Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Hidden Gems I’ve Read In The Past Year

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 Hidden Gems I’ve Read In The Past Year.

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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

If We Were Having Coffee… On Jan 7

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?

Can you believe we’re already a week into the year 2017?? I rang it in last Sunday with the Season 4 premiere of Sherlock and O.M.G. my poor babies! That show is brilliant and devastating in equal measures. It continues tomorrow and I have already ordered the DVD. Did / Do you watch Sherlock? What did you think? I have so many theories after The Six Thatchers!

If we were having coffee today, we’d sit inside, wrap up warm in blankets, and sip hot beverages. I got my new Senseo coffee maker working, so I am offering coffee, hot cocoa and tea. It’s -5°C outside and the streets and pavements are covered in black ice – I actually had to hold on to the picket fence in front of the house, grab the concrete bin boxes and lastly crawl across the driveway on my hands and knees so I wouldn’t fall again, because I’ve already landed on my behind once today. We’re halfway up a hill, and the driveway is split into a level entrance and a basement parking structure, so the top of that ramp is incredibly slippery. Unfortunately, it’s also right outside my door. My fingers were burning it was so cold, and my coat stuck to the metal of the bin box doors.

Have you read any books yet? I have joined the Goodreads Reading Challenge and set myself a goal of 70 books this year. I have read Ajax Penumbra 1969, which I loved, and I am currently reading A Darker Shade of Magic and listening to How the Marquis got his Coat back. So far, I have been asked by one author to review their book (which I will do next), and I have purchased a few books from an indie bookstore in the US that not only stocks signed copies, but also organises readings and signings. Two of the books will hopefully be personalised next week when the authors hold their readings there. I’m also making an effort to support more of my Nanohana (the FB NaNoWriMo family of writers) and my first NaNo book of 2017 will be Grae Beginnings by the lovely Ronnie (R.R. Virdi). Have I mentioned that it’s not hoarding, when it concerns books?

My plan for 2017 is to review everything as soon as I’ve read it – and I am still playing catch-up with the reviews I know I should have posted in 2016. Those will be back-dated and should be going live on this blog oer the next few weeks.

Writing-wise, I have quite a few little projects in general this year:

  • book reviews and posts for this blog
  • a recipe collection (preserve gran’s recipes)
  • a novel (NaNoWriMo?)
  • a new research proposal

Yes. A new research proposal! And I will have to write this very quickly, as my deadline is Feb 1. That’s because I have decided that I want to continue my studies and hopefully start the journey towards a PhD. There’s a university about 2 hours from here that offers an international PhD programme focusing on cultural and literary studies, which sounds perfect to me. And I even had an offer that, should I get the place, my tuition fees will be paid for me (for a private source, though it’s just €300 per semester, so not that bad). We also have friends in the university’s town, so I might be able to stay with them until I find my own place or they could at least help me orientate myself there. BUT, deadline for the October 2017 start is February 1, so I don’t have much time to prepare. I’m a bit worried, because it all stresses me out. Getting my M.A. while battling mental health issues was hard, and feel a bit overwhelmed with the idea of doing it again. But at the same time, I’m good at research, and by moving away I will get a bit of distance from everything here which should help me a lot. I’ll also be starting hypnotherapy on the 17th, so I hope that this time around I will be better-equipped- Having said that, I DID graduate summa cum laude, so I didn’t do too bad, it was just hard. I have no idea where even to start with going about it all – applying for a PhD in Germany is not as straight forward as applying for other degrees is. I’ll be reaching out to current students next week to get a feel for the programme and how they applied. Fingers crossed!

Despite that, I am still looking for a new job. The problem is, I never know what job titles to look for. I need to sit down with my sister at some point – she’s a pro at getting good results from job sites.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I am starting a proper effort to lose a considerable amount of weight and get fit again. Not only do I have to fit into a (decent sized and emphasised at the waist) knee-length Rockabilly-style Maid of Honour dress by October, I also want to improve my health and flexibility. So I’m doing DDP Yoga, I’ve had a food intolerance test done and will avoid quite a few things like dairy, wheat and yeast in the future, and I have joined weight watchers. Between all of those, I hope I can get closer to my goal.

If we were having coffee today, that’d be it from me. It’s got even colder outside, so be careful on your way to the other Weekend Coffee Sharers! Take care out there!

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

 

Day in Literature: Sherlock Holmes’ Birthday

According to the stories, today is the birthday of none other than the world’s most famous consulting detective: Mr Sherlock Holmes!

Thanks to his colleague and roommate, Dr John H. Watson, we know that the birthday boy is 163 years young today, as he is reported to have been born on January 6, 1854. While he himself is not big on social conventions, I am sure that between them, John Watson, Mrs Hudson and DI Greg Lestrade can convince Sherlock to have a piece of cake in celebration.

Happy birthday, my dear Sherlock!

Looking younger by the day 🙂

 

 

Review: Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan

There has always been a little obscure bookstore hidden amidst the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. Ajax Penumbra 1969 tells the story of recent college graduate Ajax Penumbra, who is working to acquire rare and occult books, and how he discovered the shop that would one day become Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

In this short novella, Ajax Penumbra is sent to California to try and find a mysterious book. Local, historic tidbits, engaging characters and a literary mystery add flavour to the story and keep readers turning the pages. For bibliophiles, the story includes many nods to the San Francisco literary scene, name-dropping bookshops like City Lights and its associated beatnik authors.

But the little bookstore Ajax stumbles in one night quite by chance is different from any he has seen. A popular hangout with local hippies at all hours of the day or night, it appears to be a normal, small, contemporary bookshop. But owner Mo and his clerk Corvina seem to know a lot more about rare books than they let on, and bit by bit, Penumbra gets drawn into the history of the store, the members-only books, and the secrets held on the high book stacks in the back of the shop.

The story finds the balance between literature and the emerging super-computers of the 1960s. Penumbra’s former college roommate is a big player in the world of computers and their friendship lets both of them see that rare, occult tomes and modern technology are not at odds at all.

Ajax Penumbra 1969 gives valuable insight into the character of Penumbra, especially if you are already familiar with Robin Sloan’s novel. Even as a standalone it is an intriguing read, albeit seemingly too short if you ignore the continuation in Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

Penumbra, just like the little hidden-away bookstore, will keep you coming back for more to get to the bottom of the mysteries held within the depths and heights of the store’s book stacks.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Title: Ajax Penumbra 1969
Author: Robin Sloan
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Release Date: June 5, 2014
Pages: 99
ISBN:  978-1782395171

If We Were Having Coffee… On New Year’s 2017

Hello my lovely booklovers,

and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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?

If we were having coffee today, I’d invite you to have a nice hot cuppa with me, testing out my new Senseo which my family gave me for Christmas. They also got me about 9 different types of coffee, so we’d have lots to choose from, including hot cocoa. I can also make you tea (again, loads of flavours). It’s a crisp, clear day here in Germany, blue skies but about -3°C – if you’re up for it, I’d suggest wrapping up warm, grabbing our coffees and spending some time in the garden to enjoy the fresh air and clear our heads for the year ahead.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I have a lot planned for 2017, chief amongst those plans is to finally establish a proper posting schedule for reviews on this blog. Others include getting fit, writing more, changing jobs, possibly continuing my studies, and doing more for my mental health by making time to be creative.

And I am done apologising for being me. So from now on, I will be completely unapologetic and unashamed of my geekiness. I’m proud to be a geek girl, a reader, a writer, a lover of magical realism, fantasy, sci-fi, who gets obsessed with TV shows and characters and actors and likes to talk about all the things that interest me. 

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I am challenging myself to read 70 books this year. I’m not going to go by themes this time, though. I currently own 733 books and I still have to read a few of them. And I actually already started. I decided to stay up after getting home from the New Year’s Eve celebrations and I started and finished reading Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan, the prequel to Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Let’s see how many books I can get through this year.

If we were having coffee today, we’d talk about the return of Sherlock tonight. I can’t wait, it’s been 3 years since the last full season. As a major fan of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, and having a literary crush on John Watson (which only intensified when they cast one of my favourite actors Martin Freeman to play him) I am so excited to see what the Baker Street Boys will get up to next.

Thank you for starting your year by having coffee with me! Check out the other Weekend Coffee Sharers as well, though!

Same time, next week?