Prospects & Presumptions: The Ebook

Ladies & Gents,

My 2014 novella Prospects & Presumptions is now available as an ebook. You can buy it through Amazon here.

As a special treat I’ve decided to publish an excerpt on this blog. Enjoy!

Part I: Northing Cottage

It is generally considered rude to wake people with bad news. However, like most unpleasant things, bad news usually has unpleasant timing. That is why Mr Porter came to Northing Cottage that night. He dismounted, wiped the rain from his brow and knocked on the door. Northing was a small house that could, with a great deal of cramming and good manners, lodge five people at most, and so it often did. This particular evening, however, it housed only three.

Continue reading

Dumbledore’s Army Readathon SCORE

For the first two weeks of 2017. I participated in the Dumbledore’s Army Readathon, and here’s my final score.

For the sake of clarity: “an own voices book is a book featuring a marginalised perspective, written by an author who shares the same marginalised characteristics.” says Read At Midnight.

Uncharacteristically, I read one whole book and parts of three more, because I was just that eager to get started on all of them. I’ll finish them soon though, promise.

Find out how many points I earned for Gryffindor House…

Continue reading

Goodreads Reading Challenge

I challenged myself to read 52 books in 2016 and (drumroll) I succeeded!

The longest book I read was Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire. The shortest was probably The Lady With The Pet Dog by Anton Chekhov. I read two books of poetry, one by Richard Siken and one by Alan Ginsberg. I read eleven books I would classify as Young Adult and only one play: Brecht’s Dreigroschenoper.

Here’s a top five of my favorite books I read for the first time this year.

5. Doktor Glas by Hjalmar Soderberg

4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

3. Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

2.  The Yellow Wallpaper & Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

1. Americanah by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie

My least favorite book with absolutely no competition was:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Here’s the full list of books I read in 2016:

Continue reading

Sinterklaas

If you were looking for an elaborate takedown of Zwarte Piet and its racist connotations, this isn’t it. I celebrated Sinterklaas with my family this weekend and I wanted to voice how much I love the presents I got. Of course, there’s a lot wrong with Zwarte Piet, but that’s a story for another blogpost. Today, let me just show off my awesome new stuff!

One chocolate letter J, milk chocolate

It’s a Sinterklaas tradition that children get the first letter of their name rendered in chocolate. It’s also very tasty. I remember, when I was young, that me and my friends were concerned: did some letters consist of more chocolate than others? Were you better of being named Wilhelmina than Juliana, simply because the “W” is a bigger letter? It turns out that the answer to this question is no. They just make the “J” extra thick.

The Hour season one and two on DVD
Continue reading

Mental Health Reading Challenge 2017

Hey there everyone,

As you probably know by now, I am completely obsessed with reading challenges, especially ones that encourage you to read books centered around a theme. So, this year, I’ve decided to host my own. Welcome to the Mental Health Reading Challenge, which will kick-off on January the 1st.

The aim of the challenge is to raise awareness for the complexity and difficulty of mental illness, to erase stigma and to promote understanding and support. Reading, for me, is a transformative experience. It takes me out of myself and into the experience of other people. If all of us could bring ourselves to that level of empathy, the world would be a better place. I’ve written on this topic before here.

You can sign up for the challenge by commenting on this post. Please include your name or username, the number of books you want to read, and a Goodreads profile or blog where you’ll keep track of your progress.

There are going to be different levels of reader-awesomness.

  • Read 5 books and you get one gold star
  • 6-12 books gets you two stars
  • 13-20 books gets you three stars
  • 21- 30 books = four stars
  • More than 30 books gets you five stars

To make it easier to find books you like, I’ve compiled a list of some of my personal favorites that deal with mental illness, as well as ones I haven’t read but that are widely popular. Of course, books that aren’t on this list are still admissible, as long as they feature at least one character with a mental health problem. Continue reading

National Day On Writing

Yes, you read that right. Today, October 20th, is the National Day On Writing in the US, but I have taken the liberty of celebrating this special day on the other side of the Atlantic as well. After all, I am a writer, or I try to be one. I love writing, and in this blogpost I will attempt to articulate why, and also tell you about some writers who have said or written great things about writing. It’s all very meta, which, coincidentally, is one of my favorite kinds of writing.

Ernest Hemingway has given what is perhaps my favorite advice on writing ever:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Ernest Hemingway

To me this is particularly true. If I don’t write I feel full to bursting with emotions and opinions and stories. I have to tap into the creative vein every once in a while, just to blow off steam. But there are also times that the flow of ideas seems to have dried up. Those days, I have to dig into myself deeply, sometimes so deeply that it hurts, and wait for liveliness to come back into my writing. Because that’s what writing is to me; it is the essence of life. And blood is also, in a much more literal way, the essence of life.

Continue reading

Bellamy Blake’s Bookshelf

tumblr_ntqlxsqrp31qmah7eo1_250Welcome to the Character’s Bookshelf. This is where I speculate, entirely outside of the space-time continuum and the barriers of language, what books would be a fictional character’s favorites.

Do you guys know about Bellamy Blake? DO YOU KNOW ABOUT BELLAMY? DO YOU?  Quick introduction for the uninitiated; this is our lord and savior, our most precious of cupcakes, our purest cinnamon roll: this is Bellamy Blake from The 100, and this is his bookshelf.

Note: In this specific case I have arranged the books in order of Bellamy reading them, so each one has his age at the time of reading listed in brackets.

tumblr_nfrrailsiq1r2psneo10_r1_500

The Bad Beginning (and the rest of the Series Of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket (Bellamy is nine years old)

Bellamy read these books to Octavia when both of them were little and she spent most of her time locked under the floorboards. I am absolutely sure of it. These books are about a set of super-smart siblings who deal with their misfortunes through intelligence and witticisms. Sound like anyone you know? That’s right. Sounds a lot like the Blake-siblings.

 

tumblr_nffszjkmum1qf8jkho6_r1_500

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (Bellamy is thirteen years old)

Here’s something else you didn’t know about Bellamy Blake: he’s a huge classics nerd. He named his sister Octavia. So you will never convince me that 13-year-old Bellamy didn’t totally identify with Percy Jackson, everyone’s favorite sassy teenager. Also, Percy had a totally badass sidekick in Annabeth, and Octavia is more than a little bit like her.

tumblr_nffszjkmum1qf8jkho9_r1_500

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (Bellamy is seventeen years old and hides this book form Octavia to avoid merciless teasing)

Blake is the new Darcy. If you don’t watch The 1oo you don’t know this. Also, if you don’t watch The 100 what are you reading this post for? Bellamy Blake started out as a bit of a D-bag. He was the character you loved to hate, until he suddenly revealed himself to be a precious little cinnamon roll. You can see how this is like Mr. Darcy, right? And Clarke is his Elizabeth. No one will convince me otherwise.

8d4d21487763e79fdc842adceda1196b

Atonement by Ian McEwan (Bellamy is twenty-two and feels responsible for his mother’s death)

Atonement is a book about guilt, and Bellamy’s got plenty of that. It’s also about complicated sibling relationship, something else Bell has way too much experience with. Come here, Bellamy. Let me give you hot chocolate and wrap you in cozy blankets and tell you how amazing you are.

Why are the characters with the guilt complexes always my favorites? Why is it that when Bellamy feels responsible for his mother’s death, I suddenly love him even more? Why do I always fall for the self-sacrificing fuck-ups? I don’t know, and it probably ain’t healthy, but fiction isn’t the realm of the healthy, anyway. Health and happiness don’t make for interesting plots or characters. That’s why I love Bellamy, and that’s why Bellamy loves Atonement.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (Bellamy is twenty-three and coming to terms with the violence of life on earth)

“Only after disaster can we be resurrected. It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything. Nothing is static, everything is evolving, everything is falling apart.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Now come cry with me over how badly our favorite darling Bellamy Blake needs some therapy and some uncomplicated love and friendship and some apple pie.

Bonus Feature

Bob Morley, the angel that plays our beloved Bellamy Blake, dressed up as James or Harry Potter.

Bob Morley

 

 

An Evening With Hanya Yanagihara

Last Wednesday, the 5th of October, I had the extraordinary pleasure of attending an evening with Hanya Yanagihara organized by the John Adams Institute. Some of you might remember that Yanagihara released her second novel, A Little Life, in 2015. Fewer of you know how much that novel means to me, but that’s what this blog post will explain.

I should probably have included A Little Life in my post on Books That Helped Me Through Depression, because it definitely did. The reason I didn’t is somewhat complicated. While it is true that A Little Life gives an uncompromising view of mental illness that our society needs more of. I have seen too many teenagers on Tumblr romanticizing mental illness.  But A Little Life is also a book that toes the line of melodrama and edges towards too much.

That’s not a bad thing, at least for me. Depression is too much. Depression is melodramatic. The problem with A Little Life is that some of its content is explicit enough to trigger people. Now, I really don’t think we should be putting trigger warnings on novels and neither does Yanagihara. I think we should be putting trigger warnings on pretty much everything else, but in a novel the reader agrees to let the writer pull them into their world. This can and should involve challenging the reader’s world view. If you’re easily triggered by the topic of self-harm, you should probably stay away from this book. That doesn’t mean the author has to.

 

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. What, you ask, is this book about? Why is it so incredibly great that you can’t shut up about it, Julia? A Little Life starts out as the coming-of-age of four close college friends in New York attempting to make something of themselves. But all is not as it seems. Although the book initially has a rich ensemble of characters, focus gradually shifts towards Jude, who, it turns out, has had an incredibly traumatic childhood. His three closest friends try to help him battle his demons. We, as readers, try to uncover the mysteries of his past, even as we shudder to think what they might be. Continue reading

Coffee, Anyone?

“If you could have a cup of coffee and a chat with anyone in the world, who would you pick?”

Somehow this is a standard icebreaking question that I hear a lot. So, for those of you not yet tired of my ramblings, I have compiled a list to answer that question, and I will post about one of the people on the list every now and then.

1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I love Chimamanda. Let me say that again because it bears repeating; I love Chimamanda. Her book Americanah is amongst my favorite books ever. The Thing Around Your Neck was equally spellbinding, and her essay We Should All Be Feminists, based on the TED Talk below, voices many of my thoughts on feminism. I’m saving her other two novels, Half Of A Yellow Sun and The Purple Hibiscus, for when I need to lift myself out of a reading slump. Yeah, she really is that good.  Continue reading