February 2009 Newsletter

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February's News from Bookbag Towers

Before we begin, if there's anything you'd like to tell us, or anything you think we've left out, please drop us a line and let us know.

Hello! It snowed! Thank heavens that's over - it sends Brits into a complete tizzy, doesn't it, that white stuff? You'd think we'd all be happy sledging and building snowmen and making the most of an event that comes just once every other decade. But oh no, we moan about the roads, the trains, the schools and the hospitals. We demand snow ploughs in plenty - but we only moaned about the cost of our council tax last week. We're never happy. Bookbag built a snowman. Bookbag went sledging. And Bookbag spent the rest of the snowy days reading books you might enjoy. Our round-up follows.

Our new features area is building up nicely. This month you can read interviews with children's writers Lisa Clark and Gillian Philip, and science writer Michael Brooks. You can also check out the winner and shortlist for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2009 - Bookbag, though, liked them, but didn't rave, so you can also check out our top tens for unforgettable children's books.

But enough of my rambling! Here's our round-up of the best of this month's books...

What we've been reading...

In fiction, Sue loved The Dog by Kerstin Ekman, a classic story of the development of a bond between a man and a wild dog - beautifully told with no sentimentality. John thinks you should read Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel, a slightly convoluted but brilliantly absorbing story of the horrors of World War II and the years afterward in a secluded French village. Ruth heartily recommends The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig, exquisitely written and breathlessly paced, it's a classic piece of literature from a master story-teller. Trish thinks book groups should look at The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles, which is a well-researched and engrossing read.

In non-fiction, Paul fell in love with Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire: A Confidential Report by Iain Sinclair, a dizzying, perplexing yet endlessly fascinating portrait of people and of place. For the cooks amongst you, Sue recommends Bread: River Cottage Handbook No 3 by Daniel Stevens. It's the perfect introduction - and beyond - to making your own bread. Say goodbye to some of the dreadful stuff that you find in the supermarkets. And we couldn't leave this month without a nod to certain anniversary celebrations - Ruth thinks you should read Darwin: A Life in Science by John Gribbin and Michael White, a straightforward account of Darwin's life, happily free from psychological speculation.

In children's books, and for the little ones, Keith is raving about Don't Read This Book! by Jill Lewis and Deborah Allwright. We also have an interview with Jill Lewis for the grown ups to enjoy. For the older ones, John recommends Malice by Chris Wooding, a joyfully dark adventure, and spot on for the young graphic novel generation. Jill loved Shadow Bringer by David Calcutt, a lovely piece of magic realism in which the supernatural element is a metaphor for coming to terms with loss, family crisis and growing up. Teenagers shouldn't miss Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd, a heartbreaking road trip novel with an unforgettable central character. Moments of intense pathos combine with humour to create a book of tremendous quality.

Reviewers

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!

Competitions

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.

All at Bookbag Towers

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