September 30, 2011

The Others - William Shakespeare

Actually I know him personally. Shakespeare, that is. Of course it's only the name of the dog of a friend of mine. Labrador Retriever, by the way. The dog, not the friend. The reason why her dog has got this unusual name (for a dog anyway) is because she loves William Shakespeare. She read them all, she's seen them all, and I never had the heart telling her that while I basically know what most of Shakespeare's plays are about, the closest I ever got to them was by watching movies like Much Ado About Nothing (1993) and O (adaptation of Othello, 2001). Quite obviously I don't qualify for an expert of Shakespeare.

In my defense I'd like to point out that I would have loved to go and see The Tempest while in London recently. Of course the reason for that wasn't so much related to Shakespeare than the fact that Ralph Fiennes plays in it and he is an amazing actor (who, by the way, has finally grown back hair, say bye bye Voldemort). Of course it's next to impossible to get a ticket on such short notice, so all I saw was the theater where it plays from the outside and lots of local ads everywhere. But back to Shakespeare.

The poet and dramatist is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, often called England's national poet. It's those 38 plays he's best known for, but he also wrote countless sonnets and poems. From his early plays, mostly comedies such as As You Like It, and histories such as Henry V, it was only in his later years that he started writing tragedies like Hamlet or Romeo And Juliet. Respected in his own time, it wasn't until the 19th century that his reputation reached its peak. Interesting to know is how around 150 years after Shakespeare's death, doubts began to be expressed about the authorship of the works attributed to him. Most academics stick to the traditional attribution though.

Is Shakespeare still worth being read today. I say yes, despite the fact that I never actually read anything by him. Just look at the timelessness of the stories themselves which is reflected in adaptations that the younger generation came to know through the big screen. His words certainly haven't lost its appeal or message. And I should really sit down and read one of his plays rather sooner than later.

September 29, 2011

Picture Garden - White

It's white, it's white ... wait a minute!
It's not snow.

September 28, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Big Cozy Books

If you're anything like me then you probably daydream not only of shelves filled with books but venture into even more fantastic book realms. Bookish furniture. I'm not talking about bed linen with a Harry Potter print here. I'm talking about real furniture. As in seats and tables that will not only invite you to read a book, but will also look like one. Curling up not just with a book, but on a book.

Erik Olofson began creating whimsical Big Cozy Books when his kids thought his design for a local library seating area was, well, boring. His daughter asked him "Why don't you make the seats look like big books?" and the rest is history. Today Big Cozy Books provides creative furniture designs for commercial and public use, perfect for businesses, libraries, offices, reception areas, and more. The passion for reading and books is at the heart of every design.

I admit I was instantly smitten. Not as though it would be feasible in my apartment, but I'm thinking big here. Big as in when one day I have a house. Or kids. Or my own book shop.

But why don't you take a look yourself?

Wouldn't this be a great place to hang out and read? I think so too.

September 27, 2011

Review - Predators Of Darkness: Aftermath (Leonard D. Hilley II)

The desolate streets of downtown Pittsburgh in 2073 are a reminder of the missile attack that forever changed the lives of the surviving scientists and students hidden in the fallout shelter of Helmsby's Genetic Research Center. Believing themselves to be the only survivors, they station themselves inside the center until food supplies near depletion. Thinking the fallout has lessened, they emerge three years later to discover strange creatures patrolling the streets in search of human flesh and blood. The creatures possess the ability to shift their genomes and alter their appearances by realigning their genetic sequences. Daniel Hutchinson soon discovers mysteries more frightening than the shifters. The tip of Pittsburgh has been fenced off. Low-flying helicopters observe the streets. He ponders the question: Were the shifters released as simply part of a military experiment with humans being their prey?

Available at Amazon

Admittedly I was already smitten after reading the opening line "Dropping a cat from the top ledge of a ten-story office building was not the best way to remain hidden, but it was necessary." and if you need to know the fate of the cat (or the one who dropped it), let's just say both stick around a little longer.
Predators Of Darkness: Aftermath presents itself as science fiction thriller, but there's also a fair amount of horror involved. Leonard D. Hilley II has written quite a page turner, offering both a fascinating premise and well devised characters. Starting out with survivors of a nuclear attack who are trying to survive on a day-to-day basis, fending off the so-called shifters, it soon becomes clear that nothing in their world is quite what it seems.
Fast paced and well executed the book immediately transported me right into the action. From the survivors adjusting to the dire circumstances, in a group literally coined by a pecking order, to the twists and turns that slowly let them find out what really led to their situation, this was a truly engrossing read. In fact, I think the book has a lot of movie potential!
The one thing I disliked was how the romantic scenes were far from realistic, and especially Daniel's respective behavior simply didn't fit his character at all. Those scenes could use a serious revision!
In short: Highly recommended to science fiction fans with a penchant for horror!

4/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review - All Hallows' Moon (SM Reine)

The good girl has become a very bad werewolf...
Rylie survived her transformation. She moves to her aunt’s ranch in the hopes she can enroll in a new high school and quietly continue her life-- except that she transforms into a monster every new and full moon and struggles to control her murderous urges.
Without many werewolves left, it’s hard to stay in hiding. A family of hunters -- Eleanor, Abel, and Seth -- recognize the signs and follow Rylie to her new home. They want to stop her before she murders someone, and the only way to do it is with a silver bullet. Seth soon realizes the werewolf is Rylie, the one monster he failed to kill. Worse yet, he’s still in love with her.
Torn between family and love, Rylie struggles to reconcile her feelings and control the wolf within while Seth fights to do what’s right. But what is right-- obeying desire or duty?

Available at Smashwords and Amazon

I already had the pleasure of reading the first book of the Seasons of the Moon series by SM Reine, so when I got the chance to review the next book I honestly couldn't resist. As much as sequels have this tendency to be weaker, thus all too often not living up to my expectations, this was absolutely not the case here.
All Hallows' Moon takes off were the first book ended. Not able to cope with the city life Rylie now lives on her aunt's ranch in a small town, struggling to fit in at the new school, and most of all trying to keep the werewolf inside her at bay. And then, suddenly, Seth turns up with his family of werewolf hunters in tow.
Narrated from the view of Rylie, the story is both smoothly written and fast paced all the way through, without neglecting character development. I loved how every character, down to minor ones, is so three-dimensional and well devised. Exploring the relationship between Rylie and Seth in a believable and endearing way this is definitely not just another shallow teen-novel. It only goes to show that some authors are more than able to write engaging fiction presenting realistic, relatable characters and emotions, albeit in a paranormal setting.
It's safe to say that I love how the ending promises another book - hopefully soon!
In short: A must-read for fans of werewolf stories and a worthy sequel in a wonderful new series!

4/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Quote Garden - Flourish

Flourish the flowers and the tall trees
I'll tell you a story you'll never believe
I met a rich stranger
he came calling on me
we walked through the forest
down by shady grove
now that's where he sleeps

and last winter's storms have swollen the streams
and flooded the pathway
and last winter's storms will cover his tracks
across the wide field

and no one is waiting
none left behind
nobody's waiting to recall
last winter's squall

I cut off two fingers
both shining with gems
and planted them side by side
like two flowering stems
and all through the summer
I been watering them

and last winter's storms have swollen the streams
and flooded the pathway
and last winter's storms will cover our tracks
across the wide field

and no one is waiting
none left behind
no bodies waiting to recall
last winter's squall

© Penelope Houston

September 26, 2011

A Writer's Life - My pen shall never have to go through this

It would be really cruel. The emotional damage I could inflict on my pen. Or keyboard for that matter. You see, some things it should not have to write. And I'm not referring to killing off characters. It's a question of the genre.

Most authors write in a certain niche, maybe fantasy or contemporary romance. A lot will branch out a little and dip into different genres, often combining them quite successfully. A few daring ones will even try out all there is, from historical romance to political satire, often lured by what's all the rage at the moment. I guess the eclectic writer is a good counterpart to the eclectic reader. Or is it?

Personally I do have my preferences when it comes to writing - I love speculative fiction, especially science fiction and dystopia, and I've also got a thing for those tightly woven, dialogue heavy thrillers with a surprising twist. Certainly there are other genres that I don't rule out to one day try out. I might have a hilariously funny chick lit story inside of me that just has to be released (first from myself, and consequently in book form). There might even be a creepy piece of horror hidden in the depths of my mind just waiting for a moment of inattentiveness to sneak out. Who knows?

And then *drumroll* there are those genres that I know with absolute certainty will never desecrate my pen (or keyboard). Splatterpunk? *shudders* Western? *stifling a yawn* And looking across from novels to other literary forms, well, I don't see myself writing poetry or a play for the theater either.

Having read a fair share of author interviews I realize I'm not alone with writing in a certain group of genres, while at the same time reading books from a much wider spectrum of genres. They say you should write the books that you'd love to read. So why not write in a genre that you never tried out in writing but obviously enjoy in reading? This is actually a good question.
Lack of time would be a valid excuse. You can only write this much without having some clones lined up who do the laundry for you or take out the dog. I guess the point is that when writers write we do so in the worlds we love the most. Reading outside our own little creative haven is as much entertainment for us as it broadens our horizons. Sometimes we need to get out of the rut of our own genres to view it with new eyes when we return.

Does the eclectic reader equal an eclectic writer? Not as far as I can see. And I don't think it's necessary either.

September 25, 2011

In My Mailbox (15)

After all the books that accumulated during my vacation I thought that I probably wouldn't have anything to brag about this week, but fear not, my mailbox had some sweet surprises for me!

While I was still in London I was picked as winner of A Carrion Death and The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu (Michael Stanley) on Kittling Books. The books arrived real quick and *woot* are personalized too!
All in all I must say I've been very lucky with this win - not only do the books sound like great and thrilling reads, but they even survived the trip in the mail wrapped only in *let me take a deep breath now* one layer of packing paper. Considering the fact that parts of the books were already exposed they luckily don't look as if they've been dragged through half the continent *shudders at the horrible thought*.

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

Books Aplenty - You will never believe this

If you're following my book hoarding every week I'm sure you'll have your doubts about what I'm going to tell you now, but I swear it's true ... I did not add any new eBooks this week. No free downloads, no requests for eGalleys, no food for my lil' eReader (who's grown fat over the past months anyway). Actually I can't believe it myself. And if it weren't for the fact that two physical books which I've recently won had sat in my mailbox this week (IMM post up next), I'd now be checking my pulse.

So, now that we've established that my TBR piles did not substantially grow, how about risking a glance on all the books I read? Basically I decided to read for pleasure this week. Not as though books for review would not be fun to read too, but you know what I mean. Just reading at your heart's content, whatever strikes your fancy when looking at the TBR pile. That was my plan this week.

I already started on The Knowledge Of Good & Evil (Glenn Kleier) last weekend. I've been waiting so long for another book by the author, as I loved his first novel so much, and well ... my expectations were so high they probably couldn't be met. Don't get me wrong now - it's a really good book with a truly fascinating and thought-provoking premise (and quite an ending, woah) but I had some issues with it nonetheless. Mostly it was a rather slow read and the book could certainly use a slight trim towards the end, when Ian travels through Hell, as it looses a lot of momentum through its often quite elaborate descriptions. It's not as though elaborate and fast paced couldn't go hand in hand after all.

And two more things. First, Rikki if you read this, our good old friends the "Hapsburger's" are back. I really wonder why suddenly every US author is using this version of the name. Secondly, there've been German words and phrases in the book and you can tell that the person who edited the book had as much knowledge of the German language as the author. Next to none. Using online dictionaries to throw in some phrases in other languages is risky business, that's for sure.

Next came a couple of RAKs I received during the past weeks.

I started with 0.4 (Mike Lancaster) and finished the book in one afternoon. Here, the main protagonist has recorded his story on tapes delivering his words to posterity, which made for a different kind of narrative, but it fit the story line perfectly. And I must say the idea behind it is both creepy and intriguing. If I have one complaint than that the two adults in the group of "unchanged" humans were acting either out of whack or overly adult. Then again, that's a YA book for you!

Then I read The Forest Of Hands And Teeth (Carrie Ryan) which I absolutely loved. Who would have thought I'd ever grow a liking for zombie novels? Probably compensating the fact that I'm a vegetarian, hahaha! But seriously, the book reminded me a bit of the movie The Village, enter a handful of zombies and a girl torn between love and the ocean. The intense narrative really got to me, tears and all, which made it such an amazing read. The sequel is already on my wishlist!

Finally I went for Matched (Ally Condie) which is one of many dystopian novels I've read over the past months. Maybe I've read too many great ones, but it turned out to be just a nice, average book with an interesting but not all that special or even surprising plot - basically the perfect read for teens who crave romance and love triangles in books. One aspect I certainly liked was how this Society only kept 100 books, poems, paintings, and songs. Everything else has been destroyed, because it allegedly holds no value. That was an interesting thought and I wished there had been a whole lot more focus on this than the love story.

September 24, 2011

Pajama Musings - Just listen

Maybe it's just me, but lately it seems I read about audio books quite a lot on other blogs. Obviously audio books as such aren't such a new thing. I remember when I was still working at a bookshop (back in the good ol' times at Uni) we had a small number of them available and no one ever seemed to buy one. I'm not sure whether this was because of the kind of books that were on offer, the hefty price tag or the fact that most were abridged versions of the actual books.

Time for a confession. I've never listened to an audio book. Though, to be completely honest with you, I did have tapes with fairy tales as a kid, but I won't count those now. It just never occurred to me that audio books might be an option when it comes to reading. Reading means turning pages, or pushing buttons as of lately. Still, there is a big difference between moving from physical books to eBooks compared to trying out audio books.

The thing is that I've heard a whole lot of good things about audio books. Some fellow bloggers seem to love them which makes me wonder whether to give it a try or not.

I do have a few concerns though. The price being one of them. Audio books don't come cheap. You can't just wait for the paperback version here after all. You'll get a paperback for roughly $8,00 and then you have the audio book for $20,00 and it's considered a bargain. Then, of course, I noticed that a lot of audio books come in abridged versions. That's like buying a book with every other page missing. The only good thing abridged versions have going for them is that they are cheaper than the unabridged ones. Last of all, and this is probably the most important part, what if I totally dislike the narrator's voice? I mean, this isn't something you can ignore. You will have to go through with it for several hours and might even end up wishing for the abridged version after all because of the whiny or otherwise irritating voice. And even if the voice itself is ok, you might feel it just doesn't fit the narration/book. Oh, so many excuses for not listening to audio books!

Despite the voice (not whiny, but soothing, haha) telling me to stick to the good old fashioned page-turning experience of enjoying a book, I am curious about audio books. I'd love to hear your opinions on them. Have you ever listened to audio books? Do you actually love and recommend them? Or are you more like me, a bit skeptic due to the reasons mentioned above? Let me know.

Banned Books Week Hop

Welcome to the
Banned Books Week Hop
(September 24th - October 1st)
hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and I Read Banned Books

What is a giveaway hop? That's simple. Each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another. For followers this means lots of chances to win free books and other goodies. For blogs hosting a giveaway it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win!

Before I let you in on what you can win on my blog, a few words about Banned Book Week:
Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.
Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

And now …
… curious about what you can win?

I'm giving away a “Reading Is Not A Crime” Messenger Bag (in case the winner should prefer another book related messenger bag worth up to $ 28,50 that's ok too) from Cafepress. This spacious bag is not only perfect for school or work, it also makes a statement. A messenger bag with a message, you get the idea!
Please note: I am in no way affiliated with Cafepress, I just happen to like the stuff they sell. Also, I will have the prize shipped to the winner directly through Cafepress to save on additional shipping costs.

All you have to do is answer the following question and leave your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.

The question:
Reading is not ... ?
(We've already established it is no crime, but what else is reading not?)

Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

One winner will be picked through on October 2nd and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

And now, head on over to the rest of the blog hop participants!

September 23, 2011

The Others - Alexandra Potter

Finally a Potter without a magic wand. Just kidding.
As far as I remember I first encountered Alexandra Potter through Amazon recommendations and bought Be Careful What You Wish For on a whim. I ended up enjoying it so much that I got another book by her, Me And Mr. Darcy, which convinced me that I actually needed to put that author on my must-read list for everything chick lit. Perfect brain candy. Not necessarily deep, a light read that will make you smile, with sweet and quirky characters, and basically the perfect material for escapism for romantic souls out there. You see, it doesn't always have to be Ms. Austen herself, sometimes readers need book like these. Some may frown upon the genre in general, but hey, to each their own.

And apropos Mr. Darcy ... Alexandra won the Best New Fiction award for the book at the Jane Austen Regency World Awards in 2008. So far she's written eight romantic comedy novels, yet I see them more like romantic and funny chick lit which, now that I think about it, is probably the same thing anyway.

Before I go, let me share with you what Alexandra has to say about her typical writing day:
I’m often asked about my writing day and I understand the curiosity. I too find it fascinating to read about other authors and how they just sit down, turn on their computer and fire off 5000 words before lunchtime. Then take the rest of the day off.

Oh, if it only was so easy for me!
My writing day usually goes something like this…

Make coffee, check emails, go on the internet: read all the papers online, my horoscope, ichat my mum, call my fellow writer-friend to brainstorm, make more coffee, have lunch…
No, but seriously –
Actually, I am being serious.
Every day I go through this ritual. Only once I’ve exhausted every single possible excuse for procrastination, do I finally start writing.
Writers are experts at procrastination. For me, it’s mostly down to fear – the fear that I won’t be able to think of a single funny thing to write and I’m going to spend hours staring at a flashing cursor, my mind as blank as the screen in front of me.
I’ve written seven books and trust me, I still have those days.

So this is what I’ve learned:
Inspiration does not strike in the Zara changing rooms.
You’re bottom does not leave that chair until you’ve written something.
And a lot of somethings, eventually, make a novel.

September 21, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - The Writer's Museum

Welcome to yet another Travel Edition of Beyond the Shelf. This time let me take you straight to Edinburgh. Just a few steps from the famous Royal Mile you will find The Writer's Museum tucked away in one of the "closes" that are like small paths (with lots and lots of steps) between buildings.

The Writers’ Museum celebrates the lives of three great Scottish writers – Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. If you never heard of the three, shame on you. Though, admittedly I had to rake my mind a little myself to remember what Walter Scott's been writing.

In this small museum (free entry) you can see portraits, rare books and personal objects including Burns’ writing desk, the printing press on which Scott’s Waverley Novels were first produced, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s riding boots among many other items. The stories of these three writers are told through personal objects, portraits, manuscripts and first editions, and it already starts before you enter the museum.

When you approach the museum take a look at the ground and you'll find quotes by the three, but also other Scottish writers engraved there.

There are no stars so lovely as Edinburgh street-lamps.
Robert Louis Stevenson

If you love to get a feeling for those great writers and their work this museum is definitely worth a visit. Your thoughts might not be as weird as mine (looking at Stevenson's riding boots I pondered the possibility of one day having my sneakers in a similar exhibition in my home town which led me to rethink both my footwear and my big ego - but I digress). On a more serious note, it's fascinating to see things like first editions and drafts by authors, or *insert theme music from the Twilight Zone* Stevenson’s wardrobe made by the infamous Deacon Brodie whose double life may have inspired the novel The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde.

The writers celebrated in the museum have no direct connection with the house. Though Robert Burns lived in neighbouring Baxter’s Close when he arrived in Edinburgh in his later years.

September 20, 2011

Quote Garden - The Writer

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
Flannery O'Connor

Writers aren't people exactly. Or, if they're any good, they're a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Five common traits of good writers: (1) They have something to say. (2) They read widely and have done so since childhood. (3) They possess what Isaac Asimov calls a "capacity for clear thought," able to go from point to point in an orderly sequence, an A to Z approach. (4) They're geniuses at putting their emotions into words. (5) They possess an insatiable curiosity, constantly asking Why and How.
James J. Kilpatrick

Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for.
Alice Walker

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.
Ernest Hemingway

September 19, 2011

A Writer's Life - Those Golden Rules for Writers

I'm pretty sure you've read this one before, but those rules for writers aka checklist for professional writing skills somehow never fails to make me smile. Thus, I want to share it with you today!

26 Golden Rules for Writers

1. Don’t abbrev.

2. Check to see if you any words out.

3. Be carefully to use adjectives and adverbs correct.

4. About sentence fragments.

5. When dangling, don’t use participles.

6. Don’t use no double negatives.

7. Each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.

8. Just between you and I, case is important.

9. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.

10. Don’t use commas, that aren’t necessary.

11. Its important to use apostrophe’s right.

12. It’s better not to unnecessarily split an infinitive.

13. Never leave a transitive verb just lay there without an object.

14. Only Proper Nouns should be capitalized. also a sentence should begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop

15. Use hyphens in compound-words, not just in any two-word phrase.

16. In letters compositions reports and things like that we use commas to keep a string of items apart.

17. Watch out for irregular verbs that have creeped into our language.

18. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.

19. Avoid unnecessary redundancy.

20. A writer mustn’t shift your point of view.

21. Don’t write a run-on sentence you’ve got to punctuate it.

22. A preposition isn’t a good thing to end a sentence with.

23. Avoid cliches like the plague.

24. 1 final thing is to never start a sentence with a number.

25. Always check your work for accuracy and completeness.

Author unknown

September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox (14)

There it was, a nice stack of books that arrived during my absence ... they make for one wonderfully awesome IMM post, that's for sure. Admittedly, I am partly responsible for the whole book haul, as I ordered a few books before I left to ensure I wouldn't have nothing to show off in my next IMM post. But I shouldn't have worried, because I received tons of bookish goodness.

Let's see ...

Back in spring I've won a pre-order of Ashes (Ilsa Bick) in the Dystopian Domination event at Fragments of Life which now rolled in. And very lucky me won a signed copy of Last Sacrifice (Richelle Mead) in the Show Me Your Teeth Blog Hop over at Ficticious Delicious who also threw in a hand full of swag for me, yay!

Then Rikki from Rikki's Teleidoscope RAKed me back with Gone (Michael Grant) while still waiting for TBD to finally deliver the book I sent her five weeks ago *grumbles*. And Donna from Book Passion for Life also sent me a birthday RAK, namely 0.4 (Mike Lancaster).

These four I bought myself - Wild Ride (Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer), Books Can Be Deceiving (Jenn McKinlay), Die Buying (Laura Disilvero) and Let's Play Dead (Sheila Connolly). If it hasn't been clear by now, yup, I love reading mysteries.

And, won from the Early Reviewers at LibraryThing, I received Secrets Of Transformation (Eva Dillner).

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

Books Aplenty - Back to the usual business

Now that we've established that I didn't read anything during my vacation, I must admit I've been kind of slow returning into a reading state of mind this week. Anyway.

Back to business. Books for review won't read themselves, so it was up to me. But that's ok, because both were fabulous reads.

The second in the series, All Hallow's Moon (SM Reine), was a real treat. I remember that I was fairly new to YA books, paranormal ones at that, when I read the first book, and I incredibly enjoyed it. All too often sequels don't quite hold up to (my) expectations, but that absolutely wasn't the case here. I loved Rylie's development and how Seth and his family were incorporated into the story. A thrilling read. Not a dull moment there. And the characters, down to the minor ones, were wonderfully well devised. Never heard of SM Reine? Love werewolves? Read her books!

Yet another series, book one in this case, Predators Of Darkness: Aftermath (Leonard D. Hilley II) turned out to be quite the page turner for me. Not only does it offer a fascinating premise and realistic characters, I was already smitten with the opening line "Dropping a cat from the top ledge of a ten-story office building was not the best way to remain hidden, but it was necessary." and if you need to know the fate of the cat (or the one who dropped it), let's just say both stick around a little longer. Ohhh ... I love a good science fiction story! Especially ones with a twist and were nothing is quite what it seems ...

Two books really aren't much, but I started another one yesterday. I certainly wouldn't want to disappoint Glenn. Not to mention that after waiting for a decade or so for another book by him I was excited like a Chihuahua when I received The Knowledge Of Good & Evil (Glenn Kleier) shortly before I went on vacation. More about this one next week.

Books that rolled in. And roll in they did.

I know what some of you might say now ... didn't I promise to go on a request hiatus on LibraryThing. Uhm, well, yeah ... I did and I still am, but *ahem* there was one book by an author who I've read and very much enjoyed before, so I simply had to have his second collection of short stories too. Luckily I was one of the lucky ones to win a copy of Ice Age (Iain Rowan).

Then, of course, the inevitable free download. I snagged Fatal Destiny (Marie Force) on Carina Press.

As my NetGalley loot has dropped to a measly two books, I also requested and received three more this week - Amglish, In Like, Ten Easy Lessons (Arthur Rowse), That's Disgusting (Rachel Herz) and The Grand Design (Stephen Hawking).

The next hiatus will be for free download from Christianbook, because ...
A Daughter's Inheritance (Tracie Peterson), My Heart Remembers (Kim Vogel Sawyers), No Place For A Lady (Maggie Brendan), The Preacher's Bride (Jodie Hedlund), The Choice (Suzanne Woods Fisher), A Hope Undaunted (Julie Lessman), Stars Collide (Janice Thompson), The Oak Leaves (Maureen Lang) and Soon (Jerry B. Jenkins).

Now brace yourself, because the IMM will be up shortly, and I promise it will make you drool!

We have a winner ...

First of all a big THANK YOU to all of my wonderful guest bloggers for pretty much doing my job while I've been on vacation. Not only did all your posts go up as planned *yay* upon checking the statistics I could also see that they received lots of hits from readers and a fair amount of fun and interesting comments. Which leads me to ...

... the results of the Guest Blogger Days Giveaway!

Obviously all my guest blogger deserve to win, but nine of you will have to make do with a big hug. But as a small token of appreciation there is a lucky guest blogger who's won herself a $10,00 Amazon GC, and that blogger is ...

And it wouldn't have been a comment related giveaway if there wasn't a commenter who's won too! Depending on where she's from she'll have her pick of either a $10,00 Amazon GC or a book worth up to $10,00 from TBD.


E-mail is on the way and please get back to me within the next 48 hours!

September 17, 2011

Pajama Musings - When your TBR pile gets too big

You know what your bookshelves look like.
Or your stacks. Piles. Heaps.

You probably think that it really couldn't get any worse than it already is?
There might be your downstairs neighbor complaining that the ceiling is kind of creaking and, worst of all, sagging. Or your significant other needs to buy some climbing gear to even get in and out of your apartment. That's nothing to what I'm going to show you now.

Just imagine opening the window and your ginormous TBR pile is tumbling onto the street outside. This should probably be a warning. Then again, it looks kinda cool!

The reason for this blog post?
Don't. Even. Ask.

Calling all Austrian and German readers!

Heute werde ich einmal den Großteil meiner LeserInnen ein wenig verwirren (oder deren Sprachkenntnisse verbessern, man weiß ja nie) und einen ganzen Blogeintrag in der deutschen Sprache verfassen. Wer sich jetzt wundert, tut dies zu Recht. Aber ich habe einen guten Grund dafür. Neugier.

Es würde mich ja nun wirklich sehr interessieren, wie viele von euch aus Österreich oder Deutschand kommen. Vor allem, war euch eigentlich allen bewusst, dass ich Österreicherin bin? Womöglich sogar die einzige österreichische Bloggerin mit englischsprachigem Bücherblog? Jedenfalls ist mir bisher, schockierenderweise, kein(e) weitere(r) untergekommen ...

Wie dem auch sei - ein herzliches Grüß Euch!

Ich würde mich freuen, von euch zu hören bzw zu lesen, und um mal meinen "naheliegensten" LeserInnen etwas Gutes zu tun, gibt es auch ein kleines aber feines Gewinnspiel!

Was könnt ihr abstauben? Ein Set mit folgenden Büchern - Inside Out (Maria V. Snyder), The Maze Runner (James Dashner) und The Replacement (Brenna Yovanoff). Alle Bücher sind neu und ungelesen, wobei das mittlere leider etwas "transportbeschädigt" ist, dh das Cover ist vorne und hinten geknickt.

Mitmachen kann jede/r österreichische oder auch deutsche LeserIn meines Blogs. Im Falle eines deutschen Gewinners erfolgt der Versand mit Hermes. Ich würde ja auch gerne die Schweiz inkudieren, aber (danke auch, liebe österreichische Post) der Versand dafür ist einfach zu hoch und Hermes liefert leider (noch?) nicht zu euch.

Was müsst ihr tun? Einfach einen netten Kommentar hinterlassen und eine Angabe, aus welchem der beiden Länder ihr kommt. Bitte gebt auch eine e-mail Adresse bekannt, damit ich den oder die glückliche GewinnerIn kontaktieren kann!

Falls ihr die Bücher schon besitzen solltet, dürft ihr natürlich trotzdem kommentieren (ich bitte sogar darum). Schreibt dann einfach dazu, dass ihr am Gewinnspiel nicht teilnehmen wollt.

Das Gewinnspiel wird fürs erste zwei Wochen lang offen sein, dh bis zum 30. September. Falls bis dahin nur zwei Einträge eintrudeln, was ich ja nun doch nicht hoffe (aber man weiß ja nie), wird es eventuell verlängert! Ihr dürft auch ruhig Werbung machen für das Gewinnspiel - das gibt zwar keine Extrapunkte bei der Ziehung, aber ich würde mich freuen, wenn sich mehr deutschsprachige LeserInnen hier tummeln würden.

In diesem Sinne Bis bald!

September 16, 2011

The Others - The Ghostwriter

Have you ever read a book written by a ghostwriter? Maybe not, or you might not have been aware of it at the time, but either way, I'm pretty sure you've heard of ghostwriters before. Basically a ghostwriter is a professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person.

All those hyped books by celebrities? Mostly ghostwritten. Though it doesn't stop there, because other people, eg political leaders, often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, magazine articles, or other written material.
While some ghostwriters are hired to edit and clean up a rough draft, others will do most of the writing based on an outline provided by the credited author. For some projects, they have to do a substantial amount of research, especially in case they were hired to write an autobiography for a well-known person or for non fiction books in general.

Ghostwriters are also hired to write fiction in the style of an existing author, often to increase the number of books by a popular author, eg Tom Clancy. Considering the fact that fans of this author are usually more after a fast paced and action packed plot, and not the style and prose of Mr Clancy, they might not be that bothered about this. The franchising of Tom Clancy books goes back more than a decade, and ghostwriting is probably as old as Homer. So obviously this ghostwriting thing is not really new, and working just fine. At least for some.

While I researched for this blog post I also remembered how Enid Blyton, one of my favorite authors from my childhood, was said to have used a ghostwriter based on the fact that she managed to write so many books in a relatively short time. If it's true or not, I cannot say, but it seems to me that ghostwriting is a phenomenon that is a lot more common than I thought it would be.

The question remains - why would anyone want to be a ghostwriter? Even if they do get acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her writing services, what's the point? Pay check? Probably. I can only imagine what it must be like to see a bestselling book that you've written, and it's got someone else's name on it. Of course, if the book turns out to be a shelf warmer, it's not quite as bad.

Last but not least, I came across something else too ... the blog ghostwriter. Well, let it be said, I write all those blog posts you find here myself. Apart from the obvious guest posts, of course. Hiring a ghostwriter? I don't think so. But go ahead and google "blog ghostwriter" ... you'll be amazed or shocked. Maybe both.

Have you ever read a ghostwritten book? Do you know any authors who use ghostwriters? Let me know.

September 15, 2011

Picture Garden - The Bear Phone

A bear is living in my phone ... but that's ok 'cause I love bears!

September 14, 2011

Blog Survey Results

A little over a month ago I posted my first blog survey and it's time to share the results with you. Not only was it fun to read your answers it also satisfied my curiosity about who my followers are. And if this survey showed me something then that I can pride myself with having a real diverse and loyal readership.

Now, let's have a look at the results, shall we?

My average follower is female (what's up with that anyway, don't guys read or is my blog too girly or do they just not bother filling out surveys), age wise in their 20s or 30s and mostly situated in Europe or North America.

Most of you follow me, not all that surprisingly, through GFC, but I also have a fair share of folks who follow through RSS feed. And from now on - thanks for pointing that out, Stella - you also have the option to follow my blog by e-mail.

Visits to my blog seem to be a very individual thing ranging from several times a day (you know who you are *wink*) to once a week.

Now how did ya all find out about my blog? I'd have to lie if I said I didn't suspect the outcome to that one. So what could it possibly be? Giveaway hops! Yep! They sure lure them all in, but the important part is that folks will then stick around because they like my blog. Mission accomplished.

And what about my blog design? Almost everyone thinks it's nice. Alright, I can live with that. Hugs and kisses to those who said they love it!

Now *drumroll* to the content of my blog - I asked about your favorite features and those you could do without. First of all, bless you all who find all of them great and wouldn't want to miss any of it. Secondly, this made me realize just how diverse my readership really is.
For the curious among you, the most popular features are Beyond the Shelf and Pajama Musings, closely followed by A Writer's Life and Picture Garden. Of course everyone has their own preferences and will like certain features more than others.
Quite a few of you could do without the Quote Garden. I would have thought a lot would rather want to kick out The Others, but nope, it's the quotes that seem to have the smallest group of fans. Well, I hate to break the news to you, but this feature will stick around for a little longer. Though seeing how The Others not being all that popular either coinciding with my own plan to replace it with an all new feature by the end of the year anyway, I know I'm on the right track with my little blog schedule make-over plans.

Then I asked what you'd like to see more of. Someone wise (that would be you, Phanee) said, "The thing with blogs is that we should integrate them into our lifestyle, not let them take over it. So I think you shouldn't commit to doing more reviews (because at some point you might find you won't be able to keep up with it). As for memes, you should only do as many as you feel like doing without overcrowding your blog. I do a few memes, but I try and stick to 2-3 a week (which vary depending on the week). And as for giveaways, they cost you money, so you should only do them if you feel as if you can afford them!"
Trust me, I absolutely agree with this, still I was curious about my follower's cravings. Giveaways and reviews top the list, which I kind of expected. Everyone loves giveaways, so the more the better. I won't judge anyone for that, I feel the same way *lol*. As to reviews I have to say I never intended to actually post as many as I already do. There are countless blogs out there who almost exclusively post reviews while I mostly concentrate on regular blog posts that deal with all kinds of bookish things.

Back to those giveaways. A commenter of the month giveaway didn't thrill most of you, yet a surprise giveaway that lasts only for a day or two seems to be to almost everyone's liking. Good to know!

Stuff that can be won. Books from The Book Depository have won this one hands down. Though it's also a bit of a regional thing as folks from the US seem to prefer a Amazon GC instead. Book related goodies are also quite popular and thankfully no one suggested prices like a Ferrari.

As to your burning questions ...

I saw that one of your surnames is Horvath, are you or do you have any Hungarian connection (as this is quite a common name in Hungary)?

Horvath was my maternal grandfather's last name and I used it, along with my grandma's maiden name, to create my pen name Birgit Horvath-Muck. So yes, I do have Hungarian roots.

You are not religious, in fact, I think you are atheist?, but you read Christian Lit. Why? I am a Christian, but consider myself more spiritual than religious, but when I've tried to read Christian Lit, I can't handle it. I don't like having religion crammed down my throat. I find it curious that you are so into it...

Good question there! I think agnostic describes my belief system best, which I think doesn't rule out reading Christian books. I enjoy both the non fiction and fiction kind yet I think there is quite a difference between those two and the reasons why I like both.

Let's start with the latter. First of all, fiction is fiction, and I take characters the way they are, religious or not. Secondly I have always had this thing for "religious themed" novels, be it adventurous thrillers where archaeologists find yet another eye-opening artifact, or science fiction that often puts quite a new twist to God and the universe.

Then there are all those non fiction books that deal with religious, mostly Christian, themes. I want to know about the history and the myths, the facts and the theories, and I'll read books from both sides of the aisle to get the full picture. Some may say I'm trying to find my faith, but to me it's simply trying to find answers. Ultimately this is probably the same thing.

How do you stay focused? I always feel like I have too many things going on at once.

Have a plan. Seriously. With a blog schedule things get a whole lot easier, though in the end blogging, especially on a daily basis, is hard work. Of course it is a lot of fun, but it can also be quite stressful. A lot of people don't realize how much energy goes into it, but there are countless reasons that keep me going. I love to blog. I love the blogging community. And I love the daily challenge.

Having a plan and sticking to it are two pairs of shoes though. Sometimes real life does get in the way of blogging, so it never hurts to prepare a few future blog posts that you can quickly put online on a day when you don't have time to sit down to blog. I'm also quite fond of making lists with all the ideas/themes I want to blog about one day. Sometimes you wake up and your mind remains blank, so this is of tremendous help.

That said, I'm not always focused, but that unfocused state of mind does make for interesting (or shall I say weird?) blog posts too.

And last but not least, some of your lovely personal messages ...

Just wanted to say that I love reading your posts! I might not comment much, but I certainly do read them!

You're awesome!

Great blog, keep it going! I read it more for the reviews than the features, though - sorry! You must put in a lot of work.

You make my TBR list grow!

I really like your blog! I think it's quite interesting, not to mention the wonderful giveaways!

Beyond the Shelf - The British Library

Welcome to the Travel Edition of Beyond the Shelf. As you know I've just returned from a trip to the UK and I also stayed in London for a few days. Plenty to see and do, and obviously, being me, I had to put something bookish on my itinerary. Now you might argue, that going to a library on vacation is kind of weird, especially considering that I'm the kind of gal who won't read on vacation. Well, good point there, but The British Library is more than just a place to read and/or lend books.

You can actually discover quite a few treasures here. Gutenberg Bible? Check. Magna Charta? Check. Shakespeare? Well, come on we're in the UK ... of course you'll find copies of his plays here too. While these exhibits are well worth a visit all by themselves, The British Library also features exhibitions like the current Out of this World exhibition which, admittedly, was the main reason I had to go there in the first place. Being a huge science fiction fan it was basically a must-see for me. Photography unfortunately not allowed - though it was a blog post plus photos of a fellow book blogger who brought the exhibition to my attention in the first place *cough* - so I'm not able to entertain you with a pic of yours truly trying to get into Dr. Who's Phone booth. If you're a science fiction fan and happen to be in London now or in the next few weeks (it will be open until September 25th), you shouldn't miss out on a visit here. It also pays to check forthcoming exhibitions, such as Charles Dickens and the Supernatural which will be open November 29th 2011 through March 4th 2012.

Living too far away? Then the newly launched eBook treasures might be of interest to you, in case you're an iPad user. You can now download rare and unique manuscripts, like Leonardo Da Vinci's Notebook, in the iBookstore. 75 titles will be made available over the the next two years, bringing some of The British Library's most precious manuscripts straight to the reader.

Last but not least, how about sending one of the lovely e-cards the site offers? It's absolutely free and they've got some great images, like Snow White below, available.

September 13, 2011

Quote Garden - Getting emotional

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
Robert Frost

I hate when people ask what a book is about. People who read for plot, people who suck out the story like the cream filling in an Oreo, should stick to comic strips and soap operas ... Every book worth a damn is about emotions and love and death and pain. It's about words. It's about a man dealing with life. Okay?
J.R. Moehringer

I want to be the apostle of self destruction. I want my book to affect man’s reason, his emotions, his nerves, his whole animal nature. I should like my book to make people turn pale with horror as they read it, to affect them like a drug, like a terrifying dream, to drive them mad, to make them curse and hate me but still to read me and … to kill themselves.
Leonid Andreyev

For me, that emotional payoff is what it’s all about. I want you to laugh or cry when you read a story ... or do both at the same time. I want your heart, in other words. If you want to learn something, go to school.
Stephen King

Wisdom, ambition, sadness, joy, malice, grief, amazement, all the emotions which blaze within the human soul may be recorded on a page.
Nestled in a sheaf of paper sleeps an infinity beyond the limits of the universe. Just by opening a single page, we may fly into that infinity.
Tanigawa Nagaru

September 12, 2011

A Writer's Life - The Travel Writer

Maybe I'll have to cut this post short. What am I saying? I will cut this post short. Not as though I have nothing to say after my two week vacation, but I did not only bring back souvenirs from my trip to the UK, I also brought along a nasty cold. Basically I spent the last two days of my vacation eating Aspirin and cold meds. The humidity back home doesn't go all too well with my stuffed nose either. And my head feels like it weighs a ton and insists on resting on a comfy cushion.

Anyway, the even bigger reason why this will be a short post is that I didn't write while on the road. Actually this is something I tried and tried to do, sort of a travel experience kind of writing, since I was a teenager. Somehow I never made it past day three. It usually ended up with me thinking that I was too tired from what I did throughout the day and maybe I could continue writing the following day. Of course that never happened, so eventually I gave up on trying to aim being the next acclaimed travel writer, but instead focused on traveling itself. Besides, I'm always taking tons of pictures, which in itself is a bit like travel writing through the lens of my camera and consequently does qualify for writing. Sort of.

So, what it all boils down to is that I didn't write (unless signing those little paper slips when paying with my CC counts) and, as loyal followers of my blog already know, I didn't read on my trip either. But seeing how I not only love books, but also traveling, this isn't all that bad. In fact, all the wonderful and awesome impressions, especially in Scotland, inspired and spurred my creative mind and will surely leave its mark on future writings.

And apropos not writing. I decided to stay completely offline during my absence. Oddly enough I didn't miss the internet at all during those two weeks. Actually it felt great not to think about computers and e-mails and status updates. I must admit though that the moment I dropped my luggage the first thing I did was go online letting my Facebook friends know that I'm back, thus proofing that I obviously survived my time without the internet.

Bit of a huge bummer though that I couldn't accept my nomination for BBAW due to my absence. Well, another year, another chance. Besides, it would be sad if I planned my traveling life around awards, now wouldn't it?

September 11, 2011

Review - That Day In September (Artie Van Why)

We all have our stories to tell of where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. This is one of them. In "That Day In September" Artie Van Why gives an eyewitness account of that fateful morning. From the moment he heard "a loud boom" in his office across from the World Trade Center, to stepping out onto the street, Artie vividly transports the reader back to the day that changed our lives and our country forever. "That Day In September" takes you beyond the events of that morning. By sharing his thoughts, fears, and hopes, Artie expresses what it was like to be in New York City in the weeks and months following. The reader comes away from "That Day In September" with not only a more intimate understanding of the events of that day, but also with a personal glimpse of how one person's life was dramatically changed forever.

Available at Lulu and Amazon

Where were you on 9/11? I certainly remember and so will you. While this very moment left an impression on each and every one of us, it had an even deeper impact on those who saw everything with their own eyes, those who experienced the moments of stepping outside into the surreal world of destruction and pain first hand. Artie Van Why is one such person, working right next door, when the world forever changed.
That Day In September is a memoir of sorts, a vivid and poignant depiction of what Artie saw and experienced, and most of all, a way of coming to terms with what he witnessed that fateful day. While the importance of the book lies in its message, to remember those who lost their lives in the tragic events, it is at the same time an incredibly well written recollection by someone who never intended to be an author. This relatively short book encapsulates all the terror and fear that is hard to fathom for those who "only" watched the news on TV. It will touch you at the core, not to mention make you cry.
On a different note, I felt the chapter on how Artie ended up in New York wasn't really necessary for the book, and that the intermingling of his memories of "before" while being right in the middle of the devastating events would have sufficed.
In short: We should never forget and we never will!

4/5 stars
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 10, 2011

Answers to the "Book Quiz" by Rikki's Teleidoscope

First of all a little reminder to comment away on the posts by my wonderful guest bloggers as you've still got time to participate in the Guest Blogger Days Giveaway until September 17th. For more details please read my blog post of August 29th.

Now I bet you've all been waiting for the answers to the questions in last week's Book Quiz by Rikki from Rikki's Teleidoscope. I can't blame you. Some of her questions have been really tough, especially the one with the author photo. How on earth do you google a photo? Yikes.

1. Mainly green and yellow (“The Hobbit” by J. R. R. Tolkien, chapter 1)

2. St. John Rivers (“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte)

3. Milan Kundera

4. He claims she is his old aunt who lives in Tunbridge Wells. ("The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde)

5. “Tomorrow to be brave” by Susan Travers

6. Gossage and Vardebedian (“The Gossage – Vardebedian Papers”. You can read it here. It is absolutely hilarious, even if you don’t play chess).

7. Pandora Braithwaite (“The secret diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4” by Sue Townsend, and all the sequels)

8. Mameha (“Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden)

9. “Vera”

10. London – Suez – Bombay – Calcutta – Hongkong – Yokohama – San Francisco – New York – London (“Around the world in eighty days” by Jules Verne, Chapter 3)

September 9, 2011

Guest Post "What I Stashed in My Suitcase" by Badass Bookie

And we approach the end of the Guest Blogger Days with Aussie book blogger Lisa from Badass Bookie. While most of us will only pack a book (or two) when going on vacation, Lisa is the kind of gal who will take the whole cast with her on a desert island. I hope there's still room for sunscreen in her luggage ...


Hello Lovelies! It’s Lisa and I usually blog over at Badass Bookie BUT my super, duper awesome friend Birgit asked whether I would like to do a guest post on The Book Garden and who am I to turn down such an offer?

So I pondered hard about what I’m going to post about. Top Tens? Old. Review? Bo-ring. Heart Throbs? Love the idea but … I’m taking it a step further and I bring you … *dramatic pause* What I Stashed in My Suitcase …

The book and the characters I would love to spend the rest of my life with on a desert island …

The Book? Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini. One of my favourite debuts of the year, it was hard narrowing it down to one book but I can feel it, THIS is the right choice! First of all, Greek Mythology is totally badass! I love the whole concept of turning something so old into literature we all enjoy! Add to the mix – hot boys, drama, action, tension and a killer romance, what’s not to love? Where wouldn’t I want to spend the rest of my reading life with … Starcrossed (even the name is so *swoon* worthy :P)

(While we’re at it … US vs. UK Battle of the Cover? Which one do you prefer? I love the US cover but the UK cover is more relevant.)

The Characters? I would steal away Helen, Lucas, Jason, Claire, Ariadne and … hot, smexy, hot, badass, sexy, hot Hector. And to visually represent why I would stash Starcrossed in my suitcase … I’ve picked a dream cast!

Helen – Isabel Lucas (She’s Aussie!)

You Might Know Her from … Transformers

Lucas – Zach Roerig

You Might Know Him from … Vampire Diaries

Adriane – Jessica Lowndes

You Might Know Her from …90210

Jason – Logan Lerman

You Might Know Him from … Percy Jackson

Claire – Christian Serratos

You Might Know Her from … Twilight

Hector – Max Iron
You Might Know Him from … Red Riding Hood

Soooo what do you think? Are they worth spending the rest of my life with? Away from civilisation, on a desert island just me and …them? Mmmmm I think they are!
Badass Bookie xx

September 8, 2011

Guest Post "Original vs. Translation" by Miss Page-Turner's City of Books

Today's guest blogger is Sarah from Miss Page-Turner's City of Books. Sarah and I have quite a few things in common. Our native language is German, yet we both blog in English which might have quite a bit to do with the fact that we prefer to read books in their original English versions. No translations for us, if we can help it!


Currently there are about 243 books sitting on my shelves. 3 books are from Spanish origin. About 120 books are written in German, 15 written by German authors and 105 translated books. Approximately 120 are English.
What does that say about me and my reading habits and the fight between translations versus original novels in general?

As I’m from Germany one would suspect I read mostly German books. A few years ago I just read German books and English novels only for school. But I’m glad that my reading habits have changed from the time I first read a particular very popular novel. I read TWILIGHT in German translation and when I was finished I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next novel in the series. The story and characters fascinated me so I simply had to try to read the English version. I fell in love with the English language then.

The Wait

It takes a lot of time and work to translate an original English book into the German language. The time it takes to translate a book differs. Sometimes the book can be found in Germany even before its UK release. But often readers have to wait several months. Can you imagine waiting up to twelve months after the US release for the sequel of your favourite novel to come out in your country? Torture!

The Costs

Buying English books is awesome. While I spent some days in London over New Years Eve I couldn’t resist stalking the English book shops and I was overly surprised and thrilled about the fantastic book deals. I came home with a bunch of books and they weren’t even that expensive.
Every time I decide to buy the English Hardcover copy of a book instead of the German translation I save about 10 US $. English paperbacks cost about 5 US $ less than the translated German paperbacks.

The Language

In general I prefer to read a book in the language it was originally written in. I’m a huge fan of contemporary romance and YA fiction so I mostly read books written by English authors. And when I plan to read their story I want to read it in its birth language and the way it was meant to be. Reading the book in English allows me to get closer to the story and to the author’s thoughts that are essential part of the story and book.

German translations can even become pretty annoying. I read a few German translations that tended to change names and adapt them to the German form or the way people in Germany would name their children. E.g. a character from Lisa Mc Mann’s WAKE named Cabel ends up as a Carl in the German edition.
Chatting with international blogger buddies bears difficulties when it comes to discussing certain elements or new inventions of a story. Authors give things a special name and translators often tend to change them too, which I find very unpleasant.

The other way round

The translation business does not only go from English into the foreign language, but the other way round, too. The program BTBA wants to bring more great works from authors around the world to English-language. Winners, author and translator, even receive a $ 5000 prize.

Two of my favourite German books have already been translated into English and I’m overly happy about it. INKHEART by Cornelia Funke is a favourite of readers all over the world. And RUBY RED by Kerstin Gier hit the US bookshops in May 2011. I’m hoping for more German books being successful in the US and UK.
Foreign readers, reading these two books in German would still be a really great way to improve your German language skills.

The International Flow of Awesomeness

There are so many wonderful English, German and books written in every possible language that I often end up with more than one version of a book anyways. The covers each country chooses for their translated edition are so beautiful and fascinating that I am convinced that readers around the world got the same problem. When I’m roaming the local bookstores I can’t help it and need to buy another book, because the covers are so pretty. You see what I mean?

Sometimes when I’m not too busy with blogging or uni stuff I like to compare English to German translations. I find the differences between German and English syntax, vocabulary and language quite fascinating.

Even tough I prefer reading English over German novels, I consider the whole publishing business, the originals and translations part of a whole international flow of awesomeness in which every country has its very own special share. Regarding the ever growing blogging community, sharing literature internationally has never been that attractive before!

What about you, do you prefer reading original or translated books? What makes you want to read originals?

September 7, 2011

Guest Post "Book Shots" by Curiosity Killed The Bookworm

Do you like my Picture Garden every Thursday? Well, I have a very special treat for you bookish photo lovers today. Ellie from Curiosity Killed the Bookworm is not only a book blogger, she is also a marvel with her camera. Enjoy her photo-tastic homage to books!


September 6, 2011

Guest Post "What kind of holiday reader are you?" by Leeswammes' Blog

Today's guest blogger is Judith from Leeswammes' Blog. Judith is a book blogger from the Netherlands who not only loves to read at home but also on vacation. While she didn't confess just how heavy her book bag is when traveling, I sure hope to hear about your results to her fun quiz!


While Birgit is still going on her holidays, most of us only have memories to look back on. Maybe you didn’t even go anywhere this summer. But in any case, I will reveal to you what kind of reader you are on the basis of how you spent your holidays (past or present). I’ll also give you some reading advice now that you’re back home!
So, answer these questions and write down the number of As, Bs, Cs, and Ds you choose.

Question 1
You’re going on holiday tomorrow and you’ve got your reading sorted: your books and magazines are ready to be packed. While you’re doing some last minute shopping, you walk past a book shop. You:

a) Keep walking, the bakery is next door… yum!
b) Go in to have a quick look, just for fun.
c) You go in because you’re not sure you have enough books for the holiday – you buy a few more.
d) You look in the window but your favorite shop assistant, the guy who is the only reason you ever enter the book store, isn’t there. You walk on.

Question 2
You are on the plane towards your destination and the friendly woman next to you has been making small talk with you… for the last 3 hours. You:

a) Enjoy the conversation and offer her a few chocolates from a box that you bought tax-free at the airport.
b) Say: “I better finish reading this, I need to give the book back to someone when we get off.” [pointing vaguely at the rows of seats in front]
c) Turn back to your book that has been on your lap all the while and ignore her for the next hour.
d) Answer the woman on automatic pilot and try to catch the eye of the guy on the other side of the aisle.

Question 3
You’re at your destination airport. You have to wait a few minutes for the coach to bring you to your holiday hotel. You:

a) Look around you for a trash can. You enjoyed a few chocolates while waiting.
b) Keep thinking about your book, but don’t dare to get it out, in case you’ll get too engrossed and miss the coach.
c) Get out your book (the one from the plane) and read, almost missing the arrival (and departure) of the coach.
d) Try out your Spanish on the nice looking man behind the Avis desk.

Question 4
It’s breakfast time! You’re having a nice, relaxed breakfast with your holiday companions in the hotel restaurant, but one thing is missing:

a) The marmalade! How could they!
b) Your book – but you can’t read in company. That would be impolite.
c) Nothing! You have your book, toast with marmalade. What else would you need for breakfast?
d) The man you met last night. He turned out to be married and you chucked him out at midnight.

Question 5
You are having a great time in the sun, at the beach. You:

a) Have a hot-dog and a sangria in your hands, almost spilling them over your creased magazine.
b) Are having a good time with your beach read, which you enjoy when not swimming in the sea.
c) Are making good progress at War and Peace.
d) Have a book in your hands but are too busy checking out the “views”.

Question 6
It’s the evening and after a day at the beach, it’s time to hit the town! You:

a) Are looking forward to a nice meal in the all-you-can-eat restaurant (reasonably priced, too).
b) Hope to be back early enough to have a bit of time reading before going to sleep.
c) Ask your friends to bring you back a doggy bag – you just have to finish this book!
d) Are waiting to be picked up by José, who will take you to the disco.

Question 7
You are out on a day trip to the nearest big city. You and your friends have planned a full day of museums, parks, and shops. You:

a) Eat cake with your coffee, a waffle for on the go, lunch at the museum, ice cream in the park, some donuts while looking for a nice restaurant, and you bought some chocolates for in the plane, on the way home.
b) You enjoy the science museum and spend some time looking at the interesting books in the museum shop.
c) You especially love the park: sitting in the sun on a bench reading while your friends visit yet another museum.
d) You especially love the park: sitting in the sun on a bench, watching the local guys roller blading.

Question 8
The holiday is over and you’re back home. Your book situation is as follows. You:
a) Bought a cook book with local recipes while on holiday.

b) Never got through them all. You’re always overestimating what you’ll be able to read. But you managed at least 6. Not bad.
c) Finished them all! Had to get some fluffy trash novels from the hotel book shop too (it was all they had).
d) Mustn’t forget to take the bookmarks out of your book. They’re notes with email addresses from the guys you met.

Mostly As. You’re not much of a reader, are you? I suggest you try out audiobooks which you can listen to while you’re running, cycling, or on the home trainer. Yes, you do need the exercise, after all that holiday food!

Mostly Bs. You are an avid reader but you know when to stop. If you read a variety of books, you’ll never get bored.

Mostly Cs. Oops! Aren’t you overdoing the reading a bit? You are being impolite and unsociable just because you have to finish that book. Don’t take your books to outings with friends unless you’re going to a book club!

Mostly Ds. Well, reading isn’t high on your list. Instead, you’re living a chick-lit life. It’s all very well, but some quiet time with a real chick-lit might be fun, too. Have you tried Marian Keyes?