Friday 3 April 2015

Compass Points 121

Happy Easter! Hope everyone finds some time to enjoy the bank holiday weekend whether you are spending it bookselling or just scoffing tons of chocolate!

And talking of chocolate, don’t forget about this new one from Choc LitThe Soft Whisper of Dreams by Christina Courtenay is a contemporary romance set in Devon. Maddie Browne thought she’d grown out of the recurring nightmare that plagued her as a child, but after a shocking family secret is revealed, it comes back to haunt her – the same swing in the same garden, and the swarthy arms which grab her from behind and try to take her away. In an attempt to forget her troubles, Maddie travels to Devon to spend time with her friends, Kayla and Wes. However, it becomes clear that relaxation will not be on the agenda after a disturbing encounter with a gypsy fortune teller. Not to mention the presence of Wes’s dangerously handsome brother, Alex… There is no doubt that swarthy West Country romance is very definitely in vogue at present, and any of you on Twitter will know that there are masses of very keen Choc Lit fans out there just waiting for the books. Christina Courtenay is Chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and previous novels have won the Big Red Reads Best Historical Fiction Award, the Best Historical Romantic Novel of the Year and the Best Historical Read Award from the Festival of Romance – so this author knows her stuff. Here is a selection of the reviews for The Soft Whisper of Dreams which have been posted on Twitter in the last week… “This has definitely been my favourite book of 2015 so far. I am a big fan of Christina Courtenay, and all of her books have been pretty fab.”  “Mystery and romance… intriguing…Christina Courtenay has a way with describing settings you want to visit for real!” “A real treat… a real page turner and well put together. The characters are well drawn and there's an element of thriller as well as romance. I shall certainly be reading more.” The Soft Whisper of Dreams (£7.99, pb, 978 1781892237) has just been published and you can find out more and order it here

However, if that sort of book is just too soppy and sappy for a gritty urban bookseller like you, then how about Fishnet (pb, 978 1910449066 £8.99) by Kirstin Innes which is published next week by Freight? This is a shocking, utterly compelling novel about one young woman’s journey into the world of escorts, sex, and prostitution as she searches for her missing sister. This gripping story with its empowering, feminist storyline has been meticulously researched by Kirstin Innes within the sex industry – it has a shocking dénouement and is sure to attract attention. Kirstin Innes is a freelance journalist and this is her debut novel.  She won the Allen Wright Award for Excellence in Arts Journalism and writes for the Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, the Herald, the List and the Independent and her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She will be on Women's Hour on BBC Radio 4 on April 13th discussing Fishnet and prostitution – great PR for this title. Bittersweet, sensual and rich, Fishnet takes a clear-eyed, meticulously researched, controversial look at the sex industry and the lives of sex workers, questioning our perception of contemporary femininity.
Find out more about Fishnet and order it here

And now let’s move from a novel with an empowering feminist storyline, to one which actually celebrates misogyny – one journalist describing it as “a sustained rant against women”. And you won’t be reading anything from its author on Twitter as his account has been suspended. He’s also excoriated the BBC for broadcasting garbage; suggested Benedict Cumberbatch is more Hello! than Hamlet, hates critics, has sued Julie Burchill for implying he was “hideously ugly” and apparently threatened to kill theatre critic Nicholas de Jongh. Cripes! Sod the Bitches by Steven Berkoff is out from Urbane Publications on 13 April and it’s safe to say it will undoubtedly cause a bit of a stooshie as my Scottish colleagues would say! You can read a major double page spread all about it which came out this week in the Standard here. Sod the Bitches (978 1909273825, £12.99, hb) contains many of the familiar Steven Berkoff themes, from his use of crude street patter to discussion of sex wars; class wars; dislocation and abandonment of love in a thankless and unyielding world. This is a challenging, brutally honest novel that will inspire, enrage and divide and you can find out more and order it here

Well! Which of these three very different novels would you actually want to live in? A world of “swarthy romance”, one that is “dangerous and complex” or one that is “thankless and unyielding”? Tough choice? Do you sometimes get confused between the world outside your cosy bookshop and the one inside the books on the shelves? Are you in fact living in a dystopian novel? Here’s a fun article by Waterstone’s bookseller Andrew Drennan who argues that it can be very hard to tell the difference nowadays between the dystopian future of an author’s imagination and the world we currently live in!

One of the best things about reading a really great book is the way you can completely lose yourself in its pages as I’m sure you’ll agree. But what if you kept up a running commentary on the book as you read it – maybe on Twitter, or Facebook? Have a look here at how some classic novels would look if they came with internet comments next to them!

Did you watch the election debate last night? What did you think? I think I agree with the Telegraph’s point that it was all somewhat exhausting to watch: "Shout, shout, interruption, shout. The stress of it. It was like sitting through a two-hour penalty shoot-out - between seven different teams." The general view seem to be that it was the fringe parties who made their views felt most strongly – all good news for Nigel Farage and his Biteback book The Purple Revolution: The Year that Changed Everything (pb, £8.99, 978 1849548632) which I think it has been reviewed pretty much in every newspaper in the last week! This never-before-told inside story of UKIP and its charismatic leader told by Nigel Farage himself is not an autobiography, but rather the untold story of the journey UKIP has travelled under his leadership, from the icy fringes of British politics all the way to Westminster.

The debate was also good publicity for Nicola Sturgeon: A Biography by David Torrance (pb, £8.99 9781780272962) just published by Birlinn. This is the first and only biography of the leader of the SNP and Scotland’s first female First Minister. Who could well hold the balance of power in Westminster, and become one of the most powerful and influential people in the country. This biography investigates how a ‘nippie sweetie’ from the West of Scotland has become one of the most prominent politicians of her age; and David Torrance has uncovered people from Nicola Sturgeon’s past who will help shed light on this driven, divisive and dedicated woman’s character and motivation.
You can find out more and order Nicola Sturgeon: A Biography here

Well after all that political argy bargy I think we need something a bit more relaxing, so what could be better than a bit of ol' blue eyes himself. Red Planet are publishing The Dead Straight Guide to Frank Sinatra by Chris Ingham (pb, 978 1905959563, £14.99) this month. 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sinatra, and The Dead Straight Guide to Frank Sinatra is packed with an extraordinary amount of information on this iconic singer. Every one of his films and albums is reviewed from a fresh new perspective and its 400 pages are packed with interesting titbits of info, and great pictures. There is plenty here in this chunky little paperback (228x 152mm) for both the Sinatra novice and the committed fan.

And here’s the man himself back in 1962 . Nice huh – or how about this recording of Come Fly with Me – ahh now that’s what you need to give you that Friday feeling!

 And here are some of the week’s best Tweets – remember you can see them all first hand by following us @CompassIPS or click here if you are a Twitter virgin!
Great window for alluring clever period mystery The Man Who Bought London thanks @WaterstonesPicc @HesperusPress
Just listening to the entertaining Shann Nix Jones talking on Steve Wright show about her book: nice one @HayHouseUK
Looky here @CompassIPS 4.30pm today @BBCRadio4 @HarriettSG  discussing Pascal Garnier The Islanders
Wanna Cook? #BreakingBad is going to be on UK TV on 15 April. OMG #bestnewsallday. Get the guide @myrmidonbooks
Who else thinks #Poldark2015 and #wildswimming go together like cream and jam on a scone? @wildthingsbooks
Congrats @CaoilinnHughes winning Shine/Strong Award for Gathering Evidence - science and poems - love it! @Carcanet

That’s all for now folks, Compass Points is now on holiday - back on 17 April!

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 click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

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