Friday 16 January 2015

Compass Points 111

I think we can safely assume that stories about the forthcoming general election on 7 May will be dominating the media for the next five months – and even if you are already tired of hearing about it, there will be no escaping! What do you make of this week’s announcement by pub landlord Al Murray that he will be standing on behalf of FUKP (Free the UK Party) against Nigel Farage? You can see his highly entertaining 4-minute party political broadcast here on YouTube. Luckily we have Purple Revolution: The Year That Changed Everything (978 1849548632, pb, £9.99) published by Biteback in March, to give us Nigel’s side of the story! This book is not an autobiography, but rather the untold story of the journey UKIP has travelled under Farage’s leadership, from the icy fringes of British politics all the way to Westminster, where it is poised to claim the popular vote. The Purple Revolution details what UKIP would be prepared to accept in the event of a hung parliament. It tells how the party continues to woo politicians from left and right, and, for the first time, reveals exactly how Farage and his supporters have ushered in a very English revolution: secretly courting MPs in the tea rooms and wine bars of the House of Lords. This extraordinary book takes us beyond the caricature of the beer-drinking, chain-smoking adventurer to describe the values that underpin Farage’s own journey; from successful City trader to critic of the European Union and champion of Britain’s right to govern itself, revealing his personal vision for a Britain outside the EU. This book contains major untold insider material told by Nigel Farage himself, and of course there will be a major press campaign featuring author appearances and interviews.

And if you’d like a really intriguing take on  what may or may not happen on 7 May – then do have a look at this brilliantly clear history of every general election since 1945 – in twelve easy to understand graphs – brought to us from The New Statesman – fascinating stuff.

Don’t forget to keep The Art of Being Ill: Or How to Be a Better Patient by Jill Sinclair (pb, £9.99, 978 1908754837) on prominent display in your shop for all of those sniffling snuffling customers who shuffle into your shop dosed up on Lemsip and Night Nurse. I mentioned it last week; it was published last autumn by Freight and is getting tons of publicity at the moment – including a colossal front page spread on the cover of last Saturday’s Telegraph Weekend section– and there is more to come tomorrow. This  hilarious how-to guide teaching readers about the subtle art of being an invalid is also going to be featured in the Independent on Sunday, the Sun , Good Housekeeping and on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio London, and BBC Radio Sussex.

Talking of keeping healthy, I heard Jason Vale yesterday on Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Radio Two, talking about his new book Super Juice Me! A 28-Day Juice Plan by Jason Vale. My goodness me, you could not have got a better plug for this title! The audience for Steve Wright’s show is huge (over 8 million – yes you read that right!!)  and the author spoke persuasively for nearly ten minutes about why everyone should buy this book – all accompanied by massive enthusiasm from Steve Wright and his Big Show team! You can listen to the 8-minute clip on the iplayer here
Jason Vale believes Super Juice Me! is without question the single most effective juice diet yet; and challenges anyone overweight or suffering from a lifestyle disease to try it on for size. To reiterate – nearly one in seven people in Britain will have heard Radio Two’s glowing endorsement for this book – surely we can persuade some of them to buy it! Super Juice Me! A 28-Day Juice Plan (£11.99, pb, 978 0954766450) has just been published by Crown House Publishing and you can find out more and order it here

Frankly just reading about a 28 Day Juice Fast is making me feel a little bit faint, so I think it’s probably time for a cup of coffee, a Yorkie bar – and a sit down with one of the titles from one of our newest publishers, Choc-Lit. Described as” highly readable popular fiction” by the Daily Mail, this publisher promises romantic fiction where “the heroes are like chocolate – irresistible”. It’s always great to have a new publisher in the Compass Team, so a warm welcome to Choc-Lit! This publisher has hit on a savvy scheme to ensure that they are bringing out the well written, highly readable novels their readers want; by insisting on a very rigorous vetting process for every book. 
All prospective titles are sent out electronically to a hundred enthusiastic readers, and only if a title meets with their approval is the novel taken on.  They have clearly hit on a winning formula as the books are devoured by fans – and they have many Romantic Novelist Award winners on their list. As the book bloggers write: “The Choc-lit logo on a book has become a mark of outstanding quality in women's fiction”. 
The first titles you can order from Compass are The Soft Whisper of Dreams by Christina Courtenay (pb, 978 1781892237 £7.99 which is published in March (find out more and order it here) and then there’s The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson (pb, £7.99, 978 1781892244) coming in April which you can find out more about here. The Sun said of it that “the emotional aspect is weighed equally with fantastic humour…thoroughly enjoyable.”

If you want to find out a bit more about Choc-Lit, have a look at their website,

Who has heard of Gertrude Bell? Known “The Queen of the Desert” she was a formidable British diplomat, explorer and archaeologist who travelled extensively through the Middle East in the early twentieth century and helped draw the boundaries of the country that became Iraq. Maybe she is not hugely well known at present, but all that is set to change as a new Hollywood film based on her life, Queen of the Desert, directed by Werner Herzog and starring Nicole Kidman (who recently declared “I'm completely enraptured with Gertrude Bell”) comes out later this year. The film also features James Franco, Damian Lewis and Robert Pattinson. No release date or trailer yet – Compass Points will bring you one as soon as it’s available! In the meantime, you can order the book, Tales from Queen of the Desert by Gertrude Bell (pb, £8.99, 978 1843915478) which is published by Hesperus in February. This selection of Gertrude Bell’s writings is taken from her books, and also contains original love letters from the Gertrude Bell archive, which are published together here for the first time. This unique collection, from someone who the Guardian described as “A gap-year adventurer ahead of her time, who preferred wandering the Arabian desert to life as a debutante in Victorian London is witty, inspiring and incisive and you can find out more and order it here

Gertrude Bell certainly sounds like the sort of formidable and fascinating person, who might have made it into this brilliant list of 50 Cool People – if list making had been the obsession in Victorian England that it is today! Have a look at these fab photos here – and see if you agree with their definition of what it is to have real old school cool.

Talking of films, the 2015 Oscar nominations are in, and not everyone's happy about them. While Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya were all on the list for Best Animated Feature Film category, one fan favourite was noticeably absent: The Lego Movie. In the Twitterverse and beyond, rage ensued. Have a look here to see director of The Lego Movie’s brilliant response!

The Queen Mother – lovable national treasure, adored by millions and beloved grannie to our future king – or a bitchy, foul mouthed tyrant, who was “dotty to the point of lunacy”.  Here’s Spitting Image’s view of her in this sketch from 1986. Now a highly entertaining new royal biography; Backstairs Billy: The Royal Life of William Tallon by Tom Quinn is set to show us the royal family in a whole new light, through the eyes of one of its most extrovert characters. William Tallon, who died in 2007, was a shopkeeper’s son from the Midlands who worked for the Queen Mother for more than fifty years and became her most trusted servant. Known as Backstairs Billy’, he was charming, bitchy— and extremely promiscuous. As far as the public was concerned, the royal family was a model of reticence. But Billy saw the other side of a family whose members loved drinking and smoking, swearing and playing sometimes cruel practical jokes on each other in private. They hated anything serious and were constantly making jokes at each other’s expense. The Queen Mother was especially good at all this, according to Billy. This was partly because she had a great sense of fun and partly because, for the last twenty years of her life, she was dotty to the point of lunacy. Outrageously funny, scandalous, sometimes shocking, but always fascinating, this is the life story of one of the most original characters ever to have graced the royal household. There is already a bit of a buzz building about this title – here’s a little clip from a US website claiming to detail the “royal family’s fury” at its forthcoming publication. It will certainly get a great deal of media coverage – and a major serialisation is under negotiation. Backstairs Billy by Tom Quinn (hb, £20, 978 1849547802) is published by Robson Press in March and you can find out more and order it here

And finally, as you probably all know, award-winning illustrator Jim Kay has been chosen to illustrate all seven Harry Potter books for a re-release of the series which will be released one at a time over the course of the next seven years, with the first one (The Philosopher’s Stone) coming out this October. Bloomsbury has just released a sneak peek of some of the character illustrations including Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Draco Malfoy, and (of course) Harry himself. Have a look here – do they look as you imagined them?

That’s all for now folks, more next week!

This blog is read by thousands of booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

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