Friday 29 April 2016

Compass Points 167

What on earth is going on with the Labour party? They themselves said this morning that they need to “get a grip” and stories concerning in-fighting, radicals, and Corbyn’s leadership will no doubt run for many months yet – maybe years – and today the Guardian features Militant by Michael Crick as its Political Book of the Day; which is published by Biteback of course. This book was first published in 1984, then Crick produced an updated version in 1986 and now thirty years on, he has updated it again, with a foreword and afterword that seeks to connect the sometimes startling, often caricatured history of Militant to Corbyn, both back in the 80s and now. The book has been out of print for many years, with old editions selling online for up to £350. “This is the story,” writes Crick, “of the Marxist, Trotskyist group whose presence inside the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn tried to defend.” The Guardian writes that this title is “full of eye-opening facts… vividly brought alive” – this is great publicity for this book and you can order Militant by Michael Crick (pb, £10.99, 978 1785900297) and find out more here.

If you’re in a political mood today, then you’re bound to enjoy this latest offering from the hilarious Cassetteboy: it’s Jeremy Hunt who gets the treatment this time…

And if all of that angry leftie militancy is giving you a headache, then you need to calm down and focus on the Margaret Thatcher Colouring Book (pb, 978 1785900990, £8.99) – yes really – it’s coming from Biteback in September and I think it could be very popular….

Those of us working in this wonderful industry work very hard to make sure that images and words are juxtaposed together in perfect harmony. But sometimes, despite our best efforts it just doesn’t work out that way…  Have a look here at these really funny publishing layout failures!

A nice piece on debut novel As If I Were a River by Amanda Saint (pb, £8.99, 978 1910692639, £8.99) in the Lancaster Guardian which you can read here . As If I Were a River tells the story of three generations of northern women in one family: Kate, Laura and Una, and is a tale of family secrets, the lies we tell each other and ourselves and, ultimately, of redemption and losing yourself in order to find out who you really are. The Book Review Café called this “a compelling read” and “thought-provoking”, it’s just been published by Urbane and you can find out more about it here.

Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles by Helena Frith Powell (whose titles have sold over 50,000 copies in the UK) has just been published by Gibson Square and there’s some great newspaper and magazine coverage coming up for it so do make sure you’ve ordered it and got it on display. It will be in the Daily Telegraph Weekend section on 7 May, there will be a feature in the Times T2 section on 12 May; the Daily Mail on 21 May and Helena Frith Powell is also going to be on ITV’s This Morning. In Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles Helena humorously examines each body part and how to protect it from the marauding years, as well as looking at the cerebral side of ageing and tips on how to keep your man from looking even worse than you do! Each chapter contains an exercise routine and recipe relevant to its subject. Along with advice from stunning-looking women from around the world, Helena Frith Powell describes one woman's battle with time, using humour, sensible advice and the odd glass of champagne as the most potent weapons in the fight to stay sane during the hideous journey into old age. Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles: Look and Feel Ten Years Younger Without Breaking the Bank (hb, £12.99, 978 1783340606) is available now.
Donald Trump seems determined to keep those pesky Mexicans out – but here at Compass we think that they might just be the next literary sensation! The Guardian called the writing of Juan Pablo Villalobos “stylish, scabrous and hugely enjoyable” – he is already something of a cult favourite and I’ll Sell You a Dog which is published by And Other Stories in August should win him many new fans. Its hero (previously a taco seller whose ‘Gringo Dog’ recipe made him famous throughout Mexico City) is an old man, resident in a retirement home and fending off boredom. Plagued by the literary salon that bumps about his building’s lobby and haunted by the self-pitying ghost of a neglected artist, he can’t help but misbehave... This affectionate take-down of artistic pretension and irreverent look at old age will resonate with anyone who has ever been involved with creative types. Well, let’s face it that’s all of us who work in this industry – so I’m pleased to say I have 10 early reading copes of I’ll Sell You a Dog which I’m sure any bookseller would thoroughly enjoy!
The first 10 of you to email with Please Send Me A Dog in the subject line will get one!  This novel builds on the success of his previous novels, Down the Rabbit Hole and Quesadillas, which got some great reviews. The cover style for his books is terrific – very eye-catching and he definitely deserves more sales. I’ll Sell you a Dog by Juan Pablo Villalobos (pb, £10.00, 978 1908276742) is published by And Other Stories and you can find out more here.

Incidentally, Juan Pablo Villalobos is now living in Spain where he is married with two Mexican-Brazilian-Italian-Catalan children – so he is quite safe from the nutter that might be the next US President. The rest of us can only marvel at his audacity – have a look here for some classic Trump moments!

#Higher Selfie has just been featured in Look Magazine (circ. 116,000) with the article saying “#Higher Selfie is a self-help book for the millennial age aiming to help the younger generation get in touch with their spiritual side and find their tribe. What more could you want?” What more indeed! This title was also featured in the Evening Standard last week, as a “must read” and part of a major 2016 trend for life-affirming literature. You can read that piece here. With a no-nonsense approach and pop culture-inspired humour, life coaches Lucy Sheridan and Jo Westwood interpret age-old concepts such as forgiveness, surrender and the ego in the context of a 21st-century lifestyle. In a language accessible to the modern spiritual audience, they also explain how to use timeless wisdom to navigate smoothly through modern life, addressing issues such as how to use social media in a healthy way, handling online trolling, avoiding drama, finding a like-minded bunch of friends and following your own path without comparing yourself to others. Useful stuff; #Higher Selfie (pb, £10.99, 978 1781806678) has just been published by Hay House and you can order it now – this is a book that will definitely appeal to all those fans of books by all those online YouTubers and bloggers – put it on the same table!  

On the subject of selfies – here's a five-minute film of the 25 most dangerous selfies ever – come on, you know you want to have a look!

Tahar Ben Jelloun was named recently by the Guardian as “Morocco’s greatest living author”. About My Mother explores the painful realities of living with Alzheimer’s disease and is both a tender portrait of a son’s love for his ailing mother and a powerful account of the subjugation of women in Morocco. As Tahar’s mother’s mind becomes more muddled, she starts to believe that she is in Fez in 1944 – where she grew up – not in Tangier in 2000, where the book begins. During his visits, her son, patiently sits by her side and listens as she summons members of her family who are long dead and quietly yearns for her first and only love. Guided by these fragments, he vividly reimagines his mother’s life in post-war Morocco: married while still playing with dolls; widowed too young; and for whom resignation was the only way out. This novel will appeal to those interested in strong women’s narratives, and who have enjoyed the writings of Elif Safak, Alaa al Aswany and Khaled Hosseini. The Sunday Telegraph said “In any language, in any culture, Tahar Ben Jelloun would be a remarkable novelist” and the TLS called him “an important writer”. About My Mother by Tahar Ben Jelloun (pb, 978 1846592010, £9.99) is published by Telegram in July and you can find out more here.

Love this: 15 ever so slightly odd things all book lovers have done; from our friends at Buzzfeed!

Which one of us during this bollock-freezing spring hasn’t dreamt setting up home somewhere a great deal warmer, preferably with boundless food and culture? That’s exactly what former BBC presenter Jo de Sylva and her young son did, buying and renovating a stunning home in the south of France. For all those dreaming of moving; France on a Shoestring: A Guide to Living in France Like a Local is full of brilliant, practical advice, cheats and insider knowledge on how to live the good life on a limited budget. Covering travel, shopping for food and wine, clothes, furniture and other essentials, eating in or out, entertaining kids, accessing health services, and many other aspects of daily life; France on a Shoestring is a fully illustrated companion that will soon have you living like a local. France on a Shoestring by Jo de Sylva (pb, £10.99, 978 1910449974) is published by Freight in August. It is a beautifully produced paperback, with a gorgeous evocative cover, flaps and charming illustrations throughout, and you can find out more here.

That’s all for now folks! Have a brilliant bank holiday! More next week!
This newsletter 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.

Friday 22 April 2016

Compass Points 166

It’s Shakespeare Day tomorrow of course – and there’s lots great reading in the press this week about the many ways we love the bard. Here’s a fun piece on Shakespeare’s most fantastical plays – and what they’ve inspired – and here's an excellent article from The Stylist about the top Shakespearian heroines. I really love this Shakespeare tube line – where the London Underground has been recreated in celebration of this 400th anniversary – you can see that in the Independent here .
And finally you may enjoy this entertaining Shakespeare Guide to Love: where every romance is also a bromance, you go to bed never knowing who you’ll wake up with, and the strongest marriage is the Macbeths’  which is in the Guardian this week.

And I still think this sketch from David Tenant and Catherine Tate is one of the funniest takes on Shakespeare ever!

As the NHS apparently decides that the fatties among us will have to wait longer for healthcare because it is our own fault that we’re ill; it is clear that advice on how to stay slender has never been needed more.  Slim by Design has just been published by Hay House – and is attracting much publicity with its radical new philosophy for weight loss. In this paradigm-shattering book, leading food psychologist Brian Wansink reckons that the trick isn't changing what we eat, but the environment we eat in. Through his extensive, cutting-edge research, Brian found that we are increasingly starting to arrange our homes to make unhealthy, comforting foods easier to reach and consume. Meanwhile, the same thing has been happening all around us. Restaurants have made it more tempting to order richer meals. Supermarkets have made it more economical to buy packaged and processed foods. Workplaces have made it habitual to eat on the go or at our desks. School lunchrooms have made it acceptable to pile large portions onto a tray. This has all helped to make us 'fat by design'.

This eye-opening book shows how you can adapt and redesign your most common spaces in innovative and inexpensive ways to start losing weight naturally. It offers simple and practical solutions for eating healthily in the long term without any dieting or restrictions. Slim by Design has just been extracted in the Daily Mail (circ. 1.6 million), and on the Mail website (circ. 6.3 million). This is huge publicity as you can see from the figures, and the book will also be in the May issue of Women’s Health and the June issue of Red. You can read the Daily Mail extract here. “My studies show that if you want to lose weight or stay slim, willpower simply won’t cut it, what really makes a difference is tricking yourself into eating more healthily. By making a few subtle adjustments around your home, when shopping or at restaurants, healthier eating can become an easy and effortless default mode, even when your brain is on autopilot.” Slim by Design (pb, 978 1781807415, £12.99) is available now and you can order it and find out more here.

Watch Brian Wansink talking about this ever pertinent subject on YouTube here

The Unmumsy Mum is absolutely soaring up the bestseller lists – and there is no doubt that self-help books and blogs for mothers by mothers are “having a mummy moment”. Mum Hacks: Time Saving Tips to Calm the Chaos of Family Life by Tanith Carey is published next week, and is written by an award-winning journalist and columnist for the Telegraph and Daily Mail, so it’s certain to get plenty of publicity – there’s been a lots of interest already from women’s mags and daytime TV shows; Fiona Philips said it was “exactly what every time-starved modern mum needs” –  this quote is on the front cover. From how to get out the house on time in the morning to how to tame your housework, this book is invaluable for any stressed mum. Tanith Carey offers sensible advice on how to get a handle on life and have time to actually enjoy your kids and partner without feeling overwhelmed by it all. This book isn’t about being a supermum but about finding ways to simplify everyday habits to create a healthy life balance for the whole family and lead to a happier life. Mum Hacks has an eye-catching cover, put it on a table next to The Unmumsy Mum, How to Have a Baby and Not Lose Your Shit et al and it will sell! Mum Hacks: Time Saving Tips to Calm the Chaos of Family Life by Tanith Carey (pb, 978 1910336229, £9.99) is published in May by Crimson Press and you can find out more and order it here.
Here’s Tanith Carey talking on This Morning last year about whether pushy parenting is a good idea!

Irenie, a young girl coming of age in upstate New York, has a secret at the core of her life. Her mother – the striking, charismatic Yasmeen – disappeared five years earlier. Her father, James, a distant, eccentric academic so bewitched by his late wife, has never spoken of this gaping absence from their lives. Yasmeen is presumed dead, though Irenie has doubts. In a hidden loft space Irenie discovers a box containing old love letters exchanged between her mother and a man named Ahmed, who remained in Yasmeen’s native Pakistan as she immigrated to the US. Yasmeen’s past and ultimate fate are revealed gradually, in part through Irenie’s visit to her relatives in Islamabad. As this heartbreaking and unusual and debut novel reaches its dénouement, Irenie and James learn to become the protagonists of their own lives as they uncover the secrets ruling them both. The story unfolds from dark to light with admirable consistency, resulting in an emotional journey that is as satisfying as it is gripping. Dear Yasmeen by Sophia Khan (pb, 978 1902932491, £9.99) is published by Periscope Books in July and you can find out more here.
You can watch an interview on YouTube with Sophie Khan talking about her book here.

The Observer will be publishing a review of Alison Brackenbury’s new poetry collection Skies on the 1st May. For forty years Alison has been a popular poet throughout the UK. Her poems have been featured on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and this new book contains reflections on childhood, nature, family memories and WWI.  Alison Brackenbury recently won a Cholmondeley Award and you can find out more about Skies (pb, 978 1784101800, £9.99) which is published by Carcanet here.

The sun is shining – finally – the weather is warming up, so our thoughts are turning to summer holidays – and the Sunday Times Travel Section will be publishing a big extract from Glamping Getaways this weekend. This is a fully revised second edition of this title from the Cool Camping series which has been updated to showcase 80 stunning glamping sites across the UK. As one reviewer said of the first edition, this is “a beautifully presented book, like the others from this publisher, it presents a feast of photographs to feed the fantasy. There are just so many beautiful images, they sell the whole idea of glamping; the reviews of campsites are quirky, funny and informative - this is my kind of campsite guide, giving you the flavour of what you might find as well as all the facts that you might need.” Glamping is the big holiday success story of the last few years, proving that you don't have to sacrifice style and comfort to enjoy a refreshing blast of life outdoors and this is the original luxury camping guidebook, fully updated for 2016.  Glamping Getaways: Stylish Stays Around the UK (pb, 978 1906999654, £16.95 is out this month from Punk Publishing. Find out more and order it here.

Treats, a brilliant debut collection of unforgettable, interlinked short stories of 21st century womanhood by Lara Williams has just been published and is getting enthusiastic reviews on social media. These are strong, introspective, feminist stories; blackly comic and full of emotion. Lara Williams is an outstanding, wholly authentic new voice and readers are loving her! BookMunch said “Williams brings a level of awkward humour … which brings to mind writers like Miranda July, or Lena Dunham” and David@bluebookballoon wrote “Two stories left in Treats and putting off finishing as I want to keep reading. Please tell me you have more by this author coming!” Emma Jane Unsworth said “What a wonderful collection. Very smart and VERY funny. A stunning mix of measured wisdom and raw emotion. There’s also a real sense that these stories - beautiful in their own right - belong together. I loved the connections between them, and the way ideas were subtly and steadily developed from beginning to end.” Treats (pb, £8.99 978 1910449707) tackles many of the dilemmas of contemporary female adulthood, including abortion, depression, extra-marital affairs, infatuation, new baby anxiety, bereavement, hair loss, sexual ethics, cats and taxidermy! It’s published by Freight and you can find out more here.
It was the Queen’s 90th birthday this week of course, and if you are not a royal fan then you may be interested in the views of Biteback author Joan Smith who wrote a piece in the Guardian yesterday entitled The Queen and a Reign of Abject Failure which you can read here. Joan’s book Down with the Royals (hb, £10.00 978 1849548298) , which is part of the Provocations series, declares that the monarchy – undemocratic, unaccountable and shockingly expensive – has no place in modern Britain. If, however, you are looking for something a little more celebratory for your bookshop; then you’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of other more royalist options also available from Biteback!
Backstairs Billy: The Life of William Tallon, the Queen Mother's Most Devoted Servant (pb, £8.99 978 1785900006) by Tom Quinn is available in paperback, the Daily Mail said that it “provides a fascinating downstairs angle on the Royals’ upstairs life, with lots of unexpected details: for example, that the Queen Mum’s comic turns included impersonations of Blackadder and (brace yourself) Ali G.” 
Pets By Royal Appointment (hb £14.99, 978 1849546034) by Brian Hoey contains masses of intimate anecdotes and fascinating detail, as this royal expert describes the mini-palaces provided for the Queen’s pampered corgis and Princess Anne’s badly behaved bull terriers.
Not in Front of the Corgis: Secrets of Life Behind the Royal Curtains (pb, £8.99 9781849544115) also by Brian Hoey gives us the inside story of the Royal Family through the eyes of those who know them best, a sneak peek behind the ermine-trimmed curtains to reveal what they really get up to in their spare time. Are they just like us? Or are they a world apart? Here are the answers to everything we’ve ever wondered about the Royals: which programmes does the Queen watch on TV? What music did the Queen Mother listen to? Who can drive and who can’t? What is it like to attend a dinner party thrown by Charles and Camilla? Who are the most popular (and most unpopular!) Royals to work for and why?
And finally, Her Majesty Sixty Regal Years (pb, £9.99, 978 1849542937) again by (yes you’ve guessed it) Brian Hoey, is a lively, authoritative and revealing portrait of the Queen’s life and work through the eyes of those who’ve known her and worked with her over the last 50 years. The Mail on Sunday called it “the most intimate book ever written about the royals” and it’s available in paperback now.

If you love the Queen and also fashion, then you’ll probably enjoy browsing through this from Elle Magazine – ninety of the queen’s best fashion moments – some great pics!
Let’s end with some music – five top queen inspired songs! No – not the Sex Pistols, but I think this dance floor filler from Abba would be a great place to start! How about this 1974 hit  from – who else but Queen, and RIP Whitney – always loved this one. If you’re feeling the 80’s vibe then this is going to be right up your street. But in at number one – this is a bit of a wild card – but hey it does feature her majesty’s relations!

You can follow us on Twitter at @CompassIPS. We’ve always been very big fans of the tweets from Elizabeth Windsor@Queen_UK so here’s a selection of her best tweets so far this year...

April 20: We are family. One's got all one's heirs with me. #StillReigning
April 19: India says it wants return of priceless diamond the Koh-i-noor #forgetIt
Apr 11: Seriously considering having David Cameron moved offshore.
Mar 26: Great Britain. Remember that the clocks go forward an hour tonight. This is so Gin O'Clock is an hour closer for the summer. #You’reWelcome
Mar 23: Text message from Adele: "Hello".
Mar 18: Iain Duncan Smith has resigned. Amazing. Had absolutely no idea he was still a minister in the first place. #IDS
Mar 8: #InternationalWomensDay #LikeABoss
Mar 3: If there's one thing every country is petrified by, it's a "warning" from the French. LOFAO
Feb 21: Didn't hear Europe moaning about Britain when we had to pop over and settle a couple of wars. #JustSaying
Feb 18: Text from Nick Clegg: "I know it's none of my business anymore but I REAAAALY hope we don't leave the Eurovision Song Contest" #StillAMoron
Feb 15: Text from Camilla: "Freezing one's tits off". #Awkward.
Jan 22: Just got a £130m cheque from @google. #Winning
Jan 3: OK Britain. Back to work. This isn't France.
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This newsletter 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.

Friday 15 April 2016

Compass Points 165

It was The London Book Fair this week and I really hope any indie booksellers who attended had a thoroughly good time! Apparently the indie authors were not pleased about a perceived side-lining of the Author HQ area at the fair this year, with one author calling it a “step backwards” and saying that “it’s about time that authors - the creators of the media this industry revolves around - were recognised as a valuable part of LBF.” You can read the full story in The Bookseller here
There’s more news from the fair in the Guardian which you can read here and here’s a fun post from agent Julie Mushens about exactly what does happen in between the wheeling and dealing and official business!
See our favourite tweets about the LBF at the end of today’s blog!

183 times a year is reportedly the number of times it is normal for a girl to argue with her mother. Unfortunately for Lizzie it seems more like 183 times a day! Sound familiar? Then you’ll probably like 183 Times a Year which is a brilliantly funny observation of contemporary family life.  It introduces us to Lizzie; exasperated mother and the frustrated voice of reason to her daughters’ teenage angst. She gets by with good friends, cheap wine and talking to herself. Meanwhile 16-year-old Cassie, the Facebooking, Tweeting, selfie-taking, music and mobile phone obsessed teen hates everything about her life.
She longs for the perfect world of Chelsea Divine and her 'undivorced' parent and Joe, of course. However, the discovery of a terrible betrayal and a brutal attack means that Lizzie and Cassie are forced to reassess the important things in life as they embark upon separate journeys of self-discovery. A poignant, heartfelt look at that complex and diverse relationship between a mother and daughter; 183 Times a Year (pb, 978 1911129813, £7.99) by Eva Jordan is out from Urbane this month and you can find out more about it here.
You can read a great interview with Eva Jordan here on Word Press

As you may already know, 2016 marks the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. One of our finest British poets Simon Armitage has been commissioned by 14-18 NOW (a cultural programme to make the centenary of WW1) to write a sequence of poems in response to photographs of areas associated with this battle.  It took place on the Western Front between July and November 1916 – the first day of the offensive was the bloodiest in British military history. Armitage has written 30 poems of between 2 and 20 lines and has chosen 12 images and a further 13 photographs to contextualise them. The book is called Still, and will act a catalogue for an exhibition of the same name which will first be mounted at first at the East Gallery in Norwich and subsequently go on a national tour. Still is a very high quality special edition of poetry and photography, designed in a large landscape format. As well as poems and photographs it contains contemporary maps, prose texts, fold-outs and decorated endpapers. Still by Simon Armitage (hb, 978 1911253136, £25.00) is published by Enitharmon in July and you can find out more about it here.
You can watch an extraordinary four-minute film on the Battle of the Somme here on YouTube. Shot on location on the Western Front in 1916, this short film was produced privately and proved more popular than the official films that the War Office had made during the war despite being shockingly graphic. Audiences, well aware of the real conditions in the trenches, seemed to prefer a film that didn't try to pretend that war was easy or fun.

Sexy Haiku by Nick Brooks (hb, 978 1910449561, £9.99) is published this month by Freight. Ewan Morrison, author of Swung and Tales From the Mall said of it “This takes haiku into radically new territory - filthy, hilarious, arousing, tragic and most surprisingly of all, utterly modern. A stroke of zen-like genius.”  These engaging and accessible haiku are in turns romantic, funny, erotic and playful. a powerful and explicit collection that follows the peaks and troughs of one man's relationships. To be read alone or shared with the one you love, this is a collection wrought with sexual tension. Find out more here
A woman asks her new lover:
Why don't you write about me?
legs parted wry smile between
dark curls maybe I will.
If you like the sound of this, you can hear Nick more reading assorted poems from this beautifully packaged collection on a 1-minute film here
Two years ago Magsie Hamilton Little sold her home and travelled to central Sahara to rethink her life. There she met up with two Tuareg nomads, and ended up buying and making friends with a sick camel, which they consequently christened Fleabag for obvious reasons.  The Sky is on Fire is a book about courage, friendship, freedom and faith. It brings to full circle the journey that the author began in her first book, Dancing with Darkness and gives an insight and perspective into one of the least understood tribal peoples of Africa, the Tuareg. It also asks key questions that we may all have about the deep rifts facing East and West and the issues of refugees and migration that divide the world today. This is travel writing in the tradition of Eat, Pray, Love and Wild – a story of adventure and self-discovery. The Sky is on Fire by Magsie Hamilton Little (pb, 978 1906251765 £8.99) has a really lovely evocative cover and is published by Max Press in July. You can find out more about it here.
Everyone has gone bonkers for golf following Danny Willett's extraordinary victory at the 2016 Masters. You can re-live that moment here! A good time then to tell you about Behind the Ryder Cup: The Players’ Stories which is the latest in the best-selling series of behind-the-scenes histories from Arena Sport – which have sold over 30,000 copies. The 41st Ryder Cup is at Hazeltine, Minnesota in September 2016, and this fully illustrated hardback is a history of the Ryder Cup like you have never experienced it before. From the origin matches that preceded the first official encounter between Britain and America in 1927, all the way through to Gleneagles in 2014; this is the complete history of the Ryder Cup – told by the men who have been there and done it. With exhaustive research and exclusive new material garnered from interviews with players and captains from across the decades, Behind the Ryder Cup unveils the compelling truth of what it means to play in golf’s biggest match-play event, where greats of the game have crumbled under pressure while others have carved their names into sporting legend. Behind the Ryder Cup by Peter Burns and Ed Hodge (hb, 9781909715318, £20.00) is packed full of exclusive and previously untold stories and you can find out more and order it here.
It’s always interesting to debate the validly or otherwise of historical fiction – and there is an interesting article on that subject in the Guardian here. But the fact remains, most of us love love love a good historical drama – be it in book form or on TV, and I  certainly am already getting rather over-excited about Versailles, a bold 10-part French drama about the court of King Louis XIV to be broadcast on BBC Two later this year. You can watch a trailer here – it looks extremely gripping and altogether FABULOUS! With excellent timing, Gallic have just published The Sun King Conspiracy by Yves Jego and Denis Lepee (pb, 9781910477359, £8.99) This tale of religious brotherhoods, corruption, romantic intrigue and political scheming will give you an insight into the world of intrigues and secrets in the court of Louis XIV; perfect reading in preparation for what promises to be the most talked-about TV series of 2016! The Sun King Conspiracy is set in 1661 as Cardinal Mazarin lies dying. As a fierce power struggle develops to succeed him, a religious brotherhood, guardian of a centuries old secret, also sees its chance to influence events. But events take an unexpected turn when a set of documents from Mazarin’s palace fall into the wrong hands. Their contents have the power to change the course of history for France, and for the Sun King. Louis XIV had the longest reign in European history (1643-1715). During this time, he brought absolute monarchy to its height, established a glittering court at Versailles, and fought most of the other European countries in four wars. If you’re not familiar with this particular bit of history - here are ten facts about him – and you can find out more about The Sun King Conspiracy here!

In honour of Louis XIV and to finish with a bit of music – how about my top five Louis songs!
The “Louis” can be the title or the singer – so let’s start with this retro classic from 1980 followed by surely everyone’s favourite Louie here! Number three: this classic from The Kingsmen I think. Then how about this absolute belter from Della Reese. But number one has to be Louis playing Louis – doesn’t get much classier than that!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are some of our favourite London Book Fair tweets from this week...
Joanne Harris‏@Joannechocolat  Once again, that time of year where authors give thanks for not having to attend the London Book Fair...
Freight Books ‏@FreightBooks We're all back in the office after #LBF16 and humblebragging about exhaustion and good times. Might nap in the book cave.
Jonathan Ruppin ‏@tintiddle Well, I'm not sure the London Book FAIR has lived up to its name. No candy floss and you just can't get a goldfish home in a tote bag.
Urbane Publications ‏@urbanepub  Checklist for #LBF16 tomorrow - coffee fund, lovely books, business cards, AIs, free badges, banter and clean underwear. I'm ready!
Freight Books ‏@FreightBooks  Is #LBF16 flu a thing?
Laura Waddell ‏@lauraewaddell  Gail Rebuck at LBF: Apparently the UK ran out of silver ink during Fifty Shades reprinting frenzy.
Urbane Publications ‏@urbanepub  432 emails this morning - ah, the joys of #LBF16
Andrew smith ‏@andrewaxiom On seeing thousands of books at LBF, one asks, 'Does the world really need MY book?' Answer: 'YES!'
Sean O'Keeffe ‏@okeeffe Busiest, most upbeat @LondonBookFair in 10 yrs attending. Books have got their mojo back, though we never really went away.
The London Book Fair ‏@LondonBookFair Thanks again to everyone who attended #lbf16 See you a little earlier next year, the 14-16 of March!!
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This blog is based on a 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.

Friday 8 April 2016

Compass Points 164

Aside from being a bookseller, what is your dream job? Well, a surprising amount of us seem to want to work in Government these days – is it the promise of those off-shore tax accounts I wonder? How to be a Government Whip is the latest title in the acclaimed How to Be series from Biteback. It is going to be serialised in the Mail on Sunday on 17 April which is great publicity for it. How to Be a Government Whip is a light-hearted, behind-the-scenes guide to the roles and functions of the Whips - those party enforcers tasked with imposing discipline on members of the House of Commons. Its author, Helen Jones describes the long hours and endless debates, and writes also about the dark arts employed to deal with the rebellious and the disaffected. She reveals what Whips really think of their colleagues, including ministers and former ministers, and how they view the civil servants who believe Parliament gets in the way of government.  Helen Jones served in the Whip’s Office in Gordon Brown’s Government so she really knows her stuff, and this is a fascinating guide to this most mysterious but important of roles in the British political system. How to be a Government Whip by Helen Jones (£12.99, pb, 9781785900624) is published this month, and the other titles in the series How to Be an MP (pb, 9781849542203) How to Be a Minister (pb, 978 1849547321) and How to Be a Parliamentary Researcher (pb, 978 1849549301) are also available now. Find out more and order it here.
Now don’t get me wrong, publicity for one of our titles in the Mail is always great news as it has gazillions of readers – but if you’ve ever wondered whether any of them are actually capable of getting to grips with intelligent subjects, then you will find this tube map of where the Mail’s interests really lie highly amusing!

And if you’re in a mood for a bit of politics, then I’m sure you’ll very much enjoy this latest offering from the brilliant Cassetteboy!

Russia, 1943. A girl from Leningrad and a soldier from Venice stand together on the edge of wilderness. He is a shadow of a man, trapped behind wire, an enemy in her land. Taking something from her pocket, she slips her hand through the wire and catches her skin on a barb producing a tiny drop of blood. ‘Have this.’ The man takes the gift – a small crust of bread, a little piece of hope. Its memory will nourish him, keep him alive, on his long journey home to Italy. But when he returns, he must decide which path to take; whether to be true to the love of the girl who saved his life, or to pursue his unfulfilled vow and seek revenge on the man who had ruined his home and his family. The Art of Waiting by Christopher Jory is a tale of love, revenge and survival against the odds, set in Venice and Russia in the 1940s This is the second novel from Christopher Jory, an exciting and very promotable new talent in historical fiction with the ability to evoke a powerful sense of place thanks to his own extensive travelling. The Art of Waiting by Christopher Jory (pb, 978 1846973628, £9.99) is published by Birlinn in May and you can find out more and order it here.

Many of you sell magazines in your bookshops, and I’m pleased to be able to tell you that Britain’s most entertaining and authoritative poetry magazine PN Review is now available to order from Carcanet via Compass. Simon Armitage described it as “The most engaged, challenging and serious-minded of all the UK’s poetry magazines.” There are six issues a year of this A4 journal with its classy and distinctive covers, and the retail price is £6.99. All trade sales are sale or return, and in any shop which places a standing order for three or more copies, the poetry or literature buyer will be entitled to a personal free subscription to PN Review, to be sent to your home address. If you would like to stock PN Review in your shop then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or email for more details.

OMG this is very funny – and also scary; a selection of original Donald Trump quotes as voiced by Winnie the Pooh!
This next title comes with the highest of praise. Esquire Magazine said “Abani … brings to mind Babel, Hemingway, McCarthy” while Dave Eggers said “Chris Abani might be the most courageous writer working right now. He writes like an angel.” Junot Díaz said “Chris Abani is a force of nature … a luminous, shattering talent” and the New York Times wrote Song for Night contains, at once, an extraordinary ferocity and a vulnerable beauty all its own.” Coming in May from Telegram is a new edition of this acclaimed haunting story of a child soldier in West Africa. Trained as a human mine detector, My Luck, a boy soldier in West Africa, witnesses and takes part in unspeakable brutality. At twelve his vocal cords are cut to prevent him from screaming and giving away his platoon’s presence should he be blown up. Awaking after an explosion to find that he has lost his platoon, he traces his steps back through abandoned villages and rotting corpses – and through his own memories – in search of his comrades.
Song for Night is a lyrical, poignant journey through the nightmare landscape of brutal war. Abani’s most recent novels have been successfully published by Penguin – if you are not familiar with his work you can find out more on He was featured on the BBC’s Open Book last month discussing the role of race, culture, and language in fashioning our sense of self: you can listen again to that here. Song for Night by Chris Abani (pb, 9781846592041, £7.99) is published in May, and you can order it here.

We do love a good quiz here at Compass – so well done to Sylvie, Mark and the team at Waterstone’s Cambridge for running their incredibly, nay legendary, popular Book Quiz – looks like a great evening!

Copies of The Life of Elves have just arrived at Compass Towers and they look absolutely terrific. This latest novel by Muriel “Elegant Hedgehog” Barbery, was released in France last year and after a long seven-year wait, her many fans are in for a treat. A recent article in the New York Times describes what The Life of Elves is all about: “Now she has surprised readers and critics by delivering an enigmatic and beguiling fairy tale, unicorns and all. The story centres on two 12-year-old girls: Maria, a charmed orphan with supernatural powers who is taken in by villagers in France, and Clara, a clairvoyant piano prodigy in Italy, who begins having visions of Maria and realizes their fates are intertwined. The girls never meet, but they are drawn together in an epic supernatural battle between the world of elves, a land of swirling mists, shape-shifting creatures and celestial music and art, and an evil elf faction seeking the end of humanity.” The Life of Elves has elements that are very close to Barbery’s life such as her fascination for Japanese gardens and her love for art and music. Whether you are a fantasy reader or not, you will find this novel hard to resist. With echoes of Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and Milton; Muriel Barbery has created two heroines whose personality and adventures will charm and entertain. You can read an interview with Muriel Barbery talking about the book in the Independent here and The Life of Elves (pb, 978 1910477212 £12.99) is published by Gallic in May.

And talking of bestselling fantasy authors did you see the EXTRAORDINARY amount that the chair that JK Rowling sat in while writing Harry Potter sold for last week?! Read about it on BuzzFeed here!

Thanks very much to Daunt Books in Marylebone for a great window display for Death in Profile by Guy Fraser Simpson. This is what Christopher Brookmyre has described as “Comfortingly old school crime fiction with a modern twist” and what Ruth Dugdall, a CWA Debut Dagger Winner called “classy and sophisticated … if you thought the Golden Age of crime writing was dead, then read this.” This crime story speaks to a contemporary audience yet at the same time harks back to the Golden Age of detective fiction. Intelligent, quirky and mannered, it is something of a love letter to the detective novel evoking the elegance of an earlier time, and the spirit of the one and only Lord Peter Wimsey.  It’s just come out from Urbane, and you can order it here.

Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone by Michael Bradley is launched at the London Book Fair next week. Teenage Kicks was John Peel’s all-time favourite record, and The Undertones became one of the most fondly remembered UK bands of the post punk era. Michael Bradley‘s story is a bitter-sweet, heart-warming and occasionally droll tale of unlikely success, petty feuding and playful mischief during five years of growing up in the music industry.   The Undertones stuck to their punk rock principles, signed terrible deals, made great records and had a wonderful time. They broke up in 1983 when they realised there was no pot of gold at the end of the rock and roll rainbow.  You can hear Michael talking about his book on You Tube here and he continues to play bass with The Undertones, who reformed in 1999. Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone by Michael Bradley (pb, 978 1785581809, £16.99) is published by Omnibus; find out more here.
And here it is: the original raucous record that you just have to pogo along to! I also really liked the One Direction Comic Relief version you can watch here!

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. This week we’re enjoying these tweets on the creative process of actually being an author at #amwriting….
The UnNovelist ‏@TheUnNovelist  It's impossible to explain creativity. It's like asking a bird, 'How do you fly?' Eric Jerome Dickey
John Simmons ‏@JNSim  Much ‘writing time’ is spent not writing a word. It’s not necessarily writer’s block; it’s just thinking time
Novelicious ‏@noveliciouss Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. Anton Chekhov
Eva Jordan Writer ‏@EvaJordanWriter  "Write a page a day, only 300 words, and in a year you have written a novel" Steven King

Jon Winokur‏@AdviceToWriters A writer’s duty is to register what it is like for him or her to be in the world. ZADIE SMITH
The UnNovelist ‏@TheUnNovelist A 1st draft is like exploratory surgery - open the body, see what's there, come back and fix.
Sally Ann Melia ‏@Sally_Ann_Melia Words and ideas can change the world - Dead Poets Society.
Novelicious ‏@noveliciouss Picking five favourite books is like picking the five body parts you'd most like not to lose. Neil Gaiman
Will Hill ‏@WillHillauthor Writing a character so awful that I just want terrible things to happen to him. Luckily, I have that power.
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This blog is taken from a 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.