Book Reviews

Snapshot July 2015

The first day of a new month and it’s time to take a quick snapshot of what I’m reading, hearing and watching.


It seems insensitive to say I’m enjoying reading a book set partly in Auschwitz concentration camp. Appreciate would be a more apt and tactful word perhaps to describe my reaction to A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar.  It’s a curious mixture of alternative history and pulp mystery that imagines a prisoner in the concentration camp using his dreams to block out the pain of his experience. His dream envisages that Hitler’s rise to power was thwarted and Germany became a Communist state. Many of the former regime leaders, like Rudolph Hess,  have fled to London. Wolf (the meaning of the name Adolph) has become a private detective, hired by a beautiful Jewish woman to track down her sister. I came across this when the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prizes were announced last month and Tidhar’s book was named as one of the winners. I’m perplexed why this hasn’t had more attention because its a stunning novel.


I’ve returned to some crime fiction for my companion on the work commute. Ruth Rendell can be relied upon to tell a good story and The Vault is up to her usual standard so far. It features her best-known creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, except that in this novel he is chief inspector no longer having retired from the force. He’s finding the transition difficult so is more than happy when a former colleague asks him if he’d be able to help as unpaid advisor on a gruesome multiple murder. The Vault is the penultimate novel in the Inspector Wexford series. Sad to think that with Rendell’s death earlier this year there will be no more Wexfords.


I’ve been playing around with some apps and software programs that enable you to create pictures based on quotes. You know the kind of thing I’m sure – Facebook and Twitter are chock full of them. I thought they might liven up some of my Writers on Reading posts. Inevitably the free programs are rather limiting and I’m not ready to commit to a subscription just yet.  My attempts are a bit basic so far.



Has anyone come across a good but relatively easy to use program?



What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

15 thoughts on “Snapshot July 2015

  • A Man Lies Dreaming sounds intriguing. I hope you write more about it because I want to hear more!

  • Adding A Man Lies Dreaming to my admittedly too long to finish in this lifetime reading list.

  • I’m a fan of Rendells. There is a posthumous book expected in December in America–not sure when it comes out in the UK

    • It’s just been announced for October.

      • not too long to wait then. better get my name down for the library hold quickly otherwise i’ll find myself at the back of a very long queue. Thanks for letting me know

  • A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar sounds really interesting. I know what you mean there are some books and topics that seem disrespectful to say your ‘enjoying’.

    • reading this book just highlighted to me the value of the Jerwood Uncovered Fiction prize because without that I’d never have heard of it and would have missed something good

  • Oh how to explain it: I was friends with Person A (male) and Person B.(female). The three of us worked for the same company. I was friends with both. Person A then left the company, but was dating Person B. . Person B then went abroad on assignment. Person A and I then had email communication as to how we could ensure that Person B felt ok being away, and entertained, The three of us had a mutual appreciation of books and literature so naturally the discussion led to the books/authors A could buy B to carry her forward.

    I was in the phase of reading Primo Levi books, so when A brought it up as a potential author for B, I was reticent as discussions about Auschwitz could be a rather heavy topic for someone who might be feeling a little lonely. A’s take was that since Levi survived long enough to tell his story, perhaps it was a positive rather than a negative. I cant remember whether he got her the book or not…Which side do you think you would fall on?

    • It’s always hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagine their reaction. Just as hard for me to imagine how I would have reacted. Somehow i suspect it wouldn’t have been an issue for me to receive that book if it was so well written that I could get completely engrossed and thus forget about loneliness for a while.

    • thanks for the link and the tip Cathy, I’ll have a go using their free trial offer and see how I get on. If I could only master Photoshop I wouldn’t need this kind of tool but its so complicated

      • My husband is a Photoshop pro and keeps trying to get me to use it, but my brain cannot get round it at all. Picmonkey will do for me!

        • So is mine – I did sit with him once and tried to follow but got hopelessly lost when he got onto filters and layers

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