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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Goodreads
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
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!

Patience, Young Grasshopper: Instagram Tips and Tricks

Patience, Young Grasshopper: Instagram Tips and Tricks

It has been a while since I joined the #bookstagram scene and now I’ve settled into a comfortable Instagram routine I thought it would be fun to share some of my do’s and don’ts. I am in no way a professional or expert on Instagram, my follower count should tell you as much, nor do I know THE magic formula to grow your account. However, I do think that I have picked up on some things that might come in handy if you’re working on building your account.

Now, the main advice I was given when I started was: original content, good quality, and post consistently. Those are three very important things, but when you’re just starting out this might seem incredibly vague and just too broad. How can best be creative? What do you need to ensure good quality pictures? And, what helps you post consistently? I’ll share what I think those three things entail.

Original Content

The problem with original #bookstagram content is that when you first start out you have to find out what works for you. You see tons of people working with beautiful pictures that use tons of props and cool items and the first problem you’re going to run into is where to find all that stuff. Even more importantly, are you good with props? I hate using props… I love how much effort goes into those pictures, but whenever I try to incorporate them my pictures always become so messy. Props are just not for me.

I love working with nature. I love how clean my pictures look, the lush green and brown colors, and how nature does the work for you. My advice: try it all. Try working with props and try going outdoors with a big bag filled with books, but most importantly take lots of pictures. You’ll find something that works for you eventually and you’ll get better at it as well.

Good Quality

I can’t really tell you much besides what you probably already know about this. However, contrary to what you might think, you don’t need an expensive camera to take good quality pictures. If you own a good camera, great! If you don’t have one or can’t afford one, that’s fine. I bet you own a smartphone and one of those will do just fine. I know tons of amazing bookstagrammers that only work with their phone! Plus, there are tons of apps you can use to edit your pictures.

If you want to use props and/or take your pictures inside, you’ll need a good and even background/backdrop. You can simply find a spot with an even background in your house, but if not there are tons of shops online where you can find cool mini backdrops for a reasonable price. Or, if you’re creative you can fabricate one yourself. Just google it! You can have a marble-like or wooden backdrop, there’s something for everyone!

Post Consistently

Now this, I can help you with! It’s going to sound so logical and self-explanatory, but take pictures a week or month ahead. I used to take the picture I was going to post that day the morning itself, which was so counterproductive. Whenever I had something going on that day I often forgot to take a picture and thus had nothing to post that day. So, with a little help, I started taking pictures for an entire week ahead. I would take pictures every weekend (read: I’d drag a week’s worth of books to my parent’s house every weekend) and that way I was sure I would be able to post consistently.

Do you have trouble figuring out what you want to post about? It might be a good idea to join a #bookstagram challenge then! The challenge will provide you with a theme to post about and provides a fun way to meet new people by visiting and interacting with other people that use the same hashtag. It’ll also help you to stay creative! I have been participating in the #grimdragon challenge for about two months now and I love their daily challenges!

Remember, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily have to work for you, try different things and find out what works for you!

 

 

Roar by Cora Carmack | Everything and More

Roar by Cora Carmack | Everything and More

Roar by Cora Carmack | Everything and MoreRoar by Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #1
Published by Tor Teen on June 13th 2017
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 380
Format: Hardcover
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

I’ve read some of Cora Carmack’s previous work, which mainly consists of swoon-worthy New Adult books. As this is her first Young Adult novel, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Roar, except that the premise sounded amazing. After finishing that very first chapter I knew it was going to be good, and the story did not disappoint for one single second. From that first chapter and onwards I was hooked. Roar blew me away!

The plot is complex, layered, and really well done. When I thought I’d finally figured something out, new parts were exposed that were a whole new mystery. The slow reveal allows for lots of anticipation suspense. I love how I had to crack my brain to see if I could find out what was going to happen next during the entirety of the story. There was a lot of action as well that made it really well paced and left me unable to stop reading.

The world Carmack portrays is rich and unique. This fantasy realm is unlike anything that I’ve ever read before. There are so many details and so many new lands to discover, I was enthralled by it all! The premise of a few lineages being able to control storms, and those storms having a “heart” was so incredibly intriguing. There is so much to this world Cora Carmack created and I just want more and more and more (can I please have more soon). The idea that I have to wait for more makes me want to sob.

The protagonist of the story is smart and determined and oh so awesome. She’s struggling to find out who she is and what part to play in her world. She develops a lot throughout the story and even at the end you know she’s going to continue growing and become even more of a badass. I love how she fights for what she wants and believes in. Her determination and her spirit make her character very likable.

All you fantasy lovers out there, rejoice! Roar is everything you need in a book and more. This book has jumped right to first place as my favorite book of the year. This is a must read and if it isn’t on your TBR yet I wholly recommend adding it. You will not regret it!

five-stars

When you Travel +100k to Buy a Book

Last Wednesday I traveled quite the distance to get my hands on a copy of the book I wanted. And when I say quite some distance I mean I traveled from Leiden to The Hague (+/- 20k) and then from the Hague to Amsterdam (+/- 99k). The first wasn’t that big a deal, it only takes about 15 minutes to get there by train, but the second was a spontaneous decision after finding out they didn’t have the book I wanted in the bookstore in The Hague.

The book I am talking about is Roar by Cora Carmack. As I’ve been living under a rock the past few months, dealing with finals and deadlines, the existence of Roar had remained a secret to me, and suddenly I saw tons of posts appear featuring this book on Instagram. The cover is gorgeous and when I read the synopsis I was convinced: I simply HAD to read Roar. I usually order my books online and most of the times that means it arrives in my mailbox the next day. Only this time, the estimated delivery time was EIGHT DAYS, and that simply would not do.

One of my favorite bookstores, ABC (American Book Center), has stores in The Hague and Rotterdam and they regularly post pictures of the new books that have arrived in store. I checked and THEY HAD COPIES OF ROAR. So off to The Hague I went, only to hear there that they did not have copies; only the Amsterdam store had. I was planning to go home after that, albeit a bit disappointed, but when I got to the train station instead of getting on the train back to Leiden I figured ‘what the heck’ and spontaneously got on the train to Amsterdam. Two hours later I came out of the Amsterdam ABC store a very happy girl with a newly acquired copy of Roar in my backpack.

I kinda love how spontaneous this decision was. It has been a while since I did something completely random like this and I had a blast. The Hague is a fun city to be in, it has a very nice feeling to it and while I was there I took some time to grab an iced coffee and people-watch for a bit. It also wasn’t a completely wasted trip because I did find a copy of Fairest by Marissa Meyer for my mother. I have never really been a fan of Amsterdam (except for the bookstores, haha), it is way too busy and tourist filled for my taste, so I really just browsed the bookstores and went back home again.

On the train ride home I, of course, started on the first few chapters in Roar and I am so hooked! It has been a while since I was this excited over a book, but damn, this book is the very example of why I love reading so much. IT.IS.AWESOME. Definitely a trip worth taking the time to make! I have about 100 pages left and I can’t stop reading!

When I told my friends what I’d done they looked at me like I’d lost my mind, or they just said they’d expect nothing less from me haha. This is a perfect example of the lengths a book nerd will go (or travel) to get the books they want.

Have you ever done something like this?