Friday 30 September 2016

On The Road by Jack Kerouac


On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Originally published in 1957.
Audible Studios audiobook edition published in January 2006.

Featured in 5Books1Theme: Road Trip

How I got this book:
Purchased from Audible

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


'Sal Paradise, a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty, a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of beat, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac's exhilarating novel swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion. One of the most influential and important novels of the 20th century, On the Road is the book that launched the beat generation and remains the bible of that literary movement.'

It took me a while to get into On The Road. I had the audiobook version read by Matt Dillon who did a great job and, I thought, had the perfect voice for Kerouac's writing style. I found the characters all basically unlikeable to begin with and it wasn't until around the middle of the story that this started to change and I began to understand and empathise with their journey and motivations. Even then, it was the wildly dysfunctional Dean that I thought was most sympathetic and I never really pinned down Sal. The descriptions of America and Mexico throughout are detailed and, purely as a portrait of a time and place, this is a fascinating book.

Etsy Find!

Kerouac quote passport cover 
by Destination Handmade in 
Texas, USA

Click pic to visit Etsy shop


Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Jack Kerouac / Audiobooks / Books from America

Sunday 25 September 2016

Paper Towns by John Green


Paper Towns by John Green
Published in October 2008 by Dutton Books. Film version released in July 2015.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Purchased the ebook

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I felt ominously lurgified when choosing the YA novel Paper Towns as the easiest read of the selection on our Kindle. Set in Orlando, Florida, the novel tells of a group of High School students during the few weeks prior to their graduation. One girl, Margo, mysteriously disappears leaving her besotted childhood friend Q going to ever more bizarre lengths to find her.

The main strength of Paper Towns is in its depiction of the relationship between Q and his two best friends Ben and Radar. I thought this trio were very realistic and fun to read about. Their dialogue actually got me laughing out loud several times. By contrast, the female characters seemed more stereotypical and the continual emphasis on their appearances was irritating. All the students are also remarkably affluent - $100s of dollars are spent without any of them appearing to have jobs! I did like the descriptions of the 'paper towns' that were planned but never came into existence. There are a lot of these houseless plots in Spain so reading about the American version was topical for me.

Paper Towns is an ok light read but I found it difficult to buy into the main premise that Q would go to so much trouble for a girl who has basically ignored him for the best part of a decade. We are told he idolises her but, for me, his potentially jeopardising a college future that is fantastically important to him purely for the sake of a one-night madcap adventure was stretching credibility too far. I also missed out on much of the poetical theorising having not read the Whitman poem that was analysed. I've not read any of his poems and am starting to think I must get a collection to browse through - he is namedropped so often in American literature! Anyway, having got through the whole novel in an afternoon, the writing is indeed easy on the brain and there are some great humorous moments that took my mind off feeling poorly. Love the beer sword! However, the time-sensitive ending is too contrived - perhaps written with one eye on a film script - and I didn't like the last scene at all.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by John Green / Young adult / Books from America

Friday 23 September 2016

Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
First published in America by the Penguin Group in 2011.

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Barbed Wire
I registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Bought from a charity shop

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.
Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?'

The first journey Dave and I made together was to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and while there we visited the former NKVD headquarters so I already had some idea of the horrific suffering inflicted on the Lithuanian people during Stalin's years of power. Reading Between Shades Of Gray reminded of that visit and also provided a vivid recounting of those people's experiences during the 1940s and 1950s. On one hand this book is an easy read. It was originally intended for a young adult audience so the prose is relatively simple and moves along at a swift pace. On the other hand, the stark writing and unadorned, matter-of-fact tone serve to intensify what Lina and her family are forced to endure. I was frequently emotionally moved by the deportees' strength of mind, their courage in such overwhelming conditions and their incredible resilience.

Sepetys has based this fictional tale on many first-hand accounts by survivors so, while it is not actually a true story, the events described are essentially what really happened. To realise that this experience of vicious exile was common to thousands and thousands of people, many of whom never returned, is sobering and I still don't understand how, as humans, we can continually be so cruel to each other. I see the same hateful paranoia today directed towards 'other' peoples. It would be great to read Between Shades Of Gray solely as historical fiction and be relieved that this kind of violent discrimination no longer occurs in our world. Perhaps one day that might be possible?


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Ruta Sepetys / Young adult books / Books from America

Wednesday 21 September 2016

The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander + Giveaway


The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander
First published by Tenderfoot in June 2014.

How I got this book:
Received a copy from its publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


'In 1688, torn by rebellions, England lives under the threat of a Dutch invasion. Redheaded Calumny Spinks is the lowliest man in an Essex backwater: half-French and still unapprenticed at seventeen, yet he dreams of wealth and title. When his father's violent past resurfaces, Cal's desperation leads him to become a coffee racketeer. He has just three months to pay off a blackmailer and save his father s life - but his ambition and talent for mimicry pull him into a conspiracy against the King himself. Cal's journey takes him from the tough life of Huguenot silk weavers to the vicious intrigues at Court. As the illicit trader Benjamin de Corvis and his controlling daughter Emilia pull him into their plots, and his lover Violet Fintry is threatened by impending war, Cal is forced to choose between his conscience and his dream of becoming Mister Calumny Spinks.'

I was attracted to The Bitter Trade by its historical setting. The seventeenth century was an exciting period in English history, and one which I don't yet know much about. Alexander has created a wily young hero with a great turn of phrase, given him the improbable name of Calumny Spinks, and let him loose on unsuspecting 1680s London. Lots of story threads are entwined and tangled throughout the long novel and I did often find it difficult to keep track of all the subterfuges. Perhaps a case of too many competing ideas?
 Calumny is a fun character to spend time with although other characters aren't so convincingly portrayed, but I did like Abigail, Ty and Garric, and also Calumny's father Peter. The descriptions of places, clothes, attitudes and behaviours are wonderfully vivid, however, and provide a fabulous and wee-researched portrait of the city at that time. I liked being able to imagine the closed world of the coffee houses, the claustrophobic and loud weaving sheds, and the army barracks. Overall, The Bitter Trade is a scheming romp of a novel which does a great job of entertaining its readers.


And now for the Giveaway!

I was fortunate to receive a brand new paperback copy of The Bitter Trade from The Pigeonhole recently and that is going to be my Giveaway prize for this week. The company also sent some delicious coffee which I have reviewed on Stephanie Jane today.

'The Pigeonhole is the global book club in your pocket A book was once the best means of mass communication; now it is the phone. But there is no longer a need to choose between the two. The Pigeonhole is at the forefront of a new era of mobile reading, launching our titles in bite-sized instalments, or staves, designed to fit into any reader’s life.
All our books, from classics to new releases, are Pigeon-picked by a team of industry-trained professionals. Each serialisation is accompanied by bonus content – from interviews with the author to audio staves, playlists and photographs. Meet real-time with the author and other readers inside the book, or set up a private book club to read and discuss with friends and family.
Launched in September 2014, The Pigeonhole has already been nominated for the Digital Innovation Awards at the London Book Fair, and its founding editor Anna Jean Hughes was named as a Rising Star of the publishing industry by The Bookseller magazine.'

The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander Giveaway

The Giveaway is open worldwide. Entries must be submitted through the Gleam widget by midnight (UK time) on the 28th September and I will randomly pick a winner on the 29th. If the winner does not respond to my email within 7 days, they will forfeit the prize and, yes, I will be checking that entrants did complete whatever task they said they did.

Good luck!

Etsy Find!
by The Wee Woodturning Co in
Coventry, England

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop


Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Piers Alexander / Historical fiction / Books from England

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah


Chinese Cinderella: The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah
First published by Delacorte Press in September 1999. The book is part of Yen Mah's biography Falling Leaves, republished in abridged form for a younger audience.

One of my WorldReads from China

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Bought from a charity shop

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'A riveting memoir of a girl's painful coming-of-age in a wealthy Chinese family during the 1940s.
A Chinese proverb says, "Falling leaves return to their roots." In Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah returns to her roots to tell the story of her painful childhood and her ultimate triumph and courage in the face of despair. Adeline's affluent, powerful family considers her bad luck after her mother dies giving birth to her. Life does not get any easier when her father remarries. She and her siblings are subjected to the disdain of her stepmother, while her stepbrother and stepsister are spoiled. Although Adeline wins prizes at school, they are not enough to compensate for what she really yearns for -- the love and understanding of her family.'

I read Chinese Cinderella in September 2013 and this is another of my recently rediscovered and unblogged mini book reviews. I remember that I left the book on a Hailsham park bench for Bookcrossing. I wonder where it has got to now?

Chinese Cinderella is an interesting glimpse into the life of a Chinese girl from a wealthy family living in Tianjin and Shanghai in the 1940s. The book is a Puffin and intended for a younger audience so does not go into great depth about the political and social situation in China at the time although there is an overview at the end. It is more concerned with scenes from Adeline's early life with which older children could identify. The book was very quick to read and has encouraged me to look out for the 'adult' version of Adeline's autobiography, Falling Leaves.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Adeline Yen Mah / Biography and memoir / Books from China

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Not The End by Kate Vane + Giveaway


Not the End by Kate Vane
Published in February 2014.
One of my Top Ten Books for IndiePrideDay 2016.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the ebook from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

How I got this book:
Received a copy from the author in return for an honest review.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'There’s a summer heatwave in Dormouth, the Devon seaside town and former home of the artist Hugh Bonnington. No one pays much attention to octogenarian sea swimmer Maud Smith, recently arrived from Portugal. But when she drowns and her body is washed up on the beach, she changes the lives of three people she never met. Brenda, insomniac dog walker, finds Maud’s body and loses a husband. Jim, reluctant heir hunter and committed birdwatcher, thinks he’s found love, if he can only escape London. Philosopher-drunk Neil, the cemetery manager, plans Maud’s funeral then finds that art has a funny way of interfering with life. With wry humour and sharp observation, Not the End is a contemporary novel about love, loss and the therapeutic possibilities of knitting.'

Although the focus of Literary Flits is world literature, I am also trying to include occasional books written by authors from our new home county of Devon. Kate Vane is one such author.

Not The End is set in a generic coastal Devon town which is an amalgam of such seaside resorts. At the time of reading   I had not been to that part of the world since childhood holidays, but could easily picture the scenes thanks to Kate Vane's atmospheric descriptions. We follow the experiences of a trio of strangers whose lives intersect following the discovery on the beach by one, Brenda, of an elderly woman who drowned.

I loved Vane's creation of her characters. Each of the leads are very real, as are their friends, co-workers and families. It is not easy to maintain strong characters with such a large cast of faces to keep track of, but Vane does a great job. Even in chapters where it could be a page or more before significant names are mentioned, I found I always knew whose story I was reading. Brenda's story is particularly poignant and I was willing her to stand up to the ghastly Paula. I also liked Teri as I could picture someone with whom I have worked who was just like that!

There is a lot of gentle humour in Not The End and some wonderfully witty digs too. Vane's sharp observations of people's behaviour raised several giggles from me. The confidence of the weatherman was one such instance and I would love to know which real cafe the wonderfully child-UNfriendly one is based on. Wicked of me to say so, but it sounds like just our sort of place! I enjoyed the time I spent in Dormouth and would be happy to return there should a second novel be written.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Kate Vane / Humour and satire / Books from England


And now for the Giveaway!

This week I am giving away an ebook copy of Not The End by way of a gift card for its cost from either Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. There's lots of different ways to enter and they'll be tracked by the Gleam widget just below


Not The End by Kate Vane Giveaway


The Giveaway is open worldwide but please make sure you can use an Amazon gift card! Entries must be submitted through the Gleam widget by midnight (UK time) on the 21st September and I will randomly pick a winner on the 22nd. The winner can choose from which Amazon site they would like their gift card - I think I can buy this from any of the international sites as long as I can understand the instruction language! If the winner does not respond within 7 days, they will forfeit the prize.

Good luck!

This Giveaway is listed in the Beck Valley Books Giveaway And Sweeps Linkup


Tuesday 13 September 2016

About The Night by Anat Talshir


About The Night by Anat Talshir
First published in Hebrew as Im Eshkahekh by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir in Israel in 2010. English translation by Evan Fallenberg published by AmazonCrossing in 2016.

One of my WorldReads from Israel

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the ebook from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Received a copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'On a hot summer day in 1947, on a grandstand overlooking Jerusalem, Elias and Lila fall deeply, irrevocably in love. Tragically, they come from two different worlds. Elias is a Christian Arab living on the eastern side of the newly divided city, and Lila is a Jew living on the western side. A growing conflict between their cultures casts a heavy shadow over the region and their burgeoning relationship. Between them lie not only a wall of stone and barbed wire but also the bitter enmity of two nations at war. Told in the voice of Elias as he looks back upon the long years of his life, About the Night is a timely story of how hope can nourish us, loss can devastate us, and love can carry us beyond the boundaries that hold human beings apart.'

I was surprised in reading About The Night by similarities to another recent read of mine, The Memory Of Love by Aminatta Forna. Both are intense love stories whose male protagonist is named Elias - Elias Riani here, Elias Cole in The Memory Of Love - who tells of his love from a hospital bed looking back across the years. Both are set in countries at war - Israel and Sierra Leone. Both have a dual timeline of then and now, and I thought both were absolutely beautiful to read.

About The Night is seared through with a heartbreaking melancholy which, at one point, is identified with the Turkish huzun from Istanbul. It is a novel of tremendous passion and deep emotion with our doomed lovers, Elias and Lila, stranded within a quarter mile of each other, but possibly eternally separated by the whims of unknown men who arbitrarily divide their city, Jerusalem, in 1947. (Yes, that would be us British with the guns, again.) I loved the literary writing and detailed evocation of Jewish and Arabic life especially descriptions of seemingly mundane acts such as tea making rituals which take on greater meaning as the story progresses. Talshir writes wonderfully human characters who are completely believable in their extreme circumstances. Weak Elias and strong Lila, isolated Nomi and bitter Margo, and the ever stroppy Monsieur Hubron. I did occasionally find myself confused as to which time period I was in, but generally the jumps were were fluid and the violence throughout Israel's short existence provides a shocking counterpoint to the gentle pace and prose of the book.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Anat Talshir / Contemporary fiction / Books from Israel

Saturday 10 September 2016

Ghosts Of Tsavo by Vered Ehsani + Free book


Ghosts of Tsavo by Vered Ehsani
Published on February 14th 2014.

One of my WorldReads from South Africa.

Ghosts Of Tsavo is the first in the Society Of Paranormals series. It's free alone as an ebook, but I've learned of an excellent special offer on a boxset of the first four books right now. The boxset is just 99c / 99p on Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Smashwords until midnight tonight (no idea whose time zone!). Hurry!

Where to buy this book:



How I got this book:
Received a free copy from Vered Ehsani as a reward for signing up to her email newsletter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Where African myth meets Victorian manners: Armed with Victorian etiquette, a fully loaded walking stick and a dead husband, Beatrice Knight arrives in colonial Kenya desperate for a pot of tea and a pinch of cinnamon. But she’ll need more than that if she’s to unravel the mystery of the Ghosts of Tsavo without being eaten in the process. She must endure all manner of inconveniences while surviving the machinations of her best friend’s dashing godfather and the efforts of her safari guide to feed her to any lion willing to drag her away. What is a ghost-chasing widow to do?
Ghosts of Tsavo is the first case in “Society for Paranormals”, in which a paranormal detective refuses to let danger, death and unwanted suitors inconvenience her in colonial Kenya. Welcome to a series concerning dead husbands, African mythology and the search for a perfect spot of tea. If you adore “Pride & Prejudice”, appreciate British humor, enjoy paranormal mysteries, or would love to experience adventure in colonial Africa, download Ghosts of Tsavo to start your supernatural safari today.'

This steampunk novel is set in late-Victorian era Nairobi in the days when this city was still just a rough settlement in a swamp. We travel there with English expatriate family the Sewards as they try to make themselves a new life away from the social disaster of their bankruptcy back home. Ehsani has created great characters for this family: the mother who is desperate to maintain her English lifestyle despite its total impracticality, the daughter who seems to see no point in living anywhere without fashionable shops, and the father who may nominally be the head of the family, but who doesn't really stand a chance!

Leading our novel is the formidable Mrs Beatrice Knight, tea drinker, widow and paranormal investigator. I loved her forthright way of thinking and dry sense of humour, especially where Ehsani includes nods to the rigid social rules of the day even as our heroine resolutely ignores them. I frequently found myself smiling and giggling as I read. Historical Nairobi is nicely evoked to give an atmospheric backdrop to the ghostly mystery that occupies Beatrice, however perhaps a little more focus could have been given to the lions themselves as they did seem almost incidental at times. There is so much else going on! I particularly thought the wrapping up of the lion storyline was hasty and would have liked to have learned more about how exactly this would pan out in the future.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Vered Ehsani / Steampunk fiction / Books from South Africa

Friday 9 September 2016

Route Number 11: Argentina, Angels and Alcohol by Harry Whitewolf


Route Number 11: Argentina, Angels and Alcohol by Harry Whitewolf
Self published in June 2013.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy from independent booksellers via Alibris
Buy the ebook from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Took advantage of an Amazon free download promotion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'All alone in Argentina, with only a guardian angel, a broken heart and an abundance of beer for company. With no plans, no time limit, and sometimes no sense, the nameless tourist travels not only around Argentina but also across the borders to Paraguay, Chile and Brazil, through a blur of smoky bars, sexy seƱoritas, backpackers, locals, lucky escapes and magnificent mountains, whilst being guided by signs and the mysterious 11:11 Phenomenon. This true story reads almost like fiction. Told in a tangle of cut up twisted timelines, showing snippets and snapshots with bustling city and small town backdrops, Route Number 11 is a beat driven, beer drinking, Mind Body Spirit book with sex, drugs and reggaeton...'

I wasn't sure what to expect from Route Number 11, but having seen good Goodreads reviews and stumbled across a chance to download Whitewolf's book for free, I did so and enjoyed getting myself caught in his South American escapade. Whitewolf writes in distinctive prose which is frequently actually poetry and I thought this a very effective way to put across his journey. His heavy drinking, chica chasing and bus riding would swiftly have become dull reading in a straight travel memoir, but I found this book to be alive with memories and musings, both travel-related and on a spiritual level. Despite the alcoholic haze, he retained a sharp eye for interesting detail. Reading Route Number 11 over the past couple of days has reawakened my wanderlust in a big way, although whether I would set out alone to South America for as many months as Whitewolf intended to stay I don't know. I was quietly pleased that I understood all his Spanish though! In criticism, perhaps the spiritual aspect of the book was pushed too heavily for my taste. However, too spookily, I had my own 11/11 experience within a few hours of finishing Route Number 11 so maybe this is my cue to become more in tune with the universe.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Harry Whitewolf / Travel books / Books from England

Thursday 8 September 2016

The Memory Of Love by Aminatta Forna


The Memory Of Love by Aminatta Forna
Published by Bloomsbury in December 2010. Winner of the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize Best Book Award, shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2011, the IMPAC 2012 and the 2011 Warwick Prize.

One of my Top Ten Books of 2016.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Borrowed from a friend

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1969. On a hot January evening that he will remember for decades, Elias Cole first catches sight of Saffia Kamara, the wife of a charismatic colleague. He is transfixed. Thirty years later, lying in the capital's hospital, he recalls the desire that drove him to acts of betrayal he has tried to justify ever since. Elsewhere in the hospital, Kai, a gifted young surgeon, is desperately trying to forget the pain of a lost love that torments him as much as the mental scars he still bears from the civil war that has left an entire people with terrible secrets to keep. It falls to a British psychologist, Adrian Lockheart, to help the two survivors, but when he too falls in love, past and present collide with devastating consequences. The Memory of Love is a heartbreaking story of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.'

The Memory Of Love was one of those books that swept me away from start to finish and I loved every minute of reading it. It is a sensitive and romantic novel which switches seamlessly from the 1960s to the present day telling a dual timeline story of Sierra Leone before and after The War. What is most distressing is the bland, matter-of-fact way horrific attacks and injuries are presented to the reader, these events having become normality to the country's population and, at the same time, completely alien to the Western aid workers flooding in to help. This gap in understanding is beautifully portrayed throughout the book. Although The Memory Of Love is quite a long book by my usual standards - at 445 pages - I never once felt myself losing interest or concentration. The characters are wonderfully nuanced and, for better and worse, completely believable as they struggle to survive through extraordinary circumstances. I think this is an amazing piece of writing.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Aminatta Forna / Contemporary fiction / Books from Sierra Leone

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Deadly Ties by Maggie Thom + Giveaway



Deadly Ties by Maggie Thom
Published by Quadessence Solutions in May 2016

Where to buy this book:
Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Barnes and NobleiBooks / Kobo / Smashwords

How I got this book:
I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions below are 100% my own.



'She went to jail for the right reason but the wrong murder.
With her mom in a coma, Kyara is determined to discover who is behind the brutal attack. Does her grandmother’s recent release from jail have anything to do with it? The police believe that some meth addicted youth are responsible but what Kyara uncovers is shocking. Is anyone telling the truth? Even Ryan who she thought might be able to help her is harnessing his own dark secret. Is he truly trying to help her or does he have his own agenda?
The golf course wasn’t built because the sport was gaining in popularity but to hide a deadly secret. Those responsible are determined to keep it buried and those who know anything are being silenced. Kyara finds herself trying to catch an old woman, stay ahead of those trying to kill her and unveil the truth. But can she do it before a town pays the ultimate price?'

Deadly Ties has a tangled plot of family loyalties, power and weath, backstabbing and scheming, and underpinning it all is a three-decades-old scandal of buried industrial waste that poisoned a whole town. A large cast of names each have their own secrets to add to the mix so working out exactly who is telling the truth is quite a feat indeed! Unfortunately the book is let down by convoluted prose and unfocused paragraphs which often made it difficult for me to understand who I was reading about. Poor grammar and punctuation also distort the meanings of sentences which is a shame. Thom has obviously put a lot of effort into creating the overall scenario, however this book needs a strong edit and proofreading to allow the narrative to shine through.


"The plot was intricate and it made me want to finish it quickly so I could discover all the mysteries. There was lots of action, a love story and a good depiction of strong women which I really liked. " 
- C H-Jackson

“A Deep Mystery With Hidden Treachery And Suspense. Maggie Thom is one of the best suspense writers in today’s fiction. Highly recommended.”
- Virginia E. Johnson

"Maggie Thom writes a fast paced thriller laced with romance that keeps the reader interested and on edge!"
- InDtale Magazine

DEadly Ties Quote 1a

About the author

Award winning author, Maggie Thom, grew up in a house full of books and often made weekly trips to the library to get more. Reading was her go to, when it was too cold outside to play. She started experimenting with writing at a young age letting her imagination take her away on many adventures. Maggie has written everything from technical writing, to nonfiction, to fiction for children, youth and adults, along with poems and short stories. She finally settled on her love of puzzles, mysteries and roller coasters and now writes suspense/thrillers that will take you on one heck of a ride. Author of The Caspian Wine Series – Captured Lies and Deceitful Truths with Split Seconds to be out late 2016 – and her other published novel, Tainted Waters (2013 Suspense/Thriller Book of the Year through Turning the Pages Magazine). Her latest novel, Deadly Ties had just been released. 

Her motto: Read to escape… Escape to read…

Find the author on the following sites....



Follow the tour
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NOW FOR THE AUTHOR'S GIVEAWAY


Win a $10 Amazon.com Giftcard or Paypal Cash
(winners choice)
Open Worldwide
Ending on Sunday 25th September at 11.59pm EST

Enter Below and Good Luck !!
a Rafflecopter giveaway





Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Maggie Thom / Thrillers / Books from Canada

Tuesday 6 September 2016

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan


The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
First published by Doubleday in 2012. Won Book Of The Year at the Irish Book Awards in 2012 and the Guardian First Book Award in 2013.

One of my WorldReads from Ireland

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the book from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Swapped in a campsite book exchange

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm glad I didn't allow the over-effusive praise on the cover of The Spinning Heart to put me off reading the novel as I thoroughly enjoyed it and, for a debut author, this is an impressive achievement. The eponymous heart does not refer to that of a lovelorn Irish lass, as might be expected from the presentation, but to a creaking metal heart on the worn gate of a bitter old man, one of the many characters we meet during the course of this story.

Ryan allocates each chapter to a different inhabitant of a small bankrupt town in Ireland. Bobby, Kate, Bridie, Lily and others speak to us directly, with distinctive voices, and as each describes their situation and passes along the latest gossip, we come to understand their sad circumstances. I remember a few years ago seeing a TV documentary which visited an Irish estate where only a couple of the new houses were sold and inhabited, the rest simply decaying around them. The plight of the families trapped in these unsellable homes was disturbing and Ryan explores what led to the phenomenon in The Spinning Heart. I liked the way Ryan intertwines each chapter. He allows enough repetition of facts to quickly establish the relationship of the speaker to other people I had already met. However, he never overdoes this or allows it to slow the pace of the work. The voices sound authentic so I could easily empathise and understand their choices even if I didn't agree with their actions. Perhaps I could have done without the voice of a ghost though.

The Spinning Heart is a quick read at just 156 pages, but packs quite a punch. The colloquial language used enhances the atmosphere and several of the chapters were emotional to read.


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Books by Donal Ryan / Contemporary fiction / Books from Ireland

Monday 5 September 2016

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe


Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Originally published in 1958 by William Heinemann.
Recorded Books audiobook edition, narrated by Peter Francis James, published in 1997.

This is my 1950s read for the 2016-17 Goodreads / Bookcrossing Decade Challenge and I am publishing its review today to coincide with my WorldReads blog series on Stephanie Jane which is highlighting books from Nigeria.

How I got this book:
Audiobook downloaded from AudioSYNC

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


'Okonkwo is the greatest warrior alive and one of the most powerful men of his clan. Determined not to be like his father, he refuses to show weakness to anyone - even if the only way he can master his feelings is with his fists. When outsiders threaten the traditions of his clan, Okonkwo takes violent action. Will the great man's dangerous pride eventually destroy him?'

I approached Achebe's great African trilogy in the wrong order having listened to No Longer At Ease before Things Fall Apart. I think this gave a slightly different perspective on the book as I already knew the story of Okonkwo's grandson and it was interesting to fill in how this family had become estranged. I was surprised that our lead character, Okonkwo, is such an essentially unlikeable man. I wonder if he would have seemed such an anachronism in the 1950s though when attitudes all over the world concerning male supremacy and women's rights were very different.

Achebe writes simply, but cleverly so I began to view customs and superstitions within the village as normal, even ideas such as infant death being caused by evil spirits. This meant that I could then easily understand the anger and offence caused by the incoming missionaries with their radical ideas. There is significant repetition of phrases which made listening to the audio version almost like listening to epic poetry or song. For example, Ezinma is rarely named without also being described as the daughter of Ekwefi so relationships and identities are reinforced in the mind of the reader. Things Fall Apart is a great novel of this time and place and, while I don't think I quite enjoyed it as much as No Longer At Ease, I can certainly see why it has endured as a classic.

Etsy Find!
by Paper Comets in
Texas, USA

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop


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Books by Chinua Achebe / Audiobooks / Books from Nigeria

Sunday 4 September 2016

Words In The Dust by Trent Reedy


Words In The Dust by Trent Reedy 
Published by Arthur A Levine in 2011. Audiobook edition, narrated by Ariana Delawari, published by Scholastic Audio in 2011.

How I got this book:
Audiobook downloaded from AudioSYNC

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


'Zulaikha hopes. She hopes for peace, now that the Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan; a good relationship with her hard stepmother; and one day even to go to school, or to have her cleft palate fixed. Zulaikha knows all will be provided for her "Inshallah," God willing. Then she meets Meena, who offers to teach her the Afghan poetry she taught her late mother. And the Americans come to her village, promising not just new opportunities and dangers, but surgery to fix her face. These changes could mean a whole new life for Zulaikha but can she dare to hope her dreams will come true?'

I will admit to having had preconceptions about Words In The Dust which I am glad to say were completely unfounded. A book about an Afghan girl, written by an American soldier? I expected lots of gungho America-saves-the-day scenes and Western-viewpoint criticism of Afghan life. Instead, I read a detailed and thoughtful novel which manages to be sensitive to both Afghan and American cultures without judging. The minutiae of daily life in such an arid, dusty country is fascinating and I appreciate the extensive research Reedy must have undertaken in order to bring Zulaikha and her family convincingly to life.

In my audiobook edition, Ariana Delawari does a great job of the narration and I liked that common words - salaam (hello), taschakor (thank you), bale (ok) - are spoken in Dari so by the end of my listen, I had learned a little of this Afghan language. (Bale is almost identical in sound and meaning to the Spanish vale - perhaps due to the historic Moorish occupation of Spain? I digress!)

Words In The Dust is a young adult novel, but I rarely felt that it was too young a book for me and I would happily recommend it to adults who would like to discover Afghanistan. There was occasionally too much recapping for my taste, but us grown-ups would definitely be missing out if we assumed this to be just a story for teenagers!

Etsy Find!
by Real People Goods in
Vermont, USA

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Books by Trent Reedy / Young adult books / Books from America

Saturday 3 September 2016

I Wore Heels To The Apocalypse by C H Clepitt


I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse by C.H. Clepitt
Published independently in May 2016


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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is anyone truly prepared for the apocalypse? 

Well, Kerry certainly isn’t, and she fairly quickly discovers that looking sharp in a business suit and heels is not going to help anyone when there’s an apocalypse, with possible zombies!
Together with a super spy, an ex girl guide and a personal trainer with manly foraging skills, Kerry must battle terrifying religious cults, rich people and her personal demons, all whilst having the daily chore of deciding what to wear.

This is a laugh out loud comedy with romance, heart and talking badgers, and is not to be missed.
What would you wear to the apocalypse? #IWoreHeels

I Wore Heels To The Apocalypse tells the story of web designer Kerry who, having dressed snappily for a business interview, then finds herself hopelessly attired for escaping exploding coffee shops and general running away as The Apocalypse takes place all around her. Exasperated at becoming the generic pathetic female, she befriends a talking badger (as you do) and eventually finds that she might have a useful skill or two after all.

I Wore Heels is a whimsical exploration of survival in desperate times. The characters are more caricatures than fully rounded portrayals, but their adventure takes interesting turns and is always entertaining. Personally I would have preferred more background and description and less chat as the dialogue isn't always convincing, but otherwise this is fun escapism - and there's possibly zombies!

Etsy Find!
by The Cake Fairy Crafts in
Weston-Super-Mare, England

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Books by C H Clepitt / indie authors / Books from England