Show-off holiday post: Germany Part 2 (the Berlin bit)

Picking up from where I left off

After a few nights in Prague, we took the train to Berlin, where we were staying for Christmas.

I visited Berlin in 2014, loved it, and had my heart set on returning as soon as I could (achievement unlocked). I was looking forward to showing my family this fascinating city and although we did many of the things I’d done in 2014, our stay was longer than my first, so we managed a few new-to-me sights. The highlights: Continue reading

Show-off holiday post: Germany (Part One)

I have visited Germany many times and wanted to show my family some of what I love and find fascinating about the country.

In planning our itinerary, I chose some places I’d been before and some that were new to me. We started in Munich, drove south through the Bavarian Alps as far as Schloss Neuschwanstein, before heading north for Dinkelsbühl, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Nuremberg and Dresden. Here’s my top ten (in no particular order): Continue reading

Turning by Jessica J. Lee

Sometimes, all the things you love combine in one perfect story. Such was the case with Turning by Jessica J. Lee. If you appreciate swimming, Berlin, hydrology (specifically limnology), the nuances in the German language, and memoirs, then read on (it’s not a niche audience, is it?!). Continue reading

Sample Saturday – three swimming stories

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye.

This week, I discovered two titles after reading this article about cold water swimming and depression, and the book by Lee was chosen because I’ve followed her on Twitter for years. Continue reading

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday – Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes


It’s been far too long since I participated in Bibliophile by the Sea’s First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday- that will change now that exams and study are over for six weeks and I have a huge, tempting reading stack.

In that stack is Timur Vermes’s political satire, Look Who’s Back. I think you can guess who it’s about from the cover. The question is, are we ready to laugh at him?

It begins – Continue reading

Back to Back by Julia Franck

I was grossly under-prepared for the intensity of Julia Franck’s Back to Back. Which is probably why I found it so disturbing.

The story begins in 1954, and centers around a single family living in Berlin in the socialist East. The mother, Käthe, is a sculptor, who has been leveraging her party connections in order to get more significant commissions. Devoted entirely to becoming a success, she is a cruel and completely unaffectionate mother, putting the socialist party above her children – Thomas, Ella and (unnamed and mostly absent) twin girls.  She treats her children as if they were adults – there is no bourgeois mollycoddling in her household.

“Käthe was hardly ever happy, but she was proud.” Continue reading