Skip to content

Category: Books

Books 2

Master of All Desires

by Judith Merkle Riley

In 1556 France, Queen Catherine de Medici spies on her husband, King Henri II, and his lover, Diane de Poitiers.

Driven nearly mad by jealousy, the queen, who is “very fond of do-it-yourself magic,” is frustrated with her court astrologer’s ineffective powers, until he reveals his knowledge of the magical object called the Master of All Desires.

This is a centuries-old box that contains the living head of Menander the Undying – a magus who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal life. Anyone in possession of the sharp-tongued, mean-spirited and unpleasant head may have their wishes granted, selling their own soul in the process.

With the queen in pursuit of Menander, the famous Nostradamus gets involved in the story.

Prophete Nostradamus

Not to mention that the country is on the doorstep of the civil war.

However, I found the book full of wicked thumbnail sketches of power players, riotous actions, delicious mystery and romance, luminous prose, and feisty heroines with a feminist sensibility.

Books 9

The Secret of the Turin Shroud

At the beginning a bit borring but then you get into the secrets of the Vatican and catholic church.

As the most spectacular murder in Los Angeles happens, the detectives are on their way to end up in Turin, Italy where the shroud of Jesus Chirst lays…. in all its secrets…

Shroud of Turin  is a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man who is alleged to be Jesus of Nazareth. In the book is an inspiration of a mass murderer from Los Angeles.

A federal agent –  expert in religious iconography – exposes a demented killer from LA and an intricate conspiracy that dates back to the death of Christ.

The book is packed with fascinating information about the most controversial religious icon in the world, The Turin Shroud Secret.

nintchdbpict000339470494
Books 5

The Bourbon Kings

For generations, the Bradford family is the synonym for the best world wide bourbon. The spirit that comes from Kentucky, USA and made of corn.

The sustained wealth of the Brandford family has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly.

20019072._SX540_

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

Books 11

The Salt Road

The magnificent Sahara and the Berber tribes that belongs to it are wonderfully described in this book:

Izzy discovers that her amulet is a Tuareg artefact containing an inscription in Tifinagh, a language of the ancient world used for poetry and magic, understood now only by nomads in the deep desert. The desert routes once travelled by caravans of camels bearing ivory, gold and salt are now more perilous than ever but Isobel must follow them if she is ever to lay her ghosts to rest.

Out in the magnificent wastes of the Sahara she will find more than she ever dreamed: not only the answer to her mysterious inheritance, but a romance as grand and sweeping as the desert itself…

Books 6

Burial Rites

by Hannah Kent

Even though this book is a fiction, it is based on true events.

Agnes Magnúsdóttir is the last person executed on Iceland, accused of participating in the murder of Nathan Ketilsson and Peter Jonsson on the night between 13 and 14 March 1828 in Illugastadir, on the Vatnsnes peninsula in northern Iceland.

preuzmiThe story about her confessions live in the nowadays Iceland. Her tomb is present at Tjorn, northern Iceland where she is buried together with her partner in crime.

The authow wrote her view on life and way of thinking of Agnes. She first heard this ghost story when she was an exchange student in Iceland.

The author is beautifully describing the then Iceland in 19th century, its political and  religious values and relations with the king in Kopenhagen.

The tradition, beliefs, hard life under terrible meteo conditions of this northern country are very well described as well, the people’s survival through agriculture and livestock breeding etc.

As a feminist, I saw this book in the following way: this book gives a different view into a life of a woman who was an orphan, strong enough mentally to survive, but weak enough to fall in love. Sadly, the society sentenced her to death for witchcrafting… just one more in the row.

 

Books 5

Sultan’s Wife

Morocco, 1677.

The tyrannical King Ismail resides over the palace of Meknes. Through the sweltering heat of the palace streets, Nus Nus is his slave. He is  circumsized, of course, and as eunuh fights his emotions.

Meanwhile, young, fair Alys Swann is captured during her crossing to England, where she is due to be wed. Sold into Ismail’s harem, she is forced to choose: renounce her faith and become subject to the King or die.

Ismail ibn Sharif was the second ruler of the Moroccan Alaouite dynasty. He is also known in his native country as the “Warrior King”.  Ismaïl is also known as a fearsome ruler and used at least 25,000 slaves for the construction of his capital (also mentioned in the book). His Christian slaves were often used as bargaining counters with the European powers, ransoming them back for inflated sums or for rich gifts. Most of his slaves were obtained by Barbary pirates in raids on Western Europe.

martin_des_gobelins_pierre_denis-the_reception_of_franois_pidou_de_sai-OM9da300-10157_19991217_6234_73
Ismail ibn Sharif receiving ambassador François Pidou de Saint Olon from Louis XIV of France, by Pierre-Denis Martin (1693)

He fought the Ottoman Turks  in 17th century and fought with Spaniards and French kings.

Books 5

Russian Concubine

6633Russian Concubine and the Secret of a Concubine are 2 beautiful novels that start in St Petersburg right after the First Russian Revolution and the aristocracy is killed to give the room to communism and shared state property.

The beautiful pianist Valentina Ivanova somehow managed to escape and buy a five-year-old daughter, Lidija, with her jewels, and her husband was allegedly killed. The

fugitives found themselves in the International Colony in China, where they hardly survived. Lidia grew into a red-haired, young woman, who could not curl her depressed mother. One day, she walked into Chinese hands on a pocket walk, which she would surely have killed if she was not saved by the wild Chang Anla, a young Chinese Communist commander.

A hot love has entered, which has outgrown intercultural and political differences and has changed their pathways for ever. In this romantic story, the English writer also listed some of her mother’s experiences, which she showed to her daughters at an early age that life is fragile and swift and that the only real values ​​are those we carry in our heads and grow in our heart .

Books 4

Red Tent

This story is from biblical times and as such follows The Bible and the  Genesis 34,  but it is different in many important ways.

It is explaining how women in time of their periods needed to stay in red tent, telling each other’s story to amuse themselves.

It is the story of women in the men times. No woman has a leadership role in the Bible. No woman in the Old Testament has a role but to give birth to progeny. Even when there is a woman appearing in the Old Testament she is usually only mentioned in the listing.

So this is a story about Dinah – the daughter of Jacob, only sister of Joseph. She is raped by a prince whose father then offers to pay a dowry so that his son might wed her. Jacob agrees on the condition that all the men of the town are circumcised according to their family’s tradition. The king agrees. While all the men are still in pain from their circumcision, Jacob’s sons raid the town and slaughter them all.

Dinah then drops out of the Bible and is never heard from again.

The Red Tent tells this story from Dinah’s point of view, and it is the story as we have never heard it before. She begins with the story of her mothers, Jacob’s wives: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah. She then tells her story…

 

 

Books 4

Princess Sultana

The story of Princess Sultan is true. The words are the authors’, but the story is princesses’. The shocking human tragedies described in this book are factual.

0In a country still ruled by kings, she is a princess. The men of her country hold firmly patriarchal laws. The Saudi Arabian male’s honor rests on the honor of women, and therefore the man must impose his authority on and control of a woman’s sexuality or whether she is faced with public disgrace.

Sultana tells of her life in The Al S’ud Family: appalling oppressions, everyday occurrences that in any other culture would be seen as shocking human rights violations.

Books 3

Wolf from steppe

This is an epic story about Genghis Khan – a founder of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia in 12th and 12th century.

Invading Europe many times, it is said that 1/5 of the descendants in Europe and directly from his raping moments.

The story starts with the birth of a child (later the Genghis Khan) with the blood clot in his hand. Apparently, the legend says it was a sign of a great warrior. The sotry follows epic moments of nomadic tribe family: a father and his sons in eagle huntings and domestication etc…  upon battles of the Genghis amongs tribes for the great unification.

ea86170bd9db41b0cff7d99a3476faf3

abbey 2

Pillars of Light

The monks gave him the name John Savage. He as a savage for them, living with them in some abbey in the Northern England, raping him and beating. After this John would usually fall into epilepsy. Monks were calling it a devil’s attack.

John escapes with his mysterious Maur man… somehow there is something about both of them being together. They are travelling around England and collecting the money for King’s Richard The Lionsheart’s exhibition to the Crusades.

crusades_final

Richard The Lionsheart  (historical fact) is so keen on warpath to Jerusalem and Near East that he is ready to sell London to get the money.  Luckily, someone else in Wallonie sold his castle for this cause. You can find the post where I am visiting this castle in Bouillon here.

641755_original

 

In the city of Akra, nearby Jerusalem, (then Syria, nowadays at the terriotry of Israel) at the same time, the two lovers of jewish and muslim origins are having their own paradise. Before the ships from Europe arrive and Crusade war starts…

Reading this book, I was constantly thinking about the current situation in Syria and how history is showing us how we never ever learn anything from the past lessons. Historia magistr vitae est. 

As a political scientist of comparative politics, I was commparing the beheadings that Crusader warriors ordered with nowadays fanatics beheadings of the extrimists.

Terrorism is nothing new and it doesn’t go down to one culture or religion.

 

 

 

 

Books 2

Lotos from Nile

Cleopatra’s Alexandria (nowaday’s Egypt) is tragically fallen after Caesar‘s assassination in 1 century BCE, and her allieanation with Mark Antony (the following Roman Emperor).

Cleopatra kills herself with letting the royal cobra snake bites her.

Her twins children survived and they are ment to rule Alexandria together as half-gods The Sun and The Moon.

Selena (daughter of Mark Antony) was taken from Egypt and together with her twoin brother Ptolomey and half-brother Cesarion (the son of Cesar Augustus) were exhibited in Rome as a war trophy. The Romans kept them chained by chains through the city.

However, at the moment their life is about to end, they are saved by the emperor’s nurse who takes them to a home for the royal orphan. Egypt is deeply enrolled in Selena’s heart and she is ready to re-build the empire again in the name of her mother Cleopatra.

cleo-marco-antonio

 

Books 3

One night in Winter

The author is Simon Sebag Montefiore – one of my favourite writers.

The story follows the prohibited love affair of two which came to light in 1945. While Russia celebrates victory over the Nazis, shootings are scattered in the midst of the great Moscow celebration: on the earth are the lifeless body of two students, young men and girls in costumes from the 19th century.

It is about the boys of Soviet leaders who attend the most prominent school in the country. Was it a murder? Or a suicide? Or love triangle? And maybe even a riot against Stalin – or one of the leader’s ruthless intrigues?

Moscow_winter-57133d4e5f9b588cc2aaaef0

The entire story is a complete missunderstanding where young students are encouraged by romantict poets like Puškin, acting the drama play while the dangerous times of communism are more and more surrounding them.

Missunderstanding becomes even deeper when Stalin orders to investigate the murder as  a potential conspiracy theory against him.

Books 2

Richard’s Queen

Philippa Gregory is one of the best historical novel writers nowadays. Her most famous iteration of books is The Cousin’s Wars describing through her novels the War of Roses for control of the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster (associated with a red rose), and the House of York (whose symbol was a white rose). The conflict lasted through many sporadic episodes of 15 and 16 century.

 

 

At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Ann from a bright child grows into a frightened and desperate girl whose father set off to war against her former friends.

She is married at the age of fourteen, since her father dies, her mother ends up in a monastery, and her sister marries an enemy, she is soon widowed and orphaned. Ann is able to rescue her to marry Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will come into conflict with an overwhelming royal family and cost the lives of those she loves most in the world, above all her precious son, Prince Edward’s.

tumblr_n5ywhsyYd41tc4r0yo1_400

Finally, her father Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick the so-called Kingmaker becomes fulfilled as his daughter Ann will succeed in achieving the greatest ambition of him…

Books 3

Imprimatur l and ll

The book comes in two sequels, written by two authors Rita Monaldi and Francesco Sorti. 

The place of happening is Rome, in September 1683. While the Turkish army spends on the borders of the West and opens Vienna, the sudden death of a passenger at the inn in the center of the Holy City invites the panic: is it a poison or plague?

detenice 20

From the fear of infection, the quarantine was inaugurated in the inn and the guests were imprisoned in their rooms; Among them is Abbot Ato Melani, a ghost and secret agent in the service of Louis XIV, determined to discover what lies behind this unusual death.

His investigation will, however, reveal a terrible secret, an international conspiracy in which religion, politics and espionage are intertwined.

In an atmosphere of baroque Rome full of uncertainty, among secret underground corridors and alchemical laboratories, hunter-dogs on relics and illegal printing, strange medical and culinary recipes, an unimaginable aspect of Europe’s history – emerges a great plot managed to reconstruct historical times of Middle Ages.

Books 13

The Constant Princess

Throughout my life I am constantly reading about the history of women, their position in society, and the struggle for power. The more I read about them as the background rulers in a particularly male world, the more inspiration I find, the more I identify myself.

The last in the series (from the Book of Wars of the Cousins, ie War of the Roses) is Catherine of Aragon – the first woman of King Henry VIII, daughter of Isabelle Castillas and Ferdinand Aragon, who for the first time united Spain, and the mother of the Scottish Queen, Bloody Mary.

Her rise to english throne starts as a wife of older brother of Henry VIII. Catherine was three years old when she was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the English throne. They married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later and she married Henry the VIII who later will separate from Vatican church and establich English Church in order to gain Ann Boleyn.

In 1507, Catherine of Aragon held the position of ambassador of the Aragonese Crown in England, the first female ambassador in European history!

Her and Henry’s  daughter,  was the future Mary I of England.

Regardless of her warlike spirit, she was not Henrik’s true love…