Related to: 'Jill Mansell'

Headline Review

Maybe This Time

Jill Mansell
Authors:
Jill Mansell

The uplifting new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of THIS COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING. The perfect read for fans of Lucy Diamond and Katie Fforde. When Mimi first visits her dad's new home in the Cotswolds, she falls in love with Goosebrook and the people who live there. There's Paddy, with his flashing eyes and seductive charm. Friendly and funny Lois makes Mimi laugh. And seriously gorgeous Cal is welcoming and charismatic. Though Mimi loves her city life and her career, she'd be very happy to return to Goosebrook if it means seeing more of him.Life is about to take some unexpected and shocking twists and turns. And Mimi's path and Cal's are set to cross again and again - but will it ever be the right time for both of them?The joy of Jill's novels:'The queen of witty, heart-warming, feel-good love stories' Red'A heartwarming treat from one of my favourite writers' Katie Fforde'Reading Jill is always such a joy!' Veronica Henry

Headline Review

This Could Change Everything

Jill Mansell
Authors:
Jill Mansell
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Chasing Christmas Eve: Heartbreaker Bay Book 4

Jill Shalvis
Authors:
Jill Shalvis

Chasing Christmas Eve is the fourth in New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis's Heartbreaker Bay series, featuring her trademark gift for humour, warmth and romance. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Debbie Macomber, Nora Roberts and Marie Force. Run for the hills temporarily. That's Colbie Albright's plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie's so over it that she's under it. She's also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she's pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won't be a stranger for long.Spence's commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn't have to worry about the powerful - OK, crazy hot - chemistry he's got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself...just because she's gorgeous and a great listener...just because she gets Spence immediately doesn't mean he won't be able to let Colbie go. Does it?Now the clock's ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.Want more warm, funny romance? Check out the other Heartbreaker Bay novels starting with Sweet Little Lies, visit gorgeous Cedar Ridge, spellbinding Lucky Harbor or experience some Animal Magnetism in Sunshine, Idaho in Jill's other unforgettable series.

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Two Kitchens

Rachel Roddy
Authors:
Rachel Roddy

From the award-winning weekly Guardian Cook columnist and winner of the André Simon and Guild of Food Writers' Awards comes an Italian food book of sumptuous recipes, flavours and stories from Sicily and Rome.For the last twelve years, food-writer, cook and photographer Rachel Roddy has immersed herself in the culture of Roman cooking, but it was the flavours of the south that she and her Sicilian partner, Vincenzo, often craved. Eventually the chance arose to spend more time at his old family house in south-east Sicily, where Rachel embraced the country's traditional recipes and the stories behind them. In Two Kitchens Rachel celebrates the food and flavours of Rome and Sicily and shares over 120 of these simple, everyday dishes from her two distant but connected kitchens. From tomato and salted ricotta salad, caponata and baked Sicilian pasta to lemon crumble, honeyed peaches and almond and chocolate cake, they are the authentic Italian recipes that you will want to cook again and again until you've made them your own.'This is a recipe book that reflects the way I cook and eat: uncomplicated, direct and adaptable Italian family food that reflects the season. The two kitchens of the title are my kitchens in Rome and Sicily. In a sense, though, we could have called the book "many kitchens" as I invite you to make these recipes your own.' Rachel RoddyTwo Kitchens chapters: Vegetables and Herbs - Tomatoes; Aubergines; Peas; Broad Beans; Cauliflower; Potatoes; Onions; HerbsFruit and Nuts - Lemons; Peaches; Oranges; Grapes and Figs; AlmondsMeat, Fish and Dairy - Beef and pork; Chicken; White fish; Fresh anchovies and sardines; Eggs; RicottaStorecupboard - Chickpeas; Lentils; Preserved anchovies; Flour; BreadRachel's first book, Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome, won the André Simon Food Book Award and the Guild of Food Writers' First Book Award in 2015.

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The Year of Saying Yes

Hannah Doyle
Authors:
Hannah Doyle

Welcome to Izzy's rollercoaster year of saying yes. Get ready for non-stop hilarity, unadulterated entertainment and the journey of a lifetime.THE YEAR OF SAYING YES was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story!'Hannah's writing makes me laugh and laugh and LAUGH... I am officially a fan girl' Lucy Vine'Prepare yourself readers, you will be in hysterics in laughter until your belly hurts. I FREAKING LOVED THIS ... I feel like I have reunited with my old love. *happily sighs*' A Crave For Books Blog 'Move over Bridget Jones there's a new girl in town!' Goodreads reviewer 'Watch out Lindsey Kelk, someone is toppling you' Dreaming With Open Eyes Blog If you loved WHAT FRESH HELL and HOT MESS by Lucy Vine, IT STARTED WITH A TWEET by Anna Bell and PERFECT MATCH by Zoe May - THE YEAR OF SAYING YES will make you cry with laughter! Dear Readers, I hold my hands up: I'm stuck in a rut. For three years and counting I've been hopelessly in love with the same guy - and the closest we've ever got is a drunken arse grab (NB: this doesn't count). My favourite hobby is googling cats for spinsters and I'm sick of my shoestring salary that barely pays for my shoebox flat.I need a head-to-toe life makeover. Enter my 'Year of Saying Yes', which is where you come in. To help me sort out my sorry life, I need you to #DareIzzy. For the next 12 months I'll be saying 'yes' to your challenges, no matter how wild, adventurous or plain nuts they are. 'No' is not an option! Here goes... Wish me luck! I'm going to need it.Love, Izzy xHannah Doyle's THE YEAR OF SAYING YES will make you dirty-laugh, feel warm and fuzzy, and rediscover life's magic - all thanks to one little word: 'yes'. If you read and loved THE YEAR OF SAYING YES, her latest novel JUST MY TYPE is available to pre-order now! Readers love THE YEAR OF SAYING YES: 'A hilarious read' Bella magazine'The most excellent and humorous book I have read in a very long time' Dreaming With Open Eyes'I loved loved this book, it was fun, hilarious and witty' Escapades of a Bookworm'SO good ... full of laugh-out-loud moments' On My Bookshelf'A bundle of laughs' The Book Magnet'4% in, I was already laughing out loud and snorting ... the other 96% just kept getting better' The Writing Garnet'A fabulous and fun read' By The Letter Book Reviews'A hilarious, light hearted read' BrizzleLass Books'A breath of fresh air, that made me laugh and smile the whole way through... I will be telling anyone who will listen to me, just how great this story really is' Kelly's Book Corner 'Hannah Doyle's witty writing had me hook, line and sinker' Shaz's Book Blog'I highly encourage everyone to pick up this story' Alba In Bookland 'Ultimate beach read' Reveal magazine'This is a laugh out loud level of funny ... an all around fun book to read ' Rachel's Random Reads Blog'Prepare yourself readers you will be in hysterics in laughter until your belly hurts' A Crave For Books Blog

Headline Review

Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay: The feel-good bestseller to brighten your day

Jill Mansell
Authors:
Jill Mansell

A Sunday Times Top Ten BestsellerMEET ME AT BEACHCOMBER BAY is a romantic, funny and unputdownable new novel about love and friendship from Jill Mansell, bestselling author of THE ONE YOU REALLY WANT and YOU AND ME, ALWAYS - 'A glorious, heartwarming romantic read' Woman & Home. Perfect for anyone who loves Milly Johnson, Lucy Diamond and Jenny Colgan.Love is in the air in St Carys, but you'd never know it - the people of this seaside town are very good at keeping secrets...The man Clemency loves belongs to someone else. She has to hide her true feelings - but when she ropes in an unsuspecting friend to help, wires start to get crossed.For the first time in Ronan's life his charm has failed him in winning over the woman he wants. Loving her from afar appears to be his only option.Belle seems to have the perfect boyfriend, but something isn't quite right. And now a long-buried secret is slowly rising to the surface.The truth has a funny way of revealing itself, and when it does St Carys will be a very different place indeed...(P)2017 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

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Sweet Little Lies: Heartbreaker Bay Book 1

Jill Shalvis
Authors:
Jill Shalvis

Sweet Little Lies is the first in New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis's Heartbreaker Bay series, featuring her trademark gift for humour, warmth and romance. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Debbie Macomber, Nora Roberts and Marie Force. What if you fall for the one guy you can't have? As the captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru Harris can handle rough seas - the hard part is life on dry land. Especially when it comes to resisting her growing feelings for her new friend, Finn O'Riley. He's kind, he's gorgeous and he's Mr Right - for anybody but her.Pru has a particular reason for wanting Finn to find happiness and it's what she wishes for at the historic fountain that's supposed to grant her heart's desire. But things get tricky when it becomes clear that, when it comes to Pru, there's more than friendship on Finn's mind - because she's been keeping a secret that could change everything...Want more warm, funny romance? Visit gorgeous Cedar Ridge, spellbinding Lucky Harbor or experience some Animal Magnetism in Sunshine, Idaho in Jill's other unforgettable series.

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Five Quarters

Rachel Roddy
Authors:
Rachel Roddy
Headline Review

Three Amazing Things About You

Jill Mansell
Authors:
Jill Mansell

From the No. 1 bestselling author of THE ONE YOU REALLY WANT comes a poignant romantic novel about a young woman whose time is running out. Not to be missed by readers of Jojo Moyes and Erica James.Jill Mansell's enchanting new novel will drive readers to seize life with both hands and make the most of every minute...Hallie has a secret. She's in love. He's perfect for her in every way, but he's seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren't going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn't have long to live. Time is running out...Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won't be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends - let alone anything more.Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she's afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she's about to be given new lungs. But whose?

Headline Review

Jill Mansell's A-Z Of Happiness (An e-short)

Jill Mansell
Authors:
Jill Mansell
Headline

Allison Hewitt is Trapped

Madeleine Roux
Authors:
Madeleine Roux

Allison Hewitt is trapped. In the storeroom of Brookes & Peabody's. In a world swarming with the Undead, the Doomed, the Infected. Locked away with an oddball collection of colleagues and under siege, Allison takes advantage of a surviving internet connection and blogs. She writes, as the food runs out and panic sets in, as relationships develop and friends die, and as zombies claw at the door, all in the hope of connecting with other survivors out there. But as she reads the replies to her posts, Allison begins to comprehend the horrifying scale of the damage. And when no one comes to the group's rescue, they are forced to leave the safety of their room and risk a journey across the city; streets that crawl with zombies, and worse - fellow humans competing for survival.

Headline Review

Falling for You

Jill Mansell
Authors:
Jill Mansell

Jill Mansell's delicious bestseller FALLING FOR YOU is not to be missed by readers of Katie Fforde and Veronica Henry. Reviewers love Jill's novels: 'Glorious, romantic, heartwarming' Woman & HomeMaddy Harvey was a bit of an ugly duckling as a teenager, what with her NHS specs, unfortunate hair and wonky teeth. Thankfully she's blossomed since then. But when she meets Kerr McKinnon one starry summer's night and discovers, days later, who he actually is... well, that's when the problems really start. Because everyone in Ashcombe knows what happened eleven years ago, and as far as her mother's concerned, Marcella would rather tear that family to pieces with her bare hands than see Maddy associate with a McKinnon.It's Romeo and Juliet all over again. Quick, hide those sharp knives and that little bottle of poison...What readers are saying about Falling For You: 'Completely unputdownable. Falling for You explores some extremely serious storylines but in a moving and sometimes humorous manner' Amazon reviewer, 5 stars'Full of warmth and fun and wonderfully familiar, yet with a hint of surprise and suspense as well. Like her other books, this is charming and witty. Another winner from Jill Mansell' Amazon reviewer, 5 stars'This book surprised me so much. Perfection. Beautifully written. Oh and the ending? Mind-blowing!' Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

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Full Blast (Full Series, Book 4)

Janet Evanovich, Charlotte Hughes
Authors:
Janet Evanovich, Charlotte Hughes
Headline

Full Tilt (Full Series, Book 2)

Janet Evanovich, Charlotte Hughes
Authors:
Janet Evanovich, Charlotte Hughes
Posted by Headline authors

Beat those January blues...

Emma Hannigan, author of THE SUMMMER GUEST and THE HEART OF WINTER : I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers a very happy and healthy new year. As a nine times cancer survivor I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to embrace the next twelve months. I am so excited about my new book The Secrets We Share and I sincerely hope you will all enjoy it. May 2015 bring sunshine to your hearts and sparkles to your souls. Love and light, Emma Stephen Lloyd Jones, author of THE STRING DIARIES and WRITTEN IN THE BLOOD : Key challenges this year are to stop swearing so much and learn to play by ear Chopin's ‘Nocturne’ in E Flat Major (Op. 9, No. 2). Pretty tough, those two, especially in combination. Jill Mansell, author of THE UNPREDICTABLE CONSEQUENCES OF LOVE and THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU: Jill Mansell's New Year's Resolution. (To become a hare...) I spend my life envying other people for all sorts of reasons: that they are tall and thin... that they genuinely love exercise and aren't afraid to do it... that they have elegance and style and can travel long distances without getting all flustered and panicky... But nothing - NOTHING - inspires more envy than when I hear fellow writers say casually on social media, 'There, have just written five thousand words in two hours. Now off to have lunch with friends, followed by an afternoon of shopping - time for some fun!' Because they are hares and I am the tortoise. While they're out, gaily raising their Champagne glasses to each other and celebrating another sparkling chapter of their novel effortlessly done and dusted, I'm left at home like Cinderella, plodding my way through the next five hundred words, which will take me all day to write. So this is my resolution for 2015: I am going to stop procrastinating and endlessly distracting myself and whingeing to other people on Twitter that my writing is going so slowly. Instead I'm going to sit down and concentrate, and just get on and do it until it's done. Jo Thomas, author of THE OYSTER CATCHER : To be honest, I find it very hard to give anything up. If someone tells me I can't have it, I want it more! So I plan to do more of certain things. Eat more fruit. Walk more, because it's such good thinking time when I’m writing. The characters just start chatting amongst themselves and it's a great way to set myself up for a day’s work. And reading, of course. I love reading and I seem to end up squeezing in a bit of reading time at the end of the day before falling asleep. So I'm giving myself permission in 2015 to read more and enjoy! Paul Fraser Collard, author of THE DEVIL'S ASSASSIN and JACK LARK: ROGUE : 1) Learn how to use a semicolon properly. Word tells me that I need to consider revising the ones I do use and who am I to ignore such wise advice. 2) Accept that I have more than a few rogue grey hairs. Just For Men is no longer a viable option. 3) On at least one occasion prove to my sixteen-year-old son that I do really know better than he does. 4) Stop trying to convince my family that Opal Fruits (yes, Opal Fruits, not Starburst) count as one of my five-a-day. 5) Stop checking my Amazon sales ranking. No more. Never again. Or at least, not more than once or twice a day. Sarah Hilary, author of SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN and NO OTHER DARKNESS : Every January, I arm myself with fresh Moleskine notebooks and pens, and with books and DVDs to stimulate my curiosity. As I get to work on book three, this year's arsenal includes Explore Everything by Bradley L. Garrett, Paranoia by Freeman and Freeman, and box-sets of True Detective, and The Mentalist. My chief resolutions (the same every year): to bury the past, and to live (and write) in the moment. Sierra Kincade, author of THE MASSEUSE and THE DISTRACTION : I resolve to live the kind of life that inspires me to write more books. Wait... I write naughty books. I mean, live a more adventurous life (in the bedroom). Wait. I mean, just get out of the house more. (Now that sounds even naughtier!) Sigh. I resolve to write more books. I resolve to eat more cake and feel less guilty. I also resolve to cry tears of pain at the gym following said cake. And I resolve to invest in a chocolate IV which will keep me blissfully caffeinated. And if that doesn't work, I resolve to just stay blissfully caffeinated. 2015 is going to be a great year. Barbara Nadel, author of BODY COUNT and LAND OF THE BLIND : In 2015 I've said I will say goodbye to some of my self-doubt – can't say goodbye to all of it or I won't be neurotic any more. But I will be asking for more. I want to have more fun with friends or chocolate or, preferably both. I'm only giving up celery. Professionally, I want to do a lot more publicity and public-speaking work and I want to write ever more challenging books. Apart from that, just world peace, more money for the NHS, and more public tolerance of eccentricity. If a woman wants to lie in her own bath in a wedding dress, that really is her business. And we should respect that. Nicola Doherty, author of IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME and the GIRLS ON TOUR series: Hello. My name is Nicola and I’m a New Year’s Resolution addict. I’ve made the same resolutions for probably the past five years. They tend to include running more, eating less sugar, lifting weights, doing more yoga, watching less TV and … flossing. This last one became so popular among my friends a few years ago that we joked about substituting flossing for drinks as a social engagement. (I also gave up alcohol for January once, but not any more: if there’s one month where you NEED a drink, it’s January). This year, I’m doing a slight variation on the usual. Inspired by this website, I looked at why my previous resolutions failed, and built in contingency plans. I’ve signed up for a half marathon on 22 March, so that I HAVE to run. I realised that the reason I never kept up my weights before is that it’s so boring. So I’ve started having a little flash disco at home every afternoon for ten minutes, just dancing with my weights aloft like Jane Fonda. Obviously I look nuts but I’m dancing on my own so it’s fine. And – most importantly – I’m marking every successful day in my calendar. Seven days in, it’s working – just seeing that tick on the calendar is enough to make me do it. It’s a pity I didn’t think of this five years ago, but there you go. People who love making resolutions don’t understand people who don’t. In my next book Girls on Tour, Maggie and Rachel get together for a ‘friendship date’ after first meeting on a skiing holiday. The date is very awkward and stilted initially – until the girls realise that they share a love of New Year’s resolutions and bond over their relentless drive for self-improvement. Maggie and Rachel both end up breaking most of their resolutions – except two: they’ve both resolved to make new friends and to travel more. And they do! Another thing I’ve learned: positive and fun resolutions are always easier to keep … Of course New Year’s Resolutions don’t always work. Otherwise we’d all be thin, fit, decluttered and fluent in Mandarin. But they still hold out a glittering promise – that one day we’ll overcome our limitations and become better, healthier, more productive versions of ourselves. I’m optimistic by nature, so I’ll continue to make my resolutions. And even if they just end up giving me a slightly healthier January, what’s wrong with that? Steven Dunne, author of THE UNQUIET GRAVE and A KILLING MOON : At my age the only important New Year's Resolution is to get healthier and stay that way. Less booze, less food and more exercise, the latter especially problematic for a writer. Career-wise it's simple. With A Killing Moon in 2015 I want to reach new readers and, in so doing, open up my previous novels for discovery to thriller lovers everywhere. Happy and healthy New Year to everyone.

Posted by Ben Hatch, Author

Blog: Down the Hatch

Daniela, our forager, meets us at our hotel. She’s tall and willowy with mesmeric upper class teeth, the front bottom two of which seem to slope slightly forward like an old-fashioned up and over garage door. She’s wearing brown furry boots, jogging bottoms and a gilet and bounces like a spaceman on the moon. On the drive to the foraging place Daniela tells us she’s also a body and mind therapist and that her boyfriend’s one of the country’s foremost experts on fungi. ‘Self-taught,’ she adds, meaning I’m thinking, ‘Lots of trips to the hospital to have his stomach pumped.’ It’s half-term, we’re in Devon and I don’t want to go foraging. Neither do the kids (Phoebe, 8 and Charlie, 6). It’s windy, cold, too early and I’d rather be eating breakfast back at the hotel. The buffet bangers are under a metal hood beside cooked tomatoes and mushrooms and the toast’s brought straight to the table. There’s no need to forage. But my wife Dinah wants to. Foraging is new, sustainable, cool and growing in popularity, and besides she has to write an article about it. We’re foraging in Sidmouth and, as Daniela scours the banks of the river Ford, the first edible plant she discovers is hogweed. It has a purple furry stem, smells like orange peel, is apparently the poor man’s asparagus and is not to be confused, she tells us, after we’ve eaten some, with giant hogweed that looks a lot like it but has photosensitive juice, which can cause burning of the skin, blisters and lifelong changes to skin colour. As we wait nervously for the potential third degree burns and permanent disfigurement, Daniela snaps off the top of a nettle in her gloved hand and fans it out for us like a bouquet of peonies. It’s great in nettle soup, abundant and our most overlooked salad leaf, she says, her eyes shining. Enthused, the kids sting themselves picking some and Dinah’s so mesmerised by Daniela she leans unwittingly forward to SNIFF the nettles and is stung on the tip of her nose. We move to the beach. It’s now so cold and windblown that Charlie, who hates his coat more than anything in the world, has not only put it on but voluntarily pulled his hood up. Daniela moves along the foot of the rocky cliff and, as the kids complain they want to go, and are periodically blown into the brambles, she finds sea radish, sea plantain, rock samphire and alexanders, although by now I’m dubious. We’ve no idea what anything is. She could be making it up – adding the word ‘sea’ to the front of ordinary vegetables. My knowledge of green things ends at rocket, and Dinah’s so un-outdoorsy she doesn’t even own a proper coat. And besides isn’t there a reason people don’t eat random plants? ‘So have you ever eaten anything poisonous?’ I ask Daniela, as we chew what she’s suspiciously claiming is sea spinach. ‘No,’ she says, picking up something that she seems to believe we’ll accept is actually called ox-eye-daisy or whoopsy-daisy or something like that, ‘but a forager friend of mine,’ she adds, ‘once ate hemlock water drop wart.’ ‘And what happened to him?’ I ask. ‘He went into a coma,’ says Daniela, matter-of-factly. ‘Oh!’ And I look at Dinah, who takes another defiant bite but quietly removes the plant from Phoebe and Charlie’s hands, I notice. ‘What's a coma?’ says Phoebe ‘It's when your heart gets out of control and you go to sleep for a few days and come close to death,’ says Daniela, breezily picking up something else. ‘Here try this. It’s Sea lettuce. No, hang on…’ She drops it, and picks something else. ‘This is Sea lettuce.’ ‘That's why it's best only to eat leaves that experts say is OK,’ I say to the kids. ‘But he was an expert,’ says Phoebe. ‘The simple lesson is never eat anything at all that looks like a flat leaf parsley plant,’ says Daniela. ‘And what do they look like?’ I ask, as Charlie reaches into the undergrowth to independently pick some furry looking leaf he immediately pops into his mouth, but my question’s swept away by the wind, as is Phoebe, who flounders in a clump of what? Sea turnips, sea swedes? sea parsnips? …who knows what this stuff is. Walking back to the car, Daniela tells us that a government minister once told a friend of hers that foraging would become more and more important as the banking system collapsed and currencies devalued and became worthless and people began scouring hedgerows to stay alive. As she says this she is childishly kicking a stone along the dirt path. ‘But that's unsubstantiated,’ she adds, to Dinah, who’s making notes, ‘So don't take it out of context.’ Back at the hotel we catch the end of breakfast. Leaving half an hour later, warm again and bloated with bacon, sausages, toast and egg, the world order still looks relatively intact, leaving me confident enough of our survival over the next 48 hours to abandon the now squashed looking fruits of our foraging labour in the bin.

Matt Dawson's Freebies XV

Being a top rugby player is a pretty good life. Not only do you get to compete in huge games in front of crowds of thousands, you also pick up some pretty cool freebies. Matt picks the best free stuff he's been given throughout his career.

Milo Rambles VS Keith B Walters

TURF WAR!

Two crime community blogging Goliaths battle it out in this month's TURF WAR. Who wins? You decide.

Posted by Myke Cole, author

Blog: Reflections on New York Comic Con

You might want to sit down for this one, it’s going to come as a bit of a shock. I hate to be the guy who pulls the rug out from under you, who shatters the tender illusion under which you’ve lived your entire life until now. The Internet didn’t always exist. No, I’m serious. There was a time when people didn’t have the means to communicate instantly, to answer nearly any question, to check in on the hilarious antics of anyone’s cat, at any time, anywhere in the world. It was a dark time. Marriages collapsed as the lack of Wikipedia meant that couples couldn’t resolve arguments with the click of a mouse. People starved to death, lost on unfamiliar roads, without their iPhone’s maps feature to guide them to civilization. Cats rode Roombas, dashed into paper bags, cuddled up beside dogs without anyone to witness their heart-breakingly cute hilarity. I’ve been called a tough guy because I’ve been to war, but I think the real testament to my durability was that I lived through this Dark Age. It was especially tough on nerds. We thrive on minutiae, esoteric cultural touchstones that are precious to us precisely because they are so rare. It’s hard to find a guy who can identify all the different types of Storm Trooper armor (and yes, that includes the Emperor’s Royal Guard) at a glance, who can tell you the THAC0 for a 3rd level Thief without having to look it up. When we meet those who can, we bond with them, reveling in a sense of cultural identity which I am assuming is the cousin to how Masai feel when they celebrate a warrior killing yet another lion. With a spear. By himself. Anyway, with no Internet, it was harder to find one another, especially when reaching out to the wrong person could get you mercilessly teased, or worse, smacked around and stuffed in a locker. To facilitate the location and bonding process, we nerds were drawn to gatherings known as “cons.” (And no, they didn’t involve tricking kindly old ladies out of their life savings). Generally held in hotels, these gatherings allowed a few hundred of us to bond in safety, reveling in our tribal songs (filking) and interpretive dances (LARPing). It also doubled as pretty much the only place on earth any of us would ever have a chance in hell of kissing a member of the opposite sex. I lived for cons. My life was one interminable stretch of time between them, each a crucible I had to get through until the next long weekend among my own. They all had cool names playing on their root word: Lunacon, Balticon, Confusion, Boskone. Okay, so that last one kind of fell down on the job, but you get the idea. They were always put on by fans, run by volunteers, usually operating at a loss. Science Fiction and Fantasy is one of the few genres where the majority of the pros come up through fandom, and cons were peppered liberally with authors, editors and literary agents, all doing their business networking in a morass of joy that gave them a uniform expression of I-can’t-believe-I-make-money-doing-this. It was at cons that my burgeoning interest in the genre became a professional ambition. I met my agent at Philcon, sat in the lobby until 3AM talking about everything other than writing. I first met my editor and her assistant at a con. Fast forward a-number-of-years-I-am-uncomortable-stating-because-I-am-really-really-old. A perfect storm of genre successes in popular culture (a string of outstanding superhero flicks, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, a surge in adult acceptance of video games, which are almost always SF/F based), and some literary successes (Harry Potter, Twilight, Eragon) helped propel Science Fiction and Fantasy into the mainstream. At the same time, the pervasiveness of the Internet began to erode the old fan-run con culture. When you can find thousands of like-minded people at the click of a mouse, why bother traveling hundreds of miles to spend a weekend at an expensive hotel? The shared vocabulary was online. Everything, from role-playing games to fan-fiction, was available in an instant. Those who accuse Internet addicts of isolation are fools. The Internet is a fundamentally social phenomenon. It is a new way that people form bonds. Cons began to gray. The panels became repetitive, the programming staff focusing more and more on holding on to their salad days, while the genre moved on without them. I don’t know when it first happened, but somewhere along the way, someone perked up and noticed that the con culture was still being applied to a small subsection of society, but revolved around a genre that was now immensely popular. The appeal was broad enough that people were willing to spend a lot of money for their articles of faith: action figures, specialized t-shirts, special edition DVDs, oceans and oceans of books. Boom. The for-profit con was born. There are comic cons all over the country now. It seems like every major city has one. While the old fan-run cons attract hundreds, these pull in tens of thousands, packing the largest venues of major cities so full that it takes an attendee 20 minutes to walk 20 feet. They transcend genre now, have become pop culture celebrations, pulling in film, television and gaming executives hawking wares from straight comedy to mainstream drama, with nary a superhero in sight. And there’s still more money to be made, with venue after venue springing up to meet demand. Wizard World, Dragon Con, the Sci-Fi Weekender. There’s a tribal petulance for those of us who were there first, who saw the birth of the con and grew up in the bosom of its larval state. This new age of mega cons makes us want to shake our fists and call the beautiful people thronging the halls of the Javitts Center Johnny-Come-Latelys (and if one more model unilaterally declares herself “Queen of the Nerds,” I will go ballistic). They are, after all, the people who took our lunch money, who wouldn’t date us. Walk through Williamsburg, Brooklyn and you’re bound to see a guy who has never played D&D in his life sporting a “THIS IS HOW I ROLL” T-shirt, emblazoned with a 20-sided die. But we go, of course. Comic Con is a focal point of my year, the happiest long weekend of the annual cycle. And that’s because I remembered something from my early days as a writer. When my best friend hit it huge as a professional genre writer before I did, I made the conscious decision not to be jealous. A rising tide lifts all boats, I told myself, and it was true. His success didn’t hinder mine in the least. In fact, it helped me when my turn came. The same is true here. I was drawn to cons of hundreds for the same reason folks are drawn to cons of hundreds of thousands: Because the genre is amazing, because a thing shared is so much more wonderful than a thing enjoyed privately. Because nothing in life can beat the simple animal pleasure of turning to a stranger and saying “That is so awesome!” and having them smile knowingly and say “it really is!” It is a brief moment where we are not alone. As I walk through New York Comic Con (or rather, as I ride the shoulders of my enormous colleague Sam Sykes to avoid getting trampled by the horde), I see the legions of fans thronging the aisles. In junior high school, most of these people likely wouldn’t have been my friends. But they are now. A rising tide lifts all boats. Man, it just keeps going up and up, year after year. And the view from here is glorious.