April 30, 2011

Pajama Musings - The frugal life of a bookaholic

Hard to believe that it's already the end of April. Some of you might remember my blog post on Januray 1st where I declared to live the frugal life. But what's a declaration without any willpower?

I must confess that I was unsure just how strong my willpower really was, but seeing how I didn't have to walk the frugal path alone, but with my good friend Sarah who instigated the whole frugality-thing in the first place, it wasn't so bad after all. Granted, the first few weeks were still filled with orders rolling in which I had made in late December. In February temptation started to glimpse around the corner, though I bravely ignored it. By the end of March I realized that I didn't even think about shopping. At least not much. Shocker. Seriously. And now, in April, I fell into quite a money-saving state of mind.

Admittedly though I am allowed to do "some" shopping in my frugal year. No splurging though on stuff that I don't really need, but merely want. As mentioned back in January, I allow myself only to buy things from the money I make, selling once wanted but never really needed things. You'd be in shock if I told you how much I earned that way during the past four month. It only goes to show that I obviously haven't been someone to spend her money wisely.

Anyway. While I did not use a cent of my "frugal money" in January, I did buy a thing or two in February, and early March. Trust me, when you're on a budget, even if it's self-imposed, you think twice about buying things. Now take a wild guess what made up the lions part of my frugal buying frenzy? Any ideas?

My eReader.

I thought long and hard before I finally caved. And seeing how I had the money to buy it, I did. But what about books in general? Here's a shocker. I "reduced" my book shopping to the absolute minimum which means, patiently waiting for paperback editions from my favorite authors to be available. Preferably, even the cheapest possible versions of those paperbacks (as there is often quite a difference between US and UK editions).
I know what you're about to say now - this is insane!? Alright, it probably is. But in some twisted way it's fun to be frugal, even if it's not out of necessity, but due to the wish to generally buy more wisely. And boy, did I splurge on stuff in the past years. You wouldn't believe it. And I'm surly not going into the ugly details of buying "mystery boxes" filled with books on Ebay. Yikes!

What started as some kind of money-saving-venture between friends soon showed me how irresponsibly I've often kept on throwing money out of the window. I never even came close to having depts, mind you, but still - money came in and was almost immediately spent again. Mostly on things I really didn't need, because I had at least half a dozen only slightly different versions already in my closet. These days I think twice about what I want to buy and I appreciate it a whole lot more, because my decisions are well thought through.
And you know what? I feel a whole lot happier today. And that's even more important than seeing my bank account grow fat.

April 29, 2011

The Others - Trixie Koontz

Last week I featured one of my favorite writers Dean Koontz, and today I would like to introduce you to another author in the Koontz family, namely Trixie Koontz (1995-2007).

If you've just clicked on the link and are a bit confused about the fact that Trixie is a dog, I can't blame you. But she's indeed (with a little help of her Dad, of course) a dog of many talents, including writing. I'm not quite sure how she managed to do the typing though as paws aren't exactly made for this kind of activity. Then again, maybe her human helper took over this task for her, so all she had to do is bark the text and ... well, you get the idea.

Trixie's books are a must-read for dog owners, but they make a fun read for anyone who loves dogs. Especially Golden Retrievers.


April 28, 2011

100 Followers Giveaway

As you may have noticed my blog has reached 100 followers last weekend aaand ya all know what this means!

It's time for a giveaway!!

And because it's a big milestone I'm going to make it extra special - special, as in AMAZON GIFTCARD and TWO WINNERS!!

I'll be giving away two Amazon Giftcards worth $ 15,00 each
(or £ 9,00 in case you're from the UK/EU - winner(s) from more "exotic" places will receive $ 15,00 through Paypal, so they may spend the money in a local bookstore of their choice)

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:
Where do you prefer to buy your books - online or at a bookshop?

Rules
For this particular giveaway following my blog is obviously mandatory, after all it is thanks to my followers that I'm having it. Please make sure you follow me publicly through GFC, because otherwise I'm not able to check whether you really do follow or not. And yes, I will check!
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner

The giveaway is open from April 28th through May 7th - two winners will be picked through random.org on May 8th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winners will have 48 hours to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

Picture Garden - The Dandelion Path

"THE DANDELION PATH"
The time of blowing dandelions is near ...

April 27, 2011

Review - The Diva Doctrine (Patricia V. Davis)

Granted, I'm not the kind of girl to devour self-help books by the dozen. In fact I avoid them like the plague. Now you might argue that by reading The Diva Doctrine I made an exception. Wrong. This is so much more than just another self-help book.
Being asked to write a book after her blog post “From an older woman to a younger one” literally went toxic, was a bit of a shock to Patricia V. Davis. However, the thought of how profoundly her blog post had touched and encouraged readers, thankfully, made her agree.
Written with both wisdom and wit, Patricia presents the “16 Universal Principles Every Woman Needs To Know” taking the reader on a downright honest and self-deprecating journey on which you will learn a thing or two about what it means to be a true Diva. And no, not the kind of Diva that throws hissy fits just because she got the wrong brand of bottled water to her salad. A true Diva is a woman who is successful, happy and confident. Now what gal doesn't want to be that kind of Diva?
I can only recommend this book to any woman, no matter what age and/or stage of life she's in. You cannot be too young, or old for that matter, not to appreciate the many valuable tips on romance, motherhood, friendship, and family, found here.
In short: A fun and empowering read – this book is absolutely fabulous!

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 - 50 Jobs In 50 States (Daniel Seddiqui)

In our current economy it seems a good idea to think outside of the box when it comes to looking for a job. This is exactly what Daniel Seddiqui did by bringing his dream of “living the map” and his desperate search for a job together. Looking for the quintessential jobs, best representing the culture and economy of each state, Daniel soon set out with nothing more than a Jeep Cherokee and the wish to make it through 50 Jobs In 50 States in only a year.
Apart from this being an awesome idea, I found it amazing how much energy Daniel put into this project, which certainly wasn't the easiest to begin with. Whether working as Vegas Wedding Coordinator in Nevada, Cheese Maker in Wisconsin, or Race-Pit Crew Member in Indiana, this journey taught him a lot about perseverance, risk-taking, adaptability and networking. And while the book is focusing on economy and the search for jobs, I found it to be a fascinating read from a travelers perspective too.
Admittedly I could have done without the passages about Daniel's relationship and dating life which did not fit the whole theme of the book. And, in my opinion, the book was a bit amateurishly written and not as polished as I would have wished for. Yet I want to point out that the idea alone more than made up for this.
In short: An inspiring and different kind of journey through the US!

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.”

Beyond the Shelf - BookCrossing

I'm sure many of you have heard about BookCrossing before, but are you a Bookcrosser too? Admittedly I'm not, and I guess you could say the closest I've ever come to it is joining PostCrossing almost two years ago, but the only thing these two have in common is the "crossing" part. And while I neglected the latter, I'm now seriously considering the former.

So what is BookCrossing? Basically it is defined as the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise. Ron Hornbaker conceived the idea for what is now known as BookCrossing in March 2001 and consequently launched a website which has expanded and grown throughout the world over the years. Users of the site can "go hunting" - all they have to do is check the website to see a list of books that have recently been "released" and then go to the location it was left to "catch" it.

Apart from releasing books pretty much anywhere, they may also be left at "Official BookCrossing Zones" (OBCZs), which are located in certain coffee shops, cafes, restaurants and other public places. The purpose of these locations is to get current members in the area to leave books to share with the public. This also advertises BookCrossing and creates more members.

The phenomenon has also reached Austria, and I have to say that upon a recent check on how many books are out there in the wild, I was astonished at the high number of released books here. Currently there are 1.093 books out there (none of which were set free in my hometown, dang it), just waiting to be found by fellow BookCrossers (or maybe people who have no idea why they end up so very lucky to find a book on the train, at a coffee shop, or any other place). If you're living in the US, there are currently 9.625 books out there, and in the UK there are 4.206 books on the loose.

While I'm not part of the BookCrossing community (yet, but as I mentioned, I do consider it), I wonder have you made experiences with BookCrossing? Let me know, because I'm really curious about it!

April 26, 2011

Quote Garden - Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all

The book exists for us perchance which will explain our miracles and reveal new ones. The at present unutterable things we may find somewhere uttered. These same questions that disturb and puzzle and confound us have in their turn occurred to all the wise men; not one has been omitted; and each has answered them, according to his ability, by his words and his life.

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will tax the reader more than any exercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object. Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and, more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind.

By Henry David Thoreau

We have a winner ...

First of all I want to thank everyone for stopping by my blog on the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop. A lot of old and a whole lot of new people dropped by for a chance to win, and frankly, I was shocked how many new followers I gained even though following wasn't mandatory. Thank you for that too!!

While I obviously didn't check whether someone follows, or not, I did have to delete two entries for not following the mandatory rules. Come on, how hard can it be to answer one little question for a giveaway? It's not as if I had asked for your take on the binomial inverse theorem or something equally mind-boggling. As to people entering past the midnight deadline, well, they followed the rules so I figured they should still be in for a chance of winning. What difference does an hour make anyway, especially when we are all living in different time zones!

With the sheer number of entries I also realized that writing names on paper slips and doing the good ol' pick-name-out-of-a-hat formula wasn't going to be the most sensible choice. So, random.org it is. Then, of course, I was faced with the fact that the comments to my blog posts aren't numbered. Haha. For a brief moment it looked as though I might end up going blind counting down to the winning number at least twice, just to be sure I got the right one. But fear not, I managed to add those numbers after a brief online search on how to do this.

Long story short - random.org spit out a number and the name that goes with that number is ...


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

To all of you who did not win this time, don't fret and frown!
The next giveaway is not only around the corner, it is practically on the doorstep. Why? Well, I've reached the 100 followers mark during this giveaway hop sooo watch out for the 100 Followers Giveaway which will be up later this week!

April 25, 2011

A Writer's Life - A day in the life of a writer (Part 1)

7:38
Rolling out of bed, stretching and yawning a little, before heading into the kitchen

7:41
Putting on the kettle to make tea

7:42
Getting rid of all the water that's been drunk during the night (not to self: don't eat spicy foods in the evening)

7:44
Heading back to the kitchen, waiting for the darn' kettle to finally boil

7:45
Water's still not boiling, so time is being used to fire up the computer

7:46
The kettle starts whistling the moment the right index finger hits the ON-button on the computer

7:47
Finally making tea, filling a mug, and putting it next to the computer

7:49
Time to brush teeth and take shower, but now that the computer is up and running rather check e-mails first

8:03
Done with those e-mails

8:04
Maybe check out what's been happening on Facebook overnight

8:12
Finding the usual crap in the newsfeed, peppered with some status lines that beg for a funny/ironic/pesky/teasing comment

8:20
Tea hasn't quite kicked in yet, so taking a shower is further delayed, instead meals will be served in My Restaurant

8:28
And while we're at it, let's check whether Doreen* needs to be fed and washed

8:37
Done with playing around a bit with Doreen, risking a brief glance to the clock and realizing that a full hour has been spent "trying to wake up"

8:38
Spurting into the bathroom

8:40
Washing, brushing, showering, toweling ... the usual stuff

9:01
Leaving the bath, remembering that maybe it would have been a good idea to have breakfast first

9:02
Putting wheat bread into the toaster and hoping no grains will get stuck between teeth now that they've just been cleaned

9:09
Finishing breakfast and heading back into the bathroom to clean the interdental spaces which were inevitably clogged with wheat grains

9:11
Plopping down behind the computer again, this time to check the weather forecast

9:12
Contemplating wearing shorts as temps are supposed to hit the mid 70ies

9:13
About to get up and stick nose into the closet when a friend goes online and sends an IM

9:47
Saying goodbye to the friend after a brief discussion of the damage she's done shopping the previous day

9:48
Going on an extended search for a particular shirt, but not finding it

10:03
Remembering that said shirt is in the laundry and opting for a different one instead, which of course doesn't go with the shorts and leads to some more time being spent on rummaging around in the depths of the closet

10:17
Clothed, finally

10:18
Getting down to business, finally (again)

10:19
Unsure which project to tackle first

10:27
Coming to the conclusion that it's best to make your editor happy aka trying to finish the first draft of "the secret project"

10:38
Spending time revising instead of actually continuing writing

10:42
Getting bored of revising, thus playing around with formating the page/font

11:05
Realizing you're not getting anywhere

11:06
Starting on the Acknowledgements for the book-to-be, profusely thanking your wonderful editor

11:48
Remembering that your harvest will go to waste if you don't head over to Farm Town right away

11:49
Accidently closing file without saving it first

11:50
Cursing

11:54
Done with cursing

11:55
Harvesting

12:07
Realizing that hunger is setting in and heading into the kitchen

12:08
Searching the inventory of both the fridge and supply cabinet

12:13
Speed dialing the number of preferred Pizza Delivery service

12:14
Ordering Veggie Pizza, minus mushrooms

12:15
Deciding to tackle writing/plotting/typing after lunch

--- to be continued ---



* Pet Society

April 24, 2011

Books Aplenty - I want to be a Diva, but I might pass on trying to have 50 jobs in only a year

I didn't get as much done in reading this week as I had planned to, then again, both books were really enjoyable, so I couldn't ask for more, could I? Alright, maybe having more time to read more books, but well.

First came 50 Jobs In 50 States (Daniel Seddiqui) which is, basically, about a guy traveling the United States to work in 50 different, and mostly typical for the individual states, jobs - all over the course of a year. Awesome idea, and even more so, I found it amazing how much energy Daniel put into this project, which certainly wasn't the easiest to beginn with. But he succeeded and if there's one thing I need to criticize about the book that would be that it's a bit amateurishly written, or shall I say, not as polished as I would have wished for. Don't get me wrong - the idea alone, and being able to follow Daniel's journey through his book, more than make up for this.

Then I read The Diva Doctrine (Patricia V. Davis) which was a both fun and empowering read that I can only recommend to women of every age. Honest and self-deprecating you will learn a thing or two about what it means to be a true Diva. And no, not the kind of Diva that throws hissy fits just because she got the wrong brand of bottled water to her salad. A true Diva is a woman who is successful, happy and confident. Now what girl doesn't want to be that kind of Diva? I can see you nod in agreement. Good. Because this book is absolutely fabulous. So go ahead and read it.

We all knew it would not last all that long … the period of time in which no new books rolled in.

Once again I received several books through LibraryThing, namely The Bone Trail (Nell Walton), Peace, Love And Murder (Nancy Holzner) and The Monster Inside (JG Faherty).

Inevitably there was also a free download from Sourcebooks too – Romeo, Romeo (Robin Kaye).

Then, of course, I couldn't resist and requested two books from NetGalley. First off The Diva Doctrine (Patricia V. Davis) which I obviously read right away. Plus Exchange (Dale R. Cozort), so as not to read non-fiction titles only for my reviews. And yes, I know I shouldn't continue requesting so many books there, but it's just so tempting every time some new and interesting ones pop up on the site. And hey, I'm a good girl! I will review them all!! I may not be the fastest, but I am reliable when it comes to reviewing.

And now *drumroll* I am proud to announce the book that did indeed sit in my mailbox this week. A signed copy of The Great Betrayal (Millenia Black) which I recently won on Peeking Between the Pages. Woohoo!!

April 23, 2011

Pajama Musings - Who the hell is Anton Yelchin!?

Alright, alright, I googled the name, and hey, I do know that guy after all. He played the part of Pavel Chekov in the latest Star Trek movie and Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation. Okaaaaay!

But maybe I should start at the beginning. I introduced you to one of my favorite authors, Dean Koontz, in yesterday's feature, and admittedly I've been spending some time browsing around on his website too. Well, remember that last paragraph? The one about my opinion on movie adaptations of Koontz' books? If not, you might want to go there and read it right now.

So, now that we've established that I'm not particularly excited about all of those books-gone-movies, take a wild guess what my reaction was on finding out that my favorite Koontz' novel Odd Thomas is now making its way onto the big screen. Well, truthfully, I was (and still am) torn between sheer horror and ecstasy. After all we are talking about a fantastic book. And a long line of lame movie adaptations preceding it.

I had to laugh (a bit, because then I frowned) when I read what Dean Koontz said about the project on his website, "I generally don’t weigh in on film adaptations in progress. I’m usually full of fear that they’ll go badly wrong." Uh oh, this doesn't bode well ... but he continues, "Not this time. [...] The script is a spot-on, blow-out-the-walls, edge-of-your-chair, emotionally moving, thrill-packed, dazzlingly fresh, in-your-face, stunningly structured, absolute masterpiece that reinvents the tentpole picture by giving it meaning beyond spectacle and heart that should make it the biggest damn date movie ever." I'm still not sure whether I should be relieved now.

Obviously I am going to follow the progress of this movie project. The film's release date will be sometime in 2012. And so far it looks like Anton Yelchin will play the part of Odd Thomas, the short order fry cook with a connection to the after life, Addison Timlin is said to play the part of his girlfriend, Stormy Llewellyn, and William Dafoe is in for the part of police chief Wyatt Porter. No word yet on who's going to play Elvis. Yes, Elvis. The Elvis.

April 22, 2011

Review - Malled (Caitlin Kelly)

Admittedly I've had my share of student's jobs in the world of retail too, many years ago. Reading Caitlin Kelly's book Malled, where she describes how she ended up working retail out of necessity, to bolster up her income as freelance writer, brought back both the good and the not-so-good memories of that time.
Coming from a journalistic background Caitlin's experiences as a retail sales associate for The North Face provides not only a very personal insight into her life, but even more so, it is both well written and informative. This report draws a very accurate picture of the tedious work at a minimum wage, including everything from only having one break in an eight-hours shift to safety hazards in the stockroom, not to mention disinterest of management concerning work-related suggestions. If you've never seen the world of retail from this side and only walk into stores as someone intent on buying things, this will be an eye-opening read for you. And hopefully it also leads to a better understanding of that person behind the cash register and to more respect towards this person too.
In case you've read Retail Hell by Freeman Hall, well, Malled is a lot different and definitely the more substantial book dealing with the topic.
In short: Ever worked retail? You should definitely read this book. Only a shopper? All the more reason to read it.

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 - Consumerology (Philip Graves)

Don't be fooled by thinking that Philip Graves' Consumerology is basically about “shopping til' I'm dropping”, because it is not. This is a fascinating book on consumer psychology and marketing research, which allows you a whole new perspective on what exactly makes your “inner shopper” tick.
Let's put it this way – you may say you'll buy one thing, but in the end you'll buy something else entirely. Welcome to the unconscious which decides for us, whether we want it to, or not. From reading consumers to understanding the crowd, from the unconscious mind to consumer futurology, Graves is certainly debunking the market research industry. Introducing the reader not only to stories of how, quite often, extensive marketing research led to major flops when launching a new product (remember the “New Coke” fiasco?), he also shares how some predicted failures became a huge success. Last but not least, he also presents his unique AFECT approach, a set of five criteria to evaluate the reliability of any consumer insight.
Though the book is, in my opinion, more aimed at people who have a background in Marketing, it's an accessible and well written guide, with just the right dosage of ironic humor, thus definitely recommendable to everyone who's interested in the topic.
In short: A comprehensive and refreshing glimpse into the behavior of consumers and their usually not easily discernible buying decisions!

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.”

The Others - Dean Koontz

I remember we were sitting in class, in a particularly boring lesson, when my then best friend told me about this awesome book she was reading – Dean Koontz' Lightning. It didn't take too long before I headed to a bookstore myself to get my hands on the book and it was a small step from devouring this engrossing novel to hunting down every available book by the author shortly after that. He's one of the rare authors who got me hooked in no time, and if I may say so, he also influenced me, if only a bit, in my own writing.

Up to this day Dean Koontz is one of my all time favorite authors and I've followed his writing career ever since that fateful day in high school. If you haven't heard about this author yet and asked me what kind of books he's writing I couldn't answer that in just two words. He certainly doesn't fit into just one particular genre. His work is often classified as suspense thrillers, though he usually mixes horror, science fiction, mystery or fantasy elements into his stories. Early on in his career he was seen as a horror author because of that, but if you know his books you also know that they defy such categorizations, because he is adventurous enough to dip into different genres in all of his books. Though, interestingly enough, Koontz has been using quite a number of pen names in his early career, because publishers didn't want readers to be confused by his books spanning different genres.

If you asked me for a recommendation I'd urge you to read Odd Thomas. While Koontz wrote a lot of great books, this must be one of his best. And unfortunately it was more or less downhill after that. That's not an easy thing to say about ones favorite author, but it's the truth. Recent novels were everything between average, such as The Taking, or disappointing, such as Breathless, or plain awful, as is the case of Your Heart Belongs To Me. But I'm far from giving up hope and look forward to his latest book What The Night Knows which will soon be available in paperback.

As a true fan I also watched some of the movie adaptations of Koontz' books. Frankly, they come nowhere near the actual books and even if judged only as movies they are at best ok. I guess Stephen King got the better deal out of his movie adaptations compared to Dean Koontz. Though, and a friend just recently asked me this, I never really liked King's books. I wouldn't go so far as to say you can't like both authors, plus it's been a while since I read a Stephen King novel, but well, my heart belongs to Koontz and in this case that is not awful.

April 21, 2011

April 20, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Seventh Sanctum aka Inspirations for the uninspired writer

Let's assume you've run out of ideas, because your trusted your muse isn't willing to show up. What to do, what to do?
Maybe heading over to Seventh Sanctum might help!

These are my first steps into the world of random tools for creativity, with quite a fine collection of “generators” that make random characters, plots, ideas, and more, to use in your writing, games, art and more.

So, let's get started …

I think I'll go for a romance oriented story in a science fiction setting.

In this story, a delusional astronomer attends a professional event and meets a persuasive physicist. What starts as detachment soon turns into infatuation - all thanks to an unveiling. What role will someone visiting a doctor play in their relationship?

Alright, I think I could possibly maybe work with that *cough*.

Now we need to build up the characters.

This gentleman makes you think of an inhuman statue. He has slanted brown eyes that are like two patches of dried blood. His thick, wavy, black hair is neck-length and is worn in a severe style. He is short and has a narrow build. His skin is light-colored. He has thick eyebrows. His wardrobe is severe, with a lot of brown and gray.

That would be our delusional astronomer. Just the way I would have imagined him.

This generous woman has droopy cobalt-blue eyes. Her fine, straight, gray hair is worn in a style that reminds you of a horse's mane. She has a slender build. Her skin is pale. She has wide feet. Her wardrobe is tight.

This would be the persuasive physicist. The tight wardrobe sure goes with the persuasiveness.

And if you'll excuse me now for a minute or two, because I need to … muahahahaaaaaaaa … concentrate on not breaking out in laughter.

So, we have the basic idea and the main characters, now let's work on the details, like the names of our lovely couple. And because I don't want to disturb my neighbors with more laughing fits, I shall use general-purpose names.

Brain Mathis

What the …

Dona Eliza Owens

… hell!?

Do I really want to know what kind of names the more fancy generators would have thrown at me?

I think not.

What else do we need to consider?

Well, maybe the government Brain and Dona work for should be named.

Galaxies' Union

Not all too bad.

And seeing how this is science fiction we are going to put our heroes onto a spaceship.

Dimensional Covert Ultra-Cruiser

Yeah, right.

Last, but so definitely least, our book needs a title.

The Early Rulers of the Territories

I hate to say this, but the title seems to be the best part of the book. Seriously. Then again …

This book is not very clear thanks to a lack of coherent planning. If someone makes an effort to read it, they will find it has little useful information. One may be deterred from reading it, but it is evident that the contents contain some original thought. Examining the book, one will find: Some personal notes unrelated to the book, scattered throughout the book.

That figures.

Fear not, my dear readers, because me and my muse have called a truce after all.

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop


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 …
… curious about what you can win?
I thought so.

I'm giving away a set of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. More precisely, you will receive the Insight Edition (Bethany House) of these classic novels which include trivia, notes and inspirations throughout the text.

My blog is number 140 on the list so I assume you must already be tired from filling out all those entry forms or commenting on giveaway post. Thus, I'm going to make this one 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:
What would you like to find in this year's Easter basket?

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

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on April 26th 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!

April 19, 2011

Quote Garden - Date a girl who reads

"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."

By Rosemarie Urquico

April 18, 2011

A Writer's Life - A matter of hands

When you're writing you're either doing it with your right hand or your left hand or both. Before you raise your eyebrows questioningly please remember that everyone uses both hands when typing on the keyboard. Other than that we all have a preferred hand to do everyday stuff, including writing.

Most people are right handed, thus belonging to an estimated 70-90% of the world population who are right handed too. There is actually no prevailing theory on why there are more people who prefer their right hand though. Sociological, biological and environmental theories try to explain this. Emphasis on trying. Of course, what most of us will have heard before, is the theory that links motor skills of the body to sides of the brain, often marking left handed people as the more creative and right handed people as the more practical ones. Besides the fact that some well known authors were left handed, such as Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain and H.G. Wells, this doesn't mean that right handed writer's were (or are) any less creative. The left handed ones simply stand out because left handedness is rarer. So, this theory leaves a lot to be desired and in the end it doesn't really explain the reason why there are so much more people who are right handed either.

Apart from people being either right or left handed, they can be mixed handed or ambidextrous too. Mixed handed, also known as cross dominance, refers to a person who can do different tasks better with different hands. Though this handedness is often neglected as we usually declare the hand with which we write our predominant hand. Then there is the rare ambidexterity which means that a person can do any task equally well with either hand.

If you asked me now what kind of handedness I claim my own, I'd say right handedness with a tendency towards mixed handedness. While I am writing with my right hand, I do prefer using my left hand for a number of other everyday tasks. Then again, I think a lot of people do, they just don't think about it consciously, thus would never get the idea that they are more than simply right or left handed.

In the end I guess you can't just throw people into one category or the other. Besides, even if you declare yourself either right or left handed, we should not forget that our two hands actually work together in very subtle ways. For example, for a right handed person the left hand is involved in important ways too – it orients and grips the paper, sort of the right hand's little helper. And these days – getting back to the initially mentioned keyboard – we sure give our hands equal rights when it comes to writing. At least I know of no person who'd only type with their right or left hand. Maybe our computerized lives push us towards ambidexterity, and if it does, it sure gives those researchers even more to ponder.

April 17, 2011

Books Aplenty - The week of mysteries

While I usually start off Sunday's feature with the books I read, followed by those I added to my TBR stacks, I will do it the other way round today.

After the obscene amounts of eBooks I've been hoarding the past few weeks, I am proud to announce that I didn't add a single book this week. Very proud of self.

Granted, I thought that my extensive whining the previous week might lead to several books finally materializing in my mailbox, but they didn't. Yet, interestingly enough, I found out that one of the books I won quite some time ago, well my name kind of slipped through, but I should receive it now anytime soon. And the one I requested from BookSneeze almost two months ago is now considered lost-in-the-mail too. Oh well ...

And then *drumroll* I received two lovely e-mails from fellow book bloggers who put me on their RAK list *doing the happy dance*. In case you haven't yet heard about RAK aka Random Acts of Kindness, just read my blog post from two weeks ago. I will give a full report on what I received (I know the title of one book, the other is still a surprise) and what I sent out myself at the end of the month. Let's just say I love the idea and will certainly participate next month too!

And now to my reading loot.

I hit it off with Malled (Caitlin Kelly) which is a book about her experiences in retail. If you've read Retail Hell (Freeman Hall), well, this is a lot different and while Retail Hell might have a humor that is not to everyone's taste (though I loved it), Malled is the more substantial one dealing with the topic. Ever worked retail? You should definitely read this book. Only a shopper? You should still read it.
Judith, from Leeswamme's Blog (which is one of my favorite blogs), also read and reviewed the book this week, plus she even had the chance to do an interview with Caitlin, so you might want to check this out. Of course my own review will follow in a few days too.

Then I dug into my mystery stacks, basically choosing the books by blindly picking a random one. First came Shakespeare's Champion (Charlaine Harris) and the first couple of pages were everything but promising. Dead body in the local gym and the heroine Lily Bard is heavily into workout herself. Not exactly the kind of starting point I warm up to easily. But then, after more pages I simply couldn't put the book down. While Lily is far from being a likable character she is amazingly deep and real, a rare finding in your plain old mystery book these days. And the plot and the fabulously developed characters work together so well. Let's just say I finished the book in one sitting even though it got a wee bit late, or should I say early, doing that.
And after I put the book away I simply had to run to the computer and check on other works by Charlaine Harris. Imagine my surprise to find out she's the one behind True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse books!? I never read those, alright, but I have heard lost about these books. So, here's the plan – the Lily Bard Omnibus with all five books of the series will go on my wishlist. Can you tell how much I loved this book? I bet you can.

After this almost perfect read I followed up with Murder Mile High (Lora Roberts) which wasn't all too bad either. Once again with a female lead, Liz sets off to meet with her estranged family just to end up as suspect for the murder of her shot ex-husband who's been dumped on her parent's front porch. Well written, I especially liked the interaction between Liz and Eva who's with the local police, though I would have wished for the whole plot to be a bit less foreseeable.

Falling From Grace (Patricia Brooks) has been the third mystery and with the much better books that came before it was probably the low point of the week. Trying to find the sister of her newest client, the killings of the Crucifixer get in the way, and yes, the two cases are connected. Still your average read, flowing smoothly, with ok characters, and a rather twisted plot (and family for that matter). All in all it was certainly worthwhile, yet didn't quite capture me like the others did.

Here's to next week, with more fun on the reading front.

April 16, 2011

Pajama Musings - The death of a TV set

Do you read user manuals? Alright, maybe the better question would be, do you understand them. But seriously, do you risk a glance or just throw them into the bottom drawer and forget about them?

Not so long ago I found quite a substantial amount of manuals for all kinds of appliances in a drawer. Most of these things weren't even in my possession anymore. And to add insult to injury, I even excavated several remote controls for which I obviously had the user manual, but the actual device was already in junk heaven or wherever else dead TV sets and radios may go.

If you read Monday's blog post you will already know that my old TV set died last weekend. It was a quick death and the only one suffering was lil' old me, not because I felt that not being able to watch TV was so horrible, but because of pulling a tendon when hauling the spare TV I have stored in the basement upstairs. Fortunately my arm got better quickly, so I obviously didn't hurt myself all too badly. As the old TV set was darn heavy I decided that buying a new one would have to go hand in hand (but not mine this time, ha) with disposing of the old one. Granted, delivery cost a bit more than just packing the new one in my car, but lacking at least two strong men without back problems the old TV would have sticked around and probably made a side table for eternity.

So, there it sat. My new Panasonic Viera. And with it came about ten or twelve small leaflets which didn't quite look the way I remember user manuals to look like. Each leaflet was in a different language and basically just explained the remote control. End of story. But there was also a CD-Rom. Alrighty. Saving paper and putting everything on CD makes sense. And obviously every person on the planet owns a computer. Admittedly I do, but it seemed too much of an effort to pop that thing in and than run from one room into the other just to start up my new toy. Of course I could have printed out a gazillion pages, but that's not like me either. Anyway. Who needs manuals anyway? I grabbed the remote control, and lo and behold, no cry of frustration but instant success. Don't ya love intuitive handling of gadgets? I certainly do.

Here's to a long life of my new TV set. And next time I have to buy another one, it will probably not have a manual included anymore. Not even on CD. I will just have to press the ON-button and a nice voice will lead me through the whole installation process. I kinda like that idea. But for now, it's me, the remote control and half a tree that didn't have to die so I could read how the TV operates. That's neat too.

April 15, 2011

The Others - Charles Dickens

Now, if you've never heard of Charles Dickens you should be very much ashamed of yourself. But I will assume that you have and maybe also read one or two of his books along the way. Or at least watched a movie adaptation of A Christmas Carol. But, frankly, while those movies are neat to watch - the one with Patrick Stewart being my favorite -, you should read the book itself too.

This English novelist of the Victorian area is still one of the most iconic and popular author's today, and he is so for a reason. With a florid and poetic writing style, and often a bit of fantasy mixed with realism in his stories, Dickens is probably best known for his depiction of the hardships of the working class. Characters such as Ebeneezer Scrooge, Oliver Twist and David Copperfield are among the most memorable in English literature. Interesting nit bit – most of his books, such as The Old Curiosity Shop or Great Expectations, were published as weekly installments in magazines before they made it into book form.
But not the stories alone left their mark in the reader's memory. The term "Scrooge" became a synonym for miser, and the exclamation "Bah! Humbug!" makes clear you're dismissive of the festive spirit. And while I would have thought that A Christmas Carol simply must be Dickens' best selling book, it is in fact A Tale Of Two Cities, which I admittedly never read.

Want to read some Dickens yourself now? With Project Gutenberg you can read all of his books for free. Though I must confess, with the classics I always felt it to be a bit of a sacrilege to read them in the eBook versions. But in the end, it is the content that counts.

April 13, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Free eBooks anyone?

As you might have noticed I am a gal who – despite my love for real, physical books – has a slight addiction to free eBooks downloads. And I have some real good sources which I want to share with you today.

First of all you should definitely subscribe to the Sourcebooks newsletter to be up to date when it comes to all their eBook promotions. Not only will you be able to buy books on sale – like at this week's Civil War's 150th Anniversary Book Sale with selected, bestselling titles for just $1,50 – but you will often have the chance for completely free downloads too.
Just recently I managed to snag a book by Jill Mansell that I had on my wishlist for quite some time already. And I recall that late last year, on Jane Austen's birthday, you had the opportunity to get six of her illustrated books for free, too.
Downloads are available in EPUB and PDF format.

Another website offering eBook promotions from time to time, though not as regularly as Sourcebooks, is Carina Press where you can currently get your virtual hands on a pre-order of the Steampunk novel Photographs & Phantoms (Cindy Spencer Pape) for free.
Books are available in EPUB format, though the first free downloads I got from the site were open PDF format. I can only assume they generally switched to EPUBs now.

Not a website from a publishing house, but an online-store, Christianbook offers a wide range of free eBooks too. You'll find a variety of different books, both non-fiction (Devotionals, Christian Living, ...) and fiction (romance, fantasy, thriller, etc.). New books are regularly added, so check back every once in a while to see whether something new and interesting is up for grabs. On this site most, but not all, books are available worldwide.
Once again, books are available in EPUB format, though a friend recently told me that books that are offered for free on Christianbook are usually at the same time available as Kindle Editions at Amazon too.

April 12, 2011

Quote Garden - The Sonnets

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And too often is his gold complexion dimm'd:
And every fair from fair sometimes declines,
By chance or natures changing course untrimm'd;
By thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

from The Sonnets by William Shakespeare

April 11, 2011

A Writer's Life - The story of the pulled tendon

Sometimes it's writer's block. Then it's a self-inflicted impediment that keeps a writer from, well, writing. Obviously I am capable of typing, but not as much as I usually am. Let's blame my old TV set which decided to die on Saturday. It went all green. Then it went out. End of story.
Luckily I have a spare TV stored in the basement. Three stories down (or up, depending on how you want to look at it), no elevator. So I hauled the TV upstairs and while it's a small one it still weighs at least 20 pounds. Next morning my right hand was slightly hurting. By evening it had spread to my elbow. And this morning I woke up to realize that it reaches up to my shoulder. It's not a horrible kind of pain, but still, doing things with my right hand or arm, like lifting a mug or grabbing something or even writing on the keyboard will make it a bit of an ordeal.
So, today's post is a bit shorter than what you're all used to, but oddly enough it is related to my life as a writer, which for the time being will be reduced to a life of simply plotting without actually typing.
Worst of all, I haven't even moved the dead TV from where it's standing, because it's so darn heavy … let's just hope this doesn't translate into one of my posts later in the week being a short “ARGH!” typed with a pen between my lips that I had to aim at the keyboard for typing, because I pretty much pulled not only another tendon, but the whole rest of me.

April 10, 2011

Books Aplenty - My download addiction

Even though I promised myself to finally read all those magazines which have been ignored by me since, uhm, January, I ended up reading books. What's the logical conclusion? Maybe to cancel those subscriptions? Now there's a thought.

First came Consumerology (Philip Graves) which is, unlike what some might think now, not about shopping shopping shopping til' I'm dropping, but instead a fascinating book on consumer behavior and marketing research. While it is, in my opinion, more aimed at people who have a background in Marketing, it's an accessible and well written guide for everyone who's interested in the topic. In short – you may say you'll buy one thing, but in the end you'll buy something else entirely. Welcome to the unconscious which decides for us whether we want it to or not.

And, to round me reading week off, I indulged in A Novena for Murder (Sister Carol Anne O'Marie) yesterday. This has been a sweet and cozy little mystery novel, with a nun that's just a bit like good old Miss Marple. I actually liked this one. With likable characters, yet a foreseeable plot, it certainly wasn't the best mystery I've ever read, but it provided me with just the right dosage of enjoyment and diversion for a lazy afternoon.

It wouldn't be me if a week went by where I don't add obscene amounts of new books to my ever growing TBR stacks. Once again they were all virtual, so at least they don't take up any physical space. Alright, here are this week's book loot confessions.

I once again downloaded free eBooks from Christianbook Thicker Than Blood (C.J. Darlington), Elisha's Bones (Don Hoesel), Love Me If You Must (Nicole Young), Paid In Blood (Mel Odom).

Then Sourcebooks offered some free downloads too – Skipped Parts (Tim Sandlin), 50 Ways To Hex Your Lover (Linda Wisdom), Backstage Pass: Sinners On Tour (Olivia Cunning), A Cottage By The Sea (Ciji Ware).

From LibraryThing I received The Kult and Deadfall (Shaun Jeffrey), The Curse Of Anna Greene (Mary Aris), Following My Toes (Laurel Osterkamp) and Too Near The Edge (Lynn Osterkamp).

And because I couldn't resist I requested and received some more books on NetGalley, namely 50 Jobs In 50 States (Daniel Seddicki), The Quest For The Cure (Brent R. Stockwell), Look Away, Dixieland (James B. Twitchell) and Malled (Caitlin Kelly).

No real, physical books, but I guess we established that yesterday already ... dumdidum ...

We have a winner ...

Before I let you in on who's the winner of the 50 Followers Giveaway I want to thank you all for participating. It was fun finding out about the places where you like to read at such as ...

“My favorite place to read is in the bath!“ by Mary,

“My preferred place to read is outside, sitting by a nice lake, in a comfy chair. Since I don't live by a lake, the place where I do most of my reading is on the couch- curled up with a pair of beagles.“ by Amy,

“My favorite place to read a book is on the beach with the ocean roaring in my ears...oh and it must be warm and sunny!“ by A Crafty Southern Chick,

“Well, it really depends what my favourite place for reading is. Ideally outside, in a silent environment, with a gentle breeze, on some semi-comfortable sitting device. But I like reading in my room, sitting on my bed or on the underground, too!” by Doroffee.

Now I guess you might be curious about my own answer too, so … my favorite place to read is my bed! Comfy, comfy, comfy!!

So, the time has arrived to announce the winner!

(who also prefers her bed as fave reading spot, yay)

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

To all of you who did not win this time, don't fret!
The next giveaway is practically around the corner as I'll be participating in the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Once Upon a Twilight. See ya then!

April 9, 2011

Pajama Musings - The curse of the empty mailbox

I really must stop looking at all those In My Mailbox posts on the blogs I follow. It's sheer torture and makes me at the same time drool with envy and cry out in frustration. Why's that, you wonder? Simple. My mailbox only surprises me with the usual suspects – adds and bills. Nothing that even remotely looks like a book. Unless of course you collect all those unsolicited adds and bind them into a book. While this would be a rather quirky alternative to throwing the whole lot into the paper bin downstairs it's also not exactly the answer to my longing.

Those of you who follow my Sunday feature Books Aplenty will already be aware of the fact that while I often add quite substantial amounts of books to my TBR stacks each week, pretty much all of them are eBooks. On the upside – they don't take away any physical space. On the downside – I do prefer real books. The ones that trees have to die for. While my eReader saves me from getting blind by reading on the computer screen and also makes it possible to read anywhere I choose, preferably comfortably stretched out on the couch, in the end it's just not the same experience as holding a book in your hands and flipping through its pages. In short – I go the eBook way out of necessity, but my true love are real books.

You know something? I'd love to be able to do at least a twice-yearly In My Mailbox post myself. No, that's not a typo. Let's see … this year I received three books in the mail. Yep, three. One I requested from BookSneeze, one I received from Goodreads and the last one I've won in a giveaway. This is honestly shocking.

And seeing how I declared 2011 to be my frugal year I'm not exactly buying books by the dozen myself. Though I currently wait for a few books to be published by the end of April and I have this lovely Amazon GC I'm going to use on them, yay! But I digress.

What gets to me is that I am actually playing the dreaded waiting game. You see, I've won several books in giveaways, plus BookSneeze has obviously sent my last request by snail mail and the snail either took a detour to Djibouti or ended up in Australia (you wouldn't believe how many things I received with a neat “Missent to Australia” stamp on in) where it decided to stay during the winter months. Alright, I am obviously, or maybe even most definitely, not the most patient person in the world.

Side note: Before you argue that I am relatively new to book blogging and books for review might eventually roll in, please keep in mind that I will (apart from BookSneeze) probably never receive ARCs for review as I neither live in the USA or in the UK. Seeing how I review only English books, not to mention those insane international postage rates, I totally understand that publishers won't send books my way, especially when there are enough great book bloggers in the USA or UK anyway. Plus, NetGalley is fantastic when it comes to getting my hands on eBook ARCs.
Besides, this little rant is not about receiving books from publishers, but a call to the heavens so that all the books I've won will finally arrive (here, not in Australia, mind you).


So, for now, all I wish for is that the books I am waiting for will one day soon sit in my mailbox and I can get out my camera to snap a picture of my loot which will then be the cornerstone of my very first In My Mailbox post. Just thinking about it makes me smile …

April 8, 2011

The Others - Gary Larson

Now how did Gary Larson end up in my Friday feature? Admittedly he's not exactly a writer in the usual sense of the word. But seeing how the fattest and heaviest tome I possess is his The Complete Far Side 1980-1994 – and yes, we're talking almost 20 pounds here, so not exactly something you might want to read on the bus, or in a relaxing bubble bath, for that matter – this cartoonist certainly deserves a place among all the other featured authors, or let's just call them imaginative and creative folks who work their magic with pen and paper.

I'm pretty sure that everyone will have seen one of The Far Side cartoons somewhere, and if you're unsure whether you have I recommend you to just google it and trust me, you will be in awe when you see just how many results you get.

What makes his cartoons so special? Well, it's the perfect combination of surrealistic humor and an anthropomorphic view of the world. The humor is often based on uncomfortable social situations, improbable events, logical fallacies, impending bizarre disasters, or the search for meaning in life. And let's not forget the frequent use of animals. Cows, anyone?

Obviously I would love to share some of Gary's cartoons here, but there's this ugly thing called copyright infringement. Even more so, there's this letter attributed to Gary Larson, about the spreading of his cartoon on the internet. And quite frankly, I absolutely agree.

April 7, 2011

Picture Garden - The Real Thing

"THE REAL THING"
No, they didn't take the color out of your Coke.
The only real thing, when it comes to drinking, is indeed water.
Seriously.

April 6, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Bookshelf Porn

I guess that title got your attention. Can't blame you. And of course you're only checking if it might have been a typo. Right? I thought so.

Bookshelf Porn is a site for book lovers. And please don't get any funny ideas now. This is a photo blog collection of all the best bookshelf photos from around the world for people who looove books, and books on shelves for that matter. Total awesomeness that will make you drool. I swear I'd kill for some of those libraries. And let's not forget all those gorgeous still lives with books.

These are just a few of many great pictures, and especially the first is one of my absolute favorites. But why don't you go and see for yourself ...

April 5, 2011

Quote Garden - The coffee mug

Reading in bed can be heaven, assuming you can get just the right amount of light on the page and aren't prone to spilling your coffee or cognac on the sheets.
Stephen King

Fueled by my inspiration, I ran across the room to steal the cup of coffee the bookshelf had taken prisoner. Lapping the black watery brew like a hyena, I tossed the empty cup aside. I then returned to the chair to continue my divine act of creation. Hot blood swished in my head as my mighty pen stole across the page.
Roman Payne

My strength returns to me with my cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms.
Dorothy Day

Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out is mute. Only chance can speak to us. We read its message much as gypsies read the images made by coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup.
Milan Kundera

If heaven is tolerant and writers are allowed (bunch of liars though they are), I wonder if they gather for coffee to ponder the prose they should have written instead.
Lori Lansens

April 4, 2011

Review - Paradise Lust (Brook Wilensky-Lanford)

Who hasn't heard about the ventures of mankind to find the place that went down in history as Garden of Eden. Paradise Lust: Searching For The Garden Of Eden presents a comprehensive overview of theories on where this elusive place might have been and how people have been literally lusting after the answer to this question.
So where was Eden? The North Pole? Ohio? China? Or Mesopotamia after all? Brook Wilensky-Lanford goes on a modern quest which is both informative and at the same time wonderfully entertaining, a fascinating journey that is at the same time smart and full of wit, a perfect combination of being well researched and told in a conversational style that will make this book fun for every reader interested in the subject.
With a focus on both famous, and sometimes not so famous, seekers that tried to unravel the mystery of the exact position of the Garden of Eden, the reader meets William Warren and Friedrich Delitzsch, among many others, and in the end Brook also comes to her very own conclusion on where Eden might have been and her answer might be surprising.
And maybe we should also look at it from this side – paradise isn't paradise until it's lost. What would happen if we truly found it? Would we be overjoyed? Or merely disappointed?
In short: A wonderful guide book on the age old quest to find the Garden of Eden!

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 Tao Of Travel (Paul Theroux)

I have a confession to make – the reason why I wanted to read The Tao Of Travel was simply because I love traveling and I love writing. To find these two themes in one book lured me in and admittedly I started reading with a slightly more critical eye than I usually do.
One of the best known travel writers of our time, Paul Theroux, takes the reader on a wonderful tour of the genre in this collection of not only his own, but of other writers' works, ranging from the well-known, such as Mark Twain, to the underappreciated, such as Samuel Johnson. While it's usually risky to compile such an anthology without making the result look like a wild and inconsistent mix, this one is an utter delight.
This great compilation of quotes and excerpts dips into themes like railway travels, travelers who never went alone, traveling as an ordeal, and even imaginary journeys, and it is seasoned with travel wisdoms by people like Freya Stark and Robert Louis Stevenson. Apart from being a wonderful book that is not only a philosophical guide, but also reminiscent of the early days of ethnological works, it literally made me want to grab a notebook and hop onto the next train to a far away land. I expected a lot when I first opened this book and I got more than I could have ever asked for.
In short: This work belongs on every travelers bookshelf. Delightful and profound!

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 - The 4 Stages of Writing

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com

April 3, 2011

Books Aplenty - A wonderful week in reading

This week read two books from NetGalley. I swear, this was one of my best weeks in reading in a long time. In other words, those were truly awesome books.

First came The Tao Of Travel (Paul Theroux) which I wanted to read simply due to the fact that I love to travel. I didn't even look at the premise of the book when I requested it. I went for it because of the title. I know what you might be thinking now. I am also the kind of gal who'll go after a book, because the cover is amazing. At least occasionally. Anyway. This is a great collection, to say the least, of quotes and excerpts of his own and other travel writer's works. He dips into themes like railway travels, travelers who never went alone, imaginary journeys, and much more and seasoned the whole book with travel wisdoms by people like Freya stark and Robert Louis Stevenson. Quite frankly, my review (which will follow next week) won't be able to do this fantastic book justice. Let's just say that when you love traveling and writing than this work belongs on your bookshelf. Delightful and profound. Loved it.

And my traveling heart kept on reading. Paradise Lust (Brook Wilensky-Lanford) was yet another book that lured me in with its title. It presents a comprehensive overview of theories on where the Garden of Eden might have been and how people have been literally lusting after an answer to the question. So where was it? The North Pole? Ohio? China? Or Mesopotamia after all? This has been a both informative and at the same time wonderfully entertaining read. And maybe we should also look at it from this side – paradise isn't paradise until it's lost. What would happen if we truly found it? Would we be overjoyed? Or merely disappointed?

This week I added three books to my infamous TBR stacks. First of all there's a free download of Starfarers (Vonda McIntyre) from Book View Cafe. Then I received Evil Genius (Patricia Rice) and Carnival Of Fear (JG Faherty) through LibraryThing. Plus, I won the eBook Storm Of Magick (L.A. Burton) through a giveaway at Splash Of Our Worlds.

And, because I've been a very good girl and read almost all my NetGalley books in the past few weeks (admittedly there are still two left waiting to be read, but good enough for me to allow myself another request) I requested two new ones and already received one of them, namely Consumerology (Philip Graves).

April 2, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness - April

Book Soulmates hosts this wonderful monthly event and this is the first time I participate!
If you love books, love to receive them, and love to give them - this might be just the thing for you too!

Rules
• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.
• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)
• Create a wish list and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month. {Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}
• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wish list and contact that blogger for their address.
• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes and share it with us :)

OPEN TO EVERYONE!
Let's keep our International bloggers in mind and in our hearts.
Remember, there's always the Book Depository and they offer FREE shipping!

My own wishlist can be found at the Book Depository.

Pajama Musings - Realizations

I just realized one thing. No, make that two.

It's amazing how far I've come with my 2011 Reading Challenge even though only three months have passed. I read 36 books which is absolutely awesome. Sure, I've always been an avid reader, but this challenge made me read even more. What surprised me though is that I managed to read that many books in such a short period of time. If I keep up the current speed I will be done with my 100 books by September. Or maybe not.

Secondly I realized that with all the books I'm reading I have totally and completely neglected those ever growing stacks of magazines. Granted, I was smart enough to cancel several subscriptions late last year – both due to lack of time and my frugality vows for this year – but with only two magazines rolling in each month I still managed to have them lying around untouched. Shame on me.

And while I was marveling over those neatly stacked magazines, thinking about maybe writing my name into the dust that settled on them over the last couple of weeks I once again was hit with two realizations.

I really need to read those magazines. It'd not only be a waste if I didn't, I also really like them. It sure won't hurt if I catch up a little with lifestyle and scientific matters. Preferably before they both are old news. So next week will be dedicated to those magazines. Period.

And apart from that another quite interesting thought hit me. We all know that there are lots of book bloggers out there. Is there such a thing as a magazine blogger too? Not to say I want to branch out in that direction, but it's an interesting question nonetheless.

Well, I've got to remove some dust layers and start reading ...

April 1, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge January - March

Here's a run down of how far I got with my 2011 Reading Challenge from January through March:

Total Books Read: 36

Fiction: 25
Non-fiction: 11

Physical Books: 20
eBooks: 16

Female Authors: 26
Male Authors: 10

For Review: 11

January
1. Sorting Out Billy (Jo Brand)
2. Confessions Of A Working Girl (Miss S)
3. The Frugalista Files (Natalie McNeal)
4. Let's Get Physical (Sherry Ashworth)
5. My Business is to Create (Eric G. Wilson)
6. Love Walked In (Marisa de los Santos)
7. The Defrosting Of Charlotte Small (Annabel Giles)
8. Princess Izzy and the E Street Shuffle (Beverly Bartlett)
9. Almost Perfect (Julie Ortolon)
10. Look The World In The Eye (Alice Peterson)
11. The Quotable Chesterton (Kevin Belmonte)
12. Instructions For Visitors (Helen Stevenson)

February
13. Bottled And Sold (Peter H. Gleick)
14. Ravenous (Dayna Macy)
15. Cheap (Ellen Ruppel Shell)
16. Shoptimism (Lee Eisenberg)
17. Naked Frame (Robert Burton Robinson)
18. Friends Of Choice (Linda Nelson)
19. Speak To Our Desires (B.W. Clough)
20. One Good Turn (Kate Atkinson)
21. Mr Commitment (Mike Gayle)
22. Dinner For Two (Mike Gayle)

March
23. Nice (Jen Sacks)
24. Murder At The Class Reunion (Triss Stein)
25. Following Jane (Shelley Singer)
26. In-Laws And Outlaws (Barbara Paul)
27. Play It Again, Spam (Tamar Myers)
28. God Soul Mind Brain (Michael S.A. Graziano)
29. A Girl's Guide To Homelessness (Brianna Karp)
30. Invasion (Jon S. Lewis)
31. Outside In (Maria V. Snyder)
32. Matchmakers 2.0 (Debora Geary)
33. Coyote Ugly (Pati Nagle)
34. Northlight (Deborah Wheeler)
35. The Tao Of Travel (Paul Theroux)
36. Paradise Lust (Brook Wilensky-Lanford)