The cover of Song of Blood and Stone

Song of Blood and Stone

Title: Song of Blood and Stone

Author: L. Penelope

Published: St. Martin’s Press, 2018

Song of Blood and Stone

Song of Blood and Stone takes place in the world of Elsira, which is a land of Silents; people, who cannot use the magic that is Song. Those who can are called Singers.

In Elsira lives Jasminda, a child of a Silent and a Singer, who bears the Song within her and the skin of a Singer on her outside. Because of this, she mostly keeps to herself, since people are afraid of her and her Song.
Jasminda has lost her parents and her brothers and lives alone in the family cabin on a small patch of land outside the nearest town, and now she stands to lose this too.
One day a group of soldiers and the injured spy they have captured find their way to her cabin, and she is forced to let them in. Jasminda slowly forms a bond with the injured captive named Jack and when they manage to escape the soldiers, it is the beginning of a long journey for both of them. Jasminda is racing time in order to keep her land and her last connection to her family, while Jack is on a mission to save their country.

My thoughts

I cannot find the words to describe what a wonderful experience it was to read this fantasy! I was completely taken aback by the marvellous story, magical universe and compelling characters that this story holds.
The story is told through a third person narrator, but still juggling multiple point of views (POV’s), which I love. The main character Jasminda is so likeable and relatable and she has quickly climbed the ladder of my most liked characters.

I think L. Penelope has managed to write a story that will both take you away, but can also make you think about your own world and life. This is one of the strongest and most important possibilities of any fantasy ever, I believe.
I know we all love different things, and I am really afraid of overselling this, since I think it is important to go into a new book with less than high expectations, since your expectations can kill the reading experience. However, I sincerely recommend you read this, if you love a good fantasy novel!

Sneak Peek

I have been allowed to show you an excerpt from the book Song of Blood and Stone and I am so happy and so excited for this! You can find this excerpt by clicking on the title below this section and it will lead you straight to it! The excerpt is chapter two in which we meet a wounded soldier and a good samaritan. I sincerely hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I did! And if you wish to read the rest of the book, I can assure you that you don’t have to wait for long: It will be on sale on Tuesday May 1st 2018 right where you normally buy your books and can already be preordered many places.

Song of Blood & Stone excerpt

Find the excerpt through this link.

L. Penelope

The authoer L Penelope sitting and looking at the camera

Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.

Song of Blood and Stone is out on May 1st.

The cover of the e-book The Ganga Shift on a mobile phone next to a grey vase and a read burning candle

The Ganga Shift

Title: The Ganga Shift

Author: Mary Bernsen

Published: Parliament House Press, 2018

The Ganga Shift

Isabella hasn’t had an easy life and this has led her to jail. Because of her background and her limited ties to the outside world, she is chosen for a government funded experiment on gene mutation. Her body however doesn’t react on this treatment as expected and in order to provoke the correct response out of her body she is tossed into a dome together with a group of shifters, whose only goal is to make Isabella shift too – even if they kill her in the process.

My Thoughts

One of the first things I often do when starting a new book is consider the title. In some cases I research it. This was one of those cases. The Ganga Shift. I didn’t know what to put in the word Ganga. And I was also somewhat unsure about Shift. Maybe this stems from me not being a native English speaker, or maybe I am just unschooled in this topic. My research however quikly led me to Hinduism, which I found odd, and I actually sort of dismissed it and instead accepted that I would find out during my read. And I did. And I hadn’t been far off. This amazed me and at the same time it made me so happy! I found it very refreshing to have a different cultural background to this kind of story and I loved that Hinduism played a role in this story.

Throughout the story Isabella grows to face the challenge she is met with and her change is evident. She is a very headstrong character, who is not afraid of asking for help, when she needs it. She is genuine and stubborn, and I found her to be very different from anyone I have ever met/read about before.

Chase and Brayden – her cell mates – are a couple of fun types too. Chase is this calm and controlled being, who meditates and who is very independent. Brayden is anything but. He is a young man with practically no manners (according to Chase) and he is very animalistic. The book changes POV between these three characters which gives a very dynamic reading experience, and also muliple POVs are just brilliant, because it broadens the view of each character, since we both get to follow their own mindset, but we also know what others think about them, despite what comes out of their mouth.

I really loved the Ganga Shift

It was so different, and so spectacular and I seriously loved the Hindu approach. I loved that the main character was a vegetarian, and even though it didn’t play a major role, but were more a character treat, it mattered, because I like when authors challenge conservative tropes.

I loved the love triangle between our main characters, although I am not quite sure I buy into it. The ending was fresh and concise, and despite the fact that I felt there were a few situations that moved by quite fast, it was an altogether marvellous, enthralling and refreshing read that I highly recommend you read!

Should you read it?

My feeling is, that if you enjoyed stories like Twilight, The Hunger Games, Song of Blood and Stone etc. then you will probably also enjoy this one. If you enjoy a headstrong female lead, a small love triangle, sci-fi books on DNA-alteration and paranormal shifting stories, then this could very well be a story you would also enjoy! And if you on top of that also like a book filled with cultural references, then I am sure you will love this!

Thanks

I would like to thank Parliament Hous Press for letting me review a copy of this book! I have been eyeing it since they announced the cover reveal of this book in January and I am so glad that I finally got to read it, and that it was such an amazing experience!

The Kindle verison of Wildwood's cover in black and white

Wildwood

Author: Jadie Jones

Published: Parliament House, 2017

Series: The Hightower Trilogy

Wildwood

Tanzy is a young girl at around 18 years who lives with her mum, who prefers to stay indoors at home, and dad, who owns a horse farm named Wildwood, where he fully invests his time outside of the family. One day however, something terrible happens; Tanzy loses her father and is dragged in to a long period of sorrow where her mother retreats and leaves Tanzy to fight on her own. This is very tough to read about and Jones has written this exceptionally well! We feel the despair that Tanzy goes through and it is hard to see how she will ever pull through.

My Thoughts

Wildwood was an amazing page-turner and I was thoroughly consumed by Jones’ incredible story!

Tanzy is in many ways a very relatable character, I do however think, that she turns a little more than slightly annoying towards the end of the book. She misses vital and obvious clues that could help her on her way, and she sometimes act a lot younger than her age in that she reacts on pure emotion rather than rationally. This I felt was quite disturbing to my liking of her character. Despite this fact, I really loved the story! The ending left me a little deflated, since a lot of new things and characters were suddenly introduced, but I guess that is to be expected when there are more books in the series.

Jadie Jones has written a marvellous fantasy story that can appeal to a lot of different people. It is hard to know what will happen next, and Jones has created the feeling that the reader is just as lost as Tanzy is, when she is introduced to the bigger picture. It is hard to know who to believe. The story unfolds so deliberately that parts of it reminded me of how J.K. Rowling managed to weave in hints and plot twists in the Harry Potter series. Again, the only regrettable thing about this is how slow Tanzy is to pick up on these clues.
But I for one will be moving quickly on to the next in the series!

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy a good fantasy story that at the same time deals with universally human topics such as grief, this will probably be a good read for you. If you at the same time enjoy a book that leaves little hints to figure out the plot every now and then, then this book would be a good one for you to get your hands on. The story flows from page to page and I sincerely had a hard time putting it down, whenever I had to stop reading (you know, when life gets in the way and you have to go to work or eat dinner or sleep). More than once the book reminded me of the Harry Potter series – not in its use of magic at all, but in the way that Jadie Jones has built up her world and her story.

Thanks

I was kindly send this copy by the Parliament House in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

If you have become interested in this book, you can read more about Wildwood on Goodreads by clicking here.

Four books, here amongst A WIld and Unremarkable Thing, on a green background.

A Wild and Unremarkable Thing

Author: Jen Castleberry

Published: Parliament House, 2017

A WIld and Unremarkable Thing

A Wild and Unremarkable Thing is truly a remarkable story. My biggest fear while reading was that the book would not be long enough. And it wasn’t!

We follow Cody/Cayda, who has been trained by her father for the past fifteen years to be able to kill a Fire Scale; one of the dragons that come out every fifteenth year to mate. She has lived her life like a boy for just as long, because no girl could ever hope to claim the winning prize for slaying a Fire Scale.

The time finally comes for Cody/Cayda to begin her journey. Her father, who has been quite hard on her, lies injured at home, so she has to go alone. On her way to the town of Yurka she meets Penn, who accompanies her.

Meanwhile we also follow Fares, the crown prince, and Wolfe, his best friend, who decides that he will become a champion and slay a Fire Scale.

My Thoughts

The story is an incredible page-turner and from the moment you turn the first page you will have entered the spectacular world of A Wild and Unremarkable Thing, where you will find yourself until you turn the very last page.

I really found this story enthralling and I love the way Castleberry has woven her sentences together. It creates a dynamic read and keeps the story fast paced. Moreover, I enjoyed the multiple point of views that add a certain “layeredness” to the story, since we follow different people’s thoughts and actions.

Cody/Cayda is very easily loved and really brings a lot of character to the story. I hope there will be more to read about her some day. Despite being raised as a boy for the majority of her life, it seems that deep down she has no doubt that she is a girl, but she also knows that she will live her entire life as a boy/man if it means her family will be saved from poverty and her sisters can refrain from selling themselves to the men in town.

Penn is a mysterious character, but also easily liked. He is beyond fascinated with Cody/Cayda and it is very interesting to see the impact she has on him. Moreover, it is amazing to see his character unfold.

Wolfe is a silly character, but I really liked him too! He is the stereotypical “academic”, who doesn’t see that the world is different from how it seems to be in the books he always reads. He is persistent in his decision to become a champion even when his friends laugh at him. He doesn’t take any advice from others, but fully believes that the answer is in his book. Despite his stubborness, which could at times really annoy me, I really enjoyed his passages. Maybe this has partly to do with Fares, his friend, who was such a goof.

The characters were often quite superficial and normally that would bother me, but A Wild and Unremarkable Thing has this “fairytale”-like sense, which made it completely okay. I think.

My only complaint is that the book ended when it did. It felt too rushed, and I could have easily read an entire new book about what would happen next.

Should You Read It?

Well, yes. I would very much suggest that you read it if you enjoy a good fairytale or fantasy story. If you enjoy a good laugh while also being quite serious. It isn’t just this magical story about slaying dragons. It is also a powerful story, however slightly underplayed, about gender identity, family and friendship. And it is the story of doing the right thing no matter the costs and a story about proving one’s worth.

Furthermore, Castleberry writes marvelously and the various points of views make the story flow incredibly fast and easy. I loved this story and I will definitely read it again some day!

I sincerely hope this is not the last I will hear from Jen Castleberry!

Begin Again by Mona Kasten on a wooden table next to a flower

Begin Again

Author: Mona Kasten

Published: Bastei Entertainment, 2017

Series: Again #1

I first saw Begin Again in an Instagram post by Buecherpalast (who by the way has an amazing feed) and was sold immediately by its amazing cover! After a while though, I realised that the book was only available in German and although I understand German alright I am nowhere near being able to read a book in German. However, a little over a week ago I realised that Begin Again had been published in English and I quickly applied and was approved for an EARC by Bastei Entertainment through Netgalley – which by the way was amazing and so unexpected!

It took me only a few days to read it, but had I not been on a road trip for two of those I would have read it in one sitting.

Begin Again – The Book

Allie is a strong young woman, who moves to Woodshill, Oregon to get away from her family and begin her own life as the person she feels she wants to be.
Kaden is the brusque and handsome young man, who owns the apartment, that Allie hopes to rent a room in for the duration of her college time in town.
Of course there’s tension between them from the start and Kaden comes across as being very arrogant, authoritative and even sort of sexist. Allie takes his behaviour because of her desperate need for a place to stay, but also because of her sincere physical attraction to him, which is at times almost erotic to read about.
Kaden slowly warms to her presence and begins to take her places and show her the town, all while Allie is making great friends on her own.

The scenes between Kaden and Allie are written extremely well, and as a reader you can feel the electricity between the two roomies and the attraction between them that Allie tries to ignore. As Allie is trying to start her new life, even the reader is kept in the dark about her past, and must wait for her to be ready to unfold her past life to us as well as her friends.

My Thoughts

This was such a sweet read and I was hooked from the very beginning to the end. Surely we’ve read about these type of characters before: The young woman, who wants to create her own life, and the apparently strong young man with a bad boy attitude and a broken soul beneath, who merely needs to heal before being the perfect guy. This does not mean that the book doesn’t have to be read though, since Kasten writes amazingly well and creates wonderful characters that you want to follow! I especially liked the relationship between Allie and Kaden, which was described so vividly. This is also one of those books that introduce the reader to diversity without pushing it down one’s throat, which I felt was refreshing.

Begin Again is the first book in the Again-series and the next two have quickly become highly anticipated reads of mine! I constantly wanted to know more about the lead characters and to see how their lifes unfolded. I sincerely hope that it will be published in Danish sometime soon.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy stories like Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James or the After-series by Anna Todd, then I really think you would enjoy Begin Again. I know I did and am now impatiently waiting for the rest of the series to be translated into English (or Danish if any publishing houses here would be interested).

A book on a flowery background with a set of headphones attached to it

Audiobooks – or no audiobooks

I love to read, but I must admit that sometimes it would be nice to read a good story without sitting still. I’ve tried reading while walking to and from school, but honestly it is not a very good combination. Not only do you get easily distracted from your reading, but you do not pay nearly enough attention to the traffic. I don’t even walk that much anymore. Either I take the train, where I can read, or I bike, where I cannot read. Enter: Audiobooks.

Audiobooks

I was never the big fan of audiobooks, actually. Don’t get me wrong; I think the idea is amazing! I just tend to let my mind wander, when I listen to audiobooks. Which leads me to be (slightly) confused when my mind finds its way back to the story. However, this year I decided to try listen to them again. Really try. Earlier I have listened to Passing by Nella Larsen, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I also started Half Bad by Sally Green, but quickly decided to read that one myself. Not so long ago I tried to listen to Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, but had to give up, because my mind wandered. That’s it. My entire experience with audiobooks. Passing was quite good actually! The next ones not so much. This year I’ve bought 70 audiobooks. Yes I know, it’s only January, but I really want to give it a go!

Stalker

One evening a few weeks ago I was home alone. While eating my dinner in heavy silence I decided to put on an audiobook instead of turning on the radio or putting on some music. I chose Stalker by Michella Rasmussen (read by Kristina Pfeil Nielsen) and it didn’t take long for me to absolutely love it! The story was absolutely enthralling and if my boyfriend hadn’t come home and told me to go to sleep, I would have stayed up the entire night listening to the story. It was seriously amazing! The book is in Danish, but if you know Danish I recommend you listen to (or read) this one!

Stalker is about a young girl named Julie, who suddenly finds herself the attention of an unknown admirer. At first she feels flattered and finds it very exciting. Later however, she begins to see how her admirer is actullay quite creepy, and she realises that some of the things this admirer does are harmful. It dawns on her that this admirer is not just any admirer; it’s a stalker, who will do anything to get close to her.

Concurrently, a boy from Julie’s school begins to take an increasing interest in her. At first he doesn’t quite understand why he does the things he does, but later he begins to realise that there is an undeniable connection between him and Julie. He sees the pain she is in when no-one else does and he knows that he will do anything to protect her from harm.

Or no audiobooks

Having listened to Stalker I was convinced that I had made a mistake not listening to more audiobooks in my life. I was so happy I had bought a lot, because now I could listen to them all the time. Soon after, I started another book by a Danish author, namely Dæmonherskerens arving #3: Sjælens pris by Haidi Wigger Klaris. I read the first two books in the trilogy last year, but never got around to reading the third one and so I figured I might as well listen to it.

I am no more than twenty minutes into the story and I have had to stop. It is just….. I am sorry to say this, because I really don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, but honestly; this audiobook made me realise how much it means that it is the right person reading the book aloud. It is so awful. I really feel like the woman on the recording wants nothing to do with the book and that she was forced to make the recording. Her voice is completely flat. There is no trying to emphasise the main character’s emotions. And I mean, the main character has just made a choice that will forever keep her away from her friends and the family she has ever known. Her choice will tie her to a world she hates and a fate she hates, and she made her choice only because there was no other way she could save her friends. Yet, the speaker could have just as well read a recipe for homemade pasta aloud. There is just no spark.

That is the question

This broke my spirit a little. I started another recording, but more than halfway through the book I have realised that I don’t particular like the book, which doesn’t make the audiobook experience any better.

Do you have any amazing experiences with audiobooks that you can recommend I listen to? I would really love to hear your suggestions, since I really want to love the concept of audiobooks. I really want to be able to listen to a book on my bike ride to and from work, or when I go for a walk. Honestly, the concept of audiobooks is great! I just keep feeling disappointed by the fact that only a few recordings seem to be amazing, while so many others seem to be only half decent.

The crime fiction book Ligblomsten by Anne Mette Hancock on a flowery background next to a bookmark

Ligblomsten

Author: Anne Mette Hancock

Published: Lindhardt og Ringhof, 2017

The book

Ligblomsten (Titan Arum – look it up, you’ll be surprised) is the first crime novel from Anne Mette Hancock. We follow Heloise, a journalist who has recently had some credibility issues at her work place. Heloise is a young and sturdy woman, who suddenly finds herself entwined in an old murder case, because she begins to receive letters from a woman named Anna Kiel. The woman who is wanted for a murder commited years ago. With the help of policeman Erik Schäfer she tries to unfold the mystery that connects her to this old case and the killer on the run.

My thoughts

I loved this one. Okay, there I said it – you can stop reading the review now.

No really, I really enjoyed this book so much. I have had cravings for crime fiction for months now, but had some other books I needed to finish, yet after Christmas I found some time to get started. And what a start.

Ligblomsten is told through various points of views, which is something I am often very fond of, because it adds perspective to the story. In a crime novel it also adds mystery through ‘the pronoun game’. You know, when everybody is always referring to “he” and “him”, but never mentioning a name or something personal that will make you realise who is in fact talked about. That ‘pronoun game’. This is no exception, and Hancock makes it work. I was constantly trying to figure out who was connected to whom, and who “he” could be.

At the same time the story is carried by a varied gallery of characters, who are actually very believable and likeable. I didn’t get very far into the story before I thought: “Oh no, I am going to hate this person.” But I didn’t. Despite the character having traits that I normally find very annoying in book characters.

I liked that we mostly follow Heloise instead of the investigators, since it made the story much more suitable for us laypeople. Crime novels tend to be a little to heavy on the police/investigation perspective, and then they lose me. This book however managed to balance the two worlds to perfection. In doing this, we readers are introduced to the private lives of Heloise and Schäfer, which adds to their character and gives us a deeper understanding of the two.

Both Heloise and Schäfer are very likeable, and as I have already mentioned, they are also very believable characters. I really look forward to reading a lot more about these two and the adventures (or horrors) they’ll come across!

This is by far not the last book by Anne Mette Hancock that I will read.

Should you read it

I gave this book five stars on Goodreads and if you like a well-planned plot, an exciting and well-written story that is hard to figure out you should read this one. Moreover, the characters felt very human, and that just makes the reading experience so much better. Whether or not you like these characters has an impact on your experience too, of course, but I am positive that both hardcore crime fiction fans as well as new and curious crime fiction readers will find this book exciting and wonderful!

The Danish book "Kopierne" in a tree.

November Wrap Up

Not only was November a month where I bought a lot of books, I also managed to actually read more than I do on average in a month. In this wrap up I will give some explanation as to why I chose to read the books I read, but also provide you with a short summary of the book and further bring you my opinion on it.

Desert Skies, Rebel Souls

This book was generously gifted to me by the author M. P. Tonnesen in relation to the book’s release date in exchange for a review. I also got the opportunity to ask Michelle some questions to an interview I brought as a part of the book launch blog tour that was arranged. You can read the interview here.

Desert Skies, Rebel Souls is a story about the young Danish girl Olivia, who travels to Israel in search of herself; trying to run away from her parents’ expectations at home. She works at a kibbutz, where she crosses paths with the young and handsome Chaim. It is practically love at first sight, and Olivia is whirled into his world one kiss at a time. However Chaim has to leave for the army and in the meantime Olivia backpacks through the Middle East with two of her backpacking friends.

It is a very sweet story, with all the ups and downs that do necessarily follow in a love story like this. I very much enjoyed Olivias story, and I loved all the descriptions of the beautiful places she visits. I never truly felt the depth of her relationship with Chaim, though, but that has a lot to do with this whole “love at first sight” concept. And also a little to do with morals…. 😉

Mostly, it just made me want to pack my bags and travel the world; travel the Middle East. <3

Fandens fødselsdag (The Devil’s birthday)

This book I chose, because I had to read aloud to some of the children at my school. November is the month of literature and the pupil’s read, read, read all through the month. Twice the teachers read to them instead. In larger groups, where the children could go sit and listen to the story they felt like hearing at the moment. It is a very good event, I believe!

Anyhow, I chose to read Fandens fødelsdag to them, which is a sweet story about the Devil, who always gets what he wishes for, but this year something is still amiss. Then a little (naughty) angel girl swings by and celebrates Fandens birthday with him. She arranges a treasure hunt and practically bosses the poor devil around. In the end though, she is called back to Heaven and Fanden tells his parents that he wishes for friends to come over for his birthday.

I liked this story so much. There is so many things to discuss. Mostly though, the children thought it was funny, which is also very important when reading books: we need to enjoy them.

Kopierne (The Copies)

This book I had to read for my studies.

In Kopierne we follow Jonas, who it turns out, is actually a copy of the real Jonas, who suddenly returns. Jonas (the copy) then flees in order to avoid being killed, which is what is done when a copy is no longer needed. He runs into the woods, where he meets Ian – another copy (and later a third boy/copy joins them). Together they travel through the woods while trying to keep themselves together, in hopes of finding a ship. It is dangerous though, because they are still being hunted by the men, whose job is to kill them, but in the woods they must also be aware of boars. Slowly the boys start to lose themselves and staying sane is suddenly more necessary than finding the ship. Yet, without the ship there seems to be no hope.

This was a horrific story, that had me thinking a lot about many different things. Like; what kind of society accepts the use of copies when their own children are away e.g. due to hospitalisations? Why is a copy needed? Why do te copy need to be so human, that they will fight for their survival? And how can parents dismiss a copy so easily, when they seem so real?

And those were the questions I had only twenty pages into the story.

I really liked this one! I am a big fan of books where form and content are mutually exclusive. We can see how Jonas slowly degenerates in the chapters. The sentences. The headlines even. However, this story was very hard to read. Children being rejected hurts me so deeply, and this was a book about an entire community – world maybe even – where everybody thought it alright to stop caring about a person, simply because it is a copy, who is no longer needed.

Intet (Nothing)

The fourth book I read this month was also for my studies.

In Intet we follow a group of kids from the seventh grade in ground school, who come together in trying to show one of their classmates that something matters. This particular classmate had left class stating that: Nothing matters, and so nothing is worth doing. The rest of the pupils in the class try to gather items that really mean something to them, however they do not choose themselves what matters, but someone else in the class points to them and tells them what to put into the pile of things that matter. It all though, turns into a horrible episode of bullying and … *sigh*

When I closed the book I thought: “hm.. njaeh.. I don’t know.” ’cause I really didn’t know what I thought of it. The kids were awful, and I couldn’t help but to think where all of the adults were. Who could simply just let this happen? At the same time, I found it to be one of those books that were not written to be enjoyed, but merely written to be worked with. Written to provoke, to spark some thoughts, to question something. And maybe I just questioned the wrong things.

Now I actually sort of like it. Well, it is still an awful story, and I still have doubts about using it when teaching myself. Mostly because I think the book says so many things, that  do not think, I can talk about with my classes. I fear too many will not get the book, and I fear they will instead just feel horrified or bored.

Spektrum: Ursiderne

I read the first two in the Spektrum series a few months ago and really liked them. Now I finally got my hands on the third one.

In Usiderne we follow Nasrin, who is new to the group. Nasrinlives with her father, who is never home, and her late mother’s friend, who takes care of Nasrin. Nasrin lost her mother some years ago in a terrible accident and the loss has made Nasrin very reticent and destructive. In this book the group digs deeper into the mystery that was (briefly) introduced in Geminiderne (Spektrum 2). This search for answers are very important to Nasrin, because it helps her understand more about her mother’s death, but the group – and especially one of them – plays an important part in Nasrin’s self healing.

Nasin is by far a much more destructive character than we have encountered before, but I really liked her. Not as much as I liked Emilie and Pi (especially Pi) from the earlier books, but I really do think that the author Nanna Foss has extraordinary character creating skills! She manages to write characters that are truly honest and believable; and so easy to identify with. Moreover she dares to end her book(s) with a cliff hanger, so great it should be illegal! I am so enthralled by her writing and I cannot wait to read the next in the series!

 

A young woman (me) reading a book in the forest

Desert Skies, Rebel Souls

I have had the fantastic opportunity of interviewing M.P. Tonnesen, author of “The Cosmopolitan Islander”, in connection with the publication of her newest novel: “Desert Skies, Rebel Souls”. You can read her answers below, and at the end of this post I’ve put a short review of the book and a few links to buy it in case you feel inspired to do so. Enjoy 🙂

M.P. Tonnesen

The author M. P. Tonnesen

M.P. Tonnesen is a writer and businesswoman living on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. She was born in Denmark, but grew up in a multicultural family and has lived in Brussels, the Middle East, and London before moving to the island with her family in 2011.

She authors contemporary and women’s fiction with an adventurous twist. Her books are inspired by her experiences working, living and travelling around the world.

She enjoys reading and telling good stories, travelling and eating dark chocolate. She also dabbles in yoga, pilates and juggling two kids.

Interview

Tell us something about yourself, that not many people know about you.
I love stripes! On bedlinen, cushions, tea towels, table cloths – and mainly my clothes. I must have a gazillion Breton striped tops and dresses! I think (read: wish!) I was Coco Chanel in my previous life – or a sailor 😉 They just make me happy, calm and comfortable.

When was your first book published and how was the process of getting it published?
My debut novel, “The Cosmopolitan Islander”, was published in November 2015. I self-published via Amazon’s company CreateSpace. One of the things holding me back from starting to write years ago was the worry of not being accepted by a publisher and the struggle to get past the piles of other manuscripts and rejection letters, through that tiny keyhole to become a published author. Luckily, things have changed so much in the industry over the last 10 years with the advent of the e-book making publishing much more accessible. This does not mean self-publishing is the easy route. It was definitely a steep learning curve! There are lots of new challenges and potential pitfalls every day. I like having control of the process, but it also means a lot of work for a one-woman-army. Plus, self-publishing is not the gold rush it initially was. There are so many self-published books out there now of varying quality, it can be very difficult to stand out from the crowd. Self-publishing is a tough, but fun challenge.

When did you first know, that you wanted to be an author?
Words and playing with them have always been a great interest of mine. I learned to read and write at the age of four and I haven’t stopped since. I am a linguist at heart, grew up in a bilingual family, and speak four languages. I have written for many years, but it was primarily non-fiction; academic papers and corporate communication. Some years ago I had a career break during which I reflected on what to do with my life and what would bring me happiness – a lot like Chloe, the protagonist in my debut novel. I did not have the courage or financial stability back then to take that first step which I was finally able to do years later – starting with a few scribbles in a notebook and a writing course at London School of Journalism which whet my appetite further. When we moved to the island it opened the door for me to the opportunity of being more serious about my writing. I was lucky to become a writer here for Gallery and Agenda Magazines, alongside working on my novels and running my consulting business.

What inspires you to write?
Writing is like dreaming in a waking state. You tap into those deeper layers of your imagination and emotions to create a world. My whole cast of characters and their stories are inspired by lots of different people and events – real as well as fictional. TV series, films, current and historical events, friends, family, random strangers in the street, park, restaurant or when travelling – they have all inspired me and triggered different scenes and feelings I could channel into my novels. I was shamelessly hooked on the series Scandal when I started writing Desert Skies, Rebel Souls which is where I got Olivia’s name from 😉 I’m also a big Outlander fan and was keen to emulate the amazing chemistry between Claire and Jamie. I hope I’ve managed to channel even just half of their passion into my characters!

What’s the best advice you can give aspiring writers?
I believe most people have a story in them, but few get the chance to express it. It takes time and dedication – and a bit of wordsmithing skills. But go for it! Nothing ventured, nothing gained is my motto. Persistence is the key throughout – from actually completing a piece of writing to getting it out there to potential readers. Whether you are self-published or traditionally published, authors are expected to promote themselves and their books today. The key thing to remember is: Sell one book at a time. When I was knocking on the doors of bookshops, a supportive soul at Daunt Books in London told me: It’s a marathon – not a sprint. I have found that a really helpful mantra.

What can we expect from your new book?
Desert Skies, Rebel Souls is a unique coming-of-age story of self-discovery and rebellion. It is set in the Middle East and follows the journey of a young woman, Olivia, from Denmark to a region rich in history, culture, conflict and passion. A whirlwind romance with a local kibbutznik, Chaim, takes a dramatic turn, leaving her caught between countries, belonging nowhere, and with the love of her life in danger far away. She explores magnificent historical sights and cultural experiences, encounters the dangers of travelling unaccompanied in a male-dominated society, as well as questions the concepts of hatred, fate, war and peace. It is a bittersweet love story set under the desert sky, against the backdrop of music and key events of the nineties – to be enjoyed by adventurous globetrotters and readers longing to escape. “Desert Skies, Rebel Souls” will be released on 10/11/17, and is available for order now from my website mptonnesen.com I hope you will enjoy it!

What is your favourite book?
One of the few books to which I keep returning is The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes. I really enjoy his musings around time, being and novels, as well as his style and language which are very succinct and even melancholic. I look forward to watching the movie version starring Jim Broadbent!

What are you currently reading?
Swing Time by Zadie Smith. I had the great pleasure of meeting her in Denmark this summer at Louisiana Literature Festival. She not only signed her own book, but also my debut novel! It was a surreal, but magical fangirl moment.

What is your favourite reading snack or accessory?
My own mix of organic almonds and raisins – and dark chocolate, of course!

If anything was possible, what could then be a perfect day for you? What would you do, where would you go?
I would lounge in the sun on an exotic island, reading books, eating delicious food and just looking at the mesmerising endless shades of blue as I listen to the calming sounds of the sea.

Now, tell us a six-word story 🙂
She wrote “Goodbye” with his blood.

Desert Skies, Rebel Souls

My thoughts

The front cover of Desert Skies, Rebel Souls

“Desert Skies, Rebel Souls” is a beautiful travel story about rebelling against the expectations of others, about love and clash of cultures. We follow the main character Olivia, a Danish girl, on her travel to Israel. She is fighting to find her own way through life instead of following the norms and expectations of her family. In Israel she connects with a young man, who becomes a very important part of Olivia’s discovery and her road to self-reliance.

The descriptions of the places that the main character Olivia visits are written so well and so beautifully that I felt an urge to go see them for myself when reading about them. Yet I can relate to the insecurities that follow young women travelling on their own and do not miss that part of travelling.

Like in The Cosmopolitan Islander, M.P. Tonnesen manages to write a believable main character, whom I both like and dislike; which is a strength I really appreciate. It gives a depth to the characters and makes them seem more real to me. I love when characters are flawed and I love a good story about personal development.

If you enjoy a good love story, reading about travels and to get the sweet feeling of wanderlust from a book, I can recommend you read “Desert Skies, Rebel Souls”. It will take you places if only you let it. The book is an easy-read that wants to make sure the story is told just right, in order to give the reader a great reading experience.

OKay, so how do you get your hands on it?

“Desert Skies, Rebel Souls” is released today and is thus available for purchase right now! You can find the kindle edition right here, but it is also available for other e-book channels. As mentioned in her interview it is also possible to order a physical copy from her website, but this can also be done from your preferred Amazonsite.

Blog tour

Remember to swing by TripFiction and Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews today for more thoughts on “Desert Skies, Rebel Souls” and have a look at the this blog tour schedule to see who to visit next:

A list of the blogs that participate in this blog tour along with the dates each blog participates

Thanks

On a final note I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the author for letting me interview her and for sharing herself with me and you guys. I want to thank her for sending me an ARC of the book and I am grateful that she was interested in hearing my thoughts on her book baby “Desert Skies, Rebel Souls”.
I sincerely appreciate working with her on this blog tour and wish her all the best!

The book Provinspis on a table next to a passport.

Provinspis

Author: Ditte Wiese

Published: Carlsen, 2017

Serie: Sonar

Provinspis – the book

Ida is a young girl living in a Danish province. Her mother, who is French, left many years ago after having withered away in Denmark for a long time. Ida mostly feels the same way about the small town that she lives in; it is boring as hell. Luckily her best friend Jon lives only 185 steps further down her street and she is always welcome at his place, which she benefits from on the nights where her own house is filled with the yelling of her dad and his girlfriend. Ida dreams of the day she can leave the town behond and travel out into the world; she just has to finish gymnasiet (high school/upper secondary)! She spends a lot of time working in the local grocery store, in order to save up for the travels she plans. And she needs to survive the boredom, which she does through sex, drugs and alcohol.

But something happens. Like things always do. Finishing her education suddenly doesn’t seem so easy. Being friends with Jon is suddenly not so easy; especially not while he is hooking up with Ida’s only girlfriend. Yet growing up means dealing with these kinds of things, and so Ida does. The only way she knows how.

my thoughts

(be aware of possible spoilers)

I was swept away by Ida and her struggles. To be honest, I don’t think I would have befriended Ida had I known her, which makes me feel sad, because she really needs a proper friend. My heart broke a little all the time she was left on her own. Even when she, in some way, caused it herself. The story is told through Ida’s point of view, which creates a beautiful layered experience, when reading the story, because everything is told through her language. I loved how the book slowly builds up to something, that I had a hard time figuring out, and at times I honestly felt as confused as Ida, which is why I never really believed myself, when I thought I knew what would happen next.

Provinspis is both a beautiful and an awful story about growing up and finding yourself in the world. Ida says: “The meaning of life is to be other places“, which I feel is so essential to the character of Ida. Even when she genuinly enjoys herself in the small town, she needs to get away. In many ways her story reminds me of Edith Wharton’s “Summer”, where the main character Charity constantly searches for the place she belongs; the place she can call home. Ida is searching for the same thing, really. Believing she will find herself, when she gets to the right place. Believing that there is so much of her mother in her, that she will never find peace in a small town in one of the provinces of Denmark.

Should you read it?

Provinspis is an honest story. The language is youthful, which is important since the target group is young adults. Ida is an average girl, who most young adults will be able to identify with. She is strong and outgoing, yet vulnerable and insecure. Everybody can benefit from reading this. The younger ones can maybe identify with Ida or one of the other characters in the book, which can sometimes help them in their own search for themselves. Parents can get some insight into the mind of a young girl, which may help them through their child’s process of growing up. Everybody will get an exceptionally brutally honest and wonderful reading experience, where the more experienced reader wil notice the layers, use of language and how the text combines form and content.

So the short answer is: Yes, you should read it.