Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Zoos. Reviews.

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

I came home from a lovely (very damp) week away to find that Cold Light has been nominated for this year’s Guardian’s Not the Booker.

Two years ago A Kind of Intimacy made the short-list, which was just splendid. So if you read Cold Light and you liked it you send me to the short-list again by clicking this link here and following the instructions. You need to write a short review to make your vote count.

If you didn’t like Cold Light, don’t let that stop you from voting. It almost always turns into a nice on-line scrap and there’s nothing like it, is there? There are some brilliant books on the long-list. Perhaps I’m supposed to vote under a series of aliases for myself, but my vote went to the book I nominated: Russ Litten’s Scream if you Want to Go Faster – and you can read my mini review of it here. I would have voted for Michael Stewart’s King Crow, also long-listed – a beautiful, startling, odd book set in Salford and Cumbria – a sort of Fight Club meets Kes – but Russ’ book just pipped it to the post by being so well constructed and unpredicatable. I wish I’d been allowed to vote twice.

I wrote on the ‘about’ pages of this blog that I don’t do book reviews. As ever, please refer to the title of this blog as an explanation for my recent review of David Whitehouse’s Bed which appeared in the Guardian Review last month.

I don’t know if reviewing is going to be a bigger part of the work I do in the future or not, yet. It is still something I have very mixed feelings about. I would, wouldn’t I? It’s strange and a bit not-on being the animal in the zoo as well as the person selling tickets at the gate, isn’t it? But reading is such a huge part of my working and thinking and writing life that it seems peculiar I rarely mention my opinions about the books I read in public. I will think on this more.

The next nice thing was hearing that Cold Light has been chosen by the Birmingham Books Festival to be their official Book of the Festival. I’ve appeared at various Writing West Midlands gigs over the years both as a writer and a reader and I have always been impressed by their events. I’ll be doing various things with the festival this Autumn, including an event on the 16th October. If you’re a bit skinty, the festival bods have just opened a competition where you can win two tickets for the event. All you need to do is write a short review of the book, and the best reviewer will be awarded the tickets.

Rabbit Hole

Monday, June 27th, 2011

I think a summer blog silence is becoming a bit of a habit. Last summer, I had a newborn and was busily finishing the edits and copy edits of Cold Light. The summer before I was writing Cold Light. And the summer before (I think) I was ‘on the road’ with a shed load of events for A Kind of Intimacy that didn’t leave much time or space for updating everyone on what I was up to.

A bit of deja-vu then.That’s all right. Except I’ve been teaching a few blogging workshops recently and keep guiltily overhearing my own voice talking about regularity of posting. As I say and not as I do.

I have finished a first draft of the Book In Progress and took June ‘off’ to do some more research, visit Utah (more about this some other time, I’m sure) and generally have a bit of a rest. The remainder of the summer will be spent on events, rewriting, planning my courses for the autumn teaching, working with my select and beloved set of Writing Smithy clients and waving at my offspring every now and again. Cold Light has been doing just fine without my interference, and is on its second printing already.

As I don’t have a lot of words for you today, here are some from others:

There’s a review of Cold Light from Book Munch by Amy Pointon and another at Jamie Fewey’s blog. A very recent one at The View From Here from the wonderfully named Grace Read (bet you a Polo she’s never heard that one before…). One more by Ben Myers at 3am Magazine and finally some nice words from For Books’ Sake.

And while I was away in Utah, a few appeared  in the print press too, which you can read here.

I also have some events booked. So if you wanted to see me reading from and talking about Cold Light or ask questions about writing, publishing, blogging or any of the other things that I do, then you could turn up at:

Hale Library at 7pm on Wednesday 29th June

or St Anne’s Library at 7pm on Wednesday 13th July

or Lancaster Oxfam Bookshop (Penney Street) at 3pm on Friday 15th July

or  at Bury Library at 7.30pm on the 18th July for the Bury Library Literary Salon

or Bolton Waterstone’s at 5pm on Thursday 28th July

Bye for now. I am booked for a very important engagement with a cup of tea and a piece of shortbread. Can’t be late for that.

New Things

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

During a week when I’d much rather be in bed, the duvet over my head, lights out and something not-nightmare-inducing on my MP3player, I learn that fame is mine at last and the American A Kind of Intimacy is going to have a bit-part in a film. Annie will be starring alongside Demi Moore and Miley Cyrus (better known to us all as Hannah Montana) in a film called LOL.

I am ludicrously pleased about this and even though Annie doesn’t have any lines they’ve promised not to use her in a derogatory or defaming manner. I expect she’ll be on a bookshelf or coffee table somewhere, or poking out of someone’s bag, or holding up a sash window, or propping up a wobbly table leg. Maybe she’ll be the book in the breast-pocket that stops a bullet bound for the heart. Perhaps there’ll be a code needing to be cracked and the book will be the key to the cipher (wasn’t that new Sherlock brillo-brilliant? He’s no Jeremy Brett, but extremely easy on the eye all the same).

I never thought people needed to ask permission for such things. The people making the film aren’t quoting my words and it seems more credit should be due to the cover designer, model and photographer than me. It’s book-as-object they want, not book-as-story. Perhaps I am over thinking. Still, it’s quite exciting and will probably have me in the cinema scrutinising the backgrounds for my green book as soon as the film comes out. I’ll be gutted if it gets edited out. I can’t think of anything worse than being an actor, but having Annie stand in for me and appear in a real, proper film is Top Banana.

The technical term is ‘set dressing’. It is product placement Gone Wild!

And here’s another US review via Mary Whipple Reviews. Mary helpfully includes a picture of some possible semi detached houses for her readers. I always wondered which bits of my book might need a bit of cultural translation. Duplexes are one on top of the other, aren’t they? I just heard the book is going to be included in a Barnes and Noble new writers promotion – something similar, I think, to the Waterstones New Voices promotion the UK edition was included in shortly after it was published. Having your book in the window / face out makes a difference. It makes me happy that A Kind of Intimacy seems to be doing well in the US. Are there any US readers of this blog? Do any of you live in duplexes?

This article from The Guardian by Frank Cottrell Boyce made me happy too. Apparently his son thinks he sits in his office retyping Millions all day so that everyone can have a copy. My Small Fry also thinks I’m a typist. There’s nothing like the contemptuous sneer of a five-year old (why are there lots and lots of that book you wrote still in your office?) to keep things in perspective. It’s only a job.

Current worries and concerns: travel to London. Getting eaten by rats on the tube. Shoes. Cat hairs. Not reading enough. Everyone having colds. The bead and button box being knocked over. Swearing in public and not realising it because I’ve been house-bound for two months. Writing / not writing a blog. Relative sizes of jeans in different shops (still). The great clutter clear out of 2010.

#18 / 100

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Alison Moore’s story chapbook, when the door closed, it was dark published by Nightjar Press.

I bought this, along with the rest of the Nightjar titles when Nicholas Royle came to Preston to read at the last Word Soup – all the titles had been recommended to me by Sarah Hymas, who knows the sort of thing I like.

This story was word-perfect, creepily heavy, not a word extra and had an atmosphere that started making me feel sick from the first page. It’s a story that needs rereading, which I did, the second I finished it the first time, and again today. I have the rest of the titles from Nightjar, and I’ll be taking my time over them. Need to space them out, as I’ve been seething with jealousy over the way Alison Moore puts her words together all day. I like feeling like that too. I’ve had a blue week and this dark, nasty story has jolted me out of it.

I don’t know why uneasy, elliptical stories like this make me happy, but they do.

This one did.

This isn’t a review, but a recommendation. Still, you should know that I don’t know Alison, and I did not get this book for free either. Does that make my opinion count more? I have no idea.

Politico Review + Interview + Cold Light Update

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Here’s another review of A Kind of Intimacy – this one from the Politico website. Shane Creevy, the reviewer, also interviewed me for the site – and if you skip past the swathes of my opining, you’ll get to the last question, where I give a sneak preview into what Cold Light is going to be like.

You might have guessed I missed my Valentine’s Day deadline. A Small Fry who was sick through half term and me being exhausted after programming and hosting two literature events knocked my plans out a little bit.

But now, I am done. I’m going to proof read, again, over the weekend, and it’s out of here on Monday.

I am pathetically excited. Second Novel Syndrome my arse!


Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Here’s a link to another very kind review of A Kind of Intimacy over at Dirty Sparkle by Jacqueline Christodoulou – who was quick off the mark and won a book in the giant blog-give-away extravaganza.

Beware – there aren’t spoilers, but she does mention more about the ending than I’ve seen on-line before.

Little Plugs

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Layla, who won a free copy of A Kind of Intimacy in the great big blog give-away extravaganza to celebrate the launch of the new little version C-format paperback (phew) has posted a very kind review here….

I’m always especially interested in people’s reactions to my writing, but in particular to Annie’s character. I think I like her and feel sorry for her and want her to do well much more than anyone else does. Chris, who read a very very early scene from this novel (the house-warming party, for those of you who’ve had the cringing pleasure…) said that Annie was as gentle as a lamb. And yes, despite all the things she does, I think she is. But I think I’m possibly over-protective, and very biased.

Second plug: Tania Hershman, author of the Orange-Prize commended The White Road and Other Stories – as well as a blogger, and editor of the very good Short Review invited me over to her place to do a guest blog / interview for her Writing and Place series – a regular feature on her blog that lets different writers examine what place, home and location mean to them personally and how it affects their writing.

Without planning it, or realising it was going to become important to me until it did, I’ve written two novels set in Lancashire and soon I’ll be setting out on another. And there’s not a flat-cap, set of clogs or whippet in sight.

To find out why I think bread-bins drive a person to murder and how, exactly, Preston is like trousers, go here.

NB: Do NOT ask me how Cold Light is going. Who decides to get sick during half term? Who does that? Harumph. 

A Kind of Intimacy give-away #2

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

The winners of the book give-away I announced here a few days ago have been picked, contacted and should be receiving their books any time now.

If you missed out, CrimeFicReader is running another give-away of a signed (by me) copy of the novel on her blog. What you need to do, I think, is read the review she gave of the book when it first came out, and then comment on her original post by the 14th Feb telling her how you think you’d relate to Annie, the novel’s narrator. And the best answer, as judged by her, gets the book.

I’ll also be doing an interview with her on the 25th Feb which is the official day the C-format paperback comes out. I’m sure she will be amenable to any suggestions of questions you’d like her to ask me if you contact her via the comments form on her blog.

So, off you go. 🙂

And The Winners Are…

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Sorry for the delay in posting this… things have been bedlam over here in Preston.

The lucky winners of the Blog Giveaway are…

Elizabeth Wilkinson from Ormskirk Writing and Literature Society
Toni (no details for you Toni…)
Sj (no details for you yet either)
Martine Ellison-Smith
Tyler Massey @tylermassey and Tyler
Annie Clarkson at Forgetting the Time
Layla Vandenbergh @LalaL0 and The Intercontinental Music Lab
Marjorie Taylor (no details here yet)
Jacqueline Christodoulou at Dirty Sparkle
James Wall
Carolyn (no details here either)

For those of you who commented on the original blog post and do not have profiles that lead back to blogs and email addresses, you need to contact me with your postal address and details of your blog or where you plan to put the review.

These are the first ten. And because Daniela at Arcadia is so generous, she’s promised me a couple of extra copies that will be winging their way to Tom and Holly.

If the people who I don’t have details for, but who made the top ten, don’t get back to me by wednesday with their details, I will move down the list and offer the book to someone else. So if you didn’t get in on time, don’t despair yet… 🙂

The Great Blog Giveaway

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Hello Readers.

You may not know this, but the C-format paperback (the little, less expensive one) version of A Kind of Intimacy is out soon, published by Arcadia on the 25th February – although the beady eyed among you might already have seen it in bookshops here and there earlier in the month.

I’ve got ten copies that my publisher are keeping safe, ready for me to give away. It’s not a competition – the first ten people to email me or comment on this post (I’m jenn dot ashworth at gmail dot com) will be getting a book.

To tempt you, you can read a tiny extract of the book here.

There’s only one catch. In return for a FREE book, I’d like you to promise to review it somewhere on-line. This could be your own blog, a guest post on someone else’s blog, a reader-review on Amazon or even a video on You-tube. So long as it’s public and can be linked to, we’re on.

And by ‘review’, I’m fairly flexible too. If you want to interview me, we can do that instead. If you want to take some pictures of you reading the book in amusing places, that will do. If you want to live-tweet your thoughts at the end of each chapter, okie dokie by me. Write an alternative ending or invent some deleted scenes? That works for me (in fact, I’d LOVE it). Dress up as Annie and invite yourself round to your next door neighbour’s house? Be my guest.

If you didn’t like the book, that’s okay too, just remember, once I’ve posted it, I know where you live.

I know many readers of this blog (all seven of you) have already read and invested in the big version of the book. That’s all right. You can help out too. Feel free to re-post this give-away on your own blog, on facebook, twitter and where-ever else you hang out. I’m not picky.

Thank you.

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