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Showing posts from July, 2019

In conversation with... Liz Lawler (#2)

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Hi Liz ! After reading your most recent novel, I’ll Find You , I just had to catch up with your first book, Don’t Wake Up , and I’m here to take you down memory lane! Can you please describe your journey to publication? A: Firstly, thank you for inviting me to answer your questions, and I’m delighted to step down memory lane. The path to publication would never have happened if it wasn’t for my darling mum. She rang me one afternoon and told me about a writing competition, which ‘Richard and Judy’ were running. I told her that I was done with writing and that I had a nice job. She told me in no uncertain terms that I’d be a fool if i didn’t enter it. Little did I know that this would be one of our last conversations. A week later she died suddenly and was buried on her 90th birthday. I returned home from the funeral with only days left till Christmas and with nothing prepared. While my family went out and bought a Christmas tree, I remembered our conversation and decided to ta

Book review: Resist

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B y Veronica Chambers Published by HarperCollins   Synopsis: You may only be one person, but you have the power to change the world. Before they were activists, they were just like you and me. From Frederick Douglass to Malala Yousafzai, Joan of Arc to John Lewis, Susan B. Anthony to Janet Mock—these remarkable figures show us what it means to take a stand and say no to injustice, even when it would be far easier to stay quiet. Resist profiles men and women who resisted tyranny, fought the odds, and stood up to bullies that threatened to harm their communities. Along with their portraits and most memorable quotes, their stories will inspire you to speak out and rise up—every single day. How did this book end up in my hands? I was looking for a short audiobook on the BorrowBox app and this seemed perfect as each profile could be read independently of the others to fit around my time constraints. Was it a page-turner? Once I started reading the profiles, it was hard to st

Book review: Professor Chandra Follows his Bliss

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By Rajeev Balasubramanyam Published by Chatto & Windus Synopsis: In the moments after the bicycle accident, Professor Chandra doesn’t see his life flash before his eyes, but his life’s work. He’s just narrowly missed out on the Nobel Prize (again) and even though he knows he should get straight back to his pie charts, his doctor has other ideas. All this work. All this success. All this stress. It’s killing him. He needs to take a break, start enjoying himself. In short, says his doctor (who is from California), Professor Chandra should just follow his bliss. He doesn’t know it yet, but Professor Chandra is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. How did this book end up in my hands? I read its serialisation on The Pigeonhole a few months ago. Was it a page-turner? Like most books where I grow attached to the characters, I was curious to know more. I was however happy to go at a steady pace and didn’t feel the need to rush. Having read the synopsis, did the

In conversation with... Stephanie Butland

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Hi Stephanie ! I have recently read Lost for Words , which was published in 2017, and I would love to know more about its behind-the-scenes! First of all, can you please briefly tell us what it is about? A: It’s the story of Loveday, a young woman hiding away from life by working in a second-hand bookshop. When she finds an abandoned poetry book in the street, she begins a chain of events that leads to her confronting her past.  Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page? A: I had a strong sense of Loveday’s character and background, and I knew it was going to be about second-hand books and the messages that they bring. Apart from those elements, I figured it out as I went along.  Are there any autobiographical elements woven into the fictional lives of your characters? A: Yes and no. I don’t make the decision to write from my own life, but my own experience is certainly a

Book review: Tell Me Your Secret

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By Dorothy Koomson Published by Headline Review   Synopsis: Pieta has a secret. Ten years ago, Pieta was kidnapped by a man calling himself The Blindfolder who said he wouldn't kill her if she kept her eyes closed for 48 hours. She never told anyone what happened to her, vowing to move on with her life. But when The Blindfolder starts hunting down his past victims, Pieta realises she may finally be forced to tell her deepest secret to stay alive… Jody has a secret. Fifteen years ago, policewoman Jody made a terrible mistake that resulted in a serial killer known as The Blindfolder escaping justice. When Jody discovers journalist Pieta survived an attack by him, she realises she may finally have found a way to catch him. But that would mean endangering at least two innocent people… How did this book end up in my hands? I read this book thanks to a serialisation via The Pigeonhole app. Was it a page-turner? Reading the daily instalment of the book was the firs

Book review: Mr Doubler Begins Again

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By Seni Glaister Published by HQ   Synopsis: Baked, mashed, boiled or fried, Mr Doubler knows his potatoes. But the same can’t be said for people. Since he lost his wife, he’s been on his own at Mirth Farm – and that suits Doubler just fine. Crowds are for other people; the only company he needs are his potato plants and his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, who visits every day. So when Mrs Millwood is taken ill, it ruins everything – and Mr Doubler begins to worry that he might have lost his way. But could the kindness of strangers be enough to bring him down from the hill? How did this book end up in my hands? I was part of the blog tour for this book at the beginning of the year and I received a copy in exchange of my honest opinion. Was it a page-turner? This is an extremely sweet book and I enjoyed taking my time to read it as it allowed me to get to know the characters better than if I had rushed through it, missing all their nuanced personality traits. Having read the

In conversation with... Amy Lord

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Hi Amy ! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of The Disappeared ! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about? A: Thank you! The Disappeared is dystopian fiction. It’s about a young woman who uses banned books to fight back against an authoritarian regime after the disappearance of her father. The story is told from the perspective of both Clara and the major, who is the book’s antagonist and the man responsible for Clara’s father being taken. It’s about obsession, the importance of personal freedom and what happens when that is taken away. Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page? A: I thought about the story for a long time before I wrote anything down. When I started writing I had an idea of how the first section of the book would pan out, but the rest came as I went along. I did plan scenes out as I worked, but not too rigidly. I only g

Book review: The Forgotten Sister

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By Caroline Bond Published by Corvus   Synopsis: Cassie and Erin are sisters. They are close - in age, looks and personality - but there is one crucial difference: Cassie is adopted.  At seventeen, Cassie sets out to find her birth mother. She is hungry for the truth, but she discovers her adoption was far more complicated than even she could have imagined. In uncovering her past identity Cassie learns her adoptive parents have kept a terrible secret from her her whole life, which now threatens to destroy everything she has ever held dear. How did this book end up in my hands? I loved The Second Child , Caroline Bond’s debut novel, so much that I requested a review copy of her second book as soon as I heard about it… and my wish was kindly granted! Was it a page-turner? Looking back, I can say that it was, yes. I must admit, however, that it took me some time to get into it. At first I didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters, apart from Erin, and this slightly

Book review: The Silver Road

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By Stina Jackson Translated by Susan Beard Published by Corvus Synopsis: Three years ago, Lelle's daughter went missing in a remote part of Northern Sweden. Lelle has spent the intervening summers driving the Silver Road under the midnight sun, frantically searching for his lost daughter, for himself and for redemption. Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Meja arrives in town hoping for a fresh start. She is the same age as Lelle's daughter was - a girl on the brink of adulthood. But for Meja, there are dangers to be found in this isolated place. As autumn's darkness slowly creeps in, Lelle and Meja's lives are intertwined in ways, both haunting and tragic, that they could never have imagined. How did this book end up in my hands? I read its serialisation on The Pigeonhole a few months ago. Was it a page-turner? I liked the book from the beginning but it took me a few instalments to become totally gripped by the narrative. Once I reached that stage, I couldn’

In conversation with... Denise Mina

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Hi Denise ! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of  Conviction ! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about? A: A woman is listening to a true crime podcast and realises that she knows the accused. Her husband walks out on her and she decides to go and solve the crime on the podcast. Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page? A: No! I did have the last scene in my head though because the book is all about story forms and there was one story scene that I’ve always loved and wanted to incorporate but the murderer changes several times. I never start knowing what I’m doing. It's what makes it so exciting! What kind of research, if any, did you have to carry out while you were writing this novel? In general, is research something you enjoy or a means to an end? A: I adore research but can get too carried away. The book is a road trip aro

Book review: The Last House Guest

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By Megan Miranda Published by Corvus Synopsis: Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of - but that's just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.  Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable - until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can't help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie's brother Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they're saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before she's branded a killer. How did this book end up in my hands? I read a serialisation of this book via The Pigeonhole app. Was it a page-turner? If I could have read this book in one sitting, I would have. It was so terribly gripping that I feel the adrenaline even now that it’s all over. Did the bo

Book review: Freefall

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By Jessica Barry Published by Harvill Secker Synopsis: The life that she’s built for herself – her perfect fiancé, their world of luxury – has disappeared in the blink of an eye. Now she must run, not only to escape the dark secrets in her past, but to outwit the man who is stalking her every move.  On the other side of the country, Allison’s mother is desperate for news of her daughter, who is missing, presumed dead. Maggie refuses to accept that she could have lost her only child and sets out to discover the truth.  Mother and daughter must fight – for survival and to find their way through a dark web of lies and back to one another, before it’s too late… How did this book end up in my hands? I have recently read its serialisation on The Pigeonhole . If you don’t know this website yet, you will love it! Was it a page-turner? OMG, yes! I couldn’t have read each instalment any faster as soon as it was released.  Having read the synopsis, did the book mee

In conversation with... Susan Beard

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Hi Susan! Thank you for joining me today. I loved reading The Silver Road by Stina Jackson, which you have translated from the Swedish, 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: I became a translator by accident while I was working in Sweden and had to translate news copy and scripts into English for my job with Swedish Radio. Contacts made there led to commercial translating work for larger Swedish companies. When I was asked by a documentary film maker to translate an excerpt from his biography I found I enjoyed the experience so much that I knew literary translation was for me. At the same time I realised that some kind of training and qualification in the field was vital, not only to provide me with the necessary skills and confidence, but also to give any prospective clients confidence in my ability. After returning to the UK I gained the Diploma i