And how awesome it is! (Goodreads)
I only joined the site maybe 3 or 4 months ago, but boy does it have a lot to offer authors/readers! Not only are you able to keep track of your personal reading accomplishments in the form of currently-reading, to-read, and read (which makes keeping track of the bazillion of books I read quite handy), you can also become a fan of author's goodreads pages which allow users to comment about their favorite books, see when authors update their blogs/twitters/facebooks with new stuff, and learn more about them (most of the authors update their own profiles quite regularly).
But another really great opportunity Goodreads offers its users is the Giveaway section. I stumbled on this by accident and I am SO GLAD I DID. Pretty much what happens is publishers/authors/whoever else has access to books, they offer one of their books (whether it's the first of the series because the sequel is out soon) or it's the sequel which doesn't come out for weeks or months and they want to get their novel out there, or there are signed copies available that they want to giveaway. Sometimes they offer ARC's (Advance Reading Copies), sometimes it's a Galley (a bound/unbound version of a formatted novel printed on computer paper) and sometimes its the finished copy of the book, whether it has been published yet or not. The main objective for these Giveaways are for these books to get to readers before or during the books release so that in return for this awesome (DID I SAY FREE?) gift, the winner(s) will in turn write reviews on the novels Goodreads page.
While some of the novels are kind of obscure, they offer novels of all genre's from self-help to YA to memoirs. At the moment, there are about 33 pages of giveaways, with each page having about 15-25 giveaways you can enter. Entering for these giveaways is as simple as selecting a shipping address (for the book to be sent to) and agreeing to the terms of the Goodreads Giveaways (which are very easy to follow). I think it's pretty awesome of the authors/publishers to do this, and in order for it to continue happening, the winners are encouraged to write honest reviews (minus spoilers for the books not published yet) so that the novel gets a good amount of publicity from readers who are the target for these novels. I mean, how many times have you read a publishers description of a book and after reading it thought, "eh... I wouldn't go so far as saying it's the top 10 book of this year"?? It's because they want you to read it, and while they may think it's awesome, it's ultimately up to readers to discover this for themselves. So reading reviews by other readers/Goodreads users like myself, it's easier to see if I'll find a novel interesting enough to pick up. For the most part, even novels with the worst reader reviews are still enjoyable, but it all depends on who's the reader!
SO... the reason for this whole post comes down to the fact that over the past couple of days, I have won 4 giveaways... 2 novels are yet to be released and the other 2 are currently available in bookstores. If you do happen to win, (if you enter as many giveaways as I do, you're bound to win at least once), shipping takes about 4-6 weeks, depending on who's shipping the novels (usually the publisher) and when I receive mine in the mail, I'll be doing a very happy happy joy joy post with pictures included. :)