5 Rainy Day Reads

It might be the start of the summer holidays, but the weatherman certainly doesn’t think so. *Glances out window, sighs*

So, instead of wading through all the crowds trying to fill their day rain-proof attractions, why not pick up a great book? Here’s five of our favourite rainy day reads…

The Neruda Case by Roberto Ampuero

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Find yourself dreaming of exotic shores or sunnier climes? Head abroad (via your imagination) with Roberto Ampuero’s thrilling The Neruda CaseIn 1970s Chile Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize-winning poet, is close to death and senses the end of an era in Chilean politics. But there is one final secret he must resolve…you never know, perhaps thinking about all that sunshine will bring the sun out?

Want to know more about Roberto Ampuero? Check out one of our latest blog posts detailing Roberto’s speech at the Cervantes Institute in London.

Warning: When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple by Jenny Joseph

Warning coverWho doesn’t enjoy a few laughs on a rainy Sunday? Voted Britain’s favourite humour poem, this declaration of defiance, so vividly and cleverly expressed , appeals to the rebel in all of us.

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me”

Simply Gluten Free by Rita Greer

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So it might not exactly be a novel, but a little rain is perfect for some experimental time in the kitchen. Ever thought of trying gluten free food? Well now’s your chance! Rita Greer’s Simply Gluten Free contains recipes for every occasion, whether you’re planning an enormous family dinner or simply spending an afternoon baking with the kids (the gingersnaps are divine).

The Practice by Barb Schmidt

The Practice cover

Weekends are for lie ins, catching up on life and doing the washing, right? Well, why not try something different this weekend…..like mindfulness? The rain might even come in handy – lovely, relaxing background noise. Specifically designed for those who live and lead busy lives, The Practice guides you through a set of practical tools that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine, and there’s no time like the present to get started! The three-steps are:

1. Waking Up: Meditation – to set a peaceful tone for the day
2. Living Present: Sacred Mantra, Focussed Attention, Reading for Inspiration – designed to focus your mind on the moment and provide comfort and support
3. Letting Go: Reflection – a wind-down period to put the events of the day to rest

And, last but not least, one for the kids…

Puppy Dogs’ Tales by Cecil Aldin

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Few people can fail to be charmed and cheered by Cecil Aldin’s mischievous puppies which first came to life on the walls of his children’s nursery, no matter how miserable the weather is outside your window.

Scamp, the mongrel; Poppy, so-called because of her red colouring and Snowball, the white terrier, were lovable rascals always looking for adventure and a stolen snack. Then there was Bill, the bob-tailed pup, who tugged at the heartstrings as he sought friendship but was scorned because of his truncated rear end.

Happy reading all!

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Author Corner: Roberto Ampuero at the Cervantes Institute

We were delighted to welcome Roberto Ampuero, author of bestselling The Neruda Case, to London, where, on Tuesday 26th May, he delivered an insightful, inspiring speech to a sell-out audience at the Cervantes Institute.

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Available now in paperback, The Neruda Case spans lies and truth, travelling between uneasy peace and political coup, from life to death. Cateyano Brulé, a daydreamer and reluctant detective, is lost among Latin America’s uncertainties, venality and corruption, desperately trying to fulfil Neruda’s final request amid the brutal beginning of Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Among the pleasures of The Neruda Case is its provocative fictional portrait of Pablo Neruda, as the poet re-evaluates his life and begins to question abandoning those he loved for his poetry.

You can read the author’s Afterword on the Foyles Book Blog here.

Figuring that you’ll all be needing something to help pass the time on your extra long commute this Thursday evening, (thank you #TubeStrikes) we’re very pleased to re-produce the first of three parts of Roberto’s speech for you on the Souvenir Press blog, entitled “Why Do I Write Fiction?”

We’ll be publishing the next two parts in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, we’d love to hear what you think about Roberto’s speech in the comments section below.

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Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Need some inspiration for Father’s Day this week? Fear not! SP are here to help with some of our favourite titles, so no matter what he’s into, we’ve got it covered.

For sports-mad dads…

The Golf Swing of the Future by Mindy Blake

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Does your dad still dream of being the next Rory McIlroy? Help him to perfect his swing with Mindy Blake’s Golf Swing of the Future. A bestseller all over the world on its first publication, Mindy Blake’s love of the game shines through as he offers a deeper understanding of what golf is about and how that can be used to improve any golfer’s game.

*we can’t guarantee that your dad will be a professional golfer.

“A revolutionary but completely convincing method… I highly recommend it to all serious students of the game.”
‘Financial Times’

Muhammad Ali: The Birth of a Legend by Flip Schulke and Matt Schudel

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A collector’s piece for all sporting dads, the photographs in Flip Schulke’s Muhammad Ali: The Birth of a Legend show Ali at the start of his journey. Flip Schulke was more than a silent observer, he was a witness to the transformation of Cassius Clay into Muhammad Ali, and Schulke’s commentary on his photographs provide a penetrating insight into, arguably, the greatest athlete of the century.

“One of those great iconic photos, regardless of whether you’re interested in boxing or Muhammad Ali… One of the top three sporting photographs ever taken.
‘ShortList’

For music fans…

Bowie on Bowie by Sean Egan

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In the closest thing to an autobiography that Bowie has come, Sean Egan has compiled Bowie’s most revealing interviews into a riveting commentary on 50 years of personas and styles, tracing each step from Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane to The Thin White Duke and into the elder statesman that Bowie has become.

“Here is the ultimate introduction to Rock’s most distinctive voice.”
Bowie Wonderworld

Meet The Beatles by Tony Barrow

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The first book to be published with the Beatles own involvement, Meet The Beatles introduced the Beatles, in their own words, to the world. This special collector’s edition features rare photographs of the Beatles, many of which have not been reproduced elsewhere and was compiled by Tony Barrow, the man who coined the phrase ‘the Fab Four’. Guaranteed to make your dad think of ‘Yesterday’…

“A uniquely first-hand introduction to the Beatles as they were in 1963…A terrific book, crammed with facts and figures and brilliant photographs – nostalgia at its very finest.”
‘Books Monthly’

For Fiction lovers…

Bhowani Junction by John Masters

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Set in the wake of the partition of India, as the British prepare to withdraw from the newly independent country, Bhowani Junction captures the tensions and conflicts that accompanied the birth of modern India. In the last hectic days of the British Raj, Victoria has to choose between marrying a British Army officer or a Sikh, Ranjit, as she struggles to find her place in the new, independent India.

“One of the most unjustly neglected writers… a remarkable and accurate picture of the Empire and its aftermath, as well as magnificent storytelling.”
‘Evening Gazette’

The Neruda Case by Roberto Ampuero

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In 1970’s Chile, Pablo Neruda, the Nobel-prize winning poet, is close to death and he senses the end of an era in Chilean politics. But there is one final secret he must resolve. He recruits Cayetano Brulé, a young Cuban rogue, as his “own private Maigret” and lends Brulé the novels of Simenon as a crash course in the role of private detective. Brulé must travel across the world, through Neruda’s past and the political faiths he has espoused, retracing the poet’s life from Fidel Castro’s Cuba to Berlin, Mexico City to Bolivia….

A must have for any crime fiction fan.

 “Forget Poirot, Holmes or Marlowe…Ampuero gives his readers some fascinating glimpses of both Neruda and the world he lived in.”
‘The Spectator’

The Warriors by Sol Yurick

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We can pretty much guarantee that your dad will have heard of the cult movie ‘The Warriors’, directed by Walter Hill and released in 1979 (go on, we dare you to ask!). Published in our Independent Voices collection, Sol Yurick’s The Warriors follows the Family, a New York gang who have to fight their way home after being accused of killing Cyrus, the leader of the city’s most powerful gang.

“The best novel of its kind I’ve read. An altogether perfect achievement. I’m sure that to many it will sound like sacrilege but I have to say that I think it a better novel than Lord of the Flies.”
Warren Miller

And finally, something to make him laugh…

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

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For anyone brought up on sexist, racist, sizeist and ethnocentrist reading matter, James Finn Garner’s stories have been purged of the influence of an insensitive cultural past to become fables for our times. From Snow White’s relationship with seven vertically challenged men, Little Red Riding Hood, her grandma and the cross-dressing wolf who set up an alternative household based on mutual respect and cooperation, to the Emperor who was not naked but was endorsing a clothing-optional lifestyle, at last, here is bedtime reading free from prejudice and discrimination to witches, giants, dwarves, goblins and fairies everywhere.

“Hillary and I have been enjoying (it)… it’s hilarious.”
Bill Clinton

Bum Fodder by Richard Smyth

Bum Fodder by Richard Smyth

And for those dads that enjoy toilet humour (there’s always one!), Richard Smyth’s Bum Fodder charts the absorbing history of the humble toilet roll. From its origins in Medieval China to the invention of the hi-tech Washlet, a combined cleansing and drying system that removes the need for paper altogether, Smyth has delved deep into the annals of literature to chart humanity’s pursuit of gentleness for the behind.

“The ultimate accessory for the loo: Richard Smyth’s fascinating tome about toilet paper that flushes out reams of intriguing facts.”
‘Saga’

Happy Father’s Day to all! For more ideas, visit our website at www.souvenirpress.co.uk.

Humour: the Enemy of Political Correctness?

“You couldn’t make it up” Eric Morecambe’s running gag in the ‘Morecambe and Wise’ TV series would have been seriously challenged last week with the latest media Political Correctness stories. The BBC announced that it was advertising for a weather forecaster who is disabled, which appears to be mirroring the plotline of a recent episode of their hilarious W1A series, thus strengthening the view of many of its employees that the series is not actually a parody of what might go on, but a documentary of what does. An even fiercer media battle arose about Transworld’s decision to tone down the cover of Jilly Cooper’s seminal blockbuster Riders 30 years after it was first published. The cover, ‘which originally had a man’s hand resting intimately on the seat of a woman’s “jodhpurs” (The Times), has now been moved an inch or two higher up to rest on the rider’s “hip”’. Alison Flood’s blog rightly notes that the man’s riding crop has however got bigger in the meantime. These latest examples of the timeless march onwards and upwards of Political Correctness since we first published James Finn Garner’s Politically Correct Bedtime Stories in 1994 cheered us no end as they have just coincided with two more reprints in the 21st year of its publication, confirming that laughter is the best medicine against its creeping invasion of daily life. Of course we were even more chuffed to find Laurie Penny, whose columns in the New Statesman so enliven its content, confessing that in 1994 when she was nine years old and sitting at the table of her small suburban kitchen in Sussex, slopping Frosties into her mouth, she was reading our book, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, having been given it by friends as a joke. At that time, she points out that Politically Correct Bedtime Stories was her favourite book, and you could tell from the milk stains! Already at nine she had the awareness that in these stories

“Cinderella organises against low paid labour. Snow White is an activist for the rights of people of restricted growth. And the wolves are gentle, misunderstood carnivores who sometimes get to win. As I’m nine, I’ve never heard of political correctness before but it sounds good to me.”

and that’s just the start of a two-page essay that gives a very prescient account of the dangers and benefits of political awareness as practiced today, some of which are not funny at all! Her comments made us recall the difficult birth of book. In the USA where it originated, it was rescued from the slush pile of Macmillan by a young editor who not surprisingly has since become a powerful publisher and by now has sold 1 million copies there (we’re up to 400,000 with ours). Macmillan at the time were bought out by Simon & Schuster and in the changeover it was decided that book was a children’s book since the words ‘Bedtime Stories’ figured in the title. Though we don’t do children’s books, I couldn’t stop laughing reading it, and bought it immediately for our list. Though very popular with school kids, it is of course an adult book that is timeless. On its first publication, though it had some sniffy reviews from people such as David Baddiel and the ex-MP Austin Mitchell, who didn’t find it funny, but once Libby Purves headlined, ‘Witches have human feelings too’ for a long feature on it in The Times, commended it as

“…One of those works which cleave an author instantly to your heart…It is beautiful. It demolishes, in few but elegant words, a dozen kinds of silliness. It is better than I can possibly convey.”

it found its very large and receptive audience, which continues to grow as Political Correctness does. At the 20th anniversary of the publication the author added a new story about the ugly duckling that was judged on its personal merits and not physical appearance and at the present rate he will probably have to add another couple to the book on its 25th anniversary now that so many more will have qualified for Eric Morecambe’s immortal words.

from Souvenir’s Ernest Hecht

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2014 cover of James Finn Garner’s Politically Correct Bedtime Stories (ISBN:9780285640412).

Roberto Ampuero’s ‘The Neruda Case’ Out Today!

Happy Publication Day to Roberto Ampuero for his widely acclaimed novel, The Neruda Case.

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Translated by Carolina de Robertis, this is the first of Ampuero’s novels to be translated into English.

Already a prize-winning sensation in the Hispanic world and across Europe, this is the first UK and Commonwealth publication of a major new series of crime novels.

In 1970’s Chile the world-famous poet Pablo Neruda can sense his impending death, as well as the end of an era in Chilean politics, but there is one final secret he must resolve. Neruda recruits Cayetano Brulé, a Cuban émigré who has moved to Chile, as his “own private Maigret”(Neruda lends him Simenon’s novels as a crash course in the job). Brulé travels through Neruda’s past and political faiths, retracing the poet’s life from Cuba to Berlin, while Pinochet moves to take power in Chile and all the poet has believed in is threatened.

Evocative and romantic, The Neruda Case spans continents, cultures and the convulsive end of an era and is an intriguing glimpse of Pablo Neruda as well as a gripping political thriller.

Buy a copy of The Neruda Case here.

Address Unknown at the Soho Theatre: What the Papers Say

If you are a regular reader of our Take Home a Souvenir blog, no doubt you will have seen last month’s blog post about Address Unknown, the book by Katherine Kressmann Taylor, now taken to the stage at the Soho Theatre. With performances in French and English (though the French performances have now finished their run), this fascinating play is garnering rave reviews from all sections of the press.

Take a look at the round up of reviews for Address Unknown at the Soho Theatre:

“Address Unknown is a poignant story of broken friendship that deals in high tragedy while refusing to slip into melodrama. … Steve Marmion’s production effectively emphasises the frustrating sense of helplessness that comes from the distance between the characters, with snippets of broadcasts and radio static adding to the mounting tension.” – Evening Standard, 4 stars.

“A shockingly potent story that is well worth hearing, and one that reminds how easily politics, prejudice and circumstance destroy lives.” – The Guardian, 3 stars.

“An absorbing hour that offers a vivid depiction of how a sense of betrayal can lead to desperate measures.” – The Times, 3 stars.

“A must see.” – One Stop Arts, 4 stars.

“A stunning play … It’s a powerful piece, well staged and well acted … Essential viewing for our modern times.” – The Gay UK, 4 stars.

“Normally a home primarily to new writing, the theatre has taken a gamble on staging a 75-year-old play. And that gamble has paid off. … a provocative and devastating hour of friendship and betrayal.” – A Younger Theatre.

Address Unknown is showing at the Soho Theatre until 27th July. You can book tickets now, and be sure to pick up a copy of the book before you see the play!

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