Friday 27 April 2018

Compass Points 258

“I remember thinking that all of life was there … the chaotic, beautiful, hair-raising mess of life. And it was being enacted by people who lived in dying pit villages, who grafted in a factory making military shells. I wanted to do something like that with this book.” So writes Glen James Brown about his novel which revolves around the changes that come to a lost industrial North East England. Stranded on the outskirts of the council estate nicknamed Ironopolis, three generations know many stories and keep many secrets. Ironopolis (£8.99, pb, 978 1912109142) which is published by Parthian on 1 June is a stunning debut with the potential to win prizes and get broadsheet reviews. "Bold, polyphonic, daringly structured yet beautifully paced, Ironopolis is an ambitious and exciting achievement. Few British writers attempt, as Glen James Brown does here, to reckon with the national tragedy that is Britain’s abandonment of social housing; even fewer do so with such confidence. Brown moves with ease not only between voices, but between emotional registers. In doing so, he constructs a novel of both intimacy and reach; one that, even as it risks asking the big questions, never loses touch with the individual voices and lives. This is an abundant, striking novel, marking the arrival of an equally abundant, equally striking talent." wrote author Sam Byers. This outstanding novel should have a strong resonance with lovers of regional, working class, literary fiction and if any bookseller would like a proof copy to read, then please email Eddie Matthews

The Saturday section of last weekend’s Telegraph had a MASSIVE piece (front cover and two more pages) by Jack Thurston featuring his new title Lost Lanes West 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire (978 1910636138, pb, £16.99). Its predecessor Lost Lanes (978 0957157316, pb, £14.99) featuring bike rides in London and the South East has been a massive bestseller, and this new title with the same enticing mix of stunning photography, downloadable GPX, and handmade maps should do just as well. It’s just been published by Wild Things. In it, Jack takes you on a freewheeling tour of the lost lanes and forgotten byways of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire and shows readers how to enjoy the best traffic free rural rides from the seashore into the heart of the west country. Escape to ancient trackways, chalk downs, prehistoric remains, river swims and picnics in sun-dappled woodlands. Climb to the windswept heights of Dartmoor and Exmoor and descend beneath the towering crags of Cheddar Gorge – you can read the Telegraph piece which is entitled 15 cycling adventures with a great pub included here.

Pretty sensational news yesterday that WhatsApp plans to ban the under-16s. As Charles Arthur explores in the Guardian here; the real talking point is how on earth they think they are going to enforce this policy. Charles is an expert on all things techy, and the author of the forthcoming Cyber Wars – which is fully credited in the Guardian article. Cyber Wars: Hacks that Shocked the Business World (£14.99, pb, 978 0749482008) explores the dramatic inside stories of some of the world's biggest cyber-attacks; the real game changers that make organizations around the world tremble and leaders stop and consider just how safe they really are. This book provides a gripping account of why each hack happened, what techniques were used, what the consequences were and how they could have been prevented. This book has loads of great disaster computer stories in – from TK Maxx to Sony, to political campaigns to Talk Talk and is timely, well-written, informed, and entertaining. Reading it will place you amongst those who really know where we are heading with cyber security and is essential for everyone who uses technology: which these days is basically everyone! It’s published on 3 May by Kogan Page

It's now officially St George's mushroom season! People tend to think of mushrooms as being an autumn thing, but now is the time to make the most of these beautiful short-seasoned mushroom nuggets of spring! I love the looks of this fantastic spring risotto recipe using St George’s mushrooms together with morels; from Mushroom Man Michael Hyams and food writer Liz O’Keefe’s fabulous Mushroom Cookbook (978 0754832867, hb, £15) which was recently featured in Delicious Magazine as you can see here. It won Best Mushroom Cookbook in the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards and it’s published by Lorenz.

World Book Day (snowy or otherwise) was a while ago now – but how fab are these  pictures of some of the best costumes – such as these Atwood inspired teachers!

People are going properly bonkers for Tubing (£8.99, pb, 978 1910453568) – a highly original thriller with a fantastic hook which is out from Red Door on 10 May. Fay Weldon called it “a modern-day Looking for Mr Goodbar” and Matt Thorne said it was “sharp, smart and deeply erotic, this intelligent thriller offers surprises all the way to the end of the line. Essential, compulsive reading” Others have praised the “plenty of shocks to be had along the journey. I tore through the final pages with my breath held. I will never be able to travel the tube again without thinking about this novel.” Tubing is a cracking read with an intriguing premise: “as the twists racked up I found it impossible to put down” said Elizabeth Hayne. Red Door are doing a LOT of publicity for this one – including some online advertising – and it looks very good! You can find out more about its breathtaking premise and plot on their website here.  

Most of us think of daring commando raids as being a staple of World War 2, but the First World War also had a notable forerunner to these, the centenary of which was last week. The Zeebrugge Raid was part of a two-pronged attack on German U-boat access to the sea via Belgium – an operation involving the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Author Christopher Sandford tells the incredible and gripping story in his new book Zeebrugge: The Greatest Raid of All (hb, £19.99, 978 1612005041) which has just been published by Casemate. The dramatic story of the 1918 Zeebrugge raid and the men who volunteered in their hundreds for this suicidally dangerous mission, is based on first-hand accounts, and you can read a fascinating article about it on the Forces Network website here. The editor said it was one of their most read articles, and there was also a super piece on War History Online here. Both pieces went up on Facebook where they got a lot of likes – there is a lot of interest in this cracking story, which Churchill called the “most intrepid and heroic single armed adventure of the Great War.”

Waterstone’s boss James Daunt has shared his hopes that the chain will continue to open fresh stores under its new ownership, following the chain's sale to Elliott Advisors yesterday He told the BBC the retailer’s new parent should mean the 283-store chain will grow a lot faster. Despite Elliott’s reputation as an aggressive investor, it has not acquired Waterstone’s to force through change, Daunt said. He expected instead Elliott will “see us grow and ultimately sell us for a nice profit - that's what private equity people do". You can read about this in the Telegraph the Guardian and the BBC.

Readers are really enjoying She’s Fallen by Alex Clare (£8.99, pb, 978 1911293125) which has just been published by Impress Books. This is the second book to feature gender transitioning DI Robyn Bailley and as much as readers have loved the unfolding of the crimes and subsequent investigations what they’ve found equally compelling is “the way in which Alex has taken such a big issue and rendered it meaningfully visible by exploring its smallest and otherwise generally invisible (to outsiders) implications. Given the shocking and totally unexpected ending, I’ve no idea what will come next for DI Bailley, but I can’t wait to find out.” “Robyn is a beautifully developed character, realistic and representative of the experiences many trans women go through yet with plenty of individuality.”

Some of the world’s most iconic bookshops have become tourist destinations – I enjoyed this piece in the Metro entitled Confessions of A Book Tourist with a nice shout-out for the fabulous Bookworms of Cromer!

Bone Deep (pb, £8.99, 978 1846974182) was a Bookseller highlight last week for July – this title is perfect for summer reading promotions. Sandra Ireland was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book of the Year for her debut Beneath the Skin last year of which the Daily Mail said “Ireland writes about powerful and troubling subjects and shows how the past can have devastating consequences”. The rights for Bone Deep (which is published in July by Polygon) have been bought in hotly contested auctions in the USA (Simon & Schuster) Germany (Penguin) and India so there’s no doubt that this writer is one to watch out for! Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder which will appeal to fans of Louise Welsh, Helen Fitzgerald, and Evie Wyld. The cover got loads of positive comments at the London Book Fair – so I hope all you booksellers who didn’t see it like it too! If anyone would like a proof to read of this spellbinding psychological thriller then please email

Another great plug in last week’s Guardian for London's Street Trees: A Field Guide to the Urban Forest (pb, £12.99, 978-0993291135 ) by Paul Wood which you can read here. This caused a real surge in its Amazon ratings and the Safe Haven website also had lots of extra hits. Publicity like this really does make people want to buy the book – and this isn’t just a London thing – there is a lot of love for urban trees all over the UK! I absolutely LOVE Paul’s blog there are some gorgeous pictures of trees on it as well as interesting articles like Engaging people with trees through technology.  Paul did a guided street tree walk from Daunts at Hampstead Heath yesterday, and then in early May there’s another one coming up starting at the Broadway Bookshop in Hackney.

Lots of press coverage for Life and Soul: How to Live a Long and Healthy Life (hb, £18.99, 978 781809778) by William Roache which is published on 19 June by Hay House. William Roache is well-known worldwide of course for his portrayal of Ken Barlow in Coronation Street and now aged 86, he still appears regularly in the show. In Life and Soul, William shares his strategy for keeping fit and healthy, for maintaining his youthful looks and for coping with life's most challenging times. He speaks openly and honestly about how his lifestyle gave him the strength to live through recent events, including the deaths of his wife Sara, and close friend Anne Kirkbride, as well as a harrowing court case. William will be on Loose Women on Friday 15th June, BBC Breakfast and then Granada TV News on 20th June and RTE TV on 22nd June. He’ll also be on the Steve Wright show on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 5, BBC Radio Manchester (20th June) and Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show (22nd June) – so basically all over the airwaves – you won’t be able to miss him! There’s an extract and interview in the Daily Mirror (10th/11th June), the Daily Mail (12 June), the Sunday Express, the Sunday Mirror and the Daily Mail as well as interviews in OK!, the Radio Times and others. He will be doing events at the Waterstones Arndale Centre on 20th June, Waterstones Trafford Centre on 21st June, and a book signing in Dublin on either Fri 22nd June or Sat 23rd June. William Roache MBE is one of Britain's most beloved actors and this personal philosophy for living a rich and rewarding life should have a big market.

He's the longest running member of the show so let’s have a look at William Roache’s very first appearance on Corrie back in 1960 here!

The question of who exactly is entitled to live where in the world is back in the news big time this week, and there was a great piece on Refugee Tales on the Public Books website which you can read here. It says: “Through its engagement with Chaucer’s 14th-century Middle English frame narrative, Refugee Tales takes us back to a crucible of English culture in order to construct a new one in which the recognition of humanity across borders is paramount: where the social and political response to immigration involves believing in, respecting, and upholding the dignity of people whose life experiences lead them to faraway new places.” Refugee Tales (978 1910974230) and Refugee Tales Two (978 1910974308) are both £9.99 paperbacks and published by Comma.

This is great – a hundred book memes – that promise to “keep you laughing for days!”

Congratulations to Yuri Herrera who has been shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award for his magnificent noirish tragedy The Transmigration of Bodies (978 1908276728, pb, £8.99) which is published by And Other Stories. The winner will be announced on 13 June, and you can find out more and see the full shortlist on their website here.

Biteback’s The New Serfdom by Angela Eagle MP and Imran Ahmed, was published this week and asks if the UK is one of the wealthiest, most successful nations in the world then why do so many people feel short-changed? This became the focus of a much commented on piece in The Spectator and the authors have also written about their book in the Huffington Post and Labour List. It has been featured in Politico, City AM and Guido Fawkes, with further pieces expected in Progress magazine, the Independent, Fabian Review, Order Order, The House, PoliticsHome and others. At a time of huge political upheaval and ever-increasing inequality, The New Serfdom (pb, £12.99, 978 1785903137) asks how can we build a successful economy, powered by a happy and productive workforce that benefits everyone? And if Angela and Imran can really answer that question, then I think Putin, Trump and May had better hand them the reins pronto!

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

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