Too bloody blonde

I like to think that I am pretty clever.

I mean, I find my way around new situations quite easily, changed my field of profession without problems and even taught myself some new skills like basic coding and (even more basic) photography.

 

Reading recently
Reading recently

 

There are some days though when I feel as if this fridge magnet perfectly describes me:

 

So Bloody Blonde

 

Trying to find a solution for annoyances in daily life, building complicated ways around something while completely ignoring the obvious and easy way any sane person would take.

Case in point? Reading.

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Recent Reads – Mr. Penumbras 24 hours book store

If you are unfamiliar with the „Recent Reads“ series, click here for an explanation.
Short story even shorter: I tell you about books I have recently read (came as quite a surprise, regarding the title, hm?)

Reading essentials

Now that fall is here and the weather has been cold and grey again, I have been in the mood for tea, a blanket and a good book.
Not that I mind a good book all year round, the one I will be talking about today was read throughout the height of summer, but reading when the rain is pouring outside is my idea of a cozy evening.

Mr. Penumbra´s 24 hour book store is one I picked because of the cover from my Skoobe library (I have since cancelled my membership as I was disappointed with the selection they offer) and once again enjoyed a lot.
It was written by Robin Sloan, a 36 year old american writer and IT business engineer, currently living in San Francisco.

Mr. Penumbra´s 24 hours book store



The topic:
Former web designer and long-time roleplaying nerd Clay Jannon starts working the night shift at a very strange 24 hours book store. What is meant to be a filler job to pay the rent fastly becomes a fascinating puzzle:
What is hidden in the „forbidden books section“ he isn’t allowed to touch?
Who are the strange customers that seem to use the books in there to solve an ancient mystery?
And what does it need to get the attention of Kat, good-looking and fiercly intelligent Google girl?

Relying on his former RPG role as rogue he gathers his missing party members (fighter and mage) and ventures deep into a secret society, relying on the modern magic of Google and the WWW to investigate their secrets.

Did I like it?
Yes.
One thing you may not yet know about me is that I have been playing RPG since I turned 14, and even now, a grown-up woman aged 36, I still meet up with some friends once a month to throw some dice and imagine I am a magician.
This book combines mystery, books and roleplaying adventures, and it does in the best possible way. Before you think that only fellow nerds out there will appreciate it (I know some of you are), rest assured that it is a book that even someone who hasn’t read the „Dragonlance“ chronicles (they play an important role in solving the riddle) will enjoy.
Despite dealing with the topics of friendship, eternal life and the growing belief that the internet provides the answer to all our questions, leading us to rely too much on Google and too little on our personal experience, it is an easy read, but one that will leave you with food for thoughts and appreciation of the everyday magic around you.

Who do I recommend it to?
Fellow RPGlers, obviously.
Anyone looking for some adventure in their everyday life. You know it is there, hidden beneath something as boring as your day to day job!
Anyone interested to learn more about how Google actually works. The book provides interesting insight into work flow and the companies ideas.

Anyone else read this one before? How do you feel about it?
And who has tried RPGs (be it classic or computer based) before?

MerkenMerken


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Recent Reads – „The summer we all ran away“ by Cassandra Parkin

If you are unfamiliar with the „Recent Reads“ series, click here for an explanation.
Short story even shorter: I tell you about books I have recently read (came as quite a surprise, regarding the title, hm?)

Reading Essentials

This months book is one from the „Pick one random from the Skoobe library“- Category.
I chose it because it was only available in English (so exclusive!) and I liked the picture on the cover.
Talking about an eclectic taste in books…

Meet „The summer we all ran away“ by Cassandra Parkin, published in August 2013.

The summer we all ran away (Picture Source)

The topic:
Domestic violence, coming out, feeling rejected and loosing faith, these are the things you will read about.
Sounds like a depressing, sad, and uncomfortable read?
Well, it isn’t.
In fact it is a page turner, leaving you with a warm feeling and the renewed belief that there is a place for everyone in this world and that things do fall in place in the end, no matter how grim they looked before.

It is impossible to tell you much about the story without giving things away, so I will keep it very short:
Davey, aged 19, flees his violent stepfather and ends up in a strange manor, welcomed by a bunch of other people who live there, never talk about their past and have all been led to this place by a picture of said house.
Where do they all come from?
Why are there so many hidden chambers no one is allowed to enter?
And what is hiding in the woods?

Two stories are told, one focussing on Davey and one dealing with things that happened there several years before he arrived.
Of course they come together in the end, solving the mystery of the manor, but until they do, you are given pieces of a puzzle, one by one, and desperately trying to figure out what will happen next.

Did I like it?
Yes. I started reading it one night and finished it the next, because I just couldn’t stop.
The book left me in tears, made me smile and had me waking Mr. Loca in the middle of the night just to tell him how much I loved him.
Or rephrased in „Youth Talk“ (as this is supposed to be coming-of-age literature): Giving me all the feels!

You see, sometimes taking chances is worth it!
If I were left with the task to categorize this book, it would be hard. Yes, there is Mystery, but it isn’t Fantasy. It is appropriate for Teens (and one of the books I would encourage my daughter to read), but I am way beyond my coming-of-age-years and truly enjoyed it.

So who do I recommend it to?
Anyone.
If you are feeling sad, read it and see that there is still hope.
If you are happy, read it and loose yourself in other peoples way through the dark.
If you are bored, try and solve the case of the lost owner.
If you are into Fantasy, read it and try to figure out what is lurking in the woods.
Or, bottom line:
Just read it. You won’t regret it.

Anyone else out there sharing my love for this book?
And what was your latest read?

MerkenMerken


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Recent Reads – „The Goldfinch“ by Donna Tart

If you are unfamiliar with the „Recent Reads“ series, click here for an explanation.
Short story even shorter: I tell you about books I have recently read (came as quite a surprise, regarding the title, hm?)

Reading essentials

 

The book I want to share with you this month is one I picked up on a recommendation of another blogger. Actually, Ruth Crilly from A model recommends didn’t quite recommend it, but said that she was reading it and found it to be dragging at times, but I decided to pick it up anyway.
And I am glad, I did.
I have read Donna Tart in the past and really liked her writing, and with this book winning the Purlitzer Award 2014, it was an obvious choice.
Cover, German version

 

The topic:
The books main character, Theodore, looses his mother to an explosion while visiting the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Right before the tragic event he was distracted by a girl, Pippa, visiting with her grandfather.
I don’t want to give anything away, in case you are planning on reading it yourself, so let´s just say that after that event, Theodores and Pippas lifes are connected, and that this connection is symbolized by the picture of „The Goldfinch“ Theodore unwillingly steals from the museum.The story is the story of a boy being severely traumatized by loosing his mother, the person he relates to the most, getting no chance to work through this and the deep confusion that accompanies him way into his adult life.
It is a story of hurting the people that really mean well and trusting the ones that don’t, just because you desperately need someone to cling to. And about those people that hurt and deceive you despite caring deeply about you.
And it is a story about developing an attitude to morality based on your experiences that is way different than the one the average reader will have, without being a genuinely bad person.
In conclusion, it is a sad and thought inducing story, making you question which person you would have become if your life had been different from what it was.

Did I like it?
Yes.
It is a long read, and if you are stressed or in a hurry, it maybe isn’t the right book for you. Donna Tart takes her time, showing the struggle and confusion Theodore goes through without rushing to a (happy) ending, so I can see where the above mentioned „dragging“ came from.
But to be honest, I think the slow pace adds to the atmosphere of the book, so I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Another thing to keep in mind is this: Theodore isn’t a main character you completely sympathize with. He is hurt and confused and sometimes a pain in the b**t.
To me, seeing the happy and innocent boy turn into a twisted man making questionable choices was painful, but felt right. If I imagine going through the things he went through, staying integre and sane would probably have been too much to ask.I like the kind of books that can make me cry, and especially the kind of books that will have me musing about life and people way longer than I actually read them.
Of course, having a daughter myself added another dimension. I keep wondering what experiences she will make and how they will shape her into the person she is going to be.
And I know that even if I try my hardest, I won’t be able to keep loss and hurt away from her, same as my parents couldn’t keep them away from me.
Because that is life.

Now before I burst into tears once again (I swear, those pregnancy hormones never stop working), please tell me if you have read this book and if so, what you thought of it.
And, in addition: Do you pick books because they have won prizes or don’t you care?

MerkenMerken


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Recent Reads – „Skinny Bitch“ by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

If you are unfamiliar with the „Recent Reads“ series, click here for an explanation.
Short story even shorter: I tell you about books I have recently read (came as quite a surprise, regarding the title, hm?)

This time I will share with you a book I picked from my Skoobe library when I was bored.
I picked it because I am quite into healthy eating, it said it was „life-changing“ and a „New York Times Bestseller“ and because I wanted a break from reading fiction.

Reading Essentials

The title itself is quite explicit: „Skinny Bitch – The truth about crappy diets, fat women and good looks“.

The topic as described by Amazon:
Not your typical boring diet book, this is a tart-tongued, no-holds barred wakeup call to all women who want to be thin. With such blunt advice as „Soda is liquid Satan“ and „You are a total moron if you think the Atkins Diet will make you thin“, it is a rallying car for all savvy women to start eating healthy and looking radiant.
Unlike standard diet books, it actually makes the reader laugh out loud with its truthful, smart-mouthed revelations. Behind all the attitude, however, there is solid guidance.

Source: Amazon

The topic as I see it:
Definitely not your typical diet book.
The authors, a model/nutritionist and the owner of a model company, share their view on healthy food, eating meat and diet myths using a language meant to be „girlfriend talk“, but in my eyes borderline offensive.

Did I like it:
No.
For several reasons.

If any of my girlfriends would use this kind of language while speaking to me (or anyone else in my presence), we would have some serious talk afterwards.
The only place I have heard people talk to each other like this is during trash TV shows where people are payed to yell at each other about having sex with their neighbors dog (not an actual topic – I hope! – but you get the point)
If you want to draw attention to your topic, try using the topic, not abusive language.

Going the same way is the whole chapter about eating meat.
Yes, I am well aware of the way animals are treated before they end up being consumed by humans, and yes, it is an important topic that gets way to little publicity.
I am living pescetarian myself 95% of the time, and I salute everyone who has decided to go fully vegan.
But for one thing: Being vegetarian/vegan is NOT about weight loss.
And for another thing: Reading the descriptions they gave in this chapter made me actually gag.
And I am by no means a sensible soul when it comes to written content or violence.
This may be the way it is, but again: Let the topic speak for itself. No need to traumatize a teenager reading your book!

Putting all this aside, just focusing on the facts included, I still have complaints.
The authors do have some good points, like: Stay away from refined sugar, Complex carbs aren’t as bad as some people tell you and Eat more vegetables, but they go on mixing this with things that are simply and utterly wrong!
It is NOT TRUE that eating too much protein will injure your kidneys. Fact is, if your kidneys are injured, they can’t excrete the protein as well as they used to, so you should watch your protein intake then.
And this is just one example.

Now I am lucky to know a good share about nutrition and human bodies myself, so I can filter facts from myths and maybe get some useful information from reading it. But for the average reader, who is neither nutritionist nor physician, and probably from a younger audience, there are some dangerous misconceptions hidden in there.

So if I started living by these rules, I would probably get skinnier.
If I were as strict about cutting out refined sugar, I would probably get healthier.
But if I had to cope with this language any longer, I would for sure become a bitch!

MerkenMerken


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Recent Reads – „A person of interest“ by Susan Choi

When I went through my bloglovin feed earlier this year, a lot of people shared their New Years Resolutions.
And apart from working out and sticking to their blogging schedule, the one thing that popped up over and over again was:
Read more!

Whether it was one book a month, a list of classics, or, more You Tube appropriate, reading along with Essiebutton´s „Buttons Bookshelf“ video series, almost everyone was entitled to reading.

I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. And even though I read less books (and way more blogs) than I used to, there is still a long list I recently read.

Reading essentials

The most difficult thing is deciding which books to read.
Many times I read anything my mother gives me. I know and share her taste in books and thus blindly rely on her recommendations.
On other times, I follow blog recommendations. This one is trial and error, but sooner or later you´ll find someone who prefers the same things you do.
And if I am out of both, and stuck in NZ in a Camper-van, just randomly picking one from my „Skoobe“ library will do. This one is more error than trial, but at least the book came for free.

To save you some boring reads, I thought I´d share my experiences with you and take advantage from your recommendations in the comments.
It is all about empowering each other to stick to your resolutions, right?

The first installment features „A person of interest“ by Susan Choi, a contemporary american author, published in 2008.

(Image Source), German Version



The topic:
Professor Lee, main character and professor of mathematics, leads a secluded and lonesome life. When his office neighbor and shooting star faculty member Professor Hendley is victim of a bomb attack, he slowly turns from innocent bystander to suspect and experiences the full impact of distrust and defamation.
And while the reader knows from start to finish that he was not involved in the bomb attack, the things he has done in the past are slowly revealed, and it becomes obvious that he is guilty in a completely different way.

This book deals with several topics.
One is the way our society has changed after 9/11, and how easy weird behavior can be mistaken for proof of guilt.
Another is the struggle of people leaving the place they were born to live somewhere else, trying to understand values and behaviors completely alien to the ones they grew up with.
Last but not least, it describes the way we sometimes hurt the people we love the most, blinded by something we so firmly believe that we are unable to see what we are doing. And how important it is to forgive and let go.


Did I like it?
Yes.
It isn’t exactly a page turner, nor is it an easy read on the go. But the question what really had happened kept me on my toes from start to (slightly predictable) finish.

Now I would like to say that I picked this one because the changes in society after 9/11 is a topic I am really interested in (I am) or that I wanted to read the first novel translated to german by Susan Choi (she won some prizes for her first two, after all), but truth is, my mother gave it to me and I had no clue what I was reading until I was about half way finished.
Thanks, Mum!

How about you:
Did you read this one, or another one from Susan Choi?
What kind of read do you prefer?
Should I keep up this kind of post or does it bore you to death?


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