Thursday, 19 July 2018

REVIEW: "The Hanover square affair" - an impressive Regency murder mystery

Captain Lacey is a veteran in his forties who has trouble to adjust to civilian life after traumatic affairs during the Napoleontic wars. One day he ses cavalrymen trying to subdue a riot and takes charge. This ends with him being involved in a murder investigation.

I am very impressed by this nnovel. It is a good murder mystery but it is more. We see all kind of aspects of Regency life: the young street prostitutes, women declared "ruined", soldiers coming home, army life, the building of modern London. Lacey is also a man who is very lonely and hurt. He is described in such a way he becomes a three dimensional person.

The book sounds male but is written by a woman.

 Looking forwards to the other books in the series.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Utterly silly Arab Prince romp - Her desert prince by Marie Tuhart

This kind of novel is in my own language called "Kitchen maid's literature" and will always feature a powerful and handsome man and end in a happy ever after. Nothing wrong with that. Also when you are not a poor servant and have an education you can enjoy an escape to fairyland where all maidens are young and all men are handsome and nice and both are attracted to each other like magnets . Even husbands, brothers and fathers read these kind of penny novels in secret.

However although I realise they are modern fairytales I like a bit of accuracy. Here we have a British woman going to an Arabic country because she is hired by the local king to paint a mural in a hospital. When she meets the queen she asks if she has to dress according to Islamic tradition and the queen (who is a British woman as well) explains that it is a Christian country with only a few Muslims and Catherine is glad about that. WHAT? I have been in quite a few Arabic countries and Jordan, Syria, Iraq to name a few had a large Christian minority but an Arabic country that is Christian and has only a few Muslims? Not in this world. And it also had my hackles up that she is relieved. Of what? Not having to cover up in the heath or relieved there are hardly Muslims?

Then it is mentioned that Catherine's parents are British aristocrats. So nobility. But in the novel it is stated that they are royalty. As far as I know royalty are only the kings and queens and their heirs. I wondered how a British writer could mess that up. On the last page I saw it was written by an American woman. Please madam change those things. There is not a drop of Arab in this desert story so if you want to write about a dark handsome Christian prince who does gala-balls put the story in a made up Southern European country.

In the novel there are hints about Catherine's past but somehow that never gets really dealt with. On Netgalley it was qualified as an erotic tale. Well at least there was desert there.  I mean there were two bed scenes in the whole book and they were not erotic at all.

I really say I had trouble finishing the novel while I see other people writing very enthusiastic reviews. Maybe with my background knowledge the charm of the story was spoiled and it sounded too alien too often.

3 stars out of 5

Published 17th of July 2018

(p)review of "Herakles"- a graphic novel about a figure from Greek Mythology

Herakles has to do a list of tasks. When you are not familiar with the story or trying to unearth your schooldays in your brain like I had to do a lot of this graphic novel will be lost to you. The story is hardly explained and the who is who is at the end.

The drawings are in just a few colours and very basic. One I really liked but the rest not so much. Reading other reviewers I realised it was supposed to be in the style of Greec pottery. I wished I had known that when I was reading it.

Like I said: You best have a basic knowledge of Greec mythology so this graphic novel will do well in a school where they teach Greec and Latin and I can imagine my friends who studied ancient history in university liking it as well. But not for the general public and certainly not for people under 12.

3 stars out of 5.

(To be) published 24th of July 2018

Monday, 16 July 2018

Some #FREE novels to take with you on your vacation (free download for kindle - legal)

Molly Elliott's quiet life in Tallahassee, Florida, is disrupted when routine errands land her in the wrong place at the wrong time: the middle of a bank robbery. Accused and cleared of the crime, she flees both media attention and mysterious, threatening notes, to move across the country to Cranberry Cove, where she has inherited her Aunt Maggie's bed and breakfast on the Northern California coast. Her new beginning is peaceful - that is, until five guests show up at the inn for a weekend, each with a hidden agenda.

Mix together one blushing honeymoon couple, one flamboyant boutique owner, a deadpan traveling salesman, and a charmingly handsome novelist, and there’s more than scones cooking at Cranberry Cottage Bed and Breakfast. As true motives become apparent, will Molly's past come back to haunt her or will she finally be able to leave it behind?

A powerful new Caliphate unites the Islamic world, its vengeful eye cast westwards. As Europe founders in economic and political upheaval an army gathers on its borders, watching, waiting.... In London, the massive truck bomb that destroys Whitehall is the signal to commence hostilities across Europe. Trapped by the unfolding mayhem, Prime Minister Harry Beecham must escape the city before it falls, his destination a secret government complex buried deep beneath the West Country hills. As the invasion gathers momentum and England buckles beneath the military onslaught, it soon becomes clear that sanctuary must lie elsewhere, far to the North, where remaining British forces have massed along an ancient border, dug in deep to await the final battle for survival.

As the infamous madam of one of London’s high-class brothels, Marie Labelle hides her true character behind a false façade. But when she comes to the aid of Lord Danesfield by killing the notorious Comte de Dampierre, Marie is whisked off to France to take refuge in an old abandoned monastery. Slapping the gentleman who had been so kind as to provide sanctuary was not the best way to thank him. But Marie had sworn never to bow and scrape to any man ever again. Yet when disturbing events lead her to believe her life is in danger, there is only one man she can turn to for help. 
A man who must decide where his loyalty lies …
Rather than return to London and the father he despises, Marcus Danbury, the illegitimate son of an earl, works for the Crown or any member of the nobility willing to pay him. However, providing lodgings for the madam of a brothel was never on his agenda. Not when he wouldn’t see a penny for his trouble. But he owed Lord Danesfield a debt, and Marcus always paid his dues. Yet Lord Danesfield wants something more from him — information only his current guest can provide. Now it seems he has another assignment — one in the form a luscious temptress with a secret she swears never to tell.

A fun family vacation turns into an apocalyptic nightmare when a couple and their young son find themselves trapped in the Irish countryside during an international crisis. With all contact outside the country gone, all electricity and all non horse-powered vehicles useless and desperate bands of outlaws roaming the Emerald Isle, the time has come for one soft American family to reach deep within for the reserve of brains and courage to survive.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Preview of "In the Galway Silence" - An Irish detective noir

In this dark novel Jack Taylor an Irish former policeman has turned alcoholic and private investigator. He is hired to look into the death of heinous twins and finds out they are killed by a vigilante group lead by The Silence.

It is a short, very fast paced novel. I liked that it is written as if we are reading the thoughts of Jack (mostly). What reminded me of the old American detective novels. He interspaced his adventures with the daily news. This makes the novel feel very 2017. Some of the scenes made a lasting impression like the afternoon he spends with his daughter.

If you like thrillers and you are interested in Irish colour locale (you might need to google hurling or the whiskey brands) this is a book I can certainly recommend.


Description on AMAZON:

Ken Bruen has been called “hard to resist, with his aching Irish heart, silvery tongue, and bleak noir sensibility” (New York Times Book Review). His prose is as characteristically sharp as his outlook in the latest Jack Taylor novel, In the Galway Silence.

After much tragedy and violence, Jack Taylor has at long last landed at contentment. Of course, he still knocks back too much Jameson and dabbles in uppers, but he has a new woman in his life, a freshly bought apartment, and little sign of trouble on the horizon. Once again, trouble comes to him, this time in the form of a wealthy Frenchman who wants Jack to investigate the double-murder of his twin sons. Jack is meanwhile roped into looking after his girlfriend’s nine-year-old son, and is in for a shock with the appearance of a character out of his past. The plot is one big chess game and all of the pieces seem to be moving at the behest of one dangerously mysterious player: a vigilante called “Silence,” because he’s the last thing his victims will ever hear.

This is Ken Bruen at his most darkly humorous, his most lovably bleak, as he shows us the meaning behind a proverb of his own design―“the Irish can abide almost anything save silence.”

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Preview of "The last hours" - a Post Apocalyps story set in medieval England during the Plague.

When you like Post-Apocalypse SF stories you will like this historical novel. Yes you read that correctly.!!

It is 14th century England and a strange illness spreads like wildfire from one demesne to the other killing most people. No one knows what it is or what causes it.

England is in those days a feudal society. The king is the feudal lord of dukes and earls. They are the feudal lords or barons and those are the ones mere knights swear fealty to. On the domains work and live the serves who are more or less slaves tied to the land and unable to leave. Though there are also towns with freemen.

The demesne Develish is owned by a poor knight who has just that one manorhouse and the serves working there on his demesne in a valley in Dorsetshire. He is married to Lady Anne and they have a daughter.  The man is a total jerk and stupid to boot. His wife however had some training because she was raised in a nunnery. She can read and write and knows basic healing. When he is away from home and tales of the mysterious illness reach Develish Lady Anne decides that all the people of the village should come inside the manor and behind the moat. She reasons that in her convent ill sheep were separated from the healthy ones and that helped prevent illnesses spreading.

The book is a very good read. I was two days glued to my Kindle. The Middle Ages came alive. Instead of a "death everywhere"-story it is a layered story that also deals with the aftermath of a pandemic. Ok they are not ill but can they go and find food? What happens when a whole area is death? How can you see this in a religious concept? What happens when there is no law and order? What will happen with them without an heir?

There are also a lot of personal secrets to be revealed.

I really enjoyed learning stuff about the Middle Ages that I did not know or realised like the banishment of cats or the fact that the average person never left his village and had no idea what was behind the hills,

So far the positive things about the book. I also have some negative things to say:
1) Minor detail: something is off with the editing. Some words starting with an f like flooding are spelled f looding;
2) What other reviewers also mentioned: Anachronisms. I cannot imagine abortions in such a religious and ignorant time. Also the people think the Plague is caused by rats. And hints are given to the flees who carry that disease. But that was only discovered in the last century. People used to think it was a punishment by God or cause by air (hence the birdmen masks of the doctors that were stuffed with vinegar. Side effect a flee hates vinegar). And why would a moat protect them? Rats can swim.
But that is not the only thing that made me wonder about the historical correctness. No woman would be able to refuse her lord and master. And even when a lady would be a good person I cannot imagine her thinking she is equal to her servants. Another thing is the Saxon-Norman thing. Was that not done and dusted by then? It is more than 150 years after the Battle of Hastings.
3) BIGGEST SOURCE OF IRRITATION: Suddenly my Kindle stopped and I thought it malfunctioned. Turned out it was the end of a first book of a series. That was nowhere mentioned. I would be so pissed off if I had paid 12 dollar for just a partial story (and part 2 not even printed) even when it is a long story. Yes you can write a series but end then book 1 on a logical moment. For instance the boys expect Taddeus to leave for France. When the writer would end the story the moment he leaves Develish to find his fortune elsewhere it would be a logical moment to say "to be continued".

A real 5 start story but I deducted one for the crappy ending.

Friday, 6 July 2018

#Free crime novel set in #India (only free today)

Little Flower chronicles the unique bond shared by two damaged souls: Sister Shanti, a mischievous, elderly nun from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, and Meeta, a young prostitute with dreams of a life lived outside the brothel. Thrown together when a young man they love is murdered, they embark upon a darkly comic journey through New Delhi’s underbelly in a search to understand the curious crime that has stolen him. As they plunge ever deeper into mystery and peril, they are forced to confront a cast of colorful characters and the contradictions that run through the center of every human soul, all before arriving at an unforgettable final revelation that shocks as much as it inspires.

Utterly endearing and completely moving, Little Flower stands as a testament to the wild and unwieldy power of love in its many forms.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

#Free crime thriller set in America's South on a plantation that is to be restored.

Some secrets should stay buried…

Cage Foster thought taking a new job would be what he needed to get a fresh start on life—and forget about the woman who broke his heart. As caretaker of a beautiful Antebellum mansion, he can’t wait for a peaceful, solitary lifestyle. But nothing could be farther from the truth. The discovery of a skeleton and two fresh bodies buried on the grounds makes Cage a suspicious enemy of everyone in the small town. Everyone but her. Just his luck his ally is a pushy Yankee, a woman who talks too fast and still believes in the romance of the Old South.

Some secrets can set you free…

Restoration expert Dani Evans bought Ironwood plantation to restore it to its former glory. After her mother’s death, Dani wants to rebuild her life, and what better place the sumptuous grandeur of the South. Except what she finds at Ironwood isn’t quite what she hoped. A surly caretaker is only the beginning of her problems. Death, hidden treasure, and falling for a murder suspect were not part of her plan. Dani is convinced the legend of hidden treasure at Ironwood and the murders are tied together, but she has to find the truth before Cage is arrested. And if she’s not careful, she might become the next victim.

Is it not free anymore but you would like a free preview get a free preview of the first chapters.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Free classic Four feathers: "Fear is not lack of courage. Courage is willingness to do what needs to be done regardless of fear"

Mason's 1902 classic adventure about British army officer Harry Feversham's endeavour to overcome the false label of "coward". Four times filmed.  I saw the movie years ago. The book is a joy to read. You do not see that the writing is over a century old.

As a young boy Harry is present during the Crimean War Veteran dinners at his father's estate. The former officers are discussing people who were cowards in battle. When years later Harry himself is an officer and newly engaged he all of a sudden resigns his commission while the next days his regiment is ordered off to the Sudan. People become aware he had prior knowledge and they send him white feathers to brand him a coward. His fiancée adds one of her own before breaking off their engagement.

Harry has a conversation with one of the Crimean officers who ensures him that fear to die in battle is not cowardice but using your brain and that being afraid would not mean one would not do something heroic. Courage is not the lack of fear - but the willingness to do what needs to be done regardless of fear. Harry was afraid he would damage the good reputation of his father and Ethne if he ever would show fear like the guys had done in his dad's war comrade's tales.

Harry disappears.

While the movie with Heath Ledger focussed on the adventures of Harry the book evolves around his former fiancée Ethne. She is now courted by Harry's friend Durrance but realises she is still in love with Harry although no one has ever heard from him again. She realises that she has been too harsh on Harry and feels like she destroyed his life. Then Durrance goes blind and Ethne accepts his marriage proposal because she does not want his life to be destroyed as well.

In the meantime tales reach her from Sudan that Harry is saving the men who accused him and does deeds more courageous than would ever have been expected from him. He seems to want to redeem himself and erase the past.

So what will happen now? Will Harry survive? But what of his best friend who is about to marry the love of his life?

Good psychology and adventure. Old fashioned honour. Writing style feels very modern. Very different from the movie. A theme set in a story written just after the Sudan war and during the Boer War I believe. An era where the military power of Great Britain was still a lifestyle. CAn really recommend.

Friday, 1 June 2018

When the heroes are not the good guys according to the law - two novels by Addison Kane

Dark Side of the Sun

Imagine a Mafia romance set in the world of Pride and Prejudice. It is a very good read because you keep wondering what the intentions of Gregory are. And the guy is scary. I really wondered why the women fell for him. Yes he is very good looking but is rude, lethal and bossy.

 "Bastard-born gentleman, Gregory Harrow, has decided that the Baroness of Iliffe will be his and his alone. It matters not what the young widow is hiding from, who he must kill, or what lies he shall weave to have his way" Amazon

A Trick of the Light

This is the second novel I read from this writer and I am very enthusiastic. She builds their world so well, installs a feeling of belonging and creates such "lovable" characters you hate to see the book ending. What is even more skilfully done because the heroes and heroines are not law abiding citizens and coming from a country where guns are outlawed the violence one would expect me as the reader to turn against them. Instead reading on you root for them. The whole group of secondary characters certainly make the story come alive.

"Prohibition has a stranglehold on legitimate business, but for small towns willing to play dirty, and country boys looking to make a pretty penny on shine, Prohibition has been a boon. For Monroe County, it’s the very life blood that keeps their backwoods community afloat.

But something isn’t right about the new girl in town. Charlotte Elliot swears, she drinks, and she’s trying too damn hard to fit in with the simple folk. The moonshining backbone of Monroe, Matthew Emerson, is less than thrilled when the blonde comes knocking on his door." Amazon
The writer did such a good job that people who you really would detest become the people you are rooting for while reading the books.

"The Templar's Cross: A Medieval Mystery" - review

1420 Scotland:  Sir Law Kintour is wounded in battle and lost his liege. He has returned from the war in France injured, broke, and in need of a patron but the new earl, son of his liege, just sees a man with a bad leg and refuses to employ him as a knight. In desperation, he reluctantly accepts a commission to find a nobleman's runaway wife. He enlists the help of a fellow Scot with whom he escaped after their defeat at the Battle of Verneuil. But this man is soon murdered, and Law discovers he has been lied to. As the murders continue to mount, powerful interests come into play. When the Sheriff of Perth considers him a convenient scapegoat, it gives Law no choice but to untangle the lies and find the killer or hang for the murders.

The book is a quick read. Sometimes I had the feeling I was missing something and the end was a bit sudden.

It is full with Scottish words that are for me as a Dutch person who has been in Scotland often not that difficult but for some it might be quite a hurdle. But sometimes I was at a total loss too. Like when people are described as having a tryst what is nowadays the word for some causal sex meeting and then it is later said the guy is gay. Turns out in the language of that century a tryst was a meeting in  general. And I guess a lot of modern people do not know the names of the medieval clothing.The writer however added a glossary at the end of the book (what I discovered a bit late on my Kindle. Move it to the start of the novel!)

Were they really eating kale as a staple food? The writer used to write historical novels so I trust her for it. Some healthy Scots. I like kale but not more then once a month.

A first novel in a three-set series. Not that good but good enough to try the others as well.

Timetravel to the barbary coast "Captive" by Brenda Joyce

I even like my time travel fantasy novels to be correct historically.This book is set around the time the American navy stopped the Barbary coast corsairs. Comes across as quite well researched - at least the American part - and it is a very good story.

Sometimes you are in a museum and you look at a painting thinking "What a very handsome man that guys was. Too bad he is dead for centuries". I did last week. In this novel that is exactly what Alexandra, a student in naval history does. Somehow however she has the feeling the ghost of the man talks to her. (I just looked the guy up on Wikipedia. If he had talked to me I had committed myself to an asylum. But hey this is a fantasy novel. A timetravel fantasy novel).

Alexandra travels all the way to Ghadaffi ruled Libya to find our what happened to Xavier the man in the painting. When she is in Tripoli she faints and waked up in the early years of the 19th century.

The story is enthralling but there were four elements that annoyed me:

--- minor spoiler alert ---

1) The book is written during the Ghadaffi-era and it is obvious that the American writer had not that much sympathy for Arabs. There are only two people in the whole story that are mentioned in a positive light: a eunuch in the harem and the first wife of the ruler. For the rest people are depicted as being very cruel. And what is wrong with 'Being almost too handsome for a man?'
The cities on the coast of North Africa would attack Western ships for the cargo and the sailors would be held for ransom. As an alternative a country could pay a kind of protection money. When you read the accounts written by some of those sailors it is obvious that even while the crew was enslaved an educated man and one with a will to make something of his life could rise to quite a good job and even some personal wealth. Some became the secretaries of the barshaw or the bey.  The common sailor would be put to work on manual labour and that could indeed mean an early death but having been pressganged in the navy you were also lucky if you survived. Life was a lot harder and more cruel than it is now. The slaves who had to build Meknes died very fast. The writer described the situation of the slaves like a kind of concentration camp or POW camp during the civil war. I think that was not always the case although slavery for years on end - when no-one paid your ransom - is terrible. But I think the writer shows prejudice against the Arabs in the book. The guy who marries her seems quite nice and if driven over the edge by how Alexandra behaves.

2) Alexandra knows Xavier will be executed because he had dealings with the wife of the ruler so what does Alexandra do when the son of the barshaw marries here? Exactly: try to contact Xavier all the time in person while a message could be send via her slave. Why put someone deliberately in danger? Someone you do not know personally.

3) Oh and the plot that her husband allows her a year to mourn is quite silly. One in those countries mourning was three months and two why would a guy in that position allow such a long period.

4) The sexscenes are quite explicit when they are in bed together but during one bad occasion we have to guess what happened.

Now it looks like I did not like the book: I do. It has you reading it for hours. And when you look things up the whole naval part is nicely done. It is just that the leading lady is stupid :)

Who wants to sniff up some historical fact have a look here:


Wednesday, 30 May 2018

When you like the tv series "Judge John Deed" you probably will like this novel about a judge as well

Like in "Judge John Deed" Judge Walden is presiding over several cases that are told as a series of short stories. I understand that plans are in progress to turn this novel and it's predecessor into a tv-series as well.

Judge Walden is the RJ (the presiding judge we would call that in The Netherlands, the legal boss of the court) of a small court in a not so wealthy part of London. With three other judges he has to rule on all kind of cases while in the meantime being annoyed by "the grey smoothies" from the government who hassle him about costs and have the most brilliant but unworkable ideas. Charles Walden is married to the reverent mrs Walden and over dinners with supermarket wine they discuss their days.

For someone who is a lawyer and who worked herself at a district court, some of the things mentioned are "a feast of recognition" as we would say in my country. The red tape, the money problems, the brilliance of some lawyers, the judges having lunch at the "judges table". As the novel is written by someone who was a judge and counsel at the Yugoslavia Tribunal I trust the stories are legally accurate.

There are some style elements resurfacing in each story: The lunch that is 'an oasis in a desert of chaos', the hated but always mentioned 'dish of the day', the always mentioned dinner flooded with supermarket wine that is described as if it is a real old vintage dug up from a wine cellar.

But some of the humour is hidden in a very British way. Like during the case around a vicar who visited a dominatrix a lot of the words used also have a link to BDSM.

For me it took quite as while to finish the book. Maybe because after a day of legal work a book about court proceedings is less diverting then a bodice ripper or a time travel adventure when I am reading in bed. But it is also the effect of the novel being in fact a series of short stories: after finishing one I put the book away for something else to return to it when I had finished the other book. The stories might even work better as a weekly tv-series.

Nevertheless an good read if you like courtroomdrama's or have an interest in legal matters.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

"The Stolen girl" and "the French sultana" both explore the legend of Naksidil the French woman in the Turkish imperial harem

According to legends two French girls in the West Indies had their fortune told and were both assured they would be queens. Years later one of them becomes the wife of the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Her niece however disappears during a sea voyage. She ends up being sold into the imperial harem in Istanbul. Although there is hardly any historical evidence to this legend it is told in many books.

The first novel is a story about a French woman who became the favourite of two sultans and the mother of a third. The history of that era is known and described in book 2. This however is the romanticised prequel to real history and it is a delight to read if you like historical romance novels. The first wife however would in real life have ended up on the bottom of the Bosporus.

The second novel in the series somehow reads different. Maybe because the writer had to stick to history and maybe because it spans many years.  I am quite familiar with this era in Turkish history what influenced the suspense side of the story. In general it feels more like a history book than a novel. What makes Selim so attractive? How do the women react on sharing the same man? Not that much explored. The people do not really come to life. But if you are interested in history it is a lovely way to catch up on Napoleon and France and on the lives of the sultans.

 More then 20 years ago I read another novel about this legend - serialised in a magazine - and that was a lot better.

Monday, 26 March 2018

"Reign of the Marionettes": a history book disguised as a novel - review

When I opted to review "Reign of the Marionettes" I was under the impression is was a historical romance. When I was a few chapters in, I thought it would be an adventure story. It is not. "Reign of the Marionettes" is the account of the real lives and history of a group of people living around 1680 and deals with plotting and scheming.It is more a history book disguised as a novel.

Sometimes this can make the book slow and particularly in the beginning it is full with dialogues (talking heads) and many, many different people. But when you arrive at the second half the stage is set and as a lawyer it had me fascinated how difficult it turned out for people to prove they were innocent.

Imagine yourself in the England of those days. You have grown up in a country ruled by a Puritan dictator who came to power after the king was beheaded in a civil war in which the Catholic French queen of that king was the opposition of the party that won. Catholics are not the most popular people in a situation like that. But to make matters worse your family lore will still tell about Bloody Mary, the queen who ruled when the grandparents of your parents lived and who burned protestants in droves at the stake. And not only her but in continental Europe the same happened. You will fear Catholics because when they would come to power what would happen to you?

And now the royal house is restored on the throne, the queen is barren and the next in line, the brother of the king, marries a Catholic!!!!! Italian princess. You might trust that Prince James but what of his heirs?

This is the situation in the period the book is set in. Britain is a parliamentary monarchy: parliament has to give power to the king. He is not an absolute king like for instance the French ones. One of his closest advisors discovers he is not informed about a secret treaty with France and regards the king from now on an enemy.

Titus Oates
In the meantime some nasty piece of shit, called Titus Oates, tries to get himself elevated by telling lies about people and stabbing people who helped him in the back.

The result is what is called the "Popist Plot" and all of a sudden every Catholic but also everyone else has to fear for his life.

Opposite of the "bad guys" we follow Elisabeth countess of Powis who has to fight to save her husband's life.

Because of the multitude of people in the novel it is, particularly at the beginning, difficult to identify with one. Only because I looked something up on Wikipedia (I am not British) I discovered that everyone in the book is a real person and that the novel follows history, That discovery made me look quite different at this novel and I would suggest the publishers to made this very clear at the beginning of the book and in the sales description. It really makes you appreciate it a lot more. (You do not see the byline on the cover on Kindle)

The book made me look different at king Charles II. For me as a Dutch person he is the one who after he had a safe place of refuge for years in Holland to start multiple wars against Holland as soon as he was king of England. He also seemed a very mercurial man who changed alliances as another person changes socks. Here we see also glimpses of Charles the husband. Yes he had a lot of mistresses and illegitimate children. But when he can save his royal house by divorcing his barren queen he bluntly refuses and refuses and refuses. He had acknowledged his bastards and gave them a decent royal upbringing and made sure his mistresses were looked after. In those days a mistress was regarded quite a normal thing to have. Remember most marriages were once of convenience and only done for diplomatic purposes. But when you study history a bit more it seemed Charles really cared for his Portuguese wife. I had tears in my eyes when people are gossiping in the story that the queen is seen in the royal nursery cuddling and playing with the royal bastards. Imagine to have to live as a queen who fails the only thing she has to do: birth an heir and longing so much for a child you go and cuddle the children your husband has with other women.

When you have concluded the novel take some time to google Elisabeth Powis, Titus Oates and the others to find out what happened afterwards (AND to see what they looked like as there are plenty of paintings). My thoughts were that I am very glad I did not live in those days in Britain.

Interesting read though (as a history book) and the price for the Kindle is very friendly.

Friday, 23 March 2018

"Indiscretion" transports us to 1950ties Franco Spain - book review

Alexandra de Falla is half English and half Spanish.She has lived quite a sheltered life in London. She has been raised by her English aunt as her mother divorced her Spanish father and died and then the war happened.

When the novel starts has Alexandra already written two novels that made her financially independent and when her father asks her to come and at last meet her Spanish family she sees it as at least an opportunity to do background research for a novel.

And that is how the writer of this book works as well. She has experienced Spain and weaves with her own travelmemories the background for this story. Resulting on us - while safely tucked in bed with a cold in my case - experiencing the Semana Sancta in Seville, going to a masked ball or attending a bull fight.

Although the book as far as I know never says it is 1950 the writer tells that in an included interview. We can deduct it by the fact that rationing in England just ended, it is 20 years after the Spanish civil war and Brigitte Bardot is an up and coming movie star.

Spain in 1950 is a lot more conservative than England in those days. Still one is supposed to be chaperoned for instance.

While the book is about the love affair between Alexandra and her adopted cousin Salvador it is even more about discovery of her cultural background.

The writer paints Spain vividly. The family members are colourful though one dimensional people but that does not matter that much apart from an in my opinion a very absent father.

With a title like indiscretion you would expect a book full of hot scenes but that is not the case. However the smouldering love between the two cousins is palpable even when there is only a stolen kiss once and awhile.

It is a very believable story and you really root for Salvador and Alexandra. You can feel the despair.

A really good book that I can also recommend to people who normally do not read a book around a love story, Because it is so much more. But you have to be interested in reading a lot about Spain and Spanish  culture.

***** 5 stars!

"The unkillable Kity O'Kane" -review. Eye witness to early 20th century history

I am a big fan of this writer and have read many novel written by him. This one did not do it for me.

When you are not familiar with history between say 1900 and 1925 the book might be an interesting read as Colin sends his heroine to all mayor events in that timeframe: the poverty in Ireland and the resulting emigration, the sinking of the Titanic, the suffragettes, another sinking, the Russian revolution, gangster and bootleggers in the US etc. Thing is I know my history and that caused the feeling of impending doom and gloom while reading the book.

I had also problems identifying with Kitty. I am not a socialist so her enthusiasm for her causes was lost to me. Also as a result of the episode style of the book it reads more like a history book than a novel that sucks you into a situation.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Review of "Sparkles of Blue". A fantasy novel that needs a bit of polishing

This fantasy novel starts off quite intriguing The main character works in an office in London and suspects himself to have a bit of autism. He is not good in group and a real loner.

One night he dreams so be in a kind of medieval land and finds out he is the ruler there. It scares him to bits.

He is glad to wake up but the next night he dreams he is back there again and the next.

He wonders what is causing those weird dreams. They are quite draining because he is not the man who likes to be the centre of attention of have to lead.

Then he gets the feeling he is followed during the day and to his horror discovers that wounds received in his dreams are still there in the morning. So those dreams are also real!

So far quite good.

However towards the end the story becomes quite "magical / fantasy" and that is a bit overdone for my taste.

There was one weird thing though: he does not ask people what is going on or sets of to do research. Who was the prince before he started dreaming? What happened to him? Does he look different in his dreams?

And when all the pieces are set and one expects to find out what is really happening the book suddenly ends :(  You do not have to cut fantasy stories or even whatever other novel in separate books. I have read novels that were 1000 pages.

So good start but would suggest some rewrite towards the ending.

3 stars out of 5

Monday, 12 March 2018

A travelogue - mystery - cooking - detectivenovel set in Florence Tuscany "Treachery in Tuscany (Jordan Mayfair Mystery)"

What a joy reading this book was! American architect and amateur sleuth Jordan (early fifties?) and her elderly uncle Alex travel to Florence so he can do research for his new travelguide and she is looking forward to do some cooking classes and enjoy sightseeing the monuments and museums. They check in at an old convent in the middle of town and set about seeing the sights.

 The town is described so vividly that the book reads like a travelogue. You can picture the churches and I even looked up the famous David statue as I had never realised he was so big (no not that part).

 When Jordan takes a Masterclass in Italian cuisine at a villa in the hills the book turns into cookbook. We learn how to make tiramisu with strawberries and that ravioli should be cooked in a broth.

But then someone drops dead in front of Jordan and the book turns detective.

Oh wait there is also a French love interest with a daughter from hell.

The writer did such a good job that it feels like you have gone to Florence yourself and had slept in an old convent meeting all the different types of people you do while on holiday.

Maybe because I could identify with Jordan. The characters never become unrealistic.

A very enjoyable book that I can certainly recommend.

5 stars out of 5