Book 1 – Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy

Reading-Challenge-2018

2018_EngelenmoordI’m trying to clear my backlog, and this book was definitely on that list in fact I first started reading it back in October of 2016! Yes, that was a while back, for some reason – I can’t remember why, but I stopped reading it half way through November. Then I picked it up in January 2017 but after a day I put it away again. I had at that point only read 59 pages. In fact I choose to read ‘The Death Cure’ the third installment in the Maze Runner series over this book.

Which right at this moment I find quite astounding and unexplainable. Because that book really wasn’t what I hoped it would be. It could have been wonderful and interesting. But it was not and instead I allowed this book to stay on my shelve and now that I actually read it I feel bad because it is a good book! And I could have read it years ago as well as a couple of the other follow up books because I have them on my shelve as well, like literally in my living room. Not the digital copies on my tablet but physical copies.

Anyway lets finally get on to this long overdue book review – I’ve been reading this book in Dutch so the tittle of it is Engelenmoord which roughly translated to ‘Murder of an Angel’ (however in English the first part of the Monkeewrench series is called ‘Want to play?’). Which could of course refer to one of the murders in this book where a young girl is killed and is placed on top of a large angel statue in the middle of a cemetery. A very graphic and interesting murder case but that is not the only murder. There is a couple killed in a church, a jogger killed in a forest and another man found murdered at a boat while the entire police force and a private security company was trying to prevent the murder from happening. Each and every murder is very different and on the surface nothing links them together – apart from the .22 bullets which killed the victims – until it becomes obvious that the murders seem to come straight out of a video game. The problem is that the game isn’t out yet and it has only been played by a group of test players. Monkeewrench the company which is developing the game is unwillingly being dragged into a game they don’t want to play.

They all know the game inside and out including all twenty murders which take place in the game which makes them suspect in the eye of the detectives investigating the murders and at the same time the Monkeewrench founders have a huge secret to hide. Because up until ten years ago none of the Monkeewrench founders existed. Not Grace MacBride, not Harley Davidson, not Roadrunner, not Mitch Cross and not even Annie Belinsky existed ten years ago.  The fact that they didn’t exist ten years ago did make them all look suspicious. There are a lot of twists and turns in this story and quite frankly that ending I did not expect that at all!

The book kept me captivated, from the moment I picked it up on January seventh this year and I finished the book on the twenty first. All in all it took me a long time to finish the book but once I finally got into the story I loved it. I should have read this book a long time ago. I immediately picked up the next book in the Monkeewrench series. I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

The fascinating thing is that these books are written by a mom-daughter team, PJ and Traci Lambrecht – under the name PJ Tracy. I don’t know how that works, how do you write a book together? Does one person write one chapter and the other person the next chapter. Or does one person actually write and is there are lot of conversation and brainstorming going back and forth? I really do wonder about that process. It fascinates me.

Fun fact, whenever I read the way they describe Annie Belinsky I see a sort of Penelope Garcia type of woman (one of by me very beloved Criminal Minds characters). It’s the image of the type of woman which always pops into my head.

My plan for this year is to get through that backlog of books to read in my apartment. The thing though is that I don’t like to take books with me when I make a trip, first of all because they are mostly a lot heavier than my tablet and secondly because the books get easily damaged when you have them in your bag especially when they are paperbacks which a lot of my books are. So whenever I’m at home I want to read as many books as I can and when I’m out – during a trip with the train or something similar I want to use my tablet. That way I might finally do something about the so far unread books in my apartment. And who knows once I read them I might finally get around to bringing some of my books to a store which resells them and support Books4Life Eindhoven.

 

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Book 10 – Nevermore by Nell Stark and Trinity Tam

2017_Nevermore

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!

 

 

The end is in sight

2017inhidsight

This whole year I’ve been working on my year in hindsight posts, each month I made one and we’re now at the end of my first year of doing this. I really enjoyed myself with this task that I gave to myself. In my opinion it’s something I’ll be able to look at in a couple of years to see what this year was like. And I have to say that it has been a very fun year. A year with lots of new experiences like my vacation to Sardinia, which happened in June. I never could have expected beforehand that it would bring me this much fun to go on a vacation with twenty two completely different but fun people who I’d never seen before. I’m so glad that I did it though, I wished I would have done it a lot sooner. But then again I probably wouldn’t have met this particular group of people.

But lets take a look back at the rest of the year;

Normally families celebrate Christmas in December but we celebrated it in January, the reason being that my sister and brother in law where literally on the opposite site of the world when Christmas was actually happening. February was quite calm, not really a month where I did a lot or where a lot was going on.

In March I had a chance to see Lindsey Stirling perform live in 013 in Tilburg, a wonderful concert which was even better than I’d expected it to be. Her show – because it truly is a show – is captivating and beautiful and a lot of fun to watch. Even though she ‘only’ plays the violin I can guarantee you that you won’t be bored. Not for a single second. She’s funny, reminiscent and honest, she doesn’t shy away from the things in her life that hurt her.

April was a month of opposites, I celebrated my birthday but I also had to go to the funeral of someone I knew. Both of those events happened literally days apart, it was a strange situation. May was another calm month, not much happened no big events. Though I did book my trip to Sardinia in May.

In July, August and in October we had a reunion with our vacation group and I also met up with two of them in September for the official reunion (which was organized by the travel agency). In July we went surfing, well some of us did. I passed on it, but we did have a very fun afternoon and we also a good meal at the beach club! Those Hamburgers were something else! In August we opted for an afternoon at the bowling alley, followed by a meal and a night of dancing. Six of us stayed at a hostel for the night. In September we had the official reunion from the travel agency which also gave us a chance to do an optional workshop in mountain biking or trail running. Due to my shins splint anything related to trail running is out of the question so I opted for the mountain bike tour. We did about 16 kilometers and it was in a beautiful environment. Yet again a very different environment that we have here in Eindhoven or in the South where I’m originally from. On October first we had another reunion, this time we decided to go for an Prison Escape – which is an different escape room in every cell which amounted to a total of twenty four rooms. Another really fun never before done experience which I can recommend to anyone.

November is traditionally the month of Nanowrimo, do I need to say more? If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while you know that without me repeating this here. This year I didn’t make it but what I did write was more than I possibly could have imagine to begin with, so I’m really happy about this years Nano.

And now it’s December, the last month of the year and a month filled with celebrations, one after another. We first had Sinterklaas on December fifth and of course that was followed by Christmas Eve and in our case the first and the second day of Christmas. And lets not forget about New Years Eve. This year I will most likely celebrate it with some of my friends, we’ll be playing Cards Against Humanity! We’ll see how that goes, it sounds like it will be a lot of fun.

Here are some numbers that define my year

Here are some stats which I’ve received in these past couple of weeks from different websites.

According to Spotify I listened to it for 5679 minutes, which seems a bit low if you ask me. That is only 94 hours give or take and that translates to 3,9 days. Yet I listened to 785 different songs by 164 artists.

I also spend 404 hours on my XBox, that time was mostly spend on the Destiny and Mass Effect franchise but also Tombraider and The Division have been played a lot this past year.

Goodreads informed me that I read ten books this past year, which was my goal. Though I have to admit that I almost didn’t make it. Because I only started to read the last book on December 29th. That was about 3000 pages. This past year I’ve read a book with the most twisted character ever – Gone Girl. I read a book which got me thinking about the way we handle our privacy on the internet – The Circle. That was my least favorite book this past year. Yes, it got me thinking but it certainly wasn’t the best book I read.

This year I wrote 52 blog posts, lets see if I can beat that number next year. I certainly have some ideas of how I can achieve that. But first lets party!!!

2018

 

The Post-Nano blues

Nanowrimo-2017

I originally started writing this post this past week but somehow it got deleted – lost, whatever somehow it didn’t get saved. So I’m rewriting it.

I certainly don’t have the post-nano blues. In fact I wanted to write but time just simply slipped away from me the first week of December. Work was busy and my personal life was jam-packed with all different appointments as well.

On Thursday (the official last day of Nano) and on this past Monday I worked overtime at work. We had a really big assignment, one that yearly returns and is for a huge charity event. So on Thursday I arrived at work around 7.30 in the morning and I was back home at 11 in the evening and on Monday I was home around 10 in the evening.  So there was no time to writ on those days.

On Saturday we had our yearly TGIO (Thank God It’s Over) party, we always have it on the first or second Saturday of December to celebrate that we made it through another November filled with writing. Despite the fact that I didn’t make it, I am content with what I did during November. In fact I’m super happy with it! So how could I not go to the TGIO. We talked, had fun and shared a perfect meal – I love that Florin Burger!

Sunday was the day I had planned for purchasing presents and making my surprise gift for our yearly Sinterklaas Surprise (which is kind of like Secret Santa). On Tuesday we actually celebrated Sinterklaas. It was such a fun thing! I got a great gift, the first part of The Mockingjay on a blue ray disk and a powerbank! And the packaging was simply amazing! My best friend’s son had me, so with help from his dad they made a complete stage out of cardboard boxes and they put Beth Hart and her complete band on the stage! So cool! It’s the best Surprise I ever got.

Surprise

The present was hidden underneath the stage. It’s really a beautiful present to receive and so perfectly catered to me! I love it!

Anyway the rest of the week was busy, busy, busy and the weekend I spend at my parents place. I hadn’t been there in a long time, and I also visited my grandmother. She’s such a sweet lady, I called her up in the morning and I went by we had a meal together.  It had been a long time since my grandmother and I had a meal together at her place. I should really do that more often.

And now it’s Friday again! How the hell did that happen? One more week until the Christmas break, wow the year is almost over! It’s almost unbelievable how fast the year flew by. And it is even more incredible how fast these past couple of weeks have flown by since November ended and not much writing has happened. Hopefully I can change that this weekend, but seeing how much I still have to do before Christmas I’m not sure if that will happen. We’ll see!

 

Glow

Glow

Here it is my review of this years edition of Glow 2017!

Glow started this past Saturday and it ends next Saturday with the Glow run – because nowadays every event needs their own run. This edition they set out a route which is about six kilometers long and it leads mostly through the center of Eindhoven. When it comes to the length of the route it is comparable to the previous years but it feels like everything is much closer together and more concentrated in the city center. Which in my opinion makes it an easier walk.

If you are around the Eindhoven area and want to have a fun night out go to Glow, I can highly recommend it. It’s a lot of fun, the weather at the moment is quite okay – it’s not too cold and currently it’s dry which is very important if you’re walking around especially in the evening. Although I do recommend wearing something like a thermal clothing – I sure was happy that I was wearing my thermal mountain bike shirt underneath my softshell jacket.

Part of the route is very close to my home so it literally only took me a minute maybe two to reach the route. I started walking the route around 6:30 and I was back home at 8:30, so it took me just under two hours – I think that most people need three hours to walk the route especially if it is the first time you see something like this you tend to take longer. And most people go for a drink or something to eat at one of the food courts. There is hot chocolate milk and gluwein! The Gluwein is really good!

What astonished me was the fact that they literally started the route with the biggest exposition of this whole edition. I personally think that is not a smart move, it literally is the biggest and most impressive part of the route. It would have been better if it had been more towards the end of the route. Of course you can start the route wherever you like but most people start at the railway station. It is after all the most central part of the route an obvious start point for people who come from outside of the city since all the public transportation arrives there as well. After the Blob we passed a couple of buildings – buildings which are pretty much what Eindhoven represents – the old Philips Factory buildings and neither one of those were used.

Again a strange choice but maybe they choose to not use them this year because they have been used often in the past. The soccer stadium only had an indoor show, which you have to pay for – I didn’t see the show, so I can’t say anything about that however what I can say is that they did nothing to outside of the building. It just looked the same way it does every other day of the year. They lit up the mosque, it was another projection on the inside as well as the outside of the building. It looked good yet at the same time a little bit predictable. The design on the outside of Hooghuis looked very similar to what they had made a couple of years ago. Though it looked pretty cool, it was a simple design where they made good use of the exterior of the building. We went straight back into city center towards the church – there was a huge projection covering the whole front of the church, it was really bright colored and beautiful.

Almost at the end of the route was an area on de Dommel (a small river that runs through Eindhoven) where kids from different schools had created small floating buildings painted with neon paint and lit by black-light that lit up the river. It looked really cute – they always have a project made by the children of Eindhoven.

The thing that I probably liked the most was a really small project which looked so cool. It was literally a piece of plywood with pepper foam and a light. That was it. Sometimes things can be really simple and give a beautiful effect. If the light was placed in the correct position you could see the shadow of a face appear on the plywood created by the shade of multiple different pepper foam bars. It looked really good, very special. That really was my favorite installation – simple yet beautiful.

If you have the chance to see Glow, do it! Really it is worth it, the atmosphere is great the small food courts along the route However if you’ve seen it before, especially multiple times the magic kind of fades. When Glow first stated I always loved to take my time to look at all the installations. But when you’ve seen eight of nine Glow’s you kind of seen a lot of things already in a In fact nowadays it’s usually the smaller things that make the bigger impression.

 

 

Glow

Glow

The City of Light

I live in Eindhoven, the fifth city of the Netherlands also known as ‘de Lichtstad’ (Lightcity / City of Light). The reason it’s called de Lichtstad is because Philips was founded here in Eindhoven on May 15th 1891. Nowadays we all know Philips from their consumer and medical appliances, yet in the beginning stages of the company it was mostly known as a light bulb factory. But soon they started to expand their company and they also ventured into research. However for the longest time they kept making light bulbs. There are still old factory buildings all around the city, nowadays they are used for a lot of different reasons none has anything to do with producing light bulbs anymore. In fact the Library in Eindhoven where we spend our Fridays during Nanowrimo is one of those buildings – known as De Witte Dame (The White Lady – it is a big white building).

The Light Tour

So Eindhoven is known as the city of light and the city is proud of that fact. Often when they organize something in the city there is an element of light in it somehow. Years ago they started with the Light Tour – and that is a direct reference to WWII liberation by the Allies. Apparently at the time the people of Eindhoven welcomed the Allies with lights behind their windows. And now every year on the 18th of September the Light Tour starts. I doubt that many people know the origin of the light tour but it’s a fun thing to do during the dark months of the year. And In 2006 they added another event to light up the dark times.

Glow

Glow was first held 2006, so this is the eleventh edition of the Glow Festival. Every year designers from all over the world come to Eindhoven to show their ‘light-related’ installations. I’ve been walking the route since the beginning when it started it was really small but now each year the installations get bigger and more impressive and the number of people who come to visit Glow gets bigger as well. I’m looking forward to seeing the show but I’m definitely waiting a couple of days because this weekend is the opening weekend and it is going to be extremely busy and I am so not looking forward to that. I mean, every day is going to be busy of course but today and tomorrow will be crazy busy!

Take a look at these pictures of some of the installations from these past couple of years. And if you happen to be around come take a look. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! I will write an extended review when I’ve walked this years Glow Tour.

300 times Grey’s Anatomy

GreysAnatomy-300

This morning I was reading this article about the 300th episode of Grey’s Anatomy that is airing this week.

It’s Nanowrimo and you might be confused and thinking that this is a very random post, it literally has nothing to do with writing. However I think you’re wrong and I will prove it to you!

If the 300th episode of Grey’s Anatomy is airing this week I can guarantee you that I’ve seen 299 episodes so far. And I have loved that show from the very first episode. One of the main reasons why I love this show is the amazing writing. The show is called Grey’s Anatomy – named after the ‘main character’ Meredith Grey. But in my opinion naming her the main character is ridiculous. The show might have been extremely focused on Meredith in the first season but soon they started to show other characters as well.

Before Grey’s there was ER the biggest medical drama ever (with 15 seasons, GA is currently on it’s 14th season) and while they had a huge cast as well the main focus was the hospital and the way it all worked and you only got glimpses into the lives of the doctors and nurses. However in the case of Grey’s they choose to focus more on the characters. And I loved that, they gave it just that little bit extra that I had always missed on ER. With ER I always wanted to know more about the people behind the doctors. So from that first moment on I was hooked. Even though that was the part that I loved I also have to admit that Meredith is far from my favorite character. In fact I think she has been my least favorite character for a long, long time. But I liked the interaction between the group of year one interns. The show kept growing and expanding on characters and while there might be times were certain characters are mostly in the background there will also be a time where they can shine. And I really like that, the different characters and their story-lines bring something new to the show. The power of this show is that they keep renewing themselves and that they aren’t afraid to shy away from certain topics. The characters they create are well rounded, yet flawed and human and that is what I love.

The biggest thing I love about Grey’s is the writing and the person to applaud for that is Shonda Rhimes. I think she’s an outstanding writer who’s created some of the best moments on television. That is of course my opinion but for me the main reason why I love this show. I’m often blown away by the writing of the episodes (the same goes for the other shows Shondaland produces) and the feeling they are able to express through simple dialog. Because often these particular scenes are very simple in the buildup and staging yet strong in the dialog.

Favorite onscreen couple

I was reading the article and they asked cast members and writers what their favorite onscreen couple of all time is. I personally was really surprised by the fact that no one, not a single person spoke about Callie and Arizona. I know it ended badly but they had some amazing scenes together and I will forever be a ‘Calzona’ shipper. Even though I know that both of them have moved on from their marriage to one another there will always be a little bit of hope in my heart that roots for them. I still believe that they are endgame.

No one mentioned them and I think that it was a very defining relationship on the television at the time that it happened. From the first second Callie was added to the show I fell in love with her. I loved that woman she was so different than the other women on the show. I remember thinking the first second I laid eyes on her; ‘Wow! I hope she’s gay!’. Which is ridiculous, I know. Especially when she fell in love with George. But in the end I was right and she was at least bisexual, so I identified with her because she gave being bisexual an identity. And I really hope that in the future more shows will do that. Because we’re all people and loving someone shouldn’t define who we are it’s after all only a small part of our lives.

I could never quote a bible to anyone but that is simply beating them at their own game. And the perfect example of what I meant by a simple scene – the setting is very basic a room which doesn’t say anything but the dialog does. And to this day I still get goosebumps when I watch this scene. It’s so powerful!

The scene was followed by one where Arizona goes to Callie’s dad to talk to him and the same thing happens. They are just standing next to one another and she simply talks and he listens.

Callie’s father; We’re not gonna do that.
Arizona; Most people think I was named for the state, but it’s not true. I was named for a battleship, the USS Arizona. My grandfather was serving on the Arizona when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and he saved 19 men before he drowned. Everything my father did his whole life was about honoring that sacrifice.
I was raised to be a good man in a storm.
Raised to love my country, love my family and protect the things I love.
When my father, Colonel Daniel Robbins of the United States Marine Corps, heard that I was a lesbian, he said he only had one question.
I was prepared for, “How fast can you get the hell out of my house?” But instead it was, “Are you still who I raised you to be?” My father believes in country the way that you believe in God. And my father’s not a man who bends, but he bent for me because I’m his daughter. I’m a good man in a storm.
I love your daughter and I protect the things I love.
Not that I need to, she doesn’t need it.
She’s strong and caring and honorable and she’s who you raised her to be.

Grey’s Anatomy – Season 6 episode 5 – Invasion

I hope to one day be able to write powerful scenes like Shonda Rhimes does for Grey’s Anatomy, to put that much feeling into a couple of simple looking sentences. For now I’m looking forward to that 300th episode and I hope that there will be many more in the future.

TGIT! Thank God it’s Thursday! And in a couple of hours we get to see the 300th episode!