Friday 7 September 2018

Compass Points 273

First, a lovely title which would be a brilliant present for anyone remotely interested in architecture, history, churches or beautiful watercolours. It’s published by Boydell Press, and has just had a superb review here from Christopher Howse (who has more influence than many book reviewers) in the Daily Telegraph. The book is English Medieval Church Towers (£19.99, pb, 978 1783273539). Howse writes “With a cry of delight, I fell upon a book that emerged from its stout packaging. People often send me books with the mistaken hope that I will enjoy them, or even without any such thought. This one was different. The idea is simple: 500 medieval church towers from the Northern Province of the Church of England depicted in watercolour with accuracy and feeling. The pleasure in looking at them is quite a bit more than the pretty design they make on white paper.” This is indeed a wonderful book, comprising of the twelve dioceses of Blackburn, Carlisle, Chester, Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Southwell and Nottingham and York, with each church tower beautifully illustrated with its own watercolour painting and accompanied by detailed information relating to its location and date and an architectural description. The collection is by WE David Ryan, a retired architect who had the idea in 1994 when he and his wife, Kathleen, (who took on the navigation) drove round with a copy of Pevsner’s Buildings of England for each county., and it’s a truly handsome book.

Pretty sensational news today that Waterstones has acquired the Foyles bookshops from the Foyle family for an undisclosed fee. The retailer has bought the Charing Cross Road flagship as well as Foyles' three shops in London and shops in Bristol, Birmingham and Chelmsford. James Daunt, Waterstones MD said: “We are honoured to be entrusted with the Foyles business, and greatly look forward to joining forces with the Foyles bookselling team. Together, we will be stronger and better positioned to protect and champion the pleasures of real bookshops in the face of Amazon’s siren call.” You can read more on that in the Guardian here.  

The concern about childhood obesity is not going away any time soon as experts declare in The Independent and many other newspapers that a “more than 40 per cent increase in children with type 2 diabetes” (a condition unprecedented before 2000) is an “unmitigated disaster”. A good time therefore to promote Fit Food for Kids: A Healthy-Weight Diet Plan and Cookbook by Kim Davies (pb, £8.99, 978 0754831297). In the face of a culture that thrusts unhealthy food and a sedentary lifestyle upon us and our children, this brilliant book gives parents some simple solutions to changing the way their family eats and exercises, not just for a few weeks, but for good. It has expert advice about assessing and monitoring weight, ideas about what action you take (including weekly activity and menu planners, fun games and step-by-step exercise routines) and more than a hundred healthy, fuss-free family recipes. As always with titles published by Lorenz it is fully illustrated throughout and excellent value.

Delighted to see the first UK review of Kathy Page's Dear Evelyn (9781911508281, £10, pb) in today's Daily Mail the day after publication calling it “quietly devastating”. Kathy will be in the UK 1-8 October and will appearing at Battersea Library (a key location for Dear Evelyn), the Birmingham Literature Festival and Five Leaves Bookshop Nottingham, with another London event to be announced soon. Reviews are also expected in the Guardian and Times Literary Supplement. This portrait of a turbulent and beautiful seventy-year-long marriage forged during the onset of World War II is a love story, albeit an unconventional one, about two people who shape each other as they, their marriage and their country change. It’s published by And Other Stories.

In the wibbly wobbly world in which we now live, can you believe anything anyone tells you about anything? Can you trust what I’m telling you about Compass titles for example? Can your customers trust you to give them good advice? Hopefully yes, but if you want to find out more, The Post-Truth Business: How to Rebuild Brand Authenticity in a Distrusting World by Sean Pillot de Chenecey (pb, £14.99, 978 0749482817) provides a dynamic and positive way forward. The Post-Truth Business shows how to strengthen consumer engagement by closing the 'brand credibility gap' and it's packed with examples of inspiring people, brands and international campaigns from the fashion, beauty, outdoor, motor, drinks, finance, media, technology, entertainment and health sectors. Brands are built on trust, but in a post-truth world they're faced with a serious challenge: so much of modern life is defined by mistrust. If a brand isn't seen as trustworthy, then when choice is available it will be rejected in favour of one that is. The Post-Truth Business will be featured in the Sunday Times magazine on 30th September – great publicity for this important new title which is out in October from Kogan Page.

Who doesn’t love a book podcast! Of course we have our own fabulous Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature from Birlinn, and the latest episode is dedicated to a full-length interview with one of the world’s best-loved authors, Alexander McCall Smith; hard to believe, but 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the international phenomenon that is The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Other podcasts are available of course, and here are Buzzfeed’s pick of the best thirty-one book-related listening opportunities!

As all new parents know, children sadly do not come with a parenting manual attached. Instructions Not Supplied (£12.099, pb, 978 1788600255) is the account of one family’s experience in adopting three children, each of whom turned out to have special needs, and the challenges they faced along the way. The book is a unique insight into the twin challenges of adoption and disability, an invaluable read for prospective adopters and adoptive parents as well as natural parents of children with additional support needs. It was published this summer by Practical Inspiration Publishing and its author Julie Otto has written an article for The Green Parent Magazine, which will be out in the Oct/Nov issue.

There’s a superb exhibition about video games called Design/Play/Disrupt on at the moment at the V&A in London which has attracted a lot of publicity and you can read about in the Guardian here. A good time then to remind you about the fantastic Lorenz title, The Illustrated History of 151 Videogames (978 0754823902, £14.99, hb) by Simon Parkin which charts five decades of video game evolution, including arcade, console, PC, online and handheld games, from Computer Space to Fez. Compulsively illustrated with over 1000 action screenshots, game artworks and photographs, the medium’s history is chronicled through the individual stories of the most iconic video games. The story of each game is accompanied by expert analysis as well as trivia and quotations, and this fully illustrated celebratory history will enthral any video games aficionado.

Comma have been working on a very special and incredibly exciting project with Refugee Tales which launches this coming Tuesday (11th September). They have recorded twenty-eight videos of actors and authors reading from Refugee Tales Volumes 1 (978 1910974230), 2 (978 1910974308) and the forthcoming 3 (978 1912697113) and will be releasing one a day for twenty-eight days, to highlight the plight of people suffering under the UK's policy of indefinite detention, and calling for a twenty-eight-day time limit for immigration detention. The videos include the likes of Christopher Eccleston, Maxine Peake, Zoe Wanamaker, Kamila Shamsie and Olivia Laing and the first video is Jeremy Irons reading the Prologue. Over £9,000 was crowd-funded in over a month to pay for the filming and distribution of these videos and you’ll be able to see them on YouTube here and on the dedicated 28for28 website. These ground-breaking anthologies have featured on Channel 4 News, Woman’s Hour, The Guardian, The Irish Times, The TLS and The Observer as well as at festivals across the UK including Manchester, Belfast, Edinburgh and many more.

The Honourable Ladies: Profiles of Women MPs 1918-1996 by Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith (£30, hb, 978 1785902444) was published by Biteback this week, and there's some good coverage coming up. Jacqui appeared yesterday on Sky News to talk about being a female MP and look at the history of women in politics. The book will be discussed in a standalone segment on this Sunday's Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4, where Jacqui Smith will be interviewed and the book discussed alongside archive material featuring some of the book's subjects. Each one of these pioneers has fought tenaciously to introduce enduring reform, and in doing so has helped revolutionise Britain's political landscape. Containing profiles of every woman MP from 1918 to 1996, and with female contributors from Mary Beard to Caroline Lucas, Ruth Davidson to Yvette Cooper and Margaret Beckett to Ann Widdecombe; The Honourable Ladies is an indispensable and illuminating testament to the stories and achievements of these remarkable women. There will be more publicity to come with discussions on LBC, Talk Radio, The Times Red Box and Progress Magazine's podcast.

Russia is back in the news big time this week, and plenty of the news articles about the two poisoners have referenced the two Gibson Square titles The Putin Corporation: How to Poison Elections (978 1908096258 £9.99 pb) by Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky and Blowing Up Russia (978 1908096234, pb, £9.99) by Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky.

Some lovely reviews coming in for A Perfect Mother by Katri Skala (£15, hb, 978 0995647848) which is a bracing, hypnotic story of mid-life crisis about the complexities of love, relationship and legacy, just published by Hikari Press. Christina Patterson writes of it “A truly impressive first novel ... atmospheric, fascinating and very moving. I highly recommend it” and there have also been pieces in the Economist,  The Last Word and Books by and an interview in Female First. The Times will be running an article on Katri Skala early next week. You can also see a ten-minute video of Katri talking about the book on YouTube here.

An excellent review for Crusader (978 1612005447, hb, £25) in Miniature Wargames magazine saying “I reckon this biography should be required reading for serving officers: the style is thoroughly engaging, and the lessons are timeless and of relevance to all aspects of leadership. This is probably the finest biography I've reviewed.” This new biography of Donn Starry who became one of the most influential commanders of the Vietnam War, and after Vietnam was one of the “intellectual giants” who reshaped the US Army and its doctrines. Throughout his career he worked to improve training, leadership and conditions for the men who served under him. It’s hard to imagine anyone who has had a greater impact on modern manoeuvre warfare and author Mike Guardia uses interviews with veterans and family, and extracts from Starry’s personal papers to create a fast-paced and absorbing read. It’s published by Casemate.

Lots of super PR coverage for Bryony’s Hill’s lovely new title Grow Happy, Cook Happy, Be Happy (£20, hb, 978 1910453582) which you can see here. This beautiful book is packed with Bryony's own stunning photographs of flowers, vegetables and the wonderful wildlife found in her garden practical gardening advice, cookery tips and mouth-wateringly easy-to-make recipes that will make you happy inside and out. As Alan Titchmarsh said “There's nothing more satisfying than growing your own produce, and then using it to make a delicious home-cooked meal. But whether you are catering for the family or simply cooking for one, it couldn't be easier to grow, cook and enjoy your very own home-grown, tasty food.” It’s published by Red Door.

A great interview with Denzil Meyrick that he did earlier in the year recently made it to the front page of the BBC News website which you can see here. As a result, demand for titles by this “beat cop who became a crime writer” has soared and his seventh crime book The Relentless Tide (£8.99, pb, 978 1846974120) was published by Polygon last week. In the 1980s, Denzil was pounding the streets of Glasgow as a young constable – experience which was to prove invaluable when he launched his career as a crime writer six years ago. His books feature DCI Daley, a Glasgow detective who is parachuted (metaphorically) into the fictitious rural community of Kinloch to solve a series of gruesome murders. If you haven’t discovered him yet I urge you to try; one of his ebooks is currently the No.1 bestseller on Amazon in Scottish Crime – outselling the likes of Val McDermid, Denise Mina and Peter May!

And finally, it’s Friday, the summer hols seem a long way away as does Christmas and we need something daft; so here are fifteen random but highly mind-blowing facts from Twitter that’ll make you go, “Whoa!”

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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