Okay. So normally this would be a big old blather about how I have been really busy at work and doing a bit of reading and blah, blah, blah. Well not this week. This week I have barely been at work, I’ve hardly read any books but I have been really busy. Really busy enjoying the bookish life which in this case has led to book buyage and book listing for buyage now I am home. In fact, I have been that busy that this weeks round up post is being split into two pieces. Yes. I am going to bore you that much today. Lucky you right?
As you can see from the picture above, me and my sister spent an evening with the lovely ladies and gents of Orenda books on Wednesday night. Much like the Liverpool roadshow it was an absolutely brilliant night only this time there were no less than 15 authors there. Fifteen! From left to right (although hard to tell in this picture – I do have some slightly better ones too I promise) Gunnar Staalesen, Kjell Ola Dahl (finally know how to pronounce his name properly – yay), Michael J Malone, Sarah Stovell, Matt Wesolowski, Steph Broadribb, Kati Hiekkapelto, Thomas Enger (I believe in Leeds it is now tradition to insert an mmmm here…) Paul Hardisty, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Antti Tuomainen, Stanley Trollip (Michael Stanley), Ragnar Jónasson, Su Bristow and of course the lovely Karen Sullivan. (And you might not believe me but I actually spelled all of the above without having to look them up. Of course if there are typos, then you probably will believe me but I think they’re correct…)
Now not only were we treated to a bit of an introduction to each of these fabulous writers (I can’t believe the now Petrona Award Winning author Gunnar Staalesen has been writing for 40 years – seriously does not look old enough), but we were also treated to a reading from each of them from their latest novels too. I always love to hear an author read from their own work as I think it just adds to the whole experience, the nuances they bring to the reading as they are able to draw from the ultimate perspective and understanding which they created when the book was written – the voice of the character within their head. Absolutely brilliant each and every one, and some wicked humour from the crew as always. I suspect Karen truly has her hands full on these here roadshows.
All thoses books. Aren’t they pretty? Now I may have purchased one or two (or six) books on the night because, you know, I bought a copy of all of the books on the last roadshow so it seemed only polite to purchase the ones I was missing… When I had the pleasure of meeting Johana Gustawsson she told me that my review made her cry – in a good way – which was so wonderful to hear. I love that kind of feedback as it means I am actually doing something right. I don’t manage many things so have to celebrate the successes when they come. I then got a squiggle from Paul Hardisty who bowed down to me in thanks for my review. Perhaps a tad excessive 😉 but it did make me chuckle. At the end of the day, all I do is write what I think. They do the hard work in writing such a wonderful book in the first place.
My greatest fear in all of this, and any blogger/reviewer can tell you that it becomes infinitely more difficult the more perfect a book is, is that what I write will not do the book the justice it deserves. That I will not capture in words the depth of emotion and often sheer joy that I experience when reading the sometimes harrowing, often lyrical, simplistically and stylistically beautiful and yet always ultimately magical words that these authors pour onto each and every page.
I am no writer. This post alone should convince you of that fact. I am not someone who finds it easy to put emotions and feelings into words. I’m just an moderately literate, occasionally eloquent numpty with a book, a blog and a passion for reading. I lack the creativity, the ability and, hell, lets be honest, the vocabulary to write anything truly insightful. As I sit and stare at a blank document for half an hour trying to find the perfect first line, and more often than not failing, I end up descending into a long and incessant ramble, or as I like to think of it, spewing my thoughts onto the page. I try not to think about it too much and I try not to go back and tweak (I suck at editing too – can you tell 😉 ). I like to leave my review in pretty much its first draft because to me it needs to be organic. Raw. Often I have to write a review straight away because I need to capture the excitement that the book has created within me. Sometimes I wait a while, gathering my thoughts because I need that extra time to recover and reflect. Orenda books, more often than not, fall into the latter category. Because that is what the process of reading these books does to me. Makes me need to take time to reflect. Each and every one.
The books may differ greatly in tone, narrative style and ultimately content but each book has taken me on a wonderful journey, capturing and exploring landscapes and cultures that I am often unfamiliar with, but making them live and breathe. Making them feel so real to me that I could almost be there. Be it a war in Angola, a concentration camp from World War II, domestic noir, serious investigation, exploring environmental or socio-politcal issues, folklore or just a damned thrilling chase across six US states, the emotions that their words evoke are just… argh, so strong, so mentally and physically challenging at times that the book truly knocks you for six, but all ultimately just brilliant. If you haven’t ready any Orenda books yet then I urge you to pick one up and start now. There really is something for everyone in Orenda’s rapidly expanding catalogue and in my opinion, for what it’s worth, these are some of the best author’s out there right now.
And I am gutted to be honest. I have had the perfect opportunity over the last five days to tell these people how absolutely fabulous I think their work is. How much I appreciate the gift that they have given me in creating such varied and vibrant worlds for me to immerse myself in. And I bottled it. Mostly it was just a nod of the head and a kind of ‘alright? I really enjoyed your book.’ cut to awkward smile and then scuttle away quickly. So I can only hope that perhaps my reviews have done the books justice. That they do understand how much I really love their writing and how, if I had a little more courage and wasn’t such a tool, I would tell them that in person. But I don’t and I am. So I guess I’m kind of doing that now. Badly. In a sort of mad rambling kind of way. As you do. (Or at least I do…)
So mad ramblings aside, if my thoughts and comments haven’t tempted/convinced you to dive in to one of the books then perhaps some pretty covers will. And they truly are pretty 😉 Almost as pretty as the squiggles inside them 🙂
If you want to purchase any of the books from these guys then you can find the relevant links by selecting their name below.
You can also check out all of Orenda Books’ other brilliant authors over at the website Orendabooks.co.uk
Ooh. And just to mention, I was lucky enough to pick up a sampler for two upcoming releases from Orenda. Snare by Lilja Sigurðardóttir which will be out in e-book in August and paperback in October, and The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen which is out in October. I’m really not sure what you can say about a chapter which opens with a line about a urine sample… Can’t wait to read the rest of it 😀 You can (incidentally) pre-order both of these, just as I have done, by selecting the titles above. Just saying…
Do come back later to catch up on the rest of my week. Or go and buy any of the books above and start reading and I’ll forgive you for being otherwise engaged. Either or…