Tag Archives: Germany

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

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Books of the Week #7

Cathedral of the Sea: A Novel by Ildefonso Falcones

Arnau Estanyol arrives in Barcelona to find a city dominated by the construction of the city’s great pride—the cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar—and by its shame, the deadly Inquisition. As a young man, Arnau joins the powerful guild of stoneworkers and helps to build the church with his own hands, while his best friend and adopted brother Joanet studies to become a priest.

With time, Arnau prospers and falls secretly in love with a forbidden woman. But when he is betrayed and hauled before the Inquisitor, he finds himself face-to-face with Joanet. Will he lose his life just as his beloved Cathedral of the Sea is finally completed, or will his brother save him?

https://books2read.com/u/mgG2PX

The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir

For Lobbi, the tragic passing of his mother proves to be a profound catalyst. Their shared love of tending rare roses in her greenhouse inspires him to leave his studies behind and travel to a remote village monastery to restore its once fabulous gardens. While transforming the garden under the watchful eye of a cinephile monk, he is surprised by a visit from Anna, a friend of a friend with whom he shared a fateful moment in his mother’s greenhouse, and the daughter they together conceived that night. In caring for both the garden and the little girl, Lobbi slowly begins to assume the varied and complex roles of a man: fatherhood with a deep relationship with his child, cooking, nurturing, and remaining also a son, brother, lover, and…a gardener. A story about the heartfelt search for beauty in life, The Greenhouse is a touching reminder of our ability to turn the small things in everyday life into the extraordinary.

https://books2read.com/u/mKxY8P

Sun Sea and Secrets: A novel set in Greece by May J Panayi

Set on a beautiful Greek island in the sun, this is a tale of mystery and searching. Ella is looking for someone whose name she does not even know. The islanders are friendly and welcoming, but everyone, it seems, has a secret of their own. The island is paradise, but what secrets does paradise hide under stunning vistas, and overwhelming scents? Can Ella find who she is searching for? Will she find the answers she needs? What else will she find along the way?

A story of Love in all its forms, love of Greece, love between past characters, new love between friends, cats, nature, and of food.

https://books2read.com/u/bzvLl9

The Seed Woman (The Seed Traders’ Saga Book 1) by Petra Durst-Benning

From bestselling author Petra Durst-Benning comes a sweeping emotional story of courage, triumph, and love against all odds in nineteenth-century Germany.

After a long and trying journey from her home, Hannah arrives at a charming village nestled in the foothills of the Swabian Mountains, eager to find Helmut Kerner, a traveling seed merchant she loved and lost. Enchanted by the glorious wildflowers and thriving harvests stretching as far as the eye can see, Hannah feels less like an outsider with each passing hour, until she meets Seraphine, an ethereally beautiful dreamer engaged to be married to Helmut, the father of Hannah’s unborn child.

Desperate to win back Helmut’s affections, Hannah gets to work and quickly discovers a passion for the seed trade, and with every change of season comes a change of heart. Can Hannah and Seraphine put aside their differences to find a way to work together, or will Hannah and her child be forced to leave this place she has come to love?

https://books2read.com/u/brVpoZ

The Miracle Stork (A Baba Treasure Chest story Book 2) by Ronesa Aveela

Rada knows little about her Bulgarian heritage because her family doesn’t practice their customs. That changes when her grandmother comes to visit. On a trip to the zoo, Rada discovers more than animals. She learns that diversity is not something to be ashamed of. Her grandmother tells her about the traditions of their ancestors and the meaning of the martenitsi that she makes every spring.

The Miracle Stork is a story about creating and maintaining traditions and customs to embrace who you are.

In the tradition of family togetherness, Baba Treasure Chest stories are geared toward the entire family: Adults reading stories to children, families participating in activities, and children working together on coloring pages. Print edition contains coloring pages.

https://books2read.com/u/bQa6V6

Books of the Week #5

Romanian Stories (Illustrated): A Collection of Fifteen Stories Written by Some of Romania’s Best Writers by Tiberian Press

A collection of fifteen stories written by some of Romania’s best writers of the late 19th century, early 20th century period, translated by Lucy Byng, revised by Tiberian Press, illustrated by Francesca Ibba:

The Fairy of the Lake(Mihail Sadoveanu)
The Easter Torch(Ion Luca Caragiale)
At Manjoala’s Inn(Ion Luca Caragiale)
Alexandru Lapushneanu, 1564–1569(Costache Negruzzi)
Zidra(Marc Beza)
Gardana(Marc Beza)
The Dead Pool(Marc Beza)
Old Nichifor, the Impostor(Ion Creangă)
Cozma Racoare(Mihail Sadoveanu)
The Wanderers(Mihail Sadoveanu)
The Fledgeling(Ioan Alexandru Brătescu-Voinești)
Popa Tanda(Ioan Slavici)
Out in the World(Ion Popovici-Bănățeanu)
The Bird of Ill Omen(Ioan Alexandru Brătescu-Voinești)
Irinel(Barbu Ștefănescu Delavrancea)

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

The Fencing Master by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

It is 1868; Spain teeters on the brink of revolution. Jaime Astarloa is a master fencer of the old school, priding himself on the precision, dignity, and honor of his ancient art. His friends spend their days in cafes discussing plots at court, but Jaime’s obsession is to perfect the irresistible sword thrust.

Then Adela de Otero, violet-eyed and enigmatic, appears at his door. When Jaime takes her on as a pupil he finds himself embroiled in dark political intrigue against which his old-fashioned values are no protection.

https://www.amazon.com/Fencing-Master-Arturo-Pérez-Reverte-ebook/dp/B003SNKBKK

The King’s Hounds by Martin Jensen

The first in the bestselling Danish series of historical mysteries.

The newly crowned King Cnut of Denmark has conquered England and rules his new empire from Oxford. The year is 1018 and the war is finally over, but the unified kingdom is far from peaceful.

Halfdan’s mixed lineage—half Danish, half Saxon—has made him a pauper in the new kingdom. His father, his brother, and the land he should have inherited were all taken by the new king’s men. He lost everything to the war but his sense of humor. Once a proud nobleman, Halfdan now wanders the country aimlessly, powered only by his considerable charm and some petty theft. When he finds an unlikely ally in Winston, a former monk, he sees no reason not to accept his strange invitation to travel together to Oxford. Winston has been commissioned to paint a portrait of the king at the invitation of his new wife, and the protection of a clever man like Halfdan is well worth its price in wine and bread.

But when the pair’s arrival in court coincides with news of a murder, the king has a brilliant idea: Why not enlist the newly arrived womanizing half-Dane and the Saxon intellectual to defuse a politically explosive situation? The pair represents both sides of the conflict and seem to have crime-solving skills to boot. In their search for the killer, Halfdan and Winston find seduction, adventure, and scandal in the wild early days of Cnut’s rule.

https://books2read.com/u/4ExW0O

The Moonlit Garden by Corina Bomann

Lilly Kaiser had come to terms with her solitary, uncomplicated life after becoming a young widow. So when a stranger delivers an old violin to her Berlin antiques shop and tells Lilly it belongs to her, she’s completely bewildered. Why should she be the one to inherit such an exquisite instrument?

Together with her best friend, Ellen, and handsome musicologist Gabriel Thornton, Lilly sets out to explore the violin’s legacy. From England to Italy to Indonesia, she follows its winding trail. Along the way, she learns of Rose Gallway, a beautiful woman of English and Sumatran descent who lived among Sumatra’s lush gardens more than a hundred years earlier. A celebrated and sought-after musician, Rose once owned Lilly’s violin and regularly played concerts for Sumatra’s colonial elite—until, one day, she simply disappeared.

As Lilly unravels the mystery behind Rose’s story—and uncovers other unexpected secrets—she’ll come to see her own life in an entirely new light. And as each shared discovery brings her closer to Gabriel, her heart might finally break its long-held silence.

https://books2read.com/u/mYKRwx

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.

https://books2read.com/u/3kp0GN

Books of the Week #3

The Boy Between Worlds: A Biography by Annejet van der Zijl

When they fell in love in 1928, Rika and Waldemar could not have been more different. She was a thirty-seven-year-old Dutch-born mother, estranged from her husband. He was her immigrant boarder, not yet twenty, and a wealthy Surinamese descendant of slaves. The child they have together, brown skinned and blue eyed, brings the couple great joy yet raises some eyebrows. Until the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands explodes their promising life.

What unfolds is more than the astonishing story of a love that prevailed over convention. It’s also the quest of a young boy. Through the cruelty of World War II, he will fight for a connection between his father’s South American birthplace and his mother’s European traditions. Lost and displaced for much of his life, but with a legacy of resilience in his blood, he will struggle to find his place in the world.

Moving deftly between personal experience and the devastating machinations of war, The Boy Between Worlds is an unforgettable journey of hope, love, and courage in the face of humanity’s darkest hour.

books2read.com/u/mlr1lv

Still Waters (Sandhamn Murders Book 1) by Viveca Sten

On a hot July morning on Sweden’s idyllic vacation island of Sandhamn, a man takes his dog for a walk and makes a gruesome discovery: a body, tangled in fishing net, has washed ashore.

Police detective Thomas Andreasson is the first to arrive on the scene. Before long, he has identified the deceased as Krister Berggren, a bachelor from the mainland who has been missing for months. All signs point to an accident—until another brutalized corpse is found at the local bed-and-breakfast. But this time it is Berggren’s cousin, whom Thomas interviewed in Stockholm just days before.

As the island’s residents reel from the news, Thomas turns to his childhood friend, local lawyer Nora Linde. Together, they attempt to unravel the riddles left behind by these two mysterious outsiders—while trying to make sense of the difficult twists their own lives have taken since the shared summer days of their youth.

books2read.com/u/bOGVqQ

Elven Winter (The Saga of the Elven Book 2) by Bernhard Hennen

At the height of its power, the elven court of Queen Emerelle revels in the joyful Festival of Light. Yet, as tribes gather to reaffirm their loyalty to the queen, treachery festers within the nobility. An assassination attempt leaves Emerelle severely injured and plunges the realm back into the throes of an ancient war.

While an army of trolls ravages the kingdom, the elves seek aid from Alfadas, the human hero who was raised among them. Back in the land of men, Alfadas has settled into a quiet life as his village’s protector. But when his former mentor appears asking for his help, Alfadas is quick to oblige.

Alfadas sets out to defeat the elves’ foes. However, marching to war means abandoning his village—and his wife. And Albenmark isn’t the only world facing monstrous threats…

https://books2read.com/u/bOGV59

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

Bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street and feels impelled to return it to its owner. The bag contains no money, phone or contact information. But a small red notebook with handwritten thoughts and jottings reveals a person that Laurent would very much like to meet. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?

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

Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore by Ronesa

• 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 for children and adults from 8 to 108 who would like to 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.

https://books2read.com/u/3kvE5G

Europe by Book #2

The Rhine: Following Europe’s Greatest River from Amsterdam to the Alps by Ben Coates

The Rhine is one of the world’s greatest rivers. Once forming the outer frontier of the Roman Empire, it flows 800 miles from the social democratic playground of the Netherlands, through the industrial and political powerhouses of Germany and France, to the wealthy mountain fortresses of Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

For five years, Ben Coates lived alongside a major channel of the river in Rotterdam, crossing it daily, swimming and sailing in its tributaries. In The Rhine, he sets out by bicycle from the Netherlands where it enters the North Sea, following it through Germany, France and Liechtenstein, to its source in the icy Alps. He explores the impact that the Rhine has had on European culture and history and finds out how influences have flowed along and across the river, shaping the people who live alongside it.

BBlending travelogue and offbeat history, The Rhine tells the fascinating story of how a great river helped shape a continent.

books2read.com/u/3nK0eR

The German Girl: A Novel by Armando Lucas Correa

Berlin, 1939. Before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. But now the streets of Berlin are draped in ominous flags; her family’s fine possessions are hauled away; and they are no longer welcome in the places they once considered home. A glimmer of hope appears in the shape of the St. Louis, a transatlantic ocean liner promising Jews safe passage to Cuba. At first, the liner feels like a luxury, but as they travel, the circumstances of war change, and the ship that was to be their salvation seems likely to become their doom.

New York, 2014. On her twelfth birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious package from an unknown relative in Cuba, her great-aunt Hannah. Its contents inspire Anna and her mother to travel to Havana to learn the truth about their family’s mysterious and tragic past.

Weaving dual time frames, and based on a true story, The German Girl is a beautifully written and deeply poignant story about generations of exiles seeking a place to call home.

books2read.com/u/mKEnPP

The Voice of the Violin (The Inspector Montalbano Mysteries Book 4) by Andrea Camilleri

Inspector Montalbano, praised as “a delightful creation” (USA Today), has been compared to the legendary detectives of Georges Simenon, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler. As the fourth mystery in the internationally bestselling series opens, Montalbano’s gruesome discovery of a lovely, naked young woman suffocated in her bed immediately sets him on a search for her killer. Among the suspects are her aging husband, a famous doctor; a shy admirer, now disappeared; an antiques-dealing lover from Bologna; and the victim’s friend Anna, whose charms Montalbano cannot help but appreciate…But it is a mysterious, reclusive violinist who holds the key to the murder.

books2read.com/u/bpKvv6

Hippie by Paulo Coelho

After hitchhiking from Brazil to nearly halfway around the world, Paulo stumbles across Karla, a young Dutch woman and like-minded soul, in Amsterdam’s famous Dam Square.
Together they decide to take the fabled hippie trail across Europe to Nepal, aboard the Magic Bus, in search of self-discovery. So begins a life-defining love story that will set the course for the rest of their lives.

Drawing on the rich experience of his own life, Paulo Coelho relives the dreams of a generation that longed for peace and challenged the established social order.

books2read.com/u/mv7A2X

The Hermit of Hisarya by Hannah Howe

This book is available in English and Bulgarian.

Some people will stop at nothing in their pursuit of wealth and power. Indeed, the greedy will often resort to murder.

“You’ve been through a stressful time recently, ” my fiance, Dr Alan Storey said. “I’m off to Bulgaria to attend a psychology conference so why don’t you accompany me and we’ll throw in a holiday as well.”

Great idea, I thought. However, when I arrived in Bulgaria my inquisitive nature compelled me towards a mystery dating back to the Second World War. That mystery involved Emil Angelov, the Hermit of Hisarya. As I delved into the past I stirred up some ghosts, which led to murder and the prospect of spending the rest of my days in a Bulgarian gaol.

The Hermit of Hisarya – a story of corruption, of murder, of a woman and her seventy-year-old dream, offering proof that the past, the present and the future are all intrinsically entwined.

books2read.com/u/47zKWa