2012 in books

When the world didn’t come to an end (12/12/12, remember?), I made a promise to you guys to show you my favourite reads of the past year.

And, quick look on the calendar – EEK! It’s February already and I still haven’t shared my favourite books with you. That’s shoking!

So without any further a-do, here they are: my five favourite reads of 2012.

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I read soooo many good books in 2012, so naturally, picking the five best books wasn’t an easy choice. Also, if I had to decide on  THE best, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one it was. They were all really good, each in it’s very unique way, all 3475 of them. (Just kidding, I made that one up. Honestly, I didn’t count, but there was always something good to read…)

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This one, “Traumsplitter” is actually written by a German author, Tanja Heitmann, and unfortunately I’m not sure if translations into English or other languages actually exist, but if you speak German, I can strongly recommend this one to you. It’s the story of a young woman who has lived in Australia most of her life. When she turns 23 she decides to go back to the little village in North Germany, where the family originated from. She wants to refurbish her auntie’s mansion and gets help from a rather good-looking guy she is immediately attracted to. What she doesn’t know is that he has the ability to infiltrate her dreams. He walks right into her dreams at night – and this is when the story developes into a fast-paced mystery thriller.

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“Tote Paten küssen besser” or “Don of the Dead” by Casey Daniels is another book that plays with mysterious, paranormal elements, when Pepper Martin – an ex-rich girl with no work experience whatsoever – is forced to take on a job as a tour guide on the local cementery where she bumps into the ghost of a mafia boss who died thirty-odd years ago. Get ready for a turbulent, funny and surprising story.

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“Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares” – in German “Dash & Lilys Winterwunder” (which translates into “Dash & Lily’s winter wonder” which is also quite suitable, actually) – is my all-time favourite Christmas book. I never enjoyed seasonal-themed books much because I usually want to read the storys all year round and then get annoyed when lying at the pool, reading about snow and ice in December. But this book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan changed everything. It’s about a girl (Lily) who leaves a notebook with instructions to the finder at her favourite bookstore. A boy (Dash) finds the book, follows the instructions and decided to start a game, writing down his instructions to Lily. The book goes back and forth between the two of them and every time the book changes it location, the main characters explore another part of New York City at Christmas time. Amazing. Simply amazing.

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This might as well be one of the very best books I have read in a while. Top of the range. The icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the cupcake, the edible gold glitter on top of the torte. “Nachricht von dir” (original: “L‘appel de l‘ange”; englisch: “Call by an angel”) by French author Guillaume Musso is the best deal you can get, so to speak. It has everything. An intriguing start when two people (who don’t seem to like each other when they first meet) accidentally swap their cellphones when bumping into each other at a busy airport. Madeline is back in Paris, France, Jonathan at home in San Francisco, US, when they realise what happened. And this is when the story quickly turns from what could be a really cheesy love story into a breath-taking, suspense-packed criminal novel. Think about this: what if a stranger gains insight into your best-kept secrets? What if he/she gains access to your best-hidden documents? One word: brilliant.

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This little beauty – a signed copy of “Cut & Run” – is one I manage to get my hands on at the Frankfurt Book Fair in autumn last year. Alix Bosco is actually the pseudonym of Kiwi writer Greg McGee – just in case you wondered about the two autographs. This is another great criminal novel (you know, I just love thrilling reads). To be honest, even if it were a shitty book I’d probably love it, simply for the fact that the story is set in New Zealand. Luckily, it has not only a beautiful setting, but also a brilliant story line, so if you’re looking for another extraordinary novel, this could be it.

Well, I guess those were my five favourite reads of 2012 and I hope you enjoyed the brief over-view I tried to give you. I realise these were no proper reviews but writing reviews wasn’t what I had planned anyway because reviews only make sense to me if you’re talking about a brand-new book. Anway, I always look for new reading material and I would love to read about some of your favourite books (of the last year, the last month, the last weekend…) below!

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A musical résumé of my life before the apocalypse | WEEKEND WIND UP #70

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{pic: via Pinterest/http://www.onthemarqueeblog.com/2009_05_01_archive.html}

And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

I feel like Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ seems like the best soundtrack to the last week of our lives. If you believe in any of the countless apocalypse theories, Maya speculations and doomsday prophecies, that is. People have been speculating for over a year now whether the world will come to an end on December 21 and I reckon with 2012 coming to an end also, this is the perfect time for a little resumée anyway. All in all, I’m quite happy with my life, I reckon. I feel privileged to having been able to study journalism overseas, work in London and then even change professions to now become a pastry chef. And I’ve travelled a lot, too. People seem to find my CV rather unusual, but hey, at least I can say: I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few 
But then again, too few to mention 
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption 
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway 
And more, much more than this, I did it my way 

On some days, I regret not having stayed in New Zealand when I had the chance. But like Frankie says: I did what I had to do and in the end it all turned out fine. Some other regrets relate to hasty decisions I made and little chances I missed, like not giving that cute guy your phone number or something like that.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew 
When I bit off more than I could chew 
But through it all, when there was doubt 
I ate it up and spit it out 
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way 

This probably relates mostly to work… there were quite a few times when I thought I could easily do something when in the end it turned out to be trickier than expected. But that’s fine. It’s always a good experience to grow with the challenge.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried 
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing 
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing 
To think I did all that 
And may I say, not in a shy way, 
“Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way” 

Especially in the last two or three years I lost a few people who meant a lot to me. The weird part is that I didn’t actually lose them, like, they didn’t die or something. They just stopped being part of my life for one reason or another. And others don’t take up an active role in my life anymore even though they still mean as much to me as they always did. Yet they decided to leave. My brother is one of them. He’s physically still here but I feel like the special bond between us went missing somehow. He’s almost like a stranger to me.

For what is a man, what has he got? 
If not himself, then he has naught 
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels 
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

If you know me a little, you know that I tend to say what I think very straight forward. Must be tough sometimes when you hear my judgement, but I hate it when people are dishonest for the sake of friendliness. It makes life so complicated! Say what you truly feel, people! It might actually make the world a better place!

Yes, it was my way

Oh yes, this is my way!

P.S.: By the way, I don’t believe in any of the apocalypse theories. The Maya calender has actually ended months ago except nobody took the lap years into account when coming up with the date for the apocalypse. Also, someone must have broadcasted the rumour the end would come to an end on 12/12/12 – my facebook went all bonkers that day because of all these “OMG it’s the last day of our lives”-type messages. Ironically, they all came from my New Zealand friends. And ONLY from my New Zealand friends. So obviously, whoever spread that rumour only spread it over there.

P.P.S.: Speaking of 12/12/12… another thing people were waiting for that day was a big miracle to happen. You know, that “the-last-sequential-day-of-our-lives-surely-something-miraculous-will-happen” rubbish. Anyway, I decided NOT to hop on that train – but then I really had a small miracle of some sort happening to me. I had a really bad day at work and was a little unstable and on my way back home everything just stressed me out and I broke down crying. Imagine me, hands clenched around the steering wheel, tears running down my face, having a total meltdown. – And then there was this huge truck in front of me that got stuck in the middle of the old part of my town. The driver got out of the car, came to my window, which meant I stopped crying and tried to look normal, and asked me where the cement works were. And boy he was gorgeous! And he had this super-cute accent (he must have been from Luxembourg). So I showed him the way and we discussed whether his vehicle would fit through the tiny, narrow roads (it did) and when he took the wrong way, I honked and showed him the right way. Not a big deal, but it totally brightened my mood so when I left him at the cement works, I felt all cheery and happy again. Well… until I realised I hadn’t given my number. But you know, like Frankie said, regrets, I’ve had a few…

{Frank Sinatra: My Way lyrics © CHRYSALIS MUSIC GROUP, Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.}

Bret and Oscar (Why I love NZ reasons 2355678-2355682)

Did you hear about it? The big news?

Bret won an Academy Award.

I don’t know if any of you are vaguely familiar with NZ hit comedy duo (and series) ‘Flight of the Conchords‘ (if not, you’re missing out big time) but I’m sure you have heard about ‘The Muppets‘, right?

Anyway, so ‘Flight of the Conchords’ star Bret McKenzie won best original song at this year’s Oscars for his contribution to the latest Muppets movie, ‘Man or Muppet’ (see NZ Herald for more on this story) and I’m sure my friends in NZ are super-excited about this.

I am, anyway, so I thought it would only be appropriate to celebrate New Zealand a bit.

This video has been around for ages now, but it still cracks me up every time I watch it – what a lovely “Wellington Love Letter”.

There are many other artists out there who want to show their love for New Zealand and Wellington, like this lady, for example.

Oh, and of course Sarah, who I know from “back in the day when I was at the star”. (Sorry, that was just a little insider joke I couldn’t resist to put in there – I actually know her from back in the day when we were journalism students in Wellington).

She has this awesome new feature on her little beautiful blog ‘You May Say I’m a Dreamer‘ called ‘WellyLove‘ and you should totally head over there and check it out. Now. RIGHT NOW.

Awesome, eh!?

And even thought the girl in the story is Sarah herself, she reminds me very much of myself too, as I used to walk the very same route when heading to campus.

Well, there are so many other things I could tell you about… so many reasons why I love New Zealand and particularly Wellington.

Honestly, I tried so hard to “forget” New Zealand, to get it out of my mind, just as I tried to “get over” coffee. Just the way you try to get over a lover who broke your heart.

I tried to give other countries a chance, England for instance – and that chapter in my life wasn’t quite what you would call “glorious”.

I know that when I’m in New Zealand, I’d most likely miss the comfort German homes have to offer (honestly, I might be biased, but in terms of insulation and central heating, German houses are seriously top of the list!), complain about the distance to my German friends, be sad about missing out on family birthdays and other celebrations and miss my hometown and my family…

But I also know that these things don’t really matter.

Kiwis – the people – are probably the most loveable nation on this planet (except for cats, maybe, and they are not a nation but a species) and their country is beautiful and I really hope that one day I will be able to go back and stay for good.

Wow, that was one moving speech, that was.

Are you as passionate about another country than the one you currently live in as I am?

The Postman Always Rings Twice

One day you dream of Pineapple Lumps in the snow, next day you get them delivered to your doorstep. Ain’t life sweet!

It seems to be down-under week here.

First I get a package from Australia, next thing I have a note in my mailbox that tells me to pay customs at my local post office for another package – from New Zealand.

The package from Oz contained this little beauty:

I first heard about the KeepCup about two years ago when I wrote a story about this eco-friendly takeaway coffee cup for The Wellingtonian.

You can imagine how much I love the fact that you can make your own colour choices out of 16.000 possible combinations – and of course I had to go for “something with pink”.

Anyway, I might do a proper product review in a couple of weeks’ time when I have tested it, but for now I can’t wait to show you what else I found in the mail.

After having paid a fortune for customes I got given this:

A wonderful, tightly wrapped, custom-checked parcel from my New Zealand host family (the family I stayed with when I was 15 and on a student exchange to NZ).

And it contained this:

Kiwiana: Six bags of Pineapple Lumps, two bags of Hokey Pokey Crunchie bars, one bag of teabags and lots of Christmas prezzies for me and my family.

And I got all of that just one day after I had dreamed of eating Pineapple Lumps in the snow.

Well, you know, I’m still waiting for the snow here but you can’t have everything at once…

Finale ohooo, Finale ohooooo! | WEEKEND WIND UP#48

You may have noticed by now that the one thing I tend to wax lyrical about is New Zealand.

I love this country so much and today my inner Kiwi has more than one reason to cheer.

 

 

The All Blacks, the NZ rugby team, just won against arch-enemy Australia in the semi-final of the rugby world cup!

(Ha! Aussies, that’s what you got for not giving me any coffee on my stopover on the way to Welly when I was in need!)

Also, I just found out that my Kiwi sister (from my NZ host family) got engaged! Congratulations!

I have been waiting for a suitable occassion to share this recipe of my Black Velvet All Blacks’ Velvet Cheesecake and I think I just leave it up to you which occassion you want to celebrate with this cake…

All Blacks’ Velvet Cheesecake:

For the cheesecake layer, mix

200 g quark

170 g cream cheese

150 g sour cream

125 g sugar (& some vanilla-flavoured sugar)

1 egg

and pour the mixture into a round springform tin. Bake at 180°C for approximately half an hour.

In the meantime you can mix the ingredients for the Black Velvet Cake:

45 g cooking oil

1 egg

1 cup espresso

1 pinch of salt

240 g buttermilk

200 g flour

2 tablespoons baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

40 g cocoa powder

180 g sugar

It’s best to first mix the wet ingredients and then add the dry ingredients until everything is evenly combined.

Then pour the mixture into either the springform tin you used for the cheesecake layer or another tin of the same size.

Bake at 180°C for about 40 minutes, let cool and dust with icing sugar.

By the way, it was the lovely Erin who first put a cheesecake layer in the middle of another cake when she made her fabulous Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake which inspired my All Blacks Velvet Cake. (You will notice that the ingredients are almost the same, but I’ve changed the amounts and proportions to make a more velvety cake…).

Now, I’ve put my flag up and continue my rugby celebrations now… see you later!

Flight of the Cupcakes

Once again I’m swept off my feet.

It must be discoverers’ week this week because following yesterdays Batman-style coffee, I am now excited to share another extra-ordinary goodie with you:

Flight of the Conchords-cupcakes!

THE REAL DEAL: Flight of the Conchords-cupcakes {via So Pauvre}

Aren’t they amazing?

“Flight of the Conchords” is a comedy duo from New Zealand and a US TV series of the same title – and they are just as hilarious as these little cakes look delicious.

I found the cupcakes on So Pauvre, “a blog about nothing” as Alicia calls it and I am absolutely amazed by how cute they look.

Plus: They are not only cupcakes, but also New Zealand-related.

Class act.

Or – to put it in Murray’s words: “They came. They saw. They chonchord.”

Luigi’s outdoor adventures | WEEKEND WIND UP #39

I think it’s time to share some more pictures of Luigi with you.

He’s too fast for my camera most of the time, but I managed to get some decent shots of him the other day.

This week, he went outside for the first time and I am happy to say that he found his way back home. (In the first picture, you can see him on one of his many adventures – chasing ants. You obviously can’t see the ants, but believe me, he chased them!)

He is so cute, but quite exhausting, too, because he can never sit still.

I admit, the pics are a bit misleading because it looks as if he was relaxing on a garden chair all day long when in actual fact he was running around all the time…

So the following pic is actually more like him:

In other news, I am excited to tell you that my Tupperware order has arrived.

No, that was actually not what I was going to tell you (even though it’s true – my Tupperware stuff has arrived and I am excited!) – I’ve been awarded my first blog award!

The Joyful Sparrow passed on the Versatile Blogger Award to my blog! Thank you!

The rules have gone lost a little bit, but I believe I have to pass on the award to five other people (who shall be named in the following) and tell you some random stuff about myself.

So… let me think… I start with naming five bloggers who deserve the award, because that seems easier than telling you random stuff about myself (although that’s what I do here on coffeerocketfairytale anyway, isn’t it!?).

In no particular order (because all your blogs are awesome):

They have all been awarded because the post so many exciting, interesting and beautiful things almost every day and I really appreciate the value they add to my daily reading.

Okay… so the random stuff about me-part is a bit tricky… let me think again…

  1. I love baking, but I really have trouble making a decent sponge cake with buttercream filling.
  2. I probably know my way around in New Zealand better than in Germany, although I have been born here and lived here most of my life. (Plus, I most likely know more New Zealand towns than German towns.)
  3. I absolutely love (decent) journalism but I loathed being a so-called “entertainment journalist”.
  4. I can’t stay in one place for longer than three weeks without getting “the itch” – I am most likely addicted to travelling (if there is such a thing).
  5. I set the kitchen on fire yesterday. (True story – I made a cake and made one fatal mistake: I followed the recipe! That’s basically the gist of the matter, but I’m going to tell you that story when I tell you about the cake I made…)

Pix’ Blog anniversary | WEEKEND WIND UP #38

“Show me something that means a lot to you.”

That’s all Pixelschubser.in is asking for.

She celebrates her blog anniversary (congrats, by the way!) with a giveaway and a contest and although I usually don’t like blogging about other people’s giveaways, the topic was just too tempting this time.

Her question would make the perfect blog post.

At least that’s what I thought – before I realised that showing you something that means a lot to me is not as easy as it may seem at first.

Bon Jovi, New Zealand, typewriters and my cat were the things that came instantly to my mind when I thought about it.

BUT…

I really don’t want to annoy you with my Bon Jovi ramblings any longer.

I have gone on and on and on about it and after all I don’t want you to roll with your eyes, say goodbye and never come back again.

So no Bon Jovi.

Everyone knows how crazy I am about New Zealand so it’s basically no new revelation if I tell you that I’m obsessed with that country.

The typewriter I was thinking about…

Well, the thing is that I don’t actually own the typewriter of my dreams, so it wouldn’t be right to refer to it as something that means much to me.

Finally, my cat. He passed away last summer and although he is probably the closest to my heart someone or something could possibly get he is not here anymore…

I could go on with my list forever, but I quickly came to another conclusion.

The one thing I really need in my life is… Tatatatataaaaa…

I spent half a week trying to draw something. Didn't work out, but hopefully you appreciate the effort I put into using image editing! ^^

COFFEE.

(No! Who would have thought?)

(Well, technically, I should say: coffee and music, but that makes two things and since I’m still Bon Jovi-heartbroken, music doesn’t really count, right!?)

Now, it might seem a bit eccentric to opt for coffee here, but please let me explain.

They make the best coffee in Wellington. That is a fact and not debatable. And also my New Zealand connection.

A famous quote by Jon Bon Jovi goes: “Never start the day without a cup of coffee. Never leave the house without a pair of sunglasses. And never ever own a mini van.” And that’s my Bon Jovi connection. (And yes, I know quotes like that by heart. Never underestimate such knowledge, though, you never know when you might need it. Next time you think about buying a mini van, for example. – Also, yes, I realise that I wasn’t going to use Bon Jovi as an argument. But what shall I say? I’m infected. So all I can say is: Get Richie or die trying.)

The smell and taste of coffee also reminds me of a very special person. Probably the love of my life – but that’s a different story.

Drinking coffee makes me feel connected to this person and despite the heartache (yes, I might have self-destructive tendencies, sometimes, but don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds) it also brings back great memories.

Plus: the smell of coffee is awesome. Ha!

✩ ✩ ✩

Is there a “little” thing in your life that means the world to you? Tell me about it! 

Matryoshka Madness | WEEKEND WIND UP #33

Ever since I can remember, I was particularly fascinated by little things.

When I was little, my favourite toys were those tiny animals made of rubber that are actually a choking hazard to every child but since I promised not to put them in my mouth, I was somehow allowed to play with them.

Another toy I really liked to play with was my matryoshka doll set and I particularly loved to take the mini-doll, the tiniest one in the middle, out and play with it.

On the web, I found some pics of matryoshka dolls – aren’t they pretty?

I can’t even decide which ones I like best but I’d probably go for the set in the top left corner if I had to choose one.

Matryoshka dolls have a long history – may I quote Wikipedia to introduce you to the early beginnings of Russian doll-making:

{click for more info}

As pretty as they are – nowadays matryoshka dolls can be so much more than “just” colourful toys.

A little while ago I discovered a set of measuring cups that was basically a set of matryoshka dolls:

{click for source}

You can get them via Dream In Plastic, where you can also find a tea set for two – also in matryoshka design!

{click for source}

I just wished there weren’t any shipping costs… I don’t really want to order overseas because shipping costs and airfares are always so high.

Still – both items are on my wish list!

But here is my absolute favourite: a matryoshka carafe set!

{click for source}

Just like with the tea set, you can pop off the head and turn it into a cup.

So cute!

I’m actually thinking about taking the risk despite the shipping costs…

When doing my Easter shopping last week, I came across another matryoshka-related product: a book.

Having studied in New Zealand, I had the pleasure of meeting bestselling author Kate De Goldi one night and now her book “The 10pm Question” conquers the German market – with a beautiful cover.

BOOK COVER (via Google)

I can’t tell you if the book is any good but judging on what I’ve heard so far it must be a really good read and I put it on my list of books I need to check out.

Do you know of any more matryoshka-related products or would you like to share your matryoshka-story?

An unintented love letter

So speaking of… – no, actually, let me go back a little and explain things from a different angle: let me first reveal who inspired me to start this blog.

She might not know it – and I can’t quite recall how it happened that I found her blog in the first place – but it was Kim from Cupcakes and Mace who’s blog I saw, fell in love with and then absolutely childish {as I tend to get when I see something I like} yelled out: “I want one, too!”

So here we are, that’s how this lousy attempt of a creative space started up…

What I was originally going to say was that now that I have my own blog, I still keep reading hers {and those of many others} and the other day I just came across one of her posts, which really touched me.

In relation to the devastating erathquake that struck Christchurch about a week and a half ago, she wrote a short {well, compared to my wordy posts short} but very compelling and heart-breaking but also heart-warming posts that touched my heart. – READ HERE

That she says she feels “more patriotic than ever” says it all.

And that is exactly the reason why – as most of you would know by now as I have mentioned it quite a few times, I think – I love that country and even more its inhabitants so much: if it goes bad Kiwis stick together, if it gets even worse they stick together even more and help each other out and if there’s a crisis they are still the most generous, friendly and welcoming people I have ever encountered.

Their positive thinking was what always fascinated me about New Zealanders and it gives me reason to believe that my beloved Kiwis will also manage to handle this crisis.

[P.S.: When I started writing this blog post, I just intended to point out how amazingly Kim’s blog post just tells about all the aspects New Zealanders feature, but then it kind of turned into a hommage to her blog and a love letter to Kiwis, which is just as well, so I decided to just go ahead with whatever my two typing hands produced… Just so you know.]