Fred’s War at the De La Warr

The De La Warr Gallery in Bexhill, Sussex is showing a selection of photographs from Short Books’ Fred’s War in its rooftop foyer space from 28th April – 29th June, 2014.9781780721811 3D image

Also on display will be one of Fred Davidson’s original photo albums and a 1912 Kodak Vest Pocket camera. Signed copies of Fred’s War will be on sale in the De La Warr bookshop. Author Andrew Davidson will be giving a talk at the De La Warr about the book on Saturday 14 June at 2pm.

Competition to be announced July 4th

Three Things web image

Stay tuned for an exciting competition that will be announced along with the mass market release of Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets by Jessica A Fox.

If you like reading, travelling and getting creative – this is the competition for you!

Check back next Thursday July 4th for full details.

Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and sign up to our mailing list to cover all your bases and make sure you DON’T MISS OUT.



The JM Barrie Ladies Swimming Society hits 5000 followers on Facebook! To celebrate this and the 4th of July – we are giving away copies of The JM Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society book, notepads, bookmarks and some fabulous vintage bathing caps! ‘Share’ this photo on the JM Barrie Ladies Facebook page and tell us who you would recommend the book to and why… we will be giving prizes away to the best answers. And just in case you need reminding how gorgeous those bathing caps are here’s a brilliant picture…


Top 100 Summer Reads

The Sunday Times published their Top 100 Summer Reads this weekend and we were thrilled to see The White Lie in there.


It has a fabulous new paperback jacket too and that will be in the shops on July 5th. What do you think?

(4 days later…) Oh, and I have now just seen that The White Lie has also been selected by the lovely Mumsnet as one of their Summer Reads too. It is so great to see this novel building a following as everyone who reads it raves about it and we love it here in the office.

The JM Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Club…

…is really growing! Barbara is truly inspirational and its not just us that think so. She now has over 3000 followers on Facebook and it is growing all the time. Do pop over there to see her – she has a brilliant collection of vintage swimming photos that you won’t want to miss.

And we should also be saying a big thank-you to Waitrose who have been hugely supportive of this book – so much so that you can read Barbara’s extraordinary story in this month’s Waitrose Chronicle Magazine here.

Not just any old pond…

The brilliant Barbara Zitwer talks about the importance of wild swimming and why the Hampstead Ladies Pond is so important to her in particular. If you want to follow Barbara’s progress with The JM Barrie Ladies Swimming Society, you can visit her excellent Facebook page that is gathering followers quicker than Micheal Phelps can swim a length…


An inspirational dip

The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Club has been gathering much deserved attention in the press in that past couple of weeks, not least due to the remarkable story behind the writing of the novel. Inspiration can come from the unlikeliest places as Barbara recounted in this week’s Sunday Times Style magazine.

Launching into the cold!

Adverse weather conditions never stopped the members of the J.M. Ladies’ Swimming Society from taking a dip and so it was at the fantastic launch of Barbara J. Zitwer’s novel at the Hampstead Heath Ladies Pond today. Wind, rain, freezing temperatures? They were simply mild irritants to the wonderful collection of friends, fans, journalists and the members of the Kenwood Ladies Pond Association, who met at the pond this morning to toast the publication of Barbara’s novel and to take a dip themselves. It was a great celebration of the restorative, invigorating and rather chilly pursuit of wild swimming and a very fitting launch for The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society








They took to it like ducks to water…







Will she, won’t she. Barbara tests the water…







And she is in! A unique way to celebrate the publication of your novel…








Hot tea and cakes await the swimmers. many thanks to the brilliant High Tea of Highgate for the fantastic cakes and sandwiches – truly delicious!








Barbara (left) warms up with a well-deserved cup of tea.



The White Lie

There has been a fantastic response to Andrea Gillies’ debut novel The White Lie and her reviews have been every bit as good as we hoped they would. If you haven’t yet laid your hands on a copy – now is the moment…

Here’s what the reviewers have been saying:

“A really terrific read… Elegant, well written, genuinely gripping”
Joanna Harris

“A wonderfully compelling portrait of a family haunted by secrets and lies… pitch perfect on the chilling, devestating consequences of guilt” Sally Brampton

“Absolutely searing… we have a major new talent in our midst” Daily Express

“A white lie is, by convention, a harmless thing… Gillies explores in this novel how such lies may be very far from innocent in intention or in effect… the truth beginning to work its way to the surface, like a swollen and decomposing corpse… She excels in her portrait of a landscape that consumes the merely human – eats it for lunch, as it were – and has slowly, over many generations, created a family in its own image.”
Helen Dunmore, Times

“The White Lie is a story of decline, of a crumbling ­hierarchy taking desperate measures to save face (and the bloodline and the silver) before the hordes sweep them away. Yet, more than that, it is an account of the unreliability of personal history. Is a family story true because it is repeated? Does it matter in the end if the “truth” is revealed, if the lie has been lived? This novel develops ideas of the fragility and fluidity of identity. We all self-mythologise.
“The strength of this immersive story is that it does not require neat revelations. The White Lie is, even with its detours, a page-turner. It is also, finally, very moving…”
Francine Stock, Guardian

“There’s an echo of Virginia Woolf, especially To the Lighthouse, that lifts Gillies’ work above the average family drama. The fact that she also keeps a tight hold of the gossipy strands of her story is a great credit to her powers, as well as her ability to keep her readers guessing the truth to the end. This is an unusual, unsettling, often lovely story that plumbs the depths of what family means. It is a fine debut novel.”
Lesley McDowell, The Scotsman

“Gillies writes with elegance… bringing the closed world of the big house to life with cinematic clarity, the guilt-ridden residents as distressed as the threadbare furniture. The book has a pleasantly teasing quality, stealthily circling its central mysteries, challenging the reader to keep up while it flits between eras. A gripping exploration of the stories families tell about themselves, myths sometimes more potent than the truth.”
Financial Times

“**** Gillies handles her large cast and clashing versions of events with a precision that makes reading this imaginative novel a fascinating process of discovery.”

“Gillies’ beautifully crafted debut combines page-turning aplomb with psychological insight… She is a tantalising storyteller, dropping in clues, vertiginous surprises and unexpected revelations.”
Marie Claire

“An intricate, well-observed novel of secrets and guilt.”
Woman & Home

“Gillies writes magnificently on everything she touches, be it family secrets, Highland light, or the nature of memory.”
Sunday Times

“By the time I was half way through the book I was returning to it at every spare moment to find out what happened – and it really wasn’t what I was expecting…”

Final day: Win a signed copy of The Three Hungry Boys

It’s the last day of the Three Hungry Boys competition, so here they are with the final challenge:

Well yesterday’s competition produced entries that ranged from the sublime, Henry Mcilroy’s foraged fruit crumble, to a downright peculiar conversation about pickling pheasants. Not sure we’ll be trying all of them but thank you all for the suggestions.

The gastro-king that has cooked their way to success and ownership of a signed copy of our book is @wanttobakefree who captured our approach to cooking perfectly. Throw everything into a bowl, stir and bake, perfect for people like us who have an oven in their van.

On our next trip which will hopefully be somewhere nice and warm (hint, hint, Hugh) we will be needing a new mixtape to while away the hours of traveling. On our last two trips we picked up CDs and albums from people we met along the way but this time we want to make a compilation before we leave. To do that we need suggestions from you. We want Three Hungry Boys’ themed songs that we can add to the list. The song has to be linked to us either by title or artist, off the top of our heads we’ve got De la Soul’s 3 Is The Magic Number and Duran Duran’s Wild Boys but we are sure you can come up with lots more.

Send your song choices to us on Twitter (@3hungryboys) or Facebook ( and we’ll be picking the most creative as a recipient of the last signed copy of the 3HB book.

You have until 9pm to get your entries in and we will be announcing the winners tomorrow morning. I’m just going to go and dust off the ghetto blaster in anticipation of the mixtape marathon!



I have just finished putting together the mixtape for our next trip. We are going to be blasting out the Beastie Boy’s Triple Trouble as suggested by @Elmo_84 as we cruise the coastal roads, getting down to Wild Honey by the Beach Boys courtesy of @AmyRylett and sheepishly humming along to the guilty pleasure that is 3 little boys by Rolf Harris shame on you @mumoffunkids!
However the winner of our final signed book is @rosiemathilda whose suggestions could have created a compilation album for this and the next adventure!
Well that is it, a week  of book giveaways. We hope that we have made the Christmas shopping experience easier for some of you. I’d certainly much rather come up with a budget recipe or random adventure trip than traipse round the shops at Christmas. Thank you all for taking part.
And remember if you did’t win you can still get a copy of our book in time for Christmas, there is something in there for everyone ranging from instructions on how to skin a rabbit to a picture of Trevor jumping into a river in his birthday suit.”


Day Three: Win a signed copy of The Three Hungry Boys

Day Three of the competition and the boys are getting into their stride. Here they are with today’s challenge:

We think Fearnley-Whittingstall should be looking over his shoulder! Your suggestions of our next holiday destination were much better than his efforts although we’re not too sure about Darryl’s suggestion of dumping us on a desert island with absolutely no supplies whatsoever!

However, our worthy winner was @Janepacamac1 <>  She could well be replacing Hugh as our adventure travel agent as her suggestion of a tour of the remotest islands in the Northern Hemisphere would certainly push us to our limits. A signed copy of our book is on the way to you as we speak.

Today’s competition is all about our favourite subject, FOOD! We’re getting to be pretty good at making a meal out of the most meagre rations but we are always open to new ideas, especially after some of the disasters we had on our latest trip. Send us your favourite dish on a shoestring and we’ll pick out the one in exchange for a signed book <> .

Whether it’s your own take on beans on toast or a foraged banquet, as long as it’s cheap it’s in with a shot of winning. Send your budget gastro-delights to us on Twitter (@3hungryboys) or Facebook ( <>) and we’ll be picking our favourites as winners. You have until 9pm to get your entries in and we will be announcing the winners tomorrow morning.
Our bellies are already starting to rumble!

Day Two of the 3 Hungry Boys competition

Looks like there are a lot of people out there that haven’t bought all their Christmas presents yet judging by the level of frenzied activity!

But @Cotswold_Missy <>  who retweeted us on Twitter can breathe a sigh of relief because she now has a signed copy of the 3 Hungry Boys book for under her tree!

For the rest of you, don’t despair because each day this week there is another chance to win one of their books.

And that brings us neatly to today’s challenge. Over to them:

We’ve left their travel arrangements to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for our last trips and each time he has plumbed new depths in terms of a lack of preparation and research. Our first trip, no money, tiny little van, no sun, midges, not exactly the summer adventure we were expecting. Our second trip, again no money, a 3.5 ton electric van that didn’t like hills, no sun loungers or cocktails in fake pineapples and definitely no 5 star hotels.

He’s walking on thin ice at the moment and we are thinking of sacking him in favour of a new trip planner. If you were left in charge of our travel arrangements where would you send us and what would you have us do? Send us your ideas on Twitter (@3hungryboys) including the hashtag #3HB or Facebook ( <> ) and we’ll be picking our favourite suggestion as a winner. You have until 9pm to get your entries in and we will be announcing the winners tomorrow morning. Who knows if your suggestions are good enough you might well find yourself organizing our next trip!


Day One: The Three Hungry Boys Competition

Here are The Three Hungry Boys with their competition to win a signed copy of their new book:

Done all your Christmas shopping? Course you haven’t! Well fear not dear friends because the 3 Hungry Boys are here to save your bacon. All this week we are giving away signed copies of the truly excellent 3 Hungry Boys book, a perfect Christmas gift!

Seeing as we are pretty fond of challenges we are going to be setting a different competition each day for a chance to get your mitts on one of these beauties. Today we are going to ease you in gently with a simple challenge.

We have posted a competition link from our Twitter account (@3hungryboys) that looks like this.

Win one of these the perfect Christmas present by @3hungryboys by retweeting this tweet

All you need to do is retweet this link and we will pick one person randomly as the winner and owner of a brand-spanking-new signed book.

Don’t have a Twitter account? Not to worry we are going to do the same thing with Facebook. We’ll be posting this competition on our page ( <> ) and all you need to do is share it. We’ll pick a person at random that has shared it and that’ll be one less present to worry about for the lucky winner.

We’ll be closing entries and picking a winner at 9pm to give a good chance to get involved and announcing the winners tomorrow morning. If you don’t win not to worry because there will be more chances all week.

Good luck to you all

Part 3: Thom’s Rabbit Ragu

Rabbit Ragu

Rabbit is one of the leanest, healthiest and most sustainable meats available in the UK. When you slow cook it until it falls off the bone in a healthy tomato based sauce (containing the excellent antioxidant Lycopene ) you have got yourself an all-round, cheap easy and amazingly healthy supper.


Ingredients (feeds 4/5 people)

1kg rabbit meat, on the bone
200g of streaky bacon, pancetta or minced pork
A few good glugs of olive oil or a couple of good knobs of butter
3 x 400g tins chopped tomato’s
1 x 200g tube of tomato puree
1-2 glasses of red wine, something full-bodied like rioja or cabinet sauvignon
2 medium onions
4 cloves garlic
Half a grated nutmeg
A good handful of fresh basil
1 tsp of dried basil or mixed herbs
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper (about 20g of salt will be right. It may seem a lot but there is nothing that brings out the flavour in tomato’s like salt)

The Method

The great thing about this recipe is that you only need to use 1 large stewing pot from start to finish, just make sure it will be big enough to fit everything in!

Melt the butter or oil in the bottom of your large pan and add the chopped onion and garlic to soften until golden brown, this will really give depth of flavour.

Next add the bacon/pork on top and brown, drawing out the fat in the pork. Rabbit has virtually no natural fat in it and the pork will add a little plus another great meaty dimension of flavour. Lastly add the rabbit joints for a few minutes before, quite simply, chucking all the other ingredients in apart from the fresh basil, popping the lid on and putting in the oven at 170-180 degrees for a minimum of 2 hours, stirring every 45 minutes to an hour. Young rabbits will be ready from one and a half to two hours, more mature rabbits may take up to 3 hours before the meat EASILY falls of the bone and is lovely and tender.

5 minutes before serving add plenty of chopped, fresh basil and 1-2 tbsp of crème fraiche or single cream if you fancy giving the sauce a slightly thicker, shiny glaze.

Part 2: 3 Boys vs 1 fence

Trevor gives us a sneaky, and hilarious, behind the scenes peek filming the latest series of The Three Hungry Boys, due to air in January on Channel 4.  In this series Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall challenges the boys to drive a battery-powered converted milk float (aka ‘Daisy’) from River Cottage to Lands End. With no money and no food on board, it took them five hungry weeks and resulted in a few hair-raising moments…

It was the last day of our 5-week trip and the end was in sight, literally. The jutting headland of Land’s End was plainly visible in the distance but rather than making a beeline for the finish, we had more pressing matters on our mind. We had in our possession one monster lobster, one giant crab and a haunch of venison and they all needed to get in our bellies. We’d promised ourselves a feast of epic proportions to finish our trip and that is what we intended to do.

Seeing as we were cooking the best produce that the South West has to offer, we had to find a suitable spot to do the meal justice. We weren’t about to pull over in any old lay-by on the side of the road. We had to find somewhere special with a killer view and some peace and quiet.

The day before we’d had a tip about a simple field with a stunning view over Land’s End and Sennen Bay so we headed off to find it. We arrived at a farmer’s campsite and initially things didn’t look promising, there was the usual farmyard filled with machinery and farming paraphernalia but no stunning view. We crossed our fingers and carried on through the farm. This detour had taken a while and now time was tight – we had to slow roast the venison to release the flavours but we also had to be at Land’s End before dark which meant we couldn’t hang around.

Driving out of the farm down a track we all let out a sigh of relief, ahead of us was a large empty field and over the brow we could see Sennen Bay stretching away from us. We carried on down the track looking for a level patch of land to pull up on when we realised it wasn’t quite as perfect as we had first thought. Blocking our view was a small group of caravans and tents clustered into the corner of the field. Seeing as we had come this far we weren’t about to give up and there was a gap in the hedge that led into another smaller field where we could get an uninterrupted view and we would be by ourselves.

Daisy was pointed toward the gap and it was pedal to the metal, or whatever the equivalent is in a three and a half ton milk float. As we got closer, Thom pointed out that there was what looked like an electric fence lying on the ground. There was a brief conversation as to whether we should stop and make sure it was A) off and B) secure enough to drive over. However, the usual Hungry Boy logic prevailed and instead of doing the sensible thing we decided to carry on and see what happened. We drove over the fence and thought we were home and dry when suddenly Tim, who was driving, slammed on the brakes. As you could have guessed the fence had got tangled under the van and we were now dragging it along with us. Realising that we could go no further we stopped to see what the damage was.

Being the nearest to the door I put my hand on the metal door handle only to find that I couldn’t let go and that I now also had a quite significant electric shock pulsing through my body.

“AAAAARARARARARAAGGGAGGAGAHH” was the only sound I could muster. I’ve been shocked by fences before but this was by far and away the worst I had ever encountered. I don’t know what kind of cows they were keeping in this field but I imagine they are now very well behaved.

I’d managed to push the handle just enough to get the door open and by using my shoulder Thom and I were able to bundle through. Thom, instantly skeptical of the severity of the shock, began to laugh and accused me of being a wuss – until he put his hand on Daisy at which point he made pretty much the same noise I had and also did a little dance.

After getting over our shocks, we set about surveying the damage under the van and it didn’t look too bad. The fence was wrapped around some of the axle but it looked like it could easily be unhooked…that is, if we could have touched it with our hands which, of course, we couldn’t.

We asked Tim to back up to see if that would help. This wasn’t a very good idea. Daisy jerked back slamming the door shut at the same time as lifting the fence up from the ground to around shin height. This had the result of trapping my legs inbetween the fence, again sending shocks through my body. It felt like my legs had turned to jelly and I was going to fall so I put my hands out to steady myself. Unfortunately the only thing I could lean on was the metal side of Daisy, which was also electrified. So there I was in a field with an electric fence wrapped round my legs, with my hands firmly pressed against an electrified van soaking up the volts. There were some very choice expletives heard in that field at that moment. I literally had to jump out of the fence and as I walked back around the van the sight of Tim, Thom, and the crew crying with laughter greeted me.

We didn’t know what to do, Tim was now trapped in the van as the door was still electrified and even using your sleeves to open the door gave you a bad shock. Everyone had a go at opening it but instantly recoiled when they got a shock, leaving him stuck inside complaining that his leg hairs were standing on end due to the electrical charge.

The only option left to us was to try and untangle the fence using something that doesn’t conduct electricity and our range of options was fairy limited as we were in a field. So that was how we ended up with 2 grown men rooting about under the van poking tiny sticks at an electric fence. Every time a piece of the fence would come loose it would invariably hit someone else and a lot of swearing would follow. We spent a good 15-20 minutes like that until we were finally free and Tim and his now normal leg hair could drive the van to our lunch spot.

We arrived there relieved but still a little twitchy from all the shocks vowing to next time put the effort in and do things properly. The lunch that followed was a perfect combination of unspoilt views and delicious food but I have a sneaking suspicion that it tasted all the better because of all the hard work we had put in to get there…


Come and join the Birdwatching with your Eyes Closed blog tour

The Three Hungry Boys make the news

Great efforts have been underway at Short Books HQ in preparation for the publication of The Three Hungry Boys book – published on November 27th. This weekend saw the boys appear in The Times as the new TV chefs – where food and supplies don’t cost the earth. They are all about foraging, free food and working for your supper. Discovered by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Tim, Thom and Trevor are a brilliant threesome and seem set for success.  Their new series for Channel 4 will start any day now and their (excellent!) cookbook is out this week.

Here’s what The Times thought of them in this weekend’s paper:





Dinner with Churchill – Week Three in London bestsellers.

We are thrilled that Dinner with Churchill is still sitting in the Evening Standard’s Top 5 Bestsellers list this week. A great testament to a lot of hard work and a brilliant book.


A Winter Guide to Birds and Birdsong by Simon Barnes

A fabulous 8 page pull-out of Simon Barnes’ guide to winter birds in The Times this weekend, with fantastic illustrations by Natalie Lee. It is also accompanied by Simon’s brilliant podcast on birdsong that will take you from listening to the robin to recognising the nightingale. You can find the guide here. Or, if you aren’t a Times subscriber you can find both book info and the podcast here.

Dinner with Churchill in Top 5 this week

Very pleased indeed to see that Dinner with Churchill is holding its own…

Short Books in the news…

Yes, it is true. Short Books’ first enhanced ebook will be hitting the stores on November 3rd. Here’s what The Bookseller had to say about it.

The Pocket Book of Good Grannies Preview

Another fabulous offering from Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, author of bestselling The Good Granny Guide. This time Jane features 50 deliciously recognisable Granny types – from Glam Gran (she descends on the newborn’s cradle like a fairy godmother with her designer baby clothes and cashmere wraps) to Wise Gran (she knows by instinct how to get a burp out of a baby and how to comfort a colicky one…)

We completely love the Alex Fox’s illustrations – this really is a celebration of grandmotherhood in all its guises. There’s a Granny in here for everyone. Which one are you?

It is out now, and let’s be honest, it is the PERFECT stocking filler…

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The Baskerville Legacy goes on the road

Well, after that spate of ridiculously summery weather, things seems to be reverting to type and autumn is setting in. It’s that time of year when you want to cosy in with a great, atmospheric read – none of that whimsy you’ve been reading over the summer. It just so happens that John O’Connell has written just the thing (fancy that!). Based on real events, The Baskerville Legacy is a real creeper of a novel that brings to life the much-debated story of the writing of The Hounds of the Baskervilles. Did Conan-Doyle really author the book or was it stolen from its inventor, Bertram Fletcher Robinson? Set on Dartmoor, it is not a tale to be read late at night…

AND for all you Sherlock Holmes fans, John O’Connell will be talking at Clapham Waterstones on Oct 20th. He is fascinating to listen to on the subject and there will no doubt be plenty of debate as to what really did happen between Conan-Doyle and Fletcher-Robinson…