March 2016 Newsletter

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If you'd like to sign up for our monthly newsletter, just drop us an email. We won't bother you more than once a month, but we'll tell you about what we've been reading at Bookbag and any news from the site. We promise never to pass your details on to anyone else. In fact... we won't even tell each other.

March's News from Bookbag Towers

Hello and welcome to March, dear readers. Winter is almost over. Unless you are Jon Snow, in which case winter is coming, always coming. For the rest of us, though, spring is just around the corner. Honest.

We're sorry to say that there is more sad news. The lovely, wonderful, funny young adult author Louise Rennison has died, much too soon. We will miss her and we will treasure her glorious, delightful stories all the more, now that there won't be any more. Philip Ardagh wrote a short but beautiful tribute to his friend. It made us cry.

In happier news, the first Bare Lit Festival took place and by all accounts was a roaring success. Bare Lit features writers of colour, who are criminally under-represented on the usual literary festival circuit. If you missed it, you can catch up with many of the events and panels at their website. There are some fantastic talks and discussions there, so it's well worth a look.

What else? Oh yes! World Book Day won itself a Guinness World Record! 6,388 children and adults from 62 schools, libraries, bookshops and publishers took part in a quiz about children books, beating the previous record of 2,679. That's a big quiz!

Golden Hour

In honour of its author, our blast from the - fairly recent - past this month is Withering Tights by Louise Rennison. After killing off Georgia Nicolson of Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snoggingin a blaze of hedonism and vampires, it was time for Louise Rennison to start a new series, with a new teenage girl's first-person narrative. In Withering Tights we meet one Tallulah Casey, a lanky girl worried about her knees and underdeveloped cleavage, and off to stay at a posh drama performance workshop centre in the wilds of Yorkshire. Tallulah is just as memorable, fresh and funny. This is the first book about Tallulah and if you don't want to read it from the title alone, there is no hope for you. Thank you, Louise Rennison. For everything. We'll never forget you.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Luke recommends Beloved Poison by E S Thomson . St Savior's is a crumbling infirmary – its walls stuffed with ambition, jealousy and hatred. Six tiny coffins, each containing dried flowers and mouldering rags, are uncovered inside the decaying chapel. A silent outsider, with secrets of her own to hide, is determined to discover the truth. And in a trail that leads from the bloody worlds of dissecting table and operating theatre, through to the squalor of Newgate Prison and its gallows, Jem Flockhart faces a ruthless adversary. This is a captivating ride through a dark, dank, and thoroughly vivid world. E.S. Thomson has created a compelling new crime solver in a wonderfully populated Dickens-esque world

In non-fiction, John thought very highly of Ray Davies: A Complicated Life by Johnny Rogan . Undoubtedly one of the most versatile and gifted British songwriters of all time, the personality of Ray Davies of The Kinks is every bit as complicated as this magnificently detailed biography reveals his life to be. It's a long read which leaves no stone unturned. The author has interviewed Ray and his brother Dave, as well as other members of the band, managers, friends and associates, and built up a well-rounded picture of his career, personal life and character, in addition to appraising his group and solo recordings with enthusiasm as well as objectivity. An extensive discography ensures that the book will serve as a work of reference for the fan as well.

For teens, Jill was bowled over by Crush by Eve Ainsworth . Anna's mother has left her father - and her brother, and Anna herself. That's how Anna sees it and although her mother wants contact, Anna is refusing it. It's not as though Anna sees this as some heroic defence of father and brother either: she's fed up with them, too. Her father is always distracted and he is definitely favouring little brother Eddie, who, as Anna sees it, is a spoiled brat. School has picked up on the fact that all is not right with Anna and has signed her up for counselling sessions. And then, Will appears. Crush is a look at how abusive relationships can twist an intense first love into something it shouldn't be. It's absorbing, moving, and handled with great sensitivity.

For the littler ones, John recommends My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Adventures by Deborah Patterson . There certainly are other books for young readers to teach them creative writing, but none are quite like this. Its USP is in the writing, for this book like none other has gone right back to the experts. Using very familiar influences – Narnia, Hogwarts, treasure islands and other classics of children's literature – we get a full-on choice of tasks to do, and ideas for our own stories. It's a very clever volume, which leads by the best example to open up a world of creative writing and imaginative invention.


We have some cool features for you this month. Author Quentin Bates called round as part of his blog tour to tell us all about his book Thin Ice, the seventh book in his Officer Gunnhildur series. It's not about crime. It's about people!

We've also been finding authors and asking them questions, as is our wont. Jill thought that Fox by Anthony Gardner was plot-focused and had twists to suit every thriller fan. She was impressed by the serious depiction of the downtrodden individual against the erosion of hard-won civil liberties. There was quite a lot to chat about when the author popped into Bookbag Towers. Ani was impressed by the world building in Lilith: Eden's Planetary Princess and knew that there was an exciting series to come. She had quite a few questions for author C E Robinson when he found himself in her sights.


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 reading 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.)