Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Hatchet Hollow by Amanda McKinney + Excerpt + Giveaway

Hatchet Hollow by Amanda McKinney
Self published in America on the 24th April 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £2.15 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add Hatchet Hollow to your Goodreads

After an afternoon of mind-numbingly boring surveillance in the woods, Private Investigator Raven Cane goes for a twilight jog to clear her head, only to discover a gruesome murder in the town’s most notorious cave, Hatchet Hollow. Minutes later, the impossibly handsome Lieutenant Zander Stone arrives at the scene to take over, but Raven has a hard time letting the case go. Why did the killer cut off the victim’s fingers? More importantly, who would do such a thing?

After a failed attempt at tracking down the elusive Marden Balik, aka, the legendary witch of the Great Shadow Mountains, Zander dives headfirst into Devil’s Den’s most recent murder, only to uncover twists and turns at every step—including a secret book of curses that may, or may not, exist. As the list of suspects grows, Zander does his best to keep Raven at arm’s length. But Raven is persistent, nosing her way into his case, making it increasingly difficult to keep his concentration on the task at hand, and off of her sultry body.

And when another woman is found brutally murdered, Zander worries that Raven has gotten too close to the investigation… close enough to put her directly in the killer’s sights.


A BLACK CROW swooped down from a decaying pine tree beside her, it’s cringing caw piercing the silence of the woods. She shuddered and zipped up her windbreaker.
Abby never liked crows, or birds for that matter. Not since her parents brought her back a rare, extremely expensive—their words, not hers—parrot from Honduras when she was twelve years old. It was one of the many vacations they’d taken without her—needing a break, they’d say—and leaving her with her nanny, Fran, whose hair always looked, ironically, like a bird’s nest, and whose breath could stop a clock. The same nanny who’d tattled on her for leaving a window open, allowing the precious parrot to fly away.
Her father didn’t speak to her for a week, and her mother, only when he wasn’t looking.
But that was a long time ago. That was then, and this was now. She was a woman now, freshly turned twenty-one with her whole life ahead of her. She didn’t need her parents or the shallow gifts they’d showered her with, replacing their inability to show affection. She didn’t need them anymore, just like they didn’t need her. That’s how they always made her feel, anyway.
A cool gust of wind carrying the sour scent of moldy earth swept past her. She glanced up at the cloud-covered sky. Another dreary day. Another stupid, dull day in this small, suffocating, godforsaken town—just like the day before.
But not anymore.
She could make her own decisions now, out from under their financial thumb. Go her own way in life.
And she was.
And her parents would kill her for it.
She stepped onto the jogging trail that snaked through the woods and stumbled on a rock. She looked down at her new black running shoes laced tightly over black ankle socks. Black leggings and a black T-shirt.
She swallowed the lump in her throat.
She’d always been fascinated with the mystical, creepy folktales that were whispered through the Great Shadow Mountains. Spirits, ghosts… witches. Hundreds of stories told during dark nights with no electricity, bonfires with too many drinks, Halloween, or just about any scenario shrouded in darkness. The stories were told with glances over the shoulder and hushed voices laced with fear, and if you listened carefully enough, respect. Respect for the evil forces that could snatch you up in the middle of the night, turn you into a lizard, or worse, curse you and everyone you loved.
Witches who could raise the dead from the earth.
Witches who could take your life.
Respect, power. Those were the two things she was promised when she’d been approached about “turning over a new leaf”. Taking control of her own life—and others if needed. Yes, she would be a part of something now, of something big, she was told.
She took a deep breath, closed her eyes.
Was she apprehensive? Absolutely. But what they’d promised her had been too great to ignore. She’d been a fool to walk away.
She smoothed her black windbreaker.
Black really wasn’t her color, but they had been wearing it—head-to-toe—so she figured she’d better get used to it. There would be so much to learn, they’d explained, and embracing black was a good start, she guessed.
But dammit, it really washed her out. Her pale complexion and light blonde hair—a gift from her mother—looked even more lifeless against the unforgiving color.
Maybe she would take baby steps into the change.
Yes, baby steps.
Maybe it would be okay if she wore her red silk blouse and white Louboutin six-inch heels on her date next week.
Butterflies tickled her stomach.
A date!
She couldn’t believe it. Yes, she had been asked out by a good-looking, accomplished man, nonetheless. It was completely out of left field… and only hours after she’d officially committed to “turning over a new leaf.” Coincidence?
Yes, things were going to change for her. Things were going to go her way, for the first freaking time in her life.
She was going to be powerful, respected. Feared.
With an extra pep in her step, she rounded a corner in the trail and spotted her new jogging partner anxiously waiting ahead.
“Hey, there. You ready?”
She snorted. “As ready as I can be, I guess.”
“First mile’s always the hardest. I’ll take it easy on you. Might want to stick those keys in your pocket, though. Uneven terrain.”
“Oh, okay. Yeah.” She nodded, looked down, and as she unzipped her pocket—
Her head snapped back as a fist slammed into her jaw.
Pain rocketed through her skull. Bright lights flashed in her eyes. The metallic taste of blood filled her mouth as she stumbled backward. The world spun around her, sending a wave of nausea through her body as she tried to process what was happening.
What the hell?
She opened her eyes to fuzziness and tried to focus on the movement in front of her. But before she could come to, the next brutal force knocked her out cold.

Meet the Author

Award-winning author of sexy murder mysteries, Amanda McKinney wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY, after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Her books include the BERRY SPRINGS SERIES and the BLACK ROSE MYSTERY SERIES, with many more to come. Set in small, Southern towns, Amanda’s books are page-turning whodunits peppered with steamy romance. Amanda is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime, and lives in Arkansas with her handsome husband, two beautiful boys, and three obnoxious dogs.

Author links:
Website ~ FacebookGoodreads

And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 3rd May, the prize is a signed copy of Hatchet Hollow and a $50 Amazon Gift Card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Amanda McKinney / Crime fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Dimension Drift by Christina Bauer + Excerpt + Giveaway

Dimension Drift by Christina Bauer
Published in America by Monster House Books today, the 24th April 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £2.84 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add Dimension Drift to your Goodreads

Truth time. I go to a Learning Squirrel High School. Don’t judge.

On second thought, judge away. Learning Squirrel is one step above attending class in a junkyard. But what do you expect? Everything’s made out of garbage these days. At least, I have my freelance work to keep Mom and me housed, clothed, and fed. How? I’m your regular high school science geek for hire, except my work manipulates space-time. The good news is that these gigs pay really well; the bad news is that the government likes to kill people like me. Whatever. I’m not worried; hiding from their detection systems is easy for me.

Then I screw up one of my illegal projects. Badly.

In fact, things go so sideways that my house slips into two-dimensional space-time. The shift only lasts for a few seconds, but that’s long enough to set off a dozen government alarms. If those goons track me down, Mom and I are as good as dead. Long story short, I need to pay someone off, hide the evidence, and keep us safe.

Unfortunately, that means asking the Scythe for help. He runs the local underground crime scene and has absolutely no conscience…Or at least, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. It’s hard to think straight when a guy’s that hot in an ‘evil Mafioso kingpin’ kind of way. Most importantly, the Scythe is a crime lord who can conceal my slip-up with a few clicks on his minion’s computer keyboards. But the man has his price. In this case, the Scythe wants me to finish a certain dimensional prototype for him in twenty-four hours. I can do it, but it might mean Learning Squirrel High gets blown up in the process. Oh yes, and there’s also my new hot classmate who may or may not be an alien…and he says he’ll do anything to help me.

This job won’t be easy, but I’ve gotten out of worse scrapes. Maybe.


Chapter One

Nothing like waking up at the butt-crack of dawn to find your mother standing over your bed holding a thermos, moldy picture frame, and plastic bust of Albert Einstein.
That wakes me up, fast.
This whole thing is a shocker because for the last year, Mom’s been doing nothing but staring out the window, hoping my older sister, Luci, will come home. Such a disaster. Back in 2611, Luci ran off with her high school beau, Josiah, saying they wanted to start a new life somewhere that wasn’t Western New Massachusetts. For the record, I don’t blame my sister for leaving. Mom isn’t exactly the poster girl for stable parenting. And Josiah is a nice enough guy. You know, in the way that vanilla is a nice enough flavor.
That said, Luci only left us a quick note on the kitchen table the day she took off. Since then, my sister hasn’t sent us any word. Mind you, this is the same Luci who couldn’t go six hours without talking to Mom. Now, twelve months go by without so much as a peep? That’s not Luci.
Long story short, Mom and I are both pretty worried.
We just show it in different ways.
Mom holds up the bust of Einstein and stares at me wild-eyed. She doesn’t say anything, but that’s pretty typical. After Luci left, my mother’s routine has been pretty predictable.
Bed to window.
Window to bed.
No talking.
A little eating.
Not much sleep.
But now, Mom’s out of her chair with a vengeance. Plus, she’s even wearing one of her old lab coats from her researcher days. The frayed insignia of “United Americas” is still visible on her pocket protector. We’re not even supposed to know the name of the United Americas anymore, let alone save themed clothing. My high school teaches us that the only government that’s ever existed are the sickos in power today: the Righteous Command and Ultimate Authority. Mostly, we call them the Authority.
So what’s Mom doing in her old lab coat? Tons of scenarios skitter through my head. Most of them end with Mom getting trucked off to a mediprison. The Authority strives for purity in all things. Any signs of what they call mental weakness, and the Authority declares you an enemy of the state, and you disappear.
At this moment, the words total panic pretty much sum up my life. “What’s wrong, Mom? It’s four a.m.”

Meet the Author

Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers.

Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Stalk Christina on Social Media – She Loves It!

Author links:
Website ~ Twitter ~ FacebookGoodreads ~ LinkedIn ~ Instagram ~ Blog

And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 30th April, the prize is an ebook of Dimension Drift plus swag and cute jewellery.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Christina Bauer / Dystopian fiction / Books from America

Monday, 23 April 2018

Guest Review: Journey To The Center Of The Dream by Ted Prokash

Journey To The Center Of The Dream by Ted Prokash
Self published in America in November 2016.

Guest Review by Tony Nesca:
I'm delighted to introduce Canadian author Tony Nesca, half the team behind Screaming Skull Press, whose review today is the 30th Literary Flits Guest Review! I've got Tony's epic poem Last Stop To Saskatoon to read - watch out for that review here very soon.

Tony Nesca was born in Torino, Italy in 1965 and moved to Canada at the age of three. He was raised in Winnipeg but relocated back to Italy several times until finally settling in Winnipeg in 1980. He taught himself how to play guitar and formed an original rock band playing the local bars for several years. At the age of twenty-seven he traded his guitar for a Commodore 64 and started writing seriously. He has published six chapbooks of stories and poems, five novels, two books of poetry and has been an active contributor to the underground lit scene for ten years, being published in innumerable magazines both online and in print. He currently resides in Winnipeg and shares a house with his wife, his teenage nephew and his mother.

Tony's rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £8.75 (PB)
Wordery : from £7.73 (PB)
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £2.28 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

"It's kinda like the 21st Century version of ON THE ROAD, except it's something one would read for entertainment purposes, not out of a fear of shirking drab literary obligations." - Reverend Norb, Wisconsin punk rock legend. 

Journey to the Center of the Dream follows four brave Midwestern rubes on a dogged march through America’s dyspeptic underbelly, via the twisted bowels of her underground rock n’ roll scene. A sublime first-person odyssey. An epic poem of our New Dumb Age. Journey is an exploration of the America not pimped by the Department of Tourism or the Chamber of Commerce, a search for all that remains worthy in the hearts of men. 

Angst, drugs and rock n' roll. Get in the Minivan.

Tony says: This is Ted Prokash's third book and it is, in this reviewer's opinion, his best work yet - now that is saying a lot considering that his first two offerings, A Fool For Lesser Things and The Brothers Connolly were excellent novels, reminiscent of books that appeared in that glory-filled, ultra-creative time that was the 1920's. Journey to the Center of the Dream is more visceral, more streamlined, a work that comes from the guts loaded with rock and roll electricity. all sinew and bravado.

The story is about Marlow, Leo, Dante, and Dessy, four alternative, quasi-punk rock and rollers (a bit older than usual) with a band called Black Darkness, that embark on a cross-country bar-tour of the United States. A journey of drugs, booze, and music follows punctuated with keen observations on the loss of art and culture and anything with a reward of more than just the immediate. What is great about this book is that we are not being offered the rarefied life of elite rock stars snorting cocaine off of naked bodies and demolishing 5 star hotels, we are seeing a tour of seedy bars and dark basement gigs, with most gigs poorly attended and poorly promoted, but all present into the music and the scene with guts and glory, and with the band kicking the jams, man, kicking it hard and loud. This is rock and roll. This is pure and real. The prose flits and grooves and moves and snarls its way through the whole book like a wolverine on the prowl and it surrounds the reader with movement and style and down and dirty intelligence.

This reviewer gives Journey to the Center of the Dream an enthusiastic 5 stars out of 5. A fantastic read!

Thank you Tony!

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!

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Books by Ted Prokash / Contemporary fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
First published by Hamish Hamilton in 2017.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £5.39 (PB)
Wordery : from £5.76 (PB)
Waterstones : from : £6.99 (PB)
Amazon : from £3.58 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

An extraordinary story of love and hope from the bestselling, Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing - to fall in love - in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.

Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind - when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world.

I wish I could have loved Exit West as much as the reviewers quoted on the book do, but unfortunately I ended up just a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong. This is still an above average novel and a very good four star read, but I felt it could and should have gripped me that bit more. It should have been a five star and, for me at least, it wasn't.

On the positive side, I did appreciate the tense early scenes in maybe-Syria as Nadia and Saeed's city slowly and then rapidly succumbs to civil war. A line about a flat's boulevard view making it sought after in peacetime, but an obvious target in wartime felt particularly poignant in this week of Teresa May deciding more British bombs is a humane answer. Exit West briefly reminded me of The Cellist Of Sarajevo as streets become impassable, water and electricity supplies fail, and simply standing near a window is to put one's life at risk. In this hostile environment, Nadia and Saeed fall in love. Their relationship is completely believable and I did like these characters, but somehow I always felt detached from them. I am not sure if perhaps I was too often told rather than shown, but I always felt like their story was being recounted to me rather than my being fully immersed in it.

This feeling of detachment became stronger as the book progressed. The dark dystopia of the London scenes grabbed my attention and I did like the idea of the doorways. Fantastical obviously, but a vivid illustration of how migrants are often perceived. There is a sense of menace about the darkness of these journeys and in the way the people taking them just appear, one after another after another. As Nadia and Saeed approched their first doorway, I understood how desperate people would have to be to take such a risk.

Perhaps also a problem with Exit West is that it is a short book, especially short considering the amount of story it has to tell. I wanted more depth and to connect more, particularly with Saeed who, at times, I am not sure I fully understood. Reading back over this review I realise it does have quite a negative vibe which is harsh. I did enjoy reading Exit West and would happily pick up another Hamid novel. I think my expectations were just pitched too high.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Mohsin Hamid / Contemporary fiction / Books from Pakistan

Saturday, 21 April 2018

On The Cold Coasts by Vilborg Davidsdottir

On The Cold Coasts by Vilborg Davidsdottir
First published in Icelandic as Galdur by Forlagid in Iceland in 2000. English language translation by Alda Sigmundsdottir published by AmazonCrossing in 2012.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £5.74 (audio CD)
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : from : £8.99 (PB)
Amazon : from £0.01 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

When a fleet of one hundred English ships is caught in a horrible storm off the cold coasts of fifteenth-century Iceland, twenty-five ships are lost. For Ragna, the daughter of a respected family and betrothed to Thorkell, her relationship with one of the seamen washed ashore results in pregnancy. Now barren due to a traumatic childbirth and stigmatized as a fallen woman, she is left with no prospects for marriage when the betrothal is ultimately canceled.

A decade later, Ragna becomes a housekeeper to the new English bishop in North Iceland, where passionate and ambitious Thorkell is a priest and steward. They embark on a fervent but doomed love affair as priests cannot marry and Ragna will not be a concubine. Little does Ragna know but her host, the bishop, is instigating the conflict between the English and Nordic settlers to his own gain, with a devastating impact on his housekeeper. As sweeping as it is intimate, On the Cold Coasts is a powerful, enduring story of love and personal sacrifice.

I'm going to start by saying On The Cold Coasts is an ok story. For the £1 I spent on the Amazon ebook, it was quite good value, but there were several things that niggled and prevented a higher rating and more enthusiastic response.

Firstly, the synopsis gave me to understand that the book would follow the life of Ragna, a woman in fifteenth century Iceland. This is kind of true, but I felt the majority of the scenes actually focused on Men Doing Important Things while Ragna was relegated to the sidelines or even off into the kitchen. Her torrid romance with Thorkell left me pretty cold too. He occasionally notices she exists and they sleep together, which apparently is enough for her to consider him the love of her life. I know social standards were different back then, but this woman is excelling in a responsible job while raising a son singlehandedly. I just didn't buy that, romantically, she would allow herself to be so ignorantly treated!

Iceland itself is well described and I got a good sense of the religious struggles of the time. Various branches of the Church all believe Iceland's trading profits should be theirs and the English (of course!) Bishop is one of the most sly. Overall though, I think On The Cold Coasts just wasn't rich enough a historical novel for me. I do like to be swept up in lots of period detail and this story was more action-focused. So, yes, an ok read, but it's no Burial Rites!

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Vilborg Davidsdottir / Historical fiction / Books from Iceland

Friday, 20 April 2018

The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking

The Little Book Of Hygge: The Danish Way To Live Well by Meik Wiking
First published by the UK by Penguin in September 2016.

How I got this book:
Won in a giveaway

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £5.29 (HB)
Wordery : from £8.23 (HB)
Waterstones : from : £7.99 (HB)
Amazon : from £0.52 (used HB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That's down to one thing: hygge.

'Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight...'

You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right.

Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.

I managed to overstretch myself with book reviews this month and rather than facing the problem head on by steadily working through everything that's rapidly becoming overdue, I briefly chose the Head In Sand approach by picking up The Little Book Of Hygge instead. It wasn't even on my reading list! Won while we were travelling, my sister forwarded it onto me today. Appropriately it turns out that maintaining connections with friends and family is part of Hygge and probably the aspect I am worst at. Reclining on my vintage chaise longue (complete with its hand crocheted blanket made by Moi!) in order to read a book is strongly Hyggeligt. So is drinking frequent cups of tea and eating cake (baking my own cake is extra Hyggeligt!). Stressing about unwritten book reviews is not at all encouraged. I think I have finally found the lifestyle label that actually suits how I love to live!

My difficulty in reviewing The Little Book Of Hygge is in separating my enthusiasm for the lifestyle from my thoughts on the book itself. Certain aspects such as the overall idea, the inspirational photographs, the inclusion of recipes and crafts, and Wiking's gentle humour were definite positives for me. I also liked the sort-of science which identified similar concepts across Europe and the thoughts on the history of hygge. What didn't work so well for me was the repetition of ideas. Self help books are meant to be motivational and I accept that repetition is a strong part of reinforcing new habits, but by about two-thirds of the way through I started to feel that there were rather more pages available than material to fill them!

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Meik Wiking / Self help books / Books from Denmark

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Sons Of Gods by Arthur J Gonzalez + Excerpt + Giveaway

Sons Of Gods by Arthur J Gonzalez
Published in America by Fahrenheit Publishing in January 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £0.99 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add Sons Of Gods to your Goodreads

Long ago, the wrath of the three God brothers marked the onset of the Great War. The other Gods watched in horror, until they, too, were forced to take sides. Their beloved Mt Olympus collapsed, ruin was brought to all Divine, and the Age of Darkness gripped the world in its clutches. But a group of Gods was wise, and before their impending deaths, they had crafted a pact, committing to one day rebuilding the Territories – the Heavens, Seas, and the Underworld. It would usher in the world they protected and honored out from its darkness. And from it would rise the new Greats: the Sons of Gods.

Cienzo has always had an affliction for metal and fire; never did he anticipate it would one day translate to wielding dormant powers. It is during a journey to fulfill a promise to his dying sister, that he is plunged into a dark and magical world, and where great responsibility is bestowed upon him.

Is he worthy of assuming the throne of the Territories? Can shattering steel and splitting fire change his mind?


“Cal,” he said softly. “Trust me.”
Caleseus glared into Cienzo’s eyes. There was a small glimmer of something he had never seen before in them. The trip had surprised everyone, even Caleseus, a creature that had survived a world of extinct enchantment. But even this reality was incredibly untouchable for anyone’s imagination to conjure. Something grand was happening, Caleseus could feel it too.
“I did not see what your eyes did,” Caleseus continued. “But I promised Kayana to look after you. For me to do so, I must trust you. You have my word.”
Cienzo gave a nod. Caleseus nodded back, a slight bend in his step. And in that small moment, a world of understanding had been exchanged between the two. Cienzo sensed it at his core. Cal no longer accompanied him for the sake of Kayana. He might say so, but his earlier hesitation had been replaced, swapped by the belief that something great waited to expose itself. The world was changing, and together, they would encounter it.
“Now that that’s settled,” Zendaya said, gesturing for Cienzo to climb aboard Phobos. “Can we get on?”
Cienzo climbed Phobos’s back, grappling the jutting skin of the beast to pull himself upward. He flopped onto the velvet-cushioned seats. His heart raced as he strapped himself in. I’m about to take flight. His fingers trembled. What would it feel like? Never had he thought it a possibility to travel by air and not by land.
What else had he missed out on? The possibilities seemed inestimable.
Zendaya took her place beside him. She did not waste time strapping herself in. A sign of adeptness. Cienzo moved the same way around metal and fire. “Ready?” she asked.
He blew out a breath. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Our adventure begins.” She leaned forward and petted Phobos’s neck. The creature let out a moaning growl. “Let us fly,” she said. “Our time is now.”
Phobos’s wings launched outward like giant sails on a ship; so vast and dominating they veiled the view of the mammoth, frosted willow. She flapped lightly until they hovered just slightly in the air; the braided chain of the metal hung from her neck as it tugged on the cabin that held the centaur and the nymph. Then Phobos clenched her razor talons around the outcropped handle of the cabin’s domed roof and whisked them into the air as one would a pail of water.
Phobos plunged skyward toward the glittering moon. The beating, cold wind of flight tickled at Cienzo’s skin. A new sensation for his senses to query, for wind was an absent thing in Thilos. The pillow clouds broke away against the angles of his face; the collisions turning them to dust in the night.
He looked down as they soared over the crown of Thilos. The sinkhole swirled less furiously, the giant net sparkling against the moonlight like its own constellation.
The flames of firelight from the rescued houseboats flickered below them. The higher they ascended, the more a sense of freedom swelled in his chest. It was a feeling of invincibility, of infiniteness. He felt an air of the God that Zendaya claimed him to be.
Everything at this altitude was peaceful. Pain, he thought, was a disease of the land. He thought of Isla then and how much she would have enjoyed this adventure. In the sky, the moon offered tranquility, a melody to soothe away worry. Out in the deep distance, the Forcaian Mountains skewed the steamrolled horizon. Stars continued their tango around its peaks.
The Sea of Air blanketed the borders of Thilos and foaming waves fed the coastlines. From here, even the dangerous ocean seemed harmless and docile, as it was once made to be.
Zendaya eyed Cienzo as he inhaled the skies. His hair wildly slapped at the clouds. He felt her stare and turned his face. I probably look like a child. Eyes opening to a world that is only just unraveling around me. A deep longing shifted within him and his mind scrambled for peace.
“You think too much,” she said, the wind pummeling at her words. Her eyes remained unwavering. “The Skies will forever be yours to marvel over. For now, you should rest. Soon we will arrive.”

Meet the Author

Arthur J. Gonzalez is a Young Adult author of the Photo Traveler series. Originally born in Miami, FL, you can now find him living on the West side in Los Angeles. If he’s not drinking coffee or playing with his adorable Schnoodle, Sookie, then he’s probably enjoying a nap. Also, he forgets the lyrics to nearly every song.

Author links:
Website ~ Twitter ~ FacebookGoodreads

And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 26th April, the prize is a $25 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Arthur J Gonzalez / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Last Letter by Kathleen Shoop

The Last Letter by Kathleen Shoop
Self published in America in February 2011.

Literary Flits Spotlight Giveaway Winner

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £8.95 (PB)
Wordery : from £8.94 (PB)
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £2.94 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add The Last Letter to your Goodreads

Katherine wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t found the letter...

Katherine Arthur's mother arrives on her doorstep, dying, forcing her to relive a past she wanted to forget. When Katherine was young, the Arthur family had been affluent city dwellers until shame sent them running for the prairie, into the unknown. Taking her family, including young Katherine, to live off the land was the last thing Jeanie Arthur had wanted, but she would do her best to make a go of it. For Jeanie's husband Frank it had been a world of opportunity. Dreaming, lazy Frank. But, it was a society of uncertainty—a domain of natural disasters, temptation, hatred, even death. 

Ten-year-old Katherine had loved her mother fiercely, put her trust in her completely, but when there was no other choice, and Jeanie resorted to extreme measures on the prairie to save her family, she tore Katherine’s world apart. Now, seventeen years later, and far from the homestead, Katherine has found the truth – she has discovered the last letter. After years of anger, can Katherine find it in her heart to understand why her mother made the decisions that changed them all? Can she forgive and finally begin to heal before it’s too late?

Meet The Author
Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Author links:
Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

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Books by Kathleen Shoop / Historical fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Heirloom by Camillea + Free Book

Heirloom by Camillea
Self published in 2015.

Where to buy this book:
Available for free download from Payhip

How I got this book:

Downloaded the ebook from Payhip

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

HEIRLOOM is a collection of 10 poems about lambs, mothers, and sleeping gods. Poems on finding the ancient in our skin.

I was woefully underprepared for April being Poetry Month but fortunately Daniela at Nocturnal Devices is on the ball! (To be fair, it's National Poetry Month in the US and here in the UK we just get one National Poetry Day in the autumn, so I'm joining in with the Americans!) In this post here, Daniela highlighted fellow blogger Camillea's chapbook, Heirloom. Happy to accept her recommendation, I downloaded the book straight away.

Heirloom is short yet powerful collection and it took me several slow reads to fully immerse myself into these poems. Camillea uses unexpected imagery to create her works so I couldn't take any easy route through the interpretation. I had to really think about almost every line (which, I admit, I often don't when reading poetry), however, by the end I appreciated having made the effort. Camillea focuses on the experience of women and the poem Biography Of The Mother is superb. I felt this poem was about the idea of an ancient Woman, but also generations of women living similar experiences and the power of this gender line being often unrealised.

Some of my favourite lines, clipped from different poems, include
"For when I speak loneliness fluently
my own name sounds unfamiliar"
"i will never teach
you to hold a gun, but i will teach you to hold your tongue steadier than
your grandfather’s pistol, and sharper than the lashings on your daddy’s back"
"was your love ever just breadcrumbs,
and your body only a dandelion path home?"
Camillea has a great turn of phrase! I accept that I didn't completely understand every poem, but loved the feeling of these words washing over me as I read and catching different glimpses of meaning with each reading. If you're looking for a strong poetry collection to read this Poetry Month, give Heirloom a try.

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Books by Camillea / Poetry / Books from the Philippines

Monday, 16 April 2018

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga + Giveaway

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
First published in the UK by The Women's Press in 1988.

How I got this book:
Bought the paperback from World Of Books via Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £6.11 (PB)
Wordery : from £6.10 (PB)
Waterstones : from £8.99 (PB)
Amazon : from £0.91 (used HB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

A modern classic in the African literary canon and voted in the Top Ten Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, this novel brings to the politics of decolonization theory the energy of women's rights. An extraordinarily well-crafted work, this book is a work of vision. Through its deft negotiation of race, class, gender and cultural change, it dramatizes the 'nervousness' of the 'postcolonial' conditions that bedevil us still. In Tambu and the women of her family, we African women see ourselves, whether at home or displaced, doing daily battle with our changing world with a mixture of tenacity, bewilderment and grace.

"I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologising for my callousness, as you may define it, my lack of feeling. For it is not that at all. I feel many things these days, much more than I was able to feel in the days when I was young and my brother died, and there are reasons for this more than the mere consequence of age. Therefore I shall not apologise but begin by recalling the facts as I remember them that led up to my brother's death, the events that put me in a position to write this account. For though the event of my brother's passing and the events of my story cannot be separated, my story is not after all about death, but about my escape and Lucia's; about my mother's and Maiguru's entrapment; and about Nyasha's rebellion - Nyuha, far-minded and isolated, my uncle's daughter, whose rebellion may not in the end have been successful"

After such a striking first paragraph, I had high hopes for Nervous Conditions and I wasn't disappointed. First published in the 1980s, I was interested - and somewhat disappointed - to realise that a lot of the issues Dangarembga's characters face are still being written about as present day problems in novels thirty years later. Young Tambudzai is a child at the beginning of our story. She doesn't understand her mother's warning advice about her fate as a woman and instead strives to equal her spiteful brother, Nhamo. Nhamo is selected to follow in his uncle's footsteps and be educated at the Mission School. Uncle Babamukuru is the shining light of the extended family. Educated away from his family by white missionaries, he later was even able to study for five years in 1960s England, as did his wife Maiguru, and their children were partially brought up there. Babamukuru has a beautiful house, a good car and the job of Headmaster at the school. Everyone wants their children to emulate his success, but Dangarembga slowly pulls back a curtain to reveal what such Westernised success has destroyed.

Dangarembga illustrates how the culture clash of colonialism was to the extreme financial detriment of many black people unless they were the 'lucky' few chosen to live within while educational programmes and the like. In order to benefit however, those people had to forgo their traditional culture and replicate the restrictive white examples set them. What I found difficult to reconcile in my mind though was that the portrayal of black life is one of grinding poverty and constant labour, especially for the women. I often felt like yelling at the female characters to walk away and stand up for themselves, but of course - and as a couple of them discover - there is rarely anywhere to walk away to. Maiguru cannot use her academic brilliance in employment and having university degrees casts her as a loose woman. Obviously! Tambudzai might strive to equal and even surpass her brother, but what will she actually gain by that in a country where both black and white see excessive education as wasted on women.

I liked that Dangarembga doesn't attempt to offer easy solutions to her characters' predicaments. As a reader, I sometimes thought I saw an obvious solution, but I would soon realise I hadn't taken everything about a particular situation into account. I strongly felt for the women trapped in a certain traditionally proscribed existence and especially for those who had a glimpse of genuine alternatives (the niece partly raised in the UK for example) I couldn't begin to truly understand what they went (and are still going) through.

And now for the Giveaway!

Open internationally until midnight (UK time) on the 23rd April, the prize is my copy of Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. Second-hand, yes, but still in good condition!
Entry is by was of the Gleam widget below:

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga giveaway

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Books by Tsitsi Dangarembga / Contemporary fiction / Books from Zimbabwe

Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
First published by Canongate in October 2005.

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £5.99 (PB)
Wordery : from £7.34 (PB)
Waterstones : from £8.99 (PB)
Amazon : from £0.32 (used HB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

For Penelope, wife of Odysseus, maintaining a kingdom while her husband was off fighting the Trojan war was not a simple business. Already aggrieved that he had been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her beautiful cousin Helen, Penelope must bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours and keep over a hundred lustful, greedy and bloodthirsty suitors at bay...

I saw AJ Sterkel's review of The Penelopiad on her blog Read All The Things back in January and thought I might enjoy the book, so was then delighted to spot this reissue on NetGalley a few weeks later. I've had a copy of Homer's The Odyssey sitting on my bookshelf for at least a year now awaiting reading. I don't think I've ever actually read the whole book, although I know the gist of several of Odysseus' adventures, and I admit being put off by its 300-odd epic-poem-in-small-print pages. The Penelopiad's relative brevity was far more enticing!

Atwood focusses on what Penelope might have done and felt during the years Odysseus was away firstly at war and then 'lost' on his famous odyssey home, and has Penelope tell us her side of the story from the afterlife where she is still surrounded by many of the people she knew in life. Of one of her Suitors who still hangs around she says:
"The man was a pest when he was alive and a pest he remains."
Penelope's sense of humour frequently chimed exactly with mine so I appreciated her sarcasm and wry observations. For many years she is effectively a woman abandoned and emotionally alone so, while appearing strong to the outside world, privately she does indulge in an awful lot of weeping - one of the perils of a Naiad mother apparently. Too much water. Penelope is doomed to live in a state of limbo repeatedly hearing rumours of Odysseus' wanderings and minstrel songs of his adventures while never learning when or even if he will return home. I loved the dry interpretations:
"Odysseus was the guest of a goddess on an enchanted isle, said some; she had turned his men into pigs - not a hard job in my view - ... no, said others, it was just an expensive whorehouse and he was sponging off the madam."
I wasn't so enamoured of the Greek chorus of maids who burst into poetry or song every so often. I understood this inclusion as it is reflective of the original Greek sagas and a good way to advance the plot by several years in a few verses, but it didn't have the humour of the prose chapters. The maids themselves are perhaps the most hard done by, realistically so, in this Odyssey retelling. Abused and ill treated by the horde of Suitors, they are then the ones to face ultimate punishment at the hands of Odysseus and his now-adult son. Atwood researched a variety of sources for The Penelopiad and her interpretations of the maids' gruesome end was very interesting to me. Instead of taking the patriarchal tale at face value, she looks at scant clues remaining to offer a different understanding of their, and Penelope's, true roles. It's an idea I would like to see explored more fully.

Overall, I enjoyed much about The Penelopiad. It did feel a bit too much of an Odyssey summary in places and I think a longer historical novel from Penelope's viewpoint might have been more satisfying, but I liked how Atwood envisaged her and her world. I will now (eventually) go into reading The Odyssey itself from an angle other than the one Homer probably intended.

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Books by Margaret Atwood / Mythology / Books from Canada

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Territory Of Light by Yuko Tsushima

Territory Of Light by Yuko Tsushima
First published in Japanese as Hikari no Ry­obun in Japan by Gunzo in 1978 and 1979. English language translation by Geraldine Harcourt published by Penguin Classics on the 5th April 2018.

My 1970s read for my 2017-2018 Decade Challenge

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £9.99 (PB)
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : from £9.99 (PB)
Amazon : from £4.45 (PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

It is Spring. A young woman, left by her husband, starts a new life in a Tokyo apartment. Territory of Light follows her over the course of a year, as she struggles to bring up her two-year-old daughter alone. Her new home is filled with light, streaming through the windows, so bright you have to squint, but she finds herself plummeting deeper into darkness; becoming unstable, untethered. As the months come and go, and the seasons turn, she must confront what she has lost and what she will become.

At once tender and lacerating, luminous and unsettling, Territory of Light is a novel of abandonment, desire and transformation. It was originally published in twelve parts in the Japanese literary monthly Gunzo, between 1978 and 1979, each chapter marking the months in real time.

I loved this novella! It's one of those deceptively simple stories in which nothing really happens, but during its course we see how everything changes. Our story begins as our unnamed young mother and her toddler daughter move into a fourth floor apartment and ends a year later when they leave. Recently separated from her husband, the mother has to learn how to live alone, how to make her own decisions, and how to cope with the demands of her job and caring for her daughter.

I didn't realise until I came to write this review that Territory Of Light was written in the 1970s. Several aspects of the woman's relationship and deference to her estranged husband annoyed me to the extent I was muttering 'Stand up for yourself!' at my Kindle. However, for a woman to be contemplating divorce and initiating the proceedings herself forty years ago, especially in socially conservative Japan, is a strong statement of her increasing confidence and independence.

I was swept along by Tsushima's prose which is beautifully artistic in its descriptions. She focuses on light and colour to bring settings such as the apartment, the street and the park to life. Simple scenes such as cherry blossom petals falling onto a little girl are stunning and I was envious of the apartment - until the nets went up at least! The woman obviously struggles to cope and I could empathise with her determination to do her best even as she flounders.

Territory Of Light is a short book which I devoured in an afternoon, mainly because I just didn't want to set it aside and return to the real world! How people coped waiting for the original monthly magazine instalments is beyond me! I am now suffering quite a book hangover and plan to search out more of Tsushima's writing as soon as I finish this review. Hopefully this is not the only one of her books to have been translated.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Yuko Tsushima / Novellas / Books from Japan

Friday, 13 April 2018

El Hacho by Luis Carrasco

El Hacho by Luis Carrasco
Published in the UK by Epoque Press on the 22nd February 2018.

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £7.99 (PB)
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : from £7.99 (PB)
Amazon : from £1.99 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

The brilliant debut novel by Luis Carrasco, El Hacho is a timeless evocation of inheritance, duty and our relationship to the landscape that defines us. Set in the stark beauty of the Andalusian mountains it tells the story of Curro, an olive farmer determined to honour his family tradition in the face of drought, deluge and the lucrative temptations of a rapidly modernising Spain. Wonderfully crafted, El Hacho is a poignant and compelling story of struggle and hope.

I'm generally wary (and often downright sceptical) of a synopsis that starts with such high praise for the novel it describes, but in the case of El Hacho I can agree that 'brilliant' is completely justified! This novella beautifully evokes the hard lives of its rural Andalusian farming family and I loved spending the few hours with them that it took to read El Hacho. Having seen the dry Spanish landscapes that Carrasco describes, I could easily imagine this countryside. Even if I had not been there though, the descriptions are so vivid and detailed that every field and path springs to life.

Curro himself is a man completely at one with his land and, as he says, who could never envisage himself anywhere else even though the work to maintain his farm is back-breakingly hard. I did not envy him or his wife, Carmen, their seemingly endless labour, but I found myself hankering after their peaceful, natural home! Carrasco's understated prose complements Curro's taciturn ways perfectly and I particularly loved the strong bond between Curro and Carmen. This is a lovely read and a wonderful insight into a fast vanishing way of life.

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Books by Luis Carrasco / Novellas / Books from England

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Tiger And The Acrobat by Susanna Tamaro

The Tiger And The Acrobat by Susanna Tamaro
First published in Italian as La Tigre e l'Acrobata in Italy by La nave di Yeseo in 2016. English language translation by Nicoleugenia Prezzavento and Vicki Satlow published by Oneworld in 2017.

How I got this book: Borrowed from a friend

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : from £6.01 (PB)
Waterstones : from £8.99 (PB)
Amazon : from £2.77 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Little Tiger is not like other tigers. She is curious about the world and always questions everything, not content to simply follow in her mother’s footsteps and spend her days hunting around their home in the snow forests of Siberia. Instead, she embarks on a remarkable journey, intent on discovering the secrets of the Earth and eventually finding the creature she has heard most about: man. 

This captivating story of a brave young tiger who refuses to give up on her dreams is a celebration of the power of nature and the beauty of innocence, and is a testament to the courage it takes to be true to ourselves. 

This is a lovely, gentle read whose ambience reminded me of Silk by Alessandro Baricco and  The Peculiar Life Of A Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault although the stories in each of these three books are very different. Little Tiger herself is a humanised creation so, while she does tiger-like things such as catching hares to eat, this isn't a realistic nature story. I felt it more as a philosophical imagining where the legendary power of tigers represents a facet of life, their isolation from each other is another facet, and their freedom a third. It's a meandering, thoughtful tale which I thought suited me well at the time I read time because I was in that kind of a mood, but I wonder if I might not have enjoyed it so much had I picked the 'wrong' time to read it. There are lessons on life and freedom, appreciating ourselves as we are and striving to fit where perhaps we weren't meant to be. The language is simple and the ideas are deep so this is a relatively quick read that lingers long after I finished the book.

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Books by Susanna Tamaro / Contemporary fiction / Books from Italy

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Then There Were None by B P Smythe + Free Book

Then There Were None by B P Smythe
Published in the UK by Dolman Scott on the 16th March 2018.

Download a free B P Smythe short story from his publisher, Bloodhound Books or contact him directly to request a review copy of Then There Were None (author links below).

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £5.99 (PB)
Wordery : from £7.27 (PB)
Waterstones : from £5.99 (PB)
Amazon : from £2.99 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add Then There Were None to your Goodreads

Lydia Perkins is a struggling actress desperately looking for work. Drifting from one unsuccessful audition to the next and always being pipped at the post by younger and prettier actresses for good drama parts that could enhance her career. However, her agent Maurice Weinstock informs her that a fantastic part has just come up for grabs. It’s to play the wife in a TV sitcom. There are four other actresses after the part so he can’t promise anything. Lydia knows the actresses. She will stop at nothing including murder to get the right part for money and fame. Even if it means killing off the competition to land the lucrative TV sitcom role. Lydia knows how to handle a gun. Having grown up on her parent’s farm. She learnt how to shoot helping her father kill foxes and vermin as well as providing game for the Sunday roast. One by one Lydia kills off the opposition. It comes easy for her. She has killed before. Newspaper headlines called it a family tragedy with her parents shot dead by her sister suffering from depression. Only Lydia knows the truth. 

Meet The Author

B.P.Smythe studied engineering at Carshalton College and eventually became a member of the Institute of Quality Assurance. His engineering career took on many roles including toolmaking and being a technical writer for an artificial limb manufacturer. However, he always enjoyed putting pen to paper while raising quality manuals and writing reports. Wanting to expand his writing knowledge, B.P. obtained a Level 3 / NCFE Certificate / PI410 Creative Writing Diploma.

Sow And You Shall Reap is his first self- published novel. He has also submitted numerous short stories for internet competitions, winning £100 as first prize for his A Rose without a Thorn for the Spinetinglers Publishing online magazine and winning £50 first prize for his We’ll Meet Again in the Dark Places online magazine. Two of his other short stories, Love Me Do and My Secret Place have been published in the printed Litro Magazine (Issue 140).

In 2016 B.P. secured a three book deal of short stories from Bloodhound BooksFrom a Poison Pen is his first book of short stories for which he received over fifty positive reviews on and His second book of short stories, From a Poison Pen Vol II, followed in September 2016.

Author links:
Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by B P Smythe / Thrillers / Books from England