January 2023 wrap up: a diverse reading month

My year started tumultuous, but thankfully things have settled down. I sometimes forget it, but this month I once again remembered how comforting books are. As always here are my spoiler-free reviews of the books I read.

Books I read

Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles3 stars
In four words: humoristic, philosophical, quotable, unsatisfying
What I liked: I enjoyed the first part of the book. Samuel starts out as a lonely literature professor with no friends. The appearance of a cat changes everything for him. I loved to read about the cat! It was a pity that he only plays a minor role. I like how the story is both humoristic and philosophical.
What I disliked: The book suffers from some info dumps. But my biggest problem was the last part of the book. Some old characters just disappear, new characters appear, things get weird and then the story suddenly ends. The ending was really unsatisfying! It left me with so many questions.
I read the Dutch edition of this story, it’s originally published as two separated books in Spanish: Wabi-sabi & Amor en minúscula

Leaving Ireland (Gracelin O’Malley, #2) by Ann Moore4 stars
In four words: gripping, heart-wrenching historical fiction
What I liked: This book is just as good as the first part! Grace is still a wonderful protagonist. I also love the new side characters, especially Captain Reinders and Liam.
What I disliked: Some parts of the story, in particular when characters talk about Irish politics, were a bit too wordy.
Trigger warnings for death of loved ones, child death, murder and rape

Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings3 stars
In four words: interesting, time travel, rogues
What I liked: Two space ships get in a strange rift. When the crews meet each other, they appear to come from different moments in time. The characters have to work together to save a future that already happened. There are four points of view: from a smuggler, a mathematical genius, a history nerd and a facilities coordinator. I enjoyed reading their backstories, because I started to appreciate the characters a lot more when I truly got to know them.
What I disliked: Initially I didn’t really care about the characters. I kept mixing them up. It would have helped if the flashbacks were earlier in the book. I feel reluctant about the time travel aspect. It worked in the story, but it doesn’t make sense when I actually try to comprehend it.
Trigger warning for loss of loved ones

Podcasts I liked

  • Rogues – with Ren Hutchings at Breaking the Glass Slipper is an interview with the writer of Under Fortunate Stars. They discuss what makes a character a rogue and what the difference is between a good rogue and a bad one.
  • While reading Under Fortunate Stars I enjoyed listening to POWER: Time After Time on Flash Forward. It’s a fascinating episode about an important theme of the book: time travel. Rose Eveleth and a couple of guests talk about how travelling through time may actually be possible for real.

December 2022 wrap-up

It’s quite cliché, but this last month of the year went so fast! I do like the end of the year. It’s nice to look back at the things that happened. So in a few days you can expect a post where I elaborately tell about all the books I read in 2022. I’m already looking forward to writing it! But first the books I read in December and some podcasts I liked.

Books I Read

Gracelin O’Malley (Gracelin O’Malley, #1) by Ann Moore 4 stars
In four words: detailed, heart-breaking Irish history
What I liked: The story gives an insight in the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-19th century. I believe it gives a realistic image of what it was like to live during this time. It made me realize how fortunate I am that I never had to suffer from hunger. I loved Grace as main character, because she’s courageous and generous. I pitied her for the terrible things she has to endure and admired her for how she handled all these things.
What I disliked: The book started slow and had quite a long introduction. It took a while before I could truly immerse myself into the story.
Trigger warnings for death of loved ones, child death, domestic abuse and murder

Papieren Paradijs by Marlies Medema4 stars
In four words: interesting, fact-based, poignant history
What I liked: This book is based on the true story of a Dutch woman who emigrated with her husband to Suriname in 1845. This wasn’t Anna’s choice. As the pastor’s wife she has to come with him, accompanied by fifty other families. It was interesting to learn more about this poignant part of history. I especially liked how realistic Anna is. She can be very emotional and impulsive. It was refreshing to read about an imperfect character that regrets decisions she made and doesn’t always say the right things.
What I disliked: Some parts of the book felt too planned out. It was quite obvious that Anna did certain things to further the plot. Because of this I noticed this was a debut. But it definitively was a good one!

The Book of Hope by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams
I already liked Jane Goodall, and this book made me an even bigger fan of her! A Survival Guide for an Endangered Planet was just what I needed. Sometimes I feel lonely in my concerns for the climate. Reading this book reassured me that I’m not the only one who worries. Jane Goodall explains why there are indeed reasons to be concerned, but she also gives good reasons for hope. Her words made me feel a bit more hopeful. She also encourages me to keep doing small things for the climate, even though it may seem trivial. Because Jane writes that “the cumulative effect of millions of small ethical actions will truly make a difference.”

Podcasts I Liked
  • The podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class is a great resource for background information to historical fiction. When reading Gracelin O’Malley it was interesting to get the historical facts in the episodes The Irish Potato Famine: An Unnatural Disaster part 1 and 2.
  • I again want to recommend the Jane Goodall Hopecast. Just like The Book of Hope, this podcast makes me feel hopeful and inspired. In every episode Jane Goodall and a guest talk about how they try to make the world a better place.

SciFiMonth 2022 wrap-up

Thank you Imyril @ One More and Lisa @ Dear Geek Place for organizing SciFiMonth! I had to read a lot of study-related things, but I also made time to read two good science fiction books. One of them became a new favourite! In this post are my mini-reviews of the books, some podcast recommendations and more good stuff I want to share.

Books I Read

Everfair by Nisi Shawl3 stars
In four words: multi-layered, steampunk, alternate history
What I liked: I wanted to read this book for the fascinating premise. It explores what would have happened if the native population of the Congo had adopted steam technology during the colonization. This complex and multi-layered story definitively does justice to the real history. I appreciated how the author tackled themes like racism and nationalism.
What I disliked: The book has many perspectives, but there isn’t enough opportunity to really get to know and empathize with all the characters. I missed a more emotional connection to the story. Everfair is a story of the land rather than the characters. For me this didn’t work as well as I hoped. I still think the book is worth reading, because it definitively was as interesting as I expected.
Trigger warnings for violence, death and war

Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta5 stars
In four words: post-apocalyptic, poetic, hopeful, tea
What I liked: The book is set in a world after climate change when parts of the Earth are flooded and drink water is scarce. This realistic future is grim, but the beautiful writing style gives the story a gentle atmosphere. While reading I felt a bit melancholic and hopeful at the same time. The book is told from the perspective of a tea master apprentice. The way she thinks about water and tea made me appreciate it even more.
What I disliked: I can’t think of any demerits. Of course I was hoping for a good story when buying this book. But I didn’t expect it to be so touching!
Trigger warning for death of a loved one

Podcasts I Liked
  • The podcast Noble Blood isn’t science fiction-themed, but I highly recommend the episode The Red Paint on Leopold II if you are interested in Everfair or have read the book. This episode is about how the terrible Belgian king Leopold II colonized the Congo. In his name around 10 million people died! I could name all kind of trigger warnings for this episode like murder, slavery, torture and mutilation. But I think most shocking of all is that the atrocities in the Congo aren’t more well-known.
  • Nisi Shawl, P. Djeli Clark and Zen Cho are guests in the episode Postcolonial Worlds on the podcast Imaginary Worlds. They talk about how speculative fiction can be a useful tool to reimagine the legacy of colonialism and imperialism.
  • The episode Superpowers on the BBC Earth Podcast is about real-life superpowers in the animal world and how they inspire writers.
More Good Stuff in November
  • The Show Your Bujo Theme post by Annemieke @ A Dance with Books inspired me to make my own steampunk-themed bujo page!
  • I want to thank Imyril and Lisa again for the books I won with the giveaway!

October 2022 wrap-up

It was again a busy month. I didn’t make a lot of time to write blog posts. But next month I hope to be more present here. November is SciFiMonth, and I always love to read and write about it! For now, here are the mini-reviews of the books I read in October.

Books I Read

The Last Graduate (The Scholomance #2) by Naomi Novik4 stars
In four words: entertaining, exciting, cliffhanger ending
What I liked: This book was entertaining and exciting. In the Scholomance monsters can litterally hide behind every corner. Good alliances are crucial if you want to survive, especially during graduation day. In The Last Graduate Galadriel is no longer an outsider. I liked reading more about the other students. The dynamics between the students are interesting and realistic. And that ending! I didn’t expect it and the cliffhanger made me eager to read the third part.
What I disliked: The middle of the book was a bit repetitive. I think the story could have been shorter.

Het Werkstuk – of hoe ik verdween in de jungle by Simon van der Geest 4 stars
I work as teaching assistent at an elemetary school. All the children from my group have to read this Dutch book. So I also wanted to read it myself. I really enjoyed it! The story is about Eva who has to write a paper. She can choose every topic as long as it has something to do with biology. Eva only has a mother, so she chooses ‘biological fathers’ as topic. While writing, she discovers more and more about her father.

Podcasts I Liked

  • I really enjoyed the episode How to Be More Loving with Danielle LaPorte on The Marie Forleo podcast. I liked that talk about why positive thinking isn’t always the solution. Pushing away negative thoughts can make you feel worse. It’s sometimes far more helpful to just accept that you feel sad or angry or irritated.
  • The episode with Dr. Marisa G. Franco about How to Make Adult Friends (and Why They Matter) on the Good Life Project was so interesting. They talk about why making friends as an adult is so much harder than as child. And after this episode I realized that I don’t value my friends as much as I should.

September 2022 wrap-up

In monthly wrap-ups I often write that I didn’t read a lot or hoped to read more. This time I think I read enough. Just the amount of books I needed. I love reading, and I can’t do without books. But other things are important too. Time spend with my boyfriend or family is just as essential. And sometime I just want to watch television. This month I started a masters in Educational Needs and I needed time to study. So I want to remind myself, and everyone reading this. Books are patient. They won’t mind if you don’t pay attention to them for days or weeks. Don’t worry, you will come back for them. They will still be there when you need them.

Books I Read

The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirähk3,5 stars
In four words: Estonian, dark, historical fantasy
What I liked: This story is a mix of fairy tale and historical fiction. It’s set at an interesting moment in time: during the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. In history lessons we always learn about the many advantages of agriculture. This book gives a new, fascinating perspective; it’s about the ancient traditions that got lost during that transition. In this story all people could use the languange of snakes to speak with animals. But this knowledge got lost. Our main character Leemet is the last man who speaks snakish. He isn’t particularly likable, but he is a strong and interesting character. I liked reading how Leemet keeps holding on to his own beliefs, despite all the people who try to persuade him.
What I disliked: Some of the side characters felt a bit shallow. It especially bothered me that an important female side character went through quite a big and unrealistic change in personality. I also felt somewhat conflicted about the ending, but I think it does fit the story.
Trigger warnings for violence, death of loved ones, murder and gore

Mansfield Park by Jane AustenDNF
After reading Pride and Prejudice I wanted to read more books by Jane Austen. I hoped I would enjoy Mansfield Park just as much. But I had a few problems with this book. First of all, the characters talk a lot about irrelevant stuff that didn’t interest me. There are many characters, and I didn’t really care about them. The slow pacing didn’t help either. More and more I started to lose my attention while reading. So after 100 pages I decided to quit this book. It’s a pity, but this story didn’t seem the right one for me (at least for now).

My Summer 2022 in Books

My summer was amazing! As you may have read in my last post, I went on a road trip through Norway. Of course I also made some time to read books. This is a wrap-up of the books I read in July and August. As always, I hoped to read more. But I’m satisfied with the book I did read. There were two five-star read, some nice feel-good stories for a change and a fascinating non-fiction book.

A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville5 stars
In four words: realistic, well-written, hopeful, considerate
What I liked: This book is inspired by a real woman from history: Elizabeth Macarthur (1766 – 1850). I never heard about her before, but I came to love Elizabeth. She’s an English woman who tries to make the best of the circumstances she is in. Her marriage turns out to be a mistake. But even when she is forced to travel with her husband to Australia, she stays hopeful. What is known about the real Elizabeth Macarthur mainly comes from the letters she wrote. Kate Grenville wondered why there’s a contrast between the quite positive letters and what is known about her infamous husband. This book gives a possible answer to this question. I love that this book tells a story that in reality never could have been told, but may be true. The writing style has a nice flow that made the story enjoyable to read.
What I disliked: The only demerit I can think is that the book is too short. I would have liked to read more about Elizabeth!

The Summer Seaside Kitchen (Mure, #1) by Jenny Colgan3 stars
In four words: feel-good, romantic, summer vibes
What I liked: This is a nice summer read with a beautiful setting. The main character, Flora, lives in London and works for a lawyer’s office. At first she isn’t exactly happy when she has to go back to the Scottish island where she was born. But maybe it’s just what she needs. I liked to read how Flora reconnects with her family and with herself.
What I disliked: The romance part of the story wasn’t how I liked it. From the start Flora is in love with her arrogant boss Joel, who doesn’t even knows she exists. I really didn’t get why she likes him.
In the US this book is published as The Cafe by the Sea

Footprints in the Sand by Sarah Challis4 stars
In four words: mysterious, adventurous, travel story
What I liked: This was the perfect story to read on vacation! It’s about an adventurous journey to a beautiful location. The reason for this trip is the death of Great Aunt Mary. Her will is that her cousins Emily and Clemmie scatter her ashes in the dessert in Mali. Nobody seems to know what Mary’s connection is to this far-away place. Emily and Clemmie are two well-written characters with different personalities. I liked the two perspectives (and never switched them up), because it was interesting to read their distinct views on the journey.
What I disliked: There’s also a third perspective: Beryl Timmis, an old friend of Mary. Her story was interesting, but not really necessary. I wouldn’t have missed it if the writer hadn’t included her perspective.

The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #0.2) by Alice Hoffman5 stars
In four words: magical, romantic, bittersweet fantasy
What I liked: This is the bittersweet story of the Owens siblings: Franny, Jet and Vincent. They are not like other people. They just seem to stand out and each of them has a magical gift. The feeling that you are different is familiar to me. I liked to read how each of the siblings dealt with it. At first they just want to be “normal”. Slowly they learn to accept themselves for who they are. But there’s an old curse that causes the death of the man they fall in love with, and you can’t escape love. I also really enjoyed the fluent way in which the story is told. I haven’t read other books by Alice Hoffman, but after reading this book, I would love to read Practical Magic.
What I disliked: I can’t think of anything negative I can say about this book.
Trigger warning for death of loved ones

The Little Shop of Happy Ever After (Scottish Bookshop, #1) by Jenny Colgan3,5 stars
In four words: bookish, romantic feel-good story
What I liked: Since this book is about books, I knew I was going to enjoy it. The main character is Nina, a librarian who spent most of her life reading. As a fellow bookworm it was easy for me to identify with Nina. I immediately loved her! When her library closes, Nina decides to follow a wild fantasy: she buys an old van and turns it into a mobile bookshop. I loved to read how her dream comes true!
What I disliked: Near the end of the story the books started to play a minor role. Instead the romance became more prominent. Me and the writer seem to have a very different idea about a good love story. Just like the other book I read by Jenny Colgan, I didn’t like the romance. In this story there are two love interests. I’m not a huge fan of love triangles, and I think that neither of them were a good match for Nina.
In the US this book is published as The Bookshop on the Corner

Papyrus: The Invention of Books in the Ancient World by Irene Vallejo4 stars
Usually I don’t write a lot about non-fiction books on my blog. However, I didn’t want to leave out this one. Papyrus was an interesting book that taught me about the library of Alexandria, the first booksellers, the first writer we know the name of (it was a woman!) and many other bookish topics. However, this book is more than just a history of books. It’s also of love letter to books. Irene Vallejo herself is clearly a huge book worm. She included personal stories and many anecdotes about books. This makes the writing sometimes a bit rambling. Yet I liked that this book isn’t only made up of facts. Papyrus is a fascinating and enjoyable story about books. After reading it I realized that we as humans would be nothing without them.
This book is originally published in Spanish and I read it in Dutch. The English translation will be published in October 2022.

June 2022 wrap-up: delightful and disappointing fantasy

June was a busy month at work, but I did some fun things in my free time. My boyfriend and I went to the movie Jurassic World: Dominion, we made some boat trips and we swam a few times in a lake near our house. I didn’t read a lot of books, but I did find a new favourite this month.

Books I Read

The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers5 stars
In four words: bookish, imaginative, funny, adventurous
What I liked: This book was amazing! It’s set in a city I yearn to visit if it was possible. In Bookholm everything is about books. It smells of ink and paper, books are everywhere and everyone’s life in this city revolves around books. With our main character (who is a dinosaur by the way) we get deeper and deeper in the city. He encounters strange creatures and even dangerous books. The writing style of this story was enjoyable: a bit poetic, humorous and imaginative. I also loved the illustrations.
What I disliked: The only demerit is the many info dumps. However, I didn’t mind them. I couldn’t get enough information about the fascinating City of Dreaming Books!

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin3 stars
In four words: classic, familiar, coming-of-age adventure
What I liked: I was looking forward to finally read something by Ursula K. Le Guin. I enjoyed the story and liked the familiarity. The book feels like a predecessor of Harry Potter. The main character, Ged, is easy to like and it was interesting to see his character develop throughout the story.
What I disliked: I hoped to like this book more, but it just didn’t “wow” me. Some elements felt like overused tropes. Of course I cannot really blame the book for this. At the time it was written, the ideas were original. But I usually love books about schools of magic. So it was disappointing that only two chapters are set in the school of wizardry. The irregular pacing also didn’t work for me.

DNF

The Shadowed Sun (Dream Blood, #2) by N.K. Jemisin
The books of the Dreamblood duologies are interesting, but complex. A lot happens and little is explained. This isn’t a bad thing. But I wasn’t in the mood for this kind of book. For now I left The Shadowed Sun unfinished. I do hope to try this book again at a later moment.

Podcasts I Liked
Blog hiatus

This summer my boyfriend and I are going to Norway with our camper van. I’m really looking forward to it! I won’t take my laptop with me. So don’t expect any posts during July. I will be back in August.

Wyrd & Wonder 2022 wrap-up

It’s already the last day of Wyrd & Wonder. Just like the previous years I want to thank all the hosts! I enjoyed participating and loved to read everyone’s contributions. On this blog I posted my reviews of the Hugo Award Short Story Finalists, a Top Five Bookish Characters from Fantasy Books and Five Forest Fantasy Books I read. I also finished two books and I’m currently still reading The Shadowed Sun. The Dream Blood duology by N.K. Jemisin is interesting, but not as easy to read as I expected. In this blog post you will find my thoughts about the books I read, some podcasts I liked and my favourite Wyrd & Wonder blog posts of the month.

Books I Read
Wyrd & Wonder 2022 - wrap-up

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black – 4 stars
In four words: modern, dark fairy tale
What I liked: For this book the writer rearranged some fairy tale elements in a new and interesting way. There are faeries and there is a boy with horns in a glass coffin. He is surrounded by broken bottles and crushed tin cans and regularly tourists are gaping at him. The modern setting and the casual way the fearies are treated made the story feel almost real. I also liked the way the book is written. The writer doesn’t tell why something happens, she shows it. The characters are interesting as well. All of them have secrets and we slowly find out more about them.
What I disliked: I actually liked this book more than I expected. I’m not a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, but I enjoyed reading this book.

The Killing Moon (Dreamblood, #1) by N.K. Jemisin – 3 stars
In four words: fascinating setting, complex story
What I liked: One of the reasons I wanted to read this book was the setting. The world is inspired by Ancient Egypt and as fascinating as I hoped. The most memorable characters in the story are Gatherers. They are priests who harvest dream magic. This can be used to either heal sick people or give corrupt people a peaceful death. But who decides who has to be killed? And what if the people in whose decision you trust are corrupt themselves? These interesting questions are explored. The book doesn’t simply give the answers; you have to figure it out yourself. I like the idea of puzzling everything together.
What I disliked: We are thrown in the middle of a complex story with many strange names. Very little is explained. That’s why this book was at the beginning hard to follow. Throughout the story I slowly started to understand it. But in the end I can’t say I totally comprehended it. More information would have helped me to care more about the plot and the characters.
Trigger warning for murder

Podcasts I liked
  • Curses and consent – with Heather Walter at Breaking the Glass Slipper was an interesting podcast episode about fairy tales. They discuss why some fairy tales are actually quite problematic, but are still inspiring and fascinating.
  • The Marie Forleo Podcast is a (very American) self help podcast. Not all episodes are my thing, but I love the positivity of Marie and her guests. Recently I listened to episode 205: Rediscover Your Wild, Untamed Heart with Glennon Doyle. I sometimes struggle with being myself and this episode reminded me why it’s important to stay true to yourself.
The Good Stuff of Wyrd & Wonder 2022

April 2022 wrap-up: diving into the past

April had a good start with a short vacation in Valencia. It’s a beautiful city I would love to revisit! At the end of the month I celebrated my 28th birthday. Readingwise I also had a good month. I found an amazing historical fantasy book that became a new favourite. While reading about a book set in the 18th century I listened to podcasts to learn more about the time period. So in this wrap-up you will find my thoughts about a new favourite book, the (as always spoiler-free) mini reviews of the other books I read and a lot of podcast recommendations.

Books I Read

The Swimmers by Marian Womack4 stars
In four words: dreamy, quirky, fascinating dystopia
What I liked: The setting of this book is fascinating. Pearl grows up in a future when Andalusia has become a jungle with carnivorous plants and mutated animals. We also read fragments of Pearl as an isolated, pregnant woman in the Upper Settlement. This is ring perched at the edge of the planet’s atmosphere where a part of the human population lives. The more I learned about this dystopian world, the more intriguing it became. The story has a dreamy and quirky vibe. I came to like it after getting used to it.
What I disliked: Because the book has a dreamlike atmosphere, the plot was sometimes hard to follow. Some things stayed a bit vague in the end. I feel like I didn’t get everything the writer wanted to convey.

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield5 stars
In four words: magical, well-thought-out historical fantasy
What I liked: This is an altered version of the lives of Marie Antoinette and her sister Charlotte. The book is based on real 18th century history. Only the sisters now have a book of spells. I loved how the magic is interwoven in the story. The magic system is well thought out and fits the story perfectly. It’s amazing how much research the writer did for this book! Many of the characters and non-magical things that happen are true to history. I liked how the main characters are portrayed. Charlotte as a confident and ambitious queen, while sweet Antoinette tries her best to make everyone love her. I was also fond of the writing style. It felt balanced; the book is beautifully written and enjoyable to read.
What I disliked: If you know anything about Marie Antoinette, you will know how her story inevitably ends. The ending of the book wasn’t happy either. I didn’t like how sad it made me feel. At the same time, my sympathy for the characters was another proof of how good The Embroidered Book is.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings, #1) by Mackenzi Lee3 stars
In four words: queer, romantic, humorous quest
What I liked: This book is an easy to read YA story set in the 18th century. Our narrator is Henry Montague, better known as Monty. He and his best friend Percy, accompanied by Monty’s sister Felicity, are on their grand tour through Europe. Monty seems to attract problems and their journey totally goes astray. On top of that he also is secretly in love with Percy. This was interesting, because I seldom see queer characters in historical fiction. From the start my favourite character was Felicity. She is a fearless, rebellious book worm. The more I got to know her, the more I liked Felicity.
What I disliked: Initially I hated Monty. He is selfish and only seems to care about alcohol and sex. I almost quitted reading because of him. Later in the book Monty changes, but I still couldn’t really empathize with him.
Trigger warnings for homophobia, racism and abuse

Podcasts I liked
  • The episode Women, history & power – with Kate Heartfield at Breaking the Glass Slipper was the reason I read The Embroidered Book! I literally bought the book the same day. In this episode the hosts invited the writer to talk about her new book, and about Marie Antoinette, writing historical fantasy and women in history in general.
  • While reading The Embroidered Book, I wanted to know more about Marie Antoinette. The podcast Noble Blood has two episodes on her. The Neck and the Necklace tells about a plot involving an extraordinary expensive necklace. The Second Death of Marie Antoinette is the tragic story of her time in prison and her final moments.
  • I also listened to podcast episodes at Stuff You Missed in History Class about some of the side characters from The Embroidered Book. I enjoyed listening to the The True Story of the Chevalier d’Eon (there are two parts, I especially liked the second). Another interesting one was about the French painter Vigée Le Brun. There are also two episodes about Léonard Autié, hairdresser and friend of Marie Antoinette.
  • And I looked for stories about other women from the 18th century. I loved the episode Catherine the Great and her Husband the Mediocre at Noble Blood. It’s about how Catherine took the Russian throne from her unpopulair husband Peter the Third.
More Good Stuff in April
  • The Magical Readathon created and hosted by G at Book Roast was back this month! I still admire the creativity of this readathon. It’s so well-planned! However, I was too late to participate. I also wasn’t really in the mood to choose books based on reading prompts.
  • I went to Elfia, a great outdoor costume event in the Netherlands. The photos give you an impression of the amazing costumes people came up with.
  • I’m looking forward to Wyrd & Wonder! This monthlong celebration of all things fantasy starts tomorrow.

March 2022 wrap-up: re-reading favourites

My wrap-up is a bit earlier than usual, because I’m going to Spain tomorrow! It will only be for a few days, but I’m really looking forward to this small vacation. It has been a long time ago since I went abroad. In March I continued my re-read of The Illuminae Files. I also read a big historical novel. Here are the small reviews for the books and some other stuff from this month:

Books I Read

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)reread
In four words: action-packed, witty, intriguing, mind-blowing
After reading Illuminae I wanted to continue with the sequel. Gemina was definitively as exciting and fast-paced as I remembered! At the start I did feel the age gap between me and the protagonists. But when the characters got into action, this no longer mattered. I love the unique format of this trilogy and how well it works for the story!
Trigger warnings for murder and mild gore

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)reread
In four words: grim, hopeful, enthralling, well-written
The book has many main characters: everyone from the first two books and new ones. This isn’t as confusing as you may think, because we already know most of the characters. And I loved to see all my favourite characters kicking ass! I do feel that we don’t really come to care about the newest characters, because we don’t spend a lot of time with them. At the other side, the multiple perspectives give a more complete image. We really get to see how dire the situation is. And the best thing is, we get to sympathize with all the characters, the good and the bad ones. Obsidio is the most realistic and the grimmest part of the trilogy for me. It used to be my least favourite part. But while rereading it, I truly realized how good and well-written this book is.
Trigger warnings for graphic violence and murder

The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker 3,5 stars
In four words: realistic, detailed historical fiction
What I liked: This book is set in the Netherlands during the 17th century. Due to the many details and the great setting, the story felt realistic. The main characters are fictional, but I appreciated that some of the side characters like Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer are actual people from history. Our main character is Francesca, daughter of the fictional painter Hendrick Visser. She wants to become a painter herself, but her father isn’t a great teacher. Fortunately Francesca gets the opportunity to study with Johannes Vermeer. As a character Francesca didn’t immediately won me over, but she grew on me.
What I disliked: The book was sometimes a bit too descriptive. I think the story suffered from too many info dumps. For me the book would have been better if it was shorter.

Podcasts I Liked
More Good Stuff in March
  • On March 8 it was International Women’s Day! Ari @ Books. Libraries. Also cats. took the opportunity to recommend books about girls in historical fiction.
  • I found this list with books about books on Goodreads. Many of the titles sound really interesting! I’m especially looking forward to The Last Bookshop in London.