Bookhaul July 2017

Hey you all! I can’t believe it’s almost August… These last few months just flew by. As it is the last day of the month I’m sharing a new bookhaul with you guys and girls. This month I collected a whopping amount of 10 new books!!! (can I blame this one on heatstroke too eventhough it was quite rainy this month?) But fair is fair I bought four of them with a huge discount (the Nora Roberts books) and one of them was a gift from my little sister, so this months bookhaul didn’t cost me a lot of money.

This month I didn’t only crave romantic books, like Nora Roberts’ Stars of Fortune trilogy, which I already reviewed a couple of months ago when I borrowed them from my mom (no borrowing needed anymore 😉 )

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But I really wanted some supernatural and non-fiction stories too. Something to suit my need for the fantastical, something to quench my thirst for knowledge and something to touch my heart and make me melt away ❤ in short the perfect combo of everything I love 🙂

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So, let me give you the description of all these beauties (except for the Stars of Fortune trilogy) and maybe you will want to put one of them on your to read list too 😉

Sapiens: a brief history of human kind by Yuval Noah Harari

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. 

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? 

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? 

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power … and our future.

Onbereikbaar (Eyes turned skyward) by Rebecca Yarros

Since her sister’s death, twenty-year-old Paisley Donovan, who shares her sister’s heart condition, is treated like delicate glass by her parents. But nothing will stop her from completing her Bucket List—even if it kills her. And it almost does, until Jagger Bateman pulls her from the ocean and breathes more than air into her lungs—he sets her soul on fire.

Jagger is enrolled in the country’s toughest flight school. He’s wickedly hot, reckless, and perfect for a girl looking to live life to the fullest. Except that Paisley is the commanding general’s daughter, and her boyfriend is Jagger’s biggest rival. Now Paisley must decide just how much to risk for a guy who makes her heart pound a little too hard.

They’re flying through dangerous territory—and one wrong move could make them crash and burn…

A brief history of time by Stephen Hawking

Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world’s greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time – from the Big Bang to black holes, via spiral galaxies and string theory. To this day A Brief History of Time remains a staple of the scientific canon, and its succinct and clear language continues to introduce millions to the universe and its wonders.

De Obsessie (the Obsession) by Nora Roberts

“She stood in the deep, dark woods, breath shallow and cold prickling over her skin despite the hot, heavy air. She took a step back, then two, as the urge to run fell over her.” 

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

Just Dreaming by Kerstin Gier

 A dream traveler faces the greatest challenge she’s yet encountered in this gripping third and final book of the Silver trilogy.

The course of dream travel never did run smooth—at least, not in Liv Silver’s experience. Able to visit other people’s dreams (whether they want her to or not), Liv has solved mysteries, unearthed difficult truths, fought madmen, and escaped life-threatening peril, all from the comfort of her own bed. But Liv’s troubles are just beginning.

A rocky romance, a malicious blogger with a hidden identity, a wedding, and a classmate (or two) dead-set on revenge all await Liv in this action-packed conclusion to the Silver trilogy.

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I’m totally in love with these covers ❤ That’s also the reason why I bought the series in English instead of Dutch or German haha.

Strijder (Legion) by Julie Kagawa

The legions are about to be unleashed, and no human, rogue dragon or former dragon slayer can stand against the coming horde. Book 4 of 5 in The Talon Saga from New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa.

Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all–dragons do not suffer human emotions–let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she’s capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante–the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.

Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield.

The Storytelling animal: how stories make us human by Jonathan Gottschall

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It’s easy to say that humans are “wired” for story, but why?

In this delightful and original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems—just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal. Did you know that the more absorbed you are in a story, the more it changes your behavior? That all children act out the same kinds of stories, whether they grow up in a slum or a suburb? That people who read more fiction are more empathetic?

Of course, our story instinct has a darker side. It makes us vulnerable to conspiracy theories, advertisements, and narratives about ourselves that are more “truthy” than true. National myths can also be terribly dangerous: Hitler’s ambitions were partly fueled by a story.

But as Gottschall shows in this remarkable book, stories can also change the world for the better. Most successful stories are moral—they teach us how to live, whether explicitly or implicitly, and bind us together around common values. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animalfinally reveals how stories shape us.

I’m so excited to read all of these books!!!

Happy reading you all and see you next time 😉

The key to unlock a heart

Hey you all! I’m a bit behind in posting reviews and updating my Goodreads reading challenge but the upcoming days I will be remedying that. Today I’m going to share a review with you guys and girls about Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen. Last year I bought my first book by Sarah (Saint Anything) and I kinda fell in love with her writing style and the way she builds her characters. Let me try to convince you why you should pick up a Sarah Dessen book too 😉

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What’s the story about?

Ruby Cooper likes to expect the worst. That way, she’s never disappointed. Abandoned by her mother and forced to leave the house she calls home, Ruby is facing too many changes. Her lonely world has been transformed into a life of luxury by her long lost sister, but all Ruby wants to do is leave – she can make it on her own. Even Nate, the gorgeous boy-next-door can’t seem to change her mind. Will Ruby realize first impressions don’t always count? And that sometimes, people can surprise you, so it’s ok to let the closest ones in …

Why should you read this story?

Let me start with the main character. I absolutely loved Ruby! She’s such a realistic character. At first she has a giant wall around her heart. She lets nobody close enough to touch her heart. All her relationships are shallow and people don’t really know her. She’s so good at keeping to herself and caring for herself that it takes a couple of months before people realize that she’s living alone in the rental home where she and her mom have lived for the past year or so. Ruby doesn’t mind fending for herself, she’s been doing it almost her entire life. She’s used to people abandoning her. But as she is not yet 18 she is required to live with an adult. That’s how Ruby ends up living with her sister Cora, who she hasn’t seen in ten years and her brother-in-law, whom she’s never met before. All Ruby wants is to be left alone. Especially by the sister who left her with their alcoholic mother. However, it’s hard to keep to yourself when the people around you want to give you everything and expect very little in return. And when the cute and friendly boy next door goes out of his way to make you feel welcome and loved it’s hard to keep your heart hardened. Along the way Ruby learns to forgive, love and live, but above all that people can surprise you and can love you unconditionally.

Love interest Nate was also very realistic and swoonworthy. He’s friendly, fun, caring and adorable, yet at the same time mysterious and closed off about his own personal life. The way Ruby and he fell for each other and helped each other to get the life they both deserved was so beautiful. I loved the way Nate helped everybody out, yet was unable to ask for help himself. Ruby and Nate were really perfect for each other.

This book was such an emotional read. I loved how Ruby and her sister Cora resolved the issues from their past and how their bond became strong again when all the misunderstanding and hard feelings got resolved. Cora’s husband Jamie was also a really great character and all around good guy. I loved the relationship between the two and how cute they were together. I also really liked the way Jamie went out of his way to give Ruby a better life and to stay positive and understanding towards her eventhough Ruby sometimes made this quite hard. Nate’s problems were also written really well and the way he tried to keep his personal life hidden for everybody was also very realistic, yet extremely sad and frustrating at times haha. All these different relationships and troubles made the book a rollercoaster of feelings. I think this is the best book by Sarah Dessen I’ve read so far ❤

If you’re looking for a romantic story with realistic characters and realistic problems you definitely need to pick this one up! It’s beautiful, sad, hopeful, and has a happy ending that will leave a smile on your face when you turn the last page. Lock & Key is a definite must-read!

Unboxing Fairylootbox: Elementalists

Hey you all! In my bookhaul-post I mentioned that I would be sharing an unboxing with you, so, here I am to keep that promise 😉 Last month I ordered a bookbox for the first time in my life and it was so cool!!! It’s like a present to yourself mixed with a riddle you have to solve (guessing what will be in it haha). When I read the description of this box I was just as excited as last month because this box would revolve around a YA fantasy book about elemental magic ❤ If you don’t want to know what was in the box don’t read the rest of this post!

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So, let’s start unveiling what was in this box!

  • A beautiful candle from Witchwood Remedies with flowerpetals and crystals in it! I received the Thunderstorm candle and it smells divine ❤ I think the crystals in it are lapis lazuli and the flowerpetals look like marigold and cornflower. Oh a little warning: the first time you light this candle make sure you don’t put it too close to something flammable because the petals will catch fire and cause the candle to spark a bit (trust me I nearly set my book on fire while trying to take a picture of the burning candle together with the book)
  • A soapbar from Ascent Bath and Body. It’s called Clairvoyance and smells like fig and pomegranate! It smells sooooo good.
  • A lipbalm by Geeky Clean. I received the Firebender which tastes and smells like watermelon ❤ It’s a really soft and extremely moisturizing lipbalm, so, it’s perfect for the summer!
  • A bracelet by In The Moment with a Hamsa hand charm.
  • Potion sticky notes in three different colors.
  • A pillowcase by Miss Phi with a quote from Stephen King on it. I love this item! It’s so pretty ❤
  • A sampler from The Waking Land by Callie Bates. I think the samplers are one of my favorite items in these Fairylootboxes because they allow you to discover new books and authors.

 

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  • And last, but not least: the book that inspired this box!!! Roar by Cora Carmack 🙂 When I came across this book on Pinterest I added it to my to read list because the description sounded so intriguing. As I read the description of the Elementalist Fairylootbox I hoped this book would be in it, and I was right! Can’t wait to read this one. And it’s so pretty!

 

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Bookhaul June 2017

Hey everybody! I decided to add another new feature to my blog. On most blogs I follow people post all the books they buy every month. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this too as I don’t buy books every month (and some months I buy very many books and others only one or two). But, I really like these ‘bookhaul’ posts, because it’s a great way to find new books to put on a ‘to read’ or ‘to buy’ list. So, I caved and decided to start posting bookhauls too.

This month I went a little crazy (I’m going to blame it on heatstroke 😉 ) and bought seven books (and a Fairylootbox which will be revealed in my unboxing post)!

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Aren’t they pretty ❤

As you can see I bought a lot of romantic books. I love reading romance stories in the summer. Something about the sun, a cool breeze and all the flowers in bloom makes me crave a lot of love in my books 😉

So, what are all these stories about? Let me tell you!

Like a memory by Abbi Glines:

One memory.
One special summer.
The one thing Bliss had lost herself in when the fear and sickness were too much, moments never to be damaged by the harsh reality that followed… until now.

Bliss York didn’t live a normal teenage life. She didn’t go to Friday night football games, walk the halls with her friends every day, go to her prom or even walk to receive her diploma. It had all been taken from her the fall that she was fifteen years old and she was given the diagnosis no one ever wants to hear.

She had leukemia.

Seven years after spending a summer with a girl who he knew would always be his first love and the one who got away, Nate Finlay returns to Sea Breeze to help his fiancé open her new boutique clothing store. When the new employee walks in Nate is taken back seven years to the girl he thought he’d love forever. The one who never answered his calls or returned his text. The one who shut him out completely with not even a goodbye and broke his heart.

They’ve each become someone different. No longer the young teens with stars in their eyes. But does that matter when your heart still says that’s the one.

Under the lights by Abbi Glines:

Willa can’t erase the bad decisions of her past that led her down the path she’s on now. But she can fight for forgiveness from her family. And she can protect herself by refusing to let anyone else get close to her.

High school quarterback and town golden boy Brady used to be the best of friends with Willa—she even had a crush on him when they were kids. But that’s all changed now: her life choices have made her a different person from the girl he used to know.

Gunner used to be friends with Willa and Brady, too. He too is larger than life and a high school football star—not to mention that his family basically owns the town of Lawton. He loves his life, and doesn’t care about anyone except himself. But Willa is the exception—and he understands the girl she’s become in a way no one else can.

As secrets come to light and hearts are broken, these former childhood friends must face the truth about growing up and falling in love…even if it means losing each other forever.

Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen:

Ruby, where is your mother?

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.

That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

Last Chance by Sarah Dessen:

Never in one place long enough to make friends or put down roots, Colie doesn’t expect her trip to the North Carolina coast to change a thing. Always the outcast, she’s resigned to a holiday with only her eccentric aunt Mira for company. But when she finds a job waitressing at the Last Chance cafe, she also finds acceptance, new friends, and the beginnings of romance…

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry:

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.

Confess by Colleen Hoover:

Auburn Reed is determined to rebuild her shattered life and she has no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to become deeply attracted to the studio’s enigmatic artist, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is hiding a huge secret. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything Auburn loves most, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it—but can she do it?

The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard:

A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower – intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

I think I’m going to have a blast of a summer vacation with these books 🙂 Happy reading you all!

A day in the life of an author

Hey you all! If you have been following my blog you know that I’m not only a reader but also a writer. Yesterday marked a first milestone in my writer’s life as I had my very first bookpresentation of a book that I co-wrote: Historische Verhalen: korte verhalen uit de Oudheid (Historical Stories: short stories from Antiquity). Together with Key Tengeler and Marjolijn van de Gender I wrote this collection of short historical fiction stories that take place in Antiquity. In this blog I would like to tell you a bit about the bookpresentation and the book itself, because I’m so proud of and excited about it!!!

The presentation:

The bookpresentation took place in Leiden in the National Museum of Antiquities. Can you say dream come true?! It’s such a stunning museum and I’m so honored that we were allowed to present our book there. I’m also really grateful for all the people who showed up at this event. It was so amazing to meet all these different persons that all share a love for stories and history ❤

The presentation started with a short lecture by dr. Kim Beerden a professor of Ancient History at the University of Leiden. She talked about the representation of (ancient) history in books throughout the ages which was really interesting, especially since my fellow authors and I have tried to represent history as truthfully as possible in our stories.

After the lecture came an interview with Key, Marjolijn and me. At first I was really nervous, but it was super fun! Talking about some of my stories and the writing process made me realize a lot of things about my own creative processess and where my stories come from 🙂

 

When the interview was done, people could buy the book and get it signed. I think this was my favorite part of the day! Seeing people walk around with a book you helped write is so amazing ❤

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Here’s me (front), Marjolijn (middle) and Key (back) signing the book.

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Interviewer Mike Spaans (left) and publisher Rik van de Vlugt (right).

The  book:

Now, you’re probably wondering what kind of stories are in this book. Well, I’m going to tell you in reading order with a small description of every story 😉 (NB. BCE stands for Before Common Era and CE stands for Common Era)

Het brandend hart van Babylon (the burning heart of Babylon) by Key Tengeler: a story about the Assyrian siege of Babylon in 689 BCE.

Een vuurrode nacht (a night red as fire) by Marjolijn van de Gender: a story about a bookthief in the library of Alexander in Egypt in 391 CE.

Het laatste offer (the last sacrifice) by me: a story about a catastrophic eartquake and human sacrifice on Crete in 1700 BCE.

Morgen (tomorrow) by Key: a story about the siege of Pompeii by Sulla in 89 BCE.

Het einde van een paradijs (the end of paradise) by Marjolijn: a story about empress Zenobia and her fall in 272 CE.

De Marathonloper (the Marathonrunner) by me: a story about Philippides run from Athens to Sparta and back (500 km), which he made in just three days on bare feet in 490 BCE.

Een geheime opdracht (a secret assignment) by Marjolijn: a story about the (attempt of) murder on empress Agrippina in 59 CE.

Tussen de regels (between the lines) by Key: a story revolving around a correspondence of letters between Theoderik, his daughter, the synod of bishops, emperor Anastasius, Alarik and Clovis in Ravenna in 497-506 CE.

De ontsluiering (the unveiling) by me: a story about the festival of Demeter in Athens in the sixth century BCE.

De dichter uit Etrurië (the poet from Etruria) by Marjolijn: a story about the Battle of Alalia near Corsica around 540 BCE.

Met de moed der wanhoop (with desperate courage) by Key: a story about the Third Punic War in Carthage in 149 BCE.

Mijn lieveling (my precious) by Marjolijn: a story about the ring of Polycrates on Samos in 522 BCE.

Het gebroken verzet (broken resistance) by me: a story about the siege of Tyre by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE.

Gods oordeel (the judgment of God) by Key: a story about Jesus Barabbas in Jerusalem in 30-33 CE.

De soldaat die niet stierf (the soldier who would not die) by Marjolijn: a story about the Batavian revolt in 70 CE.

Rechter van steen (stone judge) by Key: a story about peasants in North-Africa who were being suppressed by their overlord but got help from a lawyer in their case against him near Souk-el-Khemis in 182 CE.

Een gevallen man (a fallen man) by Marjolijn: a story about the death of Lucius Sergius Catilina near Pistoia in 62 BCE.

Strijd tegen de vlammen (battle against the flames) by me: a story about the great fire of Rome and the Roman fire brigade in 64 CE.

Monoloog van Julia (Julia’s Monologue) by Marjolijn: a story about the life of Julia, daughter of emperor Augustus which takes place in Pandataria in 2 BCE.

De koning van morgen (the tomorrow king) by Key: a story about king Darius of Persia and the way in which he became king of the Persian empire in Susa in 522 BCE.

De ogen van de dood (the eyes of death) by Marjolijn: a story about a Roman baker in London in 61 CE.

Liefde en eer (love and honor) by me: a story about a deserter in the Spartan army during the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE.

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If you’re a fan of ancient history or stories about historical persons and events this collection of short stories will be perfect for you! Every story was written with a lot of love and is based on extensive research done by the authors. And if you’re more of a cover-buyer this beauty will not disappoint ❤

Ps. If you’ve read the book and would like to share your reading experience and your thoughts about the book my fellow authors and me would love to hear from you 🙂 We’re dying to read some reviews and opinions (even if they’re negative) 😉

 

Support your favorite authors and publishers by buying their work

Hey you guys and girls! Usually my posts are all about books and reading. I don’t like to harass people with other’s opinions or point and wave fingers and tell you what to do. However, sometimes you come across something you just can’t let slip and you have to share your opinion with others.

A couple of days ago one of my writing friends/ co-authors posted something on Facebook about a man that was selling hundreds of e-books on drives for one euro per dvd. Technically, to the letter of the law, this man was not stealing and selling stolen property as e-books can be sold from one person to the next. However, he wasn’t selling one e-book and he wasn’t selling it to just one person. When this author confronted the man with his actions he responded that he wasn’t doing anything illegal (in a manner that was downright insulting and asshole-ish). To cut a long story short, loads of authors that were on his list of e-books teamed-up and tried to get the man to understand that he was costing them their much deserved paycheck, but he still wouldn’t listen.

You probably wonder why I’m telling you this. Well, I wanted to ask you all to think before you download something illegally from the Internet, be it music, movies, books or anything else. You may think nobody is hurt by your downloading, but people are being hurt by it. The author you love so much that you are willing to do anything to get your hands on their new book is being hurt. The publisher that did its best to deliver a stunning book to you is being hurt. What if we all decided to not pay for our books anymore? Then publishers would go bankrupt and authors would have to stop writing. Not to mention all the people who are in some way linked to these books like editors, booksellers, publicists, etc, etc.

Please, please remember that downloading illegally does hurt people. The people that bring you the things you love and like the most. Remember your favorite author and publisher next time you are tempted to download their work illegally and choose to do the right thing. Support them and give them a signal that you value them enough to spend some of your well earned money on them.

This post is for everyone who loves books enough to buy them ❤

 

Unboxing Fairylootbox: Warriors and Legends

Hey you guys and girls! It’s been a bit quiet on my blog, but no worries I’m still alive and blogging. It’s just been one of those months. In April and the beginning of May I needed to finish all my short stories for the historical short story collection which will feature six of my own stories. It’s been a learning process to work with strict deadlines, editorial comments and multiple rewrites. A process with a few bumps, some highs and one or two lows, but I think the result of all that labor will be amazing! And I’m really excited for the presentation of the book on the 15th of June in the National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) in Leiden!!!

Of course I haven’t been writing non-stop. Naturally I’ve been reading too 😉 And I’ve got something new for my blog! All around me I heard people talking about bookboxes and lootcrates, which got me really curious as to what these things were. So, I decided to order a bookbox from Fairyloot. Today I will share the unboxing with you! If you don’t want to know what’s in the box don’t continue reading 😉

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The theme of this box is Warriors and Legends and it features a Mulan retelling set in feudal Japan. Since I love retellings and Mulan is one of my alltime favorite Disney movies it didn’t take me long to decide to order this Fairylootbox. And I’m so glad I ordered it because everything that was in the box was awesome!!!

So, what was in it?

  • A tin with green leaf tea with lychee and jasmine. As tea-lover I’m really excited to try this one, because it smells delicious 🙂
  • A vegan soy candle in a small tin called Mist that smells like warm stone and woodsmoke. An absolutely divine scent ❤
  • A pair of socks with a celtic knot design. I’m going to put these on and snuggle up in my bed with a good book 😉
  • A metallic feather pen. This is such a funny and cute gift! Don’t know if I will write with it but it sure looks awesome as decoration on a desk.
  • A wooden bookmark with a quote from Lord of the Rings on it!!! As huge LotR fan I’m super happy with this one ❤
  • A mythology book called World Mythology in Bite-Sized Chunks by Mark Daniels. I love the fact that this box featured not one, but two books! And I love collecting myths, legends and fairytales from all over the world to use them as inspiration for my own writing, so, this book will be put to good use 😉
  • A sampler from the book Naondel: the Red Abbey Chronicles by Maria Turtschaninoff. I’m really curious what this book will be about as I’ve never heard of the author or the book 🙂
  • And last, but certainly not least the book that inspired the whole box: Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh!!! When I read the description of the box before I ordered it I hoped this book would be in it and I was right! Super excited to read this one 😉

 

 

In the fight for freedom no one can stand alone

Hey you guys and girls! Today I’m going to be doing something new. A little while ago I was asked if I wanted to participate in a blogtour. I had no clue what that was, but it is really fun! A couple of bloggers are asked to read the same book, then one by one, on a set date, the bloggers post reviews about that book on their personal blogs and as a result people can read lots of different opinions on one and the same book while at the same time taking a tour through many different blogs. I’m going to kick off this blogtour which revolves around N.22, a Dutch YA dystopia, written by Joyce Roele. Let me first give you a description (translated to English) and then I will tell you why you should read this book (because it was awesome!)

Kate has a healing ability and because of it she has been held captive by the government for two years and counting. Before she was taken away from home her mother gave her four basic rules which would keep her alive in the laboratories. However, now, after two years, these rules are the reason why her body is shutting down. Kate has given up all hope of freedom, especially now that she has been sent to laboratory Mentha. A chance encounter changes her monotonous life forever.

Alexander and Lena are searching for their best friend Kate. Alexander is convinced it is his fault that Kate’s gift got discovered and he will do anything to free her and fix his mistake. The search is full of danger and choices they never thought they would have to make.

Will Mentha be Kate’s end of the road? Or can she escape this nightmare with the help of her friends?N22_1

Well, if that description didn’t trigger you let me help you by making the choice to read this book much simpler 😉

Kate is a wonderful heroine. She’s lonely, almost completely broken and balances on the brink of death and yet she still hasn’t given up and still hasn’t lost her compassion. Whenever she sees someone who needs help she will rush in to make that person better, even if it will cost her the little reserve of energy she has left after two years of constant torture and famine. The two years she spent in researchfacilities she has kept to herself, never showing emotions, never talking, fading into the background, all in an effort to stay as much out of sight of the labtechs as possible. But when she meets young Zoë she can’t keep her distance. This sweet little girl can’t be left to fend for herself, so, Kate decides to break one of her mothers rules and befriends Zoë. This one decision turns her life upside down and sets into motion inevitable events that will lead to Kate’s freedom or her death.

Alexander was a bit more elusive as a character. He struggles with survivors guilt because Kate used her gift to help him and as a result she got captured. He has put his life on hold so he can track Kate down and help her, but the search is slow and hard as there are multiple laboratories where the gifted are observed and ‘disected’ and all of them are guarded. Luckily, Alex has a gift of his own that enables him to create illusions. Except for his guilt and will to find Kate, Alexander is not really a rounded character. The reader gets only glimpses of his inner world and to me he wasn’t all that remarkable or likable. At times I found him a bit immature. Needless to say that Alexander wasn’t one of my favorite characters.

Branden, however, stole my heart. He’s annoying, loves to tease both Kate and Zoë, yet at the same time is really sweet and tender and cares more for others than he lets on. He’s a bit of a mystery and wildcard and therefore I loved him. Whenever Kate’s in pain or trouble he is by her side, while at the same time he keeps her on edge and in the present by teasing and antagonizing her. I’m really hoping Branden and Kate will end up together. So, keeping my fingers crossed for the next books!

I loved the pace in this book. It was gradual and yet really suspenseful. As reader you follow Kate in her horrible life that consists of cruel tests, eating and sleeping. Her only moments of solace are the ones she spends with Zoë and Branden and her daydreams about the beach and ocean. Because the pace is not too fast you get to know Kate really well and will hope that the future has something better in store for her. However, even though the pace is gradual the tension remains high. From the very first page I wondered how this story would end and I kept turning pages to find out what would happen next in Kate’s life and if Alexander and Lena would find their friend in time.

Another thing I loved was the writing style. Joyce has a fresh and easy writing style that reads very pleasant. At the same time her writing is poetic and there is more than one beautiful sentence in this book that will make a perfect quote!

The worldbuilding in this first book in the series was a bit rudimentary, but that is to be expected as most of the book takes place in the same setting. However there are a few hints as to the world outside the research facilities. It seems like people are born into their circumstances and can’t get out of them (so if you are born in a industrial town you will probably end up working in the factory for the government). Children are educated to perform certain professions, so this also seems to point to a society that is strictly ordered and where people have little or no choice in what they want to do. There is also mention of the world being torn apart by natural disasters and rebuild to its former grandeur, but this isn’t explained in detail. The government is, at this stage, a shadow in the background as the only thing you know as reader is that they imprison special people. I’m looking forward to the next books and to discovering more about this world.

The only thing I liked less was the fact that some parts of the book and the writing style reminded me very much of Tahereh Mafi’s Touching Juliette trilogy. I got the feeling that the writer was very much inspired by this serie and based at least part of her book on it. However, because there were enough differences with Tahereh’s trilogy and because N.22 is written so well it didn’t bother me that much. Hopefully the next books will be completely different than any other stories because this series has everything in it to become a bestseller and deserves to be an original!

If you’re looking for a suspenseful, emotional dystopia with a great heroine, fun side characters and a beautiful writingstyle, look no further because N.22 has got it all!

The light that has to shine through the darkness always shines brighter – part two.

Hey you guys and girls, a couple of days ago I promised to post reviews of book two and three of the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, but my laptop decided it didn’t feel like working haha. So my posts are a bit delayed, but today I will be discussing Siege and Storm  the second book in the trilogy! Let me start with a description and then I will tell you why you have to read this one. If you don’t like spoilers, don’t read this post!

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

storm and siege

In the first book we saw how Alina became the Sun Summoner and how she was betrayed by both the Darkling and Genya. The Darkling almost enslaved Alina by using Morozova’s first amplifier against her, but at the last minute Alina managed to break free from his hold and use her powers to rescue Mal and herself by sacrificing everyone on the Darkling’s skiff to the darkness and the Volcra in the Fold. Now, Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling’s men, taking them across the True Sea to Novyi Zem.

It doesn’t take long before Mal and Alina are found and captured. The Darkling not only survived the Shadow Fold, somehow he has gained new powers enabling him to create and summon the nichevo’ya, creatures of darkness and shadow. Mal and Alina are brought on board of the Volkvolny, the ship of a privateer called Sturmhond. The ship will take them back across the True Sea towards the Bone Road where the legendary Sea Whip called Rusalye, a sea serpent and Morozova’s second amplifier, is rumored to live. The Darkling forces Mal to track the serpent by threatening to torture Alina, and plans to use the second amplifier just like the first by binding Alina’s powers to him. However, the Darkling’s plans are thwarted by the enigmatic captain who turns out to be not just a privateer, but also the youngest son of the king of Ravka.

I LOVE sturmhond aka Nikolai Lantsov. This character has got to be one of my alltime favorites! Nikolai is witty, sarcastic, adventurous, charming, a little bit crazy and all around awesome. He has the best one-liners and adds so much humor and light-heartedness to the books. Moreover, Nikolai is not just a funny and pretty guy, he creates his own ships (both flying and sea faring) and weapons and stands up for what’s right and just. To give you a little sneak peek: here are some of his best lines 😉

 

In this book Mal and Alina’s love is put to the test as Mal is just a simple tracker, while Alina is the powerful Sun Summoner, Ravka’s only hope in the battle for their country, freedom and lives. Mal chooses to let Alina go in order to help her be all that she can be, but their love is not so easily extinguishable.

There’s a new love triangle in this second book between Alina and Nikolai, but it is pretty clear that Alina still has feelings for Mal and that Nikolai and her are more best friends than lovers, so I didn’t really mind this new triangle. Besides, Nikolai is just too fun a character to get annoyed haha.

The suspense in this book is turned up a notch as the Darkling not only plans to expand the Fold, but also wants to take over leadership of Ravka and the rest of the continent. Together with Nikolai and some of his crew members Alina and Mal form a plan to stop the Darkling and save the kingdom, but will their plan work… And more importantly will everybody survive this battle?

This book is full of action, love, friendship, adventure and magic! A must-read for all YA-fantasy fans.

 

The light that has to shine through the darkness always shines brighter.

It’s been a while since my last post, not because I didn’t read any books, but because there were a few books I read that I didn’t finish because I really didn’t like them. But I won’t write a post about these books, because I rather write about books that I loved ;). Luckily, after a few misses I hit the jackpot! There’s only one word that describes my feelings for the trilogy that blew me away. Wow! Just wow. I just finished reading the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo and I’m in awe. These books were so, so good! They’ve got everything I love: strong and well-developed characters, suspense, love, magic, great worldbuilding, and an antagonist who’s got so many dimensions that he will keep surprising you (sometimes in the worst ways). Today I will be reviewing the first book in the series called Shadow and Bone and tomorrow and the day after that I will review the other books. Let me first give you a description and then I will convince you why you absolutely have to read this trilogy (if you haven’t already!)

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

 

Lets start with main character Alina. She’s such a great heroine. All her life she has felt invisible. The only joy in her life has been her best friend Mal who has been with her since they were little kids in the orphanage. But now Mal has loads of friends and girls chasing after him, leaving Alina feeling lonely and neglected. For years she’s been hiding the fact that she has a major crush on Mal, but lately it’s been extremely hard to keep those feelings secret. Especially when girls that are far more pretty than her are vying for his attention.

Life for Alina changes in one fateful moment. Alina, Mal and the rest of their regiment are tasked with a mission to protect a skiff that is about to set out over the Fold, a barren wasteland filled with darkness and human eating monsters that was created by a magical experiment gone wrong. The only way to cross the Fold is by illuminating the way as the monsters can’t stand the light. The mission soon goes terribly wrong as the skiff is plunged in darkness. When Alina sees Mal getting grabbed by one of the Volcra something inside her breaks free and a blinding light emerges from her body. The Volcra retreat and the skiff returns to port, where Alina is taken to the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha (humans with magical abilities). Because of her extraordinary talent she is whisked away by the Darkling to the Little Palace, the place where all Grisha are trained. Once there she discovers that she’s stronger than she ever thought.

At the Little Palace Alina not only learns how to use her abilities as Sun Summoner, but she also learns to fight, to depend on herself and her own strengths. In short she discovers her selfworth and the person she is without Mal. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t need him in her life or that she doesn’t miss him, but all this time she has looked up to Mal and let him take the lead and now she has to deal with all the things that life throws at her without him.

Mal is also a great character. At the start you feel as though he is a bit of an arrogant jerk. As if looks and girls are all he cares about and that he takes Alina for granted. However, later on the reader gets to know the real Mal. A boy who excells at tracking, who cares deeply for his best friend and who will stop at nothing to keep Alina safe.

Mal and Alina are by no means the only two great characters in this book. The Darkling is an awesome character balancing between good and evil and who will keep you guessing the entire trilogy if he can be redeemed. He’s got so many dimensions that I’m still trying to figure out what I think of him. On the one hand he’s kind, lonely and intuitive. On the other hand he is terrible, cruel and willing to kill for what he wants. Another cool character is Genya. A Grisha girl who is treated as an outcast among her peers because of her talent to alter peoples looks and the way the king uses her as nothing more than a whore. Alina and Genya soon become best friends because they are both different than the other Grisha. But, is their friendship real or does Genya have an ulterior motive for befriending Alina?

The worldbuilding in this trilogy is awesome! The author has used parts of Russian history (especially that of the tsar period) to create a unique fantasy world where multiple countries are at war with each other. Ravka is the country where Alina lives and where the Grisha are part of the armed forces. Added to this well-developed worldbuilding is a very cool system of magic and magic users that’s explained in this picture 🙂

grisha orders

How cool is that? This system of magic is so well thought out and logical, making it utterly believable.

I absolutely loved the romance in this book. This was one of the only books where I didn’t mind the love triangle. The feelings between Alina and Mal were not evenly balanced at the start of the story making the fact that Alina was hurt and looking for someone to love her realistic and logical. The feelings between Alina and the Darkling seemed real and sincere in the beginning but soon you start to wonder if the Darkling has other reasons to seduce her. Therefore, when Mal returns and saves Alina and confesses that he does love her and that he didn’t notice this until she disappeared, it doesn’t come across as a cheap trick to create tension like in so many other YA books. The funny thing was that I loved both guys just as much, and didn’t have a preference for one or the other (at least not in this first book haha).

Everybody who loves fantasy, well-developed characters, an antagonist who balances between good and evil, awesome worldbuilding and a unique use of magic based in science should definitely read this one!