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REVIEW; The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Spring Bride (Chance Sisters #3)

by Anne Gracie 


A dog in need of rescue brings together a young debutante and a mysterious stranger in this regency charmer from the beloved Anne Gracie. For fans of Mary Balogh and Madeline Hunter.

On the eve of the London Season, Jane Chance is about to make her entrance into high society. And after a childhood riddled with poverty and hardship, Jane intends to make a good, safe, sensible marriage. All goes according to plan until a dark, dangerous vagabond helps her rescue a dog.

Zachary Black is all kinds of unsuitable—a former spy, now in disguise, he’s wanted for murder. His instructions: to lie low until his name is cleared. But Zach has never followed the rules, and he wants Jane Chance for his own.

If that means blazing his way into London society, in whatever guise suits him, that’s what he’ll do. Jane knows she shouldn’t fall in love with this unreliable, if devastatingly attractive, rogue. But Zach is determined—and he‘s a man accustomed to getting what he wants.


Anne Gracie is my favourite living romance author. Her Regency love stories are a perfect blend of romance, humour and pathos, and I never fail to finish with a lump in my throat. The Spring Bride is the third in a series following the romantic entanglements of four young women struggling to make their way in the world. The series began with The Autumn Bride, and continued with The Winter Bride – I would definitely start at the beginning. This one involves a rescued mutt, a gentleman-turned spy, a murder mystery, and a girl who fears to fall in love. Can’t wait for the next in the series!

REVIEW: Children of War by Martin Walker

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Children of War (Bruno, Chief of Police #7)

by Martin Walker


Bruno, chef de police in the French town of St Denis, is already busy with a case when the body of an undercover French Muslim cop is found in the woods, a man who called Bruno for help only hours before.

But Bruno’s sometime boss and rival, the Brigadier, doesn’t see this investigation as a priority – there are bigger issues at stake.

Bruno has other ideas.

Meanwhile, a Muslim youth named Sami turns up at a French army base in Afghanistan hoping to get home to St Denis. One of Bruno’s old army comrades helps to smuggle Sami back to France, but the FBI aren’t far behind. Then an American woman appears in St Denis with a warrant for Sami’s extradition.

Bruno must unravel these multiple mysteries, amidst pressure from his bosses, and find his own way to protect his town and its people.


I’ve really been enjoying this series of contemporary murder mysteries set in the Dordogne in the south-west of France. 

The first few books were gentle, warm and character-driven with lots of descriptions of Bruno cooking delicious meals and looking for truffles in the forest with his dog. 

The later books have become more like hard-edged thrillers, with a bit of sex and a lot of political intrigue thrown in. I am still enjoying them, but not as much. Bruno was such a lovable character to begin with, but now he’s bed-hopping a little too much for my taste. I’d like less torture and more romance and feasting. 

Ah, well! Still a very enjoyable read.

REVIEW: Outlaw by Angus Donald

Monday, October 05, 2015

Outlaw (The Outlaw Chronicles #1)

by Angus Donald 



When he's caught stealing, young Alan Dale is forced to leave his family and go to live with a notorious band of outlaws in Sherwood Forest.

Their leader is the infamous Robin Hood. A tough, bloodthirsty warrior, Robin is more feared than any man in the country. And he becomes a mentor for Alan; with his fellow outlaws, Robin teaches Alan how to fight - and how to win.

But Robin is a ruthless man - and although he is Alan's protector, if Alan displeases him, he could also just as easily become his murderer ...


This novel of Robin Hood has a tagline ‘Meet the Godfather of Sherwood Forest’, promising lots of gore and violence.  The book delivers, with an unflinching look at how the famous Robin of Locksley may have ruled his criminal empire. It has a lot more to it, however. The book sweeps along with an unrelenting pace, filled with sharply drawn chase-and-battle scenes. The narrator is a young man, Alan Dale, who swears allegiance to Robin after he is condemned to death for stealing a pie. The historical setting is fabulously well done, and the characters all complex and well-drawn. I can really recommend it for anyone who loves a gripping, fast-paced historical thriller.

REVIEW: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)

by Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym), J.K. Rowling


A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. 

The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man. 

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.


I really enjoyed The Silkworm when I read it earlier this year, and so I grabbed The Cuckoo’s Calling when I saw it. It is the first in the series of Robert Galbraith’s contemporary crime novels (Robert Galbraith being, of course, the pseudonym of J.K. Rowling). 

I enjoyed this one even more. It introduced Cormoran Strike, one-legged private detective, and his pretty red-headed sidekick Robin, in a compelling and surprising murder mystery that shines a spotlight on the murky world of modelling. 

The victim is Lula Landry, a young black model, who died after plummeting from her apartment one bitter winter night. Her adopted brother refuses to believe it is suicide, and hires Cormoran to investigate. 

I love murder mysteries in which the reader pits their wits against the detective and tries to guess the murderer, and I also love murder mysteries with strong and interesting characters, so this series is right up my alley. I have already pre-ordered the third in the series!

REVIEW: Kaspar, Prince of Cats by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Kaspar: Prince of Cats

by Michael Morpurgo, Michael Foreman (Illustrator)


Kaspar the cat first came to The Savoy Hotel in a basket - Johnny Trott knows, because he was the one who carried him in. Johnny was a bell-boy, you see, and he carried all of Countess Kandinsky's things to her room.

But Johnny didn't expect to end up with Kaspar on his hands forever, and nor did he count on making friends with Lizziebeth, a spirited American heiress. Pretty soon, events are set in motion that will take Johnny - and Kaspar - all around the world, surviving theft, shipwreck and rooftop rescues along the way. Because everything changes with a cat like Kaspar around. After all, he's Kaspar Kandinsky, Prince of Cats, a Muscovite, a Londoner and a New Yorker, and as far as anyone knows, the only cat to survive the sinking of the Titanic ...

"I've done a picture of the ship we're sailing home on next week," said Lizziebeth. "Papa says it's the biggest, fastest ship in the whole wide world. She's called the Titanic. Isn't she the most magnificent ship you ever saw?"

"This story was inspired by Kaspar, the legendary cat of the Savoy Hotel in London. But he's a living legend. I know, I've seen him ..." Michael Morpurgo 


This is my daughter’s favourite book, and she returns to it again and again. I was curious to know why, so I wrested it from her and sat down to read. 

It really is a delightful book, gorgeously illustrated by Michael Foreman. It tells the story of Johnny Trott, a bellboy at the Savoy, who makes friends with a cat named Kaspar. ‘From his whiskers to his paws he was black all over, jet black and sleek and shiny and beautiful. He knew he was beautiful too. He moved like silk, his head held high, his tail swishing as he went.’ 

Kaspar belongs to a Russian countess who befriends Johnny, and introduces him to a world of beauty and art and music. When the countess tragically dies, Johnny must keep Kaspar safe from the horrible head housekeeper, called ‘Skullface’ by the hotel staff. 

He is helped by the daughter of a rich American who is staying at the Savoy. They have all sorts of adventures – including escaping the sinking of the Titanic – before finding happiness and safety in America. I asked my daughter why she loves it so much, and she said, ‘because it’s about a cat, and a boy and a girl who save it, and because it makes you sad one minute, then happy the next.’ 


INTERVIEW: Hazel Gaynor, author of The Girl Who came Home

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hazel Gaynor is the author of a heart-rending, yet ultimately uplifting, novel about the Titanic and the impact of its sinking upon one of the survivors, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME. She joins me today to discuss her inspirations for the novel.  

Are you a daydreamer too?

I’m actually a very practical person, so not a huge daydreamer. That said, I’m always conscious of my inner-writer and often find my thoughts drifting back to the work in progress. An unavoidable part of the job!


Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I guess I have, although I didn’t always realise it. I loved reading since I was a young child and have always dabbled in creative writing in some form or another. Even when I lived in Australia for a year, I completed a diploma in children’s’ writing through the Australian College of Journalism. After leaving my corporate career in 2009 to look after my children, I began to tap back into my creative side, initially writing a parenting blog which led to writing freelance for the local and national press. Gradually, my writing began to get noticed and my ambition to write a novel finally felt like something I could achieve. My love of writing was always in me, I just needed to find the book I wanted to write. It took two children, redundancy, a lot of self-belief and a very famous ship to finally embark on writing my first novel. I feel very lucky to have found something I love working at.

Tell me about ‘The Girl Who Came Home'.

THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME tells the story of a young Irish woman, Maggie Murphy, who reluctantly leaves her Irish home and her sweetheart, Séamus, to start a new life in America with her aunt. Along with twelve others from their small parish, they travel together on RMS Titanic. Seventy years later, Maggie confides in her great-granddaughter, Grace, sharing her experience of the traumatic events of April, 1912. Maggie’s revelations have far-reaching repercussions for them both. It was an incredibly emotional book to research, and to write.

I originally self-published the novel as an eBook in April 2012, to coincide with the centenary of the sinking of Titanic. A year later, it was discovered by an agent based in New York, which led to my first publishing contract with HarperCollins. THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was re-published in April 2014, followed by my second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS in February 2015. 

How did you get the first flash of inspiration for this book?

I’ve been fascinated with Titanic since I was a teenager and the wreckage was first discovered. When I started my research for the novel, I came across the record of a survivor from a small parish in County Mayo, Ireland. From there, I discovered the history of a group of Irish emigrants – now known locally as the Addergoole Fourteen - who travelled together on Titanic. I knew immediately that I’d found the inspiration for my novel. I wanted to explore the experience of a third class passenger on Titanic, the aftermath of the disaster and how such an event can have far-reaching repercussions on a survivor’s life. Through telling Maggie’s story, I hope to share with readers an aspect of the Titanic disaster they might not have previously considered.

How extensively do you plan your novels?

I’m not a huge planner, although I do always have a fairly clear idea of my main characters and the arc of the story. I will usually write sample chapters and a detailed outline for my editor, but much will change from there! I love the creative freedom of seeing where my characters will go and how the story will unfold. I find it too restrictive to write to a pre-determined plan. Life rarely works that way, and neither do my novels! 

Do you ever use dreams as a source of inspiration?

I don’t use my dreams as such, but I definitely work things out in my subconscious thoughts. Those silent hours are so vital for letting early ideas percolate and for solving plot issues when you are in the depths of re-writes and edits.


Where do you write, and when?

During term time I am at my desk in the attic, Monday to Friday, from 9am-2pm, while the children are at school. I spend this time writing, researching, promoting, updating my website – any number of writing-related tasks. When I’m writing early drafts, I try to spend all my writing time just writing, and use the evenings to focus on admin/interviews etc. In the early stages of first drafts, I might go to a coffee shop or a library for a change of scenery, but when I’m getting deep into the story I really need to be surrounded by all my research notes and books - aka the clutter on my desk. I try not to write at weekends, but when the pressure is on, it happens. When I’m not writing, I’m constantly thinking about my characters and figuring our plot issues. They often unravel themselves when I’m out walking, or in the shower! I do try to maintain some structure to my writing, but during school holidays I just have to grab whatever time I can. Often this is early in the morning or late at night.

What is your favourite part of writing?

I love all the different stages in various ways, but there is something very special about the start of a new book – blank pages, endless possibilities and that first surge of energy that always comes with a new idea. I also love editing and re-shaping my early ideas, and of course it is always a surprise and a joy to hear of people reading your book and connecting with your characters. It can sometimes take around two years from those initial ideas to the book being on the shelf, so reader feedback is always welcome and very much appreciated.


What do you do when you get blocked?

I procrastinate terribly on social media or start making Pinterest boards from all my research images. I’m very good at convincing myself that this is all time well spent until THE FEAR subsides! I also go for walks or meet friends for coffee. I’ve learned that nothing can be gained from sitting there beating myself up. Often stepping away from the book is all that is needed to fall in love with it again. 

How do you keep your well of inspiration full?

I’m constantly tuning in to possibilities for future books. Something I see, something I read or overhear often leads to those words: ‘there’s a book in that’. I keep a bookmark for inspiring ideas online and a notebook of articles, images etc. I have lots of ideas for books I’d love to write so hopefully the well won’t run dry for a good while yet.


Do you have any rituals that help you to write?

Unfortunately not. I’m really not a great one for rituals and regime apart from showing up at the desk every morning and getting on with it. It’s as simple and as unglamorous as that! As Neil Gaiman famously said: ‘This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it is done. It’s that easy, and that hard.’ 

Who are ten of your favourite writers?

I try to keep an open mind when it comes to reading and will try any author and any genre, but of course I do have my favourites who I happily return to time and again. These are Philippa Gregory, Rose Tremain, Kate Mosse and Sarah Waters and in terms of classics I love Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. I have enjoyed many recent debuts, particularly by Jessie Burton and Hannah Kent and I’m excited to see what they write next.

What do you consider to be good writing? 

Good writing is really re-writing, taking those early ideas and themes and building on them to create something complete and memorable. Good writing is writing that is honest – that comes from the writer’s heart, that they really feel passionate about. That is the writing that will take the reader into another world so that they forget they are reading at all. 

What is your advice for someone dreaming of being a writer too?

My advice would be to write what you really want to write – not what you think you should be writing. Think about what gets you excited, something you will still be passionate about in five, six, twenty years’ time, when (hopefully) people are still discovering your book and want to talk to you about it. Also, finish what you start – don’t abandon projects half way through. And read. Read as much as you possibly can.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished my edits on my third novel THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY, which will be published in summer 2016. This novel is set in London in the 1920s and tells the story of a maid at The Savoy hotel who longs to dance on the West End stage. I’m very excited for everyone to meet my leading ladies, Dolly and Loretta.

I’m also thrilled to be one of nine authors who have contributed to FALL OF POPPIES, an anthology of stories set around Armistice Day in the Great War. The book will be published next March by William Morrow. 

And I’m in the early stages of thinking about my fourth book. I have an idea which I am extremely excited about!

Thanks so much, Hazel! I must say your new book looks amazing - I'm adding it to my list of must-reads.

REVIEW: The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Girl Who Came Home

by Hazel Gaynor 


A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman. . . .

Ireland, 1912 . . .

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

Chicago, 1982 . . .

Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her great-grandmother Maggie shares the painful secret about Titanic that she's harbored for almost a lifetime, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads both her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

Inspired by true events, The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy's impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.


This a bittersweet, delicate novel which moves between Chicago, 1982, and Ireland, 1912. A young American woman Grace discovers that her grandmother Maggie is a survivor of the Titanic, and asks her to tell her story.  Maggie was one of fourteen Irish emigrants to leave a single village to sail on the Titanic. They all have hopes and fears for the new life they are sailing towards, and many are leaving behind friends and loved ones. Hazel Gaynor deftly moves back and forth between the two narrative threads, showing how grief and loss can cast its shadow over lives, and how important it is to seize love when you find it. 

REVIEW: The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico, illustrated by Angela Barrett

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Snow Goose – Paul Gallico (illustrated by Angela Barrett)

The Blurb:
A stunning new edition of a beloved children’s classic.

On the desolate Essex marshes, a young girl, Fritha, comes to seek help from Philip Rhayader, a recluse who lives in an abandoned lighthouse. She carries in her arms a wounded snow goose that has been storm-tossed across the Atlantic from Canada. Fritha is frightened of Rhayader, but he is gentler than his appearance suggests and nurses the goose back to health. Over the following months and years, Fritha visits the lighthouse when the snow goose is there. And every summer, when it flies away, Thayader is left alone once more.

My Thoughts:

The Snow Goose is set in the years running up to the evacuation of Dunkirk in the Second World War. Originally published in 1940 in the Saturday Evening Post, it was brought out in book form the following year by Knopf, Michael Joseph and M&S simultaneously. It won the prestigious O Henry prize that same year and has been continually in print ever since. The Snow Goose has inspired a number of musical scores and albums, has been made into two feature films and moved generations of readers. A new feature film will be released in the coming year.

Beautifully written, with a powerful ending, and breathtakingly illustrated, this is an exquisite edition of Gallico’s masterpiece. 

I remember reading this beautiful book when I was a child. It’s the story of a young crippled man, a girl, and a snow goose in 1940s Essex, in the lead-up to World War II. It’s a story of kindness and friendship, of the beauty of nature and our need to protect it, and of the importance of not judging by appearances. It is also a love story. Philip Rhavader is a hunchback, shunned by all, who looks after hurt and injured animals. He makes friends with a young girl named Fritha who brings him a snow goose to tend. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, he falls in love with her but cannot speak of what is in his heart. Then the Second World War breaks out, and Philip sails across to France to help rescue the thousands of soldiers stranded at Dunkirk. As a child, the book made a strong impression on me, but I had not read it in years. When I saw this lovely new edition, with exquisite illustrations by Angela Barrett, I had to buy it for my daughter.

SPOTLIGHT: Best Books on Berlin at War

Friday, September 25, 2015

My novel THE BEAST'S GARDEN is a retelling of the Grimm brothers' version of 'Beauty & the Beast' set in Nazi Germany. 

The story takes place between Kristallnacht in November 1938, and the fall of Berlin in April 1948, with most of the action centred on Berlin, the nerve centre of the Third Reich. 

I read a great many books to help me imagine what life must have been like in Berlin during those tumultuous years. Here is a list of those that helped me most:

BERLIN AT WAR - Roger Moorhouse

This book rarely left my desk for the months and months it took me to research and write THE BEAST'S GARDEN. Lucidly written and a mine of information, it is probably the best book on what it was like for ordinary Germans to live at the epicentre of Hitler's war. I can recommend this to anyone!

THE FALL OF BERLIN 1945 - Antony Beevor 

The story of the Fall of Berlin is one of terror and betrayal, destruction and bloodshed, rape and revenge, and is not one for the faint-hearted. Antony Beevor has examined every aspect of the events leading up to the cataclysmic destruction of Berlin in April 1945. The book is incredibly well-researched, and beautifully written, but is best for those who have already extensively studied the history of Germany in the Second World War, or those with a particular acute interest in warfare and battles - every manoeuvre, every push and retreat, is given space on this book's pages. Perfect for me, since I needed a day-by-day breakdown of the city's fall!   

INSIDE HITLER'S GERMANY: Life Under the Third Reich - Matthew Hughes and Chris Mann

A broad and accessible look at life in the Third Reich, with lots of pictures and breakout boxes. Useful and informative, with a good bibliography.

VICTORY IN EUROPE - Gerald Simons (with the editors of Time-Life Books)   

A simple and well-illustrated look at the final months of the Second World War in Europe, with lots of maps and photographs and newspaper headlines. It is one of a whole series of Time-Life illustrated books on World War II which I bought at a second-hand booksale in an old church in the Hunter Valley (with thanks to my brother Nick who lent me the money to buy them, then carried the heavy box out to the car.)

I also read a number of memoirs of life in Berlin during the war. The most useful to me were LETTERS FROM BERLIN by Margarete Dos and Kerstin Lieff, and BERLIN DIARIES 1940-1945, by Marie Vassiltchikov.  You can read more about them here.

You can also read my blogs on Best Books on Hitler and Best Books on Jews in Nazi Germany 


SPOTLIGHT: Best Books on the German Resistance

Thursday, September 24, 2015

My novel THE BEAST'S GARDEN is a retelling of the Grimm Brothers' version of 'Beauty & the Beast', set in the underground German resistance in Nazi Berlin. I first got the idea in a liminal dream - as I drifted in the shadowlands between sleeping and waking, I saw an image of a young woman, dressed in a 1940s golden gown, singing to a nightclub full of men in black SS uniforms. I knew - I don't know how - that she was German, and a member of an underground resistance movement sworn fight against Hitler.  (You can read the whole story about that first moment of inspiration here).

I had not realised that there was a German resistance movement before.  

had heard about Sophie Scholl and the White Rose group, and knew there had been numerous attempts to assassinate Hitler, but that was the extent of my knowledge. 

I got out of bed and went down to my study to see what I could find out.  Within a day or two, I had most of the plot of THE BEAST'S GARDEN roughly planned.

Over the next few years, I read many books about the German Resistance, and I thought I would share some of them with you, if you were interested on going on to read more.

GERMANY'S UNDERGROUND: The Anti-Nazi Resistance - Allan Welsh Dulles

This is the classic account of the German Underground, written by someone who was there on the ground and published in 1947. 

Allen W. Dulles was the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Switzerland during the war. This was the predecessor of the CIA and was formed to conduct espionage behind enemy lines. He concentrates on the 1944 Generals Plot to assassinate Hitler, best known as Operation Valkyrie, but does touch upon many other resistance groups, such as the Kreisau Group. A really good place to start, as I discovered.   

OPERATION VALKYIE: The German Generals' Plot Against Hitler - Pierre Galante
This account of the Generals' Plot looks at the sequence of events from the beginning of the conspiracy to the bitter failure of the end. The Generals' Plot has been immortalised by Tom Cruise in the 2008 movie 'Valkyrie', so most people will know the basic story arc - the madness of Hitler, the growing unease at many in his army command as the Holocaust began its terrible human toll, and the repeated failed attempts to assassinate the dictator.  This is a very readable and persuasive account of the events which led to the July 1944 plot to blow up Hitler at his Wolf's Lair headquarters, and the violent aftermath of its failure. 

ON THE ROAD TO THE WOLF'S LAIR: German Resistance to Hitler - Theodore S. Hamerow
A scholarly examination of the men and women who worked to bring about the Operation Valkyrie, with many references to primary documents such as letters, diaries, and reports. It is particularly concerned with the slow awakening of conscience in the generals and other army personnel, and their individual decisions to risk their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, to kill Hitler. A fascinating but rather heavy read.

COUNTDOWN TO VALKYRIE: the July Plot to Assassinate Hitler - Nigel Jones

A very readable account of Operation Valkyrie, with a close look at the personalities of the men involved, and the chronology of the events. Very useful to me as I built my timeline!

CONFRONT! Resistance in Nazi Germany - ed. John J. Michalczyk 

A more scholarly look at the topic, with a variety of different essays each focusing on a different aspect of resistance within Germany. 

CANARIS: Hitler's Spy Chief - Richard Bassett

A biography of the fascinating and enigmatic man at the centre of the plot to assassinate Hitler - the dictator's own spy chief. Canaries was head of the Abwehr, the German secret intelligence service, yet he worked quietly for years to feed information to the Allies and  misinformation to Hitler. He paid for it with his life, just days before the liberation of the concentration camps by the Allies.  

RESISTING HITLER: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra  - Shareen Blair Brysac

RED ORCHESTRA: The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends who Resisted Hitler - Anne Nelson 

At the heart of THE BEAST'S GARDEN is the tragic story of the Red Orchestra, a circle of writers, actors, artists, journalists and academics who played a dangerous double game as they lived and worked in Berlin yet passed on secret information to the Allies. These two books were absolutely crucial to me in building my story, and I studied them again and again.  It is an absolutely fascinating and largely unknown part of German history, and I really encourage anyone interested in the German resistance to read these two books.  

BERLIN GHETTO: Herbert Baum and the Anti-Fascist Resistance - Eric Brothers

A little known circle of resisters were a group of young Jewish couples and friends who tried to blow up Goebbels' anti-Soviet exhibition, smuggling the fuses and gunpowder out of the armaments factories in which they worked as slave labour. The bomb attempt largely failed, and most paid for their defiance with their lives, but its a significant example of Jewish resistance to Hitler. 

SOPHIE SCHOLL: The Real Story of the Woman Who Defied Hitler - Frank McDonough 

The story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose group of friends is probably the most famous account of resistance in Germany, and - like so many others - it has a tragic ending. This is a really balanced and beautifully written account, and a great place to start if you want to discover more about those courageous Munich students. 

WOMEN HEROES OF WORLD WAR II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue  - Kathryn J. Atwood

A fascinating account of brave young women of many different nationalities, including Germany as well as the Netherlands, Poland, France, Denmark and the UK and US.   


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