July 31, 2011

Books Aplenty - Disappointing dystopia

To get one thing straight right from the start - dystopia is one of my favorite genres. Add that I've been able to read some truly great, in some cases outstanding, dystopian novels lately. Then came another one it it was just plain awful. To me anyway. I'm not really sure who to blame. The idea is really fascinating, but that's about the only good thing I can say about the book. Alright, the cover is neat too. The narrative gave me heartburn and the shallow characters headaches. Worst of all there's this super religious girl who wants to "safe" her twin sister and then ends up doing the naked pretzel with a guy because he looks like Jesus does in her dreams!? This is beyond weird. If you haven't guessed already, I'm talking about Bumped (Megan McCafferty). I realize some love the book, but I simply didn't. End of story.

As to avoid further "novellus horrendus" experiences of the dystopian kind I decided to read The Second Messiah (Glenn Meade) next. This was a solid thriller where all kinds of people are chasing after a Dead Sea Scroll with a shocking revelation in it. Basically if you like Dan Brown, you'll enjoy the book too. It was a bit slow at first but finally sped up in the last part of the book and overall it was a good book, but it did not hold all that many surprises which might have pushed it towards a great read.

So that no one can call me lazy I also caught up a bit with my LibraryThing books this week.

Shelter: Blood Haze (Tara Shuler) was a YA vampire book which actually didn't start out so bad, probably because I liked the unique take on vampires presented here. Unfortunately the story itself was run-of-the mill filled with stereotypes, no big surprises and an open end that will be continued in a sequel. Don't ask me why anyone would write a 120 pages book and call it Part 1 if the whole story in one full fledged novel would make way more sense. Not as though I plan to continue reading, but anyway.

Nowhere To Go (Iain Rowan) is a collection of suspenseful short stories, all very well-written, and superbly devised, with a wonderful eye for detail, letting the reader catch a glimpse into the dark abyss of the human heart. What a treat after the last book! I really really need to get my hands on his other short story collection Ice Age too. That one features "stories from the strange and chilling" which sounds like just the thing for me!

Hanging my head in shame, here are my bookish confessions of the week.

I mightn't have won the giveaway, but as a small "Thanks for entering!" I received Rebellion (Rachel Cotterill) by the author.

Silly me had to check on Christianbook for freebies too and, long story short, here's my huge eBook haul from the site - Daughter Of Joy (Kathleen Morgan), Surrender The Heart (MaryLu Tyndall), Stealing Jake (Pam Hillman), Cash Burn (Michael Berrier), Delivery (Diana Brusik), The Frontierman's Daughter (Laura Frantz), Sixteen Brides (Stephanie Grace Whitson), The Vigilante's Bride (Yvonne Harris), Monday Night Jihad (Jason Elam), Ransome's Honor (Kaye Dacus), A Kiss Of Adventure (Catherine Palmer), Miss Match (Erynn Mangum) and Code Blue (Richard L. Mabry).
Sometimes I wish they'd stop this free eBooks thing there, because my TBR piles are ever growing, but then again ...

And wouldn't you know it? I am down to one, yes one as in solitary and single, book on my NetGalley list. You can probably imagine what this translates to? Yes. Requests. All of which were granted, though it turned out that one publisher archived the book before I had the chance to download it. Or maybe they didn't take a look before granting my request? Anyway. Here's my haul - Promote Your Book (Patricia Fry), Sweet Invention (Michael Krondl) and Darkness Falling (Peter Crowther). As you can see, I went for a rather diverse choice of books this time round. Writing. Food. Science Fiction.

July 30, 2011

Pajama Musings - The end of the line

Is there anything worse than your computer dying in front of your eyes? Or more specifically, the internet connection saying its final goodbuy without any warning? Alright, there are things worse than this. War and pestilence and airplane food, to name just a few. Still, it's as if your lifeline has been cut and you feel the sudden urge to open the windows (the ones in your apartment, not Windows on the computer) and scream "Is there anybody out there?" Maybe I'm being a drama queen, but if you've never had to face an internet related computer crisis then trust me, it's not funny.

Actually it's a shame how much we all depend on an internet connection. While it's great for so many things, from looking up a telephone number to buying stuff online, it's also a major distraction. And if you think I'd have got more things done while the internet was down, things like writing maybe, you're wrong. I fired up my netbook and was all set. Well, more or less. First thing I did was find a telephone number (see, very useful) for a computer technician. Then I checked my e-mail. Old habits die hard. To be fair though, I didn't actually stay online that long with my netbook. And the writing I did was preparinf blog posts. Period.

Now I sit at my computer again, the internet connection revived (for the moment anyway), yet the Firefox crash problem ,which might have to do with the whole ordeal, still in action. In short: I write this in Internet Explorer, but what can you do when Firefox obviously has the rabies? I guess me and the computer guy will meet again next week. No way around it. And by the looks of it that fox will have to be shot, because Explorer isn't crashing. So far.

Anybody wondering what would have happend if I didn't have my life saver aka netbook? Think about the ultimate catastrophy for a blogger. Unable. To. Access. Your. Blog. Blog posts might not appear when they should (because they haven't been written yet) while other blog posts might appear in a half finished state (yep, sometimes I prepare full texts in advance but more often I just jot down a few lines to remind myself what I want to write about on a specific day). Mayhem. Chaos. The end of the blogging line.

Anyone else out there who won't just sit back and relax, take things as they are, when stuff like this happens? I mean, hey, if one situation qualifies for a slight panic then it must be a severed internet connection.

July 29, 2011

The Others - J.R.R. Tolkien

Who hasn't heard of Tolkien and his hobbits? Who hasn't watched the Lord Of The Rings trilogy? It's safe to say that both the author's name and the famous book title will sound very familiar to even those who don't read that much. While some might have resorted to simply enjoying his work on the big screen, others might have decided to actually read the books after watching the movies. And then, inevitably, there are those who realize that Tolkien is one of the best known fantasy authors out there, but were never brave enough to either read or watch his hobbits in action. That would be me.

Tolkien was not only the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Silmarillion, which form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda, and Middle-earth. What many don't know is that he was also a poet, philologist, and university professor too, yet to the general readership he is viewed as the "father" of modern fantasy literature with his epic trilogy. Immensely popular in the 1960s and the trilogy remained so ever since, ranking as one of the most popular works of fiction of the 20th century. And his popularity is not limited to the English-speaking world alone according to sales and reader surveys.

Apropos sales and reader surveys. I remember that some years ago I felt the need to read the Lord Of The Rings books, so I bought the book set and put it on a shelf. It stood there for quite a while. Years to be honest. About as many years as Tolkien needed to write his epic novel (more than ten years). Somehow I never managed to make myself grab the first volume, open it and start reading. Too many people had already voiced that the books would be wordily and lengthy descriptions of hobbits dancing and singing through the woods, which sounded pretty boring to me. I realized there had to be more to it and thought that maybe I could watch the first movie to see whether the story itself had more going for it than I feared it would. Let's just say that the movie almost made me fall asleep and I decided to sell the book set. While I'm in no way opposed to epic tales or the fantasy genre, Tolkien turned out to be one of those must-read author's I never got to know better. That's not to say his books are bad, who am I to claim such a thing without having read them? Maybe I also shouldn't have listened to all those voices telling me about the "ordeal" of reading the trilogy which made me rethink my decision to read and judge for myself.

Either way, I know there are lots of Tolkien fans out there. And in the end tastes differ and to each their own, right?

July 27, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Urban Dictionary

For those who write, but also for those who just indulge in reading, a dictionary comes in quite handy from time to time. It's nothing to be ashamed of, having to look up certain words and expressions. On the contrary, you'd be stupid if you didn't do this and it certainly adds to the process of learning new things every day. Especially if your dictionary of choice is the Urban Dictionary.

Of course it all starts with reading (a forgotten art) a book (an object used as a coaster, increase the hight of small children, or increase the stability of poorly built furniture), preferably comfortably stretched out on the couch (where you sleep when you get your girlfriend mad; but not mad enough to be kicked out of the house). It might be something you need to read for college (the place where you enter inexorbitant amounts of debt to "learn" things you will never apply once to your actual occupation. Basically, an expensive 4-year waiting period for a paper called "degree") or you'll just read for fun (the best thing to have).

And when you're done with reading you might want to head over to your blog (a meandering, blatantly uninteresting online diary that gives the author the illusion that people are interested in their stupid, pathetic life. Consists of such riveting entries as "homework sucks" and "I slept until noon today.") and write (the art of manipulating ink to do your dirty work) a couple of blog posts, maybe about dictionaries (thing you use to look up words you don't understand with definitions filled with words you don't understand and need to look up to understand the definition of the first word you didn't understand)!

Sounds like a reliable dictionary to you? Great! So head on over and maybe even subscribe to the Word of the Day to get your daily dosis of the Urban Dictionary.

July 26, 2011

Quote Garden - I wandered lonely as a cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

I wandered lonely as a cloud by William Wordsworth

July 25, 2011

A Writer's Life - Writing Rules

1. I see it more like a road that goes up and down and up and down with eventually getting to higher elevations.

2. If that were true certain authors and their readers should have already died of boredom.

3. Ain't it the truth.

4. I guess not, but a rhyme or two don't hurt either.

5. This really depends. Sometimes you need a stereotypic character/situation to make the story work.

6. If writers read all the time, when would they write then? Let's stick to "writers's read a lot".

7. Woohoo, I looove lists! But why would I want to make lists about my fav things? I create lists of my characters fav things!

8. Not that I have anything against books that only mean to entertain, but it wouldn't be me if there were no message at all in my own writing.

9. Absolutely. You never know when an idea will strike.

10. I've walked, I've danced, I have no weeds to pull, and I wish I had a minion doing my dishes. Maybe that's something to write about as well?

11. Let me think about this for a minute. Haikus? Nah ...

12. That's a good one! As if there were only two sides to a story. Usually there are half a dozen. Then again, maybe that's just me.

12 1/2. Isn't that what I'm doing already? Writing this blog post?

July 24, 2011

Books Aplenty - And I had almost given up hope he'd ever write a good book again

Alright now, so I only read one book this week. Let's blame it on the fact that I was on a mini vacay for during the first half of the week and while I did start reading the book while away I also spent substantial amounts of time just soaking in the thermal water and dozing in the shade. Either way, I managed to finish the book back home and it was a wonderful ride.

The book I'm talking about? What The Night Knows (Dean Koontz) which is the latest novel by one of my fav authors who, as I would like to point out, has been quite disappointing with his writing during the past years. With this book though he is back on track and while it doesn't stand shoulder to shoulder with his probably best novel, Odd Thomas, it's definitely been a good and solid suspense novel, highly reminiscent of his earlier books with an eye for details in setting, and amazing characters, that I feared had somehow gone lost over the years.
Imagine my shock when I saw a number of really bad reviews for this novel. The main culprit seems to be that some people complain about his characterization of the children which are "too smart and adult" for some readers. Dean doesn't have kids of his own, so what? I've been this young before myself (we all have, ha) and sorry, but I wasn't the stupid little kid some readers obviously wanted the children to be in the book. Maybe they were stupid kids themselves, or their own kids are stupid. Seriously. Why can't children be deep characters too? In fact, they should be. Nuff said.

New books this week?
Not all that many, but then again, we've already established that I have TBR piles that reach the ceiling alreadys, sooo ... all I added was the eBook The Commander And The Den Asaan Rautu (Michelle Franklin) which I've won at The Slowest Bookworm.

July 23, 2011

Pajama Musings - And then came Google+

In this day and age it's almost a miracle if someone hasn't got a profile in at least one Social Network, such as Facebook, MySpace, or as of lately, Google+, or Sharing Networks, like YouTube and Flickr, or the good old Blogging Networks, such as Wordpress and Blogger. And let's not forget the Microblog Twitter. Of course that is naming just a few in the vast Social Media landscape.

You want an audience? Just pick your share of different media outlets to share whatever you feel like sharing with the world. You want to stay connected with family and friends? Once again, pick your preferred network(s) and share pictures of your latest vacation or the sweater you knit for your cat. There are countless possibilities of what and why someone will (or will not) use this or that Social Network. As is also the case with me.

Noticed the Facebook button way down in the right side bar of my blog?
I've been on Facebook for a few years now and generally I use it to reconnect with people from the good ol' days, or even more importantly, to stay in touch with a whole lot of friends living in the US. Oddly enough, since I started blogging regularily at the end of last year, I'm not hanging that much around anymore, sticking my nose into the Blogger Newsfeed instead. Though I also connected with a few fellow bloggers on Facebook now, and admittedly I'm also playing with the idea of a fan page for The Book Garden. We'll see.

Noticed that there is no Twitter button to be found in my right side bar?
That's probably a small miracle in itself, seeing how pretty much everybody seems to be on Twitter these days. You can follow almost every blog not only through GFC but the bloggers will have Twitter accounts too. I must be one of the rare species who still resists to sign up for it. And I have a damn good reason ... wait for it ... Twitter is plain ugly. Now, that might be a strange thing to say, but it's true. It's just not esthetically appealing and to top it, the newsfeed (or whatever it might be called) is utterly confusing. Maybe I have an underdeveloped Twitter gene, alright. Some people swear by it, because you can connect with authors and publicists (that's the book blogger refrain) and while this is admittedly a wee bit tempting even for me, I can't get over the incapability of my brain to get the whole Twitter craze.

And then came Google+ ...
Stop looking for a button of it in that side bar, because there is none. Yet, anyway.
I'm on it though. For a few days now. We can't even speak of a one-week-anniversary yet. Well, tomorrow we technically can. I noticed that two fellow bloggers are on Google+ and when one posted that she'd send out an invite upon request I asked her for one. I signed up. Was confused for a bit. And I started to like it. Google+, not the confusion. Of course the big question is do I really need it? I'm on Facebook already, after all. I'm not really sure either. Maybe I will restrict my activity here to everything book and blog related. So far I added a few fellow bloggers, and a couple authors too. I must confess, I like the whole Circle thing, the possibility to follow even if you're not being followed back (actually, this is a bit like the Facebook fan pages of you ask me) and the fact that you can choose for each and every thing you post who'll be able to see it. Of course it's still the test phase with room for lots of improvement, but so far I like what I see. And lo and behold, it doesn't insult my eyes either.

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,
Google+ might still be in diapers, but you should be scared ... very scared!
Yours sincerely,
A Google+ user

July 22, 2011

The Others - William Blake

Known for both his poetry but also his paintings, William Blake is one of my favorite writers not only because his poems are so beautifully composed, but also due to the fact that he touches the imagination inside the reader.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Admittedly I only knew Blake through his poetry at first and the first encounter I had with any of his work was through the wonderful Auguries of Innocence. Many years later I got a brief glimpse into his work as a painter too while watching Red Dragon where "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun" made its dramatic and edible appearance. In case the edible part makes you question my sanity (or my knowledge of the English language), I may suggest you watch the movie to find out more.

William Blake in an 1807 portrait by Thomas Phillips

Granted, I'm usually not someone who'll read a whole lot of poetry, but then there are some poets whose work I more than appreciate and cherrish.
Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered an important figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His poetry is often prophetic and full of symbolism, sparking with expressiveness and creativity, and shows philosophical and mystical undercurrents. He abhorred slavery and believed in racial and sexual equality which shows in several of his poems and paintings which express a notion of universal humanity. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England, Blake's attacks on conventional religion were shocking in his day though it was not a rejection of religion per se. His protestation against dogmatic religion is especially notable in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell where he reveals the Proverbs of Hell.

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
The hours of folly are measur'd by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure.

While Blake's text has been interpreted in many ways, it certainly forms part of the revolutionary culture of the period of the Romatic Age. If you want to read more on the poet there is plenty of literature to choose from. One book I read earlier this year, and reviewed here on my blog, is My Business Is To Create (Eric G. Wilson) which deals with the creative process and is a must-read for every writer.

July 21, 2011

Introduction Giveaway for UK & EU Summer Hop

Are you living in Europe?
You better read on then!

From August 1st through August 8th the UK & EU Summer Hop hosted by Book Passion for Life and Books for Company will take place for the very first time.

As a little teaser the Introduction Giveaway for UK & EU Summer Hop is now open to draw as much attention as possible to this event.

Curious about what, and even more importantly, how you can win?
Head on over to the UK & EU Summer Hop site and tweet away.

We have a winner ...

First of all let me thank everyone for visiting my stop at the BlogFest 2011. It was a fun event, then again all blog hops are a whole lot of fun! You get to find new blogs and you might even end up winning something!

Remember my mandatory question? As expected it received the most obvious answers. Most of you don't actually need more books, but definitely want more (I'm right there with you), and then there were those who were like "Books? Gimme gimme gimme!!!". Whether you are more of a "wanter" than "needer" when it comes to books doesn't really matter, in the end it was great to see this all-emracing love for books!

And while following wasn't mandatory I am happy to welcome a few new faces aka readers too. Welcome to The Book Garden!

But now, let's get to the part you've all been waiting for.
Who was lucky enough to win?


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

Did not win this time? Come back in early August when I will participate in two giveaway hops - one will be open to Europe, the other international - for another chance to get your hands on some bookish goodies.

Picture Garden - Life Is Good

"Life Is Good"
Especially when you're on a mini vacay at a spa!

July 20, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Social Media Examiner

For those of us who are bloggers social media is pretty much the soil we thrive on. Most of us don't stop there either and have profiles on Facebook and Twitter too. While there's a lot of learning-by-doing from the moment you set up your wee little blog to developing it to an impressivly huge website, it's always great when you find some advice and help out there. Bloggers often help each other out with tips and tricks, but there are also websites who help us quite a bit. One of these sites is the Social Media Examiner that supplies you with all kinds of helpful information for all kinds of social media outlets.

Social Media Examiner is a free online magazine designed to help businesses discover how to best use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to find leads, increase sales and generate more brand awareness. Offering a unique single source of knowledge, the site contains comprehensive articles and videos on how to use the best social media tools, along with original case studies, reviews of the latest industry research and advice direct from the world’s leading experts. While there is a heavy emphasis on business, you can pull lots of helpful info from the site as an "ordinary" blogger too.

For those just starting out with their blog 21 Dangerous Blogging Mistakes (and how to fix them) is definitely a must-read. And just think about all those authors with their own blogs, they might want to throw a glance or two on 9 Ways to Use Social Media to Launch a Book. And then of course the one question when you start a blog - will anyone even read it? There are several ways to lure in readers (and most are "guilty" of using this particular one) such as 5 Ways to Build a Following by Giving Something Away.

I suggest you beginn with the Getting Started page and then head over to the wide set of categories such as Case Studies, How To, Reviews, Expert Interviews and Tools to name but a few. And to get the latest articles you can also subscribe to the page through different channels like Facebook, Twitter or maybe by e-mail.

July 19, 2011

Quote Garden - Fiction of tomorrow

Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science, the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.
Ray Bradbury

Here's a quick rule of thumb: Don't annoy science fiction writers. These are people who destroy entire planets before lunch. Think of what they'll do to you.
John Scalzi

Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can't talk about science, because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful.
Philip K. Dick

Science Fiction has rivets, fantasy has trees.
Orson Scott Card

Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today, but the core of science fiction -- its essence -- has become crucial to our salvation, if we are to be saved at all.
Isaac Asimov

July 18, 2011

A Writer's Life - When I'm not writing

Writer's write. But that's not all we do. There are other things we like to engage in too, especially when we go on a mini vacay like yours truly!

Thus I'm not writing today. This blog post? Prepared the previous weekend. Me, I'm in the middle of doing one of the following things while you are reading this ...

... oh, wait, to give you an idea of where I am, here's a pic from one of my previous stays.


And now, my wonderful to-do list for the next few days ...

Devouring the latest Dean Koontz novel in the shade of a tree

Lazily floating in the thermal water with a pool noodle tucked under each arm

Digging in at the dinner buffet with all its delicious dishes (made from regional products and with tons of vegetarian options, yummy)

Hiking through the woods surrounding the hotel area

Cooling off in the fresh water wave pool (if I'm brave enough, because usually the lure of the warm thermal water wins)

Eat a pack of vegan gummi bears each day (I'm kind of addicted to this stuff)

Snapping lots and lots of photos of the beautiful setting

Voluntarily getting up at 7 in the morning to go for an early swim while the air is still cool enough to have steam clouds drifting over the warm water

Tucking in fresh fruits and Gugelhupf for breakfast

People watching in the Turkish bath ... just kidding ... besides, with all that steam you don't see that much anyway *lol*

July 17, 2011

In My Mailbox (9)

Let's take a look at what sat in my mailbox this week ...

The first book to arrive this week was a signed copy of Sparks (Laura Bickle) which I've won on Book Lovers Inc. and not only is it signed by the author *squeal* it also arrived with postcards of other books by the author.

And I won a book of choice from Urban Girl Reader and with TBD being a bit uncooperative with the availablity of some books *sigh* which obviously also depends on where you live just like the whole pricing issue (yes, that old song again - for further info have a look at my The wondrous ways of TBD post) I asked Sherri to pick any available book from my wishlist and she sent me Bumped (Megan McCafferty), yay! And the book arrived with a TBD bookmark too!

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

Books Aplenty - Trees died for this

After realizing that I've almost exclusively been reading eBooks (all for review, but still) in the past few weeks, I decided it's time for a change. There is this huge stack of books next to my bed with all kinds of novels I've been dying to read for ages. The dust already settled softly on them, which is (probably) bad karma too. So I devoured a whole lot of real, physical books, giving my arm muscles some workout. It's actually pretty pathetic that reading a hardcover seemed kind of strenuous. That thing sure was heavy, or shall I say, heavier than my eReader, eeek!?

As the following books have been discussed a million times before on other blogs (see, I told you there was dust on that book stack), I will keep my thoughts about them brief. Just a little bit of rambling how I liked them and whether they live up to my expectations after having been hyped by the media.

I loved so much about Across The Universe (Beth Revis) that it's almost a shame to point out the flaws. Seriously, no one realized that the allegedly dead Elder is still around? You've got to be kidding. And the Season was quite hard to take too. It makes sense and all, but this is a YA book and even I, as an adult, felt it was just too much.

I Am Number Four (Pittacus Lore) was a good, solid sci-fi novel, which I can well imagine to work great as a movie (which I haven't seen), but as far as the book itself goes, it's only an ok read.

The Replacement (Brenna Yovanoff) took me by surprise. Dark and sinister. And everything from the narrative to the setting fit this eery mood. It's not the kind of book I usually read, but I loved it!

XVI (Julia Karr) is yet another dystopian novel I couldn't wait to read and while it wasn't bad I would have expected more explanations on why things are the way they are.

Not many new books this week which is good seeing how my TBR stacks are out of control already. Of course it doesn't show quiet as obviously when you only stack books on your eReader, but still.

I received That Day In September (Artie Van Why) for review from the author.

And I've won an eBook copy of Unloveable (Sherry Gammon) at Book Passion for Life.

My smallish but sweet IMM post will follow shortly!

July 16, 2011

Review - The Third (Abel Keogh)

With an opening scene that will shatter you to the core Abel Keogh presents a dystopian novel with a theme that doesn't seem so far fetched at all.
In a world where The Third refers to what society tries to prevent, the illegal birth of a third child in a family, everything is being rationed and regulated, from how much food you get to how many children you may have. When Ransom finds out that his wife is pregnant with their third child, he tries everything to keep them both safe which turns out to be an almost impossible task.
Narrated mostly from Ransom's perspective this is a gripping tale of survival and love. I could empathize with him all the way and found his character development really good and convincing. On the other hand I felt like smacking his wife Teya over the head on several occasions when she insists on doing the “right thing” in a society that is just wrong.
This has been a fast paced and highly emotional thrill ride, well told and brought to life through its details and the struggles of life in 2065. I wish I could have learned more about life in the “green states” and I could well imagine a future novel set there.
In short: A dark dystopian future that does not seem too far removed from where our lives might really be heading!

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 - The Skin Map (Stephen R. Lawhead)

In The Skin Map, the first installment of a new series, Stephen R. Lawhead introduces the reader to a world of time travel that's not just plain fantasy or science fiction, but a sort of Celtic historical fiction at its core.
After Kit meets a man, who claims to be his great-grandfather, he soon finds himself traveling through the centuries not only to find the legendary skin map, but also to search for his girlfriend Mina who got lost in transit, so to say, after he tried to show her how he traveled to another place and time.
What captured me from the beginning was the humorous undertone that flows through the whole story. While the thoughts of Kit don't make him the most likable character, I really enjoyed the parts about Mina who started to thrive after leaving her old life behind, and I'd like to think she's the real heroine of the book.
Being an enjoyable read with a fascinating premise and vivid descriptions of settings, I wouldn't have expected a major flaw from such a seasoned author. Flowing quite smoothly the book dragged in places because of being a bit long-winded, and the end inexplicably felt rushed, almost as if pages, if not chapters, were missing. And I'm not quite sure what to make of the epilogue either, but that's what the sequel is here for.
In short: An adventurous if somewhat slow trip through time!

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.”

Pajama Musings - Buy me a coffee

I could do with a nice hot drink right now. It's still early and not sweltering hot (yet) so no real need to resort to chilled water from the fridge. I'll have that when temps hit the 90s and until then a hot cup of cof ... uhm, tea, will be just perfect. Yes, tea. I want tea while asking for coffee. I'm strange like that. Even more so, I call myself a writer. Ha. But seriously, not every writer runs on coffee (or booze, for that matter) and yes, I run mostly on tea. As far as coffee is concerned I usually drink one or two iced coffees when I'm on vacation somewhere. I'm currently not on vacation. End of story.

Alright, maybe not the end as in THE END, but close enough.

The question you might ask yourself now is why then did I ever put up this very blog button on the top of the sidebar?

It actually has more to do with the creativity part than with the coffee part. I liked the idea. And the picture. Simple as that. Unfortunatelly I didn't find a similar pic where it says tea instead of coffee.

Anyway. If you follow more than a handfull of blogs you will probably have come across one of those Paypal Donation buttons where you may contribute to costs relating to giveaways on the respective blog. While I think this is a great idea, and admittedly my blog button is also linked to my own Paypal account, I'm taking a totally different approach. Ultimately I want people to click on that button simply because they love my blog and appreciate the work and creativity I put into it. I'd still use the donations towards giveaways, but that's not the point.

Truth be told I don't really expect people to come running and shelling out money either way. I guess my blog is neither big enough for this nor am I making it too obvious with the blog button I chose. Like I said, I liked the idea and the button itself, even though it features a coffee cup and not a tea mug. And while I haven't received any "donations" yet, it was a sweet but simple reaction to that button that made my day. I helped out an author who was looking for reviewers of her book with a tip on where to find lists with book bloggers by genre. Not that big a deal when you know where to look, really, but she replied to thank me and told me how she likes my blog and that she'll buy me a cup of coffee once her book starts selling. These lines really made my day. Not because there might be money in it for me. Just because someone showed appreciation for what I do on my blog. And those words are worth more than any cup of coffee. Or tea.

How about you? Are you a blogger yourself? If so, have you put up a donation button, and in case you have, what are your experiences with it?
And as a blog reader what are your thoughts on those donation buttons? Do you like the idea or is it something you don't really think or care about or are you even offended by them?
Let me know!

July 15, 2011

The Others - Chris Manby

In the beginning there was a girl that met an ape. Sounds like your every day romantic situation, But in case of Girl Meets Ape the girl really meets an ape, and a guy too, alright. I probably wouldn't even know Chris Manby weren't it for the fact that I was on vacation in the UK several years ago and buying a Cosmopolitan that came with a free copy of said book. I believe I even bought the magazine because of the freebie, because the title made me chuckle. Then I read it, laughed some more, and was instantly hooked to Chris' funny writing style.

As you probably noticed I really like the chick lit genre, so it's probably not all too surprising that Chris Manby is one of those authors whose newest novel inevitably goes on my to-buy list. While some might argue that all those chick lit authors/books are basically all the same anyway *gasp* this is simply not true. Of course there is a common ground, but there is a lot of difference there too, and something that distinguishes Chris from authors like Jennifer Crusie or Jill Mansell, is her wonderful writing style. Funny, smart, a touch of soap opera with a comical edge, probably describes her books best. Add a very distinctive narrative that makes her writing instantly recognizable. I can't wait to get my hands on Chrissie's next novel Kate's Wedding once it comes out. Chrissie? Just read on.

Starting out with writing erotica under the pen name Stephanie Ash, as not to embarrass her parents, Chris was soon discovered by a literary agent. The first novel under her real name was Flatmates, which got published in 1997. Thirteen novels on the single life later, her novel Getting Over Mr. Right came out with the name Chrissie Manby on the cover. Actually this name change has been on Chris' mind since after her second novel, having had one too many emails addressed to Mr. Manby, despite her author photo.

BlogFest 2011

Welcome to the
BlogFest 2011
(July 15th - July 17th)
hosted by A Journey of Books

BlogFest is a blog run of sorts. Participating blogs will each be offering a fantastic giveaway for readers to enter. Each blog will link to another, pulling readers through the fantastic party we'll have set up for them!

And now ...
... curious about what you can win?

I'm giving away a “Books! I need more books!” Tote Bag (in case the winner should prefer another book related tote bag worth up to $ 17,00 that's ok too) from Cafepress. This canvas fabric tote is perfect for bringing home your book haul from bookshops or the library. And because a book bag shouldn't go empty I'll throw in a book of choice worth up to $10,00 from The Book Depository too!
Please note: I am in no way affiliated with Cafepress, I just happen to like the stuff they sell. Also, I will have the prize shipped to the winner directly through Cafepress to save on additional shipping costs. 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:
Do you REALLY need more books?
(I wonder if anyone will say "No!" to that question *lol*)

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 July 18th 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!

July 14, 2011

Picture Garden - 1563

"1563"
It's funny how you often walk by houses in a place you've know all your life without really noticing their beauty. This is a wall mural in the old town district of where I live.

July 13, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Writer's Digest

Looking for tips on writing? Head on over to Writer’s Digest. Up until a year ago I didn't even know this website. Even before browsing around for a bit, reading some of the concise articles that caught my attention, my first thought has been along the lines of it being the writer's equivalent of Reader's Digest which I remember my Dad reading when I was still a kid. While the latter never tickled my fancy, the former absolutely does.

Since 1920, Writer's Digest has chronicled the culture of the modern writer and this tradition is being continued on the website too. From essays to interviews with bestselling authors, from practical technique articles to tips and exercises on fiction, nonfiction, poetry and the business-side of writing and publishing, you'll find everything for your writer's hearts content.

Just like every issue of Writer’s Digest magazine is devoted to helping writers develop their craft and hone their publishing acumen, so is this site too. While you will inevitably get (more or less subtle) reminders at the end of every article to buy related books regarding the topic you just read about, there is plenty of information and rescources available without spending any money.

You may check out the Tip of the Day, read about 8 Basic Writing Blunders, The Anatomy of a Writer's Website or even How to be a Successful Ghostwriter.

And let's not forget you can connect with other writers on the forum as well as their blogs, and don't forget to sign up for the free weekly e-newsletter that supplies you with weekly writing prompts, contests and competitions, conference listings and online exclusive articles.

In case the articles and tips on the website aren't enough for you, you can of course subscribe to the magazine itself. And for those interested in even more info on the writing life, why not have a look at the Writer's Digest Shop?

July 12, 2011

Quote Garden - Don't mess with the librarian

Most people don't realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained. Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn't value its librarians doesn't value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?
Neil Gaiman

Librarian is a service occupation. Gas station attendant of the mind.
Richard Powers

I really didn't realize the librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group. They are subversive. You think they're just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They're like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn't mess with them. You know, they've had their budgets cut. They're paid nothing. Books are falling apart. The libraries are just like the ass end of everything, right?
Michael Moore

The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned by no later than the date shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.
Terry Pratchett

Don't mark up the Library's copy, you fool! Librarians are Unprankable. They'll track you down! They have skills!
Charles Ogden

July 11, 2011

A Writer's Life - Please don't stop the music

Some writers do. Some writers don't.

Turn on the music while writing, that is.

I know that there are a lot of people who are able to read with music blaring, then there are those who need a bit of background music while learning, and let's not forget the ones who can't drive without turning on the radio in the car. As far as I'm concerned I want absolute quiet in all three cases. Oddly enough though I need a soundtrack when I'm writing. Not always but most of the time.

Every writer has their own quirks about their preferred writing soundtrack and the musical theme doesn't always have to match what exactly we are working on. Though it helps not to listen to country music while writing a death scene. I think.

As to my own writing soundtracks aka my current favorites to stimulate my inner muse, you will notice they are all female artist. That's got to do with my personal taste in music as much as my obvious heavy emphasis on strong female characters. I guess. Sometimes I pop in a Maroon 5 CD, so don't worry about too little testosterone.

"my current obsession"
Will be on replay no matter what I'm writing on.
21 (Adele), Endlessly (Duffy)

"the epic one"
For those scenes of epic proportions.
The Book of Secrets (Loreena McKennitt), The Memory of Trees (Enya)

"the bubbly introspection"
Giving my girls some edge.
Bible Belt
(Diane Birch), Fact & Fiction (Kristen Hall), If Songs Could be Held (Rosie Thomas), Bramble Rose (Tift Merritt), Identity Crisis (Shelby Lynne)

"tori"
Just for the love of Tori, really.

July 10, 2011

In My Mailbox (8)

Lots of books in my mailbox this week, just the way I like it!

Let's have a look now, shall we?

I received my long awaited pre-order of What The Night Knows (Dean Koontz) and the equally long awaited The Replacement (Brenna Yovanoff) which was a May RAK (yes, May ... TBD took its sweet time with that one) from the lovely Stella from Ex Libris.

Then two books I've won in giveaways arrived too this week. Get Lenin (Robert Craven) which I won on Reads, Reviews, Recommends back in March (and which miraculously did arrive after I had basically given up on it) and Hunted By The Others (Jess Haines) from Notes of Life which materialized in my mailbox faster than I could have ever expected.

And I also got two TBD bookmarks! Good thing one can never have too many of those!!

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

Books Aplenty - Request hiatus

Take a wild guess what all the books I read this week have in common. A touch of paranormalcy. Quite unusual for me, I admit. But since I started book blogging I soak up all kinds of books that I wouldn't have touched a year ago. Some sucked, others were awesome, but the bottom line is that I certainyl don't regret broadening my reading horizon.

I already read and enjoyed another book by the author and A Modern Witch (Debora Geary) didn't disappoint either. Pointy hats and cauldrons? Nope. We are talking about modern witches after all, and that's how poor Lauren ends up in a chatroom for witches just to find out that she is a witch too. The wonderful characters and witty dialogues made this book a delight.

You could say Following My Toes (Laurel Osterkamp) is chick-lit with a serious undertone. Girl (who gets itchy toes when something good's about to happen) gets dumped just to find out her guy fell in love with her best friend. What sounds like a run-of-the-mill plot is an engaging journey of self-discovery, learning to let go and learning forgiveness. An enjoyable, touching and fun read!

When you go Too Near The Edge (Lynn Osterkamp) you might fall and die, which is exactly what happend to Adam. Cleo is a grieve counselor and helps people through their loss and also to come to a conclussion by contacting the dead. This is just what Adam's widow does, because she's got the feeling the drop was no accident. All in all a nice but not overly thrilling mystery novel. The strange thing about this book was how it felt like I've read it all before, but I know I haven't. All those paranormal threads seem to lead to a case of deja-vu on my part.

You might have noticed how many books from LibraryThing's reviewer program keep on rolling in each week. While I very much appreciate the possibility of getting to know new authors through the Member Giveaway, I realized that I've already received so many books during the past six months which are just waiting to be read (and ultimately reviewed) that I decided to go on a request-hiatus. It only makes sense. Really.

Yet, I have been able to add some eBooks to my TBR list, because I couldn't resist. Yes, they were free. Why are you even asking?

Dead Man's Eye (Shaun Jeffrey) which I had to have after reading two absolutely fantastic books by the author (thanks to the LibraryThing Member Giveaway, ahem) and after recently having won a book by Ami Blackwelder I checked out other works by her and stumbled upon The Ancient Genesis which sounded wonderfully intriguing and just like the kind of thing I love to read.

I wish I could say I only added these two, but no, there was this teeny weeny Sourcebook promotion which ended in a couple of free downloads - Lady Of Hay (Barbara Erskine), Kiss At Your Own Risk (Stephanie Rowe), The Fire Lord's Lover (Kathryne Kennedy), Never A Bride (Amelia Grey) and A Mistress' House (Leigh Michaels).

And finally, my Christianbook eBook loot - Heartless (Anne Elisabeth Stengl), Through The Fire (Shawn Grady), All Through The Night (Davis Bunn), The Outsider (Ann H. Gabhart) and Back On Murder (J. Mark Bertrand).

July 9, 2011

Pajama Musings - Let's fry some eggplants

I don't do heat. I can't stand it. I don't like it. In fact, I hate it. Add humidity and you'll hear me ranting about it all day long. At night too. Especially when I can't fall asleep because my bedroom feels like an oven. And obviously I don't have AC in my apartment.

Now you might wonder what all this talk about the hot weather has got to do with books. Quite a lot actually. You see, when it's too hot to move much ... let's rephrase this ... when it's too hot for me to be motivated to move much, just sitting in a relatively cool spot reading a book seems like a good idea.

The problem about this scenario is that the only cool place I can think of (apart of Antarctica) is the basement and quite frankly, it's everything but inviting down there. It's got this lovely bare brickwork atmosphere, lots of dust dancing in the air, and they still haven't put in a new light bulb right in front of my cellar compartment either. And even if it were a nice place to be it's jammed with so much stuff you can barely turn around not to mention put up a chair to sit down. So, in short, the basement is not an option.

Then there is the balcony. Small but with a real nice view. Unfortunatelly it's facing south which means you can fry an eggplant on the floor tiles during summer. Or teach a bear to dance (which I would never do, I'm just pointing this out to show just how hot the floor outside is). Even if you put up a sunshade the air itself is unbearably hot, so the balcony is off limits during July/August.

In case your kitchen heats up too much during summer, why not try to fry some eggplants on the hot floor tiles on your balcony?

Apropos kitchen. This might be an unlikely candidate for cooling down (unless you order pizza delivery or resort to the "fried eggplant scenario"), but then there is the possibility of taking up residency in front of the open freezer. Not so great for the content of the freezer, or the electricity bill, but wonderful for those in need of an arctic blast.

What it all (literally) boils down to is that it's damn' hard to find a cool spot for reading. In the end I just slouch on the bed, cling to a book, and seeing how I don't hold it with my arms spread like I wanted to do the chicken dance, I will inevitably sport damp armpits. And thinking really cool thoughts (or reading about Arctic expeditions) unfortunatelly won't help. Not much anyway.

Have you got a nice cool spot for reading during those sweltering days in summer? Are you blessed with a state-of-the-art AC in your home? Or a minion who will fan you with a palm branch and serve cool drinks? Either way, if you're willing to share your (cool) home or (hot, hehe) minion with me, I will be forever thankful.

July 8, 2011

The Others - Dave Barry

The first book I ever read by Dave Barry was Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys. I did not buy that book myself, mind you. I received it from a friend. Go figure. Yet I enjoyed the hilarious humor so much that I did end up reading more books by the author throughout the years.

Guys are simple ... women are not simple and they always assume that men must be just as complicated as they are, only way more mysterious. The whole point is guys are not thinking much. They are just what they appear to be. Tragically.

The American author and columnist who started out as journalist before a humorous guest column in the Philadelphia Inquirer led to being hired as columnist for The Miami Herald and ultimately winning the Pulitzer Prize "for his consistently effective use of humor as a device for presenting fresh insights into serious concerns". Apart from being a columnist, Barry has also written numerous books of humor and parody, as well as comedic novels.

Newspaper readership is declining like crazy. In fact, there's a good chance that nobody is reading my column.

What I didn't even know until now is that the movie Big Trouble, staring Tim Allen and Rene Russo, is based on Dave Barry's book of the same title. Though, admittedly, I've neither watched the movie nor read the book. Littel did I know that CBS boradcast a sitcom, Dave's World, based on his books.

Don't you wish you had a job like mine? All you have to do is think up a certain number of words! Plus, you can repeat words! And they don't even have to be true!

As there are plenty of books by the author out there, here are some I can wholeheartedly recommend to you. To get a general sense of his writing try out Dave Barry's Greatest Hits which features collected columns, and if you like travelling you might want to read Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need. And in case you should wonder about certain, uhm, peculiar things you may find in any of Barry's books, here's one of his favorite catch phrases: "I am not making this up".

July 7, 2011

Picture Garden - Crystal Clear

"CRYSTAL CLEAR"
A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

July 6, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - World Digital Library

These days you don't even have to leave your home to go to the library. And I don't mean that you can have a look at online catalogues of what your favorite library has to offer. Or to make online reservations for books. Nope. I refer to bringing the library to you.

The World Digital Library promotes international and intercultural understanding by expanding the volume and variety of cultural content on the internet. It provides resources for educators, scholars, and the general audiences completely free of charge and in multilingual format. Whether manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, or architectural drawings, you will find an amazing amount of topics, such as philosophy and religion, or language and sciences, or arts and geography. To boot the site is easy to navigate and includes special features such as timelines. Descriptions and interviews with curators about featured items provide additional information.

Trust me, if you're interested in finding out more about history and cultural treasures from around the world, you should definitely check out this site. Maybe you want to catch a glimpse of a sketch of the DNA Double Helix by Francis Crick or how about viewing a photograph of Richard M. Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House or reading from the Persian poem The Rose Garden? Whatever may interest you, have fun exploring!


The WDL was developed by a team at the U.S. Library of Congress, with contributions by partner institutions in many countries; the support of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and the financial support of a number of companies and private foundations.

July 5, 2011

Quote Garden - I will not reason and compare, my business is to create

The imagination is not a state: it is the human existence itself.

Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity ... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.

Everything possible to be believed is an image of the truth.

In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.

By William Blake

July 4, 2011

A Writer's Life - My Reality Show

Here's me thinking if super models and cops, or people who sew or tattoo, or generally people who think they're a celebrity, can have their own reality shows, why not writers too? Actually there are quite a few arguments why this show would probably be cancelled after the first three episodes ...

- No one wants to watch you just sitting on your butt for hours on end, mumbling incoherent stuff to yourself while typing away, breaking out in random laughter or sobs, and banging your head on the keyboard. This might be interesting to watch for a psychologist who studies hermit behavior, but will probably not thrill the general audience.

- Writers usually don't invest hours and hours in choosing their wardrobe and putting on make-up to look like, uhm, the kind of blown up barbie dolls that giggle 24/7 on your typical reality show. Granted, we might giggle occasionally too, but usually we won't let our barely covered boobs bounce up and down when we do so.

- That said, be aware that with spending the days in front of the computer often translates into wearing pajamas that are several sizes too big. Add a ponytail to keep those greasy strands from falling into our eyes. There is only so much time for personal hygiene when we experience a creative boost.

- We don't talk much when we do the things we do. Apart from the above mentioned mumbling of course. In fact, the only dialogues that can be heard are actually all in our mind, thus only heard by ourselves. That makes evesdroping kind of hard. In other words, it would be more or less a silent movie kind of show.

- Our favorite hangout is the local coffeeshop. Cozy, nice and clean. Compared to nightclubs which are usually neither cozy, nor nice, and don't even get me started on clean. And once again we just sit there, type away, maybe indulge in some people watching. Unless our coffee is spiked chances are we won't start to pounce on our cute waiter or start to strip to our underwear.

- Equally the only nightlife we participate in is singing our kids to sleep, trying to ignore the snoring of our significant other or, in lack of either of these, we might snuggle up with a teddy bear the whole night and simple get a good night's sleep. If there is a party going on then probably at our neighbors across the street who're celebrating their retirement, but not here.

- We don't do drugs. Unless obscene amounts of chocolate count. And when we rush to the bathroom it's because we need to relieve ourselves after all the coffee we had, not to powder *cough* our little noses.

- Things might get steamy on the computer screen, but we certainly don't have a new affair with another show participant each week. We might harbor crushes, but only on yummy (wo)men we write into our novels. Other than that we only love our significant other, or our teddy bear, depending on who shares our bed.

- We actually respect the work of other writers and even encourage each other. A little bit of envy only motivates us to try even harder to make our stories great. The bottom line though - no cat fights over who's got the bigger, uhm, books.

Still feel like a reality show about a writer could be a potential hit?
Try to convince me in the comments!

July 3, 2011

Review - Did Adam And Eve Really Exist? (C. John Collins)

To some Adam and Eve are merely a myth, told in variations in different cultures. To some Adam and Eve are as real as you and me. Focusing on the latter without neglecting the former C. John Collins confronts the reader with a fascinating question in his book Did Adam And Eve Really Exist?
Taking a look on the age-old question, this is definitely an intriguing read in which the author at the same time encourages critical thinking while putting an emphasis on the importance of Adam and Eve as a "real historical couple", consequently boosting the believers faith in the Bible. While I found it to be a fascinating topic (from my atheistic perspective), with a balanced view on the biblical story, as well as human uniqueness, and lastly science, I have to admit that the book proved to be a bit of a dry read. Don't let this discourage you from reading it though, because it is a very comprehensibly written work that will be especially of importance and of interest for the Christian reader, not only to make sense of the world with its notions of sin and a common origin, but equally to broaden the world view from the perspective of a believer in Christ.
Last but not least, this short book offers additional and deeper information in its appendices and bibliography for those who want to engage in further reading.
In short: A fascinating look at the traditional understanding of Adam and Eve!

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.”

Review - Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them (Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough)

Time to fess up. I am not much of a cook. I may be capable of making delicious pasta with a nice salad, but that's about it. Yet I'm still not too old to maybe learn a thing or two, so when I had the chance to read Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them I took it.
Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough have once again stirred up a book in their kitchen, this time with an emphasis on all kinds of myths about food and cooking. No matter whether you're a seasoned cook, or more like myself, you will probably have heard that spicy foods will cool you down, that you shouldn't wash mushrooms, or that you can tell if a steak is done by the way it feels. I hate to break the news to you, but it's just not that simple, and sometimes outright wrong.
Seasoned with various recipes, which I admittedly didn't try out, this book is such a humorous and at the same time informative page-turner that I pretty much finished reading it in one sitting. The only breaks I took were those when I couldn't continue, because I had to laugh so hard. Who would have thought that a book about cooking could be so very entertaining? I loved it.
And no, they don't scream. No vocal cords, you know.
In short: A wonderfully hilarious eye-opener for everyone who's fallen victim to cooking myths before!

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.”

In My Mailbox (7)

Before I start with all the bookish goodness in my mailbox I have to make a confession. Before I started book blogging I didn't even know what swag was (well, besides what the dictionary told me) and now I want to get my greedy little hands on it. So whenever I see a giveaway with swag I'm in. Nuff said.

Let's see what I got ... a signed Lisa Schroeder postcard and a signed Class of 2k11 bookmark plus The Pull Of Gravity pin from That's Swell! aaand a signed Solstice postcard plus trading cards from Roots In Myth.

Not really swag, but a lovely accessory for every reader is the handmade bookjacket I received from LovLivLife Reviews. The thing is that while it's super cute it's also a wee bit small for even my smallest paperbacks. So I sat there, looked at it for a while and then it hit me - I could use it for my eReader, which is on the small side, so to say. And? It fits like a glove. Maybe not the intended purpose of the bookjacket, but now my eReader has a gorgeous summer dress and I love it.

Over the course of the past few months I have won several Amazon giftcards and I finally put them all to good use. Very good use indeed.

Those who follow my blog vigilantly will probably be surprised about Inside Out and Outside In (Maria V. Snyder). Didn't I review the latter and already receive the former as a RAK some time ago? Yes. Unfortunatelly I only read the galley of Outside In and passed along Inside Out after reading it, and now I really really wanted to actually own both books, so ...

Then I had to have Catching Fire and Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins) because I loved the first book of the series so much. And I Am Number Four (Pittacus Lore) and The Maze Runner (James Dashner) have been on my wishlist far too long too. After taking a good look at my GC total I filled up my basket and well, the rest is history.

A big thank you to Barb from Sugarbeat's Books, Genna from Reading, Writing and the World of Words and Dana from Let's Book It for making this shopping frenzy possible!

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

Books Aplenty - Another week in reading

Guess what? I've been doing a lil' reading again this week. As I'm a bit behind with my reviews I'll keep my thoughts to the books I devoured and digested a bit shorter than you are used to, but ... actually there's no but, it's just I'm only serving "shorties" this week.

Part one of a time travelling new series where everyone wants to get their hands on The Skin Map (Stephen R. Lawhead) was an enjoyable yet somehow dragging read. If only the end wouldn't have been rushed and if only I'd have a clue about what on earth the ending is supposed to mean.

A dystopian future where being pregnant with The Third (Abel Keogh) makes you shiver from beginning to end. Granted I felt like hitting Ransom's wife over the head several times, but what can you do when someone needs to follow their conscience instead of saving their hide?

Vampires and werewolves meet in Fallen Blood (Martin C. Sharlow) which offers a unique look on the vampire "species". Unfortunatelly the fascinating premise is murdered by the most painful grammar crimes I've seen in a long time.

Martial arts meets science fiction in Criticality (Edmund Alexander Sims) and turned out to be a great candidate for most boring book of all time. To be fair, this might work well as a movie, but as a book? Don't bother.

Let's have a look at all the books I added this week, shall we?

I've won an eBook copy of Shifters Of 2040 (Ami Blackwelder) through her blog tour.

Then I got a few books through LibraryThing - Shelter (Tara Shuler), Divine Intervention (Cheryl Kaye Tardif), Concerto (Sandra Miller), Shattered Wings (Bryan Healey), Changers Summer (Mike Lewis) and The Choice (Lorhainne Eckhart).

And now, watch out for a real swell IMM post ...