Tuesday 31 March 2015

EOM Wrap Up March


I've read 9 books this past month: 

A Prayer Heeded (A Prayer Series #2) by Samreen Ahsan
Animal by Nikki Rae
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Owlet (Society of Feathers #1) by Emma Michaels
Song of the Fireflies by J.A. Redmerski
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
The First Mrs Rochester and Her Husband by M.C. Smith
Rules for Riders by Natalie Scott
My Best Everything by Sarah Tromp


I have reviewed 8 books this past month:

Accession (Sarath Web #1) by Terah Edun
A Prayer Heeded (A Prayer Series #2) by Samreen Ahsan
Animal by Nikki Rae
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Owlet (Society of Feathers #1) by Emma Michaels
Song of the Fireflies by J.A. Redmerski
The First Mrs Rochester and Her Husband by M.C. Smith
Rules for Riders by Natalie Scott

Other posts:

New Releases in March
Band of the Month: You Me At Six
Interview with Oliver Sparrow author of Dark Sun, Bright Moon

Release Day Blitz: Becoming Rain (Burying Water Series #2) by K.A. Tucker
Release Day Launch: Fierce: A Fantasy Collection
Book Blitz: Rules for Riders by Natalie Scott
Book Blitz: Chasing Bristol (The Finding Trilogy #2) by Shane Morgan
Book Blast + Guestpost: Death Wish  (Ceruleans #1) by Megan Tayte

Top Ten Tuesday #52: Top Ten All Time Favorite Books From The Last Three Years
Top Ten Tuesday #53: Top Ten Books For Readers Who Like YA Contemporary Romance
Top Ten Tuesday #54: Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR
Top Ten Tuesday #55: Top Ten Books From My Teen Years I'd Like To Revisit
Top Ten Tuesday #56: Ten Books I Recently Added To My TBR List

Waiting on Wednesday #86: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark
Waiting on Wednesday #87: The Start of Me and You by Emmery Lord 
Waiting on Wednesday #88: The Secrets of Attraction by Robine Constantine 
Waiting on Wednesday #89: Glittering Shadows (Dark Metropolis #2) by Jaclyn Dolamore

Sunday Post #11
Sunday Post #12 & Stacking The Shelves #55
Sunday Post #13 & Stacking The Shelves #56
Sunday Post #14
Sunday Post #15 & Stacking The Shelves #57


Top Ten Tuesday #56: Ten Books I Recently Added To My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Broke and Bookish. This weeks topic is Ten Books I Recently Added To My TBR List


The Secret of Attraction by Robin Constantine
Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stepahnie Perkins
Joyride by Anna Banks
Easy Love (Boudreaux #1) by Kristen Proby
Caleb + Kate by Cindy Martinusen Coloma
Pointe by Brandy Colber
Soundless by Richelle Mead
The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
The Leveller (The Leveller #1) by Julia Durango
The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh


Monday 30 March 2015

Review: Rules for Riders by Natalie Scott

22791944Title: Rules for Riders
Author: Natalie Scott
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Perfect Bound Marketing
Publication date: September 6th 2014
Pages: 160 (paperback)
Source: Received from author

After a near fatal riding accident, Bebe Barkley is banned from riding and sent off to boarding school. Finn Foxley, her roommate and partner in crime, devise a plan to get themselves kicked out of school, in order to return to the world they love.
Once back on the Equestrian circuit, best friends will become deadly rivals! Enter Billy O'Reilly, Bebe's handsome trainer, who will enforce 7 Rules that will turn Bebe's world upside down forever.

I am always sad when I have to give a book a negative review, especially when the author was so nice to send me a review copy of it. I guess that this is one of the only negative sides of being a book blogger.

This book just wasn’t for me. To begin with it was to faced paced. A lot of thing happened in this short book but the author didn’t take the time to explore it all. She just told everything in one or two chapters and then moved on to the next topic. Honestly she could have filled a whole book with some of those topics.

Besides this the characters also didn’t make any sense to me. First of all Bebe’s father sends his son off to boarding school because he gets bullied, he really behaved like it was his sons fault. What kind of father is that? And then he sends of his daughter as well because she had an accident with her horse… Bebe herself wasn’t that much better either. She claims to be madly in love with her horse trainer but at the same time she takes every chance she gets to hook up with another guy. Out of sight, out of heart maybe? I don’t know but I didn’t like it at all.

The book is also promoted as a book about horse jumping. But it took up only a really small portion of this book. Half of the time I also didn’t understand what the author was talking about. If you don’t know anything about horses and horse jumping the book was hard to follow at times…


Sunday 29 March 2015

Sunday Post #15 & Stacking The Shelves #57

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news ~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on your blog for the week ahead.

This week was really normal, nothing special happened. It's been raining all weekend, especially today is really bad, so I couldn't go out to do something fun in the city. I hope that the weather will get better soon! On the bright side I received a copy of Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry through Netgally. Living in the UK definitely has it perks!

Last week on the blog: 

Next week on the blog:
  • Monday: EOM March Wrap UP | Review: Rules For Riders by Natalie Scott
  • Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday #56: Ten Books I Recently Added To My TBR List
  • Wednesday: Waiting On Wednesday #90 | Cover Reveal: Rachel's Deception (Temptation #4) by Karen Ann Hopkins
  • Thursday: New Releases April
  • Friday: Review: Hierophant (Virtual Arcana #5) by Karen Amanda Hooper

Showcase Sunday's/Stacking the Shelves aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week. This Sunday meme is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea and Tynga's Reviews:



Nowhere But Here (Thunder Road #1) by Katie McGarry


Friday 27 March 2015

Interview with Oliver Sparrow author of Dark Sun, Bright Moon

22805356Title: Dark Sun, Bright Moon
Author: Oliver Sparrow
Publication date: July 2014
Buy links: Amazon

"Dark Sun, Bright Moon describes people isolated in the Andes, without the least notion of outsiders. They evolve an understanding of the universe that is complementary to our own but a great deal wider. The book explores events of a thousand years ago, events which fit with what we know of the region's history,” says Sparrow.

In the Andes of a thousand years ago, the Huari empire is sick. Its communities are being eaten from within by a plague, a contagion that is not of the body but of something far deeper, a plague that has taken their collective spirit. Rooting out this parasite is a task that is laid upon Q’ilyasisa, a young woman from an obscure little village on the forgotten borders of the Huari empire.

This impossible mission is imposed on her by a vast mind, a sentience that has ambitions to shape all human life. Her response to this entails confrontations on sacrificial pyramids, long journeys through the Amazonian jungle and the establishment of not just one but two new empires. Her legacy shapes future Andean civilization for the next four hundred years, until the arrival of the Spanish.

Dark Sun, Bright Moon takes the reader on a fascinating adventure that includes human sacrifice, communities eaten from within, a vast mind blazing under the mud of Lake Titicaca, and the rise and fall of empires cruel and kind.


Q: What inspired you to write Dark Sun, Bright Moon?
A: I have had a great deal to do with Peru since I first went there in 1980. Its indigenous people were isolated from external influences for perhaps 10,000 years, and the more I understood of them, the more remarkable they became to me. Again in Peru last year, ! suffered a mining accident that led to osteomyelitis, a condition which which left me stuck at home with a pipe in my arm, delivering antibiotics. That seemed to be a a good moment to turn what I had learned of them into print.

Q: There are a lot of images in your book, why are they so important for the story?
A: Dark Sun, Bright Moon is a long, dense adventure story that takes place in a physical and social environment that is wholly unfamiliar to most readers. If you are writing about Victorian London, you can evoke it with a reference to fog, hansom cabs and a creaking pub sign; if the Wild West, an author can evoke a similar tranche of clich├ęs. The Peru of a thousand years ago has no such cultural references, however, and as a consequence, a simple picture can settle details in a person’s mind as can no number of words. Besides, I like the result.

The images mix photography with computer modeling, the whole being rendered with graphic filters into a common style. We put together a very large web site (http://www.all-peru.info) some years ago on a pro bono basis, and this required us to photograph the entire country. Most of the images comes from that source.

Q: How would you describe Dark Sun, Bright Moon in three words?
A: Uncanny historical adventure.

Q: Writing is something completely different than your normal job. So how did you become a writer?
I have become what Peter Drucker and similar gurus once advocated, a portfolio person. With the exception of some concrete ventures such as mining, my career has consisted chiefly of analyzing very complicated things and explaining them to busy people in as few words as possible. The step from scarcely-cloaked fiction to un-closeted, flaunting-itself commercial fiction was not that great. It is, too, wonderful to let rip without reference to proof – the charts, the graphs, the tables and footnotes – but to retain the disciplines of narrative coherence and of respect for the evidence. Notionally fact- based analysis of complex structures pretends that it does not rely on judgment. It does, but it is such a relief to write fiction and let the judgment fly free. So, a holiday to a country where I may very well decide to stay.

Q: You have visited Peru multiple times, which is your favorite part of the country and why?
A: In crude terms, the Andes separate the Eastern coastal desert and its icy ocean from the baking humidity of the Amazon. The pretty red little houses of the Western Andean villages given way to cloud forest in a zone which is called the “eyebrow of the jungle”. The Inca used to see this as the natural boundary of their world, believing everything lower down was corrupt, vile, deadly. I am very fond of it, however, not least as it is filled with orchids, a personal passion. Each valley has slightly different humming birds and the fuchsias they feed from; the parrots and macaws hang from different kinds of tree fern and the carpets of butterflies that occupy every moist spot that comes with a bit of sunshine also glitter differently. In the morning, vagrant patches of mist shift from pink to violet as they slide over the valley walls, and later in the day the convert to vertical
structures resembling a loaf of bread, out of which fall tiny rainstorms the size of a football field. Temperatures are equable, the humidity tolerable and relatively few things bite you if you sit on them. It is extraordinarily beautiful.

Q: Are any of the characters inspired on people you know or are they all creation of your mind?
A: I build characters out from an armature that is based on the traits that I want them to have: the big five, fluid intelligence, skills and blind spots, degree of autism, psychoticism, analytical and synthetic thinking, values-grounding. I generally put them through Myers Briggs tests to see how they come out, and to test for robustness in other ways before they get to interact with each other. If I use living people as templates, however, I find that as I prune off the here and now and the specific, they all become projections of aspects of myself. A rigorous approach puts your patrol line abreast in the plot-jungle, and not all following the same path.

Actually, I lie. Usco is probably the combination of an imaginary friend that I had when I was a child in the Bahamas and a Ridgeback dog that was my constant companion in Africa. I hope that he is as much fun for younger readers as those were for me when I was their age.

Q: Can you tell us three random facts about yourself?
A: Um. Six foot three, which makes me stand out in Andean villages, where I would guess the average height is just over five foot. I’ve generally been at my happiest in mountains, and spent the holidays of twenty years walking the Himalayas before returning to the Andes. I am delighted by orchids, and started to collect them when I was a child in Africa. These days, though, collection has strained natural populations to breaking point and I prefer just to look at them in their natural habitat.

Q:  How would you describe your main character(s) in five words?
A: Q’ilyasisa: hapless outsider transformed to social architect , eventually disembodied arbiter. Damn, that’s eight. Nine. Live with it.

Q: Why should everybody read Dark Sun, Bright Moon?
An ideal book, I suppose, informs as it entertains. Dark Sun, Bright Moon is a vigorous adventure story and you can read it at that level, but it has a rigorous internal logic that stems from the frankly bizarre metaphysic that the Andean people evolved during their ten thousand years of isolation. That in turn opens a way into a world that has never been touched upon in fiction, or indeed anything but academic archaeology. 

We have had a lot of reader feedback, which is posted at http://www.DarkSunBrightMoon.com A significant number of posts from Latin America seem to feel that we have unleashed dark forces, powers that had better have been left alone. That is nonsense, but although it is fiction, the book sticks close to what we know about intellectual life a thousand years ago. The reconstruction of the belief patterns is close enough for us to receive commendations from shamans in even the Philippines. (I had no idea that Peru trained Philippino shamans, but it appears that they do!) So, skimming the deeper material does, in my view, miss most of the fun.

A useful tip from readers is to go the Appendix after the action-man Section One: The Defence of the South, before moving into the longer and more complex second section.

Q: If you could tell all your readers something what would it be?
A: These questions of yours, fine though they are, are too general to fix the book in someone’s mind. We are a thousand years in the past, dealing with people who have no writing, no iron, no wheels, no understanding of a wider world. Nevertheless, they have insight into the nature of the universe that makes our science look timid. We – everything a reader knows – is sandwiched between two other realities, both vastly bigger than our universe, both inhabited by sentiences. Our world is a fragile thing, constructed moment by moment by one of these spaces at the direction of the other. Those directions in turn come from our own past. What has been dictates what will be. However, because nature is at equilibrium, most of the information that governs what happens next comes from unnatural activities, which in those times equates to human activity. Life establishes itself around these flows: apus, being that manage human communities for harmony, stability, permanence. Each community acquires its apus, indeed, as they do today in the contemporary Andes. The apu may be referred to as San Pedro, but there he is on his peak and the community go up to dance for him.

Apus “feed” on flows that reflect community harmony or stability. They can push this reciprocity too far, roboticising a village and quickly killing off its people. Rulers recognize the symptoms and disperse the people before this can take root. When Dark Sun, Bright Moon begins, however, a far more subtle plague is spreading across the Andes, debasing local apus and debauching their communities. It will kill the entire highland population if it is not stopped. Yachaq’, of whom today’s shamans are a poor shadow, can partly enter the parallel domains of reality. High yachaq’ who are the product of hundreds of generations of refinement, can effect meaningful change in them. Our young heroine, living in poverty with a dysfunctional family, marooned in a peripheral village on the very edge of the Andes, inherits the burden of her Grandfather’s power and is set by other major forces to breaking the plague. But in the end, she achieves far more than that.

There are two videos (4, 7 minutes) that go into this in more depth at http://www.DarkSunBrightMoon.com

Thank you so much Oliver!!


Chapter 1: A Small Sacrifice at Pachacamac

A priest knelt before her, a feather from his head-dress tickling her face. His musky odour of old incense and stale blood was rank, even here on the windy summit of the pyramid. Four other priests held her body tipped slightly forwards, and the pressure that this put on her tired old joints hurt far more than the fine, cold bite of the knife at her neck. Quick blood ran thick down her chin and splashed into the waiting bowl. Then the flow weakened, the strength went out of her and she died, content.

Seven elderly pilgrims had set out for Pachacamac, following their familiar river down to the coast and then trudging North through the desert sands. Two of the very oldest of them needed to be carried in litters, but most were able to walk with no more than a stick to help them in the sand. Lesser members of the community had been delegated to carry what was necessary. These would return home. The elderly would not.

The better-regarded families of the town were expected to die as was proper, sacrificed at the Pachacamac shrine for the betterment of the community. Such was to be their last contribution of ayni, of the reciprocity that assured communal harmony and health. It was also their guarantee of a smooth return to the community's soul, to the deep, impersonal structure from which they had sprung at birth.

The Pachacamac complex appeared to them quite suddenly from amongst the coastal dunes. They paused to marvel at its mountain range of pyramids, its teeming myriad of ancient and holy shrines.

Over the millennia, one particular pyramid had come to process all of the pilgrims who came from their valley. They were duly welcomed, and guards resplendent in bronze and shining leather took them safely to its precinct.

They had been expected. The priests were kind, welcoming them with food and drink, helping the infirm, leading them all by easy stages up to the second-but-last tier in their great, ancient pyramid. The full extent of the meandering ancient shrine unveiled itself like a revelation as they climbed. Then, as whatever had been mixed with their meal took its effect, they were wrapped up snug in blankets and set to doze in the late evening sun, propped together against the warm, rough walls of the mud-brick pyramid. Their dreams were vivid, extraordinary, full of weight and meaning.

The group was woken before dawn, all of them muzzily happy, shriven of all their past cares, benignly numb. Reassuring priests helped them gently up the stairs to the very top tier. In the predawn light, the stepped pyramids of Pachacamac stood sacred and aloof in an ocean of mist.

Each pilgrim approached their death with confidence. A quick little discomfort would take them back to the very heart of the community from which they had been born. They had been separated from it by the act of birth, each sudden individual scattered about like little seed potatoes. Now, ripe and fruitful, they were about to return home, safely gathered back into the community store. It was to be a completion, a circle fully joined. Hundreds of conch horns brayed out across Pachacamac as the dawn sun glittered over the distant mountains. Seven elderly lives drained silently away as the mist below turned pink.

About the Author

Oliver SparrowOliver Sparrow was born in the Bahamas, raised in Africa and educated at Oxford to post-doctorate level, as a biologist with a strong line in computer science. He spent the majority of his working life with Shell, the oil company, which took him into the Peruvian jungle for the first time. He was a director at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House for five years. He has started numerous companies, one of them in Peru, which mines for gold. This organisation funded a program of photographing the more accessible parts of Peru, and the results can be seen at http://www.all-peru.info. Oliver knows modern Peru very well, and has visited all of the physical sites that are described in his book Dark Sun, Bright Moon.
To learn more, go to http://www.darksunbrightmoon.com/ 


Thursday 26 March 2015

Review: The First Mrs Rochester and Her Husband by M.C. Smith

17399445Title: The First Mrs Rochester and Her Husband
Author: M.C. Smith
Genre: Retelling, Historical fiction, Adult
Publication date: February 15th 2013
Pages: 306 (paperback)
Source: received from author

He is the unloved second son of an old and esteemed family. She is breathtaking and rich bun unknowingly carries the seeds of a devastating illness. Their fathers strike a convenient bargain which their children have little choice but to accept. Products of their time, Bertha Mason and Edward Rochester marry for financial security and respectability although they scarcely know one another.

At best, they will become comfortable companions who grow to love one another.
At worst...

Jane Eyre is my favorite classic, maybe even my favorite in general. When the author approached me with the question if I wanted to read The First Mrs Rochester and Her Husband I didn’t have to think twice. Their story has always fascinated me because we know little to nothing about them.

In this book we got to know their history a little better. We got to know the exact reason why he married her in the first place and why he decided to leave her behind at Thornfield Hall of all places. But one of the most interesting things was that the story was told in both Berthas’ as Mr Rochester’s perspective. At first I didn’t really like Edward. He was quiet selfish, he rather married a complete stranger then work for his money. And after he dumped her at his home, because let’s face it that is exactly what he did, he went off to Europe and lived and eccentric like a bachelor. But he really made up for his past at the end of the book. He became a humble man who appreciated the people who stood beside him no matter what had happened. And I already knew that I would end up liking him. Most of all we finally got to know what was going on inside her head all this time and how she was feeling about the whole situation. I have always felt a little bad for her, she might not be mentally right but being locked away in a room cannot improve her condition.

I wouldn’t have minded if the author explored more the first weeks/months/years of their marriage. Because know she told their whole story in one, short, book. And I believe that their first years of marriage could have been really fascinating for us readers. I also missed that there was no real conversation between the characters, the author just told us what was happening and the only two characters who seemed to talk were Edward and Bertha.

Overall I really liked this story. If you are, like me, a fan of Jane Eyre than I would recommend reading this book since it gives a nice extra touch to the original story. 


Wednesday 25 March 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #89: Glittering Shadows (Dark Metropolis #2) by Jaclyn Dolamore

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. It spotlights books that have not yet been released, but ones that you should pre-order today! This week's book that I am anxiously awaiting is:

Glittering Shadows
by Jaclyn Dolamore


The revolution is here.

Bodies line the streets of Urobrun; a great pyre burns in Republic Square. The rebels grow anxious behind closed doors while Marlis watches as the politicians search for answers - and excuses - inside the Chancellery.

Thea, Freddy, Nan, and Sigi are caught in the crossfire, taking refuge with a vibrant, young revolutionary and mysterious healer from Irminau. As the battle lines are drawn, a greater threat casts a dark shadow over the land. Magic might be lost - forever.

This action-packed sequel to Dark Metropolis weaves political intrigue, haunting magic, and heartbreaking romance into an unforgettable narrative. Dolamore's lyrical writing and masterfully crafted plot deliver a powerful conclusion.


Why I Can't Wait

I read Dark Metropolis last year and I really liked it. Ever since then I'm curious to find out how this story will continue. I can't wait to see what will happen in this book.

Publication date: June 16th 2015


Tuesday 24 March 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #55: Top Ten Books From My Teen Years I'd Like To Revisit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Broke and Bookish. This weeks topic is Top Ten Books From My Teen Years I'd Like To Revisit

True my teen years are only a couple of years ago but all the books I read as a child were in Dutch. And most of them were never published in English. So I thought that it was a bit stupid to post about books no one knows and no one can probably ever read themselves. I'm going to post books that I've read in my early teens and that I wished I could reread for the first time. 

The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon: I had to read this book when I was 15 or 16. I remember that I din't like it at all back then. But I am pretty sure that if I reread the book now that I would appreciate it a lot more.


Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick: I loved this book so much when I first read it. After that I read the second book and while I loved it I somehow never managed to finish this series. By now my taste in books have changed somewhat but I'm really curious to find out if I would still like this book as much as I did first.


The Song of Troy by Colleen McCullough: I read this book for a school assignment when I was 16. The whole history of Troy has always fascinated me and this book was really good. I remember that it took me ages to read it. Someday I want to reread it, because I am sure that I missed a lot of details while reading it for the first time.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling: I read part of this book when I was maybe 8 but back then I didn't like it all. Many years later I came across it again, somewhere tucked away on a bookshelf back home. I remember that I was bored that day so I decided to read it. Best choice of my life!


Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen: This was the first classic that I've ever read. Ever since then I am in love with books that are written around this time. It still is one of my favorite Jane Austen books. 


Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: Who doesn't know their story? Somehow their young naive love has always appealed to me. I know that he has written much better plays, but this one just sticks with me no matter what.


The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory: This is the first book that I've read by this author. The Tudor dynasty and the whole English history with their kings and queens have always fascinated me. By now I now a lot more about this period so I would love to read this book again to see how close it sticks to reality.


About a Boy by Nick Hornby: I had to read this book for English class in high school. I remember that I liked it but I think that I would love it even more now because my knowledge of English was so limited back then. 


City of Bones by Cassandra Clare: I read this book four or five years ago and I wasn't really impressed by it. I couldn't understand why everyone was so in love with this book. Many years later I read her The Infernal Devices in English and I loved that series. So I believe that maybe I didn't like this one as much because I read it in Dutch. That's why I want to reread it in English this time.


Twilight by Stephenie Meyers: I was in love with this book (like so many other teens) when it was first released. This was the book that got me into reading again. Since then I've read many other books and my taste in books have changed. So when I reread it again now I don't love it as much anymore as I used to. That's why I wished that I could reread this book for the first time and see why I loved it so much in the first place.