Summer Reads 2012

I’m lining up two books to begin my summer holiday reading this year.

Since seeing Edmund de Waal on The Book Show I’ve been looking forward to reading his family history told through 264 objects, The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance. We follow these tiny wood and ivory carvings, called ‘netsuke’, on their journey from Odessa to Tokyo by way of fin de siecle Paris and occupied Vienna. A rich source of inspiration if ever there was.

The other title I’m keen to dive into is Peter Carey’s latest novel, The Chemistry of Tears, just out this week. The premise sounds fascinating: an automaton, a man and a woman who can never meet, and a secret love story. In London 2010, Catherine Gehrig deals with the death of her married lover by throwing herself into work on a special project. She discovers handwritten notebooks from the 19th century man who commissioned the automata she has been asked to bring back to life. Do either of these make your shortlist too?

J.K. Rowling Reveals Pottermore Secret

J.K. Rowling has been keeping us guessing about her big announcement, and today she finally revealed all. The Harry Potter author has created something which is described as: “a free website that builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books.” It will open to all in October, but fans can return on 31 July to find out how to enter early. The series of seven will be available to buy as e-books from the site, and digital audio books will also be downloadable. Rowling says fans will help shape the site and she’ll also be joining in. She said: “I will be sharing additional information I have been hoarding for years about the world of Harry Potter.” Watch the announcement above. Are you excited about this new venture?

Grazia and Waterstone’s Summer Book Club

Waterstone’s and Grazia have revealed the ten titles for their summer Book Club, with the magazine stating: “the It book is as important as the It bag”. The chosen books, including Orange Prize winner The Tiger’s Wife, will be displayed prominently in Waterstone’s. Check out the full list when you read more.

Holiday Reads Set in Greece

The Guardian asked writers to share their most memorable holiday reads, and a title that came up more than once was John Fowles’ The Magus. As a fan of holidaying in Greece (I’ve done so for the past 10 years) I’m interested in books set there. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a selection to suit various tastes, from general fiction and literary novels to touching and bizarre short stories.

To find out more about each of the titles, keep reading.

Adaptations: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Trailer 2

The release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is less than a month away, and we’ve been treated to a second trailer for the final film of the franchise.

I have to admit, it gave me chills. The special effects look amazing, and Helena Bonham Carter is as sinister as ever. I’m planning on re-reading the book and re-watching Part 1 before I take my seat in the cinema for the final installment.

Watch the trailer when you read more.

J.K. Rowling Unveils Intriguing Pottermore Website

Harry Potter fans could be in for a treat as a new website has been unveiled. currently consists of just a holding page with J.K. Rowling’s signature and the tantilising message ‘Coming soon…’. There is a Twitter account too.

The site was revealed in a Secret Street View challenge, where Rowling gave ten Potter websites co-ordinates relating to a different letter in Pottermore. The name is said to be the last patent recorded by Rowling back in July 2009. An editor claims to have seen a sneak preview and calls it “breathtaking in scope, detail and sheer beauty.”

Naturally, there’s now speculation there will be more Potter novels, but a spokeswoman at Rowling’s PR company said: “It is not another Harry Potter book but we cannot reveal any more at this stage, fans will have to keep an eye on the website. It will be launching soon.”

The Bookseller adds that the spokeswoman refused to confirm if there was a link between the new website and the release of e-books. What do you think it is?

Katie Price Plans to Break Book Signing Record

Katie Price’s book signings are spectacular headline-grabbing events, so it’s no surprise that her next one will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the biggest book signing by a single author.

Katie is hoping to sign more than 1,951 copies of her latest work of fiction, The Comeback Girl, in Leeds on 27 July. Participants will be rewarded by being listed in the acknowledgements of her next novel and receiving a wristband, with one fan randomly picked to appear as a character.

Even without these incentives, I’m sure Katie won’t struggle to fill the O2 Academy in Leeds with autograph seekers. Whether she’s promoting a novel, children’s book or autobiography, she pulls the crowds and the press attention thanks to her brilliantly bonkers costumes and props.

Publicity director at Random House, Charlotte Bush said: “The Guinness World Records attempt will be Katie’s 113th signing with Random House and we are determined to make it her biggest yet.”

Téa Obreht Defies the Bookies to Win Orange Prize

The bookies got it wrong this time, as The Tiger’s Wife won the Orange Prize 2011. Emma Donoghue was the favourite to win with Room, but 25-year-old Obreht scooped the honour, becoming the youngest winner of the annual prize for fiction written by women.

Chair of Judges, Bettany Hughes said of Obreht: “By skilfully spinning a series of magical tales she has managed to bring the tragedy of chronic Balkan conflict thumping into our front rooms with a bittersweet vivacity.”

What do you think of the result?

Spotlight On: Books for Father’s Day

With Father’s Day coming up on 19 June, I’ve been thinking about books related to dads. It’s difficult to offer recommendations for books to give as presents, as the best gifts are those which are personal to the person receiving them. What I’ve done instead is selected a couple of books that beautifully explore the intricacies of fatherhood: Danny the Champion of the World and Ulysses. What are your favourite books about fathers?

New Children’s Laureate to Champion Libraries

creator Julia Donaldson is the new children’s laureate. She is the seventh to hold the post, following in the pen-strokes of Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen and Anthony Browne. It’s Browne, her predecessor, who urged Donaldson to champion libraries. In an open letter he wrote: “Do everything you can to support libraries – God knows, they need every bit of help they can get nowadays.”

To find out how Donaldson plans to support libraries, keep reading.