Blogger Convention – Salt and the City

Hey There,

Salt and the City is Salzburg’s first blogger convention for food and lifestyle and was held on the last weekend of May. Caro, one of the organizers, assured us early on that book blogs are lifestyle blogs, so of course Nana and I had to join the fun.


Salt and the City - Blogger Camp for Food & Lifestyle

Friday

The convention started off with an Instawalk. This was particularly funny, because I still have an old Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot phone that I love very much (who needs touch screens anyway?) and as a result I don’t have an Instagram account. I was thinking about bringing my bridge camera and then decided against it as I didn’t want to carry that heavy thing around the city. “It’s an Instawalk,” I thought, “so why don’t I just take pictures with my mobile phone?” And that’s what I did. You can see those “lovely” retro shots on our Facebook page.

Instawalk through Salzburg
Instawalk through Salzburg. Image provided by pixellovers.at

On our walk we got an exclusive tour of the Salzburger Landestheater where we went backstage and up to the millinery. I could have stayed there for hours just to try on every single stunning headpiece and hat. We had some schnapps at Sporer‘s, a liquor manufacture, and tipsily climbed four flights of stairs to the realm of Andreas Kirchtag, the workshop of Kirchtag umbrella manufacture. It was great to see how much work goes into a single umbrella and that not only can you choose the fabric of your umbrella but also the shaft. After this informative stop, we sat down for iced coffee and tea at Afro Cafe and recharged our batteries for one more climb. The highlight of the day was the view from Salzburg’s city hall tower which isn’t open to the public. On our way down we were treated to some delicious Venusbrüstchen chocolates, so I didn’t have to worry about bedtime candy that night.

Saturday
cake topper
The cake topper I made.

Official convention day was Saturday and started with a breakfast table laden with muesli and excellent Rauch Juice Bar Grünschnabel spinach juice that I can’t seem to find in stores. I relaxed and chatted until lunch, as my workshops didn’t start until early afternoon. The first workshop was by Tina Tagwercher who gave a presentation on Thai fruit carving techniques and even though the time was too short to have a go at it myself, I’m fairly confident that I’d manage to carve a melon with the right tools. In the second workshop, I got to do some cake decorating. Dr Oetker sent a pastry chef and his assistant to teach us how to make fondant roses and pipe chocolate decorations. I had a good time and I think my cake top looks presentable.

Thai fruit carving
Thai fruit carving

In the evening we were invited to dinner and a craft beer tasting at Trumerei. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy this part of the day as a migraine hit me.

Sunday
Hallein Salt Mine
Hallein Salt Mine. Image provided by pixellovers.at

On Sunday it was time for the bloggers to explore Salzburg’s countryside. I was looking forward to a visit to Sonnleitn Alm in Abtenau but my migraine wasn’t gone when I woke up in the morning, so I had to pass on the first half of the outing. I joined the others for the second half though. We went up to Dürrnberg mountain to visit the Salt Mine. I’ve been there many times already and I have to admit that I don’t like the videos that you get to see touring the mine. You feel stupid watching them. They might do for children’s tours but adults would appreciate content instead of bad jokes. The mine itself is impressing though and you wouldn’t want to miss the boat ride on the salt lake and the slides.

When I arrived home, I finally had time to go through the two goodie bags that we got. I’m already excessively using my Riess mug for overnight oats, and I tried Quinoa for the very first time. It has a weird consistency that I think I like. ;)

I had a great weekend at my very first blogger convention and I hope that Salt and the City will return next year. Thank you girls for the hard work you did!

Salzburg
Beautiful Salzburg
Thanks to all the sponsors who made Salt and the City possible:

stadt-salzburgtrumer

trumereitennengau

salzburger-land

gesagt-getandmrauchfissler

altstadt-salzburg dr-oetker verival wuesthof

riess nenihotel-sacher rough-cut-board

coworking-campdecora bombasei

Review – This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle

Hello,

I recently read This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Danish author Helle Helle. It is one of ten books I won in Penguin Random House UK‘s Let’s Read in English Challenge 2014 over at LovelyBooks.

This Should be Written in the Present Tense
Image provided by Harvill Secker¹

Dorte has just moved into a bungalow next to a train station. She is supposed to attend classes at  university in Copenhagen, but decides to do other things instead.

This Should be Written in the Present Tense is a book where very little happens. The novel describes Dorte’s present and past life and her life, especially the past, is as normal as it can get for a young woman. For some this might not be enough, but I find Dorte’s reality intriguing. The novel has a depressing undertone and there is nothing overly dramatic about the plot, yet knowing that there is room for improvement in Dorte’s life is exactly what makes the book so fascinating.

This Should be Written in the Present Tense is a minimalistic novel that is just the right length. It might not be for everyone, but if you are a university student with the occasional motivation problem, you should be able to relate to Dorte’s story and give this brilliant novel a try.

4 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ http://www.vintage-books.co.uk/books/1846558050/helle-helle/this-should-be-written-in-the-present-tense/

Review – A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Hi,

When I heard that Kate Atkinson was working on a companion novel to the brilliant Life After Life, I knew that I had to read it as soon as I could. Well. I’m lucky and very grateful because Random House UK sent me an ARC of A God in Ruins, so I got to read it in March already. Today, however, it’s your chance to go to the bookstore and grab a copy to find out what the fuss is all about: It’s release day!

A God in Ruins
Image provided by Doubleday UK¹

After the war, Teddy Todd does what he had always planned to do. He marries his childhood sweetheart Nancy, they have a daughter and two lovely grandchildren and he grows old. But even though the war is over, it will always be part of Teddy’s life.

Teddy is a good-natured man who loves the peacefulness of the countryside. Like many other war veterans, he doesn’t want to talk about what he went through during his service as a bomber pilot, much to the dismay of his wife Nancy. Kate Atkinson does a wonderful job portraying the couple’s and many other relationships in A God in Ruins, but I never felt a connection to Teddy or any of the other characters. This often made it hard to pick up the book, because I really didn’t care what would happen to the Todd family. Only when Teddy’s grandson Sunny gets into a life-changing situation, I was eager to read on.

A God in Ruins is not written in chronological order. Kate Atkinson weaves World War II scenes into Teddy’s lifeline, which we travel on in a seemingly random pattern. Although this structure appeals to me, these changes in time sometimes made me feel a bit lost.

A God in Ruins is called a companion novel to Life After Life. If you are looking for Life After Life‘s special structure or the many charming characters, you might be looking in the wrong place. Of course we meet Ursula and Sylvie, but they only play minor roles and this novel’s structure is different. A God in Ruins is a book about a bomber pilot who survives World War II to become a very ordinary man, leading an ordinary life.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/a-god-in-ruins/9780385618700

Winner – World Book Day 2015: Blogger Schenken Lesefreude (Bloggers Give Books)

Hi,

It’s finally time to announce the winner of our giveaway to celebrate World Book Day and our Second Blogiversary. Unfortunately, I had to disqualify one entrant for entering the giveaway multiple times. Did you really think I wouldn’t notice?

Edit (5/5/2015 05:12pm):

[Anyways, Rachel, you are the lucky winner of a copy of Donal Ryan’s The Thing About December. I just sent you an e-mail and you have 72 hours to reply.]  Sorry Rachel, but you didn’t answer my e-mail.

This is why we have a new winner: Fornika! Congrats! I just sent you an e-mail and you have 72 hours to reply.

If you haven’t won, don’t be sad, it’s the weekend. Go on and read a good book. There are many more out there :)

Blogger Schenken Lesefreude

 Donal Ryan The Thing About December
The Thing About December
Image provided by Transworld¹
Synopsis quoted from Transworld¹:

‘He heard Daddy one time saying he was a grand quiet boy to Mother when he thought Johnsey couldn’t hear them talking. Mother must have been giving out about him being a gom and Daddy was defending him. He heard the fondness in Daddy’s voice. But you’d have fondness for an auld eejit of a crossbred pup that should have been drowned at birth.’

While the Celtic Tiger rages, and greed becomes the norm, Johnsey Cunliffe desperately tries to hold on to the familiar, even as he loses those who all his life have protected him from a harsh world. Village bullies and scheming land-grabbers stand in his way, no matter where he turns.
Set over the course of one year of Johnsey’s life, The Thing About December breathes with his grief, bewilderment, humour and agonizing self-doubt. This is a heart-twisting tale of a lonely man struggling to make sense of a world moving faster than he is.

Giveaway – World Book Day 2015: Blogger Schenken Lesefreude (Bloggers Give Books)

Happy World Book Day, Book Lovers!

To celebrate World Book Day and our Second Blogiversary, we’re giving away a copy of The Thing About December by Irish author Donal Ryan. I chose this novel because it is one of the best books I’ve read in 2014 and I would love to share this wonderful story with you. All you have to do is answer one quiz question. The giveaway is international and you have time to enter from today until April 30, 2015. Good luck!

Blogger Schenken Lesefreude

 Donal Ryan The Thing About December
The Thing About December
Image provided by Transworld¹
Synopsis quoted from Transworld¹:

‘He heard Daddy one time saying he was a grand quiet boy to Mother when he thought Johnsey couldn’t hear them talking. Mother must have been giving out about him being a gom and Daddy was defending him. He heard the fondness in Daddy’s voice. But you’d have fondness for an auld eejit of a crossbred pup that should have been drowned at birth.’

While the Celtic Tiger rages, and greed becomes the norm, Johnsey Cunliffe desperately tries to hold on to the familiar, even as he loses those who all his life have protected him from a harsh world. Village bullies and scheming land-grabbers stand in his way, no matter where he turns.
Set over the course of one year of Johnsey’s life, The Thing About December breathes with his grief, bewilderment, humour and agonizing self-doubt. This is a heart-twisting tale of a lonely man struggling to make sense of a world moving faster than he is.

  • You can participate as long as The Book Depository ships to your country for free.
  • You have to be 16 or older to participate.
  • The giveaway runs from April 23, 2015 until April 30, 2015.
  • Be fair! One entry per person/immediate family/household.
  • I am not responsible for lost or damaged items. There will be one winner who will receive one English language paperback copy of Donal Ryan’s The Thing About December, sponsored by All That Magic.
  • You you have to enter through Giveaway Tools.
  • The winner will be selected at random and notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, another winner will be drawn.
  • The personal information you enter will only be used to contact you in case you win. It will be deleted after the giveaway.
  • I can amend and interpret these official rules at any time, and terminate, suspend or cancel the giveaway at any time for any reason.
  • All decisions are final.
If you want to enter the The Thing About December giveaway, click this link: Entry-Form

Second Blogiversary – Two Years of Magic

Hi There,

I’ve been a little quiet over the past few weeks because writing my thesis is taking up quite some time and energy. I might have to make temporary changes to my review format to be able to publish book reviews on a regular basis up until my graduation. I’ve not stopped reading books, and I won’t stop writing this blog. So please bear with me :)

And now on to the fun part ;)

Blogoversary

It’s All That Magic‘s Second Blogiversary today! Two years of reading, writing, cooking, eating, crafting (in secret [I’ve just sewn a book cover]), taking bad pictures, going to book fairs and making new friends. I wouldn’t want to miss any of that.

Last year was particularly exciting. I got to be part of a cooperation between bloggers and a local bookstore (Rupertus Buchhandlung) and made new friends this way. I went to Frankfurt Book Fair for the second time, met old friends and got acquainted with new ones. I also won 10 Penguin Random House books in a reading challenge for reading 49 English-language books in 2014.

Which brings me to the last part of my blogiversary monologue: I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me so far. The publishers who kindly supply me with review copies, among them Canongate Books and Penguin Random House UK, Rupertus Buchhandlung for the great time I had in the past months, the authors who spend months writing books for us, and I’d like to thank You for stopping by and for reading what I have to say!

P.S.: Like last year, I will run a book giveaway on World Book Day, April 23rd.

Review – The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Hi,

In January, I had the chance to read Michel Faber’s latest novel The Book of Strange New Things which Canongate sent me in exchange for an honest review. I can’t thank them enough for this gem of a book – inside and out.

The Book of Strange New Things
Image provided by Canongate¹

When Peter Leigh is chosen to be the new minister on a planet in another galaxy he and his wife Bea are sure that this is the Will of God and a chance to spread The Word. Unfortunately, Bea has to stay on Earth because she didn’t pass the selection process. As Peter’s contract is limited to a few years and the two of them can communicate through a long-distance messaging system, Bea agrees that Peter should go. What the two of them don’t know is that the physical distance is accompanied by an even bigger emotional distance that threatens their relationship.

I was a little concerned about Peter being a Christian missionary, but this book is not about religion. It is about freedom, friendship, and trust. When Peter arrives on Oasis, he is a very obedient Christian who never strays from the path. This also makes him open to embrace other peoples like the Oasans, the natives whose priest he is to become. Soon, Peter decides to live with them and that changes him as well as some of the Oasans.

Speaking of the Oasans: We all know all sorts of aliens from various movies we’ve seen. The Oasans are different and they are very hard to picture, probably because our brains aren’t capable to do so ;). With his description, Michel Faber does the best anyone can do to make them imaginable by the human brain. To Peter’s eyes, and to those of the other humans on Oasis, they all look the same except for their differently-colored robes. They also hardly show any feelings or signs of personality, which basically makes them indistinguishable until you get to know them better. But when the Oasans and Peter finally warm up to each other, Michel Faber’s brilliant characterization of this unique people becomes visible.

Even though The Book of Strange New Things is almost 600 pages long it never feels like it. Michel Faber transports you right into this engaging, gripping and simply mind-blowing story about a man who does something most of us wouldn’t have the guts to do.

5 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ http://www.canongate.tv/the-book-of-strange-new-things-hardback.html