Saturday, 23 June 2018

Ibn Fadlan And The Land Of Darkness


Ibn Fadlan And The Land Of Darkness
Written in the 920s. English language translation by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone published in the UK by Penguin in July 2012.

My third Classics Club Challenge read
I for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £9.68 (PB)
Wordery : from £9.11 (PB)
Waterstones : from £12.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $4.80 / £3.99 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

In 922 AD, an Arab envoy from Baghdad named Ibn Fadlan encountered a party of Viking traders on the upper reaches of the Volga River. In his subsequent report on his mission he gave a meticulous and astonishingly objective description of Viking customs, dress, table manners, religion and sexual practices, as well as the only eyewitness account ever written of a Viking ship cremation.

Between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, Arab travellers such as Ibn Fadlan journeyed widely and frequently into the far north, crossing territories that now include Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Their fascinating accounts describe how the numerous tribes and peoples they encountered traded furs, paid tribute and waged wars. This accessible new translation offers an illuminating insight into the world of the Arab geographers, and the medieval lands of the far north.

I feel very privileged to be able to read such ancient texts as Ahmad Ibn Fadlan's travel memoir and the other writings that make up this volume. Even in translation - and I think Lunde and Stone have done a brilliant job here - the Arabic travellers' voices shine through and it is fascinating to think that Ibn Fadlan's account was written eleven centuries ago! I was already aware of Danish Vikings invading and settling in the UK and Ireland, but didn't know they had wrought havoc right on down to what is now Portugal and Spain, or that their Swedish compatriots had journeyed east and south into Jewish and Islamic lands. Known to Arabic writers as the 'Rus', these Vikings (who would become Russians) displayed wonderfully outrageous and uncouth behaviour in the eyes of the pious and fastidious Muslim envoy. I could almost imagine Ibn Fadlan's raised eyebrows, but he strives to still record an unbiased and factual account of these strange northern warriors.

This Penguin edition would probably be best read as a paper book because its maps are only at the beginning - fine to keep a finger in the page of a paperback, but infuriating in an ebook! My geographical knowledge is well-known to be useless so I frequently struggled to remember where all the various kingdoms and empire boundaries were. As well as Ibn Fadlan's account, we also get to read an account written some two centuries later of similar travels by Abu Hamid al-Andalusi. The lands are much the same, but the ruling tribes and their religious beliefs have changed and this continues through the third section of short writings by a number of other travellers. I found the short accounts hard going by the end as there is extensive overlapping of observations and ideas with some writers 'quoting' (or copying!) their forerunners. Fact and folklore often blend too and there are hints of tall stories starting to come in - were the sled dogs really as big as donkeys?


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Ahmad Ibn Fadlan / Travel books / Books from Iraq

Friday, 22 June 2018

The Last Dance by Lonna Enox + Giveaway

The Last Dance by Lonna Enox

Category: Adult Fiction, 226 pages
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Lonna Enox Publications
Release date: June 24, 2016
Tour dates: June 18 to July 13, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 + M

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £10.14 (PB)
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : from £14.39 (PB)
Amazon : from $11.82 / £6.20 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add The Last Dance to your Goodreads

Saddle Gap, a quiet little town in southwestern New Mexico, seems the perfect place for Sorrel Janes to start her life over. But within a few days, she finds herself entangled in two murders, the object of harassment, and the number one suspect in a murder. Will her past terrors destroy her future dreams? Amid the evolving conflicts, she resolves to reconstruct her new life and find happiness. Detective Chris Reed is equally resolved to solve the murders as well as Sorrels secrets. Neither of them suspects where the steps of this dance will lead, but they are too stubborn to sit this one out.

To follow the tour, please visit Lonna Enox's page on iRead Book Tours.

Watch the trailer:





Meet the Author:



Lonna Enox is a former high school and college English instructor. She grew up on a ranch in New Mexico, where she learned to love critters, reading, and "wide open" spaces. She is a wife, mom, and grandmother, as well as the proud owner of 4 rescue pets--3 cats and a dog. Aside from an early stint as a newspaper reporter, she also spent 10 years as a freelance magazine writer. She is happiest exploring a wildlife refuge, cuddling little ones and critters, or snuggled up reading a good mystery. Lonna is a professional writer with over 250 printed articles in a variety of national and regional magazines. She has written in several genres and The Last Dance is her debut mystery.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram


Enter the Giveaway!
Win a paperback copy of The Last Dance
(open to USA & Canada - 1 winner)
Ends July 21, 2018


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Lonna Enox / Crime fiction / Books from America

Thursday, 21 June 2018

The Enigma Dragon by Charles V Breakfield and Roxanne E Burkey + Giveaway


The Enigma Dragon: A CATS Tale (The Enigma Series Book 9) by Charles V Breakfield and Roxanne E Burkey
Category: Adult Fiction, 360 pages
Genre: Thriller, TechnoThriller
Publisher: ICABOD Press
Release date: Oct 5, 2017
Tour dates: May 28 to June 22, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There are some descriptive sex scenes but not throughout)

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £13.61 (PB)
Wordery : from £11.68 (PB)
Waterstones : from £14.39 (PB)
Amazon : from $3.02 / £2.17 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add The Enigma Dragon to your Goodreads


Do the vast amounts of information and technology available hold humans hostage? Does analog communication create a vulnerability?

The political climate in the world is unnerving. North Korea is running missile tests, but where are they getting their deadly supplies? Meanwhile, terrorists are hiding in plain sight, using American technology that is out on display in libraries and museums for the world to see, but are using analog methods to gather and assemble their information. No internet searches equal no red flags which lets the bad guys believe they are operating undetected. But the Cyber Assassin Technology Services (CATS) team is on the job. As Juan and Julie Rodríguez send their operatives out across the globe to track down these foot soldiers also known as Analog Information Mules, they'll discover the horrible potential treats, and learn about each other along the way.

Mike and Marge control ePETRO, an oil shipping business with offices in London and New York, but they don't have the same business goals in mind. Marge intends to sell the North Koreans uranium in addition to oil obtained illegally from the government-sanctioned Middle East. But Mike may have other plans, mainly, keeping the profits of these sales for himself. Then there is the mysterious Steven Christopher, who oversees the AIMs, and is working several angles behind the scenes. Steven is the only one trusted by both Marge and Mike, but why?

The CATs team has feet on the ground, with Ernesto and Tyler following two women through Washington, D.C. as they visit the Smithsonian looking for nuclear fusion processes and down the Texas coast where a dangerous package makes its way onto a ship bound for Asia. Jamie, an Irish man with a heartbreaking past, joins the team in Texas and finds not only a new job, but acceptance. George and Summit travel across Asia following the oil and some suspiciously mislabeled furniture. After a rocky start at being paired up, Mercedes and Brayson head to Panama and are watching a previously known Dark Net data center, but Mercedes is soon extracted to help out in D.C. She quickly becomes embroiled in Steven Christopher's world. Brayson is left behind alone in Panama and, still recovering from a lost love, learns that he can't truly be a part of the team until he has forgiven himself.

While Juan stays with Quip and his supercomputer ICABOD, tracking his team members and relaying constantly updated information at the team's nerve center, Julie heads to London. Julie finds herself in the center of all the trouble as she goes undercover in the ePETRO offices. When Julie disappears, Juan drops everything to find her. Quip loops his wife EZ, a Unified Communications expert, to help monitor and control the CATS team movements so that operatives can find the culprits in their different theaters of operation.

Award-winning authors, Breakfield and Burkey, take readers on a new techno-thriller adventure with their 9th book in The Enigma Series. The Enigma Dragon is a chilling journey across four continents, and twelve cities that uncovers terrifying possibilities of what is to become of our world if the CATS team cannot defeat our enemies.

To follow the tour, please visit Breakfield & Burkey's page on iRead Book Tours.

Watch the book trailer:



Meet the Authors:


Charles Breakfield
Charles holds a master’s degree and works for a high-tech manufacturer as a solution architect, functioning in hybrid data/telecom environments. A long-time technology geek, Charles enjoys writing, studying World War II history, travel, and cultural exchanges. He’s also a fan of wine-tastings, riding his Harley, and continues developing his woodworking skills. Now included in people on the move in Dallas Business Journal.




Roxanne Burkey
Roxanne has two passions – working with technology and writing. She enjoys working to drive optimized customer experiences with technology in her role with a high-tech manufacturer. Texas is home for her and her family. When time permits Rox likes gardening, hiking, sewing, refinishing antiques, exploring, wine-tasting, and traveling. She loves to listen to people which often results in odd treasures that come to life in her stories. Now included in people on the move in Dallas Business Journal.

Connect with the authors: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram


Enter the Giveaway!
Win an ebook copy of The Enigma Dragon plus a $5 Amazon.com gift card (open to USA and CAN - 5 winners)
Ends June 30, 2018


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Charles V Breakfield and Roxanne E Burkey / Thrillers / Books from America

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Sour Apple by Jerzy Szyłak and Joanna Karpowicz


Sour Apple by Jerzy Szyłak and Joanna Karpowicz
First published by Timof Comics as Kwaśne jabłko in Polish in Poland in 2017. English language translation by Bartek Biedrzycki and Pawel Timofiejuk published by Europe Comics on the 18th April 2018.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Europe Comics : from $4.99 (ebook)
Amazon : unavailable
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

By all appearances they are a happy couple. Married, religious, hardworking. What happens behind closed doors, however, is a secret, even to those closest to them. “Kwaśne jabłko” (Sour Apple), written by Jerzy Szyłak and illustrated by Joanna Karpowicz, tells a story of domestic abuse, a story of a victim and persecutor. This story of violence spiraling out of control brings no hope, instead playing on emotions and powerful illustrations, painted with acrylic on canvas-textured paper, to create a unique atmosphere of horror. It is violence as seen by a painter.

In truth, no one would like to hear this kind of story, and yet such stories are told, and need to be told. They need to be told because they happen to real people, be they old or young, educated or uneducated, pious or atheist. None of these people wants to take a bite from the sour apple in the basket. However, it happens to some. That is why such stories must be told.

I read Sour Apple several days before putting this review together which is unusual for me because I usually know pretty much what I want to say about a book within a day or so. This one has had me repeatedly changing my thoughts and opinions. Sour Apple is an unflinching story of domestic abuse behind closed doors. We see an unnamed woman change from a happily married bride, grateful to God for her good fortune, to a perpetually fearful and isolated wife who is left only with her God to talk to. Even the prospect of bringing a child into this violent household does not spur her beyond only dreaming of escape. Karpowicz's graphic artwork forces the reader to practically see every punch and bruise, yet without us being allowed to intervene. This makes for a horribly powerful reading experience.

I felt very uncomfortable with Sour Apple's seeming acceptance of the woman's predicament and at times also wondered if I was supposed to be 'enjoying' seeing the damage inflicted upon her. Is the story saying that married women should endure whatever their husbands choose to inflict upon them? The husband repeatedly apologises, but in reality makes no attempt to change his behaviour and the wife appears to shun any attempts at outside assistance. I saw that this abuse would potentially continue unchanged for years which is reflective of many such relationships in real life, but I wanted a positive resolution for this story. Instead I am still unsure as to how I am meant to react to this work.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Jerzy Szylak and Joanna Karpowicz / Graphic novels / Books from Poland

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Dead Is Better by Jo Perry


Dead Is Better by Jo Perry
Published by Fahrenheit Press in 2016.
Get a 20% Off Coupon when you Buy Direct from Fahrenheit Press!

How I got this book:
Received a free ebook via a publisher's promotion

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £6.95 (PB)
Wordery : from £5.63 (PB)
Fahrenheit Press : from $1 / £0.99 (ebook)
Amazon : from $2.70 / £1.99 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Charles Stone has just woken up dead. Well he’s pretty sure he’s dead, what with the bullet holes in his chest and all. He also appears to be totally alone in the after-life except for the ghostly dog who seems to be his new companion. Unable to interact with the world of the living other than watching and listening, he and the dead dog (whom he names Rose) have nothing to do and all the time in the world to do it. 

When Charles and Rose try to unravel the circumstances of Charles's death, they uncover a criminal who is raking in millions of dollars by cruelly exploiting, and sometimes killing, his victims. 

But what difference can a ghost make? 
And what does the damn dog have to do with any of this?

Dead Is Better is an unusual take on the cosy(ish) mystery genre in that its protagonist, the unfortunate Charles, narrates from beyond the grave and because he doesn't initially have any idea what he is meant to do. Stuck in some kind of limbo existence, Charles and his new silent dog friend gently float around Los Angeles following what may or may not be leads (no pun intended). This story was very different to my normal bookish fare and, while I mostly enjoyed the story, there just wasn't really enough for me to get my teeth into. I felt that Charles' detachment from the world at large carried on to me as a reader so I wasn't able to get into the story as much as I would have liked to. Another problem for me is that Dead Is Better has short chapters, each of which begins with a death-related quote from another book or famous person. I initially liked the quotes idea, but soon found that I had to deliberately skip them because they kept dragging me out of the main story. It's difficult to maintain atmosphere when it feels like reading two books simultaneously! As a light mystery tale, Dead Is Better was diverting, but I don't think the premise is strong enough to carry on into a further series.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Jo Perry / Crime fiction / Books from America

Monday, 18 June 2018

The Devil's Elixirs by E T A Hoffmann


The Devil's Elixirs by E T A Hoffmann
First published in German in Germany in 1816. English language translation by Ronald Taylor first published by John Calder in 1963.

My second Classics Club Challenge read.

How I got this book:
Bought from a charity shop

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £6.49 (PB)
Wordery : from £5.63 (PB)
Waterstones : from £8.99 (HB)
Amazon : from $1.47 / £0.01 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

The son of a heinous sinner, Medardus is brought up in a monastery to atone for his father's wicked ways. However, after succumbing to temptation, Medardus himself is lured into a life of sin. A labyrinthine plot sees him embarking on a fantastical journey into the world, meeting his doppelganger, involving himself in a game of double impersonation, and becoming embroiled in murderous intrigues at the Vatican, before the mysterious curse hanging over him and his family is finally explained. First published in 1815, "The Devil's Elixirs" is a macabre masterpiece of German literature, and is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Romantic movement, or the genres of fantasy and horror which it spawned.

Labyrinthine is certainly the word for the plot of this dark mystery! Its narrative snakes around, sometimes circling, sometimes doubling back on itself, so I was often absolutely bewildered as to whether I was following Medardus or his doppelganger, yet The Devil's Elixirs keeps up an excellent pace throughout so I found it a gripping read. In fact, considering this novel is now over two hundred years old, there is a remarkable lack of superfluous chat and diversions. I guess even Hoffmann had to keep his mind on the journey or he would have lost the thread himself!

Narrated in the first person by Medardus, an ambitious young man who is prone to vanity and pomposity, The Devil's Elixirs could be set in pretty much any time period from the mid-medieval until its actual time of writing. It has a kind of timeless, dark fairytale quality and I was reminded of my teenage Dennis Wheatley-reading phase - I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Wheatley had read Hoffmann. I loved supporting roles such as the irrepressible Italian barber-dwarf Belcampo and the Prince who flits from fad to fad in order to keep himself entertained. The female characters are, perhaps unsurprisingly for a book of this vintage, less convincing and their only being seen though Medardus' eyes renders them too stereotypically for my 21st century tastes - essentially mother figures or temptress virgins. However, if you can get past The Devil's Elixirs reflecting social standards of two centuries ago (and not just towards women) then it is an intriguing and engrossing light-horror mystery.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by E T A Hoffmann / Horror fiction / Books from Germany

Sunday, 17 June 2018

A Taker of Morrows by Stephen Paul Sayers + Giveaway


A Taker of Morrows by Stephen Paul Sayers
Published in America by Hydra Publications on the 31st May 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from $5.02 / £3.77 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add A Taker Of Morrows to your Goodreads

RG Granville has his whole life in front of him…but only twenty-four hours to live it.

Beyond life’s boundaries, an enduring battle between good and evil determines the fate of earthly souls. Here, ‘caretakers’ guard and protect against the evil and vengeful ‘jumpers’ who slip back and forth between worlds to prey upon the living.

For one man, news of his impending demise sets off a deadly chain of events fueled by a jumper’s burning vengeance. Now he’s in a race against time to stop an unrelenting evil unleashed upon the earth. And if he’s to protect his family, and the world, he must breach the tenuous boundary between life and death to confront a killer—and a shocking secret from his long-buried past.



Q&A with Stephen Paul Sayers, author of A Taker of Morrows

Q: What’s your new novel, A Taker of Morrows, about?
A: It’s about a man who’s visited by a stranger, who tells him he’s got twenty-four hours to live. You see, deaths are scheduled and schedules must be kept. In his desperate attempt to stay alive, he discovers the world isn’t what he thought it was, that it’s actually a battleground between the forces of good and evil from the afterlife, a place where ‘caretakers’ protect earthly souls and ‘jumpers’ prey on them…and now he’s become the prey. And if he’s to keep himself and his family alive, he must straddle the boundary between worlds and face the secrets of his past.

In a broader sense, it’s really a story about the nature of life and death, and the eternal price paid for what we carry in our souls.


Q: What inspired you to be a writer?
A: I never set out to be a writer, but after a challenge from my daughter, Kaylee, I decided to write her a novel. I figured I’d write something for her, give it to her some holiday or birthday, and it would collect dust on her bookshelf. But when I started writing, a switch turned on inside me, something I’d never felt before, igniting a passion I didn’t know I had. It helped me finally figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up.
But more importantly, it has solidified a real bond between my daughter and me. She’s an amazing writer who has a full length novel under her belt at age seventeen. We now have this shared thing we do together. We talk about story ideas, read each other’s work. She gave me this great idea in A Taker of Morrows that became a key to the series in my opinion. So, she’s my inspiration.

Q: Why do you write in the genre that you do?
A: My brother and I watched horror movies all the time when we were kids. I think the 70s and 80s were a golden age of horror movies – and we got really into it. That’s also when I discovered Stephen King, and I read just about everything he wrote. That was my base, and no matter what different literary roads I may travel, I always veer back into the genre. Even the horror books I read today transport me back to childhood and reignite those feelings again.

Q: What do you enjoy reading and who are your favorite authors?
A: I have so many authors I love reading in so many genres. I grew up on a steady diet of Stephen King and Peter Straub, so I got a good horror base. I’m also a big fan of a new generation of horror writers, Joe Hill, Paul Cornell, J. Lincoln Fenn, and Paul Tremblay, so I definitely get my fill. I also love writers of suspense and thrillers, especially Jo Nesbo, Dennis LeHane and Randy Wayne White. I’ve recently discovered Melissa Lenhardt’s “Jack McBride” mystery series, which sort of borders on chick lit, and yet I really like it. So, bottom line, I read just about anything.

Q: What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?
A: Horror and thriller fiction should be entertaining, number one. I want readers of my work to feel as if the time spent between the pages was a good investment. If they can escape from their world for a few hours, connect to my characters, and feel like they’ve made some friends they’re going to miss when they turn the final page, then I’ve done my job.

Q: On a lighter note, what are the top five things on your bucket list?
A: Hopefully, I’m not in ‘bucket list’ territory yet, but here goes:
1. Cage dive with the Cape Cod great white sharks
2. Stroll across the Abbey Road crosswalk
3. Drive to Graceland in an RV
4. Own a 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 convertible
5. Gain the advantage over my Gibson SG

Excerpt from A Taker Of Morrows:

“Hello, Robert.” The stranger advanced toward him. “You’re late.”
RG steadied himself against the entryway table as his heart lurched in his chest, the air thickening like a smothering rag over his face. With gradual boldness, he slid his arm against the wall and triggered the light switch. “What the hell—?”
“I feared we’d missed each other,” the man interrupted. “That would have been a shame. You see, we have a problem to discuss.” His face hardened as he stepped forward, shoes clicking on the hardwood floor.
RG’s pulse quickened. “Who are you?”
“I wish I didn’t have to be here, Robert.” The stranger unfolded his hands from behind his back and stepped forward, “but I have a job to do.”
As the man advanced, RG backpedaled, snatching the old-school, wooden baseball bat stashed behind the coat rack. He never imagined grabbing the lumber for anything other than Tuesday night softball, but now found himself flapping it back and forth in a hardwood batter’s box.
The man took another step. “Death has come for you,” he said, shaking his head, “and no Louisville Slugger will stop it.”

Meet the Author

Stephen Paul Sayers grew up on the sands of Cape Cod and spent his first thirty-five years in New England before joining the University of Missouri as a research professor. When he’s not in his laboratory, he spends his time writing and devouring his favorite forms of genre fiction—horror, suspense, and thrillers. His short fiction has appeared in Unfading Daydream. A Taker of Morrows is his debut novel and the first in the planned Caretakers series.

Throughout his journey, he has accumulated five guitars, four herniated discs, three academic degrees, two dogs, and one wife, son, and daughter. He divides his time between Columbia, Missouri and Cape Cod writing and teaching.

Author links:
Website ~ Facebook ~ TwitterGoodreads ~ Amazon



And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 21st June, the prize is a $25 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Stephen Paul Sayers / Horror fiction / Books from America