Book Recommendation/book review

A STRANGE BEGINNING: A STAND-ALONE Biographical NOVEL (The Lord Byron Series Book 1)

Gretta Curran Brown

“My name alone shall be my epitaph.” — BYRON

This book is a biographical, historical novel and covers Lord Byron’s life from the age of 10 to his early 20s. If you love series such as Poldark and Downtown Abbey this book is perfect for you!


The author has done substantial research on Byron’s life so that makes it all the more worthwhile.

The story starts with 10-year-old George Gordon (Byron) living in Aberdeen, Scotland with his unstable Scottish mother and her servant. He uses his mother’s surname, Gordon, since his father, Lord Byron, had lost all his money and left when he was little, promised to return, but died with debts, leaving his wife and son without much means of support. George doesn’t know about his true English aristocracy yet until later. His mother was abusive physically and emotionally manipulative and his servant sexually abused him. To add to his troubles, Byron was born with one deformed foot for which he gets bullied by other children. Life was miserable for him until the 5th Baron Byron of Rochdale, England, declared him his heir. The requirement was that the boy took the surname Byron in order to obtain his inheritance. When he dies, young George traveled to England as the rightful heir and lord. George from then on lived with his mother and servants at Newstead Abbey, an estate in Nottinghamshire that was the Byron ancestral home. He was sent to the best schools, Harrow and Cambridge, and adjusted to a life of leisure for the first time. From then on he finds himself friends and when he comes back home he falls in love with the girl next door, Mary, though they can never marry as she is promised to another man of wealth and status, yet it is his love for her that fuels all his romantic poetry for the rest of his life.

It is a well-written, fascinating and enjoyable read and I found myself wanting to know more and warmed up to George who is intelligent, steadfast, likable, kind, and humble. I loved learning about his early life and his love for animals and nature and his warm, poetic heart, and to read some of his inspirations for his poetry, as well as his travels abroad to countries such as Portugal, Albania, Turkey, and Greece. I would recommend this book for fans of period dramas, biographies, and fans of Lord Byron’s poetry or poets in general in the late 18th century.

You can find the book HERE

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5 Fantasy Lesfic books for FREE for you!

Surprise! For those who haven’t read these 5 books here is your chance!

There are 20 FREE copies for each book to be had so be quick before they run out! You can choose between a kindle book, a PDF, or epub for other tablets or reading devices.

Click on the images below to claim yours today:

When Fay and Zemandu — two powerful women of a very different nature, yet both the last of their kind — cross paths, they’ll forever change the course of humanity, but at what cost?
Suspenseful, romantic, and seeped in Irish myth and magic, ‘The Cursed’ captures a dramatic (young) adult lesbian-fairytale twist on ‘Lir’s Children’ and the power of love, hope, and patience.
When beautiful but lonely Iras of the Bear tribe sees a bright star in the night sky she soon disappears without a trail. Aponi, a Pawnee outcast, comes across the clan and hears about Iras’ mysterious vanishing. She decides to start an investigation of her own. Her search takes her up the mountain where an old woman gives her clues. 
Will one of the mysterious guests of the Queen Mother Xi Wang Mu’s birthday know of a way to end Xian’s immortality or will she have to live on until eternity with her painful memories?
Born with both male and female gender traits Yarden never truly belonged to either sex or wanted to conform just to be able to “fit in”. Living and working as a travelling artist, Yarden tries to avoid the masses as much as possible.
One day, Jalmaz appears and the artists’ world gets turned upside-down.

All I ask in return is a short review. Only one in 30 book buyers leaves a review these days as many just tend to forget! But it means a lot to me and for my books to get seen by new readers among the millions of books on Amazon, positive ratings and reviews pushes the books up the chards! Just one or two sentences makes all the difference! Thank you very much for reading and your continuous support!

Happy reading!

Natasja Hellenthal

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Book Recommendation/Book review

The Seep

Chana Porter

“I’ll tell you a secret. This is something no one else knows. But you’re my oldest and dearest friend and I want to share this with you. This isn’t my real face.”

To me, a good book has to have a few essential things apart from style and it being well-written: believable characters with flaws and emotions, a good plot that is going somewhere, good world-building, and above all a powerful change. A change that has lessons to learn from. I have come across books that have all of the above, they just tick all the boxes, but that book list however will only fit on one-page maximum despite all my reading. There are books that are simply enjoyable and light and I may take something out of them for one reason or another, again other books I might like and will recommend despite not wanting to read them again, yet others are breath-taking and simply amazing. It is those books that have a lasting impact on me and to those, I will return for comfort or as a reminder of what I loved about them in the first place. It’s like love affairs! The difference between flings, infatuations, and true lasting love!

I read a lot. I mean, a lot. I get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t! Books are my salvation, my comfort, my teachers, my soul food. But I am choosy when it comes to which books I read, even more so over time. I can no longer read books with too much violence, abuse, murder, scary stuff, or even boring romance without a good storyline or a decent message. It was Stephen King who said there are 3 functions of storytelling: entertainment, escapism, and education. For me, that rings true, books also have to resonate with me, as if they speak to me personally and to my soul and the path I am currently on. Sometimes I don’t even finish a book if it doesn’t hold my attention past twenty percent, or the characters are too weak or if I don’t like them, there is unnecessary violence, or if the plot is lacking so I skip to the end to find out what happened often confirming my reservations about the book. I mean, why waste my time, right? Some might say I miss out on really great books this way, but I don’t know, my instinct is often right. And everybody is different, what may be a great book to me might not for you and vice-versa. Despite it being well-written, it has to grab me. I suppose that is why there is such a thing as a rating system on platforms such as Amazon and Goodreads. Some good books deserve three or four stars and they may still be good books, but they lack something that your most beloved books don’t. It is a personal opinion after all. And that may change over time because we change. I may have read some books I absolutely adored when growing up, or when I was a young adult, and which were meaningful at the time, but when I reread them now, it won’t be the same and that is fine. So…let me tell you about…THE SEEP by Chana Porter.

THE SEEP is one of those rare finds that have become one of my favourite top reads to cherish already and I couldn’t stop talking about it for days! It is one of those rare, gorgeous treats you just want to indulge yourself in and you don’t want it to end. It’s a book that is already recognised by the literary world and it has received numerous awards since its release last year. Everything is just right with this book: the feelings portrayed by the main characters, the style, the dry humour, the raw emotions of loss and not wanting to let go of what is familiar and safe, a study of what identity is, and the impossibility of perfection. It is a utopian near-futuristic novella and weird at times but all in a good way, not like an Octavia Butler book for example, as nothing is too obscure like in most other utopian or alien invasion books. It’s not a long read but it feels longer and I like that! I read this with an open mind and everything made perfect sense to me especially because everything feels so familiar. This is our life and this is what could happen if presented with this kind of experience to people. That is why I love speculative fiction so much. It explores all possibilities.

The main character is Tina, a fifty-year-old Native-American transwoman and likable and easy to identify with regardless of the reader’s own gender or sexuality. She has been married to Deeba for a while and lives a good life with friends. They drink, they party, they have meaningful conversations. When alien beings without a physical body come to Earth in the form of a substance that can enable psychic bonds between all living matter, whereby you can be transformed into anything imaginably. Humans can turn into other species, or give themselves animal-like qualities like horns and scales and wings; they can become other genders or ethnicities, and they can even take on the very faces of people they know and admire. A great many people are concerned about what that might mean for the world and the human way of life. Some people choose to live in special compounds designed for them and continue life as if the aliens have not come at all. The compounds are co-created by the humans and the benevolent aliens who are known as The Seep who only wished to give humanity as many different choices in life as possible so that all beings may be free, happy, and at peace. The hive-like aliens have done this by adding chemicals to the water supply that alter people’s personalities and the chemical structures that make up their bodies and the rest of the organic materials on Earth. Suddenly, our planet is peaceful, blissful, capitalism is gone, hierarchies are broken down, violence is gone, separation is gone and all things are possible… but instead of Earth becoming a utopia, it becomes a orgiastic love fest where everyone is just part of a seething mass of modified bodies writhing together towards some hazy idea of what is good. The concept is clever, even the execution of it. It reminded me of the sixties hippies on drugs raving about transcendence without really grasping it, but rather losing themselves.

Tina is one of the rare people who still, twenty years later, doesn’t really fully embrace this new change especially as her wife of many years announces she wants to become a baby (!) and leaves her to begin her new life in the South of France with Persian parents. Tine is heartbroken since in the whole, identity is so crucial to her own experience, she is horrified by what she sees around her as a tremendously insensitive act of mass misuse and of course because she loses her wife. We follow her as she grieves like a widow and slowly tries to find herself again amidst a world that has turned upside down. Understandably she is seeking revenge against someone who is using The Seep in an evil way, someone who used to be her friend, and a young boy who is untouched by The Seep she needs to protect from him. I loved the pamphlet The Seep talks through and that could read her mind. It is the closest we come to talking and understanding the aliens.

Above all the story is an exploration of what it really means to be human as explored through the eyes of an entity that is not.

“People need to give each other space to make choices. We can’t live solely for other people. Even if it hurts them. Even when it breaks your heart.”

“I’ve come to understand that all things are letters. That is, all words are messages, and all actions are known and recorded, in some way or another.”

“We’re only on this planet to grow and change, and sometimes that can only happen through struggle.”

It’s great to see a science-fiction work that features an older woman of color who is LGBT+, as a lot of popular science-fiction books tend to feature younger, heterosexual white heroes and heroines.

I was also happy to find a short story at the end of the main story, so make sure you read that one if you want to find out more about one of the young protagonists mentioned in the main story called Aki, and his escape from one of the compounds. It is just as recommended! I can’t wait to find more books by the same author as this is her debut novel I really hope she will write more books about The Seeps, or other books similar! I am a new fan! You don’t have to be a fan of science fiction to enjoy this book. This is a book for our times. Read it!

The book can be found HERE

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Interesting article:

Humans Are One Mixed-Up Ape

Recent fossilized bone discoveries in China and Israel support the exciting possibility of new, previously unknown species of archaic humans that wandered the planet alongside Homo sapiens. These discoveries pose new questions regarding the nature of our interaction with other archaic human species.

Todd Disotell, a biological anthropologist and molecular primatologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has headed research on primate genome sequencing, which at first concluded Homo sapiens didn’t interbreed with other species of early humans. But his and other scientists’ subsequent research has now reversed this conclusion, revealing that in fact hominins, or early humans, such as Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, Denisovans (first identified in Siberia in 2010), did interbreed. The evolution of humans is now best pictured not as a simple tree with branches but, Disotell says, borrowing the priceless term from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “shrubbery.

I like to joke that the Middle Pleistocene was a lot like Middle Earth where you had Dwarves and Elves and Orcs.

Disotell, a member of the Center for the Study of Human Origin group at New York University talks about the truths of human evolution hiding in our genome. He casually revealed five surprises regarding our evolutionary history. His insights include recurring facts about introgressions—the transfer of genetic material from one species to another—that have upended the simple family tree of our evolution. This interview is presented under six headings and entirely in Disotell’s words.

Our Viral Origin

About 10 percent of our genome has a viral origin. Some of these viruses are ancient. They go all the way back to vertebrates. Some are more recent. Most of them were originally retroviruses, which insert themselves into the genome, much like HIV. But, over time, mutations occur and now they’re just woven into our DNA. If mutations occur in key regions of the viral DNA, it can make the viral DNA inactive so it can’t re-infect. We call those endogenous retroviruses. Some of them have become reactivated in the sense that certain proteins can be produced, not as a viral particle but as a protein. Some of these are quite important. One is associated with placental development. It allows the placenta to basically invade the uterus. That goes all the way back to the origin of placental mammals. Now it’s basically universally used in mammals.

This viral DNA complicates the tree of life because some viruses can pick up strands of DNA from other organisms. Then, when they infect other organisms, their descendants will have snippets of DNA from another branch of the tree of life. That’s pretty cool. You’ve brought branches of the tree of life together in a single organism. If you look at the branches of life, it’s not one clean tree. Instead of a bifurcating tree, I refer to human evolution as being more like a bush. A short, chubby bush with many branches—a “shrubbery,” to get Pythonesque.

Our Interbreeding Ancestors

In the last few hundred thousand years, multiple species of hominins existed and interbred with each other. In fact, I use this as a teachable moment in my classes to show that scientists can be wrong. I was wrong! Right before we discovered this, I wrote a series of papers that indicated there was no interbreeding. That was the basis of the Out of Africa model, that Homo sapiens replaced earlier hominids. All that data was from mitochondrial DNA. We didn’t think we were ever going to get data from nuclear DNA. But with new technologies, we can sequence billions of bases; little tiny fragments of them 50 to 100 bases long. If you can do billions of them, you can piece together the genome. We managed to get it out of Neanderthals initially, and lo and behold, when we screened those genomes against modern humans, people of Eurasian ancestry—and that includes Native Americans who came from Eurasia—have 1.5 to 2 percent Neanderthal DNA in them. After the sequencing with Denisovans, we realized that some people in Asia and Oceania—Papua New Guinea, the peninsulas of Indonesia, and Australia—had Denisovan DNA. Some of the people from New Guinea had a surprisingly high percent—as much as 5 percent. In Africa, it looks like there were two or three archaic introgressions—basically hybridization between two populations or species—in the last 50,000 to 100,000 years, and it looks like it was the same in India. I think there are up to seven or eight archaic introgressions into the human genome in different populations. I like to joke that the Middle Pleistocene was a lot like Middle Earth where you had Dwarves and Elves and Orcs; all these different creatures cohabiting the planet. 

Our Messy Genome

There is about 1 percent difference between our genes and a chimpanzee’s. But even the big phenotypic differences we see between people are only skin deep. If you look at every ape protein, they have every bone we have, every muscle we have, the same type of hair, and on and on. They’re just better adapted to their tropical rainforest environment.

About 15 percent of a chimp’s genome is closely related to gorillas. That means if we go back 7 or 8 million years ago, before humans, chimps, and gorillas split, you would have had a huge and variable population of apes. When you look at what region of Africa they were from, who mated with whom, and who diverged from whom, you have what we call “incomplete lineage sorting.” If you have a variable, incestual population, not all the descendants have the same alleles, or versions of a gene. When apes begin to diverge, for whatever reason, they would have still been able to interbreed with each other because they wouldn’t have been a separate species yet. With an ancestrally variable population, and subpopulations diverging after that, they’re going to carry with them different proportions of a species into their descended species.

Everyone wants their fossil to be the “oldest human fossil.”

When you look at our genome, you see this messiness from the ancestral variation. This gets back to the evolutionary tree being neither a clean thing within modern humans nor within human origins. New fossils are being discovered all the time. But it seems for every 5- to 7-million-year-old fossil we find, somebody says, “It’s human!” It could be. It could be chimp. It could be gorilla. I think it’s just bias showing. Everyone wants their fossil to be the “oldest human fossil.” 

Our Brains Aren’t That Unique

Our brain is the most different thing from our relatives because it’s so enlarged. There are definitely a few unique genes but not really many. Humans have extra copies of some genes that aren’t found in other primates. Most genes related to our brain development are found in other primates, but we may have more copies of them, or the expression and regulation of them might be different. Chimps have also evolved in the last millions of years, and the main difference between them and other ancestors seems to be with mating-related genes involving testes and sperm competition. We seem to have more changes in our brain genes, but they seem to have the most change in genes related to mating. Chimps are extremely promiscuous, so if you want to be the father, you have to contend with the female having mated with multiple males. Thus, the more swimmers you produce, the more likely one of them is to win.

We also now know, with the discovery of several new African hominids like Homo naledi and Australopithecus sediba, that some other species of humans—and remember the bushiness of human evolution—developed smaller brains and smaller body size, and that makes sense because the brain is full of incredibly energy-expensive tissue. If you can survive in some area with a smaller brain it would be advantageous compared to these big present lugs who have to fill it full of calories!

Our Language Isn’t So Special

Living humans who have a mutation in the famous FOXP2 gene have some language deficits, but that doesn’t make it the “language gene.” It’s just one of probably hundreds of genes involved in the production of language. The Neanderthals and Denisovans have the same allele for that gene as we do. It’s a huge argument if the Neanderthals had language. We can only infer it through their cultural record and archeological record. As far as we can see, most of their genes are the same; their overall morphology is very similar to ours. Some people think they couldn’t produce the same phonemes—the same sounds—that we can produce, but they could still produce many sounds. Were they doing symbolic language like we do? I don’t think that question is answerable at present. 

Our DNA Is Filled with Typos

We have a protein-centric view of the world; you take your DNA, you transcribe it into RNA, and then you translate it into proteins. But in reality, only a tiny portion of our DNA is transcribed, and then only a tiny portion of that is translated into proteins. Most proteins are a few hundred to maybe a few thousand amino acids long, but we only have about 20,000 to 25,000 proteins. If you do the math on that, it’s a tiny portion of the genome.

Sometimes when a series of genes are working in concert with each other, where they are located is what matters. The spacing between those genes is important, even though it doesn’t appear to do anything important. But how far apart genes are from each other is crucial because it causes things to happen or not happen.

And then we have copies of certain types of DNA. My favorite one is called a SINE, a noncoding RNA called “short interspersed nuclear element.” An example of them is called an Alu. We have a million copies of this 300-base stretch of DNA, and they’re just randomly spewed throughout the genome. They can actually be copied and land in a different part of the genome. They amount to a couple percent of your genome! And then we have long ones that are a couple thousand bases long, of which we have thousands of copies, and they’re also a couple percent of our genome. 

So, a significant portion of our genome is great stretches of DNA that don’t necessarily do anything. But if they’re copied into a part of the genome where they cause a gene to be disrupted or to be spaced further apart, they might have different activity. While these stretches don’t directly do anything themselves, where they are, and how many of them there are, is important, and could offer an advantage.

It’s interesting. If you have a mutation in one of the Alu elements, one of the SINE elements, it’s not going to do anything. In fact, we use those mutations to trace evolutionary history. Because it’s not doing anything, selection isn’t acting on it, but it occurred. It’s like a typo in a book. And we follow the series of typos.

Original text taken from Nautilus: https://nautil.us/blog/humans-are-one-mixed_up-ape

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Book Recommendations/Book Reviews by Natasja Hellenthal

Queen of All (The Jena Cycle Book 1) 

Anya Josephs

“My mother once told me that the Goddess made the Earth round because that shape shows us the nature of the universe. The Earth, like a womb, circles back in on itself, holding us within the warm embrace of Her body. Time, she told me, is a circle too. Everything we lose comes back to us again.”

I was given a free copy from Netgalley to review this book.

The recently-released novel “Queen of All” by Anya Leigh Josephs is an engaging, sweet coming-of-age fantasy read. I was intrigued by the title, the cover and the description so I just had to read and review it!
The story is set in a medieval kind of alternative Earth with kingdoms and heirs and where being Numbered gives one more privilege than for those who are not. It reminded me slightly of ‘The Mist of Avalon’, but for a younger audience or those young at heart with the same kind of old magic. It is told from Jena’s point of view who is fourteen and lonely and lives in the shadow of nineteen-year-old Sisi who is her best friend and the most beautiful girl in the land. They both grow up together in the palace. Sisi is a Numbered and heir and Jena is more of a servant and will follow her anywhere until slowly she comes to understand that her feelings for Sisi have deepened. Despite this, she wants Sisi to be happy. Throughout her journey, she discovers that she has access to the ancient powers of the Goddess and the Earth and uses it wisely.

It is truly beautifully written and the characters well fleshed out. The world-building throughout is excellently done and one can easily imagine being there. The family ties were well described and all the details of their past. At times it was slightly repetitive and slow, but it did not take away from the pace or intrigue. If anything it just amplified the feelings and a book with feelings it certainly is! Those are my favourite reads.

In the end, I had to wipe away a few tears as I was so moved by Jena’s story and her courage, and the maturity she had reached! I was proud of her and really liked her. I can’t wait for what happens in the next book and whether and how she’ll find her mother!

At its heart, it’s a coming of age story and a coming out story and what it all truly means, and about being loyal, devoted, and harnessing and expressing a selfless love without expecting anything back so that it becomes a self-sacrifice. I would recommend this book to everyone who remembers what it was like falling in love for the first time unconditionally and wholeheartedly, even if it’s not reciprocated, and how one can simply lose oneself, but then one day you wake up and start to find yourself!

The book can be found HERE

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Queer Pride Bundle!

I have an extra cool thing for you this week. In honor of Pride Month, a bunch of queer authors have gotten together to create a Pride Bundle – sixteen awesome books for just $15 (less than a buck a book)My books are not in here as I didn’t know this was happening! But I am a fervent reader and reviewer and love to support my fellow LGBTQI+ authors so I got the book bundle downloaded on my kindle! I am so looking forward to reading them all and will review them here on my website for you. There are some gems in here for sure, so don’t miss out!
Happy reading!

Get Them All Here

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The Queen’s Curse is revamped!

The book not only received a totally awesome new cover (designed by http://www.beyondbookcovers) but has been given a complete revised make-over. It has been newly edited and proofread for a better updated reading experience!

No worries if you already have the book on your kindle, you can update the book by going into the book in your Kindle library and downloading it again. Some Kindles automatically do this. To be sure you have the latest version, it should say ‘revised edition March 2021’ in the copyright inside along with the brand new cover!

The paperback is also available this weekend to purchase, though Amazon might be a bit behind with updating all the book details on their site.

And it’s the last day to download your FREE copy of the IMMORTAL!

Get yours HERE

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I Heart Lesfic Spring Sale! March 15 through March 19

Are you looking for your next great read? More than 100 authors (including me) have joined forces to deeply discount more than 200 books so you don’t have to break the bank to get your reading fix. There are over 25 subgenres of lesbian fiction, ranging from romance to sci-fi to fantasy to mystery and so much more!

CLICK HERE:
https://iheartlesfic.com/ihl-march-mega-sale-page-5/

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To know what will happen next, you have to understand what came before…


I wanted to share some exciting news with my readers and followers! It comes as no surprise that I am writing, hey that’s what we writers do, even if it’s just preparing in our heads, or taking notes, but what am I writing at the moment you might wonder?
Well, the Comyenti Series is an all-time favourite of mine for various reasons, and book 1 and 2 have been out a while, as have a few stand-alone novels in the series, so it is only logical I would be writing book 3 by now, right? Wrong! I will, I will, of course, and I know roughly where it will go with book 3, though expect new twists and turns! However, I have long wanted to write about what happened before ‘Call off the Search’ and to delve into the comyenti’s distant past. To find out who and what they really are. Not just answering these questions in my book series, but by telling the story in a book of its own.
A Prequel!
I have long thought about it and it has taken more shape over the years. But it is finally time. Sula’s ancestors are ready to tell me.
If you haven’t already read the 2 books here they are: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00P1F2TMG/

And so, because these are the comyentis, and dear to me, I want to do them justice, so it has taken me a while to gather all the information I needed. They are from another planet after all, so it will be a science fiction book, my first. I read a lot of sci-fi, but haven’t written one myself yet. All my other books, though speculative, are still classified as Fantasy, but the prequel will be sci-fi, though without technology or spaceships and little to no violence. I have done extensive research into the fields of time and space, the dimensions, other galaxies including our own nearby ones, stars, and planets, and read many books and watched even more documentaries. It has opened up my mind and I’m continuing to learn on my ongoing journey for truth and development.
I do like that I can use my imagination as the prequel is more fiction than hard science, though still seeped in facts in the metaphysical sense, for that’s the kind of writer I am.
Therefore, I’m happy to announce I’ve made a good head start with the book with my characters leading me through it whilst they are telling me their story! I better get back to it! I will keep you posted, but I expect the publication to be either in summer or autumn this year! Check out the cover!!!!Here is the synopsis so far, which might change nearer publication, but to give you a taste:

Cradle of the Stars – Origins
How far would you go for love? In a world teetering on the brink of total destruction, Shinze holds the key to her species’ salvation. In this prequel to the international bestselling Comyenti Series, the Circle of Eight predicts the planet’s downfall. Shinze, who is one of them, has to convince the rest of her kind to travel light-years to another habitable planet. How many will go with her and survive the long journey? What will they find? Their new home, Bhan, turns out to be a very different world as to where they came from. Not only is this planet resonating in a lower frequency, thus existing in another dimension, but the dominating humans might prove more of a problem than they can handle…
https://mailchi.mp/4ba6f1ce5d55/to-know-what-will-happen-next

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Book recommendation:

Cosega Search by Brandt Legg

Cosega Search by bestselling action-adventure thriller author Brandt Legg was a real surprise to me. I don’t usually read thrillers as they normally contain too much violence, but I had seen the Davinci Code by Dan Brown and the two other movies for its mystery elements and grew up with the Indiana Jones movies. Cosega is the first in a terrific series. It’s a thought-provoking blend with a similar feel to it, but it surpasses both by far. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed adventure novel with a few murders but nothing graphic and kept me turning the pages.

The main character is archaeologist Rip Gaines who comes up with the Cosega theory which in Native-American means “before the beginning of time”, a theory that human history predates creationism and evolution. Ever since Gaines has published his theory, the Church has been developing a plan to discredit him. When he finally discovers an artifact that potentially proves his theory and fundamentally challenges everything we thought we knew about history and science in an archaeological site in Virginia, he finds himself caught in a conspiracy that involves both the government and the Vatican and those hired by both to get the artifact called the Eysen and kill Rip. Brave journalist Gale Asher is intrigued by the find and the Cosega theory and she gets caught up. Both end up on the run through New Mexico whilst Rip and Gale are trying to decode the Cosega Sequence broadcasted by the mysterious Eysen, which means “to hold all the stars in your hand”, an eleven million years old spherical holographic computer. Who can they trust along the way?

The novel is a unique take on the “our history is not what it seems” concept which reads like a true story more than fiction as it is based on what has happened in our past if you take into account the numerous ancient scrolls, bones, aliens remains, spaceships and megalithic sites “the powers that be” have tried to cover up and killed for, and what could happen again, if such an ancient technological artifact would be found. I especially loved the profound “Clastier” papers and thought this an insightful addition to the story. The author has done his research well!

Because of the great storytelling, profound plot, and likable characters I got drawn in from the start and have also just finished book two!

You can find the book HERE

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Lesfic Fantasy books makes for the best gifts!

Xmaspromo

Books make the best gifts! All my thought-provoking, non-violence Fantasy, LGBTQ, Lesfic paperbacks and e-books (FREE with KindleUnlimited) are for sale worldwide here: https://www.amazon.com/Natasja-Hellenthal/e/B00CMNVPX4 Happy Holidays! 

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Book recommendation:

Holocaust Memoirs of a Bergen-Belsen Survivor : Classmate of Anne Frank

(Holocaust Survivor Memoirs World War II Book 9)

Nanette Blitz Konig

“I want to give voice to those who have been silenced and can non no longer share their stories and sorrow.”

I personally love memoirs as they give us insight into not only someone’s life but also a certain period in time. They are important as we can learn so much from people having lived through hardships we might only have heard of secondhand. As we read we can start to imagine what it must have been like and feel deeply connected and relate to the storyteller, but even more so if it’s a true story.

“Unfortunately, even though we often yell, “Never again!” the history of mankind continues to develop into wars -unjustified wars- that seem to forget how valuable life is. And that is why the Holocaust is still a very current topic that must be remembered forever.”

Being Dutch I grew up with Anne Frank’s diary and her story and WWII was still not that far back. My maternal grandmother told me about the bombs that ruined Rotterdam and how she would hide under the table every time during a thunderstorm for years after. My father was seven years old during the German occupation in the winter of ‘44 and my mother was just born. It was the worst and coldest winter and food was scarce as the Nazis blocked food deliveries to the cities. My father used to tell me how bad it was as they would dig up and eat tulip bulbs and suck on pebbles. His mother was carried off to the hospital from starvation symptoms. My mother as a baby was sent away, like some sick or malnourished children were, to the countryside, as it was also safer there away from the bombs as farmers had fresh vegetables and milk. Imagine on top of that you are Jewish and more and more restrictions are applied slowly during the occupation and things go from worse to worse. The hatred and persecutions that were ever-present. It was a time of fear, dread, and uncertainty that stained many lives long after.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

This is not just another Holocaust book though as Nanette connects the past with the present and tries to warn and even wishfully prevent this from happening again by giving us insight into her life and the horrors she’s endured and seen during the war. This is a must-read witness report along with other stories of survivors of this horrible time in history so the events are never forgotten. If we don’t learn from past mistakes there is a greater likelihood that they will be repeated in the future. She lived in Amsterdam and went to the same school as Anne Frank and knew her personally, although that is not as important a fact as this in more Nanette’s story. Both girls meet again briefly when in Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp where Jews systematically were being starved to death under the most dreadful conditions. Nanette’s father had a privileged position in a bank. Thus, when it became their family’s turn to get deported, they were not sent to Auschwitz, in Poland, but to Bergen-Belsen in North Germany. But it is not a privilege as we quickly learn, despite that the camp is divided into sections. She explains it vividly through younger eyes and how she quickly has to grow up as a young teenager without her immediate family for support, no way to clean herself, scarce food and water, horrible diseases, lice, the hours-long headcount every morning in every weather condition, and bodies piling up. The lack of freedom, the dignity, and humanity these people were stripped from is almost surreal. Also, at the same time, she has researched the facts well and tries to describe clearly how this all could have happened. in 1933, German citizens had democratically elected a leader who preached that the country should get rid of everything impure…”you cannot fully grasp it because you cannot comprehend that which exists cannot be comprehended…We were living in a fabricated reality without the right to react,” she warns all of us, “Society should be alarmed when ideology becomes so deep-seated that it supports barbarians with such an abominable purpose.”

It’s a story of genocide and survival against all odds. How many of us today could have gotten through the hell these innocent people were trapped in, all because they were Jewish, Gypsies, disabled, or gay?

“I never believed in the superiority of any single being when compared to others, because when we take away our particular aspects as far as culture and life, we all share the same core.”

We follow Nanette throughout her life at the camp and after its liberation by the British.  There were no gas chambers at Bergen- Belsen as the mass killings took place in the camps further east whereby millions lost their lives. Even so, it is estimated that more than 50.000 people suffered and died there due to malnourishment, disease, and mistreatments by the guards. The book is translated from Portuguese as she now resides in Brazil and it is her main language so it makes sense. She does repeat herself slightly throughout the book, but that could be for effect. I was fascinated by her story, her wisdom, and the educational value.

The book can be found HERE

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Book recommendation:

The Binding: A Novel

Bridget Collins

“Memories,’ she said, at last. ‘Not people, Emmett. We take memories and bind them. Whatever people can’t bear to remember. Whatever they can’t live with. We take those memories and put them where they can’t do any harm. That’s all books are”

I was so fortunate to have been given this book in its hardcover version. The cover is simply stunning! It really makes you want to read and cherish the book. Especially considered this is a novel about bookbinding they were spot on with the design! The story is just as magical and spell-binding.

‘The Binding’ by Bridget Collins is a #1 bestseller for good reasons and because it’s LGBTQI+ month I am posting my review! It is set in an alternative, rural England in a time much like the late 18th century, though with magic thrown in.

It’s told in a first-person narrative and follows Emmett Farmer, a young man who is sent to an old, solitary Binder to become her apprentice. Books are forbidden as they all are real lived experiences from real people who, once sold, lose these memories, so they are kept hidden by Binders or sold on the black market and bought by those in power to abuse, torture or used as blackmail to ruin those without money or status. These books become like high-priced vaults. A buyer can go to a Binder to sell their memories or have unspeakable traumatic memories removed. For some it’s a salvation to have bad memories being taken away from you, for others it’s the last resort to be able to pay the rent. Too many visits to a Binder leaves someone hollow inside, emptied of the memories that made them unique and life worth living for.

Emmett learns he will become a protector or these books and turns out to be a gifted Binder. There are many questions raised which kept me guessing and wanting to read on. Why was Emmett rejected by his family and why does a customer called Lucian Darnay look so familiar and why is he so drawn to him? As Emmett learns his new trade and begins to settle in, he makes an astonishing discovery: a book with his name on it.

I absolutely loved this book! It started out like most other young adult fantasy books I’ve read with the reluctant hero versus grumpy teacher, and dark and moody at first, but it is not! The teacher turns out to be a gem and the main character more and more likable as well. There is the forbidden gay relationship twist as well which was tastefully and romantically done. This book is so much more than a coming-of-age novel and can be read by many readers. There are so many mysterious things going on, it makes you turn the pages to get the answers!

It is breath-taking and an absolute gem. The plot is intriguing with the only books in a world being not fiction, but real-life memories and forbidden, the world-building was not overly detailed as this book focusses more on feelings, the characters realistic and the mood of the book intense and wonderful. The writing is simply beautiful. The range of emotions is wide and portrays tenderness and deep affection. I could not put it down and when I did, it wouldn’t leave my mind. To me, those are the best books!

The book can be found HERE

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Book recommendation:

The Bees: A Novel by

Laline Paull

“Obey, Serve, Protect!”

This book is one of my favourites! It resolves around the birth, life, and death of Flora 717. She is born into the hive as a humble sanitation worker – cleaning up and removing the dead bodies of her sisters. But unlike the rest, she has the ability to talk and question the meaning of her existence. She is very brave and saves the colony from a deadly wasp attack for example. She is rewarded by spending time in the queen’s calm presence. Soon she is ‘promoted’ to be an important forager and responsible, with her fellow foragers, for bringing in the pollen on which everyone depends.

This was an excellent and thought-provoking read. I loved every moment of it and really found myself identifying with Flora. It is a meaningful addition to the anthropomorphic tradition of books such as Wind In The Willow and Watership Down. Even though those other stories tend to humanise the lives and thoughts of other animal species which can have an important message in itself, it’s not entirely true for The Bees. There is much scientific truth to this story, apart from the dystopian element. These stories are important, with whatever species, as they address human issues such as power, thinking for oneself, and breaking free from the norm and even religion. The Bees does more than all that though. It not only shows the struggle of a single bee with responsibilities to her home while bringing change to a hierarchical community thus bringing her story home to us humans and our society, it also a plausible and well-researched account from the point of view of the bees and their lives as far as it is possible.

The attention to detail in describing the use of scents and pheromones in a bee life was really remarkable as well as the complicated dance ritual they do upon returning to the hive. One gets to learn so much about nature, about spiders and wasps, various flowers, and the impact of deadly chemicals upon the environment.

The description is never oversentimental as to living in a beehive either. From the mating of a drone with the queen (and his immediate death after) to the clearing up of sick bees, to the situation of the colony as winter approaches (surviving drones and older and weaker bees are all thrown out), to the issues that a colony without a queen can face, everything is told in a matter of fact way. Life for bees can be very hard. The story also explains the idea that the colony is the ‘creature’ and that the bees are the cells that make it up. The Hive Mind can override personal thoughts and control their actions.

It has given me so much more knowledge and respect for bees and I look at them differently now.

I genuinely felt throughout the story for Flora while she tried to contribute to the hive in many ways. The author did a great job of ensuring that the bees, while having a personality, kept acting on their instincts and communication as they would in a real hive.

The author has written a really good captivating story which I strongly recommend. If you want to comprehend the life of bees – and enjoy a fascinating page-turning read at the same time – then this is absolutely for you. You will be totally fascinated. The most memorable book I have read for quite a while.

The book can be found HERE

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Book recommendation:

How to Stop Time

Matt Haig

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be”

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig is a truly magnificent book and a must-read! I had heard good things about his other books, bestsellers too, and chose this one because of the unusual premise and my obsession with anything to do with time – the greatest mystery of life. Ever since I have seen Highlander on tv years ago I have been fascinated by the concept of immortality or at least living longer, old souls, reincarnation etc. I myself wrote ‘The Immortal’ to explore the issues someone faces who outlives everyone and what it does to you, living with all those memories.

This book is similar in that respect, though the main character is not immortal or a vampire (thank the heavens for that!) but ages very, very slowly. I have never highlighted so many passages before in any book and will re-read this book for the beauty of it. It’s very well-written in first-person which I love, the pace is excellent and the prose visual, whimsical, and often emotional (many things are funny and some are sad bringing tears to your eyes). I didn’t want this book to end!

The genre is partly fantasy (only the part of the main protagonist’s strange condition, but utterly believable), historical (well-researched), part romance (though not too much), and philosophical (loved it). It is essentially about Tom, a 41-year-old man born March 3, 1581 and still alive today (2018). Tom ages very slowly though he will die one day like the rest of us (after 900 years), but outlives everyone around him, including those he loves. His mother, and then his one true love. He only fell in love once over the course of 400 years. For the romantic in me, that was super adorable. If you have ever loved and lost you’ll recognize the feeling.

“And she died and I lived and a hole opened up, dark and bottomless, and I fell down and kept falling for centuries”.

Tom lives in fear of discovery and loneliness, and lives in the past most of his days. When people begin to notice his bizarre condition (he doesn’t seem to age), assumes a new identity in a new place every eight years or so. This means he becomes estranged from the rest of humanity and from life overall. His only reason to live on is to find his daughter that suffers from the same condition as him. There is a society for people like him ruled by an eccentric guy, Hendrick, who helps Tom relocate and provides him with a new identity each time. The book jumps through Tom’s memories from time to time and brings you right there, vividly detailing the streets of London in the 16th century with all the smells and sights, as well as later times and back again, but I never felt lost or that I couldn’t keep track. Tom felt very real with the same flaws as we do, even for a 400-year-old man, though sometimes I did find him a bit naïve and clueless, but that could be because he was so focussed on finding his daughter and more an outsider of society.

There are so many lessons to be learnt from this book, apart from “how to stop time” by slowing down and living more in the present for the past not to crush you. “The past is never gone, It just hides”. For not to be afraid of the future, the lesson of the power of love, of hope, of believing in the good hearts of people.

“I want you to slow down. I just want it all to slow down. I want to make a forest of a moment and live in that forest for ever.”

We are living in a society where everyone is fixated on everything else, be that mobile phones, facebook, tv, the news, and are losing touch with each other and themselves. Are either afraid of or just don’t know how to be content living in the moment any longer. Learning how to “just be” and to be happy in that moment is one of the lessons we learn along this journey. The question is when and how much time will we waste before we learn this simple truth? After all, we cannot control time and must try to live in the present moment.

“We are what we become. We are what life does to us.”

The ending of the book was satisfactory, though a bit rushed maybe and what happened to Hendrick seemed to me a bit too easy as if the author didn’t quite know what to do with him.

Overall, I can wholeheartedly recommend this novel and I will read his other works as well.

The book can be found HERE

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