February 2014 Newsletter

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February's News from Bookbag Towers

Hey! How are you? Guess what? We have exciting news to report!

You'll remember that we chose our top ten self-published books of last year a couple of months ago. Well, now we can share our excitement that one of them has been picked up for a traditional publishing contract. How great is that? Burden of the Desert by Justin Huggler is a story about the men, women and children in post-Saddam Iraq as well as those trying to project their voices and protect their lives. And it really is great. You can read our interview with Justin here and you can even win a copy of the book if you enter our competition. Congratualations to Justin from all at Bookbag Towers.

A couple of news articles have grabbed our notice recently. JK Rowling says that Hermione should have married Harry Potter, not Ron Weasley. No! We thought she had it right. What do you think? And author Lemony Snicket has launched a prize for librarians who face adversity. Good for him, say us. Books should never be banned.

Don't forget that you and all subscribers to our newsletter are in with a chance of winning an Amazon voucher each month. So tell your friends to sign up!

Golden Hour

We're suggesting something a little bit different for our blast from the past this month - an audiobook. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power by Robert A Caro is the first part of the ultimate - and probably unsurpassable - biography of Lyndon Johnson. It's not just a biography but a brilliantly-written slice of American history. Originally published in 1983, it is given immediacy by the fact that many of the people Caro spoke to about Johnson were still alive. This Audible audiobook is read by Grover Gardner and he makes a superb narrator, bringing out the meaning without feeling the need to allow his own personality to intrude. It's a truly worthwhile listen.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Ani thinks you should read The Undertaking by Audrey Magee. It depicts the German people and army during the last years of WWII at home and in battle, in a very close, personal way with a narrative that packs the punch of a Panzer division. The lesson is a fundamental one: it's easy for us to be subsumed in this war's jingoistic, smug victory but this story reminds us we're no different from anyone else, even the enemy.

In non-fiction, Sue recommends Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, a look at how we make decisions that reads like a good story. Even if you think you have the problem cracked this could well open up some new areas of thinking. It's very, very readable and the next time you have a decision to make - personal or business - you should be much better equipped to get it right. This one comes highly recommended.

For tweens, we have two books for you this month. Jill loved Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler, a perfectly-judged, wonderfully-observed story of coming to terms with the loss of a parent and coping with grief. It's also a funny and delightful portrait of a family that is probably different from your family, but just like it, too. Jill loved it and heartily recommends it to every single reader of 9 and up.

Linda suggests Who Framed Klaris Cliff? by Nikki Sheehan. Joseph is being pestered by the imaginary friend who really belongs to one of the kids next door. But these days having such a voice in your head is dangerous, so unless he can prove Klaris didn't do all the bad things she's being blamed for, then Joseph is for the Cosh. And that's not good at all. It's a highly original book - funny and scary and it will really make you think about the nature of imagination.

Features

We've been talking to lots of authors this month. Jill and Robert both loved A Room Full of Chocolate. Jill got to do the review, but Robert was at the front of the queue with the questions when Jane came breezing by. Linda loved Who Framed Klaris Cliff? by Nikki Sheehan but this time it was Robert who was at the front of the queue when it came to asking the questions.

Robert thought that he should have been able to give This Song Will Save Your Life a sixth star. Unfortunately he couldn't - but he could chat to author Leila Sales when she popped in to see us. Robert also thought that My Brother's Shadow was a well-written story about a young girl grieving for her older brother. He had quite a few questions for Tom Avery when he popped into Bookbag Towers.

Robert has been a busy boy this month! He was also completely blown away by The Other Typist and he was very happy to chat to author Suzanne Rindell.

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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