Saturday, August 31, 2019

Stacking The Shelves: August 31, 2019

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

Bought at bookstores (Fnac & Standaard Boekhandel):
Come Close by Sappho
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Bought at secondhand store: (Opnieuw & Co):
Alexander: The Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
The Illiad by Homer
The impressionists by Vanessa Whinney

Have you read any of these books? Or which one do you think you'd like to read?

Friday, August 30, 2019

Cover Reveal: The Living Canvas by Pepper Winters

Hello bookworms and welcome to the cover reveal of The Living Canvas by Pepper Winters, the sequel to The Body Painter which I highly enjoyed. I can't wait to read The Living Canvas and I'm just in love with this cover. It's perfect!
The Living Canvas 
Pepper Winters
(Master of Trickery Duet #2)
Publication date: November 15th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

“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.

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

Sequel to:

Author Bio:
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.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Review: Portrait of a Conspiracy by Donna Russo Morin

Title: Portrait of a Conspiracy
Author: Donna Russo Morin
Series: Da Vinci's Disciples #1
Publication: May 10th 2016 by Diversion Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
Rating: 3/5

One murder ignites the powder keg that consumes a Florence under the iron rule of the powerful Medici family. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a dangerous plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed.

Seeking to wrest power, members of the Pazzi family draw blades in church and slay the beloved Giuliano. But Lorenzo de’ Medici survives the attack, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe.

Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought-after painting before she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era—the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci.

It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place.

I'm a big fan of books set in 15th century Florence. Anything that's related to Leonardo da Vinci, the de' Medici family or anything at all about the Renaissance has my full attention.

I definitely liked Portrait of a Conspiracy. It was a quick read and throughout the whole book I just kept thinking oh I'll just read one more chapter and before I knew it I had finished the story.

However, I couldn't give the book more than three stars. Some of the plot twists I just didn't particularly liked and some of the characters' actions didn't sit well with me either.

I do think that the story had some great and powerful female characters that were really strong. This I did like a lot because we definitely need more of this in books.

I also liked how atmospheric the writing was and how it made me feel as if I was actually in 15th century Florence.

Overall, I wish I had loved Portrait of a Conspiracy by Donna Russo Morin more but I did enjoy the story in general. The writing was great and the characters, especially the female ones were fascinating and amazing to read about.

About the author:
Donna Russo Morin was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Her writing endeavors began at age six and covered such timely topics as The Pink Pussy Cat for President and The Numbers 2 and 4 are in Love.

Traveling through adolescence on the wings of the ‘60s gave Donna a lot of grist for her writing mill. Feminism, civil rights, the Vietnam War were all a disturbing yet highly motivating muse. Donna found her voice in fiction and with the appearance of a new horror writer on the book scene, a little known author named Stephen King, she turned her pen to the gruesome and the grotesque.

After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Donna worked in marketing and advertising for large corporations and small non-profit arts organizations. When she had her children, she knew with a certainty that she needed to show them, by example, that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

In addition to writing and teaching writing (in the classroom and online, Donna is a professional author consultant/editor with more than thirty years of experience. She's also worked as a model and actor since the age of seventeen when she did her first television commercial for Sears. Since then she has appeared in more than thirty television spots and print ads, everything from changing the oil in her car (that was acting) to modeling fur coats. She also appeared in three episodes of Showtime’s THE BROTHERHOOD, as well as in Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED. She is currently at work blending her two careers and is now writing for the screen as well.

Donna lives peacefully, close to the beautiful shoreline of Rhode Island that she loves so much. Her two sons--Devon, an opera singer and Dylan, a trained chef--will always be her greatest works.
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Monday, August 19, 2019

Review: The Body Painter by Pepper Winters

Title: The Body Painter
Author: Pepper Winters
Series: Master of Trickery Duet #1
Publication: August 16th 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Purchase it on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, iBooks, Kobo
Rating: 4/5★ 

“Must be slim, able to stand for long periods of time, and be impervious to the cold.”

The headline caught my attention.

“Hours are negotiable, pay is minimal, clothing absolutely forbidden.”

The second line piqued my curiosity.

“Able to hold your bladder and tongue, refrain from opinions or suggestions, and be the perfect living canvas.”

The third made me scowl.

“Other attributes required: non-ticklish, contortionist, and obedient. Must also enjoy being studied while naked in a crowd.”

The fourth made me shudder.

“Call or email ‘YOUR SKIN, HIS CANVAS’ if interested in applying.”

The final made my heart race.

I should’ve kept scrolling past the advertisement.

I should’ve applied for the boring receptionist job at minimum wage.

I should’ve clicked on any other job where I got to keep my clothes on.

But I didn’t.

I applied.

My interview is tomorrow…

Lately it's taking me longer to get through books and this is fine because I want to make sure I enjoy the stories I'm reading but with this new Pepper Winters book it only took me about four days to read it and that's really fast for me. This means that I really, really enjoyed this story. I was pretty hooked!

Olin and Gil... what can I say about them except that their story made my heart ache so much. I loved the deep and pure connection they had ever since they were teenagers, the pull and push between them as adults and their sensual chemistry that was simply explosive. The Body Painter was definitely one of the author's more erotic books. I mean, her books are always pretty erotic but this one was extra hot hot hot. 

Not surprisingly the writing was extremely beautiful. I'm used to Pepper's prose being exquisite but she once again really slayed it in that department. I just can't get enough of her writing. I could read her books all day long, really.

Now I'm not going to say this was the best book I've ever read by Pepper Winters because some things in the story were a little predictable and Gil not being able to tell his big secret when Olin kept asking over and over was also getting a tiny bit frustrating eventually but I won't say that took a lot away from my enjoyment. Of course there was a cliffhanger at the end so if you don't like those I'd suggest you wait until the second book (which is also the last one) is released because it's a big one. 

Also, this is not Pepper's darkest book ever. She's written much darker stuff and this one isn't a dark romance but there are certain things happening, especially to Gil when he was in high school that aren't the easiest to read about. So that deserves a bit of a warning, I'd say.

Overall, The Body Painter was a great read that I couldn't get enough of. I'm considering it one of my favorite books by Pepper Winters for sure. It wasn't just a romance, it was also thrilling and mysterious as well. You won't know what's going on for a while and although some things will be revealed, even when you reach the end there are still so many questions. I can't wait for the second book. I need it in my life now! 

About the author:
Pepper Winters is a multiple New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today International 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. With 20 books currently published, she has hit the bestseller charts twenty-nine times in three years.

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, Hebrew, German, and Turkish. Audio Books for her entire back-list will be available in 2018.
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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Review: Agrippina: The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World by Emma Southon

Title: Agrippina: The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World
Author: Emma Southon
Publication: August 6th 2019 by Pegasus Books
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Ancient History
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google | Kobo
Rating: 1/5(DNF)

In her own time, she was recognized as a woman of unparalleled power. Beautiful and intelligent, she was portrayed as alternately a ruthless murderer and helpless victim, the most loving mother and the most powerful woman of the Roman empire, using sex, motherhood, manipulation, and violence to get her way, and single-minded in her pursuit of power for herself and her son, Nero.

This book follows Agrippina as a daughter, born in Cologne, to the expected heir to Augustus’s throne; as a sister to Caligula who raped his sisters and showered them with honors until they attempted rebellion against him and were exiled; as a seductive niece and then wife to Claudius who gave her access to near unlimited power; and then as a mother to Nero—who adored her until he had her assassinated.

Through senatorial political intrigue, assassination attempts, and exile to a small island, to the heights of imperial power, thrones, and golden cloaks and games and adoration, Agrippina scaled the absolute limits of female power in Rome. Her biography is also the story of the first Roman imperial family—the Julio-Claudians—and of the glory and corruption of the empire itself.

Agrippina: The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World was one of those books where I could say what the fuck did I just read. It started out good enough and I was genuinely liking the beginning but it wasn't long until I started losing interest in this book and getting pretty frustrated, which is a real shame because I was very much looking forward to this book. And it wasn't a cheap one to buy. I did learn more, which was great but I wish I had enjoyed it more in general as well.

I had only 120 pages left but I just couldn't bother with this book anymore so it was a DNF for me. I figured my opinion wasn't going to change anymore and I'd rather focus on books that I'd enjoy more. With that said, the thing that put me off the most was the informal way this book was written. I'm not saying this is a bad thing because sometimes it was pretty funny the way the author would say or explain certain things but sometimes it was a little too much. 

Another thing that bothered me was the weird swearing. I don't mind swearing at all no matter if it's in fiction or nonfiction but again after a while it just became too damn much. Also, the repetitive use of the word bonking (which means fucking for those who don't know) was also becoming quite annoying. This may be a personal thing but I prefer the word fucking or literally any other synonym. Honestly, it made me want to scream.

Did I learn more about Agrippina's life and ancient Rome in general? Yes. But was it worth it? Not so much, unfortunately. I totally get what the author was going for, though. But to me it just fell flat. I guess I prefer my nonfiction books a little less informal and a little more academic.  

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Review: Roman Empire: The Ancient Superpower by History Titans

Title: Roman Empire: The Ancient Superpower
Author: History Titans
Publication: August 9th 2018
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Ancient History
Purchase it on: Amazon
Rating: 3/5

Interesting look into the rise of the Roman Empire

The Ancient Romans were known for many things—from the lavish lifestyle of those who were considered wealthy citizens to the great architecture created during their time. When most people think of Ancient Rome, however, they think of a military superpower. Rome is considered perhaps the greatest military superpower of their time. The country conquered countless lands in its quest for greater power and expansion of its empire.
Many people know the story of how Rome rose and fell—this book is going to focus on the rising. It will discuss the events that defined Rome and aspects of the country that defined its power.

You will discover.....

Early Days of The Roman Empire
Thirst For Power
Warfare and Weaponry
Wars and Battles
Major Generals and Emperors
And Much More inside this book!

Learn about the Roman Empire without reading a boring text book just click "buy now"!

Again a book about ancient history? Will I ever get bored of reading about it? Never! I just had to get my hands on this one because I can't read enough books about ancient Rome. I'm obsessed, okay. 

This book was short but enjoyable for sure. I can't say it's the best nonfiction I've ever read about this subject but it also isn't a bad read either. I also feel like I should mentioned that there were some typos I spotted that made me cringe a little bit because this is a finished copy and there shouldn't be any typos, in my opinion. But other than that I can't really think of anything negative to say.

I really liked reading about the history of ancient Rome's military because I'm most fascinated with that for some reason even though I'm not the biggest fan of war. Except when it comes to the ancient world, apparently. I Especially liked learning more about all the different weapens and legions. That part I really enjoyed.

This quick and easy to read book about the rise of the Roman Empire would be perfect and best suited for people who don't know a lot about the subject of ancient Rome but are eager to learn more about this fascinating era.
5 interesting facts I learned:

  • Most of the historical writing of Rome did not start until late in the 3rd centry BC.
  • Rome started as a small farm town upon its founding, relying heavily on agriculture to feed and finance their people.
  • Even though many Christians had chosen to flee, Romans were generally accepting of the culture of others.
  • Rome reached its peak of territorial expansion in 211 AD.
  • Roman economics really flourished during the agricultural revolution.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Review: Petra: The History of Jordan's Rose City by History Titans

Title: Petra: The History of Jordan's Rose City
Author: History Titans
Publication: July 31st 2019
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Ancient History
Purchase it on: Amazon
Rating: 4/5
Interesting look into the history of PETRA

While Petra’s fame might often come second to things like the Egyptian pyramids at Giza, ancient Greece, or the Great Wall of China, you can now see that the Rose City certainly deserves its place under the Sun as one of the most precious jewels of our collective, human heritage. Petra surely has a surplus of beauty and other kinds of visual appeal, but you can now see that this is only half of the picture.
Our world is filled to the brim with such wonders, bestowed upon us by countless different cultures from every corner of the planet. Some are older or more renowned than others, but all remnants of civilizations of the past have one thing in common: they tell us invaluable stories. These are stories of lives led by people who seem infinitely distant from our perspective but might have as well lived yesterday as far as the grand scheme of time is concerned. They might have had a different outlook and daily life, but the essence of humanity remains fundamentally unchanged.
A great history lesson if you have a general interest or plan on visiting Petra Jordan!

Inside you will read about...

Early Settlement
Feats of Engineering
Slow Decline into Obscurity
Petra through the Centuries
And Much much more!

So if you want to learn about Petra scroll up and click the "add to cart" button!

I got so excited when I got offered Petra: The History of Jordan's Rose City by History Titans to read and review. It's not a secret that I'm a huge ancient history fangirl so I didn't hesitate to grab this book and start reading it. And, although not really surprising, I really enjoyed this short but fascinating nonfiction.

Petra is well-known I think but I wouldn't say it's the famous of historical sites in the world. Even so I've always been really interested in its history and simply awed by the beautiful architecture that I've seen on photographs and documentaries. Someday I would like to visit it. I think it would be an amazing experience, especially after reading this book and having learned more about the history and the Nabataean peope who inhabited Petra.

At 50 pages this definitely isn't a very long but but I also wouldn't say it so short that there's barely any information. I really liked this length because even though I took my sweet time with reading it I still managed to finish it in less than a day. So it's a very easily read book but it also makes you smarter at the same time. That's a win-win situation I'd say. I also never got bored of reading it, which can sometimes be the case in some nonfictions but with this one I would've been happy to continue reading it. 

I'm not sure what more I can say except that if you're interested in ancient history or have plans to visit Petra in the nearby future then this is absolutely a book I'd recommend. It's informative but to the point and short enough to read in a day at least. You definitely can't go wrong with Petra: The History of Jordan's Rose City by History Titans.

5 interesting facts I learned:

  • The city was "rediscovered" in the 1812.
  • Under Aretas III's rule the Nabataeans came into military contact with the Romans in 64 BCE during General Pompey's campaign into Syria.
  • According to inscribed Nabataean sources, women could join priestly orders and queens could rule alongside their kings on equal terms or even autonomously in some circumstances.
  • At the height of its glory, luxurious goods from Egypt, Greece, India and even China would all pass through Petra.
  • The Nabataeans, like countless other ancient civilizations, also worshipped the Sun.

Some pictures related to the book:

Tourists in front of Al Khazneh (The Treasury) at Petra

The narrow passage (Siq) that leads to Petra

View of the Royal Tombs in Petra

El Deir ("The Monastery")

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Review: Imperium by Robert Harris

Title: Imperium
Author: Robert Harris
Series: Cicero #1

Publication: July 5th 2007 by Arrow
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google | Kobo
Rating: 5/5

When Tiro, the confidential secretary of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he sets in motion a chain of events which will eventually propel his master into one of the most famous courtroom dramas in history.

The stranger is a Sicilian, a victim of the island's corrupt Roman governor, Verres. The senator is Cicero, a brilliant young lawyer and spellbinding orator, determined to attain imperium - supreme power in the state.

This is the starting-point of Robert Harris's most accomplished novel to date. Compellingly written in Tiro's voice, it takes us inside the violent, treacherous world of Roman politics, to describe how one man - clever, compassionate, devious, vulnerable - fought to reach the top.

To describe Imperium by Robert Harris in a single word I'd be using the word 'phenomenal' because this novel just blew me away. I think it's amazing that I found this book at a secondhand store for just 70 cents and that I just ended up loving it so much. I even consider it my second favorite book of the year (at least so far because you never know when a new favorite suddenly shows up). 

I just really enjoyed reading about Cicero, his rise as a politician and the people around him. I was kinda surprised by how much I liked it because I don't usually enjoy reading books that involve politics as much as Imperium did whether it's modern or ancient politics but I really couldn't get enough of reading this one. Cicero was such an intriguing person and this book really got me in a mood to read more about him and his life. So I'm hoping to find some nonfictions about Cicero at some point. Some of his quotes are favorites of mine.

The book is told in the point of view of Tiro who is a slave of Cicero and also his secretary. It was super fascinating to see the world of ancient Rome and Cicero through the eyes of Tiro. I really liked him! 

Also, I really enjoyed Robert Harris' writing. This book read so freaking easily. One day I even read close to 150 pages in one day because how much I enjoyed the writing style. I'm interested to see if his other books are as easily to read and I definitely plan on buying more titles by the author. For sure!

So I didn't know that Imperium is the first book in the Cicero trilogy. I'm not sure how I missed that but finding out made me so damn excited. I hope to get my hands on the two other books as soon as I can because I definitely want to read them. I'm really happy it's a trilogy. A part of me wishes I hadn't finished reading this book already because I just know whichever book I will read next will most likely not compare. Ah bookworm problems! But seriously this was a top book and couldn't have been more happy with it. 

About the author:
Robert Harris is the author of twelve bestselling novels: the Cicero Trilogy - Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator - Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, An Officer and a Spy, which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Conclave and most recently, Munich. Several of his books have been filmed, including The Ghost, which was directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into forty languages and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in West Berkshire with his wife, Gill Hornby.
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