Monday, September 30, 2019

Monthly Wrap-Up — September 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms! I can't believe it's the end of September already. Where did the month go? I didn't read as many books as I usually do but most of them were good ratings so I'm not complaining. So here is my wrap-up!

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller —4/5★
The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden —4/5★ (Review)

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (adapted by John Escott) —1/5★

Favorite book of the month:

The true life stories of six little-known fierce ancient warrior queens are told with humor and vivid detail by an award-winning writer.

For young readers seeking to be inspired by stories of strong women, this riveting book shines a light on six powerful ancient queens. Highlighting women warriors who ruled in ancient eras, like Hatshepsut in 1492 BCE Egypt, and Zenobia in 260 CE Palmyra, the stories span the globe to reveal the hidden histories of queens who challenged men and fought for the right to rule their queendoms. Award-winning author Vicky Alvear Shectar's lively text and acclaimed illustrator Bill Mayer's witty illustrations showcase these stories filled with history, power, and humor.

My favorite book of September was hard to pick this month because I've read quite a few good ones. But in the end nothing books an illustrated book about badass warrior queens!

What was your favorite book of September?

Friday, September 27, 2019

Review: The Falcon of Sparta by by Conn Iggulden

Title: The Falcon of Sparta
Author: Conn Iggulden
Publication: May 30th 2019 by Penguin 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | Kobo
Rating: 4/5

Conn Iggulden, the bestselling author of the Emperor, Conqueror and The Wars of the Roses series' returns to the Ancient World with a ferociously bloody epic . . .

In the Ancient World, one army was feared above all others.

401 BC. The Persian king Artaxerxes rules an empire stretching from the Aegean to northern India.

As many as fifty million people are his subjects.

His rule is absolute.

Though the sons of Sparta are eager to play the game of thrones . . .

Yet battles can be won - or lost - with a single blow. Princes fall. And when the dust of civil war settles, the Spartans are left stranded in the heart of an enemy's empire, without support, without food and without water.

Far from home, surrounded by foes, it falls to the young soldier Xenophon to lead the survivors against Artaxerxes' legendary Persian warriors.

Based on one of history's most epic stories of adventure The Falcon of Sparta masterfully depicts the ferocity, heroism, and savage bloodshed that was the Ancient World.
The Falcon of Sparta was my very first book by Conn Iggulden. And I already know it certainly won't be my last. I highly enjoyed reading this book. I was actually kind of surprised by how much I liked it and how I was thoroughly hooked by the story and characters. So yeah I need to get my hands on his other books now too. I can't wait to read them all!

The book was set mostly in the Persian empire (also in Greece for a bit) and started in 401 BC. I'm not as familiar with ancient Greek and Persian history as I am with other cultures like ancient Egypt and ancient Rome for example but this story was simply epic. It was based off of a real historical event, which is something I love in historical fiction novels.

Another thing I really liked about this book was how the story never went how I thought it was going to go. There were a lot of very unexpected twists so there was never a dull or predictable moment. If you plan on reading this book I wouldn't get too attached to any of the characters. Also, I was crazy about the battle scenes. They were so well-written and just glued my eyes to the page to the point where I couldn't read fast enough. It was so good!

These kind of books are really my thing. I love the action of the ancient battles and to get to know the characters that lived such a long time ago, even if they're not based off on real people from the past (although I'd prefer that) it usually is a great experience for me. So if anyone has any recommendations for books like that set in the ancient world then feel free to let me know. 

About the author:
Conn Iggulden is one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today. He has written three previous bestselling historical series, including Wars of the Roses. Dunstan is a stand-alone novel set in the red-blooded world of tenth-century England.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Highfire by Eoin Colfer

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. It's based on Waiting On Wednesday hosted at Breaking the Spine.

Highfire by Eoin Colfer
Expected publication: January 28th 2020 by Jo Fletcher Books

From the internationally bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series: Eoin Colfer's first adult fantasy novel is a hilarious, high-octane adventure about a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who's been hiding out from the world - and potential torch-carrying mobs - in a Louisiana bayou . . . until his peaceful world's turned upside down by a well-intentioned but wild Cajun tearaway and the crooked (and heavily armed) law officer who wants him dead.

Squib Moreau may be swamp-wild, but his intentions are (generally) good: he really wants to be a supportive son to his hard-working momma Elodie. But sometimes life gets in the way - like when Fake Daddy walked out on them leaving a ton of debt, or when crooked Constable Regence Hooke got to thinking pretty Elodie Moreau was just the gal for him...

An apprenticeship with the local moonshine runner, servicing the bayou, looks like the only way to pay off the family debts and maybe get Squib and his momma a place in town, far from Constable Hooke's unwanted courtship and Fake Daddy's reputation.

Unfortunately for Squib, Hooke has his own eye on that very same stretch of bayou - and neither of them have taken into account the fire-breathing dragon hiding out in the Louisiana swamp...

For Squib Moreau, Regence Hooke and Vern, aka Lord Highfire of Highfire Eyrie, life is never going to be the same again.

Highfire is a genre-bending tour-de-force of comedy and action by the million-copy-selling master storyteller.

I can't put into words how excited I am for Eoin Colfer's first adult fantasy novel. I just know it will be funny as hell and full of action. I really can't wait to get my hands on it. It's my highest anticipated book of 2020. I'm lucky it already will be released in January. :D

Friday, September 20, 2019

My Top 5 Mythology Retellings of 2019 (So Far)

The other day I realized I've been reading a lot of mythology retellings this year so I decided to make a blog post about it and show you my five favorites. ♥

Heroes by Stephen Fry
This is a companion book to Mythos (from 2017). I highly enjoyed these hilarious retellings of the Greek heroes.

Song of Sacrifice by Janell Rhiannon
This is the first book in the Homeric Chronicles, which is a retelling of the Iliad by Homer written in multiple POVs. This was actually a reread because the book got relaunched and I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
This book is also a retelling of the Iliad but it's written in the POV of Patroclus. I read this book pretty recently and of course it was superb. It was sad but a very good read. I loved the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus.

Circe by Madeline Miller
This was another amazing retelling by Madeline Miller and I honestly enjoyed it more than The Song of Achilles (but both are amazing of course!). Circe is mostly known for her part in the Odyssey so it was amazing to read a whole book about her.

This is yet another Iliad retelling. Have I even read anything else at all? Anyway, this is my favorite mythology retelling of the year. At least so far. This book follows Briseis and how she went from being a queen to being Achilles' prize. It's not a happy book. It deals with a lot of tough subjects but I thought it was amazingly written. 

How about you? Do you have any favorite mythology retellings? Have you read any of the ones above? Let me know in the comment section!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Review: Night Witches: The Soviet Female Pilots Who Terrified The German Army by History Titans

Title: Night Witches: The Soviet Female Pilots Who Terrified The German Army
Author: History Titans
Publication: September 10th 2019
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Purchase it on: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

A fascinating look into the history of the NIGHT WITCHES

The Night Witches were World War II's female volunteers who made one of the first all-female Night Bomber Regiments of the air forces in the Soviet Union. They were war heroines who participated in combat even though they didn’t have any machine guns, radios, radars or parachutes. Yet, they used all of the advantages that a compass, map, pencils, and flashlight could possibly provide and helped to win the war.

Inside you will read about...

World War Two and the Role of Woman in the Soviet Union
Forming an All-Female Air Force Regiments
How Night Witches Got their Names
Difficulties that Night Witches had to Face During Combat
And much much more!

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

I have many different historical interests and one of them happens to be the Soviet Union's Night Witches of World War II. I've seen documentaries and read books (only fictional books though) about them before but that didn't stop me from diving into this newly published History Titans book because I'm just too damn fascinated by the Night Witches and I finally got to read a nonfiction about them. So it was a win-win situating for me.

Ever since I first learned about the Night Witches I have been in absolute awe of them. These women were so freaking courageous and just so amazing. I can't even imagine all the shit they've gone through and how hard it all had been for them. Not just because they were fighting in a war (which is horrifying on it own) but also because of the sexism and belittling they had to endure. And the fact that the Germans were actually scared of them and gave them the nickname 'Nachthexen' made them even more awesome in my eyes. They were simply badass.

My fangirling aside, I really really really liked this book. There was a lot of interesting information about the Night Witches, even some things that I didn't know about so that was really good for me. I highly enjoyed all the chapters and was even a little sad when I had finished the book because I would've been happy to continue reading. It was a super fascinating read.

Night Witches: The Soviet Female Pilots Who Terrified The German Army by History Titans was a short but fascinating nonfiction about the first all-female Night Bomber Regiments of the air forces in the Soviet Union that everyone should read, especially girls. I'm sure not a lot of people even know about the Night Witches and that's a damn shame. So if I can reach at least one person with this review and teach them about the Night Witches or make them read this book and learn even more about them I'd be very happy. 
5 interesting facts:

  • The Night Witches were World War II's female volunteers who made one of the first all-female Night Bomber Regiments of the air forces in the Soviet Union.

  • Nazis were terrified of Night Witches, and they even gave them this nickname (Nachthexen in German). It was due to their wooden plane's noises that reminded Germans of sweeping broomstick sounds.

  • A woman who was credited with forming all-female fighting squadrons was Marina Raskova. She was also known as the "Soviet Amelia Earhart".

  • Women who were flyers received male uniforms that were handed down from other soldiers.

  • After the war ended, almost all the surviving female air force members were banned from flying.

Some pictures related to the book:

The regiment in 1942.

Polikarpov Po-2, the aircraft type used by the regiment

Photograph of Marina Raskova in uniform

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Queen's Fortune: Desiree, Napoleon, and a Dynasty by Allison Pataki

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. It's based on Waiting On Wednesday hosted at Breaking the Spine.

The Queen's Fortune: Desiree, Napoleon, and a Dynasty by Allison Pataki
Expected publication: February 11th 2020 by Ballantine Books

A sweeping and inspiring novel about the almost-forgotten woman who captivated Napoleon and changed the course of history--from the New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor's Wife, The Accidental Empress, and Sisi.

As a beautiful socialite in the south of France, Desiree Clary must leave her privileged life behind when the Revolution roils the countryside and it falls on her to save her family from the guillotine. She finds an unlikely friend in the ambitious young military prodigy Napoleon Bonaparte. And when her devoted sister Julie marries Napoleon's brother Joseph, Desiree and Napoleon enter into their own passionate, dizzying courtship--one that leads to a secret engagement and an exchange of vows. Yet no one could prepare Desiree for the chaos and heartbreak that await her, and as Desiree makes plans to join Napoleon in the capital, he stuns her by taking up with the rising star of Parisian society, the Creole enchantress Josephine de Beauharnais.

Desiree is called to the glittering halls of the French capital and plunged into the inner circle of the new ruling clique, quickly entangled in a complicated relationship with Napoleon, the Bonapartes, and his new wife and empress. Her fate takes another stunning turn when she falls for Napoleon's confidant and star general, the indomitable Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. But when these two men become political rivals and military foes, Desiree must choose between the love of her new husband and the love of her nation.

From the lavish estates of the French Riviera to the raucous streets of Paris to the snow-strewn city of Stockholm, Desiree finds herself at the epicenter of an empire rising and falling, navigating a constellation of larger-than-life political giants and dangerous, shifting alliances. Transforming from an impressionable girl into a fierce young woman, she discovers that to survive in this world she must learn to rely upon her instincts--and her heart.

Allison Pataki's meticulously researched and brilliantly imagined novel sweeps readers into the unbelievable life of a woman almost lost to history--a woman who not only adapts and survives but, ultimately, reigns. When Desiree is offered the throne of Sweden, will it be the end of her life and those she loves most, or, will it be the beginning of a dynasty to outlast all of the giants around her?

I haven't read a book by Allison Pataki yet but the cover and synopsis of this historical fiction already got me hooked. It looks and sounds absolutely amazing! ♥

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Monthly Wrap-Up — August 2019

Hello bookworms! It's finally September!
I haven't done a monthly wrap-up since October 2018... oops?
I decided to start doing them again or at least attempt to because I haven't been super active on my blog this summer. It's been pretty hot here in Belgium so I didn't really have the motivation to blog a lot aside from a few reviews I've posted occasionally. But anyways... here is my wrap-up!

Imperium by Robert Harris — 5/5★ {Review}
Petra: The History of Jordan's Rose City by History Titans — 4/5 {Review}
Othello by William Shakespeare — 4/5

Roman Empire: The Ancient Superpower by History Titans — 3/5 {Review}
The Body Painter by Pepper Winters — 4/5 {Review}

Heroes by Stephen Fry — 4/5 
Akhenaten: The Pharaoh of the Sun-God by in60Learning — 4/5
And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer —3.5/5

The Aztecs: Rise and Fall of an Empire by Serge Gruzinski — 3/5
The Impressionists by Vanessa Whinney — 4/5
Come Close by Sappho — 5/5

Favorite book of the month:

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.

Imperium was my first book of the month and it remained my favorite. I randomly picked it up because I wanted to read a book set in ancient Rome but ended up being so pleasantly surprised by it that I know I must read more books by Robert Harris in the future. It was a brilliant read!

What was your favorite book of August?