Thursday, 18 October 2018

Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif


Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif
Published by Bloomsbury today, the 18th October 2018.

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb. Hallucinating palm trees and worrying about dehydrating to death isn't what Major Ellie expected from this mission. Still, it's an improvement on the constant squabbles with his wife back home.

In the camp, teenager Momo's money-making schemes are failing. His brother left for his first day at work and never returned, his parents are at each other's throats, his dog is having a very bad day, and an aid worker has shown up wanting to research him for her book on the Teenage Muslim Mind. 

Written with his trademark wit, keen eye for absurdity and telling important truths about the world today, Red Birds reveals master storyteller Mohammed Hanif at the height of his powers.

I hadn't read any of Mohammed Hanif's writing before so went into Red Birds with no preconceptions and absolutely loved every page of this novel. The story is told mostly through three points of view (although others join in the later stages): American pilot, Major Ellie; local teenager, Momo; and Momo's dog, Mutt. Don't be put off by the idea of a talking dog. Mutt's humour did remind me a little of Manchee in The Knife Of Never Letting Go however Mutt only 'speaks' to us, not to the other characters, and his chapters are brilliant!

Red Birds is primarily set in a refugee camp, possibly in Pakistan, possibly not. The people there have been living in makeshift accommodation and relying on charitable handouts for years and, as an illustration of the dire straits in which they live, part of the camp sign has disintegrated leaving them technically just 'fugees'. Hanif's writing is dotted with such original notions as this and I love his eye for detail. Momo's mother somehow manages to create adequate meals for her family every day and the appearance of Major Ellie as another mouth to feed hardly fazes her, yet being unable to flavour the food properly because there is never any salt drives her to distraction.

Despite the extreme poverty depicted, there is a lightness to Hanif's writing that makes Red Birds very readable and entertaining. I was easily drawn in to the story and wasn't actually consciously aware of the darker aspects starting to surround me although I did notice myself beginning to feel uneasy as the novel progressed. There are several unanswered questions and we don't know whose version of events is the one we should believe. I won't give any clues because I appreciated not knowing in advance myself, but this story gives powerful insights into the experiences of displaced people and I think some of its imagery will stay with me for a long time. I wouldn't be surprised to see Red Birds as my Book of the Month for October.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Mohammed Hanif / Contemporary fiction / Books from Pakistan

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

IA: Invincible Assassin by John Darryl Winston


IA: Invincible Assassin by John Darryl Winston
Published in America by BHC Press on the 9th October 2018.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

The only thing worse than having nothing to live for is having nothing to lose

When tragedy strikes his best friend, Harvis Young knows there will be a reckoning, especially since Naz Andersen possesses the supernatural powers of a god. Now it’s up to Harvis to save the guilty from Naz’s wrath. Beyond the mean streets of Marshal Park, Harvis will discover a darker path than anything he’s ever seen. His friend may not have the only soul that needs saving.

This new installment in John Winston's IA series slots in between IA: B.O.S.S. and IA: Union and I would advise having read at least the first two books in the series before turning to IA: Invincible Assassin in order to avoid any inadvertent spoilers and to understand the backstory which has led to Naz's intense grief. Winston took the brave decision to narrate IA: Invincible Assassin from the point of view of Harvis Young, a supporting character in the early books. I loved this change of perspective as it allowed me to observe Naz from the outside (so to speak) as well as getting to know Harvis better.

Dubbed the Wordsmith due to his poetic abilities, Harvis is desperate to help his friend, Naz, but doesn't really understand how best to go about this. Winston obviously put a lot of thought into this portrayal which always felt authentic so I could appreciate how a young man would feel and act in such a situation. Despite wise advice from his parents which Harvis does try to heed, he discovers a scarily violent side to himself. I liked the positive relationships between Harvis and each of his parents too. IA: Invincible Assassin incorporates lots of action scenes in a fast-moving story, and also manages to be philosophical without those sections dragging. I think this is a great addition to the series!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by John Darryl Winston / Young adult books / Books from America

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Princess Casamassima by Henry James


Princess Casamassima by Henry James
First published in Atlantic Monthly in 1885-86.

How I got this book:
Downloaded from ForgottenBooks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Henry James conceived the character of Hyacinth Robinson—his 'little presumptuous adventurer with his combination of intrinsic fineness and fortuitous adversity'—while walking the streets of London. Brought up in poverty, Hyacinth has nevertheless developed aesthetic tastes that heighten his awareness of the sordid misery around him. He is drawn into the secret world of revolutionary politics and, in a moment of fervour, makes a vow that he will assassinate a major political figure. Soon after this he meets the beautiful Princess Casamassima. Captivated by her world of wealth and nobility, art and beauty, Hyacinth loses faith in radicalism, 'the beastly cause'. But tormented by his belief in honour, he must face an agonizing, and ultimately tragic, dilemma. The Princess Casamassima is one of James's most personal novels and yet one of the most socially engaged.

Princess Casamassima is a six hundred page novel which felt to me more like a thousand page book. It took me well over a week to read it! I loved how James takes his readers into the London of weak-willed bookbinder Hyacinth Robinson. His descriptions of houses and streets, and his wonderfully nuanced characters kept me reading and interested to the end, but he is not a concise author by any stretch - I frequently found myself willing him to 'get on with it'! We must have been told of Hyacinth's dubious parentage two dozen times and word-for-word reported conversations are never to the point.

From a brief synopsis, Princess Casamassima could be classed as a thriller. Our young hero Hyacinth joins a shadowy group dedicated to class revolution in England. He undertakes to perform a shocking act on their behalf, possibly even a murder, however James is so vague about the group, their real aims, the act assigned to Hyacinth, and whether Hyacinth really cares at all, that any tension evaporates as fast as it is created. Instead, we spend our time drinking copious cups of tea with a disparate cast: a dressmaker and a shop girl, a music hall violinist and a bedridden girl, an Italian princess and an exiled French revolutionary, a philanthropic Lady and a chemist's assistant. The minutiae of their interactions is as fascinating as it is infuriating which makes for a very strange novel.

Based on my experience of Princess Casamassima I probably won't rush to read James again any time soon, but wouldn't rule his other novels out completely in the future - providing I can set aside enough time!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Henry James / Thrillers / Books from America

Monday, 15 October 2018

Clockwork Dollhouse by Jordan Elizabeth + #Giveaway


Clockwork Dollhouse by Jordan Elizabeth
First published as part of Gears Of Brass in 2014. Republished by CHBB as a single story on the 8th October 2018.

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository (unavailable)
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

The clockwork dolls seem to be moving on their own. What are they trying to show?

When Ainsley moves in with her uncle, the governor, it seems like a beautiful situation. An orphan is finding love in an elite household. However, she carries with her the power to reveal her uncle’s darkest secrets.

Jordan Elizabeth's short story Clockwork Dollhouse has been republished as an Amazon single this October and it's a perfect creepy Halloween story - maybe even one to read aloud by the fireside for a really atmospheric scare! I love the idea of the mechanical dolls and their house. We have a friend who makes automata so I could easily envisage how they would move. Clockwork Dollhouse is only a short story of course so there isn't space for deep character development or anything like that, however I appreciated how Jordan captured the essentials of her characters. There's also a great sense of menace as Uncle Robert begins to realise what is happening in the dollhouse.

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is an ebook copy of Clockwork Dollhouse by Jordan Elizabeth.
Open internationally until midnight (UK time) on the 29th October 2018.

Entry is by way of the Gleam widget below.
(GDPR: Gleam will ask for your email address so that I am able to contact the winner. I will then need to pass the winner's email address on to Jordan Elizabeth so she can send out the ebook.)

Clockwork Dollhouse by Jordan Elizabeth / Literary Flits giveaway




Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Jordan Elizabeth / Horror fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Joseph Barnaby by Susan Roebuck + #Giveaway + Excerpt


Joseph Barnaby by Susan Roebuck
Published by Crooked Cat Books on the 5th October 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Add Joseph Barnaby to your Goodreads

Stand by your beliefs – even if it means going to the end of the Earth
By standing up for his principles to save the life of a prize racehorse, farrier Joseph Barnaby loses everything. Now, a personal vendetta has become too deep to fight and he escapes to the island of Madeira where he finds work on a small farm at the foot of a cliff, only accessible by boat. The balmy climate and never-ending supply of exotic fruit, vegetables and honey make it sound like paradise but, for Joseph, it’s the ideal place to hide from the world. Can the inhabitants of Quinta da Esperança, who have more grit in them than the pebbled beach that fronts the property, help Joseph find his self-worth again? And can he escape the danger that draws ever nearer?

Excerpt


Joseph Barnaby has just arrived on the farm that sits on a fertile beach at the foot of a steep escarpment. The farm, which is only accessible by boat, is home to Senhor Fernando, his wife Maria and their niece, Sofia. He hasn’t met Sofia yet.

He’d wanted to go to the ends of the earth, hadn’t he? Seemed like he’d got what he wished for.
Joseph Barnaby ate the banana prata Fernando, his boss, had given him. Squat and smaller than a banana Joe was used to, he savoured the dense flesh. Almost a meal in itself. Speaking of which, he supposed it would soon be time to go into the farmhouse for dinner.
Since he’d arrived on Madeira just over a year ago, he’d become used to eating meals for one in the bar in Ponta Estreita where he’d been working. The day Senhor Fernando had told him he’d offer him the job as farmhand on the Fajã, he also said all meals were eaten with the family.
The word ‘family’ had almost put Joe off taking the job, but then he’d heard it was only Senhor Fernando and Dona Maria his wife who lived here, along with a niece. He could manage that. And if he couldn’t, he’d just move on again.
Senhor Fernando had picked up him and his large rucksack – his only luggage – at the quay in Ponta Estreita that morning. The voyage to the Fajã had only taken fifteen minutes, “because,” Senhor Fernando told him as he stood in the wheelhouse of his colourful fishing boat, his chest proudly pushed out, “the breeze is with us. Takes a bit longer on the way out, but who cares? Always good to be home.”
They’d disembarked at the wooden jetty, and Joe paused for a moment to take in his surroundings. Senhor Fernando must have seen him looking up the escarpment, because he gestured to lofty Cabo Girão to the west. It jutted out further into the sea at the end of the long bay where the Fajã was situated.
 “And you thought our cliff was tall?” Fernando tied the boat securely on a cleat on the jetty. “If it wasn’t for that giant sheltering us, we’d have been blown away years ago.”
Joe balanced his bag and himself along the weathered wooden jetty, which surely couldn’t weather a high sea, and then picked his way across the long grey beach, trying not to turn his ankle on the pebbles.
The entrance to the farm was a gap in the wall which stood at around one and a half metres in height and had been created from huge dark pitted rocks. The wall, Senhor Fernando said, acted as a barrier to protect the farm from the worst storms the sea threw at them. Joe stepped through the entrance just as a woman clattered out of one of the cottages. She strode up to him, three pairs of glasses swinging on her bosom and her girth belying her obvious energy.
“Olá, olá. José.”

An hour later, after he’d finished a tour of the Quinta dos Françeses, and tried to identify the myriad of plants and fruit trees, he’d spotted someone sauntering down the sheer rock face. How could someone saunter down something so steep? If he’d thought about it before (which he hadn’t), he’d have said a person would need ropes, pitons, screws and the like to either ascend or descend. But the girl looked as if she was on a Sunday afternoon stroll as she descended, albeit slowly but definitely sure-footed. Her long fair hair sparkled in the sunlight when she finally stepped on to the gravel path that ran the length of the farm. Was she the niece? He’d somehow expected a child, but this girl was in her twenties, he reckoned. He didn’t know if she’d seen him, but he said, “Boa tarde,” as she went by and heard no response. He turned back to surveying the sea and rubbed his aching fingers. He was used to people either ignoring him or wanting to tear his head off.

Meet the author

I was born and educated in the UK (I am British!) but now live in Portugal. I've been an English teacher for many years with the British Council and also the Portuguese civil service where I developed e-learning courses.

My first love is, of course, my husband, my second writing, and my third painting. And now I have time to be able to indulge in all three.

My debut novel, "Perfect Score" was published by Mundania Press on Sept 21, 2010 and the paperback launched on May 11 2011. It was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC e-book Awards in the Mainstream Category.

My second novel is a dark thriller/fantasy called "Hewhay Hall". It won an EPPIE award in the 2013 EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) e-Book Awards in the Horror Category.

Next comes "Rising Tide", published in 2015. Set in Portugal, published by Mundania Press. It is set in a tiny fishing village that the world, and most of Portugal, has forgotten. Read about the wonders of the ocean and see if Piper from Norfolk UK and Leo from Alaska, USA, can find what they're searching for in the little village of Luminosa.

"Forest Dancer" was published on 20th February 2018 by CrookedCat Books. This is novel number 2 set in Portugal but this time in the forests outside Lisbon, Portugal. Instead of the sea (as in Rising Tide), now find out about the wonders of the forest and whether classical ballerina, Flora, can find what she's searching for in the small village of Aurora.

On 5th October 2018 Crooked Cat Books published my newest novel, "Joseph Barnaby", another romance/suspense which is set on the island of Madeira.

Author links: 
WebsiteTwitter ~ Facebook


And now it's time for the Giveaway

Open internationally until the 16th October 2018.

1st prize an Amazon book token (£10)
2nd prize - 2 x signed paperbacks of Joseph Barnaby
3rd prize - 2 x ebooks of Joseph Barnaby

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel's Random Resources reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel's Random Resources will delete the data. Rachel's Random Resources is not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.





Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Susan Roebuck / Women's fiction / Books from England

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Oh! What A Pavlova by Isabella May + #Giveaway + Q&A


Oh! What A Pavlova by Isabella May
Published by Crooked Cat Books on the 3rd October 2017.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Add Oh! What A Pavlova to your Goodreads

Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy. Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation. 

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future. And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…But will she escape before it’s too late?


Q and A

1: “Oh! What a Pavlova” is a catchy book title. How did you come up with it and what is it all about?

I have a penchant for all things cake and pudding – you might have guessed. And I wanted to somehow blend this into a book about domestic violence, so interchanging the ‘pavlova’ bit for the usual ‘palaver’ was a play on words that just stuck!

How to summarise? Hmm… 

Cake meets domestic violence, travel, spirituality, comedy, and a bid for freedom in the arms of many an unsuitable man… all set against the backdrop of the weird and wonderful characters of the publishing industry. 

2: What was your inspiration for this novel?

A burning desire to dispel the misconception that an abusive relationship is abusive all the time: it is not. But I also wanted to portray a very honest picture of the way D.V can splinter life. Quite often the victim is leading a double life, their outer façade so astonishingly different to the unthinkable acts they are tolerating behind closed doors. Ultimately though, I wanted to create a story with a very different message; a message of empowerment for any woman or man who is currently feeling anything but strong. 

3: You like to chart social history in your books and Oh! What a Pavlova is no exception. What would you say to writers who are nervous about doing this? 

Bland is the only word that springs to mind had I forced my story come to life in a neutral time zone. In fact, it would never have worked. The Noughties (the era my novel is set in), although it feels like yesterday to many of us, couldn’t have been a more different environment to today. Companies and their workers were riding on a champagne bubble fuelled wave of abundance, blissfully ignorant that it was about to burst. And we were all still madly in love with our Jamies and Nigellas. Whilst in complete juxtaposition, domestic violence was as swept under the carpet as it might have been in the fifties. 

The only way to paint a realistic backdrop was to, well, paint that realistic backdrop. I appreciate readers from other countries might need to Google a few of my words, but personally, I love nothing more than to find out new things about a place I haven’t yet explored. We do this all the time with travel so why should books be any different?

From the bands that would have been starring at Glastonbury Festival at that time (‘Pavlova’ is part set in the iconic town), through to the latest trends in patisserie, celebrity crushes, clothes, cars, emerging spiritual practices, and general ways of thinking. 

If you want to date your work, do it.

4: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m 100% a pantser. 

I have never been into spreadsheets or organisation so I will write what I feel like in any given day, based on my mood and the weather, rarely following chapter order. And then I will sew it all up. Very naughty I know, and certainly not what any writing teacher would advise. My creativity works best through Post It notes, scribbles and brainstorming sessions, dialogues that pop into my head (usually in a café while I’m waiting to pick my daughter up from dance) begging to be recorded on the back of envelopes. Somehow it works!

5: You live in Spain. What one thing do you miss most about the UK (except for the weather, family and friends!)?

The abundance of good cake! 

No disrespect to Spain – I’m a huge fan of churros… and lazos, but it’s so tricky to come by certain baking ingredients here to make something really special. I’ll often make a twenty kilometre round trip just to buy some peppermint extract, or rose water from a large hypermarket. Sometimes even then they won’t stock it! 


Meet the author

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.

Author links: 
WebsiteTwitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

Win a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar (Open Internationally until the 16th October 2018)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel's Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel's Random Resources will delete the data. Rachel's Random Resources is not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.





Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Isabella May / Women's fiction / Books from England

Friday, 12 October 2018

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel


Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Published by Picador in September 2014.

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a bold vision of a dystopian future, frighteningly real, perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.

One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America. The world will never be the same again.

Twenty years later Kirsten, an actress in the Travelling Symphony, performs Shakespeare in the settlements that have grown up since the collapse. But then her newly hopeful world is threatened.

If civilization was lost, what would you preserve? And how far would you go to protect it?

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel is a different type of dystopian novel to those I have read previously. We jump around through time beginning on the night where a flu pandemic takes hold in America, moving forward up to twenty years after 99% of the world's human population has been wiped out, and moving back to well before the disaster primarily through the life of a Hollywood actor, Arthur, and his wives.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the chillingly realistic pandemic scenes describing the initial panics, blocked highways and overcrowded hospitals (and that aeroplane). The restarting timeline as civilisation begins to collapse was an effective device with elements such as the internet vanishing after so many days, electric lights going out forever, gasoline becoming unusable after Year Five - did you know that gasoline has a shelf life? The idea of survivors just walking and walking resonated particularly well as we see similar scenes right now of refugees escaping war in exactly the same way.

I was less impressed by pre-pandemic scenes, especially Arthur's pampered life and the time dedicated to describing the dystopian comics created by his first wife, Miranda. I understand their inclusion but didn't feel that they warranted so much attention. There is also excessive repetition in Station Eleven which got irritating in the latter half of the book and I felt that tighter editing could have been beneficial.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Emily St John Mandel / Science fiction / Books from Canada

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Painting Kuwait Violet by Pamela Q. Fernandes


Painting Kuwait Violet by Pamela Q. Fernandes
Published by Solstice Publishing on the 3rd September 2018.

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

In 1996, a young graduate, Violet Baretto leaves Goa to work in oil-rich Kuwait as a maid for a wealthy Kuwaiti woman. To her horror, she finds herself accused of theft, her colleagues assaulted, thrown from moving cars or performing 'favors.'

Sabah Dashti, the Kuwaiti matriarch can't tell Violet the truth; nine of Sabah's previous maids have absconded, five of them were found pregnant or that the police think she's running a prostitution ring. Sabah has no idea who's responsible.

Kuwait is still patriarchal and women are second-class citizens. Despite their differences, both Sabah and Violet are hungry for success as it will give them a chance to live life on their own terms. Together they build a thriving business. But a woman-hating killer has set eyes on them and will not let them succeed at any cost.

Poignant, chilling and honest, Painting Kuwait Violet underlines the reality of women on either side of the country's class divide.

I chose to read Painting Kuwait Violet because of its Arab setting and because Fernandes is a Kuwaiti-born author - making her novel an addition to my WorldReads project. The cover illustration suggested that the book might not be perfectly suited to my tastes and I did have problems with some aspects, however overall this is quite an enjoyable read. It's a light story without much intensity or depth, but does give some interesting insights into Kuwaiti culture and the day to day lives of both the extremely rich Kuwaiti citizens and their army of foreign workers. We are repeatedly told how badly domestic staff in particular are treated by their employers, but I didn't really see much evidence of this with regards to Violet's situation once she has overcome Aliya's teenage tantrums. The maids work hard for long hours with the darker events glossed over, perhaps hidden because nobody chooses to see. Instead Violet seems to ingratiate herself easily into Sadah's good graces. For me this seemed rather unrealistic. Violet may have had a college education, but if the prejudice we were informed of really is as strong as was maintained, her opinions surely wouldn't have counted for anything?

Painting Kuwait Violet is told from two perspectives. The primary narrative is that of Violet coming to terms with her new life as a maid and making the best of her situation. I liked this storyline and think if the book had concentrated on aspects such as the blossoming friendship between the maids and the mutual business respect between Violet and Sadah, it would have been a stronger work. Instead this frequently felt too rushed. I wanted more detail about how these women were growing their couture business together, especially in such a male-dominated society as Kuwait.

However those chapters are interspersed with odd sections from the point of view of a threatening unknown male character who we know is violently abusive to the domestic staff and murdered Violet's predecessor. I suppose that this narrative was meant to add tension to the story, but I never felt that it satisfactorily coalesced with the main storyline. Occasionally the police put in a brief appearance to tell Sadah that she really should do something about the way her maids are abused, and the unknown male growls his misogynistic speeches, but, for me, this aspect was too far removed to be convincing. The book became neither an inspiring tale of female empowerment in a male world nor a tense serial killer thriller. Instead it fails somewhere between the two stools which is a shame.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Pamela Q Fernandes / Women's fiction / Books from Kuwait

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Fragments of Ash by Katy Regnery + #Giveaway + Excerpt


Fragments of Ash by Katy Regnery
Self published on the 1st October 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository (unavailable)
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Add Fragments Of Ash to your Goodreads

From New York Times bestselling author Katy Regnery comes a dark and twisted retelling of the beloved fairytale, Cinderella!

My name is Ashley Ellis…

I was thirteen years old when my mother – retired supermodel, Tig – married Mosier Răumann, who was twice her age and the head of the Răumann crime family.

When I turned eighteen, my mother mysteriously died. Only then did I discover the dark plans my stepfather had in store for me all along; the debauched “work” he expected me to do.

With the help of my godfather, Gus, I have escaped from Mosier’s clutches, but his twin sons and henchmen have been tasked with hunting me down. And they will stop at nothing to return my virgin body to their father

…dead or alive.

** Contemporary Romance. Due to profanity and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.**

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Fragments of Ash is part of the ~a modern fairytale~ collection: contemporary, standalone romances inspired by beloved fairy tales.

The Vixen and the Vet (Beauty & the Beast) - available now Never Let You Go (Hansel & Gretel) - available now Ginger's Heart (Little Red Riding Hood) - available now Dark Sexy Knight (Camelot) - available now Don't Speak (The Little Mermaid) - available now Sheer Heaven (Rapunzel) - available now Fragments of Ash (Cinderella) - coming October 1, 2018 Swan Song (The Ugly Duckling) – coming soon

Excerpt

Instead of going inside, I walk around the house, to the backyard, to see if I can help bring in any dirty dishes, but the picnic table is empty. All traces of our dinner party have already been cleaned up by the Ducharmes siblings.
I look up at the midnight sky, at the dozens and dozens of stars, and I wonder if Gus is righr. What he says feels right, but I feel very young and very small as I stare up at the universe. It's not wrong to give yourself over to loving if the chance arises.
"We get amazing night skies up here."
I look over my shoulder and find Julian, tall, barefoot, and beautiful, walking toward me.
"Yes, you do," I answer, giving hima a shy and tentative smile before I turn my attention back upward.
My skin prickles with awareness. My lips tingle, remembering the insistent pressure of his. And elsewhere in my body, I clench hard, willing those deep-set tremors not to start up again right now. I want to believe what Gus has told me - that liking and wanting a man isn't wrong - but it's new to me, and I need a little time to reconcile my desire and conscience together.
"When I lived in DC, it was what I missed the most, besides Noelle. More than the cheese. More than the beer. More than the skiing." He stops, standing beside me, staring up at the firmament. "I missed Vermont's night skies. And the millions of stars."
"I can see why," I say. "When I lived in LA, I never saw stars." I giggle. "I mean, I saw the people kind, but not the sky kind."
"Who's the most famous person you ever met?"
"Hmm. Maybe ... Gigi Hadid ... or Bella? Hmm ... Or Cara Delevingne? Kate Moss mentored my m - Tig for a while, um, and she knew Gisele, of course. Also -"
"Wait a second! Gisele? Did you ever meet Tom Brady?" he asks, his voice eager.
"Let me guess." I glance at his face. "Patriots fan?"
"The biggest."
"Tig went to their wedding, but I never met him. Sorry." I say, giggling as he lays a hand over his heart and pretends to cry. "Speaking of the rich and famous, Noelle tells me you met the vice president while you working in Washington."
"She did?" His teasing expression disappears quickly as he straightens, dropping his hand. "Uh, yeah. Long time ago."
"Not so long." I say.
"Yeah, well ... I guess it just feels like a while ago." I wait for him to say more, hoping to learn why he left Washington so abruptly, but he stretches his arms over his head and yawns. "I'm tired. You must be exhausted."
"At school I was on the dining hall rotation, which meant cooking for one hundred souls regularly. Tonight was a breeze."
"Your soup was amazing."
"Thank you."
"The steak too."
"Thank you again'"
"And the tart."
"That was your sister. Let her know you thought so."
"And the kiss."
"Thank - " I'm grinning at him, but my eyes widen at the unexpected compliment, and I immediately look back up at the sky. It's dark out so he can't see my blush.
His chuckle is soft and low beside me, and maybe I'm wicked for not feeling more guilty, but I feel my smile grow as I trace Orion's belt. I don't dare look at him, but I feel him step closer to me, the warmth of his chest radiating against my back. If I moved slightly, one step even, his body would be flush against mine, and the shiver down my arms has nothing to do with the night chill. I want him to touch me, butI know he won't.
As though he can read my mind, he whispers, close to my ear, "Not unless you ask."
I close my eyes and say a prayer for strength and virtue, which, sadly, works, because the next thing I hear is his footsteps receding.
"Good night, sweet Ashley," he says to my back, his voice a low rumble.
My eyes open slowly to the glittering heavens.
"Good night, sweet Prince," I whisper to Julian's stars.

Meet the Author 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Regnery started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract, and Katy’s first novel was published in September 2013.

Thirty-five books later, Katy claims authorship of the multititled New York Times and USA Today bestselling Blueberry Lane Series, which follows the English, Winslow, Rousseau, Story, and Ambler families of Philadelphia; the six-book, bestselling ~a modern fairytale~ series; and several other stand-alone novels and novellas, including the critically-acclaimed, USA Today bestselling contemporary romance, Unloved, a love story.

Katy’s first modern fairytale romance, The Vixen and the Vet, was nominated for a RITA® in 2015 and won the 2015 Kindle Book Award for romance. Katy’s boxed set, The English Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1–4, hit the USA Today bestseller list in 2015, and her Christmas story, Marrying Mr. English, appeared on the list a week later. In May 2016, Katy’s Blueberry Lane collection, The Winslow Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1–4, became a New York Times e-book bestseller.

Katy’s books are available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Turkish.

Katy lives in the relative wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children, two dogs, and one Blue Tonkinese kitten create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories begin at home.

Katy LOVES connecting with her readers and answers every e-mail, message, tweet and post personally! Click below to connect with Katy!

Author links:
Website ~ Facebook ~ TwitterGoodreads ~ Pinterest

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

One Winner will win a $20 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of Fragments Of Ash.
Open Internationally until the 18th October.

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Katy Regnery / Fairytales / Books from America

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Forgotten Slaves Of Tromelin by Sylvain Savoia


The Forgotten Slaves Of Tromelin by Sylvain Savoia
First published in French as Les esclaves oublies de Tromelin in Belgium by Dupuis 2015. English language translation by Tom Imber published in France by Europe Comics in September 2016.

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
Wordery
Europe Comics
Amazon US / Amazon UK

This story takes place on a tiny, far-flung island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, whose nearest neighbor is Madagascar, 500 kilometers away… In 1760, the Utile, a ship carrying black slaves from Africa, was shipwrecked here and abandoned by her crew. The surviving slaves had to struggle to stay alive in this desolate land for fifteen years… When this tale got back to France, it became the cornerstone of the battle of Enlightenment to outlaw slavery. More than two hundred years later, the artist Sylvain Savoia accompanied the first archeological mission in search of understanding how these men and women, who had come from the high mountains of Madagascar, had survived alone in the middle of the ocean. This is the story of that mission, through which we’re exposed to the extraordinary story of the slaves themselves.

My second graphic novel for October and I am rapidly becoming a fan of Europe Comics offerings. The Forgotten Slaves Of Tromelin tells the true story of a ship full of Madagascan slaves who were left abandoned on a tiny deserted island in the 1770s. This book is an obvious choice for an October scary story! Forget any ideas you might have of romantic desert islands - Tromelin is one mile long by a half mile wide and, other than seabirds, turtles and hermit crabs, there was absolutely nothing there.

Alongside the historical tale, we also see Savoia's experience as he accompanies a French archaeological team to Tromelin where they will search for any remaining evidence of the slaves' existence on the island. It's still a pretty bleak place 200 years later. I enjoyed the contrast between the two time periods. Savoia describes his own hopes and reactions to Tromelin as well as vividly recreating what can be pieced together of the original sea voyage and its aftermath. As readers we are introduced to the other members of the modern-day team, several of whom are returning to Tromelin and one, Joel, is making a film about the excavations and the forgotten slaves. Despite scouring navy archives for any remaining documentation, more is unknown than known so there's plenty that can be learned and extrapolated from unearthed artefacts and buried hut walls. I didn't realise I would get this narrative alongside the history so this was a real bonus for me. It also means that the Forgotten Slaves graphic novel is a considerably more in depth work than it could have been if only the remnants of the original story were available.

I can't begin to imagine how terrifying the whole experience of being ripped from their homes, transported, and then abandoned would have been for the Madagascans. This is a story that certainly should not be forgotten so reminders such as Savoia's work are vitally important. He manages to make this graphic novel simultaneously sobering but also entertaining which is quite the feat. I loved the expression and emotions put across in his illustrations too. The differing styles clearly demarcate the timelines. My only criticism would be that the font is very small so I had to keep enlarging and then scrolling the pages, but this is a relatively minor flaw in an otherwise fascinating book.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Sylvain Savoia / Graphic novels / Books from France

Monday, 8 October 2018

Gamble's Run by David F Gray


Gamble's Run by David F Gray
Published by Hellbound Books in July 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Add Gamble's Run to your Goodreads

Reeling from the tragic loss of his infant daughter Molly and the disappearance of his wife Melody, Garrett Webb begins a journey that will ultimately bring him to Gamble’s Run, a long-abandoned canal hidden deep in central Florida. If he has any hope of finding his wife, he must penetrate the mysteries surrounding the canal and confront the evil that has festered there for untold centuries. Webb will make deadly enemies, but will also gain steadfast friends and allies, and together they will confront a power that exists beyond time and space. Unearthly forces clash in ancient conflict with a single question hanging in the balance: What dwells beneath the forgotten waters of Gamble’s Run?


Meet the author:

David F. Gray is an award winning television producer and director although his first love has always been writing. He wrote his first short story at age 10 based on the television show Lost In Space and featuring his boyhood crush, Penny Robinson. Three years later he abandoned poor Penny in favor of the more worldly Judy.

He is older and heavier than he would like to be and possesses a sense of humor that has gotten him into trouble on more than one occasion. Contrary to the opinions of his friends and his two adult offspring, he is NOT insane. He is currently working on the sequel to his novel, Gamble's Run, tentatively entitled Darksoul Rising as well as a handful of short stories. He and Heidi, his wife of thirty four years, live happily in Sulphur Springs, Florida, an older Tampa neighborhood where rumors of ghosts are common.

Author links: 
Website ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by David F Gray / Horror fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 7 October 2018

White Snake And Other Stories by Geling Yan


White Snake And Other Stories by Geling Yan
First published in America by Aunt Lute Books in September 1999. Translated into English by Lawrence A Walker.

My 1990s read for my 2018-19 Decade Challenge

How I got this book:
Bought at a Hope Association book sale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository (unavailable)
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

In this collection of five short stories and one novella, set mostly in China during and after the Cultural Revolution, Geling Yan presents us with the unforgettable characters who have all, in one way or another, left home. Taking as her territory the disorienting space between home and away, Yan charts the unexpected and illuminating transformation of her characters hearts and minds as they find themselves thrust into unlikely intimacy with strangers.

"[Yan's] stories are very sensuous. One experiences and becomes immersed in her works instead of simply reading them. In my opinion, Geling Yan is the most exquisite fiction writer in the Chinese language today" - Joan Chen. Includes Celestial Bath, the basis for Joan Chen's film Xiu Xiu, The Sent Down Girl. Geling was awarded a Golden Horse in 1998 for her screen adaption.

The stories in this collection are White Snake, Celestial Bath, The Death Of The Lieutenant, Red Apples, Nothing More Than Male And Female, and Siao Yu. Each one is followed by a short glossary which explains things like the symbolism of the characters' names and cultural references. Geling Yan's writing style is different to other books I have read recently so it took most of the first story, White Snake, for me to become accustomed to the pace and turns of phrase. White Snake turned out to be my least favourite of the six tales and I am not sure whether this was due to it being that initial story or if its switching between narration and reports made it less accessible for me.

I found I could most strongly appreciate the stories where the leading characters illustrate culture clashes. Red Apples, set in Tibet, is a beautifully understated story where what could be an intense love affair between a dishonoured Chinese soldier and a blind Tibetan woman is viewed through the eyes of a young visiting dancer. Siao Yu, set in Australia, tells of a young woman who is persuaded into a marriage of convenience with an elderly Australian man in order to make immigration easier for herself and her Chinese boyfriend. When that boyfriend is then unable to manage his jealousy and the Australian man's girlfriend also objects, Siao Yu finds herself stuck in a delicate situation. My favourite is probably The Death Of The Lieutenant in which the Lieutenant of the title explains how he came to fall from being a hero to being imprisoned for murder.

Yan has a deceptively open and pragmatic style which I think comes across well in Lawrence Walker's translation. Her characters face difficult dilemmas and, for various reasons, are isolated, far from their homes and families. There is deep emotion in each story, but repressed and shown in a restrained way. I learned that public displays of feeling is not The Done Thing in China and that is another of Yan's themes. I discovered this collection purely by chance, but am glad to have done so as I appreciated the opportunity to enjoy these unusual and enjoyable stories.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Geling Yan / Short stories / Books from China

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Leaving Tangier by Tahar Ben Jalloun


Leaving Tangier by Tahar Ben Jalloun
First published in France in French by Gallimard in 2006. English language translation by Linda Coverdale published by Penguin in March 2009.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Leaving Tangier, in the early 1990s: Young Moroccans gather regularly in a seafront cafe to gaze at the lights on the Spanish coast glimmering in the distance. Facing a future with few prospects in a country they feel has failed them, their disillusionment is matched only by their desire to reach this paradise - so close and yet so far - not least because of the treacherous waters separating the two countries and the frightening stories they hear of the fates of would-be illegal emigrants.

Azel, the protagonist, is intent upon leaving one way or another. At the brink of despair he meets Miguel, a wealthy Spanish gallery-owner, who promises to take him to Barcelona if Azel will become his lover. Seeing no other solution, and although he has a girlfriend to whom he is promised, Azel agrees to Miguel's proposition and thus begins a different kind of hell for the young Moroccan - shame and self-disgust at his own helplessness gradually overcome him and he finds himself once more in a hopeless situation. Azel and others like him, including his sister, begin to wonder if the reality of life in Europe will live up to their dreams.

I wasn't initially sure I would enjoy reading Leaving Tangier because it took me quite a while to get into this novel. I'm not sure how close the translation is to the original French text, but at times sentences seemed clumsy. I also wasn't convinced by some of the dialogue, especially when different characters launch into speeches in remarkably similar voices! However, those points aside, Leaving Tangier gave me insights into the many reasons why North African people - mostly Morocccans here - feel compelled to abandon their homes and risk a treacherous sea crossing in order to reach Spain and, perhaps, a new life. I also learned about Spaniards making the reverse journey for exactly the same reasons decades earlier to escape poverty under Franco's regime. How come those stories of emigration aren't widely told these days?!

I appreciated meeting a reasonably large cast of characters which allowed me to understand a range of viewpoints, Moroccan and Spanish. Jalloun portrays desperation well, but also illustrates the fear and, surprisingly to me, the extreme boredom experienced by illegal immigrants who, having theoretically attained their goal, are unable to legally work or even perhaps to live with any semblance of dignity. Leaving Tangier movingly shows us people risking and giving up everything they have then, sadly for most of them, not being able to succeed. The novel does include violent sexual scenes and a strong theme is sex as currency. I was left feeling quite cynical at the way humans use and manipulate those they perceive as weaker than themselves.

Imagining how easy it would be to find oneself in Azel and Kenza's situation, especially with what I discovered about Spanish emigration to Morocco, makes Leaving Tangier my third Scary October read.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Tahar Ben Jalloun / Contemporary fiction / Books from Morocco

Friday, 5 October 2018

Cursed Rebel by H.G. Lynch + #Giveaway + Excerpt


Cursed Rebel by H G Lynch
First published in August 2015. Republished today, the 5th October 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository (unavailable)
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

Add Cursed Rebel to your Goodreads

My grandma always warned me never to trust a Faery. I never believed they were real…until I was kidnapped by one.

Finn is an obnoxious, mercurial Fae whose job it is to bring me to the King. He’s gorgeous, but in this world, the prettiest things are the deadliest.

But if I want to survive the Fae realm and find a way home, I’ll have to trust him…for now.


Excerpt

My breath caught in part fear and part awe at the faery boy's beauty. One side of his mouth tilted up in a smirk.
"About time you woke up. I was starting to think you were going to pull a Sleeping Beauty, and I'd have to kiss you to wake you up."
I swallowed and sat up, forcing my eyes off him to take in my surroundings. I was lying in a field of swaying purple flowers, the sun beating down on me through a canopy of lush green leaves. Through the shifting pattern of leaves above, I could see the sky was a perfect, summer-soft blue. The air was warm, a gentle breeze teasing my hair around my face. Somewhere, a bird sang in trilling, sweet notes. It was incredibly beautiful, and completely terrifying.

Meet the Author 

H.G. Lynch is a Paranormal Romance author from Scotland. She is an avid reader, and cat-lover. She spends most of her days writing, while wrestling her cat off her laptop. She loves horse-riding, Star Trek, and snow. Her books are dark paranormal romances.

Author links:
Website ~ Facebook ~ TwitterGoodreads

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

One Winner will win a Sterling Silver Claddagh Heart Ring (it looks like the ring at the end of the book) and Elf Ear Cuffs.
Open to USA/Canada until the 11th October.

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by H G Lynch / Romance fiction / Books from Scotland