Sunday, 28 February 2021

Sigils And Secrets by Whitney Metz

Sigils And Secrets (Black Magick 1) by Whitney Metz
Published by Who Chains You Books on the 17th February 2020.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben has a high-paying job, a great apartment and, most importantly, he has Carrie. She's fun, beautiful, a bit eccentric—and has a fascination with the occult. 

Ben thinks it's harmless. 

Then one night during an attempt to contact the spirit world, Carrie disappears. Now Ben must find a way to navigate a world that he never believed existed in order to save the woman he loves from something he doesn’t understand. 

Maybe he didn’t know Carrie nearly as well as he thought. 

To make matters worse, Ben’s encounter with the supernatural has left him with a mysterious infection ravaging his body and deteriorating his mind. 

Sigils & Secrets is the first in the Black Magick Series—a series about the world behind the one we see every day, the importance of the connections we all share with each other and with the Earth, and the search for our true paths.

I'm pleased to have discovered Sigils and Secrets, the first novel in Whitney Metz' 'Black Magick' fantasy series, and thoroughly enjoyed following Ben on his quest to discover how his impetuous girlfriend, Carrie, disappeared and, most importantly, whether he will be able to rescue her. Ben is an endearing reluctant hero who, it seemed to me, had been out of his comfort zone ever since he met Carrie. We discover through flashback scenes how their relationship started and blossomed, and this is a lovely opposites-attract romance which I felt added a convincing depth to the characters. I really liked how Metz paces her story so I was always eager to keep turning the pages, but never felt rushed. The mysticism is cleverly dripfed so, as readers, we gain understanding at more or less the same rate as Ben does, but sometimes we learn directly from him and at other times insights occurred to me just before he caught up. Ben's naive existence on the edges of a world he doesn't understand makes him someone with whom I could easily empathise. I liked that the supporting characters also came across as fully-formed people and I am incredibly envious of Jacob Weston's home! Debbie's input is also very nicely done and I appreciated the Japanese-style circle that her scene brought to the novel. Sigils And Secrets is the first of the series and, while it has a satisfying story arc and doesn't end on an exasperating cliff hanger, I was left very much in the middle of the adventure so I am keen to pick up its sequel soon.

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Books by Whitney Metz / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Friday, 26 February 2021

American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera

American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera
Published by Carina Press in March 2019.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No one ever said big dreams come easy

For Nesto Vasquez, moving his Afro-Caribbean food truck from New York City to the wilds of Upstate New York is a huge gamble. If it works? He’ll be a big fish in a little pond. If it doesn’t? He’ll have to give up the hustle and return to the day job he hates. He’s got six months to make it happen—the last thing he needs is a distraction.

Jude Fuller is proud of the life he’s built on the banks of Cayuga Lake. He has a job he loves and good friends. It’s safe. It’s quiet. And it’s damn lonely. Until he tries Ithaca’s most-talked-about new lunch spot and works up the courage to flirt with the handsome owner. Soon he can’t get enough—of Nesto’s food or of Nesto. For the first time in his life, Jude can finally taste the kind of happiness that’s always been just out of reach.

An opportunity too good to pass up could mean a way to stay together and an incredible future for them both…if Nesto can remember happiness isn’t always measured by business success. And if Jude can overcome his past and trust his man will never let him down.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

I bought American Dreamer on the recommendation of Olivia (at Olivia's Catastrophe) who loved the story for many of the same reasons that also appealed to me so I am glad to have been swayed by her enthusiasm for this series. I don't often pick up romance novels, but American Dreamer's Dominican Republic authorship made it a perfect fit for my WorldReads project and I love that this story focuses on American people of colour simply living their lives. There is tension and angst, but of the romantic variety and a certain character's racism is a subplot, but Nesto and Jude navigating the possibility of a lasting relationship between them is firmly at this novel's heart. Food is also central to American Dreamer and I loved how Herrera explains the cultural significance of certain dishes to people living away from their family homelands. I have experienced this in a small way myself so could empathise with Carmen's joy on her first visit to the OuNYe food truck.

American Dreamer evoked similar reading vibes for me as Adiba Jaigirdar's The Henna Wars (although I must say that American Dreamer is intended for an older audience and does have a few sex scenes). The narrative is fairly light compared to my usual literary reads, but it never felt shallow. I already knew we were heading for a Happy Ever After, but Herrera's authentic portrayals of multicultural friendships and a gay relationship mean the whole book is filled with positive representation which was a joy to read. I've already got the next book in this series added to my wishlist!

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Books by Adriana Herrera / Romance fiction / Books from Dominican Republic

Thursday, 25 February 2021

A Rendezvous To Remember by Terry Marshall & Ann Garretson Marshall + #Giveaway

Join us for this tour from Feb 9 to Mar 1, 2021!

Book Details:

Book TitleA Rendezvous to Remember: A Memoir of Joy and Heartache at the Dawn of the Sixties by Terry Marshall, Ann Garretson Marshall
CategoryAdult Non-Fiction (18 +), 378 pages
GenreMemoir, Romance
PublisherSandra Jonas Publishing
Release date:   Feb 2021
Tour dates: Feb 9 to Mar 1, 2021
Content Rating:  R. This memoir contains mature themes, explicit sex scenes, one f-word, and occasional profanity.

Book Description:

In June 1964, Ann Garretson skips her college commencement to tour Europe with Lieutenant Jack Sigg, a tank commander on the German-Czech border, with the hope of returning as his fiancée. A month into their rendezvous, her best friend, Terry, proposes marriage—by mail—throwing all their lives into turmoil.
Jack offers the military life Ann grew up with. Terry, a conscientious objector, will leave for the Peace Corps at the end of the summer—unless the draft board intervenes and sends him to jail. Her dilemma: she loves them both. Caught between the old mores and winds of change, Ann must make an agonizing choice. 
In alternating voices, A Rendezvous to Remember presents firsthand accounts by the two who eventually married, enriched by letters from the rival, whose path led him elsewhere. Provocative and delightfully uncensored, this coming-of-age memoir, anchored in the tumult of the sixties, is a tribute to the enduring power of love and family.

Buy the Book: / Amazon UK

BAM ~ B&N ~ IndieBound

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Meet the Authors:

Terry Marshall and Ann Garretson Marshall taught English in the Philippines as Peace Corps volunteers and later served as Peace Corps country co-directors in the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and Tuvalu. Back in the States, they worked side by side as community organizers and activists in Colorado. Terry went on to write fiction and nonfiction works on discrimination, poverty, rural development, and intercultural conflict. Ann has thirty years of experience as a writer, editor, and community-government go-between for issues related to nuclear and hazardous waste cleanup. Always seeking adventure, Terry and Ann have traveled to forty-three countries. They live in Las Vegas, Nevada.

connect with the authors:  website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram

Tour Schedule:

Feb 9 –
Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 9 - Book Corner News and Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 10 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 11 – Pick a Good Book – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 12 – Splashes of Joy – books spotlight / giveaway
Feb 12 - Laura's Interests – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 15 – Read and Review – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 16 – Lisa's Everyday Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 17 – Westveil Publishing – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 17 - Sadie's Spotlight – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 18 – Pine Enshrined Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 19 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 19 – Books for Books – book spotlight / author interview
Feb 22 - Kam's Place - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 22 - Bookish Ramblings - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 22 - Book World Reviews - book spotlight

Feb 23 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 24 - Books Lattes & Tiaras – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 24 – I'm All About Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 25 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 25 - Sefina Hawke's Books – book spotlight
Feb 26 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Mar 1 - High Society Book Club & Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Mar 1 - BookishKelly2020 – book spotlight

Enter the Giveaway: 

Win 1 of 2 print (USA only) or 1 of 3 ebook (international) of A RENDEZVOUS TO REMEMBER (5 winners) (ends Mar 8)

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Books by Terry Marshall and Ann Garretson Marshall / Biography and memoir / Books from America

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Skeletons by Natalie Rodriguez + #Giveaway + Excerpt

Natalie Rodriguez
Publication date: February 26th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Young Adult

When was the last time you confronted the skeletons in your closest?

Immediately following book one, “Elephant,” Matthew “Matty” Smith awakens from his coma and discovers that his worst nightmare is all true: his grandmother, Jamie, and Derek have gone missing and his mother murdered his father and grandfather years ago.

With the hospital placing him on lockdown, including no visitation rights by his loved ones such as his best friend, Lisa, Matty finds himself deteriorating into a state of the abyss, consumed with the secrets of his family. Convinced that it was the ‘stranger’ who kidnapped his grandmother and friends, no one believes him. The hospital only believes that Matty is slipping into a toxic mental state, repeating the cycle of his family.

Until one day, Lisa helps Matty escape the hospital.

On the run from Dr. Brown, Officer Barry, and the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Matty and Lisa set off to find their friends and Lucia and for answers on who the ‘stranger’ is. Once they unmask who the ‘stranger’ is, Matty continues to unravel the deepest secrets of what was supposed to be forever hidden in the Smith family as well as the town.

This story is for those who feel their voice is unheard and for children, teenagers, and adults who never had the chance to heal from their pain.


DELICATELY, MATT’S EYES OPENED to a world of white haze. All the objects were silhouettes. That was until, Dr. Brown poked through the gust of blurriness.

“Thank God! You’re up,” he wheezed.

Matt peered around. The sunlight poured into Room 402, inch by inch. He was in the room as usual. The streaks of sunlight hit the edge of the hospital bed before it dazzled on his skin. His skin was cold and so…fair. Slimmer, shades of purple and pink concaved his cheekbones—a shade of baby blue muddled his skin.

“Ah,” Matt groaned, once Dr. Brown flashed a miniature flashlight back and forth at his eyes.

At least the reaction was a good sign—the teenage patient could see.

Then, a nurse closed the curtains. It was back to the darkened and sinister atmosphere that gobbled up Matt.

“I don’t feel too well,” he said, barely audible, as the middle of his bottom lips splintered with red.

Another nurse dabbed a tissue against his mouth. He took control of it, as though he was refusing another medical employee’s touch.

“It’s because you’ve been in a coma for four weeks,” Dr. Brown chimed in with his patient.


Matt scanned the room until his vision settled upon what should have been Captain Obvious to him. His wrists, ankles, and chest were no longer strapped to the bed. Instead, all three areas of his body were wrapped-up. The white puffy bandages resembled the texture of clouds on a springtime afternoon.

While Matt’s eyes grew lukewarm, he hoisted his noodle size wrists closer to his eyes. “Wha—Wha—What happened?” he asked.

“You had an anxiety attack and went into shock…” It seemed that Dr. Brown dreaded the moment, even though he had scripted out his dialogue for when Matt reawakened, like any good doctor would do. 

“Sorry, it’s just…I’m not sure…Matt, I’m not sure just how much you remember at all.”

The outside world. It was breathtaking, as the cotton ball clouds sailed across the sky like ships out to sea.

“What’s the date?” Matt asked moments later.

It appeared that the truth cuffed at Dr. Brown’s heart. “August 5th,” he said.

Matt winced at the impossible and yet, the possible. He broke down into tears and sheltered his face. Just then, his palms met a rigid paper that was on the bottom of his lip. It made sense now—he was out of it, unaware of what was a possibility…and the impossible…

He cried even more.

“Your lip bled on and off. The white bandage cloth was too big.” Slowly, but surely, Dr. Brown reached out for his patient. He slid his fingers atop Matt’s hand and gave it a pat. “Thankfully Lisa brought in a Spiderman bandage. She said you’re a fan of the franchise. I heard there’s going to be another installment…”

Dr. Brown gave a nervous chuckle. Cat scrabbled onto Matt’s tongue, left speechless and almost…numb.

“You know,” Dr. Brown started again, “she comes to visit you almost every day. Usually around lunchtime. She’ll be real happy that you’re awake.”

He did not reply.

“Look, Matt, I know you’re exhausted”—Dr. Brown selected his words cautiously—“I get that. You’ll need more rest. I just hope you can talk to us. Whenever you’re ready.”

The pain took over Matt, as his leg gave a spasm. “I don’t understand how time flies by so…fast…”


“Your heart was beating in a peculiar pattern,” Dr. Brown said. “At first, it was pumping at a rapid rate. And then, it was beating…slowly. And then, it went quickly again.”

Off the doc’s studying look, Matt asked, “What?”

“I just can’t get that image out of my head. After Lisa was removed from the room, we discharged the bed straps from your body when you began to lose…You lost a lot of blood.”

Matt’s eyes descended to his wrists; his mind illustrated all the possibilities and what the memory for both Dr. Brown and his colleagues must have appeared like: nurses and doctors rotated and took his pulse, as well as patched up the holes where the blood oozed out.

For some reason, Matt saw it. He imagined that his own blood was a zombie-gut neon green, just like the classic horror films.

But it frightened him, and he shut his eyes to erase the horrific illustration. The image stayed with him anyhow.

“Matt?” Dr. Brown’s voice echoed through Matt’s state of horror.

“Where was I bleeding?” It was mostly rhetorical, as Matt tried to digest the imminent response. “Where was the blood coming from?”

When Matt’s eyes peeled open, they were red with angst. Dr. Brown pointed to the upper half of his patient’s chest. 

“The scars,” Dr. Brown answered. “Lisa—she swore you were dead when she saw us trying to stop the blood.” He sniffled and coughed, as though the rest of the alphabet clogged up his throat. “We all saw the scars when the blood eventually…came to a stop.”

Matt glanced away. For a moment, he almost fooled himself while the tears streamed down his face.

Dr. Brown was tentative until, “A worldwide search was put out two weeks ago. Matt…” Compressing his fist with his mouth, he prevented a scream. “Matt…”

Cat got his tongue.

Matt noticed and watched as anxiety and pain consumed his doctor’s shaken body. Before the Spiderman bandage detached from Matt’s cherry rose lips, Dr. Brown ascended to his feet.

“Excuse me,” was all he said before he scampered out of Room 402.

“Dr. Brown?” Matt listened to his doctor’s fancy schmancy shoes swerve across the tile. The fretful voices of nurses and doctors echoed throughout the hallway as they called out for their boss’s attention.

“Doctor…” Even Matt’s voice was lost. “Brown?”

Wherever his doctor fled, Matt saw no other reason but to wait…and wait for him. He sniffled, and with a revelation, he gasped. He remembered…and his eyes returned to the cheese holes in the ceiling. ‘They’re missing…They believe you. You are not or will ever be alone again.’

Author Bio:

Natalie Rodriguez is an award-winning writer, director, and mental health and anti-violence/trauma advocate based in Los Angeles, CA. In 2014, she graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts in Radio-Television-Film. Her first experience in entertainment was an internship at the Conan O'Brien show and Peter Guber's Mandalay Pictures, where she worked at the offices of producers, Matthew Rhodes ("Cherry," "Men in Black: International") and Academy Award-winner, Cathy Schulman ("Sharp Objects," "Crash").

Natalie was also a panelist at events, including Google, Hispanicize, and YouTube, where she has shared her story as a writer, filmmaker, and a female working in the entertainment industry. Some of her previous writing work can be found in publications such as the HuffPost Blog, Thrive Global, Anxiety Resource Center, Opposing Views, NowThis News, Zooey Deschanel's Hello Giggles, The Mighty, and more.

In 2017, she founded her production company, Extraordinary Pictures, focusing on both films, television, digital series, and social issue projects. The company has a list of projects in its roaster, including development on a TV sitcom, "The D," which placed in top-ten for best comedy screenplays at Stage 32. At the moment, Natalie's second directorial feature film, "Howard Original," is in post-production and set for an August 2020 release date on YouTube Premium. The film is based on the award-winning short film about a washed-up screenwriter named Howard, who encounters more than just selling a story, a studio rejection, and writer's block when his pet cat comes to life.

Natalie's directorial feature film, "The Extraordinary Ordinary," which she also wrote, produced, and was the executive producer on, is making its round through the festival circuit. The film deals with young adults, mental health awareness, and the aftermath of trauma. The film won 'Best Film About Women's Empowerment' at the Glendale International Film Festival and scored nominations in Best Director, Best Female Director, and Best Picture. The film also had a sold-out world premiere screening at the Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival (LADFF), winning 'Best Performance' by the leading actress, Maddison Bullock. Further details on the project can be found @theextraordfilm, including recent film festival awards and nominations.

Her other screenplays and films have also been featured and placed in the final rounds at HollyShorts Film Festival, NALIP: Latino Lens Film Festival, ShortsTV, Stage 32: Comedy Screenplay, Beverly Hills Film Festival, Culver City Film Festival, Indie Night Film Festival, Hollywood Screenplay Contest, Table Read My Screenplay - Austin Film Festival, and others.

Natalie was most recently an ambassador for Jen Zeano Designs (JZD), a clothing company in association with USA Networks. While she continues to build her creative background, Natalie is always open to collaborating with other artists and advocates. Currently, she awaits the publication of her first young adult novel this April 2020, "Elephant," a story about four childhood best friends who uncover a family secret. The book was also a finalist at Clare Books' the Binge-Watching Cure II contest for 'Best Novel.'.

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Monday, 22 February 2021

Blackthorn by Terry Tyler

Blackthorn by Terry Tyler
Self published in November 2019.

Included in my Vegan Bookshop

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The UK, year 2139.

One hundred and fifteen years ago, a mysterious virus wiped out ninety-five per cent of humanity.

Blackthorn, the largest settlement in England, rose from the ashes of the devastated old world. It is a troubled city, where the workers live in crude shacks, and make do with the worst of everything.

It is a city of violent divisions, crime, and an over-populated jail block, until a charismatic traveller has a miraculous vision, and promises to bring hope back to the people's lives.

Blackthorn falls under Ryder Swift's spell, and the most devoted of all is the governor's loyal servant, Lieutenant August Hemsley.

Twenty-one-year-old Evie has lived her whole life in the shacks. She and disillusioned guard Byron Lewis are two of a minority who have doubts about Ryder's message. Can they stand against the beliefs of an entire city?

Blackthorn is the fifth novel in Terry Tyler's scarily realistic Project Renova series. It is set a little later than the beginning of Legacy and takes place almost entirely within the city of Blackthorn which I remember seeing being established in the earlier book. There are nods to previous events and characters, but Blackthorn, I think, could also be satisfyingly read as a standalone novel or as an entry into the series.

The leadership and citizens of Blackthorn have established fairly secure lives within their walled city and the devastating pandemic of a century before is now mythology rather than memory. I liked how Tyler establishes this setting through three very different sets of eyes. Concepts such as equality didn't survive The Fall so, even within this relatively small society, a few people live luxuriously while others barely have enough to survive. This leads to frequent violence and unrest as people without hope feel they can only gain by agitation. It was interesting for me to watch attitudes change as Ryder's message of embracing The Light takes hold across Blackthorn. And, as the people begin to lives according to their new found faith - working together and trying to understand others' points of view, their lives do indeed improve. It's a cycle of self improvement that really does benefit Blackthorn, but unfortunately individual selfishness often trumps common good and Tyler understands perfectly how human nature works so is able to portray her characters' motivations in a totally believable way. She kept me hooked from start to finish and, as it's a while since I read the earlier Project Renova books, I am now very tempted to go back and reread the whole series.

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Books by Terry Tyler / Dystopian fiction / Books from England

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Decide to Live by Shirley Anne Edwards + #Giveaway + Excerpt

Decide to Live
Shirley Anne Edwards
(Finding the Strength, #3)
Publication date: February 14th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

When it hurts too much to live, how does one find the strength to stay alive and find hope again?

Reiko Nakano has a charmed life. Not only does the twenty-three-old come from a life of luxury because of her celebrity parents and supermodel sister, she’s best friends with the biggest brother and sister pop duo in the world- Gio and Gem Grove. But what the public assumes is wrong different because of what Reiko suffers in private. She feels she’s an outcast in her own family because of her ptosis and her social anxiety. She then makes the biggest mistake of her life and tries to turn her lifelong crush on Gio into something more. His cruel rejection after she lets him take her virginity leaves her heartbroken.

Reiko hides in the least likely of places- the small town of Albee, Pennsylvania. There she enjoys her anonymity and enrolls in summer classes at Maison University. She hopes she can fit in as a student, but life continues to play tricks on her when she’s hit in the face by a football from one of the most popular boys on campus, Will Forest. But this accidental but memorial meeting will help heal her fragile emotions because Will shows her how special she is to those she meets, including him.

She isn’t sure what to make of Will. He’s too nice and sweet, and treats her like gold. She accepts his attempts at romance even though it’s only temporary. But as the summer flies by, she doesn’t want to give Will up, who doesn’t know the truth about her “vacation”. And when Gio arrives in town, and threatens to out Reiko, she has some hard choices to make. Does she come clean to Will so she can decide to finally live on her own terms and embrace the amazing woman Will thinks her to be?


It had been a long time since I’d felt like I belonged somewhere or with someone. I had found that at Maison. I felt the same with Dad when he let me tag along to one of his classes or read chapters of a new book he was in the middle of writing. He was the only one I wanted to call to tell him about my summer plans. Aya would be happy for me, but she didn’t share our love for books and learning, not that my older sister was uneducated by any means. She had different pursuits and hobbies, like Mom. She had a bond with Mom, whereas mine was with Dad.

A small black dog ran by me, chased by a woman. The sight made me snicker. I checked around to see if there were any other dogs, an odd thing to see at a college. The only interesting interaction was a few guys playing football a few feet away. I wanted to soak in the atmosphere a little longer. Then I would call Dad and tell him my news. Trying to figure out the time difference in Paris, I walked forward, realizing too late I was in the path of the football game. Someone shouted— “Look out!” As I turned, a football hit the side of my neck, near my shoulder. I fell and landed on the ground.

The sun above blinded me as I tried to bring the world into focus. Soon, a group of men surrounded me, blocking out the light. One knelt next to me and boosted me up, keeping his arm on my back.

“My glasses?” I searched the area even though everything was blurry.

“I found them.” He pressed them into my hand. “Are you okay? Do you need a doctor? Should we call 911?”

I slid my glasses on and shook my head. “I was just startled.”

When I was able to see again, the guy who still supported me helped me stand. I should have noticed he wasn’t wearing a T-shirt. It was stuck in the back of his shorts, leaving his chest bare. What I did notice first was his chunky black-framed glasses and short yet spikey blond hair. He also had too many freckles across his nose and cheeks.

“You’re wearing glasses also.” I blinked, amazed by how cute he was wearing horn-rimmed glasses, and because of the deep lines around his mouth because of his smile.

“A few other guys on campus wear glasses, but they don’t look as good as I do.” He scooped up the football and tossed it to someone. “I’m going to take a break to make sure the young lady here is okay.”

Young lady? I kicked the grass. Shoot! My paperwork had scattered.

“I’m fine, I think, but my papers aren’t.” I bent to retrieve the wrinkled documents.

By the time I’d found most of them, he had put on his T-shirt. He held the brochure, and, as I rose, he flipped through it. “You’re a new student here?”

“Just for the summer.” I held my hand out for the booklet.

He paused as if he wanted to say something but instead gave me the booklet.

“Thanks.” I took my time putting the book and papers in my tote bag, expecting him to leave. But he still stood there.

For some reason, I wasn’t as uncomfortable as I usually was when I met new people. Our awkward introduction resulting from the football to my face should have made me look in the other direction. But he acted…considerate? Or maybe compassionate was a better word?

A female voice called out, “Will,” and he waved but stayed with me. “Now you know my name. I’m Will, short for William.”

“I’m Reiko, and it’s not short for anything.” I glanced at the girl who‘d said his name. She was with two other girls, and they all looked identical—white girls with highlighted blonde hair and tight shirts and shorts. They were the type I would stay away from because they reminded me of Gem.

“I never heard that name before. It’s pretty.” He gave me another friendly smile.

“It has a few meanings.” The main meaning of my name meant beautiful, but I preferred wise. I left it unsaid because he would probably say I was beautiful in his flirty way, just to be nice.

“I’d love to know what your name means.” He tapped his fingers on his hips.

If I had better social skills, I would have teased him, extending our conversation. But with those girls waiting for him, one of whom might be his girlfriend, it was best I let him go.

“If we meet again, I might tell you.” I turned and walked away. It was better to cut him off and leave. The odds I would see him again were small since he was ending his semester and would return to wherever he lived for the summer.

As expected, he didn’t run after me or tell me to stay. I kept walking without turning around to check like the small voice in my head wanted me to do.

Author Bio:

Shirley Anne Edwards is a Northeast girl who first found her love for books when she read Nancy Drew's The Secret of the Old Clock Tower at thirteen. Shirley found her love for writing at a very young age, and since then has let her imagination run wild by creating quirky characters and vast worlds in her head.

Shirley lives in New Jersey and works in the entertainment industry in New York City.

In the immortal words of Mark Twain: "Life is short, Break the Rules. Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile."

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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Friday, 19 February 2021

The Savior by Abdellatif Radja

The Savior by Abdellatif Radja
Self published in November 2020.

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three years after the tragic death of baby Sarah, Emily decides to have a child again. She hires a doula and tries to settle into a semblance of normalcy.

On a cold autumn morning, husband David wakes up to find a note from Emily on the refrigerator door: Goodbye Forever.

David wonders why Emily left him just a few days before her due date. Well, their marriage isn't the most perfect in the world, but he did everything he could to save it, or at least that's what he thought.

Under mounting pressure from the police, David decides to take matters into his own hands. With the few secrets he learned from the doula about his wife, he begins unearthing more and more shocking secrets.

Did Emily really decide to disappear?

I had quite good hopes for The Savior when I started to read it. Billed as a psychological thriller, its central characters are a wife and husband whose lives were devastated by her severe post partum depression after the birth of their first child. I sympathised with the character of Emily, despite the terrible thing she had done, and was intrigued by the way her husband, David, had organised his domestic life during Emily's enforced absence. A manipulative, chauvinistic man, there is lots not to like about David and I frequently found myself wondering what on earth had attracted Emily to him in the first place!

I was confused by Abdellatif Radja's failure to set The Savior in a definite location and felt this negatively affected my ability to believe in all the characters and their motivations. I guess, by their names - Emily, David, Patricia, Samantha, Hannah - and some scenarios that the novel is targeted towards a mainstream white American audience, but the overall settings felt too flimsy and generic for my tastes. The dialogue is often strange too, but I did actually quite like the poetic style of Radja's prose.

As the story progressed, I thought it was going to explore the realities of a woman living in the shadow of post partum depression. Having recently read Elisabeth Horan's powerful poetry collection, Just To The Right Of The Stove, on just this subject, I felt it a brave direction especially for a male author to take, but unfortunately this was not to be the case. After Radja sets us up for various psychological aspects in the first half of the book, he then sadly veers abruptly into implausible thriller fare for the second half with lots of gun waving, two-dimensional cameo characters, and half explored plotlines that fizzle out. Rapid scenes get increasingly more violent and less and less believable, and the whole mental health aspect, which initially drew me in, ultimately ends up with a shallow, stereotyped portrayal of 'crazy woman'. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Abdellatif Radja / Thrillers / Books from Algeria

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Kololo Hill by Neema Shah

Kololo Hill by Neema Shah
Published by Picador today, the 18th February 2021.

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When you’re left with nothing but your secrets, how do you start again?

Uganda 1972

A devastating decree is issued: all Ugandan Asians must leave the country in ninety days. They must take only what they can carry, give up their money and never return.

For Asha and Pran, married a matter of months, it means abandoning the family business that Pran has worked so hard to save. For his mother, Jaya, it means saying goodbye to the house that has been her home for decades. But violence is escalating in Kampala, and people are disappearing. Will they all make it to safety in Britain and will they be given refuge if they do?

And all the while, a terrible secret about the expulsion hangs over them, threatening to tear the family apart. 

From the green hilltops of Kampala, to the terraced houses of London, Neema Shah’s extraordinarily moving debut Kololo Hill explores what it means to leave your home behind, what it takes to start again, and the lengths some will go to protect their loved ones.

Kololo Hill focuses on Idi Amin's expulsion of Asian families from Uganda in the early 1970s. It's set around the same time as The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumba and shows a very different side of Ugandan life. We see how an Indian family have their lives turned upside-down by Amin's decree. He does not consider them to be Ugandans even though Jaya and her husband, Motichand, have lived and worked in the country for decades. Not even their eldest son, Pran, born there and in possession of a Ugandan passport, escapes the ruling. Shah tells the family's story through three characters: elderly Jaya, Jaya's daughter-in-law, Asha, and Jaya's younger son, Vijay. I was particularly fascinated by the relationship between Jaya and Asha which illustrates not only a wide generation gap but also shows how far Ugandan Indians have diverged from their parents' culture. Jaya has always followed a traditional way of life for Indian women of her class and caste, keeping herself in her husband's shadow, whereas as Asha, brought up in Uganda culture, expects the right to speak and that her opinions should be acknowledged. Neither woman is equipped for the situation in which they find themselves, but I loved how Shah plays them off each other as they struggle through.

Asha's husband, Pran, provides much of the story's drive which is a little strange because, as readers, we don't get to hear his voice directly. As he and Asha are newly married, she often doesn't understand this secretive man either so their lack of connection often causes more problems. Kololo Hill is as much about this family's interpersonal relationships as it is about the outside situation in Uganda and I felt the almost claustrophobic sense of them being trapped together worked very well to add atmosphere to the story. It's even more effective once some of the family arrive in England, others having been lost along the way.

I remember seeing old newsreel footage of dozens of expelled Ugandans arriving at one of the London airports, obviously bewildered and certainly not dressed warmly enough for the weather. Shah managed to put me right into the middle of that moment, and into the months that follow as these refugees attempt to rebuild their lives from scratch having had to leave practically all their possessions behind. Kololo Hill really brought home to me just how traumatic such an upheaval was, and still is for the people going through similar experiences today.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Neema Shah / Historical fiction / Books from England

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Esther The Wonder Pig by Steve Jenkins

Esther The Wonder Pig by Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter with Caprice Crane
First published by Grand Central Publishing in May 2016.

A Book with Vegans and included in my Vegan Bookshop.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unlikely pig owners Steve and Derek got a whole lot more than they bargained for when the designer micro piglet they adopted turned out to be a full-sized 600-pound sow! This funny, inspirational story shows how families really do come in all shapes and sizes.

In the summer of 2012, Steve Jenkins was contacted by an old friend about adopting a micro piglet. Though he knew his partner Derek wouldn't be enthusiastic, he agreed to take the adorable little pig anyway, thinking he could care for her himself. Little did he know, that decision would change his and Derek's lives forever.

It turned out there was nothing "micro" about Esther, and Steve and Derek had actually signed on to raise a full-sized commercial pig. Within three years, Tiny Esther grew to a whopping 600 pounds. After some real growing pains and a lot of pig-sized messes, it became clear that Esther needed much more space, so Steve and Derek made another life-changing decision: they bought a farm and opened the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, where they could care for Esther and other animals in need.

Funny, heartwarming, and utterly charming, Esther the Wonder Pig follows Steve and Derek's adventure--from reluctant pig parents to farm-owning advocates for animals.

I'm probably the only person to have recently discovered Esther through finding out about this book, rather than having already heard of her through her wildly successful social media presence. Esther The Wonder Pig is February's Vegan Book Club (on Goodreads) choice and we're reading the book together as a group all through the month. Please do feel welcome to join us!

I was very entertained by Steve's story of being suckered into adopting Esther, and the changes she wrought on his and Derek's lives. The book is written in an engaging style and I appreciated that, while Steve and Derek were obviously thrown into a situation where they had to learn fast as they went along, they don't overplay their early ineptitude. I was reminded of Tony Hawks pig-carrying shenanigans in his memoir, Once Upon a Time in the West ... Country, in the way Esther's personality and mischievous antics swiftly take centre stage. Pigs are easily as intelligent as dogs and it's essentially just a quirk of human history that determined which species Europeans would choose to eat and which to take walkies. As Steve relates, Esther also enjoys her walks and shares many instinctive behaviours with their pet dogs.

If I wasn't already vegan, Esther The Wonder Pig could well have started to change my mind about dismissing pigs as simply dumb farmed food animals. They're obviously not and the authors soon make this connection themselves, eventually becoming full vegans and animal advocates. I liked their positive attitude towards promoting veganism. It's a perspective I share and I hope Esther's life opens many more people's eyes. The recipes at the end were an unexpected bonus too! 

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Steve Jenkins / Biography and memoir / Books from Canada

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Stop Stress Fast by Gregory Landsman + #Giveaway + #FreeBook

Join us for this tour from Feb 1 to Feb 19, 2021!

Book Details:
Book TitleSTOP STRESS FAST : 12 Quick, Proven Stress Relief Techniques to Help You Feel Good Everyday by Gregory Landsman
CategoryAdult Non-Fiction (18 yrs +),  110 pages
Genre: Stress Management Self Help; Happiness Self Help; Self Help
PublisherHill of Content Publishing
Release date:   June 2020
Content RatingG.


Stop Stress Fast is a highly digestible, real world guide that brings tangible benefits to the reader very quickly. It helps us understand the science behind the approach, and it reads so easily that anyone could pick it up and within a few minutes be well on the way to implementing a number of practical and effective stress management tools.” - Psychiatrist Dr Doug Blomeley

Book Description:


Best selling author and wellness educator Gregory Landsman shares his quick, simple and proven method to STOP STRESS FAST and re-boot your energy.

The bite sized chapters will reveal:
• The ground breaking GL DE-STRESS & AGE LESS™ Breathing Technique that everyone can use to Stop Stress Fast (sometimes in less than 2 minutes).
• The secrets to lowering stress levels everyday with foods that support you to look younger and healthier at the same time.
• The 5-Day GL DE-STRESS & AGE LESS™ diet.
• How to counteract the wrinkle causing hormone and look younger and more vital.


In my thirties I looked ten years older than my age and was close to a breakdown from stress, overwork and unresolved emotional issues. Most of the time I didn’t know what was wrong with my life. I didn’t know why it wasn’t running smoothly and had no idea how to fix all the things that were going on and going wrong.

One minute I was happy, the next minute I was sad and my ability to make decisions was clouded with doubt. The stress that I felt on a daily basis was impacting on the quality of my relationship, my business, my health and state of mind.

Instead of dealing with the cause of my stress, I built my life around managing the stress and unhappiness I felt, and doing what was required to keep everything moving.

I felt disillusioned and ashamed for letting these emotions get the better of me and angry for not being able to manage my own expectations. To cope with the stress of a difficult day I would ‘self-medicate’ with lifestyle elements; a few more coffees to get through the day; too many sweet or greasy snacks to cheer me up; and one too many glasses of wine to relax - none of which would have been a problem if I had only indulged occasionally; but stress had a way of turning my indulgent treats into an everyday occurrence.

I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. The days were long and the nights were even longer, and when I did fall asleep I would wake up short of breath with my heart pounding.

I got to the point where I dreaded going to bed and would spend my days feeling weary with my mind in a fog. I looked broken and started to gain weight; so misery was now sitting on my face and my bones. Fatigue and heart palpitations became my new ‘normal’, but I ignored the symptoms and told myself it would all be worth it.

My feelings of personal success and self-worth were based on my business success and so I pushed myself harder and internalised my worrying.

I wanted to be the best I could be, but I had been fighting years of stress and toxic lifestyle behaviours. I experienced low motivation and low moods, but I kept pretending that nothing was wrong and whenever it felt like I was at breaking point I told myself to ‘get over it’. That worked for a while, until one night at two in the morning the stress that I thought I was keeping under control, took control over me. My heart was beating wildly and my breathing became shorter and shorter. With long pauses between breaths I began to panic and wondered if each breath would be my last.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t modulate my breathing and was just desperately gasping for air. My wife rushed me to the hospital where I found myself in emergency hooked up to an oxygen tank for hours, while they performed all sorts of tests.

The doctor told me it was an anxiety attack, but regardless of what they called it, I knew that the stress I had refused to deal with had finally caught up with me.

Never before had I given much thought to the act of breathing, after all we do it all day without having to think about it; but after this incident I found myself feeling extremely grateful for each new breath I took.

Even after this episode, my stress and anxiety levels were still high, as my business used every last bit of energy I had in me. Everything in my world seemed to be challenging me to find another way to live and so faced with collapse from exhaustion, I finally had to decide whether wealth or my health was to be my priority. It didn’t feel like an easy decision as I had worked so hard to get to where I was, but in reality I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to live a long and happy life; so I made the commitment to de-stress my life.

I was searching for a deeper understanding of who I was and the life I had created and this took me to India.

I stayed in India for three months, spending whole weeks at a time practising meditation and conscious breathing for thirteen hours a day. The program would start at 4.30am in the morning and finish at 10.00pm in the evening, with short breaks for water, fruit and watery porridge flavoured with garlic!

As we meditated we were told to breathe deeply and consciously, while sitting completely still in one position for the entire day – no talking, no eye contact and no hand gestures. There was certainly nothing ‘airy fairy’ about this course. It felt like a mental, physical and emotional boot camp.

So when I wasn’t fighting an itch that I wasn’t allowed to scratch, my body ached, my muscles cramped and my joints locked. By the end of the night, as I walked back to my sleeping quarters, my legs shook uncontrollably from the pain.

Everything changes when you have no distractions; you remember things and feel things that you have long forgotten about or put aside. In the silence all of the suppressed unhappiness, stress and emotional baggage that I had been running from in my life crashed into me.

There was so much unresolved pain in my life and sitting with my own thoughts I could feel how I had repressed my feelings, pushing them deep into my body so that all I generally felt on a daily basis was a sense of numbness. For the first time I understood why a feeling of inner peace eluded me and why I felt depressed, anxious and unhappy. It is a bizarre feeling sitting in silence waiting for nothing other than your next deep breath. I started to feel how stress had burdened my mind and body and made me look worn out, defeated and tired. Listening to the subtle changes in my breath helped me understand how my body responded to my thoughts and how this set off stress reactions in my body.

When I thought about something stressful, my breath would shorten and I would feel anxiety take over my whole body. But in this environment there was no option to suppress my thoughts and feelings and keep moving. I had nowhere to run, no business meetings to distract me and no lifestyle self-medicating opportunities; it was just me sitting alone in one position with my thoughts and feelings for hours every day.

As awful as this sounds, (and it was), it was the turning point that allowed me to listen to where the stress was coming from and start to heal the parts of me that were pained.

Acknowledging and listening to my feelings went a long way to releasing the built up stress in my body; but what astounded me was that at the end of this meditation program I could see that it had literally taken years off my face within days. I felt like I had discovered the fountain of youth! The stress had left my face and I looked like a younger, fresher version of myself; but beyond that I felt more calm and peaceful than I could ever remember.

The old saying that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it, was ringing true. I believed I was no longer a victim to my thoughts and emotions and no longer needed to follow them down the well-worn path to the pit of depression.

The transformation I experienced felt like it had reignited my life force. While there was no single ‘silver bullet’ solution to lowering my stress levels, the realisation that I could take back control of my life from the stress I had lived with for so long was like a light going on in my head. The deep breathing and meditation were transformational. I now had some tools that I could use to help me feel better and cope with situations in a calmer way. My quality of life was changing internally and that was showing up in the way I felt and my overall health.

Prior to going to India I was suffering from built up internal stress as well as the additional physical stress caused by over-indulgence with the wrong foods; too much sugar and way too much alcohol. So I knew that when I returned to my real life and its every day stresses that if I wanted a different result, I needed to change the way I managed the internal stress and my use of lifestyle indulgences for short term relief.

I also had to find a way to stop stress fast and not let it build up, if I was going to find a way to live a better life.

My quality of life and my health depended on my making real and lasting changes, so my aim was to create a lifestyle that would allow me to maintain a high level of energy, feel peaceful in myself and look as healthy and vital as I could.

I needed a daily approach that ensured my stress levels remained low and I could enjoy my life, instead of just struggling to get through it.

While I had started to make many changes, one of the most important issues I needed to conquer was my diet, and address the way I either chose to nurture or ‘torture’ my body as a means of managing daily stress!

I had worked as a chef years before while I waited for my career in fashion to take off, so cooking good food was never an issue – it was what I chose to snack on, binge on and overindulge in that had become a problem. Real change is rarely without challenge and I would have loved someone to provide me with a formula or a roadmap on how to move forward, but I kept going until over time I discovered and adapted my own de-stress techniques to support my health and lower my stress levels. This formula consists of three elements:




For me this has become a life-long practice that I continue to use daily to raise my energy, look after my body and manage the stress that comes with day-to-day living. It is the source of energy that allows me to do the things I want to do, to maintain calm in the face of stressful situations and to live peacefully with myself and others. For over twenty years I have shared my expertise with organisations and people across the global community; supporting them to de-stress and age less; and to look and feel their best.

It has inspired me to share and write books on how to maintain younger looking skin naturally and to create the television program, FACE LIFTING FOOD and the FACE LIFTING FOOD APP; which shows people how to keep skin healthy and younger looking with vitamin rich power foods, while lowering their stress levels naturally. The TV show is now shown in more than 25 countries worldwide and also used in Universities throughout the USA and Canada as the go-to educative resource on how to sustain healthy, vital looking skin without invasive practises or chemicals.

On reflection, what worked for me was a willingness to change a few small behaviours and repeat them regularly, until one day I literally woke up and realised that I wasn’t as stressed or as pained, and that into the bargain I looked healthier, younger and felt like I was operating day-to-day with more energy and mental clarity. I have come to believe that we can’t hide from stress, but regardless of the situation that is causing us to experience ongoing stress, there are ways that we can deal with it. I freed myself from years of suffering from chronic stress, so I know from lived experience that it is possible to learn to live more joyfully and fully.

The exciting part is that we all have access to some of the most effective tools to deal with and reduce stress naturally, and in the process age less.

Many of these techniques are designed to stop stress fast and can be practised where ever you are, so you reduce the immediate onset of stressful thoughts and feelings. Others require a daily approach to set you up for the long term benefits of living your best life free from chronic stress.

To de-stress and age less we have to work with the mind and the body and the best way to do this is to practise daily de-stress techniques. Please keep in mind that this book is not a replacement for getting help in the form of counselling or seeing a psychologist or medical professional if you are experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety or depression. Nor is it a total life solution to managing stress. It is a compilation of techniques that helped me to reduce my own stress levels, feel calmer on a daily basis and look healthier.

So if at any time you feel as though you need support or just want to talk to someone, make sure you reach out and get the help you need. There are services in most countries that operate 24/7 with amazing, compassionate people at the end of the phone ready to listen. (Please note: if you are being treated for any symptoms of extreme stress please consult with your physician before undertaking the GL De-Stress & Age Less method.) I wish you only the best on your journey to live peacefully and with joy in the midst of life’s challenges!

With that in mind the best advice I can offer is to breathe deeply, eat well and live happily!

Gregory Landsman

Buy the Book: ~ Amazon UK ~ Walmart
B&N ~ Book Depository ~ BAM ~ IndieBound
Add to Goodreads


Check Out The Entire 10 Years Younger Series:

The complete solution to PREMATURE AGING. The simple, effective, science-based methods in these three books give everyone the opportunity to achieve younger, healthier looking skin at any age…for next to nothing!
  • Get your skin back on track after the holidays with the most powerful anti-aging ingredients found in everyday foods.
  • Fulfill a new years resolution to look your best self at every age with simple effective methods to achieve younger, healthier looking skin that will take years off the face.
  • Spend some time nurturing yourself and take years off your face for next to nothing.
  • This new year get the same results as expensive cremes without having to leave your kitchen.

Each book stands alone, focusing on a different method to achieving younger looking skin i.e. Face Value - DIY topical treatments; Face Fitness - facial exercise; and Face Food - anti-aging foods). Together they represent the ultimate guide to younger, healthier and more vital looking skin at any age.

 “With knowledge and know how we can counteract and prevent premature aging, as small changes make a big difference to the way we age over time.”
Gregory Landsman

To receive a free copy of Gregory’s e-book, STOP SKIN AGING PREMATURELY, which includes a list of the most powerful cortisol lowering foods go to:

Meet the Author:

Gregory Landsman is one of the most noted global beauty and wellness experts in the world, a best selling author of nine books, and a TV host who specializes in using food to take years off the face naturally.

Having worked in the beauty industry for 30+ years Gregory believes that how we age is 100% controllable. His natural methods are used globally by models, shown in universities and recommended by doctors. The key to his success can be found in his authentic approach to delivering science-based and accessible solutions to reduce stress (de-stress) and look younger (age less) at any age.

His latest book, Stop Stress Fast, reveals how to use the power of stress reducing foods and your own breath to lower stress quickly and naturally, while removing the aging impacts of stress from the face. Often referred to as ‘The Beauty Advisor’, Gregory’s books and global TV program Face Lifting Food show viewers how to create quick skin-boosting meals and powerful skin treatments using everyday foods to achieve younger, healthier looking skin at any age.

Gregory is a strong voice for inclusion. His book, Faith Lifting Prayers is a celebration of humanity and captures his journey of extremes; from Apartheid South Africa to working at the height of the fashion industry, and his fundamental discovery that regardless of what we do, how we look cannot be separated from how we feel. This is why all of his books, even those about looking younger, all feature his own quotes and philosophy about the importance of feeling good in our skin. 
His book A Lifetime of BEAUTY also shares messages for early teens and middle years about embracing our differences and our individuality; finding happiness; and standing strong in a world that often judges us for the way we look. This book is endorsed for inclusion in the education system.

connect with the author:  website ~ podcast ~ goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Feb 1 – Splashes of Joy – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 2 –Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight / book excerpt / giveaway
Feb 3 – Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 4 – Lisa's Reading – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 8 – Books, Tea, Healthy Me – book spotlight / book excerpt / giveaway
Feb 9 – A Mama's Corner of the World – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 9 - Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 10 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – book spotlight / book excerpt / giveaway
Feb 16 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 17 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 19 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:

Win all 8 Gregory Landsman books worth $190. Open internationally until the 28th February.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway



Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Gregory Landsman / Self help books / Books from South Africa

Monday, 15 February 2021

Void Fate by Suren G Hakobyan + #FreeBook

Void Fate by Suren G Hakobyan
Self published in May 2020.

Amazon UK (Free) / (Free)

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An extraordinary psychological fantasy thriller about five friends who wake up to a deserted, sunless Earth.

Empty streets are littered with stalled-out cars, buses, and motorcycles. A sunless and moonless sky is covered with an enormous barrier that prevents any view of the heavens.
Nothing stirs. The air is oppressive and there is no wind, not even the softest breeze.

It was supposed to be a typical day for the five friends, but they wake up to discover that they are left alone on earth. The world that they knew is gone. All that is left is silence, pervasive, absolute silence.

What happened while they slept? Are they the only ones left? As the theories start to fly, and their imaginations run wild, they wonder if they are still on Earth at all, possibly abducted by aliens, trapped in a simulation, or claimed by the afterlife.

Aram is the only one who can see deep into the silent world. That's why, from the very beginning, he starts to look for a way out of this new reality. If he can convince his friends to stay focused, as the whispers begin, and fight against the evil of the silent world, the fog-shaped beings that wander the empty streets, they may stand a chance.

If not, the only thing that lies ahead is the fate of the void.

I snapped up Void Fate as soon as I saw review copies on NetGalley because of its Armenian authorship and setting - perfect for my WorldReads project. However, despite the synopsis stating this novel is a fantasy thriller, its creepy cover art suggested a horror story to me, so it took a while for me to pluck up the courage to actually open the book. I should have trusted words over images. Void Fate is definitely not a horror book. That said, Hakobyan manages to create and maintain a horribly unsettling atmosphere which permeates every page. I started to imagine fog clouds beginning to form in my peripheral vision as I read, and I certainly wouldn't recommend this as a book for bedtime - unless you need to stay awake feverishly reading all night.

Void Fate tells the story of a splintering group of male friends, losing their trust in each other as they fight to survive in a surreal, silent world. The five are nicely defined as characters and I could believe in their reactions and interactions. My main problem with the story is its disappointing female representation. The two women only seemed to be included to provide sexual relief for one male character. There's no attempt at diversity either. Where Void Fate succeeded for me however is in Hakobyan's presentation of Yerevan city, cleansed of practically every living thing. He doesn't dwell on lengthy descriptions, yet I could clearly envisage every aspect of this eerie setting and that made Void Fate an impactful read.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Suren G Hakobyan / Thrillers / Books from Armenia