review

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

Although I’m Welsh I don’t seem to read many books set in Wales and published in Wales so lately I’ve been making note of them when I see them. I bought this online after reading the synopsis and I wasn’t disappointed.

My thoughts

There was so much to enjoy and love about this book. The secrets that Violet is keeping from her daughter Cadi make this novel deliciously dark. Add to that the ghosts and the fact that Lili is a witch makes this story riveting.

It’s a haunting and poetic story tangled with myth, memory and hints of magic. Simply put it’s beautiful. It’s not only set in Wales, with Welsh characters but there’s also snatches of the Welsh language. I loved how accurate the characters dialogue is, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which so accurately portrays Welsh people speaking (in English), I could recognise the way myself and others I know speak. It’s definitely a first for me!

This is book is perfect for those who love magic and amazing stories with wonderful depth. Ghostbird is all about the characters and caring about them makes you want to keep reading. You can see each person’s side of the story as you try to work out the mystery behind the secrets.  It’s a story which is achingly sad but held such words of wisdom within its pages:

“If you have to start living a new life half way through the one you thought you had, the only thing to do was look upon it as an adventure.” p.267

“A weed’s only a flower in the wrong place.” p 264 

It feels like an authentic story even with it’s supernatural elements. The beauty of the setting and the witch’s garden is lovely. I find myself running out of words to explain how good this book is. Mae’n Bendigedig!

*

If you’re looking for a Halloween read I’d definitely recommend this book, it’s got enough darkness and ghostly moments, to enthral gothic fiction lovers but not too much to scary you silly. It’s perfect for everyone, a lovely story.

pile of pumpkin
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

This is the first book I’ve read for this Halloween season, I’ve also finished We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson (tense) and now I’m reading Haverscroft by S.A.Harris and that’s definitely worth a read! More soon!

N.B. I really love Carol Lovekin’s dialogue it’s definitely a lesson for writers.

 

 

review

Some Sex and A Hill by Aran Jones

It’s not what you think! I read this book after seeing it on the Say Something In Welsh website/forum/newsletter. I borrowed it from Amazon Prime to feel less guilty about buying more books.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Aran Jones wrote the course for the popular online Welsh learning system SaySomethinginWelsh.com, and with his close friend Iestyn ap Dafydd he co-founded SaySomethingin.com Ltd.

Tens of thousands of Welsh learners have used SaySomethinginWelsh as part of their journey towards speaking Welsh.

This irreverent (and often downright impolite) book is the story of how Aran himself learnt Welsh.

It involves parties, bad jokes about sex, broken hearts, alcohol, tactical mistakes, moments of joy, tattoos and all the raw humiliation of embarrassing yourself in public – not just once, but over and over again. Some of the painful moments here will be immediately recognisable to all Welsh learners – others might strike them as unnecessary and self-inflicted.

If you’re looking for a calm and thoughtful analysis of different ways to learn Welsh, this is very much NOT the right book for you.

If, on the other hand, you want evidence that Aran has suffered as much as you have at the hands of the Welsh language, and possibly humiliated himself even more (drunken charades, anyone?) then you’re in exactly the right place.

My review

I read the sample of this book and I couldn’t stop reading!

It’s such a funny story about learning a language, the pain and the pleasure. I was laughing out loud to myself. One anecdote that stands out is when Aran was at the Eisteddfod and wanted to buy a jacket potato, he had to ask in Welsh and he was so nervous about it in case the person said something that he hadn’t learnt in his course. Then it turned out they were speaking in English!

This books shows the author’s love for the Welsh language and the aching sadness of a people who have lost their language through the ruling of the English monarchy who outlawed the speaking of the Welsh language as a way of claiming control over Cymru/Wales. If you don’t understand this you will after reading this book.

I read a book once about learning Welsh that put me off! It told me all the horror stories about Welsh speakers not wanting to speak Welsh with learners. I’ve discovered since that this was not completely right!

This book is honest and motivating, a great read for those who want to learn or are thinking of learning. It’s so funny!

I’m looking forward to reading the follow on book once it’s done.

*

If your curious about Say Something In Welsh then take a look at  the website here.

This book is available to buy here from Amazon, ebook or phyiscal copy.

 

Blog Tour

The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis

The_Jeweller_Blog_Tour_Poster
It is with great pleasure and thanks that I am posting my spot on the blog tour for this beautiful book. What drew me to this book was that it’s set in Wales and written by a Welsh author AND it’s the first book I’ve ever read that’s been translated from Welsh!
It’s also published by Honno who are a publisher especially for Welsh Women, celebrating not only Welsh fiction but women’s fiction.
the jeweller cover

Synopsis:

“A moving, quirky, and gorgeously written meditation on the haunting afterlife of the objects we leave behind. There is a lapidary beauty hidden in almost every sentence.” Tristan Hughes

Mari supplements her modest trade as a market stall holder with the wares she acquires from clearing the houses of the dead. She lives alone in a tiny cottage by the shore, apart from a monkey that she keeps in a cage, surrounding herself with the lives of others, combing through letters she has gleaned, putting up photographs of strangers on her small mantelpiece.

But Mari is looking for something beyond saleable goods for her stall.  As she works on cutting a perfect emerald, she inches closer to a discovery that will transform her life and throw her relationships with old friends into relief. To move forward she must shed her life of things past and start again. How she does so is both surprising and shocking…

My Review

The Jeweller is hypnotic, drawing you in with subtle imagery and describing settings in such a way that you feel you’re right there. The characters are distinct and could be someone who know. I didn’t know where the story was going but was happy to be pulled along, the chapters are short and before you know it you’ve finished the book!

This story is unique and stands out like a gem in the sand. It’s hard to really put my finger on what makes it so special, to put into words how it absorbs your attention and keeps it even after you’ve turned the last page.

I loved the haunting idea of people being somehow connected to the objects they leave behind and Mari is like their keeper and you wonder why until you reach the resolution of the story. Ideas are always hinted and shown, leaving you to make up your own mind about what happened.

 

I find it very hard to express my admiration for this book, it’s simply poetic and beautiful.

*

 

Caryl_Lewis_Photo_Credit_Keith_Morris
Photo by Keith Morris

AUTHOR: Caryl Lewis has published eleven Welsh-language books for adults, three novels for young adults and thirteen children’s books. Her novel Martha, Jac a Sianco (Y Lolfa, 2004), won Wales Book of the Year in 2005. Caryl wrote the script for a film based on Martha, Jac a Sianco, which won the Atlantis Prize at the 2009 Moondance Festival. Her television credits include adapting Welsh-language scripts for the acclaimed crime series Y Gwyll / Hinterland.

GWEN 6 BLACK AND WHITE_Jessica_Raby
Photo by Jessica Raby

TRANSLATOR:  Gwen Davies grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire. She has translated into English the Welsh-language novels of Caryl Lewis, published as Martha, Jack and Shanco (Parthian, 2007) and The Jeweller and is co-translator, with the author, of Robin Llywelyn’s novel, published as White Star by Parthian in 2003. She is the editor of Sing, Sorrow, Sorrow: Dark and Chilling Tales (Seren, 2010). Gwen has edited the literary journal, New Welsh Review, since 2011. She lives in Aberystwyth with her family.