Wednesday, 25 July 2018

"Entangled lives" by Imran Omer, an impressive novel about Pakistan and Taliban-era Afghanistan

As an immigration lawyer I have seen many cases of Afghani refugees. However this novel still made a huge impression on me. We here in Holland live nowadays a safe life and you can hardly imagine what it will be when that safety is snatched away from you or when you are never safe. This is happening over and over again in this book.

The novel tells the story of three different people and their lives are entangled with each other. Hence the title. We meet at first a young mother who recognises a familiar face on tv. She goes to Guantanamo Bay and it turns our that that inmate is the man who once saved her life. She asks him to tell him how he ended up in the Taliban and reluctantly he agrees to do so but she has to promise to save his son from life in a Madrassah. (religious boarding school).

So he starts to tell her about his life as an orphan in Karachi in Pakistan.

In the meantime we also hear about Tara a wealthy young woman whose parents live in what now is Bangladesh but then in 1971 was East Pakistan. She is a student who falls in love with a local Bengali student but her family is from West Pakistan. I used to have a friend who was born there in that year and who was adopted by Dutch parents and who could not understand why she looked so different from the people of the town she was supposed to come from until we saw a documentary of that war and realised. Reading Tara's story made me think of that girl all the time. Tara's parents are a very unhappy married couple who came together during the Partition between Pakistan and India. This influences Tara to make what in my eyes is a stupid decision and what is the only part in the book I had trouble believing.

While Raza is telling about his days in Afghanistan with the Taliban his story is chronologically interspaced with that of the American journalist so we see what happened from both sides. It sometimes feels you are reading a dystopian science fiction novel.

The writer hails from Pakistan and now lives in the United States.

A very good novel that is no propaganda document. It is scary and very depressing. It tries to explain the why. Definitely not a happy read. Although there is a happy result of goodness to look forward to. Not a novel you will easily forget.

I got this novel for free via Netgalley a site that gives people who like to review new books an advanced copy to read.

I can really recommend it. The novel will be published on the 27Th of July 2018. A 5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, 23 July 2018

"The Tory - a novel about spying and love in Oneida territory during the American Revolution - review

For someone who is not American nor English this part of the American Revolution is not that familiar territory. In the story captain John Carlisle a disgraced English army officers is send to what is now Upstate New York to find out what the position towards the rebellion is of the Indian tribes forming the Six Nations empire. He ends up in a town near the Oneida homelands. His innkeeper is Dellis (Daylis) a woman of Oneida and Scottish decent who has quite a past with English regulars. While John is spying someone is murdering Indian women in the area.

I understood from another reviewer that the author wrote a historically correct story. I would not classify it as a romance novel. With all the other things going on is is more a historical novel.

Unlike most novels written by an American author and set during the War of Independence this novel is not pro Rebels. but neutral and I like that. Yes some English soldiers are very bad but also some rebels are bad and irresponsible.

The book has a slow space but as it gives us an in depth view on rural live at the beginning of the war and all kind of mysteries have to be solved I liked that. The writer says in her notes she used writing to cope with some devastating events. I think the way she describes guilt and trauma is very well done. For the prudes: That results in a bed scene but that is essential for this story. It is certainly not an erotic tale.

There is one thing I am not that amused with. This novel is a part 1 of 3. So I have spend days reading it and then in the end there is no closure. And the other books are also not available yet. I wonder if there can be one other reason than profit to do it like that (but it is not expensive so why?) Not smart as people will have forgotten about it when book 2 is published. Because of that I deduct one star. For the rest; well done!

Published 11the May 2018, 4 stars out of 5

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 fa├žade. 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.