Warhorse

4 Books Nominated for the East Midlands Book Award 2016

5 July 16 words: Write Lion
Includes a powerful poetry collection, a children's story that champions stories, the winning crime novel, and an emotional wallop from Tom Preston
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Burning Books
Jess Green
£9.99 (Burning Eye Books)
Burning Books is a powerful collection of poems about an inner-city secondary school. This collection melds the political and the personal with stand-out poems such as the internet-famous Dear Mr Gove (Google it). Burning Books raises timeless questions, such as what teachers should do to tackle bullying, as well as the realities of removing non-British books like To Kill A Mockingbird from the curriculum. According to the title poem, some contemporary school libraries ban intelligent children for trivial (and snobbish) reasons, and are home to librarians who want to ban books – “Macbeth, too violent, Regeneration, too gay, Great Gatsby, too much drinking, DH Lawrence, don’t get me started.” Similar in tone to Kate Tempest’s Hold Your Own, Burning Books is a brilliantly accessible collection, so it’s ideal for poetry-phobes. It’s a passionate piece of writing and ideal for anybody who wants to learn about the stories behind the depressing headlines. Katharine Lunn

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The Princess and The Giant
Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton
£6.99 (Nosy Crow)
The only children’s book among the nominees for the EMBA, this is the delightful story of a princess who meets a giant in his natural environment: a castle up a beanstalk. Caryl Hart’s rhyming prose introduces the princess, her decidedly down-to-earth, royal parents and the grumpy, bad-tempered and noisy giant whose constant fee-fi-fo-ing is keeping the townsfolk awake. Sarah Warbuton’s illustrations are charming and full of incidental detail that will reward multiple re-readings. My favourites are the cat serving lemonade to a thirsty queen and the mouse in bowtie and tails that pops up on almost every page. Appropriately enough, considering the nomination, it’s a book about the value of a good story, and the special pleasure of reading and listening to a good bedtime story. It’s warm, amusing and comes with a free audio recording as well (available online). Robin Lewis

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A Killing Moon
Steven Dunne
£8.99 (Headline Publishing)
Steven Dunne’s latest crime novel, A Killing Moon, is a fluid, suspense-filled thriller and worthy winner of this year’s EMBA. The novel follows Dunne’s brilliant antihero, DI Damen Brook, and his team as they attempt to unravel a series of murder cases in Derby. Told through a series of interwoven split narratives, the plot line is paced to perfection, with a few red herrings thrown in for good measure. Dunne’s colourful characters are so vivid that they’re almost tangible, DI Brook in particular. The dark thriller explores a number of difficult topics from religious extremism to mental health stigma, providing an insight into how they impact each individual character’s thoughts and realities. A Killing Moon is an engrossing and provocative read that keeps you guessing whodunnit right up till the end. Helen Frear

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The Boy In The Mirror
Tom Preston
£7.99 (Valley Press)
Under a hundred pages long, but packing an emotional wallop more appropriate to a book you could wield like a brick, this slim memoir is a diary of the gruelling treatment the author went through upon being diagnosed with aggressive cancer. Aged just 21 when he was given an ‘optimistic’ survival estimate of 40%, Tom Preston renders every detail of his four-month course of intensive chemotherapy with brutally vivid honesty. The book’s second-person perspective lends it immediacy and empathy, and Preston’s eye for telling detail makes key moments lodge in the mind: seeing his father leave the hospital and sit in his car for many long minutes after a painful visit, the grating, maddening noise of a misconnected electrical socket that no one else seems to hear, the carpet of dead skin that he sheds every night after treatment. A moving, impressive book that deftly avoids the usual emotional clichés of such memoirs. Robin Lewis

Read our interview with Steve Dunne, the winner of the East Midlands Book Award 2016

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