Friday 16 March 2018

Compass Points 253

101 Rums to Try Before You Die (hb, £12.99, 978 1780275444) was recently featured in the Bookseller’s preview of important titles coming up in June – and is definitely one to look out for from Birlinn. Rum, once the poor relation of the spirit world, has recently undergone a revival and is no longer seen just as the preferred tipple for tipsy pirates. According to the latest figures, gin has 11.1% of the sales in the spirits market and rum is hot on its heels at 10.1% - up a whopping 8% in the last three years. See the chart below for the full figures. The artisan craft drinks movement and the rise of the rum cocktails are two current trends which have contributing greatly in the growth and development of the rum market. Ian Buxton, the UK's No.1 bestselling author on spirits (and author of course of the massive success story that is 101 Gins (£12,99, hb, 978 1780272993)); takes us on a tour of the different colours, flavours, creation methods and characteristics, making this is the only book on rum you will ever need!

Well, if we’re going to mention tipsy pirates then of course we absolutely need to have a watch of this 2018 remix of the classic (28,000,000 views and rising) Why is the Rum Gone? Why indeed!

The British Book Awards are out, and hearty congratulations to three of our publishers - Emerald Publishing, Kogan Page and Edinburgh University Press who are all on the shortlist for the Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year. As the Bookseller writes: “from an unprecedented 466 entries; from the best indies to giants of global publishing and from debut authors to Nobel winners; the Nibbies are the ultimate celebration of this greatest of creative industries.” The awards are announced at a dinner on 14 May and you can view the full shortlist here. Good luck guys!

We talked about Lily Bailey’s compelling Because We Are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought (978 0993040740, £7.99, pb) published by Canbury Press last week, and you can now listen to her interview on Woman’s Hour this week here with a shorter clip here.

The Russian spy story gets ever more complex and frightening with the Head of Nato Jens Stoltenberg telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning that the incident was part of a "pattern of reckless behaviour" from Russia following allegations of cyber-attacks and election meddling in recent years. "It is important that Russia gets a clear signal that it costs to behave the way they behave," Mr Stoltenberg said. Here are four titles you absolutely must have on display right now which delve much further into this issue. Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Power (£9.99, pb, 978 1908096234) by Yuri Felshtinsky and Alexander Litvinenko – generally regarded as the book which got him killed and the only title by Litvinenko himself. The Putin Corporation: How to Poison Elections (978 1908096258 £9.99 pb) by Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky which is also from Gibson Square and came out last month. This one is a highly topical insight into Putin's handling of elections – including the 2018 Russian presidential elections, the Trump election and the Brexit referendum. Vladimir Pribylovsky died under suspicious circumstances in 2016 (the third of Felshtinsky's collaborators to die after Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Berezovksky) and this title describes in gripping detail Vladimir Putin’s ruthless modus operandi in Russia. The Times called it “required reading” and the Observer said it was “compelling… a clear and accurate picture… the strength of this book is research.” Another essential is Inside Russian Politics (£12.99, pb, 9781785902314) which is published by Biteback. This is an intelligent and engaging account of the realities of contemporary Russian politics which presents Russia on its own terms rather than through the standard prism of comparison with the West. Edwin Bacon moves on from cliché and misleading historical analogy, aiming to widen the readers view of Russia beyond the standard account resurgent authoritarian menace. This concise and accessible guide is part of Biteback’s Inside Global Politics series which aims to fill a gap for accurate, enlightening, intelligent analysis; avoiding both the subjectivity of journalistic accounts and the nuts-and-bolts coverage of textbooks. And finally, also from Biteback is Orders To Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murders (978 1785903595, hb, £20) a story long hidden in plain sight with huge relevance to unfolding events. Putin’s critics have turned up dead on a regular basis and according to Amy Knight, this is no coincidence. In Orders to Kill, the KGB scholar ties dozens of victims together to expose a campaign of political murder during Putin’s reign that even includes terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing. As the Economist said “This incisive, deeply researched account of the Kremlin's murderous dark arts should be an electrifying wake-up call to the West about the danger we face from Putin's gangster state.”

If you prefer your spies to stay purely fictional, then I would recommend South Atlantic Requiem by Edward Wilson (978 1911350316, £14.99, hb) which has just been published by Arcadia. The Morning Star said of it “Well, he’s certainly done it again; Edward Wilson has breathed new life into his leftist British spook, William Catesby.” And there was a feature Crime which you can read here entitled “Writers of Crime and Spy Fiction Should Stand Up for What They Believe”. The Socialist party website also reviewed it well saying “This is socialist author Edward Wilson's seventh novel and does not disappoint. In some respects, it is his most gripping from beginning to end… It's another really enjoyable read from Wilson, again affirming him as a socialist John le Carré. By the end of it Catesby has turned 90 - hopefully not too old to embark on further adventures.” You can find that one here. There will be a launch event with Edward Wilson in conversation with Stephen Gale at Hatchards next Tuesday, as well as several events in Suffolk and there are more reviews to come. If you haven’t discovered these high-calibre Catesby novels from Edward Wilson yet, they come highly recommended – “not to be missed” said the Independent.

A feature in the Western Morning News this coming weekend or next for Paulette (£8.99, pb, 978 1911293163) which is published by Impress this month. Paulette is a tale of two languages and two cultures, overshadowed by two world wars, political activism and mental illness and is based on the true and colourful story of Paulette Tourdes who was born in a village in south-west Auvergne, told by the eldest of her children, Martin Sorrell. It examines what it means to leave your homeland and to embrace another and, for the children, the challenges of growing up bilingual. Sometimes funny, parfois triste, this is a story that explores the strong bonds between the two countries from a deeply personal level.

There was a terrific piece on Charlie CraggsTo My Trans Sisters (£12.99, pb, 978 1785923432) in Women’s Health magazine this week with an interview with Charlie and a good plug for the book which is published by Jessica Kingsley. Below is the article in full – it’s very illuminating and moving article on the subject of gender dysphoria.  

Excellent endorsements are coming in for Leila Aboulela’s Elsewhere, Home (£8.99, pb, 978 1846592119) which is published by Telegram in July. The Telegraph said previously “Aboulela is the kind of writer from whom British people need to hear” and this new title looks like a real winner. From the heat of Khartoum at the height of summer to the wintery streets of London, from the concrete high rises in the Gulf to the blustery coast in Aberdeen; this elegant and moving collection of stories vividly evokes the overlapping worlds of Africa, Britain and the Middle East. Beautifully observed and written with empathy, Leila Aboulela's stories deftly capture the search for home in our fast-changing world. “Rich and poignant. These beautiful tales of Khartoum, Edinburgh, London, Cairo and beyond are a delight.” said AL Kennedy “Exquisite fiction. There are gems here, elegantly cut, polished and framed. Luminous” said Fadia Faqir and Roma Tearne said the tales were “full of elegance, tenderness and the small vulnerabilities that make up our lives.”

Which intelligent/pedantic bookseller or publisher doesn’t love an epic grammar fail? Here are some of the worst/best from Buzzfeed!

Jessica Huie went from being a teenage mother who was expelled from school to having a glittering career in public relations, founding two award-winning businesses and earning an MBE from the Queen. Throughout the course of a career that has spanned more than 20 years, she has worked with some of the world's biggest stars and business people, including Simon Cowell, Samuel L. Jackson, Mariah Carey and even woman of the moment, Meghan Markle. In Purpose (978 1788170567, £12.99, pb) which is published on 28 April by Hay House, Jessica shares the lessons she learned as she went from being an individual who felt purposeless and unhappy, to someone who recognizes her complete power to design and create a successful, meaningful and limitless life. Wow – this sounds extremely compelling and an exclusive interview with Jessica will be featured in the Observer in April. Purpose will also feature in Psychologies Kindred Spirt, U Magazine, Yoga Magazine, The Best You and Country and Town House. Jessica will be speaking on the business podcast The After-Work Drinks Club as well as Talk Radio Breakfast (22.04.18), BBC Radio London (24.04.18), BBC Radio Manchester (25.04.18) and BBC World Service Outlook (25.04.18). You can find out more about this inspiring woman on her website

Who loves the Sharpe series? And any excuse to watch a bit of Sean Bean is fine by me so let’s watch him overusing a certain swear word! For those that love this era and world, The Army Rumour Service recently reviewed The Autobiography or Narrative of a Soldier: The Peninsular War Memoirs of William Brown of the 45th Foot (£16.95, 978 1911512943, hb) saying “I would suspect that fans of Bernard Cornwall’s Sharpe series might find the book a very interesting companion to their hero’s adventures. A wonderful little gem of a book.” You can read the whole piece here. William Brown’s autobiography is a unique piece of history since he is the only memoirist to have come to light from the ranks of the 45th Regiment of Foot in the Napoleonic wars – a regiment that was one of Wellington’s most valiant in that turbulent era. This title is one man's autobiography, but it's the story of many thousands of ordinary soldiers, sometimes lightened with joyous moments, but more often brought down by deprivation, bad luck and sometimes poor decisions. This lively account of a Scottish soldier is unlike many other memoirs of the period which are mostly from officers, and readers have commented how refreshing and fascinating is to see the war through the eyes of a private. It’s published by Helion.

Interesting piece in the Guardian today entitled “Gone Girl's gone, hello Eleanor Oliphant: why we're all reading 'up lit’” With Gail Honeyman and Joanna Cannon on the Women’s prize for fiction longlist, it seems that uplifting stories about kindness and community are proving a hit on the bestseller lists. You can read that piece in full here.

There’s an interview with Peter Kimani talking about his new novel the Dance of the Jakaranda (pb, £8.99, 978 1846592096); in the Financial Times this which should run in the next fortnight. Lots of other publicity too, including a Facebook live chat on the BBC World Service and confirmed reviews in TLS, New Books Magazine, Asian Review of Books, Independent Catholic News, Christian Century, InterLib, Liberator and Afrikult. You can read nice piece about this brilliant and thought-provoking title here on the Historical Novel Society website. It’s just out from Telegram.

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