September 2016 Newsletter
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September's News from Bookbag Towers
Hi, hello and how are you all, dear readers?
Here's some cool news to start us off this month - an innovative new monthly print magazine for 8-12 year-olds is about to launch. Scoop will offer an inspiring mix of short stories, poetry, non-fiction features, comic strips and activities. It will feature some of the very best creators of literary and visual content for children - think Neil Gaiman, Eoin Colfer and Laura Dockrill, just for starters. Not least, Scoop is for children who will be thrilled to receive their very own magazine in the post, addressed only to them. We love the sound of Scoop. It reminds Jill of the Puffin Post, to which she enthusiastically subscribed as a child. If you have a child who loves to read, you should look it out.
Ok, this bit of news is only tangentially book-related, but we like it. The 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London is being commemorated with a set of six new stamps. The stamps are designed by comic book artist John Higgins, who has used a graphic novel style of illustration.You can see them here and we think they are very cool indeed. We're not philatelists here at Bookbag, but we might just buy ourselves a set of these. Because they're great!
We're not sure how we feel about this one. Three new Harry Potter e-books are to be released. What do you think? Are you cheering for more Potter? Or do you think we are reaching the point of flogging a dead horse? Fans love new material, of course, but they also often feel almost obligated to be completist. It's a conundrum. If we're honest, we prefer to look for something new that will engage and inspire the next generation of readers. But happy reading to all Potterheads!
Apparently, romantic publisher Mills & Boon is planning a series of spoof books along the lines of Ladybird humorous nostalgia series. Again, we are not sure what to make of this! Are these actual spoofs? Or will we find ourselves involved in endless meta-level arguments about whether or not this series provides vital advice every woman needs to survive the modern world or is really just more of the same old, same old? Hmmm. What do you think?
The subject of our reach back into the archive this month is Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell. First published for World Book Day in 2008, Bloomsbury have given us a new edition for 2016. Odd, our limping, smiling hero, meets the Frost Giants in a fabulous adventure rooted in Norse mythology. Gaiman's witty prose, Riddell's beautiful and detailed illustrations, and fantastic production values for this new edition all combine to create a magical little keeper of a story. It's meant for children but the grown-ups will love it, too. You should read it.
Books of the Month
And on to to the new... . In fiction, Sue fell in love with Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst, the story of how a family with an autistic child move to a camp in New Hampshire in the hope of building a better life for them all. The ending is startling and it's only when you've finished the book that you look back and realise how everything was working up to that moment. It's excellent, compelling writing and storytelling at its best. This one comes highly recommended.
In non-fiction, Andy was deeply impressed by Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain by Kate Harrad, a timely, long overdue and thought-provoking insight into bisexuality in Britain today. A must read for all bisexuals, but for the general reader it highlights the misconceptions and prejudice that bisexuals have to face on a daily basis. It is an important book. Its publication may be a watershed moment for the bisexual community in Britain. It is ambitious in its scope, and brave in its approach, but what makes it truly important is that it is a beacon for bisexuals.
For teens, Jill suggests I'll Be Home For Christmas by Benjamin Zephaniah and Others. Publisher Little Tiger and homelessness charity Crisis have got together and produced I'll Be Home For Christmas - an anthology of short stories from some of the most popular writers on the UK YA scene. The stories are connected by the theme of home. £1 from the sale of each copy of I'll Be Home For Christmas will go to the Crisis at Christmas appeal. So if you can think of anyone who might enjoy these wonderful short stories and who might also get an extra bit of good feeling from the good the sales of this book will do, buy them a copy, ok?
For the little ones, Sue recommends Welcome by Barroux, a non-preachy but very perceptive look at the problems which migrants face. Four polar bears find themselves adrift on the ocean on an ice floe. Which island they come to will take them in? This might look like a picture book. It might look as though it's only for children but there's a message in there that we should all take to heart.
We have been out and about interviewing authors for you over the course of the month. It's not long since Jill enjoyed Christopher Bowden's novel The Green Door, so she was delighted when she had the opportunity to read his latest book The Purple Shadow.Christopher had some interesting things to say when he called round to Bookbag Towers.
Ani enjoyed Words of Power, the first volume of a new samurai fantasy series by Ritchie Valentine Smith. She had plenty of questions for the author when he popped in to see us. Ritchie will be at Fantasycon this month, so if you are a fan of fantasy, you might just see him there.
Jill thought that Gliding With Black Swans by S B Charles was a roller coaster of a thriller and she couldn't wait to chat to author S B Charles.He expands on the trenchant views about religious tribalism that he explored in his book and offers the tantalising prospect of a prequel, covering the period in which his imagined Britain became the rationalist state known as the UIA.
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 .
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