Monday, October 21, 2019

ARC Review: The Octopus Curse by Salma Farook

Title: The Octopus Curse
Author: Salma Farook
Publication: November 1st 2019 by SeaShell Publications
Genre: Poetry
Purchase it on: Amazon 
Rating: 5/5

Science would have us believe that we are nothing but cell upon cell. I disagree. We are made up of stories. The stories we hear from our mothers, the ones we tell our daughters. The tales we share with sisters and friends. The ones we never say out loud, but are heavy on our minds and run like a fever in our blood.

There are a multitude of great divides between us; race, religion, cultures, the way we dress, the languages we speak, but the stories we tell bridge us together in the universal tongue of smiles, tears, pain and laughter. They remind us that, as women, we’re all chasing similar fairy-tales.

This book is a call to celebrate the bridges, delight in our stories and to focus on the joy in our lives right now, rather than racing behind the happily-ever-after. That will come in it’s own time.

Wow! This was such an amazing read. But the word amazing doesn't even begin to cover this book. It was brilliant and touched me to the core. This is probably going to come out as one big ramble on my part but this collection of poems  really blew me away! Last year I read the author's inspirational nonfiction (What Your Soul Already Knows) and this book also a huge winner for me but I gotta say that The Octopus Curse just confirmed that Salma Farook is such a talented author. I adore her writing so much!

I'm not someone who knows a lot about poetry or even reads a lot of it. I only do it every once in a while. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. I love reading poems and The Octopus Curse was definitely something very special. The poetry was beautifully written, of course, but also very powerful, thought-provoking and just a joy to read. And on top of all that amazingness there were also illustrations. They were so so so gorgeous!

I really loved all of the poems but these titles are some of the ones that were favorites of mine and touched something in me: The Sea And The Shore, I Thought I Would See You Again, Thoughts On An Airplane, When Will It Stop? and Angkor Wat, Cambodia.


Also please don't hesitate to check out my review of What Your Soul Already Knows by Salma Farook here.

About the author:
Salma Farook is a Seychelloise doctor, writer and poet. A mental health and positive-thinking advocate, she strongly believes in the role of interfaith harmony and the power of words in making a positive impact on the world.

She was born in Seychelles to two ‘very Indian’ parents. She grew up on the islands and went on to complete Med-school in India. She believes the scenic beauty of the Seychelles and the cultural impact of one of the world’s oldest civilisations gave her the best of both worlds.

Although adept at observing tiny quirks in people and fascinated with the mechanics of human relationships, she regularly pushes doors that very clearly say PULL.

She currently lives on Mahé with her husband. She loves, loves to hear from her readers so reach out to writer@salmafarook.com
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Friday, October 18, 2019

Review: Dark Matters by Michelle Diener

Title: Dark Matters
Author: Michelle Diener
Series: Class 5 #4
Publication: October 15th 2019 by Eclipse
Genre: Science Fiction
Purchase it on: Amazon
Rating: 5/5

The new instalment in the award-winning Class 5 series.

DARK MATTERS . . . taking matters into her own hands

A time bomb, waiting to go off . . .

Lucy Harris is on the run, not sure where she can turn to for help, or if help is even available. But even as her abductors chase her down, she realizes they don't just want to recapture her, they want to erase her.

When your very existence puts a planet at the risk of war, there's no choice but to do everything in your power to stay out of your enemies hands.

A predator . . . waiting for the chance to pounce

The powerful AI battleship, Bane, is accompanying the United Council envoy to Tecra to mete out the punishment the Tecrans have earned for breaking UC law. He revels in the power he's about to have over his old masters. But his mission isn't only to rain down retribution on the people who kept him chained for years, he's also looking for a human woman his fellow Class 5 thinking system mentioned in the final seconds of his life. Paxe admitted to taking Lucy Harris from Earth, and Bane has been looking for her ever since.

A warrior conflicted . . .

Commander Dray Helvan thinks the Grih made a mistake in not pushing for war with the Tecran, but he's had to accept the compromise, that he and the other envoys from the United Council will go to Tecra and dismantle its military from the top down. His mission is not one of his choosing, but when he and his team arrive, he's handed a very different job. While he distrusts Bane on principle, when the thinking system tells him there's a woman running for her life on the planet below, he will do whatever he has to to see her safe. And if that means war for Tecra, well, then it means war.

Note: Dark Matters can be read as a standalone novel but is part of a larger story arc which was started with Dark Horse, the first book in the Class 5 series.

First of all I want to say how glad I am that the author wrote this book because it had actually already ended in 2016 with the third book. So I feel really blessed that we have gotten a fourth book in the series. Out of her science fiction series, this series is still my favorite so yay I was so happy to have been able to read it. Now on to the review!

Right from the start this book completely hooked me. It was hard to put my Kindle away and to stop reading, it was that good. Starting this book, being already very familiar with the whole world (or should I say galaxy?) of this series it was like coming home and I really liked that feeling. Michelle Diener simply outdid herself with this one.

Dark Matters had a kickass but very relatable and human heroine named Lucy, a military but caring hero (who made me swooooon!) named Dray and a dangerous but loyal AI named Bane. There was no lack of action. In fact, this story was almost non-stop action and oh how I loved that! Never a boring moment! I'd even go as far as to say that this book might rank in my top ten favorite books of 2019 blog post at the end of the year. 

I have to say that Lucy, Dray and Bane made a very good team together. I just adored Lucy. She had been through a lot in the last few months since she was abducted from Earth. She was very brave but even so she wasn't afraid to show her emotions and vulnerable side and that's something I want to see more in the books I read. Dray was an amazing character as well. Knowing how important finding Lucy, he didn't hesitate to protect her and at the same time know that she wasn't just some damsel in distress. I might be in love with him. Sigh. The romance between them was secondary to the overall story but still Lucy and Dray had such chemistry, even though they just met. Definitely my favorite couple!

But my absolute favorite character was Bane, the thinking system willing to do anything to keep Lucy safe from harm, even destroying planets if he has to. I just loooove AI characters. And I especially loved how the author wrote them, not just in this book but in the other books of the series as well. I thought it was great how they all were so loyal to the human women and how well they worked together. I just loved it all, really!

Overall, Dark Matters by Michelle Diener was an explosive sci-fi adventure with romance and action all around! I absolutely loved this fourth book in the Class 5 series. For me it was the best book in the series (the others were fantastic as well though) and in case my gushing about it wasn't enough I will say that I absolutely recommend this book and the series to everyone.  



Author bio:
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction. Having worked in publishing and IT, she’s now very happy crafting new worlds and interesting characters and wondering which part of the world she can travel to next.
Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

When she’s not writing, or driving her kids from activity to activity, you can find her blogging at Magical Musings, or online at Twitter, at Google+and Facebook.


Check out my reviews of Michelle's other books:

{Science Fiction)
Sky Raiders (Sky Raiders #1) — 3/5★ 
Calling the Chance (Sky Raiders #2) — 4/5★ 
Shadow Warrior (Sky Raiders #3) — 4/5

{Science Fiction}
Dark Horse (Class 5 #1) — 5/5★ 
Dark Deeds (Class 5 #2) — 5/5★ 
Dark Minds (Class 5 #3) — 4/5★ 
Dark Matters (Class 5 #3) —  5/5★ 

{Science Fiction}
Interference/Insurgency (Verdant String #0.5)  4/5 & 4.5/5
Breakaway (Verdant String #1) — 4/5
Breakfeven (Verdant String #2)  4/5
Trailblazer (Verdant String #3)  4/5

{Paranormal}
Breaking Out Part I (part of Entranced Halloween Box Set — 4/5★ 
Breaking Out Part II — 4/5★ 

{Fantasy}
The Golden Apple (The Dark Forest #1) — 4/5★ 
The Silver Pear (The Dark Forest #2) — 5/5★ 

{Fantasy}

{Historical Fiction}
The Emperor's Conspiracy (Regency London #1) 5/5
Banquet of Lies (Regency London #2) 5/5★ 
A Dangerous Madness (Regency London #3) —5/5★ 

 {Historical Fiction}

 {Historical Fiction}
In a Treacherous Court (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker #1) 5/5
Dangerous Sanctuary (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker #1.5) 5/5
Keeper of the King's Secrets (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker #2) 5/5
In Defense of the Queen (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker) 5/5




Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Book Blitz — The Living Canvas by Pepper Winters: Review+ Giveaway (INTL)



Title: The Living Canvas
Author: Pepper Winters
Series: Master of Trickery Duet #2
Publication: October 15th 2019
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo
Rating: 4/5

The second and final book in the Master of Trickery Duet!

"Must be brave, stubborn, and impervious to the tempers of loved ones."
The first line hissed with history.

"Hours are endless, pay is non-existence, quitting absolutely forbidden."
The second line ached with truth.

"Able to function on no sleep, refrain from running when times get hard, and be more than just a living canvas but a lover."
The third thrummed with honesty.

"Other attributes required: forgiving, opinionated, and not afraid to tell me when I'm wrong. Must also enjoy being touched and kissed at any time of my choosing."
The fourth glowed with promise.

"Call or email 'YOUR HEART, HIS SOUL' if interested in applying."
The final made my future unfold.

The advert was so similar to one I should never have applied for.
A twist of fate that brought two destined people back together.
A job I would take in a heartbeat if the employer could offer such terms.
But I wasn't free.
Neither was Gil.
Therefore, my interview could never happen.

I've rated both books with four stars but I think that I enjoyed The Living Canvas just a little bit more. Lots of questions were finally answered. Not only for the reader but also for Olin. I was just so desperate for Olin to finally know the whole truth. I don't think it's a big spoiler when I say the story does have an happy ending but I honestly wasn't sure there would be one. I was really worried about this, actually. I couldn't see how this would all turn out good for Olin and Gil. Thankfully it did in the end. 

Olin and Gil were really great characters. I love them to death but the biggest surprise of this final book was probably the character of Justin. I already liked him well enough in the first book but he really stepped up in this one. The guy was a freaking saint. Such a damn good friend to both Olin and Gil. I just loved him so much. 

I always read Pepper's books pretty fast but I feel like this one I read even more quickly than usually. I just needed to know how it would end and my eyes were pretty much glued to my Kindle. This doesn't happen with every book so that shows how much I really enjoyed it. Pepper sure has a way with words. Her writing is always so special and I can't get enough of it.

Overall, the conclusion to this unique and hot Master of Trickery Duet was one emotional rollercoaster. But I've been so glad to have been on this amazing ride with Olin and Gil. Their story was pretty tough in these two books but it was such a great love story that nobody should miss out on. 



About the author:
Pepper Winters is a multiple New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestseller.

After chasing her dreams to become a full-time writer, Pepper has earned recognition with awards for best Dark Romance, best BDSM Series, and best Hero. She's an multiple #1 iBooks bestseller, along with #1 in Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, and Erotica Thriller. She's also honoured to wear the IndieReader Badge for being a Top 10 Indie Bestseller.

Pepper is a Hybrid Author of both Traditional and Self-published work. Her Pure Corruption Series was released by Grand Central, Hachette.

Her books have garnered foreign interest and are currently being translated into numerous languages, including already released titles in Italian, French, German, Hebrew, and Turkish.
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway:
Signed copy of The Living Canvas by Pepper Winters
Open internationally
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Thursday, October 10, 2019

Review: When God Had a Wife: The Fall and Rise of the Sacred Feminine in the Judeo-Christian Tradition by Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince


Title: When God Had a Wife: The Fall and Rise of the Sacred Feminine in the Judeo-Christian Tradition
Author: Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince
Publication: December 3rd 2019 by Bear & Company
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Religion, Spirituality
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | Kobo
Rating: 4/5

Reveals the tradition of goddess worship in early Judaism and how Jesus attempted to restore the feminine side of the faith

• Provides historical and archaeological evidence for an earlier form of Hebrew worship with both male and female gods, including a 20th-century discovery of a Hebrew temple dedicated to both Yahweh and the warrior goddess Anat

• Explores the Hebrew pantheon of goddesses, including Yahweh’s wife, Asherah, goddess of fertility and childbirth

• Shows how both Jesus and his great rival Simon Magus were attempting to restore the ancient, goddess-worshipping religion of the Israelites

Despite what Jews and Christians--and indeed most people--believe, the ancient Israelites venerated several deities besides the Old Testament god Yahweh, including the goddess Asherah, Yahweh’s wife, who was worshipped openly in the Jerusalem Temple. After the reforms of King Josiah and Prophet Jeremiah, the religion recognized Yahweh alone, and history was rewritten to make it appear that it had always been that way. The worship of Asherah and other goddesses was now heresy, and so the status of women was downgraded and they were blamed for God’s wrath.

However, as Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince reveal, the spiritual legacy of the Jewish goddesses and the Sacred Feminine lives on. Drawing on historical research, they examine how goddess worship thrived in early Judaism and included a pantheon of goddesses. They share new evidence for an earlier form of Hebrew worship that prayed to both male and female gods, including a 20th-century archaeological discovery of a Hebrew temple dedicated to both Yahweh and the goddess Anat. Uncovering the Sacred Feminine in early Christianity, the authors show how, in the first century AD, both Jesus and his great rival, Simon Magus, were attempting to restore the goddess-worshipping religion of the Israelites. The authors reveal how both men accorded great honor to the women they adored and who traveled with them as priestesses, Jesus’s Mary Magdalene and Simon’s Helen. But, as had happened centuries before, the Church rewrote history to erase the feminine side of the faith, deliberately ignoring Jesus’s real message and again condemning women to marginalization and worse.

Providing all the necessary evidence to restore the goddess to both Judaism and Christianity, Picknett and Prince expose the disastrous consequences of the suppression of the feminine from these two great religions and reveal how we have been collectively and instinctively craving the return of the Sacred Feminine for millennia.

I'm gonna jump right in and say that When God Had a Wife: The Fall and Rise of the Sacred Feminine in the Judeo-Christian Tradition has been one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. I randomly requested it on NetGalley because I liked the title and I wanted to read a nonfiction. I'm obviously very glad I did because I highly enjoyed this book and I consider it a 2019 favorite of mine now. 

I am a history lover and I've always been intrigued by anything biblical ever since I was a child but I wouldn't say this book is something I'd pick up easily. I just don't read a lot of books that deal with religion or spirituality even though I do find these interesting topics. So now I feel I definitely need to read more books that are similar to this one, or at least look into the authors' other books. I'm sure they will be equally intriguing.

A big chunk of this book, which was mostly the first part, dived into the early days of Judaism and where Asherah (Yahweh's wife) fit in it. This part was the most fascinating to me. I could hardly stop reading this particular section of the book. It was not only something interesting to read about but also very thought-provoking. 

Another thing I feel I just gotta mention is that this was a very well-researched book and that the authors definitely know what they're talking about. This is another reason why I can't wait to read more books written by them, actually. I know this book will probably not be everyone's cup of tea. I must admit that even for me all the information of the Sacred Feminine and everything it entails made my head spin but it was well worth the read. I'm so glad I stumbled upon it!

About the authors: Before their serendipitous first encounter in 1989 on a doorstep in Swiss Cottage, north London, Lynn, originally from the city of York, was a journalist, editor of books and several major partworks (she was deputy editor of the seminal 1980s publication The Unexplained), broadcaster and television presenter. Clive, a Londoner, had worked for several years as a systems analyst for a major national charity.

However, after meeting they abandoned their 'proper' jobs to concentrate full-time on research into religious and historical mysteries, which became a successful and enduring joint career in authorship. This took them on an amazing journey, often frustrating and sometimes even dangerous, but never less than fascinating, through subjects such as the Shroud of Turin (Turin Shroud: How Leonardo da Vinci Fooled History) and the origins of Christianity (The Templar Revelation), the hijacking of the myths of ancient Egypt by intelligence agencies (The Stargate Conspiracy), and the political skulduggery of the Priory of Sion (The Sion Revelation).

Lynn and Clive met the charismatic researcher Stephen Prior who, together with his Edinburgh-based friend and colleague Robert Brydon, had a fascination for the wartime mysteries of Rudolf Hess' flight to Scotland in 1941 and the death of the King’s brother, George, Duke of Kent, in a plane crash there a year later - which they had come to believe were intimately connected. When Stephen and Bob suggested they collaborate with Lynn and Clive on a book, they jumped at the chance - and so the foursome's three-book career began with Double Standards: The Rudolf Hess Cover-up, followed by War of the Windsors and Friendly Fire.

However, in 2003 tragedy struck. Stephen died, aged 56, and Lynn and Clive returned to their more usual topics, with The Sion Revelation, revised and updated editions of Turin Shroud and The Templar Revelation, and The Masks of Christ.
Despite a tendency to attract surreal and dramatic happenings, their work has taken them to many exciting and mysterious places, from Egypt to the 'heartland of heresy', the south-west of France, from the USA to Ireland, and all over the British Isles, sometimes with film crews, sometimes alone.

Over the years they have appeared on many television and radio programmes - their Shroud/da Vinci research being a particular hit with the Leonardo-loving Japanese - including the James Whale Show, This Morning, Ireland's Big Bite, Sky News, and Good Morning America.

They are also professional speakers, appearing regularly for the Saunière Society, the Questing Conference and the Fortean Times UnConvention, besides enjoying a host of one-off speaking dates, from all over the UK, Holland and Germany to the USA.

Lynn and Clive's most recent book is The Forbidden Universe: The Occult Origins of Science and the Search for the Mind of God, published in the UK and USA in March 2011.

Lynn and Clive both live in London.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read.
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Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau
Expected publication: January 16th 2020 by Endeavour Quill
Genre: Historical Fiction , Mystery & Thrillers

The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

The invitation to the luxurious Oriental Hotel a mile from Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of nearby Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything…even murder.

Extravagant, intoxicating and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class and dangerous obsession.


I highly enjoyed Nancy Bilyeau's previous book The Blue (click here to read my review of it) so of course I'm immensely looking forward to reading her new upcoming novel, Dreamland. The setting alone is giving me heart eyes and I'm just in love with the cover. I really can't wait to read it! I wished for it on NetGalley so hopefully the publisher will grant my wish. *Fingers Crossed* 😍



Monday, October 7, 2019

My Top 5 Favorite Podcasts

This isn't necessarily a bookish topic but this year I've gotten really into podcasts so I wanted to share with you all my top 5. This was really hard to decide because I have so many favorites but I didn't want this post to be too long so I decided to pick five but I might do a part two at some point. They're arranged in no particular order.
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Ancient History Fangirl

This podcast is hosted by Jenny Williamson and Genn McMenemy and is about ancient history (obviously). They mostly cover the Greco-Roman history but sometimes they branch out. It's one of the most funny and engaging podcasts that I have come across and it being a ancient history podcast I love it so much.

Favorite episodes: Amazons: Warrior Women of Greek Mythology (+ trilogy about Amazons), Julius Caesar and the Pirates’ Ransom (+ series about Caesar), Stuff Alaric Said

You can find Ancient History Fangirl on all podcast platforms.


Let's Talk About Myths, Baby!

This podcast is hosted by Liv and she is freaking hilarious. It's a Greek and Roman mythology podcast (though mostly Greek). I was sad to be all caught up on it because I always have such a great time listening to it but that makes it all the more fun when I new episode airs. Love it so much!


You can find Let's Talk About Myths, Baby! on all podcast platforms.


Fuckbois of Literature Podcast

This podcast is hosted by Emily Edwards (where she talks to guests) and is more related to literature, as you can probably tell. This is a really funny and relevant topic because there are SO MANY fuckbois in literature. I haven't listened to all episodes yet because I only recently started the podcast but what I've heard so far I've been loooving!


You can find Fuckbois of Literature Podcast on all podcast platforms.


Mile Higher Podcast

This podcast is hosted by Kendall Rae and her husband Josh Thomas. Kendall is also one of my favorite YouTubers. They have a different topic each week, from true crime to aliens to various mysteries and woke subjects. I usally watch their podcast on YouTube instead of listening on my phone because they're both so fun to watch and sometimes their cute pets appear. Very high recommended podcast! (My fave actually).


You can find Mile Higher Podcast on all podcast platforms.


Greek Mythology Retold

This podcast is hosted by Janell Rhiannon. She is also the author of the Homeric Chronicles Series, which are favorite books of mine. This is a podcast on Greek Mythology and the Homeric Chronicles. You can also find Janell and the episodes on YouTube. I think this podcast is super interesting and female centered. Definitely check it out!


You can find Greek Mythology Retold on all podcast platforms.

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If you also listen to podcasts: what are your favorites? 


Friday, October 4, 2019

Review: Spartacus and the Slave Wars: A History From Beginning to End by Hourly History

Title: Spartacus and the Slave Wars: A History From Beginning to End
Author: Hourly History
Publication: January 16th 2018
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4/5

Spartacus has passed into legend as an enduring symbol of righteousness in his noble battle for the freedom of man. This transcendent icon did not appear from the aether and had plenty of inspiration from the brave and often forgotten figures that stood before him. The actions of Spartacus and his rebellion against the Roman Republic offer a unique look into the details of commercial slavery in Rome, and its long-lasting effects on the evolution of a nation.

Inside you will read about...

✓ The Roman Acquisition of Slaves
✓ Life as a Roman Slave
✓ Runaway Slaves and the Stirrings of Rebellion
✓ The First and Second Servile Wars
✓ The Mysterious Origins of Spartacus
✓ Spartacus Leads an Army
✓ A Rebellion Defeated
And much more!

This book will take you through the Servile Wars, also known as the Slave Wars, which were a series of slave rebellions over a 60-year period of the Roman Republic’s history. Occurring in relatively quick succession, each Servile War increased in strength and fervor, until Spartacus and his allies nearly managed to bring the Republic to its knees.

Any fiction or nonfiction book set in ancient Rome, even before the era of emperors, has my full interest. I also think everyone has at least heard about Spartacus and his rebellion against slavery and against Rome. So obviously I didn't hesitate to read this book as soon as I got my hands on it. I'm so glad I was not disappointed!

This book went quite deep into the business of slavery in the ancient world and how it shaped Roman life. There are chapters about the Roman acquisition of slaves, about runaway slaves and the first stirrings of rebellion as well as the mysterious origins of Spartacus and much more. To be honest, I got a lot more information about it all than I had thought I would. I was really happy about that!

Overall, Spartacus and the Slave Wars: A History From Beginning to End by Hourly History was a riveting and quick read that goes deep into the Servile Wars and Spartacus. It had barely 40 pages so it can easily be read in one sitting but even so it was a big page-turner full of fascinating facts. Highly recommended! 



Check out my other Hourly History reviews: