Tuesday, 2 June 2020

ARC Review of "The Traitors Child" by Mark Townsend - A Dan Brown take on Judas

This is a novel with 3 separate stories that after a while intertwine:
- a Jewish man around the time of the fall of Granada;
- an Irish girl in a orphanage run by nuns
- a Dutch guy looking for his daughter in the 1980ties.

It is obvious the writer does not like the church and does a kind of "Dan Brown". It grated as I am raised in a religious family and this felt as Christians bashing and I was wondering if he would have dared it with for instance Muslims. Do not get me wrong: it is fiction. But I would have liked it more if the people had been more diverse. I do agree that the Christian Church tenets from Saint Paul seem a bit different from Jesus his teachings. And exactly by being less sledge hammer this book good have been so much better. And as far as I know in the Bible Maria Magdalena is the sister of Martha and Lazarus and not of Judas.
 (The writer is supposed to be a former vicar?)

I am Dutch: What was supposed to be Dutch (the junk) was gibberish.  Another thing was that the Jewish man flees to Amsterdam. And yes in the 16th century many refugees came to Amsterdam because it was a safe heaven against religious persecution. But I think that wave of refugees was 40 years after the time the book is set..

The fact that a house in Spain is preserved for 5 centuries was also a bit much.

Cooking, romance and a whiff of murder: review of "Above the Bay of Angels" by Rhys Bowen

A great story! The family of a young girl in Victorian London falls on hard times and she has to become a servant. Years later she is a promising cook accompanying the queen to the Riviera. Should she try to return to nobility again or do what she has grown to love? In the meantime a spectre of the gallows is not far away.

There is a lot of cooking in the novel and it is interesting to read how oranges for instance were seen as special or how much was eaten (or better to say chosen from). I smiled when the Londoners thought the bread and jam in France was weird.

I see some inspiration by Dawton Abbey.

A lovely book.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Turkish history disguised as a novel: The Mapmaker's Daughter by Katherine Nouri Hughes (Iraqi American author)

Let me start with saying that I know a lot of that historical era so will not have experienced the trouble some (American) people mentioned with knowing who was who and what country was what.

The author picked a historical figure who is mostly remembered by name only so she has carte blanche creating a person. Other people like Sultan Suleiman and his sons are very well known historical people.

In the novel the old sultan-mother lies in bed gravely ill and looks back on her life. She was a granddaughter of a Venetian merchant who wanted to move up in the world. Her mother was an educated mapmaker and grandpapa tries to pair her to a nobleman. She has done something that is bothering her: something that felt like the right thing to do while it was wrong to do it.

One day this Venetian girl end up in the harem of Sultan Suleyman who sees a brilliant mind and designs to have her trained as the wife of his successor.

The first half of the novel is in my opinion the most interesting one. It seems that the young girl is very impressed with Sultan Suleyman. Like him she values mathematical order and discipline. Somehow what is going on in her heart is not that much mentioned. She seems a math nerd who has a dose of Asperger. Her husband loves her but she seems indifferent.

That is what bothered me with this book. What is Nurbanu really? (Her son asks the same question). Her grandfather is a selfish ass and still she writes to him as if the had a good relationship. She seems to dote on her son and grandson but does not try to amend a rift. On the other hand it is clear that you cannot let your guard down in the palace. That is the tragic thing: when she learns forgiveness and warmth and start to feel happy it ......

For people who look for a historical romance novel: look somewhere else. This felt to me like a novel by Umberto Eco.

People mentioned needing 3 months to finish the book: I read it in one day during the Corona crisis.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Paranormal Scottish chicklit "The healer's legacy"

This is what my dad would call Lady Novels meaning it will appeal to women mostly.

A young American nurse moves to Scotland to go and work in a nursing home that is located in an old castle. The castle is rumoured to be inhabited by the ghost of a nurse who hanged herself during WW1. There is an evil in the castle for sure and people start dying.

This novel is a mix of romance that blends into a paranormal detective story. A quick and easy read that in my opinion got better in the second half. It felt like it is a book in a series what caused a lot of guessing about who is who sometimes and because it hints at the other plots reading those stories is out of the question as we know know the culprits in those.

I reviewed this novel for Netgalley

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Review of "The Sanctuary Seeker, The (A Crowner John Mystery Book 1)" by Bernard Knight

A former crusader, married without affection to a social climber, is the new coroner in rural Devon. When two bodies are found he and his two sidekicks have to investigate.

A bit of a slow read and not that much personal development in the secondary characters but the medieval setting is interesting.

It was an interesting discovery AFTER I had finished the novel that the author had been a coroner himself.

On Amazon:
Knight, a retired British forensic pathologist, presents the first in a new medieval mystery series featuring Sir John de Wolfe. It's 1194, and Sir John has just been appointed coroner for the county of Devon. His first case unfolds when an unidentified, rotting corpse is discovered on a nearby riverbank, and no one knows who it is. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved See: https://www.amazon.com/Sanctuary-Seeker-Crowner-John-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00I0TV08Y/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Review of "Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House (Jane Austen Mysteries, #6)", a naval detective story

Did you know there are rules to waging war? I did even a whole course in it in university. It is called humanitarian law (what is in a name). And that is what this detective is about.

Jane (the writer) has a brother who is in the navy and who is rumoured to be appointed captain to a frigate. Her current captain has to appear before a court-marshal because he is accused of having slain a French captain after that man had lowered his colours.

A nice murder mystery in the naval community in a port town during the Napoleonic wars. Although the sleuth is Jane Austen the writer - why???- the writing style has nothing of her witty style  More Hornblower than Darcy.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Surprisingly different: "Bessie Bell and the Goblin King" - and the ebook is free at the moment

A nice story that can be read from 12 years onward. And is also a suitable read for those people who insist their novel should be "clean".

In a Regency England the world of the fae and that of the humans are connected. A 24 years old servant girl is booted by her cruel employers and while wandering a frosty foggy night meets a mysterious gentleman.

The underlying theme is that class, race or lack of beauty should not define you.

Well written and surprisingly "different".


Saturday, 2 May 2020

How Classic novel "Dracula" has a lot in common with a traditional romance story - now as a free ebook

A novel I read when I was 18 and I was hooked! Although it is a horror story with scary animals and vampires the story deals also with the fascination for a man. In the story the thriller elements are combined with a lot of erotic influences and triggers that you also see in a traditional romance story:

Picture a ruined, gloomy castle owned by a highly ranked nobleman. 
He has a tragic past.
Somehow gets a spell on people and is very entertaining in bed.
When he meets the right girl he falls deeply in love.

Ok he is a walking corpse

Posted on AMAZON:
Dracula is one of the few horror books to be honored by inclusion in the Norton Critical Edition series. (The others are Frankenstein, The Turn of the Screw, Heart of Darkness, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Metamorphosis.) This 100th-anniversary edition includes not only the complete authoritative text of the novel with illuminating footnotes, but also four contextual essays, five reviews from the time of publication, five articles on dramatic and film variations, and seven selections from literary and academic criticism. Nina Auerbach of the University of Pennsylvania (author of Our Vampires, Ourselves) and horror scholar David J. Skal (author of Hollywood Gothic, The Monster Show, and Screams of Reason) are the editors of the volume. Especially fascinating are excerpts from materials that Bram Stoker consulted in his research for the book, and his working papers over the several years he was composing it. The selection of criticism includes essays on how Dracula deals with female sexuality, gender inversion, homoerotic elements, and Victorian fears of "reverse colonization" by politically turbulent Transylvania.

Friday, 1 May 2020

A sizzling romance filled with adventure: "Diamond Deep: The Forbidden Gems Trilogy Book 3" by Ellen Tanner Marsh

5.0 out of 5 stars A sizzling romance filled with adventure

A young English lady falls in the sea when her ship collides with another. About to drown she is saved by the crew of the Defiance. With them and especially their gloomy captain she ends up in a big adventure in Istanbul.

Well written, quite believable.

Two mistakes:
  • Raki does not look like red wine but looks like water, gin or its Greek brother ouzo.
  • A woman in the harem of the Sultan will never have a child from another man. That would mean death. He might marry her off to some official yes but she would then go to her husband's household.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Review of "Guns and Saffron" by Alif - Two Muslim young men in India have to choose for goodness or for illegal things

Someone I know is from Pakistan and is always spewing hatred about India. And although I understand the background - his family lost all during the Partition and was kicked out of India - I once told him I was sick of hearing that and he had to stop. But with this in mind and as I had liked the first novel by Alif a lot I picked up this novel to read and review.

The novel is about two young Muslim men who grow up in predominantly Hindu India and that is definitely not easy. While one is nurtured in a poor but loving environment (a loving grandmother, a caring Christian boss, a motherly Sikh cook), the other is raised by a terrorist uncle in a world of violence. One part of the story full of goodness and love and makes you smile, the other so sad you want to cry. But the author makes it clear that environment will form you but still one has one's own will to choose what road to take in life.

The characters - even the minor ones - are very three-dimensional. 

Large parts of the story read like reading a history book or attending a lecture about Indian politics. So you really need to be interested in that.. Speaking for myself I thought it an interesting read.

I will recommend it to my Pakistani friend.

Pub Date: 30 Jan 2020. Very low-priced!

4 stars out of 5

For  Kindle:

For Dutch E-readers

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Review of "A Single Swallow" by Zhang Ling - Three men and a Chinese girl bond during WW2 in China

On the eve of the surrender of Japan and thus the end of the second World War, three man are sitting toasting in a small village deep into China. One is an American Missionary who is almost 40, the others are almost half his age. One is an American soldier sent there to train Chinese recruits, the other is one of those Chinese who became an expert marksman. They make a solemn vow: when they will die their ghost will return to the village on the anniversary of this victory and wait for the other ghosts.

Soon after one of the ghosts arrives but it takes many decades until the friends are reunited again. They realise that a forth person is missing: the girl they all loved in their own special way. (I think as a father figure, a bosom friend and a lover)  They start to tell each other about their lives.

Most time is spend on the life of the young Chinese soldier thus creating the recent history of China. From the days that rural villages had only one scribe and people lacked decent shoes to a son in law who are now professors in America. That is maybe also because the book is written by someone originally from China.

It is translated from the original Chinese into English but the language still oozes foreign origins. Some sentences are real jewels

Although the part told by the dogs is sweet but it does not fit into the concept of a meeting in the 21st century as the dogs tell their ghost story in 1945.

I liked the glimpse into a for me foreign culture and a historic era. The story is divided amongst several people what makes it less easy to identify with one but I liked the Chinese soldier most. It is beautifully written and I liked the ending.

A story you will remember.

Reviewed this novel for Netgalley. It will be published

A great old adventure novel that got digitalised "Barbary slave" by Gardner Francis Fox

This week I found out that an old paperback novel had been digitalised and published online. Although the cover and the title suggest a lovestory for women it is an adventure novel with a male hero. Remember in the old days a romance was a romanza, an epic adventure by a hero.

The hero in this story is American lieutenant Stephen Fletcher of the Marines. When the naval ship he was posted on ran around in the sight of Tripoli during the US-Barbary states war in the beginning of the 19th century he is captured and sold as a slave in Tripoli.

When people discover he is a magnificent sword fighter he is bought by the pasha to guard the palace. The bash kedin, the chief wife of the ruler has other plans for him that might easily cost him his life. In the meantime someone is plotting to overthrow the pasha, has the pasha some secret warplans against the Americans, a woman needs saving and is an American fleet ready to attack the city.

The novel reminded me of the Hornblower books. Very well written. Good worldbuilding. He more or less paints the scenery for you. Then I found out the writer had worked in the comic books industry.

Amazon explains:" Gardner Francis Fox (1911 to 1986) was a wordsmith. He formerly was schooled as a lawyer. Rerouted by the depression, he joined the comic book industry in 1937. Writing and creating for the soon to be DC comics. Mr. Fox set out to create such iconic characters as the Flash and Hawkman. He is also known for inventing Batman‘s utility belt and the multi-verse concept.At the same time, he was writing for comic books, and he also contributed heavily to the paperback novel industry. Mr. Fox wrote in all of the genres; westerns, historical romance, sword & sorcery, intergalactic adventures, and even erotica."

a 5 star

A well written romance story "A dangerous man" by Rachel Cade

A black model and socialite meets a redneck white man when she gets into car trouble. Over a lot of dangerous situations they bond.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Free romance novel (limited time) "Starlight Dunes"(A Pelican Pointe Novel Book 5) by Vickie McKeehan

Archaeologist River Amandez comes to Pelican Pointe to excavate and catalogue a long-buried Chumash settlement. She brings with her a not-so-pretty past and only one man in town can help her figure out how to make things right. Brent Cody is back in town to recover from a near-fatal attempt on his life. Together the two will lean on each other through tough times, finding strength and courage to correct their mistakes. They'll soon make plans for a reunion of a lifetime and discover the dunes holds the answers to a lot more than the past.

Free detective novel "Played to death" (limited time)


Played to Death (Scott Drayco Mystery Series Book 1)

by BV Lawson
Still suffering nightmares from his last case, former FBI agent Scott Drayco considers retiring from crime solving altogether. When a former client bequeaths Drayco a rundown Opera House in a Virginia seaside town - complete with a body inside - Drayco is soon ensnared in a web of betrayal, madness, and murder.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

This one is FREE today only and sounds good. A detective and a dog. "The Boatman"

Detective Reed Mattox, just three months removed from the death of his partner, has turned invisibility into an art form.

Switching to the K-9, taking over the graveyard shift, moving to a farmhouse miles outside of Columbus, his every move has become predicated on putting as much distance between himself and the outside world as possible.
That distance is shattered though when bodies begin turning up in The Bottoms, the poverty-stricken section of town he is assigned to patrol. Grisly, horrific scenes start to pop up in the middle of the night and the overburdened precinct has no choice but to put Reed on it.

Now operating far outside of his comfort zone with a Belgian Malinois for a partner that attracts attention wherever they go, Reed is forced to unravel the murders, taking him clear across the city and back years in time, to an event that some very influential people will do anything to keep buried...

Review of "Sheikh's bed" by Rachel Cade - the story is good but she has a different Marrakesh in mind (never been there I assume)

If you do not know a thing about the world outside the USA or Europe you will enjoy reading this nice story without wishing the author had done her homework (you can deduct travelling from taxes dear authors).

Marrakesh is a Moroccan town that is NOT a coastal town but deep inland. It has NO skyscrapers but beautiful traditional terracotta red buildings. And you can NOT drive your carriage through the courtyard of a mosque as people would not like to kneel down and pray in horseshit. In Morocco as a non-muslim you are not even allowed in a mosque apart from the one in Casablanca. It is NOT Dubai. Oh and I sincerely doubt if Iranian women would NOT speak Farsi to each other but revert to Arabic.

But the story itself is a good one with true feelings and thrilling action scenes. Yes also hot erotic ones but also being chased by villains and such. So an entertaining read if you are looking for a novel that has a happy ever after feel.

Here for sale on Amazon International:


Thursday, 27 February 2020

Review of "On wilder seas" by Nikki Malmery - a young black slave woman with Sir Francis Drake around the world

Sir Francis Drake, the hero of the Armada, the second man who sailed around the globe, is just a shadow called The General in this tale told by a young enslaved African woman.

When the ship she is on, the FireShitter or Cagafuego is captured by the English she is transported to the English ship as a bedwarmer for Drake.

" Golden Hind caught up with Cagafuego on 1 March 1579, in the vicinity of Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Since it was the middle of the day and Drake did not want to arouse suspicions by reducing sails, he trailed some wine caskets behind Golden Hind to slow her progress and allow enough time for night to fall. In the early evening, after disguising Golden Hind as a merchantman, Drake finally came alongside his target and, when the Spanish captain San Juan de Antón refused to surrender, opened fire.[1]
Golden Hind's first broadside took off Cagafuego's mizzenmast. When the English sailors opened fire with muskets and crossbows, Golden Hind came alongside with a boarding party. Since they were not expecting English ships to be in the Pacific, Cagafuego's crew was taken completely by surprise and surrendered quickly and without much resistance. Once in control of the galleon, Drake brought both ships to a secluded stretch of coastline and over the course of the next six days unloaded the treasure.[2]"
Source: Wikipedia

Maria sails with the Golden Hind towards what is now the USA and Canada and over the Pacific. Life on board the ship is cruel and rough with you shipboys buggered and a captain who can decide on life and limp. The novel gives a more dark view on life on board of those ocean faring ships. ANd also drives the grim reality of slavers and slavery in your face.

The novel is well written but apart from Maria the men aboard ship remain a mere shadows in her tale. The book seems well researched. It did manage to turn the hero into the more realistic slaver and privateer who abandoned friends when it was more opportunistic.

a 4 stars out of 5.

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Monday, 17 February 2020

Review of "Heart's blood" by Alice Von Kannon - a lovestory set in the early days of the USA about a man coming back from white slavery

This novel was quite bad for my law practise because instead of working I have spent the last two days reading at my window curled up in a cosy chair with a pot of tea nearby. It is very well written and interesting.

When you see the cover of this novel you expect a sappy Pirate penny romance but there is hardly a ship in sight and it is not a pirate bodice ripper. (So publisher make it a cover with a mansion and a couple instead)

The novel reminded me a lot of "Pride and Prejudice". Not because of the plot because this is a complete different storyline but because of the ambiance and the way the people develop. It is set in the same era: during Napoleon or what the English speaking world calls the Regency. And although it is not set in England but in the USA 20 years after the Revolution still many of the senior citizens of Salem in New England (yes of the witches trials 100 years prior)  have a strong link with England and the English norms and values of society life. Eleanor Hampton is a level headed, intelligent unmarried woman on the verge of spinsterhood who after the death of her father takes care of her younger teenage sister and very immature mother. A mother with tantrums and theatrics that somehow ended up with the voice of Mrs Bennet from the 1990-ties BBC version of Pride and Prejudice in my head. Isaac McCallister is a tall darkhaired silent stoic man who keeps his cards close to his chests and had a lot of tales an scandals surrounding him but is a real good person (A bit the Darcy type). He is ten years older than Eleanor and the stepbrother of her father and the owner of the estate and the cottage Eleanor and her family live in gentile poverty in.

The novel starts with Captain Isaac McCallister returning from a five year period of slavery in the Barbary states (Algeria, Tunesia in this case, white slavery). While he was away Eleanor's father and Isaac's brother have died and Eleanor's mother had been pressing lawsuits against her step-family. Eleanor fears that with the heir returning her family will be evicted and walks over to Isaac's house to plea their case. In despair she offers the only thing she can: herself. She will be willingly be his mistress as long as he takes care of her family. Isaac suggests another option: they can marry.

Eleanor and Isaac set up house and things go differently than you might expect. And then there is a murder.

Yes so far it sounds like a soppy romance but that is just the first impression at the beginning. It is the psychological development between the two main characters but also the minor people that is very well done. It feels real. You follow their line of thought.

The story is written by someone who studied history and that shows. In the storyline there is a lot of background information. I, as a non-American, found it interesting to read about the early days of the USA. Where definitely not everyone was so happy with saying good bye to England. Where sea captains who still owned their big privateer-ships decided to go and sail the oceans to far away places and trade just because those big brigs were not suitable for a bit of coastal trade and thus transforming small Salem into a cosmopolitan town. Where both France and England were not allies and could press your sailors or grab your ships. Where such a mayhem might bankrupt a whole family. But where also the Muslim privateers of North Africa were a real danger to ships and crew alike.

Part of the story is trauma and psychological treatment. The writer tells us about the groundbreaking work done in Paris in those days. I googled the names and indeed that was all true.

I liked the natural way the characters develop. When they begin to respect each other you do too. When they realise they love each other is sounds more than logical. Hell you start thinking "Can you find me a guy like that!" It is not for the people wanting an action packed novel. It is more how two people get close and then battle a big problem.

The author manages a good way of worldbuilding. You can almost picture the setting.

I know some (American) readers want to read only "clean" novels. This is a novel about two people who are married. You can expect some lovemaking but it is certainly not pornographic but an essential element in the story.

I can highly recommend the novel both to male and female readers.  A 5 stars out of 5. I understand there is a sequel. That I would like to read too.

Heart's Blood

Pub Date:  


Captain Isaac McCallister, five years a slave in North Africa, has returned from the grave, and Salem has put out a wary welcome. It is 1803, and the village of Salem, once known only for the dark horrors of its witch trials, is now a cosmopolitan seaport, the richest city in America. Everyone in Salem knows that Captain McCallister lost his mind in the desert of Barbary. Isaac is a damaged man, looking for a reason to go on living. He finds it when he meets Eleanor Hampton, his step-brother's daughter, an eccentric young painter living in genteel poverty on his estate along with her mother and sister. Despite the long-standing bitterness between the two families, Isaac is bewitched by this determined, gifted woman, while Eleanor is unexpectedly drawn to him. He's not the man she expected, a coarse merchant prince who could reduce the beauty of art to the banality of dry goods. There is a gallantry in Isaac that couldn't be snuffed out by the hell of Algerian slavery. But his unexpected proposal of marriage sets dark forces out of the past into motion, resulting in a stunning betrayal and a brutal murder. And as her passion for her enigmatic husband consumes her, Eleanor finds there's no danger she's unwilling to face to save her husband from the hangman.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Review of "And only to deceive" by Tasha Alexander - a young widow delves into her late husband's past while studying the ancient Greeks

Emily is a very young widow in the Victorian era. She is supposed to be in mourning shut away from society for 2 years. The problem is she is not mourning. She married her husband to get away from her domineering mother and although she liked him in her bed it is not that she was in love with him. She hardly knew him. Right after their honeymoon he left for a safari never to return.

Bored out of her brains she starts to read his diaries and discovers he was quite an interesting man who loved the old Greeks. First that triggers Emily to visit the museum and to study the language but while learning more about her dead husband she falls in love with the man. The man who is dead. The man she more or less ignored. She falls in a deep depression of loneliness and regret. If you ever had a broken heart this story will bring back those feelings.

But what about his friend who said he was there when he died and despises another friend of her husband? Is her husband dead or is her not? And if he is dead was he murdered? What about that guy who is such good company?

While in a whirlwind of emotions Emily also learns a lot about antiquities, forgery and more. And we do while reading the novel. Reading the Iliad and strolling from one room to the other in the British Museum.

The book is full of interesting information. I was visiting an expo about ancient Cyprus and noticed a statue of the same artist mentioned in the novel. And the vases with red or black people on them.

I can really recommend it. Definitely not a daft Victorian romance but a very layered combination of detective and coming of age story.

A later book in the series you can find here http://www.dutchysbookreviewsandfreebooks.com/2020/02/istanbul-murder-mystery-tears-of-pearl.html

Review of "Atlas" by Eline Peer

The author has written a couple of romance novels series around a central theme. It is obvious she is well versed in psychology and now identifies as a coach in her bio. Some of her novels are quite good others are just typical romances. I think it matters if she has her first idea for a new series developed into a book or if it is part 5 of the series.

This series is about cultivation. Book 1 that I did not read was about a cult.

This novel is about the son of that enigmatic cult-leader who forced his people to commit suicide like in that 1970ties cult. Atlas has dedicated his life to research into mind control. He is afraid that he is like his father. When a young female psychologist joins his team he has to fight fantasies of dominating her. And that scares him shitless because he thinks it is proof that he is rotten in his core.

The part where Elin the psychologist became apparent in this novel is where Atlas is told that there is a difference between wanting to hurt people and liking a rougher version of sex as long as that is mutual. But that wanting to be the dominant male does not involve inflicting bodily harm. That there is nothing wrong with him. This is done by discussing Fifty Shades of Grey without mentioning the title. I think with all those whip and chains novels that bursted to life after that book was published this bit of explaining is quite handy.

I also liked the background into how cults come to be. That even when someone has an idea to do good they always derail the moment person worshipping becomes part of it all. And how people can get traumatised by a situation like this where children survived that cult.

For the rest it is a love story.

Istanbul murder mystery "Tears of Pearl" by Tasha Alexander

At the end of the 19th century a newly wed English lady and her husband travel to Istanbul with the Orient Express. On the train some strange things happen but when they are in Istanbul just a few days they stumble upon a murdered harem girl who turns out to be the daughter of one of the English diplomats, the man who was also on the train.

All the famous sight are visited in the novel. Crossing the Bospurus, the lavish estates along the waterfront, Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque. And it is obvious the author studied Ottoman history well while doing research in town. (I once read a novel where the author mentioned the desert around the town and I was like WHAT???).

The mystery is not that plausible and I got a bit sick of the hints towards bedsport that was however never mentioned (seen) but this novel was still a good read because of the setting. I studied in Istanbul when I was young and this novel was bringing all the settings back in my mind's eye.
When you plan to go to Istanbul, have been there or are interested in Ottoman history this book is a good read. But as a novel no 1 of the series is a lot better (have not read the others yet).


Sunday, 2 February 2020

All of a sudden Amazon.com excludes people from writing reviews who spend not enough and Kindle Unlimited is excluded

"I want to issue a complaint. For years and years I am a customer of Amazon.com and have a Kindle Unlimited Account. I buy also Kindle books. But as I am not living in the USA I do not buy physical items as postal fees will bleed me dry. I tried Prime but as I am outside of the USA lots of the contends were blocked. Nowadays I have Prime via Amazon.de but for my Kindle books that is no option as 1) Most are German 2) in my country I can only access Kindle books via Amazon.com/

All of a sudden, after 500 reviews of novels mostly read via Amazon Kindle Unlimited, bought via Amazon .com and some via Netgalley, I am not allowed to write reviews on the Amazon site anymore because I am not spending enough and KU is excluded and also accounts on other Amazon sites like Amazon.de where I DO have Amazon Prime but cannot read my Kindle books. (I spent a lot of money on the .de version but as I said books are no option there). Sorry I find that very rude and discriminatory for people outside of the USA and hope you will change that on my account."

WW2 Norway seen from a child's point of view: review of the novel "Occupied" by Kurt-Blorstad

An elderly father and his grown up son travel to Norway, the land the father spent his youth. The old man gets quite emotional seeing all those familiar places and starts telling his story to his son.

It is mid 1930ties when an America born, from Norwegian parents, 7 years old boy, Trygve, takes a bus to travel from his paternal grandparent's house to that of his maternal grandmother's. His parents had emigrated to the US but his dad had lost his job due to the Depression. As a result of that they had taken their children back to Norway. But when the economy is picking up dad has gone back to the US and when he has saved enough money he will let the family come as well. As mom does not like Bestemor (grandmother) that much she rather waits at her own mother's house.

But saving money is a slow thing and when WW2 comes to Norway and the Germans invade moving to the US is impossible.

The book is very well written and keeps you glued to your Kindle. We follow Trygve from age 7 to 17 and the writer develops the story age consistent. For instance only we as grown-ups realise the poverty and later on teenager Trygve underestimates the danger at first.

The last chapter feels a bit hurried. I would have loved some grown up hindsight comments. Why did Norwegians who had wanted Norway liberated still emigrate? Was it that poor for them? Did he never miss the land and the friends of his youth? Was life in a big town not very different from life in a Norwegian village? 

I recommend the book for people who are interested in history and WW2, for people from Norway or of Norwegian decent or who want to visit Norway, for adults but also for teenagers 10-18 (no sex, no graphic violence).

Friday, 10 January 2020

The Potter's Field (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael Book 17) - murder mysery set in an English medieval monastery

You might be familiar with Brother Cadfael because you saw the tv series. Or because you read other novels in the series about a Welsh crusader who became a monk and now tends the herb gardens of an abbey and solves crimes with the local sheriff in his spare time.

In this 17th novel in the series the abbey is granted the field where a potter used to live and work. That potter has renounced the world and left his wife to become a monk. But when the monks start ploughing the field a woman's body is revealed. Who was she and was she murdered?

I have read many novels in this series and most are very good. What I liked in this one was the historical backdrop and also the question why people would turn to religious life.

You can read all these novels separately but to understand the role of all the secondary returning characters like the ambitious prior and his sidekick but also the person of Cadfael himself you might want to start with book 1.