Monday, 30 April 2018

Guest Review : The Comfortable Courtesan by L A Hall


The Comfortable Courtesan by L A Hall
Published by Sleepy Wombatt Press in November 2017.

Guest Review by Kathleen Jowitt:
Today my esteemed Guest Reviewer is Kathleen Jowitt, an author who lives in Cambridge, works in London, and writes on the train! I'm looking forward to her new novel, A Spoke In The Wheel,  which I'm going to read and review in May.

Kathleen's stories are about people who sort their own heads out and learn that they are, on the whole, not nearly such terrible human beings as they thought they were. Speak Its Name (2016) explores Christianity and sexual identity in the context of student life and politics, and was the first self-published novel ever shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize. Her next book, A Spoke in the Wheel, will be published in May 2018 and looks at physical capacity, the social model of disability, acceptance, redemption, and integrity.

Kathleen's rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £0.99 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written


Apologia for my temerity in writing this memoir:
I shall not say how, and why, at the age of 15 I became the mistress of the Earl of Craven, because I never had the kind of opportunities that Harriette Wilson wast’d.

However, I enjoy’d the patronage of a number of generous suitors, and in particular, at the age of 27 I fell in with a wealthy Northern ironmaster, whose sound financial advice even more than his generosity ensur’d me the means for comfortable living without the need for writing scandal-monging memoirs, indeed enabling me to support a number of charitable enterprises.

This narrative sets out to encourage a rational and prudent approach to the profession of harlotry and to dispel the notion that a fallen woman is bound to die in the gutter, pennyless and poxt, afore her 30th year.

Kathleen says: Clorinda Cathcart is a very high-class courtesan in Regency London, and for two years between 2015 and 2017 her experiences formed a daily instalment of online fiction. I'd read them on the train to work, or over a mid-morning coffee. They were often gentle, occasionally melodramatic, always sex positive, usually funny, sometimes sad, and invariably a welcome interlude in my day. The characters were so much part of my daily life that I started thinking of them as friends.

Now her adventures are coming out in paperback and ebook format, and I'm enjoying them all over again.

The Comfortable Courtesan was the first volume to appear (Rustick Exile, A Change of Station, and Old Enemies, New Problems are now also available) and it's a delightful introduction to the Regency demi-monde and to a varied and engaging cast of characters. We meet Lord G- R- and his secretary (among other things) Mr MacD-; Mr F- the industrialist, and, surprisingly, his wife; Clorinda's household; the musicians Miss L- and Miss McK- (my own personal favourites); and Sir Z- R- the artist. There's gossip, intrigue – and a wombatt.

Readers may find that Clorinda's idiosyncratic spelling and her habit of referring to characters by their initials take a little bit of getting used to; however, there's a key at the beginning of the book and the characters are sufficiently well-drawn that it's not difficult to get the hang of who's who.

The author, L. A. Hall, is a historian and retired archivist, and the setting and manners are as well-researched as one could hope for.

You can find out more at https://www.clorinda.org/

I'm rating this four out of five stars – that's because I know it gets better, and I need somewhere to go!


Thank you Kathleen!

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 L A Hall / Historical fiction / Books from England

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Medium Wave by Rose Zolock + Excerpt


Medium Wave by Rose Zolock
Published in the UK by Caffeine Nights Publishing on the 6th of April 2018.

Where to buy this book:


The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £1.99 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add Medium Wave to your Goodreads

Becky Moran has built a career claiming to talk to the dead. A successful clairvoyant medium, a Cambridge graduate with her own radio show ‘Medium Wave’ and a team dedicated to crafting the celebrity myth – because Becky Moran is a fake. Until, one night, something supernatural, inexplicable, breaks through live on air as she is broadcasting. Becky Moran discovers the paranormal is real, the dead can indeed speak and she is being pursued relentlessly towards a battle for her very survival.

‘This thing has no defined shape. Whatever energy exists within it, it cannot settle on a shape. The strands of darkness curl out and then wrap back inwards. The bulk of the shadow becomes concave, then bulbous, the height building in on itself but lacking any skeletal structure to wrap itself around. There are no eyes, no clearly defined head shape. It is creating itself from darkness, like a swirl of ebony ink dropped into a vat of putrid water, spreading silently….’




Excerpt

We meet Becky in her radio studio ‘Voice of Britain’, a national talk radio station in London, broadcasting her show ‘Medium Wave’. She has just handled a historic artefact – the crystal of Dr John Dee, Royal Astronomer to Queen Elizabeth The First….


The blackness was total. Becky Moran was absorbed by it. For a second, there was nothing. No breath, no sound, no heartbeat, no sense, no touch – just suspension without connection to the physical world. It was as if she and that darkness were one. She could see nothing. She was not aware of the seat beneath her. Her fear erased her logical thought processes.
They say that fear, when it comes, takes many forms. It could be that moment when the doctor in his white coat, his eyes kind with sympathy, tells you that they cannot operate. Or the adulterer’s fear when the deception is finally unmasked. The fear of answering the door to a police officer who may have news of a fatal accident. That of growing old and being alone. The fear of failure. The terror of a child who is convinced that an ancient hand, green with decay and with long, curling nails encrusted with the dirt of the coffin will wrap itself around her bare ankle when she puts her foot on the cold floor. There are the new, twenty-first century fears of jet planes exploding, of a suicide bomber on your crowded Tube carriage, of a deadly virus breeding silently in the city centre. Fears, real and imagined, which shape behaviour and change lives as human beings try to get through their short span of time on Earth.
For Becky Moran, her fear at that moment transcended the external. It was internal. It wrapped itself inside her body, winding through her bones and muscles, twisting itself around her brain and coiling under her skin. 
The thrum, thrum, thrum had ceased. No sound vibrated around her now and it was as if the air itself had gone, swallowed up by the darkness. The voices were silenced. In that black vacuum, the collection of cells and DNA which made up Becky Moran were absorbed into an infinite mass of the nebulous. It was as if her existence had almost been eradicated.
She inhaled sharply, and the returning air, as it passed through her mouth and into her lungs, jolted Becky back to some level of perception. Now she could hear her heartbeat, fast and loud, banging steadily in its own terrified rhythm. She knew her eyes were open, but there was no light, no light. Her breath, now recovered, was shallow and rapid. She was unable to move, even though she was not aware of anything binding her limbs. Yet she was more conscious of her body, even the feel of the fabric of her dress, scratchy on her skin, of her bare feet, and even the weight of her hair on her shoulders. 
Her brain tried to work out why she had been enveloped by this oppressive blackness; fear jiggled the synapses to snap from a dream-like state to a panic response because this environment – this experience – made no sense. 
Seconds had passed since the lights went out, but Becky felt as though this isolation in the dark had always been. Ahead of her, a pinpoint of white light – very far away – pierced the blackness. Becky focused her eyes towards it as it grew wider, larger and nearer. She sensed the darkness fighting that light, a heaviness around her pushing at it, a strong unseen force wanting to flatten that light, eradicate it, conquer it, and end it. 
It was a pure light. Becky wanted it, wanted that illumination, and knew that within it lay escape, salvation, safety. Her stomach muscles tightened as she bent, leant towards that white light, now bigger and brighter and winning over the dark mass. Her arm reached towards it and, as she moved, the darkness expanded around her in one last attempt to swallow her, make her a part of it without end, suck her into it, absorb her existence and own her. 
But the light expanded towards her and Becky moaned with longing, a desperate sound, a sound of gratitude that spoke of survival, hope, and redemption. As the light reached her body and bathed her, a voice as black as that diminishing darkness whispered: 
‘We are here.’



Meet the author:

Her Irish grandmother first told Rose about the Banshee when she was just a small child. How the wailing sound of the spirit of the dead and dying could be heard when someone was about to pass.

It was family folklore that the women in the family had ‘the touch’, the ability to see spirits and other dimensions. Rose listened and grew up fascinated by those who claimed to have supernatural or psychic abilities.

Rose does not claim to have those powers. Take her to Venice in February when the mist swirls over the canals, walk by her side along the darkened streets of Greenwich Village in New York City in high summer, listening to a ghost walk tour guide tell the stories of death, murder and the unexplained – Rose would say those stories and our belief in them gives her a power to see into the shadows within our imagination.

As a journalist, Rose takes every opportunity to explore and investigate strange stories, myth and folklore. Living in rural Yorkshire, with a rich library of ghost stories and literary tradition, Rose also has a sceptical and forensic insight into those who peddle the stories which feed our imagination but of which we have yet found no proof. She has listened to the debunkers who argue against those believers who are convinced that the dark side exists.

Rose’s mind is open. Is yours?

Author links: 
Website ~ GoodreadsFacebook ~ Twitter



Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Rose Zolock / Horror fiction / Books from England

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Last Stop To Saskatoon by Tony Nesca


Last Stop To Saskatoon by Tony Nesca
Published by Screaming Skull Press in Canada in December 2017.

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:
Directly from Screaming Skull Press

One Book. One epic poem. An unadulterated, uncensored, stream-of-consciousness protest against the state of the world.

I've been very lucky with my take-a-chance-on-it poetry collections this month. Giant, Heirloom and now Last Stop To Saskatoon have all been amazing! Each work is very different poetically, but I loved exploring them. Last Stop To Saskatoon contains two poems. A Protest Song is the first epic poem I think I have read in many years so I wasn't sure how such a long poem would work for me. I needn't have worried! Tony Nesca swept me up in the first few lines and the energy in his words kept me reading straight through to the end. Twice!
love-sick smiles
and bloody afternoons under the hipster violence
and skinless thigh-high leather let-downs
with bust-up memories that coagulate your mind

This is a great poem to stand up and read aloud. If it's not already a performance piece, it certainly should be! It's angry themes spoke clearly to me as, even though Canada is referenced, the issues Nesca addresses are universal. I could just as easily envisage decaying British towns and fragmented communities, media-driven hate bandwagons and that orange monster! The nostalgia for a time of 'protest songs in the key of E' is cleverly evoked alongside a desperate present-day fury. I heard echoes of Dylan and Kerouac, both of whose writing I love, and a strong underground indie vibe that keeps this work vividly alive. Love it!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Tony Nesca / Poetry / Books from Canada

Friday, 27 April 2018

All The Way To Italy by Flavia Brunetti + Giveaway



All the Way to Italy: A modern tale of homecoming through generations past by Flavia Brunetti

Category: Adult Fiction, 222 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction (can fit into YA Fiction as well)
Publisher: Ali Ribelli Edizioni
Release date: April 21, 2018
Tour dates: April 23 to May 18, 2018
Content Rating: PG for the occasional use of "for God's sake" and a few religious references (though very mild). No violence, no swear words, and no sex scenes.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £3.51
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written
Add All The Way To Italy to your Goodreads

Book Description:

Until her dad died, Little considered herself a Californian. Now, thanks to half a letter, a symbol she can’t quite remember, and writer’s block, she finds herself back in Italy, the country of her birth. In a headlong rush to return to her beloved San Francisco, Little will journey throughout Italy, hoping to find the answers she needs to move on with her life so she need never look back. She’ll enlist the help of the woman who raised her, Sira, her father’s sister; but Sira has secrets she’s kept for decades, and Little underestimates the power of the country she fled years before.

In this powerful story of mixed cultures in a world trying to globalize, one girl’s struggle to leave her home behind will lead her back to the women in her family and the memories each of them has safeguarded through the generations. From war-torn Italy to the belpaese of today, All the Way to Italy is a tale for those in search of a balance between wanderlust and the necessity to come home, a reminder that although we may be fragments, we are never a lost cause.

To follow the tour and read reviews, please visit Flavia Brunetti's page on Italy Book Tours.


About the Author:

Photo credit: Roberta Perrone
Born just outside of Rome, Flavia Brunetti grew up bouncing back and forth between Italy and California, eventually moving back to the Eternal City and confirming her lifelong commitment to real gelato. Flavia holds a Master of Arts degree in Government and Politics from St. John’s University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from John Cabot University. Today she travels the world working for an international humanitarian organization and spends her free time writing and wandering around her beloved Roma in constant search of bookstores and the perfect espresso. You can find her city blog on Rome at whichwaytorome.com and her portfolio of published writing at flaviinrome.com.

Connect with Flavia: Website ~ Blog on Rome ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!
Two winners will get an ebook copy of All the Way to Italy plus a $20 Amazon.com gift card and one winner will get an ebook copy of All the way to Italy plus a $30 Amazon.com GC (open internationally to wherever Amazon delivers - 3 winners total).
Ends May 26, 2018


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Flavia Brunetti / Women's fiction / Books from Italy

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya


The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya with Elizabeth Weil
Published in the UK by Hutchinson today, the 26th April 2018.

One of my ReadingWomen selections

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £12.24 (PB)
Wordery : from £12.57 (PB)
Waterstones : from £14.99 (HB)
Amazon : from £13.54 (HB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbours began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were thunder. In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Clare, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years wandering through seven African countries, searching for safety—perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive.

When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States, where she embarked on another journey, ultimately graduating from Yale. Yet the years of being treated as less than human, of going hungry and seeing death, could not be erased. She felt at the same time six years old and one hundred years old.

In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine provokes us to look beyond the label of ‘victim’ and recognize the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks. Devastating yet beautiful, and bracingly original, it is a powerful testament to her commitment to constructing a life on her own terms.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads was an unusual memoir for me to appreciate because much of the horrific genocide that forced Wamariya's exile happens off the page. Normally this would irritate me no end, but in this case it is because Wamariya's extreme youth meant she had a very limited understanding of what was happening around her. Instead of recounting violence and the details of this conflict, we see the Rwandan war as she saw it - in colours and sounds, through food or hunger - and this I often found emotionally more difficult to read. I was forced to keep remembering that this is the story of a young child.

Wamariya intersperses her memories of her years spent rootless except for her sister, with thoughtful discussions of what it means to be a refugee. Many of the issues she highlights are not often discussed elsewhere and I found myself rethinking some of my own beliefs about the 'best' and most effective ways to offer help.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads is a relatively fast read although one where I found it useful to re-read certain sections and discussions in order to really understand the points Wamariya makes. This book doesn't have the gruesome scenes that I found so distressing in The Running Man so I thought it more likely to appeal to a wider audience. It is still a shocking reminder of a terrible war and a strong warning of how the aftermath of colonialism still resounds across recently independent nations.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Clemantine Wamariya / Biography and memoir / Books from Rwanda

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Hatchet Hollow by Amanda McKinney + Excerpt + Giveaway


Hatchet Hollow by Amanda McKinney
Self published in America on the 24th April 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £2.15 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add Hatchet Hollow to your Goodreads

After an afternoon of mind-numbingly boring surveillance in the woods, Private Investigator Raven Cane goes for a twilight jog to clear her head, only to discover a gruesome murder in the town’s most notorious cave, Hatchet Hollow. Minutes later, the impossibly handsome Lieutenant Zander Stone arrives at the scene to take over, but Raven has a hard time letting the case go. Why did the killer cut off the victim’s fingers? More importantly, who would do such a thing?

After a failed attempt at tracking down the elusive Marden Balik, aka, the legendary witch of the Great Shadow Mountains, Zander dives headfirst into Devil’s Den’s most recent murder, only to uncover twists and turns at every step—including a secret book of curses that may, or may not, exist. As the list of suspects grows, Zander does his best to keep Raven at arm’s length. But Raven is persistent, nosing her way into his case, making it increasingly difficult to keep his concentration on the task at hand, and off of her sultry body.

And when another woman is found brutally murdered, Zander worries that Raven has gotten too close to the investigation… close enough to put her directly in the killer’s sights.




Excerpt

A BLACK CROW swooped down from a decaying pine tree beside her, it’s cringing caw piercing the silence of the woods. She shuddered and zipped up her windbreaker.
Abby never liked crows, or birds for that matter. Not since her parents brought her back a rare, extremely expensive—their words, not hers—parrot from Honduras when she was twelve years old. It was one of the many vacations they’d taken without her—needing a break, they’d say—and leaving her with her nanny, Fran, whose hair always looked, ironically, like a bird’s nest, and whose breath could stop a clock. The same nanny who’d tattled on her for leaving a window open, allowing the precious parrot to fly away.
Her father didn’t speak to her for a week, and her mother, only when he wasn’t looking.
But that was a long time ago. That was then, and this was now. She was a woman now, freshly turned twenty-one with her whole life ahead of her. She didn’t need her parents or the shallow gifts they’d showered her with, replacing their inability to show affection. She didn’t need them anymore, just like they didn’t need her. That’s how they always made her feel, anyway.
A cool gust of wind carrying the sour scent of moldy earth swept past her. She glanced up at the cloud-covered sky. Another dreary day. Another stupid, dull day in this small, suffocating, godforsaken town—just like the day before.
But not anymore.
She could make her own decisions now, out from under their financial thumb. Go her own way in life.
And she was.
And her parents would kill her for it.
She stepped onto the jogging trail that snaked through the woods and stumbled on a rock. She looked down at her new black running shoes laced tightly over black ankle socks. Black leggings and a black T-shirt.
Black.
She swallowed the lump in her throat.
She’d always been fascinated with the mystical, creepy folktales that were whispered through the Great Shadow Mountains. Spirits, ghosts… witches. Hundreds of stories told during dark nights with no electricity, bonfires with too many drinks, Halloween, or just about any scenario shrouded in darkness. The stories were told with glances over the shoulder and hushed voices laced with fear, and if you listened carefully enough, respect. Respect for the evil forces that could snatch you up in the middle of the night, turn you into a lizard, or worse, curse you and everyone you loved.
Witches who could raise the dead from the earth.
Witches who could take your life.
Respect, power. Those were the two things she was promised when she’d been approached about “turning over a new leaf”. Taking control of her own life—and others if needed. Yes, she would be a part of something now, of something big, she was told.
She took a deep breath, closed her eyes.
Was she apprehensive? Absolutely. But what they’d promised her had been too great to ignore. She’d been a fool to walk away.
Right?
She smoothed her black windbreaker.
Black really wasn’t her color, but they had been wearing it—head-to-toe—so she figured she’d better get used to it. There would be so much to learn, they’d explained, and embracing black was a good start, she guessed.
But dammit, it really washed her out. Her pale complexion and light blonde hair—a gift from her mother—looked even more lifeless against the unforgiving color.
Maybe she would take baby steps into the change.
Yes, baby steps.
Maybe it would be okay if she wore her red silk blouse and white Louboutin six-inch heels on her date next week.
Butterflies tickled her stomach.
A date!
She couldn’t believe it. Yes, she had been asked out by a good-looking, accomplished man, nonetheless. It was completely out of left field… and only hours after she’d officially committed to “turning over a new leaf.” Coincidence?
Yes, things were going to change for her. Things were going to go her way, for the first freaking time in her life.
She was going to be powerful, respected. Feared.
With an extra pep in her step, she rounded a corner in the trail and spotted her new jogging partner anxiously waiting ahead.
“Hey.”
“Hey, there. You ready?”
She snorted. “As ready as I can be, I guess.”
“First mile’s always the hardest. I’ll take it easy on you. Might want to stick those keys in your pocket, though. Uneven terrain.”
“Oh, okay. Yeah.” She nodded, looked down, and as she unzipped her pocket—
WHACK!
Her head snapped back as a fist slammed into her jaw.
Pain rocketed through her skull. Bright lights flashed in her eyes. The metallic taste of blood filled her mouth as she stumbled backward. The world spun around her, sending a wave of nausea through her body as she tried to process what was happening.
What the hell?
She opened her eyes to fuzziness and tried to focus on the movement in front of her. But before she could come to, the next brutal force knocked her out cold.


Meet the Author

Award-winning author of sexy murder mysteries, Amanda McKinney wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY, after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Her books include the BERRY SPRINGS SERIES and the BLACK ROSE MYSTERY SERIES, with many more to come. Set in small, Southern towns, Amanda’s books are page-turning whodunits peppered with steamy romance. Amanda is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime, and lives in Arkansas with her handsome husband, two beautiful boys, and three obnoxious dogs.

Author links:
Website ~ FacebookGoodreads



And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 3rd May, the prize is a signed copy of Hatchet Hollow and a $50 Amazon Gift Card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Amanda McKinney / Crime fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Dimension Drift by Christina Bauer + Excerpt + Giveaway


Dimension Drift by Christina Bauer
Published in America by Monster House Books today, the 24th April 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £2.84 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add Dimension Drift to your Goodreads

Truth time. I go to a Learning Squirrel High School. Don’t judge.

On second thought, judge away. Learning Squirrel is one step above attending class in a junkyard. But what do you expect? Everything’s made out of garbage these days. At least, I have my freelance work to keep Mom and me housed, clothed, and fed. How? I’m your regular high school science geek for hire, except my work manipulates space-time. The good news is that these gigs pay really well; the bad news is that the government likes to kill people like me. Whatever. I’m not worried; hiding from their detection systems is easy for me.

Then I screw up one of my illegal projects. Badly.

In fact, things go so sideways that my house slips into two-dimensional space-time. The shift only lasts for a few seconds, but that’s long enough to set off a dozen government alarms. If those goons track me down, Mom and I are as good as dead. Long story short, I need to pay someone off, hide the evidence, and keep us safe.

Unfortunately, that means asking the Scythe for help. He runs the local underground crime scene and has absolutely no conscience…Or at least, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. It’s hard to think straight when a guy’s that hot in an ‘evil Mafioso kingpin’ kind of way. Most importantly, the Scythe is a crime lord who can conceal my slip-up with a few clicks on his minion’s computer keyboards. But the man has his price. In this case, the Scythe wants me to finish a certain dimensional prototype for him in twenty-four hours. I can do it, but it might mean Learning Squirrel High gets blown up in the process. Oh yes, and there’s also my new hot classmate who may or may not be an alien…and he says he’ll do anything to help me.

This job won’t be easy, but I’ve gotten out of worse scrapes. Maybe.


Excerpt

Chapter One

Nothing like waking up at the butt-crack of dawn to find your mother standing over your bed holding a thermos, moldy picture frame, and plastic bust of Albert Einstein.
That wakes me up, fast.
This whole thing is a shocker because for the last year, Mom’s been doing nothing but staring out the window, hoping my older sister, Luci, will come home. Such a disaster. Back in 2611, Luci ran off with her high school beau, Josiah, saying they wanted to start a new life somewhere that wasn’t Western New Massachusetts. For the record, I don’t blame my sister for leaving. Mom isn’t exactly the poster girl for stable parenting. And Josiah is a nice enough guy. You know, in the way that vanilla is a nice enough flavor.
That said, Luci only left us a quick note on the kitchen table the day she took off. Since then, my sister hasn’t sent us any word. Mind you, this is the same Luci who couldn’t go six hours without talking to Mom. Now, twelve months go by without so much as a peep? That’s not Luci.
Long story short, Mom and I are both pretty worried.
We just show it in different ways.
Mom holds up the bust of Einstein and stares at me wild-eyed. She doesn’t say anything, but that’s pretty typical. After Luci left, my mother’s routine has been pretty predictable.
Bed to window.
Window to bed.
No talking.
A little eating.
Not much sleep.
But now, Mom’s out of her chair with a vengeance. Plus, she’s even wearing one of her old lab coats from her researcher days. The frayed insignia of “United Americas” is still visible on her pocket protector. We’re not even supposed to know the name of the United Americas anymore, let alone save themed clothing. My high school teaches us that the only government that’s ever existed are the sickos in power today: the Righteous Command and Ultimate Authority. Mostly, we call them the Authority.
So what’s Mom doing in her old lab coat? Tons of scenarios skitter through my head. Most of them end with Mom getting trucked off to a mediprison. The Authority strives for purity in all things. Any signs of what they call mental weakness, and the Authority declares you an enemy of the state, and you disappear.
At this moment, the words total panic pretty much sum up my life. “What’s wrong, Mom? It’s four a.m.”

Meet the Author

Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers.

Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Stalk Christina on Social Media – She Loves It!

Author links:
Website ~ Twitter ~ FacebookGoodreads ~ LinkedIn ~ Instagram ~ Blog



And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 30th April, the prize is an ebook of Dimension Drift plus swag and cute jewellery.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Christina Bauer / Dystopian fiction / Books from America

Monday, 23 April 2018

Guest Review: Journey To The Center Of The Dream by Ted Prokash


Journey To The Center Of The Dream by Ted Prokash
Self published in America in November 2016.

Guest Review by Tony Nesca:
I'm delighted to introduce Canadian author Tony Nesca, half the team behind Screaming Skull Press, whose review today is the 30th Literary Flits Guest Review! I've got Tony's epic poem Last Stop To Saskatoon to read - watch out for that review here very soon.

Tony Nesca was born in Torino, Italy in 1965 and moved to Canada at the age of three. He was raised in Winnipeg but relocated back to Italy several times until finally settling in Winnipeg in 1980. He taught himself how to play guitar and formed an original rock band playing the local bars for several years. At the age of twenty-seven he traded his guitar for a Commodore 64 and started writing seriously. He has published six chapbooks of stories and poems, five novels, two books of poetry and has been an active contributor to the underground lit scene for ten years, being published in innumerable magazines both online and in print. He currently resides in Winnipeg and shares a house with his wife, his teenage nephew and his mother.

Tony's rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £8.75 (PB)
Wordery : from £7.73 (PB)
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from $3.09 / £2.28 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

"It's kinda like the 21st Century version of ON THE ROAD, except it's something one would read for entertainment purposes, not out of a fear of shirking drab literary obligations." - Reverend Norb, Wisconsin punk rock legend. 

Journey to the Center of the Dream follows four brave Midwestern rubes on a dogged march through America’s dyspeptic underbelly, via the twisted bowels of her underground rock n’ roll scene. A sublime first-person odyssey. An epic poem of our New Dumb Age. Journey is an exploration of the America not pimped by the Department of Tourism or the Chamber of Commerce, a search for all that remains worthy in the hearts of men. 

Angst, drugs and rock n' roll. Get in the Minivan.

Tony says: This is Ted Prokash's third book and it is, in this reviewer's opinion, his best work yet - now that is saying a lot considering that his first two offerings, A Fool For Lesser Things and The Brothers Connolly were excellent novels, reminiscent of books that appeared in that glory-filled, ultra-creative time that was the 1920's. Journey to the Center of the Dream is more visceral, more streamlined, a work that comes from the guts loaded with rock and roll electricity. all sinew and bravado.

The story is about Marlow, Leo, Dante, and Dessy, four alternative, quasi-punk rock and rollers (a bit older than usual) with a band called Black Darkness, that embark on a cross-country bar-tour of the United States. A journey of drugs, booze, and music follows punctuated with keen observations on the loss of art and culture and anything with a reward of more than just the immediate. What is great about this book is that we are not being offered the rarefied life of elite rock stars snorting cocaine off of naked bodies and demolishing 5 star hotels, we are seeing a tour of seedy bars and dark basement gigs, with most gigs poorly attended and poorly promoted, but all present into the music and the scene with guts and glory, and with the band kicking the jams, man, kicking it hard and loud. This is rock and roll. This is pure and real. The prose flits and grooves and moves and snarls its way through the whole book like a wolverine on the prowl and it surrounds the reader with movement and style and down and dirty intelligence.

This reviewer gives Journey to the Center of the Dream an enthusiastic 5 stars out of 5. A fantastic read!


Thank you Tony!

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 Ted Prokash / Contemporary fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid


Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
First published by Hamish Hamilton in 2017.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:


The Book Depository : from £5.39 (PB)
Wordery : from £5.76 (PB)
Waterstones : from : £6.99 (PB)
Amazon : from £3.58 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

An extraordinary story of love and hope from the bestselling, Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing - to fall in love - in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.

Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind - when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world.

I wish I could have loved Exit West as much as the reviewers quoted on the book do, but unfortunately I ended up just a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong. This is still an above average novel and a very good four star read, but I felt it could and should have gripped me that bit more. It should have been a five star and, for me at least, it wasn't.

On the positive side, I did appreciate the tense early scenes in maybe-Syria as Nadia and Saeed's city slowly and then rapidly succumbs to civil war. A line about a flat's boulevard view making it sought after in peacetime, but an obvious target in wartime felt particularly poignant in this week of Teresa May deciding more British bombs is a humane answer. Exit West briefly reminded me of The Cellist Of Sarajevo as streets become impassable, water and electricity supplies fail, and simply standing near a window is to put one's life at risk. In this hostile environment, Nadia and Saeed fall in love. Their relationship is completely believable and I did like these characters, but somehow I always felt detached from them. I am not sure if perhaps I was too often told rather than shown, but I always felt like their story was being recounted to me rather than my being fully immersed in it.

This feeling of detachment became stronger as the book progressed. The dark dystopia of the London scenes grabbed my attention and I did like the idea of the doorways. Fantastical obviously, but a vivid illustration of how migrants are often perceived. There is a sense of menace about the darkness of these journeys and in the way the people taking them just appear, one after another after another. As Nadia and Saeed approached their first doorway, I understood how desperate people would have to be to take such a risk.

Perhaps also a problem with Exit West is that it is a short book, especially short considering the amount of story it has to tell. I wanted more depth and to connect more, particularly with Saeed who, at times, I am not sure I fully understood. Reading back over this review I realise it does have quite a negative vibe which is harsh. I did enjoy reading Exit West and would happily pick up another Hamid novel. I think my expectations were just pitched too high.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Mohsin Hamid / Contemporary fiction / Books from Pakistan

Saturday, 21 April 2018

On The Cold Coasts by Vilborg Davidsdottir


On The Cold Coasts by Vilborg Davidsdottir
First published in Icelandic as Galdur by Forlagid in Iceland in 2000. English language translation by Alda Sigmundsdottir published by AmazonCrossing in 2012.

One of my WorldReads from Iceland

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £5.74 (audio CD)
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : from : £8.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $2.50 / £0.01 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

When a fleet of one hundred English ships is caught in a horrible storm off the cold coasts of fifteenth-century Iceland, twenty-five ships are lost. For Ragna, the daughter of a respected family and betrothed to Thorkell, her relationship with one of the seamen washed ashore results in pregnancy. Now barren due to a traumatic childbirth and stigmatized as a fallen woman, she is left with no prospects for marriage when the betrothal is ultimately canceled.

A decade later, Ragna becomes a housekeeper to the new English bishop in North Iceland, where passionate and ambitious Thorkell is a priest and steward. They embark on a fervent but doomed love affair as priests cannot marry and Ragna will not be a concubine. Little does Ragna know but her host, the bishop, is instigating the conflict between the English and Nordic settlers to his own gain, with a devastating impact on his housekeeper. As sweeping as it is intimate, On the Cold Coasts is a powerful, enduring story of love and personal sacrifice.

I'm going to start by saying On The Cold Coasts is an ok story. For the £1 I spent on the Amazon ebook, it was quite good value, but there were several things that niggled and prevented a higher rating and more enthusiastic response.

Firstly, the synopsis gave me to understand that the book would follow the life of Ragna, a woman in fifteenth century Iceland. This is kind of true, but I felt the majority of the scenes actually focused on Men Doing Important Things while Ragna was relegated to the sidelines or even off into the kitchen. Her torrid romance with Thorkell left me pretty cold too. He occasionally notices she exists and they sleep together, which apparently is enough for her to consider him the love of her life. I know social standards were different back then, but this woman is excelling in a responsible job while raising a son singlehandedly. I just didn't buy that, romantically, she would allow herself to be so ignorantly treated!

Iceland itself is well described and I got a good sense of the religious struggles of the time. Various branches of the Church all believe Iceland's trading profits should be theirs and the English (of course!) Bishop is one of the most sly. Overall though, I think On The Cold Coasts just wasn't rich enough a historical novel for me. I do like to be swept up in lots of period detail and this story was more action-focused. So, yes, an ok read, but it's no Burial Rites!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Vilborg Davidsdottir / Historical fiction / Books from Iceland

Friday, 20 April 2018

The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking


The Little Book Of Hygge: The Danish Way To Live Well by Meik Wiking
First published by the UK by Penguin in September 2016.

How I got this book:
Won in a giveaway

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:


The Book Depository : from £5.29 (HB)
Wordery : from £8.23 (HB)
Waterstones : from : £7.99 (HB)
Amazon : from £0.52 (used HB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That's down to one thing: hygge.

'Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight...'

You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right.

Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.

I managed to overstretch myself with book reviews this month and rather than facing the problem head on by steadily working through everything that's rapidly becoming overdue, I briefly chose the Head In Sand approach by picking up The Little Book Of Hygge instead. It wasn't even on my reading list! Won while we were travelling, my sister forwarded it onto me today. Appropriately it turns out that maintaining connections with friends and family is part of Hygge and probably the aspect I am worst at. Reclining on my vintage chaise longue (complete with its hand crocheted blanket made by Moi!) in order to read a book is strongly Hyggeligt. So is drinking frequent cups of tea and eating cake (baking my own cake is extra Hyggeligt!). Stressing about unwritten book reviews is not at all encouraged. I think I have finally found the lifestyle label that actually suits how I love to live!

My difficulty in reviewing The Little Book Of Hygge is in separating my enthusiasm for the lifestyle from my thoughts on the book itself. Certain aspects such as the overall idea, the inspirational photographs, the inclusion of recipes and crafts, and Wiking's gentle humour were definite positives for me. I also liked the sort-of science which identified similar concepts across Europe and the thoughts on the history of hygge. What didn't work so well for me was the repetition of ideas. Self help books are meant to be motivational and I accept that repetition is a strong part of reinforcing new habits, but by about two-thirds of the way through I started to feel that there were rather more pages available than material to fill them!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Meik Wiking / Self help books / Books from Denmark

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Sons Of Gods by Arthur J Gonzalez + Excerpt + Giveaway


Sons Of Gods by Arthur J Gonzalez
Published in America by Fahrenheit Publishing in January 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £0.99 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add Sons Of Gods to your Goodreads

Long ago, the wrath of the three God brothers marked the onset of the Great War. The other Gods watched in horror, until they, too, were forced to take sides. Their beloved Mt Olympus collapsed, ruin was brought to all Divine, and the Age of Darkness gripped the world in its clutches. But a group of Gods was wise, and before their impending deaths, they had crafted a pact, committing to one day rebuilding the Territories – the Heavens, Seas, and the Underworld. It would usher in the world they protected and honored out from its darkness. And from it would rise the new Greats: the Sons of Gods.

Cienzo has always had an affliction for metal and fire; never did he anticipate it would one day translate to wielding dormant powers. It is during a journey to fulfill a promise to his dying sister, that he is plunged into a dark and magical world, and where great responsibility is bestowed upon him.

Is he worthy of assuming the throne of the Territories? Can shattering steel and splitting fire change his mind?

Excerpt

“Cal,” he said softly. “Trust me.”
Caleseus glared into Cienzo’s eyes. There was a small glimmer of something he had never seen before in them. The trip had surprised everyone, even Caleseus, a creature that had survived a world of extinct enchantment. But even this reality was incredibly untouchable for anyone’s imagination to conjure. Something grand was happening, Caleseus could feel it too.
“I did not see what your eyes did,” Caleseus continued. “But I promised Kayana to look after you. For me to do so, I must trust you. You have my word.”
Cienzo gave a nod. Caleseus nodded back, a slight bend in his step. And in that small moment, a world of understanding had been exchanged between the two. Cienzo sensed it at his core. Cal no longer accompanied him for the sake of Kayana. He might say so, but his earlier hesitation had been replaced, swapped by the belief that something great waited to expose itself. The world was changing, and together, they would encounter it.
“Now that that’s settled,” Zendaya said, gesturing for Cienzo to climb aboard Phobos. “Can we get on?”
Cienzo climbed Phobos’s back, grappling the jutting skin of the beast to pull himself upward. He flopped onto the velvet-cushioned seats. His heart raced as he strapped himself in. I’m about to take flight. His fingers trembled. What would it feel like? Never had he thought it a possibility to travel by air and not by land.
What else had he missed out on? The possibilities seemed inestimable.
Zendaya took her place beside him. She did not waste time strapping herself in. A sign of adeptness. Cienzo moved the same way around metal and fire. “Ready?” she asked.
He blew out a breath. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Our adventure begins.” She leaned forward and petted Phobos’s neck. The creature let out a moaning growl. “Let us fly,” she said. “Our time is now.”
Phobos’s wings launched outward like giant sails on a ship; so vast and dominating they veiled the view of the mammoth, frosted willow. She flapped lightly until they hovered just slightly in the air; the braided chain of the metal hung from her neck as it tugged on the cabin that held the centaur and the nymph. Then Phobos clenched her razor talons around the outcropped handle of the cabin’s domed roof and whisked them into the air as one would a pail of water.
Phobos plunged skyward toward the glittering moon. The beating, cold wind of flight tickled at Cienzo’s skin. A new sensation for his senses to query, for wind was an absent thing in Thilos. The pillow clouds broke away against the angles of his face; the collisions turning them to dust in the night.
He looked down as they soared over the crown of Thilos. The sinkhole swirled less furiously, the giant net sparkling against the moonlight like its own constellation.
The flames of firelight from the rescued houseboats flickered below them. The higher they ascended, the more a sense of freedom swelled in his chest. It was a feeling of invincibility, of infiniteness. He felt an air of the God that Zendaya claimed him to be.
Everything at this altitude was peaceful. Pain, he thought, was a disease of the land. He thought of Isla then and how much she would have enjoyed this adventure. In the sky, the moon offered tranquility, a melody to soothe away worry. Out in the deep distance, the Forcaian Mountains skewed the steamrolled horizon. Stars continued their tango around its peaks.
The Sea of Air blanketed the borders of Thilos and foaming waves fed the coastlines. From here, even the dangerous ocean seemed harmless and docile, as it was once made to be.
Zendaya eyed Cienzo as he inhaled the skies. His hair wildly slapped at the clouds. He felt her stare and turned his face. I probably look like a child. Eyes opening to a world that is only just unraveling around me. A deep longing shifted within him and his mind scrambled for peace.
“You think too much,” she said, the wind pummeling at her words. Her eyes remained unwavering. “The Skies will forever be yours to marvel over. For now, you should rest. Soon we will arrive.”

Meet the Author

Arthur J. Gonzalez is a Young Adult author of the Photo Traveler series. Originally born in Miami, FL, you can now find him living on the West side in Los Angeles. If he’s not drinking coffee or playing with his adorable Schnoodle, Sookie, then he’s probably enjoying a nap. Also, he forgets the lyrics to nearly every song.

Author links:
Website ~ Twitter ~ FacebookGoodreads



And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 26th April, the prize is a $25 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Arthur J Gonzalez / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Last Letter by Kathleen Shoop


The Last Letter by Kathleen Shoop
Self published in America in February 2011.

Literary Flits Spotlight Giveaway Winner

Where to buy this book:


The Book Depository : from £8.95 (PB)
Wordery : from £8.94 (PB)
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £2.94 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add The Last Letter to your Goodreads

Katherine wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t found the letter...

Katherine Arthur's mother arrives on her doorstep, dying, forcing her to relive a past she wanted to forget. When Katherine was young, the Arthur family had been affluent city dwellers until shame sent them running for the prairie, into the unknown. Taking her family, including young Katherine, to live off the land was the last thing Jeanie Arthur had wanted, but she would do her best to make a go of it. For Jeanie's husband Frank it had been a world of opportunity. Dreaming, lazy Frank. But, it was a society of uncertainty—a domain of natural disasters, temptation, hatred, even death. 



Ten-year-old Katherine had loved her mother fiercely, put her trust in her completely, but when there was no other choice, and Jeanie resorted to extreme measures on the prairie to save her family, she tore Katherine’s world apart. Now, seventeen years later, and far from the homestead, Katherine has found the truth – she has discovered the last letter. After years of anger, can Katherine find it in her heart to understand why her mother made the decisions that changed them all? Can she forgive and finally begin to heal before it’s too late?



Meet The Author
Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Author links:
Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Kathleen Shoop / Historical fiction / Books from America