Wednesday, 31 January 2018

A Month in Books - January 2018

2018 got off to a great start for me reading wise! I read sixteen books from as far afield as Egypt, Jordan and Brazil this month as well as discovering good new books closer to home. I think quite a few people will agree with my Book of the Month choice!

For my Reading Challenges, January's WorldReads featured books from Iran. I added the 1900s and the 1950s to my Decade Challenge. I read one Book In French. And I ticked off eleven letters for my Alphabet Soup Challenge including Q!).

The winner of my Twitter Spotlight Post Giveaway this month is Mary Anne Yarde who chose to promote her historical fiction novel, The Du Lac Devil.
If you would like the chance to win a Spotlight for a book you've written or that you love, simply follow me on Twitter and retweet my pinned Tweet. The January giveaway closes at midnight tonight and there will be another starting tomorrow!

Click on the book covers or titles below to visit their Literary Flits reviews or click the Amazon and Smashwords links to get your own copies. (Amazon and Smashwords are affiliate links). Don't forget to enter all the Giveaways!

Guest Reviews

Diamonds And Dust by Carol Hedges, reviewed by Liz Lloyd

When a horrific murder takes place on a dark night in 1860's London, it changes two women for ever. New light is cast upon past lives they thought they knew so well, and suddenly their futures become intertwined. The death of her uncle will leave eighteen-year-old Josephine King an orphan, an heiress and the owner of a priceless diamond, The Eye of the Khan. For Lilith Marks, a chance finally arises to end her life as a highly paid prostitute and to prove herself as a serious businesswoman. Set against the backdrop of the great gas-lit city, the two women are drawn together in their quest to discover just who killed the man they both loved.

Where The Dark Fish Swim by Mark Bishop, reviewed by Mark Fieldsend

Where The Dark Fish Swim is a letter from Michael, a deeply troubled father, to his estranged son, Huck, written as they travel together toward the end of a journey Michael set out on to make peace with his past. Michael tells Huck of the six people who mattered most to him in his life and how, in turn, he has gone to visit each of them. He also begins to explain why he abandoned Huck and his mother and why, very soon, he will need to do it again. And, of course, he tells Huck of the dark fish.

Runners And Riders by Jordan Elizabeth, reviewed by Cathrina Constantine

Juliet loved growing up at the seaside, although it meant lonely hours chasing after the other beach rats while her mother worked as a seamstress. Juliet never expected her seaman father to inherit a fortune and move the family to New Addison City. Suddenly her mother is a socialite and Juliet is best friends with a strong-willed girl who actually likes her. When Juliet’s new friend welcomes her to the Runners, a gang that has plagued the East Coast for years, Juliet sees it as the opportunity to fit in, learn tricks, and make eyes at one of the hottest members. What the gang does isn’t really wrong…right?

My Reviews

My 1900s read for my 2017-18 Decade Challenge
T for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Listeners will quickly realize that Du Bois's classic treatise on life in a post-slavery U.S. society still has resonance today. Du Bois examines how black progress was systematically obstructed for two generations after the abolition of slavery. He also discusses the unique and creative ways in which African-Americans must negotiate a system that regularly dehumanizes them and takes their lives.

Quatre Moi En Mer by Said + Free Book
I read this book in its original French
Q for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Loïc Shultz voulait partir loin, abandonner la réalité. 
Mais c'est la réalité qui l'abandonna, le jour où il apprit que sa vie était un film.

Loic Schultz wants to go far away, abandoning reality. But it is reality that abandons him on the day he learns that his life is a film.

The Crow Road by Iain Banks

From its bravura opening onwards, THE CROW ROAD is justly regarded as an outstanding contemporary novel.
'It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach's Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach.'

Hero by Boyd Taylor + Giveaway
H for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

When budding historian Donnie Ray Cuinn stumbles upon an old letter in the musty bowels of the Texas State Archives, he believes he has uncovered the true story of Sam Payne's valiant, or perhaps not so valiant, capture of Mexican leader Santa Anna during the Battle of San Jacinto. Cuinn's findings are published in a local magazine. But the article eventually becomes fodder in the gubernatorial race between Democratic upstart Bob Braeswood and Republican favorite Sam Eben Payne V, the great-great-grandson of the Texas hero.

Lies Of Silence by Brian Moore
L for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

When Michael Dillon is ordered by the IRA to park his car in the carpark of a Belfast hotel, he is faced with a moral choice which leaves him absolutely nowhere to turn. He knows that he is planting a bomb that would kill and maim dozens of people. But he also knows that if he doesn't, his wife will be killed.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
U for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

My Book of the Month!

Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest's dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. One young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all they value behind.

The Case Of The Purloined Pyramid by Sean McLachlan

Sir Augustus Wall, a horribly mutilated veteran of the Great War, has left Europe behind to open an antiquities shop in Cairo. But Europe’s troubles follow him as a priceless inscription is stolen and those who know its secrets start turning up dead. Teaming up with Egyptology expert Moustafa Ghani, and Faisal, an irritating street urchin he just can't shake, Sir Wall must unravel an ancient secret and face his own dark past.

Whispers Of The Beloved by Rumi
W for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

A breathtaking new collection of translations of poems by Rumi, one of the world’s most loved mystical teachers. Beautifully illustrated with Persian calligraphy, this is an ideal ebook for every MBS reader.

Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir by Agatha Christie
C for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Think you know Agatha Christie? Think again!
To the world she was Agatha Christie, legendary author of bestselling whodunits. But in the 1930s she wore a different hat, travelling with her husband, renowned archaeologist Max Mallowan, as he investigated the buried ruins and ancient wonders of Syria and Iraq. When friends asked what this strange ‘other life’ was like, she decided to answer their questions by writing down her adventures in this eye-opening book.

The World Jones Made by Philip K Dick
My 1950s read for my 2017-18 Decade Challenge

Floyd Jones is sullen, ungainly and quite possibly mad, but he really can see exactly one year into the future. And this talent means that in a very short time he rises from being a disgruntled carnival fortune-teller to convulse an entire planet. For Jones becomes a demagogue, whipping up the ideal-starved population into a frenzy against the threat of the 'drifters', enormous single-cell protoplasms that may be landing on Earth soon.

The Matter of the Crown by Linda Ferreri

The Crown of the Andes, one of the world's most precious and beautiful sacred objects, has been stolen right off the stage at Satterling's Auction House in New York City. Five pounds of magnificent baroque gold that ransomed the Inca Ruler Atahaulpa, and hundreds of perfect Colombian emeralds, all gone without a trace! Will this legendary treasure be destroyed for its gold and emeralds? One woman is dead and another one in hot pursuit.

Elza: The Girl by Sergio Rodrigues
E for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Xerxes, a ninety-something survivor of the extinct Brazilian Communist Party, hires an unemployed journalist to write his life story, and most importantly explain his 1935 tragic love affair with comrade Elza Fernandes, code-named The Girl. 

My Name Is Salma by Fadia Faqir
M for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

When Salma becomes pregnant before marriage in her small village in the Levant, her innocent days playing the pipe for her goats are gone for ever. She is swept into prison for her own protection. To the sound of her screams, her newborn baby daughter is snatched away. In the middle of the most English of towns, Exeter, she learns good manners from her landlady, and settles down with an Englishman. But deep in her heart the cries of her baby daughter still echo. When she can bear them no longer, she goes back to her village to find her. It is a journey that will change everything - and nothing.

The Earlie King And The Kid In Yellow by Danny Denton

Ireland is flooded, derelict. It never stops raining. The Kid in Yellow has stolen the babba from the Earlie King. Why? Something to do with the King's daughter, and a talking statue, something godawful. And from every wall the King's Eye watches. And yet the city is full of hearts-defiant-sprayed in yellow, the mark of the Kid. It cannot end well. Can it? Follow the Kid, hear the tale. Roll up! Roll up!

Dilemma by Baheya Zeitoun + Free Book
D for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

She is caught in the middle of a love triangle for the first time in her life, but only desires one man. As he grows distant, she seeks comfort in the unlikeliest places. All the while, trying to manage her uncertain financial situation and her career. It is a contemporary tale about a young writer and the struggles of independence in a 21st century metropolis.

Twist by Harkaitz Cano

Set in the politically charged climate of the Basque Country in the 1980s, Twist relates the disappearance and brutal murder of two ETA militants at the hands of the Spanish army. The novel centers on their friend and fellow activist Diego Lazkano, who, since revealing his comrades to the authorities, has been tormented by guilt. In Twist, Harkaitz Cano provides a multi-vocal account of a conscience and a society in turmoil.

Spotlight Posts

The Du Lac Devil by Mary Anne Yarde + Extract

War is coming to Saxon Briton. As one kingdom after another falls to the savage might of the High King, Cerdic of Wessex, only one family dares to stand up to him — The Du Lacs.

The Widow Of Papina by Katie Hamstead + Giveaway

Forrest and Braydon Miller moved to the small town of Papina to follow their dreams and start a family. Braydon loves her new life in the quiet town, kept alive by the prestigious boarding school overlooking the valley. She is so proud of her husband’s work, helping the teens on the reservation. Until one day, Forrest doesn’t come home.

The Antelope Play by Boyd Taylor + Giveaway

When Austin native Donnie Cuinn accepts a job as an associate in a Texas Panhandle law firm, his boredom and disdain for Velda, a sleepy Texas town, is forgotten when he gets caught up in a struggle over water rights, possible radioactive contamination of the nation's largest underground fresh water supply, and the violence of an invading Mexican drug cartel.

What She Left by Rosie Fiore + Extract

Helen Cooper has a charmed life. She's beautiful, accomplished, organised - the star parent at the school. Until she disappears. But Helen wasn't abducted or murdered. She's chosen to walk away, abandoning her family, husband Sam, and her home. Where has Helen gone, and why? What has driven her from her seemingly perfect life? What is she looking for?

The Trial by John Mayer

When Glaswegian Brogan McLane completes many years of university education and legal training he crosses that great divide from Glasgow to Edinburgh. 'Called' to the Bar of the Scottish Supreme Court, he becomes a member of the most prestigious club in Scotland; The Faculty of Advocates in Parliament House.
When High Court Judge, Lord Aldounhill, is found dead after a transvestite party in his sumptuous home, those who know the killer close ranks and need a scapegoat – who better than 'outsider' Brogan McLane?

Daughter Of The Goddess by Rita J Webb + Giveaway

I was a nameless child abandoned on the temple doorsteps.
Soul, the gods called me. So they named me Nephecia.
My plans don’t include marriage to some silly nobleman. When I come of age, I will take vows and devote my life to serving the goddess of Light. As a priestess, a daughter of the goddess, I’ll make the world a better place.

Hostage by Skye Warren and Annika Martin + Extract + Giveaway

I’d never even kissed a boy the night I met Stone. The night I saw him kill. The night he spared my life. That was only the beginning. He turns up in my car again and again, dangerous and full of raw power. “Drive,” he tells me, and I have no choice. He’s a criminal with burning green eyes, invading my life and my dreams.

Sugar Lump by Megan Gaudino + Guest Post + Giveaway

Seventeen-year-old travel blogger CC is stuck on a never-ending road trip with her wanderlust-addicted father. When her dad lands the job of his dreams in Sugar Lump—wedding capital of the world —CC finally finds a place to call home. Complete with two quirky best friends and a quixotic guy to crush on, Sugar Lump is more shades of perfect than she can possibly count. But when CC accidentally overhears the mayor complaining that she has to “take out” a rogue employee for not fulfilling the terms of his contract, the idyllic town’s facade crumbles.

Phew! So that's all this month's books. I hope you found a few to tempt you here.
I've already got some great books ready to talk about in February: an Iraqi Frankenstein novel, Icelandic humour, Scottish crime fiction and the newest Boyd Taylor Austin mystery. Plus February's WorldReads will highlight Finnish fiction on the 5th (that's a lot of fs!).

Pop links to your Reading Roundups in the Comments so I can come see what books you've enjoyed this month.
And  don't forget to keep up with the Giveaways!

Monday, 29 January 2018

State of the ARC - January 2018

I saw this State of the ARC meme over at Avalinah's Books blog today and thought it would be fun to join in. It's actually turned out to be a bit scary!

The idea is to keep track of all the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) books I've got awaiting reading and reviewing, and to make headway through the overdue pile. I was feeling pretty smug thinking I was over a week ahead of where I need to be and didn't even HAVE an overdue pile. Having just investigated all my Kindle folders including my emails and my internet download folders, that assumption may not have been entirely correct. Oops!

For my State of the ARC, I am including all books sent to me for review whether they are pre-publication copies (as ARCs should be) or simply review copies of books already available publicly. I think two sets of statistics will get too confusing. I am not including books that I have purchased myself, book exchange swaps, or free downloads.

Here's my numbers as of today:

Awaiting Reading

Read / Review / Blog






From Authors


1 R


Blog Tours




From Publishers




RRB (Read, Reviewed and Blogged) essentially means those books are complete and I'm just waiting for their scheduled blog post date. So of the 18 NetGalleys I've got, 4 are already done. That's nearly a quarter. Yay me!

It's that overdue column that needs work though! I found two emails right at the bottom of my inbox, one from an author and one from a publisher, that I had forgotten all about plus a download hidden away in Firefox. I'm going to try get that 5 down to 3 overdues by the time I write February's State of the ARC post.

So while I get back to my reading, here's the last two ARCs I blogged about. Click on the covers to visit their Literary Flits blog posts ...

Twist by Harkaitz Cano

The Earlie King and The Kid In Yellow by Danny Denton

If you want to join this State of the ARC meme check out This Page at Avalinah's Books.
My next 'edition' will be blogged on the 26th February.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

My Week in Review to the 28th January

First up, huge news that it is my niece's birthday today!

Happy Birthday Emily!!!

We've had a quietish week this week with just one excursion of note which was a cycle ride from Puerto de Mazarron to Bolnuevo and back. We went out by the roads and returned as much as possible along the seafront promenade so got to see different things to the last time we visited Bolnuevo. I loved this statue of a diver. There wasn't a plaque I could see anywhere identifying the sculptor though. Dave also spotted a trio of flamingos! They are in the centre of this photo below although you'll probably need to click into it to enlarge it - and squint - to see them The birds are white, not pink.

There's an old aqueduct that we've passed several times on our way in Puerto de Mazarron. It has a sign board, by parking up safely nearby is tricky. Dave remembered in time to stop last time though. Apparently the aqueduct was still in use for irrigating agricultural land until just a few years ago when the water source dried up.

In other news, two cooking experiments turned out surprisingly well for me this week! Firstly I wasn't able to find the usual dried yeast sachets at Consum to was recommended to try fresh yeast cubes instead. A pack of two 15g cubes is just 29 cents and worked brilliantly. In my standard Slow Cooker Wholemeal Bread recipe, the change was that I dissolved the yeast in the warm water and then added the salt, oil and flour as usual. The rolls came out even bigger than they normally do! And the fresh yeast is less than half the price of the dried.

I also made a batch of Scottish Drop Scones with aquafaba (chickpea water) instead of egg. These worked perfectly too and the banana slices I fried alongside the pancakes were an excellent topping. I had the liquid from a 400g jar of chickpeas which I used instead of one egg. Everything else was as per the recipe linked here.


Artisan Rainbow

Literary Flits


Currently reading

Waiting for the Barbarians
tagged: currently-reading, fiction-africa, and charity-shop-find