October 31, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - The Real Blogger Status

Where to go? The Real Blogger Status

What's it all about? The ups and downs of blogging on a Blogger blog, chock-full of advice of what to do when things go awry.

Who should check it out? Bloggers who are using Blogger as well as folks who are thinking about creating their own blog on Blogger.

Time well spent? Yep. This is the next best place to head to when the Blogger Forum's fail you. Maybe it's even a better place, come to think of it.

One for the road ...

Copyright by Dave Walker

October 30, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

Before I get started on this week's list let me just say that I am fully aware that only naming two kick-ass gals might give you the impression I only read grandma's old romance novels, but don't let this notion distract you from the fact that this list is just strikingly succinct.

Katniss Everdeen - She's one touch cookie, but you already knew that.

Becky Bloomwood - Before you break out in roaring laughter ask yourself the question whether you'd want to fight her over that pair of gorgeous Gucci boots. Didn't think so!







Oh all right then, this list might be putting it all in a nutshell, but I know it's lame to only name two. So let's add one more, shall we?

Gretel from Hänsel & Gretel

Talk about push-ass heroines! When you've stopped laughing, or rolling your eyes for that matter, feel free to share your personal kick-ass heroines with me!

Quote Garden - All Souls

A thin moon faints in the sky o'erhead,
And dumb in the churchyard lie the dead.
Walk we not, Sweet, by garden ways,
Where the late rose hangs and the phlox delays,
But forth of the gate and down the road,
Past the church and the yews, to their dim abode.
For it's turn of the year and All Souls' night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.

Fear not that sound like wind in the trees:
It is only their call that comes on the breeze;
Fear not the shudder that seems to pass:
It is only the tread of their feet on the grass;
Fear not the drip of the bough as you stoop:
It is only the touch of their hands that grope -
For the year's on the turn, and it's All Souls' night,
When the dead can yearn and the dead can smite.

And where should a man bring his sweet to woo
But here, where such hundreds were lovers too?
Where lie the dead lips that thirst to kiss,
The empty hands that their fellows miss,
Where the maid and her lover, from sere to green,
Sleep bed by bed, with the worm between?
For it's turn of the year and All Souls' night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.

And now that they rise and walk in the cold,
Let us warm their blood and give youth to the old.
Let them see us and hear us, and say: 'Ah, thus
In the prime of the year it went with us!'
Till their lips drawn close, and so long unkist,
Forget they are mist that mingles with mist!
For the year's on the turn, and it's All Souls' night,
When the dead can burn and the dead can smite.

Till they say, as they hear us - poor dead, poor dead! -
'Just an hour of this, and our age-long bed -
Just a thrill of the old remembered pains
To kindle a flame in our frozen veins,
Just a touch, and a sight, and a floating apart,
As the chill of dawn strikes each phantom heart -
For it's turn of the year and All Souls' night,
When the dead can hear, and the dead have sight.'

And where should the living feel alive
But here in this wan white humming hive,
As the moon wastes down, and the dawn turns cold,
And one by one they creep back to the fold?
And where should a man hold his mate and say:
'One more, one more, ere we go their way'?
For the year's on the turn, and it's All Souls' night,
When the living can learn by the churchyard light.

And how should we break faith who have seen
Those dead lips plight with the mist between,
And how forget, who have seen how soon
They lie thus chambered and cold to the moon?
How scorn, how hate, how strive, we too,
Who must do so soon as those others do?
For it's All Souls' night, and break of the day,
And behold, with the light the dead are away ...

All Souls by Edith Wharton

October 29, 2012

A Writer's Life - Mention or Invention? Part III

After having discussed copyright and fair use, brand names and character's names, we've finally arrived in the wonderful world of fan fiction in this final part of Mention or Invention?

What is fan fiction anyway? Fan fiction are basically stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work. If you write your own private little Star Trek tale that is called fan fiction. Works of fan fiction are in most cases not authorized by the original author or publisher, likewise they are almost never professionally published.

Apparently fan fiction isn't a bad thing then? Once again we're hobbling towards that thing called copyright. Fan fiction is a derivative work which means it is an expressive creation that includes major, copyright-protected elements of an original, previously created first work. And many argue that fan fiction doesn't fall under fair use either (unless you've written a parody on Kirk's latest adventures) while The Organization for Transformative Works upholds the legality of non-profit fan fiction under the fair use doctrine. Confusion sets in, I know. So what's a fan to do?

Some authors actually welcome fan fiction! Imagine that! I hope they haven't taken their blessings back yet, but some of these authors are Terry Pratchett, J.K. Rowling (who would have thought) and Stephanie Meyer. Then there are those authors who strongly oppose to fan fiction such as Anne Rice and George R.R. Martin.

Now why would Ms Rowling allow fan fiction but get all stressed out over copyright matters? Well, there is a difference between writing fan fiction and publishing an actual book. The first is for fun while the second should obviously be for fun as well, but with any luck results in you earning money. See the difference?

And if things weren't bad enough already! It's not just a question of whether you breach a copyright, but your piece of fan fiction can also lead you straight to trademark infringements. Fair use in copyright and trademark law are two completely different pairs of shoes. There goes your own little Star Trek universe ... or maybe not? Actually Paramount allowed fan fiction and even published various stories in anthologies, in fact most major studios and production companies do tolerate fan fiction, sometimes even encouraging it.

Fan fiction writers argue that their work is legal through the fair use doctrine for these reasons:
Fan works do not deprive the owner of the source material of income.
Fan works may work as free advertisement and promotion of the original source material.
Fan works are usually non-profit.
Fan works do not copy, or attempt to substitute for, the original work.

What is your take on fan fiction? Do you write it? Do you like it? Have you ever thought of all the legal implications? Let me know.

Please note that I've approached this topic to the best of my knowledge. If you find that I misinterpreted anything or even stated something that is entirely wrong (I hope not), let me know so I can remove or amend the offending statement!

October 28, 2012

The Postman Files - Let's splurge a little!

Once upon a little splurge ... first, at AwesomeBooks where I found a couple of cozy mysteries which I needed to add to my already staggering pile of, you may have already guessed, more cozy mysteries!
And then along came the Amazon Kindle Fall Sale and let it be said, I behaved! Truthfully, I did. I mean, only four books!? That's willpower! Oh, yeah, right, and one tiny little freebie sneaked in too! But hey, just one! Willpower, remember?

Bought
On What Grounds (Cleo Coyle)
High Heels are Murder (Elaine Viets)
Bookplate Special (Lorna Barrett)
Sentenced to Death (Lorna Barrett)

Bought for Kindle
The Mall (S.L. Grey)
The Ward (S.L. Grey)
The Grimm Legacy (Polly Shulman)

And appropriate for the upcoming holiday season some holiday-themed zombie stories!

Free on Kindle

The Reading Files - Oh my ghost!

Now that Halloween is drawing near I figured I could do with some hauntingly good reads. Actually that's not the whole truth. For one I cannot thrive on books for review alone, and then I also realized I better get a move on with my YA books so I can fill that box for the next Old Books in Need of a New Home giveaway.

Shade (Jeri Smith-Ready)

Thoughts. Imagine you could see ghosts of those who haven't moved on. Imagine your big love dies and lingers too. Imagine that there is more to the whole ghost-seeing thing than meets the eye (haha). Great premise, well written, and oh so sad!

Last words spoken. Wow.

Verdict. Paranormal novel that'll trigger more than just one tear!

Hereafter (Tara Hudson)

Thoughts. The Afterlife isn't what you'd think it'd be, especially when you're stuck in nightmares re-living your own death again and again. Then, ghost girl saves drowning boy and what do you know? He can see her, touch her, love her. Amazing read!

First line. It was the same as always, but different from the first time.

Verdict. A tender love story of the haunting kind!

Everlost (Neal Shusterman)

Thoughts. So unique! I mean, I seriously love the plot and how the story's been woven together. If only the narrative had worked for me *very big sigh*. Seriously, the author's voice, I just couldn't get into it and that's not saying it was in any way bad, it just wasn't for me, apparently.

Random quote. Mary smiled. "We all must do something with our afterlife," she said. "I write." (p. 88)

Verdict. Intriguing tale of children stuck in a place between life and death!

Review - Uncle John's Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Bathroom Reader

"Fully Loaded” is putting it mildly. This behemoth of a book is overflowing with the incredible stories, surprising facts, weird news, little-known origins, forgotten history, fun wordplay, and everything else that millions of loyal fans have come to expect from world’s best-selling bathroom reading series. As always, it’s divided by length: quickies for the reader on the go, medium-sized articles for those with a few minutes to spare, and extra-long pieces for those truly leg-numbing experiences. Here are just a few of the hundreds of topics loaded into this edition of America’s favorite "on the go” source of fascinating information:
Forgotten Firsts
Dumb Crooks: Stoner Edition
Bizarre Japanese Video Games
The Kamikaze Instruction Manual
Our Lady of the Little Green Men
The Worst Fire in American History
The World's Worst Business Decision
The New Years Eve Opossum Drop
Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?
Failed Doomsday Predictions
When Toilets Explode
and much much more ...


Review
Time for a little confession - Uncle John's Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Edition isn't my first Bathroom Reader, and most likely not my last one either. So you could say that I'm a little prejudiced as I've always enjoyed these books. Of course for this particular edition I certainly expected the Uncle John's team to, once again, outdo themselves.
The Bathroom Reader's are a series of books filled with trivia and short essays on various topics, some volumes dedicated to a single topic, while others, like this one, offer a broad spectrum from Law & Order to Stage & Screen and from Word & Phrase to Myths & Legends. In a nutshell? A light and entertaining read filled to the lid (pun fully intended) with genius conversation starters and useless but laughter-inducing fun facts. 
Due to the nature of the Bathroom Reader's, and the book title is already a dead giveaway, this tome makes for perfect reading material in the bathroom. Obviously you may just as well read these books on the couch or on the bus, but that is entirely up to you. Ultimately it is perfect to dig into anytime you've got a few minutes to spare!
Honestly, after 25 years you can't help but wonder how and where they dig out so many new topics without getting repetitive, but once again Uncle John doesn't disappoint!
In short: Fully loaded indeed! Will keep you from being bored during many sittings to come!

5/5 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 - Dead Whispers (A.E. Angel)

Journey through New England's haunted past with an all-female paranormal investigation team, Whaling City Ghosts, to explore an audio fortress of ghosts at over 8 locations. Oftentimes, with long and violent periods, these locations have become some of the most haunted places in the world. Learn about the Salem witch trials and meet their ghosts as they speak out to you. Enter Lizzie Borden's B&B, if you dare, as investigators and celebrities examine claims of paranormal activity in a room where a violent ax murder took place over 100 years ago. Visit an ancient cemetery where the ghosts do not rest easy. Roam the hallways of a historic, haunted gentleman's club and be invited into private homes where ghosts from all ages reside. Tremble to the entity telling an investigator, "You're mine" in a sinister form of intimidation at a New England home. Take an adventure like no other, and listen to the dead whispers of the past with an enclosed CD. When a ghost asks, "Who are you?" could it be talking to you?


Review
Ghosts! Some embrace the idea, others reject it. Personally I'm not entirely convinced, yet don't exactly rule out the possibility either. In Dead Whispers you'll get to read, and listen to, the ghostly encounters Luann Joly and her paranormal team have come across.
Focusing on EVPs, Electronic Voice Phenomenon, much of the investigation relies on recording the voices of the Dead. As the Audio CD wasn't included with the eGalley I received from the publisher, I cannot say how much I would have managed to "hear" in the examples gathered. People like to think in patterns, so the interesting question would be, how much we are reading into what, to some, is only noise?
My skepticism aside, especially regarding how easy it seems for the team to visit places and the ghosts will always make their "appearance", no patience and waiting needed, I appreciated how the reviewing of evidence and collecting of data doesn't lead to instantaneous assumptions that ghosts must exist. Essentially it's about logging and recording and the hope that one day this will lead to definite answers.
Either way, I found the book itself genuinely intriguing. From introductions to haunted places to the actual process of recording, sadly skimping on technical detail, straight to developing theories on the dearly departed and why they sometimes dwell, I can well imagine this book to work great if presented as paranormal show on TV.
In short: When ghosts talk! Or do they?

3/5 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.

October 27, 2012

Pajama Musings - Make me over!

Maybe it's got to do with my old age and a corresponding unwillingness when it comes to change, but seeing how quite a few bloggers will change their blog design on what seems to be a monthly basis, I couldn't help wondering. Of course there is nothing wrong about getting a new design every once in a while, a couple changes to the layout here, some new blog buttons there. It's just that some bloggers don't seem to be able to make up their minds, jumping from one new blog design to the next, giving their blog not just a slightly different look but making me think something along the line of, "When did I subscribe to that blog? I don't really remember this garish pink background and ... oh, wait, I do remember after all! Last week it was all in black and white!" You get the idea.

Despite the fact that such changes, especially when done more often than IMM posts, are just plain ridiculous in my opinion, I am actually not against blog make-overs. On the contrary. I think that as your blog grows, so does the content, and obviously also the blogger. With these chances you'll inevitably come to a crossroad where you feel the need to implement some new things, and that's perfectly ok.

Only those of you who've been following me since the early days will even remember that I only switched blog designs once. The first one was a generic one that Blogger itself provided and admittedly I started looking for a background that fit my blog theme better pretty soon. It took me a bit to find it, and yes it's still the one you see now. With it I also got a different header and after the little overhaul I was more than happy with the result. Admit it, if you saw a screen shot of my blog you'd (hopefully) recognize it as The Book Garden immediately. See where I'm getting at?

Copyright by Hot Bliggity Blog

As much as I do believe that it's entirely up to the respective blogger to decide what to do with their blog, I sometimes get this urge to leave a comment pleading for a stop of all the constant changes because I'm already suffering from vertigo. Frankly, I doubt I'm the only one.

Do I believe there is a certain time frame one should consider before engaging in some major overhaul? No, of course not. This totally depends on you, the blogger. Though, as should have been made clear by now, once a month is a wee bit too often.

How about myself then? Sticking to the same ol' design until the end of days? Unlikely. I'd lie if I claimed I haven't been toying with the idea of getting a professional blog design (which would obviously still reflect the books and garden theme), but I haven't yet seriously looked into this. When that day arrives though, fear not, I shall warn you all about the changes ahead, and you will all be mentally prepared to find yourself face to computer screen with a whole now look which, as I'd like to point out, will be meant to last longer than a week or two.

How about you? Do constant changes of blog designs annoy you or don't you really care? In case you're a blogger yourself, do you feel that some bloggers are overdoing it when it comes to changing their blog's look? And how often, if ever, have you made over your own blog? Let me know.

Literary Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the
Literary Giveaway Hop
(October 27th - October 31st)
hosted by Leeswammes' Blog

Most giveaway blog hops seem to be directed towards young adult and romance audiences. Those hops are not so ideal if you want to give away more literary books, so here's the chance for all of you who want to stray a little from those vampire books and try something new.

Which brings us to the most important part of this post ...

I'm giving away one book of the winner's choice from the Wordsworth Library Collection. There are thirteen classical collections to choose from (above are just a few of the ones available) and all are beautifully illustrated hardcover editions.
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 November 1st and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

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

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read in a Single Sitting
  3. Ephemeral Digest
  4. My Devotional Thoughts
  5. Devouring Texts
  6. Tony's Reading List
  7. Nishita's Rants and Raves
  8. Too Fond
  9. The Parrish Lantern
  10. Kristi Loves Books
  11. The Book Club Blog
  12. Sam Still Reading
  13. Silver's Reviews (USA)
  14. Bibliosue
  15. Heavenali
  16. Under My Apple Tree
  17. Misfortune of Knowing (North America)
  18. Lena Sledge's Blog
  19. Lost Generation Reader
  20. Seaside Book Nook
  21. The Relentless Reader
  22. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  23. Monique Morgan
  24. That READioactive Book Blog
  25. kaggsysbookisahramblings
  26. Ragdoll Books Blog
  27. Kate's Library
  28. The Book Garden
  29. Uniflame Creates
  30. Curiosity Killed The Bookworm

  1. Ciska's Book Chest
  2. The Book Divas Reads
  3. Alex in Leeds
  4. Simple Clockwork
  5. Bluestalking (USA)
  6. Fresh Ink Books
  7. Sweeping Me
  8. Giraffe Days
  9. Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book (USA)
  10. Books Thoughts Adventures (USA)
  11. emmalikestoread
  12. Colorimetry
  13. Page Plucker
  14. Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
  15. 2606 Books and Counting
  16. Book Nympho
  17. She-Wolf Reads
  18. The Little Reader Library (Europe)
  19. Booklover Book Reviews
  20. Dolce Bellezza

October 26, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Recommended Reads #4


Those who know me will be aware how I have a little bit of Becky Bloomwood inside of me. In other words, I love to throw money on pretty things. Despite the fact that I've converted to frugal living in the past years, I do enjoy the occasional splurge as much as reading on the topic. Yep, there are books on shopping! Who would have thought?

One of the absolute must-reads for anyone fascinated by fashion and luxury is Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre (Dana Thomas). This book isn't so much for people who enjoy luxury items, but for those who want to risk a glance behind the lustrous image of expensive brand name goods. A well researched tour on how luxury was created in the 18th/19th century to what luxury today - from mass production straight to the growing industry of counterfeit products. Some might say, it's a bit too "journalistic", but with great eye for detail and lots of insider scoops the book is certainly not in the least prosaic.

If this doesn't sound as enjoyable for you despite your own love for fashion, I have a completely different book for you. The One Hundred (Nina Garcia) presents a list of the classic items every woman must own, from fashion and garments to lipsticks and perfumes. Spruced up with tips and tricks, a bit of historical background and quotes this is THE go-to style-guide for fashionistas with the cutest and prettiest illustrations, eeek!! And I must say, I like how it's not just about wardrobe must-have's, but also, let's call them lifestyle items, such as monogrammed stationary and a valid passport.

Who do I recommend these books to?
Fashionistas and Becky Bloomwood wannabes.

000

Are you not only a bookaholic but a shopaholic to boot? Do these books tickle your fashionistic fancy? Maybe you've even read them? If so feel free to share how you liked them.

October 24, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - Hellbound Bloggers

Where to go? Hellbound Bloggers

What's it all about? This is a popular technology blog covering topics like Social Media, Blogging, Digital Tips and Technology.

Who should check it out? Bloggers who want to find smart advice on all kinds of subjects in one place.

Time well spent? Absolutely. I have no idea how this site has eluded me up until now, because it is chock full with quality posts on Blogging Tips and Social Media, straight to Making Money and useful Resources.

One for the road ...


October 23, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books To Get In The Halloween Spirit


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books 
To Get In The Halloween Spirit

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Charles M. Schulz) - It's Halloween. Time for ghosts, ghouls, and ... the Great Pumpkin? Linus is sure that this year the Great Pumpkin will finally appear.

Garfield's Halloween Adventure (Jim Davis) - Halloween is Garfield's favorite holiday -- you dress up ina costume and next thing you know it's candy, candy, candy!

Halloween Party (Agatha Christie) - At a Halloween party, Hercule Poirot aids mystery writer Ariadne Oliver in an investigation into the murder of a young girl-who may have witnessed a murder herself.

Halloween (Curtis Richards) - Loved the movie? This is the book based on the screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.

Halloween: Spells, Recipes and Customs (Silver RavenWolf) - Just where did the autumn gaiety begin? Let Silver RavenWolf guide you through the cobwebby corners of time to uncover the history behind Halloween.

Betty Crocker Halloween Cookbook (Betty Crocker) - A spooktacular and delicious collection of Halloween recipes.

October Dreams : A Celebration of Halloween (Richard Chizmar, Ed.) - A winner of the International Horror Guild Award, this is one of the grandest horror anthologies ever compiled on the genre's signature holiday.

Odd Is on Our Side (Dean Koontz) - The one and only Odd Thomas is back in his second edgy and enthralling graphic-novel adventure. It’s Halloween in Pico Mundo, California, and there’s a whiff of something wicked in the autumn air.

Creative Costumes & Halloween Decor: 50 Projects to Craft & Sew - The all-in-one Halloween book! Creative Costumes & Halloween Decor combines costume and decorating projects into one convenient book.

Artful Halloween: 31 Frightfully Elegant Projects (Susan Wasinger) - These 30+ costume, pumpkin, and home-decorating ideas are not just beautiful - they are scary beautiful.






What are your Halloween reading recommendations?

Quote Garden - Where there is no imagination, there is no horror

I am an omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles.

A man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it.

It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own.

It has always seemed to me that so long as you produce your dramatic effect, accuracy of detail matters little. I have never striven for it and I have made some bad mistakes in consequence. What matter if I hold my readers?

The love of books is among the choicest gifts of the gods.

By Arthur Conan Doyle

October 22, 2012

A Writer's Life - Mention or Invention? Part II

Welcome to the second part Mention or Invention? in which I'm giving you some writerly advice concerning legal stuff. If you want to learn more about how (not) to use quotes in your novel check out last week's post. This week I'll be dipping into the wonderful world of brand names and ... well, names in general.

So what about brand names then? If your main protagonists loves his Coca Cola it's perfectly ok to mention it. As far as I can see you can even mention that he prefers it to Pepsi Cola. Yet you should be aware of so called trademark defamation. If you falsely depict a certain brand name product as being eg poisonous the manufacturer could (in theory) complain. I have no clue how often this kind of thing really happens and what the possible outcome might be in such a case. Ultimately the manufacturer would need to prove that readers interpret this as real instead of fictitious, but do you, as an author, really want to test that theory? Invent your own brand and let it poison the town folk, and no harm done (well, expect for the town population which wasn't real in the first place).

Shouldn't I actually get paid by a manufacturer for a product placement in my book? Hahahahaaaaa ... yeah right! Though it's admittedly a neat idea, I'll grant you that.

And what about Harry Potter or Elizabeth Bennett making a cameo appearance? Errr ... the first case is a very bad idea (unless you want to help J.K. Rowling get even richer). Elizabeth on the other hand may be a guest at your dinner party anytime. Public domain, remember? More about Harry and Elizabeth in next week's edition, when I'll discuss fan fiction.

But how about one of your characters, last name being Potter, happening to name their child Harry? Names as such aren't copyrightable. Yet you should show some common sense and even if one of your characters has Potter as a last name, steer clear of Harry when it comes to naming their child. Even if nothing in the book points even remotely towards wizards, you can rest assured that if the name of a character is sufficiently well known, which Harry Potter certainly is, and readers are likely to associate it exclusively with a particular author's work and ... long story short, just don't use a name like this. Period. Some copyright owners will sue your socks off for even thinking a certain name without permission, so imagine how expensive things might get if you put those thoughts in print.
Let it be said, Ms Rowling pays good money for a truckload of lawyers who'll knock at your door within seconds after you mentioned everyone's favorite wizard's name. No, not Merlin (but there's a valid point there for sure).

Please note that I've approached this topic to the best of my knowledge. If you find that I misinterpreted anything or even stated something that is entirely wrong (I hope not), let me know so I can remove or amend the offending statement!

October 21, 2012

The Postman Files - That's a first!

Just a couple days ago I commented on another blog *waves hello to Ellie* that I was glad about only receiving books for review when I specifically request them from publishers. What happened? An unsolicited review copy sat in my mailbox only two days later. The universe (and the publishing industry) works in mysterious ways. So, that's a first, and even though it is a wee bit exciting I stand firm in my belief that I'd rather know what will roll in instead of suddenly getting buried underneath stacks of review books. All right, it's just one book, but isn't that usually how it all starts?

Won

For Review
The Liberator (Alex Kershaw)

The Reading Files - Haunted bathroom, anyone?

Come to think of it, I wouldn't want to experience any ghostly encounters while sitting on the porcelain throne. Not even if it involves happy haunts. Distraction of the bookish kind are never wrong though. I mean, why waste precious minutes doing one thing when you can do a little multitasking. Yep, still speaking of using the bathroom!

Dead Whispers (A.E. Angel)

Thoughts. I guess all those paranormal novels are rubbing off on my general reading habits. Anyway. Reviewing a book about EVPs (ghostly voices on tape) without the CD is kind of pointless, however I'll be trying my best in my actual review which will be posted next week.

Lesson learned. The number one rule of save ghost hunting is to never trespass.

Verdict. When ghosts talk! Or do they?

Uncle John's Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Bathroom Reader

Thoughts. Not my first bathroom reader, and most likely not my last either. I've always enjoyed them, and still do. Broad spectrum of topics which I love. Think genius conversation starters and useless but laughter-inducing fun facts. Perfect to dig into anytime you've got a few minutes to spare!

Conversatio starter. First U.S. president to have his picture taken was John Quincy Adams (1843).

Verdict. Fully loaded indeed! Will keep you from being bored during many sittings to come!

Review - The Half-Life of Facts (Samuel Arbesman)

Facts change all the time. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly. We used to think the Earth was the center of the universe and that Pluto was a planet. For decades, we were convinced that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing.
But it turns out there’s an order to the state of knowledge, an explanation for how we know what we know. Samuel Arbesman is an expert in the field of scientometrics—literally the science of science. Knowl­edge in most fields evolves systematically and predict­ably, and this evolution unfolds in a fascinating way that can have a powerful impact on our lives.
Arbesman takes us through a wide variety of fields, including those that change quickly, over the course of a few years, or over the span of centuries. He shows that much of what we know consists of “mesofacts” - facts that change at a middle timescale, often over a single human lifetime. 
The Half-life of Facts is a riveting journey into the counterintuitive fabric of knowledge. It can help us find new ways to measure the world while accepting the limits of how much we can know with certainty.


Review
Facts change. Some do so faster than others. Likewise some facts are more persistent than others, no matter if they're outdated or not. In The Half-Life of Facts Samuel Arbesman sets out to show that facts change in recognizable patterns and not as arbitrarily as it sometimes appears to be. However, this book is not just about how facts change, but even more so about how knowledge spreads and progresses, and how we organize, interpret and adapt to it.
Powerfully written, and fortunately not heavy on numbers and statistics, I found this treatise incredibly fascinating. The author allows valuable insight into the world of facts - from the role measurement and error play to the importance of so-called hidden facts, and much more.
Highlighting mankind's journey of discoveries throughout the centuries, Arbesman led me to a deeper understanding of the constantly changing landscape of facts. Facts are providing a sense of control, but can we really ever be in control in this constant whirlwind of change? And why are so many maintaining an attitude of refusing to deal with change?
Of course, the speed in which we gather new facts, makes you wonder whether we will ever reach a plateau and whether there will be no new things left to find. For now it seems the more we learn, the more new things we discover. Those will be declared facts until they reach their "expiration date".
In short: Insightful journey into the world of ever-changing facts!

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 - Paradox (Jim Al-Khalili)

Throughout history, scientists have come up with theories and ideas that just don't seem to make sense. These we call paradoxes. The paradoxes Al-Khalili offers are drawn chiefly from physics and astronomy and represent those that have stumped some of the finest minds. For example, how can a cat be both dead and alive at the same time? Why will Achilles never beat a tortoise in a race, no matter how fast he runs? And how can a person be ten years older than his twin?
With elegant explanations that bring the reader inside the mind of those who've developed them, Al-Khalili helps us to see that, in fact, paradoxes can be solved if seen from the right angle. Just as surely as Al-Khalili narrates the enduring fascination of these classic paradoxes, he reveals their underlying logic. In doing so, he brings to life a select group of the most exciting concepts in human knowledge. Paradox is mind-expanding fun.


Review
Let's solve puzzles - those that are easily mistaken for truly unsolvable paradoxes. Physicist Jim Al-Khalili is doing exactly that in his book Paradox, namely unraveling some of the biggest riddles of science, from Maxwell's Demon to Schrödinger's Cat straight to the Paradox of the Twins.
This is exactly the kind of book which on one hand sounds immensely fascinating, while on the other hand has a high potential to dip into heavy technical jargon. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised that this excursion into the world of physics is accessible even for those who have only basic knowledge regarding the presented conundrums. Explanations are, if at times somewhat lengthy, easy to follow and at the same time the author's voice lacks the often prosaic tone non fiction is unfortunately too often prone to. The surprisingly fun style in which the book is written certainly made it doubly enjoyable for me.
As the author not just resorts to his favorite, but ultimately to a selection of better known perceived paradoxes, I believe this book provides the perfect entry to those who are generally interested in science, but have thus far shied back from books like this one, out of fear of not being able to understand explanations or ending up utterly bored. Trust me, this won't happen here! Not only will you learn a thing or two, it will be highly entertaining too.
In short: An amusive and educational trip into the world of paradoxes!

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.

October 20, 2012

Pajama Musings - We all have our Captcha to bear

I've never been a friend of it and maybe the pressure has simply had enough time of building up inside of me, but right now I have this inexorable urge to strangle certain bloggers who've still got Captcha enabled on their blogs. In some cases, and on the blogger equivalent of bad-hair days, I even feel like un-following various Captcha-invested blogs just out of principle. I've never actually done that. So far. But trust me when I say that I'm THIS close to do so.

You want me to comment on one of your blog posts? Even more so, do you want me to remain a reader of your blog? Then shut those damn things off or else (this is goodbye).

Alright, I might be a little late to rant about the not-so-new-anymore Captcha which Blogger implemented earlier this year. That doesn't make it any less annoying though. I'm sure you've encountered it before (not on my blog, mind you) and in the rare case that you're one of the lucky few who hasn't got the slightest touch of an idea what I'm talking about, have a look at these ...


Come on! Seriously? You don't just prove that you're not a robot if you're able to decipher these. You also show off some noteworthy psychic abilities if you are able to guess some of those examples. And if it wouldn't be bad enough to play the guessing game for one lousy comment, imagine the fun to be had when you want to enter a giveaway and need to leave a comment for every single extra entry while Captcha is enabled. That can get your heart-rate up, I'm telling you. Good thing I tend to have low blood pressure, 'cause otherwise this couldn't possibly be healthy. I'm talking coronary (best case) or homicidal rage (worst case).

And it's not even as though blogs would receive that much spam that one could justify using Captcha. I get maybe two a month and usually those land in the spam-folder anyway. I've heard other bloggers discuss this and most claim to very rarely getting spam comments. So why? Why!?!?

To be fair though, there are some alternatives out there. Captcha for the playful. Captcha for those too stupid to decipher the mumble jumble above. I honestly don't mind one of those, 'cause all you need to do is click once and you're done. So, you see, I don't mind those cute and easy to use Captchas out there.


But generally I find myself in the following kind of situation ...

Copyright by Geek and Poke

... and I'm pretty sure I don't need another Master Degree!

What's your take on Captcha? Hate it with a vengeance too? Comment away in the safe knowledge that you won't have to prove you're a human being.

October 19, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Cover me in ... veggies!

Let's admit it. We do judge books by their covers. That goes for fiction as much as it does for non fiction. And who could resist some of these yummy looking books? Hello? Anyone? I can't possible be the only person who loves her veggies!?

Return of the Killer Tomatoes!
Ripe (Arthur Allen)
Tomatoland (Barry Estabrook)

Look, the Easter bunny!
The End Of Overeating (David A. Kessler)
Contemporary Nutrition (Gordon M. Wardlow & Anne M. Smith)

My fav veggie!
Broccoli & Desire (Edward F. Fisher & Peter Benson)

Now show your love for the rabbit food and vote for your favorite cover(s)!



October 17, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - The Blog Guidebook

Where to go? The Blog Guidebook

What's it all about? Created by two friends who want to see the blogging community grow in friendship, creativity and beauty this website is a great source for bloggers of all trades.

Who should check it out? Bloggers near and far, be they crafty or creative, be they baker, pet lovers or even lawyers.

Time well spent? Naturally. The site offers so much, from features and tutorials straight to Linky Parties and freebies, so you can find a whole bunch of ideas here.

One for the road ...

Copyright by The Blog Guidebook

October 16, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Chick-lit Authors


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Favorite Chick-lit Authors

Sophie Kinsella - Not just for shopaholics!

Jennifer Crusie - Let's mix romance with adventure!

Chris Manby - Fun fun fun!

Jill Mansell - Witty and romantic!
Alexandra Potter - Girlie reads with a twist!










Yep, only five authors, then of course we're supposed to name our favorite ones and I didn't want to fill up the rest of the list with authors that I merely like or by whom I've only read one book so far. And why didn't I pick another genre, you ask? Well, this list wouldn't necessarily be longer in other genres either. You see, I'm very particular when it comes to calling authors favorites.

Who are your favorite chick-lit authors?