September 2013 Newsletter

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September's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi there. How is everything your way? Good, we hope. Summer is over. The children are going back to school. Jill's oldest son is heading off to university, as is Bookbag reviewer Nigethan. We hope all goes well for them both - and Jill hasn't shed a single tear at the loss of her oldest, honest!

As the evenings begin to draw in, you may be in need of some satisfying reading material. Read on for some recommendations. And don't forget that the Booker shortlist is out. Who will win? We have a sneaky feeling Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries will take it. We've reviewed the entire long list though - never let it be said we leave you wanting more!

Since we last wrote, there have been two very big losses to the world of writing. Rest in peace, Elmore Leonard, darling of Hollywood and king of crime. And rest in peace, Seamus Heaney, perhaps the greatest poet of the late twentieth century and almost certainly the most famous. We will miss you both terribly.

Do you support English PEN? We do. PEN promotes friendship and co-operation between writers. It stands up for freedom of expression and the importance of literature in promoting understanding between peoples and cultures. It also campaigns for writers who are discriminated against and imprisoned for expressing their views. If you'd like to keep up to date with what they're doing, why not sign up for their email bulletin?

Golden Hour

The golden oldie this month was an easy pick. It's 15 years since Skellig by David Almond was first published. Since then, this story of a boy, a girl and a maybe-angel has been chosen as a Times Educational Supplement Teachers' Top 100 Book. It's been adapted into a play directed by Trevor Nunn, an opera, and a film starring Tim Roth. It's sold more than 1 million copies. David Almond wrote a prequel, My Name Is Mina, which was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. And now Hodder has given it a beautiful 15th anniversary edition, clothbound and including essays, William Blake poems and a short story. It's an heirloom edition. Really.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Ani has picked out two very different books for you. In Chosen by Benedict Jacka, Alex Verus #4 has arrived showing no sign of subject fatigue. In fact once again this is the best instalment of this magical fantasy so far, as Alex the seer collides with his dark past and Benedict Jacka matures as a writer. And Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe is laugh-out-loud funny, charming and written, not only about the late 1950s, but in a way that could be from the late 1950s. The story of a civil servant and an international exhibition, it's Yes Minister meets Ealing Comedy meets Graham-Greene-lite and it works wonderfully.

In non-fiction, Sue had a firm favourite this month. The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for Your Small Business by Dee Blick is the perfect way to get to grips with what you should be doing about marketing your small business. There's no science and theory to wade through and it's completely jargon free. We've made a few changes to Bookbag after reading this book. None of them cost more than a little time and thought but we can see the benefits already. This one comes with a very high recommendation from us.

For teens, September is a great month. After much deliberation, Jill has chosen two books for you. There's The Dead Men Stood Together by Chris Priestley, a retelling of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Priestley's wonderful Gothic style. We love the poem and we loved this creepy retelling. Chris Priestley is just going from strength to strength. And there's Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma, an entirely different kind of book. It's an intense psychological thriller and heartbreaking portrait of a crisis in a boy's life. At points, it becomes so tense that you can barely breathe. Beautifully and sensitively written, this one comes highly recommended.

For the younger ones, Linda loved The Lost Gods by Francesca Simon. Freya reckons she's done her bit for the Norse gods: after all, she's already got herself almost eaten by a dragon and ripped to shreds by a giant because of them. But these gods aren't terribly good at seeing other people's point of view (or on saying thank you, for that matter). Besides, they're not asking for much this time round: they just want her to make the whole world worship them again. No big, eh? You have to read it: it's fast-moving, it's funny, it's silly and it's scary.


Here at Bookbag Towers we love books and reading and it horrifies us that many children can't share that love because they suffer from dyslexia. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the founding of Barrington Stoke, we asked managing director Mairi Kidd to tell us how it all began.

This month's interviews include Philippa Gregory, who talked to Robert about Changeling and Stormbringers. He was blown away by both and Philippa was lovely.

Sue enjoyed Out of the Clouds of Deceit despite the fact that she doesn't usaully like reading military fiction. She and author David Canning had quite a lot to chat about when he popped in to see us. Robert loved away by Drummer Girl by Bridget Tyler and it grabbed him from the first paragraph. He had quite a few questions for Bridget Tyler. Robert was also seriously impressed when he read Have a Little Faith and he jumped at the chance to ask author Candy Harper a few questions.


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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