July 2015 Newsletter
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July's News from Bookbag Towers
How are you all doing with the summer weather? Aside from sweltering and moaning, that is. We can allow you to swelter but not to moan about it. Sorry! Did you watch Wimbledon? As we write, the tournament is still ongoing, so our fingers are still crossed for Andy Murray, as they were for our fabulous footballing lionesses. We need to review more books about sport, we really do.
Are you looking forward to the publication of Go Set a Watchman, the To Kill a Mockingbird prequel? We certainly are. But the gossip abounds even before we get to read it. Apparently, from the eyes of an adult Scout, Atticus is a racist. The horror! The official story is that Harper Lee's lawyer was the one to discover the manuscript. But the New York Times says this isn't right and it was a Sotheby's expert who found it back in 2011. Read their report here. We do love a good literary mystery!
What else is going on? Oh yes. Fifty Shades author EJ James did a Twitter Q&A session that went hilariously wrong as she was roundly mocked by internet meanies rather than enthusiastically quizzed by fans. It's a dog eat dog world out there in social media, dontchaknow. And speaking of the romance and erotica genres, Scribd has cut them from its online catalogue because... people read too many of them and it can't make money on its unlimited reading offer by including them. So don't worry, EJ James, there's hope. Even if people are rotten to you on Twitter.
Also, as if you didn't know, the fantasy world is still waiting on George RR Martin to get his mojo on. No change there then!
Otherwise, happy reading. Hopefully, one or more of our summer recommendations below will ignite your interest.
This week, we are looking back to Lady: My Life as a Bitch by Melvin Burgess, given a welcome reissue this month. It's a a typically nutty story from Burgess in which a homeless guy has the magical power to change humans into canines - as central character Sandra finds out to her cost. It's funny and brutally honest and totally free from lecture or hector. Who could knock a book whose sneakily clever central conceit is that a naughty, slightly promiscuous teen girl actually gets turned into a dog rather than simply getting called one?!
Books of the Month
And on to to the new... . In fiction, Louise loved Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase. At Black Rabbit Hall, time goes syrupy slow. None of the clocks work properly, but an hour at Black Rabbit is said to last twice as long as a London one, and you don't get a quarter of the things done. It's a fabulous story, in which a young family is struck by a terrible tragedy, but everyone has different ways of coping. Masterfully realised by Chase, this is one of those books that demands complete attention and lingers in your mind for days after finishing the last page.
In non-fiction, we have an unusual offering for you this month. Worrying: A Literary and Cultural History by Francis O'Gorman begins with a familiar scene for anyone who experiences that persistent feeling of fretful panic: lying awake in the early hours, unable to switch off, thoughts turning over in your head. It is, as it says on the tin, about worrying. A slim and original meditation on a feeling that everyone experiences, borrowing from academic histories and confessional memoirs, it makes for an unconventional read, and is well worth choosing over the more traditional 'self-help' titles.
For teens, the great news is that there is A NEW JENNY VALENTINE BOOK! Hooray! Fire Colour One is the beautiful story of a girl reuniting with her father who is terminally ill. The book is really divided into those who love art and those who don't. And, one way or another, it's art that either saves or condemns each of them. If you like great writing, razor sharp observation and truly human stories with a goodly dollop of eccentricity - we do! - you'll love this story.
Jill thinks slightly younger readers, especially the history buffs, will enjoy Dead End Kids: Heroes of the Blitz by Bernard Ashley. Based on a true story, it follows a group of East End children helping to fight fires caused by incendiary bombs during the Blitz. Interesting absorbing and impactful, it sheds light on a group of young heroes who should be better known than they are. We should all commemorate the Dead End Kids.
We've had our reporters pads out again this month. Sue thought that The Independent Director: The Non-Executive Director's Guide to Effective Board Presence was fascinating and certain to become the go-to book for anyone thinking about taking on an independent directorship. There were quite a few questions she wanted to ask when author Gerry brown popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Ani was impressed when she read John Piper's Hibernia Unanimis The book is an alternative history novel with some interesting extrapolations making it uncannily topical regarding the current European/Greek impasse. Ani and the author had a super chat about it all when he called by.
When she read Two Lives Rebecca thought that author Sarah Bourne was definitely going to be one to follow. They had a lot to chat about when Sarah came to see us. Sarah thinks imagining her readers is a terrifying thought! We don't think she has anything to worry about.
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.
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