December 31, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge October - December

Here's a run down of how far I got with my 2011 Reading Challenge from July through September:

Total Books Read: 46 (+116)

Fiction: 32 (+84)
Non-fiction: 14 (+32)

Physical Books: 15 (+53)
eBooks: 31 (+63)

Female Authors: 21 (+59)
Male Authors: 25 (+47)

For Review: 12 (+43)

Numbers in brackets are stats for January through September!

October
117. Carnival Of Fear (JG Faherty)
118. The Monster Inside (JG Faherty)
119. These Hellish Happenings (Jennifer Rainey)
120. Ice Age (Iain Rowan)
121. Future Destinies (Chris Turner)
122. Sweet Invention (Michael Krondl)
123. Social Q's (Philip Galanes)
124. Dark Inside (Jeyn Roberts)
125. The Realms Thereunder (Ross Lawhead)
126. Everything I Never Wanted To Be (Dina Kucera)
127. My Heart Stopped Beating (Chamed)
128. Secrets Of Transformation (Eva Dillner)
129. The Maze Runner (James Dashner)
130. The Iron King (Julie Kagawa)
131. Evil Genius (Patricia Rice)
132. The Curse Of Anna Greene (Mary Aris)
133. PeaceMaker (Dan Ronco)
134. Unholy Domain (Dan Ronco)

November
135. Borrowed Saints (Aaron Polson)
136. That's Disgusting (Rachel Herz)
137. Write-A-Thon (Rochelle Melander)
138. No Alibi (Jenny Hilborne)
139. Laying The Odds (J.R. Tomlin)
140. Peace, Love, And Murder (Nancy Holzner)
141. Counting From Zero (Alan B. Johnston)
142. Changers Summer (Mike Lewis)
143. The Boy & Little Witch (Ben White)
144. AfterWord (Dale Salwak)
145. What Language Is (John McWorther)
146. The Way We Fall (Megan Crewe)
147. The Language Of Flowers: A Miscellany (Mandy Kirkby)
148. Death: A Survival Guide (Sarah Brewer)

December
149. The Secret Life Of A Slummy Mummy (Fiona Neill)
150. Am I Really Hungry? (Jane Bernard)
151. The Omnivore's Dilemma (Michael Pollan)
152. The Edinburgh Dead (Brian Ruckley)
153. The Burning Sky (Joseph Robert Lewis)
154. The Broken Sword (Joseph Robert Lewis)
155. Get Lenin (Robert Craven)
156. Doris Day: Her Own Story (A.E. Hotchner)
157. Invitation To Ruin (Bronwen Evans)
158. The Great Betrayal (Millenia Black)
159. Evilution (Shaun Jeffrey)
160. Killers (Shaun Jeffrey)
161. Death's Hand (SM Reine)
162. Solstice (P.J. Hoover)

And now *drumroll* the grand total of books read in 2011!

Total Books Read: 162

Fiction: 116
Non-fiction: 46

Physical Books: 68
eBooks: 94

Female Authors: 80
Male Authors: 82

For Review: 55

Blog Stats 2011 October - December

A year went by (obviously) which means it's high time to share with you some end-of-year blog stats!

This might just look like a graph showing my page views (actually it is, ha), but in all honesty ... it is also a graph showing how my TBR piles have grown. I ain't joking!

Some facts for the curious ...

My page views passed the 35.000 mark in December.
There are 531 blog posts (including this one).
Exactly 3576 comments (as of this morning).
I've got 847 GFC followers.
The number 1 website that leads people here is, not all too surprisingly, Google.
Most of my readers are from the US (42,3%).
Preferably my blog gets viewed with Firefox.
And only one non-giveaway post made it into the Top Ten viewed blog posts. Which one? The one about Snoopy.

Top Five blog posts by weekly features ...

A Writer's Life
The notebook
Ten inch nails
Careful ... you may not end up in my novel
Corect righting
Please don't stop the music

Quote Garden
Reading in bed
The importance of a piece of paper
Date a girl who reads
If life is a bowl of cherries ...
The coffee mug

Beyond the Shelf
Simon & Schuster Galley Grab
LibraryThing vs. Goodreads
BookSneeze and NetGalley
BookCrossing
Project Gutenberg

Picture Garden
That's The Way I Like It
All The Leaves Have Fallen
Simply Beautiful
The Real Thing
Being Different

The Others
Snoopy
Dean Koontz
Jessica Fletcher
The Brothers Grimm
Stephen King

Pajama Musings
Who the hell is Anton Yelchin!?
Book abuse
The wonderous ways of TBD
Distracted much?
The Bookshopper

Books Aplenty
My download addiction
I almost forgot ...
I want to be a Diva, but I might pass on trying to have 50 jobs in only a year
It's only a matter of speed
From chick-lit to bloke-lit

In My Mailbox
20
21
Christmas Edition


Non Fiction Reviews
Sister Species
Malled
The Tao Of Travel
My Business Is To Create
Paradise Lust

Fiction Reviews
The Judas Gospel
The Skin Map
The Realms Thereunder
The Seraph Seal
Blood Red Road

Giveaways
Gratitude Giveaways
Blogoversary Giveaway #1
Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop
BlogFest 2011
200 Followers Giveaway

Pajama Musings - Bookish New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again. If you haven't already noticed, the end is near. Of 2011. Hopefully also the end of some book related habits I developed that can only be described with one word. Bad.

Obviously I've been a very good girl as far as reading is concerned. I managed to read tons of books this year, after all. On the other hand three books rolled in for every book I read, at least it feels that way. So, you see, there is room for improvement. A lot of it, actually. Think wide open plains.

Let me introduce you to my bookish New Year's Resolutions!
Yep, plural.

No eBook hoarding!
Basically this means no free downloads, no eBook requests on LibraryThing, no entering giveaways for eBooks and ... well, in case I have overlooked anything else that includes the words "free" and "eBook" let's just say, it is strictly forbidden!
Why? I've been stuffing my eReader that it's bordering on the ridiculous. While all those books don't take away physical space, if you saw my digital TBR list you'd question my sanity. Even I question my sanity in that regard. So, enough is enough!

Reading more books in the German language!
I realized that all through 2011 I only read English books. There was not a single book in German among them, neither original language nor translation. It's not as though there wouldn't be any on my TBR piles, on the contrary, but somehow I always felt drawn to the English ones. This shall change. I'm on the verge of forgetting my own mother tongue if I keep this up, in fact, I have this slight suspicion that my decision to write a short-story book in English instead of German is related to my reading habits. So from now on I want to read at least two books in my own language each month. Not the big leap you probably expected, but a start in the right direction anyway.

Reading challenges on a small scale!
I signed up for a Reading Challenge in 2011 with the goal to read 100 books. To my own surprise I already hit that number in August and ultimately I managed to read 162 books. To be honest with you, I rushed through a lot of them and in the future I really want to savor them and not just scoff them down like a hungry hyena. This means I'm not going to aim at reading a certain amount of books, because this evidently happens anyway. In fact, I'm going to take it a wee bit slower next year. What I am definitely looking forward to are my own two challenges though - the Dean Koontz one, and the one with the chunksters!

Book Buying Ban!
If you aren't impressed by the previous resolutions this one will knock you off your feet. I'm not talking about a month of buying no books. I'm not talking about two months. And, alright, I'm not talking about a full year either. My aim is not to acquire any new books in the first half of the new year. Yep, I'm talking about six months without book buying *gasp* I know this sounds as if I have lost my mind (again), but trust me there is no other way to diminish my mountain ranges of unread books. Does this ban scare me? Actually no. It would be a lot more scary if I kept up my book hoarding. Oh, and by the way, winning books in giveaways or receiving books as gifts will be allowed. I'm not that crazy!

So, you see, I thought long and hard and those are my New Year's resolutions. Have you got any bookish resolutions for 2012? Feel free to share!

December 30, 2011

Book 101 - (Auto)biograhy

Not everybody likes to read biographies or autobiographies, but sometimes it will lure in even those who would otherwise never touch non fiction books. Some might go straight for the bare-all tales of 20 year old so-called Hollywood stars while others tend to grab the memoirs of a real oh-the-good-old-days personality who shares memories of a fascinating life. I'm certainly not for book burning, but in case I should ever run out of fire wood I'd gladly use some wanna-be stars memoirs to warm my feet. Yes, I confess, I don't really see the necessity of [insert name of wannabe starlet with slight drug abuse problem]'s memoirs. Of course [insert name of wannabe starlet with slight drug abuse problem] probably did not write them herself anyway, but some poor sap was paid to do so - yep, I'm awfully prejudiced, but who could blame me? And then, of course, there's this whole thing about authorized and unauthorized aka juicy biographies ...

But some facts first.

The biography is an account of a person's life written down by another. Sometimes biographies are written as biographical novels providing a fictional and usually entertaining account of a person's life. In both cases the author will focus on the experiences a person had during their lifetime, though in the latter case the combination of fact and fiction lends the biography the appearance of a novel. In both cases names and accounts may or may not be changed when necessary.

An autobiography or memoir is a retrospective prose narrative produced by a person concerning his or her own existence, focusing on their individual life. Sometimes an author will opt for a autobiographical novel instead, the story still bearing a close resemblance to that of the author's life, yet names and locations are often changed, and events are recreated to make them more dramatic. While the events of the author's life are recounted, there is no pretense of exact truth. Events may be exaggerated or altered for artistic or thematic purposes.
To be considered an autobiographical, there must be a protagonist modeled after the author and a central plotline that mirrors events in his or her life. Novels that do not fully meet these requirements or are further distanced from true events are sometimes called semi-autobiographical novels.

So, now that we've brought the dry part of what (auto)biographies are behind us, let's focus on my personal preferences in that genre. I guess by now we've established that I don't care about [insert name of wannabe starlet with slight drug abuse problem]'s life. Equally I'm really more of a want-to-hear-it-from-the-source-itself kind of person when it comes to reading about other people's lives. I've recently read Doris Day: Her Own Story (as told to A.E. Hotchner) which I truely loved. Of course there are some parts were her biographer recounts his meetings with Doris and his impressions of her, but mostly you will read her story in her own words which have been transcribed from tapes. Honest, funny, serious, touching - the whole range without the whole flashy I-need-to-make-some-extra-bucks-so-I-can-buy-myself-a-joint-after-being-released-from-jail kind of crap.

Do you like to read (auto)biographies? If so, any recommendations for me? Please share!

December 29, 2011

Picture Garden - The Not So White Season

"THE NOT SO WHITE SEASON"
A festive yet snow-less impression of the old town district.
I've been really hoping I could share a snow pic today, but alas the Weather Gods weren't on my side and didn't provide any snow flakes for my photographic endeavors. I trust we will be buried in snow in January though.

Be ready for a whole new Picture Garden experience starting in 2012 - brought to you by my lovely new Nikon camera!

December 28, 2011

Winner Announcement

I realize that most will just skim over these lines and eagerly check the winner's names below in the hope they are among the lucky ones. So to avoid that anybody dozes off reading this I'm going to make it short and just say THANKS for being here and reading my blog and a warm WELCOME to all new followers too!

And let's not forget my wonderful Blogoversary sponsors Leigh, Julie and Kim - THANK YOU so much again for being part of the giveaways and spoiling my readers with some of your lovely creations!

Oh, alright then ... you may now check the winner's names!

Winner of the Blogoversary Giveaway #1
A necklace of choice from Pretty Little Charms

Winner of the Blogoversary Giveaway #2
A book of choice by Dean Koontz

Diana

Winner of the Blogoversary Giveaway #3
A book of choice by Terry Pratchett

Lulu

Winner of the Blogoversary Giveaway #4
A bookmark of choice from Belle Rose Designs

Amy

Winner of the Blogoversary Giveaway #5
A book of choice by Sophie Kinsella

AmbreRose

Winner of the Blogoversary Giveaway #6
A book of choice by Tess Gerritsen

Stella @ Ex Libris

Winner of the Blogoversary Giveaway #7
A $20,00 GC from Satelliter

miki

Winner of the Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop
Wordsworth book by Dickens or Brothers Grimm

Susan @ The Book Bag

E-mails are on the way! Due to the holiday season the winners will have a full week to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

Alright folks, that's it with giveaways for 2011!
See you again for more giveaway fun next year!!

Beyond the Shelf - Books Set In

Have you ever wanted to read books set in a certain country or city to get into the mood for your next vacation there? Did you end up looking for such books for hours, browsing the internet, maybe asking dome friends? Were the books you did find to your liking, or even worse, didn't you really find any books at all? If so, you're certainly not alone, because when ever I tried to find a book set in eg Orlando (one of my fav destinations) I wouldn't have known how on earth to find any novels set in the city. And travel guides obviously do not count. Equally I've always admired folks who are planning reading groups focusing on books set in a particular region. Just thinking about one such reading challenge in particular *waves hello to Ally and her love for venice* makes me marvel at how people find great reads for it. Anyway, in case you're in need of a book set in Edinburgh or Kazakhstan or Mars, look no longer ... I present to you the website you've all been waiting for (in fact I've been waiting for such a site myself for ages but only ever found out about it recently) - Books Set In.

Here you can look up tons of books by location. Just pick the continent, then the country and finally the city, and voila, you get a nice amount of books set right there. And yes, you can even fly to Outer Space here!

So, what about Edinburgh, Kazakhstan and Mars then?
You may look up lists of books for all three and lo and behold, I even found a book that features all three places. I present to you The Stone Canal (Ken MacLeod). Now you're impressed, right? So am I.

But seriously, this is such an amazing site! You can just the same look for a certain author and where his/her novels are set. Or how about by genre? If you're not big on lists, maybe you want to try out Google Map Search to find books instead. And in case you miss a particular book that you know well yourself, feel free to add it to the list.

That said, head on over and have fun exploring, and consequently, reading!

December 27, 2011

Quote Garden - Christmas Time

I have a sort of Christmas-morning sense of the library as a big box full of beautiful books.
Audrey Niffenegger

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
Maya Angelou

Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.
Lenore Hershey

The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.
George Carlin

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
Charles Dickens

December 26, 2011

A Writer's Life - 366 days of writing

Those who aren't aware of it yet, the next year will bring us one additional day to be spent at out leisure. You can use February 29th in a lot of different ways. Sleeping. Reading. More sleeping. Or writing, of course. While I don't exactly plan ahead for the leap day, I thought I'd share with you my general authorial plans for 2012. And there are quite a few, so I better be thankful for that extra day, and on second thought, maybe it will also help to only sleep four hours a day. Then again, with only four hours of sleep I'd be the first published zombie writer, and I have this feeling this won't make for great publicity shots. Anyway.

I have three projects I want to finish next year.

No 1 - The next in line
Nope, this isn't the title of the book, haha! I'm referring to a follow up on my inspirational gift book series that I started with The Attic in My Yard this year.
Working title? A Cup of Simplicity
Progress? Haven't started on it yet.
Language? English.

No 2 - Keeping it short
Once again, this isn't the title, though it gives away what kind of book it will be, namely a short story compilation of speculative fiction, reminiscent of the Twilight Zone if you want to get a better idea of the direction I'll be taking here.
Working title? down below and in between
Progress? I have already written jotted down outlines for several stories.
Language? English (I must be crazy, but when I realized how much I've been reading in English this year, trying myself on writing in English seemed like the next logical step)

No 3 - Dissecting the author
Could be a fast paced thriller in which body parts are being sent to an unsuspecting young author. But it's not. Yet the genre is right, and the main character is an author.
Working title? Now
Progress? I already started on the novel in late 2010, though I haven't been working on it all that regularly. I felt stuck with a certain part of the plot, and after this knot finally unraveled this November, I'm finally back on track. Figuring in my story board for the book, my guess is that I've got roughly 20% of it written down.
Language? German

So, as you can see, 2012 will be quite busy for me! Truth be told, these aren't by far all the projects that occupy my time, just the ones I really want to finish in the next twelve months.

Wish me luck! What am I saying? It's not a matter of luck, but a matter of placing my butt in front of the computer and write away ...

December 25, 2011

My Bookworm Santa

The Magic Attic
This year I decided to put on my Santa hat and join in one of the many Secret Santa book exchanges out there. As I've been a long time follower of Bree's The Magic Attic it goes without saying that I had to sign up for My Bookworm Santa on her blog.

Today's the day when we will reveal our secret identities *insert Mission Impossible theme music* to those we played Santa for. In case you should know Ashley from Bookaholics Anonymous then psst don't tell her this, but I'm her Secret Santa ... and I sent her the following two books!


And now, what did my Secret Santa surprise me with? Well, I'll be kept in suspense a little longer it seems, because Rudolph has taken a wrong turn somewhere and Santa is consequently a wee bit delayed. Of course, once I hear my bookish present rattle down the chimey I will update this post straight away!

*****

Woohoo ... my prezzie has finally arrived! I can't believe that TBD needed almost a month to deliver, but I'm sooo happy that my Secret Santa picked a book from my personal Top Five books on my wishlist, so it was worth the wait!!

Thank you Amber!!!

In My Mailbox - Christmas Edition

You should have seen my face when on Monday my wonderful mailman dragged a huge bag to my doorstep. Need I seriously mention what was in that bag? After a bit of joking that he needed to wear a red coat and grow a beard I was left with a whole stash of books I had recently ordered. Long story short, here's what Santa ... uhm, Mr. Postman ... brought this week!

Let's start with books from The Book Depository - Soul Screamers Vol 1. (Rachel Vincent), Murder Of A Bookstore Babe (Denise Swanson) and A Killer Plot (Ellery Adams).

The rest of my loot came from AwesomeBooks who had a fantastic buy-4-pay-3 book promotion that I simply couldn't resist. Basically I paid rougly € 2,20 for each book (including shipping!). Yep, we're talking used books, but a girl needs to watch her bank account, ya know!

A Week At The Airport (Alain De Botton)
Checkout (Anna Sam)
The Secret Shopper Unwrapped and The Secret Shopper's Revenge (Kate Harrison)
Death By Darjeeling and Shades Of Earl Grey (Laura Childs)
Latte Trouble, Murder Most Frothy, Decaffeinated Corpse and French Pressed (Cleo Coyle)

Beautiful Creatures (Kami Garcia)
Poison Study (Maria V. Snyder)
Evermore (Alison Noel)
Wake (Lisa McMann)
Siren (Tricia Rayburn)
Hereafter (Tara Hudson)
Moonlight (Rachel Hawthorne)
Need (Carrie Jones)

Evernight (Claudia Gray)
Numbers (Rachel Ward)
Hush, Hush (Becca Fitzpartick)
Sisters Red (Jackson Pearce)
Shade (Jeri Smith-Ready)
Tender Morsels (Margo Lanagan)
The Secret Hour (Scott Westerfeld)
Passing Strange (Daniel Waters)
Prophecy Of The Sisters (Michelle Zink)
Claire De Lune (Christine Johnson)

And for those of you who are drooling over that list just remember my previously mentioned plan of finding new homes for old books! Did I just hear a collective YAY? And not to worry, I'll be reading fast, so to share some of today's bookish goodness with some of my readers rather sooner than later.

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or simply a nice long weekend! And to those who do celebrate Christmas - may there be plenty of bookish gifts underneath your trees!

December 23, 2011

Giving away in 2012

As you all know I not only love to enter giveaways, I also frequently participate in various giveaway hops, plus I like to spoil my followers with giveaways specifically for them too. Contemplating giveaways for 2012 I made some decisions.

I will participate in one giveaway hop each month. This year I sometimes had two hops a month, and frankly, this is just too much. I do allow myself a certain budget for my blog, but still.

I will continue giving away books through TBD or Amazon GCs, as well as bookish stuff from CafePress. The latter was initially just a different idea I had and as so many of you were excited about winning book totes and the likes, I figured why change this. So, I won't.

There will be a whole new monthly giveaway feature for my readers - let me introduce you to the "2 by 2 Giveaway"! Sounds intriguing? It sure is. Once a month, for only 2 days, one of you will have the chance to win their choice of one of 2 featured books. 2 by 2, you get the idea. There will be no warning when this giveaway will go up, but once it does you only have 48 hours to enter. The books from which you may choose always have a certain theme, this might be everything from the genre to the color of the cover. My book choices will (for the most part) not be mainstream, thus perfect for the eclectic readers among you!

Finding new homes for old books! I can't possibly keep each and every book I read so why not share them with my readers through occasional pre-loved book giveaways on my blog? The thing is - and you all know how I always try to keep my giveaways international - that this will be a rare case of Europe only, because postage is simply too high to ship overseas. I estimate there will probably only be about 30% of readers who may enter these giveaways, but hey, that raises your chances to win the box, right! Box? Oh yes, I'm thinking big here, big as in a box with up to ten books. 'nuff said.

And apropos of giveaways! Most of my Blogoversary giveaways are still open, and don't forget to enter the Mid-Winters Eve Giveaway Hop either!

December 22, 2011

Reviewing in 2012

Looking back on my first year of blogging I must admit that I did more in regard to reviewing than I initially thought I would. I figured there might be the odd review every now and then, but my stats speak louder than my plans - I reviewed a total of 55 books this year!

New year, new plans!

At least 75% non fiction reviews!
It's no secret that I consider myself to be a non fiction reviewer despite the odd fiction novel occasionaly sneaking in. With 39 non fiction books, and 16 regular novels reviewed this year, I didn't quite reach the 75% hurdle, but next year I really want to make fiction the exception and let those non fiction reviews soar!

No reviews for non-review books!
That might need some explaining. I used to review every single book I read. Those I received specifically for review and my own books (the latter were only put on LibraryThing and Goodreads though). I already cancelled my private reviews this November. It was simply too time consuming and started feeling like a chore. The Damocles Sword of having to write a review really dampened the whole enjoyment of reading. I will still put ratings to the books and post two or three lines about how I found them on my blog each Sunday, but that'll be it.

No more than five eGalleys for review at a time!
Five is the magic number! But seriously, you have to draw the line somewhere and five seemed reasonable. This translates to not requesting tons of books on NetGalley. I sure overdid this when I first discovered the wonderful world of eGalleys. The excitement is still here, yet I'm a lot wiser now, and pressure is not what I need or want. Reading should be fun, not a job. Then again if it was a job and got paid well ... but I digress.

No longer accepting review requests!
From now on I will only actively request books I want to review, be it on sites like NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Galley Grab (in case they ever send out a newsletter again, because the last one I got was back in September) or directly from publishers. Time might not exactly be money, but it sure is precious.

Afterthought on my review policy ...
Some days I seriously wonder why I even have a page advertising my review policy. I receive an awful lot of review requests were it's evident the authors didn't even glance at it. I know I'm not alone with this and other bloggers experience the same thing. I used to explain each and every author why exactly I would not review their books - in most cases because the book simply didn't fit in with my reviewing-theme - but enough of that! From now on it's the standard reply of "Sorry, I no longer accept any new review requests!". Of course I could just ignore them, but to me it's good manners to at least reply.

A word of the wise to authors looking for bloggers to review their books!
Read the f§$%&ing review policy!
Keep it personal, yet short and crisp!
Trust me, heeding these two pieces of advice might not get you that review you want, but it certainly raises your chances!

December 21, 2011

Mid-Winter's Eve Blog Hop

Welcome to the
Mid-Winter's Eve Blog Hop
(December 21st - December 27th)
hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Oasis for YA

What is a giveaway hop? That's simple. Each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another. For followers this means lots of chances to win free books and other goodies. For blogs hosting a giveaway it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win!

And now …
… how about a book that would go wonderfully well with a nice cup of tea, some cookies and a crackling fire place?

I'm giving away your choice of either The Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm or The Selected Illustrated Works of Charles Dickens (Wordsworth Library Collection) to the lucky winner!
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

As always, entering on my blog will be sweet and simple. All you have to do is answer the following question and leave your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.

The question:
Which of the two books would you like to win?
(Brothers Grimm or Charles Dickens)

Rules
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on December 28th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. Due to the holiday season the winner will have a full week to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

And now, head on over to the rest of the blog hop participants!

December 20, 2011

Closed for Refurbishments

Oh, alright, my blog isn't totally and completely closed for some gigantic make-over, but this week is obviously a wee bit different than the schedule you're all used to. As to the title of this post, yes, things will change a bit starting next week.

First of all, a lot will stay the same. You'll be able to sneak a peak into my adventures in writing in A Writer's Life on Mondays. Just the same I'll be sharing great quotes and sayings in Tuesday's Quote Garden. Wednesday, as always, will take you Beyond the Shelf, and Saturdays continue to be the day of wearing pajamas while sharing random thoughts about everything even remotely bookish in Pajama Musings.

So what happened to the rest of the days? You might have already noticed that I already started a whole new Friday feature this month, replacing The Others with Book 101. So this change has already taken place.

The remaining two days, Thursday and Sunday, might be surprising days for any kind of change, but let me explain.

Picture Garden has always been one of my fav days and also very popular among my readers, so it will certainly not be replaced. Yet I am raising the stakes and instead of presenting you various snapshots made with my trusty lil' digital camera I want to take a more artistic approach with my wonderful new Nikon. In the end photos might still have that snapshot feel to them, but I will probably have needed hours of accomplishing that instead or mere minutes with my old camera *wink*.

What remains is Sunday. The day of Books Aplenty where I shared with you the books I read and the books I received. Sometime in spring I already moved all physical books I received during the week to In My Mailbox posts, only mentioning the eBooks along with the books I read. From now on I will put all books received, physical and digital, into my In My Mailbox post and adapting to this change I've renamed Books Aplenty to The Reading Files which makes a whole lot more sense. This feature will be presented in a whole new format, including the covers of books along with the blurb and, most importantly, I'll share what I thought about them. All in all I plan to keep it short and crisp.

I hope I haven't forgotten anything important that might look totally different compared to before, but in case I did, fear not, this is still the same blog. I just dressed it in this lovely new cardigan to spice things up a bit.

December 19, 2011

Twelve very random thoughts on my first year of blogging

On the top of the mountain
Boy, did I read this year! I've always been reading a lot, but somehow the amount of books that I've ploughed through must have tripled. Equally my TBR pile which, as a friend just recently reminded me, has at the same time grown from a measly molehill to a whole mountain range. It's a miracle that my downstairs neighbor hasn't complained about a sagging ceiling. Yet.

When your mailman shows you photos of his four year old grandson, you know that you've got a slight online-book-ordering problem
On the upside, my wonderful mailman never complains about having to drag my book loot up to my door. In fact, a little while ago he teased me about whether I've already read all the books he brought the day before. I swear, I'd never have guessed he was old enough to even have a grandchild, so maybe walking up and down all those stairs is keeping him young. See, in the end I'm doing him a favor with ordering so many books!

Resistance is futile
Taking stock of my principles I kicked one to the curb and did the unspeakable. I bought myself an eReader earlier this year. In my defense, I only did so out of fear of going blind reading all those eGalleys on the computer. Of course I only wanted that gadget for review purposes, but that's not exactly how the story ended. Free eBook downloads are my downfall. Seriously.

The book that came before blogging
I'm obviously not as addicted to Facebook as I thought I would be. In the past year I spent most of my online time in the Blogosphere. If it weren't for occasional status updates on Facebook condolence cards would probably be rolling in.

Gimme
Entering book giveaways has developed to one of my favorite pastimes. Who could blame me? Free stuff, people! Books at that. Could it get much better? I don't think so.

The kids have grown up so fast
I would have never thought I'd read and enjoy YA books. A year ago I merely considered them "books for kids" *ducks and runs* How wrong was I! It's never a matter of age, it's a matter of great story telling!

Zombies are cool
Their eating habits are a bit disturbing though. My literary attraction might have its roots in my subconscious trying to compensate the fact that I'm a vegetarian. Then again, maybe I'm just weird like that.

Safety net
When the computer or the internet strikes I feel the urge to throw open the window and scream at the top of my lungs. Fortunately I have two computers, ha. In case both should die on me at the same time it better have to do with a zombie invasion. That would at least distract me a bit.

The heart of Europe
I've made so many wonderful friends in the blogosphere in the last year, and oddly enough most of them are living here in Europe too. Me thinks there should be a European Book Bloggers Meet-Up one day. To shorten the journey for everyone wouldn't it make sense to meet in my wonderful home country Austria? After all, it isn't called the heart of Europe for nothing!

In the corner
I rarely watch TV anymore as I'd rather stick my nose in a book. Ultimately this means I replaced one habit with another. A better one at that.

Ms Castle
On special occasion I do watch TV though. Some days I wonder what would happen if I sauntered into the local police station introducing myself as an author who needs to do some research. I'd end up being the laugh of the town, but still, the idea warms my heart!

Shine on me
Authors are awesome. I am too. An author. And awesome. Then again, I knew that already. I'm referring to the first comment. And the other one too. *wink*

December 18, 2011

In My Mailbox - Blogoversary Edition

Not as though this week's mailbox has anything to do with my Blogoversary, but it's kind of a catchy title! But let's not waste time on talking and instead take a look at my wonderful book haul!

I have won Incubus (Carol Goodman) through entering a giveaway hop at Pen To Paper and seeing how I seldomly win in hops this was all the more exciting.

Another book I've won in a giveaway from a local newspaper is Kakanien: Neue Republik der Dichter (Plinio Bachmann, Rita Czapka, Knut Neumayer). Very literary, but a girl can't thrive on chick lit alone.

And my first bookish Christmas present arrived as well! My friend Amy sent me Little Women / Little Men / Jo's Boys (Lousia May Alcott) which, shockingly enough, I never read. About time I do! I can see, Amy nods in agreement.

Because of my book buying ban in 2012 (yes, I'm still very serious about that) I also went on a wee shopping spree. Right now I'm still waiting for quite a lot, but I already received Keep The Change and Waiter Rant (Steve Dublanica) from The Book Depository.

My shopping at AwesomeBooks has been even more extensive (which you'll find out over the course of the next few weeks when dozens *cough* of books will roll in). What arrived so far is All I Know About Animal Behavior I Learned In Loehmann's Dressing Room and The Best Of Bombeck: At Wit's End, Just Wait Til You Have Children Of Your Own, I Lost EveryThing In The Post-Natal Depression (Erma Bombeck), plus The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries Omnibus 1: Real Murders; A Bone to Pick; Three Bedrooms, One Corpse; The Julius House (Charlaine Harris).

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting the IMM meme!

Blogoversary Giveaway #7

Books, how I love thee! Not only do I cherish the sensation of turning the pages ... I am the kind of person who will treat books like close friends. And close friends deserve receiving a gift that comes from the heart, wouldn't you agree?

Now you might wonder what kind of gift could you possibly make to a book? You may also wonder whether I'm a bit weird for buying something for a book … then again, have a look at this darling little bookmark!

Le Petit Prince Bookmark

Or how about this beauty?

Vintage Lady Boomark

And is this one sweet or what?

Green Bird, Rose and Lace Bookthong

Kim from Satelliter created these and I'd say that every book could be happy to have one of her lovely bookmarks adorn their spines while waiting for you to pick them up to continue reading.

But wait, there's more! Kim's creativity doesn't stop at bookmarks, she also creates cute and whimsical earrings, necklaces and more! Want to have a look?

Scent of a Woman Hoop Earrings


Brown Disc Leather Necklace with Autumn Leaf Charm

And now, let's listen to what Kim has to say about her shop and her own love of books ...


Hello guys!
My name is Kim and I am happy to be here :)
Reading books was the only one thing that made me feel better when I had a hard time. It was a relief and it was a nice escape from the real life. It's a little embarrassing to say, but this is the reason why I started reading books. I know reading affords me great pleasure so I make some bookmarks for people like me, who love reading books.
Feel free to look around in my shop and have fun :)

Don't forget to check out Kim's blog Loft Atelier too!

*****

Kim has generously offered a $ 20,00 Giftcard to her shop (plus free international shipping) to one of my followers!

To enter this giveaway all you have to do is head on over to her Etsy shop and come back here to comment with your favorite item. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.

Rules
This giveaway will be open from December 18th through December 27st.
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on December 28th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have a full week to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

December 17, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway #6

Time to share my love for one of my favorite authors!
Today I'm giving away a paperback of choice (no pre-orders, please) from Tess Gerritsen!! You may choose any of her books not just from the ones shown above.
To enter this giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment telling me which Tess Gerritsen novel you'd like to win. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

Rules
This giveaway will be open from December 17th through December 26st.
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on December 28th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have a full week to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

December 16, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway #5

Time to share my love for one of my favorite authors!
Today I'm giving away a paperback of choice (no pre-orders, please) from Sophie Kinsella!! You may choose any of her books (also from those written as Madeleine Wickham) not just from the ones shown above.

To enter this giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment telling me which Sophie Kinsella (or Madeleine Wickham) novel you'd like to win. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

Rules
This giveaway will be open from December 16th through December 25st.
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on December 28th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have a full week to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

December 15, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway #4

As you all know I think it should be a punishable crime to dog-ear books. Since the invention of bookmarks there are alternatives, you know! And in case you want to make a case against bookmarks, because you might just end up bending those too along with the pages of a book, think again!

Just take a look at these gorgeous fabric flower bookmarks!

Flower Bookmarks Set

Perfect for those with a penchant for romance!

Rosette Bookmark

Julie from Belle Rose Designs makes these stunning fabric flower rosettes and it's not just bookmarks that are graced with these cute rosettes. Julie creates everything from headbands to jewelry, from bridal items straight to wholesale.

Want to take a look? I thought so!

Fabric Flower Fabric Hair Clip

I dare you not to say "Awwww!!!" now!

Fabric Flower Rosette Onesie

And for those who can't get enough of these cute rosettes, you may even sign up for the Rosette of the Month Club!

Rosette of the Month Club

And now, let's listen to what Julie has to say about her shop and her own love of books …

I am a former children's librarian and mother of two. I love books. I love libraries. I love being a librarian. Although, I am currently at home with my children, I still love books and libraries. I began creating my fabric flowers as a way to unwind at the end of a busy day with work and kids. The process of creating them is much like I imagine knitting to be and calms me down after a busy day. I love creating and began making my rosette bookmarks to decorate my favorite books with something pretty. I also make hair accessories and baby items. My daughter, Annabelle Rose, is the inspiration for my shop name, Belle Rose Designs and shares my craft room with me. Thanks for having me!

Don't forget to check out Julie's blog Singing Three Little Birds too!

*****

Julie has generously offered a bookmark of choice (plus free international shipping) to one of my followers!

To enter this giveaway all you have to do is head on over to her Etsy shop and come back here to comment with your favorite item. Don't forget to leave your e-mail addresswith your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.

Rules
This giveaway will be open from December 15th through December 24st.
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on December 28th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have a full week to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

December 14, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway #3

Time to share my love for one of my favorite authors!
Today I'm giving away a paperback of choice (no pre-orders, please) from Terry Pratchett!! You may choose any of his books not just from the ones shown above.

To enter this giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment telling me which Terry Pratchett novel you'd like to win. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

Rules
This giveaway will be open from December 14th through December 23st.
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on December 28th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have a full week to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

December 13, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway #2

Time to share my love for one of my favorite authors!
Today I'm giving away a paperback of choice (no pre-orders, please) from Dean Koontz!! You may choose any of his books not just from the ones shown above.

To enter this giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment telling me which Dean Koontz novel you'd like to win. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.
Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

Rules
This giveaway will be open from December 13th through December 22st.
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on December 28th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have a full week to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

December 12, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway #1

One of the best books I've read this year? The Hunger Games, of course. If you love this series you might have stopped reading after the first three words of this blog post, because you are already drooling over this awesome necklace. And I can't say I blame you!

Katniss Bow and Arrow Charm Necklace

Then again, maybe The Hunger Games aren't quite your thing, but you're a true Harry Potter person! Fear not and take a look at this lovely piece!

Hogwarts Crest Book Page Necklace

Still not sure you're in love with one of these gorgeous necklaces? Maybe you're more into the classics? Well, I can help you with that … rest your eyes on this beauty!

Alice in Wonderland Drink me Necklace

Let me introduce you to Leigh from Pretty Little Charms who creates this adorable jewelry inspired by books. Isn't it great that you can now wear your favorite book around your neck?

Or in your ears?

Beedle the Bard Earrings

And in case you happen to be a lad on your shirt sleeves too!

Dobby and Socks Cufflinks

And now, let's listen to what Leigh has to say about her shop and her own love of books …

Like many people I’ve always loved reading. I don’t know when it began but some of my earliest memories from my childhood are of my parents searching me before going to any formal occasion. They’d have to check I wasn’t smuggling a book to wherever we were going otherwise they knew I’d go missing and eventually be found reading under a table somewhere, oblivious to the fact that everyone had been looking for me!
My love of books never subsided and I studied English Literature at University. Jewellery making had been something I’d done for a few years but whilst at University the idea came to me to combine jewellery and the written word. Eventually I discovered a way of taking pages from tired, old books and 'recycling' them into jewellery that contained a favourite passage or character’s name so that I could always keep a piece of my favourite book close by.
I continued making the jewellery for the following six years and in June I launched a small shop on Etsy.com which I now run full-time. I take daily custom orders to turn peoples favourite books into something they can treasure and always carry with them!

*****

Leigh has generously offered a necklace of choice (plus free international shipping) to one of my followers!

To enter this giveaway all you have to do is head on over to her Etsy shop and come back here to comment with your favorite item. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address with your comment so I may contact you in case you're the winner.

Rules
This giveaway will be open from December 12th through December 21st.
Following my blog is no requirement, but greatly appreciated.
One entry per person.
Open worldwide.

Winner
One winner will be picked through random.org on December 28th and will then be contacted by e-mail as well as announced here on my blog. The winner will have a full week to respond and if he/she fails to do so I will draw a new winner.

1st Blogoversary of The Book Garden

A year went by, can you imagine? And what nicer way of saying thank you to all my wonderful followers than by inviting you to celebrate my Blogoversary during the next week!

There will be lots to see (amazing things I promise you can't wait to get your hands on) and lots to do (entering giveaways for the aforementioned things) while yours truly will kick back and relax (basking in the glory of making it through the first year of daily blogging without so much as a dent in my vocation to write and blog)!

In other words, while my regular posts will be on hiatus, there will still be plenty going on here!

Before we start, some basic rules for my Blogoversary Giveaway Bash!

There will be a full week of giveaways (did I just hear a collective gasp!?)

Each giveaway will be open for ten days, eg today's giveaway will run until December 21st and the last giveaway will be open from December 18th through December 27th.

All giveaways will be open worldwide (hooray)

Winners to all the giveaways will be announced on December 28th (and due to the holiday season they will all have a full week to get back to me to claim their prize)

When will the fun start?
Ah, the most important question of them all ... the first giveaway will be up at 9:00 GMT, and the others will also go live at that time every day for the next seven days!

And now, let's have fun and CELEBRATE!!