Tag Archives: Wales

Books of the Week #12

The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko

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

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

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

https://books2read.com/u/brVar7

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

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

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

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

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

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

https://books2read.com/u/b5QXvR

The Artificial Silk Girl: A Novel by Irmgard Keun

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

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

https://books2read.com/u/bM9YAV

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

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

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

https://books2read.com/u/bw2KJO

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://books2read.com/u/bpEwXg

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Books of the Week #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 #8

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Paris, July 1942. Sarah, a ten-year-old Jewish girl, is arrested by the French police in the middle of the night, along with her mother and father. Desperate to protect her younger brother, she locks him in a cupboard and promises to come back for him as soon as she can.

Paris, May 2002. Julia Jarmond, an American journalist, is asked to write about the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup – the infamous day in 1942 when French police rounded up thousands of Jewish men, women and children, in order to send them to concentration camps.

Sarah’s Key is the poignant story of two families, forever linked and haunted by one of the darkest days in France’s past. In this emotionally intense, page-turning novel, Tatiana de Rosnay reveals the guilt brought on by long-buried secrets and the damage that the truth can inflict when they finally come unravelled.

https://books2read.com/u/m2rP86

Hygge: The Danish Art of Comfort, Joy and Happiness by Erika Olsen

Denmark is said to be the happiest country in the world…

The Danish people owe their happy life to the art of hygge, meaning intimacy, coziness and joy.

Hygge teaches you to enjoy life from the comfort of your house. Get together and learn how simple, inexpensive experiences and activities can drastically improve your life quality. Cuddle with a loved one, share food, read by the candlelight and release your oxycontin. Not only is this book about the subject Hygge, reading it also makes you ‘feel’ Hygge.

Get inspired by easy to understand information that will help you live, love and even decorate your house. Get in touch with yourself, friends, family and co-workers. Discover the joy of simplicity and coziness with the Hygge lifestyle borrowed from the Danish.
Hygge will motivate you to slow down and enjoy the most intimate, special and heartwarming moments. Learn to appreciate your indoors and surroundings, your safe haven and your playground.

Get in touch with the secrets of the Danish!

https://books2read.com/u/3kpp8L

Rain Girl (Franza Oberwieser Book 1) by Gabi Kreslehner

Veteran homicide detective Franza Oberwieser prefers her job in the winter. Summer is for growing, not for dying. So when the body of a beautiful young woman is found on the autobahn, dressed in a glittering party dress and bathed in June rain, Franza is determined to give her justice.

Revealing victims’ hidden lives is part of the job, but as Franza and her partner, Felix, peel back the layers shrouding the girl’s disturbing past, darker mysteries emerge. Everyone has something to hide—even Franza, who must face her own secrets to reveal the truth.

https://books2read.com/u/mYKKAG

Best of Polish Fairy Tales: What Is Destined to Come Shall Come by Sergiej Nowikow

The book includes more than 70 illustrations.
The tales were translated in 2016 and had never been published in English before.
Be sure to choose the compilation for the best fairy tales ever written.
Children’s fairy tales teach our little ones to be both civil and creative while helping them develop important personal traits.
The book comprises 50 Polish folk fairy tales.

https://books2read.com/u/bO66E9

Sam’s Song by Hannah Howe

“If you like psychological detective stories with a touch of humour and romance, you will love Sam Smith.”

Love Hurts. For Derwena de Caro, songstress, female icon, teenage dream, success brought drugs, alcohol and a philandering boyfriend. It also brought wealth, fame and a stalker, or so she claimed. And that’s where I came in, to investigate the identity of the stalker, little realising that the trail would lead to murder and a scandal that would make the newspaper headlines for months on end.

Love Hurts. For me, Samantha Smith, Enquiry Agent, love arrived at the end of a fist. First, I had to contend with an alcoholic mother, who took her frustrations out on me throughout my childhood, then my husband, Dan, who regarded domestic violence as an integral part of marriage. But I survived. I obtained a divorce, kept my sense of humour and retained an air of optimism. I established my business and gained the respect of my peers. However, I was not prepared for Dan when he re-entered my life, or for the affection showered on me by Dr Alan Storey, a compassionate and rather handsome psychologist.

Sam’s Song. This is the story of a week that changed my life forever.

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

https://books2read.com/u/mZBBVl

Books of the Week #6

Lives Paris Took by Rachael Wright

Rachael Golike never met her great-uncle David, but cleaning out her grandparent’s home, she stumbled across an almost thirty year old letter-unaddressed and ambiguous.
After an explosive argument in 1960 David was catapulted from Illinois to the Université de Paris, where by chance be met Gilbert, a charismatic and mysterious Frenchman, and began a romance with Catherine: bold, sensuous, and a born dreamer.

In 1980 David’s life shattered from two separate betrayals. Penniless and broken he had no other option than to return home. Though he found solace in teaching, David hoarded his secrets, until they went with him to the grave.

Lives Paris Took is a story about a real family and a love that transcended time. Straddling life and death, country boundaries, and cultural divides, it is a novel which questions responsibilities and the bonds that, once forged, are never truly broken.

https://books2read.com/u/m0rxZV

Christmas in Greece (Lucy Evans Instaexplorer Book 3) by Millie Slavidou

Why would there be a person dressed as a camel in the town centre? Find out alongside Lucy!

Armed as ever with her trusty smartphone, Lucy is staying in Greece over Christmas. Join her as she discovers the traditions, tastes local treats and learns a little of the language.

Age level: 9 – 12

https://books2read.com/u/mKxK0d

Time Heals No Wounds (A Baltic Sea Crime Novel Book 1) by Hendrik Falkenberg

Freshly trained detective Johannes “Hannes” Niehaus is brand-new to the Criminal Investigation Department. And his partner, unconventional veteran detective Fritz Janssen, isn’t the least bit thrilled to train a rookie.

When a woman’s body washes up on the nearby shores of the Baltic Sea, Hannes gets his first taste of real crime—and a chance to prove himself. Quickly the investigation pulls him and Fritz into a whirlpool of dangerous, decades-old cover-ups. As the death count rises, the clues begin to lead them back to the Third Reich—and to harrowing crimes some people will do anything to keep hidden.

With the dead woman’s beautiful assistant to protect and a missing girl to find, Hannes navigates an ever-twisting maze of concealed horrors and enduring vendettas. Will he be able to catch the murderer before another innocent life gets caught in the killer’s dark plan?

https://books2read.com/u/meBA7z

The Calendar Man: A Scandinavian Dark Advent novel set in Greenland (Petra Piitalaat Jensen Book 1) by Christoffer Petersen

Following a period of compassionate leave, Petra Piitalaat Jensen is considering early retirement to work through the grief surrounding the loss of her partner. But when the frozen body of a young man is discovered several days before a referendum that will decide the future of Greenland, Greenland’s First Minister urges Petra to forgo retirement and investigate the case.

As the people of Nuuk lock their doors, and the voting booths are empty, Petra stretches the limited resources of the department and orders more police onto the streets in a desperate hunt for a killer determined to make this Christmas one to remember.

Set in Greenland, “The Calendar Man” twists Greenlandic politics, traditions and myths into a dark tale set in the darkest month of the year, in a frighteningly imaginable future.
“The Calendar Man” is set many years after the events in the Greenland Crime series, but features several of the characters introduced in those books.

Inspired by the Scandinavian and Greenlandic tradition of Christmas Advent Calendars, “The Calendar Man” has 24 parts, one for each day in December, leading up to the conclusion on December 24th, Christmas Eve, when Greenlanders and Scandinavians celebrate Christmas. “The Calendar Man” can also be read as a “regular” book.

https://books2read.com/u/bxvZ6l

Saving Grace: A Victorian Mystery by Hannah Howe

Available in English, Finnish, Italian and Portuguese. Also, a Spanish version will be published soon.

Based on a true story and written by Hannah Howe, author of the Amazon #1 Sam Smith Mystery Series, Saving Grace, “the courtroom drama of the year.”

The Western Mail
2 August 1876
Sensation in the Charles Petrie Case!

Readers may recall that a young banker, by name Mr Charles Petrie, with every opportunity of succeeding in his profession, and commanding a not illiberal income, returned home after riding his horse to dine with his wife, Grace, and her companion, Mrs Quinn. During and after dinner he had nothing to excite him save the receipt of a letter which somewhat annoyed him, and that his wife consumed rather more wine than he considered to be good for her health. Immediately after retiring to his room he was seized with symptoms of irritant poisoning, and despite every effort made on his behalf, he succumbed to its effects. An inquest was held, which vexed the minds of the Coroner’s jury to a degree without precedent in Coroners’ Inquest Law, and an open verdict was returned. However, the matter will not rest there, for after questions in Parliament, a second inquest has been called under suspicion that Mr Charles Petrie was murdered.


* * *

Who poisoned Charles Petrie? Dr James Collymore, a man familiar with poisons, a man harbouring a dark secret that, if exposed, would ruin his career; Florrie, the maid who supplied Charles with his bedtime drink; Bert Kemp, a disgruntled groom, who used poisons in his work, who four months previously had predicted Charles’ dying day; Mrs Jennet Quinn, a lady’s companion with a deep knowledge of poisons, and a deep fear of dismissal; or Grace Petrie, Charles’ wife of four months, a woman with a scandalous past, a woman shunned by polite society.

With crowds flocking to the courtroom and the shadow of suspicion falling upon Grace in the shape of the hangman’s noose, could dashing young advocate, Daniel Morgan, save her?

https://books2read.com/u/31rxal

Ken Follett

Like me, Hannah Howe, Ken Follett is from Wales, a land with a rich storytelling tradition. He once said, “My books have an international appeal…and I think being Welsh has something to do with it…not being English, being an outsider, has given me a perspective that is not parochial.”

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

One of the most popular novels of the twentieth century.

A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, The Pillars of the Earth is Ken Follett’s classic historical masterpiece.

books2read.com/u/bQ6qqw

A fascinating insight into the life, inspiration and books of Ken Follett.