July 31, 2012

Quote Garden - The talented writer

Talent is extremely common. What is rare is the willingness to endure the life of the writer.
Kurt Vonnegut

The real writer is one who really writes. Talent is an invention like phlogiston after the fact of fire. Work is its own cure. You have to like it better than being loved.
Marge Piercy

I don't teach writing. I teach patience. Toughness. Stubbornness. The willingness to fail. I teach the life. The odd thing is most of the things that stop an inexperienced writer are so far from the truth as to be nearly beside the point. When you feel glosbal doubt about your talent, that is your talent. People who have no talent don't have any doubt. 
Richard Bausch

A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.
Stephen King

Having a little talent as a writer is like having a little talent as a brain surgeon.
James Jones

July 30, 2012

A Writer's Life - Relationship status? Single.

I honestly don't think I'm cut out for a relationship with that much commitment. I might look like marriage material, but trust me, I'm not. I'm not even sure I'd want to have a short fling, then again that might actually be something worth trying out. Let's see. Man or woman? Doesn't matter. I'm open to both.

Alright, before anyone gets funny ideas about me ... I'm talking about a different kind of relationship. The kind that can drive you up the wall. Ok, this may also ring true for real relationships, but obviously this post is about something slightly different.

Co-authors.

Yep. Some authors decide to walk the stony road together. Hand in hand. Yet not down the aisle. They don't mind collaborating with one or more authors (ohhh ... orgy), seeing it as both a challenge and also inspirational with all that extra input. Maybe they just want to break out of the usual solitude we writer's experience when we create whole new worlds. Maybe they just want to, errr, experiment a little and yes, we are still talking about author relationships despite my innuendo, so get your mind out of the gutter. Anyway, where was I? Right.

The question is - why not try it out sometime?
Collaborations between authors can be fruitful. You might have too many ideas and never get them all down on paper, and a co-author might help with that. Of course this gets pretty darn close to finding yourself a ghostwriter, so the emphasis should still be on both authors doing their part in the project.
Then it may help you grow as an author as it opens up new perspectives through new or different ideas and writing processes your co-author introduces.
Doesn't sound so bad. Unless you hate when anyone else acts out a backseat writer attitude. Then you might want to just depend on your editor and the few trusty souls who're allowed to read your manuscript. It's a whole lot easier telling those where exactly to stuff their opinion than having to tell that to a co-author. See? Almost like a real marriage. Once you say yes, it's no going solo. Ever. Again.

While I don't see myself co-authoring a book anytime soon I must admit I'm not ruling it out completely. For starters I wouldn't mind contributing a short story to an anthology, but of course that's no collaboration in the strictest writerly sense. Let's call it a warming up for the main course.

Copyright by Mike Myatt

The most important things every author should be aware of when considering to bring a co-author aboard are ...

Find yourself someone compatible. Just like you would before you step to the altar.

Make a plan. This seems obvious, but you will have to organize the whole project from the initial idea to who'll be writing what straight to marketing strategies and the likes. It's all about sharing and dividing responsibilities, really.

Leave your Ego behind. If that needs explaining you should definitely not team up with another author.

Treat each other with respect and appreciation. Like I said, it's a lot like a marriage.

Doesn't sound so bad now. In theory anyway.

How about you my fellow writers? Would you ever consider co-authoring a book? Maybe you have even done so already?

And you, my dear readers, what's your take on books with more than one author? Are too many cooks really spoiling the broth?

July 29, 2012

The Postman Files - I could easily forgive his pride

I need to get ahead of myself today. In other words, I won't start to list all the books that rolled in this past week, but with something even more exciting. Yep, more exciting than books! Imagine!

Those of you following my new Bookish Etsy feature will certainly remember the post about BlueSkyInking just recently. When Liz insisted on sending me this lovely Jane Austen card set as a little thank you for the feature I was delighted. To be honest, this photo doesn't do the cards any justice (damn you, camera, damn you). They are totally and absolutely gorgeous and such great quality! 
Obviously I already loved the illustrations shown in the shop, otherwise I wouldn't have invited Liz as a guest on my bog in the first place, but holding those cards in my hands I was literally speechless because they're so pretty!! I mean, seriously, if you love Jane Austen you need those cards (or maybe one of the illustrated prints, come to think of it). Do I sound like beating the big drum here a bit? Damn right, I am!
Oh and the dog'n'cat card "Smug, moi?" to the right is also by Liz - sooo cute!!

Gifted
Duma Key (Stephen King), German Ed.

Won
Whiteout (Ken Follett) Audiobook

Bought for Kindle
Death Of A Hussy (M.C. Beaton)
Dead In The Water (Carola Dunn)

The Reading Files - Slump

Bad enough that I am just not in the mood for review writing, when it comes to reading my speed has more of a sluggish river than the usual raging current. Let's blame the heat. Or maybe there's something in the air? I've seen other bloggers going through the exact same thing, so at least I have the comfort of not being alone with this.

The Mournful Teddy (John J. Lamb)

Thoughts. Teddies and dead bodies, oh my. Cozy? Check. Mystery? Check. And extra points for plush, obviously. Maybe a bit foreseeable, but with just the right chemistry between characters ... the human ones, not the plush ones.

Random quote. I'm the guy that shoves polyester foam into the bears and hopes to someday graduate to pouring beans into their bottoms. (p. 48)

Verdict. Wholesome cozy mystery for teddy bear lovers!


The Power Of Habit (Charles Duhigg)

Thoughts. Cue. Routine. Reward. Cue. Routine. Reward. Cue. Rout ..You get the idea. Fascinating read though it started to get redundant after the first few chapters. If I were mean I'd say just read the Appendix and you get the gist of the whole book.

Things to ponder. A habit cannot be eradicated, it must instead be replaced.

Verdict. Interesting yet repetitive study on habits and how to change them!

July 28, 2012

Pajama Musings - To give away. Safely.

Those of you who visit my blog regularly and especially those of you who gravitate towards those alluring giveaway posts, might have noticed a change in how I am now handling giveaways.

Previously I went by a strict just-leave-a-comment policy. It worked just fine for me. And most of you too judging from the amount of entries giveaway hops received. Then Blogger messed up the comment section with the actually pretty helpful option that allows you to reply to individual comments. Unfortunately that led to the comment-counter-widget I had installed not working anymore and with literally hundreds of entries in some hops, counting became quite a chore. After all I had to make sure I really picked the matching entry to the randomly drawn number. So I decided to use Google Docs from now on which apparently was well received. At least there was a definite increase in entries.


Long story short, I have in the meantime decided to use a Google Doc form for all giveaways even the small ones. The reason is simple. Safety. This is an aspect which I think many of you will approve of - with a form you can safely share your e-mail addy without anyone, except for yours truly obviously, seeing and possibly misusing it for some evil purposes. I realize a lot don't care about this and simply write their e-mail address in a spambot-unfriendly way, but I know that there are enough people who don't enter giveaways at all if it means sharing personal data.

Bottom line, I hope you'll happily accept those forms for future giveaways. In fact I already switched to using forms earlier this month. I know what some of you might be thinking. Why not use Rafflecopter instead? Even easier and all that. Well, those who know me are aware that I usually only have one-entry-giveaways anyway. I rarely make exceptions, such as in a Bookish Etsy giveaway recently. And I honestly like Google Docs. Never failed me. And we've all encountered Rafflecopter giveaways that didn't quite work they way they're supposed to. Not to say I might not switch one day, but for the time being it's the good old trusty Google Docs form for me.

What are your personal preferred methods to enter giveaways? Comments? Forms? And how important is it to you not to put your e-mail addy on public display when entering giveaways? Please share!

July 27, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Recommended Reads #1


So they say that non fiction is dry and boring. I say sometimes a novel can also bore you out of your mind. Equally many feel that non fiction reminds them too much of books they had to read for school or college. I have certainly felt the same way about some of the books I had to read back in the good old days.

Thing is, and please listen closely now, it doesn't matter whether there is a non before the fiction or not, you will always find books that beg to be thrown into a corner after suffering through the first few pages, and then there are those you can't put down, because they grab your attention from the start.

Today, and in more posts to come, I want to share non fiction books with you which I think might make your mouth water for everything that isn't fiction. I can't promise that you'll like them all, tastes obviously vary between all readers, but maybe I will give you an idea or two about books you haven't considered reading up until now.

What best to start these recommended reads with then something that spans many non fiction genres. Now what could that possibly be? Humor. Yes, humor. And there you were thinking non fiction won't make you smile much less laugh.

Uncle John's Bathroom Readers are a series of books filled with trivia and short essays on various topics. With Uncle John's 24-Karat Gold Bathroom Reader the Classic Edition has published its 24th volume in 2011. Other volumes are dedicated to a single topic have been released under the title Uncle John Plunges Into ... history, national parks, or Ohio *waves hello to Amy*. Uncle John Presents offers everything you ever wanted to know about the weather, numbers, quotes, mothers, cat lovers. And let's not forget Bathroom Readers for Kids Only!.
For a full list on all the books you might want to check out the Bathroom Reader's Institute page on Goodreads!

Due to the nature of the books, and the book title is already a dead giveaway, they make for perfect reading material in the bathroom. As we all know, a trip to the bathroom may sometimes be short. Then, uhm, it takes a little longer, which is why you usually have short, medium and long articles. Obviously you may just as well read these books on the couch or on the bus, but that is entirely up to you.

Here are some examples from each category for the curious among you:
Short - Medium - Long

Oh, and don't forget to read the so called Running Feet, the short factoids at the bottom of each page. I guess those are for everyone who's super fast in the bath, ha. By the way, you may follow these factoids on Twitter too.

Not yet convinced? Head over tho the Bathroom Reader Institute's website and check out their daily posts to get an idea whether you might like the books or not.

Who do I recommend these books to?
Everyone who's interested in facts that are also fun.


000

Have you heard or even read Uncle John's Bathroom Reader? If so, do you like these books? If not, do you think they might be something to try out? Let me know!

July 26, 2012

Picture Garden - Let Color Carry The World On Its Shoulders

LET COLOR CARRY THE WORLD ON ITS SHOULDERS

New No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop Winner

My oh my ... I had to pick a new winner as the first one never replied to me. Strange how this happened the second time this month and I wonder if it's got to do with vacation time? Can't be helped. I'm not going to hunt down winners by giving Fox Mulder a ring, so a new one it is.

The new lucky winner of the
No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop is
who has won a $10,00 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!

July 25, 2012

Bookish Etsy - DictionaryArtPrintz

Let's welcome Tam from DictionaryArtPrintz who will be my guest today! There are plenty of things one can do with books, such as reading them, but you can also do a bit of upcycling of old volumes which is exactly what Tam does. She offers a wide array of different art prints and you know what? The following prints totally reflect how yours truly gets through her day ...

First a nice hot cuppa tea!

Then it's time to get down to business aka writing!

When you're off to a slow start it always helps to channel one of your fav authors!

If that doesn't help, falling into holes and talking to bunnies might do the trick!

And as a last (delicious) resort ... cupcakes!

And now, let's hear a bit more about how Tam came to create her lovely prints!

I have always had a love of antiques, old books & magazines, and history. I am also a mixed-media artist, and I especially love working with papers and old print media and ephemera in my artwork. I saw some people on Etsy.com selling vintage images as downloadable files for use in artwork and for iron-on fabric projects. Then I became aware of people who were using similar images printed onto old book, music, and dictionary pages. I fell in love with them and thought, "Hey! I can do that!". So, Dictionary Art Printz was born. I haven't been doing this very long, but I love the process of finding antique public-domain images. I love the history of it. I also love taking some of those old illustrations and adding my own "spin" on them by adding other elements to create a type of antique digital collage of my own. The Etsy community is great, and I very much enjoy interacting with the customers who buy my dictionary art prints. The customers make it all worthwhile.

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Tam! It's been a pleasure having you!

Any print(s) that tickles your fancy? Let me (and Tam) know!

July 24, 2012

Quote Garden - Give me something to blog about

And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology.
Simon Dumenco

In at least one way we are atypical bloggers. That’s because we just keep on posting. The typical blogger, like most people who go on diets and budgets, quits after a few months, weeks, or in many cases, days.
Stephen J. Dubner

I guess my point is, if you’re one of these people considering giving up on blogging in exchange for paying more attention to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace, or whatever they throw at us mere mortals, bear in mind you are giving up on something rather unique and wonderful.
Hugh Macleod

The more popular a person thinks he is in the blogosphere, the thinner his skin and the thicker his hypocrisy. This should be exactly the opposite: the higher you go the thicker the skin and thinner the hypocrisy.
Guy Kawasaki

Yes, blogging is entertainment. It is performance. Each blog post a show, sometimes an opera, sometimes a 30 second commercial. Like a show, it may start with a bang, lead you along from song to song, have a great climatic moment, then leave the audience wanting more.
Lorelle Van Fossen

July 23, 2012

A Writer's Life - My name is mine and mine alone

Recently a weird thought hit me. Of course, weird thoughts hit me all the time, but this one did stand out. Literally. In front of my nose. Like a thought bubble you see in cartoons. The thought didn't strike me while writing. Not even in a phase of plotting. I was reading when suddenly a question appeared in front of me like a floating banner and made the pages I've just been concentrating on kinda blurry. Alright, it was late too and I had just orchestrated a yawning symphony which might have something to do with my perception. Yet. The question was there and it actually made me put down the book, not because I was so very tired, but due to the fact that my mind needed room for further contemplation.

Do authors ever use their own names for any of their characters?

So, do they? As for myself I can negate the question.
First of all, my stories are usually set in either alien worlds (which calls for unique names, quite obviously), or if I do remain on planet Earth, my characters can be found anywhere between Boston and Dublin (aka the English-speaking world). The latter would not easily accommodate my hard to pronounce name in a satisfying manner to the reader.
Secondly, I most likely wouldn't pick the English version of my name, being Bridget, either.

The logical question would be why not?

For one, my name is already part of the book. Think author's name on the cover. And then it would just be odd to write about someone who's obviously not yourself yet listens to the same name. I'm well aware that in real life people who've got the same name often know each other, in fact we had three (yes, three) Birgit's in my class back in high school which didn't bother the three of us as much as our teachers, as I'd like to add. Basically, when our name's been called we just pretended that the teacher must have meant one of the others. Plus it didn't exactly help that one of the other Birgit's was my best friend and we sat side by side in class. But I digress.


My point is, using your own name seems a bit strange when naming characters. I guess I shouldn't rule out ever using the variation of Bridget, but still. I wouldn't even go so far as to say it'd be narcissistic to do this, but one thing's for certain - as much as a reader will sometimes wonder about how much of the author him/herself, can be found in a certain character, the same name would feel like a bit of a not so subtle hint that the author might have put more of him/herself into this fictitious person. Obviously this doesn't even have to be the case, but it's understandable why one could come to this conclusion.

Now, does anyone know about authors who used their names for one of their characters? Any Stephen to be found in a King novel? Any Joanne in a Harry Potter book? Personally I never consciously noticed authors using their first names in a book, but maybe you did?

And if you're a writer yourself - would you ever name one of your characters after yourself? Or maybe you already have? Let me know.

No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop Winner

Apparently ya all love giveaways where there isn't any hoop jumping involved. Can't say I blame you! There were an astounding 784 entries which must be some new record on my blog. Of course there can only be one winner, but fear not, the next giveaway hop is just around the corner, starting August 1st. And you know what? No hoop jumping then either!

The lucky winner of the No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop is
Linda Kish
who has won a $10,00 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!

July 22, 2012

The Postman Files - Oops ... I accidentally ordered a few books!

Remember the plan about not buying more than twelve books each month? Well, forget about the plan, my mouse (or shall I say, my right index finger) had other ideas. Funny how my willpower got me through six months of not buying any books, but now it literally evaporated into thin air. Either way, I ordered, books rolled in. And I can't say I'm unhappy about that. Nope, not one tiny bit!

Won
Silence (Becca Fitzpatrick)

Bought

Bought
Spackled And Spooked (Jennie Bentley)
The Diva Paints The Town (Krista Davis)
String Of Lies (Mary Ellen Hughes)
Ringing In Murder (Kate Kingsbury)
Cookie Dough Or Die (Virginia Lowell)
Organize Your Corpses (Mary Jane Maffini)
Bundle Of Trouble (Diana Orgain)
Knit One, Kill Two (Maggie Sefton)
Dying In Style (Elaine Viets)
Murder Unleashed (Elaine Viets)

The Reading Files - It is a truth universally acknowledged ...

... that a book blogger taking a holiday would barely have had time to open a book before the first mosquito sets in for a landing. Or something like that. Actually, to be perfectly honest with you, I am not much of a reader when on vacation, but I figured a few lazy days at the spa do warrant taking at least a book along. One book, my dears. And I didn't even finish it while away. I made it to page 368 though (before polishing it off yesterday afternoon). You see, I spent my time soaking in the water, trying not to get a sunburn (which of course I did despite slathering on a gallon of sunscreen and staying in the shade) taking some leisurely walks and taking about a gazillion pictures of the sheep and pigs they had nearby (you can tell someone's from "the city" when she'll run around with her camera and snaps photos of pretty much anything "rural"). Anyway.

Snuff (Terry Pratchett)

Thoughts. Vimes is going on vacation which seemed a perfect fit for taking the novel on my own vacay as well. Good thing I didn't stumble over any dead goblins though and while I did miss the city aka Ankh-Morpork a wee bit, watching Vimes (almost) singlehandedly solving a vicious crime certainly made up for this.

Random quote. "What in the world have you got on you that tells me you are an official policeman?", enquired Vimes over his shoulder.
"I have the official truncheon, sir. It's a family heirloom."
(p. 136)

Verdict. Discworldian whodunnit with a bit of pride and lots of prejudice!

Review - The Knockoff Economy (Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman)

From the shopping mall to the corner bistro, knockoffs are everywhere in today's marketplace. Conventional wisdom holds that copying kills creativity, and that laws that protect against copies are essential to innovation--and economic success. But are copyrights and patents always necessary? In The Knockoff Economy, Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman provocatively argue that creativity can not only survive in the face of copying, but can thrive.
The Knockoff Economy approaches the question of incentives and innovation in a wholly new way--by exploring creative fields where copying is generally legal, such as fashion, food, and even professional football. By uncovering these important but rarely studied industries, Raustiala and Sprigman reveal a nuanced and fascinating relationship between imitation and innovation. In some creative fields, copying is kept in check through informal industry norms enforced by private sanctions. In others, the freedom to copy actually promotes creativity. High fashion gave rise to the very term "knockoff," yet the freedom to imitate great designs only makes the fashion cycle run faster--and forces the fashion industry to be even more creative.


Review
On first look The Knockoff Economy by Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman seems to deal with many an economist's favorite topic - the omnipresent cheap imitations of goods in today's global market. On second look the authors present so much more which was not only a pleasant surprise, but also a wildly fascinating, well researched and engagingly written journey through the wide world of patents, trademarks and copyright.
Did you know that a painting of a molten chocolate cake is protected by copyright, yet the molten cake itself (aka the recipe) cannot be protected? Many people seem to have a rather blurred image of what can or cannot be protected and while I know a thing or two about Intellectual Property myself, I also learned quite a few new and often surprising facts here.
Yet the actual emphasis of this book is on the relation between imitation and innovation. The obvious question would be, who is going to create if others are free to take your idea? After all one should think that imitation would rather curb than spur innovation, yet the effects of copying on creativity cannot be as simple deduced as the different examples the authors present prove. Besides, where there are no laws protecting your idea, society's norm system often includes informal but powerful punishments. And there goes the comedian's reputation if he dares stealing someone else's joke.
In short: Absorbing and insightful trip into the world of Intellectual Property!

4/5 Trees

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.

Review - An Economist Gets Lunch (Tyler Cowen)

One of the most influential economists of the decade-and the New York Times bestselling author of The Great Stagnation-boldly argues that just about everything you've heard about food is wrong.
Food snobbery is killing entrepreneurship and innovation, says economist, preeminent social commentator, and maverick dining guide blogger Tyler Cowen. Americans are becoming angry that our agricultural practices have led to global warming-but while food snobs are right that local food tastes better, they're wrong that it is better for the environment, and they are wrong that cheap food is bad food. The food world needs to know that you don't have to spend more to eat healthy, green, exciting meals. At last, some good news from an economist!


Review
What the cover of the book already implies is certainly not all that economist and food blogger Tyler Cowen broaches in An Economist Gets Lunch. Of course grabbing himself lunch is part of it, but he also discusses his adventures in shopping at supermarkets and how to perfect your barbecue skills, as well as more serious topics such as hunger and effects of genetically modified ingredients.
As extensive as the varied themes in the book are, I must admit that it turned out to be a mix that made me wonder what this book was trying to be? As much as food is the common thread here, chapters lack a connection to each other. Turn the page and you will find yourself in a whole different book. In between his personal observations and insights, a fair share of foodie advice, Cowen also raises some more profound questions, eg about food production. Obviously this mixing of light entertainment and seriousness only adds to this scattershot impression.
Looking at the chapters individually, some of which I found to be quite worthwhile, I must admit that the author's ability to ramble on and on made reading rather tedious at times. Add the sometimes simplistic and biased views, this certainly didn't improve my overall impression of this book.
On the whole, if the topic generally interests you I'm sure that you will find chapters that cater to your tastes (pun intended).
In short: Long-winded, cliched view on food stuff!

2/5 Trees

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.

July 21, 2012

Pajama Musings - Once there was a library

Now, close your eyes and imagine the library of your dreams. First though, don't forget that you need to open your eyes again, otherwise you won't be able to read on. So ... about the library that you created in your mind. What's it look like?

Copyright by DigsDigs

Yay, totally want to have a home library like that!

Copyright by Marc Cortez

You've got to be kidding me!? 
I like my eReader, sure, but this *shudders* is taking it too far, wouldn't you agree?

So, spill ... what does your ideal library look like?

July 20, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Let's talk about favorites!


Many, such as Sandra C., asked, "What is your favorite genre?" and Judith R. delves even deeper by inquiring, "What's you favorite non fiction subject?"

Now, I am not exactly specializing on just one or two non fiction genres when it comes to choosing books for review (or reading in general, for that matter), instead I'm picking books almost haphazardly from the wide field of non fiction. So it may come as no big surprise that I'm honestly not able to name a particular genre that I love the most.

Yet I can let you in on a little secret, a topic that has such an obvious appeal to me that I recently created a list on Goodreads for it. Well, I would have added my choice of books to an already existing list, but shockingly enough, none had existed so far. The topic can't simply be pressed into just one single genre though, so I've read books that qualify as memoir as well as books on economy, all dealing with said topic.
Anyone want to know which topic that might be?
Shopping.
Yes, shopping.
Stop laughing.
I'm serious.
For the curious, you may find the list here.

Of course this isn't the only topic I love to read about, but seeing the length of my list of books dealing with anything related to shopping (and those are just the books I read in the last two years), it's safe to say I'm sort of a bookish Becky Bloomwood *cough*.

And you know why I particularly love Judith's question? See, when it comes to non fiction, it's not necessarily the genre itself, but a specific field of interest, which will make you pick up certain books. And, as will be something that I definitely plan to further discuss in this feature, it all starts with one single question - what interests you? As far as non fiction book recommendations go, that's the starting point for your future adventures in the dark and mysterious library and/or book shop aisles filled with non fiction a plenty.

So, don't be intimidated by a genre label that sounds awfully boring and dry to you, instead focus on subjects that fascinate you. Think about a topic you've always found intriguing, something you've always wanted to know more about. 

000

How about yourself? Which non fiction genres tickle your fancy? Any preferred topics you love to read about? Please share!

July 18, 2012

Bookish Etsy - Novel Creations

Let's welcome a very creative lady - Karen from Novel Creations! Karen combines two of my loves in her shop, the love of books and the love of handbags! What can I say? Reading isn't my only passion. And to carry a book with me where ever I go? Perfect! Roomy enough to throw in keys and wallet, plus my new Kindle *wink*.

And there are as many different purses possible as books are out there, but see for yourself ...

For the blood thirsty!

For wannabe wizards!

For the lovers of modern American literature!

For the young at heart!

For the faithfully devoted!

And now time for a short Q&A with Karen!

What gave you the idea to create purses from books?
Working for a used book store, I would bring home the books they wanted to throw away. I just could not see them taking a dive in the dumpster. I collect books like the crazy woman that collects cats!
With an attic full of books, I realized I could make into a purse. After a lot of trial and error, I figured it out and this has been a fun-filled adventure learning how to make these purses better and better each time I make them!


I can only imagine how hard it is to design these purses. I wonder, how long does it take to create one?
When making a purse, it takes me about 2 hours for the selection process. However, if I have everything I need for assembly, then it takes me about an hour per purse. I am a perfectionist so I am assembling with great care as I know once my customer receives her purse, she will be looking at it intently. So, it has to be perfect! 

And how do you price the book purses? Buying and re-using hardcover books can't be cheap, right?
Also, when I priced my product, I took into consideration the economy and I take advantage of bulk purchasing for my supplies. This allows me to offer the best price possible to my customer. I offer a fair price for a great quality product that doesn't break your pocketbook!

Are there any favorite books which you've transformed from book to purse?
All of the books are my favorite! I love custom orders because then I get to read a new book!!

What would you like to say to new customers/potential buyers?
A book purse makes a unique gift for that special person that has everything! I just betcha they don't have a book purse!

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Karen! Your creations certainly make the hearts of us book obsessed girls beat faster ... I mean, hey ... book purse!!

How do you like this unique idea of the book purse? Found any favorites in Karen's shop? Which book would you like to see being made into a purse? Please share!

For everyone who wants to own their own bookish purse Karen is now offering 15%-OFF your next purchase in her shop - just use the coupon code GARDEN. This code is valid until further notice!

July 17, 2012

Quote Garden - Curiouser and curiouser

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

I wonder if I've been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

If you drink much from a bottle marked 'poison' it is certain to disagree with you sooner or later.

By Lewis Carroll

Christmas in July Giveaway Hop Winner

Remember me asking what you thought I'd be giving away in this giveaway hop? For some very odd reason most were thinking along the lines of bookmarks. Come on, I'm not that much of a Scrooge that I'd only gift a lousy bookmark. Then of course where those who took a guess at a Kindle. Haha, optimists. Gotta love them. But nope. I'm too broke for that.

Yet quite a few were thinking in the right direction after all ... book swag. Of course a lot of things can be considered book swag, and while some mentioned stuff like a mug or even a tea towel with a bookish text on it, in the end no one guessed exactly what the prize is.

Alright, time to reveal the big secret *drum roll please* because the winner will have a choice from one of these. Neat, huh?

The lucky winner of the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop is
Rabid Fox @ Wag the Fox

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

No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the
(July 17th - July 22nd)

This is another hop for all the people who hate jumping through hoops to enter giveaways. This is a no strings attached, no requirements to enter hop. Well, on second thought, you are required to do one tiny little thing ... fill out a form!

I'm giving away an Amazon Giftcard worth $ 10,00 (if you're from the US) or a book of choice worth up to $ 10,00 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!
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on July 23rd and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

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

July 16, 2012

A Writer's Life - Would you like some German with that?

If you look close enough while reading a book in the English language I'm sure you've noticed that sometimes words pop up that aren't, well, English. Personally I always have to smile when I read and come across a German word in an English text, because ... somehow it's neat, that's all. It even makes me contemplate maybe using this or that German word when I'm writing in English myself. A Kindergarten here, some Schadenfreude there, you get the idea.

Copyright by Papa Scott

So yes, evidently English has borrowed quite a number of words from German. Some have become a natural part of everyday English vocabulary (oh look, a  Kindergarten), while others are more of the intellectual or literary kind (the good old Zeitgeist). Last but not least there are those words for which there is no true English equivalent (such as Schadenfreude).

I thought you might want to learn a bit more on this subject, so here's a short run down of words that will (for the most part anyway) have become familiar to the attentive reader.

Angst
"fear" or more precisely a neurotic feeling of anxiety and depression

Autobahn
"freeway"

Doppelgänger
literally this translates to "double goer" (which is just plain weird) - what it refers to is a ghostly double, look-alike, or clone of a person

Ersatz
a replacement or substitute, usually implying inferiority to the original

Fest
"celebration"

Gemütlichkeit
an atmosphere of cozy comfort, warm cordiality

Gesundheit
"health" (in German we use the word when someone sneezes and you say "bless you")

Reich
"empire, realm" this word is usually used in reference to the "Third Reich"

Rucksack
"back pack"

Strudel
a type of pastry made with thin layers of dough, rolled up with a fruit filling

Of course these are just a handful of examples of which I'm quite certain you've heard some before.

What about German then? Any English loan words here? You bet. Quite a lot of English expressions have sneaked into "my language", words that are often referred to as so-called Denglish.

Here's a little taste of words you may stumble across in German texts: Airbag, Blogger (ha, gotta love that one), Camping, Display, Fastfood, Gentleman, High-heels, Job, Online, Party, Smalltalk, Ticket, Update, and ... wait for it ... Zombie.
Again, that's naming just a few of numerous English words which many of us aren't even aware of being substitutes for German words. In most cases we do have German words for something, but we are using the English ones instead, and quite naturally too. Need an example? We call Babies also "Baby", while the German word for it is "Säugling".

How about yourself? Any favorite German words you've found in English texts? Any surprises about the English words we are mixing with the German language? Let me know.

July 15, 2012

The Postman Files - Let's get dressed!

After my new Kindle arrived about a week ago I realized that it had nothing to wear. We couldn't have that or could we? So I browsed around a little (ok, for hours on end) on Etsy to find the perfect case for it. I'm not the fastest with some decisions *sigh* though I'd like to blame this partly on the fact that a lot of shops use the most hideous fabrics/materials (alright, I'm a bit of a minimalist with some things), but then finally I found what I had been looking for at nimoo a shop specializing in cases for everything from eReaders to iPods. Great quality and fast shipping, so if you need some clothes for your eReader too I can only recommend this shop!

Bought
77 Shadow Street (Dean Koontz)
The Silent Girl (Tess Gerritsen)
Snuff (Terry Pratchett)
Rescue Me (Rachel Gibson)
Clutches and Curses (Dorothy Howell)
50% Off Murder (Josie Belle)

Bought for Kindle
Agatha Raisin And The Perfect Paragon (M.C. Beaton)
The Mournful Teddy (John J. Lamb)

And now, which books too choose for next week's trip to the spa? Decisions decisions ...

The Reading Files - Oh my Kindle!

I've been glued to my Kindle this week. And who can blame me? I like playing with new and shiny things ... and yes, books are better than diamond rings! Did I just use a rhyme? On purpose? Oh well.

 Dead World (Shaun Jeffrey)

Thoughts. Zombies, yay! No wait! Gods, yay! Welcome to a world where winning the lottery means you become, err, immortal. Not. Zombies? Yes. Different? You bet.

Last line. Isaiah opened the book and started to read. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

Verdict. Fast paced zombie novella with a twist!

The Mutilation Machination (Shaun Jeffrey)

Thoughts. Now there's a creepy cover if I ever saw one and it goes wonderfully well with the stories featured. Yet I will not claim of really (or at least remotely) getting what the title giving story is about. Don't I hate when that happens?

Random quote. Just you remember, child. When things seem uncertain the answer lies at hand. (from In Darkness)

Verdict. Neat collection of eerily weird short stories!

Voyeurs Of Death (Shaun Jeffrey)

Thoughts. I didn't care much for the first story but after that ... what a ride! You've got some scarily twisted tales here that's for sure. It obviously paid off that Shaun was brought up in a house in a cemetery. Just sayin'.

Last lines. Footsteps echoed outside the door and then stopped. Then the handle started to turn. I heard voices, my father and brother. I would never make Jake laugh again. Soon, everyone would be dark inside. (from Dark Inside)

Verdict. A real treat for the horrible minded!

Long Night Moon (SM Reine)

Thoughts. Turns out this isn't the last book in a trilogy but instead the third one in a quadrilogy. And you know what? It doesn't serve a filler purpose between novels at all. Great story line that kept me guessing right until the end!

Random quote. Rylie would have given it all away to cure her aunt. You could try biting her ... She pushed the thought back. It was way to dark for Christmas morning. (p. 134)

Verdict. A powerfully written wolfish who-dunnit!

Gray Moon Rising (SM Reine)

Thoughts. Once again Sara does not disappoint, well except for the fact that this is the end of the Season of the Moon series, boohoo! And while I found the conclusion intriguing, the end did feel a bit rushed. Shame, really.

Last words spoken. We still have all summer.

Verdict. A worthy finale to an awesome series!

Review - Grammar Girl's 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master In No Time (Mignon Fogarty)

Millions of people around the world communicate better thanks to Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, whose top-rated weekly grammar podcast has been downloaded more than 40 million times. Now she’s turning her attention to solving your worst problems—one troublesome word at a time.Are you feeling "all right" or "alright"? Does "biweekly" mean twice a week or every two weeks? Do you run a gauntlet or a gantlet? Is a pair of twins four people or two? The English language is always changing, and that means we are left with words and phrases that are only sort of wrong (or worse, have different definitions depending on where you look them up). How do you know which to use? Grammar Girl to the rescue! This handy reference guide contains the full 411 on 101 words that have given you trouble before—but will never again. Full of clear, straightforward definitions and fun quotations from pop culture icons such as Gregory House and J. K. Rowling, as well as from classical writers such as Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin, this highly-useable guidebook takes the guesswork out of your writing, so you’ll never be at a loss for words again.


Review
We've established when to use their, there and they're. Other words are a bit more tricky. In yet another installation of the Grammar Girl series, Mignon Fogarty presents 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master In No Time. Based upon the fact that language isn't static but ever changing there are plenty of words and expressions where it's often hard to be sure of not only how to write them correctly, but even more so use them in the right context. Obviously I've been using momentarily wrong all these years, and I have this slight feeling I might not be the only one.
Admittedly, at first I thought this would be a book for kids who never really paid attention at school and really need to brush up their grammar. Three pages later that impression was replaced by the realization that this is the kind of guidebook for literally anyone. Having learned English as a second language, and despite considering myself to have a pretty good grasp on it, this has been a tremendously helpful and illuminating read for me. The explanations on when (not) to use certain terms or expressions is spruced up with information on their origins and examples from classic books straight to your favorite series on TV. As dull as such a book might appear at first glance I promise you will not just learn a thing or two, it's also quite an entertaining page turner!
In short: Smart and instructive style guide not just for the grammar-impaired!

4/5 Trees

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.

Review - The Art Of Procrastination (John Perry)

This is not a book for Bill Gates. Or Hillary Clinton, or Steven Spielberg. Clearly they have no trouble getting stuff done. For the great majority of us, though, what a comfort to discover that we’re not wastrels and slackers, but doers ... in our own way. It may sound counterintuitive, but according to philosopher John Perry, you can accomplish a lot by putting things off. He calls it “structured procrastination” ...
-- In 1995, while not working on some project I should have been working on, I began to feel rotten about myself. But then I noticed something. On the whole, I had a reputation as a person who got a lot done and made a reasonable contribution ... A paradox. Rather than getting to work on my important projects, I began to think about this conundrum. I realized that
I was what I call a structured procrastinator: a person who gets a lot done by not doing other things. --



Review
I knew it. We (that would be procrastinators) actually do something. We're not just lazy bums. Granted, usually we do things to avoid getting more pressing stuff done. Then again, nobody's perfect. Or are we? Apparently perfectionism leads to procrastination. Sounds right to me.
In The Art Of Procrastination John Perry takes the reader on a trip through the mind of procrastinators. Being rational by nature is what sets humans apart from other animals, of course that doesn't necessarily mean that we choose to do what we think is best for us. We are usually aware of things we need to get done, yet we don't. Being a procrastinator himself, the author sheds light on the inner workings of people with this affliction and he does so in a lighthearted and encouraging way.
One suggestion that personally never failed me (or the author apparently) is scratching minor tasks like getting out of bed and making tea from my mental to-do list. A surprisingly motivating if somewhat quirky method, I admit.
From the hazards of computers straight to surprising fringe benefits of procrastination, from being horizontally organized to the challenge of working with non-procrastinators, this little volume might not be based on any scientific facts, yet turned out to be an utterly enjoyable and clever read for me.
Highly recommendable to everyone who rather puts off what can be done today until the day after tomorrow!
In short: Self-deprecating and fun, spiced with only a pinch of self-help!

4/5 Trees

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.

July 14, 2012

Pajama Musings - It's time to ... read!

When I was still a little kid my Saturdays sure looked different compared to my adult life. Long gone are the times when I would wake up, grab myself a cup of chamomile tea (please, don't judge me, I've had strange tastes as a wee child) and head back to bed where I would then indulge in a book and have a more substantial breakfast aka some chocolate. The good old times! Makes me pretty nostalgic just thinking about it *sigh*.

Copyright by Dormia Mattress 

Honestly, if you asked me now when's the last time that I read a book in the morning, or just generally before lunch, I'd have to think long and hard ... oh wait, when I spent a day at a spa just recently I did read some pages in between going for a swim and munching on a carrot. Alright then, it wasn't a carrot, but I did swim. Six laps to be exact. I realize that doesn't sound like a lot, especially considering that I had to take a break after each lap, but seeing how I am averse to anything sportive it's really not too bad. Anyway.

I still remember how much fun it was to lazily stay in bed all day long, just reading. Grocery shopping and doing the laundry? The parent's job. And I think the best days were the ones after Christmas, when I had unwrapped my presents, you know, the book shaped ones, of which I always tried to catch a glimpse through the gift wrap (in most cases to no avail despite my bookish X-ray vision) to get an idea which books exactly I might be getting (obviously it was too hard to wait for the unwrapping ceremony once everything was put underneath the tree - I've never been know for my patience, really).

These days I read mostly in the evening, sometimes in the afternoon, pretty much depending on the rest of my schedule. Delving into a book right after breakfast? I wish. And how decadent this even sounds. Long story short, in the next few weeks I will try to squeeze in some quality reading time early in the day. A Saturday morning dedicated to reading translates into a Friday afternoon involved in such mundane tasks as stocking up on broccoli and toilet paper. Getting out the vacuum cleaner will be demoted to last task of the day on a Sunday evening. My neighbor's are gonna love that!

How about you? When do you read? And most importantly, did you get involved in some morning reading fun as a kid yourself? Please share!

July 13, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Oh to review!


Amy S. wants to know, "How do you decide which non fiction books to review?" and Mary P. asks, "What kinds of non fiction did you have in mind for your blog - they vary considerably?"

With so many different sub genres, picking books for review is just as challenging when it comes to non fiction as it is for fiction. There are bloggers who will settle for specific genres, say, anything paranormal or maybe romance, then there are those who will pick from a wider range of available genres. What they all have in common - and this is a trait I obviously share - is that everyone will gravitate towards those genres that they enjoy reading the most. After all, why read something that doesn't interest you?

Ultimately, it works like this - a book cover and title catch my attention and the blurb gets me hooked! Time to request a review copy! This strategy works for any book, not just non fiction, obviously.

It's true, non fiction comes in all shapes and sizes, as does fiction. I bet most of you were rather surprised about the long list of sub genres in the survey, and I'm sure this list is all but complete. As much as I have a soft spot for certain fiction genres, such as science fiction and cozy mysteries, the same can be said about non fiction too. And this is basically how I pick books to review on my blog.

My preferred genres are shockingly diverse, so I'm obviously covered in soft spots, come to think of it. From business to lifestyle, from science to travel, there are hardly any genres which I wouldn't want to read. No wait, that's not quite true. Risking a look on my list again I must confess that anything that's got to do with sports and  technology is not likely to ever end up on my reading list. Again, no sense in reading something that doesn't interest me.

In short, I'd say if I wouldn't want to read it just for fun, I wouldn't read it solely for review purposes either. And all of you casting me doubtful looks ... yes, non fiction can be fun too.

000

Now it's your turn! Regardless of whether you are a blogger and review them, or just a reader who likes to read them - what are your preferred non fiction genres? Comment away!

July 11, 2012

Bookish Etsy - BlueSkyInking

Today I'm proud to present you the very talented Liz from BlueSkyInking. When I first visited her shop I was instantly taken with the charming drawings she makes and Liz, who's a professional children's book illustrator, was happy to introduce you all not just to her shop, but also share her love for Jane Austen.


I’ve been drawing all my life; I can’t remember a time when I haven’t scribbled and doodled on any available scrap of paper. Even when I’m not physically drawing, I’m thinking about it and roughing out pictures in my head. At an early age my grandfather introduced me to the delight of books and reading; he was such a consummate story-teller, feeding my imagination with magic carpets, dragons, pirates and other characterful oddities. With such a background, it’s probably no surprise that when I grew up I decided to be a children’s book illustrator. I studied illustration at Art College for four years, after which I found myself an agent and started receiving publishing commissions. I have been working as an illustrator for 20 years and am currently signed with Plum Pudding Illustration.


My passion for reading and books has never subsided and whilst working as an illustrator, I also studied for a degree in English Literature at university. I wrote my final year thesis on Jane Austen’s work, so I’m very familiar with her novels and characters, which I hope is visible in my illustrations.


I first opened BlueSkyInking in 2010, offering mostly animal cartoons and assorted historical and literary character illustrations. Since then BlueSkyInking has undergone several reincarnations to emerge as the shop it is now, honing in on literary themed artwork, prints and cards. I decided to concentrate on ‘the classics’ after creating my ‘Cast of’ series of illustrations of Jane Austen’s novels, which, to my very great surprise and pleasure, were received well by customers on Etsy and also by the Jane Austen House Museum, which now stocks my work in the museum shop.

Although Austen is my favourite author, I love all the classics because they offer such a rich source of characters, wonderful stories, beautiful use of language, and they merit re-reading with fresh eyes and new interpretations. I think these books also appeal to our desire to return to a bygone age, to different manners and lifestyles, to somewhere far away from the 21st century, whilst still exploring recognisably modern themes and human concerns.


In conjunction with my publishing work, I aim with BlueSkyInking to continue creating original artwork, prints and cards, extending the range of authors on offer to literary lovers everywhere.

Thanks so much for being my guest, Liz! It was pleasure having you here today!

Feel like stalking Liz a bit? Check out the links below. And while you're at it, don't forget to show her shop some love and maybe let me know about your favorite pieces there too!