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January's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi! Hello! Happy New Year! We hope you had a marvellous festive season, weren't in trouble with floods and are about to be happily snowballing rather than in trouble with the white stuff.

We have some great news! Author, Bookbag reviewer and friend Linda Lawlor has won the Writers Advice competition Carrying the Flame with her first chapter to ‘Playing with Fire’ – a humorous adventure for 8 – 12 year-olds about a boy who tries to get himself out of trouble by kidnapping the Olympic Flame. You can read her winning entry by clicking the link here.

Other news is alllllll book-related. Because we spent our holidays reading. Find out what by reading on.

Golden Hour

This month, we're heading back less than a decade, to Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. It's a beautifully written novel of here-and-now, with striking language taken from neuroscience, IT and marketing and a meditation on the lost soul of urban world cum thriller cum quest for illumination. It is s a novel suspended between the scientific and the literary, the mercantile and the artistic, the genre and the mainstream; a literary equivalent of the Third Culture embodied by The Edge. Sounds a bit much? Well, it isn't. You should give it a look.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Ani is raving about The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. A rich, beautiful, heart-wrenching debut novel spanning 60 years and a family of individuals struggling against odds and upbringing. It blew Ani away and left her wishing that Hattie had even more children so she could stay with them longer.

In non-fiction, we're going for something for children for once. Alphasaurs and Other Prehistoric Types by Sharon Werner and Sarah Nelson Forss is a brilliant A-Z of imaginatively presented prehistory. It's a veritable panoply of paleontology and every child should see it.

For teens, Jill recommends Hostage Three by Nick Lake. It's an edge-of-your-seat thriller that deals with important societal issues - the banking crisis, piracy, etc - but also with personal tragedy and family relationships. Beautifully and subtly written, it packs an absolutely humongous punch. Don't miss it. And for teens and tweens, she'd also like to highlight Song Hunter by Sally Prue. It's a wonderful story stretching back into prehistory and looking at one of the encounters between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens that we now know took place. It's both skilfully told and truly interesting.


A brace of children's authors have kindly come to write for us since we last spoke. We fell for Annabel Pitcher when we read My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and we knew that she was one of our favourite authors when we finished Ketchup Clouds. She popped into Bookbag Towers to tell us about her New Year resolutions. She's going to read more books! Deborah White gave us the story of Nefertaru, a dancer and priestess at the temple of Sekhmet in Ancient Egyptian times. She appears briefly in both Wickedness and Deceit but is at the heart of the plot of both novels. Sekhmet was the divine consort of the god Ptah, who in later Ancient Egyptian history became merged with the god Thoth.

And you might have thought we had a month off, what with no newsletter in December an' all. But not so! We've been out and about interviewing authors so you can get to know them that little bit better.

We're really pleased to present an interview with Andy Briggs, author of the excellent and series and of the superb Tarzan reboot (we can't wait for book 3 in February!) amongst his many other talents!

We loved The Things We Did for Love by Natasha Farrant so there was lots to chat about when Natasha popped in to see us. Sue was impressed when she read R Julian Cox’s eco-thriller SHADOW ON THE SUN, an elegant conflation of fact and fiction which kept her on the edge of her seat. She and Julian had quite a few things to chat about. Words have long fascinated Zoë and after reading If Houses Why Not Mouses? by Damian O'Brien she had quite a few questions to ask the author when he called in to see us.

Sue realised that The Arthur Moreau Story by Guy Booth could be read on two levels - and that both were terrifying. When Guy popped in to Bookbag Towers there were questions to which we needed answers! Jill thought that Blood Bonds: The Caravan by Rosanne Licata was enchanting, romantic and a multi-faceted story. There was plenty to chat about when Roseanne talked to her. They Call Me... Montey Greene is a exciting crime crossing Italy and France and ending up back in the USA. We managed to catch Abdul as he popped into Bookbag Towers - and we had a few questions for him.

We loved How To Be Danish: From Lego to Lund. A Short Introduction to the State of Denmark by Patrick Kingsley and when he popped into Bookbag Towers there were quite a few questions we wanted answering! We also loved HM Castor's VIII - the story of Henry VIII - and we were fascinated by what she had to tell us. And finally, we were quietly impressed by A Mediocre Man and particularly by the way that it touched on so much which is wrong with our world without ever being depressing. When author A K Hill popped in to Bookbag Towers we had quite a few questions for him.


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

All at Bookbag Towers

See what we were doing last year.

(PS – if you don't want to receive further copies of our newsletter please email us and we'll see that you're deleted from the mailing list.)