Spring Spotlight

From Westeros and diving under the sea, to making a new friend and affordable self-care tips. 

The past two months just went by so quickly. From darkness and snow to sunny and warm days; it really is a game changer (especially if you live in the north)! Life suddenly feels a little better when you are finally able to pack away those warm winter coats. Grab yourself a nice cup of tea and have a look at what we've been up to since last time. 


Show Your Work by Austion Kleon

Continuing with the creative flow, I picked up this book by Austion Kleon. "Show Your Work" is the second book, following "Steal Like An Artist". While the latter was more about getting inspiration from others, this book is about influencing others by letting them steal from you. Kleon demonstrates how we can think about our work as a never-ending process, how to build an audience and how to deal with putting yourself and your work there. I find it very inspiring whenever I need a little kick to keep up with my own projects. 

A Storm of Swords Part II: Blood and Gold by George R.R. Martin

My very ambitious fantasy project continues (you can read about it here), and the past two months I finished two more books from the list! 

The Starks are scattered. Robb Stark is depending on Walder Frey to hold on to his crown and title as King in the North. Arya has escaped Kings Landing, while Sansa is still a captive of the Lannisters. Across the sea, the dragon has demonstrated her power by dealing her judgement on the slave-trading cities of Astapor and Yunkai. So many good scenes in this book and if did leave me speechless! 

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

The wars for the throne have burned themselves out, but the conflicts are not over. New players enter the game as the Martells of Dorne seek vengeance for their dead, the Greyjoys are now facing a decision: who will rule the Iron Islands? Meanwhile, the Lannisters are in power with the boy king Tommen at the throne, but being in power is one thing, keeping it is an entirely different game. 

Its been two intense books to read, and I am currently reading A Dance with Dragons. I can already say that this is becoming one of my all time favorites series in this genre! 


Anatomy of a Scandal (Netflix)

A thriller drama miniseries on Netflix, based on the novel by Sarah Vaughan. Sophie Whitehouse, the wife of MP James Whitehouse learns that her husband has been having an affair with an aide for five months. To make things worse, the aid is now accusing her husband of rape. Trying to deal with the stress of a trial, a public scandal and saving their marriage, Sophie tries to be strong. However, the question remains: did he do it? 

This was such a good series. I really loved how its set up, it really gets the complexity and nuances of the case. It had me at the edge of my seat all the way. 

The Gilded Age (HBO)

A historical drama set in New York during the Gilded Age, meaning the boom years of 1880s. Marian Brook, a penniless young gentlewoman is forced to leave Pennsylvania and live with her aunts, Agnes van Rhijn and Ada Brook. Get ready for the rigid social scene of the 1880s, the old money vs. the new money. 

I really enjoyed this series. It has a little of a Downtown Abbey vibe, but still stands on its own and the cast is amazing. 

My Octopus Teacher (Netflix)

A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world. This documentary is simply hands down one of the most beautifully filmed documentaries I've seen. Left me in awe of nature. 


Ink to film

Are you the person who prefers to read the book before you see the movie if you can? So are these two: Luke, a writer and James, a filmmaker. Together they bring their backgrounds and insights and spend time discussing the adaptations of the past and present. Perfect to have on in the background while cleaning or cooking! 

La Nota RojaThe Red Note

I listened to this podcast in Spanish but the entire podcast is also available in English. Over the last 25 years, thousands of women have been viciously murdered or disappeared along the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The investigations revealed a systemic web of corruption, drug violence, sex trafficking and unchecked globalization that the Mexican authorities tried to hide. It is a strong and unforgettable podcast. It may be too hard for some listeners. I recommend it because it is an important topic, about femicides and the ongoing crisis that should not be easily forgotten. 

Self-care and mental health 

Self-care means different things to different people. Over the past few weeks I discovered that for many of us, self-care is sometimes closely tied up to spending money. Self-care can of course mean spending a little or a lot on something, but it can also be affordable. What it does cost is time. 

Taking care of yourself in a busy week can be challenging if not upright impossible with all the obligations we have in our lives: family, relationships, work, bills and so on. 

A small change in my weekly check-in set me up for having better weeks over all. I recently updated my weekly check-in and started to use a template in Notion, in here I have a daily agenda and a weekly overview where I write in all the things I need to get done. Usually I do like most, sit down on Sunday evening and plan my week ahead: look at my work schedule, plan my workouts, dates with friends and family. The difference is that I now actually book a time for a date with myself. 

Yes, I actually book a time with myself in my own calendar. Making an actual appointment in my calendar makes sure I don't just push it, if I am suddenly asked to join in on something else. It helps me prioritize a date with myself. The past couple of weeks my dates have been free dates. I would go to the library early Saturday morning, find myself a good place to sit and then read for the next two-three hours. As the days turned brighter and warmer, I've started going on a hike for my Friday workout, but this time I bring a reward for when I reach the top: a book, chocolate milk and a blanket to keep me warm. What better way to finish the week off, with a nice view and alone time? 

Now, this might not be your cup of tea, luckily The Good Trade has a list of 99 free or affordable self-care ideas you!

This blog post was written by Gabriela Saez. You can follow her reviews on Instagram @bookstrider


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