To War with Whitaker

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

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

a Quiet life

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

Third Reich Bolano

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


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


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 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


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

Girls of Slender Means

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


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

Dirty Snow

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

Lucky Bunny

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

LIttle Stranger

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


A Wartime Romance

This post was edited and republished back into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. The Novel in the Viola by Natasha Solomons In the same way that we all rejoiced when the TV powers that be gave us Downton Abbey and resurrected Upstairs Downstairs, not to mention the Oscar-winning success of The Read More

Jan 2011 2 WWII Reviews

Two 2011 reviews set during WWII: Fallada & Dogar

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada Translated by Michael Hofmann I was put off reading this book for months, anticipating that it would be too difficult, too philosophical, too heavy; also that being 608 pages including appendices it would take too long to read.  I was wrong on all accounts. Alone in Berlin was written in just Read More


Peirene #3 – Train of thought …

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius translated by Jamie Bulloch This is the third title from Peirene Press who launched this year publishing thought-provoking short novels of contemporary European literature in luxury paperback editions. Read my thoughts about their first two books here. Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, appears rather Read More