thin-air

Michelle Paver x 2

Our Book Group choice to discuss this week as our themed ‘Horror/Ghost story’ selection was Michelle Paver’s first adult novel – Dark Matter – subtitled ‘A Ghost Story’. Her second novel, Thin Air – also ‘A Ghost Story’, was published recently too, so I’ll combine thoughts about the two into one post. Firstly, Dark Matter. Published in 2010 Read More

Marie

Women in Translation month – a French novella

Marie by Madeleine Bourdouxhe Translated by Faith Evans This gorgeously produced novella with its stunning cover design is turning into one of the sleeper hits of the summer. The cover stood out in the bookshop and I had to buy it – luckily the story inside is just as high quality, (read Jacqui‘s review too). This was Read More

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Book Group report: Noir

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett To broaden our reading and ensure that don’t keep choosing yet another xxx-prize short/longlisted book each month, we are picking the books we read by topic, and for July it was ‘Noir’. We pick the topic 3 months ahead, then 2 months ahead we pick the book from the Read More

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A Soviet Adventure with Dennis Wheatley

The Forbidden Territory by Dennis Wheatley Earlier this year I reported on an afternoon spent at the Groucho Club arranged by literary agents PFD, hearing about the novels of Dennis Wheatley (and John Creasey).  I finally managed to make time to read a Wheatley … The Forbidden Territory was Wheatley’s first published novel in 1933. It was an instant bestseller Read More

1938 club

An Ambler for ‘The 1938 Club’

Cause for Alarm by Eric Ambler This week Simon and Karen are hosting their second selected year reading club – and after 1924 last time, 1938 was the year they chose. 1938 is particularly interesting because of the political situation building up to WWII , and the novel I chose to read encapsulates those worries perfectly. Eric Ambler was Read More

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The Return of Clara Vine

A War of Flowers by Jane Thynne I am a big fan of the wartime adventures of Anglo-German actress and British spy Clara Vine’s first two outings in Black Roses and The Winter Garden, so I was delighted to get stuck into the third volume of Jane Thynne’s series to see what happened next to Clara. In the Read More

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My Books of the Year 2014 – Part Two – The Blog edit

Yesterday I shared my best reads of 2014 as reviewed for Shiny New Books. Today, I turn my attention to titles reviewed here. The links will return you to my full reviews: – Best Retro-Subversive Laugh-Out-Loud Book Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler So nearly my book of the year, Discovering Scarfolk is just hilarious! Stuck firmly in Read More

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Back to Pre-WWII Berlin…

The Winter Garden by Jane Thynne Last year, I was thrilled to read Jane Thynne’s novel Black Roses, actress/spy Clara Vine’s first outing in 1930s Berlin, in which she became accepted in the high social circles of the First Reich’s wives. This was the story of how Clara came to Berlin to act in the Read More

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A Tale of Two Women in 1930s Berlin

Black Roses by Jane Thynne Remembering Jane Thynne’s columns and reviews in the Daily Telegraph, and having read that she is married to thriller writer Philip Kerr, I had high hopes of her new novel, set in Berlin during the years preceding WWII. I wasn’t disappointed, for Black Roses is a brilliant historical thriller based Read More

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The other half's story …

Mr Bridge (Penguin Modern Classics) by Evan S Connell Written ten years after  his 1959 novel Mrs Bridge, Connell’s companion piece Mr Bridge tells the story of the Bridge family through the same time period from the 1930s into WWII, but from the husband’s point of view. I read and adored Mrs Bridge a couple of weeks Read More

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A life unfulfilled, funny but full of melancholy…

Mrs Bridge by Evan S Connell Just before Christmas, I acquired a review copy of the imminent Penguin Modern Classics reissue of Mr Bridge by Evan S Connell. I knew nothing about the book at all, but the synopsis intrigued me. Finding that Connell had previously written Mrs Bridge, and that Mr Bridge was therefore Read More

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'Finishing' in 1930s Munich

Winter Games by Rachel Johnson Upon receiving Rachel Johnson’s latest novel, a  tale of toffs being ‘finished’ in pre-war Germany, I dove in straight away and devoured it. The cover refreshingly has a headed young woman with her face showing on, which makes a nice change to the usual headless or back views we’re subjected Read More

Rules of Civility

Playing by the rules …

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles Scene: New York City, 1966 – an elderly couple, Katey and Val, are at a gallery viewing of photographs, all taken of passengers on the subway over many years. The same man occurs in two photos, but in obviously different circumstances years apart. Katey recognises him – it’s Tinker Grey… Read More

Firefly brothers

Of Gangsters and the Great Depression

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen It’s the 1930s in the height of the great depression, millions are out of work and bands of bank-robbing outlaws are regarded as folk heroes in the USA. Former public enemy number one, John Dillinger, has recently been sent to his grave and stepping up to the top Read More

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Down and ‘borassic’ in 1930s London

At the Chime of a City Clock by D J Taylor Taylor’s novel is a cleverly portrayed slice of 30s noir. It’s set in the seedy backstreets of London in 1931. James Ross is an aspiring writer, but there’s no chance of making a living at it. He lives in London’s seedy Bayswater and his Read More

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What happens when the woman of your dreams becomes a reality?

I’ve been saving a few reviews to post until I’m ready to start talking about vampires in my Season of the Living Dead. So today it’s time to introduce you to: Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker Norman and his friend Henry are on holiday in Ireland. They duck into a church to shelter from the Read More