Fireworks by Katie Cotugno | Review

13/04/2017 | 0 Comments

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.

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno | ReviewFireworks by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer & Bray on April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Buy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-'90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

Fireworks was and wasn’t what I was expecting. Cryptic sentence to open with, I know, but bear with me. Sometimes you just don’t know if the book you’re reading is going to knock your socks off or turn out not to be your thing at all, and such was the case with Fireworks.

So I’m talking about not knowing what I was going to get, but also that this book was and wasn’t what I expected it to be… That’s confusing. Let me break it down for you. What did I expect? I expected clichés. I mean, being discovered as a pop star, fame, a love interest that is destined to be the next big thing, it all screamed cliché to me. Not just cliché, but cliché in a big, bold, flashing neon sign kinda way. And I gotta admit those clichés were present in Fireworks. What didn’t I expect? For Katie Cotugno to work them so flawlessly into the story that I didn’t mind them at all. They were there, but they weren’t the most important aspects of the story.

Friendship and self-discovery were two of the most important aspects in Fireworks. I loved the protagonist, Dana. She was the kind of friend, had the kind of loyalty to her friends, that you can only admire and respect. Especially because as the story progressed it became clearer and clearer that her best friend, Olivia, was holding her back. Dana had to figure out for herself what she wanted to do with her life and she underwent a big transformation throughout the story.

If anything made Fireworks for me, combined with all things I mentioned before, it was that ending. I love how Katie Cotugno blew away all my preconceived notions of how I expected Fireworks to end in a cliché. That ending was anything but cliché and it was the cherry on top of a very enjoyable story.

If you’re looking for a fun and enjoyable contemporary read with a solid message attached, Fireworks is the answer. It’s a very well-written story with a sweet romance that you won’t be able to resist!

four-stars
Divider

Rocycle Adventure in Amsterdam

11/04/2017 | 0 Comments

I can scratch something off my to-do list. Rocycle class in Amsterdam: check! Joining a class has been on my to-do list ever since I first heard about it a few months back, and, yesterday I experienced what it’s like to join one of their rides! I have one word for you to describe my entire experience: intense!

Firtst things first, what is Rocycle?

It’s a 45 & 60-minute full body workout on a bike. You train your core and your upper body with light hand weights and handlebar pushups, and your heart rate will go all the way up. Each class has a unique playlist handpicked by your instructor to fit their style.

So, what was my Rocycle experience like?

I reserved a bike for my friend Manouk (bikes 18 & 19, just in case you were wondering where we sweated our butts off) for Monday 10 April at 18.00 and we arrived fashionably early. Almost an hour early. As we arrived I was mostly excited, but if I’m very honest with myself I’ll admit that I was beginning to feel a bit nervous. From what I’d heard Rocycle was a lot like spinning, but ‘more’ intense, and my past experiences with spinning combined with my asthma had been less than pleasant. We were shown around and explained how to set up our bikes and that’s when the fun began.

I had about 5 seconds to be nervous before all my nerves were replaced with sweat. The music was good. Our instructor, Isabella, was awesome. It was on from the very first minute and you have no choice but to let the music take you and let your instructor guide you through it. There’s a quote on the wall that says “music on, world off” and it couldn’t be more accurate. It is so easy to get swept along with the music and the vibe in the studio that I had to remind myself sometimes to take it a bit slower. I took a breather every now and then when my breathing got a bit too rough, but it was so much awesomeness in just 45 minutes and it’s over before you know it.

How a workout can be so brutal and so much fun at the same time is beyond me, but I’m not complaining. I repeat: it was SO MUCH FUN. My legs felt a bit wobbly once I got off the bike, but the energy you get from that workout is insane!

The verdict

One thing is for certain: I’ll be back! If you’re in Amsterdam and you want a little something different for your workout, go join a Rocycle class! You can book your ride online, there’s a first-time offer that I promise you won’t regret!

Divider

The Week Before: the Rotterdam 1/4 Marathon

06/04/2017 | 0 Comments

Upcoming Sunday I am running the Rotterdam 1/4th marathon alongside my dad and thousands of other runners. The Rotterdam 1/4th marathon has always been one of my favorite events to run. The vibe is amazing and there are SO MANY people that cheer you on, another thing that plays a big role as to why it is one of my favorite events is the fact that two years ago this was my first ‘big’ run. I will never forget that overpowering sense of accomplishment once I crossed that finish line and even though the time I ran was nothing to write home about, that 10k was about so much more than simply setting a time.

Two years ago I proved to myself that I could do it. It took me WAY too long to run that 10k, but I proved to myself that if I put my mind to it and trained properly I could run any distance I wanted. Look at me now, two years down the road, and I have a lot more distance in those legs of mine. The past two years I ran some more 10k’s, some 10 miles, and a half marathon. I’m a way more experienced runner than I was two years ago and through it all I learned some valuable things about how to prep for race day. Since this is the week before race day for me, I thought I’d share my do’s and don’ts the week before race day.

The week before

Do not train heavy the week before a race. It might seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people make this mistake. And I too made that same mistake before. It is so tempting to do that leg day session or to run a 10k just to prove to yourself that you can do it. Don’t. You’ll tire your muscles and they won’t have enough time to recover. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train at all. I usually go on one or two short distance runs. If you’re running a 10k, run a 3k or 5k during the week. Just don’t speed, aim for a comfortable pace that doesn’t get you winded.

Don’t eat any differently than you normally do and don’t eat anything heavy two hours before your race. It might be so tempting to make a special breakfast with more carbs or more proteins to fuel your body, but this won’t work in your favor. It can have the complete opposite effect. Your body might not be used to this kind of nutrition and react badly to it. Believe me, you do not want the be the runner at the start with a stomach that’s cramping or feel your food coming up during your run. If it is oatmeal you have every morning, have oatmeal the morning of your race.

If you’re nervous about running a new route: don’t sweat it. The organization usually make the route known so you can cover the route beforehand. You can go check it out to get familiar with it, or, if you know the area, you can just check it online to see where you’ll be at what distance. I know from experience that it can be a bit daunting when you’re running and you have no idea how far into the route you are. Checking the route beforehand can solve that problem for you. There usually are markers alongside the route as well. Another option is a running watch, this is the more expensive option, but I promise you once you get one you’ll never want to go back again!

Last but not least, stop stressing. If you’ve trained well try to relax a bit. A week before the race there’s nothing you can really do to prepare better. The time to train for a distance is not the week before race-day. Try to enjoy the process. The events itself, you’ll see for yourself, are filled with positivity from the community! You’ll find tons of strangers cheering you on, feeding you, and giving you water. It is so much fun and you’ll only impact your own experience if you don’t try to take it in and enjoy it.

 

Divider

March Recap ’17 | Cat Antics and the Movies

04/04/2017 | 0 Comments

I’m going to warn you in advance, this recap will be filled with kitten spam. I take way too many pictures as it is and hardly share them online, so I will use my monthly recap posts to unleash them upon all you unsuspecting readers. What I love most about these monthly recaps is that at first the month in question seems so boring and normal, but when you think about it there are tons of small things that stood out and you can tell about!

Mid-March I had midterms, which isn’t all that extraordinary, but during my midterms the rumor spread that Emma Watson was supposedly in Leiden filming the BBC show the Miniaturist. The Rapenburg was closed down and off-limits fo two days and the whole city was in an uproar about it. The Dutch film company that filmed there firmly denied Emma Watson ever having been there, so who knows. Maybe she was here, maybe she wasn’t. I had exams anyway, so no time to gawk where they were filming, haha.

The Song Rising is out in stores! Doesn’t Fury look adorable next to that beautiful stack of books? I love that Bloomsbury released a limited edition that fits the original books as well (instead of the new cover designs) because I get so annoyed when my books don’t match. I do think a reread is in order though… It’s been a while since I  read the first two books and the details have become a bit blurry. So The Song Rising has to wait a bit. Have any of you read it already?

Something that also happened this month: Beauty & the Beast! I was so pumped to see the movie and finally watching it was perfect. The cast was so damn good! The little extra backstory they gave the characters, the songs, just everything… I have so much love for this movie and I need to see it again, stat.

Fury and I took a little walk outside and it was adorable. He was so curious and a bit hesitant, after a while he started chasing flies. I live on the fifth floor, so he normally stays inside, but on the weekends I usually visit my parents and they have a huge garden. Perfect for little Fury to explore the outside world.

I haven’t read much besides thesis related books, but am already working hard on April (finished my first book already)! I am also working on a more regular post schedule for the blog. AND I started bullet journaling, maybe I’ll share a few pages with you in the next recap!

How did March treat you?

Divider

Rock Chick Reawakening by Kristen Ashley | Book Review

09/03/2017 | 1 Comment

Rock Chick Reawakening by Kristen Ashley | Book ReviewRock Chick Reawakening by Kristen Ashley
Series: Rock Chick #0.5
Published by Self Published on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance
Pages: 120
Format: Ebook
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

From New York Times bestselling author, Kristen Ashley, comes the long-awaited story of Daisy and Marcus, Rock Chick Reawakening. A prequel to Kristen’s Rock Chick series, Rock Chick Reawakening shares the tale of the devastating event that nearly broke Daisy, an event that set Marcus Sloane—one of Denver’s most respected businessmen and one of the Denver underground’s most feared crime bosses—into finally making his move to win the heart of the woman who stole his.

What I thought

Rock Chick Reawakening was a treat! I have been a fan of the Rock Chick books since I discovered Kristen Ashley two years ago (I am so damn late to the party it isn’t even funny) and fell in love with her sassy writing style. Yes, the formula for all of the books in the series is pretty much the same, but sometimes you just need to read a story that will make you believe that fairytales do exist, and the Rock Chick books are just that type of story.

If you’ve read the other books in the Rock Chick series then you’ll be familiar with Daisy. You’ll know she got her happily ever after, after some not so fun times. However, the other books never really went into detail about what those ‘not so fun times’ were, I mean we all had a pretty solid idea of what happened to her, but Rock Chick Reawakening tells the story of Daisy before she met Marcus.

My heart bled for her, as much as my heart bled throughout Sadie’s story. Her story was incredibly hard to take, but what I loved about Rock Chick Reawakening is that, yes it deals with something horrible, but more than anything it focusses on healing. The heavy didn’t overpower the story, it stays a fun and light read regardless of some of the heavy themes. As any of Kristen Ashley’s Rock Chick stories, it focusses on love and healing, and boy did she do a good job, again.

Marcus, on paper, is a bad guy, but it is hard to see him as JUST a bad guy. And although his actions can be bad, he did do a lot of good as well, and it was obvious how much he loved Daisy. As every Kristen Ashley book preaches: not everything is black and white, there’s gray in the middle too.

I loved Rock Chick Reawakening, it was a treat from beginning to end. I teared up, I laughed (believe me, laughing is a given with any book Kristen Ashley has written), and I blushed my way through this book. It was a true rock chick book, with a true rock chick ending.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!For every fan of Kristen Ashley’s writing, Rock Chick Reawakening will be a treat. Daisy and Marcus’s story make for a wonderful addition to the rest of the books and you’ll love learning about how their romance came to be. If you’re looking for a fun and touching story that packs a punch, don’t look any further.

 

four-stars
Divider

By Your Side by Kasie West | Book Review

06/03/2017 | 0 Comments

By Your Side by Kasie West | Book ReviewBy Your Side by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance
Pages: 346
Format: Ebook
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-half-stars

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

What I thoughtBy Your Side is pure sweetness! Kasie West has once again written an outstanding and magical love story! I do have to admit that I was a bit skeptic at first. Going into this story I expected it to be a tad surrealistic, because how on earth would NO ONE realize that someone (beloved daughter, best friend, whatever) was missing. The whole concept just seemed a little surreal to me. BUT: I should have known not to worry because we’re talking about Kasie West here: queen of contemporary writing!

By Your Side starts off incredibly cute (and a bit of a cliché): boy and girl get trapped in a library for three days in the middle of winter. Initially, they don’t really want anything to do with each other, but then, unavoidably, feelings slowly start blooming between them. And that’s where the cliche’s end. Which, obviously, I am not going to tell you anything about because I don’t want to spoil anything for you.

I loved the slowly blooming romance between the two and you can’t help but root for them along the way. Kasie West takes it slow and it gives Autumn and Dax a chance to fall in love with each other beyond the physical attraction. There’s fluff, there’s adorableness, there are moments to swoon at. Totally loved Autumn and Dax together.

Now the big question: does By Your Side go beyond the romance? Does it have depth? I am so glad you asked: YES, It does! Autumn suffers from anxiety attacks and Kasie West has tackled this disorder so well, while still sticking to the light and fluffy feeling that you expect from any contemporary read. I won’t share too much about Dax because I think telling you too much will become spoiler-y. I promise you though that his character has plenty of depth as well. Final verdict IRISJEXX!

By Your Side is a fluffy read with a deeper underlying meaning to it. Highly recommend this read to anyone that wants a cute and fluffy read, but wants a little something ‘more’ added to the story.

four-half-stars
Divider