May 30, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - Ron Tanner's Writer's Site for Readers and Writers

Today marks the end of this month's trip through websites for writers!

If you love reading and writing you've got something in common with Ron Tanner (and myself, for that matter). Ron is an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction, author of A Bed Of Nails and Kiss Me Stranger and other works.

Sharing writerly insights on his website, your first steps should definitely lead you to the Articles & Advice page which is filled with all kinds of useful information on writing, the writing life and the writing scene. Need some clues as to short story elements or how to make a living by writing? You'll find it in the Crafts and  Survival section.

Another page that I found extremely helpful are the Resources which highlight a collection of websites, blogs, book review sites and advocacy organizations. And, of course, there's a blog too!

And then, of course, there is something really neat I came across here too. The RBT Writer's Club, which actually isn't really a club, but an idea. If you join you'll receive some of these lovely cards which you shouldn't just keep for yourself, but ... wait for it ... mail them to other people (preferably book lovers like us). I don't even remember when I last sent a postcard, so this is a wonderful idea!

May 29, 2012

Quote Garden - There's a time and place for everything, and I believe it’s called 'fan fiction'

I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of.

It is the most fun I’m ever going to have. I love to write. I love it. I mean, there’s nothing in the world I like better, and that includes sex, probably because I’m so very bad at it. It’s the greatest peace when I’m in a scene, and it’s just me and the character, that’s it, that’s where I want to live my life.

Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.

I write for fanboy moments. I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. I write to do all the things the viewers want too. So the intensity of the fan response is enormously gratifying. It means I hit a nerve.

You either have to write or you shouldn't be writing. That's all.

By Joss Whedon

May 28, 2012

A Writer's Life - Liar Liar

Everybody lies. Not just since Gregory House started making these two words his catchphrase, the whole lying thing is a phenomenon certainly not uncommon in human history. Personally, I'm fairly positive that World War III would break out within 24 hours if every single being on this planet suddenly started telling the exact truth to their environment. You might raise an eyebrow, or two, upon reading this statement, but rest assured this is most likely the best-case-scenario. In all likelihood we'd find ourselves in a full fledged war zone within 12 hours or less.

Now you might argue I'm wrong with my assumption and that not everyone is a liar. I hate to burst your bubble but even babies lie. No really, they do. Whether you like it or not, research has been done about this sort of thing. Babies are capable of lying to their parents by crying when they are not truly in pain or distress. Inevitably parent will console the baby with loving hugs and cuddles and what does the baby do? Why, its best to prolong this reward by offering fake smiles, of course. Consequently this has led to the suggestion that human beings are "born to lie" and that this is even a unique quality of our species. We should all put that one into our CV's.

Now that we've established that we're all natural born liars, I would like to point out that this sounds a lot worse than it actually is. Mostly we lie out of necessity, to keep peace with our neighbors, loved ones, and everyone else in our every day lives. And we do so, because we care. We lie, because we mean well. In most cases anyway.

Writers, all the good ones, are Natural Born Liars.
Daniel Keys Moran

Are you beginning to wonder what all this has got to do with writing? If you had to ask you're clearly oblivious to one simple fact. Writers are liars too. We're not just born that way, we're even putting it on paper. Of course they call it fiction, but this is just putting the ugly truth (!) nicely. See? The lies keep on coming.

Maybe this is a weird perspective, but ain't it the truth? Think about it. And wouldn't you agree that we should even be thankful for the gift of lying in our DNA? Otherwise our bookshelves would be drab places.

Anyone who claims to be good at lying is obviously bad at lying. Thus - as a writer myself - I cannot comment on whether or not writers are exceptionally good liars, because whatever I said would actually mean its complete opposite.
Chuck Klosterman

Old Books in Need of a New Home

Welcome everyone to the fourth 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. I've been rummaging around in the basement recently and unearthed some totally new books. If you like Christian books, fiction and non fiction, please read on. I realize this is a rather specific giveaway, so if you know someone who'd love to read the books, feel free to enter on their behalf.

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?
Usually they are not going to be spanking new (side note: this time they are). 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?
Christian literature!

More Than A Dream (Lauraine Snelling)
Songs Of Deliverance (Marilynn Griffith)
Dear Charlie (Christopher Kimball)
Tuesdays With Matthew (Mike Nappa)
Three Days (Melody Carlson)
Living Spaces (Marlee Ledai)
Jesus - A Novel (Walter Wangerin Jr)
Heavenly Crowns (Heather Whitestone McCallum and Angela Hunt)
Jabez - A Novel (Thom Lemmons)
The Prayer Of Jabez Devotional (Bruce Wilkinson)
Come, My Little Angel (Diane Noble)

Condition?
All books are completely new!

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.

May 27, 2012

The Postman Files - Oh to win!

After only receiving one book last week (and consequently being too lazy to make a post about it) me (and my camera) got really lucky this week! Books rolling in. Life is good. Yay!

Won
Crave (Melissa Darnell)

Feed (Mira Grant)

Radiance (Alyson Noel)

The Reading Files - To review (again)

Actually I planned on starting another chunkster to have something to brag about in my next Tea & Books Reading Challenge update, but then I realized that 1) I've got quite a few books for review gathering dust and 2) the month ain't over yet and if I start on the heavy tome next week I can still plow through it before my next post. That said ... here's what I read this week!

After The Snow (S.D. Crockett)
hardcover
Source: from Pan MacMillan
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic

I'm gonna sit here in my place on the hill behind the house. Waiting. And watching. Ain't nothing moving down there.
The valley look pretty bare in the snow. Just the house grey and lonely down by the river all frozen. I got to think what I'm gonna do now that everyone gone.
But I got my dog head on.
The dog gonna tell me what to do. The dog gonna help me.
The house look proper empty – don't it dog?
You just sit quiet in these rocks Willo.
Set in the haunting and barren landscape of a new ice age, After The Snow is the story of fifteen-year-old Willo, a "straggler" kid who loses his family in the opening pages. Completely alone, he is immediately flung into an icy journey of survival, adventure, friendship and self-discovery – with only the dog spirit inside his head to guide him. Meanwhile, across Britain, outlawed followers of survivalist John Blovyn are planning an escape to the fabled Islands talked of in a revolutionary book ...

Title & Cover: Yes, a crow appears somewhere in the book. No, it doesn't make much sense putting it on the cover.
Story: A boy and its dog-coat (don't ask) trying to find his family in a world covered with ice.
Narrative: Think Blood Red Road. A milder version though.
Characters: Loved Willo, yet the rest of the cast could have used a bit more depth.
Thoughts: That was a bit of a mixed bag. I loved the "colloquial" narration and the POV which really carried the story. Too bad that it takes a while (up until the last third of the book) to finally get what's going on in this world. And when you finally get the gist everything barrels along much too fast.
FULL REVIEW TO FOLLOW


Tempest (Julie Cross)
#1 Tempest
paperback
Source: from Pan MacMillan
Genre: YA Thriller / Science Fiction

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy ... he’s in college, has a girlfriend ... nd he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies—nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors—it’s just harmless fun.
That is ... until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.
Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.
But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit ... or kill him.
Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly ... and possibly the entire world.

Title & Cover: Pretty, but so misleading.
Story: Boy can travel through time and tries to prevent his girl-friend's death. Easier said than done.
Narrative: Suspenseful and, oddly enough, quite the page turner.
Characters: Average, all of them. Yet I loved the interaction between Jackson and his diseased sister, and I wish the author would have taken this relationship as an example of how to build up the other characters.
Thoughts: I thought this would be a paranormal read, and then I found myself in the middle of some kind of spy-novel with a touch of sci-fi. Definitely not what I expected, and certainly not appreciated. Too much of a James Bond undertone, and all the potentially promising threads in the story didn't really lead anywhere.
FULL REVIEW TO FOLLOW


The Ultimate Survival Manual (Rich Johnson)
eBook
Source: from NetGalley
Genre: Non Fiction / Self Help

When disaster strikes, time is of the essence. The people who survive are those who know what to do . . . they have their earthquake kits packed, their travel essentials saved, their family prepared, and their cars gassed up and ready to go. Everyone wants to believe that they are that person—the one who would prevail whether they found themselves facing a tornado, an angry bear, or a revolution in a third-world country. Filled with clear, concise instructions, helpful diagrams, essential checklists, and inspirational first-person stories, this book is a fascinating armchair read that might just save the reader’s life. Sprinkled throughout are real-life “extreme survival” stories of amazing feats (“I Punched a Tiger in the Face!”) that inform and entertain. Even if the most terrifying thing you’ve ever survived is a traffic jam on the 205, this book is a must-read. This book will feature disaster survival scenarios in a number of international situations.

Title & Cover: To survive you need an axe. Obviously.
Story: What to do when you're being mauled by a bear or how you can live through a workplace shooting. And always remember the most important rule - Stay Alive!
Narrative: Informative and fun  ... no harm in keeping the spirits up with some jokes, right?
Characters: Everyone and everything that can make your life (and survival) a challenge.
Thoughts: Now I'm ready to survive the next Zombie Apocalpse. Just kidding. Maybe. I like how you get insights into what to do (or what not to do) in certain dangerous situations. Oh and, playing McGuyver is usually not a good idea.
FULL REVIEW TO FOLLOW

May 26, 2012

Pajama Musings - The wishlist purge

Some have humongous TBR piles. Others have wishlists a mile long. And then there are those who indulge in both. The good news, if you can call it that way, is that I fall into the realms of mountain ranges of unread books only, while my wishlist is shockingly small.

Let me start at the beginning though. As most of you know by now, I'm on a book buying ban since January. Still going strong, and apart from a brief moment of breaking out in hysterical sobs when walking by a bookshop back in April, I've been a good girl and did not buy any books. A glance at the towering stacks of books still waiting to be read usually helps with that.

Now, you might think that my wishlist has exponentially grown as I never relieve it of at least a few books every now and then by clicking the BUY button. Wrong. For some very strange reason my interest in new books has ebbed in the past months and I only put a selected few books by favorite authors onto my wishlist. Luckily most will become available right around the time my book buying ban ends. Though, let's not digress.


Initially I thought my wishlist would literally go through the roof. Strangly, it didn't. When I won a book of choice in a giveaway not long ago I actually had to think long and hard which one I wanted. I went through my wishlist and ... wait for it ... ended up deleting copious amounts of books that I put on it over the course of a year or so. Granted, my wishlist has never been all that long in the first place, maybe 50 books or so (let's just assume this IS a short wishlist, because I know people who have 500 books on their wishlist ... not naming any names *cough*) and when I was done, there were roughly 25 books left on it. Not to say that's a bad thing. Definitely puts less pressure on the whole ban. Yet the interesting thing would be how I once really wanted to get my hands on certain books and now I'm just no longer interested. This puts a whole new meaning to thinking-before-buying.

How about your wishlist? Are you more a huge-TBR-pile person or a wishlist-hoarder? Maybe both? Comment away!

May 25, 2012

Book 101 - Epilogue

Books may not always have a prologue or epilogue, but it seemed a good fit to name this last post of the Book 101 feature the latter. Of course I wouldn't want to leave without at least one more piece of bookish information.

An epilogue is a piece of writing at the end of a work of literature, usually used to bring closure to the work. In other words, the plot has ended, but it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that there might be a sequel some day.

That said, I hope you all enjoyed my Friday excursions aka the look behind the covers (pun intended). Until July this will be my day off. Not to say I'm running low on inspired and feasible plans, but those of you who're following my every post will already have an inkling of what I'm up to as far as a new feature is concerned. So, see you all again on July 6th with something brand-new and in all likelihood longer lasting than the previous Friday features.

Last but not least, here's a rundown of all the Book 101 posts (sorry, too lazy to add all the links, but that's why I tagged them all with Book 101, easy peasy):
  1. Mystery vs Thriller
  2. Of Novellas and Novelettes
  3. The Alphabet
  4. (Auto)biography
  5. Romance
  6. Young Adult
  7. Fairy Tales
  8. The Library
  9. Punk'd
  10. Speculative Fiction
  11. The oldest books in the world
  12. The Printing Press
  13. Children's Literature
  14. Audio Books
  15. Calligraphy
  16. Science Fiction
  17. Paperback vs Hardback
  18. Typos
  19. Tablet Tales
  20. POV

Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the
(May 25th - May 31st)
hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Page Turners Blog

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 choice 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.

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

Rules 
Comments do not count as entries - you must fill out the form!
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 June 1st 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!

May 23, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - Mantex

Welcome to week four of presenting websites for writers!

Mantex aims to provide everyone from students to teachers with a service to improve their writing and study skills. Already in the late 1990s the site started to include online learning materials and eLearning course design services. The website consistently offers free downloadable materials to its visitors, a free monthly newsletter, and a range of materials related to arts, literature, technology, and graphic design.

While you'll find everything from Tutorials to Reviews here, the probably most interesting page for writers must be the Download page which provides free guidance notes on Writing Skills and English Language, sample pages, How-to guides, and Study Resources. What separates this website from others is how it will help improve your skills for general, academic, and creative writing. Some are for beginners, others for the seasoned writer, and as the focus is not solely on creative writing, you can also find information on eg writing scientific reports, copy editing, or creating a good page layout, so no matter if you write a novel, a dissertation, or simply a book review, you'll find help to get you started (or keep you on track) here. Books for further studies can be bought as eBooks in the Shop too.

To top this off, there's also the option to get a free consultation with a professional author, Roy Johnson who has written several books on writing and study skills. He lectured at the Open University for thirty-five years and has been writing online for the last two decades. Just ask a question on any topic related to writing or study skills and you'll get free advice! Admittedly I haven't tried this out, but it's good to know!

May 22, 2012

Quote Garden - How do I love thee

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

How do I love thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

May 21, 2012

A Writer's Life - Don't I wish

Copyright by freshome

Where do you write? Or blog, for that matter? Probably not in the setting shown above (in case I'm wrong and it should, in fact, be you sitting in that pool, feel free to send me a message so we can discuss some kind of timeshare on that fabulous spot).

But seriously, how often do writer's moan about needing a change of scenery, because their writing nook is too dark and dusty (if you write serious, broody novels, you might want to stay there, so as not to make your characters too lively which is often a hazard of people watching). The next best thing would be heading off to your favorite coffee shop, though you should be able to work in environments that are a wee bit louder than the one you probably have at home where all you can hear are your thoughts (this might not be healthy for everyone, unless you're a writer, because we are usually able to funnel this inherent insanity into something creative).
Obviously both the entrenching-at-home and venturing-to-the-java-joint are at the same time so clichéd and yet so true. Then there are those who break out from these two scenarios and are daring enough to write in a park, or maybe on the train. Things will get a little rough during a downpour or rush hour, but hey, some books need this kind of external influence to keep things in motion.

But no matter where we write, we all dream of doing this somewhere else sometimes. Maybe holed up in an igloo (if you're not averse to the cold) or on a tropical island (if you can handle mosquitoes and humidity)? Or, to keep it a bit more realistic, in the garden on a warm sunny day. Now that is a lovely idea. If only I had a garden ...

To get back to that picture above I wonder if it might not be a tad too distracting. For one I would a) not be in the pool but swimming in the ocean and b) tempted to flirt with the cabana boy instead of getting some romance going on my laptop. But maybe that's just me.

Where do you write? Ever contemplated a change of scenery for your writerly adventures? Or do you fear that some locations might divert your creative thoughts a little too much? Let me know.

May 20, 2012

The Reading Files - Slowly

Alright, ok, this week has been awfully slow for me. Two books read. Small volumes at that. I'm hanging my head in shame.

Desert Angel (Charlie Price)
paperback
Source: won
Genre: YA Thriller

Fourteen-year-old Angel wakes up one morning at her desert trailer home to discover her mother has been murdered by a lowlife named Scotty, who has vanished. Angel has no water, no weapon, but she knows that Scotty, an expert tracker and hunter, will surface soon in order to eliminate her as a witness. She has to run, to disappear, if she is to survive and tell the world what happened. Her flight takes her through a harsh landscape to places she never expected to be, forcing her to trust others for the first time and strengthening her in ways she doesn’t even anticipate ... until it’s time to take a stand.

Title & Cover: Kinda neat, though if it weren't for the reflection in the eye that element would seriously disturb me.
Story: Mom's boyfriend kills her. Daughter runs for her life.
Narrative: The first couple pages get your heart rate up, then it sort of mellows out.
Characters: I didn't warm up to Angel (blame her often stupid decision), but I did grow quite fond of Rita who's a really well written character.
Thoughts: Attention everyone wanting to read this book because it sounds like it's about survival of a girl in a desert. It's not. Angel spends about three pages on the run, thirsty and all, before people help her. The person who wrote the blurb should be sent to the desert if you ask me. Overall an ok read, just not what I expected.


No Evidence Of A Crime (S. Connell Vondrak)
paperback
Source: won
Genre: Thriller

As Washington, D.C. detectives investigate the murder of a beautiful, young congressional aide shot dead near the Capital Mall, subtle discrepancies with the evidence become apparent. The murder weapon is identified as a Glock, but an eyewitness places the shooter too far away to have used a handgun. The slain woman was a player in high-stakes D.C. politics, yet DNA results reveal she was pregnant and the baby's father was a gang member. The detectives bring in a forensic scientist to retest the samples, and determine evidence is being altered at the crime laboratory. Detectives Jarrod and Jackson must find out who is tampering with the facts ... and why.

Title & Cover: Please shoot me!
Story: Woman gets shot and evidence gets tampered with. Whodunnit with an emphasis on forensics.
Narrative: Descriptive (yay), slow going (yawn), and could have used some more editing.
Characters: I have to say I really liked those - three dimensional and all.
Thoughts: Admittedly it's been all the forensic insights that made this book enjoyable for me. It definitely shows that the author worked in this field. The story itself was kind of ok, but didn't really thrill me that much.

Review - Physics Of The Future (Michio Kaku)

Welcome to the future, where you'll be able to take an elevator hundreds of miles into space, the internet will be in your contact lens, nanobots will scan your DNA for signs of disease and you'll be able to control computers with your brain - and even rearrange the physical world itself.
It may sound like science fiction but, as physics guru Michio Kaku shows, this is the shape of things to come. Based on interviews with over three hundred of the world's top scientists who are already inventing this future in their labs, Physics of the Future is a time-travelling tour through the revolutionary advances in medicine, computers, quantum physics and space travel that will forever change our way of life - and alter the course of civilization itself.

Review
What will your day be like in the year 2100 compared to the day ahead of you when you woke up this morning? In his new book Physics Of The Future, Michio Kaku takes the reader on a tour through the advances in science and technology, painting a vivid picture of our future - from computers to medicine, from space travel to wealth.
Both engrossing and very accessibly written, this book does not offer wild speculation, but well-reasoned estimates based on the author’s extensive research in various scientific fields, all lovingly seasoned with excursions into the world of science fiction. I admit, it was the relationship to my favorite fiction genre which made the journey into our future even more absorbing. Quite often fiction authors made spot on predictions, other times science overtakes science fiction’s ideas with ease. And how could I not love the many Star Trek references? In a way, scientific progress is to go where no (wo)man has gone before and this will be where we’re headed in the next century as well.
The last chapter, dedicated to what a day in the year 2100 could be like, was both amusing and fascinating, and presents a wonderful conclusion that left me full of awe, a bit of disbelieve, and a lot of hope. A reaction that’s probably not so different had someone in the early 20th century shown us a picture of our lives today.
In short: A truly amazing tour into our future!

5/5 stars

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

Review - The Good Daughter (Jasmin Darznik)

Jasmin Darznik came to America from Iran when she was only three years old, and she grew up knowing very little about her family's history. When she was in her early twenties, on a day shortly following her father's death, Jasmin was helping her mother move; a photograph fell from a stack of old letters. The girl pictured was her mother. She was wearing a wedding veil, and at her side stood a man whom Jasmin had never seen before.
At first, Jasmin's mother, Lili, refused to speak about the photograph, and Jasmin returned to her own home frustrated and confused. But a few months later, she received from her mother the first of ten cassette tapes that would bring to light the wrenching hidden story of her family's true origins in Iran: Lili's marriage at thirteen, her troubled history of abuse and neglect, and a daughter she was forced to abandon in order to escape that life. The final tape revealed that Jasmin's sister, Sara - The Good Daughter - was still living in Iran.
In this sweeping, poignant, and beautifully written memoir, Jasmin weaves the stories of three generations of Iranian women into a unique tale of one family's struggle for freedom and understanding. The result is an enchanting and unforgettable story of secrets, betrayal, and the unbreakable mother-daughter bond.

Review
To Jasmin Darznik The Good Daughter always epitomized her Iranian mother's warning about herself becoming "too American". Only after her father's death Jasmin finds out that she has indeed a sister, the good daughter, back in Iran. Over the course of ten tapes her mother, Lili, tells her whole life story, sharing an intimate view into the lives of three generations of Iranian women.
Beautifully written, in a clear voice, this is both a touching and fascinating account of Iranian life in the mid-20th century. It's the distance between narrator and protagonist that skillfully blends the genre of the memoir with fiction. And while it is never easy to see how much of the person, who writes down the story of another one's life, seeps into the narration, I have to say that I perceived this book as very authentic with all its colorful descriptions which certainly broadened my understanding of culture in Iran. Not just Lili’s German husband, but also the reader will be surprised by the unexpected modernity contrasting the anticipated tradition.
One question that unfortunately stayed unanswered is how the author's mother perceived this candid memoir of her own person, especially considering how long she kept much of her past, and especially her oldest daughter, a secret. Apart from that I also would have liked to see a final chapter of the whole family actually meeting, but then again, maybe that's a story for another day.
In short: A wonderful memoir filled with strength and perseverance!

4/5 stars

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

Review - Overdressed (Elizabeth Cline)

Like "The Omnivore's Dilemma" did for food, Overdressed shows us the way back to feeling good about what we wear.
Fast fashion and disposable clothing have become our new norms. We buy ten-dollar shoes from Target that disintegrate within a month and make weekly pilgrimages to Forever 21 and H&M. Elizabeth Cline argues that this rapid cycle of consumption isn't just erasing our sense of style and causing massive harm to the environment and human rights-it's also bad for our souls.
Cline documents her own transformation from fast-fashion addict to conscientious shopper. She takes a long look at her overstuffed closet, resoles her cheap imported boots, travels to the world's only living-wage garment factory, and seeks out cutting-edge local and sustainable fashion, all on her journey to find antidotes to out-of-control shopping.
Cline looks at the impact here and abroad of America's drastic increase in inexpensive clothing imports, visiting cheap-chic factories in Bangladesh and China and exploring the problems caused by all those castoffs we donate to the Salvation Army. She also shows how consumers can vote with their dollars to grow the sustainable clothing industry, reign in the conventional apparel market, and wear their clothes with pride.

Review
A century ago people usually had only a handful of garments in their wardrobe. Carefully mended, and handed down, these clothes were never disposed of before literally being worn out. Today the average US citizen buys 65 new pieces of clothing each year. Typically not meant to last, these items will rather be thrown away than repaired or altered, because this would ironically enough be more expensive than buying new ones.
On this premise Elizabeth Cline sets out to explore cheap fashion in her book Overdressed. Revealing the effects of cheap fashion on her own life, her research takes her to the reasons of this development and a possible future in slow (aka local and sustainable) fashion. Both conversationally written and thought-provoking this is a must-read for everyone who's interested in the economics behind the circle of shopping and clothes production.
I have read many books on the topic but this is the first that addresses one particular point which I feel is shockingly obvious yet often ignored. Fast fashion is not only cheap, it is, basically, waste. You might be all for recycling plastic, but have you ever thought about what's in your wardrobe and the implications for the environment? With fashion being cheap, and quality just "good enough", we create a staggering amount of pretty colored polyester garbage. Think about this before homing in on the next bargain you see!
In short: An eye-opening read that will hopefully make you reconsider your buying decisions!

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.

May 19, 2012

Blog Survey & Giveaway

With a focus on non fiction reviews on my blog it's nothing short of a miracle that I have never asked my dear readers about their take on non fiction. Granted, my blog is not all about non fiction, so some of you might simply not read the reviews and stick to other parts of my blog's content. Still, those reviews get an awful lot of page views, so there are obviously people interested in them. And why not? Non fiction is great!

Did I just hear someone stifling a yawn? Oh come on, it's really not so bad ... non fiction can be fun too! I know your math teacher probably said the same thing in third grade (and you did well not to believe him) but non fiction offers such a wide and diverse field of sub genres, I'm sure that anyone will find at least one thing they might enjoy reading.

Long story short, in a little while there will be a new feature focusing on the wonderful world of non fiction. To get it started I need some feedback and I hope that many of you will fill out the survey. It's not all that long, I promise.

To be on the safe side, I'm also going to throw in a little bribe!

I will randomly pick one of you on June 23th (which is how long I plan to keep the form open) and you'll win either a $ 10,- Amazon GC or a book worth up to $ 10,- through TBD. In case there are more than 100 people filling out the form I'm going to throw in a second winner. See? It pays to help me out!

Thanks a lot in advance!

Pajama Musings - The Trunk

How often have you read about how bloggers arrange their books on their shelves? A lot. I know this, because I'm reading about at least one such endeavor each week on other blogs. Now, why would I want to chime in, you ask? Actually, I don't.

By now we're all familiar with all the different ways of arranging books to your liking - in alphabetical order, by author's name, by color, by size, and needless to say, these methods can be combined in which ever way you choose. I can see the allure in wanting to bring some kind of order into your personal library. You might even manage to make the amount of books you're hoarding look a little less daunting (not as though you could seriously fool your spouse or family, but it never hurts trying). Plus it's just a whole lot of fun to take all the books into your hands, maybe dust them off in case they've been on those TBR piles for a little while (and I can assure you, they have). But then, of course, this is where the real work starts and if you don't have some kind of action plan you're pretty much doomed to spend a whole weekend (minus a well deserved nap) hauling books from one corner to the next until your body is in dire need of a massage while there is still no light at the end of the book tunnel.

Copyright by Carolyn Crimi

Long story short. I don't arrange my bookshelves. Not really. Sometimes I might purge them to sell or give away books I don't plan to keep (all a question of how much space you have, or rather don't have), and other books will be put, if not squeezed, in the now available spots. Trust me, I try to have some kind of order, at least placing books by the same author in the same spot, but if you asked me to give you a general direction of, say, all my Rachel Gibson books, I'd 1) have to think long and hard until 2) I remember those are in "the trunk" which is a big chest in my room filled with books to the brim, and basically wanting to get a book that's at the bottom will translate into yours truly hanging head down into said trunk up to her butt ... I'm not joking. In fact I've been thinking of giving away some copies from Unce John's Bathroom Reader books through Old Books in need of a New Home but I'm fairly sure those tomes are at the bottom of "the trunk" and just the thought alone makes my back ache. Well, not running out of other books to give away right now, but you see the basic problems I'm facing with my store-in-trunk-method.

One day I might be brave enough to seriously rearrange all my books, but I don't see this happening anytime soon. Maybe if I had minions and could just sit on the couch and yell orders ... well, that might actually work.

How about you? Do you like to give those bookshelves some attention every now and then? Or are you just stacking books where you find space and hope for the best?

May 18, 2012

Book 101 - POV

The good old POV. The kind of narrator an author chooses for telling the story can make or break the fun and thrill of reading a book. Sometimes the plot works best in first person view then there's acall for an omniscient being who does not actually take part in the story but tells it to the audience.

I don't think I've encountered as many first person narrators in YA literature than in adult novels. Let us not dwell on the why, but take a closer look at this kind of narration instead.

Copyright by Ron Tanner

In a first person narrative the story is told by a character in the book, referring to him- or herself as "I". This kind of narrative directly conveys the deeply internal, otherwise unspoken thoughts of the narrator. First person narrations may also be told like third person ones, with a character experiencing the story without being aware that they are actually conveying it to an audience.

In the third person narration, each and every character is referred to by the narrator as "he", "she", or "they". Here, the narrator is an unspecified entity or uninvolved person that tells the story, but not a character within the story being told. Third person singular (he/she) provides the greatest flexibility to the author and thus is the most commonly used narrative mode in literature.

The third person narration is categorized along two axes. The first is between "subjective" narration, describing one or more character's feelings and thoughts, and "objective" narration, which does not describe the feelings or thoughts of any characters. The second axis is between "omniscient" and "limited", a distinction that refers to the knowledge available to the narrator.

While, like mentioned above, YA novels seem to have a monopoly on first person narration, historically, the third-person omniscient perspective has been the most commonly used. Personally I must confess, it took some getting used to the first person narrative in YA books for me, maybe I've simply been too used to third person narration, but depending on the story I have to say both narratives have something going for them.

How about you? Do you prefer first person narration? Or maybe the omniscient third person narrator? Or aren't you all that picky when it comes to from what perspective a story is being told? Let me know!

May 16, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - The Write Thing

And yet another one for those writers out there!

The Write Thing is a website, started by Pip Hunn in late 2009, as a writing project after noticing how a lot of the writing advice on the internet was rather generic and boring. He decided to share what he knew about "the interesting squiggly minutiae of writing – the dark, ugly corners that make life so delicious and interesting".

The Write Thing's Guiding Philosophies are to write often, enjoy writing, ask questions, get opinions, and last but not least to trust yourself.

While Pip might not be an expert (at least he doesn't claim to be one), he certainly offers more than a handful of advice on how to hold the mighty sword that can be found in every writer's possession (the pen, folks, the pen, not the keyboard, though that one might make for a good shield, I'll grant you that).

Talk Listen Think Write

In the collection of articles you can find anything from some words of the wise in Ten words not to use. Ever. (we all know it, yet we still use them like confetti) past the hilarious You know you write too much when ... (and I won't even go there as to just how many of these ring true for me, oh my) straight to the contemplative Why arrogance is a virtue for writers
Sadly, the flow or articles stopped last year, but maybe Pip is just tangled up in too much writing. But seriously, there are some really (ha, I put that one here on purpose) great articles to be found here and it'd be a shame if they went un-read.

May 15, 2012

77.777 Page Views Giveaway Winner

Anybody curious about the results of the 77.777 Page Views Giveaway? I thought so.

Before I let you in on who's the lucky winner, I have a confession to make - I had a hard time deciding on how to pick the winner. I thought long and hard, and I didn't really want to use random.org, so I simply asked my Facebook friends to provide me with a number. My dear friend Sarah pitched in with the number 28 (trust folks to pick their own birthday, ha).

So now that we've established which number got picked, how about spilling which name goes with it?

Linda Henderson

And I bet you probably want to know more about the mysterious price too, am I right?

Well, you have won yourself a magnet of choice from CafePress!


Like this one ...


... or maybe this?









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

Quote Garden - Let them be real

People come, people go – they’ll drift in and out of your life, almost like characters in a favorite book. When you finally close the cover, the characters have told their story and you start up again with another book, complete with new characters and adventures. Then you find yourself focusing on the new ones, not the ones from the past.
Nicholas Sparks

Which of us has not felt that the character we are reading in the printed page is more real than the person standing beside us?
Cornelia Funke

Reading changes your life. Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time. Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education. Through characters – the saints and the sinners, real or imagined – reading shows you how to be a better human being.
Donalyn Miller

I was attempting to write the story of my life. It wasn't so much about plot. It was much more about character.
David Levithan

The best books come from someplace deep inside ... Become emotionally involved. If you don't care about your characters, your readers won't either.
Judy Blume

May 14, 2012

77.777 Page Views Giveaway

I just checked my blog stats and what do you know? 
I've just hit 77.777 page views!!

Well well well ... any reason is a good reason for a wee giveaway, right? And to make things even more exciting, I'm not even going to tell you what you may win. Rest assured it's something nice and yep, everyone residing on the planet can enter, I'm not even asking you to follow. All I'm going to say is - leave a comment and a way to contact you and you're all set. Oh and ... you better comment within the next 7 hours! Just kidding ... make that 21 hours which should (more of less) accommodate all time zones.

A Writer's Life - The myth of writer's block

Much has been said (or written, for that matter) about writer's block. some argue that there is no such thing as writer's block and that you just need to get your behind in gear (also known as placing the chair in front of the computer) and with a bit of good will (and a bottle of whiskey) you'll get back on track again. Other's insist that this kind of forced determination only makes things worse.

Either way, sometimes it helps to stay seated, staring at the computer screen, waiting for some kind of epiphany, other times it's better to take a step back and get some distance between yourself and your plot. Both approaches work, but not for every writer, so at the end of the day it's a very individual choice whether to glue yourself to that chair or take a walk.

The thing is, I don't believe in writer's block. To me this sounds as if all creative flow has come to a complete stop. Your imaginative landscape is parched and dry and not as single drop of water in sight. Not a pretty picture. Yet, in my experience ideas don't just stop. This isn't like hitting a big brick wall that suddenly materialized in front of your nose.
It's more like taking a walk through the woods and suddenly you're not sure which way to go - one path is just too overgrown, another is muddy, and the last one will only take you in a circle. The thing is, you know where you want to go, but the trip leaves a few questions open. All of these paths will get you from A to B but, and this is the important part, will they also make the story work? We wouldn't discuss this matter now if the answer was a resounding yes, would we.

Thus you end up thinking and thinking and maybe a bit of drinking too, digging and paving a whole new path (often just to discard it as a viable option) until a sudden flash of inspiration hits you about two and a half years later while you are either sitting in your dentist's waiting toom (many confuse these moments as near-death-experiences) or scrubbing the kitchen floor (I have this theory that such mundane tasks often kick start your creativity, because our brain fears we might hang ourselves with a dirty dish towel). Though, if you're lucky, it hits you on a lazy afternoon lounging at a beach on the Bahamas (it's not unheard of and if this has happened to you before, let it be said that I hate you).

Trust me, it's not you. It's the plot. No, really, I'm serious. Sometimes it's the plot that knows no other way than sending you into a full fledged creative crisis, because ... something isn't working! Look at it like a relationship. Giving up is for loosers. You work on it! Show your love and woo it, bring it flowers, take it on vacation, and only ever give up when you catch your manuscript in an incriminating manner with one of your dictionaries, or worse, the whole encyclopedia.

And then, when the holiday is over, the last drop of champagne drunk, your unfinished book will willingly open its pages and ... alright, this sounds a bit ... uhm, cheap now, but you get the general idea - appreciate and celebrate what you have already written, and given time, dedication (and obscene amounts of chocolate and caffeine) things will develop from there, step by step (and occasionally angelic choirs singing in the background).

What's your take on writer's block? Believe in it? Ignore it? Have fun with it? Let me know.

May 13, 2012

The Postman Files - Lucky me!

Once again I found a book in my mailbox (or should I call it postbox ... postman, and all that) completely unexpectedly. Those are the moments I love! The funny thing is that I managed to win the second month in a row on this site, so either the Gods of Good Fortune are keeping an eye out for me (hey, how 'bout that lottery win) or I'm the only one entering those monthly book club giveaways ... hmmm ... I'll let you know in a month's time.

And to spice things up aka only showing the one physical book I received is lame, I want to share something I won this week too. A Scoopy Loop which in my particular case is not only ugly but also THE new must-have of the season. OK, I'm being unfair. How was I to know I'd receive those colors? Scoopy Loops are available in 150 different variations, so that was just a little clash between my taste and bad luck then. What is this thing for? Well, it can be used as bracelet or put in your hair, basically. Of course it's such a snug fit, that the blood circulation in my hand would be seriously in jeopardy. And my wrists are actually pretty small. Anyway, maybe I'll have one of my teddy bears have fun with it. Even if I liked it, I must admit, I wouldn't have bought it for a whopping € 14,90 (roughly $ 20,-) I mean hell, those are just three ribbons on a wee little chain!?
Anyway, have a look for yourself ...

Won

For Review
from NetGalley

The Reading Files - Let's review, shall we?

With plenty of books for review having rolled in lately it was about time I did a little catching up. Quite successfully, as I may add!

Overdressed (Elizabeth Cline)
eBook
Source: from NetGalley
Genre: Non Fiction / Economy

Like "The Omnivore's Dilemma" did for food, Overdressed shows us the way back to feeling good about what we wear.
Fast fashion and disposable clothing have become our new norms. We buy ten-dollar shoes from Target that disintegrate within a month and make weekly pilgrimages to Forever 21 and H&M. Elizabeth Cline argues that this rapid cycle of consumption isn't just erasing our sense of style and causing massive harm to the environment and human rights-it's also bad for our souls.
Cline documents her own transformation from fast-fashion addict to conscientious shopper. She takes a long look at her overstuffed closet, resoles her cheap imported boots, travels to the world's only living-wage garment factory, and seeks out cutting-edge local and sustainable fashion, all on her journey to find antidotes to out-of-control shopping.
Cline looks at the impact here and abroad of America's drastic increase in inexpensive clothing imports, visiting cheap-chic factories in Bangladesh and China and exploring the problems caused by all those castoffs we donate to the Salvation Army. She also shows how consumers can vote with their dollars to grow the sustainable clothing industry, reign in the conventional apparel market, and wear their clothes with pride.


Title & Cover: Ha, gotta love that cover!
Story: Cheap fashion is all the rage, yet many aren't aware of the consequences. Today a bargain, tomorrow waste.
Narrative: Conversationally written. Thought-provoking.
Characters: People with their mind set on ... shopping!
Thoughts: I've read many books on the topic, but this one's the first dealing with something many aren't even consciously aware of - that shirt you got on sale for five bucks and which kinda lost its shape after the first wash gets thrown out. What's left is pretty colored polyester garbage.
FULL REVIEW TO FOLLOW


The Good Daughter (Jasmin Darznik)
paperback
Source: from Random House
Genre: Non Fiction / Memoir

Jasmin Darznik came to America from Iran when she was only three years old, and she grew up knowing very little about her family's history. When she was in her early twenties, on a day shortly following her father's death, Jasmin was helping her mother move; a photograph fell from a stack of old letters. The girl pictured was her mother. She was wearing a wedding veil, and at her side stood a man whom Jasmin had never seen before.
At first, Jasmin's mother, Lili, refused to speak about the photograph, and Jasmin returned to her own home frustrated and confused. But a few months later, she received from her mother the first of ten cassette tapes that would bring to light the wrenching hidden story of her family's true origins in Iran: Lili's marriage at thirteen, her troubled history of abuse and neglect, and a daughter she was forced to abandon in order to escape that life. The final tape revealed that Jasmin's sister, Sara - The Good Daughter - was still living in Iran.
In this sweeping, poignant, and beautifully written memoir, Jasmin weaves the stories of three generations of Iranian women into a unique tale of one family's struggle for freedom and understanding. The result is an enchanting and unforgettable story of secrets, betrayal, and the unbreakable mother-daughter bond.


Title & Cover: Sweet!
Story: Only after her father's death Jasmin finds out that she has a sister, the good daughter, back in Iran. Over the course of ten tapes her mother, Lili, tells her whole life story to Jasmin.
Narrative: Beautifully written.
Characters: Three generations of Iranian women.
Thoughts: A story of strength and perseverance. Touching and fascinating. It certainly broadened my understanding of culture in Iran.
FULL REVIEW TO FOLLOW


Physics Of The Future (Michio Kaku)
paperback
Source: from Random House
Genre: Non Fiction / Science / Technology

Welcome to the future, where you'll be able to take an elevator hundreds of miles into space, the internet will be in your contact lens, nanobots will scan your DNA for signs of disease and you'll be able to control computers with your brain - and even rearrange the physical world itself.
It may sound like science fiction but, as physics guru Michio Kaku shows, this is the shape of things to come. Based on interviews with over three hundred of the world's top scientists who are already inventing this future in their labs, Physics of the Future is a time-travelling tour through the revolutionary advances in medicine, computers, quantum physics and space travel that will forever change our way of life - and alter the course of civilization itself.


Title & Cover: Not. Impressed.
Story: Our future - from computers to medicine, from space travel to wealth - presented as reasoned estimates, not wild speculation. All seasoned with excursions into the world of science fiction.
Narrative: Engrossing and very accessibly written.
Characters: Our future selves.
Thoughts: I loved how Kaku doesn't just take a tour through the advances in science, but also dips into science fiction to show were we're coming from and were we're headed. Quite often fiction authors made spot on predictions, other times science overtakes science fiction ideas with ease. And ohhh ... so many Star Trek references, yay!
FULL REVIEW TO FOLLOW

May 12, 2012

Pajama Musings - Some daily fun

Everyone who likes to read their daily comic strips please raise your hands! Ha, thought so! I'm definitely not the only one who likes to read some comics every now and then. Alright alright ... every single day!!

Know the site GoComics? This one is absolutely fantastic as it features a broad variety of comic strips and cartoons by signing up you can create a personalized comics page with your favorites. After checking my e-mails in the morning, and having a quick look at what's been happening on Facebook, this is where I'm headed to get my daily dosis of fun.


I know I know ... a lot of folks scoff at the idea of reading comics. Needless to say they are horrified by the idea of even calling this "reading". Then again, where there is a text, as little as it might be, you are reading. Just sayin'!

Besides, comics aren't just kiddie stuff! Sure, some magazines are aimed at kids, but there are also those for adults. Now don't you get any funny ideas, I'm not talking about "adult" stuff as in naked boobs, but themes that grown ups can relate to.


Plus, it can be heavy reading too. Don't believe me? If you should own The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson then I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. These two volumes give a whole new meaning to fat, heavy tomes. We're talking roughly 20 pounds. I ain't joking. My mailman pulled several muscles carrying that package to my door and you can bet that this is not the first book that comes to mind for some relaxed reading in the tub.

While I do own the just mentioned 20 pounds tomes I wouldn't call myself a comic book collector. Sure, I had those small Garfield paperbacks as a teenager, but other than that? Nope. Sure, I'd love to see some of my favorite comics in book form, but alas most are only available in daily strips in newspapers or online.

How about you? Comics yay or nay? And have you got any recommendations for me?

May 11, 2012

Book 101 - Tablet Tales

What are books, really? Apart from making a pretty neat side table if you stack them high, that is.

A book is a set of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of ink on paper, parchment or other materials, usually fastened together on one side. A single sheet within a book is a leaf, and each side of a leaf is ... wait for it ... a page. While these are all parts that you won't find in the actual sense in an eBook, this is just the latest version of "the book" throughout history.

When writing systems were created in ancient civilizations, nearly everything that could be written upon - stone, clay, tree bark, metal sheets - was used for writing. From clay tablets to wax tablets, from scrolls (say hello to the Egyptian papyrus) to the Codex which was the first format that is similar to out modern books. The Middle Ages welcomed parchment and calf skin in manuscripts, and today we have already moved from good old paper to digital books.

Actually, when you think about it, it might have taken a long time, but we managed to move from one tablet ...

Copyright by Wikimedia

... to the next with ease.

Copyright by TeleRead

Of course a library filled with clay tablets would be a wee bit larger than the library on your eReader. On the other hands, those clay tablets will still be there in a 1.000 years while the eReader will be ancient history. That's progress for you!

May 9, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - Build Creative Writing Ideas

And yet another interesting site for all writers out there!

Build Creative Writing Ideas is a site devoted to finding new creative writing ideas for authors, bloggers and playwrights of any kind and to motivate them to write! This page by Bryan Cohen is full of everything a writer's heart (and muse) could ask for - roughly 100 pages of creative writing prompts to start your stories, scripts, blogs, etc.; motivational tips and tricks to get you out of your writing slump; ideas to step up your time management, diet and your overall happiness to make you more focused on your writing goals; and hundreds of stories written by fellow writers who want to practice their craft for all to see.

One of the first pages on the website to head to is the Site Map which provides you with a great overview of the available tips, techniques and prompts - from Creative Writing Tips to Personal Time Management, straight to Motivation Techniques and a huge section of Creative Writing Prompts

I realize some creative minds would rather write about their cat's constipation than venture onto a website to get inspired. The point is that writers do get their ideas from all kinds of sources, from observation to research, from reading to conversations, from ... well, you get the general idea. And sometimes the good old muse needs a slight nudge. In my opinion the prompts offered are more aimed towards those taking their first steps in creative writing, though anyone, even a seasoned writer may find some interesting ideas here.

What I love the most about the writing prompts here is how they are sorted by various themes. Looking for something Dark, Disturbing and WeirdAs you are walking down the street, you hear loud sirens. Before you can figure out the reason, you see a giant flash of light and you pass out. You wake up in a giant pile of rubble. What has happened and where do you go from here?
Or how about something related to what we all love - Books! You have been given the chance to adapt a book of your choosing to the big screen! How do you go about making this book fit the typical 2 hour run time without losing any of your beloved or important elements?

And oh, did I mention that this site and all it's got to offer is free? Donations are welcome though (hey, you even get personalized writing prompts for donating), and you may always by one of Bryan Cohen's books if you want even more tips and advice on writing (eg on Smashwords).

May 8, 2012

Quote Garden - Which genre would that be?

Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky.
Alan Moore

If you want to write a fantasy story with Norse gods, sentient robots, and telepathic dinosaurs, you can do just that. Want to throw in a vampire and a lesbian unicorn while you're at it? Go ahead. Nothing's off limits. But the endless possibility of the genre is a trap. It's easy to get distracted by the glittering props available to you and forget what you're supposed to be doing: telling a good story. Don't get me wrong, magic is cool. But a nervous mother singing to her child at night while something moves quietly through the dark outside her house? That's a story. Handled properly, it's more dramatic than any apocalypse or goblin army could ever be.
Patrick Rothfuss

Don't classify me, read me. I'm a writer, not a genre.
Carlos Fuentes

Sure, I knew the differences between a space opera and a hard-boiled detective story and a historical novel ... but I never cared about such differences. It seemed to me, then as now, that there are good stories and bad stories, and that was the only distinction that truly mattered.
George R.R. Martin

Good authors worry about genres great authors don't.
Frank Gaspar

May 7, 2012

A Writer's Life - Death and the Writer

 Note to self: When plotting, don't make any deals with Death.

Write what you know, eh?

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com

May 6, 2012

The Postman Files - That's a new one!

Alternatives to the withering In My Mailbox posts have started to blossom all over the bookish Blogosphere in the past week. In case you're clueless as to why this is so ... where have you been!? Living underneath a rock??

Anyway, obviously a certain blogger did not invent the simple presentation of books that rolled in during the week, and no matter what we call our individual posts that show off our book haul, it's not so much the post's title as its content.

Without further ado I introduce you to The Postman Files which, as you may have already guessed, is the brother of The Reading Files feature in which I let you in on which books I read during the week. On second thought, I might have watched to many X-Files episodes to come up with names like that, but that's a story for another day.

Won
A Million Suns (Beth Revis)

For Review
Tempest (Julie Cross)
After The Snow (S.D. Crockett)
Twilight Robbery (Frances Hardinge)
A Face Like Glass (Frances Hardinge)

Physics Of The Future (Michio Kaku)
from Penguin

For Review
Paradox (Jim Al-Kahlili)
from NetGalley

Wait (Frank Partnoy)
from NetGalley

The Reading Files - One for the challenge

Time to get slightly more serious about my own reading challenges, I plowed through a three-novels-omnibus edition by Dean Koontz. I'm talking 800 pages hardcover tome. I'm talking great workout for those arm muscles. And I'm talking only one more to go for The Dean Koontz Reading Challenge, woohoo!! Very proud of self!

Dean Koontz Omnibus: Cold Fire/ The Mask / The Face Of Fear (Dean Koontz)
hardcover
Source: bought used
Genre: Thriller / Paranormal

Cold Fire: When school teacher Jim Ironheart saves a child from being killed by a drunk driver, reporter Holly Thorne witnesses his heroism. Intrigued, she discovers he has quietly performed many such rescues. Realizing she is on to the biggest story of her life, Holly tracks Jim to California. And soon they are both running for their lives from a savage and uncannily powerful adversary. In great jeopardy, they are eventually drawn to a high room in an old windmill where as a boy Jim experienced something frightening and strange.

The Mask: She appears our of nowhere ... in the middle of traffic, on a busy day, in front of Carol's car. A teenager with no past, no family - and no memories. Carol and Paul are instantly drawn to her, this girl they name Jane - she is the daughter they never had. It is almost too good to be true. Then the hauntings begin.

The Face Of Fear: Graham Harris is a gifted clairvoyant, and during a late-night TB interview, he "sees" a murder being committed. he knows the killer is the man the police have named the Butcher - the brutal slayer of nine young women. Learning of the psychic identification, the Butcher begins to stalk this witness to his crime, and traps Harris and his girlfriend at night in a vast forty-two story business building, hunting them relentlessly from floor to floor.

Title & Cover: What is there to say about a cover that features all three covers of the included book? And those aren't exactly bordering on awesome either. Oh well ...
Story: Premonitions, visions, people dying, people being murdered - those three novels are all thrillers  at the core with just a touch of paranormal.
Narrative: Typical Koontz style - you can't turn the pages fast enough and wonderfully descriptive of people and situations!
Characters: The good and the bad, all finely layered!
Thoughts: Contrary to the first Omnibus edition I read earlier this year the novels included here were almost like reading new books. Has it really been that long since I first read them. Probably yes. Personally I liked Cold Fire best because of how suspense builds until the end. The other two were good too, yet the endings felt a bit rushed which is a real shame.
P.S.: If you're new to this author getting acquainted with one of his earlier books is highly recommended!