May 2012 Newsletter

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May's News from Bookbag Towers

Are you reading ebooks yet? Or are you still in love with physical books? Either way, it's undeniable that ebooks are becoming more and more popular and their prevalence raises all sorts of questions about the future of publishing generally and about the best ways to market individual books. The Authors Electric group of writers has been giving this some serious thought. Recently, and to coincide with World Book Night, they organised a two-night giveaway. 15 member authors gave away 21 books via the Amazon Select promotion scheme. In all, they gave away 15,353 ebooks. And it paid off. 19 of the titles made Amazon's worldwide top 20 lists. In the UK, 8 made the top 5 and 12 made the top ten. That is some going, don't you think?!

And it's worth thinking about. In a world of ebooks, many authors are already aware that social networking is vital. Perhaps they'd also be advised to consider their own marketing - collaboratively with other authors like Authors Electric, or by themselves? It's an exciting future and we at Bookbag are fascinated to see what emerges after the dust has settled!

We also want to say a big happy 25th birthday to all the lovely people at Honno Welsh Women's Press. Honno was formed in 1986 when a group of four friends got round a kitchen table in Cardiff and determined to give Welsh women writers a voice. We've thoroughly enjoyed many of their books here at Bookbag Towers, including Not Funny Not Clever by Jo Verity, Cold Enough To Freeze Cows by Lorraine Jenkin, Cut on the Bias by Stephanie Tillotson and Flint by Margaret Redfern. Our most recent review of a Honno book is All Shall be Well, published to celebrate their 25th birthday. Check it out! Congratulations, Honno, you're doing a great job. And thanks for all the books!

Golden Hour

We're going back to 1996 for the first publication of our Golden Hour book this month. Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa by Peter Godwin is possibly the best memoir you'll ever read. You get three books for the price of one in this impeccable and non-judgemental book about life in Rhodesia and then Zimbabwe - an evocative childhood memoir, a personal story of war and the difficult job of trying to report it. It's simply outstanding.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, John suggests the ambiguous HHhH by Laurent Binet. A history book, coloured as a novel, or a brilliant biography? You decide. What's beyond question is how compelling this story and the author's approach can be. Whatever it precisely is, it's quite splendid.

In non-fiction, John has chosen a welcome paperback edition of This is Not the End of the Book; by Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carriere. Burnt books, bought, loved and never-read books, priceless and ridiculously incorrect books, the Internet and how it cannot surpass books; all and more are discussed here by two brilliantly erudite companions. Never before has so much been stuffed behind one semi-colon.

For middle readers, Linda recommends A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge. In the mysterious underground world of Caverna, skilled craftsmen create wondrous delicacies. But the people themselves are the greatest curiosity of all, because they are unable to show any natural expression whatsoever on their faces. Until, that is, the day when Neverfell arrives. For the older ones, Jill loved Bringing the Summer by Julia Green. Tender and absorbing and truthful, this story will appeal to a wide range of readers, especially the thoughtful, sensitive ones. Some will recognise Freya from an earlier book, Breathing Underwater.


Kind authors have written some fascinating articles for us this month.

Here at Bookbag we were blown away by Linda Newbery's latest book The Treasure House and we couldn't wait to hear about the inspiration behind the story. Here is her guest blog. Jon Mayhew called round to tell us all about the influences and inspirations behind The Bonehill Curse. Imagine you had your own magic lamp, just like Aladdin. Think of what you'd wish for! Barbara J Zitwer told us about meeting the ladies at the Hampstead Heath Ladies Pond in London on the day her mother died in New York and why these women, alongside her mother, were transformed into the main characters for her debut novel, The J M Barrie Ladies' Swimming Society. We loved Barbara Mitchelhill's Road to London and couldn't wait to find out more about Barbara's fascination with the smell of Tudor life.

We've also been asking some questions of our own.

We enjoyed Tony Parson's latest novel Catching the Sun and we really wanted to know more about the background to the book when Tony popped into Bookbag Towers. We were very impressed by Louisa Reid's debut novel Black Heart Blue and we had lots of questions we wanted to ask her. We also had a long chat with Elizabeth Wein about her super book Code Name Verity. We really enjoyed Dangerous Waters: Mystery, Loss and Love on the Island of Guernsey so we had plenty we wanted to talk about when author Anne Allen popped in to see us at Bookbag Towers. The Crabber Stories is a book of coming-of-age short stories set on Long Island in the nineteen-fifties - and we had plenty to talk about when Francis Bennett popped in to see us. Here at Bookbag we've always been big fans of Karen McCombie and we particularly enjoyed Life According to... Alice B. Lovely so it was a real pleasure to ask her a few questions. We also liked Dreams (Sarah Midnight Trilogy) by Daniela Sacerdoti, the start to a new teen paranormal series and had a few questions we wanted to ask the author.


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

All at Bookbag Towers

See what we were reading last year.

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