Sunday, 25 June 2017

The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane


The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane
First published in the UK by Granta in 2007.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the ebook from Kobo
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Wild Places is both an intellectual and a physical journey, and Macfarlane travels in time as well as space. Guided by monks, questers, scientists, philosophers, poets and artists, both living and dead, he explores our changing ideas of the wild. From the cliffs of Cape Wrath, to the holloways of Dorset, the storm-beaches of Norfolk, the saltmarshes and estuaries of Essex, and the moors of Rannoch and the Pennines, his journeys become the conductors of people and cultures, past and present, who have had intense relationships with these places.
Certain birds, animals, trees and objects - snow-hares, falcons, beeches, crows, suns, white stones - recur, and as it progresses this densely patterned book begins to bind tighter and tighter. At once a wonder voyage, an adventure story, an exercise in visionary cartography, and a work of natural history, it is written in a style and a form as unusual as the places with which it is concerned. It also tells the story of a friendship, and of a loss. It mixes history, memory and landscape in a strange and beautiful evocation of wildness and its vital importance.

If you are looking to get out into nature this summer before Michael Gove does away with Britain's natural world altogether, allow yourself to be inspired by The Wild Places. I loved immersing myself in MacFarlane's descriptions of the wild places he visited around Britain and Ireland, finding this book even more inspirational that the previous one of his I read, The Old Ways. While I don't think I'm personally up to sleeping out on iced over tarns, I would love to discover for myself some of the places he so eloquently describes.

My only real disappointment with this book, which may be more true in the Kindle version I read than for a paper version, is that the text suddenly ends at around 77% to be followed by an extensive bibliography and index. I've now several further titles to search out, but I mistakenly thought I still had hours more reading first!


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Books by Robert Macfarlane / Natural world / Books from England

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Not In The Eye by C Z Hazard


Not in the Eye by C.Z. Hazard
Published by B*Kitty Press on the 23rd December 2013.

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

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a world running rapidly out of new ideas, the most precious commodity is innovation. In a future so near that it may already be upon us, Western society faces cultural bankruptcy. Our creative heritage has been looted, recycled and plagiarised to the point of exhaustion. The entertainment industry has traded artistic merit for commercial success and mass appeal. Everything is just a rehash of something that came before. Nothing is original.
When a radical new phenomenon erupts (quite literally) onto the porno scene, it changes the industry forever, and forces audiences, jaded by endless reiteration, to sit up and take notice. It’s a watershed moment in these culturally bereft times, and – for a select few – it’s a chance to make some serious money. But wherever there’s serious money to be made, you can bet there’s a lawsuit just around the corner. Join Indigo Julius, self-styled godfather of NuGonzo™ journalism, as he searches for the story behind the story behind the most controversial porn sensation in history, and examines its far-reaching consequences. Across a series of probing interviews with the stars of this media spectacular, Indigo brings you their compelling – if often conflicting – versions of events, as everyone tries to stake a claim in this pornographic goldrush.

C Z Hazard is Nico Reznick's editor so I discovered this book of his after reading her novel, Anhedonia. Told through a series of overlapping interviews, Not In The Eye explores an imagined consequence of society's insatiable search for novelty and drama in a near-future America. Humorously named writer, John Thomas (a running gag), might have invented an innovative gimmick that made incredible profits for the pornography industry. Or maybe his then boss, Mike Man, should have all the credit? Either way, their protacted court case means the only people profiting right now are lawyers and possibly influential journalist Indigo Julius, our interviewer, who is piggybacking on John and Mike's notoriety to increase his own mass appeal.

As an examination of the lengths industries will go to to maintain audience interest, Not In The Eye provides a light but thoughtful look at Taking It Too Far. I liked the story idea and wouldn't be surprised if something along those lines becomes (or already is!) reality in a struggling studio. However I didn't think the character portrayals were strong enough to set our protagonists up as individual people. Perhaps that was the point - they are all actually shallow media-tarts - but without additional detail to round out these creations, I found it difficult to really become involved with their story.


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Books by C Z Hazard / Humorous fiction / Books from England

Friday, 23 June 2017

Guest Review: The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway


The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
First published in America by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1952.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
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Buy the book from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the ebook from Kobo

Guest review by Scott Kauffman
Californian author and attorney Scott Kauffman got in touch to offer me a review copy of his novel Revenants, The Odyssey Home which I am looking forward to reading and reviewing in July. His fiction career began with an in-class book report written in Mrs. Baer's eighth-grade English class when, due to a conflict of priorities, he failed to read the book. An exercise in invention was called for which scored more highly than previously when he actually read the book. Thus began Scott's life-long apprenticeship as a teller of tales. Scott has kindly donated a Guest Review to Literary Flits and chose Ernest Hemingway's Pulitzer Prize winning classic, The Old Man And The Sea.

Scott's rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The last novel Ernest Hemingway saw published, The Old Man and the Sea has proved itself to be one of the enduring works of American fiction. It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Using the simple, powerful language of a fable, Hemingway takes the timeless themes of courage in the face of defeat and personal triumph won from loss and transforms them into a magnificent twentieth-century classic.

Scott says: Wondering if it had improved any with age in the forty-five years since I garnered my gentleman’s “C” on a book report from an English teacher likely being generous, I again cracked open The Old Man and the Sea. While my first reading of a fish story about the one that got away bored me to tears, or maybe only to Bonanza that evening, my second left me unsettled for Old Man I see now is Hemingway’s brooding meditation on approaching death. Like Santiago who catches the biggest fish of his life only to lose it to sharks and in that moment knows his best days as a fisherman are forever behind him, so too Hemingway saw his best days as a writer slipping fast as fish line through his fingers. Old Man proved to be his last novel, and he wrote little thereafter that did not require heavy editing. In its pages he foreshadows his own suicide ten years later on an Idaho mountaintop where, ever the showoff, he unloaded both shotgun barrels into the back of his mouth. A not surprising death for a man whose father took his own life as did two siblings and at least one grandchild. A death foreshadowed even earlier in The Sun Also Rises, set almost 30 years to the day before his suicide, and later in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Hemingway leaves us with the question of how should one meet death? Santiago’s answer is by struggling on come what may: A man, he insists over and over, can be destroyed but should never allow himself to be defeated. Old Santiago fought the good fight until he had nothing but a skeleton of a great fish left to defend and sailed home to die dreaming of the lions he once saw in his youth as they played on a beach in Africa.

So what to make of Hemingway in the end giving in to the despair of defeat? His failing in the fight he wanted most to make, feared his whole life he would not make, and in the end did not. Perhaps this final tragedy, of not going down with both fists swinging, is a fate awaiting us all unless we have lived without ideals, which, Hemingway says, would for us be the greater tragedy. Hemingway’s Dilemma tells us that life gives us a choice between two tragedies: Living a life absent of ideals or living one with ideals but in the end failing to live up to them.



Thank you Scott!

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!


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Books by Ernest Hemingway / Adventure fiction / Books from America

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard


Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard
First published in the UK by Bantam Press in January 2010.

I registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing

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

How I got this book:
Swapped for in the book exchange at Serro Da Bica campsite, Ourique, Portugal.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eldritch Swan is a dead man. Or at least that is what his nephew Stephen has always been told. Until one day Eldritch walks back into his life after 36 years in an Irish prison. He won't reveal any of the details of his incarceration, insisting only that he is innocent of any crime.

His return should be of interest to no-one. But the visit of a solicitor with a mysterious request will take Eldritch and his sceptical nephew from sleepy seaside Paignton to London, where an exhibition of Picasso paintings from the prestigious Brownlow collection proves to be the starting point on a journey that will transport them back to the Second World War and the mystery behind Eldritch's imprisonment.

In 1940, he was personal assistant to a wealthy diamond dealer in Antwerp, whose collection of modern art was the envy of many. The subsequent disappearance of those paintings began a trail of murder and intrigue which was to have a catastrophic effect on Eldritch's life. But untangling the web of murky secrets, family ties and old betrayals that conceals the truth will prove to be a dangerous pursuit for Eldritch and Stephen. Before long, a mysterious enemy is doing everything possible to stop the truth emerging - at whatever cost

I was pleasantly surprised by this thriller which was much more convoluted and well-plotted than I expected it to be. The plotlines jump between two main time periods - the 1940s and the 1970s - and I was interested in the differences in detail between the two. Goddard evokes each period well and I loved his scene-setting which adds immensely to the atmosphere of this novel. Subsequent generations of several families become involved in the intrigues which did mean I needed to concentrate in order to keep awareness of who was who, but that is certainly not a bad thing! Overall I found Long Time Coming to be an enjoyable and satisfying read.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Robert Goddard / Thrillers / Books from England

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

First There Wasn't, Then There Was by Troy Blackford


First There Wasn't, Then There Was by Troy Blackford
Self-published in America in February 2014.

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

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four young men have noticed a peculiar man wandering around the streets downtown where they work, muttering to himself with a trashbag slung over his shoulder. After one of them hatches a plan to capture the strange old man's words, the group quickly realize that the fellow has seen and done things that defy the imagination. A metaphysical tale of action and adventure that takes you beyond the bounds of normal human experience and into a world of secret colors and hidden doorways, of uncoiling panthers and recoiling nailguns, 'First There Wasn't, Then There Was' is a novella unlike any other.

I read Troy Blackford's short story collection Flotsam nearly three years ago so already had an idea of his genre-defying style and the darkly surreal way in which his stories interpret the world. This novella-length story certainly didn't disappoint on that score! We begin by meeting four young men whose only genuine commonality seems to be their smoke breaks leaning against the wall of their office building and I loved Blackford's portrayal of this group, recognising in it similar cliques with whom I have worked over the years.

First There Wasn't, Then There Was is a real lesson in not judging a person by their appearance. The apparently homeless tramp about whom the leaners set themselves a challenge of learning more, turns out to be an ingenious storyteller with quite an adventure to recount! Adventure, thriller and fantasy blend in his tale which I enjoyed reading. I did feel that some parts of the novella felt too rushed and I would have liked stronger character development alongside the action, but otherwise this is a fun story.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Troy Blackford / Horror fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Parthenon Bomber by Christos Chrissopoulos


The Parthenon Bomber by Christos Chrissopoulos
First published in Greek in Greece in 2010. English language translation by John Cullen published by Other Press today, the 20th June 2017.

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

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A novel at once metaphorical and iconoclastic, The Parthenon Bomber exposes the painful and maddening paradox of contemporary Greece. “Blow up the Acropolis” was the 1944 call to action by the surrealist circle the Harbingers of Chaos. Sixty years later, a young man obliges. The Parthenon has been destroyed, the city orphaned. Is it still Athens? All eyes are on the empty hill, now smoky and ashen. Cries of distress, indifference, and fanaticism fill the air. What were his reasons? How will he be punished for this unspeakable act of violence? What does it mean for Greece, now deprived of its greatest symbol? This provocative tale reveals the unique dilemma of a country still searching for an identity beyond its past as the birthplace of Western civilization.

Originally published in Greece seven years ago, The Parthenon Bomber has only now been translated into English and is an intense and unusual novella. The story is told from a number of viewpoints beginning with the testimony of a man known as Ch K who, inspired by a Second World War philosophy, charged himself with the destruction of The Parthenon. As readers we do not know if his words are true or even if they are genuine, but the confession is certainly compelling in its portrayal of insane single-mindedness. I loved this strong start to the book and was also moved by the later testimony of a firing squad soldier. I could have done with fewer witness statements although I appreciated that these brief paragraphs allowed a brief respite from other chapter's intensity.

Surrealist poet Yorgos Makris did exist and did actually call for the destruction of all monuments in order to free Greece from her hankering for her triumphal past. This reasoning did resonate with me as a similar rose-tinted nostalgia affects many people in Britain, but I found the idea of destroying stone monuments in order to achieve such mental freedom a bizarre concept. Chrissopoulos seamlessly blends that past with our modern-day fear of wanton terrorism to create this powerful insight into a bomber's psyche and also into the thoughts of people he leaves effectively bereaved by the loss of their treasured icon.


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Books by Christos Chrissopoulos / Novellas / Books from Greece

Monday, 19 June 2017

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel


Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
First published in Spanish in Mexico as Como agua para chocolate by Doubleday in 1989. English language translation by Carol and Thomas Christensen.

I registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing

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

How I got this book:
Bought from the book table at Torquay indoor market

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit. The classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef. She shares special points of her favorite preparations with listeners throughout the story. The Spanish language edition of the best-selling "Like Water For Chocolate" is a remarkable success in its own right. Now, in this mass market edition, thousands of new readers will be able to partake in the sumptuous, romantic, and hilarious tale of Tita, the terrific cook with an extra special something in her sauce.

After reading Pierced By The Sun last year I was delighted to find a copy of Like Water For Chocolate in Torquay's Indoor Market. The book stall there raises money for a homelessness charity so I am always happy to buy a book or two as well as leaving my Bookcrossing swaps for others to enjoy. Like Water For Chocolate is very different to Pierced By The Sun and includes frequent episodes of the magical realism that I love in South American fiction. In its naive fairytale style the book reminded me of Berta La Larga by Cuca Canals although this one includes incidences of rape and more extreme violence. The characters have a fairytale quality of behaving bizarrely due to unrealistic magical motivations but I felt that this worked well within the novel's world. Tita is a poignant and sympathetic creation and I liked her a lot although I wasn't convinced by her all-consuming desire for Pedro as he seemed a weak waster to me! Mama Elena is also excellent - a really vindictive and selfish woman! However my attitude towards her did soften as we learned more about her past.

Esquivel wrote Like Water For Chocolate in twelve chapters, each focused around a particular traditional recipe so this is definitely a book for foodies. If I knew what all the ingredients were I would have been tempted to make a few of the dishes myself, especially when we see the overwhelming reactions they have among family and friends when Tita cooks them!

If you like logical, realistic fiction, you will probably be more irritated by Like Water For Chocolate than entranced. If you like a sense of the whimsical though, I would certainly recommend giving this novel a try. It is a fairly quick, easy read and one with plenty of humour and romance alongside the heartbreak. A good book for a hot summer afternoon!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Laura Esquivel / Women's fiction / Books from Mexico

Sunday, 18 June 2017

The Good Old Boys by Elmer Kelton


The Good Old Boys by Elmer Kelton
First published in America by Doubleday in 1978.

I registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing

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

How I got this book:
Bought from the OXFAM shop in Torquay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hewey Calloway has a problem. In his West Texas home of 1906, the land and the way of life that he loves are changing too quickly for his taste.Hewey dreams of freedom - he wants only to be a footloose horseback cowboy, endlessly wandering the open range. But the open range of his childhood is slowly disappearing: land is being parceled out, and barbed-wire fences are springing up all over. As if that weren't enough, cars and other machines are invading Hewey's simple cowboy life, stinking up the area and threatening to replace horse travel. As Hewey struggles against the relentless stream of "progress, " he comes to realize that the simple life of his childhood is gone, that a man can't live a life whose time has passed, and that every choice he makes - even those that lead to happiness - requires a sacrifice.

Billed as western authored, this novel by Elmer Kelton is certainly set in that world but in the early 1900s - long past the cowboy heyday. I was reminded strongly of Kent Haruf's Plainsong trilogy by the nostalgic style and emphasis on strong characterisation over action. Despite being set at a different time, I think fans of those books would enjoy this one and vice versa. We follow a cowboy, Hewey Calloway, coming home to West Texas after years away to find his brother's smallholding practically bankrupt and his eldest nephew more interested in the combustion engine than the skills needed for a life on horseback.

The Good Old Boys is a lament for times gone by, but is in no way a sad or depressing book. Kelton weaves humour throughout the novel whether it is Hewey bickering with his sister-in-law, Eve, or attempting to rope an automobile as if it were cattle. I found the book an easy read and one from which I was loathe to tear myself away because I enjoyed spending time in Hewey's world. As a typical western, The Good Old Boys doesn't really do its cover justice, but as immersive historical fiction, this is an excellent and rewarding read.


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Books by Elmer Kelton / Westerns / Books from America

Saturday, 17 June 2017

The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco


The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco
First published in Italy in Italian by Bompiani as Il nome della rosa in 1980. English language translation by William Weaver published in 1993.

I registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing

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

How I got this book:
Purchased second-hand from Livros da Ria Formosa in Lagos, Portugal.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate.When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey where extraordinary things are happening under the over of night. A spectacular popular and critical success, The Name of the Rose is not only a narrative of a murder investigation but an astonishing chronicle of the Middle Ages.

A brilliant book, certainly one of the most difficult I have ever read and not least because of how much GCSE Latin I have forgotten. The Name Of The Rose is billed as a murder mystery but is also so much more. The mystery plot is interesting but what kept me gripped is the amazing portrayal of medieval life with its insane yet deadly serious theological arguments. Dozens of different sects, all of which claim to be the true Christians, gain or lose power and prestige dependent on the current definition of religious truth. And woe betide any man finding himself on the 'wrong' side - torture and death await. Women, of course, are practically sub-human so are not even afforded the right to argue! This is a fantastic book that beautifully illuminates a bizarre world, one I am grateful I did not experience first hand.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Umberto Eco / Crime fiction / Books from Italy

Friday, 16 June 2017

Speaking With Strategic Impact by Kate LeVan + Giveaway


Speaking with Strategic Impact: Four Steps to Extraordinary Presence and Persuasion by Kate LeVan
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 152 pages
Genre: Business
Publisher: Delton Press
Release date: May 24, 2017
Tour dates: June 12 to 30, 2017
Content Rating: G

Buy the Book:


Book Description:

Speaking with Strategic Impact is for business people who make their living—or their mark—through presentations long and short.

It’s a must-read if you’re a consultant, analyst, pitch team leader, roadshow executive, technology specialist, project manager, internal or external marketer, sales rep, subject matter expert or innovator.

Do your presentations unexpectedly fall flat? Do others hijack your meetings? Do you spend more time compiling slide decks than actually influencing decision-makers? Has someone vaguely told you that you “should look more confident up there” or that you “lack gravitas”? Have you watched TED Talks but wonder how you can bring that level of effectiveness into real business presentations?

Speaking with Strategic Impact gives you the key to leadership presence and persuasion. More than just tips and tricks, it outlines a discipline for navigating real business situations with consistently superior outcomes that’s favored by top business schools and Fortune 500 companies. You’ll get specific strategic and tactical advice to keep you on the mark in your presentations and meetings—and differentiate you from the vast majority of business presenters.

Read Speaking with Strategic Impact to master the means by which you make a living and a difference in the world!





Meet the Author:

Kate LeVan trains, coaches and collaborates on business communication effectiveness with major corporations worldwide and as an instructor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Her training consistently receives top ratings from executive development program participants for its simplicity, applicability and career-changing impact.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 8
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a Rafflecopter giveaway




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Books by Kate LeVan / Self help books / Books from America

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Quantum Dream by Nicholas Boyd Crutchley + Giveaway


Quantum Dream by Nicholas Boyd Crutchley
Published by Night Owl in April 2017.

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway for your chance to win 1 of 5 copies of Quantum Dream. Ends on the 7th of July.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the ebook from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Solomon is rapper, a rhymer, a drifter. He heads an ecoterrorist organisation dedicated to stopping the global economy destroying habitats, polluting ecosystems, and creating synthetic biological organisms. The global economy is guided by quantum artificial intelligences (QAIs), who interface with people through the psi-q-net. Human beings, more connected with corporations than the natural world, shop the world towards ecological oblivion.
As runaway climate change and resource wars threaten the human species, Solomon and his ecoterrorist organisation create Gaia, a quantum artificial intelligence who has compassion. Gaia lives in the Quantum Dream, the collective unconscious of the world’s QAIs. Through the dreams of quantum computers and people, she influences the world to build a starship, New Hope, which will allow humankind to create an experimental ecocentric society on a distant world, popularly known as Dragonland.
Decades pass until, through a quantum quirk, Chaos, another QAI like Gaia, is spawned in the Quantum Dream. Chaos wishes to destroy humankind for its ecocide, and so infects Earth’s billions with the Blood Plague. Only those aboard the starship, New Hope, are safe as they lay in stasis, and travel to Dragonland. However, Chaos plots to defeat Gaia, and drive those aboard the starship insane through their dreams.
Can Solomon and Gaia stop Chaos from exterminating humankind? And can they then guide the star travellers to create an ecocentric society on a distant world, and save humankind from itself?


The overall plotline of this dystopian science fiction novel appealed to me as I am very concerned about the future of Earth and how humanity's actions are rapidly destroying so much of our planet. Crutchley has vividly imagined a society totally dependent on technology and in desperate need of a new planetary home. I loved his descriptions of settings and dreamscapes which range from the identifiable to the fantastically imagined. This book blends ancient mythology with science fiction ideas resulting in a truly unique landscape. My problem with it all however was that I frequently found myself unable to work out exactly what was going on. The overall arc made sense, but the twists and turns lost me so I appreciated the inspired prose of individual scenes, but without understanding their place in the main narrative. Admittedly I don't read much science fiction so perhaps a reader more familiar with the genre would find Quantum Dream easier to follow.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Nicholas Boyd Crutchley / Science fiction / Books from Scotland

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A Kind Of Light by H R F Keating


A Kind Of Light by H R F Keating
Written in 1987 and recently discovered by Keating's widow. Endeavour Press edition published in the UK on the 1st of June 2017.

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

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thomasina le Mesurier writes in her journal of finding a miraculous plant which has the potential to save thousands of lives with its medicinal properties. A plant which could have saved her beloved mentor and friend, Doctor Diver, who fell ill with the Typhoid Fever. She insists on venturing deep into the jungle to source the healing plant and take it back to England. Although told she is being foolhardy, Thomasina ventures off, following Doctor Diver’s notes… But is she chasing after a delusion? The forest is rumoured to hold unmentionable terrors and unfathomable enigmas, but regardless, Thomasina embarks on her journey into the heart of Africa, accompanied only by three native bearers. Can she survive the dangers of the dark? And what will her journey bring?
In the present day a young couple, David Teigh and Theresa Olivia Mountjoy, stumble upon an article expounding the writings of Thomasina. They soon set off on their journey, following in Thomasina’s footsteps, to discover the remaining notebooks preserved in the depths of Africa, all the while recording a documentary film of their treacherous journey. Will the adventurers’ respective searches come to a satisfying, or a more macabre, end? One thing is certain, no traveller who undertakes this expedition can emerge unchanged.
A homage to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, A Kind of Light will take you on a perilous journey through Africa’s forests.

I enjoyed the historical storyline in A Kind Of Light. Thomasina is an interesting character and I appreciated Keating's detailed and evocative descriptions of the Congolese Forest in the nineteenth century. I found it easy to envisage the incredible land Thomasina traversed and the people she met. Unfortunately her journey only makes up half of this short novel and the present-day (at the time the book was written) narrative didn't work well for me. It does have a few good characters, but these are in supporting roles and not the two leads. Theresa, known as Tom, and her colleague-partner David spend most of their time talking in odd swathes of dialogue that I didn't find at all convincing. Their journey in Thomasina's footsteps was perpetually overshadowed by lengthy conversations about whether or not they should get married. Overall, A Kind Of Light passed an afternoon and there were enough engaging elements to the book to keep me reading. However, in comparison to Heart Of Darkness, this book doesn't come anywhere close to the classic's power and atmosphere.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by H R F Keating / Historical fiction / Books from England

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Dancing In The Rain by Lucy Appadoo + Giveaway


Dancing in the Rain (The Italian Family Series) by Lucy Appadoo
​Category: Adult Fiction, 274 pages
Genre: Historical Coming of Age/Romance/Family Drama
Publisher: Lucy Appadoo
Release date: March 24, 2017
Tour dates: June 5 to 23, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is physical abuse and death involved.)

Buy the Book:


Fifteen-year old Valeria Allegro works diligently on the family farm in Italy, where she is torn between her duty to her family and her desire to find freedom from her strict, domineering father. She finds solace in Dario, a young student who provides a blissful escape—until a neighbour’s son, Gregorio, decides he wants her for himself.

This raises an alarm for her father, which leads to family conflict and aggression. When Dario is threatened and her family is plagued by a series of suspicious accidents, Valeria is desperate to keep her loved ones safe. Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?

Meet the Author:



Lucy Appadoo is a registered counsellor and wellness coach with a part-time private practice. She also works as a rehabilitation counsellor for the Australian government. In her spare time, she self-publishes or writes nonfiction and fiction texts. She previously worked as a rehabilitation consultant, caseworker, English as a second language teacher, and proofreader.

Lucy has postgraduate diplomas in psychology, education, and English as a Second Language teaching, as well as specialised qualifications in grief counselling and hypnosis. She has also completed wellness coaching courses (levels 1-3) at Wellness Coaching Australia.

Lucy enjoys reading romantic suspense, romance, thrillers, crime novels, family/historical drama, and sagas. She writes in the genres of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and romance. She has enjoyed travelling to exotic places such as Madrid, Mauritius, and Italy, and draws on these experiences in her creative writing.

Lucy’s favourite authors include Kendra Elliot, Christiane Heggan, Theresa Ragan, Tara Moss, Nicholas Sparks, Adriana Trigiani, Erica Spindler, and James Patterson (to name a few).

Lucy’s interests include meditation, playing tennis, journal writing, reading fiction and nonfiction texts about writing, coaching, and counselling, ongoing professional development, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and socialising with friends and family.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Books by Lucy Appadoo / Historical fiction / Books from Australia

Monday, 12 June 2017

Dead On Ice by Lauren Carr + Giveaway


Dead On Ice by Lauren Carr
First self-published in America in 2012. Audiobook edition narrated by Mike Alger published by Acorn Book Services in November 2016.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy from independent booksellers via Alibris
Buy the audiobook download from Audible via Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via iRead Book Tours
(See the other stops on the tour)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spunky Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin's basement. It doesn't take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star's roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too - because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

Dead On Ice is a complicated small town mystery with a large cast of characters so I needed to keep concentrating throughout the book to understand all the twists and turns of the case. Carr starts with a flashback prologue depicting a bullying event from the 1970s before launching into the present-day Ohio mystery. For a reasonably short book - only six hours of audio - there is a lot packed in and I particularly liked the antagonistic relationships such as those between warring elderly rivals Doris and Mildred, and between our sleuth Joshua and his girlfriend's cat, Irving. The cat frequently steals the show from all the other characters! Narrator Mike Alger was a good choice to read Dead On Ice because his voice has the versatility to cope with the many and varied cast members and the tension of the novel.

I did find that for me there was sometimes too much padding in certain scenes which upset the overall pace of the story. This tended to be at time when people were talking and eating and we were told every single bite as well as the conversation. Other than these such moments though, I found Dead On Ice to be an entertaining and engaging read. Despite it being a murder mystery, the violence is kept pretty much out of sight so I was never confronted with unexpectedly gruesome details and generally the story remains believable enough. The romance between Cameron and Joshua is nicely portrayed, underpinned by a strong friendship between the two and I imagine that they will go on to have many more crime-solving adventures together.


Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns! Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband and three dogs (including the real Gnarly’s klutzy nephew Sterling) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with Lauren: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook



And now it's giveaway time!

To celebrate Lauren' Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour one $100 Amazon gift card will be given away to a lucky winner. The giveaway is open internationally until the 22nd of July.



Here's the giveaway widget:






Good luck! 




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Books by Lauren Carr / Crime fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Other People's Business by H J Moat


Other People's Business: Much Ado About Nothing - Shakespeare's Romantic Comedy Retold by H J Moat
Self-published in April 2017.

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

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some cupid kills with arrows, some with traps... 
Bee and Ben haven't always hated each other, but they certainly hate each other now. They hate each other so much that it threatens to derail the wedding of their best friends, Imogen and Will. But then something unthinkable happens and turns everything on its head. Within the wedding party, some hearts swell and others are broken, but will anyone work out that relationships are rarely quite what they seem?
This modern retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing explores the idea of whether we're ever really in control of our own romantic destiny and if true love really can conquer all.

After reading Othello and its modern retelling, New Boy, recently I was delighted to be contacted by author Hollie Moat offering me a review copy of her novel, Other People's Business, which is a retelling of William Shakespeare's romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. Again I listened to my audiobook of the original work before immersing myself in the new retelling.

Other People's Business is written in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of Bee and Ben. I liked the chatty prose style and that this device allows us to witness events through each character's eyes and to learn their innermost thoughts at the same time. I was immediately drawn to Bee who I think is someone I would get on with in real life. It took longer for Ben to be defined, but he does have some great lines and both are very funny when they are sparring. Of course imagining David Tennant as Ben (he played the role in my audiobook) added to his appeal! Moat sticks closely to Much Ado About Nothing's main plotline, but her story is firmly rooted in the present day and I actually preferred her interpretation of moments such as Imogen's (Hero) death which makes more sense as Moat tells it.

Romance fiction isn't my preferred genre, but I did enjoy reading Other People's Business because it manages to be witty and humorous as well as romantic. Sharply observed characters such as pompous businessman Laurence and devoted Dad Len are a joy to encounter and even soppy Imogen was entertainingly exasperating. Throw in a sumptuous wedding and enough booze to render everyone comatose and you have all the ingredients for a great summer read!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Hollie Moat / Women's fiction / Books from England

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Magic Dogs of San Vicente by Mark Fishman


The Magic Dogs of San Vicente by Mark Fishman
First published in Canada by Guernica Editions in March 2016.

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

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Magic Dogs of San Vicente is set in the aftermath of the war in El Salvador (1980-1992), a war in which the two Flores brothers were arrested and savagely tortured, but a war that they ultimately survived. On a heat-soaked morning in El Salvador's wild countryside, the Flores brothers encounter something -- part vision, part phantasm, part shuddering echo of their past -- that almost frightens them out of their wits. What follows is a magical, dream-like and picaresque journey, as the Flores brothers try to find what will set them free from the thing that they have witnessed and from the tragedies of their past.

The Magic Dogs Of San Vicente is set in El Salvador some twenty-five years after a time of great violence and disappearances. The Flores brothers, Jose Matias and Wilber Eduardo, were arrested and tortured during this time and, although they survived more or less physically intact, are still haunted by what they saw and were made to do during their imprisonment. On the day when this book is set, they see and are terrified by a mystical apparition from yhis past and we meet them as they are hiding behind boulders unsure whether to run or remain concealed.

Fishman is a Canadian author, but has obviously immersed himself in South American fiction as well as defining a unique style of his own. I loved the magical sweeps of imagination and intricately detailed observations, his breathless stream-of-consciousness writing and the rhythmically repetitive prose which, at times, felt like the refrains of some ancient epic poem or ballad. I have since read other reviews though where readers strongly disliked this book for exactly the same reasons so I guess it is a 'Marmite' read - love it or hate it! The magic dogs themselves are always at the periphery of our story, but Jose Matias and Wilber Eduardo mostly have centre stage as they tried to find a buried talisman with which to defeat the apparition and overcome their fearful memories. There are many levels of meaning in this novel. Beautifully-drawn human characters interact with magical and mythical creations; Spanish and Mexican words, phrases and poetry are woven into the prose; the long, long sentences sweep up readers sometimes for over a page at a time before briefly releasing us. I don't think I have ever read anything quite like The Magic Dogs Of San Vicente before!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Mark Fishman / Contemporary fiction / Books from Canada

Friday, 9 June 2017

Greek Fire and Its Contribution to Byzantine Might by Konstantinos Karatolios


Greek Fire and Its Contribution to Byzantine Might by Konstantinos Karatolios
First published in Greek in Greece in January 2014. English language translation by Leonard G Meahim published by Quest Publications in 2015.

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 the book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The wonder of the thousand-year Byzantine Empire could not have been achieved without its armed forces, allowing it to maintain its power in the face of constant challenges from external enemies that differed significantly in their nature. In this context, what had been inherited from the Romans was just as important as the adoption of new weapons and tactics in battle. “Greek fire” was used throughout the course of the Byzantine Empire and granted resounding victories to its navy. This terrifying weapon was legendary, yet almost all we know about it and its use is clouded by the vagueness of contemporary accounts. This work attempts to answer a number of questions concerning Greek Fire: What was the formula? How effective was it? Who was its true inventor ? How was it used in battles on land and at sea? This book aims not only to provide an overview of the current state of research that can be easily read by non-specialists, but also to contribute to the study of the subject.

I bought this short scholarly work after having seen the wildfire episode of Game Of Thrones and discovering that there was actually a historical reality for the dramatic weapon. Although the Byzantine 'Greek Fire' or 'Liquid Fire' doesn't seem to have ever been described as bright green! Karatolios has investigated a wide variety of ancient sources and chronicles for mention of Greek Fire and this book is the pleasantly accessible result of his studies. Information is presented in clearly defined chapters in which both his knowledge and his teacher's desire to enthuse students (and readers) shine through. My only complaint I suppose would be that the book is so short!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Konstantinos Karatolios / History / Books from Greece

Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Former Chief Executive by Kate Vane


The Former Chief Executive by Kate Vane
Self-published in the UK today, the 8th of June 2017.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the ebook from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Without your past, who are you?
Deborah was a respected hospital manager until a tragedy destroyed her reputation. She has lost her career, her husband and even her name. Luca wants to stay in the moment. For the first time in his life he has hope and a home. But a fresh start is hard on a zero-hours contract, harder if old voices fill your mind. When a garden share scheme brings them together, Deborah is beguiled by Luca’s youth and grace. He makes her husband’s garden live again. He helps her when she’s at her lowest. But can she trust him? And when the time comes to confront her past, can she find the strength?
This sharply drawn short novel explores the distance between the generations – between health and wealth, owners and workers, guilt and blame.

I love novels that thoughtfully present an unexpected view of people and The Former Chief Executive was perfect for me in that respect. Deborah and Luca are both complex characters, shaped by their former lives, but now trying to fit themselves into alternate existences without the supports, good and bad, of their pasts. This novel cleverly throws traditional gender conventions on their heads with the formerly powerful figure being female and the 'pretty young thing' being male. Vane also weaves in themes of aging, loss and dependency as Deborah struggles to cope with the idea of no longer physically being the strong woman she had prided herself on being.

The Former Chief Executive is gently written novel which drew me in so completely that I wasn't consciously aware of the subtle tension build-up, only that I really didn't want to stop reading until I knew how the situation would resolve itself. The natural environment of Deborah's garden provides a effective contrast to the claustrophobic memories of particularly Luca's past and the intrusive neighbour is wonderfully exasperating. The Devon setting appealed to me as well because I recognised several references to places close by our new home! I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Former Chief Executive and am happy to recommend it to literary fiction fans and readers who appreciate 'different' novels.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Kate Vane / Contemporary fiction / Books from England

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Paradise by Toni Morrison


Paradise by Toni Morrison
First published in America by Knopf in December 1997.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the book from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four young women are brutally attacked in a convent near an all-black town in America in the mid-1970s. The inevitability of this attack, and the attempts to avert it, lie at the heart of Paradise. Spanning the birth of the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, the counter-culture and politics of the late 1970s, deftly manipulating past, present and future, this novel reveals the interior lives of the citizens of the town with astonishing clarity. Starkly evoking the clashes that have bedevilled the American century: between race and racelessness; religion and magic; promiscuity and fidelity; individuality and belonging.

Paradise starts with a violent end to its story. Women living in a convent are being shot by men and, as readers, we have no idea who anyone is or why this atrocity is happening. Jumping back in time, author Toni Morrison dedicates each chapter to the story of a woman and we slowly begin to understand the masculine pride, social fragmentation and perversion of religious belief that will lead to tragedy. Morrison imagined a nucleus of nine black families who, more than a hundred years ago, set out across America to find a home for themselves. Initially they thought they might join an existing black town, but insulted by refusals, they walked on until mystical visions indicated where they should found their own towns, Haven and, later, Ruby. Isolated from outside influence, the town and community prospered, retelling their history until the journeys became mythical and the founding fathers legendary.

Paradise is often a book of the differences and belief clashes between men and women. The families live in a highly patriarchal society which views the independent convent women, outsiders, as threats. I frequently found it difficult to work out and remember who was related to whom. Nicknames are used as well as given names so it often felt like reading a Russian novel and I wished for family tree diagrams. However, it later occurred to me that, as an outsider to Ruby, I probably wasn't intended to clearly understand their connections and this was another illustration of the differences between the townsfolk and the convent women - the women had no history in this place. Paradise is a great sweep of a novel which allowed me to easily imagine these lives and to become involved in the arguments and discussions. Some characters are clearly defined, others vague, and I loved how the pervasive unease grew and grew. Knowing how it will all end doesn't always work as a literary device, but for me it was well employed here. Perhaps overall I thought Paradise was a little too convoluted, but I enjoyed the read and am still mulling over its events several days later.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Toni Morrison / Historical fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide


The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide
First published as Neko no Kyaku in Japanese in Japan by Kawade Shobo Shinsha in 2014. English language translation by Eric Selland published by New Directions in 2014.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the ebook from Kobo
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Bought at a Torquay charity shop

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another. One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby Garden. But then something happens that will change everything again.
The Guest Cat is an exceptionally moving and beautiful novel about the nature of life and the way it feels to live it. Written by Japanese poet and novelist Takashi Hiraide, the book won Japan's Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, and was a bestseller in France and America.

Reading this understated and poetic novella almost felt like a meditation. I was surprised that a book in which so little actually happens could be so compelling, but The Guest Cat is one that, once I started I didn't want to put the book down until its final page. Hiraide beautifully describes the immediate area of Tokyo surrounding the narrator's rented house and I got a strong sense of the couple's loneliness prior to Chibi's arrival. They seem alienated from each other and isolated from their neighbours until the cat adopts them, giving especially the wife a new sense of purpose.

I am not sure how much this book would appeal to non-cat lovers and have even seen reviews complaining that the cat does not have enough of a starring role. The Guest Cat isn't really about the cat per se. For me it was more a thoughtful prose-poem about friendship and love, about finding a place that feels like home, and about living quietly with the passing of the seasons and finding joy in small events.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Takashi Hiraide / Contemporary fiction / Books from Japan

Monday, 5 June 2017

Blindness by Jose Saramago


Blindness by Jose Saramago
First published in Portuguese in Portugal by Editorial Caminho in 1995. English translation by Juan Sager published in 1997. Blackstone Audio edition narrated by Jonathan Davis published in 2008.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the audiobook download from Audible via Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the ebook from Kobo
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Bought the audiobook from Audible

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A city is hit by a sudden and strange epidemic of "white blindness", which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there social conventions quickly crumble and the struggle for survival brings out the worst in people. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers - among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears - out of their prison and through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. 
A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the 20th century, by Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago, Blindness has swept the masses with its powerful portrayal of man's worst appetites and weaknesses - and man's ultimately exhilarating spirit.

On finishing, I felt completely steamrollered by this amazing novel! I listened to a BBC America audiobook and, although it was an English translation of the original Portuguese, the text retained its poetic quality, horrific and beautiful. Perhaps the style could best be described as Margaret Atwood crossed with Cormac McCarthy! Saramago has created a truly terrifying vision, one in which an unknown disease spreads rapidly and brings cities to a halt within weeks. We follow one of the first groups of people to contract the white blindness and I appreciated the 'no names' device used to identify them - the woman with dark glasses, the first blind man, the woman nobody knows - as it aided understanding their world.

Certain of the more grotesque scenes are scarringly memorable and I would hesitate to recommend this book to anyone squeamish. Transferring this review here reminded me clearly of the horror of the mental home scenes where the very basest of human nature is displayed, and the tragic greed of the supermarket basement. Even though it must now be three or so years since I listened to Blindness, these scenes are still vivid. What made the novel so compelling was its frightening believability, especially in how swiftly people can turn on each other and resort to a survival of the fittest mentality when we feel threatened. The philosophising throughout is very moving and I thought that the calm narration by Jonathan Davis was the perfect way to immerse myself in this dystopian city.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Jose Saramago / Dystopian fiction / Books from Portugal