Friday 22 November 2019

Compass Points 328

It’s full-on Christmas advert season now, and how interesting to see that John Lewis is being challenged as to where exactly they get their ideas from. Guess what, they nick them from books! This piece in the Guardian names Oliver Jeffers, Chris Riddell and now Jen Campbell, Danielle Smurthwaite and Fay Evans as the authors feeling thoroughly pissed off that the retailer is pinching their stories! As the article asks, ‘are John Lewis plagiarism claims now a Christmas tradition?’

Deborah O’Donoghue was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this morning (22 November) talking about her debut novel Sea of Bones (pb, £8.99, 978 1789550023) and you can listen to that here, it was trailed intriguingly as ‘does crime writing make you a bad feminist?’ This atmospheric psychological thriller with a compelling female lead tackles very big questions while totally enthralling the reader. Matthew Spangler, (the author of The Kite Runner stage play) said of it ‘Sea of Bones is an addictively readable, all around terrific novel. It unwinds like an elaborately layered ball of yarn, perfectly paced, revealing its secrets at just the right moment. Part Jane Austen, part Raymond Chandler, part House of Cards, this book is for anyone who likes a gripping read from the first page to the last.’ It’s published by Legend.

Who’s enjoying I’m A Celebrity? What a great time for Emerald to be publishing Reality Television: The TV Phenomenon that Changed the World (978 1839090240, pb, £16.99) which is out on Monday. This book provides an overview of key theories and debates in the study of reality television and asks why it has become such a huge phenomenon, and what is its future in an age of streaming and social media? Reality TV has not just changed television, but every other area of the media too and media and communications expert Ruth Deller investigates the phenomenon right from its documentary roots to where it is now, featuring people from all walks of life and covering everything from romance to religion. There are plenty of interviews with participants and analyses of key programmes, and Deller also examines why people take part in reality TV, how they are represented and impact this has on their lives.

Just to put you into the reality TV zone, you can watch the Top Ten WTF Love Island Moments here, the ten most shocking exits from I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here here and here's a montage of some of the best bits from the nineteen series of Big Brother!

A terrific review for Chinese Astrology: Understanding Your Horoscope by James Trapp (£14.99, hb, 978 1782747222) and Astrology: Understanding Your Star Sign by Marisa St Clair (£14.99, hb, 978 1782746775) in the current issue of the Astrological Journal which calls them ‘stunningly well produced books … custom-made to be given as gifts … the publisher Amber Books is to be congratulated … each book is illustrated with 85 specially commissioned artworks and beautifully presented on high-quality paper … a bonus from an aesthetic point of view is that both titles are Chinese bound in the traditional style, that is to say, stitched together in red or black lace at the spine … as a starter, this can’t be bettered… a masterclass in simplification without misrepresenting the purpose and detail.’

Lucy Werner’s Hype Yourself: A No-nonsense DIY PR Toolkit for Small Businesses (pb, £14.99, 978 1788601238) which is published by Practical Inspiration on 9th Jan has already reached number one on Amazon’s PR Wish List and two on Hot New Releases In PR, and as you would expect from a writer, speaker, blogger, teacher and podcaster Lucy has a steady flow of speaking events, book reviews, and Instagram coverage throughout November, December and January leading up to the publication of her book. You can read a great interview with he intitled Inspirational Women: Lucy Wern on here.

Congratulations to Andrew Latimer whose clever and engaging design for Kei Miller’s In Nearby Bushes (pb, £9.99, 978 1784108458) which is published by Carcanet, has been shortlisted for the Saltire Society Book Cover Award. The judges called it ‘a conceptually strong and unique work that sees the title and author hiding in a newspaper like text’, adding ‘The use of the strong yellow colour gives a brightness to the overall design.’ The winner of the award will be announced, together with all the Saltire Literary Awards, at a ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland on Saturday 30th November. To see the full shortlist, visit the Saltire Society website here.

This made me laugh a lot – eleven differences between Christmas in the UK and the US!

Written by international barrister Gillian Higgins, and referencing the latest scientific research, Mindfulness at Work and Home (pb, £9.99, 978 1910453803) which is new from Red Door is a down-to-earth beginners’ guide. Gillian has pioneered work in mindfulness amongst her professional peers, rapidly building a reputation as a leader in the field and this book is packed with simple hints, tips, quotes, and answers to frequently asked questions. Whether it’s Brexit, Xmas or work that’s pushing your buttons right now, we’re probably all feeling a little frazzled, so why not try some of Gillian’s practices for yourself? Here is the three-minute breathing space meditation and here is an 9-minute guided mediation that uses the sounds of nature as an anchor to the present moment.

Carcanet have just launched a PN Review collection at the Poetry Archive to celebrate 250 issues. There are some fantastic pieces from the archives available to read and listen to, including some by poets published right back in the first ever issue in 1973, when it began as Poetry Nation, making this a truly publication-spanning retrospective. You can read all about it here and here's  the link to access all the amazing free content! I like this one, Elegy of the Flowing Truth by Christopher Middleton which begins:

Almost anywhere there’s a poem lying around
Waiting for someone to lift it up, dust it off,
For instance, the argument with a neighbour
About a large dog: Was it a German Shepherd
Or a mutt?

Author Livi Michael reviewed David Contantine's new collection The Dressing-Up Box (£14.99, hb, 978 1912697212) for The Manchester Review here saying 'The worlds he creates are heterotopic, yet within each one he generates skilfully, often with minimal brushstrokes, the sense of a whole life, as in the short stories of Raymond Carver.' It’s published by Comma.

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's that 18 minute interview with Prince Andrew, here's  the trailer for Frozen 2 and here's the winner of the first ever UK edition of Ru Paul’s Drag Race with Michelle Visage saying ‘The audience saw the pure, beautiful, gritty, British ropiness.’ And talking of British ropiness, if you’re not feeling festive yet, then here's the new Little Mix Christmas single, which should sort you out!

That’s all 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

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