March 2011 Newsletter

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March's News from Bookbag Towers

Greetings, fellow booklings. How goes your literary life at the moment? Our cup is overflowing with the great fortune of good books and we've chosen our favourites for March in the Book of the Month section below. Sue has been allowed to take a break from reading, but only so that she could attend an event for, you guessed it, book bloggers. We can't just let her out willy nilly you know - what if she didn't come back? Anyway, a great time was had by all and you can read about it at the Guardian's book blog here, courtesy of the charming Chris Cleaves.

We've also been beavering about making improvements to the site. The latest addition is the facility to embed videos, so if a book has a trailer or the author's been interviewed about it, you can watch it right from the review page. Cool, huh?

Features

Here at Bookbag Towers we were converted to our Kindles with almost indecent haste, but in our author article this month, debut novelist Kate Lord Brown tells us why she thinks that there are a few points we should consider before giving up on books completely. We think she makes a good argument.

We've also been chasing authors down and interviewing them without mercy!

We're great admirers of Giles Milton. He writes great fiction, wonderful children's books and we've just enjoyed his latest history book. The chance to talk to him was just too good to miss. We loved Alma Katsu's novel The Taker and couldn't resist the opportunity to ask her how she produced something quite so stunning. And of course, we also loved The Demon Collector by Jon Mayhew, his follow-up to Mortlock, so we couldn't resist the opportunity to ask him some questions either. And if that wasn't enough, we have also talked to Harry Leslie Smith about the remarkable first volume of his autobiography 1923: A Memoir, to Michael Dillon about the unusual plot and pace in The Cuckoo Parchment and the Dyke, and to Judy Bartkowiak about her life as an NLP master practioner and author.

Golden Hour

We've chosen a twentieth century classic for you this month: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. The devil visits Stalin's Moscow - and mayhem ensues in this unique combination of a love story, vicious satire, philosophical treaty, fantasy, horror and re-telling of the Christian gospel story. Strongly influenced by the Faust legend, it's probably the most important satire of the Soviet era. We wholeheartedly recommend it to anybody who can cope with several interwoven stories and a quite serious helping of fantasy and the grotesque.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new...

In fiction, Luci has chosen Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, the story of a teenage alligator wrestler and her family in a failing Florida theme park. Yep! You read that right! How could anyone resist a premise such as that? Luci certainly couldn't. This is Karen Russell's first novel, and beautifully written and very witty, yet often extremely sad too.

In non-fiction, Robert was impressed by Pirates of Barbary. In the early 17th century the North African coast was a particularly dangerous place to sail near due to the prevalence of pirates there ready to plunder the cargo of ships. In this truly captivating account author Adrian Tinnisworth looks at these corsairs – focusing on Englishmen such as John Ward, who became so renowned that plays about him and Dutchman Simon Danseker managed to outsell King Lear!

There's some wonderful stuff around in the YA market at the moment and we simply couldn't choose just one. Firstly, Linda recommends Wreckers by Julie Hearn - a dramatic and thrilling tale, bringing old myths into a near-contemporary setting. Dreadful and wonderful things happen when Pandora's Box is opened for the second time. Secondly, Jill fell in love with Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, a super-duper post-apocalyptic zombie novel in the style of a revenge Western. It's tense and exciting, full of action, and has a great cast of characters. It ticked all Jill boxes and she absolutely loved it.

For the younger ones,

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. 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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