Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Dumplings Mean Family by Jennifer Shaw + Giveaway

Join Us for This Tour from November 15 to November 30

Book Details:

Book TitleDumplings Mean Family by Jennifer Shaw
Category Children's Non-Fiction (Ages 3-7), 32 pages
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher:  This Side Up LLC
Release Date: May 2021

Tour dates: November 15 to November 30
Content Rating:  G.

 

 

Book Description:
​​
Telly Award -winning artist Jennifer Shaw's new children's book, “Dumplings Mean Family,” is told from her son Ethan’s perspective as he shares what it was like to join their family after his adoption.

“When Ethan and his siblings are adopted from China to the United States, everything seems so strange and different. Their new American family doesn't even know how to make Chinese food! The children are worried. Will they ever get to eat their favorite meals again? For Ethan's family, embracing two cultures means learning to fold and pinch their way to dumplings that taste like home.”

Truly a family project, Jennifer’s oldest daughter, Rinnah, served as illustrator for this heartwarming book celebrating the truth that families can be strong and united when they commit to loving each other for who they truly are. As Ethan says, “We may be different in some ways, but we are one family!”

BUY THE BOOK:
Dumplings Mean Family
Amazon.com ~ Amazon UK

Meet the Author:
Jennifer Shaw is a Telly Award-winning singer/songwriter, author, speaker, and five-time Top 40 Billboard artist. Her work has been featured by Focus on the Family, Insight for Living, Family Life Today, Compassion International, Autism Speaks, and many more. Her book, “Life Not Typical: How Special Needs Parenting Changed My Faith and My Song,” has brought national attention to the issue of Sensory Processing Disorder. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, six busy kids, and two crazy dogs.

connect with the author: website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram
 
Tour Schedule:

Nov 15 –
Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 15 - Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Nov 16 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight / guest post / spotlight
Nov 17 – Splashes of Joy – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 18 – A Mama's Corner of the World – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 19 – Triquetra Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 22 – Kam's Place – book spotlight
Nov 23 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Nov 23 -
Captive Dreams Window - book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 24 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 24 - Westveil Publishing – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 26 – Pick a Good Book – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Nov 26 - Lisa's Reading – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 29 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 29 - The Phantom Paragrapher – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 30 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:

Win a signed copy of Dumplings Mean Family. Open to the USA only until the 7th December.

DUMPLINGS MEAN FAMILY Book Tour Giveaway

 


 

 

Etsy Find!
by Vegan Koala

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Books by Jennifer Shaw / Children's books / Books from America

Monday, 29 November 2021

The Living Christmas Tree by Kristin Sponaugle + Giveaway

 

Join Us for This Tour from November 26 to December 17

Book Details:

Book Title The Living Christmas Tree by Kristin Sponaugle
Category:  Children's Fiction (ages 3 to 7), 38 pages
Genre:  Children's Book
Publisher:  Mascot
Release date:   September 2021
Formats Available for Review: print-hardback USA, e-book (PDF)

Tour dates: November 26 to December 17
Content Rating:  G.  Suitable for everyone.

***** 2021 Family Choice Award Winner *****

Book Description:

During the day, the Miller family’s Christmas tree stands tall in their living room, sparkling with lights and ornaments. Little does the family know that their Christmas tree is anything but ordinary. Each evening, the magic of Christmas brings their tree to life—much to the delight of Hannah and William Miller. Follow along as Hannah and William experience the magic of Christmas in a whole new way.

Buy the Book:
Mascot
Amazon.com ~ Amazon UKB&N
Target ~ The Book Depository


Meet the Author:
Kristin Sponaugle was born in Butler, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Duquesne University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in health sciences and her master’s degree in physician assistant studies. Kristin had always dreamed of becoming an author, and made that dream a reality with her two published children’s books, The Princess Puppy and The Living Christmas Tree. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cross-stitching, and playing with her Maltese dog, Rosie. Kristin lives with her husband, daughter, and Rosie, and resides wherever the Air Force sends them.

Connect with the Author: website ~ facebook ~ instagram
 
Tour Schedule:

Nov 26 – Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting – book review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 26 - The Momma Spot – book review / giveaway
Nov 29 - Westveil Publishing – book review / guest post / giveaway
Nov 29 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 29 - Sefina Hawke's Books – book spotlight
Nov 29 -
My Bookish Bliss - book review / giveaway
Nov 30 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Nov 30 - Triquetra Reviews – book review / author interview / giveaway
Dec 1 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / author interview / spotlight
Dec 1 - Splashes of Joy – book review / giveaway
Dec 2 – @twilight_reader – book review
Dec 2 - The Phantom Paragrapher – book review / giveaway
Dec 3 -
Rockin' Book Reviews - book review / guest post / giveaway
Dec 3 – Books for Books – book review
Dec 6 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Dec 6 – Kam's Place – book review
Dec 7 - icefairy's Treasure Chest – book review / giveaway
Dec 8 – Reading is My Passion – book review
Dec 8 – fundinmental – book review / giveaway
Dec 9 – All Booked Up Reviews – Instagram – book review
Dec 9 - Older & Smarter? – book review / guest post / giveaway
Dec 10 – Sandra's Book Club – book review / giveaway
Dec 13 – Bigreadersite – book review / giveaway
Dec 14 – Captive Dreams Window – book review
Dec 14 - She Just Loves Books – book review / giveaway
Dec 15 – Pause for Tales – book review / giveaway
Dec 15 - The Adventures of a Travelers Wife – book review / guest post / giveaway
Dec 16 – Bound 4 Escape – book review / giveaway
Dec 16 - I'm Into Books – book review / giveaway
Dec 17 – Cover To Cover Café – book review

Enter the Giveaway:

Win a signed copy of The Living Christmas Tree (one winner/USA only) (ends Dec 24)

 THE LIVING CHRISTMAS TREE Book Tour Giveaway

 


 

Etsy Find!
by Luck and Luck

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Books by Kristin Sponaugle / Christmas stories / Books from America

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Terra Nova by M.T.G. + Giveaway + Excerpt

Terra Nova
M.T.G.
(Terra Nova, #1)
Publication date: July 28th 2020
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Evangeline is living the life of a normal teenager—going to school and hanging out with friends—until mysterious, severe symptoms begin appearing. After passing out in the middle of a party, life as she knows it spirals beyond her grasp. She is then diagnosed with a rare, genetic blood disorder that causes her body’s white blood cells to kill the red ones. In the delirium of her deteriorating health, a door to a parallel world opens before her; however, once she steps through it, the portal closes, and she is unable to return to Earth.

The place Evangeline now finds herself in is called Terra Nova, a world wherein vampires rule supreme, with no traces of humanity left to speak of. Curious but afraid, she quickly learns that Terra Nova is not the shadow-side of Earth, but rather the tragic result of government experimentation. In order to survive, she must keep her mind open and accept the changes her body is undergoing; soon enough, those who she initially thinks are murderers become her trainers, whose help she must enlist if she ever hopes to return home—and soon enough, a romantic bond begins to bloom.

Meanwhile, Evangeline’s brother and friends back on Earth try to figure out what happened to her, and how the government is involved, and how to bring her home. Unbeknownst to any of them is the mysterious outcast Bambi, whose secrecy disguises her power in making a devastating choice: save one world at the risk of destroying the other.

Goodreads / Amazon.com / Amazon UK

EXCERPT:

A horrible sound was ringing in Evangeline’s ears. She opened her eyes to find Eros standing above her, dangling a large bell.

“Stop! Oh my God. You can just tell me to go to my room. I must’ve passed out. I’m sorry. I’ll go sleep in my room. I’m going. I’m going.”

“You can go and get dressed and ready in your own room,” Eros said with a sardonic smile.

“What?” Evangeline asked, bleary-eyed.

“It is the middle of the night, again. We have all had our meal. Yours is waiting for you in the kitchen. Hurry up. The citizens are beginning to think we ate you.”

Evangeline sat up and looked at him, “I slept all day? Are you serious?”

“Do I jest much?”

She looked around his bed and then up at him, “I’m…sorry. You had to sleep on the chair.”

“No. I slept on my bed,” Eros said evenly.

“Oh,” Evangeline’s eyes went slightly wider and she immediately regretted letting him see her confusion. Eros narrowed his eyes and ran his tongue across his teeth, looking at her.

“Do you think I seduced you while you were sleeping?” he said, his lips curling down, “I believe Josepina explained the likelihood of that. I rested on the other side of the bed, wench. On top of the covers. We rarely feel cold, except for in extreme temperatures. The covers are for…nostalgia, I suppose. If you choose to hibernate on my bed do not expect me to sit on the chair all night.”

“You could have just woken me up, you know,” Evangeline said, standing up to go.

“I considered it. However, you had already slobbered on my book and the option of ringing a large bell in your face this evening appealed to me.”

Evangeline gave him a dirty look, which had the effect of bringing a wide smile to his face. She was about to leave the room without a word when a thought came to her head and squinting her eyes at him she began to laugh, “Sorry, I was just imagining you seducing someone.”

Eros’ smile began to lower into a confused frown and she burst out laughing harder, “It’s just that, well, how did you do it before? I mean, seduce someone? I can’t imagine you being charming for the life of me.”

Author Bio:

MTG has worked in numerous positions, mainly in managerial and executive roles. Terra Nova, her first publication, is Book 1 of a series. The series’ concept emerged when she, like the protagonist, was diagnosed with the blood disorder paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), and her then-boyfriend (now husband) joked she was becoming a vampire. She currently works and resides in Canada.

Website / Goodreads / Instagram


GIVEAWAY!

Win 1 of 2 paperback copies of Terra Nova and 1 of 2 $25 Amazon gift cards. Open internationally until the 2nd December.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Etsy Find!
by The Gift Burrow

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Books by M T G / Young adult fiction / Books from Canada

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Storms Of Lazarus by Karen Kincy


Storms Of Lazarus (Shadows of Asphodel #2) by Karen Kincy
Self published in July 2014.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


1913. Christmas Eve. Ardis hardly expects a quiet holiday with Wendel, between fleeing Constantinople and hiding from an ancient society of assassins. And they owe a debt to a certain archmage.

In Königsberg, Prussia, they work with Konstantin on the next evolution of Project Lazarus. Wendel once called Königsberg home, the city now besieged by the Russians and their clockwork engines of war. This may be Wendel’s last chance to save his family and find redemption, but he’s tormented by nightmares and tempted by laudanum. Ardis fears her love isn’t enough to save Wendel. Her hands are full working as a mercenary, and she’s terrified to tell him a secret of her own. Will they—and their love—survive the storms of war?

Storms of Lazarus is a fast-burn fantasy romance novel with lush worldbuilding and gritty fight scenes. Perfect for fans of enemies to lovers, secret royalty, and tortured bad boys who might not be redeemable.

Storms Of Lazarus is the sequel to Shadows Of Asphodel, a dieselpunk fantasy novel I read back in 2016 and absolutely adored. I amazed myself realising just how many years had passed between my reading the first and second novels. All credit is due to Karen Kincy's atmospheric and memorable writing that I had no problem picking up on the storyline and characters without having to re-read. Admittedly, Kincy does give hints, but I didn't notice any overlong reminder flashbacks. Quite to the contrary in fact because Storms Of Lazarus is a fast-paced action adventure set within the Balkan conflicts just prior to the Great War. I loved seeing how Kincy interweaves her dieselpunk magic with authentic historical fiction to create a narrative that's essentially fantasy, but felt genuine. Living in an era now when nanotechnology means tiny robots are reality, I could easily transfer my belief to the miniature clockwork marvels Kincy describes.

At the heart of Storms Of Lazarus however is the tempestuous romance between exiled assassin Ardis and traumatised necromancer Wendel. I was delighted to still find myself captivated by their relationship - and my crush on Wendel continues unabated! Ardis makes the perfect heroine for me - capable, quick-thinking and brave, but not impervious - and I felt as though she was always Wendel's equal. Overall I wasn't quite so blown away by Storms Of Lazarus as I had been by Shadows Of Asphodel, perhaps because the concept wasn't so new and unique this time around, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent immersed in the Asphodel world and will no doubt buy myself the third book in the trilogy in due course.

Etsy Find!
by Skullbag

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Books by Karen Kincy / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Friday, 26 November 2021

Mia And The Hummingbird by Nancy Carlisle + Giveaway



Join Us for This Tour from November 17 to November 30, 2021

Book Details:

Book Title:  MIA AND THE HUMMINGBIRD by Nancy Carlisle
Category:  Children's Fiction (Ages 4-9),  34 pages
Genre:  Juvenile fiction/social themes or animals/birds
Publisher:  Sage Green Press
Release date:   March, 2021
Tour dates: November 17 to November 30, 2021
Content Rating:  G. There is nothing that even comes close to PG.

Book Description:

“An inspirational story! The juxtaposition of the hummingbird's struggle with Mia's struggles is unique and I feel that kids will be able to relate to it." - Reader in a 5-Star Review

Mia and the Hummingbird is the story of a young girl who immigrates to a new country and learns to accept a new life.She sees the hummingbird building her nest for her babies and thinks that she and the bird are similar as they learn to adapt to their new homes. Mia and the Hummingbird includes information about environmental and social reasons for immigration, the struggle to adapt to a new home and information about hummingbirds.

Included is a glossary about these issues, a bibliography, and references.

 

Buy the Book:
Amazon.com ~ Amazon UK


Meet the Author:

Nancy Carlisle is an author, illustrator and retired architect and manager. She writes hopeful books for kids that interweave facts and fiction about the environment and global responsibility.

During her 38 year career, as an architect and researcher, her focus was on the environment. She led work nationally and internationally on sustainable and energy efficient buildings and communities and won awards for collaboratively designing award-winning sustainable buildings, a laboratory campus, and as part of a team to develop a program to improve the energy efficiency of laboratories in the U.S.

connect with the author: website
 
Tour Schedule:

Nov 17 – Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 17 - Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 17 - Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 18 – Chit Chat with Charity – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 18 - Deborah-Zenha Adams – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 18 - I'm Into Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 18 - Splashes of Joy – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 19 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 22 –Westveil Publishing – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 23 – Laura's Interests – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 24 – Reading is My Passion – book spotlight
Nov 26 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 26 - Books for Books – book spotlight
Nov 29 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 29 - Sefina Hawke's Books – book spotlight
Nov 29 - Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 30 – My Journey Back the Journey Back – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 30 - Kam's Place – book spotlight

Enter the Giveaway:

Win a signed copy of MIA AND THE HUMMINGBIRD and a $25 Amazon Gift Card! (one winner/USA only) (ends Dec 7)

MIA AND THE HUMMINGBIRD Spotlight Book Tour Giveaway

 


 

 

Etsy Find!
by Rusty Rooster Metal Art

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Books by Nancy Carlisle / Children's books / Books from America

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Free by Lea Ypi


Free: Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi
Published by Penguin on the 28th October 2021.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


'I never asked myself about the meaning of freedom until the day I hugged Stalin. From close up, he was much taller than I expected.'

Lea Ypi grew up in one of the most isolated countries on earth, a place where communist ideals had officially replaced religion. Albania, the last Stalinist outpost in Europe, was almost impossible to visit, almost impossible to leave. It was a place of queuing and scarcity, of political executions and secret police. To Lea, it was home. People were equal, neighbours helped each other, and children were expected to build a better world. There was community and hope.

Then, in December 1990, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, everything changed. The statues of Stalin and Hoxha were toppled. Almost overnight, people could vote freely, wear what they liked and worship as they wished. There was no longer anything to fear from prying ears. But factories shut, jobs disappeared and thousands fled to Italy on crowded ships, only to be sent back. Predatory pyramid schemes eventually bankrupted the country, leading to violent conflict. As one generation's aspirations became another's disillusionment, and as her own family's secrets were revealed, Lea found herself questioning what freedom really meant.

Free is an engrossing memoir of coming of age amid political upheaval. With acute insight and wit, Lea Ypi traces the limits of progress and the burden of the past, illuminating the spaces between ideals and reality, and the hopes and fears of people pulled up by the sweep of history.

I cannot truly imagine just how bewildering it must be to have been raised with one set of beliefs, ones which you wholeheartedly embraced and thought you understood, then, just as you were about to embark on your adult life, the society that underpinned those beliefs was abruptly ripped away. You discovered that your immediate family had hidden most of your history from you and your foundations weren't the solid rock you had previously relied upon. This is Lea Ypi's early life and her book, Free, does a wonderful job of allowing readers insights into the nations that were socialist Albania, transitional Albania and, sadly, civil war-ridden Albania.

I was reminded at times of Haya Leah Molnar's memoir, Under A Red Sky, by the way in which Lea Ypi's family kept the truth about themselves from their children which ultimately led to divisions with each generation having very different experiences, expectations and political philosophies. I found it interesting that Ypi is now professor of political theory at the London School of Economics as I could see her being drawn towards philosophical study towards the end of Free as she attempts to make sense of the chaos consuming her country. 

Free is a very readable memoir and one which explores and explains quite complex issues in an accessible way. I appreciated how being shown Lea's childhood solely from her younger perspective allowed me to also see why she was so convinced of the benefits of socialism. Her love of 'Uncle Enver' reflected what I learned through reading Enver Hoxha by Blendi Fevziu. There are hints from part-hidden parental conversations that perhaps not everything is as rosy and clear as her teacher, Leta, makes out, but no one can be openly honest and Lea doesn't yet know how many layers of secrets are concealed. I enjoyed Free as a coming-of-age story as well as an eloquent history of post-war Albania.


Etsy Find!
by Art and Archaeology

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Books by Lea Ypi / Biography and Memoir / Books from Albania

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Letters to Jacob: Grieving the Loss of a Child by Maria Hopfgarten + Giveaway


Join Us for This Tour:  November 8th to November 29th

Book Details:

​Book Title:  Letters to Jacob: Grieving the Loss of a Child by Maria Hopfgarten
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18+), 138 pages
Genre: Self-Help / Grief and Bereavement
Publisher: Amazon
Release Date: July 2021
Content Rating:  G - (It's general content, no sex at all)

 Book Description:

"If you have lost a child, you know you're weathering the largest storm life can bring you. I hope that my words of loss, tears, punches, smiles, friendships, and renewed happiness can give you a sense of not being along on this journey."

Maria Hopfgarten's son Jacob was born on January 31, 2006. He was the most perfect baby boy she had ever seen. But Jacob had devastating health issues, culminating in a diagnosis of mitochondrial disease, a fatal condition.

In the ten short years of Jacob's life, Maria found strength in blogging about Jacob's life. Her raw, honest posts from the year after Jacob's passing have been gathered into this book along with Maria's tips for parents coping with their own grief after losing a child.

Buy the Book
Amazon.com ~ Amazon UK

Meet the Author:
Maria Hopfgarten began her blog Moments with Jacob in 2009, writing about Jacob’s life with mitochondrial disease. She had followers around the globe. Maria continued to write blog posts to Jacob after he passed in 2016 to make sense of the loss of her son. Jacob was 10 years old. She has now turned part of the blog into the book “Letters to Jacob,” sharing her raw, honest first-hand experience on grieving the loss of a child.

Maria is the President of the non-profit Miracles for Mito and has been supporting families living with mitochondrial disease for over a decade. She has also been an active Parent Partner at Children’s Hospital Colorado and has been a Parent voice for many chronically ill children. Maria also sits on the Patient Safety Committee of the Board at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Originally from Sweden and with a degree in Journalism from Stockholm University, Maria lives with her husband Joakim, daughter Sarah, and rescue dog Max in Colorado. Her favorite thing to do is to share a good cup of coffee or glass of wine with a friend. Maria loves the outdoor and is always up for a bike ride or hike.

Connect with the Author:  Website ~ Facebook ~ Instagram
 
Tour Schedule:

Nov 8 – Working Mommy Journal – book review / giveaway
Nov 8 - Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Nov 9 – Splashes of Joy – book review / guest post / giveaway
Nov 10 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Nov 12 – Lamon Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Nov 15 –Gold Dust Editing & Book Reviews - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Nov 16 – A Mama's Corner of the World – book review / giveaway
Nov 17 - Kam's Place – book review
Nov 18 - Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 19 – Lisa's Reading – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 23 – @twilight_reader – book review
Nov 24 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 26 – Books for Books – book review
Nov 29 - Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:

Win an ebook copy of Letters to Jacob: Grieving the Loss of a Child by Maria Hopfgarten! (3 winners/USA only) (ends Dec 6)

Letters to Jacob: Grieving the Loss of a Child Book Tour Giveaway

 


 

 

Etsy Find!
by Loved By Pot

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Books by Maria Hopfgarten / Self help books / Books from Sweden

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Kissing In Manhattan by David Schickler


Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler
Published by Random House in 2001.

How I got this book:
Bought the paperback from a charity shop

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Hilarious, sexy, and deeply tender, Kissing in Manhattan was one of the most celebrated debuts in recent years. Acclaimed author David Schickler’s collection of linked stories follows a troupe of love-hungry urbanites through a charmed metropolis and into the Preemption–a mythic Manhattan apartment building. The Preemption sets the stage for a romantic fantasy as exuberant, dark, and dazzling as the city it occupies. Behind closed doors, the paths of an improbable cast of tenants–a seductive perfume heiress; a crabby, misunderstood actor; a preternaturally sharp-sighted priest–tangle and cross, while a perilous love triangle builds around three characters: 

James Branch, a shy young accountant with an unusual love for the Preemption’s antique elevator, and a strange destiny… 

Patrick Rigg, a Wall Street lothario who soothes his pain by seducing 
beautiful women, carrying a gun, and attending the nightly sermons of a foreboding priest… 

Rally McWilliams, a fetching, hopeful young writer who roams the city at night, searching for the soulmate she believes in but can’t find…

Charged with joy and a deadly sense of humor, Kissing in Manhattan is a daring new writer’s vision of a world where men and women, good and evil, love and sex, meet, battle, and embrace on every street corner.

I first blogged this book review on Stephanie Jane in September 2014.
I've just read Kissing In Manhattan for at least the third time as there's something about the story collection that completely appeals to me. I'm not sure whether to describe it as linked short stories or whether the book is more a novel. Certainly there is some repetition of description as if it was originally intended as separate stories or to be serialised.

The characters are generally all odd in one way or another. My favourite is probably James Branch who is quiet, shy and spends time talking to the elevator in his building, The Preemption, to which all the characters have some connection. His housemate, Patrick, is fantastically psychologically damaged which makes for interesting reading! I've seen other reviews describing Kissing In Manhattan as misogynistic but I don't agree as the main female characters are better balanced and stronger than their male counterparts. Throughout, the humour is dark and sexy and I love how the overall story arc advances via different viewpoints. Perhaps the only thing lacking for me is a story starring Sender.


Etsy Find!
by SToNZ

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Books by David Schickler / Contemporary fiction / Books from America

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe


Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe
Published by Zephyr on the 14th October 2021.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


African myth and magic beat in the dark heart of this fable about witchcraft, superstition, the bonds we choose and those we cannot.
Born into a family of West African witches, Sheba's terrified of her mother who is deadly dangerous. But like mother, like daughter – magic runs through her blood and Sheba discovers powers of her own.

Her touch can unravel people's innermost thoughts; their hopes, their fears – their secrets. Sheba too can shape-shift. Through the communion of ancient magic, blood and friendship, she slowly uncovers the murderous truth about her stolen childhood and steels herself for the future. She must protect the hunted from the hunter – her mother.

Lionheart Girl is a fantastical coming of age story which encompasses strong intergenerational friendships, a dysfunctional family relationship, and first love in a wonderfully magical narrative. I was frequently left breathless as Yaba Badoe keeps her story moving at such a rapid pace, but it kept me glued to the pages and I almost completed the whole book in a single sitting! I loved witnessing Sheba's increasing maturity as she attempts to emerge from her overbearing mother's shadow, but for me the most satisfying relationship was that depicted between Sheba and her maternal grandmother, an elderly woman with immense power within their village. It's unusual to see older women in fantasy novels given a chief's role so I relished that portrayal here.

I previously enjoyed reading Wolf Light by Yaba Badoe and noticed some similarities in the magical fantasy elements, strong female roles, grandparents acting as surrogate parents. However I was drawn more strongly into Sheba's world in Lionheart Girl and am delighted to have spotted this second Yaba Badoe novel. She is definitely a novelist to watch out for and I will be keenly awaiting her next exciting fantasy adventure.

Etsy Find!
by Gemma Ferran

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Books by Yaba Badoe / Fantasy fiction / Books from Ghana

Friday, 19 November 2021

In One Person by John Irving


In One Person by John Irving
Published by Simon And Schuster in May 2012.

How I got this book:
Borrowed the kindle edition from my partner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A compelling novel of desire, secrecy, and sexual identity, In One Person is a story of unfulfilled love — tormented, funny, and affecting — and an impassioned embrace of our sexual differences. Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character, tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a ‘sexual suspect’, a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 — in his landmark novel of ‘terminal cases’, The World According to Garp.

His most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving’s In One Person is a poignant tribute to Billy’s friends and lovers — a theatrical cast of characters who defy category and convention. Not least, In One Person is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself ‘worthwhile’.

I first blogged this book review on Stephanie Jane in September 2014.
I've just finished my second of two back-to-back five-star reads! Not only was Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood fantastic but so was In One Person and, coincidentally, both books had similarities in their stories while also being completely different. Both are first-person narratives of growing up despite influential people around.

In One Person does tick a good selection of 'John Irving novel' boxes: New Hampshire, boarding school, sexuality, and wrestling. There's rather a lot of wrestling! However, although these common factors were included, I was completely hooked by the story of William Dean's life from very early in the book and had to force myself to set it aside periodically so as not to be bereft of that world too quickly. I loved the style and flow of the writing, the repetition of italics indicating the importance of visible gender, the claustrophobia of the closed school environment set against the expanse and possibilities of 'Europe', and the desperately sad series of epilogues that made up the last portion of the novel, each building up emotionally and persuasively.

Irving discusses a number of other novels and plays, several of which I already knew but a key few that I had overlooked. I'm going to be adding those to my Goodreads list now before I forget, just so I can understand all of In One Person before it fades from my memory.


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Thursday, 18 November 2021

Transparent City by Ondjaki


Transparent City by Ondjaki
First published in Portuguese as Os Transparentes in December 2012. English language translation by Stephen Henighan published by Europa Editions in October 2021.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In a crumbling apartment block in the Angolan city of Luanda, families work, laugh, scheme, and get by. In the middle of it all is the melancholic Odonato, nostalgic for the country of his youth and searching for his lost son. As his hope drains away and as the city outside his doors changes beyond all recognition, Odonato’s flesh becomes transparent and his body increasingly weightless.

A captivating blend of magical realism, scathing political satire, tender comedy, and literary experimentation, Transparent City offers a gripping and joyful portrait of urban Africa quite unlike any before yet published in English, and places Ondjaki, indisputably, among the continent’s most accomplished writers

Transparent City revolves around the lives of the characters living in a dilapidated Luandan apartment block, one distinguished by an inexplicable waterflow through the first floor hallway. Ondjaki's tale is a satire on city life and the corruption of seemingly every public servant we encounter - with the possible exception of the grave digger - and the story is also steeped in magical realism so I could never be quite exactly how I was supposed to interpret particular events. I loved the apartment block setting which reminded me of such novels as The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany and Kissing In Manhattan by David Schickler, while its particularly Angolan vibe made Transparent City feel like a unique novel.

Ondjaki's characters are mostly larger than life, yet utterly plausible at the same time so I could believe in their actions and motivations while still being swept into a surrealism which appealed strongly to me. I am a big fan of magical realism novels. I felt that Transparent City is more of a slice-of-life story than a linear narrative so, while some of the individual characters' do experience a beginning-middle-end story arc, this wasn't the case for everyone so the whole book has a sense of timelessness to it. These people's lives will continue away from our scrutiny just as they did before we readers arrived, or if not these people exactly then other Angolans like them, other survivors of the war which shadows many of the pages and which, I understood, will haunt generations to come.

Ondjaki maintains a light, humorous touch throughout Transparent City which belies the seriousness of what his characters endure in their everyday lives. The city's imminent destruction as the result of the government's greed for oil revenues at any cost contrasts with more personal issues such as a grotesque untreated medical condition, widespread homelessness and a lack of basic facilities such as reliable water and electricity supplies. I was entertained by the idea of the rooftop cinema, for example, and Seashell Seller's bickering friendship with Blind Man. The way in which the building's residents pull together when needed is heartwarming, but the persistent undercurrent of corruption around them gave me the impression that however hard they tried, they might never be able to escape their circumstances.


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Books by Ondjaki / Contemporary fiction / Books from Angola