September 2011 Newsletter

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September's News from Bookbag Towers

Hello, hello, hello!

The Booker shortlist is out. We've reviewed them all, so if you've missed any, now's your chance to catch up. We think it's too close to call the eventual winner. What do you think?

You might not have heard of Michael S Hart, who died aged only 64 earlier this month. But we think everyone should know about him. He created the first ebooks way back in 1971 when he founded Project Gutenberg, the world's oldest digital library. At the time of his death, Project Gutenberg had more than 36,000 items in its collection, making cultural works free and accessible to all. We owe him thanks. He'll be missed. If you've never looked at Project Gutenberg before, why not go there today?

Golden Hour

We're going back to 1994 this month, with a book that won the Guardian Children's Fiction prize. Maphead by Lesley Howarth is the lovely story of a boy from a parallel world returning to make contact with his human mother. Funny characters and universal emotions make it a tremendously appealing rite of passage novel. It's unconventional, funny and sweet. Happily, it was recently reissued by Catnip for a whole new generation of children who like imaginative fiction.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Louise loved The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Although this book is about the Trojan War the first half concentrates on the growing relationship between the half-god Achilles and a disgraced young prince. In refreshing, modern prose it makes the subject matter very reader-friendly indeed. It's a terrific novel. Miller's style (uncomplicated) and her language (modern) is a winner. The book definitely deserves a wide readership.

In non-fiction, John has chosen Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan by D R Thorpe, a very full, all-embracing biography, the fruit of over thirty years of research, of the man who was Prime Minister for six years. With over 600 pages of text, plus extensive notes and bibliography, it is anything but a light read. But it is an enthralling one, and anybody with more than a passing interest in politics and 20th century history will find this it extremely rewarding and even entertaining. Thorpe's style is very readable throughout, and this book is certainly not as 'heavy' as its ample physical appearance might suggest.

For teens, Jill waxed lyrical about Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry. This follow-up to Rot & Ruin is as bad-ass as the first. Benny Imura and his friends set out to cross the zombie-infested wasteland in search of the jet they saw. Violent, exciting, and heartbreaking, fans of the first book should prepare for a rollercoaster of a read.

For the littlest of little ones, Jo has chosen Nora: The Girl Who Ate and Ate and Ate by Andrew Weale and Ben Cort. It is often quite difficult to get young children to eat all their meals up. However, Nora Fatima Buffet's mummy does not have that problem because Nora just cannot seem to stop eating. She always cleans her plate but the eating does not stop there. In this lovely cautionary story we find out what happens when Nora eats far too much and has to pay the consequences!


If Alan Titchmarsh is a Yorkshireman, what's he doing living in Hampshire? Find out why in our interview. Alan writes his novels in between making television series. What a wonderful life! We managed to catch him for a chat on the day that his latest book was published.

We've also been talking to Martin King about his debut novel Jack Hunter - Secret of the King. It's a lively story with plenty of twists and turns and good characterisation. It was inspired by a visit to a friend's grandfather more than thirty years ago, would you believe!

We also had a good chat with Hayley Long about her Lottie Biggs books. They're funny but realistic teen novels with some serious underlying messages. Hayley has great taste: she's a fan of Gavin & Stacey, Shirley Bassey and Cerys Matthews, amongst others. She's called her pet rabbit Irma, which we think is an interesting choice! She's an entertaining lady, so don't miss the interview.


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

All at Bookbag Towers

See what we were doing last year

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