Review – A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Hi,

When I heard that Kate Atkinson was working on a companion novel to the brilliant Life After Life, I knew that I had to read it as soon as I could. Well. I’m lucky and very grateful because Random House UK sent me an ARC of A God in Ruins, so I got to read it in March already. Today, however, it’s your chance to go to the bookstore and grab a copy to find out what the fuss is all about: It’s release day!

A God in Ruins
Image provided by Doubleday UK¹

After the war, Teddy Todd does what he had always planned to do. He marries his childhood sweetheart Nancy, they have a daughter and two lovely grandchildren and he grows old. But even though the war is over, it will always be part of Teddy’s life.

Teddy is a good-natured man who loves the peacefulness of the countryside. Like many other war veterans, he doesn’t want to talk about what he went through during his service as a bomber pilot, much to the dismay of his wife Nancy. Kate Atkinson does a wonderful job portraying the couple’s and many other relationships in A God in Ruins, but I never felt a connection to Teddy or any of the other characters. This often made it hard to pick up the book, because I really didn’t care what would happen to the Todd family. Only when Teddy’s grandson Sunny gets into a life-changing situation, I was eager to read on.

A God in Ruins is not written in chronological order. Kate Atkinson weaves World War II scenes into Teddy’s lifeline, which we travel on in a seemingly random pattern. Although this structure appeals to me, these changes in time sometimes made me feel a bit lost.

A God in Ruins is called a companion novel to Life After Life. If you are looking for Life After Life‘s special structure or the many charming characters, you might be looking in the wrong place. Of course we meet Ursula and Sylvie, but they only play minor roles and this novel’s structure is different. A God in Ruins is a book about a bomber pilot who survives World War II to become a very ordinary man, leading an ordinary life.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/a-god-in-ruins/9780385618700

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The Winners – World Book Day: Blogger Schenken Lesefreude (Bloggers Give Books)

To celebrate World Book Day and my First Blogoversary, I was doing a giveaway of the following three books: Life After Life by British author Kate Atkinson, the German edition of Y (“Hier könnte ich zur Welt kommen”) by Canadian author Marjorie Celona and the German edition of The Art of Fielding (“Die Kunst des Feldspiels”) by US author Chad Harbach.

Just so you know, all your answers were correct! 🙂 Unfortunately, not all of you lovely entrants got to win something. The winners were chosen at random by Giveaway Tools. I’ve already contacted them, but to make things official, here they are. They’ve got 72 hours to reply to my e-mail.

Thank you for entering!

Blogger Schenken Lesefreude Banner

Also: A big “Thank You” goes out to Dumont Verlag and Insel Verlag for offering the two German-language books to give away to two lucky readers!


 Kate Atkinson Life After Life
Life After Life
Image provided by Transworld¹
Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life goes to: Melanie D.
You can also double-check in the Entry-Form

 Marjorie Celona “Hier könnte ich zur Welt kommen
Hier könnte Ich zur Welt kommen
Image provided by Insel Verlag²
Marjorie Celona’s “Hier könnte ich zur Welt kommen” goes to: Bettina
You can also double-check in the: Entry-Form

Chad Harbach “Die Kunst des Feldspiels”
Die Kunst des Feldspiels Cover
Image provided by Dumont Verlag³
Chad Harbach’s “Die Kunst des Feldspiels” goes to: WolfgangB
You can also double-check in the: Entry-Form

Win Books – World Book Day: Blogger Schenken Lesefreude (Bloggers Give Books)

Happy World Book Day Book Lovers!

To celebrate World Book Day and my First Blogoversary, I’m giving away books to three lucky people. Life After Life by British author Kate Atkinson, the German edition of Y (“Hier könnte ich zur Welt kommen”) by Canadian author Marjorie Celona and the German edition of The Art of Fielding (“Die Kunst des Feldspiels”) by US author Chad Harbach. Please be aware of the terms & conditions of each giveaway. While the Life After Life giveaway is open internationally (some restrictions do apply), the “Hier könnte ich zur Welt kommen” giveaway and the “Die Kunst des Feldspiels” giveaway are only open to participants with an Austrian mail address*. You have time to enter from today until April 30, 2014. Good luck!

Blogger Schenken Lesefreude Banner

A big “Thank You” goes out to Dumont Verlag and Insel Verlag for offering the two German-language books to give away to two lucky readers!

*I would have loved to open these giveaways for EU participants, but the Austrian Post is ridiculously expensive. Mailing a book within Austria costs more than Germans pay at German Post to mail a book within the EU. The Austrian Post charges almost 10 € to mail a book from Austria to a EU country. 😦 I hope you understand. You can still enter the Life After Life giveaway if The Book Depository ships to your country for free.


 Kate Atkinson Life After Life
Life After Life
Image provided by Transworld¹
  • You can participate as long as The Book Depository ships to your country for free.
  • You have to be 16 or older to participate.
  • The giveaway runs from April 23, 2014 until April 30, 2014.
  • Be fair! One entry per person/immediate family/household.
  • I am not responsible for lost or damaged items. There will be one winner who will receive one English language paperback copy of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, sponsored by All That Magic.
  • You you have to enter through Giveaway Tools.
  • The winner will be selected at random and notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, another winner will be drawn.
  • The personal information you enter will only be used to contact you in case you win. It will be deleted after the giveaway.
  • I can amend and interpret these official rules at any time, and terminate, suspend or cancel the giveaway at any time for any reason.
  • All decisions are final.
If you want to enter the Life After Life giveaway, click this link: Entry-Form

 Marjorie Celona “Hier könnte ich zur Welt kommen
Hier könnte Ich zur Welt kommen
Image provided by Insel Verlag²
  • You have to have an Austrian shipping address!
  • You have to be 16 or older to participate.
  • The giveaway runs from April 23, 2014 until April 30, 2014.
  • Be fair! One entry per person/immediate family/household.
  • I am not responsible for lost or damaged items. There will be one winner who will receive one German language hardcover copy of Marjorie Celona’s “Hier könnte ich zur Welt kommen”, sponsored by Insel Verlag.
  • You you have to enter through Giveaway Tools.
  • The winner will be selected at random and notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, another winner will be drawn.
  • The personal information you enter will only be used to contact you in case you win. It will be deleted after the giveaway.
  • I can amend and interpret these official rules at any time, and terminate, suspend or cancel the giveaway at any time for any reason.
  • All decisions are final.
If you want to enter the “Hier könnte ich zur Welt kommen” giveaway, click this link: Entry-Form
Die Frage ist auf Englisch. Die Antwort ist aber in beiden Sprachen fast gleich. Solltest du Probleme haben etwas zu verstehen, kannst du mich gerne fragen.

Chad Harbach “Die Kunst des Feldspiels”
Die Kunst des Feldspiels Cover
Image provided by Dumont Verlag³
  • You have to have an Austrian shipping address!
  • You have to be 16 or older to participate.
  • The giveaway runs from April 23, 2014 until April 30, 2014.
  • Be fair! One entry per person/immediate family/household.
  • I am not responsible for lost or damaged items. There will be one winner who will receive one German language paperback copy of Chad Harbach’s “Die Kunst des Feldspiels”, sponsored by Dumont Verlag.
  • You you have to enter through Giveaway Tools.
  • The winner will be selected at random and notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, another winner will be drawn.
  • The personal information you enter will only be used to contact you in case you win. It will be deleted after the giveaway.
  • I can amend and interpret these official rules at any time, and terminate, suspend or cancel the giveaway at any time for any reason.
  • All decisions are final.
If you want to enter the “Die Kunst des Feldspiels” giveaway, click this link: Entry-Form
Die Frage ist auf Englisch. Die Antwort ist aber in beiden Sprachen gleich. Solltest du Probleme haben etwas zu verstehen, kannst du mich gerne fragen.

Review – Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Reread)

Oops… I did it again 😀

When I first got the chance to read Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life it was in German, and I have loved it since then and decided that I had to read the English original someday. It’s been a year since this novel was first published and Black Swan released a truly beautiful paperback edition of Life After Life this January. Fortunately, I was provided with a copy to read in a Lovelybooks online book club. Thank you Random House UK!

So here is my second review of this truly amazing novel:

Life After Life
Image provided by Transworld¹

Life After Life is a 2013 novel by British writer Kate Atkinson. This review will be about the paperback edition, published by Black Swan in January 2014.

As the title Life After Life suggests, Ursula Todd lives her life more than once. During the Great War, she grows up among her four siblings in England. In her numerous lives, Ursula relives the Great War and World War II, repeatedly travels to the continent and tries to find ways for people to survive.

Kate Atkinson’s onomatopoeic language and her vivid descriptions make the setting of Life After Life very realistic. As mentioned in my first review, the reader constantly feels as if they were inside the book. Kate Atkinson also manages to create a different feel for every setting, that way, war for example does feel different depending in which country Ursula goes through it. Atkinson is brilliant at creating settings.

Ursula, the main character, is a very flexible character. Although she stays the same person, she develops from life to life, adapting to the given circumstances. Another great character is Ursula’s mother Sylvie Todd. Sylvie is struggling with the changing society. The tension between the person she wants to be and the person she has to be is palpable. Unlike Ursula, Sylvie isn’t able to develop much throughout the book.

Life After Life features a very unique plot. Even though Ursula’s life repeats itself multiple times, it never gets boring. When you first read this book, you have no idea how Kate Atkinson will make Ursula relive her lives. You will ask yourself if she has any control over the process or not. These are questions that you may find answers for in the book. Life After Life is a novel that caters for all tastes. It doesn’t fall short of sorrow and happiness and leaves more than enough room for thought.

5beans

¹http://www.transworldbooks.co.uk/editions/life-after-life/9780552776639

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Frankfurt Book Fair – Interview – Kirsty Wilson

Hello,

I hope you had a good start into December. Did you already buy all your Christmas presents? Well, I didn’t. Two chaotic months lie behind me. But I’m slowly getting in the mood for Christmas. I just love it! As promised, today I present you the first of the two interviews I did at Frankfurt Book Fair.

Kirsty Wilson works at Canongate and as I had difficulties making an appointment prior to the fair, I just walked up to the booth and Kirsty was so kind as to spontaneously squeeze our interview between two meetings. We had five minutes, so don’t be surprised, if there are sudden topic changes 😀 Also, I was nervous. This was my very first interview ever.

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Canongate Booth at Frankfurt Book Fair 2013

So here you go ladies and gentlemen. Let’s find out more about what Kirsty Wilson’s job is like, what she did at Frankfurt Book Fair and what books she enjoys.

ATM (All That Magic): What’s your job at Canongate?
KW (Kirsty Wilson): I’m rights executive there.

ATM: And what do you do as a rights executive?
KW: I sell translation rights in our titles to countries where we use a subagent in Eastern and Central Europe, Turkey, Russia and Asia. And I also sell directly to Greece and Israel and handle audio and large print rights.

ATM: Oh that’s interesting.
KW: Yeah it really is, and lots of fun too. And then as well as, you know, the selling, I draft contracts for deals that we do and I make sure publishers send us artwork so the author can approve them and make sure they get manuscripts, reviews and everything they need to publish.

ATM: Okay, and you have lots of work to do at this fair I guess?
KW: Yeah, Frankfurt is like the biggest book fair of the year and it’s really important for us and we have meetings all day, usually from 9 ’til 6. It’s very busy but it’s really important for us to meet publishers from around the world. We discuss our titles with international editors and also discuss what they’re looking to buy and what they’re publishing lately, which really helps you get an idea of each particular market.

ATM: So you meet people who you normally only talk to via e-mail or phone?
KW: Yeah, usually and it’s so good to put a face to the name. ‘Cause e-mail can be quite impersonal sometimes. And also we meet a lot of publishers we don’t work with and introduce ourselves and find out about their lists and what kind of books they are looking for.

ATM: That sounds like you’re really busy here. So, what’s your favorite book so far this year?
KW: Uuh, You mean on our Canongate list, or just in general?

ATM: Any book.
KW: Um, I really loved Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

ATM: Me too, that’s my favorite.
KW: Isn’t it fantastic? I think she’s such a great writer. I really loved it.
I also read a really great crime novel by a Scottish writer called Malcolm Mackay. It’s called The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter and it’s really smart and fast-paced, really filmic in style.

ATM: And do you have any recommendations from Canongate?
KW: We just published a book called The Novel Cure which is amazing and we’ve produced a really beautiful edition, so it’s perfect for gift giving. The author’s recommend novels to any kind of ailments that you might have. So it can be something serious like feeling depressed to something light-hearted and funny. “What to do if you’re in love with a nun” is one of the ailments of the book. It’s great, it’s really enlightening and so good to read.

ATM: That book sounds fun! So thank you very much for your time!
KW: No problem!

akhf
Image provided by Canongate

The Novel Cure is on my letter to Santa. Oh yes it is!!

So what do you think?

Do you want to become a rights executive? Did you learn something new, or did you know all this already? I’d love to read about your thoughts.

And thanks again to Kirsty for taking the time to do this interview! I really enjoyed our chat.

Review – Life After Life

Hello there,

I’ve just finished what could become my personal book of the year 2013. I’m practically speechless, but I should write a review here, so I’ll see what I can come up with 😉 Oh, I almost forgot. The book I’m talking about is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson which was shortlisted for the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Lifeafterlife
Image provided by Hachette Book Group¹
Summary quoted from Hachette Book Group¹:

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.
Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can — will she?

My Thoughts:

Life after Life is mainly set in 20th century England and boy does Ms. Atkinson know how to create setting. I lay there in the grass, looking up at the sky. I breathed sun-filled air as well as gas. I saw the clear skies on the mountains and the darkness of muggy cellars. And then I went to war and found myself on top of a collapsed building, searching for survivors, while bombers were still dropping their deadly cargo all over London.

As you can see, Ms. Atkinson not only did a great job describing the setting, she also created a main character that I could easily identify with. This main character is Ursula and I loved to follow her through her many lives. Although follow seems to be the wrong word, as I often became one with Ursula. We simply merged. I seldom thought that one of her decisions was the wrong one. There are many other characters in Life After Life. Each of them is unique. I like how Ursula has a stronger bond with some and a weaker with others. Just like in real life.

I have never read a story like Life After Life and I think it is brilliant. In the beginning, I had no idea how the story is going to work out. The only thing I knew was that Ursula was able to live her life over and over again. I like where Ms. Atkinson takes her and how she let the story end. I love that this book offers so many emotions. Throughout the story there is love, loss, pain, hope, sorrow and happiness. You get the whole package. Life After Life is a book that shows you how much can change by deciding to do something different. I fully recommend this book to everyone!

bohnen5s

¹https://www.hachettebookgroup.biz/titles/kate-atkinson/life-after-life/9780316176484/