May 2011 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.

May's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello and welcome to the Bookbag Towers news desk this May. How are you? We're good.

We keep thinking that we really must update our list of most-read reviews on the site. We are good at thinking. But thinking isn't doing and since we are are also good at forgetting, we haven't done it yet. It's on the to-do list, though. Last time we did this exercise the redoubtable Delia Smith was in pole position, with her Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course. Some might laugh at the sucking/scrambling eggs episode, but an awful lot more type her name into Google, it's clear.

Bet you can't guess which is our most-review now we're in 2011. Bet you a shiny new United Kingdom pound to one of Jill's son's smelly socks. Bet you. Read the rest of the newsletter while wondering, and we'll tell you at the end.


It's very tempting to think that someone else's grass is greener than your own, but in the matter of working at home or commuting to your job, Blood Rush author Helen Black has experienced both and wants us to know that there are a few things you need to consider, not least the fluff in the tumble drier. Read her thoughts in this entertaining article.

Sue loved Jenn Ashworth's latest book, Cold Light. She met Jenn a few months ago and she really wanted to know how a nice girl like Jenn could think up a plot like that. Thankfully, Jenn was ready to talk to us...

We also enjoyed Peter Gill's riff on the number 42 - 42 - Douglas Adams' Amazingly Accurate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything and the chance to ask him some questions was too good to miss.

We were intriqued by The Dysfunctional Family by Paul Bress. It's written as a diary kept by four members of the titular dysfunctional family and we couldn't resist the temptation of asking Paul a few questions. When he closes his eyes and imagines his readers, he sees middle-aged women with degrees! Who'd have thought it?!

We really loved the way that Hilary Freeman's Don't Ask looks at the way a lie can spiral and deals with some tough questions. When we talked to her, she was entirely honest though. We promise.

Golden Hour

Our Golden Hour choice this month is The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell - the story of Thowra, a wild brumby in Southern Australia. In this book, horses might communicate with each other in English but they think and act like wild horses. Man is the enemy in this pacey story, first published in 1958 and happily re-released by Harper Collins this month.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Sue recommends Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth, a dark, unsettling story which perfectly captures the cruelty of teenage girls and the way that adults will accept that things are as they want them to be. It has great characterisations and a twisty plot. BBC2's The Culture Show named Jenn Ashworth as one of their twelve best new British novelists. She's not yet thirty and her writing is brilliant. She is definitely one to watch.

In non-fiction, Sue thinks you should read One Hundred Names For Loveby Diane Ackerman. It's an unsentimental look at how the knowledge which a wife had of the way in which her husband's brain worked helped to largely restore his power of speech. It's very readable, utterly inspirational and never mawkish and it's highly recommended by us.

For teenagers, Jill thinks you should look at Dangerous to Know by Katy Moran, an intense first love affair running alongside a family crisis. First love is such an overwhelming thing and Moran shows this wonderfully well. Beautifully observed and finely nuanced, this is the kind of romantic teen novel Bookbag loves. We know Katy for her historical fiction, but now we know she can do realistic drama, too.


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

Oops. Almost forgot. Our most-read review? It's Gandhi: Naked Ambition by Jad Adams. You didn't see that one coming, did you?

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.)