Jun 26, 2013

the.book.chat. {The Great Outdoors}

I had not realized until we discussed settings in the book chat one week that I tend to read a lot of stories set in the great outdoors. Survival stories, post-apocalypse stories and adventure stories. I love when an author truly captures that love and respect for Mother Nature in his/her novel. And from my experience this week, it's really no surprise that writers draw inspiration from the outdoors in their writing. From Walden Pond to The Hunger Games, there is no place more inspiring than the serene essence of a wooded landscape. The birds singing and the crisp smell of wet trees in the sunshine. I know when I come out here I feel so refreshed. So renewed. My mind is clear and nothing seems impossible.

Some of my favorite outdoor settings involve some sort of outdoor survival. I don't know where this came from. I grew up a small town city girl, and I was paralyzed with fear the first time I went camping. Now, after living abroad and doing a little camping in our time, I am obsessed with outdoor living. I love stocking up on the essential gear and planning our food and activities. I love getting my hands dirty and my shoes muddy. I have come to the point of feeling more comfortable outdoors than indoors. I love that feeling of stripping life down to the bare bones and seeing the potential in the simple things. This is the feeling I get when I read a novel set in the great outdoors.

How do you feel about outdoor settings? Do you like these sorts of stories or do you prefer urban settings? What are some of your favorite nature set books?

We have a brand-new co-host with us today! Deborah has an awesome blog, In Whirl of Inspiration. It's fresh, and artistic and I just know you guys will love her. Please go say hello.

To join in...

1. Please follow the host and co-host

2. Visit a few other book chat links and show some support.

3. Link back here in your post. Or use the button provided.

4. Old posts are always welcome if you have blogged on the topic before.

Photobucket

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.simply-linked.com/listwidget.aspx?l=35885cd9-b3d0-4760-9383-61549ccc896f" ></script>


 

Jun 25, 2013

A word about Audible...


Every night, I take a long walk through my storybook'esque German village.  I love these evening walks, partly because of the scenery, but also because I always have an audiobook to keep me company.  I'm so at peace, absorbing the story and beauty of my new home all at once.

It's no secret that I love listening to audiobooks.  They're great for walks, car rides and for making folding laundry a little less mundane.  A couple months ago I shared on social media that I was going to be starting a membership with Audible.  A few of you had mentioned that you were curious about the service and wanted my feedback...so here it is.

Before Audible, I found my audiobooks at the library.  This was handy...IF they had the audiobook I wanted.  Even then, I had the cumbersome task of changing CD's or taking an entire afternoon to import them to my iPod.  And God forbid I lost my spot or had to move the CD from the car to the house.  Oh and who wants a million messy audiobook albums hogging up their iTunes library?

Then, I found Audible.  I'll admit, I was hesitant.  You guys know I'm not a fan of pay for something I could get for free.  But here's the way I look at it...I'm paying for the convenience and the selection, and to me...it is so worth it.  

Think of it like Netflix.  You pay a monthly fee for a certain number of audiobook per month.  It's not a rental.  The audiobooks are yours to keep.

 Once you get a membership, you get credits for however many audiobooks you signed up for per month.  You log in and it says "Hi Jessica, you have 1 credit." It's all very exciting because then you can go shopping!  (By the way, each book I've seen is 1 credit each)  Every month, you get an email...you have another credit! (yippee!)  I love this credit system because....say you're not done with last month's book and you don't know what you want for this month.   Well, no rush.  That credit will be in your account waiting for you.  I love that.

And what if you blow through that one audiobook before your next credit rolls in?  No worries.  Another benefit of membership is that you can buy extra audiobooks at a super low rate!  They always have members-only sales going on too.  It makes me feel special.

How is their selection?
Once you have credits on your account, you have the daunting task of choosing a book.  Seriously, they have everything.  Right at your fingertips.  Shopping the site is a breeze.  They've organized it well and give recommendations based on what you've already viewed.
Can't decide?  Read a review of the book AND the reader.  I love this because as I've said before...the reader makes the audiobook.  You can even listen to a snippet of the reading to hear it for yourself.  Seriously, are you in love yet?

Once you've chosen your first audiobook, you may be like me and feel a little intimidated with the process of downloading the selection.  This was where I was weary.  I didn't want a giant file to deal with.  But I also didn't want to separately download each CD.  I was scared I would download it wrong and lose my purchase (I'm irrational like that).  This is where they really exceeded my expectations.  Once you purchase your audiobook, it waits for you in your Audible library, where it stays to be yours forever.  They offer each audiobook in the format of your choice.  If crystal clear quality is your main concern and file size is not...you can choose the best format.  If you're low on space, you can choose a less clear (but still functional) format.  Then, instead of downloading the whole shebang at once, they break it up in two parts.  Then, once you download it, it slides right into place in your iTunes library into the audiobook library in one nice clean and pretty album.  No messy albums. No formatting tricks or confusion about what CD is which.  It's there and ready for enjoyment.  Go forth and listen.

There is so much to explore on this site.  They have literally thought of everything.  You can download an Audible app and listen on your smartphone.  You can buy a Kindle e-book version of what you're reading and it will sync up automatically.  You can even listen to it on your Kindle and since it's an Amazon company, it's already linked up with your Kindle account.  Everything is seamless.  Honestly you guys, this is legit, and I really feel like Amazon is giving book-lovers like us a reliable service.  No strings. No gimmicks.

I hope you try it.  I hope this was the push you needed to give audiobooks a chance this summer.

And if that wasn't enough, Audible is offering you, my lovely readers, a free trial.  Have at it, my friends.

This post was sponsored by Audible in return for an honest review.  All opinions seen here are completely my own.

Jun 24, 2013

Camping!

Dropping in real quick to let you all know about our big plans this week.  For the next week, we will be roughing it in a rustic cabin at the base of the Alps.  We have seven whole days planned with hiking, biking, sightseeing, swimming and soaking up the outdoors.  I cannot wait.

I still have a couple posts planned this week.  On Tuesday, come back to see my review of the service Audible, the audiobook company of Amazon's.  I'm pretty excited about it.

Then, on Thursday, we have The Book Chat.  You may have seen that the theme is Outdoor Settings.  This theme was inspired by my week in an outdoor setting.   A couple of you have asked what I mean by this topic...and I don't mean anything really.  You can do anything with it.  Give us a couple of your favorite outdoor settings.  Tell us if you even LIKE books with outdoor settings.  Share you thoughts on the sudden popularity of WILD settings...I can think of five off the top of my head.  The book chat isn't a homework assignment.  No pressure.  I hope you join!  Plus, we have a brand spanking new co-host joining us!

I promise to share all of the highlights of our trip when I get back.  Until then, you can follow me on Twitter (@sweetGTangerine) and Instagram.  (@sweetgreent)  Chances are, we will have better internet there than we have at our apartment.

Auf Wiedersehen!

(sorry for the lack of pictures. We ran out of fast internet.  It took 12 minutes to load this page.)


Jun 20, 2013

the.book.chat. {Summer reading}

I don't know about you guys, but summer sort of just appeared out of nowhere this week for us.  I'm still doing last week's laundry of long sleeve shirts and jeans, and this week we're all standing in our skivvies in front of fans, counting the hours until nightfall.  Air conditioning is a rarity here in Germany and life has gotten pretty brutal since the thermostat broke 85.

Now, all I want to do is sit in the shade with a good book.  Forget cleaning, cooking or even moving.  Give me a cool breeze and a drink with ice (and a kick) in it.

Normally, my reading and blogging slack a lot during summer.  I have a feeling this summer will be different.  I've recently decided that I deserve a break, not from reading, but from reviewing.  I have no desire to take on any review or blog responsibilities for the rest of summer.  I have so many good books sitting on my shelves that don't get a chance because I'm so overwhelmed with reviews.  I'm pretty excited about the summer of "My Choice" reading.

Here's what I have on deck...


These are just a few new ones on my shelf.  I honestly can't decide if I want something contemporary like Sarah Dessen, something romantic and exotic like Beautiful Ruins or a mysterious and action-packed YA novel.

I can't say I have a typical summer choice.  Normally, when I want to just unwind and relax, I choose a good romance novel.  But I don't know if I really want to just unwind right now.  What I really want is to be completely taken away by a good book.  I want to be overwhelmed.  Something to take my mind off of this unbearable heat!

So, which one of these books would you choose?


Oh HEY...just saw this and thought it goes along great with today's theme!  I'm participating...you should too!!
>
What are your summer reading plans?  Do you have a typical summer reading choice?



Photobucket



To join in...
1. Please follow the host and co-host
2. Visit a few other book chat links and show some support.
3. Link back here in your post.  Or use the button provided.
4. Old posts are always welcome if you have blogged on the topic before.

Next week's book chat: Outdoor settings

Jun 19, 2013

Book Review: Fall For Me {Blog Tour}



Fall For Me
by: K.A. Last

Release Date: January 17, 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal / Fantasy
Source: Xpresso Book Tours (Thank you!)

Rating: 3.5 stars











“Angels aren’t supposed to fall in love, especially with each other. But for the record, you were worth it.”

Grace Tate is a Protection Angel and Vampire Hunter, and she has always followed the rules. But some rules are made to be broken…

Until now the fight against evil has been simple, and falling in love was never part of the plan. So what happens when it’s beyond Grace’s control, and when she least expects it she falls for the wrong person?

All hell breaks loose, that’s what.

At Hopetown Valley High, not everything is as it seems, and the one person Grace thought was her enemy becomes her most important ally.

Blood will be shed, lives will be lost and friendships will be tested. It all comes down to one decision, and when Grace tries to save all those dear to her, she realises not everyone can be—or wants to be—saved.


  • The combination of angels and vampires together was really unique.  
  • It was very unpredictable.  That's a rarity these days.  
  • Interesting love triangle.  
  • I LOVE the way she tells each scene through both perspectives.  
  • The teenagers sound like teenagers.  Being a NONteenager, I was a little thrown by this at first.  But this con quickly became a pro when I realized that teenagers should sound like teenagers in novels written for teenagers...just sayin.
  • Great heroine. 
  • This story has the potential to be a great series.  
All in all, it was a quick, fun read.  Perfect for a summer sittin on the beach.  

  • Twilight
  • Fallen
  • YA Paranormal

(I threw Fallen in there because it is similar, but really, if you're like me and you didn't like Fallen, you should read this one.  It's much better.)


Click here to see the rest of the stops on the tour!


Come back tomorrow for the book chat!  Share your favorite Summer reads!

Jun 13, 2013

the.book.chat. {Characters...}

Summer is upon us.  This is undoubtedly good news for everyone and everything, except my blog.  Perhaps you get the summer bloggin blues too, but I find myself far too engrossed in living than writing about it.  It happens every summer.  I'm not worried about it, you shouldn't be either.  Perhaps by August, I'll get more than one post a week out.  Until then, the book chat will always keep me coming back.


What Character Do You Relate To Most?

Photobucket


So, this week is a little bit of a repeat.  This topic was actually the second Book Chat topic we did.  This was about the time I fell in love with the book chat and the whole reason I write about books every week because great posts like that come out of it.  Posts that I wouldn't have written otherwise.
You can read it here.

So it's a repeat, but I really don't think I can top that one.  I have given thought to characters in general though.  There are some characters that don't fall under the category of "Relating to Most" but they have made their way into this post anyway.


I wish I could be more like her...
Hazel

Her and I would be best friends in real life...
Skeeter

I wish she were real so I could slap her...
Oh Ana...smh.

I wish I lived in her shoes...
Celia

I would not want to piss her off...
No spoilers here.

I would stick with her in the event of an apocalypse...
Eve


The one thing I notice is that there aren't many new ones in here.  Not many characters have struck a chord with me lately, I guess.  Also, I think it's actually later that I tend to realize how strong of an impact a character has had on me.  It's when I miss them that I realize what an effect they had.

What character do you relate to most?  


To join in...
1. Please follow the host and co-host
2. Visit a few other book chat links and show some support.
3. Link back here in your post.  Or use the button provided.
4. Old posts are always welcome if you have blogged on the topic before.

Next week: Best Summer Reads!





Jun 6, 2013

the.book.chat. {book blogging}


To be totally honest...I had no idea book blogging was even a thing when I started blogging.  If you were to look over my earliest posts (please don't) you would see a point in my blogging where I sort of "came out" as a book lover.  I joined the blogging community for totally different reasons that didn't pan out exactly, and I sort of fell into this realm of what I call "quasi-book blogging".  Once I began to accept the true nature of my nerdiness and found others who did the same, it became all I wanted to write about.

Well, not really.  Books weren't the only thing I wanted to write about.  I also wanted to share my life as a mother and military wife and traveler and music lover.  It sort of dawned on me one day that people would appreciate a review from someone they actually know.  But I was nervous.  Could I do that?  Could I be both?  Was I allowed to do that?  As if I had to choose a side...lifestyle or book blogger.  Henceforth, I settled into this "quasi-book blogging" and I noticed some of my FAVORITE bloggers do the same.  And I trust their opinions more than anyones.  They're the ones linking up with me every week.

Has blogging changed what and how I read?
Yes!  In 2011, I read TEN books the whole year.  In 2012, I had read ten books by July and more than doubled it by the end of the year.  It's not a matter of "having" to read because of a deadline, but being a part of the blogging community, you're constantly learning of good books and before you know it, you're TBR shelf is overflowing.  It's a matter of momentum, and book blogging gives me momentum.  I don't read faster, but I do read more.  Books have become so much more present in my daily life.  When, I get online and check my blog reader, I see a review or a book quote or book chat response, and it inspires me to go pick up a book and read.  Since joining NetGalley, I take my book reviews more seriously.  I don't put too much pressure on myself to meet deadlines and Lord knows I don't get them all done by their archive date, but I try.  I feel so good about myself when I finish an ARC and post the review and know that I contributed just a little bit to that book's publicity.

Sometimes, it is hard to balance out my review-reads and my personal-reads.  I'll go on a requesting rampage and before I know it, I have five new Galleys to be downloaded and it weighs me down.  I try to alternate between the two.  Also, I have become more picky about what I request.  In the beginning, I was requesting anything, but now I only request the books I would pick up on the bookstore shelf.  It helps to keep me honest too.  I hate when book reviews are all hearts and flowers.  You can't like them all.  If it was just...okaaaayyy (shoulder shrug) then it doesn't deserve four stars.  Sometimes our rating system needs to be calibrated.  I find that reading a book of my personal choosing helps to remind me what I really like or don't like.

So...who inspires me?  These are a few of my favorite book bloggers.  They are honest and real and I actually enjoy reading their reviews.
Book Rock Betty - best review format ever.
Paper Riot - super friendly, down-to-earth reviewer
Gone with the Words - the FIRST book blog I ever followed and been consistently reading ever since.
Novel Sounds - combination of music and books...clearly up my alley.

So now, after two years of blogging, I feel like I have settled into a comfortable place with the blog.  I don't stress myself out over how big it is or should be and I don't care much for numbers.  I get to blog about my life and have cool people to discuss books with...what more could I ask for?



So, let's hear it.  Share your thoughts on the topic.  Do you consider yourself a book blogger?  Do you write reviews, receive ARCs or have you met any good authors?  Has blogging changed how and what you read?  WHO are your favorite book bloggers?

Link up below!


Photobucket

To join in...
1. Please follow the host
2. Visit a few other book chat links and show some support.
3. Link back here in your post.  Or use the button provided.
4. Old posts are always welcome if you have blogged on the topic before.






Jun 5, 2013

The Truth about Culture Shock


**I've had this sitting in my Drafts for a while now.  This is how I felt when I first arrived, but I'd say I'm almost completely over this kind of culture shock now.**

I've heard of culture shock before.  I think I experienced it a little bit the last time that I moved to Germany.  I had always thought it was one of those funny things people say. "What a culture shock," they'd say.  Like they're joking about the weather or having to drive stick shift for the first time.  It was a funny thing, nothing to lose sleep over.  Now, I can firmly say that I know what culture shock is, and it's not what you think it is.

I didn't experience much culture shock the first time I moved to Germany because I lived on post where I could eat Taco Bell and buy Guess jeans at the PX.  My neighbors were as American as they come and there was no question of getting internet, finding a job or using my debit card.  If I experienced any culture shock that time around, it was probably just from moving so far from home at twenty-one.

I had assumed that culture shock involved being literally shocked.  Like something people only experience when they travel to a country where daily life is so different that you are literally shocked by it.  What the pilgrims felt when they met the native Americans and visa-versa. I figured that because Germany was a developed, European nation that I wouldn't struggle with the culture at all.  I didn't even consider culture to be an issue.  I've lived in southern Alabama.  That that was a real culture shock.

But culture shock is no joke.  The name is perhaps a little misleading.  If it's a shock, it's more like the shock you get from extreme pain that renders you numb and catatonic.  Real culture shock isn't about accidentally calling yourself a jelly donut or saying "guten abend" when you should be saying "guten morgen."  It's much more than that.

Culture shock is feeling uncomfortable in every setting you're in.  Culture shock is being different and feeling different.  Culture shock is losing the life you lived.  Everything about your own life feels foreign.  Culture shock is not feeling like yourself anymore.  It's feeling as if your home doesn't even exist anymore.  Culture shock is feeling alienated and alone.  Even when you're not.

I believe someone from Alabama would feel culture shock moving to Montana, and visa-versa.  I bet someone from California would feel culture shock in New York City or Montreal or Johannesburg or Seoul.  Culture shock is blindly walking into the unknown whilst trying to keep one foot in your comfort zone.  People can easily say, "embrace your new home."  But anyone who's tried it can agree that it is harder than you think.  We are loyal people.  Loyal to what we know and what we are comfortable with.  It's easy to resent our new and foreign location.  It's easy to rebel against the change.

Culture shock is really just homesickness in disguise.

It's okay to miss your home.  It's okay to miss Barnes & Noble and Starbucks and Mellow Mushroom.  The key to moving past the culture shock is to stop comparing what you have now (or lack thereof) with what you had before.  You can't force the feeling of home, but if you fight it, it will never come.  Culture shock isn't about your new environment, it's about you.

And once you've figured that out, it's pretty easy to overcome.


Jun 2, 2013

May/June recap

One thing these monthly recaps do is make the months feel like they are 10 days long.  I sat down to look at my blog calendar and thought, "No way I have to do another recap...I just did one!"

May was a doozy.  I struggled with transition so badly and the blog suffered a bit.  I'm feeling much better everyday.  I have to say, this blog (and all of you) have made this transition so much easier.  I have come to consider this blog as a lifeline that makes me feel more connected and more myself.   At times, I considered quitting the blog because it felt like too much work and I had too much going on, but I refused to quit.  I powered through the dry spells and came to the other side so glad I persisted.  I'm back in the groove of blogging everyday and life in Germany is starting to grow on me.




*on Audible*


June has some exciting news for the blog.  Not only will I participate in my FIRST blog book tour with a review for Fall For Me, but I will also be working with Audible on a little review of their service.  I love this company, and I cannot wait to share my experience with you!

I'm going to be starting a series of posts about life abroad so I hope you all look forward to learning a little more about life in Germany.

I also have a new design and a little name change happening this month too!  Stay tuned...


  • June 6: Book Blogging - Anything and everything on the topic.  Do you consider yourself a book blogger?  Do you write reviews, receive ARCs or have you met any good authors?  Has blogging changed how and what you read?  WHO are your favorite book bloggers?
  • June 13: Character you relate to most - This is a little repeat, but I thought it would be a fun one to revisit.  
  • June 20: Best Summer Reads
  • June 27: Outdoors Settings - Your favorite books set in the great outdoors.
I need co-hosts!!