Tuesday, December 31, 2013

...in books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.
This week the girls want to know my 
Top Thirteen Books I Read In 2013

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Courtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Soulless by Gail Carriger
The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
A Taste For It by Monica McInerney
At Last by Jill Shalvis
Heist Society by Ally Carter 

Only The Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Out Of Sight, Out Of Time by Ally Carter
United We Spy by Ally Carter

I wish you all a wonderful New Year's Eve!
Be careful with fireworks and have a great start into 2014!
Thank you for making 2013 blog wise really good!

Monday, December 30, 2013

...in books

The lovely and creative Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner created this Annual End of Year Book Survey for the fourth time this year and this year I finally found the time to participate. I really enjoyed thinking about all the questions and coming up with answers. Thank you so much Jamie for creating this Survey and if you want to participate too, you can find all the questions here.

1. Best Book You Read In 2013?
Heist Society by Ally Carter
Yes, the book had its flaws but I really enjoyed it and I read it twice this year. I love crime, spy and heist stories – either watching them on TV or reading about them and Ally Carter has a way of writing that makes the story come to life for me.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Austenland by Shannon Hale
I had really high hopes for this book and wanted to read it before I watched the movie this summer but I did not enjoy the story at all. This had never happened to me that extreme before. I often came across books that were not what I had expected but Austenland really disappointed me. I didn't like the story or the characters. So for me it was an overall fail and I didn't even take the time to go see the movie.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Usually I am hesitant towards reading “creepy” books and for me The Archived always were part of this category. What made me want to read this book immediately after its publication were Victoria's Making History videos she posted on YouTube the weeks before releasing her book. Victoria is such a wonderful person and her excitement about the book and the promising and really interesting plot made me get out of my comfort zone and I never ever regretted it.

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier
At the beginning of 2013 I marathoned Kerstin Gier's RubyRed trilogy (Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green). I am a huge fan of time travel stories (if you have any suggestions feel free to leave a comment) and the Ruby Red books were originally published in German so for once I was able to read books before my English speaking friends could and I think during the year I almost forced those books on basically everyone who asked me for a recommendation and also on everyone who didn't ask.

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter
This year I discovered Ally Carter and how much I love her writing. I binge read the Gallagher Girl series (I'd tell you I love you, but then I'd have to kill you, Cross my heart and hope to spy, Don't judge a girl by her cover, Only the good spy young, Out of sight, out of time, United we spy) in October and United we Spy at the beginning of November and adored it. I always had difficulties finishing series I love because it felt too much like saying goodbye to good friends but this time I just wanted to know what happens to Cammie and her group of friends to think about saying farewell to characters I grew fond of. If you never read a book by Ally before, please give her writing a try – it's worth it!

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
My favorite author I discovered in 2013 was Rachel Hawkins. I started her Hex-Hall series in May and after reading the first book I knew that this was another series for a binge read and until now I never took the time to do just that. I adored Hex Hall and I cannot wait to dive into the world again in 2014. Reading all of Rachel's books is high on my list of things I would like to do next year.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
I did not really branch out and read a book out of my comfort zone this year. If I would need to pick one I would say The Archived by Victoria Schwab (as talked about in question 3) but I never really branch out super wide and read a book dealing with war or a Zombie book. So maybe I'll need to do that next year and challenge me a bit more.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
I am working as a part-time tutor for students who need help in English and over the summer holidays I get a lot of students. This summer one of them was a teenage boy who loved to read and he recommended me some books. One of them was the Bartimaeus series by Jonathan Stroud and after checking out what the book's about on Goodreads I went to the bookstore on my way home and bought the first in the series and immediately started reading. I flew through all the 462 pages of it in just 2 days (while working full time during these days too). The Amulet of Samarkand is full of action, adventure, loveable characters, fun parts and everyone who loves fantasy and adventure stories set, kind of, in another world (aka London of magicians) should give this series a try. Jonathan Stroud got put on my auto-buy list.

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I am pretty sure Rainbow Rowell will be on almost every “Best of 2013” list and mine is no exception. I bought Eleanor and Park this summer while I was in London but didn't read it – don't ask me why but the minute Fangirl came out I bought it, read it and loved it. I flew through it over the course of a day (all 433 pages) and absolutely adored it but due to this high speed reading I just couldn't appreciate all the tiny little details because I was to eager to know what happens next. So I'm thinking about re-reading it again in 2014 to not only visit Wren again but also to appreciate another aspect of the story.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
Rescue Me by Rachel Gibson
Rachel Gibson books are my guilty pleasure. I love her writing and her books are always pick-me-ups when I'm feeling down. The cover of Rescue Me just appealed to me and made me think of summer every time I looked at it and since the book not only has a gorgeous cover but also a heart-warming story I highly enjoyed reading it.

11. Most memorable character in 2013?
Katherine Bishop from Ally Carter's Heist Society series
Kat Bishop is a girl after my own taste. She is determined and if she wants something she tries everything to achieve it. She has great friends who'll do everything for her and she can count on them every day. Strange as it may sound now but Kat, even though she's a fictional character, she is kind of a role model for me. For years now I personally am struggling with being more determined and going through with what I planned. So maybe I will channel my inner Kat in 2014 and will reach some of my long-term goals next year.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
If you've been reading my blog for some time now you will know how much I love Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. This year she and Lee Goldberg wrote the story of Kate O'Hare and Nicolas Fox. The Heist was a book I adored and could not really put down. You cannot compare this book to the Stephanie Plum series but that's just how it is. Different series – different characters! But overall a beautifully written book with a wonderful storyline and a great cast of characters. One of my top reads in 2013.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Imagine Ettiquette & Espionage standing for all the Gail Carriger books I read this year. Gail is one of my favorite writers of all time. Ettiquette & Espionage is the first book in the Finishing School series set before the Parasol Protectorate series. Set in a floating boarding school (how cool is that?) it is telling the story of Sophronia, a witty and clever girl, interested in the world surrounding her and she wouldn't be one of Gail's characters if she wouldn't be the one saving the world from evil.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
First Grave to the Right by Darynda Jones
I heard many great things about this book series from the girls at Bewitched Bookworms and I finally decided to read the first book in January of 2013 and fell in love with it. It was a great start to a series and I cannot wait to continue with the second book but till now I haven't had a chance to buy it but I'm pretty sure I will change this really quickly after finishing this survey.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
I've read over 100 books this year but I always forget to write down my favorite quotes. I have a beautiful notebook with drawings of my favorite places in Tuscany reserved for them but until now it's only filled with quotes from films or famous people but I'm trying to be better next year so that I can provide you with one at the end of 2014.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
The shortest book I read in 2013 was The Christmas Gift by Monica McInerney (32 pages) while the longest book I read was The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud (562 pages).

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Heist Society by Ally Carter
Yes, I picked Heist Society by Ally Carter as my favorite book of 2013 but it is also the book with a huge WTF scene in it. When Kat and Hale are standing in front of a bakery in Vienna the scene is described that Kat turns around and sees snowcapped mountains and ornate 18th century buildings stretching out in every direction and that is just not possible. I've been living in Vienna my entire life and I can tell you that there is now way that you can see snowcapped mountains anywhere near the city. Yes, I know, it is a small mistake but one that really bugs me.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
And once again I mention Ally Carter's Heist Society and The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. Those two books stood out to me this year. Katherine Bishop and W.W. Hale the Fifth from Ally Carter's Heist Society and Kate O'Hare and Nicolas Fox from The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg have a friendship with sparks. You can never be sure if there is more to it than friendship and respect for the other person or if there's more to it. I love it when there's this little spark between two people and I respect every author who's able to describe such a friendship so perfectly that you as a reader can almost feel the spark while reading. So here you have it my favorite sparkly friendships of 2013.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously.
At Last by Jill Shalvis
I first read a book by Jill Shalvis in 2012. Simply Irresistible really impressed me. It is an adult romance novel with some lovely characters and a great storyline. This year I re-read the first three books in the Lucky Harbour series but from the other books I read by her At Last was my favorite. It tells the story of Amy and Matt but we also meet some people that were the main characters of previous novels. A review of At Last will be posted on the blog next year.

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else.
Carrots by Colleen Helme
My mom has a good friend who also loves to read and from whom I regularly receive e-mails either with links to books she thinks I will like or, as it was the case with Carrots by Colleen Helme, a mail with the following text: “Kept me awake almost all night. Sure you'll love it. Start it early in the day because you can't put it down! Tell your mom too.”
I immediately went over to Amazon, read the description, bought it and started reading. Carrots is a mixture of murder mystery, mafia story and comedy and I really enjoyed. I already bought the second book in the series and it's high on my TBR list for 2014.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
As I was scrolling through my Goodreads account I discovered that I read a lot of Romance this year. Most of the books were not pure romance but mostly romantic comedies but I read 22 romantic comedies from my adult shelf and 21 from my YA shelf. I'm really interested what my main genre will be in 2014.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
For many years now I force Monica McInerney's books on a lot of people and I love each and every one of the books I read by her. She is also a lovely person. I was lucky to receive three signed books by her and got in contact with her and can now tell you that she is the sweetest. Many years ago, when I was still mainly reading German books (which must have been around 15 years ago) I discovered her first book called A Taste For It. It tells the story of Maura, a young lady, living in the Australian Outback with her brother producing wine and managing a small café. When she gets the chance to go to Ireland to promote her brother's wines chaos follows her around. The main guy in the book is Dominic Hanrahan, which she encounters in Australia when she serves him disgusting food because she confused him with someone else and who later reappears as her tour guide through Ireland. First he appears as if he is a total jerk but slowly, when you get to know him, he is amazing. He really became my newest crush when I re-read A Taste For It in December.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?
The Reece Malcom List by Amy Spalding
When The Reece Malcom List was released earlier this year many of my book blogging friends read it and really liked it. I found the blurb promising and bought it but forgot that I had it on my Kindle until November. When I finally read it, I really enjoyed it because it was not the typical YA contemporary, which I thought it was, but a mixture of contemporary, issue book and finding yourself story. I will definitely check out Amy's next book which was released in December and I'm hoping it's as different, in a good way, as The Reece Malcom List.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
The most vivid world in a book I read this year is a tie between Gail Carriger's Finishing School series and Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus series. Both are set in and around London – one in the Victorian aera and one in kind of modern day London filled with magical creatures but the world building in both series is amazing. I really tried to narrow it down to one but there was no way. If I get to chose which world I want to visit though I would definitely pick Gail Carriger's Victorian England because I would love to meet Sophronia and her friends, attend a floating Finishing school and explore the ship with Sophronia at night.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
Is it Just Me? By Miranda Hart
When I was traveling through Western Australia in the summer of 2011 I saw one episode of Miranda Hart's TV series Miranda and as soon as I came home I started looking for the DVDs of the series. I found them last year while I was in London in August and this year I stumbled over Miranda's book Is It Just Me? I immediately had to buy it – I adore Miranda Hart – and started reading it right this evening. This summer I was the strange girl, sitting on the airplane, reading and giggling constantly. Whoopsy! If you are interested in the book, you can read my review here.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
The Flying Classroom by Erich Kästner
The Flying Classroom by Erich Kästner is one of my childhood favorites. It's a Christmas story revolving around five friends living in a boarding school and the whole story is basically about their friendship, how some decisions influence your life and how important friends are.
I usually am more sentimental during Christmas time and the end of the year but this book made me cry at least three times just because it's so beautifully written.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
Step Back in Time by Ali McNamara
I am in love with Ali McNamara's writing and I cannot wait for her books to be published. I tend to count down the days until her next book will be published. Ali is one of the sweetest authors I was lucky in enough to get in contact with. Her writing is phenomenal, her stories are built really well and her characters are so lovely. Her newest book Step Back In Time was published at the beginning of November 2013 and it is as good as her other three but I thought it got overlooked and not enough people read it. So if you are looking for a fun time travel book with lovely people and a clever storyline, pick up Step Back In Time. 

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013?
I discovered many new blogs this year but I'm not really sure if I found those two only this year or at the end of 2012. Let's just pretend that I just came across them in 2013. My new favorite blog I discovered in 2013 is a tie between Snuggly Oranges from the lovely Debby and Paper Riot from the amazingly talented and amazing Judith.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013?
I really enjoyed writing and still love reading my reviews of all the books in the Ruby Red trilogy. I read them all really close to one another and posted them during one week in April. So if you count all three reviews as one, reviewing these I really enjoyed.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
During my Blogoversary in the middle of October I had a guest post from my dog Felix with the help from my mom which was called „12 things you want to know about Karin” and it was once of my most commented posts during the year.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
I am pretty sure I don't have to tell you that Kat from The Aussie Zombie is my best bookish friend and she wrote a post in April called “A Day in the Life of the Book Blogger” which I really enjoyed and which had me thinking a bit about my priorities.

5. Best event that you participated in?
Living in Vienna means having all the advantages of living in Austria's biggest city but has the disadvantages of not living in a city like London or any big US city. This means that there are not really any bookish events held. There is a night of crime usually each year in the fall but not much more and there definitely are no author events from people I like to read.
So my favorite bookish events this year were the Bout of Books readathons and the Top Ten Tuesday meme hosted by the lovely people from The Broke and the Bookish girls.

6. Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?
My best moment in my book life this year was when I finished my 100th book. Since I wasn't able to join the girls at the Book Blogger Picnic in Amsterdam in the summer this was my highlight.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog?
Top Three by Page Views:

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
April from Good Books and Good Wine created a wonderful 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge which I did during the month of August and the post I wished got a little more love was Day 3 in the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Who are your blogging BFFs?

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Ashley from Nose Graze created a wonderful homepage for us book bloggers to connect. Book Blogging is a wonderful tool for connecting with other book lovers – Thank You so much Ashley for bringing us closer together!

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
At the beginning of 2013 I decided to join some reading challenges but due to some personal things that happened during this year I didn't try very hard to complete any of them. What I did complete was the Goodreads Challenge where I set my goal to reading 60 books. I finished my 60th book in August (it was The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, if you're interested) and I sent myself a personal goal of trying to read 100 books this year. I never updated my Goodreads Challenge because I tried not to stress out about reading but I also reached this goal in December. Let's see of I'll join any reading challenges in 2014. 

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
Judith from Paper Riot talked a lot about this book when she read it and I really enjoyed the first two book in the Vampire Academy series. Judith also told me that the series gets better from this book onwards. So I really want to read it soon and it is my number 1 priority in 2014. Hopefully I'll be able to read it soon.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?
I adore Gail Carriger – if you didn't notice while reading through my answers. :) Her writing is just amazing and I cannot wait to hold Waistcoats & Weaponry in my sticky hands and dive into it. Sadly there is still no other release date than 2014. I'm hoping that it'll be published soon because the world Sophronia lives in is just amazing.

3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
The girls from Epic Reads talked a lot about this book and I think the plot sounds so intriguing. It'll be released on April 1st and I'm hoping that it will be as good as it sounds.

4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
As I said before, I am not good at finishing series because it feels too much like saying goodbye to friends which means I am not really anticipating the ending of the Mortal Instruments series but it's the one book I would really like to see on my bookshelf.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?
Well, I am one of those girls who love lists and resolutions so I have a list of this I would like to accomplish in 2014. I would love to become part of a book club, which I'm hoping will become reality soon, I also want to meet some of my Dutch book blogging friends, which will become reality in 2014 because I got a trip to Amsterdam from my parents for Christmas (yes, they are the BEST!). I am, sadly, a last minute kinda girl in life, when studying and also in blogging. So I want to reduce the last minute blog post writing next year and I would also like to write my reviews more regularly. Not sure if I'll be able to do all those things but I'm trying to do my best!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Life...

Monthly Rewind
My Pic of December
a stand selling German lebkuchen at one of the Christmas markets in Vienna
December in One Word
As basically every year December was blessed with high fog. Whenever there's high fog over Vienna we can be sure that it won't move for days and that all the other parts of Austria will be sunny. That's unfair but we could also be living in the mountains (*shudder*) and before I do that I will just deal with grey and dark days in the winter. Fortunately we also had some sunny and super warm days too and so I had the chance to soak up all the sunshine I could get on those days.

5 Things that Happened in December
  1. Christmas season officially started - Christmas music on the radio, Christmas markets all around town, drinking some mulled wine and baking Christmas cookies - the real deal!
  2. I met my old friends from school again for our traditional visit at a Christmas market with our favorite teacher. It was, as always, a lovely evening and I really enjoyed meeting all of them again. 
  3. The ski worldcup season really started in December. I am able to ski myself, as it is basically requirement for living in Austria ;), but I don't like it and I haven't been for many many years. But I love watching it on TV and I do so religiously. I have no idea why I'm such an addict to watching it since I'm not a huge sports fan in general but that's something I do each year and I even have all the important dates in my planner. Weirdo, I know!
  4. Kat and I exchanged Christmas gifts via post - from Austria to the Netherlands. Here's her Showcase Sunday post showing you the presents I got her and here's my Showcase Sunday post showing you all the amazing things she got me.
  5. I had a lovely Christmas Eve celebrating with my parents and two American family friends and a wonderful Christmas day with my grandpa, my aunts and their families. Overall the holidays were super relaxing and my parents were soooo amazing and not only gave me some books but also a voucher for a trip to Amsterdam, since I missed it this summer, to finally meet all the lovely Dutch book bloggers and friends. Best Parents Ever!!!!!
    5 Songs that Were Popular on My i-Pod
    Christmas in the Sand by Colbie Caillat

    Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Michael Bublé

    Compass by Lady Antebellum

    Cupid's Got a Shotgun by Carrie Underwood

    Stuck with Me (Melissa & Joey Intro) by Joey Lawrence

    Book I Read this Month
    • Jill Shalvis - Small Town Christmas  
    • Monica McInerney - The Christmas Gift
    • Joanne Fluke - Candy Cane Murder 
    • Monica McInerney - A Taste For It 
    • Ellen Degeneres - Seriously...I'm Kidding
    • Ally Carter - Heist Society
    • Erich Kästner - Das fliegende Klassenzimmer (The Flying Classroom)
    • Gail Carriger - Changeless 
    • Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
    • Chris Colfer - The Land of Stories - The Enchantress Returns
    • Jill Shalvis - Forever and a Day
    11 books
    2994 pages 
    a TV series I liked this month 
    In Plain Sight started airing on a German TV station at the beginning of this month each Friday after three episodes of Castle and that's basically how I discovered it. In the States it was shown from 2008-2012 and ended with the fifth season but I just recently saw the first episode of season 1 and really liked it. It's something completely different than all the other crime series I usually watch and I'm interested in seeing how it continues.
    5 Random Things I (Re-)Discovered/Liked this Month
      1. I'm still not a fan of Christmas cookies. I eat them because they're only available once a year but I prefer a nice piece of cake or a muffin any day. 
      2. While I was out buying Christmas presents I also bought a copy of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol since I never read it. I did so over the holidays and I can now say that reading 104 pages of Dickens took me quite a while so I'm not sure if I'll ever read a bigger book by him. 
      3. My friends and I celebrate Christmas a day early every year and meet on the 23rd of December in our favorite bar. This year was really busy for all of us so we didn't see each other as often as usual so we had a lot of catching up to do for one evening but I can now tell you all that there are certain things that will never change. I know most of them for over 10 years now, some even for over 20 years and some dynamics are still the same as they were in school. It's an amazing feeling knowing that there are people around you that know you so well and that you have friends who would do everything for you and vice versa. 
      4. Every year I get over-emotional during December. Don't ask me why because I really don't know but when the last month of the year comes round I start reflecting on the year I had, the people I met, the friends I have and the new friends I made, etc. I also tend to cry rather easily in December and so I cried during most of my favorite books from my childhood, films, TV-series and while opening presents. No, I don't like it but that's a part of me and since I know that it'll change soon (at the beginning of January) I can deal with it quite well.
      5. I finally feel like my old self again. 2013 was pretty hard on me health wise and after a year of feeling rubbish most of the time and am now feeling a lot better and am ready to start into 2014 with full speed and a lot of plans.

      Felix in December
      What do you mean there's no treat? 
      I'm sitting on a freaking tree trunk just for you!
      Things I'm Looking Forward to in January
        I'm so looking forward to 2014 in general since I know that it can only be better than 2013. So let's look into the future, check off this year and enjoy being surrounded be family and friends and being lucky enough to have you guys, a hobby I truly enjoy and that I've found some great friends in the book blogging community.

        Here's to an amazing 2014!