Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Subhuman by Michael McBride + Giveaway


Subhuman by Michael McBride
Published in America by Pinnacle Books today, the 31st October 2017.

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THEY ARE NOT HUMAN. At a research station in Antarctica, five of the world’s top scientists have been brought together to solve one of the greatest mysteries in human history. Their subject, however, is anything but human . . .

THEY ARE NOT NATURAL. Deep beneath the ice, the submerged ruins of a lost civilization hold the key to the strange mutations that each scientist has encountered across the globe: A misshapen skull in Russia. The grotesque carvings of a lost race in Peru. The mummified remains of a humanoid monstrosity in Egypt . . .

THEY ARE NOT FRIENDLY. When a series of sound waves trigger the ancient organisms, a new kind of evolution begins. Latching onto a human host—crossbreeding with human DNA—a long-extinct life form is reborn. Its kind has not walked the earth for thousands of years. Its instincts are fiercer, more savage, than any predator alive. And its prey are the scientists who unleashed it, the humans who spawned it, and the tender living flesh on which it feeds . . .





Meet the author:
Michael McBride was born in Colorado and still resides in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. He hates the snow, but loves the Avalanche. He works with medical radiation, yet somehow managed to produce five children, none of whom, miraculously, have tails, third eyes, or other random mutations. He writes fiction that runs the gamut from thriller (Remains) to horror to science fiction (Vector Borne, Snowblind) . . . and loves every minute of it. He is a two-time winner of the DarkFuse Readers' Choice Award.

Author links:
Twitter ~ Website ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads


And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 9th of November, the prize is a $50 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Michael McBride / Horror fiction / Books from America

Monday, 30 October 2017

Faraway by Lucy Irvine


Faraway by Lucy Irvine
First published in the UK by Doubleday in November 2000.

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 on the book exchange shelves at Camping Sopalmo, Spain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eighteen years after her Castaway experience, in 1999, Lucy took her three children to the farthest corner of the Solomons to live for a year on remote Pigeon Island. This time the invitation had come from an intrepid eighty-year-old, Diana Hepworth, who, in 1947, set sail from England and embarked on a hazardous journey to find a faraway paradise where she and her husband Tom could raise a family.

Faraway is the fascinating tale of two extraordinary worlds - 'primitive' and modern 'colonial' - in which tragedy, heroism, danger and pure joy combine in one remarkable story. This is a classic account by a writer who has dug deep into her psyche to illuminate the darkest reaches of our own.

I picked the right time to read this book as it was ridiculously hot in Spain, although perhaps still cooler than the Reef Islands. Lucy Irvine's 'biography' of one, Pigeon Island, is fascinating due to her detailed and honest descriptions of its complete clash of cultures. I have scant sympathy for the Hepworths' troubles, seemingly caused primarily by obsessively forcing their style of English life onto an island people who neither wanted or needed it. The Irvines' own successful integration was an interesting counterpoint and it would be nice to know whether Diana Hepworth actually liked this book, resulting as it did from her original commission.


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Books by Lucy Irvine / Reportage / Books from England

Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi


The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi
First published in Chinese in Taiwan by Rye Field Publishing in 2015. English language translation by Darryl Sterk published by Text Publishing Company on the 26th October 2017.

Where to buy this book:

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cheng, a novelist, once wrote a book about his father's disappearance twenty years ago. One day he receives a reader's email asking whether his father's bicycle disappeared as well. Perplexed and amused, Cheng decides to track down the bicycle, which was stolen years ago.

The journey takes him to a scavenger's treasure trove, the mountain home of an aboriginal photographer, deep into the secret world of antique bicycle collectors, and ultimately to his own heart.

The Stolen Bicycle is the first Taiwanese book I have read and I expected it to have a Chinese feel to it. I didn't previously know that Taiwan had been under Japanese control for fifty years until 1945 and, for me, I felt more of a style affinity to Japanese literature. Author Wu and his imagined protagonist Cheng overlap in several of their interests. Given that The Stolen Bicycle is mainly narrated in the first person by Cheng, this makes it impossible to differentiate between Cheng's fictional life and Wu's real life. I liked this duality and the sense of authenticity it brought to the novel.

I wondered if the story had initially started out as several stories which were later intertwined into one work. In tracing the story of Cheng's father's missing bicycle we spend time in present-day Taiwan, but also journey back to the Second World War and across to Malaysia and Myanmar. Wu has Cheng explain the history of bicycle manufacturing in Taiwan and Japanese bicycle army regiments. Other characters discuss intricate butterfly handicrafts or talk in depth about particular zoo animals, their wartime experiences, or their exploration of grotesque underwater scenes. The narrative jumps between different people's points of view by way of speech, emails and letters and, especially at the beginning of the book, I did lose track of whose story was foremost and what their connection was to the bicycle.

The Stolen Bicycle has a mystical atmosphere to it. Certain scenes seem unbelievable, but were perhaps true; others start out in mundane detail and gradually become more fantastic. I'm still not sure I know the truth of what happened to Cheng's father, but I enjoyed losing myself in Taiwanese history and piecing together the lost bicycle years.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Wu Ming-Yi / Contemporary fiction / Books from Taiwan

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris


Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris
First published in the UK by Doubleday in May 2000.

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 on the book exchange shelves at Camping Altomira, Navajas, Spain

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jay Mackintosh is trapped by memory in the old familiar landscape of his childhood, to which he longs to return. A bottle of home-brewed wine left to him by a long-vanished friend seems to provide the key to an old mystery. As the unusual properties of the strange brew take effect, Jay escapes to a derelict farmhouse in the French village of Lansquenet. 

There, a ghost from the past waits to confront him, and the reclusive Marise - haunted, lovely and dangerous - hides a terrible secret behind her closed shutters. Between them, a mysterious chemistry. Or could it be magic?

A weird mish-mash of ideas in this novel which is irritatingly narrated by a bottle of wine. There are other 'magical' bottles too but fortunately they fade out as each is drunk. The two-part storyline describes Jay's teenage summers of rural 1970s idyll and I enjoyed these sections, particularly his relationship with Joe who is by far the best character in the whole book. However, young Jay's chapters alternate with those of adult Jay, a self-obsessed alcoholic who emigrates to rural France in a fug of wine fumes to discover the true meaning of life among comfortingly familiar stereotypes in the Chocolat village. I guess this novel was aspirational for Brits still dreaming of Peter Mayle-type escapism a decade ago but, for me reading a couple of years ago, Blackberry Wine mostly felt dated and twee.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Joanne Harris / Contemporary fiction / Books from England

Friday, 27 October 2017

Wanderers No More by Michelle Saftich + Giveaway


Wanderers No More by Michelle Saftich
Category: Adult Fiction, 290 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Release date: August 2017
Tour dates: Oct 23 to Nov 3, 2017
Content Rating: PG (Very little bad language (if any), kissing, references to sex but nothing actual or explicit, some violence in the way of school bullying - no major adult themes like abortion or suicide etc.)

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Add Wanderers No More to your Goodreads

The war may be over, but the fight to belong is just the beginning.

Left homeless, starving, and almost killed by the Second World War, the Saforo family are refugees fleeing Italy for a better life. The shores of Australia are calling to them and they head off, packing dreams of jobs, a home and… soccer.

But from the moment they get off the boat, adapting to the Australian way of life is harder than it seems. Their family doesn’t speak right, eat right or even look right. As they struggle to build a simple life against the backdrop of 1950s’ racism, they start to wonder if they will be outsiders forever.

A true family affair, Wanderers No More will make you laugh, remind you of your family, and warm your heart.

To follow the blog tour and read reviews, please visit Michelle Saftich's page on Italy Book Tours.

Wanderers No More is the sequel to Port Of No Return, but stands successfully as a historical novel in its own right. I hadn't read the first book and didn't find myself feeling as though I was missing information although, on the strength of Wanderers No More, I have now added Port Of No Return to my TBR list. The story begins with a poignant description of the Italian Saforo family coming into sight of the Australian coast, an entirely new land which they must make into their home. The phrase about this boat full of refugees 'holding their children's hands and not much else' really hit home to me the experience of these people. I was reminded that many thousands of displaced people are facing similar journeys now, some seventy years later, but often without the support of their families or their new nation.

My great-uncle emigrated to Australia as a Ten Pound Pom in the 1950s so I already knew about that wave of Australian immigration, but had no idea of the many our Europeans who undertook the same sea voyage a decade earlier. Saftich brings their lives into focus through the Saforos integration. I did sometimes feel that there were strange jumps in the narrative, events and decisions that weren't sufficiently explained, but I hadn't realised until the very end of the book that it is based on a true story. Conversations and the like have obviously been imagined, but most of the people we meet really did exist. I love the extra dimension this adds - and real life never does run as smoothly as a novel!

Meet the Author:



Michelle Saftich resides in Brisbane, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology.

For the past 20 years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations.
Born and raised in Brisbane, she spent 10 years living in Sydney; and two years in Osaka, Japan, where she taught English.

Her historical fiction novel, Port of No Return, was inspired by a true family story. It was published by Australian independent publishing house, Odyssey Books in 2015. Its sequel, Wanderers No More was released in August 2017. Michelle is married with two children.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Nov 11


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Books by Michelle Saftich / Historical fiction / Books from Australia

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Haven by Mary Lindsey + Giveaway


Haven by Mary Lindsey
Published in America by Entangled Publishing on the 7th November 2017. Also published under the title Hide From Me.

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Add Haven to your Goodreads

“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere. He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.





Meet the author:
Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. She lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband. Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 "pet" Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the "pet" roaches found a home... somewhere else. 


Author links: 
Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Instagram


And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 2nd of November, the prize is a $15 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Mary Lindsey / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Missing Joe by Stephen Thompson


Missing Joe by Stephen Thompson
First published in the UK by Hodder And Stoughton in 2001.

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 on the book exchange shelves at Camping Sopalmo, Spain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joe, Dilys and their son Sean are all outsiders in the small English town where they live. Joe because of insidious racism, Dilys because she suffers the remaining stigma of her alcoholic mother and mentally ill father, and Sean because he seems slow. As Dilys and Sean become increasingly and unhealthily co-dependent, Joe is pushed to periphery of their lives. So much so that when he vanishes, Dilys is neither surprised nor concerned. Then Joe's identical twin brother Neville arrives from Jamaica. Despite what Dilys tells him, he refuses to believe that Joe simply walked out on his family. And so he begins a painstaking investigation into Joe's disappearance. What he discovers changes him forever.

An interesting insight into the lives of various members of a Jamaican family, some of whom had emigrated to the UK, and their friends and lovers. I wasn't sure about the mystery aspect of what had happened to Joe because this was very underplayed. However it was a good device to enable his twin, Neville, to encounter a variety of people. Excellent character portrayals meant that each person was immediately real to me and the more 'damaged' people made for fascinating reading. Missing Joe was a fairly quick read and a good novel.


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Books by Stephen Thompson / Mystery fiction / Books from England

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Iran: A Modern History by Abbas Amanat


Iran: A Modern History by Abbas Amanat
First published in America by Yale University Press in October 2017.

One of my WorldReads from Iran

Where to buy this book:


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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A masterfully researched and compelling history of Iran from 1501 to 2009

This history of modern Iran is not a survey in the conventional sense but an ambitious exploration of the story of a nation. It offers a revealing look at how events, people, and institutions are shaped by currents that sometimes reach back hundreds of years. The book covers the complex history of the diverse societies and economies of Iran against the background of dynastic changes, revolutions, civil wars, foreign occupation, and the rise of the Islamic Republic.

Abbas Amanat combines chronological and thematic approaches, exploring events with lasting implications for modern Iran and the world. Drawing on diverse historical scholarship and emphasizing the twentieth century, he addresses debates about Iran’s culture and politics. Political history is the driving narrative force, given impetus by Amanat's decades of research and study. He layers the book with discussions of literature, music, and the arts; ideology and religion; economy and society; and cultural identity and heritage.

Clocking in at a thousand pages, Iran: A Modern History is easy three times as long as books I usually choose so it is with all credit to Abbas Amanat's engaging writing that I happily immersed myself in this history for the best part of a week. I was fascinated to discover the rich history of this ancient nation and, although I have already forgotten many names, I do feel that I have a stronger understanding of Iran's culture and her people as a result. I certainly appreciated the differences in not viewing this history through British eyes and, in common with a depressing number of history and historical fiction books I read over the past few years, Britain's actions reveal our government to have been (and still be?) duplicitous, selfish and greedy.

In common with many (all?) countries, Iran's history is primarily a story of violent men, but I liked that Amanat makes a point of frequently stepping away from war to also show us beauty. Artworks are reproduced in colour and black and white, plus I loved reading poetry and song lyrics, descriptions of theatre and film productions and even seeing a couple of satirical political cartoons. Such artistic creations are important to Iranian culture and their inclusion helped me to have a greater understanding. There are also maps which I think in a printed book would show various warring factions in a seemingly perpetual struggle for territory, however these details aren't reproduced in the ebook format so I was confused by the exact timelines of particular battles.

I quite expected to read Iran: A Modern History in sections around other books and for reading it to feel like studying or work! Instead I was keen to keep reading and exploring Iranian history. Amanat draws out human stories and individual characters so this book didn't feel dry. I often enjoyed reading for several hours at a time! The 20th century, as Iran swings from one cultural extreme to another, takes a disproportionate number of pages compared to medieval times. Understanding the historic events that led there, albeit in an overview, is very satisfying. Readers do need a certain level of commitment to get the most out of this book I think, however I would recommend it for history buffs and fans of historians such as Simon Schama. A good book for long winter evenings!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Abbas Amanat / History / Books from Iran

Monday, 23 October 2017

Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman


Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman
First published in the UK by Gollancz in 1975. Audio edition narrated by Reece Shearsmith published by Audible Studios in 2013.

Where to buy this book:

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How I got this book:
Downloaded the audiobook from Audible

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Cold Hand in Mine stands as one of Aickman's best collections and contains eight stories that show off his powers as a 'strange story' writer to the full. The listener is introduced to a variety of characters, from a man who spends the night in a Hospice to a German aristocrat and a woman who sees an image of her own soul. There is also a nod to the conventional vampire story ("Pages from a Young Girl's Journal") but all the stories remain unconventional and inconclusive, which perhaps makes them all the more startling and intriguing.

I took a chance on this Audible download as part of a two-for-the-price-of-one-deal having not read or listened to any of the author's work before. Sadly I struggled to get through to the end even though the collection of eight 'strange' short stories is marketed as Aickman's best. The author wrote subtle, creeping horror rather than out and out gore but unfortunately several stories are so subtle that I remained unmoved. Reece Shearsmith's odd narration doesn't particularly help either which surprised me. He sounds unrehearsed, continually halting mid-sentence and putting emphases where they don't seem to fit. The fifth story, The Hospice, is the best of a so-so bunch as its spooky atmosphere does build up nicely, but I wouldn't read any more Aickman after this experience.


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Books by Robert Aickman / Horror fiction / Books from England

Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Bastard Princess by Gemma Lawrence + Giveaway


The Bastard Princess by Gemma Lawrence
Self published in May 2015.

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Add The Bastard Princess to your Goodreads

February, 1603. 
In Richmond Palace, London, the last Queen of the Tudor dynasty, Elizabeth I, is dying. 

As Death hovers at her elbow, waiting for her to obey his call, the aged Queen looks back on her life, and on the trials, victories and sorrows which brought her eventually, to the throne of England. Not quite three years old when her mother, the notorious Anne Boleyn, was arrested and executed on charges of adultery and treason, Elizabeth became a true princess of the Tudor era, in a time when the balance of power, politics and passion were fragile… and the cost of failure was death. Her childhood and teenage years were fraught with danger as competing factions and ideologies sought to undermine and destroy her in the bid for power at the Tudor court. 

This is the story of Elizabeth Tudor, last daughter of Henry VIII, and her journey to the throne of England. Told from her own mouth… the tale of the Bastard Princess, who would, one day, become England’s greatest Queen.

Meet the author

I am an independently published author, and proud and pleased to be so! I moved into a career in writing in October 2016 after working for sixteen years as a trading company manager for an animal welfare charity. Whilst still working full time, I scribbled away on my novels, and started to publish on Amazon Kindle and Createspace three years ago. When sales of my books reached the point where I could pursue a full-time career, I took the plunge and went for it. I’ve been a full-time author for one year now and have never been happier.

I write historical fiction, and have long been fascinated by the Medieval -Tudor periods of British history. The women of the era fascinate me in particular. Especially in the Tudor period there were so many strong, courageous and often wily women, who made history despite the challenges they faced. Although I write historical fiction at the moment, I have explored other genres and would like to become a multi-genre author at some point. I live in Cornwall with my patient partner, our dog Toby, and cat Mona.

Author links: 
Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

And now for the giveaway!

Open worldwide until midnight (UK time) on November 5th, Gemma is offering a generous FOUR prizes. Thank you Gemma!

First prize going to one very lucky winner is a print copy of two Gemma Lawrence novels: The Bastard Princess and its sequel, The Heretic Heir.
Second, third and fourth prize winners will each win an ebook copy of a Gemma Lawrence novel of their choice.

Entry is via the usual Gleam widget below and don't forget you get an extra entry for each person that enters via your share link!

Gemma Lawrence historical fiction books giveaway

Good luck!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Gemma Lawrence / Historical fiction / Books from England

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Hope and Glory by Stuart Maconie


Hope and Glory by Stuart Maconie
First published in the UK by Ebury Press in May 2011.

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 on the book exchange shelves at Camping Sopalmo, Spain.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Hope and Glory Stuart Maconie goes in search of the days that shaped the Britain we live in today. Taking one event from each decade of the 20th century, he visits the places where history happened and still echoes down the years. Stuart goes to Orgreave and Windsor, Wembley and Wootton Bassett, assembling a unique cast of Britons from Sir Edmund Hillary to Sid Vicious along the way.

It’s quite a trip, full of sex and violence and the occasional scone and jigsaw. From pop stars to politicians, Suffragettes to punks, this is a journey around Britain in search of who we are.

A very different history book to Elizabeth by David Starkey which I read shortly before this. Hope And Glory reads more like an informative chat than a serious lesson although I'm yet to see if this approach is more successful in making information stick in my brain. Maconie has chosen 10 significant days in 20th century Britain as jumping off points to discuss a wide range of topics that influenced our popular culture. Politicians and Royals get a look in but he concentrates more on the input of ordinary citizens from Suffragettes to Live Aid viewers. I like the humour in this book, particularly Maconie's scathing remarks on contemporary chav and celebrity Britain, and I discovered common ground in our shared loves of walking and toasted teacakes. However, although I usually ignore them, for once an index would have been helpful. Several mentioned places inspired me to visit them, but I now have to read through again with notepad in hand to find out the wheres and whys.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Stuart Maconie / History / Books from England

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Queen's Mary by Sarah Gristwood


The Queen's Mary by Sarah Gristwood
Published in the UK by Endeavour Press in July 2017.

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In 1548 four little girls, all called Mary, set sail from Scotland for France. At five years old, they are already primed to serve another girl called Mary: Mary, Queen of Scots.

Amongst them is Mary Seton, who becomes the Queen’s lady-in- waiting. Upon their return to an unwelcoming Scotland, Queen Mary struggles to take control of her turbulent country, and she finds herself set on the path of violence and disaster which will lead eventually to her tragic end. But what of the other four Marys, bound inexorably to their mistress' fate?

Torn between her own desires and her duty to serve her mistress, Mary Seton is ultimately drawn into her Queen's web of passion and royal treachery. Must she choose between survival, or sharing the same fate as the woman she has served, loyally and lovingly, since a child?

The Queen’s Mary is an engaging and insightful novel, allowing readers to peek behind the curtain of history and see into the heart and mind of a forgotten woman who helped shape the Tudor era.


Critical acclaim for The Queen’s Mary:
“Sarah Gristwood breathes new life into the deeply tragic story of Mary Queen of Scots by telling it through the perspective of the invisible woman who sacrificed her life to serve her.”
Elizabeth Freemantle, bestselling author of The Girl in the Glass Tower

Critical acclaim for Sarah Gristwood:
“This is an enthralling account of an extraordinary life”– Spectator
“Gristwood is a mistress of the trivial detail that enthrals”– Sunday Times

Meet The Author

A regular media commentator on royal and historical affairs, Sarah Gristwood was one of the team providing Radio 4’s live coverage of the royal wedding; and has since spoken on royal and historical stories from the royal babies to the reburial of Richard III for national television and radio.

Shortlisted for both the Marsh Biography Award and the Ben Pimlott Prize for Political Writing, she is a Fellow of the RSA, and an Honorary Patron of Historic Royal Palaces. Sarah is the bestselling author of Blood Sisters, The Story of Beatrix Potter and Game of Queens.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Sarah Gristwood / Historical fiction / Books from England

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli


The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli
Self published in America in March 2014.

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Alibris

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Amazon US

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The Book Depository

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Wordery


How I got this book:
Took advantage of a free Amazon download

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Venetian gondola-maker Luca Vianello considers his whole life arranged. His father charted a course for his eldest son from the day he was born, and Luca is positioned to inherit one of the city's most esteemed boatyards. But when Luca experiences an unexpected tragedy in the boatyard, he believes that his destiny lies elsewhere. Soon he finds himself drawn to restore an antique gondola with the dream of taking a girl for a ride.

The Gondola Maker brings the centuries-old art of gondola-making to life in the tale of a young man's complicated relationship with his master-craftsman father. Lovers of historical fiction will appreciate the authentic details of gondola craftsmanship, along with an intimate first-person narrative set against the richly textured backdrop of 16th-century Venice.

I was invited to join an Italy Book Tours spotlight tour for Laura Morelli's new novel, The Painter's Apprentice, next month. That story takes place in the same historical Venice setting as The Gondola Maker and, on the strength of this first book, I am certainly looking forward to the next in the series!

The eponymous Gondola Maker, Luca, is the son of a boat-building family whose expertise, passed down through the generations, means his life expectations are limited to continuing the family business in which he has grown up. Unexpected - and very plausible - circumstances however see him cast out on his own and I loved how Morelli explores the concept of someone whose fate appeared predetermined now having an opportunity to choose their own path.

Luca is a sympathetic character, somewhat introverted which is unusual for a male lead. He has a keen eye so throughout the book we are treated to gloriously vivid descriptions of sixteenth-century Venice. I loved this aspect of the novel! I have visited Venice myself so particularly enjoyed imagining the colours, energy and aromas depicted! Morelli obviously has a great love for the city herself and this comes through, via Luca, in her writing. She must also have spent many hours researching this historical period and the craft of gondola building because this aspect of the novel always felt authentic and honest to tradition.

In reading The Gondola Maker, I was reminded of the historical richness of books by Tracy Chevalier and Jessie Burton. Perhaps this story does not quite have the intricacies and depth of of those authors' works, but it is a satisfying read with a strong sense of its place and time.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Laura Morelli / Historical fiction / Books from America

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Two Pound Tram by William Newton


Two Pound Tram by William Newton
First published in the UK by Bloomsbury in November 2003.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Alibris

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


How I got this book:
Swapped for on the book exchange shelves at Camping Sopalmo, Spain.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wilfred and Duncan live in a large old house in Sussex, only ever see their parents on Wednesdays, and spend their days catching butterflies and dreaming of adventure. Then their mother elopes and their already distant father becomes hostile. So the brothers pack their camping equipment and run away from home. They already have a plan. They're going to London to buy a tram they have seen in an advertisement, and it costs two pounds...

Judging by other reviews on Amazon, this is a Marmite book that people either adore or don't get at all. Personally, I'm in the 'underwhelmed' camp! The story is an fanciful tale of two boys running away from home and buying an ancient horse-drawn tram with which they make their living. So far, so good, but I found the book so lacking in emotional detail and depth that the events described were unbelievable. The boys seem to easily float from one town to another and when crises do occur, there's always a helpful adult on hand to make everything OK again. I lost count of how many chickens the boys stole with no comeback at all! I did enjoy the local interest aspect as much of the story takes place in Worthing which I know quite well, but this wasn't enough to redeem the book.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by William Newton / Historical fiction / Books from England

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Summer Of Secrets by Martina Reilly


The Summer Of Secrets by Martina Reilly
First published in the UK by Little, Brown Book Group in May 2008.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Alibris

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


How I got this book:
Swapped for on the book exchange shelf at Camping Navarrete, La Rioja, Spain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hope Gleeson wants to go travelling, to escape her boring London life and plan a happier future. But the unthinkable happens - the plane taking her to sunnier climes experiences technical problems and crash lands. Hope is one of only seventeen people to survive, saved from death by the man sitting next to her.Hope wakes up in hospital with her best friends Adam and Julie at her side. They are taking her home to Ireland, they tell her, to recuperate. But home is the last place Hope wants to go - she has too many secrets to hide...

I was pleasantly surprised by The Summer Of Secrets having expected a lightweight chick-lit novel and ended up with something much deeper and, in places, darker. Whoever chose the cover art really isn't doing the book justice! The three friends, Hope, Julie and Adam, are well-written and nicely flawed (from a reader's point of view!). Hope's bickering with new neighbour Logan did become a little tiresome after a while making him seem flat by comparison. I liked the story's pace which kept me interested throughout and, although the ending is predictable, it is also satisfying.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Martina Reilly / Women's fiction / Books from Ireland

Monday, 16 October 2017

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolfe


Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolfe
First published in the UK by Hogarth Press in May 1925.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Alibris

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


How I got this book:
Swapped for at Camping Le Bois du Coderc, Perigord

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On a June morning in 1923, Clarissa Dalloway is preparing for a party and remembering her past. Elsewhere in London, Septimus Smith is suffering from shell-shock and on the brink of madness. Their days interweave and their lives converge as the party reaches its glittering climax. Here, Virginia Woolf perfected the interior monologue and the novel's lyricism and accessibility have made it one of her most popular works.

I put off reading Mrs Dalloway for months because I was somewhat underwhelmed by my previous Virginia Woolf book, The Waves. The two are very different though and, once I got started, I soon found myself engrossed in Mrs Dalloway's world. The story is written in a stream of consciousness style which takes readers deeply into the thoughts and emotions of its characters. Mrs Dalloway herself is a memorable creation and I loved seeing and experiencing Edwardian London through her eyes. Woolf's attention to detail allowed me to vividly picture streets, shops and parks, and the people therein.

Mrs Dalloway is set over the course of a single day, one in which three events threaten to completely change the lives of those involved with them, however the majority of the novel explores the innermost thoughts and memories of its characters. One man returns from India and is unsure of his place in London society, another man struggles to cope with with shell shock, and Mrs Dalloway puts the finishing touches to her party preparations. It doesn't sound like a promising read I know(!), but I think this is probably my favourite of Woolf's novels that I have read so far. Each character is completely believable and the snapshot of life felt natural. Even though the book only took a few hours to read, I became immersed in its world and felt quite bereft on finishing and leaving these people behind.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Virginia Woolf / Contemporary fiction / Books from England

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Bordello Kid by Kendall Hanson


The Bordello Kid by Kendall Hanson
Published in America by Dixon-Price Publishing in August 2015.

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Alibris

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


How I got this book:
Received the ebook in return for signing up to the author's newsletter (not sure this offer is still running)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After Fat Jack Craft has been exiled from his mother's "boarding house," he must find a substitute lookout to protect the women who ply their trade for her. He discovers a tough young drifter, Farrell Gunn, who fits the bill, except for being shy and tongue-tied around women. When the drifter rescues a competing dove and convinces Jack's mother to take her in, the bordello discovers how dangerous the woman's past patrons can be. Can Farrell protect her, the other girls, and the boarding house, or will he be forced to flee for his life?

Author Kendall Hanson contacted me on Twitter asking if I would be interested in reading and reviewing one of his Western novels in return for signing up to his e-mail newsletter. I usually ignore this genre completely so thought it might be fun to take a chance - new year, new genre, new author - and the serendipitous discovery paid off. I very much enjoyed reading The Bordello Kid.

Set primarily in the bars and brothels of small town Seven Rivers, The Bordello Kid has an expertly evoked atmosphere which reminded me of the great TV series Deadwood. I loved our first sighting of soon-to-be lead character Farr who is described walking into town haloed by the setting sun. Hanson takes time creating believably real characters which I appreciated as the novel itself isn't particularly long. Although, obviously, portraying a sexist society, Hanson is as convincing when writing female characters as male ones so our story is definitely more thought-out historical fiction than macho shoot-em-up tale. Having said that, there are violent scenes, not gratuitous, but shocking all the same.

The Bordello Kid is the first in a series of at least four novels (so far) so I was glad to find myself reading a complete story arc within the novel. Threads are left open for sequels but with a satisfying sense of closure. I was so impressed that I swiftly downloaded the second volume, The Saloon War at Seven Rivers, to my Kindle.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Kendall Hanson / Western fiction / Books from America

Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Cutting Room Floor by Dawn Klehr + Giveaway


The Cutting Room Floor by Dawn Klehr
Published in America by Flux on the 8th October 2013.

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Alibris

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery

Add The Cutting Room Floor to your Goodreads

Behind-the-scenes secrets could turn deadly for Desmond and Riley .

Life in the Heights has never been easy for seventeen-year-old Riley Frost, but when she’s publicly dumped and outed at the same time, she becomes an immediate social outcast at her high school. So Riley swears off romance and throws herself into solving the shocking murder of her favorite teacher, Ms. Dunn.

Riley turns to her best friend, budding filmmaker Desmond Brandt, for help. What she doesn’t know is that Dez has been secretly directing her life, blackmailing her friends, and hoping his manipulations will make her love him. When his schemes go too far, Dez’s web of lies threatens to destroy both of their lives.



Meet the author:
Dawn Klehr is the author of the young adult thrillers: The Cutting Room Floor and If You Wrong Us.

She began her career in TV news and though she’s been on both sides of the camera, she prefers to lurk behind the lens. Mostly, she loves to get lost in stories – in film, the theater, or on the page – and is a sucker for both the sinister and the sappy. She’s currently channeling her dark side as she works on her next book.
Dawn lives in the Twin Cities with her funny husband, adorable son, and naughty dog. 

Author links: 
Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Twitter

And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 19th of October, the prize is 3x ebooks of Dawn's other YA thriller, IF YOU WRONG US with a Pumpkin Spice Latte (that will be in the form of a Starbucks e-gift card.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Dawn Klehr / Thrillers / Books from America

Friday, 13 October 2017

Money Power Love by Joss Sheldon


Money Power Love by Joss Sheldon
Self published in the UK on the 7th October 2017.

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Alibris

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Born on three adjacent beds, a mere three seconds apart, our three heroes are united by nature but divided by nurture. As a result of their different upbringings, they spend their lives chasing three very different things: Money, power and love. This is a human story: A tale about people like ourselves, cajoled by the whimsy of circumstance, who find themselves performing the most beautiful acts as well as the most vulgar. This is a historical story: A tale set in the early 1800s, which shines a light on how bankers, with the power to create money out of nothing, were able to shape the world we live in today. And this is a love story: A tale about three men, who fall in love with the same woman, at the very same time…

Authors like Joss Sheldon are the reason I love indie published books! Every so often I discover a unique and exciting voice such as his, writing informative and thought-provoking novels that are also great fun to read. If you've followed my Literary Flits reviews for a while you might already have seen me singing the praises of Occupied and The Little Voice. Money Power Love is just as good.

Set in the dawn of the modern banking era, Money Power Love is historical fiction, but written in a modern style. We view our four main characters as they live their divergent lives, but I was always aware that I was watching from a 21st century perspective. Sheldon's detailed descriptions of the rural Lambeth Marsh village and other locations allowed me to clearly envisage scenes and I love his characterisations, especially of cameo roles and people met in passing. I could almost imagine the BBC period drama adaptation as I read.

Our three heroes, Mayer, Archibald and Hugo, each embody an aspect of the novel's title and, as such, are preternaturally obsessed with the pursuit of money, power or love. This is a cleverly worked device. The three men only exist to illustrate the history Sheldon wants to tell and elements of their lives are frequently implausible, yet I still empathised and understood their choices - even when I knew the outcome would lead to the mess of a world in which we live today! Money Power Love teaches the side of economic history that Western capitalism doesn't want to be widely understood. The novel shows how false the ubiquitous 'hard work equals success' mantra is and explains how easy it is to make money from nothing if you move in the right social circles. It's all about who you know and who believes they owe you a favour!

Money Power Love is a novel of politics and economics, but don't be misled by that. It's is never dry, dull or boring. Lola particularly is great fun to spend time with and I kept reading pretty much non-stop as I couldn't bear to put the book aside! Another triumph for Joss Sheldon and a novel that I urge everyone to buy for at least one friend this Christmas!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Joss Sheldon / Historical fiction / Books from England