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Books

Favourite books of 2016

In 2016 I read twenty-five books. A number so low, it makes me feel a bit ashamed, especially if I see the amount of comics on my list. So, 2016 was not a great reading year, but I still read some great books. I know it’s already February, but I still want to share my favourite books of 2016 with you.

My favourite books of 2016
I picked the books I loved most this year and came to a small list of six favourite books.

  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab was the first book I read in 2016 and it was an immediate hit. I’ve put of  reading the second book, because I want to marathon it when the third and final book in this series is published (later this month!).
  • Gestameld Liedboek (Stammered Songbook) by Erwin Mortier was the only Dutch book I read in 2016, but it was a good one. The book tells the story about the Alzheimer of the writer’s mother. It’s written in a loose, though-like way, which makes it very easy to relate to the story and you really feel the impact the disease has on the writer’s family. I found a lot of beautiful writing in the book and I really loved reading it. Of course, having seen what Alzheimer’s did to my grandmother probably made me a bit partial to the story.
  • Jessica Hische’s In Progress was probably the most interesting book I read last year. If you’re into lettering or just want to get inspired by an amazing artist sharing her process, then you should give this book a go. Not completely convinced? You should read the review I wrote about In Progress.
  • Crow by Ted Hughes. Oh Crow. This might be a bit weird, because this is a poetry collection, but Crow is definitely one of my favourite characters ever. Hughes poems in this collection were a real discovery, Especially because I didn’t read poetry before 2016. The poems in Crow are a bit strange and chaotic, but I loved all the (dark) emotions I found in them and the story they told.
  • Reading Crow prepared me to read Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, because the character of Crow also plays an important part in this novel. Or is it also a poetry collection? I’m not sure.  This short book tells the tale of a father and his two sons and the loss of the mother. Crow appears as a multitude of different ways to handle grief and tries to help out, in his own special way.
  • milk & honey by Rupi Kaur was the second poetry collection I read this year and it also made this short list. I’m guessing I’ll be reading more poetry in 2017.  milk & honey is a collection about love and loss, about abuse, but also about overcoming these things and being strong. I loved the collection so much I wrote a review about it a couple of weeks ago.

Did you read a lot in 2016? Did you read any of the books on my favourites list? What did you think of it? And also, what were your favourite books in 2016?

Books

Scary books to read this Halloween

Autumn is an awesome time to read, and especially with Halloween, it’s the perfect time to read creepy stories. I’ve seen some Halloween books lists pop-up the past couple of days and, although I’m a bit late, I still thought it would be fun to share some of my favourite scary books.

halloween-unnatural-creatureshalloween-neverwherehalloween-graveyardbook

For some reason when I was trying to come up with spooky / scary books for my list Neil Gaiman kept popping up. I’ve read a couple of his books in the last years and he manages to put the right amount of creepiness in a lot of his books. The first book I thought about is a short story collection, composed by Gaiman, called Unnatural Creatures. Not all of the stories in this book are creepy, some are rather whimsical, but they’re all a bit off. Next I started thinking about the really creepy villains in Neverwhere and how strange and unpredictable London Below is, which makes this a scary place to live in. Lastly, with a graveyard as a setting and a killer on the loose, I think The Graveyard Book also makes an excellent addition to this list (although maybe for a younger audience).

Cover of the book The MonstrumologistCover of the book The Monstrumologist - The Curse of the Wendigo

Cover of the book The Monstrumologist - The Isle of BloodCover of the book The Monstrumologist - The Final Decent

If you really want to up you’re game and get more into horror I can recommend The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancy. If I had found these series as a teen, I would never have slept again. I only read the first two books of the series, The Monstrumologist and The Curse of the Wendigo, but I really got creeped out by these two. Think gothic, dark, gore and creepy. After Curse of the Wendigo, which has a seriously scary monster in it,  I decided to take a break from the series, for my sanity’s sake. Maybe Halloween is the perfect moment to pick up the third book.

Cover image of A Wild Swan

If you’re into dark and twisted fairytales you might want to give Michael Cunningham‘s A Wild Swan a chance. This stunningly designed book is a collection of dark fairy tale retellings. Cunningham writes his short stories in a very distinctive style, which works perfectly for creating dark and ominous settings. The cruelty and optimism in these stories made me think of the Grimm brother stories I read as a child, which I rather appreciated.

A page from the comic book series Locke & Key

If you’re more into graphic novels than books and you want some horror, you should check Locke & Key by Joe Hill. I’ve talked about this series in my Books you should gift post and I still think this is an awesome series. It’s dark, it’s gritty and the illustrations fit the story perfectly. Know that it’s violent and gruesome at some points, but hey, what’s Halloween without a little blood spilling?

Do you have any creepy reads or scary books you can recommend? Any Halloween books that I should definitely check out?

Books

Book review: milk & honey by Rupi Kaur

I was never into poetry. I don’t think I’ve ever ready a poetry collection before this year. Look at me know, I just read my second poetry collection of the year. And I liked it. How can I not? Rupi Kaur’s milk & honey is raw. It’s soothing. And refreshing. It’s feminine and feminist. It’s also a book I’d love to give to friends. Or people with broken hearts.

It’s all BookTuber & author Jen Campbell’s fault I got interested into poetry. Not that it’s a bad thing. I read Ted Hughes’ Crow because of this, which was a five star read. It’s also on Jen’s Booktube channel I first heard about Rupi Kaur’s milk & honey. I can’t recall what she said about it, but the name of the book stuck in my head. It was on my wishlist for a couple of months and when SocialBookCo asked me if I wanted to review a book for them, I quickly picked this one from their list. So, now that we have established that I’m not a poetry buff and that, if you really are into poetry, my opinion isn’t worth much. But if you aren’t into poetry and want to test the waters, this one might be for you.

i’m losing parts of you like i lose eyelashes
unknowingly and everywhere

milk & honey wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. With its 200 pages it was already longer than I thought it was going to be. I didn’t read anything about the book beforehand, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover it’s about love. And about breaking up and piecing yourself back together afterwards. And about feminism. It’s a raw poetry collection, with poems like loose thoughts (don’t expect rhyme). Sometimes they’re soft, sometimes they lash out. Another nice surprise were the illustrations that are scattered through the book.

i don’t know why
i split myself open
for others knowing
sewing myself up
hurts this much
afterward

The collection consists of four parts: the first part is raw & hard, it’s called “the hurting”. It deals with earlier men in the author’s life. The second part, “the loving”, and the third part, “the breaking” read like you’re going through a relationship. While the second part is mostly sweet, the third part is painful. In the fourth part, “the healing” the poet talks about more than just healing your heart, but also about loving yourself. It sometimes felt a bit like reading motivational quotes on Pinterest, but in a less hollowed out way. I could also feel the fierceness and the anger in her poetry (through all four parts), which I really liked.

you deserve to be
completely found
in your surroundings
not lost within them

As I said in the beginning of this post: I really loved reading milk & honey. It was a very pleasant discovery. The content was so strong I won’t wait long before rereading. And if you’re looking for a gift for strong and/or heartbroken women in your life I wouldn’t hesitate giving milk & honey.

Books, Design & Illustration

Book review: Creatief Handletteren & Meer

A while back I noticed the book Creatief Handletteren & Meer online. As I’m very interested in drawing and lettering, my interest was peeked. I asked the publisher if they would sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review and they did me one better. They sent me a copy to review and two extra copies to give away to my readers. Which is you! So without further ado, let me tell you about Creatief Handletteren & meer (available in English as Creative Lettering and Beyond).

creatiefhandletterenenmeer_01

Upon first opening Creatief Handletteren & meer

Creatief Handletteren & meer exists of four different parts, all written by different authors. Each author has her own lettering speciality to talk about. The first part is about traditional calligraphy, the second about illustrating letters. Next up is a chapter about chalk board letters and last is a chapter about creative lettering techniques. The difference in authors is really noticeable between each chapter, as they all have different materials they use and a different way to illustrate their chapter.

Having this many authors and subjects in a quite short book (144p) means every author only has a small space to talk about her subject. Some information also gets repeated by a couple of the authors, while they leave a lot of other information untouched. This makes this book a short and inspiring introduction to lettering, but don’t expect a lot of in dept information.

creatiefhandletterenenmeer_02creatiefhandletterenenmeer_04

The book is translated from English (originally titled: Creative Lettering and Beyond). One thing that bugged me a bit in the Dutch translation, was the formal way it was translated. It made it difficult to distinguish the individual voices of the authors. I wouldn’t have mind a more loose and less formal translation. Luckily enough the illustrations make up for this. (I also don’t know whether the book is also written this way in the original English.)

Apart from lots of illustrations and pictures the book also has practice pages, where you can (you guessed it) practice your lettering. I really like that they added this. When you’re not yet fully equipped for lettering you don’t have to invest in paper, because the book is printed on high quality paper.

Lettering my own piece

My favourite part in the book was the second chapter, about creative lettering. It had a couple of inspiring techniques for lettering, which I was excited to try.

A Smooth Sea Never Made for A Skilled Driver - illustrated quote

A Smooth Sea Never Made for A Skilled Driver - illustrated quote

I also found some inspiration in the third part of the book, about lettering on chalkboard. I didn’t want to mess around with chalk though, but I created a black & white piece inspired by the look.

img_20160904_151817
Never Judge a Book By Its Movie - hand lettered quote with a chalk on blackboard feeling

Win your own copy of Creatief Handletteren

BBNC was nice enough to sent me not one, but two copies of Creatief Handletteren & meer to give away. I’m giving one copy away on the blog, the other one is up for grabs on my Instagram account. If you want to double your chances, you can of course participate on both platforms. So, what do you need to do to win a copy of Creatief Handletteren & meer? Quite simple, go down to the comment section below and tell me what your favourite quote is. If you have a story about why that quote in particular is a favourite and you want to share it, please do! If you want to an extra chance to win a copy, head to my Instagram profile and participate in the give-away there too. Good luck everyone!

*give-away closed! Winners: Naomi (on the blog) & Winterlelie (on Instagram)*

This give-away is sponsored by BBNC publishers. All opinions stated in this article are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. The give-away is open to all residents of Belgium and the Netherlands. Give-away ends October 1st, 2016. Winner will be contacted by e-mail.

Books, Design & Illustration, Inspiration

Book review: In Progress by Jessica Hische

I can’t really recall when I first heard about Jesscia Hische, but she kept popping up in the graphic design magazines and blogs I read. When I discovered she published a book called In Progress where she talks about her process and gives you a peek into her sketchbooks, I decided to give myself a little present.

If you don’t know who Jesscia Hische is, or what she does, let me tell you. Hische is a lettering artist, which means she makes typographic illustrations. She makes freakishly clean sketches and her typographic work is absolutely stunning. You might have seen her work already, without realizing, because she’s involved in a lot of projects, from the Penguin Drop Cap series to the design of the typography for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.

Book review on In Progress by Jessica Hische, a very informative and inspiring read!

First, let me swoon about the design of Jessica Hische’s In Progress a bit. I really love the cover design, but the inside of the book is also very pretty. They used a red and a metallic silver accent colour and kept the lay-out and design quite simple which makes it very easy to read the book and to process all the information without feeling overwhelmed. The silver colour looks like graphite pencil and is used throughout the book, in all Jessica’s sketches in the book. It feels like you’re really looking at pencil sketches.

Book review on In Progress by Jessica Hische, a very informative and inspiring read!

As for the actual writing and information in the book: I loved it. The writing is informative and you feel like Jessica Hische is sitting next to you explaining her process making little quips here and there. In Progress is split into two big parts. In the first part Jessica Hische talks about her favourite analogue and digital tools and gives you a step by step explanation of her work process. In the second part of the book you get to see many different projects she’s worked on in the past.

A peek into In Progress by Jessica Hische, which gives you a view Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector

The first part of In Progress was definitely the most informative part and I felt like Hische was very honest, not omitting any steps.When I read books on graphic design or illustration I often have the feeling the author is holding back on certain parts, to keep you from really understanding how to make what they’re making. That’s not the case with Hische, she really want you to understand which steps are involved in making digital lettering. Before she takes you through her lettering process, Hische also gives an introduction into typography and letter forms, which makes In Progress also suitable for absolute beginners in hand lettering.

Even though I’m not an absolute beginner and I already know a thing or two about typography and digitizing designs, I feel like a learned a lot by reading about Jessica Hische’s work process.

A peek into In Progress by Jessica Hische, which gives you a view Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector A peek into In Progress by Jessica Hische, which gives you a view Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector

In the second part of the book we get to see many different projects Hische worked on. I expected to get an overview of her work with little extra information, but in the second part there’s more information to be found. Every project is explained and sometimes Hische goes into more details about the specific process for a certain piece. The work in the second part of the book is split into five categories: Editorial work, books, advertising, logos and miscellaneous work. I really liked that we got to see both the initial sketches and the final artwork. I find looking at sketches and sketchbooks always very interesting and seeing the sketch and the final pieces side by side gives you an extra learning opportunity.

A peek into In Progress by Jessica Hische, which gives you a view Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector A peek into In Progress by Jessica Hische, which gives you a view Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector A peek into In Progress by Jessica Hische, which gives you a view Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector A peek into In Progress by Jessica Hische, which gives you a view Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector

I believe In Progress will be one of my best purchases this year and definitely one of my favourite books I read this year. If you’re interested in hand lettering or looking for some very pretty inspiration, you should definitely check out this book!

In Progress by Jessica Hische is for sale on Bol.com or Bookdepository.com for around €20.
(I’m an affiliate with both Bol and Bookdepository. This means when you buy something on these sites after clicking the links above I get a small percentage of the profit they make. This enables me to buy more awesome books to learn from and to review!)

Books

Verbeelding Bookchallenge 2016 [1]

Just like last year, I’ll be participating in the Verbeelding Bookchallenge. I even made it one of the challenges on the 28 in 28 list: complete the Verbeelding Bookchallenge. I started the year of fairly well: I’ve already ticked off 5 different books!

The 2016 Verbeelding Bookchallenge

First, lets see what’s on the list, shall we? The Verbeelding Bookchallenge is originally in Dutch, but I’ve translated it.

1. A book with more than 600 pages
2. A horror novel
3. A detective
4. A classic
5. A book with humor in it
6. An epistolary novel (a book constructed by letters or e-mails)
7. An author’s debut novel
8. A book around the theme of “family”
9. A book about mental health issue
10. A book centred around death
11. A book about faith/spirituality
12. A book about food
13. A book you don’t want other people to know you’ve read
14. A book written by an author with African roots
15. A book written by an author with Azian roots
16. A book written by an author with Latin-American roots
17. A retelling of a famous fairy tale
18. A book written by an author when he/she was older than 65.
19. A book written by an author who was younger than 25 years when he/she wrote the book
20. A book written by an author with whom you share your first name
21. A book with an LGBT main character
22. A book with a child younger than 12 as main character
23. A book with a non-human as main character
24. A book set in the future
25. A book set in a distant past (the further set in the past the better)
26. A book that jumps between different periodes of time
27. A book set in the closest Flemish city
28. 29. A book from an author you’ve already read in 2015
30. A book given to you by another participant from the Verbeelding Bookchallenge

Verbeelding Bookchallenge - update 1 (January & Fabruary)

Books I’ve read

4. A classic:  The Stranger by Albert Camus
I already started the book back in December, but as I finished it in January, it counts for this year’s bookchallenge. This book wasn’t really up my alley. Although the writing was good and I was mildly curious what would (if anything) happen in this story, I also kept wondering what the point of this book was.

10. A book centred around death: De Buitenkant van Meneer Jules by Diane Broeckhoven
This book is translated as “A Day with Mr. Jules”. It’s the story of Alice, who one day wakes up and find her husband is dead. It’s a quiet book and the way it’s written makes everything feels soft and brittle, which I really liked. That being said I didn’t really connect with the characters, I didn’t feel much of their emotions. That might just be me, as this book is definitely not something I would pick up normally, but I would read it again, just because of the way it’s written

14. A book written by an author with African roots: We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Although it’s very short, I really liked We Should All be Feminists. I was nodding the whole time I was reading this and making notes with my own examples in the margins. I did keep wondering if white people read this book, they’ll maybe think the examples are specific Nigerian problems. I can imagine people making that excuse when confronted with the content of this book.

17. A retelling of a famous fairy tale: A Wild Swan by Michael Cunningham
A Wild Swan is a bundle of short story retellings of fairy tales. There are a couple of well known fairy tales (Beauty and the Beast, Snowwhite, Rumpelstiltskin,..) in this bundle and a couple of lesser known tales, but they’re all retold with some serious dark twists. Cunningham writes in a very distinctive style, which works perfectly for creating dark and ominous settings. The cruelty and optimism in these stories made me think of the Grimm brother stories I read as a child, which I rather appreciated.

29. A book from an author you’ve already read in 2015: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
After reading Vicious last year I really wanted to read another one of  V.E. Schwab’s books. I really had fun whilst reading this book. Schwab has written a couple of outstanding kick ass characters in this book. Kell makes me swoon a bit and I absolutely adored Lila, because she’s a cutthroat and a thief and a woman that knows how the stand her ground. I almost gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads, but the too clean ending bugged me a bit. I don’t know how the second book’s story arc can take off from this closed off arc. I guess V.E. Schwab shall have to surprise me…

And that’s it for the Verbeelding Bookchallenge up to know. I really started off the year with a bang, reading wise, but then I got into a serious reading dip. I’m currently reading All the Light We Cannot See (the reason of the reading dip), I started The Name of the Wind and The Tiger and The Wolf and I even got copies of Chew vol.3 and Saga vol.5 that need reading, but I just can’t be bothered. Sad. I hope I can start reading again at top speed soon!

Are you participating in any reading challenges this year? How are things going? 

Books

2016 Winter book haul

My complete winter book haul

I accumulated a lot of books during the past months, so I thought it would be nice to show you which additions made it to my bookshelf. There are sixteen books in today’s winter book haul, which is quite a lot, but I didn’t buy them all myself. I’ve already read ten of them, so no shame there (either in the past months, or earlier) either.

The Stammered Songbook, the Name of the Wind and a brand new Harry Potter t-shirt as part of my winter book haul

In October I bought Gestameld Liedboek: Moedergetijden  (Stammered Songbook: A Mother’s Book of Hours) by Erwin Mortier. I still haven’t read it, but it’s been on my mind ever since I bought it. I want to read this book very, very soon. And I’ll probably cry my eyes out, because it’s about Alzheimer’s, which will hit home.

I also bought The Name of the Wind because it was on sale and I’ve heard so much about this book. This book also has been on my mind ever since I bought it and I’d planned on starting it by the end of January, but I’m still stuck in All the Light we Cannot See.

I’ve also been on a huge Harry Potter kick these past months. It all started with my listening to the audio books and then watching the movies again, so when I saw a Harry Potter shirt at Primark I couldn’t contain myself. I’ve been practically living in this Hogwarts t-shirt.

Het Gestameld Liedboek en Vuil Vel in deze winterse boekenbuit

In November I went to the Boekeneurs and only bought one book. I wanted to buy more, obviously, but Bol.com gave me a coupon while I was visiting, so I decided to buy the other books online. Yes, I’ll buy just wherever they are cheapest.

The book I did buy is called Vuil Vel (literal translation: Dirty Skin), a book of Flemish folk/fairy tales, which are apparently pretty gruesome. I also got the book signed by the author and the illustrator (who put a nice stamp into it).

Winter book haul - My signed edition of Vuil Vel

Next I bought Shoot! with my online coupon, which is such a well designed and good looking book! If I wouldn’t have found it interesting, I would’ve just kept it because of the graphic designer goals it gives me. I do like it though! It’s easy to understand all the information on photography Anki gives and I like the way she starts of with giving information on the different topics you can photograph and ends with the technical bit about cameras. If it was the other way around I would probably have quickly stepped away from the book because “too technical”.

Winter book haul - Shoot!Winter book haul - Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Being on a Harry Potter kick, I couldn’t say no to Rainbow Rowell’s newest release: Carry On. This book is basically Rowell’s own version of the fanfic she integrated into her other book, Fangirl. This fanfic is loosely based on the Harry Potter story’s (an orphan chosen one, a school of magical learning,…). I already read Carry On and I really liked it. I wasn’t blown away, but as far as young adult fanfics go (Twilight anyone?) I thought this was a very decent story, with lots of original elements, a cute love story and an ending that is not too cheesy.

Winter book haul - The complete set of Harry Potter books in Dutch

To stay in the Harry Potter world: I also got the complete collection of Harry Potter books in Dutch from my mom for Sinterklaas! This was such an awesome present! As a child I shared the books with my brother and I left them at home when I moved out. So now I finally have my own collection!

I also couldn’t say no to the new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone, especially when I saw it for sale online. I’m all for buying books in local stores, but if you can save almost €30 on a book (and buy another one with those savings)…. The illustrated edition was really worth every euro I spent on it, because this is one pretty edition! I really love the illustrations, the way they create so much atmosphere! I can’t wait to rediscover Harry Potter this way.

Winter book haul - Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone in the awesome illustrated editionWinter book haul - Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone in the awesome illustrated edition Winter book haul - Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone in the awesome illustrated edition

In December I bought my independent bookshop book at Boekhandel Walry, a cute bookshop in Ghent. I bought the hardcover edition of Oblombov by Ivan Gontsjarov. Oblomov is one of the first books I never finished reading. I was still in high school and the translation was done in the eighties and made reading this book so tedious. I tried a couple of times and never made it past page 40. I still want to read this book though and now I can on my own time.

Winter book haul - Oblomov by Ivan Gontsjarov

At the Boekenfestijn at the end of December I bought a signed edition of Darren Shan’s Birth of a Killer. I read the Cirque du Freak series a couple of years ago (although I stopped two books before the end because I had to give them back to the friend from which I loaned them) and I really liked them at the time, so I’m curious how I’ll feel about this series.

I also bought a very pretty (Dutch) edition of The Ocean at the end of the Lane (De Oceaan aan het Einde van het Pad) by Neil Gaiman. The dust jacket was printed on pearly paper which gave the cover a nice sheen, while the cloth cover was dark blue and very glittery with and embossed bucket printed on it. So I ignored my rule of buying English books in their original language and bought this pretty edition.

Winter book haul - Birth of a Killer by Darren Shan and De Oceaan aan het Einde van het Pad by Neil GaimanWinter book haul - Birth of a Killer by Darren ShanWinter book haul - De Oceaan aan het Einde van het Pad by Neil Gaiman

The last book in this haul is also a present. It’s Tijdlijn (Timeline) by Peter Goes. Peter was my mentor for my CREARES project last year and by then he was already working on this book. I really liked his drawings back then and this book is absolutely awesome. The illustration style, the history facts, the little jokes you can find in the drawings,… That’s why this one made my list of 15 books you should gift (or keep for yourself).

Winter book haul - Tijdlijn / Timeline by Peter GoesWinter book haul - Some fine illustrations in Tijdlijn / Timeline by Peter GoesWinter book haul - Some fine illustrations in Tijdlijn / Timeline by Peter Goes

That’s it for this book haul! I still have a couple of books I bought in London and I got for my birthday, but I didn’t want to make this post crazy long. Have you bought any books recently? Is there a book listed here that you’d like to see a longer review off in the future?

Books, Personal, Projects

27 in 27 – Wrap up

For the last couple of years on my birthday I’ve made a birthday list with things I want to realize in the coming 365 days. As of today I’m a year older, which means it’s time to say goodbye to my 27 in 27 list and see how well I fared with this challenge.

January last I made a list with 27 challenges to complete in the upcoming year: my 27 in 27 list. I put my list up on my wall, my wunderlist and my evernote app and still I managed to loose sight of some of these goals, although I think I really didn’t do bad this year.

Finished challenges27 in 27 - Starting a course illustration and comic design at art school
01. Starting a course illustration and comic design at art school

I’ve been wanting to go to this course for a couple of years and now I’m doing it! I really enjoy these lessons even though some assignments really aren’t my thing. One of the perks of following this course is learning (and having) to use new materials and tools. We rarely just sketch or use graphite pencil, which is nice as that’s my to go material whenever I draw something. It also pushes me to create more and most importantly to finish more real drawings, which is something I almost never do…

27 in 27 - Read 50 books

02. Do the 50 book challenge

I nailed this one! I read a total of 77 books last year and I have this challenge to thank for this. I was really competitive to reach my 50 books as soon as possible, putting priority on reading as much as possible. After reaching 50 books I calmed down a bit, but I still read a lot.

27 in 27 - Buy a book in a local/independent bookstore every month

03. Buy a book in a local/independent bookstore every month

It’s wasn’t easy every month to pick up a book in a local bookstore, as I’m pretty much a cheapskate. I’m constantly comparing prizes and I’ll buy the book wherever it’s cheapest. As Dutch books often have a fixed prize online & offline this lead to buying more Dutch books, which is actually a nice side effect.

These are the 12 books I bought in local bookshops:

  • Joe Speedboot by Tommy Wieringga
  • Les Contes de Beedle le Barde by J.K. Rowling
  • De Kunst van het Crashen by Peter Verhelst
  • Morantology by Caitlin Moran
  • Te veel verdriet voor één hart by Ed Franck and Carl Cneut
  • Chew vol. 1 by John Layman and Rob Guillory
  • 7 Pinguin Little Black Classics
  • De Aankomst by Shaun Tan
  • Gestameld Liedboek: Moedergetijden by Erwin Mortier
  • Vuil Vel by Marita de Sterck
  • Oblomov by Ivan Gontsjarov
  • We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

27 in 27 - Learning how to silk screen

04. Learn how to silk screen

I was very lucky to have a course on silk screen printing in my last semester of my bachelor. It was a lot of fun learning about screen printing and I’m pretty sad it’s been so long since I’ve screen printed. I really want to do something more with this skill, but I’m not sure how to do it at home or whether I really need another hobby.

05. Graduate as a graphic designer

I had a hard time in my last year as a graphic design student. A lot of things didn’t go well, there was a lot of friction, stress and frustration crying. But I also made a lot of friends, had many good times, learned a lot and graduated in September. These last two years have also taught me that, yes, I can (if I really want to) and I still have a long way to go to battle my tendency to procrastination/fear of failure (as is evident in my still not having finished my portfolio/still not having a job).

10. Comment more on blogs and social media

This is one of those goals on the 27 in 27 list of which is was hard to figure out whether I managed to finish. As I’m feeling very lenient, I’m going to say I did. I haven’t commented regularly during the whole year, but I’ve started commenting a lot more in the past few months. I don’t read as much blogs as I’m used to, but I’m paying more attention to commenting. I’m still a bit of a lurker though.

27 in 27 - DIY Panda Pencil Case

12. Finish five sewing projects (3/5)

I definitely didn’t finish this one, I only made 3 sewing projects (a sun screen, a baby blanket and my panda pencil case), but I’m still going to count it as finished. Making these three projects really have ignited my love for sewing again and I’ve been wanting to make more projects, but I just didn’t have the time. I even started cutting fabric for pillow cases. So yes, not completed, but it still did what I hoped it would do. You can definitely expect more sewing projects in 2016.

27 in 27 - Make 12 illustrations

14. Make 12 illustrations

I managed to finish this goal accidentally. I didn’t think I managed this goal until I realised I did make 12 different illustrations for the twelve months of my 2016 agenda. I don’t think I’ve shown all twelve illustrations in my agenda related posts, so maybe I’ll put them in a workspace wednesday update.

15. Visit 27 new places

This was one of those challenges on this list where I didn’t really think about what I really meant by it beforehand. I’m pretty sure I visited 27 new to me places this year, with my visiting a couple of nice places for walks and with visiting Keulen and London and only visiting places there were I hadn’t been before.

16. See 27 new (to me) movies

I’ve watched:

  • Star Wars Episode 4
  • Star Wars Episode 5
  • Star Wars Episode 6
  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders
    of the Lost Arc
  • Star Wars Epidsode 1
  • Star Wars Episode  2
  • Star Wars Episode  3
  • Predator I
  • Predator II
  • Predators
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • Independence Day
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Jane Austen Bookclub
  • Eastern Promises
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Mad Max I
  • Mad Max II
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • Apollo 13
  • Jurrasic World
  • The Martian
  • Serenity
  • Inside Out
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Mr. Holmes
  • Galaxy Quest

Some of these movies were complete crap (the original Mad Max for instance), but there were a lot I really liked. I think Eastern Promises, The Imitation Game, Serenity and Galaxy Quest were definitely some of my favourites.

27 in 27 - Go driving the car 27 time

17. Go driving the car 27 time (also known as getting serious about my driving license)

Although I didn’t go driving 27 times in total, I did get really serious about getting my driver’s license. I started driving lessons at the end of December. I went home on Monday to put in the request at the town hall and on Sunday I got my provisional license (saying I can drive alone)! I then drove home from my parent’s house to Ghent, in the dark, while getting lost. So, yaay!

27 in 27 - Make a piece of furniture myself

18. Make a piece of furniture myself

I made a DIY Jar Lamp from scratch this year, of which I’m quite proud. I also got into more re-upholstering of lamps and gave myself a pretty desk lamp. I didn’t manage to make my own bench for our hallway (buying one at Ikea was cheaper/easier), but I still feel like making my own lamps is like making my own furniture. I’d like to do more home/decoration DIY’s in the future, although it’s not always easy making them on a budget.

19. Photograph more non-blog related things

In January I did the January Photo-a-day challenge and the July Bookish Photo Challenge this year, which was fun. I also tried snapping more random pictures with my phone and I tried being more active on Instagram. I’m still not one of those people who takes her camera everywhere, but I do enjoy making photos more. After reading Shoot! I also started to put more effort in my photography and I want to embrace the medium even more in 2016.

27 in 27 - Blog more

20. Blog more

I started well off with this one in January, but the next couple of months I didn’t had the time to blog a lot. In August I got more free time and I immediately started blogging more. September was the month with the most blog posts: 16 in total! The next couple of months I put out about 10 posts a month, which I consider a good amount. This month hasn’t been going well until now, but I’m sure I can put another four posts online by the end of the month. My goal was to post at least eight posts a month and for about half of the year I managed to do just that. The other half was so busy I stopped doing almost anything but school work, so yes, this is definitely a goal I reached.

22. Watch all the Star Wars movies (marathon style)

We didn’t really marathon the movies on one day, but we watched a movie a day for about a week. It was the first time I completely watched the three oldest movies and I really liked those. We also watched the three more recent instalments of the series and although I watched them when I was younger and liked them then, I didn’t really liked re-watching these episodes now. They weren’t very good and I don’t think we’ll be attempting watching those again soon. I’m also not sure I want to go see the new movie. Has anyone been?

27 in 27 - Find a day planner that works for me

24. Find a day planner that works for me

I made my first day planner at the beginning of 2015. I really liked learning about book binding and putting my own planner together. I really liked that first handmade planner, but it wasn’t completely what I wanted, so in September I started working on my 2016 planner. I designed all the pages again, put in some illustrations to add extra colour to my agenda and made a midori notebook styled cover. I’m really happy with this new planner, it has tons of space, although it’s a bit on the large side, and I really like using it.

27 in 27 - Discover & start a new sport

25. Discover & start a new sport

I still wouldn’t call myself sportsmanlike, but I did try a couple of different things the past year. I did the 30 Day Shred (and was really impressed with myself, which seems quite silly now), I also started the Six Week Sixpack (but never finished it though) and I also started doing Yoga with Adriene. Getting these things integrated into my daily life on a regular basis is something for the next 365 days.

26. Go hiking (monthly would be cool)

I started good on this one and went hiking in Zeeland, Doeveren, Duivenbos and De Bourgoyen. After that good start I slipped up a bit, but we still went for serious walks in Keulen, Gent and London, so although not all of those walks were in nice forests like I imagined, I’m still happy we went on all of those walks. Next year I really need to get to the High Fens, I’ve been wanting to go there for ages and I still haven’t been.

Unfinished Challenges

These are the goals I didn’t manage to get to or finish in a way I found satisfying.

06. Find a job – Erm… I need to get more serious about this. Now that I can drive to places that aren’t accessible by bike of public transport and now that having a driver’s license isn’t a no-go on job interviews I’m running out of excuses.

07. Getting the number of unread books in my bookcase down (starting at: 27) – I believe the number of unread books on my shelf has almost doubled in the last year, even though I read quite a lot of books from my shelf. I was buying them faster than reading them, so this is a bit of a fail.

08. Make a vlog – I did film some try-our footage this year, but I never got round to making the actual vlog bit happen. I’ll be going to a workshop on vlogging in April though, so it should happen somewhere this year.

09. Do a 365 days project – This goal was just impossible to do this year, with all the school work. Almost as soon as I started this I had to quit. I tried making up for it by doing a 30 day challenge here and there, but that’s not the same.

11. Illustrate a (very) short story – Maybe I’ve should have started by making this goal “write a short story” or something. I wouldn’t know which story to illustrate otherwise. Maybe I’ll give this a retry in the next year though.

13. Blog 27 successive days – Ah, I tried this a couple of times (in August and September) and failed miserably. I think this can only work of you have enough content planned out before starting and although I had the plan, I never managed to write enough posts in advance to finish this challenge.

21. Make a short animation – I wanted to finish an animation I started in my first year of graphic design, but I never got to it. I’ve been through all the material I have for it and it seems so overwhelming to start that project again. I’m not sure I’ll ever finish that animation.

23. Play Magicka with the Boy – This started off quite well. We played a bit of Magicka and then switched to playing Hearthstone for a while, but we didn’t keep this up.

27. Dye my hair pink – I still really want to dye my hair pink, put it’s a bit pricey to do it at a hair salon, which was the main reason I didn’t get to this one this year. I’m also not sure which hair salon in Ghent to go to. I’ve visited numerous Facebook pages of salons, but I didn’t get the impression any of them would be able to give me a pastel pink look. I’ve contemplated doing it myself, but I’m scared I’ll end up with no hair. :p

I finished 18 of the 27 challenges I set myself this year, which isn’t bad, all things considered. I never managed to finish one of these lists, but that doesn’t keep me from making new ones every year. My next list will be up in a couple of days!

Have you ever attempted doing one of these birthday lists or bucket lists?

Books

Seven books I want to read in 2016

Last year I wrote a post about a couple of books that were coming out in 2015 and to which I was looking forward to. I attempted to make a new list this year, but I didn’t get very far. There are a couple of books that I’m looking forward to and a couple more were I’ll be keeping an eye on the reviews they get when they’re published, but it all felt a bit too precursory. So instead I came up with a list of books that I really want to get to this year.

I already published a books I really want to read list in September of last year, with eight books I wanted to get to before the end of the year. I managed to read four of those, which means there are already four books on my list for this year: Hollow City, Burial Rites, Snow Child and The Night Circus. Ignoring those, here are seven other books I want to read in 2016!

Books I want to read in 2016: Crow and Grief is the Thing With Feathers

1. Crow by Ted Hughes & 2. Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

I believe I heard of these books via Jen Campbell’s booktube channel. Crow by Ted Hughes is a poetry collection, about the character Crow, which leans heavy on mythologies. The second book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, is features Hughes’s Crow. Crow comes to stay with a grieving family, of which the father is writing a book about Ted Hughes’ Crow. The whole set-up of these two books and the way they’re intermingled makes me very curious. I got Grief is the Thing with Feathers on new year and I’ve just ordered Crow, so I’m looking forward to reading both!

Books I want to read in 2016: A Gathering of Shadows

3. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

After reading Vicious at the beginning of last year I was completely sold to V.E. Schwab’s writing. I knew she’d just published a new book in a series, I even put it on my “Books I”m looking forward to in 2015” list, but I put reading it off for months, because I hate starting an unfinished series. By the end of last month I finally caved. I picked up A Darker Shade of Magic and flew through the story. The main characters, Lila and Kell; the world building, pretty much everything about this book was exactly what I wanted it to be (You can find my review on Goodreads). I could slap myself after reading it, because the second book in this series, A Gathering of Darkness, won’t be published until February 23rd. I already read an 150 pages excerpt to calm my curiosity (#fail) and I can tell there’s so much in store for Lila and Kell. So yes, this one will definitely get read in 2016, although I’ll have to wait for the third (and maybe fourth) book even longer.

Books I want to read in 2016: The Name of the Wind and The Lies of Locke Lamora

4. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind is one of those books that keeps popping up on BookTube and bookblogs. It has so many positive reviews! In fact, I haven’t seen a Booktube review that wasn’t positive and that has made me very curious. So even though this book is the first book in an unfinished series and even though it’s 660 pages (and even though the second is 990 pages) I’m itching to start reading this series in 2016!

5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

I’m guessing 2016 will be the year of hefty books and more serious fantasy series (I’m trying to keep away from YA fantasy because I read too many mediocre books last year), because the Gentlemen Basterd’s series by Scott Lynch is another high fantasy series I really want to start reading this year. I can’t recall when the first book in the series, The Lies of Locke Lamora, first popped on my radar but it’s been far too long.

Books I want to read in 2016: His Dark Materials

6. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is a collected novel containing the tree novels in the His Dark Materials series: Northern Lights, The Subtle Life and The Amber Spyglass. I’ve heard so much about this series and I bought the book last year, but even though I really wanted to read it, the size did put me off a bit. Reading large book is always a bit of a commitment and last year I was putting winning the 50 books challenge before reading the books I really wanted to read. No more this year!

7. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

It’s getting a bit repetitive, but I seem to be scared to start reading some books. Mostly because of the time commitment. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran falls also in the stalling category, but not because of the commitment. This is one of those books where I have real high expectations off and I’m a bit scared this book will let me down. I’m also very curious what Moran has to say about the topic, so I’ll just have to dive in this year.

I know seven is a bit of an odd number, but these are the books I’m currently most curious about. I didn’t want to make my list too long, because, knowing me, halfway through the year I might get interested in other things. Are there any books you really want to get to this year? Or is there a particular book that’s been on your to-be-read list for ages?

Books

Verbeelding Book Challenge [December update]

Verbeelding Book Challenge

At the start of the new year, we got a challenge at the Verbeelding Bookclub: the Verbeelding Book Challenge. It’s a list with 30 different kinds of books to read this year, so we need to step out of our reading comfort zone. I’m not sure what sort of a reader I am, but I know there are a lot of genres I’ve never read before.

This is the last update in this year’s Verbeelding Book challenge. I’m already looking forward to the 2016 Verbeelding Book challenge, which should come online in a couple of days. #excited!

In my last update I talked about maybe finishing the Verbeelding Book challenge, but then I had a bit of a reading slump. I really struggled and I knew it was because I was pushing myself to read too much out of my comfort zone. The main thing about reading is that I have to enjoy it. I read to relax. I know some people want to learn new things of discover new perspectives, but that’s only secondary for me. When I can choose between almost not reading because I don’t like the genre I’m reading or between reading a lot of the same old things and enjoying myself, I don’t have to think long to pick.

So I dropped the idea of doing a final sprint in December and decided to read whatever I felt like and whatever I would enjoy most. That doesn’t mean I don’t like doing the challenge, I always like a bit of a challenge, but it still has to be fun in the end.

Read

  • A book written in a language other than the one you normally read in  – As I normally don’t read fiction in Dutch, I’ve picked the only Dutch book I’ve read this year for this one: Tirol Inferno.
  • A book that won a prize – I’m read A Monster Calls and it was so good! I really loved the story and the illustrations made it so much better.
  • A book published before 1900 – I’ve wanted to read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde for a long time. The story is very well-known, so I thought I knew what to expect. In the end this book was a bit of a surprise. I didn’t love it though. It started good, but I didn’t like the second part of the book, it was a tad boring. Pitty, because Oscar Wilde knows how to craft a sentence.
  • Read a book published in your birth-year – I went for a quick relief for this challenge and I picked up Matilda by Roald Dahl. It was published in 1988 and I read it as a child (only one of two Roald Dahl books I read as a child, I didn’t want to read the others, because everyone was reading them. #alwaysbeenacoolkid)
  • A book you’ve been wanting to read for the longest time – I picked Habibi for this one. It’s a graphic novel by Craig Thompson who also wrote Blankets. I’ve read Blankets a couple of years ago and I’ve wanted to read Habibi ever since it was published. Although it was very different from Blankets, I really liked this novel too.

Work in progress

  • A book set in  South-America – I’ve started reading The Stranger by Albert Camus for this one. I’m about 25% in and if I’d push through I’d probably be able to finish this book before the start of the new year (as it’s only 125 pages long), but I’m currently way to engrossed in A Darker Shade of Magic to pick this up again.

Not started

I still want to read the books I didn’t manage to get to in 2015. They’re probably not the highest on my TBR-list, but they all sound really intriguing and I want to get to them one day. 🙂

The complete Verbeelding Book Challenge overview

  • Read a book of 500 pages or more – Cress
  • Read a book published in your birthyear – Matilda
  • A non fiction book– Yes Please
  • A Fantasy book – The Kiss of Deception
  • A sci-fi book – The Martian
  • A graphic novel – Seconds
  • A mystery novel or thriller –  The Girl with all the Gifts
  • A romance or chicklit – To all the Boys I Loved Before
  • A book aimed a children under 12 –  Alice in Wonderland/Alice in Spiegelland
  • A book based on a true story The Yellow Wallpaper
  • A historic novel
  • A book with illustrations – Graduation Guide for Design Students
  • A book that won a prize – A Monster Calls
  • A book that somebody recommended to you – Brave New World
  • A book published before 1900 – The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • A series (you may already have started it) – Percy Jackson & The Olympians
  • A book you loved as a child –  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • A book you once started, but never finished – Flowers for Algernon
  • A book with 65+ main character – Old Man’s War
  • A book you’ve read in one sitting – The Arrival
  •  A book that has been made into a movie – Locke & Key series / Harry Potter
  • A book made into a tv-series 
  • A book you’ve been wanting to read for the longest time – Habibi
  • A book set in Asia
  • A book set in Africa
  • A book set in  South-America
  • A book set in Oceania
  • A book written in a language other than the one you normally read in  – Tirol Inferno
  • A book with short stories – Unnatural Creatures
  • A poetry collection – The See and the Bells

In the end I’ve managed to read 24 books (out of 30) for the Verbeelding Book Challenge, which is about a third of the total amount of books I’ve read this year! Did you participate in any (reading) challenges this year? How did you fare?