Friday, 31 August 2018

Angelica Stone by Susi Osborne + #Giveaway


Angelica Stone by Susi Osborne
Published in the UK by The Book Guild in July 2017.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via Rachel's Random Resources

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon

Add Angelica Stone to your Goodreads

Following years of sexual abuse, Angelica is brought up in care. As a teenager she absconds, living on the streets, before eventually being forced into prostitution to survive. She learns to rely solely on herself and is reluctant to allow anyone to get close to her, until she forms an unlikely bond with Lola. In contrast, Lola is from what appears to be a happy middle-class background – but all is not what it seems...

Slowly, as their friendship grows, cracks start to appear in Lola’s life, and a series of events leave her on the verge of ruin. Can these women break the cycle of their lives? Or will they succumb to the path laid out before them? Angelica Stone is an emotional rollercoaster of laughter and tears as the women embark on a journey of self-discovery, with the support of one another.




Angelica Stone is a much darker story than its cover art implies. Readers should be aware of potential triggers in scenes of abuse and rape which are pretty graphically described.

Despite being the title character, Angelica's story is ofen overshadowed by that of her new found friend, Lola. Lola has recently moved back into her childhood home, nursing a broken heart and attempting not to be too jealous of her parents' incredibly happy marriage. Lola meets Angelica through the supermarket where they both work, but it takes a while for Lola to earn Angelica's trust. As readers we see Angelica's situation primarily from Lola's perspective and this effectively highlights the shocking differences between their lives. Susi Osborne has obviously carefully researched the experiences of homeless women, particularly young women, in the UK and this gives a strong sense of authenticity to Angelica's story. Her guarded attitude and pragmatism rang true and I was upset at Lola's repeated inability to keep her promise of secrecy. Not as good a friend as she likes to think she is!

For my tastes there are a few too many convenient coincidences propelling the narrative and I would have preferred the focus to have remained on Angelica. Her's is such a heartrending tale that I didn't feel the need for Lola's family drama although I understood that this aspect added extra excitement. Although I certainly didn't like all the characters - neither was I meant to! - I did like Osborne's crafting of scenes and dialogue to portray each one. Rafferty's unspoken reactions to Sean concisely depict the man and even cameo roles such as Bob are vivid and believable. The grim details of Angelica's street and home allowed me to empathise and I feel that the imagery is memorable. Hopefully this novel, Angelica Stone, will be influential in raising awareness of the plight of homeless women in our towns and cities, especially as the issue continues to grow.

Meet the author:

Susi Osborne is the author of The Ripples of Life, Grace & Disgrace, Secrets, Lies & Butterflies and Angelica Stone. She lives in Cheshire with her Scottish husband, her actress daughter and their two mischievous little dogs. Susi also has an adult son and a grandson who live nearby. Amongst friends their house is known affectionately (she hopes!) as the Osborne madhouse, for obvious reasons.

Before she became a writer, Susi worked in libraries for many years. She also worked as a classroom assistant in a junior school. In addition to her writing Susi organises Northwich LitFest, which she has been running for the past seven years. Alongside the writing of her latest book, Angelica Stone, Susi has been raising money for Centrepoint, the charity for youth homelessness, and has set up a Just Giving Page for the charity in her name.

Susi is a firm believer in the fact that it’s never too late to do anything. ‘You only have one life – go out and grab it with both hands!’

Author links: 
Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads


And now it's time for the Giveaway!

One Winner will win all 4 of Susi Osborne’s Books
(Open to UK Only)

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Susi Osborne / Women's fiction / Books from England

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army by Edoardo Albert


Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army by Edoardo Albert
Published in the UK by Endeavour Quill on the August 2018.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon

Conrad is a monk, but he has become a monk through trickery and against his will. So, it is fair to say that his heart isn't really in it. Conrad is also clever, charming, entirely self-serving, self-absorbed and almost completely without scruple — but in Anglo-Saxon England, when the Danish invaders come calling, those are very helpful attributes to have.

And so it comes to pass that Conrad finds himself constantly dodging death by various means, some reasonable, some... less so. His tricks include selling his brother monks into slavery, witnessing the death of a king, juggling his loyalties between his own people and the Danes, robbing corpses and impersonating a bishop.

By his side throughout is the gentle and honourable Brother Odo, a man so naturally and completely good that even animals sense it. He is no match of wits for the cunning Conrad but can he, perhaps, at least encourage the wayward monk to behave a little better?

Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army takes the reader on a hugely entertaining and highly informative trip through the Anglo-Saxon world, in the company of a persuasive and likeable — if frequently despicable — tour guide. It is a story that combines painstakingly accurate depictions of history with a fast-moving and often hilarious plot, and as such is bound to appeal to lovers of history, historical fiction and character-driven fiction alike.

I thoroughly enjoyed this humorous romp through Saxon England! I have previously read Edoardo Albert's serious historical novel, Edwin, so already knew of his impeccable research and great ability to evoke historic period in his writing. I wasn't prepared for his deft comedic touch and enthusiastic sense of fun though. Our hero (who is anything but heroic) is a dastardly character. Always out for himself and with a keen eye for personal profit, Conrad Monk is the type of person I shouldn't approve of at all. However, in following his journey across the country, I found myself willing him to escape each life-threatening situation.

Having recently watched the TV adaptation of The Last Kingdom which is set in the same period of Viking invasion, I was familiar with the main real characters and the general historic narrative. I think even if I hadn't been though, Albert gives enough detail to easily understand what is going on in the wider country. I recognised genuine people such as Ivarr and Ubba, King Aethelred and his younger brother Alfred. Conrad and his much put-upon companion, Brother Odo, are of course completely fictional, but the places they visit on their travels are real so I was interested to read Albert's brief essay explaining some of his inspirations. This novel is an entertaining mix of laugh-out-loud slapstick and deviously clever plotting. A delight to read!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Edoardo Albert / Historical fiction / Books from England

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Eight Goodbyes by Christine Brae + #Giveaway + Excerpt


Eight Goodbyes by Christine Brae
Published in America by Vesuvian Books yesterday, the 28th August 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon

Add Eight Goodbyes to your Goodreads

One universe, nine planets, 204 countries, 809 islands and 7 seas, and I had the privilege of meeting you.” –Unknown

When Tessa Talman meets Simon Fremont for the first time, not only is she attracted to him, she’s intrigued by how different their lives are. He’s a dedicated scientist, practical, pragmatic, and grounded—while she’s a head-in-the-clouds romance author. As their relationship grows, they agree to meet in places around the world, while continuing to live on opposite sides of the globe.

Though their feelings for each other deepen, their priorities remain the same. Simon is in a hurry to be financially sound and settle down, but Tessa is enjoying her freedom and newfound success. Neither is willing to give in, but as each goodbye gets harder, Tessa begins to wonder whether fame is the path to happiness, or if she has everything she needs in Simon.

Just as Tessa finds the courage to go after her own happily ever after, the unthinkable happens, separating them in ways they never imagined.

To move forward, she must let go of the past, and determine once and for all if love is truly more powerful than the pain of goodbye.




Excerpt

“Who knows you're here?” she asked.
“You mean, specifically here? In Hong Kong?”
She nodded.
“No one. My family and friends think I'm traveling for work.”
“Ah. So if anything happened to you, how do they know where to look?” she asked, her chin resting on the palm of her hand.
“Well, when they find my phone and the one thousand pictures of you, they’ll know,” he said.
She laughed. Rather uncomfortably. This is what having an affair feels like. It’s you and him and no one else.
“Adrian doesn’t know I’m here.” This time he leaned forward, closer to her.  “Does Riley know you're here?”
“She has to. Even if I don't tell her directly, Jake knows. He's very protective that way. Needs to know where I go, who I’m with.”
“You seem so attached, the two of you.”
“He's the only constant in my life."
He stayed silent. She hadn’t intended to offend him with that comment. But then she decided that it was too soon to even think of his role in her life.
That was the real crux of the matter, and she wanted to keep it top of mind.
What about you, your parents? Do you see them often while you're home?”
He laughed. “As a matter of fact, I have dinner with them every Sunday. They don’t live far from my old apartment. I'm moving to Chelsea when I get back which is a little further away, but I know my mum will find every excuse to come and visit. I'll be too close to the shopping area for her to resist. She likes to get out sometimes. Leave the farm.”
“We're lucky we have family we can count on,” she said.
“But none of them know we're together,” he said, his tone lowered, quiet.
“Why does anyone need to know? Who cares?” she asked in defiance.   She observed the way he picked up another dumpling with his chopsticks and shoved the whole thing in his mouth. “Okay, let me rephrase that,” she said. “In time, they’ll know.”
He smiled. “Better.”
He looked at his watch. She could tell that he wanted to change the subject. And she didn't have to try. A round of applause filled the room. Tessa and Simon turned to see a man on one knee with his arms in the air, proposing to a very embarrassed woman.
“At a dimsum restaurant?” Simon smirked.
“Hey! You'll never know! Maybe this is a special place for them,” Tessa said.
“Must be,” he answered, pulling his wallet out at the same time. He motioned for the dimsum man to bring the check over.
The man counted the different colored plates, each with a code for the food they ordered, wrote with lightning speed on a pad of paper, tore it off unevenly and handed it to Simon.
As he examined the bill, Simon said, “I forgot that your Twitter profile says 'hopeless romantic.'“
“Love makes the world go ‘round!” she said in response, pausing to follow up with an afterthought. “At least in Romance books!”

Meet the Author 

Christine Brae is a full time career woman who thought she could write a book about her life and then run away as far as possible from it. She never imagined that her words would touch the hearts of so many women with the same story to tell. Her second book, His Wounded Light was released in December, 2013.

Christine’s third book, Insipid, is a standalone that was released in June, 2014, and her fourth book, In This Life, released in January 2016.

When not listening to the voices in her head or spending late nights at the office, Christine can be seen shopping for shoes and purses, running a half marathon or spending time with her husband and three children in Chicago.

Christine is represented by Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo Helin Literary Management.

Author links:
Website ~ Facebook ~ TwitterGoodreads

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

This prize is a $20 Amazon Gift Card
Open internationally until September 6th

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Christine Brae / Romance fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Gravediggers' Bread by Frederic Dard


The Gravediggers' Bread by Frederic Dard
First published in French by Fleuve Editions as Le Pain des fossoyeurs in France in 1956. English language translation by Melanie Florence published by Pushkin Press on the 28th June 2018.

One of my August Authorfest reads

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones
Amazon

Blaise should never have hung around in that charmless little provincial town. The job offer that attracted him the first place had failed to materialize. He should have got on the first train back to Paris, but Fate decided otherwise.

A chance encounter with a beautiful blonde in the town post-office and Blaise is hooked - he realizes he'll do anything to stay by her side, and soon finds himself working for her husband, a funeral director. But the tension in this strange love triangle begins to mount, and eventually results in a highly unorthodox burial...

I read The Gravediggers' Bread in its newly republished Pushkin Press translation. The story is a cleverly and believably plotted noir crime mystery which reminded me of similar genre novels by Pascal Garnier. I think Garnier fans, such as myself, would enjoy Frederic Dard books and vice versa. It's a very French novel and I loved its sense of style. The Gravediggers' Bread was originally written in the 1950s however and certain attitudes are very different today to those popularly held sixty years ago. A husband regularly beating his wife is no longer 'understandable' and we no longer believe a man just has to rape a woman to make her realise that she desired him all along. I was able to chalk these aspects up to outdated beliefs and read past them in this case. Had a modern-day novel so brazenly espoused such ideas though, I would be spitting feathers!

I loved Dard's evocation of place especially the claustrophobic funeral house with its nauseating decor. Our 'hero', Blaise isn't particularly likeable as a person, but I did like the portrayal of his character and could understand his actions even as I was willing the arrogant bastard to fail! His unfortunate love interest (more lust interest actually, given the speed of his declaration) is beautifully underplayed. For most of the novel I was frustrated at her 1950s housewife passivity, but I am now wondering how much of Germaine's role was what I expected to see. The narrative had me sympathising with each of the lead characters in turn which I didn't initially expect as a possibility. The minimal police involvement makes The Gravediggers' Bread more of a dark menage a trois than a police procedural or sleuth novel so it felt unusual for the crime genre. I think it could make a brilliantly tense stage play too.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Frederic Dard / Crime fiction / Books from France

Monday, 27 August 2018

The Danes by Clarke


The Danes by Clarke
First published in French as Les Danois by Le Lombard in France in January 2018. English language translation by Edward Gauvin published by Europe Comics in June 2018.

One of my August Authorfest reads

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

Europe Comics
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon (only in French)

When an Aryan baby is born to a Muslim woman living in Copenhagen, her husband’s family shuns her. But DNA tests prove Sorraya’s fidelity. And she is just the first in what soon becomes a rash of similar cases across Europe, threatening widespread social change even as they ignite passions in immigrant communities and incite familiar racial hatreds. What mysterious conspiracy connects a retrovirus, a young slacker biogeneticist, a former punkette, a dogged reporter, and pharmaceutical giant Keoxis? Clarke delivers a contemplative slice of near-future science fiction paced like a thriller but full of probing questions about our prejudices.

I've been switching between three and four stars for my The Danes rating because, on the one hand, I did really enjoy reading this graphic novel but, on the other hand, the more I think about how it raised its issues, the more uncertain I am about whether I should have enjoyed it. So let's start with the good points! The illustrations are clear and vivid. I loved Clarke's depictions of Copenhagen and I could feel the characters' confusion and anger as the plot progressed. The story itself takes the theme of a virus running rampant across Europe, but turns the familiar idea in a new direction. The thriller side is fast paced and exciting.

On the negative side, there is so much story in this graphic novel that I think it needed to be at least twice as long to do itself justice. We seem to jump from the first few cases of the virus to thousands of cases in just a couple of pages and I felt this took away from The Danes believability. The chaos happens too readily. It needed a longer build-up. There are concurrent storylines, neither of which felt fully realised to me so perhaps concentrating on one or the other would have made for a stronger effect?

The Danes is essentially about racial prejudice and I am sure the author imagined the story as one to promote harmony. However, aspects of it don't reinforce that message, not until the very last frames anyway. Regardless of parentage, the babies are blond and blue-eyed so the virus appears to do away with racism by making everyone white? Also, everyone saving the day is white and male. People of colour are shown rioting and women (except one) mostly hold babies. Erm, really?


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Clarke / Graphic novels / Books from Belgium

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Of Faith And Fidelity by Evan Ostryzniuk


Of Faith And Fidelity by Evan Ostryzniuk
First published in June 2011. Republished by Endeavour Press in December 2016.

One of my August Authorfest reads

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

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones
Amazon

As the papal wars of the Western Schism rage across Europe, a young man takes his first step on the journey of a lifetime. 

Geoffrey Hotspur dreams of knighthood. As an English orphan-squire bonded to the court of Sir John of Gaunt, uncle of the English King Richard II, his prospects are few. An inveterate gambler already deep in debt, young Geoffrey eagerly accepts an invitation to participate in a raid on French lands. However, his plans go awry after a deadly street brawl results in his banishment from court. As further punishment, he is ordered to join a royal commission bound for Florence. 

Accompanied by Jean Lagoustine, a mysterious Frenchman whose intentions towards the young squire are not all they appear to be, the ship upon which they journey is waylaid by corsairs. Barely escaping with their lives, Geoffrey and Jean find themselves forming part of a company of Catalonian crossbowmen en route to enlist with the Roman papal army. The unlikely duo must navigate the war-torn lands of the Patrimony and the intricacies of honour and allegiance. Intrigue and betrayal dominate the war between the two popes, and the young squire's understanding of faith and fidelity are soon challenged. The need to do right inspires Geoffrey to take a personal stake in the outcome of the conflict. With little more than his wits and a sword, the young squire must find a way to fulfill his duty to his lord, to his faith and to himself. 

As the war culminates in an epic final battle for the throne of St. Peter, will Geoffrey find that a knighthood is worth the risk to his honour? 

Oh dear, the second of two DNFs for me this month! I read sixty pages before concluding that I couldn't care less whether Geoffrey ever got to be a Knight. If you like your historical fiction to be lots of brawls and battle action interspersed with underhand political shenanigans, you might well enjoy this novel. Personally I needed far more in the way of character creation in order to distinguish between the large cast. Ostryzniuk switches between each man so quickly that, other than Geoffrey and Jean, I kept failing to remember who was who from one chapter to the next. I also wanted more sense of Ostryzniuk's medieval world. He gives lots of political information and in depth details of a dice game for example, but I felt I was already expected to have a good understanding of this historical period - and I don't!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Evan Ostryzniuk / Historical fiction / Books from Canada

Saturday, 25 August 2018

The Dead Wake Anthology by Ellie Douglas


The Dead Wake Anthology by Ellie Douglas
Self published in December 2017.

Literary Flits Spotlight Giveaway Winner

Where to buy this book:


The Book Depository (unavailable)
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon

Add The Dead Wake Anthology to your Goodreads

Ten utterly gruesome tales, that will disable you.
You won’t know what hit you.
You will from this day forward sleep with one eye open.
Insist that all the lights stay on...always.
You will begin a ritual; checking under your bed, inside the closet and double checking your windows.
Throw into this the sick and twisted and the utterly crazy humor and your stomach will explode.
With some erotica, you’ll be hot and sweaty and won't know which way to run...and you’ll be scared for life.
In the best possible way.


Meet The Author
I’m Ellie Douglas, and like you, I love horror, everything about horror, the goriest and most gruesome of horrors is the ultimate. I can’t get enough. So much so that I write horror. That need to be graphic, and explicit with my horror scenes makes me stand out. I give what I want to read to others, so now they can enjoy a true horror story.

I’m not all about just being graphic, I also build characters that the readers will love and or hate, so they can feel pulled right inside of the story that they are reading. It gives me so much enjoyment when I hear remarks like, ‘You made me want to puke,’ ‘I have nightmares every damned night –thanks,’ and ‘Quentin Tarantino and Steven King made a baby, YOU!’ when I hear comments like that, I know then I’ve succeeded, that also pushes me into writing more and becoming even better.

I’m fun loving, generous and very mysterious. I enjoy spending time with my family, and have four children to keep the horror writing alive. I enjoy helping others and volunteer my services to help Autistic children, I love cosplay and the chance to dress up as a monster, zombie or some other gritty character is fun, oh so much fun.

I love summer, and well…I hate winter. I live in New Zealand and feel often too far away from all the cool stuff going on in the world. I love helping people all the time. I’ve got my hands dipped in a few things, I write books, but I also make professional book covers for other authors, I also create adult coloring books and I have a gambling app that I designed on the apple store :) I’ve always got a project going, be it writing or creating, that is who I am and I love it :)

My ultimate aim is to give back, paying it forward, to constantly better myself and give the audience amazing stories. Let me scare you…

Connect with Ellie
Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Ellie Douglas / Horror fiction / Books from New Zealand

Friday, 24 August 2018

The High Mountains Of Portugal by Yann Martel


The High Mountains Of Portugal by Yann Martel
First published in the UK by Canongate in February 2016.

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon

Lost in Portugal.
Lost to grief.
With nothing but a chimpanzee. 

A man thrown backwards by heartbreak goes in search of an artefact that could unsettle history. A woman carries her husband to a doctor in a suitcase. A Canadian senator begins a new life, in a new country, in the company of a chimp called Odo. From these stories of journeying, of loss and faith, Yann Martel makes a novel unlike any other: moving, profound and magical.

I didn't realise when I started reading The High Mountains Of Portugal that the book isn't a novel. Instead it is three cleverly linked longish short stories that take place at different times over a period of about eighty years. To be honest, I wasn't at all enamoured of the first story! I struggled to get into the bizarre tale and I had limited sympathy for its beleaguered protagonist. Supposedly griefstruck by the deaths of his serving maid lover and their child, I irritatedly thought that perhaps he should have made the effort for them all to be a family while he had the chance rather than clinging to his family's privilege while he could and then making futile gestures too late to matter. Harsh?

The book and I clicked towards the very end of the first story and I thoroughly enjoyed Martel's wild imaginings and the totally unexpected directions his further two narratives take. This would be a good book for fans of oddness and magical realism. I am sure I didn't identify or correctly interpret half the symbolism, but I understood enough to appreciate the layering of these stories. At one level they could be simply mad fairytales. Step back and glance from a different angle though and Martel's ideas are practically leaping over each other in their rush for attention. At times it's almost overwhelming!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Yann Martel / Fantasy fiction / Books from Canada

Thursday, 23 August 2018

The Tale Of The Missing Man by Manzoor Ahtesham


The Tale Of The Missing Man by Manzoor Ahtesham
First published in India in Hindi as Dastan-e Lapata in 1995. English language translation by Ulrike Stark and Jason Grunebaum published by Northwestern University Press on the 15th August 2018.

One of my August Authorfest reads

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

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon

The Tale of the Missing Man (Dastan-e Lapata) is a milestone in Indo-Muslim literature. A refreshingly playful novel, it explores modern Muslim life in the wake of the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. Zamir Ahmad Khan suffers from a mix of alienation, guilt, and postmodern anxiety that defies diagnosis. His wife abandons him to his reflections about his childhood, writing, ill-fated affairs, and his hometown, Bhopal, as he attempts to unravel the lies that brought him to his current state (while weaving new ones).

A novel of a heroic quest gone awry, The Tale of the Missing Man artfully twists the conventions of the Urdu romance, or dastan, tradition, where heroes chase brave exploits that are invariably rewarded by love. The hero of Ahtesham’s tale, living in the fast-changing city of Bhopal during the 1970s and ’80s, suffers an identity crisis of epic proportions: he is lost, missing, and unknown both to himself and to others. The result is a twofold quest in which the fate of protagonist and writer become inextricably and ironically linked. The lost hero sets out in search of himself, while the author goes in search of the lost hero, his fictionalized alter ego.

New York magazine cited the book as one of “the world's best untranslated novels.” In addition to raising important questions about Muslim identity, Ahtesham offers a very funny and thoroughly self-reflective commentary on the modern author’s difficulties in writing autobiography.

Both Ahtesham's original Hindi novel and its English translation have been highly praised so I looked forward to reading this story. Unfortunately, it's not a book I could appreciate and I stopped reading at just over half way through. As when I read A Long Blue Monday, I struggled to have any connection with the first-person narrator. Zamir Ahmad Khan recounts various moments and anecdotes from his life, most of which have a self-pitying tone. Plus there's a vast cast of family and friends to try and remember which was almost impossible when very few of them seem to exist as more than their name. I did enjoy occasional glimpses of Bhopal, the Indian city in which most of The Tale Of The Missing Man is set, but I otherwise I am afraid I was mostly just bored. Disappointing.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Manzoor Ahtesham / Contemporary fiction / Books from India

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Desirable Body by Hubert Haddad


Desirable Body by Hubert Haddad
First published in France in French as Corps desirable by Zulma in 2015. English language translation by Alyson Waters published by Yale University Press yesterday, the 21st August 2018.

One of my August Authorfest reads

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon

A medical mystery/fantasy/love story that delves deeply into the nature of consciousness while raising many of the ethical and existential issues facing scientists today

A contemporary Frankenstein that defies expectations, this is a thrilling novel, couched in luminous, captivating prose about a journalist, Cédric Allyn-Weberson, who suffers a horrific accident, paralyzing him from the neck down. An ideal candidate for a body transplant, Cédric survives the surgery but has both physical and existential trouble with his recovery and adaptation: encountering his lover with a new body, discovering the life history of his donor, and attempting to understand the mind-body relationship as he lives it.

Haddad explores the confusion and insignificance of a single consciousness before experience and identity: What is a head without a body? What or who is a lover with another’s body? The gruesome transplant (detailed in a manner that highlights the author’s own diligent research and comprehension) parallels other ways humanity mutates nature globally; the novel is a provocative and timely allegory—a work of dystopian fantasy.

I'm doing well for Frankenstein retellings this year! The Iraqi tale, Frankenstein In Baghdad, was a great read and I equally enjoyed this Tunisian offering, Desirable Body. I actually chose Desirable Body for its author's nationality (one more for WorldReads!) so the Frankenstein connection was an additional bonus. I felt that Desirable Body stayed closer to the original Mary Shelley story in terms of its prose style and I liked spotting Haddad's frequent nods to Shelley.

At the heart of Desirable Body is the question of what truly determines our identity. To what extent do our physical body and our brain each determine who we are? If you woke up one morning with your own consciousness and face, but another person's body, would you still be You? It's a fascinating idea to explore and one that I liked pondering as I read. Cedric, who is essentially the monster, already has a dual identity because he attempted to disguise his parentage by taking a different name. Now he must also try to understand his existence in a different body.

Haddad's story has an almost fairytale style to it in that I didn't feel I got to know the characters any more deeply than their immediate situation required. The same went for descriptions of individual locales. I had a good sense of each place, but Haddad doesn't divert into florid description, rather he saves his words for the internal dilemmas of his characters. I thought this writing style worked well for what is a fairly short novel. The pace is good throughout, slowing for philosophical discussions, but without too much in the way of scientific lecturing! I hadn't previously known about the 'second brain' theory so appreciated learning about that.

I think Desirable Body is a worthy addition to the Frankenstein-inspired genre as well as a strong tale in its own right. It feels, understandably, almost like vintage science fiction and I think would certainly appeal to fans of the original Frankenstein novel.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Hubert Haddad / Science fiction / Books from Tunisia

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

The Last Plantagenet? by Jennifer C Wilson + Excerpt


The Last Plantagenet? by Jennifer C Wilson
Self published in October 2017.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via Rachel's Random Resources

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository (unavailable)
Wordery (unavailable)
Waterstones (unavailable)
Amazon

Add The Last Plantagenet? to your Goodreads

The fireplace hadn't looked like a time-portal. 

All Kate had wanted was a fun, relaxing day out, watching the knights jousting at Nottingham Castle. What she ended up with was something quite different. 

Transported in a heartbeat from 2011 to 1485, how will Kate handle life at the Ricardian court? Even more importantly, how will she cope when she catches the eye of the king himself?

Kate meets The Last Plantagenet, King Richard III, when an accidental tumble into a medieval fireplace, transports her back into 1485 and the weeks just before Richard will battle against the man who will become Henry Tudor. Through Kate's eyes we get a brief glimpse into Richard's court at Nottingham. This is only a short story so there wasn't as much detail as I would have liked. Kate attends Court dinners for example, but we aren't told what food she eats. However, overall, this is a cute romantic tale that portrays Richard III in a very different light to the usual Shakespearean monster.


Excerpt

The solar was one of the brightest and warmest in the castle, the morning sun flooding the place with natural light, as the limited number of court women began to arrive for the morning. They sat in groups either sewing, talking, or practising their music, having broken their fast in their private chambers. As Kate had feared, the greeting from the other ladies was cool, to say the least. Even in this small group there were factions, and as a newcomer, Kate knew that nobody was completely convinced she could be trusted. Finding herself a spot near a window at the far end of the solar, Kate gathered needle and thread and cast her mind back to the early days of secondary school, and being forced to make a pencil case, an apron, and a host of other things which had gone almost straight into the bin. Trying to remember the stitches, she made an attempt at some cross-stitch, knowing how odd it would look to the other women if she couldn’t produce even simple embroidery. Stabbing at the cloth, and trying not to stab herself, Kate aimed, vaguely, for some sort of memento to take with her, assuming she would be able to carry things. Assuming she would even get home. The thought hadn’t really struck her last night, but what if this was it for her now? What if there wasn’t a way back? Kate shook her head. Whatever might happen in the future, this was where, or when, she was now and she simply had to make the best of what was turning out to be strange but wonderful situation.  

Looking around the group, Kate was painfully aware of how much more at ease she had been with the serving girl Tom had sent to help her. Today though at least, thanks to female assistance, rather than hurried male help, she was in the full regalia of a courtier, albeit a lowly one. The stomacher was pulled tight under her gown, forcing her to sit straight, projecting a confidence Kate certainly didn’t feel. Philippa, it seemed, had dressed half the ladies of the court, and the gossip had flowed thick and fast. At least now, if anyone spoke to her, Kate would be prepared with enough news to fit in.  

Eventually, after an hour of forcing herself to continue to stab away at her needlework, one of the younger ladies joined her.  
“You’re new?” The question came with no preamble.  
“Yes, just arrived yesterday.” Kate felt no need to recount her servant-to-courtier story; she would skip over the servant element for as much as she could get away with.  
“People aren’t so keen on ‘new’ at present, that’s all. I’m Elizabeth, that’s my mother over there,” Elizabeth said, pointing out one of the more finely-dressed ladies. “We’re loyal to King Richard but there are plenty who aren’t. Make sure you know which side you belong to.”  

Meet the author:

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available via Amazon.

Author links: 
Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads




Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Jennifer C Wilson / Short stories / Books from England

Monday, 20 August 2018

Revolutions: Parabola by Mateusz Skutnik


Revolutions: Parabola by Mateusz Skutnik
First published in Polish as Rewolucje: Parabola by Egmont Polska in Poland in March 2004. English language translation by Christopher J Caes published by Europe Comics in May 2018.

One of my August Authorfest reads

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

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon

Technological revolutions are a time of incredible inventions, brilliant minds, and fantastic discoveries. As well as bad inventions, failed experiments, and bizarre ideas. "Revolutions" brings to life a series of alternate histories, and offers inventions so fantastic they could never be brought into existence in our world. Instead, these inventions disappear into oblivion, or transform into something completely other than what their makers intended. A truly "revolutionary" series of graphic novels.

I didn't get what was going on in Revolutions: Parabola at all! I think it's a series of vaguely linked vignettes that start with a man in a tower. By the end of the graphic novel I did understand why he was there, but trying to work out the in-between events just gave me a headache. Perhaps it made more sense in the original Polish? The artwork is very odd too! After several good graphic novels, I think this is my first Miss. Too revolutionary for me!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Mateusz Skutnik / Graphic novels / Books from Poland

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Heidi by Johanna Spyri + #FreeBook + #cake #giveaway


Heidi by Johanna Spyri
First published in two parts in German in 1881. I read the Eileen Hall translation published in 1956.

My 6th read for my Classics Club Challenge

I don't think the trinity of Book, Tea and Cake can be improved upon so I today am delighted to be able to offer a bakerdays cake review and giveaway alongside my book review of the classic children's tale Heidi. bakerdays even did me a special Literary Flits cake - isn't it cute!
If you're in a hurry to get to the bakerdays cake, scroll down now and come back up for the book later!

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my sister

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
   Waterstones
Amazon (free ebook editions)

A young girl's idyllic mountain life in the Swiss Alps Heidi is only five when she goes to live with her grandfather in his hut in the Swiss Alps. Up in the high pastures, she befriends the goatherd Peter and delights in the company of the gentle goats. Everyone is sad when Heidi is taken away to live with a family in Frankfurt. But Heidi's courage and good spirit charm all who meet her. Soon she is able to return to her beloved mountains, sharing her happiness, health and home with all her new-found friends. Heidi was first published in 1881. A classic tale of childhood joys and friendships, it has delighted and inspired generations of children.

When my sister spotted on Facebook that I had signed up for the Classics Club Challenge, she kindly lent me three classics from her bookshelves: The Secret Garden, Heidi and Animal Farm. Of the three, Heidi is intended, I think, for the youngest audience so I swiftly zipped through it in an afternoon and very much enjoyed the read. In common with Black Beauty, which I revisited five years ago, Heidi does rather hector its readership. (Black Beauty lectured against cruelty to animals and Heidi lectures on practicing Christianity) It's still a beautifully inspirational story though and I defy anyone not to want to live in a Swiss mountain cabin after reading it! Fresh mountain air and good companionship are the cures for all ills and being a preternaturally good child will get you your heart's desire in the end.

Spyri obviously had a tremendous love for rural Switzerland and this shines through in her writing. By contrast, the Frankfurt city scenes, while very funny in their clash of cultures and manners, feel claustrophobic. I could easily imagine Heidi's homesickness being so aggravated by the hemmed in streets and walls. This story is utterly charming and the definitive 'heartwarming tale', yet manages to avoid becoming nauseating! I loved the relationships between Heidi and the elderly characters. Age is depicted as synonymous with patience and wisdom whereas younger adult characters are often quite the opposite. All in all, another book well deserving of its Classic status. I just wish I knew what became of the kittens!


I have blogged about bakerdays before and think that their Letterbox cakes are a brilliant idea. Cupcakes and bigger cakes are also available, but I love the thought of a cake that is specifically designed to be posted through a letterbox. Being able to personalise the design with my own text is fun and it's even possible to have your own photograph printed onto the icing. How was this never A Thing before?

My 'Literary Flits' cake arrived thoughtfully packaged in its own little cake tin to ensure its perfect condition. bakerdays offer a variety of recipes including Lemon Drizzle, Chocolate Chip, or gluten wheat free, and I chose the chocolate cake. I've previously tried the Lemon Drizzle and the Dairy-Free and it's practically impossible to decide my favourite! Maybe the chocolate just pipped the others? The cake has a beautiful dark chocolatey colour with a good taste and light, moist texture. There's a layer of chocolaty cream underneath plus the printed royal icing over the top and sides. The icing itself is nicely rich, but not too sweet. Perfect with a good cuppa! And that good book of course!


And now it's time for the Giveaway!


Would you like to win a bakerdays cake for yourself? Well, if your postal address is on the UK mainland ONLY, you're reading the right blog! You could win your choice of bakerdays Letterbox Cake posted directly to you!
There's several ways to enter this giveaway via the Gleam widget below.

bakerdays letterbox cake giveaway

The Giveaway is open until midnight (UK time) on the 2nd September and I will pick a winner on the 3rd. That winner will have 3 days in which to respond to my email or the prize will be forfeit. (GDPR: I will need to pass the winner's email address onto bakerdays and they will need the winner's postal address in order to send out the prize.)

Good luck!

And if you just can't wait for the Giveaway to end, use SUMMER10 at the checkout for 10% off all bakerdays cakes, cupcakes or balloons. Code expires: Friday 31st August at 23:59pm.

I received a cake for review from bakerdays. This has in no way influenced my opinion and all thoughts on the product are my own. Links in this post are affiliate links.





Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Johanna Spyri / Children's fiction / Books from Switzerland