August 8, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books, Football, Sport

Bend It Like Bullard: Read with Jimmy

With his ruddy hilarious book Bend It Like Bullard out now, former Wigan/Hull City/Fulham hero Jimmy Bullard reads a few tales and tells us the stories behind them. Oh, and scroll all the way down for his outtakes video. You don’t want to miss it…

Read with Jimmy part 1: ‘The power cut

Read with Jimmy part 2: ‘The Extinguisher

And Jimmy is a true pro. As these outtakes show…

Bend It Like Bullard by the one and only Jimmy Bullard is out now. Order your copy HERE


August 7, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books

7 Book Covers That Make Awesome Posters

There are few things in life that we like more than damn fine book covers.

Yes, you should never judge a book by its cover, but when they are as incredible as these badboys it’s impossible not to. Here are some of our favourites from recent times that we’d happily have on the walls of our homes…

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A good book cover doesn’t have to just be consigned to a shelf – it can also be a piece of art in its own right. This is just a very small selection of our favourites, so do let us know yours on Twitter: @StareAtBooks

The full list of these bloody brilliant book covers:

1. American Pyscho by Bret Easton Ellis, published by Picador (image © Picador)

2. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, published by Penguin Classics (image © Penguin)

3. The Fields by Kevin Maher, published by Little, Brown (image © Little, Brown)

4. Snapper by Brian Kimberling, published by Tinder Press (image © Tinder Press)

5. Tequila Sunset by Sam Hawken, published by Serpent’s Tail (image © Serpent’s Tail)

6. No Fixed Abode by Charlie Carroll, published by Summersdale (image © Summersdale Publishers Ltd)

7. White Tiger on Snow Mountain, coming soon from New Harvest (image © New Harvest)


Roald dahl book covers

August 7, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books

Classic Roald Dahl book covers redesigned

The new cover for Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – unveiled yesterday by Penguin Books UK – is causing quite a stir on Twitter. A lot of people seem to hate it, but we love it.

Yes, it’s a bit weird, but that’s the whole point; it’s bold, edgy and totally unexpected. We take our hats off to the design team at Penguin Modern Classics.

And in homage to the slightly unnerving look on Veruca Salt’s plasticy face, we decided to help the Penguin design team out and create the next set of classic Roald Dahl book covers for them. You can have these on us guys:


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What do you think of the new Penguin Modern Classics cover for Roald Dahl’s chocolatey masterpiece? Love it? Hate it? Let us know: @StareAtBooks

This badass new edition will be available from September, and you can find out more about it on the Penguin blog.

alternative book covers

August 6, 2014, Posted by Ben Willis in Books

The 9 Best Alternative Book Covers

With so many designers now sinking their teeth into redesigns of their favourite books, we’ve picked out 9 of the best alternative book covers for your viewing pleasure. From Chuck Palahniuk to Neil Gaiman, Gulliver’s Travels to Hunger Games – let us know which ones are your favourites:


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The full list of 9 best alternative book covers:

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Designed by unknown

2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – Designed by Beth Elaine Austin 

3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – Designed by The Book Covers Project

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – Designed by M. S. Corley

5. Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – Designed by Jason Edmiston

6. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman – Designed by The Book Covers Project 

7. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – Designed by Ian Caulkett

8. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – Designed by Kevin Tong 

9. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – Designed by Rowan Stocks-Moore


July 28, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books

Andy McDermott: ‘There are plenty of fireworks’

With the ninth Wilde and Chase novel, The Valhalla Prophecy, out this week in paperback, we put a few questions to author Andy McDermott…


When you first came up with Nina and Eddie, did you ever envisage the success of the Wilde and Chase series, or that you’d reach book number nine?
God, no! If anyone had told me in 2006, when I wrote The Hunt For Atlantis, that by 2014 I’d be working on the eleventh Nina and Eddie book (my twelfth published overall), I would have thought they were crazy. Hunt was the ninth novel I’d written, and I honestly thought that of all of them, it had the least chance of selling. I was wrong – thankfully! So if you ever come to me for advice on a writing career, listen to what I say – then do the opposite.
Which authors and works inspired you to pick up a pen and enter into this genre?
I grew up reading thrillers by the likes of Alistair MacLean, Craig Thomas and Tom Clancy (up until his novels became fruit-loop polemics), and they were major influences on my style in terms of plotting and pacing – as was an author who isn’t traditionally considered a thriller writer, Iain M Banks. His Culture novels have some tremendously exciting huge-scale action sequences, as well as containing a lot of humour. The genre has a tendency to be very serious and po-faced, but I wanted to do something with more levity – which led to Eddie’s creation.

Films were also a big influence; my goal was to create a kind of James Bond/Indiana Jones/James Cameron/Die Hard action movie in book form. I’ve just optioned the film rights for the series, so maybe things will come full circle and I’ll see my novels on the big screen. Fingers crossed!
Something which fans of this series seem to love about Nina and Eddie is that, in some ways, they are just like any other couple – does this instalment continue to maintain the routine bickering of a married couple, alongside the action-packed narrative of an adventure epic?
Yes, it does – at the start of The Valhalla Prophecy, life is finally going just fine for the couple… which of course means that events turn everything upside-down! Nina learns that Eddie has been keeping some dark secrets about his past, and worse still he’s willing to sabotage her work to ensure they stay hidden. So there are plenty of fireworks.

The tenth instalment, Kingdom of Darkness, is highly anticipated. Where will it take Nina and Eddie?
The Valhalla Prophecy ends with an event that seriously changes Nina and Eddie’s lives, and part of Kingdom Of Darkness addresses how they deal with that and face up to their own mortality. But the villains in the new story will take any actions necessary to avoid facing death, setting our heroes on a quest that follows the footsteps of Alexander the Great as they try to stay ahead of a small army of Nazis – not neo-Nazis, but actual escaped war criminals who intend to bring about a Fourth Reich…

And which locations would you love to throw them into in the future?
Earlier this year I visited Iceland, which was stunning, and I’m determined to find a way for Nina and Eddie’s adventures to take them there. I’m already working on the next book, which will take them to Germany, the Caribbean and the deserts of Israel, amongst other locations. They’ve visited so many places that it’s getting hard to find countries to which they haven’t previously been!


THE VALHALLA PROPHECY by Andy McDermott is out now. Order a copy HERE

And follow Andy on Twitter: @AndyMcDermott

July 17, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books

The String Diaries – watch the exclusive book trailer

THE STRING DIARIES by Stephen Lloyd Jones is out now in paperback! A former BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick, it’s an engrossing and terrifying supernatural thriller and we all loved it.

And we weren’t the only ones hooked on The String Diaries:

‘So gripping you’ll want to read late into the night; so terrifying you shouldn’t’ Simon Mayo

‘Original, richly imagined and powerfully told’ Guardian

‘Will keep you awake late into the night’ SFX

Watch the trailer here…

Intrigued? You ruddy well should be. Order a copy of The String Diaries here, and follow author Stephen Lloyd Jones on Twitter: @sljonesauthor


July 16, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books

Make the ‘Seven For a Secret’ cocktail

To celebrate the paperback publication of SEVEN FOR A SECRET, author Lyndsay Faye and her husband Gabe have created this kickass new cocktail. Enjoy! (and drink responsibly!)

Wilde’s Secret Punch


1 1/4 oz Rye whiskey
1 1/4 oz Mint black tea*
3/4 oz Fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz Simple syrup
10 drops Rose flower water
Grated cinnamon (preferably fresh)

*Brew 10oz of hot water with 1 black tea bag and 1 peppermint tea bag.  Let cool.


Shake first 5 ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, grate cinnamon on top to finish.

Wilde’s Secret Punch can also be mixed in a big bowl with plenty of ice, making it perfect for book club meetings and parties.


Seven for a Secret is the second in Lyndsay’s Gods of Gotham series. Set in mid-ninteenth century New York, it’s perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Gangs of New York and Ripper Street. Find out more HERE people. Oh, and follow Lyndsay on Twitter. She’s cool: @LyndsayFaye



July 14, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books

Nathan Penlington interviews Diego Arandojo: ‘Edward Packard is a very important person’

The Boy in the Book author Nathan Penlington interviews Diego Arandojo, the creator of A Musical Tribute to Edward Packard: Master of Adventure, a musical salute to the genius behind the Choose Your Own Adventure books…

Many of my passions are what you could call niche. One of those passions however led me on an adventure that would change my life, an adventure that is documented in The Boy in the Book. It started with my obsession for Choose Your Own Adventure books, the revolutionary series that began in 1979 with The Cave of Time by Edward Packard. The book turned the notion of storytelling on its head, no longer were you just the passive observer of a narrative, you were the main protagonist of the story and each page offered you decision about what would happen next.

It was my birthday a few weeks ago and Sam Smaïl, one of the film makers I’ve been collaborating with on a live documentary version of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, gave me a present that instantly out niched my niche – a CD titled A Musical Tribute to Edward Packard: Master of Adventure. The track listings are all titles of Edward Packard books – The Mystery of Chimney Rock, Inside UFO 54-40, Space Vampire. My brain instantly exploded with excitement.

Tribute albums are a risky proposition; Radiodread instantly springs to mind. So it’s with a reggae version of Subterranean Homesick Alien looping through my brain that I press play on the CD player. The lounge fills with genre based film soundtracks – detective, horror, space – that sound like they’ve coincidently been pushed through a Radiohead filter tuned to Hail to the Thief. An ambient soundscape of shifting adventures, swings of tone and mood, montage of samples and style. In short it’s great.

I’m so taken with this album that I needed to know more – I mean what compels someone to fuse electronica with an iconic series of children’s books? So, I tracked down project creator Diego Arandojo to talk about the creation and inspiration behind the Master of Adventure.


Nathan: What makes Choose Your Own Adventure so special?

Diego: My first contact with Choose Your Own Adventure was when I was a little boy. For us, Latin Americans, Choose Your Own Adventure in the 80s and 90s was very important, they were a kind of teacher, a book teacher. These books were my first experience with reading. I still remember them well, because in each one I lived a different adventure. It was a very powerful experience.

For me Edward Packard is a very important person, thanks to him and his books, I became a reader and then through the years I became a writer. I work here in television as a script writer, and also on comic books. Choose Your Own Adventure was like an invisible school.

So, I can think that Choose Your Own Adventure was for me very special. The interview gave me the perfect excuse to read again the Choose Your Own Adventure books that I have in my library, which are more than 100. It was really delicious, going back in time, reading these marvellous books.


Nathan: Where did the idea of a musical tribute come from?

Diego: The idea of making this musical tribute began when I made an interview with Edward Packard – the interview was published in a digital magazine I have here in Argentina called Lafarium Cuartiquis.  It’s a fantasy phrase that means “room without space or time”. I made contact with Edward Packard through email, he was very kind, but also he is very funny because he said I will answer your questions but give me some time. Some time was three months.

It was in 2012. At the end of the special edition, where I also interviewed the Chilean Visual Baker, responsible for the remake in eBook format of Underground Kingdom, I got the idea of a CD tribute to Packard. I thought it was an interesting and intriguing idea: how would each book of Packard translate to a different musical style?


Nathan: Do you have a musical background?

Diego: I produce video art since 2002. I’m in constant contact with experimental musicians, also with more “conventional” genres as rock, pop and the heavy metal. With my friend Avencio Delgado from the music label GH RECORDS in Valencia, Spain, we work in collaboration. For example: Summoning the Elder Ones, inspired by the work of H. P. Lovecraft. It’s a musical tribute as well, with the music of the argentine IGNIIS and KAZERIA. Also, from GH RECORDS, we launched the DVD-CD Light of Baphomet, a tribute to the last grand master of the order of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay.


Nathan: How did you choose the books to turn into tracks, and decide which musician interpreted which book?

Diego: From the beginning the goal of the CD was to have a tribute composed of a different group of musical artists. In both countries, I mean Spain and Argentina, I chose bands of different musical styles, from metal, pop, rock, experimental, because Choose Your Own Adventure was a lot of different styles of adventures. Sport and time travel, space and ocean travel, and so on.

Initially I analyse which were the most popular books of Packard; those more iconic. Then I look for the musicians, by their styles and inclinations. So it was giving each book to a musician with the mission that translated the spirit of that particular text. For example: Chimney Rock has Black / Doom Metal style. The goal was that each track of the CD reflects the anima, the energy of each of Packard’s books. The result is a CD of multiple styles, diverse, rich musical differences.

Of course we have the authorisation of Edward Packard who gave us his blessing. We are deeply grateful to him. He is not just an excellent writer, he’s an excellent person. We love him.


To order the Master of Adventure CD visit GH Records:

Read Diego’s interview with Edward Packard in Spanish:

Boy in the Book TPB

The Boy in the Book is out now:

For Choose Your Own Documentary tour dates visit: