Tuesday, 23 January 2018

My Name Is Salma by Fadia Faqir

My Name Is Salma by Fadia Faqir
First published by Doubleday in March 2007.

M for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Salma becomes pregnant before marriage in her small village in the Levant, her innocent days playing the pipe for her goats are gone for ever. She is swept into prison for her own protection. To the sound of her screams, her newborn baby daughter is snatched away.

In the middle of the most English of towns, Exeter, she learns good manners from her landlady, and settles down with an Englishman. But deep in her heart the cries of her baby daughter still echo. When she can bear them no longer, she goes back to her village to find her. It is a journey that will change everything - and nothing.

Slipping back and forth between the olive groves of the Levant and the rain-slicked pavements of Exeter, My Name is Salma is a searing portrayal of a woman's courage in the face of insurmountable odds.

I loved the non-linear narrative in this novel which swirls between Salma's different lives in the Levant, in a Lebanese convent, and in England. I felt the device gave a wonderful sense of her confusion and sense of alienation. A seemingly innocuous sight or scent sends her mind wandering into poignant memories of a home to which she can no longer return. Salma is a complex character. I enjoyed spending time with her and understanding her dreams and ambitions, yet I often didn't like how she acted. My Name Is Salma is an interesting novel for its genre in that it doesn't overly glamorise British life or villify life in the Middle East. Both are presented as having their good points and their grim sides. The descriptions of Exeter are frequently very depressing and remarkably accurate!

I liked that Salma's struggles with fitting into a new society and learning the English language are sensitively portrayed. Her landlady, Liz, embodies much of the traditional British nostalgia for a 'glorious' and entitled past and attitudes such as her exploitation by her BNP supporting employer show a disturbing level of hypocrisy. Salma's longing for her vanished child is a strong theme throughout the novel and I thought this part of the storyline's resolution was perhaps the least convincing aspect. However I could understand why Faqir chose to conclude her novel like this. From a literary perspective it works although I wondered how genuine such a scenario would be.

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Books by Fadia Faqir / Contemporary fiction / Books from Jordan

Monday, 22 January 2018

Guest Review: Where The Dark Fish Swim by Mark Bishop

Where The Dark Fish Swim by Mark Bishop
Self published in December 2016.

Where to buy this book:

Guest review by Mark Fieldsend
Today's Guest Review is by author Mark Fieldsend who I met when he got in touch to offer a copy of his thriller Pigeon Street. I am looking forward to reviewing that for you in February. In the meantime Mark is sharing his review of Where The Dark Fish Swim

Mark's rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where The Dark Fish Swim is a letter from Michael, a deeply troubled father, to his estranged son, Huck, written as they travel together toward the end of a journey Michael set out on to make peace with his past. Michael tells Huck of the six people who mattered most to him in his life and how, in turn, he has gone to visit each of them. He also begins to explain why he abandoned Huck and his mother and why, very soon, he will need to do it again. And, of course, he tells Huck of the dark fish.

Mark says: Mark Bishop’s debut novel is a dark and brooding drama which drags you towards its destination with a mixture of intrigue, hope and foreboding. Like one’s own mind does when trying to piece together events from the past, the story follows a non-linear path to its moving conclusion, skipping seamlessly between events and characters. This approach has the desired effect of keeping you guessing as to where it’s heading and, at the same time, keeps the pages turning.

Bishop writes with an easy style that appears to come easily, the narrator’s voice consistent and convincing. Bishop also demonstrates a knack for the playful, including just the right amount of lighter moments to provide balance.

You know a book must be good when you find yourself not minding that the person you're waiting for is running late, almost to the point of wishing a train-delay on them so you can get to the end. This is a situation I found myself in when reading Where The Dark Fish Swim. It is a confident and accomplished debut, that bodes extremely well for the future.

Thank you Mark!

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 Mark Bishop / Thrillers / Books from England

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Trial by John Mayer + Free Book

The Trial (The Parliament House Books #1) by John Mayer
Self published in January 2015.

The Trial is on promotion This Weekend!
Get your Free Copy on the 20th / 21st / 22nd Jan 2018!

Where to buy this book:

Add The Trial to your Goodreads

When Glaswegian Brogan McLane completes many years of university education and legal training he crosses that great divide from Glasgow to Edinburgh. 'Called' to the Bar of the Scottish Supreme Court, he becomes a member of the most prestigious club in Scotland; The Faculty of Advocates in Parliament House.

When High Court Judge, Lord Aldounhill, is found dead after a transvestite party in his sumptuous home, those who know the killer close ranks and need a scapegoat – who better than 'outsider' Brogan McLane?

Out on bail with his career on hold, McLane and his band of blood brothers in the Calton Bar in Glasgow need to get ahead of their enemies or McLane will go down for life after Trial. But every time they discover a piece of evidence, it seems there is a mirror image to contradict it.

Through the murky world of Russian controlled transvestite hotels and with some unexpected police and judicial help, McLane battles against 'Low Life in High Places in the Old Town' until the killer is found.

But well protected and knowing all the tricks, will the killer ever stand trial in Parliament House?

Meet The Author

John Mayer was born in Glasgow, Scotland, a war-zone where violence and poverty reigned. In 1963 when he heard The Beatles on Radio Caroline, he decided to change his life. Aged 14 he left school because, in his opinion, he wasn't being taught. For the next year, in all weathers, he cycled 9 miles to and 9 miles from the Mitchell Library in central Glasgow where he devoured books of all kinds and began to understand what more the world had to offer. He became an Apprentice engineer, and soon was teaching men twice his age. In the early 1970s his love of music led him to set up as a Record Producer. He built his own record company trading in 14 countries. After a disheartening court battle with global giants, he left the business world and went back into further education at the University of Edinburgh, becoming an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland. There he acted for the downtrodden and desperate as well as Greenpeace International. His specialism was in fighting international child abduction.

John has written non-fiction, legal texts and articles; broadcast to tens of millions of people on US and UK radio, appeared on TV and in print media. Since retiring from the Law, John has enjoyed using his years of very colourful experience to create The Parliament House Books series.

The Trial is the first full length novel in this series. Set in Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is more than a nod to Franz Kafka's book of the same title. The Trial sees crusading Scottish Advocate, Brogan McLane, fight injustices so casually delivered by Low Life in High Places in the Old Town.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

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Books by John Mayer / Crime fiction / Books from Scotland

Saturday, 20 January 2018

What She Left by Rosie Fiore + Extract

What She Left by Rosie Fiore
Published in the UK by Allen And Unwin in August 2017.

Where to buy this book:

Add What She Left to your Goodreads

Helen Cooper has a charmed life. She's beautiful, accomplished, organised - the star parent at the school. Until she disappears.

But Helen wasn't abducted or murdered. She's chosen to walk away, abandoning her family, husband Sam, and her home.
Where has Helen gone, and why? What has driven her from her seemingly perfect life? What is she looking for? Sam is tormented by these questions, and gradually begins to lose his grip on work and his family life.

He sees Helen everywhere in the faces of strangers. He's losing control.

But then one day, it really is Helen's face he sees...


Miranda Cooper is eight. Her mother died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage when she was small, and her step-mother, Helen has now gone missing. She describes what happened when Helen first came into their lives.

Anyway, that was a very hard time for our family, and Dad didn’t know what to do, so he had to come back to north London and we moved in with Granny and Grandpa. Dad stopped trying to be a designer and got a job doing client services in the advertising agency, which is different, and you have to wear a suit and go for dinner and drinks and do schmoozing, but you get a lot more money. And after he had been doing that for about a year, he met Helen at work. She had come from Australia to live in England, not too long before Daddy met her. ‘Down Under,’ she said. She didn’t say under what. 
The first time they went on a date, Marguerite and I came too. We all went for a picnic in the park. Helen was kind and pretty, and when we walked in the park, she and Dad each held one of my hands and said, ‘One, two, three, wheee!’ and swung me off my feet, and then Marguerite, who was two, said, ‘Me! Me!’ and they did it for her too. It was nice. Actually, I’m not sure if I remember it, but there’s a picture of us all in the park that day, and Dad has told us the story often. He couldn’t believe a lady from work could be so nice to his two little children. Anyway, Helen started spending more time with us all, and as Dad likes to say, the rest is history. They fell in love and got married, and then Dad got a big promotion at work and bought this house. That meant that Granny couldn’t look after us and pick us up from school because it was too far, and Helen gave up her job to look after us. 
It’s not a secret at school that Helen isn’t actually my mother – the teachers know and everything – but I don’t talk about it to my friends. Marguerite calls her Mummy, but I don’t like calling her Helen, and she isn’t actually my mother, so I don’t call her anything. I like it that everyone at school says she’s the best mum – the prettiest and best at organizing and cakes and stuff, and I don’t say ‘She’s not my mum’ when they say stuff like that. Some of the other children are late, or their school uniform is dirty or they don’t bring their homework on the right day, and that never happens to us. It’s not so stressful that way, with Helen making everything okay. I sometimes wonder what my real mother would have been like – would she have done my hair so perfectly for my ballet exam as Helen does, or would she have been one of those messy, late mothers? Would I have minded if she was my mum? I don’t know. Life has lots of questions we will never know the answers to. 

Meet the author:
Rosie Fiore was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. She studied drama at the University of the Witwatersrand and has worked as a writer for theatre, television, magazines, advertising, comedy and the corporate market.

Her first two novels, This Year's Black and Lame Angel were published by Struik in South Africa. This Year's Black was longlisted for the South African Sunday Times Literary Award and has subsequently been re-released as an e-book. Babies in Waiting, Wonder Women and Holly at Christmas were published by Quercus. She is the author of After Isabella, also published by Allen & Unwin.
Rosie’s next book, The After Wife (written as Cass Hunter), will be published by Trapeze in 2018, and in translation is seven countries around the world.

Rosie lives in London with her husband and two sons.

Author links: 
GoodreadsFacebook ~ Twitter

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Books by Rosie Fiore / Women's fiction / Books from South Africa

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Antelope Play by Boyd Taylor + Giveaway

The Antelope Play by Boyd Taylor (Book #2 in the Donnie Ray Cuinn series)

Category: Adult Fiction, 260 pages
Genre: Political Suspense
Publisher: Katherine Brown Press
Release date: July 25, 2015
Tour dates: Jan 3 to Feb 28, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Some minor cursing.)

Add The Antelope Play to your Goodreads

Book Description:

When Austin native Donnie Cuinn accepts a job as an associate in a Texas Panhandle law firm, his boredom and disdain for Velda, a sleepy Texas town, is forgotten when he gets caught up in a struggle over water rights, possible radioactive contamination of the nation's largest underground fresh water supply, and the violence of an invading Mexican drug cartel. Along the way, Donnie learns to respect the local rancher, whose brother is at the center of the troubles, and to come to terms with the violent death of his young Mexican wife.

To read reviews, please visit Boyd Taylor's page on iRead Book Tours.

Watch the book trailer for Necessities (Book #4 in the Donnie Ray Cuinn Series):

Meet the Author:

BOYD TAYLOR lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and their Havanese dog Toby. Necessities is the fourth novel in the Donnie Ray Cuinn series. In a former life, Boyd was a lawyer and a corporate officer. A native of Temple, Texas, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in government and an LL.B. from the law school.

Boyd's first novel "Hero" was prescient in its story about fake news. His second novel, "The Antelope Play," dealt with drug trafficking in the Texas Panhandle, an unfortunately accurate forecast. The third, "The Monkey House", involved commercial development of a large green space in the center of Austin, all too familiar to Austin residents. Whether his upcoming novel "Necessities" predicts future events with the accuracy of the earlier books remains to be seen.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends March 7, 2018

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Books by Boyd Taylor / Thrillers / Books from America

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Elza: The Girl by Sergio Rodrigues

Elza: The Girl by Sergio Rodrigues
First published as Elza: A Garota in Portuguese in Brazil by Editora Nova Fronteira in 2008. English language translation by Zoe Perry published by AmazonCrossing in 2014.

E for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Xerxes, a ninety-something survivor of the extinct Brazilian Communist Party, hires an unemployed journalist to write his life story, and most importantly explain his 1935 tragic love affair with comrade Elza Fernandes, code-named The Girl. 

Elza’s tale is one of the most bizarre true stories in Brazilian history: as a beautiful sixteen year old, she was suspected of betraying the Party and, although the charge could not be proved, was sentenced to death by Luiz Carlos Prestes himself. Prestes, the most eminent Latin American communist leader in the romantic era prior to the Cuban revolution, had arrived undercover in Rio from Moscow with a mission of overthrowing the Vargas government.

A strikingly contemporary, post-utopian narrative, Elza: The Girl blends the pace of a thriller with the insightfulness and thorough research of a historical novel, introducing the reader to a world in which emotional, political, and even artistic truths must be reappraised in order to understand our shifting present.

I'll admit I bought Elza: The Girl on a whim. I had an Amazon gift card to spend, the ebook was only £1, and I needed a 5th Brazilian book to make up that country's WorldReads quintet! I was also intrigued by the range of review ratings and comments. This seemed to be a real Marmite book (love it or hate it) and I wanted to find out why. Personally, I liked it!

Elza: The Girl is an oddity by crime genre standards and I think a lot of the poor reviews are caused by inappropriate marketing on the part of the publisher, for the English language edition anyway. The cover art and font, the use of the words 'The Girl' in the title: I thought I had a pretty good idea what to expect, but this book is absolutely nothing like that bandwagon genre at all. Instead, it is partly fictionalised true crime, it's slowly paced, and much of the intrigue is due to 1930s political manoeuvring. If you like true crime reportage, you'll probably like this book. If you're hoping to read something like Gone Girl, you'll hate it!

Rodrigues is an investigative journalist by trade and half the chapters recount the information he uncovered in researching this iconic tale. Court records, newspapers and other publications, he really does seem to have left no stone unturned and I appreciated the thoroughness of his work. Elza's murder is one of those stories everyone (in Brazil at least) thinks they know, but I was amazed how much had been invented or at least warped to suit what important men wanted the public to believe. The murder victim herself is almost irrelevant!

I understand why Rodrigues has fictional characters woven around the factual tale. Large sections of the story can be inferred, but aren't proven so this device allows him to offer opinions and possibilities in an engaging way. I liked the interaction between Xerxes and Molina and the conclusion of their relationship was interesting although, I thought, unnecessarily over-complicated. I do now feel as though I have a much stronger understanding on 1930s political Brazil, how the communism against fascism struggle that swept the globe particularly affected this country, and that set up the Brazilian political landscape for the terrible years to follow.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Sergio Rodrigues / Crime fiction / Books from Brazil

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Path to the Lake by Susan Sallis

The Path to the Lake by Susan Sallis
First published in the UK by Bantam in 2009.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Swapped for at a campsite book exchange

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Viv's marriage to David was not a conventional one, but when he died - in an accident for which she blamed herself - it was as if her whole world had collapsed around her. She escaped by running, mainly around the nearby lake, which was once a popular place of recreation but was now desolate and derserted . It became both her refuge and her dread.

But through the misery she made some unexpected friends - a couple in the village whose family needed her as much as she needed them. And gradually, as a new life opened up, she could confront the terrible secrets which had haunted her and which could now be laid to rest.

My first Susan Sallis novel and on the strength of this tale, probably my last too. I chose it as the main character, Viv, was described as a runner. As a runner myself (at the time of reading) I thought I would identify with her because it's not often novelised women get such an independent and active interest. However, it soon became clear that running was purely a symptom of Viv's grief at her husband's death and, as she began to recover, she swiftly gave it up in favour of babies and obsessional Victoria Sponge baking. 'Proper' things for a woman to do.

The Path To The Lake does have a few good minor characters, particularly Jinx and the monosyllabic Mick Hardy, but the leads are flat and difficult to sympathise with. The supernatural element didn't work for me and I didn't understand the door knob at all. Oh, and the tying-up of loose ends at the end is so contrived as to be laughable. Except it's not funny.

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Books by Susan Sallis / Women's fiction / Books from England

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Matter of the Crown by Linda Ferreri

The Matter of the Crown by Linda Ferreri
Self published in America in September 2014.

Where to buy this book:

Add The Matter Of The Crown to your Goodreads

The Crown of the Andes, one of the world's most precious and beautiful sacred objects, has been stolen right off the stage at Satterling's Auction House in New York City. Five pounds of magnificent baroque gold that ransomed the Inca Ruler Atahaulpa, and hundreds of perfect Colombian emeralds, all gone without a trace! Will this legendary treasure be destroyed for its gold and emeralds? One woman is dead and another one in hot pursuit.

Meet the author:
Linda Ferreri is a well-known art lawyer and author.  Her books include novels about the Crown of the Andes, a novella entitled The King of UNINI, and whimsical hand-illustrated iBooks.  She is known also for her drawings.  She divides her time between Italy and the United States and lectures widely around the world about art and history.  Her next novel is in progress.

Author links: 
GoodreadsFacebook ~ Twitter

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Books by Linda Ferreri / Crime fiction / Books from America

Monday, 15 January 2018

The World Jones Made by Philip K Dick

The World Jones Made by Philip K Dick
First published in America by Ace Books in 1956.

My 1950s read for my 2017-18 Decade Challenge

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Swapped for at a campsite book exchange

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Floyd Jones is sullen, ungainly and quite possibly mad, but he really can see exactly one year into the future. And this talent means that in a very short time he rises from being a disgruntled carnival fortune-teller to convulse an entire planet. For Jones becomes a demagogue, whipping up the ideal-starved population into a frenzy against the threat of the 'drifters', enormous single-cell protoplasms that may be landing on Earth soon.

But, in a world of engineered mutants, hermaphrodite sex performers in drug-fuelled nightclubs, Jones is a tragic messiah. His limited precognition renders him helpless because he cannot bring himself to fight against what he knows will happen ...

There's greatness in the book, but there's some seriously questionable moments too. As classic PKD goes, it's one of his earlier novels and I could see glimpses of the style which would mature so successfully later on. Here though, we have tons of ideas but, I thought, not enough book to hold them all! The World Jones Made is short yet combines three strong storylines - to which other authors would probably given a book apiece. The eponymous Jones is a fascinating character, Cassandra-like initially, but realising the satisfaction of actually being believed and venerated for his skill. PKD shows the global reaction to his leadership, scarily prescient given the current climate, with a good sense of human desire and fallibility.

I was intrigued by the extra-terrestrial elements, but felt these didn't stand so well especially against modern scientific knowledge. I do realise it isn't completely fair to judge a 1950s book against 21st century information! I won't mention specific instances here in order to avoid inadvertently giving away plot points, but readers should probably be prepared to gloss over a few hang-on-a-minute moments! Overall though, I just wanted this book to have been at least twice its length and to delve much more deeply into the questions it raises. I felt characters and setting were sketched rather than fully drawn so were ultimately unsatisfying. Such grand ideas deserve a Really Big Book!

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Books by Philip K Dick / Science fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha Christie

Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir by Agatha Christie
First published in the UK by William Collins and Sons in November 1946.

C for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Swapped for at a campsite book exchange

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Think you know Agatha Christie? Think again!

To the world she was Agatha Christie, legendary author of bestselling whodunits. But in the 1930s she wore a different hat, travelling with her husband, renowned archaeologist Max Mallowan, as he investigated the buried ruins and ancient wonders of Syria and Iraq. When friends asked what this strange ‘other life’ was like, she decided to answer their questions by writing down her adventures in this eye-opening book.

Described by the author as a ‘meandering chronicle of life on an archaeological dig’, Come, Tell Me How You Live is Agatha Christie's very personal memoir of her time spent in this breathtaking corner of the globe, living among the working men in tents in the desert where recorded human history began. Acclaimed as ‘a pure pleasure to read’, it is an altogether remarkable and increasingly poignant narrative, a fascinating, vibrant and vivid portrait of everyday life in a world now long since vanished.

I have previously read Agatha Christie's crime mysteries but had no idea she had written this memoir until I saw it in a campsite book exchange. Although published in 1946, the archaeological expeditions described actually took place during the 1930s so there is a pronounced inter-war years feel to the book. Christie herself accompanied her husband ostensibly simply in the role of 'wife' but actually took a greater part in the job at hand - cataloguing finds and developing photographs in a tiny excuse for a dark room. As memoirs go, this is a light read and archaeology students will either be disappointed at the lack of detail or horrified at the standards of 1930s digs. I am fascinated to visit Roman ruins on our European travels. In contrast, Mallowan orders his men to dig straight through any Roman or earlier levels, dismissing such 'modernity' in his quest for far older civilisations.

Much of the humour is a little awkward to read now focussing as it does on not-very-successful attempts to make the British expedition's Syrian servants behave as their country house counterparts would back in England. There is, of course, no question of the British contingent attempting to integrate into Arabic, Kurdish or Armenian communities! I did enjoy Come Tell Me How You Live. It is certainly of its time, but does have a certain charm despite that. I just wish Christie had written a more detailed and descriptive book of the actual archaeology. Perhaps Mallowan did?

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Books by Agatha Christie / Biography and memoir / Books from England

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Guest Review: Diamonds And Dust by Carol Hedges

Diamonds And Dust (The Victorian Detectives Book 1) by Carol Hedges
Published by Little G Books in January 2016.

Where to buy this book:

Guest review by Liz Lloyd
I was delighted when fellow book blogger Liz Lloyd contacted me to offer today's Guest Review for Literary Flits. Liz is a retired teacher/librarian now volunteering at a local museum and writing occasional articles for Family History magazines. The rest of her time is spent reading everything except horror. She commutes between southern England and Portugal following the sun. Liz is particularly keen to showcase indie writers on her book blog, Lost In A Good Book, as they often tell the best stories but she also reviews books by favourite authors such as Kate Morton and Kate Atkinson as well as non-fiction writers such as the historian Lucy Worsley.

Liz's rating: 5 of 5 stars

When a horrific murder takes place on a dark night in 1860's London, it changes two women for ever. New light is cast upon past lives they thought they knew so well, and suddenly their futures become intertwined.

The death of her uncle will leave eighteen-year-old Josephine King an orphan, an heiress and the owner of a priceless diamond, The Eye of the Khan. For Lilith Marks, a chance finally arises to end her life as a highly paid prostitute and to prove herself as a serious businesswoman.

Set against the backdrop of the great gas-lit city, the two women are drawn together in their quest to discover just who killed the man they both loved.

Diamonds & Dust is a page-whizzing narrative, with an intricate and absorbing plot that entices you through the teeming streets of Victorian London. If Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle all washed up on a desert island, they might have come up with something like this.

Liz says: “Diamonds and Dust” plunges straight in to the murky night of Victorian London and a dastardly murder. The early descriptive paragraphs of the misty dark river and alleyways, written in the present tense, take you straight to “Bleak House” and you are quickly caught up in the mystery and fear.

Eighteen year old Josephine King is left with the task of solving the murder of her recently discovered guardian and uncle in an inhospitable environment, summoning the strength of character she acquired from years living in an orphanage. Her unlikely allies are a brothel-keeper and a ragged crossing sweeper called Oi.

As the police make no progress, Josephine discovers that the murder may be connected to a collection of valuable jewels. There are incredible headlines in the newspapers of, “A Fearful monstrous Hound striking terror,” and no-one feels safe on the streets at night. While Josephine puts herself at risk, striving to discover the murderer, Isabella Thorpe, a tragic acquaintance, fights to maintain her sanity, destined to be given in marriage to a depraved bully.

Every scene is filled with period detail, painting a picture of the surroundings without detracting from the fast-moving plot. In one delightful vignette Josephine even meets Charles Dickens though she is not impressed by him! The characters such as Pennyworth Candy and Trafalgar Moggs have such perfect names and in this moral tale all receive their just desserts as the result of two determined women, even if the police take all the credit.

Thank you Liz!

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 Carol Hedges / Historical / Books from England

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Widow Of Papina by Katie Hamstead + Giveaway

The Widow Of Papina by Katie Hamstead
Published in America by Soul Mate Publishing in December 2017.

Where to buy this book:

Add The Widow Of Papina to your Goodreads

Forrest and Braydon Miller moved to the small town of Papina to follow their dreams and start a family. Braydon loves her new life in the quiet town, kept alive by the prestigious boarding school overlooking the valley. She is so proud of her husband’s work, helping the teens on the reservation.

Until one day, Forrest doesn’t come home.

Scandal spreads when it’s discovered that one of the teenagers is missing, too. But, Braydon refuses to believe her husband would leave her. When the teen is found, she isn’t talking–literally.

While Braydon’s heart is breaking, she must hold her crumbling life together, raise her son, trust in the Sheriff’s loyal, and ever-growing devotion, and find a way to love the MUTE teenager enough to discover the truth of what happened to her husband.

Meet the Author
Born and raised in Australia, Katie's early years of day dreaming in the "bush", and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing. After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog. She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing.

When her debut novel, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, climbed into bestselling status, she believed she was onto something, and now has a slew of novels now available, and is published through Curiosity Quills Press, Soul Mate Publishing, and REUTS Publishing. Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports, and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Author links:
Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 18th January, the prize is an eBook copy of The Widow of Papina, an eBook copy of Branded, and an eBook copy of Brownlow Baby.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Katie Hamstead / Mystery fiction / Books from Australia

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Whispers Of The Beloved by Rumi

Whispers Of The Beloved by Rumi
Originally written in the 1200s. English translation by Maryam Mafi and Azimi Melita Kolin published by Thorsons in April 2000.

W for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A breathtaking new collection of translations of poems by Rumi, one of the world’s most loved mystical teachers. Beautifully illustrated with Persian calligraphy, this is an ideal ebook for every MBS reader.

Jalal-uddin Rumi was born in what is now Afghanistan in 1207. His poetry has inspired generations of spiritual seekers, both from his own Sufi school and well beyond. His poems speak to the seeker and the lover in all of us.

In recent years, interest in Rumi has skyrocketed, with perrfomances, CDs by Deepak Chopra, and filmed versions of his life all in the work. In these beautiful, simple new translations – 100 in all – his timeless appeal is obvious.

This short book contains a hundred Rumi quatrains newly translated into English by Maryam Mafi and Azimi Melita Kolin and prefaced with an introduction to the poet's life. It is not so much a book to be read through, I thought, as one to be saved and savoured, dipped into for inspiration or reassurance as the need arises.

I have seen Rumi extensively quoted and referenced before, especially when reading Arabic and Persian novels, but I hadn't actually read a collection of his work before so wasn't sure what to expect. The four line poems themselves are deceptively simple statements which I felt could be taken at face value and satisfy. They also however can be pondered to reveal deeper meanings many of which are religious or spiritual in nature but also seemed intensely personal which surprised me. Other than a brief glossary at the back of the book, the quatrains themselves are left to stand alone which they do of course, but I did often find myself wanting some explanation in order to fully understand what Rumi was saying. Perhaps an assisted study guide would have been a better introduction for a complete Rumi novice?

That said, I am sure I will turn to this collection again and it is a book I would appreciate more as a physical copy than as an ebook. The historical significance of Rumi calls out for paper rather than pixels! Love and the longing for love are the strongest themes in this collection and personal strengths are also important. The following quatrains were those which appealed most deeply to me:

Peaceful is the one who's not concerned with having more or less.
Unbound by name or fame he is free from sorrow from the world and mostly from himself.

To be or not to be is not my dilemma.
To break away from both worlds is not bravery.
To be unaware of the wonders that exist in me, that is real madness.

It's good to leave each day behind,
like flowing water, free of sadness.
Yesterday is gone and its tale told.
Today new seeds are growing.

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Books by Rumi / Poetry / Books from Afghanistan

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Du Lac Devil by Mary Anne Yarde + Extract

The Du Lac Devil: Book 2 of The Du Lac Chronicles by Mary Anne Yarde
Self published in December 2016.

Where to buy this book:

Add The Du Lac Devil to your Goodreads

Readers' Favorite Finalist 2017, IAN Book of the Year Awards Finalist 2017, Golden Quill Award Winner 2017, Chill With A Book Readers' Award 2017.

War is coming to Saxon Briton.

As one kingdom after another falls to the savage might of the High King, Cerdic of Wessex, only one family dares to stand up to him — The Du Lacs.

Budic and Alden Du Lac are barely speaking to each other, and Merton is a mercenary, fighting for the highest bidder. If Wessex hears of the brothers’ discord, then all is lost.

Fate brings Merton du Lac back to the ancestral lands of his forefathers, and he finds his country on the brink of civil war. But there is worse to come, for his father’s old enemy has infiltrated the court of Benwick. Now, more than ever, the Du Lac must come together to save the kingdom and themselves.

Can old rivalries and resentments be overcome in time to stop a war?

The Du Lac Devil is a standalone novel and has a recommended reading age of 16+.


“What are you doing here?” Lady Amandine asked mere moments later. She glanced anxiously up and down the hallway. Thankfully, it was empty, for everyone else had already made their way down to the Hall to break their fast.

Merton was leaning against the opposite wall. In truth, he did not know why he was here, he had promised himself that he would keep his distance, but his feet had led him to her chamber nonetheless.

“I came to ravish you. Why else? Can I come in? Unless you want me to ravish you in the hallway of course,” he said, trying to shock.

“You are not coming in,” Amandine whispered, fearful that someone would hear them in the empty corridor.

“The hallway it is then.” He took a step forward as if he was going to make a grab for her. She immediately took a step back into her room and closed the door just enough so she could peek around and still see him.
Merton laughed. The sound was joyous to Amandine’s ears. She wasn’t used to being teased. Merton made a welcomed change to the tedium that was her life. Not to mention he was also very pleasing to the eye, compared to her ancient husband that was.

“Are you going to let me in, or are you going to cling to the door all morning?” Merton asked, raising one eyebrow as he did so.

He was looking at her in that indulgent way of his. No one, apart from maybe Garren, had looked at her the way Merton did now. It was very persuasive.

“What if my husband returns?”

“While I was ravishing you?” Merton looked shocked. “Well,” he breathed out slowly and crept closer to the door. He raised his hand and rested it on the doorframe. “He would be in for a sight, although I have been told that my body is rather fine to behold,” he smiled charmingly at her.

“You are not funny,” Amandine said. She tried to glance down the hallway again, but he was blocking her view.
“There is no one there, and your husband has drunk himself into unconsciousness. I saw him this morning, fast asleep with his head resting on his plate. I do not think he will be coming back here anytime soon.”

“Oh no, not again,” she sighed and leant her head against the edge of the door. “I should have gone and looked for him last night, I suppose.” But instead, she had been glad for his absence, especially when she woke herself up in the dead of night, calling Merton’s name out loud. She felt her face heat as she recalled her dream. “Thank you for telling me, I had better go and rescue him.”

Her voice sounded thoroughly fed-up, but also resigned and Merton found himself hating her husband for humiliating her so.

“He seemed quite content with his lot. I don’t think he needs rescuing. Are you ever going to let me in or are we going to spend the day conversing in the hall?”

“I can’t let you in,” Amandine said in horror. “What would people say?”
“What people?” He made much of looking down the corridor. When he looked back at her, she had narrowed her eyes and was frowning at him. He smiled as she opened the door wider.

“This isn’t a good idea,” she whispered as she led him further into the chamber she shared with her husband.

Merton shut the door with a resounding bang and turned the key, for he did not want them to be disturbed.

“Now, where would you like to be ravished?” He took a moment to look around the room as if contemplating the best place. “Nice bed.”

Meet The Author

Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury--the fabled Isle of Avalon--was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

At nineteen, Yarde married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions.

Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking--so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out!

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Mary Anne Yarde / Historical fiction / Books from England

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The Case Of The Purloined Pyramid by Sean McLachlan

The Case Of The Purloined Pyramid by Sean McLachlan
Published by Kindle Press today, the 9th January 2018.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received an ebook copy as a reward for my successful Kindle Scout nomination

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sir Augustus Wall, a horribly mutilated veteran of the Great War, has left Europe behind to open an antiquities shop in Cairo. But Europe’s troubles follow him as a priceless inscription is stolen and those who know its secrets start turning up dead. Teaming up with Egyptology expert Moustafa Ghani, and Faisal, an irritating street urchin he just can't shake, Sir Wall must unravel an ancient secret and face his own dark past.

The Case Of The Purloined Pyramid is the first novel in McLachlan's new historical mystery series, The Masked Man Of Cairo. The eponymous Masked Man is aloof Englishman Sir Augustus Wall, a character who unfortunately is so insular that we don't really get to know him although I imagine this will change in future books as he does begin to open up in the latter stages of this one. Surrounding Augustus however is a diverse cast of locals and expats, many of whom profess to want to help, but usually cause more trouble than they save. Street urchin Faisal is endearing and entertaining, and I appreciated Moustafa's predicament of working hard to educate himself yet being frequently dismissed purely because of his race.

Forgers, spies and power-hungry fanatics all cross paths in this well paced mystery tale. I didn't get such a strong sense of place as with McLachlan's previous novel, The Last Hotel Room, but the 1920s era is atmospherically evoked. The mystery itself was different enough from the genre norm to keep me intrigued and, on the whole, The Case Of The Purloined Pyramid is a satisfying read.

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Books by Sean McLachlan / Crime fiction / Books from America

Monday, 8 January 2018

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Published in America by Del Ray in 2015.

U for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A dark enchantment blights the land in the award-winning Uprooted - a enthralling, mythic fantasy by Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire series.

Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest's dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. One young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all they value behind.

Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she's everything Agnieszka is not - beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it's not Kasia he takes.

I added Uprooted to my TBR list two and a half years ago when a now-defunct book blog raved about it. I was intrigued by the synopsis and their enthusiasm, but promptly got distracted with other books and forgot all about it. What a mistake! When I finally got to reading Uprooted this week, I absolutely loved every page. Essentially a young adult/adult fairytale, Uprooted is set in a richly detailed land of witches and wizards, malevolent forests, and tiny village communities. Its era is that any-time of Grimm fairy tales and Novik's story, although newly written, has a wonderfully timeless quality.

Agnieszka is a refreshingly different female lead - untidy and clumsy, talented and self willed. I appreciated seeing her mature throughout the novel, but growing in to her own woman - not becoming a painted clone of idealised femininity! Despite men holding the positions of power in this patriarchal society, it is women who drive the story and every one felt authentic to me. I happily lost myself in Novik's gorgeously imagined scenes. She expertly imparts her imagined world so that it leaps from the pages. The battles and near-escapes are breathtakingly exciting and I loved the intensity of the spellcastings too. Uprooted might just be my book of the month!

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Books by Naomi Novik / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
First published in America by Penguin in 2014.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue - in Marilyn's case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James's case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting.

When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia's older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it's the youngest in the family - Hannah - who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.

Everything I Never Told You is marketed, on its cover at least, as being similar to The Lovely Bones and I think that does this book a disservice. Yes, both are set in the 1970s and the catalyst for both storylines is the death of a girl, but that could apply to dozens of books. Everything I Never Told You is an exploration of family relationships and tensions in a biracial household where two generations of wanting the best for their children has spectacularly backfired.

Marilyn, a white American woman, longed to be a doctor despite her mother's intention that she conform to perfect 1950s housewife ideals. Ng quotes from a vintage Betty Crocker cookbook whose guidelines for a happy home were hilarious until I remembered that they were meant as serious advice. Thank goodness the society in which I live now allows women the right to choose or refuse that lifestyle! Marrying a Chinese-American man, James, allows Marilyn to defy her mother, but also ends up with her losing her dreamed-for medical career. Instead, and unable to see the irony, she foists that ideal of perfect happiness onto her eldest daughter, Lydia. Lydia dutifully strives to make herself into the woman Marilyn obsessively pushes her to be, and when her body is discovered drowned in a nearby lake, the loss tears her family apart.

Several issues are carefully and cleverly interwoven to make this an interesting novel to think over and discuss after it is finished. The shocking casual racism is a reminder of how we can still recoil from people who display differences. And James's constant need to fit in clearly illustrates the effect such behaviour has on its victims. Most important though, I think, is the message that our dreams are just that. Ours. And, even with the best of intentions, foisting our own life goals onto others is rarely the best solution for them.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Celeste Ng / Contemporary fiction / Books from America