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 :)

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.

 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.

"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

"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."