December 21, 2014

Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop (Open WW)

Welcome to the Midwinter's Giveaway Hop (December 21st - 31st)

In the bleak mid-winter you can either hibernate or, in case you're not a bear, make yourself comfy in front of an open fireplace and finish the book. Which one? This one.

Finish This Book (Keri Smith)
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

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November 28, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday - Chop Suey, USA

Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America
(Yong Chen)
November 25th 2014, Columbia University Press

American diners began to flock to Chinese restaurants more than a century ago, making Chinese food the first mass-consumed cuisine in the United States. By 1980, it had become the country’s most popular ethnic cuisine. Chop Suey, USA offers the first comprehensive interpretation of the rise of Chinese food, revealing the forces that made it ubiquitous in the American gastronomic landscape and turned the country into an empire of consumption.
Engineered by a politically disenfranchised, numerically small, and economically exploited group, Chinese food’s tour de America is an epic story of global cultural encounter. It reflects not only changes in taste but also a growing appetite for a more leisurely lifestyle. Americans fell in love with Chinese food not because of its gastronomic excellence but because of its affordability and convenience, which is why they preferred the quick and simple dishes of China while shunning its haute cuisine. Epitomized by chop suey, American Chinese food was a forerunner of McDonald’s, democratizing the once-exclusive dining-out experience for such groups as marginalized Anglos, African Americans, and Jews.
The rise of Chinese food is also a classic American story of immigrant entrepreneurship and perseverance. Barred from many occupations, Chinese Americans successfully turned Chinese food from a despised cuisine into a dominant force in the restaurant market, creating a critical lifeline for their community. Chinese American restaurant workers developed the concept of the open kitchen and popularized the practice of home delivery. They streamlined certain Chinese dishes, such as chop suey and egg foo young, turning them into nationally recognized brand names.

November 24, 2014

Did somebody say hibernation?

Just a short note to let you know that The Book Garden will be in hibernation until March 2015 (Edit: I have extended my hiatus until further notice). There will be the odd post here or there (two more scheduled this week) and I will be participating in some giveaway hops during that time, so stick around folks and see you all again in full swing next spring!


November 21, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday - Liquid Intelligence

Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail
(Dave Arnold)
November 21st 2014, W. W. Norton & Company

In Dave Arnold’s world, the shape of an ice cube, the sugars and acids in an apple, and the bubbles in a bottle of champagne are all ingredients to be measured, tested, and tweaked.
With Liquid Intelligence, the creative force at work in Booker & Dax, New York City’s high-tech bar, brings readers behind the counter and into the lab. There, Arnold and his collaborators investigate temperature, carbonation, sugar concentration, and acidity in search of ways to enhance classic cocktails and invent new ones that revolutionize your expectations about what a drink can look and taste like.
Years of rigorous experimentation and study—botched attempts and inspired solutions—have yielded the recipes and techniques found in these pages. Featuring more than 120 recipes and nearly 450 color photographs, Liquid Intelligence begins with the simple—how ice forms and how to make crystal-clear cubes in your own freezer—and then progresses into advanced techniques like clarifying cloudy lime juice with enzymes, nitro-muddling fresh basil to prevent browning, and infusing vodka with coffee, orange, or peppercorns.
Practical tips for preparing drinks by the pitcher, making homemade sodas, and building a specialized bar in your own home are exactly what drink enthusiasts need to know. For devotees seeking the cutting edge, chapters on liquid nitrogen, chitosan/gellan washing, and the applications of a centrifuge expand the boundaries of traditional cocktail craft.
Arnold’s book is the beginning of a new method of making drinks, a problem-solving approach grounded in attentive observation and creative techniques. Readers will learn how to extract the sweet flavor of peppers without the spice, why bottling certain drinks beforehand beats shaking them at the bar, and why quinine powder and succinic acid lead to the perfect gin and tonic.
Liquid Intelligence is about satisfying your curiosity and refining your technique, from red-hot pokers to the elegance of an old-fashioned. Whether you’re in search of astounding drinks or a one-of-a-kind journey into the next generation of cocktail making, Liquid Intelligence is the ultimate standard—one that no bartender or drink enthusiast should be without.

November 19, 2014

Funny photos? Photo fun(ia).

Downtime between meetings? Slight case of boredom? Or maybe in actual need of, say, a profile pic for a social media site of your choice? I think I have just the thing you need then.

PhotoFunia allows you to create amazing photo collages and spruce up your pictures with different effects in seconds and for absolutely free. Who could ask for more? What's that? Book related, you're saying? Now would I be blogging about this if that weren't one of the many options you are offered? *shakes head in disbelieve*

Here's one of my favorite selfies from way back when ... if you ask me, the combination "me + old book" totally rocks!

Were you already familiar with PhotoFunia? Which of the many effects would you choose for a profile picture or just to generally play around with? 

November 17, 2014

Monday Five's - Why I'd rather read on a Kindle than a physical book! (Part II)

Last week I let you in on why I prefer to hold an actual book in my hands, the kind that trees had to die for. While my reasons for this more traditional approach to reading described in Part I are something not easily surpassed by an eReader, these sleek gadgets do have a thing or two going for them too. I guess what it all boils down to is that I do like them both, each for different reasons. Now why is that? Here are my main reasons why eReading rocks.

The storage of a gazillion books that don't take up any physical space.

The ease with which you can read 1.200+ pages monster tomes.

The gratification of instant downloads.

The option to change font sizes.

The forests that don't get chopped down to make books.*
*Though, admittedly, I have no clue how "environmentally friendly" the production of an eReader is.

Do you prefer reading on an eReader or are you a die-hard fan of physical books? What advantages do you appreciate about a Kindle or Nook? And if you had to choose to only read physical books or eBooks, which would you go for? Please share!

November 15, 2014

Gratitude Giveaways (Open WW)

Welcome to the Gratitude Giveaways (November 15th - 30th)

How about showing your love for literature by sending a bookish postcard to friends and family? To get you started I'm giving away the winner's choice of one of these boxed postcard collections from Penguin.

100 Book Covers in One Box
100 Writers in One Box
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

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November 14, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday - Come Home at Once

Come Home at Once
(Guy Atkins)
November 13th 2014, Bantam Press

For more than a decade, Guy Atkins has collected postcards sent by the Edwardians. In this incredible treasury of 100 cards, he shares the very best from his collection. From the tantalising, to the hilarious, to the downright shocking, this compendium shines a light on an extraordinary phenomenon of communication.
At half the price of sending a letter, and with same-day delivery in urban areas, Britain became obsessed with the postcard between 1902 and 1914. By the outbreak of the First World War, the Post Office was delivering close to a billion cards a year. In fact, the speedy delivery meant Edwardian postcards were the text messages of their day!
Come Home at Once presents an intriguing piece of social history. In it, Guy explains just what made the postcard such an Edwardian sensation, what it really meant to tilt your stamp and how same-day delivery made Edwardian postcards completely different from the postcards we know today.

November 12, 2014

Quote Garden - There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it ...

An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.

You must write for yourself, above all. That is your only hope of creating something beautiful.

Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.

Gustave Flaubert

November 10, 2014

Monday Five's - Why I'd rather read a physical book than on a Kindle! (Part I)

I still remember how I refused to get an eReader for a very long time. Of course, things change quite easily in this techno-crazed world and in my case I simply couldn't bare reading books for review on the computer screen another minute. So I purchases my first eReader. My eyes thanked me and I had to admit that this was actually a pretty neat gadget.
Meanwhile I progressed to my second eReader, a Kindle, and while I do enjoy reading on it, I wouldn't want to miss holding an actual dead-tree-variety of a book in my hand. And here are the main reasons why I hold physical books dear.

The wonderful sensation of turning pages.

The olfactory delight of sniffing (old) books.

The eye-candy that a pretty cover offers.

The ability to easily sneak a peek at the last page. *wink*

No risk of the battery running out.

Watch out for next week's Part II where I'll let you in on the reasons why I'd sometimes rather read on a Kindle than a physical book.

Do you prefer reading physical books or are you an eReader convert? What do you miss the most when reading on a Kindle or Nook compared to a "real" book? And in case you don't even own an eReader yet, what are your reasons? Please share!

November 7, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday - Regulating Desire

Regulating Desire: From the Virtuous Maiden to the Purity Princess
(J. Shoshanna Ehrlich)
November 1st 2014, State University of New York Press

Starting with the mid-nineteenth-century campaign by the American Female Moral Reform Society to criminalize seduction and moving forward to the late twentieth-century conservative effort to codify a national abstinence-only education policy, "Regulating Desire" explores the legal regulation of young women s sexuality in the United States. The book covers five distinct time periods in which changing social conditions generated considerable public anxiety about youthful female sexuality and examines how successive generations of reformers sought to revise the law in an effort to manage unruly desires and restore a gendered social order. J. Shoshanna Ehrlich draws upon a rich array of primary source materials, including reform periodicals, court cases, legislative hearing records, and abstinence curricula to create an interdisciplinary narrative of socially embedded legal change. Capturing the complex and dynamic nature of the relationship between the state and the sexualized youthful female body, she highlights how the law both embodies and shapes gendered understandings of normative desire as mediated by considerations of race and class.

November 3, 2014

Monday Five's - It's never too early to get started on Christmas shopping!

Some people get started on their Christmas shopping once January rolls around with its after-Christmas sales. Of course this is just for those of you who aren't of the forgetful predisposition, otherwise you A) don't remember where you hid the present or B) forget you even bought it in the first place. Then you might resort to throwing yourself into the shopping frenzy a bit later in the year. If you're not faint of heart you might even face the last minute trip to the mall on December 24th. Not fun. That is why I decided to remind you that the clock is ticking and there's always online shopping with bookish gift ideas just a mouse click away.




Obviously these shops aren't exclusively bookish with the last two offering a broader spectrum of gifts that cater to the bookish mind. Yet as far as gift ideas for readers and writers go they also have quite a few treats in store (pun fully intended). So, did I manage to help you out with ideas? Good. Mission accomplished.

Do you like to give books of bookish presents to family and friends for Christmas? Maybe you already bought from one of these shopping sites? If so, what did you purchase? Please share!

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!

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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.

September 29, 2014

Monday Five's - I solemnly swear I'm up to a book (or two)!

Granted, this might be the kind of blog post that usually pops up around the New Year, but why not for once be several steps ahead of myself and look at all my reading plans for the near and maybe a-little-bit-further future? With my TBR piles impressively shrinking I really feel more freedom in my reading choices and not the constant pressure of swaying book piles that seem to mock me (or maybe they're just asking me to do a little dusting). So, here they are, a line up of my bookish plans!

Break through the 50-books-TBR barrier
Almost there with "only" 58 unread books, so I should definitely achieve this by the end of the year.

Take up reading magazines again
With so many books I barely found the time to read any magazines in recent years, but now that there's light at the end of my bookshelf I feel comfortable in indulging in some of my favorite science and lifestyle magazines.

Stock up on the classics
This might be a little counter-productive to I, but I really want to (re)discover some of the classics readingwise. Visiting a big annual flea-market next month should help me find a few and save some bucks at the same time.

Indulge in the frivolity of buying a hardcover edition
This might not sound all that amazing or unusual to some, but being my frugal self I usually resort to used books or at least paperback editions. Then I found out that finally (after a whooping 16 years!) the sequel of a book I loved comes out on October 8th and I am ready to invest those *gasp* € 22,90 in it.

Read all the books I acquired before 2013
Ever notice how some books remain on your TBR piles forever? No more! I intend to finally read all my pre-2013 books next year. According to my list that should be exactly 40 books which means this is absolutely doable (especially if I get a head start and begin my book-crusade nowish).

Do you regularly make reading plans too or simply read along as you go? Are any of your plans, eg re-reading the classics, similar to my own? Please share.

September 26, 2014

Non-Fiction Friday - The Call of the Farm

The Call of the Farm (Rochelle Bilow)
September 23rd 2014, The Experiment

A spirited memoir of farming and cooking, love and self-discovery, by a rising-star food writer.
It began as a simple assignment: Profile a small “full-diet” farm in central New York. At most, food writer Rochelle Bilow expected to come away with a cute city-girl-in-the-country piece. But just one day on the farm gives Bilow so many reasons to stay—the creamy taste of raw milk, the back-breaking satisfaction of stacking hay bales, and the irresistible charm of a certain freckled farmer—that she simply can’t leave.
The Call of the Farm recalls Bilow’s four seasons on the farm, where she learns to care for livestock, grow vegetables, and, as the designated cook, prepare the farmhands’ communal meals—almost exclusively from their own produce. But it’s not just an agricultural love story, as Bilow sensitively portrays the arc of her passionate romance with that freckled farmer—one that burns perhaps all too brightly (and all too fast). Honest, self-aware, and wonderfully tender, The Call of the Farm will speak to anyone who, while opening their CSA box or browsing a farmers’ market, has paused to daydream about farm life—and anyone who has fallen too deeply in love.

September 22, 2014

Monday Five's - Let me (car)toon you up!

It's Monday. The weekend is just a distant memory and you're wading knee-deep through work at the office. This means that there's really not that much time to read your favorite blogs while the boss isn't looking. To make your life a bit easier (and more entertaining) especially on a day like today, I figured I'd supply you with some cartoon fun to lighten the mood and incite some giggles and smiles. The following websites offer (mostly, some also throw in other themes for good measure) bookish cartoons which I'm sure you'll thoroughly enjoy. As do I, obviously.

Finding Wonderland*

Trust me to be the last-minute-gal who simply forgot to get permission to share cartoons from two of these websites. Of course once I get an ok, I will add a cartoon to No. II and V, but in the meantime you'll have to directly visit these sites (which you should do anyway). Yep, I'm taking this whole copyright stuff damn serious!

How do you like these bookishly inspired cartoon sites? Were you already familiar with one of them? Last but not least, are there any you'd like to add to this list? Please share.

Monday Five's - There's always room for improvement!

This blog post should have originally been published last week (faulty memory + draft folder = bad combination), thus there will be a double feature this week!


I don't know about you, but as far as reading blogs is concerned it's not just the inner values that count. Call me superficial if you like, but if you groom yourself every day (at least I very much hope that you do) you might want to give some attention to your blog's appearance as well. Of course, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but there are a few general things that one can easily avoid, unless you intentionally want to give your blog the look of a slob. In case you do, here's my advice to achieve this goal, though you may also take my suggested solutions to heart.

Cram every available widget for Facebook, Instagram & Co. into the sidebar.
Solution? Social media icons are cute and convenient, plus you can find tons of free ones online.

Host giveaways in which everyone must follow you on every social media outlet available.
Solution? Stop playing the numbers-game and only ask for one way to follow, preferably of choice.

Post not just one but at least half a dozen blog tour banners right beneath the blog header.
Solution? One blog tour at a time should do it and put those banners into the sidebar instead.

Use a watermarked stock-photo in your blog header.
Solution? If you really want it, you'll really have to pay for it.

Grab every visitors immediate attention through pop-ups and/or background music.
Solution? The only moving pictures and/or sounds should come attached to a Vlog post.

 Do any of the just mentioned points strike a chord with you? As a blogger, are you guilty of one of these transgressions yourself? Please share.