Thursday, 24 March 2016

Compass Points 163

A new Alexander McCall Smith title is always a real treat, and My Italian Bulldozer is published by Birlinn in May. (hb, £12.99, 978 1846973550). This is a brand new stand-alone novel based on an immensely popular short story from the author whose books have sold over 25 million copies. Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction in 2015 and this looks equally entertaining.  When writer Paul Stewart heads to the idyllic Italian town of Montalcino to finish his already late book, it seems like the perfect escape from stressful city life. Upon landing, however, things quickly take a turn for the worse when he discovers his hired car is nowhere to be found. With no record of any reservation and no other cars available it looks like Paul is stuck at the airport. That is, until an enterprising stranger offers him an unexpected alternative: a bulldozer! With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts and so begins a series of laugh out loud adventures through the Italian countryside. A story of unexpected circumstance and a lesson in making the best of what you have, My Italian Bulldozer is a warm holiday read guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Find out more and order it here.

We’re used to Biteback bringing us interesting political titles that give us the low-down on what actually has occurred in Westminster – but coming in June is a title that examines things that haven’t come about (yet!) Prime Minister Corbyn: And Other Things That Never Happened by Iain Dale and Duncan Brack (hb, £14.99, 978 1785900457) contains twenty-six expert examinations of things that never happened – but easily could have done if events had so conspired. In this book, a collection of distinguished commentators, including journalists, academics and former MPs consider how things might have turned out differently throughout a century of political history – from a permanent union between France and the UK in 1940, to Reagan and Thatcher being assassinated in 1981 and 1984 respectively, to Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister in 2020. It includes what would have happened if Gladstone had drowned in 1885? Britain went Blackshirt in 1934? Labour had won the 1951 election? Britain had lost the Falklands War? German reunification had never happened? The UK had joined the Euro? Yevgeny Primakov rather than Vladimir Putin had become Russian President in 2000? David Miliband had beaten Ed to the Labour leadership in 2010? Scholarly analyses of possibilities and causalities take their place beside enthralling fictional accounts of alternate political histories – and all are guaranteed to entertain and make you think. This brand new collection of political “what ifs?” offers a fascinating depiction of how history could have been oh so different and you can order it here.

Loving this story from Oxfam books in Swansea, who have now received so many second hand copies of Fifty Shades of Grey that they’ve been able to build a castle out of them – and are now begging the public not to give them any more please!!

Who wants to reclaim their inner Goddess? Definitely me, yes please – especially if it can include eating your own body weight in Easter eggs. If you've ever struggled with diets, food, body image or your weight, then The Goddess Revolution is your new handbook for life. Melissa Wells truly believes that all women are born Goddesses, but we tell ourselves over and over again that for some reason, we don't deserve to feel good. The Goddess Revolution is taking over as the new 'anti-diet': it’s a revolutionary new way of thinking that will help women to end the war on their bodies, start embracing an incredibly rewarding relationship with food, and become happier and more fulfilled. Tackling very modern issues including 'fitspiration' and the obsession with perfection caused by celebrity culture and magazine airbrushing; Melissa speaks in a language that women can relate to. The Goddess Revolution: Make Peace with Food, Love Your Body and Reclaim Your Life (pb, £10.99 978 1781807125) is published in June by Hay House, and excitingly, we’ve just heard that the author will be a guest on ITV’s Lorraine to publicise it. There will also be a feature in the Daily Mail. Mel is pretty well known in the Goddess world, she has built up a client list including many celebrities, actresses, models and reality stars, helping them quit dieting, and transform themselves into Goddesses too – you can read more about her on her blog here and you can order The Goddess Revolution here.
From one Goddess to another – I’m very much enjoying this video on YouTube showing people’s reactions to Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest smoothie recipe…

Nostalgia titles continue to do well, and Make Do and Send by Sam Taylor is an arch amusing and interesting collection of letters on issues that enraged wartime Britain.  In September 1939 petrol rationing was announced as a result of the declaration of war with Germany and soon clothes and food rationing followed. The propaganda was upbeat under the banner “Make Do and Mend” but one of our favourite national pass times, grumbling, soon took over! In a torrent of letters written all over Britain a roar of pointed moaning ensued. It is an hilarious record of the stiff British upper lip that trembled with ill-concealed disgust whenever an injustice or unfair advantage was spotted and is the perfect gift for any member of the family who enjoys nostalgia and a laugh. Sam Taylor is the editor of The Lady and also a feature writer on the Daily Mail, so there should be plenty of publicity for this charming hardback. Make Do and Send: Nostalgic Notes on Daily Life Under War Rationing (hb, 978 1783340866, £9.99) is coming in June from Gibson Square and you can find out more about it here.

Nothing says wartime nostalgia quite like Dad’s Army – the original I mean, not that lamentable film. Re-live one of its funniest moments ever here!

The Unforgotten by Laura Powell is getting some BRILLIANT review coverage – read this one here in the Daily Mail – and there was also a great plug for it in last weekend in the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella Magazine. The Sun said it has “intrigue, suspense and a unique story. The author is annoyingly talented and I devoured this in a day.” This psychological tale of illicit love, bloody murder and impossible choices is set in drab, sinister, post-war Cornwall where the 15-year-old heroine is drawn towards forbidden love. It has a very striking cover – and as I say, the publicity has been terrific. The Unforgotten by Laura Powell (pb, £8.99, 978 1910449592) has just been published by Freight and you can order it here.

Tom Pickard is one of Britain’s legendary poetry-activists and the founder of the Morden Tower poetry scene. Allen Ginsberg called him “One of the most live and true poetic voices in Great Britain” and Paul McCartney said “with sharp vision Pickard dissects his gut reaction and reminds us to appreciate the cool clear beauty of our own situation.” Winter Migrants is a poetic coastal mediation and strikingly describes a bird’s journey over the fells. It features the Poetry Prize-winning sequence “Lark and Merlin”. Winter Migrants by Tom Pickard (pb, 978 1784102647, £9.99) is published by Carcanet in June – it has a gorgeous cover, and you can find out more about it here.

You can hear Tom Pickard reading Lark and Merlin on the Poetry Foundation website here.

Let’s finish with some music! I love this duet  between James Brown and Luciano Pavarotti! Now that should set you up for the weekend!

Who’s tried to do some Easter baking? Hopefully it’s worked out a whole lot better than this unfortunate tray of chicks! 
That’s all for now folks! More in two weeks!
This blog is taken from an e-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 click here  or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Compass Points 162

Very well done to all of the regional winners of this year’s British Book Industry Awards’ Independent Bookshop of the Year. Stores in seven regions across the UK and Ireland are winners; the only 2015 winner to retain its title was Wicklow’s Blessington Book Store, which won the Ireland crown. Judges praised owner Janet Hawkins and her staff for a shop that “sits at the heart of the community”. Atkinson-Pryce in Biggar was the Scotland winner, a region the South Lanarkshire business last won in 2013. Judges commended the staffers Sue Kekewich, Chris McCosh and Millie McCosh for constant reinvention that makes it the “ideal destination shop”.
In London, judges were impressed by the “amazing turnaround” of radical booksellers Housmans, which expanded its premises and had record turnover in its 70th year, all while being a National Living Wage employer. There was a similar story in the South-East and East region, with The Haslemere Bookshop getting a “new lease on life” after Ian Rowley took over the business in 2014.Two regions were won by shops owned by former Waterstone’s booksellers: Helen Stanton’s Forum Books in Corebridge took the North England crown, with judges impressed by a “stellar events line-up”; and the South-West champion was Winstone’s Books in Sherborne, owned by Wayne Winstone.
The shop was hailed as a “total package”. The hotly contested Midlands and Wales region was won by Book-ish in Crickwell, Powys, a “small shop that punches well above its weight”, yet judges also wanted to highly commend Rossiter Books of Monmouth and Ross-on-Wye for “second-to-none operational expertise and a top-notch customer experience”. The winners will vie for the overall Independent Bookshop of the Year prize, to be awarded at the British Book Industry Awards on 9th May in London. Gardner’s will award the winner with £5,000, to be put towards the running of their shop.

In celebration of great booksellers everywhere, let’s have a look at The Bookshop Sketch; starring Marty Feldman and John Junkin which originally aired in 1970 – still pretty funny and it will strike a chord with many of you I feel sure!

Coalition (hb, £25.00, 978 1849549660) by David Laws is published next week – and the superb publicity machine at Biteback has really gone into overdrive on this one! The Mail on Sunday serialisation has begun – with the terrific headline PM: Gove Is Nuts, Boris Is After My Job! You can read the whole piece here. The second and third parts of the serialisation come this weekend and next – so this story will run and run as they say! There have also been articles in the Daily MailThe TelegraphThe Observer, the Sunday Telegraph, the Mirror, The Sun on Sunday , the  Independent on Sunday, the Sunday Express , the Guardian, the Independent, the Express , The Sun, The Times and the Mirror plus tons of regional press too. David has also been a guest on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show,  - you can watch that here -  where Peter Hitchens said “These memoirs are terrific. Everybody should read them.” Couldn’t agree more Peter, if everyone in the country buys this £25 hardback we can all go off to the Maldives for week on the proceeds! David has also been on the Daily Politics show and BBC Radio 5Live. Phew!
Coalition is the definitive insider account of the historic Conservative-Lib Dem coalition from its birth in 2010 through to its demise in May 2015. This revealing account is one of the most important political books of the year, shedding light on perhaps the most fascinating political partnership since the Second World War. Paddy Ashdown (has he eaten that hat yet?) said “David Laws has written what deserves to become the definitive account of the 2010–15 coalition government. It is also a cracking good read” and Mathew Parris commented: “There are few – even from within my own party – whose inside story of the coalition I would trust more than David Laws’s.” Find out more and order Coalition here.

Labour peer Joan Bakewell caused massive controversy earlier this week when she said that anorexia is a sign of "narcissism". Hay House author, and wellness blogger Katie Dalebout has written an excellent article for Glamour Magazine about her own harrowing experience of living with an eating disorder and how its cause was a complicated issue. You can read that piece here and I’m pleased to see it contains a massive plug for Katie’s book Let It Out which is published by Hay House next month. Over three million people will have read this article online – that’s a lot of potential customers for this paperback – so please do stock it! Let it Out: A Journey through Journaling is unlike anything else out there, as it is not a is not a workbook but instead offers the reader an eclectic collection of exercises that can be used at any time for solace and self-discovery. It can be read chronologically or it can be flipped through to whichever page or tool is relevant that day. It has a great contemporary cover and this fresh guide for young, modern women on finding clarity and direction in life through writing – and sharing that writing – offers a unique, new voice to those looking for a peer to speak to them about finding a different way to cope. Let it Out: A Journey through Journaling by Katie Dalebout (pb, £10.99, 978 1781806708) is published in April. Find out more and order it here.

Who remembers Mary Decker’s clash with Zola Budd at the 1984 Los Angeles Games – one of the biggest and most controversial events in Olympic history? If you don’t then you can watch it here. In a head-to-head that gripped the imagination of the world, the 3,000 metres race pitted the experienced and glamourous world champion from the host nation against a prodigious, teenage waif from South Africa wearing a hastily-organised British flag on her vest and, memorably, no shoes on her feet. Disastrously, a mid-race collision saw Decker tumble to the inside of the track after her legs tangled with Budd’s as the 18-year-old overtook the American in a battle for pole position. Distraught and unable to carry on, the tearful Decker watched in frustration as Maricica Puica of Romania stormed to gold while Budd, who was heavily booed by the partisan crowd in the closing stages, faded to seventh. Using the famous Olympic moment as its focal point, Collision Course tells the story of two of the best-known and greatest athletes of all time, analyses their place in history as pioneers of women’s sport, and lifts the lid on two lives that have been filled of sporting and political intrigue that, until now, has never been fully told.  Collision Course: The Olympic Tragedy of Mary Decker and Zola Budd (hb, £16,99, 978 1909715363) includes exclusive new interview material from Decker and Budd and is by top sports journalist Jason Henderson. It is published by Arena Sport in June and you can order it here.

Hope everyone enjoyed St Patrick’s Day yesterday? For a comparatively small country, Ireland has made a disproportionate contribution to world literature, music and comedy – have a look here to read and enjoy 30 of the greatest quotes and one liners about Ireland and the Irish.

It’s always terrific to welcome a new publisher to the Compass team, and this week we’re pleased to introduce you to And Other Stories; a literary publishing house, which you can find out more about on their website and also on their blog Ampersand, which you can find here.

They have two new titles coming in July, the first of which is The Seamstress and the Wind by César Aira (pb, £7.99, 978 1908276841). This is an acknowledged masterpiece from a Man Booker International finalist and the most influential writer in Latin America today. A judge for the Booker commented that if more of Aira’s work had been available in English he might have won – so And Other Stories have very high hopes for him as by end of 2019 they will have published at least five more of his books, all in a new Aira series look which will be highly collectable! There’s already a good online cultish buzz building for him; his writing is marked by extreme eccentricity and innovation, as well as a playful spirit and he is without a doubt the true heir to Jorge Luís Borges’ literature of ideas. He has been called many things: “slippery” (The Nation) and “infuriating” (New York Times Book Review) as well as the “most original, shocking, exciting and subversive Spanish-language author of our day” (Ignacio Echevarría). Patti Smith was “quickly seduced” when she read The Seamstress and the Wind, and admits that seeing him at a writer’s conference: “I was so excited at his presence that I bounded his way like a St. Bernard!” Find out more and order The Seamstress and the Wind here.

The second title coming in July from And Other Stories is The Transmigration of Bodies, by Yuri Herrera (pb, £8.99, 978 1908276728). Herrera is a highly acclaimed Mexican writer whose first novel translated into English, Signs Preceding the End of the World, was praised by critics, booksellers and readers, with glowing review coverage and excellent sales (over 8,000 print sales and rising). His new novel is a response to the violence of contemporary Mexico and is a noirish tragedy withy echoes of Romeo and Juliet, Roberto Bolaño and Raymond Chandler. It is set in a time when a plague has brought death to the city and two feuding crime families with blood on their hands need our hard-boiled hero, The Redeemer, to broker peace. Booksellers love Yuri Herrera; Tom Harris of Mr B’s Emporium, Bath said “This is as noir should be, written with all the grit and grime of hard-boiled crime and all the literary merit we're beginning to expect from Herrera” while Ray Mattinson from Blackwell’s in Oxford said that “reading The Transmigration of Bodies was akin to being enveloped in a dream state, yet one that upon waking somehow makes profound sense. Another truly magnificent novel from one of the most exciting authors to emerge on the world stage for aeons.” Yuri Herrera speaks great English and will be touring the UK in May and June including appearances at the Hay Festival. Find out more and order it here.
Love this from BuzzFeed – 18 Faces Every Book Lover Will Recognise!

Aardvark Bureau have what looks like a very entertaining title coming in June. Max Gate by Damien Wilkins tells the story of Thomas Hardy’s death as narrated with wit and brutal honesty by his housemaid Nellie Titterington. In the vein of Longbourn, this will appeal both to Hardy fans and readers of biographical fiction. As Thomas Hardy lies on his deathbed at his Dorset home, Max Gate, a tug-of-war is taking place over his legacy and the eventual fate of his mortal remains. What counts for more: the wishes of his family and dutiful second wife; the opinion of his literary friends; Hardy’s own express desires or ‘the will of the nation’? Wilkins’ writing has been much praised, the Guardian saying: “Wilkins’s characters are individual, unpredictable and real” and the Independent on Sunday writing that “Wilkins has an eye for telling detail, a great ear for dialogue and a dark sense of humour.” You can find out more about Max Gate by Damien Wilkins (pb, 978 1910709139, £8.99) and order it here.

Wow – there so many great novels to catch up with this week! And best of all – by reading them you can also become a more interesting, charming person. What?! Yes, it’s absolutely true, a recent study has shown that reading fiction may well enhance your social skills! Read all about it here!

Several decades after the band ceased, the Beatles remain a phenomenon, selling millions and constantly updating reissues of their back-catalogue; and the recent sad death of George Martin appears to have prompted even more airplay for the Fab Four. Coming in July from Red Planet, I Was There: Beatles Live is the ideal gift-book for the fans – by the fans! This is not just a fantastic book about the Beatles. It is also a unique document of the 60s – a great big slice of rock music heritage. It documents the Beatles when they were at their peak: at their world-conquering best. And it does so through the eyes of 500 of their fans, all telling their personal tales of when they saw the Beatles live in concert – both in the UK and the US. Packed with vintage 60s memorabilia and never-before-seen photos of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, I Was There: The Beatles Live is a lovingly designed time-capsule, a portrait of an era. It is as close to actually being at a 60s Beatles gig you will ever get! Although thrillingly, the MD of Compass did actually go to a 60’s Beatles gig – so that’s not strictly true for everyone! The high-quality souvenir format of this hardback makes this a great title, and you can find out more about I Was There: Beatles Live (hb, 978 1905959945, £15.99) and order it here.
Have a look at those crazy 60’s Beatles fans here and here – great footage! And here's an 8 minute sample what all the fuss was really about!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. This week we’re loving #BookGeek…

Novelicious ‏@Novelicious  Confession: We totally dog-ear books. A book should look 'read'. Like it's lived a little, seen some shit, you know?
Book Geek Problems ‏@BookGeekProbs When people say that you read too much #bookgeekproblems
Kirsty Greenwood ‏@KirstyBooks A group of authors is called a Procrastination.
Joanna Barnard ‏@JoannaBarnard76 Retweeted Kirsty Greenwood "Writing a first draft is tough and the likelihood is that it’s going to be a bit shit at first"
Rhiannon Hall ‏@RhiannonHall47  What level of nerd am I? I have my library card number memorized... #bookgeek
Ellie Ireland ‏@elzieboppp   Falling asleep but only 3 chapters left of my book. Must.stay.awake #bookgeek
Asa Butterfield ‏@rhicksaid   I love books more than my friends. Hahahaha. Sorry but this is kinda true. #WorldBookDay
Vicky Beeching@vickybeeching Reading some poetry when I wake up and before I go to sleep always feels like a lovely bookend to any day. #inspiration #bookgeek
That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This blog is taken from an e-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.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Compass Points 161

Strong women have been in the news this week, thanks to International Women’s Day, so this is a good time to tell you about The Huntingfield Paintress by Pamela Holmes (pb, 978 1910692660, £8.99) which is published by Urbane Publications in May. Deborah Moggach described this as “an atmospheric and enjoyable story of a singular and freethinking woman” and it is inspired by the true story of Mildred Holland and the famous parish church of Huntingfield in Suffolk. This plucky and headstrong woman revelled in the eight years she and her vicar husband, spent travelling 1840's Europe. But William’s new posting in a tiny Suffolk village is a world apart and Mildred finds a life of tea and sympathy dull and stifling in comparison. What options exist for a clever, creative woman in such a cossetted environment? A sudden chance encounter fires Mildred’s creative imagination and she embarks on a herculean task that demands courage and passion. Defying her loving but exasperated husband and the mistrustful locals, Mildred rediscovers her passion and lives again through her dreams of beauty. The national PR campaign, for The Huntingfield Paintress will include coverage in women’s mag and radio interviews. Stories of strong women combined with atmospheric local history are doing rather well at present – and I think this could be popular – it feels like an excellent title for book groups. AN Wilson called it “a genuinely original, utterly enchanting story” and Esther Freud said it was “a slice of Suffolk history brought beautifully to life” – so there is no doubt that it is well written (Pamela Holmes won the won the Jane Austen Short Story Award in 2014) and you can find out more and order it here.

Ooh, I love a novel with a painterly theme – think Goldfinch or Girl with a Pearl Earring and have a look at the Guardian’s list of  Top Ten novels featuring works of art.

In May comes an important war memoir from Biteback. Pumpkin Flowers: A Soldier’s Story by Matti Friedman (hb, 9781785900433, £12.99). Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer Kai Bird said: “it reminds one of Michael Herr’s unforgettable Vietnam memoir, Dispatches. It, too, is destined to become a classic text on the absurdities of war. Evocative, emotionally wrenching, and yet clear-eyed and dispassionate, Pumpkin Flowers is a stunning achievement.“ Part memoir, part reportage, part elegy for lost youth, this powerful narrative captures the birth of today’s chaotic Middle East and the rise of a 21st century type of war in which there is never a clear victor, and innocence is not the only casualty It is an unflinching look at the way we conduct war today and an essential chronicle of how war in the Middle East is shaping the 21st century Award-winning writer Matti Friedman recreates the harrowing, otherworldly experiences of a band of young men, plucked by conscription from westernised boyhoods, and charged with holding a remote outpost in Lebanon - a pointless task that changed them forever and foreshadowed the unwinnable conflicts the United States would soon confront in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.  Pumpkin Flowers contains black and white illustrations and photos and you can find out more and order it here.

Acres of newsprint this week have been devoted to the extraordinary news that today’s children are to be taught that sentences ending with an exclamation mark can only begin with “How” or “What”. Clearly all of our wonderful authors are going to strongly disagree with this, along with editors, publishers – pretty much everyone really. Here’s an entertaining piece in the Guardian on how the government want to penalise enthusiasm – and here's what the Daily Mail has to say on the subject. No! No! No!!!!!

Congratulations to Myrmidon, whose title The Anatomist’s Dream by Clio Gray is among the 20 longlisted titles for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction which was announced this week. Commenting on 2016's longlist, Chris White, Waterstone’s fiction buyer, said: "As ever, it's an interesting list with much to make an old bookseller smile." Sheila O'Reilly of Dulwich Books in London added: "The Bailey's longlist is a wonderful selection of great writing with recognizable names such as Kate Atkinson and Anne Enright to a some of the best debut novelists of the past year. What the longlist does is raise the profile of the prize and begin the conversation about the best women writers in 2016. I see the prize as a celebration of women’s writing and why not, does it still need to be justified? Probably but let’s steer the conversation away from the justification and onto the wonderful writing the Bailey’s celebrates." Author Lionel Shriver has weighed into the debate nonetheless, saying literary prizes just for women are "problematic", while calling International Women's Day "creepy" at an event to mark the occasion. You can read about that in an article in the Bookseller here. The winner will receive a cheque for £30,000 announced at an awards ceremony in London’s Royal Festival Hall on 8th June 2016.

“Chop off my head and hawk it to the highest bidder. I'm the Anatomist's Dream, did you know? That's what they call me.” In a small salt-mining town, Philbert is born with a 'taupe', a disfiguring inflammation of the skull. Abandoned by his parents and with only a pet pig for company, he eventually finds refuge in a traveling carnival, as it makes its annual migration across Germany bringing entertainment to a people beset by famine and repression. Philbert finds a caring family in an assortment of 'freak show' artists, magicians and entertainers. But when he is persuaded to undergo examination by the renowned physician Dr Ullendorf, he embarks on an altogether darker and more perilous journey that will have far-reaching consequences for a whole nation. The Anatomist’s Dream by Clio Gray (pb, £12.99, 978 1910183212) is a sumptuous feast for the senses and you can read an extract on the Myrmidon website here.

Could Donald Trump actually become President? That possibility appears to be getting every closer. But if it all goes tits up for him – then maybe he could turn his hand to book reviewing instead? This amusing article from our friends at BuzzFeed really made me laugh as it hypothesises how Trump would review some literary classics…

And there’s always time for Cassetteboy – here’s his hilarious take on how Trump may get himself to the White House!

More congratulations – this time to Choc Lit, whose title The Wedding Cake Tree was a category winner in the Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards this week. The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson was awarded Contemporary Category Romantic Novel of the Year at an awards ceremony in London. The overall prize – Romantic Novel of the Year was won by Letters to the Lost (Simon & Schuster) by Iona Grey. The judges commented: “This wonderful range of books demonstrates the breadth and depth of the genre and illustrates its enduring popularity and appeal to a wide and discerning audience.” The Wedding Cake Tree (pb, 978-1781892244, £7.99) is the emotional, fun-filled tale of celebrity photographer Grace Buchanan who in order to inherit her childhood home has to drop everything for two weeks and travel the country with a mysterious stranger; war-weary Royal Marine, Alasdair Finn. This romantic whirl of a novel has had glowing feedback from readers: “Pure brilliance…This story has truly touched me…Thank you Melanie Hudson, the world is a brighter place with you and your book in it” is typical – so it is clearly a very worthy winner. Well done Melanie Hudson and Choc Lit!

Very exciting news for Biteback who have just signed a deal to publish four new volumes of diaries from Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former chief press secretary and director of communications and strategy. Iain Dale, (MD of Biteback) said "When I heard from Ed Victor that we had agreed terms, I literally punched the air. I’ve read every word of the previous four volumes and, in my opinion, Alastair’s diaries represent the most valuable political historical documents of the last 20 years. There’s no spin, no editing out the awkward bits, just raw politics told in an entertaining and engaging manner. You get a unique perspective from someone who, even after he had left No. 10, was still right at the centre of things. I’ve been trying to entice Alastair to Biteback for some time and I could not be more delighted." Alastair Campbell said: "I am very pleased to be working with Iain Dale – not a bad guy for a Tory. The first book with Biteback – Volume 5: Never Really Left – will be published in the autumn, and although it begins the day after I left Downing Street, it becomes clear that I never fully left and was centrally involved with Tony Blair up to the election of 2005, where this volume will end. It also, therefore, covers the publication of and fallout from the Hutton Inquiry, and the deal I helped put together to get Tony and Gordon Brown co-operating during the campaign, as well as my attempts – and failures – to adapt to a new kind of life, branching out into different areas, alongside the realization of continuing mental health issues that required proper attention." Volume 5: Never Really Left will be published in autumn 2016, with subsequent books over the next three years. The books will be supported by a major publicity campaign – something to look forward to as this is going to be BIG!

Many of us enjoyed the GoogleDoodle this week celebrating the 105 birthday of Clara Rockmore: master of the theremin – the world's first electronic music instrument and also the first ever instrument that could be played without being touched! The theremin inspired the likes of the Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys and was the instrument that led to the creation of the first synthesizer. You can read all about it in this article in the Telegraph here. A good chance to remind everyone about The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr (pb, £8.99, 978 1910709054) which was published by Aardvark in January. This beautifully written novel is the fictional memoir of Dame Lena Gaunt: musician, octogenarian, junkie. Lena’s is a life characterized by the pull of the sea, the ebb and flow of passion and loss, and her enduring relationship with that extraordinary instrument, the theremin. It combines music and art as she moves the reader around the globe through the dazzling 30s and 40s, paying tribute to the life of an artist in all its forms. Delightful”, “fascinating”, “exquisite”– the reviews for this compelling first novel have been outstanding. And you can read an extract on here. Order The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt here.

Who’s watching The Night Manager on Sunday evenings – isn’t it exciting? Those whizz kids at Urbane who never miss a chance to promote their books on social media are suggesting that fans of #Night Manager and also #Hugh Laurie who love a bit of undercover espionage will probably also enjoy Escape to Perdition – the high quality page turning thriller which was published last June and is perfect for fans of Le Carre. The five star reviews of this title on Amazon would seem to bear this out – “a hard hitting political thriller and so much more”, “a damn good read with an excellent plot partly based on fact and part fiction” are typical. Escape to Perdition (pb, £8.99, 978 1909273795) by James Sylvester is available now – so if you’re mounting an undercover, spy-themed table or window display – don’t forget to include it!

And since we’ve mentioned the consistently brilliant Hugh Laurie – here is a very funny interview where he is chatting to Ellen DeGeneres about the differences between UK and US slang.

And to finish with some music – here’s Hugh singing the old Ray Charles classic, Hallelujah I Love Her So!

How versatile is Hugh – here he is with Jools Holland and here is in a different musical mode entirely – but still equally fab!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are some of our favourite tweets from this week...
Manx Litfest‏@manxlitfest  We have couple of @BirlinnBooks authors coming to #ManxLitfest2016 - must say what a pleasure it is to deal with team at Birlinn. Top notch!
UrbanePublications ‏@urbanebooks  Thrilled to see The Busby Babes reviewed in the latest edition of @FourFourTwo
NeilMackay ‏@NeilMackay  Hey folks @AyeWrite and @FreightBooks you have no idea how long it took me to find a non X-rated excerpt to read from @TheWolfTrial ...
Scottish Book Trust ‏@scottishbktrust  'My friends laugh at me but training to be a professional librarian is a sort of calling – like becoming a priest':
UrbanePublications ‏@urbanebooks  Urbane are delighted to announce the signing of Emmy-winning and BAFTA nominated writer @BillHumble
Choc Lit‏@ChocLituk  Fascinating post by @SarahWaights on women & politics to tie in with paperback release of Never Marry a Politician.
Carcanet Press ‏@Carcanet  Listen out for Elaine Feinstein on this episode of Poetry Please celebrating Women's Poetry. … #IWD2016
VeryBritishProblems ‏@SoVeryBritish  "Can I just borrow you?" You're not in trouble "Can I just grab you?" You might be in trouble "Can I have a quick word?" You're fired.
Freight Books ‏@FreightBooks  Five stars for Treats by Lara Williams from @thelistmagazine! Thank you!
goodreads ‏@goodreads One idea for #RandomActsOfKindnessDay: Buy someone a book!

That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This blog is taken from an e-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.