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.


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Illegal alien starving in Geneva mixed with Jane Eyre and Beauty and the Beast. Book review of "A Million Different ways"

As requested by Net Galley I will review "A Million Different ways". One look at the cover made me wonder if it would be a million different versions of a sexscene but although the novel is very explicit the story still keeps you enthralled.

An illegal immigrant from Albania is starving in Geneva. She has no one to protect her. Her last option is ask for a job at a huge estate that is rumoured to hire servants. She faints in the doorway and gets hired by the housekeeper who pities her. All her new colleagues are nice but the lord of the manor is a total jerk who keeps insulting her. Their dislike is very mutual although Vera is strongly drawn to his impressive good looks. And is fascinated by the story behind his limp.

The story seems to be inspired a bit by Jane Eyre and Beauty and the Beast. And the real meaning of a million different ways is very sweet.

I do have to stress however that I think the last chapters of the book are very illogical. I cannot imagine a medical professional doing that. Nor taking a decision like that when a problem is so easily to solve with money and a good immigration lawyer. And what totally sucks is that the book ends very abruptly appearently to continue in a book 2 that is not yet published. Dear writer rewrite your good book and change the last few chapters!




Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Bookreview: "The tenth gift" A woman is abducted to become a slave in Morocco in the 16th century. In the 20th century a descendant retraces her story.

A year ago I read a book written by a British lady who explained she had written a prior novel about white slavery in Morocco and when she was doing research in Morocco she fell in love with a Moroccan guy. When I saw that this earlier novel was for sale I bought it. Reading I discovered that the story started in Moosehole in Cornwall. Moosehole the place one of my Facebook lived. So I mailed her and Sue said: "I know. I know the lady and her Moroccan husband." Talking of living in a small world.

That small world is also a theme in the book itself. The leading lady is given a book by her boyfriend on the evening of him breaking up with her. Reading is she discovers notes in it written in the 17th century by a young woman from Cornwall. It turns out a whole village was taken slaves by the corsairs from Sale, the Barbary Pirates. The book itself was found in the cottage of a friend of hers. Wanting to know more she takes a plane to Morocco and tries to find traces of what she thinks is her ancestor.

The book is not the most easy read at the story is told by the slave girl, her fiancée and the 20th century woman who reads the book. It is like a puzzle of intertwining stories. A lot of background informarion is weaved into the tale.

A very good book. I really can recommend it.


(AMAZON)

The art of embroidery uncannily links two fascinating women of different eras and their equally passionate love stories

In an expensive London restaurant, Julia Lovat receives a gift that will change her life. At first glance it is a book of exquisite seventeenth-century embroidery patterns belonging to a woman named Catherine Ann Tregenna. Yet in its margins are the faintest diary entries; they reveal that “Cat” and others were stolen from their Cornish church in 1625 by Muslim pirates and taken on a brutal voyage to Morocco to be auctioned off as slaves. Captivated by this dramatic discovery, Julia sets off to North Africa to determine the authenticity of the book and to uncover more of Cat’s mesmerizing story. There, in the company of a charismatic Moroccan guide, amid the sultry heat, the spice markets, and exotic ruins, Julia will discover buried secrets. And in Morocco—just as Cat did before her—she will lose her heart.

Set almost 400 years apart, the stories of these two women converge in an extraordinary and haunting manner that will make readers wonder—is history fated to repeat itself?

A literary mystery, historical adventure, and dual love story, The Tenth Gift literally crosses genres with narrative ease and prose that is as captivating as the characters who people this unforgettable tale.

Book review "Rachel's Tuareg" - a must for everyone who ever visited Marrakesh

Rachel is visiting Marrakesh as a tourist and befriends a Tuareg in the medina. He takes her to see all the sights of the town. Suddenly an army revolt turns the town into chaos. Her new friend offers to help her and her friends to safety.

What a nice love story. A must read for everybody who ever visited Marrakesh. I recognised all the sights there including the apothecary . I liked the old fashioned morals as well. The writer can build a story that is so erotic without having the heroes all over each other. Some how made it that more believable and real.












Epic tale of a Sahara crossing in the company of a Touareg family - Book review of "Pitiless land"

Hannah is working on a dig in Egypt when one day the group of archaeologists and cameramen are abducted and she and a friend by luck are left unharmed because they got stuck in a sandstorm and did not make it home before the attack. Saved by a group of Tuareg in the end Hannah has to cross the whole Sahara desert to be able to get home.




The book is an epic and timeless story of nomads and desert crossing.

At the end someone is found in an unexpected place and somehow that is never really explained. The same why moving away is then not a trouble anymore. I also wondered how a Tuareg dress found it's way there.

All in all a more serous book then another one of the same writer. That was more a love story while this was more about travel and survival.

Good book!




Thursday, 8 September 2016

Some light reading material what is better then expected - review of "Saving the Sheikh"

Sometimes you are just in the mood for some light reading material. Unlike many romance stories this one more or less has a good plot and moreover a sense of humour throughout the story. What is also quite uncommon is that most of the people are not Americans. At the wedding of mutual friends an Arab crown prince and a famous Chinese business woman are bridesmaid and groomsman. She is urged by the other bridesmaids to give him a kiss. That was what I thought not that believable as this woman is a very reserved woman and does not like people hugging her but ok... They start talking and she confesses in him that she always dreamed of romantic stories like the book The Sheikh were damsels in distress are kidnapped to desert keeps. He grins and tells her he has a desert castle and can make sure there are silk pillows.So in the end they have the biggest fun with him pretending to kidnap her. However some journalist snaps a picture and all of a sudden they hit the news and have to do damage control. Then it turns out that that is nor their only problem as suspicion rises that someone plans an attack.






 

Monday, 5 September 2016

The book that made me cry. Review of "Linnet and the prince" It is certainly worth all the 5 star nominations!

This book had such enormous good reviews that I decided to read it. At first I was a bit taken aback because the story seemed so childish. But as Linnet just turned 16 and is a girl living in a happy environment in a kingdom of peace and prosperity in hindsight that seems a logical start.

But soon stormclouds rise on the horizon. Her fathers army is slaughtered and invaders from the desert conquer her land. The son of the king of the invaders offers to keep the people alive if the princess of the realm marries him. He had the famous beauty that is her sister in mind but tomboy Linnet steps up as she thinks she will be able to stand more then her sister can.

So she has to travel with that prince to his desert underground keep and marry him. But there are rumours that his father hopes to rise a famous king of the past from the death the moment he solves the riddle of an inscription. Linnet's mother is hoping for revenge before that will happen and urges her daughter to kill the prince as soon as he comes to her bed alone.

The thing is very lonely Linnet and that prince surprisingly become friends. And the marriage is one in name only. So Linnet starts to dread her obligation to kill him. But her mother is on the move. Someone wants to kill her. A lady wants to have the prince for herself. The terrible king is on his way home. And what about the riddle?

There are two moments of intense loss in the book. While the first is just sad, the second had me in tears. Exactly like the writer predicted.

"You’ll hold your breath, you’ll laugh, you’ll sit on the edge of your chair, you’ll stay up till two in the morning pinned to the page—and you might even cry. In fact, I’ll bet on that."
The writer states that with her books
 "you’ll never have to squint, worrying that the romantic scene is about to get FAR too steamy—or that, in a tirade, someone is about to spew a stream of obscenities that will make you want to shut the book and go take a shower.
I don’t write sexual scenes in my books. EVER. And I do not use profanity. EVER."

The book is set in a fantasy world but seems to be influenced a lot by Moghul / Indian culture and a medieval European one.

It is certainly worth all the 5 star nominations!

(AMAZON)
Sixteen-year-old Linnet has been given a grave task. If she succeeds, it could end her life. If she fails, it could destroy her people.
She must kill a prince.
But first, she must marry him.
Prince Rajak of the Badi, son of the tyrannical desert king, has given Linnet's Highland kingdom of Hilrigard an ultimatum: give him a princess for his bride, or be slaughtered. Linnet's older sister is his first choice, but when she begs not to be sent, Linnet volunteers, to save her people.
Her mother, however, sees an opportunity. She secretly instructs Linnet to gain Rajak's trust and then assassinate him, before he discovers the legendary chamber that will resurrect the Badi's greatest king.
However, the more Linnet learns of the prince, the more she realizes that his brooding exterior conceals a good heart. And the more she learns of the chamber, the more she suspects that the legend is not what it seems. But time runs short when Linnet's mother sets the coup in motion, and Linnet is faced with a heart-rending choice--for the one sent to kill the prince may now be the only one who can save him.

AMAZON

BOL.com

Review of "The Geisha with the green eyes" Too focussed on the hanky panky?

When the site NetGalley offered me the opportunity to read the book for free providing I took the time to write an honest review I was looking forward to a book set in historical Japan. A bit "Shogun" or that famous Geisha book. However this one turned out to be very different.

While normally Geisha's were highly trained ladies who entertained gentlemen but not went to bed with them in general apart from one they would be the mistress of, in this book Midori lives in a house that offers not only entertainment but also hot bodies for the taking. All the inhabitants of the Hidden House are somehow deformed and Midori as a halfblood is also regarded deformed.

The book is a long list of sleeping with men in all kind of forms or settings. Unfortunately the book lacks a background or description of the Geisha culture or the Japanese customs as a whole. So if you want a solid book dealing with a historic period do not buy it. If you want a steamy novel maybe this is your cup of Japanese tea.



Great book and FREE today "The good knight" Detective in medieval Wales

 Intrigue, suspicion, and rivalry among the royal princes casts a shadow on the court of Owain, king of north Wales...

The year is 1143 and King Owain seeks to unite his daughter in marriage with an allied king. But when the groom is murdered on the way to his wedding, the bride's brother tasks his two best detectives--Gareth, a knight, and Gwen, the daughter of the court bard--with bringing the killer to justice.

And once blame for the murder falls on Gareth himself, Gwen must continue her search for the truth alone, finding unlikely allies in foreign lands, and ultimately uncovering a conspiracy that will shake the political foundations of Wales.

The Good Knight is the first Gareth & Gwen Medieval Mystery


https://www.amazon.com/Good-Knight-Gareth-Medieval-Mystery-ebook/dp/B005OLTU8I?_bbid=2294059&_bbtype=email

Thursday, 1 September 2016

A group of soldiers travel the desert after their officer is shot. Review of "Patrol"

A group of soldiers travel the desert after their officer is shot. The next morning they find out the ones standing guard were attacked and the horses have disappeared. I can imagine a story like this would make a great movie. But as a book I lost track of all the different characters. Who was who? And the painting of their background made the story so slow. I can imagine though that a (former) soldier might like it.

(AMAZON)

The novel that inspired John Ford’s The Lost Patrol: A band of World War I soldiers fights to survive in the desert after their leader is shot and killed.

There had been, here, eleven men. Now ten rode away. . . .

In the Mesopotamian desert during the First World War, an unseen enemy guns down the leader of a British parol. The officer was the only one who knew their orders, and he did not told anyone else where they are located.

Now the sergeant must lead his men through a hostile desert landscape full of invisible Arab snipers. One by one, they are being picked off, and the group of diverse men with different backgrounds must try to come together in order to survive. The decision-making process proves far from easy as tensions and prejudices from their former lives come to a head.

The basis for films by Walter Summer and John Ford, this bestselling novel is a suspenseful tale of the Great War for readers of Robert Graves or Ford Madox Ford—or anyone who enjoys an action-packed war story. Author Philip MacDonald, who served in Mesopotamia with the British cavalry, went on to become one of the most popular writers of thrillers and detective fiction.



A retelling of Beauty and the Beast mixed with some shapeshiters and actors. Review of "The Beast within" by Tiffani Clark Kemp

A young girl goes with her two best friends to a party at the mansion of a Hollywood big shot. She meets a man she instantly likes and that turns out to be the owner of the house. He has a big secret. Every month he turns in a beast for 7 days. Heavy pms hahahaha.


A retelling of Beauty and the Beast including red roses. It however has a surprising twist to the story.

Insert a bit of shape shifters and a heavy dose of erotica. And you have a nice light read for a sunday afternoon.

What I hate however is a story that concludes in another book. This book leaves you with many many unsolved questions and as the reviews of the second book are not so good I am not willing to pay for something while I can have a quality story for the same price.

Advice to the writer. Combine your two novel and instead of one for free and one for 3 dollar make the whole package 1.99 and people will buy it and read it.

(AMAZON)

**Not for readers under the age of 18+. Contains language and adult situations.**

Gabriel Slade runs Hollywood with his gorgeous blue eyes and egregious temper. No one knows that underneath it all is a man with a frozen heart, cursed to become a beast at every full moon. For seven days he has no choice but to roam the earth as a vicious animal, until he meets a woman who can change it all.

Luna Grace has a hatred for everything Gabriel Slade stands for, but she doesn't even know what he looks like. When a chance encounter reveals feelings Luna never knew she harboured, it stands to reason that she would run.

Can Luna overcome her hatred and break the curse? Or will Gabriel's temper keep her from realizing her true feelings, dooming him to remain the beast forever?




Review of "Barbary slave" by Robert Adams --- more interesting as a view into history of Algeria then for the heroes of the story

This book reads as if it is written a century ago while it is quite new. It deals with a lot of foreign stuff for someone who is not Algerian and unfortunately the dictionary is at the end of the novel. I was also misled a bit by strange spellings of Arab words like pasha (bashaw), couscous (kuskussu), sidi but maybe those are the American versions while I am more used to the French and English transliterations. On the other hand the writer explains that the baegnio is a prison while in other books I saw noted that the prisoners were held captive in a bathhouse. Probably because the word bagnio now means bathhouse and it seems those huge prisons had a bath.

The book tells of the adventures of a young American second mate who is captured by the Algerian corsairs and taken to Algiers. What is interesting is that although they are all put to work it seemed possible to get a good job as a slave and even get wages somehow. As if the whole slavery thing was more a matter of manpower and people forced to do jobs. Nevertheless each evening they are locked up in the prison and women they never see. So you can imagine what happens then.

As a slave and servant of the bashaw young James is even send on a expedition to the Touaregs in the Sahara.

Not unlike nowadays the Americans refuse to pay ransom so James is forced to stay in Algiers for years. Other countries had reverted to paying the Algerians a sum for safe travel.

The story is an interesting read as an account of life in the Barbary states but it is so clinical that it is hard to identify with James. I also missed a hint of the fact that a few years later the Americans attack the Barbary corsairs as the first act of the new navy.

Nevertheless good value for money.

(AMAZON)

"During the late 18th century the governing dey of Algiers ruled the Mediterranean Sea. He was master of European nations and the Islamic tribes of North Africa. A young American sailor, snared by the Barbary Pirates, suffers the despair of slavery. James Cathcart becomes slave to the dey of Algiers and is, therefore, at the center of international intrigue. He finds love in a grim prison, and again among the desert Tuareg. He was a slave and a diplomat; a slave and a warrior. Through the eleven-year journey, James always sustained his faith in freedom."