LoveReading

Becoming a member of the LoveReading community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…

Find out more

Ten Novels with a Russian Influence

In this fascinating set of recommended books we feature a country that most people in the UK have only read about, and so it remains an intriguing enigma. These novels are either written by a Russian author, or are set in or pay a fleeting visit to Russia. It will be no surprise that spy and cold war thrillers feature strongly, however classics, the Second World War, and a train journey on the Trans-Siberian Express also star. They all come with our stamp of approval, so we are rolling out the red carpet for these ten fabulous reads. 

Untraceable

Untraceable

Author: Sergei Lebedev Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/03/2021

Falling with exquisite yet hammer-hard precision this beautifully written political spy thriller from a Russian author feels like a unique read. When the Soviet Union collapses a chemist who developed an untraceable lethal poison defects. After a murder occurs using the poison, two men are sent to silence Professor Kalitin. An intriguing start sets this novel up and the plot continues to bubble and scheme away. I almost felt as though I should be swearing an official secrets act in order to read Untraceable. Sergei Lebedev has created the most fascinating and readable novel. His words echoed though me, huge in scope yet intimate in detail and emotion. The translation by Antonina W Bouis is fabulous, sometimes translated novels make you feel at home, this quite rightly ensured that I realised just how much I don’t know. At times I was left reeling, desperate to read more, to understand more and the ending hit with a shockwave. Deservedly a LoveReading Star Book Untraceable is a beautiful, disturbing and penetrating read.  The LoveReading LitFest invited Sergei to the festival to talk about Untraceable.   You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Sergei in conversation with Paul Blezard from a writer’s retreat in Switzerland, about his extraordinary fictional analysis of Russia's use of lethal poison. Untraceable is inspired by the Salisbury poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.   Check out the preview of the event here  

Star Books
Violet

Violet

Author: SJI Holliday Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/11/2019

A clever, cutting, addictive read that kicks impulsive to the ground, and stomps all over spontaneity. Two strangers meet on their travels in China, and impetuously decide to travel together on the Trans-Siberian Express, never have the words act in haste, repent at leisure been more appropriate. The synopsis grabbed me: “…as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel - because one of these women is not who she claims to be”. The prologue made me wince, the words thrust themselves into my mind and sharpened my focus. As the first few chapters uncoiled, whispers of uncertainty started. S. J. I. Holliday excels in almost quietly, yet throughly provoking feelings, allowing tension to build to an almost unbearable level. Out on the wild open plains I felt claustrophobic and uncomfortable, and yet the story called and clamoured to be finished. Violet is a fabulously unsettling ride, once you climb aboard it won’t let you off, so make sure your ‘do not disturb sign’ is on display.  

eBooks of the Month
Last Flight to Stalingrad

Last Flight to Stalingrad

Author: Graham Hurley Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/01/2021

An intelligent, intricately plotted, and fabulously readable foray into The Second World War from a German perspective. Three men, Werner Nehmann from the Ministry of Propaganda, Georg Messner aide to Generaloberst Richthofen, and Wilhelm Schultz from the Military Intelligence Service, find themselves in the thick of the German attempt to capture Stalingrad. This is the fifth book in Graham Hurley’s Spoils of War series, featuring historical and fictional characters from different countries. Here the focus is Germany and we delve into the minds of such historical figures as Goebbels and Richthofen. It is however, the three fictional characters, in particular Werner, who take centre stage. In the main the story remains at a distance from direct fighting, nonetheless I was left in no doubt as to the reality of conflict. The mysteries of propaganda and intelligence wield their shadowy magic. This an intimate story set on a huge scale, the personal stories of the characters really highlights the struggle of the individual during war. Last Flight to Stalingrad is a dynamic, commanding slice of historical fiction that I highly recommend as one of our LoveReading Star Books.

Star Books
The Englishman

The Englishman

Author: David Gilman Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/02/2021

Klaxon alert! Discover full-on heart-pounding action, plus smart, sharp writing in this absolute reading feast of a book. Travelling from Africa to the UK and ending in Russia, former Foreign Legion Commando Dan Raglan is on a hunt that guarantees death. This is the first in what promises to be a smash-hit spy thriller series and I already can’t wait for the next book. The prologue throws you straight into October 2019 with a man running through a frozen Russian forest while bullets whip towards him. Chapter one turns to 2013 and from here we get to know Dan Raglan. As an introduction, it’s spot on, within pages I was on board and by his side. Author David Gilman is a former firefighter, paratrooper, and photographer and now writes full time. His words build a vivid picture, this world feels authentic and I read with full confidence. I was so involved in the unfolding story that my thoughts didn’t skim backwards or forwards, I purely existed in each moment as it hit. And boy, each moment lands with ferocious intensity. Shockwaves of action expanded and the storyline tripped me with unexpected developments. Even though I had read the prologue, the ending still came with a whammy. LoveReading Book of the Month - tick, LoveReading Star Book - tick, one of my personal Picks of the Month - tick! The Englishman comes with a tremendous thumbs up from me, more please!

Star Books
A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

Author: Amor Towles Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/02/2017

Maxim Jakubowski's March 2017 Book of the Month. Shortly after the Russian revolution, a White Russian count is spared execution because of a subversive poem he wrote defying authority before the fall of the Czar and is, instead, exiled to an attic room in a luxury hotel in the heart of Moscow, where he once enjoyed a luxurious suite and all the amenities that wealth could provide. As he adapts to his house arrest, we follow his encounters with the motley denizens, employees and visitors of the hotel and watch how his state of mind changes alongside the Russia outside the walls of the hotel. Both meditative and, at times, truculent, this also forms a parallel history of Russia over the following forty years or so until the death of Stalin and for a narrative isolated inside a closed locale becomes amazingly broad in scope, reflective, expansive and so often terribly moving, albeit with much wit and humour. Unforgettable characters, both fictional and real life, a web of subtle relationships: all human life is here and a triumphant follow-up to Towles' debut novel which had been set in the glitter of New York in the 1930s.  Long but wonderfully rewarding, this will make you laugh, cry and smile, an epic that never even moves outside the hotel's lobby! Loved it. ~ Maxim Jakubowski February 2017 MEGA Book of the Month. The Lovereading view... Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, the gentleman of the title, is not executed with his fellow aristocrats for he had already left Russia at the start of the Revolution and he returns in 1918.  This mystifies the Bolshevik tribunal he stands before in 1922.  He wrote a poem which is deemed a call to arms, but for which side?  So he is placed under house arrest for life.  Conveniently his address for the last four years has been The Hotel Metropol, the best in Moscow.  Now moved to humble rooms in the old servant quarters in the belfry, he nonetheless has the run of the beautiful establishment, the restaurants and bar.  He makes friends with the servants and guests alike and is dubbed by an old student friend who has suffered in the Gulag, “the luckiest man in Russia”.  Intrigue, romance and friendship pepper the years as we follow the Count from 1922 to 1954, a time of huge change as a new Russia is created.  With a nod towards the period in its style and lots of philosophy, I wouldn’t say this was compulsive but it is strangely hypnotic, one is certainly drawn to it although it isn’t an easy read.  It is a comfortable book to be with despite its horrific span in history for imprisoned in his hotel, Rostov is indeed one of the luckiest in Russia. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Click here to read a Q&A with the author about this book.

eBooks of the Month
A Divided Spy

A Divided Spy

Author: Charles Cumming Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/05/2017

Simply fabulous. ‘A Divided Spy’ slices through theatrics and pierces the essential heart of a spy thriller. This is the third in the ‘Thomas Kell’ series, yet my first, and I found it could be read perfectly as a standalone novel. I will definitely nab a copy of the first two, as I forgot I was in reviewing mode and just disappeared into Thomas Kell’s world. The former MI6 officer is seeking revenge, his chance comes when he attempts to recruit a Russian agent, however the small matter of a potential terrorist attack interrupts his personal vendetta. Charles Cumming has won a number of prestigious awards, his writing is subtly powerful, and so very very readable. The terror plot made my mind flinch as it bit with daunting intensity, it felt honest and substantially real. Superbly crafted, ‘A Divided Spy’ weaves a powerful and thrilling web of political intrigue and game playing, and I highly recommend it.

eBooks of the Month
Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

Author: Leo Tolstoy Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/01/2003

  January 2010 Good Housekeeping selection.   On My Bookshelf by Wendy Holden... Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is the best in its class – I am a novelist, but for my money the writers of the19th century set the bar for the whole genre. The reason I love it isn’t so much the tragic Anna with ghastly Vronsky, but because of Princess Kitty and Levin. He’s cracked and she’s a bit cosy, but their love affair is just so transportingly romantic. The description of when they meet at the frozen pond, where she is skating and he can’t even look at her because he feels it would be like looking at the sun, gets me every time. It’s because of these two lovers that I’ve never understood the fuss about Jane Austen’s Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.

eBooks of the Month
Child 44

Child 44

Author: Tom Rob Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2011

Controversially, and in my opinion inappropriately, long-listed for the Man Booker and appropriately short-listed for the Costa 1st Novel award (used to be the Whitbread), the Desmond Elliot prize and winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Ian Fleming award, this is a cracking good serial killer tale set in Stalin’s 1950’s Russia. It is certainly one of the best intelligent new thrillers I have read in a long time. Atmospheric, dark, evocative of the period and era, the gradual change in our hero is beautifully handled, as is the slow build in an intriguing plot. You must read it. We also have an exclusive pre-publication extract from his new book The Secret Speech, so be one of the first to read a chapter before it's published.   February 2009 Book of the Month. Longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2010. Winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2008. Winner of the Galaxy New Writer of the Year 2009. Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2008.Costa Book Awards 2008 Judges' comment: "This gripping, unputdownable thriller is an exciting new addition to the genre." Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 5 March 2009.   Comparison: Martin Cruz Smith, Robert Harris, John Le Carré.

Books of the Month
The Mercenary

The Mercenary

Author: Paul Vidich Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/03/2021

An absorbing, penetrating, and intricately plotted spy novel that just thrums with tension. Former CIA officer Alex Garin is asked to return to Moscow in 1985 to assist with the exfiltration of a senior KGB officer. Garin himself is a complete enigma and trust is a valuable commodity. Linking to the espionage novels featuring George Mueller, which began with his debut An Honorable Man you don’t need to have read the other books by Paul Vidich to be able to fully enjoy this story as it successfully stands alone. However, I would recommend hunting down the previous novels because they come highly recommended and if you’ve read them, you’ll note the jump forward to the 80’s. This is a novel that you can just throw yourself into, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Paul Vidich kept me off balance and encouraged my thoughts to explore and at times run full tilt in different directions. The sense of place is vividly realised, Moscow broods and swaggers, while Garin is wonderfully complex. Everything begins to slides into place, and then the incredibly powerful ending hits. Highly recommended, Mercenary is a wonderfully crafted, convincing, and thrilling novel.  

Books of the Month
Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/02/2014

Initiated by a savage act, this is a powerful story of doom versus redemption. Although first published in 1866 in Russian, this is the original very dark tale of rebellious youth Rodion Raskolnikov stepping over lines and blurring morality in the name of higher purpose. It's a seminal piece of work whose themes are as relevant today as they were then, as you follow the journal of such a complex character. Highly recommended and an absolute  must on the list of classics. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.

Comments (0)


Leave A Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.