Monday, 30 January 2017

#Free novel: Romantic adventure in Africa (Only free 30/1/17)

Kayla has always been a sucker for strays--baby gorillas, okapis, even rhinos--so when an American doctor shows up wounded at her door, with a story of being pressed into service as medic to a local militia unit, Mark LeSabre is just another stray to be taken in and taken care of.

Then Ushindi's controversial election tips the tiny nation into civil war, and Kayla's beloved ancestral coffee plantation becomes a casualty of the escalating conflict. Forced to flee, Kayla's determined not to leave any of her workers--or her strays--behind, including Mark, who's found his way into her heart...and her bed.

But a rich American doctor is too valuable a prize to let escape. Thwarted at every border access, with the militia hot on their tail, Kayla and Mark's only option for freedom is to brave a treacherous jungle route across the Mountains of the Moon. Alone, they might make it to Uganda and safety, but their ragtag group of strays will surely perish if they're abandoned.

How far will Mark and Kayla risk their lives--and their hearts--in the service of love?

Saturday, 28 January 2017

#Free novel: "The Woman in the Photograph: The Search for My Mother's Past" - #WW2 #Jewish #German

#Free only today

What if a secret photograph and a property stolen by the Nazis unlocked the door to your mother's buried past and to a family history you knew nothing about?
"A riveting, beautifully written memoir." – Naomi Lucks
"The story has a heartbeat." – Sue Bender
"An eloquent account of a daughter's transformative journey into the heart of her mother's hidden life." – Elizabeth Rosner

Mani Feniger steered a deliberate course away from her mother's German-Jewish roots. But with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, she found herself swept up in a flood of startling revelations from her mother's earlier life. As she pored through old photographs and documents, she began to ask questions about secrets and omissions. The answers she found both shocked and inspired her, and would irrevocably transform her view of her mother, herself, and the meaning of family legacy.

From Berkeley, California to New York City, to Leipzig, Germany, this compelling memoir takes you across continents and lifetimes.

"The Woman in the Photograph" will make you wonder about the men and women in your own photographs and how your life has been shaped by events you know little about.

#Free only today - Harper's folly - adventure novel - on board of a yacht near the Seycelles

#Free only today

Harper has everything to look forward to, and plenty to forget…

Starting life over again after an unpleasant divorce, he lands on the exotic Seychelles ready for a large dose of independence, fulfilment and fun — eager to take the helm of his magnificent motor yacht Moon Wind.

He has invested everything he owns into creating an exciting new life for himself in paradise as skipper of his own boat.

Moon Wind is for hire by the jet-set, to explore the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean.

But from the start it seems his fantasy could prove folly.

Harper discovers Moon Wind's previous owner and crew were found brutally murdered on board.

They had been secretly searching for pirate treasure.

Had they found an ancient fortune of gold lost beneath the waves or is Moon Wind jinxed by the gris-gris spells which terrify his crew?

For seemingly no reason Harper suffers a vicious attack and finds his yacht savagely vandalised.

The beautiful journalist Jo Hillman saves his life three times in as many days.

How does she always end up in the right place at the right time?

Then there is the captivating Gabrielle Balthazar, who seems to know more than she is telling…

Undeterred, Harper lifts anchor to take glamorous Prince Syed on a voyage to discover the delights of the local wildlife.

But the playboy prince is a pawn in a crucial Middle-East struggle for power.

Ruthless mercenaries and armed terrorists want him dead — and anyone else who stands in their way.

Harper has never handled a gun or fought for his life.

Now, at the centre of a bloody adventure, he must learn fast.

Harper’s Folly is the first in the Harper Series , full of modern adventure.

Friday, 13 January 2017

"Silk Road" - a Templar and a monk travel east to the Mongol Khan to broker a deal against the Muslims.

Some books make you think about them long after you have closed the cover (or your Kindle App). This is one of those:

The story starts with a monk on his deathbed. He tells the abbot about his life and when the abbots leave he has the feeling the devil passes him in the hallway to come and collect the soul of the evil monk.

"The Holy Land, 1260. Josseran Sarrazini is chosen to escort the Pope’s emissary on an embassy to the all conquering Mongol horde in an effort to save all Christendom form destruction. But although he serves as a Templar warrior, Josseran is not all that he appears to be - and he despises the Pope’s man on sight.

Now they have to spend nine months in each other’s company on the most dangerous and most inhospitable journey on the earth - across the legendary deserts of Persia and the horrific black hurricanes of the Taklimakan, along the Silk Road to Khubilai Khan’s legendary capital at Xanadu.

When he sets out, Josseran cannot know then that he will never see Christendom again.

And somewhere near the Roof of the World a Tatar princess, possessing a gift for prophesy, refuses all her suitors and defies her father’s attempts to marry her off to the sons of other tribal chiefs. She does not belong in her world any more than Josseran belongs in his.

And now fate will bring their paths on a collision course somewhere on the Silk Road and change the course of her own life forever.

From the Storehouse of Winds to the Palace of Myriad Tranquillities, over the Pamirs and Hindu Kush to the legendary Xanadu and the dazzling court of Khubilai Khan. This is romance and adventure on a breath-taking scale."

My review

My first thought was that it reminded me of Turandot the opera where a princess also dismisses all her suitors because they cannot best her. In that case by not solving riddles, in this book by not outdoing her in martial arts.

I read somewhere that the writer started writing again with this book after a black period in his life. I have the feeling that might have to do with the death of his wife. There is a very poignant scene in the book where the only convert the Christians had made in China is calling out for God to help her and instead dies horrible sentenced to be killed by her own baby. That chapter had me sick. It was too horrible. I laid awake for hours. But looking at the whole book the whole bottomline is that the one who is spreading religion is utterly evil and has many deaths on his conscience. He is not at all what one would expect from a disciple of Christ. But the scene where God seems to refuse help made me wonder if that had it's origins in a personal experience of the writer with an illness what was fatal for someone near him. That he had lost faith himself. Thing is it had me reflect on my belief in God for days.

All in all it is a very interesting novel that tells us a lot about that time in history but also about the landscapes the caravan travels through. And it introduced me to the Mongolian culture of those days. Happy not to live then though. People are extremely cruel in the novel. Life seemed to be worth nothing and family members desert their own kind. Oh and the monk - hell would have been too good for him.

Novel "The Lushai girl" - How a simple convent girl survives a famous WW2 battle and becomes a businesstycoon

This book tells about how a simple convent girl in British India becomes a industrial tycoon in India after it's independence.

I had no idea where Lushai or Nagaland or ohima were located. I guessed on the border with Nepal. But according to Wikipedia the Lushai hills are located in Assam on the border with Birma. That might explain why part of the book describes the battle of Kohima.

Quoting Wikipedia: "The Battle of Kohima was the turning point of the Japanese U Go offensive into India in 1944 during the Second World War. The battle was fought in three stages from 4 April to 22 June 1944 around the town of Kohima in Nagaland in northeast India. From 3 to 16 April, the Japanese attempted to capture Kohima ridge, a feature which dominated the road by which the besieged British and Indian troops of IV Corps at Imphal were supplied. By mid-April, the small British and Indian force at Kohima was relieved. From 18 April to 13 May, British and Indian reinforcements counter-attacked to drive the Japanese from the positions they had captured. The Japanese abandoned the ridge at this point but continued to block the Kohima–Imphal road. From 16 May to 22 June, the British and Indian troops pursued the retreating Japanese and reopened the road. The battle ended on 22 June when British and Indian troops from Kohima and Imphal met at Milestone 109, ending the Siege of Imphal.
The battle is often referred to as the "Stalingrad of the East".[3][4] In 2013, the British National Army Museum voted the Battle of Imphal and Kohima to be "Britain's Greatest Battle"

Although Amazon more or less summarises the first part of the novel, the book itself is that good that you will still enjoy reading it. It does tell the story of Mary and the men in her life but at the same time the story of war and independence.

Amazon writes: "In March 1944, during World War Two and just before the Japanese army's offensive towards Bengal, their gateway to India, Lieutenant Gerald Petrie visits one of his father's tea plantations in Upper Assam, near Nagaland. As heir to the Petrie baronetcy and the Petrie tea empire, he knows the sort of world he will be entering, where British wives deal patience cards 'with the skill of ten thousand evenings'. What he does not expect to find there is the lovely Mary Sachema, a village-school educated Lushai hill girl working for the Warrens.

Against all the dictates of their circumstances Gerald and Mary fall deeply in love, spending just one night together before Gerald is abruptly recalled to his regiment. To Gerald's horror, but in tribal tradition, Mary follows him to the Kohima battlefield. Later, as he lies terribly wounded behind the enemy lines
she finds him and, to the amazement of his commanding officer, Alan Jameson, brings him to safety from a scene of carnage. As Gerald recovers, Mary and Alan realise that he will never walk again.

Scandalising Gerald's family and the co-directors of Petrie India, Mary accepts Gerald's proposal - accepting with it all the pain of a mixed marriage of that period, with an invalid husband, for the sake of love. She bears him a son, conceived before his injuries. And in due course, as his widow, becomes first-ever chairwoman of the Petrie India Company, at a time of far-reaching change.

The Lushai Girl, a 'best-seller' in several countries, was a finalist and runner-up in the Romantic Novelist Association's annual competition for the best romantic novel of the year. It is the highly romantic and deeply moving story of a woman's struggle to come to terms with family tragedy, racial prejudice, commercial manipulation and an India in which national politics have become politics of violence."

5 stars out of 5

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

"The Sultan’s Wife" - not a soppy romance story but a novel about an interesting time in Moroccan history

When I bought the book I expected some light reading material like "The Sheikh" to find myself suprised by a story about 17th century Moroccan sultan Moulay Ismail who built Meknes. The story is told by the black African courteunuch Nus Nus and the enslaved English concubine Alys Swan.

Moulay Ismail uses slave labor to built a huge palace and surrounding town in Meknes. His corsairs are attacking European ships and the seamen are used as laborers for the building project. Alys is a very pale and blonde woman sailing from Scheveningen to her betrothed in London when her ship is also attacked. The corsair leaders send her to the palace. The sultan is a very pious man and refuses a woman who is not Muslim so his queen orders Nus Nus to make sure Alys converts (or killed). During those meetings the eunuch and the foreign woman become friends.

The Moroccan court is a very dangerous place to live. Not only is the sultan definately mad in the head big time, his chief wife, a woman from Subsaharan Africa and a former slave, is as dangerous. Everybody believes her to be a witch and she has a habit of killing the other women and their children off using her potions. No one can be sure of his life around the two of them. While Zidana is cruel and evil the sultan however has more mellow moments. For instance he loves his children.

The book offers an interesting view into a period of history not many of us know a lot of. For those of us who have been in Meknes it is even more interesting. We read about all the different inhabitants of the area: the Westerners who occupy Tanger, the Jewish mellah and the obliged clothing for Jews, the Europeans who "turned Turk", the courtofficials ready to kill each other, the pest, the campains against the Berbers.

Part of the story is set in London at the court of King Charles the Second as Nus Nus is part of a delegation send to the English king that is led by a son of another British slave who is the architect of Meknes and whose English is perfect. The similarities and differences between the two courts are interesting: a king with many women, court ladies who rival each other, huge building projects. But while the sultan makes you shiver, king Charles is as interesting but a nicer person.

I reread the book over the Christmas holiday. Due to having read "The Tenth Gift" the first novel of Jane Johnson, and more or less a prequal to this one as that deals with the whole corsair and slavery subject, I enjoyed "The Sultan's wife" even more because I now knew what would happen to Nus Nus and Alys and focussed more on all the historical details and subplots.

A 5 out of 5 stars. Really recommend it. And the good news: Only 99 cents for the Kindle version

AMAZON wrote:
1677. In Europe, the Enlightenment is dawning after a century of wars. On the seas and in coastal villages, pirates and corsairs are the scourge of the waves. And in Morocco, Sultan Moulay Ismail is concentrating his power, building an elaborate palace complex with captive labor.

Alys Swann is also a captive, but hers is a different lot: convert to Islam, marry the sultan and give him sons. Or die. Nus-Nus, the sultan’s scribe and keeper of the royal couching book, is charged with convincing Alys to accept her fate. Or they both die. Two powerless prisoners in a world of brutal intrigue, each discovers that they can take strength in the other, to endure that which must be endured in the hope of a better tomorrow.

Rich in detail with compelling characters and an ambitious scope, The Sultan’s Wife is a remarkable tale of adventure, romance, history, and friendship. wrote:

"The author of The Salt Road and The Tenth Gift Jane Johnson returns with a captivating historical novel The Sultan's Wife set in Morocco. Morocco, 1677. The tyrannical King Ismail resides over the palace of Meknes. Through the sweltering heat of the palace streets, Nus Nus, slave to the King and forced into his live of servitude as court scribe, is sent to the apothecary. There he discovers the bloody corpse of the herb man, and becomes entangled in a plot to frame him for the murder. Juggling the tempestuous Moroccan king, sorceress queen Zidana and the malicious Grand Vizier is his only hope to escape the blame. Meanwhile, young, fair Alys Swann is captured during her crossing to England, where she is due to be wed. Sold into Ismail's harem, she is forced to choose: renounce her faith or die. An unlikely alliance develops between Alys and Nus Nus, one that will help them to survive the horrifying ordeals of the Moroccan court. Brimming with rich historical detail and peppered with real characters, from Charles I to Samuel Pepys, The Sultan's Wife is a story of enduring love and adventure. 'Jane Johnson writes the sort of books you want to tell everyone about - they hook you from the first page and sweep you along with passion, history and romance. I'm addicted' Katie Fforde 'An utterly compelling story' Stuart MacBride, author of Cold Granite 'Imagine the darkest Arabian Tale combined with Tremain's glorious Restoration' Essie Fox, author of The Somnambulist 'An irresistible page turner - I loved it' Barbara Erskine 'Full of intrigue, deceit, skulduggery and murder. It has romance in it, but also heartbreak and personal tragedy. It's deeply evocative of North Africa - the sights, the smells, the culture, but there are also great depictions of London at the time, and the court of Charles II. I really enjoyed it' Ben Kane, bestselling author of Spartacus: The Gladiator 'Far more than a rip-roaring read: it's a true work of art. Deftly recreating the court intrigue of the tyrannical Moroccan Sultan Moulay Ismail - with all its trappings of superstition, black magic and torture - it sucks you down through interleaving layers steeped in blood, sweat and raw adrenalin, to a mesmerising bedrock of real history...The Sultan's Wife gets inside you, conjuring its magic long after you read the last line' Tahir Shah, author of The Caliph's House Jane Johnson was raised in Cornwall but now lives for half the year in a remote mountain village in Morocco. Her first novel set in North Africa is The Tenth Gift, and this was followed by The Salt Road. The Sultan's Wife is her third Moroccan novel. She has been involved in the book industry for many years and combines her work as a publisher with writing for both adults and children.


Jane Johnson writes the sort of books you want to tell everyone about - they hook you from the first page and sweep you along with passion, history and romance. I'm addicted -- Katie Fforde An irresistible page turner - I loved it -- Barbara Erskine An utterly compelling story -- Stuart MacBride, author of Cold Granite Imagine the darkest Arabian Tale combined with Tremain's glorious Restoration. A truly alluring read -- Essie Fox, author of The Somnambulist Full of intrigue, deceit, skulduggery and murder. It has romance in it, but also heartbreak and personal tragedy. It's deeply evocative of North Africa - the sights, the smells, the culture, but there are also great depictions of London at the time, and the court of Charles II. I really enjoyed it -- Ben Kane, bestselling author of Spartacus: The Gladiator Far more than a rip-roaring read: it's a true work of art. Deftly recreating the court intrigue of the tyrannical Moroccan Sultan Moulay Ismail - with all its trappings of superstition, black magic and torture - it sucks you down through interleaving layers steeped in blood, sweat and raw adrenalin, to a mesmerising bedrock of real history... The Sultan's Wife gets inside you, conjuring its magic long after you read the last line -- Tahir Shah, author of The Caliph's House"