The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales by Kate Mosse

bookshelves: published-2013, radio-4x, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, spring-2015

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from March 14, 2014 to March 26, 2015

Description: “The Mistletoe Bride and other Haunting Tales” is a collection of haunting short stories written, abridged and introduced by Kate Mosse. They are all inspired by legends and folktales from the French and Sussex Countryside and each story explores the relationship between landscape and emotion. Grief and Guilt. Loss and happiness. They are timeless in their telling, ranging from the mythical past to the present day. Kate Mosse has chosen 5 out of the collection that exemplify the redemption experienced by the various grief stricken men and women as they come to terms with their destiny.
Producer: Celia de Wolff
Made for 4 Extra by Pier Productions.

Episode 1: The Mistletoe Bride: The happiness of a young bride on her wedding day comes to a tragic and abrupt end. Read by Bryony Hannah.

Episode 2: On Harting Hill: A horrified man thinks he’s run over a young girl only to find all is not quite as it seems. Read by Robert Glenister.

Episode 3: Red Letter Day: A grief-stricken mother goes on a journey in search of peace. Read by Claire Skinner.

Episode 4: The House on the Hill: A young woman’s life is protected by the haunting walls of a house within a house. Read by Lily James.

Episode 5: The Revenant: An old man’s guilt will haunt him and not release him until the truth is told. Read by Charlotte Emmerson.

The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth

bookshelves: paper-read, film-only, re-visit-2015, spring-2015, adventure, published-1974, military-manoeuvres, african-continent

Read from January 01, 1976 to March 26, 2015

There was a film made – who knew – and starring, wait for it, Christopher Walken and we all love him since Mousehunt and that fab Fatboy Slim ‘Weapon of Choice’ video.

Description: In a remote corner of Zangara, a small republic in Africa, lies Crystal Mountain. At certain times of the day the mountain emits a strange glow. Only Sir James Manson knows why. The mountain contains ten billion dollars worth of the world’s most valuable mineral, platinum.

Now the only question is, how to get hold of it. Sir James knows how. Invade the country with a band of savage, cold-blooded mercenaries. Topple the government and set up a puppet dictatorship. Unleash the dogs of war!…

Her Enemy by Leena Lehtolainen

bookshelves: under-500-ratings, published-1994, series, finland, translation, spring-2015, tbr-busting-2015

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Hunger For Knowledge
Read from October 23, 2014 to March 26, 2015
Description: After solving her first murder and leaving the Helsinki Police Department behind, Maria Kallio thought that a move to the neighboring city of Espoo would signal a fresh start—a chance to not only put her new law degree to use, but to nurture her budding romance with Antti Sarkela. But when she discovers the strangled body of a new acquaintance, old habits die hard for the redheaded sleuth—especially since the accused is not only the victim’s fiancé, but a member of Antti’s family.

Though she works as a legal counselor, Kallio soon finds herself unofficially investigating the murder, now labeled a sex crime. While Antti’s relative may have some peculiar sexual tendencies, Kallio doubts that the man she’s agreed to defend is capable of the crime. To crack the case, Kallio will have to pull back the curtain on Espoo high society…and uncover a secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden.


  For Mari

Opening quote:

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

– Sylvia Plath

Opening: The cherry trees were the first thing I saw when I woke up. The spring had been warm, and now the trees were blossoming with fluffy, fragrant bunches of flowers. Antti always wanted to sleep with the curtains open so we could see the curled branches against the night sky. It made it hard for me to sleep, but I’d gradually gotten used to it.

3* My First Murder
3* Her Enemy

The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles

bookshelves: brazil, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, women, period-piece, adventure, published-2008, spring-2015, tbr-busting-2015, weapon-evolution, historical-fiction

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Wanda and Lee
Read from March 15, 2013 to March 25, 2015
Description: As seamstresses, the young sisters EmIlia and Luzia dos Santos know how to cut, mend, and conceal–useful skills in the lawless backcountry of Brazil, where ruthless land barons feud with bands of outlaw “cangaceiros,” trapping innocent residents in the crossfire. EmIlia, a naive romantic, dreams of falling in love with a gentleman and escaping to a big city. Quick-tempered Luzia also longs for escape, finding it in her craft and secret prayers to the saints she believes once saved her life. But when Luzia is abducted by “cangaceiros” led by the infamous Hawk and EmIlia stumbles into a marriage with the son of a wealthy and politically powerful doctor, the sisters’ quiet lives diverge in ways they never would have imagined.


To the women - living and dead -
of my family, all of them
ladies and guerreiras.
And to James, who always believed.

Northeast Brazil (2) During the Old Republic.

Opening: Recife, Brazil, January 14, 1935: Emily awoke alone. She lay in the massive antique that had once been her mother-in-law’s bridal bed, and was now her own.

Big fat juicy fiction where the reader feels the proximity and the time period.

Devil’s Crown: A History of Henry II and His Sons by Richard Barber

Description: The story of Henry II’s turbulent relationship with Thomas a Beckett, Queen Eleanor, and his sons Richard and John. A tie-in with the BBC2 mini-series, the book includes extensive genealogical charts and an Index of Main Characters.
— Detailed but fast-moving narrative of some of the best-known figures in English medieval history.
— Complete coverage of the Crusades and other major military campaigns of the period.
— Intrigues of the royal family placed in the context of religious and political conflicts of the time.…

Brian Cox is just superb as Henry II, and we lose him at the end of episode five. The action is a gallop through – it has to be, there were so many events that need to be relayed.

Although not as fine a script as A Lion in Winter, there are pithy one-liners galore here, and Jane Lapotaire was so effective as Eleanor that it was tough holding back the tears when the Queen died. Fully recommended.

Brian Cox as Henry II of England
Michael Byrne as Richard I of England
John Duttine as John, King of England
Jane Lapotaire as Eleanor of Aquitaine
Christopher Gable as Philip II of France
Ralph Arliss as Geoffrey, Archbishop of York
Charles Kay as Louis VII of France
Jack Shepherd as Thomas Becket
Kevin McNally as Henry the Young King
Lynsey Baxter as Isabella of Angoulême
Freddie Jones as Bertran de Born
Peter Benson as Blondel de Nesle
Roy Boyd as Ranulf de Glanville
Lucy Gutteridge as Alys, Countess of the Vexin
Michael Hawkins as Richard de Luci
Ian Hogg as William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber
Ralph Michael as Hubert Walter
Patrick Troughton as William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke
Simon Gipps-Kent as Arthur I, Duke of Brittany
Bob Goody as Guide
Zoë Wanamaker as Berengaria of Navarre
Lorna Yabsley as Alys, Countess of the Vexin
Susannah Fellows as Rosamund de Clifford

Ep.1 – If All the World Were Mine
Ep.2 – The Earth Is Not Enough
Ep.3 – A Rose, a Thorn
Ep.4 – The Hungry Falcons
Ep.5 – Before the Dark
Ep.6 – Richard Yea and Nay
Ep.7 – Lion of Christendom
Ep.8 – When Cage-Birds Sing
Ep.9 – Bolt from the Blue
Ep.10 – In Sun’s Eclipse
Ep.11 – The Flowers Are Silent
Ep.12 – Tainted King
Ep.13 – To the Devil They Go

An Outcast of the Islands by Joseph Conrad

bookshelves: e-book, islands, gutenberg-project, group-read, published-1896, under-500-ratings, victorian, lit-richer, adventure, spring-2015, abandoned, next

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Wanda
Read from February 22 to March 24, 2015
The Yahoo group is reading this soon and I always enjoy their choices (view spoiler) so I read alongside. The ladies know that I am crap at bookclub reads so I shall fly in tandem – seperate but together.

Read here

Front Quote: Pues el delito mayor Del hombre es haber nacito – CALDERON


Opening: When he stepped off the straight and narrow path of his peculiar honesty, it was with an inward assertion of unflinching resolve to fall back again into the monotonous but safe stride of virtue as soon as his little excursion into the wayside quagmires had produced the desired effect. It was going to be a short episode—a sentence in brackets, so to speak—in the flowing tale of his life: a thing of no moment, to be done unwillingly, yet neatly, and to be quickly forgotten. He imagined that he could go on afterwards looking at the sunshine, enjoying the shade, breathing in the perfume of flowers in the small garden before his house. He fancied that nothing would be changed, that he would be able as heretofore to tyrannize good-humouredly over his half-caste wife, to notice with tender contempt his pale yellow child, to patronize loftily his dark-skinned brother-in-law, who loved pink neckties and wore patent-leather boots on his little feet, and was so humble before the white husband of the lucky sister.

I usually enjoy Conrad but it seems that he has shored up the story into culicues of obfuscation.

3* Heart of Darkness
3* The Secret Agent
4* Victory
1* An Outcast of the Islands
3* The Nigger of the Narcissus
3* Typhoon

John Gabriel Borkman by Henrik Ibsen

bookshelves: published-1896, radio-4, play-dramatisation, spring-2015, under-500-ratings, norway, filthy-lucre

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from March 05 to 23, 2015

Description: Henrik Ibsen’s rarely-performed but all-too-pertinent play about the dangerous pursuit of power. A new production from a version by David Eldridge.
Directed by Helen Perry
A BBC Cymru/Wales Production.

Part 1 of 2: David Threlfall stars as John Gabriel Borkman, a disgraced banker now destitute after a fraud scandal and imprisonment. Whilst trapped in his own home like a wolf in a cage, the living ghosts of his past wrestle to determine his future.

Part 2 of 2:David Threlfall stars as the disgraced banker finally being made to atone for his sins. Now reunited with his first love, will he be able to find real happiness? Or will the continued pursuit of his ambitions lead to his final destruction?

3* A Doll’s House
4* Hedda Gabler
3* The Wild Duck
4* Peer Gynt
3* The Master Builder
2* Brand
4* John Gabriel Borkman
3* The Vikings of Helgeland

The Hell of It: A Tor.Com Original by Peter Orullian…

Description: Some heroes don’t carry blades or go to war. Some heroes are fathers desperately trying not to fail their sons.

Opening: Russet hues lit the western horizon and caught in the surfaces of the quiet harbor. Soon the sun would set, making Malen Staned’s scrub-work more difficult. But he was nearly finished. Kneeling on the trawler deck, he scrubbed away fish blood with a stiff brush and scraped the tougher bits with a flat knife.

Berlin Poplars (Neshov Family #1) by Anne B. Ragde

bookshelves: translation, published-2004, paper-read, norway, spring-2015, tbr-busting-2015, one-penny-wonder, families, zoology, contemporary, glbt, incest-agameforallthefamily, nazi-related

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Tanja Berg
Read from June 02, 2014 to March 22, 2015

Description: Just before Christmas on a farm in Northern Norway, 80-year-old Anna Neshov, matriarch of a troubled family, is taken gravely ill. Her three sons have been quietly immersed in their work: one an undertaker, one a window-dresser, and the eldest running the family farm, but now they are forced to reunite for the first time in many years. Their personalities are as disparate as their careers, and tensions mount from the second they meet, climaxing over Christmas dinner when the matter of inheritance prompts the revelation of disturbing family secrets. Anne B. Ragde has created an engrossing dark comedy brought vividly to life through extraordinary characters. While perfectly in tune with their professions the Neshov sons as a family are little short of dysfunctional; nevertheless, the real theme of the novel is a sense of belonging. The farm itself defines this, with its power to draw people back to their roots, whether they like it or not.

Withdrawn from Leeds City Library. Paperback with poly-wally cover. Ooo – someone owed £1:20 in library fees.

Translated from the Norwegian by James Anderson.

Opening: ‘Come quickly,’ she whispered. ‘Do come quickly…’

I hope the next two are translated sooner rather than later as there are characters I would like to meet again – especially Erland and Crumb, where I imagine them like:

Behind the story lies another, darker sides of family life, and behind both lies yet another – Speer’s Nordstern.

German archival photo of Trondheim and the Trondheimsfjord, November 1942.

A recognition drawing of Tirpitz prepared by the US Navy

Spring Tide by Cilla Börjlind; Rolf Börjlind

Translated by Rod Bradbury

Description: The spring tides are the highest of the year in Nordkoster; the beach will be covered in particularly deep water tonight. Three men on the beach are digging a hole, covertly watched by a young boy. His intrigue turns to horror as he makes out the fourth figure of the woman for whom the hole is intended. Buried up to her neck in the sand, the high tide is rapidly approaching. Still screaming in terror, the victim takes her last breath as water fills her nose and mouth—in her stomach, she feels her baby kick. And her waters break. The abhorrent crime remains unsolved 24 years later; but gruesome violence is still prevalent. A gang has been killing homeless people in parks, filming their attacks, and broadcasting them on the internet. The police have their work cut out trying to keep abreast of the crime wave. Olivia Rönning hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps and join their ranks in the next few months as she completes her training; she has only one last hurdle to overcome over the summer break, a challenge from her professor to pick a cold case and solve it. Should be simple, she thinks. Little does she know the world she is getting involved in, the danger she faces, and the ugly truths she risks uncovering.

Opening: Late summer, 1987: In Hasslevikarna, the coves on the island of Nordkoster on the west coast of Sweden, up near the border with Norway, the difference between high tide and low tide is usually between five and ten centimetres, except when there is a spring tide.

I hope this is not going to be too scary as this is just a spit up the coast from me!

We open up with a rant on a beach: Pärt, Benseman, one-eyed Vera, Jelle and Muriel. They were interrupted by two hardmen in hoodies…

My, what a choppy read this was, it was easy to spot that the authors are screenwriters – choppy as the waves of a spring tide on the beaches of Hasslevikarna. A cinematic novel, and a corking one at that, bring on the next.

Situation Sthlm