How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

“[…] it didn’t really matter how many years or decades or centuries had passed, because you were always living within the parameters of your personality. No expanse of time or place could change that. You could never escape yourself.”

Imagine being close to immortal. How would you spend your days? A question Tom Hazard has to ask himself over and over again. He has lived hundreds of years, dozens of different lives, has seen it all, done it all. Worked for Shakespeare himself, complimented Fitzgerald on his “Great Gatsby”, but then again he saw his mother being accused and drowned for practicing witchcraft, experienced his great love die of the pest. Yes, Tom Hazard has seen it all and he is tired of it, but a promise he has once given, hundreds of years ago, keeps him going, one day after another. But when you know there’s always a tomorrow to have another try, do you even know how to live? Because after all those hundreds of years Tom is nowhere near sure he does and there is not a day he does not struggle with his past, the memories of it.

“I need to get over everything. I need ‘closure’ as people say these days. Though you can never close the past. The most you can do with it is accept it. And that is the point I want to reach.”

They have never left him after all and every single passing minute adds up to them.

“So here I am, with my head full of human fears and pains, my chest tight with anxiety, thinking about how much future I have in front of me.”

 

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my thoughts- I was recommended this book by a dear friend of mine, Ophelia. She really liked it and since she knows my taste told me to read it, because she was sure I’d enjoy it and I did. I enjoyed it immensely. If you know my tastes in books from around the internet you could most likely even skip this part of the review or check out my last one on “The Immortals”, since it’s always similar things I cherish a book for. For me those include the writing style, for example. The writing style I enjoy most is a very wise one, one that is a little poetic, very figurative, that has an eye for the little details. If I dog-ear pages or underline passages, sentences in the process of reading, then it most likely turns out to be a book I end up recommending to others. So basically I enjoy works I can quote, that hold sequences which contain a deeper message, that teach me something about life. “How To Stop Time” hides quite some like that and that’s why I ended up loving it as much as I did. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the plot, it was really well structured, though a little confusing, always going back into the past, but randomly into all different kinds of eras. It supported the concept of the book though, since Tom was caught off guard by his memories all the same and it gave the reader insight in what he was constantly going through. I liked that. But as I said, I liked it best for it’s wise words. You can’t imagine what I mean by that? Well, look at this.

Last but not least, if you have read this book and you’re looking for one that’s similar to this one, then head right over to my review of “The Immortals”. You will soon realize both the plot and the beautiful writing style are a little similar to the one in “How To Stop Time”. And just like “The Immortals” I believe this would be a very decent autumn read, but yeah, I’m just saying. Maybe I’ll re-read in autumn and see for myself.

Wishing you all out there a great summer! And to all fellow autumn-lovers, hold on just a little longer, it’s the next season to come.

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Introduction of ‘Of Coffee and Longing’

[an excerpt, the first and last work from each of the chapters in ‘Of Coffee and Longing’, my collection of poetry and prose, as an introduction for the sometime-to-be outcome, as in, book]

[only one thing left to say before I send this off into the depths of the internet and before you start reading. my intention in sharing those, often quite personal, words is by no means fame nor glory. over the last two years reading those, often quite personal, words of other people from all over the wold helped me move on. they held me upright, made me feel understood, when no-one else would, because in the end, poetry or this kind of creative writing is always personal, but the sense behind a work is only very rarely the same one for two people.]

of the dusk before nightfall [sorrow and fear] – chapter one

“perfectionism

is being one’s own worst detractor,

is lying wide awake at night

reconsidering every little thing,

is being sick with worry

when others would not give it

a second thought,

is the inability to not give it all,

is to keep going until one day

you find yourself unable to.”

“her happiness was a beast,

it came, wild and whole,

consuming her very being,

but just as it came, it went,

leaving her feeling emptier

as ever before.”

of the darkness at night [frustration and sadness] – chapter two

“on a night with a sky full of stars,

feeling her heart beat,

she stared and 

found herself

drawn to 

a million

dying

fires.”

“i’ve pulled myself up from the ground 

and out of the darkness so many times

that today i realized i’ve left marks

in the earthy walls of the hole i keep

falling into,

marks leading upwards into the light,

like a stairway, and glancing back, as

i pull myself over the edge, i feel the

dark starting to move, shapes emerging

from it, and i blink away the salty

wetness of my eyes and lead the shadows

out into a new light.”

of the dawn before day [hope and relief] – chapter three

“and she felt her soul lighten,

getting rid of all the weight,

the sadness and fears,

of all her worries,

the mechanical pressure

from her surroundings,

and her sad mouth,

once again wet with tears,

formed a smile.”

“she looked at her reflection

long, without breaking eye contact,

silently staring, tears straining her vision

until it changed, right before her eyes

and she became someone else entirely,

her mind detached from her body,

a stranger staring back at her

and for the first time, she saw it,

her body, without judging it,

and it was beautiful.”

of the day after dark [contentment and strength] – chapter four

“be quiet,

listen to the silence,

close your eyes

and watch the dark,

then breath

and feel your body,

what you were made of,

your skin and bone,

and accept

whoever

you find

yourself

to be.”

“she saw the sky burn that night,

saw it lighting up in heavenly fire,

the waves like roaring destruction,

and in that moment,

as heaven seemed to kiss earth

in a last and fierce embrace,

she realized,

just how insignificant she was,

they all were, to this world

in it’s whole vivid existence,

smiling, because she wished

it would never be otherwise.”

[and that is it already. I wish I could share the whole thing with the entire world right away, at this very second, but anticipation is the most beautiful bitter sweet longing, so this is where I quit, hoping those tiny snippets were able to give you an impression, an introduction, of what that sometime-to-be outcome is aiming for. opinions are welcome.  with this said, thank you for your time. thank you for taking the time to read those small words. the act might have been small for you, but to me it means the world. thank you. this whole thing came to be and will continue to come to be, partly because of you. you are part of this and this would never exist if it wasn’t for you. you matter. you matter so much, each and every one of you.]

 

eighteen years

On December 9th, 2017 I turned eighteen years old. A date about which I had some strange feelings. All around me a lot of people were really hyped about their eighteenth birthday. Friends who never went out to party suddenly became the kings and queens of clubs and even the ones who never had the slightest bit of alcohol planned on getting drunk, having the time of their lives, a night to remember, etc etc etc. I was freaked out to the point I didn’t want to do anything for my birthday. While my friends were planning their ‚special‘ night of joining adulthood almost half a year in advance, I kept putting everyone off by saying I didn’t know yet or it was supposed to be a secret. Actually, I didn’t plan on doing anything aside from being in my room at home shedding a few tears. But it wasn’t only that. I was afraid of turning eighteen, because from eighteen on, one is officially an adult, where I live, and I did not [and still don’t] feel as if I am prepared to be accepted as that, and yes, I am indeed trying to come to a point, so this is for all those out there who felt and feel the same way.

what follows is a mixture of random shots of the days around my eighteenth birthday and some of my favorite quotes of the book ‘eighteen years’ by Madisen Kuhn, which accompanied me on the journey of realizing and accepting that nothing is going to change and that that’s okay. Basically it’s a mix of a lifestyle blog & a book review. Hoping it’ll turn out as enjoyable content.

 

 

i feel trapped inside of my feverish skin

and i wish i could escape it,

because i don’t want to be myself today

 

i don’t know why i’m so different,

why i feel so lonely and tired of living

yesterday, i was so happy and hopeful,

inspired and alive

i lit candles and sang along to the radio

and grinned and felt completely intact

but today, i’m in pieces

i feel hollow and meaningless

i don’t get why my feelings change so quickly

it’s like once i’ve wrapped my arms

around them, the wind picks them up

and carries them away, leaving me

with a heart full of unfamiliar emotions

i don’t understand

i just wish

i could figure myself out

sometimes

Madisen Kuhn, birthday eve

 

 

one of the poems that spoke to me, really putting those emotions into words. Since my family knew how I was feeling, on the night before my birthday my mom took me out to the movies. Full program. Smuggling fast food inside the theater, big box of fresh popcorn. The rest of the night I spent decorating and cleaning. I rang in my birthday alone at midnight by taking a bath before I went to bed.

 

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After sleeping in just a little and spending some time with my family I then headed out to the city, just like I had planned. I just knew I had to go for a walk through the streets of Berlin on my birthday, because that’s what I have been immensely enjoying the past year. On the way to the city I started reading ‘eighteen years’. Some of the pieces that really spoke to me will follow [I had tears in my eyes while reading all of them]…

 

who are you,

really?

you are not a name

or a height or a weight

or a gender,

you are not an age

and you are not

where you are from

you are your favorite books

and the songs stuck in your head,

you are your thoughts

and what you eat for breakfast

on saturday mornings

you are a thousand things,

but everyone chooses

to see the million things

you are not

you are not

where you are from

you are

where you’re going

and i’d like

to go there

too

Madisen Kuhn, who are you, really?

 

she buried her face in books

so no one could see

the emptiness of her eyes

 

she filled her mind

with fictional fantasies

and hoped that one day

they would become real

 

but because her head

was always stuck in a book

she never got the chance

to have adventures of her own

Madisen Kuhn, cover to cover

 

i think the world

would be a nicer place

if we stopped pretending

we knew everything

about everyone

Madisen Kuhn, truth

 

every individual

is son intricate,

yet we rush to peg them,

to label them,

to tell them who they are

[…]

the more i meet people

and flip them inside out

to run my fingers along

the cracks of their beating heart,

the more i realize that

no one really is

“normal”

Madisen Kuhn, depth

 

In the hours following that train ride I met two of my best friends, went to a photo booth to turn memories into paperweight,

got Starbucks to pay for my venti iced coffee, because that’s how nice they are when it’s your birthday and you have a Starbucks card [everyone was really cute, i’m being honest, they wrote ‘happy birthday anna’ on my cup with flowers and hearts and all of that, i guess], laughed a lot, met my cousin, had serious, but very good conversations while wandering the city and crashed at Coffee Fellows to flee the cold. The remaining hours of my birthday I spent at home with my family again. Pizza and Grand Hotel [one of my favorite series] were included.

The following morning, a Sunday, my family and I went out for a post-birthday brunch at Coffee Fellows, which meant bagels, warm beverages and time well spent. Took a short walk around the near-by christmas market with my cousin and sister afterwards. Then I went home. Trouble was over and I had spent almost three full days trying to keep everything as it was with an almost feverish effort, spending energy I could have easily saved, because after all, everything that has changed since is the second digit of a simple number in my info box on social media. nothing has changed and that’s fine. I hate changes anyways.

Before I end this somewhat very personal, yet probably boring piece of writing, I have a few more words on ‘eighteen years’  by Madisen Kuhn and one more poem. Something to remember, a message, to those of you reading this, a sort of reminder…

Madisen, your book got through to me in so many ways. At a time that I felt troubled it had the words I needed to hear to be able to calm down. ‘eighteen years’ is the most honest, most real and most beautiful collection of poetry I have yet read. In the past year poetry has become the tongue of my soul, the safe heaven I can always come to. Before your book I would have never dared to believe that there is poetry out there that puts my deepest thoughts into proper words. You did. I found myself with tears in my eyes, heart hurting. You literally speak the same tongue my heart speaks. In a world of so many I feel I have found the one person who is able to translate my soul into words, the one person to be the interpreter to fill the gap between me and the rest of the world. I thank you from the deepest depths of my heart.

To everyone reading this, ‘eighteen years’ is “[The] book [which] is meant to be bent and worn, written in, tear-stained, and loved. This book is for you.” to put it in Madison’s own words. ‘eighteen years’ is the book of first and following loves, of life and coming of age, but to be downright honest, there is no way to do this book any justice listing a few of it’s topics like this. If you want to know what it’s like then there’s no way around just reading it, experiencing it with every cell of your body. To do so, clicking here marks step one [no worries, it’s the link to get your own copy]. Now all that is left to say, is this…

 

Don’t forget to get away every once in awhile,

To lose yourself in a book

Or in the woods behind your home

Ride your bike into the sunset,

Sit on your front steps and count the cars passing by,

Lay on your roof and gaze up at the night sky,

Drive along backroads with the windows rolled down

Listening to nothing but the sound of rushing wind

I hope you take the time to be alone,

To sort through the cluttered shelves of your heart

I hope you take the time to be silent,

To close your eyes and just listen

I hope you take the time to be still,

To quiet your mind and experience the beauty

Of simply Being

Madisen Kuhn, breathe

Zucchini crust pizza

Bringing to you another much requested recipe I shared on my social media. Enjoy [I sure did]!

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Ingredients

300g          zucchini

an              egg

150g          grated mozzarella

50g            grated Parmesan

5 tbsp        tomato sauce

pinch         of salt, pepper

basilica

Instructions

 First, grate and press out the zucchini. Then add some salt and let it rest for 10 minutes.

After that add the egg, 50g of mozzarella and 50g of Parmesan. ‘Roll’ out the ‘dough’ that results from the combination or to put it more realistic, you will rather end up spreading the mixture into a thin round shape directly on a baking tray.

Then bake it for 20 minutes at 220 degrees celsius.

After 20 minutes turn over the dough and then add the toppings of your choice.

Lastly, bake for another 15 minutes.

aaand you’re done! All easy and fast. Enjoy your pizza, no matter if all by yourself or together with family and friends!

yours, anna xx

the cinnamon bun

Welcome back to this small row of blogs I started back in April this year. After many comments and questions on my cinnamon buns, I am bringing back ‘anna’s simplicity bakery’ to reveal my bun receipt as a sort of beginning-of-autumn-celebration-gift from me to you. Enjoy the fall-ish sweetness.

Ingredients (modifiable):

for the dough…

500g                          of all purpose flour

1 package                of dry yeast

80g                            of sugar

80g                            of butter

one                            pinch of salt

250ml                       of milk

 

…and for the filling

60g                            of sugar

50g                            of butter

1 package                 of vanilla sugar

1 tbsp                        of cinnamon

 

Instructions:

First, add together all the dry ingredients for the dough, meaning the flour, yeast, sugar and salt.

Then heat the butter and milk together in a small pot until the butter is fully melted and add it to the dry ingredients while it’s still warm. Knead the mixture until it gets a thick, smooth, non-sticky texture. Leave it in the bowl for another 30 min for the yeast to unfold.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 356F and prepare the filling.

Melt the butter and combine it with both of the sugars and the cinnamon.

When thirty minutes have passed, roll out the dough and spread the filling on it. Roll the dough and cut it into thumb-thick slices. Put these slices on a baking tray and into the preheated oven. Bake them for 20-25 minutes.

Besprinkle them with some frosting or powdered sugar as soon they’re cooled if you want to.

There you go! The comfiness of fall turned into a single pastry. Note that these stay ‘good’ for several days (no eggs) and taste as if they came right out of the oven if you microwave them for a few seconds. And as usually- I dare you to try this out and share your creations with me via social media. Ideas for receipt improvements are welcome! I’m pumped for your opinions!

yours, anna xx

The Immortals by S. E. Lister

Imagine the joy of finding a bookish gem. Literary content that there has not been any hype about. In a ‘bargains’ box at that local bookstore you go to. Edges already a little bent and spine beginning to break. Imagine carrying it home in your coat pocket, smile on your face, because no matter how good or bad it might be, you saved that book. You  showed it kindness and for that there is only one thing it can give back to you- another new, great adventure. That is the story of how I found ‘The Immortals’ by S. E. Lister and without forestalling too much, it’s the beginning of an infinite love.

This a story of falling through time, of an uncontrollable journey, of lost wanderers. This is the story of Rosa Hyde, of the Immortals.

“The possibilities of their stories were dazzling. […] In the bright, broken light there was something unreal about the four of them, Tommy Rust and Amber Lakshmi, Nate and Harris Black. As though they were figures fixed in a varnished painting, beyond the touch of air or dust. Rosa thought that they looked everlastingly beautiful.”

In order of a trauma in her father’s past Rosa Hyde has never left the year 1945. In all her seventeen years of life her family and her are forced to live through the same year time after time, from beginning to end and over again. For most of those seventeen years, she did not know how that was possible until she escapes, falling through time. But she finds company in Tommy Rust, a man certain that he will will forever, an Immortal, like her. Roaming the millennia they wander, ever admiring the places, wherever the tides might take them.

“She rose, and crossed the room to the wide window. A pair of passers-by were arguing animatedly, the tinkling of piano keys echoing across the cobbles from a nearby café. The sounding of a motorcar horn, an outburst of laughter. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, she lifted her face to the fresh night air. The sky above the city was clear, stars sharp as gems. She remembered when she had looked out over London in the same manner, then flung open her arms and danced with the joy of possibility. At the time no dream had seemed greater than that of keeping her feet on the same ground. How small, how simple-minded the thoughts appeared now.”

But as easily as the tides had brought Tommy and her, and the other Immortals together they fall apart the same, leaving her falling through time all over again.

“[…] perhaps they had already gone their separate ways, four bodies spinning off into space. You could find them if you wanted to, Rosa reminded herself. You will find them again f you only catch the right current, in the right place. There is no call for panic, gypsy girl, much less grief. After all, you never belonged to one another.”

But from that point on something is different. It seems that the tides too are aware of it’s travelers, and that the harder they hold on to anything that is dear to them, the faster it all falls apart and there is nothing they can do.

my thoughts- As you might have been able to tell, I did not expect to like this book as much as I did, but also know, that it is unlike others. The Immortals is not like other time traveling novels, in my eyes. I have always, until The Immortals, thought of something you do willingly, with an automaton or something. The Immortals are either born with the ‘ability’ to travel through millennia or are assigned with it by an Immortal close to them. Whenever a tide takes them, they fall, never knowing where they will arrive, only being able to take with them what they are carrying at that moment. I find the idea of that very fascinating and beyond anything I have yet read on the topic. It feels more real, to me in a way, than all other forms of time traveling, especially because it is so abrupt. But that surely isn’t all. In my opinion The Immortals is another one of those books more about the characters than the plot. The plot is messy and unordered, which is a little disturbing from time to time, but spreads a certain atmosphere and is with that an important part of it. The characters too are all a little strange, but well developed in the context of the plot. What made me love this books so much, you ask yourselves? The writing. As you might have already realized, it’s likely a book gets right to my heart just in order for it’s style. With The Immortals I have found another vastly beautiful collection of words that I will most likely hold dear for the rest of my life. It is a book made for dog-earing pages and underlining sentences. Here is some proof, if you doubt it…

“[…] wished she could look in every direction at once, that each part of the scene was a page in a book she could open, savour, open again.”

“The collection of stars wheeled within his oversized eyes, as though they took in all of the universe, as though he had swallowed it whole.”

“They were sitting out on the balcony in the late afternoon, sipping hot coffee, coats about their shoulders. The autumn sunlight cast a rosy glow over the rooftops and the cobbled street below […]”

“And what do you know. What did you ever know, gypsy girl. That disembodied grin which was once bright with golden promise, wide as a never-ending lifetime.”

…I think that should be it. The last thing I have to say about that book- i you are still looking for a special book for autumn, this should be added to your list. It has some massive autumn vibes, I can’t even say why, but it just seems to be written to be read with rain outside the window, a lit candle and under the warm sheet of a bed. It just feels right. Give it a try (and if you actually do so, tell me all your thoughts!).

If we were Villains by M. L. Rio

IMG_5352.JPG“For someone who loved words as much as I did, it was amazing how often they failed me.”

Imagine living on words. Imagine living throughout the words of another person. A person who lived far before your time being. I am talking about Shakespeare. Imagine dedicating your whole existence to Shakespeare.

“‘Do you blame Shakespeare for any of it?’ The question is so unlikely, so nonsensical coming from such a sensible man, that I can’t suppress a smile. ‘I blame him for all of it,’ I say.”

That’s what Oliver and his classmates at Dellecher do. Or rather, once did. Because it’s been ten years since Oliver has last been at Dellecher, serving ten years for a murder he may or may not have committed.

“‘It’s not all bad. I still get letters trying to convince me that you’re innocent.’ ‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘I get those, too.’ ‘Are you convinced yet?’ ‘No. I know better.'”

Being released after all, he finds that he is not the only one, who cannot forget and after ten years, he might finally be ready to share what happened a decade ago.

“Could I explain it all to Colborne, the little twists and turns and final exodos? I study his blank open face, the gray eyes winged now by crow’s-feet, but clear and bright as they have always been. ‘All right,’ I say. ‘I’ll tell you a story. […]'”

As they start their fourth year of acting at the elite conversatory Dellecher they think it is going to be just as it has always been. The seven of them, never apart, playing the same roles in life as on stage.

“Enter the players. There were seven of us, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us, though we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.”

But then everything begins to shift as castings get changed and the friends seem to drift apart. And all of a sudden they find themselves actors in a tragedy they never intended to play. Their every-day rivalry becomes more and more present until one of them is found dead, while the rest of them have to face their most significant role yet. Convincing the police, and each other, that they are innocent.

my thoughts- I bought this book before having read The Secret History by Donna Tartt and remember being unsure about buying it for exactly that reason. You’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with The Secret History, well, it is said to be similar to it and I thought, why have two books of the same kind, without you knowing if you like it? I had already fallen in love with the cover though, so I ended up buying it. Then I read The Secret History and liked, but was far from loving it. I had my doubts about this book after that, but started reading it anyways, a few weeks later. I was drawn to it from the first page. If We Were Villains hooked me in all the possible ways. It is written in in first-person, from Oliver’s point of view, and has a unique, yet easily understandable writing style, that was straight forward or describing at exactly the right times, which made the plot have a good pace. The writing style also made a good access to the the characters possible. I liked Oliver since page one and rooted with him all throughout the story, looking at things through his eyes. Him and all other characters were really well developed. Some points of the plot itself were a little predictable, but that makes complete sense, because it fits Oliver’s character (as you will learn, while reading the book) to realize some things a little later than the rest, meaning relations ships going on unofficially and stuff. I also really loved the way the story was told. In the ‘now’ at the beginning of each ‘act’ to then continue by looking back at past events, like unraveling it the other way around, from back to front, from present to past. That was a refreshing way to deal with a murder case in a book. Another thing I was obsessed with was the autumn-ish, fall-ish feeling it spread. While reading I stumbled over some incredibly beautiful fall quotes, that I still have to go look for again sometime soon. And there is more positiveness about it. If we were Villains easily manages to encourage to read Shakespeare, and a lot of it, I feel. Reading the characters act out all those plays and roles from works like ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’ gives me a lot of incentive to check them all out and to study them. What else I can say is that it stays suspenseful until the very very end, but there’s nothing more coming from me now. I’m done, and you, you just go get the book. Oh, and don’t you dare not tell me if you end up liking it!

If you haven’t got enough of this book yet, go check out my currently developing If we were Villains board on my Pinterest.

yours, anna xx