Friday, 29 November 2019

Compass Points 329

We were so sad this week to hear of the death of the popular critic and broadcaster, bestselling author and much-loved poet, Clive James. Ian Shircore’s So Brightly at the Last (£18.99, hb, 978 1913062071) the first poetic biography of Clive, has been brought forward and was published yesterday by Red Door Press. So Brightly at the Last is a fond and revealing account of James’s 60-year poetic career, from early successes like The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered to recent internet hits like Japanese Maple and Sentenced to Life. In the book, James talks for the first time about his nightmare experience of being locked up in a mental hospital for two months. He also explains why he turned his back on his lucrative TV career and how his ten-year battle against leukaemia, emphysema and several other life-threatening conditions led him to focus his energy on the poems that have established him as ‘a major minor poet’. Oxford Professor John Carey has called So Brightly ‘terrific’ and said he ‘read it with astonishment and learnt a huge amount’. Clive himself was able to read a pre-publication copy in the days before his final illness and called it ‘a wonderful book, energetic, informal and beautifully written’ and said he was ‘thrilled and delighted’ with its exploration of his work. I think this will do extremely well – order it today and it will be in your shops by Monday!

And here is Clive, reading what has been described as his ‘farewell poem’, and from which the lines ‘So brightly at the last’ are taken; Japanese Maple.

An absolutely ace review in The Irish Catholic for A Matter of Interpretation (£12.99, hb, 978 1912054701) which has just been published by Fairlight. You can read the whole thing here but the highlights are: ‘Elizabeth MacDonald’s absorbing novel is built up around the character of the celebrated Michael Scot and his relations with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Hohenstaufen II and various other players in the Middle Ages, the Church, the Arabs, the Jews and the plotting and conniving that was all so important an aspect of ecclesiastical and academic life. Very powerful indeed …this is a book which anyone interested in the development of Europe will want to read … this is a book filled with interest … very thought provoking …those who read will long keep it in mind. Here one suspects is something very close to the truth, and the truth is always interesting, and often astonishing.’ There has also been a review this week in the RTE Christmas Guide.

Great to see as Isabel Galleymore’s Harvest as Poem of the Week this week in The Guardian! You can read it here. It’s from Significant Other (£9.99, pb, 978 1784107116) which is published by Carcanet. The Guardian writes ‘Significant Other observes a range of fauna and flora with a 19th-century collector’s loving alertness. Galleymore’s reach extends to the Amazon rainforest, but there’s a particularly intense focus on marine life (the slipper limpet, the goose barnacle, the spiny cockle). These studies, sometimes interwoven with wry reports on human specimens emphasise the strangeness and uniqueness of some of our less noticed housemates on Earth. Harvest thoroughly deserves its place among the exhibits.’

William Roache was a ‘big guest’ on Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Radio 2 this week, talking about Life and Soul: How to Live a Long and Happy Life (pb, £12.99, 978 1788173537) which is new in paperback from Hay House. You can listen again to that here. Steve Wright has a massive listenership of 8.1 million listeners, so this really is a fantastic promotion for the paperback of this bestselling book and Roache talked very engagingly, sharing his strategies for keeping fit and healthy, maintaining his youthful looks and coping with life's most challenging times. He spoke about the power of love, kindness and positive thinking and said his top bit of advice is ‘life is to be enjoyed.’ Hear hear Bill!

A super review in the Irish Times this week for Nayrouz Qarmout's The Sea Cloak (£9.99, PB, 978 1905583782). Brian Maye said of the collection, 'These stories give insights into life in Gaza, without melodrama or exaggeration, and in language that is clear and rich.' You can read the full review here.

A summary of all the great publicity for Alicia Eaton’s First Aid for Your Child’s Mind (978 1788601177, pb, £12.99) is available to view here. Highlights include a feature in Raring 2 Go, 'Keeping Kids Calm and Happy in an Age of Anxiety' , a piece in Daily Telegraph 'How taking risks in sport is good for kids mental wellbeing and why?' and interview feature in Women's Weekly and a ‘How to Support a Worried Child' feature in Families nationwide magazine. It was published last month by Practical Inspiration and is packed  full of practical suggestions and common sense for all those parents who want to encourage their children to be well-rounded, independent thinkers.

The year is 2013, and Crumlin-born mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor is sitting in McDonald's as he enjoys his weekly coffee, a treat in the eyes of a dedicated fighter. He’s not yet cashed his £60,000 prize money after his maiden UFC victory, but he savours the win, since only recently had he found himself in the social welfare queue. Five years on and McGregor is late for his own press conference before eventually launching into a diatribe against his opponent, which turns into a sales pitch for his own brand whiskey. Somewhere along the line, the fighter has become a stranger to his art. But what is McGregor? Dedicated athlete? Cultural phenomenon? Troubled soul? Narcissist? Arrogant thug? Or sporting icon? In Chaos is a Friend of Mine: The Life and Crimes of Conor McGregor (£14.99, hb, 978 1909245907), former Irish Sportswriter of the Year, Ewan MacKenna examines McGregor's journey, from his upbringing in the Irish capital, to his early days as a prodigiously talented martial arts obsessive, to his recent antics outside the ring which have seem him grow bigger than the sport itself, but threaten to spiral out of control. The Independent called it ‘a supremely written book, that touches topics way beyond the character at the centre of it all’ and it’s just been published by De Coubertin.

A fantastic spread in the Express for Night Sky by Robert Harvey (hb, £19.99, 978 1782749189) showing off just a selection of the two hundred outstanding colour photographs of stunning nocturnal vistas, in this this amazing book of astronomical wonders It’s published by Amber.

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's  ET coming home for Sky, here's  the Rise of Skywalker and  here's  Artist of the Year Taylor Swift performing live at the American Music Awards and here's  Elton John talking about what its like to be bald!

That’s all 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, 22 November 2019

Compass Points 328

It’s full-on Christmas advert season now, and how interesting to see that John Lewis is being challenged as to where exactly they get their ideas from. Guess what, they nick them from books! This piece in the Guardian names Oliver Jeffers, Chris Riddell and now Jen Campbell, Danielle Smurthwaite and Fay Evans as the authors feeling thoroughly pissed off that the retailer is pinching their stories! As the article asks, ‘are John Lewis plagiarism claims now a Christmas tradition?’

Deborah O’Donoghue was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this morning (22 November) talking about her debut novel Sea of Bones (pb, £8.99, 978 1789550023) and you can listen to that here, it was trailed intriguingly as ‘does crime writing make you a bad feminist?’ This atmospheric psychological thriller with a compelling female lead tackles very big questions while totally enthralling the reader. Matthew Spangler, (the author of The Kite Runner stage play) said of it ‘Sea of Bones is an addictively readable, all around terrific novel. It unwinds like an elaborately layered ball of yarn, perfectly paced, revealing its secrets at just the right moment. Part Jane Austen, part Raymond Chandler, part House of Cards, this book is for anyone who likes a gripping read from the first page to the last.’ It’s published by Legend.

Who’s enjoying I’m A Celebrity? What a great time for Emerald to be publishing Reality Television: The TV Phenomenon that Changed the World (978 1839090240, pb, £16.99) which is out on Monday. This book provides an overview of key theories and debates in the study of reality television and asks why it has become such a huge phenomenon, and what is its future in an age of streaming and social media? Reality TV has not just changed television, but every other area of the media too and media and communications expert Ruth Deller investigates the phenomenon right from its documentary roots to where it is now, featuring people from all walks of life and covering everything from romance to religion. There are plenty of interviews with participants and analyses of key programmes, and Deller also examines why people take part in reality TV, how they are represented and impact this has on their lives.

Just to put you into the reality TV zone, you can watch the Top Ten WTF Love Island Moments here, the ten most shocking exits from I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here here and here's a montage of some of the best bits from the nineteen series of Big Brother!

A terrific review for Chinese Astrology: Understanding Your Horoscope by James Trapp (£14.99, hb, 978 1782747222) and Astrology: Understanding Your Star Sign by Marisa St Clair (£14.99, hb, 978 1782746775) in the current issue of the Astrological Journal which calls them ‘stunningly well produced books … custom-made to be given as gifts … the publisher Amber Books is to be congratulated … each book is illustrated with 85 specially commissioned artworks and beautifully presented on high-quality paper … a bonus from an aesthetic point of view is that both titles are Chinese bound in the traditional style, that is to say, stitched together in red or black lace at the spine … as a starter, this can’t be bettered… a masterclass in simplification without misrepresenting the purpose and detail.’

Lucy Werner’s Hype Yourself: A No-nonsense DIY PR Toolkit for Small Businesses (pb, £14.99, 978 1788601238) which is published by Practical Inspiration on 9th Jan has already reached number one on Amazon’s PR Wish List and two on Hot New Releases In PR, and as you would expect from a writer, speaker, blogger, teacher and podcaster Lucy has a steady flow of speaking events, book reviews, and Instagram coverage throughout November, December and January leading up to the publication of her book. You can read a great interview with he intitled Inspirational Women: Lucy Wern on here.

Congratulations to Andrew Latimer whose clever and engaging design for Kei Miller’s In Nearby Bushes (pb, £9.99, 978 1784108458) which is published by Carcanet, has been shortlisted for the Saltire Society Book Cover Award. The judges called it ‘a conceptually strong and unique work that sees the title and author hiding in a newspaper like text’, adding ‘The use of the strong yellow colour gives a brightness to the overall design.’ The winner of the award will be announced, together with all the Saltire Literary Awards, at a ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland on Saturday 30th November. To see the full shortlist, visit the Saltire Society website here.

This made me laugh a lot – eleven differences between Christmas in the UK and the US!

Written by international barrister Gillian Higgins, and referencing the latest scientific research, Mindfulness at Work and Home (pb, £9.99, 978 1910453803) which is new from Red Door is a down-to-earth beginners’ guide. Gillian has pioneered work in mindfulness amongst her professional peers, rapidly building a reputation as a leader in the field and this book is packed with simple hints, tips, quotes, and answers to frequently asked questions. Whether it’s Brexit, Xmas or work that’s pushing your buttons right now, we’re probably all feeling a little frazzled, so why not try some of Gillian’s practices for yourself? Here is the three-minute breathing space meditation and here is an 9-minute guided mediation that uses the sounds of nature as an anchor to the present moment.

Carcanet have just launched a PN Review collection at the Poetry Archive to celebrate 250 issues. There are some fantastic pieces from the archives available to read and listen to, including some by poets published right back in the first ever issue in 1973, when it began as Poetry Nation, making this a truly publication-spanning retrospective. You can read all about it here and here's  the link to access all the amazing free content! I like this one, Elegy of the Flowing Truth by Christopher Middleton which begins:

Almost anywhere there’s a poem lying around
Waiting for someone to lift it up, dust it off,
For instance, the argument with a neighbour
About a large dog: Was it a German Shepherd
Or a mutt?

Author Livi Michael reviewed David Contantine's new collection The Dressing-Up Box (£14.99, hb, 978 1912697212) for The Manchester Review here saying 'The worlds he creates are heterotopic, yet within each one he generates skilfully, often with minimal brushstrokes, the sense of a whole life, as in the short stories of Raymond Carver.' It’s published by Comma.

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's that 18 minute interview with Prince Andrew, here's  the trailer for Frozen 2 and here's the winner of the first ever UK edition of Ru Paul’s Drag Race with Michelle Visage saying ‘The audience saw the pure, beautiful, gritty, British ropiness.’ And talking of British ropiness, if you’re not feeling festive yet, then here's the new Little Mix Christmas single, which should sort you out!

That’s all 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, 15 November 2019

Compass Points 327

Happy Birthday to deCoubertin who are ten years old this month! Founder James Corbett says ‘I wish that I could give you an exciting anecdote about a eureka moment but the reality was more prosaic. In late 2009 I was working as an international sports correspondent, contracted to a US sports business website and freelancing for the BBC. My modest ambition, was to take creative and editorial control over my own book project – I’d had two books published at that stage – and to work with likeminded friends and colleagues, utilising our experiences from the worlds of journalism, design and digital to produce outstanding publications. The birth of deCoubertin was prosaic. With my sister, Anna, who worked with me in these early days, we laid out a statement of principles in a South London coffee shop, and argued about a name. I wanted to call it after my son – Joshua Charles Publishing but Anna argued in favour of De Coubertin – after the founder of the modern Olympics. Anna, as she often does, won the day.’ You can read the whole piece by James on the deCoubertin website here. 

As a ‘corporate suit’ (his words) and former VP of sustainability at McDonald's, Bob Langert works with companies and their strongest critics to find solutions that are good for both business and society. His book The Battle to Do Good: Inside McDonald’s Sustainability Journey (hb, £6.99, 978 1787568167) which is packed with first-hand anecdotes, and scores of lessons learned is published by Emerald. His recent Ted Talk went live at the start of November and has since had well over 750,000 views – you can see it here.

The 250th edition of PN Review (978 1784108298, £6.99, pb) has just been published by Carcanet – what a great achievement for this magazine which John Ashbery called ‘the most informative and entertaining poetry journal in the English-speaking world.’ Highlights in this special celebratory issue include Sin├ęad Morrissey’s StAnza lecture exploring Denise Riley’s A Part Song, Elaine Feinstein’s last poems, a compelling sequence of Inuit tales, and new poems by Sujata Bhatt, Jane Yeh, Angela Leighton, and Parwana Fayyaz, winnerof the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Poem. You can read Michael Schmidt's editorial from the magazine on the Carcanet blog here.

Alexander McCall Smith will be one of the presenters on a major new BBC series entitled The Novels That Shaped Our World which has just started on BBC2 and is part of a year-long celebration of literature at the BBC and traces the form through three themed documentaries in Saturday evenings at 9:45pm. You can read about this here on the BBC, here in the Daily Mail and there have also been articles in the Guardian and the Telegraph praising and arguing the choices. The first episode, which shows the way that women writers, women readers and women's lives have been central to the novel, is available to watch on the iPlayer here. Pianos and Flowers (£12.99, hb, 978 1846975240), Alexander’s new book has of course just been published by Polygon. In these stories, inspired by long-lost photographs, we are glimpse a world long departed. The lives of the people in the frame are imagined and then explored, layer by layer. and to celebrate its publication we’re giving away a copy to the first bookseller to email with Piano in the subject line, plus their name and bookshop address.

The Alan Turing Codebreakers Puzzle Book (pb, £9.99, 978 1788281911) has now sold over 40,000 copies for Arcturus! Published in association with The Turing Trust, this incredible collection of puzzles allows you to test your own codebreaking skills and if you can solve every puzzle in the book then that juts proves that you are sufficiently clever to have been recruited to join the ranks of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, cracking intercepted coded messages and enabling the Allies to defeat the Nazis! It contains a breathtaking range of different types of puzzles, and is the perfect stocking filler –more stock is coming in in December, so order it now!

A very interesting interview this week with JJ Bola, author of Mask Off: Masculinity Redefined (£9.99, pb, 978 0745338743 ) on BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking here, talking together with authors Ben Lerner and Derek Owusu to Laurence Scott about how men now deal with ideas of masculinity. Mask Off is published by Pluto.

Anthony Seldon was on Good Morning Britain last week, talking to with Piers and Susanna for a good fifteen minutes about his biography May At 10 (978 1785905179, £25, hb) which has just been published by Biteback. As well as the big serialisation in the Times, there have also been pieces in the Telegraph, the Sun and the Daily Mail and Anthony has been interviewed on BBC R4’s Today programme, Radio 5’s Emma Barnett Show, BBC Radio Berkshire Breakfast Show, Sky with Adam Boulton, TalkRadio and BBC Politics Live with Andrew Neil where he was a guest for whole show. There have also been interviews in the Daily Express, Chopper's Brexit Podcast, the Sunday Times, the Observer, the Spectator and the Washington Post.

Can you spot the Big Dipper in the night sky? Or Orion's Belt? Cassiopeia? The Great Bear? In fact, a great deal can be seen if you know what you're looking for. Night Sky by Robert Harvey (hb, £19.99, 978 1782749189) presents two hundred outstanding colour photographs of stunning nocturnal vistas, all visible to the naked eye. An extract from this amazing book of astronomical wonders has just gone live on the MailOnline here, have a look, the pictures are breathtaking! It’s published by Amber.

Amanda Brown’s The Lipstick Principles (pb, £12.99, 978 1788601368) is published next week by Practical Inspiration, and there’s lots of PR surrounding the launch of this life manual which promises to free you to let go of worry and fear, live in the moment and love your life! Amanda will be on BBC Radio Manchester on 20th November between 7-8pm , there’s a launch in Manchester with local press attending the day after (the info on that is here ). Amanda is writing a guest article for Female First entitled Let go of fear, love life, and be happy and also one for Just Breathe. There will be a feature in the December issue of Soul & Spirit magazine and an article in the January issue of Living Quietly.

A wonderful review of Hanne ├śrstavik's Love (£10, pb, 978 1911508724) on Radio 4's Saturday Review recently (you can listen again to it here). All the reviewers on the programme LOVED it, with Ellah Watakama Allfrey saying 'I was transported', Christopher Frayling saying the characters were 'drawn absolutely beautifully', and Kathryn Hughes calling it 'an extraordinary novel'. AND they named the translator, Martin Aitken, in very favourable terms. It’s published by And Other Stories.

Alistair Moffat, author of Britain’s DNA Journey (pb, £9.99, 978 1780276298) appeared alongside Ant and Dec last Saturday as they embarked on their own DNA journey. Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey was launched at Bafta on Saturday, to a standing ovation, and there has been absolutely loads of publicity for this two-part series, and the revelation that the winsome twosome are, in fact, distant cousins. You can see the trailer here, the first episode here and the second episode here. All terrific publicity for Britain’s DNA Journey which has just been published in paperback. Polygon are giving away a copy of this epic and revealing narrative to the first bookseller who emails with DNA in the subject line, plus their name and bookshop address.

A fab interview with Michelle Tea in the Guardian which you can read here. It takes up four pages of the Saturday Review section, and Michelle comes across brilliantly! Among other praise it comments, 'what’s striking about this and other essays is how Tea was grappling with themes fifteen or so years ago that are widely and often ferociously debated today.’ Among the many books discussed, she is talking about her new title Against Memoir (pb, 978 1911508625, £10) which is ‘a typically visceral and defiant collection of essays spanning nearly two decades of work that variously touches on art, music, alcohol addiction, her stint as a sex worker, her family life and adventures in queer culture.’ This kaleidoscope of love and adventure was published by And Other Stories this autumn.

The question of Scottish independence is back on the agenda big time in the run up to 12 December, and as always, many authors are weighing into the various issues up for debate. I like the look of The Literary Politics of Scottish Devolution: Voice, Class, Nation (pb, £24.99, 978 1474418140, pb,) by Scott Hames which has just been published by EUP. This book is about the role of writers and intellectuals in shaping constitutional change. Considering an unprecedented range of literary, political and archival materials, it explores how questions of voice, language and identity featured in debates leading to the new Scottish Parliament in 1999.

The Cold War came to an end following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but decades later traces of the places prepared for a conflict that thankfully never happened still remain. Abandoned Cold War Places by Robert Grenville (£19.99, hb, 978 1782749172) explores many of these relics, including such remarkable sites as the an immense aircraft scrapyard housing more than 4000 USAF aircraft; the vast, remote former nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, disused concrete pagodas on the east coast of England, and old Soviet fighter aircraft left for scrap in the wastes of Siberia. With 170 outstanding photographs, this is a fascinating pictorial examination of the remnants of a global superpower rivalry that defined the world for over forty years. There’s a terrific feature about the book on the CNN website which you can see here. MailOnline have also run an extract , that’s here and since it went live on Saturday, the page has had well over 100,000 views. It has just been published by Amber.  

Nayrouz Qarmout's The Sea Cloak (£9.99, pb 978 1905583782) has had some astonishing reviews, and there’s another one this week in STORGY in which they called her debut collection ‘impassioned and glorious, it is a stunning addition to the rapidly growing voice of Palestinian writers.’ You can read the whole thing here.

Lots of and lots of publicity for Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell (£60, hb, 978 1999667436).and now Halloween is over, this should carry on selling well as a Christmas gift. The fab promo video from London Stereoscopic is on YouTube here and the Guardian gave it a full page here. Brian was interviewed on Sky News here, Zoe Ball enthused about it on Radio 2 here, as did Johnnie Walker here. The Art Newspaper featured it here as did Time Out here as well as the Metro here, Amateur Photographer here and Hello Magazine here!

Stressed and unhappy at work, Celia Gaze resigned from her high-powered management role and started transforming a neglected farm into an award-winning wedding venue. She faced nearly every type of challenge an entrepreneur can face – tribunals, near bankruptcy, staff issues, system problems, but the moment that transformed her business from a struggle to a success was the moment she put a bow tie on a llama. Why Put a Bow Tie on a Llama?: How a Crazy Idea Can Change Your Life and Transform Your Business is published by Practical Inspiration in January and there’s has lots of publicity coming up, including a piece in Farm Diversity magazine, an article in Alpha Babe Society, an interview on Prosperity Kitchen Podcast, features in the Spring Wedding Ideas venue guide, County Wedding magazine, Hitched magazine, and interviews on BBC Radio 4’s On Your Farm and Farming Today.

Did you know that London is the world’s largest urban forest? More than a fifth of the capital is trees and London is so packed with foliage that it’s technically a forest (according to a United Nations definition that states that a forest is anywhere that’s at least 20% trees)! There are a massive 8.4 million trees across the capital, nearly one for each of the 8.6million Londoners. These stats are from a fascinating piece in the latest edition of Time Out which you can read here which includes a good plug for London’s Street Trees by Paul Wood (pb, £12.99, 978 0993291135), published by Safe Haven.

Ra Page's introduction to Comma’s Resist: Stories of Uprising anthology (hb, £14.99, 978 1912697076 ) (chosen by Waterstones as one of their 'Best of 2019') was published this week by Bookanista; read it here to get a great taster of what follows in the collection! Resist was also is a Stylist best fiction and feminist read for November, who said ‘these 20 essays about uprising are essential reading.' You can read that feature here. And it was also reviewed by Meteor Magazine and that’s here.

Compass are very pleased to welcome indie publisher Honford Star to the team. You can read more about this list in the Bookseller here. They are expanding their list into contemporary fiction with three new books by up and coming east Asian fiction writers in 2020 and founder and publisher Anthony Bird said: ‘Although all the books could be lumped together as of being from ‘East Asia’, in reality the voices are massively disparate and come from different socio- political and cultural perspectives. Readers who delight in new voices, new literary forms, and want to learn more about the cultural landscape from outside Europe will greatly enjoy the titles.’ There’s lots more info on their website

Jeff Goldblum has been all over the place recently, promoting his new jazz album! I’ve seen him on Radio 2 and The Graham Norton show and there have been multiple sightings in the national press. And I’m pleased to say that The Goldblum Variations: Adventures of Jeff Goldblum Across the Known (and Unknown) Universe (pb, £7.50, 978 1912489244) a collection of flash fiction, stories and games, is selling very nicely thank you for 404Ink. Just don’t forget to keep it piled high on those Christmas book tables – there are a LOT of Goldblum fans out there!

And if you need just a small reminder of his very special brand of fabulousness then here's  a track from that new album, where he’s playing with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.

In this week’s Hot Topics, today, it’s all about Children’s in Need! The current Children in Need format was born in 1980, and if you fancy a burst of nostalgia, have a look at this  clip from 1984!  Here are the highlights from  this year’s Rylan Clarke Neal’s 24 karaoke challenge which includes him singing It Takes Two with Ken Bruce, and here are some of this year’s most surprising fundraising ideas – from sleeping in a tree to guessing where a cow will poo next!

That’s all 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, 1 November 2019

Compass Points 326

Halloween done and dusted, so we all know what come next, and I will draw your attention to this new title from Armadillo. Christmas Fairy Tales (hb, £10, 978 1861478740) is a collection of twelve traditional fairytales in very readable retellings by folklore expert Neil Philip (with introductory notes for the interested). Some, such as The Nutcracker are well known, others such as the joyous Schnitzle Schotzle and Schnootzle less so; but all offer glorious views of the true meaning of Christmas. It is exquisitely illustrated by Isabelle Brent with gold leaf trims to all the pictures, and the pages are beautifully designed with intricate borders and lots of lovely festive details; you can have a look here. Finished copies have just come in looking absolutely gorgeous and I would highly recommend it! Of course, there are plenty of Christmas anthologies around but this one really is something special and it’s just £10!

A brilliant article in the Observer last weekend about Patrick McCabe, which talks a lot about his new book The Big Yaroo (£12.99, pb, 978 1848407411) which is published by New Island Books this month. Here's another piece on New by the same writer (Megan Nolan, also an Irish author who’s just signed a big book deal, and is quite in vogue right now) explaining exactly why this sequel is something to be thrilled about and why The Butcher Boy, published in 1992, was such a turning point for Irish literature. The Big Yaroo is a roller-coaster of a read, it’s uproariously funny, terrifying and profound. As Nolan says, it reminds you of ‘the joy of McCabe’s sentences, and … how dangerous and thrilling Irish writing can be.’ Nicole Flattery called it ‘dark, irreverent, sharp and energetic—Pat McCabe’s exceptional gifts remain unparalleled’ and I’m sure there will be more rave reviews to come.

Author Simon Parkin is on a bit of a roll at present, he’s got a non-fiction title A Game of Birds and Wolves out from Sceptre this month, which is currently being turned into a film by Steven Spielberg's production company! He’s also a regular contributor to the Guardian's Long Read, a contributing writer for the New Yorker, and the game critic for the Observer. A good time therefore to flag up a new edition of his blockbusting Lorenz title, An Illustrated History of 151 Video Games (978 0754823902, £14.99, hb) which has just been published in a new and updated edition. Beginning in the early 1970s, the book charts five decades of the game evolution. The story of each game is wittily described with loads of great trivia and quotations, and fully illustrated with over 1,000 photographs, screenshots and artwork. This celebratory reference and history by the man whom the New Statesman called ‘one of the most effortlessly masterful voices in video game writing’ will enthral any video games aficionado whether they are playing as a supersonic hedgehog, athletic archaeologist or moustachioed Italian plumber!

A major serialisation of May at 10 (£25, hb, 978 1785905179) by Downing Street's official historian Anthony Seldon began this week in the Times, you can see part one and two here and there were two more big extracts also. Written by one of Britain's leading political and social commentators, May at 10 describes how Theresa arrived in 10 Downing Street in with the clearest, yet toughest, agenda of any Prime Minister since the Second World War: delivering Brexit. What follows defies belief or historical precedent. Including a comprehensive series of interviews with May's closest aides and allies, and with unparalleled access to the advisers who shaped her premiership, Seldon decodes the enigma of the Prime Minister's tenure. Here’s a review in the Guardian entitled ‘Theresa May inflexible, introverted and surly, biography claims’ and also one in the Times saying ‘Readers of his 640-page account of May’s neuralgic time at the top may feel less indulgent to this brine-washed limpet of a prime minister, as incurious and foggy a figure as ever led this country.’

Lots of chat on social media this week about Labour’s crusade against ‘the elite’ with questions about who exactly ‘the elite’ are and whether they are necessarily bad! Plenty of reference was made to BBC Two's recent How to Break into the Elite documentary (available on the iPlayer here ) where Amol Rajan looked at how much class matters in Britain's top professions. It featured Daniel Laurison and Sam Friedman, authors of The Class Ceiling. Sam was described by Amol as ‘the Don when it come to the link between class and top jobs’ and discussing his research into social mobility, he reveals stats that are both shocking and depressing. The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged (978 1447336105, £9.99, pb) is published by Policy Press and the paperback of is coming inJanuary.

Exciting to see so many Compass publishers on the Saltire Awards shortlists this year! 404 Ink, winners of the Emerging Publisher Award in 2017 are shortlisted for the prestigious Publisher of the Year Award a Jane Haining’s A Life of Love and Courage is up for The Saltire Society Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award and First Among Equals for The Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year Award, both are published by Birlinn. Scotland, 1846: Living an Antislavery Life from Edinburgh University Press is also shortlisted for the Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year. Polygon New Poets: Iona Lee is shortlisted for the Calum Macdonald Memorial Award and Roseanne Watt's Shetlandic/English collection Moder Dy, also published by Polygon, is on the on the Poetry Award shortlist. The winner of each book award receives a cash prize of £2,000 and goes on to be considered for the top prize of Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, receiving a further £5,000.The winners of all eleven prizes will be announced at a ceremony in Edinburgh on Saturday 30 November.

Congrats to the wonderful City Books in Hove who won last week’s giveaway, a copy of Thunderbook: The World of Bond According to Smersh Pod (hb, £16.99, 978 0957507623) is now on its way to you! The Bond films have entertained annoyed, excited, bored, aroused and invigorated cinemagoers for more than fifty years. Who hasn't wanted to kick a big bloke with metal teeth in the groin? Fly a small plane out of a pretend horse's bottom? Or push a middle-aged man into space? No one, that's who. Thunderbook affectionately examines Bond with tongue firmly in cheek and elbow dug in ribs. Join John Rain as he goes film-by-film pointing out all the good, the bad, and the double-taking pigeons contained within Bond's half-century of world domination. It’s out from Polaris on 7 November.

And if you want to text yourself on your Bond knowledge – then why not try this quiz from the website!

Here to Stay, Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology (£17.99, pb, 978 0745339757) which has just been published by Pluto was extracted in Ceasefire magazine, you can read that one here and there’s a brilliant interview which you can watch on YouTube here with one of its authors Leila Howe talking about the book and also discussing racist and sexist abuse against Dianne Abbott, FBI infiltration of Black Panther-inspired groups, the knife crime epidemic in London and the difference between the activism of the previous generations and the activism today. Fascinating stuff. Here to Stay, Here to Fight, is the first book-length anthology of its kind, providing an overview of Race Today's 15-year history, as well as exploring its impressive legacy in contemporary social movements.

A brilliant review for David Constantine's collection The Dressing-Up Box (hb, £14.99, 978 1912697212) in the Guardian this week here calling it an ‘intelligent, unshowy and often moving collection.’ David also wrote a piece for Big Issue North this week, about his work with the homeless in the 1960s, and how it inspired him to tell the truth about people through his stories. The characters in The Dressing Up Box are all in pursuit of sanctuary; the violence and mendacity of the outside world presses in from all sides be it the ritualised brutality suffered by children at a Catholic orphanage, or the harrowing videos shared among refugees of an atrocity 'back home'. In each case, the characters withdraw into themselves, sometimes abandoning language altogether, until something breaks and they can retreat no further. In Constantine's luminous prose, these stories capture such moments in all their clarity. It was published by Comma in September.

Lots of PR for First Aid for Your Child’s Mind (£12.99, pb, 978 1788601177). There will be a feature in Families Nationwide magazine, Jan/Feb 20, a review in Families SE, Jan/Feb 20, a double page interview in The Weekly News, a 500 word feature in Toddle About entitled  'Practical Techniques and Words to Manage Children's Worries', and a feature in the Spring 2020 issue of Country Child magazine. Alicia Eaton is a Harley Street practitioner with over fifteen years’ experience of helping children to feel more confident and as Elaine Halligan (Director of The Parent Practice) says, ‘This book will come as a huge relief to so many parents by helping them understand that much anxiety is actually part of everyday childhood worries and doesn’t need to be catastrophised.’

A great piece about Secret Alliances: Special Operations and Intelligence in Norway 1940-1945 (978 1785904776, £25, hb) in the Times this week. Secret Alliances is published by Biteback next week, and is an extraordinary book in which historian Tony Insall reveals how some of the most striking achievements of the Norwegian resistance were the detailed reports produced by intelligence agents living in the dangerous conditions of the country's desolate wilderness. Offering dramatic details on operations such as the Nazis plans to build an atomic bomb and the sinking of the Tirpitz in November 1944, Secret Alliances is an authoritative new perspective on some of the most remarkable exploits of the Second World War.
You can read an excerpt from Resist (£14.99, hb, 978 1912697076) from Comma’s collection of British protest history inspired stories, on the Minor Literatures website here. The Done Thing by Luan Goldie is based on the Ford Dagenham Women's Strike of 1968. At a time that feels unprecedented in British politics, with unlawful prorogations of parliament, casual race-baiting by senior politicians, and a climate crisis that continues to be ignored it's easy to think these are uncharted waters for us, as a democracy. But Britain has seen political crises and far-right extremism before, just as it has witnessed regressive, heavy-handed governments. Eventually, people have called it out, stood up, resisted and in this new collection spanning two millennia of British protest, authors, historians and activists re-imagine twenty acts of defiance.

A full spread feature for Yorkshire Coast Path by Andrew Vine (pb, £14.99, 978 0993291180) in the November issue of Yorkshire Life, which has a circulation of 12,000. You can see the online version here and admire some of the gorgeous pics from this terrific book! This definitive walking guide maps the whole route on large-scale OS maps and is packed with colour photos, making it an essential purchase for the long-distance walker and afternoon stroller alike. It’s published by Safe Haven.

Super piece in the Guardian here about how Brian May found the two missing cards needed to complete the new edition of Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell (£60, hb, 978 1999667436). which has just been published by London Stereoscopic. The tale of how for nearly 30 years, May has attempted to collect all 182 of the 19th-century French stereoscopic photography cards featuring scenes such as The Infernal Cavalry, Satan the Journalist and Bicycle Race in Hell is a fascinating one.

Now that Halloween is over and the ghouls and ghosties are back in their coffins, I enjoyed this deliciously scary read in the Guardian about which books frighten the bejezus out of horror authors!

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's James Corden talking to Kanye West in a special ‘Airpool Karaoke’, here's the BBC on the correct etiquette for asking for a celeb selfie, (as Dame Emma Thompson is said to have been horrified to learn a waiter lost his job for asking for one with her) and here's a trailer for series three of The Crown which is starting on 17 November – I can’t wait! That’s all 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