Friday, 16 March 2018

Compass Points 253

101 Rums to Try Before You Die (hb, £12.99, 978 1780275444) was recently featured in the Bookseller’s preview of important titles coming up in June – and is definitely one to look out for from Birlinn. Rum, once the poor relation of the spirit world, has recently undergone a revival and is no longer seen just as the preferred tipple for tipsy pirates. According to the latest figures, gin has 11.1% of the sales in the spirits market and rum is hot on its heels at 10.1% - up a whopping 8% in the last three years. See the chart below for the full figures. The artisan craft drinks movement and the rise of the rum cocktails are two current trends which have contributing greatly in the growth and development of the rum market. Ian Buxton, the UK's No.1 bestselling author on spirits (and author of course of the massive success story that is 101 Gins (£12,99, hb, 978 1780272993)); takes us on a tour of the different colours, flavours, creation methods and characteristics, making this is the only book on rum you will ever need!

Well, if we’re going to mention tipsy pirates then of course we absolutely need to have a watch of this 2018 remix of the classic (28,000,000 views and rising) Why is the Rum Gone? Why indeed!

The British Book Awards are out, and hearty congratulations to three of our publishers - Emerald Publishing, Kogan Page and Edinburgh University Press who are all on the shortlist for the Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year. As the Bookseller writes: “from an unprecedented 466 entries; from the best indies to giants of global publishing and from debut authors to Nobel winners; the Nibbies are the ultimate celebration of this greatest of creative industries.” The awards are announced at a dinner on 14 May and you can view the full shortlist here. Good luck guys!

We talked about Lily Bailey’s compelling Because We Are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought (978 0993040740, £7.99, pb) published by Canbury Press last week, and you can now listen to her interview on Woman’s Hour this week here with a shorter clip here.

The Russian spy story gets ever more complex and frightening with the Head of Nato Jens Stoltenberg telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning that the incident was part of a "pattern of reckless behaviour" from Russia following allegations of cyber-attacks and election meddling in recent years. "It is important that Russia gets a clear signal that it costs to behave the way they behave," Mr Stoltenberg said. Here are four titles you absolutely must have on display right now which delve much further into this issue. Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Power (£9.99, pb, 978 1908096234) by Yuri Felshtinsky and Alexander Litvinenko – generally regarded as the book which got him killed and the only title by Litvinenko himself. The Putin Corporation: How to Poison Elections (978 1908096258 £9.99 pb) by Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky which is also from Gibson Square and came out last month. This one is a highly topical insight into Putin's handling of elections – including the 2018 Russian presidential elections, the Trump election and the Brexit referendum. Vladimir Pribylovsky died under suspicious circumstances in 2016 (the third of Felshtinsky's collaborators to die after Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Berezovksky) and this title describes in gripping detail Vladimir Putin’s ruthless modus operandi in Russia. The Times called it “required reading” and the Observer said it was “compelling… a clear and accurate picture… the strength of this book is research.” Another essential is Inside Russian Politics (£12.99, pb, 9781785902314) which is published by Biteback. This is an intelligent and engaging account of the realities of contemporary Russian politics which presents Russia on its own terms rather than through the standard prism of comparison with the West. Edwin Bacon moves on from cliché and misleading historical analogy, aiming to widen the readers view of Russia beyond the standard account resurgent authoritarian menace. This concise and accessible guide is part of Biteback’s Inside Global Politics series which aims to fill a gap for accurate, enlightening, intelligent analysis; avoiding both the subjectivity of journalistic accounts and the nuts-and-bolts coverage of textbooks. And finally, also from Biteback is Orders To Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murders (978 1785903595, hb, £20) a story long hidden in plain sight with huge relevance to unfolding events. Putin’s critics have turned up dead on a regular basis and according to Amy Knight, this is no coincidence. In Orders to Kill, the KGB scholar ties dozens of victims together to expose a campaign of political murder during Putin’s reign that even includes terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing. As the Economist said “This incisive, deeply researched account of the Kremlin's murderous dark arts should be an electrifying wake-up call to the West about the danger we face from Putin's gangster state.”

If you prefer your spies to stay purely fictional, then I would recommend South Atlantic Requiem by Edward Wilson (978 1911350316, £14.99, hb) which has just been published by Arcadia. The Morning Star said of it “Well, he’s certainly done it again; Edward Wilson has breathed new life into his leftist British spook, William Catesby.” And there was a feature Crime which you can read here entitled “Writers of Crime and Spy Fiction Should Stand Up for What They Believe”. The Socialist party website also reviewed it well saying “This is socialist author Edward Wilson's seventh novel and does not disappoint. In some respects, it is his most gripping from beginning to end… It's another really enjoyable read from Wilson, again affirming him as a socialist John le Carré. By the end of it Catesby has turned 90 - hopefully not too old to embark on further adventures.” You can find that one here. There will be a launch event with Edward Wilson in conversation with Stephen Gale at Hatchards next Tuesday, as well as several events in Suffolk and there are more reviews to come. If you haven’t discovered these high-calibre Catesby novels from Edward Wilson yet, they come highly recommended – “not to be missed” said the Independent.

A feature in the Western Morning News this coming weekend or next for Paulette (£8.99, pb, 978 1911293163) which is published by Impress this month. Paulette is a tale of two languages and two cultures, overshadowed by two world wars, political activism and mental illness and is based on the true and colourful story of Paulette Tourdes who was born in a village in south-west Auvergne, told by the eldest of her children, Martin Sorrell. It examines what it means to leave your homeland and to embrace another and, for the children, the challenges of growing up bilingual. Sometimes funny, parfois triste, this is a story that explores the strong bonds between the two countries from a deeply personal level.

There was a terrific piece on Charlie CraggsTo My Trans Sisters (£12.99, pb, 978 1785923432) in Women’s Health magazine this week with an interview with Charlie and a good plug for the book which is published by Jessica Kingsley. Below is the article in full – it’s very illuminating and moving article on the subject of gender dysphoria.  

Excellent endorsements are coming in for Leila Aboulela’s Elsewhere, Home (£8.99, pb, 978 1846592119) which is published by Telegram in July. The Telegraph said previously “Aboulela is the kind of writer from whom British people need to hear” and this new title looks like a real winner. From the heat of Khartoum at the height of summer to the wintery streets of London, from the concrete high rises in the Gulf to the blustery coast in Aberdeen; this elegant and moving collection of stories vividly evokes the overlapping worlds of Africa, Britain and the Middle East. Beautifully observed and written with empathy, Leila Aboulela's stories deftly capture the search for home in our fast-changing world. “Rich and poignant. These beautiful tales of Khartoum, Edinburgh, London, Cairo and beyond are a delight.” said AL Kennedy “Exquisite fiction. There are gems here, elegantly cut, polished and framed. Luminous” said Fadia Faqir and Roma Tearne said the tales were “full of elegance, tenderness and the small vulnerabilities that make up our lives.”

Which intelligent/pedantic bookseller or publisher doesn’t love an epic grammar fail? Here are some of the worst/best from Buzzfeed!

Jessica Huie went from being a teenage mother who was expelled from school to having a glittering career in public relations, founding two award-winning businesses and earning an MBE from the Queen. Throughout the course of a career that has spanned more than 20 years, she has worked with some of the world's biggest stars and business people, including Simon Cowell, Samuel L. Jackson, Mariah Carey and even woman of the moment, Meghan Markle. In Purpose (978 1788170567, £12.99, pb) which is published on 28 April by Hay House, Jessica shares the lessons she learned as she went from being an individual who felt purposeless and unhappy, to someone who recognizes her complete power to design and create a successful, meaningful and limitless life. Wow – this sounds extremely compelling and an exclusive interview with Jessica will be featured in the Observer in April. Purpose will also feature in Psychologies Kindred Spirt, U Magazine, Yoga Magazine, The Best You and Country and Town House. Jessica will be speaking on the business podcast The After-Work Drinks Club as well as Talk Radio Breakfast (22.04.18), BBC Radio London (24.04.18), BBC Radio Manchester (25.04.18) and BBC World Service Outlook (25.04.18). You can find out more about this inspiring woman on her website

Who loves the Sharpe series? And any excuse to watch a bit of Sean Bean is fine by me so let’s watch him overusing a certain swear word! For those that love this era and world, The Army Rumour Service recently reviewed The Autobiography or Narrative of a Soldier: The Peninsular War Memoirs of William Brown of the 45th Foot (£16.95, 978 1911512943, hb) saying “I would suspect that fans of Bernard Cornwall’s Sharpe series might find the book a very interesting companion to their hero’s adventures. A wonderful little gem of a book.” You can read the whole piece here. William Brown’s autobiography is a unique piece of history since he is the only memoirist to have come to light from the ranks of the 45th Regiment of Foot in the Napoleonic wars – a regiment that was one of Wellington’s most valiant in that turbulent era. This title is one man's autobiography, but it's the story of many thousands of ordinary soldiers, sometimes lightened with joyous moments, but more often brought down by deprivation, bad luck and sometimes poor decisions. This lively account of a Scottish soldier is unlike many other memoirs of the period which are mostly from officers, and readers have commented how refreshing and fascinating is to see the war through the eyes of a private. It’s published by Helion.

Interesting piece in the Guardian today entitled “Gone Girl's gone, hello Eleanor Oliphant: why we're all reading 'up lit’” With Gail Honeyman and Joanna Cannon on the Women’s prize for fiction longlist, it seems that uplifting stories about kindness and community are proving a hit on the bestseller lists. You can read that piece in full here.

There’s an interview with Peter Kimani talking about his new novel the Dance of the Jakaranda (pb, £8.99, 978 1846592096); in the Financial Times this which should run in the next fortnight. Lots of other publicity too, including a Facebook live chat on the BBC World Service and confirmed reviews in TLS, New Books Magazine, Asian Review of Books, Independent Catholic News, Christian Century, InterLib, Liberator and Afrikult. You can read nice piece about this brilliant and thought-provoking title here on the Historical Novel Society website. It’s just out from Telegram.

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

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Compass Points 252

The number one news story this week is undoubtably the sensational account of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia who fell critically ill in Salisbury and who may or may not have been poisoned by the Kremlin. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it looks as if it is “another crime in the litany of crimes that we can lay at Russia’s door” and added the case had “echoes of the death of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006”. An ideal chance then, to sell some more copies (17,000 to date) of the Gibson Square exposé Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Power (£9.99, pb, 978 1908096234) by Yuri Felshtinsky and Alexander Litvinenko – generally regarded as the book which got him killed and the only title by Litvinenko himself. As Andrew Marr said, this is “a book that should contain a very serious health warning on the cover.” Alexander Litvinenko served in the Russian military for more than 20 years, was arrested and imprisoned and then escaped from Russia and lived with his family in Great Britain, where he was granted political asylum in 2001. He was murdered in 2006 in a sushi restaurant in London. Yuri Felshtinsky is the author of several books on Russia and was one of the last people to speak to Litvinenko hours before he succumbed to radioactive poisoning by Polonium 210. This bestselling book has been described as “Frightening” Sunday Telegraph “Disturbing reading” Mail on Sunday “One of the severest attacks on the present Russian leadership in print” Tribune “Iconic” “Crucially important” Sunday Times and “As vivid condemnation of the Putin regime as has yet been written” Sunday Times. This news story is clearly going to run and run. Andrei Lugovoi, one of the prime suspects in the murder of Litvinenko, has now suggested that the apparent poisoning in Salisbury is part of a British campaign to demonise Moscow – you can read that in the Guardian here, meanwhile Litvinenko’s widow says of the Skripal case that “this looks similar to how my husband died” – you can read about that in the Mail here.  Blowing Up Russia was fully updated with a new foreword in 2016,  and is available from Gibson Square now.

This is definitely one of those cases where truth is more riveting than fiction – but what do you think are the Top Ten Novels about spies? Have a look here in the Guardian! Or the top ten films about spies? That’s here.

There is some absolutely fantastic publicity coming for Lily Bailey’s memoir Because We Are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought (978 0993040740, £7.99, pb) which the Bookseller previewed as a “striking debut”, the Guardian called “extremely compelling” and is published by Canbury Press on Monday. Publisher’s Weekly wrote “London-based model and journalist Bailey offers an authentic and stunning account of her struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder in this beautifully-rendered memoir. Bailey is a vulnerable, vibrant, and courageous narrator.” Lily will be interviewed on Woman’s Hour on Tuesday, on ITV’s This Morning on Wednesday and in the Times Saturday magazine next weekend. There’s loads more too: The Jo Good Show on BBC London on14th March, Afternoon Edition on BBC Radio 5 on 21st March, The Last Word on Today FM, Ray D’Arcy on RTE, Radio 1, a feature in the April issue of Image magazine, reviews in the Spring issue of Psychologies magazine , the April issue of Glamour magazine, March Heat magazine and the Sunday Express with interest also from the Mail and the Sun – and lots online too with interviews with Lily in UNILAD, Fabulous (the Sun), Gozen Girls, Female First and more! And, what’s more it’s the Non-Fiction Book of the Week in WHS next week! So, if you haven’t already, I’d order Because We Are Bad pronto – I don’t need to tell you that mental health memoirs are having “a moment” and this intense, raw, heart-rending rollercoaster of a one of the best out there.

Big congratulations to Emerald Publishing, who yesterday won the Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year at the 2018 IPG Awards. You can see all of the winners here. Emerald Publishing was founded in 1967 to champion new ideas that would advance the research and practice of business and management. They are rightly proud of their track record in nurturing fresh thinking in areas where they feel they can make a real difference, which now includes health and social care, education and engineering. Their popular portfolio of 3,100 books is growing, and growing rapidly. More than 250 new titles each year are added – all carefully chosen to reflect the latest emerging trends from some of the leading names in their fields.

In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. When she realised that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy, she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year. The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders (hb, £15.99, 978 1401954871) which has just been published by Hay House and documents Cait's life for twelve months during which she bought only food, toiletries and petrol for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things and at every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt. Cait recently spoke on Psychologies’ Facebook live about her book – superb publicity as the Psychologies Facebook page has over a million likes!

Many will be familiar with the tomb of the Unknown Warrior which occupies an honoured place in Westminster Abbey. Fewer will be aware of the story of exactly how one of the thousands of unidentified soldiers who fell during World War One came to lie there. The Flag: The Story of Revd David Railton MC and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior (978 1612004471, £20, hb) has recently been published by Casemate. In it, Andy Richards tells the story of the man who set the world-famous commemoration in motion. Guards Magazine reviewed it this month saying “We have waited nearly a century for Reverend David Railton's story, and this book does this humble and decent man a great service. It is an extraordinary story.” Reverend David Railton served as a chaplain on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918 supporting the soldiers burying the fallen, comforting the wounded and helping the survivors. He was with his men at many battles and received the Military Cross for rescuing an officer and two men under heavy fire on the Somme. It was Railton’s idea to bring home the body of an unidentified fallen comrade from the battlefields to be buried in Westminster Abbey, and on Armistice Day 1920, his flag covered the coffin as the Unknown Warrior was laid to rest with full honours. Although suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, he returned to work as a parish priest in Margate, where he took particular interest in supporting ex-servicemen who had returned home to the aftermath of a terrible war and crippling unemployment. While the story of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior has been told before, this is the first book to explore David Railton’s life and war, and of ‘the padre’s flag’ he used as an altar cloth and shroud throughout the war. The flag was consecrated a year after the burial of the Unknown Warrior and hangs in Westminster Abbey to this day. This book explains how the idea came out of Railton's traumatic experiences on the Western front, and how he made his idea become reality, drawing on his letters and unpublished papers. There was a big feature in Britain at War magazine this week on this moving book. There will of course be much published on WWI this year, but I would urge you to make space on your shelves for this remarkable story.

Pop Quiz – which novel opens with a telephone call and the words “Remember you must die”? It is of course Memento Mori (978 1846974274, £9.99, hb) by Muriel Spark, newly published by Polygon as one of their Spark Centenary Editions. This month it is part of the Guardian Read Women season for March, which you can see here following its selection as a Guardian Book of the Month in February. Described by David Lodge as “her first masterpiece”, Memento Mori progresses with a circle of elderly men and women all receiving similar calls and soon everyone becomes a suspect. As the investigating police inspector muses: “Death, when it approaches, ought not to take one by surprise. It should be part of the full expectancy of life. Without an ever-present sense of death, life is insipid. You might as well live on the whites of eggs.” Tackling the indignities of old age, dementia and death, this novel is both profoundly compassionate and very entertaining!

Are wealthy baby boomers undermining younger generations? Or is the real enemy the politics of austerity sponsored by an elite? Biteback’s The War on the Young by John Sutherland (hb, £10, 978 1785903397) was the Guardian Book of the Day this week – you can read the whole article here. This self-described polemic is a quick and provocative read. Its central argument is that the young today have it hard, very hard, and that this is neither an unalterable fact of life nor an accident or blip: rather, the young are the victims of a concerted attack perpetrated by their elders, above all the selfish baby boomers who enjoyed goods (such as free higher education and affordable housing) that they now conspire to deny their children and grandchildren. It is a lively, timely and highly readable look at a ticking generational time-bomb.

Book bloggers are very much enjoying Alison Booth’s new novel A Perfect Marriage (£8.99, pb, 978 1910453490) which is published this month by Red Door. The Secret World of a Book Blog writes: “Powerful storytelling with a deliciously dark centre. A Perfect Marriage certainly covers a topic that needs to be spoken about a lot more, domestic violence.” Sally Lachlan has a secret that has haunted her for a decade, is it now time to let it go? A chance meeting with the charismatic geneticist, Anthony Blake, reawakens her desire for love and at the same time, her daughter, Charlie, shows signs of wishing to know more about her father. Both the past and the future are places Sally prefers not to think about but if she wants to move towards a new love, she will first have to come to terms with her long-ago marriage. 

Congratulations to Jamaican poet Lorna Goodison who has just been awarded one of the eight 2018 Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes. She will be honoured along with her fellow recipients at a ceremony and literary festival at Yale in September. The prize, which was judged anonymously over the course of the past year, includes an unrestricted grant of £119,000 and is intended to give its recipients the financial freedom to write, liberated from money worries. You can find out more in the Guardian here. Lorna Goodison: Collected Poems is published by Carcanet and resonates with a voice alert to histories and voices; how differently English sounds in the tropics and in colder lands, at seaside in sunlight and on prairies, mountains and in cities. Goodison’s instinct is to celebrate being alive in a world that is rich but in peril. “And what is the rare quality that has gone out of poetry that these marvellous poems restore?” asks Derek Walcott. “Joy.”

Online magazine Review 31 has just published a fantastic review of The Way of Florida by Russell Persson (hb, £14.99, 978 0995705203) on saying "This is English, but not as we know it. The novelist seems to have taken it back to the dawn of language, producing a newly-minted idiom that feels both antiquated and timeless." Relentless, urgent and above all musical, this expertly crafted debut novel retells the tragic story of the failed Narváez expedition to the Gulf of Mexico and is published by Little Island Press. You can read the whole review here.

Three cheers for Memphis 68: The Tragedy of Southern Soul by Stuart Cosgrove (pb, 978 1846974137, £9.99) which has just been announced as one of the seven contenders for the 2018 Penderyn Music Book Prize – the only UK-based book prize specifically for international music titles including history, theory, biography and autobiography. The shortlist also includes memoirs from musicians Peggy Seeger, Chris Difford of Squeeze, Billy Bragg and Cosey Fanni Tutti of Throbbing Gristle (a band who, I must admit, I am not familiar with); and independent publishers were behind the majority of the shortlisted books – hurrah! You can find out more about the prize here. The passionate and powerful title is published in paperback April by Polygon and the Bookseller have already tipped it as one to order in their Spring paperback preview.

International Women’s Day this week – and of course one of the things books do so well is to share experiences of what it is like to be a woman in a different world, culture or time. The Sea Cloak (978 1905583782, £9.99, pb) by Nayrouz Quarmout, is a collection of fourteen stories drawing from the author’s own experiences growing up in a Syrian refugee camp, as well as her current life in Gaza, stitching together a patchwork of different perspectives into what it means to be a woman in Palestine today. It is published in May and Comma Manager Becky Harrison previewed it thus: “Nayrouz Quarmout is a Palestinian author, journalist and women’s rights campaigner who we first published in our Book of Gaza in 2014. The Sea Cloak is her debut collection in English and the stories deftly weave the personal with the political to create a compelling portrait. We’re excited to publish Nayrouz’s full collection as she is definitely one to watch: not only are her prize-winning stories fantastic but she is a young, exciting writer whose stories offer a rare, local perspective to a city known as a global news story.”

Talking of International Women’s Day – here's an interesting piece by Annabel Abbs on why there is still a male bias in the literary media She writes: "Women buy two thirds of books. Women writers dominate the best seller lists and came out blazing in the 2016 Costa shortlists. So why doesn’t the literary media give us the editorial space we deserve?" Annabel Abbs is the author of The Joyce Girl (978 1907605871, £8.99,pb) which tells the story of Lucia Joyce, a dancer in 1920s Paris and the daughter of James Joyce. It won the 2016 Impress Prize and was a Guardian Reader Pick of the Year.

The shortlist has now been narrowed down to just three finalists in the inaugural €20,000 EBRD Literature Prize. They are All the World’s a Stage by Boris Akunin, Belladonna by Daša Drndic and Istanbul Istanbul (£8.99, pb, 978 1846592058 )by Burhan Sönmez, translated by Ümit Hussein from Turkish and published by Telegram. Chair of the judges, journalist and broadcaster Rosie Goldsmith described it as a “witty, wonderful and wise window on the world and on our flawed humanity but without leaving the prison cell.” The winner will be announced at EBRD headquarters in London on 10th April to coincide with the first day of the London Book Fair. Open to the public, it is billed as a “unique opportunity” to see all three finalist authors and translators discussing their books and the art of translation before the award is announced.” You can read more in the Bookseller here.

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

Friday, 2 March 2018

Compass Points 251

Russell Findlay spent decades taking on the most dangerous men in Scotland's criminal underworld. As the BBC remarked, he “puts his head where most journalists wouldn’t put their feet.” Two days before Christmas 2015, Findlay became the target of an unprecedented attack when William 'Basil' Burns, came to the journalist's home disguised as a postman and hurled sulphuric acid in his face. But Burns then lost control of his knife and was overpowered by Findlay who handed him over to the police. This botched hit is the starting point of Acid Attack: A Journalists War with Organised Crime (978 1780274997, £8.99, pb) in which Findlay unravels the identity of those suspected of hiring Burns, at the same time giving a unique insight into the criminal landscape of modern Scotland and explaining how journalists risk their safety to expose dangerous and depraved crime bosses. Unsurprisingly, journalists have loved this one – Russell Findlay was talking about it on Radio 5 Live and there was a great piece in Private Eye, which gives a good background to the book which you read below.. Acid Attack is shortly to be featured in Roy Greenslade’s Guardian column and Radio Clyde, the Times and the Daily Record have also picked it up. It’s published by Birlinn and you can see it here looking mightily eye-catching in Blackwell’s Oxford in a crime display entitled rather terrifyingly “Organised Crime is All Around Us”! This title is sensational – honest, horrific – and strangely, also humorous! Many have said it is un-put-downable and I think it should sell really well!

Who watches Endeavour – the prequel to Morse currently drawing in about 6 million viewers every week on ITV? Last Saturday’s episode featured Naming of Parts, by WW2 poet Henry Reed and declaimed by DI Thursday in its closing moments. This attracted no end of buzz and enthusiasm for this powerful poem over on Twitter and Facebook – with many pointing out the poem’s relevance to the current debates about gun culture in the US. Written in 1942, you can read it on the War Poets Association website here. It is published in Carcanet’s Henry Reed: Collected Poems, edited by Jon Stallworthy (£12.95, pb, 978 1857549430). Naming of Parts is easily Reed’s most famous poem – but this profound, witty and humane poet is well worth a closer look and the many other poems, translations, songs, and early fragments included in this collection should help establish him alongside the other great war poets.

The publicity campaign for Dance of the Jakaranda (pb, £8.99, 978 1846592096); the critically acclaimed historical novel set in Kenya against a backdrop of British colonisation is now in full swing! It’s published by Telegram next week and Peter Kimnani will be in the UK for a tour between 11 – 18 March with events planned at the Cambridge Centre of African Studies, Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa Studies at the LSE, SOAS in partnership with the Royal African Society, Waterstones Tottenham Court Road and Daunts Hampstead. Peter has also written a feature for the Guardian which will be published on 14th March and there are other reviews to come as well as radio interviews confirmed with the BBC World Service (13 March), Colourful Radio (15 March) and a podcast interview with English PEN World Bookshelf.

Loads more great publicity for On Her Majesty’s Nuclear Service by Eric Thompson (hb, £19.99, 978 1612005713) which has just been published by Casemate. There was an article published in War History Online which you can read here which got lots of likes and shares on Facebook; there will be three pieces coming up in Forces News in the next fortnight – entitled:  Blessed are the Peacemakers (which is about how nuclear submariners have kept us safe for 50 years with no credit), Ten Most Annoying Things That Can Happen on a Ten Week Nuclear Submarine Patrol (self-explanatory), and Pyjama Party (which is an anecdote of a submarine officer’s wife falling into the water and the farce that ensues!) Eric was on TV on Tuesday on STV’s Live at Five which you can watch here it’s about 11 minutes in. He also was a very interesting guest on Talk Radio Europe which is here – about 30 mins in.

The popular Delicious Magazine podcast includes a great plug for the fabulous Valentina Harris’s Italian Regional Cookbook. She is interviewed at length and they discuss her role as the Face of the Delicious Produce Awards as well as plenty of mentions of her "beautiful encyclopaedic book". The Italian Regional Cookbook (978-0754832409, hb, £25) is a truly magnificent culinary tour of Italy in 325 recipes and 1500 colour photographs – it came out from Lorenz last Autumn. You can listen to the Delicious podcast here – she’s about 8 minutes in.

Born in what is now Ukraine to Polish parents, naturalised as British, and schooled on the high seas of international commerce, Joseph Conrad was a true citizen of the world. His novels bore witness to the dehumanising repercussions of empire, explored how state-sponsored terrorism could ruin individuals' lives, and pioneered complex structures in what was to become the first wave of literary modernism. To mark his 160th birthday, fourteen authors and critics have come together to celebrate his legacy with new pieces of fiction and non-fiction in Conradology (£9.99, pb, 978 1910974339) which was published by Comma at the end of last year.  It’s had some terrific reviews recently; the Glasgow Review of Books said "It is noteworthy to point out six authors are female. Joseph Conrad’s portrayal of female characters as inferior and of lesser narrative importance is notorious in his work. Thus, the editors should be applauded by their selection of female authors and work that puts the women at the centre of their narratives." That review is here.  Bookmunch said “Conradology should be praised for bringing it into the literature, and politics, of the twenty-first century;” that’s here,  and Storgy called it an “excellent collection, well edited... a vital companion to Conrad for his many fans" – that’s here. Conrad felt that the writer's task was to offer 'that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.” In an age of increasing isolationism, these celebrations remind you of the value of such glimpses.

Hands up who thinks they’d work better and harder if they were paid more? Not necessarily, say authors Stefan Stern and Cary Cooper, and in fact thinking that money is the best motivator for your staff is one of the many Myths of Management (£14.99, pb, 978 0749480233) An extract from this compelling and practical guide has just been published on the Telegraph website – which you can read here. The world of management is blighted by fads, fiction and falsehoods and this title is a highly entertaining journey through the most famous myths surrounding the much-written about topic. Fascinating insights from psychology, leadership theory and organizational behaviour show you how to avoid falling into the traps of cliché and misinformation and it’s packed with authentic insights drawn from extensive research and real-world business examples which give you all the essential knowledge you need to become a better boss! It’s published by Kogan Page.

Helen E. Lees, author of Education Without Schools (hb, 978 1 4473 0641 2, £70) was on Woman's Hour this week joining a conversation about the value of home education. You can listen to that here.  This topical and perceptive book challenges current policy relating to educational options and opens up the debate around what is a valid education in today’s world. It highlights the lack of governmental interest in alternative education and also considers the human rights issues, the relationship of the state to education and parental education choice. Professor Michael J Reiss from the Institute of Education said: “Home schooling is under-researched and often misunderstood. Helen Lees' excellent book goes a long way to remedying this. It combines insightful empirical work with rigorous conceptual analysis. It makes a major contribution to defining the field.” I appreciate that a £70 hardback is not for every bookshop – but for parents who are already home educating or interested in alternative options to state schooling, plus trainee teachers and policy makers this is a vital and original resource. It’s published by Policy Press.

Misery Lit. Much derided – terrifically popular. Author Lyn G Farrell has written a sensitive and thoughtful article on that very topic, this month for the online mag Mslexia. She believes that it really doesn’t deserve its rather prurient and low-brow reputation, and in fact a “misery lit” story can genuinely help the survivors of trauma. Lyn’s gripping debut novel, The Wacky Man (978 1785079559, £8.99, pb) won the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary Award and is published by Legend. It tells the story of Amanda, a damaged and desolate 15-year-old who has secluded herself in her bedroom, no longer willing to face the outside world. Gradually, she pieces together the story of her life: her brothers have had to abandon her, her mother scarcely talks to her, and the Wacky Man could return any day to burn the house down. Just like he promised. As her family disintegrates, Amanda hopes for a better future, a way out from the violence and fear that has consumed her childhood. But can she cling to her sanity, before insanity itself is her only means of escape? The Daily Mail called this “An astonishing tour de force” and Clio Grey called it “harrowing, unsettling, but brilliant from the first page. My book of the year.” The word of mouth and reviews for this title are five-star and it seems as if Lyn is definitely onto something in terms of the value of the “misery lit” genre, with readers typically saying that Wacky Man was “an incredible, disturbing, important book that drew me in and made me consider the wide ranging consequences of abuse.”

God's vengeance on the wicked city of Sodom is a perennial source of fascination and horror. Award-winning author Michael Arditti's passionate and enthralling new novel Of Men and Angels explores the enduring power of the myth in five momentous epochs. From a mystery play of Lot's Wife in medieval York; to Botticelli painting the Destruction of Sodom in Renaissance Florence to a closeted gay movie star starring a controversial biblical epic in 1980s Hollywood; this novel is both formally inventive and imaginatively rich. Abounding in characters as vivid as they are varied, from temple prostitutes to fanatical friars, Bedouin tribesmen, Russian exiles and even angels, this is a novel of breathtaking scope and profound human sympathy. It is published by Arcadia on 22 March, and reviews are confirmed around that time in the Daily Mail, Attitude and the TLS. The Spectator called Arditti a “Graham Greene for our time” and the Times said that “anyone who is afraid that the English novel is sliding into a backwater of domestic anecdote should find their anxieties assuaged by the writing of Michael Arditti – this novel is bound to attract critical attention.

Red Door are looking for book bloggers to take part in the book blog tour for Andrew Marshall's new memoir The Power of Dog: How A Puppy Helped Heal a Grieving Heart which will be published this summer – go to the Red Door twitter feed for details. This title follows Andrew’s previous book My Mourning Year: A Memoir of Bereavement, Discovery and Hope (£9.99, pb, 978 1910453315) which was a is a frank and unflinching account of one man's life for a year after the death of his lover. In turn heartbreaking, frustrating and even sweetly funny, this is not a step-by-step guide to dealing with bereavement but a shoulder to lean on when facing the unknowns of death and a resource for those left behind. The Guardian called it “wonderfully comforting.” Andrew Marshall has written seventeen self-help books – including the international best-seller I Love You But I’m Not in Love With You.

This truly is a time of renewed interest in the short story form, so it is the perfect time for Little Island Press to re-issue Jason Schwartz’s A German Picturesque (£12.99, hb, 978 099570523) which was first published in the US in 1998. Schwartz was once a protégé of Raymond Carver’s editor Gordon Lish, and there are signs of that influence in the taut minimalism of his prose. There’s just been a superb review for it in this week's Times Literary Supplement which you can read here. The New York Times said of it that “unlike much so-called experimental fiction, Schwartz's work contains genuine passion and invention and an enormous appetite for challenging himself and his audience." Publishers Weekly said that “reading the 21 rune-like stories that comprise Schwartz's debut collection is a bit like eavesdropping: you may not follow the conversation, but you'll certainly overhear something interesting.”

Good coverage for Ten Years in the Death of the Labour Party (£12.99, pb, 978 1785902239) by ex-Labour MP Tom Harris which was published yesterday by Biteback. There’s a serialisation in the Telegraph this week, plus Tom joined the Daily Politics show on BBC2 to discuss Labour’s future. From Gordon Brown’s momentous decision not to call an election in 2007; Ed Miliband’s crushing defeat in 2015 and the continued rise of Corbynmania; Tom examines the seismic events in Labour’s recent history and the decisions that have shaped its fortunes. He wonders how long can the uneasy peace between moderate, anti-Corbyn MPs and the leader's loyal grassroots activists last? Does Corbyn's victory give cause for celebration? Or is the Labour Party, as generations of voters have known it, finally coming to an end? More publicity on this one to come!

Sarah is just like any other urbane young woman in her twenties. She has a job in a Central London hotel, a boyfriend, commutes to work on the Tube, eats out, goes to films and theatre. This is all the more remarkable (though not to her) because Sarah was born with Down’s Syndrome. It came as a huge shock to her parents when they had a daughter with a disability and 1999 her father Andy Merriman wrote a frank and moving book, A Minor Adjustment, about the challenge of her early years. The national publicity it gained saw it become a treasured resource for other families on a similar journey. On 28 March, Safe Haven bring out the follow-up, telling how Sarah Merriman, whose favourite expression is ‘I love my life’, has grown up. A Major Adjustment: How a Remarkable Child Became a Remarkable Adult (pb, £9.99, 978 0993291142) is an important and inspirational book, published a time when pre-natal testing is threatening the very existence of people with Down’s syndrome. Sarah’s even written the final chapter herself – and both she and Andy are appearing on ITV's Loose Women on 21 March which is absolutely perfect publicity for this title! Andy will also be talking about the book on Talk Radio Europe and BBC Radio Suffolk during March and his original radio drama series about Down's Syndrome (also entitled A Minor Adjustment) is scheduled to be re-run on Radio 4 Extra at the beginning of May.

The Beast from the East – a great excuse not to go work or a right pain in the bum? Whether you’ve been channelling your inner Elsa or stomping around like the Grinch, we can probably all agree that it’s the most ludicrous name for a weather system ever. Go to the blog to see pics of traffic jams in the south west, the frozen sea round the Isle of Wight, London in the snow, a great gallery of snow drifts from all over Britain and of course the man in Scotland jumping onto the snowy trampoline! And to help us get it all in perspective – here's Alaska at -52 degrees!  

That’s all for now folks! Stay warm and safe, and 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