November 2013 Newsletter

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November's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello and how the devil are you?

Did you know that 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the Crime Writers' Association? To celebrate, they held a poll to find the greatest crime writer, crime series and crime novel. The fantabulous Agatha Christie topped the ratings for greatest writer with her novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as the greatest novel. Sherlock Holmes was the greatest series. No surprises then, but it shows how much Christie and Conan Doyle are a part of our national pride and discourse.

But if you're looking for new things, Amazon have launched a literary journal. [One] will contain a short story and poem each week, plus some words from its editor. There will also be the odd interview and each cover will be especially commissioned from different literary illustrators. It all looks jolly exciting - but we are wondering whether or not they'll be able to keep up the quality on a weekly schedule. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out!

We know it's still November. We know that you'll groan when we say that word. Sorry. But Christmas - and the requisite shopping is coming up. Books make great gifts and if you're looking to do some early shopping, then we can help with that right now. We've chosen our best of the best books that will make wonderful Christmas gifts. There's something for every taste there. You could also take a look at our lists category and you'll find our best picks for just about any kind of reader. For example, we've chosen the best of 2013's crime novels, fantasy novels, and teen novels. There's loads more so if you are stuck for ideas, do have a look.

Golden Hour

This month, we are highlighting The Iron Man by Ted Hughes as our trip into the past. We love this children's sci-fi fairytale. The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff. How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where had he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows. Certainly deserving the name classic, this dramatic yet eerie oddity is well worth a revisit and happily, Faber Classics have given it a beautiful 45th anniversary edition, out this month.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new...

In fiction, Lesley loved The Year of Miracle and Grief by Leonid Borodin. A twelve-year-old newcomer to the shores of Lake Baikal explores the notorious Dead Man's Crag and there discovers the secret of the mountain that looks like a ruined castle. This is a magical tale of hurt and love laced with the remote wonder of Siberia.

In fiction too, Ani fell hard for The Purchase by Linda Spalding, the haunting story of an early American Quaker family. If you're looking for a memorably beautiful novel that makes you get up in the middle of the night to read more (yes, Ani did), go no further. Linda Spalding seems to be writing with you in mind.

In non-fiction, John recommends Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore by Lance Parkin, a biography of perhaps the greatest ever writer of graphic novels. Compelling in its level of detail, this book shows us why Alan Moore is held in such high esteem – and deserves nothing less itself.

For teens, John was mightily impressed by Close Your Pretty Eyes by Sally Nicholls. A precocious, damaged girl faces a haunting from something even more 'evil' than she has been led to see herself as, in this flawless, gripping, teen horror. Read it even if you're older - you get two stories in one and a lot more besides.

For the little ones, Zoe loved The Sad Story of Veronica Who Played The Violin by David McKee. A hoot and a half, this story of a sassy little girl by the name of Veronica is bound to be a hit. It's super funny in a rather naughty way and it particularly lends itself to reading in a group.


Of course, we also have interviews for you this month. Sue was completely captivated by The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas and there was quite a lot to talk about when she and Stephanie chatted. Her book was a labour of love that lasted seven years!

Jill learned a great deal about Danes, about Americans and about herself when she read A Piece of Danish Happiness. She had quite a few things to discuss with author Sharmi Albrechtsen when she popped in to Bookbag Towers. Sue thought that Speaking of Love was one of the most compelling pictures of mental illness which she'd read. There was quite a lot to talk about when author Angela Young came along to chat to us.

Sue also thought that Canton Elegy: A Father's Letter of Sacrifice, Survival and Love by Stephen Jin-Nom Lee and Howard Webster was compelling and life-affirming reading. She had quite a few questions for co-author Howard Webster. Robert felt that Julie Berry's exploration of the story of a voiceless girl was worth reading. He had quite a few points to raise when they talked.

Robert was impressed when he read The Gravity Between Us and delighted when author Kristen Zimmer popped in for an interview. Jill thought that The House by Sebastiana Randone was genre busting and she had quite a few questions for the author when they chatted.


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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