Thursday, 22 June 2017

Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard


Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard
First published in the UK by Bantam Press in January 2010.

I registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing

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

How I got this book:
Swapped for in the book exchange at Serro Da Bica campsite, Ourique, Portugal.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eldritch Swan is a dead man. Or at least that is what his nephew Stephen has always been told. Until one day Eldritch walks back into his life after 36 years in an Irish prison. He won't reveal any of the details of his incarceration, insisting only that he is innocent of any crime.

His return should be of interest to no-one. But the visit of a solicitor with a mysterious request will take Eldritch and his sceptical nephew from sleepy seaside Paignton to London, where an exhibition of Picasso paintings from the prestigious Brownlow collection proves to be the starting point on a journey that will transport them back to the Second World War and the mystery behind Eldritch's imprisonment.

In 1940, he was personal assistant to a wealthy diamond dealer in Antwerp, whose collection of modern art was the envy of many. The subsequent disappearance of those paintings began a trail of murder and intrigue which was to have a catastrophic effect on Eldritch's life. But untangling the web of murky secrets, family ties and old betrayals that conceals the truth will prove to be a dangerous pursuit for Eldritch and Stephen. Before long, a mysterious enemy is doing everything possible to stop the truth emerging - at whatever cost

I was pleasantly surprised by this thriller which was much more convoluted and well-plotted than I expected it to be. The plotlines jump between two main time periods - the 1940s and the 1970s - and I was interested in the differences in detail between the two. Goddard evokes each period well and I loved his scene-setting which adds immensely to the atmosphere of this novel. Subsequent generations of several families become involved in the intrigues which did mean I needed to concentrate in order to keep awareness of who was who, but that is certainly not a bad thing! Overall I found Long Time Coming to be an enjoyable and satisfying read.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Robert Goddard / Thrillers / Books from England

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

First There Wasn't, Then There Was by Troy Blackford


First There Wasn't, Then There Was by Troy Blackford
Self-published in America in February 2014.

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

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four young men have noticed a peculiar man wandering around the streets downtown where they work, muttering to himself with a trashbag slung over his shoulder. After one of them hatches a plan to capture the strange old man's words, the group quickly realize that the fellow has seen and done things that defy the imagination. A metaphysical tale of action and adventure that takes you beyond the bounds of normal human experience and into a world of secret colors and hidden doorways, of uncoiling panthers and recoiling nailguns, 'First There Wasn't, Then There Was' is a novella unlike any other.

I read Troy Blackford's short story collection Flotsam nearly three years ago so already had an idea of his genre-defying style and the darkly surreal way in which his stories interpret the world. This novella-length story certainly didn't disappoint on that score! We begin by meeting four young men whose only genuine commonality seems to be their smoke breaks leaning against the wall of their office building and I loved Blackford's portrayal of this group, recognising in it similar cliques with whom I have worked over the years.

First There Wasn't, Then There Was is a real lesson in not judging a person by their appearance. The apparently homeless tramp about whom the leaners set themselves a challenge of learning more, turns out to be an ingenious storyteller with quite an adventure to recount! Adventure, thriller and fantasy blend in his tale which I enjoyed reading. I did feel that some parts of the novella felt too rushed and I would have liked stronger character development alongside the action, but otherwise this is a fun story.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Troy Blackford / Horror fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Parthenon Bomber by Christos Chrissopoulos


The Parthenon Bomber by Christos Chrissopoulos
First published in Greek in Greece in 2010. English language translation by John Cullen published by Other Press today, the 20th June 2017.

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

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A novel at once metaphorical and iconoclastic, The Parthenon Bomber exposes the painful and maddening paradox of contemporary Greece. “Blow up the Acropolis” was the 1944 call to action by the surrealist circle the Harbingers of Chaos. Sixty years later, a young man obliges. The Parthenon has been destroyed, the city orphaned. Is it still Athens? All eyes are on the empty hill, now smoky and ashen. Cries of distress, indifference, and fanaticism fill the air. What were his reasons? How will he be punished for this unspeakable act of violence? What does it mean for Greece, now deprived of its greatest symbol? This provocative tale reveals the unique dilemma of a country still searching for an identity beyond its past as the birthplace of Western civilization.

Originally published in Greece seven years ago, The Parthenon Bomber has only now been translated into English and is an intense and unusual novella. The story is told from a number of viewpoints beginning with the testimony of a man known as Ch K who, inspired by a Second World War philosophy, charged himself with the destruction of The Parthenon. As readers we do not know if his words are true or even if they are genuine, but the confession is certainly compelling in its portrayal of insane single-mindedness. I loved this strong start to the book and was also moved by the later testimony of a firing squad soldier. I could have done with fewer witness statements although I appreciated that these brief paragraphs allowed a brief respite from other chapter's intensity.

Surrealist poet Yorgos Makris did exist and did actually call for the destruction of all monuments in order to free Greece from her hankering for her triumphal past. This reasoning did resonate with me as a similar rose-tinted nostalgia affects many people in Britain, but I found the idea of destroying stone monuments in order to achieve such mental freedom a bizarre concept. Chrissopoulos seamlessly blends that past with our modern-day fear of wanton terrorism to create this powerful insight into a bomber's psyche and also into the thoughts of people he leaves effectively bereaved by the loss of their treasured icon.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Christos Chrissopoulos / Novellas / Books from Greece

Monday, 19 June 2017

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel


Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
First published in Spanish in Mexico as Como agua para chocolate by Doubleday in 1989. English language translation by Carol and Thomas Christensen.

I registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing

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

How I got this book:
Bought from the book table at Torquay indoor market

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit. The classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef. She shares special points of her favorite preparations with listeners throughout the story. The Spanish language edition of the best-selling "Like Water For Chocolate" is a remarkable success in its own right. Now, in this mass market edition, thousands of new readers will be able to partake in the sumptuous, romantic, and hilarious tale of Tita, the terrific cook with an extra special something in her sauce.

After reading Pierced By The Sun last year I was delighted to find a copy of Like Water For Chocolate in Torquay's Indoor Market. The book stall there raises money for a homelessness charity so I am always happy to buy a book or two as well as leaving my Bookcrossing swaps for others to enjoy. Like Water For Chocolate is very different to Pierced By The Sun and includes frequent episodes of the magical realism that I love in South American fiction. In its naive fairytale style the book reminded me of Berta La Larga by Cuca Canals although this one includes incidences of rape and more extreme violence. The characters have a fairytale quality of behaving bizarrely due to unrealistic magical motivations but I felt that this worked well within the novel's world. Tita is a poignant and sympathetic creation and I liked her a lot although I wasn't convinced by her all-consuming desire for Pedro as he seemed a weak waster to me! Mama Elena is also excellent - a really vindictive and selfish woman! However my attitude towards her did soften as we learned more about her past.

Esquivel wrote Like Water For Chocolate in twelve chapters, each focused around a particular traditional recipe so this is definitely a book for foodies. If I knew what all the ingredients were I would have been tempted to make a few of the dishes myself, especially when we see the overwhelming reactions they have among family and friends when Tita cooks them!

If you like logical, realistic fiction, you will probably be more irritated by Like Water For Chocolate than entranced. If you like a sense of the whimsical though, I would certainly recommend giving this novel a try. It is a fairly quick, easy read and one with plenty of humour and romance alongside the heartbreak. A good book for a hot summer afternoon!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Laura Esquivel / Women's fiction / Books from Mexico

Sunday, 18 June 2017

The Good Old Boys by Elmer Kelton


The Good Old Boys by Elmer Kelton
First published in America by Doubleday in 1978.

I registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing

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

How I got this book:
Bought from the OXFAM shop in Torquay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hewey Calloway has a problem. In his West Texas home of 1906, the land and the way of life that he loves are changing too quickly for his taste.Hewey dreams of freedom - he wants only to be a footloose horseback cowboy, endlessly wandering the open range. But the open range of his childhood is slowly disappearing: land is being parceled out, and barbed-wire fences are springing up all over. As if that weren't enough, cars and other machines are invading Hewey's simple cowboy life, stinking up the area and threatening to replace horse travel. As Hewey struggles against the relentless stream of "progress, " he comes to realize that the simple life of his childhood is gone, that a man can't live a life whose time has passed, and that every choice he makes - even those that lead to happiness - requires a sacrifice.

Billed as western authored, this novel by Elmer Kelton is certainly set in that world but in the early 1900s - long past the cowboy heyday. I was reminded strongly of Kent Haruf's Plainsong trilogy by the nostalgic style and emphasis on strong characterisation over action. Despite being set at a different time, I think fans of those books would enjoy this one and vice versa. We follow a cowboy, Hewey Calloway, coming home to West Texas after years away to find his brother's smallholding practically bankrupt and his eldest nephew more interested in the combustion engine than the skills needed for a life on horseback.

The Good Old Boys is a lament for times gone by, but is in no way a sad or depressing book. Kelton weaves humour throughout the novel whether it is Hewey bickering with his sister-in-law, Eve, or attempting to rope an automobile as if it were cattle. I found the book an easy read and one from which I was loathe to tear myself away because I enjoyed spending time in Hewey's world. As a typical western, The Good Old Boys doesn't really do its cover justice, but as immersive historical fiction, this is an excellent and rewarding read.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Elmer Kelton / Westerns / Books from America

Saturday, 17 June 2017

The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco


The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco
First published in Italy in Italian by Bompiani as Il nome della rosa in 1980. English language translation by William Weaver published in 1993.

I registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing

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

How I got this book:
Purchased second-hand from Livros da Ria Formosa in Lagos, Portugal.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate.When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey where extraordinary things are happening under the over of night. A spectacular popular and critical success, The Name of the Rose is not only a narrative of a murder investigation but an astonishing chronicle of the Middle Ages.

A brilliant book, certainly one of the most difficult I have ever read and not least because of how much GCSE Latin I have forgotten. The Name Of The Rose is billed as a murder mystery but is also so much more. The mystery plot is interesting but what kept me gripped is the amazing portrayal of medieval life with its insane yet deadly serious theological arguments. Dozens of different sects, all of which claim to be the true Christians, gain or lose power and prestige dependent on the current definition of religious truth. And woe betide any man finding himself on the 'wrong' side - torture and death await. Women, of course, are practically sub-human so are not even afforded the right to argue! This is a fantastic book that beautifully illuminates a bizarre world, one I am grateful I did not experience first hand.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Umberto Eco / Crime fiction / Books from Italy

Friday, 16 June 2017

Speaking With Strategic Impact by Kate LeVan + Giveaway


Speaking with Strategic Impact: Four Steps to Extraordinary Presence and Persuasion by Kate LeVan
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 152 pages
Genre: Business
Publisher: Delton Press
Release date: May 24, 2017
Tour dates: June 12 to 30, 2017
Content Rating: G

Buy the Book:


Book Description:

Speaking with Strategic Impact is for business people who make their living—or their mark—through presentations long and short.

It’s a must-read if you’re a consultant, analyst, pitch team leader, roadshow executive, technology specialist, project manager, internal or external marketer, sales rep, subject matter expert or innovator.

Do your presentations unexpectedly fall flat? Do others hijack your meetings? Do you spend more time compiling slide decks than actually influencing decision-makers? Has someone vaguely told you that you “should look more confident up there” or that you “lack gravitas”? Have you watched TED Talks but wonder how you can bring that level of effectiveness into real business presentations?

Speaking with Strategic Impact gives you the key to leadership presence and persuasion. More than just tips and tricks, it outlines a discipline for navigating real business situations with consistently superior outcomes that’s favored by top business schools and Fortune 500 companies. You’ll get specific strategic and tactical advice to keep you on the mark in your presentations and meetings—and differentiate you from the vast majority of business presenters.

Read Speaking with Strategic Impact to master the means by which you make a living and a difference in the world!





Meet the Author:

Kate LeVan trains, coaches and collaborates on business communication effectiveness with major corporations worldwide and as an instructor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Her training consistently receives top ratings from executive development program participants for its simplicity, applicability and career-changing impact.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 8
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Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Kate LeVan / Self help books / Books from America