A little bit of everything

Hi guys,

At this point in my life I’m not very reliable. Why is this? It’s simple, really. I’m trying to figure out some stuff in life. I am currently between jobs, working very hard to secure my future, while trying to juggle everything else.

I know I’ve said I’d post something new every month but that isn’t doable right now. Instead, I will try my best to update quarterly: one post every 3 months.

Cons:

  1. Less exposure
  2. When something exciting happens it might be months before I can tell you guys
  3. ??????????????

Pros:

  1. More content
  2. Higher quality content
  3. Less effort for me
  4. Less stress
  5. Time to focus on other things, which in time may lead to more time for the blog
  6. ??????????????

 

I hope I’ll be able to keep this up. As it is, I’ve divided this blog post into several sections, for those of you who aren’t interested in everything I say.

  1. What have I been up to?
    • work – stories, articles, etc.
    • leisure – my trip to Budapest (incl. restaurant recommendation)
  2. Plans for the (near) future?
    • work – story ideas, plans, etc.
    • leisure – books, films, sport
  3. Recommendations
    • books/authors
    • music
    • films
    • tea
    • other – Duolingo app
  4. Recipe
  5. Sample of my (creative) writing – short story/poem

 

  1. What have I been up to?
    • work

Approximately 6 months ago I finished my first mystery novel. It is set in 1997 in a fictional Middle Eastern country, where a couple is found murdered. Their marriage was arranged and it’s up to Nasim to figure out what happened. He’s eager to prove himself to his superiors but leads are thin. When his boss’ daughter disappears, the focus shifts. Will he solve either case and prove himself?

I don’t think I’ve ever been this proud of anything I’ve achieved in my life. I’m currently in the process of editing it and then it’ll be off to some agents.

In the meantime, I’ve written a bunch of short stories, some of which deal with highly sensitive topics and may make people uncomfortable. If all goes well I should be able to post those sometime this year.

The first one (Cancer is a bitch and so am I) follows a woman suffering from cancer. She’s lost almost everything, lashed out at everyone in her life, and will most likely die alone.

The second focuses on Angela, a woman in a happy marriage who sees no issue with the fact that she never orgasmed. Until her friend Barbara finds out, anyway.

The third one is from the point of view of a serial killer with a conscience who worries about the increasingly short periods between his murders. His favourite coffee shop always helped calm him, so why shouldn’t it this time?

 

Aside from my writing, I decided I needed a kick in the butt to start applying for jobs again so I’ve been doing that. A lot. Feel free to recommend jobs for me (though I should point out I live in the Netherlands and intend to continue doing so).

 

  • leisure

A month ago I went to Budapest with my mum. It was only a short trip but we had a lot of fun, saw some great sights, and ate amazing food. The latter is what I want to focus on here. There was one restaurant, located next to the Szent István Bazilika, called Bestia that particularly caught my eye.

I don’t usually eat the skin on meat or fish – the texture and flavour disgust me – but there I ordered the salmon, with a side of delicious triple-baked potatoes, which was prepared to perfection. The skin was crispy, exactly what the piece of fish needed.

I can also confirm the burger there is to die for. As is their elderflower drink. Seriously, I had two glasses, each 400ml, in less than two hours. And if that wasn’t enough, I was convinced into trying dessert. The name of the dish on the menu (something crude like coconut panna cotta with maracuja) does not do it justice. It was served in a glass: coconut tapioca on the bottom, topped with a layer of coconut panna cotta, passion fruit (i.e. maracuja) custard, passion fruit jam, toasted shaved coconut, and probably some other layers I’ve forgotten by now. It was innovative, modern, and absolutely scrumptious. 10/10 recommend. If you have a spare few hours in the inner city, try it.

 

At the beginning of this year, I made a list of 12 + 12 + 1 books to read this year. I haven’t read as much as I wanted throughout 2016 so I needed to up my game. 12 books are a must, 12 books are optional extras in case I have more time than I expected, and 1 book is a bonus.

My list:

  1. Map of Bones (James Rollins)
  2. Black Order (James Rollins)
  3. De Branding (Minette Walters)
  4. P. Lovecraft’s The Classic Horror Stories
  5. The Drop (Dennis Lehane)
  6. World Gone By (Dennis Lehane)
  7. Winnie The Pooh (A.A. Milne)
  8. Splinter The Silence (Val McDermid)
  9. De Terechtstelling (Val McDermid)
  10. Superfreakonomics (Levitt & Dubner)
  11. A Brief History Of Time (Stephen Hawking)
  12. Zero Hour (Clive Cussler)
  13. Hope and Memory (Tzvetan Todorov)
  14. The Idiot (Dostoyevsky)
  15. Moby Dick (Melville)
  16. Wit’ch Fire (James Clemens)
  17. Het Lijden Van De Jonge Werther (Goethe)
  18. The Essential Kafka (Kafka)
  19. Excavation (James Rollins)
  20. Het Mysterie Van De Maan (Knight & Butler)
  21. The Last Oracle (James Rollins)
  22. Crime & Punishment (Dostoyevsky)
  23. Duivelsveer (Minette Walters)
  24. Neanderthal Man (Svante Pääbo)
  25. The Seventh Plague (James Rollins)

So far I’ve read 1-3, 5-7, 12, 16-17, 19-21, 23, 25. I am happy to be able to tell you that each and every one of those books is great. Not a surprise, considering there are some of my favourite authors up there. I must say that I didn’t expect to love Wit’ch Fire as much as I did, as it was my first introduction to high fantasy (I think that’s high fantasy anyway… I’m terrible with genres), but it blew my mind and I am currently reading part 2 (Wit’ch Storm), even though it’s not on the list.

Currently I’m alternating between Crime & Punishment, Kafka, and Wit’ch Storm. I found myself unable to read any of them in one sitting and simply had to read something else in between. It’s proven an adequate solution. Right this very moment I am in the middle of chapter 4 of Kafka’s Trial, which is part of the book mentioned above. In case anyone is interested, most of my classics are from Wordsworth Classics, though I’m equally satisfied with Collins Classics, Everyman’s Library, and Modern Library.

 

  1. Plans for the (near) future?
    • work

Until this summer I will be too busy to get much writing done but I intend to continue writing at least one of my new works. I started it a few weeks ago so the story is still in its infancy but I’m excited for it and I know it’ll be good. It focuses on Katja, who is haunted by her past. Normally she’s a great cop, not even 30 yet and already on her way to the top. However, when a girl is raped and murdered her past threatens to catch up with her. Having been a victim of a crime herself, a crime that still hasn’t been solved, she may not be the best person for the job. Alongside her trusted partner Nick, who has his own big secret, she shrugs off her nasty co-worker’s jabs at her sexuality and immerses herself into the case.

 

For this summer I got some fun things planned. A protagonist in one of my stories is a journalist and I want to write (and hopefully publish) a few stories in her name. I have two planned: one about toilets and one about comfort women.

 

  • leisure

I am eager to finish my list of books (mentioned in 1.2), starting with the ones I’m currently reading, then moving on to The Idiot (Dostoyevsky), H.P. Lovecraft’s horror, and Wit’ch War (book 3 in the series by James Clemens), which I doubt I’d be able to read in one sitting either. Since last month I’ve come to accept that I cannot leave Clemens’ books until next year, so I’m doomed to read them now.

 

As for music, I am waiting for Marilyn Manson’s Say10. As far as I am aware, it has not been released yet. Google has been very helpful, announcing the release date as ‘’2017’’. Big surprise. If anyone has more specific knowledge, let me know. I want ittttttttttttt.

 

  1. Recommendations
    • books/authors

I struggled with what to put here. Do I choose one author or three? I didn’t want to put two, because I feel more connected to odd numbers. One would make sense because this is one blogpost and it seems like the normal thing to do. Three makes sense because this one blogpost has to satisfy people for approximately three months. And that way I can recommend more than one genre too. Three it is.

My first recommendation is Dennis Lehane. He’s on my list twice because I found two of his books I hadn’t read yet on sale on www.bookdepository.com (free shipping, yay) so I had to buy them. Simple as that. He writes crime novels, and each one is more surprising than the last. When you think you know what’s about to happen, he throws in a plot twist that warps your entire worldview. His characters feel so much like real people, all of them flawed but lovable, too, and worthy of my empathy. (Not sympathy. They made their own mess and they deserve what they got.) For a quick read you can turn to The Drop (less than 200 pages), but his series starring Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro is equally thrilling start to finish. If you haven’t yet, and you’re not opposed to murder (in books, not in life), give his books a try.

Secondly, I wanted to put in the spotlight an author of youth books that are compelling for adults too. This man’s name is Charlie Higson (and I checked, because I always get his name wrong). His The Enemy series is refreshing, a new take on zombies (because they’re not zombies, they didn’t die), and captivates the reader within the first few chapters. SPOILER ALERT. MOVE ON TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T WANT THESE BOOKS TO BE SPOILED FOR YOU. I’M SERIOUS, STOP READING NOW. PLEASE. The author is not afraid to kill off beloved characters, which is a plus even if it breaks my heart every time, and he brilliantly sketches an image of London after the sickness. The one thing that disappointed me was the ending of the last book (The End) of the series of 7 (!!!). It was good, but I wanted to know more, to let the story continue until they find the cure. I’m usually fond of open endings, more so than closure, but I wanted more than a sliver of hope here.

IT’S SAFE TO READ NOW. Finally I wanted to recommend a classic author, namely Dostoyevsky. I’ve read many of his works, starting with Notes from Underground and working my way from his other shorter works to Crime and Punishment, of which I’ve currently read the first 3 parts (of 6 + epilogue). Next on my list is his The Idiot. His works bring about a peculiar feeling and it’s so easy to empathise with his protagonists. They’re weird, occasionally behave erratically, have long monologues that make little sense interchanged by seemingly endless trains of thought, until those are abruptly cut off. It’s like a rollercoaster. Brilliant.

 

  • music

Here too I can fortunately think of three bands/artists to recommend so I won’t have to stick to two.

First off there’s a new band from the UK called Circus of Horrors (found on Facebook under Circus of Horrors UK). Their first album is freely available on Youtube, alongside various covers they did, including one of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah that will blow your mind.

Their second album is available on their website, but it’s more coherent than the first and definitely worth the money (I don’t have a pound sign on my keyboard but it’s 8 pounds [or 7,99] which is doable, really). The theme of their second album is aliens coming to attack earth. It’s absolutely brilliant, laced with Public Service Announcements that are both surprisingly realistic and musically gorgeous.

Since I am intellectually challenged when it comes to categorising things into genres, be it music or books, all I can say is that their music sounds like metal or one of its subgenres and occasionally involves screaming and growling and other not-clean vocals. (I swear I tried to learn all these definitions but they just won’t stick.)

Be open-minded, give them a chance?

My second recommendation is a bit older, and has also already made an appearance on this blog but whatever. They’re one of my favourite bands and I’d mention them in every blog post if I could. That band is Sum 41. Their new album, released in October 2016, is called 13 Voices. I could play it 24/7, and would have were it not for my neighbours and this annoying dependency of mine on sleep. Each and every song on it is catchy. I could recite the lyrics after less than a week. It’s a big ‘’fuck you’’ to society accompanied by some more introspective, personal songs, just like what we expect from them. It’s clear they’re not 19 anymore but they’re still rocking as if they were. Though I probably just screwed up their image with that uncool phrasing. Oops.

Finally there’s Gregory Porter. My mum fell in love with his music before I did but we can both agree it’s brilliant. He’s one of those artists that people of all ages can love, no matter what their musical preferences. I got his Liquid Spirit CD for my birthday last year. Needless to say it was one of my favourite gifts.

 

  • films

I wish I had more to say here than I do but I don’t watch that many films. The one film that comes to mind is The Admiral: Roaring Currents (from 2014). It’s a Korean masterpiece. There’s something about watching battle strategies play out that is mesmerising, and the Admiral was a fascinating figure.

 

  • tea

This may seem weird but I’m a huge fan of tea; hardly ever do I drink coffee. I have two brands that I recently discovered that I needed to share with the world. First off is Yogi Tea. I’m slightly addicted to their Sweet Chai. It tastes of star anise and other spices and leaves a nice burn in your mouth. I’ve had so many cups these past few months, I don’t know how much money I spent on it all. (It’s €3,29 per pack here, which is double what I’m used to paying for my tea.) They have a wide variety of flavours, something for everyone’s liking. My personal favourites are Sweet Chai, Ginger, Black Chai, and Choco Chili, though their Sweet Mint is utterly delicious too. I just choose to buy Pickwick or Lipton’s Minty Moroccan instead, as it’s half the price for the same taste.

Then there’s Teekanne. It’s a German brand that’s obviously cheaper in Germany than here. We only get 3 or 4 of their flavours, including their Indian Chai (yum!), but I found Innere Ruhe when I went to Germany. Despite my aversion to Rooibos tea, I really enjoyed that one. If you find it, count yourself lucky.

 

  • other – Duolingo app

This gem is worth having. You can download it FOR FREE. Whoooooo. Personally I am mostly using it to learn Danish (don’t ask) and I’m at 40% fluency already, having started last October. They have a wide variety of languages, though not all of them unfortunately. My mum is using it to learn English, which you can do from Dutch as well as from all the other languages it teaches and a few more. You should check it out yourself though.

In order to learn most other languages on there, though not all, you need to understand English. Now I know that won’t be a problem for whomever is reading this, as I doubt you’d understand this if your English wasn’t at least decent, but it’s good to keep in mind when you recommend it to others. I’m also refreshing my French with it, learning a bit of German (not sure whether I’m learning German or refreshing it, as I can understand more than I thought but speak less.) and Spanish, and I even attempted some Hungarian (because of our trip to Budapest).

Trust me when I say that Hungarian is hella difficult to learn. If you’re not good at learning languages (which is okay, not everyone can be super talented in that regard. Maybe you’re great at science or art or something else entirely.) don’t attempt it unless you have to or really want to (to give me the finger for not believing in you, for example).

 

  1. Recipes

Time for food. This blog’s subtitle is ‘’books and food, food and books’’ after all. I was going to post only one recipe but I didn’t want to exclude people based on their beliefs so I added a second recipe, which is vegan. If you’re a meat lover who isn’t even going to look at that second recipe because it’s vegan and vegan food is crap, get over yourself. Stop being immature and just look at it, taste it, and then judge it. N.B.: if you cannot intuitively tell when meat is ready in a pan, this recipe is not for you. I have no cooking time for you, sorry. I don’t cook according to recipe, most of the time.

Pork tenderloin with sambal and coconut

Tip: read the full recipe before starting it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon sambal manis (or any sambal really)
  • 50gr grated coconut
  • 25gr breadcrumbs (i.e. paneermeel, semmel brösel, chapelure, paniermehl, panko)
  • 4 pork tenderloins (this is to use up all the mixture. Feel free to substitute with chicken filet.)
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons oil (for your pan)
  • 3 plates (1 deep, for the egg mixture)

Mix the beaten egg, sambal, and tablespoon of water together on a plate. Mix the coconut and breadcrumbs together on a different plate. Put flour on a separate plate. (In total you now have 3 separate plates.)

Cut the meat into nice medallions (choose your own size.) and cover them in salt and flour. Then you first soak them in the eggy mixture, then roll them through the coconut mixture.

Put oil in your pan and let it heat up. Bake them until they’re good. And they will be good. So good. Enjoy. Serve with whatever the hell you want. I served it with wok vegetables and pasta once, but it goes well with rice too. Or potatoes and green veg. Whatever you like. Make it your own.

 

Vegan quinoa mixture

Now apparently quinoa is bad because Bolivian people used to live from it before it became a trend and we took away their main food source. So don’t eat it too often.

Originally this was supposed to make a veggie slider but I cannot for the life of me make it keep its form so I leave it be.

Ingredients:

  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • 6 small mushrooms, diced (1 ¼ cup. I literally measured this using my tea mug.)
  • Salt
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained (standard size, you know which I mean.)
  • ¾ cup cooked quinoa (cook it according to the package. Again I measured using my mug. American sizes are weird.)
  • 1 TABLESPOON chili powder (not kidding here. You can use half a table spoon if you don’t like spicy but it’s pretty good with the full tablespoon.)

Fruit the onions for 5 min with the salt, add mushrooms and leave for another 3 minutes. Take off the stove, add the kidney beans. Mash it all together. Mix it with the quinoa and chili powder. Either bake it a little longer in the pan or serve immediately with green veg or so. Enjoy.

 

  1. Sample of my writing

Message to the Older Generation

 

The future is important

What will you do?

Pulled in all directions

Without a fucking clue

Grab the opportunity

The pressure is rising

Do this, do that

Leads me to despising

The very system we live in

Jobs I’ll never have

I said I don’t want this

Are you going deaf?

Listen to my wishes

Do I have a choice?

Don’t want it to be a drag

Don’t we deserve a voice?

All focus on economy

Where is the joy?

Let us go our own way

My life’s not a toy

We’ll make our own mistakes

Go against the herd

We might surprise you

Ours is the world

So let us do ours

Just leave us be

Only one knows what’s best

And that person is me.