Kick-start your 2018 reading with stories that explore the theme of beginnings. This Issue features captivating children's books, bloody new Glasgow crime, historical podcasts, bold international fiction, young adult novels, pioneering art and more.

It's already shaping up to be a brilliant year for book lovers; let us know what you're most looking forward to reading via email or our social media.

This historical novel for teens vividly imagines the life of the woman who could have been behind Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece. When Lisa crosses paths with the great painter, his portrait of ‘Lovely Lisa’ will become his masterpiece, and her smile will capture the imagination of the world.

 Extract from Smile: The Story of the Original Mona Lisa By Mary Hoffman Published by Barrington Stoke

“Lovely Lisa,” he always called me. Of course, I was a baby then so I don’t know if I remember his words or if someone told me. But whenever I felt sad about something I hugged the words “lovely Lisa” to comfort me.

I hugged, too, the knowledge that Leonardo, the greatest artist in Italy, drew my portrait when I was little.

I was the first child born to my parents. I know now that my father’s first thought was probably, ‘A girl? Oh no! I’ll have to find a dowry if she’s to have a husband.’ But in the four golden years before my little brothers and sisters came along, I never felt that Father was disappointed in me.

And his second thought might have been, ‘At last – a living child!’ Father had lost two wives and the babies in their wombs before his third wife, my mother, made him a father. He loved me the more because of that, I’m sure.

We were not rich, but not poor either. We lived in the magnificent city of Florence – in a rented house in a rather smelly street on the south side of the river. My father insisted that our family was noble in origin and that – as a nobleman – he had no need for a job.

He owned farms outside the city and the money we lived on came from the rents that farmers paid him and the sale of wheat and animals. And as our family grew, with my three brothers and three sisters, the money had to stretch further.



David Robinson has a bloody encounter with Alan Parks, the newest writer on Glasgow’s gritty crime writing block. Robinson considers how Bloody January – set in the 1970s – adds to the already ‘crowded corner of Clydeside crime fiction’ and finds it a punchy exploration of the darker side of life in Scotland’s largest city.

Read enough crime fiction set in Glasgow and it’s an easy enough scene to imagine. Early evening in a city centre pub, probably not too far from police HQ in Stewart Street. DI Alex Morrow is comparing notes with DS William Lorimer at one table, DI Colin Anderson and DS Freddie Costello are doing the same at another, forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod and investigative journalist Rosie Gilmour are chatting about old cases at a third. The door opens and detective Harry McCoy walks in.

The others look up, because he’s a new kid on the block. They don’t know too much about him, what kind of back-story he’s...



Artful Eating with Karina Melvin click

Artful Eating with Karina Melvin

‘Lasting weight loss is not about what you eat. It’s about why and how you eat.’


Southerly Adventures click

Southerly Adventures

‘He set up a workshop in the Flores quarter and found a talent for inventing fanciful myths.’


Victoria Williamson: Writing Diverse Characters click

Victoria Williamson: Writing Diverse Characters

‘If you’re willing to see the world through the eyes of a wide range of diverse characters.’


Phoebe Anna Traquair click

Phoebe Anna Traquair

‘Her mature way of working was essentially late Pre-Raphaelite yet boldly Celtic in its colour and pattern.’


How Billy Hippo Learned To Swim click

How Billy Hippo Learned To Swim

Billy Hippo hates water. It’s too cold! Too scary! Too wet! And swimming? No thanks.


The Walrus Mutterer click

The Walrus Mutterer

‘She looked through him, but his face was that of a seal and it drew her gaze.’


Home Game: The Homeless World Cup click

Home Game: The Homeless World Cup

‘The tournament itself is only one step on the journey. It is part of the process. It is just the beginning.’


Glowglass Q&A: Cults, Porridge, Poison click

Glowglass Q&A: Cults, Porridge, Poison

‘Through the novel I say a few things about the world around me. Nobody escapes my books unscathed.’


Freethinker’s Footsteps Podcast click

Freethinker’s Footsteps Podcast

An audio exploration of the widespread political and religious conflict in Scotland in the seventeenth century.


What Inspired Zebra Crossing Soul Song? click

What Inspired Zebra Crossing Soul Song?

‘Fifteen years ago, when my son was four years old, a zebra crossing man saved his life.’


Writing On The Road click

Writing On The Road

‘You get caught in a whirlwind of fright just when you were seeking the sunshine of their love.’


Fireflies click


‘One thing we can be sure of is that, for hundreds of thousands of years, the ball of yarn has been revolving without pause.’


MacSonnetries by Petra Reid click

MacSonnetries by Petra Reid

‘The beginning, the ending, always rests on one word, one note. Love.’


HarperCollins: Archiving 200 years of Publishing and Community click

HarperCollins: Archiving 200 years of Publishing and Community

‘As an international business HarperCollins publishers spans the globe. Our beginnings too are international.’


The Road to Givenchy: The Story Behind the Story click

The Road to Givenchy: The Story Behind the Story

‘Her sisters lost their boyfriends and sweethearts in the mud and gore of France.’