Thursday, 29 December 2016

"In a far country" - growing up in a mission in India and then finding yourself alone in the world - review

"Someone's personality is formed by genes and circumstances" is what my teacher father always says. This is essentially what this story is about. Someone explains at the end that loving someone is something you have to learn as a child. And that because that person was not loved - and we know had very bad biological parents - he is so self absorbed.

19-century India, a few years after the rebellion. Pree (15) lives as the daughter of two very damaged and poor British missionaries in a rural mission. Her life evolves around her ill mother and taking care of the sick Indians who come to the mission for medical treatment. Kai, who is a couple of years older, and his mother Glory, a leper and a cook who are all Indian live there too.

In the next two years all the certainties in her life crumble away. Somehow that made me think of Dickens books or the one by Pallister. It makes one realise that in those days you had no social network to rely upon when things turned sour, no authorities to ask for help. That one day you could lead a very respectable life and the next month could be in the clutches of a whore madam.

When all seems lost Pree embarks on a journey to find the person she loved all her life in hope of his help and protection. But because of that journey she finds a totally unexpected happiness.

The book is well written and a real page turner. There was only one aspect I wondered about. A certain gentleman has a senior position in the government but is half Afghan - half British and was married to a Muslim Afghan woman. In the highly segregated society of British India - as it is shown in the book but also in others - I wonder if that was possible. The man also explains his British mother returned to England but his father somehow still lives in Afghanistan and it is clear he uses an English surname. So was he illegitimate? And was it then possible to have such a respected position? But I noticed it is the same surname as the writer uses in another of her books so maybe this gentleman is supposed to be related to that book and the answers to my questions are answered there.



AMAZON

"Pree Fincastle, daughter of impoverished British missionaries in India, is left alone and destitute when tragedy strikes. Turned away by the Church, she embarks on a journey in search of Kai, the son of her mother’s ayah, and the only person she can trust. But Kai is not the man Pree thought he was, and the secrets he holds will unlock the door to another world, another time – and, shockingly, another life.

Haunting, powerful, and heartbreaking, In a Far Country tells of an enthralling journey. From the whispering Ravi River to the bustling Grand Trunk Road, from the cantonments of Lahore to the bazaars of Peshawar, this is a breathtaking story of penury and prostitution, of tragedy and bloodshed, of secrets and love. But ultimately it is a story of hope; a story that, once read, will never be forgotten."

BOL.com

Een jonge vrouw zoekt naar een plek om zich thuis te voelen Witte Jasmijn is het spannende en dramatische verhaal van de eigenzinnige Pree Fincastle en haar zoektocht naar geluk en liefde in Noord- India halverwege de negentiende eeuw. Pree groeit op in een bescheiden missieziekenhuis net buiten Lahore. Haar leven als fatsoenlijke missionarisdochter verandert volkomen als haar vader sterft en zijn vele geheimen een voor een worden onthuld. Verstoten door de kerk en zonder geld op zak gaat ze op zoek naar haar jeugdliefde Kai, de enige die ze durft te vertrouwen. Maar Kai is niet de man die ze denkt dat hij is. De geheimen die hij met zich meedraagt onthullen de schokkende waarheid van haar familiegeschiedenis en brengen Pree naar een nieuwe wereld en een nieuw leven. Van de nauwe straatjes en kleurrijke bazaars van Peshawar tot de besneeuwde bergtoppen van de Himalaya, Witte Jasmijn is een adembenemende vertelling van liefde, tragedie en hoop. Een verhaal om nooit meer te vergeten.



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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

A siege during the crusades seen through the eyes of the opposing parties - review of "pillars of light"

When a friend of mine told writer Jane Johnson I used her book "The Tenth gift" in class she surprised me by sending me this book with a nice note. Unbeknownst to her I am quite familiar with the area the story is set as I travelled Israel, Jordan and Syria when I was young. And I am very interested in the crusades.So I looked forward reading this book. But now let me review it.

The novel reads as a history book with the main characters as witnesses of the unfolding events. It focusses on the siege of Akka (or Acra, now Akko in Israel) when it was under Muslim rule. Jerusalem has just fallen (see movie "Kingdom of Heaven") and King Richard Lionheart sails for the Holy Land planning to conquer Jerusalem again. But first there is the strategic port city Akka.

We see the events unfold from mostly three main characters. There is Muslim Zohra who lives in Akka and is secretly in love with Jewish doctor Nathaniel, her brother Malek who is an elite soldier of Saladin the sultan and leader of the Muslims and the English young man John who discovers he is gay.

My town was also besieged but centuries later - 16th century - and still stories are told about the famine. Accordingly to folk legends the mayor offered his arm to the hungry mob. But also in the Second World War people were dying on the streets from hunger here. That makes it easy to picture what the book is describing. The slowly starving of a town where people more and more get to the end of their options and on the other hand the harsh lives of the besiegers who endure a kind of WW1 trenches existence.

Woven into that are elements as the relics scams of those days, architectural developments, being gay (interesting to see one of the main characters gay and also some others while the book is not about being gay - just like in real life), the questions about faith, the position of women, mental illness, discrimination, hating Jews, medicine, the assasin sect and a lot more.

It is not overly sentimental while the events are very cruel, it is never sexual explicit even with several lovestories developing. Apart from what John is thinking it reads as if we are looking at the scenes like watching a movie.

There is one scene that immediately made me think of old material of WWII Jewish people going in their best cloths to their doom. Maybe because I have seen that on film made that part of the story so real.

The beginning is a bit slow. All the fundraising in England was not overly interesting but I can see that is was a good method to give all the main characters a true to live full persona.

It left me with the feeling that Richard Lionheart was a cruel man and not the hero of chivalry as he is often depicted. Looking at his brother and parents that could be explained by genes. It made me think it must have been divine punishment that he never did take Jerusalem or father an heir.

Saladin is as generous as depicted in Kingdom of Heaven but it is a known fact that even his contemporary enemies admired him as a "true knight". The writer manages to draw him as a man suffering from maladies and sometimes frustrated and not make him into some superhero what he more or less is and was for the Muslims. I stood paying homage at his grave in 1999.

There was one thing I could not understand. After all the famine there is suddenly tea and bread again but later on food shortage is mentioned again. Where did the victors get that food that fast?

It also left me with the question who the Moor is supposed to be. At the end there is a hint but that might need rereading the book for other hints.

I really recommend the book. A 5 out of 5 stars. Also a great way to learn more about history.

You can buy it by clicking on the picture link. I have the paperbackversion what is real nice quality.

When I looked Akka now Akko up on Google Maps I was surprised to see a flat town while reading the book I had pictures a hill-town like Jerusalem. See picture below.





Sunday, 18 December 2016

Review of "Native Gold" - for some light reading material about white girls and Indian braves

Orphan Mattie, from upperclass Boston, travels West to meet her mailorder bride husband-to-be who is a doctor in a small mining town. However upon arrival she learns the man kicked the bucket just one day prior. So Mattie inherits his hut and tries to fend for herself. The miners are a rough but goodhearted bunch what made me think of the story of Snowwhite and the 7 dwarves somehow.

While in Paradise Bar she meets two Native American, Indian, brothers. One a small boy, the other a mighty hunter. Well you can guess what happens next.  She falls in love.

It was a nice light-hearted read over Saturday when I was tired.

However the cover picture is incorrect as Mattie has straw blonde hair and is a white woman.



AMAZON writes:

A unique love letter to the Gold Rush town of Paradise, California!
CALIFORNIA LEGENDS...These are chronicles of the Old West--of the native people who lived on the land for generations and the pioneers who came from all over the world in search of riches…the struggle to survive in a land without laws…the strange bedfellows that resulted from the clash of cultures…and the common language of the heart that spoke of a love more precious than gold.
NATIVE GOLD: Book 1Mathilda Hardwicke, a rebellious artist rejected by her family and New York society, heads west to Gold Rush California to make a new life for herself as a mail-order bride. When fate leaves her at the altar in Paradise Bar--a ramshackle gold camp full of ragtag miners--she's sure she's leaped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

But unbeknownst to Mattie, she has a protector. Sakote, a fierce Konkow warrior, is bound by honor to watch over the white woman. And though his tribe is threatened by the encroaching miners, he's strangely drawn to Mattie, who delights in making pictures of him and whose destiny seems entwined with his.

When a tragedy at the camp forces Sakote to steal Mattie away, she finds herself in an unfamiliar Paradise of savage wonder, and she soon discovers a forbidden love more precious than gold.
Book Details
  • An original novel based on the Gold Rush history of the author's home town of Paradise, California
  • R-rated for sensual passages
  • Includes historical information and vocabulary from the Konkow tribe
  • Coming soon, Book 2--NATIVE WOLF and Book 3--NATIVE HAWK

Review of " East India" - the nightmare of a shipwrecked group


Some of you might have had to read "Lord of the Flies" for English literature lessons in the past. In that book a plane crashes on a tropical island and only a bunch of boarding school boys survive. Before you know it they turn into brutal savages and murder is rampant.

Here in this book we see more or less the same. The writer used a real foundering of a Dutch merchantman on a Australian reef and the horrendous aftermath as inspiration but explains that he made it into a novel because if he used the real events he had no artistic freedom.

The main character is well-to-do Cornelia Noorstrandt who travels to the Dutch Indies to meet up with her husband. But en route the passengers and crew are played against each other by a passenger. The general conditions are not that comfortable as well. Tensions rise and mutiny is just a breath away. And then the ship hits the Houtman rocks! Although most of the people survive the the problems start for real. Hardly any food or water and a captain who abandons them to sail to Batavia.

The story has you glued to your book for days and has you shivering. But I think the description on Amazon makes it sound like a love story while it is more a story like Lord of the Flies in showing how thin the veneer of civilisation is.

A good story but what a terrible tale!

I also had the feeling that some of the old Dutch words used in the book were not correct. Something that sounds as "verdedigers" is translated as diggers what was a nickname of Australian soldiers in WW1 and means someone who digs but the Dutch word verdediger means "defender". Also the captain calls his mistress Soetecut what is translated as "sweetcunt" but I wonder if not the word "Soeteke" was meant what was an endearment used in the past and meant something like sweetheart. I cannot imagine even a sailor telling his girl in public she is a sweetcunt.

If you want to buy the book or read it with Amazon Kindle Unlimited just click on the small picture with the price in this blogposts.





AMAZON states:

In any other circumstance but shipwreck, rape and murder, a man like Michiel van Texel would never have met a fine lady such as Cornelia Noorstrandt.

He was just a soldier, a sergeant in the Dutch East India company’s army, on his way from Amsterdam to the Indies to fight the Mataram. Such a woman was far above the likes of him.

But both their destinies intertwine far away from Holland, on some god-forsaken islands near the Great Southland. When their great ship, the Utrecht, founders far from home, surviving the Houtman Rocks is the least of their worries.

As they battle to survive and the bravest and the best reveal themselves for what they are, Cornelia’s only hope is a mercenary in a torn coat who shows her that a man is more than just manners and money.

He makes her one promise: ‘Even if God forsakes you, I will find you.’

But can he keep it?

Described by one critic as ‘Jack and Rose in the seventeenth century’, East India will keep you wondering until the final page.

Review of "Morocco, maybe" - a young corporate lawyer joins a group touring Morocco and starts to doubt her life

For those who ever visited Morocco and did the "Royal cities"- tour around the country this book is a feast of recognition as we say in Dutch. But the book offers so much more.

Sara is a young corporate attorney who ruthlessly goes for the kill to further her career. In this case to stop an archaeological dig in Afghanistan so her client a Chinese mining corporation can start mining.

But when she attends a charity function with her fiancé Nathan it is clear that her life is very "empty". She is the only one who takes the time to go and look at the artwork from Afghanistan, the rest is discussing golf. Her fiancé does not bother to have a look even when Sara used to study Art and he must know it is something that hugely interests her. There is only one other person interested in the art, a handsome man. He advises her to bid on the trips in the auction and that is what she tells her fiancé Nathan to do. To be flabbergasted that the guy she chatted with at the art exhibit  turns out to be the guest speaker at the event and the leading archaeologist at the dig she tried to shut down by having him expelled from Afghanistan.

"He can dig for my treasures any day", a woman quipped at the nearby table.
"I got some relics for him to uncover," said an older brunette in a prim dress.
Other women joined the drunken chorus to sing fresh praises for the archeologist. Ridiculous. I heades to the gallery, leaving the brouhaha behind.

Nathan wins a trip for two for them to Morocco but then at the last moment decides it is better to stay home to do something for his work. Pissed off Sara decides to go to Morocco alone. The very expensive arranged tour however is full with the same boring types as attended the fundraising.

Then the spot of Nathan is filled by Kai. Kai the archeologist. It takes him however just a day to decide he rather continues as a backpacker with an old friend and they ask Sara to tag along. Causing a complete cultureshock on her part.

So far you will think this book sounds like a romance novel for women but it has more to offer.

First of all it gives a very recognisable idea of the mayor Moroccan touristic spots. I really enjoyed that as I toured the country in 2005 a bit along the same route.

But second of all at the second half of the book it suddenly turns very serious. How to cope with a tremendous loss? Should one try and be loyal to someone or follow your heart? Can you just throw away all you worked for? It had me in tears.

For someone in the legal profession with a love for history and once a ton of grief it was quite close to home.

I can really recommend it!


And it seems to be written by a man!!!.

Just 99 cents on Kindle so what are you waiting for? Just click on the picture below.




AMAZON wrote:

Sara Meadows is an ambitious attorney who helps her mining-company client make billions, even if she has to bulldoze an ancient monastery and blackmail the opposition. Unsavory, true, especially since she once dreamed of a PhD in art history, but soon she’ll make partner at an elite firm. Not bad for someone raised on food stamps. A vacation to Morocco shouldn’t screw up anything.

It screws up everything.

Backpacking through Morocco, Sara meets an archaeologist who seems everything she is not: idealistic, spontaneous, and as down-to-earth as his digs. They explore fabled kasbahs and medieval medinas, sharing tales under Saharan skies. Over sips of mint tea, the two discover a mutual passion for history. And fall in love.

Sara’s newfound happiness would be perfect but for one tiny detail: the priceless monastery she’s demolishing is the same one the archaeologist is desperate to save. Navigating unexpected detours is hard enough. Betraying someone she loves is harder. The hardest part? Mustering the courage to defy her head and follow her heart.




Wednesday, 7 December 2016

#FREE book (Well at least today) The Viking (The Viking Series Book 1) by Marti Talbott

The Viking (The Viking Series Book 1) by Marti Talbott

#Free book

At not quite fifteen, Stefan’s father finally let him board the longship Sja Vinna to take part in his first Viking raid. Yet, the battle was not at all what he expected and he soon found himself alone and stranded in Scotland.

Thirteen-year-old Kannak’s problem was just as grave. Her father deserted them and the only way to survive, she decided, was to take a husband over her mother‘s objections. Suddenly she was helping a hated Viking escape. Could Kannak successfully hide a Viking in the middle of a Scottish Clan? And why was someone plotting to kill the clan's beloved laird?
----
This book is suitable for ages 14 and above.


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003X95M94/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_L2gsybXY80D79  

#FREE book (today so hurry) Ludwika: A Polish Woman's Struggle To Survive In Nazi Germany

It’s World War II and Ludwika Gierz, a young Polish woman, is forced to leave her family and go to Nazi Germany to work for an SS officer. There, she must walk a tightrope, learning to live as a second-class citizen in a world where one wrong word could spell disaster and every day could be her last. Based on real events, this is a story of hope amid despair, of love amid loss . . . ultimately, it’s one woman’s story of survival.
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Monday, 28 November 2016

The attraction of spanking - Review of "The Hand of Vengeance"

When I attended a legal conference this week one of the lawyers asked what book I was reading now as she always reads the reviews I put on Linkedin. So I explained that I was writing them for the NedGalley-site but that I was now reading one that had so much sex scenes in it I would not dare to put that one up on my Linkedinprofile. She smiled widely and said; "O but there is nothing wrong with reading a book like that once and awhile because they can be fun." And I have to say this book is a fun read.

Doctor Lara Simmons works in a kind of Doctors without Borders capacity on an alien planet where rebels are fighting the Republic. In the midst of an operation she is abducted by a band of rebels so she can operate on some important figure of the revolution. Lara ends up trekking the countryside with Blade, a rebel commander who is quite famous as he is a slave who regained his freedom. While she is used to civilisation on earth with gender equality this planet and its inhabitants are a lot more wild. Whenever she does something against Blade's orders she ends up on his knee for a spanking or gets caned but apart from that he takes good care of her. They have to reach the person she is supposed to save and Blade wants to overthrow the government. In the meantime a part of Blade ends up in all of Lara's entrances.

It is a fun read but I have to admit I fail to see what is hot when a guy canes your behind. I would knock him out instead of kiss him :)



ON AMAZON
" ON HIS PLANET, WOMEN ARE PUNISHED WHEN THEY DISOBEY...
Dr. Lara Simmons can handle difficult surgeries on the battlefield of a war-torn planet. She can even handle her capture by rebels who need her skills to save the life of an important figure-head. But she wasn't prepared for being stuck out in the wilderness with Blade Vengeance, the fierce tattooed rebel warrior with antiquated views of gender roles and corporal punishment. Dominant and unyielding, he doesn't hesitate to take her in hand when she disobeys his rules. Yet he also delivers pleasure--with a passion she's never before experienced.

Blade finds the doctor from Earth sexy as hell, especially when she's giving him attitude, but once he delivers her safely to headquarters, he pulls back from her allure. Known for single-handedly starting the revolution and freeing many of his people, his life is one of hardship, slavery and war. Going soft on a woman isn't part of his plan, especially with the final strike of the revolution so close. But when he sends Lara back to Earth to keep her safe during the upcoming battle, he inadvertently delivers her into enemy hands. Can he find and save her from the revolution he caused?

Publishers Note: This power exchange story contains dominance and submission, spanking and explicit sex scenes. If such subject matter offends, do not buy this book."



Sunday, 27 November 2016

Steampunk in the Japan of the Shoguns - review of "Toru wayfarer returns"

(A review written for the NetGalley-site). According to Wikipedia steampunk is "a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery".  The novel "Toru Wayfarer returns" by Stephanie R. Sorensen offers us an alternative version of Japanese history beginning just before the Americans try to open Japan to the outside world.

Under the rule of the Shogun Japan was closed to the outside world. On March 31, 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry and the "Black Ships" of the United States Navy forced the opening of Japan to the outside world. The novel starts around a year prior to that event. Toru has spend a few years in America and is trying to sneak back into Japan to warn his fellow countrymen for an invasion by the West and to urge them to prepare and update their military technology. He however gets caught by the men of a minor daimyo, a nobleman who rules a certain part of the country. Toru claims to be the son of a fisherman whose survived a shipwreck that saw his father drown. But later on it becomes obvious there is more to that.

The punishment for returning to Japan is death but the nobleman first allows him to say goodbye to his mother who he discovers left the village upon hearing he and his father drowned. Then Toru bit by bit succeeds in convincing the daimyo and his more mighty neighbour to use modern technology and build railroads and zeppelins. But the moment the Shogun will hear of that it will mean the end of them.

Somehow the author spends more time in describing how a railroad car is build then in describing Japan. I really do not have a click with technology and need a friend to change my lightbulbs so that did not really make me feel warm and fuzzy. The last part of the novel sees more action.

I think this is an excellent book for someone interested in technology.

3 stars out of 5. And I am wondering if there is not an error in the story of his mother.

ON AMAZON:
 Revolutionary young samurai with dirigibles take on Commodore Perry and his Black Ships in this alternate history steampunk technofantasy set in 1850s samurai-era Japan. In Japan of 1852, the peace imposed by the Tokugawa Shoguns has lasted 250 years. Peace has turned to stagnation, however, as the commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial values decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures, growing ever more demanding. Toru, a shipwrecked young fisherman rescued by American traders and taken to America, defies the Shogun’s ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland from foreign invasion. Can he rouse his countrymen in time? Or will the cruel Shogun carry out his vow to execute all who set foot in Japan after traveling abroad? Armed only with his will, a few books, dirigible plans and dangerous ideas, Toru must transform the Emperor’s realm before the Black Ships come. Toru: Wayfarer Returns is an alternate history steampunk technofantasy set in 1850s samurai-era Japan and is the first book in the Sakura Steam Series, an alternate history of the tumultuous period from the opening of Japan in 1853 to the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Readers who enjoy steampunk alternate histories more typically set in Victorian England or the American Wild West may enjoy this steampunk story made fresh by the Japanese samurai setting, as well as readers who enjoy historical fiction set in Japan.






Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Algerian revolution seen through a young woman's eyes - Review of "When the apricots bloom"

A few months ago an elderly gentleman and I were both waiting on the board of a Scottish lake for our friends who had gone with a boat to explore a castle. He told me he had been teaching architecture all over the world but mostly in Arab countries. "You know," he said, "Those people must have suffered so much under the French rule. Almost all my students dedicated their thesis to a fallen grandfather or father." We both had to confess we did not know much of that era. The only thing I knew was told to me by the son of some pied-noirs (French settlers in North Africa) I had been totally smitten with in university in Istanbul. His grandmother was Tuareg and all the rest of his family was French. While he wore a Tuareg symbol around his neck he despised all Arabs. Something I did not understand then as in my eyes he was partly exactly that.

This week I was reading a very good book written by Roberta Forrest and found out she had written another one as well. One about a Arab woman who was adopted into a French family and who ended up in the middle of a changing and violent Algeria. Me the refugee lawyer expected it to be set in the nineties when due to the GIA Algeria was bathing in blood and violence. But it turned out to be narrating the period of the Algerian Independence war  in the sixties.


Maryse Rose is found as a baby in the desert by a family of influential French settlers. They adopt her and she grows up with loving parents and a brother and a jealous sister. Her early years are without sorrow but just when she is coming of age the first terrorist attacks of Arabs take place and the days of playing in Roman ruins and swimming in the sea come to an end. The French send their troops who just lost the war in Indochine to keep the peace but they are so cruel and cultural insensitive that they drive people towards the rebel cause. Life changes dramaticly for all involved.

What I like in the book is that the writer is not taking sides. While her French officer husband, her strong arm fascist pied noir brother and her Arab rebel lover are all in itself loving and caring men for her, all the atrocities of all sides are shown too. The soldiers who just rape and kill any Arab, bomb villages, the Arab women who cut off the balls of prisoners after having prodded their penises with trigs, the pied noirs who start bombing French targets, who sack all Arab personnel. People losing all they have.

While reading the book a sense of dread or fear what evil will be lurking around the corner starts to grip you. Unlike any history book exactly that is what makes this book so worthwhile. I makes you see how scary living in a civil war really is. And exactly that is what many people are now doing in part of this world.

Luckily it also tries to tell us there is real love in this world. Do not expect a sweet romance book though. This is more grim history.




AMAZON:
"In the mysterious wastes of the Algerian Sahara desert a French family make a miraculous discovery - a new-born Arab baby girl alive, but left to die beneath a rock.

Adopted by the Charpentiers, an extremely wealthy family, eighteen years later Maryse Rose has grown into a beautiful young women - educated at finishing school in France, and brought up amongst wealth and luxury in the Algerian sunshine. But when she falls in love and spends a night with Philippe Viard a young French soldier, Maryse is exiled to Paris in disgrace. Whilst there, training as a nurse, she meets an elegant young Arab, Habib Saadi. Unknown to Maryse, Habib is an Algerian freedom fighter and Maryse becomes suspected of being a terrorist.

Returning to Algeria she finds that the country of her youth no longer exists; the clubs, restaurants, the mountains and sweeping gold beaches are targets for terrorists. Death is easily found and Algeria has become a dangerous place to live, and especially for a proud young girl whose loyalties are divided.

Meticulously researched by the author, the realism of the Algerian wartime background will startle and enthral the reader. The places described are not imaginary, they existed, as did many of the events that take place in the book.The story of Maryse is not only of her loves, but also her desperate fight for her own survival amidst the turmoil of violence."


Monday, 14 November 2016

One day in 1941 seen by many different eyes around the world. Review of "Pearl Harbor and More: Stories of WWII"

When you like to read about history that will most of the time mean either a non fiction history book or a novel around one or a few persons set in a historical setting. This book however are short stories that all have one thing in common: the attack on Pearl Harbour by the Japanese. Either directly witnessed by a nurse en route to her hospital ship or heard on the radio by a Jewish girl in Germany. These stories set in people's daily life make you aware of things you did not think of or read while reading the scientific books. How a lady with a German married name had to keep explaining she was of Scottish decent and her husband a WW1 veteran who fought in the US army. That enlisted men and nurses in the US navy were not allowed to talk to each other. All the little day to day details that bring that era to life. Sometimes it had me wondering. Did the Jewish population in Germany know the camps would kill them? Here in Holland they thought they were labour camps and people still had hope. But on the other hand in Germany Jews had been persecuted for a lot longer then in Holland.

The reason for the 4 out of 5 stars is only that I am not a big fan of short stories. Like the first story seems to be a beginning of a novel and I longed to be able to finish that one. But hey that might be the whole idea :)

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

(P)review of "Reservations ( A Lola Wicks Mystery) by Gwen Florio

"The day that would see Ben Yazzie transformed into shreds of flesh in too many evidence bags began with a rare strong and satisfying piss. Bem leaned back against the stream, a veritable Niagara, not his usual dribble and hitch that put youth farther in the rear-view mirror every day"

This is the opening of the novel to be published in March 2017 and which NetGalley asked me to review.

From the opening you are hooked....

Lola is a former war correspondent who now lives with her Indian Blackfeet husband, the local sheriff, and their daughter in Montana. Her husband Charlie wants to go on a belated honeymoon all the way to his posh brother Edgar who lives nowadays in Arizona with his Navajo-wife Naomie.

While they are exploring the tourists sites of the Navajo reservation one tribal elder, Ben Yazzie, is blown to pieces by a bomb that seems to have been aimed at a billboard of the local mine. This mine is hurting the environment of the mesa, turning the water poisonous and driving people from their homes but on the other hand is the main source of employment in the rez. Then the next bomb explodes....

The writer has a beautiful style of writing and the book is a real pageturner. It is not only a very well written mystery but also sheds light on the living conditions in the reservation and Navajo culture and makes you almost see the tourist sites yourself.

What she is also good in is making you bond with Lola. You can feel her unease to have to spend time with a brother in law who does not like her and an almost perfect sister in law. You can feel her love for her daughter and her husband. I hardly ever weep reading a book but I did with this one.

Really recommend it: a 5 out of 5 stars

AMAZON:
"Journalist Lola Wicks would much rather pursue a story than spend time with people she barely knows. So when an eco-terrorist bombing escalates the controversy surrounding a new coal mine on Arizona's Navajo Reservation, she's almost relieved to have the distraction from meeting her in-laws.
But as the violence gets worse and Lola digs deeper, she can't escape the feeling that her husband's family is somehow involved―a suspicion that jeopardizes not only her marriage, but also her life.
Praised by the New York Times as "a gutsy series," the Lola Wicks mysteries captivate readers with compelling characters, gritty tension, and page-turning action that builds to a thrilling finish."





Friday, 28 October 2016

The USA after nuclear bombs detonated in mayor cities. Review of "Through many fires"

Through Many Fires (Strengthen What Remains Book 1) Kindle Edition

#Free today "1914" - novel (series) about a family during World War 1

This one is on my "to read" list. It is a book about the beginning of the First World War. The book is part of a series. Part 1 is free for the others you have to pay.

(AMAZON)

It’s 1914 and the great powers of Europe are on the brink of war. In Holbeck, Leeds, the Keeton family struggles to get by on their meagre wages. The six Keeton brothers couldn’t be more different, but the outbreak of World War I puts their lives on hold and sets them on a course of destruction.  Danny Keeton drags his identical twin brother Charlie off to war with the idea that this will be one great adventure. At the tender age of fourteen, he soon discovers war is no place for boys. With the sadistic Sergeant Archibald Braddock and the tender Corporal Nathan Dettmer alongside them, the only goal is to stay alive long enough to make it back home.  But how many of the brothers will survive the first brutal year of the bloodiest conflict in human history

Click here for the bookpage: http://amzn.to/2eXWhAe

Maybe not the book a lady should admit she has read..... but it was a fun read. Review of "Sold! A Romance in the Sudan"

Sold! A Romance in the Sudan 

Review of "The good lawyer, a novel" by Thomas Benigno


The Good Lawyer: A Novel 


I am a lawyer myself. But not practicing criminal law and working in a non-USA legal system. But this novel fascinated me. As it is written by a real lawyer it felt like looking into the real world of an USA attorney.

This book is not a fast and easy read John Grisham-style "airport novel" but a novel that deals with the coming of age of a young and idealistic lawyer who enjoys winning cases but more and more comes to realize these cases are about real human beings.

What to do when your conscience starts to interfere with your legal ethics? Who is good and who is bad and are bad people sometimes the good guys? And can you just keep looking at things like a bystander.

I thought it a very well written and "layered" story that I would happily read again and certainly would recommend to others.



(AMAZON)
INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY.
A young, ambitious lawyer is eager to prove he is better than the mobster dominated family he grew up in. Working as a Bronx Legal Aid Attorney he learns how to twist the system, how to become an unbeatable defense lawyer. But it's 1982. The Spiderman rapist is on the loose and New York City is a city in fear. When an outraged victim commits suicide right before his eyes, searching for absolution and determined to prove his client's innocence, he knocks the pegs out from under the prosecution's case. Digging deeper, horrifying revelations about his family's past collide with the true identity of the sadistic sociopath behind the real Spiderman's rampage. In the process, this good lawyer comes face-to-face with his greatest conflict and deepest fear: to win, really win, must he sacrifice every principle he believes in and embrace his family's mafia past to become judge, jury, and executioner?

#Review of "In Morocco", the first travel guide book of the country. The book is now #free





Years ago I went on a holiday to Morocco. This book is very old and was meant as one of the first travelbooks for the country but it was a joy to recognise the things I had seen while visiting. It has a very pleasant style of writing and if you are going to Morocco I would certainly recommend reading it. But also for the armchair traveller a very good and cheap read.



Thursday, 27 October 2016

#Free book (today): The Coalition: A Novel of Suspense

I noticed this one is #Free today (when you use the link)

From the fiftieth floor of an office building in Denver, Colorado, a longrange assassin calmly watches a procession of black Lincolns. When the motorcade pulls to the curb in Civic Center Plaza, a prominent leader steps from one of the vehicles and takes the stage to make an important speech. Moments later, a loud BOOM echoes through the Plaza and the man slumps to the platform like a stringless marionette. The mysterious sniper, whose very existence is unknown to the international law enforcement community, has just assassinated U.S. President-elect William Ambrose Kieger.

In the aftermath of the shocking political crime, the shooter escapes and a Task Force is swiftly assembled, headed up by Special Agent Kenneth Patton of the FBI’s Denver Field Office. A ten-year vet in Domestic Terrorism, the unconventional Ken is driven to solve the crime by both professional and personal motives. His search leads him to a secret society whose diabolical and far-reaching plot threatens the very highest levels of the U.S. government. Yet the group’s motives, secret membership, and ambitious plans remain elusive. Can Ken and his team uncover the plot in time to save the day? Can they beat the countdown on the clock and catch the assassin and the shadowy group in the background pulling the strings? Or will time run out?

Sunday, 9 October 2016

A light read for the weekend: Viking Romance "Blind Allegiance"

A light read for a weekend to relax on. English Saxon lady is taken prisoner of war by a Viking and taken with him to Norway. As usually in this kind of books they fall in love with each other in a short time. She however is totally not accepted by his mother nor his household.

Often I wondered if things were historicly correct like cabins on vikingships, or multistory strongholds in Norway in those days and the heroin certainly thinks too modern in my opinion. Also the story has moments you want to hurry it along a bit. But if you just forget about that and just read it as a romance / fantasy story it will keep you more or less pleasantly occupied.

Part of a series.

3 out of 5 stars



Friday, 7 October 2016

A Puzzle in 1930ties Morocco. Review of "The Saffron gate"

Set mostly in 1930ties Morocco this book is a puzzle in a puzzle. When you think you know what is going on the cards are reshuffled again.

The books starts off as a typical romance story but that is just the beginning to set the stage. So for guys it is also appropriate reading hahahaha. 

American Sidonie always lived a very sheltered life after she became an invalid at a very young age. On her way to becoming an old spinster she falls in love with a doctor who treats her. He is he tells her originally a Frenchman from Marrakech in Morocco what was then a French colony.

When she finds out she is pregnant they start planning a wedding but the next day Etienne seems to have disappeared. The only clue she can find is a letter from what looks like a sister in Morocco. Sidonie boards a ship to go and look for answers from this sister.

That is something that sounded less believable to me as I cannot imagine a not so worldwise woman in those days just going to an Arab country. But on the other hand fatherless children were a real problem those days and I can imagine you also want to know answers.

You would expect the sister to be a French lady who will help find her brother but things turn out to be completely different when in the medina in Marrakech the saffron gate opens and a Moroccan woman looks out.

Is Etienne not French but Arab (What made quite a difference in those days)? Is the sister who she says she is or is she Etienne's lover? There is a small Moroccan boy. Is he Etienne's child? Who is his father? And who is that Moroccan gentleman who frequents the house of the sister? Is he the boys father and the lover of the sister? What does he want from Sidonie? And where is Etienne? And what does his research on heriditary illnesses play in all of this? Like I said one puzzle after the other.

I really enjoyed reading the book and can certainly recommend it. For more information and places to buy (The Kindle edition on Amazon is less then 3 dollar) see the reviews from and links to Amazon.com and Bol.com below.

 ****
 
On Amazon: When a tragic accident shatters Sidonie O'Shea's sheltered life in upstate New York, doctor Etienne Duverger helps her find hope again. Etienne introduces Sidonie to a world beyond her four walls and, as her body begins to heal, they fall in love. But when Etienne disappears, leaving nothing behind but a letter from Morocco, Sidonie decides to follow him to Marrakech. She embarks on a treacherous journey, desperate for answers. Yet nothing can prepare for her what she is about to discover, both about the man she loves and an unknown country steeped in mystery, magic and the darkest of secrets...



 ****

Review found on Bol.com (In Dutch)

De jonge Amerikaanse Sidonie (ik-personage) leidt een gemoedelijk leven met haar verloofde Etienne, nadat ze zware tijden heeft meegemaakt - haar ouders zijn overleden en ze is gehandicapt geraakt. Wanneer ze hem vertelt dat ze in verwachting is, verdwijnt hij plotseling: Sidonie heeft geen idee waar hij is. Dan vindt ze een brief van Etienne's zus Manon en ze besluit af te reizen naar Marokko, zijn geboorteland. In Marrakech ontmoet ze zijn zus, die beweert dat hij is overleden. Wanneer ze een man leert kennen die haar verloofde goed heeft gekend, begint het grote geheim rond de verdwijning zich langzaam te ontrafelen. Deze roman, die zich afspeelt in de jaren dertig van de twintigste eeuw, geeft een helder beeld van de destijdse situatie in Marokko. Hoewel de daden van het hoofdpersonage soms wat ongeloofwaardig overkomen, weet de auteur een mooie samenhang te maken tussen avontuur en romantiek. De rijke sfeerbeschrijvingen van de Marokkaanse omgeving maken het verhaal erg beeldend. De Canadese auteur schrijft, naast historische romans, ook boeken voor jongeren.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

#FREE book (at least today): The first 3 books about Bolitho in the English navy in 1772. Do you like adventure on the high seas?

Grab the opportunity to get these classics for free. Ideal if you love Hornblower and Master and Commander.

Three novels in one! Sixteen-year-old Richard Bolitho joins the British Royal Navy as a young midshipman. Follow his adventures as he undergoes a severe initiation into the dangerous world of the great sailing warships! 1. Richard Bolitho: Midshipman 1772: a young Richard Bolitho joins the 74-gun Gorgon. Naive and untested, Bolitho must learn the ways of the navy quickly if he is to survive. 2. Midshipman Bolitho and the Avenger 1773: Bolitho returns home to Cornwall for Christmas, but smuggling, ship wrecking and witchcraft tear apart his once-peaceful community. 3. Band of Brothers 1774: Bolitho stands on the brink of manhood and takes his examination to begin his true career as a King's Officer. But soon he must test his mettle against vicious smugglers!


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005FNIXCE/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_-Mv8xb7Y0JTMR
I havr no idea how long they weill stay free so do not wait to long

Friday, 30 September 2016

Review "Tangier" - the story of a Christian-Muslim-Jewish extended family in Tangier in the period just before colonisation of Morocco by France

This is the story of a Christian-Muslim-Jewish extended family in Tangier in the period just before colonisation (around 1880 -1910). The Berber orphan Lily and American boy Ted are both raised in the household of the American representative in Morocco. While she at first totally turns into an American woman, her step brother who is raised with three Moroccan aristocrats feels more at home with the local Moroccan population.
 
"Tangier takes place in an era of civil war and political unrest as a young Sultan tries to fend off European powers interested in annexing Morocco, while bandits and pretenders threaten his throne. This is the story of Lili, a Moroccan girl raised in Tangier by the American Consul. Lili is convinced her future lies in becoming a Western woman and, despite her attraction to a Moroccan noble, she marries an American diplomat. As she watches the country fall into civil war and follows the noble, Tariq, in his resistance to its take over by the French, she realizes the strength of her allegiance to Morocco and her love for Tariq.

Lili's stepbrother, Ted, is educated in Moroccan palaces with three young aristocrats and becomes a respected journalist reporting on Moroccan issues. He must choose between his career and his Jewish wife, Meriam, who is raped in an anti-Semitic attack and rejects the country of her birth." (Amazon)

It is a good book and gives us a lot of background information. I was amazed to read that normal schools apart from the Koranschool did not exist. What also was interesting was the struggle the country went through to keep foreign invasions at bay. But a sultan who was like a boy with his toys and internal uprisings weakened the position of the country. I have seen the statue of the French general Lyautey in Morocco and was surprised to read he was gay what in those days was frowned upon. Also a famous bandit Raisuli who has his own movie with Sean Connery makes his appearence in the book.  The wife of Ted is Jewish and joins the early Zionist movement.

You can buy it here as an ebook. The Kindle App for Android is free. And when you order via this link I get points from Amazon I can use for a new book to review


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

"Blue warrior" - an escape on horses in Morocco that reads like a Western novel

The story is set in Morocco. Written in 2000 the fact that there are no mobile phones and there is still a strong French influence combined with old fashioned notions made me think it probably is situated in the 1960's or something. Well at least that is the feel of the story. I have to say as a lovestory the fact that they just touch each other's nose or put a hand on a knee makes it a lot better then when the heroes and heroines jump in the hay the moment they see each other. This feels like a real love story.

Rafaela has a very domineering father who plans to marry her to the son of one of his business associations. In despair she steals his famous stallion and rides off to the south hoping to sell the horse to the Amir of a Touareg tribe who is also a famous horse breeder.

En route she meets a young Touareg but her family thinks they are two Touareg and send her brothers and other men to kill them. But finding out who she is does not change her father's mood as he hates her for making him look a fool. Like in a Western movie they have to travel the hills and plains and try to outrun their persuers.

The interesting part of the story is not so much the chase as how the friendship and later on the love between two so different persons develops.

While some of the books in the Touareg series have a very realistic feel about them this book reads more as a fairytale.


(Amazon)

A tale of love, honour and revenge. Rafaele flees her father's plans for her, riding his prize stallion Blue Warrior, from his stud farm near Casablanca. She is pursued; he thinks more of the stallion than of her. She is soon joined by Sirhan, a young Tuareg, and together they ride south through Morocco in a desperate bid to reach Tayoudi before they are caught. Several times they are attacked; they each brave danger to rescue the other. And, inevitably, they fall in love. But who Sirhan is, and what he can do to protect Rafaele and prevent her father's reprisals comes as a surprise to her.

A sea adventure written as one of those old fashioned navy stories. Pirates, privateers and bonny lassies

When you have read the Tuareg series of ms Hilson this is a total different kind of book. It reads as an old adventure of pirates and seabattles in the Caribbean.

A Spanish nobleman is send as a colonel to defend a small Spanish outpost. He is glad he can hide out there as his family is under threath of religious persecution. But because he frees the slaves to enlist them in his militia the local Spanish start to hate him and he is send to be interrogated by the Inquisition. Sent home to Spain to be executed the ships he is travelling on change owners rapidly and he ends up being the second in command of a privateer. Many adventures follow.

A fast paced story that does not tell a lot about the toughts of the caracters. While it is a new book the writer explains she wanted it to be an homage to books like The Sea Hawk.



Monday, 19 September 2016

Moroccan 17th century history comes to life in a novel about the love of a eunuch for the wife of the sultan

(Just 99 cents as an ebook) It is 1677 and the Moroccan sultan Moulay Ismail wants to outshine Versailles that is been built by the French king. So he plans to built a huge palace in Maknes that will rival it. The palace is built by Western sailors taken captive and now withering away as slaves. But they are not the only slaves in the palace.

We come to know the main character NusNus, a black African who is enslaved as a young man and castrated and who is now one of the most trusted eunuchs in the palace. Other people are the main architect who NusNus accompanies to London and the court of Charles the Second. This man is a great diplomat and with his (rumoured) English mother becomes the talk of London. Then there is the sultan who is brilliant but also mentally insane. One wrong look or even less can have you killed in an instant. And what about the African witch Zidana who is his main wife and who poisons everyone who she thinks will endanger her position.

One day a Dutch slave is brought to the harem and NusNus is ordered to convert her to Islam or otherwise both will be killed. This girl is meant for the mad sultan's bed. NusNus and Alys become friends and when she has a son of the sultan and thus becomes a danger to the witch queen and NusNus has been in Europe, he starts to dream of them being a family safely away from the dangers of the palace.

Do not expect a hotblooded lovestory. The man is castrated after all. It is more a historybook and it leaves you with the thought that you are glad you did not live then and there because Game of Thrones is safe compaired to Meknes in those days. But it is a great read. And I have been in Meknes. An eartquake flattened half of the buildings shortly after completion while Versaille still stands. On the other hand the French king's line ended under a guillotine while the Moroccans still have a king (but I believe from another family).


On Bol.com Paperback (slow loading):


On Amazon.com Kindle e-book


On Amazon.com:

on December 11, 2012
Format: Paperback

A bewitching novel set in 17th c., THE SULTAN'SWIFE is an engulfing ride to exotic Morocco, into the palace of the horrific Sultan Moulay Ismail and his `witch' wife, Zidana. From Morocco to England, the novel revolves around NusNus, the Sultan's African eunuch scribe and Alys Swan a virgin Dutch beauty kidnapped for the Sultan.

Life is but a breath short of death around the cruel Ismail who decides the fate of all those around him depending on the degree of his wrath. Zidana, on her side offers no respite- her poisonous concoctions a reminder that no one is safe from her tyrannical plans. Most important on her list of things to do is to rid Ismail's harem of all unwanted heirs (and there were quite a few- history quotes roughly a thousand!), that should surpass her own offspring.

Every day is a challenge to stay alive for NusNus who works for these two evil masters. He must also find a way to make life endurable for Alys whom he secretly loves- she in turn trusts only him. The story becomes that much more enticing when Alys gives birth to Ismail's son, Mohammed. Of course, this is a major hurdle for Zidana. But, the story then takes us to England in the court of Charles II where a twist in development will forever change the fate of all...

Intricately woven, this novel is graphically filled with suspense and intrigue- cleverly meshed in a blend of history, culture, religion and so much more. From beginning to end, The Sultan's Wife is a passionately engaging book that will keep readers frantically flipping the pages longing for more. This is my first time reading Jane Johnson's work- and it certainly won't be my last! Loved it.