November 2010 Newsletter

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November's News from Bookbag Towers

Hello! It's that time of year. You know the one. The obsessive time during which you simply cannot find a space free of festive features. The time of relentless commercialism disguising the season's real message of goodwill to all men. We're not sure where one finds all this goodwill amongst the adverts, are you? Or is that too cynical? There is goodwill, of course, but it does tend to get buried under the flurries of suggestions for things to buy. Well, Bookbag's no different. We have produced our very own list of Christmas - there, we said it - purchase suggestions. Sorry! But we think you'll like it. Books don't break the bank and they make great gifts, expanding horizons and opening new worlds for those who receive them. So we don't feel too badly about joining the throng. If you're stuck for a present, take a look at our Christmas gifts recommendations. You'll find something there for just about anyone, no matter how tricky they are to buy for.

Kindles have been occupying us this month. We bought some! And, by and large, the verdict is positive. You can find out what we think here. Do you own a Kindle? Another e-reader? What do you think? We'd love to know, so please do visit the page and leave your thoughts in the comments section. We truly believe there's great potential here, but are publishers making the most of it?

We hope you enjoy a wonderful festive season, books or no books. We'll be too busy Kindling to write to you again in December, so see you at the end of January. Have fun!


Jill chose her favourite teen books of the year. It's a diverse list, ranging from hard sci-fi through apocalyptic and historical fantasy right through to the harsh realities of life as a dumpsite boy in a developing country. Did she get it right? Would you have chosen differently? Have a look!

We've also been chatting to several authors this month. We've always enjoyed science writer Marcus Chown's work, from Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You to his children's book Felicity Frobisher and the Three-headed Aldebaran Dust Devil. After devouring We Need To Talk About Kelvin, we leapt at the opportunity to ask Marcus some questions.

We also talked to Mary E Martin about her book The Drawing Lesson. We really wanted to know how she creates such memorable characters and so our chat was illuminating indeed.

You'll like H A Goodman, whose book Logic of Demons is a helterskelter ride through the afterlife that asks the reader to think about the consequences - intended and unintended - of their actions. It's a highly imaginative, sometimes touching, story, told with great pace and enthusiasm. He's a fascinating chap, too!

Golden Hour

This month, we turn to some of Britain's earliest environmentalists: The Wombles. First published in 1968, Elisabeth Beresford's books about those charming recyclers could have been written yesterday and are right on message for current times, featuring loveable characters whose mischievous adventures make great bed time reading (and kids will enjoy them too!) Happily, Bloomsbury's reissue is out this month.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new...

In fiction, Sue fell in love with Hand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones. A woman leaves Tunis for Europe as an illegal immigrant on her way to Berlin to find her son who has been abducted. Whenever we read Lloyd Jones we wonder quite how he can produce such complex characters and a detailed plot in so few words. Main character Ines is a heroine for our modern world.

Who said the literary biography is losing ground? We don't think so. In non-fiction, John was mightily impressed by Tolstoy: A Russian Life by Rosamund Bartlett. It's a full and satisfying biography of the Russian aristocrat and novelist, author of War and Peace, who became a fervent Christian anarchist. It also paints a wonderful complimentary picture of Russia, a nation going through great changes in which he lived and worked.

We think it's about time the redoubtable Andy Stanton got a mention hereabouts and so our children's choice for November is Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout . Despite a couple of minor misfires recently, the series is really back on track here. The scenario is absurd, the characters stupid when needed to be, heroic when needed to be, and - in the case of Surprising Ben - surprisingly surprising. This is the only series you can turn to for such effortless wordplay, such inventive and intelligent wackiness, and so many returning in-jokes.


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

What were we reading last year?

All at Bookbag Towers

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