Monday, 27 March 2017

Guest Review: The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker + Giveaway


The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker
Self published in March 2012.

Where to buy this book:
Download the ebook free from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Download the ebook free from Smashwords
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

Guest review by Katherine Bogle
Katherine Bogle currently resides in Saint John, New Brunswick with her partner in crime, and plethora of cats. Though she has spent the majority of her life weaving stories and writing short fiction, it wasn’t until 2012, half-way through her two year college program, that Katherine finished Sanctum, the novel to kick off her true love for novel length works. Since then Katherine has written six novels ranging from Fantasy to Science Fiction and Young Adult to Steampunk. Her debut young adult novel, Haven, came second in the World's Best Story contest 2015. I enjoyed reading both Haven and its short story companion, Fyre, and you can read my reviews here.

Katherine's rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.
Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin, is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills... or someone wants her dead.

Katherine says: The first book in the Emperor’s Edge series starts off with imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon, a woman who’s good at her job and wants nothing more than to advance in her career. But being a woman of the Empire, that isn’t likely to happen.

When Amaranthe is sent on a mission to kill an assassin, her entire world is thrown on its head, launching her in a very unexpected direction.

EE is one of my favourite modern books. I love this series, and have read it twice already (but I’ll definitely be going back for more). Not only do we get strong women and plots that keep you on the edge of your seat, but we also get this amazing cast of characters thrown together by Ammy’s unusual circumstances.

The group consists of Ammy, the enforcer, an old drunkard professor, a juvenile magic-wielding gang member, a pretty rich boy who flirts like a mofo, and of course the assassin. Not exactly your dream team, right? Wrong. I fell in love with these characters from the first page. Buroker forces you to invest in these characters, to love them, cherish them, and above all, look forward to their next crazy scheme!

I won’t go into the details of the plot, as I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the twists and turns are REAL. The end of book one will leave you begging for more!



Thank you Katherine!

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Sunday, 26 March 2017

Apathy Will Kill Us All by Andy Carrington + Giveaway


Apathy Will Kill Us All by Andy Carrington
Self published on the 20th June 2016

Where to buy this book:
Enter Andy's Goodreads Giveaway for a signed paperback edition (ends 1st May 2017)
Buy the ebook directly from the author
Buy the paperback directly from the author

How I got this book: 4 of 5 stars
Received a review copy from the author

My rating:

… when all that’s left is mediocrity

and each day just bleeds into the next …

Apathy Will Kill Us All is a sweeping tirade of poetry that illuminates the depressing and ugly side of life experienced by great swathes of British people today. I loved the vivid imagery and immediacy of Carrington's poems. His energy leaps right off the page to slap readers across the face, forcing us to look and really see the neglected and damaged communities across our country. I imagine that hearing this work read out live would be amazing and I found myself speaking several of the poems to myself in order to fully appreciate them. My favourites are £1.50 to draw out my own money because I have been in that exact exasperating situation, Saw A Dead Cat On The Road This Morning for its sharply observed analogy, and the Robots In poems because I have worked those soulless-smile jobs. While I didn't agree with all the assertions, I could certainly understand the overwhelming frustration that drives this work.

Andy Carrington's newest collection, Self Service Check-outs Have No Soul is due for release at the beginning of April. Pre-order your copy here.


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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

First published in the UK by Fourth Estate in 2006.
Winner of the 2007 Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Bought at Totnes Community Bookshop

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s masterpiece, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race – and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.'

If I hadn't already read The Dollmaker in March then Half Of A Yellow Sun would certainly have been my Book Of The Month. Adichie's exploration of events leading up to and during the late 1960s civil war in Nigeria is a powerful indictment of irresponsible colonialism and also an emotionally moving historical novel. We see Nigeria and, for its brief existence, Biafra, through several eyes which enables Adichie to give a rounded portrayal of the disastrous attempt at independence. Already knowing how this battle will turn out means the whole of Half Of A Yellow Sun is tinged with poignancy, but I still found myself caught up in the excitement and self-belief of the Igbo people as they started to fight back against persecution.

I loved that our leading characters are such complicated people and their interconnected relationships allows us to see their actions from different perspectives. Twins are an important motif to Adichie and here the two sisters Olanna and Kainene have very different views on the best way to navigate their lives and I liked the brittle connection between them. Innocent Ugwu perhaps has the most difficult journey from village ignorance to political awareness. As readers, we learn alongside him, seeing as he does the many facets of Nigerian society that, repressed under British rule, now independence has come to the country are all asserting themselves. As an English woman I found myself again angry at my country for its behaviour.

Graphic descriptions of poverty, starvation and violence are frequently difficult to read and Half Of A Yellow Sun is not a novel for the faint-hearted. It shows the worst of humanity, but also the best. We understand how a people can be led to absolute disaster by carefully manipulated nationalist propaganda, how weak some individuals will be at such a time, how greedy and power-hungry, and also how strong and selfless. I believe this story of fifty years ago carries a powerful lesson for right now. Splintering along cultural or religious lines and allowing ourselves to be ruled by fear and hate will only result in Biafra being repeated again and again and again all over the world.


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Friday, 24 March 2017

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes Vol. II by Arthur Conan Doyle


The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, Vol. II by Arthur Conan Doyle
Stories first published in the UK in 1891 and 1892. Naxos audiobook edition narrated by David Timson published in March 1999.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the audiobook on CD from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the audiobook on CD from The Book Depository
Buy the CD or download direct from the publisher

How I got this book:
Downloaded as part of the 2014 AudioSYNC season

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this collection are four of the finest cases of Mr Sherlock Holmes, narrated by his faithful friend and admirer Dr Watson. What was the mystery of the engineer’s thumb? What was behind the disappearance of the race horse? Why did masked royalty walk up to see Holmes in Baker Street? These and other puzzles are solved by this bloodhound of a genius.

The second of the four Naxos volumes of Sherlock Holmes stories was one of the downloads in 2014's summer AudioSYNC programme and Volume II has the stories The Scandal in Bohemia, The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb, The Five Orange Pips, and Silver Blaze.

As the stories are short and we are already meant to be acquainted with Holmes and Watson, there is very little in the way of description about them. Unfortunately, as I am not a particular fan, this made our heroes rather flat. Their clients and foes were also not fleshed out in any great detail.

However the plot lines which were main focus of each tale were generally cleverly thought through and it was fun to try to guess the conclusion ahead of Holmes. David Timson does a great job of the narration and his style complements the writing perfectly. I don't think I will search out the other three volumes though because I can see too many of such tales together quickly becoming overly formulaic and, dare I say, a tad dull.


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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Peril In The Park by Barbara Venkataraman + Giveaway


Peril In The Park by Barbara Venkataraman
Self published in June 2014.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the ebook or audiobook from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

How I got this book:
Received a copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn's boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can't figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.
A preview of the next Jamie Quinn Mystery, "Engaged in Danger," can be found at the end of the book.

I didn't realise when I began reading this series that Death By Didgeridoo was Venkataraman's first ever mystery story. While good, it did have some rough edges and I have appreciated watching this author hone her style as her series progresses. In this third volume Jamie Quinn has convincingly found her voice. Peril In The Park is certainly the most accomplished to date. I enjoyed unravelling the two park-related mystery strands, especially our all-too-brief visit to the fabulous Renaissance Fair which reminded me of reading Jordan Elizabeth's Victorian. Imagining Duke in his special outfit made me chuckle! Jamie's relationship with Kip is nicely portrayed throughout the book, grown up without being gratuitous, and I liked the sensitive way her father's immigration situation is handled. These scenes could have been overly sentimental and mawkish, but Venkataraman deftly allows her characters room for emotion while keeping their reactions believable.

Would you like to read your own copy of Peril In The Park? Well you're in luck! Barbara Venkataraman has kindly offered an ebook boxset of the first three Jamie Quinn cosy mysteries for one lucky Literary Flits reader! The prize will be gifted by Barbara via Amazon.

The Giveaway is open worldwide for two weeks from today and previous Literary Flits giveaway winners are welcome to enter. Entries must be submitted through the Gleam widget below by midnight (UK time) on the 6th April and I will randomly pick a winner on the 7th. If the winner does not respond to my email within 7 days, they will forfeit the prize and, yes, I will be checking that entrants did complete whatever task they said they did.

If you'd like the chance to win the Jamie Quinn Mystery Box Set, here's the giveaway widget:

Jamie Quinn mystery trilogy Giveaway

Good luck!


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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Flesh And Bone And Water by Luiza Sauma


Flesh And Bone And Water by Luiza Sauma

First published in the UK by Viking in February 2017.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the hardback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Brazilian-born doctor André Cabral is living in London when one day he receives a letter from his home country, which he left nearly thirty years ago. A letter he keeps in his pocket for weeks, but tells no one about. The letter prompts André to remember the days of his youth - torrid afternoons on Ipanema beach with his listless teenage friends, parties in elegant Rio apartments, his after-school job at his father's plastic surgery practice - and, above all, his secret infatuation with the daughter of his family's maid, the intoxicating Luana. Unable to resist the pull of the letter, André embarks on a journey back to Brazil to rediscover his past.'

Elements of Flesh And Bone And Water reminded me of Wasp Days by Erhard  von Buren in that both books explore the memories of older men looking back to their youths and neither of the men is presented as a particularly likeable character. Here Sauma has her GP Andre Cabral remembering his privileged childhood and adolescence  Brazil and the events which saw him exile himself from his country. I loved the portrayals of 1980s Brazil! Richly detailed prose allowed me to visualise the vibrant landscapes, city and small town locations, as well as giving me an understanding of Andre's way of life. The son of an affluent family, he didn't realise how spoilt he was at the time so we see his surprise at small events such as the first time he ever made himself breakfast - aged eighteen! His family employed two maids (empregadas) who saw to pretty much their every need, expected to work long hours and with just two days off a month.

I found the careless attitude of Andre and his friends towards empregadas particularly distasteful and Sauma presents this idea of superiority in an interesting way. We see Andre offended by the slurs his friends utter without understanding that he thinks of his maids exactly the same. A childish assumption persists that Rita and her daughter, Luana, live with the family because they want to and he doesn't really question Luana's having left school young, even though her correcting of his maths homework shows she is equally as intellectually capable. It is surely obvious that an empregada's daughter would have no greater ambition than to be an empregada herself.

I liked the device of Luana's letters to Andre. They provide an almost sinister undertone to the novel. I guessed fairly early on what her ultimate revelation would be, but this foreknowledge didn't detract from the story. Instead I thought it provided an inevitability that added to the tension. I would have liked to have also seen more of Luana's viewpoint as I think the tale could have been just as interesting, if not more so, through her eyes. Andre's shallowness is infuriating!


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Books by Luiza Sauma / Contemporary fiction / Books from Brazil

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Into The Air by A K Downing + Giveaway


Into The Air by A K Downing
Self published in America in September 2016.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy from independent booksellers via Alibris
Buy the ebook from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Received a review copy through Beck Valley Books Book Tours. I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like everyone else in the world, Mia Bryn lives in the dark. Buried in an underground compound, her life is spent in brief allotments of florescent light and dwindling food supplies. But when a letter arrives, Mia and her father are invited to embark on a journey that no one else has been allowed to take for over a hundred years. They are asked to leave the ground and travel into the air. But the outside world is more surprising and dangerous than Mia could have ever imagined. To survive, she must trust her instincts, learn about a world she knows nothing about, and accept her destiny.


If you read my Shadow Reaper review yesterday, you will have seen me recommend this novel to Amos Cassidy fans and, if you love their writing, I'd urge you to give A K Downing a try! Into The Air is energetic young adult adventure set in a vividly portrayed post-apocalyptic world. I loved the idea of the underground Compounds and appreciated Downing's contrasting of their drab greyness with the overwhelming colours Mia encounters outside. 

I thought the first few chapters jumped too swiftly through Mia's receipt of an all-important letter to her emergence into fresh air. Her journey to the City is well-portrayed, but everything had moved so fast that I didn't understand events when we got there and felt that it wasn't until just past this point that Downing really settled into her pace. Mia is a fascinating character and I was interested to watch her grow as a person from the self-centred brat of the Compound to an assured young woman. I certainly didn't like Mia initially, but grew to respect her as her story progressed. Her will-they-won't-they relationship with her guide-guard Archer kept me on tenterhooks and I think all the main characters felt real.

I liked that we gain some understanding of this world's political shenanigans, but are never bogged down with too much dry detail. Into The Air is primarily a journey novel, both in a physical and an emotional coming-of-age sense. Mia's observations reminded me of how I experience new environments while hiking so these aspects felt authentic to me, even though Downing's world is far removed from most of our own. Frequent proofreading errors, mostly homophones, did distract me from the story's atmosphere which was irritating, however I still very much enjoyed Into The Air and would happily get myself a copy of its sequel should there be one.

“Downing’s Into The Air is that fresh take on the YA post-apocalyptic vision we’ve all been waiting for. Mia Bryn is a wonderful character—one who starts out charmingly mortal but soon becomes the heroine we, and her people, need her to be. Can’t wait for the next Mia chapter!” Bruce McAllister, Author of the Cybils-nominated The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic

“There’s a new star in the Young Adult firmament—A. K. Downing’s series, beginning with Into The Air, is sure to be a reader favorite right up there with The Hunger Games and The 100 trilogy.” Richard Snodgrass , Author of There’s Something in the Back Yard

WHAT IF YOU ENTERED A WORLD YOU DIDN'T KNOW
“Did you ever feel so lost that you didn’t know if the ground was above your head or below your feet?”

About the author
A. K. Downing is the author of the young adult, adventure novel Into the Air. She grew up in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania and spent her summers exploring the fields, woods and orchards of her grandparents' farm. She studied graphic design at Kent State University and currently works as a Creative Director. She enjoys history, camping, and walking through fields of tall grass, and feels there is no better way to see the world than from the top of a horse. She currently lives in the woods with her husband, daughter, two cats and five chickens. Into the Air is her first novel.

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