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

‘The Post Office Girl’ by Stefan Zweig

This is less of a review and more of a bossy list.

In regards to The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig –

DON’T read the jacket blurb (it gives too much away). Instead, all you need to know is this: The story is set in provincial Austria just after the World War I and is about a post-office worker, Christine. She looks after her ailing mother and leads a grim, poor life. Then comes an unexpected invitation – her rich aunt, who lives in America, writes requesting that Christine holiday with her and her husband at a Swiss Alpine resort. At the resort, Christine glimpses a life of luxury and privilege that astounds her. But Christine’s aunt drops her as abruptly as she picked her up, and soon the young woman is back at the post office, consumed with disappointment and bitterness.

DO read it, particularly if you’re taking part in a translation reading challenge or one that involves books set in different countries (it ticks the box for Switzerland and Austria). Continue reading