Friday 25 April 2014

Compass Points 82

Good afternoon! Well, firstly today while you are on the computer, let’s just take a quick test to find out just exactly how annoying you are on Facebook. Oh dear oh dear – clearly you seriously need to curtail your social media usage – and maybe pick up a really good book instead? And what a bit of luck, I have the very thing…

Queen of Bedlam by Laura Purcell is coming from Myrmidon Books in June. (Pb, 978 1910183014, £8.99) It is an emotional tale based on historical fact imagining the lives of mad King George III's wife and daughters – which will definitely appeal to fans of Philippa Gregory, and those keen on the whole “women’s history” genre – which is still red hot. Laura Purcell is an ex-bookseller (hurrah – maybe that means that you too can move into the heady glamorous world of authordom); who lives in Colchester, met her husband working in Waterstones bookshop and recently appeared on the PBS documentary The Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace, talking about Queen Caroline's life at Hampton Court. Laura’s novels (this is her first) explore the lives of royal women during the Georgian era, who have largely been ignored by modern history, and I certainly think it’s true that the Georgian era is about to become trendy and will be “the next big thing” – following on from the enthusiasm for the Tudors and the War of the Roses. Maybe it’s all those cute pics of baby Prince George – and the prospect of a new Georgian era dawning! Anyway, enough musing; Queen of Bedlam is a cracking read, which starts in London 1788. The calm order of Queen Charlotte's court is shattered by screams; the King of England is going mad. Left alone with thirteen children and with the country at war, Charlotte has to fight to hold her husband's throne. It is a time of unrest and revolutions but most of all Charlotte fears the King himself, someone she can no longer love or trust. Her six daughters are desperate to escape their palace asylum.
Their only chance lies in a good marriage, but no prince wants the daughter of a madman. They are forced to take love wherever they can find it, with devastating consequences. This moving true story of George III's madness and the women whose lives it destroyed is Myrmidon’s lead commercial title for 2014, and there will be a national PR campaign to build awareness with a UK author tour in summer 2014 including talks at royal palaces. Laura writes a history blog which you can read at if history is your thing! The cover is good, and I feel this paperback has a lot of potential.
Queen of Bedlam is published in June, and you can find out more and order it here.

Who likes a bit of Dusty Springfield? Just about everyone I think – especially on a karaoke evening when you can belt out I Only Wanna Be With You at top volume! Dusty: An intimate portrait of a musical legend by Karen Bartlett is the life story of an immensely complicated and talented woman who left a unique musical legacy to the world. It includes never-before-published material and interviews with intimates of the star and newspaper serialisation is highly likely.  This £20 hardback which includes 16 pages of photos, is published by Robson Press in June (978 1849546416). Dusty Springfield was one of the biggest musical stars of the twentieth century. From the launch of her solo career in 1963 she was Britain’s biggest female star – in almost every way, ahead of her time.  For instance, she was the first British artist to appreciate the impact of Motown, and her love of its music led her to introduce Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes and Stevie Wonder to audiences through her TV shows. Her musical ear was unsurpassed, and she famously discovered Led Zeppelin. She was deported from apartheid South Africa in 1964 for refusing to play to segregated audiences, setting a precedent for a boycott of South Africa by entertainers. In her personal life, Dusty broke the mould as the first female entertainer to admit that she was bisexual, a decision that was to overshadow the remainder of her career. This book is the definitive biography of Dusty Springfield, and Karen Bartlett has interviewed childhood friends, lovers and employees, as well as those who worked with her. She reveals new details about Dusty’s childhood, her relationships, and her life long struggle to come to terms with her sexuality. She also charts the depths Dusty sank to in her battle with addiction, and the story of her survival and last days.

It sounds as if Dusty Springfield was incredibly supportive and helpful to the other artists around her. Sadly, the female musicians of today don’t seem to be quite so sisterly! Have a look here for some of the best pop star spats Christina Aguilera vs. Lady Gaga anyone?

Well, talking of badly behaved female pop star leads me very nicely on to the next title, Girl Trouble by Carol Dyhouse which is published by ZED Books in June (pb, 978 1783601608, £8.99). “Too bold, too sexy, too boyish, too fast, too thin . . . whenever something has gone wrong in society at large, says historian Carol Dyhouse, you can be certain that girls between the ages of ten and 25 have been somehow to blame. ” wrote the Mail on Sunday. Girls behave badly. If they’re not obscenity-shouting, pint-swigging laddettes they’re narcissistic, living dolls floating around in a cloud of self-obsession, far too busy twerking to care. And this is news. In Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women,  eminent historian Carol Dyhouse shows that for over a century now, where there’s a horrific headline, a scandal or a wave of moral outrage you can bet a girl’s to blame. Whether it be stories of ‘brazen flappers’ staying out, and up, all night in the 1920s, inappropriate places for Mars bars in the 60s or Courtney Love’s mere existence in the 90s, bad girls have been a mass-media staple for more than a century. And yet, despite the continued obsession with their perceived faults and blatant disobedience, girls are infinitely better off today than they were a century ago. This is a witty and wonderful book, telling the story of the challenges and opportunities faced by young women growing up in the swirl of twentieth century and the pop-hysteria that continues to accompany their progress. You will certainly be hearing more on this subject – the publication of Girl Trouble will be accompanied by an inventive social media and Twitter campaign #Girltrouble.   I can highly recommend this title – great cover – you can order Girl Trouble and find out more here.

There is absolutely loads of publicity coming up for Twin Tracks – the Roger Bannister Autobiography – the media are falling over themselves for a chance to interview this great sporting hero. This weekend there will be a big feature in the Relative Values section in the Sunday Times magazine and in the coming weeks there will be interviews with the Times, the Daily Mail the Big Issue, the
Sunday Times, the Daily Express and the Oldie Magazine and Sir Roger will also be on Radio 4’s More or Less. This frank and truthful memoir of a great and inspirational athlete has just been published by Robson Press (£20.00, hardback with 8 pages of photographs, 978 1849546867) and you can order Twin Tracks here.

We hope you all had a lovely Easter break – whether your focus was on chocolate or church!   The Guardian chose Rowan Williams’ poem Gethsemane from The Poems of Rowan Williams as their Easter Poem: this title has just been published by Carcanet (pb, £9.99, 978 1847774521 ) so this is all excellent PR. Rowan Williams is doing an interview with the Sunday Telegraph to publicise the book  which will probably run this weekend, and one of the poems; Six O' Clock; will be printed in the Financial Times Life & Arts section, also this weekend. Then early in May, BBC News 24 will be interviewing Rowan Williams to talk about this visionary collection of poems.

You really couldn’t imagine anyone being more talked about than Nigel Farage is at present, during the run up to the European elections in May. So this is a very good time for Biteback to bring out a new edition of Flying Free: The Autobiography of Nigel Farage (pb, 978 1849540940 £8.99). He is a politician impossible to ignore and under his leadership his party has consistently outperformed its size in European and local elections. With his customary wit and humour, Farage’s uproarious and compelling autobiography describes his many battles with enemies in Europe and on the home front. Most importantly, he reveals how he shepherded a collection of what David Cameron dismissed as “fruitcakes” and “loonies” into becoming a serious political party that has so ably captured public feeling. Flying Free is the candid and colourful life of a fascinating and divisive character, and the story of the birth and evolution of a party that has grown into a political contender.

Lots and lots of publicity everywhere for Abba: The Official Photo Book published by Max Strom Publishing (Hb, 978 9171262820 £35.00). This is the biggest and best book on Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad with more than 600 classic, rare and unseen photographs telling the complete story; and it’s selling well! Don’t forget to keep it on display as there will be more publicity as we approach the Eurovision Song Contest in May; since of course 2014 is the 40th anniversary of the band’s international break through when they won it in Brighton! Will Sweden carry off the prize again this year do you think? Or do you feel the UK has a chance with our entry Children of the Universe - which you can watch here.

 The real question to ask ourselves though I feel is: Were Abba the worst dressed band of all time? Have look here to remind yourselves of the competition! Bay City Rollers anyone?!

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

This blog is read weekly by 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.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Compass Points 81

Compass Points is back this week after a short holiday, and if you’d like to take a look at all the fabulous new titles coming up in June you can now view them on the new titles website here.

Happy Easter - and hope the chocolate bouncing one brings you everything you desire on Sunday! If Easter can’t come soon enough as far as you’re concerned, then take a look at this Walt Disney cartoon from 1934 – six minutes of innocent nostalgic fun!

Or if you prefer your Easter fun a little less sweet and innocent, then how about this funny clip of one of the many nutters on the streets of New York...

But first of all let’s see which books are in the news this week…

The discussions about inappropriate behaviour by MPs in the “palace of sexminster” rumble on this week – and no public figure looms larger in this topic than the late Cyril Smith. Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith by Simon Danczuk and Matthew Baker has just been published by Biteback (Hb, 978 1849546447 £16.99) and its two authors were on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme  earlier this week to talk about the book with John Humphries. Simon Danczuk (the Labour MP for Rochdale) was also on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 today (in fact I’m listening to him as I write this – how abut that for hot off the press!) discussing the book. He alleges that Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith was part of a high-level paedophile ring operating at Westminster in the 1970s, and used his influence to escape prosecution for sexually abusing boys. He told the programme that the MP was part of an "informal" network of sex abusers and he claimed police were pressured by the authorities to drop investigations into his activities. "Had he been prosecuted, then the house of cards would have fallen, in terms of that paedophile network, and it could have brought the government down," the Labour MP told the Today Programme. He also claimed child abuse allegations against Sir Cyril were widely known at the time and were even raised in public, at a Liberal party conference. Pretty strong stuff – you can read more on the BBC politics page here. Cyril Smith retired from politics in 1992 and died in his sleep in 2010. Many of his victims later committed suicide or drifted into a life of drug abuse or prison. Smile for the Camera is a deeply troubling story of a truly shocking abuse of power, and asks urgent questions of those who allowed Smith to get away with it. There is bound to be further media interest in this dark tale and you can find out more and order Smile for the Camera here.

In 1967, while working in London, Pauline Butcher, a straight English girl, met the unconventional, avant-garde rock star, Frank Zappa, while he was on a trip to promote the Mothers of Invention’s first concert at the Albert Hall. He asked her to type the lyrics of his second album, Absolutely Free. Unable to understand the strange words, Pauline made up her own, much to Frank Zappa’s amusement. And so these two unlikely minds found a rapport that took Pauline to Hollywood, where she lived and worked in Zappa’s house amid an entourage of musicians, freaks and other rock stars. Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa was written by Pauline in her sixties, based on the letters she wrote to her parents, who lovingly kept them in a shoe box for 40 years. It is published by Plexus (paperback original, 230 x 155mm, 320 pages, illustrated with 40 photographs, 978 0859654791 £14.99). Now Matthew Broughton has adapted the book into a 45-minute afternoon play entitled Frank Zappa and Me, directed by Kate McCall, which will air on BBC Radio 4 on May 9th. This highly entertaining play follows Pauline’s relationship with Frank: from their shaky seduction scene to Pauline’s shock and dismay at living in a decrepit log cabin and a gunman who threatens to shoot Frank. Slowly, Pauline adopts the Californian laissez-faire lifestyle and with the help of Women’s Liberation learns to counter Frank’s influence and find her own way. This is a great story – and the play is certain to create demand for the book.  There will be plenty of publicity – the BBC love to promote their own productions, and so Pauline will be interviewed on BBC Radio London promoting the play later this week and excitingly Libby Purvis on Radio 4 Midweek will be interviewing her next Wednesday. It’s also highly likely she will be on Women’s Hour and Saturday Live.
You can order Freak Out! My Life With Frank Zappa and find out more here

For those not familiar with the musical oeuvre of Frank Vincent Zappa (1940-1993) here he is at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood in 1973. Pretty different to the big rock and pop concerts of today – can’t quite imagine Rihanna and her entourage just wandering onto the stage while tuning up and chatting to the audience!

Who are the Brain Police? was one of the most popular songs from Frank’s album Freak Out – and is perhaps not a bad question to ask ourselves today. Apparently, the theme tune of your life is the song that was number one in the charts on your 14th birthday. Mine’s Stayin’ Alive – yep, that seems appropriate enough; why not play this fun game to find out yours here   and then you can listen to them too – hours and hours of time-wasting pleasure!

In spring 2013, adventurer Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent saddled up alone on her pink Honda C90 moped and set o from the cacophonous streets of Hanoi. From there she rode an epic 3,000 km through mud, deep sand, rivers and jungle on the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Travelling with very little mechanical know-how, Antonia visited lost pre-Khmer ruins, met remote tribes in Laos, battled along Cambodia’s Mondulkiri Death Highway, and encountered some of the countless unexploded bombs that remain from the Vietnam War, seeing both beauty and great danger. A Short Ride in the Jungle: The Ho Chi Minh Trail by Moped by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent has just been published by Summersdale, (pb, 978 1849535434 £8.99) and is getting quite a bit of coverage in the adventure magazines as well as on the radio. BBC Radio 4 interviewed Antonia on Saturday Live about the book and her journey last week. Motorcycle Monthly will be running an extract as will Overland Magazine (which is a really nice, well produced glossy magazine for adventure bikers) and also Wanderlust Magazine (circ. 37,500). Traversing this particular trail by motorbike has become very popular in the last decade (exemplified by Top Gear’s Vietnam special) and Antonia’s bike, the Honda C90, is a favourite of motorbike fans with millions of devotees the world over – so there should be plenty of takers for this title.

If (like me) you’ve never even heard of the Ho Chi Minh trail – then there is a really good three minute video about it on YouTube which you can watch here. I recommend it!

The shortlist has just been announced for the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and hurrah, The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twang Eng is on it! You can see all ten titles on the shortlist here. The list includes five novels in translation from Argentina, Colombia, France, Norway, and The Netherlands and novels from Australia, Ireland, Malaysia, the UK and the USA. The IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, an initiative of Dublin City Council, is worth £100,000 to the winner and is the world’s most valuable annual literary award for a single work of fiction published in English. This Award is just of the many annual events that earned Dublin its UNESCO City of Literature status. The titles on this year’s shortlist were nominated by public libraries in Australia, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, South Africa and The Netherlands. The five member international judging panel will select one winner which will be announced by the Lord Mayor of Dublin and Patron of the Award, Oisín Quinn on Thursday 12th June in a morning announcement. The Garden of Evening Mists is published by Myrmidon and is available in hardback; 978 1905802494 £18.99 – we have signed copies and first editions available – talk to your Compass sales rep for details.

Emma Woolf is making quite a name for herself in the media. As well as being a columnist for the Times, Newsweek and The Daily Beast she is the presenter on Channel 4's Supersize vs. Superskinny. She has recently written several major features in Top Santé and Psychologies magazines – both of which have huge circulations. 
So don’t forget her two books, both published by Summersdale: An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia (pb, £8.99 978 1849532495); and the newest title The Ministry of Thin: How the Pursuit of Perfection Got Out of Control (pb, £8.99 978 1849534123). Sadly the whole topic of anorexia in young women is not going to disappear from the media any time soon – and Emma is fast becoming the expert that the press, radio and TV turn to when they want to feature this topic. Her two books have had rave reviews – so keep them on display.

Who’s already counting down to the first game of the footie World Cup? Thursday 12 June; Brazil v. Croatia if you’re interested. Shocking Brazil: Six Games that Shook the World Cup by Fernando Duarte is one of the many many footie titles that will be coming out in June – but I can assure you it’s one of the best! And this is not just my entirely unbiased option - the Financial Times have selected it as one of just three books they are reviewing for the World Cup and better still, the Guardian will serialise it over two days one week before publication (which is the 5th June). It will be flagged on the front page on their Sports section, the front page of the Football section, and will be bannered on the Guardian website – which is the most read news site in the UK. When you think of Brazilian football you probably call to mind Pele; the 1970 World Cup Team; the Beautiful Game. Brazilian football has become synonymous with excellence that seems to resist the usual dry spells –not for them the almost fifty years of hurt endured by England fans. Supporters from every part of the globe are able to recount joyful tales about Brazil's unmatched achievements, especially the ones related to World Cup glory. But the most crucial transformation undergone by Brazilian football was a direct result of the Selecao failures. Shocking Brazil focuses on six crucial World Cup defeats that radically altered Brazilian football and which had repercussions far beyond the sport. These games hid narratives of racism, corruption, authoritarianism, corporate power and greed. Fernando Duarte uses anecdotes, data and observation to show Brazilian football in a completely different light, one that will surprise many, and spark debate and discussion. As Brazil prepare to welcome the world as hosts of FIFA's 2014 World Cup, 64 years after the country first received the tournament, there hasn't been a more appropriate time to turn on the floodlights to the secret of Brazil's success. This trade paperback (978 1909715165 £12.99) is published in June by Arena Sport.

And oh alright then, if you fancy whiling away another 15 minutes admiring all 1283 of Pele’s goals then you can watch every one of them here!

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

This blog is read weekly by 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.