Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Story Of My Life by Helen Keller

The Story Of My Life by Helen Keller
First published in America by Doubleday in 1903.

59 pages towards Olivia's fun August Reading Challenge to read an average of 50 pages each day throughout the month. Total = 1470 pages.

My 1900s read for this year's Goodreads / BookCrossing Decade Challenge - now completed!
1903 - The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
1914 - Rosshalde by Hermann Hesse
1929 - The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
1938 - The Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham
1940 - The Rights of Man by H G Wells
1959 - Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
1963 - The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
1974 - Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K Dick
1987 - The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
1996 - Berta La Larga by Cuca Canals
2001 - There Were Many Horses by Luiz Ruffato
2015 - Pierced by the Sun by Laura Esquivel

Where to buy this book:
Buy the ebook from
Buy the ebook from Kobo
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When she was 19 months old, Helen Keller (1880–1968) suffered a severe illness that left her blind and deaf. Not long after, she also became mute. Her tenacious struggle to overcome these handicaps - with the help of her inspired teacher, Anne Sullivan - is one of the great stories of human courage and dedication.
In this classic autobiography, first published in 1903, Miss Keller recounts the first 22 years of her life, including the magical moment at the water pump when, recognizing the connection between the word "water" and the cold liquid flowing over her hand, she realized that objects had names. Subsequent experiences were equally noteworthy: her joy at eventually learning to speak, her friendships with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edward Everett Hale and other notables, her education at Radcliffe (from which she graduated cum laude), and-underlying all-her extraordinary relationship with Miss Sullivan, who showed a remarkable genius for communicating with her eager and quick-to-learn pupil.
These and many other aspects of Helen Keller's life are presented here in clear, straightforward prose full of wonderful descriptions and imagery that would do credit to a sighted writer. Completely devoid of self-pity, yet full of love and compassion for others, this deeply moving memoir offers an unforgettable portrait of one of the outstanding women of the twentieth century.

For a woman to go to college at all in the early 1900s was achievement enough that a memoir of her struggle to get there would be of interest to me. When I think that Helen Keller was also deaf and blind, her determination becomes all the more incredible. I cannot remember a time when I didn't know of Keller's existence and I am sure my mother gave me a child's edition of her story (a Ladybird book?) as soon as I was old enough to read it! However I hadn't given this example of perseverance much thought since until I needed a 1900s-published book to complete the above Decade Challenge and decided to revisit Keller's story.

I like that this memoir is written in a straightforward style without the reliance on overly emotional scenes or appeals to readers for pity. Even in her early twenties, as she was on wroting this memoir, Keller is already well-read and erudite beyond her years. At one point she notes blind poet Homer's immortality through his writing and I thought that the same is now true of her. Helen Keller is a name I think many people would recognise. She frequently makes sure to give credit where it is due so I understood that her success was equally as a much a result of her family's support and Anne Sullivan's tireless dedication as it was to Helen own efforts. It was also interesting to see the facilities available to deaf and/or blind American children at this period - at least to those whose parents could afford it - and to see how those resources dwindled as Helen strode past the needs of a child's education, pioneering the right of disabled people to expect college educations and independent lives. An inspirational woman.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Helen Keller / Biography and memoir / Books from America

Friday, 18 August 2017

Amnesty by Cambria Hebert + Giveaway

Amnesty (Amnesia #2) by Cambria Hebert
Self published on August 15th 2017

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from /

Add Amnesty to your Goodreads

*Please note Amnesty contains subjects and situations that some readers may find disturbing.

There’s freedom in remembering.

My past is a double-edged sword. Damned if I remember; damned if I don’t. Recollection beyond the horrors I already have will change me. Change us. But what if I’m living a lie? What if everything I believe is wrong? What if who I thought I was isn’t real? If not her, then…

Who am I? Eddie says it doesn’t matter, but deep down, I’m terrified it does. I’m trapped. Held prisoner by a past I can’t remember and a future that may not belong to me. There’s a light, though not at the end of the tunnel…

It’s wavering in the distance, calling to me from Rumor Island. That light, it scares me far more than darkness. Am I brave enough to confront it? So many questions, so few answers. I don’t have a choice; the truth always finds a way to the surface. Finally learning who I truly am will be a permanent life sentence. Total punishment or absolute amnesty.

Meet the author:
Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).
Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo. Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

Author links:

And now for the giveaway!
Open to the US only (sorry) until August 24th, the winner will receive signed paperback copies of Amnesia and Amnesty + swag.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Cambria / Romance fiction / Books from America

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Benediction by Kent Haruf

Benediction by Kent Haruf
First published by Alfred A Knopf in America in February 2013.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One long last summer for Dad Lewis in his beloved town, Holt, Colorado. As old friends pass in and out to voice their farewells and good wishes, Dad's wife and daughter work to make his final days as comfortable as possible, knowing all is tainted by the heart-break of an absent son. Next door, a little girl with a troubled past moves in with her grandmother, and down town another new arrival, the Reverend Rob Lyle, attempts to mend strained relationships of his own.
Utterly beautiful, and devastating yet affirming, Kent Haruf's Benediction explores the pain, the compassion and the humanity of ordinary people.

Benediction is the third volume in Kent Haruf's trilogy set in the rural American community of Holt. I loved reading the first two books, Plainsong and Eventide, so had high hopes for Benediction - hopes which were not disappointed.

Benediction is set some years later so characters that had previously taken centre stage have moved on or passed on. Instead we spend our time with an older man, hardware store owner Dad Lewis, who is dying from cancer, his family, neighbours and staff. I think that this was definitely the most melancholy of the trilogy and not just because of its cancer storyline, but also due to a very real sense of Holt changing as a town. References to America being at war again and the Reverend's disastrous 'turn the other cheek' sermon were particularly poignant and timely given the ISIS Paris attacks last week and many hate-filled reactions I have seen to it.

Haruf was one of the best observational writers I have read. His creation of ordinary people is superb and I love the way he makes the minutiae of their daily lives interesting and important. At one point, Reverend Lyle says that he just wanted to see 'the precious ordinary' and that quote completely sums up Benediction for me.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Axelle Chandler / Contemporary fiction / Books from America

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Guest review: Jade by Rose Montague

Jade by Rose Montague
First published in America by Caliburn Press in November 2013.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Alibris
Buy the ebook from /
Buy the ebook from Kobo
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

Guest review by C H Clepitt
C H Clepitt has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from the University of the West of England. As her Bachelor’s Degree was in Drama, and her Master’s Dissertation focused on little known 18th Century playwright Susannah Centlivre, Clepitt’s novels are extremely dialogue driven, and it has often been observed that they would translate well to the screen.
Since graduating in 2007, she gained experience in community and music journalism, before establishing satirical news website, Newsnibbles in 2010. In 2011 she published her book, A Reason to Stay, which follows the adventures of disillusioned retail manager, Stephen, as he is thrust into village life and the world of AmDram. Clepitt’s feminist fantasy, The Book of Abisan not only crosses worlds, but confuses genres, and has been described as a crime drama with magic. She has often said that she doesn’t like the way that choosing a genre forces you to put your book into a specific little box, and instead she prefers to distort the readers’ expectations and keep them guessing. Her 2016 work, I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse does just that, as just like the characters, the readers won’t know what’s going on in this laugh out loud satirical scifi.

C H's rating: 5 of 5 stars

Meet Jade Smith, a magical mutt with a mission. A detective partnered with a shifter named Rolfe, she’s on the case to solve a slew of murders: Vamps are killing humans, and nobody knows why. When London Jane, the most powerful vamp in town, is implicated in the murders, Jade knows something isn’t right. Together with Jill, the Winter Queen of Faerie, Jade and Jane take their investigation underground.
On the run, with nowhere to hide, they uncover a secret that could destroy Faerie, as well as the human realm. Will Jade stop the killer in time? Or will she be the next victim?
Magic, mayhem, and mystery abound, and the odds are stacked against them; it’s three against three hundred.

C H says: I bought this book because I saw it advertised on Twitter and thought it looked quite good, and it did not disappoint. If you like Lost Girl then you’ll like this. Jade mixes run of the mill US cop fiction with urban fantasy.

It is set in a world where “supes” are integrated with humans, but obviously face discrimination, as humans discriminate against anything that’s different, don’t they? Jade is living proof that you don’t need to conform to anyone’s expectations of what you should be, and with a kickass team by her side she battles to thwart a conspiracy and save her friends.

I could not put this book down, and read it in a day and a half. It is non-stop action, with just the right amount of comedy and romance to balance it out. The characters are deftly drawn and you feel by the end that you kinda want to be their friend, only the whole constantly running from danger would put me off, I’d probably need a nap or something.

So, to the scores. Out of 10, I’d give it 9. This is because there were a few typos, and whilst this did not affect my enjoyment, and we all have typos (I am certainly not immune), in my way of thinking, 10 means perfection, so I doubt any book will ever get a full 10 from me. That said, the Amazon score is 5/5, because it’s really good. Really!

This review was first published on Newsnibbles

Thank you C H!

Do you have a book review that you would like to share on Literary Flits? Details of how to do so are Here. I look forward to hearing from you!

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Rose Montague / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

City Folk and Country Folk by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya

City Folk and Country Folk by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya
First published in Russian in Russia in the 1860s. English language translation by Nora Seligman Favorov published today, the 15th August 2017, by Columbia University Press (5th September in the UK).

272 pages towards Olivia's fun August Reading Challenge to read an average of 50 pages each day throughout the month. Total = 1411 pages.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the hardback from Waterstones

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An unsung gem of nineteenth-century Russian literature, City Folk and Country Folk is a seemingly gentle yet devastating satire of Russia's aristocratic and pseudo-intellectual elites in the 1860s. Translated into English for the first time, the novel weaves an engaging tale of manipulation, infatuation, and female assertiveness that takes place one year after the liberation of the empire's serfs.
Upending Russian literary cliches of female passivity and rural gentry benightedness, Sofia Khvoshchinskaya centers her story on a commonsense, hardworking noblewoman and her self-assured daughter living on their small rural estate. The antithesis of the thoughtful, intellectual, and self-denying young heroines created by Khvoshchinskaya's male peers, especially Ivan Turgenev, seventeen-year-old Olenka ultimately helps her mother overcome a sense of duty to her "betters" and leads the two to triumph over the urbanites' financial, amorous, and matrimonial machinations.
Sofia Khvoshchinskaya and her writer sisters closely mirror Britain's Brontes, yet Khvoshchinskaya's work contains more of Jane Austen's wit and social repartee, as well an intellectual engagement reminiscent of Elizabeth Gaskell's condition-of- England novels. Written by a woman under a male pseudonym, this brilliant and entertaining exploration of gender dynamics on a post-emancipation Russian estate offers a fresh and necessary point of comparison with the better-known classics of nineteenth-century world literature

A lovely comedy of class, manners and snobbery, I think City Folk And Country Folk should appeal to Jane Austen fans the world over. Khvoshchinskaya's writing, especially her dialogue, is wonderfully modern in style, sharp and vivacious, and her wickedly well observed characters are tremendous fun to spend time with. I liked that while the novel doesn't shy away from depicting social problems and the upheaval in Russia at the time, Khvoshchinskaya avoids getting bogged down in depressing detail. As Russian literature of the era goes, I think City Folk and Country Folk is refreshing breeze!

The characters particularly appealed to me because they are vivid and wonderfully alive, sometimes overstated but never grotesquely so, and women lead the narrative rather than simply being decorative adornments to men. The somewhat overwhelmed mother, Nastasya, and her irritatingly giggly but deceptively smart daughter, Olenka, stand up for themselves against repressive etiquette and a fabulously pompous reclusive aunt who frequently had me giggling almost as much as Olenka. The pair are precariously placed in the middle of several competing situations, each of which would see them at least lose face and I loved how Khvoshchinskaya had them navigate these tricky waters. Working-class serf peasants have just gained the right to land of their own which Nastasya must provide while at the same time an educated gentleman wishes to take up residence in her bath house and a neighbour wishes to marry Olenka off to her dolt of a protegee. The expectations of behaviour and mindless obedience based solely on perceived class and ancestry provide much of the humour, especially when these expectations are bluntly confounded.

I was surprised to discover that the new Columbia University Press edition of City Folk and Country Folk is its first publication in English. I am sure it should already have been a literary hit outside its native country! Strong heroines and the historical setting (albeit contemporary at its time of writing) are well suited to modern tastes and I believe Khvoshchinskaya's modern style should appeal to a wide readership.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya / Humorous fiction / Books from Russia

Monday, 14 August 2017

Child Of Tibet by Soname Yangchen

Child Of Tibet by Soname Yangchen with Vicki MacKenzie
Published in the UK by Piatkus Books in 2006.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing.

184 pages towards Olivia's fun August Reading Challenge to read an average of 50 pages each day throughout the month. Total = 1139.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy from independent booksellers via Alibris
Buy the book from

How I got this book:
Bought from a Rowcroft charity shop in Torquay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book tells the remarkable story of Soname's triumph over adversity, told against the backdrop of a turbulent and dangerous Tibet. Soname was born in the harsh Tibetan countryside during the Chinese occupation. When she was just sixteen Soname risked death in a freedom trek across the Himalayas, finally arriving in Dharamsala, home in exile of the Dalai Lama. Even after managing to escape from Tibet, she faced further dangers and heartache in India, being forced by destitution to give her daughter away. Soname later managed to reach England, where she met and married an Englishman and came to live in Brighton. Her hidden talent was discovered when she sang a traditional Tibetan song at a wedding reception, unaware that a member of a famous band was a guest. Concerts followed. Tracing her long-lost daughter has long been Soname's preoccupation, and it is hoped that her daughter will finally join her in England later this year. Hers is a story of immense will, unbelievable courage and, above all, an indomitable soaring free spirit.

Child Of Tibet is an inspiring autobiography, an uplifting tale of one woman's unceasing attempts to make a better life for herself in the face of extreme circumstances. Prior to reading this book I was aware of the Tibetan struggle to shake off Chinese rule, but I had no idea of the realities of living under their ideology or how completely opposed many of their rules are to traditional Tibetan Buddhist beliefs. For Soname, escaping the repressive regime regime was vital because she probably would never have been anything other than a house slave in her native land.

Despite her isolation and poor treatment in Tibet, Soname's love for her country shines through every page. Her descriptions of her childhood farming community, the beauty and majesty of the mountainous landscape, and the everyday difficulties of living in such terrain and at such altitude - water can take two hours to boil! - opened my eyes to a previously hidden culture. I was saddened to learn how much has been destroyed during. the Chinese occupation.

Once Soname's escape begins I was in awe of her mental strength and the dedication of those people travelling with her. I am sure in the same situation I would have given up (and died), but Soname's faith and ability to be open to opportunity gives her the strength to persevere. I was amazed at the variety of people she encounters, a woman with basically nothing hob-nobbing with the super-rich, and I would have liked to learn more about aspects such as the exiled Tibetan community in India. Child Of Tibet is not a long enough book to encompass Soname's incredible life so it did at times feel superficial. Soname is an amazing woman and I am glad to have discovered her story and her music through reading Child Of Tibet.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Soname Yangchen / Biography and memoir / Books from Tibet

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Mind Verses by Deena Mehjabeen + Giveaway

Mind Verses by Deena Mehjabeen
Self published in June 2017.

91 pages towards Olivia's fun August Reading Challenge to read an average of 50 pages each day throughout the month. Total = 955.

Where to buy this book:
Download the free ebook from Smashwords
Download the free ebook from Kobo
Buy the ebook from
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Downloaded the ebook from Smashwords

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mind Verses is a collection of poetry and prose that is born from the author's experiences, musings and in moments of joy, insecurity, grief and the feelings that are sometimes hard to voice. The four parts in the collection - Life, Love, Loss and Lessons are written with the hope to resonate with you, the reader.

I downloaded Mind Verses when I spotted it included in the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale. That sale has now finished of course, but you can still get your free copy via either Smashwords or Kobo - links above.

Deena Mehjabeen writes intense personal poetry exploring her life, family and romantic relationships, yet manages to make her poems universal. Despite Bangladesh being five thousand miles from Britain, its culture very different, I could easily identify with Mehjabeen's grief and longing, anger and love. In several of her poems such as Evil and Who Gave You The Right? she speaks for women everywhere. In Missing You she portrays searing grief on the death of her grandfather. Paradox and Silence could have been written about me!

I frequently felt quite privileged to be allowed such emotional closeness through this poetry to a woman I will probably never meet. Not all the poems spoke to me as strongly and there is perhaps too much theme repetition at times, but I am certainly glad to have discovered Mehjabeen's writing in this strong collection.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Deena Mehjabeen / Poetry / Books from Bangladesh