Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Top 20 Cities that buy the most books

Amazon has come up with a list of cities in the US where it sold the most books, newspapers, and magazines.  This data is based on all sales in print and Kindle format since the beginning of the year, and is drawn from cities with over 100 thousand residents.*

 Amazon also found some rather neat details like Cambridge, Mass. topped the list of cities that ordered the most nonfiction books.Boulder, CO topped the list for most books ordered in the Cooking, Food & Wine category. And Alexandra, VA, ordered the most children’s books.*

*From e-book Newser

        1. Cambridge, Mass.         11. Knoxville, Tenn.
                   
        2. Alexandria, Va.         12. Orlando, Fla.
                   
        3. Berkeley, Calif.         13. Pittsburgh
                   
        4. Ann Arbor, Mich.         14. Washington, D.C.
                   
        5. Boulder, Colo.         15. Bellevue, Wash.
                   
        6. Miami         16. Columbia, S.C.
                   
        7. Salt Lake City         17. St. Louis, Mo.
                   
        8. Gainesville, Fla.         18. Cincinnati
                   
        9. Seattle         19. Portland, Ore.
                   
        10. Arlington, Va.         20. Atlanta

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I can’t draw too many conclusions from this list.  We all know that Harvard and MIT are in Cambridge so that would account for the nonfiction books.  I’ve never been to Boulder but when I do go I will be sure to snag some invites to dinner.  I’m staying away from Alexandria…just sayin’.

So why isn’t my home state of New York on the list?  One reason could be that its citizens were too busy shoveling snow this past winter to have any time to read.  This also may account for the big sales in Florida since so many New Yorkers migrated there last winter and had plenty of time to buy books.  I have personally done my part in putting both NY and FL on the list but obviously my efforts only worked for Florida.  I promise to do better for NY this year.  I know Amazon will appreciate my efforts.

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Retro Review: Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

Retro Review: A look back at books that continue to delight even though they were published several years ago.


Title: Mr. Perfect
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Author: Linda Howard
Publisher: Pocket Books 2000
Source: Purchase
Rating: 4
Sexy rating: 5
Description from Amazon.com:
Jaine Bright and three close friends share dinner one night and during casual conversation, create a list of qualifications for the perfect man–some logical, some hilariously funny, some racy. Within days, their tongue-in-cheek wish list of attributes for Mr. Perfect has been leaked to the press and the resultant publicity is overwhelming. Coworkers, TV crews, and reporters barrage the quartet with comments and criticism.

As if Jaine doesn’t have enough to cope with, she has a new neighbor who she suspects is a criminal. She’s relieved to learn that her neighbor is really an undercover cop, but she’s still wary–because smart, sexy Sam Donovan handles her sharp witticisms with easy humor, and Jaine suspects that he may threaten her heart. What Jaine doesn’t know is that she’s about to need Sam desperately for something other than romance because her circle of friends is in big trouble. Unfortunately, that list of qualifications for Mr. Perfect has touched off a madman’s rage. All of their lives are threatened and some of them are going to die, maybe all of them, if Sam can’t stop the unknown killer.
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To say I am a fan of Linda Howard would be a gross understatement. I was introduced to this author by blogger Rebecca of Dirty Sexy Books and I immediately read Howard’s entire back list. She writes the most delightful Romantic Suspense but none of her other books have the humor that I find in Mr. Perfect. Those who are familiar with my reviews know I abhor silly humor but I adore witty, intelligent humor. I believe there is a true distinction between the two. This is my second read of this book and I loved it like it was the first time.

Jaine and Sam are oil and water in the beginning of this story. That lasts only until Sam cleans up and Jaine sees him naked through his kitchen window. Yes, this is strong on the sexy. Perhaps there should be a warning: Have a fan at hand!

There is a devious predator that has targeted Jaine and her friends. He means business and Jaine’s only protection is Detective Sam. (let me tell ya, Det. Sam can protect moi any day. Oh, yeah… this is only a novel. Where’s that fan?) Of course he does but capturing the murderer is tough work.

You will like this book and I’m hoping you laugh out loud at the early encounters of Jaine and Sam. You may shiver at the encounters of the madman.

Is this my very favorite Howard book? No, those honors go to CRY NO MORE and KILL AND TELL.

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Review- Wild Desire by Lori Brighton

Title: Wild Desire ( Book 2 in the Wild series)

Genre: Historical Romance/Adventure/fantasy

Author: Lori Brighton

Publisher: Zebra Books/Kensington Pub. Corp./2011

Source: Kindle free book

Rating: 4 stars

Sexy rating: 5

Description:

Bea  lived a cloistered life with her grandmother in a Scotish Castle and longed for adventure.   When cousin Leo and his wife Ella suggested she travel with them to India Bea jumped at the chance.   All was well until they met up in India with Ella’s cousin , Colin.  A riot broke out and Bea and Colin were separated from Leo and Ella but knew to try and make their way to Bombay where they would reunite.  Colin was keeping a secret from Bea but told her he needed to find a statue so side trips were taken along the route.  Bea got more adventure than she had bargained for but was falling in love with Colin along the way.

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This was a delight to read.  It had me turning pages and losing sleep.  I love genre bending books and this is one of those; part Historical Romance, part Adventure book, part Fantasy.  It was an “Indiana Jones” with some sexy, hot scenes thrown in.  Lots of gasping cliff hanging, no, not that kind, literal cliff hanging, and temple plundering and bad guys with glowing green eyes.

Our hero, Colin, is hunky, gorgeous, morally righteous and really drool worthy.  His ability to bear up with blue balls for far too long is not commendable when the heroine is so absolutely willing. Our heroine, Bea, is, of course, beautiful, but a bit too naïve at times for my taste.  After seeing the hero perform certain tasks time and again it wears thin that she still doesn’t believe he can do the tasks.  I tend to like my heroines a bit more mature in their outlook but Bea does come a long way toward maturity by the end of the book.  Kudos to the author for developing this character into a true heroine.  But any faults take a back seat to the thrilling adventure and do or die action.

This was a great read and I highly recommend it.

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I have yet to read Lori’s first book in this series, Wild Heart, but it is on my wish list. 

(Images in this post from Amazon.com)

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Good Bye To Oprah and Her Bookclub

Good Bye, Oprah!  Well, good-bye from the ABC network  and her book club.  We have heard she will appear on her own cable/network channel.  I’m not really up on that current news.  However, I did come across Oprah’s top ten bestselling books from her book club first started in 1996. 

From the L.A. Times:  Oprah says it (the book club) might just have a future. “I’m going to try to develop a show for books and authors,” she told USA Today. The show, of course, would be on OWN, Oprah’s new television network.

I’ve read a few of her book club selections over the years but stopped early on because they were so damn depressing.  In the beginning I thought it was my lack of sophistication that kept me from liking what Oprah reads but then I rationalized that I’m just not that into gloom.  That’s strange since I’ve really liked some dystopian novels, Hunger Games comes to mind.  But since Hunger Games is a book written for “Young Adults” perhaps it is saying my taste is immature.  Enough of the self-deprecating analysis!!

The only book on this list I have read is Love In The Time of Cholera.  I confess, it was so long ago I don’t remember a thing about it.  I probably didn’t like it for all the above mentioned reasons but that’s just a guess. 

Have you read any of these on the list below?  If yes, did you love it, like it, hate it?  If you haven’t read any, then why not? I really would like your response to these lauded books.  Is there one that stands out and I should pack away my prejudice to read?  Should I reread “Cholera”?  (I do have Follett’s novel sitting in my TBR pile. )

For the entire list of Oprah Book Club books go to Oprah .com. 

Oprah’s top ten bestselling book club books:

RELEASE TITLE AUTHOR OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB EDITION ISBN UNIT SALES TO DATE
January 2005 A New Earth Eckhart Tolle 9780452289963 3,370,000
September 2005 A Million Little Pieces James Frey 9780307276902 2,695,500
January 2006 Night Elie Wiesel 9780374500016 2,021,000
March 2007 The Road Cormac McCarthy 9780307387899 1,385,000
January 2001 We Were the Mulvaneys Joyce Carol Oates 9780452282827 1,348,000
June 2003 East of Eden John Steinbeck 9780142004234 1,314,000
November 2007 The Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett 9780451225245 1,109,000
October 2007 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez 9780307389732 817,000
March 2001 Icy Sparks Gwyn Hyman Rubio 9780142000205 794,000
October 2008 The Story of Edgar Sawtelle David Wroblewski 9780061768064 770,000

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Review- Blood and Ice by Lois Gresh

Title: Blood and Ice

Genre: Horror/Fantasy

Author: Lois Gresh

Publisher: Elder Signs Press, 12/2010

Source: purchase

Rating: 3-stars

Sexy rating: 1

Back of the book description:

As alien vampires that have slept for centuries in Antarctica begin awakening and moving to the Mediterranean, Chloe Desmarais finds that living with her abusive family is worse than the cold embrace of these new icy-fanged lovers. On the cusp of either running away from the city in which she grew up or staying to help herself and her few remaining friends, Chloe meets a vampire who is not like the rest. Merging science with horror, this fast-paced novel is sure to appeal to fans of vampires and science fiction.

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This is most definitely a horror novel.  I rarely if ever read this genre because I’m a wimpy romantic girl.

So, Deetda, why did you feel you had to read this book? 

Wel-l-l, because I won a contest and Lois Gresh put my name in the book as a character.  Now that was incentive enough but after I bought the book back in January I quickly looked for my character found her and then just left the book sitting there on my coffee table.  I would pick it up, thumb through and put it back.  This went on until last week.  I’m so glad I got over my hesitation because although I didn’t love it I was certainly enthralled with the story.

Fernando the alien vampire along with his three comrades are tortured vampires from space.  They don’t know why they are on earth or even that they are vampires for their first one hundred years in Antarctica.  But in their efforts to chase away the humans at a scientific station they discover bloodlust and then look out world.  Fernando struggles with a conscience but one of his buddies takes the high road and the other two succumb to total bloodlust.

This author has an amazing imagination.  Her world is our world in the year2015 with the addition of the ripening and multiplication of vampires.  Gresh is adept at showing the emotional conflict of her characters, but I felt the emotions of the two humans involved with Fernando needed more development.  We understand both in their initial attraction but they go from zero to 100 with just a couple of sips from the vampire. I just needed more of them toward the end. The other humans also needed more input in the plot. 

This is not your sexy-romantic vampire book.  This is true horror with lots of violent bloody scenes.  We are not entranced by the characters we are terrorized by them.  This is a story of how vampires are born into our world and the horror that is unleashed and the horror yet to be unleashed.

As much as I was sucked into the story and setting I did find the dialog to be stiff at times. 

Here are some lies, um-m lines, about my namesake, Deetda:

“His girlfriend, Deetda, was the ditz who lived to get high, sex it up with Pierre, and do nothing in life.”

“Deetda laughed.  Her black hair matted to her head.  Heavy mascara and eyeliner circled her hard brown eyes.  She was nondescript, really, just another ordinary girl, too young and wearing too little”

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A few of my Bookmarks

Why can’t I find any bookmarks?  I know I have many but they are never where I want them when I need them.  Off I go on a household quest.  Sure enough there are bookmarks everywhere.  I gathered them together with the intention of keeping them in a handy drawer so that I won’t have to run around searching.  Since they were gathered I thought I’d take a few pics and reminisce a bit.

These are gifts from friends and relatives.  Some are handmade, all are beautiful.  I have to say I really love those book thongs.  They don’t slide out as easily as some of those shiny cardstock ones. my newest one, the green mitten, was made by a new Florida friend-it is felt on a hair clip.  So clever! It also has my name embroidered. 

These are treasures from dear little people in my life. Again I love the handmade ones.

These are from favorite authors. 

And I have some from places I’ve visited. top left and clockwise-  North Carolina retreat with the Lavendar Hill Gang, Mona from Italy, the blue one is from Oxford University in England the next one also, The Origami lady from the Appleton Museum in Ocala FL,The one with a blue dot is on a hologram from the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the one below the last is the Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park, London.

 Do you have bookmarks that are special to you?  Maybe one or maybe many?  Tell me about it or them.

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Review- Libertine’s Kiss by Judith James

Title:  Libertine’s Kiss

Genre:  Historical Romance

Author: Judith James

Publisher: HQN 2010

Source: purchase

Rating: 4.5- 5

Sexy rating: 5

Synopsis from author’s website:

A Restoration era love story inspired by the character of the Earl of Rochester, King Charles II’s court poet who was rumored to be the model for Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff. William de Veres, the handsome son of a hard-drinking cavalier was abandoned at an early age to a brutal school system and a predatory and abusive tutor. He soon discovers the escapes of poetry, literature, alcohol and sex, and the defenses of a sharp sword and lacerating wit. As a titanic struggle erupts between parliament and king, William takes up arms in the Royalist cause and pursued by Cromwell’s men finds himself seeking shelter from a sober young Puritan woman in a cottage deep in the woods.

The Civil war has cost the once high spirited Elizabeth Walters her best friend and her father, leaving her unprotected and alone. She flees an unwanted marriage, seeking safe haven, but what she finds there is something she never expected. Despite William’s gratitude and promise to aid her, Elizabeth never expects to see him again, but the Restoration of Charles II to his throne will bring her to the attention of both William and the king.

Can a promise long forgotten and a friendship forged in the past help two lonely people find each other and themselves? Can a debauched court poet and notorious libertine convince the wary Elizabeth he is capable of love?

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Every now and then someone will recommend a book that renews my faith in the Historical Romance genre.  There is nothing flighty or silly about this book.  It is a realistic and deeply sensual romance. 

Judith James brings us into the 17th century, drops us off and lets us live right alongside of her fascinating characters.  Yes, it was transporting.  James’ beautiful prose and lush story telling bring us up close to heart pounding action and breath taking romance.  The court of Charles II is portrayed in all its decadence, hedonism and political maneuvering.   Court poet, William de Veres, is a man tortured by his past.  Lizzy Walters  is a woman trying to survive in extremely difficult times.  Some of  the poetry quoted is that of John Wolcot, Earl of Rochester, court poet to Charles II, the real life libertine.

You will find it difficult to put this book aside so settle in for a bit of traveling back 500 years.  Let your mind infuse with the life and times of Restoration England.

There is a movie portrayal of The Earl of Rochester called “The Libertine” starring Johnny Depp.

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Review- Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead Reckoning

Genre: Urban Fantasy/PNR

Author: Charlaine Harris

Publisher: Penguin Group 2011

Source: Purchase

Rating: 3

Sexy rating: 5

Sandra Pelt is back again, threatening Sookie.  Eric and Sookie are “Vampire Married”.  Sam is having financial problems with the bar. Cousin Hunter is going to start school soon.  Tara is having twins.  Bill is…well… just Bill.  Pam is in love but miserable.   Regent Vampire, Victor is causing everyone grief.  Amelia comes to help Sookie but causes Sookie some trouble.  Fae relatives Dermot and Claude move into Sookie’s house but she’s not trusting them. Alcide wakes up in Sookie’s bed. That’s the basic synopsis of this the eleventh book in the Sookie Stackhouse Series, Dead Reckoning, by Charlaine Harris. 

I have been a faithful follower of the series and I look forward to each new book.  The past few books have just not been as interesting to me as this series was in the beginning but I will continue to the series end, book thirteen.  I have always enjoyed Sookie’s que sera sera attitude and her ability to be one of those heroine’s who doesn’t fold at the sign of trouble.  I have been Team Eric since book four or maybe earlier.

Dead Reckoning is not my favorite in the series but I do see Sookie heading in a different direction.  Harris is indicating that Sookie has had about enough of the paranormals and longs for a life away from them or at least all the violence that accompanies them.  The Fangtasia vampires are less romantic than previous portrayals, especially Eric who for all his declarations of love doesn’t act like it.   For the die-hard romantic in me, the romance in this installment just did not grab me.  We get more background about Gran and Sookie’s Fae Grandfather.  Harris is moving the story along.   The story hints at changes to come.   

I really can’t recommend this read to those who have not started this series from the beginning. There are many characters brought forth from the previous books.   If you are new, then do start with book 1 Dead Until Dark, which I highly recommend.   To those already into the series then you, like me will read this one just to keep up. It was an okay read.  I still long for something really new for Sookie.

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Pro Reviewers vs Amateurs

 At PEN World Voices Festival on April 27 (the event was cosponsored by the National Book Critics Circle). On hand were American critics Morris Dickstein and Cynthia Ozick among others.

 Morris Dickstein, Professional Critic and Professor of English, “The professional reviewer, who has a literary identity, who had to meet some editor’s exacting standard, has effectively been replaced by the Amazon reviewer, the paying customer, at times ingenious, assiduous, and highly motivated, more often banal, obtuse, and blankly opinionated,”

Ozick, a novelist and essayist , made what she called the “disheartening” case that the most committed American readers are the Amazon customer reviewers. “Not only are they willing to buy books consistently, not as a now-and-then event; they also are intent on evaluating them in a public way, and they devote time and effort to fashioning a response. In short, they are serious about the meaning and effect of books, exactly what we would call a literary point of view.”

 Read the full article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-12/the-future-of-book-reviews-critics-versus-amazon-reviewers/#

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 So what does this mean to an amateur reviewer like me.  Well….I guess it means that I irritate the professionals a tad.  It probably means that they think I have no business calling my opinions “reviews”.  Somehow I just can’t get worked up about it. 

 Am I “banal and obtuse”? Perhaps.   I’d rather think I was ingenious and assiduous and at least moderately motivated. 🙂   Do I still think my opinion is worth the read? Hell yes!

 I am an avid reader so I figure my contribution is to let those readers, who share my proclivities, know what I think of a particular read.  Maybe in my naiveté I missed the allegory or even the well hidden theme of the book, but I’m betting that most genre readers are not going to fault me for those oversights.  They just want to know if I resent the money I paid or if I felt it was worth skipping the Starbucks coffee to buy this book.  They want to know if they should schedule this read for a Friday night so they can sleep-in on Saturday morning.  They want to know if the book is uplifting or depressing, violent or sweet, sexy or not.

Yes, my reviews are “opinions” as are all reviews whether by amateurs or pros.  I don’t think for a minute that amateur reviewers will infringe on professional literary critics.  Usually we are talking about different things.  Anyone who reads Amazon reviews for deep insight might just be missing the point of those reviews.

The Pros are going to have to make room for us amateurs.  Times they are a changing and all those ensconced in the “good ole days” are going to feel displaced.  This is how it has always been.  Ya think Henry Ford didn’t get flack from the horse breeders?

What do you think?

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Review-A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E Harkness

Title: A Discovery of Witches

Genre: PNR/fantasy

Author: Deborah E. Harkness

Publisher: Viking Adult, 2011

Source: Kindle purchase

Rating: 3-stars

Sexy rating: 3-4

From Publisher’s Weekly:

In Harkness’s lively debut, witches, vampires, and demons outnumber humans at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, where witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her. Against all occult social propriety, Bishop turns for protection to tall, dark, bloodsucking man-about-town Clairmont. Their research raises questions of evolution and extinction among the living dead, and their romance awakens centuries-old enmities. Harkness imagines a crowded universe where normal and paranormal creatures observe a tenuous peace. “Magic is desire made real,” Bishop says after both her desire and magical prowess exceed her expectations.

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If a book doesn’t grab me by page 100 then I usually just set it aside. This book was recommended by a friend and I thought in deference to her I would continue on. I should have just trusted my first gut instinct. Although the premise is an interesting one, the book never got off the ground and toward the end it kind of stagnated even more. The author threw in more characters at the end and they really added nothing to the plot, I kept waiting for an explanation. The romance was not hot, it barely simmered. At least a hot make out session was in order. I have so many questions about the ending that I’m sure will be alluded to, even if not answered, in the next book.

On the plus side; the author obviously researched places such as Oxford University and the hierarchy of that institution, the living areas and the library. All of which I found interesting. I also enjoyed the fantasy of the witches’ house. It was another character in the story.

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