[BLOG TOUR: GUEST POST] Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen @annecarter @orendabooks

Hello everyone, today I am very excited to share a guest post by the editor for Orenda Books, West Camel.

When PI Varg Veum is approached to find a missing girl, by a half-sister he barely knew, his investigation takes him deep into the dark web, and some personal history he’d rather forget…

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers on the hunt for a group of people whose dark deeds are hidden by the anonymity of the Internet. And then things get personal…

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

Guest post by Orenda Books Editor, West Camel

In a typical Varg Veum novel, Gunnar Staalesen invites the reader inside the office of his private investigator, and from there she accompanies him as he seeks out the truth of whatever case has been brought to his door.

It is a classic crime-fiction format: the reader is privy to as much information as the investigator, follows his thinking and has the opportunity to pit her wits against him … or can just sit back and admire as he untangles the plot. However, Staalesen also uses the form to create an intimate relationship between the reader and VV. Over the course of twenty books we have come to know his strengths and failings, the delights and tragedies that have shaped him, and, probably most importantly, the unique mind of one of the most compelling characters in crime fiction.

But how can English-speaking readers become as acquainted as Norwegians with such a specific person – a Norwegian man in late middle age, specifically from Bergen, sometime alcoholic, father, quasi-widower, ex-social worker, justice seeker and lone wolf (‘varg’ means ‘wolf’ in Norwegian)?

The answer is through a close working relationship between Staalesen, his translators – most recently, the great Don Bartlett – and his editors, of which I am one.

Staalesen has invested Varg with idiosyncratic spoken and internal dialogue. To lose any of this would itself be a crime; so it is up to Don, in conversation with Gunnar, and with the editor alongside, to recreate the flavour of the original Norwegian. The closing lines of the first chapter of Big Sister is the perfect example of how this works. Varg is musing on the renovations to his Bergen office, and how, while the building has changed considerably, his work and his attitude towards it hasn’t.

Everyone was welcome to bring whatever they had on their minds.It took a lot to surprise me. Unless they came from Haugesund and said they were my sister.

Thus, with characteristic deftness, economy and quiet humour, Gunnar introduces the main theme of the novel, creates narrative tension and gives us a completely new angle on his protagonist. And all of this has to be transmitted in English. In my conversations with Don, I’ve discovered he does this by getting to know Varg intimately – in the same way the reader ultimately will:how the voice reads in English is guided by Don’s understanding of Varg the man.

Varg Veum also has a close knowledge of his city, his country and its people, and has a clear take on social issues. Much of this comes from Staalesen himself. But he is writing for Norwegians, so a kind of shorthand is inevitable – Norwegians don’t need the finer points of their country’s welfare system, open tax records, drinking culture, or religious history explained to them. English speakers might be baffled though. And this is where the discussions between the editor and translator can become quite fervent.

In Big Sister a key character is resident at an institution run by something called the Inner Mission. This is an evangelical Christian group, originally from Germany. While it’s widely known in Norway, in the UK, other similar Christian groups are more prominent. My suggestion as an editor was to offer the reader a little explanation – in order that English readers were apprised of the religious nature of the group at the same point Norwegians were. For the translator too long an explanation sounded patronising: surely readers would grasp what the Inner Mission was – it’s well known in Norway, and in the US too. Elegant compromise – what much of translating and editing is about – was achieved. Two words of explanation were added to the text (see if you can find them!).

Big Sister represents Gunnar Staalesen at the peak of his powers. In my view Don Bartlett has done his usual sterling job of recreating this bravura performance … and I hope my input has helped it reach the hands of the English speaking reader intact.

I would like to thank West Camel for taking the time out of his schedule to write a guest post for Breathing Through Pages!

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. When Prince Charles visited Bergen, Staalesen was appointed his official tour guide. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen, and a host of Varg Veum memorabilia for sale. We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die were both international bestsellers.

Find him on: Website and Goodreads

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[REVIEW] I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara @FaberBooks

I came across this book a while ago and I sadly can’t remember when but I just felt attracted to it because of it being a true crime book, who doesn’t love a true crime book? Also the title I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is so chilling and so mysterious that it makes you dive into the book and find out more about it.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a story about a serial killer/rapist, active around 1975-1984. who during that time left a mark on every place he terrorized and made people sleep with one eye open. Michelle McNamara, the author, paints a chilling picture of GSK’s crimes and takes us on an investigative journey spanning many decades. What’s interesting about this case is that GSK was never caught but his crimes are still remembered. McNamara was a journalist/true crime writer and she had a true crime blog called True Crime Diary which is still up on the internet. She dedicated her time to catching GSK and finding more about him. Since McNamara was a child she became obsessed with all things crime and she describes one particular incident that sparked the fire inside of her: A crime happened near her home where a woman was murdered but there was no one to blame for the crime. In I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, McNamara goes into detail about almost every attack that was performed by The Golden State Killer and shares her findings as well as clues which might be linked to the GSK himself.

McNamara is an excellent writer, with every word she writes you are taken to i.e. 2 am, a house in a quiet neighbourhood where everyone’s  asleep except for one person. Someone is entering a house through the window with a flashlight and a knife, threatening a couple that he’ll kill them if they don’t cooperate. There are many more chilling true crimes which were commited by The Golden State Killer. The way the subject matter was presented to the reader was concise and easy to follow as you will see if you pick this book up. McNamara takes us through every scene and even reconstructs crimes so you can get a better picture. I loved the letter in the end from McNamara where she tells the facts that with the rise of technology and it advancing GSK will not go unpunished for his crimes (provided that he is still alive).

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a fascinating exploration of The Golden State Killer’s psyche as well as a well-researched true crime book worth reading.

I would like to thank the publisher Faber&Faber for sending this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written above are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.

My rating: 

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Michelle McNamara Born Michelle Eileen McNamara April 14, 1970 Died April 21, 2016 (aged 46) Los Angeles, California U.S. Nationality American Alma mater University of Notre Dame University of Minnesota Occupation Writer Years active 2006–2016 Spouse(s) Patton Oswalt (m. 2005–2016) (her death) Children 1 Website Official website Michelle Eileen McNamara (April 14, 1970 – April 21, 2016) was an American writer and crime blogger. She was the wife of comedian Patton Oswalt. She was the author of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, a true crime book about the Golden State Killer. The book was released posthumously in February 2018 and is being adapted as an HBO documentary series.

If you wish to visit her true crime blog click here.

[BLOG TOUR: GUEST POST] The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo @annecarter @bg_writes_stuff

Hi guys! I am very happy to be a part of the blog tour for The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo and share with you a guest post by the author!

S Y N O P S I S

The Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high — and low — places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved.

In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — BasilePerrinault and KanoaShinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.

The Gathering: The Soundtrack To My Book

By: Bernadette Giacomazzo

Different writers, no doubt, have different ways of getting inspired to write. Some work in perfect silence, some work with the radio on, some work with the television on, and still others work amidst the chaos and the rubble of typical city life.

For me, however, writing my book The Gathering – the first in a six-part dystopian fiction series called The Uprising series – involved listening to some music that shaped, not only the soundtrack of my life, but the direction of the book itself.

Before I wrote The Gathering, I was known as a non-fiction writer. Specifically, I’d made my name as an entertainment journalist, with my work featured in the likes of People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The NY Post, and a whole lot more.

But even before all those lovely credentials, I got my “big break” on the New York City rock music scene, and it was here that I heard some of the best music I’d ever heard in my life…music that holds up to this day, nearly 20 years after the fact. (Am I dating myself here?)

It was this music that I listened to as I wrote this book, and I even make some references to the music throughout the book.

For your reading – and listening! – pleasure, I’ve enclosed some of the songs here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Fixer – Home Again

Fixer was a four-piece rock band from New York City that played some “balls-to-the-wall” rock’n’roll that was a mix between Guns N’Roses and the New York Dolls. They would frequently close their concerts with this song, and it’s easy to see why.

https://www.shazam.com/track/58007582/home-again

Fixer – Tuxedo

When they didn’t end their show with “Home Again,” they would end it with this song. Incidentally, this song first premiered in an acoustic setting back on November 29, 2000 –my 23rd birthday – at CB’s Gallery, which was the acoustic offshoot of the legendary CBGB’s, and was literally right next door to the venerated rock venue.

https://www.shazam.com/track/58007580/tuxedo

Status Joe – Water to Wine

As good as Fixer was at the straight ahead rock’n’roll songs, they weren’t as good at the love songs. So, in the book, when Jamie/Ivan is singing his heart out to Angelique, he’s referencing this song from Long Island based band Status Joe. (Incidentally, the lead singer, Phil Richards, has a new band called Crash Transit.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJCIYSngJzM

I would like to thank Bernadette for taking the time out of her schedule to write a guest post for Breathing Through Pages! Make sure to check out other book bloggers on this blog tour!

Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen VoguePeopleUs WeeklyThe Los Angeles TimesThe New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.

Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.

Find her on: Website and Twitter

[REVIEW] The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm @PushkinPress

Yes, you are seeing correctly! No need to look twice because Breathing Through Pages is back again with a new review! Praise the lord! I do my best to read and review quickly but sometimes mental health and university get in the way. I will do my best to post reviews more frequently like I used to.

I saw this book a while back on Twitter and what first struck me was its cover which looked so interesting. I came across this book again when I requested Only Killers and Thieves and then I took a closer look at it (read the synopsis) and was SOLD. Trust me, once you read the synopsis you’ll want to find out more about it!

The Gradual Dissappearance of Jane Ashland starts with a woman, who we learn is called Jane, who wakes up in a tent somewhere in the Norwegian mountains. The devices she has which can save her from this situation don’t work so she’s left on her own. Who is Jane? What is she doing there all alone? While reading this novel we get her complete story and slowly get to know what happened to her.

As I’ve mentioned we get Jane’s life story, her university years, her marriage, her visit to her Norwegian cousins and more. Houm slowly paints a picture of Jane and her past which give us a more clear look at who she is and what kind of a person she is. We can see that Jane is a troubled individual and the way she expresses herself shows us exactly that –for example:  in the way she approaches relationships. My personal experience with this novel was positive because I love Houm’s writing style and kudos to the translator for bringing this book to life with her skills. What some people might find confusing and/or annoying will be the switching through stories from her past so you might get lost if you don’t pay attention while reading. I found this part a bit confusing at times because of university so I had to read it in smaller chunks. So listen up kids, better take notes while reading a book because with a lot of new information in your head stuff will get lost.

I would definitely recommend this book to other readers because it’s a read that will be up many people’s alleys with it’s intriguing synopsis and the story inside.

The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland is a novel you’ll be wanting to analyze after you’ve finished it.

I would like to thank the publisher Pushkin Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written in this review are my own and have not been influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland ‘ to your TBR: 

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Born in Norway in 1974, Houm is an exciting new talent and critics have described him as ‘a Norwegian Don De Lillo’ and Norway’s ‘most American author, in the very best sense’. One critic said the novel as ‘combined surgically precise observations with the drive and ingenuity of the best television series’. He has published two novels which were both critically acclaimed in Norway, and this is the first English publication of his work. He works part-time as an editor in publishing house Cappelen Damm, and lives in Lier with his wife and daughter.

Find him on: Author page

[REVIEW] One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel @GrantaBooks

I first came across One of the Boys earlier this year on Instagram so when I requested a different book to read and review I got sent this one too which I was so happy about because of seeing a lot of praise for it.

One of the Boys is a story about two boys and their manipulative father. After their parents divorce they move with their father to Albuquerque to start a new life free from all the mess of divorce. Both of the children go to school and begin having friendships and doing some sports which they’re excited about but what soon happens is that their father begins closing himself into his bedroom, they hear some strange noises during the night and see different people coming and going out of their house. What was an idyllic place soon becomes a nightmare for both of the children and they begin questioning the choices they made.

I hope I have summarised this book well and that you get the idea of the same. I’ll talk about the father figure first because he was a very interesting character. From the beginning of the book I knew that something was off with the father [well yes, because of the synopsis but also because from the start you gt a taste of who he is]. I am amazed at how parents can be so manipulative towards their children and have no remorse [in this case the father had ‘remorse’ if you could call it that but it still didn’t stop what he was doing] for their actions. The way he punished his children was very cruel to me what left a huge impact was the way he punished his child towards the end of the book. I don’t want to spoil anything but when you read this book you’ll get a better understanding of what I’m saying here. It amazes me that even though this is a story, a fictional one, this kind of behaviour is common in some families. I could go on about this book and as you can see even though it has 160 pages it can be analyzed in so many different ways.

One of the Boys is a very short book but a very impactful one. At one-hundred-and-sixty pages this book takes you on a rollercoaster ride of abuse, manipulation and hope.

I would like to thank the publisher Granta Books for sending this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions written here are my own and have not been influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘One of the Boys ‘ to your TBR: 

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Daniel Magariel is an author from Kansas City. His work has appeared in Granta, Lit Hub, Salt Hill, Stop Smiling, and Issue Magazine, among others. One of the Boys, his first novel, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and Amazon Best Book of 2017, and was published in twelve countries. He has a BA from Columbia University, as well as an MFA from Syracuse University, where he was a Cornelia Carhart Fellow. He currently lives in New York with his wife.

Find him on: Website

[REVIEW] The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin @tinderpress

I’m sure everyone has heard of The Immortalists by now because it’s been everywhere on the internet. I added this book last year to my TBR because I loved its synopsis and that it was set in New York. I’m happy to say that this was an excellent read and that I read it fairly quickly because it was so engaging.

The Immortalists begins with four siblings – Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya –  going to a fortune teller because they heard she knows when people die. They are all very frightened when they get to the fortune teller and hear their dates and what’s interesting is that none of that at that moment share theirs with the others. Their lives will be led with knowledge of their death dates at the back of their heads and some of them will be consumed by that knowledge. The book is divided into four parts each one revolving around one of the siblings – first part is Simon’s and then we have Klara, Daniel and the last part is about Varya. As each of the siblings go on their paths most become estranged from each other. Simon becomes a dancer, Klara a magician, Daniel an army doctor and Varya a research scientist. How will their stories go? Read the book and find out!

What I absolutely adored about this book was the truth behind it – how people can become distanced from one another even though they are siblings plus the effects it has. Simon’s story was the one I loved the most because of its rawness. Each of the stories were told in a great way and kept my attention. I am trying to keep my thoughts on this spoiler-free so I won’t mention certain things. I loved the magicam realism in this book because it gave it a different dimension. The references Benjamin used were precise and I loved how certain things correlated and how each story had a connection with the previous one.  I wouldn’t mind hearing more about Varya’s work because I liked that she was a scientist. What this book does is make you questions relationships with people close to you and it makes you wonder what would happen if they were to disappear from your life.

The Immortalists is a novel well-worth reading because it offers a great and heart-wrenching look at sibling dynamics, it makes you wonder and question things in your life. Should you read? The answer is very easy: YES.

I would like to thank the publisher Tinder Press for sending a copy of this book my way in exchange for an honest review. The opinions written are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘The Immortalists ‘ to your TBR: 

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Chloe Benjamin is the author of THE IMMORTALISTS, a New York Times Bestseller, #1 Indie Next Pick for January 2018, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, #1 Library Reads pick, and Amazon Best Book of the Month.

Her first novel, THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS (Atria, 2014), received the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award and was longlisted for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize.

Her novels have been translated into over twenty-three languages. A graduate of Vassar College and the M.F.A. in fiction at the University of Wisconsin, Chloe lives with her husband in Madison, WI.

Find her on: WebsiteTwitterInstagram and GoodReads.

[REVIEW] The Diamond Setter by Moshe Sakal @OtherPress

I love the cover of this book and that’s the first thing that attracted me to it and then the blurb which sounded so interesting. This isn’t a typical read for me but I am so glad I got the chance to read it because it’s good to read something different than your usual reads from time to time. I must confess that I really liked reading this book.

The Diamond Setter is a story that spans through generations and at the center of it is one diamond, the blue diamond. The story begins with one man’s journey from Syria to Israel with a goal of returning the diamond called ‘Sabakh’ to its rightful owner and also finding more about his family roots. Fareed gets swept not only into the mystery of the ‘Sabakh’ but into a dangerous life that comes with finding the truth. The author takes us to many places, from the present day to the 1900s where we get stories about the diamond, how it was first found and how it got into the hands of many different people (Don’t worry the stories revolve around the family and don’t stray away from the story). I feel like saying more will ruin your experience so I won’t say anything further.

I must say that the first two-three pages of the prologue were so interesting and they made me dive into this book. The first few chapters were confusing but after them I got into the gist of who’s who and what’s happening. Sakal writes characters that are flawed but also real because of that. If you’ve researched this book it says that it’s about a love triangle and I read that but was still surprised when I came across it in the book. The love triangle thing was so intriguing because of the things that happened later in the book. There’s a point where the name of the novel comes up within the story as well as the plot of it which I had mixed feelings about because it kind of deviated from the story but what I found rewarding was the potrayal of gay characters in the book. I loved reading about Tom and Honi. I feel like the end of the book had a bitter-sweet taste but it left me wondering and thinking about the future of these characters.

The Diamond Setter is a novel with a heart and I’m sure many readers will enjoy reading this story.

I would like to thank the publisher Other Press for sending this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own and were not influenced by the fact that I got a free copy for review.

My rating: 

Add ‘The Diamond Setter ‘ to your TBR: 

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Moshe Sakal is the author of five Hebrew novels, including the best-selling Yolanda, which was short-listed for the Sapir Prize (the Israeli Booker), My Sister, which was long-listed in 2016, and The Diamond Setter, forthcoming in the USA.

Sakal was born in Tel-Aviv into a Syrian-Egyptian Jewish family. He has been awarded the title of Honorary Fellow in Writing by the University of Iowa, the Levi Eshkol Prize for Creative Work, and a Fulbright grant. ​

Sakal lived six years in Paris, France. He currently lives in Jaffa.

Find him on: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

[REVIEW] Tangerine by Christine Mangan @LittleBrownUK

What first attracted me to this book is the absolutely stunning cover. I love everything black and white especially these kinds of photos so this was an immediate add to my to-be-read list. I didn’t base my decision of reading this book on it being optioned for a movie because that doesn’t attract me as much as the book itself does. I have to admit that I can see this book as a movie but I would be very careful who to cast for these roles.

Tangerine is set in Tangier, Morocco and it follows two women, Alice and Lucy. Their friendship is a strange one because of the horrific past that follows both of them. The book begins with the reappareance of Lucy  and a rather peculiar reaction from Alice. Is Lucy supposed to be there? It goes back and forth from the past and slowly reveals the happenings that took place when they were in college to the present where they are re-connecting their friendship. From the beginning we can see the strangeness that surrounds Lucy but also the spell she has cast on Alice. I don’t want to describe the story any futher because I  feel like the synopsis of Tangerine reveals a bit much about the plot. This is all you should know before going in.

Tangerine has a symbolic name because it’s doesn’t represent the fruit but something else you’ll have to find out when you pick it up. The characters were well crafted and the setting made the story ten times more interesting because I don’t usually see these kinds of stories set in the 1950’s. Mangan has a great way with words and can really paint a picture with her sentences which I particularly enjoyed. As I mentioned when it comes to the synopsis of the book I feel like it could ruin someone’s experience and I wish it was more mysterious because I didn’t feel shock when it came to certain scenes. From the synopsis you can tell that Lucy is someone who plays a major role in the book and I have to say that she was a great character. The ending was interesting because I didn’t expect it to end like that and I had a different scenario in mind which sort of fell short for me. Even though I had some issues with it I feel like the book will attract many readers who’ll fall under its spell like I did.

This book cover is one of my favourite ones this year.

Christine Mangan’s Tangerine is a great debut novel set in the 1950’s Morocco which is centered around two women whose friendship is  a very dangerous one but also a very intriguing one at the same time.

I would like to thank the publisher Little Brown UK for sending a copy of this book my way in exchange for an honest review. Opinions written in this review are my own and have not been affected by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘Tangerine ‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘Tangerine‘ here: 

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Christine Mangan has her PhD in English from University College Dublin, where her thesis focused on 18th-century Gothic literature, and an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Southern Maine. Tangerine is her first novel.

Find her on: Instagram and GoodReads.

 

[REVIEW + Q&A] The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara @OneworldNews

The House of Impossible Beauties is one of those books you stumble upon once in a while that leave a mark on you. What first attracted me to this book was the topic it deals with plus it being a LGBTQ book it was an immediate add to my to-be-read shelf. What awaits you inside is a story filled with courage, hope and suffering but above all that what this book carries and showcases the most are love and support between each character in it.

Before reading this book I had to watch Paris is Burning because for some reason I wanted to see what exactly inspired this interesting-looking book. The documentary was truly amazing and this book follows the fictionalized lives of some of the real people from the documentary like Dorian Corey, Angel Xtravaganza, Venus Xtravaganza with appearances by some other characters like Pepper Labeija and many more. It mainly focuses on the life of the House of Xtravaganza : Hector, the father of the house, Angel Xtravaganza who is the mother and Venus, Juanito and Daniel. Each new part begins with a chapter narrated by Dorian Corey with her sass and wisdom.

At the beginning of the book we are introduced to each character and chapter by chapter get to know their upbringing stories as well as their lives in the present.  I loved reading their stories because they show the truth behind being a trans person and the judgment they have to face daily because of being trans. What this book offers is a real look at the 1980s, the HIV crisis and the moral people had back then about things that are somewhat accepted in our society [I say somewhat because there are still parts of the world where people look at someone who’s gay or trans with disgust]. These are the sort of stories that need to be told more often because they are so good and they made me feel closer to the T part of the community. I must say that where I come from trans people as well as gay people are treated very harshly because of the religious beliefs people have but nowadays a lot of young people have no judgement towards the LGBTQ community which makes me happy because future generations will be raised without hate towards people who are different.

What makes this book so special to me are the characters in it. I loved reading about them, hearing their stories, passions and their dreams. Throwing shade is the way they communicate at times and I just loved every bit of shade they threw at each other.

The only thing I found as a con is the use of pronouns because at times they were confusing. Some people may find the use of Spanish in the sentences annoying or too much but to me it made the story much more real.

What can I say? This review is a rollercoaster ride and I hope I presented the book and my thoughts in an interesting way that makes you want to pick up and read this marvelous book.

The House of Impossible Beauties is a gorgeous novel about transgender and gay kids set in the 1980s filled with stories that will make you feel every emotion possible. Once you finish reading this book you’ll want to read it again.

I would like to thank the publisher Oneworld Publications for sending this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own and not influenced in any way.

My rating: 

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Joseph Cassara was born and raised in New Jersey. He holds degrees from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been a writing fellow at the Fine Arts Centre in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The House of Impossible Beauties is his first novel. He lives in Iowa.

Find him on: Website, Twitter and GoodReads.

 

You can find my Q&A with the author below.
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[REVIEW] Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover @PRHGlobal

Where do I begin? What a memoir. This is one of the most interesting and disturbing true stories you’ll read this year. With its title Educated you already get a sense on what this memoir is about: an education, but it’s also a lot more.

Tara Westover has been raised in a very unconventional way [this might not be unconventional to everyone but it is to me and I’m sure most people reading this]: she didn’t go to school until later in her adolescence, her family raised her with such ludicrous beliefs and ideas. I usually write the synopsis of the book in my words but if you’re interested in it you can go to the books Goodreads page.

Educated is a very strong memoir in every sense of that word – from the bravery of our heroine, Tara, to the will and emotional strength it took for her to be where she is now. I mentioned that her childhood was very unconventional and it truly is because no child is supposed to do the things her father makes her do, his ideas of the end of the world and preparing for it signaled something in me. After getting a little deeper into the book I could assume that her father wasn’t a mentally healthy person – I presumed he was schizophrenic or had bipolar disorder. One of my guesses was right and it was bipolar disorder because even as Westover mentions exactly this it can be caught early on because of his behaviour. What I salute the author for is showing her struggles with academia. Yes, you read the synopsis and it says ‘She earned a PhD at Cambridge.’ but what I am thankful for is the author showing that it’s not that easy to earn one. The struggles she faced were real and might happen to other people which made her very relatable to me and I’m sure it will to other readers.There is so much more I didn’t say about this book from because I feel like you should read it and experience it as it is not someone’s retelling of it.

This book left a bitter-sweet taste in me even though I craved finding out more about her upbringing and education I felt that she as a person hasn’t dealt with certain things in healthy ways. If I were put in her shoes I believe that I would deal with it differently but who knows? It depends on the effects that life has left on the person.

Educated: A Memoir is truly a special work of literature which I’m sure many people will enjoy. I felt empathy, got enraged and felt the positives and negatives of Westovers life and I must say that it was a darn good ride.

I would like to thank PRH Global for sending this free book my way in exchange for an honest review. The opinions written here are my own.

My rating: 

Add ‘Educated: A Memoir‘ to your TBR: 

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Tara Westover is an American author living in the UK. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father’s junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom, and after that first taste, she pursued learning for the next decade. She received a BA from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.

Find her on: Website, Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads.