Playing for His Life by John Peacock

bookshelves: winter-20132014, anti-semitic, sport, nazi-related, wwii, published-2011, fradio, radio-4

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from January 31 to February 01, 2014


Thankee Brazilliant!

Desciption: Already under Gestapo Surveillance, tennis ace Baron Gottfried Von Cramm, married but secretly homosexual, offends Hitler, by refusing to join the Nazi Party. He believes himself to be safe as long as he remains Germany’s number one and winning. ‘But I must win. I can’t lose, and I can’t quit.’ He was left playing for his life.

Producer/Director: Celia de Wolff
A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4

1931 portrait of Gottfried von Cramm

From wiki: The Nazis wanted to exploit his blonde good looks as a symbol of Aryan supremacy, but he refused to identify with Nazism. In the war, he was discharged from the military because of frostbite.

This was a heartbreaker. Especially recommended for bulletpoint Karen bulletpoint

White Beech: The Rainforest Years by Germaine Greer

bookshelves: published-2013, radio-4, zoology, winter-20132014, those-autumn-years, nonfiction, fradio, forest, environmental-issues, australia

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from January 27 to 31, 2014



BBC description: Germaine Greer is in search of ‘heart’s ease’. She longs to find a patch of her native Australia to make good, to restore after years of misguided exploitation. And she has just the person to help her with her project – her sister who is ‘a properly trained Australian botanist’. But finding the right patch of land turns out to be far more difficult than she ever imagined.

Read by Germaine Greer Abridged and produced by Jane Marshall A Jane Marshall production for BBC Radio 4.

1. Overview and reasons why. GG finds herself an Eco Warrior in her mid-life

2. After a two-year search, Germaine Greer has almost given up her quest for a piece of land to heal. But then she goes to see an abandoned dairy farm on the Gold Coast.

3. Germaine Greer has bought a piece of battered rainforest on the Gold Coast and the task of restoring it seems overwhelming. Now she has to admit to her sister what she’s done.

4. The hero of Germaine Greer’s rainforest is the rare white beech tree. She discovers it is neither white nor a beech, but it is one of the most endangered species of the forest.

5. Germaine Greer returns from a six-month stay in England to find some exciting plantlings in her propagation unit in the rainforest – a discovery that makes all her work worthwhile.

Gondwana Rainforest

Soo good I shall look at deals on the paper book.

5* Poems for Gardeners
5* White Beech

Crimes of Mancunia by Michael Symmons Roberts

bookshelves: poetry, mystery-thriller, music, published-2011, winter-20132014, under-10-ratings, radio-4, manchester, britain-england, love, noir

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from January 30 to 31, 2014

Sinead Keenan as DCI Lise Lazard and Danielle Henry as CHIZ

Description: Criminals’ loved ones are being kidnapped around Manchester. When the kidnapper starts asking for very specific amounts of ransom money, word soon spreads that he is an ex-cop with a dangerous grudge against the criminal community. DCI Lise Lazard and DI Mikey Finn take up the case before time runs out for the kidnapper’s victims. A noir drama in verse by Michael Symmons Roberts.

Producer: Charlotte Riches
Director: Susan Roberts

Listen Here

The music: (MMChq) I AM KLOOT Morning rain

More Like This Please

Morvern Callar

bookshelves: film-only, winter-20132014, impac-longlist, published-1995, britain-scotland, recreational-drugs, suicide, music, sleazy, spain, books-about-books-and-book-shops, travel, teh-demon-booze, washyourmouthout-language

Read from January 30 to 31, 2014

Description: Morvern Callar, a low-paid employee in the local supermarket in a desolate and beautiful port town in the west of Scotland, wakes one morning in late December to find her strange boyfriend has committed suicide and is dead on the kitchen floor. Morvern’s reaction is both intriguing and immoral. What she does next is even more appalling. Moving across a blurred European landscape-from rural poverty and drunken mayhem of the port to the Mediterranean rave scene-we experience everything from Morvern’s stark, unflinching perspective.

Morvern is utterly hypnotizing from her very first sentence to her last. She rarely goes anywhere without the Walkman left behind as a Christmas present by her dead boyfriend, and as she narrates this strange story, she takes care to tell the reader exactly what music she is listening to, giving the stunning effect of a sound track running behind her voice.

In much the same way that Patrick McCabe managed to tell an incredibly rich and haunting story through the eyes of an emotionally disturbed boy in The Butcher Boy, Alan Warner probes the vast internal emptiness of a generation by using the cool, haunting voice of a female narrator lost in the profound anomie of the ecstasy generation. Morvern is a brilliant creation, not so much memorable as utterly unforgettable.”

Someone one on one these booksites has very recently read about mixed tapes (Eleni? Jema?), any way, this story is all wound around a mixed tape made for Morvern by her dead boyfriend.

Empty Cradles

bookshelves: nonfiction, nottingham, politics, published-1994, winter-20132014, under-1000-ratings, true-grime, tragedy, tbr-busting-2014, lifestyles-deathstyles, families, australia, catholic, bdsm

Read on January 30, 2014

Emily Watson … Margaret Humphreys

Description: In 1986 Margaret Humphreys, a Nottingham social worker, investigated the case of a woman who claimed that, at the age of four, she had been put on a boat to Australia by the British government. Margaret Humphreys soon discovered that as many as 150,000 children had in fact been deported from children’s homes in Britian and shipped off to a “new life” in distant parts of the Empire—the last as recently as 1967. For numerous children it was to be a life of horrendous physical and sexual abuse in institutions in Western Australia and elsewhere. Margaret Humphreys reveals how she gradually unravelled this shocking secret, how she became drawn into the lives of some of these innocent and unwilling exiles, and how it became her mission to reunite them with their families.

The woman whose claim that she was exported at 4 year’s old, started off Humphrey’s investigation.

The Trailer

Margaret Humphreys

Constructing Bindoon

The song from the film: Cat Stevens ‘Wild World’

‘Bindoon and I’ll slip you one’ seems to have been the Roman Catholic nose tap between the Brothers. UGH!

I can’t comment on the book or the writing style but I can tell you that this horror story has sickened me to the core.

24th Feb 2010, Gordon Brown Apologises for the abuse of children transported thousands of miles from home.

The Furies by Aeschylus

bookshelves: currently-reading, classic, families, betrayal, fradio, greece, legal-courtcase, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-richer, mythology, play-dramatisation, published-458bc, radio-3, revenge, winter-20132014

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners


R3 A new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz of The Furies, the last play in Aeschylus’s trilogy.

BBC description: The Oresteia: The Furies By Aeschylus. A new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz

The final play in Aeschylus’ classic trilogy about murder, revenge and justice. Orestes has avenged his father Agamemnon by murdering his killer, his own mother Clytemnestra. Now the Furies, deities of revenge, are on his trail and baying for blood. Can the young gods Apollo and Athena stop this cycle of revenge?

BBC Concert Orchestra Percussionists: Alasdair Malloy, Stephen Webberley and Stephen Whibley Sound design: Colin Guthrie.

To halt the blood feud spreading to yet another generation we are introduced to the emergence of the first homicide court.

Regeneration by Pat Barker

bookshelves: film-only, wwi, published-1991, mental-health, tbr-busting-2014, winter-20132014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Brazilliant Laura
Read from November 20, 2011 to January 30, 2014

Description: Regeneration, one in Pat Barker’s series of novels confronting the psychological effects of World War I, focuses on treatment methods during the war and the story of a decorated English officer sent to a military hospital after publicly declaring he will no longer fight. Yet the novel is much more. Written in sparse prose that is shockingly clear — the descriptions of electronic treatments are particularly harrowing — it combines real-life characters and events with fictional ones in a work that examines the insanity of war like no other. Barker also weaves in issues of class and politics in this compactly powerful book.

Staff and patients outside Craiglockhart hospital in March 1917

Did you see this recent news item

Dougray Scott … Capt. Robert Graves
Stuart Bunce … 2nd Lt. Wilfred Owen
James Wilby … 2nd Lt. Siegfried Sassoon
Jonathan Pryce … Capt. William Rivers

Suicide In The Trenches

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

© Siegfried Sassoon


What’s all this hubbub and yelling, Commotion and scamper of feet, With ear-splitting clatter of kettles and cans, Wild laughter down Mafeking Street?

O, those are the kids whom we fought for (You might think they’d been scoffing our rum) With flags that they waved when we marched off to war In the rapture of bugle and drum.

Now they’ll hang Kaiser Bill from a lamp-post, Von Tirpitz they’ll hang from a tree…. We’ve been promised a ‘Land Fit for Heroes’— What heroes we heroes must be!

And the guns that we took from the Fritzes,
That we paid for with rivers of blood,
Look, they’re hauling them down to Old Battersea Bridge
Where they’ll topple them, souse, in the mud!

But there’s old men and women in corners
With tears falling fast on their cheeks,
There’s the armless and legless and sightless
— It’s seldom that one of them speaks.

And there’s flappers gone drunk and indecent
Their skirts kilted up to the thigh,
The constables lifting no hand in reproof
And the chaplain averting his eye….

When the days of rejoicing are over,
When the flags are stowed safely away,
They will dream of another wild ‘War to End Wars’
And another wild Armistice day.

But the boys who were killed in the trenches,
Who fought with no rage and no rant,
We left them stretched out on their pallets of mud
Low down with the worm and the ant.

Robert Graves


What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
—Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
— The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Extremely powerful anti-war message in this biography of mental care at Craiglockhart Hospital, Edinburgh, where some scenes were just too much to bear.


Thérèse Raquin

bookshelves: e-book, gutenberg-project, fradio, france, paris, revenge, families, betrayal, play-dramatisation, plague-disease, winter-20132014, tbr-busting-2014, casual-violence, classic, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-richer, love, ouch, published-1867, radio-4x, noir, psychology

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from January 27 to 29, 2014


Two-part dramatisation by Diana Griffiths of the novel by Emile Zola, set in mid-19th century Paris.

Description: Therese is forced by her aunt to marry her sickly son, Camille. However, upon moving to Paris, she and her lover Laurent conspire to murder Camille so that they may love freely.

Therese …… Charlotte Riley
Laurent …… Andrew Buchan
Camille …… Toby Hadoke
Mme Raquin …… Pauline Jefferson
Michaud …… Rob Pickavance
Suzanne …… Deborah McAndrew

Manager/Assistant …… Carl Cieka
Directed by Pauline Harris.

Whoa – this was dark, almost Dostyoevskian, with all characters just seeing to their needs and calling it love. Shortish too, ~240 pages of eye scorching, murderous pragmatism delivered with panache.

The French Orphan

bookshelves: published-2012, net-galley, e-book, historical-fiction, winter-20132014, under-50-ratings, france, adventure, young-adult, spies, paris, newtome-author, bdsm, glbt, filthy-lucre

Read from January 27 to 29, 2014


Netgalley/Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd. First published 2012

Description: The year is 1640, and Louis XIII is on the French throne. However, as far as you’re concerned, this is all pretty meaningless. After all, as a teenage orphan living in a monastery school in Reims, all you have to worry about is dodging the unpleasant advances of a few unsavoury monks and looking forward to a life of penniless and celibate servitude in a religious order.

After a childhood and adolescence plagued by a constant longing to know who he really is, orphan Pierre has not the slightest idea that his questions are about to be answered. But you know what they say – be careful what you wish for…

Suddenly finding out who you are can bring with it not only happiness and fortune, but danger, friendship and the sort of swift education that the monastery could never have provided! The discovery of who Pierre really is affects not only Pierre and his friends, but has ramifications for the French nobility, the English crown, and most dangerous of all, the machinations of Cardinal Richelieu and his fierce ambition for the Church and for himself.

Dedication: To Polly – thanks for your support
To Katharine – thanks for making it happen

Palais-Cardinal c1642

Cardinal Richelieu was born in 1585 and died in 1642. Richelieu dominated the history of France from 1624 to his death as Louis XIII?s chief minister

Opening to the prologue: The log burning in the imposing marble fireplace disintegrated and sent a shower of dancing red-gold sparks into the air. The sound of the small explosion echoed in the library of the new palatial building known to everyone in Paris simply as le palais du cardinal, the home of His Eminence, Cardinal Richeleu, the revered – as much as reviled – the prime minister of France.


The story itself opens up in the monastery school in Reims, where the sadistic, paedophile overseer, Brother Heironymous, shows favour towards a comely youth, Armand, who is a friend of our protagonist Pierre, the orphan of the title. The hunt is on to find out just who was Pierre’s parents, and they must have had class because Reims never takes on just anyone to nurture.

That’s as far as I can take you without spoilers galore.

The writing is somewhat pedestrian and as such this is not an engrossing novel for hard-core historical fiction readers, however if it’s a light read you are after, albeit with male rape, as a palate cleanser, this may be the one for you.

The next in the series:

The Secrets of Montrésor (The French Orphan, #2)
Under the Spell of The Serenissima (The French Orphan, #3)


Ten for Dying: A John, the Lord Chamberlain Mystery

bookshelves: published-2014, net-galley, e-book, winter-20132014, historical-fiction, mystery-thriller, series

Read from January 18 to 27, 2014


 photo heartnetgalley_zpsff301538.jpg Netgalley/Poisoned Pen Press

Description: Ambition, intrigue, treachery, murder—another Byzantine mystery…. 548 CE. It’s a hot summer night in Constantinople. Emperor Justinian is mourning his dead wife, Theodora. John, his Lord Chamberlain, has been exiled. And at the Church of the Holy Apostles, an Egyptian magician tries to raise the Empress from the dead while demons vanish into the darkness with one of the city’s holiest relics, a fragment of the shroud of the Virgin. As if Felix, Captain of the Palace Guard, didn’t have enough problems already what with his gambling debts, political maneuverings, and an ambitious new mistress, Justinian orders him to find the missing relic. Before Felix can begin, someone deposits an anonymous corpse at his house. An attempt to dispose of the body goes wrong, leaving Felix in the frame. And a former madam turned leader of a religious refuge, a wealthy and famous charioteer, a general’s scheming wife, and a man who wears so many protective charms that he jingles when he walks play their parts in the ensuing misdirection. It seems as if half the city wants to possess the relic, see Felix dead—or both. If only Felix’s friend, the shrewd John, were still in the city, but the former Lord Chamberlain sailed for Greece with his wife the morning after the theft. Felix is left to fight for survival in a situation where he can’t be sure who his enemies are, or even whether they are all human, while John lends a hand from afar.

Opening: At the deadest hour of a warm summer night, the door to the mausoleum behind the Church of the Holy Apostles opened with a creak resembling the short cry of a sleeper disturbed by a nightmare.

A jolly jape and a rollicking romp crammed full of storylines that’s worth a solid, level 3*. The description says it all, however I will add that it is okay to jump in at any time during the series*, it doesn’t seem to detract from enjoyment, so if you are looking for a fluffy, light adventure this could be it.

* Series previously published, beginning in the late ’90s, as John the Eunuch.