October 31, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday - Disney During World War II

Disney During World War II: How the Walt Disney Studio Contributed to Victory in the War (John Baxter)
October 28th 2014, Disney Editions

Disney During World War II encompasses the full range of material created by the Disney studio during the war, including ground-breaking training and educational films for the military and defense industries, propaganda and war-themed shorts and features, home front poster art, and the stunning military unit insignia that provided those serving the in the armed forces with a morale-boosting reminder of home. The book makes it clear how deeply Walt invested himself in the cause by patriotically placing his studio at the disposal of Uncle Sam. Replete with period graphics, Disney During World War II showcases Walt Disney's largely unheralded sacrifices in the pursuit of Allied victory, showing the inner workings of a wholesome family entertainment studio transformed almost overnight into a war plant where even the studio's stable of established characters were temporarily reinvented as warriors and team-oriented, patriotic American citizens.

October 27, 2014

Monday Five's - My name's Bridget!

Well, actually, it isn't. But close enough, seeing how it's simply the English version of my name. What this has to do with books? Easy. Ever read a book with characters whose names reminded you of, say, someone you once had a crush on, or a little bit less fun, someone you despise? It happens to all of us from time to time. Still, even stranger than that are the moments when you read about ... yourself, sort of. Seeing how I mostly read English books I've never stumbled across my name, but nevertheless I thought long and hard about Bridget as my English alter-ego making some appearances between the pages.






Admittedly I haven't read any of these books and to add insult to injury I had to browse on Goodreads for a little while to complete this list as I only knew of the first two books. Still, it was fun to go off the beaten path and throw in a children's book and a non-fiction-esque parody of sorts too. And come to think of it, the last one's theme being "Thelma and Louise on mobility scooters" kinda makes me want to read it. One day. When I am of a certain age, that is.

Have you ever read books with characters who have the same name as yours? How do you feel about literarily sharing a name? And does it dampen the reading experience for you if there is a character who shares the name with your arch-nemesis? Please share.

October 24, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday - I Think You'll Find it's a Bit More Complicated Than That

I Think You'll Find it's a Bit More Complicated Than That (Ben Goldacre)
October 23rd 2014, Fourth Estate Ltd

The very best journalism from one of Britain's most admired and outspoken science writers, author of the bestselling Bad Science and Bad Pharma. In 'Bad Science', Ben Goldacre hilariously exposed the tricks that quacks and journalists use to distort science. In 'Bad Pharma', he put the $600 billion global pharmaceutical industry under the microscope. Now the pick of the journalism by one of our wittiiest, most indignant and most fearless commentators on the worlds of medicine and science is collected in one volume.

October 22, 2014

How long would it take you to read [insert title of a really huge tome]?

As much as I love to throw in the occasional blog post about bookish quizzes, I will share a different kind of thing today. More precisely, a test to find out just how long it would take you to read, say, Game of Thrones. Sounds daunting? It is, even when you're heavily into epic fantasy novels. So as not to steal too much of your precious reading time (you'll need it, trust me), how about finding out how long it'd take until you could finally close the last page of the last book and release a long deep sigh ...

Take what presumably is an average reading speed and an hour a day and barely 15 weeks later I've shown those tomes who's the boss. And when I'm done I will continue to tick the following books of my list. Just kidding. Seriously. I'm joking. Big tome time.

How long would it take you to plow through Game of Thrones? Are you generally a speedy reader or more the average kind like me?

October 20, 2014

Monday Five's - The (un)fun of working at a bookstore! (Part II)

Last week I shared all the fun that working in a bookstore can be in Part I, but you know how it is, inevitably there is a dark side too. As much as I do think fondly of those book selling days, I never forgot that there were a select few downsides to it as well. Not enough to spoil the whole experience, but still making for cautionary and somewhat entertaining blog post material ...

Empty bank account
Now that might be exaggerating things a little, but being constantly surrounded by book-shaped temptations I left a fair share of my wages right in the store. Not exactly a complaint, more of a fact, really.

Battered hands
As much as hauling around books did for my upper arm muscles, my hands embraced *haha* what I jokingly refer to the well-read construction worker look. I was covered with paper cuts and other book-induced nicks and dents all the time.

The mess
It was all a never ending cycle of people going through the shelves and stacks leaving an incredible chaos behind. My favorite pet peeve was that it was never enough to have one sample copy open to browse through. Nope, some folks had to tear at least three copies out of their original plastic wrapping which consequently no one wanted to buy as they all soon ended up looking as if someone had dragged them across half the continent.

Brain-dead customers
There will always be people who assume that working in retail means you're an idiot. The fact that working at a bookstore requires the ability not just to read but also to have a grasp of books in general has sadly escaped the notice of some customers who'll treat you like imbeciles. They will spell out what to them is a rather complicated book title (erroneously, but don't tell them, because they usually do not appreciate being corrected by someone who they consider to be an idiot) while you've already typed it into the computer and are half way to the correct aisle to fetch a copy for them.

Dreadful fatigues
Many shops will not just put a name-tag on your shirt but require you to dress in company wear. (Un)luck would have it that during five years I progresses from a grey vest to a red one straight to the unspeakably ugly neon-colored shirts we had to wear one summer. Neither option did anything for my complexion.

Have you ever worked in a bookstore? If so, can you relate to some of the things mentioned above? Which of them is the worst downside in your opinion? Please share.

October 17, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday - Stargazers

Stargazers: Galileo, Copernicus, the Telescope and the Church (Allan Chapman)
October 17th 2014, Lion Hudson

Stargazers presents a comprehensive history of how leading astronomers, such as Galileo and Copernicus, mapped the stars from 1500AD to around 1700AD. Building on the work of the Greek and Arabian astrologers before him, church lawyer Nicholas Copernicus proposed the idea of a sun-centred universe. It was later popularized by Galileo – a brilliant debater whose abrasive style won him many enemies – who presented new evidence, which suggested that the earth moved. This thorough examination of the work of both men explores both their achievements and influences. It then traces the impact of their ideas on those who followed them, including Sir Francis Bacon, Dr John Wilkins, Dr Robert Hooke, Sir Isaac Newton and Reverend Dr James Bradley. Chapman investigates the Church’s role and its intriguing relationship with the astronomers of the day, many of whom were churchgoers. He rebuts the popular view that the Church was opposed to the study of astronomy. In reality, it led the search to discover more. In 1728, Copernicus’s theory of the moving earth was finally proven by the young Reverend Dr James Bradley.

October 15, 2014

Quote Garden - Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them ...

Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness.

If you are a student you should always get a good nights sleep unless you have come to the good part of your book, and then you should stay up all night and let your schoolwork fall by the wayside, a phrase which means 'flunk'.

The burning of a book is a sad, sad sight, for even though a book is nothing but ink and paper, it feels as if the ideas contained in the book are disappearing as the pages turn to ashes and the cover and binding--which is the term for the stitching and glue that holds the pages together--blacken and curl as the flames do their wicked work. When someone is burning a book, they are showing utter contempt for all of the thinking that produced its ideas, all of the labor that went into its words and sentences, and all of the trouble that befell the author.

A library is like an island in the middle of a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded.

Reading is one form of escape. Running for your life is another.

Lemony Snicket

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop (Open WW)

Welcome to the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop (October 15th - 31st)

It's the season to, well, not be jolly, obviously, but certainly made for staying inside and indulging in some terrifyingly good books. In case you've run out of spine-tingling reading material, fear not *haha* because, one lucky (and hopefully not easily scared) person can win this set of books by the master of horror himself.

The Shining and Doctor Sleep (Stephen King)
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

Don't forget - you need to leave a comment AND claim your entry in the Rafflecopter form to be in for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 13, 2014

Monday Five's - The fun of working at a bookstore! (Part I)

Once upon a long time ago I used to bump up my meager student's bank account by working part-time at a bookstore. Where else would I have wanted to spend the time I didn't sit at my desk learning for Uni? Looking back now on my years in retail I think of it both fondly and with dread. As with many things in life, there are ups and downs to every job and today I will share some of the fun parts about my book-selling stint ...

Fondling books all day long
All right, maybe just all shift long, but you get the general idea. I guess I don't really need to explain why this is great, do I?

Arm workout
I've never been much into sports, in fact not even remotely. The idea of jogging without an oxygen tent every 100 meters is laughable. But I honestly didn't mind hauling around and arranging books which gave me amazingly toned arms.

Dibs on sale items
Something got marked down and before it even hit the sales floor ... need I really spell it out? First to know, first to buy, or something like that.

Review copies
Granted, working in a big chain bookstore rarely (if ever) translates into foot soldiers at the bottom of the rung receiving any goodies. In my five years there I got my hands on two review copies which I found pretty cool back then (obviously still do).

Window dressing
Come to think of it, being located inside a mall there were no actual windows to dress, yet the entry area and the main dais in the store needed some dress changes nonetheless. Being able to decide on the book arrangements there? Awesome.

Watch out for next week's Part II where I will share the un-fun parts of working at the bookstore.

Have you ever been working at a bookstore? If so, can you relate to my fondly remembered benefits listed above? Maybe there are even more things you'd like to add? Please share.

October 10, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday - Careers in Serious Leisure

Careers in Serious Leisure: From Dabbler to Devotee in Search of Fulfilment (Robert A. Stebbins)
October 8th 2014, Palgrave Macmillan

Using the framework of the serious leisure perspective, this book explores the concept of career and the question often tackled in mid-life and even upon retirement: 'what to do with the rest of my life?' Apart from the classic economic concerns of pay, health care, fringe benefits, and possible chances for promotion, many people give little careful thought to a career in either work or leisure. In fact, one of the principal themes of this book is that interest in a fulfilment career, even when it leads to deeply attractive work, originates in leisure. If followed, this leads to an efflorescence many years later in amateurism, hobbyism, volunteering, or devotee work. Here participants discover some of the deepest meanings of fulfilment.

October 8, 2014

Those who do not travel ... (London Edition)

... read only a page! That being said, I love to travel and I love to read, so little wonder that I like to combine these two passions and throw in not just the typical sights to be seen in different cities or countries, but also those that tickle my inner reader. Seeing how I am quite a London fan, I will now introduce you to my favorite bookish places there. So, next time you're there, just skip tea time with the Queen and have some bookish fun instead!

If you believe that a library's sole purpose is the whole lending of books thing, guess again. The British Library takes discovering literature to the next level. For one, the Treasures of the British Library let you catch a glimpse on exhibits such as works by Shakespare and the Magna Carta, but even more so there are constantly changing exhibitions which lure readers in. In case you should be lucky enough to be in London these days, you might want to visit Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination (open through January 20th 2015).

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is appropriately located in, you'll never have guessed, 221b Baker Street. No matter if you're a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle or simply want to get a taste of what living in Victorian times was like, the home of the world's most renowned detective is a real gem among the many museums in this city. Snoop around in Watson's study and take a selfie with the mounted head of the hound of Baskerville.

If these two gems for book lover's aren't enough for you (can't say I blame you) there are even more places to discover. Sadly I haven't had the chance to visit the following (yet), but there is always a next time of hopping on the plane ...

The more classicaly inclined readers will find delight in visiting Shakespeare's Globe and The Charles Dickens Museum while the younger ones might want to check out The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4.

Have you ever been to London? If so, did your sightseeing lead you to any of these bookish haunts too. And if you haven't been in this city yet, which of these museums is the most interesting to you?

October 6, 2014

Monday Five's - Books aren't movies so how about a potty break?

If you thought that the need of not having to reload a gun in a shoot-out or a steel bladder that seemingly never needs to be emptied is something that can only be encountered in movies, you'd be wrong. Granted, it does not always add to the narrative flow, at least not the whole bladder-relieving scenario, but still, there are a select few situations that, in my humble opinion, at least deserve a short mention. Why? Let's just say the bonding with a character goes down much more smoothly if (s)he needs to pee. So, if you're an author, heed my words!

Using the bathroom
Brushing of teeth and taking a shower is just for show. I want those pants pulled down and skirts lifted up. Now get your mind out of the gutter (or jump straight to No. III), because I'm referring to using the toilet for more than just sitting on it typing a text-message on a cell-phone. Let 'em pee! Let 'em take a dump! A desperate hunt for a toilet while being chased by rabid bunnies? Now we're talking!

Don't just let our heroines be PMSing for half a sentence, instead give them cramps and the whole enchilada. And don't be shy, you may stretch this out over a page or two. Seriously, I want bloodshed, but without an ax murderer or zombies being the responsible parties. So, bring on the tampons and hot-water bottle!

Picture perfect sex
Escapism is all well and good, but a little bit of realism doesn't hurt. Maybe it's just me, but I like my sex scenes to be bordering on awkward, maybe with a brushstroke of silly, because (again) this makes it all a tad more, well, realistic. And sometimes no orgasm can be (literary speaking) a whole lot better than multiple ones. Just sayin'!

Food junkies
Eating is a good thing and I'm all for fictional folks keeping up their strength by filling their tummies! Strangely though, some will treat their glass of wine or slice of cake like an orgasmic experience. Not just once, but in every single chapter. At length.* Food porn much? Maybe this is the next new thing and I'm just plain clueless.

Anthropomorphic pets
The dog cuddling up to a character when they're sad? Perfectly ok. The cat meowing her assent to the outfit a character plans to wear? Yeah, right. I know we all like to think our pets are more than what meets the eye, but they shouldn't lead whole conversations with humans unless it's a fantasy novel or some such. Let pets be pets!

*Come to think of it - if you cut down on the food intake, there'd be more time for the whole taking-it-back-out again, right?

Do you ever get annoyed about the somewhat diffused view on people's lives in books (or movies)? Do you share any of the listed pet peeves with me? Or is there anything you'd like to add? Please share.

October 3, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday - Christmas at Historic Houses

Christmas at Historic Houses (Patricia Hart McMillan and Katharine Kaye McMillan)
September 28th 2014, Schiffer Publishing

History is brought to life in many historic houses, especially at Christmas time, when special decorations help to welcome the social season and visiting guests. In this revised second edition, learn history and local customs through engaging text and over 420 color photos. Costumed guides interpret Christmas traditions in some of the thirty specially decorated houses that are featured from across America. Both magnificent estates and simple residences offer a variety of styles, tastes, and ideas to inspire your own celebrations. See preserved buildings with illuminated gardens, inviting dining halls, and stunning interiors. Enjoy the many efforts on display here that help to make the Christmas season a magical time of sharing, caring, and gratitude.