The Best Russian Books in English

Forget War and Peace: this blog offers reviews of fun and interesting Russian books in English, links to their Amazon pages, interviews with new and upcoming Russian authors, with the emphasis on Russian genre fiction: LitRPG, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, romance, mystery and other popular reads.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back to Russia!

Yes, that's where I'm heading so I'm afraid I won't be able to update this blog for two or three weeks.

Lots of changes in Russia now including new pronunciation standards which reflect natural erosion processes that happen to every language... whatever was considered "low style" yesterday is norm today! "Звонить" is official! Where oh where is the world going...

See you soon folks! :-)))

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I've got a banner!

The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About

Everything writers need to know about their Russian settings and characters!

Click on the cover to find out more about the book:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Research, grrrrr!

A friend said to me today, "Well, knowing how meticulous you are with your research I have little doubt all the information in The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Russia is very accurate."

Girl you can say that again. Meticulous? When working on the book, I lost count of times when I'd write a chapter off the top of my head because I knew all this stuff, didn't I? It was part of me, I'd grown up with it, I'd read countless books about it, and it was all such trivia anyway, so what was there to get wrong?

Then I'd decide to do a bit of research, just in case, only to discover that oh my, I'd gotten quite a few details totally wrong. Was it nostalgia replacing memory? Luckily, being a freelance journalist, I'm so used to fact sheets and source lists that it's become my second nature to research even the most obvious things. So I went over the book with a fine-tooth comb, double- and triple-checking every fact, date and source, so now I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and say,

Yes, luckily, I am meticulous. So The 33Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Russia is an accurate book. Зуб даю! :-)

Monday, September 7, 2009

The book is out!


The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Russia

is now available for download here:

I'll add a clickable picture as soon as I work out how to do it :-)))

Here, I'll be happy to answer your questions about the book and Russia in general. What is the book about?It's all about telling you what life in Russia really is, and was, like.

"Don't Be The Writer Who
Betrays Your Protagonist and
Leaves Him Helpless
In A Strange Country!"

Sending their fictional secret agents to Russia, espionage writers like Graham Greene and Ian Fleming have committed errors which in real life could cost their undercover heroes’ lives. In his masterpiece The Human Factor, Graham Greene made 16 mistakes on 9 pages when describing Russian characters and settings.

In those days of the Cold War, writers didn’t have Russian experts to advise them. YOU DO!

Irene is a native Russian speaker, born and raised in the USSR. Neil has spent the last twenty years studying Russian history and culture. Between the two of us, we know most of what there is to know about the Russians’ everyday life, their background and values.

More than that, we are writers ourselves. We know what a difference the right details make to a story… and how hard they often are to come by.

We Have The Information You Need
To Bring Your Russian Characters To Life!

Let us show you what Russians really feel, think and say. From drinking habits to Stalinist mentality, from travel tips to accent advice, WE’VE GOT IT COVERED.

If you’ve seen too many Hollywood movies, your idea of Russia is a set of dated, hilarious cliches. Read this book to find out why:

  • A Russian wouldn’t frog-dance unless he was a Red Army Choir member – read Mistakes Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three to discover the biggest myths about Russian popular culture.

  • Do you think Soviet Russians called each other Comrade? Read Mistake One to find out why they wouldn’t… and learn the protocol of using the Comrade word.

  • How about Russian names? Read Mistake Three to find out why your Soviet-era character is highly unlikely to be called Ivan… and see lists of period-related Russian names.

In The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Russia, you’ll discover:

  • Which calendars Russians used during different periods, and how to calculate them
  • What kind of houses Russian and Soviet people used to live in and how those houses were heated, furnished and equipped
  • Why using Russian swear words in your book is not always a good idea
  • How those NKVD officers really felt about their jobs

The book contains many useful extras. Area phone codes, lists of public holidays by period, top 10 Soviet household must-haves, a period-related list of most popular Russian movies, even a top 10 list of dogs’ and cats’ names...

Lots of details to make your story ring true!

The Internet is packed with information about Russia. SOME OF IT IS WRONG. How can you be sure which facts are correct and which are a lot of old cobblers?

We include links to RELIABLE sources
to help you with your own research.

This book is your guide to Russia and its people throughout history. Pick up your copy today– and get your Russian settings and characters just right!

Be the writer who says,
"I know what I'm talking about!"

The book is available for download here:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Great Russian Links!

For all of us writers, here're some fabulous links for our USSR-related research. Galleries and galleries of photos of Russian streets, people, equipment, foods, etc. See for yourself what life in Russia and the USSR was about. How people dressed, what Soviet-era rooms and streets looked like, storefronts, tree decorations, all sorts of little details to add authenticity to your story. is the English-speaking community for Russia-related visual research, that's for sure!

Moscow in the 1960s:

1937-1970s New Year tree decorations:

Miscellaneous photos from various periods:

1970s- 1980s storefronts (soooo realistic!):

1970s Russian students:

Late 1950s- early 1960s food posters (all that packaging, milk bottles and serving suggestions to add believable touches to your Russia-set story!):

Moscow in 1927:

USSR in the 1960s:

And many, many more. Each page contains links to a dozen others with similar content. These people are just awesome. They may be eaten by nostalgia, but from a writer's point of view, a resource like this is priceless.

There're other similar resources on the Net (some Russian-speaking LJ communities do a great job collecting period-related pics from the Soviet era), so I'll be adding them, as well.