Last is kind of a funny word to choose smack dab in the middle of the alphabet, but it’s one of those words that grabs your attention right away. It’s a story, all by itself, and the use of it in a title gives the book a sense of nostalgia before it’s even started. It makes you ask “why,” and that’s a strong pull to read onward.
Last Train to Istanbul: A Novel by Ayse Kulin; translation John W. Baker.
Amazon for $4.99. International bestseller by one of Turkey’s most beloved authors
As the daughter of one of Turkey’s last Ottoman pashas, Selva could win the heart of any man in Ankara. Yet the spirited young beauty only has eyes for Rafael Alfandari, the handsome Jewish son of an esteemed court physician. In defiance of their families, they marry, fleeing to Paris to build a new life.
But when the Nazis invade France, the exiled lovers will learn that nothing—not war, not politics, not even religion—can break the bonds of family. For after they learn that Selva is but one of their fellow citizens trapped in France, a handful of brave Turkish diplomats hatch a plan to spirit the Alfandaris and hundreds of innocents, many of whom are Jewish, to safety. Together, they must traverse a war-torn continent, crossing enemy lines and risking everything in a desperate bid for freedom. From Ankara to Paris, Cairo, and Berlin, Last Train to Istanbul is an uplifting tale of love and adventure from Turkey’s beloved bestselling novelist Ayşe Kulin.
Like a mystery? Try Her Cousin Much Removed. Or download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities. It’s free!
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OK, that’s not entirely accurate. Or remotely accurate, but I couldn’t resist the joke.
Normally, about now I’d be telling you about a book you can buy from Amazon, but today I figured I’d flip that. I don’t know if you know, but Amazon will buy your books as well. It’s like a big, natural circle of reading. Amazon pays for shipping, so it won’t cost you anything. Current best-sellers are probably your best bet, but at least that takes some of the guilt out of buying a full-priced new book.
And it’s not just for books, either. You can trade in movies, video games and other things, and get an Amazon gift card in exchange. When I logged in, it even told me what some things I’d bought from Amazon were worth, which is nice to know, not that I’m parting with my Zumba World Party, which is the most fun game ever, but I digress.
So you can use books to feed your reading habit. It’s beautiful, in a way.
Anyway, thus concludes this public service announcement.
So we haven’t gone back in time for a while. Honestly, given a time machine, this story goes a little farther back into human history than I’d probably care to go–the 1200s were rough, man–but it’s always fun to take a trip safely between two covers. Or pixels, as the case may be here.
The Snow Leopard by Daniel Leston. Amazon for $3.85. The saga of one man’s epic struggle to survive during the tumultuous early years of the 13th century as two powerful and aristocratic families—one Russian, one Mongol—are inexorably drawn into bloody conflict, fated to play opposing sides in the creation of the largest empire of the medieval age. Cruelly betrayed while a mere boy by his brother’s vaulting ambition, he eventually overcomes bitter slavery far from his native land, achieving the status of a legendary warrior without peer among his adoptive people. Ultimately forced by tragic circumstances to choose between these two diverse cultures, he must finally decide where his true loyalties lay.
As past posts will attest, I’m intrigued by a literary mash-up, and this one is definitely mash-uppy. A spy thriller set in ancient Rome. Who’da thunk it? Apparently, author Q.V. Hunter.
The Back Gate to Hell, a Novel of the Late Roman Empire by Q. V. Hunter. $5.99 from Smashwords.com
Roman agent Numidianus’ mission to spy on Caesar Gallus and his vicious consort Constantia tosses him into Antioch’s cesspool of corruption. This third adventure in the Embers of Empire pits Marcus against the warring heirs to the Constantine dynasty and the eunuchs who rule them. Can Marcus save the Empire? More important, can he save his son Leo from mutilation by the Chief Eunuch, Eusebius?
Todd Cooks’s Madame made the “Books” list because of its delightfully odd mash-up of concepts. 18th century and a description that starts with “France’s version of Area 51?” Sold.
Madame by Todd Cook. $3.99 from Smashwords.com
For centuries, a preserve known as “The Royal Lands” was France’s version of “Area 51.” Soldiers guarded the perimeter, and only they and specially authorized royalty were allowed inside, but what was being kept there? Speculation ranged from military armaments to monsters. In 1718, young Jean du Vivier accepts a post inside The Royal Lands.