March 2010 Newsletter
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March's News from Bookbag Towers
Hello! How are you? Looking forward to the Easter break? We certainly are - and if someone doesn't buy Jill an egg from Montezuma's this year, her nearest and dearest are going to be very, very sorry. We have been busy fund-raising for Sport Relief, gadding about in London meeting publicists and going to birthday parties, and helping our heirs to plan gap year expeditions to Borneo - interestingly, we've also read two gap year novels recently, In the Trees by Pauline Fisk and The Island by Sarah Singleton. They're very different books, but they're both great.
We keep thinking about ebooks. Do you read them? Do you like them? What do you think of the production values? Ease of use? Will you buy a Kindle, do you think? An iPad? Can iTunes do wonders for ebooks? We feel rather conflicted. It's not that we're Luddites - we love technology, and the sexier it is the better. But we're also sappy old romantics who don't just love reading books. We love the way they look, and feel, and smell. It'll be a wrench if we do have to say goodbye to print. And what to do about ebooks on our site? Do we rush in and get ahead of the game and start adding ebook sections to our reviews? Do we link to ebooks through our affiliates? Or do we wait and see what happens after the pricing politics and format dominance issues have worked themselves through?
Or do we just settle down with a good book and forget all that nonsense? It's probably what we'll do!
We've been talking to Julie Cohen. Her book Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom is funny, quirky, compelling and intelligent - chick lit at its best - and so we jumped at the opportunity to interview her. She's a lovely lady, and we're sure you'll be interested in what she has to say. Go read!
We're forever waxing lyrical over newly published books in this newsletter, what with it being a newsletter an' all, but sometimes this obsession with the new makes us forget the old and that's not a good thing. So we thought that we'd start reminding you of our favourite books from times gone by. We won't overdo it, but we will choose one oldie for you each month, always a book that we return to again and again and of which we never tire. We're kicking off with Fup by Jim Dodge. Granddaddy Jake Santee has, after six and a half decades of riotous living, found the secret of immortality in the distilling and drinking of Ol' Death Whisper, a moonshine recipe given to him by a dying Indian outside a gambling hall in Nevada City.His grandson Tiny spends his time building miles of fences. And then they adopt a duck, Fup - Fup Duck, geddit? It's a fairy tale for grown ups and with none of that nasty dark stuff they put into fairy tales for children. Buy it, borrow it, steal it. Just don't miss it.
Books of the Month
And on to to the new...
Our book of the month in fiction is Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen: A Manifesto in 41 Tales by Marilyn Chin. An immigrant coming of age tale of twins, Moonie and Mei Ling, in California under the beady eye (and cleaver) of their domineering grandmother, this tale is told in a non-linear variety of short parables and stories. It's graphic, crude and rude in many places but is informed by traditional Chinese, Taoist, Zen and Buddhist texts with a bit of kung-fu and manga for good measure. How could you even think of missing it?!
In non-fiction, we've chosen The Woman Who Shot Mussolini by Frances Stonor Saunders, a biography of Violet Gibson, a member of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy who nearly succeeded in assassinating the Italian dictator in 1926. It is not a comfortable read, but by using the 'main event' as a focal point, it reveals much about changing attitudes – towards the status of women, the aristocracy, mental health, religion and inter-war politics and diplomacy – in Britain during the age.
For teens and young adults, it's been a really difficult choice this month, with more wonderful books than you could shake a stick at. In the end, and after much deliberation, we went with Luke and Jon by Robert Williams, a gorgeous tale of grief, friendship and moving on. Moments of great clarity add true depth to this funny, sad, wise and truthful book. It has something for everyone. Jill read the last page with a real sense of regret that it was all over.
For the little ones, we all bowed to John's choice: The Quest of the Warrior Sheep by Christopher Russell and Christine Russell. Take five rare breed sheep, put them in a field, and wait for something to fall out the sky on to one of them. Jonn says I can only suspect the authors planned a book with the exuberance, wit, charm and action of the best Aardman Animations creations. I can only declare that they succeeded. Recommendations rarely come better than that.
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.
All at Bookbag Towers
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