February 27, 2012

1.000 Followers Giveaway

I still remember how excited I was when I first hit the 50 followers mark. A slow trickle that soon developed into a gushing river. And today? I'm still as excited to see new faces reading my blog. Not as though I'd actually see those faces hovering around my computer screen when I go to my blog (now that'd be scary), instead I rely on good old GFC to tell me good news like this!

Long story short - I've passed the 1.000 followers hurdle and it's time to say thank you to everyone out there for stalking me and my bookish passion. Now what would be a good way to celebrate this milestone? Let me think ...

... how about a giveaway?

*cheerful woohoo's and thundering applause*

There will be two winners - as I want to spread my love equally there will be one winner from the US who'll receive an Amazon Giftcard worth $25,00 and one international winner who'll get their choice of books worth up to $25,00 from The Book Depository!
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

All you have to do is fill out the form!
This giveaway is now closed!

Yep, first time I'm actually not going for the good old leave-a-comment method and I'd like to blame Blogger for this. Since they implemented the admittedly wonderful option of directly replying to comments I haven't been able to get the whole numbered-comments-thingy to work again *sigh*. The last giveaway hop nearly killed me as I counted three times to be sure about having the correct winner. Anyway, form it is, but comments filled with cheering and woohoo's are very much appreciated too!

Rules
Comments do not count as entries - you must fill out the form!
For this particular giveaway following my blog is obviously mandatory, after all it is thanks to my followers that I'm having it. That said, you must be a follower of my blog! You may follow through your preferred channels such as GFC, Networked Blogs, Bloglovin', Linky Followers, Goodreads, RSS feed or by e-mail.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
The giveaway is open from February 27th through March 7th - two winners will be picked through random.org on March 8th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winners will have 48 hours to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

February 25, 2012

2 by 2 Giveaway Winner

The lucky winner of the February 2 by 2 Giveaway is
Susan @ The Book Bag
who picked the book The Complete Book Of Hugs!

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

February 22, 2012

2 by 2 Giveaway

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

Two things everyone needs?
Hugs and love, of course!
And chocolate too, but I digress.

The Complete Book Of Hugs (Ricky Friedel)
The Simple Truth About Love (Bradley Trevor Greive)

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.

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 February 25th 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.

February 20, 2012

Hiatus (sort of)

After giving this some extensive thought, I've decided to take off the next four weeks and subject you all to my blog's first hiatus ever. The reason for this is that I've felt pretty much drained of energy lately and I need a little bit more me-time. One week just won't cut it, two weeks might not quite get me back into a more energetic state, and while three weeks oughta get the job done I'm adding week number four to be on the safe side.

And I'm not completely gone anyway. Old habits (also known as daily blogging) die hard and so I will at least stop by on Sundays to share what I read during the week and if there've been some book-shaped goodies in the mail I'll post about those too.

On a different note. I've already scheduled a few posts for the next couple of weeks. Not "real" posts, but interesting enough to make you want to stop by. First of all there will be the February and March editions of the 2 by 2 Giveaway. Secondly I'll squeeze in the next Old Books in need of a New Home post during those four weeks as well. Thirdly I'll participate in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop which will run from March 17th through March 22nd.
Last but not least, as some of you might have noticed, I passed the 1.000 followers mark just recently which translates into a wee little celebration, or shall I say the 1.000 Followers Giveaway? That one'll be coming up on February 27th.

Everything will be back to its usual schedule on March 19th!

February 19, 2012

In My Mailbox - Here we go (again)

Well, what do you know? Food for my starving mailbox, yay! And I'm especially happy and thrilled about a gift I received from a dear friend *doing the happy dance*.

Gifted
Complete Stories (Dorothy Parker)
from Ally

For Review
Triumph Of The City (Edward Glaeser)

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

The Reading Files - Novella Time

This past week has been solely dedicated to novellas. The reason? Apart from the wonderful feeling of scratching seven books from my unread books list I'm very proud for finally getting started on books from last year's free eBook hoarding.
The following books are all from Carina Press, which basically means they all offer a whole lot of romance. Who am I kidding? We're talking more like Erotica, in most cases anyway.

The Sevenfold Spell (Tia Nevitt)
eBook
Source: free
Genre: Fantasy Romance

Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?
Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying "good" fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.
Not every young lady has a fairy godmother rushing to her rescue.
Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia's prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation--which plays right into the evil fairy's diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she's willing to make?

Title & Cover: Lovely and perfect for the story!
Story: A whole new take on the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty!
Narrative: Bubbly and even a wee bit silly, but in a good way!
Characters: These characters are a wonderful crossover of your typical fairy tale cast and people you probably know in real life.
Thoughts: The first couple pages made me wonder where this story was going, but then I couldn't help but continue reading (and giggling for that matter). Definitely an unusual fairy tale retelling and oh so much fun!


Photographs & Phantoms (Cindy Spencer Pape)
#1.5 Gaslight Chronicles
eBook
Source: free
Genre: Paranormal Romance

As a member of the Order of the Round Table, Kendall Lake is overqualified to be investigating strange phenomena at a seaside photography studio. But since the photographer is related to the Order's most powerful sorcerer, Kendall reluctantly boards a dirigible to Brighton.
Amy Deland is haunted by a shadow that appears in some of her recent portraits. In each case, the subject died within days of the sitting. Does she have her grandmother's gift of foresight, or has she somehow caused the deaths?
As Kendall and Amy search for answers, their investigation draws them together in a most improper way—but it seems the evil presence in the studio is determined to keep them apart ...


Title & Cover: Good one! Love the color theme!
Story: Photographs show a demon killing people. Whodunit with a paranormal touch.
Narrative: Your average read - not overly thrilling, not boring either.
Characters: The characters certainly have potential, but alas it's a short book, so ...
Thoughts: Actually more of a long short story than an actual novella this was quite an enjoyable read. Yet I could have seriously done without the whole romance thing as it felt more shoehorned into the plot than actually belonging there.


The Debutante's Dilemma (Elyse Mady)
eBook
Source: free
Genre: Historical Romance

One woman in search of passion
Miss Cecilia Hastings has achieved what every young lady hopes for during her first London season…in duplicate! She’s caught the eye of not one but two of England’s most eligible bachelors. Both Jeremy Battersley, Earl of Henley, and Richard Huxley, Duke of Wexford are handsome, wealthy and kind, the epitome of proper gentlemen. But Cecelia doesn’t want proper, she wants passion. So she issues a challenge to her suitors: a kiss, so that she may choose between them.
Two men in love with the same woman
Friends since childhood, and compatriots on the battlefields of Spain, falling for the same woman has set Jeremy and Richard at odds, and risks destroying their friendship forever. But a surprising invitation to a late-night garden tryst soon sets them on a course that neither of them could have anticipated. And these gentlemen quickly discover that love can take many forms …

Title & Cover: Innocent girl with a naughty streak? The cover says it all.
Story: Girl can't choose between two suitors and ... chooses both. Okaaay!
Narrative: I really loved the eloquent writing (despite sometimes feeling the need to get out the dictionary) - yep, I recognize talent when I see it!
Characters: Uhm alright, they weren't bad, but frankly this little book lives off the hot scenes if you know what I mean *wink*.
Thoughts: To be honest, there's not much of a story here, then again this is a very short book. If you like well written steamy stories, I say go for it.


The Twisted Tale Of Stormy Gale (Christine Bell)
eBook
Source: free
Genre: Steampunk Romance

I'm a time pirate—born in 1810, now a 21st-century woman. I travel through time trying to right wrongs without disrupting the fragile balance between what is and what can never be.
That's why it's vital that I go to 1836 and find the man who conned my brother out of his Time Travel Mechanism as quickly as possible. If the technology falls into the wrong hands, it could change the world as we know it. The notorious Duke of Leister definitely qualifies as the wrong hands. An amateur scientist of the slightly mad variety, he's bound to figure out how to use the TTM sooner rather than later.
I knew this wouldn't be easy. But I wasn't counting on him being as sexy as hell. Or winding up chained to his bed …

Title & Cover: Neat cover, yet what's up with that title?
Story: Time travel with a twist (which might explain the title after all).
Narrative: Light but witty!
Characters: I'm having a hard time judging characters in such short books, argh!
Thoughts: As a novella it was an ok read, yet I really see this one working as a full fledged novel. The right ingredients are definitely there.


Blue Galaxy (Diane Dooley)
eBook
Source: free
Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Falling in love is easy; staying alive long enough to enjoy it just might be impossible.
Javan Rhodes, the hard-drinking, disreputable captain of space freighter The Kypris, took a mission to save himself from hitting the bottom of the food chain. Transporting Sola, a beautiful young aristocrat, from Earth to an unknown destination on the outer rim of the colonies is lucrative, but also highly illegal.
As tough as it is to evade both the law and the lawless, the hardest part of the job is not falling in love with his irresistible cargo. Just as he decides that he will never be able to hand her over to the warlord she must marry, he discovers that Sola has been playing a very dangerous game--one that could not only cost them their lives, but could also affect the balance of power in an increasingly dangerous universe.

Title & Cover: Ewww ... that cover is definitely a turn-off!
Story: Captain transports some sexy cargo which isn't at all what she seems.
Narrative: Maybe not awful, but pretty darn close.
Characters: Let me introduce you to a dumb-thinking-with-his-you-know-what captain and a psychopathic-super-sexy cargo, uhm, heroine.
Thoughts: Where do I begin? Alright then. The idea itself isn't all that bad, but ... oh never mind.


Demon's Fall (Karalynn Lee)
eBook
Source: free
Genre: Paranormal Romance

When Kenan, an incubus, finds a caged angel for sale in the Hellsgate marketplace, he sees her as a challenge. Certain that his skills in seduction will work as well on a heavenly creature as they do on mortal women, he buys Jahel, intent on having her soul as a novelty in his collection.
Knowing he must gain Jahel's trust if she is to come to his bed willingly, Kenan treats her more as his guest than as his slave. When she reveals what brought her to the mouth of Hell in the first place-retrieving the soul of a young girl she was guarding-he even offers to help her complete her mission.
Though he has promised Jahel freedom, Kenan soon realizes she has captured his heart instead. And as their passion for one another grows, they find themselves caught in a struggle between Heaven and Hell, one that will lead them to the very edge of the apocalypse ...

Title & Cover: Beautiful and works great with the blue monochromatic color scheme!
Story: Incubus wants to steal an angel's soul and instead falls in love with her.
Narrative: Fast paced and well written. Pulled me right into the story.
Characters: This could have been a total black & white thing, but it's not, yay!
Thoughts: Loved the world building of this one and could well imagine more stories in this setting. And what a sweet HEA!


Friendly Fire (Megan Hart)
eBook
Source: free
Genre: Contemporary Romance

After Agent Kendall Frasier's partner is shot in "friendly fire" during a drug bust, she agrees to take a week's vacation on a tropical island as part of her psychiatric evaluation. Sand, sun, sea--what could be better to help her work through her guilt? Even if the presence of the man responsible for the shooting, Agent Zane Vincent, seems counterproductive to her mental health.
As Kendall gets to know Zane, and realizes he feels worse about what happened than she does, it becomes impossible to hate him. And their mutual attraction becomes impossible to deny.
Kendall and Zane soon agree to put the event that brought them together in the past--and spend the present exploring their most erotic desires. Do they have a future in the real world when their week in paradise is over?

Title & Cover: A man's chest, no matter how nice it may be to look at, doesn't translate into great cover art. This one's just so, well, bland!
Story: In the aftermath of a shooting, the two affected agents come to terms with what happened and get to know each other, uhm, a little bit better too.
Narrative: A quick, sexy read!
Characters: Short and romance and complex characters do go together after all.
Thoughts: I just realized this is the only contemporary story I read in this novella haul and it proves how even shorter books (alright, let's call it more of a long short story again) can have well devised characters and an actual plot which is something that not even full novels don't always have.

February 18, 2012

Pajama Musings - They didn't always used to sparkle

Apropos of nothing (alright then, slightly inspired by a recent Buffy TV marathon) I started pondering the question why I've never gone for the Twilight books (or movies for that matter). It's not as though I'd be totally averse to the genre in general or vampires in particular. So why then do I still thoroughly enjoy some blood sucking brain candy and not the lovely dovey sparkling kind?

Here's the answer ...

Sparkle free since 1997!

To be fair though ...

... those werewolves leave something to be desired in the Buffy-verse.

February 17, 2012

Book 101 - The oldest books in the world

When you think of old books what's the first thing (or rather book) that comes to mind? Those old hardbacks you've stored in the basement or maybe your grandparent's old tomes? Maybe you think Shakespeare or even the Bible, but books (or more precisely, writings in general) go way back longer than that.

The earliest examples of literature date from 2600 BC, during the early Bronze Age. Examples from these early writings are often found inscribed on clay tablets, and needless to say, the language used is very different from modern Western languages. Ultimately these oldest books represent the cultural heritage of us all.

Let me introduce you to the twenty oldest writings in the world - Sumerian, Akkadian and Egyptian. Some you might have heard of, others will be as new to you as they were to me.

Instructions of Shuruppak: Representing what is known as Sumerian wisdom literature, the Instructions of Shuruppak was meant to teach virtue and community standards.
Code of Urukagina: This is a book of law. The rules in the Code of Uruagina were part of an effort to combat the corruption under a previous ruler.
Epic of Gilgamesh: You’ve probably heard of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh - and if not, shame on you - following the exploits of this great hero.
Curse of Agade: Tells the story of the fall of the Akkadian empire, due to the cursing of the king, Agade.
The Debate Between Bird and Fish: A philosophical essay, postulating a debate between a bird and a fish. A number of these literary essays exist in Sumerian literature.
Code of Ur-Nammu: Pre-dating the Code of Hammurabi by three centuries, the Code of Ur-Nammu has the most complete set of laws of old books.
Lament for Ur: When the great Sumerian city of Ur fell to the Elamites, the literary Lament for Ur was written to express the sorrow of the patron goddess of the city.
Enmerkar and the Lord of Arrata: A great, legendary account of the conflict between two great kings. Many scholars have drawn parallels between some of the themes in Enmerkar and the Lord of Arrata and the Tower of Babel story.
Legend of Etana: Interestingly, the Legend of Etana tells the story of the Sumerian king Kish, and how he obtains a son with the help of Eagle - and what happens after.
Enheduanna’s Hymns: An example of women in early literature are the hymns of the priestess Enheduanna, an important woman in Ur.
Laws of Eshnunna: The city state of Eshnunna had its own set of laws. There are differences between the laws in this book, and the famous Code of Hammurabi, are instructive about the development of law in ancient times.
Epic of Gilgamesh: This made it to the list twice. Why? Because the Akkadians, centuries after the first stories of Gilgamesh were told, fashioned the stories into one of the earliest examples of epic poetry.
Kultepe Texts: These texts represent some of the first writings found in Anatolia. The Kultepe Texts include Histories of rebellions against the Akkadians.
Enuma Elish: The Akkadian creation epic, the Enuma Elish, can help you understand the Babylonian worldview.
Atra-Hasis: Tablets containing the Atra-Hasis contain an account of how the humans came to be, as well as an account of the Great Flood.
Pyramid Texts: You’ve probably heard of the Pyramid Texts. These prove that a book can even be inscribed on the walls of an edifice.
Palermo Stone: Chronicles the rise of legendary rulers before the god Horus. The Palermo Stone is an example of legendary history.
Maxims of Ptahhotep: This ancient text, a literary work ascribed to the ruler Ptahhotep, sets out proper rules governing human relationships.
Coffin Texts: The coffin texts, written on (as you might expect) coffins, provide a look at the evolving Egyptian view of the afterlife.
Story of Sinuhe: Perhaps one of the finest examples of Egyptian literature - or any literature -the Story of Sinuhe offers a moving story of divinity and mercy and other universal themes.

February 15, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - Fiction Factor


Today I have an interesting site for all those writers out there. Fiction Factor - The Online Magazine for Fiction Writers. Every month the site features tips on writing better fiction, articles on improving your writing, tips on fiction writing, learn to write a novel and get stories published, promoting and marketing your fiction and much more! To stay in the loop off the latest articles you can subscribe to the free newsletter, but of course you may also browse the archives for older articles.

Fiction Factor was one of the first websites dedicated solely to the craft of writing fiction at a time when those were still rare in the web. Twelve years have passed and what remains are a whole lot of tips and tricks for writers of all kinds, yet the site itself, as I sadly had to find out while browsing through it, hasn't seen much action in recent years. Yet, despite its derelict state, you may obviously still find bucket loads full of writing tips.
There is also a forum which is still going (relatively) strong. Here you may join discussions, peruse writer's resources, and get creative in the writer's workshop.

Fiction Factor is also the home to 9 sister sites, each focusing on a specific fiction writing niche. Here you'll find descriptions of and links to Romance Factor, Sci-Fi Factor, Horror Factor, Fantasy Factor, Erotica Factor, Short-Fiction Factor, Children's Fiction Factor, Freelance Factor and Christian Fiction Factor.

Follower Love Giveaway Hop Winner

The lucky winner of the Follower Love Giveaway Hop is
who has won a $15,00 Amazon GC or a book of choice from The Book Depository!

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

February 14, 2012

Quote Garden - Just remember, when you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed

I think I've discovered the secret of life -- you just hang around until you get used to it.

All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed.
For after all, he was only human. He wasn't a dog.

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, "Why me?", then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.

There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people... Religion, Politics, and The Great Pumpkin.

By Charles M. Schulz

February 13, 2012

A Writer's Life - Commandments

This one has already been making its rounds on Facebook lately and I felt the need to share with my readers as well. Actually I don't think this is only good advice for writers, but for other occupations too. Though I bet No. 6 might confuse those who're working for the Mafia *cough*.

February 12, 2012

The Reading Files - Brave New World

You certainly know the phenomenon of wanting to have certain books straight away and once you have 'em they end up spending substantial amounts of time on your TBR piles. Being too lazy to dust off one particular towering pile, where I've stacked all kinds of dystopian books, I did the next best thing. Pick them up, and read.

Enclave (Ann Aguirre)
#1 Razorland
hardcover
Source: gifted
Genre: YA Dystopia / Post-Apocalyptic

In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.
As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.
Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.
As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

Title & Cover: Mehhh!
Story: Born into a world with strict rules, Deuce is outcast and soon finds herself in a strange world above ground where her battle for life continues.
Narrative: Gripping!
Characters: I liked Deuce as she's a real kick-ass heroine, and Fade really grew on my too. Everyone else sadly remains quite one-dimensional.
Thoughts: Captivating premise, yet the book lacks detail and depth! So much potential but due to its shortness it remains flat and unsubstantial which is a real shame.


Ashes (Ilsa J. Bick)
#1 Ashes Trilogy
hardcover
Source: won
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic

It could happen tomorrow . . .
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.
Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.
For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.
Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.


Title & Cover: There are several different, and better, covers out there, yet this one's mine and I am a little underwhelmed!
Story: The EMP kills some, and changes others. Some develop strange new abilities while others morph into really smart zombies.
Narrative: Fast paced and adventurous, it kept me on my toes all the way through!
Characters: I loved Alex from page 1. She's certainly not easy to get along with, but she's got edge. Ellie on the other hand I wanted to strangle with a passion. And Tom, well he rocks!
Thoughts: Open end, anyone? This was such an engrossing read and then one killer open end and so many questions that remain unanswered. What about Ellie? And Tom? Argh!


Wither (Lauren DeStefano)
#1 The Chemical Garden
hardcover
Source: won
Genre: YA Dystopia

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.
When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?
Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?


Title & Cover: Absolutely gorgeous!
Story: Girls get abducted to be turned into brides for the rich. Add a dystopian society. Stir.
Narrative: Drab!
Characters: I couldn't connect with any of the characters and for the most part I blame it on the dreary tone of the novel.
Thoughts: I really wanted to like this book, but it literally bored me out of my mind. No ups or downs, it just went on and on before it eventually ended. And don't even get me started on the whole girls die at age 20 and guys at age 25 premise - there's no chance in hell that genetics will make you drop dead on your exact birthday. Is asking for a bit of leeway in that regard too much?

Well then, for the first time this year (day 43 of my book buying ban) there won't be an IMM post. Seeing how I'm waiting for two books I've won and some for review as well, this might only be a brief interruption in Birgit's non-self-bought-book-haul-presentation! See you again next week! Hopefully ...

Review - If Walls Could Talk (Lucy Worsley)

An intimate history of home life. It takes us through the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen, covering the architectural history of each room, but concentrating on what people actually did in bed, in the bath, at the table, and at the stove.
Why did the flushing toilet take two centuries to catch on? Why did Samuel Pepys never give his mistresses an orgasm? Why did medieval people sleep sitting up? When were the two 'dirty centuries'? Why did gas lighting cause Victorian ladies to faint? Why, for centuries, did people fear fruit? All these questions will be answered in this juicy, smelly and truly intimate history of home life. Lucy Worsley takes us through the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen, covering the architectural history of each room, but concentrating on what people actually did in bed, in the bath, at the table, and at the stove. From sauce-stirring to breast-feeding, teeth-cleaning to masturbation, getting dressed to getting married, this book will make you see your home with new eyes.


Review
You don't have to hold a suspenseful thriller in your hands to be engrossed by things that happen behind somebody's walls. In If Walls Could Talk Lucy Worsley takes the reader on a tour not only through the house, but through the centuries. From medieval peasants to Henry VIII, from Victorian aristocracy to your own grandparents - the actual main characters are all their humble dwellings.
I realize some might find this to be an awfully mundane topic, but trust me, it is not yet another boring history lesson. If you're even slightly interested in the origins of the four main rooms in a house - bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen - you will not be disappointed. Unraveling the uses and relevance of these living places over the centuries - just take the bedroom which used to be a living space before becoming the very private place it is today - the author does not simply cross the development of household appliances off a list, but instead embeds many fascinating historical tidbits of what the lives of those were like who dwelled in these homes into a well rounded picture.
Engaging and informative this proved to be quite the page turner for me! The conversational style made reading all the more fun - a wonderful journey into times long gone during which I learned a thing or two about the colorful past of the houses we still live in today.
In short: A thoroughly enjoyable history lesson!

5/5 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 "A Tea Reader"

The lucky winner of A Tea Reader (Katrina Avila Munichiello) is
Amy

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

February 11, 2012

Pajama Musings - Read my Tea

So I like to read.
And I like tea.
How come I never thought to combine these two
(other than in my respective reading challenge)?

So I guess I'm going to win the lottery sooner than I thought ... more likely though I'll do the happy dance because spring will finally arrive!

For your own Tea Leaves Reading head on over to Tazo and consult the Tea Leaf Oracle! Feel free to share your result!

February 10, 2012

Book 101 - Speculative Fiction

One of my favorite realms in writing (and reading for that matter) is Speculative Fiction. This umbrella term or category includes the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history.

Copyright by San Diego Writers

Speculative Fiction deals with the what-if scenarios in all its possibilities. The earliest forms were probably mythological tales being told around the campfire. Today you'll find stories that take you on journeys to other worlds or on magical quests, people will have supernatural powers or be able to travel through time. While all of these fall into individual genres, often crossing borders between those genres too, they have one thing in common - they are Speculative Fiction.

In its English language usage in arts and literature since 20th century, the genre term is often attributed to Robert A. Heinlein though he used it specifically as a synonym for Science Fiction, and explicitly stated that his use of the term did not include fantasy. The use of Speculative Fiction to show dissatisfaction with traditional Science Fiction was popularized in the 1960s and early 1970s by Judith Merril though it fell in disuse soon thereafter. In the 2000s, the term has come into wider use as a convenient collective term for a whole set of genres.

To me it seems that the category of Speculative Fiction opens up whole new dimensions especially where just one designated genre, eg. Science Fiction, simply does the book no justice. How often have you marveled what genre a certain book exactly falls into? More than just once, right? And you're not alone with that. Maybe calling many novels out there Speculative Fiction is taking the easy route of not having to put it where it's not fully at home.
And, as an afterthought, some authors don't want to be pigeonholed solely as a Science Fiction writer, thus declaring themselves at home in the realms of Speculative Fiction. Well, one of those authors might be me ... but that's just because what I write can't be pigeonholed either. Some of my stories are clearly Science Fiction, but others cross over this genre's border in all kinds of directions. It almost looks like the term Speculative Fiction has been invented for me.

Tid-bit for the road: The term Suppositional Fiction is sometimes used as a sub-category designating fiction in which characters and stories are constrained by an internally consistent world, but not necessarily one defined by any particular genre.

February 8, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - Austrian and German Book Bloggers

Some of you - more precisely those who speak German - might remember my search for Austrian and German book bloggers who decided to blog in the English language. It wasn't all that hard for me to add a selected few blogs I already followed *waves hello to Rikki and Sabrina* onto that list, yet I felt kinda lonely out there, seemingly the only Austrian book blogger near and far.

Then word started to spread and lo and behold my lists started to grow. I was even able to add a blogger from Switzerland! And I also found two other Austrians who have English book blogs!

I discovered Amberkatze's Book Blog purely by coincidence through GoodReads. And Katharina from Daisy Chain's Chocolate-covered Books was the one to actually find me. While I recommend a visit to all the blogs listed below, those two are especially dear to me, so feel free to stop by and let the girls know that you found about about them here at The Book Garden.

Yep, it's a good feeling not being the only one out there and I still have high hopes of maybe finding more blogs in Austria, as well as Germany and Switzerland!

Maybe there are even some blog readers in these countries who've just started an English book blog - I'll happily add you to my list which will give you exposure that every blogger craves in the humble beginnings.

Here's the list I created so far:
# Austria
+ Switzerland
Once again, if you know of any additional book blogs in either country (emphasis being on the blogs being about books, duh, and in the English language) let me know so I may add them!

February 7, 2012

Quote Garden - Let me look this up ...

The point, Ms. Conyers continued, is that no word had one specific definition. Maybe in the dictionary, but not in real life.
Sarah Dessen

Everything starts somewhere, though many physicists disagree. But people have always been dimly aware of the problem with the start of things. They wonder how the snowplough driver gets to work, or how the makers of dictionaries look up the spelling of words.
Terry Pratchett

I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.
Steven Wright

Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

As far as I'm concerned, the only difference between fact and what most people call fiction is about fifteen pages in the dictionary.
Charles de Lint

Follower Love Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the

What is a giveaway hop? That's simple. Each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another. For followers this means lots of chances to win free books and other goodies. For blogs hosting a giveaway it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win!


I'm giving away an Amazon Giftcard worth $ 15,00 (if you're from the US) or a book of coice worth up to $ 15,00 through The Book Depository (if you're international)
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

As there is the lovely word Follower in this blog hop title, all you have to do is follow me publicly on GFC (if that doesn't work for you for one reason or another, you may also follow through other channels, such as: RSS feed, e-mail, Networked Blogs, Bloglovin', Linky Followers or Goodreads - just let me know which way you follow in the comments) and don't forget to leave your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.

Rules
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on February 15th 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!

February 6, 2012

A Writer's Life - Who's supposed to decipher this?

It's interesting, really, how our handwriting will change over the years. When I come across old notebooks from when I was just a wee child going to elementary school I always marvel at the lovely, if obviously child like, script on the pages. Then the years passed, and things got a bit more sloppy during Senior High. What finally did me in was my oath to eventually buy myself a dictaphon for all those Uni courses, because the fast scribbling to keep up with the lectures was rather annoying. Each semester I said I'd buy one, but then the last year at Uni had arrived and I figured that now it'd be a waste to get one. Even if I had, the fate of my handwriting had already been sealed during the first year of breaking speed records with pen on paper.

It's funny, really, that I didn't end up as a doctor. Looking at my handwriting this would seem like a perfect choice. But no. Equally I didn't grow sick of writing as such either. I just moved from writing by hand to typing on the keyboard which helped a lot as far as being able to read it goes. Of course I've always been great in deciphering my own scrawl, but other folks often had (and still have) trouble to read it when I'm actually trying very hard to write pretty.

I've always admired people with a beautiful handwriting. In a lot of cases they will write quite fluently aka fast without sacrificing the readability or the eye-pleasing look of their letters. I'd love if my own scrawl could be magically transformed to pre-Uni looks again as that would already be quite an improvement. Maybe my scrawl will never look like calligraphy, but it doesn't hurt trying, right?

So, I googled around for a bit and came up with this ...

... now the question would be - do I want the world to be able to read my scribbles in this lifetime or in the next! I'd probably be starved before I manage to jot down the final item on my grocery shopping list. Besides, who cares about how my grocery shopping list looks like except for me?

And now be thankful that blog posts are being typed and not actually written by hand. Especially my hand.

As Rikki asked for it, I decided to add a wonderful example of my handwriting. Those are some lines from the song White Birds by Loretta Velvette, in case anyone should be wondering.

Old Books in Need of a New Home Winner

Curious about who managed to convince me that they had the best new home for some of my old books? Well, admittedly I had to resort to the good old names-on-paper-slips drawing as I liked all your answers of why you want to give the books a new home.

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

I'll contact you shortly to get your addy for sending the box out!

The next Old Books in Need of a New Home post will be up in about a month and by the looks of it the box will be filled with cozy mysteries! See you again next time!

February 5, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway with Katrina Avila Munichiello, author of "A Tea Reader"

Today I've got a real treat for all those tea lovers out there. This obviously includes all the brave participants in my Tea & Books Reading Challenge too!

A Tea Reader contains a selection of stories that cover the spectrum of life. This anthology shares the ways that tea has changed lives through personal, intimate stories. Read of deep family moments, conquered heartbreak, and peace found in the face of loss. A Tea Reader includes stories from all types of tea people: people brought up it the tea tradition, those newly discovering it, classic writings from long-ago tea lovers and those making tea a career. Together these tales create a new image of a tea drinker. They show that tea is not simply something you drink, but it also provides quiet moments for making important decisions, a catalyst for conversation, and the energy we sometimes need to operate in our lives.
The stories found in A Tea Reader cover the spectrum of life, such as the development of new friendships, beginning new careers, taking dream journeys, and essentially sharing the deep moments of life with friends and families. Find reflections of yourself and those you know in stories such as a tea shop owner whose heart is broken by Hurricane Katrina, and then finds the strength to start again, or a woman sharing a last moment with her father over a cup of tea.
Whether you are a tea lover or not, here you will discover stories that speak to you and inspire you. Sit down, grab a cup, and read on.

A warm welcome to Katrina Avila Munichiello who authored the book A Tea Reader, and who will share with us how she came to combine two things we both love - tea and books!

It never ceases to amaze me how the smallest moment can completely change the trajectory of your day, your week, and sometimes even your life.

I had been writing my Tea Pages blog for a couple of years when I received an email from a tea vendor. The man’s name was George Constance and he ran a company in Connecticut called Indonique Tea. This is what he wrote, “My company, Indonique Tea & Chai, evacuated from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and is rebuilding in the New England area...Our Authentic Indian Masala Chai was called the ‘best in New Orleans.’...We’d like to send you a sample for a review. We’re assuming you’ll be kinder than the other Katrina we briefly met in New Orleans.”

I have to confess that it was the little joke at the end that most endeared George to me, but it was also how much information was packed into those few lines. I knew I had to find out more. As he told me his story I was already trying to figure out how to share it with others. Certainly I could write about it on my blog, but I wanted a bigger audience. That’s when I realized that his was just one of thousands of tea stories and memories out there. Why didn’t someone capture them? Then I decided that that “someone” would be me.

I spent the next year collecting essays through an open blog call and by reaching out to people in the industry. I researched older writings and even traveled to London to spend time in the British Library. In the end I collected dozens of stories that all tell of a special memory with tea. There are stories of reverie -- those quiet moments of reflection, career changes, trips, ceremonies and traditions, and tales of unforgettable times with friends and family.

The book “A Tea Reader: Living Life One Cup at a Time” was released in October by Tuttle Publishing and the response has been overwhelming. I even received a note from a woman in Singapore whose husband bought the book in an Indonesian airport. Surreal. I’ve done readings and book signings and met amazing people.

Tea changes people’s lives. It gives us the space, the quiet, and the opportunity to experience unforgettable moments. What are your favorite tea memories?


Thank you very much for this little journey into the world of tea, Katrina! 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 Katrina? Visit her website.


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Katrina has generously offered one of my wonderful readers their very own copy of A Tea Reader. All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment (don't forget to answer Katrina's question about your favorite tea memories) and leave your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.

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

Winner
The giveaway is open from February 5th through February 11th - 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.

Tea & Books Reading Challenge

For those who missed my January post - welcome to the Tea & Books Reading Challenge!
Sign-ups are still open in case someone wants to join the challenge, and seeing how we've still got most of the year ahead of us, it shouldn't be too much of a problem to sink your teeth into some heavy tomes. So, if you want to join just leave a comment with your name, blog link, and the level you're going for. For more details please go to the Tea & Books Reading Challenge page!

Alrighty, how am I doing so far? Obviously I have to set a good example which is why I already tackled my first tome early on. The book I read was The Passage (Justin Cronin) and frankly, it was a real disappointment. I'm not scared of epic journeys or the dystopian and post-apocalyptic genres, on the contrary I love books like that, but this one *sigh* was just plain awful. I realize some folks love it, but it sure didn't work for me. Right now I'm hoping I'll have more luck with the next book in line, Under The Dome (Stephen King). After that? I must confess I haven't made up my mind about the rest of the books for this challenge yet, then again I have plenty to choose from, so we'll see which ones I eventually decide to pick up.

One down. Five more to go.

How about you? Have you started on the first chunkster by now? If so, which one?

Stay tuned for a very special Tea & Books giveaway coming up next!

Dean Koontz Reading Challenge

For those who missed my January post - welcome to the Dean Koontz Reading Challenge!
Sign-ups are still open in case someone wants to join the challenge, and seeing how we've still got most of the year ahead of us, it shouldn't be too much of a problem to plow through some of Dean's novels. So, if you want to join and be number 13 in the list (that's what you get for waiting so long to sign up, duh) just leave a comment with your name, blog link, and the level you're going for. For more details please go to the Dean Koontz Reading Challenge page!

Alright then, how am I doing so far? Well, I would set a bad example if I announced not having read at least one book, right? Seeing how I plan to read six I've still go plenty of time, yet I figured getting a head start wouldn't hurt much either. So I already devoured the first two books, Hideaway and The Vision. If it weren't for the fact that those came as an Omnibus edition, I might have read only one, but somehow with books like that I always feel the need to finish all novels that are included. And did I like them? Of course I did and with the huge gap since reading them the last time (when I was still a wee teenager) it was almost as if I read some whole new books. I should seriously consider re-reading books more often, then again seeing how huge my piles of unread books are *sigh*.

Two down. Four more to go.

How about you? Have you started on the first Koontz novel by now? If so, which one?

In My Mailbox - Uhm, alright ...

... I realize that it's starting to look a bit strange with all those IMM posts despite my book buying ban, but if you look closely you'll see that the books I did receive were all hoarded fair and square!

Won
Blood And Other Cravings (Ellen Datlow)

For Review
Partials (Dan Wells)
from NetGalley

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

The Reading Files - Oldies but Goldies

I got started with the first book, or rather books for my Dean Koontz Reading Challenge this week. Throw in a book for review and it's safe to say I've been an awful good reader!

Dean Koontz Omnibus: Hideaway / The Vision (Dean Koontz)
hardcover
Source: bought used
Genre: Thriller / Paranormal

Hideaway: Although accident victim Hatch Harrison dies en route to the hospital, a brilliant physician miraculously resuscitates him. Now, Hatch and his wife Lindsey approach every day with a new appreciation of the beauty of life - until a series of mysterious and frightening events brings them face to face with the unknown. Hatch was given no glimpse of the After-Life during the period when his heart stopped, but he has reason to fear that he has brought a terrible Presence back with him ... from the land of the dead.

The Vision: Mary Bergen, a clairvoyant, foresees murders that will happen in the near future, but she is unable to prevent them. Now she has actually begun to see dreadful events through the eyes of a serial killer - and somehow he knows that she is there, that she is with him. Mary can't see his face, but he knows hers - and he's got to kill her before she sees too much and is able to expose him.

Title & Cover: Eerie cover that fits perfectly for the first book, not so much for the second, but that's the fate of many omnibus editions!
Story: Both novels center around people who can see very bad things happening through the eyes of vicious killers. Needless to say, soon the killers are after them too!
Narrative: Typical Koontz style - fast paced, elaborate, very nicely weaved tapestry of words!
Characters: The good, the bad and ... where the heck is Koontz' trademark retriever!?
Thoughts: Re-reading those books was like meeting a long lost friend again. Even though I knew what was happening I loved this dip into the author's earlier novels. He's come a long way since then, though his most recent books left me rather disappointed which made these two even more worthwhile.



If Walls Could Talk (Lucy Worsley)
eBook
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Non Fiction / History / Lifestyle

An intimate history of home life. It takes us through the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen, covering the architectural history of each room, but concentrating on what people actually did in bed, in the bath, at the table, and at the stove.
Why did the flushing toilet take two centuries to catch on? Why did Samuel Pepys never give his mistresses an orgasm? Why did medieval people sleep sitting up? When were the two 'dirty centuries'? Why did gas lighting cause Victorian ladies to faint? Why, for centuries, did people fear fruit? All these questions will be answered in this juicy, smelly and truly intimate history of home life. Lucy Worsley takes us through the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen, covering the architectural history of each room, but concentrating on what people actually did in bed, in the bath, at the table, and at the stove. From sauce-stirring to breast-feeding, teeth-cleaning to masturbation, getting dressed to getting married, this book will make you see your home with new eyes.


Title & Cover: Does the cover fit the book? Yes. Does it fit my taste? Not quite.
Story: The story of the home - literally!
Narrative: Engaging and informative this proved to be quite the page turner for me!
Characters: From medieval peasants to Henry VIII, from Victorian aristocracy to your own grandparents - though the actual main characters would have to be all their humble dwellings.
Thoughts: Now that's a history lesson to my liking! Thoroughly enjoyed it!
FULL REVIEW TO FOLLOW

Review - The Psychopath Test (Jon Ronson)

In this madcap journey, a bestselling journalist investigates psychopaths and the industry of doctors, scientists, and everyone else who studies them.
The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues. And so Ronson, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, enters the corridors of power. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud in Coxsackie, New York; a legendary CEO whose psychopathy has been speculated about in the press; and a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane who insists he's sane and certainly not a psychopath.
Ronson not only solves the mystery of the hoax but also discovers, disturbingly, that sometimes the personalities at the helm of the madness industry are, with their drives and obsessions, as mad in their own way as those they study. And that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their maddest edges.

Review
While Jon Ronson has previously paid tribute to men who stare at goats, he's now giving all those madmen out there a scrutinizing look in his book The Psychopath Test, almost single-handedly solving the puzzle of a mysterious book and the person behind it.
I must admit that before I started reading, and even throughout the first chapter, I thought this book was riding mostly on the humorous wave, yet it turned out to be wonderfully entertaining and self deprecating, while at the same time taking a smart and serious look at what psychopaths are made of. Jon skilfully eases into the subject taking the reader on a journey through the madness industry. Not just observing, he inevitably finds himself doing amateur diagnosis of those around him, and he does not spare himself either.
One has to wonder about that fine line that separates crazy from normal. Why do some people end up in a mental institution despite appearing to be perfectly normal folks? Or what about high achievers who show scarily many traits that fit into the scheme of "psychopaths"? Do the mad know they are mad? Could it be possible, just how Scientologists believe, that there is no such thing as mental illness?
This book won't give easy answers to any of these questions, instead it tries to make sense, sometimes doubting then believing, but most of all making you rethink your own preconceptions and knowledge.
In short: A fascinating topic - a wild, mad read!

4/5 stars


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pan MacMillan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

February 4, 2012

Pajama Musings - To Shake or to Pear

So there we were, just two bookaholics sitting in a coffee shop getting a well deserved sugar rush from cake and croissants, when my sister in crime said to me, "They're closing down the big bookstore at the Mall!" Of course in times like these, closing bookstores aren't such a new thing, but news like these do make my heart grow heavy as it always reminds me of the wonderful days when I'd spend breaks between lectures in various bookshops ... browsing, and inevitably shopping.

While my friend would rather rename her dog than buy books online, I once again tried to convince her to have a look around on Amazon. "You can even browse through the first few pages online now.", I explained. Her stare was a mixture of dread and curiosity. "I might take a look.", she declared, and I knew that most likely she wouldn't as she's too much into the whole touchy feely thing when it comes to buying books. Can't say I blame her. I was like that myself for many years, but seeing how much cheaper I get books in the English language online I am seldomly seen inside bookstores now.

"And the local library sucks!", I ventured. "What local library?", she gave back. Our laughter was cut short by the fact that actually making fun of that thing someone decided to name LIBRARY in out hometown rather asks for tears. And not those of joy. Nibbling on her croissant my friend said, "A foreign language library would be awesome!" We both emitted a dreamy sigh that made the waitress turn and cast us a strange look.

After the waitress was gone I turned back to my friend. Not straying all that far from our book talk, I asked about Shakespeare. My friend's shoulders sagged again. "Did you hear that the authorship for some of his work is questioned?" I swallowed a bite of chocolate cake and replied, "I had no idea your dog could even write!"

February 3, 2012

Book 101 - Punk'd

As a big fan of the science fiction genre it may comes as quite a surprise that I'm fairly new to the in recent years growingly popular Steampunk sub-genre. Maybe it's simply because science fiction offers a huge variety of sub-genres or maybe it's because the word as such is slightly irritating - probably both. I mean, seriously. Steam? Punk? In one word?

Steampunk is actually more than a simple sub-genre of science fiction, as it can also dip into fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction. While there are a few classic works - just think H. G. Wells and Jules Verne - out there, this genre only ever reached its mainstream fame during the 1980s and early 1990s. As the name already suggests, it involves a setting where steam power is still widely used, usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West" era United States. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology, or futuristic innovations as people in Victorian times might have envisioned them, spruced up with a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style and art. Contemporary authors of the genre would be Gail Carriger and Scott Westerfeld among many others.

While I was looking up clever things to say about Steampunk I also found out about sub-sub-genres that were completely new to me. Decopunk is a recent subset of the Steampunk genre, centered around the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne art styles, and based around the period between the 20s and 50s. Sometimes it is also called Dieselpunk though critics usually claim Dieselpunk to be a gritty version of Steampunk while Decopunk is more of a sleek, shiny very Art Deco version of the same period.

Think I'm finished with all those punks? Not quite.

Sticking to the science fiction genre, there is also Cyberpunk which is a postmodern sub-genre focusing on "high tech and low life". The name was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story Cyberpunk, published in 1983. It features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order. Cyberpunk often centers on a conflict among hackers, artificial intelligences, and megacorporations, and tend to be set in a near-future Earth, rather than the far-future settings or in outer space environments. Can you say post-industrial dystopia?

Straying from the science fiction genre let's have a look at a whole different genre that only shares the second part of the name with each other. If you're a fan of horror you will at least have heard about Splatterpunk or maybe even read a book or two. The term was coined in 1986 by David J. Schow and it refers to a movement within horror fiction distinguished by its graphic, often gory, depiction of violence and "hyperintensive horror with no limits." If you're more into traditional, meekly suggestive horror stories, this sub-genre certainly isn't for you. Best known author in the genre are probably Clive Barker and Richard Christian Matheson. Interestingly the term gained prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, just like the Steampunk and the Cyberpunk genres, so maybe it was something in that era that made the addition of the term "punk" obligatory for new word creations.

What's your take on Steampunk? Ever heard of the sub-sub-genres of Decopunk and Dieselpunk? Ever thought about Cyberpunk as dystopia? And how about some Splatterpunk as late night read?

Oh, and in case you should be aware of any other genres that include the word "punk", please let me know!

February 1, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - Blogthings

I already blogged about Blogthings last year and seeing how they always add new quizzes, I simply had to draw your attention to this fun site again. While you'll find quizzes about pretty much any topic, needless to say, they obviously have a few relating to reading, writing, and blogging, i.e. Reading Blogthings, Writing Blogthings, and Blogging Blogthings. Head on over and feel free to share your results in the comments!

Here are just some of the results I got …

You Are a Fantasy Book



You can't help but see the world as how you want it to be. You are an idealist.

You don't put bounds or limitations on your thoughts. You are a down to earth daydreamer.

You can picture whole other worlds and lives. You have a very vivid imagination.

You're the type of person who would like to believe anything is possible. You believe there's so much more to this world than what we see.


You Should Be a Science Fiction Writer



Your ideas are very strange, and people often wonder what planet you're from.

And while you may have some problems being "normal," you'll have no problems writing sci-fi.

Whether it's epic films, important novels, or vivid comics...

Your own little universe could leave an important mark on the world!


Your Blog Should Be Purple



You're an expressive, offbeat blogger who tends to write about anything and everything.

You tend to set blogging trends, and you're the most likely to write your own meme or survey.

You are a bit distant though. Your blog is all about you - not what anyone else has to say.