Thursday, December 9, 2010

(Some of) My Pretties!

Yeah, I can't help myself with this "Best Of" ish that is going around. Here are some of the best covers I saw in 2010. Books may or may not be published in 2010, it's only that I saw the cover this year.

Gorgeous. I normally am not a fan of birds (on covers or in general, actually) but this is simply too beautiful to let slip by.

There is some room in our lives for pure hotness. Yes, Yes, we can talk about background image goodness and dark & stormy nights, but bottom line? He is hot. I could (and did) stare at those arms all day.

I'm not sure if the book lived up to the cover, but it looks amazing. The colors are vibrant, the detail is crisp. I know it's just "another dress cover" but with so many, it's easy to see one that stands out. The terrace door is open, and it almost looks like she's chilly! The moon seems to be hung a little low but.....

yeah, there is nothing pretty or charming or cute about this one. But it also looks very tactile. I wince whenever I see it.

If someone said the words "Urban Fantasy" to me, this is how I would picture the world. It has that SF feel to it. A very Post-Apocalyptic, Noir, Gotham City feel. I haven't read it yet (actually had forgotten all about it) but the cover did it's job and it is on it's way.

There were very few category romance covers this year that made me think "Damn, they are hot!" This one was one of them. The title is dumb, yes. I'll give you that. I have no idea if the book was any good (but I'm going to put a hold on it right now) but the COVER.......the cover is rockin the sexy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

1st runners up

Yeah, I have to at least give a shout out to two more audio pubs.

Books on tape: I'm not in love with 100% of their product or their policies, but they have worked CONSIDERABLY to lower the price of their audiobooks. Libraries are hurting, yes, and we're just not buying $100 and $200 dollar titles anymore. While there is still an audiobook company that hasn't gotten that message yet, BOT worked with libraries to lower their prices. I appreciate that. Is it perfect? No. Their backlist is still priced out of the range of most libraries, and they didn't lower the price on their Overdrive catalog. But, the prices on their physical frontlist titles were drastically reduced and that has to be commended. The reps listened (at least ours did) when we shared our concerns and there was a change. You can't ask for more than that.

If you are not familiar with GraphicAudio, you are missing out. I know I've mentioned them before, but they are fantastic. It is all multi-voiced audio of books usually relegated to spinner racks in libraries (if they carry them at all). You have your Rogue Angels and your Survivalist and your Deathlands. You have your SF ranging from Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War to Axler's Outlanders. My personal favorites are the DC comics. It only makes me wish some of my favorite Marvel characters were given the same treatment! Sure, people mock the books, but the audios are truly an experience. If you have long car rides, it will make them fly. I bought them on a whim and not get requests for them. Hard to get a bigger endorsement than that. They're not expensive, come in great cases (you can get them through MidwestTapes also if that is your main audio vendor) and you really can't get more entertainment for your library dollar. If you have a patron base that might like this, I urge you to give them a try.

My audio pub of the year

It doesn't come with a monetary prize. It doesn't come with anything at all, really. But, my favorite audio publisher of the year is Tantor Audio. Yes, their prices are good. Their prices are VERY good, actually, and they are more than willing to work with libraries to both of our mutual benefit. But good prices are only good if there is something you want to buy, right? Tantor combines good price with good titles.
They've only been around for 10 years and maybe that is the key to their thinking outside of the box success. I know, I know. You're going to ask me exactly HOW are they thinking out of the box when they are publishing some of the hottest books and hottest series currently in the market. The thing is, they are producing audio for many books that other vendors have turned their back on. Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice, for example, was first published in 1995. It may be a little too soon to be calling it a fantasy "classic" but it is certainly a book that never seems to dip in popularity. Yet, it took 15 years (and Tantor Audio) to bring it to audio. Luckily, they are turning their eye to other projects sooner. They have brought many Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance titles and series to audio when other publishers have mainly ignored them, or jumped in only on the bigger authors. (Recorded Books has published J.R. Ward at an OUTRAGEOUS library edition price. Penguin picked up The Dresden Files series) But my patrons are also asking for Lara Adrian and Rachel Caine and Kelley Armstrong. They love Yasmine Galenorn, Carrie Vaughn and Nalini Singh. Authors that have been largely invisible except in "certain circles" and not taken seriously as audio contenders. Now they're available and not only are they available, but they are done very well. The narrators are incredible, the production is fantastic and the cover art is good too. Packaging is great. THANK YOU, Tantor! Now more people can listen to books they love.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Shapechangers

Shapechangers (Chronicles of the Cheysuli, Book 1)Shapechangers by Jennifer Roberson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a re-read of the first book in a series I absolutely love. Unfortunately, I do not like this book. I'm not sure if this is Roberson's first book (and subject to the First Novel uneven-ness that can happen) or if I'm just reading it again with older eyes. After all, this book was first published in 1984. I've read many, MANY books since 1984 so I have more to compare it to. A lot of life has been lived between 1984 and now too, so a person's entire frame of reference can switch focus. It isn't so much when the book was written but the experience of the person reading it at that time. I was a tween (just barely) and in love with fantasy novels. I'm sure there was much I didn't get at the time, but I understood most of it and it fascinated me. Now, I focus less on the story and more on the words used to tell it; on characterization, and they both fall flat. Maybe, if this book were released today, it wouldn't be classified as an adult novel. Maybe the magic of it is at the YA level.

I hated the heroine. She was spoiled and stubborn and incredibly ill suited to heroine-ism. She wanted what she wanted and to hell with the very real consequences. The hero was marginally better, even though he was supposed to be older and wiser than her. Secondary characters (who star in Book 2) were better, but don't quite reach three dimensional status until The Song of Homana (book 2 in the series) The plot? Not as thin as the characters, but this is really a set up book. There is A LOT of world building to do, and if anything about this book is excellent, that is it.

Because, even though I don't have much good to say about this book, the fact is that it has been with me for over 20 yrs. Roberson created an entire world that has lived in the back of my mind; especially the language. I've always liked languages. It isn't to the point where I've translated Hamlet into Cheysuli, but a few words do stick out. Favorite characters from the series remain as well. The series is great, it just needed a better start.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Silly rabbit, coffee tables are for books!

Just yesterday, I spent too much time looking at some of the new "coffee table" books that were hanging out waiting to be processed. There are two things that will almost always pick up to examine: books that are large and glossy, and cookbooks. If it is a large, glossy cookbook, you may have to pry it out of my hands. Yesterday's treasures were both about interior decorating.

Timeless Elegance is a gorgeous book. Ooohing and Aaahing started on page one, and didn't stop until, well, the end. Even though I paid little attention to the text, and can't tell you a thing about this book other than it has GREAT pictures, I think I got out of it all I was ever going to get. I'm not sure who a book like this is geared towards: Interior designers? Easton groupies? Someone thinking about re-doing their own home? All of the above? I could sit and stare at this book for long periods of time, and I could see using it to refer back if I was looking for a certain..... something to do to my own home. But, would I buy it? Just to show on my coffee table? (2 people are currently waiting for our 1 copy)

A Passion for Interiors is another book roughly in the same vein as the one above. An idea book. Looking through it made me happy, but what would I do with it if I owned it? Would a book like this, in this economy, ever sell for the list price of $60? Will it sell for the Amazon price of $37.80? More importantly, do people want to own a book like this? (1 person on hold; 2 copies)

I'm fascinated by the idea of coffee table books. They are, more often than not, absolutely beautiful. A lot of money, time and talent go into making them into showpieces, and it definitely shows. I call them picture books for adults. (Great display idea, btw!) Purely coincidence, then, that I came across this NYT link from last week about coffee table books. Going through the list of books in this article, I placed about three holds for books I can't wait to look at:

Richard Misrach: Destroy this Memory (about Hurricane Katrina)

Detroit Disassembled -- Andrew Moore

Obviously, I've been watching a little too much Detriot 187! But, I was there a few years back watching a Tigers game and, honestly, I became curious about the city. The stadium was gorgeous (of course, since it is practically new!) but the surrounding area left a lot to be desired. Once you cross the border into Windsor (?) it is like a new world.

The New York Times Complete Civil War 1861-1865 The Civil War is one of those things where I think I have an interest, until I discover that I don't. We'll see how this goes.

If the library wasn't available, or if the library had chosen not to buy these books, would I shell out my own money just to look at them? I don't think that I would. Where would I keep them? What would I do with them after I'd satisfied my curiosity? Does anyone out there buy, for keeps, coffee table books? I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, September 17, 2010

every once in awhile......

I get something worth reading in my email. This was a comment made (obviously) from a library foundation donor that was sent out to staff today.

From a Library Foundation Donor

My mother bought me a library card from a nearby town since we had no public library available. She had only 1 stipulation - I had to record each book and author I read. I've always done than and since Apr. 1936 I have read 5289 books. That does not include text books or ones that I read to my 4 children. Not all have come from the Indpls. system but most have been library books from someplace. What would I ever have done without libraries? And I'm still reading.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. Even though I loved all three of the Mortal Instruments books, there was no guarantee that I would like it set back in Victorian times. Well, lucky for me, I liked it just fine. In fact, I might go so far as to say I loved it. A good story works no matter when it is set.

Clare, in my opinion, is great at character development. Her characters don't just jump off the page, they erase the page completely. They take away any obstacle standing between them and the reader. The surprise here, though, is that she doesn't sacrifice plot for character. There are plenty of authors who can get one or the other right, but she does both very well. It sounds easy, but if it was that easy more authors would be able to do it.

I'm not going to talk much about the plot here because there isn't much that can be said that doesn't give something away. I will say that readers who are afraid this is just going to be a rehash of City of Bones/Ashes/Glass but set in the past will be pleasantly surprised. There are some similarities in characters, but the plot is completely different. If you haven't read the Mortal Instruments trilogy, you may be a little bit lost as to the finer details of the world Clare has created. It is necessary to have read the other trilogy first, but it certainly will help get your footing as far as worldbuilding goes.

Even though this is a VERY solid five star review, there were two things that specifically bothered me. First, the Henry character was a little two dimensional compared to the others. I'm not concerned about that in the long run, I'm convinced that Clare will develop him in the next two books. But, it was a little disappointing for this book. Second, there was a part near the beginning where Tessa notices that there aren't photographs on the wall of her room. That managed to take me right out of the story. Is it an anachronism to think there would be photographs on the wall? In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. But, it did manage to pull me out of the story at least for a few minutes and is even more noticeable after finishing the book where everything else seemed to be Victorian perfect. I don't know. It was just odd. But those are very minor things that will probably matter only to me.

Team Will or Team Jem? Yes. I'm opting for both. Neither of them has managed to move me from Team Jace, though. I guess I'm just a modern girl. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It is fantastic. Go read it right now.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Digitize This

Our Overdrive page went live on June 26, 2006. All we had was WMA audio books, no MP3 (was that even available on Overdrive then?) no video and no music. We didn't have very many titles either, comparatively.

And the end of 2006, after almost 6 months of use, we had:

1,591 WMA titles.

4,261 checkouts.

Not bad for 6 months of a new format. By our rule, patrons could only check out 3 at a time, and Overdrive still imposed a mandatory 3 week checkout. With those limitations in place, there was still more interest than we had thought there would be. We were still circulating CASSETTES at that point. (and we still are, but I can't talk about that...)

Even though the usual suspects (Roberts, Patterson, etc. ) were popular with patrons, non-fiction was a huge part of the first year circ. Specifically, foreign language learning went out like crazy. I was skeptical, when I bought those, because there was no workbook to go with them. It sounds like it would be great, learning a language on the go with downloadable media, but would people really want it without the workbooks that come in physical language learning sets? Well.....yes, yes they would. And it wasn't just Spanish or French or German, but Arabic and Turkish and Japanese. Chinese and Hawaiian (which, coincidentally, is checked out right now!) We don't need no stinkin' workbook to learn a new language! Bring it on!

We were WMA only through the end of 2007. Our stats from 6/26/2006 through 12/31/2007:

2,441 WMA titles.

19,471 circs

7,299 holds

all checked out by 3,887 patrons.

The percentage of card carrying patrons using the service was low, but they certainly used it a lot!

In 2008, we added MP3 audio to our collection. I thought it would make a huge difference, but it really didn't. Possibly because there weren't that many titles available in MP3 format. A lot of those that WERE available, we had already bought in WMA format. Yes, there were some that we bought in MP3 format anyway, but we certainly didn't repurchase everything.

Our stats for January - December 2008
MP3 titles -- 486
WMA titles -- 3,582

MP3 -- 757
WMA -- 25,761

All done by 3,627 patrons.

Fewer patrons checked things out even though we added a format? Yeah, that's what it looks like. Circ went up, so fewer patrons were checking out more things. At some point in either 2007 or 2008, we doubled the amount a person could check out. Having a limit on how much a person can checkout gives me hives.

In 2009, things started to get interesting. We added epub. There were many email discussions about which format we would add for ebooks, but it was decided from the beginning that we would only add ONE format. While it would have been great to add more than one, it was a choice between do we buy more titles in one format, or fewer titles in different formats. This is the same choice libraries have had to make for years with regular print, large print, cassette, cd, mp3 cd, playaway, vhs, dvd editions of different titles. This was just another format. But, with an already limited budget, we chose titles instead of formats. Whether we made the right choice, or chose the right format, is anyone's guess, I suppose. There were MORE things available in .pdf format (including a lot of backlist in series) but more things are being made available in .epub all the time.

From January through July 2009 (pre-epub) our stats:

MP3 titles -- 923
WMA titles -- 4,063

MP3 -- 3,920
WMA -- 18,852

All by 3,177 patrons. While patrons can still only have 6 items checked out at a time, Overdrive loosened the restrictions on how long those items must be checked out. Patrons can now choose whether they would like to have a 7, 14, or 21 day checkout. Now, they can't return audio items early (if you choose 21 days, you must have that item checked out to you for 21 days) but they can at least have a choice initially.

22,792 items circulated from January through July. Almost as many as all of 2008.

We decided on .epub and it went live in August 2009. At the end of December 2009:

Epub titles -- 1,958
MP3 titles -- 957
WMA titles -- 4,573

Circ from August 2009-December 2009 only:

Epub -- 2,219
MP3 -- 2,833
WMA -- 17,917

For all of 2009, we circulated 45,741 downloadable items. Our "unique" patron count went from 3,627 in 2008 to 4,798 in 2009. Epub brought the people. I don't know if these people have devices (Sony readers, Nooks and whatever else Overdrive is compatible with) or if they are reading on their laptops or (gasp!) desktops, but they are checking out.

From January 1 - through today (Sept 9, 2010) our stats:

Epub titles -- 4,407
MP3 titles -- 1,088
WMA titles -- 5,549

The gap between the number of epub titles we have and wma titles is closing so fast because epub titles are cheaper. Books on Tape (Random House) is selling their WMA titles at "library edition" prices (Cronin's The Passage is 95.00) because (they say) so few of their library customers buy digital editions of their titles. I don't know, maybe that is because they are selling at library edition titles. Since BOT went to retail prices for their physical audiobooks, I have no quarrel with them. I'm just saying, it could be a reason why they aren't seeing the increase in digital circ that they may have expected.

And, on the selection end, I have stopped buying epubs that are only available at hardcover prices. When we first started our epub collection, I bought all the bright new shiny things. Then, last year, I got a Sony reader. I love my Sony reader. I hadn't paid too much attention to Kindle ebook prices because I didn't have a Kindle. But, once I was in the ebook market for myself, I did start to wonder why books I could get for $9.99 or $12.99 were $26.99 when I tried to buy them for the library. It seems a little bit unfair that the library, as a consumer, has to pay more than other consumers. There is a myth (which I've seen repeated in numerous articles) that libraries "circulate copies to users simultaneously" and that is why they cost more. The only way multiple users can simultaneously read an ebook is if I buy multiple copies. The 24 people on hold for the ebook version of The Help right now can attest to that. They would all love to be reading it right now, but there is only one copy. There is only one reader. The Kindle edition of The Help is $12.99. The Sony Reader store edition of the The Help is also $12.99. The Overdrive version of The Help is 24.95. If it were $12.99, I'd buy more. The other thing to note, though, is that those people on hold aren't going out and buying their own copy. They're waiting. So, publishers, not only are you not selling to those people, you're not selling to me either. Seems like not selling to either of us isn't the best way to make a buck. But, I digress......

Circ from January through Sept 9, 2010

Epub -- 11,048
MP3 -- 5,361
WMA -- 36,590

5,100 "unique" patrons have checked out 52,999 items so far in 2010. Is that a lot? Not compared to circulation of physical items which topped 17 million in 2009. But, the rate of growth from when we got Overdrive in June 2006 to now is tremendous. The more we get, the more they want. All of it has steady growth. Our downloadable budget is increasing in 2011, even though our overall budget is slashed by 1 million. Just think how much more we could buy if prices were better.....

Tell me about YOUR library digital collection! If you're a librarian, I want to hear all the insider baseball. If you're a patron, do you use your library's digital collection? If not, why? If so, do you love it?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review: Beast Behaving Badly

Beast Behaving Badly (Pride, #5)Beast Behaving Badly by Shelly Laurenston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You know, I liked this book. I did. But I could have picked up Blayne and tossed her out. I was SO not a fan of hers at so many points during this book. She just annoyed the ever loving hell out of me. No, really, she did. Loved Bo. Loved all the subplots and side stories. Laughed out loud numerous times (even at Blayne) but, especially at the end, I could have kicked her overboard. Just not a fan of her character. I didn't see her as cute and quirky and "an adorable mess". Not at all. I saw her as annoying and childish and really fucking irritating with moments where she wasn't so bad. I really wanted Dee-Ann to do something horrible to her. Is that wrong? It is, isn't it. Sigh. I know. I just couldn't help it. I wanted to like her. She was just....too much.

As usual, though, the story was great. I'm looking forward to Dee-Ann and Ric.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

August Stats

Selection Service Section
Monthly Self Assessment

Name: Robin Bradford
Month: August 2010

Selection/Collection Development:

Popular titles ordered relating to the Strategic Plan Business as Usual:
931 titles ordered from B&T
656 titles ordered from Overdrive.
523 items added to the collection from Secondhand Prose.
2,110 titles added in August.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Is there an age exemption...

for believing (or not) in intellectual freedom?

So, remember yesterday's tweet about our most recent "Request for Reconsideration"? Turns out, it was from a 65 year old woman. Suddenly, I feel bad. Do I still believe it is ridiculous to think you can make decisions for an entire city based on what you, personally, find objectionable? Yes, of course. But, should the age of the person complaining make the complaint more palatable? Am I giving a pass because this is (likely) someone's grandma? Probably. Of course everyone has a right to send letters to the library about the trash in our collections. If you hate something, write away. Right away! It's only when it turns from "that book (dvd, cd) was a bunch of crap" to "NOBODY should be reading this, discard it immediately" that I have to stop and mock you. But, apparently, only if you're under 65......


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review: Delicious

Delicious (Wicked Lovers, #3)Delicious by Shayla Black

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had been waiting for Luc's book for a long time. Since Decadent, right, which was.....2007. So, maybe expectations were a little too high. It seemed to me, though, that Luc's character lost a little something in the three years between books. I still enjoyed this one, but not as much as I'd hoped. And, since it's been a little while since I've read it, I can't even remember enough to give details in this review. I remember that I DIDN'T like the secrecy. It didn't make much sense. Luc has secrets. Alyssa has secrets (hers were the only ones that made sense) WHY didn't he just point blank ask her about her relationship with Tyler? And if he didn't believe the answer, WHY is she wasting her time with him? I also didn't like the consistent red herring about who was the "villain". If you're trying to make this romantic suspense, then make it romantic suspense. Don't play at it. It didn't work. But, the things Black is good at: romantic, edgy, angsty romance worked in this book. It seemed, though, like she was trying to do too much and ended up only landing half her punches.

A disappointing effort from an author I normally like very much. But, that happens.

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Review: Need Me

Need MeNeed Me by Shelli Stevens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really wanted to give this 3.5 stars. Why can't I give .5 stars, GoodReads?!

Anyway, I really liked many things about this book. Hot sex? You betcha! Interesting Characters? Yep! Engaging dialogue and humor? Uh huh. But.....if you were to ask me what this book was about....I couldn't tell you. The plot missed me by a mile. There was this girl, and she was stealing stuff because she had to, and she used to be a whore, and now she isn't, but she still has to steal stuff, and this military guy is guarding it, and I think they're in space, or on another planet, or.....yeah, you get the picture. I would fail the book report. The strange thing is, it really didn't curtail my enjoyment of the book. I loved Brendan and Nika. I also loved Molly and Emmett. I thought Stevens developed their characters great, the tension, the angst, all good. I just didn't care about anything else. The plot wasn't equally developed with the characters. It seemed almost as an afterthought. Almost like: I have these great characters and I really need to tell their story, but....I guess I have to have something else for them to do in between their interactions with each other.

Now, all of that said, it is also quite possible that I missed the boat here. Every experience with a book is different, so it is more than possible that I was only concerned with certain portions of it, to the exclusion of all others. I'm not discounting that as a possibility because it wasn't like the book was 50 pages of sex scenes and then it was over. Obviously, there was more there that I read (or skimmed) but didn't take in. (pun intended). So, it could be my fault. But, whatever the reason, I wasn't engaged in the plot and I don't feel like I missed out on anything important. I still got an enjoyable read.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Review: City of Bones

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments, #1) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A fantastic start to this series! I listened to this book and, I'm sorry, but the reader was terrible. If you're reading this, and you're thinking about trying this book on audio, DO NOT DO IT! Just...don't. The reader switches for books 2 and 3, so read book 1, and then try the audio.

That being said, as bad as the reader was, the writing made me endure it because I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. I know it is classified as Teen or YA fiction, but that seemed like a very fine distinction to me. The teens are the stars of the show, yes, but the writing doesn't seem necessarily YA unless it is where we don't see a lot of cursing (it is done, just not spelled out) or sex. There is PLENTY of violence, though. Enough of it, and written well enough to rival any adult urban fantasy novel.

There are a lot of comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I don't get. Yes, there are teens fighting demons. I get that. There is a lot of banter between the characters, and that also happened in Buffy. But, that happens in a lot of other places as well. The banter, and the rest of the dialogue, is sharp and, sometimes, almost too cerebral. Whedon didn't invent that with Buffy, so to say that Clare is copying him is kind of silly. Maybe they're all copying John Hughes, even though he probably copied it from someone too. It is wonderful when it is done right, and Clare seems to have a very good handle on it.

Her characters are very individualized, you can tell who is speaking not only by cues, but also by what they say and how they say it. Her characters don't start to sound like someone else, they keep their individuality throughout the book. There was one part, towards the end, where I thought "would they really do that...." but that was the only time I was pulled out of the story.

Clary Fray didn't make me crazy, as I suspected she might when I heard the words YA fiction. She was more rational than many heroines of adult novels, to be quite honest. All of her actions, and reactions, seemed appropriate, nothing seemed forced. There were times when I wanted to shake her, of course, but even then I could completely understand why she was acting the way she did. And, when confronted with a truth, she reacted with reason and then acted reasonably. And, at the end, she used good sense to anchor herself and see truth, and to help others see it as well, even with tempting distractions. (I know that won't make sense to people who haven't read the book...)

The plot was fantastic. It never lagged. There wasn't any "filler" scenes, but everything was laid out exactly as it needed to be. Whoever edited this book did a fantastic job and I commend them. It didn't end so much as stop....and I'm assuming book 2 picks up from there. If you're looking for things tied up in a nice bow, you won't get that here. This is book 1 of a series. But, if you're looking for a fantastic fantasy/urban fantasy/ novel, pick up this series!

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Review: First Drop of Crimson

First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World, #1) First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Overall, I liked this book but....I thought it was a very mixed bag. There were times when I thought it was hilarious. The banter between the male characters, the banter between the hero/heroine, and some of the absurd situations (here kitty, kitty!) that occur were very funny. But, there were also times when I thought the heroine whined too much, where I thought Frost over explained (sometimes to the point of taking me OUT of the story to roll my eyes) and the plot left a lot to be desired. Plot started off great, but the longer it went on the more it became little more than a thinly veiled vehicle to keep the relationship story going. That's fine, it's a romance novel after all, right? The relationship IS the main part of the story. BUT, if that is the case, then don't bother with the rest of it. Starting off with a fascinating premise (demon hunting a runaway, enlisting help (by force) and the race to take down the demon, find the runaway and not get killed in the process) just to reduce it to...."I have to stay around long enough for him/her to fall for me" was very disappointing. This part of the book could have been SO MUCH BETTER, which makes me very bitter.

Also, I didn't like Denise. This isn't unsual, I often have a problem with heroines. There were times when I agreed with her, when I laughed at her antics, when I hoped she didn't die, even when I felt sorry for her, but I never got to the point where I liked her.

The boys are well Frost shines. There were times when I thought Spade was a little too Bones-esque in word and they didn't have their own voice, but it was always entertaining. Ian was hilarious, as usual. Mencheres was intriguing, and I'm glad to know he'll be the subject of the next book.

And, yes, I'm going to read the next book. That's the thing: even though this one was flawed (to me) in a lot of ways, Frost still tells an interesting story with interesting people. And that, in the end, is what keeps readers like me coming back.

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Review: Changes

Changes (The Dresden Files, #12) Changes by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Changes is right. This series went through a host of changes, the least of which was a missing child. Not all of the changes are bad, there were a few that I actually liked. Not all of the changes are bad right now, but they certainly have that potential. This book could have been titled "Revelations" just as easily as Changes.

As always, the book was well plotted and seemed to flow easily from mishap to catastrophe. The dialogue was razor sharp, which is one of Butcher's really strong points, and the characters was crisp. With a cast of characters this large, it is easy for them to all start sounding the same, but this never happens in these books.

I would give this book (and audio) 4.5 stars if I could. Small Favor is my favorite, and Changes comes in just under that high water mark.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

RT Thursday-Friday


So, I missed the Mystery Chix and Private Dix party on Thursday morning. It wasn't even that I got up late, I was just messing around (damn you, internet!) I made it to the first Bookseller/Librarian workshop of the day about displays. I was supposed to be on the "panel" for that, but we ran out of time. And, most of the things I was going to say, Kate ended up saying during the course of the hour. Great minds think alike, huh?

From there, I skipped down to the Librarian session on e-readers in libraries. That kind of morphed into a session about how some library staff refuse to learn about new tech and how some teachers/parents don't think that audio or electronic reading is *REAL* reading. Much commiseration followed, and then the hour was over. It was great listening to how other people are dealing with new collection of materials. Our experimentation with them has been mostly blind, and mostly trial and error. We'll be something, if it goes out we'll get more. If it doesn't, then we don't. Easy Peasy, right? We could be a little more organized about it, but I digress.... (mostly because it's my fault.) :-)

An Ice Cream "social" which consisted of me standing in a line for a tiny cup (which was more than I needed) of cotton candy ice cream. Worth standing in line? No. Did I do it anyway? Yes. 'Nuff Said.

More standing....this time in the fangirl line for J.R. Ward and Jessica Andersen. It was a fun hour (the author chat, not the standing in line!) I don't know what else to say about it other than that. There were lots of questions and answers about the series, writing the series, the process of writing in general. There was much cursing (my favorite part!) and lots of laughs. I was probably the only person in that room who hadn't already picked up a copy of Lover Mine. LOL. Slacker.

Afternoon Delight party where there was cake! But, you know what? I had to leave BEFORE cake because I was starving. The one thing about #twitloss is that a girl gets accustomed to eating on the regular, ya know? Skipping breakfast AND lunch seems to be a no go anymore. Sometimes, I long for the good old days! Yeah....that's a lie. I don't really. So, I hightailed it over to Subway for a late lunch because the Faery Ball (and dinner) didn't start until 8:30!

RT Bookreviews Awards
I'd skipped this the last time I was at RT, so I thought I should go. I was glad I did. I got to put a lot of faces to names, from books AND from twitter. Oh yeah, there was also a huge bag of books and, afterwards, champagne at the launch of the new RT website. And.....Barbara Taylor Bradford!!!! I'm not sure WHY I had such a reaction to her, I've never even read any of her books. But, it was just nice to see a legend, ya know? Longevity deserves some squee, does it not? The website launch afterwards could be summed up like this: too many people in too small a space. The best thing was the champagne. After my glass, I was heading for the nearest exit.

Not so Sweet 16 party
Great party, great bag of books (where I picked the ARC of 13 to Life by Shannon Delany)and I got a book signed by Kelley Armstrong, one of my favorites. I talked with some of the authors, but I have to admit that YA lit is not one of my strengths. There are so many things out there that I want to read, something has to fall by the wayside, right? For me, it is YA.

Faery Ball
The most imaginative costume night of the entire conference. I am always amazed at how elaborate the costumes get. Great to look at if you're a people watcher like I am. Dinner was good (or I was starving) even though there were people at my table who complained about it. The people at my table complained about a lot of things, actually. Somehow, that didn't stop me from eating it all. (#twitloss? what's that?) Best part of the faery ball was that I got to meet the great @KeriStevens in person. We'd been cell phone/twitter tagging it the entire day. The rest of it was a wash and I left when the dancing started. I *WAS* determined to make it to the Kensington morning party on Friday!

Made it to the mixer! Saw my first @VictoriaDahl sighting. I'm sure she thought I was more than a liiiiiitle bit crazy when I came up to her. Heh. I have no idea why I come off as crazy. I'm not, am I? AM I?! Anyway, the mixer had mimosas (yes!) and muffins, literally, as big as the plate the rested on. I think I tweeted one, no? It was fun, and I was glad I got up in time to get there.

Headed off to a Double shot of "Bookseller Resources" which was awesome. My second favorite piece of swag came from there. This painting, made out of dark chocolate, in a frame which I assume is re-usable after you scarf the good stuff. Everything Art has many different chocolate portraits and they look amazing. Can't tell you how it tasted, but I assume it was as good as it looked! The Bookseller Resources first hour were about all the add ons that booksellers can sell in their stores. Fascinating, really, and incredibly fun for someone who loves catalogs and quirky things. The naked wrapping paper was my favorite. If I had my cheat sheet here at work with me, I'd remember the vendor and link to it. Looked like ordinary wrapping paper on the front. But on the your favorite variety, male or female. Lots of other good stuff, and everything was raffled off at the end. I had my eye on artistic chocolate so was glad when my number was called! The second hour was interesting discussion about all the sources we use to find out about books. The handout was 8+ pages full of lots of good things, even though some things were still left off!

The Devilish Delights party had more fun, more food, and I got MaryJanice Davidson to sign a tote bag that went to a lucky MJD fan at my library. She was very excited, and that's what it's all about, right?

The e-book, indie pub, graphic novel book fair was next. I spent more money than I intended to, but got one Kelley Armstrong and two Jim Butcher graphic novels. Spent a little bit of time talking with the EC people, who seemed surprised that we carried their books in the library. The line was crushing, though, and the room was not set up for a bunch of people going every which way. I fled to get ready for the vampire ball.

All I'll say about the vampire ball is this: the costumes were good, but not as good as the faery ball. The entertainment had its moments, but not very many of them. The bar was calling, and I answered.

The bookseller's packing party was great fun, though. It was fun to watch Barry Eisler make lots of bookseller hearts go pitter pat when the cavemen/mr. romance contestants couldn't rouse more than a bored look. I was excited to see Kayla Perrin, because I hadn't seen her much at all during the rest of the conference. There were basket giveaways, book exchanges, book signings and more fun than should be had at midnight towards the end of a conference.

RT Tuesday-Wednesday

So, a recap of this year's RT.

Tuesday was a blur of getting a room, scoping the food court, meeting up with friends, testing out the bar, driving to the mall for a replacement nose ring (not for me), buzzing a porn shop (no one else wanted to go inside), going to a convenience store firmly rooted in the hood, and coming back to the hotel to discover we'd missed dinner and there was a 45 minute wait in the hotel dining room. Yeah. I bought a bottle of Black Cherry Cisco that is still sitting, unopened, on my dining room table. For those of you have no idea what this is (like me) it is, apparently, MD 20/20's crackhead uncle. (I have to say that may be my new favorite website, though! Ahhhh, the sweet smell of knowledge!

The ONLY day I adhered to the tenets of #twitloss. Wednesday, I mostly stuck to the Bookseller/Librarian panels, although I did take time out to swing by Multicultural/Interracial Panel: the Color of Love which was awesome. Kimberly Kaye Terry, Ann Aguirre, Kate Douglas Keisha Mennefee and Vivi Anna talking about their world building, how they include a variety of cultures into said worlds, the stereotype pitfalls they've seen in other people's books, and how they avoid that in their own books, and the great shelving dilemma. It was a fascinating hour, and if I wasn't so lazy, I'd go into great detail about the conversation. But, I am.

More bookseller workshops. Of them all, the only one I wish I'd skipped was the Social Media Twitter/Facebook workshop. Honestly, it felt like the group was split between those who already know and love Twitter and FB, and those who could care less. This workshop didn't help either one of us, in other words. I probably would have liked the Reader party: "It's fun to be bad" or the Romantic Suspense workshop "Bond, James Bond" much better. But, you know, that's just the nature of these conferences. You pick what you think you'll like and if you win more often than not, great. This was really the only *miss* of the conference, so that is a good percentage!

The author chat with Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris and MaryJanice Davidson was missing a Y chromosome thanks to flight delays. As I am a total and complete Butcher fangirl, this was sadness for me. BUT, if you've ever seen Charlaine Harris and/or MaryJanice Davidson, you know they tend to be hilarious by themselves. The two of them together were, indeed, crazy train in the best kind of way. I don't watch True Blood so I must admit that even though I listened to the details, none of them stuck with me. (Sorry, true blood peeps!) Harris had nothing but complimentary things to say about the show, though. Yes, it is different than the books, but that's okay. You can enjoy the show, or the books, or all of the above. MaryJanice talked a little bit about how Disney keeps buying the rights to the Fred (mermaid) books and then renews when it runs out. The theory is that they don't want any mermaid competition in the world. But, as long as someone keeps PAYING for the right to keep it out of the media market, that is just fine with her. (Can't say as I blame her there!) And, apparently, there is going to be a Betsy.....something. Show? Movie? Germany. Sorry, Davidson fanfolk, not here in the States.

Afterwards, there was a Samhain party that delivered one of my favorite pieces of swag from the entire conference: the Samhain canvas bag. It was heavy, it was pretty, it was the perfect size for carrying books. I got lots of canvas bags at RT, but this one was my absolute favorite. It KILLED me to give it away, but it went to a good home. A Samhain aficionado I work with was thrilled to get it.
(by the way, I gave away nearly everything I got (for free) at RT. Shoot me your email addy if you want to see what I got and offered up to staff.)
The rest of the night was the Ellora's Cave party.....which I missed. I was just too tired to get gussied up in red for the evening. From what I hear, I didn't miss much. I spent a little bit of time down in the bar Monday night, but the rest of it up in my room reading and watching tv.