Tag Archives: tech

Any new books?

25 Jul

[I realise this blog has been pretty light on book reviews lately (well, pretty light on everything except my pleas for sponsorship), but I promise to get reviewing again soon. Seriously! Maybe if you sponsor me I’ll get back to it even sooner?]

If you’re like me, a trip to the bookstore (remember those quaint little retail spaces?) or even an online bookshop can be confusing – and, quite frankly, daunting. I wander around, committing the ultimate sin of judging books by their covers (and blurbs), hoping I stumble across something decent. Sure, there are authors I know are pretty much safe bets, and on rare occasions I do actually have a book in mind when I head in, but for the most part it’s a bit hit and miss.

Which is why I want to introduce you to Any New Books?. Any New Books?, meet my cool reader. Don’t worry, he/she is totally awesome, just like you!

So the idea is that you sign up at anynewbooks.com with your email address, tell the site what genres you’re most interested in, then sit back and wait for the weekly email newsletters that feature a selection of new books from that genre. The email links straight to the books’ pages on Amazon (but the company doesn’t seem to be involved with Amazon in any financial sense – yet).

And this site is why my Amazon wish list is starting to get a liiiittle out of control.

I love that the service is free and that it exposes me to so many books I would never hear of without it. I also really like that there’s a strict editorial policy that means the books are chosen on their own merit, not because of any deals with publishing companies.

Yay for nerdy booklovers! Sign up here!

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Stuff (that) Mel gives me

18 Jul

How does one feel when one’s friend starts a blog populated solely by items one has emailed to that friend in the past? Flattered, sure. And a bit weird, to be honest. And thirsty, definitely thirsty. Where's the blog of the stuff I've emailed YOU, huh?

My friend Shaun (of the now possibly defunct Popcorn and Wine blog, and the definitely defunct blog I could have sworn was called Random Ramblings, but I can’t find any remnants of it anywhere so maybe not) has started a blog called ‘Stuff that Mel gives me’*. Over the years I’ve apparently emailed him hundreds of links to videos, images, articles and whatever else can be found on the internet. I thought he would have been giving them a perfunctory glance before sending them to the trash, but it seems he’s been saving these emails and links, and is now showcasing some of them on the blog.

I love the idea. Like everyone else, I send links to my friends with the hope that they laugh or cry or are enlightened by the content. But it’s also a bit nerve wracking – after all, every time I send a random link to someone I have a mini moment of “What if they hate it and they lose whatever respect they had for me?” Now, with this blog, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD CAN LOSE THEIR RESPECT FOR ME. Exciting times, people, exciting times.

Of course, it also totally appeals to the narcissist in me – I naturally have impeccable taste and want everyone to see the wonders I’ve curated from the world wide web (albeit filtered through what I thought Shaun would like, then what he chooses to post on the blog).

You should totally bookmark the site, sign up to email updates or add it to your RSS feed right now… after all, with Shaun’s record, it seems this blog may not last long.

*The blog itself is titled ‘Stuff that Mel gives me’, but the address reads ‘Stuff Mel gives me’. The inconsistency is troubling in itself, but it’s also not factually correct – it would be much better if it was ‘Stuff Mel has sent me links to’ or ‘Stuff Mel has directed me to on the internet’. Catchy, no? Anyway, Shaun is aware of this, and I’m sure his next blog will be named in a more correct manner. We can all relax.

A Young Girl’s Diary

2 Jun

A Young Girl’s Diary by AnonymousA Young Girl's Diary, DailyLit

(This post references the DailyLit site I’ve reviewed in the past. To understand what I’m talking about, you might want to read that entry before continuing with this one.)

I knew almost nothing about A Young Girl’s Diary, by Anonymous, when I started reading it on DailyLit. I knew it was about a young girl as she grew into her early teens, and that it was written in diary format (yes, I am quite the detective). But I liked the idea of it because a) I like books written from a young adult perspective, and b) it was short (99 instalments of average length, compared to the 423 of Anna Karenina, for example).

But by the end, those 99 instalments just weren’t enough – which is funny, because for most of the story, nothing massively huge happens.  It really is just a girl’s diary as she grows into her teens – she’s going to school, realising boys might not be so bad after all, avoiding her condescending older sister, and sharing her secrets with her BFF.

One point of difference between A Young Girl’s Diary and similar novels: it’s set in Germany in the early 1900s. This means there are maids, noble families, evidently socially acceptable public crushes on female teachers, and passages like this:

 I’ve taken to wearing snails*. Father calls them “cow pats”; but everyone else says they’re exceedingly becoming.
*Flat rolls of hair-plait covering the ears – Translator’s note.

So, you know, it’s educational! Cow pats!

But there are also sections that remind you how good writing is timeless. Sitting on top of a hill, the narrator notes:

When I see so extensive a view it always makes me feel sad. Because there are so many people one does not know who are perhaps very nice.

I’ve felt like that. It was perfect.

However, the time and culture in which the novel was written does raise its head. A lot of the diary – especially later on, as the writer gets further into her teens – focuses on boys and even (gasp!) sexual matters. When talking about these things, the author uses so many vagaries that I was left wondering if she was even writing about what I thought she was writing about.

Dora says she took a dislike to S. from the first because he — — — –. It’s an absolute lie! — — — has clammy hands. It’s simply not true, on the contrary he has such entrancingly cool hands.

What the hell… clammy hands?  Was this scandalous at the time? Sexy? How confusing… yet intriguing. Men, do YOU have clammy hands? Is this a sign of sexual deviousness? Let me know.

But overall, hand moisture mysteries aside, this was a fascinating read. Family tragedy intertwines with the whole coming-of-age thing, but the author doesn’t dwell on the sad times. It’s just a girl growing up, and these are the things that happen to her, wonderfully noticed.

* Word on the street is that the author was actually a psychoanalyst who specialised in child psych matters, not an actual teenage girl. It doesn’t really matter.

Read it when you want to find out how it felt to live as a somewhat-pampered German girl in the early 1900s, annoying siblings, frenemies, crushes on older boys and all. 

Daily Lit

20 Apr

Emails can be very boring. Of course, I’m not talking about the wonderful emails my friends send, the odd forwards my step-dad sends, or the 10 million newsletters I seemed to have signed up to in the past… well, let me rephrase: work emails can be very boring.

Which is why I love Daily Lit, a site that allows you to read books in very small chunks via email. You look like you’re working and checking your email, but you’re really catching up on your chick lit! Or your philosophy texts! Or your Greek drama! Or whatever it is you want to read!*

Sign up to Daily Lit immediately, son.It works like this: you give them your email address, then choose what you want to read from their catalogue, how often you want to receive the book instalments, and how long you want the instalments to be. Then you just sit back and wait for all the wonderful words to make their way into your inbox. (You can also subscribe through RSS, if you’re that way inclined.) Best of all, if you’ve finished that day’s instalment and can’t wait for the next one, you can get it sent to you straight away.

Although most of the books are in the public domain or are available through the Creative Commons license, they’re adding newer books and short stories all the time. I’ve already finished one story – review to come shortly – and am about to start on Alice Munro’s Fiction.

So, internet nerds who also love reading, have at it!

*I’ve also signed up with my personal email, which is easier to check on my phone. It’s great when you’re stuck somewhere with nothing to read and it’s not your turn on Words with Friends. By the way, IS IT your turn? It must be, I’m always waiting…