January 2012 Newsletter

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January's News from Bookbag Towers

Hello and a belated Happy New Year to you all. Did you have a super-duper festive season? Was it busy-busy-busy or laid-back and relaxed? Did you receive nice presents? More importantly, were any of them books?

We're back in the saddle here at Bookbag Towers and we have been reviewing as busily as ever. There's some wonderful stuff around at the moment and you can read about our favourites right here in this newsletter.

Before we go any further, though, we did want to tell you about the Bloomsbury Institute. Have you ever wanted to get a glimpse inside the world of publishing? Rub shoulders with authors and listen to their talks? Well, now you can. Bloomsbury are organising a series of events at their London home in Bedford Square. The first is on 31st January and features two Bookbag favourites, Stephen Kelman and Nick Lake. You can find out more - and sign up to attend - by looking at the website. What a great initiative!

Golden Hour

Our book from the past this month is We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson. First published in 1962, it's a compelling, macabre tale about an eccentric young woman and her family home. Even today, it's a salutary reminder of the way otherness is found to be threatening and subsequently persecuted. If you haven't read it, why not look it out next time you're at the library?

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, John was deeply impressed by the Antipodean Bereft by Chris Womersley - in which a scarred war survivor returns to face many other things that scarred him. Completely memorable events, characters and style make it a simply supreme read. We haven't featured a new crime novel for a while but this month Sue found Good Bait by John Harvey - a journey through those parts of the criminal underworld which you wish you could believe don't exist - with a great plot and believable characters. Don't miss it.

In non-fiction, Zoe loved Calories and Corsets by Louise Foxcroft. A history of dieting over the last two thousand years, it's an extremely readable book that will have you laughing and gaping and even shuddering at times. It's fun, fascinating and, yes, filling!

For the older-younger ones, Jill recommends In Darkness by Nick Lake, an intense and affecting exploration of Haiti through the eyes of a boy in the present, caught in the rubble of the great quake, and a 19th century revolutionary leader. Gritty and real, full of cultural detail, this is a book not to miss. It comes highly, highly, and thrice highly recommended by us..

Features

This month, the fabulous Cliff McNish (he makes Jill swoon, but sshh, she blushes easily) dropped in to tell us about the background to his novel The Hunting Ground and how he came to write it. It's a beautifully written and truly chilling ghost story set in a creepy mansion and featuring lost children, fearsome hunters and echoing nursery rhymes, and Cliff explains exactly why a villain needs to be really, really, really bad.

We've had our interviewing hats on, too. Here at Bookbag Towers we've really enjoyed Phoebe Finds Her Voice and Polly Plays Her Part from Anne-Marie Conway's Star Makers Club series. We couldn't resist the opportunity to ask her a few questions. We were completely blown away when we read Opal Moonbaby and we knew that it was going to be great fun when Maudie Smith came in to talk to us. We were right and, as Opal would have said, we had a balloon. We were lucky enough to read The Golden Thread before it was published - and even luckier to be able to chat to Monica Carly about how she came to write this feel-good book about the life of the Hansom family over a period of forty years. What do you do when your mother dies of Huntington's Disease and you find out that she wasn't your mother at all? And that there is a person - a sister? - out there who may carry the gene for this terrible disease? Brilliant premise for a YA novel, no? So you can imagine we were very keen to chat to author Katie Dale about her debut book Someone Else's Life.

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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