January 2010 Newsletter

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January's News from Bookbag Towers

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! What resolutions have you made? We're going to spend more of our time enjoying the many many wonderful books out there, and less of our time worrying about the uh... not so wonderful ones. We're just about emerging from the Christmas fug of turkey, wine and chocolate, and can't wait to get down to some serious reading.

The eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted that there was no December newsletter. This January edition is a bumper double issue - which is to say we were all utterly swamped in the run-up to Christmas here at Bookbag Towers, and something had to fall by the wayside. Apologies. Did you miss us?

We have some great features for you again this month, including an interview with Gary Blackwood. Keith fell in love with his Mysterious Messages - A History of Codes and Ciphers and couldn't resist the opportunity to ask him a few questions. We also read and loved Gary's equally excellent The Great Race.

Over November and December, our most read new review was 100 Facts About Pandas by David O'Doherty, Claudia O'Doherty and Mike Ahern, an enjoyable stocking filler with a quirky sense of humour. Did you know that All pandas are born female. They will only turn male if they get a fright within their first 48 hours of life. It is for this reason that zoos with a high female bear population often employ a panda spooker to surprise newborn girls into manhood?

What we've been reading...

In fiction, Nikki recommends A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman. It's an incredibly moving story of two strong women struggling against the ties of circumstance in troubled Sri Lanka. John lapped up Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel - a brilliantly absorbing story of the horrors of World War II and the years afterward in a secluded French village. It's a great story, finely told. Jill was blown away by Mr Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett, and not just because she got to use the word Steinbeckian in her review. It's a wonderful mix of Revenge Western, Americana and supernatural horror that blend to fantastic effect in this very successful debut novel. Robin was charmed by the beautifully poetic and courageous The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi. While tending to her comatose husband in civil war-torn Afghanistan, a wife begins to address the taboos of her society, confronting issues of female oppression and sexuality.

In non-fiction, Sue was very impressed by Chris Mullin's autobiography A View from the Foothills. Mullin was never one of the 'big beasts' of New Labour but this well-written and considered book may well prove to be the definite volume about the Blair years. The reissue of his novel A Very British Coup was very welcome too. George really enjoyed Taking the Medicine by Druin Burch - a fascinating history of pharmacology and medicine and the development of evidence based research.

In children's books, and for the little ones, Keith was enchanted by One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell. The mix of a magical story, gentle humour, appropriate primer on evolution and Chris Wormell's wonderful illustrations make for a fine addition to any young child's bookshelf. If older readers only know the Disney film, they'll lap up the original Pinocchio, which has wonderful illustrations from Sara Fanelli. Jill was awash with excellent sequels for teens, including Blade: Mixing It by Tim Bowler and The Carbon Diaries 2017 by Saci Lloyd. She also loved Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak - a gritty novella about tough lives in tough neighbourhoods at tough economic times - and WE by John Dickinson - a classy sci-fi thriller about free will, individuality, collectivism and the genetic need to reproduce.


We're always on the look out for people to join our panel of reviewers at Bookbag. We need people who understand that the reader wants to know what the reviewer thinks about the book and not just what's written on the back cover. If you think that you're one of these special people that we're looking for, we want to hear from you. You can find details of how to apply here on the site. Don't be shy!


We have competitions for some great books going this month, and every month, so get entering!

And that's about it for this month. If you're passing Bookbag Towers do pop in and see us – we're at www.thebookbag.co.uk.

All at Bookbag Towers

See what we were doing last year.

(PS – if you don't want to receive further copies of our newsletter please email us and we'll see that you're deleted from the mailing list.)