Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Coming In September

Hi folks:

Sorry that I have to keep this to a commercial this week. Have been suffering from back spasms since a bad fall last week, which tends to keep me off the computer. However, I am enjoying a good, brand new book that I'll tell you about in a  week or two. In the meantime, don't forget that the second book in my Huguenot Family Saga series will be available on Amazon in September. Here's the pitch:

I'll let you know for sure when it's available on Amazon.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Let's Read About Egypt

Flickr - IDS.photos - Sphinx and pyramid, Cairo (1)

By Ian Sherlock from Puriton, UK (Sphinx and pyramid, Cairo) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the country of Egypt, but it has always fascinated me. However, with so much intrigue going on in the Middle East, it’s not a place I’d want to travel around right now. The next best thing is to read about it. Here are two books I’ve read in the last year with Egypt as the setting:

The Hidden by Jo Chumas 


As winner of the Mystery and Thriller segment of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, I expected this to be an excellent read. And in many aspects, it was. The writing is well done and the research into Egypt’s history is impeccable.

Azi Ibrahim, a university professor has been mysteriously murdered in the desert outside of Cairo and his young wife, Aimee is determined to find out why. Among his possessions, she finds a diary written by the mother who died shortly after she was born, as well as a picture of a beautiful, exotic dancer.
During her investigations to find out why her husband had the diary and who the woman is, she enlists the help of a mysterious middle-aged journalist. A man who also seems to have information regarding her husband’s death. However, joining forces with this man incriminates her as a pawn in the middle of a revolutionary war against Egypt’s king and places her into an extremely dangerous position. 
There were times when the situations seemed somewhat contrived and you had to wonder, why anyone would be so stupid as to knowingly walk into such danger. As well, I figured out the surprise ending a little over half way through.

However, I didn’t really mind that too much and it was an easy and fun read with exotic locales and two beautiful heroines.

The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer 

Sophie Kohl, the wife of an American diplomat in Hungary is traumatized when her husband is killed sitting across from her in a Budapest restaurant. Especially since, he had just told her that he knew about her illicit affair with a fellow diplomat while stationed in Cairo.

For the sake of her own conscience, she is determined to discover her husband’s killer and the reason behind his premature death. Following the trail back to Egypt and further beyond to their honeymoon in eastern Europe, twenty years earlier, she sets off a chain of reactions that put not only herself in danger, but her husband’s diplomatic associates as well.

The novel delves deep into the world of espionage intrigue and strategy where everyone is living a lie and no one is assured of their safety from one day to the next. It’s a page-turner in the strongest sense of the word and keeps the reader on edge right to the end.

There are many characters and sometimes the plot is difficult to follow, especially with so many Arab names. However, the flashbacks to the war in Croatia were very informative and gave one some incite to the problems the Serbs faced after the breakup of Marshall Tito’s Yugoslavia. It also looks at U.S. intelligence during the time of the “Arab Spring.”

I found the book well written and interesting and a must-read for lovers of political conspiracies.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Another Jane Austin Add On

                              Lydia showing her ring CH51

It rather amazes me that there are so many fans of Jane Austin out there. And so many historical fiction authors that are adding to her words or filling in whatever gaps she may have left. I recently read Longbourn which was on the best sellers list for a long time this spring. Here is my appraisal:  

I’ve seen several versions of “Pride and Prejudice” both on television and in the movies, but have to admit I’ve never read the book. I know it is somewhat sacrilegious to say this, but much as I love her characters and their old-fashioned stories, Jane Austin’s plodding 18th century prose generally stops me cold. 

Nevertheless, after reading “Longbourn” by Jo Baker, I feel I really must settle down and give the original book version a whirl. I need to know more about Mr. And Mrs. Bennet; their five sprightly daughters; and the farm in Hertfordshire.

Even if the author does rather take liberties with the original characters, the servants of Longbourn come miraculously to life under Jo Baker’s skillful literary pen in this parallel telling of their below-stairs, private lives.

Sarah the maid, who has been at the farm since she was orphaned in childhood, is beginning to experience the bloom of youth. She first finds herself drawn to the dusky mulatto footman of the neighboring Bingley household at Netherfield. And he is definitely quite smitten with her young, innocent beauty. But it is when she kisses the Bennet’s mysterious, new hired hand that she begins to realize there is more to life than washing other ladies’ dirty underwear and preparing roast chicken and mashed turnips for her “betters.”

Jo Baker’s characters are extremely well drawn and her settings beautifully described. I found myself easily transported to that time period with no great wish to return to reality. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

I Love a Series

Bobbsey Twins at the County Fair It's always delightful when you discover a series with a character that you can love and want to follow. Since I first discovered "The Bobbsey Twins" and "Nancy Drew" in the fourth grade, I have loved getting involved with a main character of a series.

I'm going to be discussing some of these series in the next few weeks. At present, I'm greatly intrigued with two series by the same author, a mother and son writing team who go by the pen name of Charles Todd.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed one of the latest books in their "Ian Rutledge" series. Here I'm going to introduce you to their new series called "Bess Crawford Mysteries." Bess was born in India into a military family and now, during the Great War (WWI), she is serving as a nurse in France. She often gets a leave from her front-line duties and manages to discover a murder whenever she does. Once in awhile, something that happens in the front lines gets her involved as well.

"A Question of Honour" is not the first book in the series, but it does take you back to her early years in India, so it's a good one to start with. Here's my review as it appears on Amazon.

English nurse, Bess Crawford serves in World War I tending the wounded in the battlefields of France. Much of her childhood was spent in India where her father. a Colonel in the British army, was stationed. Now, while on a tour of duty, she gets a glimpse of a man she knew years before in India's northwest frontier. A soldier who disappeared when he was accused of killing five people, but whom she remembers as being a very fine person.

As some of the murders took place in England, on one of her leaves, she and her long time friend Sergeant-Major Simon Brandon begin to follow a trail to try to discover whether the subject is actually the killer or a victim of circumstance. A trail that will lead them into danger as they learn the horrific truth behind the murders.

This is the fifth book in this series but the first one that I read. I really liked everything about the novel. The settings, the characters, and the plot were all exceptionally gripping. I'm just as hooked now on Beth as I was on the Todd's Detective Ian Rutledge series.

 fun to

Just discovered that I have won an advanced copy of the above book from Harper Collins. Stay tuned soon for a review of another delightful Bess Crawford Mystery.