Monday, 9 December 2019

Review of "The Duke's bride" by Joanne Wadsworth - now FREE on Amazon

This novel has the usual ingredients for a regency romance: a lady from the ton is in love with a duke, a lot of teadrinking ladies in a drawing room, a ball, riding in the park.

Lady Ellie has been smitten with her brother's friend her whole life but after a tragedy he seems determined to live as a recluse and never to marry. What to do?

If you like period drama's and regency romances this is the book for you. It is a situation that is not unfamiliar. Someone who definitely likes you but who is not taking a step towards a relationship. Do not expect a very layered story. I also stumbled upon some things that I thought to be unlikely in the timeperiod. Like when riding in a side saddle you cannot squeeze your legs around a horse and I think after an afternoon of horseriding people would change out of their riding clothes before dinner as to not stink of horses and stables. And being out for seven seasons? I think one was expected to marry in one or two and otherwise doomed to live as a spinster.

For the people who insist on a very "clean" book, this is no series of romping story but the people are young and do think about sex and hands stray. You can survive that I think. At the end a marriage is consummated. If that is not your cup of tea you can just skip the HEA after the wedding.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Review of "The Book Ghost" by Lorna Gray - Britain just after WW2. A young widow has to find roots again

There are many novels written that are set during WWII but this one is in the period just after the war ended: 1946 and that is a first one for me. Let me start by saying I am very interested in history.

A lot is still rationed and men slowly get demobilised and send home. Lucy who worked during the war in Bristol during the bombings loses her job to the returning men and goes home to her elderly aunt and uncle who raised her. But there she discovers the couple has taken in a lodger who is also working as an editor for her uncles publishing company. Lucy, widowed and childless, can only get a secretarial menial job and sleep in the room above the office. Her gloomy daily life is depressing and she is only 26! I thought her family was heartless but we find out why they did what they did.

We slowly discover how other people are still trying to cope with the war. The man who spent five years in a prisoner of war camp, the man who had quite a nice posting and is jealous of the people who are seen as heroes, the old people who cannot cope without their children.

And mrs. P who realises she is just young Lucy and who still attracts men. And that she still lives.

In the story is a mystery. A young girl who grew up in a mansion and who seems to have disappeared 50 years ago and who is mentioned by one of the authors. Lucy feels the urge to find out what happened. And that is definitely inspired by her own childhood..

The readers who hoped it is a romance novel. Sorry. It is more a period drama. And there is a light touch of spirit talk in it. What I think could have easily ditched.

I liked the view into the era. I also liked the psychological aspects. Not a big fan of the ghosts.

Publishing date December 14th 2019

4 stars out of 5

Thursday, 14 November 2019

The end of the world as we know it - After it Happened Boxset by Devon C. Ford

One morning a former soldier who turned policeman wakes up to see that 99% of mankind has succumbed to a kind of pneumonia. I somehow pictured this Dan as in his fifties but later on you find out he is halfway into his thirties. In the next hours he meets Neil someone who is very technical handy and also former army but a bit older. Neil his wife an children dies. Dan's did too but they live apart. They also stumble upon a 12 year old girl Leah.

The 6 books series is all about the remnants of humankind trying to survive this disaster. A disaster that is caused by something that sounds realistic to me. The author does a great job in worldbuilding. We see thugs but also nature loving vegan societies. Dan decides that it is unwise to hand over guns to untrained strangers and trains a few rangers and they set up in a former prisonmansion and start growing food. But danger is always around the corner.

I was thinking the writer made a few mistakes like a car does not wither away in a year and such and a headstone will stand for 40 years. Or that a military man would not do something. But that I found out was a plotpoint. Nevertheless there are a few decisions that sound stupid.

All in all I really liked the 6 novels. Maybe not the most emotional depth but I like the places they go as I have been there too. And the story is very thrilling. And it also makes you think. Like how toxic a tunnel gets when the vents are not working anymore.

There is also a sequel of two other novels but they are more warstories in my opinion.

No zombies, no sex.

Review "The Deceptive Lady Darby" by Adele Clee - feel good women lit with a bit of mystery

A young woman gets lost running away from her father and arriving at a neighbouring estate is mistaken for the new maid. In hiding for her father she discovers that there are mysteries surrounding the place but gets attached to the lord of the manor and his children.

A nice light HEA story that is well written and with heroes you easily bond with.

Typical women's lit you would think until you see the number of guys reading them.....

Review of "A bend in time" by Anne C. Maxwell - quite promissing but needs a bit of work in my opinion

This is one of those books that I find hard to rate. I have the feeling that it can be a lot better as the material is there but sometimes things seem to stutter. I also wonder what the author was aiming at by this structure as if you are reading three separate books. But maybe that is something that will be explained in the later instalments in the series.

Elena was raised in Saudi Arabia as a child of diplomats. Her parents were good friends with a couple. The woman a Saudi national and her husband a Scotsman who converted to Islam and  married her and moved to Saudi. This couple have a son named Omar who is a few years older than Elena and her best childhood friend.

Now we fast forward a few decades and Elena works as a counterterrorism specialist for MI6 in London. As the bank of her childhood  friend comes under suspicion as a place that is used by terrorists to launder money she is send as a spy to see if that is true and how deep the CEO, Omar, is involved. It is no surprise that the two friends immediately strike a cord again even when there are some grown ups problems as him being an over controlling man and now far above her in the picking order.. Elena is afraid she will stumble upon information that gets him in trouble. This part is very realistic written.

Then all of a sudden both Elena and Omar seem to be travelling in time to two different eras.

The result is us reading 3 different novels: a billionaire romance / spy thriller, a tale inspired by The Three Musketeers and a regency romance that reminds me of Jane Eyre.

Why? I have no clue. Maybe that Omar realises that love can also be there when you are the powerless one in a relationship? But what is the use of Elena being in that other era? To realise that men you are not in love with can still be friends? And it kind of interrupts the story arc.

I understand that the author is like me someone who is near native English but not a native. Maybe that explains some of the sometimes special way to phase things. I also found the sex-scenes in the beginning of the novel odd as it feels like suddenly your kindle starts to whirl pink stars and other psychedelic things because from the moment they start having sex the story goes into metaphorical descriptions. Later on that alters.

There is also an all-seeing commenting voice. UGH

Maybe because I got an ARC version but the editing is seriously wrong. Some parts repeat each other. Best check that quickly dear publisher.

So my verdict: I did like the story but maybe would have preferred it as a straightforward novel or three.

Friday, 1 November 2019

FREE: An adrenaline-fueled adventure set in the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, Luxembourg, and Turkey about stolen art, the mafia, and a father’s vengeance.

#FREE #FREEFORADAY Stolen art, the mafia, and a father’s vengeance... A museum researcher’s new job leads her on a bizarre journey into shady art world doings and criminal intent in this fast-paced, amateur sleuth thriller set in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Croatia, and Turkey. 
When researcher Zelda Richardson begins working at a local museum, she doesn’t expect to get entangled with an art theft, knocked unconscious by a forger, threatened by the mob, or stalked by drug dealers.

To make matters worse, a Croatian gangster is convinced Zelda knows where a cache of recently pilfered paintings is. She must track down an international gang of art thieves and recover the stolen artwork in order to save those she loves most.

The trouble is, Zelda doesn’t know where to look. Teaming up with art detective Vincent de Graaf may be her only hope at salvation.

The trail of clues leads Zelda and Vincent on a pulse-pounding race across Europe to a dramatic showdown in Turkey that may cost them their lives.

Marked for Revenge was awarded a Chill with a Book Readers' Award in June 2019. It was also chosen as Chill with a Book's June Cover of the Month. Marked for Revenge was a Women Writers, Women’s Books Recommended Reads in June 2019 and is one of Amy's Bookshelf Reviews Top 10 Books of 2019.

Marked for Revenge is the third book in the Zelda Richardson Mystery Series. The novels in this series can be read in any order.

New Dutch book about recent history: Nieuw boek van Geert Mak uit

 "Op dit moment is voor veel buitenstaanders de vluchtelingenstatus de enige manier om Europa binnen te komen. En dan moet je eerst nog bijna verdrinken. Het heeft niets met humaniteit of tolerantie te maken, het is gewoon een bende. Daarom moet er een legale manier worden bedacht om hierheen te kunnen emigreren, zoals in Canada. Dan voorkom je dat mensen die 10.000 euro voor hun emigratie betalen halverwege ergens blijven hangen en nooit meer terug durven. In het Canadese systeem wordt gekeken of je iets voor dat land kan betekenen en of je een minimum aan vaardigheden hebt – zoals de taal – om daar te kunnen slagen. Daar heerst de filosofie: we spannen ons er wederzijds voor in om er iets van te maken.” zegt historicus Gerard Mak in zijn nieuwe boek.   Zie voor meer het NRC:

 Nou kennen wij in Nederland ook de Kennismigrantenregeling. En zouden de mensen die buiten de mogelijkheden vallen het niet alsnog proberen omdat je bij ons over land kunt komen?

 *******  In "Grote verwachtingen' vertelt en duidt Geert Mak de recente geschiedenis zoals alleen hij dat kan. Het is het vervolg op het immens succesvolle "In Europa' dat vijftien jaar geleden verscheen. Enkele jaren later volgde de 35-delige tv-serie met de schrijver in de hoofdrol. In Europa ging over de twintigste eeuw en hoe die in veel opzichten gruwelijke periode getekend door twee wereldoorlogen, ons heeft gevormd. "Grote verwachtingen' gaat over de eerste twee decennia van de eenentwintigste eeuw. Het neemt de draad op waar "In Europa' eindigde, in 1999. Mak schetst de sfeer en stemming tijdens de eeuwwisseling, het optimisme dat toen hoogtij vierde maar dat gaandeweg verdween, de gevoelens rond de invoering van de euro, de gevolgen van de aanslag op de Twin Towers, de toestand in Oost-Europa en Rusland, de bankencrisis, de Verenigde Staten, Noord- versus Zuid-Europa, en de vluchtelingen.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Review of "Angles or Angles" by David Stokes

In what now is Northumbria in the north of England in 6th century Britain there were two kingdoms: Deira ruled by old king Aele and Bernicia ruled by the young king Æthelfrith. The Romans have left the island two centuries ago and in Deira people do not even remember them and think that the big stone buildings in York are build by giants. Building houses in stone and writing, it is all forgotten. Those areas are populated by immigrants from north Germany called the Angles.

In the West and the North the old British kingdoms and the Picts still prevail with some help from their Gaul cousins in Ireland.  Bernicia an Deira are rivals but with the old British kingdoms in Scotland and Wales as enemies who want to overthrow them the two kingdoms must unite. Acha, daughter of one king is chosen to act as ‘peace-weaver’ by marrying the rival leader. But before she can do so Æthelfrith marries a princess from the North who is part Pictish.

I really liked the book. The story is well written and seen from either Acha's, Æthelfrith's or brother Edwin's point of view and we learn a lot of daily life in those days. It is obviously a very well researched novel and at the end the writer takes time to explain what is historically correct to the letter and what parts were invented.

There is one mistake though. Frisia were not island off the coast of Holland. Frisia was and in some extend still is the northern parts of The Netherlands and Germany. Holland was the enemy!

Review of "King of Kings" by Wilbur Smith - the forming of Ethiopia and the Italian colony Eritrea just after the Mahdi rebellion in Sudan

Wilbur Smith is Africa and explorers to me. I have read many of his books when I was young. So was happy to discover he is still alive and writing new ones.

This one is situated in Cairo and the hills of Ethiopia on the border with what now is Eritrea I think. As I am teaching Dutch to ladies from Eritrea I had an extra investment in getting to know a bit more of the history of their country (and to tell them I read the book).

It is like all mr Smith's books an entertaining read. Some of the characters were a bit bland. I mostly liked Penrod the VC recipient who has to redeem himself and find a more caring part of his personality.

I wished I could have read part 1 first though as that would have made the story more a complete tale. Now the sister Rebecca was a bit of an enigma to me.

Review of "House on endless waters" by Emona Elon - Amsterdam Jews during the war

In this novel Israeli author Yoel Blum revisits the town of his birth Amsterdam. When a foreign author writes about your own country that can be tricky as every mistake in research will reveal itself. But this novel is at first a "feast of recognition" as we say in Dutch: the strict border patrol (I am an immigration lawyer and many client complain exactly like Yoel does), the street musicians playing under the arch of the Rijksmuseum, the tall houses divided in apartments along the canals, the hotels with all the tourist trinkets and all the bits of facts and history about Amsterdam and The Netherlands. But the story takes a turn to the serious side soon after.

While visiting the Museum of Jewish History Yoel discovers a video showing his parents with his sister and a till then it seems unknown brother. Back in Israel he calls his sister (both his parents are dead) and asks her about that boy. She tells him the story but we are not told what the story is.

Yoel decides to return to Amsterdam to fill in the blanks. We see him wander the city and write the story of his mother using elements of what he sees or does himself that day. Like when he is drawn to a painting in the Rijksmuseum he wonders why and incorperates that painting by hanging it in the house of his mother's upstairs neighbours.

In the meantime we get to know his mother better by reading the story he tells about her. She was married to a doctor from the Jewish hospital in Amsterdam and leading a happy life with him and their two small children and his best friend and his wife and child who were their upstairs neighbours thinking the war will soon end. But we see dark clouds packing on the horizon and bit by bit the life of the Jewish people in Amsterdam gets more and more dangerous. As a Dutch person I am quite familiar with that history but still it is unnerving to feel the noose tightening.

I was glued to my kindle wanting to know what did happen with little Leo. I had quite a suspicion but still.

But when you then have finished the book it still resonates. So I called my dad who is as old as Yoel Blum and also was a child during the war and studied psychology to become a teacher. The author explains in the book that many of the children that were hidden away from the Germans suffered from attachment problems after the war. When I was that age my mum got severely ill and I was fostered out to different aunties and even I notice how that effected me. Can you imagine an even worse situation during the war? The author in my opinion also describes the effect this all has on Yoel's mother. While she was a happy go lucky woman with friends in Holland later on in Israel she does not want friends. First I thought that was to keep her secret but I realised it was the aftershock of the way she was betrayed.

At the end of the story Tal, Yoel's grandson, says that Yoel's mum acted out of revenge. I think that is not true. I think she kept the secret out of love as it is obvious how much she loved him. Hints to that are all the Madonna sculptures in the museum.

Another layer in the book is how it shows us the live of a writer and how personal adventures end up in novels. How a novel is created. How a famous writer is approached by total strangers. I think that part must be based on the author's own life.

I think it was quite courageous to pick the topic of collaboration by the own Jewish community with the Nazies. I also liked that the Dutch non-Jewish community is shown realistic: some friends from school who become a policeman driving Jews from a park, others dying to save their Jewish fellow Dutch. No black and white cliches.

There is just one point of criticism and that is a case of "lost in translation" from Dutch to Ivriet to English. The word that was used for hiding for the Germans was "onderduiken ( a verb)" and it is translated as "dive (a noon)". Diving IN for instance water is duiken IN in Dutch. But when you want to hide under the blankets, want to pick something from under your desk you use in Dutch duiken ONDER (diving under). That is translated as hiding in or under and not as "Go diving" or "do a dive" I think. As far as I know I have never heard in Dutch the term Duik for the verb Onderduiken. But I am from years after the war.

It does not happen that often but in this case the Dutch translating is already published while we are reviewing the English one.

I am not sure what the title stands for. In the book a synagoge is described as built over water; Yoel's mother uses the proverb "Water under the bridge" often and I think in the Bible it is said that God's spirit was over the waters.

FREE BOOK: Sounds interesting and set in an alternate modern Russia surrounded by the still-powerful Ottoman Empire and the Chinese Empire of the Sun,

In an alternate modern Russia surrounded by the still-powerful Ottoman Empire and the Chinese Empire of the Sun, a dead girl in a pink sweater draws disillusioned Detektiv Alexander Kazakov into an investigation that even the girl’s mother wants him to abandon.

Driven by the truth and a slowly rising body count, Kazakov must traverse a landscape of snow and brothels, and a civilization frozen by history to catch a killer no one suspects.

After Yekaterina is the first in the Yekaterina Alternate History series set in the fictional Central Asian Country of Fergana.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Review of "Angel" by Susan Kinsey - mommy joins the mob

A recently divorce mother of end thirties saves a small girl from drowning. Her father turns out to "be connected". He tells her he will always help her because of that. She ends up working for him.

The story is like a series about the world of criminals although the criminal activities are vague sometimes.
You are never told what is really going on in their heads.

I had expected more of a romance novel.
Reviewed for Netgalley: 3 stars out of 5

Monday, 19 August 2019

Review of "In darkest days may blossom" by Leila Snow - injustice for the poor in 18th century London

In late 18th century England there was not much justice when you were a poor woman and that brings the author to light very well. It is a sad situation. She also shows the class differences and the struggle people have to live through. Being a Scotsman makes you frowned upon, being rich but heaven forbids had merchant parents keeps you out of the top circles, being poor have you committed to a workhouse and when employers are cruel there is no one to turn to.

The knight in shining armour is a the son of the magistrate who sees his father's constables about to beat a girl to death and steps in to save her.

There was two things I had doubts over: in those days and age you would not contemplate marrying someone so far below your social station. Maybe the idea that he really loved her and she him and the possibility to marry could have come up at the end.

The other thing is that I had the feeling the book ended a bit too soon. I think the writer wants to continue from the viewpoint of the other protagonists but I always think it is better to write a tome including the whole story. Hence the 1 star deduction.

Do not think you buy a sweet romance book this is more Dickens doom and gloom. But it had me spellbound (lawyer so I was interested in the whole misconduct of justice).

PS the vows are silly! No one would mention orgasms in that day and ages let alone in church!!!!

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Saturday, 17 August 2019

Review of "In the Far Pashmina Mountains" - Raj India and the British Afghan war set in a historical novel

A highborn lady who is on the run to meet her lover leaves her baby behind. The child is raised by the poor family of the lighthousekeeper. She saves people when their ship has hit a nearby rock and one of the survivors will play an important part in her life. When she is a grown woman she joins her husband in India and ends up in the middle of the First Anglo-Afghan war. It was the first time in history the British conquered Kabul but it ended in a total disaster,

The lighthousekeeper's daughter part I did recognise as the real life story it was indeed inspired by but the Afghan disaster was new to me. It just made me realise that in our lifetime we made the same mistakes there.

I read that the author has been to India herself and that her ancestors were posted there. It is clear she did a lot of research in the subject. 

The book makes a very interesting read because although it is a historical novel it still keeps pretty close to the historical facts and you really hope the best for the heroine.

This was the real lighthousekeeper's daughter who saved the people who were shipwrecked:

More about the Anglo Afghan war here:

William Brydon CB (10 October 1811 – 20 March 1873) was an assistant surgeon in the British East India Company Army during the First Anglo-Afghan War, famous for reportedly being the only member of an army of 4,500 men, plus 12,000 accompanying civilians, to reach safety in Jalalabad at the end of the long retreat from Kabul.

Review of "Tears of the Dragon" by Jean Moran - Hongkong WW2 - Japanese internment

Hongkong WWII: A female young doctor works at the army hospital in Hong Kong. The war makes travel oversees dangerous and in the Chinese hinterland the Japs are fighting the Chinese but so far Hongkong is a peaceful place.

One evening Rowena and nurse Alice take the ferry to Chinese Kowloon to have a drink at a bar they heard rumours of. In the bar they meet the owner, an Irishman who is stationed as a sergeant major in Hongkong and owns the bar together with his best friend and commanding officer major Harry. Connor is a gregarious man who plays the fiddle and sings but refuses to serve drinks to unaccompanied women.

A guest invites them to share a drink with him. He is Kim Pheloung, a rich businessman with Chinese and maybe other genes. Rowena thinks he is the most beautiful man she had ever seen.

In the days that follow she goes out with both of the men. Connor she likes a lot but Kim she is very attracted to.

Then disaster strikes and the Japanese attack Hong Kong and the world changes in a hell full of horror.

I really liked the novel. It can be very bloody and cruel without going into extreme detail. We witness the horrors of war and internment by the Japanese and also the time shortly after the war when victims try to pick up their lives again.

Although not "romantic" I did admire the way the writer dealt with a "fiftyshadesofgrey"-element. Because in real life most people will hate to be forced unlike all those romance novel girls. Because in books that is never depicted so grimly I think it added to the value of the story even if you keep hoping someone is the romantic hero.

What I think is a glitch is the attitude of her brother towards people of mix race because his own grandmother was Indian.

I would advice the publishers to change their blurb on Amazon as it is full of spoilers! I had not read that and that makes the shock factor of the story more intense.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Review of " The Kazak Contract by PAUL PURNELL " - fast action packed story in an exotic location

James Ballantyne, former army officer and now a diplomat and a covert spy, travels to Kazakhstan on a diplomatic assignment. He tells his local aide Ocksana Petrova that the new part of the capital feels like Brasilia the designer capital of Brazil. However officials wanting a bribe is still as old as time. His work almost finished he has a chat with an American in his hotel . This however changes things and James has to flee  the country.

The novel reads like watching a good action movie. The exotic setting of Kazakhstan and neighbouring countries is interesting.I really liked reading it

 It is not a very long novel. And that brings me to the only negative remark: the story ends abruptly and will continue in another novel. I definitely do not like cliffhangers and would recommend to combine those books into one John le Carre tome size one.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Free book: set in Amsterdam

Rituals of the DeadBy Jennifer S. Alderson

In Amsterdam, a 60-year-old mystery is revived when museum researcher Zelda uncovers the story of an anthropologist who vanished in New Guinea. And a mysterious killer will stop at nothing to keep her from the truth…    A museum researcher must solve a decades-old murder before she becomes the killer’s next victim in this riveting dual timeline thriller set in Papua and the Netherlands.

Agats, Dutch New Guinea (Papua), 1961: While collecting Asmat artifacts for a New York museum, American anthropologist Nick Mayfield stumbles upon a smuggling ring organized by high-ranking members of the Dutch colonial government and the Catholic Church. Before he can alert the authorities, he vanishes in a mangrove swamp, never to be seen again.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2018: While preparing for an exhibition of Asmat artifacts in a Dutch ethnographic museum, researcher Zelda Richardson finds Nick Mayfield’s journal in a long-forgotten crate. Before Zelda can finish reading the journal, her housemate is brutally murdered and ‘Give back what is not yours’ is scrawled on their living room wall.

Someone wants ancient history to stay that way—and believes murder is the surest way to keep the past buried.

Can she solve a sixty-year-old mystery before decades of deceit, greed, and retribution cost Zelda her life?

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Indian Raj : Review of Beneath an Indian Sky: A heartbreaking historical novel of family secrets, betrayal and love by Renita D'Silva

Three young children are friends in 1930ties India: a poor Muslim boy, a rich Hindu girl and an English one. The Indian girl yearns for knowledge and freedom and the English one is given that but too shy to grasp it.

When they grow up one of them will get a great opportunity and grasps it while the other does a leap of faith and looses all. 

While one is clinging to all she has and lives in fear, the other mourns but uses her life as a testament  of love.

We follow both women's life story. A story that is very emotional and sad oozes a great loss. I was in tears.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Review of "Paramedic to the Prince: An American Paramedic's Account of Life Inside the Mysterious World of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia"

The American EMS who worked in Saudi for about 10 years tells his memoirs. The story might jump from one thing to the other but it gives us a glimpse of that hidden world.

Not the best writing style but an interesting subject. And it makes the culture class evident. How he and his friends would dive in a wetsuit not caring how that looked and on the other hand men then masturbating. How the prince - later king - he works for is nice to his employees and how other people just crap in an operating room expecting others to clean it. Bear in mind it describes the situation of 15 years ago and the aftershocks of 9/11.


Indian Raj Romance novels: Review of "A Jasmin Wife" by Jane Coverdale

A Jasmine Wife was the name for a British young woman in her full bloom who would follow her husband to India and then in a short time whiter away.

But Sara Archer is not new to India when she comes to join her husband there at the beginning of the 20th century. She was born in India but lost at a young age both parents and was raised in a rather loveless household of a paternal aunt and uncle. When a bachelor seems to be interested in her and who moreover is stationed in India she falls head of heels for him. But is it him or India she is in love with? In his case it seems he sees marriage more as advantages to his career.

Upon arrival in India she barges into half French - half Indian Ravi Sabran who keeps shocking the circles of polite British society in Madras by living in sin with the wife of an Indian Maharaja who ran from her husband and being filthy rich and a bit of a bandit and who keeps ignoring the fact that the British matrons cannot overlook his Indian ancestry.

The British in Madras are more old fashioned and stuck in the Victorian times as what she experienced in England and are showing not the best characters. For instance when the local Maharadja visits they all try to get jewels off him by praising them.

In India Sara starts looking for her own past and information about her own parents and by doing this meets Ravi again.

We see a ugly naive countrygirl slowly develop in a  in dependant beautiful woman.

The novel digs into the prejudice of those days. It has also a hint of mr Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh from "Pride and Prejudice" due to the fact that Charles cannot stop praising the local leading lady in the British circle. That element is often very funny.

It is a light romance novel that guarantees a day of pleasant reading. And right from the start you expect who will end up with whom but that is always the case with this kind of novels.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Review of "Blood On The Stone" by Jake Lynch - Oxford during Charles II comes to life during a murder investigation

March 1681. Oxford is hosting the English Parliament and King Charles the Second with his whole court. The country is in an uproar over the supposed Papist Plot and the king seems too lenient towards his Catholic brother according to some. Do keep in mind that a few generations ago Bloody Mary burned the protestants.

In this powder keg that is about to explode a Member of Parliament is found stabbed to death and Luke Standys, Chief Officer of the Oxford Bailiffs and brother of one of the king's officers has to solve the case and diffuse the situation.

This is not an easy novel. It is full with British English period words. So if you are an American who cannot survive anything away from your own American English do not complain just skip. For all the people up for a challenge: I liked having to look things up with the online dictionary or Wikipedia. Yes English is not my mother language but nevertheless I am near native. The novel also paints an extensive background of the culture, the landmarks and the political situation in those days in Oxford. Not surprisingly because the novel is written by an academic from Oxford.

The novel made me feel like I timetravelled because it paints the situation so vividly. The writer also described Luke in detail. You really get to know him.

But all of this make it a novel that reads slowly. So if you were looking for just an easy who-done-it that you can finish in a few hours look elsewhere. If you are really interested in history you will like the novel.

A 5 stars out of 5 and the novel is very cheap on Amazon

March 1681. Oxford is hosting the English Parliament under the ‘merry monarch’, King Charles II. As politicians and their hangers-on converge on the divided city, an MP is found murdered, triggering tensions that threaten mayhem on the streets.
Luke Sandys, Chief Officer of the Oxford Bailiffs, must solve the crime and thwart the plot. On his side is the respect for evidence and logic he absorbed in his student days, as a follower of the new science. On the other, a group of political conspirators are stirring up sectarian hatreds in their scheme to overthrow the Crown.
Struggling to protect all he holds dear, Luke leans heavily on his cavalry officer brother, his friends, and his faithful deputy, Robshaw. But he has a secret, which may be clouding his judgement. At the moment of truth, will he choose love or duty?

Preview / Review of "The Woman in the Veil" by Laura Joh Rowland - a detective novel set in Victorian era London

London, June 1890. Just after the death of Prince Albert and the infamous Ripper case. Sarah Bain, a photographer, and her friends homosexual Lord Hugh Staunton and former street urchin Mick O'Reilly are crime scene reporters for the Daily World newspaper who do a bit of sleuthing on the side.

One night they are called to the bank of the Thames where the body of a naked woman is found by a whore and her punter. On close examination however Sarah discovers that the woman is still alive and she is rushed to hospital. But with a disfigured face and amnesia the next question is her identity and who has left her for dead. Sarah's fiancé Detective Sergeant Barrett is given the case to solve.

But are the people claiming to know her speaking the truth? Is Sleeping Beauty really unaware of who she is?

On the background there is also the mystery in Sarah's own life.

The central theme of the novel is the (lack of) love of parents and the yearning of children for love.

The story is entertaining and has a good plot. The characters however are not that much fleshed out. It keeps pace and you can finish it in a day or two.

4 stars out of 5. This is an ARC review

Pub Date

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Review of "In the Shadow of the Storm" by Anna Belfrage - a romantic adventure of two people trying to survive a revolt in medieval England

England around 1321: King Edward the Second is a weak king who is heavily influenced by male favourites. The current favourite is Hugh Despenser the Younger and the barons of the realm despise the man.

In those days England had a feudal system with the king as the big boss and under him and sworn loyal to him the higher nobility. Under those lords and loyal to them there were knights who would own a few manors that were like large farms and who served like officers in the army of the lords. In case of war these knights would bring their men-at-arms to act as soldiers. This whole system was tied together by sworn allegiances of the lower ranked to the one a step higher on the ladder.

Kit and her mother lived on such a manor in a very rural area. Just after the death of her mother she is snatched from home and forced to marry a knight who was chosen by his lord to marry his mistress. That mistress turns out to be Kit's legitimate half-sister (she finds out a knight is her true father) and her double ganger who has run away with a lover. The wife of her father wants to keep that a secret and threatens Kit to kill her and her tenants if she does not do as she is told end pretends to be her half-sister.

So far the book reads like a romance novel. But then it turns into an action adventure.

Luckily for Kit the man she is forced to marry is a very nice person and also good to look at. But their happiness is threatened by what now is called the Despenser War. Her husband's lord and the one who saved him as a young boy from harm plans to lead a rebellion against the king and although Kit's husband thinks that is wrong he is pledged to follow his lord.

When I was a few pages in I realised I had read the book a few years ago but remembered it to be a very good story so read it again. As far as I can see it is also historically correct and it sheds a light on a part of English history I was not familiar with.. I can certainly recommend it.

5 stars out of 5

Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Lord Roger for his life and all his worldly goods, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not quite the woman Lord Roger thinks she is. So when Lord Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be.

England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down...

Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and Lord Roger, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods.

Kit has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name.

Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Lord Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can.

In the Shadow of the Storm is the first in Anna Belfrage’s new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Review of "Six Women" by Victoria Cross

This is a book written in 1906 but the language is still very modern. However one can see how much is changed in a century by how women are regarded and treated. In the days the novel was published the content would have been regarded as highly scandalous. Not because of erotic behaviour described - it is not -  but it is hinted at and in those days your knickers were your "unmentionables" to paint a picture . But mostly because all six women are in a love affair with a man of a different race or religion.

Annie Sophie Cory (1 October 1868 – 2 August 1952) was a British author of popular, racy, exotic New Woman novels under the pseudonyms Victoria Cross(e), Vivian Cory and V.C. Griffin.
Cory's stories often detail behaviours and desires unusual in the Victorian period such as female cross-dressing, unbridled and unashamed sexual desire, longing for and fear of interracial sexual relationships, and questioning of traditional heterosexual gender roles for men and women. (Source Wikipedia)

When you read this article she seemed to have been a weird person especially for those days and age. 

This book is a collection of short stories. Some are quite good - the first and the last - the rest is in my opinion a lot less. As the book is free you might just want to try it out of curiosity and because the first story is interesting. In that story an Englishman is told during his wedding night by his new wife that she wedded him for the position and that she does not want any sexual relationship. He accepts a job in India and they do not see each other in the next 20 years. But when he falls in love with an Indian dancing girl his wife goes on the warpath.

Preview of "Three remain" by R.A. Andrade

This science fiction novel had me on the tip of my toes or maybe rather on the edge of my seat and had me going to bed too late. It is a very entertaining read and suspense keeps very high throughout the whole story.

One morning when a lawyer goes to work he finds a woman who was in a carcrash. When they go into town they notice that there is no one around and phones, internet and electricity are not working. The only person they meet is a young girl and there is a huge fog bank blocking the road. Then things get dangerous.

To tell more would spoil your fun but if you like Steven King's novels this is one for you.

An additional plus of this story is that there is a lot of good humour in it although there were situations the teenager grated on my nerves.

This was a preview ARC from Netgalley. The novel will be published 23rd of September 2019.

Comparing two sheikh romances: the friendship turns into love-type and the hanky panky-type

With hotty Sheikh Hamdan from Dubai now married his millions of female instagram followers have to look elsewhere to dream.

And that can be done with the new book by Leslie North that I was asked to review for Netgalley.

The Sheikh's Surprise Heir

I have seen other planecrashes with sheikhs on Amazon but this kind of novellas guarantee a relaxed read on an afternoon waiting for a plane, on the beach or with a cold in bed.

In this story the female heroine is working as a stewardess with a private plane company. One day the client is a Middle Eastern prince who definitely was born with too many silver spoons in his mouth. The guy is annoying in extremis. but is also the only one aboard who bothers saving her after the plane has crash landed. While waiting for his bodyguards to return with help - why do you need them when you can send them all away while you wait with a wounded woman? - she is not that hurt that they cannot play a game of "can we connect on a non-spiritual  level by inserting this part of mine into yours?" Their meeting ends very fruitful with a lot of money and a surprise a bit further on the road as hey why would you use a condom as there is no HIV is there in fairyland. Years later he is the king and they meet again.

A well written easy romance story that has no pitfalls.You do have to like the concept of bed before love though.

A 3 stars out of 5

For sale her on Amazon

To do some comparing I borrowed the one below with my Kindle Unlimited

The Sheikh's Tempted Protectress by Holly Rayner

The Amazon blurb states: "Beth Coolidge has a new assignment: as personal bodyguard to the notoriously hedonistic playboy Sheikh Osman Al-Haddeni, the ex-navy veteran knows she has her work cut out, but she never thought it’d be this tough. The party-loving Sheikh seems to want to regard her more as a pretty-faced status symbol, than a legitimate protector of his life."

Beth recently left the navy and still unemployed when a former boyfriend suggests a stint as the bodygueard of a sheikh. At first she is appalled by the world of glitter but when she gets to know her boss under all the trappings he is a real nice guy who spends days with her in hiding playing boardgames and cooking. It seems a lot more natural that these people fall in love and the novel is not about sex at all. There is also an amount of thriller/suspense in the story as somehow people want him dead.

In this range of novellas a 4 star out of 5.

For sale on Amazon:

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Sunday's free books: A mystery by Edie Claire "Never buried"

First in the USA-Today and Kindle Top Ten bestselling Leigh Koslow Mystery Series! Advertising copywriter Leigh Koslow doesn't pack heat--just a few extra pounds. And she doesn't go looking for trouble. When she moved into her cousin Cara's refurbished Victorian house, she wasn't planning on discovering a corpse--certainly not one that had been embalmed ten years before.

 But as anyone in the small Pittsburgh borough of Avalon could tell her, her cousin's house has a history attached. A history dating back to two mysterious deaths in the summer of 1949.
Someone wants Leigh and Cara out of the house--someone who has something to hide. But that someone doesn't know Leigh's impetuous cousin, and when Cara digs her heels in, Leigh looks to her old college chum, local policewoman Maura Polanski, for help. But the answers the trio find only point to more questions. Were the scandalous deaths of fifty years ago really an accident and a suicide? Or were they murder?
The nearer the women get to the truth, the more desperate someone becomes. Because some secrets are better off kept. Especially when they hit close to home!
"A thoroughly delightful debut. Bright, breezy, and witty. I couldn't put it down."--Tamar Myers
Originally published in mass market paperback by NAL/Penguin, Putnam, Inc. in 1999. Large-Print Edition published by Thorndike, 2002.

For Kindle: