Saturday, February 16, 2019

Stacking The Shelves: February 16, 2019

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly bookish feature hosted @ Tynga's Reviews & Reading Reality.


It's been a while since I did a STS post but I got some great books this week that I wanted to share with you all. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Anarchy Found by J.A. Huss
Rock F*ck Club by Michelle Mankin        
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo 
Stain by A.G. Howard

I won Rock F*ck Club from Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookworms some time ago and Lexxie was nice enough to add Anarchy Found to the package as well because it took a little while to be send. Such a nice surprise! ♥

I also received my orders of King of Scars (Nikolai! ๐Ÿ˜) and Stain. I'm currently reading Stain and it's a really unique book so far. The story is inspired by the fairy tale of The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen.
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I hope you will all have a great weekend and happy reading! ♥

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Review: Mata Hari: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History

Title: Mata Hari: A Life From Beginning to End
Author: Hourly History
Publication: February 4th 2019

Genre: Nonfiction, History
Purchase Link: Amazon

Rating: 4/5

The original international woman of mystery, Mata Hari is maligned as a spy and a traitor. Having seduced a number of the most powerful men in Europe, she was accused of spying for both Allied and Central Powers during the First World War. Mata Hari’s biography tells a different story. From her remarkable transformation from a captain’s wife and mother in the Dutch East Indies to the most celebrated stage presence in Europe, Mata Hari fought for what she believed in. Yet what she believed in was neither France’s independence, nor Germany’s superiority, but her own personal quest for luxury, adventure, and love.

Inside you will read about...
✓ A Wife and Mother
✓ The Night of Horror
✓ Code Name H21
✓ Becoming a Spy
✓ The Trial and Execution of Mata Hari
And much more!

"A harlot? Yes, but a traitress, never!" 
— Mata Hari

There are certain figures in history that I feel really drawn to and where I can just never get tired of reading more books and learning more about. Mata Hari is one of them. I've read quite a few books about her life, historical fiction as well as nonfiction. So when I saw that Hourly History had published a book about her it really kind of made my day. I didn't hesitate and started reading it on my Kindle right away. I've read my fair share of Hourly History books by now but I gotta say this one has definitely made it in my list of favorites. I would actually count it to be in my top three even. 

I don't know what it is about Mata Hari but her life has intrigued me for quite some time now, which is why I always jump on the chance to read about her. Maybe it's because she was a Dutch woman and as a Belgian I've always enjoyed reading about Dutch people from history but even more than that she led a pretty fascinating life and she made things happen for herself and her career by sheer willpower, which was unconvential at the time. This makes her ending even more tragic, in my opinion. I truly believe she was injustly imprisoned and executed, whether or not she really was a spy for the Germans or the French. 

So if you're looking for a short but at the same time informative and interesting book about the life of Mata Hari, this is definitely one I would highly recommend. It covered the life she led before her marriage, during her marriage, the start of her career as a dancer and courtesan all the way through the first world war and to her untimely death. You can absolutely pick it up and finish it in the same day, just like I did, even in just an hour. I took my time and still finished it really quickly. I enjoyed it immensely!

5 interesting facts I learned:

  • Mata Hari also went by the names of Margaretha "Margreet" Zelle, Gretha MacLeod and Madame Rouseau
  • She was born on August 7, 1876 in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.
  • She was the eldest child and only girl in the family.
  • She married Rudolf MacLeod on March 1, 1856 who was 20 years older than her. The marriage didn't last and they ended up divorcing eventually.
  • Her codename was H21 (given to her by Karl Kroemer, the German consul in Amsterdam)

Some pictures related to Mata Hari:

Performing in 1905


In 1910 wearing a bejewelled head-dress


At her arrest


Statue of Mata Hari in Leeuwarden, Netherlands

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Check out my other Hourly History reviews:






Monday, January 28, 2019

Audiobook Review: Humanism: The Untold Tale by Chirag Patel & Rishabh Prasad

Title: Humanism: The Untold Tale
Authors: Chirag Patel & Rishabh Prasad
Narrator: Chirag Patel
Publication: 2nd 2018 by Lamplight
Genre: Nonfiction
Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo
Rating: 4/5

What is humanism? For a long time, I thought I knew. I was wrong, though. I thought it was a branch of philosophy that had been born in the Renaissance and had become the foundation for the Enlightenment and everything that came afterward. Looking back, I see that that was horribly Eurocentric. Of course, I learned about it growing up in England, so of course I would be told it was European. The real truth is hugely more sophisticated and ancient. Once I began to realise just how much verified contact between cultures there had been over the millennia and how much of what I was told was humanism was a remnant of an older belief system, I knew something closer to the truth.

This is the story of a history and tradition as long and complex as any major religion and far older than most. It has traced a conceptual path around Eurasia, holding onto remnants of each place. Today, part of humanism is the spiritual path trod in India, the ethics born in Confucianist China, and the legal system that came forth in medieval Islam. Secular humanism has hidden much of this history from us. In insisting that humanism is a science-based, post-Enlightenment European project, it has left us without the core spiritual and social components that humanism's rich history has left us.

This audiobook aims to redress the balance by exploring humanism's path from China, through India, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and finally, Europe.

©2018 Chirag Patel (P)2018 Chirag Patel

Too be honest, before starting this audiobook I only knew the bare essentials about humanism, especially connected to the cultural movement that took place during the Renaissance but I've always wanted to learn more so I'm really glad I had to chance to listen and review the audiobook. It taught me a whole lot more, I loved that and that's exactly why I enjoy nonfiction so much.

I'm very particular about the audiobooks I select and as my first one of 2019 I was very happy with how it turned out. It's definitely one of the better ones I've read in general. Chirag Patel (who also is one of the co-writers of this book along with Rishabh Prasad), was a great narrator and made it really easy to listen to the audiobook. He made me keep interest in it throughout and I never got bored, not even for one second.

Whether or not you like nonfiction or even the topic of humanism in general, I'd still highly recommend to give this book a read or listen to it like I did. It's only about 2 hours and 19 minutes long so it was a pretty quick audiobook (for me at least) because it was a highly fascinating and intriguing topic that I think will definitely make its readers think and be even more interested in learning more about it all.

5 interesting facts I learned:

  • Buddhism is one of the first real humanist philosophies
  • The real origins of humanism are spiritual in nature.
  • The first veriable examples of humanist thinkers occurred in around 600 BC.
  • Buddhism is the first ethical system that is virtue based rather than rule based.
  • The focus of Confucianism is behavior, not thought. 




Friday, December 21, 2018

Book Offer: Song of Sacrifice by Janell Rhiannon (Adult Fantasy)

Hey everyone!
I'm breaking my hiatus to post about Song of Sacrifice again. I was offered some complimentary e-copies of the book to gift to whoever I want so feel free to let me know if you want to read it. The book doesn't come out until December 26th so you'd get an early copy. You can scroll down if you want more information about the book. I've already messaged a few people I know were interested but I have more I can send to people so definitely don't hesistate to leave a comment below with your email or somewhere I can message you. You can also email me at stephanie.verhaegen@hotmail.com if you're not comfortable with leaving your contact information on here. 
This is open to anyone 18+
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Song of Sacrifice 
Janell Rhiannon 
(Homeric Chronicles, #1)
Publication date: December 26th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical

The heart of the Trojan War belongs to the women.
Mothers and daughters; wives and war prizes, whisper to us across time…
…remember our songs alongside the mighty men of myth.

As the Age of Heroes wanes, the gods gamble more fiercely with mortals’ lives than they ever have before. Women must rely on their inner strength and cunning to survive the wars men wage for gold and glory.
Clytemnestra of Mycenae struggles for control of her life after Agamemnon ruthlessly rips it apart. Leda of Sparta survives a brutal assault by Zeus, shouldering a terrible secret in silence. Penelope raises Ithaka’s sole heir alone, praying for Odysseus’ swift return. Thetis, the sea nymph, despairs of her son’s destiny and resorts to forbidden magic to save him. Hecuba of Troy mourns the loss of her second son to a dark prophesy. And Shavash of Pedasus prepares her daughter to marry the greatest warrior who ever lived.
In a world where love leads to war and duty leads to destruction, the iron hearts of heroines will conquer all.
Sing, Muse, sing their song of sacrifice…
Replaces Song of Princes as the first book in the Homeric Chronicles.
Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo




Author Bio:
In graduate school, Janell focused on the ancient history of Greece and Rome. Hooked by the “sword and sandal” world, she studied everything she could about mythology and Alexander the Great.
The Homeric Chronicles series is dedicated to merging dozens of Greek myths, including Homer’s epics, with plays, history, and archaeology. Her intent is to raise the heroines’ voices equally alongside the heroes, opening up a traditionally male focused genre to a female audience.
She lives in CA and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren. She has a pack of two big dogs and two cats.



Monday, December 17, 2018

Book Blitz: Library of Absolution by Jennifer Derrick — Excerpt + Giveaway (INTL)


Library of Absolution
Jennifer Derrick
(Legacy of the Book Mesmer, #1)
Published by: Crimson Tree Publishing
Publication date: December 17th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Alarick Brandon is the powerful wizard who operates The Keep, a refuge for magical people fleeing the persecution of the Ministry. A bitter realist, Alarick knows it’s only a matter of time until the Ministry succeeds in eradicating magic from the world—and exterminating all magical beings—so he has been careful to avoid any personal involvement with the people who pass through his sanctuary.
But when Elissa Stone arrives at The Keep, her village a smoldering ruin, and only her magical talent and a forbidden library left to her name, Alarick’s ordered world descends into chaos. Elissa is a Book Mesmer, a magical talent long believed extinct. She can enchant books, making them indestructible, unreadable…even deadly to unauthorized readers. But while her magic can secure a legacy for future magical generations, it’s not a skill that’s good in a fight, and certainly not one that Alarick sees any real use for. But there’s something compelling about a woman who defies the Ministry’s edicts against female literacy, and she seems determined to prove that knowledge is a weapon in its own right…
The first installment in an enticing new fantasy series by author Jennifer Derrick, The Library of Absolution is a compelling story of perseverance and determination in the face of persecution, in a Dark Age where hope is lost—and knowledge is the only thing left to fight for.
EXCERPT:
“You told me you left to look for books,” Alarick said.
“I did, in part. That wasn’t a total fabrication. I figured if I was leaving I might as well make the effort. If I was going to get killed by the Ministry, it should be in the service of something larger than myself. Fool that I was,” she whispered.
Alarick ignored the last part. She was only stating a fact. There was no need for him to comment further on her foolishness.
“But you had no intention of returning?” he asked. “Because of something you found in my library?”
The thought of her leaving with no intention to return gutted him. It was bad enough she’d wanted to leave at all; to put her safety at risk for the sake of some books. It was bad enough that he had failed to keep her safe; to understand what she meant to do until it was too late.
But even at the worst of it, he’d believed she intended to return to him. To the Keep. That was why he’d gone after her, because he believed she still wanted to be here. That she’d intended to run away forever was unthinkable. That he’d risked his life for someone who had run from him, who wanted nothing to do with him, was galling.
He choked back his rage and sorrow, replacing them with cool disdain.
“Well, then, are you going to tell me just what was so terrible that it would make you flee and never come back? I’m aware that nothing in that library paints me in a flattering light, but you already knew of my unpleasantness. Surely the disjointed ramblings of a young man could not be quite so damning,” Alarick said.
Of course, he knew the truth. There were some secrets in there so damning he could imagine exactly why she wanted to run from him. It was why he kept that room protected. Damn her for finding it. Damn her for finding him.
She turned her head away from him. Not that it mattered. She couldn’t see him. But he wasn’t going to let her damn his soul and cast him out of her life without at least facing him while she did it. He reached over and with gentle pressure turned her chin toward him.
“If you expect me to forgive you for your trespass, you will at least face me while you tell me exactly what sort of monster you believe me to be,” he said.
“I’d rather you tell me the story as the man you are now, not the boy who did the things I read. Tell me there’s a better ending to your story. Tell me that you are not the monster.”
He laughed at that.
“Would that I could,” he said. “But since you read my books, I’m certain you know there is no redemption for me. That is why you left, isn’t it?”
“No. I didn’t leave because I feared you to be irredeemable. My time with you has taught me that there is more to you than the boy in those books. I left because I feared there was no place for me in your story. And that I could not bear.”
He was about to say something, but suddenly he couldn’t remember what it was. What had she said? She hadn’t left because of his past deeds, but because she was afraid he had no place for her? Was that possibly right? He struggled to make sense of it in his brain. He’d expected condemnation, not… Was it disappointment he heard in her voice?
Before he could sort out a proper response, she said, “I’ve read your grimoire. It’s terrifying. Start with why you took such an interest in dark magic and go from there.”
Alarick said nothing at first. Why had he taken an interest in dark magic? The question was better phrased as, “Why not?” He looked at Elissa. She might not be able to see him, but she had an uncanny ability to focus on his face as though she could. And something in her eyes compelled him to tell the story that he’d never told anyone in its entirety.


Author Bio:
Jennifer is a freelance writer and novelist. As a freelancer, she writes everything from technical manuals to articles on personal finance and European-style board games. Her interest in storytelling began when she was six and her parents gave her a typewriter for Christmas and agreed to pay her $.01 per page for any stories she churned out. Such a loose payment system naturally led to a lot of story padding. Broken Fate, her first novel, earned her $2.80 from her parents.
Jennifer lives in North Carolina and, when not writing, can often be found reading, trawling the shelves at the library, playing board games, watching sports, camping, running marathons, and playing with her dog. You can visit her at her official website: JenniferDerrick.com.

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