Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNoWriMo & Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards

Happy NaNoWriMo!!!

Everyone, celebrate this month by either spending it writing or by encouraging your favorite authors to keep plugging away on their own books. Know someone who wants to write & is doing NaNoWriMo? Feel free to mention them in the comments!

When you (or someone you know) is finished with the next big book, why not prepare it for submission to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards? This is a wonderful contest where an unpublished author can submit his or her book in the hopes of getting it published by Penguin or by one of the other companies out there! Many people have gotten published after being in this contest & getting lots of praise from their peers & reviewers rating their books, so this can be a wonderful opportunity for potential authors!

The #1 requirement is that your manuscript not be previously published. If it is a self-published book, you can still submit it- just make sure to stop offering it for sale during the time of the contest. (Here's the wiki entry for ABNA, which contains info about all of the steps to the contest.)

Down in the ABNA forums you'll find tons of people who will be more than happy to help you with your writing & with the pitch you'll have to write for the contest. The next contest isn't until next year, but the earlier you start with this stuff the better.

I hope to see you in the next ABNA contest!

Read this book: Nickel Plated by Aric Davis

Hi everyone!

I want to tell all of you about an author that competed in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novelist Awards. His name is Aric Davis & he wrote one of the best excerpts in the forum, but unfortunately he didn't progress in the contest due to a technicality, but thankfully Amazon had the good sense to snap his book up to be released through their AmazonEncore line.

Here's the book synopsis:

Nickel is a survivor. He has to be. For as long as he can remember, his life has hinged on the flip of a coin. Or, rather, the scribble of a social worker’s pen. He’s been through the system, even had a good dad for a few years, until he was gone, too. But Nickel remembers everything he taught him, and since the day he escaped from foster-care hell, he’s put that knowledge to good use. Just twelve years old, he makes a steady living by selling marijuana to high schoolers, blackmailing pedophiles he ferrets out online, and working as a private investigator.

When a beautiful girl named Arrow hires him to find her little sister Shelby, Nickel figures at best the kid’s a runaway; at worst, some perv’s gotten a hold of her. He scours the internet and the streets of Arrow’s suburban neighborhood, and what he finds there is as ugly a truth as he’s ever seen. For beyond the manicured lawns, Nickel discovers children for sale, and adults with souls black as the devil. And people like that aren’t about to let some kid ruin their game. This edgy thriller introduces a canny, precocious anti-hero, the likes of which young-adult readers have never seen.

I'm really excited to see this in print & even more excited to announce this to everyone! If you want to order a copy from amazon, feel free to pre-purchase it here. It doesn't release until March of 2011, but from what I read of it the book is well worth the wait.

If you want to show the author a little love, you can always visit his website & contact him through there! Davis also has another book out that he self-published, which is unfortunately not in print anymore but hopefully now that Nickel Plated has been picked up we'll see that come back into print!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I want to trick or treat here: Couple hands out books instead of candy

Happy Halloween everyone! Go hug your favorite ghoul or vampire & make merry!

Speaking of making merry, I think I've found one of the coolest places to trick or treat. In Kennewick, Washington there's a couple who have decided to forget the candy & give kids a treat that they can enjoy for far longer than they would a tootsie roll or snickers bar.

The Reeves are handing out books to the children that come through have their choice of books such as Captain Snap and the Children of Vinegar Lane as well as books for various other age groups & interests. They said that this is their second year doing it & that last year not a single kid (or parent) went away unhappy.

Isn't that just the coolest? Makes me wish I both lived in Washington & was young enough to trick or treat in their neighborhood.

Book Review: Zombie Cupcakes by Zilly Rosen

Title: Zombie Cupcakes
Author: Zilly Rosen
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: 02/15/2011
ISBN: 9781449401122

Lovingly illustrated & highly playful, Zombie Cupcakes showcases many different ways to decorate your cupcakes for that oh so special occasion! These aren’t your typical “worms & dirt” cupcakes that you’ll find at every Halloween party & bake sale. No, these cupcakes go the extra mile. With designs inspired by several different movies, stories, & genres, (my favorite was the Resident Evil T-Virus one), this is one book that is not for the faint of heart.

I’ll admit, when you first look at the directions for some of these cupcakes you’ll feel overwhelmed. Some of them are pretty detailed & somewhat time consuming for the clumsy or inexperienced pasty cook. (Yay me, I’m both.) Luckily for these people (and myself), the book not only gives a great set of instructions as well as a pictorial guide to decorating the cupcakes. Also in the book are various trivia questions so you can see how up to date you are on your scary knowledge. The book also gives a complete list of the things you'll need as well as a list of handy tips, which makes it a lot easier to approach some of the designs.

Each cupcake design uses a skeleton rating scale to show how difficult the cupcake is to make While this is helpful, beginners might find that some of the one skeleton designs are a bit hard for them. No worries though, many of them are easier to make than they appear & you will improve over time. (The three star designs are easily the coolest, but I have to admit it'll be a while before I attempt making the zombie hands or the killer bridal couple.)

Experienced & professional chefs will love this book, although some readers will probably feel a little overwhelmed by some of the recipes. (Still fun to look at, though.) For those chefs I recommend that they try checking it out via the library first or perhaps glance through it at the bookstore just in case.

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Book Review: Shall We Drown in Feathered Sleep by Michael Merriam

Title: Should We Drown in Feathered Sleep
Author: Michael Merriam
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 11/15/2010

Short stories are both a joy as well as a difficulty to read. If done properly they can tell stories & leave the reader as full as if they were to have read hundreds of pages. If improperly done the reader leaves unsatisfied & empty, wishing for something more substantial. Michael Merriam is one author who knows how to properly pen a short story.

Set in an unknown time & location, this story focuses on a post-apocalyptic world that has been torn apart by war. People must do what they can to get by, which includes trading as well as having a yearly sacrifice to the loons. Each year the loons cry & only Grace Kriske seems to hear them. She regularly dreams of them, hearing their calls & seeing their plumage. Grace knows that she will never be chosen to be the sacrifice as a past injury has left her crippled for life. But as she grows increasingly more unsatisfied by her life in the village & what is never to be hers, will Grace be able to answer the loons' call or will she spend the rest of her life in her wheelchair?

While this is a short story (being just over 40 pages), the length truly does suit this apocalyptic fantasy. It's the absolute perfect length, which is something to commend Merriam about. (Although if he chose to, he could pen future full length stories set in this world.) Grace is a character that readers will be able to sympathize with & as the conclusion of the story looms ever closer they'll find themselves becoming impatient to see what fate will bring her & how everything will end up. There's also a little bit of romance to this story, although the main force of the story lies with the loons & Grace's desire to do more than what she currently is.

This is a great story & well worth the time to read, although at times readers will wish for just a teensiest bit more information about some of what is going on in the story. I heartily recommend this to anyone looking for a great short story to read inbetween their lengthier books.

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Book Review: Vampire Vacation by C.J. Ellisson

Title: Vampire Vacation (The V.V. Inn #1)
Author: C.J. Ellisson
Publisher: R.H. Publishing
Release Date: 10/10/2010
ISBN: 9780982661000

While there have been a lot of vampire books flooding the market, I can safely say that I haven’t seen a novel combine vampires, sex, mystery, AND innkeeping. Shoot, I’ve never seen a vampire hotel themed book before, so that element alone intrigued me.

Ancient vampire Vivian runs an Alaskan inn that caters to an ultra exclusive crowd, specializing in erotic pleasures. Money can’t buy your way in, nor will wearing the right clothing. No, to gain a room in this hotel you have to be an owner of a pair of fangs or at least be traveling with someone who does. Vivian’s pretty happy to spend her days quietly in the cold North, hiding her true powers from those would have her dead. When a dead body is found in one of the hotel rooms & old threats from the past threaten to re-emerge, it is going to take Vivian’s entire arsenal to figure out what is going on & to keep her precious peace from being disturbed.

Liberally sprinkling generous portions of red hot sex scenes in with a mystery that is slow to reveal its secrets, Ellisson gives the audience the usual vampire powers with just enough new additions to make the book interesting. Having a vampire run a hotel just for her fanged counterparts to freely romp in is something that isn’t usually seen, which works surprisingly well.

The only downfall of the book is that there’s a LOT of back story going on here, so much that some readers will wonder if they’ve picked up the second book in a series or if there are previous books out there further detailing Vivian’s exploits. Ellisson does her best to elaborate on Vivian’s past in brief glimpses, but it will still leave some readers feeling like they’re being left a little in the dark & looking for prequel novels.

Overall, this is a decent first novel by Ellisson. There are a few rough spots to work out here & there (mostly dealing with Vivian’s past as noted above), the spicy & lovingly written sex does make up for it.

I will let you guys know that while there is going to be a sequel dealing with things mentioned at the end of the book, the author has told me that there will be a prequel to the novels dealing with Vivian's past. So fear not- we'll eventually get a novel dealing with all of the past mentioned in the book!

(Reader copy provided by author)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review: True Believers by Maria Zannini

Title: True Believers
Author: Maria Zannini
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 10/18/2010

When I first read the synopsis of this book I was pretty enthused- after all, I love stories that involve the Nephilim. Then I started reading the book & got a little confused when aliens started getting brought into the mix early on in the book. Don't worry readers- it doesn't get as muddled up as you'd think & there's a method behind Zannini's writing. I'm not going to spill the details, but trust me- she puts an intriguing spin on things. Since I can't do justice to the already fantastic plot description put out by Carina Press, I'm going to list it below:

Taelen Jessit is an alien emissary on a mission sanctioned by the U.S. government to search for ancient gods. His hunt leads him to a dig headed by archaeologist Rachel Cruz. When his military entourage forces Rachel's team out of the cave they were exploring, a flash flood hits the riverbed and threatens to tear them through the ravine.

In the aftermath of the flood, Taelen witnesses the incredible healing of Rachel's broken ankle and believes his gods have blessed her. He is inexplicably drawn to her, and she to him.

What Taelen doesn't know is that Rachel is Nephilim—a descendant of the gods his people worship—masquerading as a human to find the god-killer and destroy it. Rachel needs help to bring down the tech that is manipulating the Earth's magnetosphere and frying her people alive. She's given Taelen her heart, but can she trust him with her secret?

I have to admit that I was a bit curious as to how such a book would work out once I realized what it was going to be about. Part of me wondered if I would like it or if this would just end up getting bogged down under its own weight & I'm glad to say that I did enjoy it a great deal. Zannini manages to take two different genres & make them work together quite well. Readers will love the interaction of the two main characters & the instant heat that rises between them is pretty believable & tangible.

The only drawback I had was with the ending- I wanted more & I really felt like this was left open for possible sequels. Not a bad thing, but towards the end I was wondering how everything was going to be wrapped up & felt a little disappointed when some things didn't happen. I'm still glad I read it & I'll be watching for more works by her, so it isn't like the ending is a deal breaker by any means.

This really is a perfect book for October since reading it reminded me of candy: incredibly fun & hard to put down. Like I said earlier- I can't wait to see if Zannini will revisit this world.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: The Numbers Man by Pat Muir

Title: The Numbers Man
Author: Pat Muir
Publisher: PMBook
Release Date: 09/01/2010
ISBN: 0967606012

Normally I wouldn't start a blog off like this, but I do have to give a bit of sad news. Despite the cover art stating that it is available for the Kindle, this book isn't currently available on it. Nor am I aware as to where you can go to purchase a copy- & you will want to purchase a copy because this is one of the cuter books I've read this year. After all, it has the following exchange:

"Do you stay in touch with your ex?"

"I try to be friendly by sending her a box of chocolates on her birthday and she reciprocates by sending me a fruitcake on mine. I suspect symbolism in that gift."

I'm currently asking the publisher if there's going to be further printings or if it will be made available in any other format- this really is worth reading. Anyway, on with the review!

The Numbers Man follows Pat, a sixty-three year old ex-geophysicist turned apartment complex owner that just wants to settle down with the right woman & decides to try internet dating. He figures that statistically speaking, the more women he dates the more likely it'll be that he finds Miss Right. Unfortunately for him, he's only able to remember the women he's dated by numbers- something that's understandable when the amount of your internet dates have risen up into the 40s & 50s. While he tries to find that one great woman Pat is also trying to drum up sales for his latest book, The Single Man's Guide to a Quick Meal. When he clashes with a TV chef over one of the suggestions in his book (date a woman who knows how to cook), his agent & her TV staff smell the chance to not only boost his sales but also her ratings. But as Pat's dating life gets more complicated & he keeps getting hit on by the wife of one of his employees, Pat's going to figure out how to get himself out of this mess before someone gets hurt.

There really was a lot to like about this book. While Pat does come off a little old school, Muir manages to make the character likable & endearing. Readers will also enjoy the back & forths between Joyce & Pat, one of the more entertaining points of the book. Also incredibly interesting is when the reader begins to discover that the book is more than just fiction- it also seems to be partially based on the author's own experiences in life, something Muir delights in poking fun at several times during the book.

The only drawback to the book (other than not knowing where to find a copy) is that towards the end everything does seem to try to wrap up a little more quickly than I would have liked. While I'm not going to divulge details, I would have liked for a little more detail to the last 10 pages or so.

All in all, this was a cute book to read & I managed to finish reading it in the span of a day. Readers looking for a hugely meaty read won't find that in this particular book, but why should every book be some weighty 500 page tome? When I find out where future copies of this book will be sold, I highly recommend that you give this book a try. (As soon as I discover those details, I promise to update everyone!)

In the meantime, the author does appear to have a previous book entitled "Stories to Entertain You... If you get Bored on Your Wedding Night". I can't vouch for how good it is, but I will mention that the author mentions it several times within the book as something that his character has also written.

(Reader copy provided by PMBook)

Nook Color & children's books, Kindle lending

I was surfing the net a while ago & came across an interesting new Nook that is supposed to be coming out: Nook Color. The image below was originally posted on the B&N site as a way of showing off screen protectors, but as soon as people started realizing that this was a glimpse of the new Nook it was quickly removed. "Accidentally" leaked? Who knows?
Supposedly this Nook will be in vibrant color & rather than stay true to the e-ink technology that is so prevalent in the majority of ebook devices out there, this is going to be something along the lines of the iPad. It's going to be touchscreen, which will have its pluses & minuses. (For me I always worry about fingerprints getting on the screen when I try to read!) There's no news as to whether or not it'll support apps like the iPad does. I do know that it will have android software & will be sold for about $250, though.

There's also news that this new ereader will also carry children's books (ages 3-8), something that might either delight or horrify some readers. (Delight them to know that they can have hundreds of books at hand to let children read or horrify them to imagine such an expensive piece of equipment in the hands of the very young.) Supposedly there's going to be about 12,000 books & 15 publishers, so parents can expect a wide variety for their children.

I imagine that this awesome piece of literary electronics will be available just in time for the Christmas season for your purchasing pleasure. Supposedly B&N did purchase a Nook Color themed website name, so be on the lookout for a site by the name of or something similar.

In other news, Amazon announced that they'd start lending out books- a concept that just about everyone can agree was long overdue. Just like with the Nook, you can lend out a book that you've purchased to another Kindle user but can't read the book while it's being lent. Hopefully Amazon will improve on the Nook lending policy & allow a user to lend out a book more than once. It's annoying to think that you can only lend out your ebook once, making you wonder which Nook buddy is more deserving of the title. It's still better than not lending at all, but just a little irritating in my opinion.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Book Review: Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello

Title: Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho
Author: Stephen Rebello
Publisher: Open Road
Release Date: 06/16/2010
ISBN: 9781453201213

Ever since I first saw the movie, I’ve always been particularly taken with Hitchcock’s Psycho. When I was younger I’d pour over the movie details, especially when I managed to get my hands on a book that gave a scene by scene guide of the movie. (It was all done picture by picture. I wish I could find a copy of that now!) The first time I watched it I still managed to be surprised by everything even when I knew the outcome. It was just that much of a testament to the genius & talent of Hitchcock & those he worked with.

This book gives the reader the history of the movie, from Bloch’s planning of the book & the crimes that preceded them to Hitchcock filming it & releasing it in theaters. Very little is left out in this book & everything is examined thoroughly. It’s incredibly informative & just as incredibly entertaining.

Fans of Hitchcock will love getting a better glimpse of the master at work while people who just love a good story will also be interested to see how hard it was to get this film made. Would you believe that Hitchcock initially viewed this as “just another film” & wasn’t initially as into this film as he would eventually become? There’s a lot in this book that might make people surprised, especially when you consider the standards at the time. What some might view as tame by today’s standards was considered to be wildly inappropriate at the time, causing Hitchcock to have to fight to get his feature in theaters.

While the writing might be a little dry for some, I can’t say enough great things about this book. I loved revisiting an old favorite of mine in a whole new light & it really made me appreciate this movie that much more.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Review: In Darkness Bound by Christine Price

Title: In Darkness Bound
Author: Christine Price
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 09/13/2010
eISBN: 9781426890574

As always, I’m going to warn readers that the pairings in this book are M/M & M/M/M. If you don’t care for pairings of this nature then this will probably not be the book for you. That said, on with the show!

Chris has always been different. He’s been all too aware of that ever since his brother died when they were very young- a death that Chris feels that his strange abilities were responsible for. When Chris is suddenly abducted & forced to take part in sadistic tests given by a doctor gone mad, his only saving grace will be found in two men. One is a patient with a strange craving. The other is a patient turned orderly, the only worker there with any portion of sanity & mercy. As the confines of the cramped prison as well as the influence of the doctor & a strange, evil patient begin to hammer away at Chris’s sanity, it becomes all too apparent that the only way to survive will be to escape.

Believe me; I’m not giving the story premise justice. This book really does seem to have just about everything: mystery, suspense, sex, love, evil… it’s all in here. There’s a lot in this book that’s enjoyable. Price does a fine job of making the reader guess as to what is going on & what will happen next. I have to admit that there were several parts to the story that I really couldn’t predict, which I love. I love being surprised. Readers will also love that the interactions between the men flows so naturally between the two & the erotic scenes (which are short but explicit) do seem to fit with the surrounding story.

The only downfall with the story is that towards the end it just seemed to unravel a bit & as a result, lacked the punch I was expecting from it. I can’t go into a huge amount of detail without spoiling it, but I was kind of expecting a little more of a confrontation between some of the characters & I was slightly disappointed that it never came. (I say slightly because the ending hints that there could easily be a sequel- lots of unfinished business at the end of this book!)

Overall though, this was an incredibly fun read that I gobbled down in a day & if Price does decide to return to this universe (oh please oh please oh please!), I’m definitely planning on tracking it down. I’m just curious to know more about this universe, the characters, & how the unfinished plot elements will be resolved in the future.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Patterson contest is over!

Hi all!!

Thanks to everyone for entering my James Patterson contest! I'm so glad that everyone found & (so far) likes my blog!

I had one of my co-workers pick the winner this go round & the winner is:


Look in your inbox for an email from me asking for an address to send the book to!

Everyone, check back later for another giveaway! (I aim to do this at least once a month, if not more.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Kindle Singles: Shorter books with (hopefully) a smaller price

Hi all!

Part of the big buzz on the internet is that Amazon has come out with Kindle Singles, a platform that will allow authors to publish shorter books or stories (30 to 90 pages). While Amazon hasn't announced what they'll be charging these books, it should be less than what normal ebooks go for.

The only part of this that makes me wonder is what is meant by "normal ebook prices". Amazon has had more than their fair share of complaints over ebook pricing (the whole $9.99 boycott thing), so I'm assuming that the new pricing would be at & under $5. The more well known authors would sell for higher while the newer & the more obscure authors would be able to have lower price points so they could appeal to a broader audience. Hopefully this will take effect also on the newspaper articles that are regularly sold through Amazon normally for about $10. I'm sure that buyers would appreciate being able to purchase newspaper & other articles for lower prices as well. I'm also wondering if this would also impact the sale price of CreateSpace books, Amazon's own self-publishing avenue. (The prices there go for as low as 99 cents.)

In any case, this is an interesting development & I can only hope that it also helps to eventually lower the prices with other ebook companies as well.

Book Review: Demon's Fall by Karalynn Lee

Title: Demon's Fall
Author: Karalynn Lee
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 10/25/2010
ISBN: 9781426890680

One thing I will have to warn people about is that this is a very short story, only taking up about 70 pages. For some the events in this story will happen a little too quickly & they'll long for just a little bit more detail, mostly because this is a rich world that Lee has spun & they want just a little more depth to everything.

Kenan is an incubus, a demon who seduces human women out of their souls, forgetting about them once the challenge is done & over with. When he comes across the angel Jahel in the marketplace at Hellsgate he has the unbearable urge to touch her. Sure that her soul would make an intriguing addition to his collection of souls, Kenan promptly purchases the angel with the intent on slowly seducing her our of her soul. He's sure that a little kindness, as well as helping Jahel find the soul she came almost all this way to find, will help his natural incubus seduction skills. What he didn't plan on was losing his heart.

As a short story this tale both works & doesn't work at times. What works in this story is that Lee has created an intriguing world full of possibilities. The idea of a stolen soul turning into a coin (leaving the former owner alive) & using it as currency in the demon world is something that many readers will find a nice touch. What also works is the heat that Lee has made between our two main characters- it's very tangible, very erotic, & for the most part comes across rather naturally (as natural as it can be for a demon & an angel).

What doesn't work is mostly due to the short length of the story. Jahel & Kenan have an almost instant attraction to each other & don't seem to fight it, something that might irk some readers. The plot for this story moves along at an almost lightening speed & while this is a good story, many will just wish that Lee had stretched the story out a little longer just so she could have explored more of the potential of this world & its inhabitants. Some parts of it just felt a little underdeveloped.

Overall though, this is a pretty decent story & one that will thrill many readers. I hope that this story is merely a setup for more stories to come, as developing all of this for one 70-ish page story would sort of be a bit of a waste. This was a fun story to read (especially with the Snow White references), so I would recommend this for most romance readers out there.

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Review: To Wrestle With Darkness by A.D. Jones

Title: To Wrestle With Darkness
Author: A.D. Jones
Publisher: Rising Sun Group Publishing
Release Date: 07/01/2009

Before I get started, I just want to let people know what type of book this is. It’s a sci-fi fantasy, but it’s a CHRISTIAN sci-fi fantasy. That might sound sort of busy to people & it is to an extent, but before you start turning your minds off & start to look at other books, let me tell you that you really need to give this book a chance. It’s too good to ignore.

To Wrestle With Darkness follows two different people at very different times as well as the people around them. The first person is Michael, a young atheist who wants nothing more than to attend college & attract the attention of a girl he’s been crushing on for years. When he discovers that he’s one of many super powered people, Michael is at a loss of what to do or believe. The second person is Jonah, a man born in a future where being Christian is an offense punishable by death, a sentence that is enforced by the genetically engineered humans known as the Blues. Always in hiding, Jonah has to figure out how he is going to not only protect himself & his beloved wife from detection, but to also find a way to help his fellow men (Christian & non-Christian alike) escape from the persecution of the Blues. While the time periods for the two men differ, their fates are far more entwined than anyone could ever guess & it will take much faith for the groups in either time periods to survive the horrors that they will come across.

I’ll admit that while the book’s premise greatly intrigued me, I was a bit curious as to what type of book this would be. After all, there aren’t many books that fall into this genre. While this book was a little slow to get rolling & isn’t what I’d call a leisure read (a book you can read without thinking), it is very much a book that I’d recommend to fans of Christian literature & non-fans (you know you’re out there) alike.

Where do I start with this book? First off, I absolutely love that Jones managed to make a book that is religious but not preachy. There are far too many books out there where they go light on the plot in order to awkwardly interject their religious message into the book, which makes many of the books seem preachy & the religious content just seem way too out of place. That doesn’t happen with this book- religion is an important part of the book & Jones tries very hard to make it flow as naturally as possible. The pacing of the book was very good & readers will be frantically flipping through the book in order to resolve the cliffhanger of the previous chapter for those specific characters.

The only thing that sort of gave me pause was that there was so much of everything crammed into this book. The amount of content & characters in the book are so many that the story would have been better served by being formatted into at least 2-3 books. There’s just so much going on that many readers will just long for a little more detail & background to some of the characters & time periods. (Especially the past of the Aunties & Uncle Paul as well as other things I won’t mention because they’re plot spoilery.) It's just that unfortunately I felt like the fast pace & tons of story came at the cost of some background information.

While readers looking for a brainless read won’t find that in this book, this is very much a wonderful book & I recommend it to people who aren’t afraid of having to think while they read. I can only hope that the author does further stories based around some of the people & situations in this book- there’s a lot of potential storylines to explore.

(Reader copy provided by author)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Are picture books becoming a thing of the past?

When I first read this story in the NYT, I was initially a little skeptical. After all, picture books are such a staple in the lives of children that I couldn't really imagine them not getting sold. Then I thought about it for a minute. I have to admit, I've seen some of the things this article mentions.

I've seen the parents going to the shelves & grabbing a chapter book or something that is clearly beyond the reading level for the child's age range. The parents always say that they read them out loud & attempt to push the child's reading levels up, to which I usually just shrug & ring the item up for them. After all, reading to your child is a good thing. But is it really good to leap over picture books entirely?

Price definitely makes a difference, as many picture books are usually horribly expensive. Some of them can run up in the $15-20 range, something that many parents & buyers might balk at. They want their child to read, but they don't know if they want to purchase a book that is mostly pictures & is about 10-15 pages long. I know that in my store's sale section the marked down picture books do sell pretty well, so maybe it is a matter of price?

Is it because of the age of computers? Nowadays a child can just as easily surf through the internet to get their entertainment fix- my nephews started getting interested in the internet at a young age & educational toys that were focused around the computer helped them adapt to using it pretty quickly. Plus when you add on audiobooks, it's even easier for a parent to push a more advanced book into their child's face.

The one thing that irritated me in the article were the parents who wanted to heavily push their young child out of picture books. While I can understand their concern that their kid might not progress as someone his age should, there's nothing wrong with reading a picture book. Heck, I usually flip through them while I'm cleaning the store or if an interesting new one comes in.

In any case, I'm still a little skeptical that picture books are really becoming a thing of the past, although I can see where there is cause for concern.

Book Review: Coming Clean by Inez Kelley

Title: Coming Clean
Author: Inez Kelley
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 08/30/2010
ASIN: B003U89S8O

WARNING: This book contains lots & lots of sex & adult situations, so it's not appropriate for all audiences!

I'm just giving you guys a head's up- this story is firmly in the erotica genre, so there's a lot of sex involved in the story. The pairings in this book are M/F, M/M, & M/M/F, so if you don't like same sex pairings then this might not be the story for you. With that warning in mind, on with the review!

Grant & Vivi have a seemingly perfect marriage. They keep no secrets, they play together well... and they both seem to have a not so hidden desire for Grant's childhood friend Cade. When Vivi asks Grant to help fulfill her secret fantasy to have both men in her bed at once, Grant is initially a little shy but warms to the idea quickly. After all, he & Cade have a bit of a history, an encounter in their youth that he's remembered all too vividly- something that Vivi is aware of & is driving her reasons for requesting the threesome. But can friendships & marriage survive the encounter?

This is a wonderfully sizzling read. The sex scenes are so wonderfully written that it'll bring more than a little blush to your cheeks & quicken your pulse! Readers will love that Kelley has not only managed to bring these wonderful sex scenes to the book, but that she also manages to convey a bit of story to it as well. Part of what made the short story work so well for me is that Kelley made sure to focus on the non-sexual parts of a threesome- the fear that this might drive a wedge into a relationship as well as focusing on the trust & love necessary to make such an arrangement work.

The only thing that sort of threw me was that once in a while the story jumped to other points in time quite suddenly, making me have to flip back a few pages to see if a day had passed or if this was just a flashback. This might be because the story is quite short (only about 90 pages long), but rest assured- this doesn't hurt the story any.

I can't help but hope that Kelley gives us a story about this group again in the future. There's plenty of story potential for these three. This was a wonderfully written story that fans of hot fiction will be sure to love!

(Reader's copy provided by NetGalley)

Book Contest: Win a copy of James Patterson's Don't Blink!

Hi all!

Since the last contest went over so well, I've decided to try another contest! This time you have the chance of winning an advance reader's copy of James Patterson's new book Don't Blink!

Here's the book description:

The good

New York's Lombardo's Steak House is famous for three reasons--the menu, the clientele, and now, the gruesome murder of an infamous mob lawyer. Effortlessly, the assassin slips through the police's fingers, and his absence sparks a blaze of accusations about who ordered the hit.

The bad

Seated at a nearby table, reporter Nick Daniels is conducting a once-in-a-lifetime interview with a legendary baseball bad-boy. In the chaos, he accidentally captures a key piece of evidence that lands him in the middle of an all-out war between Italian and Russian mafia forces. NYPD captains, district attorneys, mayoral candidates, media kingpins, and one shockingly beautiful magazine editor are all pushing their own agendas--on both sides of the law.

And the dead

Back off--or die--is the clear message Nick receives as he investigates for a story of his own.Heedless, and perhaps in love with his beautiful editor, Nick endures humiliation, threats, violence, and worse in a thriller that overturns every expectation and finishes with the kind of flourish only James Patterson knows.

All you have to do to enter is post here on the book thread! It can be about anything you like!

On Friday 10/15/2010 I'll post the winner, so check back with me to see if you won!

If you have any questions, email me at geniebrownhair (at) hotmail (dot) com!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Alphascript books & Wikipedia Scam

Who doesn't like Wikipedia? Sure, sometimes you'll get people who update it with incorrect information on accident or on purpose, but generally it's a great place to go for some quick & easy information on just about any topic you'd like to know about. It's free, it's easy, & most importantly... it's free.

That's what makes the Alphascript books so horrible.

VDM Publishing is the force behind the Alphascript books, taking pages from Wikipedia & putting them into incredibly books that are not only poorly translated into book format but are also obscenely priced. Would you believe that the lowest price for one of these books is about $40? That's the lowest price, mind you. The average price is actually around $50-60, with some books ranging into the $100s. If they only charging $5-10 for the book then I probably wouldn't be as outraged, but with prices these high it's literally robbery.

All for a book that literally contains information you could grab for free off of Wikipedia. The company claims that they are able to sell these books because they're considered "free use" & that they are perfectly within their legal bounds to charge whatever they want.

Critics are already quick to point out that VDM doesn't label the books to reflect where they got the content from. Indeed, many of the amazon entries I looked at said nothing about them gaining all their info from Wikipedia. VDM's reply?

"It is pointed out in every Alphascript book that contents are Wikipedia articles. Do we now have to write in Amazon-books: “Attention! Books contains Wikipedia!”? Then other publishing houses would have to point out in their books: “Attention! Book contains nonsense!”, or: “Attention! Book has only sex-scenario!”

That's all fine & well, but if you only put it inside of the book or in a place where people can't see it until their purchase arrives & not on the amazon description spot or in the title itself, isn't that fraud in some way?

To some degree a bit of "Caveat Emptor" should be applicable, but in this case I can't help but think that the unaware consumer needs to be protected.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More Twilight coming soon. Sorta.

Want more Twilight? Well, you'll be sort of in luck. Stephenie Meyer is putting out another book. Only this one isn't going to be an actual story- it's an illustrated guide to the series that'll contain information that Twihards will know & some that they won't. (Please for all that's merciful, let Jacob ever get into a sexual relationship with a 6 year old Nessie. That's just squicky, even if she does "look like a fully matured adult".)

I might not be a Twilight fan, but I just have to admire how Meyers is able to overmarket her series, yet still have people begging for more.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book vending machines & other cool things

You've heard of RedBox, the vending machine that will let you rent or buy movies at the touch of a button & the swipe of a credit card? Now make way for a vending machine that will allow you to purchase some of the latest titles out there.

Unfortunately this fantastic creation is only available in the UK, but you have to admit- it's a great idea, right?

That's not the only neat vending machine out there. In Italy there's a pizza vending machine that will let you buy freshly baked pizza at any time of the day or night! Here's a link that shows the pizza getting made in one of the machines. The pizza looks a little dubious, I must admit.

If that's not enough for you, then how about vending machines that'll spit out gold? The sky seems to be the limit for anyone wanting to make purchases without having to interact with anyone!

Speak contest is over!

Hey all!

Thanks for responding to my blog & giving such wonderful views on censorship, banning, & what you think about all of it! You guys all made my first Banned Book Week posts so much fun!

Now for the winner:

The winner is Inspired Kathy! I really liked your post- it made me think about stuff that I hadn't really considered before!

Contact me at geniebrownhair (at) with your information & I'll mail the books out as soon as possible!

Everyone, check back soon for another giveaway! I've got a ton of ARCs here that I'd love to send out to everyone!

New Harry Potter? OK, I'm intrigued

There's been a buzz lately that J.K. Rowling will put out another Harry Potter book. This isn't really anything new, since she's been saying that she might for years. It's still exciting to see the random news story pop up, though.

The buzz started up again when Rowling told Oprah that she wouldn't mind going back to the Potterverse again & that finishing the last book really left her mourning the entire experience & that "They're all in my head still. I could definitely write an eighth, a ninth book".

I wouldn't mind seeing another book, I have to admit.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

End of Banned Book Week: What of the writers?

Hi all!

This has been a great Banned Book Week & I've really enjoyed reading everyone's opinions about book banning & what books belong on what shelves- it's been really thought provoking!

I was looking for a good news article to close out the week with & I ended up finding this article from the Christian Science Monitor that discussed what has become of some of the authors who dared to publish books that their countries or governments didn't like or allow. The article mentions people in the past but makes sure to emphasize the authors of today who are currently serving jail time for publishing their books. There's a whole list of people, all of whom are in jail for at least 3 years.

It's honestly scary to think about someone getting jailed for something that we take for granted over here in the USA. Makes me grateful for the freedoms we have!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review: 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) by The Oatmeal

Title: 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides)
Author: The Oatmeal
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: 03/01/2011
ISBN: 1449401163

Let me just say that while I've never visited The Oatmeal before, I absolutely will be doing so after reading this via NetGalley. This book was hilarious. This book collects several comics from the site, ranging from informational stuff such as grammar & punctuation to random funny comics such as "4 Reasons to Carry a Shovel at All Times". I'm posting part of the comic below because it's just that dang funny.

A twisted sense of humor is definitely needed for this book. I laughed through a good portion of this book, startling several coworkers & pretty much ensuring that I needed to purchase a copy of this when it came out. Now several will probably ask "why should I buy this when these are available already on the internet?" Because this is funny & sometimes the internet isn't around all the time.

I'll admit that not all of the comics in here are gutbustingly funny, but there's enough in here that are & if you don't laugh at least once during the book then you must need a new funnybone.

I'd most certainly recommend this to fans of stuff like Regretsy, CakeFails, or the like. This is pure comedy gold here.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)