Tag Archives: Eastern Europe

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 #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

A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe

A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe (Spirits and Creatures Series Book 1) by Ronesa Aveela

Eastern European mythology and folklore contain a rich, colorful blend of Christian and pagan tales, customs, and rituals. Many have lost their original significance, but others are still practiced—especially in remote, rural locations.

Household Spirits, the first in a series of books, will take you on a journey to discover nine fascinating house spirits you may never have heard of.

You’ll learn historical facts, discover fascinating and horrifying stories, and enjoy beautiful illustrations to gain a complete experience of these elusive house spirits.

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