Monday, 16 January 2017

Compass Points 199


There’s no doubt that most of us would dearly love to escape from this somewhat dreary January, so why not take a journey into the Venezuelan rainforest via a stunning new voice in Latin American fiction; Miguel Bonnefoy? You can read an extract of Octavio's Journey (£7.99, pb, 978 1910477311) here which has sold more than 25,000 copies in France. The gorgeously vibrant cover alone is enough to warm you up; Le Figaro called it “magnificent”, it was shortlisted for the Goncourt First Novel Award, and this short but epic fable is both a hymn to Venezuela and the magical story of an extraordinary hero. It’s published by Gallic in March.

The Old King in His Exile by Arno Geiger (pb, 978 1908276889, £8.99) is already getting some excellent review coverage – it was published on Thursday by And Other Stories. The Times Literary Supplement said “The Old King in His Exile balances the poetic, the military and the idea of performance. There is a lathe-like precision to Geiger’s writing, all straight lines and pared exactitudes . . . poignantly rendered.” It was featured in the Sunday Express Magazine yesterday and there will also be a piece in the Financial Times on 21 January and it will be reviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek on 25 January. Translated into nearly 30 languages; The Old King in His Exile will offer solace and insight to anyone coping with a loved one's aging. In it, the author sets out on a journey to get to know his father; never an easy man, and when he developed Alzheimer's, Arno realised he was not going to ask for help. Born in 1926 in the Austrian Alps, into a farming family who had an orchard, kept three cows, and made schnapps in the cellar, his father was conscripted into World War II as a 'schoolboy soldier' - an experience he rarely spoke about, though it marked him. Striking up a new friendship, Arno walks with him in the village and the landscape they both grew up in and listens to his words, which are often full of unexpected poetry. Through his intelligent, moving and often funny account, we begin to see that whatever happens in old age, a human being retains their past and their character.

Pakistan is proud of its culinary heritage and its dishes are becoming increasingly popular. The Food and Cooking of Pakistan (hb, 978 0754832393, £14.99) has just been published by Lorenz – and as you’d expect from this publisher, the production quality is very high, with beautiful full colour spreads on every page, easy to follow photographed instructions as well as sumptuous pics of all the mouth-watering classics included in this collection of 85 recipes by expert Shehzad Husain. Traditionally based on ancient Mughlai recipes, modern Pakistani cooking embraces the ingredients and techniques of nearby countries, creating richer, more elaborate food that is often referred to in the West as being Lahori or Peshawari. Delectable biryanis, nehari, haleem, kebabs, gol gappay … as one reviewer said “Great to see a new book from Shehzad Husain after a long time. As with her previous books the recipes are super easy to follow and the images are top quality. We get a background into what Pakistani cuisine is and … the illustrations are beautiful, I love the fact the paper is glossy so you can get a real feel to the food, the photography is really sharp and a lot of the focus is on the food.” There was an interview with Shehzad Husain in this Saturday’s (14th January) issue of Waitrose Weekend and also an extract feature in the Independent online and there will be more PR to come for this gorgeous book – there is nothing comparable in the market.

Big congrats to Urbane author Tom Hocknell who has been selected as one of the "diverse and original" authors with his debut novel The Life Assistance Agency (pb, £8.99, 978 1911129035) in the WH Smith Fresh Talent Promotion which launched on Thursday. It will run until 30th March across W H Smith Travel's key locations at airports in Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester and train stations in Victoria, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Euston. You can see all 12 titles here. The selection, which  "encourages readers to take a risk on a new author”, described  Hocknell's book as "a welcome inclusion to the  list" and a "vivid tale with a wry wit and sharp eye".
“I was so immersed in this utterly bonkers reading experience I greedily devoured it in one sitting. There's a cracking turn of events and it's walloped in some brilliant one liners too. Undoubtedly, considerable attention has been paid to merging the past and the present which are brought alive by the frantic finesse of mystic mayhem, and a constant stream of curiosity that I found impossible to ignore. Unquestionably quirky. Brilliantly barmy. Absolutely recommended.” said the Little Bookness Lane Blog. WH Smith isn’t the only place where this will sell  – order it for your shop too!

Years of watching The Apprentice means we all think we’re marketing experts now, and publishers and agents sometimes do talk of authors in term of “brands”. But what exactly does that mean, and does author branding really help books to sell? Have a look  here  at this interesting piece on author branding from The Book Machine and see if you agree,

Lots of bloggers have been getting very excited about Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty by Laura Slater (978 0859655088, pb, £14.99) which is published by Plexus; and I’m not surprised – the retro styling it espouses is bang on trend at the moment and this stylish guide is filled with glam pics and top tips.
Vintage blogger Dominique de Merteuil says it is “Filled with useful tips on make-up and hairstyling from the beauty regimes of iconic, glamorous movie stars such as Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich… to name just a few!  A perfect book for those who are just starting their exciting adventure with vintage hair and make-up, as well as for vintage aficionados”
This piece is great fun – if you’re at all into the glamorous Hollywood of old then you will enjoy reading  the rest of this blog about trying out some of the tips and looks from the book. The Bookbag also give the book a big thumbs up and you can read that blog  here.

Talking of the styling in the blockbuster Hollywood films –  here  is an entertaining collection of costume and make up errors that have occurred in some of the very biggest!

Congratulations to Freight, whose wonderful and wry short story collection Treats by Lara Williams (pb, £8.99, 978 1910449707) which has been chosen for the inaugural shortlist of eight titles for The Republic of Consciousness prize; designed to reward “brave, bold and brilliant” literature from small presses. You can find out more and see the whole shortlist in the Guardian here.

More publicity this week for the excellent Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? with a much more measured article in the Guardian that you can read here where the book’s author CJ Atkinson calls the fury over the book from the Mail on Sunday and Tory grandees a “trans-panic” adding: “This mud-slinging has to stop. It causes active harm. When you have a group of transgender young people, one in two will consider suicide, one in three will attempt it.” Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? (pb, £8.99, 978 1785921056) has just been published by Jessica Kingsley.

This is very beautiful and atmospheric; a short 5 minute film celebrating the poetry of Paul Celan whose poetry is published by Carcanet – you can find out more about him here. Paul Celan (1920–1970) is among the most important German-language poets of the century, and, in George Steiner’s words, “almost certainly the major European poet of the period after 1945.” He was born Paul Antschel into a Jewish family in Bukovina, a German enclave in Romania which was destroyed by the Nazis. His parents were taken to a concentration camp in 1942, and did not return; Celan managed to escape deportation and after settling in Paris in 1948, he gained widespread recognition as a poet with the publication of his first collection of poems in German in 1952.

Lots in the papers this January about The Bad Boys of Brexit by Arron Banks (978 1785901829) from Biteback. Arron Banks enjoyed a life of happy anonymity flogging car insurance in Bristol until he dipped his toes into the shark-infested waters of politics - and decided to plunge right in! Charging into battle for Brexit, he couldn't believe how Westminster types behaved, and resolved to fight for the country's future his own way. Have a look first at this great piece on The Guardian, Politics Blog entitled Thirty Things You Didn’t Know About the Referendum and the book is also featured in  Reuters, the Daily Express, The Guardian the Telegraph , Vanity Fair and The Economist.

And finally – who’s seen La La Land? Here's  a trailer to whet your appetite – and whatever you do, don’t forget to stock up on truckloads of 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling by Joanna Benecke (pb, £12.99, 978 0859655019) from Plexus – which I can guarantee will fly off your shelves as effortlessly as Ryan and Emma Stone fly around in the film! Packed with trivia, jokes, and over 100 full-colour photos that graphically illustrate his physical perfection, 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling provides scientifically irrefutable evidence of exactly why Ryan is so damn loveable. Is it because he takes his mom to film premieres? Plays in a hip indie band? Carries his dog through airports? Breaks up street fights? Furthered the feminist cause without even trying? Has no problem with nudity even when the script doesn't strictly require it? It's all these things and more – just order the damn book!
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This newsletter is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Compass Points 198


A shout-out first to bookseller Steve Bloom who owns the small bookshop Bloomindales in the lovely village of Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. Steve has been all over the national press and airwaves this week and branded "the bookseller from hell" because of his decision to charge 50p entry to his shop in order to deter the time-wasting browsers he’s described as “a pain in the arse”. Now, public opinion seems to be very divided on this one to say the least! Is he, as some have said, the “Basil Fawlty of booksellers” who totally fails to understand the basics of good customer service? Or is he making a brave stand against the sort of shopper that I’m sure all of you know very well – the one who enjoys spending the best part of an hour thumbing through your carefully curated highly recommended titles – and then having decided what to purchase; pulls out his phone and orders it from Amazon! Read the whole story here in the Telegraph and here  in the Mail!

New year, new you and all that; and although most of us know that a bit of meditation may well improve our lives, the excuse that most of us use is that we just don’t have time for all that sitting still, lotus position, chanting malarkey. OK, but what if it took just four minutes? Rebekah Bex Borucki has taught hundreds of thousands of people how to create simple yet powerful meditation practices and in a new book coming from Hay House in February, she’ll show you how in less than 5 mins you can change your life to find deep, meaningful, and lasting healing. You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life: Simple 4-Minute Meditations for Inspiration, Transformation, and True Bliss (pb, £12.99, 978 1781806357) combines mantras, affirmations, breathing, bodywork techniques and technical information as well as answering many common questions. It will be serialised in Red magazine this spring.

We all have book jackets we love and ones we hate too! Covers are undoubtedly an important tool in an author’s “brand” – and can make a major difference to their sales.  Overall, which brands do you feel performed well in 2016 – and which were not so great? Have a look at this fun piece looking at the zeros and heroes of brand identity last year; Uber and Instagram for example…

Some of you may have heard already that author Michel Déon died in Galway on 28 December at the age of 97. Déon, born in Paris, was the author of more than 50 works of fiction and non-fiction, and a member of the Académie Française. His 1970 novel Les Poneys Sauvages was awarded the prestigious Prix Interallié and in 1973 Le Taxi Mauve (later made into a film starring Fred Astaire and Charlotte Rampling) won the Grand Prix du Roman de l’Académie FrançaiseThe Foundling Boy was published in 1975.
His new novel The Great and the Good (pb, £8.99, 978 1910477281) is published next week by Gallic. Set in 1950’s America, The Great and the Good is about a young Frenchman growing up to understand that life is bigger than he thought and that love is not always fair. Arthur Morgan is aboard the Queen Mary, where a scholarship at an Ivy League university awaits him, along with the promise of a glittering future. But the few days spent on the ship will have a defining effect on the young Frenchman, when he encounters the love of his life. You can watch a ten-minute clip here of Michel Déon talking to his translator Julian Evans about his time as a young man in 1950’s New York when he met the literary giant William Faulkner. This and other experiences clearly influenced The Great and the Good and is fascinating stuff. This clip is only a brief example of an extraordinary life lived by an extraordinary man; as William Boyd remarked: “Our lives would be all the richer if we read a Michel Déon novel” and I urge you to stock The Great and The Good and other titles by this great writer whose novels; as the New York Times said; offer such a “a witty, panoramic view of French society and history”. And, stop press – there was a glowing review of The Great and The Good yesterday in the Mail – which you can read here saying “It’s a shame we have waited so long for what is a wonderfully well-crafted and moving essay on the enduring and often illogical pain of first love, but good that at last Deon will finally garner the plaudits here that he deserves.”

Is it your New Year’s resolution to move out from behind the till – or pile of returns – and write your own bestselling novel? Is there a formula you could follow? Can you deliberately write a guaranteed sold gold bestseller? Have a look at this fun piece in the Guardian, entitled The Bestseller Experiment which investigates just how easy or difficult becoming a successful author would be!

The Daily Mail’s You Magazine have chosen Eat Well, Stay Well: What to Eat to Beat Common Ailments (pb, £12.99, 978 1859063712) by Dr Sarah Brewer as their book of the week on Jan 29th. There is also coverage of this title which is published by Connections coming up in other magazines such as Woman’s Own and it’s definitely a book to have on the shelves as eating the right things to stay healthy is undoubtedly one of THE buzz topics of 2017. This 176-page full colour paperback with flaps is a great looking package and is packed with nutritional advice based on the latest scientific evidence. It is organized by ailment for quick and easy reference on how to combat the fifty most common health issues. From high blood pressure to eczema, and osteoarthritis to depression, the book includes tasty recipes plus advice on the twenty key superfoods offering all-round benefits – in fact everything you need to give your health a fighting chance.

Loads of publicity for a new title coming this month from Jessica Kingsley this month Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals by C J Atkinson (pb, 978 1785921056, £8.99) which explains medical transitioning to children and follows a 12-year-old character called Kit, who is transitioning from female to male. The publisher says there has been “considerable interest” from schools in ordering the title. “With the growing number of children questioning their gender, schools and parents across the country have been challenged over the limited support they can offer them … there is a definite lack of resources out there for teachers, parents and children themselves.” Needless to say, this excellent title has already received criticism from the Daily Mail which you can read here ; their columnist Sarah Vine said it is targeted at children who are “not even ready to choose their A-level subjects, let alone challenge their own biology”. Former MP Anne Widdecombe said the book was “nonsense. You can’t expect children to say that’s not a boy when it obviously is. At the age of seven, you know if someone is a boy or if they are a girl. It’s normal.” Jessica Kingsley said negative headlines about the book from some areas of the press were “disappointing” but “to be expected”. Their spokesperson told the Bookseller“Debates surrounding young transgender people are inherently sensitive and people have firmly held beliefs but sensational headlines fail to acknowledge how young trans people are some of the most at risk individuals in society. This is why we published Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? to ensure parents and those working with children have access to the support and guidance they need.” There is no doubt at all that gender diversity is one of the key issues of the moment and there are many many people who are looking to become more informed on the subject – whether its relevant to their own children or just in general. I think there will be a big market for this title; it is absolutely not just for teachers and the “outraged of Tunbridge Wells” publicity will all help to generate awareness – and demand.

Good to hear Rebecca Goss as Lesley Dolphin’s sofa guest on Radio Suffolk this week, talking about her moving poetry collection Her Birth published by Carcanet – which has been shortlisted for many prizes. Goss’s newborn daughter Ella was diagnosed with a rare and incurable heart condition and lived for just sixteen months. Her Birth is a book-length sequence of poems beginning with Ella’s birth, her short life and her death, and ending with the joys and complexities that come with the birth of another child. Goss navigates the difficult territory of grief and loss in poems that are spare, tender and haunting. You can listen to that interview here.

Hurry to place your orders for The Wit and Wisdom of Donald Trump (pb, £5.00, 978 1911072157) which is published by Skyscraper Publications on 12 January – just in time for Trump’s inauguration as US president on January 20. It’s only £5 and is the perfect humorous gift – consisting as it does, of almost entirely blank pages!! The chapter headings include: How I will bring peace to the world; How I will heal the divisions in American society between racial, ethnic and lifestyle groups; How I will protect the rights of women; and How I will demonstrate restraint, civilised behaviour, and compassion. There are also sections on the major positive achievements of Trump’s business career and the benefits his presidency will bring to the US, as well as tributes from beneficiaries of his charity giving and testimonials to his qualities from leading statesmen. Publisher Karl Sabbagh said: “Enormous research went into the preparation of this book. But, as we neared publication date, we had reluctantly to accept that, apart from the chapter titles, the pages would have to remain blank. No example of wit or wisdom among the words of Donald Trump would have escaped the research team if it had existed. We hesitated over the last chapter, since the researchers found a quote from Vladimir Putin appearing to praise Trump. But we decided that it was actually tongue in cheek and not worthy of inclusion. Funnily enough, I met him in 1987 when I was making a documentary and I talked to him in his office. I was struck then by the total absence of anything witty or wise in what he said. We suspected that he hadn’t ever said anything interesting, but of course you have to do research to be sure.” The Wit and Wisdom of Donald Trump is available now – put a stack by the till and I think customers will pick it up, it’s topical, it’s funny, it’s a good price and it’s a great way of marking one of the most extraordinary moments in world history.
And finally – we all need a bit of cheering up at this time of year – so here are ten songs guaranteed to make you feel better!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. This week let’s see what VeryBritishProblems@SoVeryBritish has to say about the New Year...
"I might go for a run tonight" Translation: I might go for a short, agonizing, breathless, limping, shuffle tonight.
Trying to eat healthily when the cupboard still contains two tubs of chocolates, three tins of posh biscuits and half a pack of mince pies
Strictly not drinking in January, except for: 1. Beer and wine 2. At weekends (including Thursdays) 3. In pubs 4. When bored.
"What's this we're watching?" Translation: This is awful, please make it stop.
Trying to remember the last time you ate something that wasn't on a cling-filmed plate in the fridge.
"I'm so full, I'm never eating again" "Mince pie?" "Yes."
Gearing yourself up to tell the hairdresser you fancy something a bit different, knowing full well you'll never actually ask.
The pharmacy: a room full of people all facing in completely random directions, so everyone knows they're not in the queue.
The heartbreaking moment you realize you've missed the bin collection.
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This blog is taken from a newsletter which is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Compass Points 197


Happy Christmas! All of us at Compass wish every bookseller a successful festive season and hope you all enjoy a fabulous Christmas and joyful New Year!
If you are struggling to come up with innovative ideas for your own Christmas lunch, then have a look here at the ever-resourceful Theo Michaels who shows us how to do Christmas in a Mug! This article was from the Daily Mail and is just part of the tremendous publicity that Microwave Mug Meals (hb, £9.99, 978 0754832850) published by Lorenz Books has received. He was back again on This Morning on 8 December showing us how to make an entire festive feast in a mug in matter of minutes finishing off with a perfect Christmas pudding! You can watch that here.

Compass have been enjoying the company of all of our lovely publishers this week at our sales conference where we heard about lots of the brilliant books that will be bouncing into your shops between March and August 2017.Our conference was in Slough – and of course I’m NOT saying that the Compass MD is anything like David Brent – however, while the motivational messages from the conference are fresh in our minds, this does seem like a good opportunity to remind ourselves of some of  the best bits from The Office.

OK, back to the books. Highlights from our conference included some gripping novels including Death's Silent Judgement; the next thrilling book in the Hannah Weybridge thriller series by Anne Coates from Urbane; Death of a Translator from Arcadia and Because I Was Lonely (pb, £8.99, 978-1910453292) from Red Door.
This is a cleverly crafted, unputdownable debut novel from Hayley Mitchell which traces the rollercoaster of actions and reactions experienced by a cast of credible, fallible, characters who rekindle an old friendship on Facebook; but what begins as a little harmless flirtation soon becomes an obsession, and slowly the threads of their lives unravel before them…

Baby Wise: Learn to Trust Your Baby’s Instincts in the First Year by Rachel Fitz-Desorgher (pb, 978 1910336311 £12.99) which is published by White Ladder met with an enthusiastic response from our sales team – it sounds terrific! Written by an experienced midwife this title shows that by responding to your baby’s needs, you can’t parent “wrongly” and that contrary to what many so-called experts will tell you; your baby is a highly evolved being with an instinct to survive that you don’t need to “train”! 

Comma Press are publishing second volume of Refugee Tales – I know many of you have done extremely well with the first collection of these moving and poignant and all too frighteningly common experiences of Europe’s new underclass: its refugees. Here, poets and novelists retell the stories of individuals; presenting their experiences anonymously, as modern day counterparts to the pilgrims’ stories in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, this new book offers more intimate glimpses into otherwise untold suffering.

His many fans will be delighted to hear that Gallic have a new novel from Antoine Laurain – the hugely popular author of The Red Notebook and The President’s Hat. The Portrait (pb, £7.99, 978 1910477434) begins when an avid collector unearths the find of a lifetime a Paris auction house: an eighteenth-century portrait of a man who looks uncannily like him. Much to his delight, his bid for the work is successful, but back at home his jaded wife and circle of friends are unable to see the resemblance. However, as he researches into the painting’s history, he is presented with the opportunity to abandon his tedious existence and walk into a brand-new life…

And Other Stories have The Little Buddhist Monk which is the new title by Cesar Aira; the most important and influential writer in Latin America today. Those who love his extreme eccentricity and innovation and playful spirit will adore this new tour de force set in Korea, where a Buddhist monk (who’s really very tiny) dreams of the Western world and secretly reads up on Western culture. When he meets the holidaying French couple Napoleon Chirac and Jacqueline Bloodymary he offers his services as their guide, in the hope they will take him, a penniless monk, to Europe. He whisks them off on a tour of the temples. Among the many twists and turns, our stunned tourists encounter a suicidal horse and discover that a person can also be a robot.
Birlinn also have some fantastic titles coming up in 2017 – one which caught my eye in particular was Captain Fantastic: Elton John’s Stellar Trip Through the 70’s by acclaimed music journalist Tom Doyle. In August 1970 Elton John achieved overnight fame after a rousing performance at the Troubadour in Los Angeles; over the next five years he was unstoppable, scoring seven consecutive number 1 albums and sixteen Top 10 singles in America. But behind his outré image and comedy glasses lay a desperately shy individual, conflicted about his success, his sexuality, and his narcotic indulgences. In 1975, at the apex of his fame, John attempted suicide twice yet, after announcing his retirement in 1977 at the age of thirty as well as coming out as a gay man, he gradually found his way back to music. Captain Fantastic is an intimate look at the rise, fall and rise again of John’s fame-and-drug fuelled decade, with a final section bringing his life up to the present.

And while we’re on the subject of music – there is a MEGA exciting title coming in May from Brian May – yes THAT Brian May – which is an all new, never before seen pictorial biography of Queen – yes THAT Queen – in …. wait for it…. 3D!!!

I LOVE this  – people reading fake books with highly controversial covers in the subway and then filming other commuters’ reactions to them. Hilarious!
I also love this : a compilation of some the year’s funniest banned ads – yep, I can quite see why some of those didn’t get past the censor! Enjoy!


That’s all for this year folks! See you in 2017!
This blog is taken from a newsletter is sent weekly to over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Compass Points 196


Hope the season is going well for you so far! We love this fabulous Christmas tree in the Bodleian Museum Bookshop in Oxford! This week we’re talking about some of the top titles that are published in early 2017.

First up is Songs from The Violet Café (£8.99, pb,978 1910709177) by Fiona Kidman (the author of The Infinite Air) which is published by Aardvark in January.  This is a powerful story of women's lives spanning decades and continents from one of New Zealand's most popular authors: The Herald said of it “this is an author writing at the height of her powers.” It is an honest portrayal of sexual politics and female friendship, reminiscent of Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend, and the book will appeal to fans of her as well as Maggie O'Farrell and Anne Tyler. The novel begins in 1943 when Violet Trench crosses Lake Rotorua with a small boy, but rows back without him. Sixty years later, a boat is ritually set alight on the same body of water. The intervening years see Violet open a café by the lake the scene of an event in the summer of 1963 with lasting repercussions for Violet and her young employees. Their lives diverge, but Violet's influence on them all and on runaway Jessie Sandle in particular will linger like the scent of the truffles with which she infuses her dishes. Lots of readers and reviewers loved The Infinite Air; I think Songs from the Violet Café (which has a really beautiful cover) could do even better.
Ok, talking of Songs from the Violet Café – what are the top three songs about cafes? Well, mine would be a retro choice first with Ella Fitzgerald's I Want the Waiter with the Water, then definitely Billy Joel's  Scenes from an Italian Restaurant; but the best café song ever must surely be the amazing Suzanne Vega's Tom’s Diner .


Still on a musical theme; those hipsters over at Omnibus Press tweeted this today:

Omnibus Press @OmnibusPress Productivity in the Omnibus Press office has just dropped to virtually nil because of this. http://www.music-map.com
And I quite agree – have a look  to find out what are the connections between all the musicians you like! Great fun – and the perfect Friday time-waster!
There was a fascinating piece  with some great pics in the recently published Omnibus title Amy: A Life Through The Lens by Darren and Elliott Bloom with Matt Trollope (hb, £20.00, 978-1785582011 ) in the Jewish News today which you can read here.  And there is a whole website promoting the book which you can find at www.amyalifethroughthelens.com – loads of poignant pics and film of Amy Winehouse to look at and a great marketing tool for this title.

As a major fan of the scrummy chickpea dip, I am massively looking forward to The Hummus Cookbook (hb, 9.99, 978 0754832836) which is published by Lorenz Books in January. And hurrah, hummus not only tastes good but is healthy too – it contains smart carbs that are slow to digest, so leaving you feeling fuller for longer, as well as being low in fat and a good source of protein and fibre. Incredibly easy to make at home, the results are so much better than shop-bought. Sara Lewis has researched, tested and tasted traditional hummus recipes from lemon and olive oil to Turkish hot buttered and also created new blends such as red beet, white beans, black beans, peas, kale and lemon. As always from Lorenz and Anness Books; this hardback has a huge amount of gorgeous photos (over 300) at a great price – have a look below to see some of the full colour spreads and you will see that it’s really well laid out with loads of techniques, tips and practical guidance, from soaking and cooking the pulses to blending and garnishing as well as making your own tahini, harissa, za’atar, chermoula and flatbreads, with easy to follow recipes for yeast-free and gluten-free breads too! Yum yum!


A title that many of your customers will be all too ready for (and me too if I keep scoffing the hummus) the in the New Year is Till the Fat Lady Slims by Debbie Flint (£7.99, pb, 978 178189333 3). I appreciate that there are an absolute deluge of diet titles competing for your bookshelves; but the USP of this one is that previously self-published this semi-autobiographical weight-loss and lifestyle book on Kindle with much success, and this new paperback edition includes many testimonials from her fans – the author is a very successful presenter on QVC. In 1998 Debbie found herself more than two stone overweight, under stress and in need of help. Enter Freedom Eating. This natural weight loss method helped Debbie break free from Food Prison and un-learn all the bad habits from a lifetime of 'starting again on Monday'. Till the Fat Lady Slims contains some painful secrets which many readers will find familiar. The book also includes material covering the dangers of sugar, information on how to use Debbie's method alongside traditional dieting and endorsements from successful slimmers. “Debbie Flint’s honest account of what she went through will hit home to every yo-yo dieter out there. Life-changing and well-worth reading. Till the Fat Lady Slims is in my view absolutely BRILLIANT!” It’s published (rather ironically, I feel) by Choc Lit in January.
Guy Fraser-Sampson is an established writer, having published not only fiction but also books on a diverse range of subjects: his darkly disturbing economic history The Mess We're In was nominated for the Orwell Prize and his Mapp and Lucia novels have all been optioned by BBC TV. Death in Profile which was published this year was a truly original crime story harking back to the Golden Age of detective fiction yet speaking to a contemporary audience, and was much praised. Ruth Dugdall, CWA Debut Dagger Winner called it “classy and sophisticated … if you thought the Golden Age of crime writing was dead, then read this.”  So I’m really looking forward to the second in the Hampstead Murder series:  Miss Christie Regrets (978 1911331803, £7.99, pb) which is published by Urbane in January. It opens with a sudden death at an iconic local venue, which some of the team believe may be a connected with an unsolved murder featuring Cold War betrayals worthy of George Smiley and soon emerges that none other than Agatha Christie herself may be the key witness who is able to provide the missing link. On one level a classic whodunit, this quirky and intelligent read harks back not only to the world of Agatha Christie, but also to the Cold War thrillers of John Le Carré, making it a worthy successor to Death in Profile which was dubbed “a love letter to the detective novel”.
Well, I can’t resist it, who are the top ten fictional detectives? Sherlock, of course – and maybe Dick Tracy, Hercule Poirot or Philip Marlowe? Have a look here to see if your favourite sleuths are there!


Here’s something to cheer up your customers at a time of year when we can all be feeling a bit down: 100 Ways to be Chirpy by George Brazel is an excellent way to beat the January blues. George Brazel is a trained and experienced psychiatrist who spent two years living with Buddhist monks in Tibet before embarking on a life of offering advice and wisdom to patience in his New York practice. This short and sweet little hardback (£6.99, 978-1906251796, hb) is the first in a new series of in-a-nutshell books to inspire and guide published by Little Books. Future titles will include 100 Ways to Get to Sleep, 100 Ways to Relax, 100 Ways to Stay Young and 100 Ways to be Thin. Full of practical tips and a zen-like simplicity, 100 Ways to be Chirpy contains all you need to know to get your life on track and find out how to be a glass half-full rather than half-empty person.
And until that comes out in January, I usually find that this does the trick to cheer me up: all together now: “life’s a piece of…”

Or, as my son has just pointed out to me, this would be an even better choice of song to finish with! Thanks Sam, perhaps you'd like to take over writing the blog!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. This week in celebration of the somewhat unreal news we’ve had this year, we bring you a selection of news tweets from @TheDailyMash.
Daring non-conformist’s favourite Christmas song. An amazing non-conformist has shocked friends and colleagues by revealing his favourite Christmas song is the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York
Last piece of actual work this year to be completed by 3pm. Office workers across Britain have confirmed that absolutely nothing of consequence will be done next week.
Twenty percent of all children are Mick Jagger's. Mick Jagger is responsible for 20 percent of all human births, say researchers.
Guardian begins annual ruining of Christmas. The Guardian newspaper has launched its annual appeal to make you feel dreadful about Christmas.
Brexiters confident obscure local problems will be in government plan. Thousands are convinced Brexit will solve their weird local grievances like their local town centre being full of manky pigeons, or people skateboarding on pavements.
Lunatic buys shitload of Christmas presents for baby. A man has spent a ridiculous amount of money on Christmas gifts for his six-month-old son.
Vinyl sales overtake sales of food. More vinyl albums are being sold than food, because owning records is more important than eating.
Attractive colleague given inappropriately expensive gift. Awkwardness has descended on an office after a man bought an expensive Christmas gift for a female colleague, it has emerged.
Amazon to just put random items in your house then force you to pay for them. Amazon NoChoice is a new service where non-chosen, non-returnable items arrive overnight, with charges automatically debited from your bank account.
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
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