Friday, 2 November 2018

#free #book: Book 2 of the multi-award-winning epic Historical Fiction series The Troubadours Quartet

1151: the Holy Land, where one book is worth more than a man's life
Estela, the troubadour, is following the destiny of her beautiful voice. Dragonetz, her passionate knight, has a dangerous mission to fulfill. Divided by the times they love in, they fight to be together.
Imprisoned in Damascus, Dragonetz suffers the mind games inflicted by his anonymous enemies, as he is forced to remember the traumatic events of the crusade, two years earlier. His military prowess is as valuable and dangerous to the balance of power as the priceless Torah he has to deliver to Jerusalem, and the key players want Dragonetz riding with them - or dead.
Instead of remaining safely at home, Estela is desperate to rescue Dragonetz at all costs. She sets out for the Holy Land, never realising that the person she thinks will be her knight's saviour might actually be his doom. Can Estela get him out alive, despite Nur-ad-Din, the Muslim Atabeg; Mélisende, the Queen of Jerusalem; and an avenger from the past? Will she still want to, when she knows what they've done to him?
Once more, 'the master of historical intrigue' whirls the reader off into medieval mayhem. Jean Gill's details of crusading strategy and riding a camel are as convincing as the pangs of medieval childbirth. She brought medieval France to life in Song at Dawn; now she adds 12th century Damascus and Jerusalem with equal aplomb.

Review of "The Soldier's Girl" by Sharon Maas: WWII in the Alsace

Advertised as a tragic love affair this novel turns out as something rather different. You expect her to fall in love with a German while her childhood friend is in the resistance and she is send back to the Alsace as a spy. And then I wondered when that was happening.

What you can distil from this novel is the love of the writer for the area where she herself also spend many happy years. The part of the novel situated before the outbreak of war, where a child Sybil lives on a wine château, is the best part of the novel.

It was also interesting to read what effect the annexation had on the region, I knew it was swabbed between Germany and France several times but never would have imagined not only the renaming of streets but even of people. A name is so much part of your individuality!

I did know that there had been heavy fighting in the Ardennes but did not know about the Vosges and Alsace region.

But that love affair? No chemistry between her and the resistance fighter. He is described as dirty and stinking, That is all.

And the German officer? At first he is just annoying , unattractive and his mates are ridiculous. Then suddenly he shows a different side. Suddenly Sybil is in love. Right? But will you do what she does to him when you are in love? I do not think so. What happens had my stomach revolting. In her case I think I would have gone mad with guilt and horror. That guilt is mentioned but it is all done so clinical so distant so short. Apart from the fact that I felt very sorry for the man in the end the book seemed a love affair for a region but as a lovestory it failed.

The story left me completely cold apart from the heartbreaking scene towards the end which hunted me even in my dreams.

Unusual regency novel: Review of "A gentleman's promise" by Penny Hampson

The beautiful gentleman on the cover of this book I could get an ARC of to review, caught my attention. It is a regency novel, or a kitchen maid literature as they call them here: a romance novel set in the 19th century in the better classes. But this one turned out to be slightly different. For one there is a strong gay element in it, there is no sex in it, the pace is slow and the main characters are developed into three dimensional people

Richard inherited an estate from a distant cousin but the evening he arrives there the lost heir, a teenager, and his sister arrive as well after they have travelled all the way from Greece. Someone tried several attempts to kill Richard since he was declared the new viscount and now Emma and Richard start wondering if the deaths of the other heirs were accidents after all. They hope to solve the mystery.

Richard is pictured as a man who is very orderly and really wants to avoid adventure (illustrated by his behaviour with sorting his cloths and rearranging the figurines on the mantle piece) . He likes Emma but thinks she is very unsuitable as a bride. Way too adventurous.
Emma seems to have an too modern take on independence for women to seem fitting for the time period. But the writer comes up with a solid reason and also the fact that she had to survive such a dangerous trip will have shaped her.
At first the story seemed too slow for me but that turned out well after all as it was all building up to certain character developments.

Richard's sister and brother-in-law, Emma's grandmother they all serve a shaping role in the characters of the main characters. The war in Portugal against Napoleon, the Elgin marbles, molly houses they all picture a time period.

I do agree with earlier reviewers that the interaction with the main villain is strange.

4 stars out of 5

No not set on an alien planet but in Egypt and Sudan in 200 BC

Rasha is abducted from her home in Raheem. She manages to escape and flees. Her beloved Bassam is coming back from a trade expedition  when he hears that she is abducted and sets off to rescue her and bring her safely home.

This novel reads like a science fiction/fantasy story and only by some details can you deduct when and where Rasha and Bassam are. But often you are at a loss. Only because I have been in Petra I wondered if Raheem was Nabatean Petra (now Jordan) and saw it confirmed only at the end of the story. You can only deduct by the mentioning of what we know as the Stone of Rosetta that the story is set 200 BC. The Nile river is mentioned as the Nilus and towns like Elefantine and the Pyramids but a lot of the animal life is using local words. Oh we are talking about hippo's?This intensifies the feeling of being on an alien planet.

- You learn new things about Egypt like the fact there are so many more pyramids and to realise that in 200 BC they were already relics from a distant past.
- The feeling of being submerged in the past with no knowlegde from the 21st century.
- That also in those days people travelled to far away places to trade and interacted with different cultures.

- It is impossible to connect the ancient names to real places. I often wondered if they were in Sudan or even more south.
- The whole story is more or less two groups journeying. That can make the story a bit slow and you as a reader needing a break and reading another novel in the meantime.

3 stars out of 5

This was a free ARC provided by Netgalley

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Review of "Servant of the Crown" by Paul J Bennett, a great medieval fantasy novel and only 99 dollar cents!

What a captivating novel! A sergeant, a veteran in his end 30ties who served his king for 20 years and has lost his family in the wars with a neighbouring country, is invalided during an uprising in the capital and blamed for the disaster and the great loss of lives his commanding officer caused.

Saved by his former commander and friend from execution as a scapegoat, he is banished to a far away and forgotten royal palace to work there as the groundsman. Trying to bring the gardens back from being a jungle he meets a lonely young girl of around 6. The two of them become friends and he gets to know her secret. But can he protect her?

It is a lovely book. You can feel the love of the limping lonely man for this equally lonely girl. The village near the castle and the castle itself are populated by a whole rainbow of people.  The world is a fantasy world but resembles a 13/14th century Medieval society. There are only a few hints to non-human persons or magic but it is mostly a pseudo England with rebels (Scots?) invading it.

I really enjoyed reading it. It is part of a series and book 2 is about a warrior maiden mentioned in this book but I think the three books will bring the saga to a close or so I hope. Looking forward to read the other novels in this series.

Review of "Hypertension, Blood Sugar? Depression?: How I Cured Them" All by Dr Leonid Altshuler

As one of the members of NetGalley I received an ARC of this book. It is written by a psychiatrist whose origins are in the Soviet Union. I do not know if he still lives there but his book is written in a very "American selfhelp book"-style.

Apparently doctor Altshuler himself suffered from all kind of ailments and he blames that to a too high insulin level in his blood. Since he switched to an all meat/fish diet he feels a lot better. I have no idea if this is solid medical advise or just mumbo-jumbo. He might feel a lot better with no sugar and no carbs but what about vitamins from vegetables and fruits? I always thought they are essential to fight things like cancer?

However in the second part of this short book the writer turns towards his own expertise: mental health. Here I could recognise his knowledge. He was explaining about neurotransmitters and serotonin and dopamine and I recognised the treatment a familymember received for depression. He also explained how getting out of your comfort zone is also very healthy for your mental well-being because it increases your energy levels. The function of alphawaves in your brain etcetera. That part of the book I liked a lot more, I would not have minded if he had focussed on his experience in psychiatry. That part was now a bit short.

A 3 stars out of five

#Free novel: The Dante Connection (Book 2) (Genevieve Lenard)

Art theft. Coded messages. A high-level threat.

Despite her initial disbelief, Doctor Genevieve Lenard discovers that she is the key that connects stolen works of art, ciphers and sinister threats.

Betrayed by the people who called themselves her friends, Genevieve throws herself into her insurance investigation job with autistic single-mindedness. When hacker Francine appears beaten and bloodied on her doorstep, begging for her help, Genevieve is forced to get past the hurt of her friends' abandonment and team up with them to find the perpetrators.

Little does she know that it will take her on a journey through not one, but two twisted minds to discover the true target of their mysterious messages. It will take all her personal strength and knowledge as a nonverbal communications expert to overcome fears that could cost not only her life, but the lives of many others.