January 2009 Newsletter

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January's News from Bookbag Towers

Before we begin, if there's anything you'd like to tell us, or anything you think we've left out, please drop us a line and let us know.

Hello! Happy 2009! The wider world isn't looking too great, is it? Fighting in the Middle East, a global banking collapse and disappearing jobs on the home front. Things have been better. However, there's always an escape route you know, and that's curling up with a good book or two, or if you're a Bookbag reviewer, a good book or a dozen. There's some wonderful stuff out at the moment and our round-up this month should give you some idea for your own personal antidote to all the doom and gloom.

We've also been busy! It's always been our intention to broaden what we offer, but always without losing sight of the fact that the site is, and should be, all about the books. We don't think you want bells and whistles; we think you want ideas for books to read that will suit you. Finally, we think we have found a solution - our new Features section. It will gather together everything on the site that isn't a review and it will also include some new things, namely interviews and articles. Do investigate - there are top ten lists, old newsletters and all sorts of other gems. Highlights for January include interviews with Linda Gillard and Joe Dunthorne and Keith's explanation on Why Bookbag Uses A Wiki.

But enough of my rambling! Here's our round-up of the best of this month's books...

What we've been reading...

In fiction, Eileen loved By George by Wesley Stace, wearing its research lightly, this book is an entertaining, often funny and genuinely moving story about a family working in vaudeville and variety in Britain from the 1930s up to and after World War II. Jill recommends The Hidden by Tobias Hill, a haunting look at the need to belong, the fragile nature of secrets, and the relationship between past history and modern conflict. It's utterly absorbing and beautifully written. Thriller fans should look at Burial by Neil Cross. When a celebrity party turns lethal the fallout carries on over the decades in a superlative book that reads like a gem. John heartily recommends it. Sue's raving about Cold in Hand by John Harvey. After a decade away Resnick returns in a gripping, atmospheric story which looks at gun running, people trafficking and prostitution. The plot is complex but not convoluted and it's a superb read.

In non-fiction, Sue found Cleaning Up: How I Gave Up Drinking And Lived by Tania Glyde inspiring. A life of alcohol and drugs hitting the stone wall of a selfish society makes the book unputdownable. Sue II thought Another Alice by Alice Peterson was a vivid and often moving portrayal of a young and promising tennis star, suddenly struck down by rheumatoid arthritis. Chris thoroughly enjoyed The Wonga Coup by Adam Roberts, a rollicking review of Simon Mann's outlandish coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea. For science fans, John recommends Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins by Adrian Desmond and James Moore, celebrating the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species.

In children's books, and for the younger ones, Keith fell in love with The Dudgeon is Coming by Lynley Dodd, another classic from the author of Hairy Maclary. The Dudgeon is coming, and he's shy and polite. Try telling that to the taffeta cat, hopalong snoot, and all their friends, who work themselves up into a frenzy, because the Dudgeon sounds scary. John thinks the time-bending adventure story Frozen In Time by Ali Sparkes is just marvellous for tweens and early teens. Jill was impressed by the tension in Blade: Breaking Free by Tim Bowler and also recommends Bedlam by Ally Kennen - black humour, teen angst and family crisis combine with an issue-based thriller to make it a must-read novel for early 2009. Older readers will love Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye by Alison Goodman, a completely gorgeous fantasy set in an ancient Oriental world, drawing on Chines myths and tradition. Complex, vivid, and with themes of difference, it's a classy, classy read.

Reviewers

We're always on the look out for people to join our panel of reviewers at Bookbag. We need people who understand that the reader wants to know what the reviewer thinks about the book and not just what's written on the back cover. If you think that you're one of these special people that we're looking for, we want to hear from you. You can find details of how to apply here on the site. Don't be shy!

Competitions

We have competitions for some great books going this month, and every month, so get entering!

And that's about it for this month. All that remains is to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. May Santa bring you at least one of the books you are longing to read!

If you're passing Bookbag Towers do pop in and see us – we're at www.thebookbag.co.uk.

All at Bookbag Towers

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