Monthly recap | May '15. Surprise party.

This post recaps my month, from personal life to books I’ve read & bought, movies and TV shows I’ve seen and links to posts that interest me.
We celebrated my sister’s birthday and it was a surprise party! I first made a Tangled inspired cake to pay back her awesome HP cake for my birthday. It wasn’t as good as hers, but she loved it anyway and it tasted pretty good! I am too ashamed to share a picture though, haha. We had a great evening filled with chatter and, again, board games. I had to miss the book club sleepover though, which was a little sad, but I am very close with my sister so I wanted to stay through the whole party.

We also had days with warm, sunny weather, so when I visited my grandparents I took the opportunity to sit in the sun on their balcony with a good book. Another day I went out for dinner with my boyfriend and we made an evening walk at the beach with some ice cream. I helped my sister out with her thesis and we ordered some sushi, yum. I went to the beach again today with my boyfriend to visit a fair, but we went to the wrong side and ended up eating poffertjes instead. Delicious! I also celebrated my grandfather’s 79st birthday and I had a great book club meeting despite the terrible service.
An exciting thing is going to happen, but it also leaves me with mixed feelings. Like you might know, I unofficially live together with my boyfriend. He has a (small) apartment and I always sleep over there. We are going to look for a place together once I graduate and find a job (hopefully this year too.). My stuff is still at my parents house, but we are going to start moving my sister to my room. I have/had the biggest one in the house and she needs the space now that she has a boyfriend. It feels strange to lose my place in the house I grew up in. I finally seem to realize that it’s another step I’m going to take – and I’m not going to lie, it’s great, but also a bit scary.

Internship: I crossed of intensive care, fluors, cerebrospinal fluid and blood culture. IC and blood culture are definitely two of my favorite topics so far! It’s a shame both were only for one week, but now I’m off to specials, which means sperm reprocessing, fungi and molecular diagnostics. I’ve also been helping out with some immunology tests. It’s weird to realize that I’m already half way. I’m having such a good time I hardly notice how fast it goes.

Fairytale News | Leaving your characters behind.

'Mel on reading' is a little feature I created as part of my Fairytale news. It's my way to show my thoughts on topics that go from pet peeves in reading to my favorite things in books.

I often re-read a book and last them I got struck by the idea; those characters never grow older, but I do. I return to books with characters that used to be my age, but suddenly years later they are still the same and I’ve grown-up. It makes me feel like I’m leaving those characters behind me. It’s not that I can’t connect with them anymore, but it’s like they are a memory of a childhood friend you don’t see anymore. You only remember them how they were when you were young, but you never get to see them when they are older.

I might not have the appropriate age that is intended for Young Adult books, but I never struggle with connecting with most younger characters. I guess it’s because I don’t feel old. I have the age in number, but not the spirit. It’s like Nose Graze said: I feel like a fake adult. I also think it’s ridiculous to restrict YA books to the target group, because we should stop judging what everybody reads. But, sometimes those characters I identified with do things that make me shake my head now; and when I was younger I could totally understand it. This is especially the case when the character has a fight with their parents. I used to feel frustrated for that character, but now I often have to agree with their parents. It's the same when I try to return to books I read when I was < 12, it doesn’t work for me anymore. I feel (gosh, that sounds terrible) too old for those stories. I can see why I loved them, but I guess I have outgrown them. It's also the reason I am afraid to read some classic children books I missed while growing up, like the recently translated The letter for the King.

I can always group together with my Harry Potter characters. Growing older alongside the characters was a magical journey and I think that’s why I love the epilogue so much; I could see a glimpse of them being older. It makes me feel like I haven't left them behind, because they have grown older too. It feels more complete to me, because their story didn’t just stop at them being a teenager. It makes J.K Rowling even more epic too, because she keeps spoiling us with extra information about our beloved characters.

Do you ever feel like you’ve outgrown characters you used to love when you were the same age? Do you think that makes you a bit too harsh sometimes, when you judge them?

Review 228. Lori M. Lee – Gates of thread and stone.

17904985Title: Gates of thread and stone.
Author: Lori M. Lee.
Pages: 335.
Published: August 5th 2014 by Skyscape.
Sort: Part 1. Gates of thread and stone.
Source: Netgalley and publisher, thanks!
In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.
In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her. Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

I liked it. I didn’t fall in love with it the way I thought I would, but it’s a very solid story that promise something good for the sequels.

Kai’s brother Reev disappears and she is willing to do anything to get him back: even if that means she has to look for the Black Rider, a feared and mysterious man. Together with her youth friend Avan, a guy she secretly fancies, she hunts him down and he has to face some shocking truths about herself.

Review 227. Naomi Novik – Uprooted.

22544764Title: Uprooted.25068467
Author: Naomi Novik.
Pages: 448.
Published: May 21st 2015 by Macmillan
Sort: Stand-alone.
Source: From the publisher on Netgalley, thanks!
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

This story is a perfect blend of several folktales and Beauty and the beast. I was highly entertained by Agnieszka and the creepy Wood that is starting to get more powerful by the day. Despite some minor issues, I fell in love with the writing-style, plot and characters.

Personal | Reader problems tag.

I was tagged by Reviews of a bookworm. This tag was created by Tiffany on her About To Read YouTube channel. This was a long time ago, so it's about time I catch up with these tags. I tag whoever wants to do this tag.

1. You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?
That is a combination of: my mood and how many review copies I have left. I always read several books at the same time, so I try to pick at least one book I feel like reading and one book I have to read to stay on top of my review books. 20,000 is a lot though.. I guess I would separate all those books in genre piles and then I would randomly pick a book that will suit my mood.

2. You're halfway through a book and you're just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?That depends on the type of book, source and how many pages there are.  If it’s a book in a series I might continue, but a stand-alone will be DNF-ed without second thoughts. If I got the book as a present or for review I give it more time and chance. It also depends how far I'm in. Let's say I'm already over half of the book I will skim through the pages, because I already invested time in the story and I want to know how it ends. Most of the times I DNF a book earlier than halfway though, because I can easily spot if a book works for me or not.

3. The end of the year is coming and you're so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
How ‘so close yet so far’ am I? If it’s 5 books I will try to read short and easy books. If you are looking at 10 books I will just try my hardest, but I’m going to push myself. I love the Goodreads challenge and it’s fun to push myself to read as many books as I can, but if I don’t make it to my set goal I also don’t mind. Reading is a hobby and something I do for fun; I don’t want to stress over it.

Review 226. Heather Dixon – Illusionarium.

22840398Title: Illusionarium.
Author: Heather Dixon.
Pages: 368.
Published: May 19th 2015 by Greenwillow
Sort: Stand-alone.
Source: Edelweiss & Publisher.
A brilliantly conceived adventure through an alternate London. 
Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he's a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path.

I wanted to love this. I really did. Heather Dixon is the author from Entwined and that turned out to be one of my favorite retellings from that particular fairytale (The twelve dancing princesses). I was so stoked when I saw the announcement of her new book, but it wasn't what I expected. At all. The whole concept of illusions, aerial cities and parallel words sounded amazing, but it was confusing to me. I still don't get how the illusions work and there is something about it that doesn't feel right.

Mel in Movieland | Three forgotten Disney movies.

Welcome to my new feature, where I will be coming books and movies! I bet you can guess how I came up in the name, but in case you aren’t; Alice in Wonderland. You can find my inspirations in this post Fairytale news: other content.

It was about time I came back with another edition of Mel in Movieland. I have been so busy that I've been focusing on reviews and discussion posts, but I forgot how much I enjoyed to write these as well. I'm definitely going to pick up this posts again. Disney gives me endless happiness.

Today I want to feature three Disney movies that I love, but I feel they hardly get any attention - or sometimes people don't even know they exist in the first place! Disney is mostly known for it’s Disney princess movies, but what about the others? I highly recommend to check out these three movies if you have never seen them before.

Review 225. Sarah J. Maas – A court of thorns and roses.

16096824TitleA court of thorns and roses.
Author: Sarah J. Maas.
Pages: 432.
Published: May 5th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children's
Sort: A court of thorns and roses #1.
Source: I got to borrow the ARC from Judith. THANK YOU.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

This book is steamy, I’m not kidding. The chemistry sparks right from the pages and we get some sexy times that made me swoon. How often do you hear me say that? Let me tell you: I hardly say it, but only master Sarah can make me feel that. It’s also not hard when you keep imagining Richard Armitage as Tamlin (and other hot actors I picked for my movie cast).


May retelling link-up | Fairytale ideas.

May has started. Are you still on schedule? Here is a link to the master introduction post. It the end of this post you can put links to your challenge page/post and every review you post on your blog. Please make this easy to navigate by putting it like this:

UPDATE  @ your name/blog name.
REVIEW – book title @ your name/blog name.

Don't forget to tweet with the hash tag #FairytaleRC.

A lot of retellings have taken an unique approach, like Cinder with the sci-fi concept, Of beast and beauty with a dystopian setting or Cruel beauty with a lot of mythology. I’m all in for these different twists! Here is a list with ideas I would love to see in a book.

How about a steampunk retelling of Beauty and the beast, where all the talking objects are things like talking pocket watches? And the beauty is a plain girl, but her intelligence and cleverness make her pretty. They meet when she finds him wounded near her house and she decides to take care of him.

What about some Princess/Princess romance! Brave goes on a quest to find the witch who put a spell on her village; turning people into animals. Or even better, the witch made a virus that changes them (because you know I love my microbiology). It turns out it’s Rapunzel’s mother, so Brave ends up in Rapunzel’s tower and the two girls will hunt down a cure – and eventually fall in love.

I’m also a huge fan of gender bender, so I would love to see more stories around Mulan. It would be hard to make something new from this, but perhaps instead of fighting against the Huns she fights in a rebellion group against the Emperor – and she is the leader? And then she falls in love with the son from the emperor in a fight, but he still thinks she is a guy. (Not in an insta-love way of course, because we don’t like that stuff. Perhaps he captures her and is intrigued by her/him, so he locks her away in a place only he knows and they have a lot of banter.)

Or let’s switch things up and make the Princess look for a prince; and he has to sleep on a bed with a pea. He is actually her best friend disguised as a prince that couldn’t attend, because he got sick. When everything comes out, the King banishes him and the Princess leaves the kingdom to be with her true love. This can be followed with different other fairytales to capture all their adventures, like a part where she works as a goose girl or when she loses him to the Snow Queen, because she still believes he is the Prince.

How about you? Are there certain stories you are dying to see? Let your creativity shine and if you are part of this challenge, you can post some of your ideas on your own blog (with a link to this post).