October in Hindsight

Oktober_2017

The Reunion 2.0

November first was our second reunion. Ten people from our vacation group had a second reunion, we had decided a while ago that we wanted to do an Escape Room. We decided that we would go to Prison Island in Utrecht. This time we went on October first and we met up at the Escape Island, it was so good to see everyone and to catch up. We had decided ahead of time that we would make two teams, one of four people and the other one had five players. The tenth person joined us at dinner. The Prison Island is set up in an old factory building. You have to walk up a couple of stairs to get to the prison as soon as you step through the door you enter a prison. The look and the feel of the whole place is just perfect. I had never been in an Escape Room so this was new to me. There was a short introduction by one of the ‘guards’ and each group received a chip with that chip we could open the doors and start the games. At any moment you could leave the room. Which is perfect, no need to panic if you’re claustrophobic. Which is always a good thing. After the explanation and introduction we were allowed to venture off into the prison. There are twenty-four cells and each cell is different.

I think that this makes for a really interesting afternoon, each room you can try as many times as you like. Only the best result is kept in the total score of your group. There is a screen on which you can see how your team is doing in relation to other teams that did the Prison Escape that day. Each room had their own game and the level of difficulty is also different for each room. In some rooms you simply have to answer questions, in another room you have to slam on buttons or figure out a puzzle. We had so much fun! Definitely a super positive recommendation for Prison Island at De Fabrique in Utrecht.

The Zoo

I love going to a Zoo, it had been a while but we received a couple of free tickets for Burgers Zoo in Arnhem. I think it’s interesting to see and to take in the animals. They are so fascinating and there is so much to learn about them. For the longest time I didn’t like to go to Zoo’s the reason for that was that we visited a Zoo which was just horrible. At the time friends of my parents said that it was a really nice place with lots of different animals and it was close by to where we used to live at the time. We actually went there and it turned out to be  a horrible place. Even as young as my sister and I were at the time we could see that it wasn’t a good place. It was a German Zoo, it has been closed down for a long time which is for the better. The animals were in these really small concrete boxes and I can still to this day vividly remember a polar bear in this white and blue painted concrete box with a tiny bit of water just looking plain miserable.

At that point we were done with Zoo’s. It took a long time before I wanted to visit one again. Actually it was only a couple of years ago, we have beautiful Zoo’s where it doesn’t feel like it’s a horrible place but where they seem to look for ways to make them look authentic. They have a beautiful Mangrove with huge butterflies, they are so beautiful. I made some awesome pictures.

Reading and writing

I haven’t written much this past month, but what I did write was my book review for American Gods.  It was a difficult one, I am still not sure what to say about it. I think it’s one of the toughest book reviews I’ve ever written. On one hand I thought the book as well as the television show were intriguing and interesting yet on the other hand it was at times really tough to follow and hard to understand. However I liked reading it and I might read it again in the future. Because I feel like this book requires multiple reads. I think that you get a lot deeper into the story and start understanding it on a different level. And that is an interesting thought one that needs exploring.

Looking ahead:

  • After October comes November and that means only one thing. It’s time for Nanowrimo! During November I’ll be writing – don’t know what but we’ll see I’ll get something written somehow.
  • The book
  • I don’t have any specific plans for November, on Friday evenings you can find me in the local library with my writers friends – also known as the Epic Blue Unicorn group. We might also plan a Saturday or Sunday in the Ikea in our hometown.
  • Writing, writing, writing …
  • A weekend trip to Groningen – maybe … we’ll see.
  • Secret Santa is coming up, better get planning!
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Book 7 – American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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I was really looking forward to reading this book. Reason for it was that a lot of my friends from my writer’s group absolutely love it! Granted, a couple of them are huge Neil Gaiman fans, but still if you hear people talking about something with so much passion you’ll end up being curious about it. I heard them talking about it so many times that it really got me interested.

I liked the idea of the old Gods in today’s world and seeing how they would remain standing while new Gods try to take their place. I really like the concept and the idea of the story. In that regard it reminded me of ‘Once upon a time’ the HBO television show where fairytale characters live in our world. Little by little you’ll find out who is which fairytale character and how their story fits into the bigger whole.

American Gods is similar, the title tells you that it’s all about Gods but without telling you immediately who’s who. It sets for a very intriguing story line. But at the same time it’s also a very confusing story. Reading the book took me quite some time, it was a book which I really wanted to read however there were also times where I needed to process what I was reading. Confusing that is what it was at times. I honestly can’t say that I love the book, yet I don’t hate it either. The book had also parts which pulled me in and made me wanting more and more. I was determined to finish the book, sometimes when a story confuses me I get bored with it. This was different though, I wanted to finish it and despite it being difficult at times I really enjoyed reading it. Although I do think that this is one of those stories where you want to read it more than once and if you do you’ll probably see a lot of signs and connections you hadn’t seen before. So this book will surely go on the must-read-again list.

The book versus the television

As you might know there is also a television show. The book and the television show are very different in my opinion and while that is in some cases a shame and often causes an uproar among fans. In this case it works, probably mostly because Neil Gaiman is working on the television show as well so nothing happens without his approval and in complete Gaiman style he’s said before that he wanted to surprise the fans of the book as well as new fans. There were some things I’d expected to see in the television show but we haven’t seen them so far – yet it doesn’t feel wrong. With Gaiman involved in the whole process and it can’t be wrong. It’s his story after all – these are his characters and knowing that he approved it all makes it good.

So while it might be vastly different it’s still the same story, just in a different format. I really loved the portrayal of the characters, they certainly came across as the same characters in the book they represented. Seeing it all on screen cleared some things up for me personally – it made it easier to grasp certain connections. There where some scenes in the book where I wasn’t sure what they meant in the whole story while I was reading it, but seeing them on screen made it easier to give them a place and to understand it all.

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Visually the television show is absolutely stunning! It’s dirty and it’s grimy, shiny and radiant all at the same time. It all fits the characters as you can see in the posters above and the same goes for the story. I think that the tone of the television show is simply perfect.

I love how they choose to diverge from the story and give certain characters a bigger role, most importantly Mad Sweeney. His interaction with Laura Moon is so funny and the macabre humor really brings some fun to the show as well.

I’m looking forward to see more. I certainly recommend this book and the television show. Yes, I certainly do however I do recommend both of them. In my opinion the television show makes the story easier to understand.

 

 

August in hindsight

August_2017

I know it’s October by the time I’m finally posting this but September seemed to have flown by without me noticing it. Well I noticed it but it was a month which was too busy for me to take any time for myself. And the few spare moments I had I was too tired to focus on writing. It’s not an excuse but the way life sometimes takes over. Anyway let me start with telling you all about my August.

August was  a strange month, usually August would be the month that marked my vacation time. However this year I had my two week summer break at the end of June and the beginning of July. So my vacation was done long before most other people where even thinking about going on vacation. And the fact that the weather wasn’t too good didn’t really help either. I was at work while one colleague after another left for their break. It was a really strange situation from my point of view to be honest.

It was also the month in which my grandmother turned ninety! A very respectable age especially if you manage to do it the way my grandmother does it. For someone her age she’s doing really well. I love my grandmother, she’s such a sweetheart and we’ve always had a special connection. She’s an amazing woman and I really hope that she’s will continue on the way she’s doing right now.

Reunion

We’ve had our first ‘official’ reunion with the group from my vacation in Sardinia – I say official because this was a day planned ahead and we already had a mini-reunion at the lake near The Hague where some of us went windsurfing. Anyway this was the official reunion. It was a wonderful weekend, we went to Utrecht. A beautiful city in the center of the Netherlands. And while it is quite close to my home – about an hour away – me and some other people decided that we wanted to stay the night. So we wouldn’t have to worry about getting home. We rented a room with six people in a Hostel. If you ever need an Hostel in the center of Utrecht I can wholeheartedly recommend Stay Okay. It’s a very new – exactly one year old when we where there – Hostel which houses all kinds of different rooms and there were even families with kids and elderly people staying at the Hostel. In the afternoon we went bowling which is always a fun thing to do. Surprisingly the first round started off pretty good for me, better than expected. Not that I was the winner or anything but I wasn’t too bad.

After our bowling adventure we set out to find a spot at one of the many cafe’s for drink, and some pizza slices – something which happened at our vacation and what gave us a good laugh at this point but wasn’t really all that funny when it happened. Anyway after our pizza slices and drinks we went for a walk through the city to find our restaurant for the evening. A lovely small place which was in no way set up to host a group of 15 people but managed to do so anyway. We had a sort of tapas dinner where they made different types of small meals, not just Spanish but everything and anything. We had a lovely dinner. And afterwards we took another stroll through the city. We were planning on going out but it was still very early in the night. Eventually we ended up at Florin, which is the same place we always go with the Nanowrimo Kickoffs! The night ended at a club, not exactly one where I would have gone but it was fun nevertheless. Around three we rolled into our beds – which were luckily for us only a three minute walk away from the club.

The six of us – who rented a room at the hostel – had a very restless but fun night. Everyone slept a little but no one slept nearly enough and after a short night and a way too early shower we were sitting across from each other at the breakfast table. After the breakfast our ways split all over the Netherlands and we all made our way home either by car or by train.

Reading and writing

I’ve finally finished reading the When Woman Were Warriors books, all three of them back to back. I absolutely loved reading the books. They reminded me so much of the books I used to read when I was younger. In a lot of ways these type of books feel like they are historical novels but you know that the story is completely made up. A series of books dedicated to strong female characters! A series of books I absolutely recommend to everyone who loves to read about strong women.

And I started reading American God’s by Neal Gaiman, which is now also a television show. A lot of my friends recommended the book. So I’m really looking forward to reading it and seeing what it’s all about.

Looking ahead:

  • My parents went on their cruise vacation and they left from Amsterdam. I decided that I would bring them and pick them up a week later. So I spend two Sundays driving to Amsterdam, one of them was spend at a city beach and one of them in my hometown where we had a nice meal together.
  • Working lots and lots of overtime in September, like usual.
  • We had the NoSun Festival! Which was fun!
  • And we had another reunion!

Book 4-5-6 – When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson

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I started reading the ‘When Women Were Warriors’-series when I wanted to read something different. When you look through the books I’ve read these past couple of years you’ll notice that a lot of them are crime-novels.

So I started looking around and when I came across the description of the ‘When Women Were Warriors’ series I was sold. Literally, sold! I loved it, the whole idea of the book. The title alone made me want to know more about the story. I love reading about strong women and honestly how much stronger can a women be that literally be a warrior.

The Warrior’s Path – part 1

WWWW_book1‘The Warrior’s Path’ is the first part in the trilogy revolving around Tamras, a girl who’s come of age  and is brought to Merin’s house by her mother. The house of a Lady Merin who will from that day on be the lady she serves and who will be overseeing her training as a swords-woman under one of Merin’s female warriors. Or so Tamras hopes, but her dreams are squashed when she’s told that due to her petite frame being a swords-woman will be out of the question because a sword is heavier than she’ll be able to wield. And having to wield it with two hands would mean that she can’t hold a shield at the same time. To make matters worse, Merin assigns Tamras the role of being a companion. Which means that she’s barely more than a personal assistant to one of the warriors instead of being an apprentice. And in Tamras’ case not even that because the woman – Maara – who she’s assigned to is a stranger in Merin’s house with little to no connection to anyone in Merin’s house. But Tamras is not about to let herself be pushed into a corner. She fights for her place and not only her place but also Maara’s place.

A Journey of the Heart – part 2WWWW_book2

The story continues and little by little Tamras is able to gain Maara’s trust which isn’t always easy, especially when Maara’s biggest enemy also becomes Tamras’ enemy. And if that enemy is the most important Warrior in Merin’s house you know you have a problem on your hands. Meanwhile Tamras’ apprenticeship under Maara’s guidance doesn’t turn out quite as she’d expected it to be. Maara makes choices which she thinks are best for Tamras but they are far from the usual path an apprentice takes. At the same time Tamras is – unwillingly – involved in a power struggle and politics about the future of Merin’s house. A situation which becomes so dangerous for Tamras that she has no choice but to leave her home behind in an effort to safe herself, Maara, Merin and the people she loves.

A Hero’s Tale – part 3

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Tamras has fled her home and followed Maara, in an effort to save her and the people she loves. Life isn’t easy when you have no place to call home. Especially when winter is just around the corner. But Tamras is a fighter who doesn’t give up and when the situation seems extremely dire a solution presents itself.

I like reading books about strong women and this book is gathers a grand collection of strong women each in their own right. I love how Catherine M. Wilson is able to throw that many strong women into the mix without it feeling like there are too many or without being realistic. The characters in my opinion are well balanced and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. They are like real women, they might not always make the right choices. But the fact that they are flawed makes them three dimensional and lovable. And even the people like Vintel react like real people. She might be the antagonist in this story but she’s definitively not all bad! She had her good moments as well even if you have to look hard to see them sometimes.

Reading these books made me realize that I really missed this genre! Of course this is fantasy, but it has this real historical feel to it and when I was younger I loved reading these type of books. But these past couple of years most books I’ve read have been crime novels. I’ve once again been made aware that I should really change this.

These books are definitively not separately readable. And for that same reason it is difficult to review them separately. If you do you will never know what the story is about. I think that they have divided it into three parts to make it easier to read. I have read the ebooks so I am not sure about a real book but the ebooks chapters simply continue counting on. I would definitively recommend these books to anyone who’s open to my recommendations but you do have to get ready for a read because all three books are about 900 pages long in total. But it is a truly inspirational journey about making choices – hard choices, possible life and death choices.

April in hindsight

April_2017

I know the month of May is almost over and I still haven’t written my ‘April in Hindsight’ post. I know, I know I’m not doing very well on that department.

April has been a strange month, it has been a collection of high’s and lows even more so than normally. One day I was celebrating a birthday and the next I was paying my last respects to someone. It’s the way life goes I guess but it remains a strange situation to be in, especially since it was literally one day to the next.

City trips

April is always an extremely busy month for me in general lots of birthdays and of course Eastern so in general besides working and those engagements I don’t have a whole lot of time to spare. So I didn’t make any city trips this past month and in fact I don’t have any planned for May either. Nevertheless I wanted to keep the routine going and I think it’s a shame that I couldn’t but it just didn’t work out.

Besides that I still owe you a post about my Gouda trip. I really need to get my shit together and get things going, don’t I?

Reading and writing

I read Lindsey Stirling’s book and I really enjoyed reading it. In my opinion everyone could read this book and take away some good advice from it. Peaked you interest? Head over and read my review to find out what I mean by that.

I’ve been reading the second book in the When Women Were Warriors series – A Journey of the Heart. I am really enjoying these books it’s a wonderful story about strong women and a journey to adulthood. I’m still convinced that it’s better to read the whole series of books before I write a review so yes you’re missing a book review. But that’ll be corrected once I’ve finished the second and the third book.

I didn’t get much writing done this past month, well I’ve written many many many whats app messages but I don’t think they count for any type of writing. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about my extreme increase of text messages this past month.

Looking ahead:

  • In less than a week I’ll be at the Hanson concert!!! So looking forward to that, they are celebrating the 25th anniversary as a band and it is my 20th year as a fan. MMMbop came out in 1997 and I love(d) that song! It’s a shame that they are not more known by an bigger audience these days because in my opinion they deserve it. But what can you do about it?
  • I finally made the arrangements for my holiday and in fact in less than a month from today I’ll be somewhere on a beach doing all kinds of fun stuff with a group of people who I don’t know at this point. We’ll see how that one turns out.
  • There are a lot of things I have to purchase for my trip into the unknown…  and I only have a month!

Book 3 – The only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling

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I’ve read a couple of autobiographies these past couple of years, not always by people who I admired for one reason or another. Sometimes it was just out of curiosity. I don’t know if other people do that? Maybe they don’t but I kind of enjoy reading autobiographies. For instance I would never consider myself a Nirvana fan – I like the music from time to time but that’s about it – I mean are there any ’90s teenagers who don’t love rocking out on ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’? For me that song defines the early ’90s. Despite not considering myself a fan I was intrigued to read what his life was like and about his self-inflicted untimely death – what drove him to it. And that is how I found out that there was a huge story and underlying medical conditions which attributed to his drug abuse. Reading this made me more aware of the fact that drug abuse is not simply about the ‘high’ but that there could be so much more behind it.

I also read the autobiography ‘Yes, please‘ by Amy Poehler, not because I’m a huge fan, honestly I have hardly seen anything she’s done, apart from some sketches that got world fame where Amy Poehler and Tina Fey portrayed Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. They are hilarious, don’t get me wrong but it’s not like I’m following either one of their careers, but simply because I was intrigued. For some reason I just wanted to read it. But alas we’re getting off track this is supposed to be about Lindsey Stirling’s book.

Ever since ‘The only Pirate at the Party‘ came out I wanted to read it. And now that I have seen Lindsey perform live I wanted to read her book even more. She’s an interesting person in my opinion – one who portrays great strength which we can all learn from. Unfortunately the problem with autobiographies is that usually they are only read by fans, and that is a shame because there is a lot of good and sound advice in these autobiographies both on positive as well as negative topics. You could learn from mistakes they made and avoid them as well as improve knowledge on how to reach your goals for instance.

So what makes Lindsey Stirling an interesting person I hear you ask, especially since she’s ‘just’ a electronic violin player who dances on stage’? Well, she’s a very interesting electronic violin player – one who knows exactly what she wants and goes for it. I admire that in people – I wish that I was more like that. Lindsey is one of those people who are able to go out there and get what they want, despite what other people say or think of them. For me that always seems to be a struggle. I try to learn my lessons from these types of books. She’s not afraid to be herself – and she truly sticks with it. Sure she has her fair share of downfalls and not to mention enough self-doubt to compete with any one of us. But overcoming her fears and the way she’s presents herself as a very uniquely talented person are definitively what make her an interesting person to read about. Oh, did you ever see a random Lindsey Stirling behind the scenes video or Lindsey impersonating her biggest fan Phelba on YouTube? Those videos are hilarious and Lindsey Stirling tells the story of her life with that same kind of humor. Even when she’s talking about serious topics she manages to add a light tone of voice to her text.

I read this book on my tablet which was a great experience, every time there was talk about a certain song, clip or video I was able to look it up on YouTube instantly. The same goes for interviews and performances. If Lindsey Stirling didn’t put them online herself you can be sure that someone else uploaded them. Whether it’s a specific interview from a talk show or her performance at America’s Got Talent, you can find it all. Anyway being able to see the YouTube vids as soon as they are being mentioned in the book makes this a very interactive experience, one that I can truly recommend to anyone.

Besides that Lindsey’s way of telling her life’s story is often told in a very funny tone of voice, it’s as if you can literally hear her tell the stories while you’re reading them. The light tone in which she tells her story makes it an easy read. However that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any serious undertones in what she’s talking about. There definitely is and that makes this book really worth reading. Especially since she doesn’t shy away from the hard times in her life, her constant struggle with staying healthy, the way that she was eliminated from America’s got Talent, her climb to fame and the loss of her best friend.

Stats:

YouTube Lindsey Stirling – Followers 9.329 707 (20 Mei 2007)

For all of music videos, behind the scenes, tour videos, collabs with other artists and many more videos you van find on Lindsey Stirling’s main video.

YouTube LindseyTime – Followers 470.241 (16 September 2012)

Is the channel where Lindsey allows you to get to know her better, you can see her on tour with her tour family, backstage videos and challenges among the crew members.

If Lindsey ever decides to write another book I will surely read it and I won’t wait this long to pick it up. This is a definite must read for every fan, but in my opinion also a very enjoyable read for anyone else who dreams of becoming famous, the next hit on YouTube or someone who just enjoys reading a good autobiography.

Lindsey Stirling might see herself as the only Pirate at the party, but I guess that in our own minds we all feel that way. And that is why you should read this book.

March in hindsight

March_2017

It’s only April 7th and I’m already working on my next ‘hindsight’ post. I’m proud of myself, I’m certainly making progress! 😉 Sometimes you just have to give yourself a slap on your shoulder, ain’t no one else going to do it for you if you don’t do it yourself.

That proud feeling didn’t last long, it’s now April 15th! And I still haven’t finished this post! That’s not good, I might as well start on my April in hindsight post already, enough has happened for a complete blog post and not all of it is good. Anyway, let’s do this.

City trips

I actually made two trips during the month of March, one to Amersfoort and one to Gouda (I still have to write that blog post) the city of cheese! That is probably what most people know the name Gouda from.

Concerts

One of the best experiences this month was when I was finally able to see Lindsey Stirling perform live on stage, of course I’d seen quite some performances on YouTube, she has after all a lot of performances available on her own YouTube channel as well as fans channels. It was a blast to see Lindsey live on stage.

I was really looking forward to Pinkpop, but after seeing the full line-up I was completely done with it. With more than 30 acts in total divided over three days it’s hard to believe that the line-up didn’t really please me. Some of the bands – the ones that I like are bands I’ve seen before – and the rest of the line-up didn’t really help. I’m not a ‘Belieber’ nor am I a huge Martin Garrix fan. So this years Pinkpop is not for me!

However I did score my next concert ticket! Hanson’s twenty fifth anniversary tour is coming to the Netherlands, and it’s in the best venue in the Netherlands – Paradiso Amsterdam.

Reading and writing

My writing has obviously been lacking, since I still have quite some catching up to do. One of the posts is of course the Gouda city trip and I think I still have one or two book reviews to write.

My reading however has been going better, I finished one book – The Warrior’s Path (When women were warriors #1) and started reading Lindsey Stirling’s book – The only Pirate at the Party. A wonderfully and inspiring book telling the story of Lindsey’s very interesting life and gives you an even better insight into this woman’s interesting life.

Gaming

I’ve been wanting to replay the Mass Effect series for a while now, however I never really got around to it. Now I am aware that I don’t need to replay the old series to start the new part since they are completely separate and I also know that we won’t get our precious Shepard to play with but I felt that I needed to replay them especially since all three games are backwards compatible on the Xbox One.

About that though, I started playing the first part and I was extremely annoyed. For some reason the game feels completely unplayable on the One, I’ve tried to make adjustments to the setting but nothing seems to help. When I first played the series I played them on my computer and I absolutely fell in love with the series for many reasons. It is actually the first game series that I played back to back from start to finish. And for that reason alone it will always have a special place in my heart. The other reason why I love this series is because you get to choose your character – male or female – always a huge plus if you ask me. Besides that this game allows you to choose love interest – even if that is a gay relationship. And I love that!

Looking ahead:

  • HANSON!!! Haha, yes the band made famous with their 1997 hit song Mmmbop is back! Well back is a big word, we fans know that they’ve never been gone to begin with they have always been making music, art projects, festivals and even their own beer – Mmmhop! And now they are coming here to perform live in Paradiso with their ‘Middle of Everywhere tour – the 25th anniversary tour’. Thanks for making us feel old guys! For them 2017 is their 25th year as a band, but for most fans 2017 marks the 20th anniversary as a fan. Since most of the world got to know them through Mmmbop.
  • I’m celebrating my 35th birthday in April … yes, thirty five. Ridiculous!
  • Still haven’t made up my mind about a vacation … really need to get my shit together!
  • At this moment I don’t really have any plans for a city trip, who knows what the future brings.