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British Books Challenge 2017 – The Round Up

Published January 3, 2018 by bibliobeth

BBC pointed shaded

2017 was another fantastic year of British books. I really love participating in this challenge and always surprise myself with the amount I manage to read. Here’s what I read this year:

Checkmate (Noughts & Crosses #3) – Malorie Blackman

The Dry – Jane Harper

 The Ballroom – Anna Hope

The Muse – Jessie Burton

A Boy Made Of Blocks – Keith Stuart

Monsters Of Men (Chaos Walking #3) – Patrick Ness

Burned And Broken – Mark Hardie

Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller

Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? – Paula Daly

The Girl Who Walked On Air – Emma Carroll

The Trouble With Goats And Sheep – Joanna Cannon

The Wishing Tree – Lucy Wood

The Cuckoo Sister – Vivian Alcock

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time – Mark Haddon

Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon

How To Be A Good Wife – Emma Chapman

Blood Red, Snow White – Marcus Sedgwick

Faithful Lovers – Margaret Drabble

Stasi Child (Karin Müller #1) – David Young

A Place Called Winter – Patrick Gale

Double Room – Ramsey Campbell

Etta And Otto And Russell And James – Emma Hooper

Tastes Like Fear (Marnie Rome #3) – Sarah Hilary

The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb – Arthur Conan Doyle

In Darkling Wood – Emma Carroll

Lie With Me – Sabine Durrant

The Girl In The Red Coat – Kate Hamer

That Girl From Nowhere – Dorothy Koomson

Bamboo Heart – Ann Bennett

Bamboo Island – Ann Bennett

 Bamboo Road – Ann Bennett

Awful Auntie – David Walliams

Shadow Magic – Joshua Khan

Dream Magic – Joshua Khan

The Stranger In My Home – Adele Parks

Fleeing Complexity – Jon McGregor

Six Tudor Queens – Katherine Of Aragon: The True Queen

A Kiss In The Dark – Cat Clarke

Double Cross – Malorie Blackman

Close To Me – Amanda Reynolds

The Birds – Daphne du Maurier

He Said/She Said – Erin Kelly

Glow – Ned Beauman

Gone Without A Trace – Mary Torjussen

 The Drowned Village – Kate Mosse

This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell

Jane Austen At Home: A Biography – Lucy Worsley

Alice Through The Plastic Sheet – Robert Shearman

I See You – Clare Mackintosh

Black Water – Louise Doughty

Anne Boleyn: A Kings Obsession (Six Tudor Queens #2) – Alison Weir

The Owl At The Window – Carl Gorham

Fruits – Steve Mosby

The Prime Minister’s Brain – Gillian Cross

Quieter Than Killing (DI Marnie Rome #4) – Sarah Hilary

The Book Of Souls (Inspector McLean #2) – James Oswald

The Shut Eye – Belinda Bauer

Living The Dream – Lauren Berry

Leopard At The Door – Jennifer McVeigh

Together – Julie Cohen

Conclave – Robert Harris

An Anxious Man – James Lasdun

Ask No Questions – Lisa Hartley

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry

Miss You – Kate Eberlen

Broken Branches – M. Jonathan Lee

Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell

Necropolis – Guy Portman

Blue Moon – Lucy Wood

The End We Start From – Megan Hunter

Master – Angela Carter

Possum – Matthew Holness

This Beautiful Life – Katie Marsh

The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor – Arthur Conan Doyle

The Snow Sister – Emma Carroll

Wages Of Sin – Kaite Welsh

Last Seen Alive – Claire Douglas

The White Doe – Rosy Thornton

Beyond Black – Hilary Mantel

How To Be Both – Ali Smith

Animal: The Autobiography Of A Female Body – Sara Pascoe

The Way Back To Us – Kay Langdale

Cartes Postales From Greece – Victoria Hislop

Did You See Melody? – Sophie Hannah

Vessel – Jon McGregor

Madness Is Better Than Defeat – Ned Beauman

Fortunately, The Milk – Neil Gaiman

Monte Verita – Daphne du Maurier

Good Me Bad Me – Ali Land

The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley

The Last Letter From Your Lover – Jojo Moyes

The Prisoner Of Ice And Snow – Ruth Lauren

The House On The Hill – Kate Mosse

The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters

The Farm – Tom Rob Smith

Girl 4 – (January David #1) – Will Carver

The Two (January David #2) – Will Carver

The Immortals – S.E. Lister

Fire Lines – Cara Thurlbourn

Saffy’s Angel – Hilary McKay

Western Fringes – Amer Anwar

The King’s Curse – Philippa Gregory

The Next Together (The Next Together #1) – Lauren James

A Place For Violence – Kevin Wignall

Black Hearts In Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles #2) – Joan Aiken

The House – Simon Lelic

Is Monogamy Dead? – Rosie Wilby

A Dangerous Crossing – Rachel Rhys

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead – Charlie Laidlaw

Hush Little Baby – Joanna Barnard

The Art Of Hiding – Amanda Prowse

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky – Lesley Nneka Arimah

Under A Pole Star – Stef Penney

Wisht – Lucy Wood

Witch Child – Celia Rees

Dead Set – Will Carver

The Strangler Vine – M.J. Carter

The Hangman’s Song – James Oswald

Seeing Double – Sara Maitland

Dreamwalker (The Ballad Of Sir Benfro #1) – James Oswald

Strange Star – Emma Carroll

High House – Rosy Thornton

Finding Jennifer Jones (Jennifer Jones #2) – Anne Cassidy

So if my calculations are correct, that makes 123 British books/short stories read this year which has smashed last year’s record of 72 which I’m very pleased about. Highlights of this year have to be The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry which just captivated me, A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale which completely stole my heart and I still think about today and A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys, a fantastic surprise that I didn’t anticipate enjoying as much as I did. I’ve also enjoyed catching up on Emma Carroll’s back catalogue (one of my targets for the year) and read some beautiful short stories, including one very recently by Rosy Thornton. I’m very excited for some more British books in 2018 – bring it on!

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Guildford Library Talk – David Young, author of Stasi Child and Stasi Wolf, the first two books in the Karin Müller series

Published March 7, 2017 by bibliobeth

14358496

AUTHOR INFORMATION

David Young was born near Hull and – after dropping out of a Bristol University science degree – studied Humanities at Bristol Polytechnic specialising in Modern History. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism with provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and the BBC’s international newsrooms where he led news teams for the World Service radio and World TV.

David was a student on the inaugural Crime Thriller MA at City University – winning the course prize in 2014 for his debut novel Stasi Child – and now writes full-time in his garden shed. In his spare time, he’s a keen supporter of Hull City AFC.

Stasi Child is the first of three books in the Oberleutnant Karin Müller series – set in 1970s communist East Germany – bought by the UK arm of Swedish publisher Bonnier by former Quercus CEO Mark Smith. It reached the top 5 bestsellers on Amazon Kindle, was number one bestseller in Amazon’s Historical Fiction chart, and has been optioned for TV by Euston Films (Minder, The Sweeney etc). Translation rights have so far been sold to France.

DAVID YOUNG TALK AT GUILDFORD LIBRARY

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I was lucky enough to be invited along to an author talk by David Young, an exciting new author who is writing a series of books based in Germany around the time when the Berlin Wall separated Germany into two sides, East and West, communist and capitalist. Faye, who has a blog at A DayDreamer’s Thoughts was responsible for organising the event and she did an absolutely fantastic job! I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed myself so much at an author talk.

David Young was previously a news editor for the BBC and to let off steam from time to time, he played in a band that toured Germany about eight years ago. One of the places that they played, he actually told us was his inspiration for the police headquarters in his novel. It is obvious that David has done meticulous research for his series, despite speaking very little German. He visited Germany and met the people who were detectives in East Germany at that time period and he read many German memoirs (with the help of Google translate!) to try and get a feel for the language and the situation.

David chose to present his talk in a very different way, using a projector with some photographs of Germany taken whilst he was doing his research for the books and some old photographs that illustrated some real life stories of people from that murky period of Germany’s past that inspired and shaped his writing. Unfortunately, some of those photographs are copyright protected so I cannot share them but they were very moving and I loved listening to him talk about the research he has carried out and the little gold nuggets of information that he uncovered along the way.

From the very first picture which was the bleak view from one of the viewing platforms close to the Berlin Wall to a snow-filled cemetery closely afterwards that inspired David to write the horrific scene where a body is discovered in his first book, Stasi Child, the pictures really brought to life the words that David writes in the novel. I had finished Stasi Child earlier that week and sometimes, it’s easy to forget that although the novel is historical fiction, his story is based on real life events. There was division, cruelty, poverty, people desperately trying to escape over the Wall to a “better” life in West Germany, a shady secret police force and reform schools for young people to re-educate them in the “socialist way” that completely beggars belief in today’s free society.

I certainly learnt a lot from David’s talk. One of the most touching moments was when he showed a black and white photograph of a teenage boy who was pictured behaving oddly with a ladder over his back trying to escape to the West. It was in the German papers the next day that he survived thirty-five rounds of gunfire and managed to scale the Wall into the West and escape. Unfortunately he was returned to the East the next day but I couldn’t believe the bravery of the boy and the situation he must have found himself in.

Of course there was such a dark side to East Germany. This was mostly perpetrated by the Stasi special police force who had an unbelievable amount of power and often used psychological methods to unnerve and undermine their victims, including sneaking into their houses and moving things around to deliberately mess with their minds. There was also a lot of paranoia going round (understandably!) and a well known East German leader actually did build a secret escape tunnel to the West just in case his people were to turn against him, similar to an event mentioned in Stasi Child. After the Berlin Wall finally came down, there was still obviously a lot of tension and a recent newspaper report suggested that Ikea, Siemens and Aldi all profited from slave labour during the period of communist East Germany.

David finished the talk by giving us a reading from his latest novel in the series Stasi Wolf and giving us a sneak preview of what it’s going to be about. Here’s the blurb from GoodReads:

How do you solve a murder when you can’t ask any questions? The gripping new thriller from the bestselling author of Stasi Child.

East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.

But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image.

Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . . .

Actually cannot wait to read this one! David was also kind enough to answer questions from the audience and I asked him how long he envisions this series being. He said that he was hoping to do a book for every year that the Berlin Wall was standing (which he estimates is about fifteen years) which sounds absolutely fantastic and I’ll definitely be investing in the series. They should all involve recurring characters, especially Oberleutnant Karin Müller, but he stated that each book would be a separate case, could be read as a stand alone and that there were so many relevant stories that he could tell so he had no worry of running out of things to say which was reassuring and exciting to hear.

Finally it was time for two treats. First of all, David took us down to see his German police car from that period, blue lights and all. Loved the bit of promotion along the side David!

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On returning to the library, we then participated in a hugely fun taste test with two different chocolate spreads. One was manufactured in East Germany, one in West Germany but they were simply labelled A and B and the goal was to pick which one was which.

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I was happy (but a bit surprised) that I picked the right one and he told us a very interesting fact that the “communist” chocolate spread might taste a bit nuttier as hazelnuts were very easy to come by for East Germany in those days – fascinating! Finally, some staff from Waterstones were available at the library so you could buy either Stasi Child or Stasi Wolf and I made sure to pick myself up a copy of the latter which he was kind enough to sign.

I just want to thank Guildford Library, Faye and David Young so much for a fantastic, informative talk that I thoroughly enjoyed. You’ve definitely got yourself another fan here David and I can’t wait to pick up Stasi Wolf a bit later this month – watch out for my review coming soon.

Visit David’s website: http://stasichild.blogspot.ca/p/about_27.html

David’s GoodReads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14358496.David_Young

Follow him on Twitter: @djy_writer

Stasi Child and Stasi Wolf are available from all good bookshops and as e-books now!

 

British Books Challenge 2016 – The Round Up

Published January 1, 2017 by bibliobeth

BBC pointed shaded

2016 was my fourth year of participating in the British Books Challenge. I love doing this every year and think it’s important to support our authors here in the UK, old and new. Here’s what I’ve managed to review this year in British Books!

Frost Hollow Hall – Emma Carroll

The Horse Dancer – Jojo Moyes

We Were Just Driving Around – Jon McGregor

Bella Broomstick – Lou Kuenzler

The Chamois – Daphne du Maurier

Silent Saturday – Helen Grant

The Demons Of Ghent – Helen Grant

Urban Legends – Helen Grant

The Demon Headmaster – Gillian Cross

Under The Pylon – Graham Joyce

The Versions Of Us – Laura Barnett

The Quality Of Silence – Rosamund Lupton

In A Dark, Dark Wood – Ruth Ware

Duet – Kate Mosse

Carrie’s War – Nina Bawden

The Coral Strand – Ravinder Randhawa

Defender Of The Realm (Defender Of The Realm #1) – Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

Strange Girls And Ordinary Women – Morgan McCarthy

The Samaritan (Carter Blake #2) – Mason Cross

Moving – Jenny Eclair

Enough Of This Shit Already – Tony Black

The Boy In The Dress – David Walliams

Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier

Create Your Own Spy Mission – Andrew and Chris Judge

Charm For A Friend With A Lump – Helen Simpson

A Year Of Marvellous Ways – Sarah Winman

Noble Conflict – Malorie Blackman

The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

The Inventory: Iron Fist (The Inventory #1) – Andy Briggs

Alfie Bloom And The Secrets Of Hexbridge Castle (Alfie Bloom #1) – Gabrielle Kent

Alfie Bloom And The Talisman Thief (Alfie Bloom #2) – Gabrielle Kent

Notes From The House Spirits – Lucy Wood

Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller

How I Finally Lost My Heart – Doris Lessing

The Bones Of You – Debbie Howells

According To Yes – Dawn French

The Borrowers – Mary Norton

Random Acts Of Unkindness – Jacqueline Ward

The Adventure Of The Speckled Band – Arthur Conan Doyle

Maggot Moon – Sally Gardner

Sweet Caress – William Boyd

The Girls – Lisa Jewell

The Oasis Of Time – Carolyn Waugh

Author Requests – Off Key by Mark Robertson, Piano From A 4th Storey Window by Jenny Morton Potts and The Death Of Danny Daggers by Haydn Wilks

The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy – Rachel Joyce

A Dictionary Of Mutual Understanding – Jackie Copleton

Garlic And Gauloises – Hemmie Martin

Looking For JJ (Jennifer Jones #1) – Anne Cassidy

If It Keeps On Raining – Jon McGregor

Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense Of The Twentieth Century – John Higgs

The Lordly Ones – Daphne du Maurier

Roseblood – Paul Doherty

The Last Act Of Love – Cathy Rentzenbrink

Tiger Moth – Graham Joyce

The Widow – Fiona Barton

The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase – Joan Aiken

The Puppet Master – Abigail Osborne

Under My Skin – James Dawson

Red Letter Day – Kate Mosse

Missing, Presumed – Susie Steiner

Getting It Wrong – Ramsey Campbell

Disclaimer – Renée Knight

Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfeild

Among Others – Jo Walton

Chinese Whispers – Ben Chu

The Last Leaves Falling – Fox Benwell

Hogmanay Homicide – Edward Marston

 The Loving Husband – Christobel Kent

The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair

So if I’ve calculated correctly, that makes it 72 books for the British Books Challenge this year. It isn’t as much as last year but I’ve still made the target of 12 books a year which I’m very happy with, especially as I haven’t had a great blogging year with a lot of illness. 😦

Highlights from this year include Disclaimer by Renee Knight which I will treasure as not only is it a fantastic book but I also managed to meet the lady herself at Crime At The Court (hosted by Goldsboro Books, London) with my blogger buddy Cleopatra Loves Books. She’s lovely and so very talented and I will probably read anything she ever writes! The Last Act Of Love was also a hugely important and emotional book for me and I loved reviewing it with my sister, Chrissi Reads in our little “Talking About” feature which we do on occasion. Other honourable mentions go to Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig, Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, the Forbidden Spaces Trilogy by Helen Grant and the fabulous Emma Carroll who wrote the beautiful Frost Hollow Hall. I could go on and on. I’m certainly looking forward to reading some more “best of British” books in 2017! Look out for my sign up post coming soon.