Running down Memory Lane to Russia, Plus Hot Reads and Cool Freebies

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are enjoying your 4th of July if you’re in the US, and staying cool if you’re anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re Down Under, I hope the winter is being reasonably mild and pleasant.

Speaking of cooler climes, Facebook is reminding me that ten years ago I traveled by boat from Lappeenranta, Finland to Vyborg, Russia.

Vyborg Castle was under repair while I was there, but I was still able to go inside and climb to the top of the tower.

This was ostensibly part of my dissertation research, since the poet I was writing about, Yevgeny Baratynsky, had been stationed in Vyborg for a time while it was still part of Finland, and Finland had just become an autonomous duchy in the Russian Empire (it’s complicated).

Later I used Vyborg as inspiration for the city of Pristanograd in the Zemnian Series. Dasha visits it at the end of The Breathing Sea, and stays in a castle that’s modeled (in my mind, at least) off of Vyborg Castle.

Sadly, I have no travel plans for this 4th of July, and I’m assuming that most of you don’t, either. Maybe someday…

Meanwhile, with all this stay-at-home time, I’ve managed to get some interesting reading done. I recently read Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf. Have you read it? What did you think? Judging by the reviews, it’s controversial. And while I fully acknowledge that it may not be for everyone, I thought it was excellent. I was thrilled to see an epic fantasy story set in an African-inspired world, written by a black author. The narrative style is distinctly non-Western/non-white, which may make it a more challenging read, but also adds significantly to the book’s value.

Another great-but-challenging read I’ve done recently is Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War. I’m edging gently into a research project on women’s war writing, or something like that, so obviously I had to start off with Alexievich. If you haven’t read her, I highly recommend it–but prepare yourself. The stories of Soviet women serving during WWII are harrowing, to put it mildly. Of course, if you’ve read Alexievich (or if you just have suggestions for other female war writers), I’d love to hear your thoughts!

(Side note: hot flashes suck! I’m dealing with one as I’m trying to type this. It’s probably my own fault for going outside and trying to catch some sun earlier, but jeez!)

In my own writing news, I’m working on finishing up the audiobook of The City of Shadows, book 3 in the Giaco & Luca series. Meanwhile, I have made The Shadowy Man, book 1 in the series, free on all retailers! Well, I think Amazon is being kind of sketchy about it, but it’s free in at least some Amazon stores and free for sure everywhere else. You can grab it plus a whole bunch more free fantasy books in the July Permafree Fantasy book event:

And if you’ve already gotten it, or you pick it up at this event, I would of course hugely appreciate a review! Especially on the non-Amazon stores. Amazon reviews are always welcome, but the other stores like Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo also need some love 🙂

Here’s the link to that free book event again:

Stay safe and have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


9 thoughts on “Running down Memory Lane to Russia, Plus Hot Reads and Cool Freebies

  1. Wow — you covered a lot in one post, Elena! Great that you remain so busy with reading and book writing, and that you were able to visit Russia a decade ago! I was there a number of years earlier.

    As for women’s war writing, I imagine you’re familiar with the very interesting “War Torn” book (2002). I knew one of the reporters (Tad Bartimus) featured in it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I was just thinking today that now I have time to do this, together with my partner, but as you said, it’s not possible sadly.

        Liked by 2 people

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