May 2017 Newsletter

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May's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello and how the devil are you, fellow Bookbaggers?

We want to start out this month by mentioning not one, but two, good causes. Anna Boatman, along with 29 of her Hachette publishing colleagues have cycled 185 miles from London to Paris, in order to raise money for TWO amazing charities: the Literacy Trust and The PSP Association. Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is a little-known disease similar to Parkinson's that Anna's lovely Dad has been suffering with for 17 years. We think these are great charities to support and if you do too, you can contribute towards them by donating to this sterling effort. Anna's Just Giving page is here and the Hachette team's page is here. Well done, you guys. You've more cycling courage than we have!

Did you know that ebook sales have fallen for the second year in a row? Screen fatigue is getting the blame and this may be right. We think it's more likely that ebooks and ereaders are finding their natural level after an initial flurry of excitement. Bookworms will always get added pleasure from an actual, physical book, won't they? But there are times - when on holiday or travelling, for example - that ebooks are better. We don't think a death knell has sounded just yet.

The Independent came up with a list of books that will apparently make you a more well-rounded person. Hmm. To the list specifically and the list generally. Reading all by itself makes you a more well-rounded person. Choosing what to read makes you a more well-rounded person. We love a good book list here at Bookbag and our site contains an entire section dedicated to them. But we don't say they are prescriptive. We hope they form springboards for readers to explore further. And we aren't sure that we really approve of book lists that say, if only you read what we tell you to read, you will be a better person. Sorry, Independent!

And here is a much more inspirational piece about the joy of reading, written by Gracie, a ten-year-old child in Year 6, and posted by her teacher on his blog about reading for pleasure. We love what Gracie has to say, especially when she talks about the amazing light that shines out of a book into your mind. With young readers like this in the world, the future of publishing is bright!

Golden Hour

A slight cheat this month. Not a blast from the past but a new book about an old favourite. Paddington's Finest Hour by Michael Bond is the first set of new stories about our favourite bear from Peru since 2012. Paddington is back! Hooray! The seven new stories in this book are the usual delight - our favourite bear delivers some of his trademark hard stares and even goes on a TV cooking show. Each and every child should have Paddington in their life, don't you think? And it's nice to see his message of inclusion continuing over so many years.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Luke loved Little Gold by Allie Rogers. The heat is oppressive and storms are brewing in Brighton in the summer of 1982. Little Gold, a boyish girl on the brink of adolescence, is struggling with the reality of her broken family and a home descending into chaos. Her only refuge is the tree at the end of her garden. Into her fractured life steps elderly neighbour, Peggy Baxter. This is a beautifully told coming of age story set in the Brighton of the early 80's, Little Gold is a book that will strike a very precise and cleverly drawn chord with readers, in a tale which combines dark themes with an uplifting sense of hope.

And Sean recommends A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson. Agatha Christie wrote some tantalising crime thrillers back in her day, and here Andrew Wilson makes her a victim to a plot not unlike one of her own. It's all about the mystery, and it really drives the story forward. Agatha is ambushed by a strange man at the train station; she is given a proposition that confuses her and secretly intrigues her. Indeed, for this man wants her to commit a murder. It's an intense crime novel and Christie fans in particular will love it.

In non-fiction, Andy thinks you should look at The Island that Disappeared by Tom Feiling, the history of the island of Providence in the Caribbean. From its early Puritan settlers and the disasters that led many to turn to piracy, it captures the human failings that can turn hope and belief into greed and ambition. Tom Feiling writes in an easy and conversational style that draws the reader into his narrative and the arguments he proposes. His style never becomes the stiff academic text of many historical works; it is constantly fluid and accessible. It is a compelling history that in our current world we could learn so much from.

For the YA readers, Jill is raving about The Fallen Children by David Owen. Life is tough on the Midwich Estate. Kids living there don't have much hope in the future. They're already judged by their poverty, their religion, their race. Carving out a prosperous future from this inauspicious place seems like a pipe dream. But, in their various ways, Siobhan, Keisha, Maida and Morris are all trying their best - but things are about to change in even more worrying ways. Riffing on the sci-fi classic The Midwich Cuckoos, this is not only a tense and satisfying read but also a powerful voice advocating for young people, whose choices and opportunities have been restricted the most during the austerity imposed after the financial crisis.

For the little ones, Anne heartily recommends A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis and Jo Weaver. A small group of people huddle together in a tiny boat in a large sea. Strangers to each other but united by a common experience. They have each lost everything and yet each has a dream of seeking and finding refuge. They each have hope. A small hope. A moving response to the refugee crisis, this poignant story, a mixture of current events and traditional fable accompanied by beautiful illustrations, will linger long in the memory.


We have been out and about with our reporter's pads this month. Jill thought that The Grumpface by B C R Fegan and Daniela Frongia was sweet, funny and vividly illustrated. She had quite a few questions for author Bryce Fegan when he popped into Bookbag Towers. And after reading Spudboy and Chip by David Windle Jill decided that she wants a vegetable sidekick. Er... yes. There was a lot to talk about when David called round. And Sue was very impressed by The Last Train, a thriller set in Tokyo. She and author Michael Pronko had a wide-ranging chat about all sorts of topics.


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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