April 30, 2012

A Writer's Life - The Love Quadrangle

What ever happens, I hereby solemnly swear that I will never write a love triangle into one of my books. Not to say I hate them, because sometimes they can be well done, but frankly, it's just so cliché.

A question that inevitably sneaks up on me is this - why do so many authors employ the dreaded love triangle? Is it similar to the latest rage in fashion? Like skinny jeans? Those come and go, but you may take comfort in the knowledge that what's hip one season is so yesterday the next. Yet those skinny jeans are just as clingy (literally) as certain romantic plot elements. And what if it's not just a fad? What if it doesn't go away? I confess, the thought that love triangles might be the little black dress of implementing relationships in books scares me. A lot.

Maybe I'm being unfair. Some love triangles really do work, not as though I could think of one right now. I guess it's the fact that they seem to be everywhere these days. The inherent tension and exitement they carry will keep any reader happy during the first few novels. Then things inevitably start going downhill. You can only do so much with the ever same theme. It is destined to repeat itself, get utterly predictable, and thus boring. Been there, read that. You get the idea.

I wonder, why can't there be an already established and strong relationship? Or let the heroine just be a person not a love seeking puppy who wants to drown herself if she doens't get kissed by chapter eleven! In other words, let there please be an actual story and not just the relentless hunt for a kiss and a hug and a couple of ... sorry, getting a bit carried away *cough*.

If you do insist on a mathematical approach, how about the love quadrangle? A good example would be Buffy. No joking. First Angel, then Riley, and finally Spike. Admittedly if you count Riley as a rebound fling we're back to the good old triangle, but hell, it works. And in the end? She's doing the healthy thing, staying away from Angel as not to get his demon side raging again and establishing a friendship after the lust-filled and self-destructive affair she had with Spike. We're talking about relationships with layers, folks!

Want to up the ante? Go for the love polygon! I don't think I can name any examples here, though. In fact this does sound kind of R rated. Or if you really must stick to the triangle thing ... oh oh ohhh ... why not for once have a one-male-two-females love triangle?

But seriously, there are so many ways to write about relationships, why not use them? Because one - that would be the love triangle if you haven't noticed by now - has proven to be a huge success for a handfull of books? Honestly, that's lame. Can you say lemming-writer? And let's not forget, just because something works a couple times doesn't mean, it will always work, or worse, will work for your plot.

What's your take on love triangles? A big fan or a reason not to pick up a book? Any suggestions for non-triangle relationships? Let me know!

Old Books in Need of a New Home Winner

Once again you haven't made it easy for me to pick the winner. I could honestly see those books in the homes of each and every one who entered, so to make it fair after all I basically had to throw all your names into a hat, close my eyes and pick one paper slip. Who's curious about the name that was on it?

Some old books have found a new home!
But with whom and where?
With Disincentive in Poland!

E-mail's on its way and soon the box of books will be too!

The next Old Books in Need of a New Home post will be up in about a month and this time the box will be filled with some spanking new books I excavated in the basement! Genre? Christian literature.
I know this is a rather specific giveaway, so if you read this now and already think this might be something for you, mark your calendars for the last week of May!

April 29, 2012

Tea & Books Reading Challenge

Have you noticed how we're already four months into the year? Now, why am I pointing that out? Let me think. Maybe because those tomes don't read themselves? Yup, must be it. We all need a little reminder every now and then, and this one's for all those challenge participants who're still struggling to pick up their first tome.

Now, I'm not going to claim I made a whole lot of progress. I managed to read two of six books so far, which means that there is still plenty of time left and no need to panic (just yet). Admittedly one reason for not having read the next book for the challenge was based on yours truly having difficulties to make up her mind. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) I have plenty of books with 700+ pages to choose from and I've now decided which ones to tackle next.

My plans for May and June are to read two books by German author Andreas Eschbach - Ausgebrannt and Eine Billion Dollar. Neither one got translated, but the first title means "burned out" and I guess the second novel's title is pretty much self explanatory anyway. Book one comes in at about 750 pages, the second at almost 900. Take a wild guess which one I'll read first.

How about yourself? What did you read in the past weeks? Which book is next on your radar? Let me know.

Dean Koontz Reading Challenge

It's that time of the month again. Time to spill how much progress me made (or didn't make) in the past weeks. After getting a head start in this challenge by reading two novels already back in January, all I did was dust off the heavy Omnibus edition with three Dean Koontz novels which only waits to finally be picked up. Of course you might argue there is still plenty of time to get started on the rest of the books I plan to read, but let's not procrastinate.

My plans for May are to read that Omnibus, in fact I got started on it today, woohoo! The novels included are Cold Fire, The Mask and The Face Of Fear, all older books by the author and long ago read by me in German translation. So it's nice to re-read them in their original language now.

How about you? Which novels did you get read for the challenge yet? Or haven't you even started with your first book yet?

The Reading Files - To rant, to tip, to move

This week I found out about the life of those who wait on us and how to make their lives better with a nice big tip. Plus I took a plunge into living the country life in Cornwall.

Waiter Rant (Steve Dublanica)
Source: bought new
Genre: Non Fiction / Memoir / Economy

According to The Waiter, eighty percent of customers are nice people just looking for something to eat. The remaining twenty percent, however, are socially maladjusted psychopaths. Waiter Rant offers the server's unique point of view, replete with tales of customer stupidity, arrogant misbehavior, and unseen bits of human grace transpiring in the most unlikely places. Through outrageous stories, The Waiter reveals the secrets to getting good service, proper tipping etiquette, and how to keep him from spitting in your food. The Waiter also shares his ongoing struggle, at age thirty-eight, to figure out if he can finally leave the first job at which he's truly thrived.

Title & Cover: Perfect fit!
Story: Memoir that grants insights into the life of a waiter. And, take note of this, a waiter's not just a waiter.
Narrative: Hilarious and spot on, though maybe a bit over the top for some readers.
Characters: Waiters and customers.
Thoughts: This isn't the first behind-the-scene book I've ever read about the service industry - some are great (Retail Hell by Freeman Hall), others not so much (Save Karyn by Karyn Bosnak). This one's both a hoot and well written to boot!

Keep The Change (Steve Dublanica)
Source: bought new
Genre: Non Fiction / Economy / Humor

Tipping is huge in America. Almost everyone leaves at least one tip every day, more than five million American workers depend on them, and we spend $66 billion in tips each year. Omnipresent yet poorly understood, tipping has worked its way into almost every nook and cranny of daily life. In "Keep the Change," bestselling author Steve Dublanica dives into this unexplored world, traveling the country to meet strippers and shoeshine men, bartenders and bellhops, in a hilarious and eye-opening effort to answer those perennial questions: Should we tip? and How much?

Title & Cover: Obvious choice, but nicely done!
Story: Oh to tip! When and where and to whom? And most of all, how much?
Narrative: Again, well written and fun, yet not quite up to par with the previous book.
Characters: Steve meeting lots of folks in the service industry whose lives literally depend on tips.
Thoughts: Contrary to Waiter Rant this one's less a memoir style book than a venture to find out all there is to know about tipping. Bottom line is that the consumer (in the US, at least) must make up for what companies do not invest in their staff.
P.S.: Between 15-20% work in pretty much every situation!

Home To Roost (Tessa Hainsworth)
source: from Random House
Genre: Non Fiction / Memoir / Travel

This is the third instalment of Tessa Hainsworth's escape from the rat-race with her actor husband to a Cornish seaside town.
Seagulls in the Attic left Tessa thrilled as Annie, her best friend from London, fell in love and married a local Cornishman. Alas the newlyweds decide to settle out of the county but Tessa and her husband are delighted when a new young family arrive in the village fresh from the city. However what looks such a promising new friendship turns to a nightmare as these are people who think money can buy them acceptance -- and the village is soon in quiet revolt. Tessa finds herself in the thick of it -- and realises that she has grown very strong roots in the community in the two years she has been in Cornwall.
Like so many in the country, she has to think about turning her house into a source of income in the summer months. Having finally got the place up to scratch, she and her family are wondering whether to camp for a couple of months when they are asked to take over a B&B owned by friends of friends. Tessa is bubbly, outgoing - but quite inexperienced at being a landlady. She muddles through only with the generous help of the 'customers' on her postal round.
Written with her usual warmth and good humour, Tessa Hainsworth enchants us again with her stories of life as a newcomer to 'deep' Cornwall and makes us dwell on the true value and meaning of 'home'.

Title & Cover: I adore painted cover art! And this one's real neat too!
Story: Postie Tessa, who's living the country life in Cornwall with her family, recounts her third year in the close-knit community which has become home for her.
Narrative: A little bland. And boring, for that matter.
Characters: Tessa and quite a number of quirky townsfolk. Add a new family, fresh from London, who doesn't quite fit in.
Thoughts: This book sounded so promising, a bit like a cozy mystery without any dead bodies turning up. Unfortunately the narration just trickles by with nothing much happening and the writing doesn't help much either.

Review - The Fate Of The Species (Fred Guterl)

The sixth "mass extinction event" in the history of planet Earth is currently under way, with over two hundred species dying off every day. The cause of this seismic event is also the source of the single biggest threat to human life: our own inventions.
But for all our talk about sea levels and biotechnology, do we really know what our future will actually look like? Will our immune systems be attacked by so-called super bugs, always evolving, and more easily spread than ever? Will the disappearance of numerous species cripple the biosphere? And if it does, what happens then? In this provocative, gripping book, Scientific American editor Fred Guterl explores these and other looming scenarios in vivid detail—the way they might really happen—and then proffers the means to avoid them.
We find ourselves in a trap: Technology got us into this mess, and it’s also the only thing that can help us survive it. Guterl’s riveting book is a grand and necessary thought experiment, not merely a scary story, but a fresh perspective on the world we’re remaking, and a route to safe harbor.

The end is near. But just how near? And what will be the cause? In his book The Fate Of The Species Scientific American editor Fred Guterl delves into what may cause our extinction and what we can do about it.
There are many books out there discussing this topic, most of them in a very sensationalist and wildly exaggerating style. Luckily for me, this isn't the case here as the author sets a matter of fact tone which I was immediately taken with. Written in a conversational style and painting both vivid and plausible scenarios of what could happen, he takes the reader from super viruses past climate change straight to what he obviously sees as the most likely culprit of all - scientific and technological progress. Our own inventions as source and cause of our possible extinction might not sound quite as exciting as a meteor striking, but according to this survey it's scarily likely.
Regrettably, it's the minutely detailed examples, highlighting present day research, which create an imbalance, sometimes long-winded enough to break up a chapter, and often reducing the fascinating question of what might happen to a mere afterthought. Another thing I found slightly unfortunate were the thoughts on solutions being pooled into the last chapter instead of complementing the individual chapters. A general conclusion would have been more fitting in my opinion.
In short: Technology as our downfall - an interesting excursion into what may cause the next mass extinction event on our planet!

3/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Winner of "The Knowledge Of Good & Evil"

The lucky winner of The Knowledge Of Good & Evil (Glenn Kleier) is
kara-karina @ Nocturnal Book Reviews

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

April 28, 2012

Pajama Musings - One or all?

Maybe "one or all" doesn't quite hit the nail on the head. It's more like several shades of "many" that keep some readers happy. Basically there are two kinds of readers - those who will read one book at a time, and those who'll juggle several at once. Obviously the latter won't read with one book in the left hand, one in their right, and an eReader on their lap (then again, you never know), but they don't just settle for only reading one book all the way through before starting the next one.

I for one have never been able to make myself read more than one book at a given time. I start it and I finish it without any other bookish interruptions. Unless you count my time at Uni when I did plow through several books at once for my courses I never wanted to dip into several book worlds at once. So maybe there is a difference between reading fiction and non fiction when it comes to that, but these days it doesn't matter what genre, I'm a one-book-reader.

I've seen more than once how some folks have up to five books on their currently-reading shelf on Goodreads and, needless to say, I often wonder what's wrong with a certain book that you don't want to read it all the way through in one go? Alright, maybe you need to squeeze in a particular book for review, thus keeping another book on hold for a few days, but five books? That's ridiculous! Don't these people want to know what happens next? How the book will end? Or are those books so awesome they don't want them to end? Or worse, are they so horrible they simply can't continue reading? Who knows?

Maybe I've reached the age where skipping from one book to the other after each chapter will get things muddled up in my brain or, much more likely, this is just my bookish attitude - to live in only one book world at a time. The only reason for me to put a book away before finishing it is ... wait for it ... because I don't see myself finishing it. Ever. Say hello to my DNF pile! The thing is that I know the book is not for me and that I'll never touch it again, so why act as if I'd pick it up anytime soon?

To me it seems that if you feel the need to take a break from a certain book then there's something obviously not working for you regarding the book. It can be small things or big things. Small as in not being in the mood for it (these things happen, but then you shouldn't have started reading it in the first place; instead you could have waited all the way through November for your inner bookworm to feast on it), or big things as in banging your head against a wall and the urge to jump off a cliff if forced to continue (in which case you should declare it a DNF and go on living a happy life without any broken limbs and lots of other amazing books making up for the pain this one book has caused you).

As much as I eat every course aka read every book after the other some people evidently prefer to read buffet-style. Well, to each their own, I guess!  How about you? One-book-reader? Or do you prefer your reading buffet-style?

April 27, 2012

Book 101 - Paperback vs Hardback

We all have our preferences when it comes to what kind of book editions we'd rather lay our hands on. Some love hardback editions, others go straight for paperbacks. Reasons are numerous. Maybe you like the sturdier version of a book or possibly the cover art on the paperback is more to your taste. Either way, this is really just a matter of your personal taste.

One of the most obvious differences between a hardcover or softcover book is, you may have already guessed, the cover! A
hardcover is a book bound with rigid protective covers, typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather. They may have flexible sewn spines although in recent times hardcover books may also have glued spines. Hardcover books are usually more expensive then their paperback counterparts, but they are usually of a more durable quality too.

Copyright by Joe Abercrombie

A paperback is characterized by a thick paper or paperboard cover and often held together with glue rather than stitches or staples. Today we have two major forms of paperbacks - mass-market paperbacks and trade paperbacks.
A mass-market paperback is a small format, commonly released after the hardback edition, and in addition to bookshops, it can often be found in non-traditional bookselling locations such as airports or supermarkets too.
A trade paperback has a larger format than the mass-market one. If it is a softcover edition of a previous hardcover edition, the text pages are normally identical to the text pages in the hardcover edition and the book is also the same size as the hardcover edition. The quality of the paper is usually higher than that of a mass-market paperback.

Trade paperbacks are typically priced less than hardcover books and higher than mass-market paperbacks. Interesting tidbit - virtually all ARCs sent for promotional and review purposes are issued in trade paperback format. As I've only received finished copies for review so far I can't tell if this is true, but if anyone knows more about this please let me know!

If you think the hardcover comes first in publishing new books, guess again. These days many titles have their first editions in paperback and never receive a hardcover printing. Paperback editions of books are often the preferred choice when a publisher decides to release a book in a low-cost format, especially with new authors or when a book is not expected to be a major seller where the publisher is reluctant to make a large investment.

Personally I love the look of hardcovers, but not the price. And when it comes to paperbacks, I've honestly never given the difference between mass-market and trade format much thought. To me it's the content that counts, but admittedly, having a series with one book "standing out" because it's the wrong format isn't making me all that happy either.

What are your preferences? Hardback or paperback? Mass-market or trade? Or are your buying decisions guided by different aspects such as book covers or price?

April 25, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - Pinterest

Haven't heard of Pinterest yet? Where have you been in the past year? Living in Antarctica without electricity and probably no running water. If so, you might want to take a nice hot bath before you read on.

So, for those not yet in the know, Pinterest is a pinboard-styled social photo sharing website. The service allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections. The site's mission statement is to "connect everyone in the world through the things they find interesting."

Now what on Earth has Pinterest got to do with books? Simple. You can share pretty much anything here. You love fashion? Pin your fav designer shoes. You love food? Pin your favorite recipes. You love books? Pin pin pin all that you love about reading, from awesome libraries to book quotes on T-shirts, from book covers to your latest IMM haul.

There are a lot of bloggers, also book bloggers of course, on Pinterest and in addition to following their blogs this is a wonderful way to share even more about our bookish passion. Plus, it doesn't have to stop there either. While you probably won't share your love for travelling or music on your book blog, you can certainly do so here.

Needless to say I was instantly hooked when I started pinning maybe two months ago. You know what they say - women are natural born gatherers and here we can do just that. Hoarding all kinds of pretty or interesting things!

And if you thought this gathering-thing is just for girls, think again! Guys can have equal fun on Pinterest, or if they should prefer, they might want to check out Manteresting, the manly version of Pinterest.

April 24, 2012

Quote Garden - Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one

A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.

Let grammar, punctuation, and spelling into your life! Even the most energetic and wonderful mess has to be turned into sentences.

The truth is that even big collections of ordinary books distort space, as can readily be proved by anyone who has been around a really old-fashioned secondhand bookshop, one that looks as though they were designed by M. Escher on a bad day and has more stairways than storeys and those rows of shelves which end in little doors that are surely too small for a full-sized human to enter. The relevant equation is: Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass; a good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.

I read anything that’s going to be interesting. But you don’t know what it is until you’ve read it. Somewhere in a book on the history of false teeth there’ll be the making of a novel.

Sometimes words need music too. Sometimes the descriptions are not enough. Books should be written with soundtracks, like films.

By Terry Pratchett

April 23, 2012

A Writer's Life - Thieves among us

What's the worst thing that could possibly happen to a writer?
Writer's block?
Awful reviews?
No sales?
While these are all hazards of authorship they are obstacles that, with a bit of schmoozing your muse, your editor and your potential readership, may be overcome.

So, what is the worst thing then?
If someone boldly steals from you! Some might call me slightly paranoid about not sharing all that much information about my WIP's, but honestly, until it's published you're more likely to find out about my weight than the story in my book. A few hints here and there? Sure. No harm in that. But will I ever discuss important threads that basically make (or break) the premise? Let's put it this way - if you threatened to break my kneecaps I might tell you my weight, but even if you held a burning match to my favorite teddy bear, my lips would stay sealed if you inquired about "the plot". Poor teddy, I know!

Suffice to say, a little paranoia never hurts. But what about writing on platforms such as this one? A blog!

Every couple of weeks another book blogger will rant about discovering how someone has stolen their review(s) for evil purposes on their own blogs (or even worse, linked up to some obscure websites). Plagiarism anyone?

Fortunately this hasn't happened to me so far *knock on wood* and despite this little voice telling me that maybe my reviews aren't worth stealing (aka they suck) I think what might save me is that I review mostly non fiction and a lot of people don't really read much non fiction, not to mention reviews about non fiction books. That's my pet theory, anyway.

The point is - bloggers put there heart and soul into their blogs and if we find out that a black blogging sheep has stolen from us we get a little ... well, cranky! Personally I'd let loose the Hounds of Hell the second I find my blog content on another site, but the usual way would be to contact the thieving piece of a *insert expletive of choice* and tell him/her to take the post down, like, NOW.

I think the worst example of someone stealing reviews must have been the one committed by a person who's not only a blogger but also an author, of I think historic romance novels. Admittedly I don't remember the blog, and I wouldn't share here publicly anyway. Imagine my shock! Bad enough that anyone would steal blog content, but a writer!? That nearly sent me into cardiac arrest. And, after my heart assumed a remotely normal beating pattern again, all I could think of was ... where did that lady *insert sarcasm* get the ideas for her books from? I don't think I really want to know the answer to that.

Thing is, I decided to do some googling to find out how to put up a little stumbling stone for wannabe-thieves on my blog. Go ahead and try to right-click with your mouse ... see? Ha. [followup a day later - as there are still half a dozen other ways to copy & paste I have deactivated the function now ... I'll simply borrow Amy's Hounds of Hell if someone shows sticky fingers] If someone is too lazy to write their own reviews, I doubt they would make the effort to copy word for word if they can't do the two-mouse-clicks-shuffle. And off the black sheep go to greener pastures.

Are you a blogger and has anyone ever stolen blog content from you? Are you using MyFreeCopyright?  Or maybe using a widget which makes right-click-copying impossible? Comment away!

Old Books in Need of a New Home

Welcome everyone to the third edition of Old Books in Need of a New Home where I'll be giving away a nice sized box filled with books to one lucky person.

How does it work?
First of all, this isn't a regular giveaway which means the receiving person will be handpicked by me and not random.com as I want to make sure the books find the best home. Now you may wonder what you have to do to convince me you're the best choice for the homeless books. Easy. Just comment and let me know why you want them. In case there are several highly convincing comments I'm going to do the good old drawing of a paper slip from a hat to determine the person who'll receive the box.

What's in the box?
I aim to have a themed box full of books from a certain genre, with certain authors, etc. and by full box I mean up to ten books. That'll also depend on their format/size. Titles and authors will be listed along with the condition the books are in. Most boxes will be filled with English books, though there might be the occasional box with German books only too.

What condition will the books be in?
They are not going to be spanking new. These books have been read by me and can be in any condition ranging from almost new to having been pawed through several times before. I will always state the exact condition the books are in so you can decide whether you want to enter or not. I realize not everyone likes used books, especially when they look the part, but fear not, I will also be giving away books that have been very gently read by me only and those look almost like new from the store.

Who can participate?
You have to be a follower of my blog (any way you want to, I'm not picky - GFC, RSS feed, e-mail, Networked Blogs, Bloglovin', Linky Followers or Goodreads) and you have to live in Europe! I really hate to leave out my international readers, but it's just too darn expensive to send a box full of books overseas.

What's in the box?
Science Fiction & Dystopia

The Passage (Justin Cronin)
Under The Dome (Stephen King)
Lifegame (Alison Allen-Gray)
Furnace Lockdown (Alexander Gordon Smith)
Numbers (Rachel Ward)

These books have been bought used and are in an overall good condition.

And now, comment away!
Tell me why you want to win these books.
Tell me which country you're from (to make sure you really are from somewhere in Europe).
Tell me how you follow (like I said, I'm not picky, so simply follow the way you like best).
Tell me how I can contact you in case you're being picked as the winner.

This post will be open for a week, but time may be extended in case of low entries.

April 22, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway with Glenn Kleier, author of "The Knowledge Of Good & Evil"

Today I am happy to welcome one of my favorite authors as a guest in The Book Garden! Let me introduce you to Glenn Kleier who authored the book The Knowledge Of Good & Evil!

On December 4, 1968, world-famous theologian Father Louis Merton visited the ancient Dead City of Polonnaruwa, Ceylon, entered the Cave of the Spirits of Knowledge, and experienced a vision. It’s claimed he found a backdoor to the Afterlife. That he looked into the Mind of God and escaped with a secret so powerful it could change all humanit. Bring wars to a standstill. End forever the age-old hatreds between races, creeds and cultures.
Six days later as Merton prepared to announce his discovery at a religious conference, he suffered a horrific death under mysterious circumstances. But the secret did not die with him. Merton left behind a journal…
Years later, beautiful psychologist Angela Weber and her troubled fiancĂ©, Ian Baringer, are on the hunt for Merton’s long-lost journal and its door to the Afterlife. Angela, an agnostic, wants to help Ian heal the wounds of a traumatic childhood plane crash that took the lives of his parents. Ian, a defrocked priest, no longer trusts in religion’s promise of eternal life. He must know for certain if he will ever see his parents again, driven to find out firsthand what lies beyond and what it holds for mankind.
Together, Angela and Ian plunge into a global chase, pursued by a shadowy cult, dead bodies and destruction in their wake. If Ian and Angela succeed, they will defy the gates of heaven and hell to learn a secret hidden from the world since the dawn of time . . .
The Knowledge of Good & Evil.

A warm welcome to Glenn who will share with us why it sometimes takes an author a long, long time to move from idea to published novel! Because, let's face it, fellow writers, sometimes we are awfully slow. And readers will agree, often it takes far too long to satisfy our need of getting our hands onto the next novel of a favorite author.

Why it took me so long to go from idea to published novel:

It’s just fiction, right? I’m making it all up anyway, why take years to push a concept into finished book? Laziness? Procrastination? Writer’s block?

It was seven years from start to finish for my first novel, "The Last Day" (Warner Books, 1998). Twelve for "The Knowledge of Good & Evil" (Macmillan, 2011). Different reasons affected the timeline for each.

When I began Last Day back in 1991 I’d never attempted a novel before, working fulltime running a marketing/advertising firm. A demanding job, and I had a family. But I also had an idea I couldn’t get out of my head. The story had the turn of the millennium as its foundation, so there was a clock ticking.

I carved out time around my more important obligations, doing research and writing early morning, over lunch, late at night, weekends. The internet was in its infancy then, so I leaned heavily on libraries and documentaries to get a feel for the far flung places the story encompassed. A time-consuming process.

I finished in 1996 and was fortunate to find a great agent who put the book to auction, where it was taken by Warner. That enabled me to end my day job and devote myself entirely to writing. Or so I thought. I’d hoped to cut development time by at least two thirds, but the best laid plans . . .

My father, who was in his eighties at the time, had numerous real estate developments. One was a proposed shopping center that needed serious attention. My father no longer felt able, and I was the only one of my siblings with the freedom to take it on. Additionally, my poor mother had developed Alzheimer’s. Unlike my job in marketing where I could set aside my distractions to write, here I could not. I lost my mother in 2006, and completed the development project about the same time. Then I stepped back, aired out my head, and re-wrapped it around The Knowledge of Good & Evil.

The research was more complicated than for Last Day. I needed a comprehensive understanding of humanity’s age-old relationship with the Great Beyond. To that end, I studied all I could find on the subject—the beliefs of the early Egyptians, Samarians, Mesopotamians, and on. Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, et. al. The Church Doctors—Augustine, Jerome, Gregory, Aquinas. And finally, modern theologians.

Time-consuming. And what emerged was a huge, convoluted mosaic that needed boiling down.

Once I had my motifs, I wanted to work them into the story without weighing it down, give historical context to heaven and hell, draw correlations, offer some observations that emerged from all the research. The story deals with rather complex, sometimes controversial and disturbing issues, but I wanted it to feel simple and accessible. Knowledge, like Last Day, is an allegory with a message. But in the end of course, when it comes to the afterlife, who really knows?

I generally don’t procrastinate unless I’m burned out, or brain dead (which some readers think I am, regardless). Fortunately I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. More “idea overload.” With infinite ways to approach each line, the challenge for me is winnowing down to the best. Hindsight often means rewrites.
Not to jinx myself, but so far the next book is going well.

My thanks for the opportunity to meet your readers, Birgit, I’m honored. I hope I’ve given the tortoises in the group some company.

What can I say? My inner tortoise isn't feeling so lonely anymore. Thank you very much for sharing your personal insights, Glenn! It was a pleasure having you here and I wish you all the best with your book and for your future.

Want to find out more about Glenn? Visit his website.

Want to buy the book? The paperback edition will be available April 24th - Amazon - TBD


Glenn has generously offered one of my wonderful readers their very own copy of The Knowledge Of Good & Evil. All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment and your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.

Following my blog is no requirement, but I obviously won't object if you do.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

The giveaway is open from April 22nd through April 28th - one winner will be picked through random.org on February 12th 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.

In My Mailbox - Books, yay!

Books are trickling in after all. And there was me thinking that I would run out of books for review. Guess I was wrong. And yep, I'm still under five books on my review pile. Everyone who's impressed, please raise your hand! Woah ... so many fingers waving hello!

Desert Angel (Charlie Price)

For Review
Home To Roost (Tessa Hainsworth)

For Review
Overdressed (Elizabeth Cline)
from NetGalley

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

The Reading Files - From feminism to the end of the world

What a weird selection of books I read this week. I'm sure this tells you something about my inner workings, but I have no clue what that might be. Without further ado, here's what's been on this week's reading menu.

It Looked Different On The Model (Laurie Notaro)
Source: bought new
Genre: Non Fiction / Memoir / Humor

Everyone’s favorite Idiot Girl, Laurie Notaro, is just trying to find the right fit, whether it’s in the adorable blouse that looks charming on the mannequin but leaves her in a literal bind or in her neighborhood after she’s shamefully exposed at a holiday party by delivering a low-quality rendition of “Jingle Bells.” Notaro makes misstep after riotous misstep as she shares tales of marriage and family, including stories about the dog-bark translator that deciphers Notaro’s and her husband’s own “woofs” a little too accurately, the emails from her mother with “FWD” in the subject line (“which in email code means Forecasting World Destruction”), and the dead-of-night shopping sprees and Devil Dog–devouring monkeyshines of a creature known as “Ambien Laurie.” At every turn, Notaro’s pluck and irresistible candor set the New York Times bestselling author on a journey that’s laugh-out-loud funny and utterly unforgettable.

Title & Cover: Ha, love it!
Story: Laurie's real life adventures from the hazards of buying stamps to letters to iPhone thieves.
Narrative: Sometimes funny, sometimes bordering on annoying!
Characters: Laurie Circa 1994, Ambien Laurie, etc.
Thoughts: This book isn't as hilarious as some people (or the praise on the back cover) claims. Her "epic tales" are sometimes wonderful and really make you laugh, then they are just blah. Then again, that's what you often get with story collections.

How To Be A Woman (Caitlin Moran)
Source: bought new
Genre: Non Fiction / Memoir / Feminism

1913 – Suffragette throws herself under the King’s horse.
1969 – Feminists storm Miss World.
NOW – Caitlin Moran rewrites The Female Eunuch from a bar stool and demands to know why pants are getting smaller.
There’s never been a better time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain…
Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should you get Botox? Do men secretly hate us? What should you call your vagina? Why does your bra hurt? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby?
Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin Moran answers these questions and more in How To Be A Woman – following her from her terrible 13th birthday (‘I am 13 stone, have no friends, and boys throw gravel at me when they see me’) through adolescence, the workplace, strip-clubs, love, fat, abortion, TopShop, motherhood and beyond.

Title & Cover: This is what a feminist looks like! Neat cover!
Story: Caitlin tells her candid tale of "becoming a woman" - from growing pubic hair to having children.
Narrative: The writing is poignant in places, then it borders on mediocre.
Characters: Caitlin, and women in general.
Thoughts: This book came sooo close to getting a five star rating if it hadn't been for the writing which really fluctuated in quality. On the bright side, the brutally honest insights into topics that all women deal with but never really speak about openly, is a revelation.

The Fate Of The Species (Fred Guterl)
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Non Fiction / Science

The sixth "mass extinction event" in the history of planet Earth is currently under way, with over two hundred species dying off every day. The cause of this seismic event is also the source of the single biggest threat to human life: our own inventions.
But for all our talk about sea levels and biotechnology, do we really know what our future will actually look like? Will our immune systems be attacked by so-called super bugs, always evolving, and more easily spread than ever? Will the disappearance of numerous species cripple the biosphere? And if it does, what happens then? In this provocative, gripping book, Scientific American editor Fred Guterl explores these and other looming scenarios in vivid detail—the way they might really happen—and then proffers the means to avoid them.
We find ourselves in a trap: Technology got us into this mess, and it’s also the only thing that can help us survive it. Guterl’s riveting book is a grand and necessary thought experiment, not merely a scary story, but a fresh perspective on the world we’re remaking, and a route to safe harbor.

Title & Cover: I dunno. Too whitish. It does convey the idea of the book though. Sort of.
Story: What may be the likeliest causes of the end of (most) life? A broad spectrum with a heavy emphasis on technology as a reason.
Narrative: Colloquial, down to earth, with amusing undertones.
Characters: Humanity.
Thoughts: For once a book on how it may all end one day which is not flashy and filled of apocalyptic foreboding. Yet the content, while interesting and provocative, isn't all that well balanced.

Review - The 13th Tribe (Robert Liparulo)

Immortals from the time of Moses roam the earth on a quest for justice . . . and heaven.
One man stands in their way.
In 1476 BC, the Israelites turned their backs on the One True God by worshipping a golden calf. For their transgression, forty were cursed to walk the earth forever. Banished from their people, they formed their own tribe, The 13th Tribe.
Now, three and a half millennia later, the remnant of this Tribe continues to seek redemption through vigilante justice-goaded by dark forces in the spiritual realm. They are planning a bold strike modeled on the Israelites' conquest of Canaan: the complete destruction of a major city-only now, they possess the horrific technology of modern weapons to ensure their success.
Jagger Baird is a husband and father…and security guard of an archaeological dig at the base of Mount Siani. Jagger suddenly finds himself in a fight for the future as he discovers the Tribe's plans. But to win this fight, he must overcome his own struggles with faith and self-worth - as well as his anger at God for a past tragedy.
This taut thriller by acclaimed novelist Robert Liparulo fuses tomorrow's technology with faith and non-stop action for a supernatural suspense novel unlike any other.

Drawing a unique picture of the events that transpired when Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, Robert Liparulo's novel The 13th Tribe presents a thrilling premise which merges biblical history with modern technology.
Jagger, still recovering from an accident which left him with an artificial arm, is suddenly thrown into the fight of Immortals, the 13th Tribe, who are trying to appease God by punishing sinners, thus trying to earn forgiveness and consequently mortality again.
Of course an intriguing plot isn't enough to make a novel stand out. On one hand the whole story is quite absorbing, on the other suspense isn't building all that much which I blame on the narration not being as fast-paced as it would have deserved. The characters had lots of potential, yet were a bit two-dimensional apart from the main character Jagger. Add that I could see the twist towards the end of the book a mile away and I wasn't all that happy about the route the author was taking with it. On the bright side, I loved the revelation on the last page, admittedly making me curious about the sequel of the Immortal Files series.
Last but not least, I want to point out that this is indeed Christian fiction, yet in no way a preachy novel, though Belief and God obviously do play an important role in the book.
In short: If you have a soft spot for religious-themed thrillers, give it a go!

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.

April 21, 2012

Pajama Musings - To Kindle or not to Kindle?

Yesterday the new Kindle Touch became available on Amazon Germany. I know what you're going to say now ... new?!? Yeah, well it is at least where I live, and I am well aware that in other parts of the world the new thing would be the Kindle Fire, but anyway.

The thing is this. I do own an eReader. One of those no-name thingys that has served me well in the past. The reason I bought it in the first place was for all those eGalleys, because let's face it, reading on the computer screen is hard on the eyes and it's not as comfy as lounging on the bed either. As the months moved on I realized I'm quite an eBook hoarder and thanks to many tempting free eBook downloads my eReader got plenty to chew on. Did I actually buy any eBooks? Yep, late last year I finally did and bought the whooping number of three eBooks on Smashwords.

Now with my book buying ban I obviously don't buy any books, physical or otherwise. Still, I did browse around on TBD and I noticed something that really annoyed me. No matter which eBook I looked up on TBD - it wasn't available. I have no idea whether this has got to do with where I live or whether it's just my darn luck that I only want what I apparently can't have (there are other eBooks available, of course, just none I'd like to have).

Now let's get to the bottom of it all. My eReader is one of those that thrive on epub's and pdf's. While it's wonderful that TBD offers those formats, it'd be very helpful if it also offered certain "currently unavailable" eBooks *grumbles*. Alas it does not, so I pushed the whole idea aside, which wasn't too bad anyway with my book buying ban still in action.

Copyright by Amazon

Then I made the terrible mistake of going to Amazon. Just looking for some DVDs, you know. What did I see? The announcement of the new Kindle Touch, woohoo! And with this woohoo came that nagging voice that whispered, "I know you want me! Come get me!" I'm sure you're familiar with that voice and its alluring charm.

Next thing I know, I'm checking out the features of the eReader. And while I was at it I also looked up those unavailable eBooks. And what did I see? The land of plenty, that is what! And the prices! Ohhh ... can you say bargain? Woohoo! Again.

Then I heard it. The voice of reason. It wasn't exactly as loud as the aforementioned woohoo voice, but after a while it did catch my attention. I remembered that after the Amazon Kindle the Barnes & Nobles Nook is the next big thing and apparently they use the epub formats (please correct me if I'm wrong). So I headed over and checked for the books I have an eye on and what did I see?

No woohoo, sorry folks! Available? Yes. Bargain? Not really. I compared a few different books and they are all 25% cheaper on Amazon. Alrighty! And, yes I am aware that the Kindle would be an additional investment, but can you say Kindle Daily Deal? Yeah, baby!

I'm kinda running in circles in today's blog post, but what it all boils down to is one question. Is it crazy to own two eReaders? I know I knooow ... I once said I'd boycott the Kindle as long as you cannot read epub's on it, but now that I've seen the Kindle Touch and the great prices for eBooks on Amazon I want one, boohoohoo! Big dilemma. How to solve it?

This is where y'all come in with hopefully plenty of good advice!

April 20, 2012

Book 101 - Science Fiction

If you haven't noticed by now - science fiction is one of my favorite genres. I know many don't like it associating it with star ships flying through the universe, but the genre is so much more than that.

I really like Rod Serling's definition, "Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible." Basically science fiction is a genre that deals with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities.

Copyright by Winston Science Fiction (Alex Shomburg)

As a means of understanding the world through speculation and storytelling, science fiction has a background in mythology and precursors of the genre can already be found in Lucian's True History which dates back to 200AD. Not surprisingly science fiction is often called a literature of ideas. Its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically postulated laws of nature though some elements in a story may also be strictly imaginative speculation. And it's usually the perfect balance between established facts and fictitious elements, a blending of the known and the unknown, that makes a great science fiction novel.

Science fiction elements are many-fold including eg a time setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history, a setting in outer space or on other worlds, characters like aliens, mutants, androids, or humanoid robots, a futuristic technology, scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature, eg time travel or faster-than-light travel, different political or social systems (dystopia, anyone?) or a post-apocalyptic setting, and even paranormal abilities such as mind control, telepathy, or teleportation.

Science fiction has plenty of sub genres. Genres concerning the emphasis, accuracy, and type of science described are Hard Science Fiction (a particular emphasis on scientific detail), Soft Science Fiction (focus on human characters and their relations and feelings instead of the details of technology), and Social Science Fiction (concerned with sociological speculation about human society). Themes related to science, technology, space and the future, as well as characteristic plots or settings include Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic, Steampunk, Time Travel, and Space Opera, to name but a few.

How about you? Science fiction yay or nay? Any preferred sub genres? Dystopia, maybe? Let me know.

April 18, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - Lists of Bests

Who doesn't like lists? Well, some might not, but I sure do!
On Lists of Bests you can create and find lists of products, places, goals and people. And books, of course. Basically you will be able to find/create three types of lists here.

Personal list - A personal list that can only be edited by you. Other people can take inspiration from your list (eg My 10 favorite Dublin Pubs) and copy the list for their own use, but only you can edit your version of the list.
Definitive List - These are pretty much set in stone. Examples are Rolling Stone’s "Readers 100" (a list of public record) or the 50 States of the USA (a factual list).
Award List - This is an annual awards list by a credible source. Examples include Booker Prize Winners, Academy Award’s "Best Picture" and "Album of the Year" Grammy Award Winners.

While the Personal Lists may be quite entertaining, I think it's great to just have a place to check out those Definite Lists and Award Lists (no matter whether it's about books or any other topic).

Want a taste?
Nebula Award Winner of 1984? Neuromancer (William Gibson)
Bram Stoker Awards Winner of 1996? The Green Mile (Stephen King)
Pulitzer Prize for General Non Fiction of 1969? The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History (Normal Mailer)
Tony Award for Best Play Winner of 1953? The Crucible (Arthur Miller)To name but a few.

Then there are the "real" lists, eg Random House Modern Library's "100 Best Books of the 20th Century: Fiction (Reader's List)" or 500 Great Books by Women (taken from: 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide by Erica Bauermeister, Jesse Larsen, & Holly Smith).

A lot of these lists are, in fact, community lists which means that you can contribute, edit, or help maintain them. Despite some lists not always being up to date, with eg latest winner not yet entered, this site is generally a wonderful source for book-aholics, or shall I say, list-aholics?

April 17, 2012

Quote Garden - Making Money

Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.
Stephen King

Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.
Virginia Woolf

Writers don't make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don't work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck's book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man's stupid words. And for this, as I said, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more.
Donald Miller

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
Jules Renard

The writer's life: Hard days, lots of work, no money, too much silence. Nobody's fault. You chose it.
Bill Barich

2 by 2 Giveaway Winner

The lucky winner of the April 2 by 2 Giveaway is
who picked the book The Cube: Keep The Secret!

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

April 16, 2012

A Writer's Life - Oh the fun to be had!

Take a well educated guess where yours truly will be in five months from now ...

Alright, let me give you a hint!

Of course this could mean pretty much anything. 
Fifty states to choose from. 
So let's narrow it down, shall we?

Ha, I tricked you!
It's not one of the fifty states.
In fact, it's not even a state.
It's a world ...
... Disney World!

So now that we've established where I'll be going
how about spilling the Mickey Mouse shaped beans of 
what I'll be doing there?

Having fun, of course!
And doing some serious damage at Outlet Malls too.

And that's not all!
On the contrary!!

I'll be meeting a very dear friend of mine ...
... I introduce you to Amy!

(Amy is also the clue to how this post relates to my life as a writer - she's not only a friend but quite frequently referred to as "the editor" on my blog)

In case you're wondering ...
... Amy is the one behind the camera!
This is Cobalt, one of her fur babies
and by the looks of it, a beagle with an attitude!

April 15, 2012

In My Mailbox - One

Suffice it to say that I'm stalking my poor mailman these days as I'm waiting for several books for review from publishers. To make things worse, NetGalley requests take close to forever to be approved. Long story short, I'm running low on review books. You probably know how the story will end - now I'm complaining about a lack or books, and next week I might moan because they all rolled in at once and I'll have no idea just where to start. Ah, the life of book reviewing!

On the brighter side, I've been surprised by a book in my mailbox which I've won in a local giveaway, woohoo! And because one book alone would make for a boring photo, I also have to share the gift I received with my latest tea order - teapot napkin rings! Are they cute or what?

Tatort Kaffeehaus (Edith Kneifl)

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

The Reading Files - Taking it slow (again)

Oh to read! And yet another week of taking it slow. This time I can't even blame it on no new books in my mailbox, because finally after a little drought, I did receive a book I've won in a local giveaway. More about this later ...

The Knife Of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness)
#1 Chaos Walking
Source: bought used
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Dystopia

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

Title & Cover: Love the attention to detail (for which you'll have to look closely) with the "Noise" reflected in a subdued print all over the cover.
Story: Imagine a world where everyone can hear the other's thoughts. Imagine there is something horrible that separates boys from men.
Narrative: POV similar to Blood Red Road, but not quite as intense (grammatically speaking).
Characters: I was fond of Todd immediately, while Viola took a while to grow on me. And I just adore Manchee!
Thoughts: Manchee ... nooooo!!! And does this Aaron ever die or what!? A fantastic and gripping tale - definitely one of the better dystopian novels out there!

The 13th Tribe (Robert Liparulo)
#1 Immortal Files
Source: BookSneeze
Genre: Thriller / Christian

Immortals from the time of Moses roam the earth on a quest for justice . . . and heaven.
One man stands in their way.
In 1476 BC, the Israelites turned their backs on the One True God by worshipping a golden calf. For their transgression, forty were cursed to walk the earth forever. Banished from their people, they formed their own tribe, The 13th Tribe.
Now, three and a half millennia later, the remnant of this Tribe continues to seek redemption through vigilante justice-goaded by dark forces in the spiritual realm. They are planning a bold strike modeled on the Israelites' conquest of Canaan: the complete destruction of a major city-only now, they possess the horrific technology of modern weapons to ensure their success.
Jagger Baird is a husband and father…and security guard of an archaeological dig at the base of Mount Siani. Jagger suddenly finds himself in a fight for the future as he discovers the Tribe's plans. But to win this fight, he must overcome his own struggles with faith and self-worth - as well as his anger at God for a past tragedy.
This taut thriller by acclaimed novelist Robert Liparulo fuses tomorrow's technology with faith and non-stop action for a supernatural suspense novel unlike any other.

Title & Cover: The "invisible" guy doesn't make much sense unless you see the connection in the book. Either way, terrible cover!
Story: A family caught up in the work of destruction by the mysterious 13th Tribe which is trying to appease God by "punishing" sinners.
Narrative: Not as fast paced as the plot would deserve, but smoothly written.
Characters: Interesting, yet a bit two dimensional!
Thoughts: Fascinating idea, but pretty much a run-of-the-mill implementation. Unfortunately I expected the twist at the end a mile away. For me, personally, it was just an average read, but if you like religious themed thrillers, I say give it a try.

Review - Debt: The First 5.000 Years (David Graeber)

Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it.
Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.
Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.
Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.

If you think being in debt is something we invented in our modern time which for many people consists of spending money they don't have on things they don't need, guess again. In his book Debt: The First 5.000 Years David Graeber presents a both fascinating and informative study on what debt is. What might be a bit surprising to some is how this isn't a dry survey based on economics and finances, but instead an approach which was immediately to my liking. It is already evident from the title, that the author offers a historical perspective, but he also takes the anthropological route.
It needs time, and many pages, to write a concise survey on a topic like this, and the book does not disappoint in that regard. Unraveling the workings behind what it means to be a debtor and creditor in the broadest sense, along with many colorful examples, this part is deeply interesting, but unfortunately also really long winded. This first half of the book, which concentrates on what debt actually is, how we relate to possessions, and the author's concept of human economies, could have used some streamlining in my opinion. The second part, focuses on the global history of debt and offers a balanced view, broaching the topics of financial systems and economic order, and finishes with a thought-provoking conclusion, "What is debt, anyway? A debt is just the perversion of a promise."
In short: Debt through the eyes of an anthropologist!

4/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

April 14, 2012

2 by 2 Giveaway

Welcome to the April edition of the 2 by 2 Giveaway on my blog!

 the mind.

Kokology: The Game of Self-Discovery (Tadahiko Nagao)
The Cube: Keep the Secret (Annie Gottlieb)

Once this post goes live you have two days (48 hours) to enter by telling me which of the two books you'd like to win and don't forget to leave your e-mail address so I may contact you in case you're the winner.
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

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

One winner will be picked through random.org on April 17th 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.

Pajama Musings - If only ...

... I lived in Ohio then I could not only meet up with dear Amy for a chat over tea and cake, I could also enter oh so many giveaways that are strictly US only.

But today's post isn't about the much discussed topic of how it sucks when you stumble upon a fantastic giveaway that makes you drool and then you see in the small print that it's US only. There is a whole different side to this. The side of those who give a book away.

The authors' side.

Many authors out there will give away books either in contests on their own websites or sometimes they are guests on blogs and you can win a copy of their books there. Great PR. Happy readers. Happy authors.

With most English language authors living in the US (which isn't much of a surprise if you consider the size of the country compared to say, the UK, which also has its fair share of authors though in a much smaller number) and the undoubtedly huge US readership, it's obviously no biggie to exclude the rest of the world. But *surprise* this "rest of the world" has lots of avid readers who love US authors as much as anyone who actually lives there.

Hmmm ... does that last paragraph mean that I'm now openly bashing US authors who're not willing to share the bookish love with the whole world?


We all know how expensive it is to send books overseas, so I'm certainly not going to blame any author for doing giveaways restricted to US only. Usually it will cost you more in postage to send one paperback than simply ordering a copy through TBD (which, once again, makes me wonder how TBD manages the whole free-shipping thing, but I digress).

How about taking a look at UK or Australian authors now? Sure, I've seen a selected few who will do national giveaways only, but most of them take the big leap. Let's say you are an Australian author and your target audience is teenagers who love paranormal books, well, you might want to risk a look across the borders, right? If you're a Scottish author who published a book on sheep herding in the Highlands, well, your target audience might be literally just around the corner and not a ten-hours-flight across the big pond away. I guess you know what I'm getting at here.

If you're an author that doesn't happen to reside in the US and you go on a blog tour, or you're just doing an interview here and a guest post there on various blogs, chances are that you'll stop by an US blogger or two somewhere along the way. Blog reader stats will inevitably vary from one blog to another, but whenever I've seen US bloggers share some stats it becomes very clear that at least 50% (if not a whole lot more) will be US followers. Would you tell the blogger that you'd love to offer a copy of your book in a giveaway for eg Australia only? I think not. You'd go all the way and do it internationally, because from where you're standing it doesn't make a difference whether you send a book to Iowa of Belgium.

So what on Earth am I getting at with this post?

To me it seems, there is a whole lot more pressure on non-US authors who write in the English language than those who are living in the US. While it may be enough for an US author to keep their whole PR efforts within US borders, it's not that wise of non-US authors to do the same in their own home country. And of course, this isn't only about the giveaways I've been rambling on about above, but those are definitely a symptom.

What are your thoughts on all of this? Have you noticed giveaways being almost always open worldwide if the author is living in a country other than the US while at the same time US authors will restrict their giveaways to US only in about half the cases?

Do you think that non-US authors (writing in English) have picked the short straw as far as geography goes? I'm thinking attending book fairs and book signings and everything else that screams PR.

Last but not least, if you're an author, no matter if you're from the US or non-US, what is your take on all of this?

April 13, 2012

Book 101 - Calligraphy

Oh to write! Oh to write beautifully!
Calligraphy is often called the art of fancy lettering. The word "calligraphy" itself is derived from the Greek words "killi" and "graphos", which means "beautiful writing".

Combining aestethics with technical skills, a calligrapher strives to express harmony and emotion through the forms of letters. Even if you do not understand the actual translation of the calligraphic word, you are instantly drawn to the beautiful art of the letter forms. This art certainly has never been exclusive to just one geographical region, and you may find historical documents/books/etc where calligraphy has been used everywhere from Asia to the Islamic World and of course also in European countries. I don't intend to bore you with all the history of the many regions but take a look at the present day.

The first thing that might come to mind for most is how calligraphy has now developed into a hobby while centuries ago it was certainly seen as art form. Of course it is still art, as much as watercolor paintings are, though it seems that only few put calligraphy onto the same level as far as art is concerned. Either way, calligraphy still continues to flourish, be it in the forms of wedding and event invitations and original hand-lettered logo design, or religious art and memorial documents.

Copyright by Ken Fraser

Typically you'll think of the good old times whenever you lay eyes on a book that has calligraphy in it, but the charm of this "beautiful writing" is hardly lost in "new" documents. Obviously many are drawn to the aesthetic beauty of it, no matter whether they gingerly browse through an old time from the 17th century or hold a wedding invitation from a cousin in their hands. Personally I think this is such a lovely art and tradition too, and it's good to see that it didn't get lost through the centuries, despite now being more a pastime than a serious art form.

Anyone out there who's tried themselves on calligraphy? With my own horrible scrawl I admittedly shudder at the thought. Fear of failing, I guess. Then again, who says a painter needs to have perfect handwriting? And this is (almost) the same thing. Or maybe not.

Anyway, if you've tried yourself on it or maybe studied the history of calligraphy or even own some old books with calligraphy in it, feel free to share!

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop Winner

I know I know ... you can hardly wait to find out who's won a piece from the Hunger Games collection from Pretty Little Charms. Hang in there for another minute, because I 'd first like to share another result with you.

Remember the question I asked in the giveaway form? Gale or Peeta or both, *wink*?
There were a total of 304 entries in the giveaway and 13% went for Gale vs 48% for Peeta. Notice how this doesn't quite add up to 100%? Well, a whole lot of you couldn't quite make up their minds and boldly went for both. Can't say I blame you!

The lucky winner of the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop is
#137 Zara Alexis @ A Bibliotaphe's Closet
who has won a piece of choice from The Hunger Games collection!!

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

Didn't win? Remember, Leigh is still offering 15%-OFF in her shop - just use the coupon code HUNGERGAMES when checking out! The coupon will be valid until further notice, but if I were you I wouldn't wait too long, because the fantastic jewelry is going fast!

April 11, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - The Color Of

You know how I always dig up all kinds of neat little websites that no one really needs but which are so much fun to spend time on? Here's yet another one that invites you to play. Granted, it's not exactly book related. Unless you want it to be, of course.

The color of is a system created to find out the color of anything, by using and combining image data from Flickr. This beta feature implements an averaging algorithm on the colour pixel values of the images, displaying the result incrementally as each picture is loaded.

And will grass be green? Will blue be blue? Actually, yes. So how about more abstract search terms?

What about books?

Or a particular novel?

And your name?

Fun? Oh yes. And perfect for those moments when you're utterly bored.