March 31, 2013

TEA & BOOKS Reading Challenge


Welcome to another update in the challenge of heavy tomes and heavy mugs! Seeing how spring hasn't exactly arrived where I live, the tea in that mug is still of the hot variety. Maybe next time I have already resorted to iced tea, but for now it's still let's-read-next-to-the-fire-place weather which obviously goes hand in hand with hot beverage choices.

This month I focused on my other reading challenge, the one with all that isn't fiction, so I did not get any reading done for this one. To be perfectly honest, I don't really know which tome to pick up next. Not as though I'd be running out of heavy books, not to worry. As I'm currently suffering through a bit of a reading slump, and haven't touched a book in two weeks *gasp* I will take the whole reading thing day by day. If I should end up feeling like picking up one of the bigger books in April, that's good, but don't count on it.

On a more positive note - I have already reached the first level in this challenge with It (Stephen King) which I finished in February. I milked the 1.200+ pages rule (those will count as two books) for all it's worth with that tome, that's for sure.

This brings me to needing to read two more tomes (or one super-tome) to reach my chosen level. Nine months to go, how hard can that be? No need to answer that.

Even though we're well into the year you may still sign up for the challenge and get acquainted with the general rules over HERE. In case you already read a tome that qualifies for this challenge during the first three month 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 dates will thus be April 28th, June 2nd, and June 30th.

Have you been reading a tome this month or did you take a break like I did? And as always,. what kind of tea (or other hot beverage) did you enjoy with it? Comment away.

THIS ISN'T FICTION Reading Challenge


It's time for our monthly update post to this challenge! Already? Why yes! I certainly hope this didn't throw anyone into a state of panic, unless of course you haven't even got started on your first book *shame on you* because then you really should jump head first (maybe make that eyes first) into your non-fictiony book stack section.

Before I get started a few words to all the challenge newbies. There is still a small but steady trickle of new faces *yay* and admittedly I'm a bit behind with visiting everyone's blogs and/or sign-up posts, so I'm taking this opportunity today to welcome you all on board!

Now, what about my progress so far? I've been a very good reader again this month. I managed to read eight books for the challenge, bringing my current total to fourteen. That means only six more to go and I'll have made it to the highest level. Very proud of self.

So, which books did I read this month? For the records, I decided to skip those lined up for review, and finally got started on my own non fiction reads which have sadly been gathering dust over the months (and years). Somehow it seemed easier to just read them now instead of cleaning them, you know.

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)

In case you think I counted wrong, yes, those are eight books, because the last Erma Bombeck is an Omnibus Edition including At Wit's End, Just Wait Until You Have Children of Your Own and I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression. Come to think of it, I've been on quite a roll with America's favorite humorist, haven't I?

As to my plans for next month I plan to read some of my books for review which, as it turns out, have equally been gathering dust. Maybe I need a maid. Or I could move to a place with less dust pollution.

By the way, you may still sign up for the challenge and get acquainted with the general rules over HERE.

Updates for the challenge will be posted regularly on Sundays near the end/beginning of a month and the next dates will thus be April 28th, June 2nd, and June 30th.

Obviously I'm going to assume that everyone's well on their way in this challenge. So tell me, which non fiction books have you read last month? In case there are any other lover's of Erma's work out there, I'd love hearing from you. And now, comment away!

The Postman Files - February & March Haul

Honestly, when I decided to only do monthly updates on my bookish loot I hadn't anticipated they would end up being so smallish. To add insult to injury, this is a bi-monthly update. Two months of not receiving all that much. Even worse, I didn't even buy any books *gasp*. Praise be to the occasional win and review copy!

Won
Location Book (Martina Schettina)

For Review
Holy Sh*t (Melissa Mohr)
From NetGalley

The Reading Files - The one where I read the back of a Mac & Cheese package ...

After the previous weeks' reading fast I figured why not make it a two-week vacation? Instead of sticking my nose into books I indulged in some sitcom marathons. That gave both my higher brain functions and my upper arm muscles some time to relax. Of course, I am now already longing for some reading material, so apparently my reading hiatus is as good as over.

As to my regular hiatus I have now decided to be back to business almost as usual by early May. I have thought long and hard about whether to simply resume blogging the way I did before or implement some changes. Long story short, I want to slowly ease back into blogging, but it won't be the daily kind as before. Instead I'll be blogging three times a week which seems like just the right amount of blog posts for the time being. Less pressure than before, but still fun.

See ya soon!

The Non-Fiction Giveaway Blog Hop

You all know how much I love anything that isn't fiction, so obviously I was thrilled when Rikki from Rikki's Teleidoscope came up with the idea of a giveaway hop dedicated to all that is non fiction.
After a brief discussion about how to go on about it we decided to start by getting the word out (today, obviously) and hoping for fellow non-fiction enthusiastic bloggers to join us. No matter if you simply want to share the non-fiction love or just want to get rid of some unwanted non-fiction books on your shelves (shame on you, but you shall be forgiven if you join us) let's make this the first of many fun hops!

For more information and to sign up for the giveaway hop, please head over to Rikki's respective blog post!

March 29, 2013

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop (US only)

Welcome to the
Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop
(March 29th - April 5th)

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!


Some of you might remember my Bookish Etsy series last summer. Karen from Novel Creations was one of the lovely ladies I featured during this event - go here to check out that fabulous blog post - and she's now been kind enough to team up with me to fill someone's Easter Basket with a bookish purse of your choice! How awesome is that? A round of applause for our generous sponsor, please!

All you have to do is visit Karen's shop 
and then 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 to US only!

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on April 6th 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.

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

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

March 24, 2013

The Reading Files - Why not go all the way?

When I started my blogging hiatus I was still going strong with diminishing my book stacks, but then I caught myself standing in front of them and couldn't make up my mind about what to read. Granted, that happens to the best of us, but in my case I realized that I simply didn't feel in the mood to read at all. Apparently I needed a bit of a reading break also.

Alas nothing to tell about my adventures in turning pages today. And you know what? I kinda like this absence from the bookish background noise that usually surrounds me. It's a bit like a self-imposed diet and we all know how this is going to end ... I'll be scarfing down chocolate, errr, books again in no time. As for now I'm just going to enjoy my little break from reading.

My blogging hiatus? Suffice to say, it is being thoroughly enjoyed by yours truly!

Any other news? Now that you mention it ... I'll be participating in the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop (March 29th - April 5th) and admittedly this time the giveaway will be US only, but it will at the same time be legen ... wait for it ... dary! And that is not a Bazinga!

Got you curious? Good.

Now I'm not cruel, so here's a not-so-small hint ...

The prize is being sponsored by lovely Karen from Novel Creations, a shop I presented in last year's Bookish Etsy feature. Did I just hear squeals of excitement? Can't say I blame you.

By the way, if you think you're never gonna win anyway yet you really really want to own your own bookish purse, Karen is now offering 15%-OFF your next purchase in her shop - just use the coupon code GARDEN. This code is valid until further notice!

March 23, 2013

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop Winner

The lucky winner of the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop is
Vera D
who will receive a $15,00 Amazon GC!

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

March 17, 2013

The Reading Files - This doesn't look like fiction!

Why not kill two birds with a stone? In other words, keep up with reading non-fiction while at the same time finally touching some of those German books that have been gathering dust? All rounded off by some more Erma Bombeck ...

The Art of Travel (Alain de Botton) German Ed.

Thoughts. Contrary to his wonderful Heathrow adventure this book is about experiencing going abroad through the eyes of poets or painters and the likes. Interesting approach yet my inner traveler ended up rather bored courtesy to the author droning on endlessly and never actually "arriving" anywhere.

Verdict. Disappointing exploration of how to travel "artfully"!

Surviving the Angel of Death (Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri) German Ed.

Thoughts. An amazing story about two twin girls surviving the experiments of Dr. Mengele all packed into a touching memoir. Despite the young target audience the book felt too much moderated in content thus lacking more depth. And sadly the writing itself was rather poor as well.

Verdict. A Holocaust survivors story suitable for young readers!

The Best of Bombeck (Erma Bombeck)

Thoughts. After last week's Best-Of by her, I couldn't resist revisiting some of Erma's older works. Maybe a bit dated, mostly set in the 60s and 70s, but still her candid depiction of the American household and family life hasn't lost any of its appeal and is both inspiring and laugh out loud funny.

Random quote. A little nagging is a healthy thing in a marriage. The way I figure it, you can either nag your way through fifty or sixty years or wear a gun to your wedding.
(p. 86)

Verdict. America's (and my) favorite humorist for a reason!

March 15, 2013

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the
Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop
(March 15th - March 22nd)

What is a giveaway hop? That's simple. Each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another. For followers this means lots of chances to win free books and other goodies. For blogs hosting a giveaway it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win!


I'm giving away an Amazon Giftcard worth $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 March 23rd and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

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

March 10, 2013

The Reading Files - So good you won't believe it's non fiction!

Yeah, I know, they said the same thing about this stuff that supposedly tastes like butter, but ...

Forever, Erma (Erma Bombeck)

Thoughts. I read my first Erma Bombeck book at the age of twelve. I admit, maybe I was a weird child. This tribute to her work, gifted to me by a dear friend, showcases her witty, smart and wonderfully fresh writing style which first impressed me so long ago. Erma rocks!

Random quote. How to undecorate the tree is my business. I take the end of a rope of gold tinsel and give it a jerk. The tree spins around, and I clean the whole thing off in eight seconds. I eat the candy canes as I go along.
(p. 199)

Verdict. A worthy tribute to one of the world's best known humorist!

A Big Little Life (Dean Koontz)

Thoughts. Known for introducing gods, preferably Golden Retrievers, in many a novel, Dean Koontz wrote this memoir about his beloved dog Trixie who made a lasting impact on both his life and his writing. Often over-glorifying the canine company this was a fun and light read.

Random quote. Some will say, "She was only a dog."
Yes, she was a dog, but not only a dog. I am a man, but not only a man. Sentiment is not sentimentality, common sense is not common ignorance, and intuition is not superstition.
(p. 263)

Verdict. The touching memoir about a dog in a writer's life!

The Book Lovers' Companion (Lionel Shriver)

Thoughts. Apparently a book that's suitable for a book club needs to be seriously depressing or, like some would phrase it, "deep". Still, there were a few interesting suggestions and I loved the dystopian classics mentioned. Not sure how The Passage by Justin Cronin sneaked in though.

Random quote. It's fair to say that I have a book habit. I once rented a wholly unsuitable flat having been seduced by shelves that ran the length of the bedroom.
(p. 9)

Verdict. Semi-inspirational guide for book club readers!

March 7, 2013

2 by 2 Giveaway Winner

The lucky winner of the March 2 by 2 Giveaway is
who picked The Blue Day Book!

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

March 4, 2013

2 by 2 Giveaway


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

Sometimes you just need a little cheering up!

The Blue Day Book (Bradley Trevor Greive)
The Meaning of Life (Bradley Trevor Greive)

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

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

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on March 7th 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.

March 3, 2013

TEA & BOOKS Reading Challenge


Tea mug at the ready. Tome in your lap. That's what I want to hear from everyone today! But first, welcome to yet another update of the dreaded challenge that involves hauling heavy books and guzzling copious amounts of a certain hot beverage.

Dreaded? You read that right. I endured a lengthy trip through the wordily world of Mr Stephen King. It  involved a clown. I hate clowns. So, maybe me and Stephen haven't been off to a good start in the first place, but then again it's one of my closest friends' favorite books and it's got almost 1.400 pages which kills two birds with one stone (translation: books of more than 1.200 pages qualify for two books). Come to think of it, I'm not too fond of birds either. But I digress.

The good news is that apart from the struggle, I managed to finish It (Stephen King) this week. While I usually only ever read a book at a time I made an exception for this one, and to be honest, this was a life-saving decision, because the book awfully dragged. So a few other books thrown in were the kind of distraction I very much appreciated.

The book itself. Well, I only ever finished it for the sake of this challenge, sad as this might be. Normally I love detailed descriptions that pull you right in, but this was way too much for my taste. Besides, there is amazingly little happening for a book this size, the horror is anything but horrific, and the only thing I did like was the friendship between the kids. Then came the damper of what I can only describe as highly inappropriate scene in the sewers *spoiler: a 11 years old girl persuading the boys in their circle of friends to have sex as some kind of bonding ritual, and yes, they go at it one after the other* which is apparently trying to convey the passage of childhood to adulthood, but certainly rubbed me the wrong way. Suffice to say - this book was not for me!

Next book? So far I'm not sure which tome to pick up next. After all this one put me right on the first level of the challenge and I only signed up for the second level with four books this year. In my defense, I figured I'd start lower as I can still upgrade somewhere along the way.

You probably know what this means. Once I upgrade I'm going to nag so everyone else does the same, hahaha!

Finally another reminder that you may still sign up for the challenge and get acquainted with the general rules over HERE.

Updates for the challenge will be posted regularly on Sundays near the end/beginning of a month and the next dates will thus be March 31st, April 28th, June 2nd, and June 30th.

What tomes have you been reading? Which tea have you been drinking? Please share.

THIS ISN'T FICTION Reading Challenge


Welcome to the monthly update post to this challenge! I hope you've had some non-fictiony good reading days, or shall I say weeks? After all, we're two months into the year, so it's high time to pick some books that aren't fiction.

That said, I did not read anything for this challenge *cough* but on the bright(er) side I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that I've already passed the first level in January by reading a whopping six books - in case you're curious, I listed them here. Of course there will be a couple more books which I'll be reading to reach my chosen level, but being off to such a good start how hard can it be to read another 14 books? Did I just hear somebody groan? I'll pretend I didn't hear that.

I hope that no one gets the funny idea that my admission of taking a bit of a non-fiction break in February might allow anyone else to laze about this month. Nope, not a chance. I plan to get my non-fiction read on again in March! And so should you.

Next books I plan to read? There are a couple newly approved books from NetGalley and being the non-fiction addict I am there are several other books emphasizing the non in fiction hidden in my TBR stacks too. I think I might throw in something lighthearted like Forever, Erma by Erma Bombeck and A Big Little Life, the canine memoirs of Dean Koontz's retriever Trixie.

Once again a wee reminder that you may still sign up for the challenge and get acquainted with the general rules over HERE.

Updates for the challenge will be posted regularly on Sundays near the end/beginning of a month and the next dates will thus be March 31st, April 28th, June 2nd, and June 30th.

Have you started on reading for this challenge yet? If so, which books have you read so far? If not *shame on you* which books are you planning to read? Please share.

The Reading Files - 1.376

Finally. Is all I'm saying.

It (Stephen King)

Thoughts. A murderous clown. A band of friends. A promise. Sounded great yet thoroughly disappointed. I usually love descriptive narratives, but this one is verbose to a fault. So many words, so little happening. Dragging dragging dragging. And the end just plain sucks.

First line. The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years - if it ever did end - began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.

Verdict. Overrated so-called masterpiece!

Zombie Blondes (Brian James)

Thoughts. All those cheerleaders are nothing but pretty zombies, who knew? Could have been a light YA read, but had less substance than candyfloss. In fact reading felt as if the sugar had reached that sensitive molar in the back. Braved four chapters before giving up.

First words spokenYou're gonna like this place ... you really are.

Verdict. One-dimensional teen-zombie flick!

Evernight (Claudia Grey)

Thoughts. Not easy fitting in at the new school. Even worse when you're a vampire which, as I'd like to point out, readers only find out half way through the book. Take the usual vampire-story cliches, topped by a stuck-in-the-past vibe, and you've got a light and undemanding read.

Last lines. I folded the card against my chest. I'd burn it in a few minutes - but not yet, not just yet. 

Verdict. Brain candy with fangs!

March 1, 2013

This isn't Fiction - How-To Guides, Hawking, and Heaven

If you don't know how-to do something, you better know how-to look it up. Yes, it's time to talk a bit about HOW-TO guides. You know the ones that can sometimes be more complicated in reading than trying yourself on, say, sewing on a button without any guidelines.

A how-to is an informal, often short, description of how to accomplish some specific task. A how-to is usually meant to help non-experts, may leave out details that are only important to experts, and may also be greatly simplified from an overall discussion of the topic. One of the earliest how-to books was published in 1569 by Thomas Wight and entitled, A booke of the arte and maner, how to plant and graffe all sortes of trees: With divers other new practise, by one of the Abbey of Saint Vincent in Fraunce by Leonard Mascall.
Wiki

Generally speaking, anything from the manual you received when you bought your new toaster to the book with tutorials on crocheting, is a how-to book. Of course cookbooks are also a huge group within the how-to "genre" come to think of it. Apart from those more obvious books, there are also quite a few which qualify as, well, strange, but see for yourself.

Not to say that How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art (Kathleen Meyer) might not come in handy one day, but it's most likely not the kind of book, you my fellow bookaholics will feel comfortable reading on the bus on your way to work. So how about something that's more down our alley?

I suggest How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren) which personally I haven't read, but now that I think about it, would very much like to.

Last but not least, here are some websites which might be of interest to everyone who wants to read about how-to do just about anything:
Everything
For Dummies
How To
How To Books
Storey

OOO


Stephen William HAWKING is a British theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. He has achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; his A Brief History of Time stayed on the British Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.
Homepage

Curious? Find out more about his work on Goodreads.

I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.

OOO

Delicious food tastes like Heaven. Stepping on the scale afterwards feels like Hell. But there's always Halloween when you can dress like a giant pumpkin and all is well again.

Heaven Is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy (Stephanie Nielson)

I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell (Tucker Max)

Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween (David J. Skal)

OOO


I'm sure we all know how-to open a book, and we can tell what time it is too ... but where will be end up when time's up? Heaven or Hell?