January 31, 2011

25 Followers Giveaway

My blog has reached 25 followers today
and ya all know what this means, right?

It's time for my very first giveaway!!

Want to win these goodies?

"Leaves" notepad and "Reading Tree" magnet

Mandatory Entry (= 1 entry)

Publicly follow The Book Garden through Google Friend Connect
and
leave a comment with your answer to this question:
Imagine there was a Reading Tree in your garden –
what kind of books should grow on it?

Don't forget to leave your e-mail address in your comment so I can contact you if you are the winner!

For additional entries (please leave a separate comment for each):

Write about this giveaway in your own blog and leave a link (= 1 entry)

Additionally you may follow my other blog The Travel Garden (=1 entry)

So you have up to three chances to enter.

This giveaway is open to readers worldwide.

The giveaway ends on February 19th and the winner will be randomly chosen on February 20th.

The winner will be announced here on my blog.

I will also contact the winner by e-mail and he/she has 48 hours to reply or an alternate winner will be chosen.


P.S.: I'm not going to be super-strict about the order of your entries to the giveaway, so if you should accidentally start by leaving a comment with one of the additional options to enter, that's ok - just don't forget to add the mandatory one afterwards!

A Writer's Life - Creative loafing

It's one of the great misapprehensions to assume that the only thing that writers are doing is to write. Obviously it involves writing, but that is actually just a small part of the whole picture. The most important, and often overlooked, part of the creative process is loafing. Yes, loafing.

That might sound like writers are just hanging around like lazy bums, and while we sometimes might really give an innocent bystander this prejudiced impression, this is quality time spent in the realms of our thinking and plotting minds. Alright now, that might sound as if we could just as well be serial killers, but yes, plotting is also a vital part of the writing process. But I digress.

So, let's differentiate the creative loafing a little.
There's the look onto the world outside, be it people watching or soaking up impressions of a trip into town, the supermarket, to church or any other place you can think of.

Then there's the look inside. That one comes along with gazing into space which often makes people wonder whether you're just distracted or simply bored, while the truth is that your mind is busy at work. This one will keep you up at night too. While some have trouble falling asleep thinking about bills that need to be paid or what to tell the boss about that project that needs to be finished by Thursday, and which you haven't even touched upon yet, the mind of a writer is fervently delving into a little world of their own creation.

Good thing all my bills are paid and the report I need to give tomorrow, well I'll just improvise, but falling asleep without giving this one particular scene some extensive thought? No way.
And when I finally do fall asleep, satisfyingly having brought the story along a step or two, I sometimes dream about it too. Hell, if those weren't my dreams I'd sure be jealous of anyone who has them. But creative dreaming, well that's a story for another day ...

January 30, 2011

Books Aplenty - Twelve

This week I finished two books, and let's be honest, two is probably the only doable amount of books per week anyway. Apart from the occasional late night reading session with novellas that won't take more than three hours of reading.
I also dared to look at the list for January and it's save to say that a total of twelve books is great for one month. In the long run I hope to read about ten each month, though that also heavily depends on the books themselves. Big heavy tomes will certainly reduce the number, but for now there are still plenty of books waiting to be read that won't get over 400 pages.
The only pity is that I really have to catch up with my eBooks. If only they were as easily readable as an ordinary book. Just thinking. Is purchasing an eReader a necessity? I'd say yes. Ha. Oh well. As long as it's manageable to read stuff on the computer I will not invest in one. Nuff said.

I read The Quotable Chesterton (Kevin Belmonte) this week and while it is really more a book that you should taste in pieces and not in one go – though that “one go” lasted five days for me – as it's been hard for me to put down. A collection of quotes from his various works divided into quite a number of themes, like theology, apologetics, satire/wit, literature, and journalism, it is an essential A-Z compendium of his ideas. While the book is great I was a bit disappointed by the short essays about Chesterton, as they did not offer any deep insights into the man's thought and character, but were merely bridging one quote to the next.

And on to some lighter reading, or so I thought. Instructions For Visitors (Helen Stevenson) is a memoir of the writer about her time living in a small town in France. Ever read a book you were totally torn about? Were you just couldn't say whether you liked it or not? This is such a book for me. The story, as fleeting as a summer breeze, didn't draw me in at all. Neither her description of the town and its people, nor her life in the village or her affair with Luc. On the other side though, after getting used to her inability to divide her thoughts into paragraphs which I found a bit annoying, I found myself confronted with such beautiful wordings with which she put scenes on paper that I often just lingered with a particular phrase for a while, not really caring for the rest of the story. So, this has been a weird reading experience for me. A story that gave me nothing, but lots of gems of the written word.

On to the books I added to my book stacks.
And, lo and behold, it's only one and it's (again) an eBook namely Speak To Our Desires (Brenda Clough) which I received through the Early Reviewers giveaway on LibraryThing.

January 29, 2011

Pajama Musings - Pillow Talk

On a frosty day like today it's quite easy to stay inside and curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. But it's also a good time to curl up and indulge in an old movie. And a hot cup of tea. That one is obligatory.

While, to some, it won't make a big difference what they're watching I am a strong defender of old movies when it comes to cold and gray afternoons that just don't invite you to take a stroll through town. Those days might be ideal to jump into the car and drive to the cinema to see the latest blockbuster, but not for me. I'd rather hole up in my bed and pop in a DVD that'll send me back into the good old times. And no it doesn't matter whether it's a Hitchcock or a Doris Day movie. That's just a question of whether you'd rather enjoy something thrilling or something romantic on the particular day. If you want both, just watch her in the Hitchcock movie The Man Who Knew Too Much. Though, knowing me, I'll go for a Doris Day comedy most of the time.

If it isn't evident by now, I'll let you in on a little secret. I absolutely adore Doris Day movies. And even more precisely, I love the movies with her and Rock Hudson.

My favorite? Pillow Talk.


I swear, I can watch that movie every day and not grow tired of it. That might be considered slightly, or not so slightly, obsessive, but I don't really care. The shocking thing about it is probably that I only found out recently that Doris got an Academy Awards nomination for her part in the movie, and even more so the movie won in the category of Best Screenplay. Now that is not surprising …

[Jan and Brad are on the phone discussing a phone schedule]
Jan Morrow: We're just going to have to live with each other ...
[Jan pauses, waiting for a response]
Brad Allen: Well?
Jan Morrow: I was waiting for you to say some off-color remark.
Brad Allen: Is that all you have on your mind?
Jan Morrow: Never mind my mind! You just stick to your half hour and I'll stick to mine!

January 28, 2011

The Others - The Brothers Grimm

One of my fondest childhood memories are those of reading an old book of fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. And by old I mean real old as the book has been handed down for two generations. Of course it looked that way too, but this only added to the charm of this wonderful book.


Capricious and often cruel the two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, preserved Germanic folk tales and fairy tales in their collection and while I did read them as a child I only found out that this collections of tales was initially for adults only.

The stories were simply considered too ... well, too bloody and thus too scary for little ones. Of course that was back in the beginning of the 19th century and today those tales are probably not gory enough for even the smallest kid. Too much TV is all I'm saying … and I'm not referring to all those adaptations of certain stories such as Cinderella or Snow White for the big screen.

Though once the brothers saw how the tales bewitched young readers they, and editors aplenty after them, started "fixing" things. Tales gradually got softer, sweeter and primly moral. Yet this didn't taint the heart of the stories that are still being read and loved by young and old alike 200 years later.

Want to indulge in some fairy tales?
Here's a great site where you can do just that - Grimmstories.
And don't just go for the most famous stories, rather read those you've never heard about and be sure to find some wonderful gems among them, like Snow-White and Rose-Red or The Twelve Brothers.

January 27, 2011

Picture Garden - The World Has Lost Its Color

"THE WORLD HAS LOST ITS COLOR"
But if the birds sing loud enough, maybe the colors will come back.

January 26, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Fresh Fiction and Writerspace

How about some more interesting websites where you can grab free books?
Sites where all you have to do is enter a contest and that's it?
No reviews necessary?

Here are two that I came across which not only offer a large number of different giveaways each month, but they are (mostly) open for international readers too. And let's face it, it stinks when you see a neat giveaway to find out it's only open to US readers (unless you live there, then you wouldn't really care). So, here's to readers everywhere!

Fresh Fiction offers quite a bit on their contest page - suspense, romance, mystery, and also genres like urban fiction and paranormal fiction among others.

Writerspace is a bit different as you cannot enter giveaways on the page itself, but instead you'll get the links to the respective websites of authors on their contest page. And you wouldn't believe how many authors host monthly contests on their websites, so finding them all under one roof is definitely a good thing. Genres are very similar to the ones mentioned above.

And another nice touch is that it's not all about winning books alone. Often you'll even get the chance to win stuff like a Kindle, autographed books, ARCs of upcoming releases, chocolates, gift certificates and much more!

Personally I have been entering contests on both sites for three months now and so far I got lucky once. I won eBooks from Fresh Fiction through entering a one-day-only giveaway. So yes, you should pop in more than just once a month, because you might never know.

January 25, 2011

Quote Garden - A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend.
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe.
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

A Poison Tree by William Blake

January 24, 2011

A Writer's Life - It's all in the details

I've recently finished a scene where I strategically implemented part of a movie that's playing in the background while the main character is going about her own business. The movie had to fit the story, not in the most obvious way, but still. But most of all the timing was of importance.

So. Let's imagine our heroine all alone in some motel room with the old Doris Day movie The Thrill Of It All playing on TV. Things she will do between scene one and scene two (of the movie) need to fit into the space of 16 minutes. Yes, I popped in the respective DVD and checked. I am like that. After all, it's all in the details.

I'd lie to you if I said I counted down the second it takes lil' ol' me to take a shower and wash a shirt, but one thing's for sure – our heroine is fast and efficient when it comes to personal hygiene and doing some laundry. And that consequently adds to her characterization too. Not as though I'd have started off with her being the kind of gal who needs two hours in the bath in the first place.

Things like that, or rather those small or sometimes not so small details, are sadly enough far too often the kind of thing a reader will skim through without really noticing. Shame on you, dear reader. You're missing out on quite a bit and will probably remain clueless of many more subtle hints and details in the woodwork that might, just might let you in on how the story will end.

So. Why are all those minutes so important?

Because it's all in the timing and the placement of words … in books.

And in life.

January 23, 2011

Books Aplenty - Adding up

I really don't mean to complain, but the more I'm reading the more new books are rolling in. My fault completely, seeing how I enter every giveaway on the planet, but … oh well … the thing is, I seriously thought I'd be able to reduce the amount of TBR books, but somehow, or at least up until now, to no avail. Alright, enough wallowing in self pity. Let's see what I read this week.

Starting off with Princess Izzy and the E Street Shuffle (Beverly Bartlett) I found myself in a unique fairytale-like story, filled with intrigue and scandal, told by a wannabe royal biographer. Apart from the narrative style that needed some getting used to, it was disturbingly fast-paced and thus confusing. Tell the story a bit more slowly and with only half the twists and turns and give the characters a little more depth and ... what am I saying? I doubt this would have saved this book.

Then came Almost Perfect (Julie Ortolon) which turned out to be wonderful brain candy for me. Yes, we're talking chick lit here and yes, it comes along with all the necessary ingredients for the genre. But, as you'll surly know, stories can be told in a good or a bad way, and this one certainly stands out with well drawn characters and a fluent style that made me devour it in a day. Yummy! Almost better than chocolate.

Lastly I read Look The World In The Eye (Alice Peterson) which had a great premise that got killed off by the awfully dry and amateurish writing of the author. Seriously, the plot about Katie overcoming her past and getting closer to her disabled sister was a good one, but the characters didn't draw me in or convince me, and that's not just because of the horrible style the book was written in. Written from first-person perspective, the first quarter of the book started every other sentence with “I” - I'm not joking. The real shame though is the simple fact that this could have really been a great book.

Then comes the loot.

I received The Quotable Chesterton (Kevin Belmonte) from BookSneeze. And while I was even a little glad that nothing else arrived, I got the notification on winning three eBooks by Shirin Dubbin from the Fresh Fiction website. Oh dear me. At least they only add to my virtual bookshelf. So, here goes – Keeper Of The Way, Dusk Takes Dawn and Dreams' Dark Kiss.

January 22, 2011

Pajama Musings - Amazingly happy

I thought it would be harder. Really. But oddly enough I don't show any signs of stress or nervous ticks related to going cold turkey shoppingwise. I am amazingly happy living the frugal life. Then of course it's only the third week coming to its end, so who knows when the first nasty withdrawal symptoms sneak in through the back door. Might be tomorrow. Might be in April. You'll never know. The bottom line is that it proves two things. First, that I basically have all the things I need. And secondly, that I am obviously really good in suppressing my shopping urges. Or maybe I just underestimate my willpower.

So very proud of self.

But.

And there is always a but …

… I have secretly been adding some books into my amazon shopping cart. Alright, maybe not that secretly. Or at least now it's not a secret anymore.

This will probably not really be surprising and sound like I like torturing myself a little, but let's not forget that I will be allowed to buy things from the money I make selling things (you know, the stuff I once wanted, but not really needed). And January has been good so far, with a total of € 69,70 which certainly buy you an awful lot of books come to think of it. But the important part of my decision regarding what books to throw into the cart is this – I've chosen wisely. Only the absolute essential ones. The newest books by my favorite authors. Paperback editions. Of course.

Curious?

Alright.

What the Night Knows (Dean Koontz)
Mini Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
Ice Cold (Tess Gerritsen)

That's not all too bad now is it? Plus, they won't be out before April or later, which means I will have to be both patient and keep on saving a little more. Because I'll be needing more than just some petty cash when my friend Sarah and I hit the “big one” aka a huge flea market held here in town in September/October. We won't only be needing money for all the books. We'll be needing it also for renting a juggernaut to transport our loot back home.

January 21, 2011

The Others - Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton? Isn't that the one who played this annoying Wesley Crusher on Star Trek TNG? Yes. That's him.

Most people who've heard about the actor before will probably remember him from playing a lead role in Stephen King's Stand By Me, or as the recurring role as Wesley on Star Trek TNG, or in recent years staring in series like The Big Bang Theory and Eureka. What many people do not know is that Wil is also a writer.

Having always been a Star Trek Fan, and never quite finding Wesley as annoying as everybody else did, I couldn't resist reading his books Dancing Barefoot that came out in 2003 and is a short memoir about life before and after Star Trek TNG, and subsequently Just a Geek that followed a year later and is sort of a long version to the first book. Many parts of the books are derived from posts to his blog Wil Wheaton Dot Net.

Famous for once having been famous he's writing with honesty and in a truly engaging, witty, and pleasantly self-deprecating way. I absolutly loved those books.


Needless to say I immediately headed over to his blog after having read Dancing Barefoot and have been sticking my nose into his blog on a reguar basis since then. So yes, while there might be some controversy about his acting abilities I can tell you this – he can write and he's more than good at it!

Want to get a taste of his writing? Head to his lulu storefront and take a look around.

And I won't leave with a very fitting quote from Stand By Me

You're gonna be a great writer someday, Gordie!

And most importantly, don't forget to check out his blog - you're gonna love it!!

January 20, 2011

Picture Garden - A Touch Of Red

"A TOUCH OF RED"
Winter doesn't come along with as many colors as any of the other seasons, but then suddenly, a touch of color that puts the hope for spring back into your heart.

January 19, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - BookSneeze and NetGalley

Last week I introduced you to two sites that not only make for great virtual libraries, where you can list all the books you own, read, want, etc., but even more so, where you can enter giveaways to get your hands on some free books. Today will be about two quite different websites that aim at bloggers, who may receive free books in return of writing reviews.

The first of these sites, which was also the first one I happened to stumble across on the web, is BookSneeze. While a little weary about whether there might or mightn't be some kind of hitch, after all you get real books, not just eBooks, for absolutely free, I signed in and was more than just pleasantly surprised.
Basically, when you're a blogger, you can sign up for a free account and than request your first book from a list of available books. This list will always change, so there are plenty of different books to choose from. Those books will not always be ARCs, quite often simply books where the publisher, Thomas Nelson, is looking for more reviews.
On to the kind of books available here. Those who've heard of Thomas Nelson before will know that they publish Christian books, bibles, children's books, and much more. So you get quite a broad spectrum of books here, with an emphasis on Christian literature, but not exclusively – they also offer General Interest & Lifestyle books as well as books on Business & Culture.
After requesting your book of choice it takes between days and weeks to reach you. In my case it's usually taking around four weeks (May 2011: lately books take a lot longer, in the worst case even two months) so far, and I live in Europe. All you have to do now is read it, write a review of at least 200 words, and post it on your blog and on some consumer website like amazon.com. And then? Off to request the next book.
Interested in finding out a bit more about BookSneeze? You might want to read this article about how it came to be.

The second website of interest to bloggers is NetGalley. While I only ever found this site late last year I was immediately hooked. Once again this site will provide bloggers with free books – in this case only eBooks that can either be read on a a Kindle or with Adobe Digital Editions. The thrilling part though is that there is quite a broad spectrum of publishers using NetGalley for the purpose of getting reviews for soon-to-be-published books. ARC anyone? I thought so.
If you check out the list of publishers you will be more than just pleasantly surprised, at least I was. From Andrews McMeel to Harper Collins, from Hyperion to University of Iowa. A huge list, really. How to get started is quite simple. Sign up for absolutely free and browse all the available books. That will take a while, because as mentioned before, a lot of publishers are represented here, which makes for a high number of books. Then pick the ones you'd like to read and review and send out a request.
While the requested book on BookSneeze will be sent out right away, in this case each and every publisher will first of all take a look at your profile – which means you better fill it out with informations about you and your blog, so to attract the attention of publishers – and then (this may take between a day or a week, it really depends) you get a notification if the request gets confirmed. That means you may log into your account and download the galley.
So far I requested six books and yes, I got the chance to read the galleys in all cases. Well, so far I read and reviewed two, but the next will follow shortly. This brings me to an important factor, namely the time frame in which you'll be able to read the books, as the galleys will only be available for reading for 60 days once you downloaded them. Though I read somewhere in the FAQ that if you miss that deadline you can download it again, unless the book has generally been taken off NetGalley by the publisher.
Now about the reviews. I don't know whether there are repercussions if you simply request and request but not even once review one of the books. I suggest you only use the site if you really intend on reviewing the requested books. Fair is fair. And hey, the chance to be one of the first to read a book is unbeatable anyway.

January 18, 2011

Quote Garden - The Librarian

A library is thought in cold storage.
Herbert Samuel

My experience with public libraries is that the first volume of the book I inquire for is out, unless I happen to want the second, when that is out.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.
Carl Sagan

Th' first thing to have in a libry is a shelf. Fr'm time to time this can be decorated with lithrachure. But th' shelf is th' main thing.
Finley Peter Dunne

To those with ears to hear, libraries are really very noisy places. On their shelves we hear the captured voices of the centuries-old conversation that makes up our civilization.
Timothy Healy

January 17, 2011

A Writer's Life - At the speed of my fingers

As much as I'm writing, or rather, as much as I'm typing, it may come as quite a surprise that I never really learned how to type. At least not the method that involves ten fingers. You could say I use the Columbus method, but that would neither be fair nor correct. While I started out with a unique 2-and-a-half fingers technique I have certainly evolved my early find-a-letter-and-land-on-it skills over the years.

Most people are surprised at how fast I am able to type. And that includes typing without any major mistakes. Granted, I'll never be as fast as someone who really learned this kind of thing, you know, the ones who type away, humming a happy tune, and not even watching what their fingers are doing, but I'm not all that bad. Occasionally I will type without looking at my hands too and oddly enough my fingers seem to find their way around.

When it comes to creative writing my typing speed, fast but not too fast, actually comes in quite handy. It matches my speed of thought you could say. And yes, now that I think about it, I must admit that maybe that's what slows my typing down a little bit after all. I could probably break records by simply typing just anything and not something, well, bookish. Just a theory of course. And not a very good one, at that. But a lovely thought nonetheless.

So, for the fun of it I though why not risk it and do some of those typing-speed tests online?

I kicked it off with the one in English …

52 words

Typing Speed Test


… then in German.

62 W├Ârter

Speedtest


Not sure though whether I'm simply faster, because German is my mother tongue or because the English test was only a bit of a warming up for my fingers.

January 16, 2011

Books Aplenty - Minus two, plus five

This week I read two books, which is a bit of a disappointment seeing how many I managed to read last week. Then again, if life were only about reading and not all kinds of other tasks, I'd manage to read one a day. Anyway.

I indulged in Love Walked In (Marisa de los Santos) which was such a wonderful and delightful read and most importantly – don't let the title fool you – it's really not typical chick lit. Alternating between two narrators, Cornelia and young Clare, it is so beautifully written, almost poetic, and yes, it is about love, all kinds of love in fact. Certainly not the kind of book that qualifies for being a quick read, this one needs to be savored sentence by sentence to be truly appreciated.

What followed was The Defrosting Of Charlotte Small (Anabelle Giles) which certainly is a quick read that you can effortlessly read through in a day or two. Mental breakdown, anyone? Some people need to have one to change, or thaw, for that matter. A fun, yet smart read, with lots of quirky characters. Perfect for a lazy weekend.

Two off the list. Adding five more. Oh well.

Not only did I receive yet another eBook ARC from NetGalley, namely Ravenous (Dayna Macy), I also received a few more through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway programs - Coyote Ugly (Pati Nagle) and PeaceMaker (Dan Ronco).
Plus, my very first giveaway win from Goodreads rolled in this week as well, Notwendige Streitgenossen (Georg Miggel), which luckily is not an eBook.

Note to self – stop requesting any more ARCs from NetGalley and read those that still wait for reviews first.

Even more important note to self – try to keep your hands off of more eBooks, unless you want to go blind reading them on the computer.

January 15, 2011

Pajama Musings - Bibliomania

Time for a confession – I'm a book hoarder. Big time.
And it's really not all too hard to become one.
Apart from always buying books by my favorite authors only minutes after their release dates I really, really try to cut my spending on them.
That's were it gets bad. Because a reader cannot live of those store-bought books alone.
I will search for mystery boxes filled with books on Ebay and bid on them despite the huge risk of ending up with a box filled with a collection of the worst books ever written, or even more so, a box filled to the brim with books my grandma might have liked.
I will do the same thing with book collections that include lists. One or two books of interest to me will be enough to lure me in.
I will buy books at flea markets by the dozen, just because I like the covers and they are cheap. Of course I will also watch out for books I always wanted to read, but they are usually the minority.

Now that we've established that I own a laughably vast amount of books, I shall let you in on the name of this, uhm, obsessive behavior.

Bibliomania.

One of several psychological disorders associated with books, bibliomania is characterized by the collecting of books which have no use to the collector nor any great intrinsic value to a genuine book collector. The purchase of multiple copies of the same book and edition and the accumulation of books beyond possible capacity of use or enjoyment are frequent symptoms of bibliomania.
Alright, I might not end up buying multiple copies of a certain book, at least not on purpose, and I am putting them to good use by reading them or using larger stacks as furniture, but that's probably no real excuse, now is it?
The good news though, it's by far the nicest of all those book-related conditions. Like, bibliophagy (book-eating ... I did not make that one up, I swear), bibliokleptomania (compulsive book-stealing) and bibliotaphy (book-burying … yes, the R is important otherwise we'd all suffer from abnormal behavior if it were merely about buying).

And yes, I have indeed a plan on getting past the chronic book hoarding. I will read a lot, an awful lot, and I set a read-to-purchase ratio which won't allow me to buy more books until a certain amount has been read by me. This encourages me to read more, which is good, and at the same time I know that I can reward myself with a new book soon enough, and not feel guilty about it. I guess my frugality vows AND the 2011 Reading Challenges come in more than handy now too.

January 14, 2011

The Others - Enid Blyton

One of the best moments in my life were spent trying to guess whats underneath the wrapping paper of presents that looked suspiciously like books – be it underneath the Christmas tree or next to my birthday cake. Of course I usually had a pretty good idea what would be underneath the colorful paper, as I've been giving my parents hints. But to then hold the present in my hands and rip the paper off of it … one of the finest moments in my life, still.

1951 edition

Thinking back to my childhood one particular author springs to mind. Enid Blyton.

I believe my first encounter with her books must have been through one of her books from The Famous Five series or maybe the St. Clare's series? I honestly can't tell which one it was, but one thing's for sure – I was hooked and quite addicted too. Whenever I saw that bookstores had one of those 3-in-1 collections with her books out, I had to have it. Besides, it was cheaper too, compared to buying each novel by itself.

2010 edition

Two things I remember best are these. I found the idea of living in a boarding school quite appealing, even without having a twin sister to go there. And I loved to pretend to be one of The Famous Five, or more precisely Anne, the cute girl, even though I would much rather have been like the tomboy Georgina, but she never looked quite as cute on the book covers as Anne did.

1945 edition

Later on they even made a TV series about The Famous Five which I loved to watch. And once I even got a vinyl record at Christmas with one of their adventures. I played that thing 'til it fell apart. No, just kidding, it should still be in some box in the basement.

And obviously we'd be playing our own versions of The Famous Five as kids too, on weekends and those endless summer days.

2005 edition

Little did I know back then that Enid Blyton was one of the most successful children's storytellers of the twentieth century and is even the fifth most translated author worldwide. So children still love to read her, which is great, especially seeing how so many kids today either do not read at all or are only crazy about wizards or vampires.

While there has been some controversy about her books, with certain contents deemed racist or sexist, I really don't remember any part that would have been that way. Maybe I read those books too long ago to recall any such details. Maybe we need to consider the time they were written, as in fact they weren't fresh on the shelves when I was little, most were originally published between the 40s and 60s. And maybe we should simply let children today enjoy her books about friendship and adventure and not make mountains out of molehills of what might or mightn't be political incorrectness.

January 13, 2011

Review - My Business Is To Create (Eric G. Wilson)

While I only knew William Blake through his poetry – and I absolutely love “Auguries of Innocence” – and that brief glimpse into his work as a painter through watching “Red Dragon” where "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun" made its dramatic and edible appearance, I knew little to nothing about Blake himself. So quite obviously my curiosity was sparked when I found out about My Business is to Create: Blake's Infinite Writing.
A short yet captivating read, this book offers insight into the basic principles of Blake's visionary practice straight to what keeps the creative visionary in him going. Here, his theories on imagination and creation and the practices it implies come together in a beautifully written little manual aimed at the aspiring and the already accomplished writer alike.
Eric G. Wilson created a profound little book, which is definitely one of the best works for writers that I've read in a long time. While I'm usually the kind of person who'll read a book just once, this will definitely go on my to-buy list once it's released. This book is meant to be read again and again to fully unfold its beauty. If you're a fan of Blake's work you'll be in for a real treat and needless to say, any writer should have this treasure on their bookshelf.
In short: This book just blew me away. Imagination and creation. Writer's of the world – READ THIS BOOK!!!

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.”

Review - The Frugalista Files (Natalie McNeal)

This book couldn't have come my way at a better time. After my resolution to live frugally in 2011 I certainly saw it as a sign having the opportunity to read The Frugalista Files which promised to be a real-to-life Becky Bloomwood kind of read.
In diary-style entries Natalie McNeal writes in a both witty and open manner about how her personal need of a frugal lifestyle – due to being buried under loans and CC debt despite a steady income – developed from a one-month project at the newspaper she worked for, into her very own website over the course of a year.
While it has been an enjoyable, in places even delightful read, I'd like to point out that the emphasis here isn't so much on the frugal lifestyle as it is on the author's brainchild “The Frugalista Blog”. You could say that this book is more about Natalie finding her place career wise than about reducing her debt. Obviously there will be talk about just that and the odd tip on how to safe money too. But fear not, because all you need to do now is head over to thefrugalista.com for some up-to-the minute frugal insider tips!
In short: Not quite what I expected, this is overall a good read that makes you reconsider your spending habits and lets you catch a glimpse into the newspaper industry too.

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.”

Picture Garden - The Fog

"THE FOG"
Dedicated to the Stephen King and Jamie Lee Curtis

January 12, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - LibraryThing and Goodreads

I don't know about you, but to me being a book-addict does not only translate in giant book stacks all over the place and roaming bookshops as often as possible. It also translates into me hunting down giveaways, sweepstakes and contests all over the web to get my hands on interesting books for free. I'm pretty sure that a lot of you will nod in agreement now. Nothing beats getting a nice read without having to pay a penny for it.

Basically there are two good ways to get hold of free books – you either win them with no strings attached or you request them for reviewing purposes. The second case usually includes writing a review of the book which you then publish on your blog and sites like amazon.com and the likes. While I like both options, some of you might not be that much into putting the effort and work into commenting on a book, but I actually enjoy it. It gives the author and/or publisher the feedback they are looking for and I had the chance to read a book that intrigued me for absolutely no money.

On my quest to search for good sites with giveaways I came across a few I would like to recommend to you over the next few week – starting off with two sites that are mainly for cataloging your library.

LibraryThing offers the Early Reviewers program and Member Giveaways, the first being mostly from publishers where usually hardcopies of the books can be won (recently though there's a tendency to eBooks), and the second being from members of the LibraryThing community, mostly from new authors in need of reviews for their books (usually eBooks).
While it is a lot harder to win a book from Early Reviewers due to the popularity of some authors that appear there vs the number of books available, books from the Member Giveaway program are more easily obtained as sometimes 50 or even 100 copies are given out. Depending on where you live there will not be every book available to you, though I have to say that living in Europe still gives you plenty of interesting books to choose from.
Another important difference is that in the first case you must write a review (if you don't, you might end up not winning any more books) while in the second it is only encouraged to do so. I end up doing reviews for both, as it only seems fair to me, and while you might suspect that books from the Member Giveaways are probably of lower quality, I must object, because I found some gems among them, while at the same time I encountered some of the worst books I ever read among the Early Reviewer books I received.

Goodreads also offers giveaways, but without the eBook option which drastically reduces the chances of winning a book due to the sheer number of requests. While I've been a LibraryThing member for about half a year now and have won quite a number of books from both programs I only got lucky once at Goodreads where I joined late last year. I won a book from a German author there and with 7 available copies and 14 people requesting I knew that this one was (almost) a safe bet. Most books are in the English language though and often you have 2 books with sometimes 500 than 1.200 people requesting. Good luck, is all I'm saying.
Just like the giveaways at LibraryThing you are only able to request books available to your country. Furthermore, you are encouraged to write a review, but to my knowledge it will not minimize chances of winning more books if you don't.

More interesting sites for free books next week – see ya then!

January 11, 2011

Quote Garden - Shirt and Comb

He came home downcast that day
the bearer of bad news
she smiled at him as he came in
as he stood there in his muddy shoes
he loved her so his poor heart cracked
in telling what was told, ah
her smile froze, her mouth went slack
and his grief oppressed him double-fold
he said “I’m not the master of my fate
as I would wish to be
but I’m leaving now and I can’t be late
they ship out tonight and they’re taking me
“Our mission’s still a mystery
I’m just one of many men
who must leave their homes and their families
and might not pass this way again.”
she said “I’ll come with you my love
I’m not afraid nor weak, now I will
bind my breasts and crop my hair
and I’ll speak low just like a boy would speak.”
“But you cannot come with me, my love
for they do not take volunteers
oh but there’s one thing to you I’ll swear
though I may be gone for many years
“no shirt shall ever touch my skin
nor comb go through my hair
and I’ll think on the bed you’re in
and I’ll wish that I were lying with you there.”

Sung by Eddi Reader © Peter Blegvad (Virgin Music)

January 10, 2011

A Writer's Life - Careful ... you may not end up in my novel

Alright. I admit it. I always found the line “Careful or you may end up in my novel” funny. Not so much because I actually use it on people who annoy me, but instead due to the fact that no one in my vicinity needs to worry about being too much of a pain in the ass to risk ending up in one of my novels.

Granted, if I were a chick lit writer I could have some fun in making room for certain men in my life. Men that no longer are in my life, to be exact. But even if, you will surly have read it all before. The rejected, the betrayed, the stalked. You name it. Admittedly though the one about the guy who turned from Mr. Nice into Mr. My-Fortune-Teller-Told-Me-Not-To-Give-Up-On-You has some entertainment value. Anyway. What it all boils down to is that A) I am not writing romance novels or chick lit and B) I have a not so enviable track record thanks to some kind of built-in nut job magnet.

But seriously. I never really thought about incorporating real life people into my works. Neither their personality nor their looks. Neither their quirks nor their names. I really hope no one is going to be disappointed about this revelation. But maybe a few are just utterly relieved. You're welcome.

Of course it might still happen that someone thinks a certain character might or even must be about them. The name starts with the same letter as their own name and they drive the same car and laugh about that particularly strange joke which no on else could possibly find funny, only them and them alone. I swear, these are simple coincidences. Really.

Except ... you. Yes, you. You know who you are. You've got that special place in my life. You're going to be so very sorry for the things you once said, the things you never did and honey, I know things you don't know, and while I could tell them to you, I will just sit back and relax, enjoying the show. And the whole world is going to read about it. Burn baby burn. Ha. Just kidding. Then again ...

Ok. I'm not saying that I will never ever honor anyone with basing a character on them. Who knows? I guess I would point it out in the preface though. Until then, you're safe. But maybe that is just what I want you to believe.

January 9, 2011

Books Aplenty - From Working Girls to William Blake

I've been a very good girl this week. Read several books. Admittedly though I went for the, uhm, thinner volumes, so that I could get a head start with the 2011 Reading Challenge. But a book is a book and I devoured quite a bit in the past seven days.

I read Confessions Of A Working Girl (Miss S) which wasn't as easy to digest as the other books I read, but seeing as it is about working in a brothel, it shouldn't be a light read anyway. While I honestly don't know whether the book is “real” in the sense of non-fiction, it sure reads that way and it gives you quite an insight into what's going on in the business and let's you catch a glimpse into the depths of the human abyss. It was both touching and shocking and certainly not your average read.

And yes, I did indulge in The Frugalista Files (Natalie McNeal) as I already pointed out I would last Sunday. I will not lie to you – while it has been an enjoyable, even delightful read, it wasn't so much about the frugal lifestyle as it was about the author's brainchild “The Frugalista Blog” which developed from a one-month-project into her very own website in the course of a year. You could say that this book is more about Natalie finding her place career wise than about reducing her debt. Obviously there will be talk about just that and the odd tip on how to safe money too. Overall a good read, but not quite what I expected.

Fortunately I haven't been crazy enough to make a resolution on getting in shape, because the book Let's Get Physical (Sherry Ashworth) might have been a wee bit demotivating. Then again if gallstones were threatening me, maybe I would vow to loose 2 stone as well. And yes, I had to look it up. Or do you know how much a stone weighs in pounds or kilos? It's 14 pounds or roughly over 6 kilos, just to ease your curious minds. But back to the book which is mainly about people working for and those working out at the Fit Not Fat healthclub. Good premise on connecting the lives of several characters, but for one reason or another I simply couldn't get into the story or the people involved. That's your average chick lit goes fitness for you.

And last, but so definitely not least, I decided to throw myself into some more serious literature with delving right into My Business is to Create (Eric G. Wilson) which I only received this week. Obviously I couldn't resist to start reading this one pretty much right away and for a good reason. Curiosity.
While I only knew William Blake through his poetry – and I absolutely love “Auguries of Innocence” – and that brief glimpse into his work as a painter through watching “Red Dragon” where "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun" made its dramatic and edible appearance (yes, edible, go watch the movie and you'll see what I mean), I knew little to nothing about Blake himself. And this book just blew me away. Imagination and creation. Writer's of the world – READ THIS BOOK!!!

You should think that with my new frugal lifestyle no books would have been added to the piles I already have. Wrong.

Not only did I receive two more eBook ARCs from NetGalley Bottled and Sold (Peter H. Gleick) and My Business is to Create (Eric G. Wilson) – my friend Sarah also surprised me with a few books, namely The Chemistry of Death (Simon Beckett), The Rose Labyrinth (Titania Hardie) and last but not least Pope Joan (Donna W. Cross). These are the German editions of the books, but I figured with this blog being in the English language I'd write the English titles down.

January 8, 2011

Pajama Musings - You want to read me, I know you do

With these words and lines I shall bind you not only to this blog post in particular, but to my blog itself. Follow me, follow me, follow me.

Pardon me. Just a brief Alice goes to Blogland interference.

But to be quite honest, with some blogs out there you really do feel the sudden need of drinking “stuff” to better absorb, or rather, digest them. And then, of course, there are the good ones. The ones you love to follow and read. Maybe not every single post, but a lot. Including even the really long ones.

I'm not here to offend anyone, so hopefully no offense will be taken. But if you've ever wondered why your followers suddenly disappear by the dozen, think about one of the following possibilities:

Boring.
Too infrequent.
Too unfocused.
Too long.
Boring (again).

I already know one of my wonderful readers has just broken out in a smile, because of a brief … well, not quite a discussion, more of a short one-lined dialogue, about the length of blog posts.

Even though I'm generally the kind of writer who likes to elaborate herself – easily making short story ideas grow into 1000 pages manifestos – I never quite had the urge to do the same on my blogs. Maybe I found my stride without even knowing it, I cannot tell. Yet the bottom line is I kept (and will continue doing so) my individual posts at a certain word count level without even knowing about the unwritten rules of writing a blog.
So when I heard that you shouldn't write more than 500 words that was fine by me. Then I heard it's best to be somewhere between 300 and 500 words. Great.
And, come to think of it, it does make sense. Reading on the computer screen isn't quite the same as reading a magazine or book, and with particularly long blog posts I often don't feel the pull that makes me want to read them. Unless of course the topic, the title and the first paragraph get me hooked right away.
Often it helps to “break up” a post by using pictures, too. So yes, pretty colorful photos strewn in are always nice. I admit it freely.
Though in the end, it's mostly those blogs that provide me with just the right mixture of being interesting and a compact format, that will lure me in again and again.
Unless I really, really like what you write and the way you write it. Then I will indulge in the long ones too. Yes, I mean you, Amy!

Alright now. Curiosity got the better of me after all. I did a word count on this post. And the result is 466 words.

What can I say? Natural born blogger.

January 7, 2011

The Others - Rick Castle

This week I'd like to take you on a trip to the maybe not big screen, but screen nonetheless. It really depends on how big your TV is anyway.

Today new episodes of Castle are going on air, at least where I live, so what better moment to talk a bit about the mystery fiction writer Rick Castle. But, as is the case with many a writer, this is just his pen name. He was born as Richard Alexander Rodgers, but changed it to Richard Edgar Castle when he became a writer. Edgar in honor of Edgar Allan Poe. Oh, I love this tidbit. If only, because I allegedly write like Edgar myself.

The interesting thing about the series is that there are indeed books by Richard Castle. Imagine my surprise. Not as though the series would really need that extra bit of publicity, because it's just so much fun to watch anyway. Great premise, great cast, witty dialogues. Couldn't ask for more. Or could I?

As a promotion for the show, quite obviously, the novel Heat Wave has been released in 2009, and Naked Heat followed in 2010. Both have been ghost-written by Derrek Storm.

Frankly, I don't think I'm adventurous enough to actually buy one of the Rick Castle books. As much as I feel that movies based on books will almost always disappoint you, I feel just the other way round in this case. If anyone disagrees in this particular matter, go ahead and tell me about those books. I'm totally willing to give it a try if someone can wholeheartedly recommend them to me.

But back to the basics. The Friday feature is about all kinds of writers after all. And Rick Castle is one.

First, I want to do research like that myself. Including that cool bulletproof vest with the word “Writer” on it.

Secondly, I wouldn't mind being teamed up with a sassy but gorgeous police officer. Research or not. Ha.

But seriously, I think they'd, depending on the mood the officer in charge at our local police station is in, either kick me out or put me in a straitjacket.

Heading off to the coffee shop for a bit of one-on-one time with good ol' Rick.
How good does that sound?

January 6, 2011

Picture Garden - The Swirl

"THE SWIRL"
Who would have thought to
A) find me in the kitchen behind the stove and
B) miraculously no cute firemen storming the apartment, because of that.
Makes my mind swirl just like the tomatosoup after a brief encounter with the whisk.

January 5, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - MagCover

You needn't be writer to like the idea of your own magazine, or rather magazine cover, right? Right.

I found the website MagCover some time ago and I think it's a neat idea. You can choose from more than 110 covers, with topics such as Aviation or Parenting or Cheerleading or ... well, a whole lot more. The covers can be personalized in every possible way and most importantly, you can pick some of your favorite photos and give them that extra touch of exclusiveness.
If only to send the result to some friends or post it on Facebook.
Those who want to really impress people, there is also the option of actually buying magazine wraps and even framed prints to show off. But as the basic service is free, you can indulge in a bit of playing around with those magazine covers just for fun.

Here are some of my photos featured on some obvious (I love taking photos on vacation) and not so obvious (me, cooking, yeah right) examples ...

January 4, 2011

Quote Garden - Not a day in anyone's life

Not one day in anyone’s life is an uneventful day, no day without profound meaning, no matter how dull and boring it might seem, no matter whether you are a seamstress or a queen, a shoeshine boy, or a movie star, a renowned philosopher or a Down’s-Syndrome child. Because in every day of your life, there are opportunities to perform little kindnesses for others, both by conscious acts of will and unconscious example. Each smallest act of kindness—even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, a compliment that engenders a smile—reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away. Likewise, each small meanness, each thoughtless expression of hatred, each envious and bitter act, regardless of how petty, can inspire others, and is therefore the seed that ultimately produces evil fruit, poisoning people whom you have never met and never will. All human lives are so profoundly and intricately entwined—those dead, those living, those generations yet to come—that the fate of all is the fate of each, and the hope of humanity rests in every heart and in every pair of hands. Therefore, after every failure, we are obliged to strive again for success, and when faced with the end of one thing, we must build something new and better in the ashes, just as from pain and grief, we must weave hope, for each of us is a thread critical to the strength—to the very survival of the human tapestry. Every hour in every life contains such often-unrecognized potential to affect the world that the great days and thrilling possibilities are combined always in this momentous day.

From The Corner Of His Eye (Dean Koontz)

January 3, 2011

A Writer's Life - When ideas attack

With ideas it's like with days. I try to take one at a time, but sometimes several will attack me at once. And they do so in often unexpected, sometimes inappropriate moments, yet always … alright, mostly … accompanied with the heavens opening up and light shining down on me. Angelic choirs are optional.

Not every single idea will find a way onto paper, but a lot do. Sometimes immediately. Then it takes years of brooding before I decide that an idea deserves a line, a chapter or a whole book.

Just like several ideas sneaking up on me and attacking like a pack of hounds who have trouble digesting their daily Shakespeare, I have this slightly annoying tendency to give in to working on several projects at a time. That's not to say I will sit here in front of two computers and writing with my left hand for my blog and with the right hand on a novel. Interesting picture though.
It's just that my attention tends to shift from one project/idea to the next rather easily and I often need to remind myself that finishing one might be a wise decision. But this is easier said than done. And if you've ever tried to argue with yourself … well, makes you feel like a bit of a schizophrenic talking to yourself if only in your mind. But who says that creative people have to be sane? In fact, creative people rarely are. Then again where's the fun in being sane anyway?

The good news is that I managed to agree with myself to concentrate on writing on a particular book right now. It's a thriller, the first dead body is already lying in the woods somewhere in Pennsylvania, and the main character is *tadaaa* an author. As paranoid as I can often be I don't think I'm giving away too much with these clues. What I do want to let you in on though, is the title.

NOW

That's the title of the book. In fact, this will be the title in every language if it ever gets translated. You see, I've got a thing for titles and the message they convey. I like to keep it brief and I like to keep it English. Granted, the latter might be a bit weird seeing as I write in German, but it all makes perfect sense once you've read the book. You know, those pages attached to the cover with the above mentioned title.

Come to think of it. I never quite understood how some writers will have so called “working titles” for their books. Either you have a title that wraps up the essence of your book. Or you don't. Of course you might argue that a book is mostly about the content and not just a few words on the cover. I see this a wee bit differently though. A title tells you a lot. An awful lot. Not just about the book, but also about the person who's written it. But I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes! Several ideas attacking at once.

All I'm going to say is that right now I'm torn between supporting or subduing my newest brainchild that hit me one fine evening last December when I was just trying to fall asleep. Oh, those sleepless nights of letting your mind wander through the magical woods of your imagination. The ever-present jetlag of the creative.

That's why I love taking naps.

Digressing again.

There's a dead body I need to deal with.
And an author on the run.
Not me though.
Then again ...

January 2, 2011

Books Aplenty - 236 and counting

I risked a glance at my LibraryThing catalog, or to be more specific, at the list of all my unread books and nearly fainted when I realized just how many TBR books I have lying around.
The total amounts to a whopping 236 unread books. Two. Hundred. And. Thirty. Six.
How did that happen!? Alright, it obviously happened somewhere along the way, so maybe I should really concentrate on reducing this number.
The 2011 Reading Challenge will sure help with this. At least this is what I'm hoping.

So, I fared quite well this week. I think. But what are two books in the grand scheme of things. Or rather, in light (or should that be shadow) of those towering book-stacks. Anyway.

I read Storyteller Songs (G.R. Grove) which was a nice, short read, basically an introduction to other works of the author, such as Storyteller and Pryderi's Pigs and other poems which I already had the pleasure to read. If you like the idea of medieval poetry in modern English form I can wholeheartedly recommend to go straight for the poetry book, and if you've got a thing for anything medieval anyway and want to follow a bard on his journey, read the Storyteller trilogy. If you're unsure whether one or the other might be for you, pick the one I read this week, because Storyteller Songs is a great teaser.

Today I finished Sorting Out Billy (Jo Brand) which was generally a fast-paced and witty read, but occasionally a bit overdone in the humor department and padded with (inevitably as the author is a stand-up comedian herself) stand up routines that I didn't find as funny as they were obviously intended to be. The author could have made a lot more out of the storyline that centers around three friends and their problems, Billy being just one of them. It's mostly her sharp and descriptive writing style that saves this debut novel.

While I managed to scratch two books from my TBR list, I actually added three to it this week.
I received several eBook ARCs (“advance reading copy” for those who aren't familiar with the term) from NetGalleyThe Frugalista Files (Natalie McNeal), The Tao of Travel (Paul Theroux) and Views from the Loft (Ed. Daniel Slager).
Especially considering the plan to be frugal in 2011 I will surly delve into The Frugalista Files pretty much straight away. So, gotta go and read a book!

January 1, 2011

Pajama Musings - The frugal life

It wasn't my idea, I swear. But somehow I managed to agree somewhere along the way and now... well, now I'm practically doomed. Failure is such an ugly word. It's what I don't hope for, but I can see it lingering in the distance anyway.

What I'm going on about is this – my friend Sarah had the glorious idea to be frugal in 2011. After all she has a closet overflowing with everything you could possibly need in garments, accessories and the likes. Let's just say that my own closet doesn't look any better. Basically we both have everything we need. Some things we have in shockingly large quantities and yet we often couldn't resist to buy yet another variation of this'n'that just because it was too tempting.

So, here's the plan. We won't buy any new clothes, bags, shoes, jewelery and other accessories this year. We have enough. Honestly. In fact we could probably outfit half a dozen gals with all the garments in our possession. So far, so good.
This isn't were our plan stops. And still my memory is a bit blurred on how her plan became our plan, but anyway. Other things get scratched from the list as well. Obviously not food and toilet paper, and when the last umbrella in the house breaks a new one will be ok too, BUT things like CDs, DVDs … and let me take a deep breath now ... books.
Yes. Books. You read that correctly. No books.

I know what you're about to say now. How could someone who loves books, someone who devotes a blog to her passion about books, someone like yours truly, agree on such a ludicrous term?
Well, you wouldn't ask if you saw the towering book stacks that surround me and which are literally begging me to be read. Sometimes I can hear them calling me. Seriously. Then again, maybe it's just the wind blowing through the small spaces of those neatly stacked tomes.
You see, when I shop, I do it with all my heart. So, let's just say I managed to buy more books last year than any person of my age, or any age, could read in a lifetime. Maybe I'm exaggerating. Maybe not.

But. And there is always a but. As much as we agreed not to shop, and instead to use and appreciate the things we already own, there is a wee little clause that puts back a tiny smile on our faces and which is probably the only reason we really dare to face this challenge.
Both Sarah and myself are selling stuff we no longer need, wear, use, etc. and the money we make from these sales may than be saved for a reward like, in my case, the new Duffy CD or the latest Koontz novel. I'm not talking hundreds of Dollars here (or rather Euros). One month may bring €29,- and the next €157,-.
The important part about this is to take a very close look at the things we sell and see them for what they are. Things we never really needed. Things we bought just because they looked pretty, just not on us. Things that were 70% off and seemed like a good idea just because of the incredible savings. You get the idea.

I will also be reselling old books. Granted, those were certainly needed. And appreciated. But if I don't want to end up building an inserted ceiling and consequently develop a hunch, because I can't walk upright anymore, they will have to find new homes, new readers too.

Here's to living the frugal life in 2011!