Friday, 17 November 2017

Ours Is The Winter by Laurie Ellingham


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

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery

Add Ours Is The Winter to your Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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





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


Author links: 
Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter




Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Laurie Ellingham / Adventure stories / Books from England

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson


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

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

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

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

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

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


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Marilynne Robinson / Contemporary fiction / Books from America

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Twofer Murder by Lauren Carr + Giveaway


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

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Alibris

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


Twofer murder? What’s a twofer murder?

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

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


Watch the trailer:




Meet the Author:



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

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

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


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



What are readers saying about Lauren Carr's mysteries?



Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Dec 4


a Rafflecopter giveaway




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

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Oddfits by Tiffany Tsao


The Oddfits by Tiffany Tsao
Published in America by Amazon Crossing in February 2016.

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eight-year-old Murgatroyd Floyd doesn’t fit in—not as a blue-eyed blonde living in Singapore, not in school, and certainly not with his aloof expatriate parents, who seem determined to make his life even harder. Unbeknownst to him, there’s a reason why he’s always the odd boy out: he is an Oddfit, a rare type of human with access to the More Known World, a land invisible to most people. Yet unfortunate circumstances keep Murgatroyd stranded in the Known World, bumbling through life with the feeling that an extraordinary something is waiting for him just beyond reach.

Seventeen years later, that something finally arrives when a secret organization dedicated to exploring the More Known World invites Murgatroyd on a mission. But as the consummate loser begins to grow into the Oddfit he was meant to be, the Known World becomes bent on exterminating him. For once in his underachieving life, will Murgatroyd Floyd exceed expectations and outsmart those trying to thwart his stupendous destiny?

The Oddfits is set in Singapore which appealed to me as I know very little about the city and Tsao gives lots of interesting insights into everyday life there. I loved the cover art too!

Tsao has created a great character in her protagonist, the unfortunately named Murgatroyd Floyd. A blonde haired, blue eyed caucasian child of British parents, Murgatroyd hasn't found his place in Singapore, even though he has never lived anywhere else, and Tsao uses this extreme example of not belonging to highlight the sense of alienation that most of us feel at one time or another. Physically different and socially inept, and with a name that is unpronounceable to Singaporean tongues, Murgatroyd only finds 'home' in an ice-cream shop owned by a strange elderly man who had previously vanished for over sixty years. Billed as science fiction, The Oddfits does take its readers to other worlds, sort of, but it is essentially a novel about how we view ourselves and how other people see us. Murgatroyd seems to call out to be pitied, yet he doesn't see himself as especially hard done by. He is content in a job that suits him perfectly, with a best friend he has known since his school days, and with parents who always do their best for him. However, once he meets a one-eyed woman in a green dress, he begins to wonder whether his future is quite so clear as he had once believed.

I frequently found myself smiling at the rich and often bizarre imagery in The Oddfits and I now really, really want to visit Singapore. There's lots of delicious-sounding food there for a start - this is another novel to read with snacks on standby! The idea of L'Abbatoir restaurant is gorily appealing although I am far to squeamish to ever eat there, and the Duck Assassin is one scary creation. I did like Olivia and James too - not as they are, obviously, but the idea that people could really behave like that is great for the book. This is a fun read with a seriously thoughtful side. It won't appeal to sci-fi fans who like action-packed books, but those who like to take a sideways glance at our own world will probably enjoy the ideas a lot.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Tiffany Tsao / Science fiction / Books from America

Monday, 13 November 2017

Venetian Blood by Christine Evelyn Volker


Venetian Blood: Murder In A Sensuous City by Christine Evelyn Volker
First published in America by She Writes Press in August 2017.

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, forty-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend—but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. A US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, Anna fights to clear her name in a seductive city full of watery illusions. As she works to pry information from a cast of recalcitrant characters sometimes denying what she sees and hears, she succeeds in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears? 

A mysterious tapestry of murder, betrayal, and family, Venetian Blood is a story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth —before it’s too late.

I've done well for Venice-set novels recently and I enjoyed Christine Evelyn Volker's addition to their ranks, Venetian Blood. The story plays itself out in the present day and I recognised several of its locations from my own brief visit to the city. Volker also takes us behind the scenes so to speak. We see into affluent homes and their courtyards as well as atmospherically exploring its narrow streets and alleys by night. I felt this author has a real affinity for Venice and appreciated her attention to detail in its presentation. Scenes such as a night-time chase came vividly to life as I read.

It did take me a few chapters to get into this story, but once this happened I was keen to keep reading. Anna is an interesting person to follow although I thought she was lucky that so much of her private investigation just happened to fall into her area of particular expertise! I felt the supporting characters needed stronger portrayals because I sometimes struggled to remember who was who. Similarities in name added to this confusion - Anna, Angela and Agatha all having important parts to play. However the intricacies of the whodunnit are nicely engrossing with the denouement being suitably unexpected and satisfying.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Christine Evelyn Volker / Crime fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Dreams Of Maryam Tair by Mhani Alaoui


Dreams Of Maryam Tair by Mhani Alaoui
First published in America by Interlink Books in June 2015.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


How I got this book:
Swapped for on the book table at Torquay Indoor Market, Devon.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Outside of time, the legendary queen Sheherazade tells a little girl a story that has happened, and is yet to happen. Dreams of Maryam Tair brings readers to a Casablanca of myth and metaphor, of curses, witches, djinns and demons. But it is also a very present-day Casablanca: a raw, pitiless landscape of crumbling urbanism and rusty ports, of bureaucrats and student revolts, and of a deep human solitude. During the Casablanca Bread Riots of 1981, a child is born to a mother surveilled and detained. She is born with the scent of orange blossoms and a body filled with pain. They call her Maryam Tair. A special, singular child, she is prophesized to carry three perfect gifts and one relentless curse.

 Richly evoking a world where magic abounds and age-old secrets are revealed, Mhani Alaoui seamlessly interweaves stories ancient and forgotten with a sprawling multigenerational family saga.

I had no idea what to expect from this novel. I thought its cover art indicated a young adult story and its lead character is a young girl for much of the narrative, however Dreams Of Maryam Tair is a wonderfully rich and lusciously detailed novel that I believe must garner dedicated fans from every age from late teens upwards. Alaoui is an incredible storyteller and I found it hard to believe that not only is this her first book, but that it hasn't been trumpeted from the rooftops. I loved every minute of reading this book!

Alaoui weaves together the ancient stories of Lilith and Adam, and Cain and Abel, and sets them into a modern-day Casablanca - a repressive society where government agents appear as black-winged demons to tear people from their homes. Narrating the story, an elderly Sheherezade breaks occasionally to smoke a pipe or listen to Leonard Cohen songs. Sheherezade is a memorably portrayed here, worldwise and cynical, but with a wicked sense of humour and fabulous shoes. Her young heroine by contrast, is introverted and thoughtful Maryam. Blighted by disability as well as overwhelming destiny, her journey takes us from high society to dank prisons to ancient talking cedar forests. Alaoui's message of equality and hope is inspirational.

This book, for me, was magical realism at its absolute best. I fully expect Dreams Of Maryam Tair to be my Book of the Month. Absolutely brilliant!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Mhani Alaoui / Fantasy fiction / Books from Morocco

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Guest Review: Anatomy Of A Soldier by Harry Parker


Anatomy Of A Soldier by Harry Parker
Published in the UK by Faber and Faber in February 2016.

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Smashwords

Speedyhen

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Wordery


Guest review by Charlie Laidlaw
I met Charlie Laidlaw on Twitter and have his novel, The Things We Learn When We're Dead, to read and review for next month. I'm planning to post about it on the 5th December to coincide with WorldReads from Scotland on Stephanie Jane. Paisley born, Charlie grew up in western Scotland before studying at the University of Edinburgh. He then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist.

Charlie's rating: 5 of 5 stars

Winner of the Waverton Good Read Award 2017
Shortlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017
Shortlisted for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2017

Imagine if your whole life changed in the blink of an eye . . .

Captain Tom Barnes is leading British troops into a war zone when he is gravely injured by an exploding IED. This devastating moment and the transformative months that follow are narrated here by forty-five objects, telling one unforgettable story.

Charlie says: In literature, there is nothing new under the sun. Whether it’s a novel about love or war, betrayal or hate, murder or redemption, it’s all been written about many times before.

All a writer can do is find a different way to tell an old story and, by giving it fresh perspective, make it new and engaging.

One trick is to give the narrator a distinct and unique voice.  That’s true, for example, in The Panopticon (Jenni Fagan), where the narrator is a young woman writing in Scottish dialect; or The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon) by a narrator with autism.  (Graeme Simsion used the same autistic flourish in The Rosie Project).

That distinctive voice can seem bizarre.  Think The Humans (Matt Haig), written by an alien, or The Last Family in England (ditto Matt Haig), written by a dog.  Or, one of my favourites, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (Xiaolu Guo), written in English by someone who doesn’t speak English very well.

Which is all by way of introduction to Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker, as narrated by the inanimate objects surrounding the life and serious injury of a British soldier in Afghanistan.

“My serial number is 6545-01-522. I was unpacked from a plastic case, pulled open, checked and reassembled. A black marker wrote BA5799 O POS on me and I was placed in the left thigh pocket of BA5799’s combat trousers. I stayed there; the pocket was rarely unfastened. I spent eight weeks, two days and four hours in the pocket. I wasn’t needed yet. I slid against BA5799’s thigh, back and forth, back and forth, mostly slowly but sometimes quickly, bouncing around. And there was noise: bangs and cracks, high-pitched whines, shouts of excitement and anger. One day I was submerged in stagnant water for an hour.”

It’s a literary device that not only moves the narrative angle but is oddly intimate – for example, telling parts of the story from the perspective of a piece of medical equipment – or oddly chilling: for example, telling another part from the unthinking viewpoint of a military drone.

It gives narrative distance.  The objects telling the story don’t make judgements: their job is simply to observe, to record the facts.  But the sum total is a story of courage; a story of combat in a distant country, and a fight to survive after appalling injury.

It may not be a new story, but its distinctive narrative make for a book that is compassionate and memorable.


Thank you Charlie!

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


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Harry Parker / War books / Books from England