January 2011 Newsletter

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January's News from Bookbag Towers

Hello! Happy New Year!

How was your Christmas? We had rather marvellous ones, helped along by our new Kindles. We're all used to this new reading experience now, and we're feeling very positive about ebooks. Although we are still miffed about them being VAT-able. Still, you can't have everything.

We also broke out the bubbly when some kindly soul became our 4,000th Twitter follower. It's very gratifying to think that more than 4,000 people are interested in what we have to say. Perhaps they're just being kind! If you'd like site updates more often than once a month via this newsletter, then why not join the throng? Our profile page is here.

Features

The features section is all about interviews this month. We've been talking to lots of great authors!

First up is Dan Abnett, whose Primeval: Extinction Event is a perfect tie-in novel with lots of Cretaceous critters for fans, and a very good action fantasy for anyone else. Savita Kalhan's The Long Weekend is an incredibly tense thriller with a really important message about 'stranger danger'. We leapt at the opportunity to interview her. John Saunders' The Vernham Chronicles is set in the beautiful countryside of Vernbury Vale. There you'll meet the villagers of Vernham. They're distinctly odd but we promise that you'll like them. We were delighted to interview John about his humorous stories. Richard Denning's Tomorrow's Guardian is an action-filled children's story about the quest to save two universes, that will really appeal to many younger readers, especially if they're interested in history. Richard is a GP by day, and we found out how on earth he finds the time to write! The Astronaut's Apprentice by Philip Threadneedle is a hoot of a jaunt through space for tweens with Grandpa, Bradley and Headlice. We couldn't resist the opportunity to ask Philip some questions.

Golden Hour

This month, we're going for a book which, if we're honest, isn't that good. However, it did kick off one of the most popular crime series of modern times - Ian Rankin's Rebus sequence. Yep - it's Knots and Crosses. We wonder if Ian Rankin realised what a success his tortured detective would become way back in 1987?

Books of the Month

And on to to the new...

In fiction, Robin just couldn't make up his mind what to recommend. Firstly, there's The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin, a lightly written tale of dark secrets amongst the wives of a Nigerian man's polygamous household. Secrets, scheming and general unsavoriness abound. And then there's Beer in the Snooker Hall by Waguih Ghali - a humorous and sympathetic Egyptian struggles to balance idealism with reality in 1950s Cairo in this thoughtful and brilliantly characterised book. There's a touch of the English rogue and a touch of the Salinger's Holden Caulfield in this Arab story.

In non-fiction, Zoe's recommending An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson. Covering everything from robots to the environment, space exploration to eternal life, the book tracks Stevenson as he treks around the globe, meeting people on the cutting edge of science, and turning their babble into clear descriptions, ideas and explanations Joe Bloggs can understand. Putting the 'popular' back in 'popular science' this is an absolute winner: entertaining, educational, jaw dropping.

For teenagers, Robert has chosen A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master. Bilal's father is already dying, but Bilal at least wants to spare him a broken heart. So begins a memorable and enchanting tale of a young boy and his friends determined to stop the truth about the Partition of India reaching a terminally ill man. This novel manages to be utterly charming and seriously exciting at the same time.

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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