Thursday, 12 September 2013

We have moved!

Hello, our Blog has moved to here:


Please come and see us at the new site for up to date news, reviews, competitions and more!

Thanks very much!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

We're Going On A Bear Hunt Competition!


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
LYRIC THEATRE, Shaftesbury Ave
Box Office 0844 412 4661

We're going to the WEST END
We're going to see a Bear Hunt
What a beautiful play!
We're not scared....

To Celebrate we’ve got Family One family ticket (admits 4)
 to give away.
Valid for any performance from September 1st to September 8th.

Michael Rosen’s award-winning book We’re Going On A Bear Hunt is brought vividly and noisily to the stage in director Sally Cookson’s fun-filled adaptation set to Benji Bower’s versatile lively score.

Join our intrepid family of adventurers on their quest to find a bear; as they wade through gigantic swishy swashy grass, the splishy splashy river and thick oozy, squelchy mud!  With catchy songs, interactive scenes and plenty of hands-on adventure – plus a few special surprises along the way! Adapted from the picture book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.

Watch the official trailer online at

For children aged 3 and above.  Running time: Approx. 55 minutes

“ingenious” DAILY MAIL
“A fun-filled frolic”  GUARDIAN
“Quite simply, the best family show I’ve seen”  SKY ARTS

Uh-Oh! For your chance to win email your answer to the following question to by 4pm on Friday 30th August 2013.


Who wrote the book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Good Luck!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

World of Stories Summer Reading Competition

Enter our Summer Holiday Reading Quiz for a chance to win a set of twelve Vintage Children’s Classics. Starting from now until the 9th September 2013, read as many books as you can from our list, and see if you can finish our quiz to win a book for every month of the year. Don’t worry if you get stuck, we’re happy to help in store!
For bonus prizes send us a review of your favourite books on the list and at the end of the summer holidays, we’ll post some of the best reviews on our website. Get writing, we’d love to hear what you think!
Hand in your quiz and any book reviews by the 9th of September 2013 at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road or email us at


  1. How does Huckleberry Finn escape from the cabin his father keeps him in?
  2. What is the name of Black Beauty's mother?
  3. What is the favourite phrase of the parrot in Treasure Island?
  4. Who found the treasure in Swallows and Amazons?
  5. How does Emil prove the stolen bank notes are his?
  6. Who shows Mary the door to the secret garden?
  7. What does Anne of Green Gables wish she was called?
  8. What is the name of the leader of the wolf pack in The Jungle Book?
  9. Why does Bruno have his head shaved in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas?
  10. At the beginning of The Wind in the Willows what is Mole doing before he leaves his house?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Sputnik Sweetheart

"Norwegian Wood" was my first Murakami novel and also the first book that I read written by a Japanese author.
Something in his style of writing grabbed me since the beginning so I decided to choose something else by him.
At first sight, Sputnik Sweetheart seems just another ordinary story about a love triangle but soon, you will discover the strong intensity of all its characters.
It is narrated in the first person by "K", whose name we never know. In spite of this, the main character is Sumire, a young Japanese girl who is a lover of classical music and dreams of becoming a great writer. Her entire life taken an unexpected turn when she meets Miu, a Korean pianist and a wine importer, and begins to work for her as a personal assistant.
Both start a journey around Europe and finally, they end up on a little Greek island where strange things happen.
The author uses this setting to introduce situations in connection with the Sci-Fi. This mix between the real and the surreal transports you to another world in a few parts of the book.
In this context Murakami talks about daily life in Tokyo, solitude, passionate behaviours and above all,unrequited love.
The thing I love most about him is his way of describing feelings, which makes you feel so identified with the characters that you are unable to stop reading!


Friday, 9 August 2013

Something for the Weekend - Shooting an Elephant - Orwell

                     Shooting an Elephant: And Other Essays – George Orwell

Another of those authors that sits on the “I really should read that some day” list for most, George Orwell's essays are often overlooked in favour of his fiction due to their resounding placements at the heart of a swathe of modern culture. Nineteen Eighty-Four can be referenced time and time again in the age of “Big Brother”, and it is the familiarity of both the content and Orwell's style that keeps the sales of his novels up today. But Orwell's style of a smooth but invigorating punch is best exemplified, for me, in his essays; and Shooting an Elephant is by far my favourite collection of them.

Born in India in 1903 as Eric Arthur Blair, Orwell's family settled in England a year later where,  from the age of 8, he attended St. Cyprian's boarding school. It was his experiences at this school that would later construct the essay Such, Such Were the Joys. Orwell headed back to India in 1922 to join the Imperial Police, his time here leading him to write both A Hanging as well as the headline piece of this collection. Shooting an Elephant presents Orwell's feelings towards Imperialism claiming that he is 'all for the Burmese and all against the British', going on to say that 'feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him off duty.' This essay is a great introduction to Orwell's constant battle between his awareness and curiosity towards internationalist progression and his great sense of patriotism, the latter which can be seen running high in essays such as Some Thoughts on the Common
Toad and In Defence of English Cooking.

For those that have already journeyed through some of Orwell's biographical pieces, this collection would be a perfect bridge in to his essays as there can be references found to these other works throughout. Looking back on the Spanish War is a clear nod to Homage to Catalonia, bringing a bitter and intense reflection of the bright hopes and cynical betrayals of that chaotic episode. As well as this, The Spike almost summarises certain chapters of Down and Out in Paris and London: Orwell's first published title that happened to originally be released as fiction, my favourite of his “non-essay” works, and another book that I would highly recommend to all.

My personal favourites within this collection however are as such because of the strong familiarity that I personally hold with all four of them, and if nothing else I recommend this book to all for these essays alone. Why I Write and particularly Confessions of a Book Reviewer give bravely honest accounts of Orwell's writing habits that would have required a brutal self-reflective jaunt through his own mind. The third of these four is Books vs. Cigarettes, a pocket version of which is always kept handy to lend out to the people around me that insist I should drop the addictive habit of reading and pick up a similarly addictive habit of smoking. One read of this essay and most give up their efforts and leave me in peace with my nose buried in the crease of another of Orwell's titles (that's what will happen when you come and buy this: you'll be returning for the rest of his back catalogue). My favourite of all though has to be Bookshop Memories, this essay repeatedly makes me giggle as it reads like a biographical account of my working days here at Blackwell's, pick it up and you'll soon see why.


Buy it here

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Stop Watching Star Wars! - A guest blog by Gavin Smith

Stop Watching Star Wars!*

(*In which a struggling science fiction author commits career suicide.)

I’m perfectly serious. Yes that means you at the back.  And Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica, and Firefly (“Not Firefly!” I hear you cry.  “But poor Firefly, murdered before its time, like a baby Bambi kicked to death by a cruel studio exec.  How could they do that to poor, multi-millionaire Joss Whedon, forcing him to go onto other more successful projects like that!”  I know, I’m a monster, right?). I want none of your Blake’s 7 nonsense either.  You need to stop watching them, stop buying their boxed sets, stop showing the slightest bit of interest in any of them.  (For the purpose of this blog I will not be talking about Doctor Who, largely because I don’t want to be burnt in effigy, or indeed person, in the Charing Cross Road.)

One of the best ways to get booed at a Science Fiction convention is to publicly state that you don’t like Star Wars.  Well, I don’t like Star Wars.  I have numerous excellent reasons why I don’t like Star Wars, and most of these are designed to upset my fellow geeks late at night at conventions. (This can result in urban fantasy books being flung at my head.  Those books that you get given at conventions, apparently they’re not actually books, they’re ammunition.  Incidentally if you do throw a book at someone at a convention and get into trouble, the best way to get out of trouble is to repeat the following: “Stephen Deas made me do it!”)

    Anyway what was I talking about?  (I am not a natural blogger.)  Oh yes, Star Wars.  I liked it as a child but as I grew up the flaws in the films became more apparent to me and I lost interest. 
Star Trek, on the other hand, I’m quite fond of.  (I would just like to point out that this isn’t an excuse to involve me in the fan-based football hooligan style violence that is sweeping conventions at the moment.  I don’t like any media enough to shiv someone.)  I have no strong opinion about BSG, but I’m very fond of Firefly.

We still all need to stop watching them and here’s why:  the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises dominate the sub-genre of space opera on television and in the cinema.  This is in part because movies and television series cost a lot of money to make and the companies that produce them like to know that when they make something that there is already an audience waiting to watch it, and by watch I mean pay for.

“So?”  I hear you cry.  “They are good, we like them.”  Well fine, so do I largely (except Star Wars, did I mention that Star Wars is rubbish?).  Here’s the problem.  Star Wars is 36 years old (and arguably took its direction from science fantasy much older than that). The first episode of Star Trek aired in 1966. Space opera has moved on significantly in the last three-to-four decades.
    “So?” I hear you cry again.  “They may be old but we still like them.  Old does not mean bad, and new does not mean good.”  And you would be right, but I have a dream!
I dream of a parallel world where HBO has lavished as much time and love on an adaption of Peter Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy as they did on Game of Thrones.  (This is the reason I can sometimes be seen outside HBO headquarters waving a placard with the words: “Living ships are at least as cool as incest!” on it.)

    A world where Iain M. Banks’s Consider Phlebas, which is many things as a book but one of them is certainly a rip-roaring space pirate adventure, has just kicked off the beginning of the Culture franchise (I have come to despise the word franchise, and the word build - but that’s another story.  On a positive note I love the word Domino) and where Al Reynold’s Revelation Space has done similar for that author’s work.  
I become positively erect when I think about David Fincher making an adaption of M. John Harrison’s Light (Not read Light?  Get thee to a bookshop!), or Ridley Scott, despite his more recent disappointing works, spending as much time and attention on an adaption of Hannu Rajaniemi’s the Quantum Thief as he did with Blade Runner.  That film which would blow your mind, though perhaps Jodorowsky would be a better director for such a project (I would slightly fear such a film).

    “Well yes,” I hear you say, those of you who are still here reading this, as I suspect that most of you stopped when I committed the cardinal SFF sin and said I didn’t like Star Wars (How does the emperor look in his new clothes?)  (I’m such a dangerous iconoclast, and so clever.)  “But why can’t we have both!” you scream with the true exuberance of a fan that makes me love you all.  Because if you have a lot of money to invest in a film or TV series, why would you risk it on trying something new when you have a guaranteed return on trotting out the same old thing?

See, literary science fiction/space opera have moved on a great deal since Star Trek and Star Wars were envisioned.  Glancing at the summer blockbusters this year it would be easy to believe that science fiction is the dominant form of media on the planet (something sadly not reflected in book sales), but room needs to be made for some of the new ideas that have appeared in the last thirty or so years in books, to appear on
our screens.  This will not happen unless people stop paying money to watch rehashes and remakes of ideas that, if we’re honest, have seen better days.  This will not happen unless we vote with our wallets.

    There is hope.  There are non-franchise, big budget films on the horizon like Nolan’s Interstellar. I have high hopes for Elysium (and indeed Neill Blomkamp in general), and from the world of literary science fiction there’s All You Need is Kill, and Ender’s Game (Oh yes I did!).

But if I’m being honest I rather enjoyed Star Trek: Into Darkness. Like the rest of you I pine for Firefly, and look forward to a remake of Blake’s 7 (Incidentally, if whomever is making that is looking for a script writer I am available.  What!?  I’m just saying.) With a sense of self loathing and the unpleasant taste of mouse semen in my mouth I’ll probably go and see the next satanic Star Wars film (Star Wars is still shit though, have I mentioned that?) and thus I destroy my own dream in a flurry of bad prose.

(Gavin Smith is the angry and bitter writer of the science fiction novels Veteran, War in Heaven and Age of Scorpio, and the short story collection Crysis: Escalation.  He has been banned from Eurodisney for attacking the cartoon characters and has no idea why he appeared to be channelling Stephen Fry during parts of the above blog as he’s much more a Snake Plissken kind of guy.)

Follow him on twitter here

Friday, 2 August 2013

Something for the Weekend - The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

This weeks 'Something for the Weekend' is,

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe.

I'm a bit annoyed that I only just read this (I literally finished it on the bus yesterday). I saw the film, I enjoyed the film, I knew it was based on a book, I work in a bookshop. But as you know the 'to read' list is long & plentiful. Well, it was worth the wait.

This is a silly book. If you do not have a childish sense of humour then stop reading. It's a shade darker than the film (more death) but kids would still absolutely love it. Indeed I wish I could have read this when I was at school.

Plot? Oh, the Pirates run into Darwin & agree to help him free his brother who is being held hostage. No spoilers here as to why; it's part of the fun. Fun being the operative word here, the whole thing is HUGE fun from start to finish. My only complaint is that it's too short, luckily there are another four adventures for me to enjoy.

It reminded me of Python, Milligan even a touch of Douglas Adams, all good! But more than those eminent humorist's it I found it very reminiscent of John Antrobus, sadly that may not mean much to you. Antrobus (a contemporary of Milliagan) wrote the brilliant 'Boy with illuminated measles' & 'Help I'm a prisoner in a toothbrush factory'. Both hilarious & both sadly out of print - seek them out!

So Gideon Defoe 'as good as John Antrobus' - you can put that on the next one Mr Defoe.


Buy it here