Tag Archives: Wales

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 #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 #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