Friday 17 January 2020

Compass Points 333

Celia Gaze has been on BBC Breakfast this week (13 January) discussing Why Put a Bow Tie on a Llama? How a Crazy Idea Can Change Your Life and Transform Your Business (pb, £12.99, 978 1788601245) which has just been published by Practical Inspiration. You can watch that interview here. Stressed and unhappy, Celia resigned from her high-powered health management role and started transforming a neglected farm into an award-winning wedding venue. You only get one chance at life so don’t waste it, is the message of this book which shows you how to be brave and follow your passion. And it’s had loads of publicity; as well as BBC Breakfast, there was a double page spread in the Sunday Express (12th Jan), a three page feature in the January 2020 issue of The Lady magazine ‘How Llamas Saved My Sanity’, an article in the Huffington Post, a four page feature in the northern edition of the Metro and the coverage still to come includes features in Psychologies, Wedding Ideas, County Wedding, Bespoke Bride, Farm Diversity and Hitched magazine. There’s a short film of Celia talking about her book on her website at

Who saw this article in the Mail this week about what we’ll be eating if Armageddon strikes? According to this expert, the ‘nuclear apocalypse diet’ which could save humanity will be mushrooms and seaweed because they are the only crops that will survive. What good fortune then that Lorenz have the two top books on the subject, The Mushroom Cookbook (978 0754832867, £15, hb) and The Seaweed Cookbook (978 0754832874, hb £15)

Plenty of media interest for Conor McGregor’s comeback fight this weekend, click here for all you need to know as he make his much-anticipated return to the octagon in Las Vegas when he fights Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone. The Independent are running an extract of De Coubertin’s Chaos is a Friend of Mine (978 1909245907, £14.99, pb) and CNN will be featuring it too. This biography by Ewan MacKenna is a full exploration of McGregor's journey, from his upbringing in the Irish capital, to his early days as a wide-eyed, prodigiously talented martial arts obsessive, to his recent antics outside the ring which have seem him grow bigger than the sport itself.

Good reviews continue to come in for Seats of London (£12.99, pb, 978 1916045316), most recently in the Journal of the 20th Century Society. Here is an absolutely fascinating five-minute film made by its author Andrew Martin, in conjunction with the London Transport Museum, that tells you everything you could want to know about moquette. Genuinely interesting and as the comments say (31,500 views so far) it really makes you want to buy the book and find out more!

Former air stewardess from Ware, Herts Jackie Ladbury has her first book The Potters Daughter (pb, £7.99, 978 1912550234) published by Choc Lit this month and it’s set in Stoke-on-Trent in the heart of the Potteries where she was born. This refreshing and engaging historical romance transports the reader back to the Potteries in 1902, where the difference between the lifestyles of the haves and have-nots are clear for all to see… Female First have featured an article by Jackie all about the book and her writing style this week, you can see that here. There’s plenty of confirmed local publicity for this one too with Herts Life featuring it on their Bookshelves page, Axis magazine covering it in February and the Stoke Sentinel, will feature it next month. The first five booksellers to email with Potter Please in the subject line and their bookshop name and address will win a reading copy!

You may have seen yesterday that submissions for the BBC National Short Story Award 2020 opened, and the judges were announced. It is the 15th anniversary of the prize this year, and Comma are delighted to once again be publishing the anthology in September.If you fancy the £15,000 prize then you can find out how to enter here.

Private Eye mentioned Deception in High Places: A History of Bribery in Britain's Arms Trade this week, which reveals the corruption endemic in Britain’s biggest arms deals over the last fifty years. Based on painstaking research in government archives, collections of private and court papers and documents won by the author in a landmark Freedom of Information Tribunal against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the book illuminates a shadow world of bribery and elite enrichment. The Guardian called it ‘a remarkable book that exposes the trickery, humbug, buck-passing, and cover-ups, by successive British governments as they turned a blind eye, and even encouraged, the payment of bribes to secure British arms contracts.’ It’s published by Pluto.

Northern Soul reviewed Comma’s Resist (978-1912697076, £14.99, hb) last week, calling it a 'powerful collection', that’s here. This title has already been hailed as one of Waterstones' ‘Best of 2019’, one of '30 books for autumn 2019' at iNews and one of the '11 best fiction and feminist reads' at Stylist magazine and I’m sure there are plenty more sales to be had before it’s published in paperback in May.

Anyone looking for help to build their brand in 2020 need look no further than Hype Yourself (978 1788601238. £14.99, pb) by Lucy Werner This invaluable toolkit is crammed full of insider advice, includes expert tips from journalists and industry specialists and is supported by a stack of online resources. Lucy took part in a discussion on Badass Women’s Hour on Talk Radio (5/1/20), it was featured in Stylist magazine ’11 books to help kick start your career in 2020’ and there was a recent piece in Courier magazine, reporting on modern business and start up culture. Hype Yourself hit Number 1 in Amazon Hot New Releases in Public Relations, and in fact became the cover pic for Public Relations! There’s lots more to come with a feature in the February issue of Absolutely Mama, and a tonne of scheduled guest blogs, interview Q&A’s and pre-recorded podcast slots!

Carcanet have a Poem of the Week in The Guardian this week, which you can read here. It’s Ghazal: Myself by Marilyn Hacker from her book Blazons: New and Selected Poems, 2000-2018. (978 1784107154, £14.99, pb) which the Guardian calls ‘a beautiful and resonant collection.’ It gathers work from the past fifteen years, mixing politics with narrative poetry and humour, as well as translations from the French and Arabic. This multiple award-winning American poet is the author of thirteen collections, and these poems explore Paris, language, refugees and revolution.

Ongoing publicity for JJ Bola’s Mask Off: Masculinity Redefined (£9.99, pb, 978 0745338743) includes an article for the Guardian, which you can read here, a mention in Creative Review of the striking jacket here and a piece in the Hackney Gazette, that’s here. It’s published by Pluto.

A great endorsement for Europa28 (£12.99, pb, 978 1912697298) which is published by Comma in March from Elif Shafak saying ‘Inspiring, essential, honest and deeply humane... This brilliant collection takes readers on a brave journey into our beloved continent, Europe, daring to tell the stories beyond its centres of power and privilege.’ This anthology brings together twenty-eight acclaimed women writers, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs from across the continent to offer new perspectives on the future of Europe, and how it might be rebuilt.

Quiz time: can you match the pseudonym to the author here?

And finally, have a look at this brilliant alternative to boring old January gym routines! Great stuff and with a banging soundtrack too! It reminds me to remind you that cycling is not just a summer thing – Bikepacking (pb, £16.99, 978 1910636084) from Wild Things has loads of great winter rides and off-road adventures on some of Britain s most beautiful hidden trails and ancient trackways. From easy city-escapes with the family to epic trails in the Scottish Highlands, this ultimate adventure guide is filled with inspiring stories and packed with tips on kit, planning, camping and route-finding. All routes can be reached by train and are accompanied by downloadable maps and GPX files.

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's actor Laurence Fox getting into hot water on last night’s Question Time over whether the criticism of Megan is racist. Talking of racist, here's some shocking new evidence as why Stormzy may be Britain’s most dangerous racist. And as Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg head to Switzerland for a climate crisis showdown here's what Greta’s parents are getting up to while she’s away!

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

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