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Transworld Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
by Elizabeth on Jun 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm




Then this challenge is for you…

All you have to do is pick four titles out of this amazing collection of hardbacks that you would like to read and contact me either via email or on twitter @EKSwain

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

When I have your four selections, I’ll send you the first of your choices and once a review has been posted, I’ll send you the second and so on.

So send over the following to me if you would like to participate:
• Your name
• Blog URL & details (if you have one)
• Twitter handle (if you have one)
• Top four books of choice (please note the publication dates of each title in brackets as there may be a little wait for your book to arrive)

Do let me know when your reviews are up so I can let the author’s know and if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch!



The What Shall I Read?
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The Long Earth Stepper Brought To Life!
by Lynsey on Jun 26, 2012 at 10:20 am

Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter’s The Long Earth was published last week and follows the journey of Joshua and Lobsang as they travel on the Mark Twain across parallel earths!

Ever wondered how you could cross between worlds? Willis Linsay’s original stepper diagram that was posted online in the book is now availableto peruse below! Don’t forget your potato!

The What Shall I Read?
Photograph of Elizabeth
Stop the Clock jacket image
by Elizabeth on Jun 22, 2012 at 10:07 am

In May, we shared pictures from a Stop the Clock photo shoot and now the finished jacket is ready!

Stop the Clock by Alison Mercer is published in paperback on 16th August 2012.

The What Shall I Read?
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Henry Venmore-Rowland on the House of Caesar
by Elizabeth on Jun 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm
Categories: Historical Fiction

To celebrate the hardback publication of The Last Caesar, author Henry Vemore-Rowland has written an exclusive for What Shall I Read?

For more information, click here to view Henry’s blog or follow Henry on twitter @henryvenmore.

For reader reviews click here.


Henry Venmore-Rowland on the House of Caesar

What happens when the House of Caesar comes to an abrupt end? Does Rome become a Republic once again, a golden Republic of laws, not of men? Or does it fall into the grotesque chaos of civil war? Almost 2000 years after the events of The Last Caesar , we know that the title Caesar long outlasted  the Julio-Claudian dynasty. But in AD 68 when the heirless Nero committed suicide, no-one could possibly have predicted what was to come.

AD 68 was a year of conspiracies, civil revolts and rebellious legions. While Nero toyed with Rome, in the relative safety of the western provinces a few ambitious men schemed their way to bringing Caesar’s dynasty crashing down, setting the dangerous precedent that plagued Rome until her fall that any popular general was a potential candidate for the purple. But the name Caesar would remain.

Strictly speaking, the Year of the Four Emperors is AD 69, but The Last Caesar covers the plots that led to Nero’s fall and finishes in the winter of 68, with the kingmaker Caecina Severus having reached a fork in the road, and the fate of Rome hangs in the balance.

I must admit that when settling down to write a novel set in Ancient Rome, the Year of the Four Emperors was nothing more than a phrase to me. Over the course of my degree I studied Roman History from the First Punic War to the Third, from Julius Caesar to Claudius and then a big jump to the beginning of the end for the Western Empire, fittingly when an Emperor named Valens lost the Battle of Adrianople against the Goths in AD 378.

But I was looking for a good story that hadn’t yet been done. The likes of Robert Harris, Ben Kane and Conn Iggulden had thoroughly covered the periods of Rome’s history that I knew well, and I am slightly ashamed to say it, but five minutes on Wikipedia gave me the starting point for my story. Without wishing to give too much away, Aulus Caecina Alienus (who for most of my two books is known to the reader as Caecina Severus) is at the epicentre of events from the first rumblings against Nero right until the triumphal arrival of the future Emperor Vespasian.

The historians such as Tacitus and Suetonius make Caecina out to be an opportunist, a man of boundless ambition, and most likely they were right. However, the Caecina of 68 could not have known the man he would become in 69. That is the journey that I wanted to explore: how a man could help in the downfall of the tyrant Nero, a noble cause indeed, only to be buffeted by the whims of Fate, and to watch how he justifies his actions as they appear more and more selfish.

My Caecina does not see himself as a hero. But nor is he a villain. He is a young Senator of Rome who wants to make his career, nothing more. Yet by finding himself in the right place and at the right time, he is given chance after chance to take his destiny into his own hands. And when the greater good of Rome goes hand in hand with the greater good of your own career, it would be a remarkably unambitious man who would have shunned the countless opportunities that Caecina is presented with for his own advancement. I did not set out to have a theme when starting this book, but I have found one, or rather it has found me. Ambition can be both a vice and a virtue. But when does one become the other? I don’t pretend to know the answer but if you follow Caecina’s story from beginning to end, you might reach your own conclusion.


Henry Venmore-Rowland

21st June 2012

The What Shall I Read?
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This summer up to 300,000 people will be living
off-grid in the UK – i.e without mains power or water.
They use solar energy, rainwater harvesting, composting loos, wind power, ground source heat pumps or just a wood fire. They live in houses, shacks, boats, caravans, camper vans, huts, tents and yurts.

Nick’s book How to Live Off-Grid was published in 2007, the idea was not on the cultural radar. These days use of the phrase “off-grid” is a fast-growing phenomenon, especially in America. So much so that Nick is currently running a campaign to change the rules on planning permission via his web site

Part travelogue, part manual, Nick Rosen’s book is a tour of the country’s off-grid population – why they do it, how to avoid the pitfalls and where to find the best solutions – including the latest gadgets. Nick’s own experiences revealed information you can use – how to get Ocado to deliver to your Yurt, running a wireless modem off the car cigarette lighter to be online off-grid – how to do your bit for the environment and still live luxuriously.

Maverick ecologist Nick Rosen is a documentary-maker, journalist and broadcaster. He devoted the early years of his career to a study of the power of global corporations. In 1995 he founded one of the UK’s first internet companies. After a decade of living in squats and unlicensed warehouses, these days he has a proper house. He and his family are still in London — for now.


On Sunday 22nd July at 5pm, Nick Rosen will be speaking at the Port Eliot Festival.

For more details visit the Port Eliot website

Nick is available for interview – for any press inquiries please contact:

The What Shall I Read?
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Beautiful Brutality by Adam Smith – OUT NOW!
by Jonny on Jun 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm

This week sees the release of Beautiful Brutality: The Family Ties at the Heart of Boxing by Adam Smith.

To celebrate this release following a fantastic launch event on the 13th June, where several World champion Boxers were in attendance, we have a limited amount of signed competition copies to send out to a few lucky readers.

To get your hands on a copy just let us know, in the comment space below, which creature did famous American boxer Muhammad Ali describe his fighting style as ‘float like a…’? .

The closing date for entries is 28th June 2012 and winners will be announced here and notified.


You can also watch the fantastic video iFilm London took of the launch party below.

The What Shall I Read?
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Beautiful Brutality: Official Book Launch
by Jonny on Jun 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Left to right: Barry McGuigan, Spencer Oliver, Darren Barker, Joe Calzaghe, Tony Bellew, Jamie Moore, Glenn McCrory, Adam Smith, David Price, Carl Froch, Johnny Nelson, Jim Watt

Family and Friends came together last night to celebrate the launch of Adam Smith’s Beautiful Brutality. Among those in attendance were six World champions and four British, European and Commonwealth champions at ten different weights.

iFilm London were also at the launch, and have produced a fantastic video to celebrate Adam’s launch.


The What Shall I Read?
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The Watchers by Jon Steele – OUT NOW!
by Kate on Jun 8, 2012 at 10:20 am

Congratulations to the following people on winning a copy of The Watchers by Jon Steele:

Sarah Punter
Mel S
Jane Beecham
Carole Lydall
Michael O’Sullivan

We will be contacting you by email.

This week sees the release of a magical debut novel by Jon Steele, The Watchers in paperback.

To celebrate this release we have a limited amount of competition copies to send out to a few lucky readers. To get your hands on a copy just let us know, in the comment space below, which country the setting for this book, Lausanne, is situated. The closing date for entries is 22nd June 2012 and winners will be announced here and notified.

To find out more about The Watchers, take a look at this video following  Jon around the different real-life locations that inspired his writing. VIDEO


Praise for The Watchers:

‘Pretty damn good… A great first novel’ – SFX
‘Powers along at an irresistible pace and is written with real panache and verve’ – Ed Stourton
‘A very fine, beautifully written, hypnotic tale… very special’ – The Bookseller
A commodious and seductive cosmic thriller … Steele’s lavishly atmospheric, witty, bloody, and swashbuckling tale of age-old struggles for dominion between angels and demons is the propitious first book in an ambitious new series. – Booklist
The What Shall I Read?
Photograph of Jonny
Shadow Dancer: Official UK Trailer!
by Jonny on Jun 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Here’s the trailer for the film adaptation of Tom Bradbury’s Shadow Dancer. Released on the 25th August 2012, the film will star Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough.

For more information about Tom Bradbury, you can visit The Random House Group website here.

The What Shall I Read?