Friday, 9 February 2018

Compass Points 249

Nuclear submarines. Secretive and intriguing, staying on their stealthy watch deep in the oceans, and keeping the world safe. On Her Majesty’s Nuclear Service by Eric Thompson (hb, £19.99, 978 1612005713) is published by Casemate on 28 February and is an absolutely riveting inside story of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, revealing the undisclosed life of submarines and those who serve on them. Eric Thompson MBE is a career nuclear submarine officer who served from the first days of the Polaris missile boats until after the end of the Cold War; when nuclear submarines performed the greatest public service of all: prevention of a third world war. History shows that they succeeded; but for security reasons, only now can this story be told. In this vivid personal account of his submarine operations, Eric reveals what it was like to literally have your finger on the nuclear button. He leads the reader through top-secret submarine patrols, hush-hush scientific trials, underwater weapon developments, public relations battles with nuclear protesters, arm-wrestling with politicians and the changing roles in the Navy for women and those in the LGBT community. It is essentially a human story, rich in both drama and comedy, like the Russian spy trawler that played dance music at passing submarines. This sounds terrific, and unsurprisingly there is lots of publicity coming up. Casemate posted a blog piece with an extract from the book on exactly how submarines deal with what we will refer to as “sewage” – you can read that here – this post then went viral on Facebook! War History Online (which have 1.7 million likes on Facebook) have several articles commissioned by Eric coming up, and he will be appearing on two TV programmes on STV in Scotland: Live at Five and People’s History on 27 February. He’s being interviewed by Dan Snow for his History Hit channel about the book, and that interview will appear later this month. There will be a feature article in the Daily Record (Scotland’s most read newspaper) in late February – and there’s a launch for the book in Helensburgh on 13th March. Loads of feature and review coverage in the navy mags of course – including Warships International, Navy News, Naval Review, RNA Monthly Circular and Baird Maritime and an extract will be appearing in the ARNO yearbook (6,500 members) which will be out on February 28th. Eric will be interviewed on February 28th for Talk Radio Europe. This is a genuinely captivating book with the potential for a widespread readership as the subject matter is fascinating and Eric Thompson writes in a style that is both highly informed and also very personal. His MBE was awarded for leadership during a submarine emergency on patrol.
Top ten submarine films anyone? Dive dive dive!

Many congratulations to five bright young things who are “roaring through their 20s” at Comma and Jessica Kingsley and have just been shortlisted for a London Book Fair Trailblazer Award 2018. This award celebrates 30 young, talented publishing professionals under 30 all of whom “are demonstrating innovation and ambition in the book industry.” From Comma, Becky Harrison and Sarah Cleave are on the list and from JKP it’s Alexandra Holmes, Lily Bowden and William Horsnell whose stars are burning particularly brightly! The Awards, now in their third year, are run in partnership with the Publishers Association and supported by the Society of Young Publishers and BookBrunch. Five winners will be selected by a judging panel and announced at a ceremony at the Groucho Club (of course!) on 26th February, hosted by the London Book Fair and the SYP. You can see the full shortlist here.

Voting Brexit was a “Scream Of Protest Against The Rich's Hijacking Of Democracy” says Victor J Seidler author of Making Sense of Brexit (978 1447345206, £14.99) in a very thought provoking article in the Huffington Post, which you can read here. All excellent publicity for his new book, which has just been published by Policy Press. This open and accessible book addresses the causes and implications of Brexit, exploring this moral anger against political elites and people feeling estranged from a political process and economic system. It engages with everyday ethical and political questions that are being raised by unfolding events – including looking at Trump and the connections between the Brexit vote and his campaign. I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more from Victor J Seidler! In recent years his thought provoking writing and research have focused on the cultural memory of particular events and the ways they might challenge traditional social and cultural languages. Jon Cruddas, MP said of this title that “above all it speaks to the need for a renewed, democratic sense of justice; one that can include, unite and inspire. Seidler speaks of the thing that we need most – hope."

Nice piece in the Bookseller this week on our lovely friends at Devon-based indie publisher Impress Books which you can read here. They mention the excellent Widdershins by Helen Steadman (£8.99, pb, 978 1911293040) which came out last year – if you haven’t yet read this compelling historical novel about witch hunting and witch trials I urge you to order it – it had superb reviews and is selling well.

A century after women first won the right to vote in the UK, this week everyone has been paying tribute to the women who helped to force a change in the law. The hashtag #100Years trended worldwide; some celebrated the contribution of women who campaigned for the right to vote while others marked the occasion by highlighting work still to be done. Pluto has three important titles on three important women. Firstly, Sylvia Pankhurst Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire by Katherine Connelly (pb, 978 0745333229, £14.99). This is a lively and accessible biography on the most controversial and radical of all the suffragettes Katherine Connelly guides us through Pankhurst’s construction of a suffragette militancy which put working-class women at the heart of the struggle, her championing of the Bolshevik Revolution and her clandestine attempts to sabotage the actions of the British state, as well as her early identification of the dangers of Fascism. The book explores the dilemmas, debates and often painful personal consequences faced by Pankhurst and presents her as a courageous and inspiring campaigner, of huge relevance to those engaged in social movements today. Next, Ellen Wilkinson: From Red Suffragist to Government Minister by Paula Bartley (978 0745332376, £14.99, pb) makes a passionate case for the relevance of ‘Red Ellen’ to the twenty-first century. It is a vivid portrait of one of Britain’s first women MPs and Minister in the 1945 Labour government. Like the previous title, it is part of Pluto’s best-selling Revolutionary Lives series. Finally, Friends of Alice Wheeldon The Anti-War Activist Accused of Plotting to Kill Lloyd George (pb, 978 0745335759 £17.99) by Sheila Rowbotham is an intense, claustrophobic play about a show-trial of an innocent woman at the height of the First World War. First published nearly thirty years ago, this edition points readers to subsequent research into the case and the ongoing campaign to clear the name of Alice Wheeldon, containing an extended essay which explores the context and politics behind the play’s action.

On the same theme, The Stalled Revolution: Is Equality for Women an Impossible Dream? (£26.99, pb, 978 1787146020) is gaining a lot of media attention at present. Fifty years ago, the Women’s Liberation Movement began a sustained campaign for equal rights and in this book (just published by Emerald) Eva Tutchell and John Edmonds draw upon historical perspectives and contemporary interviews to convey what it felt like to be in the heart of the campaigns―the excitement, the solidarity, the suffering and the humour. They argue that tragically, after hard-won successes, the revolution has stalled and equality for women is still a distant dream. Today men are paid more and occupy nearly 80% of the most powerful jobs across society, so The Stalled Revolution asks whether women are now ready to draw inspiration from past successes and take a third leap forward towards equality? It showcases how the wisdom from our collective struggles can help form the bedrock of a new and successful liberation campaign today. John Edmonds appeared as a guest on BBC1’s The Big Questions on 4th Feb talking about this and Eva Tuchell was on The Book Hour on The Andrew Edwards Show. Both authors were also on BBC London’s Breakfast show talking to Vanessa Feltz about the book on Tuesday.

They say the first rule of politics is never to resign. But since when have politicians ever followed the rules?! Fighters and Quitters: Great Political Resignations (£20, hb, 978 1785901041) by Theo Barclay is a roaring dash through the most sensational political resignations of the past century charting the scandals, controversies and cock-ups that forced key players to quit. Each chapter focuses on a different episode, from the former minister who faked his own death in the 1970s to Chris Huhne's swift journey from despatch box to jail cell in the 2010s. The book also examines the swathe of sex and spy scandals that have killed dreams of high office, from peers busted in bed with prostitutes to MPs caught cavorting in public parks, and, of course, the Profumo affair. Who jumped and who was pushed? Who battled to stay in post and who collapsed at the first hint of pressure? Who came back, Lazarus-like, after their resignation for a second act? From ignominious surrenders to principled departures, it reveals the tales of the politicians who fell on their swords and explores the reasons why they did. This has had some super publicity, with pieces appearing in the Telegraph, Spectator, Independent, The Times and London Evening Standard Diary with lots more to come! Theo has also been talking about the book on Sky News, All Out Politics and in the Times, Red Box podcast. Fighters and Quitters is out this week from Biteback.

Two Carcanet titles: The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx by Tara Bergin (pb, £9.99, 978 1784103804) and The President of Planet Earth by David Wheatley (£12.99, pb, 978 1784104207) are on the Irish Times Poetry Now Award shortlist – hurrah! The winner of the annual €2,000 prize will be announced at the Mountains to Sea Poetry Now Festival in Dun Laoghaire on March 24th.You can see the full shortlist and find out more about the award here.

We were so pleased to hear that Istanbul, Istanbul by Burhan Sonmez translated by Ümit Hussein (978 1846592058, pb, £8.99) has just been shortlisted for a brand-new Literature Prize. The British Council and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have launched this €20,000 award to promote the “extraordinary richness” of the culture and history of the bank’s countries. It will be awarded to the year’s best work of literary fiction translated into English and originally written in any language of the EBRD’s 37 countries of operations, coming from a UK publisher. You can find out more in the Bookseller here.  Istanbul, Istanbul is a profoundly moving novel about the transformative power of words in times of desperation, and is inspired by the Turkish author’s own experiences when he was imprisoned after a military coup The Reader's Digest said it was “destined to become a classic.” It opens deep below the ancient streets of Istanbul where four prisoners –Demirtay the student, the doctor, Kamo the barber and Uncle Küheylan – sit, awaiting their turn at the hands of their wardens. When they are not subject to unimaginable violence, the condemned tell one another stories about the city, shaded with love and humour, to pass the time. Quiet laughter is their balm, delivered through parables and riddles. Gradually, the prisoners’ underground narrative turns into a narrative of Istanbul itself, and we discover there is as much suffering and hope in the city above-ground as there is in the cells below. It is published by Telegram.

In some ways linked to this title, comes a new inspirational self-help book from Hay House. The World is a Nice Place: How to Overcome Adversity, Joyfully (9781401950873, £12.99, pb). It is written by international journalist Amy Molloy who spent over a decade interviewing amazing people who've survived incredible challenges –  from terrorism attacks, to natural disasters, loss, grief, breakups, and breakdowns. As a 'serial survivor' herself, Amy wanted to discover the secret formula that allows some people to move forward after difficulty, without letting it become their entire identity. This insightful and honest book, the product of ten years' research, combines personal anecdotes with practical tools to help readers explore their memories, pinpoint their triggers and use their past to empower, inspire and guide them. When life is hard, The World is a Nice Place offers a new way of thinking. Amy Molloy is writing an article for the Observer about this, which will come out around publication day on 3 April. The World is a Nice Place is published by Hay House.

The longlist for the 2018 Dylan Thomas Prize has just been announced, and hooray, James Womack is on it with his Carcanet collection On Trust: A Book of Lies (pb, £9.99, 978 1784104160). This book of lying monologues plays with the idea that confession is not necessarily truthful. The shortlist of six books will be revealed at the end of March and the winner will be announced on Thursday 10th May 2018 at Swansea University’s Great Hall, in the run up to International Dylan Thomas Day on 14 May. You can find out more about the prize here.

The Juice has been back in the news recently as lawyers demand that OJ Simpson hand over any profits he’s made from signing autographs but then he apparently “begs” the family of Ron Goldman to stop dragging him to court over every “unconfirmed rumour” that he's now living the high life in Vegas. If this is a story that floats your boat, you can read more here and here. Whatever your views on the ex-con, this is a good opportunity to sell a few more of If I Did It (978 1783341290 £8.99 pb) which is now available in a new reprint, with a new cover. This world-famous, real crime book written by OJ Simpson, which Mark Lawson on BBC Front Row said was “impossible to read other than as a confession” was described as “stunning” by the Observer, “explosive” by the Mail on Sunday and “chilling” by Simon Mayo. It’s published by Gibson Square.

As you probably know, it’s LGBT History Month. Now in its 14th year this is a month-long annual event that celebrates the history and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people every February in the UK and aims to inspire organisations and communities to celebrate LGBT culture. You can find out more at Jessica Kingsley are your go-to publishers for gender diversity of course – and you can find a full list of their forthcoming and recently published titles here. A few key titles from recent months are To My Trans Sisters (978 1785923432), First Year Out: A Transition Story (978 1785922589), Gender Diversity and Non-Binary Inclusion in the Workplace (978 1785922442) and How To Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide for Exploring Who You Are (978 1785927461).

Happy publication day to Sweet Days of Discipline (£8.99, pb, 978-1911508182) – you see here a fantastic display for it at Foyles in Waterloo. Set in post-war Switzerland, Fleur Jaeggy's novel begins simply and innocently enough: “At fourteen I was a boarder in a school in the Appenzell”. But there is nothing truly simple or innocent here. With the offhanded knowingness of a remorseless young Eve, the narrator describes life as a captive of the school and her designs to win the affections of the seemingly perfect new girl, Frederique. As she broods over her schemes as well as on the nature of control and madness, the novel gathers a suspended, unsettling energy. In its Italian original this novel won the Premio Bagutta and the Premio Speciale Rapallo. Newsday said “How a novel could be so chilly and so passionate at the same time is a puzzle, but that icy-hot quality is only one of the distinctions of Sweet Days of Discipline while the New York Review of Books called it “startling and original-so disturbing and so haunting.” It’s published by And Other Stories.

Ooh – how many great songs are there with Sweet in the title? My top five? Well, I’m NOT choosing Sweet Caroline but I do love this  from Anita Baker, this from George Harrison, this from Jnr Walker and the All Stars and this  from Chuck Berry. But my number one has got to be this gem from 1927!

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers – and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

Friday, 2 February 2018

Compass Points 248

A year ago, as one of his first official acts as President, Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13769. The order banned anyone travelling from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – from entering the United States. “We don’t want them here” Trump said. In response, Comma Press have just published Banthology (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974360); a collection of short stories by writers from the seven countries included in the ban. Subtitled Stories from Unwanted Nations, Comma says the book “seeks to champion, and give voice to, a set of nations that the White House would like us to believe are populated entirely by terrorists.” Banthology is comprised of seven stories, one from each country, and is translated from the authors’ original languages. The stories vary in style and tone, ranging from satire to literary realism to allegory, but each one examines the personal and emotional impact of the restriction of freedom. “We wanted the book to encourage debate and discussion, and deliberately chose writers who have been affected directly or indirectly by the ban,” says one of the book’s editors, Sarah Cleave. “One of the authors, Anoud, moved to New York from Iraq just a month before the first travel ban came into place, and was, like many others, scared to leave in case she wasn’t allowed to return.” The majority of authors featured in Banthology are not only writers, but also journalists and activists who have long advocated for freedom of expression. As you would expect, there has been loads of great publicity for this title! You can read a brilliant interview with Sarah and the US publisher in Literary Hub, here. The State of the Arts said “this is finely spun magical realism to rival the likes of Borges and García-Márquez.”  The Skinny gave it a 4* review, saying  “Banthology aims to give voice to and better understand a set of nations who have been writ off in one sweeping stereotype, and it does so. Those in power try to silence many voices – this is a triumphant refusal to let that happen.” And the collection was included in BookBlast's Top 10 Reads for Independent Minds saying "The writing is varied, vibrant and superb. The collection brings together a brilliant line up of writers I have not read before"  – you can read that article here. This was a brilliant idea for a book – and as you can see from the reviews, it has been brilliantly executed and stands up on literary merits as well as being, as Sarah says “a way to fight for precarious rights we often take for granted.”

It’s Muriel Spark’s 100th birthday this week and Polygon’s Spark Centenary celebrations are going magnificently! This week saw a fantastic Crème de la Crème event in a jam-packed Usher Hall in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Book Festival starring Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Nicola Sturgeon! And this is only the beginning of the celebrations for Muriel Spark’s centenary year with more events planned at book festivals, film festivals, schools, universities, bookshops, libraries and galleries across the UK and beyond. To catch up on all things #MurielSpark100, please visit the website And do listen here to the latest Hitchhikers Guide to Scottish Literature podcast – which features all things Sparky! You can get all the bibliographic info on all twenty-two of the new Polygon hardback centenary editions here.  Ali Smith wrote recently; “I long for Spark right now, the knowing Spark smile in the era of Trump." We quite agree Ali – you can read that Guardian article here.  

Here's an interesting Guardian piece discussing how disability is portrayed in books and plays; and how from Richard III to Captain Ahab, literature reveals much about how we treat disabilities. And here's  a great piece from Jessica Kingsley author Richy K Chandler talking through the challenges that come with creating diverse characters in stories, and why it is so important to do.

All at Sea by Julian Sayarer (£9.99, pb, 978 1911350231) has just been confirmed as the March Book of the Month in Geographical Magazine – and there’s a review coming up in the Daily Telegraph too. Julian Sayarer was the winner of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year in 2016 for Interstate (£8.99, pb, 978 1910050934) and this new title about his adventures in Thailand looks equally enthralling. Julian travels to the small island of Surin, near the naval border of Thailand and Myanmar, and hears the stories of an indigenous people known as Moken 'sea gypsies' who struggle to maintain the same timeless existence as their ancestors. It’s published by Arcadia.

Those of us who love animals often believe that our pets know more about us than we realise. Gordon Smith is a well-known medium, and in his new title Animal Magic: The Extraordinary Proof of Our Pets' Intuition and Unconditional Love for Us (978 1781170635, pb, £10.99) he recounts some of the remarkable experiences that people have had with animals – both in the spirit world and our own. In this extraordinary book you can read about pets who saved their owners' lives, moving accounts of dogs who know intuitively when their owners are coming home, and animals who have found ways of proving they are still with their families after death. Through these amazing stories, Gordon shows just how deeply animals care for their human families and the profound understanding they have of the world around them. Animal Magic is currently the number one Amazon bestseller in the category of New Age Reincarnation – who even knew that WAS a category?! Throughout the book, Gordon shares his own experiences with his springer spaniel 'Cheeky' Charlie, who came into his life unexpectedly, completely overturning it! Animal Magic has been featured recently in the Daily Express and Chat It’s Fate and Gordon was talking about it on ITV’s This Morning this Tuesday (30th Jan). Gordon will also be on Talk Radio on 5th February. Animal Magic has just been published by Hay House.

Great piece in the Independent on Burns night on Nan Shepherd entitled “Move aside Robert Burns, it's time to celebrate Scotland's identity with a woman” which you can read here . It featured Into the Mountain by Charlotte Peacock (£20, hb, 978 1903385562) – the first biography of Nan Shepherd who is of course featured on the Scottish £5. This title, which is published by Galileo unravels some of the mysteries, dispels some of the rumours and gives insight into the life and work of this perceptive and intensely private woman.

There’s a nice article on Abandoned Wrecks in BLOC magazine this month – which is read by airline travellers coming in and out of Gatwick. It includes lots of the beautiful and evocative photographs which you can see at here, click on page 40 onwards. Abandoned Wrecks (hb, £19.99, 978 1782745204) explores 150 fascinating sites from all around the world and across centuries of history. Aside from the peculiar beauty of rusting hulks on forgotten battlefields, anemone-covered battleships on the seabed and cars being consumed by forests; the images and text introduce us to some fascinating stories in haunting style, showcasing these battered time capsules and their stories of wars, natural disasters and changing fortunes. It is published by Amber.

With the news this week of the death of Ingvar Kamprad the founder of IKEA; this is a good chance to sell some more copies of The Truth about IKEA (978 1908096074, £9.99, pb) which is published by Gibson Square. In it, Johan Stenebo reveals in close-up detail the brilliance of the flatpack giant in growing its business, as well as where it fell short of its green ideals, exposing the nepotism and murky financial dealings behind Sweden’s iconic export. Casting an insider’s eye over the practical application of the ‘IKEA philosophy,’ Stenebo provides an exclusive view inside this successful profit machine, and how Ingvar Kamprad secretly became one of the world’s richest men. The Financial Times called it “racy”, the Guardian “explosive”. Johan Stenebo was a key IKEA director for over twenty years and one of Ingvar Kamprad’s closest collaborators.

Owen Lowery has received £2,800 from the Royal Society of Literature as part of their Literature Matters Awards for his proposed project R. S. Thomas for a New Generation: The Poet Prevails. The project is a production of poetry, music and film, inspired by the poetry of R. S. Thomas and in Jonathan Keates’s, view this “mixed-media homage to R. S. Thomas is a tribute long overdue, celebrating one of Wales’s most idiosyncratic and sharply-defined poetic voices.” You can read more about it here and also here  in the Bookseller. Owen’s own poetry collection Otherwise Unchanged (pb, £9.95, 978 1847772008) is published by Carcanet.

With all the publicity surrounding The Darkest Hour, there has been a surge of interest in all things Churchillian – and one of the most authoritative titles is Churchill Warrior: How a Military Life Guided Winston's Finest Hours by Brian Lavery which was published recently by Casemate (hb, 978 1910860229, £25). Forces News commissioned an article from Brian entitled Darkest Hour: How Much of it is True? which you can read here which has been much shared on social media. Brian Lavery is a renowned maritime and military Sunday Times bestselling history author and has written a fascinating and complete overview of how Churchill's military experiences and experience of command enabled him to lead Britain to victory. It covers his childhood, education, the First World War, the inter-war period and the events of the Second World War, including of course, the darkest hour. Military History Monthly have also commissioned an article on Churchill by Brian which will refer to the book.

Who’s watching the documentary Working Class White Men on Channel 4 where Professor Green explores why many working class white men in Britain feel demonised, forgotten and angry. It’s really interesting; you can catch up here. Social class remains a fundamental presence in British life in the twenty first century, woven into the very fabric of political discourse and undiminished by the end of mass industry. Three of our publishers have books on this very subject coming up this Spring. The New Working Class: How to Win Hearts, Minds and Votes by Claire Ainsley (pb, 978 1447344186, £12.99) is coming from Policy Press in March. The majority of people in the UK still identify as working class, yet no political party today can confidently articulate their interests. So, who is now working class and how do political parties gain their support? Based on the opinions and voices of lower and middle-income voters, this insightful book proposes what needs to be done for political parties to reconnect with the electorate and regain trust. This will specifically appeal to readers interested in whether the Conservatives can find a way into former Labour areas and is the first book, based on the opinions and voices of low income voters. It identifies the ‘new working class’, a key demographic looking to the 2020 election and Brexit.  Class Matters: Inequality and Exploitation in 21st Century Britain by Charles Umney (pb, 9780745337081, £18.99) is a provocative critique of widespread popular assumptions regarding class which reasserts the importance of a Marxist framework for understanding pressing issues of inequality today. Charles Umney brings Marxist analysis out of the 19th century textiles mill, and into the call centres, office blocks and fast food chains of modern Britain. It is published by Pluto in May. And finally, The Working Class: Poverty, Education and Alternative Voices by Ian Gilbert (pb, £24.99, 9781781352786) draws together educators from across the UK who call on all those working with young people to adopt a new approach to children in challenging circumstances. When it comes to the education of children living in poverty there has been a great deal of talk about resilience and the drive for social mobility. Yet such terms are also part of a narrative which puts all the onus on young people to ‘pull themselves up’ or else accept their fate among the ranks of the ‘feckless poor’. This unique collaboration challenges this destructive narrative and calls on all those working with disadvantaged children to adopt a more enlightened, empathetic and practical approach. It’s coming in March from Crown House. There’s a blog and even a Spotify playlist to go with this book – which is an idea I like VERY much – you can access that here.  

Both the Waitrose food trend predictions and the Trendspotter Panel of the Specialty Foods Association are tipping black-hued products as a major trend for 2018  –  a reaction apparently to the unicorn and rainbow trends of the past few years! Top of the “blacklist” is liquorice. Hailed the latest superfood with benefits listed as helping fight depression and menopause symptoms, it comes from the root of a plant that’s been shown to fight inflammation and viral infections, not to mention constipation. It is used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and is said to calm stomachs, open lungs, and ease minds and some are saying that it might be one of the most overlooked natural remedies to digestive health there is. So, this is the perfect time for Lorenz to be publishing Liquorice: A Cookbook: From Sticks to Syrup: Delicious Sweet and Savoury Recipes by Carol Wilson (hb, £10, 978 0754833659) which is published on 10 February. With gorgeous photographs by Nicki Dowey, the reader is expertly guided through the different products – roots, sticks, powder, syrups and essence - and shown which to use and when. This brilliantly priced hardback is both a fascinating history, and a treasure trove of recipes that will appeal even to people who say they don't like liquorice! Learn how to create a sumptuous liquorice cheesecake, choc chip muffins with liquorice buttercream, liquorice macarons and liquorice brownies as well as lots of tips on using liquorice in savoury dishes such as a glaze for chicken and roast pork, as a distinctive salad dressing, in a crisped topping for fish, and in drinks and preserves.

That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers – and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

Friday, 26 January 2018

Compass Points 247

Getting more wildness into our lives is a huge trend at present – whether it’s camping in ever more exotic locations, trekking off to new horizons, or simply being mindful in a forest – and Wild Things Publishing have been right at the forefront of this movement! The Scottish Bothy Bible was a particular success story last year, but the whole list has had a stonking 2017 as you may have read in the Bookseller recently. You can remind yourself of all the titles on their website here. We can’t wait for the Wild Guide to Wales and Marches (978 1910636145, £16.99, pb) which promises to reveal the hidden places, great adventures and the good life in Wales, Herefordshire and Shropshire. It’s out on 1 May and this new compendium of adventures will guide the discerning explorer or adventurous family to over 800 wild swims, ancient forests, lost ruins and hidden beaches. As always, there’s plenty of mesmerising photography and its packed with practical information including GPX co-ordinates and 25 maps. Wales and the Welsh Marches is one of Europe's fastest growing adventure holiday destinations and I think this super-inspiring publisher is going to have another bestseller on their hands with this new title. Wild Things – we think we love you! 

Talking of which, have a read here to find out more about the story behind the simple lyrics and immediately recognisable guitar riff of one of the most memorable songs ever – written in 1965 and most famously performed by the Troggs a year later.

Can you imagine sitting down with your husband and the father of your two small children and telling him “The idea of having sex just with you for the next 40 years – I can’t do it” Author Anita Cassidy did just that when she realised her life was built around something she didn’t believe in: monogamy. Read this fascinating piece  in the Guardian on Discovering my true sexual self: Why I Embraced Polyamory – ideas which are explored in Anita’s debut novel Appetite (£8.99, 978-1910453476, pb) which you see here looking mighty fine on the shelves of WHS Victoria! Anita says “I’m a writer, a relationship radical, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a friend. I am also a lover of old books, new music and (mostly) clean food. Whilst I understand the limitations of labels, I do identify as bi-sexual, polyamorous, kinky. Above all else, I am curious about everything: about life, about learning and about love.” Appetite is published by Red Door.

2018 was meant to be the “year of publishing women”, after the novelist Kamila Shamsie challenged the books industry to publish no new titles by men for a year, in order to “redress the inequality” of the literary world. In the end, our wonderful friends at And Other Stories were the only ones to rise to her challenge – you can read the whole story in the Guardian here.

What’s your favourite tree? I think most of us have one – the one we go out of our way to look at when it’s in blossom or the one that looks especially stunning on a bright autumnal morning. Have a look here in Time Out to see the picks of author Paul Wood – and you can see more in his brilliant book London’s Street Trees: A Field Guide to the Urban Forest (£12.99, pb, 978 0993291135). Loads more stuff on this over on Twitter @The StreetTree and Paul posts daily pics on Instagram too! It’s published by Safe Haven.

“Destined to become one of the greats...This is not hyperbole: it's a masterpiece” and “I have never read a novel about Kenya that's so funny, perceptive, subversive and sly.” are just two of the rave US reviews for Dance of the Jakaranda (978 184659209, £8.99, pb) by Peter Kimani which will be published by Telegram in the UK on 5 March. Dance of the Jakaranda is set in Kenya against a backdrop of British colonisation and I’m pleased to tell you that here is an extensive publicity campaign planned for this important and award-winning author. Peter Kimani will be in the UK from 10-17 March 2018 for events, radio and print interviews; so far a feature in the Guardian, an interview on BBC World Service and also an interview on BBC Radio 4 Open Book are confirmed. There’s also been great feedback from theTLS and other media, so we’re expecting strong review coverage. The novel opens in 1963 when Kenya is on the verge of independence from British colonial rule. In the Great Rift Valley, Kenyans of all backgrounds come together in the previously white-only establishment of the Jakaranda Hotel. The resident musician is Rajan Salim, who charms visitors with songs inspired by his grandfather’s noble stories of the railway construction that spawned the Kenya they now know. If any bookseller would like a readying copy then please contact – or if you’d be interested in book signings – Peter is already going to London, Cambridge and Bristol. There are some promotional bookmarks up for grabs too!

Whew, there’s quite the spat developing in the poetry world this week! Carcanet poet Rebecca Watts took to the pages of PN Review to lay out her disdain for “the cult of the noble amateur”, and her despair at the effect of social media on poetry. It is a stinging critique of the “rise of a cohort of young female poets” led by the likes of Kate Tempest, Hollie McNish and Rupi Kaur, describing their work as characterised by “the open denigration of intellectual engagement and rejection of craft”. The essay has split the poetry establishment, with some praising it as “stonking stuff” and “brilliant”. PN Review editor and Carcanet publisher Michael Schmidt said that “many of our readers seem relieved that literary criticism is at last being applied to writing that has, hitherto, been welcomed with open arms by journalists because it is easy to read, and contains few challenges.” You can read the original piece together with Hollie McNish’s reponse to it here. Over on Twitter it all kicked off big time, with many slamming Rebecca for what they perceive as “elitist” and “snobbish” attitudes. The response on Facebook was a little more measured; with poet Lemn Sissay saying for example: “There’s room for all forms of poetry. And whichever side you’re on, it’s foolish to say there isn’t.” Here's an article about it in the Guardian, and Rebecca was on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row programme last night, talking about the controversy – you can listen to that on the iPlayer here.  Whatever your opinion, it’s certainly provided some terrific publicity for both poetry, and Carcanet – and since the since the hullabaloo, both PN Review’s and Carcanet’s Twitter followers have increased – Jenny Éclair tweeted yesterday “Whoa that was intense #poetry.” 
Rebecca Watts debut collection The Met Office Advises Caution (pb, £9.99, 978 1784102722) was published by Carcanet in 2016. It is a witty, warm-hearted guide to the English landscape, and a fresh, assured take on nature poetry. With an original point of view and an openness to the possibilities of form, Rebecca retunes the genre for modern ears.

Teaching Creative Thinking (£16.99, pb, 978 1785832369) by Bill Lucas and Ellen Spencer is currently a Staff Pick in Foyles, and as they say is “incredibly clear and practical … a treasure trove for those who want children to think creatively and appreciate that this is a skill that can be taught.” I’m sure Bill and Ellen’s new book in this series coming in April should do equally well. Developing Tenacity: Creating Learners who Persevere in the Face of Difficulty is a both a powerful call to action and a practical handbook. The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility recently proposed the adoption by schools of specific interventions in the areas of resilience and character; meanwhile, across in the US, an end-of-high-school ‘score’ for grit is also being considered. In line with this growing consensus, an increasing body of evidence suggests that cultivating these competencies is key to success both in school and in later life. Developing Tenacity (pb, £16.99, 978 1785833038) defines and demystifies the essence of resolve and persistence, and offers action-oriented and research-informed suggestions as to how it can best be developed in learners. Both titles are published by Crown House.

It often feels that our society views human beings as either useful or not and, once we have outlived our usefulness, we become a burden. All too often, the elderly are left to stagnate, their minds fading away from boredom and repetition. This is the theme of A Rock and a High Place (£8.99, pb, 978 1787198852) from dark comedy novelist Dan Mooney (whose debut title Me, Myself and Them was published last year). The novel begins with our widowed hero Joel bored and depressed with his lot, in both life and his nursing home. To bring agency into his life, he decides to kill himself. He shares his plans with the newest resident, a retired flamboyant soap actor called Frank, and the two of them embark on a mission to find the perfect suicide. Along the way, they discover the strength within themselves and the power of friendship. The book has recently been reviewed by The Bookbag who called it “a brilliant rallying cry to society filled with wonderful characters and a brilliant British humour”; you can read the full review here. It’s out from Legend Press in April.

Vegan cooking is all set to be one of THE major trends for 2018 – and there will no doubt be loads of vegan cookbooks out their vying for your attention. However, Cooking for the Senses: Vegan Neurogastronomy (hb, £25.00, 978 1848193000) by Jennifer Peace Rhind and Gregor Law does something slightly different. An alternative way of looking at food, this fully illustrated hardback introduces neurogastronomy and explains how understanding smell, taste and our other senses can be the key to making tasty, healthy food in your own kitchen. The authors explain the science of flavour and provide guidance on how to train your palate and be more mindful in the kitchen. This cookbook will inspire you with a practical flavour guide to a wide range of plant ingredients, and over 100 delicious vegan recipes for everyone that reflect neurogastronomy in action. Seasoned with tales of the authors' own culinary experiences, this first book on neurogastronomy for the home cook is bursting with flavour. And having seen a finished copy recently I can tell you it looks absolutely gorgeous! Wake up to creamy avocado with fragrant orange pepper seasoning and green Tabasco dressing, snack on sweet and citrusy carrot and lime leaf kebabs and curl up with a warming bowl of butternut squash and spinach curry! It’s published by Jessica Kingsley on 21 February.

Some wonderful reviews for Nicola Pugliese’s Malacqua (978 1911508069, £10, pb) which was published by And Other Stories at the end of last year. The Financial Times called it “a beautiful and haunting exploration of life at a meteorological extreme” while the New Statesman wrote “Malacqua is a brooding novel, with flashes of brilliance … Pugliese’s narrative is epic in intent, [combining] reportage with nightmarish indications of the insidiousness of the new waterscape, absurdism and phantasmagoria.” And Boyd Tonkinsaid “This rediscovered classic has a back-story almost as uncanny as its mood. The skies clear, but the mystery lingers in this clammily unsettling tale.”
Brexit and Beyond: Rethinking the Futures of Europe (pb, 978 1787352766, £15) by Benjamin Martill and Uta Staiger was praised in the Telegraph this week. Most of the discussion of Brexit in the UK has focused on the causes of the vote and on its consequences for the future of British politics, but this book examines the consequences of Brexit for the future of Europe and the EU. Drawing on the expertise of leading scholars from a range of disciplines, Brexit and Beyond charts the likely effects of Brexit across a range of areas, including institutional relations, political economy, law and justice, foreign affairs, democratic governance, and the idea of Europe itself. It has been widely praised, with academics calling it a “must read” and a “much needed scholarly guidepost”. The LSE said “This book explores wonderfully well the bombshell of Brexit: …this collection of essays by leading scholars will prove a very valuable reference for their depth of analysis, their lucidity, and their outlining of future options.” It’s just been published by UCL Press.

The Irish Times recently asked a selection of indie publishers to choose one of their top 2018 titles, and New Island Books Editorial Director Daniel Bolger chose Heartland (pb, 978 1848406605) by Patrick McCabe which he described as “a mad, brilliant, fun book – a bloody, boozy Irish western – that doesn’t have a predecessor I know of. A man hiding in the rafters of a dive bar in Glasson County watches a local gang of heavies beat his friend (and accomplice in the ripping-off of Roy Munro). While waiting for their superior to come and finish him off, the story of how he got there and where he ends up slowly comes to light. A bit of a departure, it has Patrick’s trademark dark psychology, simmering violence and emotional torment. This book is a triumph, a redneck sinfonia of rough poetry, humour and humanity by one of Ireland’s greatest and most original writers.” I don’t know about you, but that definitely makes me want to read it! It’s out in April.

On Tuesday, came the sad news that beloved SF writer Ursula Le Guin had died aged 88. Many writers took to Twitter to express their grief and admiration for Le Guin and the ways in which she and her writing changed their lives. Neil Gaiman said that her words are written on his soul and Margaret Atwood praised her "immense imagination, what a strong and trenchant mind."  You can read a summary of the all the acclaim over on Buzzfeed here.

There is absolutely loads in the news at the moment about cyber-attacks – with security chiefs warning that a “major UK cyber-attack is a ‘when, not if' scenario” – you can read about that on the BBC here and also in the Guardian here where they report on the shocking fact that “£130bn was stolen from consumers in 2017.” It sounds like we all definitely need to read Cyber Wars: Hacks That Shocked the Business World by Charles Arthur (978 0749482008, £14.99, pb) which details the dramatic inside stories of some of the world's biggest cyber-attacks as well as advice on how to avoid it happening to you. These are the game changing hacks that make organizations around the world tremble and leaders stop and consider just how safe they really are. Charles Arthur provides a gripping account of why each hack happened, what techniques were used, what the consequences were and how they could have been prevented. This book provides a deep insight into understanding how hackers think as well as giving invaluable advice on staying vigilant and avoiding the security mistakes and oversights that can lead to downfall. A sophisticated malware attack on Sony, a phishing attack on the Clinton campaign and the Talk Talk data leak are all covered here in engrossing and entertaining style – it’s out from Kogan Page on 3 May.

Top Ten Movie Hackers anyone? Have a watch here !

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers – and if you’d like to receive this then please contact