New Year’s Resolutions and Goals: the 2017 Edition

06/01/2017 | 6 Comments

I’ve never really been the person to set New Year’s Resolutions, but, reading-wise, 2016 was a disastrous year for me… This is something I aspire to change in the upcoming year. We’re now a few days into the new year, and I realized there are some things I want to do differently in 2017.  And, there are some goals that I really want to achieve, things I really want to do and not postpone any longer, cross off some things off my bucket list so to speak. So I figured I’d try my hand at a New Year’s Resolution list and share it with you guys.


Finish at least one book for myself every week

I want to finish at least one book for myself every week. Looking back at the amount of books I’ve read in 2016 makes me sad… I got so wrapped up in my study and LIFE, that it became normal when weeks went by when I didn’t read at all, or the only books I read were university-related. I feel like I missed out on tons of good books and, with a little help from you, I am going to try my best to get all caught up again!

Question for you: What were your favorite reads of 2016? Leave your reply in the comments and I’ll add the books you mention to my list of books to read!

Get back into reviewing ARCs and books

I want to get back into reviewing. I’m pleased to tell you that I’m already working on this resolution! I currently have 3 ARCs at home that were sent to me to review and I’ve almost finished the first of the three books and am jotting down my thoughts on this book on the go, which, hopefully, will make writing reviews go more swiftly! I also wrote down and marked deadlines for reviews in my planner, to make it easier for myself to stay on top of them.

Another question for you: Do you have to juggle studying and blogging? How do you make sure you’re on top of it all? I should probably plan ahead more…

Start reviewing NA and Romance novels

More sexy time! Which I realize sounds odd, haha, but what I mean is that I want to start reviewing New Adult and Romance novels on the blog as well. Since I am painfully single, I get my fix in the form of books.  I never really reviewed these books on my blog, because I thought it didn’t really fit in with the Young Adult books (which I predominantly reviewed). New blog name, new resolutions, new books that will be reviewed.

Run a full marathon

In 2016 I set the goal to run a Half Marathon. I ran the Amsterdam Half Marathon in October, which was quite the experience. Some things are bound to go wrong when you do something for the very first time, this happened to me as well. I made some stupid newbie mistakes, which I shared in this post. This year I want to run the Rotterdam Marathon! Yes, that’s the full marathon, 42 point something kilometers. And yes, I am crazy, but it’s something I want to do at least once in my life, so why not in 2017? I already got my starting ticket, and training has already started, for I’ll be running this bad-boy April 9th. If you’re in the neighborhood and want to come cheer me on, do feel free!

Try new workouts or sports

I want to try different things. I know I am a good runner, I know I can lift weights in the gym (which I’ll continue to do in 2017), but I want to try new workouts. For instance, I want to go climbing (or bouldering!) and try a kickboxing class. I might want to start doing yoga at least once a week as well because it helps with the muscle soreness and it is so incredibly relaxing (and boy do I need some more relaxing in my life). I just want to try more things and, who knows, maybe I’ll find something I will love so much I’ll stick with it.

Question for you: Any fun workouts or sports that you think I should try out? Or want to see me try out? Let me know in the comments!

Start a fitness journal

I want to start keeping track of how much I lift.I know there’s progress, that I do more reps and lift heavier, but I never really wrote it down before. So when I wanted to see how far I’ve come earlier this week I pretty much blanked. I have a beautiful planner and I am going to put it to good use and write down the reps and amount of weight from now on.

So these are my resolutions for 2017! I am going to put my Erin Condren planner to good use and let it help me keep track of my reading, my blogging, and my workouts. I might share a post in the future on how I divide and format my planner to fit me best.

Do you have any resolutions? Do tell me what yours are!

Divider

First Half Marathon: The Lessons I Learned

05/01/2017 | 0 Comments

Before the start of the half marathon

My very first Half Marathon is a fact! Yes, you read that right, I ran my very first Half Marathon. This is my furthest distance up to date, and it was scary and nerve-wracking but also exciting and incredibly exhilarating! Even though I have been running for quite some time now, even I make mistakes, and looking back I find that there are some things that I would have done differently now I know what running 21,0975 kilometers is like.

1. Don’t do ANYTHING the week before the race

You’re gonna roll your eyes and say “damn Iris, you actually made that mistake, that’s the golden rule before race days” and YES I admit it, it was stupid as hell, but I did make the mistake. I didn’t go on a run that week. Nor did I train my legs in the gym. What did I do? Train my biceps and abs in the gym… I wanted to work off some steam because I was really nervous, so I figured that since I don’t run with my biceps it would be fine. NOT. I was really sore after training them, and a sore body equals a tired body. Tired body before running your very first half marathon is not a good combination.

2. Avoid adding stress

There were two things that had me stressing out before going into the race. Firstly, considering it would be my very first time running a half marathon I was nervous already, but knowing I did something stupid and knowing it was going to affect my race doubled those nerves about tenfold. Secondly, someone had told me that the last three kilometers would be really hard. I was so afraid of  those final three kilometers in advance, that when I actually got to them I made them harder for myself because of what I thought  they would be like. Turns out that those three kilometers were pretty much the best part of the entire race and I didn’t enjoy them AT ALL because I had been so afraid of them in advance. Running such a long distance is already stressful enough, you need to avoid adding EXTRA unnecessary nerves to that.

3. Shit happens

Sometimes things happen that you just can’t foresee or change. During my second kilometer I got this stabbing pain in my right side. I still don’t know what it was, I never experienced it before, but it hurt A LOT. I kept running but had to slow down because it hurt that much. You can probably imagine how bummed I was. I trained my ass off for this, and then right at the start things don’t go as planned. Sucks, but shit happens, you can’t change it. All that kept going through my mind was that this couldn’t seriously be happening. Those first five kilometers were a struggle but then it faded away. Just as sudden as it came up it disappeared again. Around the ten kilometer point there was another kilometer or so that the same pain bothered me, but just as before it faded away again. Some things happen that you just can’t see coming. It sucks, but you have to go with it because you can’t change it. Will I try to find out what it was so I can make sure it doesn’t happen again? Absolutely! But during the race you will have to face whatever is happening and deal with it.

4. Don’t set a time goal

This might sound unrealistic because EVERYONE sets a time goal for themselves, but I wish I hadn’t. As you can read above my first half marathon was far from perfect and all of the things mentioned above kept me from finishing under the time I’d set for myself. I was quite disappointed at first until I realized that was so damn stupid. I just finished my first half marathon ever. Key words being: I FINISHED! Perks of that first race? It’s always a Personal Record.

5. Enjoy the little things

This too might seem like it speaks for itself, but sometimes it’s not. I was so busy with myself, with running and finishing the race, that I sometimes forgot to look around. The route was great, the supporters were awesome, and kindness and support come from so many different angles. Around the twelve kilometer point, this little boy handed me a cup of water. Imagine me, all red faced and starting to tire, and the little boy just pats my back and tells me “Come on miss! You can do this! You’ve come so far already.” I smiled at the boy and continued but what he said didn’t penetrate until after I finished. Just like my father’s antics. My dad ran the race with me (he’s the best support system a girl can wish for!) and he’s always been faster than me, when I started to tire he would crack jokes or race ahead and make funny faces, at that moment I just brushed it off. I mean, some moments I felt like I was dying, ain’t nobody got time to laugh when you feel like your legs are going to give out. But looking back these moments bring a big smile to my face. I genuinely think that if I would’ve been more open for these moments this race would have been much more enjoyable!

Looking back at my first half marathon there are quite some things that I could’ve done better, but in the end, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I finished my first half marathon and no one can take that accomplishment away from me. I learned from my mistakes and hopefully (probably) the next one will go much smoother. Running isn’t a walk in the park, it’s hard work, it’s pushing through pain, but that moment you cross the finish line is indescribable. That euphoria, that feeling of accomplishment, knowing your body is capable of running 21,0975 kilometers is indescribable!

Divider

Fire in You by Jennifer Armentrout | Book Review

20/12/2016 | 0 Comments

Fire in You by Jennifer Armentrout | Book ReviewFire in You by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Wait for You #6
Published by Self Published on November 28th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance
Pages: 360
Format: Ebook
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars

From the # 1 New York Times and International bestselling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout writing as J.Lynn, comes a richly moving story about heartbreak and guilt, second chances and hope. Full of familiar, fan-favorite characters and no two people more deserving of a happy ending, Fire In You will burn bright beyond the last page…

Jillian Lima’s whole world was destroyed in a span of a few hours. The same night her childhood love, Brock ‘the Beast’ Mitchell, broke her heart, her life was irrevocably altered by the hand of a stranger with a gun. It takes six years to slowly glue together the shattered pieces of her life, but Jillian is finally ready to stop existing in a past full of pain and regret. She takes a job at her father’s martial arts Academy and she’s going out on her first date since a failed relationship that was more yuck than yum. Jillian is determined to start living.

She just never expected Brock to be a part of her life again. But he’s firmly back in her life before she knows it, and not only is he older, he’s impossibly more handsome, more teasing and more everything. And when he sees Jillian, he’s no longer capable of thinking of her as the little girl who was his shadow growing up or the daughter of the man who gave him a second chance at life. He sees the woman who’d always been there for him, the one person who believed in him no matter what.

Brock knows she’s the one he should’ve made his, and what begins as a tentative friendship quickly turns to red-hot chemistry that sparks a flame that burns brighter than lust. Falling for Brock again risks more than her heart, because when the past sorrow-filled and guilt-ridden past resurfaces, and a web of lies threatens to rip them apart, the fallout could lay waste to everything they’ve fought to build together, and destroy the dreams of those they care most about.

What I thought

I pretty much devoured all the previous books in the Wait for You series and I was beyond excited to find out that Brock and Jillian were getting their own story. I am no stranger to Jennifer Armentrout’s books and I am of humble opinion that this series is a feel-good series, these books will make you laugh, they’ll make you cry, but above all, they’ll make you feel. And who are we kidding? We all need a read like that every now and then. Fire in You was no exception to the rule.

Brock and Jillian’s story is not the easiest, but if there’s anything Jennifer Armentrout has taught me it’s that sometimes the stories hardest to take can have the most beautiful endings! I love how their story is a true friend-to-lovers story, there were a lot of hurdles they had to pass before they could even remotely come close to a functioning relationship, but once they did, SLOWBURNER FOR THE WIN! I’m telling you, all the feels, you’ll be rooting for them from the start. As any guy in the Wait for You series, Brock makes you want to fan your face, laugh out loud, and wonder where the hell you can find one for yourself.

You slowly learn about the history between Jillian and Brock. Of course, they were introduced earlier in the series, but we don’t really know their stories, and as the story progresses flashbacks slowly help you piece the story together. There’s something about a second chance at love that can make a story even more special, and Fire in You definitely had that and more.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

Fire in You had me laughing, wiping away tears, smiling like a loon, and rooting for the couple in question along the way. It’s a hard story, but beautiful at the same time. I’m very VERY happy to say that Jennifer Armentrout has done it again! As any Jennifer Armentrout book, I wholly recommend it to whoever is willing to listen, join the fan club boys and girls, you won’t regret it!

And because I just can’t not share, I think this might be my favorite quote up to date: “Scars, whether physical or emotional, could be not just a representation of survival but also a story of hope.”

five-stars
Divider

When the Books keep Stacking and the Spines not Cracking

28/11/2016 | 2 Comments

This might be an issue every book-nerd has, but boy, lately it’s been worse than ever. New books come in, and I keep stacking new books onto that every growing pile of books, but I hardly ever find the time to sit down and actually read them. There are so many series that I started and loved, then bought the sequels to and are now collecting a pile of dust on my shelves.

The list goes on and on…

I’m going to show you a small peek into that every growing pile of unread books. These are all books I own, either part of a series or a standalone. All books I am actually dying to read, but just haven’t found the time (or peace of mind) to do so.

  1. The Vanishing Throne, the sequel to The Falconer, one of last year’s favorite reads.
  2. Uprooted…
  3. Glass Sword, the sequel to Red Queen.
  4. Crooked Kingdom, the sequel to Six of Crows.
  5. Winter AND Stars Above, the two last books in the Lunar Chronicles series.
  6. Fire AND Bitterblue, the sequel to Graceling and the final installment in the series.
  7. Dragonfly in Amber, the sequel to Outlander.
  8. Lion Heart, last book in the Scarlet trilogy.
  9. Pretty much all of V.E. Schwab’s books.
  10. Rogue, the sequel to Talon (and all books that follow)
  11. I HAVE AN ARC OF ROSEBLOOD BY A.G. HOWARD THAT NEEDS TO BE READ

20161014_115118

And the list goes on…

Resolution time

I am going on a self-imposed book buying ban! First one EVER since I started blogging, but I am going on a book buying ban. That’s right, no more books for Iris UNTIL I’ve finished some of those pretty books that have been collecting dust on my shelves. I am going to keep a score and am going to maybe set up a reward system. Something along the lines of: for every six books I finish (ones that have been sitting on my shelves) I will reward myself by buying ONE book. So it might not be a total book buying ban, but it’s a partial book buying ban, a last resort, preventing that gigantic stack of unread books to somehow fall over and kill me in my sleep some night.

 

Divider

Changing up the change, what’s going on?

24/10/2016 | 0 Comments

Shocker, I’m still floating around somewhere in the blogosphere. Although, maybe floating isn’t the most accurate way to describe what I’ve been doing these past two months. It was more like looking around every now and then, and then disappearing again. I promised change, then partly delivered, but disappeared right after. It was terrible, I was terrible, and I’m REALLY (don’t want to use the f-word, but it’s the only word that will suffice here, so just imagine it’s actually here) sorry. Now, let’s not focus on making this a 1000 word post on how sorry I am… I’ve said it once and truly, unquestionably, absolutely, without a doubt, mean it, but no one wants to read a post where someone apologizes 100 times by saying the same thing (but putting it a little differently every time). So I’m not going to.

Okay, you’ve been stating A LOT of things you aren’t going to do Iris… What ARE you going to do? Well, first of all, I’m going to tell you what actually happened, and then I am going to do things differently.

Let’s change things up and get down to business

One of the last things you heard from me was that I was going to switch things up. Then that change partly came through, and then you didn’t hear anything from me for two whole months. Change? No change? What’s going on? Well, what happened is that I completely and utterly lost all motivation to blog. I just didn’t feel like blogging at all anymore, so I didn’t. It’s sad, but it’s true. And I realized this week that I don’t want three years of blogging passionately to end by just quietly fading into the background of the blogosphere. These three years have given me so much and pulling a disappearing act is a really crappy move on my part.

I wanted to figure out the why. WHY did I lose motivation? Tough question, very tough question, and it took me a while to figure out. Actually, it took me quite a while to figure out, and I shed quite some tears over it when I did. Whoah! That dramatic? No.

You gotta give me more than no…

Short answer: I changed. I changed and while I did, this, my blog, just no longer felt right to me. This caused irritation and frustration and I no longer felt like blogging. I’ll go one step further by saying that I didn’t want to blog anymore. Which sucked. My blog used to reflect me, and the moment I said that aloud (teary eyed) I was able to put my finger on the problem. I changed and the blog should’ve changed with me, but it didn’t, which is why it never felt right to me. My blog no longer truly reflected me, it showed a part of me, but not really ME, not anymore.

I think we can all agree that’s a pretty big problem to have. So, now I know the problem, that means I can work on finding a solution. True, and I did think of one: change the blog, fix the problem. Easy-peasy right? Unfortunately, easier said than done. I don’t have the skillset to make the kind of changes I want to make, but changes need to be made. So the search began for someone to help me. That road has been a little rocky. I thought I found someone, I was hopeful, then that someone let me down and I was back at rock bottom. Time passed, I looked around but found nothing that seemed sufficient, or it was sufficient but too damn expensive for me. Frustrations grew even more and at the same time I grew sadder about this.

Where’s that sappy happy ending we all love?

BUT… now we’re here, and this is a blog post… which means that somewhere along the way something changed. Well, let’s just say that it turned out help came from closer than expected. Even more importantly, it means that if I hadn’t tried to solve this all by myself I probably would’ve found help way sooner. Whoops.

If there’s anything this whole issue taught me is that sometimes you just have to speak up and let somebody else help you find a solution to your problem. I have a stubborn streak a mile wide, and if I’d just told my friends and family about what had been going on with my blog sooner it wouldn’t have taken me quite this long to climb out of this nasty rut.

 

Divider

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye | Book Review & Playlist

29/06/2016 | 1 Comment

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye | Book Review & PlaylistThe Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game
Published by Balzer & Bray on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 399
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bol.com
Goodreads
four-stars

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

What I thoughtMORE RUSSIAN INSPIRED FANTASY! YAY! I think that was my very first reaction when I heard about The Crown’s Game. It is no secret that I am a huge lover of the Grisha-verse and one of the main reasons I love it so much has a lot to do with the amazingly intriguing setting. So I was most definitely down for any book set in Russia! And boy, this book did not disappoint!

First things first, The Crown’s Game wasn’t what I thought it would be! Which actually didn’t turn out to be a bad thing (yay!), I just had to adjust a bit. When I read the synopsis of the book I pictured glorious battles, fighting, stuff blowing up (aka violent things) and that’s definitely not what The Crown’s Game turned out to be. It became clear pretty early on that it was all about “impressing the Tsar with epic magic skills” rather then bloody fights. This made that the story moved quite slow, and not as fast paced as I expected it to be. However, I didn’t find myself minding it as much as I thought I would’ve.

It was a fun read, because it wasn’t as stressful as a story full of fights would’ve been. Instead it all felt quite magical to me. The Crown’s Game is super atmospheric, with amazing world-building! I don’t know too much about 1825 Russia, but Evelyn Skye definitely did her homework! She intricately weaved history into her story, which made it so very beautiful to read. The setting is so incredibly detailed and written beautifully!

The plot, or rather The Crown’s Game itself, was unpredictable to me. Even though it wasn’t really fast paced, the course of the game thrilled me and kept me on the edge of my seat.

The friendship between Nikolai and Pasha was top-notch. One of my favorite things about The Crown’s Game without a doubt! I love a well-fleshed out friendship in my books, and I got just that from Nikolai and Pasha’s friendship. View Spoiler ».

I’m not too sure about the romance though. There’s a love-triangle… which I actually didn’t actually mind it that much. But there was just something a bit off about the romance. It felt a bit underdeveloped to me, as did the characters. Both the romance and the characters could’ve used a little more complexity in my opinion. I think this is what kept me from fully connecting with the characters .

Final verdict IRISJEXX!All and all I think The Crown’s Game made for a really solid debut and first instalment in a VERY promising series! Beautiful writing and aboslutely mind-numbingly awesome world-building and SO MUCH MAGIC! I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story will progress and mature in the books to come!

Little something extraAs I am a part of Harper Collin’s The Crown’s Game blog tour I am including a little something extra in this review: a playlist inspired by the book! I handpicked 10 songs that reminded me of certain moments in the story, hope you enjoy!

four-stars
Divider