November 2016 Newsletter

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November's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello and how are you all?

Everything has gone a little bit crazy in dear old Blightly of late, hasn't it? Brexit has sent us all into a spin and there is a great deal of anger about. Our hope, in this November newsletter, is to bring you - whichever side of the Brexit divide you find yourself on - some of the joy and happiness found in reading for pleasure. Reading is the best escape of all. We'll never change our minds about that here at Bookbag Towers.

Harry Potter star Emma Watson has been spreading some of the same joy and happiness around. She left copies of Maya Angelou's memoir at various locations on the London Underground for people to pick up and read. It's part of the Books on the Underground project, which we think is absolutely wonderful. If you live in London, perhaps you'd like to join in. If not, perhaps you could just leave a lovely book for someone the next time you get on a bus?

Collins Dictionary has named its ten words of the year. Predictably, Brexit is the word of the year but among the other is the Danish word hygge, which we mention in our review of the enjoyable memoir A Piece of Danish Happiness by Sharmi Albrechtsen. That was in 2013, so you can see we are ahead of the game!

There's also some news from one of literature's most enduring controversies: the Shakespeare authorship question. Did he or didn't he write them all or indeed, write them all by himself? Well, an international team of 23 academics have decided that Christopher Marlowe’s work on the plays of William Shakespeare was extensive enough that he deserves a credit in future editions of of Henry VI, Parts One, Two and Three. More notoriety for Kit!

Golden Hour

Ok, so it's not quite a blast from the past this month but we haven't featured something for children here for a while and we think Greatest Animal Stories by Michael Morpurgo (Editor) fits the bill rather nicely. Morpurgo's curated collection includes Aesop's fables, and popular fairy and folk tales including Brer Rabbit, Peter and the Wolf, Puss in Boots and stories from the Native American tradition. It's a really special collection of animal tales which would make a lovely gift for any child.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Luke loved The Dark Circle by Linda Grant. It's 1949, and with the Second World War over, a new decade of recovery is beginning. For East End teenagers Lenny and Miriam, life has been suspended. Diagnosed with tuberculosis, they are sent away to a sanatorium in Kent, to take the cure. Rich in texture and an illuminating look at a practice and period that, whilst it seems long past was only relatively recent, this book is worth your time and attention.

Lesley thinks crime fans will love Night School by Lee Child. Jack Reacher’s latest outing actually takes us back to an earlier one. It's 1996 and he’s still in the army, and on the trail of something worth a hundred million dollars. This is more of a puzzle, less of a thriller than some of the Reacher tales, but has the very same quality of writing that makes for a quick page-turner and a satisfying read.

In non-fiction, and since you'll be reading this newsletter at a time when you're probably thinking about Christmas gifts, try 1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, James Harkin and Anne Miller. It's one more entrant in the best series of trivia books, with unusual statements about the world distilled to their essence and presented in oddly linked fashion. And it's a stonker. Many of its one-liners could be used as startlingly good conversation openers. You need those conversation openers!

For teens, Olivia recommends The Diabolic by S J Kincaid. Nemesis is a Diabolic, a girl genetically engineered to bond with one specific person and whose sole purpose is to protect that one person at any cost. Bred in a pen and trained to kill, Nemesis is introduced and bonded to Sidonia Impyrean, the heir of a senator of the galactic empire. This is a futuristic sci-fi teen novel with incredibly memorable characters and an outstanding plot.

For middle-graders, Jill fell in love with The Song from Somewhere Else by A F Harrold and Levi Pinfold . If you were being stalked by the school bully and his two sidekicks, and if a kindly soul rescued you from them in the park, you'd be grateful, right? Or would you? This is a beautiful story of friendship, loyalty and bullying. An otherworldly flavour, lyrical language and evocative illustrations combine to create a truly remarkable story.


You really must head to our Features section this month because we have collated all our favourite books of 2016 into genre lists for you. There's literary fiction, sci-fi and fantasy novels, crime novels, biographies, teen books, picture books and more. Do have a look!

We've also been out there talking to authors this month and we have had some great conversations.

Jill enjoyed Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms by Gloria D Gonsalves and said that she'd be glad to read it to any child. She and the author had lots to chat about when Gloria popped into Bookbag Towers. Jill also loved The Darziods' Stone - a fast-paced teen adventure - and had a great time chatting to Richard.

For years Sue has bought mostly black clothes, because they seemed safe: Numba Pinkerton has shown her how to have a wardrobe which works and which she loves. When Numba, author of The No Black Project popped into Bookbag Towers, Sue had lots of questions she wanted to ask. Ani thought that The Road To War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture by Steven Burgauer was personal, inspiring & insightful. She had quite a few points to discuss when Steven Burgauer called round. Olivia thought that Crooked Kingdom was all that she could want from a book and more. She thoroughly enjoyed talking to Leigh.


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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