Wednesday, 29 March 2017

One Indian Girl by Chetan Bhagat


One Indian Girl by Chetan Bhagat

First published in America by Amazon Publishing in October 2016. Print edition to be published by Rupa And Co in India on the 5th May 2017.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the ebook from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'Hi. I’m Radhika Mehta and I’m getting married this week. I work at Goldman Sachs, an investment bank. Thank you for reading my story. However, let me warn you: you may not like me too much. One, I make a lot of money. Two, I have an opinion about everything. Three, I have had a boyfriend before. Okay, maybe two. Now, if I was a man, one might be cool with it. But since I am a girl, these three things I mentioned don’t really make me too likeable, do they?'

I popped on to Goodreads to mark I'd finished One Indian Girl and was surprised at its run of one star reviews and the vehemence of their comments. This seems to be a real Marmite book! Personally I thought it was OK, especially for a romance read (which isn't my preferred genre) blended with scenes of pure farce. The eponymous Indian girl, Radhika, is a fun character to spend a few hours with and I liked her first person narration style. An overachiever intellectually, she is remarkably naive socially with a lack of confidence that struck a chord for me. Admittedly some of the dialogue is awkwardly clunky and, despite its feminist protestations, there's no great depth to this story, but I think One Indian Girl would be a entertaining light holiday read.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Chetan Bhagat / Romance fiction / Books from India

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Seriously Mum, What's An Alpaca by Alan Parks


Seriously Mum, What's an Alpaca? by Alan Parks
Self published in February 2015.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy from independent booksellers via Alibris
Buy the ebook from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

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

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Could you give up everything you have worked for and do something completely different? Would you give up and go home if it all went wrong?
'Seriously Mum, What's an Alpaca?' is the frank and charming story of a brave couple who move to Spain to breed alpacas. Their intention is to make a living, but first they must negotiate their way through the Spanish property market, local characters, rogue builders and the worst weather AndalucĂ­a has seen for 100 years. Alan and Lorna experience the joy, but also the heartbreak of alpaca breeding, picking up an assortment of stray animals on the way. Will they succeed, or will the challenges prove too much to bear?

I discovered author Alan Parks on Twitter as he is from the Eastbourne area where I used to live. Spotting his tweet offering a copy of his first book Seriously Mum, What's An Alpaca? in return for a review, I volunteered. Dave and I are currently touring Spain for the winter so reading about an English couple who have taken the plunge to actually live out here seemed appropriate. Seriously Mum recounts various incidents during the first months of Alan and Lorna Parks' new life as they set themselves up as alpaca breeders in a disused olive mill in Andalucia. Their proposed lifestyle is meant to be idyllic, but unfortunately a lack of preparation and animal husbandry experience leads to a series of disasters that threaten their dream almost before it has become established.

We don't really get to know Lorna through this book as it is written solely by Alan as a series of sketches rather than an in-depth view of their life. The decision to uproot and change career comes across as being a whim that gained a momentum of its own. Neither has experience of livestock care and at several points this ignorance has sad consequences, not enough to prevent more animals being added to their menagerie though. The couple admit to still being completely inept in Spanish over a year after arriving and I found it odd that, despite their insistence on living in a Spanish community rather than with ex-pats, they shun social opportunities such as the Feria week. Many of Alan's written asides criticise Spanish culture from a strongly English perspective and I wonder whether they will ever assimilate or always remain the English outsiders.

With regards to the book itself, Alan does successfully avoid the indie author curse of poor spelling/grammar etc, but Seriously Mum feels very superficial throughout. I would have preferred deeper writing allowing me to get to know Alan and Lorna and understand their choices and decisions. Instead, brief sentences describe serious events such as the day a particular animal dies and is buried which is solely covered as 'a sad day'. I learned next to nothing about alpaca care and even the rich Andalucian culture is mostly bypassed. There are several odd little vignettes apparently written by selected animals expressing gratitude at having been taken in. I didn't get those at all. Perhaps originally intended for young readers? Overall, I found this book disappointing and thought it a missed opportunity.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Alan Parks / Biography and memoir / Books from England

Monday, 27 March 2017

Guest Review: The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker + Giveaway


The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker
Self published in March 2012.

Where to buy this book:
Download the ebook free from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Download the ebook free from Smashwords
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

Guest review by Katherine Bogle
Katherine Bogle currently resides in Saint John, New Brunswick with her partner in crime, and plethora of cats. Though she has spent the majority of her life weaving stories and writing short fiction, it wasn’t until 2012, half-way through her two year college program, that Katherine finished Sanctum, the novel to kick off her true love for novel length works. Since then Katherine has written six novels ranging from Fantasy to Science Fiction and Young Adult to Steampunk. Her debut young adult novel, Haven, came second in the World's Best Story contest 2015. I enjoyed reading both Haven and its short story companion, Fyre, and you can read my reviews here.

Katherine's rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.
Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin, is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills... or someone wants her dead.

Katherine says: The first book in the Emperor’s Edge series starts off with imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon, a woman who’s good at her job and wants nothing more than to advance in her career. But being a woman of the Empire, that isn’t likely to happen.

When Amaranthe is sent on a mission to kill an assassin, her entire world is thrown on its head, launching her in a very unexpected direction.

EE is one of my favourite modern books. I love this series, and have read it twice already (but I’ll definitely be going back for more). Not only do we get strong women and plots that keep you on the edge of your seat, but we also get this amazing cast of characters thrown together by Ammy’s unusual circumstances.

The group consists of Ammy, the enforcer, an old drunkard professor, a juvenile magic-wielding gang member, a pretty rich boy who flirts like a mofo, and of course the assassin. Not exactly your dream team, right? Wrong. I fell in love with these characters from the first page. Buroker forces you to invest in these characters, to love them, cherish them, and above all, look forward to their next crazy scheme!

I won’t go into the details of the plot, as I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the twists and turns are REAL. The end of book one will leave you begging for more!



Thank you Katherine!

Do you have a book review that you would like to share on Literary Flits? Details of how to do so are Here. I look forward to hearing from you!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Lindsay Buroker / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Apathy Will Kill Us All by Andy Carrington + Giveaway


Apathy Will Kill Us All by Andy Carrington
Self published on the 20th June 2016

Where to buy this book:
Enter Andy's Goodreads Giveaway for a signed paperback edition (ends 1st May 2017)
Buy the ebook directly from the author
Buy the paperback directly from the author

How I got this book: 4 of 5 stars
Received a review copy from the author

My rating:

… when all that’s left is mediocrity

and each day just bleeds into the next …

Apathy Will Kill Us All is a sweeping tirade of poetry that illuminates the depressing and ugly side of life experienced by great swathes of British people today. I loved the vivid imagery and immediacy of Carrington's poems. His energy leaps right off the page to slap readers across the face, forcing us to look and really see the neglected and damaged communities across our country. I imagine that hearing this work read out live would be amazing and I found myself speaking several of the poems to myself in order to fully appreciate them. My favourites are £1.50 to draw out my own money because I have been in that exact exasperating situation, Saw A Dead Cat On The Road This Morning for its sharply observed analogy, and the Robots In poems because I have worked those soulless-smile jobs. While I didn't agree with all the assertions, I could certainly understand the overwhelming frustration that drives this work.

Andy Carrington's newest collection, Self Service Check-outs Have No Soul is due for release at the beginning of April. Pre-order your copy here.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Andy Carrington / Poetry / Books from England

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

First published in the UK by Fourth Estate in 2006.
Winner of the 2007 Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Bought at Totnes Community Bookshop

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s masterpiece, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race – and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.'

If I hadn't already read The Dollmaker in March then Half Of A Yellow Sun would certainly have been my Book Of The Month. Adichie's exploration of events leading up to and during the late 1960s civil war in Nigeria is a powerful indictment of irresponsible colonialism and also an emotionally moving historical novel. We see Nigeria and, for its brief existence, Biafra, through several eyes which enables Adichie to give a rounded portrayal of the disastrous attempt at independence. Already knowing how this battle will turn out means the whole of Half Of A Yellow Sun is tinged with poignancy, but I still found myself caught up in the excitement and self-belief of the Igbo people as they started to fight back against persecution.

I loved that our leading characters are such complicated people and their interconnected relationships allows us to see their actions from different perspectives. Twins are an important motif to Adichie and here the two sisters Olanna and Kainene have very different views on the best way to navigate their lives and I liked the brittle connection between them. Innocent Ugwu perhaps has the most difficult journey from village ignorance to political awareness. As readers, we learn alongside him, seeing as he does the many facets of Nigerian society that, repressed under British rule, now independence has come to the country are all asserting themselves. As an English woman I found myself again angry at my country for its behaviour.

Graphic descriptions of poverty, starvation and violence are frequently difficult to read and Half Of A Yellow Sun is not a novel for the faint-hearted. It shows the worst of humanity, but also the best. We understand how a people can be led to absolute disaster by carefully manipulated nationalist propaganda, how weak some individuals will be at such a time, how greedy and power-hungry, and also how strong and selfless. I believe this story of fifty years ago carries a powerful lesson for right now. Splintering along cultural or religious lines and allowing ourselves to be ruled by fear and hate will only result in Biafra being repeated again and again and again all over the world.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie / Historical fiction / Books from Nigeria

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes Vol. II by Arthur Conan Doyle


The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, Vol. II by Arthur Conan Doyle
Stories first published in the UK in 1891 and 1892. Naxos audiobook edition narrated by David Timson published in March 1999.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the audiobook on CD from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the audiobook on CD from The Book Depository
Buy the CD or download direct from the publisher

How I got this book:
Downloaded as part of the 2014 AudioSYNC season

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this collection are four of the finest cases of Mr Sherlock Holmes, narrated by his faithful friend and admirer Dr Watson. What was the mystery of the engineer’s thumb? What was behind the disappearance of the race horse? Why did masked royalty walk up to see Holmes in Baker Street? These and other puzzles are solved by this bloodhound of a genius.

The second of the four Naxos volumes of Sherlock Holmes stories was one of the downloads in 2014's summer AudioSYNC programme and Volume II has the stories The Scandal in Bohemia, The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb, The Five Orange Pips, and Silver Blaze.

As the stories are short and we are already meant to be acquainted with Holmes and Watson, there is very little in the way of description about them. Unfortunately, as I am not a particular fan, this made our heroes rather flat. Their clients and foes were also not fleshed out in any great detail.

However the plot lines which were main focus of each tale were generally cleverly thought through and it was fun to try to guess the conclusion ahead of Holmes. David Timson does a great job of the narration and his style complements the writing perfectly. I don't think I will search out the other three volumes though because I can see too many of such tales together quickly becoming overly formulaic and, dare I say, a tad dull.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Arthur Conan Doyle / Crime fiction / Books from England

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Peril In The Park by Barbara Venkataraman + Giveaway


Peril In The Park by Barbara Venkataraman
Self published in June 2014.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the ebook or audiobook from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn's boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can't figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.
A preview of the next Jamie Quinn Mystery, "Engaged in Danger," can be found at the end of the book.

I didn't realise when I began reading this series that Death By Didgeridoo was Venkataraman's first ever mystery story. While good, it did have some rough edges and I have appreciated watching this author hone her style as her series progresses. In this third volume Jamie Quinn has convincingly found her voice. Peril In The Park is certainly the most accomplished to date. I enjoyed unravelling the two park-related mystery strands, especially our all-too-brief visit to the fabulous Renaissance Fair which reminded me of reading Jordan Elizabeth's Victorian. Imagining Duke in his special outfit made me chuckle! Jamie's relationship with Kip is nicely portrayed throughout the book, grown up without being gratuitous, and I liked the sensitive way her father's immigration situation is handled. These scenes could have been overly sentimental and mawkish, but Venkataraman deftly allows her characters room for emotion while keeping their reactions believable.

Would you like to read your own copy of Peril In The Park? Well you're in luck! Barbara Venkataraman has kindly offered an ebook boxset of the first three Jamie Quinn cosy mysteries for one lucky Literary Flits reader! The prize will be gifted by Barbara via Amazon.

The Giveaway is open worldwide for two weeks from today and previous Literary Flits giveaway winners are welcome to enter. Entries must be submitted through the Gleam widget below by midnight (UK time) on the 6th April and I will randomly pick a winner on the 7th. If the winner does not respond to my email within 7 days, they will forfeit the prize and, yes, I will be checking that entrants did complete whatever task they said they did.

If you'd like the chance to win the Jamie Quinn Mystery Box Set, here's the giveaway widget:

Jamie Quinn mystery trilogy Giveaway

Good luck!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Barbara Venkataraman / Crime fiction / Books from America