April Wrap-Up: The Books I Read, My Favorite Blogposts And Life in General

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It’s kind of cliché to start wrap-ups with ‘I can’t believe the month is already over!’ but that’s really how I feel about April and about 2018 in general. I only have three big classes left of this school year , and then that’ll be over as well. Spring is here (although in The Netherlands, that means mostly rain…)

I used to never do wrap-ups, but I would like to change that. I enjoy reading wrap-ups that go a little deeper, like how Through Prose Tinted Pages does them. Their wrap-up includes a life update as well as awesome blog posts they enjoyed this month. So that’s what inspired this post!

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I read six books in the month of April, and I DNF’d one.

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The first book I read was Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. This book, which is about how a 10-year old boy deals with the loss of his father, was a reread for me. And once again, my heart was crushed. This book is a little jarring and confusing the first half, but everything wraps up nicely in the second half. Four stars.

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Then, I finished A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. This is the third book in the Shades of Magic trilogy (I reviewed A Darker Shade of Magic here). I LOVED THIS BOOK. I loved the characters. I loved the writing. I loved the romance. The story wraps up really nicely and the ending is very satisfying. I cannot wait to try more of V.E. Schwab’s books. I gave this five stars.

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Then, continuing my spree of reading emotional books, I read Everything I never Told You by Celeste Ng. It’s about the death of Lydia, the favorite child of the Chinese-American family this is about. It’s beautifully written and it deals with some very interesting and important topics. Such as interracial relationships, racism, sexism, grief, neglect, etc.  I gave it three stars because I felt like an observer in the story, and could never really connect to the characters.

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Next I read and reviewed Chatterbox by Sandy Day. This is a self-published poetry collection that the author sent to me for review. The poems in this collection explore a world of bewildering emotions ranging from sadness and terror to anger and enlightenment. The collection, divided in four different parts – Chattering, scattering, craving and knocking – guides you through all of these emotions. My full review can be found here. I gave it four stars.

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The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas had been on my TBR for a while. This book takes an incredibly important subject matter – racially motivated police violence – and makes it digestible for a YA audience. I gave it three stars, which means I liked it. I thought the main character was very well done, her reaction to things seems very realistic to me. My main issue was with the writing. It felt very typical for a YA contemporary and therefore didn’t have much identity or distinct voice for me.

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The last book I finished in April is The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. This book is part memoir, part true crime story. We follow the author as she begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder. While working there she becomes obsessed with pedophile and murderer Ricky Langley, seeing parallels of her own life in his. This book was absolutely breathtaking, and I’m planning to write a full review about it very soon.

Then, there is one book I DNF’d..

Schermafbeelding 2018-04-30 om 15.03.46.pngThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. This was my very first Stiefvater book and I DNF’d it around the halfway point. It’s not that I absolutely hated the story, it’s just that I couldn’t be bothered. I always say that I need to understand the motive of the characters to care about the story and that’s where this book completely fell flat for me. Some rich spoiled private school kids search for a Welsh King and somehow it has to do with psychic energy but like, why?  Continue reading

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My Reading Routine: Picking a Book, Actually Reading And my Review Process

I love reading about other people’s reading routines, or watching videos about them. So I thought I’d share my own!

Picking what I read
I know a lot of people have set monthly TBRs, but I’m actually a huge, HUGE mood reader. I’ve tried the whole monthly TBR thing, but I never really stick to it. I’ll be in a contemporary mood at the beginning of the month, only to dive into fantasy halfway through and then I just want to binge on that genre, until I burn out on it and move onto the next thing.

I have a shelf with almost all the books I have yet to read (or want to reread). It’s kind of a mixed bag: non-fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, classics, etcetera. When I finish a book, I’n often already eyeing one or two books on this shelf I’ll want to pick up next. When it’s time to pick up the next book, I browse, pick up a few books, maybe read the first page or so and then I decide what I actually want to pick up.

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When I’m reading
On a good day, my reading can start at 6 or 7AM. That is, I wake up early after a good sleep and I feel like picking up my book. When that happens, usually a few times a week, I make myself a cup of coffee and prop my pillow up against my bed.

After I’ve gotten ready in the morning, I pick my book up as soon as I get to the bus stop. I have an hour commute to and from college every single day, and I always read, while listening to music or white noise with my phone. I’ve come to really appreciate this time for reading. Before I started doing this, I considered my public transport time to be stressful, and ‘wasted’, now I actually look forward to it.  Continue reading

Why I Love my Ugly & Beat up Books

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There are a lot of aesthetically pleasing, pristine looking books out in the world. Some people get very passionate about keeping their books is amazing shape. And I get it, because I used to be exactly like that. Never breaking spines, dog-earing writing on the pages.

But I did a complete 180 on that front. It’s not like I deliberately ruin my books, but I completely stopped caring about ‘keeping them pristine’. It made me stressed and sometimes even pulled me out of the story. Today, a beat up book means a well-loved book for me.

I’ve been wanting to talk about this subject for a while now, but I was quite hesitant. The reasons is that on BookTube and in the book blogging community, I constantly see people judging others for how they treat their books. People leaving hate comments on videos of my favorite BookTubers because they fold the corners of their own books, or drop a book on the floor at the end of a video. Of course, if you want to keep your books pristine, go ahead, it’s your book, but don’t judge others for not doing the same thing!

In my opinion, books are meant to be read. To be enjoyed. To be devoured. And I enjoy the experience more when I don’t keep my books pristine. For me, my most ragged books are also my most loved ones.

My copy of The Shadow of The Wind has coffee spilled on one of the pages, dirt on the edges and the color of the cover is wearing off on one side, because that’s where I’ve rested the book while reading it. I put tabs in the places of my favorite quotes, and often go back to them.

My copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has writing on the first page, because I wrote down what date I got it. (I was eleven, my mom bought it for me for Christmas). I love that I wrote that down, and now cherish that memory. It also has lots of page folds in it from all the times I’ve read it. One time I accidentally dropped it while I fell asleep reading it in the middle of the night, and there is now forever a crease in the book to remind me of that. And I love that.

My beat up books are my most loved books, and I like it that way.

My Weird Reading Habit: Why (And How!) I Annotate My Books

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I used to treat my books like sacred beings. And it was normal, most other booklovers I know were this way. They are these precious, beautiful vessels that hold a story that we must protect with our lives. They give us so much, so the least we can do is to keep them clean and perfect.

But.. it’s exhausting. The whole keeping your books pristine thing is exhausting. It got to the point where I would feel nervous putting books in my backpack and would have to carry them in my hands so I could keep my eyes on them at all times. I would make sure tables were totally clean before I set them down, and it was just so impractical.

So, I just kind of stopped caring. I started breaking the spines of my paperbacks (it’s much more comfortable to read that way), dog-earing the pages and.. writing in them. And I love the way it looks. Every single page that I read has been ingrained in the book itself. For me, a read book doesn’t only tell the story that’s printed in the book, but also the story of how the reader read the book.

Why I annotate my books

I already mentioned this above, but I love making the book my own. By annotating a book in one way or another, I’m having an active conversation with the author and I’m transferring some of the thoughts I had in a specific moment onto the pages. That way, I can look back and see what I had thought the first time I read something. It’s a way to see how I first experienced the story.

I love seeing how my thoughts have evolved upon rereading the book later. I might think about a passage in a certain way now, but future me could totally disagree with past me! In a way, my book notes are my literary flow chart. It shows how I’ve grown and matured as a person.  Continue reading

Why You Should Visit The Montjuïc Cemetery in Barcelona

I like cemeteries, I’ve always been fascinated by them. Whenever I travel to a new city, I always like to visit at least one cemetery; it’s a way for me to acknowledge significant events of the past related to that city.

When I went to Barcelona, my boyfriend and I visited the Cementiri de Montjuïc, one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever visited.

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The History

The cemetery opened in 1883 and is located on one of the rocky slopes on the Montjuïc hill in Barcelona. The use of the 56-hectare space on the side of Montjuïc Hill was part of an initiative to expand and improve the city, which was growing exponentially at that point. The chief designer of the cemetery was architect Leandro Albareda. There have been over 1 million burials at this cemetery, and there are currently more than 150,000 graves.

Why You Should Go

Many of the more prominent and wealthy families of Barcelona requested the construction and design of their own mausoleums. It resulted in some of the city’s best architects playing a role in constructing some spectacular pieces. Many of the larger mausoleums and monumental tombs have little signs next to them with some information about the architectural style.

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The place is honestly breathtaking. It’s huge, bigger than I could ever show you with photo’s. The monuments and massive mausoleums make it feel more like a miniature city than a cemetery. Continue reading

The Old Taylor Swift is Dead: a Track by Track Review of ‘reputation’

First things first: I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. Ever since I heard her song Teardrops on my Guitar somewhere on Myspace in 2006, I was sold. Her dreamy and personal lyrics about heartbreak and young love were relatable for me at that time. But as Taylor grew up, so did I. Her debut album  Taylor Swift (2006) and Fearless (2008) will always have a special place in my heart, but I don’t relate to the lyrics in the same was as I did back then.

If you listen to Speak now (2010) and Red (2012) you can hear Taylor Swift grow up through her music. 1989 (2014) – her first official pop album –  felt like the conclusion of that. In a way, I grew up with Taylor Swift. As I matured, so did she. Of course, her well-curated public image refrained her from singing about certain subjects explicitly, and I think with reputation (2017) she’s finally letting that go. It’s like that with this album she’s saying ‘‘well, everyone already knows what kind of a sneaky snake I can be, better embrace it.”

So without further ado, here is my track my track review (and favorite lyrics of each song!) of reputation.

…Ready for it?

This song actually came out a few weeks before the album as one of the promo tracks. It was one that I immediately liked. I think the heavy bass that the song starts out with are a really good introduction of what the album is going to be like. It also introduces a metaphor you will hear throughout the rest of the album. It’s very Crime & Punishment. Favorite lyrics: he can be my jailor / burton to this Taylor. 

End Game (ft. Ed Sheeran & Future)

When I saw this was on the track list before the album came out I got excited and scared at the same time. This track was either gonna be good or an absolute mess. It ended up being pretty damn good. I could do without Future’s part, mostly because I feel he’s super toned down in this song, but I really enjoy Taylor and Ed’s parts. When (and if) this is released as a single, I think it’ll be really successful just through momentum alone.  Favourite lyrics: I hit you like bang / we tried to forget it / but we just couldn’t / And I bury hatchets / but I keep maps of where I put ’em / reputation precedes me / they told you I’m crazy / I swear I don’t love the drama / it loves me.  Continue reading

The Post In Which I Talk About Being Your Own Friend

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When I was a stubborn thirteen year old, my psychologist at the time said something to me that stuck with me forever. ”Would you treat your friends the same way you treat yourself?” Of course not, was my immediate reaction. They were my friends after all. And at the same time I realized something important that day: I was treating myself like shit.

Looking back, I know exactly why. Because I thought I was shit. That I wasn’t worth anything. That I didn’t belong. There was something wrong with me. I was broken, didn’t have talents, was unable to make my parents proud. Or at least I felt like that. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I’ve come a long way since then. And I can finally say that now, I am my own best friend.

The road to better self-esteem was anything but easy. And like anything worthwhile in life, it was hard work. But my life became much easier and much more enjoyable when I became my own friend.  Continue reading

Why I Decided To Go Back To College At 21

It’s funny to think of my sixteen year old self. I had just graduated high school, and I went to college for the exact same reason everyone else goes to college here: Because it’s the logical next step. It’s what everyone else does. Because where would you be without a college education?

So I went to college. Knowing that I had a knick of writing and at that point, had been published in a few (online) magazines, I went into journalism. Looking back, I loved my degree and the school I went to. I’m happy I chose to follow my degree at an art school, because my college was very open, creative, and we got lots of space to work on projects with students who were in completely different courses than we were.

I learned a lot about myself in those years, and I remember how proud I was (and am!) for getting that diploma at the very end. But I also remember myself thinking: now what?  Continue reading

The Old Taylor Swift Is Dead: Writing A New Narrative

I was actually going to blog about something else today, but I can’t wrap my mind about anything but Taylor Swift right now So here I am.

Because Taylor Swift, an artist I’ve been a fan of since 2007, has just released a new single.

Look What You Made Me Do & its interpretation

Look What You Made Me Do is the introductory track to Taylor’s new upcoming album reputation (small R, according to her official website). The song is darker and more vindictive than anything she’s ever done before. Taylor Swift is an artist with very distinct ‘era’s’ – with a new era starting whenever she releases new music, every two years or so. From 2006 till now, long-time fans will be able to tell when a certain song was released or a picture was taken based on her music style and fashion choices.

Since it’s release just a few hours ago, everyone left and right has accused Taylor of releasing yet another victim song. This is something I personally disagree with, at least to a certain extent. The lyrics are something I read as hyperbole, not only meant to reshape the narrative around Taylor, but also to create buzz around the album. Lyrics like ”I don’t like your kingdom keys / they once belonged to me” and ”All I think about is karma / Maybe I got mine, but you got all yours” Tell me there’s a certain type of self-awareness in this song, disguised by anger and frustration. Not to mention ”I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me”, letting us know that she’s aware of her own portrayal in the media, mistakes she’s made in the past and how it has affected her and how people view her persona.

With the song, Taylor is pointing out her own imperfections. It shows that she’s petty and holds grudges, that she never forgets or lets go. She’s not presenting herself as a hero here, she’s presenting herself as a master manipulator ready to attack. And that’s not a flattering portrait.  Continue reading