Monday, 26 September 2016

Author Spotlight: Agnes Ravatn

Today it's my pleasure to be kicking off The Bird Tribunal blog tour with a spotlight feature for Norwegian author Agnes Ravatn.  I'll also be hosting a review from Louise for The Bird Tribunal, which has been translated into English by Rosie Hedger, on 8th October so make sure you pop back to read what Louise thought but first let's get to know a bit more about Agnes with a Q&A. . 

Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary d├ębut with the novel Week 53 in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing, Popular Reading and Operation Self-discipline, in which she recounts her experience with social media addiction, and how she overcame it. 

The Bird Tribunal won the cultural radio P2’s listener’s prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway, in addition to The Youth’s Critic’s Prize. The Bird Tribunal was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey?
I am Agnes, 33 years old, and I live with my partner and our 18-month-old son son on a smallholding on the western coast of Norway. I wanted to be a writer from I was six, and my debut novel was published in 2007 while I was a student. I then got a job as a journalist/columnist and wrote three non-fiction books while working on my second novel, The Bird Tribunal. Today, I am working on my third novel.

If you had to give an elevator pitch for The Bird Tribunal, what would it be?
The Bird Tribunal is a chilling book packed with secrets, fatal attraction and amateur gardening!

The Bird Tribunal is an interesting title, how did it come about?
It refers to a dream or vision the male character, Bagge, has, and tells us that he has done something in the past that haunts him, and plays on his conscience.

Where did the inspiration come from to feature a TV presenter leaving her successful life behind and escaping to live a reclusive lifestyle in the middle of nowhere?
Heaven knows! I started writing the story without knowing who Allis, the protagonist, was, but she had just arrived at the house where she was starting work as a sort of housekeeper for the mysterious Bagge. I just knew she had to have experienced a great fall. And then, as I wrote, I started finding out more and more about her background, and her reasons for escaping the spotlight.

If you had to describe The Bird Tribunal in one sentence, what would it be?
I would prefer to quote somebody else, who called it ‘Rebecca, with fjords’. Spot on. 

Friday, 23 September 2016

Emma's Review: War Orphans by Lizzie Lane

Reviewed by Emma Crowley 

If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency. If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed." 

Joanna Ryan’s father has gone off to war, leaving her in the care of her step-mother, a woman more concerned with having a good time than being any sort of parent to her. 

But then she finds a puppy, left for dead, and Joanna’s becomes determined to save him, sharing her meagre rations with him. But, in a time of war, pets are only seen as an unnecesary burden and she is forced to hide her new friend, Harry from her step-mother and the authorities. With bombs falling over Bristol and with the prospect of evacuation on the horizon can they keep stay together and keep each other safe?

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Emma's Review: Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Becca Fletcher hates Christmas so much, she’s considering getting ‘Bah Humbug!’ tattooed on her forehead. She has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch; Reasons that make this the very worst time of year for her.

Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura, and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, the smell of pine trees, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

But little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Cafe is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill on a windswept bay, it’s a place full of friendship; a place where broken hearts can heal, and a place where new love can blossom. It’s a place where Becca’s Christmas miracle really could happen – if only she can let it…

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Emma's Review: Christmas under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

Reviewed by Holly Martin

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away. 

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again. 

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace. 

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home? 

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Debut Spotlight: Mark Hill

Today it's my pleasure to be shining the spotlight on author Mark Hill and his debut novel The Two O'Clock Boy which is published tomorrow in eBook format, paperback to follow in April. 

Mark Hill is a London-based full-time writer of novels and scripts. Formerly he was a journalist and a producer at BBC Radio 2 across a range of major daytime shows and projects. He has won two Sony Gold Awards.

Follow Mark's publication journey via his website or connect with him via Twitter @markhillwriter or Facebook Mark Hill

Can you give us an elevator pitch for your debut novel The Two O'Clock Boy?
When a family is brutally murdered in North London, Detective Inspector Ray Drake will do whatever it takes to find the killer – and he’ll go even further to cover-up his own dark secret…

You see what I did there? It’s not just a secret, it’s a dark secret. Everybody loves a copper with a dark secret, right?

What inspired you to write about a current day serial murder case that was heavily influenced by events in the past? 
There’s that great quote by William Faulkner: ‘The past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.’ I loved the idea of writing two timelines, one set in modern-day and the one set in a children’s home in the 1980s, then crashing them together like a pair of cymbals to the skull. Also, the truth is, I get bored very easily, and writing scenes set decades apart gave me the opportunity to write a larger array of characters and then seeing how I could interconnect them all. You know, just to make my life easier. 

How did the title The Two O'Clock Boy come about?
I’d love to say I thought of it, but it was actually my agent’s idea - as he never fails to remind me. We were throwing a few titles about and nothing seemed to stick and he pointed out that the phrase The Two O’Clock Boy was there, hiding in plain sight  in the novel. People seem to like it. I’m hoping ‘boy’ books will ignite a whole new literary phenomenon. I’m thinking: Boy On The Train. Gone Boy. Boy With The Dragon Tattoo.

Describe DI Ray Drake in three words.
Terse, troubled, tragic, trousered. Wait, that’s four. Ignore trousered.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Books Read & Giveaway: My Map of You by Isabelle Broom

Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother's death, she's become expert at keeping people at a distance - including her boyfriend, Rupert.

But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.

But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback