Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Order by John Mayer

The Order (The Parliament House Books #2) by John Mayer
Self published in November 2015.

Where to buy this book:

Add The Order to your Goodreads

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Brogan McLane QC uncovers the despicable deeds of The Earl of Marchion who owes £7.8m in Death Duties and who thought he could kidnap an 11 year old African girl and use her to smuggle and cheat his way out of paying those taxes. Hiding in his world of privilege, he didn't reckon on the strongest ties of all: the love of a new mother and the legal skills of her husband Brogan McLane in Parliament House.

The story begins in an African forest with a desperate father trying to save his children from being butchered. When faced with no other choice, he sells the children to a diamond smuggler.

Through dark days of prostitution and slavery in Edinburgh one of those children comes under the protective wings of Mr and Mrs McLane. The battle between justice and injustice rages for months until, finally faced with deportation of the child they've come to love, McLane has an idea of how to play a legal Ace card.

I read The Order almost back-to-back after its predecessor, the first Parliament House book The Trial. In their timeline however about two years have passed for Brogan McLane since he managed to overcome a nefarious plot to wrongfully imprison him for murder. Now McLane is called upon to save a little girl, Ababuo, who was trafficked to Scotland with a rare diamond in her stomach before being abandoned.

Dealing as it does with the issue of child trafficking makes The Order a far more emotional read than I thought The Trial was. I believe elements of the novel are based in the sad reality of a case with which Mayer himself was involved - both author and fictional Advocate are specialists in Child Abduction Law. Ababuo herself is sensitively portrayed and I really felt for this child lost thousands of miles from her home and with no one who even knew what her language was, let alone how to communicate in it. A terrifying prospect for anyone.

Much of The Order becomes very personal to McLane and, despite enjoying the story as a whole, I did sometimes wonder if the narrative contortions needed to bring everything so close to home detracted from its plausibility. That said, this is otherwise an engrossing and exciting tale. We again have the juxtaposition of affluent Edinburgh society against McLane's mostly-legal Glasgow cronies, this time with a high-technology flash too. Karla's scenes added a lightness and McLane's legal twisting is again fun to follow.

Meet The Author

John Mayer was born in Glasgow, Scotland, a war-zone where violence and poverty reigned. In 1963 when he heard The Beatles on Radio Caroline, he decided to change his life. Aged 14 he left school because, in his opinion, he wasn't being taught. For the next year, in all weathers, he cycled 9 miles to and 9 miles from the Mitchell Library in central Glasgow where he devoured books of all kinds and began to understand what more the world had to offer. He became an Apprentice engineer, and soon was teaching men twice his age. In the early 1970s his love of music led him to set up as a Record Producer. He built his own record company trading in 14 countries. After a disheartening court battle with global giants, he left the business world and went back into further education at the University of Edinburgh, becoming an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland. There he acted for the downtrodden and desperate as well as Greenpeace International. His specialism was in fighting international child abduction.

John has written non-fiction, legal texts and articles; broadcast to tens of millions of people on US and UK radio, appeared on TV and in print media. Since retiring from the Law, John has enjoyed using his years of very colourful experience to create The Parliament House Books series.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by John Mayer / Crime fiction / Books from Scotland

Monday, 19 February 2018

Necessities by Boyd Taylor + #Giveaway

Necessities by Boyd Taylor (Book #4 in the Donnie Ray Cuinn series)

N for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Book Details:

Category: Adult Fiction, 225 pages
Genre: Suspense Crime Fiction
Publisher: Katherine Brown Press
Release date: December 5, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is a murder and elusions to sex. Some mild cursing.)

Where to buy this book:

Add Necessities to your Goodreads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via iRead Book Tours

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Donnie Ray Cuinn returns to Austin to defend a war hero accused of murder. David Lewis lost both legs in Iraq, but he has overcome his nightmares and his disabilities by sheer willpower. He has learned to run and to box and is a successful newspaperman with a beautiful wife and son. Now the nightmares have returned and he must stand trial for murder. With twists that never seem to end, this gripping legal thriller is filled with suspense and indelibly drawn characters dealing with love and betrayal.

This is the second of Boyd Taylor's Donnie Cuinn crime thrillers that I have read and I think that this fourth book in the series, Necessities, was even stronger than the first book, Hero. I now need to go back and read the intervening two stories as well!

Necessities is split into a book of two halves and I loved Taylor's audacity in scarcely even mentioning Cuinn until the second half of the tale. Instead, we start out by following and really getting to know disabled war veteran David Lewis. A strong and determined man, we still get to see his weaker side and I enjoyed reading about how he finds himself in a seemingly perfect marriage that is perfect to his wife for surprisingly different reasons. Taylor frequently turns established genre conventions on their heads. His characters are completely real and believable, but unexpected within the crime genre and I think this gives an extra lift to the storylines too. If you're trying for a greater number of diverse reads this year, Boyd Taylor books are certainly worth looking in to.

I don't want to say too much about the storyline in this review because I just know I would inadvertently spoil a twist or denouement for someone. Enough to say, I think, that I rarely give crime series novels the full five stars, but Necessities absolutely deserves every single one!

To read further reviews, please visit Boyd Taylor's page on iRead Book Tours.

Watch the book trailer for Necessities (Book #4 in the Donnie Ray Cuinn Series):

Meet the Author:

BOYD TAYLOR lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and their Havanese dog Toby. Necessities is the fourth novel in the Donnie Ray Cuinn series. In a former life, Boyd was a lawyer and a corporate officer. A native of Temple, Texas, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in government and an LL.B. from the law school.

Boyd's first novel "Hero" was prescient in its story about fake news. His second novel, "The Antelope Play," dealt with drug trafficking in the Texas Panhandle, an unfortunately accurate forecast. The third, "The Monkey House", involved commercial development of a large green space in the center of Austin, all too familiar to Austin residents. Whether his upcoming novel "Necessities" predicts future events with the accuracy of the earlier books remains to be seen.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends March 7, 2018

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Boyd Taylor / Thrillers / Books from America

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Breathe Breathe by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Breathe Breathe by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
Published in America by Unnerving in October 2017.

B for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author via the Authors Needing Reviews Goodreads Group

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It's a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.

In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal. The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.

In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.

In the short stories, you'll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can't find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.

Amid these pages the haunting themes of oppression, isolation, revenge, and madness unfold through folklore, nightmares, and often times, raw, impulsive passion crafted to sear from the inside out.

Breathe Breathe isn't a particularly long book - it's only about 175 pages - and I sat down expecting to read it within a few hours. However it actually took me over a week of dipping into the poems and stories in order to be able to finish it. Don't be mistaken in thinking I didn't enjoy the read. I did! (Although perhaps 'enjoy' isn't the best word to choose.) I found the intense emotion difficult to sustain so, instead of my usual cover-to-cover devouring, Breathe Breathe has been a process of reading one or two poems or stories and then taking time to think them over before returning. It's rare that a collection of short works gets through to me so deeply. All praise to Al-Mehairi for revealing so much of her literary vulnerability in this way.

As with any collection of course, there were pieces that I connected with more strongly than others so I am going to pick out a few of my favourites to mention here. If (when!) you buy this book, be sure to linger over the Fear poems The Heirloom and Earl Grey Tea, and the Pain poem Nature's Salve. I loved the imagery and sense of menace in these. As a woman, I found the short stories to be essentially horror tales. Occasional clunky dialogue aside, I loved their chilling atmospheres and Dandelion Yellow especially is excellent - and heart-breaking.

Breathe Breathe should probably come with a series of trigger warnings. Many of the poems and stories speak of gender violence and abusive relationships and Al-Mehairi isn't coy with her phrases. Sensitive and still-damaged souls should perhaps get a friend to read this through first. Personally I found the read disturbing and powerful and memorable.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi / Poetry / Books from America

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Betrayal by Anne Allen + Giveaway

The Betrayal by Anne Allen
First published in the UK by Sarnia Press in October 2017.

For this week only, until 18th February, the price of books 2-6 of The Guernsey Novels is only £1.99/$2.99, with book 1, 'Dangerous Waters, remaining at 99p/99c

This is in celebration of Anne Allen's birthday, the 6th anniversary of the publication of 'Dangerous Waters' and the recent publication of book 6, 'The Betrayal'.

Where to buy this book:

Add The Betrayal to your Goodreads

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return. 

1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.

2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…

Searching for the true owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother's ghost to rest?

Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?

Meet the author:
Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns. By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, six having been published and the seventh, The Inheritance, is due out in 2018. ​

Author links: 
Website ~ GoodreadsFacebook ~ Twitter

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

Open Internationally until the 21st February, the prize is a signed paperback copy of The Betrayal by Anne Allen.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Anne Allen / Mystery fiction / Books from England

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Poison Of Woedenwoud by K Ferrin + Giveaway

The Poison Of Woedenwoud by K Ferrin
Published in America in on the 12th February 2018.

Where to buy this book:

Add The Poison Of Woedenwoud to your Goodreads

Magic is draining from the world threatening everything, the tatters of her own family, the warlocks, and the Mari alike. Ling and her companions search desperately for the key to ending it all, but warlocks dog their every step. Meanwhile, Ling, isolated and afraid, struggles against a rising tide of darkness far more threatening than anything in the Darkling Sea.

Meet the Author
K. Ferrin spends her days surrounded by engineers, technology, and humming machinery, but her evenings are steeped in magic, myth, and adventure. She writes fantasy, loves gardening, and eats way too much pie. She lives at the foot of the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two pooches.

Her novels include the stand alone YA fantasy novel Magicless, as well as Across the Darkling Sea, and A Dying Land, the first two books of a series.

Author links:
WebsiteTwitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 22nd February, the prizes are two $25 Amazon gift cards.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by K Ferrin / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Curiouser and Curiouser by Melanie Karsak + Extract + Giveaway

Curiouser and Curiouser by Melanie Karsak
Published in America in July 2017.

Where to buy this book:

Add Curiouser And Curiouser to your Goodreads

To save the Hatter, Alice must work with the one man she despises so much that she might still love him.

Alice thought she’d turned over a new leaf. No more working for Jabberwocky. No more making deals with the ruthless Queen of Hearts. No more hanging around The Mushroom with tinkers, tarts, scoundrels, and thieves in London’s criminal underbelly. But she’d been bonkers to dream.

Hatter’s reckless behavior leads Alice back to the one person she never wanted to see again, Caterpillar. Pulled into Caterpillar’s mad schemes, Alice must steal a very big diamond from a very royal lady. The heist is no problem for this Bandersnatch. But protecting her heart from the man she once loved? Impossible.

Sometimes love is mad.


I approached the guards cautiously, stopping just short of the entryway.
They looked from me to one another, unsure what to do.
I stared at William who toked on a hookah pipe, blowing a ring of smoke in the air.
The guards shifted uncomfortably.
William, who’d been lounging on a chaise, sat up and looked out at me through the sheer fabric.
He smirked then leaned forward. “Who are you?”
His question silenced those around him. Everyone knew who I was.
“When I woke up this morning, I was Alice.”
He rose then moved closer. “But who are you now?”
“That depends. Who are you? Which Alice is here depends on your answer.”
He came to the curtain. “Well then, that makes it hard to say.”
“I’m sure it does, given how good you are at betraying your true nature.” I was trying to keep a lid on my feelings but was failing miserably. As he drew closer, I smelled the sweet aromas of jasmine and sandalwood that always clung to him.
“You’re one to talk. So, what does Alice from this morning want?”
I frowned at him.
“Don’t get too frustrated,” he replied then pulled the curtain open, beckoning me inside, “or the other Alice might peek out. Come.”
I entered the semi-private enclosure. Inside, I spotted William’s chief bodyguard, the Knave. A tart lay naked, asleep in an opium stupor, on a chaise nearby.
I nodded to the Knave.
“Alice,” he said with a soft smile. I caught the lilt of his Irish accent in his voice. His real name, of course, was Jack. He’d been friends with William and me since we were young. As was the habit in the industry, Jack went by a pseudonym. If someone ratted you out, it was better that they had no idea what your real name might be. It’s a lot harder to track a man named Knave than it was Jack O’Toole or Caterpillar than it was to find William Charleston.
“Have a seat, Alice from this morning,” William said.
I sat on the chaise, gently pushing aside the legs of the intoxicated strumpet.
“What brings you here?” he asked, rubbing a thoughtful finger across his chin. He’d grown a short, neatly-kept beard since I saw him last. It looked very handsome.
“Rabbit stole a pocket watch from my employer. I want it back.”
“What does that have to do with me?” William asked.
“Cake?” one of William’s girls offered, holding out a tray on which sat a colorful selection of petit fours.
I looked down at the small treats. I could smell the aroma of the frosting, nearly taste the sweet confections in a glance. I could see the game was truly afoot. They were my favorite. I raised an eyebrow at William who smiled.
The stubborn part of me wanted to tell William, and the girl, to sod off. But the part of me who hadn’t tasted strawberry frosted, vanilla-sweetened, and raspberry-and crème-filled cake in months could say no such thing. I lifted a small cake and popped it into my mouth, feeling annoyed and enraptured all in the same moment. I closed my eyes, savoring the taste. They’d come from my favorite baker. William had remembered. Once more, angry and elated feelings swept over me.
“Drink?” the girl then offered.
I opened my eyes to see the girl was holding a bottle of absinthe.
“Alice isn’t the type. Do you want some tea?” he asked.
I shook my head.
“Run off,” he told the serving girl, waving her away.
The girl turned to go, but before she could leave, I reached out and grabbed just one more petit four: pistachio and chocolate. I popped it into my mouth.
“I’m glad you like them,” William said, grinning at me.
The warmth of his gaze made me angry. He didn’t have any right being this nice to me. “The pocket watch?” I asked after swallowing the last bite.
“Alice from the morning is very business-oriented. Right, then. What of it?”
“I hate it when you play coy. And you’re not very good at it. Rabbit entered this tent not a moment before me. I want that watch. Must I remind you that we have an understanding? You don’t tangle in my affairs, remember? It was agreed upon.”
“You certainly are Alice from this morning,” he said with a frown. “Not that the outfit didn’t give it away. Crisp white apron you have there, Alice. But the blue maid’s dress brings out your eyes.”
“We all wear costumes, don’t we, Caterpillar and his Knave?” I said, casting a glance at Jack. “Is he Jack or is he the Knave? Are you Caterpillar or are you William? Hard to tell what’s truth and what’s fiction, isn’t it?”
William smirked then turned to Jack. “Find Rabbit.”
“He shouldn’t be far. You waved him off just a moment ago,” I said.
Chuckling under his breath, Jack left.
“Why did you bring me here?” I asked.
“Bring you here?” William replied.
Now I was getting irritated. “Yes. Why did you bring me here?”
“Chance brings you here.”
“There is no such thing. Rabbit would never steal from me or mine unless you told him to.”
“William,” I replied, a warning in my voice.
“Let’s just say that a pocket watch brought you here,” he said.

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:
WebsiteTwitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest ~ Newsletter

And now for the giveaway!
Open to the US only (sorry) until the 9th March, the prize is an Alice In Wonderland stacking mug set.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Melanie Karsak / Steampunk books / Books from America

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Lettre à Zohra D by Danielle Michel-Chich

Lettre à Zohra D by Danielle Michel-Chich
Published in France by Flammarion in February 2012.

I read this book in French

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Swapped for in the library at Camping Los Madriles, Isla Plana, Spain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lettre à Zohra D. is an autobiographical narrative exploring the author's experience as a child survivor of the 1956 bombing of the Milk Bar café in Algiers, Algeria. The bomb caused Michel-Chich to lose her left leg and killed her grandmother.

As well as simply wanting to practice and improve my French language skills and vocabulary, I hoped that by challenging myself to read some books in French this year I would be able to discover works as yet untranslated into English. I also wanted to find books from countries as yet unrepresented in my WorldReads posts and Lettre à Zohre D absolutely fits the bill. This memoir is written by a woman born and raised in Algeria, who had to emigrate to France when Algeria gained its independence. Aged just five, she survived a terrorist bomb attack although in reading her book I learned why she doesn't appreciate being labelled as a 'survivor'.

Michel-Chich wrote Lettre à Zohre D fifty-five years after the Milk Bar bombing, having spent most of the time in between just getting on with her life and not dwelling on the past. Now a grandmother herself, I love her down-to-earth pragmatism and her sense of humour. Despite starting from a horrific event, this is in no way a depressing memoir to read. Reading about her family's reaction to her injuries was probably the most difficult for me because attitudes to trauma and its treatment were very different in the late 1950s and 1960s. Most interesting though were her thoughts on terrorism as a concept and Zohra D's place in the feminist canon.

From a Learning French perspective, this book wasn't so difficult as to be discouraging although I needed new vocabulary words for the subject area. By the latter stages I was reading reasonably swiftly with rarer dictionary grabbing. The memoir is only just over 100 pages so, even with just reading 5-10 pages a day, I could see myself making progress. It might seem odd to say I enjoyed Lettre à Zohra D because of its theme, but that is the case. I was given lots to think about. Michel-Chich's attitudes and opinions were frequently not what I expected and I like to have my beliefs challenged in this way.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Danielle Michel-Chich / Biography and memoir / Books from Algeria