Rusting Leaves, Falling Rain Drops, Coffee & Books #amreading | April 2017

It’s April already. April in my corner of the world means rusting Autumn leaves, soft rain on my window panes, still warm days but cooler nights and lots of hot drinks…especially my favourite hot drink of coffee. I love Autumn. Autumn is my favourite time to curl up on my favourite couch and get lost in a story. I’ve got quite a few netgalley reads outstanding and two lovely new netgalley reads to get lost in this month. So this April it’s time to dust off my digital bookshelves.

 
Keep on reading!

These are some of my Favourite Things #2015

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  • Pens
  1. Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night Fountain Pen
  2. TWSBI Eco Fountain Pen
  3. Mitsubishi UniPin 0.3 Black Fine Line Marker
  4. Uniball Jetstream Multi-Pen 
  5. Kikki K Metal RollerBall Pen
  • Ink
  1. Diamine Bilberry
  2. Diamine Ancient Copper
  3. Diamine Eclipse
  4. Diamine Red Dragon
  • Paper
  1. Tomoe River Paper – Extremely FountainPen-Friendly. You can get some from here.
  2.  (All Hobonichi Planners have Tomoe River Paper – gridded.)
  3. TWSBI Grid Notebooks – These are my favourite drafting notebooks. 
  • Notebooks
  1. Midori Traveler’s Notebook – Blue Edition
  2. Chic Sparrow Traveler’s Notebooks
  3. Zenkraft Traveler’s Notebooks
  • Planners $ Planning Methods
  1. Hobonichi Cousin – My absolute everything #GetShitDone Planner
  2. Hobonichi Weeks – My on-the-go portable planner + bulletjournal
  3. Hobonichi Techo – English Planner – My WIP Writer’s Logbook/Journal
  4. Chronodex – My favourite time-tracking tool.
  5. Bullet Journal – My favourite planning method.
  6. Stars +Stickers + Calendar Method – The best #GetItWrittenDeadlineAchiever Trick!
  • Books

For Creativity

  • Wild Mind: Living The Writer’s Life – Natalie Goldberg
  • Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

For the Soul

  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Cheryl Strayed

For the Mind

  • The 5am Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast – Jeff Sanders
  • The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8am) – Hal Elrod

For Pleasure

  • Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  • Second Life – S.J. Watson
  • What Came Before – Anna George
  • The Memory of Water – Karen White
  • Mrs. Hemingway – Naomi Wood

Favourite Series

  • Harry Hole – Jo Nesbo
  • Blood on Snow – Jo Nesbo
  • Joona Linna – Lars Kepler
  • Bill Hodges – Stephen King
  • Jack Reacher – Lee Child
  • The Blackdagger Brotherhood – J.R. Ward
  • A Court of Thorns & Roses – Sarah J. Maas
  • Exercise
  1. Walking Jazz, the papillon, my adorable furry BFF.
  2. Running
  3. Swimming
  4. At Home Workouts
  • Tae Bo – I use this app (Apple iOS Apps)
  • Pilates – I use this app (Apple iOS Apps)
  • Technology
  1. Apple iPad Mini Retina
  2. Apple MacBook Pro
  3. Software & Apps
  • Social Media Networks
  1. Twitter
  2. Instagram
  • Music
  1. Yurbuds Inspire 300 Sport Headphones
  2. Spotify – Especially these playlists: Moodbooster, Re-Energise, Creativity Boost, Zen Focus, Morning Walk
  3. New Groups: Jamestown Revival
  • Chillaxing
  1. Massage Therapy – Full Body Deep Tissue Massage
  2. Saunas
  3. Jacuzzi
  4. Shellac Manicures + Pedicures
  5. Glasshouse Candles
  • Rituals
  1. Morning Ritual – Miracle Morning + 5am Miracle
  2. Evening Ritual – Adapted Miracle Morning Method
  3. KonMarie Organizing&Tidying Method
  • Reflections
  1. Journalling 
  2. Morning Pages – Clearing the mind by stream-of-consciousness Journalling and preparing it for focus.
  3. Evening Brain Dumps – Getting everything out of my brain onto paper.


So tell me what are some of your favourite things #2015?

  

Enjoy your last day of 2015!

Welcome in 2016!

    Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch | Falling down the Reading Rabbit Hole #amreading

    So I thought I would give you a quick update on my August reads. Winter has been a very busy season for me this year and life has done its utmost to crumble the cookie. But I have been reading a few juicy reads, gotten addicted to a delicious new crime series and fallen down a delightful – but addictive and consuming – reading rabbit hole.
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    Recently Read/ing

    Perfect People by Peter James
    *finished in a redeye-inducing all nighter binge-read*

    When a young couple learn they are both carriers of a gene likely to give their children a rare genetic disease, they visit a secret clinic for a ‘designer baby’. But it does not all work out as planned….

    Citadel by Kate Mosse
    *currently deliciously savouring each wordful*

    1942. Occupied France. A time of courage, betrayal, loyalty – and love.
    1942, Nazi-occupied France. Sandrine, a spirited and courageous nineteen-year-old, finds herself drawn into a Resistance group in Carcassonne – codenamed ‘Citadel’ – made up of ordinary women who are prepared to risk everything for what is right.
    And when she meets Raoul, they discover a shared passion for the cause, for their homeland, and for each other.
    But in a world where the enemy now lies in every shadow – where neighbour informs on neighbour; where friends disappear without warning and often without trace – love can demand the highest price of all.

    Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
    *currently letting this mind twister twist my mind*

    Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Welcome to Christine’s life.
    Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle- aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.
    But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge, that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities—tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life—and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?
    Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more un- believable it seems.

    Reviews on these three books next week Wednesday right here on Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch.

    Death by Chocolate Reads (highly addictive crime thriller reading)

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    Chelsea Cain and her “Gretchen Lowell series”

    Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and brutal serial killer known as the Beauty Killer. In the end, she was the one who caught him…and tortured him…and then let him go. Why did Gretchen spare Archie’s life and then turn herself in? This question keeps him up all night—and keeps him coming back to visit Gretchen in prison every week. But Archie also needs Gretchen, as new murder cases he’s solving keep leading him back to his former captor. Read this mystery thriller series and discover the creepiest serial killer you’ve ever encountered.

    *Voraciously Consumed*
    #1 Heartsick

    #2 Sweetheart

    #3 Evil at Heart

    *Currently Salivating Over*
    #4 The Night Season

    *On The Night Stand*
    #5 Kill You Twice

    #6 Let Me Go

    Review on this decadently addictive series coming on the first Wednesday of October right here on Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch.

    Reading Rabbit Hole

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    I have been let into the Cool readers group….a not so secret society that gives readers first glimpses into new books before they get published…
    I know you want the down-low and pronto:
    I am talking about Net Galley.
    I recently heard about Net Galley through a fellow book addict/crime writer, Rebecca Bradley. (If you haven’t checked out her blog, Murder down to a Tea, – tell me that isn’t an amazing blog name for a British crime writer! 😉 – do yourself a favour and go check it out.)
    After digging around the Net Galley site I knew I wanted in. I signed up. Then I requested some books I wanted and waited for the tick of approval from the publishers. The first two books I got were:

    Phantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner

    When your own eyes betray you, who can you trust?
    In Edgar Award-winning author Meg Gardiner’s new stand-alone thriller, an injured cop and an ex-thief hunt down a killer nobody else believes exists.

    What Came Before by Anna George

    David Forrester and Elle Nolan are sophisticated, mature people who don’t understand love. They live in a world where love is revered but marriages commonly end in divorce, or worse.
    Over the course of one ill-fated night, David and Elle recount the journey of their love affair.
    And it begins with David admitting into his dictaphone to the killing of Elle.
    Visceral and compelling, What Came Before creates a chilling modern portrait of the dark side of love.

    So look out for the reviews on Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch right here, coming in a post this month.

    What have you been reading in August?
    What books were greedily gorged on?
    What books are you deliciously savouring?
    What books are on your night stand for September?

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    Kim’s KaffeeKlatsch | Scandinavian Mindhunter #amreading

    As Old Mr. Frost sets in and unpacks for a chilly winter I am still making my way through the Scandinavian crime series. I have a few on my bedside table at the moment and Mind’s Eye is the latest I have finished.

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    Mind’s Eye (Hakan Nesser)

    This is an intriguing story premise. A woman is drowned in a bath, her husband with no memory of the previous night, finds her in the early hours of the morning. He calls the police. After questioning, the police arrest him as the prime suspect. The problem is that he is not even sure that he didn’t do it. He has no memory of the night.
    The first half of the book is fast-flowing as the trial begins. The husband is found guilty and is committed to an insane asylum. But within weeks he is found murdered.
    Now the police have to reinvestigate the original murder as all their suspicions are turned on their end.

    The strongest part of this book for me was the characterisation of the characters. The part that let me down was that there was not a strong sense of place or setting. I loved the premise of the story and the puzzle at the heart of these murders. The author kept me in the dark right up until the end. This kept me turning the pages. I wanted this mystery solved and the real killer caught.

    However I did feel that that author held back more than he should. His main character Inspector Van Veeteren leads the investigation with all the cards held to his chest not even letting in his own investigating team in on his suspicions. This gives the reader the feeling of a “smirking” arrogant main character who leaves little about him left to like.

    The mystery at the heart of this story kept me turning the pages. I had to keep reading to find out who the killer was. However, although this is the first in a series I am not sure I would read book 2 because I don’t like the series protagonist.

    So for the well-thought out mystery element of who the killer is and the strong characterisation this book gets 3 stars and 3 Irish coffees from me.

    Recommended coffee

    Irish Coffee

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    “I can envision a small cottage somewhere, with a lot of writing paper, and a dog, and a fireplace and maybe enough money to give myself some Irish coffee now and then and entertain my two friends.”
    – Lt Richard Van de Geer

    Tell me what are you reading this week?
    What coffee are you indulging in?

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    You can follow me on Goodreads

    Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch | it was a dark and stormy winter… #amreading

    A wintry welcome to the first post on Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch. Hope you have your books and your libation of choice. Mine is coffee and lots of it. Coffee is so important that I rate the books I read by the amount of coffee consumed in one sitting. Which is what those coffee mugs under each book on this post means. The higher the number of coffee mugs, the more riveting the read.
    So pull up a chair and let’s talk books and what we are reading this week…

    Coffee Recipes

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    My coffee brand of choice this month is: Hummingbird Crave Fresh Beans

    Winter has arrived with force in my corner at the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand. I read in all seasons and all moods but when it comes to winter reading, I tend to match my books to the weather outside my window. This winter I decided to make my imaginary way to the stories of suspense, crime and horror in the Scandinavian winters.

    As I write up this blog post, the wind is howling outside and the trees are swaying like some crazed person desperately waving for rescue. With North-Easterly winds gusting up to 170km/hr, the night is dark and menacing. In other words, stories with a tinge of horror, suspense and fear set in the deep dark Northern winters of the Scandinavian countries are the perfect match this Winter.

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    This week I have been reading The Hypnotist ( Lars Kepler) and tonight I just finished The Darkest Room (Johan Theorin).

    The Hypnotist (Lars Kepler)
    Goodreads & Amazon

    Synopsis

    Prepare for The Hypnotist to cast its spell

    In the frigid clime of Tumba, Sweden, a gruesome triple homicide attracts the interest of Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the murders. The killer is still at large, and there’s only one surviving witness—the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes wanted this boy to die: he’s suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock. Desperate for information, Linna sees only one option: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes.

    It’s the sort of work that Bark has sworn he would never do again—ethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl.

    An international sensation, The Hypnotist is set to appear in thirty-seven countries, and it has landed at the top of bestseller lists wherever it’s been published—in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark. Now it’s America’s turn. Combining the addictive power of the Stieg Larsson trilogy with the storytelling drive of The Silence of the Lambs, this adrenaline-drenched thriller is spellbinding from its very first page.

    I am a sucker for an arresting cover and The Hypnotist wows me as possibly the creepiest cover I have seen.

    Does the book live up to its cover? Yes.

    The story is dark, twisted and disturbing. Throughout the story there is a sinister menace that lurks between the lines. The characters are deep and conflicted. Each of the main characters has a secret and it is these secrets that threaten to undo them and those around them.

    This book is book 1 in the series and I cannot wait what Lars Kepler has done in book 2. I finished this story in one sitting, reading right through the night into the early hours of the morning.

    This book is not for the faint of heart. It is gruesome and confronting but the story is solid and has more than one twist in the tale. The characters are compelling and finding out their hidden secrets makes this a page-turner.

    Recommended Coffee

    Espresso

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    The Darkest Room (Johan Theorin)
    Goodreads & Amazon

    Synopsis

    ‘The dead are our neighbours everywhere on the island, and you have to get used to it.’

    It is bitter mid-winter on the Swedish island of Oland, and Katrine and Joakim Westin have moved with their children to the boarded-up manor house at Eel Point. But their remote idyll is soon shattered when Katrine is found drowned off the rocks nearby. As Joakim struggles to keep his sanity in the wake of the tragedy, the old house begins to exert a strange hold over him.

    Joakim has never been in the least superstitious, but from where are those whispering noises coming? To whom does his daughter call out in the night? And why is the barn door for ever ajar?

    As the end of the year approaches, and the infamous winter storm moves in across Oland, Joakim begins to fear that the most spine-chilling story he’s heard about Eel Point might indeed be true: that every Christmas the dead return…

    There is nothing that I love more than a good ghost story. I could easily have finished this story in one sitting but I really enjoyed the atmosphere and mood of this book so much that I read it in mouthfuls, savouring each delicious spooky mouthful.

    The main characters in this story are an island and an old lighthouse-keepers house. The people in this story play out their parts but both in the past and the present, the island of Oland and the house direct and influence their paths.

    I love stories that build in twists from the past and this story is really many stories within one binding. As you follow one family through this story, your heart is pulled with their joys and their tragedies in equal measure.

    I was truly mesmerised by this story and know that it will remain in my memory for years to come. This is the second in a quartet of stories all set on the remote Swedish Island of Oland. I cannot wait to return to the literary landscape of this bleak and fascinating island.

    Recommended Coffee

    Espresso Con Panna / Vienna Coffee

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    On my Kindle this week

    The Man Who Left (Theresa Weir)
    79 Park Avenue (Harold Robbins)
    Strange True Stories of Louisiana (George Washington Cable)
    World’s Worst Serial Killers / Sexual Psychopaths:British Serial Killers
    (David Elio Malocco)

    These are the books in my Scandinavian themed winter pile for this month. I cannot wait to tuck into them. Nor can I wait to tuck into the mugs of coffee as I indulge in these wintry tales.

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    All of these Scandinavian stories I have picked are part of a series. I love reading series especially when the characters and/or the settings are so compelling. If you want to indulge in some wintry tales from up north, then click on the link below for all the skinny on delicious Scandinavian crime fiction.

    Recommended links

    The Skinny on all Scandinavian Crime Fiction

    Now it’s your turn to klatsch…
    Tell me what books are you reading this week/month?
    Tell me what coffee are you drinking? If not coffee (clearly there is something missing from your life if you are not drinking coffee 😉 ) then what are you drinking while reading?
    How do you prefer your coffee – instant/percolated/beans/ground?

    “What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?…Was ever anything so civil?”
    ― Anthony Trollope

    You can follow me on Goodreads

    Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch | Books & Caffeine #amreading

    I have 2 addictions which I have to indulge in daily:
    1. Caffeine
    2. Books

    I start my morning with caffeine and end my night with books. I drink a lot of coffee. I drink so much that I invested in a top of the range Delonghi Magnifica Automatic Cappucino/Espresso Coffee Machine (Amazon) which has a permanent residence in my writing cave.

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    I read a lot of books, of every genre and every persuasion. I have a well-used library card, piles of books next to my bed (because my 6 bedside drawers are already full of books), two full book shelves and a bursting digital bookshelf on my kindle.

    I also read exceptionally fast, the advantages of having a photographic memory, but sometimes I read too fast: you know those times when a story is so delicious that you want to indulge every eyeful of words like eating a delicious chocolate cake with slow mouthfuls. So I read 4-6 books at the same time. This way I can jump in and out of stories, lengthen out each delicious story morsel but still fill that gnawing craving for story. It also means I always have a story on the go at any time of day or night.

    So I have decided to start a new Wednesday feature (I might miss a week here and there depending on how busy my own story-writing mode is going) on the blog called: Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch.

    kaf·fee·klatsch (kf-klch, -kläch, kôf-)
    n.
    Variant of coffee klatch.

    kaf•fee•klatsch or kaf•fee klatsch (ˈkɑ fiˌklɑtʃ, -ˌklætʃ, ˈkɔ-) also coffee klatsch
    n.
    a social gathering for informal conversation at which coffee is served.
    [1885–90; < German; see coffee, klatsch]

    Don't you just love that word: kaffeeklatsch ?
    Good conversation, books and coffee…this is a good afternoon.
    I also chose this word in a nod to my maternal side. You might not know it, but I am half German (yes I am fluent in German) and really there is no better description for this new fortnightly feature.
    You see…this feature is not just about me: what books are in my reading pile or what coffee flavour I am drinking but also about You, my reader, my follower and my friend.
    Every 2nd Wednesday I am going to share with you what I am reading and what I am drinking, but I want to indulge in the "klatsch" of this feature: I want you to tell me what you are reading and what you are drinking each week.

    So join me tomorrow for the debut of Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch to find out what I am reading and drinking this week…don’t forget to pour yourself some coffee and bring your books…let’s klatsch books and caffeine.

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    Neil Gaiman’s All Hallows’ Read, A New Halloween Tradition?

    I am completely up for this idea… Love it! More book giving holidays please! Nothing like a scary book to read under the duvet, where you are hiding from your own imagination, holding a torchlight and barely daring to breathe in case whatever you are hiding from hears just that one too-loud exhale…

    Halloween Culture

    .

    Leave it to Neil Gaiman to try and make Halloween an even cooler holiday than it already is.

    All Hallows’ Read is a new tradition of horror/scary book giving that Mr. Gaiman is hoping catches on.

    “I propose that, on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy. I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands — new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe’en. Make their flesh creep…” Neil Gaiman

    In my humble opinion, it’s a great idea. In this age of ipads and electronic media it’s important not…

    View original post 271 more words

    My book art gallery

    I was browsing in a bookshop on Saturday which of course can have me lost for hours. People have been known to send out search parties for me or to send in survival packs of food and water. But it struck me how much my book buying habits have changed since I bought my Kindle. I have a library full of books in my house and those are just the ones that I could fit into my office. Books spill out of every drawer and on top every table in my house. I bought an extra bedside table just so that I could have one bedside table for my books that I am currently reading and another bedside table for bedroom things. There is not a place in my house where you will not find a pile of books.

    On top of always being a book buyer I also have that most old-fashioned of things: a well used library card. So there is also a special place designated in each room just for the library books so that they don’t get confused with my own books. I love borrowing books from the library. There is something about the smell of the pages as I open the covers that is like an aphrodisiac to my senses. I love imagining who has read the book I am reading. Reading a library book is like a reading two stories: there is the story in the book and then there is the story of the book’s travels and whose hearts and minds it touched.

    When the Kindle first came out I was determined that I was not going to get one. I could see the advantage of less packing space for books when traveling but I could not imagine curling up with an electronic device. But eventually I succumbed and bought a Kindle. I bought it mainly because I was doing a lot of traveling in my job and also as a confirmed travel-junkie I thought it would be an intelligent purchase.

    I used it very sparingly in the beginning as my mind had to get used to reading on this device. But it did not take long and I was addicted. Now my Kindle has pride of place alongside my books on my bedside table. But owning this Kindle has changed my book buying habits. Before the Kindle I spent a lot of money on all books of all genres and styles, whether fiction or non-fiction. (Um…you did get the fact that I am book junkie from the beginning of this post, didn’t you?) But after the Kindle I am still buying books but the type of books I am buying on the Kindle and the type of books I am buying from bookshops has changed.

    Now I am turning my library and bookshelves into my own personal art gallery. I am buying beautifully illustrated hardcover books. I am perusing second-hand book shops and hunting out leather-bound early editions. I am searching out books by my favourite authors and building collections of their published works. I am buying more art books and “coffee table” books. This is all thanks to my Kindle.

    For the Kindle naysayers (I was one of them not too long ago) the Kindle has not stopped my book buying. The Kindle has refined and cultivated my book buying to book art now. I am hunting out expensive one of a kind editions and buying the more expensive hardcover books now. Before the Kindle I bought indiscriminately like a junkie would. Now I consider myself a connoisseur.

    The books that are turning up on my book shelf now are no less artworks than a framed Picasso or Monet. But unlike those artworks, these artworks of mine are interactive and invite perusal. You have to pick them up and open the covers to appreciate them even further. The indiscriminate book buying is still there but it is now reserved for Kindle purchases. But those books that I can read over and over again and the ones I love looking at are still bought for my bookshelf. My personal library has now become my own art gallery. But in this art gallery you must touch the art, feel the art and explore the art.

    Owning a Kindle or other ebook reading device does not need to mean you have to choose between ebooks and books. Instead buy a Kindle to refine your book buying tastes. Become a book connoisseur. Build up a treasure trove of limited editions and beautifully illustrated hardcover books. Buy illustrated leather-bound books. Turn your library into a book art gallery. You can have the best of both worlds when you own a Kindle. Owning a Kindle does not mean the death of printed and bound books. Now your books can become collectors items.

    How has your book buying changed with the advent of ebooks?

    All images (except the Kindle image) are borrowed courtesy of Fuck Yeah, Book Arts on tumblr…Do yourself a favour and visit this site for beautiful and unusual posts on Book Arts. 

    Books…read them, write them, love them

    Carol reading babys first book
    Image via Wikipedia

    My nickname as a child was Book-Worm. Now before you say it, it was not because I was wormlike. It was because I started a grand love affair with books when I was a toddler. The love affair still continues to this day. I grew up with a Disney annual broken up into the four seasons. Each night had a different story that my parents read to me. Soon though being read to was not enough. I wanted to lose myself in the words of the story, I wanted to wander through the pages of this fantastic world of imagination. Books were magical. I could start reading a story and soon I was lost in the paths that a writer had created. Books became my treasures, my adventures, my friends and my portals into different worlds and different times.

    Before long, I was making up my own stories and telling them to my baby brother. I realised with that how powerful story-telling was. I also realised how much more powerful stories were when written down. My childhood crush with stories and books had grown into a love story.

    I have always said that the worst punishment for me would be to take away my books, my pens and my paper. Some people live life through songs, others live life through activities. For me, words are a method of living. I have used books to learn and research. I have used books to escape from reality for a short moment in time.

    In this digital world where so much time is spent immersed in technology or on the internet, books remain the one constant that ties the generations together. I love technology as much as the next person. Typing this post on a Macbook to post in a WordPress blog is a case in point. But sometimes I just need a detox from technology, as wonderful as it can be. Technology can also be draining. There are some times when I have been on the computer for large amounts of time and my eyes are burning with strain and fatigue. There are also times when I don’t want music playing or have flickering images from a television in my view. I have to switch off and walk away. I just want to relax. I want to take a breather…

    Often I can go for a walk and the fresh air refreshes me. But the habit I turn to most often when I need a break is opening a book. There is something about opening a book and reading the first sentence in the first chapter that immediately releases all my tension and I find myself again. I become filled with wonder as much as I did when I was a child.

    Lately there has been a lot of chatter online about books vs ebooks and which industry is going to ultimately win. The sad thing for me about this debate is that this has become a competition for survival on the books side of the debate. Today I read that someone said that books were dying and I actually caught my breath at that. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine a world without books and it horrified me.

    I understand the convenience of ebooks but fail to see how this can be the death knell of paper-bound books. Suddenly I started getting quite a territorial feeling running through me. If ebooks mean the kiss of death for me being able to open a book and disappear into its pages then I have to take a stance.

    But no; ebooks are not the kiss of death for books. E-books are convenient, cheap and relatively easy to obtain. As I am writing this I am waiting for my Kindle to arrive. But does my getting a Kindle mean that I am never going to buy a book again nor borrow books from the local library. No. I am getting a Kindle purely for the convenience when I am travelling. It would make my hand luggage much lighter. I always carry at least 3 books with me where ever I go.

    I love libraries and book stores. Yes I still go to the Library as old-fashioned as that idea may seem. There is something about reading a book where the pages have been softened and worn by numerous fingers turning them. Then there is the smell. You know that smell – the well read book smell. There is no smell like it. I also love book shops. I don’t like shopping as a rule. But browsing in a book shop I can easily lose all sense of time and before I know it 3 hours has already passed. Bookshops and libraries are another way why the Kindle nor ebooks will become my primary form of reading material. There is no book shelf in Amazon. There is no tucked away armchair in the corner where you can get a preview of the book.

    Another reason why e-books will not be my primary reading source is that books don’t need power points not rechargers. I can take my books with me anywhere and read. I have taken them on hiking and camping trips. Books are physical. You can hold them in your hands. You can feel the weight of the story in your hands. I don’t know about you, but I am a five senses type of gal, sometimes six senses. I need to touch something to know it is real. Books are a physical portal into new worlds of wonder and magic for me.

    So yes, you may relegate books to the “old-fashioned” side of “trendy”. But then you better call me old-fashioned too. As long as there are readers there will be books. I believe I am not the only person, reader or writer, that will say that if books are dying then the world is going to become worse for wear. I can’t see parents teaching their children to read off a screen. Do you remember the first books your parents taught you to read from? One of my first was Mo the Monkey and El the Elephant.

    So bring on e-books and kindles and the advance of technology. But don’t forget your first love of ink on paper just because some people are calling them “old-fashioned” or a dying industry. Go to your local book store and just spend an hour browsing through all the books. Take a seat in that corner and page through a few of your favourites. Go to your local library and take out a book. The best things in life are those that are sometimes relegated to “old-fashioned”. Don’t be scared to be called old-fashioned because you love books. Don’t be made to feel ashamed because you carry a bag full of books around. Cherish books. They have stayed faithful to you through all your growing pains. Stay faithful to books. Wear the title “Book Worm” with pride. I know I do. You can call me Book-Worm. Now I am going to tuck into the book I am reading…

    © All Rights Reserved Kim Koning

    NaNoWriMo ~ Quality and Quantity

    Heffala put paws to novel
    Image by bulldog1 via Flickr

    3 weeks and counting….

    NaNoWriMo is almost upon us. This week has flown by and time is tick-ticking me forward to NaNoWriMo time. This week I have spent a lot of time perusing the World Wide Web for tips on preparation and inspiration for NaNoWriMo. In reflection of these sites, there seems to be a 50-50 sway on Plotting for NaNoWriMo, Some NaNo writers believe that plotting kills the whole concept of NaNoWriMo. They argue that NaNoWriMo should be an organic writing experience. Still others argue that it does not matter what you write as long as you reach the amount of minimum words.

    As for myself, in everything I believe in Quality first. Yes I could make life easier for myself and just write whatever happens to enter my mind irregardless of the quality of the thoughts. On top of this, I also add that I take my writing very seriously. Even if NaNoWriMo is a competition to challenge yourself, never-the-less it is still a competition and in the end are we not trained to Go for Gold. Then surely this means that Quality and Quantity need to have equal parts in your NaNoWriMo.

    What are your thoughts?

    For me writing is reflective of who I am. Writing, whether it be in a blog post, for NaNo or a WIP; is about myself putting my best mental foot forward. When I get up in the morning and get ready for the day job I have a routine:

    I have a mug of coffee and eat a healthy breakfast. Then I shower and get dressed. Finally I do my hair and makeup. This all takes about an hour of the day. When I get to work, I prepare the tasks that need to be accomplished for that day. Then finally I am ready for the work day to begin.

    If I put so much time and thought into preparing for my day job, why would I put little to no thought in preparing for NaNoWriMo. The answer is I wouldn’t. If I put so much effort into my day job preparation then I must put the same if not more effort into any and all my writing pursuits.

    This is why I rest on the side of the plotting and the Quality argument for NaNoWriMO. If I do all my plotting and preparation for NaNoWriMo now then I will be better prepared to write a quality submission. There is also another winning argument for plotting: If you have an outline of firstly what you want to write about and secondly where you want to go with your story, then you have a greater chance of succeeding at winning NaNoWriMo by writing at least 50 000 words of Quality writing.

    Preparation is a key to self-discipline. A runner completes time-laps and has training runs to prepare both his body and his mind for a race. A student revises and studies course material to prepare for an examination. So what is the preparation for a writing challenge where you are to write a new piece of prose in a limited time span with a word count tacked on?

    On the Twitter #group for NaNoWriMo, they have been doing NaNo Sprints. This is very good training for this challenge. It keeps your thoughts focused on the clock and on your word count. You also get into a rhythm that focuses your writing into a short time period. It also gets you to flex your writing muscles.

    Another great way to prepare for this challenge is to Freemind. Freemind or Mind-maps are a visual way to plan your outline. I am a plotter in that I like to be prepared. This does not mean that I always stay in the lines but it does mean that instead of just one puzzle piece, I have a picture to reference that allows me to complete my jigsaw puzzle. Freemind is a tool I use to build the frame of my “puzzle”. Mind Mapping is a fantastic tool to prepare for any given challenge. It especially lends itself to something like NaNoWriMo. It is a very organic way to plot and outline without narrowing your thoughts. Instead it focuses your thoughts in a very visual way. Freemind is such a “free-flow” form of mind mapping that even pantsters can appreciate it. It works better for me than a bullet form or longhand written outline. I can combine short ideas with a visual graph that helps me brainstorm my ideas.

    Another great way to prepare those mental muscles are writing exercises. These can vary from interviewing your characters to blogging or journalling in the voice of one of your characters. You could also picture yourself in the setting of your story and write a travel article for that setting. You could write a review of your unwritten novel focusing on the salient points. The ideas for the exercises are endless and are only bounded by your imagination.

    One way I am also using to prepare for Quality writing is reading exercises. Reading is one of the best methods to stretch those mental writing muscles and the imagination arteries that fuel those muscles. The plotting, the word sprints, the main mapping and the writing exercises are all work for your mental muscles. They will strengthen and bulk up your mental muscles. However, you don’t just want bulk in muscle, you also want definition and tone. Muscles – mental and physical – are defined by stretching and toning. Reading therefore is the Pilates to your NaNoWriMo. So take the phone off the hook, take your wristwatch off, open a book and start “stretching”. I recommend at least 2 hours a day to these “Pilates” sessions.

    Lastly, continue with your other writing pursuits prior to November. The more writing you do the more habitual it becomes. Writing everyday should be as routine as brushing your teeth every day. The more often you write and the more substance you write on a daily basis improves your writing. It becomes simpler to write Quality + Quantity.

    There are 21 days left until the flag is waved and the race starts. Use these 21 days wisely. Remember the preparation you put into the simplest daily tasks and use that same self-discipline in preparing your mind for this challenge. Do research on how successful past NaNo winners have succeeded and listen to their hindsight when they failed. Don’t keep this challenge a secret but tell everyone you can about this challenge you are setting yourself. The more people who know you are doing NaNoWriMO, the greater are your chances that you will feel an accountability to both yourself and these people to put your best mental foot forward.

    21 days and counting…..

    © All rights reserved Kim Koning.