2016 To-Read List. Part Two

 

It’s been a while, but finally, I managed to complete my To-Read list. Six more titles added:

7. The Pindar Diamond by Katie Hickman.

Published 2010, it is the second volume of a trilogy. A story that began in sixteenth-century Constantinople (in The Aviary Gate (2008)) is now to be continued in early-seventeenth-century Venice. What will happen to Paul Pindar who lost his beloved Celia Lamprey in the previous book? Dreams ruined, a life deprived of meaning and a diamond to change it all. As for The Aviary Gate, I would recommend it if one is interested in Ottoman harems and history (Again? Yes. 🙂 ). It depicts the intrigues and crimes behind the Sultan’s Palace, the life of women who either have dreamt of being there or, like Celia, have become part of it against their will. Is the harem paradise or is it a prison? The story is a bit dark at times, but quite intriguing. The Pindar Diamond, too, is said to be “disturbing and very dark” (Wendy Holden from Daily Mail).

8. Kit by Marina Fiorato.

Another favourite woman writer. Kit (2015) is her latest novel and the only one I haven’t read. As for the rest, if you like reading about the history of Italy and Europe, about political conspiracies, unrevealed mysteries, romance and strong-minded beautiful women, I believe you will appreciate Fiorato’s oeuvre. There you go: The Glassblower of Murano (2008), The Madonna of the Almonds (2009), The Botticelli Secret (2010), The Daughter of Siena (2011), The Venetian Contract (2012), Beatrice and Benedict (2014). And although they are all pleasant to read, I still consider The Botticelli Secret to be the best among them. We’ll see about Kit. Once again, there is a beauty, the Irish Kit Kavanagh, finding herself in men’s world. War, dangers, eighteenth-century Europe, a woman trying to find her husband and a handsome man to mess up her feelings along the way, all interwoven in a book based on a true story. The author has made a serious research about the historical figure Kit Kavanagh, “following in her footsteps” from Dublin, through Italy to London. Another thing I love about Marina Fiorato – there are always some real events and personages and a lot of research behind the plot. I will definitely buy Kit.

Talking about favourite women writers, I just can’t omit her name, the extremely talented American author Kate Quinn. Her debut, Mistress of Rome, is one of the most gripping books I have ever read. I like reading about ancient Rome and maybe this is why I am so fond of Kate Quinn’s works (not to forget the epic must-read Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz, of course). To my regret, I have read only three of Quinn’s novels, which means there is a lot to catch up with. Here, the list of three more books I intend to read this year:

9. Lady of the Eternal City (2015) by Kate Quinn.

The story of Sabina, now the Empress, and the ex-gladiator Vix from Empress of the Seven Hills (2012) continues. Rome under the rule of Hadrian – a world of war, betrayals and treachery. What former lovers Sabina and Vix will do in the name of the Empire? And what will be the role of Mirah, Vix’s humble wife? In Empress of the Seven Hills Mirah is actually a powerful character, the embodiment of female strength, and I really like her portrait because there is a hidden rebel in her. But she was a kind of minor personage. I am pretty sure we can expect much more from her in Lady of the Eternal City. Perhaps she is not that humble any longer…

10. The Serpent and the Pearl (2013) by Kate Quinn.

Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and riddled with secrets… This is how the book’s announcement opens. And I am already fascinated. The notorious Borgias family and a young woman, Giulia Farnese, in their world of ruthlessness and lust for power. I know, you would say I pay too much attention to this side of history – political affairs, corruption and plots, murders, crimes and so on, but I can’t help it. Besides, Kate Quinn has proved to be good at adding some flavour to such stories. There is usually a bit of irony and sense of humor; the depiction of atrocities is vivid enough, but not repulsive; the narrative is never boring. Certainly, her novels are historical, and yet they are meant to entertain readers. I believe The Serpent and the Pearl is no exception.

11. The Lion and the Rose (2014) by Kate Quinn.

If I have read the first novel of The Borgias, there is no way I miss its continuation. It smells like more corruption, crimes and blood, and enemies hiding on every corner of Rome. Dangers haven’t been over for Giulia Farnese and her two loyal friends, Leonello and Carmelina. And Rome hasn’t ceased to be a place where “every face wears a mask”…

12. When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon.

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Picture by Goodreads

Published 2014, this book seems to be a nice read, although its genre may not be exactly my cup of tea. A Greek island, myths, past and present, and the deep relationship between a successful American woman and her Yia-yia. Going back to her homeland, Daphne is about to discover more about her family, but also about herself and what she really wants in life. What bothers me about the novel is that it might turn out to be a bit too women-fiction piece and a magical realism too, and I am not a fan of either. Remember Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel? I didn’t really enjoy it. But still, When the Cypress Whispers is about Greece and I absolutely love this country – rich culture and traditions, magnificent landscapes, white-blue houses, narrow lanes and the sound of music everywhere. I suspect the narration tells more about the main character’s inner world rather than offering romantic descriptions of the setting. Well, I am in search of good reads and not shallow ones, aren’t I? So I don’t mind if this is the case here. Comments on how good the novel fluctuate quite widely, so I feel like finding out myself. Yet, I am sure I’ll see the charm of Greece, and hopefully a wonderfully written story.

I’ll stop here. Needless to say, there are many other books I have in mind. It is not a reading challenge, though. No goals, it’s all about the joy of reading. Read and have fun. 🙂

 

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