August 31, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Aren't all books non fiction?

After the first couple of haphazardly scheduled posts in this new feature I realized that I need some kind of order, plus some catchy ideas to lure in more readers into the wide world of non fiction. So far page views left quite a bit to be desired. Just sayin'.

I already have some neat ideas which you'll all get to see ... nope, not next week, because I will take the next two Fridays off, followed by my two weeks vacation at the end of September. Some of these ideas include posts on book covers (look, pretty pictures), discussion posts (usually known as soliloquies), and the trusty book recommendations which I have already started on this summer ...


See y'all again in October!

August 29, 2012

Bookish Etsy - Lead me into temptation ...

Apart from those Etsy shops which specialize in all kinds of creative bookish goodness, there are those which offer a broader variety of handmade items that can also inspire the book lover in all of us to fill up that cart.

Here are just a few lovely things I'd buy in a heartbeat ...








from Storiarts

Copyright of all pictures belongs to the respective shop owners.

August 28, 2012

Quote Garden - Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise I rise I rise.

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

August 27, 2012

A Writer's Life - Being A Blogger

For the life of me I couldn't find a Book Blogger Meme ... being a combination of too lazy (blame it on the summer heat) and too much of a perfectionist (which means this post would have gone live in March 2014) I didn't try myself on creating such a meme for the species of book bloggers.

Yet. I found some real neat Blogger memes which I wanted to share with you instead.

Copyright by The First Echo

Copyright by Frabz

And because A Writer's Life is about ... writing ... one more for the road!

Copyright by Jenni Merritt

Old Books in Need of a New Home

Welcome everyone to yet another edition of Old Books in Need of a New Home where I'll be giving away not only one but two nice sized boxes filled with books. Yep, I'm seriously running out of space and what better way to keep my downstairs neighbor's ceiling from sagging than by sharing some books with you?

This time I have some real special treats for you, my dears! Not only are (almost) all of the books in like-new condition, there are also several signed copies in the boxes! Sounds good? Read on.

What's up for grabs?

Box 1
A whole lot of YA, plus swag!


A Season Of Eden (Jennifer Laurens)
Heavenly (Jennifer Laurens)
Overprotected (Jennifer Laurens)
Wake (Lisa MacMann)
Radiance (Alyson Noel)

Seeing how I'm not all that big on swag I decided to throw an envelope full of swag which accumulated over the past year into the box. Mostly the usual suspects such as bookmarks, postcards, but there's also a magnet and a sticker to be found.

Condition?
I've won the books by Jennifer Laurens which means they have been read once, but are in excellent condition, plus they are all signed and/or personalized too. The other two books are in used, but good condition.

Box 2
An eclectic mix with crime, romance and memoirs!


Home To Roost (Tessa Hainsworth)
The Good Daughter (Jasmin Darznik)
No Evidence Of A Crime (S. Connell Vondrak) *
Get Lenin (Robert Craven) *
Invitation To Ruin (Bronwen Evans) *
The Great Betrayal (Millenia Black) *

Condition?
I've either won these books or received them for review which basically means they have been read once, but are in excellent condition. The books featuring a * are signed and/or personalized.

All you have to do is fill out the form!
You may enter for only one or even both boxes in this form, but you can only win one!
This giveaway is now closed!

Rules
Comments do not count as entries - you must fill out the form!
You have to be a follower of my blog, though I'm not picky - GFC, RSS feed, e-mail, Facebook, Networked Blogs, Bloglovin', Linky Followers or Goodreads - what ever works best for you!
Due to shipping costs this giveaway is open to Europe only!
Unlike all other giveaways on my blog the winner will be handpicked by me!

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

August 26, 2012

The Reading Files - In the summer time ...

Take a handful of reading slump, add two pounds of summer heat, stir for a week. That'd be me this week, basically. Still I read two books, and because I need to catch up with books for review anyway, I stuck my nose into two non-fiction tomes. Alright, maybe not tomes, but currently everything over 50 pages seems like an ordeal to me.

The American Dream (Lawrence R. Samuel)

Thoughts. What are dreams made of? Even more so, what's The American Dream about? Is there such a thing as a European or even Global Dream? Interesting, with fascinating excursions into pop culture.Yet admittedly a bit on the dry side.

Book quote. America seems an Anti-Paradise to me, but it has so much space and so many possibilities and ultimately one does come to belong here. (Albert Einstein)

Verdict. Concise if somewhat prosaic study on The American Dream!

Hollywood Unknowns (Anthony Slide)

Thoughts. The film industry in its early stages. And already everyone wanted to be part of it. What better way to kick off your career than starting out as an extra? Or maybe not. Mesmerizing and disillusioning at the same time. Film buffs, you'll need to read this one!

Conversation starter. Casting telephone operators adopted a form of abbreviated speech. The most depressing one syllable would be "Nerk" signifying "no work".

Verdict. An utter delight for all film aficionados!

New Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop Winner

Apparently this summer heat makes people's brains melt and no one bothers to check their e-mails and/or spam folders. Third time in two months I had to do a re-draw. This is getting ridiculous! Anyway, new winner it is ...

The new (and hopefully definite) lucky winner of the Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop is
Patty
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!

August 24, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Recommended Reads #2


So you like to read books. Or even more so, you like reading novels. Maybe the classics. Maybe mainstream bestsellers.

Now tell me, are you ever curious about why the author implemented this or that in the plot? How (s)he decided on the title? After all, many of us love to read author interviews or guest posts in which they let us in on their little secret world of creating their characters and the likes. This kind of background information is often fascinating and brings even more dimension to the actual novel. Put it all together in a book and call it non fiction which it invariably is, and you shy away in fear. Or maybe I only underestimate your curiosity!

I admit, some books about books can border on dull, but then there are those that are worth reading. In Why Not Catch-21 (Gary Dexter) you learn about how books got their titles. And, come on, who's never wondered about how certain books got their title? A lot of titles are pretty much self-explainatory, while others seem, well, strange and certainly ask for some further explanation.
Presented as brief and succinctly written nibbles you'll encounter fifty books here, from The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus and Moby Dick, straight to The Postman Always Rings Twice and Clockwork Orange. Personally I found this to be a fresh, entertaining and intelligent read which admittedly might not be for everyone. Unless, of course, I piqued your curiosity about the stories behing the titles.

But maybe you want to delve even deeper. The title isn't all there is to a novel after all. Have you ever wondered why certain books make it onto bestseller lists, or even more so, why some books will rank high in sales for decades? In Hit Lit (James Hall) this is exactly what you'll find out about. Which character traits do your protagonists need? Why is geography important? This and more is being discussed here with twelve examples from, obviously, the bestseller lists. Just think Gone With The Wind and The Da Vinci Code. The books, not the movies, mind you. This engrossing, informative, and accessible book is not just for the reader, but also something I can recommended to writers.

Who do I recommend these books to?
Everyone who's interested in a look behind the covers (pun intended).

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Are you interested in books about books? Maybe you've even read such books before. If so, please share which ones - recommendations are always welcome!

August 23, 2012

Picture Garden - Aqua

AQUA

Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop Winner

The lucky winner of the Last Days of Freedom 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!

August 22, 2012

Bookish Etsy - Lettershop

There are writers and there are stylish writers. Now you might argue that there's no need to look like Jackie O. when finally emerging from behind your desk to go grocery shopping. Let this picture sink in for a moment. Now what would be more fitting for the trendy writer than something that connects them with their passion? Can you say gorgeous typewriter accessories and jewelry?

That's my cue to introduce you to Karla's Lettershop which is the place to go to look the part ...




And now a round of applause for the creator of these pretties!

My name is Karla Vandebeek and I’m the owner of the Lettershop on etsy. As a child I was always creating little books for my friends. I was also an avid reader – reading 10 books a week was not unusual for me.

At the same time I cannot remember a time when I wasn't creative - it is a bit like breathing to me - although breathing is more important, i admit :). So given my huge love for books and all that surrounds it (i wanted to be a writer when i grew up), it's no wonder that the Lettershop was born.

The idea of using parts of antique typewriters that are usually just tucked away into a corner on a stuffy addic, was very appealing to me. Every jewelry piece made of such a typewriter key has it’s own story already within it. We don’t know what it is – was the typewriter used during the war to type important notes on? Have loveletters been written on it? Or was it used by a true ‘mad men’ (the tv series) secretary to do her office job on?

I embrace the fact that you carry a little piece of history with you at all times and at the same time add your own story to it as well ...

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Karla! The thought about the history of those typewriters really put me into a dreamy mood. If your creations don't make the heart of any writer beat faster, honestly I don't know what else would!

Now it's time to do a little stalking. How do you like these unique ideas of using typewriter keys? Fashionable, wouldn't you agree? Found any favorites in the shop? Please share!

(the place to find more info about her business and about the promotions/new items)

For everyone who wants to own their own piece of typewriter jewelry/accessory Karla is now offering 10%-OFF your next purchase in her shop - just use the coupon code THEBOOKGARDEN. This code is valid through September 15th!

Bookish Etsy Giveaway Winner

Let's start off with a big thank you to Erin for sponsoring last week's Bookish Etsy Giveaway which, not all that surprisingly, has been really popular with you all. Of course the more entries, the smaller the chance that your entry will get picked, right? And there can only be one winner, a very happy one at that!

Of course if it shouldn't be your name announced below, please remember that you've still got until August 24th to receive 25%-Off your purchase by using coupon code BOOKGARDEN25!

The lucky winner of the Bookish Etsy Giveaway is
Wolfswan1
who has won a necklace of choice from Bookish Charm!

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

August 21, 2012

Quote Garden - In the shop window

In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven't Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn't Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too. Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:

the Books You've Been Planning To Read For Ages,

the Books You've Been Hunting For Years Without Success,

the Books Dealing With Something You're Working On At The Moment,

the Books You Want To Own So They'll Be Handy Just In Case,

the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,

the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,

the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified,

Now you have been able to reduce the countless embattled troops to an array that is, to be sure, very large but still calculable in a finite number; but this relative relief is then undermined by the ambush of the Books Read Long Ago Which It's Now Time To Reread and the Books You've Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It's Time To Sit Down And Really Read Them.

If On A Winter's Night A Traveler (Italo Calvino)

August 20, 2012

A Writer's Life - Pen Name

I guess there are just too many people living on this planet to somehow avoid sharing the same name with a couple of them. You might want to look up your name in the telephone book. Or maybe not. A few might actually find out that they are blessed with a name that no other person shares with them. Praise yourself lucky. Middle names are often a sheet anchor. Sometimes they're not.

For the records – my full name is Birgit Elisabeth Lehner.

When I entered a writing competition a few years back, winning 2nd place, I suddenly got a call from – you'd never guess – a woman with the same name as mine, including the middle name. She told me that people had been congratulating her for winning and she had been absolutely clueless what everyone was talking about. She contacted the magazine and ended up on the telephone line with me. Imagine my surprise. I mean, it sure was funny. But still. I was a wee bit pissed. Most of all, I knew I had to do something about this. I could hardly blame my parents for the name they had given me. I could not blame that other woman either. Still I didn't quite like that coincidence, especially as she mentioned working for the APA (Austrian Press Agency) which also explains why people who knew her assumed it must have been her writing that short-story. That gal was writing. Like yours truly.

They say we all have a twin out there somewhere, though  I've been hoping it wouldn't be a twin in name but maybe some exotic stripper ... ok, just joking! Obviously I've been watching one too many episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

Anyway. My mission was obvious by that time. Though I might add that I had been thinking about a pen name before too. Playing around with different possibilities. Nothing too far removed from my own name. Nothing flashy. Something that was me. Something that shows where I'm coming from. Yet something that's not being shared by anyone else. Hopefully. Actually it didn't take too long for me to find the name I wanted to use as my pen name. While I have never been too fond of my first name as a child I decided to keep that one. I kinda grew a liking to it. It's Swedish by the way. I'm not. But that's a whole different story. Furthermore I decided to drop my middle name. No other reason except for trying to keep the full name short and the additional Elisabeth would have gotten in the way of that goal. Left was the question of what to do with the last name. As mentioned above, I wanted to stay true to myself and where I am coming from. And like an epiphany it became clear to me one day. I choose my maternal grandparent's last names, putting my grandpa's name and my granny's maiden name together.

Birgit Horvath-Muck

I googled it.
And I liked the result.

To all those writers out there - are you writing under your given name or did you go for a pen name as well? If so, why did you decide that your real name just won't cut it? Any similar experiences to mine? Let me know!

August 19, 2012

The Reading Files - If I were reading any slower ...

... I'd actually be reading backwards. Ok, I might be exaggerating, but only a little. I only read two books this week, and we're not talking about heavy tomes either. Somehow I'm just not in a reading mood. In hindsight, raising the ante to 150 books in this year's Goodreads Reading Challenge might have been a very bad idea. And I'm saying this despite having read 96 books already. Not only will September be cut short due to my vacation, there are only three months left to catch up once I return. Anyone know a recipe that helps to read faster? Alright, speed isn't the problem. Motivation is.
On the brighter side, no new books to be added to my TBR piles this week, not even one tiny little Kindle download. *pats herself on the shoulder*

Clutches and Curses (Dorothy Howell)

Thoughts. Imagine a cheap version of Becky Bloomwood constantly stumbling over dead bodies while salivating over the next it-bag. The previous books used to be quite fun, but this one was just plain stupid. Oh crap. No, seriously.

Last words spoken. "Oh, crap."

Verdict. Below average mystery for bag-aholics!

Rescue Me (Rachel Gibson)

Thoughts. This one's less about being steamy (apart from the occasional boinking) than about inducing laughter. Some of the "sexy lines" are just beyond ridiculous, then again who am I to complain about a good laugh?

Random laughter inducing quoteSadie might have cause to feel a little pervy about staring at his impressive package if it hadn't been sort of framed in her window.
(p. 19)


Verdict. Run of the mill romance novel with a Texan twang!

Review - How Much Is Enough (Robert & Edward Skidelsky)

In recent years, economic growth has been regarded as a self-evident good, with political debate focussed on the best means to achieve it. But there are now signs that this shared assumption is weakening. Anger at 'greedy' bankers and their 'obscene' bonuses has given way to a deeper dissatisfaction with an economic system geared overwhelmingly to the accumulation of wealth. Huge income disparities and an ever-growing gap between the richest and the rest has brought us to one of those rare moments when the underlying assumptions of society, are changing.
In How Much is Enough? Robert and Edward Skidelsky argue that wealth is not an end in itself but a means to the achievement and maintenance of a 'good life', and that our economy should be organised to reflect this fact. The book includes a definition of the 'good life', discusses the relevance of 'Happiness Studies' and the environmental impact of our ever-growing need to consume. In doing so, it offers an escape from the trap of excessive specialization and a way to reinvigorate the idea of economics as a 'moral science'. It concludes by offering a radical new model for income redistribution - and a consideration of what human beings might really want from their lives.


Review
How much money do you need to lead a good life? What is the good life anyway? In their book How Much Is Enough? Robert and Edward Skidelsky try to get to the bottom of these and related questions.
In 1930 the great economist Keynes said that by 2030 most people would work only 15 hours a week, devoting the rest of their time to leisure. Obviously he was mistaken in his assumption, and the authors show why and how he went wrong with his idea.
There are many books dealing with economy and money, our desires and needs. Some grant a rather cursory glance at our needs and wants while others present an intricate picture of the mechanisms involved. This book is most definitely one of the latter, so don't expect a light and entertaining read on how we spend too much on stuff we don't really need. This one's deep, needs to sink in, get thoroughly digested!
This concise study literally has it all - from economic history to philosophy the reader can indulge in a many-layered work which ultimately makes one rethink our own perceptions of work, time and money. Might Keynes be proven right after all one day? Are the structural solutions offered feasible? Could society establish a basis for the good life we strive for? There are no ultimate answers to be found here, yet plenty of food for thought.
In short: A thought-provoking analysis showcasing the economic insatiability of our society!

4/5 Trees

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.

August 18, 2012

Pajama Musings - Who wants some souvenirs?

I guess the blog post title already gives you the general idea of what this post will be about. Of course, as an experienced traveler I have a pretty good hand in picking small gifts and trinkets when I'm abroad and, so far, no one's ever complained about what I brought them from my vacations. Not openly, anyway.

Long story short, as some of you already know by now, I will be going to Orlando in September. Two weeks of fun in the sun (thankfully with lots of AC in between), chasing mice and ducks (for photo opportunities at the parks, just in case you think I'm having a weird penchant for vermin and poultry), and meeting up with my friend Amy (I can barely contain my excitement, wahhhhh). And quite obviously, hitting some Outlet Malls. After all, where's the fun in traveling when you don't boost the local economy?

Being pretty sure that a lot of you would love to visit Disney World and other Orlando attractions too, I figured why not bring you a bit of that vacation feeling back from my journey? I'm talking, and you will have already guessed, about bringing some souvenirs along. Yes, this is a book blog, but I doubt anyone will file a complaint in case I spoil one of you with some lovely little keepsakes with mouse ears.

I'm thinking ... giveaway!

Who's with me? 

*cheering applause*

Thought so. 

So, before you all do a little premature happy dance (which is fine, of course) hold the thought ... S-O-U-V-E-N-I-R-S.

I do have a few ideas about what to bring along already, but I'd love to get some input from you as well. The giveaway will be Europe only, because of ... well, costs for postage for one, and the obvious fact that someone in the US winning something I bought in the US doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I realize this leaves out everyone in Asia or Australia, but like I said, postage is a huge factor here.

So, the plan is to bring stuff with me which isn't easily available in Europe. There will definitely be stuff from two places in the box - Disney World and Universal Studios. I'm thinking along the lines of maybe a plush Goofy and a Betty Boop coin purse. Now don't turn away in disgust, it could just as well be a Mickey Mouse and a Harry Potter magic towel. Anyway, here's where your input will come in handy. Yep, I even created a form for you to fill out! I haven't been kidding when I asked for your advice.


You may also comment, though the questions in the form are a bit more specific. Thanks so much in advance for giving me some ideas on how to fill that souvenir box!

August 17, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Look who's popular!


Jet wants to know, "Who are some of the most popular non fiction authors?"

With so many different non fiction genres that's a pretty tough question to answer. To add insult to injury, my research has brought up lists, but they were all sorted by, you may have already guessed, the genre. Then, suddenly, light on the horizon.

Luckily, I discovered the book 100 Most Popular Nonfiction Authors (Bernard Alger Drew) and as it turns out the author has written similar books with the 100 most popular authors of eg Young Adult or contemporary mystery among others. Thing is, these books are not only awfully expensive they are all a bit outdated too. The one about Young Adult authors is ten years old which definitely leaves out numerous new, but highly popular, authors in that segment. But let's not digress. The good news must be that the book is available on Google Books, not in full obviously, but you get a good idea about which authors are the most popular according to Drew's research.

I browsed through the list of contents and wouldn't you know it, there are indeed several authors I've read or at least heard of. I'm not going to list them all now as you may just have a look at the content through the Google Books link yourself, but I do feel the need to name at least a few ...

Maya Angelou, Bill Bryson, Richard Dawkins, Jane Goodall, Jon Krakauer, Ruth Reichel, Carl Sagan, Paul Theroux, Henry David Thoreaux, Sarah Vowell.

To be honest, while there are several authors on the list who, in my opinion, certainly deserve being on it, some authors do make me wonder. Others I had to look up as I've never even heard the names. Then, of course, it's not as though I'd be familiar with each and every of the most popular fiction authors either.

And we also need to keep in mind that this list concentrates on contemporary authors, and as far as I can see, mostly US authors to boot. Not meaning to be judgmental, but you know ... bottom line is this is a fine list, but a very specialized one.

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After taking a look at the list of the 100 Most Popular Non Fiction Authors, which authors were you happy to see on it? Which were a complete surprise? Please share!

Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the
(August 17st - August 22nd)
hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & The Elliott Review

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 $ 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!
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 August 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!

August 15, 2012

Bookish Etsy - Bookish Charm (plus Giveaway)

A round of applause for today's guest, lovely Erin from Bookish Charm! And wouldn't you know it ... her jewelry is not only bookish but also incredibly charming! If you've ever felt like showing the world your love for books this is the place where you'll find the perfect statement necklace. Make that necklaces, plural. Because honestly, could you pick just one!?

For those epic moments in your life!

For those who panic when the tea runs out and there's still 258 pages to got!

For those with a wordsmithing disposition!

For those who go through life without GPS!

And just in case that putting a bookish necklace around your neck isn't enough for you, how about adorning your walls with one of the bookish prints from Erin's second Etsy shop The Wandering Reader?


I bet you all want to learn a bit more about Erin and her shop, so who better to tell the tale than Erin herself!

Hello there, I'm Erin–the designer, creator, and all-around book lover behind Bookish Charm, a line of handcrafted jewelry and accessories for the bookish.

Making a line of jewelry dedicated to all things literary seemed like a natural extension of myself, as I have had a love affair with books all my life. They were my constant companions growing up, and I have found them to be faithful friends that provide both wisdom, humor, and guidance in the midst of difficult times.

I think that is why I got into the habit of writing down snippets of my favorite books or quotes from my favorite authors at an early age. They inspired me and kept me going during the rough patches of life, and encouraged me to work toward my dreams.

While I would do everything from scribble those quotes in the margins of my notebooks or write them on bookmarks, one of my favorite things to do was to write out those words on tiny scraps of paper and tuck them inside a locket I wore. That way, I reasoned, I could carry those words with me wherever I went.

At its core, that is where the inspiration for Bookish Charm came from. I wanted to give others the chance to carry the words that inspire them wherever they go in a way that is both meaningful and beautiful, and I am grateful to the many amazing individuals who have shared their own love of literature and what inspires them since I started Bookish Charm nearly two years ago.

Thanks so much; I hope you all have a wonderful day, and wish you the best of luck in the giveaway!

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Erin! And a generous one at that! Yep, you read correctly. There's going to be a giveaway, woohoo! 

00000

Erin has generously offered one of my readers a necklace of choice from her Bookish Charm shop! Too bad I cannot enter my own giveaways ... *sigh*

Of course if you're anything like me you'll probably be thinking you never win anyway. Of course you never know, do you? You might just be the lucky person after all. But when all else fails there is still hope, because ...

... Erin is also offering a whooping 25%-Off your next purchase, including custom items, in her Bookish Charm shop - just use the coupon code BOOKGARDEN25 but don't wait too long, because this code is only valid through August 24th!

To enter this giveaway 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!
This giveaway will be open from August 15th through August 21st.
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on August 22nd and will be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here as soon as the winning entry has been confirmed. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

August 14, 2012

Quote Garden - Fictitious or not?

The non-fiction bestseller lists frequently prove that we all want to know more about everything, even if we didn't know that we wanted to know - we're just waiting for the right person to come along and tell us about it.
Nick Hornby

One of the paradoxes of writing is that when you write non-fiction everyone tries to prove that it's wrong, and when you publish fiction, everyone tries to see the truth in it.
Scarlett Thomas

Writing fiction is not a profession that leaves one well-disposed toward reading fiction. One starts out loving books and stories, and then one becomes jaded and increasingly hard to please. I read less and less fiction these days, finding the buzz and the joy I used to get from fiction in ever stranger works of non-fiction, or poetry.
Neil Gaiman

Fiction has been maligned for centuries as being "false," "untrue," yet good fiction provides more truth about the world, about life, and even about the reader, than can be found in non-fiction.
Clark Zlotchew

The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That's not true with non-fiction.
Tom Wolfe

August 13, 2012

A Writer's Life - Hang on in there!

When you write you usually have a beginning and an end. If the former has been done reasonably well chances are the reader will make it all the way to the latter. Naturally the how is of utmost importance. The first few pages lure the reader in and the last are supposed to make the reader feel like they just ate a satisfyingly big piece of chocolate cake. With whipped cream. And maybe a scoop of vanilla ice.

The thing is that it doesn't even depend so much on whether it's a stand alone novel or part of a series, the end can still leave a few threads open and questions unanswered. This doesn't always have to be a bad thing though it can occasionally make you cry out in frustration. Personally I do like it when you can think the story to its end all by yourself. Stories which let you, as a reader, decide on whether the heroine opens the door or not, all metaphorically speaking. Though I may add that this kind of end has to fit the overall plot and not feel like the last page, or even chapter, of a book is missing.

Just like the inevitable last sentence in a fairy tale some books are meant to be continued in your mind. Others will wrap things up with the very last sentence. And then there are those leaving a character literally dangling over an abyss. On a thin thread. Sequel out in a year or so. Waaahhhhhhhhh!!

Don't get me wrong, I like a good cliffhanger as much as the next person, and equally I love to write my stories in a way where you do get closure but can still continue painting a picture of what might happen next in your mind. Then again, maybe this is just the way I see it, and what appears obvious and final to me can just as well make readers bang their hands against hard surfaces.

Copyright by Smashing Picture

So the question would be - to cliffhang or not to cliffhang?

Pardon my creative misuse of the word.

Is it something authors do naturally? I honestly don't know. Some do, some don't. We certainly don't want to drive our readers up the wall. At least not too much. Of course, a bit of teasing is ok.

Is it something authors do to make people want to continue a trilogy or series? Now we're getting somewhere. I am definitely leaning toward the affirmative here. There are definitely merits in dangling a tiny little carrot in front of the readers nose, to make them curious about what will happen next.

Is it something an editor might insist on? Good question. I appreciate a good amount of feedback and input, but letting someone possibly pressure me into an ending that goes against anything I had in mind for that last page? I don't think so.

But, as is the case with many things, tastes differ. Some are suckers for cliffhangers while others hate them with a vengeance. And this is where trilogies come in. It's almost a distinguishing mark of trilogies to present you with a cliff and a long looong drop. All you can do then is to hang on in there and hope for the sequel to be published rather sooner than later.

Writing the end of a book that's part of a trilogy, well, you have to walk a very fine line here as an author. This is definitely about more than the next possible adventure. Here you need the well balanced combination of tying up certain threads while leaving one or two questions open. And even when you feel you've got it just right, readers might disagree and get a wee bit indignant about how you handled it. Leave readers with a burning curiosity is preferred to let them stew in utter frustration until the publication date of the next book.

Readers. Do you generally like cliffhangers or do you rather steer clear of them? And have you ever thought about how hard it is to write the end of a novel, not to mention one that's part of a trilogy?

Writers. Are cliffhangers part of your storytelling or do you avoid them? Do you agree that trilogies need a big of cliffhanging to make them work?

August 12, 2012

The Postman Files - Ban? What ban?

I guess by now we've established that my book buying ban was a nice endeavor yet (almost) all in vain. What shall I say? Nothing. After all everything that I may say can be held against me.

Won
Mörderische Gier (Ernst Hinterberger)
from Club Wien.at

Bought
Murder Is Binding (Lorna Barrett)
Chapter & Hearse (Lorna Barrett)
A Crafty Killing (Lorraine Bartlett
The Jasmine Moon Murder (Laura Childs)

For Review
America's Haunted Universities (Matthew L. Swayne)
Mankind Beyond Earth (Claude A. Piantadosi)
Drinking History (Andrew F. Smith)
from NetGalley

The Reading Files - Give me my money back!


77 Shadow Street (Dean Koontz)

Thoughts. Once again Koontz doesn't deliver. The mumble jumble of ideas and characters are haphazardly thrown together. No chemistry. No thrill. No nothing. I was so disappointed I could have cried. Boring. And stupid ending. 'nuff said.

Random quote. "If it's something supernatural," Edna said, "it's not going to be afraid of a brass poker."
"It's not supernatural."
"You didn't see it clearly. That's the way supernatural entities are. Quick, vaguely glimpsed, enigmatic."
"Quick, vaguely glimpsed, and enigmatic describes my first husband's performance in the bedroom, and he wasn't supernatural."
(p. 249)

Verdict. Yet another book which sadly proves that Koontz is well past his prime!

How Much Is Enough? (Robert & Edward Skidelsky)

Thoughts. When does need become greed? Don't expect a light and entertaining read on how we spend too much on stuff we don't really need. This one's deep, needs to sink in, get thoroughly digested. Recommended!

Book quote. Who is rich? He who desires nothing. Who is poor? The miser. (Ausonius)

Verdict. A thought-provoking analysis showcasing the economic insatiability of our society!

Review - Tubes (Andrew Blum)

When your Internet cable leaves your living room, where does it go? Almost everything about our day-to-day lives--and the broader scheme of human culture--can be found on the Internet. But what is it physically? And where is it really? Our mental map of the network is as blank as the map of the ocean that Columbus carried on his first Atlantic voyage. The Internet, its material nuts and bolts, is an unexplored territory. Until now.
This is a book about real places on the map: their sounds and smells, their storied pasts, their physical details, and the people who live there. For all the talk of the "placelessness" of our digital age, the Internet is as fixed in real, physical spaces as the railroad or telephone. You can map it and touch it, and you can visit it. Is the Internet in fact "a series of tubes" as Ted Stevens, the late senator from Alaska, once famously described it? How can we know the Internet's possibilities if we don't know its parts?


Review
Who has never wondered what the internet is actually made of? We know it's there, somewhere, but is there an actual place the internet can be found? This question answers Andrew Blum in his book Tubes and the title (almost) reveals it all.
If you're anything like me, namely pretty clueless as to why technical things in general work, yet willing  get a better understanding about why it's even possible to surf the net by the click of a mouse, you will certainly find this book as appealing as I did. It was easy for me to empathize with Blum, following his journey to map the place called the internet. Conversationally written, the author knows how to set the mood for the rather technical topic, embedding his personal perceptions into the information he gathers along the way. Despite the fetching narrative the exploration of miles of fibre-optic cables and vast data-warehouses was admittedly a bit on the dry side. Then again, I should have realized this would be the case earlier on, so I can hardly blame the author for that. Overall I found this trip into the world of the tactile side of the internet, well written and interesting enough to keep my attention almost all the way through, and I bet that those more amenable to this topic will definitely find it to be an enjoyable and informative read.
In short: A tech-heavy look behind the scenes of what makes the virtual of the internet tangible!

3/5 Trees

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.

August 11, 2012

Pajama Musings - B is the magic letter

I guess by now we've established how much I love books. Yet those aren't my only passion (or shall I say obsession) and I have been known for collecting (or rather hoarding) other things too in the past.

The fun thing is that while I contemplated this post I realized something really funny.

B is the magic letter, it seems.

But see for yourself ...

Yep, shelves around here are not for books alone. Other available surfaces are packed with bears ... Boyd's Bears to be exact. In recent years I have rarely bought new ones as I have honestly no clue where to put them anymore. Oh, to live in an old mansion with my own library and a whole room just for my bears.

Then there are bags ... preferably Burberry! Before you get the impression I have a mule who sh%&s gold coins (I wish), I saved quite a bit to afford my Burberrys (yes, plural, dumdidum) and luckily I got them at half price in Outlet Stores. Though my soft spot for handbags doesn't stop there ... I've got bags in all shapes and colors, from $10,- bargains I got at JC Penney to ... see above! Love 'em all!

See? Books. Bears. Bags.
Or rather? Books. Boyd's Bears. Burberry Bags.

B is indeed the magic letter here.

How about yourself? Apart from the obvious aka books what else can't you keep yourself from buying and prominently displaying? Please share!

2 by 2 Giveaway Winner

The lucky winner of the August 2 by 2 Giveaway is
Christine J.
who picked the book Fascinating Vienna!

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

August 10, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Oh that pesky research!


Linda H. is curious about, "How much research is needed for publication?"

Quite a bit I'd say.

But seriously, in the first place it very much depends on the specific genre. There will be more research involved in eg Natural Sciences than in an Autobiography. And let's not forget something else entirely, there's also a whole lot of research necessary for fiction novels too. Think for example about historical settings and customs if you're writing eg a romance in Victorian times. I've read books where banana peels have been thrown at burning witches in the Middle Ages *still shudders at the memory*. Let it suffice to to say, some background information about the realms you put your characters in is a definite must.

While authors may take some liberties with historical or other facts they weave into their novels, this is something non fiction does not allow. With fiction you may use facts creatively, while in non fiction this is pretty much a no-go.

The word non fiction basically implies the involvement of research, because it is not based on fiction (thus the non in front of the fiction) but on facts. You can make up stories, but you better not try that with facts. Needless to say, that it will happen every now and then that non fiction authors get a tad too creative, making up or falsifying results as to better fit their conclusions (or rather, their expectations).

Most importantly though, research is not just research. These days when you think you can gather every bit of info you're looking for through the internet, many people aren't aware that seriously researching a topic goes far beyond the click of a mouse. It involves trips to libraries, interviews with specialists, field studies, conducting tests in laboratories, and much more.

Depending on the particular genre and the topic discussed, the extent of the research may inevitably vary. Equally there's a difference whether a book is meant as an introduction for laypeople who've got next to no knowledge about a certain subject, but want to find out more about it, or a book for professionals who are curious about new developments in their own field of expertise. Both the research involved and technical terms used will vary tremendously.
Indeed, non fiction authors are walking (or rather writing) a very fine line here. It's not just about the facts they want to convey, but also about how they communicate them. So, it's not just about the information, but also about how it is communicated. This is something I will discuss in one of my next posts.

So how much research has to be done to make both the publishers, and even more importantly, the reader happy? Hopefully a lot.

000

Have you ever read a non fiction book in which the author has obviously taken some liberties with facts? Or are there any books that you found lacking in terms of serious research? Let me know!

August 9, 2012

Picture Garden - Little Miss Sunshine

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE

2 by 2 Giveaway

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

Welcome to Vienna!
How about a stroll through the city?
Or maybe an excursion into contemporary Austrian literature?

Fascinating Vienna (Michael Kühler)

Once this post goes live you have two days (48 hours) to enter by filling out the form!
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

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 August 12th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

August 8, 2012

Bookish Etsy - The Magic Closet

Some of you might remember them. If you're old enough that is. Me, I actually used one of them way back, long before I owned a computer. What could I possibly be referring to? The good ol' typewriter of course. And seeing how there's not much need for them anymore these days, I was thrilled to see what magic today's guest, Gail from The Magic Closet, worked on antique typewriters by transforming the keys into lovely jewelry.


I began creating jewelry for myself. As a woman who loves jewelry I had ideas of things that I would love to wear. I started with beading and before I knew it I had more jewelry than I could wear myself and began giving my handcrafted jewelry to family and friends as gifts.


While shopping at a local thrift shop I found some very beautiful pieces of antique silver plate spoons. I knew that I could do something fun and creative with them, so I purchased them and made wind chimes out of them. I started researching the silver plated spoons to try to find the names of the patterns. I saw how popular many of the patterns were. Together with my husband we started to cut the spoons and began creating spoon earrings and pendant necklaces. I listed my spoon jewelry on a popular auction website and began selling them quickly. A very nice gal that I sold spoon jewelry to suggested that I check out ETSY.com as she thought that my spoon jewelry would sell well on that website. Shortly after I opened my ETSY.com shop The Magic Closet.


While out shopping at garage sales, I came upon an antique typewriter for a very reasonable price. I knew that I needed to have it but was unsure what I would do with it. I just keep thinking of the history behind the old typewriter and wondered who’s fingers may have crossed the key board. What were they writing and for whom? Before I knew it the typewriter began collecting more dust in the garage and my husband said either do something with this thing or out it goes. The typewriter was very dirty and did not work. So we cut off the keys and discarded the rest of the machine. Soon the idea came that this too could become jewelry. It would be a great way to keep the history of the vintage typewriters while at the same time recycling or upcycling the keys. 


I began with a typewriter key bracelet for myself and soon decided that this is something that I would like to share with others. I then branched out to typewriter key earrings, pendant necklaces and more. As I still enjoy beading I often add Swarovski Crystals to many of my typewriter key earrings and pendants. I then expanded my ETSY shop to include typewriter key jewelry as well as my spoon jewelry.


Thanks so much for being my guest today and sharing the magic behind your closet, Gail!

Now tell me, how do you like Gail's idea? Any favorites in her shop? Feel free to share!


For everyone who wants to own their own magic typewriter jewelry Gail is now offering 10%-OFF your next purchase in her shop - just use the coupon code garden10. This code is valid until September 15th!