November 2009 Newsletter

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November'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.

Firstly, an apology: if you have visited us and had problems over the last few weeks, then we are very sorry. We had some problems (you might even call them arguments) with our hosting company and we have now moved to a home that is much more welcoming. It's more suited to our needs and we're sure there won't be any more of that nasty downtime getting in your way of a good book recommendation or two.

In honour of the move, we're trialling Amazon's widget feature, which adds a tag cloud with recommendations for related books to every review. The links will take you to an Amazon page rather than a Bookbag page, but we hope it adds some extra usefulness. If you like it - or if you don't like it! - or if you've anything to say about it, or anything else, at all, then do let us know. We've also got some other new features on the drawing board and we hope to bring them to you soon. We're slow but steady in these 'ere parts!

Anyway, on to business...

We have some great features for you again this month, including an interview with Hilary McKay. We really enjoyed her book Wishing For Tomorrow (the sequel to A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett) and couldn't resist the opportunity to ask her a few questions. She lets slip that a new book about her wonderful Casson family is on the way. If you want the title, read the interview!

You're probably also beginning to realise it's that time of year already. Yes. Christmas is approaching, and along with it all those awful decisions about what to buy for whom. We've tried to make things a bit easier for you with a shopping list of suggestions for great books for every type of reader you can think of. Check out the list here.

In October, our most read new review was Paradise Red (Perfect Fire Trilogy) by K M Grant, a superb close to the thrilling historical saga with slight fantasy tinges set amongst religious turmoil in the south of France at the time of the crusades. We're glad to see it's proving deservedly popular.

What we've been reading...

In fiction, Robin recommends Ransom by David Malouf. Revisiting The Iliad, Malouf uses lyrical, spare prose to tell the story of Priam's efforts to ransom the body of his dead son from Achilles, showing the power of storytelling and an exquisite depiction of grief, rage and revenge and of the human condition. Zoe had a ball reading Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years by Sue Townsend. Our old favourite is now 39¼ and living, quite literally, in a pigsty, sharing an all too thin party wall with his parents and working in a bookshop. Yes, he's back in this hilarious, ninth instalment in the saga that fans old and new will not want to miss. Jill's favourites were two reworkings of stories from the Mabinogion. White Ravens by Owen Sheers adds WWII, the ravens in the Tower of London and an unravelling of family tensions to the old manuscript, but it loses none of the drama and fireside feeling. The Ninth Wave (New Stories from the Mabinogion) by Russell Celyn Jones is set in a post-climate change world with contemporary motifs.

In non-fiction, John found Don't Swallow Your Gum by Dr Aaron Carroll and Dr Rachel Vreeman great fun: BANG. That's the sound of copious medical urban myths being shot down. BANG. That's the sound of the old wives slamming the door, as their tales get revealed as baseless. CLICK. That's the noise lots of ill-informed websites make as they get closed down. Our other, slightly more reserved, John loved Jazz by Gary Giddins and Scott Deveaux, a full history of jazz from its 19th century roots to the present day. It's thoroughly readable, with several appendices including a select discography, it will also serve as an excellent work of reference. One for a Christmas present for a music-lover of your acquaintance, perhaps.

In children's books, and for the little ones, Keith fell in love with The Wide-Mouthed Frog by Iain Smyth and Michael Terry. You all know the joke. It's a simple one, but it's brilliantly executed with some clever paper engineering. Children and adults alike will laugh their heads off. For older ones, Jill's recommending The Battle of the Sun by Jeanette Winterson, a beautiful follow up to Tanglewreck that serves almost as well as a standalone novel. Fresh, original and moving, it's the language in this novel that truly delights. Despite its challenge, recommended for keen readers of ten and up.

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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