Showing posts from November, 2018

Book review: The Remains of the Day

By Kazuo Ishiguro

Synopsis: A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House.

In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the English countryside and into his past.

How did this book end up in my hands? My best friend is reading it with her book club in Italy and I thought I’d read along!

Was it a page-turner? This is not a fast-paced novel as there is no mystery to solve but I found it so incredibly fascinating that I could hardly put it down.

Having read the synopsis, did the book meet my expectations? I didn’t have any expectations as the synopsis didn’t reveal much so this book was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Did I like the ending? [no spoilers] Yes. A sombre ending, very much in keeping with the general feeling of this novel.

Three words to describe it. British. Humorous. Nost…

Blog tour: Distortion + competition

It is no secret that I adored Ascension by Victor Dixen, which was published in June this year. If you follow me on Twitter, you will have seen me gushing over it again and again. If you only follow my blog, you might have noticed my enthusiasm when I tracked down and interviewed both the English translator and the book cover designer of the series!

Despite brief interactions on Twitter, the idea of approaching Victor Dixen himself seemed too daunting so you can imagine my excitement when I was recently offered the opportunity to join the Phobos Distortion blog tour and… wait for it… interview the author! I’m still pinching myself.

Ouch! I can confirm I’m not asleep and it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to my stop along the awesome space journey below:
And without further ado, I give you Victor Dixen…

Hi Victor! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of Distortion, the second book in the Phobos series! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?


In conversation with... Holly Seddon (#2)

Hi Holly! I have just finished reading your second novel, Don’t Close Your Eyes, which was first published in the UK in July 2017. I came late to the party but I’m glad not to have missed it because I loved it! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: Don’t Close Your Eyes follows the story of Robin and Sarah, non-identical twins split apart in childhood through their parents’ actions, and now living fractured and frightening lives away from each other. Robin is housebound, terrified as someone tries desperately to get inside, while Sarah is reeling from unbearable loss. After years of separation, the sisters are each other’s only hope.

I’m so glad you liked it! 

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters suddenly did something that you were not expecting?

A: I had a two page outline but it changed a lot, especially as I fell in love with one particular character – Callum – and he took me in some diffe…

Book review: And the Wind Sees All

By Gudmundur Andri Thorsson Translated from the Icelandic by Andrew Cauthery and Bjorg Arnadottir Published by Peirene Press
Synopsis: In this story we hear the voices of an Icelandic fishing village. On a summer’s day a young woman in a polka-dot dress cycles down the main street. Her name is Kata and she is the village choir conductor. As she passes, we glimpse the members of the village: a priest with a gambling habit, an old brother and sister who have not talked for years, and a sea captain who has lost his son. But perhaps the most interesting story of all belongs to the young woman on the bicycle. Why is she reticent to talk about her past?
How did this book end up in my hands? The publisher kindly sent me a copy of the book to review. I was only too happy to accept the offer of ‘relaxing Nordic hygge in a book’!
Was it a page-turner? With less than 200 pages, this book can definitely be read in one sitting – unless you’re like me and you like to savour a good translation at a ca…

In conversation with... Samuel Fisher

Hi Samuel! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of The Chameleon! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: It’s a book about a book that can be any book, narrated by that book.

What inspired you to write this book?

A: Books! And bodies. And the cold war. And the idea of storytelling as a common ground over which we can share our own unique experience.

How did you choose the books that John would turn into? Any choices that surprised you?

A: I never thought that Ancrene Wisse (a medieval guide for anchoresses) would make it into my creative work when I was studying it! I think, in general, I was interested in books that were concerned with book that interrogate their own process, that question the nature and value of storytelling.

If this novel could be turned into a film, whose voice would you choose to narrate the story?

A: Brian Blessed

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about something in the book that was particularly difficult to write?


Book review: In Search Of Us + competition

By Ava Dellaira
Published by Hot Key Books

Synopsis: This sweeping multi-generational love story introduces readers to mother-and-daughter pair Marilyn and Angie. To seventeen-year-old Angie, who is mixed-race, Marilyn is her hardworking, devoted white single mother. But Marilyn was once young, too. When Marilyn was seventeen, she fell in love with Angie's father, James, who was African-American.

But Angie's never met him, and Marilyn has always told her he died before she was born. When Angie discovers evidence of an uncle she's never met she starts to wonder: What if her dad is still alive, too? So she sets off on a journey to find him, hitching a ride to LA from her home in New Mexico with her ex-boyfriend, Sam. Along the way, she uncovers some hard truths about herself, her mother, and what truly happened to her father.

How did this book end up in my hands? The publisher kindly sent me a copy of the book to review earlier this year and I only wish I had picked it up sooner…

In conversation with... Delija Valiukenas

Hi Delija! Thank you for joining me today. I have just finished reading Shadows on the Tundra, which you translated from the Lithuanian to English, and I’d like to ask you a few questions both on this specific book and more generally on translation. So let’s begin…

How did you get started in literary translation?

A:You could say it began nearly fifty years ago with my doctoral dissertation, in which I examined the Lithuanian translations of Shakespeare's plays.But I've never actually made a career of translation.Shadows on the Tundra is the only book I've translated.Yes, I have translated academic articles, some plays for the National Drama Theater in Lithuania, and other genres, but it was always the result of a specific request.

What did you think when you were first approached to work on Dalia Grinkevičiūtė’soutstanding memoir? Were you already aware of it or was it a new discovery for you?

A: When Meike Ziervogel, the publisher, “found” me in 2017 through various contacts,…

Book review: The Chameleon + competition

By Samuel Fisher
Published by Salt

Synopsis: John is infinite.

He can become any book, any combination of words – every thought, act and expression that has ever been, or ever will be, written. Now 800 years old, John wants to tell his story. 

Looking back over his life, from its beginnings with a medieval anchoress to his current lodgings beside the deathbed of a Cold War spy, John pieces together his tale: the love that held him together and, in particular, the reasons for a murder that took place in Moscow fifty years earlier, which set in train a shattering series of events.

Samuel Fisher’s debut, The Chameleon is a love story about books like no other, weaving texts and lives in a family tale that leads the reader on an extraordinary historical journey, a journey of words as much as of places, and a gripping romance.

How did this book end up in my hands? I was happy to receive a review copy from the publisher at the beginning of the year. It’s not every day that you get to read a book …

In conversation with... Cherie Chapman

Hi Cherie! Thank you for joining me today. I am the proud owner of the first two books in the Phobos trilogy, which you designed the covers for, and they look stunning on my shelves! But let’s begin… 

How did you get started in this field?

A: No worries, Silvia, and thank you for loving the covers! I always knew I wanted to do something creative but never what to specialise in. I went to University and did a Graphic Design course. In my first year it allowed me to try a mixture of Graphic Design, Animation, Photography, Publishing and Illustration and I ended up specialising in Graphic Design. It wasn’t until after I graduated and did a few work placements within the designing industries, that I knew for sure I wanted to get into publishing, especially fiction book cover design. I landed my first job at Hodder and Stoughton as a junior, then I went on to be a designer at HarperCollins, then finally at Bonnier Zaffre. I’ve now been a freelance designer for the last four months.

Can you de…

Book review: Shadows on the Tundra + competition

By Dalia Grinkeviciute
Translated from the Lithuanian by Delija Valiukenas 
Published by Peirene Press

Synopsis: In 1941, 14-year-old Dalia and her family are deported from their native Lithuania to a labour camp in Siberia. As the strongest member of her family she submits to twelve hours a day of manual labour. At the age of 21, she escapes the gulag and returns to Lithuania. She writes her memories on scraps of paper and buries them in the garden, fearing they might be discovered by the KGB. They are not found until 1991, four years after her death. This is the story Dalia buried. The immediacy of her writing bears witness not only to the suffering she endured but also the hope that sustained her. It is a Lithuanian tale that, like its author, beats the odds to survive.

How did this book end up in my hands? I received an advance reading copy from the publisher in exchange of my honest opinion.

Was it a page-turner? No, I wouldn’t say it was. I did read it fairly quickly – a few days – b…