April 30, 2013

Non-Fiction Giveaway Blog Hop Winner

First of all I have to say I am thrilled about how popular this blog hop turned out to be. When Rikki first approached me with the idea she joked that even if it were only the two of us it'd be fun. In the end we were nine bloggers which, considering the whole non-fiction and relatively on-short-notice thing, is pretty amazing.

Of course, just because you're giving something away doesn't mean people will be head over book spine. So, image my joy of having a total of 46 entrants at my stop of this hop (yay, a rhyme), because, as I cannot stress enough, we're talking non-fiction which, sadly, never gets the attention it deserves in a world that's mostly craving fiction. So yes, this left me pretty excited and looking forward to the second round of this blog hop which, if memory serves me right, Rikki's got planned for October.

Last but not least, it's been interesting to see which of the book choices were your favorites. Needless to say I was delighted when my personal favorite of all four books, namely If Walls Could Talk (Lucy Worsley), was the book of choice for almost 50% of all participants.

And now, finally, time to do some announcing ...

The lucky winner of the Non-Fiction Giveaway Blog Hop is
who picked Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus!

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

April 29, 2013

The Curious Reader - Does taking a hiatus equal blogging-suicide?

I guess you never thought it'd really happen, but yes, I'm back. Not as though I've been really gone. I was here, all right. And if I may say so, that hiatus was as refreshing as an April shower. Maybe that's a bad example, but you get the general idea. Before we get back to business as usual - and I know some might have read about this plan in one of my Sunday reading posts - please don't be surprised about the way I'm now easing back into the world of book blogging. Let's all say goodbye to daily blog posts and welcome the new format I decided on ...

Each week starts with The Curious Reader ... these will be discussion posts - on Mondays; followed by the Beyond the Shelf ... this features various bookish news eg. interesting websites, articles, etc - on Wednesdays; and rounded off by Non-Fiction Discoveries ... where I'll share some non-fiction books that are on my radar - on Fridays. Sunday posts will remain like they were before.

And without further ado, let's get started with this week's big question ...

Does taking a hiatus equal blogging-suicide?

Source
While it's usually newbie bloggers who worry a lot about the fate of their readership during their absence, I have also encountered a select few established bloggers who'd rather not take a break in fear of a decreasing follower count. But is there really a reason to get your panties in a knot? Apparently so.

Recently I read an update of a fellow book blogger, stating she'd go on a three-day-hiatus. While this might be of a semi-vague interest to the most loyal followers I dare say that most folks will not even notice such a short break, unless of course you send out a warning like this one. Add the fact that the blog post had this slightly panicky undertone fueled with fear of what people might think of the blogger daring to take off to enjoy a long weekend.

Many have gone on one and, as far as I know, they all survived. Both bloggers and their blogs.

I say, if you want to go on a hiatus, for whatever reason, then do it. Just think of it as a vacation without any pre-scheduled posts. Let your readers know you'll be gone for, say, three weeks or even three months, and maybe explain why you'll be gone. That way everyone knows what's going on and that you did not just fall off the face of the Earth. Plus, they will be happy to have you back. Except for those who un-followed you in the meantime. Just kidding.

Page views dropping slightly. Follower count strangely increasing.

So, are the fears some bloggers have justified at all? Not really. Of course it depends on what you personally consider a blog-astrophy. The good news is that followers usually won't leave by the truckload. In my case I even added a couple new ones. Blame it on giveaway hops I had already signed up for months ago and which I participated in during my hiatus. The amount of page views dropped about a third which, all things considered, isn't all too bad. Of course, to be fair, I am now referring to a semi-hiatus as I did post on Sundays. Funny detail - when I went on a full-fledged hiatus for a month, early in 2012, page views actually increased. I still haven't got a clue why. Maybe my readers liked the silence, ha.

Consider your hiatus as a vacation. You'll return refreshed and with a tan.

What's your take on a blogging hiatus? Yay or nay?
As a blogger - have you ever been on one or are you hesitant to take a longer break?
As a reader - do you mind when your favorite bloggers take off for a while?

April 28, 2013

TEA & BOOKS Reading Challenge


Why hello May (ok, it's more like the end of April, but anyway)!

No need for me to remind us all, including myself, that we should be well into the challenge by now, right? Focus on your chosen level, then add up the books you've read for it, and unless you can't claim to have read a third of the tomes needed, well ... what are you waiting for?

Myself, I am still sitting quite comfy on the first level, and with two more heavy books (or one super-tome, I really haven't decided just yet) to go for the next level, I can actually relax a wee bit longer. Of course by summer I really want to get started on finishing the rest of the books I need, but until then I am doing my best impression of a lazy bum. I might keep on drinking tea though. Not as though that would count in the challenge, but oh well.

In case you've been wondering - yes, 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 dates will thus be June 2nd, and June 30th.

Have you been just as lazy as yours truly or did you get some heavy tome read this month? Please share!

THIS ISN'T FICTION Reading Challenge


Look at that! April has come and gone (well, almost)!

Needless to say, with four months into the year, you all are hopefully aware how many books you should have read by now! Rule of thumb being that the number of books of chosen level divided by three should amount to what you've already read. If not, go away and read! I mean in!

While I've been a bit of a slacker in my other reading challenge, I did read four books for this one, yay!

Vivid & Continuous (John McNally)
Why We Write (Meredith Maran)
Holy Sh*t (Melissa Mohr)
A Slap in the Face (William B. Irvine)

This brings me to the grand total of eighteen books read *woot* which means that two more to go and I will have reached my chosen level! Of course I'm a bit of a non-fiction fanatic, so let my soaring numbers not discourage you in any way. 

Next month I will stick to reading fiction as my book stacks have more to offer than stuff that isn't fiction. Still, I intend to finish the challenge by the end of June. Not to say I will quit reading non-fiction in the second half of the year, but I already signed up for the highest level, so there is no upgradeability I could make use of.

And of course you may still 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 dates will thus be June 2nd, and June 30th.

How did your month of non-fiction reading go? Please share!

The Postman Files - April Haul

Remember my vow of not buying more than six books each month? I only bought two in January and none the past two month. Obviously this can't go on any longer. I mean is this a book blog or what? And there is such a thing as taking things a little too ... errr, what's the opposite of far again? Besides, taking the previous months' non-bought books into account, I had now the right to buy 22 books, theoretically anyway. Wouldn't want to waste it all in just a month, would I? So I mightn't have gone all the way in April, but at least I'm not a slacker anymore when it comes to clicking that order button. Yep, it was time to feed the Kindle! Who could blame me with all those gloriously cheap daily deals, especially seeing how they had some interesting non-fiction books on offer too ...

Bought for Kindle (fiction)
Fated (Alyson Noel)

Bought for Kindle (non fiction)
Black Cats & Evil Eyes (Chloe Rhodes)
You Are Not So Smart (David RcRaney)
Orwell's Cough (John Ross)
Writing a Novel and Getting Published for Dummies (George Green and Lizzy Kremer)

The Reading Files - Stop insulting me with your praise!

Time to pick up the slack and read more than just a book a week. So, here we have three, one of which, sadly, I couldn't bring myself to finish. Let's say 2 1/4 books then.

A Slap in the Face (William B. Irvine)

Thoughts. Everything you ever wanted to know about insults and their social importance, lots of historical examples, and advice from the Stoics on how to handle insults (in short: ignore them). All in all a quick and interesting read which could have used some tightening up though.

Book quote. "That's not writing, that's typing."
(Truman Capote's assessment of Jack Kerouac's work)

Verdict. A breezy read on all that insults!

Fly By Night (Frances Hardinge)

Thoughts. Good thing I read the second book first (which I totally loved), because its predecessor was quite a let-down despite the flowery trademark writing. The story I strangely didn't care about at all which made me abandon the book after 100 pages.

Random quote. "You tell lies for money."
"Ah. Aha. My child, you have a flawed grasp of the nature of myth-making."
(p.21)

Verdict. Disappointing first novel of an actually amazing author!

Sweetly (Jackson Pearce)

Thoughts. Not many re-tellings beat a good old fairy tale, yet not many are as cleverly devised like Jackson Pearce's books. With a narrative style that is hard to describe, but utterly mesmerizing, Hänsel & Gretel are brought back to life in a world where witches are not quite what they seem.

First line. The book said there was a witch in the woods.

Verdict. A captivating tale with a Grimm-esque twist!

April 26, 2013

Non-Fiction Giveaway Blog Hop

Welcome to the
Non-Fiction Giveaway Blog Hop
(April 26th - April 29th)
hosted by The Book Garden and Rikki's Teleidoscope

Most giveaway blog hops focus on fiction which is a real shame with all those fabulous non-fiction books out there. What better way to celebrate the wide world of all that isn't fiction than by a giveaway that shares the non-fiction love!

I've read and reviewed a number of amazing non-fiction books last year and I decided to let you choose from an eclectic variety which I personally enjoyed a lot. 
If Walls Could Talk (Lucy Worsley)
Rabid (Bill Wasik) PRE-ORDER
Hit Lit (James W. Hall)
Physics of the Future (Michio Kaku)
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
Two winners will be picked through random.org on April 30th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winners will have 48 hours to respond and if they fail to do so I will draw new winners.

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

Rikki’s Teleidoscope (Int’l)

The Book Garden (Int’l)

Curiosity killed the bookworm (Int’l)

Ex urbanis (Int’l)

Bookchickdi (Int’l & US)

Snow Feathers (Int’l)

Buku-Buku Didi (Int’l)

Doing Dewey (US)

Saving in seconds (US)

April 21, 2013

The Reading Files - The one with the potty mouth!

Somehow I didn't manage to get more than one book read this week, but that's ok. Seeing how the book in question supplied with me with plenty new vocabulary, it's been quite a learning process. After all, I had to let all those bad bad words sink in before turning the pages.

Holy Sh*t (Melissa Mohr)

Thoughts. Not a fluffy pop culture kind of read, this turned out to be an absorbing and deep exploration of obscenities and oaths throughout the centuries. Not for the easily offended, but well worth the read for curious history nuts!

Conversation starter. Did you know that the word niggling is unrelated to nigger, but to niggle was a slang word for sexual intercourse in the 19th and 18th centuries?

Verdict. A fascinating journey into the evolution of swearing!

April 19, 2013

2 by 2 Giveaway Winner

The lucky winner of the April 2 by 2 Giveaway is
Pam
who picked Guards! Guards!

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

April 16, 2013

2 by 2 Giveaway


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

Does your world sit on the back of a giant turtle too?

Guards! Guards! (Terry Pratchett)
Mort (Terry Pratchett)

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 April 19th 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.

April 14, 2013

The Reading Files - Under a full moon ...

After being at odds with my reading choices earlier this week, I somehow miraculously managed to make up my mind about what to read after all. It's time to howl at the moon .. no, wait, do werewolves howl at the new moon too?

The Cain Chronicles #1-4: New Moon Summer, Blood Moon Harvest, Moon of the Terrible, Red Rose Moon (S.M. Reine)

Thoughts. Loving the Seasons of the Moon series I was overjoyed to read more about Rylie and "her pack". A fast read with the obligatory love-triangle, a long-lost half-brother, and a nasty demon-y surprise, these novellas were a bit too cookie-cutter-ho-hum for me.

Last words spoken. That's the thing. She did make her choice, and she can't marry you. Rylie is pregnant with my baby.

Verdict. Quite enjoyable despite the unexpected (new) occult theme!

Cain Chronicles #5: Darkmoon (S.M. Reine)

Thoughts. The grand finale once again uses novel-format which worked wonders for the narrative flow. Still not all too happy about the "branching out" into paranormal territory, but apart from that, the plotting and character depiction was on par with the Seasons of the Moon books.

First line. Rylie staggered through the forest.

Verdict. In many ways better than the novellas, with an end that promises more to come!

April 7, 2013

The Reading Files - Back in the saddle!

After a two-weeks reading fast I got back onto the horse, errr, book stacks. And what better way to ride along than through the vast fields of non-fiction.

Vivid & Continuous (John McNally)

Thoughts. If there is one thing this book is not that must be the usual run-of-the-mill kind of dusty tome filled with same-ol' same-ol' advice. Whether gorging on ideas or taking a look from a whole new perspective this is an insightful and encouraging book on mastering the craft. Highly recommended!

Food for thought. Make a long list of minor characters in your life - real people whom you don't know very well - and write a one sentence description beside each name. Are any of these characters worthy of making it into your fiction?
(Exercise from Minor Characters chapter)

Verdict. Wonderfully inspiring writing guide!

Why We Write (Meredith Maran, Ed.)

Thoughts. Just when you think it's clear that writers will write because they cannot not write along comes this wonderful compilation where authors share the many layers of their obsession. A look behind the curtain which is not just for those who write, but for readers too!

Book quote. A lot of my best decisions were made in a state of selfdelusion. When you're trying to create a career as a writer, a little delusional thinking goes a long way.
(Wisdom for Writers by Michael Lewis)

Verdict. Highly personal journey through the writer's mind!

April 6, 2013

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop Winner

Not all that surprisingly this has been one of the most popular giveaway hops I've participated in. Even more so, I bet you're all curious to find out who will soon be sporting a gorgeous book purse, am I right? Thought so.

Before I announce the name of the person who will be doing a full-fledged happy dance in a minute, let me take this opportunity to once again thank the lovely sponsor, Karen from Novel Creations, who made this all possible ... *throwing confetti*

The lucky winner of the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop is
Kamla L.

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

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There can only be one winner, but if you too want to own your own book 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!