January 2014 Newsletter

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January's News from Bookbag Towers


Everyone at Bookbag Towers wishes you the best 2014 you could possibly imagine. Health, wealth, happiness to you, and, of course, a good book or two. We wanted to offer a wee thank you for reading our ramblings every month and so we have instituted a monthly prize draw for all newsletter subscribers. If you are our first lucky winner, congratulations! You'll find an Amazon voucher winging its way to you very soon.

As it's the start of a brand new year, we hope you won't mind too much if we include a gentle plug for our favourite people at English Pen. They work tirelessly to defend and promote free expression, and to remove barriers to literature. The freedom to write and the freedom to read are vital freedoms and we hope you'll take the time to have a look at their work.

Golden Hour

Our blast from the past this month is 1993's Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle, which won the Booker that year. It's a wonderfully written and captivating story that exposes the mind of a ten-year-old boy in a way no ten year old could and a piece of real life in a compelling little chunk. If you haven't read it already, you should get on and read it soon.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Ani recommends The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay, a sad but beautifully told tale about the struggle to carry on when something crucial to existence has been removed. Simultaneously philosophical and accessible, it will appeal equally to those of us who like to mull and those of us who are here for a good story. Ani also loved The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, a superlative piece of historical fiction based on a true story as two sisters fight against slavery and disenfranchisement. Bold, poignant and ultimately uplifting, Sue Monk Kidd's standards certainly haven't dropped; this may be even better than The Secret Lives of Bees.

In non-fiction, John has a book for history buffs. Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives!: A World without World War I by Richard Ned Lebow isa counterfactual or alternative history of the twentieth century which visualises how it might have been if Archduke Franz Ferdinand had not been assassinated at Sarajevo in 1914. It's a stimulating read and, at around 230 pages, just the right length not to outstay its welcome

For teens, Jill is recommending Running Girl by Simon Mason, a fabulous, intricate whodunnit featuring an uptight Sikh detective and an underperforming genius schoolboy. It has an easy style that wears its quality lightly and comes highly recommended by us. For tweens, Jill also loved The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis, a beautiful story about belief, grief and forgiveness with a great many questions and a little bit of magic realism. The writing is top notch.


We've the utmost admiration for indie authors who go it alone in what's a very tough market and each year we pick the ten self-published books which stood out for us. Take a look at our 2013 list. You might be surprised at the quality of what you find.

Sue loved The Engagements by J Courtney Sullivan and she was fascinated when the author popped into Bookbag Towers to tell us all about eavesdropping. You might think it's a bad habit. She thinks it's research!

Interviews abound this January. Jill thought that Time Trap by Richard Smith was a riproaring adventure and loved the real locations and the book's interactive website. She had quite a few questions when the author popped into Bookbag Towers. Skulk by Rosie Best was a wonderful urban fantasy with an outstanding heroine and an excellent plot. Robert was delighted when Rosie answered his questions. Robert also chatted to Matthew Crow about his life-affirming novel In Bloom. Both Jill and Robert were impressed by Love in Revolution by B R Collins but it was Robert who won the battle to ask the questions when the author agreed to a chat.

Sue was slightly unnerved by the prospect of interviewing an author whose protagonist interviews himself (after allowing a suitable time lapse between preparing the questions and answering them) in The Currency of Paper, but the opportunity to chat to Alex Kovacs was not one to miss. Sue also had a lovely time reading Dom Conlon's I Am A Giant and Tommy Tickletail: A Tall Tale and she was eager to chat to the author when he called by.


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.

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