Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Minute Zero by Chris Jayne + #Giveaway

Join us for this tour from Sep 11 to Oct 2, 2020!

Book Details:

Book Title:  Minute Zero (Stronghold Book 1) by Chris Jayne
Category:  Adult Fiction (18 +),  200 pages
Genre:  Thriller, Post Apocalyptic
Publisher:  Inferis Press
Release date:   Sep 11, 2020
Tour dates: Sep 11 to Oct 2, 2020
Content Rating:  Rated PG-13+M for violent scenes and language, but there is no sex.

Book Description:

When the world ends in a heartbeat, suddenly old secrets don’t matter anymore. But new ones still do, and protecting the ones you love is the only thing that still remains.

Two sisters, one a trendy caterer on the run from a vicious killer, the other a country midwife. Because of a simple mistake, Lori Dovner must flee from the vicious mafioso Raoul Saldata, and her life goes from routine day to terrifying journey in a single moment. On the road with her two children, her only goal is to get to her sister’s Montana farm alive. But both Lori and Louise have been hiding a devastating secret for years.

Two brothers, one a Navy Seal on leave, the other a good man who wants to do right by his family. Captain Deacon Hale is taking two weeks to help his brother Roger and his wife Louise on their remote Montana farm. He loved Lori once, but has finally put her behind him. Roger Hale just wants to give his pregnant wife and two young children a good life. He has no idea about the betrayals that have been hidden from him.

Dangerous identity.
Angela Jones is an FBI agent with a terrible debt that she knows she will someday have to pay. And when Raoul Saldata calls in that marker she has no choice but to comply.

Evil incarnate.
Raoul Saldata as a child in Albania, would pretend he was a dhampir, the offspring resulting from the mating between a human female and a vampire. A myth of course, but the evil Saldata practices is anything but. And when he finds Lori Dovner, he intends to do a lot more than just kill her.

MINUTE ZERO (Stronghold: Book One) is an apocalyptic EMP thriller (with a touch of romance) about an ordinary family struggling to stay safe and find each other in the face of insurmountable odds, an abysmal loss of life and the dawn of a new, post-apocalyptic dark age.

BUY THE BOOK: ~ Amazon UKB&N ~ Kobo

Meet the Author:

Could it happen?  Would you survive?

Chris Jayne is author of the apocalyptic EMP series “Stronghold.”

Jayne is also the penname of a USA Today bestselling romance and thriller author who is has started asking “what if?”  What if the lights go off?  What if the food supply chain just… stops?   The world could become an unfriendly place in a hurry.

Three years ago, Chris began exploring the “prepper” lifestyle, and hopes that if TEOTWAWKI would actually happen, she would be in a position to protect her family and loved ones.

She now spends her days splitting her time between her romance writing and her apocalyptic and dystopian fiction novels. Because what's more fun than imagining the end of the world from the comfort of your couch?  And if the end of the world has a few sexy Navy Seals in it?  All the better!

She loves writing stories exploring how ordinary people cope with extraordinary circumstances, especially situations where the normal comforts, conveniences, and rules are stripped away.

Connect with the Author:  website 

Tour Schedule:

Sep 11 – My Fictional Oasis – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 11 - Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 11 - Splashes of Joy – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 14 – FUONLYKNEW – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 15 – Rajiv's Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 15 - – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 16 – GinaRaeMitchell – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 17 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight
Sep 17 - Lisa-Queen of Random – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 18 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 21 – Adventurous Jessy – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 22 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 23 – Sefina Hawke's Books – book spotlight
Sep 24 – My Reading Journeys – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 25 – Books Lattes & Tiaras – book spotlight
Sep 28 – She Just Loves Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 29 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 30 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 1 – Books for Books – book spotlight
Oct 2 – Locks, Hooks And Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 2 - Celticlady's Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway: 
Win a $5 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Chris Jayne, author of MINUTE ZERO (Stronghold Book 1)
(USA only) (ends October 9)

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Chris Jayne / Thrillers / Books from America

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Up from Adams Street by Larry Crane + #Giveaway

Join us for this tour from Sep 14 to Oct 2, 2020!

Book Details:

Book Title:  Up from Adams Street (a memoir) by Larry Crane
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18 +),  229 pages
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher:  Maine Authors Publishing
Release date:   July 2019
Content Rating:  PG-13. Mild mature content. No bad language.

Book Description:

Larry Crane brings the sensibility of the post-World War II generation and a family of modest means to his fresh new novelesque memoir, Up From Adams Street. Born at home, surrounded by a neighborhood of immigrant families that burst out of the confines of Chicago to buy a lot carved out of the corn fields astride the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy rail line. As the confessed family favorite, he had a lot of expectations heaped on his shoulders, along with a sense that he was destined to fulfill that destiny. He realizes that participating in sports is a potential entrée into worlds that seem beyond his little world. Plus, he loves the games. He plays baseball, football and basketball. He caddies at golf courses. As he grows physically, he senses the need to expand mentally and philosophically too. A scholarship helps, then a surprise appointment to West Point follows. At the military academy, he bends to discipline, survives mandatory boxing, battles mighty Notre Dame in basketball, pitches against the legendary Yankees, conquers Mechanics of Fluids, and Calculus, discovers F. Scott Fitzgerald, befriends Red Reeder, falls in and out of love, turns 23, and becomes a man.

Buy the Book: ~ Amazon UK
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Larry Crane spent the 1960s in a military setting, first at school at West Point, and as a lieutenant in Germany. He was an advisor to a Vietnamese ranger battalion in the Central Highlands. He took on a civilian career in brokerage and banking, retiring early to concentrate on writing, producing several full length plays most notable of which is Baghdad on the Wabash. Published fiction includes a thriller,A Bridge to Treachery, a mystery novel Missing Girls: In Truth Is Justice, and an anthology of short plays and stories, Baghdad on the Wabash and Other Plays and Stories. He lives with his wife Jan in splendid isolation on Southport Island, Maine.

connect with the author:  website  ~ twitter facebook pinterest instagram  goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Sep 14 - Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Sep 14 - Bookish Paradise – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 15 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / giveaway
Sep 16 – Rajiv's Reviews – book review
Sep 16 - Jea Reads - book review
Sep 17 – Splashes of Joy – book review / guest post / author interview / giveaway
Sep 21 – Books for Books – book review
Sep 22 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
Sep 23 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Sep 24 – Sefina Hawke's Books – book review
Sep 28 –Adventurous Jessy - book review / giveaway
Sep 29 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 30 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 1 – Pen Possessed – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 2 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 2 – My Fictional Oasis – book review

Enter the Giveaway:
Win 1 of 3 ebooks UP FROM ADAMS STREET or a $25 Amazon Gift Card (4 winners) (open to customers) (ends Oct 9)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Larry Crane / Biography and memoir / Books from America

Monday, 28 September 2020

In Praise of Lilith, Eve & The Serpent in the Garden of Eden & Other Stories by Susan Scott

In Praise of Lilith, Eve & The Serpent in the Garden of Eden & Other Stories by Susan Scott
Published by Olympia on the 30th November 2009.

How I got this book:
Received a copy as a birthday present from my sister

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection of essays is comprised of powerful and compelling stories in which the author deftly shows how the seemingly mundane contains the sacred within.

Susan Scott has been interested in Jungian psychology for many years after her first introduction to the theory of C.G. Jung while doing a post graduate degree in clinical psychology. She was an essential part of The Transvaal Centre for Jungian Studies (a non-profit organization) in the late 1980s and 1990s in Johannesburg and Pretoria as well as part of the first group in South Africa to study Jung through Centerpoint, an organization based in the States whose purpose is to bring Jungian teachings to the wider public. She has lectured on Lilith, Eve & the Serpent in the Garden of Eden to Jungian groups on a few occasions and has also been on radio to a receptive audience. This is her first book. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, is married and has two adult sons. 

I can't remember now where I first heard about Susan Scott's philosophical essay collection, In Praise of Lilith, Eve & The Serpent in the Garden of Eden, but it's a book I had wanted to read for a while so I was delighted when my sister chose to gift it to me from a wishlist selection. Having read and mulled over the essays for several days, it feels even more appropriate to have received this book as a gift, one woman to another. The seven essays range from very personal memoirs to the eponymous Biblical interpretation and I found myself surprised at the extent to which I connected with Scott's experiences.

The first essay, Gardening, describes her process of creating a hidden space within the expansive grounds of her South African home - perhaps a similar concept to A Room Of One's Own! I loathe gardening myself, although I appreciate opportunities to be in garden that other people maintain, but I could understand Scott's ideas around creating this space for herself and the way in which natural and found materials revealed their ideal purpose as the project progressed. Sometimes we need to step back and pause in order to gain awareness of how everything can knit together best.

The final essay, Mount Kilimanjaro, was another which particularly resonated with me as a hiker (although I've never actually climbed a mountain). Scott's memoir of her life-changing guided expedition is powerfully narrated and I loved the way in which she evokes the sights and sounds of Kilimanjaro as well as the sheer determination needed to complete its ascent and descent. This is the sort of walking that really enables a person to get to know themselves. I admire her bravery both in undertaking the expedition and in publishing such a candid account of her experience.

In Praise of Lilith, Eve & The Serpent in the Garden of Eden is actually the third essay in the collection and was a real eye-opener for me. I have spent several days mulling over its new-to-me ideas and have been struggling against feelings of anger and disappointment as a result. I wasn't raised in a particularly religious household so my Bible knowledge is pretty much just general cultural absorption and the Bible stories which were drummed into us at school. However, I'm confident that no one saw fit to mention Adam's First Wife back then! I'm familiar with the traditional Eve-as-villain narrative, and have also read its Sumerian forerunner, Shamhat (Eve) introducing wild man Enkidu (Adam) to civilisation in The Epic Of Gilgamesh, but Lilith? Her suppression feels like a betrayal of all women and this is something I want to understand more deeply so if anyone can recommend more books on the subject, please do let me know!

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Susan Scott / Philosophy / Books from South Africa

Sunday, 27 September 2020

The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo

The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo
First published in Japanese as Inugamike no Ichizoku in Japan by Kadokawa Corporation in 1951. English language translation by Yumiko Yamazaki published by Pushkin Vertigo on the 6th February 2020.

One of my Classics Club Challenge reads

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fiendish classic murder mystery, from one of Japan's greatest crime writers

In 1940s Japan, the wealthy head of the Inugami Clan dies, and his family eagerly await the reading of the will. But no sooner are its strange details revealed than a series of bizarre, gruesome murders begins. Detective Kindaichi must unravel the clan's terrible secrets of forbidden liaisons, monstrous cruelty, and hidden identities to find the murderer, and lift the curse wreaking its bloody revenge on the Inugamis.

The Inugami Curse is a fiendish, intricately plotted classic mystery from a giant of Japanese crime writing, starring the legendary detective Kosuke Kindaichi.

Having not previously heard of Seishi Yokomizo, I relied on my faith in the quality of work published by Pushkin Vertigo when choosing to download a review copy of The Inugami Curse from NetGalley and I am glad to say that I wasn't at all disappointed! The character of independent sleuth Kosuke Kindaichi was great fun to read about and made a refreshing change from the norm. He's not a divorced alcoholic, but does have suitably quirky personal habits a traits that make him come across as less of a threat to the criminally inclined than he really is.

Kindaichi has his work cut out to unravel the convoluted trail of murders surrounding the Inugami family as its members start to be picked off one after the other and I imagine Yokomizo must have spent hours painstakingly plotting this novel in order to keep everything plausible. There is a surprisingly large cast of characters so I was pleased at how easily I managed to differentiate between them all. Yokomizo doesn't go in for deep portraits, but can deftly sketch individuals so they are each memorable. Admittedly there are a few moments when The Inugami Curse hasn't aged so well - women are valued almost entirely by their physical appearance, for example, and at one point Kindaichi is critical of a young woman whose (emotional) 'strength made her unfeminine'. As readers we are privy to a couple of ignorantly homophobic thoughts from him too.

Yokomizo describes the natural world and changing seasons around Nasu in a way that adds great atmosphere to the story. Storms flare up or snow falls at just the right time to accentuate scenes, but without seeming overly played. There's perhaps too much foreshadowing, particularly in the first third of the story, but the narrative keeps up a great pace throughout, especially for such a complicated mystery. I appreciated the brief recaps which gave me a moment to draw breath alongside Kindaichi, before plunging back in! I think The Inugami Curse would strongly appeal to fans of authors such as Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh or George Bellairs. The novel is excellent classic crime fiction with a tangible Japanese flavour.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Seishi Yokomizo / Crime fiction / Books from Japan

Saturday, 26 September 2020

The Beast, and Other Tales by Jóusè d'Arbaud

The Beast, and Other Tales by Jóusè d'Arbaud
First published in Provencal in France in 1926. English language translation by Joyce Zonana published by Northwestern University Press on the 15th September 2020.

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A classic of modern Provençal literature, Jóusè d’Arbaud’s 1926 masterpiece “The Beast of Vacarés” (also known as “The Beast of Vaccarès”) is a haunting parable. Set during the fifteenth century, the tale is narrated by a solitary bull herder—known as a gardian—who stumbles upon a starving creature that is half man, half goat. Terrified, the gardian is nonetheless drawn to the eloquent Beast, a dying demigod who laments the loss of his glorious past even as he wields power over the animals around him. Torn between pity and fear, unable to understand his experiences and afraid he will be condemned for heresy, the gardian records his encounters in a journal, hoping that one day readers will make sense of what he cannot.

Set in the vast, lonely landscape of the Camargue delta, where the Rhône meets the Mediterranean, The Beast seamlessly melds fantasy with naturalistic detail about the region’s flora and fauna. Three additional stories—“The Caraco,” “Pèire Guilhem’s Remorse,” and “The Longline”—explore the lives of twentieth-century gardians in the region. Each man succumbs to fears and social pressure, tragically losing what he most loves.

Jouse d'Arbaud was a French author, but particularly a Provençal author who was prominent in an artistic movement to preserve traditional Provence culture and language. His determination to experience the true life of this historic region led him to uproot himself from his urban home and to start anew as a Camargue bullherder, living spartanly very much as the gardian hero of The Beast would have done some five centuries earlier. This now-classic novella was initially published in a bilingual Provençal/French edition and I was interested in present-day translator, Zonana's, note that the Provençal was by far the more vivid and charismatic version.

The Beast reads much like a fairytale in structure with a demonic yet poignant mystery creature at its heart. I would describe it perhaps as somewhere towards John Steinbeck's The Pearl, but with an intense sense of place reminiscent of The Farm by Hector Abad. d'Arbaud's deep love of the Camargue landscape and it's nature is wonderfully evident across every page and, having spent a little time in this region myself, I can can completely empathise. I felt as if The Beast itself could be a metaphor for the then-dwindling Camargue culture and way of life. To me this is even more significant now, almost a century later, as rising sea levels mean the whole area will soon be lost to floods leaving d'Arbaud's writing as a lone reminder.

The Beast was very much the star of this story quartet for me. The other three works are shorter and felt less developed although, as they share commonalities of place and characters, it made sense for them to be included. Pere Guilham's Remorse is particularly disturbing as it includes some pretty graphic scenes of animal torture (bullfighting is one tradition I will happily see flooded into oblivion!), but The Caraco was interesting with its focus on social exclusion amongst already solitary peoples. Although I admit that, prior to seeing this collection on NetGalley, I hadn't heard of d'Arbaud myself, I am surprised that he isn't more renowned in the French-speaking world. Perhaps his determination to be Provençal over French was the reason? Either way, these stories are a valuable record from a historical perspective and also an entertaining read.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Jouse d'Arbaud / Short stories / Books from France

Friday, 25 September 2020

Eternal Forever by Syl Waters

Eternal Forever by Syl Waters
Published by Eleftheria on the 27th August 2020.

Fame, glory and… foul play!
Jessie was a shop worker dreaming of the big time, then YouTube found her. But staying in the limelight requires meticulous management: pop stars are made not born.

With awards night approaching, the pressure’s on for Tito, Jessie’s manager, to whip her into shape. Getting so close wasn’t in the contract, but then neither was him being murdered in Spain.

Alone and scared of the negative publicity, Jessie turns to Mack, her account manager at Eternal Forever, the UK’s first digital legacy management agency. But Mack’s got his own issues: the company’s fast running out of cash, his key developer’s on the turn and a blogger’s suicide looks suspicious.

With the help of J-Pop, Mack’s assistant and wannabe reality TV star, Jessie turns sleuth. But in a world where everybody’s watching, it’s hard to escape. Reputation is everything and some people will do anything to protect it.

Can Jessie remain on top or will her pop star crown come crashing down?

 The Prologue. This sets the scene for the entire book.

Sunday: Spain
They didn’t see the man approach. “Perdón, dónde está… ?” 
Tito looked up into the face of a handsome young Spaniard, chestnut hair, long and loose, like an adolescent Antonio Banderas. 
“Sorry, mate, I don’t speak Spanish, so I can’t help you.” Tito smiled apologetically and went to move on, clutching Jessie’s hand closer to him.
“I’ll help you.” The young Spaniard’s smile switched to a hard snarl. His hands clenched Tito’s collar, gripping his sweaty skin, bunching his flesh between his fingertips. Tito turned, but it was too late. 
The blade punctured his chest. He could feel the hard metal hot inside of him, blood spurting and spouting all around; tightness in his chest, an urge to vomit. He grappled with the handle, tried to wrench it from his flesh. Wet fabric clung to him, his hands slippery, sliding, unable to grip. Pain scorching. His head full, banging, heavy, dull. Shallow breaths, forced air, trying to pump his lungs. Eyes wild, hunting the street, screaming: “Jessie! Jessie! Jessie!”
Then an empty cobbled street and the blood-covered torso of what had been an extremely handsome young man. 

Meet the author 

Sign up to Syl Waters newsletter to receive a free copy of The Little Book Of Curiously Fascinating Facts about Guinea Pigs

Most people know crazy cat ladies are a ‘thing’, but I’m a proud crazy guinea pig lady! I love fun in the sun and plenty of cocktails. My happy place is flip flops. I write stories to keep me company - my characters ensure I’m never lonely and always smiling (when I’m not tearing my hair out!)

Author links: 
WebsiteTwitterFacebook ~ Instagram

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Syl Waters / Crime fiction / Books from England

Thursday, 24 September 2020

One Boy's War by Nancy McDonald + #Giveaway

Join us for this tour from Sep 14 to Oct 2, 2020!
Book Details:

Book Title:  One Boy's War by Nancy McDonald
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12),  134 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher:  Iguana Books
Release date:   April, 2020
Content Rating:  G. There is no violence, bad language etc. in this book.

Raves for Boy From Berlin by Nancy McDonald:

"Inspired by a true story, Boy from Berlin shares a unique voice in the Holocaust. Highly recommended!”
- Jennifer Roy, author of Yellow Star, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award.

“A compelling introduction to themes of war, courage and identity, certain to engage young readers.” - Trilby Kent, author of Stones for my Father, winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literary Award.

Book Description:

ENGLAND, SUMMER 1940. Following a brush with death in the Irish Sea, 10-year-old Käfer Avigdor unexpectedly finds himself back in London. There, he stumbles upon a sinister Nazi plot that targets hundreds of people in Britain—including the most powerful man in the country. The one person who might be able to defeat Adolf Hitler. With the Germans threatening to invade England at any moment, Käfer musters all his courage and ingenuity in a valiant effort to thwart the Nazis. But will he succeed in time to save the day? One Boy’s War, the sequel to Boy from Berlin, is inspired by real people and historical events.

Add to Goodreads

You May Also Want to Read:


  Book Details:

Book Title:  Boy from Berlin by Nancy McDonald
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12),  142 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher:  Iguana Books
Release date:   May 7, 2018
Format available for review:  PDF
Tour dates: September 14 to October 2, 2020
Content Rating:  G. There is no violence, bad language etc. in this book.

Book Description:

Berlin, April 1938. One night, eight-year-old Käfer Avigdor uses his specialty toilet-paper roll binoculars to spy on his Mama and Aunt Charlotte. The whispered conversation he overhears alerts him to a danger he didn’t know existed and starts him rethinking who he really is and where he belongs. Within hours, Käfer and his family flee their comfortable life. In a desperate race to stay one step ahead of the Nazis, Käfer is called on to be braver and more resourceful than he ever imagined possible. But will it be enough? Boy from Berlin is based on real people and actual events.

Meet the Author:

Nancy McDonald began her career as a journalist on television programs that include W5, Canada AM, and Marketplace before going on to become a sought-after freelance writer, penning everything from documentaries to live-action scripts to comic books. One Boy’s War is the highly anticipated sequel to Boy from Berlin. Nancy lives in Stratford, Ontario, where she revels in Shakespeare, takes theatergoers on tours of the Costume Warehouse, and treads the boards with the Perth County Players. She also works part-time at Fanfare Books, Stratford’s only independent bookseller.

connect with the author:   website ~ twitter ~ instagram ~ goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Sep 14 –Splashes of Joy – book review of Boy from Berlin / guest post / author interview / giveaway
Sep 14 - Working Mommy Journal - book review of Boy from Berlin / giveaway
Sep 14 – Sefina Hawke's Books – book spotlight
Sep 15 – I'm Into Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 15 - Adventurous Bookworm – book review of One Boy’s War / giveaway
Sep 16 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of Boy from Berlin / giveaway
Sep 17 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review of One Boy’s War / giveaway
Sep 17 - Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 18 – Splashes of Joy – book review of One Boy’s War / giveaway
Sep 18 - Nighttime Reading Center – book review of Boy from Berlin / giveaway
Sep 21 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book review of Boy from Berlin / guest post / giveaway
Sep 22 – Pen Possessed – book review of One Boy’s War
Sep 22 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 23 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review of Boy from Berlin / giveaway
Sep 23 - Working Mommy Journal - book review of One Boy's War / giveaway
Sep 24 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 24 - Books and Zebras @jypsylynn – book review of One Boy’s War
Sep 25 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 25 - Writer with Wanderlust - book review of Boy from Berlin / giveaway
Sep 28 - Books for Books – book spotlight
Sep 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Sep 29 - – book spotlight
Sep 30 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review of One Boy’s War / giveaway
Oct 1 – Connie's History Classroom – book review of Boy from Berlin
Oct 1 - Writer with Wanderlust - book review of One Boy’s War / guest post / giveaway
Oct 2 - Connie's History Classroom – book review of One Boy’s War
Oct 2 - Nighttime Reading Center – book review of One Boy’s War / giveaway
Oct 2 - Hall Ways Blog – book spotlight / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:
Win an Autographed set of BOY FROM BERLIN & ONE BOY'S WAR. (one winner) (USA and Canada only) (ends Oct 9)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Nancy McDonald / Historical fiction / Books from Canada

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Play the Red Queen by Juris Jurjevics

Play the Red Queen by Juris Jurjevics
Published by No Exit Press on the 27th August 2020.

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Vietnam, 1963. A female Viet Cong assassin is trawling the boulevards of Saigon, catching US Army officers off-guard with a single pistol shot, then riding off on the back of a scooter. Although the US military is not officially in combat, sixteen thousand American servicemen are stationed in Vietnam 'advising' the military and government. Among them are Ellsworth Miser and Clovis Robeson, two army investigators who have been tasked with tracking down the daring killer.

Set in the besieged capital of a new nation on the eve of the coup that would bring down the Diem regime and launch the Americans into the Vietnam War, Play the Red Queen is a tour-de-force mystery-cum-social history, breathtakingly atmospheric and heartbreakingly alive with the laws and lawlessness of war.

Having not so long ago read Tim Tran's refugee memoir, American Dreamer, which recounts his childhood in 1960s Vietnam, I was drawn to try Play The Red Queen because of its social history aspect. I love to learn about other countries' pasts through reading historical fiction and, on that score certainly, Jurjevics portrait of pre-war Saigon is indeed as 'breathtakingly atmospheric' as the synopsis promises. I understand Jurjevics revisited his own memories of Vietnam at this period as well as undertaking extensive research, and the approach allowed me to really feel as though I were in Saigon alongside Miser and Robeson. Seemingly minor details of scents, colours and texture, mentioned in passing, help to build up the authenticity of each scene.

Play The Red Queen unfortunately doesn't centre on the Viet Cong assassin of the title, but rather on the political manoeuvrings of two potential targets - President Diem himself and American ambassador, Lodge. I did frequently lose track of who was who in their entourages, especially when it came to the many Generals who might (or might not!) be involved in a planned coup. Miser and Robeson are bounced around like pinballs by far more powerful men so following the action from Miser's point of view meant I often felt too distanced. Although he managed to get himself into a number of unlikely situations, much of what really drives this narrative happened off the page leaving me frustrated that the stories I glimpsed in the shadows were more interesting, but remained untold.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Juris Jurjevics / Historical fiction / Books from Latvia

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Queen Of The Owls by Barbara Linn Probst + #Giveaway + Guest Post

Join us for this tour from Sep 9 to Sep 25, 2020!

Book Details:

Book Title:  Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst
Category:  Adult Fiction (18 +),  307 pages
Genre:  Upmarket Women's Fiction
Publisher:  She Writes Press
Release date:   April 2020
Tour dates: Sep 9 to Sep 25, 2020
Content Rating:  PG-13: Includes situations and discussions of adult subject matter.

"A stunner" — Caroline Leavitt, best-selling author

"A must-read"
— Barbara Claypole White, best-selling author

"Nuanced and insightful" — Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times
best-selling author

Book Description:

A chance meeting with a charismatic photographer will forever change Elizabeth’s life. Until she met Richard, Elizabeth's relationship with Georgia O’Keeffe and her little-known Hawaii paintings was purely academic. Now it’s personal. Richard tells Elizabeth that the only way she can truly understand O’Keeffe isn’t with her mind―it’s by getting into O’Keeffe’s skin and reenacting her famous nude photos. In the intimacy of Richard’s studio, Elizabeth experiences a new, intoxicating abandon and fullness. It never occurs to her that the photographs might be made public, especially without her consent. Desperate to avoid exposure―she’s a rising star in the academic world and the mother of young children―Elizabeth demands that Richard dismantle the exhibit. But he refuses. The pictures are his art. His property, not hers. As word of the photos spreads, Elizabeth unwittingly becomes a feminist heroine to her students, who misunderstand her motives in posing. To the university, however, her actions are a public scandal. To her husband, they’re a public humiliation. Yet Richard has reawakened an awareness that’s haunted Elizabeth since she was a child―the truth that cerebral knowledge will never be enough. Now she must face the question: How much is she willing to risk to be truly seen and known?

Guest post:  Getting into Georgia O’Keeffe’s Skin by Barbara Lynn Probst

Queen of the Owls is a story about a woman’s search for the missing sides of herself, framed around the art and life of iconic American painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

If you haven’t heard of O’Keeffe, stop and Google her. I’ll wait—because this essay will mean a lot more if you’ve had a chance to look at a few of her paintings. 

Okay, all set?

The story is set in motion when a charismatic photographer convinces bookworm Elizabeth that the only way she can truly understand O’Keeffe, whose little-known Hawaii paintings are the topic of her thesis, is to get inside O’Keeffe’s skin and “do what she did.”  As you’ll discover when you read the book, that means reproducing the nude photos that O’Keeffe posed for—which Elizabeth does, with disastrous results. 

When I talk about the research I did for the book, the question inevitably arises about what I did that helped me understand Elizabeth’s experience, and I usually answer, “I visited the places where she lived and worked, went to see her paintings in person. The only thing I didn’t do was to pose nude—well, not yet.”  It always gets a laugh, yet it’s not really a joke because I did try to get into O’Keeffe’s skin.

One of the ways I did that was by going to Hawaii (I know, poor me, the things we writers have to do) so I could understand, through my body, what O’Keeffe might have felt while she was there.  And to my surprise, I got it.

I captured my experience in this passage, about halfway through the book:

“Everything about Hawaii was the inverse of what Georgia was used to. Breathing itself must have been strange and new. In New Mexico, Georgia had breathed air that was crisp and dry; in Hawaii, the very oxygen was thick and soft, heavy with a different kind of heat. Volcanic mountains replaced New Mexico’s bare red hills. High and craggy, emerald and jade against the azure sea. A landscape lush and fecund and wet, unlike anything in Georgia’s experience. 
“How had Georgia coped, a desert creature flung into the tropics? The weight of the air, hot and moist on her skin—it must have pushed at her with the relentless question. Who am I, here, in this place? 
“Elizabeth could almost feel it. The sensuality, everywhere. Georgia had to paint. It was the only way to keep from drowning in sensation.”

I would never have been able to write that passage—or understand the embodied experience that Elizabeth craves, and finds—if I hadn’t gone to Kauai.  But I didn’t know that until I was actually there.

Authors spend a lot of time learning about the world of their characters, collecting material and taking notes that never appear in the actual book. It’s part of the behind-the-scenes process that can make the story seem so effortless! 

So no, I didn’t pose nude—although I did have an amazing experience surrendering to the camera when I was beginning to work on Queen of the Owls and preparing to launch a new website. That experience was, in fact, the seed for the descriptions of Elizabeth surrendering to Richard’s camera in his studio.  It’s often like that. We take the kernel of what we’ve actually experienced and enlarge it, translate, re-embody it in a fictional character.

You could say that I got into Elizabeth’s skin, as well as O’Keeffe’s.  A very different kind of “research” than reading books and articles!

Meet the Author:

BARBARA LINN PROBST is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, living on an historic dirt road in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her debut novel QUEEN OF THE OWLS (April 2020) is the powerful story of a woman’s search for wholeness, framed around the art and life of iconic American painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Endorsed by best-selling authors including Christina Baker Kline and Caroline Leavitt, QUEEN OF THE OWLS was selected as one of the twenty most anticipated books of 2020 by Working Mother, a debut novel “too good to ignore” by Bustle, and "one of the best new novels to read during the quarantine" by Parade Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. It won the bronze medal for popular fiction from the Independent Publishers Association, placed first runner-up in general fiction for the Eric Hoffer Award, and was short-listed for the $2500 Grand Prize. Barbara has a PhD in clinical social work and blogs for several award-winning sites for writers.

Connect with the Author:  website  ~ facebook  ~ instagram ~ goodreads
Tour Schedule:
Sep 9 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 9 - Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 9 - Working Mommy Journal - book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 10 – My Fictional Oasis – book spotlight
Sep 10 - Bookish Paradise – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Sep 10 - Book Corner News and Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 11 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 14 – Pen Possessed – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 15 – Lamon Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
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Sep 18 – Hall Ways Blog – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 21 – Sefina Hawke's Books – book spotlight
Sep 22 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 22 - Deborah-Zenha Adams - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
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Sep 23 - Alexis Marie Chute Blog - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
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Sep 24 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – book spotlight / guest post
Sep 25 - Novel Escapes  - book spotlight
Sep 25 - 100 Pages A Day – book spotlight / giveaway

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Monday, 21 September 2020

Igifu by Scholastique Mukasonga

Igifu by Scholastique Mukasonga
First published in French as L'Iguifou in France by Editions Gallimard in 2010. English language translation by Jordan Stump published by Archipelago Press on the 17th September 2020.

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The stories in Igifu summon phantom memories of Rwanda and radiate with the fierce ache of a survivor. From the National Book Award finalist who Zadie Smith says, "rescues a million souls from the collective noun genocide."

Scholastique Mukasonga's autobiographical stories rend a glorious Rwanda from the obliterating force of recent history, conjuring the noble cows of her home or the dew-swollen grass they graze on. In the title story, five-year-old Colomba tells of a merciless overlord, hunger or igifu, gnawing away at her belly. She searches for sap at the bud of a flower, scraps of sweet potato at the foot of her parent's bed, or a few grains of sorghum in the floor sweepings. Igifu becomes a dizzying hole in her stomach, a plunging abyss into which she falls. In a desperate act of preservation, Colomba's mother gathers enough sorghum to whip up a nourishing porridge, bringing Colomba back to life. This elixir courses through each story, a balm to soothe the pains of those so ferociously fighting for survival. 

Her writing eclipses the great gaps of time and memory; in one scene she is a child sitting squat with a jug of sweet, frothy milk and in another she is an exiled teacher, writing down lists of her dead. As in all her work, Scholastique sits up with them, her witty and beaming beloved.

Having been moved by Scholastique Mukasonga's memoir of her childhood, The Barefoot Woman, which I read a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance to read and review this new English translation of her short story collection, Igifu. Igifu translates as 'hunger' and is the title of the first story, a disturbingly powerful account of a five year old girl slowly starving to death. It is heart-rending to read, yet so beautifully written and I was reminded of how I felt reading Jack London's classic tale, To Build A Fire.

Igifu, the book, is a collection of five short stories, each of which took me deeply into aspects of Rwandan life pre- and post-genocide. Mukasonga vividly illustrates the daily lives of Tutsi people who lived under extreme circumstances, displaced and intimidated, for years before the genocide violence finally erupted, and the stories Fear and Grief powerfully convey their eponymous emotions. The Glorious Cow describes the aching void left in a community by the loss of their prized cattle herds around which their lives had formerly revolved. And in The Curse Of Beauty, possibly my favourite of the stories although I thought each of the five equally maintained Mukasonga's high standards, we follow the life of Helena who is feted yet also excluded, purely because of her physical appearance.

Igifu isn't an easy read, but I loved every minute I spent engrossed in these stories and am very grateful to Archipelago Press for this opportunity to read Mukasonga's work in translation as I know my own French isn't up to capturing all the detail and nuances of this masterful prose. 

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Sunday, 20 September 2020

Then The Dawn Returns by Imad Afdam

Then The Dawn Returns by Imad Afdam

Self published on the 4th September 2017.

How I got this book: Purchased an ebook copy via Smashwords

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Buy this book via

Smashwords / / Amazon UK

The book entitled Then The Dawn Returns is a poem on poetry, humanity, love and life. It involves 63 poems that launch the reader into a journey of reflection and profound sensation of what it is to be a human in this modern world. Perhaps the answer to that question is love, and poetry is its Ambassador, because poetry, is the only evidence of life in the Milky Way.

I chose to read Then The Dawn Returns to complete a quintet of Moroccan books for my WorldReads project and I am glad I took a chance on this self-published poetry collection. The 63 poems range from two-line flash poetry to works that run for a page or more, and Afdam ponders a variety of subjects in his thoughtful and philosophical style. Romantic love and grief are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most prevalent topics. For me, the earlier poems felt the strongest emotionally and I particularly appreciated connecting with Hope, Eternal Inspiration, The Fallen Man and Let Us. I think Then The Dawn Returns would be a worthwhile addition to any poetry fan's virtual bookshelf (I don't know if the book is available in print or just digitally).

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Saturday, 19 September 2020

The Girl From The Hermitage by Molly Gartland

The Girl from the Hermitage by Molly Gartland

Published by Lightning Books on the 23rd April 2020.

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Eye Books (20% off with discount code HERMITAGETOUR. Free UK p&p)

Amazon UK / / 

The Book Depository / Waterstones

Galina was born into a world of horrors. So why does she mourn its passing?

SHORTLISTED: Impress Prize

LONGLISTED: Bath Novel Award

LONGLISTED: Grindstone Novel Award

It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Vera are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating soup made of wallpaper, with the occasional luxury of a dead rat. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could now provide a safe haven, provided Mikhail can navigate the perils of a portrait commission from one of Stalin’s colonels.

Nearly forty years later, Galina herself is a teacher at the Leningrad Art Institute. What ought to be a celebratory weekend at her forest dacha turns sour when she makes an unwelcome discovery. The painting she embarks upon that day will hold a grim significance for the rest of her life, as the old Soviet Union makes way for the new Russia and Galina’s familiar world changes out of all recognition.

Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist world, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the glitz and bling of 21st-century St Petersburg. Galina’s story is at once a compelling page-turner and an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia.

I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to read and review The Girl From The Hermitage as part of this Rachel's Random Resources blog tour. My attention was captured by the very first heartbreaking scene - of a man scraping dried paste from wallpaper to make soup for his daughter during the bitter siege of Leningrad - and I remained engrossed in this accomplished novel from that moment on. I was amazed to realise that The Girl From The Hermitage is actually Molly Gartland's debut novel! Her characterisation, dialogue, world building and narrative are so spot on throughout this book that I had assumed it to be the work of a veteran novelist. I  understand that Gartland spent several years in Russia herself and I felt that her experience of the Russian people and culture really shines through. This story is grounded in truth, while also being compelling historical fiction. We see Galina mature from starving war child to Perestroika-baffled matriarch and her poignant nostalgia for her past reminded me strongly of the nonfiction accounts I read in Dancing Bears by Witold Szablowski.

Art, particularly the psychology of its creation, plays a vital part in The Girl From The Hermitage and I loved the scenes where Galina immerses herself in her art as an escape from the realities of her situation. Gartland evokes the inconveniences of Soviet style communal living in the city and I freely admit to being envious of Galina's rural dacha. The constants of her art and the dacha provide Galina an anchor while we watch the Soviet Union disintegrate around her which I thought was such an interesting way to witness this time of great social change for Russia. The Girl From The Hermitage is a fascinating story, deftly and sensitively told, which I highly recommend to historical fiction fans.

Meet the author   

Originally from Michigan, Molly Gartland worked in Moscow from 1994 to 2000 and has been fascinated by Russian culture ever since.

She has an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University, Twickenham and lives in London.

The manuscript for her debut novel The Girl from the Hermitage was shortlisted for the Impress Prize and longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition, the Bath Novel Award and Grindstone Novel Award.

Author links: 


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