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2018’s Quick Reads Titles Are Here…

Quick Reads 2018

Six enticing Quick Reads titles from well-loved authors will be released by The Reading Agency on 1 February 2018. The selection of titles written by bestselling writers Fern Britton, Dorothy Koomson, Mark Billingham, Kit de Waal, Tammy Cohen and Vaseem Khan span the globe from Mumbai to Ghana, from Cornwall to inner cities and explore a wide range of themes including friendship, secrets and lies, marriage and the horror that losing your phone can bring.

Quick Reads was founded by Baroness Gail Rebuck DBE in 2006 to provide shorter, easier to read, accessible fiction for less confident adult readers. Now in its 12 th year, the programme has distributed over 4.8 million books since it was launched and introduced hundreds of thousands of new readers each year to the joys and benefits of reading.

One in six adults in the UK struggles with reading, 1 whilst one in three does not read for pleasure; 2 Quick Reads are designed to break down the barriers that prevent people from picking up a book. 95% of literacy practitioners report that using Quick Reads has been effective at raising learners’ confidence in reading, whilst 91% say that the books have been effective at improving readers’ literacy skills.

The Quick Reads titles for 2018 are:

Cut Off by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown):
A punchy, taut urban thriller about that moment we all fear: losing our phone! For Louise, losing hers in a local café takes a sinister turn. Billingham has sold five million copies of his novels and has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Award for Crime Novel of the Year.

The Great Cornish Getaway by Fern Britton (HarperCollins):
As the sun sits high in the sky over Cornwall, and the sea breeze brings a welcome relief to the residents of the seaside village of Trevay, a stranger arrives in need of a safe haven. The former presenter of This Morning, Britton is now a Sunday Times bestselling author and this story is full of her usual warmth and wit.

Clean Break by Tammy Cohen (Transworld):
A dark and twisty portrait of a marriage coming to its bitter end, from the mistress of domestic noir. Can Kate rid herself of her jealous husband before it’s too late? Cohen’s acclaimed novels include ‘The Mistress’s Revenge’, ‘The War of the Wives’ and ‘Someone Else’s Wedding’.

Inspector Chopra and the Million-Dollar Motor Car by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton):
An enchanting Baby Ganesh Agency novella from the bestselling Khan set in the bustling back-streets of Mumbai. Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick have two days to solve the mystery of a missing – and very costly – car for its gangster owner, or there’ll be a heavy price to pay.

The Beach Wedding by Dorothy Koomson (Arrow):
A gripping short read featuring a wedding, family drama, and old secrets. Tessa is thrilled when her daughter arrives in Ghana to get married but memories of the last time she was there haunt her; can she lay the ghosts of the past to rest or will they come back to haunt her daughter’s future? Koomson is the bestselling author of 12 novels including ‘The Ice-Cream Girls’, ‘My Best Friends’ Girl’ and most recently ‘The Friend’.

Six Foot Six by Kit de Waal (Viking):
A charming novella from Costa First Novel Award shortlisted author de Waal about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. Everything changes for Timothy, a 21 year old with learning difficulties, when local builder Charlie calls on him for help. De Waal worked in criminal and family law and was a magistrate for many years before her international bestseller, ‘My Name is Leon’ was published.

Baroness Gail Rebuck, DBE, Founder, Quick Reads, says: “Since the Quick Reads programme launched 12 years ago, it has brought the pleasures of reading to millions of adults. Once again, I am delighted to announce, alongside The Reading Agency, six more inspiring reads for 2018. Books that will entice, entertain and unlock new worlds; this selection of titles by bestselling writers is ideal for adults who may be low in reading skills, confidence and time.”

Fanny Blake, Commissioning Editor, Quick Reads, says: “This year, I’m proud to introduce a very strong and varied new collection of Quick Reads for 2018 that has something for everyone. We have a gorgeous escapist tale by Fern Britton, set in her beloved Cornwall, Dorothy Koomson’s shock wedding drama played out in a Ghanaian beach resort, Vaseem Khan’s latest Inspector Chopra mystery set in Mumbai, a punchy thriller from Mark Billingham, a twisty portrait of a marriage from Tammy Cohen and a charming novella about an unlikely friendship from Kit de Waal. I hope lots of people will read and enjoy them!”

Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency, says: “This is an exciting, varied list of titles which we hope will inspire people across the country to pick up a book, whether they lack confidence with reading or just want a light, easy read for their commute. At The Reading Agency we believe that everything changes when we read. Evidence shows that Quick Reads are a powerful tool in encouraging adults to read for pleasure.”

Mark Billingham, 2018 Quick Reads author, says: “I am thrilled to be part of the Quick Reads initiative. It’s hugely important to support literacy and to encourage those for whom picking up a book does not come quite so naturally as it does to others. Reading a book is stepping into another world and anything that nudges that door open should be welcomed. It’s an honour to be a Quick Reads author.”

Fern Britton, 2018 Quick Reads author, says: I had one, much older sister as I was growing up so no siblings to play with. Finding books was my greatest joy. Fairy stories with lovely colourful drawings, Enid Blyton adventures and then The Chronicles of Narnia really shaped my imagination. The Quick Reads initiative is enormously important and offers great stories for anyone.

Tammy Cohen, 2018 Quick Reads author, says: “I was lucky enough to grow up in a house filled with books so I’ve always known how a book can be friend, teacher, comfort, inspiration, conversation-starter, table-leg-propper-upper; how it can fill long journeys and even longer nights. I can’t even begin to imagine a life without reading, which is why I was so delighted to take part in the Quick Reads scheme. If I can help just one adult discover the life-changing joy of books, I’ll consider it one of my proudest achievements.”  

Vaseem Khan, 2018 Quick Reads author, says: “I firmly believe that reading is the foundation for learning. Growing up as someone from a less economically advantaged background reading was both my escape and my inspiration. Today I am a writer because of reading. But reading doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Quick Reads’ great insight is to realise that even those who find reading a challenge hanker for exciting, well-written stories that are simple to read. I am delighted that Quick Reads has given me the opportunity to inspire others by providing at least one such story.” 

Dorothy Koomson, 2018 Quick Reads author, says: “I am thrilled to have written The Beach Wedding for Quick Reads 2018. I’ve been a long-term supporter of this scheme, which helps people who aren’t confident readers or who have got out of the habit of reading for pleasure. I believe reading is very empowering and I support all things that encourage people to build their ability with it.”

Kit de Waal, 2018 Quick Reads author, says: “It’s a real privilege to be asked to write something for Quick Reads.  There were no books in the house I grew up in. I only started reading and writing later in life and discovered how important books are and that everyone, no matter what your ability or circumstances, can enjoy reading and have that sense of accomplishment when you turn that last page.  Books can change lives – sometimes for a minute, sometimes for a lifetime. Quick Reads can be part of that change and I hope I have been part of it too.”

Win A Copy Of My Mother’s Secret By Sheila O’Flanagan

My Mother's SecretI’ve a copy of Sheila O’Flanagan’s book, ‘My Mother’s Secret’ to give away to one lucky person.

What the back cover says –

When Steffie helps her two siblings organize a surprise wedding anniversary party for their parents her only worry is whether they’ll be pleased. What she doesn’t know is this is the day that her whole world will be turned upside down.

Jenny wants to be able to celebrate her ruby anniversary with the man she loves, but for forty years she has kept a secret. A secret that she can’t bear to hide any longer. But is it ever the right time to hurt the people closest to you?

As the entire family gather to toast the happy couple, they’re expecting a day to remember. The trouble is, it’s not going to be for the reasons they imagined…

I recently read this book and really enjoyed the warm hearted story of family secrets and sibling rivalry and you can read my thoughts on the book here.

To be in with a chance of winning this lovely story, simply answer the following question by leaving your answer in the comment box below.

How long has has Steffie’s parents been married?

Closing date is Monday 12th February 2018. Good luck!

Manchester: A City Of Grey Areas By Marnie Riches

Marnie Riches.Credit-Phil-TragenOn the concluding day of the book tour for Marnie Riches new book, ‘The Cover-Up’. Marnie talks about the criminal landscape of Manchester.

‘The Cover-Up’ has just published. If someone asked me what was the most interesting element of this book and its predecessor, ‘Born Bad’, I’d say that it’s examining the morally grey areas that are part of the criminal landscape. My Manchester series is all about gangsters. One or two are irredeemably wholly nasty characters.

Paddy O’Brien, for example, is a beast of a man. You’re meant to love to hate him. Though he has survived a tragic childhood, he is so unremittingly violent and bullying that it’s impossible for the average reader to identify with him. The same is true of the strange and deadly assassin, The Fish Man. But as the author, I had the greatest fun writing the characters of Leviticus Bell, his mother Gloria, and of course, Sheila O’Brien.

How far are these three leading protagonists away from you or me? Not very, I’ll vouch. They, above all the colourful characters in ‘The Cover-Up’, including Frank O’Brien, the superclub owner, Hank the Wank, the spying builder and Youssuf Khan, the long-suffering father, are the closest to your average citizen…gone wrong.

Imagine that you’re a young man with a terrible, drug-addicted babymother, an unloving narcissist of a mother, no education, few legitimate employment prospects and an ailing baby son whom you adore. Those are the hurdles in life faced by Leviticus Bell. He already thinks he’s killed one man and he’s continually waiting for retribution to come and find him, wearing a knuckle duster and carrying a gun. What lengths would you go to to remedy your situation and to secure a brighter future for your son? Now, imagine that you’re a battered wife.

Having escaped the clutches of your violent, domineering husband, what would you do if you were faced with having inherited an empire worth millions in dirty money? Would you relinquish it so easily? How would you even dispose of the effects without getting embroiled in a court case that could put you in prison as an accessory?

The Cover Up

You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. So, would you willingly hand your children’s inheritance over to strangers for free or at a knock-down price? And imagine you came from absolutely nothing – a poor girl who had been abused, manipulated by men and denigrated all her life. If you convinced yourself that you were doing other abused women a favour, would you try to better yourself through a less-than-legitimate business? If you were a cleaner who had the chance to turn your u-bend-scrubbing skills into a profitable company, employing others, though the pay was solely a roof over their heads in substandard accommodation and you, personally, were able to move out of a concrete ghetto to the leafy suburbs, would you?

These are the moral decisions faced by the characters in ‘The Cover-Up’ and its predecessor, Born Bad. As a litmus test for your ability to navigate your way through those grey areas, how about you give ‘The Cover-Up’ a read and see which side of the fence you find yourself sitting? Staying on the right side of the law when faced with temptation and the potential for loss of liberty is not as clear-cut a path as you might think…especially when the stakes are so high!

You can buy The Cover Up from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Book News – The Man I Think I Know By Mike Gayle

The Man I Think I KnowOne of my favourite British authors, Mike Gayle is back with a new book in 2018 called ‘The Man I Think I Know’.

What the back cover says –

Whatever happens to those kids at school who are always being tipped to be stars in adult life?

Danny Morgan and James McManus – rivals for top honours in everything throughout their school years in Birmingham.

Whatever their friends and teachers might have expected, neither Danny nor James is currently running the country.

Depressed and unemployed, Danny is facing an ultimatum from his girlfriend Maya: if he doesn’t get out and get a job, she’s leaving.

It was an accident that changed James’s life and now he is looked after affectionately by his parents. But his sister Martha believes that the role of full-time carers is destroying their lives – and infantilising her brother.

She suggests that James should go into a respite home while her parents take a break.

The respite home, as it turns out, where Danny has just got a job.

What is the path that has brought these two people to this unexpected place, and where will it take them next?

I’ve been so lucky to have received a proof copy of the book and I have spent the last couple of days reading this warm hearted story and I have to say that I am truly loving it so far.

You can pre-order The Man I Think I Know from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 19th April 2018.

Stand By Me Book Tour – Extract

Stand By MeOn today’s book tour, sit back and enjoy an extract from chapter four of S.D Robertson’s latest heartbreaking book called ‘Stand By Me’.

‘Next door’s on fire,’ she said. ‘I got Elliot out, but he’s in a state. There’s flames and smoke and I don’t know what to do. Please get help.’

As she said this, in one long garbled breath, the man dashed to the phone to call the fire brigade.

His wide-eyed wife started asking Lisa questions, but it was too much for her to handle. Her legs gave way and she crumbled on to the doorstep, erupting into a coughing fit.

Kneeling down and helping her into a sitting position against the door, the woman said: ‘You poor thing. You’re shattered. Come on, we need to get you inside.’

‘No,’ Lisa panted, trying but failing to stand up again. ‘First Elliot.’

In desperation, she pointed at her friend’s body slumped in the garden; the woman, noticing him for the first time, held her hand up to her mouth and gasped.

‘Don’t panic. I think . . . he’s just drunk,’ Lisa said, hoping she was right. And then, without warning, the tears started to flow. ‘I couldn’t wake him up,’ she sobbed. ‘I was so scared, I—’

‘The fire brigade’s on the way,’ the husband said. ‘Any idea how it started?’

‘I’m not sure,’ Lisa replied. ‘I just turned up, saw all the smoke and ran in there to get my friend out.’ She remembered seeing the kitchen bin well ablaze and had a bad feeling it might have been something to do with El smoking and leaving a fag butt in there, but the last thing she wanted to do was point the finger of blame.

All of a sudden, Lisa felt dizzy and nauseous. ‘I think I’m going to . . .’

Everything went black.

You can buy Stand By Me from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

If you would like to me hear my thoughts on ‘Stand By Me’, then read my review.