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  • Review: Sterrenjager – Jen Minkman

    Review: Sterrenjager – Jen Minkman
    Genre: Young Adult
    Uitgever: Hamley Books
    ISBN: 9789464510522
    Uitvoering: Hardcover
    Aantal pagina’s: 377
    Uitgave: Juni 2022

    Hartelijk dank aan Uitgeverij Hamley Books voor het beschikbaar stellen van het recensie-exemplaar in ruil voor mijn eerlijke mening.

    Screenshot_20220701-122809~2

    Flaptekst:
    Berry woont met haar tweelingbroer en opa op het eiland Jersey. Berry en haar broer Ozan schrijven een bekend blog over bovennatuurlijke verschijnselen. Als ze op een dag vreemde lichten boven een graancirkel waarnemen en hun opa door een ongeluk in het ziekenhuis belandt, komt hun leven in een stroomversnelling terecht. Hun familie blijkt al eeuwenlang een belangrijk geheim te bewaren… en de tijd is aangebroken het te onthullen.
    Samen met de mysterieuze Roth gaat de tweeling op weg. De tocht voert hen langs Latijnse inscripties, Tempeliers, kloosters en verborgen cryptes.
    Naarmate de tocht vordert en vijanden hen achtervolgen, voelt Berry de druk steeds verder toenemen. Want dit keer zijn ze niet alleen op zoek naar spannende verhalen of mysterieuze schatten. Dit keer gaat het om een strijd tussen licht en duisternis, om de toekomst van de mensheid zelf.

    De cover van dit boek wekte gelijk mijn nieuwsgierigheid, de kleuren zijn werkelijk erg mooi en het lettertype is echt mijn ding, de wit gouden veren lieten me gelijk afvragen wat die met het verhaal te doen zouden hebben en gaven me een beetje de vibe van de Fallen serie waar ik echt verzot op was jaren geleden…dit was een boek dat ik gewoon echt wou lezen dus.

    Het verhaal is op een hele fijne manier geschreven, wat zoals altijd is met de schrijfstijl van Jen Minkman. Ik hou van haar manier van schrijven, het is vloeiend, beeldend en neemt je als lezer al snel mee de wereld van het boek in. De personages zijn ieder op zich goed neergezet en ik vond het onwijs goed gedaan ook. Er had van mij wel iets meer actie in gemogen qua de verhaallijn, maar het was ook weer niet zo dat dat een extreem missend iets was tijdens het lezen, het was meer iets dat ik persoonlijk er meer in had verwacht.

    Ik vond het echt een leuk verhaal om te lezen en kon me goed inleven in de karakters en wat zij meemaakten en ik begon naarmate ik verder kwam in het verhaal ook te begrijpen waar ik de Fallen serie vibes nou door kreeg. Ik vond het ook erg leuk om te lezen hoeveel moeite Jen in het boek heeft gestopt met de historie te verweven met fictie. En ja ik ben inderdaad ontzettend nieuwsgierig geworden naar de plaatsen waar ze zijn geweest. Sowieso heb ik altijd al wel een interesse gehad naar de Tempeliers en ik heb ook helemaal zin door dit boek gekregen om het boek dat ik daarover heb binnenkort als we hier in een wat rustiger vaarwater zitten erbij te pakken en toch echt eens te gaan lezen, want ja dit verhaal maakt je er gewoon nieuwsgierig naar en al helemaal als je interesse daar toch al wat bij lag.

    Screenshot_20220701-122659~2

    Ik kan het boek dan ook zeker aanraden om te gaan lezen, Jen kan ontzettend goed schrijven en haar verhalen zullen je even het hier en nu doen vergeten. Wat soms gewoon zo ontzettend fijn kan zijn.

    Cover: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Vertelling: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Originaliteit: 🌟🌟🌟1/2
    Verhaal: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Lettertype: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Papiergeur: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

    Happy reading!

    Liefs,

    Bren

  • The Write Stuff #1: It begins with and end

    The Write Stuff #1: It begins with and end

    Hello everyone and welcome to a new series of blogs that I’d like to call The Write Stuff. It’s been way too long since I’ve written anything about writing and I thought it was high time now that I’m working on a new scifi series set in the same universe as my published trilogy The Shaedon Resurgence! So, what is all this about then? Well, writing of course with a focus on my methods and what works best for me. Which has always been my preferred method of writing blogs. I know different things work for different people and that’s why I think it’s important to add this little caveat at the start of this blog, so people won’t tell me my methods are rubbish (which they probably are, but somehow I manage). In this first blog I want to focus on what I always do when I start a story and perhaps this might sound counterintuitive to you, but to me it makes perfect sense. I always begin with an end!

    The Write Stuff #1

    Why the end?

    Well, in order for me to tell a good story, I want to know where I’m headed towards. I often hear there’s a theory about two types of writers: Plotters and Pantsers. The difference between the two is that Plotters like to plot out their entire story, before beginning their work. Pantsers on the other hand are people who just sit down (presumably with their pants on) and just start writing and see where their imagination takes them. For me, that method doesn’t work, although I don’t consider myself a pure plotter either, because I never plot out the entire story, but rather take a few breaks in between, look back at the road I’ve travelled and then continue onwards, towards the ending that I already had in mind.

    So, for me it starts with an end. In order to tell a good story I just want to know my destination first and as the saying goes, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey and that’s all the bits between the very first sentence and the ending. For my trilogy I always had the big ending in mind and given that the books have been out for ages now, I think it’s safe to say that this article is not spoilerfree! If you haven’t read my novels and you still want to, I’d advise to stop reading. If you don’t care, or already know the ending, by all means continue (still at your own risk).

    Thinking of the end

    Don’t you just love a good story? Well, I most certainly do and what can really make or break a story? The end, right? The ending can really ruin a story if it’s bad. Take Mass Effect 3 for instance, pre-patch. Man, that ending was bad. Or rather, endings, since you could choose between three and that was it. There were no consequences for all your choices that you had taken over the course of the entire trilogy. It was bad. This is one of the reasons why I want to think of the ending first, because if the ending is good enough to my liking, I can start working towards it and the best thing is that you can write pretty much anything before the ending and even add a little (read a lot) of plot twists in between to throw the readers off guard.

    RΓ€z Facebook

    For my trilogy I had an “ultimate” ending, which was the ending for the final book The Xoron Redemption. At the same time I couldn’t just stop the other two books, so I had decided on a proper ending for them too. The first one would partly resolve the story arc with the discovery of the return of the Shaedon and end up with Netherea being freed, at least for now. The second one would end with RΓ€z destroying an entire planet, so he could redeem himself in the last book. I also had in mind that two of the main characters, RΓ€z and Grummus would find each other in the first book, be torn apart in the second and rejoin forces in the final book. I always saw them as two sides of the same coin. Two guys who had vastly different philosophies of life, but ultimately needed each other, exactly because of how their views differed.

    Of course, coming up with a good ending isn’t really that easy. It involves a lot of thinking. Writing down ideas, thinking about the setting of your story. Is it a scifi, or a fantasy story, or is it set in this time, the future, history? Those are things you probably already considered when you knew you were going to write a story. You probably also have a rough idea of what kind of story you want to tell. In my case it’s easy, it’s just another boring ol’ quest type of story. Stories that have been done to death, but then again, what hasn’t been? It’s how you tell your story that makes all the difference and that’s what your focus should be on. And if you agreed with my theory that an end can ruin a story, then you better come up with a good ending first.

    Yeah, great, but how do I come up with a good ending then?

    If you have the luxury of knowing someone who you can use as a sounding board, please make use of them! But first, make sure they’re going to be absolutely 100% honest with you. If your story idea sucks, then they should be the first one to tell you, and not jump on the band wagon telling you everything is great, because bad shit and mediocrity comes from sounding boards who are actually Yes-people. Pitch your idea for an end to them and wait for their initial reaction. It really doesn’t matter how the rest of the story goes in this stadium of your novel writing. Just give them some basic info about your story and tell them how it’s going to end. Yes, they will be spoiled for your story, but that’s what sounding boards are for.

    cover_the_zar_aranos_deception_FINAL_PRINT_no_text

    For me, personally, I have to do a lot of thinking about how I want a story to end. So, yes, it takes time. It’s not a matter of seconds, it can take weeks, months even before I’m satisfied with the ending for my story. Sometimes the ending needs a lot of reshaping and the final ending is nowhere near what I originally had in mind. This was the case for my second novel The Zar’aranos Deception. You generally have a lot of creative freedom when you’re writing the middle part of a trilogy, but you’ll still need an ending to set up the story for the final part. The story arcs’ endings for a couple of characters in it ended up being totally different from what I originally intended.

    What’s most important is that the ending is something you’d love to see in a story, but haven’t seen before. It can be surprising, shocking, sombre, or any other words that starts with an s, obviously. But, as I said, make it an ending that feels worthwhile to you. It’s your story, make it your own!

    Okay, so you have the end and then what?

    This is where the fun begins, because now you have to think about where your story starts! And that’s something I’ll focus on in the next instalment of The Write Stuff. I hope you liked this little bit of insight into my writing style. It might be completely different from what you know, or what’s considered a “best practice”, but this is what I do and what feels right for me. I love telling a good story, I also love writing non-fiction, although I haven’t taken the time to write a non-fiction book yet. One day I will and it’s going to be awesome. I even have a title for it, so it has got to be written some day! But for now my focus is on my Kevar novels. I really hope to reveal more about them as time progresses. I will translate the manuscript to Dutch myself, so I know nothing will be lost in translation. So it’s sort of going to be a double whammy, them being my first new scifi novels in some time and also translating my own work. But I’m really psyched about them and now that I’ve finished this article, I can’t wait to continue reporting my characters’ adventures in the Perussan Empire and its neighbouring country Helianthica!

    Happy writing!

    Jeffrey

  • Review: Wolventijd – Lysander Mazee

    Review: Wolventijd – Lysander Mazee
    Genre: Young Adult
    Uitgever: Dutch Venture Publishing
    ISBN: 9789493265165
    Uitvoering: Paperback
    Aantal pagina’s: 328
    Uitgave: mei 2022

    Hartelijk dank aan Uitgeverij Dutch Venture Publishing voor het beschikbaar stellen van het recensie-exemplaar in ruil voor mijn eerlijke mening.

    Wolventijd Kaft

    Flaptekst:
    Ijshockeyer Auke weet niet wat hem overkomt als hij na afloop van een wedstrijd in Trondheim samen met zijn Noorse rivaal Sindre door mysterieuze krijgers duizend jaar terug in de tijd wordt gebracht. Auke en Sindre blijken te zijn ontvoerd om het leger van Vikinghoofdman Helgason te versterken. Die leidt veelbelovende rekruten op tot ΓΊlfhednar,  legendarische wolvenkrijgers, om de heidense manier van leven te bewaren in een veranderende wereld.
    Maar Heimars zus HeidrΓΊn, meesteres van de taboemagie Seidr, heeft een andere bestemming voor Auke: een die zijn ondergang betekend, als hij niet oppast.

    Allereerst die cover van het boek, want omg mensen, kijk dan hoe onwijs mooi. Dit was ook de eerste reden waarom ik dit boek zo graag wou lezen, zo verliefd op de cover gewoon, helemaal mijn soort stijl. Dat maakte me zo nieuwsgierig naar het verhaal en toen ik de flaptekst las was ik helemaal om, dit boek moest ik gewoon lezen! Dus ben ik mezelf heerlijk gaan innestelen op de bank met een warme kop thee en dit boek. Heeft het mij daarna ook gebracht wat ik ervan verwachte?

    Zeker weten! Wat een tof verhaal is dit zeg! Het verhaal zat eerst wat rommelig in elkaar leek het voor mij, maar dat lag denk ik meer aan mijzelf dan aan de schrijver, want al snel zat ik volledig in het boek en wou ik het niet meer wegleggen. Vanaf het begin had ik gelijk al een zwak voor een van de hoofdpersonages, Auke, want wat is hij mysterieus en wat leek hij me een ontzettende lieverd ook, ondanks zijn toch soms ook wel wat bravoure. Maar dat hoort natuurlijk ook wel bij die leeftijd weer. Een ieder die mij een beetje kent weet dat ik gek ben op geschiedenis, mythes en hekserij. Dat laatste is natuurlijk ook echt mijn manier van leven en in dit boek gaat het dan ook nog eens over de hekserij waar ik zo graag meer over wil leren (en ook aan het doen ben door boeken te lezen erover etc.) namelijk Seidr, de Noorse hekserij van lang, lang geleden. Er komen runen in het boek voor, wijze vrouwen die deze verboden magie beoefenen en Vikingen…Hoeveel wil je nog meer? Ja, okay een goed verhaal, maar dat zit met dit boek wel goed. Ook vond ik het onwijs mooi om de groei van Auke mee te maken in het boek, want dat is zo gaaf gewoon.

    Wolventijd Banner

    De rode draad in dit verhaal is toch ook echt wel dat een van de hoofdpersonages een trans persoon is, dat vind ik zo ontzettend goed geschreven. Dat gevecht met zichzelf, de acceptatie of die er wel is of niet, maar ook dat intens trieste gevoel wat ik soms kreeg omdat hij het zichzelf niet waard leek te vinden om van gehouden te worden. Dat is een van de meest verschrikkelijke gevoelens die je kan hebben als mens, dus mijn hart brak tijdens het lezen ervan. Toch groeit ook dat allemaal met de personages en het verhaal mee in dit boek en dat is echt zo gaaf om te lezen. Het is een boek boordevol actie, avontuur, magie, vriendschap, vertrouwen, verraad, maar ook zeker is er liefde in het boek terug te vinden. En dat alles samen maakt het zo’n vet verhaal gewoon! Ik denk dat ik dit boek zeker nog eens zal gaan lezen.  En het krijgt ook zeker een mooie plek in mijn kast bij mijn fictieve boeken over hekserij. Want dat plekje verdient dit boek echt wel. Ik heb werkelijk genoten van dit verhaal, het zit echt zo goed in elkaar en ik hoop dan ook echt dat er meer van dit soort verhalen (en als het kan ook in de tijd waar het in afspeelt) op de boekenmarkt zullen komen. Want het is best alweer een tijd geleden dat ik kon zeggen dat ik absoluut van een Young Adult boek heb kunnen genieten met lezen. Dus hou jij van een ijzersterk, avontuurlijk, spannend, goed en meelevend verhaal vol magie en meer, dan is dit het boek dat jij absoluut in huis moet hebben. En ik wens je dan ook onwijs veel leesplezier alvast!

    Cover: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Vertelling: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Originaliteit: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2
    Verhaal: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2
    Lettertype: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Papiergeur: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2
    Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2

    Happy reading!

    Liefs,

    Bren

  • Monday Musings, Week 22, 2022

    Monday Musings, Week 22, 2022

    May is nearly done and I just had a lovely long weekend, full of relaxation and quality time with friends. I had Thursday and Friday to myself, which ended up being two relaxing days spent playing videogames, watching some series and a movie. Saturday was all about quality time with friends and yesterday just taking it easy with Bren. All in all, some much needed time to recharge my battery. As you may have noticed I did write a bit of content last week and this week, I aim to bring some more blogs for your reading pleasure!

    Monday Musings 22

    On Writing

    Last week I didn’t get much writing in, except for some blogs, but this week I’m going to redouble my efforts. I’ve plotted three more chapters ahead for my novel and I plan to share some of my plotting knowledge this week, using examples from my trilogy, to avoid spoiling my new story. I hope to finish one new chapter this week and keep on plotting forward.

    Keyboard

    On Reading

    Seeing as my credits with Audible have reached zero and I put my account on hold for a couple of months, I can’t listen to audiobooks at the moment and I really miss that. But my subscription should restart soon and then I’ll make full use of it again.

    I’m nearly finished with my second read ofΒ Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and I do intend to write a bunch of blogs about it, including a review, but also a few key lessons I draw from this ancient Roman Emperor. It’s truly astonishing how relevant most of what was written centuries ago is still relevant to our struggles as Human beings in this modern day. Of course, a lot has changed, but Human nature, not so much. And it’s exactly the reason why it’s such a timeless classic.

    On Gaming

    I spent hours playingΒ Hyrule Warriors Definitive Editions last week and am on 60% completion of the Master Quest map now. After this map, I’m going to put the game back in the freezer for a moment, because I think I’ve had my fill for now. One day I hope to 100% this game, but it takes a lot of hours to do that and when a game starts to feel like work, that’s when you should call it quits, at least for the moment. Plus there’s plenty of other games to play!

    I’m also well under way with myΒ Super Metroid run and hope to finish the game soon, so I can write a retro review for it. It definitely is a great game and I’m really sad I never got to play it as a kid. I’m not even sure if it was sold here, or I might just have never known how awesome it really was back in the day.

    Upcoming blogs

    So, as I said, there’s plenty for me to write about, but finally I’m going to get around to something about a thing I do:Β writing. Besides that, plenty of upcoming reviews, and stoicism related blogs after I finishΒ Meditations.

    I hope you’re all going to have a great week!

    Happy Monday!

    Jeffrey

  • Review: Hamley in het pretpark – Sandra J. Paul

    Genre: Jeugd
    Uitgever: Hamley Books
    ISBN: 9789464510065
    Uitvoering: Hardcover
    Aantal pagina’s: 94
    Uitgave: 28 april 2022

    Hartelijk dank aan Uitgeverij Hamley Books voor het beschikbaar stellen van het recensie-exemplaar in ruil voor mijn eerlijke mening.

    Hamley in het pretpark

    Flaptekst:
    Hamley hoort op een dag Viola en haar ouders praten over een uitstap naar het pretpark. Ook de honden Kasper en Kamiel mogen mee.
    Hamley reist stiekem met haar baasjes en haar hondenvrienden mee. In het pretpark geniet ze met volle teugen van haar nieuwe avontuur, tot ze plots haar baasjes kwijtraakt. Hoe geraakt ze nu nog thuis?

    En daar was dan alweer het derde boek over het avontuurlijke en schattige zwarte katje Hamley. Een heerlijke jeugdserie, die eigenlijk ieder kind gewoon moet lezen als je dat nog niet gedaan hebt. Ook dit boekje zit weer boordevol kattig avontuur en wat was het weer genieten om met Hamley mee op stap te mogen. De schrijfstijl van Sandra J. Paul heeft mij jaren geleden al voor zich weten te winnen, want wat kan deze schrijver ontzettend goed schrijven en niet alleen dat, ze is ook echt een manusje van alles, want ze schrijft voor ieder wat wils. Zoals dus inderdaad deze serie over dit geweldige katje. Ik ben verliefd op het beestje, eerlijk waar. Want wat is ze heerlijk eigenwijs en avontuurlijk, precies zoals je van een kitten verwacht. In dit verhaal maakt ze het stiekem wel heel erg bont door zomaar tegen iedereens waarschuwing in achter haar baasjes en hondenvrienden aan naar het Pretpark te gaan…Want laten we eerlijk wezen, iedereen weet dat dat niet bepaald de meest veilige plek voor een kat is, laat staan een kitten.
    Maar Hamley zou haarzelf niet zijn als ze het er waanzinnig naar haar zin zou hebben en oprecht kan genieten, maar dat houdt op een gegeven moment toch op…want na een tijdje raakt ze haar baasjes en haar hondenvriendjes kwijt in het park en weet ze totaal niet hoe nu nog thuis te komen…Zomaar aan de honden die daar lopen de weg vragen blijkt ook al geen succes, het zijn namelijk niet zulke lieve dierenΒ  naar katten toe als dat Kamiel en Kasper dat zijn. Gaat het Hamley lukken om zich ook uit deze penarie weten te redden?

    Hamley Blogtour

    Cover: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Vertelling: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Originaliteit: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Verhaal: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Lettertype: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Papiergeur: 🌟🌟🌟1/2
    Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

    Happy reading!

    Liefs,

    Bren

  • Why It Matters To Set Your Own Social Limits

    Why It Matters To Set Your Own Social Limits

    March, 2020, it was the start of the Corona Pandemic here in the Netherlands. A week prior to the lockdown measures were in place I was already home with a burn-out. Years of built up stress and always giving in to social pressure from people got me in this position. It was one of the worst ways I ever felt mentally and something I don’t care to repeat any time soon.

    Saying “No” and why it matters

    People often say that burn-outs are a lifechanging event and this is also very true for me. I’ve learned to say “No” more often, but people don’t always willingly accept my honesty, nor do they seem to fully understand my position. Both are not a problem I can really deal with, because I am not responsible for the opinions of others. But I am always willing to answer their questions about why I choose not to. If after that people still don’t understand, it is probably a lack of empathy, or inability to comprehend why some people can’t always indulge you.

    Why it matters to set your own social limits

    By nature, I’m a people pleaser and this group of people is prone to put the needs of others in front of their own. This is what I used to do for years, until my burn-out. Then things changed and I finally understood how much stress comes from not putting your own needs first. The axiom “To be there for others, you first need to be there for yourself.” comes to mind.

    When I used to go to parties, I’d often have a lot of trouble focussing on conversations and choosing which to take part in. There was just too much going on around me for me to focus on. This meant that social gatherings would leave me exhausted, because there were so many impressions. In a way I was thankful for the Corona pandemic, because this meant that pretty much all social gatherings were effectively cancelled and I really started enjoying the calm and lack of social pressure. So much, in fact that I finally understood that at heart, I’m really an introvert and needed to start reevaluating how I used to go about my business. In other words, I needed to say “No” more often, because of how exhausting social gatherings with larger groups of people are. It matters to do this, because otherwise you’ll risk another burn-out, because you overexert yourself. It matters, because the only one who can truly look after your needs is you, because only you know what your needs truly are.

    Dealing with the disappointment of others

    Saying “No” will inevitably lead to disappointment in people who invite you to a social gathering. This is why it’s so hard to say “No” in the first place, you don’t want to disappoint anyone. Always remember that whenever you don’t want to disappoint someone else, you are disappointingΒ yourself. And then choose which is worse, accordingly.

    But how then, do I deal with this disappointment? Well, for one, I always try to appeal to the person’s understanding of my situation. I understand that they want me to be there, because I’m important enough for them to invite me, but I’ve learned that I need to choose my “battles” so to speak. The thing is that you can’t really change the way someone feels if you say “No” and it’s something for them to deal with, after you’ve explained everything and answered all their questions. So keeping an open dialogue is key in dealing with this.

    Marcus Aurelius 1

    Of course, the disappointment often reflects on yourself as well, because you still have to deal with it, because it might make you feel bad. Still, as I explained above, after everything has been said and done, you can’t really do much else. You are not responsible for the thoughts and opinions of others and as such, it won’t be productive to dwell on this long. What you can do is change your opinion about their disappointment, that really is the only thing you are responsible for at this point. This is the Stoic mindset I try to maintain during these situations. It’s never easy, but certainly gives me peace of mind in the end.

    Conclusion

    Extroverts might not be as influenced by social gatherings as introverts in terms of how much energy it costs them to go somewhere. In fact, I think they might even gain energy from being outgoing. For me, as an introvert however the opposite is true. When I go to a party, I need at least a day to recover and regain my energy. This means I have to set my limits, for my own sake and choosing for yourself, especially when others don’t is a must if you want to live a happy and fulfilling life on your own terms, and that’s what I’ve been doing these past few years. It is quite liberating, even though not everyone can appreciate it, but that is something for them to deal with. I don’t love them any less, I just live differently from what I used to.

    Stay safe and healthy!

    Jeffrey

  • What It’s Like Living With A Witch

    What It’s Like Living With A Witch

    Hello everyone, Jeffrey here! Today I’d like to share some of my experience of living with an actual, green witch with you! As most of you know, Bren is a traditional green witch and we have been living together for over three years now.Β  We hear a lot of questions of people who are curious what my experience is and well, here we are. But before I tell you what it’s actually like, I think a little bit of an introduction is in order.

    How I met my witchy girlfriend

    Some of you might know that I’m the writer of a scifi trilogy calledΒ The Shaedon Resurgence and my books were published by Celtica Publishing. At the time I was contributing to their newsletter and I did quite a few interviews with bloggers. Bren’s name had come up a few times and I decided to send her a chat message on Facebook, but I didn’t really know if she was actually a blogger, or not. One thing led to another and before we knew it, we were chattingΒ a lot, after a strange initial one month silence between us. I’ll save the entire origin story of our relationship for a novel, but this is the basic story. We met through Facebook and ended up falling in love when we finally met each other in August of 2018.

    Moving in and moving on

    At the end of 2018 I asked Bren if she wanted to move in with me and she eventually said:”Yes.” It was quite early, after we had only been together for three months, but it just felt good, we were both adults and if things wouldn’t work out, we’d both have a relatively easy way out, without much consequence. It turned out that things worked out very well and we’re even engaged to be married now! But I digress, when Bren first moved in, I didn’t really know she was a witch (and she had been since she was 13 years old!). It was not like she was keeping this big secret and would come out of the (broom)closet one day, as more people do, but she was a bit afraid, because I am a huge science nut. I was a bit more adamant about how I am a firm believer in the scientific method back then, but I also admitted that I believed that there’s more to life than what science tells us. We’re basically little more than evolved apes and our monkey brains really can’t grasp everything we see. I’ve always said that I believe there might be more than we can see through our senses and I have an open mind towards everything. At the same time, I’m also a skeptic and I love to question everything. I suppose in hindsight this might have been a bit intimidating to Bren, but as we spent more time together she finally opened up more and more. She slowly started introducing little things in the house and some day, we had a little altar in our living room. I didn’t even realise it was a small altar and just thought Bren was addicted to burning candles.

    Candle

    I think where I differ with most other guys is what I said earlier, I have an open mind and I’m naturally curious about all kinds of things, so I never forbade Bren to do anything she wanted. I was simply curious what she would introduce next. Looking back I think it’s exactly because she was so gradually introducing me to her lifestyle that I wasn’t overwhelmed, or even shocked that she told me she was a witch. Maybe it was one of those classic moments where a child tells their parents that they’re gay and everyone is like: “Yeah, we already knew that.” I’m not really sure when it was exactly that Bren actually used the term Witch to describe herself, but to me she was still just the same person. In fact, I only loved her more for being so open about it, and ultimately it also got me interested.

    What got me interested in witchcraft

    Bren told me a lot of people are interested in what got me into witchcraft, or in what capacity I’m a witch, or am not. Well, it’s complicated… I don’t necessarily call myself a witch, in fact I like to call myself a Modern Day Stoic. What’s nice about Stoicism (please note the capital S) is that those old dudes in Greece/Rome back in the day were all about living in accordance with nature. Sure, they may have meant Human nature when referring to nature, but Bren, as a Traditional Green Witch is also living in accordance, or harmony with nature. I brought this up recently and I think this is one of the main reasons why we go together so well. Our approach may differ, but ultimately our goals are aligned.

    Altar

    So, I don’t call myself a Witch, who knows, I might some day, but I don’t really want to label myself as a person too much (although I realise I do, by calling myself a Stoic). Bren introduced me to a whole lot of things, starting with all of the Pagan festivals. What I really love about all of these is the mindfulness part of them. Doing things in the moment and putting effort into the rituals can really help guide you through the year and what’s more is that these happen to align with my own practice of making annual goals and how I approach every year. We have celebrated every festival and Bren invited me to participate in them as well, first I was mostly just an observer, but the more we celebrate them, the more I try to be prepared and mindful about them. I intend to start writing about all of them as well, explaining how I experience them from what I hope is a unique perspective to others, who are more ingrained in pagan/witchcraft practices than me.

    And what shies me away from it…Β 

    The parts I’m not that interested in are rooted in beliefs that are closer to religion (mainly Wicca practices) and superstition, and I’m glad Bren is not a religious person either. I don’t really believe in things such as bad luck, good fortune and curses. This is where my Stoic foundation takes over for me and one of my main principles that it is not the things that happen are good or bad, but our interpretation of them make them good or bad. I see a lot of what comes on my path as an opportunity to learn and grow and while a lot of people might consider some of the things that happened to me were bad, I tend to see the side where I came out on top in the end. A prime example is my burn-out, which was initially hard, but ultimately gave me the opportunity to grow and become more vocal about my own feelings.

    Every day a moment to learn

    What I love about my relationship with Bren is that every day gives us the opportunity to learn and grow. We are each other’s biggest supporters and each of our unique experiences and philosophies of life give us a different perspective on things. I’m very proud of how much Bren has grown over these three and a half years of our relationship and seeing her grow.

    When our relationship started Bren was already a book dragon, but she was mostly into fiction reading. This took a turn over the past year and now we both read a lot more non-fiction than fiction. What I love about this is that whenever Bren learns something new from the books she reads, she shares it with me and vice versa. I think one of our biggest mottos is that you never should stop learning, because this is how you keep evolving and reinventing yourself to become the best possible version of yourself that you can be.

    And they lived happily ever after…

    Not many guys can say that they’re (going to be) married to a witch and that every day they come back from work the witch is already waiting for them on her chair. I suppose I’m truly living in a fairy tale and I’m loving every moment of it!

    They lived happily ever after

    Of course, we can imagine that you guys have plenty of questions, so please feel free to ask them and we’ll bundle them up into a sort of Q&A! And answer your questions in an upcoming blog! πŸ™‚

    Much magical love,

    Jeffrey

  • Monday Musings, Week 18, 2022

    Monday Musings, Week 18, 2022

    It’s May! That means we’re already one third of the way through this year and I can’t remember the last time I was so positive about life, where I currently am and what’s next for Bren and me. Her shop is starting to get noticed and it’s so awesome to see it slowly becoming the success it deserves to be. My role as her biggest supporter and handling the more technical side of things is right where I want to be right now. And on a personal level, I’ve refound both my motivation and drive to do what I desire most, to write awesome stories and blogs about stuff that I love. So, yeah, it’s a good time for us right now!

    Monday Musings #18

    On Writing

    Last week I mentioned that I was in a bit of a rut with the direction of my writing. Last weekend I spoke with Bren about this and she asked me where my heart was really at, because I simply have too much ideas to write about and I was just wondering whether or not writing a new scifi saga was worth my time, when I feel that there’s so much cool non-fiction stuff I want to write about. But seeing as we’ve only just started our new blog and we really need to flesh that out, I’ll focus on writing non-fiction forΒ The Green Dream Blog and focus on writing these brand new Kevar novels. The thing is that although I know what kind of story I want to tell, I feel that I haven’t really fleshed out most of the ideas and this is something I’ll be solely focussing on in the coming month. I started by writing short biographies for the main characters and I want to draw a map to help myself figure out the movements of the characters and eventually to enhance the reading experience. Since this is a story that focusses on a pre-spacefaring race, with technology slightly ahead of our own, it’ll probably feel a bit more like a fantasy story, but that’s okay, because I’ve always aimed at combining aspects of both genres in theΒ Ley Lines universe.

    On Reading

    After I finished the wonderful ‘How To Think Like A Roman Emperor’ I really wanted to dive back intoΒ Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and had a look in our book case in the bedroom, where I keep all of my ancient philosophy books, but alas, I couldn’t find my copy. I was so happy when Bren handed me a copy a few days later! I really feel that I just need to re-read it and perhaps even carry this copy of the book with me at all times, just so I can pick it up wherever I am and just read a few passages from it.

    The Obstacle Is the Way

    I’ve also started reading a book that’s been on my TBR pile for a while now called “Fox & I” or “Vos & ik”, since I’m reading the Dutch translation. Another book that came recommended after my previousΒ Stoic listen wasΒ The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. So far, it seems to offer bite-sized bits of help if you’re struggling to get off your lazy arse and actually do something. I have to admit that anything afterΒ How To Think Like A Roman Emperor bleaks in comparison and I think I’m suffering from withdrawal symptoms and looking to find a new “fix” for my Stoic studies. It doesn’t really help that Ryan Holiday seems to have narrated the book while suffering from a cold, or maybe he has a very nasal voice, but I’m not entirely convinced just yet.

    On Gaming

    I’m nearly done with the second Adventure Map ofΒ Hyrule Warriors and when I am, I’ll park the game for a bit again, having had my fix of mindless slaughter. The game is still a lot of fun and can be challenging, but it also get repetitive after a while.

    Hyrule Warriors 1

    This week I’m thinking of going on with my playthrough ofΒ Axiom Verge. Although the game has had a lot of high praise, I am not down with some of the gameplay elements, mainly the grappling hook mechanics, which have caused me more frustration than I care to admit. Still, I want to finish the game and I hope it won’t be the longest journey from where I am now, but to be fair, the mechanics of a single item has really taken away a lot of gameplay joy for me.

    Upcoming blogs

    I’ll be writing more Modern Day Stoic content and I’m thinking of doing a new in-depth videogame soundtrack deepdive. And, since I’m working on my new novels, I’m going to be shedding some light on the process as well in an upcoming blog!

    Happy Monday!

    Jeffrey

  • Review: How To Think Like A Roman Emperor β€” Donald Robertson

    Review: How To Think Like A Roman Emperor β€” Donald Robertson
    Genre: Non-Fiction / Philosophy / Psychology
    Publisher: MacMillan Audio / Audible
    ISBN: 9781250621436
    Edition: Audiobook
    Length: 8h 30m
    Release Date: 02-04-2019

    Summary:

    The life-changing principles of Stoicism taught through the story of its most famous proponent.

    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves stories of Marcus’ life from the Roman histories together with explanations of Stoicism – its philosophy and its psychology – to enlighten today’s listeners. He discusses Stoic techniques for coping with everyday problems, from irrational fears and bad habits to anger, pain, and illness.

    How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes listeners on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian – taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day – through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides listeners through applying the same methods to their own lives.

    Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.

    How To THink Like a Roman Emperor

    When I was a young boy I’d often look to the stars and how much I’d love to be among them, exploring our galaxy and marvelling at the grandness of it all. These days when I do, I still get that feeling of awe, but I also realise just how insignificant we all are in the grand scheme of things. We are only here for a short period of time, not even a speck, but during that time we have to find our way in life and we are inevitably led to question ourselves. One of the most important questions being: What is the meaning of life? When I was younger, I never really bothered much with religion, or philosophy, but as I grew older there was one direction I’d look to for guidance and that is the Stoic school of philosophy. I started this journey reading one of the most beloved books from perhaps the most widely known Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius and hisΒ Meditations. One of the most amazing things about the books of the Stoics is that they’re still relevant to this day, because those dudes really knew their stuff, as it turns out. When I ran into this book onΒ Audible I decided to buy it and see if there was anything new under the sun and as it turned out, there was.

    One of the most amazing things about this book is that it’s part history lesson, part philosophy and part practical. With the latter I mean that Donald Robertson manages to convert the Stoic ideas into practical help in the modern day and age. One of the most notable things is that many of the Stoic ideas are used in modern psychotherapy, known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or C.B.T.) and that many of their ideas on how to live life and especially how to deal with our emotions and hardships, can really make you one tough cookie. This is my main reason for calling myself a Modern Day Stoic. Adopting all these ideas and applying them to my own life has allowed me to deal with a lot of problems without letting my emotions guide me, but taking on a much more reserved stance and allowing me to tackle my problems by remaining calm and reserved. This book manages to explain plainly how to do this yourself. I also learned quite a few new things myself from this book and that was something I hadn’t expected when I started listening to it.

    Every chapter starts off with a lesson in history, in which we learn a lot about the life of Marcus Aurelius. He most certainly didn’t have the easiest life and had to fight on several fronts throughout his life. Not only actual battlefronts, but also mental ones. TheΒ Meditations don’t convey much about the actual history behind its story and are much more about how Marcus dealt with his hardships and contains a motherlode of useful advice, which he wrote mostly to himself, hence the title, but they are widely applicable to all of our lives, even to this day!

    You don’t need to have read theΒ Meditations in order to enjoy this book, in fact, it might even be best to read this book first, so you already have some prior knowledge about Marcus Aurelius before you dive into his actual work. I am currently re-readingΒ Meditations right after I finished this book and thus far I’ve found an even greater appreciation of it, after having read this book.

    Whether you’re new to Stoic philosophy, or already know a thing or two, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s absolutely vital reading if you’re looking for a good self-help book. If there’s one thing I’d have to comment on regarding this book, it’s that sometimes the author’s reading voice differed all of a sudden, as if he had taken a break and was starting a new session. But that’s really nitpicking on my part. If you want to start a journey down the path of Stoic wisdom, this is where you should start.

    Cover: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Writing style: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Content: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Originality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Reading Voice: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
    Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

    Happy Reading!

    Jeffrey

  • Monday Musings, Week 17, 2022

    Monday Musings, Week 17, 2022

    Hello everyone! Welcome to another Monday Musings! Last week I skipped this recurring blog, because I didn’t have that much to report and it turned out to be a bit of a slow week when it came to my creative endeavours. To be fair, I haven’t written a lot lately (except for blogs), because I found myself a bit conflicted in what I should spend my time on when it comes to writing and that’s something I’m going to share this week in an upcoming blog.

    Monday Musings #17

    On Writing

    As stated above, I’m in a bit of a bind at the moment. While I love novel writing I feel that maybe I should focus my time and energy on writing a non-fiction book instead. I have several ideas that I’d love to work on, one being a Modern Stoic book, something light to introduce people to attain a Stoic mindset in modern day life. At the same time, my interest in videogame music (VGM) has also surged lately and I would love to write a book about the evolution of VGM, covering the facets of the early days of videogames, to the most modern releases. And while I’m at it, I’d also love to write a book together with Bren about green living, that also includes pagan and green witchcraft practices, but from a certain perspective that includes a more scientific and mindful approach to these subjects. The problem is that I just don’t know what to focus on, but since I’m listening toΒ How To Think Like A Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson and this book is so inspiring that I started thinking about what I should spend my time on and that’s how all of this started, haha.

    On Reading

    Yes! I’m done withΒ All the Bright Places, which I read the Dutch version of and it was a very impressive book that will probably linger on for a little while in my mind. Bren recommended it to me and although the first bit was a bit of a rough start, it got better and better.

    How To THink Like a Roman Emperor

    I’m also going through the audiobook version of How To Think Like A Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson and it’s an absolute must-read for anyone interested in Stoic history and practical information on how to apply the Stoic philosophy in modern day life. Of course I already do this, but this book has definitely taught me a few new methods I plan on implementing in my life. A full review will soon be posted on this blog!

    On Gaming

    My current playthrough ofΒ This War Of Mine is going extremely well and I think I might have nearly survived for the first time. After that I’m going to try some more of theΒ Stories DLC. Overall I think this game is very well done and it’s definitely a unique experience that reminds me a lot of the board game Zombicide for some reason. The game has you play as several citizens caught in a modern civil war and you have to survive until the cease fire to win the game. It’s a really unique experience and it shows you the hardships of war seen from the viewpoint of a small group of civilians, which is an unprecedented persective in videogames, as far as I know.

    I’ve also rediscovered my love forΒ Hyrule Warriors and I’m working on finishing theΒ Great Sea map ofΒ Adventure Mode. After that I’ll probably park the game a bit again, having had my fix of hacking and slashing. At some point I’m still hoping to finish the entire game, but I’m in no hurry.

    Upcoming blogs

    This week, I hope to get back to you about how I go about deciding what to write. Bren will play a part in helping me decide, but I think this process could be interesting to share. Also, you can expect a review for How To Think Like A Roman Emperor and who knows, maybe I’ll find more inspiration for a little something extra!

    I hope you’ll all have a great week!

    Happy Monday!

    Jeffrey