Margitte's Reviews

Margitte's Reviews

Historical fiction, mysteries, family, travel journals, memoirs, crime thrillers. I Just love a good read.


"I live life with passion, compassion, a sense of humor and some style" - Dr. Maya Angelou.

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
5 Stars
Marketing the Moon - the Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program by David Meerman Scott & Richard Jurek
Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program - David Meerman Scott, Richard Jurek, Eugene A. Cernan

"Marketing the Moon" is an illustrated and comprehensive report of the history of the historical moon landing in marketing terms. The known, unknown, good, bad, the amazing, the challenging, the behind-the-scenes drama and jubilation. The discussion goes back to Jules Verne, who wrote his book 'From the Earth To The Moon', 104 years prior to the event, and proceeds to all the marketing gimmicks employed in the 1900's in the media, to the ultimate 400 000+ people contributing products, technology and other skills in making the moon landing possible.

This books, only 144 pages long, speaks for itself. It is a must-read for anyone interested in space. The technology used, the engineering accomplishments, the marketing machine, the ordinary Americans who made it possible, the stories of individuals involved, the Hollywood and media machine run-up - every single aspect around the space program is discussed in detail.

"Our goal for Marketing the Moon has been to examine the inner workings and public perceptions of the Apollo lunar program through the lens of practicing PR and marketing professionals. We do not attempt an encyclopedic presentation, but rather an analysis of what was done, and what worked and what did not."


" The goal of the Apollo program was to send a man to the Moon and return him safely to Earth, and do it before the end of the 1960s. Without fully realizing it at the time, we took
those first steps to the Moon with the first manned mission of Project Mercury, when Alan Shepard flew his sub-orbital flight on May 5, 1961, becoming the first American in space. It was but three weeks later, on May 25, 1961, that President John F. Kennedy stood before Congress and said, “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.” That sealed what became our goal and commitment leading to the historic landing of Apollo 11." 

The marketing campaign reached the entire world. If the Americans thought it was huge, they probably were unaware of the reaction in the rest of the world. It was MASSIVE news! I still vividly remember the wonderment, the magic, the incredibility of this achievement. I think I was in love with all the astronauts at once and still am! 

"This greatest technological achievement of the 20th century was also a global event, as an estimated 600 million television viewers watched and listened as Eagle landed on the Moon and as the first human footprints marked the lunar surface. The achievement of broadcasting live television from the Moon was nearly as astonishing as landing there. Though the buildup to this moment was long, there can be no denying that the drama was epic and the dangers very great. Within the scientific community, it was understood that nearly every possible scenario required detailed preparation, ranging from anticipating physical mishaps and catastrophes to the remote likelihood that the astronauts might return to Earth carrying dangerous microbes."

This book explains how a timeline transformed the escapist dreams of writers and artists through centuries into a scientific goal, by applying mathematics and science to it and accomplish the unimaginable. But it also emphasize the immense role that the media played in the endeavor. 

"When reflecting upon the importance of television in Apollo’s legacy, Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, was emphatic. “If you want to market the Apollo program, put the astronauts on television and let them have a press conference on the way home. Without television, Apollo would have been just a mark in a history book. But to those people who were alive and remember it, it’s visionary, as if they were there. “One of the best compliments I got was: ‘Gene, you took me with you.’ And that’s what I wanted to do. I was there with you. That’s what television did—it took you with us when we went to the Moon. We didn’t say ‘We’ll tell you about it in two weeks.’ We took you with us. The power of television is unbelievable. That’s what television does. What you are seeing is happening at this instant. The liftoff from the Moon is a good example. You could sit in your living room listening to the commentary of Apollo 17, but you could also watch it happening at that instant."

To read Marketing the Moon' now after all these years, brings the deepest happiness and joy back, igniting the same pride in the American achievement in reliving those magical moments. But this time around many years have passed, we have all grown up and older, and can appreciate the immensity of this achievement so much more. This book captures the events that made it possible for hundreds of thousands of people to work together and unite for a common goal and pull it off on that scale. It is the biggest marketing success story in human history. 

The book contains interesting, detailed as well as informative photographs and facts. The only issue I have with it is that it is a very difficult read in e-book format. The text is spread over three columns on each page with the photographs embedded in it as well. But since this is a NetGalley read, I do not mind. I will buy this book and give it to everyone to read. For anyone involved in the marketing world, or interested in history, and a fan of space programs, this book is for you. It is nothing but a HUGE THRILL. MONUMENTAL BLISS comes to mind!

July 20, 1969: "Armstrong: That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Five sparkling stars - no pun intended!

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
5 Stars
This is Rage by Ken Goldstein
This is Rage: A Novel of Silicon Valley and Other Madness - Ken Goldstein

When the Big Boys with the Big Money clash with the Small Boys with the Small Voices, it gets really ugly.

This is such a profound, evocative, thought-provoking novel, that it is difficult to just dot down a few thoughts on it. Why I wanted to read it? Because if America coughs, the rest of the world gets pneumonia, and I wanted to know how it happens.

What can happen if two disgruntled IT people, two cousins named Dennis Swerlow and Sam Kisinski, decides to kidnap one of the biggest players in Silicon Valley, Daniel Steyer, and hold him for ransom. Not to take the money and run, but to start their own company? 

As things work in the modern world, it took seconds for several billionaire egomaniacs, aspiring politicians, and down and out journalists to try and cash in on the situation. What looked like heroics was nothing short of attempts to score like vultures from the situation.

Everything went magnificently wrong. The kidnappers ended up with Stepen J. Finkelman and Calvin Choy, two star CEO's of Envisionlink as hostages, with the banker, Charles McFrank,dead. The FBI agent is unable to do his job. Feisty, street-smart Congresswoman Payne gets in on the action, raining on everyone's parade. The parade being a private Boeing which serves as the hostage hold. Employees walk out when rumors of a merger between Envisionlink and Atom Heart Entertainment start circulating. The Street (Wall Street) starts an avalanche of stones gathering no moss at a unprecedented rate, thundering down into a possible depression, fueling the fires and ripping several hidden agendas open.

The only common factor, trying to keep hold of the strings, is the internet radio freak, Kimo Balthazer. 

"He was all mouth, no camera candy, but he could bottle wrath and sell it in a rainbow of flavors. He’s a mud scavenger. He goes where the mud is and makes misery his triumph."

Kimo, with his This is Rage' show will throw a cat in a mouse nest, understanding the soul of America, the workers who make it happen. He creates chaos which he will have to solve.

"Management was in it for themselves, job security was as ancient a myth as the protective rule of the Roman Empire, C-level executives bought weekend ranches while employees lost their leveraged homes, and job engagement was limited to a tiny guild of decision-makers invited with invisible whispers to join the inner circle. It may well have been a self-selecting set of participants crying foul, but the malaise was inescapable. Employees were afraid. They felt helpless. They were angry."

All Kimo wants is the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights uniting with his own Merger Bill of Rights.

"When people go to the ice cream shop, they usually pick something reliable like strawberry or chocolate chip, but every now and again a flavor of the day catches their fancy and they just don’t know why they are devouring bubblegum swirl. The problem with Mr. Balthazer’s bubblegum swirl is that it is unexpectedly influential—it is getting under people’s skin like a narcotic and causing them to make poor decisions."

My comments: An exhausting, but absolutely brilliant book. How it will resonate in the American psyche, or the rest of the world's, begs to be seen. The author's background knowledge of Big Boys with Big Money and their counterpart the Small Boys with the Small Voices is masterfully applied to this crime thriller.

In the end, the old cliché is confirmed: the difference between a Communist and a Capitalist is a fat bank account with a noble fiduciary duty all over the ambitious journey where the common man, a few billion of the world's inhabitants, are caught in the cross-fire. "This big challenge needs a big champion."

But the most sober thought for me is: while we all nobly eek out honest reviews for masterfully writing like this, doing it for free, someone else, the High Tech ‘Masters of the Universe, is making money from the algorithms on our computers. After all, everything is for sale, keyword for keyword, in Silicon Valley, and nothing goes by unnoticed or untraceable, with privacy being only the last noble aspiration of a dying brain ...

I recommend this action thriller debut novel to everyone who needs to know the contemporary world we are living in today. I agree, Ken Goldstein's book is smart, insightful and engaging. It enlightens while it entertains. He is one of those authors who really knows what he is talking about. Brilliant writing! Brilliant story. Really a contemporary must-read!


Original review:


Ken Goldstein advises start-ups and established corporations in technology, entertainment, media, and e-commerce. He served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of SHOP.COM, a market leader in online consumer commerce acquired by Market America. He previously served as executive vice president and managing director of Disney Online, and as vice president of entertainment at Broderbund Software. Earlier in his career, he developed computer games for Philips Interactive Media and Cinemaware Corporation, and also worked as a television executive. He is active in children's welfare issues and has served on the boards of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles, Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, and Full Circle Programs, and is involved in local government. He speaks and teaches frequently on topics of management, leadership, and creative destruction. He and his wife Shelley, who teaches English as a Second Language, make their home in Southern California. He received his BA in Theater Studies and Philosophy from Yale. This is Rage is his first novel.( Source: Goodreads)

3.5 Stars
The Candidate by Daniel Pembrey
The Candidate: Luxembourg Thriller - Daniel Pembrey


Genres: Suspense, thriller, mystery
Formats: Kindle,
Pages: 102
Published: November 15th, 2013
Publishers: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Edition language: English
Purchase Links: Amazon

Netgalley review.


When headhunter becomes the hunted. Nick Thorneycroft is a British headhunter working in Luxembourg. His company asks him to recruit a high-flying executive for the company's Russian business. The best candidate turns out to be smart, beautiful... and mysterious. Soon the effects of Russia's political upheaval, and the arrival of an ex-girlfriend who won't leave him alone, make Nick's Luxembourg life increasingly perilous; worlds collide in this gripping, atmospheric tale.


Londoner, Nick Thorneycroft, a former sports writer, gets a job as a headhunter, or recruiter, thanks to his girlfriend, Claire. 

He is stationed in Luxembourg, the snow globe of Europe, and is in the process of doing big business with the Russians. Corporate Russians and the Russian government are involved in high profile negotiations with western companies, but also sending in their strong-armed front men to get what they want for whatever sinister reason.

Circumstances in his company become difficult when weird things start to happen, especially when he wakes up in his apartment without any recollection of what happened to him the previous evening and with evidence lying around that he cannot connect to anyone he knows. Nick is instructed to appoint a young woman, Yekaterina Novakovich, without a proper background check. Soon his life turns into chaos and he becomes paranoid. He doesn't know who to trust anymore while is life and job gets weirder by the minute. 

This novella is written in the typical mystery, thriller style with little surprises or new angles. It has a cliffhanger ending. A relaxing, fast read, though, and delivers very well in this genre. Not bad at all.



Daniel Pembrey worked for ten years at a large, Seattle-based Internet company - most recently in Luxembourg. He writes thrillers and psychological suspense stories, this being his third. Previous praise: "Daniel Pembrey tells a cracking tale with verve and style. He can write, the jury's not out on that one..." Susan Hill, Booker Prize short-listed author . He also contributes non-fiction articles to publications including The Times. When he is not writing, he loves to read, travel and meet new people. You can follow him on Facebook, facebook/DPembrey, and Twitter, @DPemb.
!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
3.5 Stars
The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan
The Sisterhood - Helen Bryan

Since the publication of The Da Vinvi Code it could have been expected that similar 'what if'- questions would pull a few new surprises out of the hats of history, and this book is no exception. In the Da Vinci Code, the question was asked 'What if Jesus was married or had a family?'. In this book the question is asked ' What if Jesus had sisters or brothers, and Mary did not remain a virgin forever? ' Throw in the theories presented in another recent book 'The Kabbalist' around the true history of Jesus as seen from a Jewish viewpoint, as well as yet another possibility in 'The Shack' of God being a woman, and I can safely declare myself ready to drown my sorrowful confusion in a casket of ancient Roman Posca!

This long and complex tale centers around a history of women and their fate in the Catholic church during and after the Spanish Inquisition in which people from other faiths were forced to convert to Christianity with bloody prosecutions and killings by the thousands for those who still practiced their own religions in secret. 

The Gospel of the Foundress of the Las Golondrinas Convent, Andalusia, Spain, ultimately reveals much more than her own history. It solves the mystery behind the badge around the little girl's neck who was found in a fishing boat by sailors and delivered to a convent in Spanish South America.

This is her, Menina Walker's story, going back centuries and involving the fates of five orphan girls: Esperanza, Pia, Sanchia, Marisol, and Luz. Menina Walker, the little Spanish girl who was adopted and given a new name by American Baptists, was given the medal and The Chronicle for save keeping by the nuns of the South American convent. She grew up in America, decided to study Art History and visit Spain for her college thesis. A traumatic experience drives her to go sooner than later.

As fate would have it, she misses her bus to Madrid and unbeknownst to her, she lands up in the convent where her story begun, centuries ago . 

The reader is immediately pulled deep into the narrative, totally losing a sense of reality, completely vanishing into the in-depth history of the Spanish Inquisition, the fate of the Jewish, Muslim and other converts who were prosecuted by the Spanish authorities and the destiny of the nuns who had to take care, in utmost poverty, of the sufferers of the prosecutions. 

Two story lines are intertwined. The one begins in 1552 in Spain and the second one in 2000 with Menina Walker starting her life as young student.

At first I was mesmerized. The information is so well presented that the reader taste, feel, hear, and smell every single detail. From moldy  dark, dilapidated convents, to the barbaric, 'uncivilized' Incas, the taste of stale bread, and the stinky breaths of rotten teeth - it was vividly presented. The story is a riveting depiction of the terrible lives of so many people in that period of history. 

But by the 50% mark of the kindle version I had enough of the endless historical detail and the endless repeat of horror and hardship in the different story lines of the five girls, their families and the nuns. I just had enough of the never-ending stream of new characters constantly being added with their stories. The superficial, light-weight inclusion of the modern, and romantic, American girl's participation in the story almost derailed it for me. It did not quite fit into the narrative at all! What a pity! It would have been more convincing, to me personally, if she was from South America, or not present at all! 

But! The Sisterhood was a learning curve. Informative, thrilling, suspenseful, masterfully presented. 

I would have loved to rate it five stars, but one stars goes awol for: 1 ) the tedious nature of the information dump.  2) Menina, with her tasteless, money-driven, mass-market, tourist-trap solution just blew it for me! Menina was too obvious an added character to make the book more of a commercially palatable chic lit target. The dignity in the tale of the nuns and the orphans was destroyed. It cheapens the story. No, she was not the heroine in this book at all, sorry! The humble, devoted, dedicated, compassionate nuns unintentionally overshadowed her in every aspect of what it means to be human and to sacrifice everything for the good of fellow human beings.There were just too many protagonists, a too detailed information overload and intense descriptions of the surroundings. However, the historical aspects of the story, with the nuns as protagonists, saved the book. Their stories were the magnificence this tale needed to make it an extraordinary read!I recommend it to anyone who is interested in this part of history and can appreciate the immense wealth of research being presented in this narrative. The story contains many elements of the Greek comedy, Lysistrata, written by Aristophanes, which was performed in 411 BC. in Athens. This aspect provides another enchanting dimension to the book. And then there is the sub-story of the swallows........!  Amazing!

All in all though, a really, really good read! I love this author's writing style and way with words. I will read her again. 

4 Stars
Fortunate by Andrew JH Sharp
Fortunate - Andrew JH Sharp


Genres: British novel, African adventure, Mystery, Historical fiction, Drama, Suspense, Zimbabwe
Original title: Fortunate
Number of pages: 368
Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Nook
ISBN:  1783060018 (ISBN13: 9781783060016)
Publishers: Troubador Publishing Ltd
Publishing date: July, 1st, 2013
Edition language: English

Purchase links: AmazonBarnes & Noble


Amazon Book Blurb:
From the winner of the 2010 Waverton Good Read Award comes another good read. Beth Jenkins – locum doctor, semi-bereaved wife – runs away from home at the age of twenty-eight and a half and becomes heroine of a revolution.
Locked into a lonely future by a cruel twist of fate, Beth reaches breaking point, leaves her husband, and flees to faraway Zimbabwe. But there she finds herself at the centre of a deadly struggle for the ownership of a farm. From a guest of honour at the President’s table to a disastrous decision that betrays a good man, her fresh start threatens to end in catastrophe. Does the land, and its painted rocks, hold clues to atonement and re-found love?
Fortunate is an intelligent, moving novel with a gripping plot about how to defy fate and about the relationship we have with the land we live on.



A true story embedded in fiction. From this angle the reader can expect that drama will be limited and characters cotton-wrapped. In a sense it is true.

Yet, Beth Jenkins, a locum doctor, young and somewhat lost in a one-year old marriage to the love of her life - who lost his mind, has enough on her plate, and enough inexperience to make a royal mess of things. Especially when she gets entangled with her patients such as Mr. de Villier. He needs a favor, and Beth has enough challenges, with her demanding mother-in-law, a new mysterious friend, Fortunate, and circumstances pressuring her, to evacuate her poshy life in England for the more intimidating African bush. 


Zimbabwe has just been liberated. What promised to be heaven soon proved to be hell-on-steroids for the inhabitants and a little bit better for tourists with pockets full of spending money. For illegal tourists it gets even more tougher and thrilling! The adventures are more intense, the ambiance volatile. That is where Beth's break from her own reality leads her to. She would make enough mistakes to last her a lifetime, but would gain enough new insight into a world her husband, as an archaeologist, discovered and loved. Her voyage will ultimately lead her home - a place she was unable to find before. Home. It is not what she thought it was.

It is a great story. A relaxing, informative, adventure. A soft-landing for anyone interested in reading more about the African lifestyle behind the glitz and glamour of an African Safari, but with the same intensity and feeling of being-there. Really being there. Nothing in the book is outrageously extravagant or overly exaggerated. On the contrary! ...

This is a really enjoyable book. It is multidimensional - covering the life of a young woman finding her path in life, meeting warm-hearted, sincere Africans, introducing tragicomedian politicians acting out their mafia-style looting of a continent's resources, and addressing loves lost and found. These elements serve a smorgasbord of different interests, which makes it an informative, great read. 

It is the second book of Andrew J. H. Sharp that I read. I am looking forward to the third, for sure. 



!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
5 Stars
From the Kitchen of Half Truths by Maria Goodin
From the Kitchen of Half Truth - Maria Goodin

PLEASE NOTE: Sold under the tile "Nutmeg" in Britain.


I loved the beginning of the book:

" I came out a little underdone. Five more minutes and I would have been as big as the other children, my mother said. She blamed my pale complexion on her cravings for white bread (too much flour) and asked the doctor if I would have risen better had she done more exercise (too little air). The doctor wasn’t sure about this, but he was very concerned about the size of my feet. He suggested that next time my mother was pregnant she should try standing on her head or spinning in circles (spinning in circles on her head would be ideal) as this would aid the mixing process and result in a better proportioned baby."

Meg's mom had an obsession with food which lead to the most outrageously funny fantasies about her daughter's first five years on this planet. At first I laughed, because the stories were so unbelievably creative and funny. I would not have minded to have a mother with an imagination like that all.

But truth be told, I was seldom so touched by a book that I sat with a mouth full of teeth, not knowing what to say in reviewing a book. If I blurted out 'magnificent', I still would have to explain why, in which case it will become necessary to quote this entire book in the review!

A 21-year old girl, Meg May, arrives home after earning a degree in science. She is coming home to take care of her dying mother. It is soon clear that mom's outrageous fibs and fiction hid a mystery about Meg's childhood that she was unable or unwilling to reveal to Meg. 

"Throughout her pregnancy my mother suffered all manner of complications. She was overcome by hot flushes several times a day which the midwife blamed on a faulty thermostat, and experienced such bad gas that a man from the local gas board had to come and give her a ten-point safety check. Her fingers swelled up like sausages so that every time she walked down the street the local dogs would chase her, snapping at her hands. She consumed a copious amount of eggs, not because she craved them, but because she was convinced the glaze would give me a nice golden glow. Instead, when the midwife slapped me on the back I clucked like a chicken."

As a young girl, the world of fairies and talking animals only brought rejection from Meg's school friends, which left her lonely and growing up fending for herself in the harsh world of school and mean neighborhood kids. Now, as a grown-up scientist, she wants her mother to finally face reality and tell the truth and stop dodging her own story. Meg is convinced that people who believed in fiction and fantasy were gradually rotting their brains. Their fictional world was destroying them day by day, like a maggot eating away at their brains. Life has taught her that science is the only way to address the world and it's challenges. Science is her way of addressing life. It is the social home where she finally is accepted and respected.

The gardener, Ewan, appears out of nowhere, starts talking to the trees, asks the frogs nicely to leave the garden and explains to snails why they are not welcome. Valerie, Meg's mom, finds a soulmate, which drives Meg to more antagonistic behaviour. But Meg has a few lessons to learn, of which the first one is that Ewan might sometimes have his head in the clouds, but his feet are firmly on the ground.

When Meg finally discovers the truth behind her mom's fantasy world, she is devastated. As she meanders back into her mom's past, she slowly begins the walk on the road of healing and understanding. Forgiveness comes slowly and quietly. 

It is the second mother-and-daughter book I read this year that had me in tears. First of longing and sadness, and then of joy. The biggest compliment a daughter can give her mother is to finally be able to say to her: " I am everything you ever taught me, even when you thought I wasn’t listening." 

My mom never had to tell me fairy tales like this. She did not have to rewrite my history for me like Meg's mom. This book shocked and shook me to my deepest core. This book is so multifaceted it is very hard to write a complete review on it without turning it into a dissertation! Apart from the delightful fibs and fantasy in the book, it also addresses a magnitude of emotions, perceptions, approaches and -isms that can enhance or destroy lives, depending on how we apply it to our own life stories. 

I recommend it to all mothers and daughters alike; to fathers and brothers who always wanted to know what the real magic in fairy tales is all about. 

I wanted to rate it five stars for excellent writing, originality and plot, but if it was possible, I would have added another five stars for the unbelievable emotional journey it invites the reader on. Nobody will walk away unscathed from this experience.

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
4 Stars
At Least You're In Tuscany
At Least You're in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life - Jennifer Criswell

What do you do when you want to make your dream your address, like Marcel Proust; you idolize Italian men; you imagine life on earth should be about all things Italian, and you have “Che palle!” or “Porca miseria!" or “Stronza!” down pat? And what if your mom periodically, okay at least twice a day, yelled "Vaffanculo" at your brother? Yeah, right, you declare your life as a lawyer in New York obsolete; you move to Tuscany - Montepulciano, to be exact - the lock stock and dog way. It is the place you were destined to be, right?

Right. And then reality strikes. Warm-blooded Italian men and hot-headed Italian mamas become part of morning coffees and late afternoon hang-outs on a stoop. Talks about food overshadow overworked burocracy, money running out and job-opportunities denied due to the Italian's principles and a stilted use of the language. Life gets tough, winters get more snow than the north pole and still no job, no money. Destiny is suddenly defined by resilience and hope. Optimism and depression become bed mates, while the town ensures that every passionate step will go through the gossip mill.

" I saw myself through the eyes of my closest friends who kept telling me how brave and how adventurous I was. Yes! Look at me! La Regina dell’ Avventura! The Queen of Adventure! But as I learned quickly enough, living a dream is very different from having a dream—and I was about to meet a whole different me along the way." 

Jennifer Criswell wrote an online journal of her day to day experiences settling in and applying for citizenship in Italy. It is still a delightful blog to follow. This book was born from it.

Russel Crowe's movie "A Good Year" had the same enchanting effect on me. It was about an arrogant, narcissistic Brit inheriting a wine farm in France and is forced to get to know the local population on their terms. It is due to this movie that I wanted to read this book. What a better way is there to experience a country than to read a book like this which is much more than a tourist trap, and much nearer to the core than a travel journal. This is the real deal. I looked up the town, Montepulciano, on the internet, but to be honest, I was so not impressed. The expiry date stamped all over it, is just as ancient as the town's history. Dull, dreary and dated. And those hills! Who wants to live in a place where there is no flat street of any kind in sight? But Jennifer brings the town and its people so colorfully to life, I am now more curious than ever! And of course I am going to try all those recipes. Her honesty makes the experience so much more than just a memoir.

Nope, I do not want to live there, ever. But I would love to visit and see how she is doing now. She did sell us the idea of bright red poppies scattered everywhere on an otherwise color-devoided landscape. Actually, she introduced all the colors of the rainbow to us through the culture, people, gardens, language and her emotional landscape.

Montepulciano it is then. Anyone interested in joining the trip? But do yourself a favor and read this book first. This is a light-read, but an entertaining one. 

5 Stars
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty


Sydney, Australia.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick had never aspired to anything other than ordinariness. She was a typical suburban mum:

  • - everything in her home strictly stacked and labeled; 
  • her children, Isabel, Esther and Polly, on a precision course - perfectly calendered and co-ordinated; 
  • - her community life impeccable - President of St Angela’s Primary Parents and Citizens Association; and
  • - the Tupperware queen of the region - one of the top eleven sales people in the country.

Her daughter Polly controlled the household with her obsessive interest in the Fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Tess Curtis and her niece, formerly- fat Felicity, were spiritually bonded at the hip since birth, sharing everything. Until Tess was confronted with the ultimate request to share something she held the most dearest. She had to get away. She took her son Liam and flew back home.

Rachel Crowley lost her daughter, Janie, to a murder. Embittered, stubborn, resentful and lonely - especially when her son Rob announced his departure to New York with his wife and two-year-old son, she quietly built up a revenge she would unleash one sunny day, but was blinded by hatred, heartbreak and sorrow. Her impulsive action not only blew up in her face, but exploded like an atomic bomb in the community.

The families had two things in common: the television program, The Biggest Loser and the St Angela's Primary School.

All the husbands in the book are much-loved, much-admired and perfect. Well, most of the time...

But one man, Connor Whitby, would put the bubbles in the blood in a hen's pen, when he established himself as the Physical Exercise teacher in the school. Formerly a boring accountant, married to a equally boring ambitious lawyer, he started over by training his body and mind, buying a motorbike, and getting his biceps and six pack pumped up in the gym. The hormonal cocktail he gets stirred up have all the ladies, school girls and mamas in town huffing and puffing in his presence - everyone, except Rachel. Not because she was too old (women are never too old!) but because of her daughter Janie.

So, when Pandora toppled a shoe box in Cecilia's attic, and reveal a letter, addressed to her, to only be opened after the death of her husband John-Paul (who was still very much alive), the stage is set for an emotional, mental and physical avalanche of drama, adventure and stupefying endings.

I agreed with the ending. In fiction-country it is dumbfounding and might even make a few million revenge-driven mamas very angry, but in reality it was the best decisions. I liked it.

You got it right. I adored this book. There's heartbreak, humor and harlots. There's mediocrity, madness and mayhem. But most of all, it was all perfectly stringed together in the rosary of this community's life, which not even the thirty-year-old priest would be able to handle. If he knew what some of these women were thinking in his services, he would have made a run for it!

In the end we are left with the possibilities of what could have happened if......
Just amazing!

This book resonates with millions of women all over the world, staying for several weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. I can clearly see why.

The Paris Lawyer by Sylvie Granotier
The Paris Lawyer - Sylvie Granotier
Genres: Murder, Mystery, Drama, Suspense, Thriller, Relationships, Family
Formats: Kindle, Nook
Pages: 316
ISBN: 9781939474988
Published date: February, 2013
Publishers: Le French Book
Edition language: English
Literary awards: Grand Prix Sang d'encre
Purchase Link: Amazon / Barnes & Noble


Paris( France)

Dr. Claude Monsigny regarded himself as the model father for his model little daughter, Catherine Monsigny. Catherine did not know her mother, Violet, who was brutally murdered as a young women. The gruesome event took place when Violet took her little baby daughter, Catherine, in stroller for a walk, never to return. He would combine the roles of both parents in raising her and protecting her against anything sinister that might possibly bring more harm to her. He made sure that a personal holocaust of Violet's memory would be executed in ensuring that his baby girl would never again be reminded of that day. Catherine was not allowed to ever talk about her again. She did not even know where her mother was buried. She did not even know about"Devil’s Wash, the place where Violet loved the rocks, the multiple waterfalls, the dark mystery and the crystalline cheerfulness."

As a young adult, twenty-five-year old Catherine Monsigny was on the brink of her first big murder case in the Creuse, France as a lawyer. Gaston Villetreix died and his African wife, Myriam (N’Bissi), was accused of murdering him. The case could mean a first big break for Catharine and she was willing to leave Paris and represent the accused in her home village in The Creuse region of France. However, before leaving Paris, she was defending Cedric Devers in an assault and battery case, in Paris, and she started to get flashbacks about her mother and the day of her murder. It would become more frequent when she arrived in the village, which startled and upset her since her memories were dormant for most of her life. 

She was just a baby, way too young, to remember what really happened that day. 

Her father never remarried. He never could replace the love he had for his wife. She was the girl he was waiting for his entire life. He instinctively knew that she is the change he has been waiting for, his future raison d’être. He will be the answer to her life’s detour. 

The following months would become a trial in more ways than one when she had to deal with two murder cases, her own love interests, as well as address betrayal, deception, secrets, suspicion and strange events. "Catherine remains calm. In any case, she has been reared never to raise her voice. Keep control. Stay calm. Emotional responses should be controlled, lest they overflow, heaving up debris like a tidal wave."

But most of all she had to learn the real meaning of love. Was it a hide-all for everything that can go wrong? Or was there really something like unconditional love. She also, for the first time in her life, had to address the suppressed emotions and memories behind her mother's death which kept her jailed behind high emotional walls. "Brutal, unexpected death, when it cuts off one life, interrupts others, which are cleanly amputated, left without any follow-up, no conclusion , eternally connected to nothing."

Myriam "suggested that love is a luxury enjoyed by those who do not have survival issues"

But despite everything she had to face "she(Catharine) wanted to believe that love had other faces and that when her turn arrived, she would be loved better."

"You build your house brick by brick, and even before putting on the roof, a catastrophe transforms it into a pile of stones, without you ever knowing who destroyed your universe one day or why."

While reading this murder mystery, and psychological thriller,par excellence the thought came up that this story was the work of a professional, without knowing anything about the author. All strings were nicely tied and secured. The ending was unique. In fact, it was one of the most refreshing and original I have read in a very long time. 

Thriller, suspense, emotional drainer, fast-moving, nail-biting. And finally you will understand what love really means. 

Five stars for keeping me glued and awake and beyond thrilled! You will walk away happy, that's guaranteed! Not only because of how the story played out, how the elements were securely blended together, but also because it was so brilliantly written.

Any adult, both genders, can read it.

I will undoubtedly read this author again.




“A beautifully written and elegantly structured novel of a woman's attempt to solve the central mystery of her life, along with several other mysteries along the way. It captures the reader from the first page, and never lets go.”
— Thomas H. Cook, winner of the Martin Beck Award, Barry Award for Best Novel, Edgar Award for Best Novel

Winner of the Grand Prix Sang d’Encre crime fiction award in 2011, for the first time in English.

As a child, Catherine Monsigny was the only witness to a heinous crime. Now, she is an ambitious rookie attorney in sophisticated modern-day Paris. On the side, she does pro bono work and hits the jackpot: a major felony case that could boost her career. A black woman is accused of poisoning her rich farmer husband in a peaceful village in central France, where the beautiful, rolling hills hold dark secrets. While preparing the case, Catherine’s own past comes back with a vengeance. This fast- paced story follows Catherine’s determined search for the truth in both her case and her own life. Who can she believe? And can you ever escape from your past? The story twists and turns, combining subtle psychological insight with a detailed sense of place.

"This is a complex tale, skillfully told, that will keep you in suspense to the very end.”
— Patricia MacDonald, Edgar-award nominee

“Full of surprises and twists that will keep you reading late into the night.”

“This is a suspense novel with an absolutely perfect atmosphere. The writing is subtle, racy, controlled. It is written with great art!”

“Everything in this book—the plot, the atmosphere, the characters, and the style—is perfectly mastered from beginning to end.”
— L’Echo


AUTHOR, screenwriter and actress Sylvie Granotier loves to weave plots that send shivers up your spine. She was born in Algeria and grew up in Paris and Morocco. She studied literature and theater in Paris, then set off traveling— the United States, Brazil, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, ending with a tour of Europe. She wound up in Paris again, an actress, with a job and some recognition. But she is a writer at heart, and started her publishing career translating Grace Paley’s short story collection Enormous Changes at the Last Minute into French. Fourteen novels and many short stories later, Sylvie Granotier is a major crime fiction author in France. She has met with continued success, and is translated into German, Italian, Russian and Greek. The Paris Lawyer is her first novel to be translated into English. This legal procedural that doubles as a psychological thriller is full of plot twists that bring us into the heart of French countryside, La Creuse, a place full of nineteenth-century landscapes and dark secrets. Sylvie splits her time between Paris and the Creuse.
5 Stars
The Detective's Daughter by Leslie Thompson
The Detective's Daughter (Book #1) - Lesley Thomson

Kate Rokesmith died on Monday, 27 July 1981 and her case would go unsolved into the cold case files. But detective Terence Christopher Darnell was determined to find out what happened and pursued the investigation after his retirement which would end on Sunday, 9 January 2011. 

For thirty years, the story would be dormant in police files, and all the people involved in Kate's life would continue with their lives. Her husband left the country, her four year old son landed up in a boarding school where he was bullied. For some life would continue normally, and for others her death would change everything.

When Terry dies of a heart attack, his daughter Stella, with her own cleaning company, assumes she will just clinically finish up his life and home, as she is doing with all her clients, never expecting to find what was waiting for her in his home. She believes they did not have a good relationship, her dad was married to his work, and she dissociated with him after her parents divorce. She did not really know him and felt no need to mourn his death at all.

To find the case still open and being investigated by her retired dad brought even more resentment and bitterness. How did it happen that she resented a dead woman this much? It was the murder case that ended his marriage and changed his relationship with Stella forever. Until she starts to read her dad's meticulous notes.

Between the time of his death and his funeral, her entire approach to life will be challenged, her memories rearranged, her values tested, and her mission in life changed.

There was thirty years of history in different people's lives that would open up for her. In less than three weeks, she would become something she never imagined possible and get to know people she never deemed necessary in her life. 

This is a brilliant detective murder mystery. Not only are there complete profiles of all the people involved, there are also the detailed memories of those who remembered the murder but never discussed what they knew. The secrets are stacked up, the veneer covering up the guilt, are polished to a satin shine. But Stella was not only known for her meticulous cleaning services, her ability to find grime in hidden places, she was also her father's daughter when it comes to detail.

This was a tremendous experience! Five stars for everything!

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
5 Stars
The Gospel of Silk
The Gospel of Silk - Stephen Lee
This is one of those books that I bought from reading the Amazon blurb and looking at the cover design. I thought to myself: This book is talking to me. Take it. Of course I did. 

The more I got into the story of Howard Godwin, the more enchanted I became. Memories of a young boy meeting a charismatic William J. Payne in his hometown, Rosewick, got me in the end so mesmerized, I could feel my heart jumping with joy when a little bit of time became available and I could open the book to continue reading. 

Payne’s presence created an element of suspense and excitement in the humdrum life of the town, but would also change the history of this community forever.
Excitement...I cannot find the right words right now. But it is there and I am smiling, shaking my head and reveling in the innocent observations of a young-man-in-the-making, about his town, his friends, his absentee father (although he suspects he was kidnapped anyway) , the racial discrimination against one of his best friends, Woodrow W. Wade - alias Scooter, and the many other people playing a role in cementing his personality through the events that played itself out around the establishment of a silkworm industry in their town. 

Payne persuaded them that this poor region, no less than the exotic realms of the Orient and Europe was eminently suited to the production of this luxurious fabric, that no more was required than honest, diligent industry of the populace to make it blossom into a booming region of ordered mulberry orchards, bustling silkworm works, fine homes and genteel cultured people.

Payne would turn everything mundane or momentous into something magical. He just had with it took to turn the little town Rosewick into a place to remember for life. He was educated, sophisticated, and so refined.

Grave yards; old spooky homes; a magician who convinced the Pinewood school girls - who 'flocked to him like pigs to slop, that he was dead and buried for three days and crawled out of his grave; sixteen-year-old Amelia Hendershot who drove trucks and smoked cigarettes - all of it in the year 1926, got me losing sleep to read just a little bit more before reality knocked before daybreak again.

Somewhere, while being lost in this engrossing tale, I was thinking about the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and Huckleberry Finn, and innocent little boys becoming proud men with a wealth of memories to share. One of the people who would influence Howard's approach to life was his grandfather, who was just a teeny bit more cagier old bird than a lot of people.

I wondered where I could add words such as “prestidigitation,” and "mellifuously" in my review. The book constantly had me seeking wisdom in the dictionary. What a rich thrill!

“All of life is magic,” Payne said. “Think of it -- our birth, our life, our death, the power of herbs to heal, the feeding of our bodies, the movement of the blood through our veins. “That we know a little of the mechanics does not remove the magic. That there are explanations does not make it less a mystery in the end. We understand so little, and we make our beliefs so small.”

Mysteries are what make life interesting. It could not have become truer when a murder took place in the graveyard of Rosewick. The events afterwards would rob three young boys of their innocence forever. 

How sad it will be if this book slips through the grid and get lost to an audience it so richly deserve. I cannot stress enough how overwhelmed I was by the richness of the story, the colorful descriptions of the villagers' lives, the meticulous detail of the surroundings, and the completeness of the tale. It is one of those rare treasures you only find a few times in your life.

I recommend it to anyone who believes that real life hides its own mysteries and magic. Besides, it is based on a true story.

This spur-of-the-moment buy was a brilliant decision!
5 Stars
The Kabbalist by Yoram Katz
The Kabbalist - Yoram Katz

Isreal. Safed, Jerusalem.

A murder mystery turns into a journey through history, starting at Shimon – Galilee, 149 AD, passing through the ages to March 6th, 2010, spanning the life of Yeshua Ben Yossef aka Jesus, The Roman Empire, the wars in Europe, including the Napoleonic wars, WWII, the Israeli wars.

The death of a monk, on January 16th, 2006 quietly fazed out as a burglary gone wrong. However, behind the scenes, another story is enfolding when a private investigator,(an ex-cop) Yossi Luria, gets involved in a case to solve a mystery for Jeanne de Charney, a masters degree student of France who is looking for information on her family.

His investigation opens up a hornets nest around secret documents which are claimed by both Christian (possibly also known as 'The Holy Grail') and Jewish religious groups. The origin of the "Kabbalah" becomes the center of all events, including the murders. For some keepers of the secret, the secret scrolls are an essential negotiating tool, for others it is proof that Jesus was not a Christian at all...

Who was Jesus really? History has taught us to remember who the authors of the books are. Each conqueror claims a different version. This book proves it.

Through these wars and deadening battles, these documents would be handed over from generation to generation for safekeeping and to protect the status quo. But there were different groups demanding possession and ownership and people would die in the process...

This book is a riveting, cannot-put-it-down, detective tale, embedded in a historical mystery that keeps the reader mesmerized while feeding astonishing information through the narrative as well. A brilliant book in which Dan Brown's"The Da Vinci Code" is contradicted with an equally profound hypothesis. 

The author says: "One thing I learned in the process of writing this book is that it is not too difficult to come up with a conspiracy theory and substantiate it. It is probably as easy as defending an old and improbable established myth. The lesson I take from this, and which I hope to share with you, dear reader, is that we should always use common sense and good judgment when examining a new and thrilling conspiracy theory, as well as when examining an old and established dogma. Both can be incredibly enlightening, terribly misleading or even both simultaneously– it is up to us always to keep an open, inquisitive and critical mind." - Yoram Katz. 

I do not believe in fate, but the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that it was fate having me read three books in a row about the French Revolution, the world wars and the clashes of Religious dogmas through the ages.

The more astounded I became, reading this book, the more I remembered the quote(anonymous): "Different people build different bridges to God, but instead of worshiping God they worship the bridges instead."

I did not like Dan Brown's commercially-driven books at all, mainly due to the hype that was built around it to sell it, and partly because it aimed to shock. I was disgusted when it ended. I gave all his books away, just wanted to get rid of it.

The Kabbalist, on the other hand, inspires the reader to rather think, to measure, to debate, with no shock-value intended at all, although the story is spellbinding. This book kept me reading and reading with the intention to read it again and digest more of the ideas and theories expressed in it. Although it is also partly historically correct, and partly an imaginary 'what if' - exercise, I can somehow relate more to it. 

The different viewpoints from the different religious denominations were presented objectively and I am sure many readers would love to debate these issues, since so many hypotheses were offered.

I recommend this book to historical fiction enthusiasts who also enjoy a mystery that could cover hundred of years and end up as the background to a fascinating murder. However, it is essential to approached this book with an open mind.

The characters were exciting, the clues well-hidden. The story fast-moving. The information staggering. Love plays a role - an endearing one. The combination of these elements worked perfectly. An excellent experience.

This book needs a big audience.

Five stars.

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
4 Stars
by Andrew J.H. Sharp
The Ghosts of Eden - Andrew J.H. Sharp

Three young boys, three adult men: a story of kinship, hardship and bonding.

No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place Maya Angelou

Michael Lacey is a successful British surgeon. He is returning to Africa to deliver a lecture at the twelfth conference of the Lake Regions Surgical Association in Uganda after leaving the country as a young boy with no inclination of ever returning. 

Yet, here he was, many years later, approaching his destiny and history with an indifference and arrogance he thought might protect him. His childhood memories floods back in astonishing detail. He meets Felice, a woman who becomes the bearer of all the supressed truths and wisdoms he never wanted to consider ever again, demonstrating the power of love and kinship he refused to acknowledge.

For the first time he trusts someone enough to share his story. But it would not happen as he planned and his eventual confrontation, with himself, will happen in a place he never thought he would become part of, yet, is inevitably destined for. Mother Africa did not forget him. He was just not interested, nor prepared, to accept it until he finally had to confront his old wounds which he, as a perfectionist and surgeon, could not heal himself. It would all be triggered when he had to save a life and was confronted by who he thought he was, and who he really was. 

This is the story of three boys. Between them, they represent the multiculturalism of Uganda. Michael the protagonist, was an English missionary child. As a young boy in Africa he was emotionally ripped apart by two major tragedies. The events would lead to a long line of broken relationships, a loss of his faith and innocence and an emotional sterilized state in which he felt safe.

Michael’s talent for memorizing text came in handy when he had to attend a party – a trick to compensate for his lack of small talk. He could recite long passages from ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’,Gray’s Anatomy, even the three chapters of the prophet Habakkuk or some other obscure part of the Bible. He wondered whether his gift was innate, or whether – a dark thought rising again – it was acquired through having to learn memory verses at his religious school.

There were the two brothers, Stanley and Zachye Katura of the Bahima tribe, growing up attending their father's cattle, learning to believe and respect the traditions of their ancestors as it was passed down from one generation to the next for thousands of years. But changes were coming: Stanley, the smaller and weaker brother, was to be sent to school, while Zachye must stay behind to tend their fathers wealth, his cattle. There was initially only enough money to send one of them into the British educational system offered in the local schools. But Zachye, as the oldest, insisted in going as well in competition with his brother.

The three boys would meet twice: as young boys, and again as adults. The first incident would shape their future through the choices made on their behalf by the adults in their lives. 

The second would finally define them as adults through their own choices in dealing with their pasts.

It’s a grand opera in Africa and anyone can be big on our stage – although,’ his tone darkened, ‘we have to accept that, as in opera, high drama is the norm.’ 

This is one of those narratives that invites the reader into an Africa that is not sold with much fanfare, nor elaborate pomp and ceremony. The story enfolds the richness of souls and minds superseding all the hype presented to the world. It explains and celebrates the heart of a continent in its diversity and richness instead. It explains why the people of Africa have no equal anywhere in the world; why everyone who ever touches her soil, never want to leave again and if they do, often do so heartbroken... 

The book brings a warmth and compassion for all the characters, good and bad. It explores the different meanings of happiness and love. It is one of those books about Africa that establishes a respect for the continent and her people, their values and history, without boring or losing the reader in the well-executed narrative. It is a blend of Alexandra Fuller's memoirs and that of Abraham Verghese, with a touch of Alexander McCall Smith added for good measure. Africa as Eden is confirmed, through the beautiful prose, for those who love her and for others who want to find her gentle soul. This is clearly not a book written by an outsider. This story comes from within and it shows.

0 Stars
Daughter of the God-King
Daughter of the God-King - Anne Cleeland
Miss Hattie Blackhouse has never been close to her parents...and no wonder, since the Blackhouses are renowned scholars who spend most of their time excavating ancient tombs in Egypt. But news of their disappearance forces Hattie to leave England and embark on a voyage that will reveal the long-buried secrets of her past. An encrypted senet board and a gold medallion lead Hattie on a perilous quest to track down her missing parents—and discover why people associated with the Blackhouses continue to turn up dead. What she uncovers is a secret that could alter the course of history...

Hathor Blackouse, also called Hattie, was the daughter of two famous archaeologists. She lived a quiet life in Cornwell, England, well taken-care of, well-loved by her governesses, Miss Swansea, and had a best friend Robbie. The Blackhouse-couple were always somewhere in Egypt on a dig, being away for months on end. She did not see them often.
Being a fiery filly, passionately outspoken, and not afraid of anything, Hattie concocted a plan to marry Robbie, but it did not work at all. In fact, she was left without a governess, who got married instead of her! It lead to the appointment of a new one, although Hattie was well beyond the age of needing one. But her parents were busy people. They did not even notice, or so Hattie thought. 
Bing became her next companion. One, who would eventually climb wisteria vines with her, teach her how to shoot and generally became much more than just an employee of the family. But before that would happen, Robbie embarked on more important matters to Europe. Hattie needed a plan B.
Napoleon The Great had just been defeated and banned to the island of Malta. The Congress of Vienna was held (1815) to re-establish the boundaries and political morphology of Europe after the mighty Napoleon's crusades. Egypt's Valley of the Kings became a hotbed of greed, of fame and lost fortune, of history and its damnations. European philanthropists, supported by wealthy sponsors, were looting the graves of the kings, amid a dangerous resentment smoldering in the Egyptian psyche. France and England were the forerunners, often than not resorting to murder and mayhem to score the most from the findings. Napoleon planned an escape. There were traitors and bandits among the high and the mighty. It became almost impossible to trust anyone. 
In her pursuit to marry Robbie, the adventure-loving, risk-taking Hattie and her fellow partner in these pursuits, Bing, left for Paris in the hope of finding Robbie. Thus began a journey that would lead to a lot more than discovering her parents missing and everyone around them barely civil about the issue. There were secrets scattered everywhere she went, obscuring her path to finding her parents and the truth. 
Hattie's entire life, and who she thought she was, would be shakin and rocked to its very core. She would soon learn that she was regarded as the daughter of the god-king, for some a reincarnation of Seti I's daughter, and named after the Goddess of Fertility. Her parents were archaeologists after all. 
But her arrival in Egypt, in search of her parents, would stir hills of angry ants and would become an adventure she would hardly survive if it wasn't for her temper, resilience and her companion Bing. It did serve a purpose to hold a priest at gunpoint, forcing him to conduct a secret ceremony, as well!
But Hattie would also learn the truth in Bing's words, ' we each make our own way; one's heritage matter not next to one's legacy'.
Daughter of the God-King is a historical romance which I would rather classify as a historical romantic adventure, if it was possible. Never a dull moment, and a surprising twist lies hidden behind the meaning of the 'god-king' in an excellent constructed tale. As a historical romance it works one hundred percent. All the elements are present to make it much more than just a love story. It becomes a murder mystery, a drama, a 'what-if'- fantasy par excellence. It is a feel-good masterpiece.


4 Stars
The Body on the T (Sgt. Windfower Mystery, #2) by Mike Martin
The Body on the T (Winston Windflower) - Mike Martin

It's brainy and brawny; a cod drill on the grill 

Grand Bank, southeast coast of Newfoundland Canada. This is the little part of heaven where RCMP Sergeant Winston Windflower, his girlfriend, Sheila Hillier, his sidekick , the incessant chattering Corporal Eddie Tizzard and his other interesting friends get to spend a quiet uncomplicated life. 

Their days are filled with culinary delights, chess- and card games and generally as little trouble as possible. But that was before a body is discovered on the T and a fortune cookie promises him exciting times ahead. With the cod fish industry going belly up, a few people in town have to find other ways of keeping the peanut-butter cheesecake affordable and on the menu for many, and their conduct promises to give a totally different meaning to the concept of exciting times...

For some people, trouble is their comfort zone, and where there aren't any, they create it in any which way they can. After all, a little bit more trouble can bring a little bit more monetary cushioning in their lives. They are a bunch of characters that would stir the pot considerably for Winston Windlfower: people such as Claude Lapierre; Roger Buffet; and Ernie Daley, the slime bucket, who does not mind the "hoccupational azzards" his aspirations would incur; and the mayor, Francis Tibbo, waddling in on the action, sputtering "What is going on in this community, Sergeant? Dead bodies being found by children as they play on the beach? A well-known community member dragged out of the water? People want answers, I want answers!" His attempt at righteous indignation came across as shrill and fatuous. Francis Fatuous. It fits indeed.

From then on, not only the cod tongues gets steamed up, or fried, with scallops on the side, dished out with a rosé sauce made of tomatoes, fresh, cream, black pepper, onions, and some Parmesan cheese. Like the cod and vegetables forming a scrumptious community on the plate, the people of Grand Banks are in for a serious drill on the grill of bad intentions and good guys stepping in to save the day in a thrilling adventure along the beautiful coast lines of Newfoundland. Nothing will ever be the same.

Like the sauce, the story promises to be just as tart and tangy. Exhilaration and drama drives this easy, decent read. It is a fast read, yet slow enough to include a complete image of life in Grand Bank Newfoundland. The detailed scenery, the history, dialects, recipes and many more information in the plot- building ensure that this is undoubtedly a feel-good read.

I recommend this book to the reader who enjoys a good story that would not spread gut and gore all over the ocean floor. It is clean, fresh and perfectly spiced.

Reviewed as member of the Kindle Book Review Team

More reviews about the book on Goodreads



Mike is a longtime freelance writer. The Walker on the Cape is the first book in the Winston Windflower mystery series. The Body on the T is the second.

4 Stars
Last Train To Istandbul
Last Train to Istanbul: A Novel - Ayse Kulin

Istandbul, Ankara, Paris, Germany, Egypt 1941.

"Spring arrived hand-in-hand with sorrow". Turkey was between a rock and a hard place. Britain demanded them to become an ally; Germany was threatening; Russia wanted Kars, Ardahan, the Bosphorus, and the Dardanelles. Choosing the losing side would have had dire consequences for Turkey. They learnt their lesson well after the first world war.

It was not only a unsettling time for Turkey, but also for Macit Bey. His wife, Sabiha, a girl who loved picnics and watching horse racing, suddenly turned away from life, as well as her motherly - and marriage duties. Their daughter, Hülya, did not receive any attentions from her anymore. She was obviously heading for a nervous breakdown, Macit thought.

Fazil Resat Pasa, and his wife Leman Hanim, had two daughters:
Sabiha, married to Macit Bey
Selva, married to Rafael Alfandari(Rafo).

Sabiha and Macit had a daughter, Hülya.
Selva and Rafo had a son, Fazil, named after his grandfather, Fazil.

However, grandfather Fazil did not care. Rafo was Jewish, and his marriage to Selva ripped both families apart. Fazil, the Muslim patriarch, rejected his daughter, and Rafo's Jewish family refused to accept Selva.

The couple fled to France where they hoped to start a new life - both as exiles of their families.

Hitler's rise brought fear to all the countries. Turkey's idea of remaining neutral still did not guarantee the inhabitants piece of mind. What it did offer to the citizens though, was a last train out of France for Turkish citizens, especially the Jewish ones. Selva and her baby were compromised by Rafo when all the Jews were rounded up to concentration camps. When in doubt, men were forced to drop their pants in public to identify Jews. Escape was hardly possible.

The incredible courage of the Turkish embassy staff, especially the actions of Macit and his friend, Taril, originally from Makatya in eastern Anatolia, lead to the evacuation of a large number of people out of harms way. A nine-day train ride back to Istandbul would become a journey through madness and mayhem and a discovery of true courage and intentions.

Freedom and love had to survive incredible odds in the ensuing challenges brought forward by the German's occupation of France. It becomes a tale of hardship, friendship, loyalty, and love between spouses, sisters, parents and children. Most of all it is a test for religious hypocrisy and the true meaning of forgiveness.

The involvement of Turkey, and the important role the country played in the war, have not been spotlighted in any popular renditions of the events. For this reason, The Last Train to Istanbul becomes a valuable contribution to history. The historical facts are detailed; the characters, complex - but endearing; the narrative, easy. The tale is multilayered, supported by a well-developed plot, underscored by a wealth of different emotions, and based on a true story. Everything in the book is intense and actually beautiful!

I recommend this book to anyone who values the principles of honor, integrity, and innocence in both the story as well as the writing style.