Thursday, August 15, 2019

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: A Fist or a Heart, by Kristín Eiríksdóttir {ends 8/25}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

He sat next to me one morning, and we started chatting. He said he’d bought a little house in Ko Samui without having ever laid eyes on it. This was the first time he’d been to Thailand, but he’d decided he was never going to leave.

Why Thailand? I asked, and he shrugged, said he couldn’t come up with anything more original.

The food’s good, he said. Then he asked if I’d seen the Wat Phra Kaew temple and suggested we go check it out together the next day. I was taken aback. I shook my head, but something within me awoke from its stupor, something I’d quieted that’s supposed to kick and wriggle, and I accepted the invitation.

The language in this book was beautiful, which I find curious since it was originally written in Icelandic and translated.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: A Fist or a Heart, by Kristín Eiríksdóttir
The past returns with a fury for a woman coming to terms with her life in this award-winning novel by an acclaimed Icelandic author making her English-language debut.

Elín Jónsdóttir lives an isolated existence in Reykjavík, Iceland, making props and prosthetics for theatrical productions and Nordic crime flicks. In her early seventies, she has recently become fascinated with another loner, Ellen Álfsdóttir, a sensitive young playwright and illegitimate daughter of a famous writer. The girl has aroused maternal feelings in Elín, but she has also stirred discomfiting memories long packed away. Because their paths have crossed before. One doesn’t remember. The other is about to forget.

Soon they’ll discover all they have in common: difficult childhoods, trauma, and being outliers who have found space to breathe in creative expression. Yet the more Elín tries to connect with the young woman and unbox painful memories, the more tenuous her grasp on reality becomes.

Winner of the Icelandic Literary Prize,
A Fist or a Heart is a gripping, artfully interwoven novel of power, secrets, and isolation by one of the most bracing and original voices of the author’s generation.

While I’m still not sure if I understood the plot of this book, I definitely was engaged with the characters’ feelings. The author’s use of language was incredible. I could feel the despair, the confusion, and the detachment of the characters. There were descriptions of a few events in their lives that led to them feeling the way they did, but the actions weren’t really the story – the resulting feelings and behaviors going forward were.

Overall, this book made me feel things. I may have felt a little dumb since I can’t tell you for sure what happened in the story, but the emotions of the characters were indisputable. I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The writing is beautiful and evocative, but the story line was either unclear, or way above my level of understanding.

{click here to purchase - currently free for Kindle Unlimited members, too}

Becki Bayley’s favorite season is autumn. She likes it warm enough to be cozy, but cool enough to go out and enjoy. You’ll find her looking forward to hoodies and shorts in SE Michigan at


Two of my lucky readers will win a hardcover copy of A Fist or a Heart

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, August 25th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

A Fist or a Heart, by Kristín Eiríksdóttir


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