January 2015 Newsletter

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January's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello and a very happy New Year. May 2015 be healthy, happy and fulfilling for each and every one of you.

We have the most wonderful book story for you this month. For the last three years, an anonymous artist has been leaving sculptures made from old books in and around Edinburgh. The sculptures are absolutely beautiful: delicate, evocative, inspiring. We at Bookbag love a bit of book art. And finally, the artist has spoken in an interview with the BBC. She still doesn't say who she is, though! We love this story.

Ladybird Books is celebrating its centenary this year. Jill is old enough to have learned to read using its "keyword" system, often seen now as controversial. And she still remembers the beautiful dresses worn by Cinderella in her Ladybird version. The blue one (second night at the ball) was the prettiest, without doubt. These days, vintage Ladybird books are eagerly collected and we think they're a little piece of British literary history, whatever your position on keywords.

Golden Hour

We're going back a mere five years or so this month. Not long, but perhaps long enough? We're suggesting Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, the Booker prizewinner that has been recently adapted for the stage to rave reviews and is about to hit our TV screens with another adaptation by the BBC. A revisionist look at Henry VIII's minister, Thomas Cromwell, it's rich, absorbing and intelligent, and a beautiful, beautiful book. Why not dig into the source material before you settle down and enjoy the BBC version?

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Ani recommends The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin. The three generations of the Hayes family are salt-of-the-Earth Irish: loud, brash, cussed, argumentative, full of tenaciousness and close. Now they need every ounce as 40 year old Rabbit – Molly and Jack's daughter, Grace and Davey's sister and 12 year old Juliet's mum - is dying of cancer. Why would anyone want to read a touching, funny, life-affirming, love-affirming, well-researched, brilliantly written novel about someone dying of cancer? Ani suggests you read it and find out. (Although it's not recommended for public transport reading unless you consider snot-coated giggles a good look!)

Ani also thinks thriller lovers should read The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly, the twelfth and latest in the Charlie Parker series. Prosperous is a small town with a dark secret that pulls many in, including private investigator Charlie Parker. Unlike the others, he may survive… or not… This book offers great tension from a master thriller writer who will put you off small towns for life!

In non-fiction, John loved MOD: From Bebop to Britpop, Britain's Biggest Youth Movement by Richard Weight. Mod is arguably a rather-overused term. First of all, there is the matter of establishing a precise definition. Modernism, which was soon abbreviated for convenience, began as the working-class movement of a newly affluent nation. Once the age of immediate post-war austerity was gone, the cult of a youth keen to shake off the drab conformity of life in 1950s Britain took hold. It was more than anything else an amalgam of American music and European fashions, beginning as a popular cult and gradually becoming a mainstream culture. Weight has charted the convoluted story with a wealth of very impressive and utterly engrossing detail.

For teens, Jill loved There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake - a supernatural thriller in which truth and lies coincide over and over again. It's hard to recommend this one without spoilers but take Jill's word for it. It's fantastic!

Nigethan thinks you should read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Arnold Spirit, or Junior as he is known on the Spokane Indian Reservation where he lives, is about to face the biggest challenge of his life, fourteen years that have already seen their fair share of challenges. He knows the decision to go to the rich all-white school, in the nearby town of Reardan, is a necessary one. It means travelling twenty-two miles every day to a town where he's going to be even more of a target, even more out of place, than he already is on the rez. This is a powerful coming-of-age story, full of so much life – hope, despair, humour, grief and love - that it makes for a mesmerising read.


Jim was blown away when he read The Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley|The Last of the Spirits and he was delighted when author Chris Priestley wrote for us about A Christmas Carol and the inspiration for his super book. Is Dickens still relevant today? Chris believes he is, and so do we.

We've also been out and about in conversation with authors recently. When Sue finished reading The Ultimate Guide to Writing and Marketing a Bestselling Book on a Shoestring Budget she was enthused to write a book - until she realised that she was one of the few people who didn't have a book inside her - but there was still a lot to talk about when author Dee Blick popped into Bookbag Towers. Jill thought that Lucy was a vivid, clever story of love, art, war and missed opportunities. She and author Alan Kennedy had a really great chat about it.Sue was moved when she read God Tells the Sun to Shine: An Amazing Story of Love and Forgiveness and the ensuing conversation when author Femi Bolaji called round was very interesting.


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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