Between the Covers 17/06/2012

Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
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The Independent Culture

Guests lists at book launch parties are getting more specialist these days, with the head of Brighton police turning up at the launch of Peter James's latest thriller Not Dead Yet, and gem traders at the party at St Ethelreda's Crypt for Rachel Lichtenstein's new book, Diamond Street. This is a cute idea, but Between the Covers is steering clear of zombie novel launches ....

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Between the Covers is inspired by the latest ruse of the Staffordshire Book Barge, which took to the waves last year on a Grand Tour, swapping books for food and sustenance in order to keep (literally) afloat. The quirky retailer of new and second-hand fiction is still limping on – just – but has now come up with a fund-raising plan: writing a book, a chapter at a time, based on books that inspired the launch of the barge in the first place. The aim is to produce a chapter a week for six months and post it in the blog section at thebookbarge.co.uk. Fans will be invited to contribute via an "honesty box" (Paypal button) system. Each week's book will be available to buy on the barge. Let's hope this is not the end of the story.

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Thanks to Danuta Kean, the books editor of Mslexia magazine, for an insight about the latest guaranteed bestseller, French Women Don't Get Facelifts, by Mireille Guiliano, due for publication by Doubleday in early 2014. The new title by the author of French Women Don't Get Fat apparently reveals that ageing elegantly is more about lifestyle changes and attitude adjustments than Botox. "After all, while American, Brazilian and Chinese women lead the globe in cosmetic surgery, French women don't even make the Top 10." As Danuta points out, the press release neglects to mention the recent headlines about French authorities recommending that 30,000 women have faulty PIP breast implants removed as a precaution. Perhaps that will come in another sequel, this time called French Women Don't Get Compensation.

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The deadline is approaching for an intriguing competition at write-connections.com, a website that offers support and services for writers. "We believe that in order to get recognised, improve and turn those great ideas into great stories, writers must be writing," they say, to which end entrants are invited to submit sample chapters on the subject of "rewriting Romeo and Juliet", or just "anything". There are fees to enter and the winners receive advice, or places on writing workshops. Romeo and Juliet can be reset in any period, genre or parallel universe (steady on) and the themeless competition just asks writers to submit a chapter of 442 words. "Why 442? Simply because it is our favoured formation." Between the Covers can offer a clue: that's a football reference. Go to write-connections.com, Competitions, for details.

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Congratulations to Bloomsbury, whose publicists are gleefully trumpeting the fact that "the Vatican has banned our book". The Vatican's doctrinal office has formally censured Sister Margaret A Farley's Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, which "proposes a framework for sexual ethics whereby justice is the criterion for all loving", and discusses within this framework such topics as same-sex relationships, masturbation, and remarriage after divorce. Don't worry, Sister – you're nobody until somebody bans you.

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