Friday 28 October 2016

Compass Points 190

Who saw the lovely documentary on Channel 4 this week about Virginia McKenna and her animal conservation work? You can watch it here. McKenna has been campaigning for wildlife causes ever since the 1966 release of the film Born Free in which she and her husband depicted the story of conservationists George and Joy Adamson and their reintroduction of Elsa the orphaned lion cub to the wild.
Her autobiography, The Life in my Years, is available in paperback from Oberon and well worth stocking since its call to respect nature and all that it provides has never been more pertinent: there were 200,000 lions in the wild when Born Free was made and there are now just 20,000. With a foreword by Joanna Lumley, this inspirational book will inspire anyone who cares about the future of the planet and all the animals dependent on it. This year marks fifty years since the original release of Born Free, and the new documentary has certainly highlighted McKenna’s work. The Life in My Years (pb, £12.99, 978 1849430357) by Virginia McKenna is available now and you can read a review of the documentary in the Guardian here.

And let’s remind ourselves here of the final moments of the original film – and its famous soundtrack!

And by Shuntarō Tanikawa from New Selected Poems (pb,£12.99, 978 1784100681) published by Carcanet was the Guardian Poem of the Week which you can read here. The also piece featured much praise for Tanikawa, one of the most inventive modern Japanese poets: “One poem can’t tell us nearly enough about this brilliant and versatile writer.”

An interesting article here  in the Literary Hub about the effect of prizes such as the Man Booker on the fortunes of independent publishers – it features the many small British indie presses whose books have recently made it to prestigious shortlists including the fabulous And Other Stories.

Talking of And Other Stories; there is a  lovely online review for Trysting (pb, £8.99, 978 1908276766) by Emmanuelle Pagano (published on 17 November) describing it as “a unique literary experience.” As reviewer Melissa Beck writes: “Trysting is one of those rare books that defy description it in any sort of a review.  At its core, Pagano’s book presents us with a series of writings in various lengths that deal with the human experience of love … can be read like a collection of poetry, slowly, a little bit at a time when one has quiet and the mood strikes.” You can read the whole piece here.  Emmanuelle Pagano has won the EU Prize for Literature among many other literary awards, and this title has already had dazzling reviews in Europe as well as major enthusiasm from bloggers, eg: “Trysting is now my favourite book I've read so far this year. It's a whole series of vignettes of people falling in or out of love, and the little imperfections and idiosyncrasies that make up intimacy.” There is a confirmed review for Trysting coming in the Guardian shortly, and we are also expecting one in the Telegraph.

I love this story from the Huffington Post – a hairdresser in the US who gives a discount to any child who will read aloud while their hair is being cut! Brilliant!

Crosby, Stills & Nash, the American-British folk rock supergroup made up of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash are famous for their intricate vocal harmonies, often tumultuous interpersonal relationships, political activism, and their lasting influence on US music and culture. Somewhat surprisingly, there has never been a biography of Stephen Stills – he is one of the last remaining music legends from the rock era without one. All that is set to change with the publication next week of Stephen Stills: Change Partners: The Definitive Biography 2016 by David Roberts (hb, £20.00. 978 1911346005). During his six-decade career, Stephen Stills has played with all the greats. His career sky-rocketed when Crosby, Stills & Nash played only their second gig together at Woodstock in 1969 and he is the only person to have been inducted twice in one night into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Throughout 2016 Stephen Stills has been on tour with his new blues/rock trio The Rides; he has thousands of fans, and there will definitely be a strong demand for this biog which is published by Red Planet.

Let’s have listen to one of my favourites – Crosby, Stills & Nash playing Marrakesh Express live in 2000.

Which author said “The man is as useless as nipples on a breastplate”? Very good, you’re quite right it was indeed George R.R. Martin. Have a look here for a great list of some more of the most savage insults in literature!

A couple of Biteback titles are getting some terrific publicity at the moment.  It’s been a very good week for The New Philistines (pb, £10.00, 978 1785901270) with the furore surrounding the ousting of Emma Rice at Shakespeare’s Globe providing timely material for Sohrab Ahmari to link to his new title (which is published in the Provocations) on Newsnight, and in pieces in The Spectator and Prospect magazine. Sohrab Ahmari's book is a passionate cri de coeur against what he sees as our abandonment of the quest for truth, freedom and the sacred in order to make to make room for identity politics. He believes that contemporary art is obsessed with the politics of identity and that if you visit any gallery, museum or theatre, the chances are the art on offer will be principally concerned with race, gender, sexuality, power and privilege. Commentary Magazine said: “Sohrab Ahmari’s polemic against the contemporary art world is angry, witty, uncompromising, and utterly unanswerable ... Tremendously entertaining and thought-provoking” while The New Criterion called it “a spirited examination of how identity politics has infiltrated and perverted art in contemporary society. This book should be available at every art museum, art gallery, and avant-garde performance space.”

Do keep an eye out, too, for The Bad Boys of Brexit:  Tales of Mischief, Mayhem & Guerrilla Warfare in the EU Referendum Campaign by Arron Banks (hb, £18.99, 978 1785901829). There has already been an excellent piece about it on The Spectator Blog and it is being serialised in this weekend’s Daily Mail.

Anakana Schofield will be on Radio 4’s Woman's Hour on 7 November, talking to Jane Garvey about her novel Martin John. There’s lots more good publicity to come for this brilliant exploration of a man's long slide into deviancy: since its shortlisting for the Goldsmiths Prize (announced 9 November); Martin John has been confirmed as the Irish Times Book Club choice for November. This involves a live event (taking place on 2 November in Dublin), a popular podcast, and a whole month of coverage on the Irish Times website with confirmed contributions from Booker Prize judge Jon Day, novelist Megan Bradbury, booksellers from Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, a forensic psychiatrist, and much more! Additionally, Anakana Schofield will be interviewed for the New Statesman, as well as appearing on The Guardian Books Podcast and Monocle24 Radio. Martin John (pb, 978 1908276667, £10.00) is published by And Other Stories.

And to finish with – there are some bestselling seasonal titles which may not be new – but which certainly deserve a place in every bookshop. Such a book is Christmas Poems by U A Fanthorpe. These witty, quirky and thought-provoking poems cover a broad range of seasonal characters, from angels to personified Christmas trees, and a variety of styles to match, from moments of beautiful lyricism to the comically touching Gloucestershire foxes begging baby Jesus to visit: “Come live wi we under Westridge / Where the huntin folk be few”. Fanthorpe is witty and highly original, rethinking the Christmas story from quirky angles, to create her own alternative Christmas legend from the cat and the sheep-dog left out of the stable, to the wicked fairy's gifts for Jesus. Above all, these poems are celebrations of Christmas joy and love.
An online review sums up the appeal of this title: “If you love or hate Christmas, believe or disbelieve passionately, or simply value short, pithy poems, this book will surely be a treasure for you. It's funny, irreverent and godly all at once. Can be given to the aged aunt or the stroppy brat in the sure knowledge that it will make both chuckle and feel it was written for them. I have bought three copies (and no, I don't know the author!)” With drawings by Nick Wadley, Christmas Poems (£9.99, pb, 978 1900564137) really is the ideal stocking filler – whether it’s by the till or on your gift table. It is published by Enitharmon Press.

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Our tweets from this week are taken from the hilarious #TrumpBookReport: If Donald Trump Explained Literary Classics…

Sam Tett ‏@SamTett The problem with Narnia - which is a disaster by the way - is OPEN BORDERS. Just letting people POUR in through the wardrobe.

Simon Spanton ‏@SimonGuy64 No one has more respect for this white whale than me. Believe me.

Olle Svalander ‏@OlleSvalander The man was old. Very old. No stamina. And the sea. The sea is huge.

Beth Pandolpho ‏@bethpando You don't understand a person until you see things from his point of view. Wrong, Atticus. I have the best point of view.

Dave Harned ‏@davi3blu3 I'm calling for a total shutdown of Wild Things entering the US until our people can figure out Where the Wild Things Are.

Andrew Craft ‏@acraft Would it be such a bad idea if we got along with Voldemort? He's tough. So tough, really. And he's been very good to me.

P to the Such ‏@PeterSucher The Wind? Gone! A total disaster. Scarlett O'Hara: a 5 at best. And that war? I was against it from the beginning.

David Futrelle ‏@DavidFutrelle I just start catching them. I just catch, I don't wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. Grab them in the rye

Simon Bentley ‏@Bentley_si There's this cat, wearing a hat. Breaks into a house. Terrible! Terrible things happen. Ask anyone. The worst. Probably ISIS.

NastyJill Weinberger ‏@jillybobww I tell you: if I had written this book, there'd've been way more than two cities. I'd've had four, five cities at least.

Kaavya Ramesh ‏@KaavyaMRamesh Achilles. What a failure. Weak heels. Only I can take Troy. And I do not have weak heels. My heels are so good. Believe me.

Missy Kurzweil ‏@missykurz The Hunger Games are rigged, folks. Everyone knows Katniss won because she played the woman card. Nasty woman. Very rigged.

Morgan Cikowski ‏@Morgans Winnie the Pooh...don't get me started. Low energy. Lazy. Overweight and no stamina. Always eating. He should be drug tested.

Jennifer Ray ‏@JRay_NYC Dr. Seuss? Big liar. Very very big liar. Green eggs? Wrong. Cats in hats? Never happened. Medical school? I don't think so.

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 talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Compass Points 189

I love science fiction for its ability to ask really big questions, and tackle really important subjects; and Iraq + 100: Stories from a Century After the Invasion does exactly that. This collection poses a question to ten Iraqi writers: what might your country look like in the year 2103 – a hundred years after the disastrous American and British-led invasion, and 87 years down the line from its current, nightmarish battle for survival? How might the effects reach across a century of repercussions, and shape the lives of ordinary Iraqi citizens, or influence its economy, culture, or politics? Might Iraq have finally escaped the cycle of invasion and violence and, if so, what would a new, free Iraq look like? Covering a range of approaches – from science fiction, to allegory, to magic realism – these stories use the blank canvas of the future to explore the nation’s hopes and fears in equal measure.
We meet time-travelling angels, technophobic dictators, talking statues, macabre museum-worlds, even hovering tiger-droids, and all the time buoyed by a dark, inventive humour that, in itself, offers hope. As the city of Mosul begins its fight back, writers from all over Iraq are also fighting back with their visions of the future, and of a different Iraq. There has been publicity about this on the BBC World Service and also on BBC Arabic, and a post this week by its editor Hassan Blasim about Iraq + 100  on Twitter became a social media sensation, receiving over 2,000 likes in just a matter of hours.  Iraq + 100 (pb, £9.99, 978 1905583669) edited by Hassan Blasim and featuring stories by Anoud, Hassan Abdulrazzak, Ibrahim Al-Marashi, Zhraa Alhaboby, Ali Bader, Hassan Blasim, Mortada Gzar, Jalal Hasan, Diaa Jubaili and Khalid Kaki is published on 17 November, by Comma Press.

Meanwhile back in the world  today rather than the future one, it’s another week, another US Presidential debate. I love this - a fascinating look back at photos of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton through the years from Getty Images.

There was a terrific 4-star review in the Mail on Sunday this week for Glen Maxwell’s Drinks with Dead Poets (hb, £12.99, 978 1783197415) published by Oberon: “Think Alice in Wonderland with a bit of Narnia thrown in…thrilling…readers will emerge enlightened and enthralled.” This follows an excellent piece in the Guardian praising it as a “a wholly brilliant evocation of a mysterious university campus, its students and visiting lecturers” – you can read that review here.
Drinks with Dead Poets is a gorgeous gem of a book, which I think will strike a chord with many readers and poetry lovers – it is truly written from the heart from the author who Simon Armitage called “compelling, original, charismatic and poetic.”

Talking of drinking, you can tell we are now well and truly in the run up to Christmas by the number of lavish alcohol adverts flooding the airwaves and billboards; so it’s also the ideal time for Birlinn to be publishing Whisky by Aeneas MacDonald (hb, £9.99, 978 1780274218) This is a terrific re-issue of what is – in the opinion of most whisky writers and experts – the finest whisky book ever written. It is certainly the first written from the point of view of the consumer and is thus historically significant. But more than that, poetic and polemic in style and with its emphasis on the importance of single malt whisky it remains fresh and relevant to the interests of today’s whisky drinker. It is a remarkably prophetic book, and with Ian Buxton’s shrewd commentary and analysis, combined for the first time with 20 full-colour period illustrations, it is brought bang up to date for today’s generations of whisky aficionados.  Previous editions have sold in excess of 10,000 copies in UK and the US and are highly collectable and this new edition features extensive notes from Ian Buxton, pre-eminent among contemporary whisky writers. His own book; 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die has now sold 200,000 copies worldwide. This beautifully designed new hardback edition of Whisky is published at the end of the month by Birlinn.

Who doesn’t love this - an iconic 15 seconds from the classic Ealing comedy Whisky Galore!

Well, while we’re on the subject of the auld country, what is Scotland’s favourite book? I’m sure in the future many of our titles from our wonderful Scottish indie publishers will be on the shortlist – but right now it’s Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon as voted for in a poll for the BBC's Love To Read campaign. You can see the full top ten titles here.

It was Super Thursday yesterday, when many publishers bring out their “biggies”:  a staggering total of 219 new books are published on this one day alone, many of which are expected to be this Christmas’s bestsellers. Have a look here at an article in The Guardian on what bookshops think will sell well for them in the next couple of months…

There has been loads of publicity for the new ITV Sunday evening series, Tutankhamun starring Max Irons and Sam Neill. You can watch a trailer for it  here. The only edition available of the discovery of the tomb written by Howard Carter himself is The Tomb of Tutankhamun (hb,£14.99,  978 1 906251 10 9) published by Max Press. For more than 3,000 years, the tomb of the boy king lay undisturbed by grave robbers. When Howard Carter uncovered it in 1922, his find made a landmark in archaeological history. To its discoverers the tomb yielded a treasure of unimaginable significance and the story of this great discovery, first published in instalments between 1923 and 1933, is here told by Howard Carter himself, who led the excavation. Carter’s diary captures all the drama of the moment and in this book the events and consequences of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb are rivetingly traced in the discoverer's own words. There has always been huge interest in this fascinating subject; which of course has been re-ignited with the new ITV series. The Tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter is available now.

The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight by Christina Courtenay (pb, £7.99, 978 1781893203) is book four in the Shadows from the Past series and has just been published by Choc Lit. This author gets absolutely rave reviews for her titles on Amazon – don’t let them scoop up all the sales – she has many many fans and as one reviewer says: “If you like romance and history then this book is perfect. The present and the past blend seamlessly to engage and delight the reader. Believable characters, a steady pace and a real page turner. I will seek out more of her books. Lost myself in the pages and had a wonderful reading experience.” This title is a fantastic time-slip adventure, combining drama, romance and mystery with plenty of skulduggery and intrigue. It follows The Silent Touch of Shadows, the Secret Kiss of Darkness and The Soft Whisper of Dreams.

I don’t think you expert booksellers will have any problems with this - a chance to see if you can guess the famous book from its cover image alone. From those Friday funsters over at BuzzFeed!

The Life Assistance Agency (pb, £8.99, 978 1911129035) Thomas’s Hocknell’s debut novel just published by Urbane, will be in the WH Smith Fresh Talent promotion in January 2017. This entertaining story features Ben Ferguson-Cripps who sets aside his literary ambitions to join the mysterious Life Assistance Agency. Their first case is to trace a missing person with links to the Elizabethan angel-caller Dr John Dee. Pursued by a shadowy organisation the trail leads through Europe into the historic streets of Prague, where long-buried secrets are revealed, and Ben discovers there is far more to life than simply living…

Speaking of Urbane, here is author Anne Coates at the launch party for Dancers in the Wind (pb, £8.99, 978 1911129639), a gritty and gripping crime thriller which was published last week – we love it when publication day involves cupcakes with edible books on! You can read a great post about Dancers in the Wind and an interview with its author Anne Coates on the Damp Pebbles book blog here.

The Adventures of Tintin is often considered to be one of the greatest series of all time with an estimated 230 million copies of the titles sold worldwide – over 100,000 a year are sold in the UK alone.  So if you stock this iconic series, then make sure you have Tintin in the Congo which is newly available in the UK from Casterman. In this, the second of the Tintin books, the young reporter travels to Africa, unearthing a criminal diamond smuggling operation run by the American gangster Al Capone (who he will meet again in Tintin in America). Tintin in the Congo has not previously been widely translated into English or available in the UK, and its publication has often led to heated discussions concerning accusations of racism and censorship. However, many have argued that banning the book would set a dangerous precedent for the availability of works by other historical authors, and Tintin in the Congo should be read in its historical context – it was first published in 1931. This new hardback edition will be shrink-wrapped and have a bellyband saying “Collector’s Edition” and fans will certainly want it to complete their collection of all 24 Tintin adventures. Tintin in the Congo (hb, £10.99, 978 2203096509) was published this week. Reviewers have praised it for “showing off the early spontaneity of Herge’s drawing style” and said it “provokes thought rather than outrage.”
Here is an interesting 5 minute film  from the European Journal from 2012 when a Congolese man tried (unsuccessfully) to get Tintin in the Congo banned in Belgium.

Where do you stand on the news that Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature? He is the first songwriter to win the literature prize; other contenders this time included Salman Rushdie, Syrian poet Adonis and Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Author Karl Ove Knausgaard told the Guardian: “I’m very divided. I love that the novel committee opens up for other kinds of literature – lyrics and so on. I think that’s brilliant. But knowing that Dylan is the same generation as Pynchon, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, makes it very difficult for me to accept it. I think one of those three should have had it, really. But if they get it next year, it will be fine.” However, so far Dylan has responded with silence since he won the prize last Thursday, and has yet to get in touch with the Swedish Academy, made any mention of the accolade or indicate whether he will attend the celebrations! On 10th December, all the Nobel prize winners are invited to Stockholm to receive their awards from King Carl XVI Gustaf and to give a speech during a banquet. Sara Danius the academy’s permanent secretary said “I have called and sent emails to his closest collaborator and received very friendly replies. For now, that is certainly enough. If he doesn’t want to come, he won’t come. It will be a big party in any case and the honour belongs to him.” See if you agree with these  - the Top Ten Bob Dylan songs of all time!
Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are some of our favourite tweets from this week...
Comma Press ‏@commapress Did you see @commapress in @thebookseller yesterday talking about #northern #indie #publishing, the #NFA and @Book_Fair!
Freight Books ‏@FreightBooks Your publisher needs you! Walking the Lights needs votes to win @GuardianBooks #NotTheBooker prize.
Matthew at Urbane ‏@urbanepub Book sales of Tea & Chemo have provided over £1,600 for cancer charities #charitytuesday #breastcancer
Gallic & Aardvark ‏@BelgraviaB Did you know that Promeces longipes, encountered on #tablemountain were the models for the mystery beetle that infests Nineveh? #bugs
BrookesPoetryCentre@BrookesPoetry Our #WeeklyPoem is 'Belle Étoile' by John Kinsella & Alan Jenkins from their book 'Marine' pub by @EnitharmonPress: "Don’t stretch out a hand to the drowned man I’ll roll like a pebble to the sea"
Booksaremybag ‏@booksaremybag We love this write-up about Stromness Books and Prints, one of the UK’s most remote and northerly bookshops  #Orkney
And Other Stories ‏@andothertweets Retweeted Chloe Turner: “The stitched together tapestry of over three hundred teasing glimpses of love...” Lovely review of Emmanuelle Pagano's Trysting!
Polygon Books ‏@PolygonBooks Jan-Philipp Sendker tours the UK next week with latest mystery novel, DRAGON GAMES. Come along to meet him and hear all about his writing.
Leah Moyse ‏@LeahJMoyse There are books that sit within their genre. #AnHonestDeceit smashes the boundaries of brilliance with its own genre. @urbanepub @Gmankow
Freight Books ‏@FreightBooks What does Friday afternoon at Freight mean? #BookAndABeer of course! *opens can*
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
This bog 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 please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

Friday 14 October 2016

Compass Points 188

Off to Daunts in Notting Hill this week for the launch of the new edition of the Good Hotel Guide 2017 (pb, £20.00, 978 0993248412) featuring the best hotels, inns and B&Bs in Great Britain and Ireland. There has been a distinct resurgence in sales for this guide in recent years – consumers seem to be realising that the physical book has many advantages over the website – not least the fact that you get £150 worth of vouchers in the printed guide, giving you a whopping 25% off compared to the 10% off that is available online! As the Mail on Sunday said, this is “the one guide that offers a sense of what a place is really like” and the newly designed 2017 Guide has a cleaner brighter format, full-colour throughout, with 11 pages of user-friendly maps showing you locations for around 900 selected hotels in Great Britain and Ireland. It includes lists of special hotels, ranging from child-and-dog-friendly to romantic and great value and is the clear market leader in its field; as the Guardian said: “Squeaky clean advice. No. 1 of the guides that take no freebies.”

You booksellers are ever innovative with your well-chosen but seemingly random displays for titles; designed no doubt, to make the browsing punter pick up and try something they wouldn’t otherwise have thought to try! We love this brilliant example of this at Toppings St Andrews – where I spot Prime Minister Corbyn: and Other Things that Never Happened (hb, £14.99, 978 1785900457) from Biteback nestled up against books by George Orwell, Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare!

As the US election gets ever closer, In Trump We Trust: How He Outsmarted the Politicians, the Elites and the Media by Ann Coulter (pb, £9.99, 978 1785901416) and Hillary Rising: The Politics, Persona and Policies of a New American Dynasty by James D. Boys (pb, £14.99, 9781849549646) both published by Biteback continue to sell well.

I love this moment when a CNN reporter is genuinely dumfounded by the fervour of a particular ardent Trump supporter, and if you haven’t seen this already then you must watch – Clinton and Trump having the time of their life!

This week was Ada Lovelace Day and Twitter went bonkers celebrating the achievements of Ada, and other women in science who were ahead of their time. Hopefully you used the opportunity to sell lots of Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Launched the Digital Age through the Poetry of Numbers by James Essinger (£8.99, pb, 978 1783340712) which has just been published in paperback by Gibson Square. This title tells the story of Ada’s turbulent private life and her exceptional achievement. It traces how her scientific peers failed to recognise the extraordinary breakthrough she had made in the middle of the 19th century and suggests that if they had, the computer age could have started almost two centuries ago. The film rights for Ada’s Algorithm have already been optioned by Monumental Pictures who made Suffragette.

We gave you an introduction to Anness Books last week, and this week we’re getting very excited about one of their October titles, Microwave Mug Meals (hb, £9.99, 978 0754832850) by Theo Michaels which is published by their hardback imprint, Lorenz Books. As it says on the cover, this book brings you fifty delectably tasty home-made dishes in an instant: all are speedy and simple and taste incredible. Whether you are after a quick brunch, a speedy spag bol, a healthy bean stew or fresh-tasting fish, there's every kind of meal here from Mexican chicken to a Brazilian feijoada to an authentic Asian stir-fry. Not forgetting the instant sweet fixes, such gooey chocolate orange cake!
Theo Michaels first came to light during MasterChef 2014 when he reached the heats of the semi-finals and since then he’s appeared on BBC Breakfast News, Sky TV, The Food Networks and The Big Eat and is a regular on BBC Radio’s Weekend Kitchen. He has his own YouTube Channel which is featured on Woman’s Own, Best Magazine,  Netmums, MumsGuideTo and many others. He also has his own website and blog at has recently been at the St Albans Food Festival, where he was promoting Microwave Mug Meals: here’s an extract from his blog: “Yes, that’s right, there wasn’t a frying pan in sight! The dishes turned out great with plenty of surprise from the audience. I cooked Eggs Florentine with my reverse engineered Hollandaise sauce (which is spectacular, honestly, it is brilliant!), this was followed by my five-minute moussaka complete with béchamel sauce and finally the piece-de-resistance: my stuffed chicken breast with cream cheese and olives on a bed of cumin and chickpea ragu. All done in a mug in 6 minutes!”
Yum, that all does indeed sound scrumptious! There are a few of these “meal in a mug” cookbooks around – but this is definitely superior to most of them – it’s a great price, great quality, and by a great chef who will be giving it loads of publicity!

I love it when authors put up videos on YouTube – and here's  a fascinating conversation about David Herd's poem Feedback from his recent Carcanet collection Through (£9.99, pb 978 1784102562. The poems in this stunning collection resume David Herd's inquiry into the language of public space taken up in All Just (2012) and address the ways in which contemporary public language has been rendered officially hostile. Through sets out to register broken affections and to re-explore possibilities of solidarity and trust.

A terrific piece in the Guardian by Mohammed Moulessehoul, whose books are published under the female pseudonym of Yasmina Khadra entitled “Algeria could have been a paradise for all” where the novelist explains why he turned to boxing to tell the story of his country’s struggle against France’s bloody post-war repression. You can read the whole interview here . The Angels Die has just been published by published by Gallic. The New York Journal of Books said The Angels Die is a must read for readers of international fiction, whether historical or contemporary” while the TLS enthused: “here is a skilled storyteller working at the height of his powers.”

The turmoil in the middle east at present has prompted many booksellers to highlight the incredible range of literature that is now coming out of that region. This is a great display in Blackwell’s Oxford, entitled Around the Middle East: The Perspective from some of the Region’s Best Novelists. As well as including The Angels Die (Gallic) it also features short story collections The Book of Gaza (£9.99, pb, 978-1905583645) and The Book of Dhaka (£9.99, pb,  978 1905583805) which is published this month by Comma;  and Refugee Tales (pb, £9.99, 978 1910974230) published by Periscope, described by one reviewer as “a collection of beautifully written tales about real asylum seekers and refugees experiencing the iniquities of the UK's detention system which is essential reading for anyone interested in human beings.” A really good theme for a book display methinks…

There was a double page spread on The Philanthropist's Tale: The Life of Laurie Marsh (hb, £16.99, 978 1910692547) in this Saturday’s Express Life & Style magazine. Laurie Marsh is one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs but I bet you’ve never heard of him! Here for the first time is the incredible tale of this extraordinary philanthropist; from the streets of Lambeth to glamour of LA, it's a compelling true story of rags to riches, and sharing those riches with others.  From persuading Disney to license their characters for the first time outside the USA, to convincing film stars to perform in low budget movies, Laurie has carved success from his confident, entrepreneurial and collaborative approach to life. Now in his eighties, Laurie still works every day, using his wealth and influence to help as many good causes and charitable organisations as he can. It's an inspirational and fascinating story of entrepreneurial success, and commitment deserving causes. The Philanthropist's Tale: The Life of Laurie Marsh is published by Urbane.
Talking of entrepreneurial success; is Karthik – one of this year’s contestants on the new series of The Apprentice, one of the biggest plonkers of all time? You decide: watch here!

The royal family continue to enthral some of us, and annoy others in equal measure, as the pretty much blanket coverage of Wills, Kate, gorgeous George and cutie-pie Charlotte in Canada has demonstrated. So two new titles from Biteback should do well this Autumn I think. Mrs Keppel: Mistress to the King (£20.00, hb, 978 1785900488) is by bestselling author Tom Quinn who draws on a range of sources, including salacious first-hand eyewitness accounts, to paint an extraordinary picture of Alice Keppel, and her infamous affair with King Edward VII. This is great read, giving us loads of detail about the outrageous goings-on of the Edwardian aristocracy, and the lives of royal mistresses right down to Alice’s great-granddaughter, the current Duchess of Cornwall. Both intriguing and astonishing, this is an unadulterated glimpse into a hidden world of scandal, decadence and debauchery.
The King Who Had to Go: Edward VIII, Mrs Simpson and the Hidden Politics of the Abdication Crisis (£25.00, hb, 978 1785900259 is a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the royal abdication crisis of 1936, in which Adrian Phillips reveals the previously untold story of the hidden political machinations and insidious battles in Westminster and Whitehall that settled the fate of the King and Mrs Simpson. The monarch’s phone lines were tapped by his own government, dubious police reports poisoned Mrs Simpson’s reputation, and threats to sabotage her divorce were deployed to edge Edward VIII towards abdication. Here's  that famous abdication speech from 1936 – very evocative of a different era. And here's a short ten-minute film reminding us of the part Camilla played in the long list of royal mistresses!

If you’ve received your copies of The Un-Discovered Islands: An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes by Malachy Tallack (hb, £14.99, 978 1846973505) which is published this month by Polygon then you will no doubt be exclaiming at its beauty, and the glorious full-colour illustrations by Katie Scott. Gathered in the book are two dozen islands once believed to be real but no longer on the map. This is an atlas of legend and wonder; of places discovered and then un-discovered. You can watch a lovely two-minute preview of the book here on YouTube and if you haven’t ordered this book for your bookshop yet, then I really don’t know what you are waiting for, it’s fab!

Is getting old all about attitude? Arnold Appleforth claims it is. In which case he certainly needs all the attitude he can get, because his journalistic career is on life support, his sex life non-existent (except for a recent regrettable incident at a well-known chain restaurant), his financial position precarious and his alcohol consumption prodigious. The Diary of a Has-been: The Intimate Chronicle of Arnold Appleforth: Legendary Journalist, Idealist and Sponger by William Humble (£12.99, hb, 978 1911129608 ) has just come out from Urbane in October and takes the form of a diary, dealing with Appleforth’s own life with intimate, eye-watering honesty and also providing pungent political comment on the disgraceful state of contemporary Britain. Join Arnold as he drops pearly bon mots before swine and makes one last grab for literary immortality. And struggles to survive in a sadly unappreciative world...

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. It’s 90 years today since Winnie the Pooh was first published, so today here are some of our favourite tweets in an outpouring of love for #WinnieThePooh!

Waterstones‏@Waterstones Happy 90th anniversary to #WinnieThePooh, first published on 14th October 1926.
Blankspace@blakeney “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” A.A. Milne. Happy 90th Birthday #WinnieThePooh
Parris@supernovester You're an old guy but i love you so much happy 90th pooh bear
Identity Design ‏@identitylondon You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter thank you think. Happy 90th birthday #WinnieThePooh!!
Paul Squires@paulsquirescom “It is wise to ask someone what you are looking for, before you begin looking for it.” #WinnieThePooh
Blondie Rambles@BlondieRambles "I need you to come here and find me ‘cause without you I'm totally lost." #WinnieThePooh
Duck Barn Interiors‏@DuckBarn “Home is the comfiest place to be” Winnie the Pooh
Curved House Kids ‏@CurvedHouseKids Anyone else think Penguin was a weird idea? Is nothing sacred? Maybe we're just old being old fashioned. #Pooh90
Prestige Bathrooms ‏@PrestigeBathLtd If the person you are talking to doesn't seem to be listening-be patient- he may have some fluff in his ear #WinniethePooh
Celeste Thorson ‏@CelesteThorson I knew when I met you an #adventure was going to happen.
SusanGarren ‏@SusanGarren #WinniethePooh What day is it?" It's today," squeaked Piglet. My favorite day," said Pooh. A.A. Milne
And here are ten things you may not have known about our furry friend!
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 talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.