Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Laydowns for 12/21/10

Dark Harvest - Karen Harper (QP reprint)

Seducing a Vampire - Michele Hauf

Trouble - Linda Howard (MM reprint)

Ignited by Passion - Brenda Jackson (MM reprint)

Hawk's Way Rebels - Joan Johnston (MM reprint)

Prelude to a Scandal - Delilah Marvelle (I wasn't thrilled by this one. Not by a long shot. The premise involves the hero suffering from sexual addiction. As those of us based in reality know, addiction isn't ever really cured. However, the hero is miraculously healed by the power of the heroine's love and no longer has the slightest craving. Bull. Shit. The second book in the series is so, so, so much better.)

Caine's Reckoning - Sarah McCarty (MM release)

Enchanted No More - Robin D. Owens (As previously mentioned, I really enjoy Robin D. Owens' books and this one was no exception. However, it only got 2 stars at Romantic Times. I think the key here is to read this book like it's not a standalone. There will be backstory you are probably missing and there will be some loose ends for the next book to tie up.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Laydowns for 12/07/10

No Place to Run - Maya Banks

Goddess of Legend - P.C. Cast (in To Be Read journal)

Outrageously Yours - Allison Chase (in To Be Read journal)

Mine Until Morning - Jasmine Hayes

Dreams of Desire - Cheryl Holt

Explosive - Beth Kery

Star of the Morning - Lynn Kurland (MM release)

Nauti Nights - Lori Leigh (MM release. So very hot & steamy. Leigh writes passion extraordinarily well.)

Sex on the Slopes - Susan Lyons

Heart Fate - Robin D. Owens (MM release. Robin D. Owens is one of my favorite authors and this is a pretty good title. Both the hero & heroine suffer from emotional wounds and they heal together. Rec'd if you haven't read it already.)

Border Lord & Lady - Beatrice Small (MM reprint)

Day of the Dragon - Rebecca York (in To Be Read Journal)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Monthly Tally: November 2010

From the To-Be-Read Journal
  1. Cookies! Good Housekeeping's Favorite Recipes- Good Housekeeping is my favorite publisher for cookbooks. 
  2. A Bewitching Bride, Elizabeth Thorton
  3. Rules of an Engagement, Suzanne Enoch
  4. Somewhere Along the Way, Jodi Thomas
  5. Living Nightmare, Shannon Butcher
  6. Prince Charming Doesn't Live Here, Christine Warren- I bought this & then returned it when I realized it was a mainstream printing of the Ellora's Cave ebook. Bah.
  7. In the Company of Vampires, Katie MacAlister- I was a little disappointed by this. I loved Fran & Ben so I had high hopes that weren't met. 
  8. The Whales' Song, Dyan Sheldon
  9. Beneath the Thirteen Moons, Katherine Kennedy- Featuring the one & only Date Rape Drug flower
  1. How to Wed a Baron, Kasey Michaels, out now
  2. The Guy Next Door, Lori Foster, Susan Donovan, and Victoria Dahl, 03/2011
  3. Call Me Mrs. Miracle, Debbie Macomber, out now
  4. Enchanted No More, Robin D. Owens, 01/2011- I loved this book. It's not quite Holy Shit worthy and I'm biased 'cause Owens is one of my favorite authors, but I thought it was excellent. Which is why I was baffled that Romantic Times gave it two stars. WTF?
  5. Once Upon a Scandal, Delilah Marvelle, 02/2011- Way, way, WAY better than the first one
  6. Promise Canyon, Robyn Carr, 01/2011
  7. The Wolf Prince, Karen Kelley, out now
  8. Archangel's Consort, Nalini Singh, 02/2011
  9. Dragon Bound, Thea Harrison, 05/2011 - Pretty obvious how I felt about this one!
Trust me when I tell you that this is pitiful. I've kept track of my TBRs since '06 and this is my worst output. I was on track with ARCs, but good Lord, only 9 TBRs? I double-checked too. Like, maybe I missed something and, no, just the 9. I know I've been very restless lately and watching a lot of TV on DVD.  I also re-read some Shelley Laurenston and Dragon Bound like five times. Still. I'm ashamed. Bad Lady Lioness.

Twitter Thursday

This week I chose to follow @SmartBitches. This twitter account belongs to Sarah Wendell, one of the founders and current headmistress of the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog. The tag line is "All of the Romance, none of the bullshit." That should give you an inkling of what the tone of the blog is like.

I found out about the Smart Bitches via word of mouth. I believe it was BEA 2007 and I went with a friend who I met through Bookstore. She was working in a public library by this time and she introduced me to some wonderful ladies she'd met through her job. We were all hanging out on the lower level of Javits, waiting for the show to open. We'd gotten there early to snag tickets for the 'big' signings.  When N and I discovered we shared a mutual love of romance, the recs flew fast and furious. Then she said, "Do you know the Smart Bitches blog?"  I believe I was a little hesitant at first, but she made it sound so fabulous, I googled it when I recovered from the BEA daze. Now it's one of my daily sites.

This is not a serious blog. No, this is a blog that offers a tongue-in-cheek perspective on romance-related issues, topped with a hefty dose of snark. One of their regular features is Caption that Cover. The person who comes up with the snarkiest & funniest caption wins and Sarah usually has a prize for them. There's also Help a Bitch out (someone's looking for the book, but all they remember is the plot) and Friday videos (a humorous or touching you-tube vid). Sarah does cover industry-related issues, but they tend to be strictly romance related (Judith Griggs debacle aside) and from a layman's perspective. She also uses quite a bit of colorful language so it may not be work-safe, strictly speaking. Her professional website, Smart Bitch Sarah, is more, y'know, professional, but it's a good reference for Sarah's appearances & publications. Her professional website is, like, her day job, and the Smart Bitches blog is Sarah kicking off her heels & curling up on the couch with a glass of wine for a good gossip. Her twitter is snippets from that conversation.

The tone of her twitter is very true to who Sarah appears to be. Sarah shares glimpses into her personal life, talks about the book she just finished reading and what she's writing now. She doesn't tweet much about industry happenings unless she gets excited or riled up. I've "met" Sarah twice now. Once was at BEA 2009 when she signed my copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms (an academic look at romance that's not very academic. With man titty). The second time was at RomCon 2010 where I was bold enough to ask if I could sit at her table at what turned out to be a rather bad panel. Jane from Dear Author was there as well and I was an absolute stuttering idiot from intimidation. Sarah basically told me I was crazy and then did her best to put me at ease. Her twitter account sounds exactly like she does.

I leave up to you to decide whether @SmartBitches sounds follow-worthy or not, but I'd put her squarely in the entertainment category.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Laydowns for 11/30/10

The Most Scandalous Engagement - Gayle Callen (in my To Be Read journal)

The Duke's Night of Sin - Kathryn Caskie (Started out pretty good, but kinda crapped out towards the end)

Treasure of the Sun - Christina Dodd (Reprint)

Stay a Little Longer - Dorothy Garlock (QP release)

Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman - Lorraine Heath

Wicked Nights with a Lover - Sophie Jordan

Taken by Desire - Lavinia Kent

Shield's Lady - Jayne Ann Krentz (Reprint. One of my favorites.)

In the Dark of Dreams - Marjorie M. Liu (I teared up at the end of this book. There was no sense of time passing, nothing but the story. You need to have a passing familiarity with the Dirk & Steele books, but it's not really a continuation of anything. This was a story about a young boy who meets a young girl for minutes before they are separated for years. They share dreams and grow together until he is affected by a trauma eight years ago. Now he's found her again and together they have to save the world. The fact that she's human and he's a merman is certainly crucial to the plot, but it feels almost extraneous. The point is their journey to find each other and their struggle to stay together. Loved it. Highly, highly rec'd.)

His Christmas Pleasure - Cathy Maxwell

Duchess of Sin - Laurel McKee

Tempted by Fate - Kate Perry (The latest addition to an interesting paranormal series that has a twist on Chinese mysticism. I went back to get the first 2 books after reading this one. Rec'd.)

The Other Side - J.D. Robb (in my To Be Read journal)

Hungry for You - Lynsay Sands (Was the same old, same old. Okay if you liked the previous books, but don't expect anything new.)

Lover Mine - J.R. Ward (MM release)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Weddings & Black Friday

As it turns out, I won't be working this Black Friday. Instead, I'll be trailing around after my sister-in-law-to-be while she picks up her wedding dress and goes shopping for my bridesmaid dress. There are quite a few romances, usually contemporaries, about a bride/sister of the bride/brother of the groom/bride's best friend/wedding planner/yadda yadda. However, I don't think I've ever read anything about the sister of the groom. The older sister, to boot. You occupy an odd place in the wedding hierarchy. You're classified as family, but since you're not really family yet and you're only in the party because she's marrying your little brother, you rank below her mother(s), her sister(s) and her best friend(s). Yes, my Black Friday will be spent in wedding shops.

I don't feel too guilty for abandoning my store because our foot traffic is usually spread out over the day. We rarely offer doorbusters or any sales that can compete with the other big box stores. Also, I've noticed that since the economy crashed, the sales usually get set-up on Wednesday. Then it's just a matter of swapping out the signage before opening on Friday. This makes our lives a little simpler and doesn't require us to show up at an ungodly hour on Friday morning.

I've really only done Black Friday shopping as an adult once. It was like a novelty. It was an interesting experience and, if I ever need to buy toys or large electronics, I'll probably do it again. For the time being, however, I shop on the Internet. What most people don't realize is that the same brands are on sale across the board. The manufacturers are the ones who determine what goes on sale and the range of discounts allowed. If you frequent a site like BlackFriday.info, you can see the pattern. For example, the Canon A3100 digital camera is on sale at Toys 'R Us, Amazon, Office Max and Best Buy for $99. I can buy it online for the same price as I would find it in the store without changing out of my comfty pajamas. You just have to know what you want and do a little research. A spin through Google Shopping  shows the likely tax and shipping costs, plus any other retailers you may have missed.

Books are an exception to this. A comparison of Bookstore's and Competitor Bookstore's Black Friday sales shows they have differing discounted books and coupons. E-books rarely qualify for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals.

I'll leave you with a couple of my favorite wedding/marriage related romances.

My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, ed. P. N. Elrod
The Bride Quartet, Nora Roberts
Keegan's Lady, Catherine Anderson
Wildest Heart, Jayne Ann Krentz
Saving Grace, Julie Garwood
Immortal in Death, J. D. Robb

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Twitter Thursday

I've re-written this entry about four times. Perhaps it's my setting (my desk in the library), but the first paragraph keeps coming out like an introduction to an academic paper. So I'm going to skip it entirely and dive right into Twitter Thursday. There's no twitter account set up for the blog yet, but I do have a personal account where I follow a couple of book people. My intention is to feature one twitter account that you should be following. 

I am going to start with one of my top favorite authors: @NaliniSingh. I vividly remember how my love affair with her books began.  I remembered reading a review of it in Romantic Times (a magazine I found at my first Bookstore & subscribed to three months) and while I wasn't wowed by the description, I added it to my TBR journal. A week or two later, I got an excerpt of Slave to Sensation via Ms. Singh's publicist in the mail. Since I recognized the title, I read it right away. Then I proceeded to write a gushing email to the publicist and haunted the stockroom until the book came in.

Ever since then, I was hooked.  I was fortunate enough to receive ARCs for Visions of Heat and Caressed by Ice. I wrote up a review of Visions of Heat that was featured on Bookstore's internal romance newsletter. One of the final lines read: "This is definitely her breakout series and Ms. Singh will soon be one of the romance heavy-hitters." As we know now,  Ms. Singh has gone to be a New York Times bestselling author and an auto-buy for paranormal readers.

I was fortunate enough to meet Ms. Singh at RomCon2010. She actually is the main reason I went since she is based in New Zealand and rarely comes to the States for signings. We had a few email exchanges prior to this, back in 2006 & 2007, and not much contact since then until I begged (like full on groveling) for an ARC of Bonds of Justice. I expected to be one of the crowd, but she knew who I was. She remembered my reviews. I was speechless. She is incredibly nice and very warm towards her fans (I was by no means the only fangirl there).

Her Twitter account is worth following for the following reasons:
  1. She rarely tweets unless it's book-related so your feed will not be cluttered with extraneous information. Ms. Singh has a blog of her own where she talks about her work in general and occasionally shares tidbits from her personal life. She is also a weekly poster at The Odd Shots, where she will sometimes make book recommendations or post some of her photographs (which are gorgeous).
  2. When they release an excerpt or cover blurb, Ms. Singh tweets a link, thereby circumventing the need to continually check her website and allowing for instant gratification. She also sends out reminders about publication dates.
  3. Ms. Singh checks her feed on a daily basis. She may answer fan questions or send out smiley faces. I skimmed her feed while writing this entry and now I know that Max's brother, River, will be a presence in Kiss of Snow
So, when you're finished with your turkey dinners (Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans!),  log into Twitter and follow @NaliniSingh.  I personally will probably be in bed, hiding under the covers, because tomorrow is Black Friday. It's bad enough working Black Friday, but considering Hanukkah will only be a week away? I'd rather be home reading!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

First 'Holy Shit' award

I'm not great with book reviews. Spoilers vs no spoilers, Positive vs negative, etc, I can't be bothered. I also know that taste is subjective. So what I think is fantastically awesome may not appeal to some folks. Other people rave about authors and I'm like "Meh." However, every now and then, I come across a book that makes me go, "Holy shit, everyone needs to read this now." I start to think of ways to sell it to non-romance readers. I debate whether or not I'm willing to lend my copy out long enough for someone else to read. There's a lot of flailing and tweeting. In any case, now that I've started this blog, I've decided to give out the Holy Shit award.

The first Holy Shit award goes to Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison. There's no summary up yet on Amazon and Ms. Harrison's website is practically non-existent, so I shall do my best:

Humanity and the Elder Races live in uneasy harmony in this world. Pia Giovanni, a member of the weyrkind race, has been blackmailed by an ex-boyfriend to steal from Dragos Cuelebre's hoarde. Reluctantly carrying out the task, she immediately goes on the run after turning over what she filched.  While Dragos has never outed himself, it is an open secret among the weyrkind that he is a dragon shifter. Dragos is enraged by the idea that someone has stolen from him, but he is intrigued by Pia's lingering scent. He immediately sets off in pursuit. When Dragos runs Pia to ground, sparks immediately fly.

Dragos is inclined to forgive her for her theft, but there are bigger problems to face: an Elven boycott, marauding Goblins, and a scheming Faerie king. Not to mention he's a carnivore, she's a vegan; he's autocratic and she doesn't take crap from anyone; he's a dragon and she refuses to tell him her parentage. Through it all, Dragos is simply certain that Pia now belongs to him and will not give her up, regardless of her wishes. Pia thinks he's a borderline stalker, but she's also having a hard time deciding how she feels since there's one near death experience after another.

Opposites attract and these two are no exception. However, they will both need to compromise if they are to have a real relationship that is worth all the gold in Dragos's hoard.

Oh, Lordy, see what I mean? I stink at this. It's better than I'm making it sound. Look, bottom line is that Pia is a fabulous heroine. She and Drago take turns saving each other. She calls him constantly on his shit and makes smart & sensible decisions. She thinks things through and doesn't make assumptions. Drago is marvelously alpha who is baffled and perplexed by how he feels by Pia. What makes him fabulously unique is that he asks what he did wrong and learns from his mistakes. He's right up there with Curran from Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels books.

I raced through this book and I immediately wanted to read it again. By the time I was three quarters done, I mourned the fact that getting ARCs is wonderful, but that also means I have to wait longer for the next book. The writing is so lyrical.  This is a description from the first time Dragos shows up:

"He had been born along with the solar system. Give or take.

He remembered a transcendent light and an immense wind. Modern science called it a solar wind. He recalled a sensation of endless flight, an eternal basking in light and magic so piercing and young and pure it rang like the trumpeting of thousands of angels."

I just tried to find a non-spoilery quote that illustrates the thread of humor that runs through the book and lost about twenty minutes as I re-read different sections. Never mind that I just finished it like an hour ago.

If I had to draw comparisons to previously published books, I'd have to draw from a couple of different sources. It has a similar world to Laura Gilman's Retrievers' series. As previously mentioned, Dragos is like Curran. Pia kinda reminds me of Amanda Quick's bluestocking heroines (especially Lavina Lake) with their ability to handle blustering aristocrats and take care of themselves. Toss in a dash of Wen Spencer's Tinker and garnish with Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series or Larissa Ione's Demonica series.

The book will be released in MM form & for $7.99 on 05/03/11. It can already be pre-ordered at your choice of sellers: Borders, B&N, or Amazon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Laydowns for 11/23/10

Rainwater - Sandra Brown (Paperback release)

Mistress by Midnight - Nicola Cornick

Night of the Vampires - Heather Graham

Ice - Linda Howard (MM release)

Sweet Revenge - Lisa Jackson (Reprint of 2 stories in one)

The Sooner the Better - Debbie Macomber (originally published as Moon Over Water)

McKetterick's Choice - Linda Lael Miller

Magnolia - Diana Palmer

O'Hurley's Return - Nora Roberts (reprint)

Promises in the Dark - Stephanie Tyler

Captive Spirit - Anna Windsor

Return to Rose Cottage - Sherryl Woods (Reprint of 2 stories in one)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Behind the Scenes: Laydowns

Mondays are always a busy day for me. I have my regular full-time job (ILL & Periodicals in an academic library) and then two hours later, I have my part-time job at the Bookstore. Savvy readers probably know that new titles are usually released on Tuesday. It sounds easy, right? Open box, put out the new books, also referred to as laydowns. Perhaps in theory, but, in reality, it's actually a rather time consuming process involving a multitude of staff members. I will spare you the nitty-gritty details of everything that happens and all the things that can/will/often do go wrong. However, after eight years of doing Merch and handling laydowns, there are some things I know that you probably should.

First off, not everything has an enforced street date. I know for a fact that some authors will be all 'My book's coming out on this date' and I'm like 'I just shelved it two hours ago.' Unless this is a Big Name, the book probably doesn't have an enforced street date and you may be able to find it in a store before you can buy it online. The best way to check is call us and ask us over the phone. If we tell you, 'Oh, we should have it on 11/22,' it's an enforced street date. If we're vague, 'Looks like it'll be released sometime this month, call back next week,' it doesn't have a street date and the 'call back' may mean it's in transit or buried in a pallet.  However, don't call with a list of twenty titles. That's just gonna piss us off. 

Secondly, Bookstore offers insane pre-order pricing online. We do not have the same pricing in store. However, if you order it online, you're not gonna get it that day unless you pay for expedited shipping. If you really, really want it right now, buy it in a bricks & mortar store. The best way to get your hands on a laydown title is the following: 

1. Call and find out when the laydown date is. Unless it's a James Patterson book, it'll usually come out on a Tuesday. Patterson has a monopoly on Mondays except when Oprah picks a new bookclub title. Those are usually Monday releases as well. Also, there are odd titles here and there that come out on Thursdays. For the most part, you're looking at a Tuesday date. 

2. Write down the laydown date. The night before that date, call to double-check it will, in fact, be available that day. The following has been known to happen: Warehouse screws up or there is a weather disaster and half of the laydowns do not arrive until Monday afternoon, the IPT (inventory processing team) guys give each other the flu and call out half the week, or the publisher decides to hold back the book.  Ask if a copy can be put aside for you tonight or if you should call back tomorrow. Generally, we will be happy to stick a hold slip in the book if you are nice.

3. Show up on the laydown date prior to closing and buy the book. If the title is really hot and we didn't get enough, you're not going to get any extra time. As soon as we close, that book is coming off the hold shelf and going on the floor.

With regards to in store pricing, there are usually no coupons valid in Bookstore for Tuesdays. I believe the reasoning is that if you want a book badly enough enough to pick it up on the day it comes out, you want it badly enough to pay full price. So don't call us on Monday night and tell us that you have a coupon that's expiring so you need to buy it that night. We can't sell it to you. You can whine and beg all you want, but you are not worth getting fired over. However, at Bookstore, Big Name hardcovers are usually discounted at least 30% off on Laydown day, more if you're a member of our discount program. Paperbacks are never discounted unless they're getting added to a pre-existing sale. Keep in mind, though, that you can't count on that Big Name hardcover still being 30% off next week. Unless it's a bestseller, titles are usually only up in the front of the store for about two weeks. Once it gets put in section, it will rarely, if ever, go on sale.

Now that Harry Potter and Twilight have ended, midnight openings are a rare thing. I personally enjoyed them because I enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow Harry Potter fans. However, they are a scheduling nightmare, never cost-effective, and usually involve super-human efforts in event planning.  In addition, we are usually not allowed to prep midnight release books until that day. A few weeks before Order of the Phoenix came out, it was delivered swathed in black plastic with a label of  'Hanukkah books.' In July. The truck driver was kinda insulted that they didn't think he wouldn't figure out what he was delivering across the area. In any case, those boxes sat there for weeks, taking up an enormous amount of space in our stockroom, and the anticipation nearly drove me out of my mind. Anyway, if you haven't seen signage plastered across the store announcing a midnight opening, don't bother asking.

Finally, be kind to your local booksellers on Monday night or Tuesday morning. They will either be staying very late or have been there since very early to get everything set up. This is especially true on Black Friday and 12/26. It's entirely possible they've been there since 5am if not earlier.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Welcome to the Bookshelf.

I know what you're thinking. Another book blog? Really? There are a gazillion of them out there on a variety of different genres and topics. What makes this one so special?

Doubt is to be expected, so allow me to introduce myself. My internet handle is Lady Lioness. You may know me from such fandoms as Sailor Moon, Roswell, Wolf Lake, and, recently, the Big Bang Theory. My foray into the Internet began in the early '90s on the very first incarnation of the bulletin boards at the Bronze, in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom. I was the original keeper of the Codex. The Lioness's Den sprang to life shortly after than during my college years. It was a meta-link site. It expanded after 2000 as I added an archive for my fanfiction. After I graduated from college, I kept renewing the domain name, but I no longer maintained any of the sites.

I started work at a chain bookstore nine days after graduating in 2002. I am still employed by the company and it was eight years last May. I started as a bookseller, got promoted to Merchandising Supervisor, and then dropped back down to a part-time bookseller when I got a full-time job working in an academic library. In 2005, when I became a supervisor, I also became a Romance Expert for the chain.

As a Romance Expert, I get advanced reader's copies (ARCs) from various publishers and from NetGalley. I read them and then send my opinions to our Romance buyer in our corporate headquarters. If I really enjoyed it, I would write up reviews to be posted on the website. However, due to recent changes in the legalese with regards to posting reviews on the site, I'm no longer keen on that idea. In addition, I occupy an unique place in the book world, straddling the boundaries between the general public, the retail conglomerates, and the publishing industry.

I am a profligate reader. I don't have the exact number handy at the moment, but I read well over 200 books a year, spanning genres from picture books to science. Obviously, I tend to read more romance than anything else, but any title that looks interesting goes into my TBR journal.  However, I have three firm DNWs. I will not read anything involving adultery or cannibalism, and a fiction title must have a happy ending. I have enough drama and angst in my real life.

My goal for the Bookshelf is simple: Update a couple of times a week with book-related posts. Bear with me as I get the details sorted out and perhaps prettify the place a bit. It's rather dusty in here.