Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Sugar Lump by Megan Gaudino + Guest Post + Giveaway


Sugar Lump by Megan Gaudino
Published in America by Evernight Teen on the 10th January 2018.

Where to buy this book:



Add Sugar Lump to your Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old travel blogger CC is stuck on a never-ending road trip with her wanderlust-addicted father. When her dad lands the job of his dreams in Sugar Lump—wedding capital of the world —CC finally finds a place to call home. Complete with two quirky best friends and a quixotic guy to crush on, Sugar Lump is more shades of perfect than she can possibly count.

But when CC accidentally overhears the mayor complaining that she has to “take out” a rogue employee for not fulfilling the terms of his contract, the idyllic town’s facade crumbles. Devastated by the possibility of having to move yet again, CC discovers everyone has been keeping a massive secret from her—including her own father.



Guest Post by Megan Gaudino

I'm fascinated by how authors write so asked Megan to talk about where she likes to write and what her perfect writing space would look like:

One of my favorite aspects of being a writer is that I can do it from anywhere. Inspiration can strike at any time, after all, and I would never want to lose an idea. My phone and Google Docs come in really handy and are often used to keep track of everything.

But, that being said, my "real" writing almost always happens in the same place. My bedroom is a bookworm's dream. I have built-in book shelves and stacks of novels on every available surface. I even have a lovely, little desk with a comfortable chair. I almost never use it.

My absolute favorite place to write is my bed. My mother gave me a lap desk (with a mermaid on it, of course) and it has been amazing. For me, being comfortable is part of removing distractions. With the lights turned just right, my favorite candle burning, and comfortable spot, all propped up in bed, I am free to write. I want to be in the world I am creating as much as possible and think being in a totally comfortable place helps me become vulnerable enough to do that.

When I think of all my favorite scenes,  or the most productive days,  they all happened in my bedroom. I usually work well with distractions, I can tune out almost anything, but when I really want to get down to business I like quiet. For me, when I'm trying to be inside my MC's head, I don't like distractions.I also like to talk through scenes or dialog, and for fear of sounding crazy, it's probably best to do that alone.

When I feel like being more sociable I do move to the couch in the living room.  Those times are usually for first drafts when the words are just coming out so quickly and it doesn't matter if everything makes sense. Talking, the TV blaring, the dogs barking, those distractions don't bother me if I'm writing. Editing is a much more serious business and I need to be locked away in my bedroom for that.

So, because of that, I don't have just one perfect space in mind, it more depends on my mood. I don't really need anything fancy for it to be perfect, though I wouldn't mind an Instagram-worthy desk I could always photograph, they would be a definite plus! I would say the perfect place for a writer is the right head space.  I love having a story I can't stop thinking about. I love when even if I'm watching my favorite TV show (Game Of Thrones) my mind wanders to my characters. Because if I can't stop thinking about my story, there's a chance the readers won't be able to stop either.


Meet the Author
Megan Gaudino works in a high school library by day and on her own books by night. She’s made up of a mixture of black clothing, iced coffee, and a desire to go adventuring. Those things sort of come together naturally to form a writer. She lives in Pittsburgh where you can find her reading, writing, and Instagraming.

Author links:
Twitter ~ Goodreads


And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 8th February, the prizes are 1x $30 Amazon gift card and ebooks copies of the authors's other books: Always Kiss Me Goodnight, Never Kiss and Tell, and Falsies.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Megan Gaudino / Young adult books / Books from America

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Guest Review: Runners And Riders by Jordan Elizabeth


Runners And Riders by Jordan Elizabeth
Published in America by Curiosity Quills Press in December 2016.
Runners And Riders' sequel, Secrets Of Bennett Hall, is published today, the 30th January 2018.

Where to buy this book:


Guest Review by Cathrina Constantine:
The Best Selling author of Don't Forget To Breathe, Cathrina won Readers' Favorite International Book Award for 2015, New Apple Medalist for 2016, Literary Classics Gold Award and Literary Classics Seal of Approval. She resides in Western New York and grew up in the small village of Lancaster, NY, where she married her sweetheart. Cathrina is devoted to raising 5 cherished children, and now her grandchildren.

Cathrina loves to immerse herself in great books of every kind of genre, which helps to write purely for entertainment, and hopefully to inspire readers. When not stationed at her computer you can find her in the woods taking long walks with her dog.

Cathrina's rating: 5 of 5 stars

Juliet loved growing up at the seaside, although it meant lonely hours chasing after the other beach rats while her mother worked as a seamstress. Juliet never expected her seaman father to inherit a fortune and move the family to New Addison City. Suddenly her mother is a socialite and Juliet is best friends with a strong-willed girl who actually likes her. When Juliet’s new friend welcomes her to the Runners, a gang that has plagued the East Coast for years, Juliet sees it as the opportunity to fit in, learn tricks, and make eyes at one of the hottest members. What the gang does isn’t really wrong…right? She’s used to being a pawn for the Runners, but she starts to question what she sees as harmless fun when the gang uses her to attack a young officer.

Jonathan Montgomery vowed to end the Runners after they murdered his family. He joined the Riders, an elite police force dedicated to stopping the Runners’ crime spree. They have put him in New Addison City, but rookie mistakes follow Jonathan as he struggles to accomplish his goal, until a young woman feeds him inside information to bring down the Runners.

Between murders and secrets, Juliet will need to find her strength to help Jonathan, before the founder of the Runners crawls up from the sewers amongst her inventions to burn down the city.

Cathrina says: The prolific author, Jordan Elizabeth knows how to write an intriguing novel full of twists and turns. Even though, RUNNERS AND RIDERS is considered part of The Treasure Chronicles, it is a stand alone novel.

The first couple of chapters leads the reader into the gist of the story. I'd compare the Runners to a brutal gang of characters that kill and threaten people. The Riders are police who try to stop the Runners. And Juliet is a lonely girl searching for friendship and finds it in a girl named Anna. Anna not only befriends Juliet, but teaches her how to steal, and more. Anna's brother is part of the Runners which instantly incorporates Anna and Juliet into their schemes. When the Rider, Jonathan enters New Addison, Juliet is not only enamored, but realizes her association with the Runners isn't exactly what she wanted.

Runners and Riders is a steampunk western novel that will definitely keep you entertained.


Thank you Cathrina!

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 Jordan Elizabeth / Steampunk fiction / Books from America

Monday, 29 January 2018

Hostage by Skye Warren & Annika Martin + Excerpt + Giveaway


Hostage by Skye Warren & Annika Martin
Self published in America on the 27th January 2018.

Where to buy this book:



Add Hostage to your Goodreads

I NEVER KNEW WHEN HE’D COME TO ME. ONLY THAT HE WOULD.

I’d never even kissed a boy the night I met Stone. The night I saw him kill. The night he spared my life. That was only the beginning.

He turns up in my car again and again, dangerous and full of raw power. “Drive,” he tells me, and I have no choice. He’s a criminal with burning green eyes, invading my life and my dreams.

The police say he’s dangerously obsessed with me, but I’m the one who can’t stop thinking about him. Maybe it’s wrong to let him touch me. Maybe it’s wrong to touch him back. Maybe these twisted dates need to stop. Except he feels like the only real thing in my world of designer labels and mansions.

So I drive us under threat, until it’s hard to remember I don’t want to be there.

Until it’s too late to turn back.

HOSTAGE is a dangerous standalone romance by New York Times bestselling authors Skye Warren and Annika Martin. It’s set in the same world as PRISONER, but can read separately!



Excerpt

A calm comes over me. “Are you going to kill me, too?”
“So far, you haven’t shown you can follow orders very well, have you?”
“I won’t tell on you,” I blurt out.
He snorts.

We’re heading west, out of the city. The party seems like a million years ago. They’ll be sitting down for dinner now. Wondering where I am. Will they think I left?
The man’s face is in shadows. Streetlamps flash over his face as the van moves along, revealing a nose carved out of granite and a strong jaw. I wouldn’t call him handsome. He’s too rough-hewn for that, like someone forgot to sand over the angles.

“Please—”
“Be quiet.” His soft menace is directed at me this time. I shrink in my seat.

We’re going into a run-down suburb, Westdale or Ferndale or something, a place with a lot of little tiny box homes. It’s a place I never go. We wind through the streets, deeper and deeper.

It’s hard to even look at him. That means acknowledging what’s happening to me. This is real. I may never make it out of this alive. That’s what I think when I turn my head to the side, glance at him from beneath low lashes. Which makes his gray Henley and dark-wash jeans seem way too ordinary. If this were the day I was going to die, wouldn’t he be wearing something more dramatic?

But that’s just wishful thinking from my panicked mind. He can hurt me wearing anything. I’m so deep in danger it’s hard to breathe.

He slows on a far block and turns. The van headlights hit overgrown weeds and the charred remains of a house. The place burned at one time, long ago.

He circles around and goes into the alley behind it. He shoves it into park and does something to the wires that make it shut off. He turns to me. “I’m gonna get out and deal with this guy. If you move out of this seat, I’ll kill you. And if, by some miracle, you manage to get away, I’m going to kill everybody you called on this phone in the last month. Can you guess how? I’ll give you a hint. A meat hook is involved.”

I suck in a breath. He doesn’t bother to wait for my answer. He gets out, yanks open the back door, and drags the man out—I can tell by the thuds. More punching sounds come from behind the van. The groans and garbled pleas sound worse and worse.

I huddle in my seat, listening to a man get beaten to death.
Bile rises up in my throat. I have only a few seconds to decide what to do—throw up in the van or throw up outside. He’s told me not to leave. He’s threatened my life, threatened to snap my neck. But I have an entire lifetime of my mother’s voice in my head. I have sixteen years of decorum forcing me to fumble for the door handle and push my way out.

I make it two feet away before dropping to my hands and knees and throwing up in the weeds behind the place. For all I know, he’ll kill me for this. For all I know, he’d have killed me for doing this in the van. He’s insane.
There’s not much that lands on the ground. A bottle of smartwater and some strawberries don’t leave a lot to vomit, but my stomach still heaves again and again until I’m sore, until I’m choking on bile, wrung dry.

I sit back on my feet, wiping my face, panting, one hand on the rough concrete, head down. The sounds back there have changed. There’s this grunting and a grinding sound, then a crack. It makes me want to throw up all over again.

If he’s going to kill me, I’d rather not see it coming. I guess I hope he does it fast. That’s what they always say in movies.
I hear a thump in the back of the van and then the sound of the door shutting. Footsteps coming toward me.

I force my breathing to slow. He’s behind me. I stay still.
“You’ve never seen shit like this, have you?” he asks, his voice almost conversational.
It makes me shiver, how he can sound so normal after killing a man.
My voice is low. “No.”
“You’ve only seen—what? Parties? Fancy shit?”
There’s judgment in his voice and something else. Curiosity? I can use that. I have to use that, because it’s the only tool I have. I sit back on my knees, brushing my hands against each other to wipe off the gravel. My white and pink dress is stained with blood and dirt. My cell phone is in his pocket. If I want to survive this, I need to persuade him to let me go.
“Parties,” I force myself to say in agreement. Make him see you as a person. “Tonight was my birthday party.”
He doesn’t say anything.

I look up at him. His face is cast in shadows by the moon. Demonic. Unforgiving. I wonder how I look to him, down on the ground in a dirty alley.
“Please just let me go back there,” I whisper. “Nobody has to know.”
He lowers to his haunches and brushes a strand of slick hair from my face. His thumb lingers on my cheek, brushing over my skin. “You’re right,” he says, voice musing. “No one saw me take you. No one even knew I was there. No one has to know.”
“What does that mean?” I whisper.
He stands, sucking in a ragged breath. My heart pounds as his eyes move over me.
I’ve never felt so helpless, so alone. I’m a sacrifice, kneeling at the feet of a beautiful, brutal demon.


Meet the Authors
Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.

Author links: 
Website ~ Newsletter ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads   

Annika Martin is a NYT bestselling author, lover of sexy stories, hot heroes, and big drama. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and two cats. She's been writing all her life while working various jobs, from waitress at a zillion different restaurants to advertising writer. Annika is into running and yoga and helping animals, and coveting other people’s gardens. She also writes as RITA award-winning author Carolyn Crane.

Author links:
Website ~ Newsletter ~ FacebookTwitter ~ Goodreads


And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 1st February, the prize is a $10 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Skye Warren and Annika Martin / Romance fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Twist by Harkaitz Cano


Twist by Harkaitz Cano
First published in Basque in 2011. English language translation by Amaia Garbantxo published by Archipelago Books in America in October 2017. The English language ebook edition will be published in two days, on the 30th January 2018, and is available to preorder.

Where to buy this book:



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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A moving portrayal of violence's emotional legacy in the Basque Country. Twist is tale of guilt, love, friendship, and betrayal, and of the difficulties that arise when one flees one's own skin to inhabit the minds of others.

Set in the politically charged climate of the Basque Country in the 1980s, Twist relates the disappearance and brutal murder of two ETA militants at the hands of the Spanish army. The novel centers on their friend and fellow activist Diego Lazkano, who, since revealing his comrades to the authorities, has been tormented by guilt. In Twist, Harkaitz Cano provides a multi-vocal account of a conscience and a society in turmoil.

Twist is a powerful novel of the effects of violence within a society and how the repercussions of violent acts continue to be felt for years and decades after they take place. The first third of Twist had me especially hooked as it recounts the events Diego Lazkano witnessed, experienced and perpetrated during his involvement with an ETA militant group. Cano unravels his story from different angles so I found myself at times feeling angry towards the young Diego for what he was doing, but at other times feeling sorry for him because of the apparently random coincidences that had led to his predicament.

Later this novel expands to look more deeply into the Basque political situation during the 1980s and afterwards. It also attempts to understand and portray the works of artists and actors around this theme of violence. Cano himself, I believe, is an artist across multiple media and I could certainly see his experience and knowledge through the novel, but I admit that some of the longer sections, while interesting in their own right, lost me as to their relevance to the central narrative. Fortunately, Twist does complete its circle so I wasn't left as confused as I did briefly become in the middle.

Twist doesn't graphically explain the origins and aims of ETA. I did already have an idea of what the group was about, but am not sure whether greater previous knowledge would actually have given me greater insight into Cano's novel. In a sense I found much of Diego's reflection and anguish to not be specific to his time and place. I believe Twist could be as relevant to other armed struggles for independence and recognition the world over and through much of history. While ETA was a Basque movement and Cano vividly evokes the Spanish setting in many of his scenes, the way in which his characters treat each other is depressingly universal.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Harkaitz Cano / Contemporary fiction / Books from Spain

Saturday, 27 January 2018

The Light Of Falling Stars by J Robert Lennon


The Light Of Falling Stars by J Robert Lennon
Published in America by Riverhead Books in August 1997.

Where to buy this book:



How I got this book:
Bought at The Childrens Society charity shop in Garstang

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story of a small town rocked by the tragedy of a plane crash, the arrival of a stranger who claims to be the lone survivor of the crash, and a marriage about to crumble offers a richly textured portrait of change, compassion, and tenuous connections. A first novel.


Described as a novel of loss, grief and survivor guilt, The Light Of Falling Stars is set in a small American town, Marshall, which has the incredible misfortune to be the site of a plane crash. Many of the victims are local people so practically everyone is personally affected. Lennon divides his tale into three Parts with the first introducing us to selected relatives waiting at the airport, and the couple, Paul and Anita, whose house was partly destroyed by a falling engine. Part One is undoubtedly the strongest. Heavily emotional, but without being mawkish or overly sentimental, there are excellent character studies and Lennon seems to have an real understanding of the agony of waiting. Even cameo appearances such as the airport staff and chaplain are perfectly crafted.

Unfortunately, after this promising start, the novel loses its way and veers off to focus on the collapsing marriage of Paul and Anita. Their storyline has the potential to be an interesting novel in its own right, but I didn't like the way it took over The Light Of Falling Stars at the expense of the ensemble piece for which we had been set up. Other characters do still get a look in and their tales are neatly concluded in Part Three, but after the wandering style of the middle section, I felt that their emotional impact had been lost. And the final scene is embarrassingly schmaltzy.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by J Robert Lennon / Contemporary fiction / Books from America

Friday, 26 January 2018

Dilemma by Baheya Zeitoun + Free Book


Dilemma by Baheya Zeitoun
Self published in November 2015.

D for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Downloaded the ebook from Smashwords

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

She is caught in the middle of a love triangle for the first time in her life, but only desires one man. As he grows distant, she seeks comfort in the unlikeliest places. All the while, trying to manage her uncertain financial situation and her career. It is a contemporary tale about a young writer and the struggles of independence in a 21st century metropolis.

Dilemma is an experimental literature novella that describes the life of a young everywoman in everycity over the period of a year. Created by Zeitoun from her own diaries, she tells her story in a third person perspective and has anonymised the both the characters and the city itself. I have seen this anonymity device come unstuck in other novels, but I thought here it worked well. The pared down cast and narrative line meant I was never confused as to who was the focus of the writing and the city, while being an important element in its own right, could be pretty much in any country. Zeitoun's novella is, of course, completely personal to her experiences, but at the same time manages to accurately illustrate the coming of age of thousands of women across the globe.

I appreciated witnessing She's personal growth from the first naive chapters where she defines her identity more by her potential partner than by her own self. Later She talks about transition and I felt that concept was the crux of this book. She cannot be comfortable as her own person until she learns what and who she really wants to be.

Dilemma is a gentle story and a quick read which was appealing in its simplicity. There is a smattering of proofreading errors which distracted me a little, but not overly so, and I enjoyed reading this story.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Baheya Zeitoun / Women's fiction / Books from Egypt

Thursday, 25 January 2018

The Earlie King And The Kid In Yellow by Danny Denton


The Earlie King And The Kid In Yellow by Danny Denton
Published in the UK by Granta today, the 25th January 2018.

Where to buy this book:



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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ireland is flooded, derelict. It never stops raining. The Kid in Yellow has stolen the babba from the Earlie King. Why? Something to do with the King's daughter, and a talking statue, something godawful. And from every wall the King's Eye watches. And yet the city is full of hearts-defiant-sprayed in yellow, the mark of the Kid.

It cannot end well. Can it? Follow the Kid, hear the tale. Roll up! Roll up!

The Earlie King and The Kid In Yellow is a tour de force of writing! Danny Denton's prose is frequently breathtaking and I loved his vision of a perpetually rainsoaked future Dublin where roads and buildings are flooded, whole estates have been lost to the sea and, in places, it is only possible to get along the motorway by boat. I could imagine every dismal day in this land where the rain has been falling for years and I certainly wouldn't want to have to live there! The Earlie King is set within a criminal underworld so we see glimpses of what remains of working society, but spend more time in dingy pubs or dank tower block apartments. I could almost hear the dripping water and smell the mould on the walls! Violence and drug addiction is commonplace and the gang to which you belong is more important than the family you might have left.

I would describe this novel as a dark urban fairytale. There aren't really magical elements but myths and half-remembered stories swirl around. Some characters might not actually exist and it is difficult to see what is truly real through the rainmist and rustweeping. I loved Denton's use of compound words throughout this story and his periodic slides into poetry too. I wasn't sure, however, about the few scenes which are written as play scripts. Are we supposed to see the whole tale as a play? Or is a play being staged after the fact to retell the Kid In Yellow's story until it becomes more memory than truth? Perhaps that has already happened!

The characters themselves I thought had an unreal feeling about them and this also led me to think of The Earlie King as a fairytale. I liked the point of view switches. Sometimes we hear directly from a character, other times we have a third person viewpoint, and the novel proceeds at a thrilling pace pretty much all the way through. The reading speed was increased in my ebook edition by numerous pages of greyscale illustrations however, other than the rain pages, I don't think the pictures appeared properly on my Kindle so I can't comment on how effective they really are.

I think The Earlie King and The Kid In Yellow should go rushing up the bestseller lists this Spring! It is an unusual reading experience, but one that shouldn't be missed!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Danny Denton / Dystopian fiction / Books from Ireland

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Daughter Of The Goddess by Rita J Webb + Giveaway


Daughter Of The Goddess by Rita J Webb
Self published in America in November 2013.

Where to buy this book:



Add Daughter Of The Goddess to your Goodreads

The wind calls her to play. Will she listen?

I was a nameless child abandoned on the temple doorsteps.

Soul, the gods called me. So they named me Nephecia.

My plans don’t include marriage to some silly nobleman. When I come of age, I will take vows and devote my life to serving the goddess of Light. As a priestess, a daughter of the goddess, I’ll make the world a better place.

The summer before my eighteenth birthday, an oracle arrives with word from the gods: I must leave the only home, the only family, I’ve ever known, to marry a stranger in a foreign land.

There must be some mistake.

If I follow my own plans, I’ll disobey the very goddess I want to serve. But how can I trust the gods have my best interest at heart?

Daughter of the Goddess is a Young Adult Fairy Tale retelling of the Greek myth Eros and Psyche, set in a fantasy world. If you enjoy sweet love stories and fairy tales, then you'll fall in love with Nephecia's story. Grab your copy today.



Guest Post - Q and A with Rita J Webb

Where did you get the idea for Daughter of the Goddess?
My favorite Greek myth is the story of Eros and Psyche. I think it’s the only Greek myth I read with anywhere close to a happy ending, even if there was a great deal of turmoil getting there.

The philosopher in me always wondered what a soul really was. When someone says, “That music is full of soul,” what does that mean?

So Nephecia epitomizes what I believe soul means. I took her out of Ancient Greece and put her into a world of my own making.

How did the name “Psyche” become “Nephecia”?
I searched other languages for the word “Soul” and found nephesh in Hebrew. 

How did the name “Eros” become “Gabin”?
Gabin is a variation of Gabriel (according to my baby name book), that means “Hero of God.” I remember something about it meaning “Beloved by God” too.

Why do you write stories?
I have 3 daughters, ages 15, 13, and 11, and I want them to grow up believing in their dreams. The only way I can see that happening is if I believe in my own.

What’s your secret to success?
My husband. He believes in me, and when I’m discouraged, he never lets me give up. 

What one piece of advice do you have for new writers?
Read, write, study, write some more. Never give up. Okay, that’s 5 pieces of advice.


Meet the Author
Leaving the house to go to school, I had schoolbooks spilling out of one hand, the other holding my place in a Nancy Drew novel, and bunny slippers still on my feet. My mom was a wee bit upset.

I haven't changed much. Still always have a book (or two) in my hand or creating stories in my head, and although I don't have any bunny slippers, I love writing in my jammies and snuggly slipper socks.

With my husband TJ (my own cuddly werewolf), I home-school our three girls, who keep us busy with art, science projects, books to read, dance classes, and walks about the park.

Author links:
Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads


And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 28th January, the prizes are 1x $20 Amazon Gift Card and 3x $5 Amazon Gift Cards.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Rita J Webb / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

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.


Search Lit Flits for more:
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!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Mark Bishop / Thrillers / Books from England

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Trial by John Mayer


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

Where to buy this book:


Add The Trial to your Goodreads

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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?


I loved the way John Mayer contrasts the two great Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow in The Trial. Having briefly visited both during a rail tour of the country some years ago I could recognise their characteristics and, in this novel, we really get to see behind the scenes of the entitled aristocratic Edinburgh set and the rough working-class Glasgow community. It is interesting that some of their cultural lynchpins of loyalty and honour are the same! Mayer's descriptions of the physical places allowed me to imagine every detail. I particularly appreciated the implied menace within the Calton Bar and the claustrophobia of McLane's prison cell.

The Trial is a pretty fast paced thriller so, other than Brogan McLane himself, I didn't feel we got bogged down in really getting to know the other characters. Rather I had impressions of a type with enough hints of individuality to mostly identify everyone as we met them again. I did find it easier to remember the Glaswegians than the Edinburgh Advocates and Judges. Perhaps that's just me! At times I would have liked more explanation of just how certain things occurred - who found a particular piece of evidence and how? McLane's clever legal arguments are fun to unravel and, overall, this is a tense and very enjoyable thriller. I am glad to already have a copy of its sequel awaiting me!

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 + Excerpt


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...

Excerpt

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
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


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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
One of my WorldReads from Brazil

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.


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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.


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