Monday, 18 December 2017

Starlight Christmas by Yumoyori Wilson + Giveaway


Starlight Christmas by Yumoyori Wilson
Self published in America on the 22nd December 2017.

Where to buy this book:

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Add Starlight Christmas to your Goodreads

Starlight Christmas is apart from the Holiday Series. It will be FULL-LENGTH novel and does not take place during the same timeline as the main series. It’s recommended to read DARK WISH - BOOK ONE of the Starlight Gods Series to understand/enjoy this novel.

Recommended for 18+ audience, containing mature sexual content and strong language.

Christmas.

A time for giving and receiving. A time for celebration. A holiday I’ve only read about in a storybook – page after page of seeing a little girl celebrating the joys of Christmas.

I had envied that girl, reading her tale on the cold, library floor while she was surrounded by so much warmth. So many cycles trapped in the facility by my Owner, my only presents the old, tattered books that surrounded me, my imagination my only salvation.

So many cycles, I’d spent wishing to be like the girl in the fairy tale, wishing I was surrounded by my loved ones, opening presents and enjoying their company.

My wish had finally come true. This cycle would be different. Rescued by my star knights, I vowed to enjoy every minute of this season with them by my side.

This Christmas, I would enjoy being free.



Meet the Author
Yumoyori Wilson is from Toronto, Ontario. She loves to sleep and write her days away. She works at night as a registered nurse. She has a little addiction to bubble tea and coffee but loves to workout. She has big plans for the writing world and can't wait to share them with everyone.

Author links:
Facebook ~ Facebook Group ~ Goodreads


And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 7th of January, the prize is a $10 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Books by Yumoyori Wilson / Romance fiction / Books from Canada

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Salvage by Cynthia Dewi Oka


Salvage by Cynthia Dewi Oka
Published in America by TriQuarterly Books today, December 15th 2017.

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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Speedyhen

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

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

How do we transform the wreckage of our identities? Cynthia Dewi Oka’s evocative collection answers this question by brimming with what we salvage from our most deep-seated battles. Reflecting the many dimensions of the poet’s life, Salvage manifests an intermixture of aesthetic forms that encompasses multiple social, political, and cultural contexts—leading readers to Bali, Indonesia, to the Pacific Northwest, and to South Jersey and Philadelphia.

Throughout it insistently interrogates what it means to reach for our humanity through the guises of nation, race, and gender. Oka’s language transports us through the many bodies of fluid poetics that inhabit our migrating senses and permeate across generations into a personal diaspora. Salvage invites us to be without borders.

I looked forward to exploring this volume of poetry, but unfortunately found it way beyond my comprehension. There are flashes of imagery, some violently graphic, which I understood and I have no doubt that for someone familiar with Indonesia or this style of poetry, Oka's poems could be very powerful. However I found her poetry too disjointed to follow so did not finish the book.


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Books by Cynthia Dewi Oka / Poetry / Books from Indonesia

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Queen Of Corona by Esterhazy + Giveaway + Extract


Queen Of Corona by Esterhazy
Self published in America on the 15th December 2017.

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Add Queen Of Corona to your Goodreads

Queen of Corona delves into the mind of a young American adult growing up in today’s multicultural society. It is a human look at contemporary existence “from the bottom of the barrel.” It tells the story of a high school senior who is running after a student protest ends in tragedy. She is ushered onto an airplane by her mother, headed back to the land of her ancestors for the first time in her life. Her journey is both a way of escaping a seemingly dead-end existence and a chance at rediscovering herself by stepping outside the confines of societal standards. Queen of Corona is a coming-of-age novel in a dangerous age, in the age of Trump and all the forces stirring with and against the American president.



Extract from Chapter 12

I bet you thought I was going to fold. That I wouldn’t be able to resist that fine china-white powder resting right there in the sanctuary of my pocketbook.
But it stays tucked away the entire night, I swear. I ride my bike to the river to get some air. I sit down on the concrete bank and look out at the wilderness just across the water. At the narrow beaches spotted with bushes, fluo-green against the fading sky of late summer.
Here the riverside is wild, untempered. The bars along the water light up, the music gets louder. I go to the bar. As I’m standing in the endless line I can feel someone’s eyes on me. I count to five in my mind and I look up. Oh man, I think, here we go again. And I let myself fall into it one more time because I need anything to get myself out of this emotional hole I dug for myself.
At first, I’m confused. Because the face that is looking back at me is a face I know so well. A face so familiar and unfamiliar. A face I’d seen dozens of times, but not a face I’d ever called a friend. I stared at him as I tried to place him. He smiles back at me amused. The cogs in my mind begin to click. An actor. I know his face from the movies. That series on Netflix about the homicide detective addicted to porn.
I’m not drunk enough to get up the balls to sidle up to him all sassy and shit. But I don’t need to because he comes up to me. He looks me up and down and nods like he’s approving a shipment of the latest iPhone.
“Mind if I sit down?” he says in that Hollywood voice.
“Yes. I mean no. Why not.”
He says he’s here filming an episode where he’s chasing some jewel thief around Eastern Europe. He can’t believe I’ve never heard of his show. He doesn’t waste any time pouring me doubles out of the bottle the waitress brings over. He asks me if I want to dance and I follow him out to the dance floor. He’s a terrible dancer. He’s basically grinding against my pelvis and slobbering on me. Then he’s trying to get into my panties under my dress like we’re not out in the open and all these people aren’t looking at us. At some point, he grabs my hand and leads me towards the car he’s got waiting for him. I’m not good with cars, so I can’t say what kind of car it is, just that it’s shiny and black. The driver drops us off at one of the big hotels where he’s got a suite. He opens the door like he’s a sheik opening the palace gates. As if a hotel room that looks like millions of other hotel rooms around the world is going to make me go woozy with passion.
Pretty soon he gets back to his sloppy kissing. He’s got my dress off and he says he wants to fuck me like Charles Bukowski and I don’t know who he’s talking about.
I’m probably only fucking him because he’s famous, not because I really like him. What’s there to like in an arrogant middle-aged man with a paunch and a lazy eye? And what’s in it for him, fucking a girl young enough to be his daughter.
“Can I take a picture of you?”
I shrug and he takes it as a yes. He asks me to stop covering my breasts and to spread my legs. I feel horribly shy but it’s exciting at the same time to think this famous dude is going to be looking at my pictures later and reminiscing about our time together. But what if he posts them online? I should have said no. Julita tells me I’ve got a real problem saying no. I’m too much of a yes girl. A goddang people pleaser and where’s that been getting me? Not very far, eh? says the reasonable voice in my head. The other voice, the one that just wants me to take it easy and go with the flow, tells me that it’s fine. It’s just two consenting adults having a good time. Isn’t it?
We end up trusting celebrities almost implicitly, as if their fame is guarantee that they’re harmless. We trust them to tell us what’s fashionable and what’s not, how to eat and how to vote. And sometimes we let them fuck us just because they’re famous. And sometimes we let them get away with the worst.
He goes to take a shower and I walk around the room and look at the stuff lying around his room. There’s his passport on the table. I open it up and look at the picture, which looks nothing like him, he must’ve aged a lot in the past few years. I look at the birthdate and do the math. It turns out he’s 52, not 45 like he told me last night. I pick up my stuff and go straight out the door. I feel sick, not the throwing up kind, just the sick dismay of disappointment. Sick at how they think it’s okay to treat you like an empty shell of a person and then got the nerve to lie to you. I think this might be my breaking point. At last, you say.
I’m sobbing into my sleeve as I walk through the lobby and my mascara’s running all over the fucking place, so I sit down for a minute. In a flash, hotel security is coming my way and they’re asking me to leave and if I didn’t feel like a whore before then I definitely do now.

Meet the Author
Esterhazy is a journalist, writer and translator. A native New Yorker, she holds degrees in Comparative Literature from New York University and American Studies from the University of Warsaw. Queen of Corona is her debut novel.

And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 7th of January, the prize is a signed copy of Queen Of Corona.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Friday, 15 December 2017

A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon


A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon
First published by Presses de la Cite in France in French as Un Noel de Maigret in 1951. English language translation by David Coward published in the UK by Penguin on the 2nd November 2017.

Where to buy this book:

Abebooks

Amazon UK

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Speedyhen

The Book Depository

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Wordery


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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is Christmas in Paris, but beneath the sparkling lights and glittering decorations lie sinister deeds and dark secrets...

This collection brings together three of Simenon's most enjoyable Christmas tales, newly translated, featuring Inspector Maigret and other characters from the Maigret novels. In 'A Maigret Christmas', the Inspector receives two unexpected visitors on Christmas Day, who lead him on the trail of a mysterious intruder dressed in red and white. In 'Seven Small Crosses in a Notebook', the sound of alarms over Paris send the police on a cat and mouse chase across the city. And 'The Little Restaurant in Les Ternes (A Christmas Story for Grown-Ups)' tells of a cynical woman who is moved to an unexpected act of festive charity in a nightclub - one that surprises even her...

Penguin have republished a trio of seasonal Maigret short stories, collectively entitled A Maigret Christmas, and offered me a review copy of the first story. The only other Georges Simenon book I have read was very different and I never watched any of the television adaptations so I wasn't previously familiar with the Maigret crime mysteries. In some respects A Maigret Christmas was a good place to start discovering the series.

The short story is set over the course of Christmas Day in Paris and mostly takes place in Maigret's own apartment and that of his neighbour. I liked the strong sense of the time period - I believe the story was originally written in the 1950s and set in the 1930s - and the telling details of people's dress. You just know a woman isn't quite respectable if she leaves her home without stockings on! I liked the glimpses into a French Christmas Day such as bakeries still being open to buy fresh croissants. With regards to the case itself though, I found it hard to believe that so much of the research demanded by Maigret of his staff could have been carried out as swiftly as the tale's timescales required. Lots of the logic jumps and conclusions seemed just too convenient for my tastes and the small cast of characters made it pretty obvious where we would end up - although not exactly how we would get there. Overall I thought A Maigret Christmas was a quaint mystery with a nice seasonal vibe.


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Books by Georges Simenon / Short stories / Books from Belgium

Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan


The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan
First published in Russian in Russia by Livebook in 2009. English language translation by Yuri Machkasov published in America by AmazonCrossing in April 2017.

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: 5 of 5 stars

The Gray House is an astounding tale of how what others understand as liabilities can be leveraged into strengths.

Bound to wheelchairs and dependent on prosthetic limbs, the physically disabled students living in the House are overlooked by the Outsides. Not that it matters to anyone living in the House, a hulking old structure that its residents know is alive. From the corridors and crawl spaces to the classrooms and dorms, the House is full of tribes, tinctures, scared teachers, and laws—all seen and understood through a prismatic array of teenagers’ eyes.

But student deaths and mounting pressure from the Outsides put the time-defying order of the House in danger. As the tribe leaders struggle to maintain power, they defer to the awesome power of the House, attempting to make it through days and nights that pass in ways that clocks and watches cannot record.

I received my review copy of The Gray House back at the beginning of 2017 but, being intimidated by its 700+ page length, kept putting off even starting to read it until now. This was a serious mistake - The Gray House is absolutely brilliant! Seclude-yourself-for-a-week-with-your-phone-turned-off breathtakingly brilliant! I could easily write a whole review of fangirl superlatives, I loved this book that much. Yet, that said, it won't be to everyone's taste. I have seen other reviews using The Lord Of The Flies as a comparison and inasmuch as that book centres on a group of unaccompanied boys I can see their point, but I wouldn't necessarily agree. Perhaps if Salman Rushdie had written Gormenghast the result might be closer to the fantastic and fantastical richness of The Gray House?

I obviously want to impart as much of my enthusiasm as possible, but am struggling to describe Petrosyan's novel in a way that will do it justice! It is set in a neglected House for physically disabled children, children who have mostly been effectively abandoned there by their families so, other than attempts at lessons, the tribes of boys (and, later, girls) are left to their own devices. Living by complex sets of rules and Laws, we see their limited world through their own eyes. I loved that this world is limited by the borders of the House, not by the various disabilities. Ingenuity, inventiveness and camaraderie seem to render most disability irrelevant.

The story is told from different points of view, some first person and some third person, with each speaker having their own distinctive voices. The Gray House is divided into three books each with their own lengthy character list at the beginning, but I didn't bother with the lists as I soon found myself easily identifying and remembering characters by their Nicks (nicknames) and actions. Like new boy Grasshopper, it took me a while to settle into the House, but once I began to understand its ways and its stories, I was absolutely engrossed.


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Books by Mariam Petrosyan / Contemporary fiction / Books from Armenia

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Beauty And Beastly by Melanie Karsak + Giveaway + Extract


Beauty And Beastly: a steampunk Beauty and the Beast by Melanie Karsak
Self published in America on the 6th December 2017.

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Add Beauty And Beastly to your Goodreads

In this tale as old as time, Isabelle Hawking must tinker a solution to a heartbreaking mystery. When Isabelle Hawking and her papa set out from London on a sea voyage, Isabelle is thrilled. Visiting foreign courts, learning from master tinkers, and studying mechanicals is her dream. And it doesn't hurt that the trip also offers Isabelle an escape from her overbearing and unwanted suitor, Gerard LeBoeuf. But Isabelle never arrives. Swept up in a tempest, her ship is lost.

Isabelle survives the storm only to be shipwrecked on a seemingly-deserted island. The magical place, dotted with standing stones, faerie mounds, and a crumbling castle, hints of an ancient past. Isabelle may be an unwilling guest, but her arrival marks a new beginning for the beastly residents of this forgotten land.

See how NY Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak puts a steampunk spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.




Extract: Arrival at the castle

“Hello? Is anyone there?”
The sky overhead darkened, and in the distance, I heard the rumble of thunder.
Oh no. No, no, no.
I looked up at the sky. My head swam.
I needed to find shelter.
I turned to go back to the path, but when I did so, I didn’t see the path, nor the ring of mushrooms, nor anything else vaguely familiar.
Once more, the sky rumbled.
I felt the first of the raindrops on my head, but luckily, the thick leaves overhead sheltered me somewhat. As the storm rolled in, the forest grew dark.
I cast a glance around.
It didn’t matter which direction I went. Eventually I would find the shore once more.
Turning to head out, however, I spotted a bluish colored light in the distance. A house? A fire? A lantern? A…something.
“Hello?”
No reply.
Turning, I followed the bluish glow. I headed deeper into the forest, chasing after the light, but soon found its source. It was a mushroom. The glowing mushroom had been sitting on a rise. It had played a trick on my mind. Then I spotted another glowing fungus, then another, and another, all of which held an incandescent blue light. They grew in a straight line. Without a better recourse, and feeling half suspicious of the supernatural, I followed the glow of the blue mushrooms as the rain pattered overhead, the sky rumbling. I followed the blue lights deep into the ancient woods, aware that I was passing other sacred rings. I walked past a mound of earth, a barrow, the final resting place of some ancient person—and some said a passageway to the Otherworld—as I hurried deeper into the woods. Surely I would find the shoreline soon.
Lightning cracked overhead.
Then, on the horizon, I saw golden light. A fire? I squinted my eyes, trying to make out the shape through the trees, but my head ached miserably. Leaning heavily against my staff, I moved toward the golden colored light.
The forest thinned. The glowing mushrooms led me onward toward the glow of the yellow light in the distance. Praying to find someone—anyone—I followed along, well aware that my quick exertion had my stomach rolling. Black spots wriggled before my eyes. The line of mushrooms ended. To my shock, I’d blundered to the center of the island and found myself standing outside the gates of a castle.
I gazed up at the enormous structure. It towered over me, a black silhouette on the horizon. Light glowed through one of the windows in the upper floors. It was raining in earnest now. Not waiting a moment longer, I pushed the gate. It swung open with a creak.
It was pouring.
I leaned my walking staff against a metal bench in the perfectly manicured garden, then grabbing my skirts, I ran for the castle door. As I rushed, lightning flashed. It created an odd illusion on the bushes and flowers around me. For a moment, they all seemed to glimmer like metal under the bright light.
My temples pounded. My stomach rolled. I raced through the heavy rain to the castle door.
Hoping whoever was at home would forgive me for letting myself in, I pushed open the castle door and crept inside.
The place was eerily silent.
“Hello?” I called. “Is anyone here?”
Breathing deeply and quickly, I realized the moment I stopped that I was not well.
I cast a glance toward a roaring fireplace nearby. A chair was seated before the hearth, a glass of something dark sitting beside the seat. I heard a strange clicking sound.
“Hello?” I called again, but this time, my head began to spin. I put my hands on my hips, trying to catch my breath. I closed my eyes. Everything was twirling.
Footsteps approached.
“I-I’m sorry I let myself in but…” I began then opened my eyes.
Standing before me was a massive automaton, its silver eyes staring coldly at me.
A nauseous feeling swept over me, and my head swam. Black spots danced before my eyes.
“Pardon me. I think I’m about to—”
Faint.
But the word was lost.
And so was I.


Meet the author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Melanie Karsak is the author of The Airship Racing Chronicles, The Harvesting Series, The Burnt Earth Series, The Celtic Blood Series and Steampunk Fairy Tales. A steampunk connoisseur, zombie whisperer, and heir to the iron throne, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

Author links:
Twitter ~ Website ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest ~ Newsletter
Join Melanie's newsletter and get 2 free books!


And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 31st of January, the prize is a Disney’s Belle Funko Pop, a Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Writing Journal Beauty and the Beast Light-up Rose Cup from Disneyland.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Books by Melanie Karsak / Steampunk fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Shelf Life Of Happiness by David Machado


The Shelf Life Of Happiness by David Machado
First published as Indice Medio de Felicidade in Portuguese in Portugal by Publicacoes Don Quixote in 2013. English language translation by Hillary Locke published in America by AmazonCrossing in 2016.

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

Ripped apart by Portugal’s financial crisis, Daniel’s family is struggling to adjust to circumstances beyond their control. His wife and children move out to live with family hours away, but Daniel believes against all odds that he will find a job and everything will return to normal.

Even as he loses his home, suffers severe damage to his car, and finds himself living in his old, abandoned office building, Daniel fights the realization that things have changed. He’s unable to see what remains among the rubble—friendship, his family’s love, and people’s deep desire to connect. If Daniel can let go of the past and find his true self, he just might save not only himself but also everyone that really matters to him.

I don't have much experience of Portuguese fiction, but the books I have read all seem to have a dystopian viewpoint and The Shelf Life Of Happiness fits right into that genre despite its present day setting. Perhaps its cover art doesn't really fit with the storyline because, although a road trip in a worn out minibus is part of the tale, the main narrative is of a man being reduced to homelessness and almost to destitution as a result of the crumbling Portuguese economy. It's a preview of how much of Britain will look after a few more Conservative years, those areas that aren't already wrecked anyway!

Daniel isn't an easy character to sympathise with but I found myself liking his bloody-minded refusal to give up hope. Even as his dream life falls apart around his ears, he still has hope for his own future and that of his family. The Shelf Life Of Happiness title is actually a mistranslation of the original Portuguese title which references an Index of Average Happiness (nations ranked by the average professed happiness of their people) and I couldn't see why this was changed for the English language edition. The Index is an interesting (and presumably genuine) list which, along with Daniel and his friends, got me to thinking about how I would score my life (pretty high, I think!)

For a book ostensibly about happiness, this is a pretty dark read. One character is trapped in his home by chronic agoraphobia, another spends his leisure time assaulting homeless men, the horrors of factory farming are reduced to a cute computer app, and Daniel himself is struggling to stay financially afloat. Yet, despite all this misery, Machado lifts his tale with black humour and an engaging writing style that I enjoyed reading. I was surprised that I wasn't depressed by the book at all!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by David Machado / Contemporary fiction / Books from Portugal