June 30, 2013

TEA & BOOKS Reading Challenge

It's time again (so soon, oh my) for another update in this challenge and seeing how we've officially reached halftime, no further fooling and/or lazing around, my dears!

While I didn't expect it, I am happy to announce that I managed to finish two mega-tomes (as a reminder, books with 1.200+ pages qualify for two books) which means I have already reached the Berry Tea Devotee level I signed up for. The next step? An upgrade, obviously. I'm not heavily into fruit tea and really more of a Earl Grey Aficionado anyway.

Now, which books did I tackle?
It (Stephen King)
Limit (Frank Schätzing)

The sad thing about these two chunksters is how I didn't really enjoyed either one, but mainly kept on drudging through for the sake of this challenge. While I still have a number of big books on my reading piles I am almost hesitant to pick up the next one, and to be on the safe side I will steer clear of the real fat bricks and instead hunt down those in the 650+ range before considering anything even remotely around 1.000 pages. Who could blame me?

Curious about who else is participating in the challenge? Go here.

Updates for the challenge will be posted regularly on Sundays near the end/beginning of a month and the next date will be August 4th.

How many tomes did you plow through during the first six months? Have you reached your chosen level yet? Then how about an upgrade? Comment away!

THIS ISN'T FICTION Reading Challenge

Have you noticed? Half time, folks! Let's take a look back at the last six month and risk a glance onto the next six months, shall we?

Maybe not that unexpectedly, after all I do read a lot of non fiction books, I really managed to reach my level about a week ago. As I signed up for the College level which means reading 20+ books this means I can't even upgrade, but never fear, I certainly won't resort to reading fiction only the rest of the year.

I bet you're curious about what exactly I read, so here's the list of books:
Moranthology (Caitlin Moran)
The Wisdom of Psychopaths (Kevin Dutton)
100 Places You Will Never Visit (Daniel Smith)
A Curious Invitation (Suzette Field)
Can We Travel Through Time? (Michael Brooks)
Paranormality (Richard Wiseman)
Forever, Erma (Erma Bombeck)
A Big Little Life (Dean Koontz)
The Book Lovers' Companion (Lionel Shriver)
The Art of Travel (Alain de Botton)
Surviving the Angel of Death (Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri)
The Best of Bombeck (Erma Bombeck) - This Omnibus Edition includes three of her books!
Vivid & Continuous (John McNally)
Why We Write (Meredith Maran)
Holy Sh*t (Melissa Mohr)
A Slap in the Face (William B. Irvine)
Black Cats & Evil Eyes (Chloe Rhodes)
You Are Not So Smart (David McRaney)

What can I say? Very proud of self. Now I wonder if I can really outdo myself and add another twenty books to this list by the end of the year? We shall see.

Curious about who else is participating in the challenge? Go here.

Updates for the challenge will be posted regularly on Sundays near the end/beginning of a month and the next date will be August 4th.

How did you do during the first half of the year? Are you ahead or have you fallen behind with the amount of books you plan to tackle? Please share!

The Reading Files - Of buttons and coffee ...

Time to get some cozy mysteries into my system. The first being from a series that was new to me and which positively surprised me, the last being part of a series which, so far, I very much enjoyed, but which, I'm afraid to say, I now find on the slightly annoying side.

Button Holed (Kylie Logan)

Thoughts. It can't be good finding a dead Hollywood star in your button shop, though finding a button where it doesn't belong ignites Josie's investigative skill. As far as themes go, this is as quirky as it can get. A fresh and fun narrative plus a likable cast will make me watch out for more of this series.

Random quote. "And I promise not to talk about buttons," I told him. "If you promise not to talk about murder."
"Oh, I don't know!" Nevin put a hand on my shoulder to usher me down the street. "When it comes to murder ... Josie, I think we finally found something we have in common."
(p. 264)

Verdict. Enjoyable light cozy not just for buttoned up readers!

Roast Mortem (Cleo Coyle)

Thoughts. A coffeehouse goes up in flames, so naturally it couldn't have been a mere accident, not with Clare Cosi around. I liked learning more about Mike's family background, but the coffee-talk is getting out of hand, the plot felt too contrived, and somehow the persistent sleuthing just plain annoyed me.

Random quote. I continued forcing myself to drink the vending machine coffee. About a hundred years ago cowboys used to heat ground coffee in a sock placed in a pot of simmering water. When their campfire coffee was ready, they'd pour it into a tin cup. I'd never tasted boiled cowboy sock coffee, but I was absolutely sure it tasted better than this.
(p. 85)

Verdict. Not the best brew of one of my favorite cozies!

June 28, 2013

Non-Fiction Discoveries

You might not have a Facebook profile, but if you haven't set foot anywhere into the world wide web, you must be living beneath a stone ...

Next status update? I'll elope with my honey and move to Ohio. From the safety of a computer chair we can pretend to be (and do) pretty much everything we want. A Brave New Social Media World, all right!

Fakebook: A True Story. Based on Actual Lies. (Dave Cicirelli)
Publ. September 3rd 2013 - PBK

Could the internet possibly be the end of the English language? Then again, in a world of technological development new things require new words. Let's keep up with a journey through the digital age's most common terms!

Netymology: From Apps to Zombies - A Linguistic Celebration of the Digital World (Tom Chatfield)
Publ. March 28th 2013 - HC

Spreadable? Like butter on bread? This book is taking a look at media business from a scholarly angle. Think along the lines of "going viral". And who knows? Maybe media indeed works like a knife spreading butter on bread.

Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green)
Publ. February 15th 2013 - HC
New York University Press

June 27, 2013

The Literary Blog Hop Winner

The lucky winner of the Literary Blog Hop is
Melissa @ Must Read Faster
who won a copy of Chess (Stefan Zweig)!

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

June 26, 2013

Beyond the Shelf

Welcome to my magic little kingdom which I filled with books!

Moleiro ... ever wanted to own your own, say, papyrus? Look no more, 'cause this website specializes in the reproduction of all kinds of bibliographic treasures. I don't know about you, but one of those facsimile editions would certainly spruce up my library (the one in the old mansion which I don't own yet)! For now the hand-shaped page holders will have to do.

In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends imprisoned by an enchanter in paper and leathern boxes.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

All About Fairies ... takes you straight into the world of fairy tales! Got any question about fantasy creatures such as faeries, fey, goblins, elves, trolls, witches, giants, and talking animals? You've come to the right place then.  Most importantly, the question whether the Tooth Fairy is real (or not) might get answered ... and put even more strain on your budget (just joking).

June 24, 2013

The Curious Reader - What was your worst book-astrophic experience?

Everyone's always talking about their most favorite, heart-warming and joyful bookish memories, but what about those that left us downright sad or cringing? Time to share the pain ...

What was your worst book-astrophic experience?

Many might finish reading a book and feel let down by the last pages or the plot in general, but this is not what I want to talk about today. This one's about your dog eating the new Sophie Kinsella book you just bought, your kids using your precious The Hunger Games boxed set to make papier-maché, or your best friend accidentally setting fire to a bookshelf. If these mental pictures make you shudder, trust me, you're not alone with it. 

Not all of us will have had their share of book related catastrophes in their lives and that is a good thing. Still, I'm fairly certain many have, to a more of less tragic extent, experienced moments that made us break out in tears or go berserk.

Once there was a dry basement. Then it wasn't.

When you live in a house that has never seen water damage or rodent invasions of any kind, you naturally feel ok about storing books even in, say, the basement. And so my tragic story begins. The house in question was built in the 1960s and going decades without anything worse than getting a bit rattled in an earthquake back in, I think it was in 2000 or so, nothing happened which could have potentially caused any damage to the house, its occupants or their belongings.

Then, one fine day in 2007, the rain came. Heavy rain isn't all that unusual here and it had never been a problem either. If there had been mice living in the basement they would have started building an arc that day as something in the sewer system led to a backlog and within a short time the whole basement got flooded. I'm not talking about just water, I'm talking about what you flush away hoping to never see again to suddenly drift by on the lazy river that once was the basement floor. Luckily the water did not rise higher than maybe 4 inches and despite the floors ending up disgustingly dirty, things that had been stored in shelves were fine. 

You think it won't happen again? Trust me, it will.

A week later, the same scenario. This time the water rose over 10 inches and everything on bottom shelves got soaked. In hindsight I guess I should have taken the previous event as a warning. Alas I didn't and once the water from the sewer receded I had to dispose of box after box after box. Old paperbacks, old comic books, old magazines ... I was far from overjoyed, yet I told myself that I only kept them, because I have a hard time parting with stuff in general. And all was well in Birgit-land again. Almost.

One of the last boxes I opened to assess the damage made me cry out in frustration. You see, I didn't exactly remember the exact content and place of certain objects, so imagine my dismay when one of the damaged boxes contained my books and scripts from University. That was the moment I would have cried if I hadn't already been too exhausted from hauling around all those boxes. Long story short, there was no way to salvage any of the books. I had to throw out everything. Memories and money. All gone. In a flush.

RIP Books.

What's the worst book-related catastrophe that you ever encountered? Fire? Rain? Destructive poodle/grandkids/etc?

June 23, 2013

The Reading Files - Are you smart enough to know ...

... that black cats don't mean bad luck? No black cats warned me off this week's first read, but oh well, I should have held on to a rabbit's foot, I suppose.

Evermore (Alyson Noel)

Thoughts. Take one girl that's, shall we say, different. Add a gorgeous immortal love interest. And throw in a lame antagonist. What you get is a shallow and not even remotely relateable romance which left me more than underwhelmed.
Side note: Fear not, 'cause the spin-off Radiance is a lovely book for younger readers!

First words spoken. Guess who?

Verdict. Paranormal fantasy rip-off of Twilight!

Black Cats & Evil Eyes (Chloe Rhodes)

Thoughts. A collection of the most common superstitions and a few that were new to me. All presented in succinct little chapters this proved a light and enjoyable read though I would have appreciated a little bit more background info than provided. Fun page-turner!

Conversation starter. You must continue to walk another nine paces before retying a loose shoelace. Unless you stumble first, then you missed the nine, and apparently deserved your bad-luck-fall.

Verdict. A breezy read on superstitions!

You Are Not So Smart (David RcRaney)

Thoughts. You're not. Smart, that is. At least not as much as you think, my humble irrational fellow human. Dipping into the often strange workings of our mind this turned out to be a wildly entertaining read and educational to boot. Suffice to say, I'm a tad smarter now.

Lesson learned. Drawing a circle around a series of random events and then deciding that there is meaning in the chaos that isn't really there is called the Texas sharpshooter fallacy.

Verdict. Fascinating trip through the psychology behind not being so smart!

June 22, 2013

The Literary Blog Hop

Welcome to the
The Literary Blog Hop
(June 22nd - June 26th)
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.

I'm giving away a book which I first read as a teenager and which has left a lasting impression on me ever since, Chess by Stefan Zweig (in case the winner should prefer the original German version that'd be ok too).
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!

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.

A winner will be picked through random.org on June 27th 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!
Linky List:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Ciska's Book Chest
  3. The Book Garden
  4. Sam Still Reading
  5. Ephemeral Digest
  6. Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
  7. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  8. The Things You Can Read (US)
  9. Seaside Book Nook
  10. The Relentless Reader (US)
  11. Under a Gray Sky Blog
  12. Exurbanis
  13. Candle Beam Book Blog
  14. Booklover Book Reviews
  15. Books in the Burbs (US)
  16. Babyboomerwrites
  17. River City Reading (US)
  18. Lakeside Musing (N. America)
  19. Read Lately (US)
  20. The Book Diva's Reads
  21. A Place That Does Not Exist
  22. Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book (US)
  23. A corner of the library
  24. Roof Beam Reader
  25. The Misfortune of Knowing
  26. Girl Vs Bookshelf

  1. heavenali
  2. Love at First Book
  3. The Little Reader Library
  4. The Siren's Tale
  5. Musings and Ramblings
  6. The Readers Realm (US)
  7. Lost Generation Reader
  8. Readerbuzz
  9. Literary Meanderings
  10. Book Clutter
  11. Bay State Reader's Advisory
  12. Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
  13. Nose in a book
  14. Audios & More
  15. Laurie Here
  16. Mythical Books
  17. Books in the City

June 21, 2013

Non-Fiction Discoveries

All right, so you're not a believer. Not everyone can be a Mulder when you can be a Scully ...

If that cover doesn't creep you out, the stories about the Yeti and other elusive creatures might just do the trick. And if you don't believe in that kind of thing, why not read it just to train your laugh-muscles?

Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids (Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero)
Publ. August 6th 2013 - HC
Columbia University Press

UFOs have landed on Earth, yet we never landed on the Moon? If I had to pick one to be true, I'd settle for the UFOs ... just joking! Just remember, only because you think you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

The Ultimate Guide to Conspiracies: The Facts - The Theories - The Evidence (Andy Thomas)
Publ. April 11th 2013 - PBK
Watkins Publishing

So you like to get your paranormal read on? This one isn't of the fictitious variety, but explores haunted places that aren't exactly places you'd want to hang around in with or without ghostly company.

Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums (Jamie Davis)
Publ. September 8th 2013 - PBK
Llewellyn Worldwide

June 19, 2013

Beyond the Shelf

Let's get those brains working. Let's get those creative juices flowing.

Brain Pickings ... understanding creativity as a combinatorial force this site satisfies the curious minds among us. Ideas, insights, knowledge, inspiration, you name it. It goes without saying that I have a soft spot for the Literary Jukebox among the many other discoveries I made in this treasure chest of, well, creativity! And then, of course, Book Pickings, the wall that makes my wishlist groan!

I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.
Henry David Thoreau

Creative Writing Now ... ever felt the need for encouragement, maybe a bit of education, and most of all inspiration, while sitting at your desk, staring at the empty page on your computer screen? Founded by writing teachers to be a supportive and friendly online space for authors and poets at all stages in their writing lives, this might be just the place for you then. From free online writing classes to teaching  resources, you're sure to end up typing.

June 17, 2013

The Curious Reader - Have you got what it takes to be a cozy mystery heroine?

In case you don't know it by know (as you well should) I have a tremendously soft (and deadly) spot for cozy mysteries. Next on my list? Becoming a cozy mystery heroine myself ...

Have you got what it takes to be a cozy mystery heroine?

All right, I am well aware that not everyone will want to spend their days stumbling over dead bodies and then snooping around to find out who's responsible for this nuisance that pretty much ruined your day (and the one of the corpse too, come to think of it). Still, let's just assume that you kinda like the genre and would be inclined to go Miss Marple if need be. Not sure if the following traits will help solving murders in real life, but as to fictional murders there seem to be some eerily prevalent characteristics for every cozy mystery heroine.

1. You are single. Now that doesn't mean you are some old spinster (though that might happen too occasionally), but our cozy mystery gals usually start out single, because their marriage failed or their husbands died (not at the hands of the heroine, mind you). The good news is that over time and at least by book five in the series, she will have shacked up with her new love interest and put an end to the single life after all.

2. Your love interest is that buff handsome detective. Apparently there is something about those law enforcement officers who are not just easy on the eye, but even more so, extremely helpful in times of crime-solving distress. Then again, maybe it's just that cozy mystery heroines have a not so secret uniform fetish.

3. You are short. Admit it, that one surprised you. It's true, as much as out fictional snoops can come in all shapes and sizes, a surprising high number seems to be of the short kind. Maybe I'm the only one who even noticed this, but every time I read that the heroine barely measures 5' I wonder if this is because the author thinks it's somehow easier to nose around when you're tiny.

4. You're no spring chicken. I'm not saying you need to be some old granny to apply for the job as cozy mystery heroine, but usually the age group is in the 30+ range. My guess is that the whole been there 'nd done that which comes with real life experience, gives our girls just the right amount of verve for putting two and two together.

5. You have a pet. This one is pretty much mandatory. And you won't just have any pet, but one with a wacky name and an even wackier attitude.

6. You have an attitude. Just like your pet. But seriously, most cozy mystery ladies are, shall I say, a little rough around the edges? Or let me rephrase that by claiming they have this propensity to not just be unduly curious and obsessed about finding a murderer, they usually have trouble actually listening to common sense and are often prone to lying too.

7. You have your own shop/business. Contrary to what sleuths like Miss Marple might suggest, only few cozy mystery women are retired. In fact, they usually work hard for their money and most of them have their own little shops or cooked up some one-woman business venture. I guess, the average typist or cashier isn't cut out to solve crimes.

8. You are addicted to tea/coffee/chocolate/etc. Of course you might argue who isn't hooked on any (or all) of these things in real life. Good point, yet the average person usually does not enjoy a, say, glass of red whine as reverently as our fictional heroine. In a cozy mystery world tea/coffee/chocolate/etc. is treated with a borderline-religious worship and adoration.

Would you make a great cozy mystery heroine? Any character traits or personal circumstances you'd like to add to my list?

June 16, 2013

The Reading Files - I deserve a medal for that!

It's done. Finally. After almost getting knocked out by the tome from hell on the final night of reading the last few pages (think tome goes tomb) I am happy to announce that I am through with my 1.200+ pages brick. Form here on out only light reads shall pass my way, for the time being at least. I mean, it's not as though that would have been the last heavy book on my TBR piles *sigh*.

Limit (Frank Schätzing) German Ed.

Thoughts. A tech-thriller set in the near future with a multitudinous cast, minutely detailed descriptions, stilted narrative, hopelessly drawn out (400 pages would have fit the plot quite nicely) and, oddly enough, considering the word count, too little depth. Add a not all that surprising story line and ending which makes you wonder why I even bothered to finish the book.

Verdict. An all around disappointing novel about the future of energy!

The Facebook Diet (Gemini Adams)

Thoughts. Being on Facebook myself, quite a lot (though not as much as I used to) I was already familiar with many of the "signs" in this illustrated book. The cartoons lack charm, yet fit the theme well enough. Might make for a neat gift idea though!

Random sign of FB addiction. You've already created a page for your unborn child.

Verdict. Fun yet not overly surprising cartoons about being on FB (too much)!

Siren (Tricia Rayburn)

Thoughts. Her sister jumps to death and dead men start washing up on the shore, all smiling. A bit of sleuthing, a bit of romantic feelings, a bit of dipping into mythology, all wrapped up into a lukewarm story which had so much potential but drowned with its stale characters and uneventful plot.

Last words spoken. It helps me breath.

Verdict. A rather bland romance that takes on the siren myth!

June 14, 2013

Non-Fiction Discoveries

I confess, I love going to Disney World. Obviously there's more to Florida than happy rodents though  ...

Long before those magical places of mouse-eared proportions were built, a whole lot of tectonic activity went into forming the shape of Florida. Shockingly enough the shape does not resemble a mouse!

Geologic History of Florida: Major Events That Formed the Sunshine State (Albert C. Hine)
Publ. June 11th 2013 - HC
University Press of Florida

Most people think about the Disney World when you mention Florida's big theme parks, yet there are so many more fun amusement parks to visit. Side note: Universal Studios are way better than Hollywood Studios!

Florida Theme Parks: A Guide (Alex Miller)
Publ. May 28th 2013 - PBK
Schiffer Publishing

As though the geologic angle would be all there is to it. I might not be too big on Earth sciences, yet learning more about the history of the happiest, err, oddest shaped place in the US is right up my Monorail!

Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State (T.D. Allman)
Publ. March 5th - HC
Atlantic Monthly Press

June 12, 2013

Beyond the Shelf

Why not get all playful this week? Just remember - it's not about winning (unless you make first place, of course).

Gone Reading ... why not shop for some brilliant products for the reading lifestyle while at the same time spreading the magic of reading through funding of libraries and reading-related charities? Sounds like an awesome plan to me. Now if only they delivered to mainland Europe too, especially seeing how It Was A Dark & Stormy Night: A Game About Books! just made it on my wishlist!

Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.
Winston Churchill

Gambler's Book Club ... been bit by the gambling fever as much as by the reading bug? Welcome to the world's largest store which caters to both afflictions. Now, I'm not encouraging anyone to spend their lives's savings on a particular horse, but hey, if you have a thing for Poker but are short on cash, they also offer a fiction section. Why play when one can read, right?

June 10, 2013

The Curious Reader - Are you on a book budget?

Books will cost a lot of money (unless you happen to have a topnotch library in town which I don't) which raises the question how to feed your family while at the same time indulging in some bookish splurges ...

Are you on a book budget?

We've all been down the road of indulging a little bit too much in our bookish passion, thus making our bank account grown. Been there, bought that. Interestingly enough I never looked at book buying from the angle of actual money, but quantity of purchased books. Granted, I will usually gravitate towards paperback editions and in the past couple years I bought many books used, hence a whole lot cheaper, but overall my book buying habit is moored to the number of books I allow myself to buy and not an actual amount of money.

Scrooge, much?

Late last year, when I decided to reduce my book shopping sprees (mostly because I finally want to get those TBR piles under control), I was torn between doing sort of a semi-ban or the option of only having a certain budget available. Somehow the former won which I'd like to base on the fact that it's easier manageable to have a certain number of books I may buy each month than, say, having $20 which I may invest in as many, or few, books I want.

Still, despite not going the money-route, which in hindsight was a good decision as the combination of $20 and all those Kindle bargains would have done more damage than only being allowed to buy six books each month, I do wonder if this is something other bookaholics have tried out?

No one ever died of living on cooked potatoes for a full week. 

The hitch with going by a budget is that you have to make harder decisions when standing in front of those vast bookstore shelves. Brand new hardcover edition of one of your must-read authors? There goes Friday night's cinema trip. Your favorite trilogy in a leather-bound collector's edition? You'll walk to work the rest of the month because you won't be able to afford the fuel for your car. All right, I might be exaggerating, but only a little bit.

Maybe I should consider myself lucky, but I am the kinda gal who will appreciate a book that looks nice, but ultimately I'm all about what's inside and if this means reading a tattered old copy of a certain book, so be it. Cheaper often wins. That's probably the main reason why a book budget would hardly work for me. I could buy ten books while another person only gets one (yep, still thinking about the previously mentioned $20). Of course I'm nowhere near adding ten books to my TBR piles each month as, after a little bit of a debate with myself, decided that six was a good number for me personally. So far? So very good. I never bought more than my allotted six pieces and I even went some months without buying any book.

Six is my magic number. Books, not bucks.

How big is your budget for buying books? Or do you rather orient yourself on a certain number of books to buy each month? Anyone willing to share an estimate of money spent on books each year?

June 9, 2013

The Reading Files - And yet more chick-lit to keep me afloat!

Still chewing and digesting my big heavy tome, so I threw in another chick-lit novel to lighten up a bit. Funny how I haven't read anything in this genre for so long, but now I obviously get my groove back.

Leave It to Cleavage (Wendy Wax)

Thoughts. Bad enough that he looks better in her underwear than she does, Mirandas husband leaves her high and dry. Small town setting and likable characters make this an amusing and light read with just a touch of cozy mystery towards the end.

First sentence. Miranda Smith was looking for a stamp when she discovered just how good her husband looked in ladies' lingerie.

Verdict. A fluffy fun chick-lit novel with a bit of a stupid title!

June 8, 2013

2 by 2 Giveaway Winner

The lucky winner of the June 2 by 2 Giveaway is
Debbie @ Exurbanis
who picked The Worst Case Scenario Handbook: Life!

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

June 7, 2013

Non-Fiction Discoveries

Instantly recognizable by their bobbed hair and dresses that only work for girls with small hips, I introduce you to the Flapper Girls ...

Ever wondered what life was like for women (almost) a hundred years ago? Flouting social and sexual norms, plus listening to jazz about sums it up.

Up in Lights: The Memoirs of a 1920s Chorus Girl (Marjorie Graham)
Publ. May 23rd 2013 - PBK

And more from the rebellious girls who put the roar into the 20s! The world they lived in, the history that shaped them, wrapped into a multi-biography I'm looking forward to read!

Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation (Judith Mackrell)
Publ. May 23rd 2013 - HC

On a whole different note ... well, not totally completely different, come to think of it - if you like the Flapper theme you should definitely check out the Flapperdoodle shop on Etsy which offers the cutest illustrations!

June 5, 2013

2 by 2 Giveaway

Welcome to the June edition 
of the 2 by 2 Giveaway!

I will survive. How 'bout you?

The Best Case Scenario Handbook (John Tierney)
The Worst Case Scenario Handbook: Life (Joshua Piven)

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.

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.

One winner will be picked through random.org on June 8th 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.

Beyond the Shelf

This week's edition is of the funny kind! Cheek muscles set, ready, and go!

Bo's Cafe Life ... experience the writing life through the eyes of Bo, an aspiring novelist, who hangs out at the coffee-shop way too much. Between wrestling my muse and cleaning my keyboard with a little brush, these cartoons are the highlight of my day.

Laughter is wine for the soul - laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness - the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living.
Seán O'Casey

Think Geek ... sells stuff for the smart masses  or in other words for those awesomely geeky folks like you and me. Think Star Trek, think Zombies, think Doctor Who, think Mad Scientist. And when you're done thinking, why not check out the Bulletproof Body Armor Clipboard which might come in handy during your days at the office.

June 3, 2013

The Curious Reader - What's your favorite Grimm's fairy tale?

Once upon a time, when we were just wee little kids, a house made of gingerbread sounded both yummy and scary ...

What's your favorite Grimm's fairy tale?

I have always had a soft spot for fairy tales, especially those by the Brother's Grimm. We used to own an old edition of the book that my Mom read when she was still little and which got later passed on to me. A book well loved for sure.

Back when I was still a child I already had my favorite tale among them all, and maybe that's  a bit of a stereotype, but that happened to be Cinderella. Actually I blame that fact on a collection of illustrated fairy tale books I owned which featured the princesses in the prettiest dresses, and well, Cinderella had the most gorgeous gown.

A long time ago there were a King and Queen who said every day, "Ah, if only we had a child!" but they never had one.

Being generally very fond of the fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, I do have a couple of favorites among them. While it is quite hard to narrow it down to just one, I will try my very best *scampers off in silent contempation and returning after a hundred years, errr, days, errr, minutes*. Let's start by saying that today my taste has shifted from ashes to ... well, maybe I should blame the fact that I like taking a nap, because my favorite tale is Sleeping Beauty. You know the one where twelve good fairies bring gifts such as beauty, virtue and riches, which all ends kinda ugly when the thirteenth uninvited fairy shows up and curses the princess so she'd prick her finger and die on her 15th birthday.

Any volunteers on guessing the underlying theme? Not as evident from a child's perspective, this tale is about, wait for it, sexuality. Think about it - the thirteen fairies as representatives of the 13 lunar months the year had in olden times. So not all that surprisingly you can see the curse of the thirteenth fairy as "the curse" of menstruation. Obviously nothing prevents puberty and even though the king tried to protect his daughter from the curse, the princess inevitably pricks her finger and she bleeds as every girl her age must.

It's not about sleeping. It's about waking up.

Sexual awakening and menstrual seclusion. Eventually the long sleep ends and the hedge parts, though we're not talking about actual hedges if you know what I mean. Bet this topic didn't come up when your granny read the tale to you. 

You probably wonder why I like this particular tale so much. Apart from it being a lovely bedtime story all by itself - even if you look at it solely from the angle of growing up and waiting for Mr. Right to appear - I appreciate the symbolism within.

Afterthought: Much like in many of the earliest version of children's folk tales, Sleeping Beauty is actually a shockingly violent narrative. The oldest version describes the prince not as kissing the princess awake, but instead as having raped her slumbering body! 

And they slept happily ever after.

Did you enjoy fairy tales as a child as much as I did? What is your favorite fairy tale by the Brother's Grimm? Are you aware of the meaning behind your favorite fairy tale?

June 2, 2013

TEA & BOOKS Reading Challenge

I really don't mean to keep you from reading your tomes, but I'm sure you've got a minute to share what you've been up to reading-challenge-wise this past month.

As for myself, I got started on one giant book, the kind that, thrown at the right angle, can kill a man. Not as though I put this theory to the test. If I had, I wouldn't be posting this, but sitting in some jail cell right now. I did however manage to hurt my wrist with that big tome *sigh*. Not by hurling it, mind you, but by holding it while reading, how lame is that. Anyway, the culprit is Limit by Frank Schätzing, which is not only heavy (we're talking 2.5 pounds), it's also long (1.200+ pages) and filled with far too many words. Stop laughing, I'm serious.

The plan is to finish this tome this month, probably in the next two weeks. As it's too much to handle in one go, I am squeezing in a few light reads to keep my inner bookworm from going crazy and my arms from going numb (remember how heavy that thing is, folks). That'll put me on my chosen level by the end of June and maybe, just very maybe, I am going to upgrade to the next level then. I mean, there are still plenty of fat books lying in wait here.

In case you feel the sudden urge to join, you may still sign up for the challenge and get acquainted with the general rules over HEREIn case you already read a tome that qualifies for this challenge during the first part of 2013, that book will of course count towards your chosen level.

Updates for the challenge will be posted regularly on Sundays near the end/beginning of a month and the next date will be June 30th.

Which tome are you currently reading? Or maybe you're in-between heavy chunksters right now? Ever hurt yourself lifting a heavy tome? Please share!

THIS ISN'T FICTION Reading Challenge

Welcome to another update (make that a quick one at that) for this reading challenge!

As I already promised last time, I did not read any non fiction books this month. The reason? Actually there are two reasons - I already read a total of eighteen books for this challenge and I got started on one giant tome of a book for my Tea & Books Reading Challenge.

My plans for this month will take me back to more non fiction though. After all, wouldn't it be nice if I managed to reach my chosen level by the end of June. I could even make this a double-challenge and read twenty more by the end of December. What can I say? This gal loves her non fiction fare!

Just in case you recently discovered your passion for non fiction, feel free to sign up for the challenge and get acquainted with the general rules over HEREIn case you already read books that qualify for this challenge during the first part of 2013, those books will of course count towards your chosen level.

Updates for the challenge will be posted regularly on Sundays near the end/beginning of a month and the next date will be June 30th.

What have you read for this challenge in May? How many more books do you need to read for your level? Maybe you're already considering to upgrade to the next one? Comment away!

The Postman Files - May Haul

It's been a while since I went crazy on AwesomeBooks, but seeing how my cozy mystery stacks are slowly shrinking it was high time to add some new ones. Or should I say, used ones? Frugal reader is all I'm saying.

The Facebook Diet (Gemini Adams)

Roast Mortem (Cleo Coyle)
Button Holed (Kylie Logan)
Death Loves a Messy Desk (Mary Jane Maffini)
The Busy Woman's Guide to Murder (Mary Jane Maffini)

The Reading Files - Bring on the chick-lit!

Still chewing on my chunkster for the Tea & Books Reading Challenge, yet I felt the understandable need to take a break and squeeze in some light chick-lit novel too.

Stupid Cupid (Arabella Weir)

Thoughts. So Hat gets dumped six weeks before her wedding, but that's no reason for calling the whole thing off, or is it? Madness ensues in this comedic romp, which was utterly foreseeable and slightly over the top, but quite ok if you're looking for a fluffy light read.

First line. Hat was reeling, literally reeling.

Verdict. Borderline funny tribute to "the dumped"!