July 2013 Newsletter

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July's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello, how are you?

We have exciting news! Bookbag reviewer Robin Stevens has signed a deal with Random House for three books about a children's detective agency. Hooray! Robin has a day job working for Orion Children's Books. She writes reviews for us and an interesting blog. And she writes novels too! What a woman. Where does she find the time? Seriously - congratulations to Robin. The deal is richly deserved.

We've also gone and got ourselves a new mobile version of thebookbag.co.uk. Take a look on your smartphone. Or, you can check it out on the mainline web by clicking the mobile view link in the footer on any page of the site. We like it. And we hope you do, too.

And the lovely A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton has won the Branford Boase award! Hooray! It was also shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2012 and the The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013. We love this sweet fable about friendship and trials with some lovely interactions between boy and bear and absolutely gorgeous illustrations, so we're very happy with this news.

Golden Hour

In tribute to the late, more-than-great Iain Banks, our Golden Hour selection this month is The Wasp Factory - his first published book. It's gruesome and grotesque, funny and sceptical, and utterly, utterly wonderful. We'll miss Mr Banks. Muchly.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Ani loved The Trader of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks, a touching, sometimes brutal slice of life from the Saigon that remained when the war correspondents went home. It's authentic, beautiful and highly accomplished and all novels should aspire to be this good. We also fell in love with Rituals by Cees Nooteboom, in which directionless Inni confronts the mysteries of the universe in the Amsterdam of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Every word, every clause, every phrase and every paragraph is exquisitely crafted.

In non-fiction, Louse recommends The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida and David Mitchell. It's a very special book about autism, written by a teenager who suffers from the condition. Read it and enter Naoki's world. It will be a privilege, we promise.

For teens, Jill is raving about Carnaby by Cate Sampson, a fantastic, intense crime thriller with an unreliable narrator. It's about more than murder: it's about failing families, social class, drugs, sex abuse, failing interventions, fear, grief and loneliness. It's an electric read and a fantastic YA debut. Don't miss this one!

And for the little ones, Margaret loved Robot Rumpus by Sean Taylor and Ross Collins. With a team full of the newest, latest, and most advanced robots to mind the house and the child - the parents in this story leave home asking What could possibly go wrong? In one word: everything! Robot Rumpus is an absolute riot of fun, that left her children giggling until they had tears in their eyes.


We have some interesting author features for you this month. Jill was mightily impressed by Dan Smith's debut novel for young people, My Friend the Enemy and loved Dan's YouTube videos about it. You should go and watch them. Dan told us all about the making of his Paper Movies.

Robert was blown away when he read You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett and they got chatting about books Sophia read when she was a teenager. Sophie was nice enough to round it all up into a really interesting article. There are some surprises in there!

We've been out and about, brandishing our reporter's pads for interviews, too. Robert thought that The 5th Wave was tough, brutal and completely gripping and he was delighted when author Rick Yancey agreed to a chat. Robert also thought that One Seriously Messed-Up Weekend: In the Otherwise Un-Messed-Up Life of Jack Samsonite by Tom Clempson was rude and crude, but seriously funny and recommended reading - as long as you're not on public transport! Tom explains all in his interview.

Shipwrecked had brilliant charaterisation and a really interesting setting. We had a few questions when author Siobhan Curham popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us. Before she started Remember to Breathe Sue wondered if it was going to be the sort of book she would enjoy, but she loved it and had quite a few questions for author Simon Pont when he called round.


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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