Mark RobertsWhen I started writing The Sixth Soul, the first Rosen novel, I wanted to create a sympathetic character in DCI Rosen and build his Murder Investigation Team, with diverse, recurring characters who I could grow and develop as the stories progressed. I didn’t want to create another detective as victim with alcohol/gambling problems, broken marriages/alienated children, a terrible burden because of the death of a police colleague through something he had got wrong or had failed to do.


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Remarkable Creatures

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Remarkable Creatures, Tracy Chevalier, book reviewThis article is part of our Holiday Reads 2013 series. Remarkable Creatures is Rosanna Ley’s recommendation. Quercus published her  book, Bay of Secrets on May 9th, 2013. You can read our review of the book here.

This is a perfect holiday read for anyone who loves the Jurassic coast of Dorset as much as I do. The novel is set in Lyme Regis in the earlyish 1800s and the limelight of point of view is shared by the young, working-class girl Mary Anning and an educated but down at heel spinster Elizabeth Philpott. Both characters are real people with an interesting story to tell.

Mary Anning survived being struck by lightning as a baby and this event has given her ‘the eye,’ meaning that she can spot fossils she calls ‘curies’ on the beaches of Lyme Bay.

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Holiday Reads

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This article is part of our Holiday Reads 2013 series. These are Charity Norman’s recommendations. Her new novel The Son-in-Law will be published next month. You can find our review here.

I’m imagining the kind of holiday that involves long hours in a hammock with a glass of something cold – or possibly by the log fire in a Scottish glen – rather than one of the wholesome variety that involve blisters forming under the walking boots, the husband peering at the map, and teenagers asking why are we here, and please can we go somewhere sensible next year?

So – what books would I pack for the hammock or hearth? Well, let’s start with something to bring on that languorous holiday feeling. Joanna Trollope’s recent Daughters-in-Law, for example. Atmospherically set under the vast skies of Suffolk, the novel explores family tensions – something Trollope does so incisively. A controlling matriarch struggles to let go of her sons, while her three daughters-in-law each in their own way fight back. The result? Chaos.

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Books for Holiday Reading

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These are some recommendations from Hilary Linstead and Elisabeth Davies for your Holiday Reads 2013. Their book Growing Old Outrageously will be published in July. You can read our review here.

I have a pile of books on the table by my bed, R2R, Ready To Read, and when I go on holiday I pick them up and fling them into the nearest suitcase. Even if I take my Kindle with its library on board, there is still the instinctive urge to gather up those bedside books and take them with me.

Here and There, A. A. GillComing to England this time, my R2R books included Another Country by Nicholas Rothwell, a story of his desert journeys in Northern and Central Australia and his encounters with mystics, explorers and healers. The book is peopled with eccentrics and includes detailed information on Aboriginal art and artists. I’ve also included witty and insightful Sane New World by Ruby Wax in which she describes returning to University in order to re-educate herself about the depressive illness from which she has suffered all her life.

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Cosmos

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Cosmos: The Story of Cosmic Evolution, Science and Civilisation, Carl Sagan, book reviewThis article is part of our Holiday Reads 2013 series. Cosmos is Matt Haig’s recommendation. Matt just published his second book, The Humans.

I am getting into science books. At school, I hated science, but I think that was mainly because I had not very inspiring teachers. I didn’t get excited by bunsen burners and forceps and those safety goggles you had to wear. Also, I turned up an hour late for my Science GCSE, meaning I ended up getting an F.

Anyway, my allergy to science changed three years ago when I was on holiday in Sardinia. We were staying in a hotel that had books on the bookshelves, most of which were written in Italian. Anyway, one of the few books written in English was Cosmos by Carl Sagan.

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The Honey Guide

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The Honey Guide,  Richard Crompton, book reviewThis article is part of our Holiday Reads 2013 series. The Honey Guide is Michael Logan’s recommendation. Michael won Terry Pratchett First Novel Award prize for Apocalypse Cow, just published in paperback.

I don’t know what it is about sitting on a beach beneath a baking sun, surrounded by cavorting holidaymakers, that makes my thoughts turn to murder. I’m not talking about actually killing the over-muscled gentleman thrusting his bulging speedos in my face as he retrieves a casually tossed Frisbee, although I’m pretty sure no court would convict me if I did. I’m talking about burying my nose in a crime thriller to avoid such sights.

Last month, as I holidayed in Zanzibar, I was lucky enough to have a copy of The Honey Guide by Richard Crompton to shield my bleeding eyes.

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Dr. Dimsdale and Catherine the Great’s Fear of Smallpox

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Eva StachniakEva Stachniak brings us an exciting novel, The Winter Palace, about Catherine The Great’s early days and improbable rise to power as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne. Eva was born in Wroclaw, Poland, and came to Canada in 1981. She has been a radio broadcaster and college English and Humanities lecturer. Her debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and her second novel, Garden of Venus, has been translated into seven languages. Her third novel, The Winter Palace, has been published in Canada (Doubleday), US (Bantam) and the UK (Transworld). She lives in Toronto, where she is working on her second historical novel about Catherine the Great, The Empire of the Night. Curious Book Fans want to thank Eva for sharing some insight into the research she did  for The Winter Palace.

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Smallpox had been one of Catherine the Great’s greatest fears. When she arrived in Russia at 14, a fiancée to the Grand Duke Peter, the disease almost destroyed her future. The Grand Duke contracted smallpox and, even though he eventually recovered, it disfigured his body and made him even more awkward and insecure than he had been before. In the dark, long weeks when Peter’s life hung in the balance, Catherine knew that had he died, she would have been sent back to Zerbst without much ceremony.


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The Red Ants: The Evolution of a Novel

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Martin PevsnerCurious Book Fans are grateful to author Martin Pevsner for revealing to our readers the creative process and the background of his second novel The Red Ants.

This last twelve months have been a time of great change for me. After fourteen years teaching English language at a local further education college in Oxford, mainly to asylum seekers and refugees, I quit my job. I found a new one a few weeks later. For the first time since graduating over twenty-five years ago I have found employment in a non-teaching capacity. It feels very liberating.

Equally exciting, I had my first book published this time last year, a novel called Divinity Road (Signal Books), set mainly in Oxford and Africa, that sought to describe the vulnerability of life as an asylum seeker (see review here). Needless to say much of the inspiration for the novel came from my relationships with students over the years.


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The Red Ants – Prologue

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©Martin Pevsner 2011

You wake though you can’t remember sleeping, one moment you’re hunched between lawnmower and wheelbarrow, sideways prone on damp shed floor, strands of dried grass clinging to your cheek, shivering cold in midnight hour. Then next you’re jerked alive, scrabbling to your feet, peering through smeary window at the pale dawn.

Someone’s lying in the garden no more than ten feet away. You peer more closely. The back is to you but the shape looks female. You are pretty sure she wasn’t there last night. You wonder if she could be asleep, imagine her stirring, sitting up, yawning. But you know it’s unlikely.

You stand for a few moments, your ear tuning in for sounds. At your feet lies the canvas bag filled with ipod and penknife, a few scrabbled clothes, your phone and the trumpet. You stand stock still straining to hear but the silence is eerie, no more screams of the hunted, no more back-and-forth calls of the huntsmen.


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Skippy Dies

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Skippy Dies By Paul Murray, book reviewThis is a guest post from our book blogging friend Lovely Treez. The original post can be found on her site  Lovely Treez Reads.

This is quite an unusal book, hard to categorise, given that it covers everything from schoolboy fantasies to complex scientific theories. However, somehow this eclectic mix works and what emerges is a masterly tale of life, love, past versus present – a veritable saga.

As the title states, Daniel “Skippy” Juster does indeed die and the prologue details his untimely demise. What follows is a tale of epic proportions divided into three separate books, Hopeland, Heartland and Ghostland. Most of the novel is set in and around Seabrook College, a prestigious Dublin school run by the Paraclete order who are keen to maintain the school’s excellent reputation. Greg Costigan, the first acting lay principal, is keen to move the school into the 21st century and one senses the tension between the old and new orders.


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Danilo Kiš: Mittel Man

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Over 20 years ago, on October 15, 1989, Yugoslav writer Danilo Kiš succumbed to lung cancer in Paris, France. He was only 54 when he died.

Among the works Kiš left behind included a form-bending prose triptych — Garden, Ashes (1965), Early Sorrows (1970) and Hourglass (1972) — two masterworks of short fiction — A Tomb for Boris Davidovich (1976) and Encyclopedia of the Dead (1983) — and a string of dazzling polemical essays and interviews about his own work (some of which were translated into English and published in 1995 as Homo Poeticus).

Danilo KišThe early death of one of Europe’s humane and powerful literary voices was a tragedy for literature. But history suggests that the timing of the Kiš’ passing was – at least in one aspect – merciful. Kiš did not witness the engulfment of Yugoslavia in the blood-soaked tide of competing nationalisms that he so thoroughly despised and belittled.

After all, witness was at the center of Kiš’ literary works, which grappled with the worst of Europe’s mid-20th Century horrors: Nazism and Stalinism.

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blueeyedboy

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blueeyedboy by Joanne Harris

This is a guest post from our book blogging friend Lovely Treez. The original post can be found on her site  Lovely Treez Reads.

It was with great trepidation that I embarked on this literary voyage as I had glanced at a few not so favourable reviews (will I ever learn??). Anyway, better to get this out of the way at the beginning – there is no chocolate, no magic, no wine, no fruit except for some rotten fruit juice. I have no doubt that Joanne Harris is ever so slightly ticked off by folk expecting her to continue writing in the same French pastoral vein but I really admire her for exploring much darker territory in her latest novel although I suspect that the story found her rather than vice-versa.


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