May 5, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books

Sarah Leipciger’s cultural favourites

The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger is one of our favourite debut novels of 2015 so far. In fact, forget that; it’s one of our favourite novels of 2015 so far.

Set in a rugged Canadian landscape, it follows a hunter and single father, Tom Berry, as he tries to track down his wayward son, who has fled to avoid the consequences of a tragic accident. It’s already attracted many fans, including the likes of Mark Haddon and the fantastically bearded Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs, and we can’t recommend it highly enough.

With The Mountain Can Wait published on May 7th in hardback and ebook, we asked author Sarah Leipciger to pick out her cultural favourites…


For the record: I do not have a favourite book – cruel to ask such a thing – but for our purposes here I will give you The Diviners by Margaret Laurence (the lesser-known but equally splendid Canadian Margaret). Eight-year-old protagonist Morag Gunn delivers the best line in all of contemporary literature: “Hold onto your shit and never let them know you’re ascared.”


Cormac McCarthy. I want to be buried with my annotated copy of The Border Trilogy, so that when my tissues break down into cells into molecules into atoms, remnants of what was once me will continue through eternity with remnants of what were once his words.

Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy


My brother, Joshua Leipciger. I loved his art when we were small: tiny, perfect replicas in play-dough of Sesame Street characters playing music, set up on his desk. Big Bird with a banjo, Kermit on the drums, Oscar the Grouch with a harmonica. Now, my brother’s art is dark, spindly… pointed elbows and big noses, eyes out of whack. Long feet.


Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, a look at the ‘war on drugs’ in America. The film follows several intertwined story lines, commenting on the gross hypocrisy and general ignorance around the ‘war’ and drug addiction in the States and Mexico. He deconstructs the lines between good and bad, and throws into question characters’ motivations. And, well, truthfully, I’m completely in love with Benicio de Toro. Watch him at the end, sitting under the baseball-diamond lights, and you’ll be in love with him too.


Chocolate cake. Easy.


Cisk. It’s a Maltese lager. But it has to be served in a chilled can, on Ghan Tuffieha beach, with a rim of sand around the middle of the can from where it was stuck into the sand, and grains of sand have to cling to the edge of my bottom lip after I take a sip.


Ani DiFranco, or, as my brother calls her, Ani Disgruntled. Ah, her songs of heartache and political angst are what got me through university! But seriously, she’s a kick-ass lyricist and poet. She plays guitar and piano and a bunch of instruments I don’t know the names of like she was born to it. She produces her own music and has her own record label, isn’t afraid to mess around with her sound, and her live performances are ridiculously good. She banters with the audience, she’s funny as hell, and she plays long sets. I’ll always love you, Ani.

Place/holiday destination

Mount Robson, which is, I believe, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies. You don’t have to be some gortex-wearing, ice-pick-slinging mountaineer to enjoy Robson though. There are walks there for everyone, my favourite being the walk to Kinney Lake, an aquamarine glacial lake in the seat of granite peaks. If I believed in god, Kinney Lake would be my cathedral.


My favourite sport to do is open-water swimming, which I do a lot of. My favourite sport to watch others do is tennis (except for the super-slow-mo shots they’re so fond of broadcasting these days: I don’t need to see Novak Djokovic’s unmentionables swinging in his shorts). But I do love how the power balance in a tennis match can shift so dramatically from point to point. I suppose my favourite teams would have to be the teams my son plays for in both rugby and football. I’m the mum on the sidelines asking the other dads what the rules are.

The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger is published 7th May, by Tinder Press. Find out more here, and follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahLeipciger


April 30, 2015, Posted by Mr Book in Books

The Day of the Girl – Happy Birthday Lisbeth Salander!

Today is Lisbeth Salander’s birthday! Many happy returns to our favourite computer hacker, who will soon be back in bookshops in The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

She’s been away for a while, and it looks as though she’s been hacking away on BBC News in the meantime…


And speaking of open sandwiches, here’s a BuzzFeed article
we’re desperate to see…


But anyway, as huge fans of the Millennium series, we’re psyched that Lisbeth is returning for another instalment, and we’re certain it’s going to be worth the wait. There’s loads of activity happening on Twitter today to mark her birthday, so do get involved using #dayofthegirl

Happy birthday, Lisbeth!


The new book in the Millennium series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, has been written by Swedish author and journalist David Lagercrantz and will be published on September 1st 2015 by Quercus Books

April 27, 2015, Posted by Mr Book in Books

10 brilliant Neil Gaiman quotes

It’s no secret that we’re huge Neil Gaiman fans, and there are few things we enjoy more than inspirational, fantastical Neil Gaiman quotes.

Having devoured virtually everything he’s ever written, here are some of our favourite lines from his work. Enjoy these 10 brilliant Neil Gaiman quotes…











And for more words of wisdom from Mr Gaiman, be sure to follow him on Twitter: @neilhimself

Neil’s latest collection of short stories, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, is out now in hardback and ebook

April 23, 2015, Posted by Beau Merchant in Books, Music

IN THE ALL NIGHT CAFÉ – How Belle and Sebastian came to be

Now in their 21st year and with 9 studio albums under their kilts (the brilliant Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance was released earlier this year), this memoir by Belle and Sebastian founding member Stuart David explores the band’s formative year and the making of their much-loved debut, Tigermilk.

As a band mostly shrouded in mystery (the book’s title is a reference to the legend amongst fans that the band was formed one night in a café), it is fascinating and surprising to read such an honest and detailed account of how lead singer Stuart Murdoch’s ambition and vision led to a group of out-of-work musicians became the darlings of the melodic indie scene.

As well as the wider story of the band, this is also a very personal account of Stuart David’s time jumping from band to band with no crystal clear idea of what or where he wants to play. It’s not until he meets Murdoch at a sponsored music class for unemployed musicians that the beginnings of Belle and Sebastian begin to form. His relationship with Murdoch is warming, touching and you get a real sense of the respect David has for Murdoch as a songwriter and musician. The process and ideas behind the songs on Tigermilk give the tracks a new freshness and depth, and means new listens are rewarded.

A must-read for fans of Belle and Sebastian and anyone who had the dream of being in a band.

 in the all night cafe
In the All-Night Café by Stuart David is out now, published by Little, Brown

April 20, 2015, Posted by Mr Book in Books

Top YouTuber Marcus Butler to publish new book, Hello Life!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll have noticed the emergence of a new generation of stars: YouTubers. Funny, cool and very, very popular (everything we’re not, basically), these vloggers now rule the internet. And one of the most popular, Marcus Butler, is bringing out a book, Hello Life!

Although we’re not really the target market for vloggers, we have a lot of time for Marcus. He mixes light-hearted sketches and self-depracating comedy with serious empathy and advice for the problems that young people face today. He’s basically a very good egg, hence why he has over 2 million Twitter followers and 3.6 MILLION YouTube subscribers. Impressive stuff.

Watch Marcus announcing the book in the video below…


Hello Life!, the part-autobiography, part-self help guide from Marcus Butler, will be published on July 30th this year. Find out more and pre-order here


April 13, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Sport

New Ricky Hatton book out this May – Vegas Tales

Richard Hatton MBE, otherwise known as the legendary Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton, is one of the most successful and celebrated British boxers of all time. In May this year, he will reveal all about his five legendary Las Vegas fights in a brand new book…

Ricky Hatton’s Vegas Tales promises to lift the lid on all the memorable moments that shaped these fights, from negotiations, through trash-talking transatlantic promotional tours, gruelling training camps, bizarre encounters with opponents, fans, A-list celebrities and boxing legends; all the way to fight-week mayhem and the epic post-fight benders that followed.


From his memorable title wins over the likes of José Luis Castillo and Juan Urango through to his epic bouts with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and his penultimate fight with Manny Pacquiao, it’ll give you the full taste of what those Las Vegas adventures were really like.

If you’re into boxing, you won’t want to miss this one.

Ricky Hatton’s Vegas Tales will be published in hardback and ebook by Headline on May 19th 2015

April 9, 2015, Posted by Beau Merchant in Books

Mark Henshaw’s top cultural picks

Mark Henshaw’s first novel, Out of the Line of Fire, was published over 25 years ago to huge critical acclaim and is a classic, particularly in his native Australia. It’s been a while, but his new novel is out now in the UK and it’s been well worth the wait; The Snow Kimono is a gripping, stylish piece of literary fiction that reads like a thriller.

A retired French police inspector returns home to find a letter waiting for him, written by a woman claiming to be his daughter, and then a mysterious stranger turns up. The stranger begins to tell his story, and a bizarre and dangerous puzzle starts to be pieced together.

We loved The Snow Kimono, so decided to find out a bit about what makes Mark tick. Here are some of his cultural highlights…


Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was probably the book that did it for me. I read it when I was about seventeen and even though I didn’t think about writing myself until my early thirties, it’s a book that I’ve come back to again and again. It’s fantastic what Fitzgerald does in such a short space. Writers who have influenced me? Flaubert [Madame Bovary], Richard Yates [Revolutionary Road], Richard Ford [the early novels], and without doubt, the short stories of Alice Munro. But I also like the Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom [Rituals, The Following Story, A Song of Truth and Semblance] but there’s also Javier Marias [A Heart so White], Ian McEwan [Atonement], Michael Ondaatje [In the Skin of a Lion] and Michel Houellebecq [Atomised, Platform], amongst others.


God, where do you start? I worked as a curator of International Art for thirty years. So, Goya – hard-nosed, unflinching, incredibly ‘modern’. Ditto Otto Dix. And Max Beckmann. The later works of Willem de Kooning – fantastically lyrical and serene. But I also love Banksy – the works are brilliantly executed, and sometimes unbelievably poignant. He’s the artist I’d most like to own. The Australian artist Derek O’Connor. Plus I have a large collection of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints.


Polanski’s Chinatown, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Mikhalkov’s Burnt by the sun, Inarritu’s Babel. It was Babel that confirmed for me that you could make something coherent out of three separate stories. Film in general has been a huge influence on my work.


Thai, Italian. But my wife is a gourmet cook who likes to mix it up a lot. I like the unpredictable day-to-day adventure.

Mark HenshawAuthor Mark Henshaw (© Georgia Henshaw)


Coffee. I love coffee.

Place or holiday destination:

I’ve lived at various times in Germany, France, Yugoslavia and the US, but I’ve had wonderful holidays in northern Greece. I’ve driven twice from Athens to Paris and back. Paris has lots of good memories for me – The Snow Kimono is partly an homage to Paris. I like the south of France – small towns, modest lives, rich landscape. On the other hand, I have a house on the Australian south coast where the light is just unbelievably beautiful. This is probably my favorite place to go.


My tastes are pretty varied. At the moment I’m listening to Frazey Ford’s Indian Ocean. Leonard Cohen’s nostalgia speaks to me more and more as I get older. He’s a better philosopher than Sartre. I’m also a big Elvis Costello fan. I miss Amy Winehouse. Plus I listen to a lot of ‘classical’ music from Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time to Vivaldi.

Guilty pleasures:

Driving, cars – I currently drive an Australian-made 420 bhp V8 SSZ Commodore; fantastic fun, but I’m thinking about trading up to a VW Golf R. What else – gardening and garden design. Women’s fashion! Lastly – I’ve absolutely loved watching my two children grow up – I have a daughter who is 22, and a son who is 15. Best slow-narrative unfold ever.


The Snow Kimono is out now in hardback and ebook, published by the good people at Tinder Press

March 19, 2015, Posted by Mr Book in Books, Comics, Uncategorized

Comic Week: A taste of The Phoenix

As comic week continues, today we have a look at The Phoenix, an awesome weekly comic story. Have a browse, and check out more of their stuff at 


Don’t forget to check out this great blog piece by Neill Cameron, or take a look at some cultural highlights from the Etherington Brothers