Friday 30 January 2015

Compass Points 113

Well, there’s only one news story this week that has all the ingredients of a bestselling spy story – and that’s the extraordinary, scary and tragic tale of Alexander Litvinenko and his polonium poisoning by the Russian state. And Compass brings you the book written by Alexander Litvinenko himself that got him killed – Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Power by Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky. As Andrew Marr said when it was first published: “This is a book that should contain a very serious health warning on the cover” and sadly for Litvinenko that has certainly proved to be the case. Alexander Litvinenko served in the Russian military for more than 20years achieving the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. In 1999 he was arrested and imprisoned on charges that were later dismissed. After continuing further charges (equally dismissed), he escaped from Russia, and lived with his family in the UK. In his new forward to this book, Litvinenko's friend and collaborator Yuri Felshtinsky reveals that Litvinenko worked for Britain's secret service. He was murdered in 2006 in London. Felshtinsky was one of the last people to speak to Litvinenko hours before he succumbed to radio-active poisoning by Polonium 210. Blowing Up Russia is, as the Independent called it, a “pull-no-punches expose”, which was first published in 2013. The Sunday Times called it “A vivid condemnation of the Putin regime as has yet been written” while the Times said “For clues as to who wanted Alexander Litvinenko, you need look no farther than Blowing up Russia.”  The Litvinenko Enquiry will now  run for ten more weeks, during which the role of this book will be mentioned, and Britain’s relationship with Russia is under the spotlight on many other levels too – so you really do need this title in your bookshops! Blowing Up Russia (£8.99, pb, 978 1908096234) is published by Gibson Square and has been featured in pretty much every single national newspaper already – with lots more to come! You can find out more and order Blowing Up Russia here

Litvinenko was killed by polonium slipped by a Russian into his green tea; Bond was nearly killed by poison slipped by a Russian into his martini – who’d like to see that adrenaline-inducing scene again from Casino Royale?

Phew! Let’s go back in history to a time before Russia was quite such a scary place. This year of course is the 800th anniversary of King John’s sealing of Magna Carta - the most influential and far-reaching legal text the world has ever known. It is the founding document of individual freedom throughout the world, and Magna Carta: the Foundation of Freedom by Nicholas Vincent is published by Third Millennium Publishing .This is the definitive account of Magna Carta’s genesis and subsequent impact and is published with the official support of the UK Magna Carta Trust. Professor Nicholas Vincent is joined by a range of experts on Magna Carta from across the world to reflect on its enduring significance. This magnificent book has 192 pages in full colour with over 250 integrated colour illustrations, and as I have previously mentioned, the hardback (978 1 908990280, £44.95) of Magna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom is published in February, but it will no doubt be the paperback (pb, 978 1 908990488 £24.95) that will be the big seller, and that is coming in April. Magna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom was runner up in the prestigious Longman History Today Awards, in the category Best Historical Picture Researcher of the Year 2015. Magna Carta will be a prominent feature on the literary festival circuit this year, and four of the contributing authors will be appearing at events across the country:
  • Professor Nicholas Vincent, the book’s principal author and general editor, will appear at a Magna Carta event at the Oxford Literary Festival on 26 March 2015.
  • Professor Anthony Musson, author of the chapter on Magna Carta in the Later Middle Ages, will appear on a Magna Carta panel at Chipping Campden Literary Festival on 9 May 2015.
  • Justice Richard Goldstone, author of the chapter on Magna Carta in the 21st century, will appear on two Magna Carta panels at Hay on Wye Literary Festival on 23 and 24 May 2015.
  • Professor Miles Taylor, author of the chapter on Magna Carta in the 19th century, will appear at a Magna Carta event at Broughton Castle, Banbury on 25 June 2015.

And talking of the founding of freedom, and what it means to rever our British heritage – have a look here at 32 things that we Brits all know and love - on Buzzfeed of course!

Following their bestselling debut novel, Spring Tide, Cilla and Rolf Börjlind are back with the second instalment in the series, Third Voice.  Samira is dead. She died last night. But now she is looking down over the roofs of Marseille. She remembers how he strangled her, how he bashed in her skull with an ashtray. How he cut off her head and buried her body in six different places. She hopes someone will find her… some day. Olivia Rönning is still struggling to come to terms with her brutal entry into the world. Cut from the womb of her murdered mother, with only seconds to spare, she is left with haunting dreams, brutal feelings and guilt. From now on she has resolved to rely solely on herself. When Olivia’s friend Sandra discovers her father’s body hanging in the hall of their house, the police initially assume suicide. But something doesn’t sit right. Having veered away from her budding career as a police office, Olivia knows she should leave this alone – but she is just too close to this case, it’s personal now. Yes, I think you can definitely say we are back in the dark world of Scandi noir – and Third Voice promises to be just as gripping as the first novel in what the Express called “a major new crime series.” Third Voice (pb, 9781843915553, 8.99) by Cilla and Rolf Börjlind is published in March by Hesperus Nova and you can find out more and order it here

I don’t know about you, but I’m in the mood for a bit of music. Who’s heard of Bill Nelson and Be Bop Deluxe? Here’s a short burst to remind you. Bill Nelson is in fact one of the most respected creative forces in the UK. He came to prominence in the 1970s with his band Be Bop Deluxe and later Red Noise. He still releases a prolific amount of new music on various labels throughout the world and the first volume of his day-by-day diary in which he reflected on life, art and the nation; Diary of a Hyperdreamer, Volume 1; was very popular and had to go to reprint with interest throughout the world when it was published . Now in March from Pomona Books comes Diary of  Hyper Dreamer Volume Two. His unique perspective is fed by a lifetime’s work creating and producing music, photography, painting and video – pop, rock, film scores, television and ad themes, pop videos, as well as performance and video art. Written from his home in a hamlet in north Yorkshire where he lives with his Japanese wife Emi; it includes reflections on his various and diverse creative projects, mixed with philosophical and political musings. It also includes homespun details of an ordinary domestic life where he looks back at his time as a pop star, the best places to get a haircut in York and, of course, mortality. Be Bop Deluxe and Red Noise were massively popular and influential and Bill Nelson will promote this book at the sell-out shows he is playing throughout this year. A ‘Nelsonica’ festival is held each year attended by hundreds of fans. Diary of a Hyperdreamer Volume Two by Bill Nelson (£9.99, B-format paperback, 978 1904590316) is published in March and you can find out more and order it here.

Talking of pop music and being a Hyperdreamer; about a Top Five Songs about dreaming? I nominate this Mamas and Papas classic - and you’ve got to include this Monkees favourite of course. What’s that you say Billy? Get outta your dreams and into your car? Well alright then. Do we really think sweet dreams are made of this? And finally, yes I think we have to have another one from Mama Cass.  And please can I have all of the outfits worn in this week’s top five videos!

Who’s watching Wolf Hall? Fantastic isn’t it. And it reminds us of a time when royalty really did matter. Are we still as interested as to who rules us? And should the descendants of HenryVIII even be ruling us at all? Author Joan Smith feels that after Princess Diana, there seemed some hope that this country would finally grow up and get rid of the monarchy, the symbol of inequality and privilege. But the royals have been smart and were able to cleverly re-establish themselves. Now with William, Kate and their babies, it has become almost treasonable to argue for an elected head of state; which is why; according to Joan Smith that is exactly why it must be done. Down with the Royals is a new hardback in the Provocations series - short polemics composed by some of the most intriguing voices in contemporary culture. Never less than sharp, intelligent and controversial, Provocations is a major new contribution to some of the most vital discussions in society today. Down with the Royals by Joan Smith (£10.00, pb, 9781849548298) is published by Biteback in March and you can find out more and order it here

Schools are in the news again this week, with the publication of the controversial new league tables. But what really makes a good educator? Is it really something that Ofsted can measure? Or is it that indefinable something unique that ensures your pupils will remember you for life? The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher would have us believe that with the right techniques, guidance, skills and practise teachers can masterfully face any situation the classroom could throw at them. With their fresh perspectives, sage advice and a hint of silliness, Andy Cope Chris Henley and Gary Toward are convinced that they can show teachers how to unleash their brilliance. This paperback is for any teacher who has ever had a class that are angels for colleagues but Lucifer incarnate as soon as they cross the threshold of their classroom. Or who had their energy and enthusiasm sapped by a staffroom Grinch. With plenty of practical advice and top tips, this book will show teachers how to be the best. Andy Cope is the author of the famous Spy Dog books, a trainer and keynote speaker. Gary Toward is a trainer and keynote speaker who has previously taught in seven schools countrywide and has, more recently, been a teaching head. Chris Henley is a trainer and keynote speaker who has been teaching for over thirty years in three different secondary schools. There are nearly half a million teachers in the UK at present (yes you read that right, the exact figure is 478,839) so that is plenty of people who would like to read this book! The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher by Gary Toward, Chris Henley and Andy Cope (9781845909413, £9.99, pb) is published by Crown House Publishing in March and you can find out more and order it here

And just to finish, let’s have a lesson on Beowulf from Jack Whitehall showing us how NOT to be a brilliant teacher!

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

This blog is taken from a newsletter which is sent weekly to 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.

Friday 23 January 2015

Compass Points 112

Let’s start today with a bit of culture. Something beautiful and lasting, not just silly and transitory - the complete antithesis of all that online stuff we’re so addicted to in fact! As part of the Cultural Olympiad project, renowned poet Simon Armitage was commissioned to write six poems, which have now been carved into rocks in the landscape surrounding the Pennine Way. Stanza Stones is the record of that project, and very excitingly, the book and project will be showcased on BBC One’s Countryfile on Sunday 1 February 2015. The book is filled with pictures of the project as it progressed, of the stones themselves and the treasured Pennine landscape. These accompany Armitage’s poems and his account of the project, as well as the letter-carver’s work diary and the geographical expert who chose the stones’ locations. This is a beautiful book, which should appeal to a wide audience - Simon Armitage is one of the most popular poets writing today who is also well known for his travel of the Pennine Way, documented in 2012’s Walking Home (Faber). Stanza Stones (978 1987587 30 6, hb, £15, 240x165) by Simon Armitage with Tom Lonsdale and Pip Hall (which includes the 6 new poems) is published by Enitharmon Press. You can find out more about it on the Enitharmon website here

And you can see a short film from The British Library where Simon Armitage talks about the project here

While we’re on the subject of poetry and the great outdoors; who do you think claims to be Britain's only humorous gardening poet? No idea? Well that would be Liz Cowley - her first published collection: Outside in My Dressing Gown reached the top of the humorous verse chart on Amazon and was made into a Dublin stage show. Red Magazine called it “Charming, utterly approachable.” while the Sunday Independent said “If you do one thing this week, laugh at Liz’s lines.” Joanna Lumley enthused, “Poignant, approachable, witty, straight from the heart. I recognise myself in it. I think you will too.” Now Still in Slippers: New Poems for Garden Lovers by Liz Cowley (hb, £9.99 978-1-78334-075-0) is published in May (to-coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show) by Gibson Square. This is a lovely collection that will appeal to those who never normally enjoy poetry – funny, touching, beautifully observant, a warm and wonderful journey into a gardener’s heart. From ants to allotments, from weeds and weevils to worms and waterfalls, nothing escapes her as she takes us through the gardeners’ year with a wheelbarrow full of warmth and wit that will make you smile. Still in Slippers: New Poems for Garden Lovers by Liz Cowley is published in May and you can can find out more and order it here

If you can’t wait for spring, and would like to do a bit of virtual gardening right now, all from the comfort of your computer screen – then have a look here at these dazzling  time lapse pictures of blooms blooming – just gorgeous.

The Art of Being Ill: Or How to Be a Better Patient by Jill Sinclair (pb, £9.99, 978 1908754837) published by Freight continues its take over of the media – this week’s publicity includes a big piece in the Express which you can read here and Jill Sinclair will also be on BBC Radio Scotland in the next week, and on the Steve Wright Show on Radio 2 on 3 Feb!

New Year, new you, dry-anuary, get juicing, your body is a temple blah blah blah. If it all sounds a bit tricky and you would like something a bit more spiritual to ease you into 2015, then maybe The Reluctant Yogi: A Quirky Guide to the Practice That Can Change Your Life is for you. Over 1 million people practice yoga in the UK and their number is growing. However, like many people Carla McKay thought that yoga sounded a bit too good to be true. Things changed, however, when a friend persuaded her to give it try for a laugh after she separated from her husband. She did laugh – throughout. But the practice was also different from what she had expected. In The Reluctant Yogi she describes how her disbelief was slowly defeated, and asks experts what yoga does for her. She discovers that yoga has something for everyone of every shape and size, young to old. It will tone your body, calm your mind and make you sleep better, strengthen your bones, boost your immune system and even make you lose weight. The Telegraph said “Humorous…. Carla McKay does for yoga what Lynne Truss did for grammar” while the Daily Mail promises us it “can really change your life.” And talking of the Daily Mail, Carla has been commissioned by that newspaper to write a six part series on yoga, to appear every day in a four-page yoga supplement from 31 Jan. This means that every day for six days there will be four pages of promotion for this book in a national newspaper– so do make sure you have it in stock! The Reluctant Yogi: A Quirky Guide to the Practice that Can Change your Life by Carla McKay (pb, £7.99, 978 1906142995) was  published last year by Gibson Square, and really does show that yoga is not just for health nuts – it has already sold over 5,000 copies in paperback and digital formats. Find out more and order it here

Nope, still not feeling the yoga love? Well maybe this is more the sort of yoga you'd enjoy?

Do you subscribe to the view that “Football is a gentleman's game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen"? Well, whatever your personal view, a well-written sports books will always sell well, and Carwyn: A Personal Memoir by Alun Richards is certainly such a title. The Times described  it  as “One of the most readable books on rugby... a stylish contribution to the game’s history.” while the Observer called its author  Alun Richards “a craftsman, a wordsmith who can compel you to re-read and savour a sentence, a paragraph or a number of pages...” Carwyn James (1929-1983) treated rugby football as if it was an art form and this son of a miner was a cultivated literary scholar, an accomplished linguist, a teacher, and a would-be patriot politician, who also won two caps for Wales at outside-half. He was the first man to coach any British Lions side to overseas victory, and still the only one to beat the All Blacks in a series in New Zealand. That was in 1971, and it was followed in 1972 by the triumph of his beloved Llanelli against the touring All Blacks at Stradey Park. These were the high-water marks of a life of complexity and contradiction. His subsequent and successful career as broadcaster and journalist and then a return to the game as a coach in Italy never quite settled his restless nature and after his sudden death, alone in an Amsterdam hotel, his close friend Alun Richards set out to reflect on the enigma that had been Carwyn. The result, a masterpiece of sports writing, is a reflection on the connected yet divergent cultural forces which had shaped both the rugby coach and the author; a dazzling sidestep of an essay in both social and personal interpretation. Carwyn: A Personal Memoir by Alun Richards (pb, £8.99, 978 1910409862) is published by Parthian in May, and you can find out more and order it here

I Me: The Science of Self-Love. Whether you think that is a title that represents everything that is wrong with Britain today, or a book you really fancy reading, will no doubt depend on your age and attitude to self help books in general! In this paperback, bestselling author David R Hamilton (who has a background as a scientist and a PhD in chemistry) fuses science with self-help, to offer simple yet powerful strategies for learning to love yourself. Throughout I Heart Me, you will learn that loving yourself means more than feeling good about yourself or being kind to yourself - it's about being self-confident, being unconcerned about whether you're liked, and about living your own life, not someone else's idea of what your life should be. You will be touched by the profound wisdom held in the pages of this book, and inspired by the simple ways in which you can achieve significant breakthroughs in your own self-love journey. Hmmmm.  I Me: The Science of Self-Love (£12.99, pb, 9781781801840) by David R Hamilton is published by Hay House in February and  will feature in Glamour magazine (circ. 405,000) and also Tesco magazine (circ. 1.9 million). The book and author will also feature in the February issue of Top Sante (circ. 50,000) and Soul & Spirit magazine (circ. 45,000).

There is probably no better expression of self-love than now ubiquitous selfie – but in case you have been living under a rock for the last year and haven’t seen any - here’s a 90-second video showing some of the most infamous!

 Perhaps our second biggest obsession today after taking selfies, is asking Google to sort out our lives for us. Have you ever wondered how it would feel if Google were actually a man, sitting there with his infinite filing cabinet, listening to our ludicrous requests? Wonder no more; this is how it would be!

Goodness me, isn’t it cold today? But at least we are in our nice warm homes and bookshops, and not stuck out on the great ice barrier in Antarctica. Shackleton’s Heroes is a genuine treasure of Antarctic history, and an almost unbelievable tale of real heroes who risked themselves for the lives of others. It has been pieced together from never-before-published diaries from a hundred years ago and tells the extraordinary story of how a small party of men, against almost insurmountable obstacles, put down vital food depots on the Great Ice Barrier for Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914–1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Their efforts to help each other survive comprise some of the most incredible feats of heroism in the history of polar exploration, which until now have been entirely overshadowed by the legendary feat of Shackleton on the other side of the continent after the sinking of the Endurance. The complete story is revealed here for the first time, through the diaries of these forgotten men, written out on the ice and at their base camp. We can experience their pain and suffering through their own words, 100 years after the original expedition began. With a foreword by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Shackleton’s Heroes is an adventure story of the highest calibre. Shackleton’s Heroes by Wilson McOrist (978 1849548151, hb with photos and drawings, £20.00) is published by Robson Press in March and you can find out more and order it here

And finally, which have been your favourite book jackets from the last 12 months? Have a look here at this selection, chosen by the Bookseller.

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

This blog is taken from our Compass Points newsletter which is sent weekly 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.

Friday 16 January 2015

Compass Points 111

I think we can safely assume that stories about the forthcoming general election on 7 May will be dominating the media for the next five months – and even if you are already tired of hearing about it, there will be no escaping! What do you make of this week’s announcement by pub landlord Al Murray that he will be standing on behalf of FUKP (Free the UK Party) against Nigel Farage? You can see his highly entertaining 4-minute party political broadcast here on YouTube. Luckily we have Purple Revolution: The Year That Changed Everything (978 1849548632, pb, £9.99) published by Biteback in March, to give us Nigel’s side of the story! This book is not an autobiography, but rather the untold story of the journey UKIP has travelled under Farage’s leadership, from the icy fringes of British politics all the way to Westminster, where it is poised to claim the popular vote. The Purple Revolution details what UKIP would be prepared to accept in the event of a hung parliament. It tells how the party continues to woo politicians from left and right, and, for the first time, reveals exactly how Farage and his supporters have ushered in a very English revolution: secretly courting MPs in the tea rooms and wine bars of the House of Lords. This extraordinary book takes us beyond the caricature of the beer-drinking, chain-smoking adventurer to describe the values that underpin Farage’s own journey; from successful City trader to critic of the European Union and champion of Britain’s right to govern itself, revealing his personal vision for a Britain outside the EU. This book contains major untold insider material told by Nigel Farage himself, and of course there will be a major press campaign featuring author appearances and interviews.

And if you’d like a really intriguing take on  what may or may not happen on 7 May – then do have a look at this brilliantly clear history of every general election since 1945 – in twelve easy to understand graphs – brought to us from The New Statesman – fascinating stuff.

Don’t forget to keep The Art of Being Ill: Or How to Be a Better Patient by Jill Sinclair (pb, £9.99, 978 1908754837) on prominent display in your shop for all of those sniffling snuffling customers who shuffle into your shop dosed up on Lemsip and Night Nurse. I mentioned it last week; it was published last autumn by Freight and is getting tons of publicity at the moment – including a colossal front page spread on the cover of last Saturday’s Telegraph Weekend section– and there is more to come tomorrow. This  hilarious how-to guide teaching readers about the subtle art of being an invalid is also going to be featured in the Independent on Sunday, the Sun , Good Housekeeping and on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio London, and BBC Radio Sussex.

Talking of keeping healthy, I heard Jason Vale yesterday on Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Radio Two, talking about his new book Super Juice Me! A 28-Day Juice Plan by Jason Vale. My goodness me, you could not have got a better plug for this title! The audience for Steve Wright’s show is huge (over 8 million – yes you read that right!!)  and the author spoke persuasively for nearly ten minutes about why everyone should buy this book – all accompanied by massive enthusiasm from Steve Wright and his Big Show team! You can listen to the 8-minute clip on the iplayer here
Jason Vale believes Super Juice Me! is without question the single most effective juice diet yet; and challenges anyone overweight or suffering from a lifestyle disease to try it on for size. To reiterate – nearly one in seven people in Britain will have heard Radio Two’s glowing endorsement for this book – surely we can persuade some of them to buy it! Super Juice Me! A 28-Day Juice Plan (£11.99, pb, 978 0954766450) has just been published by Crown House Publishing and you can find out more and order it here

Frankly just reading about a 28 Day Juice Fast is making me feel a little bit faint, so I think it’s probably time for a cup of coffee, a Yorkie bar – and a sit down with one of the titles from one of our newest publishers, Choc-Lit. Described as” highly readable popular fiction” by the Daily Mail, this publisher promises romantic fiction where “the heroes are like chocolate – irresistible”. It’s always great to have a new publisher in the Compass Team, so a warm welcome to Choc-Lit! This publisher has hit on a savvy scheme to ensure that they are bringing out the well written, highly readable novels their readers want; by insisting on a very rigorous vetting process for every book. 
All prospective titles are sent out electronically to a hundred enthusiastic readers, and only if a title meets with their approval is the novel taken on.  They have clearly hit on a winning formula as the books are devoured by fans – and they have many Romantic Novelist Award winners on their list. As the book bloggers write: “The Choc-lit logo on a book has become a mark of outstanding quality in women's fiction”. 
The first titles you can order from Compass are The Soft Whisper of Dreams by Christina Courtenay (pb, 978 1781892237 £7.99 which is published in March (find out more and order it here) and then there’s The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson (pb, £7.99, 978 1781892244) coming in April which you can find out more about here. The Sun said of it that “the emotional aspect is weighed equally with fantastic humour…thoroughly enjoyable.”

If you want to find out a bit more about Choc-Lit, have a look at their website,

Who has heard of Gertrude Bell? Known “The Queen of the Desert” she was a formidable British diplomat, explorer and archaeologist who travelled extensively through the Middle East in the early twentieth century and helped draw the boundaries of the country that became Iraq. Maybe she is not hugely well known at present, but all that is set to change as a new Hollywood film based on her life, Queen of the Desert, directed by Werner Herzog and starring Nicole Kidman (who recently declared “I'm completely enraptured with Gertrude Bell”) comes out later this year. The film also features James Franco, Damian Lewis and Robert Pattinson. No release date or trailer yet – Compass Points will bring you one as soon as it’s available! In the meantime, you can order the book, Tales from Queen of the Desert by Gertrude Bell (pb, £8.99, 978 1843915478) which is published by Hesperus in February. This selection of Gertrude Bell’s writings is taken from her books, and also contains original love letters from the Gertrude Bell archive, which are published together here for the first time. This unique collection, from someone who the Guardian described as “A gap-year adventurer ahead of her time, who preferred wandering the Arabian desert to life as a debutante in Victorian London is witty, inspiring and incisive and you can find out more and order it here

Gertrude Bell certainly sounds like the sort of formidable and fascinating person, who might have made it into this brilliant list of 50 Cool People – if list making had been the obsession in Victorian England that it is today! Have a look at these fab photos here – and see if you agree with their definition of what it is to have real old school cool.

Talking of films, the 2015 Oscar nominations are in, and not everyone's happy about them. While Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya were all on the list for Best Animated Feature Film category, one fan favourite was noticeably absent: The Lego Movie. In the Twitterverse and beyond, rage ensued. Have a look here to see director of The Lego Movie’s brilliant response!

The Queen Mother – lovable national treasure, adored by millions and beloved grannie to our future king – or a bitchy, foul mouthed tyrant, who was “dotty to the point of lunacy”.  Here’s Spitting Image’s view of her in this sketch from 1986. Now a highly entertaining new royal biography; Backstairs Billy: The Royal Life of William Tallon by Tom Quinn is set to show us the royal family in a whole new light, through the eyes of one of its most extrovert characters. William Tallon, who died in 2007, was a shopkeeper’s son from the Midlands who worked for the Queen Mother for more than fifty years and became her most trusted servant. Known as Backstairs Billy’, he was charming, bitchy— and extremely promiscuous. As far as the public was concerned, the royal family was a model of reticence. But Billy saw the other side of a family whose members loved drinking and smoking, swearing and playing sometimes cruel practical jokes on each other in private. They hated anything serious and were constantly making jokes at each other’s expense. The Queen Mother was especially good at all this, according to Billy. This was partly because she had a great sense of fun and partly because, for the last twenty years of her life, she was dotty to the point of lunacy. Outrageously funny, scandalous, sometimes shocking, but always fascinating, this is the life story of one of the most original characters ever to have graced the royal household. There is already a bit of a buzz building about this title – here’s a little clip from a US website claiming to detail the “royal family’s fury” at its forthcoming publication. It will certainly get a great deal of media coverage – and a major serialisation is under negotiation. Backstairs Billy by Tom Quinn (hb, £20, 978 1849547802) is published by Robson Press in March and you can find out more and order it here

And finally, as you probably all know, award-winning illustrator Jim Kay has been chosen to illustrate all seven Harry Potter books for a re-release of the series which will be released one at a time over the course of the next seven years, with the first one (The Philosopher’s Stone) coming out this October. Bloomsbury has just released a sneak peek of some of the character illustrations including Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Draco Malfoy, and (of course) Harry himself. Have a look here – do they look as you imagined them?

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

This blog is read by thousands of 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.

Friday 9 January 2015

Compass Points 110

We start the year reminded in the grimmest possible way of the power of the pen, and how important our freedom to write, draw and publish what ever we choose really is. Here’s an excellent summary on BuzzFeed of how our British satirists and comic writers have responded so far to the terrible atrocities in France.

In other news now, here’s a round up of the new Compass titles that are getting some good publicity at present.

Policy Press is starting the year with the publication of potentially their best-selling title ever! Back to the Future of Socialism by Labour MP for Neath, Peter Hain (hb, 978 1447321668, £20.00) is a highly personal, accessibly written polemic, redefining Labour’s future. There has just been a big article by Peter Hain on his book in the Guardian, which you can read here, and Peter will also be on the Andrew Marr show and Question Time – which is certain to increase awareness and demand for this title.

Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke has just been published by Hesperus Nova (pb, 978 1843915485 £8.99) and has been featured in Elle Magazine. This is a dark and chilling thriller with a fab cover, which combines domestic drama with elements of psychological suspense and horror and is perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep.

The Art of Being Ill: Or How to Be a Better Patient by Jill Sinclair (pb, £9.99, 978 1908754837) which was published last autumn by Freight;  will be featured in the Telegraph Weekend section this Saturday (10th January) with an extract included; and also on Sat 17th January. BBC Radio London is also doing a piece on this title on the 13th. The Art of Being Ill is a hilarious how-to guide which will teach readers about the subtle art of being an invalid. It covers age-old remedies for common maladies, all but forgotten treatments, and the vital preparations that should be made to make being bed-ridden as comfortable and productive as possible. If you’ve ever felt that you're doing a poor job of feeling poorly, failing in your ailing and missing out on TLC then this is the title for you! 

The English Railway Station by Steven Parrisien ( hb, £19.99 978 1848022362 ) which was published by English Heritage in November is also getting some good coverage. This is an accessible, engaging and comprehensively illustrated general history of the architectural development and social history of the British railway station, from the dawn of the Railway Age to the ravages of the 1960s and the station's rebirth at the end of the 20th century. It traces how the station evolved into a recognisable building type, examines the great cathedrals and the evocative country stations of the Victorian era, and looks at how the railway station has, over the last fifty years, regained its place at the heart of our communities. Reviewers have called it “original and informative” and it is selling well.

And if you’re just in the mood for a bit of nostalgic reminiscing about English railway stations, then this charming ditty from Flanders and Swan should be right up your street – or rather line!

Another non-fiction title that is title selling extremely well is The Official Formula 1 Season Review 2014, published by Illustrated London News (hb, 978 0957532069 £35.00). This official Formula One Management review gives fans a unique, access-all-areas pass behind the scenes of one of the most thrilling Formula One seasons of recent years, throwing new light on all the headlines and key incidents. It includes a foreword by Bernie Ecclestone and features full race reports from all 19 races. It is illustrated with amazing photography from LAT and with exclusive insight from the drivers them selves, this book also contains all the official statistics from an action-packed year.

I enjoy watching fast cars zooming around as much as anyone – but frankly; I think it’s all so much more thrilling in the movies! Here are the top ten most exciting movie car chase scenes.

As well as those book we’ve already mentioned, a lot of you can probably tell us about quite a few other titles that have sold very well for you in recent months as; hurrah – some good news; the Bookseller tells us today that  independent bookshops have had their best Christmas in years! A greater percentage of independent booksellers reported that they enjoyed Christmas sales increases in 2014, compared to the previous two years, according to this survey.  In a separate survey of 80 bookshops by the BA; 55% reported sales were up – compared with 43% last year –  and of those shops, 18% reported sales were up “a lot”. Meanwhile, 69% said they saw an increase in footfall, up from 45% who said they had seen a decline last year. 

Moving on now to new titles; you are no doubt aware that this year is the 800th anniversary of King John’s sealing of Magna Carta. As the first charter to grant individual liberties under the rule of law, protecting the people against tyranny, Magna Carta is the most influential and far-reaching legal text the world has ever known. It is the founding document of individual freedom throughout the world, and Magna Carta: the Foundation of Freedom by Nicholas Vincent is published by Third Millennium Publishing in February. This is the definitive account of Magna Carta’s genesis and subsequent impact. It is published with the official support of the UK Magna Carta Trust and Professor Nicholas Vincent is joined by a range of experts on Magna Carta from across the world to reflect on its enduring significance. This is the definitive book, officially endorsed, scholarly but lavishly and engagingly produced. It has 192 pages in full colour with over 250 integrated colour illustrations. The author is the acknowledged world expert on Magna Carta: this is set to be the most authoritative treatment of the subject for years to come and provides a comprehensive overview of the subject, assuming no special expertise on the part of the reader. It contains much new research and fresh insights into the subject and you can order it and find out more here. The hardback (978 1 908990280, £44.95) of Magna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom is available in February, and the paperback (pb, 978 1 908990488 £24.95) in April.

And if you’re a bit hazy on the details of the whole Magna Carta thing- then have a quick watch of this two minute BBC clip giving you the low down on the whole 800 year anniversary!

The shortlist for the Political Book Awards 2015 has just been announced – the awards are given out at a dinner on 28th January.  This is the third year the awards have been held, after being founded by Biteback publisher and political commentator Iain Dale. They have been sponsored each year by Paddy Power and Lord Ashcroft. Dale said: "The Paddy Power Political Book Awards have become a permanent fixture in the book awards calendar. The calibre of the shortlisted authors is once again outstanding and the awards celebrate the breadth and diversity in political writing." The winner of the political book of the year prize receives £10,000, and a further £3,000 prize goes to the winner of the debut political book of the year award. Other awards will be given out for biography of the year, polemic of the year, political history book of the year and political fiction book of the year, while others cover practical politics, satire and humour, and international affairs. A new prize created this year will cover publishing on the First World War. You can see the full shortlist for all the awards here on The five Biteback titles shortlisted are: Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith  by Simon Danczuk and Matthew Baker, which is shortlisted for Political Book of the Year. Shortlisted for Political Biography of the Year is Clement Attlee by Michael Jago and shortlisted for Debut Political Book of the Year is How to Be a Minister by John Hutton and Leigh Lewis. On the shortlist for Practical Politics Book of the Year are Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford and also The ‘Too Difficult’ Box by Charles Clarke.

Talking of politics, according to the predictions of a range of  insiders from the publishing industry; the general election will dominate book publishing in 2015, Pan Macmillan MD Anthony Forbes Watson said the general election would be of concern, as “a year in which there is a general election is a year of uncertainty”, while Richard Mollet, of The Publishers Association, said the election would dominate people’s lives, “more after than before” as the new government’s policies start to be implemented. Lots of important folk from publishing, bookselling, agenting and writing, have shared what they think is in store for the industry in the coming twelve months with The Bookseller, and you can read a summary of their thoughts here.

Secrets of Chuckling Goat: How a Herd of Goats Saved my Family andStarted a Business that Became a Natural Health Phenomenon by Shann Nix Jones (£10.99 978 1781804704) is the amazing true story of an American city girl who couldn't even boil an egg, finally finding true love and happiness on a Welsh goat farm – and saving her husband's life by inventing a solution for flesh-eating superbugs along the way! Shann Nix Jones 's Chuckling Goat products have been launched in Fortnum &Mason and Tesco's Nutricentre and the film rights to this story are now being sought by several companies. The book and Shann Nix Jones will feature in You magazine (circ. 4 million) and the Mail Online (circ. 110 million) on 29th January. The book will also feature in the March issue of Spirit & Destiny magazine (circ. 39,000) and the March issue of Psychologies (circ. 73,000). Secrets of Chuckling Goat is published by Hay House in February and you can find out more and order it here

Never mind chuckling goats, what I want to know is quite why screaming goats are so very popular? Here’s a compilation of some of the ultimate screaming goat songs...

Everyone has heard of the literary phenomenon that is Moby Dick, but not many know about the title that inspired it. Beneath the Heart of the Sea: The Sinking of the Whaleship Essex is a first-hand account of shipwreck and survival told by Essex’s first mate Owen Chase, which now been turned into a major Hollywood blockbuster: In the Heart of the Sea directed by Ron Howard which comes out in March. You can watch an exciting trailer for it here. Beneath the Heart of the Sea (pb, £7.99, 978 1843915607 tells of that eventful  morning of November 20,1820, in the Pacific Ocean 2,000 miles from the coast of South America, when an enraged sperm whale rammed the Nantucket whaleship Essex. As the boat began to sink, her crew of twenty, including first mate Owen Chase, grabbed what little they could before piling into frail boats and taking to the open seas. So began their four-month ordeal and struggle for survival. A bleak story, only eight men survived having endured starvation and dehydration, giving in to cannibalism, murder and insanity. Owen Chase recorded the extraordinary account in his autobiography, originally published in 1821, which Hesperus are now reissuing in a stylish new edition, published in February.  Readers will be enthralled to discover the intense, original story behind the new film, and this epic true story makes for extraordinary reading.

Socialism, capitalism, goats or trains - whatever floats your boat or your bookshop this year; I'm sure you will enjoy this entertaining revisit of the Mr Men Characters – we love them here on Compass Points, and here are sixteen new Mr Men characters that sum up modern Britain in 2015!

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

This blog is read by  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.