Tuesday, 21 November 2017

A Nocturnal Expedition Round My Room by Xavier De Maistre


A Nocturnal Expedition Round My Room by Xavier de Maistre
First published in French as Expédition Nocturne Autour de ma Chambre in 1825. English language translation by Edmund Goldsmid published in Scotland in 1886.

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How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The sequel to de Maistre's A Journey Round My Room is another parody set in the tradition of the grand travel narrative, but this time is set over a period of only four hours. De Maistre is again in Turin, this time in an attic room with a view of the sky. Having read the first book, I was better prepared for his style of musing and meditation. You might wonder why I bothered, having only given the first book two stars? Well, I bought the two in one volume and hate discarding books unread!

A Nocturnal Expedition is, for me, a more entertaining read. De Maistre is frequently humorous at his own expense and I thought this book far less self conscious and pompous than A Journey. He discusses gazing up into starry nights, the best methods to gain poetic inspiration, and how to ride a windowsill as though it were a horse. All quite mad, but fun to read and I appreciated the brevity of this book which prevented de Maistre going on at too great a length on any particular topic. Sadly though, several chapters require the reader to have ploughed through A Journey in order to understand A Nocturnal Expedition.


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Books by Xavier de Maistre / Biography and memoir / Books from France

Monday, 20 November 2017

Enchant by Micalea Smeltzer + Giveaway


Enchant by Micalea Smeltzer
Self published in America on the 30th October 2017.

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Add Enchant to your Goodreads

Mara Pryce never imagined that her life was anything but normal and then a strange gray-eyed young man appears at her graduation. When he vanishes without a trace, she’s convinced he’s a figment of her imagination. Then he appears again and shatters her whole world.

Mara is an enchanter, part of an ancient line of Wiccan power, and a war is raging—one of good and evil—between the Enchanted and the Iniquitous.

The Iniquitous want her dead and it’s Theodore’s job as her protector to keep her safe.

When Mara and Theodore arrive at a safe house, where Mara will remain hidden while learning about her powers, they find that the real threat might be a little closer to home than they want to believe.



Meet the author:
Hi. I’m Micalea. Ma-call-e-uh. Weird name, I know. My mom must’ve known I was going to be odd even in the womb. I’ve written a lot of books. Like a lot. Don’t ask me how many, I don’t remember at this point. I have an unhealthy addiction to Diet Coke but I can’t seem to break the habit. I listen to way too much music and hedgehogs have taken over my life. Crazy is the word that best sums up my life, but it’s the good kind of crazy and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Author links:
Twitter ~ Website ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 30th of November, the prize is a generous $50 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Books by Micalea Smeltzer / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 19 November 2017

A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell


A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell
First published in Sweden in Swedish in 2011. English language translation by Laurie Thompson published in 2013.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:

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How I got this book:
Swapped for in the book exchange at Camping Les Medes, L'Estartit, Spain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hanna Lundmark escapes the brutal poverty of rural Sweden for a job as a cook onboard a steamship headed for Australia. Jumping ship at the African port of Lourenço Marques, Hanna decides to begin her life afresh.

Stumbling across what she believes to be a down-at-heel hotel, Hanna becomes embroiled in a sequence of events that lead to her inheriting the most successful brothel in town. Uncomfortable with the attitudes of the white settlers, Hanna is determined to befriend the prostitutes working for her, and change life in the town for the better, but the distrust between blacks and whites, and the shadow of colonialism, lead to tragedy and murder.


Having been a tad underwhelmed by my first (and the first) Wallander novel, Faceless Killers, I have since steered clear of Henning Mankell books. However, a lack of choice at my last campsite book exchange meant that I decided to give him another try - especially when I realised that this particular story is historical fiction, not a crime novel. Inspired by a real woman about whom very little is known, Mankell has imagined the life of a young Swedish woman who becomes stranded in early 1900s Mozambique, then snappily known as Portuguese East Africa.

Apparently Mankell partly lives in Mozambique and this familiarity with the country certainly came through in his writing. He describes his locations well from the desperate poverty of rural Sweden to the long boat voyage to the dust and heat of East Africa. I liked how he attempted to portray all sides of the African racial divide. As a Swede, our heroine Hanna initially sees herself as apart from all aspects of Lourenço Marques society, but of course her white skin immediately identifies her as belonging to the European colonists rather than with the black townfolk, even though she feels a greater affinity with their predicament having come from a serf underclass herself. It's an interesting angle through which to view the culture clash, although I did think some of Hanna's thoughts and ideas were more 21st century than early 20th. In common with my previous read, The Underground Railroad, I also felt that Hanna wasn't strongly portrayed enough to maintain focus at the centre of this novel. She often behaved more in keeping with a male character than as I felt a woman would do and this jarred for me. Other than that, I enjoyed reading A Treacherous Paradise and am interested to discover more of Mankell's historical novels.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Henning Mankell / Historical fiction / Books from Sweden

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
First published in America by Doubleday in August 2016.

Where to buy this book:

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Praised by Barack Obama and an Oprah Book Club Pick, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award 2016 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2017.

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.

In Whitehead's razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.

I know I am late to the party in reading The Underground Railroad! I wanted to let some of the hype fade in the hope of not being overly influenced and then disappointed. I think my scheme worked - I certainly did enjoy the novel.

I hadn't previously realised the nuances of various American states attitudes and laws concerning slavery and black people's place in society. Whitehead's device of Cora journeying to a number of different states allowed me to see far more than the South=slavery, North=freedom divide that I had imagined from previous Civil War novels I have read. I was impressed by his research and the authenticity of the locations and scenes described. As historifical fiction, The Underground Railroad does a fantastic job of bringing this era of American history to life.

I wasn't convinced at first by the imagining of the Railroad itself as a real railway network. However as the novel progressed I could appreciate the idea more and felt that it did fit well within the story. My only lasting gripe is that I didn't think Cora was a real a person as she needed to be. Surrounding characters were more strongly defined and, for me, Cora often felt like a shadow or a space than a genuine woman living through these experiences. We are told a lot about her thoughts and aspirations, but I thought the woman herself was kept too distant and aloof.

Overall though, The Underground Railroad was an interesting and very readable novel. It depicts a place and time I thought I knew, but in such a new way that I realised there is still a lot more to learn. Well derserving of its hype!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Colson Whitehead / Historical fiction / Books from America

Friday, 17 November 2017

Ours Is The Winter by Laurie Ellingham


Ours Is The Winter by Laurie Ellingham
Published by HQ Digital today, the 17th November 2017.

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Add Ours Is The Winter to your Goodreads

Journeying across the Arctic, their pasts are about to catch up with them.

Erica, Molly and Noah are embarking on the challenge of a lifetime, driving Siberian huskies across the frozen wilderness of the Arctic. Cut off from the world and their loved ones and thrown together under gruelling conditions, it isn’t long before the cracks start to show.

Erica has it all. A loving husband, a successful career and the most adorable baby daughter. But Erica has been living a double life, and as she nears her fortieth birthday her lies threaten to come crashing down.

Molly was on her way to stardom. But when her brother died, so did her dreams of becoming an Olympic champion.  Consumed by rage and grief, she has shut out everyone around her, but now she’s about to learn that comfort can come from the most unexpected places.

Noah has a darkness inside him and is hounded by nightmares from his past. Tortured, trapped and struggling to save his fractured relationship, he knows this journey is not going to help, but try telling his girlfriend that.

As their lives and lies become ever more entwined, it becomes clear that in the frozen wilds there is nowhere to hide.





Meet the author:
Laurie Ellingham lives on the Suffolk/Essex border with her two children, husband, and cockerpoo Rodney. She has a First Class honours degree in Psychology and a background in Public relations, but her main love is writing and disappearing into the fictional world of her characters, preferably with a large coffee and a Twix (or two) to hand.


Author links: 
Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter




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Books by Laurie Ellingham / Adventure stories / Books from England

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson


Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
First published in America by Farrar Straus and Giroux in 1980.

Where to buy this book:

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How I got this book:
Swapped for at a campsite book exchange

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Acclaimed on publication as a contemporary classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and Lucille, orphansgrowing up in the small desolate town of Fingerbone in the vast northwest of America.

Abandoned by a succession of relatives, the sisters find themselves in the care of Sylvie, the remote and enigmatic sister of their dead mother. Steeped in imagery of the bleak wintry landscape around them, the sisters' struggle towards adulthood is powerfully portrayed in a novel about loss, loneliness and transience.

I picked up my vintage copy of Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson at a campsite book exchange in France knowing nothing about the author and being primarily attracted to the book by virtue of its being a King Penguin publication - the writing would at least be of a good standard even if the story wasn't completely to my taste. As it turned out, both writing and story were superb.

Set in small town America, in the wonderfully named Fingerbone, Housekeeping is told from the point of view of Ruthie, the younger of two sisters left orphaned after their mother's suicide. Abandoned to their grandmother's care then briefly picked up by a pair of nervous great-aunts, before finding themselves coping with (or in spite of) the best intentions of their traveller aunt Sylvie, the girls are left increasingly to their own devices with fascinating results. Robinson describes what could be seen as an idyllic childhood, roaming free instead of attending school, but all around are reminders of what the girls have lost and, perhaps more importantly, what they still do not have. When elder sister Lucille begins to rebel against Sylvie, we as readers suddenly understand how the family are viewed by the rest of the town and how rigidly narrow their expected life path should be.

I love how Robinson writes women. The great-aunts have so obviously always been together that they cannot even speak independently. Even Helen's brief thoughtfulness in providing her children food, although she will leave them moments later, is a very real detail beautifully portrayed. I was gripped by Ruthie's narration throughout the novel and her ultimate decision of whose expectations should direct her life is emotional to read.


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Books by Marilynne Robinson / Contemporary fiction / Books from America

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Twofer Murder by Lauren Carr + Giveaway


Twofer Murder by Lauren Carr
Category: Adult fiction, 400 pages
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: November 17, 2017
Tour dates: Nov 1 to 30, 2017
Content Rating: PG + M (Please be aware that TWOFER MURDER is a murder mystery. There are depictions of murder and some violence--though easy on the gore contents. No f-words but there may be some mild profanity, and mild religious expletives such as "damn", "hell" and "Oh God!". Some depictions of brief sexual content (kissing). No drug use or underage drinking among the protagonists.)

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Twofer murder? What’s a twofer murder?

Twofer Murder is a treat for fans of best-selling author Lauren Carr’s fast-paced mysteries! Lauren’s latest novel contains the main characters from her three successful series: Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose mysteries. The guys go away for a fishing weekend only to get caught up in the murder of a journalist investigating fraud at a timber company. Meanwhile, the ladies are spending the weekend in the presidential suite at a posh resort where Jessica Faraday is to accept a lifetime achievement award for her late grandmother at a murder mystery writers conference. But before they have time to get their facials, they get wrapped up in their own real mystery when an up and coming author ends up dead!

Lauren Carr’s Twofer Murder is a 2-for-1 — making it a must-read for any mystery fan!


Watch the trailer:




Meet the Author:



Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.


Connect with the author: 
Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram



What are readers saying about Lauren Carr's mysteries?



Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Dec 4


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Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Lauren Carr / Crime fiction / Books from America