VivienneR's European journey

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VivienneR's European journey

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Editado: Fev 11, 2013, 6:34 pm

March 2012: I'm new to the group and so excited to begin the challenge. It might take me a very long time to complete but it will be so much fun.

I've started a European challenge collection to keep track. The name of the country is in the comments field and sorted by this field.

I am not counting books I read more than one year ago although there may be some in the collection.

Editado: Fev 13, 2013, 1:23 pm

Completed February 12, 2013

Countries visited: 55, plus Channel Islands, Faroe Islands, Hebrides, and the Isle of Man

Books read: 90

Too bad the map site was not accessible at the finish.

Editado: Fev 13, 2013, 2:31 am

Europe A - D

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman The indomitable Mrs Pollifax on her first mission.

Andorra by Peter Cameron A mesmerizing tale of a man trying to start a new life in Andorra.

Between the stillness and the grove by Erika de Vasconcelos. A story of two Armenian women who escape the genocidal war in Armenia.

Mozart's Last Aria by Matt Rees. Rees's solution to the mystery of Mozart's death.

Gentlemen of the road by Michael Chabon. An entertaining 10th century adventure story.

The Russian Album by Michael Ignatieff. The history of Ignatieff's paternal family. Excellent.

The Sojourn by Alan Cumyn. The story of one soldier's experience of WWI Ypres contrasted with a short leave in London. Highly recommended.

Bosnia Herzegovina
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. A portrayal of how war affects the human spirit.

The Elusive Mrs Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman My last book of the challenge is so much fun.

Channel Islands
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This was a re-read of an Early Reviewer book that I got back in 2008. Still enjoyable, but somehow I didn't enjoy it as much as other people did.

Croatia : Travels in undiscovered country by Tony Fabijancic. An account of the author's travels in Croatia.

Death in Cyprus by M.M. Kaye. A fluffy, romantic mystery written in 1956, set in colonial Cyprus.

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer. A fictional biography of a house and those who lived in it.

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen. The best mystery I've read in a while.

Editado: Fev 13, 2013, 1:25 pm

Europe E - G

Behind the scenes at the museum by Kate Atkinson. Highly recommended.
The Yellow Room Conspiracy by Peter Dickinson. A pair of aging lovers set down their different versions of a 1956 scandal which involved British Intelligence, organized crime, and old-fashioned sibling rivalry.
Murder in Three Acts by Agatha Christie.
Diary of a provincial lady by E.M.Delafield.
Henrietta sees it through by Joyce Dennys. Similar to the one above by Delafield, but I enjoyed Joyce Dennys's book much more. Henrietta was a much more pleasant person. My review is here.
Paying Guests by E.F.Benson. One of my all-time favourite authors.
Dialogues of the dead by Reginald Hill. An excellent mystery in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, very clever, but not one of my favourite Reginald Hill books.
The Choir by Joanna Trollope. This was a must-read after seeing the television series back in the 1990s. It didn't disappoint, but the music was a big part of the series, absent of course in the book.
The Father Brown Omnibus by G.K.Chesterton. Every story is an old-fashioned treat.
A Day for dying by Dorothy Simpson. The bridegroom-to-be is found dead in the swimming pool at his own engagement party.
A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley. Flavia de Luce: my favourite mystery series of all time.
The Private Patient by P.D. James. Not as enjoyable as older works by this author.
I Am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley. Flavia de Luce, my favourite sleuth.

The Hero of Esthonia and other studies in the romantic literature of that country by W.F. Kirby. Folktales originally published in 1895.
Foreign Women (in Best European Fiction 2010) by Elo Viiding. A cleverly funny short story.
Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson an Inspector Banks mystery. Highly recommended.

Faroe Islands
Faroese Flashes from Little is the Light by Vitali Vitaliev. Informative and entertaining.

Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson. Offensive, disappointing. One star.
Fair Play by Tove Jansson. A series of linked vignettes about two women artists.

The Widower by Georges Simenon. A heartfelt story with a close attention to detail, ambience and emotion. Very different from Simenon's Inspector Maigret series.
The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys. Examines love in its many forms through the story of the love affair between French literary critic Charles Sainte-Beuve and Victor's Hugo's wife, Adèle.
The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie. I've been reading Christie since I was a child and will never tire of her books.
The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle. A real fun read in search of stolen wine.

Walking Dead by Greg Rucka an action-packed thriller.

Floating in my mother's palm by Ursula Hegi. A wonderful collection of short stories narrated by Trudy, a young girl in post-WWII Germany. Beautiful writing, emotional, tender, but never sentimental.

Uneasy relations by Aaron Elkins A well-written mystery that is a mixture of archaeology and forensic anthropology.
Gibanmamorga from Little is the Light by Vitali Vitaliev. The information about Gibralter from this tourist's viewpoint confirms a number of Aaron Elkin's comments (above).

A Darker God by Barbara Cleverly. Not one of my favourite reads, this was very slow to get going, the characters were flat, and some scenes were downright silly. The last quarter of the book improved somewhat but I won't try any more in this series.

Eskimo Diary by Thomas Frederiksen. A diary kept by a young Frederiksen in the fifties and sixties with accompanying paintings.

Editado: Jan 29, 2013, 4:43 pm

Europe H - M

A Shine of Rainbows by Lillian Beckwith. A pleasant work of fiction by the author of autobiographical stories of the Hebrides.

International Date Line by Dawn Howat. Canadian chicklit set in Budapest.

The Worst Thing by Aaron Elkin. A well done mystery full of suspense.

Death in Dublin by Bartholomew Gill. A police procedural with an emphasis on Celtic legend. The Book of Kells and other priceless manuscripts are stolen from Trinity College library.

Isle of Man
Manx Gold from While the Light Lasts by Agatha Christie. One of Christie's most unusual commissions - clues to a treasure hunt on the Isle of Man.
Isle of Man from Little is the Light by Vitali Vitaliev. Plenty of entertaining information about the island from a tourist's point of view.
Safe House by Chris Ewan An excellent thriller mystery.

This book is set on the Isle of Man, famous for the TT motor cycle race. An excellent book, great characters, it was hard to put down.

The Fatal Touch by Conor Fitzgerald. This mystery was an Early Reviewer win that I really enjoyed. My review is here.
Road to Valour : A true story of World War II Italy, the Nazis, and the cyclist who inspired a nation by Aili McConnon. Another great Early Reviewer win that I gave 4 1/2 stars. My review is here.
And then you die by Michael Dibdin. My first Aurelio Zen mystery and I'm a fan!

Charlie Johnson in the flames by Michael Ignatieff. A life-changing event for a war correspondent in Kosovo. Recommended.

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell A gripping Swedish mystery.

Ludmila is one of the folk tales, all involving animals, in Three Legends by Paul Gallico. A beautiful story about a weakling cow who ends up a winner.
Midnight plus one by Gavin Lyall. A fun action thriller, reminiscent of James Bond stories.

Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys. A moving story of a Lithuanian girl and her family who were deported under Stalin's genocidal regime. Highly recommended.

The Expats by Chris Pavone. A gripping tale of intrigue and suspense. Excellent.

The Gates of Hell by Paul Doherty an account of Alexander the Great taking Halicarnassus with a murder mystery thrown in.
Alexander the Great by Jacob Abbott a short history of Alexander.

The Brass Dolphin by Caroline Harvey. A story about human relationships set during WWII.

No going back to Moldova by Anna Robertson. A fascinating and charming autobiography.

Anything Considered by Peter Mayle. A very entertaining, fun read.
Gibanmamorga from Little is the Light by Vitali Vitaliev. An acronym for Gibralter, Andorra, Malta, Monaco and Seborga that he visited in one trip.

The Black Mountain by Rex Stout. My first Nero Wolfe story, but not the last.

Editado: Jan 22, 2013, 6:06 pm

Europe N - R

Comedy in a minor key by Hans Keilson. A perfect gem.

Northern Ireland
Mobile Library : The Delegates choice by Ian Sansom. This wonderful series is a real treasure. Having grown up in Northern Ireland I recognize the unique humour.
Divorcing Jack by Colin Bateman. Grisly, profane, but highly entertaining.
The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom. Another in the Mobile Library mystery series. Great fun!

Headhunters by Jo Nesbo Grim, far-fetched but very entertaining; a real page-turner. Complex plotting dovetails neatly.

The Katyn Order by Douglas W. Jacobson An Early Reviewer win. Takes place during WWII. This one would have benefitted from a few touch ups and editing. My review is here.
A More Perfect Heaven : how Nicolaus Copernicus revolutionized the cosmos by Dava Sobel. Another outstanding work by Sobel, who can make the most complex topic both enlightening and entertaining. My review is here

Small Memories by José Saramago A memoir by one of Portugal's greatest writers.

Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen. The mystery takes place in a Romanian castle. A fun read.

The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore. Set in Leningrad in the early 1950s under the rule of Stalin. My review is here.

Editado: Dez 5, 2012, 8:02 pm

Europe S - W

San Marino
San Marino from Little is the Light by Vitali Vitaliev. Entertaining as well as informative.
A Freak of freedom by J. Theodore Bent. A comprehensive history of San Marino up until the date it was published, 1879.

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid (also has parts set in Italy). This is my first McDermid mystery, fortunately there are plenty on the shelves.

Blood Count by Robert Goddard. Impossible to put down, full of twists.

Piper on the mountain by Ellis Peters. A mystery set in the 1960s.

Angels beneath the surface : a selection of contemporary Slovene fiction. An anthology of dark stories with characters who have less than angelic personalities.

The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen. Fact and fiction are merged in this excellent historical novel about Sofonisba Anguissola, a female student of Michelangelo, who became a lady-in-waiting to Philip of Spain's teenage queen. My review is here.

Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti. A captivating story of how opposites attract. Highly recommended.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri. A favourite book from my childhood.
In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim. Beautiful story with a strong sense of Switzerland.

The Turkish Cookbook : regional recipes and stories by Nur İlkin. I just happened upon this fabulous book. It's a big, very beautiful book that provides a lot of information about the regions of Turkey. For me, the recipes were a bonus.
The Amazing Mrs Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman. Secret agents and gypsies, on a rescue mission. Fun.

Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov. I enjoyed this very much.
To my father's village : the last days and drawings of William Kurelek. A beautiful and sad memoir from William Kurelek, one of Canada's favourite artists.

Vatican City
The Vatican Rip by Jonathan Gash. A Lovejoy mystery.

Borrowed Time by Robert Goddard. Most of the story takes place in England (some in Belgium} but the crime takes place in the Welsh borderlands. The narrative is beautifully written, as one blurber said "it flows as smoothly as honey over hot toast".
The Cold Light of Mourning by Elizabeth J. Duncan. The amateur sleuth is a Canadian ex-pat who is a manicurist. This Canadian author is able to produce a mystery that is well-written and of higher calibre than most cosies.
A Brush with Death by Elizabeth J. Duncan. Not as much fun as the last one I read, but still enjoyable.

Editado: Abr 12, 2012, 6:49 pm

I've made a list of books to look out for but having trouble with a couple of countries. I guess they will be left for last.

Mar 7, 2012, 6:59 pm

Welcome to the challenge! I hope you enjoy your travels and share some great books with us all.

Mar 8, 2012, 2:33 am

Thank you for the welcome. I was going to limit my reading to mysteries, but realized I would miss out on too much good reading if I did that.

When I joined the Canadian Fiction/Non-Fiction challenge I had a super time and visited each province a number of times. I'm now addicted to searching for places in my reading, and fattening up "thin" areas.

Mar 8, 2012, 5:11 am

I did limit my European (and 50 US State) challenge(s) to just mysteries but only because I'm also participating in the Reading Globally group as well and wanted to differentiate between them. Good luck with your challenge.

Mar 8, 2012, 2:18 pm

Mysteries may dominate my choices but as I live in an out of the way spot in British Columbia I am mostly limited to what our small public library can supply. We have no bookstore in town - if anyone is interested in a commercial opportunity??

Abr 7, 2012, 12:21 pm

Now that I've made some updates to my list my map has dramatically changed. It's looking much better now!

I've also added short comments and links to the few books that I reviewed.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:31 pm

Added The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen which takes place mostly in Spain. I really enjoyed this novel set in a very interesting time in history, and in my experience, mostly seen from the English Tudor viewpoint.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:31 pm

There is not much available, in my neck of the woods anyway, for Estonia. I managed to get my hands on The Hero of Esthonia and other studies in the romantic literature of that country by W.F. Kirby. Originally published in 1895. Folktales are not my current reading taste but this will fit the bill until I find something else. I've read some of them many years ago when I appreciated them more.

Editado: Jul 31, 2016, 8:25 am

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Abr 14, 2012, 1:17 pm

>16 Samantha_kathy: Thank you for the tip. I had done a search in WorldCat for Purge but didn't come up with any western Canadian libraries holding it. However, on a second try I see that the university of Calgary library has it so I might be able to get it on interlibrary loan. I'll add it to the list I've compiled as a "reading plan".

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:57 pm

I've just added The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway for Bosnia Herzegovina. I will never again hear Albinoni's Adagio without thinking of the people of Sarajevo.

Also, Heidi by Johanna Spyri for Switzerland. This is not on the list of books I've chosen to read for this challenge, but a re-read of one of my favourite childhood books.

Within a few days I went from the wretched conditions in Sarajevo to the heady perfection of the Swiss Alps. Each of these two books was intensified by the other.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:32 pm

The Turkish Cookbook : regional recipes and stories by Nur İlkin is another book that I just happened upon. It is not the book I've chosen for Turkey but so beautiful and informative that I included it. More to come for Turkey.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:33 pm

I added another one for Wales A Brush with Death by Elizabeth J. Duncan. I had this one on the tbr shelf. It was not as much fun as the last one I read, but still enjoyable.

Abr 22, 2012, 4:13 am

Hi and thanks a lot for your welcome. I'll check into your thread as well. As a Swiss lady 'Heidi' is known perfectly well and I'm glad you still enjoyed it.
Happy reading :-)

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:56 pm

I was trying to stay with the mystery genre but don't think that's possible so I will be including fiction. For Poland, I've added A More Perfect Heaven : how Nicolaus Copernicus revolutionized the cosmos by Dava Sobel - although it appears the country Copernicus is associated with is still up for discussion. This was an Early Reviewers snag that I was delighted to get. It's a fascinating book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:33 pm

Just finished my Netherlands choice - Comedy in a minor key by Hans Keilson. I know this is going to be one of those stories that I'll be thinking about for a very long time. It was already on my tbr list but thanks to this challenge it was pulled off the shelf a bit sooner. Just wonderful.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:33 pm

Although far-fetched and a bit heavy on the possibility of vampires, Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen was a fun read for Romania.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:34 pm

Endless Europe has become mired in Greece with Barbara Cleverly's A Darker God which is very slow going. The plot is ok but the characters are wooden and it all seems so implausible - not that mystery fiction can be described as plausible. The writing doesn't flow smoothly and I've found I have to double back to clarify some minor detail. I rarely abandon a book but this might be a good candidate.

Maio 24, 2012, 12:52 pm

At last I finished A Darker God and have to admit it got better. I'm glad I didn't abandon it as I mentioned in my last post.

On the way to Ireland now...

Editado: Mar 24, 2013, 1:45 am

The last in the Peter McGarr series, Death in Dublin by Bartholomew Gill is an exciting yarn from Ireland. It is filled with mistakes and mayhem with lots of twists and turns in the story. I like the dark humour. Too bad Gill is no longer with us, it sounds like he may have kissed the blarney stone at some time.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:34 pm

Floating in my mother's palm by Ursula Hegi was my read for Germany and is without doubt one of my favourite reads of this challenge. I will be watching out for more by Hegi.

I'll be taking a short break to read my Early Reviewer wins. As one is set in Italy, I'll be returning there soon.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:34 pm

Thoroughly enjoyed another choice for Switzerland: In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim is a beautiful story. It is written in a very elegant style that might be a bit dated for a modern reader but I just loved it.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:35 pm

A short story, but one that I enjoyed, Ludmila is set in Liechtenstein. A sort of rags to riches story for a little weakling cow. It's been many years since I first read it, but this reading brought it all back to me. Unfortunately this edition didn't have the beautiful colour illustrations that I remember in the first one. Ludmila is one of the stories in Three Legends by Paul Gallico.

Editado: Jul 31, 2016, 8:25 am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Jun 22, 2012, 3:18 pm

I had planned to read Ludmila as well, but then I thought it looked more like a folk tale than something that might give me a sense of the country so I ended up ordering a short history of the country via interlibrary loan.

Jun 22, 2012, 10:54 pm

You're right, Ludmila is a folk tale, but somehow there is still a sense of location.

Jun 23, 2012, 8:16 am

I may have to go back and read it anyway now! I think our library has a copy, and it is rather short! I think we have the version where it's including with 2 other works by the author.

Jun 23, 2012, 1:24 pm

That's the version I have too. I'm looking forward to reading them, especially The Snow Goose who accompanies a rescue ship at Dunkirk. I loved stories like this when I was a child.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:35 pm

Italy: My latest Early Review win truly was a winner: - Road to Valour : A true story of World War II Italy, the Nazis, and the cyclist who inspired a nation by Aili McConnon. I really enjoyed this book, especially as the Tour de France is taking place right now.

My review is here.

Jul 11, 2012, 7:17 am

Hi Vivienne, thanks for pointing out In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim. I've read other books by her that I thoroughly enjoyed, so I may try this one too.

Jul 12, 2012, 1:44 am

The ending was a bit too tidy, but in this particular book it was perfectly acceptable. I'm looking forward to more by Elizabeth von Arnim. I often wonder what she was trying to escape, a prevailing theme. In one book I seem to recall she referred to her husband as the "man of wrath".

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:36 pm

Just added Ukraine to my European tour. Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov is a translation by George Bird. The story is quirky and written with a sense of humour. I was completely surprised by the ending. I expected it to go in another direction completely. Very enjoyable.

Jul 18, 2012, 9:55 am

I probably would have used that one for Ukraine if I'd had easy access to a copy. I've still got it on my wish list to read because I've heard so many good things about it.

Jul 18, 2012, 6:42 pm

Hi Lori, maybe your library could get you a copy on interlibrary loan. I've heard there are sequels. I'm going to see if I can get my hands on them.

Jul 18, 2012, 9:44 pm

I could order it from work via ILL, but I've got so much other stuff right now that is ahead of it. I'll eventually get to it. I'm kind of hoping that I find a bargain copy somewhere eventually. If not, I'll use ILL.

Jul 19, 2012, 2:16 am

I understand, the tbr pile beckons. I wish I could be like my husband who reads every book as he gets them and never has a tbr pile.

Jul 19, 2012, 7:12 am

I have more than 1200 books on my TBR list. It seems to grow by at least 2 books for every book I take off of it, thanks to LibraryThing.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:37 pm

Just added another for Ukraine - To my father's village : the last days and drawings of William Kurelek. Beautiful and sad. Kurelek was very ill when he left Canada to visit his father's village in the Ukraine in 1977. He died a month after arriving back in Canada. He wanted to get his films developed to share with his father, but his father didn't want to put him out. Sadly by caring for each other, neither experienced what could have been a happy few last hours. The text is taken from letters sent to his wife while he was away.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:40 pm

Just added San Marino and The Faroes. Both were chapters from Little is the Light by Vitali Vitaliev who toured 11 countries all with a population of less than 40,000. This highly entertaining travelogue is unlike any other that I've read. He is originally from Ukraine and often views things with a Ukrainian eye. Vitaliev confirmed the scarcity of literature from San Marino, even the complete lack of bookstores in the country, so I feel fortunate that I found his book.

On the other hand, he reports that the Faroe Islands have a 100% literacy. Their most popular author is William Heinesen whose works are not often translated from Danish. I'll be watching out for them.

Vitaliev also mentioned a thriller set in Liechtenstein, one of the countries he visited, Midnight Plus One by Gavin Lyall published in 1965, which sounds like a James Bond type thriller. Right after I ordered a copy I found a site that offered free downloads or the ability to read the book online. In any case I prefer a physical book.

Another one added for Northern Ireland. It appears the Northern Irish can't be serious under any circumstances. Divorcing Jack by Colin Bateman is another mystery filled with black humour. Very entertaining.

I rearranged my list to straight alphabetical order to avoid the tangle the United Kingdom heading was giving me regarding overseas territories and crown dependencies like the Isle of Man.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:38 pm

Sweden: Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti was wonderful - a Swedish "odd couple". The ending has been discussed and throughout the book I wondered about how the story would conclude. Mazetti worked it out well in my opinion. Highly recommended!

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:40 pm

A short story set on the Isle of Man by Agatha Christie, Manx Gold is from While the Light Lasts. The story, serialized in the Isle of Man newspaper the Daily Dispatch in 1930, was intended to promote tourism by providing clues to a treasure hunt. The prize was four snuffboxes each containing a £100 voucher. Only three were discovered. After reading the explanation following the story, I know I would never have been able to work it out. While the story itself isn't much, the story behind it is very interesting.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:40 pm

Anything Considered by Peter Mayle set in Monaco and France was a perfect summer read. Great fun!

Ago 7, 2012, 10:16 pm

You've had a string of good reads lately! Road to Valor particularly caught my eye. I checked and happily my public library has a couple of copies. Now if I can just find time to read all these great books I keep finding on other people's threads!

Ago 7, 2012, 10:21 pm

How much of Anything Considered is set in Monaco? I still need a book for that country in my Europe challenge. I'd thought I would probably have to read a biography of one of the members of the "royal family," but if this one has a significant portion set there, I think I can get by with it.

Ago 8, 2012, 12:33 pm

>50 cbl_tn: I especially enjoyed Road to Valor because I was following this year's Tour de France (and rooting for two riders). So this book arrived at the perfect time.

>51 thornton37814: In Anything Considered the characters bounce back and forth from France to Monaco. The main character, who lives in France, is offered a job in Monaco in response to his advertisement "Anything considered". A fair amount is set there and the story relies on Monaco's relationship to France so it fits this challenge well.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:41 pm

The Russian Album is my Belarus choice. It's the story of author Michael Ignatieff's family on his father's side. It is particularly compelling to anyone interested in Russian history and the chaos of the civil war which makes it so much more than a family history. An excellent read that I can recommend highly.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:41 pm

Just finished The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen from Denmark. It is a real page-turner. The suspense was maintained throughout the story, and although there were some pretty grim parts there was also a subtle humour. I was also impressed by the translation that appeared to lose none of the finely-drawn nuances. I'm giving it 5 stars.

Ago 14, 2012, 6:44 am

The Keeper of Lost Causes is on my library TBR list so I'm glad to see you liked it so well!

Ago 14, 2012, 11:02 am

Be prepared for a reading marathon! It's impossible to put down.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:30 pm

The Sojourn by Alan Cumyn is my reading choice for Belgium. Although a fair portion takes place at Ypres, the middle of the story is set in London while Canadian Private Ramsay Crome is on leave. However, Flanders remains central to the story as the author relates the contrast between the horror of Ypres and the very civilized stay in London.

Canadian Alan Cumyn has not only drawn an accurate picture of Ypres, but of civilian incomprehension at that time. And how could it have been otherwise when, for the returning soldiers, it was too difficult to speak of?

I thought the factual battle narrative was going to be too horrific to get through, but this is a terrific read: accurate, very well-written, thought-provoking and sensitive. I've no hesitation in giving this one five stars.

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 5:30 pm

I just finished another in the Mobile Library mystery series set in Northern Ireland: The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom. The protagonist, Israel Armstrong, is a very likeable character, harmless, except maybe to himself. There is plenty of local humour some of which may be a bit too close to the truth for comfort. Behind all the witty jabs there is a kernel of gravity. Sadly, I believe I have only one left unread in this series. In that one I hope Israel realizes that his landlady, George, is his perfect life partner.

Ago 26, 2012, 8:29 pm

I tried the first mobile library mystery and hated it. I'm glad you like the series better than I did, but I didn't find Israel likeable at all in that first book. Perhaps his character grows on you over the course of the series?

Ago 27, 2012, 1:25 am

I'm glad you mentioned it. I wondered how someone who is not familiar with Northern Ireland would feel about this series. There are so many "local" connections, jokes, words, even mispronunciations, none of which are explained for anyone not in the know. Just knowing what they are talking about is a plus, and even I didn't understand all the references - guess I've been away too long. And I absolutely cannot imagine anyone living in a chicken coop, renovated or not. The story is a sort of satire, with the underlying serious message that is hard to pin down. I actually liked this one better than the first one in the series. I'm still trying to figure out how many stars to give it.

Ago 27, 2012, 8:11 am

Most of my familiarity of Northern Ireland comes from the news, back when there was a lot of unrest there (which was broadcast on a pretty much daily basis). I suspect that did contribute.

Ago 27, 2012, 1:28 pm

That is exactly what most people know of Northern Ireland. Sansom completely omitted any reference to "troubles" which I appreciated hugely. For most people, life went on, while the minority grabbed the headlines. Now that I think about it, that might be what appealed to me about the series.

I still think Sansom writes for Northern Ireland readers. Maybe he didn't realize his mobile library series would travel so far outside the country. I'm glad they did :-)

Editado: Set 2, 2012, 6:00 pm

For Estonia, Foreign Women (in Best European Fiction 2010) by Elo Viiding in Best European Fiction 2010 is an excellent story where the focus constantly changes, like an optical illusion transforming faces to a vase.

The story describes the observances by a young girl of the foreign women (presumably from the publishing world) who come to visit. The child compares the exciting lives, outrageous stories, and liberated lifestyles of the visitors with the dull, exhausted Soviet women who tend to every need of their men. Naturally, the Soviet women don't fare well compared to this magnetic charm, but then the story shifts, and gradually the foreign women appear harder, less glamorous, their foreign gifts become ridiculous.

I imagine the story is at least partly, if not completely autobiographical, as Viiding's father was Estonian poet and actor Juhan Viiding. One wonders what memories must have sparked the story.

Set 2, 2012, 5:45 pm

M.M. Kaye captured colonial Cyprus neatly in the romantic mystery Death in Cyprus set in the 1940s. Reminiscent of Christie, although a bit dated now, it's not a bad light summer read.

Set 2, 2012, 6:06 pm

I read M.M. Kaye's Death in Berlin earlier this summer and I thought it felt dated, too. I still enjoyed it, but not as much as I did when I first read it 25 years ago (give or take a few years).

Set 2, 2012, 7:37 pm

Agatha Christie is dated too, but somehow in a more entertaining, appealing kind of way. I enjoyed Death in Berlin a little more than Death in Cyprus. However, I think I'm done with M.M. Kaye now.

Set 4, 2012, 7:02 pm

Unfortunately I've been unable to find any appealing fiction set in Croatia so my reading choice was Croatia : Travels in undiscovered country by Tony Fabijancic who was born in Canada and whose father is Croatian. Not a typical travel guide, but a personal narration of visits to Croatia from 1996-1999 that describe his interaction with the people, as well as history and politics of each area and comparisons with earlier visits. Interesting.

Editado: Set 7, 2012, 12:49 pm

Just finished my Finland choice: Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson. Although the story opened with the discovery of the most revolting, offensive, cruel, sex murder, I thought the book had promise - after all, I had read a number of positive reviews. I was wrong. The plot became a ragbag of corruption and personal issues. There were some interesting details about Finnish history but given the quality of the story, accuracy cannot be assumed. What irritated me most was the gratuitous coarse language, like a youngster who has just learned two or three swear words and uses them in every circumstance. Give this one a miss.

Set 7, 2012, 12:53 pm

I think we need to provide some authors with bars of soap with which they can wash out their mouths. My pleasure has been marred by too much cursing in the book that I began last night. I came very close to abandoning it. I still might if it doesn't improve.

Set 7, 2012, 1:10 pm

I agree. I'm still irked that I bothered with this book. I could have been enjoying a good read from Mount tbr. I should have abandoned it when the obscene murder was found, right at the beginning.

I'll go back to Finland sometime - I found another book at my library that looks promising. Right now I'm off to the Czech Republic.

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Set 7, 2012, 2:43 pm

I don't have a problem with coarse language in books either - it's a fact of life. But Thompson's use was annoying not only for the volume but in its lack of imagination. When any one of a dozen alternative words could have been used (not all profane) he used the same swear word, over and over. There was no narrator, yet the repetitive obscenities occurred in the text as well as dialog, which strikes me as weird - definitely unwarranted.

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Editado: Out 5, 2012, 2:47 pm

Czechoslovakia: Just finished The Glass Room by Simon Mawer. It could be described as a (fictional) biography of a house, although the house actually does exist. I thought it was clever, ingenious, in some respects - but for me, just not enough to make it memorable.

My opinion kept changing as I read. At first I found it slow and without that spark that motivates the reader to turn pages. As I continued, my interest level bounced back and forth, Most of the characters are not particularly likeable thus diminishing any sympathy the reader might have for them and making the story gloomy.

I know it deserves more but because of my mixed feelings, I'm just giving this one three stars.

Editado: Out 5, 2012, 2:47 pm

Between the stillness and the grove by Erika de Vasconcelos is one of those books that I would not have picked up if it had not been for this challenge. I certainly enjoyed it, even though I found it a tad confusing at times. I kept getting relationships confused as the story goes back and forward in time. This is a powerful, haunting story of two women who flee Armenia, all the intricacies of their lives, and memories of genocidal war. One flees to Portugal, the other to Toronto, Canada, where they are eventually reunited.

Editado: Out 5, 2012, 2:48 pm

I'm not particularly a fan of short stories but Angels beneath the surface : a selection of contemporary Slovene fiction was my choice for Slovenia. As usual in an anthology some stories are better than others. All were dark, the theme of the book being characters who have less than angelic personalities. The first story hooked me instantly: The Fall of the House of Pirnat by Maja Novak made me laugh out loud in a couple of spots.

Editado: Out 5, 2012, 2:48 pm

Another book that is outside my usual reading choices: Gentlemen of the road by Michael Chabon, is a highly entertaining, swashbuckling story and was my choice for Azerbaijan.

Set 25, 2012, 10:50 pm

Gentleman of the Road was my Azerbaijan book as well, and also outside my usual reading choices. I really liked it and I think it would make a great movie.

Editado: Set 26, 2012, 9:42 pm

It was also my Azerbaijan book. It was a hit even though it was not my typical fare.

ETA: interesting that you called it swashbuckling because I noted that it reminded me of pirate adventures (without the sea).

Set 26, 2012, 11:57 pm

You're right, it would be a terrific movie. All the weaponry and trickery made me think of swashbuckling types. I thought it was going to be boring and was pleasantly surprised. However, I don't think I'll try another even though I appreciated the introduction - thanks to this challenge.

I'm off to Austria now with Mozart's last aria which seems to be a fun read. It wasn't my first choice for Austria but Patient Number 7 has been out on loan at the library pretty consistently.

Editado: Out 5, 2012, 2:49 pm

I realize Greenland is physiographically part of North America but because it is within the kingdom of Denmark and has always been associated with Europe, I am including it here.

My book for Greenland was an amazingly lucky find. Eskimo Diary is Greenlander Thomas Frederiksen's illustrated diary from his youth in the fifties and sixties as a hunter and fisherman. It was published in 1980. Each page presents a facsimile of a page from the diary with beautifully handwritten text, presumably in Kalaallisut, as well as a painting depicting the events of the entry. The English translation is on the facing page. The paintings are charming, almost childlike in their simplicity yet having all the details necessary and have beautiful colouring. In relating his day to day life, he also describes the fishing methods used as well as legends and history. Fascinating, and lovely to look at.

Set 28, 2012, 1:33 pm

I think a lot of us included Greenland in our challenge for the same reason.

Editado: Out 5, 2012, 2:50 pm

My choice for Austria was supposed to be Patient Number 7 by Kurt Palka but it's been checked out of the library every time I've looked for it. I know I could put a hold on it but it will keep.

In the meantime I filled the Austria slot with Mozart's Last Aria by Matt Rees - a fluffy mystery about Mozart's puzzling early death. The story was just alright, but I liked the portrayal of Vienna, which I thought must be close to what Vienna was like in Mozart's day. However, what I liked most was at the end of the book, the music mentioned in the text was identified by Kochel's catalogue number so I was able to listen to the music mentioned as I read. It also contained notes about the actual Mozart story and a bibliography, probably the first time I've found one in a mystery.

On to Hungary now.

Out 5, 2012, 2:52 pm

My choice for Hungary was International Date Line by Dawn Howat - chicklit that will probably be more favoured by a younger "chick" than me, much younger. Why are so many books about young people filled with alchohol, sex and swearing? This looked promising but I have to be truthful and say it was illogical and silly. Who would sell up everything including their Toronto condo and move to Budapest, just on the suggestion of a highly unreliable old flame? Of course, the old flame is a no-show. The main character claims indecisiveness is a Canadian national trait - although she didn't exhibit much indecisiveness when she sold up everything on a whim. If it is a national trait, this is the first I've heard of it. The story is thin, silly, repetitive, and yet I kept on reading and found it mildly entertaining. Only two stars for this one.

Editado: Out 9, 2012, 1:56 pm

Just finished A Shine of Rainbows by Lillian Beckwith, a tender story about an orphan finding a home with a childless couple in the Hebrides. It's sentimental without being mawkish. A pleasant, short read, inspired by the biographical stories Beckwith has given us of her life in the Hebrides.

Out 14, 2012, 11:12 pm

I'm counting Midnight plus one by Gavin Lyall for Liechtenstein even though most of it takes place in France, some in Switzerland. It is an action thriller from 1965 that is reminiscent of James Bond stories. The "hero" is asked to escort a businessman from France to Liechtenstein for a meeting of shareholders which must happen before "midnight plus one minute" on the appointed date. The business is located in Liechtenstein because of the tax laws. Lots of shooting, car crashes, doublecrossing and the like - and lots of fun.

Out 17, 2012, 2:53 pm

Lithuania Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys was hard to put down. It is an outstanding story of a sixteen year old girl and her family who were deported under Stalin's genocidal regime. Very moving, difficult to comprehend how humans could have survived under such conditions. I was a little concerned that because the book was catalogued in the YA section of the library it would not be as interesting to an adult. I was wrong. This tragic story is beautifully written. One of the best reads this year. Five stars.

This was one of those books that I would not have picked up if it had not been for this challenge. I'm so glad I did. My knowledge of this area of history is sadly lacking. Between shades of gray has spurred me to read more on the topic.

Out 27, 2012, 5:45 pm

I really enjoyed Uneasy relations by Aaron Elkins set in Gibralter. It had a slow start but picked up about halfway through. Interesting and well-written.

Out 27, 2012, 9:22 pm

To complement Aaron Elkin's mystery above, I read Vitali Vitaliev's section of Little is the Light entitled Gibanmamorga - an acronym for Gibralter, Andorra, Malta, Monaco and Seborga, five European mini-states that he visited in one trip. Although he confirmed all of Elkin's observations about Gibralter, and in a more entertaining way, curiously it also sounded like a less appealing destination. I have to admit that Vitaliev doesn't paint a flattering picture of any of the mini-states he visited so I'm not placing much faith in his opinions.

Nov 1, 2012, 11:26 am

Just added another book for England. I Am Half Sick of Shadows is another winner by Alan Bradley starring my favourite sleuth, Flavia de Luce. This series remind me of the books that sparked my love of mysteries when I was very young - except this is the grown-up version. Fabulous.

Nov 5, 2012, 5:56 pm

The Worst Thing by Aaron Elkin just filled the Iceland slot. It was an excellent mystery full of suspense with a lovely twist at the end. Recommended.

Nov 7, 2012, 6:27 pm

Because my first Finland choice was such a dud, I added Fair play by Tove Jansson which I enjoyed very much. Fair play is really a series of linked vignettes that form a short novel, or novella. The stories are about two women who live together, each having a studio: Jonna paints and Mari writes. The topics are about everyday life, nothing out of the ordinary, but in fact beautiful stories relevant in any close friendship.

Nov 10, 2012, 2:09 pm

Kosovo: Charlie Johnson in the flames by Michael Ignatieff

Charlie is a journalist in the war zone of the Balkans. He witnessed a brutal attack on a woman, who was deliberately set on fire. Although he was able to put out the flames and get her to medical help the event was devastating for Charlie. He becomes obsessed with finding and killing the perpetrator.

Ignatieff portrays the horrors of war in an introspective way, not with the broad strokes of daily news, information that ironically is supplied by crews like Charlie's. This is a short read, but hard to put down. Recommended.

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Nov 12, 2012, 6:42 pm

There are short parts set in England, the bulk of it is set in the Balkans. It's been assumed that Ignatieff meant Kosovo and although I was on the lookout for place names, I didn't find any I recognized. This Quill & Quire review mentions the topic:

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Nov 13, 2012, 1:03 pm

The Black Mountain by Rex Stout was set in Montenegro and is the first book I've read by Rex Stout. I believe it was unusual for Nero Wolfe to leave home to solve crimes and in this case he travelled far and with considerable difficulty and discomfort. I'm looking forward to some of the more typical stories set in New York.

Editado: Nov 16, 2012, 2:22 pm

Thanks to a pointer from thornton37814 I was able to add A Freak of Freedom by J. Theodore Bent a fairly comprehensive history of San Marino up until the date it was published in 1879. I found the second half more interesting, from the middle ages onwards.

One passage that I found particularly enjoyable was regarding the election of Councillors: After preliminaries "the whole Council go in great pomp, accompanied by music and soldiers, to the parish church towards the evening of the day on which the election takes place, their attendants carrying torches to add to the solemnity of the scene. Here the parish priest is in attendance, and having read aloud the names on the three lots, encloses them in three ballot balls, and puts them into a silver urn, shakes it well, and then, in the presence of the assembled multitude, a little boy about eight years old extracts one of the lots..."

It was useful to have Wikipedia beside me as I read, to fill out some details on individuals mentioned. Altogether, an interesting read and a unique country.

Nov 16, 2012, 3:33 pm

Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. It wasn't a bad book for a country where your options are limited for this challenge.

Nov 17, 2012, 2:35 am

It was surprisingly well-written. I expected a more grandiose style typical of the 19th century, and instead it was pretty straightforward. Not bad at all considering the absence of options.

Nov 17, 2012, 2:08 pm

Finishing my book for Serbia kept me up until 4am - truly unputdownable. Each time I thought the story was wrapping up I realized there were still too many pages to go, and sure enough, there was another twist in the story. Edward Hammond, a surgeon was asked to perform a liver transplant in Serbia for a very generous fee. Hammond had no idea that the recipient was a vile gangster who went on to kill thousands and nine years later is now on trial at the international court in The Hague. His family want the fortune that he stashed in the Caymans and blackmail the surgeon into helping.

Although there are parts set in England, The Hague, Italy, and Switzerland, the topic is always Serbia through memories or planning and it is filled with Serbian characters. I'd no trouble making this a choice for Serbia. Highly recommended.

Nov 17, 2012, 2:49 pm

Glad you'd recommend it but...what was it? lol

Nov 17, 2012, 2:58 pm

Ooops! I posted the title in the list at the top of the thread (#7) and left it out here. Sorry. That's what happens after a marathon read into the wee hours!

It was Blood Count by Robert Goddard.

Editado: Nov 17, 2012, 3:02 pm

hahaha no worries, we've all been there. :P And I figured you probably had mentioned it somewhere at some point, but wasn't sure where that was, lol. It definitely sounds interesting. :)

Nov 21, 2012, 7:02 pm

Another one for Turkey: The Amazing Mrs Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman. A fanciful but fun romp filled with secret agents, gypsies, and villains. It sounds like a very beautiful place.

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Nov 22, 2012, 1:09 pm

Yes, they are great fun. I have another couple lined up for Albania and Bulgaria. I'm glad I kept them to brighten up our grey November days.

Nov 22, 2012, 4:43 pm

Wow, Vivienne you are almost finished with your European travel. I'm pretty far behind.

Nov 25, 2012, 11:44 pm

Ameise1, the closer I get to the end, the more books are on my tbr shelf - shelves actually. Only 11 countries left to visit, but over sixty tbr books and more on the way.

I've just added The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell for Latvia another excellent author that I wouldn't have picked up except for this challenge and who will now be added to my favourite authors list. It was very well-written, managing to cover complex details intelligently while maintaining the suspense throughout. Excellent.

Nov 26, 2012, 7:09 am

You are doing well. I finished Monaco over Thanksgiving and have Andorra remaining. I had to order the Andorra book via ILL so I hope it arrives soon. I enjoyed The Dogs of Riga too.

Nov 29, 2012, 4:40 pm

The Vatican Rip by Jonathan Gash is a mystery set in Vatican City that involves the theft of an antique table from the Vatican. A highly improbable plot, but the information about antiques - both forgeries and the real thing - give some interest to Gash's stories. Too bad Lovejoy isn't more likeable.

Nov 29, 2012, 5:37 pm

I love the Lovejoy TV series. I haven't read any of the books, although I have one in my TBR stash that I picked up at a library book sale a couple of years ago. How different are the books from the series?

Nov 29, 2012, 7:01 pm

I've only seen a couple of episodes in the Lovejoy tv series but liked them more than the books. In The Vatican Rip he walloped an old lady which was startling. It didn't seem to have any adverse effect so I like to think it didn't hold any force. However, it did cloud my opinion, but not enough to put me off trying another one.

Nov 29, 2012, 7:12 pm

The TV Lovejoy would never have done that! He was the "charming rogue" type.

Nov 29, 2012, 10:23 pm

In this case the old lady was just as much a rogue as Lovejoy!

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Nov 30, 2012, 1:07 pm

Oh good, it was a fun read.

Editado: Dez 3, 2012, 10:47 am

After getting a short way into Greg Rucka's Walking Dead set in Georgia, I thought I might have to abandon the book as I would be unable to deal with the heartbreaking topic of human trafficking. This proved not to be the case because Rucka handles it so well in this action-packed thriller. In parts he describes the factual circumstances that contributes to what amounts to modern day slavery. Kudos to Rucka for raising awareness of the topic.

Dez 3, 2012, 8:13 am

I'm not sure if I could have read that one or not, Vivienne. Glad it was handled in a manner that worked for you.

Dez 3, 2012, 11:03 am

The author admitted in the acknowledgements that his research for this book was the most painful he'd undertaken. The continuous action and the larger-than-life hero, who could handle everything thrown at him, made the story readable. This sort of removed some of the horror of reality.

Dez 5, 2012, 8:12 pm

Piper on the mountain by Ellis Peters is a mystery set in Slovakia involving four Oxford students on a European vacation in the 1960s. The descriptions of Slovakia were so beautifully written that it was tempting to go back and re-read sentences or even full paragraphs. The plot wasn't out of the ordinary but the writing made up for it and made it a very enjoyable read.

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Dez 6, 2012, 11:51 am

I've read several of the Brother Cadfael series and loved them so I was happy to find this book in the public library. It is obvious that Ellis Peters is very familiar with Slovakia and that she loves the country. Glad you were able to add another to your European settings list.

Dez 7, 2012, 4:31 pm

I'm wishing that I'd read the Ellis Peters book for Slovakia.

Dez 7, 2012, 6:29 pm

Of course you can always add another book! I looked at Katerina, your choice for Slovakia, but when I remembered Ellis Peters was the Cadfael author, there was no contest.

Dez 7, 2012, 10:54 pm

Katerina was good, but if I'd come across the Ellis Peters one, I would have done as you did! Maybe I can use the Ellis Peters title in my "St. Elsewhere" category for the 2013 Category Challenge. If it's set in Slovakia instead of the U.K., it should fit!

Dez 8, 2012, 11:18 am

Great idea! You very cleverly made those categories flexible.

Dez 18, 2012, 1:28 am

It's been a busy couple of weeks so my Luxembourg choice took longer than usual to finish. It was a terrific story of espionage, counter-espionage, and double-crossing. For such a complex plot The Expats by Chris Pavone is so expertly written that it is easy to follow and is entirely riveting. I will think of it every time I make an online transaction.

Editado: Dez 23, 2012, 10:39 pm

I loved Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen mystery And then you die set in Italy. I will be looking out for anything else I can find by Dibdin. What I liked best was that Zen was telling his story from an Italian's point of view. Being unable to speak English, he missed a clue as he wasn't able to translate an English slogan on a T-shirt. In fact, he was contemptuous of the popular use of English on clothing. His horror of non-Italian food was quite funny and easily imagined. Subtle humour mixed with the suggestion that the reader knew more than the detective - a winning combination.

Dez 24, 2012, 7:34 am

That sounds like a fun read :)

Dez 31, 2012, 2:06 am

Just finished The Brass Dolphin by Caroline Harvey, a pseudonym of Joanna Trollope's whose books I have always enjoyed. This one is set in Malta during WWII. The wartime story is realistic without being graphic, even though Malta suffered so much because of it being headquarters for the British fleet. True to Trollope, it is essentially about human relationships. In this case with just a smattering of romance thrown in. Combined with various articles and stories that came to my attention because of my interest in the book, I picked up a lot of information about Malta. In my opinion, always the sign of a good book.

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Dez 31, 2012, 9:10 am

I was glad that was the Malta book I chose. I enjoyed it.

Editado: Jan 7, 2013, 2:01 am

For Macedonia two books: The Gates of Hell by Paul Doherty and Alexander the Great by Jacob Abbott. The first is an account of Alexander taking Halicarnassus with a murder mystery thrown in. The story is atmospheric, dramatic and exciting. What makes it so interesting is that the story is about historic figures that have become legendary. The murder mystery fits in very well with the accurate battle description of 334BC. I read Abbott's book in conjunction with the first to get some sort of feeling for the times and the person. Abbott's manner is plain, easily understood and informative without going into too much detail. It would be a perfect book to introduce Alexander in schools. I enjoyed both very much.

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Jan 7, 2013, 2:59 am

Good, I'm sure you will like the Alexander mysteries. I thought it was going to be similar to the Cadfael mysteries but it was quite different, more of a "guy" story. I enjoy the historical aspect. I gave it 4 stars.

Editado: Jan 14, 2013, 3:34 pm

Estonia: Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson

Robinson is a master storyteller who has created excellent characters, complex yet coherent plots, and a style that is difficult to fault. Inspector Banks and Annie Cabot are professional and likeable. This book introduces a new investigator from Professional Standards, a polished "icy" blonde, Joanna Passero. She accompanies Banks to Estonia to investigate the murder of a police officer that appears to be linked to an old investigation of an English girl who went missing in Estonia. It was interesting to get to know something about Estonia, a place of which we hear little. All round, an excellent read, with lots of twists and turns. Highly recommended.

Jan 14, 2013, 5:54 pm

Sounds like your Estonia read was better than mine. I only rated mine 2.5 stars. I'm adding yours to my wish list.

Jan 14, 2013, 11:39 pm

I enjoyed it and gave it four stars. I'm probably short-changing Robinson as I couldn't actually come up with anything wrong with it, only that I save five stars for books I consider exceptional.

Jan 15, 2013, 9:19 am

I understand. There are books that just aren't 5 star books which are extremely good. For me, most books in series don't earn this because the character develops over time. I made an exception with one of Louise Penny's books because it just blew me away. However, most five star reads for me are stand-alones.

Jan 15, 2013, 12:51 pm

I've only read one Louise Penny book and while it wasn't bad, I never tried another. I must look for the one that you awarded 5 stars.

Jan 15, 2013, 3:55 pm

It's Bury Your Dead, Vivienne. However, you need to read The Brutal Telling first, to which I think I gave 4.5 stars. The story lines build, and you really do need to read them in that order.

Jan 15, 2013, 7:34 pm

Oh good! Thanks for the advice and information.

Jan 15, 2013, 11:57 pm

France again, with The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle. Like all of Mayle's yarns, this was such a fun read. A multi-million dollar wine collection is stolen from an LA connoisseur and the investigation moves to France. The exquisite French food and wine described throughout the story was tantalizing even to this long-time vegetarian teetotaller!

Jan 16, 2013, 8:33 am

I loved that one too. I spent some time in Marseille and so the reading was a kind of double fun :-)

Jan 16, 2013, 1:13 pm

Isn't it a lot of fun reading a story set in a familiar place? After reading Mayle's book I'd love to visit Marseille. I'm currently enjoying Safe House by Chris Ewan set in the Isle of Man, a place I have visited many times.

Jan 16, 2013, 4:23 pm

Marseille is wonderful especially in spring.

Jan 16, 2013, 10:00 pm

I've read several by Mayle and have several more on the TBR list.

Jan 17, 2013, 12:51 am

I'll probably add more to my tbr list as well.

Jan 18, 2013, 2:41 pm

Isle of Man: Safe House by Chris Ewan When he wakes up in hospital after a motor cycle crash, Rob Hale is told the woman he was riding with doesn't exist. In this thriller mystery no one is what they seem, or what they claim to be. Is there anyone to be trusted?

This book is set on the Isle of Man, famous for the TT motor cycle race. An excellent book, great characters, it was hard to put down.

Jan 18, 2013, 5:06 pm

Sounds very good. I've put it on my wish list.

Jan 22, 2013, 6:07 pm

Portugal: Small Memories by Jose Saramago

Small Memories is a slim volume of Saramago's nostalgic recollections of his youth and family in the village of Azinhaga and in Lisbon. Some memories occur to him as he writes, which creates the pleasant sense of a conversation. The style is simple and frank. His memories of poverty and undemonstrative family relationships are particularly poignant. I want to return to the past and hug this child.

Jan 23, 2013, 1:19 pm

Albania The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman is the first in the series and introduces Mrs Pollifax not only to the reader but to the CIA. It is a very entertaining, light, spy story yet provides lots of information about the political state of the times between America, Russia, China and the Balkans. This was a lot of fun.

I'm glad Mrs Pollifax made so many missions. I have one more book in the series (Bulgaria) that I'm looking forward to reading.

Jan 23, 2013, 1:23 pm

I wish I could remember which books in the Mrs. Pollifax series I've read, but they were read before I was tracking reading.

Jan 23, 2013, 1:36 pm

I may have read one or two many years ago, so long ago that I had completely forgotten anything about Mrs Pollifax, even that she was a spy. She makes for a fun interlude.

Jan 29, 2013, 4:43 pm

Moldova: No going back to Moldova by Anna Robertson

A charming and fascinating autobiography. Robertson, born in 1905, recounts her childhood in Moldova and growing up in the early part of the 20th century as borders shifted like sand, leaving her family regarded as "foreigners" in their home country. This is a knowledgable and interesting work that provides historical details that are not often available in one book, and certainly not with Robertson's appealing style.

Jan 30, 2013, 8:06 am

That sounds like an interesting Moldova read!

Jan 31, 2013, 7:44 pm

It was a surprisingly interesting and pleasant read. I'm amazed that Robertson remembered the details of her childhood with such clarity. It also helped me understand the shifting borders during the 20th century.

Fev 8, 2013, 2:53 am


Andorra by Peter Cameron is a very atmospheric story. The crisp, correct language, just on the threshold of stilted, creates the feeling that one's frail dream is about to be disrupted. For the reader knows there are details being withheld, but what are they? This is a beautifully written story with a surprising twist at the end. I will watch for more books by Cameron.

Fev 8, 2013, 2:54 am

Only one more country to visit :-)

Fev 8, 2013, 7:11 am

You're going to finish before I do. I'm still stuck in Portugal! Meanwhile, I've started another geographic challenge and I'm busy reading my way across the Commonwealth.

Fev 8, 2013, 11:24 am

You are almost there!

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Fev 8, 2013, 1:38 pm

cbl_tn: I found Portugal difficult. If it helps, Between the stillness and the grove is mostly set in Portugal, although I used it for my Armenia choice. I bought a couple of books for Portugal but wasn't happy with them. Good luck in the Commonwealth. I don't think our little public library would be of much help in that challenge. But I will lurk in the group to see how it goes.

I've still got a stack of Europe books on my TBR shelves that I might list at the end of this thread although I'm hoping they will be on my ROOT 2013 Read Our Own Tomes thread. I have another Mrs Pollifax for Bulgaria, so that will be a fun finish.

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Fev 8, 2013, 5:27 pm

Oh absolutely, I'll still be lurking here. I've loved this challenge. And I've made up my mind to join the Commonwealth challenge (after reading cbl_tn's message #161) because this one was so much fun. Glad to hear you can recommend Mrs Pollifax in Bulgaria. I started it some time ago but when it mentioned one of the other titles I had lined up, I thought I'd better read them in series order in case I got a "spoiler".

Editado: Fev 13, 2013, 3:09 am

Last country!

Bulgaria: The Elusive Mrs Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman This was my favourite Mrs Pollifax and a fun way to end the challenge.

From the flights of fancy and over-the-top adventures of Mrs Pollifax to the heartache of Between shades of gray this challenge has been an adventure and an education. I am so glad I was able to participate.

Some of the most memorable books:

Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys
Floating in my mother's palm by Ursula Hegi
A red herring without mustard and I am half-sick of shadows by Alan Bradley
The keeper of lost causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen
The Sojourn by Alan Cumyn
Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti
The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore
The expats by Chris Pavone
The dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell
Safe House by Chris Ewan

I still have the following books on my tbr shelf that I hope to get to soon:

Belgium The Pretty How Town by Nicolas Freeling
Denmark The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen
France Freeze Frame by Peter May
Ireland Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran
Ireland Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy
Italy The terracotta dog by Andrea Camilleri
Italy Cosi Fan Tutti by Michael Dibdin
Italy End Games by Michael Dibdin
Norway Nemesis by Jo Nesbo
Portugal A small death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson
Spain Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom

The numerous books still on the tbr list for the United Kingdom will now be added to my Commonwealth Challenge.

I will continue to check the Europe Endless group postings to see how my fellow travellers are getting along. I hope everyone else enjoys the journey as much as I did.

Fev 13, 2013, 7:06 am

Congratulations on finishing the challenge!

Fev 13, 2013, 8:03 am

Congrats! Absolutely fantastic!!!

Fev 13, 2013, 8:42 am


Editado: Jul 31, 2016, 8:27 am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Fev 13, 2013, 12:48 pm

Congratulations on joining those of us who have finished and are sticking around!

Fev 13, 2013, 1:22 pm

Thank you all.

I was looking forward to adding the last country to my map at the top of the thread but the site wasn't accessible. Although it is back today, the map is no longer necessary.