November 30, 2012

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

They come in pairs. They take us places. We should be thankful for that. And how are we treating them in return? Squeeze 'em into high heels and let them suffer.

Put your pretty shoes on!
Cinderella's Sister (Dorothy Ko)
The Towering World Of Jimmy Choo (Lauren Goldstein Crow & Sagra Maceira de Rosen)

The little ones!
My Left Foot (Christy Brown)
One Small Boat (Kathy Harrison)

When it all is said and done!
Stiff (Mary Roach)
Toe Tagged (Jaime Joyce)

Now go ahead (pun fully intended) and vote for your favorite footsie covers!!


November 28, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - You Are Your Words

Where to go? You Are Your Words

What's it all about? The American Heritage® Dictionary invites everyone to create a self-portrait using your own words.

Who should check it out? Most of all all those word nerds out there. Then, of course, everyone who's in a bit of a playful mood. Or just bored.

Time well spent? Yep. Though before you get frustrated about the program being awfully slow or non-responsive - apparently it does not work on Google Chrome, but using Firefox did the trick for me.

One for the road ...

November 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For 2013


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

Top Ten Most Anticipated 
Books For 2013

For some strange reason I'm rarely in eager anticipation of upcoming books which doesn't mean I'm not curious about them or wouldn't want to read them, but I'm not one of those who easily fall into that hysterical bookaholic mode that goes along with screeching like a maniac. This also means I've got pretty fingernails as I'm not constantly chewing on them while waiting for that pre-order to finally arrive.

Either way, let's take a look the books that are on my radar, and to spread my love fairly, I've split it into fiction and non fiction ...

Fiction
Wedding Night (Sophie Kinsella)
Deeply Odd (Dean Koontz)
Cold Spell (Jackson Pearce)
The Science of Discworld IV (Terry Pratchett)
Shades of Earth (Beth Revis)

Non Fiction
How to Write Short (Roy Peter Clark)
To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Non Fiction
(Philip Lopate)
Good Prose: The Art of Non Fiction
(Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd)
The Little Black Book of Writer Wisdom
(Stephen D. Price, Ed.)
Creating Room to Read (John Wood)

Which books are you looking forward to in 2013?

Quote Garden - It is always fatal to have music or poetry interrupted

We learn words by rote, but not their meaning; that must be paid for with our life-blood, and printed in the subtle fibres of our nerves.

No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters.

Most of us who turn to any subject with love remember some morning or evening hour when we got on a high stool to reach down an untried volume, or sat with parted lips listening to a new talker, or for very lack of books began to listen to the voices within, as the first traceable beginning of our love.

I beg your pardon: correct English is the slang of prigs who write history and essays. And the strongest slang of all is the slang of poets.

Poetry and art and knowledge are sacred and pure.

By George Eliot

November 26, 2012

A Writer's Life - Christmas Time's A-Comin' Part I

Only four more weeks to go before it's time to give the favorite writer in your life a Christmas prezzie which will hopefully leave a good impression and not inspire said writer to put you into their next novel, though not in a favorable way.

Sometimes it seems that it's easier for writers to find gifts for people in their lives than the other way around. Blame it on our knack for observation and just general creativity which runs through our veins. So as to avoid that you end up as that character that got killed off in Chapter 2 (or worse, you could be that dead body in the very first sentence if your present was of the unbelievable awful variety) I will share with you a few suggestions on what to give, or not to give as a gift to a writer.

Let's start with what you should avoid!

Books.
Writing YA Fiction
I know what you're thinking. Books!? Isn't that actually something writers love? In short - yes! The point is that we love books so much that we already own so many and to make things worse we buy most of them ourselves. So unless your soon-to-be-gifted writer doesn't drop hints by the dozen or hands out wishlists, I suggest to proceed with caution when it comes to buying a book as a present.

Mugs.
Alice in Wonderland Mug
Writers need mugs. Filled with tea or coffee or booze. However, after having received at least a dozen mugs on various occasions we are usually well equipped to host a writing circle with no one having to sip their tea or coffee or booze out of paper cups. So unless you are certain that the writer in question is  beyond being broke and in desperate need of a mug (and plates, cutlery, and what not) I say steer clear of adding yet another one to the collection.

Notebooks and Pens.
Diamond Pen from Aurora
Yes, we need them! And trust me, we've usually got enough to get us through the next decade. So unless you want to spoil the writer in your life with something that really stands out, say a diamond encrusted pen, you might want to come back next week when I will let you in on the kind of gifts writers will definitely cherish!

Not so fast. Of course I'd like to know from other writers what kind of presents they'd like to add to the not-recommended-for-gift-giving list!

Old Books in Need of a New Home

Welcome everyone to the final edition (for this year so don't fret) of Old Books in Need of a New Home where I'll be giving away one nice sized box filled with books. I know I said I'd be giving away two boxes again this time, but now I decided that I'm simply going to make one really big one. That cuts down on postage costs on my side and I'm pretty sure it'll make the winner even happier to have more books in the box compared to splitting the loot in two. Anyway.

What's up for grabs?
YA novels with lots of fur and ghostly encounters

The Summoning (Kelley Armstrong)
Sisters Red (Jackson Pearce)
Claire de Lune (Christine Johnson)
Moonlight (Rachel Hawthorne)
Need (Carrie Jones)
Shade (Jeri Smith-Ready)
Hereafter (Tara Hudson)
Everlost (Neal Shusterman)

Condition?
I bought all of these books used which means they have been read a couple times and they look the part. Yet they still have got some life left in them and if dented spines and the likes don't scare you *boo* you're more than welcome 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!
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated!
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.

Gratitude Giveaways Winner

First let me just say I was thoroughly impressed by the number of entries in this giveaway hop - 569 to be exact. Of course that was after I had to delete several entries from folks who thought that trying to enter multiple times would give them a better chance of winning. Yeah, right! Fat chance of that happening. And wouldn't you know it - those cheaters weren't exactly the brightest crayon in the box either ... to name one example: Charlie (of course it was a different name) entered four times all within seconds according to the time stamp and always with the same name (no kidding) yet he got a little creative in the usage of his e-mail addys: charlie1@whatever.com, bigcharlieguy@whatever.com, charles.is.big@whatever.com ... can I even admit to not just rolling my eyes but breaking out in laughter when I saw that? Anyway, we do have a winner who won fair and square!

The lucky winner of the Gratitude Giveaways is
Tamara
who has won a $15,00 Amazon GC!

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

November 25, 2012

TEA & BOOKS Reading Challenge


This challenge was inspired by C.S. Lewis' famous words, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."

Welcome to the second edition of the TEA & BOOKS Reading Challenge! Once again, you better settle in with a large cup of tea, because in this challenge you will only get to read ... books with more than 650 pages!

Here goes ...

You may pick both fiction and non fiction books!

Contrary to last year short story collections, anthologies or collected works in one volume are now allowed!

Re-reads will now also be ok (though preferably you should read one of those unread tomes that have been collecting dust on your shelves)!

Last year you had to read 700+ pages but I reduced this to 650+ for 2013 (and no, this is not further negotiable)!

And as a little incentive - books with more than 1.200 pages will count for two books (so theoretically you can read four such super-chunksters to reach the Sencha Connoisseur level)!

Last but not least - no large print editions of a book, please!

Are you ready? Go ahead and pick your level!

2 Books - Chamomile Lover

4 Books - Berry Tea Devotee

6 Books - Earl Grey Aficionado

8 or more Books - Sencha Connoisseur

To sign up, please read the general rules below! Then post about the challenge on your blog, including the button above, and don't forget to link back to my blog or directly to this blog post which will be the main sign-up page now (I'd ask to link back to the TEA & BOOKS Reading Challenge page but Blogger is acting up and won't allow me to publish any new pages - apparently a known problem for some time now)!

Non-Bloggers may of course sign up as well for the challenge - no sign-up post needed!

*****

RULES

To sign up, all you have to do is fill out the FORM!

To view the list of all participants go HERE.

Updates on the challenge will be posted on a regular basis and you may then comment with your own progress.

The challenge will take place between January 1st and December 31st 2013.

You can join any time between now and early 2013.

You have to pick a level, though you may "upgrade" to the next one at any time. In this case just drop me a line, so I can change your previous level.

You don't need to list your books ahead of time, though I won't object if you do. I'm definitely curious about your book choices for the challenge.

The books you choose may crossover into other challenges.

Both physical and eBooks are allowed, though personally I feel that especially the TEA & BOOKS Reading Challenge is more fun with real books.

Reviews of the books read are not mandatory.

If you have any questions, please comment below!

THIS ISN'T FICTION Reading Challenge


Everyone who loves my Friday feature This isn't Fiction listen up! Now you won't only be able to read about non fiction on a weekly basis, you can also participate in a reading challenge! Like the sound of this? Then read on, my dears!

Before you sign up 
there are a few things to consider ... 

All non fiction genres are allowed!

Books must be at least 100 pages long (excluding appendix and annotations)!

Books must be read in their entirety and not just in part (which consequently excludes encyclopedias, then again who in their right mind would want to read one of those from beginning to end)!

No picture heavy books - you're supposed to read not just look at pretty photos (that said, books should have a 75:25 text/picture ratio - if it's a big tome with 300 or more pages, then it may be a 50:50 ratio)!

ARCs and re-reads are allowed!

So, what's it going to be for you?

5 Books - Kindergarden

10 Books - Elementary School

15 Books - High School

20 or more Books - College

To sign up, please read the general rules below! Then post about the challenge on your blog, including the button above, and don't forget to link back to my blog or directly to this blog post which will be the main sign-up page now (I'd ask to link back to the THIS ISN'T FICTION Reading Challenge page but Blogger is acting up and won't allow me to publish any new pages - apparently a known problem for some time now)!

Non-Bloggers may of course sign up as well for the challenge - no sign-up post needed!

*****

RULES

To sign up, all you have to do is fill out the FORM!

To view the list of all participants go HERE.

Updates on the challenge will be posted on a regular basis (usually the first Sunday each month) and you may then comment with your own progress.

The challenge will take place between January 1st and December 31st 2013.

You can join any time between now and early 2013.

You have to pick a level, though you may "upgrade" to the next one at any time. In this case just drop me a line, so I can change your previous level.

You don't need to list your books ahead of time, though I won't object if you do. I'm definitely curious about your book choices for the challenge.

The books you choose may crossover into other challenges.

Both physical and eBooks are allowed.

Reviews of the books read are not mandatory.

If you have any questions, please comment below!

The Postman Files - The one where I feel slightly overwhelmed ...

I swear I have no idea how this happened. All right, I lied. I know fully well how this happened. Sue me. So, I requested a few books for review and how was I to know that publishers love me so much they would send out all of my requests. At once.

Anyway, let's take a look at my haul.

For Review
Paranormality (Richard Wiseman)
The Art of Science (Richard Hamblyn)
A Curious Invitation (Suzanne Field)
Lost at Sea (Jon Ronson)

The Wisdom of Psychopaths (Kevin Dutton)
Moranthology (Caitlin Moran)

Can We Travel Through Time? (Michael Brooks)
from Quercus

A big thank you to the folks at Pan MacMillan, Random House and Quercus!

The Reading Files - Aliens? Gods? You name it.

Once there was a book stack. Now it is no more. Ok, small book stack, but nevertheless ...

POD (Stephen Wallenfels)

Thoughts. Wow, all I can say is, wow. Seriously. This book gripped me and wouldn't let go. Maybe not much "actual" story, but boy did the characters and their fate pull me in and chill me to the bone. So, remember, when the aliens show up, you better make sure you've got a full pantry and good company.

Random quote. "One of those dear could feed us for a month."
And there you have it folks. I see Bambi. He sees deer cutlets frying in a pan. 
That's why I didn't want to tell him.
(p. 167)

Verdict. Amazing science fiction treat!

Under the Never Sky (Veronica Rossi)

Thoughts. A bit of a rough start with that one as the narrative was a bit blah at first, but then things started rolling. Love the clash of the different "cultures" and while I didn't quite connect with Aria the rest of the cast did make up for this (mostly). And the twist with the whole "senses thing" is definitely a plus.

Last line. She chased the sounds until all she heard was his heartbeat and then his breath and his voice, right by her ear, telling her, in tones as warm as fire, exactly the words she wanted to hear.

Verdict. Dystopian adventure with just a touch of paranormality!

The Goddess Test (Aimee Carter)

Thoughts. Off to a good start. Mythology meets modern times and all. And then. Utter boredom. The hero has the charm of an ice-cube and our heroine *shakes head in disbelieve* is anything but heroic. And don't even get me started on the non existent chemistry. The best about it all must be the cover.

First words spoken. "How did it happen this time?"

Verdict. Disappointingly clichéd from beginning to end!

November 24, 2012

Pajama Musings - Thou shalt not judge!

I know I know ... instead of being happy that people are actually reading we should not make funny /shocked/disgusted faces when we realize they are reading books we'd never even touch with a ten foot pole. Of course reading something is better than reading nothing at all.

Confession time.

And I am not ashamed to say it out loud. 

I. Am. Being. Judgmental.

Of course I realize tastes are different and not everyone will like the same genres, so I'm certainly not scoffing at anyone for reading outside of my own comfort zone. Though every once in a while there comes a book along which turns me into a totally judgmental über-bitch.

Created at MemeCreator

Exhibit A - The 50 Shades of Grey books.

First of all it's not the kind of genre I typically read. Secondly the plot itself makes me stifle a big fat yawn. Thirdly some of my most trusted fellow book bloggers have literally suffered through the first book and consequently felt the same way I am feeling without even having read the first page. Sadly, this excludes Ally and I'm still heart-broken over this, boohoo!

So yes, I judge books I haven't even read. I never claimed I'd be all fair about this. You can think (or say, for that matter) what you want about my confession. Obviously I wouldn't make a blog post about this if I felt even slightly embarrassed about the whole thing. Well, maybe I'd put it into the category of "self-reflection", but I'm not. I'm standing on my soap-free box and scream it out so the whole world knows.

I. Am. Passing. Judgement. 

And every reader who claims they never do that is a liar. 

Granted, not everyone will condemn certain books without having read them, so you do get your own 50 shades, though in this case of judgmental bias. And I am fairly sure that there are readers who are a lot worse than yours truly. Those who wouldn't even shake your hand if they found out you've never read Shakespeare (which I haven't).

The thing is, I am not condemning the author. Live and let live, or rather, write and let write. Yet when readers get all excited and flustered because they absolutely luuuv a book which I consider junk, then I am putting my best scowl on, mumbling some not so nice things to myself, while all the time knowing that there's a book for every person, so apparently a certain book has found its audience.

So, now that we've established that I don't necessarily judge a book by its cover, but most certainly a reader by their books, I wonder who is brave enough to share their own judgmental streaks when it comes to the taste of fellow readers.

Anyone?

*distant sound of crickets*

November 23, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Let's talk ... True Crime


If there is one non fiction genre which borders most to fiction than this must be True Crime. Here the author presents not a fictitious but an actual crime in all its gory detail. The crimes written about most commonly include murder, but often other legal cases may be touched too. While some True Crime will strictly stick to well-established facts, some books can also be highly speculative. What they usually all have in common is that they crimes examined are either political assassinations, well-known unsolved murders, or the deaths of celebrities. Prominent True Crime accounts include Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi (about Charles Manson) or The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (about Ted Bundy). Depending on the author's approach to the crime he/she writes about the result may lean towards the shocking and sensationalist or present a down to earth, social realistic account.

I must admit, I've never knowingly read a True Crime book. It's not as though I'd be averse to crime novels - I do get the latest Tess Gerritsen each year, and I have quite a soft spot for cozy mysteries, but other than that the topic of murder itself isn't something I personally like to explore on the realistic level which True Crime offers.

Popular or not? 
27% of those who filled out my survey like True Crime

Reading Suggestions?
As I am obviously not the best person to ask about recommendations in a genre I know next to nothing about, I'd like to share a great site I found. The page is on the ... wait for it ... Forensic Colleges website which admittedly made me chuckle. I mean, how fitting is that? Anyway, here's the link to the 25 Best True Crime Books in which I found some familiar yet unexpected authors.

Getting into the right True Crime mood!
For those who like to add interesting blogs to their reader I suggest heading over to True Crime Reader which is a site dedicated to the genre, featuring both reviews and news about the world of True Crime. If you'd rather stick to the non-book True Crime variety you might want to check out the True Crime Library. And if you are more of a hands-on person (not in a murderous way, I would hope) then the True Crime Diary is well worth a visit to follow investigations of unsolved crimes.

000

Have you ever read a True Crime book? Is True Crime possibly even one of your favorite non fiction genres? Or maybe you do prefer the fiction genre of Crime better? Comment away.

November 21, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - Lime Lane Photography

Where to go? Lime Lane Photography

What's it all about? Kellie, a blogger, photographer, mum, wife and journalist provides a free stock photography service specifically aimed at bloggers and their websites.

Who should check it out? Bloggers of all trades who like to add some pretty pictures to their posts without running the risk of violating copyrights.

Time well spent? While it is (so far) a small portfolio, I say it's totally worth checking out instead of trawling Google for pictures you're most likely not allowed to use anyway.

One for the road ...

Image from © Lime Lane Photography

November 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Books/Authors I'm Thankful For


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

Books/Authors
I'm Thankful For 

My Bedtime Book of Magic Carpet Stories (Patricia Taylor)
This book really stands out among all the other books and/or authors I came to appreciate as it instilled my love for reading and traveling already at an early age. And I still own my copy of the book too!




Of course there are several other authors too which made me fall in love with reading and which I think of fondly today ...

Enid Blyton


Erich Kästner


Johannes Mario Simmel

Wilhelm Busch


Which books/authors are you thankful for? I'm especially curious about those which left a lasting impression on you at an early age, those that made you the avid reader you are today!

Quote Garden - The Sunday Paper

If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed.
Mark Twain

Deprived of their newspapers or a novel, reading-addicts will fall back onto cookery books, on the literature which is wrapped around bottles of patent medicine, on those instructions for keeping the contents crisp which are printed on the outside of boxes of breakfast cereals. On anything.
Aldous Huxley

Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else.
Albert Einstein

Just because something is typed - whether it is typed on a business card or typed in a newspaper or book - this does not mean that it is true.
Lemony Snicket

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.
Thomas Jefferson

November 19, 2012

A Writer's Life - So what about those elves?

Copyright by Debbie Ohi

I know those elves. No, really, I do! Unfortunately it's not the writing-at-night kind. It's the sewing-clothes-tighter-at-night variety. Too bad.

Thing is, and I doubt I'm alone with this, that writers will write stories in their heads first. Well, I do. And then we're supposed to transfer those stories onto paper. Maybe supposed is the wrong word. We feel this desperate need to do so, otherwise we'd go crazy. Now, if you think that plonking down in front of the computer and typing away would give us the relief from those stories haunting us, you'd be right. Unfortunately it's not that simple. Unless your name is Stephen King. Then you'd be half way through your next bestseller while the infantry is still polishing their swords, errr, pens.

From idea to paper. Here's where those elves would often come in quite handy. I realize this sounds just plain lazy, and to a certain extent it is, but as much fun as it is to sit down and let your characters loose in strange, but not necessarily new, worlds, it can sometimes be a bit bothersome too. No pain no gain, or something like that.

Then, of course, it's like that with a lot of things in life. You plan to declutter your basement, have even made a list on what exactly you 'll need to do, yet when the moment arrives that you actually stand in the midst of the chaos (and, let's face it, if you feel the need to clean out the basement, chances are it's one hell of a mess) you feel the sudden urge to make a run for it. Of course the basement, and most of all the chaos, won't just go away if you ignore it. In fact, the picture of it will have already left a permanent imprint on your mind and haunts you day in and day out. No other way to regain sanity than pulling through with the help of a broom and a whole lot of willpower. And it's gonna be worth it when you see the result. Same thing with writing, really.
Some days I really wish I could bring my ideas to paper through thought alone. From the movie in my head straight into a finished novel. More often though I'm glad being able to sit down letting that movie play again in my head while at the same time putting it into words, enjoying the story a second (or a third or a forty-seventh if you factor in all those revisions) time around. Those are the moments I'm glad there are no elves. If they only left my clothes alone now too ...

All those writers out there - do you sometimes wish for elves helping you out? Don't be shy - I admitted to it, so you can do too! Unless of course you prefer your writing to be elf-free.

November 18, 2012

The Postman Files - First win, then read!

All the stars have obviously been aligned, just don't ask me which way, because yours truly has been lucky indeed. Imagine my surprise when I won in a recent giveaway hop ... not just once, but three times!? That's random for ya. And apparently my lucky streak did not end there either ...

Won
When She Woke (Hillary Jordan)


Gärtner, Bauern und Märkte in Wien (Traude Meier-Shomburg)

Won
Contamination: The Onset (T.B. Piperbrook)

The Reading Files - Getting rid of freebies ...

Everyone who's not guilty of downloading copious amounts of free eBooks please raise your hands. Ah, I thought so. Long story short, I decided to dedicate this week to my unread freebies. Not as though this would have made a huge dent into what I've virtually stored away, but you know ...

... the first two are fairly new downloads while the other two have been lurking on my eReader for about a year or so. The sad thing is that I only got the latter because they were free and not because I actually wanted to read them so badly. At least I have changed my ways in recent months and will only download freebies now if I'm genuinely interested!

Here goes.

Hollowland (Amanda Hocking)

Thoughts. Run of the mill post-apocalyptic zombie novel. Neither bad nor standing out amongst its peers. If it weren't for the thing with the lion which was just too far fetched for my taste. And yes, far fetched in a book with zombies, but anyway.

First lineThis is the way the world ends - not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.

Verdict. Your average zombie novel with one tough fighter chick!

Jenny Pox (J.L. Bryan)

Thoughts. Her touch kills. His touch heals. Throw it all together in a high school ambiance and add some reincarnation and sex and gore. I thought this was YA. If it is then I'd like to call it the YA version of Splatterpunk, sorta.

Last words spoken. Then we'd better get started. One lifetime goes by like that.

Verdict. Intriguing idea goes all crazy and weird!

Fatal Destiny (Marie Force)

Thoughts. Reading novellas in a series I know nothing about has once again proven to be a bad idea. A romantic read? Not really. A suspenseful read? Nah. But don't listen to me blabbering on - if you love the other books, I say go for it.

Random quote. "Tell me I don't have to cut Fenway," Nick said, stricken by the idea of it.
"We took lots of pictures," Shelby assured him, handing him a knife. "Have at it."
"I can't. It would be like bringing another eight-six-year curse down on the Sox."
(p. 109)

Verdict. Mediocre contemporary romance novella!

The Spurned Viscountess (Shelley Munro)

Thoughts. I'm not going for historical romances all that often, but when I do I set my expectations high. Here we have one reluctant hero, one feisty heroine, a bit of suspense and mystery, all spruced up with just the right amount of steamy scenes. I seriously need to read more in this genre!

First words spoken. Hastings, the carriage is coming. Your betrothed has arrived. 

Verdict. Sweet and sexy and utterly enjoyable!

Review - One For the Books (Joe Queenan)

Joe Queenan became a voracious reader as a means of escape from a joyless childhood in a Philadelphia housing project. In the years since then he has dedicated himself to an assortment of idiosyncratic reading challenges: spending a year reading only short books, spending a year reading books he always suspected he would hate, spending a year reading books he picked with his eyes closed.
In One for the Books, Queenan tries to come to terms with his own eccentric reading style—how many more books will he have time to read in his lifetime? Why does he refuse to read books hailed by reviewers as “astonishing”? Why does he refuse to lend out books? Will he ever buy an e-book? Why does he habitually read thirty to forty books simultaneously? Why are there so many people to whom the above questions do not even matter—and what do they read? Acerbically funny yet passionate and oddly affectionate, One for the Books is a reading experience that true book lovers will find unforgettable.


Review
Imagine a fellow who loves his books. I mean, really loves them. Let me introduce you to Joe Queenan, author of One For the Books - a reader with the most quirky habits, wonderfully opinioned, snarky and flippant, and let's not forget, he is quite a book snob too. Sounds bad? Trust me, it isn't. In fact I couldn't sing louder praises for a book about the passion for books. But let's not get ahead of myself.
A writer by trade, Queenan is a reader at heart. And he takes this whole reading business most seriously which, at times, made me feel slightly intimidated, especially when he mentioned yet another book and/or author I have never in my life heard about. He's got bookshelves filled with books he knows he'll never read. Reading in the bathroom is pretty much a no-go for him. Scribbling down notes in his books is basically a given. And book clubs, well, just don't get him started on those. So, did I find myself between these lines? To an extent, yes, but it was the part that was so unlike my own reading persona which made this book so refreshing.
Written in such a charmingly humorous way that I'd be hard pressed to mention just one favorite quote from it. Let me tell you, this whole book is one big quotation! All ye bibliophiles - if you love smart and gritty, and don't mind pretentious, this one's for you!
In short: Reading? Obsessed!

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 - Drinking History (Andrew F. Smith)

A companion to Andrew F. Smith's critically acclaimed and popular Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine, this volume recounts the individuals, ingredients, corporations, controversies, and myriad events responsible for America's diverse and complex beverage scene. He revisits the country's major historical moments: colonization, the American Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion, the temperance movement, Prohibition, and repeal, and he tracks the growth of the American beverage industry throughout the world. The result is an intoxicating encounter with an often overlooked aspect of American culture and global influence.
Smith weaves a wild history full of surprising stories and explanations for such classic slogans as "taxation with and without representation;" "the lips that touch wine will never touch mine;" and "rum, Romanism, and rebellion." He reintroduces readers to Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and the colorful John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed), and he rediscovers America's vast literary and cultural engagement with beverages and their relationship to politics, identity, and health.


Review
Who knew how big the impact of beverages on American culture really is? In his book Drinking History Andrew F. Smith introduces the reader to a history of drinking in the United States, from Colonial times, when beer ran out and colonists had to make do with plain water, straight to today's low-fat soy latte from the nearest coffee-shop of your choice.
I've always been drawn to books that explore the history of things, probably because history class back in school has been rather dull, and looking at our past from a slightly different angle is something that accommodates my curiosity more than the apparent lack of enthusiasm my history teachers showed.
As far as factual information goes this book has it all - each chapter brings you some historical background, dips into how certain beverages were produced, shares how people's tastes changed over the years, and obviously major events such as the Prohibition are in the spotlight too.
Sadly, my interest in the doubtlessly fascinating topic, and my appreciation for a presentation of facts in a brief and succinct format, collided with the writing style which is bordering heavily on school book charm. I expect my non fiction fare to be a bit more lively and a little less dry, and hadn't it been for the segments on typical American beverages, eg Root Beer or Dr. Pepper, which I personally found the most interesting, my verdict would have been less favorable.
In short: Shaken, but definitely not stirred!

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.

November 17, 2012

Pajama Musings - The Facebook Experiment

Those of you who like entering giveaways know that nothing comes without a price. You need to fill out forms, comment here, share there, and then of course, the not-so-holy-grail of bowing down before the Gods of Social Media sites. Like me, follow me, and like me some more.

Some folks don't mind going to extremes for another tiny slice of a chance of maybe winning that $50,- Amazon GC. After all, we all could easily find uses for it, right?

While I'm a one-entry-kind of person when it comes to having giveaways on my blog, I very rarely ask you to follow me. And now I have decided to drop the whole following stuff for all giveaways starting with my 2nd Blogoversary Giveaway in December. I know that my blog has got a fair share of loyal readers, some dropping by more regularly than others, and many of them being a lazy bunch when it comes to commenting, but heck, I'm not exactly the queen of commenting myself despite being an avid reader of other blogs.

Anyway. No more dancing the like-me-shuffle in my garden. Of course, you may still boogie through my blog posts and dedicate a tango to my reading challenges, but no more frantically jumping around trying to get rid of those thumbscrews of doing this'n'that.

But. Yes, but. I went for a little experiment. Just to see, you know.

I joined the Have It Your Way Giveaway which would actually be a good candidate for yours truly to enter herself, seeing how $200,- would come in real handy. The giveaway is open for a whole month and has been running for roughly two weeks now. A Facebook link is free, so no investment on my part, as I'd like to add. Now take a guess how many followers I gained within the first week!

For the records, I started out with 55 fans!

24 hours  202 fans (+147)
48 hours  249 fans (+47)
72 hours  282 fans (+33)
96 hours  307 fans (+25)
120 hours  321 fans (+14)
144 hours  338 fans (+17)
168 hours aka as one week later the fan count has risen to an astounding 352 fans!

An average of about 15 new fans kept on trickling in each day after that. Now let's not rule out the slight possibility that a handful of those who became fans in the past ten days did so because they want to follow my blog that way and didn't get lured in by this giveaway hop.

By the time this post goes live there is a total of 440 fans on my FB page!

Speechless? Yep, that pretty much nails it. I mean, I am a self-proclaimed giveaway whore and when I have the time I will enter them aplenty, winning awesome stuff and sometimes, let's be honest enough to admit this, awful junk too. If it's something I really want though, trust me to like fan pages. All my Facebook friends can vouch for this - I will like more fan pages in a week than some people use the bathroom in a month. I think. I didn't do the math, exactly.

Either way. Fascinating as the result might be, this has been my first and last participation in such an event, because let's face it, these kind of likes are totally worthless. With any luck maybe one or two might actually check out my blog. Not throwing out my fan page from their newsfeed the first chance they get? Yeah, right. Possibly maybe un-following after a given time? You bet! Well, at least if they even remember liking the page in the first place.

What is your take on this? Do some bloggers only want to give their ego's a boost by reveling in rising follower numbers on half a dozen social media sites? Is it nothing more than a bribe? And even more so, is all fair in love and blogging?

November 16, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Recommended Reads #5


Don't we all know the moments when we are desperately searching for a present (preferably last minute, argh) for someone near and dear? When all else fails, buy a book! At least that's my motto. Of course you can't always be sure what kind of books you aunt, your neighbor or your new colleague might like, but fear not 'cause there is this thing called Gift Book.

Who I'd like to recommend to you today is Bradley Trevor Greive whose The Blue Day Book is just the first in a line of similar books, which probably remains the best sold and most popular one of his many books. It features a collection of amusing animal photographs and inspirational text designed to "lift the spirits of anyone who has got the blues". Along the same lines follow more of these delightful, encouraging, and witty gift books for every occasion.

Now let me in on a little secret. These books are also great to buy for yourself. No, seriously, they are. I own quite a number of them and I will read them again every once in a while, because ... well, they are just plain lovely and never fail to make me smile!

How about taking a look at some of them?

The Book For People Who Do Too Much - Hard work has killed a whole bunch of people. It has also caused premature aging, baldness and explosive indigestion.

The Simple Truth About Love  - Falling in love is just like kissing, no two people do it the same way.

Dieting Causes Brain Damage - #1 lesson is to "Keep your mouth shut."

To find out more about Bradley Trevor Greive visit his website!
Who do I recommend these books to?
Everyone who's in need of a smile, cheering up, or a good laugh. 

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What's your take on Gift Books? Like to give them to others or do you find them too cheesy? Maybe you know Greive's books? If so, do you like them? Please share.

November 15, 2012

Picture Garden - Truth

TRUTH

Gratitude Giveaways

Welcome to the
Gratitude Giveaways
(November 15th - November 25th)
hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

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!

This giveaway hop is a way to thank our followers, but as you probably already know, I never ask you to follow me in the giveaway hops I participate in and I won't ask you to do so now. 

That said, I just recently created a Facebook fan page for my blog, sooo in case you are on Facebook and would like to follow me there as well, you are more than welcome to do so! Again - this is no condition for entering the giveaway!

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

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

Rules 
Comments do not count as entries - you must fill out the form!
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on November 26th 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!

November 14, 2012

Beyond the Shelf - We Blog Cartoons

Where to go? We Blog Cartoons

What's it all about? Dave Walker shares his cartoons here, free for re-use by bloggers. In his own words, "The more people that enjoy my work the better and life is generally too short not to give things away."

Who should check it out? Bloggers who'd like to spruce up their posts without "stealing" copyrighted material.

Time well spent? If you love cartoons, yes.

One for the road ...

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com
Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

November 13, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I'd Want On A Deserted Island


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

Top Ten Books I'd Want 
On A Deserted Island

The Wilderness Survival Guide (Joe O'Leary)
Obvious choice.
Living of the Land (Chris McNab)
I wonder if there is a vegetarian edition of this book?
The Worst-Case Scenario Almanac: The Great Outdoors (David Borgenicht)
Because things that can go wrong, will go wrong.
The Optimist's Handbook (Niall Edworthy & Petra Cramsie)
Where would I be without hope? Still on that darn island, I guess.
Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island (Greil Marcus)
Soundtrack? Mandatory.
The Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss)
You never know what you can learn here ...
Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe)
... or here.









And finally ...

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Opening a Coconut (Author Unknown)
Because it looks easier than it actually is.

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Boat Made Solely of Coconuts (Author Unknown)
Once you manage to open a coconut, the rest is easy peasy.

101 Coconut Recipes (Author Unknown)
And if all else fails (or sinks) I can at least try variations of the same ol' coconut stew.

Which books would you want on a desert island?