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The Goodreads Choice Awards 2012

OMG, I feel embarrassed.

Today I received an email (like probably 5 million others) asking me to vote for the best books in various categories in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2012.

My short evaluation of the various categories (I am aware that I can nominate books if I wish to, but for now let’s stick to the ones already nominated):

  • Fiction: Haven’t read one of the nominees. Ooops! Did discover one author I want to try out though (Junot Díaz)
  • Myster & Thriller: Not one, BUT I do know Alexander McCall Smith, just that I can’t stand his Mme. Ramotswe series.
  • Historical fiction: Not one, BUT I bought one of them (Hilary Mantel) for John. Does that count?
  • Fantasy: Not one, that was to be expected.
  • Paranormal Fantasy: Not one, but at least I know a couple of the series, even though I have lost interest. Gail Carriger is, well, soso, and I was shocked to discover that by now there is the 21st Anita Blake book out. I would have assumed by now she has died from too much ardeur.
  • Science Fiction: Nah.
  • Romance: Strangely enough, quite a few of them are paranormal as well, does this mean anything. Does regular romance lose its appeal? I also discovered that Fifty Shades sequel or second sequel or whatever it is on the list. Awful! Where is the romance in that one?

All the rest I will cover with a cloak of silence. It seems the Goodreads Choice Awards are not for me. Some book blogger I am!

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The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop

Welcome to the Sixth Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

It is great that you found your way here. I hope you are enjoying your stay at my blog and have a look around. If you would like to be notified about new posts please consider subscribing to my RSS feed or follow me on twitter. You can also add me on Google+.

What am I giving away?

Judith encouraged me to give away something different today. I digitally made this set of 2013 calendar bookmarks and I am giving away one set. However, I must let you know that I have not received my prints yet, so it will take a while before I can get the set out to the winner. But I won’t forget and I promise that you will get them before the new year, :).

Calendar Set 2013

Enter the giveaway

To enter my giveaway, simply leave a comment and tell me whether you are a bookmark user or a promoter of “dog earing”. Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you, all the world knows I am a book abuser.

The other participants

For the other participants, please go to Leeswammes’ Blog. You will find the links to all the fifty participants there. There are great books to be won!

And now have lots of fun hopping!

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Book locations: Our new library

After a three year long renovation our new library opened its doors today. It was an old building that got completely redone inside and out. The new building is only meant for fiction, children’s literature, the musical library and the historical science library. The non-fiction books are still in the old building that is attached to the new one. So our lovely library café is still there for everyone to enjoy.

The new building is VERY modern, with lots of empty space, lots of concrete and stylish furniture. A lot of the books are still gone as patrons were encouraged to check out as many books as possible before the move.

They created a super nice children’s area with lots of seats and a little auditorium for readings etc. The employees were exceptionally helpful and nice today, we will see whether that will last or whether they will go back to their old behaviour. They have even extended their opening hours and – gasp – are now open on Wednesdays. Pure luxury! The most exciting feature is a drop box where we can now return our books after the library closes. I know, this is a standard service in a lot of places, but it is a true novelty here. No more late fees for me – hopefully.

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Reconstructing

hard_hat_area

Bloggiesta is over and suddenly I feel I need to change my blog. Figures! Three weeks ago I said I was totally happy with the looks, but now I am not any more.

So you liked her? Now you don’t like her?

It’s early. You can change your mind one
more time before dinner.

I will be off tomorrow, so I will have some time to fiddle about with everything. If you see something strange going on, twice the same widget here and there etc., that’s just me…

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Top Ten Books to get into the Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesday

OK, my horror, thriller and spooky reads are kept to a minimum these days, but I will probably come up with a few books that I have read during the years.

Halloween

 

My Top Ten Books to get into the Halloween Spirit

What are your Top Ten Halloween Reads?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You will find tons of more Top Ten Tuesday participants there.

Bat graphics by Studio Flergs from Scrapbookgraphics.com 

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Week on the web

weekontheweb

Here are my finds for this week…

  • You want to sell your e-book but don’t want to share the profit? Try out Payhip, a new service where you can sell e-books without any fee.
  • Look what lovely candle holders Helena creates from old book pages. Visit her at her bilingual blog Craft & Creativity
  • Birgit from The Book Garden has a fun article about one of her pet peeves – the well-beloved Captcha. Thank God she can put two and two together, otherwise she’d never comment on this blog, :).

What interesting things have you found recently?

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Is Heathcliff a murderer? by John Sutherland

inanutshell
Puzzles in 19th-century fiction 

Short synopsis:

John Sutherland analyzes unsolved mysteries and enigmas in classic 19th century fiction.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like to get to the bottom of things, enjoy speculating about what happened that the writers kept quiet about.

This is a delightful read if you have read the books in question and always wondered about certain aspects, like, for example, what the hell was that transcendental experience when Jane and Mr. Rochester communicate via “celestial telegram”? Or, what went really on between Ms. Stoner and Dr. Roylott in “The Speckled Band”? Or whether Alec is a rapist or not?

Out of the 34 books tackled I have read only 13, not an impressive figure, but it is still worth getting this book. Plus, the intriguing chapter titles encourage you to go and read the rest. Who wouldn’t want to know what is behind the question “What kind of murderer is John Barton?”, or what is the story of “Effie Dean’s phantom pregnancy”

Highly recommended!


Related books by John Sutherland:

Can Jane Eyre be happy? *** Who betrays Elizabeth Bennett?


Product info and buy link :

Title Is Heathcliff a murderer?
Author John Sutherland
Publisher Oxford Paperbacks
ISBN 9780192834683
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy Is Heathcliff a murderer? in Awesome Books’ bargain bin

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Top Ten authors of historical detective novels

Top Ten Tuesday

I have already blogged about this topic and if you have been to my blog before chances are you will have heard of one or two people on this list. 

 

Top Ten authors of historical detective novels
  • David Wishart
    My absolute favourite. I just love his detective, patrician Marcus Corvinus, who wisecracks his way through Tiberius’ Rome.
  • John Maddox Roberts
    I like his SPQR series not so much for the sleuthing of his hero Decius Caecilius Metellus, but for the setting in the last days of the republic. Tons of interesting characters come to life here.
  • Lindsey Davis
    I didn’t care too much for The Silver Pigs which is set in Britain, but the later books are really good. Set in Rome in the time of Vespasian.
  • Margaret Doody
    With Aristotle this series has an interesting detective. Set in Greece in the 4th century B.C.
  • Bernard Knight
    His Crowner John books are very entertaining. Set in England in the 12th century.
  • Ellis Peters
    Well, everybody loves Brother Cadfael, if only because of Derek Jacobi. Set in England in the 12th century.
  • Susanna Gregory
    Her detective Matthew Bartholomew is a Cambridge fellow in the 14th century.
  • Robert van Gulik
    The interesting detective is Judge Dee, a Chinese magistrate in the 7th century. Based on a real person.
  • Stephanie Barron
    I love those books with Jane Austen as detective for the lovely settings.
  • Steven Saylor
    I am no big fan of Steven Saylor’s Sub Rosa series. It is set around the same time as the SPQR books, but his detective Gordianus is not nearly as interesting as the Metellan one. However, I did like the fact that Mr. Saylor has one book in the series about the little incident on the Appian way where Milo killed Clodius (Murder on the Appian Way).

What are your Top Ten Authors in a favourite genre of yours?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You will find tons of more Top Ten Tuesday participants there.

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The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Cover The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Elena from Books and Reviews recommended this short story to me after we briefly talked about The Monkey’s Paw, a great little horror short story that I re-read for last year’s RIP.

I had never heard of The Birthmark before and when I saw that it really is very short, I read it right away.

On a few pages Hawthorne creates a very uncomfortable, creepy atmosphere and he needs nothing but two protagonists and a supporting character. We have a scientist who thinks he will triumph over nature, a pliant wife, a somewhat pessimistic assistant and an obsession to create perfection where there is no need to.

I have to admit I am not sure whom I disliked more. The man who gets obsessed with the removal of his wife’s birthmark or the wife who is so under his influence or is so willing to please her husband that she starts to dislike it even more than he does.

In fact she should have been a little more suspicious of his achievements and not trusted him so easily (even though she was ok with even dying in the process, so it didn’t matter). On the one hand he tells her he has found the elixir of immortality and could make anyone live or die at will, on the other hand his journal is a list of failures (by his own standards). I found this discrepancy rather odd.

Apart from the topics whether man should try to meddle with nature, perfection vs. imperfection and all that symbolism of the birthmark being the manifestation of sin (give me a break!) etc., what interested me most was the aspect of what sort of relationship Aylmer and Georgiana were leading. Definitely not a healthy one! If transferred to nowadays Georgiana’s online name would most probably be “aylmerswife” and I thoroughly dislike that sort of attitude.

Anyway, this story is super creepy, a perfect short Halloween read. But not only that. It leaves you with a distinct uncomfortable feeling that will linger for some time. Haunting!

Read The Birthmark for free by downloading, for example, Little Masterpieces at Project Gutenberg

Want to know what others thought of this book? Have a look at:

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne at Books and Reviews

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Weekend Cooking: Duchy Originals Cookbook

duchy_origEver since I tasted Duchy originals lemon curd I was in love with the products.

On my last trip to the library I came across this Duchy Originals Cookbook and took it home without even looking inside. I knew there would probably be a lot of meat recipes in there but that didn’t matter. I just wanted to have a closer look at it. And I am glad I did.

The book is divided into four seasonal chapters with sub chapters like lambs or the forest in spring, bread or bees and honey in summer, jam or salmon in autumn and cheese, sausages or chocolate in winter.

The foreword is written by Prince Charles, who founded Duchy Originals twenty years ago, then we learn about the history and philosophy of the company. Some of those are the promotion of sustainable and organic farming, producing food in a traditional manner and working according to the cycle of nature.

It is an absolutely lovely book with beautiful pictures, interesting articles and very yummy recipes. Even though I only looked at the vegetarian ones I found plenty of dishes I want to try out.

The one I did try out right away are the granola bars. 

Granola Bars with organic honey

granola_bars

Frame by Audrey Neal. 

Ingredients

  • 100 g rolled oats
  • 25 g pumpkin seeds
  • 25 g sunflower seeds
  • 75 g brown sugar
  • 150 g butter
  • 75 g organic honey (preferably Duchy Originals, but any kind will do)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 150°C.

Mix rolled oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and sugar in a bowl.

Melt butter together with honey and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Line a baking dish with baking paper and pour mixture into it. Even it out and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Take out of the oven and cool down completely. Take off paper and cut into bars.

They keep in an airtight container for about a week.

I didn’t have bought pumpkin seeds but a Hokkaido pumpkin instead and wanted to roast my own seeds, but it didn’t work out. They burnt in the end, but I am not sure they would have turned out ok even if they hadn’t.

If anyone has a few tips on how to roast your own pumpkin seeds I would be grateful.

Anyway, I ended up using twice the amount of sunflower seeds instead and that worked, too. The bars are super nice, a bit on the sweet side, so I suppose you could cut down on the sugar a little. 

The veggie factor

Recipe ratio (non.veg./veg.) I didn’t count, and I could be way off, but I reckon about 75%/25%
Worth it? Yes, definitely. In spite of the veggie factor.

Product info and buy link :

Title Duchy Originals Cookbook
Author Johnny Acton & Nick Sandler
Publisher Kyle Cathie Limited
ISBN 9781904920694
I got this book from the libary
Buy link Buy Duchy Originals Cookbook

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

This post is part of

Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. For the other weekend cooking posts please go there.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter readalong

I know, I will probably get some hate mail in the near future.

This is about the third time or so that I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and, once more, it was like reading it (almost) for the first time. Harry Potter books are – for me – “forgettable”. I can’t imagine how there are adults out there who remember every little detail about every completely inconsequential character, every meaningless detail, every irrelevant incident. I can’t. Every time I read Harry Potter it’s a new experience.

That being said, a new experience is not necessarily a good one. This time I found the book rather dull, uninspiring, full of stereotypes and lifeless. Harry Potter seemed like a meddlesome, precocious little boy who doesn’t know his place. He is making wrong assumptions all through the book, is prejudiced and a general nuisance.

The message of the book – that continues in the rest of the series – is a dubious one in parts. Why, oh why, does Voldemort have to look like the caricature of Nosferatu in a snake mask (I admit I am somewhat influenced by the movies here, but his movie looks do come close to his description in the books)? He should be a charming and maybe average looking man with charisma instead. Most people who are evil don’t look the part, and vice versa. How he gained so many followers is a mystery to me, considering that he kills his supporters just as ready as he kills his enemies. Why follow him if you don’t gain anything from it?

The role of unreliable Hagrid is also puzzling. Why Dumbledore would trust that oaf (sorry, Hagrid lovers!)  I can’t imagine. I mean, he gives away the secret of how to knock out Fluffy to a complete stranger in a pub! Not to mention the fact that he thinks he can raise an illegal dragon on Hogwarts’ grounds without it being noticed. The man is a liability.

The only fairly interesting character in the whole book is Snape. I love poor Snape (blame Alan Rickman!). Even though he seems to be the good guy at the end of the Philosopher’s Stone his dubious role is being played out until practically the last pages of the whole series. An easy method to keep up the tension without any further efforts.

I don’t know what I saw in those books when I read them for the first time (and I was not a kid back then). I suppose the nice setting in a wizard world ensnared me and I didn’t realize how unsubstantial the books really are. I am sure that lots of people are going to tell  me now how well planned out everything is and how a little detail in book one already was the harbinger of an occurrence five books later and how greatly interwoven the whole storyline is. That may be so, just I can’t see it because by the time I read book five I have completely forgotten what I read four books (or one book) earlier.

I have been watching the movies at the same time that I was reading The Philosopher’s Stone and enjoyed watching them for the beautiful setting, the good actors and all the action. I’ve got to admit though that I am rooting for the bad guys – to no avail, I am afraid.

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Favourite places to read

Top Ten Tuesday

Today is a Top Ten Tuesday rewind which means we can choose any past topic we missed. I was going to do Top Ten book to movie adaptations but then realized that I had already done this topic as a Thursday Thirteen post in May this year (and totally forgotten about it).  I looked around and saw that Birgit did her favourite places to read and so I decided to join her.

Favourite places to read
  • Bed
    Nothing better than my warm, comfy, cosy bed.
  • Bathtub
    Nothing better than my warm, comfy, cosy bathtub (except my bed)
  • Coffee shop
    If only people around me would stop talking
  • The waiting room at any doctor’s office
    Why don’t they have a clue about time management?
  • The hairdresser’s
    If only she would stop talking
  • The library café
    If only our library was a nicer place

What are your Favourite Places to Read?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You will find tons of more Top Ten Tuesday participants there.

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Never seduce a Scot by Maya Banks

Cover Never seduce a Scot by Maya BanksAnother Highland romance with a little twist.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Clan chieftain is forced to marry enemy clan’s daft daughter, but not everything is at it seems.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes, rather.

For people who: like Highland romance and the standard romance components 


My thoughts: 

After the absolute disaster with 50 Shades of Grey I needed another romance to get that book out of my system. After reading a Random House newsletter and looking on Netgalley I got a historical romance by Maya Banks. Can it be a more sure thing than Scotsmen and Maya Banks? I don’t think so.

I have read books by her before, but they were contemporary ménage stories, and I somehow must have expected some happy threesome with a fair maiden, a fierce chieftain and a gentle healer or something because I was surprised to find a rather standard Highland romance. In fact it reminded me a lot of two books by Julie Garwood combined, “The Secret” (bride comes from an enemy clan, just that in The Secret it is kept, well, a secret) and “Saving Grace” (brutal ex husband comes for “his” woman again). But I suppose all components of a Highland romance are so formulaic that you take them from a pool and combine them at will and they will always make a nice romance read.

In this story we have an additional twist with the bride/wife being deaf , and it takes some time for her man to find out. How her family has not noticed this in years and just thought her daft is a mystery to me, but I will let that slide, as it is mandatory to the plot.

The whole story is a really enjoyable read, not as hot as other Banks books, but rather sweet and cosy. I just saw on Goodreads that is is book 1 in a series and that makes perfect sense. Both clans have a couple of brothers to find brides for and it is only reasonable to give them their own books.

Why the book is called “Never seduce a Scot” I have no idea. So far I haven’t come across one Highland romance where the  Scot in question isn’t a prefect specimen of his kind. In fact, seducing a Scot (or alternatively being seduced by one) should be a top priority on every girl’s bucket list.


Product info and buy link :

Title Never seduce a Scot
Author Maya Banks
Publisher Ballantine Books
ISBN 9780345533234
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy Never seduce a Scot

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Week on the web

weekontheweb

Here are my finds for this week…

What have you found on the web recently?

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Come together by Josie Lloyd & Emlyn Rees

Cover Come Together One couple, two points of view.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

The story of Jack and Amy, told from both sides.

Language I read the book in: German (Come together)

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like modern romance (not erotic).


My thoughts: 

When I got this book from a swap partner I didn’t know whether I would like it, but the idea about the two voices sounded nice.

Both protagonists start telling the story at a point some time before they met and it was quite good to get to know them beforehand. As is often the case with me, I immediately sided with the guy and didn’t think Amy was such a nice  person. Her irresponsible behaviour in her job (she is a temp) made her unlikeable to me. My initial feelings about her were confirmed later in the book in various other situations, but that didn’t spoil the reading fun.

The plot covers all the usual ups and down, the story is realistic and definitely not being told from a pink cloud. Insecurities, jealousies, misunderstanding, stubborn behaviour, we have all been there.

For my taste people could have been a little less inebriated. I am no teetotaller by any means, but in general I don’t like people to get drunk at every party until they can hardly remember their name the next morning. And I dislike it even more when they do things while drunk and then use that as an excuse.

One thing I really could have done without was the corny way Jack was thinking about things. Well, I read this in German, so I can only give you a (translated) idea, but there we go:

I saw, I conquered, I came.

How awful is that? There are some passages like this one where you just have to shake your head and quickly read on, otherwise you’d throw the book in the corner, but otherwise it is a fun read. There are a couple of sequels out and I am waiting for “Come again” to turn up in my mailbox.


Product info and buy link :

Title Come together
Author Josie Lloyd & Emlyn Rees
Publisher Arrow Books
ISBN 9780099279273
I got this book from a swap partner
Buy link Buy Come together

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Bloggiesta giveaway winner

Only two people actually finished my Bloggiesta mini challenge about basic photo editing and posted the before and after images on their blog. So, random.org didn’t have a lot to do this time and chose the first entrant.

Random.org drawing

And the first entrant is Judith! Congrats, Judith! You won the e-book Real.Life.Photography by Rebecca Cooper. I will send you an email with the gift code.

real.life.photography 

Thank you everybody for checking out my challenge, for trying out Picmonkey and for playing.

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My first set of calendar bookmarks

crafty_tuesday

My first set of calendar bookmarks for 2013 is finished and I really like the way they turned out after all. Especially considering that it took no time at all to do them.

cal1_web

See the first three months in more detail here. To assemble them I will either just staple them at the top (pretty rough method, I know, but quick) or punch a hole and tie them with a nice and colourful ribbon.

Have you done anything crafty lately? Let me know, I am always looking for inspiration.

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My reading list for October and September recap

readinglist

In September I

This month I am planning to:

oh, I have no idea. September was so busy with various projects that I had hardly any time for reading, so I will just see where October will take me. 

How was YOUR reading month?