Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Ape That Understood the Universe by Steve Stewart-Williams

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 Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve by Steve Stewart-Williams
Expected publication: September 30th 2018 by Cambridge University Press

The Ape that Understood the Universe is the story of the strangest animal in the world: the human animal. It opens with a question: How would an alien scientist view our species? What would it make of our sex differences, our sexual behavior, our child-rearing patterns, our moral codes, our religions, languages, and science? The book tackles these issues by drawing on ideas from two major schools of thought: evolutionary psychology and cultural evolutionary theory. The guiding assumption is that humans are animals, and that like all animals, we evolved to pass on our genes. At some point, however, we also evolved the capacity for culture - and from that moment, culture began evolving in its own right. This transformed us from a mere ape into an ape capable of reshaping the planet, travelling to other worlds, and understanding the vast universe of which we're but a tiny, fleeting fragment.

This is a nonfiction that I stumbled upon the other day while I was browsing Amazon. It doesn't release until September but I think it sounds super fascinating. It already has some amazing advanced praise so that makes me even more excited. I've always had an interest in evolutionary psychology but I haven't found any books about this certain subject recently so I was excited right away when I read the synopsis. It just sounds like some great brain food for me. :D

Don't forget to enter my giveaway that I'm hosting to win a book of choice from TBD. 2 winners, open INTL — Click here

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

My Top 5 Books — Books I Read Before Goodreads

Today I'm sharing 5 books that I read before I joined Goodreads, which was back in early 2011. Those were the times where I had to go to the bookstore  and their tiny English selection to see what they books had. I'm excluding the Artemis Fowl books for this because I read  the Dutch translated version when I was 13 so they don't really count. Sorry, Arty.

Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
YA, Paranormal
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This is the book that introduced me to Kim Harrison and her wonderful writing. I really love this trilogy and feel like it doesn't get enough recognition or that not many readers know about it. My favorite character was Barnabas and I'm still mad Madison couldn't have ended up with him somehow. 

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
YA, Paranormal/Fantasy
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Wings was my first book that was about faeries. And oh I loved it so so so so much. And these books are still four of my all time favorite covers. The faeries in this book are pretty different from the ones you see these days that are more deadly but they still have a place in my heart. Oh and team Tamani all the way, right?!

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
YA, Urban Fantasy
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Christina from Booklover's Tea Party recommended this book to me and I thought well why not it sounds good. I really didn't think I'd still be reading books in the Shadowhunter world. So the book that began it all will always be special to me. And I'm so glad Christina got me to read it so many years ago.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
YA, Dystopia/Science Fiction
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The Host is an amazing book. You can say whatever you want about Twilight. Hate it or love it (I love it personally) but The Host is the one that I think is Meyer's best one. The movie of The Host was awful, though. Absolutely the worst movie adaption ever. But seriously I looooove this book and in the days before Goodreads all I did was reread this book. I must've reread it 6 times or so in total and I hope I can reread it this year because it's been a while. And let's just all agree that Ian O'Shea was the best damn human being, okay? 

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Urban Fantasy

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Bitten is the book that introduced me to the awesome Kelley Armstrong. I've also read a couple of her YA books but Bitten is my favorite of hers. I've only read the first two books in this series so I do have some more reading to do. Elena and Clay will always be two of my most favorite couples in literature and the side characters were all amazing as well. + I really liked the tv show.

Which of these titles have you read or what books that you read years 
ago would you recommend?

Monday, May 21, 2018

ARC Review: Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Title: Furyborn
Author: Claire Legrand
Series: Empirium #1
Publication: May 22nd 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | Kobo
Rating: 5/5

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.

I don't know if I'm going to be able to find the right words to express my love for Furyborn. Obviously it was amazing because otherwise I wouldn't have rated it with five stars. So yes it was amazing, well written, action-packed and full of twists. The perfect fantasy book, in my opinion. 

The book was basically two stories in one. First of all we have Rielle Dardenne who's been keeping her power over all seven elements secret for years until she has to safe her best friend who's also the crown prince of Celdaria. 
Second, we have Eliana Ferracora who lives a thousand years later where the tale of Rielle is nothing but a story. Eliana is an assassin for the Undying Empire until her mother disappears without a trace and she joins the rebels to find her.

I absolutely loved these two stories in one. We know from the start that Rielle's story doesn't have a happily ever after but with each chapter that revolves around her we get more and more of her story, which was truly epic. Eliana's story was equally riveting, I thought. I love reading books feauturing female assassins so I must say that my preference went out to Eliana in the end. But I really did enjoy reading about both of them. The story in itself was also really fascinating with how power like Rielle possessed it could go both ways, good or evil.

I also wanna say that the secondary characters in this book were fantastic as well. I have some favorites like Simon (I ship the hell out of him with a certain assassin...) and I also totally loved Zahra, who came a bit later into the story but that doesn't mean she wasn't amazing. The story definitely had a great cast of characters in general, even the villains like Corien who I thought was really fascinating. I'm sorry but the bad boys steal my heart. And another thing... angels. I don't want to give too much away but this book features angels. And everyone who knows me just a little bit knows I'm not a fan of books with angels but damn these angels. They're something else. I was simply hooked.

At the start of the book I hadn't expected Furyborn to end up in my top five of favorite books that I read in 2017. The book doesn't release until May 2018 so the wait for the sequel is going to be absolutely horrible but I'm sure it'll be worth the wait because I'm super excited to see how it will all continue.

{Another thing I want to mention but that has nothing to do with Furyborn is that in 2014 I read another book by Claire Legrand: Winterspell, a retelling of The Nutcracker story. And yes, it was as amazing as it sounds so I'd also highly recommend that book.}

Author bio:
Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now she is a writer and librarian living in central New Jersey (although her heart will always live in her home state of Texas).

Her first novel is The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, one of the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2012. She is also the author of The Year of Shadows, a ghost story for middle grade readers; and Winterspell, a young adult re-telling of The Nutcracker. Some Kind of Happiness, her middle grade novel about mental illness, family secrets, and the power of storytelling, is a 2017 Edgar Award Nominee. Claire’s latest novel, Foxheart, is a classic fantasy-adventure and a 2016 Junior Library Guild selection. She is one of the four authors behind The Cabinet of Curiosities, an anthology of dark middle grade short fiction that was a Junior Library Guild selection, a Bank Street Best Book, and among the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2014.

Her work is represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.
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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Stacking The Shelves: May 19, 2018

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

I haven't read it yet but I'm so glad I finally got my hands on it! Also, this might be my favorite cover out of them all.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
I won this book from Olivia @ The Candid Cover and I can't wait to read it. I hope I'll end up loving it because this book sounds amazing!

Clash of Empires by Ben Kane
I was super surprised that my order of this book already was in my mailbox yesterday. It only arrived in 3 days from the book depository and it usually takes 10-14 days so I'm not sure what happened but oh I am so glad! 

Tardis Magnetic Bookmark
from Hello Papers Co
I've wanted a magnetic Tardis bookmark for ages but didn't realize Hello Papers Co had one on her Etsy store. When I found out I ordered it right away. I love it so much!

Naughty Desires by Sarah Castille
Piece of Work by Staci Hart

For Review:
Breakaway by Michelle Diener
The Isle of Gold by Seven Jane

Don't forget to enter my giveaway that I'm hosting to win a book of choice from TBD. 2 winners, open INTL — Click here

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Twilight Empress by Faith L. Justice

Title: Twilight Empress
Author: Faith L. Justice

Publication: May 8th 2017 by Raggedy Moon Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | iBooksKobo | Smashwords

Rating: 4/5

One woman battles the coming Dark Ages. "Twilight Empress" tells the little-known story of a remarkable woman: Placidia, sister to one of the last Roman Emperors. Roman Empress and Gothic Queen, Placidia does the unthinkable: she rules the failing Western Roman Empire. A life of ambition, power, and intrigue she doesn't seek, but can't refuse, her actions shape the face of Western Europe for centuries. A woman as well as an empress, Placidia suffers love, loss, and betrayal. Can her intelligence, tenacity, and ambition help her survive and triumph over scheming generals, rebellious children, and Attila the Hun?

If there's a type of story I like more than anything it's books about little-known and strong women from history. As someone who's a self-proclaimed history geek I always jump on the chance to read books like this. That's why I loved Twilight Empress so much, along with several other reasons I will state below. It's also been a long time since I stayed up late to finish a book, which is what I did with this one. I just couldn't stop reading and had this intense need to know how it all would end. 

Twilight Empress takes place in the 5th century in the Western Roman Empire that is declining steadily and Placidia is the sister to one of the last Roman Emperors, Honorius. The story starts with her having to flee and getting taken hostage by Alaric, king of the Visigoths who successfully sacked Rome. I can sincerely say I was hooked right from the very first page. The story and the character of Placidia as well as several of the side characters fascinated me so much. It was hard to put the book down because I didn't want to stop reading. 

What captivated me the most, though, was the writing. I loved the lush descriptions because they made me really feel as if I was in the Late Antiquity that the story takes place in. That's honestly all I want from a story, especially when it's historical fiction. As for secondary characters, I loved so many of them. I absolutely loved Placidia's first husband Ataulf (who was also king of the Visigoths), Lucilla, Sigisvult... so there was definitely no lack of great characters to get invested in and rooting for.

There were so many various themes in this book that I almost couldn't keep track of them. There's love, revenge, loss, obligation and so on. Placidia felt it all so very deeply and changed immensely from the beginning of the book until the very end. The tragedies she experienced throughout her life were extremely sad but they also gave her the purpose to go on. I must admit that I didn't always liked her as a person but that's why her character developement was remarkably on point in that area, which is something that I think is very important in any book. The author did that very nicely.  

As always I would highly recommend any future readers of this book to read the author's note because she goes more into how historically accurate the story actually was (I think she did well in that area) and how she shaped the story. She mentions in it that she fell in love with the Theodosian women: Placidia, Pulcheria and Athenais. Those last two were also characters in this book. I can say that I feel the same now because I just want to research them and learn everything there is to know about them. Overall, I really enjoyed Twilight Empress and can't wait to read more books by Faith L. Justice. I want to read them all!

Author bio:
Faith L. Justice writes award-winning novels, short stories and articles published in venues such as, Writer's Digest, and The Copperfield Review. A varied life provides the staples for Faith's stories. Day jobs included lifeguard, paralegal, computer systems analyst, human resources executive, college professor, and freelance writer. Travel and research provides the spice. She haunted the leading museums of Europe, tramped the streets of ancient ruins, and volunteered at archaeological sites. Currently, Faith writes in her historic home "The Suffragette House" in Brooklyn, New York where she lives with her family and cats. Sample her stories and books, check out her blog, find out where she travels next, or ask Faith a question at her website:
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