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I love to have a nice chat! For this reason, I will talk to many different people and record our chats in this blog. I hope to chat with authors, book characters and readers and I will also share some thoughts and book reviews with you. Enjoy!

Until the Dawn by Elisabeth Camden

Until the Dawn (English Edition) von [Camden, Elizabeth]

Ever since meeting Elisabeth Camden at the 100th anniversary party of our mutual German publisher, I’ve been meaning to read one of her books. Not one translated into German, of course, but the real thing. With ‘Until the Dawn’ I have finally done so and enjoyed it.

Meet Sophie van Rijn, a young woman desperately trying to find some purpose in her life. For lack of anything else to do, she voluntarily mans a weather station and sends daily reports to the weather bureau. What she really wants, though, is to marry and have children. Fate has robbed her of no less than three fiances, leaving her smarting. She has spent most of her life in or in the close vicinity of Dierenpark, estate of the fabulously rich Vandermarks, who have fled the estate after the unexplained death of Karl Vandermark 60 years before.

Sophie is less than thrilled when all of a sudden the Vandermarks return – with plans to destroy the centuries old mansion. She and Quentin, the man who minutely plans the destruction, clash time and again, as her deep connection to the estate drives her to contradict the surly millionaire. Their only mutual interest is his son, who is extremely timid and fearful due to his being kidnapped a few months earlier. Sophie is the only one who can reach the withdrawn child.

As you can see, the story has many different aspects which makes it an interesting read. The personal development of the characters is deep and relatable, made all the more fascinating by the stark contrast of Sophie’s sunny, optimistic mood and Quentins dark temper. Add to that a family curse, a crew of strange supporting characters and excellent descriptions that make the special atmosphere of Dierenpark come to life, and you have a wonderful book. The only criticism I have is that the developmental steps of the characters in their thoughts were often repeated, which caused me to skip a few lines here and there, thinking ‘I already know that.’ But this is just a matter of taste and did not diminish my enjoyment of the novel.

A Year Of Contrasts

2019 was my first year as a freelance author and translator and I have been very busy indeed. Four of my books were published – two German children’s books with a traditional publisher and the translation of the first two books of my Way of Life series in self-publishing. On top of that, I translated six books for fellow authors into German, five of which have also been published. Looking at it now, I wonder how I managed to write a historical novel as well, which will be traditionally published in February 2020. Another children’s book is also done and waiting for the publisher’s decision.

This tremendous amount of output shows me one thing: I’ve chosen the right job. Because healthwise 2019 has been an all-time low for me. My energy reserves seemed to have been used up totally, leaving me scraping through each day, often feeling exhausted, needing to take one or more naps to make it through to evening, and neglecting household chores because I simply couldn’t handle them.

But in all of this, writing always worked. Translating always worked. It was the one thing that didn’t drain me. Only on very rare days I couldn’t concentrate even for a few hours to run up my word count. Now, at the end of 2019 and after a number of doctor’s visits and therapies, I’m slowly getting better and scraping my feet to dive into 2020, which is already booked solid until October with writing plans and translations.

Yes, 2019 was definitely a successful year for me with several publishing deals, translation requests and a fifth place in a renowned writing competition. Feedback on my books has been awesome and encouraging, and yet the financial turn-out is much lower than expected. This aspect is nagging me and another reason why I’m extremely curious how things will develop in 2020. While seeing that my decision to focus on my German writing has been a good one, my heart aches to write in English again. But time is limited, family comes first and as long as my afternoons are still busy with family demands, my English readers will have to bide their time. You are not forgotten, though!

There is one more aspect to 2019 that makes me quite happy: I have been reading more than I have done in years. It might amuse you to learn that this year I have read 5 books of the Harry Potter series for the first time in my life – following my son, who wanted to read them. I’m proud to say he wanted to read them in English.

The book that has impressed me most, however, was “Girl from the Tree House” by Gudrun Frerichs. This psychological thriller is written from the points of view of a person with multiple personalities. (Read my full review here.)

A new favorite author I have discovered is Nellie K. Neves. If you have been following my blog, you will have noticed that I not only read and reviewed six of her books this year, but also did a character interview with the supporting character Ryder Billings of her Lindy Johnson series. She’s got me completely hooked with her gritty characters and emotional depth.

Also this year I have started to join group promotions with other authors, so if you are looking for new books to read, check both of the attached links. One is a genre mix going on right now, the other one a family themed promotion running all through January 2020. All books are under 5 $.

With this said, all that remains is to wish you a Happy New Year, health and blessings for 2020 and a big THANK YOU for your interest and support.

Yours truly

Annette Spratte

Set to Simmer by Nellie K. Neves

Set to Simmer (English Edition) von [Neves, Nellie K.]

Yes, I know, I read another book of hers. I can’t help it. This author is simply fabulous and with this sweet romance she’s done it again. She had me completely hooked. Not only hooked, I cared so deeply about these fictional characters that I bawled my eyes out inbetween. I won’t tell you why, because that would be a spoiler. Let me just state that some real life tragedies hit that every normal person has to deal with at some point in their lives.

Personally, I love it when events in a book are relatable. And everything that happens to Dakota Brightling seems familiar, except her huge love for cooking – I hate cooking, but my husband loves it and he’s a trained chef, so it’s relatable after all. When I started into the story, I thought Dakota could do with a bit more self-esteem. I found the way she constantly put herself down annoying. But when I thought about it a while, I had to admit that aged 26 I probably was a lot worse. The state of high self-esteem I enjoy today was achieved by a long, stony road.

Dakota is a chef’s daughter and her biggest dream is to be a chef like her dad, who died when she was a teenager. However, she’s lacking the funds for culinary school, so she’s working as a barkeeper, living with a roommate who might be her boyfriend, or maybe not, and feels as if her life isn’t going anywhere fast. But then she sees an ad in the paper for a live-in chef and lies her way into an interview. Her cover is blown, but – lucky for her – after she cooked a meal. The employers hire her, despite her lack of training and her forged papers, because the food was heavenly. All her dreams seem to have come true when they offer her a permanent position.

There are several things I really love about this story. The way it is written is exactly the way Dakota cooks – full of love and brilliance. I love the way the characters are strangers in the beginning and I get to know them along the way, especially Sawyer, not exactly Dakotas employer, but his son, who appears to be very harsh and arrogant at first. The more we get to know him, the more the deep, ragged edges of his personal pain are revealed and he becomes dearer and dearer. I love that Dakota puts her foot in everything, while at the same time excelling at so many other things. I love how she follows her heart, even though it rides her into the deepest muddles. I love the supporting characters, even though some of them never show up except on the phone. Still they have depth and life to them. I love that the story isn’t smooth, that things happen you don’t want to happen, things that make you cry, things you want to undo, but somehow have to live with. I love the deeply emotional scenes that simply happen without everyone knowing where they will lead and what they mean.

This book is a well crafted menu full of delicious tastes, some raw and gritty, some soft and sweet, but all composed into perfect harmony. A definite must read from me.

Should I Use Google Translator To Translate My Novel?

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Of course! If you would like to collect a lot of bad reviews, you should definitely do that.
Seriously, though. The quality of machine-made translations has improved considerably over the past years, which is why many authors get the idea they could save the expensive services of a professional translator.
So what does a translator do, where the machine fails utterly?

Style

A machine does not have any feel for lingual beauty. While this doesn’t matter when writing a contract, it matters a lot in fiction. A sentence structure which is perfectly fine in English might sound like the work of a third-grader in German. The translator needs to do a lot of switching around of words to make the sentence sound good in the new language. The machine only processes what it gets, minutely and hopefully accurately.

Expressions

Many expressions have been around long enough to have made their way into the translation engines. Others, however, will be translated literally and thus not make much sense to the reader in the other language. My favorite one in the latter category is ‘the room was so small you couldn’t swing a cat by the tail.’ Of course a German reader would get the message, but they would be severely irritated as such a behaviour is unheard of in Germany. A translator should know that. A machine couldn’t care less.

Research

Translations require research. Things exist in one country, which are unheard of in another or they exist in a completely different context. Let’s take colleges for example. The entire education system in Germany differs widely from the United States. In one translation, I came across the abbreviation ‘RA’. It took me some research to find out that this referred to a resident assistant. Now I had to come up with a term a German would understand, because such persons don’t exist over here. Still, readers need to have a clear picture in their minds who or what that person is and does.
The machine relentlessly writes ‘RA’ and leaves the readers to their confusion.

Form of Adress

While it shouldn’t pose any problems in translations from German to English, the form of adress is a huge challenge from English to German. Germans have two forms of adress – a familiar one (du) and a formal one (sie). They come with completely different grammatical rules. The translator not only needs to know which is which, they also need to know in which context to apply which. How is the relationship between the persons involved? Are they on a first name basis? Do they perhaps change their form of adress, because their relationship suffered? Or they became for familiar with each other? All of this is not a big problem if you grew up with it.
However, I have seen translation engines switch the form of adress several times within one paragraph.

Conclusion

A good translator is worth their cost and you won’t do yourself a favor by saving money in this area. Most readers aren’t interested in which language the book was originally written. All they want is a great reading experience. A good translator will take care that the text won’t sound translated, but will follow the natural flow of language.

Since every translator will have their own style, authors should hire the same translator for all books of a series.

By now, there are a number of translators like me who will work with Indie authors at affordable prices. A few of them can be found on the IndiesGoGerman website, where you will find lots of valuable information about entering the German book market.

For further information on my translation services click here.

Pre-Approved Identity Theft by Nellie K. Neves

This book is a fun read with a truly wild idea – switch lives with someone you don’t know at all, just because you look alike!

Pre-Approved Identity Theft (English Edition) von [Neves, Nellie K.]

On her wedding day, Harper Sutton climbs out of the bathroom window and escapes from marrying a man she never cared about. She ends up on the West coast and meets a woman who looks so much like her, that she comes up with a crazy plan. Harper is supposed to step into Indigos life while she takes off on a two week vacation her boss didn’t grant her time off for. Sounds nuts? It is. But Harper is on the run from her controling parents and assuming a different identity is just the thing she needs.
She manages the impossible and slips into the other life without creating a massive stir. Of course her colleages at work are a bit suprised at her new attitude, but she pulls it off. Enter Declan, the analyst. A bit nerdy, but good-looking, they form a work team first, but it grows into much more. Until Harper wishes, Indigo would never return from her vacation.

The story pulled me in right from the start – maybe it was the idea of the bride in a 20,000 $ dress riding her horse to the airport. I liked how she stayed true to herself through it all, while at the same time hating her for being such a coward and not being straight with the man she falls in love with.
All of the characters, no matter how important they are to the story, are alive and believable with their little quirks and edges, especially Declan with his sugar-crazy daughter and his guarded heart. Their lovestory made me cheering them on, hoping against all hope she would find the nerve to tell him the truth before her make-believe world is shattered from outside.
Towards the last third of the book, however, her constant revolving around the ‘I’m afraid to tell him but I love him so much’ theme got a bit repetitive, but that was made up for with a twist I absolutely didn’t see coming.
My only other point of critique is the use of first person present tense, I really don’t care for it, personally. Nevertheless, I greatly enjoyed this book! Not quite as awesome and gritty as the Lindy Johnson series I’ve read by this author, but definitely good.

Shadows from the Past by Helen Pryke

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She’s done it again. With this thriller, Helen Pryke proves yet again that she is a master storyteller, a word magician, an emotion conveyor par exellence.

The plot is fast paced and will keep you hooked, because you absolutely want to know what’s going to happen, while biting your nails in fear of what’s coming next. The story is gritty, especially the passages told from the antagonist’s point of view. No nonsense, no remorse, no sparing of the reader’s feelings – you will have to live through all of it whether you want to or not. You will experience the brutal thrill of maiming the victims just as you will go to pieces with protagonist Maggie due to the emotional and psychological pressure put on her. Being stalked isn’t fun, especially when you see people dropping like flies right and left of you and you know you will be next on the list.

While the first book of the series left me wanting a bit in depth of the characters and their emotions, this second instalment is absolutely perfect. Even though I knew fairly early on who the culprit was, it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story. The characters were simply real and relatable, sympathetic (well, most of them, anyway…) and lovable because of their everyday human struggle that’s called life, which runs nicely underneath the plot and offers respite from the gruelling actions of the antagonist.

It doesn’t suprise me that Helen was offered a book deal by BloodHoundBooks out of the blue! Congratulations on that and on a well-contrived, gripping thriller!

Order Shadows from the Past here.

Girl from the Tree House by Gudrun Frerichs

This book came to my attention when the author enquired about a translation into German. I was totally baffled by the whole concept. Not the translation, that’s easy enough to grasp, but by the concept of writing a book about a person with multiple personalities from the point of view of these varied personalities.

I had to read it. Each chapter starts with the name of the personality currently controlling the body, which is important to understand what is going on. Most of the personalities are aware of each other and communicate. They live together in an imaginary tree house and each one plays an important role in the Tribe, as they call themselves. Only Elise is unaware of the rest and lives a nightmare, because every time another personality takes over the body, she has no memory of what happened and ends up in places she doesn’t remember going. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like.

As if this wasn’t fascinating enough, Elise and the Tribe are on the run. They desperately want to get away from the family who always kept them drugged and locked up. Bordering on a miracle, they make it to an old house that used to belong to their aunt. Memories pop up and cause havoc within the Tribe, while things on the outside take nasty turns as well. But there are a few precious people to trust and the whole mystery gets resolved in the end, but not without considerable drama.

This book had me captured and especially towards the end on the edge of my seat. The different personalities are really different, not just hues of, let’s say, a woman in her mid-thirties. No, there are children, boys, girls, young men and women and older adults as well, each of them carrying a part of a completely fragmented memory and serving a different function to make life manageable. Such a disorder doesn’t simply happen, it is usually the result of massive abuse or trauma. This topic was dealt with very delicately by the author, who named the deed, but didn’t describe it, for which I am immensely grateful.

Frerichs has created a one-of-a-kind thriller with her vast experience as a therapist. This book is a big step towards understanding what we so inadequately name mental illness and also gives some advice on how to treat people suffering from it. Or should I say, the observant reader will take note of the emotions described in the story, when the Tribe is called crazy, and try to avoid such reactions.

This book has all the right ingredients to make it an absolutely Chatworthy Read! Highly recommended.