Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sunday Wrap Up: Week ending Sunday May 24, 2014

Going back an extended bit this time round, we've got some great book showcased for you this week. As always, excerpts for each appear below with the links leading you to individual reviews in their entirety. Also as is usual, we take you round the world, this week making stops in Scotland, Venice and  Kenya, with a chat up happening inwell, wherever The Review's cozy, oversized sofa happens to be! So sit back, grab your fork and get ready to read! Oh and . . . remember to watch out for the link leading to the giveaway!

Lisl brings us to the story of a thunderstorm gone mad and what happens when worlds collide. (Sort of like warm air and cold air, perhaps?) 

A Rip in the Veil by Anna Belfrage

Previously having read and enjoyed The Prodigal Son, third in The Graham Saga series, I approached this first book with assurance and excitement. It is, after all, where the adventures begin, where the rip in the veil dividing time(s) occurs, at least in the case of Alex Lind. From my previous reading I knew she’d gone tail spinning through time back to the 17th century following a freak thunderstorm, though further details, of course, remained unknown to me. Reading the first sentences of the novel, I was very aware of my transition into the beginning, and that enticingly soon these details would be revealed. I am quite sure anyone who has ever read Belfrage’s Saga out of order—which can be done—will understand.

Belfrage delivers and then some—wasting no time in getting her tale going, readers recognize what Alex herself does not, and her responses to them artfully contribute to the flow and continuity of the story as the author inserts detail clues for readers’ benefit: “Sahara heat in Scotland—okay, that was an exaggeration, but it wasn’t far off” tells us where these events take place and the technique is used throughout the book, sparingly and subtly, also economically lending insight into players’ personalities. 

The most apparent location these hints appear would be in some of the dialogue, which informs readers of how much each character knows about various events. In this way and others, Belfrage weaves a complex story, pleasurable and fascinating to follow—and I do mean fascinating: there were a number of occasions that gave me pause as I stopped to consider implications, how something could work, what might it mean in reality, and so on. The author’s prose lends credence to such a possibility, too: described with verbiage so on target and believable, responses and consequences so plausible, not an extra or out-of-place word, it becomes real as readers as well are drawn into the vortex with Alex, mysteriously and frighteningly into another time and, really, another place.

This really is some serious business here! To get more ideas about what happens with Alex, read on!


Lisl next brings us to the exciting waterways of Venice with her review of Sarah Bruce Kelly's Vivaldi's Muse.

Vivaldi's Muse by Sarah Bruce Kelly

Picture yourself a time traveller, having been removed from your 21st century comfort and familiarity to be placed alone in the middle of enchanting but unaccustomed surroundings: An 18th century Venetian street scene, rife with sensory stimulation in the song and smell of roast pumpkin hawked by one vendor, while another creates the captivating image and mouth-watering sensation of pear juice dripping down your chin, and the fiery melon hearts you long to reach out for.
Later you may recall the sumptuous smell of roast chicken as you settle into a hungry sleep and the outside chill seeps into your bones. You remember the gondolieri-filled canal, their bravado and charm as you were swept by the magnificence of a life in which all people, coarse and refined alike, appreciate opera as easily as they would the Carnivale introduced to you by the sweeping arm of the gondolier who piloted you to your destination. Magnificent and marvelous it all is, though you are periodically reminded by circumstance of your aloneness in the midst of strangers and their coldness—and the ways of one whose singular goal appears to be your failure.

Having read much of 18th century Europe, few of us would be prepared for such circumstances, and such is the bewilderment of Annina Girò, who is to become longtime protégée of Baroque composer and virtuoso violinist Antonio Vivaldi. Now, however, swept by her surroundings and captivated within the dream of becoming an opera star, the not-yet teenaged Annina perhaps frustrates the reader with her naiveté as much as this delights her tormenter and rival, Chiara Orlandi. Author Sarah Bruce Kelly keeps readers riveted not because we wonder if Annina will ever make it to Vivaldi’s studio, but how on earth it will happen—and brings us along for the ride as we share Annina’s ups and downs on her journey to stardom.

Your reading list will be incomplete without learning how Annina fares, so hop on over to the review to get started


Louise lets us listen in as she and author Margaret Skea chat about writing, research, and let's see what else

Margaret is now writing a sequel to Turn of the Tide, and her working title is A House Divided.

Welcome, Margaret, to The Review's Author Interview.

You did a Blog Hop recently on Facebook describing your main character in your new novel. Your WIP, A House Divided, opens in 1597. What draws you to this time in history?

These books were always intended to be part of a series, so I have an overall story arc for the first three that cover the time period of 1586 - c 1607. Turn of the Tide finished in 1591 and I thought long and hard about when to pick up the Munros' story. There were several factors that influenced my decision to go for 1597.

  1. Historical events (in the Montgomerie family history) that I intended to feature suggested the closing years of the 16th century.
  2. Pinpointing exactly when to break into the story was more difficult. However, as Kate Munro is the main focus, I needed some years to have elapsed in order for her to have had time to establish herself as a 'wise woman', and I also wanted to develop the characters of the Munro children, particularly as they negotiated the transition from childhood to adulthood. 
  3. The most difficult decision of all was the period that the book would span, and I'm still swithering about that one!
Do you have a special place where you like to write, and do you prefer to write at a particular time of day, Margaret? 

I moved all around the house while I was writing Turn of the Tide, following the sun - I find it very hard to write while cold - but now I have the luxury of a desk, beside a wall covered in post-it notes, maps, and photos of potentially relevant historic buildings. I have a small post-it note with a heading for each chapter stuck on the desk itself so that I can move them about as necessary and they are colour-coded according to who they relate to. The idea is that I can see at a glance the balance within the book. (That's the theory anyway!) As for time of day - I get up around 6.00 am and try to do some writing before breakfast. If I can do that then I can return to it later in the day when real life permits.

To continue listening in on the convo, click here.


This review is very exciting for us because it represents the debut with The Review Group of our newest member, Babus. Celebrate with us by joining in for your chance to win a FREE COPY of this next book, so aptly reviewed by Babus. 

The Most Distant Way by Ewan Gault

The most distant way in the world is not the way from birth to end.”

--Rabindranath Tagore

The significance of this quote becomes tragically apparent as you read through Ewan Gault's The Most Distant Way, which takes you on a journey through the eyes of Scottish 19-year-olds Mike and Kirsten, who are aspiring competitive runners sent to Kenya's Rift Valley to train at a high altitude training centre. They have been staying at an orphanage and farm set up by a former world class Kenyan athlete. They are a week from returning home at the start of the book with their majority of their experience of living and training in Africa behind them, but soon are faced with the perils of the country coming up to an election and they spend time in Nairobi and Mombasa on their return journey to the UK. Both Mike and Kirsten have emotional issues regarding their return to home.  Each chapter is told alternately from Mike and Kirsten's point of view. This threw me initially at chapter two as it occurred without notice but after chapter three I got into the habit of swapping heads at the end of each chapter. The characters Mike and Kirsten could not be more different and their differing approaches to their experiences is what makes this book affecting to read. Exposed to the stark poverty and lack of infrastructure in the country around them as well as enduring the rigorous training programme they are expected to excel in to make them better athletes, our two protagonists also hide insecurities of their own, which Gault explores during the course of the book. Mike is being coached by Kirsten's father who was a famed athlete and a famous coach known for getting results. Mike's own father is, unusually, not a past competitor in this sport and this has lead to there being much distance between father and son.

Read more about these intriguing characters AND for more details on the giveaway…because you KNOW you want to read this book!

Stay tuned in the coming week for some more great reviews and interviews!

No comments:

Post a Comment