Wednesday, 25 December 2019

"Love in the Valley of the Kings" is like watching an Indiana Jones movie

Love in the Valley of the KingsLove in the Valley of the Kings by Nicola Italia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is the 1920ties and a young female archaeologist accompanies her father on a dig in Egypt joined by the rest of her family and some friends and colleagues of her father. There she meets a fellow archaeologist who is half English half Egyptian. Happily in love she suddenly is in the middle of danger when one of their team is murdered and it seems she is also a target.

It is a nice read but I am sure a normal excavation would take a lot longer but who cares. This is just escapism reading.

For the people who cannot stand sex in novels you best keep your heartbeat evenly and skip this novel as the couple does a lot of coupling.

Review of "Devious lies" by by Parker S. Huntington

For this kind of novel it is actually quite a good one! She is the daughter of someone who was in the middle of a fraud scandal. He was the son of the help. His father died when losing all his savings in that fraud case. Years later they meet again. Both are atoning each for their own reasons. He thinks she knew and was into the fraud. She thinks he is a complete @sshole. But now he is the rich guy and she the one with hardly money to eat. And there is so much they do not know.

While in these kind of novels the man is often a bad person who is a member of the maffia or just a very unpleasant man and only is nice to the woman, the author here gives a way better signal to her younger readers: this guy is a genuine good guy.

And the man modelling on the cover is a hottie.

Oh and the commenting on Disneymovies is hilarious.

Review of a novel set during the French Revolution "The Reign of Love and Chaos" by Nicola Italia

I had learned about the Terror-episode during the French revolution but this novel brings it to life by focussing on a young man and woman coming of age. He is a young man from a middle class background who is elected in the new parliament and she is a foreigner who wants to join a convent as a novice. We witness how the good intentions of the delegates turn into bloodshed. And while it is more or less common knowledge that the nobility died en masse under the guillotine the fact that the religious people were also persecuted was completely unknown to me. I thought the dissolving of the monasteries had been in line with what happened under Henry the Eighth in England.

It seems each century has madmen like Hitler or the Inquisition and normal people would be in grave danger. The writer has a nice style of prose and keeps you invested in the main leads. Unlike the first novel in this series it does have some bedscenes but is not meant as an erotic read. To be honest if I could advice the author I would not link this novel to her Sheikh bestseller as it is a completely different style and also the motivation of the Arabian princess for a life of seclusion sounds a bit strange as in those days the Arabian women were kept out of the public. However her other motivation is that she would like to devote her life to a religious life and convents are not existing under Islam and she has a Christian mother could be a solid motive but the link to the other novel is not that necessary.

It is a shame only 7 other readers reviewed it on Amazon until now as it is a very good novel.

Review of "In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II" - a spy novel by Rhys Bowen set in a Downton Abbey kind of setting

Well this means me getting up at 5 am to get my work done because this novel kept me glued to my kindle.

For those who have seen Downton Abbey picture an estate like that in 1941.

It is the beginning of World War II and America has not joined the war yet. England is desperate and people expect they will be invaded. The son of a local rector and the young adults from two noble families all find a job in the war machine. One becomes a pilot and is captured over Germany and the others ended up in secret jobs they cannot tell anyone about.

But then a spy drops from the sky. Why in that rural area? Who might be a traitor?

I truly enjoyed this novel although the clue is a bit strange all the rest is very entertaining and mixed with enough historical facts. I understand the author wrote mysteries before turning to wartime novels (those I found pretty predictable). This novel however combines a wartime setting with a great mystery that has to be solved. Well done.

Monday, 16 December 2019

A Christmas Tale - Review of "What child is this" by Rhys Bowen

A couple faces Chrismas alone in a bombed out London. A story about the situation during the Second World War: rations, fire bombs, shelters.......  A bit short. As a documentary interesting but the writer might have extended the story a bit or made it a volume of short stories all set during wartime christmasses.

3 stars out of 5

Review of "The victory garden" by Rhys Bowen

Set during World War I this novel is about Emily Bryce, an (almost) 21 year old daughter of a judge who falls in love with an Australian airman. Pregnant and pretending to be a warwidow she joins the Land Army of women doing agricultural work when the men are away fighting. While billeted near an estate she finds an old diary full with recipes for herbal remedies.

Unfortunately the Amazon blurb almost told the whole plot! That deducted one star.

The book is quite predictable and I kept wondering if the concept of the Land Army and a Victory Garden was not more a WW2 concept.

Ok read. 3 stars out of 5.

Review of "The Tuscan Child" by Rhys Bowen

An English pilot is shot down over Tuscany during World War II and a local woman nurses him back to health.
Thirty years later his daughter finds a letter mentioning a "beautiful boy" when she is clearing his house after he had died. She wonders if her father sired a child when he was in Italy during the war. She travels to the little village to try to find out more about his past and comes to enjoy the life in rural Tuscany.

In the beginning the two storylines were a bit irritating but later on they became more entwined and I started to like the novel a lot more.

There are some big plotholes:
1) If the death duties on an estate were over a million pound would you ever be able to buy the building 30 years later for a couple of hundred thousands?
2) If you were an arthistorian and in desperate need of money and had a house full of paintings would you not get them appraised so you could sell them?

I also have the feeling the people in general fall very fast in love and taking very big leaps. You would expect more soulsearching first.

4 stars out of 5

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!!!!

Do you want an emailsibscription to this blog?

Just put in your email and keep an eagle eye out for the email to confirm as it might land in your spambox.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

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.