Book 10 – Nevermore by Nell Stark and Trinity Tam

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This is the second book in the Everafter series, so far there are four books. I don’t have the other books yet, but given how much I like these first two books I’m sure that the others will follow soon as well. I read this book literally on the last day of the year which is why I didn’t have the time to write a proper review before the year ended.

If you plan on reading these books do not continue reading, this contains spoilers!

Alexa has made the biggest sacrifice she can to make sure that Val can continue to be herself. The parasite that is changing Val into a bloodthirsty vampire in time will also change her soul unless she keeps her sanity by only taking blood from one donor – Alexa. In order to be able to give Val all the blood she needs, she’s made the decision to become a wereshifter. Wereshifters are able to regenerate their health if they shift and therefor they are also able to endure more trauma. On the other hand pain makes them shift, which imposes a danger to Val. Alexa needs to control her impulses and to do so she has to make a decision which keeps them apart for a while.

This is such an easy book to read, the story has a really good flow to it. Which makes it easy to read. The story has a couple of nice twists and turns especially that one at the very end was a huge surprise. Makes me wonder where that is going in the following books. There are at this point two more books in the series – there is Nightrise and Sunfall. I hope to be able to read them soon, at the moment I don’t own the books. I better go and make sure that I fix that!

 

 

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Book 9 – Everafter by Nell Stark & Trinity Tam

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The reason why I picked up this book was simple. I wanted to read a love story – preferably between two women. There aren’t enough stories involving lesbian or bisexual love stories if you ask me. This book is one of the first I came across. Looking at it now I can’t imagine how I didn’t see the mention of ‘a paranormal romance’. Somehow I didn’t though and I was surprised by the paranormal side of the story.

A very nice surprise if you ask me. It certainly made for a very good story, I really enjoyed reading this. Reason why I probably didn’t make the connection is because I never really use the word paranormal, I’d rather use supernatural or call it what it is – a story about vampires and were’s. But not the kind of sparkly vampires we’ve seen in that other book series which shall not be named.  This is a story about becoming a vampire and about a lover who wants to do everything in her power to keep your soul save.

Valentine Darrow is ready to spend the rest of her life with her lover – Alexa Newland, little does she know that the rest of her life is going to be a lot longer than she ever could have imagined when she becomes the victim of a brutal attack. At first it seems to be a simple mugging but soon Valentine starts to experience an extreme thirst which can’t be stilled. Her own medical knowledge as a med student can’t explain the thirst. However with the help of a doctor she finally gets some answers. She’s slowly becoming a vampire.

Immediately after I finished reading this book I started on the second book, Nevermore. Which I hope to finish later today so I can add it to my 2017 Reading List. Which would mean that I have finished my challenge of reading ten books during this past year.

November in hindsight

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All throughout this month I’ve been thinking about my ‘November in hindsight’ post and I decided that I wanted to post this on my blog on November 30th. To literally finish the month off in the only right way, especially since I’ve been posting these hindsight post quite late these last couple of months. So half way through the month I started to write the first couple of things for this particular post. So that I would be able to just add some last minute changes to in on the 30th before publishing it.

Nanowrimo

My November has been all about Nanowrimo and it was a good month. We’re now literally at the end of the month and I can tell you that I have a accumulated a grand total of 33 516 words. A word count which I’m really happy about. This is way, way better than I expected to do and I’ve written way more creative stories than I ever could have imagined. And even though I haven’t reached the 50 000 words which were our goal for Nanowrimo I am content with what I did. It was hard – I’m not going to lie about it – I struggled but in the end I was able to get to a really nice word count. A word count which is much higher than I expected to reach, so nothing to be ashamed about. Maybe I’ll reach the 50 000 words next year. We’ll see.

Our Epic Blue Unicorn group had four meetings at the Library on Friday afternoon, around five we would gather and sit at ‘our table’. The only thing missing is the fact that they don’t put up one of those plates with reserved on the table for us. But other than that we can easily call it our table. Next to our Library meetings we also had one Ikea meeting. We had so much fun, we’ve invited some new people to our group and I sure hope some of them will stick around for the future. This was the fifth year our group was active and during those five years I’ve made some wonderful friends who are really dear to me.

Reunion

I was supposed to go to Groningen for another meeting with some of my vacation friends but that didn’t happen. For several different reasons we had to decide to move the weekend to February or March of next year. Because December and January are just going to be too busy to make it work. Hopefully I can tell you all about my city trip to Groningen in the first couple of months in the beginning of 2018. I’m looking forward to it.

Efteling

Since Groningen wasn’t going to happen I was free to make some last minute new plans for the last weekend of the month. My parents were going to the Efteling – it was a day out to the park provided by my dads work – and my mom asked me if I wanted to join them. The Efteling is a beautiful theme park in the Netherlands, and during the winter months they turn the park into a winter wonderland of sorts. It always has a special atmosphere which is vastly different if you go there in the summertime.

If you ever have a chance to go to the Efteling you should really do so it is a really beautiful theme park, whether you go there in the summer or in the winter. The theme park is different from any other theme park I’ve been too. They have their very own style which appeals to young and old people alike. Most people in the Netherlands have been there at least once and the park has been voted best theme park many times over. This year the park has even been voted the most beautiful theme park in the world by the Americans. And the park has been scoring well on all types of theme parks lists. It’s an original park by which I mean that it is not based on Disney for example so it has a very unique style.

I’ve been to the park so many times and I still love it each and every time. From an early age on I’ve been going there, with my parents, with our school on a school trip and nowadays I often go there with a group of friends. It is always fun to see that people from a young age all the way up until the elderly enjoy themselves.

Reading and writing

Since November is all about Nanowrimo you have already been able to read all about my word count and writing for the month in the beginning of this post and in all the other posts I made about Nanowrimo. So it would be a little redundant if I repeated it all again. So for now this is all going to be about my reading.

I’ve finished up my latest book in the last couple of days of this month, it was The Circle. A book which really got me thinking about all the things we’re giving up when we aren’t careful with our privacy. I learned one thing, I don’t ever want to give my privacy up. Not because I have a lot to hide yet simply because we should be able to keep some things to ourselves if we want to. And everything – every single detail certainly isn’t a good thing.

Music and television

I decided to write some posts I haven’t previously added to my blog, the first one was about the 300th episode of Grey’s Anatomy. One of my favorite shows of all time. Another post I wrote about a television show was the one about the Once Upon A Time season six finale.

I also managed to wrote two cd reviews from albums I’ve been listening to these last couple of weeks. The first one was about The Corrs’ new studio album, named Jupiter Calling. I’ve loved the Corrs for at least the last twenty years and I was really surprised when this album came out. The second one was about Pink. A singer / songwriter who I really admire. She has been at the top for so many years and each and every time she comes up with a new song or a new album which tops the charts. Beautiful Trauma is a great new album – with a wide variety of songs.

Looking ahead:

  • December is right around the corner, everyone in the world knows what that means, the holidays are coming!
  • December also means lots of extra time at work! The busy December month, probably goes for a lot of people at work.
  • We in the Netherlands have Sinterklaas, which we celebrate on December 5th. We do a Secret Santa type of thing which is always a lot of fun!
  • Of course there is the TGIO party (Thank God It’s Over) and that refers to the party to celebrate that we’ve survived another November full of writing. I’m going to Utrecht to meet up with my fellow Dutch Nano’s.
  • Christmas! Who doesn’t love Christmas? I know I do, it means I’ll get some
  • New Years Eve still sounds so far away but it is right around the corner! And this year I hope to celebrate it in a different way than I did previously.

Book 8 – The Circle by Dave Eggers

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I read this book in Dutch and I still can’t get over how strange it is to read books in Dutch. Now you must know that I have been reading books in English since I was about thirteen years old. For the longest time I haven’t read any books in Dutch, but lately I sometimes choose to read a book in my mother tongue. But it’s specific books, I refuse to read a book like ‘The Hunger Games’ in Dutch because the translation of young adult books and children’s books often aren’t that good in my opinion. With a book like ‘The Circle’ that is less of a problem.

A while back when ‘The Circle’ came out in the movie theaters with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson I was intrigued. It is one of those story lines which if you start to think about it won’t let you go. The implications made in the movie trailer were enough for me to get me thinking and I wanted to know more. I guess I was always a little naive when it comes to my online privacy. No, scratch that, that is not true, naive is probably not the right word because that sounds really negative and kind of dumb. What I mean is that whenever they say in the news that our email is being checked and that our phone calls, text messages or our online searches are being checked that never really bothered me. I mean, have fun with my online searches! I guess my searches are quite peculiar and maybe – no I’m sure they are questionable for someone who doesn’t know me. But I am a writer so that isn’t really a surprise. My mail and my text messages are not all that interesting, I’m pretty sure other people have way more interesting mail than I have. That is why it never really bothered me.

Privacy is extremely important and it seems that our privacy is being more invaded literally everyday. And when you read this book it gets you thinking about where you stand and what you want to keep private. And what is important to you.

On one hand what happens in The Circle seems far fetched, but let’s be honest here. Companies like Google, Apple and Facebook have a pretty big share of the market and I guess that The Circle is a fictive combination of all of those companies. And they are trying to become even bigger – worldwide and every person. What they want is to take over every single transaction and interaction on the internet, every way of communication and they want everyone to be transparent.

Mae Holland is young and ambitious and with the help of her best friend she gets a job at The Circle, the worlds most advanced and powerful internet company. A job which everyone wants. Being part of The Circle means that you are with the in-crowd and that you belong to the people who are at the forefront of new discoveries and technologies.
Mae starts at the absolute bottom of the company but soon she’s is getting more and more sucked into a world where everything is measured and where the only numbers that count are the ratings you receive and how high you rank among your peers. She gets isolated from her normal life, she’s starting to disconnect from her family and only engages in events run by The Circle.

It becomes and even more worrisome situation when she becomes the first ‘Circler’ to go transparent – previously a couple of politicians became transparent. Which means that she’s constantly wearing a camera around her neck. And everything in her life is being filmed, every conversation, every situation, literally everything. The only time she’s allowed to mute the sound is when she’s in the bathroom or take it off when she’s in bed. So literally no conversation is genuine anymore, everyone knows that they are being filmed whenever they are in her proximity. However The Circle tries to make it look like they want the world to become a better place by throwing everything out in the open. They want to use the camera’s as a way to eradicate crime and dishonesty by politicians. They believe that this is the way to make the world a better place, but is it really?

Mae is naive, she allows all of it to happen without really questioning the implications of her actions. And that doesn’t feel real. The Circle has added her parents to their insurance because Mae’s father needs medical attention. Very expensive medical attention which their regular insurance didn’t cover. And I guess that is why in the beginning Mae goes along with everything they ‘suggest’. She’s probably afraid that her father’s medical help will be in danger or even be stopped completely if she doesn’t go along with The Circle’s plans. And if that happens, his health will deteriorate. But there is hardly any suggestion in the book that she feels that way. Even when Mae’s parents break contact with her because of all the camera’s she just leaves them and when she doesn’t hear from them she doesn’t even try to contact her parents. This continues on and around Mae more and more lives get destroyed and still there is hardly a reaction. There is no conflict in Mae, the only thing she seems to worry about is a guy, a very cliche mysterious guy who seems to appear and disappear when ever it is convenient.

The book is good, it definitely gets you thinking at the same time though it is the type of book which is really easy to read. Sometimes a little bit too easy in my opinion. There is no real challenge in reading the book. However I do think that it makes the book better readable for a bigger audience. And in this case I think it’s good that it is so easy to read because more people might pick the book up and read it. And in the end it could get them thinking about their own internet safety. And I think that is the real reason why this book was written.

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October in Hindsight

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The Reunion 2.0

Oktober 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!

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

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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!