My Poirot project and other plans

This year feels like a year for reading projects!

I’ve had the first one in mind for ages: The Poirot Project: I absolutely love the 1920s and 30s and am also rather fond of Agatha Christie! Though I have always been rather obsessed with the Poirot tv adaptations starring David Suchet, I’ve only ever read a couple of the actual books – the shame! So, I’ve decided to read at least one Poirot mystery a month; here is my plan for the next few months:

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I’m also intrigued by Christie as a person and fancy reading some non-fiction about her. Any recommendations are appreciated😉. And look at the covers for January and February – I’m in love with these vintage looking, naked hardback editions!

Project 2: World War II fiction and nonfiction: As I have German roots and have lived here in the UK for most of my life, I have a very personal interest in this time period and therefore like to read as much as I can  from both sides of the channel. I’ve built up quite a themed collection of books on my tbr shelves and would like to dedicate significant time to immerse myself properly. Here’s a list of my books so far- some I’ve already read and will review in the near future:

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Orphan Monster Spy: Matt Killen. This was on the Costa children’s category shortlist this year and is the story of a Jewish teenager, who loses everything but survives because of her Arian appearance. By chance she meets an English spy and a bond develops, leading her to enter a Nazi elite boarding school to fulfil a crucial mission.

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Heimat: Nora Krug ( Belonging is the translated title). This is Nora Krug’s memoir of her journey to discover the stories of her family’s wartime past in Nazi Germany and to understand how her life as a German woman living in America today has been shaped by her personal past and that of the German people. It is absolutely stunning in its layout – mixed media, graphic novel storytelling, significant artefacts from the past, reflection on what it is to be German…

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Dear Mrs Bird: A J Pearce. Emmy wants to become a war correspondent, to make a real difference during difficult times. But instead, by mistake,  she manages to land herself a job as a typist assistant for Mrs Bird, the agony aunt of a failing women’s magazine. She secretly begins to answer the letters deemed unsuitable by the imposing, extremely conservative Mrs Bird.

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Salt to the Sea: Ruta Sepetys. Told from multiple perspectives, this tracks the journey of several refugees desperately seeking freedom in East Prussia towards the end of World War II. A ship, the Wilhelm Gustav promises them survival…Salt to the Sea is based on a real event that I haven’t come across before.

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Ich war dabei. Geschichten gegen das Vergessen: Gudrun Pausewang. (sadly not translated into English as far as I know. A collection of short stories about childhood in the Third Reich.)

Project 3: Read some classics from on my shelves that I haven’t read before: I’ve read a fair number of classics and definitely have my favourites but I also love collecting classics (only the ones that speak to me though, you won’t find any Dickens) and so there are a fair few waiting to be read! In 2019 I want to read:

*Something by Nancy Mitford (I have Love in a Cold Climate, Don’t ask Alfred and The Pursuit of Love)

*Something by Virginia Woolf (Orlando, To the Lighthouse, The Years)

*Something by Elizabeth von Arnim (Vera, Elizabeth and her German Garden, Fräulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, The Enchanted April)

*Stella Gibbons: Westwood

*Barbara Pym: Excellent Women

Have you got any projects planned for this year? If so, tell me about them – I am loving all the booktube videos featuring reading plans for 2019 😊

P.S. I nearly forgot: Project 4: Read some German books!!! Looking through  my goodreads from last year I realised how few German books I actually read. I am a translator by profession and spend a significant amount of my days reading German as part of that. Yet somehow, I’ve near enough stopped reading in German for pleasure. This must change! So, I’ve invested in a couple of books to get me back on track:

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Die Fotografin: Petra Durst-Benning. This is the first in a new series following the adventures of Mimi Reventlow, who becomes a photographer in 1911 despite the odds being stacked against her.

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Deutsches Haus: Annette Hess. In 1963, a young translator called Eva  is asked to translate during the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trails, giving a voice to victims and learning about a time in her country’s past that she has until this point known little about. For any German TV series lovers, Hess wrote Weisensee and Ku’Damm 56/59 – so I know this is going to be brilliant.

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Nesthäkchen und der Weltkrieg: Elsy Ury. I have very fond childhood memories of my Omi reading me the Nesthäkechen series of children’s books at bedtime during my summer holidays in Bayern. It follows the life of Annemarie Braun, from being a little girl in Berlin during Kaiser times, all the way to old age. This one concerns the First World War and is the only one I don’t know – it wasn’t reprinted after World War 2 due to its nationalist content being seen as inappropriate. This version has a preface by Marianne Brentzel, who has researched the life and work of Ury in great detail.

A Cloak and Dagger Christmas

a cloak and dagger christmas 2018

So, here’s the second catch-up post for the end of last year – I’m on a roll! Though 2019 is in full swing, I really want to mention what a lovely time I had reading murder mysteries back in December. I was more than ready for some murder mystery goodness last month, so the Cloak and Dagger Christmas Challenge 2018 was absolutely perfect timing. Hosted by the lovely booktubers Kate (Kate Howe) Mel (Mel’s Bookland Adventures) and Kate (The Novel Nomad), this was such a fun way to connect with other readers, find new books and discuss old favourites. Because of course, nothing quite says Christmas like a good murder!

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The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie. This is a short story collection with 4 short Poirot cases and a Miss Marple at the end. Of course, I read it for the Christmas pudding story, and it was glorious.

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I have it as a BBC audio drama and usually listen to it throughout December each year, but I thought it was about time to actually read the words! I bought myself a Christmas pudding scented candle from Good Book Hunting to enjoy whilst reading – what a treat 😊

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A Christmas Case: A Posie Parker Novella by L B Hathaway. This is such an underrated series in my humble opinion. I’d read the first two books, Murder Offstage and Tomb of the Honey Bee, and thoroughly enjoyed them both. They are well written, witty and imaginative. Plus they are set in the 1920s and feature an independent and spirited female private detective – just my cup of tea. This novella was absolutely brilliant, my favourite Posie Parker mystery yet and, because I gobbled it up in one sitting, I had to read the next book in the series, Murder at Maypole Manor straight after!

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Another Little Christmas Murder by Lorna Nicholl Morgan. A classic crime novel written in the 1940s. Lots of snow, strangers snowed in at an old country house, a suspicious death… what’s not to love I thought. And enjoy it I did, although it just wasn’t all I hoped it to be…the characters fell a bit flat, I didn’t engage with any of them especially and there were parts of the plot that were so far flung that it took away some of my reading pleasure as it all felt rather disjointed. Nevertheless, the setting was fabulous and as we had a lukewarm Christmas here in the Midlands without a snowflake in sight, it gave me that winter feeling I craved.

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The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Arthur Conan Doyle. I listened to this on Audible with Alan Cumming as a brilliant narrator. Sherlock Holmes stories are a bit hit and miss for me and I often find myself liking the idea of them more than actually reading them. I also find that audio versions suit me far better – yes, I’ve got the collection read by Stephen Fry (that man could read me the shipping forecast and I would be happy). Anyway, this was a short, quirky and entertaining story, perfect for a cosy listen on Boxing Day with a glass of port and a rather too much cheese 😉

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Last but definitely not least, I enjoyed my yearly re-listen to the audio book version of Mistletoe and Murder, one of the Murder Most Unladylike books by the very talented Robin Stevens. It is one of my favourites from the series so far and the descriptions of Oxford and Christmas time make my heart sing each time I listen. This is middle grade fiction at its finest, set in my favourite period of history, the 1930s, and with two sparky, incredibly intelligent and unique girl detectives – plus I love how relevant the themes are throughout the series and how great the representation is. Check out Robin Stevens’ booktube channel by the way – she has so many great recommendations and is just a joy to watch.