Monday, March 30, 2015

Holy Week Post - Religious (or Religious-ish) Books on my To Be Read List

Hi everyone, just wanted to let you know that this week on the blog is going to be a unique one. For Christians all around the world this week is Holy Week, where the death and resurrection of Christ is celebrated/observed. I'm a Christian so I am also celebrating/observing this week. I thought I'd take the opportunity to make my celebrations/observation reach to the blog too. 

Here's a couple of books (among the many others) on my TBR. Anyone read any of these? Any I should add? (Click on covers to go to their goodreads page)


There's been a lot of talk about the high pressure and expectations that we put on ourselves lately. I saw this and thought that it might be a good reminder for me!


This book was written by the brother of famous (recently-ish deceased) atheist Christopher Hitchens. I thought it could be an interesting perspective. My library had this, someone lost it, and it hasn't been replaced yet. Argh!


First of all, meow cover. You foxy. Also it's about CS Lewis so obviously I'm in. Jamie at Books and Beverages just did an interview with the author and he was great!


I keep trying to win this book through a Goodreads giveaway. (I used to win those things all the time and now I never do. I don't understand. I always read and reviewed what I won...Anyway). Thought this book would be fun because it talks about travel too!


I've heard about this author a lot but not actually read anything by her. I like the sub title, so many days roll by that I think are just blah, so this might help me appreciate more.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Living Abroad- "How to Be Danish" by Patrick Kingsley (Denmark)

Usually when I do a Living Abroad post, it's about someone who moves to a new country and their floundering around as they adjust to a place much different than their own. Slight change in the formula today! This book centers on what it is exactly to be Danish, or how to be Danish, as the title says. This is a complicated country, I tell you what. But it's also interesting because some of the struggles that they have are the same struggles a lot of European countries are having. So let's get in on it!

To be Danish you have to: ride a bike. And not just for exercise or as a Sunday jaunt through the country. Your bike is your car, especially in Copenhagen. According to the book 1/3 of Copenhagers cycle to work. There's even a blog called Copenhagen Cycle Chic which highlights how good these people can look and STILL  bike to work. (It helps that, square mileage wise, Copenhagen isn't large).

To be Danish you have to: pay a lot of taxes. Like, an incomprehensible amount, to this American. It can be up to 60% of your annual income (we will talk about what that get's you in a minute). "80% of Danes pay 1% to the Church" even if they aren't necessarily religious.There's also a 25% VAT tax, and "high levies on commodities like cars (180%! )". A 25% tax on food makes eating out a rare treat.

To be Danish you have: a government that subsidies a lot of things. Childcare, education, health care are all subsided to some degree. There is also a lot of help for people who need it through programs like welfare. However, there seems to be a cultural shift away from so much welfare support because of incidences of extreme abuse, and the fact there are more people pulling out of it than putting into it so there are questions of sustainability. So you're paying a lot in taxes but you're getting a good chunk of it back in different ways.

To be Danish you: might sometimes be at a loss to deal with your new immigrant population. (I'm sure there are a lot of Danes who personally welcome new diversity with wide open arms, but it seems like as a whole there is some growing pains, perhaps).Integration seems to be a hot topic but what about when people don't want to integrate? This is obviously not an exclusively Danish problem.

(OBVIOUSLY not all people from Denmark ride a bike, or follow any of these other rules. Just a little disclaimer)

So Denmark, it sounds really nice but also really expensive and I'm not a very good bike rider. I'm especially not a good bike rider in a skirt and heels, but I am super impressed by those that are! I wish there was a book like this for every country! Kind of a weirdly specific read, but if you love Denmark or really focused books this could be for you! 3 out of 5 stars!

Also, fun  cover!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Form Letter for a Book Review Request: A Dream

Everyone who has blogged for any length of time has a story about a terrible review request from an author or a publisher. I was talking with T of Traveling with T about this the other day, because I feel like she gets a lot of doozies. (The most recent one someone used "plz" instead of "please" in a request. Oy. It's an email. There's no character limit. Feel free to actually spell.)

There have been several great posts on this topic and I really hope that people who send review requests are reading them. Here is my humble offering. (In a perfect world, we'd all have individual personalized pitches pitched to us, but this is not a perfect world. Let's just make do).

I joked that I was going to make a good form letter and sell it to people to fund my travels. (Joking, sort of.) But really as a public service, here it is.

(Publisher/not author version)

Dear _________ (This should be the human being who runs the blog's name, not the name of the blog.)

My name is ___________ and I'm representing _________ and their new book ____________. When I was reading (blog name) I saw that you're a fan of (genre or other author or other book). I think that you will really enjoy (book) because it has a lot of the same elements that (genre or other author) employs. (If you want to be super awesome throw in a personal something here like: "Loved your review of /some book/, I loved that book myself"!)  I understand that your time is valuable and that there are many great books waiting on your to-be-read list; however if  (book name) sounds like something you would enjoy, and maybe review, please email me back and I will get you a copy.

Here is a summary of (book's name) and (author's name) social media information if you'd like to learn more.

Thank you so much for your time!
(Persons name)

Short, easy, personal. Right?

(author version)

Dear _________ (This should be the human being who runs the blog's name, not the name of the blog.)

My name is ___________ and I'm writing to you about my new book  ________________. When looking through your blog, I saw that you're a fan of ___________; and because of that I think you'd really enjoy my book! (If you want to be super awesome throw in a personal something here like: "Loved your review of /some book/, I loved that book myself"!)  I understand that your time is valuable and that there are many great books waiting on your to-be-read list; however if  (book name) sounds like something you would enjoy, and maybe review, please email me back and I will get you a copy.

Here is a summary of (book's name) and my social media information if you'd like to learn more.

Thank you so much for your time!

(Person's name)

An email like that would definitely give me more pause and make me consider something that has been obviously copied and paste. Obviously good spelling and grammar and correct information and link should all be givens.

So simple, yet so difficult for some people. You're = you are. Come on people!

What should be added or deleted from these letters? Is this a useless pipe dream and should we all just move on?

UPDATE: T got another terrible one today!

@whoffs :) :) got another doozy of a request- title, pg #, open to interview, but no info about book. Ai yay yi, ppl!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: "The Countess' Captive" by Andrea Cefalo (HFVB)

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Remember where we left Adelaide in "Fairy Tale Keeper's Daughter"? The second book picks up right where we left off!

Adelaide, her father, and Galadriel are off to G's estate. They are homeless, and if anyone finds out Adelaide's actions on the night the cathedral burned down they will be fugitives in a whole heap of trouble too. The journey to the new estate is long. (I think the whole book takes place in time about a month or month and a half).

(This book also made me appreciate the fact that I can just get in my car and drive for long periods in relative comfort. I have heat, I have air conditioning, I have a radio station playing the same 9 songs, I have an occasional McDonalds stop for french fries and bladder emptying. This group would have probably died of thankfulness for just one or two of those things.)

After a couple of trials and tribulations (and a maybe murder attempt) they get to the estate. Adelaide is surprised by how big it is, and basically immediately starts plotting her escape back to Cologne and Ivo. (Which considering her and his actions that might not be the safest plan of action, but hey, she's a girl in love). There's some very nice people at the estate (her nursemaid) and some kind of terrible people (some of G's ladies in waiting) and even a woman who looks remarkably like Adelaide's mother. The way they keep mentioning her I kept waiting for a big shoe to drop regarding her, but maybe that's the next book!

As Adelaide struggles to figure out how to make due at the estate, and biding her time to escape she gets hit with 2 pieces of news that set up the next book and change all of her plans! (Dum dum duuuuuuum)

It's funny because my thoughts for this book are so close to the first one. It's short and it reads really, really fast. Also, the fairytale retelling part of this one is, to me, even less pronounced than in the first one. I mean, it comes up in little ways but I still wouldn't call this book a retelling. The third book is scheduled to be out this summer and I'm excited to see what happens next!


And just like the first book there's a fun quiz to take and a cool giveaway!

About the Author

Andrea Cefalo is an award-winning author and blogger on Medieval Europe. The next three novels in The Fairytale Keeper series will debut in 2015 and 2016. She resides in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband and their two border collies. For more information please visit Andrea Cefalo’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Guest Post at Book Bloggers International!

Hello everyone! Today I'm guest posting over at Book Bloggers International. We are talking about movies (that are based on books) that feature libraries! I once again attempt to sound like I know what I'm talking about in regards to Harry Potter even though I haven't read any of them. Check it out here!

Also, thanks to everyone who stopped by the blog this week. My Monday and Wednesday posts were two of my most viewed posts ever (that weren't tied to an event like Bloggiesta or Armchair BEA). So, woohoo!

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy this first day of Spring! (Even if it will only be low 40s. Sigh. #midwestlife)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: "The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect us from Violence" by Gavin de Becker

You're probably thinking that this sounds like a book that will make you paranoid and a little bit crazy. It will, but it will mostly make you feel empowered.

I'm a little bit paranoid about my safety.  I kind of always have been. I always make sure doors are locked, windows are closed, I park under lights in parking lots, I have pepper spray on my key chain. (Though I've never been mugged or assaulted or anything). This book pops up on a woman named Heather Poole's twitter account alot. She is a flight attendant and travels (a lot of time alone) a lot and she said she recommends this book to everyone. I was intrigued so I dove in.(Also if you want any proof for sure that people turn from people into animals the second they step on an airplane, follow her on twitter and passenger shaming on instagram. Lord help us)

Gavin de Becker had a very unpleasant childhood. But he grew up to be a safety expert and the author of this incredibly interesting book. It breaks down into a couple of different sections: workplace safety, relationship/spousal safety, "why you don't ever want to be a celebrity" (my title), and "it's okay to be a "bitch" if it makes you feel safe (also my title but I think very accurate).He gives different stories that follow under each of the sections I mentioned above.

Here's what it boils down to: trust your instincts. That weird little voice in your head that alerts you to an uncomfortable situation but you might not know why, don't ignore that. The one story that stuck with me the most was this (me paraphrasing): two men received a package at their office. It was suspicious. One man wanted to open it, one did not. The man who didn't want to open it made an offhand comment, something like "I'm getting out of here before that thing blows up". He walks into the hallway, the other man opens it, it explodes. Isn't it interesting that even a weird offhand comment that probably just popped into his head was his unconscious trying to send him signals that he's in danger.

He also brought up a really interesting point: in a movie, when a man relentlessly pursues a woman in a lot of cases it's supposed to be romantic and they end up together. He uses The Graduate for a longer explanation but uses other movies as well. But if a woman pursues a man in the same way in a movie, she's generally seen as crazy or psychotic and odds are that she will be dead by the end of the movie: Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

Also, if you are a lady and see another lady struggling with groceries or something and you want to be kind, ask if you can help her. Women feel less threatened by other women (which is not to say there ain't some crazy women who would jab a gun in someone's ribs, because there are) so maybe we need to circle the wagons around ourselves and each other a little bit.

I generally don't read psychology-ish books but I really think this one is worth reading. It's not often that you read a book that could literally save your life, but this one could. 4 out of 5 stars from me!


Monday, March 16, 2015

"I read books, I should be smarter than this..."

So the other day I'm reading a book (I don't remember which) and I came across a sentence that said
something something something "scotch the rumor". And I was like, " that's a weird misprint. It's *squash* a rumor. Isn't it? Right?" And then I googled, and I am wrong. So my whole life I've been saying "squash a rumor".

This doesn't really surprise me because I have a history of making an idiot of myself in this way. I remember 2 occasions from when I was little. (Okay, to be honest, the second one was when I was probably about 13).

So there's a famous hymn (Let All Things Now Living) and there is a line that is : "His law he enforces, the stars in their courses, and sun in it's orbit obediently shines". So the problem is that I always sang it as "His law he enforces, the stars in their corsets, and sun in it's orbit obediently shines". What is funny is that my little child brain wasn't like : "so that's weird, what other word could it be?" But it's still one of my favorite hymns and even now when I sing it I picture little yellow cartoon stars in corsets with their insides all smushed.

Oh my gosh, that star has totally let itself go!

Another instance was when people talked about "the pearly gates" I always thought that they were saying "curly gates". Like, super ornate curly topped wrought iron fences, because why wouldn't God want the fanciest gates he could have? That time I showed it to my mom, (it was in a book) and was like "what is that about?" and then we spent ten minutes saying "Wait, you thought it was curly?" and "Wait, why would they be pearly? What does that even mean? Shiny? Of course their shiny, it's HEAVEN". I think I'm right and the world is wrong on this one. The gates are both shiny and incredibly ornate.

Last one: this is from 2014. It's actually "cardsharp" but I always thought it was "cardshark". Doesn't shark make so much more sense? Like someone whose aggressive and menacing? This is another one that I think I'm right and the world is wrong.

Moral of the story: I always think I'm right until I'm proven wrong in print. Also, you can read lots of books and still be an idiot sometimes. Or at least have terrible hearing. Anyone else do this?