Saturday, 4 April 2020

#WorldReads ~ Five Books From Egypt

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month (or the 4th this month!) I highlight five books I have read by authors from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post as well as finding out how to join in the challenge. From May 2016 until March 2020, WorldReads was hosted on my Stephanie Jane blog. From April 2020 onwards it will be right here on Literary Flits

Click the book titles or cover images to visit their Literary Flits book review pages.

This month we are going to Egypt!

Map Of Love by Ahdaf Soueif

In 1900 Lady Anna Winterbourne travels to Egypt where she falls in love with Sharif, and Egyptian Nationalist utterly committed to his country's cause. A hundred years later, Isabel Parkman, an American divorcee and a descendant of Anna and Sharif, goes to Egypt, taking with her an old family trunk, inside which are found notebooks and journals which reveal Anna and Sharif's secret. 

In The Heart Of Cairo by Mahi Wasfy

When anti-bias educator, Mrs. Magda, becomes the new Theory of Knowledge teacher at the American School in Cairo, she is shocked to discover the ugly truth behind the school’s prestigious reputation. Despite the challenges and hostility she faces, Mrs. Magda is committed to achieving her career goal of transforming the environment at the school and making it truly bicultural. Although the school’s administration hired her to achieve just that, they realize her aspirations might be a bit too ambitious for their liking.

Meanwhile Maha, a senior at the school, just wants to have a drama-free and fun senior year – but gets exactly the opposite. She finds herself caught up in a divine storm where everything in her life goes wrong. Shattered dreams, melodramas, fallouts and love triangles are just a few of the issues she has to battle. Maha doesn’t know if she can handle the pressure and risks losing herself in her efforts not to be the class misfit.

Dilemma by Baheya Zeitoun

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

American War by Omar El Akkad

2074. America's future is Civil War. Sarat's reality is survival. They took her father, they took her home, they told her lies ...

She didn't start this war, but she'll end it.

Omar El Akkad’s powerful debut novel imagines a dystopian future: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague and one family caught deep in the middle. In American War, we’re asked to consider what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons against itself.

The Greater Freedom by Alya Mooro

In this rallying cry to outsiders everywhere, Alya Mooro makes her peace with not fitting in.

Egyptian-born and London-raised, Alya Mooro grew up between two cultures and felt a pull from both. Where could she turn for advice and inspiration when it seemed there was nobody else like her? Today, Mooro is determined to explore and explode the myth that she must identify either as ‘Western’ or as one of almost 400 million other ‘Arabs’ across the Middle East.

Through countless interviews and meticulous research, as well as her own unique experience, Mooro gives voice to the Middle Eastern women who, like her, don’t fit the mould. Women under pressure to conform to society’s ideals of how a woman should look and behave, what she should want and be. Women who want to think and act and love freely, without feeling that every choice means ‘picking a side’. Women who are two things at once and, consequently, neither.

Part memoir, part social exploration, this is a book for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

That's it for April's WorldReads from Egypt. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Egyptian-authored books!

If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited'

Africa: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, United States of America,

Asia: China, India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Syria, Turkey

Australasia: Australia, New Zealand,

Europe: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales

In May I will be highlighting five books by Rwandan authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!

Friday, 3 April 2020

To The Lake by Kapka Kassabova

To The Lake by Kapka Kassabova
Published by Granta Books on the 6th February 2020.

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. Two vast lakes joined by underground rivers. Two lakes that seem to hold both the turbulent memories of the region's past, and the secret of its enduring allure. Two lakes that have played a central role in Kapka Kassabova's maternal family. 

As she journeys to her grandmother's place of origin, Kassabova encounters a civilisational crossroads. The Lakes are set within the mountainous borderlands of North Macedonia, Albania and Greece, and crowned by the old Roman road, the via Egnatia. Once a trading and spiritual nexus of the southern Balkans, this lake region remains one of Eurasia's most culturally diverse areas. Meanwhile, with their remote rock churches, changeable currents, and large population of migratory birds, the Lakes live in their own time. 

By exploring on water and land the stories of poets, fishermen, and caretakers, misfits, rulers, and inheritors of war and exile, Kassabova uncovers the human history shaped by the Lakes. Setting out to resolve her own ancestral legacy of the Lakes, Kassabova's journey unfolds to a deeper enquiry into how geography and politics imprint themselves upon families and nations, and confronts her with questions about human suffering and the capacity for change.

I nearly didn't choose to download a review copy of To The Lake from NetGalley because I wasn't sure whether this would be a book I would enjoy or not. The cover image didn't particularly inspire me and I hadn't previously heard of Kapka Kassabova so it was only the fact of her Bulgarian nationality giving me another WorldReads box tick that swung my decision. Thank goodness it did! To The Lake is a wonderfully informative memoir and I loved Kassabova's prose style so much that two more of her books have already found their was on to my To Be Read list!

To The Lake is written from the point of view of Kassabova's journey to a historic hub of Balkan (and beyond) civilisation which also happens to have been her formidable grandmother's home. Kassabova wants to understand herself in the context of her maternal family line as she sees herself repeating their wandering behavioural traits. In doing so she also learns and shares the history and culture of the remarkable Lakes, Ohrid and Prespa.

I was completely hooked by To The Lake from start to finish which is quite an achievement for a nonfiction book. I frequently found myself wishing to travel in Kassabova's footsteps and visit this fascinating place for myself, albeit I know that my experience there would sadly bear no relation to hers - my lack of knowledge any of the Balkan languages being the first rather high hurdle. She makes the Lakes sound so beautiful and I loved every moment of learning their history. Lake Ohrid is currently on the border of three independent nations, but the land barriers have been changing for hundreds - or probably thousands - of years as succeeding empires have risen and waned. Roman, Greek, Ottoman and Soviet cultures have all left their marks, as have numerous religions some of which are still practiced, others of which have been lost or blended together. For Kassabova to have such an intensely personal connection to this place gives her real insights into the makeup of the people who live here.

To The Lake is a dense book of information and if I thought I had managed to retain a tenth of what I was told from this first reading, I would be delighted! What I loved though was that Kassabova's engaging prose didn't leave me feeling like I was studying a history text. She truly brings these villages to life so I could envisage the Albanian family escaping at the dead of night in a tiny boat; the ancient painted Christian saints with their gouged eyes; the prim women who didn't dare walk down a street twice on the same day. This is a wonderful read which I think should find an appreciative audience beyond just memoir or travelogue readers. If the current lockdown has you feeling somewhat claustrophobic and you enjoy travelling in books, I'd highly recommend giving To The Lake your attention.

Etsy Find!
by Aquarius Art Gallery in
Dublin, Ireland

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Kapka Kassabova / Biography and memoir / Books from Bulgaria

Thursday, 2 April 2020

A Month In Books ~ March 2020

Welcome to March's Month In Books roundup - on Literary Flits for the first time!
It's certainly been a weird month, hasn't it?! Fingers crossed you're all keeping safe wherever you are and have been able to escape into a good book from time to time.

I have linked up with Nicole's WrapUpRoundUp over at Feed Your Fiction Addiction.

Regular blog series:
In March I blogged my last Reading Challenge update on Stephanie Jane. I don't think I'll continue that over here because my Reading Challenges Page is always available. WorldReads from Malaysia (on the 5th) was the last Bookish post on Stephanie Jane, so now all these types of posts are migrating to Literary Flits:
I'm still (grrrr!) 5 NetGalleys behind on State of the ARC because I've been dealing with The World by mood reading rather than by-the-dates reading. March's Cover Characteristics collection featured Hot Drinks and my 5 Books, 1 Theme quintet were all Virus Outbreak books (sorry, couldn't resist!). I also shared my favourite Bookish Etsy Finds.

Now, on with this Reading Roundup!
(Clicking each cover image will take you directly to my Literary Flits review or Spotlight page)

My Reviews

(Click the cover images to visit their reviews)




My Book Of The Month for March changed twice as the month progressed! At first I was sure it would be the wonderful Three Apples Fell From The Sky by Narine Abgaryan, but then The Faerie Tree by Jane Cable was a strong contender, and then I read American War by Omar El Akkad which absolutely blew me away! So American War gets the accolade this month, but all three books are well worth a look

I hope you have found some books to tempt you in this selection! You can keep up with my daily book posts on Literary Flits plus there's now loads of Book Spotlights and Cover Reveals blogged on Stephanie Jane. Don't forget to keep up with my Giveaway Listings too!

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

The Knowing by Brit Lunden + #Giveaway

The Knowing by Brit Lunden
Published in the USA by Chelshire Inc in March 2019.

Bulwark- a wall or stockade that protects or sometimes hides the truth from the outside world. Bulwark, Georgia, isolated, hidden. Who knows what strange things can happen when the rest of the world can't see you? JB Stratton is alone in the world, and all he has left are the memories of his beloved Ellie. Dirt poor JB and wealthy Ellie feel an instant connection that is as intense and primal as the blood red earth of their home. Unseen roots connect them, pulling them into an impossible relationship. Will the memories of past lives help or hinder the path of their love? Based on the original novella Bulwark, by Brit Lunden, The Knowing continues the story of a town isolated from the rest of the world where the impossible becomes plausible, and logic is determined by reality.

At the heart of The Knowing is a lovely opposites attract romance. I loved how Lunden has JB as an elderly man remembering important moments in his life with Ellie - their first meeting at school when Ellie's family move to Bulwark, the start of their fledgling relationship, and the events which drove them apart. I got such a strong sense of his love for Ellie and, indeed, of her love for him. This central theme shines through the swirl of weirdness which surrounds Bulwark - a lamp burning in the mists!

I was fascinated, but also frequently bewildered by the oddness in this novella. The title, The Knowing, is an apt description for JB and Ellie's sense of belonging together - they just know this is right - but it is also confusing for this reader looking in as there was so much I didn't know or understand! What was the puddle's source? Who was in the car? What's the reason for that time jump? I'm not used to fictional stories deliberately Not answering so many questions so this aspect of Lunden's writing quite compelling and unusual. I have another of the Bulwark novellas to read sooon so perhaps the town's mysteries might become clearer?

Meet the author:
Brit Lunden is a prolific author who’s written over 50 books in assorted genres under different pen names. Bulwark was her first effort in adult fiction and was chosen by several of her fellow authors as the basis for a new series, A Bulwark Anthology. Using her characters, they are creating new denizens in spin-off stories to this bizarre town. Brit Lunden lives on Long Island in a house full of helpful ghosts.

Connect with the author:
Website  ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!  

Win 1 of 5 print or 1 of 5 ebook of Brit Lunden's BULWARK Anthology books, or a $100 Amazon Gift Card
(open USA) (11 winners) (ends May 8)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Etsy Find!
by Bohemiart in
Wisconsin, USA

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Brit Lunden / Horror fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

A Question Of Country by Sue Parritt

A Question Of Country by Sue Parritt
Published by Magnus Opus on the 30th March 2020.

A Question of Country
On Christmas Eve 1969, a letter from Australia House, London, brings welcome news for newly-weds Anna and Joseph Fletcher.
Young and idealistic, Anna falls passionately in love with their adopted land. Seven months later, an unexpected event causes their life to take a stressful turn.
Years pass, and Anna retreats to a fictional world she has created. But when a different challenge presents itself, does she have the courage to take the risk… or will she take refuge in fantasy?

Meet the author 

Originally from England, Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories, articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and seven novels:

Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2014.  Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016.  Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2016. The Sky Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.

Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017

Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

Feed Thy Enemy, based on Sue’s father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.

A Question of Country explores the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity. Next Chapter (formerly Creativia Publishing), 2020.

Sue’s current project, working title: Twenty-eight Days, first in The Doorkeeper series, is set in Southern Australia in 2100. It deals with overpopulation and extended life expectancy in an increasingly climate-challenged world and the inhumane solutions adopted by a government determined to rid Australia of unproductive citizens.

Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism.  Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.

Author links: 

Etsy Find!
by VP Company in
Arizona, USA

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Sue Parrit / Historical fiction / Books from England