Amsterdam and Damp and Dark Rooms: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton Book Review

Hi fellow book lovers, welcome back to Tea and Paperbacks, new posts every Monday! In this week I just want to share with you a book I read in the wintertime, a very long-awaited book (I’ve been wanting to read this since forever), and a really really beautiful story.

18498569

There were so many things that went right with this book for me, it was like this book was especially made for me. The Miniaturist is set in 17th century Amsterdam, mainly in the winter, and it was a perfect read for the winter. It’s about Nella, the main character who comes from a small village who comes to the capital city when she is married to a wealthy man and lives in his large house with his sister and their servants. The story is about Nella discovering secrets about the family and their trading job.

Title: The Miniaturist
Author: Jessie Burton
Publisher: Ecco Press
Date Published: August 2014
Num of Pages: 400
Date Read: 25th January, 2017
Goodreads Link
Book Depository Link

I love the whole cold, slow atmosphere of Amsterdam and the house where the main character, Nella lives in. The atmosphere Burton crafts, from the freezing streets of Amsterdam, the damp and dark rooms, the canals, everything was so vivid in the descriptions that it became part of the story, not just the conversations and the plot itself.

The storyline was wonderful to read about. It’s my type of book, with slow-build characters slowly evolving and opening up to the readers as we slowly get to know them through their secrets. I thought the plot was wonderful, how it was really slow at the beginning but really picked up into an absorbing web of events that unraveled quickly by the end. I didn’t particularly think the last parts of the book was mind-blowing or that it had a good plot twist, but I still really enjoyed how everything turned out.

Love is best a phantom than reality, better in the chase than caught. (p.157)

What I also really enjoyed was of course the characters. When we first meet Nella she’s a timid, inexperienced, hopeful and slightly naive young woman. By the end of the book we can really see her character development. Her relationship with the other supporting characters are wonderful. I particularly liked reading about Marin, how she’s filled with so many secrets and uncertainty so that the readers never really know if we should trust her or not, but slowly learn to like her and root for her. Meanwhile Johannes was a well-written character as well, and I wanted to explore more of his personality in the book, like his feelings and friendship with Nella, his closeness with Marin, his companionship with Otto, how he really felt about Frans or Jack. The other characters really brought the book to become much better than it could’ve been.

Growing older does not seem to make you more certain. It simply presents you with more reasons for doubt. (p.159)

Overall, a very wonderful read. I love the writing, how it’s so atmospheric and descriptive but also lets us really learn about the characters and also making us looking forward to what will happen next. Although the ending wasn’t very strong, I still think it might be one of the best books I will read in 2017, despite the fact that this was my second book of the year.

4.5 stars

Did you read The Miniaturist, and did you like it? What are your favourite reads of 2017 so far? Share in the comments! I’ve also been really interested to read Burton’s new book, have any of you read it? Until my next post, have a nice day!

bookreview

Sunday Updates: Athens!

Guess who went on vacation, skipped three days of uni, and had a blast under the sun??? This lucky blogger over here! I love traveling, it’s one of the reasons I try and spend less money, and I’m super lucky to have a mother who works all over the world. As a result, I met her on Athens and spent seven days in the lovely historical city. Here are some of the things I did, foods I ate, and places I visited.

Acropolis Hill and The New Acropolis Museum

This is basically what Athens is famous for: the large temple (Parthenon) on top of the tall hill (Acropolis), and the museum across from it. I recommend you go to the museum first before climbing up the hill, that way you can see all the columns and statues they found at the hill, the history behind it, etc. The museum is really nice, and I also got on the English guided tour, which was quite okay but not the best.

2017-05-21 12.58.06

Then on the next day we went to the hill itself. Tip: wear a hat! It’s super handy cause it’s sweltering hot up there. Bring water, don’t bring too many stuff, but the climb isn’t that tough, you get to go on your own pace and the stairs are not that steep anyways. Also go on the evening, I went at around 6 and it was great weather, sunny when I climbed up, and up there it got slightly cloudier, which was fine for me.  The Parthenon and the temple next to it is magnificent, huge and old and wonderful to look at. I recommend listening to Rick Steve’s narration while going up, his walking tours are amazing! You can look for his app on the App Store.

2017-05-21 17.43.00

2017-05-21 18.23.24

The view from on top of Acropolis Hill.

2017-05-21 21.23.19

2017-05-21 21.23.25-1

The Parthenon.

feather19

National Archaeological Museum, Temple of Zeus, and Ancient Agora

Three excellent historical sites located around the city center that I visited, also with the lovely help of Rick Steves. The Archaeological Museum is not too big but very interesting, especially all the statues and how it’s arranged chronologically. The Ancient Agora is similar to the Roman Agora in Rome, you need a lot of imagination and Rick Steve’s help to walk through it.

2017-05-22 22.27.35

The famous Poseidon or Zeus statue.

2017-05-23 14.11.04

Me in front of the Ancient Agora, overlooking the Acropolis Hill.

feather19

Surrounding Islands

We went on a cruise ship for one whole day to the surrounding islands of Athens, which were Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. We got a walking tour on the first island, walked around and took dozens of pictures, the second island is tiny and not very interesting so we only walked around, and the last island is huge and we went on a bus tour to the nearby monastery.

2017-05-24 12.27.39

Me again, with my trusted hat!

2017-05-24 12.31.59

Don’t even remember which island this is lol.

feather19

Food

Food is one of the main reasons why my trip was so amazing. I ate looots of Greek cuisine, though on the last day we did get kind of sick of it and ate burgers and pizza hahaha. Here are some of the things I ate.

2017-05-25 12.18.32

2017-05-25 18.50.41

Greek beer is surprisingly good, and so is Greek wine. The seafood I ate were all exquisite. And the meat… all the meatballs (sort of Indian style), gyros, souvlaki, lamb of all kinds… they’re all so good!

2017-05-20 13.05.51

feather19

Delphi

We also went on a day trip to Delphi, around 3 hours by bus from Athens. It was nice, the ruins were lovely although quite a high climb. There’s a nice museum in there as well, and our tour includes a guide who tells us basically everything, which is really nice.

2017-05-26 15.58.06

feather19

Tips and Tricks!

So, here are some random tips about traveling to Athens on this time of the year:

  1. If you have the money and are willing to afford it, get on the Hop on Hop off bus tour! It’s very insightful, you get to see all the sights around the city and you can just choose which one you’re most interested in and hop off to visit them
  2. But if you’re not using the bus, the metro is also a convenient way to travel. It’s quite cheap and reliable, in my opinion.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes! You’ll definitely feel the difference if you wear sandals or high heels – during the whole trip I wore my sneakers and it’s really comfortable because you’d be walking A LOT. You might not notice it but going around museums is quite tiring because you don’t just walk a lot, you also stand up a lot.
  4. Rick Steves! He’s a life saver, he makes everything much more interesting and you get to learn so much from him.
  5. If you’re like me and you have a whole week staying at the city, you’d get pretty sick of looking at all the ruins and historical monuments all the time. So day trips to the islands, or even a tram ride to the Piraeus beach is great to refresh!
  6. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the Athens international airport is not that crowded. I spent only a few minutes on security check compared to Amsterdam’s long and winding line. I don’t know if I was just there on a good day, or if it’s always like that, but I’m pretty thankful I didn’t spend that much time at the queue of the security check.

Those are my highlights and tips and tricks of being a tourist for a whole week in Athens! Have you ever been to Athens? Do you like museums? Let me know down in the comments!

bookdepository  goodreads

The Spring Has Sprung Book Tag

It’s spring! The flowers have blossomed in the trees and the weather is getting (slightly) warmer, despite the rain and wind in the cold Netherlands. So why not celebrate the coming of spring with a book tag?

I was tagged a year ago by Cristina @ My Tiny Obsessions, so thank you so much! I try to vary the books I mention here with the books I’ve mentioned in other book tags, and most of them are books that I read in the last 9 months when I was inactive here, so hopefully you won’t get bored of my selection of books!

Flowers: Look on your bookshelves. What is the most beautiful book both inside and out?

23534757

My Life in Houses by Margaret Forster is a small pretty book that I found at the secondhand section of my bookstore. It has a simple cover but I really liked it, and the story inside is also sweet and entertaining.

Grass: What is a book that you find that others like way more than you do?

Unfortunately, I have to choose Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi. I heard so many good things from other people, but I ended up disliking it.

Rain: What’s a great book that lifts your spirits when you’re down?

18007564

I read The Martian by Andy Weir a long time ago but I remembered really liking it and lifting my spirits up! The main character is hilarious and so positive despite his situation.

Dew: What’s a book that made you feel alive?

I’m tweaking this question a little and going to choose another question. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell is a book that makes me feel glad I’m alive. Orwell describes such sad states while he was living as a broke and penniless person, so it makes me really thankful.

17118897

Storms: What’s a book that you found unpredictable?

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn was quite unpredictable, another one is of course the all-famous And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Totally did not see the ending coming.

Rainbow: What was a book that you struggled with, only to be happy that you read it in the end?

The A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin, of course! Such a large book, it always takes me such a long time to finish, and the language is hard to digest, but I also enjoy reading it a lot.

Chilly Weather: What’s a book that you couldn’t finish or didn’t enjoy?

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan was my recent dislike. I did finish it, but by the end I just wanted the whole thing to be over, sorry.

Warm Weather: What’s a book that you loved and wanted more of?

15764465

The Dinner by Herman Koch is a recent book that is super interesting, has a great premise, and also makes me wanna read the book without putting it down. A recommend for everyone!

Green: What’s a book that you haven’t read yet, but really want to?

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton is high on my TBR list. I loved Crichton and have read some of his books, and I enjoyed the movies, I just never gotten round to reading the novels.

Pink: What’s a book in which you felt a strong connection to the characters?

A book I read quite some time ago was The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, about an immigrant living in another country and having a family. As a minority living in someone else’s country, I can really connect to the characters in the book. Here’s my review of the book if you wanna find out more.

Purple: What’s a book that when you read it, you feel safe?

Harry Potter by JK Rowling is probably my safe answer. I just looove going back to the story and feeling at home.

Orange: What book do you feel is intelligently written?

The recent book that I absolutely loved is More Than This by Patrick Ness. It’s so filled with suspense and also action, but at the same time describes the characters and the settings really well. The plot is also super exciting. Read about me ranting on how much I loved it in my review here.22551523

Yellow: What book puts a smile on your face?

I really enjoyed reading a children’s book, The Cat Who Came In Off the Roof by Annie M.G. Schmidt. It’s a book about a journalist who befriends a cat who became a human, and it’s super fun and makes me smile when I read it on the train. Especially since I love cats so much!

 

Phew, so many questions! Let me know if you like the books I mentioned above, and if you don’t! Also feel free to do the tag if you want to. See you in my next post!

 bookdepository goodreads