Weekend Coffee Share

If We Were Having Coffee… On Feb 19

Hello my lovely booklovers,

Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop that was started by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster, but has now moved to a new home with Emily at Nerd In The Brain. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

I am so sorry for not having participated much this month. Life has been really hectic, and I barely got anything done. If we were having coffee today, we’d sit on all sorts of boxes and crates while I offer you coffee or tea to drink.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that my dad is moving house this month, and he is moving into the house I live in. His office will be above my flat, and his new flat will be above that. But that means moving all his stuff out of a place he has lived in for the last 35-odd years. Since January, mum, my sister and I have been emptying out our own basements and flats to make space for whatever we want to keep from dad’s place. But that’s taken longer than expected. We’ve also cleaned out dad’s basement (more or less) and we have taken countless bags of clothes to charity donation boxes. On Feb 9, we moved the first lot of stuff across, mainly dad’s home office. But at the same time, they dismantled the furniture in my old room, which I wanted to keep. So I had to clear out my own wardrobe and shelves, move them away and make space for a “new” wardrobe and shelves. I am still sorting stuff around because getting dad’s things sorted for the move took precedence. I also got my old desk back, which is still the best desk I ever had and fits better into my flat as well. Let me just say I am sick and tired of boxes, and I am not going to be moving anytime soon.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I sort of got offered a job this week, teaching English at a language school. I accompanied my dad to his Conversational English course because I had to drive him, and the teacher (and owner) kept asking me questions which kept me talking for about 1/3 of the lesson. Afterwards, he told me that he is currently looking for teachers and asked whether I’d be interested.Even though I don’t have my TEFL (yet), I could start out on Conversational courses and then take over the normal classes as well. He wants to get in touch next week so we can sit down and discuss this further! I am super excited about this opportunity! Especially as it was offered without an anxiety-inducing and nerve-wracking application process.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I want to get so much done. Not only do I want to catch up on my reading and reviews and blog posts, I’ve got quite a few Coursera / FutureLearn / edX courses lined up that I want to do. Plus looking for a job and PhD opportunities, writing more, putting together a recipe collection and work out more. It’s a bit overwhelming, to be honest.

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that I now own 815 books and there are at least 7 still on the way (I’ve ordered 7, but I’ve already planned on ordering at least 8 more, all 15 of which will be signed!). I found a little, independent book shop which holds signings every other day, and even if you can’t attend, if you order and ask for a signed copy, they’ll get it signed for you. I’ve finally found something worthwhile to collect!

Anyway, that’s it from me for now. I hope to have some more time to myself and for this blog after next weekend. Check out the other Weekend Coffee Sharers, I’m sure they’d love to see you as well!

Thank you for having coffee with me! Same time, next week (hopefully)?

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If We Were Having Coffee… On Feb 5

Hello my lovely booklovers,

Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

I know I have been avoiding you all last week and I apologise for that. I’ve had a lot on my mind and not much time to myself, let alone time to write. It’s all been a bit much, really.

Yesterday we would have met up in Düsseldorf with a friend of mine. We would have gone into the Old Town, had a lovely lunch at a Creole restaurant (which is pretty uncommon over here), and then strolled through the rain to bookstores and ended up at a café to while the afternoon away.

Today was slightly more hectic, I’m afraid. Brunch with the family, and then emptying out the basement. You see, my dad is moving house soon, and we’ve got 30+ years of accumulated stuff to either pack or get rid of.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that this move is a colossal effort. Dad’s only moving two doors down (into the house I live in, in fact), but we need to empty the flat and 3 cellars. Yes, three. He didn’t really give us any heads up that movers will move the first lot of stuff next Thursday – which is the busiest day of the month at work!! – and he currently can’t walk properly or lift much, so mum, my sister and I have been going through wardrobes and cupboards and sorting stuff out. So far, we’ve donated 10+ bags of clothes, towels, and plush toys to charity for the refugee houses in town. We’ve thrown away boxes and boxes and probably dozens of bags worth of broken things, outdated things, school work and knick-knack nobody will ever need again.

But that’s not all. I’m actually keeping part of my childhood room furniture. It’s still in tact, it doesn’t look dated, and I’m in need of a proper wardrobe and a desk I can actually work on. So I will need to clear out my own bedroom, move the shelves I currently use as a makeshift wardrobe, and sort out my own cellar too. The one I’m currently using is filled with stuff belonging to my dad and sister, plus a few of my own boxes. I finally got my own cellar today, so we’ve put up a shelf and cleared out all those empty boxes of gadgets we no longer own and all the stuff my sister won’t keep. We’ve filled a whole garage with rubbish we’ll need to take to the tip when it’s open next week. That leaves me with moving my stuff across to my new cellar and making space in my flat to rearrange the furniture. It’s a mess. On the plus side, I’m going through my parents’ home library as dad won’t be taking many of his books with him. Unfortunately the ones I’m most interested in – mainly by Grisham, Le Carré, Clancy, Hailey and a few assorted others – are the ones dad wants to keep. I did find a few that I’ve been able to add to my own home library, though, especially more Agatha Christie, Dürrenmatt, and a collection of world literature.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I feel like a failure. I said in a previous Weekend Coffee Share that I would be applying to PhD programmes. Well… deadline for research proposal submission was Feb 1 and I didn’t get mine done in time. Mainly due to the moving and sorting stuff out business. I’ve been way too stressed to research properly, wasn’t given the peace and quiet I need to work on this. But I’m also proud. When I realised I wouldn’t make the deadline, I stopped worrying. I actually took a step back and said “I’m taking a break from this” instead of stressing to the last minute. I didn’t want to hand in anything that rushed, and I wouldn’t have been able to save the proposal in those last 3 hours. So I decided to stop there for the moment, and once the move is dealt with, I’ll go back to researching properly, take my time formulating the question better, find more literature, and contact students and alumni of the programme(s) I want to do and talk to faculty. There’s no point handing in something this important if it’s half-arsed. I’d rather do it properly, even if it means waiting a year for my chance, than hand in something I’m not happy with right on deadline. I’m still disappointed, though. I’m not usually a quitter, so this feels like I let myself down, though I know that the stress around me, in combination with bad episodes of my SAD, has made it hard for me to function properly this winter. Who knows, though, maybe I’ll have published my thesis by the time the deadline comes around again – my professor keeps urging me to find a respected and peer-reviewed journal to publish in.

If we were having coffee today, I’d talk more about books. Just yesterday, I received 4 signed books all the way from BookPeople in Austin, Texas. Moonglow by Michael Chabon, The Girls by Emma Cline, Swing Time by Zadie Smith and The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden. The latter is even made out to me! BookPeople has rapidly become my favourite bookstore, even though international shipping isn’t cheap. They host dozens of author events, readings and signings per month, and even if you’re too far away to attend, if you order the book before the event and let them know you’d like it signed, they’ll get it signed for you no extra charge. You can even ask for personalisations, though those are at the author’s discretion (Katherine Arden was happy to personalise, Zadie Smith wasn’t but that’s fine!). The events are usually close to the release dates of the books, so chances are you might even get a Signed First Edition! And they’ll keep a few signed copies in stock, so as long as it’s listed as a signed book on the website and you ask for a signed copy, you’ll get one! Moonglow and The Bear and the Nightingale are both signed firsts! I’ve already ordered for an event in March, because I don’t want to get to the end of the month and discover my money doesn’t quite stretch that far anymore. Because on March 1, they’ll be hosting V.E. Schwab, the author of the Shades of Magic series. I’m currently reading it and can’t wait for book 3, A Conjuring of Light. I knew I’d order it from them and ask for a personalised signature. So I emailed the shop, asking if it was at all possible to get all three books in the series signed if there’s time, and they checked and said that V.E. Schwab would be happy to sign all three. so yeah. Sometime in March I’ll have a complete signed set of the Shades of Magic series on its way to me! I love it. Books make me happy. And with signed books, I’ve finally found something really worth collecting.

Oh, my reviews are forthcoming. Once the big move is underway and I don’t need to sort boxes anymore I’ll resume the reviews. I’ve read a few really good books lately and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Anyway, I think this is enough to be getting on with. There’s more to tell you, as usual, but it’s getting late and I’ve got a busy schedule for the rest of the night and tomorrow.

Check out the other Weekend Coffee Sharers. I’m sure they’d love to see you too!

Thank you for having coffee with me. Same time, next week?

 

Day in literature, literary, day, birthday, author, book, holiday

Day in Literature: Burns Night

Today is the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns, celebrated in Scotland and around the world as Burns Night.

Having lived very close to the Scottish border and Burns’ home in Dumfries, I have actually witnessed Burns Night celebrations and attended Burns Supper before and I love the tradition.

Formal celebrations start with guests being greeted by a piper. There’s a welcome speech and the Scots language Selkirk Grace is said before dinner.

Dinner starts with soup, which is usually either Scotch Broth, potato soup, or Cock-A-Leekie. And then the main course: haggis!

This is such an important part, a bagpiper actually welcomes the haggis and accompanies it to the host’s table! The host then recites Burns’ Address to the Haggis:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my airm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An cut you up wi ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like onie ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.

Is there that ower his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
Oh how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if Ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

After a whisky toast, the haggis is served with tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnips). Afterwards, there are various other courses, including desserts like cranachan or tipsy laird, cheeses and coffee. And of course, more whisky.

Further toasts include the Immortal Memory commemorating the life and work of Robert Burns, the Address to the Lassies and the Reply to the Laddies.

Several of Robert Burns’ works are recited throughout the night, before the company is asked to stand, join hands, and join in a rendition of what is probably Burns’ best-known song: Auld Lang Syne.

I guess I’ll be cracking open a bottle of Scotch tonight. How about you?

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Favourite Plays

Top Ten Tuesday is the brainchild of The Broke & the Bookish. Every Tuesday, we compile a list of our literary Top 10, and then add it to the blog hop.

This week is all about our Top 10 FREEBIE – So I chose Top 10 Favourite Plays.

I am pretty sure I could fill this entire list with Shakespeare’s works, but here are some plays I saw live on stage or via National Theatre Live, and which blew me away!

Special mention to the below version of Richard III as directed by Jamie Lloyd for Trafalgar Transformed – this is the play and the adaptation (set in 1979 Britain after a military coup, with Martin Freeman as Richard III see my review HERE) that finally unlocked Shakespeare for me!

Weekend Coffee Share

If We Were Having Coffee… On Jan 22

Hello my lovely booklovers,

Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

Actually, it’s been two weeks since I saw you last. I am sorry for my absence last week but I was so busy that I did not get to sit down and write.

If we were having coffee today, we’d probably be very cold. It is -5°C here, but windchill makes it seem much colder. I’ll be happy to supply all the coffee, tea or cocoa you’d like to warm back up.

If we were having coffee today, I’d start to talk about the yesterday’s Women’s Marches all over the world. I loved seeing that outpouring of solidarity, and the crowds that took to the streets. I would have loved to join, but we’re prepping dad’s house move and we had to use the whole weekend to sort out the flat. But not being there in person does not mean I’m not there in spirit. I am with you, sisters! Always! There’s a German song by Die Ärzte called Deine Schuld (Your fault) and it has this line in it: “Go fill the streets again, go demonstrate, because those who don’t try to fight anymore can only lose. Those who are trying to screw you received votes, so let them hear your voice because every vote counts!” In light of the Women’s Marches, it should come as no surprise that my Bookstagram Book Recommendation for this weekend was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists.

If we were having coffee today, we’d inevitably talk about Trump’s inauguration. I still can’t believe that a dimwit narcissist like him now has nuclear launch codes. That’s a frightening thought. I watched parts of the inauguration, mainly because it was a trainwreck. You know the feeling. It’s bad, but you can’t look away. His inaugural address alone was of such poor linguistic and grammatical quality, it could have been written by a primary student. And don’t get me started on the all the hate he spreads. I am so glad to see people pushing back.

I somehow doubt Trump will meet his challenges with the class, respect and dignity the Obamas have shown throughout the last 8 years. Speaking of which… I don’t think I’ve ever shown you the photo I’m proudest of, have I? The picture I took in May 2007 in Reno, NV when I met Barack Obama – obviously before he became president – while doing a Visual communication & Photojournalism summer session at UNR Reno.

Then-Senator Barack Obama during a rally in Reno, Nevada. May 2007 ©Cornelia Kaufmann

Then-Senator Barack Obama during a rally in Reno, Nevada. May 2007 ©Cornelia Kaufmann

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that mum, my sister and I have spent all weekend sorting out dad’s flat. We all moved out, but we had kept some stuff behind. Mind you – my stuff amounted to a small box, a shopping bag, 3 folders and 3 board games, while mum’s stuff so far filled 10 (!) clothes donation bags for the Red Cross. And we’re not even done yet. It was weird going through all the drawers and cupboards in my childhood bedroom again, especially as none of it still contained proper traces that I used to live there. During the coming week, mum, dad and I have to sort all the books in the living room – my parents had a whole wall of shelves, each two rows of books deep, and we need to decide who gets which books and what to do with the rest (our literary tastes vary greatly).

My upcoming week is already shaping up to be another busy one. There will be lots of writing for my PhD Research proposal, reviews for this blog, applications, and normal blog posts, next to sorting flats and basements, getting on with reading and having various other appointments scheduled. I’d wish I could get some time to myself to relax and do nothing and just sit somewhere nice and warm.

Anyway, if we were having coffee today, I wouldn’t want to keep you much longer. Check out the other Weekend Coffee Sharers, I’m sure they’d love to see you.

Thank you for having coffee with me. Same time, next week?

Stationery Book Tag Blog Hop

Stationery Book Tag

If you know me, then you’ll know that I love stationery – I even worked in two different stationery stores! Well, both of those stores also had book sections in them, so, in a way, this post combines stationery and books and harks back to my early university days 10 years ago!

Book Tags are always fun and the lovely Holly @ Nut Free Nerd has tagged me in the Stationery Book Tag!  Thank you so much for tagging me!

But how does it work??

  • Thank the creator: Sam @ RiverMooseReads, Thank you!
  • Answer the questions.
  • Add pictures! (If you want to)
  • Tag (about) 5 people.

Q & A

Pencil: Favourite Children’s Books

Having grown up in Germany, one of my childhood favourites has always been Das kleine Gespenst (The Little Ghost) by Otfried Preußler! It’s the story of a kind ghost who’d like nothing more than to see daylight instead of haunting his castle at midnight. But when he does manage to wake up at noon he meets humans – and nothing goes according to plan.

 


Pens: A Basic Staple for Every Reader

Definitely The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien!It’s one of those books I think everybody should read, and it’s suitable for children and adults alike. There’s just something about growing up with stories about Middle-Earth, hobbits, dwarves and dragons that does wonders for your imagination.

 


Notebooks: Books you own multiple copies of

As a bilingual, I own many books in English and German editions. Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera is one of those books. It was the first book I bought in New Zealand, on my second day of school in Auckland, because it was our required text. It has become one of my favourite books over the last 14 years.

 


Markers: Books with beautiful covers

The picture really doesn’t do the cover of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley any justice. What looks like dirty yellow on the picture is really more golden, the octopus and smaller details are bright green, even the page edges are tinted green and the cover also has a cutout where the fob watch is, continuing on the layer below. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

 


Glue: Two characters that work together, even if they aren’t together

Possibly the best literary friendship EVER has to be between Mr Sherlock Holmes and Dr John H. Watson in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Not only are these two the oddest roommates you’ll ever see, their individual skill sets complement each other and they’re friendship and work relationship as consulting detectives lasted more than 40 years. They even retired together. If those are not Best Friend Goals, I don’t know what are!


Scissors: What Book Would you like to Destroy

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh is probably one of the worst books I have ever read. To date, it is the only book I only gave a one star review. Incredibly boring and drawn-out, with a thoroughly unpleasant main character and a plot that only really starts on the last 20 pages, this is one book I regret reading. I wish I could have that time I wasted back to read something more worthwhile.

 


Art Kit: What completed Series do you own

I own many completed series, but the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is my favourite of the lot. I also own it in my two main languages  – English and German – and it is one of my go-to book series whenever I’m down. I was 11 when I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, so I really have grown up with them and gone to Hogwarts in their year. Returning to Hogwarts is like coming home.

 


Tagged Bloggers

Leann @ LM Creative

Melissa @ Readerly Geek

Candace & Erika @ Literary Dust

Theresa @ The Calico Books

Nat @ An Aussie Bookworm

 

So tell me: What would you answer to these questions? Let me know in the comments!

What It Is // Was Es Ist

A certain scene in last night’s episode of Sherlock, “The Lying Detective,” reminded me a lot of one of my favourite poems by Erich Fried. The line is “It is what it is.”

What it is  – by Erich Fried

It is madness says reason.
It is what it is says love.

It is unhappiness says calculation.
It is nothing but pain says fear.
It has no future says insight.
It is what it is says love.

It is ridiculous says pride.
It is foolish says caution.
It is impossible says experience.

It is what it is says love.

//  //  //

Was es ist – von Erich Fried

Es ist Unsinn sagt die Vernunft.
Es ist was es ist sagt die Liebe.

Es ist Unglück sagt die Berechnung.
Es ist nichts als Schmerz sagt die Angst.
Es ist aussichtslos sagt die Einsicht.
Es ist was es ist sagt die Liebe.

Es ist lächerlich sagt der Stolz.
Es ist leichtsinnig sagt die Vorsicht.
Es ist unmöglich sagt die Erfahrung.

Es ist was es ist sagt die Liebe.

 

Now, I am not saying that the scene in Sherlock is about romantic love, but at the very least it is about offering comfort and a deep appreciation of friendship.

Continue reading

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, is a gripping read full of magic and mystery.

There are four distinct worlds, some full of magic, some almost devoid of it – and the only thing these worlds have in common is London. Once upon a time, travel between the four worlds was possible and frequent. These days, only the Antari – a rare people born with magic in their blood – can travel between the worlds and serve as liaisons and messengers for the rulers of the four Londons.

The world-building in this novel is extraordinary. At first glance the idea seems simple, four versions of the city of London stacked on top of each other. But each comes with its own culture, customs, names for landmarks and language, which makes the set up really quite complex.

Black London was the most powerful of all, brimming with magic until it turned destructive and its portals were closed off. White London has barely any resources left, including magic, making its sibling rulers brutal and power-hungry in a cold world. Grey London is mundane and its magic is scarce. It is also the most recognisable London for its resemblance of the real London in our world. And then there is Red London, a warm place in which magic is still abundant and which is home to an Antari named Kell, who moves between the worlds in his official capacity as royal messenger – as well as for his side-business as a smuggler of other-worldly trinkets.

Until he unknowingly takes a token across the worlds that contains a magic not seen in centuries and which could destroy everything he has ever known. His troubles really start, however, when the street-smart Grey London thief Delilah Bard decides to pick the wrong pocket.

Lila is a delightful character. She’s savvy and fierce, stubborn, adventurous, longing for freedom, and doesn’t mind giving the men-folk hell. So tagging along with a traveller like Kell is her ticket to the world. Lila’s perspective proves ideal for the reader, as Lila is just as wide-eyed and experiencing new worlds that are just as unknown to her as they are to the audience. The characters of Kell and Lila are incredibly layered and polar opposites of each other. Combined with the amazing magical worlds they inhabit, they make for a very compelling and intriguing story.

A Darker Shade of Magic is a story that draws you in immediately and keeps you under its spell.

 

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” – Delilah Bard

 

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Pages: 400
ISBN:  978-1783295401