June 29, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - The Book Seer

You know what it's like. You just finished a book and are trying to make the difficult decision what to read next. Overwhelmed by huge TBR piles you have no idea where to start. Maybe you pick something you should have read for review ten months ago. Or you choose a sequel in case you just finished a book in a series. Maybe you close your eyes and grab just any book from the tumbling stacks. We all have our methods, but some days we just sit and stare and can't make up our minds.

Fear not, fellow readers! There is help for us.


The Book Seer is a funny site where you can feed a wise old man with the book you just read and he will give you some recommendations. So, let's see ... I just finished The Third (Abed Keogh) which, as I may add, I really loved, no matter whether LibraryThing only thinks I'll probably like it (with a very low prediction confidence at any rate).

But back to my recommendations. No surprise to see that I should read another book by the author. But wait, there's more! Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins) is the second suggestion and wouldn't you know it ... the book is lieing on my immediate TBR stack right next to my bed. Almost on top of the pile too. I'm officially impressed. Equally impressing is that The Book Seer didn't put the first book in the series at the top of the suggestions, almost as if he knew I already read that one, hmmm ...

These recommendations are based on Amazon statistics and while it says that LibraryThing currently isn't asked for suggestions I can only assume that this feature is either currently not working or will be implemented later on. Either way, while you do get rather obvious book recommendations it is kind of neat, and sometimes it's even helpful in case a suggestion points to a book we have almost forgotten we had on our TBR piles.

June 28, 2011

Quote Garden - Once upon a fairy tale

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.
Albert Einstein

Fairy tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water.
G.K. Chesterton

Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.
C.S. Lewis

Fairy tale does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat...giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy; Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.
J.R.R. Tolkien

The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.
W.H. Auden

June 27, 2011

A Writer's Life - Lazy Bum Club

I write and write and write blog posts, and yes, I do that sitting on my bum, but this isn't what the lazy in the blog post title is referring to. I'm a lazy bum when it comes to commenting on other people's blogs. There, I said it and admitted to a major crime in the blogging scene. Though I know I'm definitely not alone with this. There are more like me out there, hanging their heads in shame right now. Hey, feel free to join the "Lazy Bum Club". Not sure whether you qualify? Well, if you don't comment on this blog post you do.

The thing is that while I might not read every single blog post of every single blog I follow (who's got that much time on their hands anyway) I do read a lot of them and still only rarely comment. You should think that making time for reading and adding another minute or two for commenting wouldn't be such a big deal. You would think so, but (and there is always a but) I'm the kind of person who wants to leave more than just a "Great review!" or "Great interview!" comment and being the perfectionist that I am it takes me longer to think about what to write in a comment than reading the actual blog post.

Admittedly I've been know to go on commenting frenzies every now and then. A while ago a friend e-mailed me joking about someone commenting like crazy on her blog. Yep, that would have been me. You see, my comments are meant to motivate her on her daily blogging mission. And while I'm still a wee bit behind in doing so, I do take the time for it about once a week.
Curious abut the blog? Check out A Year of Blogging by my friend Amy.

Looking at it from the other side, comparing how many page views I get on blog posts and how many people actually comment, I am reassured that the "Lazy Bum Club" will be crowded in no time. I should branch out, now that I think about it. Maybe I can be the head of the European section and then there will be several international ones too. You may apply for these jobs in the comments, then again if you comment you also disqualify yourself, because obviously you're not a lazy bum by heart and other members might not respect you and call you a sham because of this.

Anyway, to avoid having to face all the duties that come along with being the leader of a club (even though it's a club that obviously encourages laziness) I've decided to comment more often. So if you find my name and a quirky comment under one of your blog posts come right back here and tell me (in a comment, that's the whole point) that you appreciate me stopping by and not only showing up as additional number on your page views but also that I left readable evidence for my visit.

Here's to writing writing writing ... I mean, commenting commenting commenting.

June 26, 2011

I need your opinions ...

I just put up a lil' survey at the top of the right column of my blog. Your quick vote would be very much appreciated!

More about the hot topic of book pricing at TBD will follow in a blog post that will go online later next week!

In My Mailbox (6)

I honestly thought I'd drag home more books from the flea market we had on Saturday, but it was disappointingly small and the variety of books offered left quite a bit to desired. Still, it wouldn't be me if I hadn't found a few books, sooo ...

As I've mentioned some time ago I wanted to give Stephen King a try again. I haven't been too fond of what I read by him as a teenager, but years, or shall I say decades, have passed and I found one of his books so I picked it up. Then I stumbled over a number of books by J.D. Robb and while I really didn't like the one Eve Dallas novel I once read all that much (I only found out later that it was one of her weaker books, with three novellas, and not one of the full fledged novels) I thought that with giving Stephen a second chance I could do the same for J.D. too.

All the books I bought are the German editions, thus I only give the English titles so you won't have to play the guessing game.

Nightmares And Dreamscapes (Stephen King); Immortal In Death, Judgement In Death, Witness In Death and Betrayal In Death (J.D. Robb).

Oh and I got all the books for just 50 cent each, yay!

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

Books Aplenty - Lobsters and the Garden of Eden

Somehow the number of books I manage to read during a week seems to dwindle. At least it seems to be when I look back on the two books I read. Only two. And small ones at that. Anyway.

If you don't know it yet, let it now be said that I'm not exactly a great cook. Or maybe I would be if only I had the patience to face cooking. Now that we've established that I'm a lazy bumm when it comes to working in the kitchen, it might come as a bit of a surprise that I read Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them (Bruce Weinstein) which features 101 myths about food and cooking. You could say this is the first step for me to actually do some more elaborate cooking than, say, pasta. Or maybe not. Bottom line is that I not only learned quite a few things here, I also found myself laughing out loud all the time, because the book is so hilariously written.

The next book was certainly on a more intellectual and serious note and felt kind of dry after all the laughs the previous book provided me with. Did Adam And Eve Really Exist? (C. John Collins) was definitely an interesting read in which the author encourages critical thinking and puts an emphasis on the importance of Adam and Eve as a "real historical couple", consequently boosting the believers faith in the Bible. I found it to be a fascinating read (from my atheistic perspective), though admittedly the book dragged and I found my thoughts drifting away more than once (thus I had to re-read passages).

And now, my book loot!

You know how hard it is to resist free downloads, right?
Carina Press led me in temptation. Quite successfully, as I might add. Offering one free eNovella each day I got my hands on the following - The Debutante's Dilemma (Elyse Mady), Demon's Fall (Karalynn Lee), The Twisted Tale Of Stormy Gale (Christine Bell), Blue Galaxy (Diane Dooley) and Friendly Fire (Megan Heart).

After the latest Simon & Schuster Galley Grab newsletter rolled in last week I took my time and finally made my pick - Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them (Bruce Weinstein) and The Second Messiah (Glenn Meade).

From LibraryThing I received Who Got Liz Gardner and Discovering Arugula (Elizabeth Allen).

And the week's been rounded off with winning Supernova (C.L. Parker) on Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me.

We have a whole lotta winners ...

First of all let me just say, I never had two big giveaways running basically at the same time. You might remember my comment about adding a third winner to the 200 Followers Giveaway in case I should make it to 300 followers by the end of the week. And what do ya know - I already hit the 300 mark in the evening of June 21st. But that's not where the story ends, because my GFC widget greeted me with a total of 403 followers this morning. I doubled my followers in only a few days! Adding so many new followers in roughly a week is pretty amazing. I didn't really expect to gain that many, in fact, I thought that with a bit of luck I might just make it to 300, and now look at that!!! Granted, now I will probably have to eat cooked potatoes for the next two weeks with so many winners of both giveaways (just joking - I do have a budget for my giveaways after all), but to get into bikini-shape that's actually not such a bad idea after all. Bottom line *ahem* is that it certainly warms my heart to see my readership grow.

So I'd like to welcome you all to The Book Garden and hope to see you again here often. Of course I am at the same time aware that the number of followers might eventually drop a little too ... after all we are all guilty of sometimes following and unfollowing just because of giveaways, right?

*distant sound of crickets*

Anyway, I hope that many of you will like, maybe even love, my blog and are here to stay for good. But maybe I should just stop babbling, because you will all want to know whether your name made it on the winner's list. On second thought, there are probably only one or two people actually reading these lines. So whoever is reading this, please know that I really do appreciate how you're not just jumping right down to the names of the lucky ones. Then again, maybe you already did and are only reading the rest of this post now. Hmmm ...

And I'm still not cutting this short. Ha. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading all your answers to the mandatory questions, especially those of the blog hop. While I am impartial when it comes to paperbacks and hardcovers (love the look of the latter, but prefer the cost of the former), I was pretty speechless to read that some people's TBR piles only consist of books in the single digits (hard to believe, actually) while a selected few have literally thousands of books waiting to be read (not naming names, you know who you are). My own TBR pile, and it's only fair I should mention this, is around 350 books, both physical books and eBooks. I doubt I'll ever manage to get down to just, say, 15 books. Breaking the 1.000 barrier seems a lot more likely to me!

And now, without further ado ... I present to you the winners!

Let's start with the 200 Followers Giveaway which, thanks to lots and lots of new followers, has been magically transformed into a 400 Followers Giveaway and while I initially wanted to add a third winner if I reach 300, I now added yet one more winner which means that there are four lucky winners of Amazon Giftcards!

Lindsey Hutchinson @ United by Books
Miss Lauren @ Ravishing Reads
Jennie @ My Cute Bookshelf
BookMarc Blogpants @ BookMarc Blogpants

BTW it's nice to see a guy among the winners. And the fact that they're all fellow book bloggers? Let's just say there would have been a non book blogging winner too, but I had to redraw as that person did not follow my blog as required. Bummer.

Then we have yet three more winners from the Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop who will be able to choose a book from The Book Depository!


And once again a whole lot of book bloggers who win. One of these days I need to do a giveaway for "normal" folks only. What do you think?

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

Did not win? Don't fret!
The next giveaway will be the BlogFest 2011 in July, so see ya then!

June 25, 2011

Pajama Musings - Early in the morning

I really can't think of many reasons for getting up early on a Saturday. Yet going to a flea market and possibly getting my hands on dozens of great books is one of them. To cut a long story short, it wasn't worth hauling my butt out of bed. Not really.

Maybe I'm spoilt, alright. Last year there was a huge flea market from a local church at the same venue and, like I said, it was huge. I went there twice as I couldn't possibly have carried all the books I found in one go. Add the fact that they actually had to restock as they had more books than shelf space. Anyway. I kind of thought that it'd be pretty much the same thing today. The place is vast after all and why should there be much of a difference? Well, in the end there was quite a bit of a difference. Not only did they only use half the space available, they also had mostly clothes on offer. Stinking, smelly, old kind of clothes. And they had most on clothes racks in front of the open doors to the building. Outside, in the fresh air, and let it be said that it was windy too. Still, it smelled of those clothes. Or shall I say it reeked, because that is exactlly what it did. It is beyond me how anyone would want to buy one of those garments, but there were quite a few people looking around. Obviously they aren't as olfactorily challenged as yours truly. But I digress.

In the last corner, right beside a table with lots of old ladies and their delicious cakes, were the books. I swear, I hesitated for more than just a second and wondered if it would even be worth the effort to walk in to check out the two dozen or so boxes filled with books. Then I said to myself, you got up early just for this, so do it. What shall I say ... mostly old, really old books and an awful lot of romance novels. Alright. I rummaged around a little, to show some interest, because I could feel the old ladies watching my every step. To get out of their view I hunkered down behind a table to inspect a box on the floor. And would you believe it, there were a few books that caught my attention after all. At least they would have if I were someone who gives an author second chances. A little voice whispered in my ear that now that I got up early and walked here and made the effort to look for books I could just as well buy some, it's for a good cause after all. I didn't argue with myself, thinking about the author who will be glad to hear that I am not only giving her a second chance but actually a second chance by four, seeing how I not only took one but all four books I found (am I still making sense, I don't think I do, but I can blame it on sleep deprivation). Then I moved along. Eventually I found another book, a paperback that smelled like it spent most of its life in some cellar, but then I reminded myself I got up early ... you get the idea. I carried my loot to the sweet old ladies and their cakes and in one swift move they pointed in unison to another lady, old but cake-less, who was responsible for paying. Looking back now I have to admit, it was kind of creepy. The caky-lady brigade. But I digress again.

Curious about what I brought home? Check out tomorrow's IMM post!

Review - Dreams Unleashed (Linda Hawley)

Description
It’s the future year of 2015, where technology governs life. No one on the globe is free from being tracked through government RFID. The worldwide underground organization, GOG, is the one group equipped to fight against citizens’ loss of privacy. Ann Torgeson is a technical writer working for a tidal energy company—living a seemingly normal life in the Pacific Northwest—when her vivid dreams turn real. Is her training as a paranormal CIA agent when she was nineteen years old now altering the doorway between her subconscious and reality? When Ann starts to dig into her past, her present begins to unravel, leading the reader through events that twist and turn everything upside down. Question everything you know is essential in this dystopian trilogy.

Available at Smashwords and Amazon

Review
An intriguing premise, the dystopian genre, and my love for narratives in which the author is jumping back and forth in time to tell the story, always manage to lure me in quite successfully. This was also the case with Dreams Unleashed by Linda Hawley.
The story revolves around Ann Torgeson, a technical writer, with a past of working for a secret project with the CIA and it's this past that is suddenly catching up with her through disturbing and real-to-life dreams.
This first part of The Prophecies Trilogy proves to be much more than yet another dystopian book, throwing in just the right amount of science fiction and the paranormal genre as well as taking an up-close look at current political issues, making the whole story feel scarily real. Add a well developed cast and Linda's clear and descriptive writing style which make for a fluent and thrilling read.
Yet some parts of the book were slower than others as the story itself is gradually unraveling and it takes the first half of the book before you'll be able to tie up the threads and make connections of what's happening. And admittedly the cliffhanger, which literally arrives with a bang, came too soon for me. I realize that this is only the first part of a trilogy, but I'm not scared of heavy tomes and would have loved to just continue reading them as a whole.
In short: A fascinating dystopian novel by a promising new author!

3/5 stars

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

June 24, 2011

The Others - Charlaine Harris

Great story? Check.
Deep characters? Check.
Engaging and suspenseful? Douple check.
Author? Charlaine Harris

It wasn't a vampire that made me enjoy one of her novels so much. In fact, I only ever realized that she's the one responsible for one of the best known vampire book series out there, after finishing Shakespeare's Champion which was part of the bookish loot I bought on Ebay last year. I loved the book so much that I simply had to check out other books by her.

Imagine my surprise when it was only then that I found out that she's the creative brain behind the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Had I heard about those before? Yes. Had I heard about the True Blood TV series before? Yes, again. But I never read any of the books or watched one of the episodes, because *gasp* I'm really not that into vampires. There. I said it.

Apart from my obvious susprise I was also delighted to find the Lily Bard Omnibus, featuring all five novels set in the town of Shakespeare. The tome already sits on top of one of many TBR stacks in my apartment, and I guess it's safe to say it won't get the chance to collect much dust as I intend to read it pretty soon.

Charlaine actually started out with writing mysteries. The Aurora Teagarden books came first, later the Lily Bard books. And then, finally, she created the Southern Vampire series aka Sookie Stackhouse novels which, and that surprised me yet again, are also mysteries. Obviously there is a difference between books that feature vampires and these are obviously not of the innocent-girl-meets-pale-but-glittering-boy-in-her-new-school kind ... if you catch my drift. So far I'm not sure whether I will ever sink my teeth into a Sookie Stackhouse novel, but I already put the Aurora Teagarden books on my wishlist. I mean, come on, a librarian solving crimes is pretty cool.

All in all I'm pretty sure I'm one of those rare creatures who took awfully long to discover this great author. But better later then never, right?

June 23, 2011

Picture Garden - Ducky

"DUCKY"
The perfect location on a hot day ... near the water's edge!

June 22, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Emma Adaptations

Who doesn't know Jane Austen?
Or even more so, who doesn't know Elizabeth Bennett?
Well, it's about time to make room for another Jane Austen heroine - Emma.

Emma Adaptations is dedicated to film, television, and other adaptations of Jane Austen's book. Accordingly you will find plenty of informations on everything Emma-related, from film music to costumes, from actors straight to some rather surprising tidbits. Did you know that the movie Clueless with Alicia Silverstone is a modern conceptualization of Emma? Or that Ruby In Paradise, starring Ashley Judd, is supposedly based on Northanger Abbey? And that the 1990 movie Metropolitan was allegedly inspired by Mansfield Park?

Either way, this is an interesting site for all those Austen fans out there. And even if you, like yours truely, are more of the movie-adaptations-watching kind, you might at least like the fun Austen Heroines Quiz on the site.

I am Catherine Morland!


You are Catherine Morland of Northanger Abbey! You love a good Gothic romance - so much, in fact, that you'll fool yourself into thinking you're living one! You are imaginative and naive, which is at once endearing and perplexing. Perhaps your heart is TOO pure...but it is adventurous. After all, you love a trip to Bath or a stay at an ancient Abbey.

June 21, 2011

Quote Garden - The Sweater

Girls, I know you will understand this, and feel the intrinsic, incredible emotion. You have just pulled over your head the worn, warm sweater belonging to a boy. Now you haven't had a passionate kissing session or anything, but you got to go on a camping trip with him and eight other people from school, and you practically slept together, your sleeping bag right next to his, and you woke in the night to watch him as he slept, but you couldn't see anything 'cause it was dark, so you just lay there and listened to his breathing, and wondered if your heart might burst. The sweater has that slightly goat-like smell which all teenage boys possess, and that smell will lovingly transfer to all your other clothes. If you get to keep it for a few days, you can sleep with it, but don't let your mom see because she'll say, 'What is that filthy thing, and who does it belong to besides the trashman?' So you have to keep it under the covers, with you. You can kind of lie it beside you, or wrap it around your waist, or touch it on your legs or whatever, but that's your business. Now if the sweater has, like, reindeer on it, or is a funny colour like yellow – I'm sorry you can't get away with a sweater like that. Look for brown or grey or blue. Anything other than that and you know you're dealing with someone who's different. And different is not what you're looking for. You're looking for those teenage alpine ski chiselled features, and that sort of blank look which passes for deep thought or at least the notion that someone's home. You're looking for the boy of your dreams who is the same boy in the dreams of all of your friends. Now the sweater isn't going fit you of course, so you have to kind roll up the sleeves in a jaunty way that says, 'This is the sweater belonging to a boy, and the boy is a genuine hunk, a hunka burning love', and this is not just some hand-me-down from your brother or your father. Monday, wear the sweater to school. Be calm, look cute. Don't tell him the dream you had about the place the two of you would share when you get older, just be yourself. The best, cutest, quietest version of yourself. Definitely wear lip gloss. He looks at you, and he looks away, and then he walks away, and the smell of the sweater hits you again, suddenly like ape-scent gloriola. And you get a note passed to you by a girl in history that says he needs his sweater back, he forgot that you put it on in the tent on Saturday and he's been looking for it. And you don't have to die of humiliation, you know. You are a strong person and this is a learning experience. You can still hold your head up high as you run from the classroom, tearing the stinking sweater from your body. You look at that sweater, carefully, and realize that love made you temporarily blind. You've got a secret now, honey, and though you would never sink as low as him, you could blab it all over the school if you wanted: The label in that sweater said 100% acrylic.

© Meryn Cadell

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the

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'm giving away books of the winner's choice from The Book Depository!
And to make things even more exciting, and because I'm in a really generous mood, there will be three winners, yes three, who may each choose a book worth up to $10,00.
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

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:
How big is your TBR pile?
(be honest, I promise I won't judge you)

Rules
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated. Of course, if you do follow you may also enter my current 200 Followers Giveaway which will also have three winners in case I should crack the 300 followers mark by the end of the week ... no pressure, just sayin'.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
Three winners will be picked through random.org on June 25st 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.

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

June 20, 2011

A Writer's Life - The cook-book scenario

I'm contemplating writing ...

... a cook-book.

Ha. Just joking. I mean come on, those who know me will be on the floor laughing their butts of reading this. And the rest of you, rest assured that I may be a gal of many talents, but my legendary laziness when it comes to putting the kitchen to good use speaks against even considering writing a cook-book.

On a more serious note, there is nothing wrong with crossing the border of your own writing world to explore new galaxies. Captain-Kirk-style. To lead your pen where no other pen has ever been before. You get the idea.

So, if you asked me what kind of unusual (unusual as in "not based in the realms of science fiction or thriller") ideas ever invaded my writer's mind, here's the run-down of crazy ideas I had over the years.

- A travel memoir
I love traveling, I love writing, I love photography! So maybe this isn't the weirdest idea I ever had, in fact, I think this is f§$%ing brilliant!

- An inspirational gift book
Uhm, this one is certainly different, at least from my perspective, and if you promise you won't tell, I'll let you in one a lil' secret ... this is the "secret project" I've been rambling on about in the past months!

- A children's book
Me, of all people, not the fondest of those little annoying brats, coming up with such an idea *shrugs* but oddly enough I once even started on one, had even a friend lined up for doing the illustrations. I guess the real problem was that I started writing after several people asked me whether I ever thought about a book for kids, so it was more their idea than mine, and not all too surprisingly, it's currently on hiatus, and frankly, it will probably stay in the bottom drawer until the end of times.

- A non fiction book
Seeing how I mainly review non fiction on my blog, this might not appear that far fetched. Now, let's keep in mind that non fiction offers many many possibilities, and thus far, I might be toying with an idea, but putting it on paper, well, we'll see ...

Apparently I'm not only an eclectic reader, I'm also a bit of an eclectiv writer. If only in my mind.

June 19, 2011

Books Aplenty - The No-IMM week

After having read like crazy the past two weeks I pulled the brake and only enjoyed three books this week, two of which I devored this weekend. I've just been too busy for reading more and obviously I had to sit down to write a couple of reviews too. Oddly enough they don't write themselves.

I kicked it off with Dreams Unleashed (Linda Hawley) a suspenseful paranormal novel set in the near future. As you know I love it when an author is going back and forth in time in their narration. Even though it took me a while to get into the slowly unraveling connections of past and present, I really enjoyed this debut novel. More about my thoughts on the book in my very first *woot* author review next week.

Then I said to myself, "Self, you have done well with all the books you read for review, now it's time to read something from your personal TBR stacks!" Who am I to argue with myself?
So I made myself comfortable with books of two of my fav authors. First I had to buy their latest paperbacks, just to have them lying around on my TBR stacks for weeks. Shame on me.

Friday night I started with Ice Cold (Tess Gerritsen) which is book number eight in the Rizzoli & Isles series. I wasn't all too happy with the last book in the series, which was an ok read, but nothing more, so this one certainly made up for it. Once again a fast-paced page turner, this time focusing mainly on Maura Isles. Add some interesting turns in the storyline, a conclusion to a thread that leads through all the previous books. Don't want to give anything away for those who haven't read it though. Oh, and last but not least, why on earth do they have to ruin the cover with a little add for the TV series? Isn't anybody watching the show so they have to resort to putting a pic on the cover? I guess so *sigh*.

After finishing Tess' book in almost one sitting and seeing how lousy the weather was yesterday I picked up Any Man Of Mine (Rachel Gibson) next. Admittedly I'm not all too fond of the Hockey series, but Rachel is one of my go-to authors when it comes to chick-lit, so I inevitably will buy all her books. Same ingredients as alway, this time round with a not all too likable male main character, and obviously, after the usual highs and lows, they get together again. Oh well, not the best work in comparison to other books of hers, but I soaked up this brain candy like a chocolate bar after three weeks of dieting nonetheless.

What rolled in this week?

Not all too surprisingly LibraryThing supplied me with lots of reading material - Pale Queen's Courtyard (Marcin Wrona), Nowhere To Go (Iain Rowan), Anathema (K.A. Tucker), Counting From Zero (Alan B. Johnston), Ghosts Of Coronado Bay (JG Faherty) and Chop Suey (Ty Hutchinson).

And wouldn't you know it ... the moment Christianbook puts up new eBooks for free I always find plenty I'd like to read - Apocalpyse Dawn (Mel Odom), The Swan House (Elizabeth Musser), This Fine Life (Eva Marie Everson) and The Affectionate Adversary (Catherine Palmer).

There won't be an IMM post this week *sob* but admittedly I had a good run these past weeks, so that's ok.

June 18, 2011

Pajama Musings - From screen to print

There's a whole lot of talk about books that make it to the big screen, but what about the other way round?

I've always been a huge Star Trek fan and one day I saw a TNG book in a bargain bin at a book shop. Let's just say it wasn't the last Star Trek related book I bought in the years to come. While I stopped buying those books some odd years ago, quite a number of them have accumulated and that wouldn't have been the case if they had been bad. Sure, there were those that were just ok, but I also had my favorites among them, especially novels by Peter David. Maybe it's due to how (most of) the authors knew the characters really well and presented good storylines, that I loved those books. No copying of episodes or movies, but new and fresh ideas set in the known Star Trek universe. It worked for me as it surly works for lots of other Trekkies out there. Oddly enough though I was never too happy with books that followed one of the Star Trek feature movies. I always preferred the movie in that case.

Star Trek novels weren't the only ones who sneaked onto my bookshelves though. I've been known to buy quite a few 90210 books in the 90ies, and even before that time I had to have books that came out in the wake of the 80ies sci-fi series V. Let's not forgot to mention all The X-Files books I bought, and even a book from Earth 2 made it onto my shelves as well. You could say that apart from that pesky teenage series mentioned above I always have been a huge Science Fiction fan. Movies and books alike. Anyway. Let's get back to my initial thought.

It's a rather strange phenomenon. Book to movie vs movie/series to book. I'm highly sceptical about the first as in my experience the book is almost always better, and I am quite fond of the latter because it lets me enjoy more of something I already liked on the screen. Maybe the bottom line is that when books are being adapted for the big screen you will inevitably compare the two, but in my case it's been the same setting yet different stories being told that made it enjoyable.

Ever read books based on a series you love to watch? If so, which series was it and did you like the books or were they disappointing? Let me know.

June 17, 2011

The Others - Jessica Fletcher

Ah, the quiet life in good old Cabot Cove, Maine. Perfect for bringing all those suspenseful novels to paper. Unfortunatelly for Jessica Fletcher, also known as J.B. Fletcher, this little town supplies her not only with tranquility but also with lots of murderous incidents that should rather be found in one of her books and not in her neighborhood. Being a best-selling author of mystery novels as well as an amateur detective she juggles both quite successfully. It only goes to show that all those research on crimes and plotting in her books pays off in real life too.

Murder She Wrote was one of the series I loved to watch back in the 80ies. Maybe not as religiously as I watched other things on TV, but I saw most episodes. As much as I love Castle today, I always had a thing for writers having adventurous lives and not being personifications of a recluse in their solitary work. And seeing how many dead bodies Jessica has tripped over in her career, well, it almost makes me want to get out my magnifying glass and trench coat, head over to the local police station and ask whether they need some advice from a gal who knows how to plot. On second thought, this might seem suspicious in itself, so maybe I just keep up the writerly (does that word even exist?) hermit life after all.

You could almost get the impression that most murders on the East Coast happen in Maine. Oddly enough I didn't witness any killers lurking when I visited New England several years ago. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough. Maybe it's the talent to be at the right place at the wrong time that makes you the perfect detective, who knows? Another thing I have in common with Jessica (I refer to the writing part, not the part where she ends up finding dead bodies wherever she goes) is that we both love to travel. Too bad that murder does not happen in rural New England alone, so obviously she happens to stumble into crime scences regularily when she's abroad too.

One of the things I really loved about the series is the old typewriter Jessica's always working on. Next to it, a huge stack of paper that always made me fear that an open window would lead to hundreds of pages flying through the room. I honestly don't remember whether that ever happend in one of the episodes though. And in the later episodes she upgrades to a, at the time popular, computer with Windows 3.1 ... ah, nostalgia ... my first computer worked on Windows 3.1 too. My oh my, does that make me feel old now or what?

Time for a fun fact! About 40 of her crime novels are being mentioned throughout the series. Mos of them had rather, uhm, fancy titles, such as The Corpse Danced At Midnight or The Mystery Of The Mutilated Minion.

June 16, 2011

Review - Plastic (Susan Freinkel)

Have you ever tried to go a day without touching anything that's made out of plastic? Susan Freinkel wanted to do just that, but was soon confronted with the fact that there is no way she could avoid plastic in everyday life. From your toothbrush to the dashboard of your car, from the pen you're holding to shrinkwrapped lettuce at the supermarket. Plastic is everywhere.
Plastic: A Toxic Love Story presents not only the history of plastic, but also the economic and environmental impact this invention has on our lives. Focusing on eight familiar plastic objects such as a comb, IV-bag, soda bottle and credit-card, Freinkel tells the stories behind each of them, from production to the sales floor straight to the consumer, from the wonders they do and the harm they can bring.
Engagingly written and highly informative this book presents a balanced overview on our dependency on plastic. It is not only convenient, but quite often indispensable, freeing us from the limits natural materials impose. Though far too often this freedom comes at a cost. Especially the chapter about the IV-bags has been an eye-opener for me - they save lives while at the same time harming through toxics that keep the bag soft. The book does not offer easy solutions other then the necessity to rethink our relationship with the material world, but maybe that's the first and most important step after all.
In short: A fascinating journey through our plasticized lives!

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 - Saving Savvy (Kelly Hancock)

Far too often grocery shopping ends up with full bags and an empty wallet. But fear not, Kelly Hancock gives the weary shopper lots of practical advice on how to save some serious money in her book Saving Savvy.
Mainly focusing on the monetary miracles you can achieve through using coupons, you will be guided through the importance of organizing and planning not only your shopping trip, but even more so your storage space and freezer, and even your meals. No matter whether you just want to waste less, have more to share with others, or pay your debts, this book gives you the basic knowledge to save big. And to get the best individual results you simply choose the strategies that work best for you. I'd say that everyone can learn a thing or two about saving in this book, but you should be aware that it is mostly intended to reach US readers as many other countries unfortunately have not jumped on the coupon bandwagon yet.
What came as a bit of a surprise was the religious aspect of the book. If you feel uncomfortable about it, you might want to skip those parts and focus on the saving advice alone. What you should definitely not skip is a visit to Kelly's website faithfulprovisions.com for some up-to-the-minute deals and helpful resources.
In short: A comprehensible Coupon 101 that will teach amateur shoppers quite a bit, but will not hold too many surprises for the seasoned pro!

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.”

200 Followers Giveaway

Take a wild guess what happened overnight. Yup, my blog has reached 200 followers while I was still fast asleep. And ya all know what this translates to, right?

It's time for a giveaway!!

And because it's quite a milestone I'm going to make it real special too - special as in AMAZON GIFTCARD and TWO WINNERS!!

On second thought, seeing how this giveaway will pretty much run alongside to next week's Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop I'm going to be daring and throw in a third winner in case I should reach 300 followers by the end of next week ... you never know, do you?

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:
Do you prefer paperbacks or hardcover books?

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 June 16th through June 25th - two winners will be picked through random.org on June 26th 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 - Once Upon A Time

"ONCE UPON A TIME"
Once upon a time the youngest son of a king became filled with the desire to go abroad and see the world. He got his father’s permission to depart, kissed his parents good-bye, mounted his black horse, and galloped away down the high road. Soon the gray towers of the old castle in which he was born hid themselves behind him ...
The Queen Of Lantern Land

June 15, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

Earlier this year I introduced you to BookSneeze and NetGalley as great sources to receive books of choice for review. Especially when you're not living in the US it's hard to get your hands on ARCs, so I'm always on the look-out for publishers and/or websites who provide review copies for international book bloggers. And I recently found one, namely the Simon & Schuster Galley Grab program.

A bit differently designed, compared to sites like NetGalley, here you don't get to choose your galley straight away. First of all you need to sign up and it takes up to two days to get approved. In my case I already got the confirmation the very next day. Then I had to wait a little. Simon & Schuster will send out monthly newsletters and those are the door to a bounty of eARCs. Don't let the whole "eGalleys are sent out by invitation only" thing confuse you. This really refers to the newsletter and when your application got approved, receiving the newsletter is basically the mentioned "invitation". You will only have access to the books of your choice through this newsletter, so you better not delete it.

Important to know are two more things.
- Unlike NetGalley you don't get to read books for 55 days with the option to download the book again in case you didn't manage to read it in time. Here books will only be readable until the publication date of the book. This can be anywhere between a month or two. So you need to have a eye on that time frame to read galleys before they expire.
- After registering you'll probably excitedly go to the download page and click to get a download. What will happen is this: A random book will show up and start downloading just to tell you that it has, in fact, expired. Don't ask me why this happens, all I know is that with the newsletter things will work without a problem.

June 14, 2011

Review - First We Read, Then We Write (Robert D. Richardson)

Don't ask me why this book has escaped my attention for so long, seeing how much I love Ralph Waldo Emerson's work. While I already knew him as a wonderful poet, I admittedly haven't been all that familiar with his person and life.
In First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson On The Creative Process Robert D. Richardson presents a marvelous and engaging little manual digging deep into the central passion of Emerson's life, who was literally in love and addicted to books. Mainly focusing on the important interconnection of reading and writing, it also thematizes the need to reflect on nature for language, the recommendation of keeping a journal or earning the attention of the audience. The reader gains not only an understanding of what fueled Emerson's creative process, but will learn a lot for own literary endeavors. This sophisticated and wonderfully engrossing book is filled with practical hints and speaks to the poet in each of us.
I recommend reading this book along with Emerson's The Poet which is one of the most significant works on expressionism in literature. Best enjoyed on a quiet afternoon with no distractions around, this is the kind of book you will want to dip in more than just once and it will reward you with new and deeper insights every time.
In short: A delightful little book on my own two passions - reading and writing - this is definitely a must-read for every author!

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 - Sister Species (Lisa A. Kemmerer)

A feminist view on animal advocacy? I certainly haven't heard about such an approach before. All the more reason for me to pick up Sister Species: Women, Animals And Social Justice to satisfy my curiosity.
In her anthology Lisa A. Kemmerer introduces the reader at length to the topic of animal activism and its close connection to other forms of oppression such as sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. sharing a collection of essays focusing on animal ethics. These essays are as diverse as the women who wrote about their experiences, including cock fighting, factory farming, the bushmeat trade, as well as contemplating theology and animals, to mention but a few.
You don't have to be a feminist to understand this book and its message. Being vegetarian probably helps. Overall I think it's almost safe to say that a lot of people won't like this book, because it forces them to rethink their view of “the other”, in this case non-human animals, but it is important to understand that what we do for “us” (humans) should not be achieved at the cost of “others” (animals). Inconvenient truths? You bet. And if it weren't for women like those contributing to this book, the voices of those who can't fight for themselves would only be heard in slaughterhouses and experimental laboratories.
In short: This book will change your way of thinking about animals who don't happen to be human. Read it!

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.”

Quote Garden - Contemplating reviews

The artist doesn't have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don't have the time to read reviews.
William Faulkner

My congratulations to you, sir. Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
Samuel Johnson

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.
Kurt Vonnegut

I would like to spare the time and effort of hack reviewers and, generally, persons who move their lips when reading.
Vladimir Nabokov

I never read a book I must review; it prejudices you so.
Oscar Wilde

June 13, 2011

A Writer's Life - Ten inch nails

This might seem like a bit of a weird topic, but as writers will usually write on their computers these days (at least I do) I often marvel at how some people can type with long nails. And I mean, really looong finger nails. Personally I keep my nails short most of the time and I usually only remember to cut them when typing starts to get a bit annoying. After all I need to hold my hands and fingers a bit differently as compared to my short-nail-stance and truthfully, I prefer not to bend my hands in an awkward way so as to avoid using my nails to hit the keyboard. Luckily I never broke a nail while viciously attacking the keyboard during a full fledged writing frenzy as my nails are pretty strong. Yet even more importantly, I don't want to develop RSI (repetitive strain injury) because I'm forced to use the flat of my fingers instead of the tips. It's true. I'm not making this up. When you adapt the flat-finger position, you compromise the structure of your hand, which results in discomfort over a period of time. Some people don't seem to mind or experience it, but my fragile lil' hands do. Thus ... short nails. It also makes for faster typing, trust me.

Those of you who have long nails, how do you handle the typing efficiently?
Do you force your kids to type for you while you recite your latest ideas to them? Or do you simply put on three extra layers of nail polish to harden your nails so they will survive the ride over the keyboard? Maybe you practice the long-nail-typing in a workshop? There are workshops for so many strange things that can be learned, I wouldn't be surprised if there was one for just that too.

June 12, 2011

In My Mailbox (5)

That's a week to my liking. Books books and more books.

Remember the 10%-Off promotion at The Book Depository? I bet you do.
So, here's what I got ...

After having read the second part of the series I knew I needed to get my hands of the rest of the books and did so with The Lily Bard Mysteries Omnibus (Charlaine Harris) which is quite a tome, yikes!

Being a bit of a lover for cozy mysteries too, I splurged on a number of them - Shop Till You Drop and Murder With All The Trimmings (Elaine Viets), The Teaberry Strangler (Laura Childs), Holiday Grind (Cleo Coyle), If Books Could Kill (Kate Carlisle) and Bookmarked For Death (Lorna Barrett). Enough reading material for those frosty days behind the fireplace ... uhm ... more like, for those frosty days behind the AC.

Funny detail. For one reason or another on each of the two book-related mysteries there is a cat on the cover. Coincidence? Or maybe the cats are supposed to make the book appear more ... mysterious? Who knows.

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

Books Aplenty - Reading reading lots of reading

I don't think I've ever read that many books in one week. Granted, they weren't all that long, but what kept me going was certainly the fact they were all great reads. So, I read a lot and want to share a few thoughts on those books with you now.

Sister Species (Lisa Kemmerer) showcases a feminist look on animal advocacy and how the oppression of animals is linked to other forms of oppression, like sexism or racism. After seeing that the few reviews on this book are really awful I can only assume that those people didn't want to get the message. This book will make you think, but don't expect it to be an enjoyable or even gentle ride.

First We Read, Then We Write (Robert D. Richardson) is right up there with the fantastic book about William Blake that I reviewed earlier this year. This one focuses on Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of my favorite poets, and highlights the important connection between reading and writing. Read this book and Emerson's The Poet and you're going to be in heaven. If you're a writer, that is. Great for fans of his work too, of course.

Saving Savvy (Kelly Hancock) teaches you about smart spending decisions, planning and organizing. The religious focus was a bit unexpected, but other than that a good book for those who are clueless on how to seriously save money while grocery shopping. Another suitable title would have been "Coupons 101".

Plastic (Susan Freinkel) showed how much we are surrounded and dependant on plastic today. Try to go a day without touching anything that's made out of any type of plastic and you'll soon notice you're in trouble. An interesting journey through the history of various plastic items, from comb to chair, and soda bottle to credit card.

And I finally came around enjoying some books I have won over the course of the past few weeks.

The Long Weekend (Savita Kalhan) gripped me from page one and let my pulse race until the last page. Taking a ride home with a stranger was more than a bad idea and things soon turn out really bad for two boys. You can literally taste the fear in this captivating thriller. What a fabulous book! Not just for teens, really.

Just Ella (Margaret Peterson Haddix) showed what really happens ever after. And "happy" is not part of it. Taking off where the traditional fairy tale ends this was a fun book with am ending that does not include Prince Charming but ... real love of course!

Six Moon Summer (SM Reine) reminded me of those paranormal novels for teenagers which I devoured like crazy as a teen. Loved the vegetarian goes werewolf aspect. Overall a very enjoyable read!

And I fattened up my eReader (again) with these new books ...

With my NetGalley books seriously reduced I decided to splurge a little with requests. As you will noticed I even read two of the galleys straight away. Sometimes I'm fast. Then I'm not. Ahem.
This is what I got - Did Adam And Eve Really Exist? (C. John Collins), Saving Savvy (Kelly Hancock) and Plastic (Susan Freinkel).

And while we're at it I also got myself the next book for review from BookSneeze - The Skin Map (Stephen R. Lawhead).

A bunch of LibraryThing books rolled in as well - Imperial Hostage (Phil Cantrill), Daphne And The Silver Ash (Joss Llewelyn) and Crossroads Road (Jeff Kay).

What everyone else has been downloading last week I finally got around doing this week. In other words I got a free download of Summer's Crossing (Julie Kagawa). I haven't read any of the Iron Fey books (yet), so I'm really curious about this novella.

Sourcebooks offered a number of free downloads as well and I added these to my TBR stacks - The Allegra Biscotti Collection (Olivia Bennett), Dating Mr. December (Phillipa Ashley), The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook (Matt Dunn), Outcast (Cheryl Brooks) and Seduced By The Wolf (Terry Spear).

As far as giveaways go, I was also quite lucky and won Purpose (Kristie Cook) on Me and Reading.

And now get ready for an epic IMM post soon!
Epic as in "I've been doing a lil' shopping" ...

June 11, 2011

Pajama Musings - Book abuse

Call me funny, but I seriously think that there should be an organization like People for the Ethical Treatment of Books. I don't mean to sound like I'm some kind of bookish extremist who will run around screaming "I'd rather go naked than abuse a book!", but the bottom line is that I could definitely scream when I see what some people do to books. Any books. Their own. Those from the library. Or even the ones in bookstores.

Of course it's none of my business what you do to the books in your possession, but still it is beyond me how some folks manage to make books look like they've been dragged through half the continent (and back), I wonder if they've got respect for the printed word at all.

Breaking the spine?
Oh dear me. The only thing that should have to do with "breaking" and "books" should be "breaking out in a sweat" when you drag your book loot home from the store. I realize not everyone will be a careful reader such as myself (and to answer your question, nooo I'm not squinting at pages so as not to unnecessarily crease the spine) where you often don't even notice a book has been read at all, because it looks like new and only the thicker tomes will have a barely noticeable crease on the spine. And then there are those who will pick up a virginal book and they won't just open it up, they will bend it so the front and back cover meet and ... oh what a gruesome thought ... next topic, please.


Dog ears?
Bookmark is all I'm saying. Why dog-ear your book? Bookmarks are practical and cute. And if you don't have one, get one. Or use just any piece of paper. Take a piece from your loo roll if you must. Remember - dog ears are the things flapping on a dog that comes running.


Stains?
Alright, I admit, when I was a kid I'd often eat chocolate while reading a book and left the odd chocolaty fingerprint. But some people use books as coasters it seems. This is not what books are for. Need a coaster? Buy a coaster. Or revert to that loo roll again.


Making notes?
Argh!!! Why, I'm asking you? Why???
This is ok for books you need to study, alright. But for any other books, please resort to making mental notes or use post-its, just don't go and have your pen and highlighter have a field day in an ordinary novel. No one does that. Except for some very odd specimens of the human species.


Leaving it out in the rain?
Don't ask me why or how this happens, but I've seen the occasional book at fleamarkets that looked like they've been completely soaked in water and are now sporting wavy pages. On second thought, maybe you should only read light paperbacks when in the tub and not the heaviest tomes available. Or better yet, don't read in the bath at all.


Treat your books with respect.
Read them, love them, but don't abuse them!

June 10, 2011

The Others - Stephen King

When I once told a friend of mine that Dean Koontz would be one of my favourite authors, she told me I should try out books by Stephen King too. This might sound like a sensible and understandable suggestion, but somehow it's not. I wouldn't go so far as to say that you can only like one of these authors and not the other, but in my case it is true. While I might prefer King's movie adaptations over those of Koontz' novels, I never quite got into reading books as religiously as I do in the case of the latter. So, I have read a few of King's novels, and admittedly that was a long time ago, in my teenage years, and while I liked the premises of these books (otherwise I wouldn't have picked them up) I never got into his writing style. Recently though I've been pondering whether I should get my hands on one of his books again. Maybe grab his latest novel to find out whether the narrative that seriously bugged me years ago is now as powerful and mind-bending as people say it is. It's worth a try I guess.

While most people associate Stephen King's work with the horror genre, he in fact implements everything from suspense to science fiction straight to fantasy in his books. Add that he's not only a novelist, but also screenwriter, columnist, producer, to name but a few. He even appeared in some of the movie adaptations of his books, such as The Stand or Pet Cemetary.
Apart from roughly 50 published novels, including a handfull under the pen name Richard Bachman, he also wrote several collections with short-stories and let's not forget his non-fiction works. Some of the books written under his pseudonym are also quite well known today like The Running Man and Thinner. I guess it's safe to say that the real breakthrough under his own name must have been Carrie in the mid 70ies.

While writing this feature and doing a little research on King's work, I realized that I hadn't even heard of his epic Dark Tower book series before. This is a series of interconnected stories about a lone gunslinger, Roland, in an alternate-reality universe setting. I only associated him with books like It, Salem's Lot or The Green Mile. but with so many books by him who could have heard about them all? Well, apart from hardcore King fans, of course.

And apropos writer, did you know that he often uses authors as characters, or includes mention of fictional books in his stories, novellas and novels, such as Paul Sheldon who is the main character in Misery, and Jack Torrance in The Shining.

Coming to an end now I wonder if any of you love books by Stephen King and whether you could give me any recommendations? I do have my eyes on Under The Dome, but I'm not sure whether I should give it a try or not.

June 9, 2011

Picture Garden - Being Different

"BEING DIFFERENT"
Be daring, be different, be impractical,
be anything that will assert integrity of purpose
and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers,
the creatures of the commonplace,
the slaves of the ordinary.
Cecil Beaton

June 8, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - LexioPhiles

Today I'd like to introduce you to LexioPhiles, a place where the love of words shines through in lots of great articles on anything language-related. While most of you will probably be dedicated readers of countless book blogs, there might be some who will be interested in language itself too. No matter whether you're just a bookaholic or a linguist at heart, you should seriously check out this site.

On first glace it may look like this could be a bit of a dry read, but trust me, it's not. LexioPhiles features many different topics, from slang to tongue twisters, from typical mistakes to language survival, and all of them presented in a way that's not only informative but also entertaining and sometimes downright funny, to read.

To name but a few: German Swearwords Part 1, Languages Spoken in Ireland, or Language survival 101: Feel local (in the Netherlands)!

But that's not all!
How about some laughter inducing translation failures?

Or maybe you're curious about What English learners want to hear – the top 100 most-listened to English words? The G rated list starts off with "I love you", "awesome" and "hello" (and please don't ask me why on earth the word "awesome" made second place), the R rated list starts with the same three words with the F-word right on its heels on fourth place.

And, because we're talking about not just one language, there's a dictionary widget on the site too, which might prove more than helpful if you want to read one of the non-English articles here.

To get back to the initially mentioned language blogs - if you're interested in anything that has to do with language and linguistic you should definitely check out the list of the 2011 Top 100 Language Lovers, which features Language Learning Blogs, Language Professional Blogs, Facebook Pages and even Tweeterers.
I'm also proud to announce that a friend of mine made 18th place with her (and her twin sister's) blog Translation Times. Even more so, they made 1st place in the category of Language Professional Blogs. Congrats Dagmar and Judy!

June 7, 2011

Quote Garden - How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

It is only a novel ... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.

I don’t think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.'

I shall not pity the writers of history any longer. If people like to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered at the person's courage that could sit down on purpose to do it.

By Jane Austen

Review - The Judas Gospel (Bill Myers)

Starting off with a truly unique idea The Judas Gospel by Bill Myers captured me from the first page. He presents a highly engaging and smoothly written novel, combining the Christian theme with a suspenseful thriller quite perfectly. Though this isn't just any old whodunnit, the main focus of the story is on the what-if of celestial proportions.
Judas believes that God could draw in even more flock with the right, well, business strategies. In the person of Rachel, who has visions and healing hands, he tries to prove his point by marketing this new prophet. Throw in the fact that Rachel witnesses several killings in her visions and soon becomes the main suspect in police investigations and you've got quite a page-turner in front of you.
At first I feared that both threads of the book might not come together as well as they did, but the author managed to make an incredible scenario as fictitiously believable as possible. The characters are well developed and feel real down to the minor cast. And the story will keep you on your toes from beginning to end. The message is clear too – it's not about crowds, but touching individuals.
While this is certainly a Christian book, I didn't perceive it at all as preachy. I think it shows really well what humankind's relationship to God is and isn't about without forcing religion on the reader.
In short: An unusual and suspenseful take on biblical principles!

4/5 stars

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

Review - The Seraph Seal (Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner)

Admittedly I hadn't heard about a genre called “engaged fiction” before starting to read The Seraph Seal by Christian authors Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner. It's the blending of fiction and non-fiction which makes this book special, and while it feels like fiction when you read it, you will find plenty of facts embedded in the story without disturbing the fictitious part of the book.
This tale about the end-times and the four apocalyptic horsemen starts off promising. Mysterious letters and artifacts turn up while at the same time disaster strikes and the Earth is close to destruction. Four people set out to save mankind, four set out to subdue it. A thrilling premise, but unfortunately the implementation left plenty of room for improvement.
While the book is biblically consistent, there are simply too many things happening, too many characters, and a rather fractured structure, that damped the reading experience. These ingredients didn't carry the story, they downgraded it to just an average read. I wish the authors hadn't solely focused on the battle between good and evil, but had given the cast more depth, let the numerous plot lines flow together more smoothly and hadn't rushed through the chapters like they did. Apart from the unique ending, which I really loved, the book turned out to be a rather bland reading experience for me.
In short: An apocalyptic story brought to life as engaged fiction, which is worth reading more for the non-fiction than the fiction part!

3/5 stars

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

June 6, 2011

A Writer's Life - Writing in my head

Some days a writer won't write.
Some days a writer prefers to read.
You could say today is dedicated to other writer's writing.
Of course you could also say I'm just plain lazy.
But never forget that even without a piece of paper (or a computer screen) in front of me I am always plotting. Laying groundwork for tomorrow. Writing in my head. I once heard that this is the best kind of writing anyway.

Short blog post?
I know.
Let's see ... how can I possibly make this post longer?

That'll do.
I think.
On second thought, I need to check whether there's still ice-cream in the freezer *drool*.