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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker (@JoelDicker) A demanding mystery recommended to writers and lovers of complex stories #mystery

Hi all:

Today I bring you the review of a book that had been on my mind for a while…

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

A crime story. A love story. More than 2 million copies sold worldwide.

And now a major 10-part MGM TV series starring Patrick Dempsey and Ben Schnetzer.

August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.

That summer, struggling author Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard, along with a manuscript copy of the novel that made him a household name. Quebert is the only suspect.

Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon merge into one. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of ‘The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America’.

But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.

The film is directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud (Seven Years in Tibet) and released on 23 August on SkyWitness.

The Baltimore Boys, a follow-up to the bestselling The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, is published in paperback.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Truth-about-Harry-Quebert-Affair-ebook/dp/B00ELIF0WK/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Truth-about-Harry-Quebert-Affair-ebook/dp/B00ELIF0WK/

Author Joel Dicker
Author Joel Dicker

About the author:

Joël Dicker was born in Geneva in 1985, where he studied Law. THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR was nominated for the Prix Goncourt and won the Grand Prix du Roman de l’Académie Française and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens. It soon became a worldwide success in 2014, publishing in 42 countries and selling more than 3.5 million copies. In the UK it was a Times number one bestseller, and was chosen for the Richard and Judy Book Club as well as Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 Book Club.
In May 2017 his novel THE BALTIMORE BOYS, already making waves across Europe and number one in several countries, will be published for the first time in English. Both a sequel and a prequel to THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR, it will centres around traumatic events that blight the lives of the Baltimore branch of Marcus Goldman’s family.
In the meantime Joël has become “brand ambassador” for the Citroen DS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTKep1n4kFU

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jo%C3%ABl-Dicker/e/B005ZKGZWM/

My review:

I’m not sure if it was the cover (the old cover) of this book, or the title, the fact that wherever I went (Spain, the UK, France) I saw the same book in airports and bookshops, or a combination of all that together with the blurb of the book, but I had been curious about this novel for a long time and, eventually, I got around to reading it.

The book and its author have received many accolades and awards, and it is one of those books that manages to combine a gripping story (a mystery that keeps wrong-footing investigators and readers alike) with an interesting narrator and a clever way of telling the story that becomes a part of the action and almost a character in its own right.

The book is divided into Three Parts (Part One: Writer’s Disease, Part Two: Writer’s Cure, Part Three: Writer’s Paradise), a Prologue, and Epilogue, a first scene, and acknowledgements at the end. In brief, this novel is the story of the writing of a book, the book we have in our hands (we assume) by Marcus Goldman, also known as Marcus the Magnificent (you’ll have to read the book to know more about that, but let’s say that from a very young age, Marcus had been a man with a sense of his own destiny and had realised that there are ways of gaining fame and attracting everybody’s attention that are not all to do with hard work or talent). In part one, after an intriguing initial scene, we meet Marcus –who became famous after publishing his first book– suffering from writer’s block. Almost two years have passed since the publication of his novel (this is 2008), and he is desperate as his publisher has given him a deadline. To try and get out of the situation he goes to visit his writing teacher, Harry Quebert, whom he met at Burrows University, which he attended between 1998 and 2002. He lives in Somerset, Maine, and is happy to see him. While he is there, Marcus makes a discovery about Harry’s life, and as the novel progresses, we learn that there are many more secrets and mysteries hidden behind the letters and pictures he finds. A fifteen-year-old girl, Nola Kellerman, disappeared in 1975 and when her body is discovered in Harry’s property, all hell breaks loose.

The novel, although seemingly divided into the period before the writing of the novel, the actual writing of it, and its publication, keeps jumping backwards and forwards in time, sometimes through the narration of one of the characters (we go back to 1975, there are fragments where we learn more about Marcus’s relationship with Harry during university and in the in-between years, and we also travel to 1985 and to 1969), sometimes through letters and documents, sometimes we get to listen to recordings of interviews, or we get summaries of reports. There are also other written documents referred to throughout the book, the most important, The Origin of Evil, the novel that turned Harry into a famous writer, which everybody refers to as a masterpiece, and that he happened to write in Somerset, in 1975. Marcus narrates the story in first-person, but the fragments that are either written by others or part of his novel, are written in the third person. And there are false starts (as Marcus and later Gahalowood, a cranky but likeable sergeant, uncover new information, the notes and the book gets reframed and rewritten), draft versions, false endings, plenty of misunderstandings and intentional misdirection as well. We get different versions of events, but we also get alternative versions of characters, particularly of Nola, who at times appears as a Lolita, a seductress who could manipulate all adults around her, while at others she is an innocent victim of family and lusty men, or a muse intent on inspiriting a masterpiece, or perhaps just a young scared girl trying to find happiness. Nothing is what it seems to be when we consider both the plot and the characters, and even the basic things we think we know for a fact might require reconsideration.

It is perhaps not evident at the beginning, but each chapter starts with writing advice, that later we understand consists of thirty-one points Harry offers Marcus, starting from number thirty-one and going up the list. As a writer, I feel that most of the points are very insightful, and although most are not terribly personal, some, that we see given in context, later on, help us get a sense of who the characters are, and we come to realise that all the advice is pertinent to the story as well. The book follows its own advice, and it piles layer after layer of story and meaning (like Russian dolls), increasing and releasing the tension as explanation after explanation is given and eventually rejected, and as our expectations and trashed time and again.

The characters are well drawn and even some of the seemingly minor characters end up amazing us when we get to know them better (and believe me, we do). There are surprises, as I said, there is humour (mostly provided by the publisher and by Marcus’s mother, perhaps both these characters are less well drawn and caricature-like, but they are not part of Somerset and the story but instead interfere and distract the writer from his task), there are are many touching moments and those are not limited to the main protagonists either (even the least likeable characters get their spot in the limelight). Despite the repetitions and the jumps in time, the book is not difficult to follow, although it is not easy to keep all the clues in mind and guessing who did what is not simple, Of course, that is the beauty of complex mysteries. I have not read the original version, but I cannot fault the translation into English, and I kept highlighting sentences and paragraphs, some to do with writing, but some with the story.

At times readers will be almost shouting, aligning themselves with the editor, demanding that the book gets finished and there is an end to the story, but the author keeps going, pushing the sense of frustration and the patience of the reader, looping the loop once more. It’s a tour-de-force. As Harry says: Books are like life, Marcus. They never really end. Having said all that, I enjoyed the ending, even if at some points it felt as if I was watching one of those horror movies with monsters in them, where you think they are dead, but no, they keep coming. Here, the different explanations, suspects, and red herrings keep coming as well, but I loved the actual ending (even if some of the details and the explanations stretched a bit the suspension of disbelief, but I won’t go into detail to avoid spoilers).

I recommend this novel to lovers of mysteries looking for a long and involving read that requires your full attention and is fairly demanding, especially if you don’t mind complex narratives and jumps backward and forward in time. I also recommend it to writers who love novels about writers, for the plot, for the format, and for the advice (most of which will make you nod and smile). This book made me think about many other stories: Lolita, Beauty and the Beast, Cyrano de Bergerac… Although the book is not overtly sexually graphic, here goes a word of warning as it does discuss a relationship between an adult male and a young girl, and there are instances of violence and brutal assaults that could be upsetting. The book depicts a world where white men occupy the main active (and alive) roles (Marcus is Jewish and that plays a major part in the jokes about his mother’s behaviour) and in no way challenges gender or diversity prejudices either, but some of the characters offer insightful comments and have positive attitudes.

I thought I would leave you with a couple of quotations, especially dedicated to writers and readers:

You know what a publisher is? He’s a failed writer whose father was rich enough that he’s able to appropriate other people’s talents.

A good book, Marcus, is judged not by its last words but by the cumulative effect of all the words that have preceded them. About half a second after finishing your book, after reading the very last word, the reader should be overwhelmed by a particular feeling. For a moment he should think only of what he has just read; he should look at the cover and smile a little sadly because he is already missing all the characters. A good book, Marcus, is a book you are sorry to have finished.

Thanks to the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, please remember to like, comment, click, and always keep reading, reviewing and smiling!
But, before you go, another one of my books has become available as an audiobook:
The first novel in my YA paranormal trilogy, Angelic Business, now available as an audiobook, narrated by the fabulous Kathy James.

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matter. Audibook. Narrated by Kathy James
Angelic Business 1. Pink Matter. Audiobook. Narrated by Kathy James

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters.

Pink Matters is the story of Pink, a 17-year-old girl, a good student, articulate and smart. But she has never been the centre of attention or made the top ten in the rankings of the most popular and attractive girls at school. When two guys, both claiming to be angels, insist that she is, indeed, ‘special’, fight for her attention and help, and tell her she is the key to the future of the universe, she is quite cynical. But these guys can ‘do’ pretty amazing things, even miracles, so she has to wonder….

Now also available as an audiobook:

AUDIBLE.COM        AUDIBLE.CO.UK       AMAZON.COM      AMAZON.CO.UK

If you have never tried an audiobook, you can get it for free here.

You can listen to a sample here:

And you prefer a YouTube video, here it is:

Thank you!

 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Writing

#Bookreview THE LITTLE BLUE BOOK FOR AUTHORS: ESSENTIAL MANNERS FOR THE MODERN AUTHOR by Gisela Hausmann (@Naked_Determina) Short and packed with useful advice. Because being polite has never hurt anyone #amwriting

Hi all:

This book is recommended for the many authors among my readers. I have read and reviewed some books in this series before, and as this one was free, I could not resist. I’m not sure if it was a temporary offer, but do check it out, just in case!

Book review. The Little Blue Book for Authors: Essential Manners for the Modern Author by Gisela Hausmann
The Little Blue Book for Authors: Essential Manners for the Modern Author by Gisela Hausmann

The Little Blue Book for Authors: Essential Manners for the Modern Author by Gisela Hausmann

Hundreds of thousands of authors try to wow readers, reviewers, and book bloggers. No reader can handle the volume of books they are offered.
Etiquette matters.

Learn from one of Amazon’s top reviewers what to do and what to avoid.
This book includes three different examples of how to turn a “maybe” into a “yes.”

Content:
Be Kind to Yourself
Ban the Word “Automatization” from Your Book Marketing Vocabulary
Put Yourself in Others’ Shoes
Don’t Brag or Lie
Facebook
Blogging
Don’t Just Mention Your Book, Create a “Dating Profile”
It Takes Creativity to Open Doors (Practical Examples)
Lastly – Listen! Listen to Your Friends

Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Little-Blue-Book-Authors-Essential-ebook/dp/B07BBSZWDY/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Blue-Book-Authors-Essential-ebook/dp/B07BBSZWDY/

Author Gisela Hausman
Author Gisela Hausman

About the author:

Gisela Hausmann is a 29 yr. self-publishing industry veteran, an email evangelist, and a top reviewer.

Her work has been featured in regional, national, and international publications including Success magazine (print) and Entrepreneur, on Bloomberg, The Innovation Show – a show for Square Pegs in Round Holes, “The Brutal Truth about Sales & Selling”-podcast, and Austria’s Der Standard and Das Wirtschaftsblatt. Gisela is a graduate of the University of Vienna, Austria.

A unique mixture of wild risk-taker and careful planner, she globe-trotted almost 100,000 kilometers on three continents, including to the locations of her favorite books: Doctor Zhivago’s Russia, Heinrich Harrer’s Tibet, and Genghis Khan’s Mongolia.

Her motto:
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”-Napoleon Hill

For more information about the author please visit her website at www.GiselaHausmann.com

She tweets at @Naked_Determina

https://www.amazon.com/Gisela-Hausmann/e/B000APN192/

My review:

I have read and reviewed two of Gisela Hausmann’s books from her little books collection before (you can read the reviews here) and enjoyed enormously her no-nonsense attitude and the easy-to-use format. These are books that, as the author explains, should take a short time to read (she aims for less than 90 minutes, and I don’t think I’ve gone over 30 minutes for any of them), and the advice offered should be easy to implement, so that anybody who’ve just read one of them could apply what they’ve learned, rather than having to go through a lengthy process, take a course, or make a huge investment. (With regards to this last issue, that does not mean there is no cost involved at all, as in this book she emphasises the importance of finding an editor and states that is much more useful investing your hard-earned cash on that than spending money on things like tools to automatize marketing or on exchanging reviews with other authors).

This book will be appreciated by authors and reviewers alike. I had to smile at her examples of some of the e-mails she has received asking for book reviews. As a book reviewer, I’ve had similar experiences (authors sending an unsolicited copy of the book, without even bothering to find your name, and stating they read your blog, although you’ve never seen them there and from the content of the letter is evident they haven’t) and I can’t but agree with her recommendations to authors. (Although I am an author, other than in my own books and the blog, I rarely approach reviewers directly, but I’ll try and make sure I remember her advice in the future). I really liked her suggestion that we should try to introduce our book as if we were preparing the book for a date, making sure to try and choose the right partner and find the points of connection between our book and the possible date (reviewer). As she puts it:

A creative, exciting, funny, and unique “dating profile” will attract “matching” readers to start a relationship made in “book heaven.”

The author covers etiquette as pertains to various social media as well (Facebook and Twitter) and the etiquette of blogging. Her advice might not suit everybody and I suspect some of her tips might be more or less useful depending on the readership and genre of the author, but I have personally concluded that we must remain true to ourselves, and not just adopt passing fashions because they seem to work for somebody else, and I am with her on the importance of adhering to proper etiquette. (It might seem unnecessary to some people, but I can’t imagine many people will take offence to being treated politely).

This is another solid offering in a series of books for authors that has become one of my favourites, and I recommend it to authors with little time to waste (all of them, I guess) who prefer realistic advice to pie-in-the-sky promises, and who don’t mind some straight-talking (or writing). If you check the sample of the book and like what you read, it is worth following the author as she runs regular promotions and offers of her back catalogue.

Thanks to the author for all her advice, thanks to all of you for reading and please (I’m applying her advice, here), feel free to like, share, comment, click, review, and be happy!

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Booklaunch OPEN LITERARY WORKSHOP by Estrella Cardona Gamio (@EstrellaCG) Common-sense advice for writers #amwriting

Hi all:

I wanted to bring you the launch of one of the books I have translated in recent times. This time I bring you a book about writing, by a very talented and experienced Spanish writer who, after years of publishing books and teaching others how to write, decided to answer some of the questions she’d often been asked by publishing a short book. This is a book full of common-sense, that is a breath of fresh air in these times when everybody is a guru and we are offered fool-proof formulas to write best-sellers at the drop of a hat.

OPEN LITERARY WORKSHOP by Estrella Cardona Gamio

OPEN LITERARY WORKSHOP was born out of the requests of the people who visited our web page www.cgediciones.com; the numerous letters we received asking us questions about how to write in a literary manner gave me a chance to reply, not to each individual person, but to all at the same time, because many of the questions were repeated.
Now, due to the great success of the online and paper Spanish versions of this book, we’ve decided to translate it into English so it can help anybody considering a career in literature in English too.
By chance, if there is such a thing as chance, we were finalizing the details of OPEN LITERARY WORKSHOP in e-book format, when a reader sent me a brief note. I think his words are fair and appropriate, and rather than add anything else, I’ll let them speak for themselves.

“Greetings. My name is Manuel Pozo Gómez. I started writing years ago and while trying to find information on the internet I came across a writing course you had published. Thanks to your guidance I got off to a great start in the world of literature and I wanted to thank you for it. Following your course and its advice, I’ve managed to win some awards. Although it is a simple and straight-forward course, you should not skip a single word. I loved it. Thanks for everything.”

OPEN LITERARY WORKSHOP CONTENT

INTRODUCTION

QUESTION ONE
What do I have to do to become a writer? What steps must I follow?

QUESTION TWO
Which authors should I read?

QUESTION THREE
Should a novelist live dangerously?

QUESTION FOUR
What should I write about and how?

QUESTION FIVE
How do I know if what I write is any good and if it is worth the effort?

QUESTION SIX
How not to write too much; how to synthesize without being too brief?

QUESTION SEVEN
How do we spur our imagination?

QUESTION EIGHT
Which literary bad habits should we avoid?

QUESTION NINE
What should my first and last lines be like?

QUESTION TEN
And what happens when the author is so exhausted that s/he has no ideas?

QUESTION ELEVEN
What is, exactly, a short-story?

QUESTION TWELVE
Are there literatures distinctly male and female?

QUESTION THIRTEEN
How to write a children’s story

QUESTION FOURTEEN
Do writers who start late, in other words, who are no longer young, have any chance at success?

TO CONCLUDE…

Link:

http://relinks.me/B0792R6Q74

I hope you get a chance to check it out and help me spread the word. I enjoyed it enormously and it is particularly useful for people who are keen on writing but have not dared to try yet or people who have been writing for a while but need a bit of inspiration.

Thanks to Estrella and her sister Concha for the opportunity, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, and CLICK!

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