Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Summer with the Enemy by Shahla Ujayli

Summer with the Enemy by Shahla Ujayli
English language translation by Michelle Hartman published by Interlink on the 1st April 2021.

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An Intergenerational tale of life and love seen through the eyes of three women from Raqqa

The western popular imagination about the now devastated city of Raqqa, Syria is filled with static and clichéd images of the Arab world. On the news, Raqqa looks like a dusty and abandoned desert village overrun by ISIS and other brands of Islamic fundamentalists, making its desperate, impoverished people yearn to flee at all costs. In the Arab popular imagination, the image of Raqqa is not much different--this ancient city, nestled along the Euphrates river in northeastern Syria, is typically thought of by Arabs as a remote Bedouin outpost, far removed from the nearest large metropolis, Aleppo.

People's real lives, however, are always more complex. Nothing could help bring these real and complex histories to more widespread attention than Shahla Ujalyli's brilliant new novel, Summer with the Enemy. This novel is a compelling tale that follows the charming, if at times difficult, everyday life of three women--Lamis, her mother Najwa, and her grandmother Karma - and all of the complexities of their relationships with each other, their extended family, and the wider social worlds they inhabit. The diversity of life in Syria, especially Raqqa, is on display throughout this book, and the stories told in its seven chapters move back and forth between time and place, with attention to the intimate details of lives and relationships, and with an eye to the larger historical and political contexts in which they live.

An intergenerational novel, Summer with the Enemy traces the lives of these women not only in Raqqa where the bulk of the novel is set, but also in the places their families lived before -- Turkey, Jerusalem, Aleppo and Damascus. It reminds us that Syria and Syrians have never been isolated from the world, and that indeed the lives of people stretched far beyond the confines of Raqqa's city limits, long before the online world existed.

Summer With The Enemy is the second of Shahla Ujayli's novels I have read after A Sky So Close To Us a couple of years ago. I did struggle with that one so wanted to try another of her books, but unfortunately found Summer With The Enemy quite hard work to get through as well. On the face of it, this novel should be right up my street: it's a multi-generational tale focusing on women's lives, it comprises historical and contemporary storylines, and it enables readers to understand a very different Syria from the ruined hell of today's news reports. While Lamis is a Syrian refugee now in Cogne, Germany, this isn't a typical refugee novel so I appreciated its wider scope. However I struggled with its rather dry style. Even when Lamis was not the central character, the writing seemed still to be in her voice and there was too much telling and reeling off information for my tastes. I didn't actually give up reading, although I was tempted several times during the second half because there were scenes that captured my interest and imagination, but overall I would have liked more energy and a deeper connection to the surrounding characters.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Shahla Ujayli / Contemporary fiction / Books from Syria

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Down The Tubes by Kate Rigby

Down The Tubes by Kate Rigby
Self published in March 2011.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A hard-hitting novel based on the author's experience of working in the field of addictions.

It's the late 1980s and mother of four, Cheryl West, lands herself a job at a drugs project in London. But memories of her old life are never far away, especially when her surly daughter, Elaine, makes her unwelcome visits.

Meanwhile, Cheryl's estranged son, Michael aka Dodo is ironically having his life destroyed by drug addiction in his attempt to avoid painful memories of abuse. He goes from one chaotic situation to another, ending up on the streets and reaching rock bottom, until he is referred to a drurehabilitation centre in rural Hampshire where dark family secrets are uncovered.

They're each on a journey, but can there be reconciliation as well as rehabilitation?

Down The Tubes is the third of Kate Rigby's novels I read, after Far Cry From The Turquoise Room and Thalidomide Kid. I thought Down The Tubes had more in common with Far Cry in that it tells its story from the perspectives of a parent and their child, in this case Cheryl and her adult son Michael. Cheryl is such an interesting woman to get to know, especially in the 1980s context of this novel when an openly independent career woman would still have seemed unusual. I loved the way in which Rigby portrayed the fractured family left in Cheryl's wake and, as readers, we don't initially know to extent she could be considered responsible for this maternal 'failure' and how much of the blame is her internalised guilt. The job interview is such an accurate example of how women had to edit their personal lives in order to get rewarding employment and, too often, still do now.

I found it more difficult to connect with Michael although I appreciate how Rigby captures his complicated personality and fragile self-esteem. If you're as squeamish about needles as I am, there are a couple of drug use scenes you might want to read through your fingers, but it's absolutely worth doing so in order to read this powerful story of addiction. Rigby's former work in this area gives Down The Tubes a strong ring of authenticity and, while some of the theories and practices might have changed over the past forty years, her understanding of the psychology of addiction is still very relevant. I feel awkward saying I 'enjoyed' Down The Tubes because it seems to light a word for such a traumatic narrative, but I'm glad to have had this opportunity to read the book and I'm now looking forward to picking up its sequel, The Colour Of Wednesday.

Author Bio

Kate Rigby was born near Liverpool and now lives in the south west of England. She’s been writing for over forty years. She has been traditionally published, small press published and indie published. She realized her unhip credentials were mounting so she decided to write about it. Little Guide to Unhip was first published in 2010 and has since been updated.

However, she’s not completely unhip. Her punk novel, Fall Of The Flamingo Circus was published by Allison & Busby (1990) and by Villard (American hardback 1990). Skrev Press published her novels Seaview Terrace (2003), Sucka! (2004) and Break Point (2006) and other shorter work appeared in Skrev’s avant garde magazine during the noughties. Thalidomide Kid was published by Bewrite Books (2007). Her novel Savage To Savvy was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) Quarter-Finalist in 2012. Other novels of hers have received various Independent Author Awards, including Awesome Indie Awards and Chill With A Book Readers Awards. She has had other short stories published and shortlisted including Hard Workers, published in three different publications.
A shortened version of her blog as a tribute to David Bowie after his death was included in the book: ‘David Bowie: I Was There’ (Red Planet Books 2017).

She also writes poetry and is currently co-editing an anthology for other poets with disabilities and long term health problems. She also received a Southern Arts bursary for her novel Where A Shadow Played (now re-Kindled as Did You Whisper Back?). She has re-Kindled her backlist and is gradually getting her titles (back) into paperback.
Author Links

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Kate Rigby / Historical fiction / Books from England

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman + #FreeBook

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Published in America in 1915.

How I got this book:
Downloaded the ebook from Project Gutenberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An all-female society is discovered somewhere in the distant reaches of the earth by three male explorers who are now forced to re-examine their assumptions about women's roles in society.

Herland is the Goodreads Vegan Book Club book choice for April which is why I finally stopped procrastinating about reading this utopian feminist classic and downloaded a Project Gutenberg ebook. I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the story. It is somewhat dated in places with concepts such as 'negative eugenics' engendering a sense of unease, but I felt I could very happily have lived in Herland myself. Gilman has managed to upend our learned understanding of enforced gender roles, instead envisaging a single gendered country where all opportunities are open to everybody.

I liked how the three male characters, each such a stereotype, were used to illustrate the daftness of quite a lot of our society's customs - or those of a hundred years ago at least. I'm not sure if a Herland narrator would have had the same impact, especially to an audience whose mindsets would have been more likely in tune with those of Terry, Jeff or Van. If Gilman had written Herland today, I would have been upset at her telling this women's story through male eyes, but instead I'm taking it as a sign of just how far mainstream literature has progressed in the interim.

Gilman shows interesting foresight in several of her assumptions about what makes Herland such a successful community. Animal agriculture being discontinued in favour of a plantbased diet purely because of the inefficiency of feeding farmed animals far more than they provide by way of nutrition is an idea that I see frequently argued now, over a century since Herland was written. The Herland women also live with an eye firmly set to their community's future. Fruit and nut tree forests are widely planted and their educational emphasis is on how the next generation can build upon the successes of their mothers and grandmothers. Herland does not stagnate through chaining itself to outdated traditions and cultural practices.

If Herland was a male-centred book, I would quite expect it to have become a cult blueprint for alternative community bubbles across the Western world. I can see how many aspects of the Herland communal living ethos could benefit all people in the real world. Perhaps its time has now come?

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Charlotte Perkins Gilman / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Monday, 19 April 2021

The Many Deaths Of Cyan Wraithwate by Ramiro Perez de Pereda

The Many Deaths Of Cyan Wraithwate by Ramiro Perez de Pereda
Published by Darkwater Media Group in 2014.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook via Smashwords

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The good part about being immortal is that you cannot die. That is also the bad part. Brash, young, and markedly sociopathic, Cyan has the makings of a full army commander if he lives long enough to be promoted. But when a close brush with death breaks his resolve, he is rendered unable to lead his men, let alone leave his tent, for weeks. The tide starts to turn when his superiors send him a magical artifact that ensures he will not die on the battlefield. Unfortunately for Cyan, he soon learns that not dying can be worse than not living - a side effect of the artifact's magic turns more of his body to lifeless iron with each passing day. Knowing time is short before he becomes just another statue in a town square, he sets off on a quest to rid himself of his cursed immortality.

I've been stuck in a reading slump for the past couple of weeks, which is very unlike me, but fortunately I stumbled across this quirky fantasy quest novel on Smashwords which captured my attention. In a lot of ways, it follows the conventions of its genre, but what really made the story entertaining for me is our petulant anti-hero, Cyan, whose anger management issues lead him from one fatal disaster to the next. This is not a story where the daredevil hero valiantly escapes certain death in the nick of time. Cyan dies. Repeatedly and fairly horrifically although de Pereda's dry humour prevents the story from ever becoming too grim. I loved the portrayals of each magical dragon's shrine. Their similarities and differences were neatly described and I felt I understood each dragon's personality too. I'd recommend The Many Deaths Of Cyan Wraithwate as a light, entertaining read with a moral of being very careful about what you wish for and the importance of following instructions.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Ramiro Perez de Pereda / Fantasy fiction / Books from Cuba

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Cancer Awareness Multi-book Spotlight Tour


According to the National Cancer Institute, "In 2020, an estimated 1,806,590 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 606,520 people will die from the disease." It is impossible to meet someone who has not been touched by this disease in some manner, whether it be physically or emotionally.

There are many types of cancer--so many that each month of the year is dedicated to promoting awareness of a different type. Just as cancer comes in various forms, it touches different people in various ways.

When a writer is touched by this disease, the natural reaction is to take pen to paper--or rather fingers to keyboard.

The results will surprise you! The stories are as diverse as the disease.

During the month of April, here at iRead Book Tours, we are featuring some tremendous titles written by or inspired by cancer survivors!

AGAIN: Surviving Cancer Twice with Love and Lists by Christine Shields-Corrigan
Book TitleAgain: Surviving Cancer Twice with Love and Lists
Author:  Christine Shields Corrigan
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18+), 256 pages
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher:  Koehler Books
Release date:  Oct 2020
Formats Available for review: print-softback (USA and Canada), ebook (
mobi file (for Kindle), gifted Kindle copy, PDF, NetGalley download)
Tour dates:  May 10 to May 28, 2021
Content Rating:  PG-13. My book has some profanity and one non-explicit sex scene with my husband.

"This no-nonsense debut memoir recalls Corrigan's two-time battle with cancer and takes a pragmatic approach toward guiding other patients. Candid, sagacious writing on illness and adaptation." --Kirkus Reviews
A breast cancer diagnosis at forty-nine forces Christine Shields Corrigan, a wife, mom, and meticulous list-maker, to confront her deepest fears of illness, death, and loss of control as she struggles to face cancer again. From the discovery of a “junky” cyst, to chemotherapy and surgery, sleepless nights filled with rosaries and “what ifs,” and shifting family dynamics, her adult experience mirrors her teen bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with one exception—she no longer has parents keeping her in the dark.

With the ghosts of cancer past hovering around her, Chris falls into the same overprotective traps her taciturn Irish-Catholic parents created, striving to keep her family’s life “normal,” when it is anything but, and soldiering through on her own, until a neighbor’s unexpected advice and gift move her to accept others’ help. With fierce honesty, poignant reflection, and good humor, Chris shares a journey filled with sorrow, grace, forgiveness, and resilience, as she winds her way through cancer for the second time. Again offers practical guidance and hope to individuals that they have the strength to forge a path beyond a diagnosis.


FLYING AGAINST THE ODDS by Jean-Jacques Trochon
Book Title:  FLYING AGAINST THE ODDS: One Man's Journey to New Ways of Healing by Jean-Jacques Trochon with Heather Whitehall-Trochon
CategoryAdult Non-Fiction (18+),  249 pages
Genre:  Memoir
PublisherIkhaya Publishing
Release date:   November 2020
Format available for review:  print (Internationally), ebook (mobi, epub)
Tour dates: May 17 to June 4, 2021
Content Rating:  G. Memoir for General Audience.

Author Jean-Jacques Trochon

Jean-Jacque (JJ) had a devastating problem. At age fifty-one, he was diagnosed with stage four cancer and given three years to live. Rather than accept that outcome, JJ did what he always does: he set out to find a solution. Desiring to look beyond traditional treatments and their often harmful side effects, he put his unconventionally wired mind to work. JJ was relentless as he investigated alternative therapies and pursued global trailblazers in cancer research. Moving from the role of patient to patient-researcher, he became a trailblazer in his own right, being sought after for his latest findings. Ultimately, JJ brought together the most innovative international minds at the Rethinking Cancer 2017 conference in Paris. Together, they found common ground, and they continue to create integrative, synergistic approaches to treatment. Today, almost a decade after his diagnosis, JJ has defied the odds and is cancer-free. Recently retired from his career as a commercial airline captain on the Airbus A380, he now devotes himself to sharing his ongoing research with scientists and patients. JJ’s story illustrates how looking at things differently often enables us to see them in a whole new light.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Book Depository
add to Goodreads

Book Title: Caroline & Mordecai the Gand by Jeff Gunhus
Category Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 186 pages
GenreFantasy, Literary
Publisher Seven Guns Press
Release date March 31, 2021
Format available for review:  print (USA), ebook (mobi for kindle, epub, PDF, audiobook (audible download)
Tour dates:  Mar 31 to May 11, 2021
Content Rating: PG: The language is G. There is one scene with the main character punches a bully resulting in a bloody nose. The emotional treatment of grief and the death of a loved one can be somewhat intense.

"Readers of all ages who look for ethereal, haunting stories of recovery and courage will find Caroline & Mordecai the Gand may hold the trappings of a fantasy adventure; but inside there is so much more. Make the right decision, to read this!" - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

"Caroline’s story is profoundly sad, and yet hopeful, magical, and yet rooted in reality. There is magic, mystery, and daring adventure." - BooksCoffee
Author Jeff GunhusJeff Gunhus
This novella was written by USA Today bestselling author Jeff Gunhus after he received a devastating diagnosis of state 3 cancer. The story is a message to his five children on how to deal with grief and a plea for them to grasp onto joy and love even in the darkest of times.

Caroline loses her spark. It takes a great adventure for her to find it again.

Caroline loses her father in a car accident for which she feels responsible. Consumed by grief, she has a difficult time readjusting to a world that has changed so dramatically for her. On the anniversary of her father’s death, a strange window opens in the middle of the small lake behind her house. She climbs up an old oak to peer inside, but falls out of the tree and discovers that the window also serves as a door into a different world.

Enter Mordecai the Gand, a mysterious traveler who befriends Caroline and promises to help her find a way back home since the window she fell through has disappeared. The two set out on a series of adventures that include visiting a tree village populated by a tribe known for eating travelers, running into a witch under a spell of her own making, hiding in a cave with a dragon encased in a wall of ice (prone to melting by campfire), all the while being pursued by a mysterious entity call the Creach which promises to devour Caroline and trap her in an eternity of despair.

As they navigate these adventures and this new world, Caroline slowly discovers that she is meant to help each of the characters she meets. As she battles internally whether to stay or return home to the sadness and grief waiting for her there, she must regain perspective and open her heart to the act of caring and to the joy of love itself. In the end, she must demonstrate great courage, loyalty, and caring as the plot unfolds, becoming the active hero of her own story.

Buy the Book:
Add the Goodreads

MARVELLOUS MACEY by Caitlin Bangsund
Book Title:  Marvellous Macey, The Delightful Days by Caitlin Bangsund
CategoryChildren's Fiction (Ages 3-8),  40 pages
GenreChildren's Picture Book
PublisherCaitlin E. Bangsund
Release date:   March 2021
Format available for review:  print, ebook (PDF)
Will send print books out:  USA and Canada
Tour dates: Mar 1 to mar 28, 2021
Content Rating:  G. This children's book is for everyone.

Author Caitlin Bangsund you va va voom? Do you light up the room? Marvellous Macey does! She may not quite fit the mould, but she is living delightful days. Embrace Macey's world of imagination and ability to love and accept everyone. Life may not be perfect and some things might be hard, but Macey shows us how to live in the moment and find the delight! Be inspired by Macey to make everyday the BEST day.

Caitlin Bangsund is the author of Marvellous Macey, The Delightful Days. It is the first in a series based on true life. Caitlin knows the trial and trauma of childhood cancer, childhood disability, and the fear of almost losing her daughter — the star of the series — Macey. She encourages readers to look for the treasures that hide in the rubble and gloom. Life is beautiful chaos and her message is to press on and conquer. Read her stories and help create a world that is full of kindness and acceptance.


Book Title:  MC Plays Hide and Seek: An Empowering Story for Healthy Children Who Care About a Person Living with Cancer by Eva Grayzel
CategoryChildren's Fiction (Ages 3-7),  64 pages
Genre:  Children's Picture Book
PublisherMascot Books
Release date:   Jan 5, 2021
Format available for review:  print (USA), pdf
Tour dates: Jan 5 to Feb 1, 2021
Content Rating:  G for everyone.

When asked about her motivation for writing her children's picture book about cancer, author Eva Grayzel explains:

My children were 5 and 7 when I was diagnosed with stage IV oral cancer. It’s a disease that cannot be hidden under clothing. My caregivers were so consumed with me, we didn’t addressthe feelings of our children. I regret not seeking professional attention for them during that time, but we didn’t think of it. If my healthcare providers had recommended it, we would have followed through. 
Since my voice was compromised during treatment, finding a book about understanding cancer would have been an easy solution. However, I could not find one to help start the conversation with our children.
Months after my recovery, my daughter still wouldn’t kiss me. She was intuitive, afraid of losing me and didn’t want to commit to another day of loving me. My son was shopping  with his grandma for a birthday card and he found a Get Well card. “Let’s buy this for Mom.” Grandma had to tell him that I wasn’t sick anymore.
When I reached my 10 year cancer-free anniversary, I had to mark it. There was no better way than filling the void for a children’s book to minimize fear and promote dialogue about cancer. ‘M.C. Plays Hide & Seek’ emphasizes feelings children experience and ways to address their emotions in a healthy, comfortable way. It’s everything I wished I had for my children. And, I hope it will be everything you need for yours.


Tour Schedule:

Apr 5 – Cover Lover Book Review – books spotlight
Apr 6 – Man of la Book - A Bookish Blog – books spotlight
Apr 7 – Lamon Reviews – books spotlight
Apr 8 – Rockin' Book Reviews – books spotlight
Apr 8 - Thoughts in Progress – books spotlight
Apr 13 – Books for Books – books spotlight
Apr 13 - Gina Rae Mitchell - books spotlight
Apr 14 – Literary Flits – books spotlight
Apr 15 – A Mama's Corner of the World – books spotlight
Apr 20 – The Adventures Of a Travelers Wife – books spotlight
Apr 21 – Lisa's Reading – books spotlight
Apr 22 – jayme_reads – books spotlight
Apr 23 -  Splashes of Joy – books spotlight
Apr 27 – Sefina Hawke's Books – books spotlight
Apr 28 – Locks, Hooks and Books – books spotlight
Apr 30 – Kam's Place – books spotlight



Monday, 12 April 2021

Come, Thou Almighty by FKAHerSweetness

Come, Thou Almighty by FKAHerSweetness
Self published in installments from January to March 2021.

How I got this book:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Come, Thou Almighty is a fan fiction novella I discovered by supporting talented author FKAHERSweetness on Ko-Fi. I understand the main characters are inspired by the television series Hannibal, but I haven't yet watched any of that so I can't comment on how closely or distantly they resemble their screen counterparts. I do know that Come, Thou Almighty is set in an alternative reality with a self-contained storyline so I didn't miss out at all (I don't think) for reading this work in isolation.

I love FKAHS' prose style which is beautifully flowery and thoughtful in a way that perfectly suited the deeply traditional, monastic setting of the story. Elements of the tale reminded me of the Gormenghast reality with its rigid structures and rituals, reinforced over generations of faithful repetitions. Come, Thou Almighty is set within a closed community who live around a sumptuous cathedral, tunnelled into a mountain. I don't think I've ever read a setting quite as unique as this and I was entranced by it. 

At the centre, is sixteen-year-old Will, a boy destined to become the Godsmouth on his seventeenth birthday and to spend the rest of his solitary life channelling the word of God to his people. It's a cruelly hugh responsibility to place on such young shoulders and I could completely empathise with Will's reluctance to embrace his destiny any sooner than he absolutely must. Hannibal Lecter's character arrives as a young trainee physician, only a few years older than Will. Hannibal really doesn't have any understanding of quite what he is walking into and I won't reveal too much about it either for fear of spoiling the intense atmospheres that FKAHS creates. Suffice to say that Come, Thou Almighty is as much a coming of age story for Hannibal as it is for Will. 

Despite my eclectic reading over the years, I have hardly read any fan fiction so surprised myself in just how much I enjoyed reading Come, Thou Almighty, especially as I couldn't reference the original characters or story. No doubt fans of Hannibal would benefit from a greater familiarity with the characters, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story on its own account. There are a few pretty graphic sex scenes and a scene of grim violence, as well as moments of real poignance. I'm delighted to have discovered both this impressive new-to-me author and, on the strength of this tale, to have a whole new genre of fiction to explore.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by FKAHerSweetness / Fan fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 11 April 2021

It's A Mad World by Susie Kelly

It's A Mad World: Travels Through a Muddled Life by Susie Kelly
Published by Blackbird Books on the 17th February 2021.

Unlike her daredevil husband, Susie Kelly is afraid of water, elevators, heights, skiing and flying upside down and she hates being in the spotlight. 

No matter how hard she tries, things seem to go wrong more often than they go right. Fortunately she can see the funny side of most things, even her cancer diagnosis. However, snoring transforms her from a sweet little thing into a pitiless monster.   

These often funny and sometimes poignant tales of travels through Susie’s muddled life confirm that, as Simon Reeve writes in his autobiography, Step by Step, ‘…it is always worth remembering that some of the most memorable times can happen when things go a bit wrong.’ 

If you enjoy collections of funny, poignant true stories, you'll love this.

Meet the author
Born a Londoner, Susie Kelly spent most of the first 25 years of her life in Kenya. She now lives in south-west France with her husband and assorted animals. She believes that her explosive temper is a legacy from her Irish-American grandfather, but has no idea who to blame for her incompetence as a housewife. Still, she’s very kind to animals, small children and elderly people. Susie particularly enjoys exploring the road less travelled, discovering the lives and events of lesser-known places.

Prior to publishing with Blackbird, Susie was with Transworld who sold over 50,000 of her titles in the UK.  Some of those are rights-reverted and are now available to readers worldwide for the first time. 25% of Susie’s royalties from The Valley of Heaven and Hell are shared equally between Cancer Research and Tower Hill Stables Sanctuary in Essex.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Susie Kelly / Biography and memoir / Books from England

Saturday, 10 April 2021

The Deadly Truth: A Dr Basil Willing Mystery by Helen McCloy

The Deadly Truth: A Dr Basil Willing Mystery by Helen McCloy
First published in 1941. Republished by Agora Books on the 25th March 2021.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When psychologist Dr Basil Willing rents a cottage on Long Island for a vacation, he falls into the company of his landlady, Claudia Bethune and her friends.

But when Claudia throws a last minute dinner party with a special cocktail, Basil’s relaxing holiday takes a turn. It seems Claudia’s drink du jour has in fact been laced with a new truth serum. And as secrets begin to spill, everyone is on edge.

When morning comes, it seems there are some lasting effects to the night’s imbibing: the hostess herself is found dead at the table.

Now, all thoughts of holiday set aside, Dr Willing finds himself at the heart of the murder case. Will he be able to use his skills to untangle the lies from the truth and bring the killer to justice?

The Deadly Truth is the third in Helen McCloy's 'Dr Basil Willing' series of golden age mysteries. It took me a little while to really get immersed in this story but, once I did, I appreciated the intricacies of the plotting. I loved the Long Island setting too, especially the isolated Blessingbourne country house setting. The weekend party gathering brings together a disparate group of deftly portrayed characters all of whom profess to be friends, but whose underlying grievances come to the fore as Claudia Bethune's party rapidly descends into chaos. McCloy had a wonderful talent for writing these crime stories, liberally sprinkling genuine clues and plausible red herrings throughout each chapter. Her central character, Dr Willing, has a greater personal depth than is often the case with classic detective novels, and his bringing of psychological expertise to each case has kept me pleasantly intrigued throughout all three books in this series so far. I'm already looking forward to a fourth!

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Helen McCloy / Crime fiction / Books from America

Monday, 5 April 2021

#WorldReads - Five Books from Bulgaria

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read by authors from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post. From May 2016 until March 2020, WorldReads was hosted on my Stephanie Jane blog. From April 2020 onwards it is right here on Literary Flits
Click the cover images to visit their Literary Flits book review pages.

This month we are going to Bulgaria!

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

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

Africa: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Zimbabwe,

Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, United States of America,

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

Australasia: Australia, New Zealand,

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

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

Sunday, 4 April 2021

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayétu Moore

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayétu Moore
Published by Pushkin Press on the 25th March 2021.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A powerful and poignant memoir of survival and resistance by the critically acclaimed author of She Would Be King, about her family's dramatic escape from the Liberian Civil War, and how they were eventually reunited

My Ol' Ma says the best stories do not always end happily, but happiness will find its way in there somehow.

When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a party at home in Monrovia, Liberia. Yet all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, studying in faraway New York. Before they can be reunited, the Civil War breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking along dangerous roads to the relative safety of their ancestral village. Here they will hide until a remarkable rescue by a rebel soldier, who smuggles them across the border.

The Dragons, The Giant, The Women spans this heartbreaking journey into childhood, and Moore's years adjusting to life in the USA, where she discovers a new kind of danger, as a black woman and an immigrant. This is an unforgettable memoir of the search for home in the midst of political upheaval, and an intimate story about the tenacious power of love and family.

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women begins by showing us Liberia through the eyes of five-year-old Wayétu. I loved this first section the best because it is so vividly recollected and described, and Moore manages to perfectly capture a young child's understanding of the world around her. She weaves together imaginative ideas from the stories her grandmother tells and tries to use these images to make sense of the encroaching civil war chaos. The family's long trek to escape the fighting is heartbreaking as is Wayétu's longing for her absent mother. 

Moore then goes on to portray her experiences as a Blackgirl in Texas once her immediate family is given permission to immigrate to America, sadly having to leave her grandmother behind in Liberia. I cannot begin to imagine the intensity of the culture shock the family went through. That they escaped at all, and were reunited with Wayétu's mother is miraculous. As Moore explains it though, possibly due to her youth at the time of their escape, her sense of dislocation from her homeland is more of an influence on her adult life than the trauma from which she is expected to suffer. 

I enjoyed reading this memoir, especially Moore's prose style which I felt suited the work well. She puts her ideas across in an accessible way which was useful for me particularly in understanding the complexities of Liberia's civil war. I am now keen to also read Moore's novel, She Would Be King.

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Books by Wayétu Moore / Biography and memoir / Books from Liberia

Friday, 2 April 2021

Willow Weeps by Louise Worthington

Willow Weeps by Louise Worthington
Published by Red Escape Publishing on the 1st March 2021.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A secret is a lie in the making.

A divorcee and his young daughter. 
The promise of a new life - together as a family in a flash apartment in a historic building. 
A fresh start – or the key to a nightmare?
Who will Willow believe – a young offender, or the love of her life?

Page-turning and emotional, Willow Weeps is the gripping new psychological suspense novel from the author of the bestseller, Rachel's Garden.

I was impressed with Louise Worthington's previous novel, Distorted Days, so jumped at the chance of a review copy of Willow Weeps. I'm so glad I did! This psychological suspense thriller maintains an eerily unsettling atmosphere throughout its story, meaning I found it almost impossible to set the book aside. I had to know what was going to happen next!

I loved that I could never be completely sure how much of what Willow sees (and hears and smells) was also real to the people around her and how much was solely in her own head. Unreliable narrators are amongst my favourite characters, especially when stories are told from their unique perspectives. It can be a tricky point of view to portray, but Worthington absolutely nailed it for me in Willow Weeps. I could always empathise with Willow's situation and her decisions. All Worthington's characters are plausibly flawed so their emotional depth makes them interesting to read about. Even the ones I ended up really not liking - I don't want to say who in case it spoils plot surprises! - kept me intrigued and glued to the pages. 

The settings are intriguing too, particularly the repurposed former children's home which has been done up as luxury appartments. We had considered a new flat in a former hospital just a few years ago, but were concerned about echoes of the building's emotional history so this aspect rang very true for me. I did find myself getting lost at moments towards the end of the story and had to go back and reread pages to be sure what was happening. I think, as the tension ratchets up for Willow, it did for me too so I was breathlessly reading faster and faster. Too fast! Willow Weeps is not a book for bedtime because I think its excitement will keep readers wide awake!

Meet the Author

Louise Worthington is the author of six novels. She writes across genres - psychological fiction, horror and women's fiction. 

In June 2020 she signed with Bloodhound Books, leading crime and thriller publishers, for two psychological thrillers.

Louise's debut novel, Distorted Days, was described by Kirkus Review as 'a formidable work'. Her novella-in-flash was longlisted by Ellipsis Zine and many of her short stories and dark flash fiction are published in the UK and America.

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Books by Louise Worthington / Thrillers / Books from England

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Wide Awake by C H Clepitt

Wide Awake (Guild of Dream Warriors 3) by C H Clepitt
Self published on the 8th February 2020.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Smashwords

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After being forcibly retired from the police, Craig is at a loss. His injury means that he can’t work in security, and he never did like paperwork.

When a blast from his past offers him a mysterious job opportunity, his curiosity gets the better of him, but has he bitten off more than he can chew? 

Wide Awake is book 3 in the Guild of Dream Warriors series. 

Wide Awake follows on from the earlier Guild Of Dream Warriors novellas, My Dream Woman and The Night Knight. I hadn't realised it's been over two years since I read The Night Knight (having managed to miss Wide Awake's publication) so I was pleased that I could remember the overall story arc from brief prompts and mentions of previous events. Clepitt again switches POV so we follow this episode through the eyes of Craig, an injured policeman who is used to taking the lead and making decisions for everybody else. It was interesting to see how this led him into precarious situations in the dream world with which he is completely unfamiliar. I would have liked more description and details of several of the dream locations because I found myself struggling to envisage exactly what our protagonists encountered. Clepitt's characters were, as always, deftly portrayed through their dialogue though and her fast narrative pace means that this series never has a dull moment. A fun, escapist read!

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Books by C H Clepitt / Fantasy fiction / Books from England