Monthly Recap | November ‘15

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.
I had two parties from my boyfriend’s family. His aunt and uncle celebrated their 40-year of marriage and his other aunt celebrated her birthday. I don’t have such good connections with his family, but these two days weren’t too bad.

I celebrated my 7-year anniversary with my boyfriend. We went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant and that food was DELICIOUS. Wow. It was spicy, but in such a way that it made the flavours stronger. I had a brown curry with rice, shrimps and different vegetables, yum.

Jasper & Melanie
Ten minutes after the interview I got a phone call telling me they had a short discussion and they were so positive that they immediately decided they wanted me! So, starting January 2016, I’m finally an official Microbiological technician in a hospital on the Medical Microbiology department.

I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo with the intention of staying motivated to write. I never thought I would win it, but with 32.000 I’m really happy with myself and I can’t wait to finish the story in my own time.

I’m a big fan of Mumford and Sons, so when I heard they were coming to The Netherlands in 2016 I knew I had to get tickets. The day of the ticket sale I sat in front of my computer refreshing the page over and over again: and in the end I did manage to buy them! I’m going together with my sister and I can’t wait to see them live.

I celebrated Sinterklaas (Dutch event, my friend Debby explained it in her Sinterklaas 101 post if you are interested) with my boyfriend’s family. We always make a surprise and buy one little present for everyone else, together with a poem. It was fun and I ate way too many sweets.

I had a book club meeting. I failed to read the pick, but as you can see in this recap I didn't have much time to read at all. I have seen the movie lots of times though, so I do plan to finish it (Anne of Green Gables) Good food and for the first time not a terrible service.

Alexa officially announced this awesome news: I am one of the three co-hosts for the 2016 Love-a-thon! We are already busy with planning and it’s going to be great!

Personal | 25 bookish facts about me.

25 bookish facts about me

I was tagged by the magnificent Cait from Paper Fury for the 25 bookish facts about me tag. I’ve tried to come up with the most original, not-known facts about me, but I guess there might be some facts you already know about me. I’m not going to repeat that I’m a huge Potter head or that my favorite genres are fantasy & fairytale retellings. I’m also not repeating these 10 confessions, my reader problems, these 5 confessions or talk about how fiercely I hate spoilers. Spoilers are like that last piece of chocolate. You saved the best for last - and then you find out someone else ate it. You can imagine it was hard to come up with 25 new facts, but here it is:

Review 246. Cat Winters – The uninvited.

19547848Title: The uninvited.
Author: Cat Winters.
Pages: 343.
Published: Published August 11th 2015 by William Morrow.
Sort: Stand-alone.
Source: Edelweiss and publisher, thanks!
Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War. Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

Cat Winters has been on my favorite list ever since I read In the shadow of blackbirds. She followed up with the fantastic The cure for dreaming and she has settled her place with The uninvited. Every single one of her books have been successful and I absolutely adore her writing and the strong heroines she creates.

The setting takes places in the last days of World War I, in 1918, during the Spanish Flu pandemic. The world is in panic and Ivy has to deal with the fact her father and brother killed a German out of retaliation for her brother’s death in the war with Germany. Shocked, she flees home and is swept away in a world of jazz. She doesn’t know how to deal with her feelings of guilt and decides to visit Daniel. He is a German who has to deal with a lot of prejudice and he suffers from the loss of his brother at the hands of Ivy’s family. The two of them start an unique relation.

Fairytale News | Unknown retellings 2015.

This is a 'new' feature I came up with. I will be talking about everything that has to do with reading. From pretty new covers to discussions about books. I will post them randomly.

I have some other posts, like retellings from 2013, another retellings from 2013 and upcoming fairy tales 2014. This time I thought it would be fun to highlight a few retellings all published in 2015 that flew under the radar. I think it's important to give the more unknown/unpopular books also a chance, so I set out and found the most promising looking retellings.


A wish made of glass by Ashlee Willis. August 14th 2015 by Dewdrop Books. Based on: Cinderella.
The love of her new step-sister, Blessing, proves an unexpected gift in her time of need. Yet even as their friendship blooms, Isidore begins to see that Blessing is everything she herself has always wanted to be, but is not. Jealousy grips Isidore as she watches this beautiful new sister steal away all she holds dear.

The toymaker’s apprentice By Sherri L. Smith. October 13th 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers. Based on: Nutcracker prince.
Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family.

Alice by Christina Henry. Published August 4th 2015 by Ace. Based on: Alice in Wonderland.
In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside. In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood… And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

Review 245. Victoria Schwab – The Archived + The unbound.

17899647Title: The archived.
Author: Victoria Schwab.
Pages: 352.
Published: January 7th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion.
Sort: The Archived #1.
Source: I received a surprise copy from Aditi. THANK YOU.
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous-it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

I’ve had this book on my wish list for a long time. I read The Near Witch years ago and I enjoyed her writing-style and characters. I'm really happy Aditi gave it to me.

This book shines because of it’s brilliant concept. When someone dies, their body returns to the Archive where Librarians can read their memories. Mackenzie’s grandfather was a Keeper and he made her his heir against everyone’s expectations. A Keeper is a person who returns Histories; bodies that woke up. There is also a Crew that has to kill a History if it manages to escape the place between the Archive and our world.

Beautiful books | The writing process and Snazzy Snippets.

I'm participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time and when I saw this tag on Paper Fury, I knew this was the right way to introduce you to the story I'm attempted to write. You can track down all my updates on my NaNo page, Mel-1704.

Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?
To the first question I have to say yes and no. No, because I see the story change every time I write something new. It has taken turns I never expected and there are new characters I didn’t plot. Sometimes it feels like the story is alive and it is guiding me.
And yes, because all the basics are still there and I am really happy with the result so far.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
I shared a snippet from the last part of the prologue and the beginning of my story starts with a prologue with the famous ‘Once upon a time.’

So I'm going to share the first sentence from the first chapter (for now):
The town Zelenka was an uneventful place, but interesting things were about to happen. Situated at the bottom of a hill, with on top of that green slope about ten miles further the deserted capital city Ethana, no one took notice of the provincial citizens.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?
I used to be a pantser, but with this story I’ve been plotting a lot. I have a notebook where I wrote down all kinds of ideas, names, little situations I wanted to include and the outline of my world-building. This works better for me, because I like to have it as a guide. It's also helpful when I have to use tiny details you might forget about, like the eye color from a secondary character.

What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?
No idea. I started NaNo with the intention to get more motivation to write every day. I never meant to really finish it, but now that I’ve started there is that competitive side of me that wants to reach 50.000 words. Winning itself will be the reward!

What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?
Every name I have used so far has a special meaning. I love it when names aren’t just randomly picked. The website has been really helpful in my research to pick the right names.

You are already introduced to:
Avyanna - means strong, powerful, beautiful woman. Her last name is de Villeneuve, a nod to Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, who is considered to be the original author from Beauty and the beast.
Kyrill - comes from Kyrillos: means Lordly. His last name is Beaumont, which is a nod to Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, the author who wrote the best known version of Beauty and the beast.
Attor - Kyrill's uncle, means venom.
Valeria - means strength or valor.

The setting is Orenda means: magic power.
The other country Wakanda means: possesses magical powers.
The town Zelenka means: little, innocent one.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
Beginnings! The start of a story is always exciting to me and I loved the fact I could use the write style you often see in fairytales.

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
Avyanna is really close to my heart, because I have based her on parts of my life. But, I also love sassy Valeria (secondary character) who is exactly the opposite of me. It’s fun to go all out and create a character that is different from you. This girl will kick some ass.

What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)
I’ve spent most of my time on researching names and fairytales. It’s been a lot of fun, because I come across fairytales that are new to me and they are really inspiring! The weirdest thing is probably the fact that I’m looking at genes and mutations in combination with chakras. It’s still something I’m working out, because biology is my field and I want to get it right.

Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?
Alone! I try to zone out from the world around me by plugging in my ear buds and playing some of my favorite music. I get easily distracted by daily noises, so music helps me to focus on what I’m writing.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
This is answered by the question above: I need music. The best time to write would be in the afternoon, but then I’m at work, so I’m forced to write after dinner. I don’t think I have any other specific writing habits and when it comes to snacks I just love chocolate. My space is at a desk in a comfy chair filled with pillows.

Review 244. Renee Ahdieh - The wrath and the Dawn.

Title: The wrath and the dawn.
Author: Renée Ahdieh.
Pages: 388.
Published: May 12th 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Sort: Part 1 of the duology The wrath and the dawn.
One Life to One Dawn.
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all. Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

The wrath an the dawn is inspired by A thousand and one nights and it is all I could have wished for. I fell in love with both characters, their chemistry and the true reason behind the sacrifices Khalid makes. The ending definitely leaves you hanging and wanting for more. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I am so happy this is a hyped book that truly lived up to my expectations.

Beautiful books | Introduce your novel.

Beautiful books

I'm participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time and when I saw this tag on Paper Fury, I knew this
was the right way to introduce you to the story I'm attempted to write. You can track down all my updates on my NaNo page, Mel-1704.

Please, be kind to me, haha. I have never talked about my stories before, so this is scary.

How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I started writing when I was seven years old. I wrote a lot of poetry and slowly attempted to write a book. Somewhere on the road I lost my passion for writing poems and stories and I started to use my creativity for my blog. This is the first time in years that I’m trying to write something again (in English! My older work is in Dutch)

To come back to the question: it’s a recent idea. It started in the back of my head at the beginning of this year and it refused to let me go. I decided to give it a go and I’ve changed a lot of things in the story line, but the main idea is still there. It is inspired on my love for fairytales and the need to use more less-known tales.

Why are you excited to write this novel?
I am trying to ‘attack’ a lot of things that annoy me and I want to add things I think sometimes lack in stories. And of course: FAIRYTALES. I’m doing a lot of research and I’m loving it. I discover new tales and I try to find clever ways to weave them into my story.

What is your novel about, and what is the title?
What I have imagined so far:

Orenda has lived in peace for over 500 years. The Beaumont family has kept the country save with their magic, although that is gone from the family line now. The only magic can be found with mythical creatures who roam in the Woods. The easy life in Orenda changed when the King and Queen died in an accident in the neighboring country of Wakanda.
Their son Kyrill is now 25 years old and he still suffers from the loss, looking for revenge on Wakanda. He has a reputation of being a monster and he has locked himself up in his castle. His country is plunged in darkness and his people live in poverty and fear. 

One day he announces he is looking for a new bride and his eyes have fallen on Avyanna. She has one best friend, Garron, who is not willing to let her go. The two of them are trying to discover what is going on with Kyrill and how they can save Orenda before it is too late.

The main focus of the story is based on Beauty and the beast, with the moral that you don’t have to look like a beast to be one. The working title is Beauty and the Deathless.

November retelling link-up | Feedback.

At 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 use the hash tag #fairytaleRC on twitter.

Today I want to do something else. I have an amazing event planned for December and it’s the last month, so I wouldn’t have enough time to use your feedback for the possible 2016 fairytale challenge. Today I want to ask you for some honest feedback.

First of all: I want to thank all of the participants. It was a huge success for me. I got tons of inspiration and I loved finding new topics to talk about in my monthly posts. I had so much fun hosting this challenge and I’m thinking about hosting it again next year if there is enough interest in it. Therefor, I would really appreciate it if you answer the next questions:

What did you think about the overall challenge? (Rating on a scale from 1 – 10, with 1 as terrible)

What are your thoughts on the monthly posts? 

Are you interested in a 2016 (fairytale) retelling challenge next year?

What should/could I change or improve? Any requests?

Please, tell me all your thoughts and wishes. This was my first time hosting a challenge and I want to make it fun for everyone. I can always use your input and every idea is welcome!

Monthly recap | October '15. Sleep-over and Bardugo signing.

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.
Quite some things happened this month and it was an overall good October! I can’t believe it’s November already. Guys, 2016 is approaching. HOW? This also means that NaNoWriMo has started and I'm equally scared and excited.

The first thing is that I was turned down for another job interview and it hit me pretty hard. I really thought I had a chance for this one and to be told again that you are not good enough.. It hurts. At the bright side, I got a contract renewal for the temporary job I’m currently working! At least two more months and it takes away some of the stress to find something new as soon as possible.

We had pannenkoeken day with my sister and her boyfriend. Which meant we baked around 40, so we ended up standing in the kitchen for three hours. They were delicious and we had a great time. (Pannenkoeken is tasty Dutch food. It’s between a pancake and a crepe). I went shopping with my boyfriend and we ate some wonderful bagels at Bagels & Beans. He also took me for a surprise date. I’ve always wanted to visit the Japanese gardens in the woods, half an hour from our house, so he took me there. Such beautiful autumn colours!

Japanese gardenWoods

Best. thing. ever: book club sleep-over at Debby, where we attempted Dewey’s 24-hours read-a-thon. I ended up reading 2.5 books, we watched 2 movies, ate lots of food and we slept around 4 hours. I had such a good time. These girls are the best.

But the most epic part of this month was definitely Leigh Bardugo’s book signing for her Magic and Mayhem blog tour. Thanks Blossom books! We hardly get any authors over here and to have someone awesome like Leigh coming here.. It still feels like a dream. The signing started with an interview where the audience could ask questions as well. We sat on the third row and it was amazing to be able to sit in the front!

Leigh is unbelievably funny and sweet! We kept laughing about her answers and I got a lot of new information, like: SHE IS PLANNING TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT NIKOLAI. Some day. She also wanted to let him die, I'm so happy that didn't work out.Some day. She based Six of Crows on the Netherlands, because according to her we are a small, but powerful and mighty country. I quite like that, haha. She would love to be a Heartrender (who doesn't? Best power ever), but she believes she would be a Fabrikator. One of her favorite characters from the Grisha trilogy is Genya (and I agree) She never made real outlines for Six of Crows, but the characters kind of spoke to her and made their way into the story. Wylan was supposed to get his own POV, but it didn't seem to fit and now he gets his own part in the sequel. She likes to make a first draft, then another draft where she add more parts, creates more details, etc. Nina is her favorite (mine too)