November 2014 Newsletter

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November's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello and how are you?

November 17-21 was Anti-Bullying week here in the UK. And we were really happy to see the world of books get involved. Penguin launched a campaign called Choose Kind that ties in with the gorgeous Wonder by R J Palacio, a book about a disfigured young boy attending school for the first time. We at Bookbag are all for anything that tries to inspire all people to be a little bit kinder to each other and so we'd like to add our voice to the chorus asking everyone to #choosekind.

We've been busy choosing our favourite books of 2014. You should take a look and see if you agree! There's something for everyone there - what do you think of our choices in crime fiction or teen fiction or autobiographies ? There are plenty more lists in other genres, too. Take a look at our lists page. You might find it helpful when you're doing your Christmas shopping. It's not too early to say the dreaded word "Christmas", is it?!

If you're a parent or a teacher of children with dyslexia or reading difficulties, you might want to take a look at Dive In: A Guide to Choosing Children’s Books for Reluctant Readers and Readers With Dyslexia. It lists 40 different titles, all suitable for children with reading difficulties and it's a joint enterprise from publisher Barrington Stoke and charity Dyslexia Action. It's fabulous and it's free. You can read all about it here.

And lastly, here's a lovely piece of literary news. Dame Judi Dench told The Scotsman that she learns a poem a day in order to keep her mind active. How cool is that?! In that vein, here's a tiny bit of Adrian Mitchell for you:

Long live the Man
Long live the Woman
Who use both courage and compassion
Long live their children

Ahhh. We feel better now!

Golden Hour

Let's have some more poetry for our blast from the past this month. Nonsense Limericks by Edward Lear may not be the most serious verse you'll ever read, but you won't have any problems memorising them! Only in Lear do you get people getting stoned, cooking mice for dinner and entrapping their wife in a box and have both children and their adults enjoy the prospect. Reading all these funny limericks again only reinforces how much they've stood the test of time. So thank you, Faber, for reminding us with a lovely new edition.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Jill fell in love with The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet, a satire on fantasy fiction, fame and celebrity culture, the publishing industry and we don't know what else. It's utterly fabulous, not least because there is a deep affection for fantasy, even as it's being mocked. You'll need a healthy degree of snark to take the most from this wonderful story. But Jill thought it was a little piece of genius. Luke loved Descent by Ken MacLeod. In the relatively near future, two schoolboys climb a hill near their small Scottish town. They encounter some sort of craft, that emits a white light and knocks the boys out for several hours. It's only later that one of the boys, Ryan, realises he was abducted by aliens. Clever, funny, captivating and predicting a very possible sounding future, Descent is a fantastic read - not just a great science fiction novel, but a great work of storytelling that would appeal to both those who love the genre, and those less inclined to it.

In non-fiction, and for all you budding authors out there, Sue loved The Ultimate Guide to Writing and Marketing a Bestselling Book - on a Shoestring Budget by Dee Blick. If you've got the idea for a book then you need this book to turn it into reality. Dee's a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and really knows what she's talking about. Sue would like to point out that she made a small contribution to the book, but has no financial interest in its success and felt it was an honour to be included. Also, Rebecca recommends A Tour of Bones: Facing Fear and Looking for Life by Denise Inge. Facing a basement full of bones and later a diagnosis of inoperable sarcoma, Inge toured some of Europe's notable charnel houses, pondering what remains of us after life and how to approach death with humility and awe. It's a splendid memento mori.

For the little ones, Sam fell in love with Robert Crowther's Pop up Dinosaur Alphabet by Robert Crowther. ABC books could stand for A Boring Concept, but you might want to wait until you find out what the D is before making a decision. In this case D stands for Dinosaurs and there is nothing boring about them. There is also nothing boring about pop-ups. The two together may just join up to make something pretty special. Use this book to learn your basic alphabet and gain the some pretty intellectual knowledge on dinosaurs; from Allosaurus to Zapalasaurus. For the dinosaur-mad child, this is a fabulous book.


As we said above, we've been choosing our favourite books of the year and there are loads of feature lists for you to look at. We've also been out and about interviewing authors.Jill thought that The Green Door was an absorbing,evocative and truly enjoyable read. She had a few questions for author Christopher Bowden when he popped into Bookbag Towers. Christopher did a little cheat with his desert island book! He chose a single title, but it comes in twelve volumes!

Sue enjoyed Black Greek Coffee, a series of short stories which look at the darker side of Greek domestic life and couldn't wait to chat to author Konstantina when she called round. She talks about the lives of women, language and writing. And we loved the Greek saying she lives by: When there’s health, everything else is attainable.


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

What were we reading last year?

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