Blog Tour: Q&A, My Last Continent by Midge Raymond

As you know already, I have reviewed and adored My Last Continent by Midge Raymond. So for her blog tour: 

1) How were Deb and Keller born? I was thinking from Jack and Kate in Titanic. But these characters had more substance than an overprivileged girl and one underprivileged boy.
Deb was created when I wrote a short story called “The Ecstatic Cry” shortly after returning from my own visit to Antarctica. I was so in love with the continent and the penguins—and also worried about tourism, climate change, and other issues affecting Antarctica—and I channeled all this into the character of Deb. Of course, she’s not like me in that she’s a scientist and loves the cold—as a writer and native Californian, I’m quite opposite in these respects. I enjoyed developing her further as I began writing the novel, and I knew that for her to fall in love, it had to be with someone who is as passionate about Antarctica as she is. So this is where I began with Keller—figuring out what brought him there and why he felt such a strong a connection to the continent.

2) All the research that went into this…what actually entailed the research of this novel?

Much of my research was firsthand—from my visit to Antarctica and all that I learned while I was there, as well as a stint as a penguin researcher in Argentina, at the Punta Tombo colony in Chubut Province. However, I’ve never been to McMurdo and so I had to research what life is like at the station (through books, documentaries, and the U.S. Antarctic Program’s newspaper, The Antarctic Sun). And reading about the explorers also provided a wonderful sense of history as well as setting.

3) I loved your writing so much. Any strong influences to your style?

My writing background is in journalism, and so I love details. My photos and journals were a big source of inspiration for writing the novel. I love the austerity of writers like Ernest Hemingway and Amy Hempel, and they’ve both been big influences for me.

4) Because everyone reading this would want a standard published-author question: How did you get your agent? Had it been a tough process?

I feel very fortunate to have such a fantastic agent. I had no special connections or anything like that — I simply sent a query via her website. I think it’s wonderful that there are agents out there who are still open to reading everything, even if it’s a debut novel from an unknown writer.

5) You chose to leave your readers reeling from heartbreak after turning the final page. What influenced this decision? That same tragic ending of the Titanic

As readers know from the early pages of My Last Continent, the Australis does meet the same fate as the Titanic. I didn’t know, however, what would happen to the characters, and this was a process of discovery as I wrote the novel. And the ending actually changed a couple of times before I felt I got it right. I had a lot of tough decisions to make, but in the end I feel as though the story went where it was meant to go.

6) I was telling some friends on Instagram how much this book has not received the praise it deserves. And one of them suggested people are bound to make more fuss about a book if it’s the author’s debut and it’s this great. What do you think? (And by praise, I mean reader popularity on Goodreads.)
I certainly hope that readers enjoy the novel and share it with other readers! As an author, you have to accept what readers feel about your book because there’s nothing you can do about this aspect of it — all you can do is write the very best book you can. I’m grateful to all those who have embraced the book so far, and I hope it continues to find more and more readers.

7) Your book talks about strong themes. Global warming. Saving Antarctica. Women in science. What one, important lesson do you want readers to take from it?

Most of all, I hope readers enjoy the story. But I do also hope that it makes people think about the continent and how important it is that we protect it.

8) What are you working on next? And when is it due?
I’ve got a new novel in mind, but so far that’s exactly where it is — still in my head. I look forward to having more time later this year to start writing. I have no deadline, so I’ll need to come up with one to keep myself on track. 



Published on 28th July 2016 by Text Publishing in TPB, priced at £10.99

‘Midge Raymond has an extraordinary gift for description that puts the reader bang in the middle of the action, bang in the middle of its dangerous and endangered world. She is clearly a writer in command of her craft.’  ML Stedman, author of The Light Between the Oceans

Blurb: It is only at the end of the world – among the glacier mountains and frigid waters of Antarctica – where Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan feel at home. For the few blissful weeks they spend each year studying the habits of penguins, Deb and Keller can escape the frustrations and sorrows of their separate lives and find solace in each other. But Antarctica, like their fleeting romance, is tenuous, imperiled by the world to the north.
A new travel and research season has just begun, and Deb and Keller are ready to play tour guide to the passengers on the small expedition ship that ferries them to their research destination. Except that this year, Keller fails to appear on board. Shortly into the trip, Deb’s ship receives an emergency signal from the Australis, a cruise liner that has hit desperate trouble in the ice-choked waters. And among the crew of the sinking ship is Keller…
An unforgettable debut love story, set against the dramatic landscape of Antarctica. Lyrical, page-turning and emotionally intelligent, My Last Continent is a stunning novel of love and loss in one of the most remote places on earth.
About the Author:  Midge Raymond is an award-winning short-story writer who worked in publishing in New York before moving to Boston, where she taught creative writing. She has published two books for writers, Everyday Writing and Everyday Book Marketing. Midge lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is co-founder of the boutique publisher Ashland Creek Press. My Last Continent is her first novel.


Book Review: My Last Continent by Midge Raymond

My Synopsis 
Imagine This: You are a natural scientist. Specializing in the conservation of birds in Antarctica. Penguins.

You love the Continent so much that every time you're departing you feel like you're leaving a great deal of yourself behind. But you'll come again. You're sure of it. Even though these days, your willingness to return, may be because of a little added incentive. A man. A good man. A kind man. Who loves you back. With whom your relationship begins and ends every time you depart. A cozy arrangement in a place so cold, warmth, company, body heat is very essential. 

But this year, your love affair would face its biggest trial ever. When the continent attacks. After all the harm done to it by tourists, by cruise ships. In Titanic proportions.

Deb and Keller's impending disaster summed for your delight. 

My Review

I loved, loved this book!

Frankly, honestly, I only decided to read this book because I found it was set 'at the bottom of the world'. You don't get to read books like this all the time. So I snapped it up. Thinking, I really hope this author is going to make Antarctica like a third main character in this book. Except I hadn't expected to enjoy it so much! Everything I asked for was here in this book:

Amazing storyline with lots of info about penguins, and the planet (made like a main character!). I love highly informative fiction about different animal specie. And this book never lacked info. Well-researched. You will learn so much—★

Great writing. I didn't expect the writing to be that seamless and easy to read and enjoy, and still possessed a literary quality.—★★

Two main characters. DEB, was amazing. I loved reading from her point of view. A woman scientist made a loner because of her job. It's always nice to read titles about women with fascinating careers. Keller, was also quite the charmer. Except by the end, I found myself seething because of decisions he made. Stunning romance between the pair. And I said these days, I hate romance... pah!—★★★

Other characters were amazing as well. None lacking in development. Thom, Deb's research partner. Glenn, the cruise coordinator who's really a pain in the arse. Richard and Kate, a married couple on the cruise who are having more fights—there's a note that most marriages brought to the Antarctica never return the same.—★★★★

First, I found this book a lazy read. Something to sit back, relax and enjoy. But then it dawned on me that something disastrous was about to happen. And I could no longer read it like I would a lazy afternoon read. I was on the edge of my seat. Panting. And when it was all over, I was so down. A heartbreaking tale I would recommend to anyone who wants a tear-jerker. And more.—★★★★★

My rating: 5 stars.


Book Review: The Paris Secret by Karen Swan

Blurb: Not every door should be opened . . .
With stunning locations and page-turning tension, The Paris Secret is an intense and gripping tale from bestselling author Karen Swan.
Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades.
High-flying fine art agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to assess these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and discover who has concealed them for so long.
Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren't all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family's affairs - but just what is he hiding?

My Review 
This year debut authors are taking over the publishing scene than established authors. For me. Why? Every established author's book I read hasn't been as memorable as their previous title. A disappointment! Winter 2014 Karen Swan released Christmas in the Snow. And since then she's released two other books that were good. But they couldn't make me forget Christmas in the Snow. This year, the Paris Secret has made me forget how thrilling Christmas in the Snow was. Finally! Evidence that authors can write books so much better than their previous title if they put extreme effort! A fucking star to this!—★

The storyline of this book is amazing! I watched Woman in Gold last year(?) and I was so intrigued by the art world and the looting of art by Nazis during the second world war! Now a book that can be compared to Woman in Gold! I can see this book with its edge-of-seat suspense being adapted into a movie!—★★

You'd also love the main character Flora Sykes. I don't need to tell you how great Karen Swan is good with developing sophisticated females in high-flying careers!—★★★

I must also add that books written in third-person do not draw my interest as much. But always, always, Karen Swan writes in third-person and makes me feel as though I'm not being locked out of the character. She's about one of the few authors that make third-person very personal and fun to read.—★★★★

Setting, suspense, romance! Vienna, Paris, London, Antibes. The mystery behind the secret apartment with lots of art by notable artists. The taut, tension-filled romance between Vermeil and Flora. God, I said I hate romance, but try as I did, I couldn't hate Flora and Vermeil! A remarkable, magnetic duo! Karen Swan's romances are worth reading for readers who've fallen out of love with the genre. Since I read Christmas in the Snow I asked Swan to give me mystery, suspense that isn't tied with the romantic plot, and finally, she has and I have enjoyed it! So much! I wouldn't naturally enjoy anything about WWII or anything historical, but the vibrancy Swan injected into this book made me sit up rather than read with one-eye closed.—★★★★★★

My rating is definitely six out of five stars!!

I recommend this novel to anyone who wants glamourous-lit with writing that isn't shallow but well-written! Some authors can do glamorous-lit and make you feel as though you're reading something you could have written at 12 or lower. (Won't give names but you mostly find this with old, established authors) Karen Swan is certainly not one of them! If you've always been looking for a book that injects the contemporary into WWII narratives, this book is so up your lane!


Book Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Blurb: Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery.

Stretching from the wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration to twentieth-century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi's novel moves through histories and geographies.

Claudia's Review 

This book didn't feel like fiction at all, it felt like I was reading biographies of different people. I had to keep reminding myself it wasn't .
Homegoing talks about the slave trade in a way rarely seen  and the story telling is so perfect that I found myself reliving an escursion I once embarked to the slave dungeons.

It spuns on centuries over centuries telling stories of different characters and their generations giving it a feel of a book made up of of short stories
This book would have received a 5 star from me since it's about my home country but I give it a four because the characters became too many and I had to go back to see which character was which and getting to the end it got boring. But you can't take this fact away: this book is a must-read for all you fans of African Literature and Literary Fiction. 


Book Review: Someone New by Zoe Miller

My Synopsis
Imagine This: You broke up with your long-term boyfriend a few weeks before Christmas. Because deep down, no matter how perfect your sister who hooked you two up thinks he is, no matter how perfect your parents think he is, no matter how perfect YOU think he is, you know he's not the one for you.

Then a leather-wearing, jean-clad, biker walks into your life. He teaches you a lot about life—living in the moment, pursuing your dreams—that he feels so right than the boyfriend you've spent the longest time with. Even though, he tells you nothing. You know nothing about him. You let him into your life, your apartment, give him access to way more than your heart.

Then he dies.

You're in so much shock you can't believe he's gone. But what if, really, he isn't? What's the explanation for the bike that keeps following you around, the threatening mails you've been receiving? And why do the police and your family not believe that someone's on your tail?

My Review

I liked this book. Good storyline. The blurb, a summary of all the above. Just reeled me in. A star to the storyline—★
Relatable characters. The characters in this title are the kind you'll find next-door, in your circle of friends, in you even.—★★

There's also the suspense. The questions you keep asking yourself about the strange Danny. Why is he hiding things, what's going on here?—★★★

And as always, Zoe Miller's good writing. Something about it. She makes the abstract take on the body of concrete. How she's so good at explaining emotions, personifying them, making them take the shape of people themselves! Another of the features of her writing that keeps me coming back.—★★★★

But sadly, my praises for this title ends here. I liked it. But it wasn't as good as he previous titles. A Husband's Confession and a Question of Betrayal. I just wanted so much more. Enough to make me forget how great her other unforgettable titles were.

I recommend this novel to fans of women's fiction with mystery elements. If you also want something with characters that are so true-to-life, pick this.


Killer Review: I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

Claudia's Review 

"We can't do whatever we want. There are ways we have to act. There are things we have to say. But we can think whatever we want. Thoughts are the only reality. It's true. I'm sure of it now. Thoughts are never faked or bluffed."—★

How does one describe a book like this? It's frustratingly confusing in a good way. If there was a what-the- hell-did-I-just-read genre, this book will fit perfectly. This is one of the shortest novels you'll ever read yet one that will stay on your mind the longest, no wonder there is a whole website dedicated to discussing it. (I did a bit of stal—ahem, 'research' on this) Might be the year's most outstanding Bookclub Fiction—★★

I'm Thinking Of Ending Things tells a story of a man and his girlfriend who go on a road trip to visit his weird parents. Most of the story centers around the road trip and the use of flashback was employed to give readers information about the characters. The whole story was told in first person-narrative so brilliant that you felt the main character was sitting across from you.—★★★

In between chapters, there were two nameless people having a conversation about someone who commited suicide.—★★★★

I give this book a five star because it had good writing style, unnervingly perfect story line and a cover that made you want to drop everything and read it (talk about judging a book by its cover).

I never read a book twice but this is a book I'll read over and over again if it will help me understand the ending. Recovery, what I needed after reading this piece of awesome literature!