Saturday, 27 March 2010

All Work and No Play

The current 'to be read' pile.....

To be fair, I've started New York and Wolf Hall (which is turning out to be surprisingly readable for a Booker winner).

So many books, so little time.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Just Because...

And as I'm still totally impressed by the novelty of it all, some more links to articles about the CBI Bisto Book Awards are here:

The Indo

The Examiner

Irish Times complete with photo (tho' not of me thankfully)


Scott (Me and My Big Mouth) Pack - publisher extraordinaire

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Mmmm Bisto!

And here I am in a state of shock. I've just gone and been nominated for the Children's Books Ireland Bisto Book of the Year 2010. This is the biggest children's book prize in Ireland so my gast has been truly flabbered.

The full shortlist is here and there are some serious writers on the list (including John Connolly, one of my favourites). More to follow - once I've recovered from the shock.

Friday, 5 March 2010

World Book Day

Yesterday was World Book Day. As part of the celebrations I was invited to Donoughmore National School to do readings and Q&A to 5th and 6th classes. As both classes had read The Third Pig, they promised to be intetersting sessions as they'd be the first groups I'd spoken to where everyone had read the book. After reading the poo chapter to 6th class (always a favourite and it seemed to go down well) there was an energetic Q&A. After a much needed cuppa I then spoke to 5th class, read the closing chapter (due to popular demand) and followed it up with another Q&A which included:-

- do you like chocolate chip muffins (yes, actually)
- me mistaking a pupil dressed as Harry Potter for Spiderman (well he was a good bit away and wearing red and black).
- lots of questions about Chelsea, John Terry and the previous weekends match with Man City

I rounded off the visit by giving a sneak preview of Chapter 1 of The Ho Ho Ho mystery to both classes and they seemed to enjoy it.

I had a great time at the school, throughly enjoyed my visit and the pupils seemed to enjoy it too. Kudos to the teaching staff, who not only gave me a great welcome and made me feel right at home but - as the school was celebrating 100 years - had dressed up in clothes from 1910 for the day.

Later that evening I gave a reading to the On The Nail writers group and spoke a little bit about how I developed the book and how I used the web to find constructive critque groups. As well as me there was a brilliant poet called Brendan Murphy who treated us to some of his excellent (and very accessible) work. This was followed by an Open Mic session where local writers could read their work to an appreciative audience. There was a good mixture of prose and poetry and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Throw in a few songs and it made for a great evening's entertainment.

I eventually arrived home at midnight knackered and almost voiceless after a fantastic day out.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Equivoque Principle - for free, gratis and for nothing!

The very talented Darren Craske has a newbook coming out today. It's called The 11th Plague and you should all go out and buy it forthwith.

"But it's a sequel," I hear you say. "How will be able to read it if we haven't read the original?"

"A good question," I reply. "But fear not because you can read Book 1, The Equivoque Principle, in its entirety should you so choose. Just click below and enjoy. Amn't I nice?"

And if you're not sure about the 11th Plague, here's a sampler. Do I not spoil you?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Top Books of the Noughties - The Results

Well, not surprisingly none of my choices made the Top 10 and only four made the Top 50. There are some good choices in the list but I feel that the Top 10 is a predictable, safe and very Book Club-ish selection (Niffenegger, Hosseini, Zusak etc).

The Top 10 books are as follows:

1. Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne. Is it the best book of the noughties? probably not but it's still a good read and a worthy choice.

2. Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffennegger. I haven't read it but those I know that have speak very highly of it.

3. Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold. Again, not something that's featured in my to-be-read pile.

4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson. My favourite rant: I am still at a loss to understand how this book is as successful as it is. The first 150 pages were nothing more than a tedious info dump and the rest of the book became a very obvious mystery that any crime reader worth his salt would have solved very early on. I'm told the other two books in the trilogy are much better but I have no urge to read them after wading through the first one.

5. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon. Beautifully written, simple story that repays re-reading. Good to see it in the Top 10.

6. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini. I'd have put good money on this one featuring in the Top 10. A regular book-club choice, it was inevitable.

7. The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak. Is it any good? No idea. I got thirty pages in before I gave up. I just didn't get it (and there are very few books I don't actually finish).

8. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini again. As No. 6.

9. The Road - Cormac McCarthy. Marvellous, if depressing and gritty novel from one of America's finest writers. Good that it figured in the Top 10 too.

10. Atonement - Ian McEwan. I like McEwan's books, I just haven't gotten around to this one yet.

The rest of the Top 50 is a bit less predictable and eclectic although I was hugely disappointed but not surprised to see the vastly overrated The Sea creep in at 44.

The full Top 50 can be found here.

Hughes & Hughes Goes Under

I was very disappointed to hear about the demise of the Hughes & Hughes bookshop chain over the weekend. Apart from the loss of over 220 jobs, it's always sad when an independent bookstore closes its doors. More information and updates can be found on the Irish Publishing News website.

H&H had a marvellous store in my hometown of Ennis. It was a modern bright bookshop with a Costa Coffee adjoining. The staff in there were very helpful when The Third Pig was first published and made sure it was prominent on the shelves.

It will be missed.