Posts Tagged ‘Magical realism’

Author Interview: Sylvia Bishop

We are delighted to host an interview with debut author Syliva Bishop as she talks about Erica’s Elephant
erica's elephantWhen Erica Perkins wakes up on the morning of her tenth birthday, the last thing she expects is to find a very confused elephant sitting on her doorstep. So begins an unlikely friendship. But can a small girl and a rather large elephant learn to live together in a tiny terraced house? And when the dastardly owner of the local zoo plots to steal the elephant, will Erica be able to outsmart him?

Erica’s Elephant is such an adorable and charming story, how did the idea for the story come to you?

Thank you! The initial idea came from a friend texting me to say thanks for something-or-other, and promising to send an ‘elephant festooned with tea’. The idea of an elephant turning up on my narrow residential road made me laugh, and that was that. Some later ideas came from facts I later read about elephants, like their amazing long-distance communication. For the most part though, it was a matter of curating ideas I’ve accumulated over Life In General. For example, I’ve always been obsessed with ants, and Miss Pritchett’s ant collection wasn’t so much a new idea as a well-worn dream.

When writing, do you have any particular habits that you do? (i.e. sitting in the dark, listening to music, etc)

Ideally, I will work sit and Think in my favourite armchair first thing in the morning, with tea and porridge, and write my first pages for the day; then turn on the anglepoise lamp on my desk last thing in the evening, and write some more there. But the rest of my life has a bad habit of getting in the way. I wrote a lot of Erica on the bus between Oxford and London: it’s hard to cultivate any habits that are bus-friendly.

Before you wrote the book, did you do a lot of research into Elephants?

I did it as I went along, really, as I was only ever a chapter or two ahead of myself in terms of figuring out the plot. Researching elephants gave me some crucial breakthroughs. It showed me how to get the Elephant into trouble, and how to get him back out again.

Are Elephants your favourite animal? And if they’re not, what is?

Actually, my favourite animal has always been the Noble Rhinoceros. But books and documents about rhinos by themselves are hard to come by: they are always the support act to elephants. So as a child I ended up learning about elephants, whether or not I wanted to!

What advice would you give to a child who wants a pet Elephant?

When I wanted a rhino, I adopted one that was being looked after in a sanctuary. They sent me a video (mostly featuring elephants), a soft toy, a certificate and regular letters. That was really great.

Or maybe you could attach the nozzle of your hoover to a cat.

(Don’t do that).

When it comes to writing, do you plan your books in advance or just pen to paper and see where it takes you?

With Erica, I was generally sketching out plans a chapter or two ahead of my writing. In general I like to know what the ‘problem’ will be, and find out as I go how it will escalate and resolve.

If you had to describe your book in a tweet (140 characters) how would you do it?
Girl gets elephant, or he gets her.

Do you have any plans for another book?

My second book will be coming out with Scholastic in 2017 (hurray!). I have a couple more ideas simmering along – I find it helpful to have more than one, so that one can brew a bit for a while I’m writing some of the other.
Information about the Book

SYLVIA PHOTOSylvia Bishop is 23 years old and has recently graduated from Oxford. She is one half of the brilliant improvised comedy duo Peablossom Cabaret (www.peablossomcabaret.com). ERICA’S ELEPHANT is her first book, and she intends it to be the first of many quirky stories for young readers.You can learn more about Sylvia and her work by visiting her website (here), her Instagram account (here), or on Twitter

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Sinner

Maggie Stiefvater
sinnerSinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret — his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?

What are your overall thoughts?

Anyone who has spent any time on the blog, or any time with me IRL will know that I absolutely love Maggie Stiefvater ‘s (read my reviews here) combination of poetic prose, breath holding tension and tender emotive scenes( with or without kissing). While Maggie’s work just gets better and better, Shiver and its sequels will always have a place in my heart as the first Stiefvater books, and one of the first YA book series, I read.

The inclusion of Cole’s point of view was one of my favorite aspects of Linger (Shiver #2) and Forever (Shiver #3). The sharpness and acidity of Isabel and Cole’s interactions cut though Sam and Grace’s meant-to-be-together sweetness. Without Cole and Isabel’s feisty relationship the series could have become too clawing.

While I completely understood and enjoyed the ambiguous ending of the Shiver trilogy my one disappointment was that Cole and Isabel’s story felt unexplored and unfinished.

It won’t take much of a leap for you to imagine just how excited I was to learn that Maggie had created a companion novel focusing on Cole and Isabel and how delighted I was to finally get my grabby little hands on it!

I enjoyed dipping back in to the world of Shiver, however I was quite surprised at just how different Sinner is to the rest of Maggie’s published works. I was expecting Maggie’s brand of descriptive- bordering on poetic- narrative, sense of place, twisting turning plot and tear inducing tension. While these aspects were still evident, for me they took a back seat to the sheer force of Cole and Isabel’s personalities and their snarky, energetic chemistry.

While it still contained aspects of magical realism, Sinner had a much more contemporary feel. I have always been aware of the connection between Cole’s wolf and the self destructive, suicidal and addictive elements of his personality. For me it was a deeper layer of meaning in a series I otherwise took at face value as paranormal.

In Sinner the presence of Cole’s wolf felt much more like a devise used to explore Cole and his recovery than as a supernatural element in it’s own right. Maggie even goes as far as to explain the metaphor to the audience through the misinterpretation of Cole’s song lyrics.

What was your favorite aspect of the book?

While initially the style of the book was not what I expected it actually became one of my favorite aspects.

I rather enjoyed being swept away by the tornado of Cole and Isabel’s relationship, much in the same way that I imagine the authors usual style was pushed aside by the characters dominant and distinctive personalities.

While I don’t consider myself much of a mood reader (watch Faye talking about mood reading here), I am very much a seasonal reader. I am attracted to more contemporary, particularly romantic, reads in the summer. While in the cooler months I like nothing better than curling up with an absorbing fantasy series. So to this end, Sinner was a perfect summer read.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I honestly don’t think that I can pick a favorite. I adore Cole and Isabel in equal measure. I loved that although they both had issues to work through they didn’t undergo personality transplants in the process.

I am also surprised to find myself glad that Sam and Grace’s cameos were very, very brief and didn’t reveal much about them post Forever (Shiver#3). We had three books to explore Sam and Grace. Sinner was very much “Isocole” ‘s (do you think it will catch on?) book.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I don’t see any reason why Shiver fans wouldn’t enjoy catching up with Isobel and Cole.

Summarise in one sentence(verdict).
While not a “typical” Maggie book it is classic Cole and Isabel.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: ARC
Pages: 464
Genre: Magical realism, Romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Book Expo America
Challenge: None
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Landline

Rainbow Rowell and Rebecca Lowman (narrator)
landlineGeorgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.
Maybe that was always besides the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

What were your overall thoughts on the book?
Rainbow Rowell is an author I have enjoyed reading before. After finishing Fangirl, it quickly became one of my favourite books ever. Thus, going into Landline I was both excited and nervous, for I did not want to be disappointed by this amazing author. But, once again, Rainbow has written a superb book that I just fell in love with. It is super cute, has the perfect amount of romance – without unnecessary sex scenes! – and is just written so well. I was enraptured by this story and while there were a few issues I had with it – where was the rest of it? – I still enjoyed every minute of reading it!

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
The magical feel to it. This book reminded me a lot of Celia Ahern’s books, (which I love!), as they are contemporaries but also have a sparkle of magic to them, which Landline did as well. It really helped to make this book really cute and just a great read that I truly loved. It was a fantastic way to show Georgie’s life and her relationship with Neal. All I can really say is give me more books like this!

Who was your favourite character and why?
Georgie, by far, was the best character. As the protagonist this probably isn’t that surprising but I just really loved everything about her. She’s so hard-working, emotional, focused and human, that it is impossible not to love her. This book doesn’t paint her in the best light. She’s made mistakes and we see them and I found that so great about this book. She is a real character dealing with real problems and you can’t help but sympathise with her and want to help her.

What did you think of the audiobook narrator?
Loved her! Seriously! Her voice was really easy to listen to with a soothing quality to it. I could probably listen to her forever! She also managed to distinguish between different characters quite well as well, which really helped! I would definitely listen to more books by her, no matter what book she was reading!

Would you recommend this book?
Definitely! Over and over again! It is a lovely light-hearted read that I am certain contemp adult readers would really enjoy. It does have some emotional moments but essentially it is a book that looks at love and relationships and shows how amazing (and magical) it can all be. Especially when it’s right. (Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to still work at it!) So, if you’re looking for a truly romantic book, look no further.

Summarize in one sentence. (Verdict).
An incredibly cute romantic story that will make you feel a whirl of emotions before settling on eventual happiness. A must read.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: Audiobook
Length: 9hrs 6mins
Genre: Contemporary romance, magical realism
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Book Expo America
Challenge: None

To celebrate Faye joining the Big Book Little Book Team we are giving away one copy of Landline by Rainbow Rowell( Audiobook CD’s) to one lucky UK reader ( UK postal addresses only).
Winners will be notified by email. If no response is received within 48hrs of notification email BBLB reserve the right to select a new recipient.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Lavender

Leslye Walton

ava lavenderFoolish love appears to be a Roux family birthright. And for Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird, it is an ominous thing to inherit. In her quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to join her peers, sixteen-year-old Ava ventures into the wider world. But it is a dangerous world for a naive girl…

Click here to read Caitlyn’s fantastic review.

Posted by Caroline

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: March 2014
Format: ARC
Pages: 301
Genre: Family saga, Magical realism
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut book
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