Friday, 21 July 2017

Interesting read for the weekend? "The Race for Timbuktu"


Timbuktu rings a bell for all of us who were raised with the Donald Duck. When Donald had done something wrong and he had to race to a place as far remote as possible it was Timbuktu. In newer versions it is the North Pole I believe. But still I knew the name before hearing of it famous past.
  In 1825, Alexander Gordon Laing set out to become the first European to reach the city of Timbuktu since the Middle Ages. This “lively and informative” history (The Washington Post) traces his death-defying 2,000-mile journey.  Amazon writes:


"In the first decades of the nineteenth century, no place burned more brightly in the imagination of European geographers––and fortune hunters––than the lost city of Timbuktu. Africa's legendary City of Gold, not visited by Europeans since the Middle Ages, held the promise of wealth and fame for the first explorer to make it there. In 1824, the French Geographical Society offered a cash prize to the first expedition from any nation to visit Timbuktu and return to tell the tale.

One of the contenders was Major Alexander Gordon Laing, a thirty–year–old army officer. Handsome and confident, Laing was convinced that Timbuktu was his destiny, and his ticket to glory. In July 1825, after a whirlwind romance with Emma Warrington, daughter of the British consul at Tripoli, Laing left the Mediterranean coast to cross the Sahara. His 2,000–mile journey took on an added urgency when Hugh Clapperton, a more experienced explorer, set out to beat him. Apprised of each other's mission by overseers in London who hoped the two would cooperate, Clapperton instead became Laing's rival, spurring him on across a hostile wilderness.

An emotionally charged, action–packed, utterly gripping read, The Race for Timbuktu offers a close, personal look at the extraordinary people and pivotal events of nineteenth–century African exploration that changed the course of history and the shape of the modern world."

You can buy it here: http://amzn.to/2tn2rQB

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great - a book about the king who stood up against the Vikings

This one is not free but costs 1.99 dollar. However for everyone who enjoyed the tv series The Last Kingdom or Vikings or are just interested in Vikings and history in general l this might be an interesting read. I am buying it anyways.



The unlikely king who saved England.

Down swept the Vikings from the frigid North. Across the English coastlands and countryside they raided, torched, murdered, and destroyed all in their path. Farmers, monks, and soldiers all fell bloody under the Viking sword, hammer, and axe.

Then, when the hour was most desperate, came an unlikely hero. King Alfred rallied the battered and bedraggled kingdoms of Britain and after decades of plotting, praying, and persisting, finally triumphed over the invaders.

Alfred's victory reverberates to this day: He sparked a literary renaissance, restructured Britain's roadways, revised the legal codes, and revived Christian learning and worship. It was Alfred's accomplishments that laid the groundwork for Britian's later glories and triumphs in literature, liturgy, and liberty.

"Ben Merkle tells the sort of mythic adventure story that stirs the imagination and races the heart and all the more so knowing that it is altogether true!" George Grant, author of The Last Crusader and The Blood of the Moon .

This sounds as a promising #FREE (today) book. A murder mystery set in Gaul in 56 BC

This sounds as a promising #FREE (today) book:

Summer, 56 BC.

Caesar is waging a war on Gaul.

Cingetorix, king of the Cantiaci, sends his bard, Bran, to meet the ambassador of the Veneti and Bran’s old friend, Morigenos, who has an urgent message for his allies about the war.

But when Bran arrives in Glannomagos he finds Morigenos has been brutally murdered.

And a few days later, the corpse of a young woman is washed ashore.

It quickly becomes apparent that the young woman had witnessed Morigenos’ murder and that someone is trying to cover their tracks...

Realising that the motive was to stop Bran from receiving Morigenos’ message, he is determined to find the culprit.

But his suspects include the very people in charge of the official investigation. Bran must contend with Druids, menacing mercenaries, a renegade Roman sailor, scheming Atrebetians and his well-meaning but troublesome charges, Cingetorix’s sons.

As the omens point to a confrontation with the might of Rome, can Bran solve the murder, recover Morigenos’ secret message and still escape with his own life?

'A memorable. page-turning read.' - Robert Foster, best-selling author of 'The Lunar Code'.

Malcolm Gentle is a retired civil servant. He lives in Sheffield with his wife. 'Blood Sacrifice' is his first novel.

Endeavour Press is the UK’s leading independent publisher of digital books.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Review of free book "The Arabian Rose"

During the Second World war a young woman is posted as a war correspondent in a small Arabian harbour town on the edge of the desert. She falls in love with the town and its inhabitants. The British garrison however treats the locals with contempt. The commanding officer turns out to be a dangerous madman. The Germans are expected to attack any day. Tansy however is enjoying herself. She made a friend. A local she feels very attracted to. But then all hell breaks loose.

A beautiful and layered novel. But I might be prejudiced as I also fell in love with an Arab in a sleepy harbour town with whom I went to explore the desert. So my memory could bring up the sights and smells while reading this story.

I can really recommend this book. If a lovestory is not your cup of tea wait till it becomes a wartale that keeps you on the tip of your toes.

Only thing I found hard to swallow is that the British armed forces are committing warcrimes even when their crazed commanding officer is not there (I am not British by the way). I do understand that in the 1940ties some people harboured a deep mistrust or hatred towards natives but I would have expected it more from a German SS regiment.

The title refers to Tansy becoming an Arabian rose instead of the English rose she was.

Some scenes are very touching. Like the man who is insisting to read her her own journals so that she will know the names of the people to call for in heaven that she has forgotten due to her very old age.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Review of "The Red" - do I dare to tell I did read that?

For the website Nedgalley I review books that have not been published yet. This one had a beautiful cover and after the "50 shades of grey"- hype even a nun can admit to have read an erotic novel right?

Mona Lisa enherited the artgallery of her mother but the business was so deep in depths she had to fire the staff and was about to close it down. Then a very goodlooking man appeared in the gallery after closing time and offered her to save her gallery. But she had to have sex with him once and awhile for a period of a year. She thaught he was a rich guy and who wanted a mistress. What he wanted was to reenact famous paintings however.

Which means they have sex only a couple of times during that year but it is all a bit out of the ordinary.

To be honest I thought most of the book pure porn. I am a hopeless romantic so group orgies, flogging and the like are not my cup of tea.

However some of the things that happened seemed to hint to something that was strange and unexplainable. Like when Malcolm reenacts a painting of a satyr playing with nymphs he seems to have real satyr legs. Mona at first thinks it is just a matter of having spent a lot of money on re-ennacting.

So I wanted to know what was really going on. Mona Lisa herself wonders if he is the devil. In books everything is possible is it not? In the end we find out who Malcolm really is and to be honest that part of the book is quite good.

I also liked the fact that the book explained a lot about famous paintings or paintings that I had not know of from famous painters.



Book review: The Midwife: The Pocket Watch Chronicles - a kind of Outlander Light

Another of those novels in which a woman timetravels to Scotland ("Outlander" set a trend). This time even further: to the 12th century.

The beginning is interesting. How to practice medicine with modern knowledge but Dark Ages material. You can notice the writer has a medical background. When you cannot perform a Ceasarian what other options are left?

The second half however is a bit bland. I rather had seen a bit more background and soulsearching. As for instance in Outlander where the real history and politics of the period are described.

Not the deepest story but a nice one to read on a plane (train / bus) and I had hours to fill in transport.


Amazon is a lot cheaper than Bol.  Kindle you can read with an app on your phone.

Te koop via Bol.com

Te koop via Amazon


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Review of "Laws of Migration"


Birds, especially the ibis, have always fascinated Elize--that's why she became an ornithologist. But when her boss at the private Texas coastal institute where she's spent her career gives away her expected promotion, Elize flees to Morocco to lick her wounds and write a research paper that will prove her worth and secure her professional future.

Morocco, with its impressive migration season, exotic flavors, and unwritten rules, is altogether foreign, even if many of the birds are familiar. After a brush with danger, Elize finds herself in Marrakesh, dependent on Erik, a sexy, mysterious stranger who makes her feel alive while opening her eyes to a new, intriguing world. After encountering her ornithology colleagues, who remind Elize of every bad professional choice and missed opportunity, she vows to find the Northern Bald Ibis--an endangered bird few have seen--and impress everyone.

She and Erik journey from coastal paradise to remote desert mountains in search of the birds. Through misadventure, Elize is forced to trust an unknown culture, and through tragedy, she realizes that love and forgiveness are attainable. But first she must surrender her past and its pain to embrace her future and fly free.

For sale at Amazon and Bol.com (loading of the button can be slow, please wait and let me earn some commission)


I do have doves nesting on my balcony but that is all I know of birds. I did not even know all kind of groups of birds have a different name  in English like "a murder of crows". Maybe we do not have that in Dutch. All in all the small facts on birds were interesting to learn. Another plus was how I could recognise the real Morocco in the book. The story is a lovestory but even more that of someone whose life had been an emotional desert who slowly - with a lot of references to birds- starts to function living in and enjoying groups. To live, to feel, to be happy. At first one suspects it to be a dreadful chicklit romp but the story gets better after awhile.

------------