Costa book Awards 2013

The Costa Book Awards recognise the “most enjoyable books” in five categories – Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – published in the last year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.Many of the titles shortlisted for the 2013 awards have been reviewed by the Telegraph’s critics, some more favourably than others…

2013 Costa Novel Award – shortlisted titles:

Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson

Unexpected Lessons in Love, by Bernadine Bishop: ”

Instructions for a Heatwave, by Maggie O’Farrell:

All the Birds, Singing, by Evie Wyld:

2013 Costa First Novel Award – shortlisted titles

:Idiopathy, by Sam Byers: ”

.”Meeting the English, by Kate Clanchy:

The Shock of the Fall, by Nathan Filer:

Marriage Material, by Sathnam Sanghera:

 2013 Costa Biography Award

Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins, by Gavin Francis:

Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz, by Thomas Harding:

The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War, by Lucy Hughes-Hallett:

The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink, by Olivia Laing: “

2013 Costa Poetry Award

The Divine Comedy, translated by Clive James

.Division Street, by Helen Mort

Drysalter, by Michael Symmons Roberts:

Hill of Doors, by Robin Robertson:

2013 Costa Children’s Book Award

The Hanged Man Rises, by Sarah Naughton

Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door, by Ross Montgomery

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, by Chris Riddell

Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein

Louisa May Alcott

Little Women

Little Women

American novelist Louisa May Alcott was born November 29, 1832.She is best known as the author of the novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo’s Boys.Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May Alcott and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England she grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Nevertheless, her family suffered severe financial difficulties and Alcott worked to help support the family from an early age. She began to receive critical success for her writing in the 1860′s. Early in her career, she sometimes used the pen name A. M. Barnard.Published in 1868, Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts and is loosely based on Alcott’s childhood experiences with her three sisters. The novel was very well received and is still a popular children’s novel today. Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist.The novel follows the lives of four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March – and is loosely based on the author’s childhood experiences with her three sisters.

The first volume, Little Women, was an immediate commercial and critical success, prompting the composition of the book’s second volume, entitled Good Wives, which was also successful. Both books were first published as a single volume entitled Little Women in 1880. Alcott followed Little Women with two sequels, also featuring the March sisters: Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Little Women was a fiction novel for girls that veered from the normal writings for children, especially girls, at the time. Little Women has three major themes:”domesticity, work, and true love. All of them are interdependent and each is necessary to the achievement of a heroine’s individual identity.”Little Women itself “has been read as a romance or as a quest, or both. It has been read as a family drama that validates virtue over wealth.” Little Women has been read “as a means of escaping that life by women who knew its gender constraints only too well.” Alcott “combines many conventions of the sentimental novel with crucial ingredients of Romantic children’s fiction, creating a new form of which Little Women is a unique model.”  within Little Women can be found the first vision of the “American Girl” and that her multiple aspects are embodied in the differing March sisters.

Alcott “made women’s rights integral to her stories, and above all to Little Women.”Alcott’s fiction became her “most important feminist contribution”—even considering all the effort Alcott made to help facilitate women’s rights.” Alcott thought that “a democratic household could evolve into a feminist society.” In Little Women, she imagined that just such an evolution might begin with Plumfield, a nineteenth century feminist utopia.”Little Women has a timeless resonance which reflects Alcott’s grasp of her historical framework in the 1860s. The novel’s ideas do not intrude themselves upon the reader because the author is wholly in control of the implications of her imaginative structure. Sexual equality is the salvation of marriage and the family; democratic relationships make happy endings. This is the unifying imaginative frame. Never married, Alcott continued to write until her death, but suffered chronic health problems in her later years, including vertigo. She attributed her illness and death to mercury poisoning. During her American Civil War service, Alcott contracted typhoid fever and was treated with a compound containing mercury.Recent analysis of Alcott’s illness, however, suggests that her chronic health problems may have been associated with an autoimmune disease, not acute mercury exposure. Moreover, a late portrait of Alcott shows rashes on her cheeks, which is a characteristic of lupus. Alcott died at age 55 of a stroke in Boston, on March 6, 1888, two days after her father’s death.She is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts

Tribute to C.S.Lewis

LWW-CSLIrish novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis was born on 29th November 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. He is known for both his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy and his non-fiction, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain. Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. Both authors served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings”. At the age of 32 Lewis returned to the Anglican Communion, becoming “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England”. His faith had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim. Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copiesAmong his best known novels is The Pilgrim’s Regress, which was written in 1933 shortly after he converted to Christianity, this depicted his experience with Christianity in the style of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.  Lewis also wroteThe “Space Trilogy” (also called the “Cosmic Trilogy” or “Ransom Trilogy”) which dealt with what Lewis saw as the de-humanising trends in contemporary science fiction. The first book, Out of the Silent Planet, was apparently written following a conversation with his friend JRR Tolkien about these trends.

Lewis agreed to write a “space travel” story and Tolkien a “time travel” one, but Tolkien never completed “The Lost Road”, linking his Middle-earth to the modern world. Lewis’s main character Elwin Ransom is based in part on Tolkien, a fact Tolkien alludes to in his letters. The second novel, Perelandra, depicts a new Garden of Eden on the planet Venus, a new Adam and Eve, and a new “serpent figure” to tempt them. The story can be seen as an account of what could have happened if the terrestrial Eve had resisted the serpent’s temptation and avoided the Fall of Man. The third novel, That Hideous Strength, develops the theme of nihilistic science threatening traditional human values, embodied in Arthurian legend.Many ideas in the trilogy, particularly opposition to de-humanization as portrayed in the third book, are presented more formally in The Abolition of Man, based on a series of lectures by Lewis at Durham University in 1943.

Perhaps C.S.Lewis’s best known novels are The Chronicles of Narnia which are a series of seven high fantasy novels and are considered classics of children’s literature.  Set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a fantasy world of magic, mythical beasts, and talking animals, the series narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of that world. Except in The Horse and His Boy, the protagonists are all children from the real world, magically transported to Narnia, where they are called upon by the lion Aslan to protect Narnia from evil and restore the throne to its rightful line. The books span the entire history of Narnia, from its creation in The Magician’s Nephew to its eventual destruction in The Last Battle. The Chronicles of Narnia have also been adapted for stage, TV, radio, and cinema. 

Inspiration for the series is taken from multiple sources; in addition to adapting numerous traditional Christian themes, the books freely borrow characters and ideas from Greek, Turkish and Roman mythology as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales & have profoundly influenced adult and children’s fantasy literature since World War II. However

Lewis’s exploration of themes such as religion, race and gender in the novels has caused some controversy.

Lewis sadly passed away on 22 November 1963, as the result of renal failure, one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal because it was the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and Aldous Huxley, died. Lewis continues to attract a wide readership. In 2008, The Times ranked him eleventh on their list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945″. Readers are often unaware of what Lewis considered the Christian themes of his works. His Christian apologetics are read and quoted by members of many Christian denominations. Lewis has been the subject of several biographies. In 1985 the screenplay Shadowlands by William Nicholson, dramatising Lewis’s life and relationship with Joy Davidman Gresham, was aired on British television, starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom. This was also staged as a theatre play starring Nigel Hawthorne and made into the 1993 feature film Shadowlands starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. In 2005, a one-hour television movie entitled C. S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia, starring Anton Rodgers, provided a general synopsis of Lewis’s life. There is also A bronze statue of Lewis’s character Digory, from The Magician’s Nephew, stands in Belfast’s Holywood Arches in front of the Holywood Road Library.

Many books have been inspired by Lewis, including  Daniel Handler’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Authors of adult fantasy literature such as Tim Powers  have also been  influenced by Lewis’s work. Lewis was strongly opposed to the creation of live-action versions of his works. His major concern was that the anthropomorphic animal characters “when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare”.Several C. S. Lewis Societies exist around the world, including one which was founded in Oxford in 1982 to discuss papers on the life and works of Lewis and the other Inklings, and generally appreciate all things Lewisian. His name is also used by a variety of Christian organisations, often with a concern for maintaining conservative Christian values in education or literary studies. Film adaptations have been made of three of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010).Lewis is also featured as a main character in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series by James A. Owen. He is one of two characters in Mark St. Germain’s 2009 play Freud’s Last Session, which imagines a meeting between Lewis, aged 41, and Sigmund Freud, aged 83, at Freud’s house in Hampstead, London, in 1939, as the Second World War is about to break out.

Police by Jo Nesbo

16134936I am also a big fan of the exciting Nordic Crime novels by Jo Nesbo and would also like to read Jo Nesbo’s latest excitsoonng crime thriller Police, which once again features Detective Harry Hole (Holla) who For years, has been at the center of every major criminal investigation in Oslo and is called upon to investigate when a spate of brutal murders occur on Oslo’s streets, Involving policemen who are being killed at the scenes of former murders they had investigated but failed to solve. the media reaction hysterical and The police urgently need Harry Hole Whose dedication to his job and his brilliant insights have saved the lives of countless people.

However Hole is not in a position to protect anyone .His last adventure left him physically wrecked and his relations with police management had deteriorated to the point that he was ineffective in doing his job and he is now teaching at the Police Academy, and officially off the force.  Howeverthe rest of the team has been stymied as to the most recent killer. They have a prime suspect, but evidence points to his being dead. Now, with those he loves most facing terrible danger.Hole is talked into coming back To the Police, where his different approaches to solving crime , and his ability to spot holes in the reasoning of the rest of the team soon put the team on red alert.

 

 

 

Patricia Cornwell Dust

2013-11-29-11-07-53--2043000597I would like  to read Patricia Cornwell’s latest gripping crime thriller Dust which  features Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, who  has just returned from working one of the worst mass murders in U.S. history when she’s awakened at an early hour by Detective Pete Marino to

 be informed that A body, oddly draped in an unusual cloth, has just been discovered inside the sheltered gates of MIT and it’s suspected the identity is that of missing computer engineer Gail Shipton, last seen the night before at a trendy Cambridge bar. It appears she’s been murdered, mere weeks before the trial of her $100 million lawsuit against her former financial managers, and Scarpetta doubts it’s a coincidence. She also fears the case may have a connection with her computer genius niece, Lucy.

At a glance there is no sign of what killed Gail Shipton, but she’s covered with a fine dust that under ultraviolet light fluoresces brilliantly in three vivid colors, what Scarpetta calls a mineral fingerprint. Clearly the body has been posed with chilling premeditation that is symbolic and meant to shock, and Scarpetta has reason to worry that the person responsible is the Capital Murderer, whose most recent sexual homicides have terrorized Washington, D.C. Stunningly, Scarpetta will discover that her FBI profiler husband, Benton Wesley, is convinced that certain people in the government, including his boss, don’t want the killer caught. In Dust, Scarpetta and her colleagues are up against a force far more sinister than a sexual predator who fits the criminal classification of a “spectacle killer.” The murder of Gail Shipton soon leads deep into the dark world of designer drugs, drone technology, organized crime, and shocking corruption at the highest levels.With unparalleled high-tension suspense and the latest in forensic technology, Patricia Cornwell once again proves her exceptional ability to surprise—and to thrill.