My friend Hugh invited me to his latest blog post, taking us back to 1988 with his diary excerpts and myself taking him another 8 years back to 1980 and one of my all time favourite songs… and a small book plug while I’m there
This is a rather thoughtful and entertaining travel diary with the common thread of football in the stories. The author, a fellow Welsh man, is a clear fanatic of the sport (soccer) and finds a football player, a football conversation or a game (either as viewer or player) almost everywhere in the world.
From North Korea to Brazil and Europe you’ll find him in a wide range of situations, from scary to funny, and you’ll read amazing reflections on sport, his family and the countries he has visited. From border patrol in Azerbijan, rigid tour guides in North Korea and encounters in Palestine – there is a lot non-football topics covered.
I listened to the author at a literature festival in Wales and was impressed with his ideas and views and had to get the book.
Time passed very fast while reading this book. I feel I learned about the countries and cultures visited and I hugely enjoyed the humorous parts, too. Beautiful writing and a narrative voice you’ll love following.
Tim Hartley thinks his next best experience is around the corner, so he just keeps on travelling. He was a journalist with the BBC and a civil servant. He has also worked as a consultant in Europe, Central Asia and Africa. Hartley has an unhealthy interest in post-communist regimes and football. He has written about his obsession for the BBC’s From our Own Correspondent programme and for a number of newspapers and magazines. Hartley lives in Cardiff with his son Chester, who shares his interests, and his wife Helen, who humours the both. His mother-in-law in Port Talbot once said to him, “How many trips of a lifetime can you have, boy?”
My favourite surprise when going through my wordpress reader: a review of one of my books. Thank you so much Robbie for the five stars. So glad you enjoyed this book, which is very close to my heart.
What Amazon says
It’s World War II and Ludwika Gierz, a young Polish woman, is forced to leave her family and go to Nazi Germany to work for an SS officer. There, she must walk a tightrope, learning to live as a second-class citizen in a world where one wrong word could spell disaster and every day could be her last. Based on real events, this is a story of hope amid despair, of love amid loss . . . ultimately, it’s one woman’s story of survival.
“This is the best kind of fiction—it’s based on the real life. Ludwika’s story highlights the magnitude of human suffering caused by WWII, transcending multiple generations and many nations.
WWII left no one unscarred, and Ludwika’s life illustrates this tragic fact. But she also reminds us how bright the human spirit can shine when darkness falls in that unrelenting way it…
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A Discovering Diamonds review of A Second Chance by Dodie Hamilton
AMAZON UK £3.59
AMAZON US $5.02
AMAZON CA $4.81
Family drama / mystery
‘When Adelia, beautiful GI Bride, crosses an Ocean to be with a USAF pilot she takes with her a dark secret. Locked in her head is the identity of the father of her daughter, a US Major. When she reaches America, her fiancé, Bobby, isn’t there to meet her. He sent another man, the local undertaker, Gabriel Templar, in his place. Home in Virginia is not as promised. It’s a dirty place. It has a gated tower where a man hides from the light. It is crammed with secrets of its own. Adelia cannot remember her first love. Like the man in the tower, the memory of his face, how he used to look, is locked away. Amnesia holds the key to many doors. Adelia and her little daughter, Sophie, live in constant danger. Until one door is unlocked, and Lazarus returns from the dead, a lonely man with the name of an Archangel is all that stands between Adelia and fear.’
A Second Chance is a good story: A British war bride coming to live with an American soldier in 1942, despite hardly knowing him. She has her own secrets, an illegitimate child and on her arrival she finds a few surprises and mysteries, an absent husband and a hostile mother-in-law. The plot and the intrigue around the mystery kept me going throughout.
I felt that the overall presentation of the era and the characters was authentic and gives a great impression of war-time Virginia.
This is an enjoyable and compelling read that got me invested in the characters and, although being only one isolated such story, it gave me some fascinating insights into the psychology and reality of war brides.
© Christoph Fischer
I wrote the following Guest Spot: A Thank You to Richard Zimler in
Last week I had the great pleasure of meeting the man himself and walk away from Lisbon with signed copies of his work.
I came across Richard Zimler’s The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon during an almost unrelated internet search. Fascinated by the subject of the Kabbala and the era of Lisbon of 1506 I devoured the book and soon started to read all of his other novels.
I had developed a keen interest in historical and Jewish fiction and was delighted to have found a writer whose work covered such a wide range of it, not just the holocaust years. What impressed me most was that Zimler never forgets others. While some writers only focus on the fate that befell the Jews, he calls out discrimination and hardships suffered by other minorities, such as Native Indians, gays, misfits and the disabled, to name but a few.
Zimler is a writer with a big heart and a lot of compassion for others, whose often poetic prose and empathetic depiction of characters carved him deep into my list of favourite authors. Traditionally published and fairly successful Zimler, for now, still remains somewhat under the radar, but his books have had a deep impact on my own writing.
The Seventh Gate is one of my favourite books by Zimler. Set during Hitler’s rise to power in Berlin and the Nazi war against the disabled, The Seventh Gate brings together Sophie Riedesel, a witty, artistic and sexually adventurous fourteen-year-old, with an underground group of Jewish activists and ex-circus misfits led by Isaac Zarco. When a series of forced sterilisations, perplexing murders and deportations to concentration camps decimates the group, Sophie, now reaching adulthood, must fight with all her ingenuity to save all that she loves about Germany – at any cost.
Given his successful handling of several individual fates at the hand of the Nazis I found the courage to publish my own The Luck of the Weissensteiners, which also tells more than one story about the holocaust, in my case about characters in Slovakia. Zimler had done it so well, maybe people would bear with me and be ready to read about Jewish and non-Jewish victims of Hitler at the same time.
I still follow Richard’s novels and regard him as one of writers that influenced me the most.
Richard Zimler was born in 1956. After earning a bachelor’s degree in comparative religion from Duke University (1977) and a master’s degree in journalism from Stanford University (1982), he worked for eight years as a journalist, mainly in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1990, he moved to Porto, Portugal, where he taught journalism for sixteen years, first at the College of Journalism and later at the University of Porto.
Richard has published ten novels over the last eighteen years. In chronological order, they are: The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon,Unholy Ghosts, The Angelic Darkness, Hunting Midnight, Guardian of the Dawn, The Search for Sana, The Seventh Gate. The Warsaw Anagrams, Strawberry Fields Forever (in Portugal and Brazil only) and The Night Watchman. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists in twelve different countries, including the USA, Great Britain, Portugal, Italy, Brazil and Australia.
Richard has won numerous prizes for his work, including the Marquis de Ouro prize in 2010 – as Book of the Year in Portugal – for The Warsaw Anagrams. This prize is voted on by high school teachers and students. He also won the 2009 Alberto Benveniste prize in fiction for Guardian of the Dawn (for best Jewish-themed novel published in France), and the 1998 Herodotus Award, for The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon (Best First Historical Novel). Additionally, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon was picked as 1998 Book of the Year by three British critics. Five of his novels, including his most recent – The Night Watchman – have been nominated for the International IMPAC Literary Award, the richest prize in the English-speaking world. The other novels nominated are: Hunting Midnight, The Search for Sana, The Warsaw Anagrams and The Seventh Gate. Richard was also granted a 1994 U.S. National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Fiction.
The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Hunting Midnight, Guardian of the Dawn and The Seventh Gate form the “Sephardic Cycle,” a group of inter-connected – but fully independent – novels about different branches and generations of a Portuguese Jewish family.
A short film he wrote and acted in – The Slow Mirror – was awarded the Best Drama award at the 2010 New York Downtown Short Film Festival.
When he isn’t writing or publicizing his books, Richard enjoys gardening at his weekend house in the north of Portugal. He is married to Alexandre Quintanilha.
for Richard Zimler
Another great story on David’s excellent blog. Still so many stories to tell about WW2 and the Holocaust. Thanks David!
The great events of our past – the wars and the genocides – are just a series of small steps strung together… steps that when looked back upon appear to be a seamless, momentous journey.
And because of that, we tend to overlook many of those very people who created the events that make history so extraordinary.
The name Mary Elmes is not one that conjures up any special memory to most people, and that’s probably just the way the Corkwoman would have wanted it.
Look at her photo and words like ‘refined’, delicate’ and ladylike’ spring to mind. Mary Elmes was all those things and more besides. She was also fearless, iron-willed and relentless in her cause – to bring help and succour to frightened, dispossessed people in fear for their lives. Were it not for Mary, hundreds of children would have died at the hands of the Nazis…
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Whiskey and Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith
Review by Claire Fullerton, originally posted on her blog here Whiskey and Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith
Claire is an accomplished author with outstanding taste. I like reading her reviews and this book really looks amazing, so I’ve ‘stolen’/ re-blogged this review:
The title Whiskey and Ribbons is derived from a toast delivered by Eamon, one of three narrators in this psychological treatment of love spun unexpectedly and repercussively awry. “Women, you are sleek and gorgeous. You hold us together, you’re the ribbons,” Eamon says, yet we hear this speech as his brother, Dalton’s, memory, for the reader learns at the start that the toast maker is dead. Eamon and Dalton have grown up together as brothers, yet the ties that bind are unusual and not honestly revealed for what they are until well into the story. Author Leesa Cross-Smith holds the reader captive in language so creative and au currant that we identify with both well-drawn characters and readily understand why Eamon’s wife, Evangeline, weighs issues of loyalty between the two charismatic young men, though one is alive and the other is dead. That Evangeline is a new mother, having given birth to Eamon’s son after his death as an officer in the line of duty is the dilemma, for who is she to turn to in her prostrate grief but a brother-in-law who equally grieves? Three vantage points are entwined to tell this one story of familial connections, in a seamlessly crafted, roiling momentum that will have you thinking they each have a justifiable point. All praise this spell-binding debut author. Leesa Cross-Smith has penned an uncommon novel in a voice you won’t easily forget.
So we’re back in Cambridge and its old College. Narrator Deputy Head Porter leads us drily and with breakfast sausages gallore through the investigation of dead bodies found on campus grounds. This is complicated by college rivalry, hierarchy, excentric behaviour and procedural mayhem.
While the mysterious nature of their deaths inspires the Dean in most bizarre ways – and what would you expect from him other than bizarre I ask – there are different theories and strands of the investigation.
All of this is interspersed with excellent observational humour, hilarious situational comedy and brilliant characters, making this hugely enjoyable and entertaining. My partner worked in Academia and absolutely adores this series. I get a great kick out of it just having been a benefactor of Academia as it were, enjoying the many truths about campus life that ring true to me.
The writing and language used are inventive, original and witty to a point that Brazier might as well write about the local telephone directory and I’d enjoy it. In this case, the mystery kept me on my toes as well as the many shenanigans and tribulations that go on in the background. Many grins and smirks and lols.
The book found me at a very busy time but I managed to find the time to read it, which should tell you something: Highly recommended.
Sometimes the opposite of right isn’t wrong. It’s left.
Tragedy strikes once more at Old College… The Porters’ Lodge is down to its last tea bag and no one has seen a biscuit for over a week. Almost as troubling are the two dead bodies at the bottom of the College gardens and a woman has gone missing. The Dean is convinced that occult machinations are to blame, Deputy Head Porter suspects something closer to home.
The formidable DCI Thompson refuses to be sidelined and a rather unpleasant Professor gets his comeuppance.
As the body count rises, Head Porter tries to live a secret double life and The Dean believes his job is under threat from the Russian Secret Service.
Deputy Head Porter finds herself with her hands full keeping Old College running smoothly as well as defending herself against the sinister intentions of the new Bursar.
This is the third instalment of the world-renowned PorterGirl series set in the ancient and esoteric Old College. Author Lucy Brazier opens the lid on a world which has sinister overtones in this cozy, BritLit mystery.
The Amazon links…