Friday, September 30, 2016

Writers secrets: Ed Graziani about her time travel novels

You probably know alreasy Ed Graziani from my latest Alice - Angel of Time Blog Tour. After the book reviews and the guest post by Ed, I am back with an interview where she shares her writers secrets and the inspiration. 
Enjoy!
PS Thanks again to Writerly Yours for the introduction and the opportunity to get in touch with beautiful books and an inspiring author!
Photos are from Ed Graziani archives.

- What was your inspiration for the Alice' books?

It’s actually quite funny and rather thoughtful at the same time. I was rummaging through my basement cleaning it out one day, when I found an old university essay on ‘Women and the Renaissance’ – my daughters were at an age where their television female idols were questionable – so I decided to write about a 21st century girl who travels back in time to 1512 Florence. I wanted to compare life as women know it now and how it was back them – quite different in terms of freedom, parity to men, etc. I wanted to spark an appreciation for the gains women have made but at the same time entertain.

- How are you usually preparing the historical background?

With much research! I needed to research the timeline of which Medici existed at which time, what was happening in Florence then and when da Vinci happened to be there, too. I also had to research lifestyle, customs, social hierarchy, dress…, even food, to make the book as authentic as possible.

- What is the most difficult part of writing time travel novels?

Probably making it believable, even though the premise is totally outrageous. I didn’t want Alice to just walk into a time-warp in a field or something. I just think my audience is smarter than that. I wanted the science fiction to be rooted in science fact. I felt it had to be so, in order for it to be convincing.

- What are your next writing plans?

I’ve just finished up a multiple edit on my latest novel, ‘Breaking Faith’ which will be released in the Spring of 2017. I’m really excited about this one. It’s a little different than ‘Alice’ in that it is realistic fiction. I do have another book on the back burner, but that’s a long way from being done.

- What is your recommendation for a beginner writer?

I believe that one really must love what they’re writing in order for it to be any good. Write in the genre you love, because your audience can tell when you’re not being true to them. Also, read… a lot! If you read you’ll be a better writer. And don’t be afraid to write from the heart – just write what comes to you – you can always edit later. You can’t edit if there is nothing on the page!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Book review: The Married Man, by Edmund White

I first discovered Edmund White almost by accident, through his insightful account of the years spent in Paris, Inside a Pearl. This book is more than an usual travel account or collection of expat short stories, but an extensive investigation into identity and cultural encounters, spiced up with some stories about his love stories.
With this previous lecture fresh in my mind, my reading of The Married Man was at a certain extent hampered because notwithstandingly I can remember episodes about his adventures or people he featured in the Paris memoir. But there is more to the book that this. 
First, it seems that every word and sentence are carefully crafted, and the result is a piece of literary work, as perfect as a jewel. Every word is used at its place, without too much fluffy pretentiousness or snobbish references. 
Another interesting part of the book deals with the process of redefining identities. The identities in the couple, especially given Julien's heterosexual past, the identities as professionals - Austin as a teacher of humanistic topics in an academic world that couldn't care less, Julien about his architecture profession in France and abroad, the identities of citizens belonging to different cultures and worlds - France versus USA, but also different identities given by the particular time and long-historical frames. All this topics are so dangerous and worned out, the perfect ingredients to produce a stereotypical result that White admirably avoids, by balancing the emotions with intelligence, instead of ending up with verdicts.
It looks like he had the strength and inspiration of an alchemist to filter the good from the unnecessary, using some archetypal French intuition. 
Rating: 5-star books

Bookish travel: Where to buy books in Augsburg

As a dedicated traveller and travel writer, but also a born booknerd, I love to discover not only the history and culture of a place, but also to pay visit to various bookstores, in order to discover local writers and get a glimpse into the reading tastes in a specific place. While in Augsburg this summer, I used my time to have a look at some bookstores. My short-listed destinations for book lovers are as follows:
Situated close to the historical Rathaus - Cityhall, on Annastrasse 20, quite a busy shopping avenue, Schlosser'sche Buchhandlung is a destination for book lovers in this city since 1716. You can find here the best and well awarded books in Germany, alongside international bestsellers, mostly in German translations. I particularly appreciated the rich repertoire of art books. The ambiance is up to the expectations, a very high-end place where book lovers are inspired and guided to find their beloved matched ones books.
As everywhere in Germany, classical bookstores as Thalia.de are also present, but also regional chains, such as the one-storey Bücher Pustet, from Karolinenstrasse, near the Rathaus. The network is also present in other big cities in the area, such as Regensburg and Augsburg. 
If you dream of getting lost into the lecture of a book, with a cup of coffee and some fine pastry near you, Kolonial is the perfect destination. It is situated on the relatively quiet and discrete Mittlerer Lech street and has a fine selection not only of great books, but also of teas and coffees. It offers an intimate ambiance and a being-at-home exquisite feeling. 

What about you, what are your favourite Augsburg bookstores?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Alice Angel of Time Blog Tour: Why you should read this book

 Alice - Angel of Time Blog Tour - #AliceofTime - continues today with a review of the series. If you are looking for an interesting, page turning YA Novel, this is the best choice. Personally, I've read them in two separate days, too curious to see how things are unfolding to go to sleep.
The book tour will continue with an interview with author Ed Graziani, ready to be published the next week! Stay tunned!


                                                       A love from another century

Meet Claudio and Eliza, in the 16th century Florence, whose encounter and love is highly impossible. She is a scullery maid, he is a count, who would imagine them together? Slowly paced at the beginning, the story is becoming more and more mysterious, once we are introduced to the world of the 2029 Alice and her encounter with the handsome Claudio, in Tuscany. She came from her hometown of Toronto to visit relatives and ends up caught into the layers of time and historical intrigues. Because Eliza and Alice are the same person, only a couple of centuries distance. Claudio will convince her of the outstanding destiny and his journey through centuries - using a sophisticated portal developped by the curious Leonardo da Vinci. Together, they return to Florence to render justice. Alice will not only remember her former adventures, but is definitely in love with Claudio, that she has to leave for returning, alone, in her century. I particularly appreciated, besides the love story where the words are so well chosen that you actually feel the deep feeling love of the two of them, without using too much sweetness and kitsch adornments, the interesting scientific references to various space-time variations. The historical ambiance is accurately and carefully described, introducing the young adult reader to a world that might look very unattractive in the history books. The messages regarding women rights and discrimination is also elegantly spread. I only found a bit relatively uninteresting and not too spectacular the 2029 references, incredibly similar with our 2016 times. 


Even if you didn't read the first book of the installment, you have enough references to understand and love Alice Angel of Time too. I personally did at least as much as I appreciated the first book. This time, Claudio and Alice/Eliza are meeting on the other end of the century, as Alice decided to return back in time to bring Claudio with her. Sophisticated references to time travel machines and challenging physics experiments abund, even more as in the first part. The pace starts slow, but ends up with a lot of page turning surprises, until the very ending. Will Alice succeed to save Claudio's life, who was mean to be killed according to the famous Castiglione chronicle of court events? How will she turn back home in her century ? Can history be changed as easily? In addition to the messages of gender equality from the first volume, there are interesting ethical amd moral questions regarding the human nature. It is possible to forgive the bad deeds? How much you can trust someone declaring its desire to repent? 
Overall, I've found that both books to have a story to tell, and the historical and scientific context is created with care and using smart references. The writing is also good and personally, I am looking for more novels by Ed Graziani, either YA historical time travel or just good writing in general.

Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Books offered by the author in exchange of an honest review

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bookish travel: At Brechthaus in Augsburg

In the so-called trade center of Augsburg - Handwerkviertel - Lechviertel, flanked by two of the many water chanels, one can find the Brechthaus, the house where the famous rebel playwriter and theatre director Bertold Brecht was born, on February 10, 1898. It is one of the many modest houses in the area, close to the paper mill where his father used to work and manage later at the beginning of the 20th century. 
Brecht was born in a Catholic-Protestant family. Nowadays, there is more than a school bearing his name. The family leaved the house shortly after his birth. This house hosts nowadays a permanent exhibition about Brecht, as well as books by him. 

Bookish travel: Neue Stadtbücherei Augsburg

Newly renovated and open to the public, the Neue Stadtbücherei - the New City Library - in Augsburg is an invitation and inspiration to reading. It is situated in the central Ernst Reuter Platz no.1, close to the historical city center, on the original location of its first official opening in 1920.
The architectural concept was elaborated by the architecture company Schrammel Architekten, based on the binome: Open Book-Open House (Offenes Buch - Offenes Haus). The main source of light is coming from the geometrically asymetric roof openings, which melts the natural light into the various reflections of the material used to cover the crevasses. Especially during the summer days, the time when I visited the library, it covers the entire building in a warm and cosy light.
The predominant colour is orange, with traces of pistachio green and white, which embraces the entire space into a warming cover. The choice of colours is aimed to outline the feeling of being welcomed, whatever your age and your social status, as long as you love books. During my short stay there, a Friday afternoon, the people were coming and going, bringing or taking home books. The library also has a Lesekaffee - Reading Coffee -, a social meeting point of book lovers from Augsburg. 
This library is one of the four important bookish centers in the city. It has over 170,000 books and almost 200 publications. As in the case of many libraries in Germany - at least this is the case in Berlin -, it uses a high-tech electronic system of registering the delivery and recording the books taken. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

(Too) Good on Paper (to be true)

Job hopping from a month to another, the former PhD student on Dante Shira Green is contacted out of nowhere by the Nobel Prize poet Romei to help him translate from Italian his new book, Vita Nuova - yes, the same name as Dante's famous work. A single mother that saved a paternity arrangement with her gay friend Ahmad, this translation could be her way to get out of the precarious financial life but also to bring her back on the academic track. But Rachel Cantor did not write that kind of easy novel that happily ends when Shira delivers a bright translation after some interior conflicts and maybe some heavy cocktails disappointment nights in the Village. The easy going appearance of the daily life is hidding way too many layers of events, explanations and mystery. Like everyone's life if you are looking for more sense and understanding - even the chances to ever find it are slim once the personal stories are getting more detailed. 
Most of the soliloqui and discussions though are about the meaning and limits of translation, the famous couple traduttore/traditore (which reminds me a lot of early teenage years discussions with my mother about languages). At the end of the book, Shira will declaim: 'There is no true translation, no absolute fidelity', which might also draw the border of the limited understanding that we have when translating our thoughts in the everyday conversation. We never say enough or even worse, we are often misunderstood when using other language than the mother tongue.
But the book is even more than that. I particularly loved the natural way in which the intellectual questions and discussions - big big ones, about life and sense and other delicious stuff - is insidiously entering the daily conversations. On the way to ordering a coffee, in the middle of a sleepless night. There is no haughtiness and emphasis and a special room with Louis XV upholstery and tapestry where such thoughts are developped. 
Plus, there is more than one mystery and a secret - how and why Romei found Shira - in the book. But Shira succeeds to fly freely between a story and a new discovery, as a veritable luftmensch she actually is. Her best and permanent lifetime assignment. 
Such books embellish your everyday life, regardless how good of paper it might look like.
Rating: 5 stars

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Wild Writing Life Guest Post – Alice and Claudio’s Urban Modern-Day Florence

Welcome to my first installment of #AngelofTime book blog tour, skilfully organized by Writerly Yours Book Club. In the next days, you will read more than a post dedicated to this beautiful time travel novel where love, history and action will not let you put the books down too easyly. Although the holidays are almost over, there is always time for a good book and the more I advance with the reading the more I am tempted to keep reading and reading.
As I always find interesting to explore the genesis of books, how writers are documenting the writing particularly, I am happy to share E.Graziani experience that kindly accepted to write a guest post for WildWritingLife!
Happy reading and see you soon with a review and an author's interview too in the very next days!

A Virtual Tuscany Tour with Ali and Claudio ...

Hello to my good friend Ilana and all her followers. Many thanks for hosting me on this blog tour celebrating the launch of my newest title, the sequel to Alice of the Rocks… Alice-Angel of Time in which the conclusion of Alice and Claudio's journey is available for all to read!

The theme of the blog tour is A Virtual Tuscany Tour with Ali and Claudio ... I thought that since I recently traveled to Italy, that I would share some pics that relate directly back to my novel, Alice-Angel of Time. I hope they inspire you to pick up a copy!

I also want to send out a huge thank you to Priya Prithviraj, of Writerly Yours (writerlyyoursco.blogspot.ca) for putting all this together. This blog tour would not have happened if it were not for Priya and Jennifer Jaquith, my managing editor at Morning Rain Publishing. Go to the Writerly Yours website for a full schedule of the entire tour – there are lots of interviews, reviews and other great stuff, so you can backtrack and check out all the lovely pics and fun posts!

So now, on with the post – Alice and Claudio’s story is set in Florence (no surprise there!) I love the art, wealth of history and richness of culture that defines this ancient Italian city, which is one of the reasons I set my books there, but I also love the current vibrancy and fast-paced lifestyle. It is a hub for shopping, nightlife and tourism. The following pics will show Florence’s modern-day face as Ali and Claudio would have seen it!

The first pic is of one of Florence’s oldest streets, leading to the Ponte Vecchio – it is a Lungarno street, which means literally ‘along the Arno’, the river running through Florence. Ali and Claudio would have travelled this street to get to the Uffizzi and the Palazzo Pitti. 


The next pic is of the ‘Old Palace’ now Florence’s City Hall and an iconic presence in the main piazza – it was the home of the Medici, and Claudio before the Pitti Palace. 


The last pic is of the Porta Rossa (actually it is the Porta Romana – Porta Rossa does not exist anymore) a strategic entrance and exit that was referred to often in both novels.


I hope you enjoyed the images of modern Florence. Make sure to visit Priya’s blog at writerlyyoursco.blogspot.ca/ for a detailed schedule of the entire tour. Thanks for joining me on Wild Writing Life and thanks so much to Ilana for hosting - Cheers!

Bookish travel: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a very popular travel destination not only for Germans, but with visitors from all over the world. As among them there are for sure many booknerds, during my vacation in this area a couple of weeks ago, I made a short tour to discover local authors and the life of bookstores.
I did not need to walk too far away to find them. In just 30 minutes, I covered the ones and only two important ones. There are close to the touristic center and cover more than one room.
Deine Buchhandlung on Hödergasse 31 has an impressive amount of books in German, the latest titles you can find in any important bookstore in the big cities. The English section is very underrepresented though, but according to the lady in charge with the sales, it is the result of the low demand. In general, during the summer maximum 10 books in English are sold, so apparently no need to develop this section as for now. The offer of books for children is also rich so your little ones will not get bored during the trip.
Buchdiscount on the same street, Hödergasse, at no. 21, looks even much more attractive in terms of titles, and there is even an English version of a book about Bavarian kitchen. Authors from the region as Petra Klausner and Uwe Klausner are well represented. The biggest problem seems to be the taciturn shop owner who, after seeing me taking notes about the titles and authors presents without buying anything, asked me on a hauty voice: 'So, you are doing my inventory, now?'.
The conclusion of my trip is: if you are not speaking German, you better bring some Kindle version or physical books with you. If you speak German, be sure to have some space for books left in the luggage. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Monica Bhide and the art of telling beautiful stories

Either she is writing recipes or essays or short stories or food-related articles, Monica Bhide is more than a juggler with words. She shares experiences, her love for food and stories aimed to inspire. You just cannot remain indifferent.
What I find even more beautiful, is that from a book to another - she already published seven books, and counting - her writing is becoming more refine and explore different sensibilities and literary depths. I have the honour and priviledge of being part of her group of first hand reader of her books and every time I receive some new project for her, I can nothing but expect some new source of literary joys. 
Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken is her first novel telling the moving story of the orphan Eshaan trying his luck at a popular cooking TV competition. Admirably, the author avoid to fall into the trap of a stereotypical Bollywood-like stories - nothing wrong with Bollywood, but stereotypes in novels are not a sign of talent - and creates a page-turning story where emotions abund and with every twist of the story you feel the need to just jump in the story and start changing something. Human emotions are healthy, and I felt myself part of every suspenseful episode of the story, following Eshaan not only when cooking mouth-watering recipes, but also when he has to take decisions or to avoid taking one because he would like to avoid affecting negatively other people's destinties.
But even more beautiful than the story in itself are the crystal shaped words of the poetry that Monica wisely chosed to accompany the prose. It magnifies Eshaan's personality and creates even stronger literary effects. The recipes bring elegantly the reader to the reality of senses. A book that makes you hungry, cry and hopeful and that deserves a continuation, because the character are so well profiled that you start by missing them once the book is finished.
A special note to the cover by Simi Jois that found the perfect visual expression for the novel.
I recommend this book to anyone looking to read quality writing that cannot leave you indifferent.
Rating: 5 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the author in exchange of an honest review

Inspiration for the writers: How to write a bestselling memoir

Especially in the English-speaking realm, memoir writing is considered a common genre, regardless of the author's age. Courageously, you can share your life experience either if you just finished school or you celebrated your 100th birthday. What matters is the content of your story. 
New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Victoria Twead is sharing her insights and experience in a short yet resourceful book covering the three main processes of the book genesis: Writing - Publishing - Promotion.
All her tips were learned 'along the way' and this detail gives authenticity and credibility to the book. There are many interesting advices that caught my attention in each of the three parts of the book. For instance: to check the possible title of the book on Google in order to be sure that you are unique; how to set a timeline and organise the work, step by step; to include plenty of dialogue; 'your first chapter and opening paragraphs need to be hovered to perfection'; to change the font and the letters size for the self-proofreading for diminishing the risk of self-admiration and treat your writing in a more neutral way. One of the funniest yet smart tips from the 'Promotional' chapter is the following: 'Make business cards with your book cover on one side and contact details on the other'. As simple as that. Maybe the social media part is a bit underrated but there are already enough book treating specifically the online strategies for book promotion.
In fact, I discovered that many of the tip, especially regarding the last two stages, can be available for any kind of writing, be it novels, children books or thriller. Such information make the book even more valuable for the writer just entering the wild world of publishing. 
A book I recommend to anyone thinking to start working a memoir, as it offers guidance, perspective and market-proof experience.
Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the author in exchange of an honest review

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Bookish travel: Neue Kunst store in Osnabrück

As a vibrant university city, Osnabrück has many bookstores, many of them offering almost everyhing you want for improving your grades and your knowledge. However, there is one store that has some special books to offer, to a very specific and dedicated audience: Neue Kunst, on Redlingerstreet, quite close from the historical area, but on a sidestreet quiet enough to avoid the usual bothering. 
The store was created in 1984, and initially situated on a different location. With around 8,000 titles, from Manga to the classical Asterix and Donald Duck collection, it also has a friendly ambiance that encourage you to stay more and bring home many high-end comics.
During my short tour around, of less than 30 minutes, I noticed so many people coming and going, talking friendly with the dedicated personnel, looking for a title or two, or just around to share their impressions about the latest comic book they've read. 
Shortly, Neue Kunst is your little bookstore where you can always feel at home when far away from your home library. After all, home is where your books are, isn't it?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A magnificent book:The only child by Guojing

A little girl got lost and she is saved by a stag who she follows deep into a forest surrounded by clouds and miraculous light. Based on her own experience of loneliness and loss as a child in the one-child policy China, Guojing created a magnificent 112-page book of black and white graphite drawings. Words are not needed as the illustrations are powerful enough yet delicate in their strength to illustrate deep feelings of loneliness, joy and love. The lonely girl and the stag make a perfect pair, the antidote to their singularity. 
The age target of the book is from 5 years on, but it deeply resonates to any other age. It is one of those books that you love to have in your library and take it from the shelves once in a while when you just need to delight your eyes with something beautiful. 
Guojing book is a proof of the power of images beyond words and intermediate explanations. 

Guojing was present to Berlin on the occasion of the German launch of the book - translated Allein (Alone) - and signed the last Friday books in the front of the Haus der Festspiele where various discussions are held during the International Literature Festival. 

You can find more about other events taking place in Berlin these days on the occassion of the festival here. I will personally cover another even soon, discussing about censorship and the status of the writer moderated by Hertha Müller. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Blind date with a book at Thalia.de

Buying books is becoming much more challenging than to go to a bookstore and browse the shelves looking for your to-read list of authors and titles. Germany, not a shopping-friendly country, if compared to North America or the Middle East, seems to be less inhibited when it comes to shopping for books. No need to hurry up to the next bookstore dreaming about some amazing offers of 'pay for one and get one for free', or at least at 'half-price'. 
Still, some bookstores are becoming creative, such as Thalia.de, one of the biggest retailers of books in Germany, with big 2-story shops in the most important cities. Its promotion is called: 'Blind Date with a Book'. The buyer accepts to buy a book without knowing what exactly he or she is buying. All you are offered is a short, hand-written description of the genre and eventually the ISBN. Thus, if you really burn of curiosity to know what book is in the paper bag, you can do a speedy Internet search, but I still believe in bookish surprises and whatever the temptation will not give up to the lures of certainty. The prices are between 10 and 15 Euro. The target of the books are adults and young curious readers.
What do you think? Would you buy a book without not even knowing its cover?
Photo made at the Thalia.de in Augsburg, Germany

Monday, September 5, 2016

The good taste of a classical crime novel

As much as I am keen to follow international conspirations and bloody viruses and eventually some Cold War intrigues, I offer myself once in a while the pleasure of a classical crime novel, well portioned and where you don't have to run thousands of miles while leaving corpses in pools of blood every single page, in just one single story. 
Margery Allingham, praised by Agatha Christie and an inspiration for many contemporary writers, among which J.K.Rowling, belongs to the Golden Age of crime writing. She died in 1966, but many of her books were republished regularly, such as her first successful novel, The White Cottage Mystery. The edition I was offered for review was published this year by Bloomsbury Publishing. 
A diabolic character is killed, and all the seven people present at the precinct of the crime do have more than one reason to do it? But are they entitled to? Everyone seems to have a secret to hide, but he, the evil one, knows it all and even more. He is using this knowledge to manipulate or play the game of psychological torture. Does any of his victims the right to kill him, though? The author's solution to an intricated labyrinth of confessions might seem deceiving, but in fact it develops the psychological topics professionally approached. 
What I personally appreciated at this book is the economy of details - the right word at the right time avoiding the fluffy logorrhea. Also called the art of good writing.
Recommended to anyone keen to fill an autumn afternoon with a good book.
Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange of an honest review

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Children Books Review: Baba Yaga

When it comes to children books, at the beginning I very often judge a book by its illustrations and this time, An Leysen graphics are dream-like. They look like beautiful paintings sending emotional messages beyond times and ages. And I am not talking only about the beautiful big eyes of the girl, Olga, but even negative characters like the famous Baba Yaga are perfect. 
The writing is equally attractive, which makes the book a perfect gift for children of 4 years or more, as you can both read and show them the illustrations. I've read the English translation - from the original Dutch version - and it is well done.
For me, it is interesting to observe how old legends - as the Slav story of the terrifying Baba Yaga - are reintepreted or just partially used in a different, atemporal context. After the death of her mother, her father remarried a beautiful, but rotten-at-heart-woman, who is oppressing the beautiful Olga. Thanks to a doll left to her by her mother, she succeeds to escape the trials and dangers of a visit to the Baba Yaga, the beautiful lady's sister. Living in a house on chicken legs, the old ugly witch flies by herself and loves to eat little children. Olga's good deeds are mostly saving her from being boiled in hot water before being served to the Baba Yaga. Listening to the doll's advice and her heart, she succeeds to return and convinces her father, previously blinded by love, that his second wife is nothing but a wolf in sheep's clothing. The peace and love are coming back to their house, while the sister of Baba Yaga, left their house for ever.
It is a book about hope that good things could always happen and the power of good deeds. Plus, an incentive to imagine that even someone as terrible as living in a house on chicken legs can be beaten. 
A book recommended for both its beautiful illustrations and the lessons learned of the written text.
Rating: 5 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher via NetGalley.com