November ’17 Recap: When Life Becomes a Blur, But You Still Read A Lot

November ’17 Recap: When Life Becomes a Blur, But You Still Read A Lot

This post recaps my month: my personal life, the fun and not so fun; books I’ve read; movies/ tv shows I’ve watched; and all other things worth mentioning.

This post is embarrasingly late… As in half a month late, but you know what they say: better late than never! November was all about finding the balance between working and everything else. Little breakdowns, fun moments, excitement before the holidays: November had it all in spades!

Three months, that’s how long I’ve been doing my work placement already! I’d like to say it’s been all roses and sunshine, but I like to be real with you and I’ve been struggling a bit with balancing my work and ALL the rest. I’m really enjoying my time at Overamstel Publishers. My internship is fun and I’ve really settled into my work, but outside of work, it’s been an effort to fit other things in.

The thing I found hardest during November (and even the two months before, I now realize) is that I barely find the time to go running or do my workouts. Not even just that, when I get home from work I feel so tired that I barely have the energy to cook a decent meal… and I love cooking! I think the main problem is that when I leave from home it’s still dark outside and when I leave work the sun has set already. If I want to go running I have to run through the city center in order for it to be safe. I normally run in the park right behind my apartment building, but to run in a park while it is dark outside just isn’t safe and I hate the alternative. It’s busy in the city center and SO MANY TRAFFIC LIGHTS where I have to stop.

I guess in a way, especially in the workout department, November disappointed me. I feel like I lost my dedication to running and working out, not even necessarily my dedication, it’s more like I lost all energy to do so and that gets to me. I want December to be different in that department.

Now, reading-wise life is pretty damn awesome. I talked a bit about it in my previous post: how working at a publishing house has developed my reading habits and the type of books I read. I read a LOT in November and an awesomely weird mix of books as well: I read some fantasy, an essay type non-fiction book, a memoir, a retelling. I love the reading I’ve done and I’m seriously hoping December will be just as awesome (just, you know, with some more workouts thrown in).

I have also been really active on Instagram and have been loving every second of it. I truly love photography and the more I do it the more I find myself developing my style even further. I am hoping to experiment some more photography wise in December. I even purchased a backdrop, which is a pretty big deal, considering I normally take all my pictures outside, haha.

I’ve been pretty horrid at keeping up with my own statistics, but as the books I’ve read (and the movies and tv-series I watched) have been pretty memorable I think I can provide you with a pretty good account.

Reading:

  1. The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine. (4/5). Review. If you’re into fairytales this one is a must read!
  2. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. (3/5). I had some pretty mixed feelings about this book, watch out for my review to find out what I thought!)
  3. Hunted by Meagan Spooner. (4/5). Beautifully crafted tale!
  4. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. (5/5). Reread… If possible I ended up loving it even more!
  5. Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas. (5/5). I FINALLY READ THIS, WHY DID I NOT READ THIS SOONER?!

I continued rereading the ENTIRE Throne of Glass series and am pretty pleased to say that I have finished them all and am currently halfway into Tower of Dawn.

Tv-series:

Shooter season 2, episode 5 – 8. I still love this show and *cough* the lead actor *cough*

The Gifted season 1, episode 1 – 8. This show is so good! Can’t wait for the next episodes (and the season finale!)

Hawaii 5-o, season 8, episode 1 – 8. I’m starting to think I have a thing for the number eighth, haha.

Movies:

A Christmas Prince. And guys, it was bad… so bad… I ended up laughing so hard because the entire movie was just so ridiculous.

Wonder Woman. Because I needed to watch this again to be reminded of the awesomeness that is this movie. IT WAS STILL GLORIOUS!

How did November treat you?

 

Three things working at a publishing house has done for my reading

Three things working at a publishing house has done for my reading

As some of you might know, the end of last September I started a work placement at a Dutch publishing house. That’s right, I’ve officially joined the working class: this girl now works a nine to five job! Ever since I started my PR & Marketing internship at Overamstel Publishers I have been wanting to share some of the perks of working at a publishing house (aside from spending all my time surrounded by books). So here they come:

Books in Dutch have rejoined my TBR

Most books I read are written in English by native speakers. When I became fluent enough to read in English instead of Dutch I never really looked back. Slowly, so slowly I didn’t even realize it happened, I stopped reading books written by Dutch authors. When I started my internship at Overamstel I was suddenly surrounded again by the Dutch written word and meeting all those authors once again peaked my interest. I picked up a non-fiction book written my Maartje Laterveer, a freelance journalist for Vogue and multiple dutch major newspapers, and I finished the whole book in three train journeys to and from work! Next up was the thriller Broertje (roughly translated: little brother) from Michael Berg, while I almost never read thrillers, and I completely lost myself in the story. And so it continued. I recently finished Dagboek van een getuige (roughly translated: the diary of a witness) by Astrid Holleeder and it was such a powerful book about hardship and perseverance.

What I am really trying to say is: I am finally reading in dutch again. I finally realized reading in dutch doesn’t mean that I have to read translations, there are SO MANY wonderfully talented dutch authors just waiting to be discovered and I am so happy to have rediscovered this. It was somewhat of a revelation to me and I am making it my goal to discover as many as possible in the years to come.

You simultaneously read less and more

This sounds so logical and illogical at the same time. It’s just that at the publishing house I read quite a lot and when I get home I don’t always feel like reading even more. I mostly find myself reading on the train journey’s to and from home, that is if I can find a place to sit… So I have a lot more selective about the books I read. I’m not the type of reader that is able to read multiple books at the time, that will just end up annoying and confusing me. So I have become choosy in what books I read, and I am totally fine with it. I’ve found that the amount of books I read has cut back drastically, but overall I enjoy them way more and end up rating them pretty high. I’ve become so attuned to my likes and dislikes, so choosing books that I’ll actually enjoy reading has become a lot easier.

My reading is developing again

Overall, I have been reading a lot more as my reading just doesn’t solely consist of books anymore with the publishing house related stuff thrown in. Moreover, I have started reading different books! For starters, I’ve discovered a newfound love for non-fiction. Two of the Dutch books I previously mentioned are non-fiction and I enjoyed both books immensely. You will actually be seeing some of that in the upcoming month, as I have a dual review scheduled of When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I’m really excited about posting this review as it is very different from my regular reviews. It’s more of a discussion between two people on a certain book and you will be treated to the point of view of a medical student (my sister) and a literature student (me), which, especially regarding When Breath Becomes Air, will prove a really interesting combination. I have also begun reading poetry again, such as Robert Burns, Rupi Kaur, and Robert Frost. I’ve just really seen my reading develop again, and frankly, it makes me excited to discover new books outside of my comfort zone.

So there you have it: three things I saw change about my reading since I became an intern at a publishing house! One thing that hasn’t changed though, is my excitement to see what I’ll read and discover next.

Have you seen your reading habits change in any way?

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine | Book Review

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine | Book Review

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine | Book ReviewThe Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine
Series: Ravenspire #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on February 16th 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance
Pages: 387
Format: Hardcover
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four-stars

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m all for fairytale retellings, and The Shadow Queen was all that a fairytale should be! A fantasy story with magic and dragons. You can sign me up for that anytime.

I think what I loved most about The Shadow Queen was that while it was gory and hard at times it also had that classic fairytale feeling to it. Like most fairytales, the story was brutal and choices were made that had to be made. There were plenty of plot twists and turns that I didn’t see coming (and frankly… I’m quite good at figuring out plot twists before they happen).

The protagonist, Lorelei, is calculated and kickass. I like how she’s a planner and has carefully got herself to a point of challenging the antagonist. Together with her brother Leo and Gabriel, who sort of became a father figure to them, they form a great team and have a great dynamic going. Trow a recently crowned king and his entourage into the mix and you got what I deem a recipe for a solid story. Kol is a Draconia, which means he can shapeshift into a dragon (COOL!) and he meets Lorelei early on without knowing who she is which causes plenty of problems for the both of them later on.

Although it is quite obvious early on who is going to end up with whom, I love that there was no instalove to be found. They slowly get to know each other (and themselves) and their relationship slowly blooms into something more. The fact that they’re both trying to save their respective kingdoms give them that something important in common that is the beginning of so much awesomeness.

Even more awesome is the fact that the antagonist isn’t just a villain for the sake of needing a villain in the story. Irina actually has a lot of depth and I enjoyed the chapters from her perspective as they provided an insight behind her motivations. She’s very well-written and a part of me actually felt for her as her past was filled with pain. Her narrative was confusing, but this only added to the whole vibe she had going on.

The Shadow Queen might not be the most impressive fairytale retelling, but it was a VERY enjoyable read and a solid read. In fact, I love how Lorelei and Kol’s story got resolved within this story. It was a fun book, with tons of great fantasy elements and very enjoyable characters! If you, like me, love fairytale retellings I suggest you give this one a go.

four-stars
The Camino: 30 days, 775 kilometers

The Camino: 30 days, 775 kilometers

It has been more than a year since I walked the Camino. More than a year since I walked 775k for one whole month through hellish summer weather. Most friends call me insane for walking 775 kilometers in 30 days in full summer. I call it chasing your dreams and checking something, one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, off my bucket list. Last week I realized that I never really wrote a post about my experience and I desperately want to remedy this, because if there’s one thing worth sharing it’s this.

I think my Camino experience had it all, there was an abundance of good moments but, as expected with a hike that long, there were some really bad moments as well. I want to walk you through them and explain why even though there were quite some tears shed along the way I will go back and walk the Camino again in a few years time.

That first day was horrendous. We had to climb most of the way and instead of sunny weather, it was pouring rain. It was foggy, cold, and we were drenched after a few kilometers. Once we reached the top the realization set in that no matter how much you train, training in the Netherlands (where everything is flat) will never prepare you for that first day of climbing and going back down the Pyrenees. We were cold, tired, and our moods were pretty glum. You just gotta keep going, because there is literally nothing for miles. Regardless of the heavy snoring all around me, I slept like a baby that night. The next morning our clothes had barely had the chance to dry, but hey, it was dry!

It seemed we experienced a month’s worth of rain that first day because aside from a few drops of rain there was no more the remaining days of that month. The heat set after that and let me tell you, Spanish summers are HOT. There is a certain point that first week where you feel like you’re just going through the motions: wake up early, eat breakfast, walk, eat lunch, walk, check in at Albergue, shower, sleep, get groceries, eat dinner, sleep. When I had some spare energy I took the time to take in some of the local sights, but what I just summed up is mainly what an average day consisted off. You have to get used to the rhythm.

Some days you have excess energy, others you’re so tired you’re barely able to take in all the beauty surrounding you. A good night of sleep is essential. But the rhythm gets comfortable. You make friends, and although I walked with a friend from the very beginning, you never really walk alone. There’s always other people on the road. And believe me, you’ll make friends for life because you’ll never experience what you have experienced with them. While walking there’s really nothing else to do but talk. You learn new words in different languages, you’ll learn what moved them to walk the Camino. EVERYONE has a story to tell and that’s one of the fascinating things about the entire journey.

The picture on top of this post is taken at the 100-kilometer point. That point is so powerful! Knowing you’ve walked 675 and have 100 left to go. 100 kilometer is NOTHING when you’ve walked that far. The friend I started the Camino with actually twisted her ankle two days before we reached Santiago. The entire thing was awful, her ankle was swollen and hurting really bad (and the closest hospital is in Santiago…). We walked the rest of the day and visited a clinic. They recommended her to take some rest, but she bought a brace and walked those last two days. You might call it irresponsible, and maybe it was, considering her ankle sometimes still troubles her, but at that point not walking is just not an option. We finished and concluded that month by sharing an apartment that last night with the friends we’d made along the way.

I was bone tired and honestly believe that I have ever been that exhausted in my entire life. I said to myself that this was one of those things that I’d do once in my life, but never again. At the time I meant it with every fiber of my being. Time is sneaky though. It has a way of changing your perspective on things, and all the bad things about my entire Camino experience just seemed to fade over time.

The positive memories remain and that rhythm of walking, the simplicity of walking, I remember with fondness. Because that simplicity is what I wish I could go back to when the days get rough. When life gets stressful and you’re running around doing whatever you wish for that simplicity again. And THAT is why, when I finish my master’s degree, I’m going back to St. Jean Pied de Port in France and walking that 775k to Santiago again.

Have you had a similar experience?

 

What to Expect: When you’re Rereading a Favorite Series

What to Expect: When you’re Rereading a Favorite Series

.As some of you, who follow me on Instagram, might know, I have been rereading the entire Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, I feel the need to point out that these books are HUGE. Eragon, the first installment, is a whopping 502 pages, and from there on the number steadily keeps climbing. Eldest counting 704 pages, Brisingr 748 pages, and last but not least Inheritance with 849 pages. That’s a total of 2803 pages!

Now, when I started my reread I was going quite slow. I read about 150 pages a week, mainly because I now work full-time and when I just started working (around the time my reread started) I was too tired to cook when I got home, let alone read. So I read on the train to and back from work. That is until I was reminded, about halfway into the first book, why I loved this series so much.

So, what to expect when a book nerd starts rereading a favorite series?

  1. Uncontrollable glancing at the bag that is carrying said book. This is a starting symptom. If you’re in the middle of a conversation and you keep glancing at your bag, you know you’re done for. It’s the start of the uncontrollable compulsion to finish the entire series as soon as you can.
  2. Frustrations, knowing what is going to happen whereas the main character is still blissfully unaware. This might be followed by some grumbling and shouting until shit goes down and you feel like saying ‘I told you so’ to the main character (even though YOU didn’t see it coming the first time you read the book either).
  3. Sleepless nights, because that craze of wanting to finish the series is going to set in, and once it does you can kiss a solid night of sleep goodbye until the series is finished. It’s not like this happens on purpose… it just happens. When you start reading it’s 5 pm and the sun hasn’t even set yet, then suddenly you look up and it’s dark outside and the clock tells you it’s TWO AM (!) and you have to get up at six *groans*.
  4. Skipping to the good parts because you know EXACTLY where they are. This is part of the craze to finish the entire series. Everyone has favorite scenes, and because you’ve read it all before you know precisely where they are. And then you feel bad and go back to the page you actually was at because skipping feels like cheating.
  5. Hoping for the inevitable: maybe this time that certain character won’t die a horrendous death, while you know there’s nothing you can do to change events that are slowly unfolding with every page you turn.
  6. Do not disturb. When rereading goes right, you’re sucked into the story like a bee is drawn to honey. You will not believe how many times I’ve been asked something while I was reading and gave a response, barely coherent mind you, while I didn’t even realize what has been asked or the fact that I actually replied. Productivity and being a part of ‘muggle-world’ go out of the window until those books are finished!

My advice?

Stock up on food and drinks, lock the doors, curl up on the couch and read away! Make an emergency plan, for example, candles for when the lights go out (just in case), so nothing will keep you from finishing those books. You’re not going to be productive until you finish them anyway, so retract from the world* and read, read, read!

* this advice is not suitable for those of you with a job or other responsibilities. Therefore, I feel the need to include the disclaimer that any action you take upon the information on this post is strictly at your own risk… The book nerd struggles are real!