Four speedy reviews

Speedy reviews of two audiobooks, and two books about East Germany (that I read so long ago that I really have no business reviewing) –

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld

The good bits: Palpable tension; #ALLTHESUSPENSE; particular scenes that were so well executed that I felt anxiety in the pit of my stomach (the picnic!).

The not-as-good-bits: The serial killer subplot – unnecessary and distracting.

When should you read it?: Certainly not if you’re alone in a clifftop mansion, but if you’re in the mood for gothic, devour it (check out Theresa’s thorough review here).


Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

The good bits: So many meaty themes (start with racism, loyalty, power, and father/son relationships) but ultimately this book is a straight-up page-turner.

The not-as-good-bits: No spoilers, but the ending was a bit of stretch (although by that point, I was sold so it didn’t really matter).

When should you read it?: When you need something with solid literary credentials (it’s won a swag of prizes) but reads like a ripping best-seller.


Stasiland by Anna Funder

The good bits: Engrossing, insightful, intimate. I feel I’m failing this book by not providing a thorough review. My copy has eleventy-million sections highlighted because I loved it all and every word seemed important.

The not-as-good-bits: That it was so short….?!

When should you read it?: Straight away.


Confession with Blue Horses by Sophie Hardach

The good bits: Terrific sense of time and place, and an excellent depiction of how families splinter when values and loyalties are tested.

The not-as-good-bits: Much of the plot relies on the deviousness of an archive employee and although this makes an interesting parallel (to informers and the Stasi), I wasn’t fully convinced about the character’s motivations.

When should you read it?: As soon as your mind turns to your ‘next Berlin book’ (because that’s a thing, right?).


I received my copy of Confession With Blue Horses from the publisher, Head of Zeus, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

27 responses

    • Format was out of desperation – I am so far behind on reviews…

      I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to reading Stasiland (and probably unfair on Confession that I read them at the same time).

  1. *Pout* I knew you were going to read Stasiland, and I’ve referred to this book so many times in my reviews that I was hoping #NoPressure there would one day be a review I could link to…

  2. Hi Kate, I love these reviews. Short and to the point. Not too much info, but enough to get you interested.I liked Bass Rock, and thought Home Fire was terrific, and Stasiland excellent.

      • I wondered why the story even needed that? The bits about Maggie feeling followed, the person in the wardrobe/room; Viv feeling threatened by the guy she was seeing; the few people being killed… was it all making the same point or was it overkill (pardon the pun)? I guess I felt the three main stories said enough about the main theme of violence without these other peripheral bits…

    • Deserves all the praise. Fascinating (especially read through the lens of when it was published, in 2002 – there’s more fiction and nonfiction about East Germany now, but Stasiland offered an early glimpse).

  3. Stasiland has been on my wishlist for ages so I’ve ordered it. You are officially an enabler, Kate. 😉

    As an archivist, I’m intrigued by your reference to a devious archive employee in Confessions. I might have to borrow that one from the library to find out more.

      • I always have strong opinions on archivists in books, because they’re either stereotypically controlling ogres or they’re stereotypically mousey with bad clothes. I was very cross with Matthias Lane in Martha Cooley’s book The Archivist, letting his personal feelings disrupt his archivist’s duty to neutrality. I’m curious as to what the devious archivist’s grounds are for taking materials home. Hmmm…

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