Book Review: ‘The Interviews: Volume One’ by Laurie Niles

2I love the violin. I studied it in my later years and my daughter, now 16, has been playing it since she was five. I’m also a big fan of, an online musician community for lovers of this magnificent instrument. Founded by Laurie Niles in 1996, the site has over 200,000 readers a month, and regularly offers articles on the art of violin playing, as well as interviews with famous violinists.

Thus comes this book, which is a compilation of 27 exclusive, one-on-one interviews with violinists ranging from Joshua Bell to Sarah Chang, to Hilary Hahn to Anne-Sophie Mutter, to Ruggiero Ricci to Maxim Vengerov, which Niles conducted over the past six years.

In one word, this book is: fascinating. If you love listening to violin music, or are a violinist yourself, you’ll relish the inside information into the lives of these incredibly talented soloists and their ups and downs as they travel the world and make personal sacrifices in order to play live concerts, sometimes as many as a hundred or more a year.

After a thoughtful foreword by Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn, Niles goes on to ask violinists the questions I would have liked to ask myself, from questions about technique and expression, to how a player shapes an instrument (and vise versa) to multi-million Stradivari, to bows that can cost up to half a million dollars, to what makes a world-class soloist, to the controversy of shoulder rests, to even what type of gown to wear depending on the composer, and then some. Questions from the peculiar and fun to the serious intricacies of the various techniques, building up stamina, and staying focused during a performance. Of course, there’s plenty of discussion about composers and their works, as well as celebrated violin teachers and their methods.

The Interviews: Volume One is a must for violin students and anyone interested in the world of violin music. Highly recommended!

The book is available in print and Kindle formats. Find out more on Amazon.

Visit the author’s Website.

Latest review of SUNSTRUCK, by Autumn Book Reviews

by Mayra Calvani
Book Review

A feverish mix of disturbed characters in another time and space, truly facetious entertainment from Calvani.

Meet… Daniella, a naive and deeply sensitive architecture student who feels surrounded by creatures from the Mesozoic Era. Zorro, a deranged criminal running rampant on the streets, terrorizing women who wear miniskirts. Tony, Daniella’s boyfriend, smug and selfish and demonically handsome, who seems oblivious to everything about him except his own obsession with fame and LSD. Ismael, Daniella’s ex-husband, as cruel and innocent as a child, an art critic whose fantasies of revenge will force him to do something that will shock the entire island. Irene Carlier, Ismael’s new wife, better known as Lady Dracula, a ghastly woman who collects torture devices and whose penthouse apartment hides an utterly dreadful secret.

In steamy San Juan, Puerto Rico, these and other crazed, eccentric characters swirl together in an intriguing, warped, darkly humorous world where not even cats are safe from chemically induced madness.

Sunstruck was of interest to me in part because the author Calvani lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico and this is where Sunstruck comes to life. Having been born in Puerto Rico myself I found it fascinating to run into an author from the island. I found Sunstruck to be quite funny and throughout the book I caught myself laughing many times. The crazy characters and atmosphere of Old San Juan create a perfect narrative for this mix of madness. Daniella the main character seems like a regular college student until you step into her life and meet her psychotic friends. For a little while you feel Daniella’s mother, a widow is the only sane one, until you find out what her true interests are. While her best and only friend fills her ear with her amor for a priest, Daniella feels there are more important things to think about. Like Zorro the psycho going around leaving his mark on the rear ends of woman. Sunstruck is like a nutty Whodunit with a little twist. Who really is in the Zorro costume? With all the crazy characters I caught myself pointing fingers again and again. A great read that will make you forget where you are, while you giggle yourself to complete oblivion from all the silliness.

Thanks to Digna Dreibelbis for such a wonderful review!
Visit her blog, Autumn Book Reviews

Latest review of my satire novel, SUNSTRUCK

It’s always so thrilling to read a review by somebody who TOTALLY got my book…

Here’s the latest review of my satire novel, Sunstruck. I’ll have a smile on my face the rest of the week. :-)


Reviewed by Melissa Jackson, Living the Thrifty Life
I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Sunstruck by Mayra Calvani!  Please read on . . .

I love to read, and Sunstruck was great!  I read its entirety in one sitting, because I couldn’t put it down.
What I really liked about the book is the complexity of the conflicts.  It leaves enough room for the audience to wonder what happens next, but I was satisfied with the information it provided at the end.
This was probably the most interesting piece of fiction I’ve ever read.  I think I really liked it, because the main character, Daniella, reminded me a lot of myself.
Here is my interpretation of Sunstruck: (I promise I won’t spoil it!)
Daniella is a girl who has been through a few rough patches in life, and she always seems to date the ‘losers’. (AKA people who have a dream that really aren’t making it.)  She tries to make the best of it, but she knows in her heart that there should be more to her life.  The only two things consistent in her life is her cat, Commando and her mother, Marcela.
At 24, Daniella has been through a divorce, and is living with a guy she really doesn’t like named Tony.  Tony cares more about trying to become famous, and his drugs.
There are some odd characters presented in this story, which made it really interesting.  Everything that Daniella sees is not really what it is.  To me, there was a lot of symbolism in this book, mostly dealing with two-sided everything.  People who seem real, really aren’t.  Commando’s eyes were two different colors, characters were caught in making two decisions, etc.
I really liked how the story subtly described everybody’s way to try to find themselves:
  • Tony: tried to make the life of a famous painter, with his weird-o art.
  • Daniella: always knew there was more to her life than she was living.
  • Ismael: went from a nobody to a somebody really quickly, and was greedy and wanted more.
  • Lady Dracula: wants everlasting youth, and will go through drastic measures to ensure it is hers.
  • Marcela: lonely, tries to find her way in this world.  Feminist in disguise.
  • Mari Carmen: knows what she wants, but can’t exactly make up her own mind.
  • Zorro: The X character who puts life and threat into San Juan.
  • Commando: an imported cat who provided Daniella with stability and faith.
There are so many secrets to uncover.  You will have to read the book to find out!
If I was to describe Sunstruck in 3 words:
  1. Twisted (only book I haven’t been able to guess the ending!)
  2. Intriguing (I couldn’t put it down!)
  3. Personal (It truly hit home with me, and portrayed feelings that I consider my own!)
I would highly recommend reading Sunstruck. It will make you laugh, cry, and relate to the conflicts.  I truly love the story, and already have 3 of my closest friends interested in reading it.  (They are waiting in line!)

You can buy the book on Amazon HERE, in print or on the Kindle.

Link to the original review: