Tag Archives: Literature

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 #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 #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 #10

Lights on the Sea by Miquel Reina

On the highest point of an island, in a house clinging to the edge of a cliff, live Mary Rose and Harold Grapes, a retired couple still mourning the death of their son thirty-five years before. Weighed down by decades of grief and memories, the Grapeses have never moved past the tragedy. Then, on the eve of eviction from the most beautiful and dangerously unstable perch in the area, they’re uprooted by a violent storm. The disbelieving Grapeses and their home take a free-fall slide into the white-capped sea and float away.

As the past that once moored them recedes and disappears, Mary Rose and Harold are delivered from decades of sorrow by the ebb and flow of the waves. Ahead of them, a light shimmers on the horizon, guiding them toward a revelatory and cathartic new engagement with life, and all its wonder.

Wildly imaginative, deeply poignant, and entirely unexpected, Lights on the Sea sweeps readers away on a journey of fate, acceptance, redemption, and survival against the most rewarding of odds.

https://books2read.com/u/bw2dVe

Daybreak by Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson

When the shotgun-blasted body of a goose hunter is discovered, the police believe they have a list of suspects who may have wanted the victim dead, from his young wife to the caretaker of his property. But then a second body, another hunter, is found with a similar fatal wound. And then a third. As the pattern emerges—all goose hunters, all shot at the break of dawn—Reykjavik policemen Gunnar and Birkir face the terrifying possibility that a serial killer is stalking the idyllic Icelandic countryside.

Gunnar and Birkir set a trap for the one they call “the Gander,” but it quickly becomes a wild goose chase as the murderer plays some tricks of his own. With the clock running out and the discovery of another body all but guaranteed, the cops must determine if there is a thread connecting the victims or if the killings are all part of a twisted game.

https://books2read.com/u/mZBjMp

Exciting Destinies – The Complete Collection: A Collection of Science Fiction/Speculative Fiction Short Stories by Nicholas C. Rossis

What would you do with a time machine—win the lottery or save the world? Why have mermaids suddenly reappeared? And what would you do if you met your god?

This omnibus edition includes four collections of science/speculative fiction short stories including Infinite Waters, voted one of the Best 50 Indie Books of 2015.

31 short and very short fiction stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat
The Perfect Read For Your Commuting.

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

Hearts of Resistance by Soraya M. Lane

At the height of World War II, three women must come together to fight for freedom, for the men they love—and for each other.

When Hazel is given the chance to parachute into Nazi-occupied France, she seizes the opportunity to do more for the British war effort than file paperwork. Alongside her childhood friend, French-born Rose, she quickly rises up the ranks of the freedom fighters. For Rose, the Resistance is a link to her late husband, and a way to move forward without him. What starts out as helping downed airmen becomes a bigger cause when they meet Sophia, a German escapee and fierce critic of Hitler who is wanted by the Gestapo. Together the three women form a bond that will last a lifetime.

But amid the turmoil and tragedy of warfare, all three risk losing everything—and everyone—they hold dear. Will their united front be strong enough to see them through?

https://books2read.com/u/mla2WY

Love and Bullets: A Sam Smith Mystery (The Sam Smith Mystery Series Book 2) by Hannah Howe

It had been a week since the incident at the abandoned quarry, a week since I’d shot and killed someone, a week since my ex-husband had been murdered. It had been an emotional week. But life goes on. I’d been hired to discover who was sending death threats to Dr Ruth Carey, a controversial psychiatrist. The trail led to two high-powered villains and soon the death threats were aimed at me, threats that increased following two murders.

Meanwhile, after years of domestic violence, I was trying to make sense of my private life. Dr Alan Storey, a prominent psychologist, claimed that he loved me, and I was strongly attracted to him. But the years of domestic abuse had scarred me emotionally and I was reluctant to commit to a relationship.

Love and Bullets is the story of a dramatic week in my life, a week of soul-searching, self-discovery and redemption.

Available in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RQLAVRS

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 #4

A Vineyard in Andalusia by María Dueñas 

1861. A ruined silver-mine owner sets sail from Mexico City to seek his fortune in the New World.

Mauro Larrera has just four months to pay his creditors, or his bankruptcy will be revealed and his family’s honour will be in tatters. In magnificent Havana — home to beautiful women and dangerous men who deal in mysterious trades — he gambles what little he has left on what will become the greatest adventure of his life …

A Vineyard in Andalusia is a novel of glories and defeats; of silver mines, family secrets, vineyards, cellars, and splendid cities of faded grandeur; of unexpected passion, and love in the strangest of circumstances.

Below the Surface (Maria Kallio Book 8) by Leena Lehtolainen

When a woman’s body turns up in a lake—a bullet to the back of her head—Violent Crime Unit commander Maria Kallio, freshly back from maternity leave, is fast to get on the case. The victim is ID’d as Annukka Hackman, wife of a prominent publisher and author of an upcoming unauthorized tell-all book on Sasha Smeds, Finland’s celebrated racing rally driver.

Almost as soon as the inquiry starts, it goes off the rails, as those connected to Annukka—and to Smeds—seem to have more secrets than they have alibis. Was the journalist about to reveal a bombshell that someone was desperate to keep quiet? Or will it take some reading between the lines? The clues may be few, but the list of suspects is long. As she struggles to balance her home life, run a department tainted by career-threatening allegations, and catch a killer, Maria is shocked to find just what someone was willing to do in the name of love…or revenge.

https://books2read.com/u/bzWQeE

Where the Desert Meets the Sea: A Novel by Werner Sonne

An illuminating and heart-stirring historical novel set in post-WWII Palestine, where the boundaries of love and friendship are challenged by the intractable conflicts of war.
Jerusalem, 1947: Judith, a young Jewish survivor of the Dachau concentration camp, arrives in Mandatory Palestine, seeking refuge with her only remaining relative, her uncle. When she learns that he has died, she tries to take her own life in despair.

After awakening in the hospital, Judith learns that Hana, a Muslim Arab nurse, has saved her life by donating her own blood. While the two women develop a fragile bond, each can’t help but be drawn deeper into the political machinations tearing the country apart. After witnessing the repeated attacks inflicted on the Jews, Judith makes the life-changing decision to join the Zionist fight for Jerusalem. And Hana’s star-crossed love for Dr. David Cohen, an American Jew out of his element and working only to save lives, will put her own life in danger.

Then the political situation worsens. When tensions erupt, a shocking act of violence threatens Judith and Hana’s friendship—and the destinies of everyone they love.

https://books2read.com/u/4jel7X

Lives Other Than My Own: A Memoir by Emmanuel Carrère 

In Sri Lanka, a tsunami sweeps a child out to sea, her grand-father helpless against the onrushing water. In France, a young woman succumbs to illness, leaving her husband and small children bereft. Present at both events, Emmanuel Carrère sets out to tell the story of two families—shattered and ultimately restored. What he accomplishes is nothing short of a literary miracle: a heartrending narrative of endless love, a meditation on courage and decency in the face of adversity, an intimate and reverent look at the extraordinary beauty and nobility of ordinary lives.

Precise, sober, and suspenseful, as full of twists and turns as any novel, Lives Other Than My Own confronts terrifying catastrophes to illuminate the astonishing richness of human connection: a grandfather who thought he had found paradise—too soon—and now devotes himself to helping his neighbors rebuild their village; a husband so in love with his ailing wife that he carries her in his arms like a knight does his princess; and finally, Carrère himself, longtime chronicler of the tormented self, who unexpectedly finds consolation and even joy as he immerses himself in the lives of others.

https://books2read.com/u/mg0VXD

Stardust: A Sam Smith Mystery by Hannah Howe

Available in Dutch and English.

Hired by multimillionaire Jeremy Loudon, my task was simple – find his missing briefcase. Loudon claimed that his briefcase held ten thousand pounds, his winnings from a poker game. However, as the trail unravelled and led to Europe my suspicions deepened. What was in Loudon’s briefcase, beyond the money? Why was he being so evasive? Why did he insist on no police involvement?

My search for the missing briefcase took me to pimps, pornographers, radical feminists, gun runners and the Red Light District of Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, my investigation held a mirror to my own life. Loudon had everything – more money than he could spend, a successful business and a beautiful lover. My business was doing well and my marriage offered plenty of love and happiness. Yet, encounters with my Dutch colleagues raised the question – should I ask for more out of life?

Stardust, the story of one woman’s dream and my hopes for the future.

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

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

Top Ten and Captain Savva

This Week’s Top Ten in European Literature


1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Literature)

2. Love in an English Garden by Victoria Connelly (Romance)

3. Vita Mia by Sienna Mynx (Romance)

4. The Lines We Leave Behind by Eliza Graham (Historical)

5. El Alquimista: Una Fabula Para Seguir Tus Suenos by Paulo Coelho (Spiritual)

6. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (World War II Historical)

7. The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (World War II Historical)

8. The Fencing Master by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Historical Mystery)

9. Hearts of Resistance by Soraya M. Lane (World War II Historical)

10. All This I Will Give to You by Dolores Redondo (Mystery)

Captain Savva by Rachael Wright

Gritty and emotionally-charged mysteries set on the island of Lesvos, Greece by Rachael Wright.

Book One – Mrs Fitzroy

Brash, streetwise, Captain Alexander Savva of the Hellenic Police is called to investigate the crumpled mess of a car, and the body inside it, being battered by the sea. With the brakes compromised, John Fitzroy had no chance of surviving the steep roads along the coast. Where many investigations struggle for suspects, Savva has no lack of them.

Davonna tugs the thorny weeds, the purple hand-shaped bruise on her neck screaming. Had it really been ten years since she sat in a cushioned chair in the Palais des Nations translating Hebrew to German? Now she meticulously plans her days to avoid disaster. It’s so common, so very common for a woman to find herself captive, where escape only comes in dreams after her husband leaves her bruised on the bed. 

As secrets are revealed, Savva is drawn to John’s widow, Davonna, questioning her every word. He hovers around the periphery of her life, discovering that behind the doors of her pink mansion and its manicured walled garden, a sinister secret rots. It all begs the question: who killed John Fitzroy?

books2read.com/u/3LK17w