Saturday, 27 October 2018

Review of "Servant of the Crown" by Paul J Bennett, a great medieval fantasy novel and only 99 dollar cents!

What a captivating novel! A sergeant, a veteran in his end 30ties who served his king for 20 years and has lost his family in the wars with a neighbouring country, is invalided during an uprising in the capital and blamed for the disaster and the great loss of lives his commanding officer caused.

Saved by his former commander and friend from execution as a scapegoat, he is banished to a far away and forgotten royal palace to work there as the groundsman. Trying to bring the gardens back from being a jungle he meets a lonely young girl of around 6. The two of them become friends and he gets to know her secret. But can he protect her?

It is a lovely book. You can feel the love of the limping lonely man for this equally lonely girl. The village near the castle and the castle itself are populated by a whole rainbow of people.  The world is a fantasy world but resembles a 13/14th century Medieval society. There are only a few hints to non-human persons or magic but it is mostly a pseudo England with rebels (Scots?) invading it.

I really enjoyed reading it. It is part of a series and book 2 is about a warrior maiden mentioned in this book but I think the three books will bring the saga to a close or so I hope. Looking forward to read the other novels in this series.

Review of "Hypertension, Blood Sugar? Depression?: How I Cured Them" All by Dr Leonid Altshuler

As one of the members of NetGalley I received an ARC of this book. It is written by a psychiatrist whose origins are in the Soviet Union. I do not know if he still lives there but his book is written in a very "American selfhelp book"-style.

Apparently doctor Altshuler himself suffered from all kind of ailments and he blames that to a too high insulin level in his blood. Since he switched to an all meat/fish diet he feels a lot better. I have no idea if this is solid medical advise or just mumbo-jumbo. He might feel a lot better with no sugar and no carbs but what about vitamins from vegetables and fruits? I always thought they are essential to fight things like cancer?

However in the second part of this short book the writer turns towards his own expertise: mental health. Here I could recognise his knowledge. He was explaining about neurotransmitters and serotonin and dopamine and I recognised the treatment a familymember received for depression. He also explained how getting out of your comfort zone is also very healthy for your mental well-being because it increases your energy levels. The function of alphawaves in your brain etcetera. That part of the book I liked a lot more, I would not have minded if he had focussed on his experience in psychiatry. That part was now a bit short.

A 3 stars out of five

#Free novel: The Dante Connection (Book 2) (Genevieve Lenard)

Art theft. Coded messages. A high-level threat.

Despite her initial disbelief, Doctor Genevieve Lenard discovers that she is the key that connects stolen works of art, ciphers and sinister threats.

Betrayed by the people who called themselves her friends, Genevieve throws herself into her insurance investigation job with autistic single-mindedness. When hacker Francine appears beaten and bloodied on her doorstep, begging for her help, Genevieve is forced to get past the hurt of her friends' abandonment and team up with them to find the perpetrators.

Little does she know that it will take her on a journey through not one, but two twisted minds to discover the true target of their mysterious messages. It will take all her personal strength and knowledge as a nonverbal communications expert to overcome fears that could cost not only her life, but the lives of many others.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Review of "Holding Pattern" by Nesta Tueomey (love is in the air)

Set in Ireland and Sri Lanka in the seventies and early eighties this novel starts with the crash of a passengers jet in the jungle of Ceylon. Airhostess Kay believes her lover married pilot Graham dead and marries a friend. However he is held hostage for years by a local mercenary group and returns to Ireland after a few years to find his wife remarried and his lover married with a baby.

The book has a bit of an "old fashioned" feel. Maybe because it is set in the seventies and maybe because the voice over way of telling the story. It feels like your mother is telling you what happened to her co workers during her youth.

I liked the many details. The book his filled with dozens and dozens of characters and seems to be based of real people in the writer's working life as an air-hostess. For someone born in 1968 it was also a revisiting of things of my past: the watching a video of a wedding with a whole group in pre Facebook days, the renting of a video in a shop, the discrimination of married women on the job, child custody given to one parent after a divorce, the not attending a wedding due to being in mourning.. It is also the days before AIDS with pilots and crew merrily frolicking during layovers in New York.

In my line of work I saw the last Tamil refugees-waves applying for asylum. It was interesting to read about the start of that conflict.

I really did not like Kay. She seemed to be a calculating opportunist but maybe she was just a shy uncertain person. But she seems to let Graham down on at least one occasion in my opinion and I also did not like how she behaved at the grave, Her daughter Dervla is supposed to be a girl everybody loves but she felt to me a bit as an attention seeking child. It seems unnatural how she is getting spoiled by people. I also missed a view into the motivations of Ranjan. So after what happened when he is in his teens what is his opinion on the situation in Sri Lanka? Did his family just ignore all that?

Saturday, 20 October 2018

ARC review of "A marriage in four seasons" situated in hotelrooms in Istanbul, Tunisia, New York and Granada and dealing with the aftermath of the loss of a child

After the stillbirth of their son  Americans Joy and Richard are devastated and unable to cope with it.

The story is told over four periods in their lives and when they are in hotelrooms: Hotelrooms in Grenada, New York, Istanbul and in Tunisia. The story is laced with historic and geographical facts. Somewhere in the book life is compared to being in a hotelroom. You are only there for a short while and best make the best of what you get.

I found the book interesting in how it describes how people react different to experiencing huge personal grief. How speaking very briskly about things can give someone the feeling the other does not care, how someone can feel the need for someone to just love him, how the world can be a different place afterwards. It definitely is a book with depth. And I can recommend it for people who are in a situation like this to use as a tool to discuss things. Also a good one for a book club.

I did have trouble with the reasoning by Belinda to take a certain step (that I will not mention due to spoilers danger). It sounded unbelievable to me that someone would plan to do something like that.

I liked the setting in the different countries. I have spend a summer in Istanbul and two holidays in Tunisia so it felt like a feast of rediscovery as we say here in Holland. I saw another reviewer say the historic references were too elaborate. I do not agree. History is hardly mentioned and the colour locale is a nice background for the story.

However in the Turkish part I did encounter some errors. The Bosporus is not a river: it is a seastrait: salt water and ocean liners going from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and vice versa and all. It is also mentioned that Roxelana the favourite wife of sultan Suleyman killed her oldest child so Selim could be sultan. Prince Mustafa was killed by orders of his father and it remains unclear if his wife had a role in that but most importantly it is not her son but the son of the first kadin of Suleyman from the days before he fell in love with Roxelana. It is said that her third son killed himself out of grief when his half brother was strangled. It is true a son of Roxelana was killed: Beyazit but that was after her death and also by orders of the sultan.

I received a free copy to write an honest review. The book will be out on the 20th of November 201.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Review of "The Ghost of Hearts-Hope: A Ghostly Story of Love and Loss"

Once in awhile you read a book that leaves a lasting impression. That is what this book does. At first it seems like a Victorian romance novel but then it turns into a mystery novel that also deals a lot with loss and coming of age.

Anna is an orphan who lost her parents when she was 10 in an accident. She now lives with her aunt, uncle and cousin in quite well to do London circles: her aunt hosts soirées where aristocracy and artist mingle. Anna has a bit of money of her own  but is no heiress and envisions herself as a governess or ladies companion (she has reddish hair and freckles what was not that popular then and no dowry). Her slightly younger beautiful cousin has a lot of admirers and is dreaming about marriage. One evening that cousin takes Anna to a clairvoyant what scares the hell out of her.

But then a rich widower, Lord Hope (his grandfather bought the title otherwise he would have been to far above Anne socially although his mother is like the dowager duchess in Downton Abbey), asks for her hand in marriage and he takes her to his neo-gothic castle in Cornwall.  I have never been in Cornwall but the landscape is described as rugged as I remember the place I stayed on Kintire in Scotland, You can picture the castle overlooking the ever changing scene of the sea.

Lord Hope - Reece - is a tall chestnut haired calm man with intriguing grey eyes. But in the book he stays a bit like a shadow. A huge man Anne likes to cuddle up with in bed. Who embodies safety for her. Who is very good in sex. But is hardly ever home so Anna who is still a very young woman has to manage all by herself: running the huge household with all the servants, trying win over her 10 years old stepdaughter, keeping an eye on a cousin who is also tutored in the castle and last but not least deal with Simeon the brother of Reece who is his opposite in colouring but also in character.

Then weird things start to happen and Anne who has had the Sight all her life starts wondering if her predecessor Natasha is really dead or still alive. Are the servants correct that the castle us haunted or is it foul play by a human evil? Or is Anne loosing her mind over a great loss? Is the writer going to give us a ghoststory and will the book be fantasy or will it be a murder mystery?

I had several theories and when we find out what is going on it was one of those. And it does not come out of thin air. You can deduct it. Although I had to read the end again to see it all.

The writer does a very good job. Maybe it is what I would have liked myself: a castle with a seaview, a handsome hunk for a husband and dogs and children but somehow the writer made me identify with Anna what made the story a real page turner. She is also very good in worldbuilding: you can see the landscape and all the different persons around and in the castle: Simeon her brother in law and her stepdaughter are really well fleshed out. The devastation of a personal loss is also well described.

I was a really good read! I can certainly recommend it and I hope to read more of her.

Review of "Obesessions of a djinni"

A ghost in the lamp? No it is not an Aladdin story. A djinni is imprisoned in an urn by an evil sorcerer and he hopes to regain his freedom by finding the reincarnation of his old love. But when he finds her the woman is already married so he tries to move her archaeologist husband out of the way.

A beautiful cover, a promising beginning but it was not the book for me. The two male characters: the husband and the djninni irritated me to bits. They are not the type of men a woman will dream of. Somehow I did not "feel" the love of Yassir for his long lost love. No sparks at all. Also sometimes a bit unclear what happens. Sex is so not described that at certain points I wondered if that just happened or not.

At 70% I more or less had enough. The story droned on. So I skipped till 90% to find out the story was not ending but just a part 1. I hate that!

Not a badly written book but just not the book for me. Too fantastic? Or just characters I could not identify with?

I got this book as an ARC to write a review about it.

Review of "The Sheikh’s American Fiancée"

This is the kind of book I like to read when I am tired and I do not have all day. It is a fast read with a happy ending. This kind of romances are often completely unrealistic and this is one of them. I mean imagine an Arabic country with champagne and gala like in a Sisi  movie? But if you forget about that the story is not that unlogical. The female heroine travels to a far away country when she finds out her sister is adopted and originally hails from that country hoping a family member will be alive to be a kidney transplant for her niece. In the meantime in that country the king has hinted he has a girlfriend. While making up the story he describes that girlfriend as American. When the heroine and the king meet he offers his help finding the grandmother of her niece but asks her to pretend she is that American woman for two weeks.. While most of this kind of stories are overdoing the bedscenes this one has a story and hardly any sex.
So if you like some light reading and a happy ending this is one for you.

I think these kind of romances could improve with a little bit of real world cultural input. Drinking champagne, walking around in a tanktop being culturally sensitive because she is not in shorts, covering shoulders (but not head)?

I was given a Free ARC by Netgalley and this is an honest review

3 stars out of 5

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

#Free book (today) #thriller "Storm Sail - A Connie Barrera Thriller"

I just downloaded it myself so there is no personal review yet.

What's the worst that can happen when a sailing yacht sets out to cross 1,600 miles of open ocean?
Connie Barrera and her fiancé, Paul Russo, were in high spirits when they left Annapolis. All their friends would be in Martinique to celebrate their arrival. Their marriage there would be a fitting end for Diamantista II's first offshore passage.
Their voyage takes a dangerous turn when Hurricane Ian springs to life in their path. Being caught in an unpredicted hurricane tests their seamanship, but there are worse things to come.
In mid-ocean with no way to communicate their plight, they're on their own when the real trouble begins.
What could be worse than a storm at sea? Read Storm Sail, the fourth Connie Barrera Thriller, and find out.