The Baltic Books Blog Tour #1

This year the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – are celebrating 100 years of independence with new translations of Baltic Books coming to the UK for the first time and a series of cultural events happening across the UK. The Baltics are also being honoured as the Market Focus at London Book Fair Read More

Book Group choice for April: Egypt

To War With Whitaker The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly 1939-45 This month, our topic to choose a title was ‘Egypt’ – any book set in or about anything to do with the country. The nominations were: Death on the Nile – Christie Ice Cold in Alex – Christopher Landon Palace Walk by Read More

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Fever Pitch

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, this meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six steps. This month’s starting point is: Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby Now although I adore Hornby, this is a football book, so I’m unlikely to read it although as soccer books go, Read More

Shiny Linkiness

I can promise more reviews before Christmas, but in the mean time, here are some more links to my reviews in the latest issue of Shiny New Books… Old Buildings in North Texas by Jen Waldo This compact novel had me chortling from the first page. Olivia is a recovering from a heart attack and Read More

Clara Vine 4 – War Threatens…

Faith and Beauty by Jane Thynne I was so glad that Jane Thynne extended her Clara Vine series of books beyond the original planned trilogy. This series, centred in 1930s Berlin, with heroine Anglo-German actress-spy Clara, are so thrilling – each addition becomes a must-read for me. You can catch up on my thoughts about the previous Read More

Keeping up Appearances

A Quiet Life by Natasha Walter This is the first novel by Walter, who has previously been known for her non-fiction including her book on feminism Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism (2011). Now she has turned to fiction, and in A Quiet Life, she has based the bare outlines of her story on the life Read More

Winning the war on holiday…

Third Reich by Roberto Bolano Wanting to join in Spanish Literature Month hosted by Stu and Richard, I grabbed the first book I came to on my shelves which turned out to be my second experience of reading Chilean author Roberto Bolano. My first was reading the confusing and slightly surreal Amulet which I talked Read More

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

We followed our men to Los Alamos …

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit This is not a novel about the development of the atom bomb, but rather the development of the community surrounding the laboratory which produced the bomb. Most of the scientists who worked at Los Alamos were seconded to the military from all over the country in 1943 Read More

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

“It’s the end of the world as we know it” …

Ragnarok by A.S.Byatt The Myths series of books by Canongate, is a set I’ve been collecting since their inception in 1995 – I’ve read maybe half of them so far though – something I must address! Every year or two, Canongate are adding titles in the series – short novels by esteemed writers. The latest Read More

Practice makes perfect?

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson Way back, when Kate Atkinson’s debut novel Behind the Scenes in the Museum was published and won prizes, I bought a copy – and struggled with it. Me and it didn’t gel back then, and I’ve not bothered reading any other books by Kate Atkinson since, until now. I was Read More

‘A Duty-Dance with Death’ – ‘So it goes’

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut This was our book group’s choice for discussion in November. Whilst it’s fair to say that whilst nobody loved it, and some didn’t get on with it at all, it did provoke some good discussion. I quite enjoyed it, and would certainly read more by Vonnegut. My only previous experience with Read More

Q&A with Jane Thynne, author of ‘Black Roses’

Back in March, I reviewed a fabulous romantic thriller set in pre-WWII Germany. Black Roses by Jane Thynne is the story of Clara Vine, a young actress who goes to Berlin to pursue a film career and ends up as a British spy and confidante of Magda Goebbels, the infamous First Lady of the Third Reich. Read More

A novel of love, war, betrayal and stiff upper lip

Some Day I’ll Find You by Richard Madeley Richard Madeley slightly surprised everyone in 2008 when he published his successful memoir Fathers and Sons which explored male familial relationships through the mirror of his own. Despite journalistic roots, it was somewhat unexpected that one of the most successful daytime TV hosts and champion of the Richard Read More

Reading Thomas Keneally for Australian Literature Month

April is Australian Literature Month at Reading Matters. Kim is also generously donating 50p for each linked review to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation which gives books to families in remote parts of Australia, which is a fab incentive to participate! A swift perusal of my shelves came up with several authors to consider, including Kate Read More

When mothers fail their daughters …

Magda by Meike Ziervogel The past couple of weeks have seen the publication of not one, but two novels featuring the ‘First Woman of the Third Reich’ Magda Goebbels. The first was Black Roses by Jane Thynne – A spy story set in 1933 Berlin. I loved it and you can read my review here. Read More

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

A tale of motherhood across generations…

The Confidantby Hélène Grémillon, translated by Alison Anderson I got a letter one day, a long letter that wasn’t signed. This was quite an event, because I’ve never received much mail in my life. My letter box had never done anything more than inform me that the-sea-was-warm or that the-snow-was-good, so I didn’t open it Read More

From the archives May 2013: HHhH by Laurent Binet trans Sam Taylor

I reviewed this originally on my old blog in two stages – combined into one post here: Halfway Hangups: HHhH is the book du jour, the one that’s getting the blog-inches, mostly giving it glowing reviews. It won the Prix Goncourt in France, and Mario Vargas Llosa thinks it “magnificent.” For anyone who hasn’t encountered it yet, HHhH Read More

Muriel Spark Reading Week – The Girls of Slender Means

 It’s Muriel Spark Reading Week, hosted by Simon and Harriet. Do visit their blogs to see a plethora of reviews and links to what we’ve all been reading. I’ve not read a Spark novel since 2008 when I really enjoyed The Ballad Of Peckham Rye.  I chose another of her 1960s novels for MSRW… * * Read More

Muriel Spark Reading Week 2012

  This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. It’s Muriel Spark Reading Week, hosted by Simon and Harriet. Do visit their blogs to see a plethora of reviews and links to what we’ve all been reading. I’ve not read a Spark novel since 2008 when I really enjoyed The Ballad Of Peckham Rye. Read More

Another different Italian Inspector!

Death and the Olive Grove by Marco Vichi, translated by Stephen Sartarelli This is the second of Vichi’s novels featuring Inspector Bordelli of the Florentine police.  I’ve yet to read the first, but I don’t think it really mattered. It was first published in Italian in 2003, the English translation was published this year. When Read More

Memories are made of this?

The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner Sally Gardner is moving up through the ages with her books. She started off with illustrating and writing picture books, then she wrote a series of Magical Children novels for younger readers, before writing several brilliant historical novels for older children (see my review of The Red Necklace here). Read More

From Paradise to Hell …

This post was edited and republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive.   Lord of the Flies by William Golding Conceived, so I’ve read, as a response to the Utopian and rose-tinted worlds of Swallows and Amazons, and in particular, Ballantyne’s Coral Island, Golding’s Lord of the Flies, published in Read More

The case of the nasty young man

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Dirty Snow by Georges Simenon Translated by Marc Romano and Louise Varèse For most of us, Simenon is famous, justly, for his creation of Maigret, the pipe-smoking French detective that appeared in over a hundred novels and short stories from the 1930s Read More

Doing what comes naturally …

This post was edited and republished into its original place in my blog timeline from my lost posts archive. Lucky Bunny by Jill Dawson Jill Dawson is one of those authors who appears to write a different book every time, although when you look underneath, there are links.  The Great Lover tells the story of poet Read More

Book Group Report – The Little Stranger

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s timeline in its original place from my lost posts archives. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters This made a great choice for a book group (as long as you have the time to read it’s 500+ pages), because we all had differing ideas on the mystery Read More