February Wrap Up | What I Read, Watched and Listened to (2018)

Can I be honest and say I’m glad February is over? I know it’s not a very long month, but it sure was a punch in the face…

what i read 80c8b0

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur // ★★.5 // I listened to the audio book of Milk and Honey at the start of the month. I had wanted to read it for ages, but I’m not very familiar with reading poetry. So I figured listening to Rupi Kaur read her own poems was the perfect way to go. And I would recommend the audiobook. I was just sort of indifferent about the poetry itself. I guess it just wasn’t for me. I know that her poems will resonate with a lot of other people, which is why I didn’t want to give it a lower rating. It just didn’t with me. 

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli // Re-read // ★★★★★ // A re-read! I first read this book in 2015 and absolutely loved it. It’s been a few years now, and the movie adaptation is almost here. I wanted to re-read this before watching the movie in June, and reading the new companion novel Leah on the Offbeat this year. I’m so glad I did, because I’d forgotten so much already! Still loved it though. 

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie // ★★★★ // I saw a copy of this at the library, so decided to take it with me. As you can see from the cover, I read the Dutch translation. I think this is a great little book, and wonderful as a (starter) guide to feminism. Do I think that there are many things left out? Yes. I would like to read more about trans women, LGBT+ women and toxic masculinity too. But this is a great place to start already; to listen to women’s experiences outside of Western Europe/North-America.

That’s all I read… I know, I didn’t read much in February. Dear Ijeawele is such a short book, and so is Milk and Honey. Like I said, February was a kick in the face at times and I just didn’t have the energy to read.

what i watched 80c8b0

Raw (2016) // Original title: Grave // ★★★★ // First, I’d like to thank Inge for getting me through this movie. This movie is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s a French-Belgian film called Grave (the french word, not the English one…) about a girl who goes to vet school. She’s been a vegetarian her entire life, until she’s forced to eat raw rabbit liver (or something like that) during initiation. Shit spirals out of control afterwards. DO NOT watch this movie while eating. SERIOUSLY, DON’T. 

Lucifer // I watched the first 8 episodes of Lucifer season 3 this month! I’m slowly catching up. Emphasis on slowly.

Dark // I watched the first episode of the German Netflix show called Dark. It was creepy and weird, and I’m definitely going to continue the series. 

Altered Carbon // I also watched the first episode of Altered Carbon. To be completely honest, I forgot I even watched this before writing this post. Yet I still enjoyed it, and would continue watching? I think it’s too soon to say whether I’m into it. It’s one of those shows that will take me a while to get into. 

what i listened to 80c8b0

SEVENTEEN – Thanks

This song… SEVENTEEN has become one of my favorite K-pop groups now. Maybe even my ultimate favorite? I’m just in awe of them. They’re all so talented: producing their own music, raps, choreography, etc… They get visibly better and better with every comeback, and this is no exception. I would also really recommend watching the choreography version of this. Their choreo is insane. 

The Rose – Sorry

I discovered The Rose through DAY6 (who were in last month’s wrap up), and then noticed they were holding a concert in Belgium in February! I was so excited. I think they were the first K-pop group to really hold a concert in Belgium? At least, to my knowledge. So I went to see them live, and it was absolutely fantastic. They are so talented, and were so happy to see the crowd of fans! It was adorable.

Stray Kids – Hellevator

I’ve been listening to this song for about a week, I think. I really like its flow, and it always manages to put me in a productive mood. I believe they wrote this song about their life as trainees, which makes me really sad for all the idols and the terrible and hard times they must have gone through.

Pentatonix – Havana

If there’s a new PTX song, you just know it’s going to be on my list. I LOVE THIS. I don’t like Mich’s mustache, but okay. Their songs are always on point. A warm welcome to Matt, the new PTX member!

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February Wrap Up | What I Read, Watched and Listened to (2018)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Could Re-Read Forever

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. Today, we’re talking about books we could re-read forever. This is basically going to be a collection of my favorites, so let’s get started.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling // Yes, this is obviously on my list. Despite what Rowling is saying on Twitter and the fact that I’m sick and tired of her wanting credit for diverse characters she never wrote, I still love this series. It is my childhood, and it has shaped a part of me to this day. 

Written in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop // I only discovered this series 5 years ago or so, but I’ve read it multiple times since. Especially the first book! I just love it so much. 

Eragon (Inheritance Cycle #1) by Christopher Paolini // Another childhood fave. This one is a nostalgic read for me! While I do see the flaws within the first book (especially the writing since he was still a teenager) the last 2 books always manage to blow me away. Something I particularly love here is the depiction of religion and vegetarianism.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt // I haven’t re-read this yet! I read it for the first time in 2016, I believe, and it absolutely blew my mind. I’ve been dying to re-read it since but it just seems like a bit of a commitment at the moment.

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo // Another one I haven’t actually re-read yet, but definitely plan on doing in the future! I have so much love for these characters.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah // This is one of my all-time favorite books. Once again, I haven’t re-read it yet… I definitely will though. I just made my mom buy a Dutch copy of this book when we saw it on sale because I just need everyone to read this book.

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch // This is a series I will re-read before the next book will be released. I have no idea when that will be, because Lynch is currently focusing on his mental health (as he should!!). I feel like I will gain so much more from this book upon re-reading it though, as the plot is so intricate. 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller // Listen. I have read this book twice. I have cried twice. I will re-read this book for the rest of my life, and cry every single time. 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli // This one I will re-read forever, because Molly just resonates with me. I recognize so much of myself in her! 

Quiet by Susan Cain // This book means so much to me. It started my journey of self-love, and accepting who I am. An introvert. That sounds so easy to most of you. To me, it wasn’t -and especially not in university.


Those are 10 of the books I will probably be re-reading for the rest of my life. Have you read any of these? Which books are on your list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Could Re-Read Forever

A Very Late Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m No Longer Interested in Reading

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. Today, we’re talking about books we’re no longer interested in reading. 

I’ve been reading for a long time. I’ve been blogging for over 3 years now, and have been active in the bookish community far longer than that. So there are plenty of books I was once interested in reading, but simply don’t care about anymore. I have definitely changed over those past few years, and so have my reading tastes. This is  not an attack on the authors! 

 

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater // I know, a Maggie Stiefvater book on this list? Insane. I love her Raven Cycle, and this is certainly not an attack on her. I just don’t really have an interest in this book? 

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas // I am giving up on this series -and most likely this author. I haven’t read one of her books since Queen of Shadows (in 2015?) and have just lost all interest at this point.

By Your Side by Kasie West // I was really excited at first, because a romance about two people locked in a library for a weekend? Sounds absolutely epic. But then I saw all these reviews about how not even half of this book actually takes place in the library? Well, it lost all its appeal there.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jennie Han // I adored the first book, To all the boys I’ve loved before, so much. And I couldn’t deal with the ending. But I tried to read this book and just couldn’t get into it. At this point I’m going to make up a happy ending in my mind and go with that. 

After You by Jojo Moyes // I absolutely loved Me Before You when I first read it a few years ago. Now, I’m much more aware of how troubling the disability representation in that novel is. I don’t like the message it spreads, even though I didn’t comprehend that when reading it the first time. Aside from feeling uncomfortable with the story due to this problematic part of it, I’m also not very interested in seeing what happens next? I’d much rather believe Lou went on to do great things that inspire her every day. 

 

Easy by Tammara Webber // When I first started watching BookTube videos, this was always recommended as the best new adult book. It’s been absolute years since, and I still haven’t read it. I don’t much feel like ever reading it either. 

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard // To be honest, this sounds like every other YA dystopian/fantasy book. Maybe it isn’t, and I’m being to harsh. But I just don’t care to find out either way.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart // I waited too long with this one. Again, I saw this being hyped up on BookTube when it was first released. And even after all these years, I’ve managed to avoid spoilers. But I just don’t find myself interested enough in this book and the mystery in it to actually pick it up? 

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card // I watched the movie adaptation. I have no idea how accurate the movie adaptation was with regards to the book, but I can’t be bothered to find out. I really liked the movie, so it’s not like I hate the story. Yet the big twist has already been revealed, right? 

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert // Am I the only one who has zero interest in reading this book? It sounds like some posh version of ‘I found myself by traveling the world’. Not that you can’t go out and do that! I just don’t want to read a book about it. Something about the title really rubs me the wrong way too. I’ve also never seen the movie, and I don’t want to. 

That was my very late Top Ten Tuesday post! Have you read any of these books? Do you disagree with my choices? Let me know!

A Very Late Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m No Longer Interested in Reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Slow-Burn Romances

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. Today, I chose to talk about some of my favorite slow-burn romances. Slow burn relationships are some of my absolute favorite ones, because it makes the relationship more adorable to me. Sort of like a best friends to lovers, you know? Yes, please.

Simon & Meg // The Others by Anne Bishop // These are the first two that come to mind when I thought of this topic. In a way, they may have inspired it actually. I just adore these two so much. How considerate they are of each other, how careful with boundaries, how adorable… I only wish they knew how to communicate a tad better -and faster. 

Percy & Monty // The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee // LOVE these two. I know that this is only one book, but I still think it fits the topic because they have been best friends for years. We may not have been present for their entire journey of the relationship but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t present. 

Achilles & Patroclus // The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller // Childhood friends to lovers. I mention this book so often, I really don’t think I have anything else to say.

Magnus & Alex // Magnus Chase by Rick Riordan // A recent addition! I love these two, they’re absolutely adorable. Magnus always gets so shy around Alex. They’re also quite considerate of the other and not afraid to speak up. Adore them.

Sorcha & Hugh // Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier // I don’t talk about this book often, but everyone should read it. These two are just… wonderful. Sorcha is going through so much, all while being unable to speak. Hugh gives her time and space to heal, while growing to care for the little, silent woman full of determination. 

Simon & Baz // Carry On by Rainbow Rowell // I need to re-read this book. I just bought my own physical copy which means it’s time. I fell in love with these two when I first read this book. Enemies to lovers? Yes. I usually hate the word ‘lover’ but somehow it seems fitting when talking about romance tropes. 

Blue & Gansey // The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater // I live for Gansey and Blue. There’s so much angst and longing with these two. Usually, I’m not a fan of angst because it mostly comes from miscommunication but that’s not the case here. Apparently, I can actually love angst!

Gwen & Royce // The Riyria Chronicles by Michael J. Sullivan // Honestly, I adore Royce and Gwen. I adore how they truly know each other, both the good and terrible. The love and acceptance between them is so wonderful. I love how Gwen is basically a goddess in Royce’s eyes, and how Gwen is the kindest and most patient person who is always ready to help people others look down on. 

Arya & Eragon // The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini // I’m still kind of upset about this one. If you’ve read the books, talk to me! I want to talk about these two!

Oree & Shiny // The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance #2) by N.K. Jemisin // While these two wouldn’t necessarily feature on my favorite romances ever list, I do love them together. And I love the fact that Oree nicknamed him Shiny. 


That’s it: 10 of my favorite slow-burn romances. Do you like slow romances? Which ones are your favorite?

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Slow-Burn Romances

Review: Golden Son | Spoiler-Free

golden sonGolden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown
Published: January 8th 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton

Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 5/5 stars
Goodreads

I won’t provide a synopsis, as this is the second book in the series. If you want to have a look at what this series is about, you can check out:

Red Rising on Goodreads
My review of Red Rising

My review will be spoiler free, even if you haven’t read the first book.

break

I put off reading this book for almost a year, a decision I’ve come to regret. I actually read Red Rising in March of 2017, and absolutely loved it. I didn’t own the sequel then, so I decided to wait a bit before continuing the series. Last summer, I found copies of Golden Son and Morning Star in a book deal, making them about £3.5 each. I couldn’t resist getting them! Yet somehow, it still took me 6 months to finally pick it up. I should’ve done it sooner, because this blew my mind.

Let’s talk about what I liked first, shall we?

I mentioned in my review of the first one that this series manages to truly convey a rebellion to me. I’ve read a lot of dystopian books about rebellions, but this series actually makes me feel like I’m at the heart of the rebellion. It’s quite fast-paced, and so many things are happening. Schemes, enemies and allies, betrayal, friendship, losing hope… It’s all in here. There was really never a dull moment here. I personally love to read about both battle and fight scenes, and the more political side of ruling the world. This book definitely has both! 

For seven hundred years, my people have been enslaved without voice, without hope. Now I am their sword. And I do not forgive. I do not forget. So let him lead me onto his shuttle. Let him think he owns me. Let him welcome me into his house, so I might burn it down. 

So many plans go wrong, and there isn’t one magical way to fix the world. It’s more of a grey area. The rebellion will cost so many lives. But is it not worth it, to free the billions of people who are oppressed?

I can’t really say much about characters or plot, because I truly don’t want to spoil anything for you. It’s safe to say that the Howlers are my favorite people in this series though. They’re so precious, and I want to protect them. 

Darrow is truly growing on me too. I already found him intriguing in the first book, but this one made me feel proud of him. He’s learning to open up and trust others, which makes my heart happy. But at the same time, he’s still calculating and smart. He has a job to do, and doesn’t lose sight of it. 

He’d have me win for him, but I’d win for the Red girl with a dream bigger than she ever could be. I’d win so that he dies, and her message burns across the ages.

I also like the fact that he’s not blindly accepting orders. He’s using his own judgement too, to determine what the right path is for him.

There were quite a few moments in this book that left me speechless. Left me wanting to scream, “I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING,” at the book. Certain reveals took me completely by surprise, as I would not have guessed correctly at all. And can we talk about that ending?? What???

Something interesting I noticed while reading this is that Pierce Brown has the habit of using really short sentences when building tension. When Darrow feels extreme emotion or something is about to happen, the sentences become shorter. I really liked that!

Eo would say this is the hell they’ve built their heaven upon.

As always, there were a few things I wasn’t a big fan of too. 

There’s quite a time jump in the beginning of the book. I think there’s a gap of about 2 years between the end of Red Rising and the start of Golden Son. I found that rather confusing, as it took me a while to figure out we took such a jump in time. 

Because so much happens in this book, it can be a tad overwhelming at times. I took my time reading this to make sure everything could sink in. 

Although it is addressed later on, I don’t like the fact that some characters use terms such as ‘whore’ to insult women in this novel. 

My last small complaint is that I don’t have a clear overview of the solar system in my mind, which sometimes makes it hard to follow the story. Like, where are the characters? Which planet or moon are we on, and how is it situated with regards to Mars? My copy didn’t have a solar system map in it, so I found that kind of disappointing. My copy of the third book does though!


All in all, this was an incredible read. I love the characters, the plot twists took me completely by surprise and the ending left me speechless. I can’t wait to read the third book, Morning Star, soon. Have you read Red Rising or Golden Son? What did you think of them? 

Review: Golden Son | Spoiler-Free

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. Today, we’re talking about books that have been on our TBR the longest and still haven’t read. I’m keeping this to my actual physical to-read shelf at home, instead of just my Goodreads one! 

Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence // This book has been on my shelf since the beginning of 2014. HELP ME. It’s so short too, why haven’t I read this one?? 

The Help by Kathryn Stockett // Another book that has been on my shelf since 2014. I know, I’m terrible. I have watched the movie though. I actually bought the book because I really enjoyed the movie. 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed // This one has been on my shelf since the beginning of 2015. I still haven’t read it. Once again, I have watched the movie! I thought the movie was incredibly thought-provoking and touching. I have 0 legitimate reasons as to why I haven’t read this yet.

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien // SOMEBODY HELP ME. This has also been on my shelf since 2015. As a Tolkien fan, this is just unacceptable. I find this book quite intimidating though…

Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan // Once again, has been on my shelf since the beginning of 2015. I’m a failure. 

Stormbird (Wars of the Roses #1) by Conn Iggulden // I bought this one in a sale my favorite English bookstore in Brussels had in 2015. Still haven’t read it -obviously, since it’s on this list. I’m truly interested in the story and I’ve been wanting to read more historical fiction anyway but for some reason I still haven’t picked it up. 

Altar of Bones by Philip Carter // This was a random purchase. It was so cheap, and the hardcover was still in good condition so I figured, “Why not?” Fast-forward almost 3 years and it’s still on my to-read shelf.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini // I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON. I think the main reason I’ve been putting it off is that someone once told me I should read The Kite Runner before reading this. Is that true? If it isn’t, I should pick this one up soon. 

The Angel’s Game (Cemetery of Forgotten Books #2) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón // The shame. The shame. I loved the first book, The Shadow of the Wind, so much I recommended it to my English teacher at university. Somehow, years later, the sequel is still on my to-read shelf.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton // EVEN MORE SHAME. Pan Macmillan was kind enough to give me a copy of this book when I visited them in 2015 for a uni assignment. And I STILL haven’t managed to read this book. Someone please help me. 


There you go. 10 books that have been on my shelf for about 3-4 years.
10 books I’m actually ashamed I haven’t read yet. 

Have you read any of these? Which one should I pick up first?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest

Loving Yourself, Loving Others and Being Loved | Why We Should Stop Speaking/Writing in Absolutes

I’ve been mulling over some things recently, and I decided to put my thoughts into this blog post here. After all, that’s why I started blogging. 

The thoughts that have been running through my head were inspired by some reviews I’ve seen of Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited. You might know that this was one of my favorite books of last year. Don’t get me wrong, if you didn’t like this book, that’s fine. I’m not coming after you saying that it’s wrong to dislike this book. One of the reasons people disliked this book, is that they thought the main character, Molly, only started to think of herself as beautiful when she fell in love and was in a relationship – the love-fixed-me trope.

In case you don’t know, Molly is fat. She’s always been self-conscious about her weight and appearance. She has never truly thought of herself as beautiful and desirable. The Upside of Unrequited is part of her journey towards body positivity and self-love. And yes, that journey includes finding love.

First of all, I’ll say that I do agree: falling in love is not the final answer. It does not magically make everything go away. It doesn’t erase mental illness or insecurities. Anxiety does not disappear when you fall in love with someone. Self-deprecating thoughts won’t disappear entirely. And to portray relationships like that in books can be very harming. 

It can make people think that someone else is in charge of their (mental) health. Maybe it can make them too dependent on someone, or think that they should be ‘fixed’. 

But I am going to be honest with you. I think writing off stories because the character falls in love with someone else while learning to love themselves is harmful and wrong too.

In the society we live in, loving yourself is not easy. Especially for fat people. Being fat has become equal to being ugly, and finding your body type in mainstream media has become Mission Impossible. Today’s beauty standards are focused on tall, skinny/slim, elegant (and white) women, while men apparently can’t be handsome without being ripped.

When you don’t fit that standard of beauty, you automatically feel less. Less beautiful. Less desirable. Less wanted. Less secure. But more self-conscious. Rationally, you might know that just because you don’t look like Blake Lively, doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful. 

But rationally knowing it is not the same as feeling it. It’s not the same as feeling beautiful. As taking pride in your appearance. Learning to love yourself is a long journey.

Writing off stories in which people learn to love themselves while falling in love with someone else sends a signal that you can’t be loved by someone until you love yourself. And that is utter and complete bullshit.

Your journey is not any less meaningful because you had a partner by your side, who loves you and tells you you are beautiful or handsome. Sometimes, your self-confidence can be so shattered and non-existent that it takes hearing it from someone else to start that spark of self-love.

Is it a journey someone else can take for you? No. 
Is it necessarily a journey you have to take on your own? No.

The idea that you have to love yourself before you can love someone else, or before someone else can love you, is just as damaging as the idea that love fixes everything. Someone can see how wonderful and beautiful you are long before you can see it yourself. 

So allow yourself to love. Love yourself, and love others. They are not mutually exclusive, and should not be dependent on each other. One is not a prerequisite for the other.

We are tougher on ourselves than we are on others. With a loved one, we learn to accept their flaws and little quirks, while we struggle with doing the same for ourselves. Being in a healthy relationship might help you shift mindset and see yourself the way you see your partner. 

I’m not saying that you need to love someone else before you can love yourself. I’m saying that you don’t need to be alone to start your journey, nor do you need someone else. This depends entirely on you.

Lastly, who can truly say they have mastered self-love? Who doesn’t still have self-deprecating thoughts about themselves once in a while? Loving yourself is a journey, one I think we will always be on. So why can we not love someone else while being on that journey? Then most of us would have to be alone forever. 

If you truly don’t think of yourself as beautiful, desirable or worthy, you need a catalyst to start a change in mindset. Some people can be their own catalyst. Others might be lucky to fall in love, and have someone else’s love be that catalyst. Sometimes, it could be a body-positive article or Instagram post you’ve seen, that kickstarts your journey. 

We need to acknowledge every catalyst, and stop speaking in such absolutes.

As for novels, here’s my advice:

  • Write stories on people’s journey towards self-love
  • Write stories on people who don’t fall in love with others, but with themselves
  • Write stories on people who fall in love with another while learning to love themselves.
  • Write stories on healthy and uplifting relationships
  • Write stories on healthy and uplifting friendships
  • Write all the stories.

What do you think? Do you think you should love yourself before you can love someone else, or someone else can love you? 

Loving Yourself, Loving Others and Being Loved | Why We Should Stop Speaking/Writing in Absolutes