Friday 22 June 2018

Compass Points 265

"A quirky, surreal, often very funny story by a talented new writer, Red Dwarf meets Trainspotting, narrated in a new original voice." So said Joanne Harris of Lloyd Markham’s novel Bad Ideas\Chemicals (pb, 978 1912109685, £8.99) which is one of six debut novels by young writers which has just been shortlisted for the 2018 Betty Trask Prize. The prize will be presented by Stephen Fry, on Thursday 19 July; past winners include Zadie Smith and Sarah Waters, so this is definitely an award to win! Bad Ideas\Chemicals has also been shortlisted for the Rhys Davies Fiction Award and the Wales Book of the Year; there’s definitely a bit of a buzz going on about this one. Everyone who has read this in the office has loved it – and if you’d like a taste of Lloyd Markham’s uniquely odd, poignant and poetic style, you can download a chapter to read on the Parthian website here. This dark and witty take on small town life, is, as reviewers have said “bleak, weird, grim, cool... it will probably become a cult classic.” You can read an interview with Lloyd in the Cardiff Review here and in the Western Mail here.  

We live in an age where radical technological and scientific progress has helped us to be more independent and expand our ideas. But a new book suggests that religion is holding us back and is denying us the chance to enjoy society’s progress because it represses pleasure and makes us suffer. Dangerous Illusions: How Religion Deprives Us Of Happiness (hb, £25, 978 1911350286) is by Russian philanthropist and businessman Vitaly Malkin. He claims that religion has a devastating effect on the morals of both individuals and society, but by reading his book, we can free ourselves of centuries of restrictive ways of thinking. The marketing for this book which was published last week has been immense – there has been extensive advertising with the Independent and Evening Standard plus articles which you can read here and here and the book was the subject of Jeremy Clarke’s Low Life column in the Spectator. Advertising with social media channels and Amazon has also gone live and much more publicity is to come, including advertising in all of the major national papers. This battle cry for the human race to throw off religion in favour of logic and reason is based on 10 years of dedicated research and is illustrated with a rich selection of colour images. It is a highly topical work echoing contemporary debates on religion from authors such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins and is published by Arcadia.

The Oberon Book of Queer Monologues (£12.99, pb, 978 1786823472) is published on 28th June to coincide with Pride Month and is the first collection of its kind chronicling over one hundred years of queer and trans performance. Combining stage plays with spoken word and performance art, this anthology features over forty extracts from some of the most exciting stage works in the English-speaking world. It will be an essential tool for artists seeking monologues for auditions or training and is a comprehensive guide through the hidden histories of queer theatre. Scottee, the book’s curator, was interviewed by the Evening Standard, where he talked about the importance of the book – you can read that article here. As he comments, “it’s quite astonishing to think we haven't seen an anthology of queer performance throughout history before” – this book is a true celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community, and as Peter Tatchell writes, is “awesome, diverse and historic”.

When was the last time you stopped to tune in to your body? Do you feel energized and full of life, or exhausted and constantly struggling? Most of us have shockingly little awareness of how badly our body is functioning, let alone how to take charge of our own health. In Reboot Your Health (978 1788170550, £12.99, pb) Sara Davenport reveals her holistic blueprint for wellbeing –  a DIY manual to help you assess the function of each of your body's systems and build a clear and detailed map of your health. It’s just been published by Hay House and has been featured in Woman & Home, Natural Health magazine and on the under the heading 12 easy ways to reboot your health. And you can find out lots more plus plenty of Sara’s invigorating re-boot tips on her own website

A terrific publicity boost for On Her Majesty’s Nuclear Service (£19.99, hb, 978 1612005713) by Eric Thompson which will be appearing as a feature and extract in the Mail on Sunday at some point in the next three weeks – possibly this weekend. This book has been a stand-out success for Casemate and is the riveting inside story of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, revealing the secretive life of submarines. The author 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 of women and homosexuals in the Navy. It is essentially a human story, rich in both drama and comedy, like the Russian spy trawler that played dance music at passing submarines. It has already had five-star reviews and lots of great coverage, and this latest feature is certain to provide another sales surge.

Who knew that one of Gareth Southgate’s strategies has been to bring in ex-Royal Marines, who had lost limbs in battle to talk with the England squad? They told them that they too had once been young men sent abroad to fight for their country and helped the players to park any fears of what lay ahead and focus on the positives. Southgate said those marines had given the players “huge perspective” on what pressure really meant. One of one of those soldiers was Andy Grant. When he woke from a ten-day coma in February 2009, he had a broken sternum, a broken leg, a broken elbow and shrapnel lodged in both forearms. He had a severed femoral artery, nerve damage to his hands and feet as well as deep gaping wounds in both of his cheeks. He had been blown up during a routine foot patrol in Afghanistan. Within days of coming to his senses, a doctor told Andy that because of the blast he would no longer be able to have children. You'll Never Walk (£15.99, hb, 978 1909245709) is his story. Its title comes from the fact he had a ­tattoo of Liverpool FC’s crest on his calf before he was blown up, and when the surgeon cut through his leg he removed the word Alone, leaving You’ll Never Walk on show. There’s been lots of publicity already for this inspirational book in the Daily Express, the Mirror, and we’ve just heard that Andy will be on BBC Breakfast talking about it on 18th July. It’s published by deCoubertin

Last week we were talking about a couple of books on the Practical Inspiration list – from publisher Alison Jones. Now let’s talk about Alison’s own new title This Book Means Business: Clever Ways to Plan and Write a Book that Works Harder for your Business (£15.99, pb, 978 1910056691) which is aimed at all those who believe they have a book in them! In her Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast, Alison Jones goes under the hood of successful business books to discover how they’re put together and how they work for the businesses behind them. This book brings together all those inspiring and effective ideas, giving you a unique insight into how some of the world’s top business authors work and showing how you can make these ideas work for you too. Scott Pack said of it “What Alison Jones doesn't know about writing, publishing and marketing business books probably isn't worth knowing. Even if the cover price of this book were £100, you'd still be getting a bargain: the sheer volume of advice it contains will prove priceless to anyone thinking of writing a business book. It contains everything you need to know, and then some.” This is a both practical and entertaining handbook which as one entrepreneur said “is full of ideas that work: open it at any page and you’ll find something you can use.”

Saira Hamilton is a chef, food writer and cookery teacher, whose Bengali-inspired food took her to the finals of MasterChef 2013. During the competition, Saira won high praise from John and Gregg for her delicious dishes and deftness of touch, and I’m pleased to tell you that Lorenz are publishing her first book in November; My Bangladesh Kitchen: Recipes and Food Memories From a Family Table (£20, hb, 978 0754834502). Bangladesh is a land of contrasts, from busy cities to the lush and fertile countryside, with lakes and rivers at every turn. The cuisine reflects the abundance of vegetables and fish, and in this book Saira has brought together everyday classics, regional specialities, street snacks, and impressive celebration food too. It is packed with background detail and anecdote, vibrant photographs of every dish, and an informative introduction describing the ingredients and cooking techniques of Bangladesh. I have seen spreads from this one – and it really is gorgeous!

Lianna Champ has nearly 40 years’ experience in funeral care and bereavement counselling. She has worked in all areas of bereavement, including, most recently, with the relatives of those involved in the traumatic Manchester terror attack. She is passionate about improving our relationship with death and dying, teaching us that if we live well we can die well. Her new book How to Grieve Like a Champ (£9.99, pb, 978 1910453551) is both comforting and practical, and designed with the knowledge that most grieving people have a short attention span; the book clearly presents essential information together with inspirational words in easily digestible short paragraphs. Plenty of publicity for this one, you can find an online summary of all the magazine and press coverage so far here and Sarah has also been on Ireland’s Newstalk talking about life as a female funeral director, and there is likely to be a forthcoming article in the Sun. It was published last week by Red Door.

Three winners for Crown in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards. When The Adults Change, Everything Changes (978 1781352731) by Paul Dix has been awarded the Silver Winner in the education category. Release Your Inner Drive (978 1785831997) by Bradley Busch and Edward Watson has been awarded the Honourable Mention in the young adult nonfiction category. And The Lazy Teacher's Handbook (978 1781352687) by Jim Smith has been awarded the Honourable Mention in the education category. Well done all!

There’s a forthcoming Irish market focus edition of the Bookseller coming in the last week in June which will feature an interview with Sue Rainsford, author of the stunning debut Follow Me to Ground (hb, £9.99, 978 1848406889) an unnerving, beautifully controlled and sinister tale that questions our preconceptions of predator and prey and the consequences of unchecked desire. A number of other New Island titles will also be featured in the round up of new titles and there will be an ad featuring the new reissue of Nuala O’Faolain’s Are you Somebody? which we mentioned last week.

Primosole Bridge in Sicily from 13-16 July 1943 provided the stage for the first instance of opposing elite paratroopers parachuting into battle and then fighting each other in a see-saw battle raging under the blazing Mediterranean sky. It’s a story of courage and determination. A story of legendary military units and their commanders. A story that now, on the eve of its 75th Anniversary, is told for the first time ever in The First Bridge Too Far: The Battle of Primosole Bridge 1943 by Mark Saliger (£19.99, hb, 978 1612006895). War History Online are running a feature entitled “This is what happens when elite German and British paratroopers try and land on the same bridge at the same time” and there are other articles coming up in the military media. This is a gripping and well-researched narrative solely dedicated to one of the bloodiest and hardest fought battles for British airborne troops of WWII, and the bravery and grit of the paratroopers in standing up to overwhelming odds is something that deserves to be more widely known. It is published on 13 July by Casemate.

July 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11's epochal lunar landing. Here's  the trailer for First Man – the film on this great achievement (staring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong) which is out this autumn. As you would expect, there is going to be lots of publishing around this story, but I really think that London Stereoscopic have an absolute belter on the subject with Mission Moon 3-D: A New Perspective on the Space Race (£30, 978 1999667405, hb) which is the story of the lunar landing and the events that led up to it, grippingly told and with visually stunning 3D images. It is written by editor of Astronomy magazine David Eicher, with a foreword by Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke and an epilogue by former NASA Astronaut Naval Aviator Jim Lovell. Mission Moon 3-D offers unique access to the Apollo astronauts and what they saw. It tells the story of the US-Soviet space race, from Sputnik and the space dog Laika to Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. On July 20, 1969, President Richard Nixon told the astronauts, and the nation, that it was "the greatest week in the history of the world since the Creation." Mission Moon 3-D recounts all this and more in memorable and visually stunning fashion. It has 192 pages, 300 photographs and includes the OWL 3D viewer. Astrophysicist (and lead guitarist with Queen!) Brian May is the creative director behind the book and think this will sell very well.

Always good to finish with some music – so here  are the Top Ten Space Songs! I think we can all guess what’s number one – which is also fifty years old next year!

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

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