January 2017 Newsletter

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January's News from Bookbag Towers

Hello, hello, hello! And a very happy New Year to you all. May 2017 bring joy and prosperity to every one of you. The world may well be heading to hell in a handcart but we hope it finds a new direction this year and, even if it doesn't, all our readers find at least the small pleasures that make life worth living come their way.

Have you seen the film of A Monster Calls? It's lovely! As lovely as the book - and we rarely say that hereabouts. The cast is super and the film balances its emotional and fantastical elements beautifully. If you haven't seen it yet, then you really should.

Here's some good news for the publishing world. Print book sales in the UK in the run-up to Christmas were the highest in ten years - to the tune of £83 million. Great stuff! Unsurprisingly, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was the best-selling volume of the year. So much for the death of print and the rise of digital. We at Bookbag Towers love our Kindles, we won't deny it, but nothing is quite as good as a "proper" book, is it?

Anyway. Let's get on with the good stuff. What do we think you could be reading this January?

Golden Hour

In this post-Brexit referendum, immigration-obsessed Britain we find ourselves, we at Bookbag agree that we need to talk about immigration. Just not in the way the Daily Express does it. A less than popular view, perhaps, but there we have it. Let's talk about immigration in the way Zadie Smith does. And let's all go back and read, or re-read, her fabulous debut novel from 2000, White Teeth, the story of wartime friends Samad, who is Bangladeshi, and Archie, a Briton. We love this warm and humorous London story and this is the conversation we'd like to have about immigration. So there.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Olivia recommends Defender by G X Todd. In a post apocalyptic world, destructive voices have entered people's minds. In three short weeks, these voices have persuaded people to kill their most loved ones and themselves resulting in significant proportions of the world's population being wiped out. Those who have survived, with voices and voiceless alike, are few and far between. An outstanding debut and a brilliant post apocalyptic novel. this one will haunt your thoughts long after the final page.

If you're in search of a good thriller to start the year, Sophie suggests The Girl Before by J P Delaney. Jane is recovering from recent trauma and needs to change her life, starting with where she lives. One Folgate Street seems like a dream come true. Ready for a big change in her life, Jane accepts the conditions of the house and moves in. However, the longer Jane lives there, the more her life starts to mimic Emma, the previous tenant who died. Suddenly, this haven doesn’t feel so safe. Addictive and compelling, this is an absolute belter of a thriller.

In non-fiction, Chris fell in love with The Vanishing Man - In Search of Velazquez by Laura Cumming. Pitching up at an auction and picking up a lost masterpiece for a pittance is the dream for most art lovers. That seemingly happy circumstance happened to bookseller John Snare at a sale in 1845 and is the centrepiece to Cumming's book. Part historical mystery, part biography of an artistic great, this fantastically entertaining book shows how great art can entrance and enthral but also has the power to destroy reputations, finances and lives.

For younger readers, John was mightily impressed by Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer and Daniel Rieley. Arthur is a young lad with a lot on his shoulders, and nearly all of it seems to come courtesy of his younger brother, Liam, who is on the autistic spectrum and whose unpredictable behaviour causes Arthur much stress. To the rescue comes MisterP. Mister P is a tall, distinguished character, oddly bearing a small suitcase that smells of fish and has a label on it stating Arthur and Liam's address. Has he possibly come to stay? That would be weird. And what is even weirder, is that Mister P is a polar bear... What can we say? It's lovely!

For teens, Jill has two books to recommend. In The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr Flora Banks has anterograde amnesia. This means that she hasn't laid down any new memories since she was ten years old and had a brain tumour removed. She's now seventeen and can remember life before the tumour but can't hold on to anything that happened after that for more than an hour or two. The book is a spectacular exploration of memory, first love and family secrets. How can you find the boy you love if the only thing you can remember is kissing him?

Then there is Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird, the deeply moving story of a Syrian family and its travails through the dreadful civil war in that country. You can always count on Elizabeth Laird to write fearlessly but with compassion and this story will give readers plenty to think about.


We've been featuring some of our favourite books from 2016. There were some fabulous and unforgettable things published last year. Just in case you missed any, you can find reminders for non-fiction and fiction if you're grown up, and, if you're not, for teens, middle graders or little ones. Enjoy browsing and tell us if we've missed anything!


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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