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The alter-ego of a mild-mannered bookseller, Bookseller Chick (known to those who love and hate her as BS Chick) fights for literacy, freedom, originality, and a paycheck in the corporate confines of a retail book chain.
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26. Fish like Soylent Green too...

If only this were true:

From the last frame of this wonderful Question Content comic.

Or is it? Yes, Hipsters, come to Portland. Find out what it is all about.

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27. So rides the Goblin Rider in the night...

The Hollow by Jessica Verday:


When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special.

Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her—one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.
Summary provided by GoodReads.

Abbey’s in denial. Her best friend has been missing for months, believed to have drowned in the river, but despite the evidence and the funeral service Abbey clings to the idea Kristen might still be alive. The mysterious boy who appears at the memorial offers her something to focus on beyond where Kristen could possibly be. Caspian seems to understand her floundering and shares her love of the Sleepy Hollow cemetery where Washington Irving was buried. And with that understanding comes a possible romance. Good thing something is going her way because her status as the best friend of the girl “who may have committed suicide” has left her ostracized at school, and nightmares keep plaguing her sleep. Caspian, the cemetery and her perfume making are the only things keeping her sane.

Or are they? Because suddenly Caspian’s keeping secrets, a chance discovery of Kristen’s diary reveals her friend’s second life with her own mysterious boy, and there’s a new caretaker at Washington Irving’s grave.

I picked up Jessica Verday’s first book after reading about the Wicked Pretty Things debacle (you can find a round up of links here). I wanted to throw some support behind her and also check out the writer who had started it all. What I found in The Hollow was a very interesting premise, but a story I kept waiting to move faster. Setting her story in the town of Sleepy Hollow, New York, Verday weaves the Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with the tale of Abbey, Caspian, and Kristen. A quote from the original story heads each chapter, and the town as a whole works to make Washington Irving and Sleepy Hollow an acknowledged part of their lives and tourism trade. As the child of City Council members, Abbey relates the various Sleepy Hollow events as she narrates her life in the months of after Kristen’s disappearance. This narrative follows a long, winding path of high school events, Caspian’s courting, and edges the mystery behind Kristen’s death to build up to a cliff hanger of sorts for Abbey’s mental state and Caspian’s secrets.

As the first book in a trilogy The Hollow successfully sets the scene for the rest of the series, and acts as one third of the overall story, but on its own I didn’t feel that it answered enough questions in relation to the many plot thre

1 Comments on So rides the Goblin Rider in the night..., last added: 5/6/2011
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28. Nothing Dumb about it

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John:


The Challenge:
Piper has one month to get a paying gig for Dumb—the hottest new rock band in school.

The Deal:
If she does it, she'll become manager of the band and get her share of the profits, which she desperately needs since her parents raided her college fund.

The Catch:
Managing one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl who is ready to beat her up. And doing it all when she's deaf. With growing self-confidence, an unexpected romance, and a new understanding of her family's decision to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, Piper just may discover her own inner rock star.

Piper has reached her breaking point – her brother is sneaking around and her parents have used her college fund to pay for her sister’s cochlear implants without even telling her. It’s no wonder that the band Dumb’s “unscheduled performance on the school steps first thing Monday morning” prompts a primal scream. Sure, she may not be able to really hear the music, but her deafness doesn’t keep her from feeling the vibrations and feeling traveling through the ground. So when the lead singer challenges her to act as their manager, she sees it both as a chance to earn some money and to prove that she can’t do any worse than a group that has downgraded their collective intelligence with their name. Before she knows it, she’s shepherding band members to practice and recording sessions, guiding their online presence and helping to create original songs.

But being the manager of a rock band isn’t all sunshine and roses. She’s got to deal with a newbie who’s more groupie than guitarist, member infighting and then there are those mysterious emails urging her to explore the Seattle’s rock heritage. Can Dumb make it to an actual performance or will they fall apart? And will Piper ever figure out how to live with her family’s, and her own, decisions?

Antony John creates one kick-ass main character in Piper. This is not a story about a deaf girl who manages a rock band. This is a story about a high school girl who manages a rock band and who also happens to be deaf. It’s not a handicap, but a strength she uses to read others, catch people unaware and gain Dumb the recognition it just might deserve. In coming to terms with what it means to be the manager of a rock group, she finds the strength to stand up for herself and her friends, as well as the ability to understand what it means to be deaf in her family.

Cheers to Antony Johns for creating a family (and the friends that become family) of a characters as well rounded as Piper’s. Motivations make sense. We’re not just looking at evil parents and wicked siblings, but people who have strengths and faults and are just trying to make their way. Cheers also for taking the Kallie/Tash dynamic and taking it from girl-on-girl hate to true understanding. Yeah, it helped that they had a common enemy to unite them, but what started out with that blossomed into a true friendship.

Highly, highly, highly recommended for teens and adults alike. Dumb will teach you about Seattle, rock and roll and what it takes to be a girl in high school (whether or not you happen to be deaf).

You can purchase Five Flavors of Dumb from these fine retailers: Powells, Amazon, 1 Comments on Nothing Dumb about it, last added: 5/5/2011
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29. Random Recipes: Maple Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Maple Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Original (practically verbatim) recipe from Real Simple:

Serves 4| Hands-On Time: 15m | Total Time: 1hr 40m

Ingredients

• 1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
• 2 large shallots cut into 1-inch wedges
• 2 small sweet potatoes (or nicely colored yams), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 3 tablespoons maple syrup
• 6 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

1. Heat oven to 400° F.

2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Arrange the chicken, onion, and sweet potatoes in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Drizzle the oil over the chicken and vegetables and season with the salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Drizzle with the maple syrup and top with the sprigs of thyme.

3. Roast, stirring the vegetables once half way through, until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Perfect for a cold rainy day, or when it decides to hail in the middle of April.

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30. In honor of the Royal wedding...

Reblogged from the Pages Worth Remembering tumblr
Because that will be much more fun than watching the ceremony and you know it :)

2 Comments on In honor of the Royal wedding..., last added: 5/28/2011
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31. Hear the Ghost Lights Chime...

Because every story must start somewhere, Briony, of Franny Billingsley’s Chime, starts hers with this:

If Eldric were to tell the story, he’d likely begin with himself. That’s where proper stories begin, don’t they, when the handsome stranger arrives and everything goes wrong?


But this isn’t a proper story, and I’m telling you, I ought to be hanged.

And so begins the story of Briony the Witch, who can hear and see the Old Ones in the swamp; Briony the deceitful, who damaged her sister’s mind and burnt down the library; Briony the poisonous vine, who let her stepmother die.

Just outside of London, Briony lives in Swampsea with her distant Reverend father and her mentally damaged sister. In this fantastical world, the inventions of the early 20th century – railways, motorcars and gaslights – are still trying to find their way into a small town where the swamp is haunted by the Old Ones, and witches are hanged by the neck until they are dead. Bad news for Briony who has been hiding her wicked state and wickeder deeds behind a mask of bland amusement and a soul filled with self hate. Especially now that the railway is coming, along with plans to drain the swamp, something the Old Ones will fight with every weapon they have.

And that weapon happens to be the only girl who can hear them.

With the railway come Eldric, the fidgety boy-man with the lion eyes who sees everything that Briony keeps hidden and asks questions of those things she knows to be facts.

In the town of Swampsea Franny Billingsley creates a lush, decaying world inhabited with one of the barbed characters I have read in a very long time. Briony hates herself for the wrongs she believes she has committed and for being a being she perceives to be sinful, truly hates herself. This is not an emo play for attention; she prides herself on never letting anyone see what is going on, but a deep hatred of self. Yet at the same time, she has this prickly sense of pride and humor that wind their way through her narration. This self loathing that Briony feels will make it hard for some readers to connect with her – I admit that I find it eye opening, and after a few pages momentarily wondered what I’d gotten myself into – but once you do connect, she is one of the most interesting characters I’ve read in quite sometime. Briony is a puzzle – to herself and to others – and it takes Eldric’s arrival and his curiosity to make her question some of the pieces she’s already put in place.

It is because Briony is so inwardly focused on examining the pieces that Eldric may come across as a bit of a cipher. His character is there, but it’s doled out in bits and pieces as he questions and reconstructs our heroine. It is his arrival that allows Briony to escape from the monotony and preconceptions that have clouded her mind. It is his support that allows Briony to tell us the true stories…or at least as true as she can see them.

Chime is making its way on to many “Best of” lists and the awards are well deserved. Franny Billingsley has created a truly unique world filled with mystery and characters that capture you long after you stop reading. With its slightly antiquated language and self loathing main character, though, I know it won’t appeal to all readers. This is not an easy read, but if you stick with it, I believe you’ll find that it is a wonderful one. Highly recommended.

You can purchase Chime from these fine retailers: 4 Comments on Hear the Ghost Lights Chime..., last added: 4/28/2011
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32. Random Recipes: Cheater Pot Pie


Cheater Pot Pie

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 package of chicken breasts
  • ½ Onion diced
  • 1 to 2 leeks halved and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks diced
  • 1 bag Country style Potatoes
  • 3 to 4 carrots cleaned and chopped
  • Mushrooms (I use the pre-sliced baby bellas)
  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 12 to 18 ounces of Potato Leek soup (I use the Imagine low sodium – comes in a box)
  • 1 bag pre-shredded Tillamook Cheddar Cheese (I like sharp)
  • 2 sheets (one package) Pepperidge Farms Pastry Sheets
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Spices to taste: salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, whatever sounds

In one pan, cook up the chicken breasts in a light drizzle of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste (add thyme for additional flavor if you so desire). When the chicken is fully cooked, remove from heat and shred or chop it up into small pieces.

In another pan, sauté the potatoes and carrots in olive oil until they are almost fully cooked, then add the onions, leeks, celery, garlic, mushrooms. Again, salt, pepper, or add herbs to taste (I added thyme, marjoram and a light dusting of a mixed Italian herb). When finished, toss in the fully cooked chicken and mix together.

Roll out the Pepperidge Farm sheets. Layer the first sheet in the pie tin so that the extra dough hangs off the sides, then lay day a layer of shredded cheese (I like cheese so I added almost half the bag). Pour in the veggies and chicken mix, and then add ¼ of the remaining package to the top. Pour the potato leek soup over this and then tap/shake the pie tin gentle to help it settle throughout.

Now sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top because you can never have too much.

Wet the rim of the pie tin crust and then cover with the remaining sheet of dough. Cut the excess off so that only about an inch (or inch and a half) remains hanging over the edge of the tin. Rolls and pinch this up to create the pretty crust edge.  Create a vent in the top of the pie (I use a knife to cut in a decorative S). Brush the melted butter on to the pie top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes (you will probably need to cover the pie with tin foil for the last 15 minutes to prevent burning).

Allow to cool for 10 minutes at least before serving.

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33. The Day the Saucers Came...for National Poetry Month

A poem by Neil Gaiman:

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34. Enchanting to meet you...

From the website/jacket cover for Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst:

A story about getting into college. You know, taking the campus tour, talking to the gargoyles, flirting with the were-tigers, riding the dragons...

While visiting the campus of Princeton University, 16-year-old Lily discovers a secret gate to a magical realm and must race against time to save herself, her world, and any hope she has of college admission.


It’s Class Reunion weekend at Princeton and Lily’s grandfather has invited Lily and her mother along for the first time. Finally it’s a chance for Lily to visit the university of her admission dreams and to have a break from being the child of a woman who regularly experiences “brain hiccups” – hiccups that have obscured her mind so completely that she cannot even remember her marriage to, or the subsequent death of, Lily’s father.

With their arrival on campus, grandfather reveals that this is not just a weekend away, but Lily’s chance to win her way into Princeton. To do so she must pass the test set forth by his fellow members of the Vineyard club. Simple really, just a scavenger hunt. And if she fails? Well, she’s still welcome to apply through admissions. A win-win situation, right?

But then the boy with the tiger striped hair shows up and the campus gargoyles start moving and talking. Her mom’s remaining sanity is fast depleting and if Lily wants to keep her focused on the here and now, then she’s got to find this Ivy Key. But that’s kind of hard to do when she might be experiencing “brain hiccups” of her own.

I’ve previously read Sarah Beth Durst’s Wild series – Into the Wild and Out of the Wild – and enjoyed her ability to take the fairytales that Disney taught us and twist them back to their darker origins. She does this even while acknowledging the greater truth: in real life heroes can often be villains and villains can sometimes save the day. It all depends on who is telling the story.

As with the Wild series, Durst uses pre-existing mythological creatures – fairies, dryads, were-animals, and gargoyles – but adds them to the world and mythology many of us would not be familiar with: the history and architecture of Princeton. The gates and gargoyles of Princeton animate to help guide Lily through her adventures and into other worlds, while working within the confines of established Princeton lore. This gives a rather unique spin on the creatures that inhabit much of the Young Adult literature being written today. (Gargoyles do not get nearly enough love if you ask me.)

When I first heard about Enchanted Ivy, I thought that this would be aimed at an older (read YA) audience. While Lily is definitely older than Julie from the Wild series, in some ways she reads the same age. Part of this is due, I’m sure, to the isolation Lily experiences having a mother known for her eccentricities and moments of crazy. What small glimpses we are given of Lily’s pre-Princeton weekend life, are of a girl who is shunned by the other students and spends her non-school hours taking care of her mother. This has caused her to miss out on many benchmarks that other high school students in their Junior year would have experienced. Still, given that she has been taking care of her mother, I didn’t expect her to read as young as she did. Especially since she too worries about suffering from her mo

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35. Random Recipes: Baked Risotto

Here's the deal, I'm not the world's greatest cook (nor do I pretend to be), but I do enjoy cooking. And I enjoy sharing the recipes that work out. Lately though, I never have them on hand to share with someone at work when I want to, so I'm going to post them here. Now all I need is access to the internet.

The recipe below was adapted from the Baked Rissoto recipe from Williams-Sonoma. You can find the original here.


Baked Risotto

Serves 4 to 6| Hands-On Time: 30m | Total Time: 50m

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 ½ cups chicken broth (warmed – but only if you have time)
  • ½ - 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 Tbs. cold salted butter, cut into 6 pieces  

Possible Vegetable Combinations

  • 1 – 2 cups mushrooms
  • 2 cups tomatoes diced (recommend a mix of yellow and red for color and flavor)
Or
  • 1 ½ lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 2 leeks, white and light green portions halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

Or
  • Diced up pre-roasted Squash (this is the newest version of this, so you kind of have to wing it if you want to go the Squash route. I would suggest using delicata squash you've cut into rounds and roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes)

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
    2. Choose which vegetable combo you are going to enjoy:
      1. If leeks and asparagus: In 3 ½ qt. wide Dutch oven over medium heat warm 2 Tbs. oil. Add leeks (and onion); cook, stirring occasionally, until soft (about 8 minutes.) Add garlic, thyme and salt; cook 1 minute.
      2. If mushrooms and tomatoes: In 3 ½ qt. wide Dutch oven over medium heat warm 2 Tbs. oil. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft (about 8 minutes.) Add garlic and salt; cook 1 minute. Add rice; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, 2-3 minutes.
    3. Add rice; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, 2-3 minutes.
    4. Add wine; cook 1 minute.
    5. Stir in 3 cups broth, increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer.
    6. Cover; bake, stirring once halfway through, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 25-30 m

      1 Comments on Random Recipes: Baked Risotto, last added: 4/16/2011
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    36. Things to Know. Links for Later...

    Originally from Without Romance, Life Is..., reblogged from Pages Worth Remembering, a tumblr worth checking out.

    From the Smithsonian by way of Dear Author, I want this book when it finally comes out...whenever that is (No one seems to have it listed as existing): Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America.

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    37. Free Young Adult Novels...for as long as they last

    Easily in the top five reasons people come here from Google is Free Young Adult Novels, so here you go. Leila from Bookshelves of Doom let her readers know that Amazon is giving away Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Aprilynne Pike's Wings.

    From the free Kindle version's product description for 13 Little Blue Envelopes:

    Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

    The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

    Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

    Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

    I loved 13 Little Blue Envelopes enough when I read it several years ago that I went out and bought it. It's sitting in the YA section of my bookshelves as we speak. Ginny, despite what she thinks, has more guts than I will ever have when it comes to taking off by myself, and Maureen knows how to write a great character to carry you alone for the ride. When I found out that the followup, The Last Little Blue Envelope, will be available on April 26th in hardcover and ebook, I even made a note on my calendar.

    While I can't vouch for Wings because I haven't read it, apparently the publisher is aiming for the Twilight* set. From the product description:

    For a limited time, the book that Twilight Saga author Stephanie Meyer lauded as "a remarkable debut" is available for free.
    Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words. Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings. In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.
    Apparently its about Fairies? Let me know if they're evil (I like 'em evil) and I'll check it out. Illusions, the co

    0 Comments on Free Young Adult Novels...for as long as they last as of 4/12/2011 8:04:00 PM
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    38. Oh Vera, I'd never ignore you

    From the cover copy of Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King:

    ---Is it okay to hate a dead kid?
    ---Even if I loved him once?
    ---Even if he was my best friend?
    ---Is it okay to hate him for being dead?

    Eighteen-year-old Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

    So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, or even the police. But will she emerge and clear his name? Does she even want to?

    An edgy, gripping story, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising

    This is the story of more than Vera Dietz. This is the story of Vera and Charlie – their friendship, his death, and the death of their friendship. This is the story of Vera and her father, Ken, and Vera’s mother. This is a story of past mistakes driving future actions, children fearing to follow in their parents’ footsteps, trying to be invisible and trying to live.

    Oh, and this is a story about a Pagoda, inanimate though it may be, that watches over Vera, Charlie, Ken and the town.

    Vera Dietz is a high school senior and full time Pizza Delivery Technician who’s desperately trying to not wind up a pregnant teenage stripper (her mother’s early path). She’s trying to drink through the grief and forget her best friend Charlie’s death and all the pain and confusion that came before and after.

    Of course, this would be easier if he would just stop haunting her, but then so would a lot of things.

    A.S. King has the amazing ability to create amazingly three-dimensional characters that capture the beauty of living even as they suffer the pain and the loneliness of being left behind. Vera’s wry humor in the face of her sorrow and the mystery and destruction that was Charlie is matched by her father’s journey to grow from his past, recover from his divorce, and raise the best daughter possible.

    I knew that A.S. King could write wonderful prose and interesting characters thanks to her previous novel The Dust of 100 Dogs, but with Vera she captured the grieving process and my heart.

    Recommended for adults and teens alike, this book definitely deserved to be a Michael L. Printz Honor Book for 2011.

    You can purchase Please Ignore Vera Dietz from these fine retailers: Powells, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Your Local Indie, or you can pick it up at your local library.


    Book Source: I picked this up at the fantastic branch of my local library. My library rocks! Display Comments Add a Comment
    39. Check this out




    Ebooks have loads of demerits, especially as they are marketed to libraries. They are sold at full price, while print editions generally go at a hefty discount to reflect libraries' volume purchasing. They can only be read with certain, proprietary readers, something analogous to insisting that the libraries require patrons to read their books by the light of one preferred manufacturer's lightbulb. They can't be sold on as a library discard once the library no longer needs them for the collection...

    Of course ebooks don't wear out. Programming them to self-destruct after 26 checkouts is tantamount to asking librarians to embrace entropy. Anyone who thinks that this is going to happen has never spent any time with a librarian.



    “And why do we need libraries?” some might ask. I think that Courtney Milan puts it best:



    Libraries are the future of reading. When the economy is down, we need to make it easier for people to buy and read books for free, not harder. It is stupid to sacrifice tomorrow’s book buyers for today’s dollars, especially when it’s obvious that the source in question doesn’t have any more dollars to give you.



    I want this to be more than me quoting other people, but unfortunately my time is short. So here are the facts as they relate to me (as that’s what it’s all about). In the last year I have checked out 29 paper books from the library, and at least 10 ebooks (I can’t find a quick way to export my data for the ebooks). For the sake of argument, we'll pretend that the format of the books don't matter, although I would prefer ebooks because my reader is much lighter than most novels. So, of those 39 books, 30 of those were new to me authors. That means 76% of those books were the first time I’d read these authors.


    Did I like them all? No, but I tried them. And of the whopping nine remaining books, five were by authors from that original list. In most cases these were books that were part of the series. Four are part of ongoing series. Of those four, I dropped two due to a dislike of how the second book played out.* The remaining two?


    I want them. I want them now – quite possibly enough to buy the whole series to own once they come out.


    Of these 39 books I’ve recommended at least 10 of the titles to friends. That’s 25%, and I know that half of those will result in current or future sales (12.5% for those playing at home). I know that doesn’t seem like a very high number, but that’s just based on word of mouth to my friends/mom’s book group/etc. This does not count any additional sales that I might “make” by putting my thoughts out on the internet for just anyone to read.

    And in a bad economy that still does not lend itself to excessive

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    40. Bookselling Confessional




    I have a confession to make.

    I almost went back to bookselling last year.

    Hell, that’s not totally true – I actually almost went back to bookselling the year before that.

    Not because I wanted to increase public literacy. Not because my icy heart melted a little when a customer celebrated a new author find. Not even due to my subversive need to get people hooked on new genres by introducing them to a gateway drug, er, book.

    Nope, I almost went back to bookselling because I missed the perks – specifically my discount, my ability to check out new releases and the ARCs.

    Actually, that’s also a bit of a lie. I don’t really miss the ARCs we’d get at my store because we weren’t really on the radar for the titles I thought I wanted.

    But the discount? The ability to use the store as my own personal library? Those things I miss, almost enough to try and pick up a shift shelving, lugging and greeting to get it back.

    I know this doesn’t exactly come as a newsflash to the greater reading population,* but books are expensive, and as a single income household who would eventually like to use that single income own her own home, that cost is oftentimes prohibitive. I can’t afford to drop a lot on books I may or may not like, and even if I could, I don’t have that much room in my house. The majority of my current book buying is done digitally as it allows me to expand my reading without expanding my bookcases, and allows me to indulge in the appearance of impulse shopping.

    I say appearance because 90% of the books I buy digitally are by authors I’ve read and liked previously. The other 10% I bought based on very strong recommendations and my ability to access free content (excerpts, first five chapters, etc).

    When I was a bookseller, I was willing to take a chance on the new to me author with the pretty cover because I had the option to check out the title to read, or buy it at discount even if I was on the fence/wanted to be encouraging. If I was feeling a little wishy-washy I could always take it to the backroom and read a little on my lunch break. In ye ol’ bookselling days, there were several books I purchased simply because I knew other people would like them.** With my discount, this kind of expense wasn’t as much of a barrier, but now any book I buy in paper has to go through the checklist:
    • Do I like this author?
    • Will I read this again?
    • Is there a digital version that is less expensive or do I have a coupon?
    • Will I want to loan this out?
    • Can I get this from the library soon?

    Before I even walk into a bookstore I have answered most of these questions, and this pre-shopping (if you will) has resulted in a decrease in my actual aisle browsing. Because I go knowing what I want, where it’s located, and how much I have to spend, I don’t wander like I used to. I don’t discover in the same way. And that’s pretty sad, for someone whose job used to be telling people about the greatest, newest thing.

    So, once, or twice, or even three times a year, I think about going back to bookselling and taking on a fifty hour work week. I consider taking on the stress of customer service to get that old thrill of opening boxes full of new stock. I long for the ability to be the first to know.

    And right about the time I get to filling out the application I realize, if I went back, if I really committed to taking on a second job, I wouldn’t have the time to read those new books anyway.

    Sometimes it’s better to just see what the library has instead.

    *Someone told me recently that the first thing all financial planning books tell you is to stop buying books, and use the library. I love my library and make great use of it, but this just made me cry.

    **Sure, I might get around to reading them o

    3 Comments on Bookselling Confessional, last added: 3/8/2011
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    41. Literary Love and Links

    I just spent the evening trying to clean up/update all the sidebar links, which resulted in a lot of deleted dead links. I know that in some cases people have started up somewhere else, so if you've got an update that I missed, please let me know. In meantime, here are some links new and old that are good for passing the time:

    According to Flavorwire, Moleskine is launching a new product line; something that fills with me glee because I love Moleskine. The collections will be for Writing, Reading and Travelling, and "will include bags, pencils, pens, reading glasses, computer cases, a USB rechargeable reading light, and an e-reader stand." I'm very excited to see what the Travelling line will be.

    The Fug Girls will now be fugging it up literary style! Heather and Jessica have written a YA novel, Spoiled, that will be out June 1st, 2011.

    “The closest sixteen-year old Molly Dix has gotten to the red carpet is watching it on E!; gorgeous, spoiled Brooke Berlin was practically born on one in Beverly Hills. Their worlds couldn’t be farther apart, until Molly discovers the long-kept secret that sends her spinning into Brooke’s orbit: They share a father, Brick Berlin, world-famous movie star and tabloid regular. Intrigued (and a little bit terrified) by her Hollywood lineage, Molly dives into the deep end of celebrity life by moving to Southern California — where Brooke is waiting, armed with a smothering dose of ‘sisterly love’… and a plan.”
    Both novel and fashionable (though not in the same vein), the ladies from Fashion from Old People tumblr did a lovely drawing inspired by Geek Love (among other things).

    In other literature/tumblr news, if you haven't been following Slaughterhouse 90210 then you should be. It truly is a match made in pop culture heaven.

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    42. It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane!

    No, it’s the resurrection the blog of (a former) Bookseller (who’s still a) Chick!

    I know, I know. You’re not exactly blown away. You might not have even remembered subscribing to this blog once upon a time and now that it’s popping up, you’re like, “Oh, Honey, no. We haven’t so become desperate as to resurrect the early 00s yet. We’ve barely even touched the 90s.”

    Yeah, well, then adjust your flannel because I’m bring this Chick back anyway (and life is just made better if you put a bird on it right?)*

    A lot has been happening in the book world lately—the flood of great Young Adult books, the rise of the self-publishing success, the increased sales of ebooks, Borders’ bankruptcy, HarperCollins’ new electronic policy for libraries, and Apple’s new reading app requirements—and these things are really starting to make fundamental changes in publishing.

    Regardless of whether Old School wants it to or not, publish or perish has taken on a whole new meaning.

    These shifts from the past to present, be they good or bad, are things that I dreamed of being part of when I was trying to transition from bookseller to part of the publishing world. And while I never made it into the publishing stratosphere, I’m still affected as a consumer of the end product: books. Ebooks, library books, mass market, trade and hard backs, I still read across the board despite the lack of discount.

    So why not talk about these things on the internet right? I mean, while I’m no longer a bookseller, I am still a chickadee who reads books. I’m sure the last thing the internet needs is another reader blog, but this one still registers daily traffic, and if nothing else I can follow up those high traffic topics with current updates. Apparently people will don’t know if they should go with Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing yet. Maybe I should figure out why.

    So here’s to a new decade of publishing, bookselling, reading and blogging. I’m sure we can find something to talk about. Along the way, I hope to tradition of handselling and review some of the great books I’ve read lately, as well as link to some of the amazing people who turned me on to those books.

    *


    Oh, Portlandia, the hilarity of this is I truly can name four stores right now who subscribe to this policy, and the newest Pottery Barn catalog is over flowing with birds as well.

    Which reminds me:

    That's right, Hipster Kitty, you tell 'em.

    0 Comments on It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane! as of 3/2/2011 12:56:00 PM
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    43. Me in OZ

    A new comic (featuring my very windblown hair) is up at Skidmore Bluffs. The U-Store place, next to 84, definitely has some interesting photo opportunities.

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    44. For you Zombie Vamp lovers: The Strain (book trailer)

    I knew that The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan had come out, but I hadn't seen the book trailer.




    Nice.

    I expect this will transition well to the big screen when they get around to it.

    1 Comments on For you Zombie Vamp lovers: The Strain (book trailer), last added: 6/7/2009
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    45. Tales from Tweet Camp

    I believe that Kirk Biglione may well be the Bob Ross of Twitter.* Not only does he have a soothing voice and easy-to-follow style that would make him perfectly suited to Scott Brick’s Share the Experience audiobook contest, but in just an hour’s worth of sessions (spread conveniently over five days) he manages to explain the ins and outs of the Twitter experience in a way that even the newest online member could follow. A good thing, too, because before participating in the beta version Booksquare University’s Tweet camp the only thing I knew about Twitter was that it had a character limit.

    Oh, and that people who Twitter were not called twits (apparently some even actually find that insulting).

    Broken out into short videos (averaging ten minutes), the BSU Tweet camp explains how to set up your Twitter account, the vocabulary of twitter (hashtags, retweets, and followers), and how to use your Twitter account to promote yourself. Each video, narrated by Kirk, is accompanied by various articles (often written by Booksquare herself, Kassia Krozser) with links to other helpful Twitter related sites. Despite the short length, the videos do everything but tell you when to breathe and the articles follow-up and enlarge upon the concepts related in the videos.

    After completing the course, you should be a perfectly proficient tweeter, capable of following conversations and enticing followers of your own. Use it to promote you next book, your website or your business. Use it just to join the conversation. Hell, you’ll use it just to follow the conversation (although that has gotten easier now that Twitter has hyperlinked the hashtags—try #sbtd #sbtd#amazonfail).

    Additionally, upon completion, you might learn that tweeting is not your thing; something that I think is just as important. It was after BSU Tweet camp I realized something that has been plaguing me for a long time—I’ve been suffering from computer fatigue. I get home from work and I don’t want to type. I don’t spend as much time on the computer as I used to, and when I am on, it’s usually to read a book. This fatigue transfers to Twitter as well, despite its short character requirements, which is not surprising as I also don’t text. I’m following some very interesting people, and I’ve definitely used my page to follow lit flair ups (Alice Hoffman et al), but beyond posting a few links I don’t have much to add at the moment. That may change now that I’ve started my Sony adventure as part of the Smart Bitches Sony test drive #sbtd

    *I believe this to be a compliment, by the way, as I have very pleasant memories from my childhood of Bob teaching me to paint happy little trees.

    1 Comments on Tales from Tweet Camp, last added: 7/12/2009
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    46. Links for Later

    Because god forbid I actually post links when I come across them:


    Oh so long ago Flavorwire posted links to book trailers of the artsy variety. Flavorwire is fast becoming one of my favorite daily reads with offbeat reviews. I still need to check out Britten & Brülightly (samples of the illustrations can be found here).

    As a follow up to the BSU Tweet Camp, check out these examples of Publishing Professionals using Twitter.

    The Greenlight Bookstore is almost on its way, and they're looking for a few good volunteers. If you're in the greater Brooklyn area, you should check them out.

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    47. The Magic of Music

    If you wrote Bobby McFerrin off for "Don't Worry, Be Happy," here's something to change your mind:





    And by the by, how cool would it have been to go to this?

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    48. Sony PRS-700 Review: The first

    Back in June, I got the wonderful chance to test drive a Sony PRS-700 from the lovely ladies of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. By partnering with Sony, SB Sarah was able to put 30 refurbished Sonys (both 700s and 505s) into the hands of people who might not have otherwise dropped E picked up an ebook. You can follow all of the Sony adventures and discussions here, the reviews (and the comics) are worth a read through for anyone considering an ebook reader. Below you can find my first Sony review as well as a picture of my Sony getting the harem treatment (Loretta Chase's Don't Tempt Me deals with a former harem girl, don't you know). My follow up post will be coming next week.

    * * *

    I was waiting for the bus, reading The Virgin Secretary’s Impossible Boss on my Sony 700—finally HPs and I could once again indulge in our secret love!—when the guy next to me leaned over.

    “Hey, is that a Kindle?”

    Sadly this was not the first time I’ve been asked this question during the test drive, and it wouldn’t be the last. Oh, Sony marketing fail.

    “Nope,” I explained, “it’s a Sony PRS-700 ebook reader.”

    I showed him the touch screen with its iPod like icons, and I showed him the catalog function. I even did a little demo to illustrate how the touch screen could be used to flip pages with a swipe of the finger.


    “Best of all,” I ended my little sales pitch, “it has the ability to operate outside of Amazon!”

    “Nice,” he agreed. “Where do you get one?”

    Ah, yes, about that. They’re extinct, and it’s pretty hard to convince someone to go Sony when your model is already obsolete. Even as I write this review the 700 is nowhere to be found on the Sony website and the only 505s remaining are the specialized versions. According to reports, in the next several months we’ll see two new Sony models: the 300 and the 600. Both sound like they have advantages over their predecessors—which is good. Although I like the ability to catalogue my books, shop where I want, and the fact that no one can take my books away from me with a click of a button, there are features I hope they improve.

    While I’m a fan of the 700’s touch screen, the e-ink technology being used makes the screen far too dark to read on in anything other than direct light. I find myself using the backlight more often than not, just so I can provide enough contrast between the screen and the text to read.

    When I first discovered this issue, I got online to see if there was any quick work around, only to find that the best suggestion involved taking the Sony apart. I’m pretty sure that would void my warranty.

    Constant use of the backlight in turn wears down my battery so quickly that I find myself taking the 700 to work in order to charge it daily. Why take it to work, you ask? Because the 700 needs between two to four hours to charge. I’m not on my laptop that long on my off work hours, and the 700 cannot receive a charge from the USB port when the computer is asleep.* If I had actually purchased the Sony, instead of just test driving it, I definitely would have broken down and bought an a/c outlet cable. As it is now, I ration** my weekend reading so that the battery will last until my next work day.

    With these issues, along with the store’s slow connectivity issues and the basic evil that is DRM, it’s hard to say if the Sony ebook reader is right for me. I’m glad that I got to try out the 700 instead of just buying it, but there is still a great deal of room for improvement. Hopefully the 600 will go a long way towards addressing those concerns, but until I see some reviews I’m not adding it to my Christmas list.

    It’s interesting to note, that right after my talk with bus stop boy, my 75 bus showed up. The bus was full of people reading books—paper books—some definitely from the library, others rereads, and some clearly new. The kid I ended up sitting next to though was reading on his iPhone. While he didn’t even glance my Sony’s way, I was tempted to ask him several times what he was reading, and how he liked it.

    And I definitely did not mistake his iPhone for a Kindle.

    * If only I had realized that right away on the day it arrived. I could have avoided a lot of “Hey, it’s done!” “Oh wait, no.” “But yes!” “But no?” Yes, the Sony and I enacted our own scene of forced seduction. Come to think of it, the USB thingie is kind of phallic looking.

    **Rationing, otherwise known as reading books made of dead trees. When participating in said rationing, I highly suggest printing off one of the many, many Borders coupons going around out there and checking out Meredith Duran’s newest.

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    49. Friday Night Links

    For Art History fans, Christopher Moore has been touring the French Art World and giving his interpretation of famous pieces. That and his other french adventures are being covered on his blog. Check it out.

    The Social Media for Writers Blog has great advice on how to use Social Media for writers and for publishers (check out the story regarding Chelsea Green and twitter).
    Thanks to Midge Raymond for the link.

    The Story Siren has a post up regarding Blogging Etiquette. This goes well with the Dear Author column on how to get into book blogging.

    Rock Reads, as Flavorwire calls them, were quite popular in our store since we had two booksellers who hand sell the hell out of them. They were all nonfiction though, so it would have been interesting to see how these went over: From Great Jones Street to Garden State: Six Essential Rock Fiction Reads

    This makes me smile. I tried taking inventory of what people were reading back when I was on a MAX route, but it mostly consisted of me trying to discern some sort of pattern (a la, the next reading theme will be Asian) or whether or not the books were from my store. This takes it to a whole new (sub) level.

    Eric from Pimp My Novel asks "Self-Publishing: Great Idea... or Worst Idea Ever?" I'm not sure I agree with his conclusion because I've seen people who have really made the self publishing model work. It's interesting to note that all of those people have now been picked up by major publishers, but they were also (for the most part) niche books that turned out to have a wider audience than first believed.

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    50. Sony PRS-700 Review: El Segundo

    I’ve had my Sony PRS-700 for over a month now, and in that time I’ve downloaded over 40 plus ebooks. In the same time, I’ve bought around eight paper books. Of those paperback books I bought, almost all were mass market and purchased for the following reasons:

    • I will want to read them again and again (away from an electronic device that I may not have in the future).
    • I will want to loan them to friends.
    • The print version was cheaper than the e version. (Never discount the power of a coupon to push a book browser over the edge to become a book buyer, bookstores.)

    Of the 40 some-odd books on my Sony, I’ve read about 46. These 46 books range from the free Harlequin downloads (60th anniversary love,) to excerpts on authors sites (Courtney Milan,) to books that I picked up due to web discussion (Delilah Marvelle,) to authors I’ve just been interested in reading for quite some time (Naomi Novik.) As a reader I’m much more likely to give an author a chance in ebook form because if I don’t like it, well hey, I can just hit delete.

    Unlike other readers I really haven’t had any compatibility issues beyond my basic ignorance of the Sony’s formats. This may be because I’ve got a PC and the Mac peeps have been getting the Sony cold shoulder until recently, or it may be because I refused to read the directions. If you don’t know what you are supposed to do, then you can’t misinterpret right?

    My test download was the free pdf of Bettie Sharpe’s Ember. Originally posted in a serialized format, Ember was my first taste of Sharpe’s writing and it was why I eventually picked up her first novel from Samhain to read on my laptop oh so long ago. The pdf format transferred to my Sony no problem, but the font was incredibly tiny upon viewing. Unfortunately increasing the size only destroyed the paragraph formation. Still readable, sure, but also still hard on the eyes. It wasn’t until I downloaded a novel in Adobe ePub that I realized that this was a result of the file format, not the Sony. With the fluidity of ePub format, I was able to use the Sony’s ability to increase text size for my poor eyes without losing the formatting that makes it possible to actually read the story.

    From the looks of Sony’s latest press release, it seems I’m not the only one who likes ePub. Sony announced that it will default to ePub as the format of choice for the Sony bookstore and the Sony readers. In an effort to increase market awareness they have also partnered with Independent bookstores, Booksonboard, Net Galley, Powells.com and created a program called Library Finder to hook you up with ebooks from your local library.

    Of these partnerships, the ones with Library Finder and Net Galley have me the most excited. One of the worst issues I had with writing book reviews was not the actual writing the review itself, but finding the time to review a book from a publisher when I might have had other books I want to read more. With the Sony the “I don’t have it with me” excuse is gone, and I’m (at least) much more likely to flip it open and start reading when the mood strikes. As for the library partnership? Well, what better way to test drive an author before buying. In this economy I like having some idea about the person’s style before I put money down for paper or a file (…and this is why you should have excerpts on your website.)

    As I mentioned in my earlier review, I’ve continued to have issues with the contrast, but I’ve compromised by either turning on more lights in my room, or just reading something in print (if I must read) before going to bed. In rare—stubborn—cases I’ve also increased the font size. I hear that the contrast improves in the 600 (and also possibly in the web connected Reader Daily Edition,) but still suffers due to the touch screen technology.

    Which brings me to the reason this test drive has taken place: having tried it, would I buy a Sony?

    The answer: I still don’t know. I love the convenience. I love always having a library of books with me without adding more to my already overflowing bookshelves. I love all the new and exciting things Sony is doing. That said, in this last week I maybe picked up the Sony once or twice. Since I’m currently not commuting or running a lot of errands where I’ve got sitting around time, the Sony has been relegated to a break-time or home-time device. Also a lot of books that I’ve been waiting for finally hit the bookstore shelves (in many cases, before the ebook was available.) Since I knew that I would read them again and again, I didn’t mind buying those books in paper. It should be noted that not a single book belonged in the new-to-me-author category. All were discovered via previous books and some, like G.A. Aiken, were authors whose previous books were only available online.

    With so many changes going on with Sony—three new ereaders and multiple new partnerships—part of me feels like I should sit back and see how it all goes. What if I buy a 600 and next year its obsolete like the 700 is now? What if I get the Daily Edition despite its high price point only to have its price drop (see: the iPhone) or for its internet access to get restricted or costly (a la Amazon?) And despite all of these great updates, the Sony store remains long to load and odd when it comes to navigation. More and more often I’ve just bypassed it completely and bought from BooksonBoard.

    That said, we’ll have to see what happens after I send the Sony back to SB Sarah. I’m sure there will be horrible withdrawals because even if I’m not reading something on it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not available. It’s entirely possible that the absence will not only make my heart grow fonder, but also make me take a good, long look at my checking account balance (or at least my Christmas List.)

    0 Comments on Sony PRS-700 Review: El Segundo as of 9/5/2009 10:35:00 AM
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