25 January 2008

Celebrate Burns Night with a wee dram

Many people the world over will celebrate Burns Night tonight.

Being Scottish myself I normally celebrate with a Burns supper. We usually have friends round to eat haggis, tatties-an’-neeps washed down with some good old Scotch whisky. After a tipple or two we may even recite some our favourite Burns’ poems.

The first suppers were held in Ayrshire at the end of the 18th century by friends of the poet. He is now widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and his work is celebrated worldwide.

Julie Murphy, Online Editor

24 January 2008

Sue Grafton wins Cartier Diamond Dagger

The Crime Writers’ Association has awarded this year’s Cartier Diamond Dagger Award to American novelist, Sue Grafton who is well know for her Alphabet series of crime novels. The first book in the series, A is for Alibi was inspired by the author’s own divorce. She said: “For months I lay in bed and plotted to kill my ex-husband, but I knew I’d bungle it and get caught so I wrote it in a book instead.”

Sue Grafton has been writing the series which feature private investigator Kinsey Millhone for over twenty-five years. Ms Grafton plans to carry the series all the way through to Z. The latest, T is for Trespass, was published in the US in December 2007 and is available to download in the unabridged form from Audible. The print book will come out in the UK in April 2008.

Ms Grafton’s novels are published in 26 languages and in 28 countries, including Bulgarian and Indonesian although she has consistently refused to sell the film and television rights, claiming her experience as a screenwriter “cured” her of the desire to work with Hollywood.

Sue Grafton wins the Cartier Diamond Dagger in its twenty-third year. Previous winners include John Harvey, Elmore Leonard, Ian Rankin, Lawrence Block, Sara Paretsky, Colin Dexter, Ed McBain, Reginald Hill, Ellis Peters, Dick Francis, and PD James.

21 January 2008

Beat the Monday Blues

Experts have calculated that today is Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year. Triggers for Blue Monday include the weather and the arrival of the Christmas credit card bill.

Dr Cliff Arnall, a psychologist at Cardiff University’s Center for Lifelong Learning, devised the formula. His equation takes into account six factors: weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year's resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.

All is not doom and gloom though… If you are looking for a cheap and cheerful way to beat the January Blues up why not download some comedy from Audible. Research demonstrates the amazing health benefits of laughter and throughout January we’ve got some great comedy from popular comedians such as Mitchell and Webb and The Mighty Boosh for just 3.99 - guaranteed not so to do too much damage to the credit card! To see all the comedy titles at 3.99 click here.

And if you want to tackle those unresolved new year resolutions click here to download our free podcast which is full of top tips from our leading self-help experts on how to get the most out of 2008.

Julie Murphy, Online Editor

11 January 2008

Young Stalin wins Costa Biography Award

Congratulations to Simon Sebag Montefiore who recently won the Biography category of the prestigious Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Book Awards) for Young Stalin. The judges said: "This biography opens up the previously hidden secrets of Stalin's youth. An amazing story, exceptionally well told.”

Based on massive research and astonishing evidence in archives from Moscow to Georgia, Young Stalin is a chronicle of the Revolution, a pre-history of the USSR and a fascinatingly intimate biography. Simon Sebag Motefiore is also the author of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar which is a companion book and prequel to Young Stalin.

Young Stalin received rave reviews on publication and was actually one of the most reviewed books of 2007. Robert Service of The Sunday Times said: “Montefiore qualifies for the veteran-of-labour medal with his new book. The opening scene is the armed robbery: this shows the author at his best. Montefiore gives us a richly and fluently documented study of the Chief Terrorist in the making."

Each of the category winners of the Costa Book Awards receives £5,000 and the overall winner, which will be announced on 22nd January, receives a further £25,000. The other category winners were:

  • First Novel: What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn
  • Novel: Day by A.L. Kennedy
  • Poetry Award: Tilt by Jean Sprackland
  • Children's: The Bower Bird by Ann Kelley
Last year’s overall winner was The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney. To see video interviews with all of last year’s category winners go here.

To listen to more books previously nominated for the Costa Book Awards go here.

9 January 2008

7th Heaven available exclusively as a download

Did you know that James Patterson has sold more books than John Grisham and Dan Brown combined? His work has been translated into 49 different languages and over 130 million copies of his books have been sold across the globe.

Patterson is well known as the creator of the Alex Cross series from which Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider were made into Hollywood film adaptations. The latest of Patterson’s work be adapted to the screen is the Women’s Murder Club series. A new one-hour drama serial is currently getting rave reviews in the States. The programmes feature four successful working women in San Francisco who use their expertise, their close friendship and their instincts to solve murder cases. Find out more about the TV series, due in the UK in 2008, here.

But if you can’t wait for that, why not listen to the audiobooks now. We are very excited here at Audible to have the latest Women’s Murder Club book, 7th Heaven, available to listen to before the hardback publication on 14th January. The book, which was recently featured as The Sunday Times Audiobook of the Week is available to listen to in both abridged and unabridged formats, but the unabridged audiobook is only available as a download. As we mentioned before in this blog, it can be very costly to produce lots of CDs for an unabridged audiobook, so many audio publishers are now using the favourable long tail economics of the web to publish lengthy titles only as downloads.

The Women’s Murder Club series features detective Lindsay Boxer and the latest instalment, read by Carolyn McCormick, is a great listen. Book 6 in the series The 6th Target is also available from Audible.

Julie Murphy, Online Editor

2 January 2008

Richard and Judy's Book Club

Richard & Judy have announced the ten books that will appear on this year’s book club. Publishers can now look forward to ‘the Richard and Judy effect’ as they know that those authors who are included in this list will go on to become overnight bestsellers. Novels that have benefited in previous years include Audrey Niffenegger's The Time-Traveler's Wife and Kate Mosse's Labyrinth.

The books on this year's list are:
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
  • Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
  • Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann
  • The Rose of Sebastopol by Katherine McMahon
  • A Quiet Belief in Angels by R J Ellroy
  • Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale
  • The Visible World by Mark Slouka
  • Blood River by Tim Butcher
  • The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

Two of the books on this year’s list are already available as audio downloads: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, also set in Afghanistan; and Lloyd Jones's Mister Pip, which was shortlisted for 2007's Man Booker prize, and won the Commonwealth Writers' book of the year award. We will be working hard over the next few weeks to bring the rest of this list to Audible.

The first episode of 2008's Book Club will be shown on 9th January. Viewers then vote for their favourite book and the winner earns the title of Richard and Judy's Best Read at the Galaxy British Book Awards in April.

To see a list of all the Richard & Judy books that are available to download from Audible go here.