Tag Archives: Mystery Fiction

Books of the Week #24

Bring me to Light: Embracing my Bipolar and Social Anxiety by Eleanor Segall

Eleanor Segall’s life was beginning. An aspiring actress and a family girl, she never thought her future would be derailed by mental illness. After a spate of depressive episodes, panic attacks and social anxiety, Eleanor found herself in The Priory at age 16. The diagnosis? Bipolar affective disorder.

But Eleanor didn’t let it stop her for long. Now a successful blogger, journalist, and pillar of the mental health and Jewish communities, she writes about finding recovery and hope after being unwell. Her story is of picking herself back up again and surviving against the odds. It will resonate with many – and it can help them find that light in the darkness too.

https://books2read.com/u/3npRO8

Mercy Roadby Ann Howard Creel

Inspired by the true story of the World War I American Women’s Hospital, Mercy Road is a novel about love, courage, and a female ambulance driver who risks everything.
In 1917, after Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground, taking her father with it, she must find a way to support her mother and younger brother. If she doesn’t succeed, they will all be impoverished. Job opportunities are scarce, but then a daring possibility arises: the American Women’s Hospital needs ambulance drivers to join a trailblazing, all-female team of doctors and nurses bound for war-torn France.

On the front lines, Arlene and her fellow ambulance drivers work day and night to aid injured soldiers and civilians. In between dangerous ambulance runs, Arlene reunites with a childhood friend, Jimmy Tucker, now a soldier, who opens her heart like no one before. But she has also caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a charismatic army captain who harbors a dark, treacherous secret.

To expose Brohammer means risking her family’s future and the promise of love. Arlene must make a choice: stay in the safety of silence or take the greatest chance of her life.

https://books2read.com/u/bxvRRo

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten

Maud is an irascible 88-year-old Swedish woman with no family, no friends, and… no qualms about a little murder. This funny, irreverent story collection by Helene Tursten, author of the Irene Huss investigations, features two-never-before translated stories that will keep you laughing all the way to the retirement home.

Ever since her darling father’s untimely death when she was only eighteen, Maud has lived in the family’s spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract. That was how Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Now in her late eighties, Maud contents herself with traveling the world and surfing the net from the comfort of her father’s ancient armchair. It’s a solitary existence, and she likes it that way. 

Over the course of her adventures—or misadventures—this little bold lady will handle a crisis with a local celebrity who has her eyes on Maud’s apartment, foil the engagement of her long-ago lover, and dispose of some pesky neighbors. But when the local authorities are called to investigate a dead body found in Maud’s apartment, will Maud finally become a suspect?

What Is Climate Change? by Gail Herman (Author), John Hinderliter (Illustrator)

Learn more about what climate change means and how it’s affecting our planet.

The earth is definitely getting warmer. There’s no argument about that, but who or what is the cause? And why has climate change become a political issue? Are humans at fault? Is this just a natural development? While the vast majority of scientists who study the environment agree that humans play a large part in climate change, there is a counterargument. Author Gail Herman presents both sides of the debate in this fact-based, fair-minded, and well-researched book that looks at the subject from many perspectives, including scientific, social, and political.

Grade level 3 – 7

https://books2read.com/u/b6kwpJ

Mind Games: A Sam Smith Mystery (The Sam Smith Mystery Series Book 11) by Hannah Howe

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Sasha Pryce, a teenage chess prodigy, presented me with a problem. She wanted me to track down Steve Chapin, her coaching assistant. Steve had mysteriously disappeared, leaving no clue as to his whereabouts. However, Sasha insisted that I should follow her strict instructions – her father, eminent pharmacologist Professor Christian Pryce, must not learn of my investigation.

Meanwhile, Professor Pryce had hired a handsome bodyguard, Blake, to protect Sasha. For what reason? She had no idea. And to complicate matters further, Blake decided to cast a lascivious eye over my romance-shy friend and assistant, Faye Collister.

Mind Games, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, an exploration of the many aspects of love.

https://books2read.com/u/49QyzX

Books of the Week #22

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy set in turn-of-the-century France.
For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.
Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.
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The House by the River by Lena Manta

From acclaimed Greek writer Lena Manta comes an emotionally powerful saga following five young women as they realize that no matter where life leads them, the only constant is home.
Theodora knows she can’t keep her five beautiful daughters at home forever—they’re too curious, too free spirited, too like their late father. And so, before each girl leaves the small house on the riverside at the foot of Mount Olympus, Theodora makes sure they know they are always welcome to return.
Having survived World War II, the Nazi occupation of Greece, and her husband’s death, Theodora now endures the twenty-year-long silence of her daughters’ absence. Her children have their own lives—they’ve married, traveled the world, and courted romance, fame, and even tragedy. But as they become modern, independent women in pursuit of their dreams, Theodora knows they need her—and each other—more than ever. Have they grown so far apart that they’ve forgotten their childhood home, or will their broken hearts finally lead them back again?
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Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World by Christina Rickardsson

An extraordinary memoir of one woman’s fight to find her true self between the life into which she was born and the one she was given.
Christiana Mara Coelho was born into extreme poverty in Brazil. After spending the first seven years of her life with her loving mother in the forest caves outside São Paulo and then on the city streets, where they begged for food, she and her younger brother were suddenly put up for adoption. When one door closed on the only life Christiana had ever known and on the woman who protected her with all her heart, a new one opened.
As Christina Rickardsson, she’s raised by caring adoptive parents in Sweden, far from the despairing favelas of her childhood. Accomplished and outwardly “normal,” Christina is also filled with rage over what she’s lost and having to adapt to a new reality while struggling with the traumas of her youth. When her world falls apart again as an adult, Christina returns to Brazil to finally confront her past and unlock the truth of what really happened to Christiana Mara Coelho.
A memoir of two selves, Never Stop Walking is the moving story of the profound love between families and one woman’s journey from grief and loss to survival and self-discovery.
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Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

Andre Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. It is an instant classic and one of the great love stories of our time.
Now a Major Motion Picture from Director Luca Guadagnino, Starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, and Written by James Ivory
WINNER BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY ACADEMY AWARD
Nominated for Four Oscars

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Stardust: A Sam Smith Mystery (The Sam Smith Mystery Series Book 10) by Hannah Howe

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.
Also available in Dutch.
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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 #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 #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 #9

A Manuscript of Ashes: A Novel by Antonio Muñoz Molina

It’s the late sixties, the last dark years of Franco’s dictatorship. Minaya, a university student in Madrid, is caught up in the student protests and the police are after him. He moves to his uncle Manuel’s country estate in the small town of Mágina to write his thesis on an old friend of his uncle, an obscure republican poet named Jacinto Solana.

The country house is full of traces of the poet—notes, photographs, journals—and Minaya soon discovers that, thirty years earlier, during the Spanish Civil War, both his uncle and Solana were in love with the same woman, the beautiful, unsettling Mariana. Engaged to Manuel, she was shot in the attic of the house on her wedding night. With the aid of Inés, a maid, Minaya begins to search for Solana’s lost masterpiece, a novel called Beatus Ille. Looking for a book, he unravels a crime.

https://www.amazon.com/Manuscript-Ashes-Antonio-Muñoz-Molina-ebook/dp/B0079OHIPK/

Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark

Trolls haunt the snowy forests, and terrifying monsters roam the open sea.
A young woman journeys to the end of the world, and a boy proves he knows no fear.

This collection of 16 traditional tales transports readers to the enchanting world of Nordic folklore. Translated and transcribed by folklorists in the 19th century, and presented here unabridged, the stories are by turns magical, hilarious, cozy, and chilling. They offer a fascinating view into Nordic culture and a comforting wintertime read. Ulla Thynell’s glowing contemporary illustrations accompany each tale, conjuring dragons, princesses, and the northern lights.

https://books2read.com/u/bw2vre

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck

Go, Went, Gone is the masterful new novel by the acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, “one of the most significant German-language novelists of her generation” (The Millions). The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz. Curiosity turns to compassion and an inner transformation, as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. Go, Went, Gone is a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a man who finds he has more in common with the Africans than he realizes. Exquisitely translated by Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone addresses one of the most pivotal issues of our time, facing it head-on in a voice that is both nostalgic and frightening.

https://books2read.com/u/mVrwW6

The Sinclair Betrayal: A Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery by M J Lee

In the middle of a war, the first casualty is truth.

For years, Jayne has avoided researching her own family history. There are just too many secrets hidden in the past. Then she is forced to face up to the biggest secret of all; her father is still alive. Even worse, he is in prison for the cold-blooded killing of an old civil servant. A killing supposedly motivated by the betrayal and death of his mother decades before.

Was he guilty or innocent?

Was her grandmother really a spy?

And who betrayed her to the Germans?

Jayne uses all her genealogical and police skills to investigate the world of the SOE, and of secrets concealed in the dark days of World War 2.

A world that leads her into a battle with herself, her conscience and her own family.

https://books2read.com/u/mlawgM

Born From the Ashes (A Baba Treasure Chest story Book 3) by Ronesa Aveela

Illustrated short story. 

Kerana is spending the summer with her grandmother while her mother is busy with work. Keeping with old traditions, Baba (the grandmother) initiates Kerana as a znahar, an herbal healer, who people often call a witch. Things go wrong when she disobeys her grandmother’s warning.

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/3RaNRD