Category Archives: Books of the Week

Books of the Week #21

The Seine: The River that Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

A vibrant, enchanting tour of the Seine from longtime New York Times foreign correspondent and best-selling author Elaine Sciolino.

Elaine Sciolino came to Paris as a young foreign correspondent and was seduced by a river. In The Seine, she tells the story of that river from its source on a remote plateau of Burgundy to the wide estuary where its waters meet the sea, and the cities, tributaries, islands, ports, and bridges in between.

Sciolino explores the Seine through its rich history and lively characters: a bargewoman, a riverbank bookseller, a houseboat dweller, a famous cinematographer known for capturing the river’s light. She discovers the story of Sequana—the Gallo-Roman healing goddess who gave the Seine its name—and follows the river through Paris, where it determined the city’s destiny and now snakes through all aspects of daily life. She patrols with river police, rows with a restorer of antique boats, sips champagne at a vineyard along the river, and even dares to go for a swim. She finds the Seine in art, literature, music, and movies from Renoir and Les Misérables to Puccini and La La Land. Along the way, she reveals how the river that created Paris has touched her own life. A powerful afterword tells the dramatic story of how water from the depths of the Seine saved Notre-Dame from destruction during the devastating fire in April 2019.
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Bread on the Table: Recipes for Making and Enjoying Europe’s Most Beloved Breads [A Baking Book] by David Norman

The debut cookbook from cult favorite Austin bakery and beer garden Easy Tiger, featuring recipes from author David Norman’s time spent exploring bread traditions throughout Europe and North America, plus menu ideas for incorporating homemade bread into everyday meals.
In this highly anticipated cookbook, culinary instructor and baker David Norman explores the European breadmaking traditions that inspire him most–from the rye breads of France to the saltless ciabattas of Italy to the traditional Christmas loaves of Scandinavia. Norman also offers recipes for traditional foods to accompany these regional specialties, so home bakers can showcase their freshly made breads alongside a traditional Swedish breakfast spread, oysters with mignonette, or country pâté, to name a few examples. With rigorous, detailed instructions plus showstopping photography, this book will surprise and delight bakers of all stripes.

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Celtic Mythology: History for kids by Dinobibi Publishing

No mythology is more magical than Celtic mythology. The Celts of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales created an imaginative world full of fairies, sea monsters, and nature gods. In Ireland especially, the land and culture are alive with stories from the past. People living there who believed in strong, powerful gods, fairy folk who were sometimes up to no good, and all sorts of supernatural beings who lived alongside humans.
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I’ll Push You: A Journey of 500 Miles, Two Best Friends, and One Wheelchair by Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck

Two best friends, 500 miles, one wheelchair, and the challenge of a lifetime.
Friendship takes on new meaning in this true story of Justin and Patrick, born less than two days apart in the same hospital. Best friends their whole lives, they grew up together, went to school together, and were best man in each other’s weddings. When Justin was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease that robbed him of the use of his arms and legs, Patrick was there, helping to feed and care for him in ways he’d never imagined. Determined to live life to the fullest, the friends refused to give into despair or let physical limitations control what was possible for Justin.
So when Justin heard about the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek through Spain, he wondered aloud to Patrick whether the two of them could ever do it. Patrick’s immediate response was: “I’ll push you.”
I’ll Push You is the real-life story of this incredible journey. A travel adventure full of love, humor, and spiritual truth, it exemplifies what every friendship is meant to be and shows what it means to never find yourself alone. You’ll discover how love and faith can push past all limits—and make us the best versions of ourselves.
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Mermaid’s Gift (A Baba Treasure Chest story Book 4) by Ronesa Aveela

Nine-year-old Nick celebrates his Name Day in December, on St. Nicholas Day. But the day is filled with worry because his father is caught out fishing on the ocean during a storm. He receives a special gift from his mother that day, a gift that has an unusual message. Mermaid’s Gift is a short story. In the tradition of family togetherness, Baba Treasure Chest stories are geared toward the entire family.

https://books2read.com/u/mqDoO6

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Books of the Week #20

Led by Donkeys: How four friends with a ladder took on Brexit by LedByDonkeys

Seeking to highlight the hypocrisy of our politicians on Brexit four friends armed with nothing more than ladders, roller brushes and a treasure trove of damning statements from our leaders slapped up the politicians’ biggest lies on billboards around the country.
This guerrilla operation wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t long before the British public enabled them to take things into their own hands – and the rest is history.
Leave the EU or remain? An apparently simple question divided the nation in historic fashion. Many of us believed the words of these politicians. By putting up their quotes as billboards, self-styled ‘Led By Donkeys’ had clear intentions – to compare the promises that have been made across the years with the damning reality.
The official visual account of how four ordinary people managed to expose the government’s hypocrisies through a nationwide guerrilla advertising campaign.
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Poland: A Novel by James A. Michener

In this sweeping novel, James A. Michener chronicles eight tumultuous centuries as three Polish families live out their destinies. The Counts Lubonski, the petty nobles Bukowksi, and the peasants Buk are at some times fiercely united, at others tragically divided. With an inspiring tradition of resistance to brutal invaders, from the barbarians to the Nazis, and a heritage of pride that burns through eras of romantic passion and courageous solidarity, their common story reaches a breathtaking culmination in the historic showdown between the ruthless Communists and rebellious farmers of the modern age. Like the heroic land that is its subject, Poland teems with vivid events, unforgettable characters, and the unfolding drama of an entire nation.
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Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller

He will not admit it to Rhea and Lars – never, of course not – but Sheldon can’t help but wonder what it is he’s doing here…
Eighty-two years old, and recently widowed, Sheldon Horowitz has grudgingly moved to Oslo, with his grand-daughter and her Norwegian husband. An ex-Marine, he talks often to the ghosts of his past – the friends he lost in the Pacific and the son who followed him into the US Army, and to his death in Vietnam.
When Sheldon witnesses the murder of a woman in his apartment complex, he rescues her six-year-old son and decides to run. Pursued by both the Balkan gang responsible for the murder, and the Norwegian police, he has to rely on training from over half a century before to try and keep the boy safe. Against a strange and foreign landscape, this unlikely couple, who can’t speak the same language, start to form a bond that may just save them both.
An extraordinary debut, featuring a memorable hero, Norwegian by Night is the last adventure of a man still trying to come to terms with the tragedies of his life. Compelling and sophisticated, it is both a chase through the woods thriller and an emotionally haunting novel about ageing and regret.
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Under a Maltese Sky (The Malta Saga Book 1) by Nicola Kearns

Being caught up in war is not what Ana Mellor expects when she lands in Malta to join her Wing-Commander father. In the midst of horror and destruction, the courage and resilience of the Maltese people is revealed as they struggle to survive. Ana falls in love but treachery intervenes with catastrophic consequences.
Meanwhile, disillusioned with Ireland’s fight for political independence, Ernie McGuill leaves home to join the British Army. Due to the outbreak of war he trains as a fighter pilot and is posted to Malta.It is against this background that the characters of Ana, Ernie and many others are interwoven in a story of betrayal and intrigue. This is not unravelled until generations later when two women make a journey to Malta – a journey that is to have astonishing consequences.
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Smoke and Mirrors by Hannah Howe

The man in my office held a dark secret, a secret to kill for. That man was Tony Ryland, husband of local madam, Maria de Costa. Unfortunately for me, truth and justice, Tony Ryland was dead.
 
What was Ryland doing in my office? Who had murdered him? What was the nature of his dark secret? The trail led to Ryland’s wife, Maria de Costa, to her network of prostitutes and clients. Questions led to evasive answers, and more deaths.
 
Someone was out to muddy the waters, to distort the truth, to bury the secret along with Tony Ryland. As I probed and prodded, I placed myself, family and friends in danger. Ultimately, Ryland’s murder left me with a question: what is of greater value, love or the truth?
 
Smoke and Mirrors, a tale of treachery, of duplicity and cover-ups, the story of a scandal that simmers within our society.
 
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Books of the Week #19

My Love Affair With Italy: Memoir of a single woman’s travels to Italy spanning 45 years from a teenager to retirement by Debbie Mancuso

As a 17-year old Italian American from New Jersey, Debbie became obsessed with the idea of traveling to Italy, and the summer after completing her junior year in high school, she realizes her dream when her parents agree to send her on a student tour for 40 days with no one she knew. Friendships form with another American student, and with Cesare, an Italian medical student living in the same “hotel.” But what transpires is something no one ever expected, especially her mom.
Over the next 45 years, Debbie returns 11 more times, mostly alone. Other trips include her two best friends, another with her father, and horseback riding adventures in the Chianti Region of Tuscany with cousins. Some of the places visited include Rome, Tuscany, the Almalfi Coast, Sicily, Capri, and a 2,500 year-old village in Umbria where the only mode of transportation allowed is a moped or donkey. One hundred years after her great grandmother migrated to America, Debbie locates her family in the most unusual way, culminating with a heartwarming reception.
Rarely staying in hotels, My Love Affair With Italy describes each of the trips, all the types of accommodations such as the agriturismi (farmhouses), the apartments, vineyards, the medieval villages, monastery, villas, and horseback riding centers she stayed in addition to the romances and friends met along the way. At the age of 50, Debbie learns how to horseback ride English style and takes a 100-mile tour cantering through Tuscany, something she was not nearly qualified to do. Within a year, she becomes an exchange student and enrolls in school in Siena, one of Tuscany’s most magnificent cities, to learn Italian and moves in with a local family, she not knowing Italian and they not knowing English. While in school, she befriends a German woman who invites her to stay at her home in the beautiful Bavarian Alps during her next visit to Europe, and Debbie accepts in an attempt to practice Italian with her former classmate, but the trip becomes a shocking revelation.
The book also details the “jewels” of Rome not mentioned in brochures such as The Scala Sancta, the Holy Stairs, holy because they are said to be the stairs that Jesus climbed on his way to his trial before Pontius Pilate, and the Aventine Keyhole, a nondescript-looking door on the Aventine Hill, neatly placing the dome of St. Peter’s right in the center.
Each trip also details why she returns each time, the struggles endured at home after becoming a caregiver, the 50-year friendships that get her through it all, and the shocking way her father shows his presence in Piazza Navona. Lastly, four decades after it all began, there are very surprising reunions and the most unusual romance.
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Treacherous Is the Night (A Verity Kent Mystery Book 2) by Anna Lee Huber

In 1919 England, in the shadow of The Great War, many look to the spirit world for answers. But it will take an all too earthbound intrigue to draw in the discerning heroine of Anna Lee Huber’s latest mystery . . .
It’s not that Verity Kent doesn’t sympathize with those eager to make contact with lost loved ones. After all, she once believed herself a war widow. But now that she’s discovered Sidney is very much alive, Verity is having enough trouble connecting with her estranged husband, never mind the dead. Still, at a friend’s behest, Verity attends a séance, where she encounters the man who still looms between her and Sidney—and a medium who channels a woman Verity once worked with in the Secret Service. Refusing to believe her former fellow spy is dead, Verity is determined to uncover the source of the spiritualist’s top secret revelation.
Then the medium is murdered—and Verity’s investigation is suddenly thwarted. Even Secret Service agents she once trusted turn their backs on her. Undaunted, Verity heads to war-torn Belgium, with Sidney by her side. But as they draw ever closer to the danger, Verity wonders if she’s about to learn the true meaning of till death do us part . . .

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Night Train To Lisbon by Pascal Mercier

Night Train to Lisbon tells the story of mild-mannered, middle-aged Classics scholar Raimund Gregorius. When, one afternoon, he walks out of his class while in the middle of giving a lesson, his uncharacteristic impulsiveness surprises him as much as his students. This break from his usually predictable routine is driven by two chance encounters that morning on his way to work – the first with a mysterious Portuguese woman, and the second with a book discovered in a forgotten corner of an old bookshop, the journal of an enigmatic Portuguese aristocrat. With the book as his talisman, Mundus finds himself boarding the night train to Lisbon on a journey to find out more about its author, Amadeu del Prado – who was this man whose words both haunt and compel him, seeming somehow clairvoyant?
His investigations lead him all over the city, and bring him into contact with those who were entangled in Prado’s life. Gradually, he makes unexpected friends and the picture of an extraordinary man emerges: a difficult, brilliant, charismatic man, a doctor and a poet, and a rebel against Salazar’s dictatorship. And as Prado’s story comes to light so, too, Gregorius himself begins his life anew.
Hurtling through the dark, Night Train to Lisbon is a rich tale, wonderful told, propelled both by the mystery at its heart and its evocative subject.
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Spartacus: The Roman History of the Heroic Slave Revolution by Kelly Mass

Spartacus is the central figure in the first few chapters of this book. He led the slaves to rebel against the Roman oppressors insomuch that it made a significant impact. His name will be remembered in history because of his heroic deeds. Subtopics will be addressed, such as:
 
– Soldiers in the army of Rome.
– Spartacus’ flame and rebellion, and his refuse in Vesuvius.
– What the slave war did.
– Other slave wars.
– The significance of the Auxilia.
– The day the Romans were hit by the Vesuvius’ eruption.
– Historical figures involved in the slave revolution.
– Via Appia and the habit of crucifying.
– Rights of slaves, prostitutes, and household members.
– Racism, taboo, and sexuality in the ancient Roman Empire.
– The rebellion in Sicilly.
– Public patterns and rituals among the Roman population.
– Facts about the soldiers, the army, and the organization of it.
 
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Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey by Ronesa Aveela

Past, present & future come together in this explosive modern tale of love and revenge.
 
Travel to the world of the Balkans with Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey and discover the secret lives of samodivi (Veelas). You’ve met these wondrous, mysterious creatures in different books. Now let Mystical Emona introduce you to samodivi as legend portrays them.
 
Carina, the most enchanting maiden in all of Thrace, is ravished on her wedding day her ring cursed. It will bring happiness to none but her. The curse will be broken only when the ring guides her true love back to her. Every spring she goes to “the other side of the moon” to await the return of her soul mate. After centuries, the ring flashes like a beacon to guide a handsome man named Stefan to Emona.
 
Stefan is a widowed artist from Boston, Mass, with a young daughter. He hopes moving to a secluded village on the Black Sea coast will ease his pain, and the wild, untamed beauty of this surrounding will inspire him to take up his art once again. He meets a mysterious woman and his life changes. He is drawn to her by some unknown bond, but cannot give his heart to her fully because his memories refuse to release their hold on him. Then the dreams begin. Some delightful. Others terrifying.
 
Take the journey to Mystical Emona and find out if the lovers reunite. The book is sure to enchant you with its perfect blend of history, legends, rituals, and romance.
 
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Books of the Week #18

One Autumn in Europe by Steven Hubbell

This is a travel journal, a tribute, a coming of age in foreign lands adventure tale, and the celebration of a personal pilgrimage. It is a cultural feast as witnessed through the eyes of a young, small-town Texas explorer on the quest for his own sword in the stone. What he finds both humbles and emboldens him; his discoveries alternately astonish and educate and terrify and reassure him as he hitchhikes from London to Rome and back, savoring every nuance he can find 5,000 miles from home.
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A Great Love of Small Proportion by Colin Falconer

Diego Sanchis is Seville’s most famous painter; his glorious art fills every church in the famous city. But for all the beauty in his soul, Diego himself is no oil painting. He sees beauty everywhere, but what beauty will ever look at him?
Until one day he is asked to take on a new student.
Mercedes Goncalvez is the most desired young woman in the city, and her father is rich and powerful. They are so utterly different – but they discover their souls are the same.
But these are dangerous days to defy convention. Beyond the dungeons of the Inquisition, to overcome betrayal and torture; even as the Christian cannons are turned towards the heavenly gardens of the Alhambra, can Diego and Mercedes cling to true beauty among the ashes of last hope?
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The Little Book of the Icelanders: 50 miniature essays on the quirks and foibles of the Icelandic people by Alda Sigmundsdottir

After more than 20 years away, Alda Sigmundsdottir returned to her native Iceland as a foreigner. With a native person’s insight yet an outsider’s perspective, Alda quickly set about dissecting the national psyche of the Icelanders. This second edition, from 2018, contains new and updated chapters from the original edition, reflecting the changes in Icelandic society and among the Icelandic people since the book was first published in 2012.
Among the fascinating subjects broached in The Little Book of the Icelanders:
The appalling driving habits of the Icelanders
Naming conventions and customs
The Icelanders’ profound fear of commitment
The irreverence of the Icelanders
Why Icelandic women are really men
How the Icelanders manage to make social interactions really complicated
The importance of the family in Icelandic society
Where to go to meet the real Icelanders (and possibly score some free financial advice)
Rituals associated with weddings, confirmations, graduations, and deaths
… and many, many more.
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The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

A tiger escapes from the local zoo, padding through the ruined streets and onwards, to a ridge above the Balkan village of Galina. His nocturnal visits hold the villagers in a terrified thrall – but for one boy, the tiger is a thing of magic.
Natalia is the granddaughter of that boy. Now a doctor, she is visiting orphanages in the war-torn Balkans when she receives word of her beloved grandfather’s death, far from their home, in circumstances shrouded in mystery.
Compelled to unravel the truth, Natalia stumbles upon a clue that will lead her to a tattered copy of The Jungle Book, and then to the most extraordinary story her grandfather never told her – the legend of the tiger’s wife.
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Sins of the Father: A Sam Smith Mystery by Hannah Howe

For the first thirty-three years of my life I had no knowledge of my father, no idea what he looked like, his name, whether he was dead or alive. Then fate brought us together. Then, a year later, he decided to hire me.
 
Although we had talked for a year, my father was still Gawain Morgan to me, a stranger, not my dad. Would the task of locating Frankie Quinn bring us closer together, or drive us further apart?
 
Frankie Quinn was a con-man, a life-long villain, a member of my father’s old gang. That’s right, my father was a villain too, with dodgy contacts, a shady past and sins he preferred to forget. The police wanted Frankie and, if arrested, he faced the prospect of spending his final years in prison. However, he had a trump card, evidence of my father’s indiscretions. Frankie was looking to cut a deal with the police, my father was looking for Frankie. They knew that one of them would spend the winter of their days in prison; but who would it be?
 
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking towards my wedding day. Would I enjoy the happiest day of my life, or be left crying into my champagne?
 
Sins of the Father, ten days that defined my relationship with my dad.
 
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Books of the Week #17

Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz

He was an unbeliever and a pagan soldier, she was a Christian and of exotic beauty. He decides he must have her as his concubine, but she is intent on living a pure life. Brought together during Emperor Nero’s reign of terror, whose world would survive?

In this edition, Joe Wheeler provides a comprehensive introduction to this class work, as well as thought-provoking discussion questions to help the reader get the most out of the story.

 

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

The great Norse myths are woven into the fabric of our storytelling – from Tolkien, Alan Garner and Rosemary Sutcliff to Game of Thrones and Marvel Comics. They are also an inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s own award-bedecked, bestselling fiction. Now he reached back through time to the original source stories in a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great Norse tales. Gaiman’s gods are thoroughly alive on the page – irascible, visceral, playful, passionate – and the tales carry us from the beginning of everything to Ragnarok and the twilight of the gods. Galvanised by Gaiman’s prose, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya are irresistible forces for modern readers and the crackling, brilliant writing demands to be read aloud around an open fire on a freezing, starlit night.
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Europe: A History by Norman Davies

Here is a masterpiece of historical narrative that stretches from the Ice Age to the Atomic Age, as it tells the story of Europe, East and West. Norman Davies captures it all–the rise and fall of Rome, the sweeping invasions of Alaric and Atilla, the Norman Conquests, the Papal struggles for power, the Renaissance and the Reformation, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Europe’s rise to become the powerhouse of the world, and its eclipse in our own century, following two devastating World Wars. This is the first major history of Europe to give equal weight to both East and West, and it shines light on fascinating minority communities, from heretics and lepers to Gypsies, Jews, and Muslims. It also takes an innovative approach, combining traditional narrative with unique features that help bring history alive: 299 time capsules scattered through the narrative capture telling aspects of an era. 12 -snapshots offer a panoramic look at all of Europe at a particular moment in history. Full coverage of Eastern Europe—100 maps and diagrams, 72 black-and-white plates. All told, Davies’s Europe represents one of the most important and illuminating histories to be published in recent years.
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Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: the daring young woman who led France’s largest spy network against Hitler by Lynne Olson

The little-known true story of the woman who headed the largest spy network in Vichy France during World War II.
In 1941, a thirty-one-year-old Frenchwoman, a young mother born to privilege and known for her beauty and glamour, became the leader of Alliance, a vast Resistance organisation — the only woman to hold such a role. Brave, independent, and a lifelong rebel against her country’s conservative, patriarchal society, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was temperamentally made for the job.
No other French spy network lasted as long or supplied as much crucial intelligence as Alliance — and as a result, the Gestapo pursued its members relentlessly, capturing, torturing, and executing hundreds of its three thousand agents, including Fourcade’s own lover and many of her key spies. Fourcade herself lived on the run and was captured twice by the Nazis. Both times she managed to escape.
Though so many of her agents died defending their country, Fourcade survived the occupation to become active in post-war French politics. Now, in a dramatic account of the war that split France in two and forced its people to live side by side with their hated German occupiers, Lynne Olson tells the fascinating story of a woman who stood up for her nation, her fellow citizens, and herself.
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Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore by Ronesa Aveela

Readers’ Favorite 2019 Silver Medal Winner
Non-fiction – Cultural
 
Discover Ancient Bulgarian Myths, Legends, Folklore, and Mythology
 
Meet Heroes from Greek Mythology with Thracian Origins
Enjoy Diverse, Delicious Modern and Traditional Bulgarian Recipes
 
A book the whole family can enjoy. Take a journey and discover Bulgarian folk tales, legends, and mythology. Whether you want to learn a little about their ancient Thracian origins, or you want to experience rituals practiced throughout the year with a fictitious Bulgarian family, or even if you’re only interested in traditional Bulgarian cuisine, this book has something for everyone.
 
Bulgarian culture is rich in folklore and traditions surviving since the days of the ancient Thracians. As pagan and Christian religions collided, many celebrations merged into one. Light Love Rituals will take you on a journey to discover these unique festivals.
 
Illuminated by the light of the full moon, a woman in a long, white robe holds an icon while she dances in a trance over burning coals. The mystical music of a shepherd’s pipe plays in the background.
 
Women dressed in colorful outfits dance in a circle, then pass through an enormous wreath made of magical healing herbs.
 
Wild spring flowers decorate the hair of young girls. Laden with baskets filled with colorful Easter eggs, the youths travel from house to house singing to bring health and prosperity to the village.
 
Men clothed like wild animals with colorful, scary masks parade around a village. Attached around their waists, giant cow bells resound announcing their arrival. The men jump and yell to scare away evil spirits.
 

Light Love Rituals not only describes the rituals, but also makes them interesting and understandable to people of all ages. The book is divided into four seasons, beginning with winter. It includes activities where you can learn how to make martenitsi, survachka, and Easter eggs dyed with natural colors. A short quiz after each season lets you test your knowledge of what you’ve read. To help you engage in the traditions in the book, you’ll meet Maria and her family. They’ll open the doors of their home so you can participate in these celebrations along with them. For an added taste of Bulgaria, try some of the traditional recipes at the end.

 
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Books of the Week #16

 

Broken Ghost by Niall Griffiths

A Welsh community is drawn together and blown apart by a strange vision in the mountains: the huge spectre of a woman floating over a ridge. The people who live here in these mountains already have their own demons – drink, drugs, domestic violence, psychoses – but each character has a different experience of this strange apparition, a different reaction, and for some it will change everything. Is it a collective hallucination? A meteorological phenomenon? Whatever it is, they all saw something, early one morning on the shores of a mountain lake, something that will awaken in them powers and passions and, perhaps, a possibility of healing these broken people in a broken country.
An examination of modern humanity’s desperate need to live meaningfully and vividly in a mediated world – where individual autonomy is lost and the collective heart is atomised and exploited – this is a novel that gives voices to the marginalised, the dispossessed, the forgotten. Disturbing and unforgettable, darkly funny and deeply moving, written in a charged language that is vernacular, lyrical and hieratic all at once, Broken Ghost is – simultaneously – a howl of anguish and a summoning of gods.
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Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar

The mystery of Dead Mountain: In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened.
As gripping and bizarre as Hunt for the Skin Walker: This New York Times bestseller, Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, is a gripping work of literary nonfiction that delves into the mystery of Dead Mountain through unprecedented access to the hikers’ own journals and photographs, rarely seen government records, dozens of interviews, and the author’s retracing of the hikers’ fateful journey in the Russian winter.
You’ll love this real-life tale: Dead Mountain is a fascinating portrait of young adventurers in the Soviet era, and a skillful interweaving of the hikers’ narrative, the investigators’ efforts, and the author’s investigations. Here for the first time is the real story of what happened that night on Dead Mountain.
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Eastern Europe! by Tomek Jankowski

When the legendary Romulus killed his brother Remus and founded the city of Rome in 753 BCE, Plovdiv—today the second-largest city in Bulgaria—was thousands of years old. Indeed, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam are all are mere infants compared to Plovdiv. This is just one of the paradoxes that haunts and defines the New Europe, that part of Europe that was freed from Soviet bondage in 1989, and which is at once both much older than the modern Atlantic-facing power centers of Western Europe while also being much younger than them. Eastern Europe! is a brief and concise (but informative) introduction to Eastern Europe and its myriad customs and history.
Even those knowledgeable about Western Europe often see Eastern Europe as terra incognito, with a sign on the border declaring “Here be monsters.” Tomek Jankowski’s book is a gateway to understanding both what unites and separates Eastern Europeans from their Western brethren, and how this vital region has been shaped by but has also left its mark on Western Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. It is a reader-friendly guide to a region that is all too often mischaracterized as remote, insular, and superstitious.
The book comprises three parts, The first sums up modern linguistic, geographic, and religious contours of Eastern Europe, while the second, main part delves into the region’s history, from the earliest origins of Europe up to the end of the Cold War. Closing the book is a section that makes sense of geographical name references — many cities, rivers, or regions have different names — and also includes an “Eastern Europe by Numbers” feature that provides charts describing the populations, politics, and economies of the region today. Throughout are boxed-off anecdotes (“Useless Trivia”) describing fascinating aspects of Eastern European history or culture.
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Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova

When Kapka Kassabova was a child, the borderzone between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece was rumoured to be an easier crossing point into the West than the Berlin Wall so it swarmed with soldiers, spies and fugitives. On holidays close to the border on the Black Sea coast, she remembers playing on the beach, only miles from where an electrified fence bristled, its barbs pointing inwards toward the enemy: the holiday-makers, the potential escapees.
Today, this densely forested landscape is no longer heavily militarised, but it is scarred by its past. In Border, Kapka Kassabova sets out on a journey to meet the people of this triple border – Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, and the latest wave of refugees fleeing conflict further afield. She discovers a region that has been shaped by the successive forces of history: by its own past migration crises, by communism, by two World wars, by the Ottoman Empire, and – older still – by the ancient legacy of myths and legends. As Kapka Kassabova explores this enigmatic region in the company of border guards and treasure hunters, entrepreneurs and botanists, psychic healers and ritual fire-walkers, refugees and smugglers, she traces the physical and psychological borders that criss-cross its villages and mountains, and goes in search of the stories that will unlock its secrets.
Border is a sharply observed portrait of a little-known corner of Europe, and a fascinating meditation on the borderlines that exist between countries, between cultures, between people, and within each of us.
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Family Honour: A Sam Smith Mystery (The Sam Smith Mystery Series Book 7) by Hannah Howe

When the biggest villain in the country makes you an offer you can’t refuse, what should you do? In my case, I decided to accept that offer, made by Mr Vincent Vanzetti. Vanzetti hired me to find his missing daughter, Vittoria, while threatening reprisals should I fail in my task. While searching for Vittoria, I had to deal with the other members of the Vanzetti clan: Sherri, Vanzetti’s second wife, at twenty-two the same age as Vittoria. Sherri was an ‘actress’, a porn star with ambitions to appear on Reality TV; Catrin, Vanzetti’s granite-hard ex-wife, the power behind his criminal empire; and V.J. Parks, Vittoria’s boyfriend, a boxer, a young man in his prime, in training for a shot at the world title.
 
Meanwhile, closer to home, it was decision time for yours truly and my lover, Dr Alan Storey. Alan was keen on marriage while I was still coming to terms with my past and years of physical abuse. Could I find the courage to finally lay the ghosts of my past and pledge my future to Alan?
 
Family Honour, the story of a villain and his family, the story of a moral dilemma. Should I kill in the name of justice, or should I allow a villain to walk free? In answering that question I discovered a lot about myself and the person I longed to be.
 
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Books of the Week #14

The Lines We Leave Behind by Eliza Graham

England, 1947: A young woman finds herself under close observation in an insane asylum, charged with a violent crime she has no memory of committing. As she tries to make sense of her recent past, she recalls very little.

But she still remembers wartime in Yugoslavia. There she and her lover risked everything to carry out dangerous work resisting the Germans—a heroic campaign in which many brave comrades were lost. After that, the trail disappears into confusion. How did she come to be trapped in a living nightmare?

As she struggles to piece together the missing years of her life, she will have to confront the harrowing experiences of her special-operations work and peacetime marriage. Only then can she hope to regain the vital memories that will uncover the truth: is she really a violent criminal…or was she betrayed?

https://books2read.com/u/mVr0yr

The Other Einstein: A Novel by Marie Benedict

A marriage of geniuses: In a time when most twenty-year-old women were wives, or trying to be, Mileva Maric was studying physics at an elite university in Zurich. Her rise from the relative backwater of misogynistic Serbia to all-male university classrooms in Switzerland was nothing short of meteoric. Her male peers could only try to keep up with her clever calculations. For Mileva, math was an easier path than marriage. Then, fellow student Albert Einstein took an interest in her and the world turned sideways. Their life together was a partnership of heart and mind. But could there be room for more than one genius in a marriage?

The other Einstein: Mileva Maric was a fascinating, brilliant physicist in her own right. She was, in fact, the other Einstein. In the world of physics, there’s much debate over the role she played in forming the theory of special relativity, one of her husband’s greatest works. Was she simply a sounding board, computing the complex mathematical equations? Or did she contribute something more?

https://books2read.com/u/bWBpBq

Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy Book 2) by Christoph Fischer

Sebastian is the story of a young man who, due to an unfortunate accident, has his leg amputated shortly before World War I. When his father is drafted to the war it falls to him to run the family grocery store in Vienna, to grow into his responsibilities, bear loss and uncertainty, and hopefully find love.

Sebastian Schreiber, his extended family, their friends and the store employees experience the ‘golden days’ of pre-war Vienna, the time of war and the end of the Monarchy, while trying to make a living and to preserve what they hold dear.

Fischer brilliantly describes life in Vienna during the war years; how it affected the people in an otherwise safe and prosperous location, the beginning of the end for the monarchic system , the arrival of modern thoughts and trends, the Viennese class system and the end of an era.

https://books2read.com/u/38EWqw

The Forest Feast Mediterranean: Simple Vegetarian Recipes Inspired by My Travels by Erin Gleeson

Erin Gleeson, New York Times bestselling author, returns with a gorgeously illustrated cookbook that will transport you to the Mediterranean coast.

For years, Forest Feast readers have been transported to Erin Gleeson’s picturesque cabin in the woods through her stunning photography of magical gatherings and vibrant vegetarian cooking. Now, Gleeson transports readers to Europe, with recipes inspired by her exploration of the cultures and cuisines of France, Portugal, Spain, and Italy during an extended family trip. Reimagining the flavors and signature dishes of this part of the Mediterranean, Gleeson presents 100 vegetarian recipes for creating effortless, unforgettable meals. Filled with atmospheric images of coastal villages, charming watercolor illustrations, and mouthwatering food photography, The Forest Feast Mediterranean is an irresistible escape from the everyday, no matter where you might live.

https://books2read.com/u/bM9z6a

Secrets and Lies: A Sam Smith Mystery (The Sam Smith Mystery Series Book 6) by Hannah Howe

Secrets and Lies – Suicide or Murder?

Most of the people I encounter are hiding a secret and many of them are adept at telling lies. However, how do you learn the truth about someone who’s no longer with us?
Author, Barclay Quinton wrote Fabringjay, the story of a man leading a secret life during the Second World War, which was well received by the critics, but was ignored by readers, and Illicit Lust, a book he hated and wrote purely to satisfy his agent and publisher. Illicit Lust became a bestseller, a fact that annoyed Barclay. However, its success did open doors and he set about researching his next novel, the story of an ageing mobster. Barclay’s research brought him into contact with many unsavoury types, including villains, shady private eyes and managers of strip clubs. The official report into Barclay’s death stated that he committed suicide. However, a close friend insisted that Barclay was murdered and I was hired to investigate.

Meanwhile, closer to home, I discovered a secret, and the truth, about my long-term partner. Was he the man of my dreams or was our relationship about to end?
Secrets and Lies – a story of love, of deceit, of the many faces we all possess – the public face, the private face and the deeply personal.

https://books2read.com/u/3npBWR

Books of the Week #13

The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

From the bestselling author of The Woman on the Orient Express comes a haunting novel of two women—one determined to uncover the past and the other determined to escape it.

At the close of World War II, London is in ruins and Rose Daniel isn’t at peace. Eight years ago, her brother disappeared while fighting alongside Gypsy partisans in Spain. From his letters, Rose has just two clues to his whereabouts—his descriptions of the spectacular south slopes of the Sierra Nevada and his love for a woman who was carrying his child.
In Spain, it has been eight years since Lola Aragon’s family was massacred. Eight years since she rescued a newborn girl from the arms of her dying mother and ran for her life. She has always believed that nothing could make her return…until a plea for help comes from a desperate stranger.

Now, Rose, Lola, and the child set out on a journey from the wild marshes of the Camargue to the dazzling peaks of Spain’s ancient mountain communities. As they come face-to-face with war’s darkest truths, their lives will be changed forever by memories, secrets, and friendships.

https://books2read.com/u/bzv1wZ

A Song for Bellafortuna: An Italian Historical Fiction Novel by Vincent B. “Chip” LoCoco

The beautiful, yet secluded, hilltop village of Bellafortuna, Sicily, is a great producer of wine and olive oil. The entire village prospers. However, after the arrival of the Vasaio family, production dwindles and the villagers soon find themselves in crushing debt to the Vasaios. Only the Sanguinetti family remains outside the control of the Vasaios, but the reason haunts Antonio Sanguinetti every day of his life, and he offers financial and emotional support to his fellow villagers. When Antonio’s only son, Giuseppe, discovers his family’s past, he becomes determined to take on the Vasaios and remove them from power. Led by the young Giuseppe, a plan is hatched that could result in either complete freedom for the villagers, or if it fails, forever solidify the Vasaios’ control.

https://books2read.com/u/mgG7Xx

Sea of Memories by Fiona Valpy

When Kendra first visits her ailing grandmother, Ella has only one request: that Kendra write her story down, before she forgets…

In 1937, seventeen-year-old Ella’s life changes forever when she is sent to spend the summer on the beautiful Île de Ré and meets the charismatic, creative Christophe. They spend the summer together, exploring the island’s sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, and, for the first time in her life, Ella feels truly free.

But the outbreak of war casts everything in a new light. Ella is forced to return to Scotland, where she volunteers for the war effort alongside the dashing Angus. In this new world, Ella feels herself drifting further and further from who she was on the Île de Ré. Can she ever find her way back? And does she want to?

From the windswept Île de Ré to the rugged hills of Scotland, Sea of Memories is a spellbinding journey about the power of memory, love and second chances.

https://books2read.com/u/bQajd7

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This multi-million-copy phenomenon is a funny, moving, uplifting tale of love and community that will leave you with a spring in your step.

At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d’etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents’ Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.

But isn’t it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so?

In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible . . .

https://books2read.com/u/4XZ2l7

The Unborn Hero of Dragon Village by Ronesa Aveela

Available in Bulgarian, English and Italian.

The day fire and ice erupt from the sky, everything changes forever for twelve-year-old Theo. He discovers that dragons are real when Lamia, a three-headed monster, kidnaps his sister. A witch and a talking magpie help him open the portal to Dragon Village, a land he knows only from myth, a place filled with terrifying creatures. A young woodland nymph befriends him when he arrives. He must learn to trust his instincts as he searches for a way to defeat Lamia before the dragon sacrifices his sister. In his journey, he uncovers secrets that reveal that only he can save the mystical land.

In this book, you will discover some of the terrifying creatures from Bulgarian and Slavic mythology. Some you may know by other names: Samodivi are Veelas from Harry Potter fame, only here they’re shown as supernatural creatures of the forest.

Baba Yaga, Harpies, and other creatures find their way into these pages, as well as the dreaded Lamia.

https://books2read.com/u/3npXLB

Books of the Week #12

The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko

Spanning sixty tumultuous years of Ukrainian history, this multigenerational saga weaves a dramatic and intricate web of love, sex, friendship, and death. At its center: three women linked by the abandoned secrets of the past—secrets that refuse to remain hidden.
While researching a story, journalist Daryna unearths a worn photograph of Olena Dovgan, a member of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army killed in 1947 by Stalin’s secret police.

Intrigued, Daryna sets out to make a documentary about the extraordinary woman—and unwittingly opens a door to the past that will change the course of the future. For even as she delves into the secrets of Olena’s life, Daryna grapples with the suspicious death of a painter who just may be the latest victim of a corrupt political power play.

From the dim days of World War II to the eve of Orange Revolution, The Museum of Abandoned Secrets is an “epic of enlightening force” that explores the enduring power of the dead over the living.

https://books2read.com/u/brVar7

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a moving, funny, atmospheric novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

We are in an elegant hôtel particulier in the center of Paris. Renée, the building’s concierge, is short, ugly, and plump. She has bunions on her feet. She is cantankerous and addicted to television soaps. Her only genuine attachment is to her cat, Leo. In short, she is everything society expects from a concierge at a bourgeois building in a posh Parisian neighborhood.

But Renée has a secret: she is a ferocious autodidact who furtively devours art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With biting humor she scrutinizes the lives of the building’s tenants—her inferiors in every way except that of material wealth.

Then there’s Paloma, a super-smart twelve-year-old and the youngest daughter of the Josses, who live on the fifth floor. Talented, precocious, and startingly lucid, she has come to terms with life’s seeming futility and has decided to end her own on the day of her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue hiding her extraordinary intelligence behind a mask of mediocrity, acting the part of an average pre-teen high on pop subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.

Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma’s trust and to see through Renée’s timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her.

https://books2read.com/u/b5QXvR

The Artificial Silk Girl: A Novel by Irmgard Keun

Before Sex and the City there was Bridget Jones. And before Bridget Jones was The Artificial Silk Girl.

In 1931, a young woman writer living in Germany was inspired by Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to describe pre-war Berlin and the age of cinematic glamour through the eyes of a woman. The resulting novel, The Artificial Silk Girl, became an acclaimed bestseller and a masterwork of German literature, in the tradition of Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories and Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera. Like Isherwood and Brecht, Keun revealed the dark underside of Berlin’s “golden twenties” with empathy and honesty. Unfortunately, a Nazi censorship board banned Keun’s work in 1933 and destroyed all existing copies of The Artificial Silk Girl. Only one English translation was published, in Great Britain, before the book disappeared in the chaos of the ensuing war. Today, more than seven decades later, the story of this quintessential “material girl” remains as relevant as ever, as an accessible new translation brings this lost classic to light once more.

https://books2read.com/u/bM9YAV

The Gondola Maker: A Novel of 16th-Century Venice (Venetian Artisans Book 2) by Laura Morelli

Venetian gondola-maker Luca Vianello considers his whole life arranged. His father charted a course for his eldest son from the day he was born, and Luca is positioned to inherit one of the city’s most esteemed boatyards. But when Luca experiences an unexpected tragedy in the boatyard, he believes that his destiny lies elsewhere. Soon he finds himself drawn to restore an antique gondola with the dream of taking a girl for a ride.

The Gondola Maker brings the centuries-old art of gondola-making to life in the tale of a young man’s complicated relationship with his master-craftsman father. Lovers of historical fiction will appreciate the authentic details of gondola craftsmanship, along with an intimate first-person narrative set against the richly textured backdrop of 16th-century Venice.

https://books2read.com/u/bw2KJO

Ripper: A Sam Smith Mystery (The Sam Smith Mystery Series Book 4) by Hannah Howe

“I love breaking the rules.” – Cardiff Jack.

Someone was murdering prostitutes, placing their bodies in the Bay and covering them with roses. To the media, he was ‘Cardiff Jack’, to the rest of us he was a man to avoid and fear. 

Meanwhile, I was searching for Faye Collister, a prostitute. Why was Faye, a beautiful woman from a privileged background, walking the streets? Why had she disappeared? And what was her connection to Cardiff Jack? 

As questions tumbled into answers, I made a shocking discovery, a discovery that would resonate with me for the rest of my days. 

Ripper – the story of a week in my life that reshaped the past, disturbed the present and brought the promise of an uncertain future.

https://books2read.com/u/bpEwXg

Books of the Week #11

This week, we are featuring authors who are taking part in the European Friendship Tour.

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, Book 1) by Lee Child

Jack Reacher jumps off a bus and walks fourteen miles down a country road into Margrave, Georgia. An arbitrary decision he’s about to regret.

Reacher is the only stranger in town on the day they have had their first homicide in thirty years.The cops arrest Reacher and the police chief turns eyewitness to place him at the scene. As nasty secrets leak out, and the body count mounts, one thing is for sure.

They picked the wrong guy to take the fall.

https://books2read.com/u/4ExRJY

Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes

Liza McCullen will never escape her past. But the unspoilt beaches and tight-knit community of Silver Bay offer the freedom and safety she craves – if not for herself, then for her young daughter, Hannah.

Until Mike Dormer arrives as a guest in her aunt’s hotel, and the peace of Silver Bay is shattered. The mild-mannered Englishman with his too-smart clothes and disturbing eyes could destroy everything Liza has worked so hard to protect: not only the family business and the bay that harbours her beloved whales, but also her conviction that she will never love – never deserve to love – again.

https://books2read.com/u/bxvekd

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

A haunting ghost story from the French mountains.

The Great War took much more than lives. It robbed a generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson’s case, it took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. Unable to cope with his grief, Freddie has spent much of the time since in a sanatorium.

In the winter of 1928, still seeking resolution, Freddie is travelling through the French Pyrenees – another region that has seen too much bloodshed over the years. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. Shaken, he stumbles into the woods, emerging by a tiny village. There he meets Fabrissa, a beautiful local woman, also mourning a lost generation. Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories of remembrance and loss. By the time dawn breaks, he will have stumbled across a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries.

By turns thrilling, poignant and haunting, this is a story of two lives touched by war and transformed by courage.

https://books2read.com/u/3LpR7X

Fall of Giants: Enhanced Edition (The Century Trilogy Book 1) by Ken Follett

The first in Ken Follett’s bestselling Century Trilogy, Fall of Giants is a captivating novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women.

A world in chaos.1911, a thirteen-year-old boy, Billy Williams, begins working down the mines as George V is crowned king. The escalating arms race between the empire nations will put not only the king but this young boy in grave danger.

A terrible war. Billy’s family is inextricably linked with the Fitzherberts, the aristocratic owners of the coal mine where he works. And when Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in London, their destiny also becomes entangled with that of Gus Dewar, an ambitious young aide to Woodrow Wilson, and two orphaned Russian brothers, the Peshkovs, whose plan to emigrate to America falls foul of conscription, revolution and imminent war.

A revolution that will change everything. When Russia convulses in bloody revolution and the Great War unfolds, the five families’ futures are entwined forever, love bringing them closer even as conflict takes them further apart. What seeds will be sown for further tragedy in the twentieth century and what role will each play in what is to come?

https://books2read.com/u/bQaV6d

A Study of Rusalki – Slavic Mermaids of Eastern Europe (Spirits and Creatures Series Book 2) by Ronesa Aveela

Seductive. Beautiful. Dangerous! Or are they innocent and looking for love? Discover the allure of Slavic mermaids – the Rusalki.

Ripples on the water.
A song on the breeze.
Laughter amidst bending stalks of grain.
But when I approach, no one is there.

If Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had grown up in Eastern Europe, his soul would have longed for the secrets of the rivers, lakes, and marshes, rather than the sea. And the pale, beautiful maidens residing there would have been the ones who sent “a thrilling pulse” through him, instead of the heart of the great ocean.

And who are these lovely maidens? … The Rusalki, a Slavic version of a mermaid.
If only the modern-day Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” had been born one of them. She would already have had legs, and not a fish tail, and wouldn’t have had to give up her voice! Well, maybe.

It’s more than legs that makes the Rusalki different from what you know about mermaids.
· Discover their origins.
· Learn how to protect yourself from their enchantments.
· Read about terrifying encounters.

Through folklore, literature, music, videos, and illustrations, you’ll uncover the secrets of these spirits who have haunted Eastern Europe for centuries.

The “Spirits and Creatures” series has been called “brilliant,” “fascinating,” “well researched,” “humorous,” “intriguing,” “engaging,” “lyrically written,” “beautifully organized,” and “informative.” It’s the perfect book for those who want to learn about Eastern European folklore, but don’t want to read a dry, academic book.

https://books2read.com/u/3kpePG