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crime

General Chatter

Books to Look out for in 2019

Books we are looking forward to in 2019

By Admin

We are avid bookworms here at World of Books, and many of us are setting our reading goals quite high this year. Many fantastic books hit our shelves last year, discovering new authors, up and coming authors or even the next in a series got us rather excited here at World of Books. We have compiled a list of some cracking books that will be hitting our shelves and TBR piles in 2019.

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General Chatter

Are you in a Reading Slump?

Reading Slump

By Rebecca Reed

It’s something that happens to many bookworms, you have so much to read but not enough focus. You really want to sit and curl up with your book but you end up reading the same sentence over and over again. It’s just frustrating, well not to worry we have a few tips to help you get out of that reading slump.

1. No time limits

Read at your own pace, and don’t rush yourself. It is so easy to get thinking about the next book you want to read whilst reading your current novel, but chill. You have all the time in the world and it’s not a race.

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2. Don’t feel guilty

Don’t stare at your bookshelf and feel guilty that you are not currently reading, mix it up a bit and do something different. Bake a cake, take a nap or just binge watch the next season of American Horror Story on Netflix. Maybe your brain just wants to relax for a day or two. If you’re reading a thriller, for example, there are only so many twists your brain can take.

3. Go book shopping

Our favourite kind of shopping! Have a look at our store here for our recommended reads or go back to your list of books that you need to buy and treat yourself. It’s exciting to wait for your happy book mail. It might also be the boost you needed to get you back into your book for an hour or so.

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4. Put the heavy stuff down.

It’s easy to get caught up in the same heavy genre, crime fiction, thriller fiction and even science fiction can get a bit too heavy for your brain to process. It is okay to pick up a nice easy book that just reads itself. A feel-good read, a lovely little romance. Allow yourself to relax. A good author to always fall back on is Jacqueline Wilson. A favourite for many children around the world, but adults can enjoy them too.

5. Re-organise your bookshelf.

A guaranteed way to get you excited about your books again, whilst re-organising your bookshelf, you may find a book you bought months ago and the excitement will come flooding back. Also, you may find your long-lost favourites and you might want to revisit your favourite characters again.

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Reading slumps do get us bookworms down, but we hope these tips manage to get you reading again. Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments below.

General Chatter, Reviews

Murder on the Orient Express | A Review

Murder on the Orient Express

By Rebecca Reed

My first Poirot experience. I went into this movie with fresh eyes, I have not seen any other adaptations of this story, nor have I read the book. I personally love Murder Mystery novels, I just simply have never gotten around to the Agatha Christie classics.

When this was first announced, I was rather excited. The cast alone is enough to really take you to the cinema, with the big names featuring Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Kenneth Branagh and let’s not forget Dame Judi Dench. Even the smaller names such as Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad and Olivia Coleman stole some of the show, each actor was as fabulous as the next.

After hearing some initial mixed reviews, I decided to go see the film anyway, you can’t really judge anything by what other people say, you really have to experience it yourself. As I was not familiar with the story line, I had absolutely no idea who the suspect was. I was convinced it was Bouc, the suspicious member of the Orient Express team. I was wrong, but I still find him suspicious, I can’t even tell you why I thought it was him. But I liked being wrong. The story made sense and all in all it was a great film to watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

As it is my first step into Hercule Poirot’s world, I am sure if I read the novels, and possibly watched the TV adaptations I would have understood the subtle nuances Poirot has, but it was pleasant watching a film that didn’t contain action from start to finish. It was calculating and took its time, and really launched curve balls at you, to make you suspect the passengers. I am pleased to say that the ending did leave it open for a second installment for a potential Murder on the Nile. We will have to wait and see if that one comes along.

I absolutely loved this movie, and I can’t actually wait to see it again, did you enjoy the adaptation? Let us know in the comments below.

Author of the Week

Everyone loves a whodunit | Agatha Christie.

By Rebecca Reed

Here at World of Books, we love all the authors that bring such wonderful tales to us. None more so, than the brilliant crime works of Agatha Christie.

She was born on the 15th September 1890 and died on the 12th January 1976.

With 80 crime novels and story collections, 14 plays and several other books which have sold roughly 4 billion copies, Agatha Christie has earned the title of the ‘Queen of Crime’. She has created two of the most enduring figures in crime fiction in her novels, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

During the first world war, Agatha Christie worked as a nurse, and later worked in a hospital pharmacy. This was believed to be her inspiration of her writing as many murders in her novels are carried out with poison.

In 1914 on Christmas Eve she married her first husband Archibald Christie. Together they had one daughter Rosalind Hicks. Their marriage did not last, and in 1928 they were divorced, 2 years after Agatha discovered his affair.

Everything was not lost, Agatha did remarry, in 1930 to her new husband Max Mallowan, after she joined him on an archaeological dig, however she kept her Christie name as that was recognised in her writing. They remained happily married, up until her death in 1976.

Over her career, she was given many honours. In 1956 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire, in 1957 she was named President of the Detection Club and finally in 1971 appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Her works of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple have spanned television series’ that have captured the hearts and imaginations of many viewers, and with the upcoming cinematic adaptation of The Murder on the Orient Express we are sure it will bring a new audience to the Crime Fiction genre.

Agatha Christie will always be remembered here as one of the greatest Crime Fiction writers of all time.

Did you know?

  • Agatha wrote romance novels under the name Mary Westmacott.
  • She spent 10 months traveling the world with her first husband Archibald Christie in 1922
  • She was one of the first recorded British women to surf.
  • Her writing career actually started as a bet with her sister. Her sister bet that she would be unable to write a detective novel, in which the reader would be able to correctly guess the murder. So, at the age of 26 she began work on what would be her first published novel.
  • Agatha has written the longest running play in the world. The Mousetrap began running in 1952 and is still going strong to this very day. It is celebrating its 65th year this year!

You can browse all of Agatha Christie’s work here at World of Books.

Author Interviews

“My characters only work when they become real to me, and then they let me tell their stories” – Elizabeth Haynes talks to World of Books about her writing, her work, and The Wurzels

Author Elizabeth Haynes

Author Elizabeth Haynes

By Admin

Elizabeth Haynes grew up in Sussex and began to write from an early age, even buying herself a typewriter at the age of thirteen. She studied English, German and Art History at Leicester University, and moved on to become a Police Intelligence Analyst. It wasn’t until 2005 when a friend introduced her to National Novel Writing Month (http://www.nanowrimo.org/), that she began to work on her writing with a greater sense of purpose. National Novel Writing month is an annual challenge to write 50,000 words of a story throughout the month of November. Over the next few years (particularly each November) the first draft of Elizabeth’s debut novel, ‘Into the Darkest Corner’ came into fruition. That was in 2008. By February 2011, the book was published by Myriad Editions and featured on Channel 4’s TV Book Club. It was also voted as one of Amazon UK’s Rising Stars and won the Amazon UK Best Book of 2011. Since then Elizabeth has released ‘Revenge of the Tide’ in March 2012, and last month her newest book, ‘Human Remains’ was published. Her books have been released in 30+ countries globally and in over 20 languages. Elizabeth now lives in the South East of England with her husband and son.

Q) You’ve given up working as a Police Intelligence Analyst in order to concentrate on being a writer full-time. Are there elements of the work that you miss?

Definitely! I miss it every day. I worked with a fantastic bunch of people and I loved being part of a team, especially one that had an impact on serious and organised crime. It’s hard to beat the buzz of being involved in something that has such an effect on the people’s lives, and on the area where you live. I also find it quite difficult to work on my own, in a quiet environment having previously worked in a busy office – I have to have my radio tuned to Talk Sport because that was what the guys in the office would listen to.

Q) Obviously your books have stemmed somewhat from your experience in this job. How closely did you draw from it?

With each book, I’m using my experience more and more. I think at first I was nervous about accidentally giving away some crucial aspect of police procedure, or, worse, getting something badly wrong and losing credibility. Luckily I’ve managed to get some senior officers to check each one. I’ve always been a bit disappointed that intelligence analysts don’t feature in crime fiction very often, and I wanted to address this oversight which is why my main character in ‘Human Remains’ is an analyst. I’ve also managed to get an analyst into a prime spot in my fourth and fifth books, too. Unfortunately a lot of crime fiction is quite unrealistic and I know many police officers and staff find it difficult to read because of this. It was very important for me to get the details right, whilst still writing fiction that was engaging – quite a difficult balancing act. Real life crime is often visceral, grubby, painful; and also, sometimes, pointless and mind-numbingly dull. When it comes to violent crime, the motive is often something as ridiculous as one party getting drunk and being annoyed at the other party – or there might be no motive at all. It’s much harder than I thought it would be to get the balance right between realism and entertainment, and I’m still not sure I’ve done it. I need more practice.

Q) You’re obviously a great advocate of National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) – why do you think this worked for you so well?

If it hadn’t been for NaNoWriMo, I would never have finished a novel. I had written short stories, extracts of things, ideas, for many years but always got to the ‘this is silly’ stage and put it to one side. If I got stuck, I would give up. NaNoWriMo forces you to get over those stumbling blocks and just carry on writing. I managed to write 50,000 each November but it was only on my fourth attempt that I managed to write a complete manuscript with a beginning, middle and ending. That was the novel that eventually became ‘Into the Darkest Corner’.

Q) How much research did you do for each book?

I still do all my first drafts during November for NaNoWriMo and because of that I don’t do extensive research before I write. I usually know roughly what I’m going to write about (for example, boat renovation and pole dancing for ‘Revenge of the Tide’; decomposition and mind control for ‘Human Remains’) and I research just enough around those topics so that I can write without becoming completely unstuck. Once the story is written, I have a much clearer idea of the gaps in my knowledge and then I can research more into those particular areas before I crack on with the editing process.

Q) You mention on your site that you actually lost the last 5,000 words of your first Nanowrimo story because of a hard disk failure, and so you stress always backing up your work. What other crucial lessons/words of advice would you give to aspiring writers out there?

I’m very good at stating what I think is the bleeding obvious, so forgive me if these tips sound a little basic: firstly, you need to finish something. If all you have is half-finished manuscripts, it’s hard to get anyone to take you seriously as a writer. I think it’s better to have a completed story that needs editing and has flaws, than to have a perfect fragment of genius. Secondly, get used to sharing your work. Let everyone read it, and listen to feedback. That one is particularly difficult when you first start, but it’s a stage you have to go through! Thirdly, and more specifically, I’ve just started using Scrivener to organise my writing and I wish I’d discovered it years ago – I can highly recommend it, especially if you have a complicated story and/or multiple narratives.

Q) Oftentimes authors say that their characters stay with them even when they’re not writing their story. Kathy in ‘Into the Darkest Corner’ has a particularly harrowing back-story – did she, for example, take a long time to let go of after the book was published?

'Into the Darkest Corner' book jacket

‘Into the Darkest Corner’ Hayne’s debut novel

I don’t think I will ever let go of her. I know she is really a figment of my imagination but she did become very real to me and I felt it was important to tell her story and get her out there. In another sense, she will never leave me because I get emails and messages from women around the world who feel like she is real, too. Cathy represents a lot of people for whom violence in the home is a daily reality and not a story. I also get emails from people who want a sequel to the book so that they can be reassured that Cathy and Stuart are safe and happy. I like to think they are, and that Mrs Mackenzie is living comfortably in a retirement home in Suffolk. Unfortunately, in the interests of keeping it realistic, it’s likely that Cathy is going to be looking over her shoulder for the rest of her life, isn’t she?

Q) If you had to lose one of the five senses (touch, sound, sight, smell or taste), which one would it be?

That would be so difficult. I think the one I would miss the least would be my sense of smell as at least I’ve experienced that a bit when I’ve had a cold!

Q) What is the oddest bit of feedback you’ve received from a fan?

Quite recently I had an Amazon review for the US edition of ‘Into the Darkest Corner’ which said “I found myself asking ‘why don’t you shoot him when he breaks in’ a lot.” Taking aside the issue of guns not being as easy to come by here in the UK, I thought that if Catherine had shot Lee it would have made for a very short book, wouldn’t it?

Q) Your newest novel ‘Human Remains’ was published 14th February this year. It tells the story of Colin who is very intelligent but socially awkward, and spends his time collecting academic qualifications and attempting to meet a woman. When a decomposing body is found by a female Police analyst called Annabel in the house next door to where she lives, it doesn’t seem like anybody had noticed the woman was missing in the first place. Understandably appalled by this, Annabel then finds evidence that women are going missing all over her home town with no-one raising the alarm, and sets out to investigate. You’ve mentioned that the difference in this book to your two previous releases is the exploration of the absence of relationships and how the loneliness surrounding this can affect people differently – sometimes dangerously. Did you approach writing this book differently because of this? And what sort of reaction are you expecting from your fans?

'Human Remains' came out Feb 14th

‘Human Remains’ came out Feb 14th

It’s important to me to make each book different, so initially I did want to explore the absence of relationships and what social isolation does to us. The other main difference with this book is that I’m not writing a past/present narrative but using two main narrative voices: Colin’s, and Annabel’s. It’s the first time I’ve written a male first person narrative and it was hard to do. It was particularly difficult because Colin is much more intelligent than I am and it took a long time for him to start to ‘talk’ to me – it only happened when he realised I wasn’t going to make him a figure of fun, or a caricature of evil. I know that sounds pretty wacky but my characters only work when they become real to me, and then they let me tell their stories. I never have any idea of what reaction I’m going to get! I think this one is particularly dark and grim in tone, but people seem to like that, so who knows? My best critic is my husband, who is unswervingly honest, and he says it’s his favourite of the three.

Q) What two things do most people not know about you?

Most people who meet me seem quite surprised that I’m quite a happy soul and despite how gruesome ‘Human Remains’ is, I’m actually really squeamish. The other thing not many people know is that I’m a massive fan of The Wurzels.

Q) Would you ever try writing for another genre?

Definitely. Before I tried my hand at writing crime I wrote romance/erotic fiction. Not that it was any good, mind you, but I quite liked it. One of these days I’d like to write a ghost story, too.

Q) And finally, World of Books is dedicated to providing good-quality second-hand books to the public. In a world with an ever-growing digital media base, and increasing environmental concerns, do you believe in the importance of giving each physical book the chance of a new home?

The idea of a book being destroyed, unwanted or unloved is abhorrent to me. I believe in passing on books, either because you love them and want to share them, or because you don’t love them and think someone else might. Lovely as it is for me to be able to make a living from writing, the real joy is that there are people I’ve never met, who are reading things I’ve written – that gives me a massive buzz.

Elizabeth Haynes

Elizabeth Haynes

Thank you for a fantastic interview Elizabeth!

Don’t miss ‘Human Remains’ out in stores now. And if you fancy reading ‘Into the Darkest Corner’ visit the World of Books store and grab a copy today. For more information on Elizabeth Haynes and her work, visit her site at http://www.elizabeth-haynes.com/

Author Interviews

Mark Billingham: “I don’t really attempt to convey any message…The story has to come first”

Born and raised in Birmingham, Mark Billingham did not choose just one career path, he’s currently on several! Originally working for some years as an actor, Mark then became known as a TV writer and stand-up comedian in 1987. Since then he has been a guest on over 30 TV and radio shows, and played at every comedy club in the UK, still often performing at the Comedy Store in London. So, what happened in the summer of 2001 when Mark’s name appeared on the front cover of Sleepyhead, a “sensational” crime fiction debut and instant bestseller in the UK? “What is surprising is that writing a dark and disturbing crime novel and performing stand-up comedy are not as different as one might suppose…I was basically trying to keep it simple, and write the book I would like to read”. Thus began Mark’s award-winning series featuring the Met Detective Inspector Tom Thorne. The series has rapidly grown in popularity, with a television adaptation taking off on Sky1 last October. Mark has also written one stand-alone novel, In the Dark, as well as a series of children’s thrillers, Triskellion under the pseudonym of Will Peterson. Supported by his wife and two children, the next installment of the Tom Thorne thrillers, Good as Dead was released back in August this year.

Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham

Hi Mark,

Well, we’re not really sure what to ask you about first! You must be incredibly busy, it’s no wonder you take time-out with your family in Hertfordshire occasionally. Thank you for agreeing to an interview. Now where to begin….

Q: You once told Writing Magazine, “the most wonderful thing about being a published writer is that you get to hang out with other writers who are your heroes” – *cough* jealous *cough*. What other perks are there to the job?

Well I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of being able to get free books. It was the reason I first began reviewing crime fiction and writing articles about it – my first connection with the crime-writing community. Now I get sent books to blurb and to this day I open each parcel with excitement. I STILL get a thrill from meeting writing heroes. Getting a chance to hang out with Elmore Leonard  and to meet the great James Crumley before he died was about as great as it gets. I think the day you become blasé about this kind of thing is the day you should stop writing.

Q: Speaking of your frustration when writing a script for a TV series, you say “…when it’s done, it’s jumped upon by a dozen people and torn to pieces and rewritten and messed about”. This alarms us! How drastically have some of your ideas been changed? What have we missed out on?!

At its best, writing for television is “collaborative” but at its worst it is no more than writing by committee. I got tired of taking my name off projects that had ceased to so much as resemble the idea that I had started out with. I once wrote what I thought was a sophisticated piece of comedy-drama for older children and had to fight the urge to punch the producer when he insisted that I put a rubber chicken in it, because rubber chickens were “funny”. God, I’m SO glad I now write books for a living…

Q: For all crime-novel wannabes out there, how extensively do you research for your novels? Where does your research come from?

I do a lot less research now than I did when I first started. Back then I believed that you had to get EVERYTHING right; that you had to drive to a set of traffic lights to be sure the car your character was driving could turn left. I have learned what you need to get right and what doesn’t matter. There’s always something that needs to be researched but you need to be careful not to crowbar in the stuff you find out at the expense of the story. All that said, I STILL get irate letters from readers complaining if I have put a coffee shop where there isn’t one or taken some limits with geography. You know what, though? These are novels. I make stuff up.

Q: In your 2009 stand-alone novel, In the Dark, Tom Thorne makes a cameo appearance. You admit that the “…day a character becomes predictable is the day a writer should think about moving on”. Considering his cameo appearance, how difficult do you find it to ‘let-go’ of Thorne? How often does he crop up in your mind?

In the Dark

In the Dark

– He’s there a lot, of course. But I stick by what I said and if he starts to become predictable I will say goodbye to him. I’m writing a standalone now and guess what? Yes, he will pop up again, but I like this device, as it gives readers a clue about where Thorne will be in the next Thorne novel.

Q: Your newest book, Good as Dead, came out in August. For those that haven’t read it yet, what can your die-hard fans and new readers alike, expect this time from their hero? 

– I hope readers enjoy the change of pace in this book. I wanted to write a much faster and more immediate thriller this time around. And I enjoyed putting Thorne together with Helen Weeks who was the main character in my standalone novel, “In The Dark”.

Good As Dead

Good As Dead

Q: “Tom is a character I am immensely fond of and, as you’d probably expect, there is plenty of myself in him. He is probably more honourable than I am, and certainly braver”. What would you say are your top three attributes?

Not sure I even have three. OK…I’m extremely punctual. I HATE lateness, in myself and others. Life is short enough as it is. I’m polite. And I think I’m very loyal, to people as well as to failing football teams.

Q:  In a world where the news is unpredictable and often full of human atrocities, do you feel that TV has presented the danger of us becoming too familiar with violence and corruption? In your novels, what are the final messages you attempt to convey?

I don’t really attempt to convey any message…well it’s certainly not a primary intention. The story has to come first. If during the course of an entertaining story you can shed light on one issue or another, then so be it.

Q: On a brighter note – A day in the life of Mark Billingham?

I’d love to tell you that I spend all day shackled to my desk, but there’s actually a lot of staring out of the window and playing Scrabble online. Most of a book comes together when you’re not physically writing – when you’re out and about, walking the dog or pushing a trolley around the supermarket. My writing is structured around family life, so the best work tends to happen late at night or into the early hours when the kids are asleep and it’s dark outside. It’s tough to delve into the murky depths of people’s dark desires when you’re looking out at squirrels in the garden.

Q: Here at World of Books we think your trilogy of thrillers for older children, Triskellion, is great! Did you find these harder to write than your adult novels? Would you consider other genres one day?

– The writing process was exactly the same. The books were every bit as dark as the Tom Thorne novels, in fact there was probably a higher body count! I’m not sure about any other genre. I find it hard to write so much as a shopping lost without a murder or two…

Thanks for the interview Mark! Why not check out his books (and get up-to-date on Tom Thorne’s adventures) by visiting our site.