Without Feathers by Woody Allen

Description: Here they are–some of the funniest tales and ruminations ever put into print, by one of the great comic minds of our time. From THE WHORE OF MENSA, to GOD (A Play), to NO KADDISH FOR WEINSTEIN, old and new Woody Allen fans will laugh themselves hysterical over these sparkling gems.

Read by His Nibs. 2 hours 13mins.

Glad this was short; probably would have found this funnier at a younger age.

3* Without Feathers
TR Side Effects
TR Mere Anarchy
TR Interview
TR Getting Even

Gracie by Eric Pringle

bookshelves: published-2012, music, spring-2015, biography, play-dramatisation, radio-4x

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read on April 27, 2015


1/2 Wish Me Luck: From Rochdale to renown, Gracie Fields’ rise to fame was not without its traumas. Stars Tracy Wiles and Paul Nicholas.

2/2 As You Wave Me Goodbye: Will Gracie Fields wed her ‘Svengali’? And will her marriage be as successful as her career?

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz

Description: The almost unbelievable story of Denis Avey, now 92, began in 1944 when he was captured and sent to a POW work camp. He was put to work every day in a German factory, where he labored alongside Jewish prisoners from a nearby camp called Auschwitz. The stories they told him were horrifying. Eventually Avey’s curiosity, kind-heartedness, derring-do, and perhaps foolhardiness drove him to suggest–and remarkably manage–switching places with two of the Jewish prisoners in order to spend a couple of harrowing days and nights inside. Miraculously, he lived to tell about it.

Narrated by James Langton

The Face Of Deception by Iris Johansen

Description: An unidentified skull…

A trail of terrifying secrets…

And a woman whose talented hands could reveal the shocking truth…

As a forensic sculptor, Eve Duncan helps identify the dead from their skulls. Her own daughter murdered and her body never found, the job is Eve’s way of coming to terms with her personal nightmare. But more terror lies ahead when she accepts work from billionaire John Logan.

Beneath her gifted hands a face emerges from the skull he has given her to reconstruct—a face no one was ever meant to see. Now Eve is trapped in a frightening web of murder and deceit. Powerful enemies are determined to cover up the truth, and they will make certain that truth goes to the grave…even if Eve gets buried with it.

Not my cup of tea.

A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

bookshelves: spring-2015, published-2011

Read from April 12 to 26, 2015

Description: In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance — beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever.

Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone — a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.

Series five, episode one: The Wars To Come: Cersei and Jaime adjust to a world without Tywin. Varys reveals a conspiracy to Tyrion. Daenerys faces a new threat to her rule. Jon is caught between two kings.

To be honest, I am done with this series: I have had elegant sufficiency. It was quite the ride when I was immersed.

Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy

bookshelves: spring-2015, published-2015, radio-4, books-about-books-and-book-shops, london, filthy-lucre, britain-england

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 09 to 25, 2015


Description: When the enigmatic Russian billionaire Roman Gorsky enters a quiet Chelsea Mews bookshop, Nick – himself an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia – has no idea of the impact this man will have on his work and private life. He only knows that he has been handed the best commission of his life – to create a private library of unparalleled scope and almost priceless worth.

But what lies behind Gorsky’s desire to create this masterpiece, in a land far from his birth, as he endeavours to put down roots in this new city he calls home?

1: A fabulously wealthy Russian visits a struggling Chelsea bookshop with a proposal.

2: Natalia and Tom Summerscale are a golden couple who live an opulent life in Chelsea. When Nick is called upon to deliver an art book for Natalia to their home, The Laurels, he enters a world where everything appears to be perfect.

3: Nick’s rented home abuts an enormous construction site for a ‘private palace’ in Chelsea. The owner of this massive undertaking and edifice is his employer, the elusive Roman Gorsky.

After his visit to The Laurels, Nick bumps into Tom Summerscale and they have lunch together. Tom invites Nick to visit his accountant with him.

4: The parallels with The Great Gatsby begin to emerge. Roman Gorsky has asked Nick to furnish the library of his mansion under construction with books of untold value and priceless editions of Russian classics. He also wants a section of art books which will impress a connoisseur.

The bookseller of modest means finds himself drawn into a world of endless wealth. He also begins to spend time with the voracious former Bulgarian gymnast, Gery.

5: Nick Kimović is rewarded for his efforts in the antiquarian book auctions with a holiday of unsurpassed luxury on Gorsky’s private island. The other guests are an eclectic array of Russian gangsters and English financiers.

On his return he meets Gery, who has something to tell him.

6: As Nick gets drawn in to the world of the Russian community in London he begins to learn that its richest and most elusive member, Gorsky, is driven by one thing alone – his passion for Natalia Summerscale.

But although Gorsky met Natalia when she was not much more than a child in Russia, she is now married to a wealthy Englishman. A fact that Gorsky is determined to overlook.

7: Natalia and Tom Summerscale are a golden couple who live an opulent life in Chelsea.

When Nick is called upon to deliver an art book for Natalia to their home, The Laurels, he enters a world where everything appears to be perfect. But he soon discovers that Natalia is the woman for whom Gorsky is building his lavish palace, opposite The Laurels, with every intention that she should leave her husband and renew her ten year old promise to him.

Tom Summerscale is growing increasingly jealous, and Natalia seems to be waiting before she makes her move.

8: On a sweltering May afternoon, Nick and Gorsky are invited to join the Summerscales, and Gery, at their rooftop pool. The shock of discovering the physical resemblance – identically misshapen little toes between Gorsky and Natalia Summerscale’s ten year old daughter Daisy leaves Nick stunned.

Tom Summerscale, already embroiled in an affair himself, is clearly furious. Finally cards are placed on the table in a bar in Notting Hill. But the drama has only just begun to come to a head.

9: With the discovery of Janice Allaoui’s body in his Covent Garden flat, Tom Summerscale is arrested. Nick remains convinced of his innocence, as does Natalia who feels she needs to stand by her husband.

Gorsky has moved into his new house but is left waiting and wondering if Natalia and his daughter will ever join him there.

10: Our narrator, Nick, looks back on the events of that summer in London and recalls the aftermath of Gorsky’s murder, and how the person who killed him was eventually caught.

□ □ □ □ □ □ □

Nicholas Kimović, the fab narator, refers to Roman Gorsky as The Great Gorsky, and you would be right to make the mental connection to The Great Gatsby. Goldsworthy offers up this contemporary re-imagining and it is palatable yet ultimately forgettable. 2.5*

The current state of oligarchs in the London property market

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee


Description: Set in post-apartheid South Africa, J. M. Coetzee’s searing novel tells the story of David Lurie, a twice divorced, 52-year-old professor of communications and Romantic Poetry at Cape Technical University. Lurie believes he has created a comfortable, if somewhat passionless, life for himself. He lives within his financial and emotional means. Though his position at the university has been reduced, he teaches his classes dutifully; and while age has diminished his attractiveness, weekly visits to a prostitute satisfy his sexual needs. He considers himself happy. But when Lurie seduces one of his students, he sets in motion a chain of events that will shatter his complacency and leave him utterly disgraced.

Opening: FOR A MAN of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well. On Thursday afternoons he drives to Green Point. Punctually at two p.m. he presses the buzzer at the entrance to Windsor Mansions, speaks his name, and enters. Waiting for him at the door of No. 113 is Soraya. He goes straight through to the bedroom, which is pleasant-smelling and softly lit, and undresses. Soraya emerges from the bathroom, drops her robe, slides into bed beside him. ‘Have you missed me?’ she asks. ‘I miss you all the time,’ he replies. He strokes her honey-brown body, unmarked by the sun; he stretches her out, kisses her breasts; they make love.

Grown-up lit, literature for grown ups. Just superb, and a smidgeon short of amazing. Now for the film…

3* Summertime
1* Foe
4* Waiting for the Barbarians
4* Disgrace

Day by Elie Wiesel

Description: The publication of Day restores Elie Wiesel’s original title to the novel initially published in English as The Accident and clearly establishes it as the powerful conclusion to the author’s classic trilogy of Holocaust literature, which includes his memoir Night and novel Dawn. “In Night it is the ‘I’ who speaks,” writes Wiesel. “In the other two, it is the ‘I’ who listens and questions.”

In its opening paragraphs, a successful journalist and Holocaust survivor steps off a New York City curb and into the path of an oncoming taxi. Consequently, most of Wiesel’s masterful portrayal of one man’s exploration of the historical tragedy that befell him, his family, and his people transpires in the thoughts, daydreams, and memories of the novel’s narrator. Torn between choosing life or death, Day again and again returns to the guiding questions that inform Wiesel’s trilogy: the meaning and worth of surviving the annihilation of a race, the effects of the Holocaust upon the modern character of the Jewish people, and the loss of one’s religious faith in the face of mass murder and human extermination

Read by George Guidall

Although this is a novel, it does draw heavily on real events in Wiesel’s life.

UR Night (The Night Trilogy, #1) *
WL Dawn (The Night Trilogy, #2)
2* Day (The Night Trilogy, #3)
TR A Mad Desire to Dance

* Un-rated because it was such a gruelling account

The Blast of War by Michael Symmons Roberts

bookshelves: spring-2015, radio-4, war, published-2015, afghanistan, play-dramatisation, time-slip, poetry, atonement, lifestyles-deathstyles, metaphor-parable

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 23 to 24, 2015


Description: A new drama serial by Michael Symmons Roberts. A British soldier fighting in Afghanistan is sent on a journey of atonement after a comrade is killed in one of the last military actions of 2015. With Sam Troughton as Sam, Hattie Morahan as Bea, Bryan Dick as Eddie and Jordan Bernarde as Evan.
Music by Jon Nicholls.
Director: Tim Dee.

1. Helmand
2. Gallipoli
3. Waterloo
4. Agincourt
5. Home

This is so very clever, a modern day version of ‘Inferno’, with Beatrice as guide instead of Virgil, and written in poetic stanzas. Like I say, very clever, and the bullet-time test is amazing in conception. My choice of music: Done with Bonaparte – Mark Knopfler

4* Crimes of Mancunia
2* The Sleeper
2.5* Edgelands
3* The Blast of War

My Dear Bessie: A Love Story in Letters by Chris Barker

bookshelves: spring-2015, epistolatory-diary-blog, nonfiction, published-2015, wwii, under-20

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 23 to 24, 2015


Description: A love story in letters played out against the backdrop of the Second World War between Chris Barker, a solider in North Africa, and Bessie Moore, a Morse code interpreter at the Foreign Office in London.

A small blue box opened in 2008 revealed a wartime world of love, longing and frustration. On September 5th 1943, Chris Barker, a Signalman stationed near Tobruk decided to write to a former work colleague, Bessie Moore, back in London. The unexpected warmth of Bessie’s reply changed their lives forever.

Chris and Bessie’s love letters first appeared in Simon Garfield’s book To The Letter, they have toured literary festivals as part of Letters Live before getting their own book, My Dear Bessie, published this year on Valentine’s Day.

Hells bells, I don’t usually like romance yet this was so touching because these letters are real.