Monday, 27 November 2017

Murder in the imperial palace - review of "Murder in the Forbidden City (Qing Dynasty Mysteries Book 1")

China: A Manchu lady and a lower born Han police inspector try to solve the murder of her sister in law in 19th century Peking. She was murdered in the imperial palace. To find the murderer they have to get admittance in the palace.

Good detective with lots of interesting cultural and historical aspects.

Waiting for the next instalment in the series. In the book the first chapter is included but that book is not for sale yet.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

A believable "billionaire falls in love with a poor girl" - story

Sometimes you just want something easy to read so I opted for a romance novel to review for Netgalley. At first it seemed the standard "billionaire unpleasant man beds poor girl in 20 positions and suddenly falls in love" kind of story. What can be good escapist reading but what always sounds very unlikely to me. Who wants to have a relationship with an egoistic nasty person?

So I was surprised to see that in this story things are different.

Yes Greyson is a very overbearing dominant man and he would have me a nervous wreck because I would feel like a prisoner but it becomes clear that it is done with good intentions. His love interest does react different to his behaviour than I would have done. She just let it happen and seems to like it. What made me wonder.

Unlike many of this kind of novels the writer gives a solid explanation of both the persons behaviour: He has lost people dear to him because he did not protect them, she has a past in which she lacked any protection.So they are a good fit. It turned out to be a believable lovestory and had a lot of humor elements as well.

The title incapable in my opinion points to how they are damaged by their personal history.

Sold by Amazon:

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

"Emirates Diaries: From Sheikhs to Shakespeare" - a review

The writer worked for the British council in the Emirates around the time of the First Gulf war. It is definitely still a diary so very fragmental. Not a memoir.

The Arabic names have many similarities. Which Sakr? Which Mohammed? What is difficult.

Still interesting to read.

Too my surprise saw someone mentioned I actually met myself once.

For sale with Amazon. You can download the Kindle App on your phone or your pc.

A very good detective story by someone who normally does research into that era "Searcher in the Dawn"

Early 17th century: In a small English village the lady of the manor dies shortly after having given birth to an heir. Eleanor is the daughter of the late village doctor and what you would now call the pathologist. She sees symptoms that seem odd.

What makes this book more than the standard detective is the unfamiliar historical background and the rich setting of village life. Eleanor is at a crossroad in her life. We see her having to decide what road to take. A recurring theme is missing out on a chance to find love. Grace, Grace's father, Elisabeth, Will and Eleanor all see life thwarting a romantic interest. Some will find happiness with another others won't. Some find happiness in work or the love of a child others turn bitter.

I thought while reading the book that it was a great detective story but that it was highly unbelievable to have a woman in this kind of profession in those times. Then to my utter surprise the writer explained at the end that she is working at a university and did research on that time frame and based the women in the book on the historical persons she had read about for her research. And when you google you indeed find her scientific publications as well.

A real 5 out of 5 stars.

Amazon description:

 It is 1623, and the young Lady Grace Upton has died, days after the birth of her son.

This is not particularly unusual, but when Eleanor Goodchild, local apothecary and niece of the midwife who delivered the child, sees the body, she begins to suspect that Grace's death may not have been natural. As the local searcher, Eleanor must report the death formally, and so begins her bid to discover the truth behind the young woman's death…

Was Grace's husband involved, or the mysterious and haughty French woman who has taken up residence in their home? Or does the truth lie further back, rooted in Grace's former life as the daughter of a village printer?

Meanwhile, Eleanor has her own life to manage. Her relationship with her brother Tom, with whom she has lived since the traumatic death of their parents some time ago, is strained and in the absence of a husband, Eleanor's future seems uncertain.

Searcher in the Dawn is an intriguing blend of murder-mystery and historical romance, and paints a fascinating portrait of village life and relationships in seventeenth-century England. A compelling story with a striking twist, it will appeal to lovers of crime novels and historical tales alike.

Lucinda Becker has spent many years researching and writing about Renaissance women and their ways of living and dying. She has produced a variety of books for university and college students and was once a newspaper feature writer. She lives in the countryside with her family and this is her first work of fiction

An amazing novel: Gods and Monsters

A book that reminded me of 19th century novels like those written by Jane Austen. Two girls are of marriageable age and live with an elderly father. Dad has a candidate in mind for his younger one but the young man rather likes the older daughter. At first we get to know them as a very serious naive girl and a jealous flirty one. It is obvious that in those days girls of a good background could only wait for a good candidate to come and ask for their hand in marriage. Gossips could destroy one's prospects altogether. So we see the two girls grow up and deal with challenges. A father who is sinking into Alzheimer's, blackmail, poverty. Some things are spelled out, some things you have to read between the lines with our own more worldly knowledge.

It was amusing to read that in those days you were regarded old when a man was past 30. Or that when a man became a widower he was expected to marry soon again to keep his urges at bay.

No sexscenes and things only hinted at. Somehow that enhances the story.

Can really recommend buying it. A 6 stars out of 5 when you like a complicated story that displays real feelings and that needs intellect. The Gods and Monsters must be the men in the women's lives.

Amazon description:

As a widower, Nathanial Durham has the monumental responsibility of finding suitable husbands for his two daughters. Flirtatious and changeable Bethany might have nearly anyone, but she seems determined to toss her suitors away almost the moment they arrive. Laynie, on the other hand, far behind her sister in looks and charm, is of especial concern to her father. And so, when Harold Vaughn returns home to inherit, it seems the problem, at least for one of his daughters, is solved. Only which daughter will it be?

Even his girls cannot quite decide, and so, to cool the rivalry, the sisters are sent to an aunt’s, where they are thrown into the path of other young and eligible gentlemen—and a new rivalry begins.

Meanwhile, Mr. Durham, lonely for intelligent companionship, hires a gentleman to read to him several nights a week, but Mr. Holbrook is off limits to his coquettish girls. With varying degrees of reluctance, they honor the agreement. At least Beth does for herself, but if its possible Mr. Holbrook might provide a distraction for her sister while she decides which gentleman she prefers for herself, well...what harm can there be?

Some, it seems. When Laynie, accident prone and determined to get herself into any fix that comes her way, falls from a horse, it sets in motion a series of events that expose Mr. Holbrook as a man of questionable integrity. Is it possible Mr. Durham’s hired companion is capable of the wrongs laid at his door? Is it possible Laynie has been mistaken in esteeming him as a man of character?

Is it possible to know anyone truly?

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A slow historical romance - not impressed "Cry of the peacock"

One of thirteen in a dozen. The author explains in a foreword that this is her first book but while she was writing it she decided on writing the more dark and serious "Moths and butterflies." That one I had read first and that one is marvellous. This one is for the people who like regency / victorian romances light and predictable. Nevertheless it gives a look into and England changing from agriculture to industrial times.

Amazon description: An illustrious marriage, a fortune, a position of wealth and influence. These are the dreams and ambitions of any Victorian woman of sense. Or are they?

Perhaps not for Arabella Gray.

The death of Abbie’s father, the overseer of a large country estate, leaves her without means or resources, without, even, a place to live. Her landlords, in an extraordinary display of charity, invite her to live at Holdaway Hall. But the invitation is as puzzling as it is generous. Why are the Crawfords, who have never paid her any notice before, so concerned with her wellbeing now?

It’s a question the younger Crawford brothers would like to have answered as well. Certainly Miss Gray is a mercenary upstart. Certainly their brother is mad for fancying himself in love with her. Such a union would make them a laughing stock. They mean to put a stop to it, but when they learn that her past is closely—even disturbingly—connected with their own, they are brought up short, forced to ask themselves some very hard questions.

As Abbie herself soon learns, there is a great mystery at the heart of her landlords’ extraordinary offer. Everything she has ever dreamt of might be hers for the taking, but is the price worth it? More than her happiness alone rests upon her decision. If she refuses Ruskin Crawford’s offer of marriage, will she be able to live with the consequences? If she does, will she be able to live with herself?

In the end, all must ask themselves some very hard questions. What does it mean to be a man or woman of honor and integrity? What does it mean, after all, to be a gentleman? And what, exactly, is the price of a woman’s heart?

Marvellous good story: "Of moths and butterflies"

Not a regency romance but a story of two families with a lot of secrets that haunt them.

A young woman who feels so soiled she cannot imagine herself worthy is just one of them.

Many are gravely hurt.

The secrets will come out though.

The uncle is an intriguing fellow. Is he bad or someone who tried to do his best?

What is shocking is how powerless English women were around 150 years ago. They could still be married off when they were still not of age.

The writer tells us at the end that she was busy writing her first novel when this darker story came up due to her personal experiences. Rape is a recurring theme.

No explicit sex scenes and even the violations are only hinted at in a way that is totally in sinc with the time period.

AMAZON description:

 Archer Hamilton is a collector of rare and beautiful insects. Gina Shaw is a servant in his uncle’s house. Clearly out of place in the position in which she has been discovered, she becomes a source of fascination . . . and curiosity.

A girl with a blighted past and a fortune she deems a curse, Gina has lowered herself in order to find escape from her family and their scheming designs. But when she is found, the stakes suddenly become dire.

All Gina wants is the freedom to live her life as she would wish. All her aunts want is the money that comes with her. But there is more than one way to trap an insect. An arranged marriage might turn out profitable for more parties than one.

Mr. Hamilton is about to make the acquisition of a lifetime. But will the price be worth it? Can a woman captured and acquired learn to love the man who has bought her?

A lot of sex and history: review of "The Dark Knight's Captive Bride"

The daughter of the Prince of Wales (the real Welsh one) meets an English knight as a teenager and develops quite a crush. Years later she is married off to a feared English marches lord, an Earl who happens to be the same man.

He does like her but his father was killed by her father so that is not that easy.

Very well written, enough real history involved (Go Google it)  and a complicated story. You really keep reading.

The naked chest on the cover and the title of the novel hints at all the bedsport involved but there is enough story in between.

AMAZON description:

Richard de Claiborne, the dark earl of Dunsmore, serves King Edward Plantagenet well. Sworn to obey his king’s every order, he nevertheless chafes at the command he wed the daughter of his enemy--a man who slew his father in cold blood.

But King Edward wants peace in his lands, and he will stop at nothing to get it. If he has to order his most powerful Marcher lord to marry a Welsh princess, he considers it a small price to pay.

Princess Gwenllian is a political pawn. When she’s forced to marry the evil Black Hawk de Claiborne, she quakes at his fierceness and brutality. But she does her duty to her father and her people, knowing she will never surrender to her enemy.

In the halls of Black Hawk’s great keep, Gwen glimpses a man who can be tender and passionate—and who teaches her about breathtaking sensuality and a desire so great it threatens every vow she ever made to keep her heart locked tight.

As war once more looms between Wales and England, Gwen realizes a terrible truth: she’s in love with the enemy. When long-buried secrets threaten to destroy her fragile happiness, she must make a terrible choice—or watch the man she loves sacrifice his life to save hers…