Thursday 29 March 2018

Compass Points 255

“The digital world is littered with a baffling array of jargon and acronyms.” Ain’t that the truth. But it doesn’t need to be that way as Digital Darwinism: Survival of the Fittest in the Age of Business Disruption (£14.99, pb, 978 0749482282) demonstrates. Tom Goodwin is a prominent digital expert and a writer for the New York Times, Guardian, Economist, GQ, Wired, TechCrunch, Forbes and many others. He has appeared on TV and radio and was voted a top 10 marketing voice on LinkedIn, a top 30 person to follow on Twitter by Business Insider and a must follow by Fast Company. This title has already won much praise: “Goodwin cuts through the gobbledygook to offer down-to-earth, practical advice for transforming your business. Digital Darwinism reassures you that futurizing your company doesn't mean you need to be the next Uber or Amazon” said Head of Digital Media Adam Najberg; and Rory Sutherland, TED speaker and Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather wrote “This finally answered many questions about innovation which have long haunted me – not least why most large companies are typically so bad at it. It's one of those rare books that is worth reading twice.” Dylan Jones at GQ endorsed this saying it was “A fascinating dip into a disruptive future.” There’s lots more coverage to come, including an article on, a review in Marketing Week, and interviews with Tom in Campaign, Marketing Tech and Raconteur magazines and on NewsTalk Radio. Tom believes every assumption the business world has made about digital is wrong - and he’s starting his own revolution to set things right! This provocative book dispels everything you thought you knew and offers a new guide for a surviving and thriving in a new era. It has just been published by Kogan Page.

Happy 10th Birthday to the London Stereoscopic Company! Queen in 3-D (hb, £50, 978 0957424685) was one of the big success stories of 2017 – and there is loads more exciting publishing to come this year from this exciting and innovative team. Head over to Twitter here  to see a special Happy Birthday message from the great Brian May himself!

The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdale (£8.99, pb, 978 1787198586) is getting great feedback from the book bloggers on its current blog tour! “The creepiest opening chapter award goes to Ruth Dugdall” – you can read a review of this gripping and clever thriller on The Book Magnet here. This novel won the CWA Dagger Debut Award with the judges calling it “dark, disturbing and authentic" and Sophie Hannah said “Ruth Dugdall's novels are intelligent and gripping, with a sophisticated psychological sensibility. She is a huge talent.” Rose Wilks' life is shattered when her newborn baby Joel is admitted to intensive care. Emma Hatcher has all that Rose lacks. Beauty. A loving husband. A healthy son. Until tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect. Now, having spent nearly five years behind bars, Rose is just weeks away from freedom. Her probation officer Cate must decide whether Rose is remorseful for Luke's death, or whether she remains a threat to society. Ruth Dugdall worked as a prison Probation Officer for almost a decade, working with numerous high-risk criminals and this novel was informed by her experiences, giving her writing authenticity and credibility. It has just been published (in a paperback edition which includes new exclusive content) by Legend.

Caroline Slocock author of People Like Us: Margaret Thatcher and Me (978 1785902246, hb, £20) will be on Radio 4’s Start the Week programme on the 9th April. As a young civil servant, Caroline Slocock went to work at No. 10 Downing Street during the last eighteen months of Margaret Thatcher’s prime ministership. As a left-leaning English Literature graduate, she was against much of what Thatcher stood for, but as she worked for her she became fascinated by the challenges Thatcher faced as a powerful woman, and the way that she was demonised. Based on diaries Slocock kept at the time, this extraordinary book examines how although Margaret Thatcher is considered by many to be the ultimate anti-role model for feminists, she had to fight hard to change the status quo and fulfil her ambitions, a feature common to all successful and aspirational women. There is highly likely to be a serialisation of this book in with the Mail or the Mail on Sunday, around its publication by Biteback on 19 April.

And for those booksellers too young to really remember exactly how Thatcher was demonised – you could do a lot worse that have a watch here  of some of the classic Thatcher Spitting Image sketches!

Feeling sad is, unfortunately, a part of everyone's life, and there's not always an easy fix. Children suffer with mental health issues too, and many struggle to express their emotions – especially when they are very young. Sometimes I Feel Sad (£9.99, hb, 978 1785924934) was published this week by Jessica Kingsley and helps explain to children aged 5+ that they're not alone in feeling this way. It has been much praised, one librarian called it "Simple but elegant. A great way to explain to kids that being sad is okay. This book could be helpful to a kid who has depression or a friend trying to understand." A teacher said "I loved this book for the direct and simple way it tackled a potentially tricky subject matter...The real positive to having illustrations like these is that you could have children replicate them to draw their own emotions, or how they want things to be." Another educator called it “A small gem. Elegant. Accurate. Evocative.” which I think describes it perfectly. You can find out a bit more about it and see some of the spreads on Tom’s own website here.

Deserving winner of multiple awards upon its Catalan and Spanish publication; Brother in Ice by Alicia Kopf (978 1911508205, £10.00, pb) is a richly rewarding journey into the unknown. Published on April 23rd by And Other Stories, its editor describes this genre-defying book as “an astonishing semi-autobiographical novel that uses a history of polar exploration to explore the experience of growing up with an autistic brother in the challenging world of post-crash Catalonia. Kopf is also a visual artist and the book is a culmination of a series of visual work which comes out in the photos and drawings.”

A lively launch party this week for the new edition of Managing Cybersecurity Risk: Cases Studies and Solutions by Jonathan Reuvid (£39, 978 1787198913, pb) which is published by Legend Business. Many organisations are still not yet paying sufficient attention to cybersecurity, possibly not appreciating the scale or severity of the potential permanent risk to their businesses. The book is for them; and is a vital wake-up call, offering advice on the resources available to build defences and the selection of tools and services which can achieve enhanced security at an acceptable cost. The first edition of this title was a significant success and this new edition has even more detailed information about the cybersecurity environment and specific threats.

With the news this week that an NHS trust has been fined £2m for the deaths of Connor Sparrowhawk and Teresa Colvin; there may well be renewed interest in Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk: A Death by Indifference by Sara Ryan (978 1785923487, £12.99, pb) which was published by Jessica Kingsley last year. On July 4th 2013, Connor Sparrowhawk, also known as Laughing Boy, was found dead in a specialist NHS unit. Connor, who had autism and epilepsy, had a seizure while in the bath and no member of staff was on hand to stop him from drowning. As one academic said, “The heart of this story rises above a narrative of private grief and public failure by offering a powerful eulogy to the sheer force of love, especially the personality and character of Connor Sparrowhawk that helped inspire a social movement for truth, justice and accountability. Everyone committed to accountable public services should read this book and learn from it.” Social workers agreed saying “This account of a parent's experience brings to light the vital need to really listen, understand and work alongside people with learning disabilities and their families to ensure that care and support is right for them.” This title has had very very good reviews – many parents of autistic or disabled children have found it both moving and helpful and is deserves to be as widely read as possible.

There was an absolutely joyous and inspiring appearance by Andy Merriman and his daughter Sarah on Loose Women last week, talking about life with Down's syndrome. This was on World Down Syndrome Day and there were lots of mentions of their book A Major Adjustment: How a Remarkable Child Became a Remarkable Adult (pb, £9.99, 978-0993291142) which is published by Safe Haven. You can watch that here.

“Revealed! The passion-filled love letters that show Look Back In Anger writer John Osborne carried on sleeping with his first wife through his next four marriages fuelled by their mutual obsession with silk bloomers!” Yep, that could only be a headline from the ever-salacious Daily Mail, but hopefully it will provoke lots of interest in the book it’s referencing, which is Dearest Squirrel: The Intimate Letters of John Osborne and Pamela Lane (hb, £20, 978 1786823922) edited by Peter Whitebrook and published by Oberon Books on 1 April. The Mail feature is superb publicity for this title which you can read here – it’s already attracting lots of online comments such as “a bit like sexting back in the day!” and “if respect for feelings matched fascination with knickers, a lot more marriages would work out.” Don’t just comment; go and buy the book people, go and buy the book!

The Football Writers’ Association 2018 Book of the Year longlist is announced – and great to see that The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide To Football Glory (978 1785903717, pb, £9.99) by David Bolchover which was published in paperback by Biteback at the start of the year) is on it! You can read all about it in the Bookseller here. The shortlist will be revealed in April and the Sports Book Awards Ceremony, sponsored by Coutts, will take place at Lord’s on 7th June. This remarkable story spans two visions of twentieth-century Europe: a continent ruptured by barbarism and genocide, yet lit up by exhilarating encounters in magnificent cities, where great players would strive to win football’s holy grail. With dark forces rising once again, the story of Béla Guttmann’s life asks the question: which vision of Europe will triumph in our times?

Plenty of publicity for Queer Sex: A Trans and Non-Binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships by Juno Roche which is published by Jessica Kingsley on 19th April. Frankly discussing desire, sex and how trans people relate to their bodies and relationships, this collection of intimate interviews with leading figures from the trans and non-binary community is a call to arms for how society views gender and sexuality. Cosmopolitan are running a feature for their sex & relationships section on Juno’s experiences and what she learned about sex while writing the book; Dazed & Confused magazine have also interviewed Juno about the book and there will be extracts and reviews in Huck, Refinery29, Bitch, BUST and Gay Star News. There’s a book launch/panel event at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road on the 19th April, and another launch event together with Waterstones Brighton at Brighton Uni on the 25th.

Michael Arditti is receiving some fantastic reviews for Of Men and Angels (£16.99, hb, 978 1911350262). The Observer said he was “a master storyteller who uses his theological literacy sparingly to deliver a challenging but enthralling read” – that’s here. There was also a great review in the Jewish Chronicle saying that “Michael Arditti is an accomplished and fluent writer, with the sensibility of a philosophical mandarin. In his new novel, education and research combine with well-honed narrative skills to produce an epic excursion through millennia of Judaeo-Christian and Islamic history” which you can see here and he was interviewed in the Church Times here. It’s just been published by Arcadia.

Ten Best Biblical novels – what would you suggest? Michael Arditti has made some interesting choices here for the Arts Desk. And what about the Top Ten Biblical Movies? Have a watch here!

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers – and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

Friday 23 March 2018

Compass Points 254

We humans have a long history of being drawn to images, of communicating visually, and being enchanted with (our own) faces. And where has that trend taken us? Selfies: Why We Love (and Hate) Them by Katrin Tiidenberg (pb, £16.99, 978 1787437173) coming on 30 April from Emerald is a rich and nuanced analysis of selfie culture, exploring the social, cultural and technological context surrounding selfies and their subsequent meaning. They generate more attention than most other social media content and are persistently attacked as being unworthy of all of this attention, lacking artistic merit and indicating pathological and dangerously stupid behaviour. This title is part of Emerald’s Society Now series which provides readers with a definitive snapshot of the events, phenomena and issues that define our 21st century world. Written by leading experts in their fields these titles offer a thoughtful, concise, and rapid response to issues being globally debated. Previously published titles have dealt with Trump, Brexit, Corbyn and the digital era, which you can find out about on the website. In June comes Understanding Fame Online by Crystal Abidin (978 1787560796, £16.99, pb) which I’m sure will be fascinating – I’ll tell you more about that in the coming weeks! Fracking, drones, celebrity culture, the far right, post-truth society, inequality, obesity, clean eating, terrorism, hipsters, the dark net and the migrant crisis are all topics cued up as potential future books in the series.

If you want to read more about selfies then here's a fun article in the Guardian on exactly how selfies became a global phenomenon, and here are 14 fascinating facts about selfies from the Readers Digest! 

But first - let me take a selfie.

Riga may be over 800 years old as a city, but its status as capital of an independent Latvia is only a century old, with half of that time spent under Soviet rule. Despite this, it has established itself as a vibrant, creative hub, attracting artists, performers, and writers from across the Baltic region. The stories in The Book of Riga (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974384) chronicle this growth and on-going transformation, and offer glimpses into the dark humour, rich history, contrasting perspectives, and love of the mythic, that sets the city’s artistic community apart. It was included in Bookwitty's 16 Books from Latvia to Get Started which you can read here. It’s published by Comma on the 12th April, to coincide with the London Book Fair Baltic Countries Market Focus, which will showcase Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian literature.

We are delighted to announce that Puffed Out: The Three Little Pigs' Guide to a Growth Mindset (978 1785831171, £14.99, pb) by Will Hussey and Barry Hymer has just been named winner of the Educational Book Award at the Education Resources Awards 2018! The judges said that by ”using a novel approach and a well-known story, Puffed Out introduces pupils to ethics, philosophy and critical thinking. It is exceedingly witty and will help create fun lessons while introducing pupils to new ways of approaching difficult concepts. It made us laugh and think throughout the judging process.” This innovative and entertaining title is suitable for primary and lower secondary teachers and is published by Crown House.  You can find the full list of Education Resources Awards 2018 winners here.

Racism. Two new Biteback titles out this week deal with this ugly subject in very different ways and remind us of a time when “banana throwing and monkey noises were almost normal.” Both have had some excellent coverage. Vince: The Autobiography of Vince Hilaire is, as the Guardian said, “a funny, emotive, and brutally honest insight into a cult figure” – and this this hugely entertaining and candid book tells the story of one of the most exciting footballers and the beautiful game as it used to be played. Big features in The Guardian and The Sun for this one. Behind the Blue Line: My Fight against Racism and Discrimination in the Police by Gurpal Virdi has had loads of press too – with a big piece in The ‘i’ headlined “Racists and bigots drove me out of the police” and articles also in The Voice, The Justice Gap and on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Eye of the Storm slot.

The media were all over the announcement this week that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have asked Claire Ptak, an east London pastry chef, to make an organic lemon and elderflower cake for their wedding. Kensington Palace said Ms Ptak will create a cake incorporating "the bright flavours of spring" for the May 19 wedding, covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers. This is the sort of publicity that money simply cannot buy for this chef – and she has a book published by Lorenz that I recommend you get front of store asap! The Home-Made Sweet Shop: Make Your Own Confectionery (pb, 978 1780195193, £9.99) by Claire Ptak has over ninety recipes for traditional, hard-boiled, chewy, soft or sticky sweets, candies and chocolates including salt-water taffy, peanut butter fudge, sugar mice and raspberry lollipops! The good news is that they are surprisingly easy to make at home and this fabulous book has step-by-step recipes, a stunning picture of each finished confection as well as an overview of the history of sweets and a cook's guide to ingredients, equipment and techniques. Claire Ptak focuses on using seasonal and organic ingredients and after the announcement on Tuesday, she told of her excitement on Instagram, saying she and the Royals "share so many of the same values regarding food provenance, sustainability, seasonality and of course, flavour!" You can read the whole story here and everywhere else – this really is a terrific bit of promotion for this author!

We’re thrilled to announce that Saqi has been shortlisted for the 2018 Inclusivity in Publishing Award at the London Book Fair. This award is one of seventeen categories which together make the London Book Fair International Excellence in Publishing Awards. The winners of each category will be announced on Tuesday 10 April. Saqi’s aim has always been to publish works that help demolish cultural barriers and encourage conversations. They’ve always been open to controversial and challenging ideas, creating opportunities for dissident voices to speak for themselves. A good time methinks to remind you about two important Saqi titles which were published in 2017. The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write (978 0863561467, £12.99, pb) was a Guardian Best Book of the Year. From established literary heavyweights to emerging talent, the writers in this ground-breaking collection blow away the narrow image of the 'Muslim Woman'. Hear from users of Islamic Tinder, a disenchanted TV chat show host and a plastic surgeon blackmailed by MI6. Follow the career of an actress whose dreams of playing a ghostbuster spiral into repeat castings as a jihadi bride. Among stories of honour killings and ill-fated love in besieged locations, we also find heart-warming connections and powerful challenges to the status quo. Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic was a Sunday Times Humour Book of the Year. How can you tell if your neighbour is speaking Muslim? Is a mosque a kind of hedgehog? Can I get fries with that burka? You can't trust the media any longer, but there's no need to fret: Don't Panic, I'm Islamic: Words and Pictures on How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Alien Next Door (£12.99, pb, 978 0863569999) provides you with the answers and includes cartoons, graffiti, photography, colouring-in, short stories and more in an explosion of expression, creativity and colour. By contributors from around the world, these subversive pieces are provocative and laugh-out-loud funny.

The Ted Hughes Award shortlist is announced, and hurrah, Caroline Bird is on it with In These Days Of Prohibition. Caroline’s fifth collection with Carcanet confronts dark regions of the human psyche with surrealism, sharp observation and humour. The judges found it “powerful, disturbing – yet witty and very funny in places; redemptive.” The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, presented annually by The Poetry Society since 2009, celebrates the outstanding contributions made by poets to our cultural life, acknowledging the possibilities of poetry both on the page and beyond. The £5,000 prize is awarded next week.

It was great to see a mention of the wonderful Room Little Darker by June Caldwell in this interesting Guardian article about whether the so-called renaissance of the short story is a genuine “thing” or just a publishing myth! From one of Ireland's most grindingly authentic and radically original talents and published originally by New Island, Room Little Darker explores the clandestine aspects of modern life through jagged, visceral tales of wanton sex, broken relationships and futuristic nightmares – if this is the sort of thing you like – then you’ll absolutely love it!

A nice review last weekend in the Observer which you can see here for The British Mosque by Shahed Saleem (£60, hb, 978 1848020764) which is published by Historic England. There are an estimated 1,500 mosques in Britain, most of them built in the last decade or so. For all their visibility and significance, little has been written about their origins, how they come into being and why, who designs them and what they are trying to achieve. Saleem’s book sets out to put this right and aims to be the “first ever overview and explanation of Islamic architecture in Britain”. “Mosque design,” says academic Tim Winter, “has historically reflected the local cultures of the Muslim world. A mosque in Java bears no resemblance to a mosque in Bosnia, or a mosque in Senegal.” The question underlying The British Mosque, is, then, what one should look like in Britain.

In August, Pope Francis will visit Ireland; the first papal visit to the country for almost 40 years. You can find out more on the BBC website here. No better time then, to display the magnificent Illustrated History of the Popes (£19.99, hb, 978 0754830252) by Charles Phillips which came out last autumn from Lorenz. This authoritative guide to the lives and works of the popes of the Catholic church has over 450 images and is a comprehensive guide to the 266 men who have been Pope. Divided into three historical sections in chronological order; The First Popes; The Crusades and the Reformation; and Into the Modern Era; this lavishly illustrated reference book is both fascinating and informative.

Driverless cars. Much debated – and extremely topical with the dreadful news this week that a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Arizona – you can see more on that here. Emerald are publishing Autonomous Driving: How the Driverless Revolution will Change the World by Andreas Herrmann, Walter Brenner and Rupert Stadler (978 1787148345, £19.99, hb) on Monday which really could not be more relevant. The authors are very well known and respected academics and Rupert Stadler is CEO at Audi who are investing a lot of money into PR for the book. Emerald are also running a full publicity campaign for it so there will be loads of press coverage. There will be advertising, social media campaigns, author podcasts and news and radio appearances by the authors – there have already been reviews in the Evening Standard, and Business Money. Autonomous Driving is a must- read for anyone interested in the next technological revolution, and in how we may be living and working in a future once considered science fiction. The race toward self- driving vehicles has revolutionized the motor industry, with technology replacing traditional manufacturing as the driver of development. But how far away are we from the finish line - and what will the driverless world look like when we get there? The road towards social acceptance of and trust in self- driving vehicles will perhaps be the trickiest to navigate of all and this title addresses this – and all the other crucial issues on this controversial subject.

Sheena Kalayil won the Writer’s Guild Award for Best First Novel and was shortlisted for a Stanford’s Travel Writing Award for her novel Bureau of Second Chances – this was a big hit for Polygon selling over 4,000 copies. Coming in June is Sheena’s second novel The Inheritance (£8.99, pb, 978 1846974502) which is beguiling everyone who reads it – if you would like a proof please email Rights are being snapped up for this one worldwide which is the sure sign of a forthcoming hit; a Commissioning Editor at Penguin Random House said “I started reading Inheritance last night and found it near impossible to put down – she has such a beautiful writing style and the relationships could not be more topical. This is the kind of book I would take forward in a heartbeat if it wasn’t for the close pub date.” This is an exquisitely written and powerful novel about a passionate young woman’s search for identity set in London, Lisbon and Kerala – WHS Travel have already picked it as a Superlead title.

A Party with Socialists In It by Simon Hannah (978 0745337470, pb, £12.99) was a Guardian Book of the Day last week, they described it as “pithy” and “astute” and you can read the whole review here  For over a hundred years, the British Labour Party has been a bastion for working class organisation and struggle but has it ever truly been on the side of the workers? This history guides us through the Bevanite movement and the celebrated government of Clement Attlee, to the emergence of a New Left that was highly sceptical of the Labour party during the Wilson era. It explores the move towards Blairism and the disheartening story of the decline of the Labour Left after their historic defeat in the 1980s. With the emergence of socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party’s fate rests in the balance. Will they reconcile their internal divisions or split into obscurity? It’s published by Pluto

Ghost Towns by Chris McNab (£19.99, pb, 978 1782745501) is the latest in the evocative and hauntingly beautiful Abandoned series from Amber and will be featured in Architectural Digest next week on pub date. Gold rush towns abandoned when the gold has run out, towns deserted when caught in war zones, settlements evacuated due to natural disasters or chemical spills; seeing a town with devoid of people is an uncanny feeling. Where has everyone gone? And why aren't they coming back? From Pripyat in Ukraine to Bodie in California to English villages requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence during World War II, from Greek leper colonies to deserted Italian mountain villages, Ghost Towns explores a wide range of desolate urban environments from around the globe with 150 striking colour photographs exploring the mysteries of lost worlds. You can see some spreads on Amber’s Facebook page here. This is a gorgeous series – Abandoned Castles (£19.99, hb, 978 1782745228 )was featured in the Mail recently which you can view here and you can catch up with some more of Amber’s Spring Highlights here.

With the news this week that Jacqueline Wilson is to continue the story of Tracy Beaker as an adult – here’s an amusing look on the BBC website at some other famous literary children  who grew up…

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers – and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

Friday 16 March 2018

Compass Points 253

101 Rums to Try Before You Die (hb, £12.99, 978 1780275444) was recently featured in the Bookseller’s preview of important titles coming up in June – and is definitely one to look out for from Birlinn. Rum, once the poor relation of the spirit world, has recently undergone a revival and is no longer seen just as the preferred tipple for tipsy pirates. According to the latest figures, gin has 11.1% of the sales in the spirits market and rum is hot on its heels at 10.1% - up a whopping 8% in the last three years. See the chart below for the full figures. The artisan craft drinks movement and the rise of the rum cocktails are two current trends which have contributing greatly in the growth and development of the rum market. Ian Buxton, the UK's No.1 bestselling author on spirits (and author of course of the massive success story that is 101 Gins (£12,99, hb, 978 1780272993)); takes us on a tour of the different colours, flavours, creation methods and characteristics, making this is the only book on rum you will ever need!

Well, if we’re going to mention tipsy pirates then of course we absolutely need to have a watch of this 2018 remix of the classic (28,000,000 views and rising) Why is the Rum Gone? Why indeed!

The British Book Awards are out, and hearty congratulations to three of our publishers - Emerald Publishing, Kogan Page and Edinburgh University Press who are all on the shortlist for the Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year. As the Bookseller writes: “from an unprecedented 466 entries; from the best indies to giants of global publishing and from debut authors to Nobel winners; the Nibbies are the ultimate celebration of this greatest of creative industries.” The awards are announced at a dinner on 14 May and you can view the full shortlist here. Good luck guys!

We talked about Lily Bailey’s compelling Because We Are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought (978 0993040740, £7.99, pb) published by Canbury Press last week, and you can now listen to her interview on Woman’s Hour this week here with a shorter clip here.

The Russian spy story gets ever more complex and frightening with the Head of Nato Jens Stoltenberg telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning that the incident was part of a "pattern of reckless behaviour" from Russia following allegations of cyber-attacks and election meddling in recent years. "It is important that Russia gets a clear signal that it costs to behave the way they behave," Mr Stoltenberg said. Here are four titles you absolutely must have on display right now which delve much further into this issue. Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Power (£9.99, pb, 978 1908096234) by Yuri Felshtinsky and Alexander Litvinenko – generally regarded as the book which got him killed and the only title by Litvinenko himself. The Putin Corporation: How to Poison Elections (978 1908096258 £9.99 pb) by Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky which is also from Gibson Square and came out last month. This one is a highly topical insight into Putin's handling of elections – including the 2018 Russian presidential elections, the Trump election and the Brexit referendum. Vladimir Pribylovsky died under suspicious circumstances in 2016 (the third of Felshtinsky's collaborators to die after Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Berezovksky) and this title describes in gripping detail Vladimir Putin’s ruthless modus operandi in Russia. The Times called it “required reading” and the Observer said it was “compelling… a clear and accurate picture… the strength of this book is research.” Another essential is Inside Russian Politics (£12.99, pb, 9781785902314) which is published by Biteback. This is an intelligent and engaging account of the realities of contemporary Russian politics which presents Russia on its own terms rather than through the standard prism of comparison with the West. Edwin Bacon moves on from cliché and misleading historical analogy, aiming to widen the readers view of Russia beyond the standard account resurgent authoritarian menace. This concise and accessible guide is part of Biteback’s Inside Global Politics series which aims to fill a gap for accurate, enlightening, intelligent analysis; avoiding both the subjectivity of journalistic accounts and the nuts-and-bolts coverage of textbooks. And finally, also from Biteback is Orders To Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murders (978 1785903595, hb, £20) a story long hidden in plain sight with huge relevance to unfolding events. Putin’s critics have turned up dead on a regular basis and according to Amy Knight, this is no coincidence. In Orders to Kill, the KGB scholar ties dozens of victims together to expose a campaign of political murder during Putin’s reign that even includes terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing. As the Economist said “This incisive, deeply researched account of the Kremlin's murderous dark arts should be an electrifying wake-up call to the West about the danger we face from Putin's gangster state.”

If you prefer your spies to stay purely fictional, then I would recommend South Atlantic Requiem by Edward Wilson (978 1911350316, £14.99, hb) which has just been published by Arcadia. The Morning Star said of it “Well, he’s certainly done it again; Edward Wilson has breathed new life into his leftist British spook, William Catesby.” And there was a feature Crime which you can read here entitled “Writers of Crime and Spy Fiction Should Stand Up for What They Believe”. The Socialist party website also reviewed it well saying “This is socialist author Edward Wilson's seventh novel and does not disappoint. In some respects, it is his most gripping from beginning to end… It's another really enjoyable read from Wilson, again affirming him as a socialist John le Carré. By the end of it Catesby has turned 90 - hopefully not too old to embark on further adventures.” You can find that one here. There will be a launch event with Edward Wilson in conversation with Stephen Gale at Hatchards next Tuesday, as well as several events in Suffolk and there are more reviews to come. If you haven’t discovered these high-calibre Catesby novels from Edward Wilson yet, they come highly recommended – “not to be missed” said the Independent.

A feature in the Western Morning News this coming weekend or next for Paulette (£8.99, pb, 978 1911293163) which is published by Impress this month. Paulette is a tale of two languages and two cultures, overshadowed by two world wars, political activism and mental illness and is based on the true and colourful story of Paulette Tourdes who was born in a village in south-west Auvergne, told by the eldest of her children, Martin Sorrell. It examines what it means to leave your homeland and to embrace another and, for the children, the challenges of growing up bilingual. Sometimes funny, parfois triste, this is a story that explores the strong bonds between the two countries from a deeply personal level.

There was a terrific piece on Charlie CraggsTo My Trans Sisters (£12.99, pb, 978 1785923432) in Women’s Health magazine this week with an interview with Charlie and a good plug for the book which is published by Jessica Kingsley. Below is the article in full – it’s very illuminating and moving article on the subject of gender dysphoria.  

Excellent endorsements are coming in for Leila Aboulela’s Elsewhere, Home (£8.99, pb, 978 1846592119) which is published by Telegram in July. The Telegraph said previously “Aboulela is the kind of writer from whom British people need to hear” and this new title looks like a real winner. From the heat of Khartoum at the height of summer to the wintery streets of London, from the concrete high rises in the Gulf to the blustery coast in Aberdeen; this elegant and moving collection of stories vividly evokes the overlapping worlds of Africa, Britain and the Middle East. Beautifully observed and written with empathy, Leila Aboulela's stories deftly capture the search for home in our fast-changing world. “Rich and poignant. These beautiful tales of Khartoum, Edinburgh, London, Cairo and beyond are a delight.” said AL Kennedy “Exquisite fiction. There are gems here, elegantly cut, polished and framed. Luminous” said Fadia Faqir and Roma Tearne said the tales were “full of elegance, tenderness and the small vulnerabilities that make up our lives.”

Which intelligent/pedantic bookseller or publisher doesn’t love an epic grammar fail? Here are some of the worst/best from Buzzfeed!

Jessica Huie went from being a teenage mother who was expelled from school to having a glittering career in public relations, founding two award-winning businesses and earning an MBE from the Queen. Throughout the course of a career that has spanned more than 20 years, she has worked with some of the world's biggest stars and business people, including Simon Cowell, Samuel L. Jackson, Mariah Carey and even woman of the moment, Meghan Markle. In Purpose (978 1788170567, £12.99, pb) which is published on 28 April by Hay House, Jessica shares the lessons she learned as she went from being an individual who felt purposeless and unhappy, to someone who recognizes her complete power to design and create a successful, meaningful and limitless life. Wow – this sounds extremely compelling and an exclusive interview with Jessica will be featured in the Observer in April. Purpose will also feature in Psychologies Kindred Spirt, U Magazine, Yoga Magazine, The Best You and Country and Town House. Jessica will be speaking on the business podcast The After-Work Drinks Club as well as Talk Radio Breakfast (22.04.18), BBC Radio London (24.04.18), BBC Radio Manchester (25.04.18) and BBC World Service Outlook (25.04.18). You can find out more about this inspiring woman on her website

Who loves the Sharpe series? And any excuse to watch a bit of Sean Bean is fine by me so let’s watch him overusing a certain swear word! For those that love this era and world, The Army Rumour Service recently reviewed The Autobiography or Narrative of a Soldier: The Peninsular War Memoirs of William Brown of the 45th Foot (£16.95, 978 1911512943, hb) saying “I would suspect that fans of Bernard Cornwall’s Sharpe series might find the book a very interesting companion to their hero’s adventures. A wonderful little gem of a book.” You can read the whole piece here. William Brown’s autobiography is a unique piece of history since he is the only memoirist to have come to light from the ranks of the 45th Regiment of Foot in the Napoleonic wars – a regiment that was one of Wellington’s most valiant in that turbulent era. This title is one man's autobiography, but it's the story of many thousands of ordinary soldiers, sometimes lightened with joyous moments, but more often brought down by deprivation, bad luck and sometimes poor decisions. This lively account of a Scottish soldier is unlike many other memoirs of the period which are mostly from officers, and readers have commented how refreshing and fascinating is to see the war through the eyes of a private. It’s published by Helion.

Interesting piece in the Guardian today entitled “Gone Girl's gone, hello Eleanor Oliphant: why we're all reading 'up lit’” With Gail Honeyman and Joanna Cannon on the Women’s prize for fiction longlist, it seems that uplifting stories about kindness and community are proving a hit on the bestseller lists. You can read that piece in full here.

There’s an interview with Peter Kimani talking about his new novel the Dance of the Jakaranda (pb, £8.99, 978 1846592096); in the Financial Times this which should run in the next fortnight. Lots of other publicity too, including a Facebook live chat on the BBC World Service and confirmed reviews in TLS, New Books Magazine, Asian Review of Books, Independent Catholic News, Christian Century, InterLib, Liberator and Afrikult. You can read nice piece about this brilliant and thought-provoking title here on the Historical Novel Society website. It’s just out from Telegram.

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

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