Friday 22 March 2013

Compass Points 35

Your weekly round up of publishing news, publicity information and trivia!

Were you glued to every word of the budget on Tuesday? Are you rushing down to the pub to get your pint for a penny less?  Well, for all of those who need to know what the real implications of George Osborne’s words are; comes the Tax Handbook 2013—14 published by Which. This is essential reading for all UK taxpayers and has been fully updated with all the 2013 Budget changes. Tax Handbook 2013—14 clearly explains how to complete a tax return and online assessment and how to check a tax code and National Insurance. This essential guide offers a wealth of advice, including how to reduce Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax and also covers making the most of tax-free perks at work, savings and investments. It shows you how you can navigate the current tax system with ease! It is aimed at everyone from the self-employed to those on the highest income and is written by an experienced financial journalist. Tony Levene has been a financial journalist for over three decades. He was recently voted Consumer Champion of the Year and has also received a lifetime achievement award from the Association of British Insurers. This book has been described as “One of the clearest practical guides on tax around” and is published in a few weeks time – order it now.

No, no, no I hear you cry – we really are not very interested in all that financial malarkey, just give us something about the things we really want – like love, sex travel and music for example. Well, what a bit of luck, next month comes a short story collection that gives you exactly that. LoveSexTravelMusik is great short story collection published in April by Freight.  I’m sure many of you were fans of the universally acclaimed novel, Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs – well this is a themed, contemporary story collection from its author; Somerset Maugham Award-winner, Rodge Glass. With insight and pathos, he examines men and women of all ages who, through the advent of discount air travel, play out their lives and loves across the globe. A lads’ weekend in Eastern Europe spirals out of control. A bleeding tourist is rescued by a stranger in downtown Toronto. A middle-aged woman holidaying in Tunisia considers the local options for love. An unemployed man shares his fantasies of a sex tour of Arizona with his long-suffering girlfriend. A woman is drawn into an impromptu but life-changing football game in the heart of the Amazon. Glass brilliantly captures the isolation, dislocation and occasional epiphanies of those who find themselves a thousand miles from home, and those who long to be. Rodge Glass was born in Manchester and educated at the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow. He has published three novels, a literary biography and a graphic novel and regularly appears at literary festivals and events throughout the UK, as well as on TV and radio. With stories set across the world, this is the perfect holiday companion and will attract wide review coverage. Find out more and order it here.

There will be plenty of different anniversaries celebrated this year – 150 years of the Tube, 70 years since the Dambusters raid and 50 years of Dr Who, to name but a few. But one of the most fascinating is that 2013 marks the centenary of The Suffragette Derby. On Wednesday 4 June 1913 Emily Davison, a  militant activist for women’s suffrage, stepped out in front of Anmer, the King’s horse, sustaining injuries from which she would die four days later. The horse’s jockey, Herbert Jones, would famously be “haunted by that poor woman’s face” and later took his own life. The Suffragette Derby by Michael Tanner is published by Robson Press in May and is a brilliant read. The 250,000 people thronging Epsom Downs on that day in June 1913 masked a quartet of combustible elements: a fanatical, publicity-hungry suffragette; a scapegoat for the Titanic disaster and the pillar of the Establishment who bore him a personal grudge; a pair of feuding jockeys at odds over money and glory; and, finally, at the heart of the action, two thoroughbreds – one a nasty savage and one the consummate equine athlete. What brought this disparate group to Epsom Downs for one of the nation’s greatest social and sporting jamborees? How did they contribute to a day that will forever live in infamy? Acclaimed racing writer Michael Tanner has scoured public and private sources – drawing on unpublished diaries and interviews with descendants of the principals – to debunk the myths and reveal for the first time the definitive account of what led to the events of that day and how they unfolded. This is British social history at its best and is absolutely guaranteed to get lots of coverage by the media. Order The Suffragette Derby here.

And you can watch a five minute film all about it below which includes the original British Pathé newsreel footage taken on the day.

And while we’re on the subject of anniversaries, 2013 also marks the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France. To celebrate, Punk is publishing Mountain Kings: Agony and Euphoria on the Iconic Peaks of the Tour de France. This is a beautifully produced premium paperback (£16.95) in a highly ‘flickable’ and portable format. It contains over 200 high-quality colour images which really bring the mountains and Tour legends to life and is the ideal gift for any cycling fan in what promises to be a red letter year for the Tour de France. This race is one of the world’s most renowned and best-loved sporting events, and its challenging climbs are the stuff of pure legend. In Mountain Kings, author and cycling journalist Giles Belbin gets up close and personal to the Tour’s most iconic peaks and the indomitable heroes who’ve powered their way up them. Belbin has selected and cycled 25 of these classic mountain climbs to give a compelling and personalised account, reflecting upon the legendary tales from the Tour, its history and the heroes that have made France’s famous road race such an enduring and popular sporting event. Mountain Kings features profiles on the most influential and memorable climbers of the Tour, plus chapters on the event’s creation, its history and highlights. Featuring all the must-know stats for each climb alongside breathtaking photography and evocative descriptions of the ride, this book forms a stunning celebration of the Tour’s relationship with the majestic mountains of this historic road race, to capture the imagination of every Tour fan. Click here to find out more and see some sample spreads from this stunning book, published in May. And if, like me, you are getting very excited already about the 100th Tour – then click below to watch le teaser officiel!

All of us today in the UK are feeling the bitter wind – whether it’s bringing us sleet, snow or freezing rain. But imagine if you were somewhere completely different and the wind blowing was the Harmattan – a dry, dusty wind that blows from the Sahara and whose meaning comes from the from the Arabic word haram, meaning a forbidden or accursed thing. Set against the stark beauty of sub-Saharan West Africa, Harmattan by Gavin Weston is an evocative and heart wrenching novel. Suffused with anger that is all the more powerful for its masterful understatement; this book is both commercially appealing and a savage indictment of child marriage. It will appeal strongly to readers of A Thousand Splendid Suns, Half a Yellow Sun and similar novels. Its heroine is Haoua, is a young girl growing up in a remote village in the Republic of Niger. Spirited, independent and intelligent, she has benefited from a stable home life and a loving and attentive mother. She worships her elder brother, Abdelkrim, a serving soldier who sends money home to support the family. But, on his last home visit, Abdelkrim quarrels with their father accusing him of gambling away the money he sends and being the cause of their mother’s worsening health. It also emerges that their father plans to take a second wife. As civil strife mounts in Niger, she begins to fear for Abdelkrim’s safety; and her father’s plans turn out to be far more threatening than she could have ever imagined. Approaching her twelfth birthday, Haoua feels alone and vulnerable for the very first time in her life. If you would like to read an extract from this powerful novel then go to the Myrmidon website at And click here to order Harmattan.

Everyone at Compass is very much in support of Calypso Nash the university librarian sacked from an Oxford college library, just because some students were doing the Harlem Shake when they should have been reading quietly. Click below to see what all the fuss was about. 

Who says that books and dancing can’t mix?  I say let’s bring the Harlem Shake into British bookshops up and down the country! Just look at this video to see how it sprang into life in a US bookstore – yes, yes I’m definitely thinking this could catch on…

 This blog is read weekly by over 600 booksellers, 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.

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

Friday 15 March 2013

Compass Points 34

Your weekly round up of publishing news, publicity information and trivia!

Happy Red Nose Day! I’m sure whatever the BBC comes up with this evening will be great – but personally I think the sketch below from the 2007 Comic Relief Night, featuring David Tennant and Catherine Tate is one of the funniest  ever.

A good day to remind you about two new editions of humour titles coming in May. The More I See of Men the More I Love my Cat and The More I See of Men the More I Love my Dog are coming in May. Previous editions have sold over 20,000 copies – these have great new jackets – and are the perfect gift for girls to give girls – order them now and have them on display – these remind me of the sort of birthday cards I’m buying for girlfriends all the time – and at £5.99 they are only slightly more expensive than a card anyway - the ideal impulse buy!

And sticking with the humour theme – or maybe not – what do you think it was like to work for Margaret Thatcher? There are so many myths about the extraordinary presence and political life of Margaret Thatcher, but now in The Real Iron Lady: Working with Mrs T. we can get to the facts. Gillian Shephard –  who herself served as a minister under Margaret  Thatcher – has brought together a group of  contributors with experience  of working with the  Iron Lady at all sorts of levels: members of her  Cabinets, such as Douglas Hurd and Tom King;  other MPs and peers; and people who had worked  for her in her  constituency, or behind the scenes at 10 Downing  Street.  The result is a revealing record of the way that Britain’s only female Prime Minister approached her job – her thoroughness, her extraordinary capacity for hard work, her rare ability to combine attention to detail with a grasp of strategic issues.  There are plenty of clashes – but there are also many acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. This is a unique insight into the working life of the real Iron Lady. 
In the wake of the extraordinary success of the film The Iron Lady, the profile of this remarkable politician has not been higher since she retired from politics, and this hardback (which has just been published) is attracting a lot of media attention as you would expect. The Mail on Sunday will run the second serial this weekend; the author is at the Oxford Literary Festival 17th March and reviews will follow in the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Times, the Times, Daily Mail and the Spectator. Gillian Shephard is appearing on Channel 5 The Wright Stuff on 5th April and will do an interview with Radio 5 Live for the Richard Bacon Show 28th March.

And for those booksellers too young to remember the reign of the ferric one – have a look at the Spitting Image sketch below which will give you a pretty accurate idea! 

And if that’s given you a taste for a bit more, then how about Maggie’s version of I Did it My Way, which you can watch below!

Phew, after that I think I need a bit of a lie down! But maybe I won’t choose to pop my pillow right on the edge of a cliff! However, this is exactly the sort of thing that Phoebe Smith, author of Extreme Sleeps: Adventure of a Wild Camper would do! As she writes in her very entertaining paperback, she becomes “addicted to what I called ‘extreme sleeping’ – a kind of addictive high-adrenaline sport – but rather than being defined by pushing the boundaries of physical activity, my particular pursuit was marked by a distinct lack of it.” Challenged by a cocky Australian in Woolloomooloo, veteran globe trotter Phoebe Smith sets out to prove that the extreme camping experiences available in the UK could rival anything found elsewhere in the world. In this sometimes scary, frequently funny and intriguing journey around the country, Phoebe attempts to discover and conquer its wildest places. From spending the night in the decaying wreckage of a World War Two bomber at Bleaklow to pitching next to the adrenaline-inducing sheer drops of Lizard Point; Phoebe’s extreme sleeps change her perceptions of the great outdoors and teach her about herself along the way. The author is the editor of Wanderlust, an award-winning travel magazine with a circulation of 37,000 and this book would appeal to youthful fans of walking, hiking and camping. There will be reviews in national newspapers, travel magazines, camping/outdoor activities magazines; radio interviews and syndicated pieces in the regional press and you can order Extreme Sleeps here.

Now how about a cracking historical novel, set in the 16th century which will appeal to fans of Rose Tremain and Hilary Mantel? Andrew Miller, the Costa-winning author of Pure called it “A well-told tale of a violent time; fast-moving and packed with incident.” After Flodden by Rosemary Goring is a novel about the consequences of the battle of Flodden, as seen through the eyes of several characters who either had a hand in bringing the country to war, or were profoundly affected by the outcome. This year is the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, and this is an unputdownable story of political intrigue and romance and a vivid evocation of a violent, pitiless era. It’s a racy adventure, combining political intrigue and romance, and its readership will be anyone who loves historical fiction, or is interested in the history of Scotland and the turbulent, ungovernable borderlands between Scotland and England. The author is an extremely well-known and respected journalist and we expect widespread reviews & features.

Well done to Tan Twan Eng, author of The Garden of Evening Mists (which you will remember was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012) who was announced this week as the winner of the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize, becoming the first Malaysian author to win Asia’s most prestigious literary prize. This is only the second time the Man Asian Literary Prize has been won by a novel originally written in English. The novel, set during the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Malaya, won the $30,000 award, from a shortlist of five books spanning the whole Asian continent. The other four shortlisted novels were: Between Clay and Dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Pakistan), The Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami (Japan), Silent House by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey) and Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (India). Chair Judge, Dr Maya Jaggi, said, “I have experience of judging many literary awards. But our task as a jury was exceptionally difficult, as well as gratifying, because of the outstanding quality and originality of the novels in contention from across Asia, and the strength of our shortlist. The winner, The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, revisits the traumatic aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Malaya, and the post-war insurgency against British rule, with stylistic poise and probing intelligence. Taking its aesthetic cues from the artful deceptions of Japanese landscape gardening, it opens up a startling perspective on converging histories, using the feints and twists of fiction to explore its themes of personal and national honour; love and atonement; memory and forgetting; and the disturbing co-existence of cultural refinement and barbarism. The layering of historical periods is intricate, the descriptions of highland Malaysia are richly evocative, and the characterisation is both dark and compelling. Guarding its mysteries until the very end, this is a novel of subtle power and redemptive grace.”
This title is available in paperback which you can order here and also as a special edition hardback slipcase. This edition is strictly limited to 1,200 copies, each is numbered, signed by the author and stamped in red with his personal Chinese seal. The high specification design includes a beautiful silver foil design; coloured endpapers; head and tail-bands and a ribbon marker. The cased book is individually shrink-wrapped and labelled with price, barcode, 'signed by the author', 'Limited Edition of 1,200 copies' and 'Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 and you can order it here.

And finally, many congratulations to one of our Compass clients; Summersdale, who today were shortlisted for Independent Publisher of the Year in the 2013 Bookseller Industry Awards. Find out about all the awards and see the shortlists for all of the categories here.

This blog is read weekly by over 600 booksellers, 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.

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

Friday 8 March 2013

Compass Points 33

Your weekly round up of publishing news, publicity information and trivia!

Well today is International Women’s Day so what better place to start than with a tale of a queen who launched the most famous dynasty of all time? The author describes this character as “not an exceptional queen – but a remarkable woman”.  Hmm – how good is your history? We are of course talking about Katherine de Valois. And which historical fiction author do you think was recently described by the Bookseller as “better than Philippa Gregory” and by the Express as someone who “has joined the exclusive club of excellent historical novelists”? The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien is set in 1415 and is the gripping story of Katherine de Valois, who was locked up by her mother, Queen Isabeau, and kept pure as a prize for Henry V. But Henry will take Katherine for nothing less than the glittering French crown itself. For Katherine, a pawn in a ruthless political game, England is a lion’s den of greed, avarice and mistrust. And when the magnificent King leaves her widowed at twenty-one she is a prize ripe for the taking. This is a deadly game. The players – Duke of Gloucester, Edmund Beaufort and Owen Tudor. Who will have her? Who will stop her? The true events described in The Forbidden Queen are more sensational than any fiction and the buzz about Anne O’Brien is definitely building. Her previous title, The King’s Concubine (published last May) has sold 16,000 copies and The Forbidden Queen is just published. She has a website where you can find out more about her here and has recently written a big piece for The Big Issue. If any genre is having “a moment” it is historical fiction – the Hilary Mantel effect has been much talked about – and The Forbidden Queen definitely deserves a place on your shelves – along with Anne O’Brien’s two previous titles The King’s Concubine and Devil’s Consort. You can order them all here.

And if your knowledge of history is looking decidedly shaky – then why not brush up on all the English Kings and Queens, with the help of this handy Horrible Histories song!

The Mystic Cookbook by Denise Linn and Meadow Linn has just been published. This is a highly original spiritual take on the subject of spirituality and food. The recent popularity of books about mindfulness and eating has proved that there is a strong market for this subject area. Provocative and insightful, this eclectic, inspiring and beautiful book will open your eyes to the remarkable link between nourishment and spiritual awakening. It is filled with ancient wisdom, practical advice, intriguing personal anecdotes, vibrant ceremonies and dishes lavishly illustrated with colour photographs. The Mystic Cookbook brings to life a wealth of recipes and myriad experiences from as far-reaching places as Mexico, Asia, Italy, Thailand, France, Africa and Britain as well as from mystical, legendary and mythic realms. In Denise and Meadow Linn's extraordinary book, we learn little-known secrets about the food we eat such as finding Legendary Meals to Open Your Chakras,  Mystical Meals to Trigger Past-Life Memories, Secret Ancient Traditions to Invite Spirit to Dinner, Time-Traveller Meals and Meals for Transformational Sex. Yum yum! It is getting quite a bit of publicity in the alternative press (which has far more readers than some of you might cynically imagine actually) and has had good reviews this month in Green Parent magazine and Om Yoga magazine.

Now, never mind about all of that spiritual refreshment; pomegranates, oysters and the like;  if there’s one food that has not been off the front pages for months and months; it’s meat! Not since the days of mad cow disease have us carnivores been under such fire – first of all it was the horsemeat scandal, and now come the food police’s latest announcement that if you eat a sausage a day you might as well be putting a stick of dynamite in your mouth – programmed to explode just when you least expect it! The Vegetarian Society claim to have had a surge in inquiries since traces of horse DNA were found in burgers and ready meals and 500 people are contacting The Vegan Society every week. But is it possible giving up meat can actually damage your health? John Nicholson spent 26 years eating just brown rice and lentils but he was tormented by irritable bowel syndrome, aching knees and crippling headaches. At a loss, John ditched the diet and started eating meat – and his book about it The Meat Fix: How a Lifetime of Healthy Eating Nearly Killed Me (which came out in January) is getting SO much publicity at the moment it’s untrue! Here’s the HUGE piece in The Sun which was on the front page of their lifestyle section last week, and here’s the major feature in The Independent. 
John is convinced that so called HEALTHY eating just isn’t healthy.  When he started eating meat he lost a lot of weight, put on muscle and dropped from a 29 per cent body fat to 14 per cent.  His headaches went away and his libido increased. He writes “It felt like being young again, like coming back to life. But though I felt energised, I was also furious. I should never have stuck to the healthy eating regime for so long. I was also furious with those who should know better, who have been peddling this low-fat high carbohydrate claptrap for so long that no one thinks to question it. France has the lowest rate of death from coronary heart disease in Europe, yet the country has the highest consumption of saturated fats. My gran survived into her eighties and grandad into his seventies. Did they achieve this by gobbling low-fat spreads, soya or skimmed milk? No. They ate good old-fashioned foods like butter, lard and beef fat. It’s high time we started questioning this “one size fits all” healthy eating advice we’re all spoon fed.” There will be more and more publicity for this book as John is a terrific writer – and what he has to say is really catching the zeitgeist!

Oh dear – just as the weather looked as if it has got a little bit more spring-like, back come the rain again – or even snow! Never mind, by the time these next two titles are published in April, hopefully the beautiful  British spring will be in full swing, and ready for your customers to enjoy. Lost Lanes: 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Southern England by Jack Thurston (presenter of The Bike Show) takes you on a freewheeling tour of the lost lanes and forgotten byways of southern England. Travelling at a leisurely pace, he invites you to explore the English countryside, taking in enchanted woodlands, wild seashores and ancient ways. Part-travelogue, part-photoguide, the book provides full details of his 36 specially selected rides, graded from easy to challenging, and includes route overviews, distances and handmade maps, best pubs and family-friendly tea stops and downloadable instructions as to how to access each ride by train (no car needed!) Each route comes with detailed mapping, plus a file that turns your phone into a cyclist’s satnav, so you need never get lost again. This is a perfect gift for the avid cyclist, the armchair explorer or the London family keen to escape by train. Lost Lanes will be co-promoted by The Bike Show, the world’s most listened to cycling show, with half a million podcast downloads per year. There will be features in the Guardian and the Times and promotional partnerships with Sustrans, Sawdays, the National Trust, train operators and CTC – reaching over a million riders. Order Lost Lanes Here.

Also coming in April is The Wild Guide: Secret Place, Great Adventures and the Good Life. This is by Daniel Start; an award-winning travel writer, photographer and environmental consultant – the author of best-selling Wild Swimming. Following the huge success of that title now the adventure continues. Daniel Start takes you to 500 amazing wild locations with 30 weekend itineraries. Featuring magical places to eat and stay, stunning photos and engaging travel writing, this is the perfect book for exploring close to home, planning new adventures with the kids or dreaming up the ultimate romantic weekend escape. There is no doubt that along with cycling; getting “back to nature” and enjoying the many pleasures that wild Britain has to offer is a growing trend, so this title (with its enticing cover) should sell very well!

The Independent Publisher’s Guild Conference was this week, and there were controversial words on the relationship between bookseller and publisher by Biteback publisher Iain Dale – you can read it all about it here.

Never mind Crufts – for us it’s all about cats. There has been a lot of publicity for Oscar the Bionic Cat by Kate Allan – there is a feature coming up next week in the Mirror, and there is a massive article today in the Express which you can read here.

This blog is read weekly by over 550 booksellers. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website.

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

Friday 1 March 2013

Compass Points 32

Your weekly round up of publishing news, publicity information and trivia!

“We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz.” Well we all soon will be, because the massive blockbuster film Oz: The Great and Powerful premiered in Hollywood last week and is set for release in the UK and Ireland on 8 MarchA prequel to The Wizard of Oz, it imagines how Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, and tells the story of how he becomes the infamous Wizard. With Sam Raimi directing and the three witches played Mila Kunis (Theodora), Rachel Weisz (Evanora), and Michelle Williams (Glinda) it is going to draw in huge audiences. You can watch the trailer below it looks spectacular!  

I for one will certainly be first in the queue to see it – it looks like a fabulous mash up of Alice in Wonderland, Avatar and the original 1939 Wizard of Oz – and you’re welcome to quote me on that! More relevantly , I predict that families all over the UK will also be rushing to see it – so what better time than to get your Oz window display ready – special prizes are available from the Compass Office for the best recreation of a twister, a hot air balloon or the Emerald City – email us your photos!

You will of course need plenty of copies of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Marvellous Land of Oz, The Emerald City of Oz and Glinda of Oz all by L. Frank Baum and republished by Hesperus in January. Take it from me – the UK is about to go absolutely bananas for all things Oz, and these titles are the original and best, with really eye catching colour popping new jackets – so order all four titles here.

The plot line of the Oz books is often verging on the miraculous – so that gives me a good (if rather clunky) link to remind you about the newly published  new title from self help queen, Gabrielle Bernstein: May Cause Miracles. Elle magazine said “So long, Carrie Bradshaw - there's a new role model for go-getting thirty somethings” and Glamour magazine said “This woman will make you smile. Forget what you thought you knew about 'self help'. Life coach Gabrielle Bernstein has wowed the US - and now she's hit the UK to unleash a happy new you.” The author is over in the UK during March and always generates lots of publicity; and in this inspiring guide, she offers a six week plan to cleanse our spiritual systems by tossing aside fear and living off the foods of gratitude, forgiveness, and love. Gabrielle’s hip, stylish and cosmopolitan personality will broaden the scope for mind/body/spirit books and she is becoming increasingly well-known as a go-to guide for the spiritually minded business savvy woman. Do you believe in miracles? Have a look at her inspirational video on YouTube to convince you!

She has another new title coming up in May with the terrific title – God is My Publicist – look out for it! Order May Cause Miracles here

Oh my goodness – another highly appropriate link to the Wizard of Oz – how do I do it?! So Much Wind: The Myth of Green Energy by Struan Stevenson has just been published and is an engaging, passionate polemic on what the author sees as the Scottish government’s misguided energy policy. The energy crisis is one of the most pressing and significant problems the world has to face. With limited resources of fossil fuels left, and the additional political and environmental issues that surround their use, it is clear that life on earth cannot continue as it is without the development of alternative sources of power. The UK Government’s policy of support for wind energy and its attempts to achieve 20% electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020 has been lauded by many, yet described as “a fatuous obsession” by others. Scotland’s targets are five times more ambitious and therefore invite intensive scrutiny. Struan Stevenson thinks the time has come to expose this green energy myth. He believes that the truth is that wind turbines violate the principle of fairness by transferring vast amounts of money from the poor to the rich. He feels they despoil our unique landscape and environment; they risk plunging the nation into a devastating energy crisis and through noise, the flicker-effect and vibration, they abuse the health and welfare of people and animals which have to live near them. He writes that “They are visual monstrosities that produce a trickle of electricity at vast cost to the consumer and they do not significantly reduce CO2 emissions” Pretty strong and controversial stuff – and as you would expect, this book (which is just published) is attracting major feature coverage from The Telegraph, Daily Express, Sunday Post, Daily Mail, The Times, The Sunday Times and many more. Struan Stevenson will be giving press conferences to discuss the issues in his book – and there will be more publicity to come – make sure you have plenty of copies of this £7.99 paperback with its eye catching jacket. And you can see Struan Stevenson talking about his book on YouTube below. 

The paperback edition of Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire by Eric Berkowitz is out this month, and the Sunday Telegraph will be reviewing it on 10th March in their book pages in Seven magazine. Sex and Punishment tells the story of the struggle to regulate sex. Eric Berkowitz evokes the entire sweep of Western sex law; from royal mistresses to gay charioteers to medieval transvestites to lonely goat-lovers to prostitutes of all stripes and London rent boys. Each of them had forbidden sex, and each was judged – although justice, as Berkowitz shows – rarely had anything to do with it. This book got amazing reviews in hardback; the Sunday Times called it “Enlightening and hugely entertaining” while the Mail on Sunday found it “Fascinating and gruesomely compelling” and the Guardian said it was “Jaw dropping data on sex and sin … worth every penny.” It’s now available at a very affordable £10.99 with cover that includes the terrific quotes. You can order Sex and Punishment here  – I mean the book of course.

OK, imagine you arrive in a new country.  It’s completely different from anything you’ve ever known – and you need to find out more. No, this time I’m not talking about the Wizard of Oz, but the thousands of people who arrive in the UK every year, and have to pass the Citizenship New Life in the UK test in order to stay and work here. The government recently changed the UK Citizenship Test and the official handbook to the test came out two weeks ago. Pass the New Life in the UK Test is also published this month, and is an all-in-one, fully updated, accessible step-by-step study guide to support those taking the Life in the UK Test, by Celine Castelino. Celine is a highly-respected specialist who was involved in the development of the Life in the UK handbook 2007 and previous questions for the Life in the UK Test. The book contains official study material, with invaluable additional practical content including advice on study skills and preparation, opportunities for self-assessment, practice tests, a glossary and further sources of useful information. Having to pass a test to stay in the United Kingdom may feel daunting but this guide is packed with practical advice, information and activities to make the process easier, perhaps even enjoyable. Quite frankly this book is as vital for those taking the Citizenship test as a copy of The Highway Code is for those taking a driving test. Unless you are one of the very few bookshops in the UK who happen to be in an area where there is no immigration at all – you need plenty of copies on display! The previous edition sold over 10,000 copies so this could be a nice little earner for everyone!

Now, who’s been keeping up with the debate as to whether there should be an Enid Blyton festival in Beaconsfield? As booksellers, I would imagine most of you are broadly in favour of Enid Blyton’s oeuvre – since it all sells like hot cakes with lashings of ginger beer. Those of us my age can clearly remember how the libraries of our childhood wouldn’t even stock Blyton’s books – and how utterly baffling those of us who adored them found this. Having now seen so many children start out on the Famous Five – and then move on to everything else, it certainly seems to me that she is a force for good. But her sometimes racist and sexist views, not to mention her deficiencies as a mother; have all been called into question her integrity as an author. It’s a very interesting question – should the views (and indeed the personality) of a writer, affect our appreciation of their work? There was an article discussing this in the Guardian last week, which you can read here. It includes a piece by Gabriel Gbadamosi, whose debut novel Vauxhall is out from Telegram in a couple of months.  Having very much enjoyed Blyton’s work as a black child growing up in Britain, he has an interesting angle on the debate.
 “It would be fair to say I grew up in love with England's racist literature and iconography. I loved those swashbuckling tales of colourfully illustrated derring-do among faraway natives, the golliwogs on jam jars and my favourite, Little Black Sambo, clever enough to get tigers to chase round trees and turn into melted butter … Later, people called me golliwog or Sambo; but by then it was too late: I wasn't going to give up my copy of the Sambo book, and I knew how people felt, how much they minded no longer being able to keep their golliwogs. It would be an equally black day on which Enid Blyton, one of the authors of my childhood, could no longer be celebrated by her readers. They have numbered in their millions, and been drawn to her vision of childhood's adventure from all corners of the globe. Everyone has their own memories of stumbling on grown-up secrets, or the midnight feasts of older children, but mine come to me through Blyton. She showed me what a mid-century, middle-class, white, English childhood ought to look like. Her books taught me about English attitudes to my race and lower-class status; she let me see over the fence how the adventure of privilege was going, who was involved and what they thought. An Enid Blyton festival in Beaconsfield would put that town on the map of an England I was brought up on. It is an England gradually being rubbed out for its unguarded openness about so much – lashings of jolly suspicious stuff. But, then, without being able to have Blyton's original, uncensored texts down as a marker, it is so much more difficult to measure how far we have come.”
Gabriel Gbadamosi’s novel Vauxhall will be published in May and you can find out more about it here.

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