July 2011 Newsletter

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July's News from Bookbag Towers

Buongiorno! Even though Jill is not going this year, she wants you to know that she's still practising her Italian. In fact, she's practising so hard that she's even finished reading the wondrous Skellig in a language that isn't her own. We're only telling you this in our newsletter in the hopes that it will confer sufficient kudos for her to stop boasting. It's a long shot, but worth taking.

When we weren't telling Jill how great she is, we were busy adding Google +1 buttons to our review pages, so you and others can recommend books to like-minded contacts via your Google profile and their Google searches. We think this could really help people identify what books like-minded peers are buzzing about, not just at our website, or at someone else's website, but wherever you are on the web. Cool, huh? It's certainly more uplifting than wall-to-wall coverage of the News of the World scandal and the sins of the great and the good, that's for sure.

Golden Hour

This month, we are looking back to My Michael by Amos Oz. It was first published in 1972 to great acclaim and concentrates on the love between a wife (Hannah) and a husband (Michael) during the turbulent 1950s in Jerusalem. Oz's style is lyrical with plenty of poetic descriptions and the book has an almost timeless feel to it.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Louise thinks you should read In The Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda. It's based on a true story about a young boy left by his mother to fend for himself. As if that wasn't difficult enough, he's stranded in Pakistan while the rest of his family are in war-ravaged Afghanistan. The story alone is superb, add in Enaiatollah's engaging prose and this books sings on the page.

In non-fiction, Sue recommends American Caesars by Nigel Hamilton. The premise is simple: take twelve men (and unfortunately they are all men, but that's not the author's fault) who have achieved high office and look at each of them. Firstly, take a look at the road to the high office, then how they performed once they reached their goal and finally a look at their private life. Suetonius did it first when he wrote The Twelve Caesars and now Nigel Hamilton has taken the same journey with American Caesars, a remarkably in-depth look at twelve consecutive American presidents from the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, starting with Franklin D Roosevelt and finishing with George W Bush.

For teens and young adults, Jill suggests A Good Clean Edge by Vincent Caldey, a dark and very raw rite of passage story set in the 1960s and with themes of abuse, bullying and family break up. It's very classy stuff and absolutely compelling.

For the littlest of little ones, Ruth loved Wanted: The Perfect Pet by Fiona Roberton. What Henry wants most in the world, more than chips, more than a trip to the moon, is a dog. He has 27 different sorts of frogs but they, he claims, are boring. What he really, really wants is a dog, and so he decides to advertise to try and find one. It's a wonderful, funny story with bold, effective artwork.


Bouncy Bouncy Bedtime is is the bedtime picture book David Bedford has been trying to write for years. He called into Bookbag Towers recently to tell us all about the process of writing it. It was his second attempt and you'll be pleased to learn that fifty children in a Birmingham library confirmed it as a great success? How? By some jaw-breaking yawns!

Michael Brooks also came by. He wanted to tell us about JBS Haldane and the value of libraries. I wonder, does Michael know about Mr Leakey, Haldane's fictional magician? I loved Mr Leakey as a child. I didn't find him in a library - he was a pulp Puffin brought home from work by my mother - but I do agree we need libraries now as much as ever, even though we have the internet.

And Bryony Pearce popped into Bookbag Towers and told us about a few things that we hadn't spotted in Angel's Fury. We were fascinated and everybody in Bookbag Towers spent happy hours flicking through their copy of Angel's Fury and saying Look! Look...

Authors also continue to consent to a Bookbag grilling - they know we only grill lightly.

We've talked to Charlotte Frost about the work that went into writing a biography of Sir William Knighton and to Richard Byrne about his gorgeous picture book This Book Belongs To Aye-Aye by Richard Byrne. Richard loves that great double act Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake, so he's alright by us.

We were impressed by Professor John Dickie's latest book about the Italian mafias - this time looking at their history. The chance to chat to him was an offer we couldn't refuse, and In Bipolar Parent Anna Burley bravely told us about her childhood. We were delighted when she agreed to tell us a little more about the background to the book.

And last, but never least, we also chatted to Elizabeth Speller, whose super book The Return of Captain John Emmett has been selected for the Richard and Judy Summer Book Club this year.


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.

What were we reading a year ago?

All at Bookbag Towers

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