Friday 31 October 2014

Compass Points 104

Happy Halloween! Got your costumes organised yet? Maybe you are serving your customers dressed up as Bellatrix Lestrange at this very moment? And this on the day when JK Rowling has revealed that one of her most truly terrifying creations – Dolores Umbridge – was actually based on a real teacher! Blimey I wouldn’t want to be that poor person once the media discover who she is! Read all about it in the Bookseller here. And have a look here on BuzzFeed for some great costume ideas – but ones that only Brits will understand!

While we’re in the mood for all things gloomy and ghoulish; there’s no better time to remind you about Dispatches from the Dark Side by Damian McBride. You’ll remember Damian from last autumn’s candid insider memoir, Power Trip (his account of working with Gordon Brown at the Treasury and then as his Spin Doctor in No.10) which became the political bestseller of the year, resulting in Damian becoming one of the most controversial but sought-after commentators on all things political. Well, two years ago, Damian McBride began writing a blog that quickly gained wide acclaim for the sharpness of its observation and for the author’s political acuity, marking him out as one of the most incisive (and iconoclastic) chroniclers of today. Writing on the events and personalities of modern politics, McBride provides an endlessly fascinating interpretation of the functions (and dysfunctions) of the political machine and the peculiar machinations of its operators. Dispatches from the Dark Side is collected writings taken from that blog, and as well as politics, McBride tackles such diverse subjects as Martin Luther King, death row executions, Jimmy Savile, Andean plane crashes, Arsenal Football Club and Whitney Houston! It gives readers a continuation of McBride’s popular ‘makes The Thick of It look tame’ subject matter and writing style – and needles to say, there will be plenty of publicity for it when it is published next week! Dispatches from the Dark Side: Collected Writings by Damian McBride is published by Biteback (978 1849547895, pb, 9.99) and you can find out more and order it here.

I am sure your bookshelves will be groaning under the weight of tomes by comedians who have written autobiographies this Christmas; so let me bring you something a little bit different – a popular comedian who is not just rambling on about himself; but has actually written a rather good novel. Robert Newman was the first comedian to sell out Wembley Stadium and has created renowned television shows such as History of the World Backwards, Newman & Baddiel In Pieces and The Mary Whitehouse Experience. The Trade Secret is the paperback edition of his novel, which the Guardian described as “A rollicking Elizabethan yarn that has much to say about the origins and nature of modern capitalism. Newman’s weaving of fact and fiction is really quite deft.” Set in  a Golden Age of trade and art; when merchants and poets from across the world pack London’s streets this is a swashbuckling, rollicking tale of espionage, intrigue and adventure concerning the pursuit of the new commodity of the times  — oil. The Telegraph said that has Robert Newman’s writing has “pace, imagination and humour... and a lightness of touch prevails.” The Trade Secret by Robert Newman (978 1908885906, £8.99, pb) is published in November by Cargo Publishing and you can order it here

No doubt inspired by the fabulous Downton Abbey, visits to stately homes are currently at an all time high. Make sure the 2015 edition of Hudson’s Historic Houses & Gardens is font of store – in fact I’m wondering if a Downton inspired window display wouldn’t be a bad idea, with posh books galore (I’m thinking Nancy Mitford, PG Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh for starters – and while you’re at it, why not include The Bluffer’s Guide to Etiquette! (pb, 978 1909937000) by William Hanson) in amongst the guidebooks!  Hudson’s Historic Houses & Gardens has been loved and trusted as the definitive guide to heritage places to visit for 28 years; and this new edition brings you up to date information on when to visit nearly 1000 of our grandest stately homes, great heritage gardens and smaller hidden gems across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Lavish photographs throughout and plenty of maps and directions make planning trips and finding your way easy and inspirational. Best of all for those who love snooping round the homes of the rich are the hundreds of pages of generously illustrated magazine articles on Britain’s heritage, You can also join Fiona Bruce and the Antiques Roadshow team at Chenies Manor House in the latest series of this much loved long running show and hear how Dame Jenny Abramsky (Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund) feels the projects they have funded have made a real difference. Hudson's Historic Houses & Gardens 2015 is published in December by Hudson's Heritage (978 0851015590, £16.99, pb)

One of the major news stories this week has of course been the departure of British troops from Afghanistan. Death of a Soldier by Margaret Evison, was first published in late 2012 about a mother's very personal response to the death of her son whilst leading a patrol in Helmand Province, and her subsequent battle with the MOD to get to the truth.  Now with British troops having finally lowered the flag at Camp Bastion after 13 years and 453 deaths; a dramatisation of the book will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 10 November at 2.15pm (and thereafter it will be available on the BBC iplayer). Death of a Soldier shows us how Margaret Evison attempts to reconcile her own unanswerable sense of loss with the idea that her son died for a good cause. With her, we confront the horror of his death and witness her struggle to see epithets such as ‘heroic’ and ‘noble’ as more than a mask to hide that ugliness. Included in the book is Mark’s diary, kept while he was in Afghanistan and delivered to Margaret at home some weeks later. Widely quoted since its discovery, it contains the thoughts of a sensitive young officer and serves as a poignant reminder of the terrible human cost of the war in Afghanistan. Death of a Soldier is a vitally important reflection on loss, war and our responsibilites to those we send to fight. It is an extraordinary book, highly emotionally charged and among the best that Biteback feel they have ever published. Margaret Evison will be appearing on BBC News later this week, talking with Huw Edwards about the British casualties during  the campaign and Death of a Soldier (hb, 978 1849544498, £16.99) is available now.

It’s really good news that Played in London: Charting the Heritage of a City at Play by Simon Inglis (pb, 978 1848020573 25.00) has made it from the longlist onto a shortlist of seven titles competing to be the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. Congratulations to all at English Heritage! The books will compete for a £26,000 prize in the award’s 26th year and the winning author will also receive a free £2,500 William Hill bet, a hand-bound copy of their book, and a day at the races. The winner will be announced at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Thursday 27th November. Have a look here to see details of the other six titles, as reported in The Bookseller. Played in London reveals the history and heritage of sport in London covering a vast range of sports from rowing to rugby, archery to athletics, billiards to boxing and much more is beautifully illustrated with over 350 illustrations – ranging from archive and contemporary photography, maps and manuscripts. You can find out more and order it here.

A few more Halloween themed time wasters to finish – how about these fantastical pumpkin carvings,  and also here’s a very impressive one minute of speeded up pumpkin carving for you – hard to emulate – but impressive to watch! Happy Halloween!

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

This blog is read monthly by over 1,500  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 or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

Friday 24 October 2014

Compass Points 103

Who are the world’s craziest politicians? Well, according to Brian O’Connell, those in the UK are among the world's most bonkers! Boris Johnson, Brooks Newmark, Nigel Farage, Alex Salmond and George Galloway are singled out as some of the 300 nuttiest politicians in the world, along with Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin. The Fat Boy with the Bomb and 299 more of the World's Craziest Politicians identifies the downright dangerous leaders, as well as the just plain stupid lawmakers from around the world, and ranges from the endearingly eccentric to the pathologically insane. Here are the fanatics and the revolutionaries, the xenophobes and the homophobes, Islamists, Zionists and bible thumpers; anarchists and fascists, the idealists and the corrupt. Between them they’ve pronounced that homosexuality destroys nations, that wind turbines have motors in them to fool people and that that long hair saps energy from the brain.  "The US is known for producing stupid politicians," says Brian O'Connell. "But if I was handing out an award for the dumbest politician on the planet right now, it would have to go to Harvard and Oxford-educated, former banker, Brooks Newmark, although he's not the first politician to snap and share a selfie of his family jewels. Lars Ohly, former chairman of Sweden's Left party, accidentally shared his on Instagram." Joining Newmark are Brits Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Bill Ethreridge, Mark Reckless, George Galloway, Nadine Dorries, Douglas Carswell, Zac Goldsmith, Neil Hamilton, Kate Hoey, Denis Skinner, Alex Salmond, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Eric Joyce. "The UK actually has more than its fair share of whacko politicians," says O'Connell. "They're just more inbred and insipid than some of the crazier Americans." The Fat Boy with the Bomb and 299 more of the World's Craziest Politicians profiles individuals from every corner of the world; 18 of the included politicians come from Africa, 70 from North Americas,19 from Central and South America, 47 from Asia, 16 Australasia as well as 80 from Western Europe and 43 from Eastern Europe. And all have a brilliant caricature illustration by artist Norm Chung. This is a genre crossing gift book, for those enjoying humour, politics and current affairs, and is sure to provoke controversy and discussion! Everyone loves a list – and this list of 300 wackos is hilarious!  "I'm not trying to shock," says O'Connell. “But this book is really about lifting the lid on the mad and bad that the world doesn't yet know, like Quincy Timberlake who says he plans to stand in the 2017 Kenyan presidential elections, but has been charged with the murder of his three year old son." The Fat Boy with a Bomb (978 1910183090 £12.99, pb) by Brian O'Connell and Norm Chung is published by Myrmidon Books in November.

Here’s a very funny Brooks Newmark moment on Have I Got News For You.

And here’s a little moment from the crazy crazy world inside the head of Kim Jong Un!

The Official Formula 1 Season Review 2014 is the inside story from the paddocks, pit lanes and track-side of the world’s most thrilling motorsport series. The Official Formula 1 Season Review 20 14 gives fans a unique, access-all-areas pass behind the scenes of one of the most thrilling F1 seasons of recent years. Throwing new light on all the headlines and key incidents, this official Formula One Management review includes a foreword by Bernie Ecclestone and features full race reports from all 19 races. Completely re-designed for the 2014 season, illustrated with amazing photography from LAT and with exclusive insight from the drivers themselves, this book also contains all the official statistics from an action-packed year of Formula 1 racing. The Official Formula 1 Season Review 2014 is published in December by Illustrated London News (978 0957532069, hb, £35)

And what do Formula 1 Drivers do when they’re not driving? Make even more money starring in cheesy commercials of course - have a look at this selection!

What are we all thinking about at this time of year? No, not how many dreadful relatives we’re going to have to put up with at Christmas, but next year’s holidays of course! So don’t forget to stock B&Bs and Hotels 2015 , Camping, Touring and Holiday Parks 2015 and Self Catering 2015, all published by VisitBritain. These three titles have everything your customers need for a great British holiday or short break: where to go, what to do and how to get there. They contain thousands of colour photos, and are the authoritative voice on national tourism. And six golden prize tickets are included inside the guides - worth £500 each! B&Bs and Hotels 2015 (978 0851015491, £8.99), Camping, Touring and Holiday Parks 2015 (978 0851015507, £5.99) and Self Catering 2015 (978 0851015484, £5.99) are all paperbacks and are published in December.

Great news for Carcanet’s author Louise Glück whose poetry collection Faithful and Virtuous Night (also shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize) has been shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize, which is to increase the winner’s award to £20,000 from 2015.The prize money, previously £15,000, has been increased to mark the 50th anniversary of T S Eliot’s death on 4th January next year, and each of the shortlisted poets will receive £1,500. Jonathan Cape has three shortlisted poets – John Burnside, for All One Breath, Michael Longley for The Stairwell; also shortlisted is previous winner Hugo Williams, this time for his collection I Knew the Bride (Faber). Faber has a second shortlisting for David Harsent’s Fire Songs and Ruth Padel is shortlisted for Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth (Chatto & Windus). The other shortlisted poets are Pascale Petit for Fauverie ( Seren); Iraq war veteran Kevin Powers for Letter Composed During a Lull in Fighting (Sceptre); and Arundhathi Subramaniam for When God is a Traveller (Bloodaxe). Chair of judges Helen Dunmore said: “After reading more than a hundred poetry collections the three judges for this year's T S Eliot Prize were delighted - and excited - by the quality of the work submitted. Our shortlist reflects the musicality, mastery and ambition of these ten chosen poets.  It's worth saying that while our discussions were searching; our decisions were in all cases unanimous.”  The T S Eliot Prize Readings will take place on 11th January in Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and the winner will be announced at an award ceremony at the Wallace Collection in London on 12th January. Faithful and Virtuous Night (978 1 847774 79 8, £9.95, pb) by Louise Glück is available now, find out more on the Carcanet website here.

Who said: “One martini is all right, two are too many, three are not enough”? And which tipple provided the creative madness behind Picasso, Hemmingway and Toulouse-Lautrec? And how can you test the percentage of alcohol in a drink using the perfectly safe ‘gunpowder and magnifying glass’ trick? Discover the answers to these conundrums and many more in Who’s on the Bottle: Liquid Curiosities Uncorked by Robert Booth. This is anthology of the forgotten creators of, and the stories behind the drinks now known and enjoyed worldwide. You can find out all about the original cola wars of Dr John Pemberton and Caleb Davis Bradham as well as discovering how Beau Brummel thought you could be decadent and fastidious in equal measure with your champagne. An entertaining addition to the Christmas food and drink gift section of your bookshop; Who’s on the Bottle: Liquid Curiosities Uncorked (978 1909657748, £9.99, hb) by Robert Booth is published in November by Bene Factum Publishing and you can find out more and order it here.

Talking of cola wars, you’ve gotta love this old ad for Pepsi – well it made me smile anyway!

We've just heard that Griff Rhys Jones will be on The One Show next Wednesday promoting great Welsh national treasures (yes we do have plenty thank you very much) and more to the point, talking up Insufficiently Welsh (978 1909844995, pb, £9.99). The One Show has a very big audience – and this is great publicity for this book which is published in November by Parthian. No need to remind you that Griff Rhys Jones is definitely a bit of a national treasure himself, and this book will appeal to his many fans, as he searches for that Welsh part of himself that he has felt ever since being forced to sing in the choir in church and pack down for the school first XV, all in suburban Essex. It’s packed with all manner of weird, wonderful and enlightening facts and you’ll learn as much about Wales as you do Griff! As he says: “I am going out on the road to search for my Celtic roots and explore ‘the land of my aunties’ The language, the landscape, rugby, dogs, legends, botany, wildlife, furniture and a bit more on the side: I looked into them all and here are the results...”

Always interesting to hear famous people’s school stories, as it usually gives hope to all of us that anyone can succeed despite a succession of horrendous school reports! Telling Tales Out of School: A Miscellany of Celebrity School Days by Jonathan Sale is a fascinating collection of interviews with celebrities who, whilst normally reticent about their adult personal lives speak candidly about their childhood. Their stories are intriguing and their anecdotes often startling and hilarious. So which celebrities are included I hear you ask? Well, how about David Bailey, Rory McGrath, Clare Balding, Jeremy Vine, Cherie Blair, Steve Redgrave, Chris Packham, Billy Bragg, Terry Jones, Melvyn Bragg, Duncan Bannatyne, Gary Lineker, Simon Schama, the Astronomer Royal, Zippo the Clown for starters? These and 200 other well-known and interesting broadcasters, writers, actors, singers, scientists, politicians, sportsmen and sportswomen pay tribute to the teachers who opened doors and sneak on the ones who slammed doors in their faces. At times hilarious and at times incredibly poignant, this book will transport all of us back to our formative years. Telling Tales Out of School (9781849547734, £17.99, hb) by Jonathan Sale is published in November by Robson Press and you can order it here.

Talking of school days nostalgia, which is the best school pop video of all time do you think? Is it Madness’s Baggy Trousers? Or could it be Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall? Now that is a tricky one…

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

This blog for booksellers, publishers and publicists has over 1,500 readers a month. 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.

Friday 17 October 2014

Compass Points 102

Hello there! Who’d like to give up their job as a lowly bookseller and become a secret agent? Or maybe some of you are operating in deep cover, and are already on her Majesty’s Secret Service? As Scouting for Girls memorably sang, who doesn’t Wish they Were James Bond – and you can watch a great montage of that pop song here!

This Christmas, everyone can get a taste of life as a Double O with a cracking bit of publishing from Biteback: The Secret Agent's Bedside Reader. This handsome hardback is a terrific collection of thrilling and absorbing stories told by some of the greatest spies and spy writers ever.  Daring wartime plans devised by Ian Fleming to steal an Enigma machine for the Bletchley Park code breakers sit side by side with reports from MI6 traitor Kim Philby to Moscow Centre, operations in Bolshevik Russia, and the literary spy stories of Joseph Conrad and Erskine Childers. This is the ultimate book for those fascinated by espionage and spies, and with its enticing mix of fictional and real spies , there is nothing else available on the market like this. And best of all, the collection is edited by a former intelligence officer and one of the leading authorities on the history of Britain's spies; Michael Smith, who really knows his stuff. Each story is accompanied by an expert introduction from Smith on everything from John Buchan's classic The 39 Steps, to accounts by Sir Paul Dukes and George Hill, two of the earliest heroes of MI6; and descriptions by the Cambridge spies from the KGB archives of the details they passed to the Russians. Stories of espionage never cease to engage and enthral and this really is a perfect Christmas gift for readers of espionage fact and fiction – a colossal market! The Secret Agent's Bedside Reader edited by Michael Smith was published last month by Biteback (£20, hb, 978 1849547406).

Well, in my opinion you can never really have too much of James Bond – so have a watch here  for a very classy 50 years of the suave one – set to Adele’s Skyfall.

The Good Hotel Guide 2015 by Desmond Balmer and Adam Raphael (pb, £20, 9780954940492) was launched at a party last week where they handed out the much coveted awards for the best places to stay in Britain. Awards included Newcomer of the Year, Best Small Hotel, Family Friendly Hotel, Most Dog Friendly Hotel and many more, and there has been plenty of publicity including this big piece in the Daily Mail. The Good Hotel Guide is the market leader. It is totally independent, extremely comprehensive, includes £150 worth of discount vouchers, contains user-friendly colour maps and covers nearly 900 selected hotels in Great Britain and Ireland. This is the peak time of year for your customers to be thinking about their next year’s hols – make the most of the great publicity for this book and keep The Good Hotel Guide 2015 on prominent display!

Now which award would this small hotel in Torquay win do you think? Best view perhaps?!

The dust is still settling – or rather swirling – from the storm that was the Scottish referendum – and opportunely, Biteback have just signed up an insider account of the Scottish independence referendum, by Daily Telegraph journalist Alan Cochrane. Alex Salmond – My Part in his Downfall will be published as a hardback on 18 November, and draws on Cochrane's diaries, columns and interviews with politicians, written over the past three years, covering the entire independence campaign. Cochrane, the Scottish editor of the Telegraph, was described by Salmond's wife as a "ghastly man" and had close access to politicians throughout the events of the campaign. The book is described as an account of "the cynical, the chaotic, the incompetent and the cruel world of politics, sparing no one from with withering observations." Cochrane emerged as one of the Unionist heroes in the  independence battle and used his daily newspaper columns, and long list of Westminster and Scottish contacts to plot behind the scenes, mounting a mission all of his own to see off the Scottish Nationalist threat and bring about the downfall of the SNP leader. Now he reveals how the UK was really won. Through the pages of his detailed diary, kept secretly throughout the three years of the build-up to the referendum, he offers insights into every stage of the historic campaign. With his access to David Cameron, Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown and everyone in between, this is going to be a unique and explosive piece of publishing!  Alex Salmond – My Part in his Downfall by Alan Cochrane (hb, £18.99 978 1849548267) is published by Biteback.

Bookworms, Dog-Ears and Squashy Big Armchairs: A Book Lover’s Alphabet by Heather Reyes has just been selected by Readers Digest as their Book of the Month for December. Readers Digest’s circulation is 214,000, its readership is 986,000 and the digital and print audience per month is 1.1m so this is great publicity.  This endearing title was also the editor’s pick in The Bookseller for November, with Caroline Sanderson saying. “Here's to squashy big armchairs and everyone buying lots of books this Christmas ... this informative compendium of thought-provoking bookish facts and anecdotes, written with the same wit, style and erudition which characterised Reyes' An Everywhere: A Little Book About Reading. A delightful gift for a fellow book-lover”. Bookworms, Dog-Ears and Squashy Big Armchairs: A Book Lover’s Alphabet by Heather Reyes (pb, £8.99, 978 0992636463) is published in November by Oxygen Books and you can order it here.

Current crazes within fiction (The White Queen; A Discovery of Witches), film (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) and television (True Blood; Supernatural) prove that our fascination with witchcraft, Wicca and ancient lore is far from over. Charmed: 200 Spells Omens and Charms to Entrance Your Lover is an exquisitely illustrated lavish gift book which offers 200 pearls of ancient wisdom and romantic lore. There is a big market for this sort of nonsense – sorry invaluable hints and potent rituals – for example Titania Hardie’s light-hearted series of spell books have sold well over a million copies in the UK alone. So whether your customers are planning the wedding of their dreams, looking to entrance an elusive new love, or still seeking a soul-mate to set your heart aflame; Charmed (hb, £9.99, 978 0859655262) is for them! It’s published in October by Plexus and you can find out more and order it here.

Let’s have a little burst of Love Potion Number Nine to get us in the mood shall we – loving this cool 1971 version from The Coasters!

That’s China by Mark Kitto is a British entrepreneur’s memoir about his daring attempt to force open China’s closed media sector. To the Chinese communist party, media is state propaganda. No individuals, let alone foreigners will ever have a stake in it. For seven roller-coaster years, Mark Kitto outwitted competitors and jealous partners to build the most popular and profitable English language publishing business in China since 1949. No foreigner in modern times has come so close to the heart of the Chinese propaganda machine on his own terms. Not even Rupert. Told with self deprecating humour, and unsettling honesty; this is that rare thing, a business saga that will have you on the edge of your seat to the final showdown in the highest law court in China. That’s China by Mark Kitto (pb, £9.99, 978 9881677570) is published by Forty-six in November, and Mark will be doing lots of publicity for it – it’s sure to attract attention. His first book, about his experience of living in ChinaChina Cuckoo – was a bestseller, and will be republished next year by Forty-six in an updated edition.

Talking of business entrepreneurs; The Apprentice is back – yay! Sadly, I can’t bring you any Apprentice related publishing, but I can give you a chance to look again at the genius Cassetteboy skit on some of Siralan's finest moments! Enjoy!

And finally – when you  lock up your bookshops this evening and go home, at whatever ungodly hour that may be – please please check to make sure no hapless American tourist is hiding behind that pile of Gone Girls and Awful Aunties! Pity poor David Willis who had been browsing in Waterstone’s in Trafalgar Square yesterday, but went downstairs shortly after 9pm to find the lights out and the shop deserted. Despite calls to the shop’s security and police, he spent two hours trapped inside the darkened store – and was only rescued when he used Twitter to alert the world to his predicament! Read the whole story in the Guardian here.

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

This blog is read by  booksellers as well as publishers and publicists, and gets over 1,500 hits a month! 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.

Friday 10 October 2014

Compass Points 101

We start with two sober – but ultimately inspiring titles. Placed in care at a very early age, Paolo Hewitt went to live with a foster family where he endured extreme abuse and humiliation. Following years of abuse he was sent to Burbank children's home at the age of ten where he met a gang of children. Like him, they w ere outsiders struggling to find their place in the world. Paolo paints a vivid picture of his coming of age in his classic memoir of growing up in care; The Looked After Kid – a testament to the resilience of children who “go to sleep at night believing the world to be a dark and terrible place” but wonderfully emerge from the darkness to shine their lights on all. Irvine Welsh called it: “An uplifting story about refusing to give up on your dreams... real inspiration to loads of people who have had similar backgrounds to Paolo.” This title originally sold 10,000 copies via Mainstream/Random House and has now been fully revised with a new section describing the reaction to the book and the authors' subsequent work with children in care. It is published this month by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
And Paolo Hewitt has also written a brand new title which will be published on the same day. But We All Shine On tells the inspiring story of the author’s journey to track down the group of friends who shared his childhood in care at the children's home. Stepping into the past, Paolo hears remarkable stories about how his friends coped with life both in and out of care. We meet Des, the boy who reinvented himself, Norman, the runaway child who crossed a continent, David, the boy who couldn't be heard, and the curious case of Terry – the child who stood in a school field for four days. Paolo hears about his friends' struggles and triumphs, and discovers many things: about himself, about care, but most of all about the indomitable force of the human spirit – even when faced with the most overwhelming odds. These are two extraordinary titles, and sadly, the stories that Hewitt tells, could not be more pertinent today with the revelations about life in care that come to light on an almost daily basis.  As Dr Robert of The Blow Monkeys says: “Hewitt has shed a light on the murky world of late 60s and early 70s children's homes. An empathetic listener and master story teller his is the authentic voice... from the inside… first hand. The characters are his friends. They trust him. The stories herein are touching, funny and most of all redemptive. It's quite possibly his masterpiece.” These are books that that many people will want to read, and the media will be very interested in. Paolo Hewitt is a well-known journalist with a strong media profile, and there will be a big interview with Margarette Driscoll in the Sunday Times this weekend or next.  The publishers are be backing up the article with ads on Facebook and Twitter mentioning the article and the new book, and I am certain there will be more press coverage to come – the books have evocative covers and these moving accounts of the strength and resilience of children are gripping, insightful and honest and deserve to sell extremely well. But We All Shine On: The Remarkable Orphans of Burbank Children's Home (978 1849055833, £8.99, pb) and The Looked After Kid: Memoirs from a Children's Home (978 1849055888, pb, £12.99) by Paolo Hewitt are published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers on 21 October.

For something a little lighter, don’t forget about Brandon Graham’s hilarious novel Good for Nothing which is being reissued in paperback in time for Christmas by Skyscraper (November 27th, £8.99, 978 095518105 4). This title has had huge number of word of mouth recommendations, and readers on Amazon absolutely love it saying “this is unlike anything I have read lately…a brilliant book and Brandon Graham is a very special writer… both literary and popular…amazing, page-turning, FUN and insightful read. … You MUST share some funny lines with your spouse because it's THAT GOOD. … A seamless, brilliantly-paced book. … I cannot wait for Brandon Graham’s next book… an entertaining, funny and yet poignant look at modern life…” The Daily Mail called it “very, very funny” and Stephen Fry said he was “enchanted.” If you haven’t read it yet – please do – it’s been one of the most universally enjoyed titles here in the Compass Office for this year – and it cheers you up no end!

The News is Read By…  by Charlotte Green (978 1849546911, hb,  £20.00) is getting absolutely loads of publicity at present thanks to Charlotte’s willingness to tell all about her BBC boss’s wandering hands, and other sex pest stories from the 1970’s. You can read some of the revelations from the book in the Daily Mail here and in an article from the Telegraph here – both published last week. This autobiography in fact has far more of interest in it than those headlines might imply; since the broadcaster Charlotte Green is a true national treasure. When news broke that she was to replace James Alexander Gordon as the voice of BBC Radio 5’s football results, the Times announced, “Exquisite voice to announce results of the beautiful game”. Until her retirement in early 2013, Charlotte was the voice of Radio 4. Her warm and perfectly modulated tones reassured millions of devoted listeners that, despite some of the dreadful news stories she had to read out to the nation over a period of 27 years, we were safe in her hands. When she resigned listeners took to Twitter in their thousands to bemoan their loss and colleagues at the BBC gave her a rare spontaneous and emotional send-off. Charlotte was there with us, when we woke up in the mornings and as we drifted off to sleep at the end of the day, when she would read the Shipping Forecast. As the newsreader on Radio 4’s bulletins she describes how she got through the worst news stories, such as the London bombings on 7/7/05, for which she received a Sony Gold Award. Memorably her bulletins would occasionally degenerate into suppressed laughter or a full-on fit of giggles on air during the very serious Today programme. Her highly entertaining autobiography is a the book all Radio 4 and Classic FM devotees will feel compelled to buy for the joy of spending a few hours in her company, and finding out about this wonderfully warm, funny and modest woman whose writing is as beautiful as her voice. I know this is a phrase that you have probably heard one time too many this autumn from various keenie beanie publisher’s reps – but this book genuinely is the perfect Christmas prezzie for all those hard-to-buy-for older rellies! It is published by Robson Press and you can order The News is Read By here

Let’s just hear that very funny moment when Charlotte cracks up on air here!

And here is a little compilation of Charlotte Green – and others – reading that classic of British Broadcasting; The Shipping Forecast.

That one doesn’t include that lovely lovely music for the late night forecast though, so let's have a little burst of that shall we!

Well, if that has caused you to all have a little doze for a few moments, imagine if while you were having your afternoon siesta in the stock room you could actually decide what you wanted to dream about. A pretty appealing thought you must agree, and now Lucid Dreaming: A Beginners Guide to Becoming Conscious in Your Dreams by Charlie Morley will show us all how to do just that. A fascinating and accessible introduction to the theory, practice, and innovative techniques behind becoming lucid in your dreams; this book spells out the benefits of living a more awakened life and also contains amazing, real-life case studies and contributions from the world's leading lucid dreaming experts. Lucid Dreaming: A Beginners Guide to Becoming Conscious in Your Dreams by Charlie Morley (978 1781803431, pb, 8.99) is published by Hay House in November.

You can watch Charlie Morley talk abut Lucid Dreaming here on YouTube – it’s had 73,000 views so far!

Well this all sounds a bit like the plot of Inception – and if like me you never really worked out what on earth this film was on about – then you’ll enjoy this honest trailer – i.e. NOT the official one!

Something that probably won’t be featuring in your lucid dreams is a middle aged man in Lycra – but nevertheless, there are an awful lot of them around these days.  How to be A Cyclist: An A-Z of Life on Two Wheels by John Deering and Phil Ashley (hb, 978 1909715158, £12.99) was launched this week in London at a party stuffed full of hearty biking types. As one reader has commented, “this book is both useful and funny, like a bin man in his underwear.” Cycling has never been more popular, and this humorous one-of-a-kind gift book features some stunning photography, as well as much laugh-out-loud advice. It’s an essential manual and source of wisdom for those who would be kings of the road. Many pitfalls await the unwary middle-aged-man-in-Lycra, but fear not, for the Guide is here to steer you through choppy waters. No more passing out halfway up a hill. No more ridicule in the work place. No more hurty knee. And no more sock crimes. Pearls of wisdom are scattered throughout this book like rose petals before a princess on her wedding day. For instance, who could deny that life is too short to drink bad coffee? That a noisy bike is marginally more annoying than a whiney toddler? Or that style should ever be sacrificed for speed? Written by experts who know everything there is to know about cycling, yet never forget that there is nothing funnier than a rabbit playing a trumpet, How to Be a Cyclist is mandatory reading for all bike riders and is out now from Arena Sport. There’s lots of publicity coming up in the cycling mags and on social media – and should be some features in the general press this month too.

And if you want to become a real expert at all that ludicrous cyclist jargon then do have a look at this funny 3 min vid on YouTube here!

I bet you look good on the dance floor. No really – I do. Of course the savvy among you will realise that I am of course referring to those cool and trendy popstrels, the Arctic Monkeys. Arctic Monkeys: Pretend Memories (978 1905959730, £14.95) by Rob Jovanovic is an illustrated paperback biography of the band out from Red Planet Publishing in November. By all accounts it is now time for a good book about this multiple No 1 band, and the fact that there will be no new album before Christmas means this book will be the perfect purchase for their fans. The Arctic Monkeys are the most interesting British band of the 21st century, constantly evolving but ensuring that each album kicks just as hard and fast as the previous one. Alex Turner and co are not going away, this is a band in it for the long haul and their fan base is ultra-loyal. You don’t ‘grow out’ of the Arctic Monkeys. The band is riding higher than ever, which is pretty high. Every album has gone to number one in the UK (while they have also strengthened their following in the US and elsewhere overseas) and this lengthy in-depth appraisal with a 16 pages photographic section should sell really well.

And here is that classic Arctic Monkeys track from 2005, and also Do I Wanna Know? – love the video for this one!

And finally … here’s are some interesting musings on the art of book cover design – and some great examples – now that’s something that you certainly don’t get with an eBook!

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

This blog for booksellers is sent out weekly as an e-newsletter to 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.