Saturday, July 15, 2017 22:40

Audio book Adventures | Two short stories.

Also: I'm not sponsored by Storytel. They don't even know who I am. Note that this is a Dutch website, another version of Audible. It is basically Netflix for audiobooks, because you pay 9,99 euro per month and can listen to as many audiobooks as you want.

I have listened to three books so far and I'm currently in the middle of one (Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, narrated by Dan Stevens) I love the fact that Storytel allows me to go from audiobook to audiobook, because I'm quite picky when it comes to the narrator. I have found out that I enjoy listening to males more than females, so that is where I will focus on right now.

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Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs. Read by Simon Callow. Listen on Storytel.
This audiobook was fabulous! This book has different stories set in the world of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. There is a princess with a fork-tongue, there are friendly cannibals and a boy who turned into a locust. Each story had something magical and strange about it and I loved them all. The narrator did a fabulous job of using different voices, which made the stories come alive. Highly recommended.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaimain. Read by Neil Gaiman. Listen on Storytel.
There is something special about authors who narrate their own book and Gaiman has a pleasant voice to listen to. This is a short, middle grade story about a father who spins a tale around the fact he returned late from the store to get some milk. This book is really entertaining and I think young children will love the adventures!
Saturday, July 08, 2017 13:33

Bulletjournal adventure | What I use for bulletjournaling.

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If you are new to bulletjournaling: it is basically a wish list, to-do list and journal – and what I like to do is decorate it with doodles, handlettering, stamps and washi-tape. I have two informative posts about my step into this bujo-world and setting up collections.

Today I want to talk about all the materials I use for my bulletjournal. Almost everything I get is bought on a Dutch website called Penstore. I am not sponsored, but simply enjoy using this website. It is easy to navigate, with different sections, and they provide fast shipping. For my Dutch followers: if you want there are also Notitieboekplaza, de Inktpot, Writersplaza, de Kwast and Liefde voor Papier.

You don't have to use anything that I mention in this post. Bulletjournaling is all about what works for YOU. So if you use a regular 1 dollar notebook and only a pencil, that is fine too! I just want to show you all the materials that work for me and it might give you some inspiration.

NOTEBOOK.
leuchtturm
I have not tried anything else after I discovered the brand Leuchtturm1917. I found out about the Rhodia Goalbooks this week and I fell in love with the light purple (Iris) one, but I have to say I am disappointed by the quality. I wanted to give it a try, but the cover is floppy and not sturdy, so it already has a lot of dents. The dots on the pages are way darker than in the Leuchtturm and the paper itself as a different feel to it; I don't think it can hold water well.

So back to my one and only Leuchtturm1917. There is a big range of notebooks.
Different formats. From A6 tot A4+.
Different covers. Hard and soft.
Different paper. Lined, blank, dotted and checkered. 
Different colors. The regular colors are: Black, Red, Purple, Berry, New Pink, Orange, Yellow, Lime, Emerald, Nordic Blue, Azure, Royal Blue, Navy, Army, Sand, Anthracite and Pink. There are also three limited editions in pink, emerald and blue and three metallic versions, in gold, silver and copper.

They might be more expensive than a regular notebook, but they are so worth it for me.
All prices in euros: 13.95 for pocket format, 15.95 euro for the regular versions, 17.50 for limited editions, 20.95 for the special bulletjournal edition, 24.50 for A4+ format.

The Leuchtturm1917 notebooks are really sturdy and will last you a long time. The paper is thick enough to hold up with watercolor and the bleed through is minimal, most of the times only some ghosting. This does depend on the brands of markers you use. The paper is 80 gram and there are 249 already numbered pages, which is so neat!

I use the medium format, which is A5 (145x210mm) with dots, because these give you a guideline, but are not so obvious as lines. It comes with an elastic to keep it closed and two attached bookmarks. If you buy the Bulletjournal version you will get 3 strings, but I don't like to have the standard pages they included. I have filled a Emerald colored version and I'm currently using Nordic Blue. So yes, you can say that I'm a big fan!

MARKERS/PENS.
Staedtler 42 brilliant colours fineliners. This is also available as a set of 15, 30 and 36 pens. The value is 24.95 euros, which isn't a bad price for the large range of colours you get. The pens have a thickness of 0.33 mm, they don't bleed and just a little ghosting. They add a great pop of colour to my pages.

Sakura Pigma Micron fineliners. These are the ones I always use for all my writing. There are two sets, with 3 or 6 pens, but you can also buy them separately. They are 2.50 euros a piece. A little pricey if you ask me, but I do enjoy using them. The tips don't wear down quickly, which is a plus, and they don't bleed at all and ghosting is minimal. 
 
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I definitely recommend to get some fineliners with different sizes, because it does make a difference in a spread. I own all their different sizes: 005, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05 en 08 (thickness 0.2, 0.25, 0.3, 0.35, 0.4, 0.45, 0.5 mm) and if I have to recommend two I would go with 01 (0.25mm) or 02 (0.30 mm) and 08 (0.5 mm). The 01/02 are perfect for regular writing and the 08 is fun to use to make certain words stand out.

Don't stare yourself blind on buying everything that is expensive or a brand though. I also use regular fineliners from drugstores that cost me less than 0.50 cents a piece and they are great to work with as well. I recommend to use a page at the back of your notebook to check if they bleed/ghost and if not, you are good to go! The thing with these Pigma pens is that they don't run when you apply water over it, so that's why I prefer to use them most of the times.

Uni-ball gel pens. I currently own the Uni-Ball signo white, black and glitter gold. They are smooth, but do keep in mind that they don't dry as fast as fineliners. I have made that mistake before, haha. 2.50 euros a piece, minimal ghosting, no bleeding. I use the white and gold one to add touches to my lettering, the black one for regular whiting.

I have two Tombow Brush pens, in the color green and red, and I love them. They come with a fine tip and a brush tip. No bleeding on the pages, minimal ghosting. So easy in use and they have such a big range of colours. They are crazy expensive though, but I hope to save enough to get the entire 96 set at the end of the year. I highly recommend their soft Fudensenko brush pen. It is a blast to use this for my handlettering.

I settled down with a less expensive option, all the colours from the Sakura Koi Brush pens. Still a lot of money, but worth the investment. They last me a long time. I've used them for over 1.5 years now and they still aren't dry and the tips aren't terribly worn down either. They can be used in combination with water and I've been experimenting with it; so much fun! I also use their set of 30 watercolors and I can say I'm a fan of this brand. You can definitely go with cheaper watercolor options though!


And if you want to go cheap and still do some brush lettering, definitely go with the Crayola markers! They cost 15 euro and come with 50 colours! I love to use them in my bulletjournal for extra colouring and with some practice, you can definitely achieve some fake calligraphy.

Pentel Touch Brush Sign Pen SES15C (watch out for this. There is also a version that is a regular marker) Easy to use, pretty colors and minimal ghosting, no bleeding. Definitely a good pen to learn to handletter with. It was one of the first I tried and it has a sturdy tip.

 OTHER THINGS THAT COME IN HANDY.

Paperclips. You can get the regular ones, but I like to find them in fun shapes. Currently using bow shaped paperclips. I use them to hold my entire monthly pages together, so I don't have to flip through older spreads the entire time. I will write a separate post about this.

Ruler. Most of the time I like to draw freehand, but having a ruler can come in handy.

Washi-tape. I like to doodle to decorate my pages, but sometimes I don't feel like it or I don't have enough time, so I like to use washi-tape to add something extra. Also stickers from Redbubble or stamps.

That's it for now! I like to experiment by testing new brands, so after a while I will make an updated post about new materials I have discovered. If you have any questions or perhaps even want me to test something out, let me know!
Saturday, July 01, 2017 15:52

Monthly Recap June '17 | More new books.

Monthly-recap_thumb6This post recaps my month: my personal life, all the books I’ve read & bought and all the movies and TV shows I’ve seen.  All my pictures are showcased on my Instagram: Mel_1704.
 
OUAT_thumb3Bookclub! I was the only one who finished the book, but most of our conversations are about other things anyway, haha. Daph gave me a birthday present that took ages to arrive and it is this gorgeous Grimm's Fairytales picture book. It looks great in my growing Fairytale book collection. I haven't shot a photo of it yet, but it will follow!

Travel agency. We are busy with the planning of our vacation (we really need to start booking something..), so we went to an agency for travels with the train to get some information. Looks like we might visit Venice after all! I'm so excited and hope to share our booked plans soon.

Shopping. Because what else would you do when you get your vacation money from work? Haha. I'm building a new wardrobe, so every month I buy some new pieces and this time I discovered a new favorite store.

Family. My mom and dad celebrated their birthday together and it was fun to hang out with everyone. My father got a special tablet for photo editing and we treated our mom by going to La Cubanita. On one of the hottest days, Father's day, we went to the park and I had a barbecue over at my grandparent's house.

Music festival. There's always a free music festival, with different stages and lesser-known bands. Unfortunately, it started to rain really hard that day, so we only went there for an hour. We visited our friends and even took a walk in the woods after we had some delicious ice cream (Tony Chocolonely flavour!)

Team building. This year we went with Insights, which is a personality test that shows your percentage for certain colors – and those are assigned to certain personality traits. The test also makes some sort of story about you, with different subjects like 'strong and weak points' and 'the way you interact with others'. Some things were spot on, but I also noticed a few wrong elements that made me sound really harsh and cold. We had some team building elements, followed by a barbecue, so I had a great time.

Harry Potter. Twenty years of Potter magic! Seventeen years ago I discovered this fandom and it has never let me go. I can't believe it and it makes my heart so happy to see Harry Potter is still alive, especially now with the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

HP magic

bookhaul_thumb2I might have gone crazy, just a little. Sometimes I have this mighty need to buy some books and I just go with it. Oops?

The first thing I got was the beautiful The Arabian Nights leather-bound edition, which I added to my floating shelf. I received my pre-orders from V.E Schwab – Our Dark Duet, Elizabeth May – The Fallen Kingdom and Danielle L. Jensen – The Broken Ones. I got the box set from George R.R Martin – Song of Ice and Fire and all the editions from the Harry Potter house editions, designed for their 20th birthday. I am a Ravenclaw, but when I found out that there are special pages in each book.. I had to get them.

Arabian nightsBroken ones, GOT box set

Dark Duet, Fallen KingdomHP editions

Fairyloot box for June, which was all about Elementists. Great items!
 
1. A Stormheart Candle from Witchwood Remedies.
2. Bending Lipbalms from Geeky Clean, based on Avatar.
3. Hamsa Hand Bracelet from In The Moment.
4. Clairvoyance Soap from Ascent Bath and Body.
5. Potion Sticky Notes from Fairyloot itself.
6. Portable Magic Pillowcase by Miss Phi.
7. Bonus items; The Waking Land sampler and Frostblood Postcards.
8. The book: Roar by Corma Carmack, with signed book sticker, interview & hand-written letter.

I was contacted by Meg Bruce from JKS Communications – Literary Publicity about a promotional package from the author D.E Night. Look at the cute potion bottle (and how this fits with the theme from Fairyloot) which is filled with lights! The Crowns of Croswald is a Middle Grade story about Ivy, who is threatened by the Dark Queen after her powers awaken. It has some Harry Potter vibes.

Fairyloot Junepackage

Read_thumb5 I've found out that I do really well in the first week, but then I get distracted by all my other hobbies. So, again, only 6 books this month and most of them were disappointing..

1. Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Wings and Ruin. 3.5/5. More action, less sex and purring.
2. Jennifer Donnolly – Lost in a Book. 2.5/5. Not Belle-like enough for me.
3. Patrick Ness – Release. 2/5. The two stories didn't come together for me.
4. Lana Popovic – Wicked like Wildfire. 1/5. Disliked the writing and characters.
5. Adam Silvera – They Both Die at the End. 3.5/5. Emotional, but needed more world-building.
6. Mindy McGinnis – This Darkness Mine. 4.5/5. LOVED it. So twisted and messed-up.

Watched_thumb5
TV Shows: 
We watched a few episodes of The Blacklist and finished the third season from Better Call Saul. What a way to end the season! 
 
Movies:  
Angry Birds. I wasn't planning to watch it, but we got to borrow the dvd from some friends who liked it and I have to say, it was really funny!
The Magnificent Seven, which was.. a little underwhelming at times, but still heart-breaking at the end.  

New music:
I've been playing the new songs from Mighty Oaks non-stop, especially The Great Unknown, and I have fallen in love with the tunes from James Blunt/Robin Shulz - OK. Also found Oh Wonder - Ultralife acoustic and the always perfect Mumford and Sons - I'm on Fire cover. Last, but not least, The Lumineers - Nobody Knows from Pete's Dragon, together with Something Wild, love the violin, and a sneak peek at one of the new songs from First Aid Kit - Fireworks.

  What did you do in June?
Monday, June 26, 2017 13:11

Rainbow Rowell – Attachments.

Title: Attachments.
Author: Rainbow Rowell.
Pages: 357.
PublicationPublished February 2012 by Orion.
It's 1999 and the internet is still a novelty. At a newspaper office, two colleagues, Beth and Jennifer, e-mail back and forth, discussing their lives in hilarious details, from love troubles to family dramas. And Lincoln, a shy IT guy responsible for monitoring e-mails, spends his hours reading every exchange. At first their e-mails offer a welcome diversion, but the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them. By the time Lincoln realizes just how head-over-heels he is, it's too late to introduce himself. After a series of close encounters, Lincoln eventually decides he must follow his heart... and find out if there is such a thing as love before first sight.
RATING:

This is one of those books I wasn't planning to read, until it was nominated and picked for our bookclub. I am someone who is pretty open-minded when it comes to reading books outside my comfort zone, so I bought it (I like the cover) and I dived right into it. I must say, I wasn't blown away, but I didn't hate it either.

The main character, Lincoln, is living his life without enjoying it. He is 29, recently moved back into his mother's house and he is doing a job that clearly doesn't excite him. He works at night, spends most of his day eating and sleeping, and the only social interactions he gets are when he plays Dungeon & Dragons with some friends. We see glimpses of his previous relationship and how it all stranded, leaving a mark on him.

Lincoln was a difficult character and at the end I'm still not sure if he grew on me. His work is checking emails and making sure that it is not used for personal use and that there are no inappropriate content/words. When Jennifer/Beth's email exchanges get flagged, he decides to read them and for some reason, he never sends them a warning message. Instead, he keeps reading their conversations and he is completely invested in their lives. I thought it was creepy, especially when he starts to fall for one of them..

I don't know. Maybe I'm just not romantic enough, but falling in love with someone because they write funny isn't something that speaks to me. The fact that we get to know Jennifer/Beth only through their emails also made it hard to feel connected to them, although I was quite fascinated by all the things they went through. Beth is in a relationship and is desperate to marry, Jennifer is happily married and feels the pressure of having a baby, but she believes she is not (perhaps never) ready for it.

I liked Lincoln's development and how he starts to get out of his shell, but the way he pretty much stalks the girl he starts to fall in love with.. I liked to read about his previous relationship, but I did not really care for the romance and that's a shame, because in the end, that's what this story is all about.


"I want someone whose heart is big enough to hold me."
Monday, June 12, 2017 15:21

Let it go | Collection of books.

Let it goLet it go is my feature, where I spotlight all the books I DNF and the ones I read, but don't want to review in detail. The name comes from the song from Frozen. This feature is based on several other DNF features.

Patrick Ness- Release. 
RATING: 2/5.
Patrick Ness' books always make me feel stupid. It's like I'm not clever enough to truly grasp his intentions, because I can't figure out how the two stories combine. It felt like I was reading two books at the same time and they didn't mesh together in my head.

31194576The first story is about Adam and how he deals with his homosexuality and his family, who are very religious and believe it is something he can be cured of. They try to avoid the topic, but whenever they can they make it clear they aren't willing to accept him. No matter what he does, it is always wrong. The moment his father tells him that is is hard to love him, but that the tries, my heart completely shattered for Adam. The fact that there are people in the world who think like that is just unbelievable to me. Love = love, no matter what, as long as it makes you happy.

Adam's romantic moments with his boyfriend made me melt and it was good to see he was so supported by him. The sex scenes were nicely done. Also his friendship with Angela! That was one amazing girl.

The other story is about a Queen and a Faun. She is possessed with the spirit of a girl that was strangled to death and she is now on the hunt to get justice. The Faun is hopping along to sort of protect her? The story was really poetic, but I struggled with it. I didn't understand what this story had to do with Adam.. and why it was there in the first place. I just don't see what it adds to the overall story.

So yeah. I'm starting to believe Ness' work is just not for me?

Jennifer Donnolly – Lost in a book
RATING: 2.5/5
31193354It's an easy and fast book, but she has made Belle really un-Belle-like at times for the plot. Moments where I thought 'this is NOT how Belle would act' but I tried to see this as a complete seperate story. You really have to overcome the idea that this is similar to Beauty and the Beast from Disney, so once I let go of that it became more enjoyable.

The inclusion of Death/Love was interesting. I was confused by the first chapter, yet intrigued by the way this was going to play out. It was an unique twist to add to the tale.

The plot would have benefited from more character building for the Beast, but again, the author probably did so for the plot. The whole story is driven by Belle's unhappiness in the castle, so the more lonely she gets, the more desperate she wants to leave. The idea of traveling to this other world through a book was great; it was one of the things I loved about the live 2017 version. The darker turn at the end was nicely done.

In the end, it was enjoyable, but not mind-blowing and definitely not as close to the original tale as I thought it would be.


Samantha Shannon – The Song Rising
RATING: 5/5.
I always struggle to review books in the middle of a series, so I'm going to be vague.

31451267The first thing I want to say is that I loved it. There is a slow start, but once the story kicks in it is one thrilling ride. Samantha has truly set up an interesting story filled with fascinating characters.

This sequel is all about Paige and her search to find a solution to destroy the new detection systems. They make it impossible for Clairvoyants to go out in public, so the stakes are high. This leads Paige into the heart of Manchester, where she may or may not be able to find help.

I also loved her struggle between following her heart in her romance or being the leader everyone expects her to be. The fact that the romance always take a back seat is something I really appreciate, since there are so many important things that keep Paige busy. It feels realistic, yet it never gets overwhelming. This book could easily be too chaotic to follow, but Samantha is able to keep it all under control. I need more!

Lexa Hillyer – Spindle Fire. 
RATING: 2.5/5.
30163661In the beginning of the book there is an introduction from someone, who says that the author also writes poems; I was expecting a lot from her writing-style, but to be honest it felt a bit choppy to me. It wasn't clicking with me and that prevented me from getting sucked into the story.

I thought it was great that this book features a blind character without giving her these over-the-top powers to make her bad-ass. Isabelle simply rocked and the fact she can't see added something extra to her personality. Aurora was less interesting to me, because she felt more distant. I couldn't connect with her, but I did like her part in the story. The switch from POV between the two sisters was distracting though and it made the story slow.

 There could have been more exciting twists and turns, although I did like all the original elements the author put in the story; like the way the fairies take something before they bestow a gift on the princess and that we get to see Aurora's dream while she is asleep.

Overall, an okay book.

Ernest Cline – Ready Player One. 
RATING: 4/5.
99695715/5 for voice. Wil Wheaton did one hell of a job in portraying the voice of Wade. He had me completely hooked. 3/5 for the overall story. I loved the plot, but the pace is slow and tedious. There are a lot of descriptions and detail, which could be a bit too much for my taste.

I loved Wade. I really liked Artemis, 'H' and Soto + Deito. It is a diverse cast with good dynamics.

I was appalled by the fact that some people were willing to kill in order to win the game, but also not surprised, because it is definitely something that would happen in real life too.

Wade is a Gunther; one of the many people who are trying to find a hidden egg in a virtual world called the Oasis. It was created by Holiday, who left his entire fortune up for grabs after his death. Five years have passed and no one has found the first clue yet, until Wade stumbles upon it. This is the beginning of a life/death race to find the Egg.

Like I said, there are parts that the author wrote with MANY descriptions. I love details, but sometimes I wish the story would move forward a little faster. I'm not sure if I would enjoy this as a written book, because it was definitely thanks to Wheaton's brilliant storytelling that I kept listening.
Monday, June 05, 2017 11:26

Monthly Recap May '17 | Being active again.

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This post recaps my month: my personal life, all the books I’ve read & bought and all the movies and TV shows I’ve seen.


May was a great month for sure. I became a little more active and it feels good. The awesome sunny weather makes it easier for me to go outside, so I hope to keep it up.

OUAT_thumb3
1. I had a new shift at work. When you work in the weekend there are different stations you can work on. So far I had to do the urine cultures, but this time I got to oversee the work of another hospital. It's great that I'm starting to get more responsibilities.

2. I went to a yoga class with friends and it was so relaxing yet intense. I love this way of toning your muscles and getting relaxed, so I need to get over my fear of going alone. First step was taken, not it is time for me to be brave..

3. I had a short vacation with my boyfriend's mother, sister, brother their boyfriend/girlfriend. We stayed at a bungalow house from Friday to Monday and we had some great activities and fantastic weather! The first day we swam in the subtropical pool and I got injured after I bumped my head really hard under water in the wild-water course. Nothing too bad though, but it shocked me and I had a monstrous headache that night.
The next day we had a parcour in the trees, about 6 meters of the ground. It was scary at times, but it felt so good to complete it without falling! After it we went into an Egyptian themed escape room, which we completed with 3 minutes left. Everyone went for another swim in the pool, but I stayed back home with my mother-in-law and finished a book.
The next day we went for a round of paintball. The guns were bad, but it was fun to do and afterwards we did a few adventure golf courses, which was challenging. Board game night!
On Monday we had to leave the bungalow at 10:00, so we went to the pool and stayed there until 14:00. We ate some ice cream, I played pool with my boyfriend (and won of course ;P) and then we went home.
Height
4. I had a sport event with work. Archery tag, Lasergame, Volleybal, Estafette and Bubble football. We didn't win anything, but it was fun to hang out with some colleagues after work.

5. De-coloured my hair! It turned green, but after I washed it with ketchup and more Head & Shoulders it slowly turned back into blonde. I have to say; the purple hair adventure was great and now that I know it will wash out relatively easy, I will return to it!

6. I ordered sushi from a new place and it was delicious.

7. Celebrated my sister's and grandfather's birthday.

8. I got some pretty flowers from my boyfriend, because we are 8.5 years together.
bookhaul_thumb2
I cleaned up my shelves and got rid of another 10+ books, including my three mismatched paperbacks from Game of Thrones. I saw a nice offer on my favorite website, so I decided to get the Game of Thrones box set of all 7 books.
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The leatherbound editions from Barnes & Nobles are some of my favorite books, so I finally got The Arabian Nights. I'm a big Potterhead and I couldn't pass the opportunity to get the 20th special House editions for the first book – and because I''m crazy I also bought the others. Those extra pages are worth it! (I'm a Ravenclaw, in case you did'nt know yet) I stumbled on Alice in Zombieland in the bargain section of ABC and decided to take it with me, since I met Gena Showalter last month :)

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And last, but definitely not least, my Fairyloot box! I got a subscription last month and I think it has been one of my best decisions this year. This box is always so magical. The items are picked with such care and the books so far have all been on my wish list.
 
Fairytloot

Items: World Mythology book, Renee Ahdieh – The Flame in the Mist, celtic socks, a wooden Lord of the Rings bookmark, a gel pen in the shape of a feather, candle called 'Mist' (which smells great) and Warriors & Legends inspired tea. There was also a sampler, a coupon code for more tea, a bookmark from the book, a signed sticker, interview with the author and a letter from her.

Three random new items I got that made me really happy. Cogsworth was always out of stock, but this time I found one and I bought it right away! <3 Also decided to get this edition of Rapunzel, because her hair is so lovely detailed. And since I'm getting more into audio books, I got a good headphone in this fantastic mint color. They are good! Fresh 'n Rebel is the brand, in case you are curious.
FunkosHeadphones

Read_thumb5
Another month where I sort of let myself down when it comes to reading. I'm simply too busy with all the other things I like too, that I don't give myself any time to sit down to pick up a book. I want to change that in June.

1. Samantha Shannon – The Song Rising. 5/5.
2. Morgan Matson – The Unexpected Everything. 2/5.
3. Lexa Hillyer – Spindle Fire. 2/5.
4. Earnest Cline – Ready Player One (audio book) 3.5/5.
5. Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Mist and Fury (reread) 4/5.

Watched_thumb5
TV Shows: 1. The Blacklist season 2 episode 14 – 21.
2. Better Call Saul season 3 episode 4 – 7.
Movies:
1. Self less. Mweh.
2. Keeping up with the Joneses. Pretty funny, but nothing special.
3. Pirates 3: At World's End, as preparation rewatching the movies for the new one.
4. Big Hero 6, forced my father and sister to watch it (and they liked it a lot)

What did you do in May?
Saturday, May 27, 2017 13:57

Erin Summerill – Ever the Hunted.

Title: Ever the Hunted.
Author: Erin Summerill.
Pages: 392.
PublishedDecember 27th 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers.
Source: Publisher on Netgalley, thanks!
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer. However, it’s not so simple. The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.
Ever the Hunted is a story with potential that let me down, because it didn't manage to be something special. There are many cliches that don't have to be problems, but I couldn't overlook them in this book. The writing itself was good and the reason I decided to finish this book instead of DNF-ing it. It's fast and easy, but the true problem is the plot.

There is nothing wrong with a basic plot; it only starts to form a problem when the author truly keeps it basic. The story fails to deliver something more. The characters are only so-so, the plot is predictable and the pacing is on the slow side. It all felt flat and uninspired to me.

Britta's father, the official Bounty Hunter of the King, has been murdered and her best childhood friend is the suspect. When Britta is caught poaching she has two choices: die or join the hunt for Cohen. If she finds him, she will get her freedom back. On her way Britta discovers clues that make her aware Cohen is around; and eventually they meet and run away together. Cohen vows he didn't kill her father and it is up to them to discover the truth.

Britta and Cohen are both unmemorable characters. In the beginning I imagined her to be a little like Meria from Brave, but that really isn't the case. She is great at tracking and she knows her way with the bow. Her father has taught her many things, but most of the times she seemed clueless. There was nothing special about her and she had a slight damsel in distress syndrome. She faints and cries a lot. While I don't object to anyone displaying these emotions (because no, crying doesn't make you look weak), Britta doesn't seem to be able to pick herself up without having a guy around. She is always second-guessing herself and needs a lot of affirmations from the people around her.

Cohen also lacks traits that make him stand out. He is the typical boy-next-door, so I didn't give a crap about their plain romance. I always like the friends-who-turn-into-lover-trope (although I prefer sarcastic/hate-to-love romance), but not if both characters bore me to death. There was also too much emphasis on their growing feelings.

The ending sort of made up for it, but the overall story wasn't enough to make me want to pick up the sequel.
“Bravery is a choice that is yours to make. Don't let fear steal your will.” 
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 21:01

Audio book Adventures | Discovering Storytel.

I have tried to listen to audio books in the past, but for some reason it never managed to grab my attention. This was before I found out that I can listen, and enjoy, audio books on my way to work. Sitting in the bus with an audio book is the best thing ever! I still can't concentrate on audio books when I do something, but the bus ride is so much more fun now. 

This month I discovered Storytel and since it offers a 14-day free trial, I decided to give it a shot. I can already tell you that I've paid for my first month now. It is basically a Netflix service for audio books. For €9.99 a month you can listen to as many audio books as you want. You don't buy them, so when your cancel your subscription you'll not be able to listen to your previous audio books. I think this is a great deal. Also: I'm not sponsored by Storytel. They don't even know who I am. 

You can use the website if you don't want to use your phone, but it is easy to navigate around the app. This is your start screen. It features the book you are currently listening to on top.

76dc8466da5ab2585d813341a127b9afAanbevelingen = recommendations. Popular titles.
Series = I believe these are Podcasts. I haven't tried out this function yet.

Categorieën = categories. They offer a wide range of books; both Dutch and English, which is perfect for me!There are 17 different categories, ranging from YA, erotica and thrillers to biographies and personal development.

Zoek = search options. You can search on book titles, authors and even narrators. You can also

Je boekenplank = Your bookshelf. Here you can store all the books you are interested in. Simply click on a title and a small menu opens that allows you to place the book on your shelf. You can also mark it as 'listened to', download it so you are able to listen to it offline, rate it and share it (E-mail, Twitter, Whatsapp, Pinterest and Snapchat are some of the available options)

Instellingen = settings. Here you can see your next pay day, add your Facebook account, Filter results and see all the offline books you've stored on your account.




I scrolled through the categories and decided I wanted to check out 'Fantasy and SciFi'. This opens a screen that starts with the Dutch audio books and then you have the English section, divided into 'New, Popular and Our Favorites'.
d1e3d56909576fd959dd40fea7807ab0 ---> f20134442b7bebfcefe6d4830df6f867

I've already added some books I'm interested in on my bookshelf, picture on the left. You can use filters to make navigation easy.

On the right is the screen once you've selected a book. There is a Night mode, where you can set a timer from 5 minutes to 60 minutes. There is the ability to add bookmarks. The cloud is the download option, so you can listen offline, and the last is your speed setting: 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x and 2x. The three dots in the right corner give you an extra menu, like 'show book details' where you can also get recommendations for similar books. The three stripes on the left give you the start screen I showed you earlier.
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I'm a fan! I never thought I would fall in love with audio books, but I discovered it is all about timing (as in: simply sitting down and not doing anything else, so I can focus on the book) and voice (I've finished Ready Player One narrated by Wil Wheaton and it was fabulous!) And not to forget the fact that this app makes it so easy to try out different audio books, without having to pay a lot of money.

Recap:
-14 day free trial.
-Then €9.99 every month. You can cancel whenever you want.
-Listen to all the audio books you want.
-Wide offer of Dutch and English books in different categories.
-Easy navigation in the app.

Sunday, May 07, 2017 20:21

C.J Redwine – The Wish Granter.

Title: The Wish Granter.
Author: C.J Redwine.
Pages: 432.
PublishedFebruary 14th 2017 by Balzer + Bray.
Source: Publisher on Edelweiss, thanks!

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop. Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown. So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself. But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.

I fell in love with The Shadow Queen – and hereby I declare it as one of my favorite retelling of Snow White – so I was extremely excited about The Wish Granter. This book is part of the series, but they have separate stories. While I didn't fall in love with it as much as I did with The Shadow Queen, I think it is a fantastic retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.

Alister Teague is cursed and he uses all his wit to break free. If you come across him and you make a deal with him, it means you are screwed. Alister is a foul player and that is how he manages to use Thad's desperation against him. He forces the boy into becoming King and in return, Alister will keep Thad's sister Ari save from their murderous family. Ari isn't happy with this change of life and together with Sebastian, she tries to come up with a plan to get rid of Alister.

Ari is feisty and intelligent. She knows something is up with Thad and the mysterious Teague and she's not going to wait to see what is going to happen. Instead, she is doing her own research and this leads her in the arms of Sebastian, the new blacksmith with a story of his own. Piece by piece Ari finds out what has transpired between Thad and Teague and what this will mean in the future. Her plan to release Thad is dangerous and shows her loyalty for her family. I adored the fierce love between her and her brother. It was nice to finally have another book with a healthy brother-sister relationship. It was my favorite aspect of the story.

Thad and Sebastian are both solid character. Neither of them are really memorable on their own, but I liked their role in the plot. The blossoming romance between Sebastian and Ari was adorable. It's not one of those I SHIP THIS HARDCORE ship, but I liked their chemistry and how supportive they were.

The plot is fast-paced and the writing-style is so smooth and easy to read. This is the type of book you could read in one sitting. I still liked The Shadow Queen more, but I can't wait to see what more stories Redwine is going to write in this world.

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