October 2016 Newsletter

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October's News from Bookbag Towers

Well, hello there, Bookbaggers. Are you enjoying some autumnal colours? Kicking through some leaves? Splashing in the odd puddle or two? If so, enjoy!

We hope you didn't miss Poetry Day. Lots happened, not least Kate Tempest live on BBC2 at prime time on a Saturday night. She was fabulous, wasn't she? If you missed it, here is the trailer for Let Them Eat Chaos, the piece she performed. The whole thing is truly wonderful.

We were really happy to see publisher Barrington Stoke get a very postive write-up in the Guardian. Barrington Stoke specialises in producing books for children with dyslexia. They take into account practical issues such as choice of font and paper, as well as adapting writing styles. They have some fabulous authors on their roll, you know, including Meg Rosof and Anthony McGowan. We've reviewed many of their titles here at Bookbag and can't praise them highly enough.

When are you going to write a real book? is the title of an article by YA author CJ Daugherty - and a question she has - depressingly - been asked more than once. She's annoyed by this and so are we at Bookbag. Why is YA fiction so regularly scoffed at and denigrated? Because some of it isn't very good? Well, some adult fiction isn't very good either. Why is it a surprise? YA fiction is just like adult fiction - some of it is literary, some of it is commercial, some of it is based on genre tropes, some of it isn't. Some of it is brilliant, some of it is average and some of it isn't very good. The same as adult fiction, right? And that there are brilliant YA books, we might add, as Daugherty does, is the reason YA is the fastest growing section of the UK fiction market. So there!

Golden Hour

Our glance into the annals this month brings us a lovely reissue. Beatle George Harrison's autobiography I Me Mine was first published in 1980. This beautifully produced volume contains a revised introduction by his widow Olivia, including brief references to their years together, a short memoir by George with supplementary notes by Beatles press officer Derek Taylor, a photograph album and over four hundred pages of George's lyrics alongside facsimiles of the handwritten originals. While there are biographies which will tell you in far greater detail about his life and career, for any admirer of his music it is a pleasure to hold and look through.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Luke recommends Holding by Graham Norton, a warm, funny and quietly moving debut from TV presenter Graham Norton, exploring the life of an Irish village in brilliant detail. Holding is packed full of Norton's trademark wit, and the years of chatting to people as a talk show host and agony aunt are put to good use in imbuing the citizens of Duneen with a huge amount of humanity. We think this one is well worth looking out.

Sue loved Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes. Sarah lives alone in an isolated farmhouse on the North Yorkshire moors: she's widowed. When she reconnects with old friend Aiden on Facebook, it's not long before they begin a sexually-charged relationship. But there's quite a bit about Aiden which Sarah can't understand: what exactly is it that Aiden does for a living? Can she trust him? This is a top-class thriller which you won't be able to put down.

In non-fiction, we have one for the gamers amongst you. If you have ever marvelled at the creative architecture designed by the talented members of the Minecraft community and been inspired to give it a go yourself, then Minecraft Exploded Builds: Medieval Fortress by Mojang AB might be the perfect book for you. It is aimed at those of us who have the ambition but lack the necessary expertise to design such stunning buildings. This book will guide you every step of the way with detailed diagrams and customisation options, allowing you be king of you own castle in no time at all. It's beautifully produced, too.

Ruth was deeply affected by Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive. Cameron and his wife, Sam, had been leading a very active, adventurous life until a dreadful, almost fatal, accident. The accident left Sam paralysed and, because of the sudden and extremely severe impact on her life she slid quickly into a very deep and dark depression. Cameron feared for his family's future, and his wife's life, until one day a small abandoned magpie chick came along, and managed to change everything. This breathtakingly beautiful and desperately moving true story will make you laugh and make you cry.

For teens, Nigethan thinks you should read Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. High school can be far from the easiest place to navigate through for a lot of teenagers, but some have a harder job than others. After the sudden death of her mother, Libby started eating and she didn't stop until she almost killed herself. Years of doctors, counsellors and psychologists, combined with determination, sweat and tears, and she is finally ready to return to school after almost five years out. It won't be easy. This is an uplifting and life-affirming story, that sends out some brilliant messages about body positivity, tolerance and self-identity.

For the younger ones happy to read alone, Jill loved There May Be a Castle by Piers Torday . Mouse and his mum and sisters are on their way to visit their grandparents. It's snowing. Mum can barely see a thing as she drives through the valley. She loses control of the car and it crashes. Mouse is thrown into the snow. But when he wakes up, there is no car and no snow, just a strange sheep called Bar (because that's the noise it makes). Heartbreaking, surprising, uplifting - Mouse's snowbound journey is one you'll remember for a long, long time. There May Be a Castle proves that stories matter.


We have some great features for you this month, as ever.

We loved Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice and it was fascinating to listen to author Natasha Farrant tell us about how she first came to discover Jane Austen. As Natasha herself says, To love the works of Jane Austen is to understand that every time you read them, they will yield up something new.

Luke was impressed when he read Set Free by Anthony Bidulka not least because he liked the characters he felt he could invest in. He had quite a few questions when the author popped into Bookbag Towers. Anthony is currently working on another suspense novel, about the loneliest man in the world, and we look forward to reading it.

Rebecca was impressed when she read Taking in Water by Pamela Johnson - she was reminded of Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea - and Johnson's writing style put her in mind of two of favourite authors, Tessa Hadley and Kate Atkinson. Rebecca had a great deal to ask Johnson and the resulting interview is super, covering moving in the wake of tragedy, the similarities between cliffs and skyscrapers, and much more.


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 www.thebookbag.co.uk .

What were we reading last year?

All at Bookbag Towers

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