May 2015 Newsletter

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May's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello, how goes it with you? Post-election blues? Or post-election euphoria? Or simply thankful it's all over for another five years? Whichever, it's good to get back to talking about books, right? Right?!

Penguin are hoping to raise £25,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust through their Night of Infinities on 26 June. Over the past three years, millions of people around the world have connected with the story of Gus and Hazel in John Green’s life-changing The Fault in Our Stars. Night of Infinities is a a UK and Ireland wide, TFiOS-themed sleepover that will include all sorts of online fun. The Teenage Cancer Trust does remarkable work, so if you know anyone that might like to take part, do let them know.

And don't let anyone tell you that the kids of today don't read enough. They do! Fantasy author Dawn Finch is calling it a golden age for children's literature. And the sales figures say she's right. Sales of children's books rose by 11% to £349 million in 2014. £349 million! 11%! So stop panicking parents. Your children are more literary than you are! We really think this is a good news story.

On a sadder note, we'd like to take a tearful but grateful moment to say goodbye to Ruth Rendell. Thank you for the stories, Ruth. You enriched us.

Golden Hour

We've gone for a memoir for our blast from the past this month. Toast: the Story of a Boy's Hunger by Nigel Slater is the story of Nigel Slater's childhood. It will have you laughing out loud one minute and reaching for the Kleenex the next. It's sexually frank but not explicit and above all it's about food. And so it should be: Nigel is the man who taught both Sue and Jill about loving food, using quality ingredients and adapting recipes to suit them. His autobiography is a warm and wonderful read.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Zoe has found the perfect girly holiday read. The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish has two couples, one house, and a great big mystery. When something is too good to be true, maybe it is! This is an enticing summer read of juicy gossip and revelations.

For fantasy loves, Luke was impressed by Uprooted by Naomi Novik. In a village deep in Eastern Europe, the locals live a life of relative peace and happiness - knowing to always avoid the wood that borders their land, and safe in the knowledge that they are guarded by a powerful wizard - the Dragon at the cost of the ten-yearly Choosing. It's a dark fairy tale with strong characters, a plot that grips, and magic so real you could almost do the spells yourself.

In non-fiction, we've chosen something for the younger ones, just for a change. How to Write your Best Story Ever! by Christopher Edge, a fabulous and inspirational guide to fiction and narrative. It's bright and punchy and favours inspiration over hand-holding. Readers of this book could be the storytellers of the future!

For teens, Jill absolutely fell in love with Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler. Ash is under a lot of pressure. Her parents aren't getting on, she's struggling with school grades and worrying about boyfriends. And bubbling under this is a brand new identity trying to get out. This is a sensitive and illuminating story of coming out and a fabulous contribution to the diversity of YA books in the UK.

And Linda loved The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. A mysterious death, and a bizarre tree that seems to feed on lies: it will take all Faith's courage and intelligence to discover the truth behind the curious events on the island of Vane, and what, or who, killed her beloved father. This story has an eerie, unreal atmosphere and a girl determined to have agency in a male-dominated world.

For the younger ones, Ruth recommends Akimbo Adventures by Alexander McCall Smith. Akimbo lives on the edge of a game reserve in Africa, and these stories are all about his rather amazing adventures with the animals who also share his home. This is a lovely book, perfect for animal lovers, or fans of adventure, or those who just like a good story. Share the Alexander McCall Smith love with your children!


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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