October 31, 2011

A Writer's Life - On Writing

Came across this just lazily browsing around on Goodreads and felt the need to share with you. Some words of wisdom for writers here.
And a chuckle, or two.

On Writing: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays

1. A beginning ends what an end begins.

2. The despair of the blank page: it is so full.

3. In the head Art’s not democratic. I wait a long time to be a writer good enough even for myself.

4. The best time is stolen time.

5. All work is the avoidance of harder work.

6. When I am trying to write I turn on music so I can hear what is keeping me from hearing.

7. I envy music for being beyond words. But then, every word is beyond music.

8. Why would we write if we’d already heard what we wanted to hear?

9. The poem in the quarterly is sure to fail within two lines: flaccid, rhythmless, hopelessly dutiful. But I read poets from strange languages with freedom and pleasure because I can believe in all that has been lost in translation. Though all works, all acts, all languages are already translation.

10. Writer: how books read each other.

11. Idolaters of the great need to believe that what they love cannot fail them, adorers of camp, kitsch, trash that they cannot fail what they love.

12. If I didn’t spend so much time writing, I’d know a lot more. But I wouldn’t know anything.

13. If you’re Larkin or Bishop, one book a decade is enough. If you’re not? More than enough.

14. Writing is like washing windows in the sun. With every attempt to perfect clarity you make a new smear.

15. There are silences harder to take back than words.

16. Opacity gives way. Transparency is the mystery.

17. I need a much greater vocabulary to talk to you than to talk to myself.

18. Only half of writing is saying what you mean. The other half is preventing people from reading what they expected you to mean.

19. Believe stupid praise, deserve stupid criticism.

20. Writing a book is like doing a huge jigsaw puzzle, unendurably slow at first, almost self-propelled at the end. Actually, it’s more like doing a puzzle from a box in which several puzzles have been mixed. Starting out, you can’t tell whether a piece belongs to the puzzle at hand, or one you’ve already done, or will do in ten years, or will never do.

21. Minds go from intuition to articulation to self-defense, which is what they die of.

22. The dead are still writing. Every morning, somewhere, is a line, a passage, a whole book you are sure wasn’t there yesterday.

23. To feel an end is to discover that there had been a beginning. A parenthesis closes that we hadn’t realized was open).

24. There, all along, was what you wanted to say. But this is not what you wanted, is it, to have said it?

By James Richardson

October 30, 2011

Books Aplenty - It's only a matter of speed

I wouldn't call myself a person who's perfected speed reading. Not even close. In fact, I wouldn't even know how to turn off this subvocalization thingy during the reading process, so "the speedy reader" isn't a nickname I will be getting any time soon. Still, I managed to read a fair share of books this past few weeks, in fact I already achieved the goal of reading 100 books for my reading challenge by mid-August. Including this week I have read a total of 133 books. If you're officially impressed now, so am I.

First came Evil Genius (Patricia Rice) which is a murder mystery type of book that mostly lives of the quirky main character Ana. While the storyline itself is rather meh - Ana is trying to get the mysterious new owner out of her deceased grandfather's mansion while at the same time trying to solve a crime involving textbooks (no kidding) - I really liked the smart and witty narrative. I could well imagine a sequel, especially with the unique cast of Ana's family there's plenty of potential, though I hope the plot will be a bit more engaging than this one.

Second in line was The Curse Of Anna Greene (Mary Aris) presents the story of the Greene family, spanning the centuries from the time when Anna is conceived to her death and ultimately the curse she casts on her murderers. An interesting story, yet the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The narrative feels choppy and the historical facts are awry to the extent of banana peels being thrown at a burning witch and bypass surgery in the 1920s. Yeah, right!

I followed up with the first two parts of a technological science-fiction thriller trilogy - PeaceMaker and Unholy Domain (Dan Ronco). While I really liked the idea behind the books - showing our dependency on technology when a computer virus enhanced with AI shuts down pretty much everything thus throwing the world into chaos and consequently showing the clash between religion and technology - it presented just too much tech-talk for my taste, and frankly, I would have preferred a focus on the effects on society instead of the wheelings and dealings of the evil Domain. Average thrillers of which I actually liked the second part a lot better!

New books this week? Nope.
Not even one tiny little free download.
Yup, I behaved. Very proud of self.

Unfortunately my mailbox also remained empty which means there won't be an IMM post AGAIN this week *sigh*. But, fear not, I recently ordered books at TBD, so ...

October 29, 2011

Review - The Realms Thereunder (Ross Lawhead)

In this fantasy novel Daniel and Freya, who've already got lost in The Realms Thereunder after wandering off on a field trip from school many years ago, are once again thrown into this mythical world beneath our own as adults. Ross Lawhead dips deeply into British Mythology in this first part of the Ancient Earth trilogy, including travel through enchanted gates and ancient knights, connecting it with our own world.
The narrative really hooked me from the start. It's exactly the - dare I say it - old-fashioned style in which the book is written, that makes it, in light of many newer and more modern novels, wonderfully refreshing. I loved how the reader slowly learns about Daniel's and Freya's story of suddenly finding themselves in the world of Nidergeard and how this journey made them the persons they are today. The narrative intermingles recent events with flashbacks to the first involuntary journey to another world and was so enthralling that it really kept me on my toes from chapter to chapter. While this book is actually Christian fantasy, the religious aspect blends in well, without in the least being preachy, but simply being part of the story line.
Wonderfully detailed, hard to put down, and a great ending make me look forward to the next installment! It's safe to say that Ross inherited the talent for story-telling from his father Stephen!
In short: A wonderful magical adventure story, not just for younger readers!

4/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. 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 - Dark Inside (Jeyn Roberts)

Throwing you into an apocalyptic scenario were dark things are rising and changing people, the premise of Dark Inside isn't all that different compared to other books of the genre. It all starts with an earthquake that makes people turn into crazy, violent killers. Not everyone is infected by this strange effect, among them Mason, Aries, Clementine, and Michael, who have to fight for survival on their search for others like them.
What sounds like a run-of-the-mill plot still managed to grab me from page one. Jeyn Roberts certainly wrote a page-turner with a lot of action-packed scenes and a great attention to detail, yet I also found the book lacking in some regards. Confronting the reader with five different POVs - four teenagers, plus the elusive "Nothing" - , which personally I really liked but for some might be distracting, there is a whole cast of distinct characters of which especially tough and smart Clementine grew on me. Apart from the well written main characters, the supporting characters feel too narrowly considered for the plot and could have used a bit more detail.
Being the first in a promising new series, sadly, this novel reads more like an introduction to the actual story and ends were I would have hoped for it to actually begin.
While being a YA novel, I'd personally recommend it to adults and more mature teenagers only.
In short: A gripping tale with more than one loose end!

3/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Simon & Schuster Galley Grab book review program. 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.”

Pajama Musings - Distracted much?

I might not agree to the exact percentage, but this graph isn't that far off the mark. Of course there will always be books that are so wonderfully engaging that you find yourself paying attention to every little detail of what you're reading. And then there are those books that ... inspire you to let your mind wander. That has happened to the best of us. It's funny how some books are literally made for being skimmed over - not naming any titles here *cough* - while others lure you into the land of daydreams which, come to think of it, will also make you re-read certain passages. So yes, more often than not, the red and the blue slice featured above go hand in hand.

Tell me, are you guilty of not always paying full attention to what you're reading? Don't be shy. I won't judge you. How could I? It's not as though I'd only experience the green part of this graph myself ...

October 28, 2011

The Others - J.K. Rowling

I owe J.K. Rowling a nice set of well defined upper arm muscles. That might be a strange thing to say, but it's true. Thanks to her my biceps are beautifully sculpted. Now you might wonder why this is so? Well, it doesn't have to do with reading one of the Harry Potter tomes, I'm afraid. It's solely due to the fact that when her books came out I used to work at a bookshop to finance my time at Uni aaand, you may have already guessed, I was stockpiling hundreds and hundreds of her books, painstakingly creating elaborate pyramids of wizardry proportions. All hardcover, of course. And yes, I'm serious. My arm muscles might have deteriorated over the years, but they still look real nice in sleeveless shirts.

Back to J.K. though. Apart from first encountering her books while stacking them, I have never actually read them. Not even one. Not even a page. Or excerpt, for that matter. You see, apart from the fact that I considered them books for kids, this isn't really my kind of genre either. Even after the whole world, kids and adults alike, went crazy standing in line for days to grab the newest Harry Potter sequel, I didn't quite get the whole attraction. To make things even worse, I haven't watched any of the movies either. I've seen trailers, obviously, but that's about it.

Despite the fact that I have never read her, I think J.K. does deserve a spotlight in my Friday feature. Isn't see living the rags-to-riches life any author dreams of? Granted, all those legal actions to protect the copyright of dear Harry must be a drag, but I'm sure the net worth of the Potter empire, which is estimated to be about $1 Billion, will make up for the stress and tension this may cause. You can afford a lot of relaxing trips to a private spas with that much money, I'd say.

Except for her seven Harry Potter novels, plus some supplements to the series such as The Tales Of Beedle The Bard, there are no stand-alone novels by her yet. Personally I'm curious about what will come next? Not as though there would still be the need to write books to fatten up the bank account, but I heard that J.K. plans to continue writing for children, because she enjoys it. Rumor has it that she's also working on a book for adults. I'm curious about the latter, I admit, and maybe, who knows, this will one day be the first book by Rowling I'll actually read!

October 27, 2011

Picture Garden - Fire

Not quite the time for roasting chestnuts on an open fire ...
... but it's always a good time to light a candle!

October 26, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - I Write Like

No need to be a writer (though it may help if you wrote more than notes on post-its or grocery shopping lists) to compare yourself to famous authors. I found I Write Like already last year and was quite eager to find out just who I write like. And here we go again.

This time I used pages of a current WIP ... in fact I used several pages, because I didn't quite like the result I got with only one page. Besides, and I really want to believe this, the result is more trustworthy the more text you use for the highly *cough* scientific analysis.

Those who got to know my blog in its early days might even remember that I allegedly write like Edgar Allen Poe. No more Poe for me. At least not when it comes to the text I used.

I write like
Ursula K. Le Guin

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Now that is neat! I mean, I take both Edgar Allan Poe and Ursula K. Le Guin any day!!

And hell, there is a pattern after all! I love science fiction and before anyone says that Poe was known for his horror stories, think again. He contributed considerable to the science fiction genre.

Curious? Head on over and try it out yourself! It's fun!!

Oh, and don't forget to share your result in the comments!

October 25, 2011

Quote Garden - Camping is nature's way of promoting the motel business

There's nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you've been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.

Aside from velcro, time is the most mysterious substance in the universe. You can't see it or touch it, yet a plumber can charge you upwards of seventy-five dollars per hour for it, without necessarily fixing anything.

Panicky despair is an underrated element of writing.

When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy.

I would not know how I am supposed to feel about many stories if not for the fact that the TV news personalities make sad faces for sad stories and happy faces for happy stories.

By Dave Barry

October 24, 2011

A Writer's Life - Sulking in the Attic

Want to know my first reaction when I received an e-mail notification from Smashwords that someone has bought my book?


That about sums it up. I felt excited and, admittedly, also a little queasy. The bookish version of stage fright, so to say. Though, oddly enough, this going from feeling like throwing up to shouting "Woohoo!" is just part of the fun!

So there I sat with this funny feeling in my stomach. The fact that this innocent person who had no idea what she got herself into by buying my book, took its sweet time to finally sink in. Even more incomprehensibly ... she bought the book on the spot. Read last week's blog post, headed over to Smashwords, and bought it. Just like that. Have I mentioned yet that I love people who are daring like that? I really do!

And I'm pretty sure that you are of the daring kind too. Come on, admit it. You are!

Ha. Bet you tried out both!

Anyway, imagine my delight when the first review for my book popped up on Goodreads! Just days after Laurie bought the book! And we're talking 5 stars, baby! Feel free to stop by Laurie's blog Laurie Here Reading & Writing Reviews too. She's definitely got more to offer than my shining review!

Then, a few days later, friends of mine ordered the book as well. Not sure whether they did so, because they felt obliged, but even if ... who cares? Haha. They're my friends, they trust me, and I know they won't be disappointed. And in case I should happen to be wrong ... you may find me sulking in the Attic.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get that publicity wheel turning!

And remember, being daring is a good thing!

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the
Spooktacular Giveaway Hop
(October 24th - October 31st)
hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & The Diary Of a Bookworm

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!

And now …
… are you brave enough to find out what you can win?

Appropriately enough I'm giving away a haunting read - Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary (Edited by Carol Serling). Spooky enough for ya?
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

As always, entering on my blog will be sweet and simple. 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:
Did you watch The Twilight Zone as a kid?

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

One winner will be picked through random.org on November 1st 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!

October 23, 2011

Books Aplenty - I read a book, and I didn't like it

First things first. I know those of you who read yesterday's blog post will probably be curious about which books I snagged on Smashwords, and I have no intention to torture you any longer.

Let's start off with two wonderful, talented authors whose books I already had the pleasure to read - SM Reine and Shaun Jeffrey. From the former I bought Death's Hand and from the latter Evilution and Killers (this one's in fact a sequel to a book I already read). And while I was filling up my shopping cart I remembered PJ Hoover's Solstice of which I've heard so many good things, so I figured while I'm at it let's buy that one too.

Apart from my lovely eBook loot, sadly there won't be an IMM post later on. Again. Guess to change that I'd have to go on a wee shopping spree on Amazon or TBD or both, hehe!

And now on to the books I cleared from my TBR pile.

Some readers have a system when it comes to the big question of which book to tackle next. Others don't. I'm not sure what my personal little habits regarding which book to pick say about me, but this week I simply worked myself through a stack that had simply gotten too high in the past weeks. Sure, I could have divided the big stack into two small stacks, but the point of having stacks is to make them disappear by reading and not by further scattering them around the whole place.

I started with the memoir Everything I Never Wanted To Be (Dina Kucera). A story about alcoholism and drug addiction, and a mother who tries to keep her kids alive. Sounds dark, and it is. Honest and touching. A gripping read!

Next came My Heart Stopped Beating (Chamed) which reads more like a diary than an actual memoir. Loosing her parents at a young age, abuse by those who take her aboard, and lastly ending up in a madhouse, this is certainly a tragic story ... yet he book is just plain awful. A horrible translation from Italian to English and the strange mix of POV, through her own eyes, and then the next moment through her parents', didn't help much either.

Sticking to the theme of addiction and abuse I threw myself on Secrets Of Transformation (Eva Dillner) which is a very esoteric view on trying to break up patterns in her life, and writing this book is part of this therapeutic journey. If it all works for her, great. The book sure didn't work for me though.

As not to fall into a slump after those reads I then spoiled myself with some treats of the fictitious kind.

Often compared to The Hunger Games I was really curious about The Maze Runner (James Dashner) which was actually published years before the former. Dystopia. Intriguing premise. Distinct characters. Riveting and hard to put down. I loved it!

And the week came to a close with *drumroll* The Iron King (Julie Kagawa). Probably about time I finally read this much talked about book. And I was pretty disappointed. While I liked the idea of the world right out of A Midsummer Night's Dream and both Puck and Ash, I just didn't warm up to Meghan at all. Add that the author's voice is just, well, so bland. And now I'm probably going to be ripped into pieces by all those Iron Fey fans out there ... but hey, that's just my humble opinion. Live with it!

As you can see, I didn't like most of this week's books on my plate, but next week will hopefully greet me with some more delectable reads.

October 22, 2011

Pajama Musings - Getting hungry after ten months of free food

When I finally caved and bought myself an eReader back in early March I did so for one particular reason. I didn't want to go blind reading all those galleys for review on my computer. Fair enough. And I certainly don't regret this decision. Over the course of the following months I fed my new toy with all the freebies or books I've won, but haven't invested in one single paid eBook. Now, when I see how other bloggers go on shopping frenzies, feeding their eReaders with tons of books, I wonder when it will finally happen. Lil' ol' me buying her very first eBook!

Truth be told, I still prefer the good old physical book. The dead-tree version of books. If I had to choose between the two I'd take a paperback or hardback over an eBook any day. Sure, they take up so much physical space, but then again nothing beats the experience of really reading a book, turning the pages, putting a cute bookmark where you stopped reading, or smelling its pages when it's all new. You sure don't get all of that with an eReader.

And now, I am about this close to cave again. In fact I've already put some books by authors I came to know and appreciate over the past few months into my Smashwords shopping cart. Previously I received books from them, because I won them or simply for review. Now I want more. Those freebies made me hungry and it's time to feed my eReader with something more substantial for a change. Besides, in actually buying these books I'm not only committing myself to some enjoyable reading sessions, I'm also giving back to these authors by supporting their great work with more than just praises. After all praises seldom buy you a cup of coffee. And I certainly don't want them to run out of coffee aka fuel when they should be wide awake to write their next book. Which, obviously, will find a place on my wishlist too. But first things first ... need to do a lil' mouse-clicking over at Smashwords!

I wonder am I the only one who hesitated so long before finally buying eBooks? Anybody using their eReader only for review purposes with no intention of buying eBooks? Or are there even people out there who've completely switched from physical books to eBooks? Let me know.

October 21, 2011

The Others - Authors in (not of) literature

Today I won't drone on about authors of literature, but of authors in literature. The difference? The former will write fiction, the others have been written into a piece of fiction. And why not? All kinds of job descriptions are being passed out from the ones who write to the ones who are being created. Oddly enough all these writers in literature seem to lead quite exciting lives. Maybe the authors who thought them into existence want to compensate for their own dull life behind the keyboard? Who knows ...

First example that springs to mind? Jack Torrance. I'm sure you know him. Here we meet an aspiring writer who's trying to rebuild his life in a tranquil hotel in Colorado. When he starts to wield an axe things start getting a bit more exciting (and less tranquil for that matter) in The Shining. Or how about Paul Sheldon? Sounds familiar? It's the poor sod who ends up being rescued, and subsequently held hostage, by his fan Annie Wilkes in Misery.

But Stephen King isn't the only one who decided to make writers a main character of their books. Let's stay within the genre and turn to Marty Stillwater a bestselling mystery writer in Dean Koontz' Mr. Murder. And lets not forget short story writer Billy Wiles in his thrilling novel Velocity.

Though it's not only male writers who turn up in books. Just look at Ruth Cole from A Widow For A Year by John Irving. Or how about Vida Winter from Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale?

And ... there are many more examples, I'm sure, but those were the most obvious ones for me. Sadly enough I actually had to look the last two up *cough* so this blog post wouldn't be reduced to just two authors. Feel free to comment below with books where writers are main characters, so we can extend this list a bit!

October 20, 2011

Picture Garden - Pray

Dearest one, when I am dead
Never seek to follow me.
Never mount the quiet hill
Where the copper leaves are still,
As my heart is, on the tree
Standing at my narrow bed.
Only of your tenderness,
Pray a little prayer at night.
Say: "I have forgiven now-
I, so weak and sad; O Thou,
Wreathed in thunder, robed in light,
Surely Thou wilt do no less."
Dorothy Parker

We have a winner ...

Thanks everyone for stopping by to enter the Literary Giveaway Hop, hosted by lovely Judith from Leeswammes' Blog. It was the first time that I joined this particular blog hop, and I dare say it won't be the last time that I will participate! Giving away a book with more literary merit than, say, a novel featuring bloodthirsty vampires and cuddly werewolves, translated in less entries compared to other hops, but all the better were your chances to win, of course!

Which brings me to the important part of this blog post ... the winner!

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

Did not win this time? Come back next week when I will participate in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop.

October 19, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Old Book Art

I bet I'm not the only one who loves books with illustrations. After all, what would the fairy tales of the Brother's Grimm be without them? And that's just naming one example.

Old Book Art was started in October of 2007 with the intent of sharing out of copyright images from books that passed through John's bookstore, ZephyrusBooks. The number of books he has cataloged hasn't quite reached a hundred, though you will find numerous individual prints from these books (more than 4.600 as of October 2011).

The material in this online collection includes illustrations John scanned himself, but mostly material that other people have shared with him, and it also includes material from sources with online archives such as the Library of Congress. While some of the illustrations may be available elsewhere, there is often a fee involved, or the resolution quality is low, or they are archived in a format that is hard to access for many people. Here you can look at them and even use them without any cost (though donations are more than welcome).

Want a taste? Just hop on over and have a look yourself and if a look alone isn't good enough for you, you may also opt to head over to the shop and maybe buy a print or two.

October 18, 2011

Review - Social Q's (Philip Galanes)

Admittedly I am not the kind of person who'll actually read advice columns - which often are either condescending or leave you even more puzzled than before - but I didn't even know that Social Q's has its roots there before I started reading. I simply assumed it would be a modern view on etiquette. With a humorous touch. Luckily this book, based on the respective NY Times column by Philip Galanes, is a far stretch from regular advice on etiquette, but instead a witty read that really does give good tips on the quirks, quandaries and quagmires of today.
Often laugh out loud funny the author tackles the questions aka problems of readers of his column and shares his collected wisdom on all kinds of everyday questions that leave you stranded simply because you don't know just how to react in a situation when eg your boss has got a serious problem with BO, or your friend's kids ruin your couch and the parents end up blaming you for it.
Though the most important aspect of the whole book is how you don't just get simple answers, every situation is different after all. Giving easy instructions on how to figure out which way best to proceed - remain silent, talk it out, or call a lawyer - you'll actually learn how to find your own answers, which is probably the smartest advice you can get.
In short: Need lighthearted advice about awkward social situations? Read this book!

4/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Simon & Schuster Galley Grab book review program. 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 - Sweet Invention (Michael Krondl)

Having a bit of a sweet tooth I simply could not pass up the chance to reading a book on the wonderful world of desserts. In Sweet Invention Michael Krondl outlines how desserts developed in different regions of the world. Focusing on six nations that have wielded the greatest influence on other societies, this book is certainly not, as the subtitle would suggest, a concise survey on the topic, but nonetheless a delicious journey.
From India to Italy, from Austria to the US, you find out about the historical and cultural origins of the most common forms of sweet meals in these regions, how they developed over the centuries, and influenced each other across the borders. I liked how the author also includes a view on the importance of the sugar trade, which is obviously an essential part of everything that spells "dessert". A nice touch are the recipes that end each chapter, though you would have to be a pastry chef to actually attempt them.
Quite unusual, but making for a colorful reading experience, was how Krondl sets the mood with his elaborate descriptions of times long gone. Unfortunately he does so to a fault, and the focus that should be on the desserts themselves often shifts to narrations on the surrounding ambience, which might be interesting to some readers, but certainly not those who are looking for actual information on the topic.
In short: A fascinating journey through the world of desserts!

3/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley.com book review program. 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 - To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

To Autumn by John Keats

October 17, 2011

A Writer's Life - The Attic in My Yard

Now how could an attic possible end up in a yard?

If "tornado" or "mistranslation" are your best guesses you better read on ... well, in fact you should continue reading either way!

I bet your guesses would have sounded somewhat different when you were still a kid. But let's face it - most of us no longer dream and imagine the way we did as kids. Where we once saw pirate's ships sailing by or fairies dancing in the meadow we now see a cherry tree or the trash can. No one knows how this happens, but one day you look out the window and the ships and fairies are gone. Then again, maybe they are just hiding beneath a raspberry bush. And maybe all it takes is to lure them out again. From the attic in your yard … into reality.

Granted, there is a difference between the dreams we used to have as kids compared to those we have as adults. Sadly, we often neglect those dreams in favor of the "real life". The attic has suddenly lost its magic ... but it is still there, all you have to do is look hard enough or dig deep enough, and you will rediscover your dreams. And then? Follow them!

Reading this book will make your day!
And the fact that you are reading it will make mine ... that and the fact that you'll have to buy it first! Come on, I had to mention it, didn't I? Could there be a better place for shamelessly promoting my book than my own blog? Alright, maybe there are several places, but here and now is were it all starts ... so head on over to Smashwords or Lulu to have a look ... and off you go!

Available in print at Lulu or as eBook at Smashwords.

October 16, 2011

Books Aplenty - Reviewing reviewing reviewing

While I didn't sign up for the October is NetGalley Month I did tackle quite a few reviews from various publishers. My regular reviews will be up in the next few days, but let me give you at least a brief glimpse into this weeks reading ...

If you want to learn about the history of desserts *drool* then Sweet Invention (Michael Krondl) might not quite be the book for you. Giving a brief overview of how desserts developed in different regions of the world, with a view on the importance of the sugar trade, the author is certainly great in setting the mood with his elaborate descriptions of times long gone. An enjoyable read, but not exactly a concise survey.

Need lighthearted advice about awkward social situations? Then you should definitely read Social Q's (Philip Galanes) a book based on the respective NY Times column. A far stretch from regular advice on etiquette this is a witty read that, humor or not, really does give good tips on all kinds of social quandaries. If you're curious, check out the Social Q's online.

Dark Inside (Jeyn Roberts) throws you into an apocalyptic scenario were dark things are rising and changing people. Been there, done that. Why do so many books seem so similar these days? To be fair, it is an enjoyable page-turner, yet I also found it lacking in some regards. The novel is like an introduction to the actual story and ends were I would have hoped for it to actually begin.

The Realms Thereunder (Ross Lawhead) is a fantasy novel in which two kids were once lost in a mythical world beneath our own, and many years later their ways lead them there again. It's exactly the old-fashioned style in which it is written, that makes this book, in light of many newer and more modern novels, wonderfully refreshing.

Almost forgot. New books? Yes. A truck load of free download from Christianbook. Again. I seriously need to go on a hiatus on that site *sigh*. No more freebies for me, because this is getting waaay out of hand. What I got? Too lazy to list them all, let's just say I've got ten new eBooks on my eReader now.

No IMM post this week! How could this ever happen? Oh dear! Let's hope for the best for next time!

October 15, 2011

Pajama Musings - Gothic handwriting

If there is one thing I do not appreciate when reading old books it's when they are in Gothic handwriting (also known as "Blackletter" or "running hand"). It might look pretty, I'll grant you that, but I never got the hang of seeing a difference between certain letters. While my grandparents still learned to write this way in school the only time I came across it was through finding old books in their possession that flashed this, at first look, rather incomprehensible print. Of course your reading will speed up a bit the longer you read aka you finally get used to the strange fonts and develop a talent for deciphering certain words, but thankfully new editions of old books will be in our classic "normal" typeset.

Interestingly enough the Gothic handwriting style was in use in Western and Central Europe as well as in the Nordic countries up to the 17th century, yet it continued to be used for the German language until the 20th century. Here's were my grandparents and their old books come in! Just thought I mention this, before anyone claims I can't possibly be old enough to have grandparents who actually knew this script. I mean, hey, that would make me a vampire. And have you ever heard of vegetarian vampires? Didn't think so.

Typical of the Gothic handwriting style were vertical lines and angular forms. Add that the use of capital letters and lower case letters fluctuated. Throw in regional differences and changes over the centuries and I present to you an often indistinct style that was difficult to read. Even back in the good old times!

Why it was still used in Germany until the beginning of the 20th century is beyond me, but one afternoon a long time ago I was so bored and rummaging through my parent's book collection I found two old tomes on regional legends. Sounded great! Then I opened the book and just starred at it for a while. My mom then told me about this type of print and I was brave enough to take the challenge. Admittedly, at first it was tough, but after a while I was pretty good at guessing whether a certain letter was an "F" or an "S" ... not as though the "H" and "T" would have made the guessing game any easier.

And while I'm complaining about this "old" typeset I wonder, with all the kids typing away on computers these days, when will our "normal" hand be considered old news. Maybe we should just give it another century and then we will be like my own grandparents, explaining to the young ones about why the print in our "old books" looks so funny ...

Literary Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the
Literary Giveaway Hop
(October 15th - October 19th)
hosted by Leeswammes' Blog

Most giveaway blog hops seem to be directed towards young adult and romance audiences. Those hops are not so ideal if you want to give away more literary books, so here's the chance for all of you who want to stray a little from those vampire books and try something new.

Which brings us to the most important part of this post ...

I'm giving away Chess Story by Stefan Zweig and the reason for it, well, why don't you have a look at a recent blog post about the author, to give you an idea about him and the book.
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

As always, entering on my blog will be sweet and simple. 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:
Do you like novels were a book plays a major part in the story?

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

One winner will be picked through random.org on October 20th 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!

October 14, 2011

The Others - Jill Mansell

If it hasn't been obvious by now it's time to finally reveal the truth - not only do I love chick lit, I have a soft spot for British chick lit authors. That said, let me introduce you to Jill Mansell. Actually I found this author by accident. You know how it is. Bored and browsing around on Amazon and actually trusting in their recommendations. One thing lead to the next and I ended up with a truckload full of Jill's books. Admittedly I'm only half way through reading the books I bought, but with my towering TBR stacks that is no big surprise.

Are you a friend of witty, engaging romance novels? A lover of fun and sexy reads? You might want to give her books a try then. And you can have your pick from quite a lot as there are currently 22 published novels, To The Moon And Back only being her latest.

With so many books you might wonder if Jill even has a life besides of being a full time writer. Well, according to her own words, yes. She watches TV, eats fruit gums, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet marvelling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she’s completely run out of displacement activities does she write. Add that she has a partner and kids. I wonder if she ever gets to sleep. Either way, thankfully, Jill has the time to write and entertain her fans.

Interested in more British chick lit authors? Try your luck with some of my all-time favorites of the genre such as Sophie Kinsella, Alexandra Potter, or Chris Manby. I can really recommend them all to every girl who's looking for a fun and light read!

October 13, 2011

Picture Garden - In Love

Dandelions in love!
Or maybe they just snuggled up,
because the cold season is approaching fast?

October 12, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - NaNoWriMo

Does today's blog post title sound rather cryptic to you? Maybe you're not a writer then, because if you are you have almost certainly heard about National Novel Writing Month, short: NaNoWriMo, before.

National Novel Writing Month takes place from November 1st through November 30th and the goal is to write a 50.000 word (approximately 175 page) novel during that time. We're talking about 1.666,66 words a day. You don't have to stop in mid-sentence (or mid-word) and do 1.666 words one day and 1.667 the next or maybe 3.217 one day and 69 the next day, but I digress.

In 2010, there were over 200.000 participants and more than 30.000 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, thus entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. Want to join the fun and literally drag yourself over that finish line as well? You'll need two things - enthusiasm and perseverance! Because of the very limited writing window, the only thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The emphasis on creating, not editing. This approach might sound a bit (haha) risky, but why not take the risk and see what happens?

Are you already breaking out in a sweat? Don't worry. You will not be the only one going through the fun (and pain) of NaNoWriMo, because as I mentioned above, lots of fellow Wrimos go through the same thing at the same time and you will always find open ears in the NaNoWriMo forum.

Interested? Read on.

How it works (taken from the NaNoWriMo website):

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.

Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins 12:00:01 November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at 11:59:59. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

October 11, 2011

Quote Garden - Of books and gardens

May I suggest that you all read? And often. Believe me, it's nice to have something to talk about other than the weather and the Queen's health. Your mind is not a cage. It's a garden. And it requires cultivating.
Libba Bray

A book should be a garden that fits in the hands. Word-petals of color. Stems of strength. Roots of truth. Turn a page and turn the seasons. Read the sentence and enjoy the roses.
Max Lucado

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Reading can be a road to freedom or a key to a secret garden, which, if tended, will transform all of life.
Katherine Paterson

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.
Henry Ward Beecher

October 10, 2011

Review - The Grand Design (Stephen Hawking)

Being one of the most influential physicists of our time Stephen Hawking has contributed a lot to the field of cosmology over the years. In The Grand Design he once again brings the interested reader closer to understanding the universe and how it works.
Why is the universe the way it is? This is just one of the questions which Hawking tackles by shedding light on recent discoveries and theoretical advances in his field. Presenting itself as a concise survey that covers the history behind the modern view of the universe this book is written for those of non-scientific background which, admittedly, some might view as a bit too simplistic. However, it is exactly the kind of book on science, or rather physics, that a girl like me needs. Why? Because apart from being a really fascinating topic, it is highly comprehensibly written, making the quest for a unified theory of the universe accessible to the reader without causing major headaches. And both the subtle humor and the interspersed cartoons are just an added bonus.
Granted, I still can't wrap my mind around those eleven dimensions, but no one's perfect. Let me introduce you to the M-theory which is (at the moment anyway) the only candidate for a complete theory of the universe, or rather for a universe that creates itself. No creator necessary.
In short: To some the answer is 42, to Hawking it's the M-theory!

4/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley.com book review program. 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 - Amglish In, Like, Ten Easy Lessons (Arthur Rowse)

Amglish is, like, English in blue jeans, you know. And in best Amglish tradition Arthur Rowse presents his book Amglish In, Like, Ten Easy Lessons in a way that will make friends of correct orthography cringe more than just once.
While you could get the idea that this book is basically a how-to guide to improve your informal American English skills it is actually much more than that. Introducing the reader to the history of informal language, the author focuses on American English and its impact not only on the more obvious entertainment industry, but also on the media, politics (George W. Bush, anyone?), and teaching, but even more so, the global influence it has on other languages too (just think about what the Germans call Denglish or the Mexican-Americans Spanglish).
A smart and absorbing read, that certainly didn't lack on the amusement-scale, it was interesting to learn how informal language, with all its misspellings and abbreviations, has become an integral part of our everyday communication. Last but not least Rowe stresses the importance of being proficient in your native language and knowing how and when to switch from formal language to a more casual dialogue.
To improve the later just turn to the ten easy lessons in the last chapter. And don't you worry - the rules are flexible and may be broken if the need arises!
In short: Entertaining all the way through, the book had me ROFL more than once. Highly recommendable!

5/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley.com book review program. 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.”

A Writer's Life - Let's make it short

It's funny, but I've always seen myself as someone who writes novels or at least novellas, or preferably, big fat tomes. That's not to say that I don't think I have it in me - the talent for short-stories that is. I guess the real problem is that one thing leads to the next and before I know it my 12 pages short-story idea mutates into a trilogy that would shame Tolkien. Don't ask me how this happens, it simply does. However ...

Lately I've been reading a couple of short-story collections and I liked (most of) them so much that the thought sneaked up on me. Why not give it a try? Again? It's not as if I never tried out whether I'm cut out for short narrations. I have. I know I can do it. It's just that with three handfuls of other ideas that have attacked me quite unexpectedly this year I'm a bit hesitant. The day has only got 16 hours after all. Yes, 16. The rest is reserved for sleeping. Anyway ...

As I've unsuccessfully tried to fight off a rather unique idea earlier this year, I figured why be coy? Let's just do it! Of course this decision was made after a night of only 7 hours of sleep, so maybe my judgement is a bit impaired in that regard. Yet, now it's said and consequently it shall be done. Yours truly will try herself on a little bit of short-story writing. Appropriately enough I've got some tasty and crunchy ideas that lean precariously into the horror genre. That much for not venturing out of my favorite writing genres. Ha. Or maybe we should just call it speculative fiction with a twist. Yep, I like that.

And about the above mentioned unique idea (which some of you might remember as my secret project, last blogged about ... a while ago) I'll tell you more about that next week or the week thereafter. Let's just say I am currently waiting for the first copy of it to sit in my mailbox and I really need to hold it in my hands before I start bragging and practically forcing ... uhm, encouraging you all to get a copy yourself. Now I made ya all curious! Good.

October 9, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

Hard to believe there ever was a time when I couldn't participate in the IMM meme as so little books showed up in my starving mailbox. Things are looking a whole lot better these days, and this week is not much different ...

I received my pre-ordered book Shoe Done It (Grace Carroll) and yet another TBD bookmark.

Then a signed copy of Angels' Blood (Nalini Singh) which I recently won at Tynga's Review in the Fantastic Fables event rolled in. The author also threw in some swag for good measure, how neat is that?

Am I Really Hungry (Jane Bernard) which I've won at Sweepstake Lover back in July sat in my mailbox too. Better late than never!

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

Books Aplenty - Catching up on LibraryThing

Despite the fact that I went on a request hiatus on LibraryThing and my aim of reviewing all the books I already received through their Member Giveaways I still can't see light at the end of the reading tunnel. Not one to give up so easily I declared this week my LibraryThing Reviewing Week and read a total of five books. Now you're all impressed, right? Me too.

In best Halloween tradition I picked a whole bunch of horror novels ...

I started off with Carnival Of Fear (JG Faherty) which could be best described as heavily influenced by Waxwork - the 1988 movie, not the one with Paris Hilton, eeeek - and a touch of the goriness of Final Destination. A sort of B-movie type of book with stereotypical yet well written teen characters who try to escape from the Haunted House in a carnival from Hell (literally). If you like this sort of book, I can wholeheartedly recommend it to every horror fan, though I must say, the whole vampires not only sucking blood but also raping (!) their victims was taking it a bit too far for my taste. It's not explicit, but it disturbed me nonetheless.

Next in line was The Monster Inside (JG Faherty) a collection of creepy short stories (and a few macabre poems thrown in too) with everything after the horror fan's own heart. My personal favorites were the zombie stories though I also enjoyed pretty much the rest of the book. I guess with compilations like this you will always end up finding great stories alongside average ones, but all in all it was a scarily good read.

Now, These Hellish Happenings (Jennifer Rainey) was certainly different. There are books about vampires. Then there are books about Hell. Combine these two and throw in some wonderful snarky and wry dialogues in a job-from-hell setting (literally), and you've got this book. While I loved the authors writing style and character depiction I must admit the book was a bit of a slow read for me, so the narrative flow could use a bit of tuning.

And we're still not done. Told ya, I've been busy reading.

Another book with short stories was Ice Age (Iain Rowan) which presents a collection of very subtle horror stories. Not ax-wielding and blood-dripping ones, but stories that slowly creep up on you to chill your bones when you finally read the last sentences. Admittedly not as great as his other book Nowhere To Go, but if you already know that book and love his intricate narrative you should give that one a try too.

The last book, Future Destinies (Chris Turner) doesn't exactly qualify for horror, but speculative fiction it certainly provides. Admittedly I didn't really get into most of the short stories in this collection, despite the fact that I liked the underlying ideas for them. While the world-building was great and fascinating, the narrative didn't always work for me especially when the author was elaborating at length on eg technological details that made me wish he'd instead focused more on the story. Neither good nor bad, but worth a try for sci-fi fans.

Almost forgot ... I would have loved to declare that yet another week went by without me downloading copious amounts of free eBooks! And I really didn't ... at least not all that many ... but what can you do when the new Simon & Schuster newsletter rolls in? *sigh* So I added Dark Inside (Jeyn Roberts) and Social Q's (Philip Galanes) to my review stack. The first one has actually been on my wishlist, can you believe that? I'm one happy gal!!

October 8, 2011

Pajama Musings - Magical page counts

In case you've never read, and compared, translated books in both their original and a translated language you might not even be aware of this, but there's often quite a difference in just how many pages these books will have. Personally I have been aware of this for many years now, but it was only when I bought a couple of books at the flea market last week that I once again realized just how big this difference can be sometimes.

Basically I could name pretty much any book now to compare the page count, but the following example really shows you just how big the difference can be. I bought the Commonwealth Saga by Peter F. Hamilton in the German language - four books all in all. In English you get two books though. Confused yet?

Here goes.
The English book Pandora's Star is 1152 pages long.
The German translation, which present itself in two parts, adds up to 1456 pages.
Even if you consider that maybe the print of the English version might be (a lot) smaller this is quite the difference and it also explains why they decided to split the book in German - I'm not going into detail as to what this means when it comes to reading the books, that's a whole other story, obviously ... let's just say it's probably a good idea to start with the first part and not "in the middle" of the book, so to say.

How about another example?
Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone has got a measly 224 pages in English and 336 in German. Magic? You could almost get that impression.

So what is the exact percentage regarding those differences in page numbers or, more precisely, word counts? That really depends on the kind of text and the languages in which a book gets translated. Generally you may say that a translated text will be 10-20% longer than the English version (that difference will reflect in the actual word count, not so much in the page count which may vary due to font size and formatting).
The interesting question would be, how much of this is the fault of the translator (who's got a thing for writing/translating in a rather florid and wordily style) and how much has simply got to do with the fact that you often cannot translate one word into another without loosing or changing the meaning, thus making it necessary to translate one word with a whole phrase to convey what the author wants to say. I think it's mostly the latter which is to blame.

Back to the examples above.
The first one would be 26% longer, and the second 50% ... this is way more than the above mentioned percentage. Maybe they did blow up the font size to make the difference even bigger, who knows? Where Harry is concerned, there probably must be magic involved. Even in translation.

Have you ever noticed the difference in page and/or word counts of translated books? Let me know.

October 7, 2011

The Others - Henry David Thoreau

First, let me admit to something - I am not all that crazy about the so-called classics. Just thinking about them leads to a cruel flashback to school times when we were forced to read all kinds of boring old books for class. Sure, sometimes those books really weren't so bad, but more often than not we were simply too young to fully appreciate them.
That said it was probably my luck that I didn't get to know any of Henry David Thoreau's work while still in school. Let's blame it on the fact that there was a focus on German-speaking authors as I live in Austria, so things will obviously have been quite different in English-speaking countries. Who knows whether I would like him so much as an author today if I had been thrown into the cold waters of Walden Pond much too early?

A replica of the small cabin that Henry David Thoreau built and lived in between 1845 and 1847.

Probably best known for this book Walden or Life In The Woods, this American author was more than just a writer. With his work he also showed that he was a social reformer, naturalist, philosopher, transcendentalist, and scientist. Published in 1854, Walden details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. The reason for living in a cabin deep in the woods (which by the way was not all that far from the next town) were two-fold. He hoped to isolate himself from society to gain a more objective understanding of it. And simple living and self-sufficiency were his other goal.

I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.

As a writer, Thoreau was one of the most powerful and influential American writers and although only a small part of his work was published in his short lifetime, he was a prolific writer whose works filled twenty volumes when collected in 1906. Those are over two million words ... makes you wonder if so many words qualify for "simple" but who am I to complain? I really do like Thoreau's work.

October 6, 2011

Picture Garden - Maxwell

I present to you a cuddly find on a local flea market
the newest member of my bear family!

October 5, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Famous last words

Authors have got a lot to say. They might not always actually say it and rather write it down, but ultimately they convey a message with either spoken of written word. Allegedly they also do so with their last breath. Speaking or even writing (!) a last message to their family or the world. Facing death they come up with wise and eloquent words that inspire (or confuse) those who are curious enough to want to find out about those famous last words in the first place.

While it is hard to judge if certain words have really been spoken, some writers really did leave last messages in printed form.

When Emily Dickinson became too ill to leave her bed, she would write short notes to her family members in order to communicate. The last note she wrote read: "I must go in, the fog is rising."

A note found by Mark Twain's deathbed read, "Death, the only immortal, who treats us alike, whose peace and refuge are for all. The soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved."

October 4, 2011

Quote Garden - The Book Collector

Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it. Those who do not do it, think of it as a cousin of stamp collecting, a sister of the trophy cabinet, bastard of a sound bank account and a weak mind.
Jeanette Winterson

After all manner of professors have done their best for us, the place we are to get knowledge is in books. The true university of these days is a collection of books.
Albert Camus

To build up a library is to create a life. It's never just a random collections of books.
Carlos María Domínguez

Book collecting is a full-time occupation, and one wouldn't get far if one took time off for frivolities like reading.
A.N.L. Munby

When we are collecting books, we are collecting happiness.
Vincent Starrett

October 3, 2011

A Writer's Life - 37

The wonderful things you discover in museums! When visiting the Museum of London on my last vacation I found something that immediately caught my attention. It's called The New Game of Human Life, created in 1790 by Laurie & Whittle as "the most agreeable and rational recreation ever invented for youth of both sexes". It's a racing game with 84 spaces illustrating different stages of a man's life, broken down into 12 ages - boyhood, youth, young man, the prime of life, the sedate man, the old man, and decrepitude. The players race to reach the ending space, depicting The Immortal Man. Considering the fact that all illustrations show images of man (no woman in sight) through the various stages of his (yep) life I have to wonder who came up with that catchy phrase of "both sexes", but I digress.

Now what could this game possibly have to do with writing? Good question.

Curious minds want to know.
Observant minds see(k) patterns.

What I saw was the number 37.

You see, I happened to turn 37 this month and as luck would have it, I spent that day while on vacation in London. Put these two facts into a bowl, slowly stir a curious, observant mind into the mix, and finally throw in the above mentioned exhibit at the museum, before bringing the concoction to a boil.

What do you think happened?

I looked for the man (again) aged 37 to find out what is ascribed to him (again again).

The Author.

Imagine my surprise. No, seriously, I checked twice, did some basic math to be absolutely sure that I was indeed 37 now, and looked again. Then I smiled. Come on, who wouldn't smile in that situation? Especially when your heart belongs to the written word!

And the fun doesn't stop there - next year will be The Composer (there's me writing songs), followed by The Historian (which will reawaken my inner genealogist), and 40 will meet me as The Romance Writer (sigh) and so on and so on. Made you curious too, admit it. Just read on and find your age below - feel free to let me know in the comments what you are!

1. The Infant; 2. The Child; 3. The Boy; 4. The Darling; 5. The Mischievous Boy; 6. The Careless Boy; 7. The Studious Boy; 8. The Malignant Boy; 9. The Docile Boy; 10. The Thoughtless Boy; 11. The Negligent Boy; 12. The Youth; 13. The Volunteer; 14. The Indolent Youth; 15. The Assiduous Youth; 16. The Obstinate Youth; 17. The Rebellious Youth; 18. The Gallant; 19. The Trifler; 20. The Lover; 21. The Idler; 22. The Duellist; 23. The Dissembler; 24. The Young Man; 25. The Decisive Man; 26. The Complaisant Man; 27. The Downright Man; 28. The Flatterer; 29. The Critic; 30. The Prodigal; 31. The Coxcomb; 32. The Generous Man; 33. The Economist; 34. The Married Man; 35. The Batchelor; 36. The Prime of Life; 37. The Author; 38. The Composer; 39. The Historian; 40. The Romance Writer; 41. The Poet; 42. The Orator; 43. The Comic Author; 44. The Dramatist; 45. The Tragic Author; 46. The Traveller; 47. The Geographer; 48. The Sedate Man; 49. The Imperious Man; 50. The Affable Man; 51. The Morose Man; 52. The Benevolent Man; 53. The Insensible Man; 54. The Vigilant Man; 55. The Patriot; 56. The Good Father; 57. The Ambitious Man; 58. The Temperate Man; 59. The Glutton; 60. The Old Man; 61. The Libertine; 62. The Philosopher; 63. The Drunkard; 64. The Miser; 65. The Gambler; 66. The Learned Man; 67. The Brute; 68. The Patient Man; 69. The Vindictive Man; 70. The Friend of Man; 71. The Man Hater; 72. Decrepitude; 73. The Sloven; 74. The Old Beau; 75. The Hasty Man; 76. The Hypochondriac; 77. The Satyrist; 78. The Joker; 79. The Silent Man; 80. The Merry Fellow; 81. The Troublesome Companion; 82. The Quiet Man; 83. The Thoughtful Man; 84. The Immortal Man.

October 2, 2011

In My Mailbox (16)

To everyone who thought today's blog post will be a mile long, I didn't mean to lead you astray when I suggested it in yesterdays ramblings, but ... it's only about half a mile long. I behaved. At least in my opinion I did.

Let's have a look at the books I found at the flea market!

But before we start and people start marveling at the unfamiliar words on the book covers - I used the English titles in my post, though all the books I bought are German editions.

Getting up early on a weekend? It definitely paid off, because otherwise I doubt I would have been able to lay my hands on a copy of The Book Thief (Markus Zusak). Then imagine my surprise when I discovered The Secret (Rhonda Byrne) only a few steps over. Both books have been on my radar for a while and now I got beautiful hardcover editions of them that look like new!

And the horror lover in me couldn't quite resist when I saw a 3-in-1 edition including The Exorcist (William Peter Blatty), The Omen (David Seltzer) and Rosemary's Baby (Ira Levin).

Having been recommended those books not only by my lovely friend Sarah aka book- and bag-aholic in crime, but also by Stella from Ex Libris, I felt equally lucky to find Outlander, Dragonfly In Amber and Voyager (Diana Gabaldon) which literally just waited on a shelf to be picked up by me. They also look like new, at least the spines are in immaculate condition and those are fat heavy tomes, sooo ... me thinks someone else has been going on a book purge too, hahahaaa!!

Another book I was looking out for was The Pillars Of The Earth (Ken Follett). After hearing so much about it, and also watching the TV adaption some time ago, I hoped to find it on the flea market, and *woot* I did.

The science fiction nerd inside of me also found some goodies! Can you say Space Opera? The complete Commonwealth Saga - Pandora's Star Part 1 and 2, Judas Unchained Part 1 and 2 - and two books from the Night's Dawn Trilogy - The Neutronium Alchemist Part 2 and The Naked God Part 2 (Peter F. Hamilton).

The best is yet to come ... the whole loot only cost me €10,00!!

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!