Tuesday, April 30, 2013

...in books

I love participating in Top Ten Tuesday each week because I am a total list junkie and discovered so many great books through this meme. It was the first one I found and started participating in when I started blogging at My Life... about 18 months ago and today I feel honoured that a topic I came up with is the weekly question. 
I posted this one on November the 6th 2012 during a freebie week and when I got a comment from Jamie asking me if she could use my topic as a future TTT idea I agreed (of course! who wouldn't?) and did a little happy dance.
What I didn't think of was that I wouldn't be able to post a TTT that week. After going over my original post, I came to the conclusion that nothing has changed over the last 5 months but decided to post my original post again for all of you to read. I am so curious what your 
Top Ten words/topics that instantly make you buy a book are. 
Can't wait to browse all the posts. 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish
This week is a freebie week which means we can make up our own TTT topic. I thought about it for quite a while now and the idea hit me this morning. I am one of those readers who automatically buys books that have specific words in the blurb or address specific topics. Those words appeal to me and instantly makes me want to read or at least buy it. 

So my Top Ten list will be:
My Top Ten words/topics that instantly make me buy a book 
  1. Shakespeare - for some reasons I am obsessed with the bard. Not that I have read every play or sonnett he wrote, neither have I visited Stratford upon Avon or went to every of his plays. I just love having books dealing with Shakespeare, his life, the Elizabethan area and I don't care if the are fiction or non-fiction. So I own biographies (three, I think), retellings of his works, a paranormal novel dealing with him as a vampire hunter (I think) - I don't care what this book is about as long as it deals with Shakespeare.  
  2. Italy or to be more specific Tuscany - as I am living in Europe I spent many holidays as a kid and teenager in Tuscany, a beautiful part of Italy, walking the streets of Florence, eating ice cream in Siena, sitting at the beach in Viareggio, ... Tuscany always felt like a magical place. The landscape, the people, the architecture, the language, etc. So when a book is set in Tuscany I have to have it! 
  3. London - I am in love with this city! I would move there instantly if someone would garantie that I would have all the money I need to rent a good place to live because London is so terribly expensive. This city feels like home! When a book is settled there I buy it - doesn't matter what it is about. I usually read blurbs and when I only spot "London" I don't bother reading on I just buy it. This way many books found their way into my house that I love like crazy and I discovered authors I might not have found otherwise. 
  4. I will buy a book when it deals with teachers, teaching, school. I always wanted to become a teacher and I am studying to become one soon. This love for books dealing with teachers and schools developed more recently (over the last 4 years) and I discovered some great books through it. 
  5. Cooking - I own quite a collection of cookbooks and books about cooking but I am a sucker for books telling the story of someone who wants to cook, learns to cook, owns a restaurant, bar, coffeeshop, etc.
  6. Books - do I need to say more? Books about books - amazing!
  7. Bookstores - yes, I consider this topic different from the books about books-topic. I love reading about people owning bookstores, working in them, etc. I think that this is my own little dream; owing a small bookstore with a café attached. :)
  8. Terry Pratchett's Discworld - I love his style of writing and I am building my Discworld novel collection one book at the time. This series contain books dealing with the witches, the Night Watch in Ankh-Morpork, the wizards at Unseen University, DEATH (capital letters are a must here). I like them all but my favorites are those books dealing with the witches because nobody is as entertaining as Nanny Ogg singing the Hedgehog song and Granny Weatherwax complaining about it. 
  9. Road trips - reading about road trips is almost as good as being on them yourself. I love learing about new places through books and reading about places you know and visited through a character's eye is something really special. 
  10. Characters with special "powers" - paranormal books are so "in" right now and I love reading them but I gravitate towards books dealing with witches. I don't know why but the concept of witchcraft and magic is something that really fascinates me. 
So those were my top ten things I love to read about in a book. 
I would love to know yours, so leave them in the comments.

Monday, April 29, 2013

...in books

Is your TBR-pile higher than Mount Everest? 

Do you have so many unread books that you already feel guilty?

Do you want to spend a week discovering new blogs, talking to like-minded and enjoying as much time as possible with your books (reading them of course)? 

Then join the Bout of Books Readathon!

Bout of Books 

You don't know what the Bout of Books Readathon is? 

I can help you:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 7.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

I already cleared my schedule from all the "unnecessary" things like work and meeting friends and am looking forward to splitting my time during this week between studying (which unfortunately I couldn't get rid off) and reading- and tweeting-time with all my fellow bout of books readathon reader friends (what a wonderful word).

Bout of Books is always a wonderful experience and it feels so good dedicating a week to all some of the books you always wanted to read or go on a series binge read. I hope you'll join the fun and for more information visit the Bout of Books blog.

...in pictures

 This week's topic will be:
  Tree / Baum

Please link you post to mine in time. 
Submission period is between the 29th of April and the 6th of May
(11:59 pm CET). 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

...in books

Etiquette & Espionage
by Gail Carriger

First sentences:
Sophronia intended to pull the dumbwaiter up from the kitchen outside the front parlour on the ground floor, where Mrs. Barnaclegoose was taking tea.

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education
source: Goodreads
My opinion:
With Etiquette & Espionage Gail Carriger created another wonderful and highly addicting series for Steampunk lovers and those who are looking for a soft entry into this genre.
Sophronia’s story is set before the one of Alexia Tarabotti but we meet some already well known characters on our journey.

Sophronia is a clever and witty 14 year old who is eager to learn how things work, which leads to really funny situations. She is not your typical lady, waiting to get married but she is rebellious and interested in the world around her and waiting for her chance to prove to the people around her that she can be more than a typical girl of that time (which she really isn’t!).
When she gets the chance to go to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality she is in for an adventure. The school is clearly not a regular finishing school but something way cooler and Sophronia will learn so much more than proper behavior.

Dimity, who quickly becomes Sophronia’s friend and roommate, is a wonderful character. She always tries to be a proper lady but with a friend like Sophronia it sometimes is hard to behave and solve mysteries.

The story is unique and I would say typically Gail Carriger. I enjoyed the ideas and wit that are present through the whole novel and she really pays attention to those little things, like introducing characters that fans of the Parasol Protectorate Series will know already. The setting, Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy, is described in such great detail that the whole story felt like a film to me and it was extremely hard to stop reading (I usually read while on public transport and yes, I missed my stop more than once.).

I am so looking forward to the next books in this wonderful series and until then I will dream of joining Finishing school too.

The books in the Finishing School series are:
  • Etiquette & Espionage
  • Curtsies & Conspiracies (expected publication: November 5th, 2013)
  • Waistcoats & Weaponry (expected publication: 2014)

For more information about Gail Carriger visit her Homepage, her Blog and her Facebook and Twitter page.

Monday, April 22, 2013

...in books

 This week's topic will be:
Star / Stern

Please link you post to mine in time. 
Submission period is between the 22nd and the 29th of April
(11:59 pm CET). 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

...in books

Showcase Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits & Tea which was inspired by In My Mailbox from Kristie at The Story Siren.
It is a possibility for us to show what amazing books we got during the week.
It's been a long time since I did a Showcase Sunday post because I could control myself pretty well during the last weeks but this week I had a bit too much time between lecture and babysitting, so I went to a bookstore and of course I bought some books. 
interestingly I found it in stores on the 16th of April even though it shouldn't be out until the 23rd :)
Book 2 in the Mysterious Benedict Society series

Friday, April 19, 2013

...in books

Emerald Green
by Kerstin Gier

!!If you haven’t read Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier this review might include spoilers!!
English cover
German cover

First sentence: (translated from German)
“This will leave an ugly scar”, the doctor said without lifting his head.

Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is.
She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along.

source: Goodreads

My opinion:
Emerald Green is the last book in the Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier and it is the perfect ending to an awesome series. I loved each and every one of the books but I am really hesitant when it comes to finishing series. It feels like saying goodbye to friends that accompanied me for a specific time of my life and that is usually hard for me.

Emerald Green, as Sapphire Blue did too, starts exactly where the second book in the series ended. Poor Gwen is heartbroken and still non the wiser how to solve the mysteries of the Count Saint-German and how to save the world or at least how to heal her broken heart.
With her loyal friends Lesley and Xemerius, a cute (don’t tell him I said that) gargoyle demon, she faces her destiny and Gideon and experiences many, sometimes rather confusing (for her), adventures and mysteries.

Gwen is still a though and strong heroine and Gideon switches between being lovely and charming and being a total idiot but to solve all the puzzles they come across during their time-travels they have to work together and trust each other.

Many mysteries are solved in this book and some of them make you gasp when you come across them. Emerald Green is an entertaining and quick read you’ll fly through, despite the almost 500 pages. I wasn’t able to put it down once and spent one whole Sunday on the couch reading.

If you love time-travel, strong characters, a fast paced story with lots of mysteries and clues interspersed than go pick up the Ruby Red trilogy because it is one of the best YA-series I came across and you just have to fall in love with the characters, especially with Xemerius the little gargoyle. If it would be possible I would love to have one myself.

The books in the Ruby Red trilogy are:
  • Ruby Red
  • Sapphire Blue
  • Emerald Green
 Emerald Green will be publish in English on October 8th, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

...in books

Sapphire Blue
by Kerstin Gier

!!If you haven’t read Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier this review might include spoilers!!

German cover
English cover

First sentences:
The streets of Southwark were dark and deserted.

Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.
At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.
source: Goodreads

My opinion:
Sapphire Blue starts exactly where Ruby Red ended, in church with a voice reprimanding Gwen and Gideon. This voice belongs to Xemerius, a lovely little gargoyle demon who died a long time ago and is so lonely that he decides to follow Gwen, which proves to be very helpful in getting closer to solve the mystery that surrounds Gwen and her destiny as the Ruby.
I love Xemerius! He is, by far, my favorite character and I would love to have this funny little gargoyle demon as my “stalker”.

Sapphire Blue is even faster paced as Ruby Red which is the introduction to all the characters, the storyline and tells us a lot about time-travel. In the second book of the trilogy the mysterious destiny of the Ruby, as everyone calls Gwen, and the whole fate of the order is the main focus point. We are also introduced to another, really important character of Gwen’s past who tries to help her solve some of the weird prophecies she or Xemerius heard. With her best friend Lesley as her human and Xemerius as her supernatural help Gwen gets to know more and more about the Count of Saint Germaine and his schemes.

I loved Ruby Red but I adored Sapphire Blue! Gwen settles into her part really well but doesn’t loose her interest in solving all the mysteries that unfold before her. She is strong willed and always on the lookout for clues. Gideon is still nice one time and a complete idiot the next but I have a feeling that this might change soon and all the members of the circle are all still pretty secretive and even though no one knows what the prophecy really means and how this will affect Gwen and Gideon they are all eager to see the mission through.

If you enjoyed Ruby Red than you will like Sapphire Blue too.

The books in the Ruby Red trilogy are:
  • Ruby Red
  • Sapphire Blue
  • Emerald Green (will be published in English on October 8th, 2013)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

...in books

Ruby Red
by Kerstin Gier

German cover
English cover

First sentences:
As she fell to her knees and burst into tears, he looked all around the park.

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!
Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon – the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
source: Goodreads

My opinion:
As you might know German is my native language and normally books are written in English and than translated into German. It doesn’t affect me and my reading because I read 95% of my books in English but with this particular trilogy it is the other way round.

Kerstin Gier is a German author so we received the books in the Ruby Red trilogy years before it got translated into English. She wrote Ruby Red in 2009 and it was a huge success. The covers are gorgeous, the story is new and unique, Kerstin’s style of writing is funny and entertaining, the characters are extremely well portrayed and the story is set in London – present and past due to the fact that Ruby Red is a time-travel story.

One main difference between the German and the English version, which I only discovered because I read the Goodreads synopsis for the English book, is that the main character is called Gwendolyn in German and Gwyneth in English. That doesn’t matter much because in both cases her name is shortened to Gwen.

Gwen is a wonderful main character. She always thought that her cousin inherited the time travel gene but unfortunately she got it and now has to take her place, without any preparation. If that wasn’t enough she also has to deal with Gideon, the male time traveler of her generation, who is such an arrogant and annoying guy.

Gwen and Gideon have to visit some long dead people and jump in time to fulfil the destiny of the circle of the Count of Saint Germaine which nobody knows what this destiny is exactly. Gwen, the outsider of this whole operation, has no idea what to do and nobody tells her anything so she tries to decipher all the things that are going on with the help of her best friend Lesley.

Ruby Red is a quick paced story you fly through in no time at all and which grabbed me instantly with the bits of mystery. We, as readers, know as much as Gwen does and every now and than we get some more information to solve the puzzle.

In my opinion Kerstin Gier created a wonderful world with characters I would love to know personally.
The books in the Ruby Red trilogy are:
  • Ruby Red
  • Sapphire Blue
  • Emerald Green (will be published in English on October 8th, 2013)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

...in pictures

 This week's topic will be:

Please link you post to mine in time. 
Submission period is between the 15th and the 22nd of April
(11:59 pm CET). 

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Life...

Where did the weekend go?

We had some amazing sunny and warm days here in Vienna last week and this made me neglect my blog a bit. I still posted from Monday to Friday but I didn't write and schedule posts over the weekend which I usually do. My weeks are rather hectic full of stuff to do (work, lectures, babysitting) and I also want to spend every waking hour outside soaking up the warmth and sun. I will sit down today and write some posts so that you'll find good posts here this week too but right now I need to run. My Photochallenge will go up later today - promise!

Friday, April 12, 2013

...in pictures

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram will know that spring finally hit Austria and we no longer have constant snowfall and temperatures below zero but blooming flowers, sunshine and warm weather instead.

The last two times I joined my mum and my dog Felix for their daily walk I took my camera with me and tried to capture spring in the woods surrounding Vienna.

It's finally sunny and warm!

The sky is blue and the clouds have strange shapes.

Due to a lot of snow during the last weeks rivers and streams have a lot of water. This stream went dry last summer and fall but now it is running pretty fast and super clear. 

There was such a huge amount of water that many fields still are muddy and on some places there a giant waterholes. This is a bit annoying when you have to find a way through all this mudd but thanks to this overspill of water everything is blooming.

Wild garlic,

 yellow and

 purple primroses and


 Felix enjoys it too.

 He chases sticks (you can see it in the upper right corner)

and takes a bath in the stream. 

 Afterwards you have to be careful that you don't stand near him because if you do

you'll probably get wet.

I hope spring reached you too and I am really looking forward to the days when you can sit in the sun on a blanket and do nothing but read your book and enjoy the sun on your face. Glorious days!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

...in books

Snark and Circumstance
by Stephanie Wardrop

First sentence:
I’m not one to judge, but the new kid is a stuck-up asswaffle.

One superior smirk from Michael Endicott convinces sixteen-year-old Georgia Barrett that the Devil wears Polo. His family may have founded the postcard-perfect New England town they live in, but Georgia’s not impressed. Even if he is smart, good looking, and can return Georgia’s barbs as deftly as he returns serves on his family’s tennis courts. After all, if Michael actually thinks she refuses to participate in lab dissections just to mess with his grade, he’s a little too sure that he’s the center of the universe. Could there be more to Michael Endicott than smirks and sarcasm? If Georgia can cut the snark long enough, she just might find out.
source: Goodreads

My opinion:
Snark and Circumstance is a novella picking up the ever present Pride and Prejudice themes in subtle ways. It is not a full-on retelling of Jane Austen’s famous book but borrows names and places from it. With 48 pages it is really short and only gives a glimpse into the characters lives and we can only speculate what is going to happen to them.

Georgia, the main character, is a vegan and her family doesn’t accept her believes. So she is rather forceful when somebody asks her if she’s is a vegan and tries to rub it in everyone’s face. I was not a really big fan of Georgia and I cannot exactly tell you why. It just didn’t click. Maybe it was because the novella was so short that I didn’t have enough time to connect with the characters. I usually don’t like short stories and novellas because I miss getting friends with characters. Maybe that’s what happened here as well.

I liked the storyline and Stephanie’s writing a lot. She told a story that drew inspiration from a well known and loved classic and did that so well that I never had the feeling like she told me Pride and Prejudice. She made her own story out of it. I will definitely check out the other books in the Snark and Circumstance series too.

Snark and Circumstance is the first novella in the Snark and Circumstance Series.

For more information about Stephanie Wardrop visit her Twitter page.

You can visit my post for the Snark and Circumstance blog tour here.

Thanks to the publisher Swoon Romance for sending me this review copy

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

...in books

Meeting Lawrence Norfolk

Usually my only interaction with authors is via the internet (which is awesome, don't get me wrong) and I have to live vicariously through all my US or UK blogger friends when they are meeting authors I love. To be honest, I get jealous from time to time. But right now there are quite a lot of author signings and readings in Vienna and yesterday I went to an event with the British author Lawrence Norfolk at the Vienna Library.

He and the Austrian actor Wolfram Berger read passages of Lawrence Norfolk's new book John Saturnall's Feast. I got the book for my birthday but still haven't read it (big surprise!) but after yesterday evening I cannot wait to start.

Here's the summary from Goodreads (adapted):
Orphaned when his mother dies of starvation, having been cast out of her village as a witch, John is taken in at the kitchens at Buckland Manor, where he quickly rises from kitchen-boy to Cook, and is known for his uniquely keen palate and natural cooking ability. However, he quickly gets on the wrong side of Lady Lucretia, the aristocratic daughter of the Lord of the Manor. In order to inherit the estate, Lucretia must wed, but her fiancé is an arrogant buffoon. When Lucretia takes on a vow of hunger until her father calls off her engagement to her insipid husband-to-be, it falls to John to try to cook her delicious foods that might tempt her to break her fast.

Lawrence Norfolk read incredibly and had this wonderful British humor I adore so much. It really was an experience and I am so happy that I went.

Afterwards he signed my book and was really amazed that I had the English edition of the book because all the others had the German one. 
I can now finally understand how it feels meeting people who write books that take you to foreign places and make you escape your life for a little bit.

Lawrence while he signs my book
I cannot wait to dive into the story of John and his journey through life in 17th century England.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

...in books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.
This week the girls at The Broke and Bookish want to know my:
 Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger 

I was always an avid reader so I have quite a few favorite books from my pre-blogger time. I will focus on my favorite books after my childhood and teen years. Here are my Top Ten:

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
A Taste for It by Monica McInerney

Teacher, Teacher! by Jack Sheffield

The To-Do List by Mike Gayle
Acqua Alta by Donna Leon
Too Much Tuscan Sun by Dario Castagno
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
The Chocolate Cat Caper by JoAnna Carl

My reading habits haven't changed that much since I started blogging. I was introduced to the YA genre but other than that I still love reading mysteries, teaching or school related stories or a good love story.