Posts Categorized: miscellaneous

Speed Reading Test Review (How Fast Can YOU Read?)

December 22, 2015 books, miscellaneous 15

I used to think I’m a fast reader.

In class, I was always among the first to finish a text. I read constantly at home, so it made sense that I’d be a speedy reader, right? Then, a couple of years ago, I was rudely awakened when I read the same text as someone else and they finished before I was done with the first quarter. A little later, I stumbled upon the Staples Speed Reading Test, and it confirmed my deepest fears: I’m a slow reader. DUN DUN DUN. I’d excuse myself by saying that English isn’t my mother tongue, but I read more in English than in German these days, so …I can’t.

For no particular reason at all, I decided to write a review of some of the speed reading tests my quick Google search yielded. It’s 1 am. I should probably go to bed.

The Staples Reading Test

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

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Christmas and Cookies!

December 20, 2015 books, miscellaneous 12

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What’s New?

Good day, my Christmassy friends. I hope you’re having a wonderful time! Christmas is my very favorite holiday, because it’s like a fifth season and it goes on for weeks. What’s better than a holiday that literally lasts an entire month? Friends come home, almost everyone takes at least some time off and there’s great food, reading, cheesy movies and lots of sparkly decorations. Basically, it’s perfection.

At the moment I’m writing this, I’m listening to BBC Radio 1’s rock show and lounging in my comfy Christmas pajama bottoms (they say HOHOHO and also LOL and for some reason there’s a cat emoji involved – I’m not sure what the designers took, but I’m loving it) and I’ve spent the day recovering from a hangover wrapping Christmas presents and watching Elf (how the FUCK does Zooey Deschanel look so different just because she has different hair!??). I wish you all a great Christmas week and fantastic holidays! And if you’re not celebrating Christmas, I wish you a phenomenal non-Christmassy week. Here’s some of my Christmas cookies. I think they’re pretty handsome if I may say so myself!
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What I Learned During NaNoWriMo 2015

December 9, 2015 miscellaneous, writing 6

November, or as some writers know it “that crazy month where you ditch life and try to write a book in four weeks”, has come and passed and selfless person that I am I’d like to share some insights with you (fun fact: I once wrote “insides” instead of “insights” in a university essay and didn’t catch it while proof reading, so now I’m always worried it’ll happen again and people will think I want to share my innards with them – I do not).

So first things first: I didn’t win. It pains me to admit it, but since I so cockily declared that I Bet I Can Write a Book, I figured I should share my failure with you and explain to you why it wasn’t actually a failure. HOW CONVENIENT, you might think and you would be completely right, but keep an open mind. Generally, I mean, not in relation to my fake failure, you may judge me on that all you want. It never hurts to keep an open mind, does it? Look at Aberforth and his goats – some might wonder why JK Rowling chose to include bestiality in her books, but never explicitly mentioned Dumbledore was gay in the text, but to those people I say keep an open mind; maybe Aberforth loved his goats more than Dumbledore loved Grindelwald and clearly love is more important than taking over the world is what I say to deflect attention from my devious plan of taking over the world (fun fact number two: Sometimes I wonder whether what I’m writing is inappropriate or only makes sense to 0.2 out of a hundred people. That’s usually the stuff that I keep).

Before I grace you irritate you with more weird Harry Potter humor, let’s take a look at the things my first NaNoWriMo experience taught me!
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How Often Should I Post?

December 8, 2015 discussion, miscellaneous 8

Talk To Me

is a no-nonsense discussion feature on this blog. No-nonsense means I’m too lazy to make it look pretty. It’s exactly what the title suggests: I’m going to pose a question or tell you my own opinion about something, and I want to know what you think about it! Obviously feel free to write up your own post on the topic and link it in the comments.


There’s a lot of blogging advice out there when you look for it, and I usually ignore most of it, but this has me stumped. How often should I post? To be honest, I usually just do as I please, which means that sometimes there are 7 posts a week (okay, admittedly not that often) and sometimes there aren’t any for three weeks. I think it’s important not to get stressed about it when it’s a hobby, because it should be fun, but I do get itchy when I haven’t posted something in a while. I agree with most advice out there that it’s important to be somewhat consistent, but that still leaves the question of frequency.
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Ten Feel Good Movies For When You Need Some Light Entertainment

December 7, 2015 fun, miscellaneous, movies, recs 6

I was looking for posts on feel good movies earlier today, so I figured I’d just make one of my own. When I need some distraction, I tend towards the light and entertaining, and I could write a whole essay on why these kinds of feel good movies are just as important as all your dark, critically acclaimed epics, but I’ll give you this list instead. Feel free to add to it in the comments; I’m always looking for recommendations! These are some of my very favorites, the créme de la créme of movies that bring a smile to my face.

What a Girl Wants

The classic modern day Cinderella story set in London’s royal society, starring Amanda Bynes as Daphne Reynolds, a girl from New York who is trying to figure out who she really is. I’ve watched this movie too many times to count when I was younger, and I still enjoy it now. My memory isn’t usually good enough to quote movies, but I can mouth the lines to this one.

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November 29, 2015 books, miscellaneous 7

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What’s New?

Good things that happened this week:

  • dancing and free cocktails
  • fun times with friends
  • new creative ideas

The Shiny

I caved and bought a Kindle Voyage, so obviously I had to fill it with things. Lots of things. All of them have been on my to be read list for a while now though. I have to admit, it’s a bit of a struggle to decide whether I want to buy books on my Kindle or physically now. Forget that whole what’s better debate (it’s literally the same content) the real problem here is that I want to read them on the Kindle, but I ALSO want to ogle them on my shelf.

cinder cover marissa meyer on reviews and cake mortal heart by robin lafevers cover on reviews and cake dumplin by julie murphy cover on reviews and cake

And then there was this. One of the perks during Patrick Ness’s Save the Children fundraiser were signed copies of Alexandra Bracken’s Through the Dark, a collection of short stories set in the world of her The Darkest Minds series. I love that series, but I couldn’t buy the short stories before, because they weren’t available in Germany. I was planning to get the book anyway when it was released, so this was perfect!

Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken cover on Reviews and Cake

Yes, I have books instead of hands now. Kind of impractical, but I’m making it work.

I didn’t think I was getting a copy, because I didn’t get an e-mail notification when they were sent out (there was a limited number), so imagine my surprise when I went to the post office to ostensibly pick up a boring university book and got this instead!

On the Blog

Tune of the Week

The song that’s been used in about a million fan videos of every TV show ever… Enjoy.

As always, I’m linking up with Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and the Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer!

stacking the shelvessunday post


Favorite Harry Potter Moments

November 26, 2015 books, fun, miscellaneous 14

I’ve been indulging in my Harry Potter addiction again recently, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments of the books/movies with you. I haven’t reread them, so this is a non-comprehensive, random list, but I thought some of you might enjoy it. :)

1. When Hermione hits Draco

I’m generally a very non-violent person, but there’s just something so satisfying about Hermione losing her shit and backhanding Draco. I think she slaps him in the book, but punches him in the movie? Either way, it’s glorious.

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Snow and Capitalism

November 22, 2015 miscellaneous 10

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What’s New?

This week I’ve spent some time at the university library not getting any work done; went to work where I did actually get some work done, because they pay me for it and apparently money is a stronger motivator than my self-development (who would have thought? Oh right, capitalism); and met up with some friends. NaNo is still on hold and will probably continue to be so, because I didn’t make that much progress on my term paper. In unrelated news, it was snowing today, so apparently winter is a thing now. More importantly, Christmas chocolate is a thing now! I mean, technically I’ve been seeing Christmas products in stores since August, but this is the time when I start to actually acknowledge them.

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The Martian

November 19, 2015 miscellaneous 6

This is just a quick movie recommendation post to tell you YOU NEED TO WATCH THE MARTIAN.

I know this was a book first, but I haven’t read it yet, so I can only talk about the movie, which is BRILLIANT. I liked Matt Damon in Interstellar, but I mostly went to see this movie because nothing much else was on at the time. I almost DIDN’T watch it, because I wasn’t in the mood for something too serious. Boy, would I have missed out.

The Martian is serious in parts, but it’s also really frickin’ hilarious. It’s exactly my kind of humor, and basically I want to be friends with Mark Watney. The premise is that a mission on Mars goes wrong and someone (Mark) gets left behind and has to survive all by himself. I was worried it might be slightly boring to watch a movie with a character who can’t interact with anyone, but nope nope nopity nope. It’s funny and uplifting, and I’m in love.

If you have the chance to watch The Martian do yourself a favor and don’t hesitate! You can thank me later.

Have you read the book? Watched the movie? Planning to watch it?


NaNoWriMo Week 2 + Snippets

November 16, 2015 miscellaneous, writing 2

My week two writing process was very… mercurial. You’ll see what I mean. I did write words though, so I decided to share some snippets in between my daily recounts. Everything subject to change, obviously.

Day 1:

I challenged myself to write 5.000 words today. I needed 3.700 to make up for not writing over the weekend, but 5.000 was a prettier number, and I like a good challenge. Actually I hate a good challenge, and I’ve been struggling all day, but- OMG I DID IT. I procrastinated all day and didn’t really start writing until late evening, and it’s exactly 3 am now, which isn’t ideal, because I need to get up and go to work at 8 am, BUT SCREW IT I ACTUALLY DID IT. I’d like to thank the academy, my family, my writerly friends, and, most importantly, the progress bar in the Scrivener project and session target tool that turns from red to green as you reach your target word count and makes writing seem like a mini game I am 97.6% convinced it’s the reason I’ve been reaching my goals so far. Word written: 5.211

Alex sat down on her bed to put on a pair of tights, swearing when her fingernail caught on the silky material. “I swear these things are made to torture people.”

Allie looked over her shoulder at where Alex was fighting with her tights. “I’m pretty sure they were used during the Spanish Inquisition. Who needs an eyeball scraper when you can use tights?”

“An eyeball scraper? Sometimes you scare me,” Alex said. She was finally happy with the tights and stood up to smooth down her dress. She had still been wearing her make-up when Allie arrived, but she added some dark red lipstick to round out the look. Allie beamed at her in the mirror.

“Thank you. I do try.”

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We’re live in 3… 2… 1…

November 14, 2015 books, fun, miscellaneous, writing 10

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What’s New?

Me and my friend Verena (she blogs in German, but I’ll link to her blog anyway, because you can look at her drawings) are going to have our own radio show soon! As you might or might not remember, I did an internship at a local radio station this summer, and I decided to ask whether I can do my own show. I convinced Verena to join me, because I thought it would be more fun together. We worked on a concept last week and presented it at the monthly meeting yesterday. They all voted yes, so we’ll be going live for an hour every four weeks starting January. I’m really excited about it, because I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun, and it’s good practice if I want to do something radio-related after uni. In other news, I’m still doing NaNoWriMo, although slightly less successfully. I’m a bit stuck in my story, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out and persevere.

I also edited my England vlog, so if you’re interested in seeing what I got up to, you can do that here. I know, you’ve been waiting with bated breath.

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Why I Don’t Go To The Library

November 10, 2015 books, discussion, fun, miscellaneous 19

This is sort of a companion post to Why I Don’t Review ARCs. I know it sounds like I’m just trying to be contrary, but I promise it’s more than just a leftover pseudo-rebellious streak from my teenage years. I think.

Let me start this off by saying I love libraries. I think libraries are one of humanity’s greatest inventions, and I spent about 90% of my childhood in one. For a couple of years, we had a library right next to our school, so it was basically get up -> go to school -> go to the library -> read -> go to bed, rinse and repeat. Then the library moved ten minutes away, and I had to walk up a hill to get there. Pretty sure that’s the most continuous exercise I ever got, which is saying something because it was a pretty short walk. I should look into gyms again.

So why haven’t I owned a library card in years and years? Well, my dear reader, much like Voldemort’s soul, the reason comes to you in seven parts. (If you’re asking what the eighth one is, it’s probably you.)

1. I’m lazy.

This should come as no surprise to you. I mean I’d have to actually leave my house and who wants that. Then I’d have to haul approximately fifteen books all the way to the library to return them and another fifteen from the library home. Why so many? BECAUSE BOOKS ARE SHINY AND I NEED OPTIONS. Like, seriously, they’re free no matter how many I take, so why limit myself?

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Strange Dates and Face Tattoos

November 9, 2015 miscellaneous 12

I’m supposed to write 5.000 words today, so I thought what better way to accomplish that than to …write a blog post that does absolutely nothing for my word count. If you’re new here, don’t worry; this is normal behavior. Well, for me.

I’ve always wanted to participate in the Beautiful People link up, but I wasn’t actually writing much, so there wasn’t much of a point. I am doing NaNo this year though, so MY TIME HAS COME.

1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

Errr… both? It’s kind of too early to tell. I had very little expectations to begin with and the few things that I do have semi-worked out in my mind won’t be an issue until later in the book.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Dammit, you’re gonna make me share snippets? That’s not fair. Fine, here you go.

It was going to be great. No, it was going to be phenomenal. It was going to be the best date she had ever been on, and there was nowhere she would rather be at the moment. – a delusional character

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NaNoWriMo Week 1

November 8, 2015 miscellaneous 4

Day 1: Took me a while to get going (read: all day), because I was tired as hell this morning and realized I should have plotted more in advance, but I managed to reach the daily goal in the end. I had about 2500 words before I started, but the project completely changed from what I had in mind when I was first writing it a few months ago, so I had to rewrite the entire first chapter and change up the rest. I’m counting the rewriting, so I actually did okay on my first day. Words written/rewritten: 2733.

Day 2: It’s actually going well! I only really started writing in the evening, but I’m always tired in the mornings, so it’s probably for the better. I finished my rewriting and then kept going to add more words to the story. I really got into it the last couple of hours, but it’s almost 2 am, and I have to be at work tomorrow, so I’ll stop here. Words written/rewritten: 2505

Day 3: I’m kind of amazed I actually reached my daily goal today. I had to work during the day, and then I went to a friend’s place to write, but I was struggling with my (non-existent) plot, so I had to go back to the drawing board. I still need to plot more, but I actually managed to persevere and reach my word goal back home. I thought for sure that I would have to settle for less, but somehow I pulled through. It is 2 am now though, and I have to get up early tomorrow, so I’ll log off now. Words written: 1670.
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She Needs to Sort Out Her Priorities

November 6, 2015 miscellaneous 14

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What’s New?

Writing has first priority at the moment, so I’m more or less ignoring everything else. I went to work, obviously, because money, but university is a mess. I haven’t had time to write my term paper, which wouldn’t be that horrible if it weren’t for the fact that I have no clue how late would be too late to hand it in. I also dropped a lecture, but I don’t feel bad about that, because I wasn’t that interested in it, and I replaced it with a three day seminar in January, when I will hopefully have more time to attend to mundane matters like getting my degree.

The only other interesting thing I did this week was to work on a radio show concept with my friend Verena, who got roped into the whole thing, because I thought it would be more fun together, and I had no clue what to do on my own. I think we came up with something good, so let’s hope it gets the green light next week!

I’m off to visit a friend for two days, which means I probably won’t be able to write, but I’m looking forward to the trip!
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Why I Don’t Review ARCs

November 5, 2015 books, discussion, miscellaneous 25

Quick confession: part of the reason I started this blog was because I read that book bloggers receive ARCs, and I thought that was so cool. Now I quickly grew out of this, because I love blogging, and I realized I couldn’t care less about ARCs, but still hear a lot about ARCs, so I thought I’d address the subject.

Here’s why I don’t read ARCs:

1. I live in Germany, but I read books written in English. There are more than enough book bloggers in English-speaking countries, so it doesn’t make sense for publishers to send me ARCs.
2. This could easily be remedied by requesting ebooks, but I prefer print books, so that’s not an option for me.
3. I’m the moodiest mood reader in the history of moods. If I had a list of ARCs to read, it would just feel like work instead of fun.
4. I, um, kind of like book shopping. Would I like for books I’m genuinely interested in to randomly appear at my doorstep? Certainly, but I really don’t mind ordering them myself either. It can be costly, but money spent on books is never a waste of money in my head so that’s fine.
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Ghosting Around

October 31, 2015 books, miscellaneous 16

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What’s New?

I should really change the title of this section already. I always sit here thinking yes, what IS new? Has anything happened? Should I get my memory checked? I mostly just went to work, did a movie review for the radio, and completely neglected university. Business as usual pretty much. I also wrote a couple of posts for November, so keep an eye out for those! And of course A HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO ALL OF YOU. May you spook forth and conquer a small kingdom by stealing souls, or whatever it is you do on Halloween. I’m going to visit my cousin, and we’re going to order some food and watch as many movies on this list as we manage:

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas – it’s such a classic, and I’ve never seen it. Also it looks like there’s Halloween AND Christmas? Sounds like a winner to me.
2. Hocus Pocus – this one’s a bit of a tradition. I watched it with my cousin once when we were young and then we announced we’d watch it together every Halloween. Of course we never did, but we always talk about it, so there you go. Maybe we’ll actually manage this year.
3. Halloweentown – this is another tradition. It runs on TV every year around Halloween, and I think it has about 5000 sequels. It might not be the best when it comes to …everything, but it has sentimental value.
4. The Cabin in the Woods – as you might have guessed by the previous films on this list, I’m not a fan of scary movies (thoughI am a fan of Scary Movie 1), but I figured I’d put at least one real horror film on the list. Mainly because Joss Whedon is one of the writers, but hey, at least I make compromises. The Joss Whedon biography I read spoiled the ending of the movie, but it’s been a while since I read it, so I’m hoping I forgot some of it!

The Shiny

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I Bet I Can Write A Book

October 30, 2015 discussion, miscellaneous 20

After all, how hard can it be, right? Hahaha. Haha. Ha. Help.

Let me tell you a secret: Ever since I was a child, I wanted to write a book. As you all know, I still like reading today, but when I was a child it was basically all I did. I devoured books. It was my happy escape from reality, and I don’t know what my childhood would have been without books. So I guess it only made sense that I wanted to give some of that back. I wanted to give someone else the chance to experience what I’d experienced. More than that, writing became my way of dealing with things. I wasn’t writing that much, but whenever that teenage angst overcame me, and I was overwhelmed with some emotion or another, I turned to writing.

Over the years I wrote short stories for friends, in which they got together with their crushes; took Literature in school and wrote some more short stories, and a couple of years ago, I dabbled in fanfiction for a bit. I wrote shitty poetry and whiny diary entries and a story about our car Brunnhilde (don’t judge, she was part of the family). And then, of course, I started blogging. The one thing I never wrote was a book. I started countless books, but, like so many others, I never had the motivation to write past chapter two.

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Carrying On

October 24, 2015 books, miscellaneous 28

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What’s New?

Aloha amig@s de libros! (yes, you may hit me for that)

I hope this post finds you feeling well and spooky. It’s been three weeks since I’ve done one of these, so have a non-comprehensive list of things that happened since then

  • My internship ended, and a new semester at uni started
  • I went to Newcastle for a couple of days last week! I vlogged it, so I’ll upload a video about it within the next weeks
  • While in Newcastle I watched The Martian, which is a GREAT movie and you should definitely see it because it’s hilarious. I’m slightly upset that no one ever recommended the book to me, but now I shall have to read it
  • I watched the first four episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. It’s good so far!
  • Gilmore Girls will be continued with four 90-minute episodes! It’s one of my go-to favorite shows, and I really didn’t expect it, so I’m thrilled-nervous-enthusiastic about this

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Tea and Milk and All Things Silk

October 21, 2015 books, fun, miscellaneous 12

I’ve been logged out of my own blog, so I figured it’s probably time for a new post. Alyssa created the milk tea tag ages a while ago and – in true Vlora fashion – I decided to do it months later. You’re welcome, creators of tags who would have run their course without me bringing them up once the bandwagon has long derailed, caught fire, and crashed into a mine wall. (Why a mine? Because I was on a 4D motion ride last week and the experience imitated driving through a mine in a wagon, which made me think of Gringotts at the time, but NOW whenever I hear wagon I think of mines. I didn’t say my head makes sense.) (Also, by “derailed, caught fire, and crashed into a mine wall” I mean that it is lovingly remembered and has its own Walk of Fame star.)

Tea: the foundation of your reading life

This one’s easy. I’ve read the Harry Potter books more times than I can count (I mean I probably could count it, because despite what my old math teacher thinks I can actually count all the way up to the double digits, but let’s not go there). They have a special place in my heart; Hogwarts is home; no need to call me Sir, Professor; yadda yadda. I’d show you a picture of my HP books, but some of them don’t have a spine anymore, and we’re working on building up their self-esteem at the moment.

seasonally appropriate Hogwarts gif

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