Tuesday, 11 May 2021

My Pseudo College Experience (a memoir) by Jess Kimball


Join us for this tour from  May 4 to May 17, 2021!

Book Details:

Book TitleMy Pseudo College Experience (a memoir) by Jess Kimball
CategoryAdult Non-Fiction (18 +), 112 pages
Publisher:  Mascot
Release date:   May 2021
Content RatingPG

Book Description:

While most other high schoolers were trying to navigate college applications, Jess Kimball was moving abroad, alone. Her decision to focus on running a business instead of going to college changed her life, especially when she decided to audit classes at Dartmouth College. What resulted was the social experience of college, without the debt and anxiety, or a pseudo-college experience. Is college really a necessity for everyone? Are the financial burdens and anxiety worth it? Are you “missing out” if you choose a trade school or other career path, and can you get the “full college experience” without actually attending? Jess did—and she did it Ivy League style.

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Mascot ~ The Book Depository

Author Website
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Meet the Author:

Kimball’s work as a doula is a huge part of who she is. She works with families to find what works for them, being respectful of what they wish to do, while providing guidance and resources for each route they may be curious about taking. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, paddle-boarding, gardening, and being outdoors. She loves to travel and incorporates that into her work. She has worked with families in France and Hawaii and spends lots of her free time with her many animals and writing.

Connect with the Author:  website instagram
Tour Schedule:

May 4 –
Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight
May 4 - Sefina Hawke's Books – book spotlight
May 5 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight
May 6 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book spotlight
May 7 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight
May 10 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight
May 11 – Literary Flits – book spotlight
May 12 – A Mama's Corner of the World – book spotlight
May 13 – Pick a Good Book – book spotlight
May 14 – Splashes of Joy – book spotlight
May 17 – Westveil Publishing – book spotlight

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Jess Kimball / Biography and memoir / Books from America

Monday, 10 May 2021

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski + #Giveaway

The Midnight Lie
Marie Rutkoski
(The Midnight Lie, #1)
Publication date: May 11th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Romance, Young Adult

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, Marie Rutkoski’s The Midnight Lie is an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us―and the lies we tell ourselves.

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down, and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away, who whispers rumors that the High Kith possess magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Author Bio:

Marie Rutkoski is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for children and young adults, including The Winner's Curse. She holds a BA from The University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. She is a professor of English literature at Brooklyn College and lives in Brooklyn with her two sons and two cats. Her most recent book is The Midnight Lie, which will be published in March 2020.

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Books by Marie Rutkoski / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Death Drives an Audi by Kristian Bang Foss

Death Drives an Audi by Kristian Bang Foss
First published in Danish as Døden kører Audi by Gyldendal in 2012. English language translation by Caroline Waight published by Parthian Books on the 1st May 2021.

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kristian Bang Foss’s darkly comic, prize-winning road-novel satire sees two unlikely friends set out to defy the Danish welfare state – and Death himself – with both hilarious and tragic consequences.

Life is looking pretty bleak for Asger. After a fiasco at work finds him unceremoniously booted from both his advertising job and his family home, he finds himself the carer of Waldemar, arguably Denmark’s sickest man. Their initial days together in a Copenhagen ghetto only serve to pile on the hopelessness. But then Waldemar hatches a plan: fabled healer Torbi el Mekki offers a miracle cure to all who seek an audience. Only thing is, he’s in Morocco – over two thousand miles and another continent away. Piling into a beaten up Volkswagen, the two set off on a zany road trip across Europe towards a dubious salvation. But it soon seems they may have unwanted company, for on their tail is a pitch-black Audi...

I was disappointed to not have enjoyed this satirical novel more than I did. It's a very readable tale of two very different people bonding in unlikely circumstances and Foss, together with Waight's translation, does an amazing job of bringing the varied locations to life. His descriptions of the dismal social housing tower blocks in Stentofte was particularly vivid, making it easy to understand why the people who lived there were so unmotivated and despondent.

Neither Asger or Waldemar are typical literary heroes and Asger's initial self-centred attitude meant I didn't like him much, but his burgeoning friendship with Waldemar does redeem him to a certain extent. It is unusual for such a chronically ill character as Waldemar to take a leading role in this way and I liked seeing how he blossomed mentally once his dream of escaping Stentofte became a reality. I hope Foss' portrayal is realistic. The one character I felt was underused was Death himself. The mysterious setup is cleverly done, but I didn't think its early promise really came to fruition which was a shame.

Overall I enjoyed reading Death Drives An Audi. There are darkly humorous moments, although I didn't spot any 'hilarious consequences' as per the synopsis. I did however frequently feel as though I wasn't quite on the same page as Asger and Waldemar so much of their humour was probably lost on me. It was a bit like being the designated driver at a drunken party, hearing the same joke s everyone else, but not understanding why they have all dissolved into hysterics.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Kristian Bang Foss / Contemporary fiction / Books from Denmark

Saturday, 8 May 2021

At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop

At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop
First published in French as Frère d'âme in August 2018. English language translation by Anna Moschovakis published by Pushkin Press on the 11th November 2020.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alfa and Mademba are two of the many Senegalese soldiers fighting in the Great War. Together they climb dutifully out of their trenches to attack France's German enemies whenever the whistle blows, until Mademba is wounded, and dies in a shell hole with his belly torn open. 

Without his more-than-brother, Alfa is alone and lost amidst the savagery of the conflict. He devotes himself to the war, to violence and death, but soon begins to frighten even his own comrades in arms. How far will Alfa go to make amends to his dead friend? 

At Night All Blood is Black is a hypnotic, heartbreaking rendering of a mind hurtling towards madness. 

At Night All Blood Is Black is a powerful historical fiction novel set in the French trenches of World War One. Written from the perspective of Senegalese soldier, Alfa, it vividly depicts this man's rapidly declining mental health in the aftermath of witnessing his best friend's drawn out and agonising death in No Man's Land. I feel that this novel would appeal to readers of Pat Barker's 'Regeneration' trilogy in its understanding and portrayal of how the horrific Great War conditions drove so many soldiers to the brink of insanity and, in this case, far beyond that line.

I found several scenes difficult to read because of the grim violence they describe. The path Alfa chooses to follow is extreme, yet makes perfect sense when viewed from the disturbed turmoil of his mind. What particularly interested me too was how his fellow surviving soldiers initially applauded and encouraged his actions. Diop's first-person narration has an enthralling, poetic quality which I found compelling. Despite his monstrous actions, Alfa always came across to me as a broken man, not as the evil demon his comrades see.

It is rare to find a Great War novel written from a non-white point of view - a timely reminder of the thousands of African and Asian soldiers who were conscripted into European-led armies only to have their sacrifices downplayed and overlooked afterwards. I am grateful to Pushkin Press for translating At Night All Blood Is Black into English because my French isn't strong enough to have fully appreciated the work in its original language.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by David Diop / War fiction / Books from Senegal

Friday, 7 May 2021

White Eye Of The Needle by Chris Campbell & Sandra Evans

White Eye Of The Needle by Chris Campbell, illustrated by Sandra Evans
Published by The Choir Press on the 12th April 2021.
Included in my Vegan Bookshop

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

White Eye of the Needle is the second collection of poems by Chris Campbell, following his book Bread Rolls and Dresden, published by The Choir Press in 2013. This collection, written over six years, looks at the riches of life, its adventures and patterns. These 25 poems are united in their aim to challenge comforts and hardships as they cover themes of love, family and hope. 

Observational in tone, the poems explore connections with those around us, old and new, from loved ones to strangers who pass by. They focus on human - and sometimes animal - nature, special moments, relationships over time, and detail the strength and beauty of those ties, when so much can feel out of our hands. 

The book also touches on romance, marriage, the birth of a nephew, passing of a grandad, and recent experiences through lockdown and restrictions, as it seeks to find meaning in places, at a time when we've all been forced to slow down and reflect. The collection was put together in Nottingham and includes pieces from the author's time in Bristol, London, Swansea, Glasgow and Gloucestershire, plus visits abroad including a honeymoon in Madagascar and trips to Tignes, France. 

For a relatively compact collection, White Eye Of The Needle surprised me with its breadth of themes and emotions. The twenty-five poems, all composed during the past six years, tell a story that was very familiar to me and, I imagine, will strike a chord with many other readers: of a life where the travel experiences which were vitally important are suddenly and drastically curtailed by Covid restrictions, yet new joys are found in the everyday moments that previously had been overlooked. I loved Campbell's evocations of sun-drenched overseas locations, especially those I could recognise from my own wanderings. Evans' line-drawn illustrations perfectly capture the moods and memories to which the poems allude making White Eye Of The Needle a truly collaborative work. The poems and the illustrations would stand individually, but their presence together gives the collection an extra lift which I found particularly satisfying.

About The Author
Chris Campbell is a former journalist who worked at titles including the Daily Express, South Wales Evening Post, Gloucestershire Echo and Gloucester Citizen. Born in Dublin, Chris grew up in Warwickshire and later Gloucestershire. He was awarded an MA in Journalism from Kingston University, after graduating from the University of Exeter in Economic and Political Development with a year's study in Uppsala, Sweden. Chris has a passion for poetry and has judged young writer competitions in Swansea. He is former President of the Rotary Club of Swansea Bay where he spent time during two-and-a-half years in the city. He met the illustrator of White Eye of the Needle, Sandra Evans, while working at the South Wales Evening Post. Chris also loves to travel, including skiing in France and met his wife on a trip to Tignes. The Eye of the Needle is a rock formation and landmark at the resort, the inspiration behind the book's title. Poems also reference a recent honeymoon in Madagascar. Chris now works in PR and currently lives with his wife in Nottingham.

White Eye of the Needle has been illustrated by Sandra Evans, a graphic designer and illustrator in Swansea Bay, who has more than 20 years' experience in the media industry. Sandra was creative designer at the South Wales Evening Post and takes inspiration from the nature around her, with a passion for wildlife and the environment and living a vegan lifestyle.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Chris Campbell and Sandra Evans / Poetry / Books from Ireland and Wales

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Farewell My Herring by L C Tyler

Farewell My Herring by L C Tyler
Published by Allison And Busby on the 22nd April 2021.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ethelred Tressider and his agent Elsie Thirkettle have been invited to lecture on a creative writing course at Fell Hall, a remote location in the heart of ragged countryside that even sheep are keen to shun. While Ethelred’s success as a writer is distinctly average, Elsie sees this as an opportunity to scout for new, hopefully more lucrative, talent. But heavy snow falls overnight, trapping those early arrivals inside, and tensions are quick to emerge between the assembled group.

When one of their number goes missing, Ethelred leads a search party and makes a gruesome discovery. With no phone signal and no hope of summoning the police, can Ethelred and Elsie identify the killer among them before one of them is next?

People who believe that series should be read in order had better look away from this review because I've managed to read the first Ethelred Hengist Tressider novel, The Herring Seller's Apprentice, and then jumped straight to this ninth installment, Farewell My Herring, leaving seven unread mysteries in between. That's an oversight I need to correct because Farewell My Herring reminded me just how much I enjoy L C Tyler's wit and humour. The insider sarcasm directed at writers and the publishing industry in general is also great fun, as is watching how Ethelred's imparted literary wisdom is reflected within the storyline.

Farewell My Herring is a cosy mystery set on a creative writing course at a suitably isolated historic farmhouse - one which swiftly imprisons all the characters when a heavy snowfall cuts off access to the outside world. And there's no mobile reception. Or internet access. There is, however, soon to be a dead body in the woodshed prompting Ethelred and Elsie to don their amateur detective hats. Chocolate obsessed Elsie is still my favourite character. As a literary agent, she has a sharp eye for a potential 15% yet always seems to be not quite so on the ball when it comes to important clues (and their whereabouts). I loved how this mystery unravelled. It's myriad herrings and potential scenarios reminded me of the classic film, Clue, and I can honestly say I was completely convinced by the wrong herring. I hope to demonstrate greater detection skills for my next Ethelred And Elsie mystery! 

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by L C Tyler / Crime fiction / Books from England

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

#WorldReads Five Books from Ethiopia

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 Ethiopia!

That's it for May's WorldReads from Ethiopia. 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 Ethiopian-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, Bulgaria, 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 June I will be highlighting five books by Cuban authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!

Monday, 3 May 2021

Little Brother by Ibrahima Balde and Amets Arzallus Antia

Little Brother: an odyssey to Europe by Ibrahima Balde and Amets Arzallus Antia 
First published in Basque as Miñan by Susa in 2019. English language translation by Timberlake Wertenbaker published by Scribe on the 15th April 2021.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heartbreaking and magnificent account of a poor and illiterate young West African’s odysssey.

Ibrahima, whose family live in a village in the West African country of Guinea, helps his father sell shoes at a street stall in the capital, Conakry. At the sudden death of his father, he becomes the head of the family and picks up various skills, always alone and away from home, although his dream is to be a truck driver in his country.

But when his little brother, Alhassane, suddenly disappears, heading for Europe in a bid to earn money for the family, Ibrahima leaves everything behind to try to find him and convince him to go back to their village and continue his education. In an epic journey, Ibrahima risks his life many times searching for his little brother.

Each waystation that Ibrahima passes through takes him to another world, with different customs, other languages, other landscapes, other currencies, and new challenges to overcome. His willpower is astonishing, and the friendship and generosity of strangers he encounters on the way help him to keep going.

After enduring many trials and tribulations, he learns of Alhassane’s fate. Unable to return home, he embarks on the journey to Europe himself.

Little Brother is a testimonial account that gives a voice, heart, and soul, and flesh and bones to the seemingly nameless masses of people struggling and dying, trying only to achieve a better life for themselves and their families.

Little Brother is a beautifully haunting account of Ibrahima Balde's lengthy journey in search of his brother, one which unintentionally led to him boarding an overcrowded boat from Algeria to Italy when he found himself unable to return home to his mother and sisters. What made this book such a unique voice in the genre of migrant memoirs is Basque poet Amets Arzallus Antia's prose style which I thought Timberlake Wertenbaker has so effectively captured in this English translation. Despite Balde's words having had to pass through two other minds and languages in order to reach me, I felt as though I was really listening to him speak as I read this book.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Ibrahima Balde and Amets Arzallus Antia / Biography and memoir / Books from Guinea and the Basque Country

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Sankofa: Born Equal Only by Beenie T Mel

Sankofa: Born Equal Only by Beenie T Mel
Published in America by the Independent Book Publishers Association on the 1st May 2021.

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

add to Goodreads

Sankofa: Born Equal Only is an Afrofuturism adventure that takes on gender injustice from the perspective of rival fraternal twins, Toomi and Ras, born to be the Guardians of Maat, the first Queen to rise to the throne in the kingdom of Axindar in a post-apocalyptic medieval Africa, where the future of our technology shapes the past of our time.

I loved this vivid and exciting fantasy adventure! Sankofa: Born Equal Only is set in a vastly different future Africa, one in which our present-day civilisation collapsed centuries previously. Strictly patriarchal societies live in warring Kingdoms which recall Medieval history, but their armies are strengthened by 'metalji' - a futuristic technology that seems to combine armour with living tissue and a hint of magical realism to create superior human and animal warriors. The symbolism of the Sankofa bird itself is an important theme of this novel. Its representation of looking backwards while moving forwards, making sure learning from the past influences the future, allows Mel to deeply explore ideas around colonialism, slavery and male supremacy while still delivering an utterly gripping story. It's a wonderful piece of work. Through reading Sankofa: Born Equal Only, I felt I was really seeing from a new perspective, yet never felt lectured. Mel's ideas are completely integral to his story and I thought they gave this novel a satisfying sense of authenticity.

What most amazed me though was how such depth could be imparted without ever dragging down the narrative pace. Sankofa: Born Equal Only keeps up a breathtaking speed throughout. The world is never fully explained, by which I mean readers aren't subjected to lengthy descriptions of augmented creatures. I still don't know, for example, exactly what a metallion looks like or how the pedals on horses work, but I do have a wonderfully powerful sense of Mel's imagined world as a whole. I could clearly envisage Axindar's impregnable walls, Meerakan's grim slave market, and Emma's home village. I was also moved by the intensity of Toomi and Ras's filial relationship and intrigued by their mystical connection to the future Queen, Maat. These are three memorable characters.

Sankofa: Born Equal Only is not an easy read. I found I had to consciously slow my more usual frenetic reading pace in order not to miss important details. It was easy to get caught up in the emotional aspects and overlook a disguised political affiliation between minor characters! There is a fair amount of rather grim violence too, from scenes of genocide, rape and enslavement in the early chapters to bloody Medieval-style battles later on. That said, even for a normally squeamish reader such as myself,  I never found myself unable to continue reading. In fact I was quite disappointed to reach the final page. I hope Mel is already writing the second book in this series. Sankofa: Born Equal Only did end in a satisfying place, but I am already keen to get started on its sequel!

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Beenie T Mel / Fantasy fiction / Books from Ethiopia

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Fleeced by FKAHerSweetness

Fleeced by FKAHerSweetness
Published on the 19th April 2021.

How I got this book:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fleeced is a 'Hannigram Short Story' which features the characters Will and Hannibal Lecter inspired by the TV series Hannibal, but in very different incarnations to that original series.

This is the second of FKA's fan fiction pieces I read - the first was Come, Thou Almighty - and I love how, although both stories feature the same central characters, FKA reimagines these people into very different situations. The mysterious Hannibal comes to Will's rescue, but in a way I totally didn't anticipate! Fleeced feels like a timeless fairytale with its Grimm-style rural setting and hints of magical realism. There's a lovely naivete about the story and I think it could suit a younger audience and be read aloud as a performance piece. A good escapist story for a rainy Bank Holiday weekend!

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Books by FKAHerSweetness / Fan fiction / Books from America