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Squeezing Out Some Time To Read

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Writing Christmas cards. Shopping. Planning travel. Wrapping. Baking. Decorating.

Is it any surprise I’m not finding as much time to read these days?

I did manage to squeeze in a few books. Here are two (actually four) worth mentioning:

(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you buy the book. You pay the same exact price. Doesn’t make me a lot of money, but it helps to cover the costs of this blog.)

The Orientalist

One of my favorite books of all time is Ali and Nino by Kurban Said. Even this simple statement hides a mystery: just who was Kurban Said? When I came across a book that traced his history and revealed not just his identity but the complexity and tragedy of his life, I knew I had to read it.

It’s hard to describe The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life. I loved the beginning, tracing the roots of the man who became Kurban Said through his early years in pre-Soviet Baku, then across Turkey and through Europe, to Germany and finally Italy.

The sections about Germany got a little tedious. The author seemed to think that a mini-biography of every significant person in Kurban Said’s life was in order, as was a detailed history of the politics of Germany.

While some of this was interesting, there were some rather glaring errors. One in particular was the author’s annoying insistence on calling fascists “right-wingers.” Fascists, those who believe that government should control industry and commerce are anything but “right-wing.” The Nazis’ official party name was National Socialists, putting them clearly on the left of the political spectrum. Fascists are only right-wing to people further on the left, the socialists and communists.

In contrast to the overwhelming detail of German politics, significant events of Kurban Said’s life were skipped over. How did he end up in a sanatorium? And how did he get out?

In spite of these problems, the book did give me insight into the life of the author of a much-loved book, as well as a look into some history I’d never known before.

And, it seems, the mystery of Kurban Said lives on. Some of those who reviewed the book claim that Kurban Said is not who the author, Tom Reiss claims he is. We may never know.

A Servant of the Crown Mysteries

Set in the year 1194, Sir Faucon de Ramis has been just appointed Keeper of the Pleas. His duties? To make rulings in the case of deaths in the shire. Partly to ensure that murderers don’t get off, but more importantly, to make certain that the crown receives its due share of death duties.

Sir Faucon takes his task seriously. In the first of the series, he solves the case of a miller found under his millwheel. In the second, he tackles the problem of a rich merchant murdered in his own home. And in the third, a leper’s daughter is pulled from a village well and the only suspect has fled the scene.

In all of these stories, the rich detail brings the time to life and Sir Faucon doesn’t disappoint as an unlikely detective. Full of surprising twists, I found each of these novels in the A Servant of the Crown Mystery (3 Book Series)to be enjoyable and fun. Reading these stories made me want to read more of Denise Domning’s work.



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