Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Changes to the New Fiction Page

February 15, 2013

As most of you have noticed, we have been adding LOTS of new books (eBooks, self-published books and other editions). We now have over 500,000 titles listed on the site (you don't want to know how many different editions). While this is great for FictionDB overall, it has made our New Fiction pages rather unwieldy.

So we've made a few changes and plan to add more in the near future.

1) Release date is now shown in the date column. Sorting on this column will give you books in release date order. Books without a specific release date default to the first of the month. The biggest change is that books released at the end of a month will now be shown in the actual month released rather than the official publication date listed inside the book. We do plan on adding a toggle for this date at some point.

2) The New Fiction pages now default to "First Release". All of the other books are still there -- you'll just need to select the "All" option under editions to see them. This dramatically cuts down on the number of books listed for any given month.

3) Under Filters, we've added a new one "Major Publishers". We know the self-published books now far outnumber the traditionally published books, so this option will exclude self-published books.

We also plan on adding several more filters for the new fiction pages, but until then you can always use the advanced search to get exactly what you're looking for.

New Harlequin Line - KISS

October 19, 2012

I was just browsing the Publishers Weekly website when I happened upon the announcement that Harlequin is going to be offering a new contemporary romance line called KISS.  At first glance, I thought, a romance line based on a 70s glam band?  What a horrible idea. 

The new books are described as "fun, flirty and sensual romances."  Sounds good in theory, right.  But, like all good dealers, they are going to "hook" you with a little taste.  On December 1, they will be offering the first ebook, Waking Up Married for FREE for at least five months.  But free doesn't last long, the line will be releasing four titles a month, including The One That Got Away, How to Get Over Your Ex, The Downfall of a Good Girl, and Hitched!   So, for all you Harlequin addicts out there, get your free fix in December and enjoy!

Audiobook a Manly Art

December 31, 2012

I recently was diagnosed with thyroid cancer (I'm fine! I'm fine!!), but with the stress, the surgeries, radiation, and life adjustments I was having a lot of trouble reading. My attention span couldn't take looking at a page and piecing words together and making sense of them. But I LOVE BOOKS. And a recovery without reading was...well terrible to imagine. So I started an Audible account and started listening.

My usual reading is 90% Regency romance and 9% Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Urban Fantasy and 1% something like The Help. So I bought a couple of romance novels and learned - I hate female readers.  I don't know what is wrong with me, but their voices grate and loose my attention. Authors that I love, heck comfort reads I have on my Keeper shelf had me bored and frustrated.

Then I realized that my first jaunt in 2007 was listening to James Marsters read the Harry Dresden Novels  - well at least 1-4. I LOVE Marsters voice and that's the reason I got addicted to Jim Butcher's wizarding P.I. Luckily for me all the Dresden books are now out on Audible so I started listening to them. And I've moved onto a number of Urban Fantasy novels with male readers like Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series, or Lish Mcbride's Necromancer books. I'm addicted to the Kim Harrison Hallows series, but can I listen to the female reader drone on? Nope.

So what is it that makes female voices so annoying to listen to? I'm a woman. I love female singers. I adore female actors and poets. Why am I so sexist against female audio book readers? Am I alone? I'm determined to find a female reader I like. There must be at least one. There are male readers I can't listen to either, so maybe I just keep getting female duds. I'm on the hunt, but until then I look at all female read audio book titles with dread.

Hilary Mantel Does It Again - Bring Up the Bodies and the Booker Man Prize

October 19, 2012

Hilary Mantel, winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, poses with her prize shortly after the award ceremony in London Tuesday. Mantel, won the 50,000 British pounds (approximately $80,000) prize with her book Bring up the Bodies.Let's hear it for the girl!  On October 16, 2012, Hilary Mantel became the first woman EVER to win the Booker Man twice.  The Booker Man is Britain's most prestigious award for literary fiction.  Upon taking the stage, Mantel said, "Well I don't know.  You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize, and two come along at once.  Mantel now has the difficult task of completing her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, for which she is NOT counting on a repeat win.  Congrats, Ms. Mantel.  Well done!

Vampires, Werewolves and Soulless Spinsters - Who Can Resist?

October 12, 2012

I had the best intentions.  I was so excited when my co-worker, Jennifer, lent me her copy of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I was positive that I would plow through it with avid glee.  But alas, after a lovely lunch with Kelly, I am now hopelessly sidetracked by Soulless by Gail Carriger.  It's really not my fault.  Kelly handed it to me with such a devilish look in her eye that I was instantly intrigued.  I tried to ignore it.  I truly did.  But, one the way home from lunch, whilst stuck at a stoplight, I made the mistake of reading the back.  Rookie move, I know.  This is what I read:

First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Photo of Gail Carriger by Robert Andruszko

How can I resist the heady blend of crackling Victorian language and the supernatural?  The tone of the book is downright hilarious and I am loving every page.  (To make it even more fun, there's a Manga version available)  So, in true Alexia Tarabotti style, I admonish you, Kelly, for your impertinent infliction of literary temptation.  How rude!  Yet, how delightful!  Good heavens, where's my tea and treacle tart?

Man Booker Squared - Hilary Mantel Might Do It Again

October 7, 2012

Good news for fans of historical fiction and Hilary Mantel.  It appears that Mantel's latest offering, Bring Up the Bodies, has been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.  Mantel's novel, Wolf Hall, won this prestigious award in 2009 and it looks like she just might do it again.  The winner will be announced on October 16th in London

I have heard nothing but praise for these two books, although I haven't had the opportunity to read them yet.  I'm sure that some of you FictionDB'ers have and I'd love to hear your opinions.  (Shirley left a nice review on FictionDB)  Since my TBR list is ever growing, and seems to grow in direct opposition to my free time, I want to be sure that it includes any and all "must reads".   So let me know if you've read either Mantel book and give me your honest, real-world opinions.  Thanks, and happy reading!

I Love Books

October 2, 2012

You Don't Know Bad Until You Know BLFC

September 25, 2012

The pen is mightier than the sword,” “the great unwashed,” and “the almighty dollar” are also attributed to Bulwer-Lytton.

I recently discovered the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC) website.  (  BLFC is a wonderful, zany literary competition wherein contestants are encouraged to submit the worst opening lines for a novel.  The contest began in 1983 at San Jose State University by Professor Scott Rice and is named after the Victorian writer, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who is best known for penning the infamous opening line "It was a dark and stormy night."  BLFC is a call to craft appallingly bad prose.  This year's winner was Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England, who was inspired to create this wickedly terrible entry: "As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting."  There is nothing quite so charming as our ability to laugh at ourselves, and these writers do it so well.  I applaud them all.

At BLFC, you can also find Sticks and Stones which is a newer contest dedicated to the awful work of published authors.  An example is provided from Danielle Steel's Star:  "She wore a dress the same color as her eyes her father brought her from San Francisco."   The site challenges you to submit your own discoveries of ill-written, ungainly, strangely similed, tortured prose.

I highly recommend you visit this site when you need a quick chuckle.  Have a literary friend and a cold bottle of Chardonnay as well and let the laughter ensue.

Been There, Done That

September 16, 2012

So glad to know I'm not the only one.

I love it when I find an image that captures my own experience.  It's funny.  I used to think that going out to a club to hear a great band was worth the lack of mental presence the next morning.  Nowadays, it's book.  Oh, how my priorities have changed.

My most recent "gotta reads" were Insurgent and A Discovery of Witches.  Both were definitely worth the bleary eyes and fuzzy head the next day.  What book has kept you up all night?

Just Another Reason to Read

September 10, 2012

Now THAT is a comforting thought!

Sometimes a book is so much more than entertainment or enlightenment.  Sometimes it's a companion.  Don't you agree?

Need Something to Say?

September 7, 2012

While frittering away my time the other day, I ran across these interesting facts about books and reading.  Since it's always nice to have something interesting to talk about, consider this list as inspiration for your next conversational lull.  Enjoy!

  • If you stretched out all the shelves in the New York Public Library, they would extend eighty miles. The books most often requested at this library are about drugs, witchcraft, astrology and Shakespeare.

  • In America, we buy 57 books per second. It would take a shelf 78 miles long to hold all of one day’s books.

  • The man who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories, A. Conan Doyle, was a professional ophthalmologist, an eye doctor. Because in his time specialty medical practices were hard to build and didn’t pay well, he had to take up writing to make ends meet.

  • The original title for The Great Gatsy was going to be The Incident at West Egg.

  • Almost half of all the paperback books printed and distributed for the North  American market are romance novels of various types.

  • The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every year because when it was built, engineers failed to take into account the weight of all the books that would occupy the building.

  • The average person reads less then one book per year. After most people finish college they only read 5 books over the course of their life.

  • In 1939 an author named Ernest Vincent wrote a 50,000 word novel called Gadsby. The only thing unusual about the novel is that there is not a single letter ‘e’ in the whole thing.

  • James Patterson is the richest author. He’s had 51 New York Times best sellers and has an estimated fortune of $70million dollars.  It is also said that he writes his books by hand!

  • Vive La Bookplate!

    September 10, 2012

    Even though I love my Kindle (instant gratification can be soooo satisfying), here is one more reason to keep buying physical, can touch 'em, hold 'em and loan 'em books - bookplates.  My father was an English teacher and had a great love of books.  One day when I was about seven, I opened one of my father's books and saw this strange and beautiful label with his name on it on the inside cover.  I was fascinated.  It looked so regal.  I knew then and there that books were important and something to be cherished.

    I love everything about bookplates, from their practicality (yes, you can get your books back) to their art.  I love how some bookplates look positively medieval, some like Art Deco, some modern.  They can be fanciful, romantic, scary, or stark.  They can be charming and friendly or dark and demanding.  Choosing your bookplate is like choosing an outfit for your first day of school.  It sets a tone.  It tells others a little bit about you.

    Judging from the vast amount of images available for bookplates, I like to think that there are still many readers who value and use this wonderful little label.  I think that perhaps a personalized set of bookplates would make a unique gift for that hard-to-buy-for friend or relative.  Long live bookplates!

    Books in Movies - What Characters Read

    September 9, 2012

    I was thinking about the movie You've Got Mail the other day.  One of my favorite scenes is where Meg Ryan is waiting in the coffee shop with a copy of Pride and Prejudice and a rose.  Just that one little scene reveals so much about her character, just like the opening scene from Pride and Prejudice where Keira Knightly's Elizabeth Bennet is reading while walking.  This got me thinking about other movies where characters are reading books in movies.  Has anyone else ever noticed this?  How much deeper is our sense of character is he or she is reading Twilight as opposed to The Grapes of Wrath or even Nora Roberts' The Search.

    What if John McClane, Bruce Willis' character in the Die Hard films, was shown reading How to Win Friends and Influence People?  Or if Ace Ventura read Dostoevsky?  What could we learn, or what jokes would we get, if we paid close attention?  I'm going to keep this thought in the back of my mind for a while and report my finding.  In the meantime, if you've ever noticed what characters read, please let me know.  If you haven't, what do you think your favorite film and TV characters read?  Let me know in the space below.

    Where did summer go?

    August 30, 2012

    Have you read all the books you'd planned to read this summer?

    Oops! I Did It Again - A Little Help, Please

    August 28, 2012

    My TBR stack groweth steadily!

    I am finally crawling from the wreckage of work and home chaos, only to emerge with another problem.  The looming TBR stack.  While I wasn't paying attention, the monster has grown to behemoth status.  I must be sleeping next to a tottering tower of at least 10 books.  Now, I know some of you hardcore readers scoff and think "10 measly books? Quit yer belly-achin' and get reading, missy."  Why I give major props to those of you who can handle a To Be Read stack of monstrous proportions, I simply cannot.  I have issues and I cannot tell a friend or a colleague "no" when they offer to lend me a book they enjoyed.  As of this writing, a sampling of my stack includes: The Devil in the White City (it's true - On rare occasions I read nonfiction), The Lost Symbol, Love the One You're With, Shadow of Darkness, and Lucia, Lucia.  I've also got a couple of titles from BEA including Veronica Roth's Insurgent and a super creepy (think The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) thriller, The Absent One, by Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen.  There are a few more in the stack but they are at the bottom and I can't read the titles.

    To put it mildly, I am overwhelmed (never a good feeling unless you are being lavished with praise).  I am also reading Harper Lee's classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.  (Alas, I have never read the book.  During freshman Honors English, I had to forego Harper Lee and revel in the relevant plays of Shakespeare's Corialanus and Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding - insert sarcasm here).  Why Lee?  Why now?  Well, it is my eldest's summer reading assignment and I wanted to read it along with her.  She is about to enter high school and I am determined to hold on to any educational connection I can with an iron grip.  The downside of my situation is that once I finish To Kill a Mockingbird, I am going to have to face the dreaded TBR stack.  If any of you are familiar with the books in my stack, would you be so kind as to offer your advice as which to tackle first?  Thanks!!

    Book Hangover - Anybody Know the Cure?

    July 4, 2012

    Change Is Hard!

    June 16, 2012

    It's been a week now since we updated the look of FictionDB and I have to tell you it's been something of a wild ride. At times I've felt like Facebook implementing the Timeline. I've received a few complaints and if the complaint is truly something that will make the site easier to use, I usually implement it right away.

    I have to admit to being something of a process improvement fanatic. If I can figure out a way to do something better or faster, I will do it. I certainly don't sit around trying to find new ways to aggravate people. What most people forget is that I am the biggest user of FictionDB. There are few people who spend more time on the site than I do. Take yesterday, for example. I searched for something and wanted to see the covers for my results and realized that the functionality to do this didn't exist. Well, believe me, it does now.

    Another issue has been with really old browsers. FictionDB now requires a minimum of Internet Explorer 8 for full functionality. We recommend Firefox 13, IE 9, and Google Chrome 21. Browser upgrades are free and you can get the latest version by visiting the software maker's website. If you have a really old IE browser and choose not to upgrade, you will not be able to see the buttons on the site. Buttons include ratings, book lists, editing, etc. We have access to the number of people visiting the site who use these old browsers and the number is very small, so we are still recommending the upgrades rather than trying to code the site to fit such a small percentage of visitors.

    Luckily I've been through this several times, so I don't let the comments get to me. Each time we've changed FictionDB, some people love it and some people are unhappy. I know that for every complaint I receive, there are probably 10 people who are fine with the changes.

    If you have an idea to make the site easier to use, we're always happy to consider it. Those of you who've been with us for years can attest to this fact.

    FictionDB's Fresh New Look

    June 10, 2012

    As you may have noticed, we've freshened up FictionDB's look. It's hard to believe, but it's been several years since the last "freshening". Don't worry, none of the functionality has changed -- we've just made the site a little more flexible.

    A few of the highlights

    1) A streamlined header bar that always stays at the top of the page, no matter how far you scroll down.

    2) The width of the site display changes based on the size of your screen. For fun, make it really small. It practically becomes a mobile app!

    3) A softening of the colors.

    4) New edit buttons when you are logged in to your account. You can now edit your books directly from your book lists in the "my books" area. Subscribers can edit their books from any page on the site.

    5) We've removed the dropdown selection for the search box. Our new "typeahead" search should find exactly what you're looking for. I know some of you will be upset by this, but you can always visit the advanced search page.

    6) The member quick links have been combined in the Member button in the top right corner of the screen.

    Hopefully you'll find these changes useful. The reason behind all this change is really the behind-the-scenes code. We've adopted the fabulous new Twitter Bootstrap platform -- it makes changes to the site really simple.

    Let us know if you notice anything that isn't working properly. We'll get it fixed right away.

    2012 BEA Book Bag Awards

    June 8, 2012

    As BEA winds to a close we take a look at the most important part of the event - the book bags! It was a quiet year on the book bag front. Many were re-runs from last year (that's just cheap, dude), and some publishers (I'm looking at you Abrams) didn't even give out bags this year (horror!!). Before we go into what bags were the winners and losers I wanted to remind you about how we judge them.

    The Anatomy of a Good Bag Handles — They have to be long enough to fit comfortably onto the shoulder, wide enough to not cut into you, and of a material (preferably fabric) that doesn’t slip. We can’t stress this enough. If a handle isn’t a good length and a decent width then the bag is rendered nearly useless for carrying a heavy load of books — unless you like holding the bag in your hand…which we don’t recommend unless you like numb hands and broken fingers.

    Material – There are lots of materials for bags, but we feel that canvas is what it’s all about. Canvas is durable, washable, and comfortable against your body. We give a nod to bags that are made of a heavy duty plastic exterior. Unlike canvas, these bags have the ability to portray vivid colors and pictures, and with their slippery bottoms, are excellent for dragging along the expo floor. In general though, canvas is King. We want to mention a new trend this year of PAPER BAGS. Yes, you heard us right PAPER. We firmly put these in the pretty but useless category and hope to never see them again. Congrats to the Magic Tree House and Clifford on 20 and 50 years respectively though!

    Rigidity — A bag must be firm enough to stand up on it’s own, so that books can be placed into it without a fight. Sad, thin, slippery material that can't hold itself up is frustrating and a wastes everyone's time. (not cool, dude!)

    Shape — Since this is a book event and books are rectangular in nature, we like a square or rectangular bag. It just holds books better. Also the bottom MUST BE rectangular so it can stand upright. (please see above "Rigidity")

    Size – Distribution of weight is a key feature to a good bag. Big is better right? No! When dealing with heavy items like books, a medium to small sized bag is best. It stops the user from overfilling, bruising their shoulders and throwing out their backs.

    Branding – We don’t really care about this as much as the other features, but it’s something we think about. Someone paid money to create the bag to market their product, so if you don’t know what that product is, or can’t tell who made the bag, well, that just seems sad.

    Look — Like FictionDB, bags are a tool — a resource to use. Therefore, functionality is key which is why, just like FictionDB strives to look good while being the ultimate place for information on fiction, we expect a bag to look good while being functional too.

    Now onto the winners!

    The "Returner” Bag

    A new category for us this year, but one we're excited about because a bag that's worth bringing back to BEA the following year is a bag worth talking about. We had numerous sightings of this bag (sadly, I can't tell what publisher this is from!), and when one attendee was asked about bringing it back she stated, "I love the long handles, it stands up by itself, it isn't too big but it's the right size. And it's lasted this long." We couldn't have said it better. Although we didn't bring this bag back to show ourselves we have to admit to having and using it still.

    The “Everybody’s Using It” Bag

    We have a tie this year! We saw the DK bag on everyone, often with The Land of Stories bag right next to it.

    DK: Quite frankly, only the short length of the handles held this bag back from being the best bag of 2012 BEA for us. Made of a thick canvas that zips, the pockets are great, and the size wonderful. But those straps! Too darned short. We kept seeing people struggling with them and watching them slip off shoulders.

    TLOS: A wonderful canvas bag with long handles of the same canvas. The artwork is simple but eye catching, and the blue and green stood out. A great bag for show, and later at the beach.

    The “Get’s the Job Done” Bag

    This is the second year in a row for Ingram dominating this category. They have the same bag as last year and it meets the same specifications. A little on the large side, but well proportioned with good branding. It’s functional and we saw quite a few of them around the show. Bonus, it's one of the best to slid along the floor...which you'll probably end up doing if you fill it up.

    The  "Nostalgia" Bag

    Not really a bag that we'd usually pay attention to, but it was talked about a lot because of the artwork. A Wrinkle in Time has 7 covers that FictionDB knows about, and the one that graces this bag is the original. Very exciting to book geeks who have probably all read this book at one point in their lives in not two, or three, or twenty. So congrats to 50 years and a book that spans the decades. Next time can you put this artwork on a better bag?

    The “Sad Sack” Bag

    To our horror we saw more bags in this category than usual this year, but the one that takes the prize is Chronicle's because they put so much effort into such a sad sack. The artwork is done by Mike Perry (should we know him?? Chronicle felt we should) and is fun to look at. But the bag. Wrong on soooo many levels. Dreaded short handles, wrong size, and negative rigidity make us shake our heads at who decided to invest money into this bag. We hope to see a better offering in 2013.

    The “So Close it Hurts” Bag

    With it's bright colors and Angry Birds this bag caught everyone's attention, but alas no one used it because the handles were too short! Square, rigid, and a great size and shape for books this bag could have been a contender, but instead we saw it folded up in peoples bags unused and often abandoned on the show room floor with unwanted book signing fliers.

    The “Epic Fail” Bag
    Another second year in a row winner...or would that be loser? It's even a bag I saw people waiting in line for this year. Which left us sad since we warned about this bag last year. (Hello? Is anybody out there??) We know this bag looks good, but as too many people learned, this bag fails. Everyone we spoke to said that in years past it was their favorite bag. One attendee even brought her old one back to use this year! But this year’s bag had lots of complaints — serious breakage problems. The handles kept busting off and a full bag would break out through the bottom. Please McGraw ditch your inventory of these terrible things and bring back the 2010 version.

    The “Aww! It’s So Cute!” Bag

    We think this bag speaks for itself. I mean look at it? How can you not say, "Awwwww..."?

    The “Not For BEA But Totally Love it Later” Bags

    We have to admit to loving this bad even though it's almost useless for BEA. Made of a wonderfully thick and fully lined canvas, with long thick (is it getting hot in here???) canvas handles this bag feels amazing both to the touch and while hanging comfortably off one shoulder. And the look...I mean LOOK at it! The printing is high quality that should stand up to numerous washing, crushing, and man handlings. This is a bag that may be too skinny and small to hold books, but we suspect will adorn people at beaches and in Trader Joes  for day to day use.

    The Bag to Rule Them All

    In a crazy upset Abrams (which we still find to be the best all around) forfeits their title! When not seeing the Abrams bag on the floor this year we went over and asked about it only to be told they weren't giving a bag out this year. WHAT?!  We were devastated by the news...until we found the Midpoint Trade Books bag. It doesn't look like much, and I think a lot of people passed it over since it's of a material we don't like and just looks lame. BUT with it's long handle and uber wide shoulder strap it was the most comfortable bag to tote around this year. It also holds a TON of books, and it's wide rectangular shape allowed for fast and easy top loading. Congratulations! Midpoint Trade Books, you are our winner!

    BEA is on its way!

    June 5, 2012

    We have survived the first few hours of BEA and have come away the victors. It always starts with "The Running of the Books" which is where a herd of people rush through the conference hall trying to nab as many free books as they can carry. Looking at our hoard we did well.

    Now it's onto the somewhat more sane, "Standing in Line" time where we stand in line waiting to get free books. :)

    More to come as our piles get bigger!

    RITA Award Finalists 2012

    June 2, 2012

    If you're looking for a good historical romance this weekend, here's a list of the 2012 RITA award finalists for Historical Romance.   RITA is the annual award given out by the Romance Writers of America.  The purpose of the RITA is to promote excellence in the romance genre so it's a pretty good bet that these eight books are great reads.  So snuggle up and enjoy!  Don't forget to let me know which one is your favorite to win!


    The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne
    The Danger of Desire by Elizabeth Essex
    The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley
    Always a Temptress by Eileen Dreyer


    Heartbreak Creek by Kaki Warner
    Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt
    Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase
    Unveiled by Courtney Milan

    Bizarro - Just Like it Sounds

    June 1, 2012

    At a recent writer's group meeting, one of our members mentioned that she was interested in writing "bizarro."  Now, in my mind, Bizarro was a twisted comic strip I used to read, I didn't realize that it was a fiction genre.  As it turns out, it is an emerging genre that focuses on satire, the grotesque and the absurd.  While it might not be my cup of tea, it's obviously somebody's so more power to them. According to Rose O'Keefe of Eraserhead Press: "Basically, if an audience enjoys a book or film primarily because of its weirdness, then it is Bizarro. Weirdness might not be the work's only appealing quality, but it is the major one."  Think of it like a David Lynch film but in book form.

    Like I said, this genre hold little appeal for me, but some readers might really enjoy it.  So, if you're curious or excited, here's an excerpt from D. Harlan Wilson's Dr. Identify:

    I returned to my office to find Bob Dostoevsky blowdrying his armpits. Like Gilbert Hemingway and the rest of the faculty employed by Corndog University’s English department, Bob had legally changed his surname to an author in his field who was of interest to him in some pedagogical or scholarly way. Additionally, he had done his best to dress himself up like the Russian novelist, sporting dimestore spectacles, a long greasy beard, and a motheaten overcoat. He had grafted eye bags onto his face, too. These were departmental requirements. When I was initially interviewed for the job by the search committee, I thought it was a joke. When I later accepted the job and moved to Bliptown, I discovered it was reality. I considered reporting the instance of absurdity to the HEA (Higher Education Armada). But I couldn’t afford to burn any bridges, and I had racked up unspeakable financial debt over the years. I needed a fulltime income. So I agreed to appropriate the surname of an unknown speculative fiction author whose body of work, in my view, was vastly underrated, and while I refused to get plastic surgery, I tried my best to recreate myself in his image. Fortunately I looked a lot like him. My choice wasn’t well-received. But it was tolerated on the condition that my colleagues could refer to me by the nickname Blah Blah Blah.

    In truth it reminds me a little of William S. Burroughs, bizarre and vaguely drug-like.  So, there you have it--a brief introduction to Bizarro.  It may not be your cup of tea, but you will turn a few heads with your knowledge of up and coming, yet still obscure, literary genres.

    When No Other Word Will Do

    May 28, 2012

    David Bamber as Mr. Collins. Photo by www.fanpop. com
    One of the things I love most about reading is when you find a really good word.  A word that stays in your vocabulary even though you may not use it all the time.  A word that evokes such specificity that no other word or description will even come close.  To this day, I remember the first time I came across such a word.

    I was in high school, and we had been assigned to read Pride and Prejudice.  It was my first encounter with Jane Austen, I confess that at the time, I just didn't get it.  It was just one more dusty book in a long line of dusty books that I had endured (note to my freshman English lit teacher - Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding has absolutely no resonance for a 13 year old).
    BUT, the great thing about Pride and Prejudice is that it gave me the word "odious."  And, to this very day, it is one of my all time favorite words. The definition of odious is highly offensive; repugnant; disgusting.  I my mind this word is forever tied to the character of Mr. Collins and his obsequious and smarmy nature.  My lips curl in disgust just thinking of him which pretty much captures the essence of odious.
    So here's my question to you, dear readers, what words have you encountered in your reading adventures have stuck with you?  Are they tied to characters (a la Mr. Collins) or situations?  I'd love to hear from you.  Leave a comment and let me know.

    Soap Operas and Heavy Hands

    May 23, 2012

    When I was much younger, I remember rushing home from school everyday, throwing down my backpack and running up the street to Erin's house.  At three o'clock on the dot we would settle in with a bowl of Fritos, some KoolAid and breathless anticipation.  Oh, these were the glory days of General Hospital.  Who could forget Luke and Laura?  Not to mention Blackie (Really?  Blackie?  A room full of writers and they couldn't come up with a better name than Blackie?)  And yet, nothing titillated the fancy of a middle school girl, like a good old fashioned soap opera.  I know I should have been involved in some club or some sport, but I wasn't.  I was hopelessly committed.

    It was during this brief but intense relationship that I discovered a little expository trick used by those rascally writers.  Just about every other day, two characters would engage in a conversation that gave an entire back story on one of the story lines.  I thought it was hilarious and predictable.  I wonderful little trick put in to get everyone up to speed in soap opera land.  Until, I was up to speed.  Then, it was downright annoying.
    So imagine my surprise and dissatisfaction when this ploy appeared in Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James.  First of all, like all Pride and Prejudice fans, I am well acquainted with the characters.  I don't need their back story.  I know it by heart.  However, taking into account that this novel wasn't written solely for my benefit, I let it slide.  However, when an explanation of the legal structure and system in 1803 England is introduced with the line "Remind me of the procedure," I just about lost it.  It was so clunky and heavy-handed.  And, quite frankly, I didn't really care to know the information nor was I going to be able to retain it.  It really kind of put me off the book, a bit like finding hair in your soup.

    So, my question is this.  Have you ever run across this problem in your reading travels.  If so, what book and what part?

    Book Links from GoodReads to FictionDB

    May 3, 2012

    Are you a GoodReads member? If you are, we have good news for you. We've created a Book Link from GoodReads to FictionDB. Now when you're on GoodReads, you can quickly jump to the same book on FictionDB.

    You'll have to add FictionDB to your Book Links. This takes a few steps, so here are the directions:

    1. Click on "Edit Profile" from the dropdown next to your little picture in the upper right corner of the screen
    2. Click on the Book Links tab
    3. Now you will see all the Book Links that are available on the right and the ones you have chosen on the left
    4. Click on "add a new link" at the top right side of the screen
    5. Copy and paste the following information for each field
    -              link name: FictionDB
    -              ISBN search url:
    -              ISBN13 search url:
    -              title search url:
    6. Click on the "test link" button for each type. A snapshot of FictionDB will pop up
    7. Click on "create book link" at the bottom of the page when you're done testing
    8. FictionDB will now appear on your Book Links tab on the left side of the page
    9. You can click the little arrows to move items up or down on your list

    It does seem like a lot of work, but now you'll be linked!!

    I've been using it to quickly add books to my wishlist. I only rate books at goodreads, but I keep track of all my wishlist books on FictionDB, of course. So if I see a book that I want to read, with one click I'm back to FictionDB where I can add it to my wishlist. Hopefully, you'll find the Book Link helpful, too.

    While you're over there, why don't you add me as friend?
    Kelly on GoodReads

    Hotter than Hot

    March 26, 2012

    Just when you thought that E.L. James' Grey trilogy couldn't get any hotter (and I don't mean the sex)!  The news is out that the film rights have been sold and that this amazing word-of-mouth success story gets keeps getting bigger.  Universal Pictures and Focus films made the announcement today.  I guess that means that we will now enter a phase of wild speculation over casting followed by about six months of teaser trailers.  I mean, Hunger Games is soooo last Thursday.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I can no longer resist the buzz and Must. Read. Book. Now.  I'll keep you posted.

    Has This Ever Happened to You?

    March 19, 2012

    I am seriously concerned over the unending barrage of hype over the rapidly approaching Hunger Games movie.  Yes, I loved that trilogy and read it with a voraciousness rarely seen outside of PMS and a bag of Doritos.  However, I can't help but feel that it will never live up to its expectations.  Strangely, this had me thinking not about movies that aren't as good as the books that spawned them, but quite the opposite.  I started to ponder which movies were actually better than the books on which they were based.

    The first one that came to mind was Shrek.  That movie was hilarious and launched a new breed of children's movies that had a little "somethin', somethin'" for the adults in the crowd. (For any of you that have had to sit through a movie geared strictly for a five-year old, you know what I'm talking about).  Now, if any of you have ever read Shrek by William Stieg, it is a pale comparison to the film.  In fact, it's hardly recognizable outside of the fact that Shrek is an ogre.  However, the movie had superior entertainment value by far.

    Another example (for me, and I know people are going to get mad about this) was Practical Magic.  I admit that I watched the movie first and was seduced by beautiful slip dresses and impossibly luxurious hair. But, pound for pound and minute for minute, it was far more entertaining (again, it's just my opinion) than the book (which I did read).  I found the book so vastly different than the glossy Bullock/Kidman vehicle that it was off-putting and perplexing.  I kept wondering how that movie came from this book.

    So, I'm wondering if anyone else has encountered a movie that was better than the book?  If so, please leave a comment and let me know.  I'd love to hear your opinion (because I already know mine).

    Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves (Evidently)

    March 17, 2012

    Well, last week I asked if you were naughty or nice and, judging from this week's bestselling romance books, you were feeling a little naughty.  Spearheading this surge in erotic novels is E.L. James, who has scored a trifecta with her Shades of Grey trilogy.  Also of note is Wrath, an eBook from Ellora's Cave, Gena Showalter's latest and cowboy erotica from Mari Carr and Jayne Rylon.  Will this trend will continue or will we see a resurgence of Regency next time around?  Oh, the fickle hearts of women...

    Mommy Porn? Really? We're Calling it That?

    March 11, 2012

    I just read an interesting article about the wild success of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey and how Vintage Books (a paperback division of Random House) has acquired the trilogy—Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades.  The e-book editions will be available March 12 and the paperbacks are due this April.

    The success of James’ book has been largely word-of-mouth since its distribution.  The novels tell the story of the romance between a young billionaire, Christian Grey, and Anastasia Steele, a college student.  Word is that the novel’s erotic writing is sometime labeled as “mommy porn.”  I don't know about you, but I find that label somewhat offensive.  I mean, you don't have to be a mommy to enjoy it, right?

    As with almost every publishing phenomenon, there is a controversy surrounding it.  Some claim that the series is Twilight derivative in terms of the heroine’s character, narrative point of view and themes.  This might be the case because James’ trilogy started out as fan fiction.  (Fan fiction in an online genre where fans can write and publish their own versions and variations of popular characters).  James used Bella and Edward and changed their setting from Forks to Seattle.  James’ stories were a success and attracted a large following.  In James’ defense, Vintage states that she took her original story and reworked into the Grey trilogy with its own set of characters and conflicts.

    Regardless of the debate, James’ trilogy is sure to be hitting the bestselling lists soon. (but can we come up with a better marketing label, please?)

    FictionDB? Yep, there's an App for that!!

    February 28, 2012

    After many months of designing and redesigning our mobile app, it's finally done!

    You can download the iPhone FictionDB App from the Apple App Store using keyword FictionDB.

    Don't despair if you don't have an iPhone (I don't), the same app is available at I have an Android phone and this is the one I use.

    For those of you with really old phones, you can always access the simple FictionDB mobile site.

    All the mobile sites require a login, so if you haven't signed up for the free account, now's the time.

    Why isn't there an iPad app? Well, I DO have an iPad and regular works great. You can still download the iPhone app for your iPad and click on the 2X button to increase its size.

    This is the first generation of the app, so it doesn't have absolutely everything that FictionDB does, but it's great for looking things up on the go. Please let us know what you think of the new mobile FictionDB.

    The Plight of Misfit Books

    February 28, 2012

    My husband and daughters recently surprised me upon their return from a foray for ice cream. Our local CVS is located next door to a Crown Book Liquidation store and they had scored a beautiful flocked-cover copy of The Secret Garden. Quite a nice surprise, I must say. However, I was not prepared for the disappointed discussion of the state of the store. Now, I had visited that store in the past and found it depressing beyond belief. It was the Land of Misfit Books. It was clear from the outset that this store (which was inhabiting the space previously used by Borders—like a hermit crab grabbing a discarded shell) was all of the leftover stock from the plethora of defunct bookstores. It truly is a wasteland of all the books you never wanted to buy. Which got me thinking…what’s going to happen to all those books? The sad truth is that these books will end up returned to warehouses, have their covers stripped off and then be recycled into pulp. It brings a new definition to pulp fiction, right? Why not send them to the local library? I’m sure it has to do with tracking stock, yada, yada, business talk about contracts, royalties, blah, blah. Besides, I’ve been behind the scenes of my local library and that place was full to the gills with donated books from library patrons. I’m not sure they need, nor want, scads of less than popular books. (Why am I having high school flashbacks? Do books have a social hierarchy? I’m thinking they must, like pretty much everything in life.) I guess the bright side to the fate of these books is that they are being recycled. Perhaps I can think of them like phoenixes. Burned in the ashes, to rise again once more. Or, perhaps, it’s like reincarnation—each return hopefully bringing them to a higher level of circulation and readership. Still, I can’t help but think that maybe one advantage to eBooks is that unpopular titles don’t end up destroyed; they just disappear—like all the good bookstores.

    Let's Do The Time Warp, Again

    February 22, 2012

    I do believe that there is something amiss in the space-time continuum.  How else can you explain how I can plow through Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number in two days and I have yet to get past page 100 of the Scorpio Races.  Both books are interesting and well-written so how come I can invest equal amounts of time to reading both novels and yet wind up in two completely different places?  I know that the obvious answer is that one is easier to read than the other but I hold fast to the space-time theory.  We all know that a good book can be a time suck, but what if it's true?

    Now, I can get all philosophical and make statements like "with a good book, you can travel through space and time to distant lands and foregone eras."  Lovely, isn't it, but I'm talking about an actual bending of time so that equal amounts of reading results in unequal amounts of reading accomplished.

    I think I'll blame my Kindle.  The amount of energy I need to expend holding a physical book and turning pages must have resulted in less pages read.  That must be it.  It's the only logical explanation, right?  Of course, I could also attribute it to the fact that I've Got Your Number is a romance, full of fluff and fun, and the ever-present promise of sex somewhere near the end, but that would make me shallow (honest, but shallow).  Nope, I'm goin' with time warp.  It's just easier that way. Don't you think?

    Want to receive e-mail alerts when new books are added by your favorite authors?

    February 20, 2012

    Around 2000 new titles a month are added to FictionDB. In the past you've had to rely on the New Books by Favorite Authors page to see your new favorites. Now you can sign up to get an e-mail whenever a new book by one of your favorite authors is added to the site.

    To sign up for the new e-mails:
    - click on Account from the upper right menu
    - click on Update Account Information from your main account page
    - check the box for Get an e-mail when a new book by one of your favorite authors is added
    - click Update and you're done

    If you use hotmail or msn as your e-mail address and want to use this service, you'll need to change your e-mail address on the account. Unfortunately, hotmail and msn send our e-mails into cyberspace and we still can't figure out why :(

    Don't worry, you won't be inundated with e-mails for reissues. We are confining the e-mails to new titles added to the site.

    If you've never used the Favorite Authors feature of FictionDB, now's your chance. To add an author to your faves, just click on those little grey hearts next to the author's name. The heart will turn red and the author has been added to your Favorite Authors List.

    This has been one of our most requested features and I'm glad we finally offer it to our visitors!

    Author Lisa Gardner: Far From Normal

    February 18, 2012

    Born into a life of supreme normalcy, Lisa Gardner has become a bestselling author of dark and delicious tales.  She began life in Hillsboro, Oregon, lying to the west in the Tualatin Valley.

    Like any successful author, she loved to read and, at the tender age of eighteen, she decided that she would write a romance novel.  It was three years later when that romance, which had undergone several rewrites, sold to Silhouette Intimate Moments.  The publishers named the novel Walking After Midnight and gave her the nom de plume of Alicia Scott.  That book earned her three thousand dollars which sounds great until you realize it was for three years of work.

    Consequently, Lisa went and got a “real job” as a management consultant.  She considers that best career move because she absolutely hated her job—the pantyhose, the commutes, the twelve hour days.  All of it inspired her to continue to write and publish thirteen more romance novels all while holding down a demanding job with grueling hours.  Needing a change, she wrote a suspense novel (which may or may not have included the offing of any bosses that made her work weekends).  Bantam picked it up, made a big promotional push, and Lisa was finally able to throw away the pantyhose and write full-time.

    Nowadays, she enjoys the perks of being a self-supported writer—trips to Quantico for research, working at home, daytime TV.  Since 2007, she has lived in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter.  She spends her time writing in the loft surrounded by a couple of shelties and a three-legged cat.

    When she’s not writing her next thriller, she and her husband share their passion for auto-racing by sponsoring the race car.  Her husband is the driver and she likes ”to remind her husband driver that she is the last one to tighten the lug nuts, so he better behave.”

    Lisa's new book in her D.D. Warren series, Catch Me, is available now.

    To Return or Not to Return - Or, My Life as a Wimp

    February 15, 2012

    I don't know if it's just me, but do any of you find it difficult to return a book to the bookstore?  It seems wrong on some level, akin to returning a package of underwear.  It's just unseemly.  Like I'm trying to return something that you've used "just a little bit."  You see, the trouble is that I had placed "The Scorpio Races" on hold at my local library and then completely forgot about it.  Around ten days later, I was meeting my girlfriends to go see "One For The Money" (that's a whole 'nother story).  I had a couple of minutes to spare, so I dashed into my local Barnes and Noble and BOUGHT a copy of "The Scorpio Races."  The next day, I swear, I received a notice from the library that my request was in.  I had completely forgotten I had placed a hold and rushed over, head full of anticipation for the mysterious book that awaited me on the hold shelf.  Imagine my dismay when I discovered it was the exact same book I had just spent twenty bucks on!  Alas, here is where my dilemma occurred.  Do I take the book back to B&N for a refund?

    Can you return a store-bought book?  I honestly I had no idea.  The logical part says, "Of course, you can. You can return anything. You can return loaded software, altered dresses, bad cheese. Why not a book?"   Because, for me, it felt like returning sexy lingerie.  There is something so intimate about a book that to take one home and then return it felt, I don't know, dirty.  Needless to say, I wussed.  I sucked up the twenty bucks and chalked it up as a loss, head hung low in embarrassment.  I could say that the moral of

    Cassandra Clare - It's All Your Fault!

    January 23, 2012

    Damn you, Cassandra Clare and your Infernal Devices.  If I hadn’t been in such a hellfire hurry to read the Clockwork Prince, I wouldn’t be in the mess I am now.

    Let me start out by saying that I love my Kindle – a lot – but in my burning desire to read the Clockwork Prince minutes after finishing Clockwork Angel (which was hard-cover by the way) I have shot myself in the foot and destroyed my existing Kindle library.

    It all started innocently enough the day after Christmas when I gleefully added my youngest daughter’s new Kindle to my existing account.  We had both received Kindle cards and I was thrilled to activate them.  In my post-holiday haze and stupor I accidently applied the cards to two separate email accounts.  No big deal, I thought, until today (enter the wretched Miss Cassandra Clare).

    Having devoured the Clockwork Angel yesterday, I was salivating for the next book in the series.  Aha! I thought, the perfect opportunity to use my gift card.  Oh, how wrong I was.  It seems that I cannot get a Kindle book on my Kindle due to my Kindle being registered to a different email account.  ARGGGGGH!

    In answer to your questions:  Yes, I did contact Amazon via live chat (pretty cool, by the way), Yes, I did try to transfer the gift card (can’t do it), Yes, I did ask if I could purchase a gift card WITH a gift card and transfer it (nope).  Alas, in my frustrated and desperate state, I did the unthinkable – I deregistered my Kindle and reregistered it to a different email.  I’ll tell you that I was feeling pretty smug with myself when the Clockwork Prince showed up.   That was until I realized that I had lost all of my other content.

    So, in order to alleviate my humiliation at my own stupidity, I blame YOU, Cassandra Clare, for writing such an addictive story that I lost my sanity (and all my Kindle content) getting your next book.  Shame on you (okay, and on me, too).

    Collaboration or Coattails?

    January 13, 2012

    Enquiring minds want to know, right?  So my enquiring mind wants to know why there are so many bestselling authors (Patterson, Evanovich) who are co-writing books these days?  Perhaps I've been oblivious and this arrangement has been around for a long time.  However, doesn't it seem strange that a highly prolific author needs and/or wants to work with another writer?  What is up with that?

    This trend smacks of  to me of "I'll lend your novel some 'cache' by attaching my name to it"-ness.  It's a kind of backdoor approach to elevating the status of less than well-known authors, a coattails approach to marketing, if you will, that obvious has a financial incentive for the branded author as well as the collaborator.  Readers who are devoted fans eagerly await the next installments of their favorite series or just the newest work of a favored author to hit the stands.  (I stand accused of such a crime myself).  I have a niggling feeling that our loyalty (and gullibility) is being used for nefarious, pocketbook-inspired purposes.  I mean, seriously, does Evanovich need yet another book on the bestseller list?  Isn't she busy writing her own projects? Does she really need to collaborate?  Is the creative well running dry?  Oh yeah, I'm talking to you too, Patterson.

    On the optimistic other hand, maybe this is a case of apprenticeship and collaboration. Out of the kindness of their hearts (and a bit of a publisher's nudging) these powerhouse authors are training the next guard, passing the torch - readying them to take over the adventures of beloved characters.  Who knows, maybe these authors are poker buddies or tennis partners or just good friends who all enjoy writing bestselling novels together.  Yeah, that must be it.

    Whatever it is, I've got my skeptical eye on this trend and I'm waiting to see where it's going to lead.

    A Quick Holiday Note

    December 6, 2011

    Let me tell you what I love best about the day after Christmas in my house - the absolute license to do nothing all day.  It's the rare occasion when I feel like it's okay to be idle but today is one of those days.  I have spent the past week in a flurry of shopping, planning, cleaning and cooking which all came to fruition last night as we enjoyed dinner al fresco on a beautiful California Christmas afternoon.  I received wonderful gifts but none is appreciated the same as the gift of lazing about all day reading.  Today, I am indulging myself with a wonderful Mary Balogh historical romance, attending balls and fighting off my growing attraction for a certain dark and dashing gentleman of ill-repute.

    I wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons and hope you find time to enjoy yourselves to the fullest (hopefully with a good book)!

    When Authors Write About Your Neighborhood

    December 6, 2011

    Reading Beth's post on Robyn Carr reminded me of the time I tried to get my mom to read the Virgin River Series based on the setting. My entire family is from Humboldt County, California. I was born in Eureka and my parents were born and raised in the "quaint, Victorian village" known as Ferndale. If you've ever been to Legoland, California, Ferndale is recreated in Miniland. Several major motion pictures have also been filmed there including The Majestic with Jim Carrey. I moved away from Humboldt County when I was five (my dad couldn't handle the weather any longer), but needless to say, I have spent a lot of time there.

    I gave the Virgin River series to my mother, thinking she would enjoy them. Well, she did, but she kept getting caught up in the small details. When you read about a place you know intimately, any error is going to throw you out of the story. My mom called me constantly while she was reading the books. "You can't get from X to Y in under an hour. It would take at least 2 hours." And only you would know that, Mom. Thanks for the call...

    I have to admit that even I was annoyed when in one of Tess Gerritsen's early Harlequin Intrigues, she put a K-Mart in Garberville, a town so small there's really only one road going through it. Yep, that K-Mart is at least an hour away in Eureka.

    Since we live five minutes from Zamperini Field, Art tried to read the big bestseller, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Unfortunately, he couldn't get past the "forests of Torrance" reference in the first chapter. Sorry, Laura, there are no forests here -- the occasional tree, yes, forests, no.

    But sometimes you read books set in your neighborhood because the author gets it right. I love reading Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware books set in West L.A. I lived in that area when I was at UCLA and it's always fun to revisit the locale.

    Can you live with the author getting your neighborhood wrong or does it drive you crazy?

    Author Spotlight: Robyn Carr - A Woman's Woman

    December 6, 2011

          Bestselling author, Robyn Carr, says that one of her readers gave her the greatest compliment by calling her a “woman’s woman”, a writer who understands women’s concerns. Whether she is writing about single or married life, happy or unhappy marriages, Carr seems to be able to articulate the heart of the matter with warmth and humor.
        As a young woman, she set her sights on becoming a nurse, not a writer. According to Carr, she “was an average high school student with greater interest in cheerleading and boys than academics.” She attended college to attain her nursing degree but marriage and children derailed that path and set her on a new one. She married her high school sweetheart, Jim, just a few short weeks before he entered the Officer’s Training School in the Air Force. Due to the need to move from base to base with her husband, Carr was unable to work in nursing and spent a great deal of time alone while he was away. To ease the burden of loneliness and worry, she began to find solace in books. During prescribed bed rest for a difficult pregnancy, she began to read voraciously and discovered a great love for romance books.
         Later, when she began to write herself, it was in the genre of the books she enjoyed so much - Historical Romance. Despite no formal training, in 1980, at the age of 27, she published Chelynne. She continued writing historical and contemporary romances (along with a suspense novel, a non-fiction book on writing, and, as yet, unsold screenplays) for the next 25 years.
         In 2007, her Virgin River series started to hit the bookshelves. This series of contemporary romances is set in the fiction small town (pop. 600) of Virgin River in Humboldt County, California. Virgin River is populated with “retired marines and the independent women they love.” Virgin River has a loyal fan base that created a virtual “Jack’s Bar” based upon the social hub in the book series. (It’s located at
         Carr is a firm believer in the power of positive relationships which is a cornerstone of her personal brand of women’s fiction and a reflection on her own take on real life. Perhaps these are some of the many reasons why she continues to be a force in today’s popular romantic fiction.

    Tea Cups Now. What's Later?

    November 30, 2011

         I recently read the article “Are Tea Cups the Next Chick-Lit Cover Cliché?” by L.V. Anderson at (Kelly recently supplied a link to the article on Facebook).  I found in an interesting and thought-provoking piece.  I confess that, prior to reading the article, I have not given Chick-Lit (or any lit) covers much consideration.  I know, that was quite naïve of me and I consider myself a savvy consumer.

           To summarize the article, the author suggests that the change in covers from high-heels and purses to tea cups is a sign of our economic times and changing value.  Hmmm.  I thinkAndersonhas a valid point.  It’s a bit like hemlines, isn’t it?  Times are good, hemlines go up; times are bad and it’s “cover those knees, ladies”.

                I know that books are often reflections on our cultural identity and values, but tea cups?  Aside from the feminine symbolism, tea cups also connote modesty and demureness -- worthwhile virtues in a post-recession world.  Tea is common and everyday, unlike designer shoes and a nightclub lifestyle.  I’m all for highlighting the virtues of restraint and self-control but I little frivolity is nice too.

                So, my reader friends out there, are you going to be checking to see what the new trend in Chick-Lit covers is going to be?  I’m hoping it’s something a bit less prim than teacups but a lot less scary than broken mirrors.  I’m rooting for rare and beautiful birds (which is what I like to think women are), what about you?

    November 30, 2011

    We are slowly transitioning updating the site to you, our visitors. We are going to be adding themes (sub-genres) next. If you haven't signed up to be an editor, sign up today.

    We are adding a ton of new themes (currently sub-genres) and would love your input since you'll be the ones keeping them updated :) I went through the tags and found a bunch of themes that people are already tracking. Here is the list I have so far. Let me know what themes are missing.

    Sub-Genres and Themes

    I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No

    November 19, 2011

    I've hit a wall.  I currently have ten books stacked on night table, three of which have bookmarks indicated that I've started reading them.  The other seven are on my wait list.  I also have four titles on my Kindle that I've downloaded from the library (yay!).  My problem is that I just can't say no to a book, especially one that's been recommended by a friend or has an intriguing blurb.  Unfortunately, I just can't seem to read them fast enough and their presence is threatening to overtake my bedside table as well as my life.

    I am currently in the midst of a historical romance and two young adult adventure/fantasies.  I do believe that I must be suffering from reader schizophrenia because I also have two thrillers calling out to me from my Kindle.  I think my dilemma stems from the same place as "your eyes are bigger than your stomach".  If people can over-eat (particularly at holidays) can they also over-read?

    My best course of action is going to be portion control -- one book at a time.  However,  that's going to have to wait until I've cleaned my plate.  Unless a book is completely unappetizing, I can't just toss it aside.  That would be wasteful.  I have to finish it.  After the gluttony of the holidays (and extra free time) is over, I will strictly limit my literary intake lest I find myself gorged again, unable to swallow another word.  A steady diet of books is a wonderful thing, as long as it is done in moderation.  (I confess, I once got into a wicked fight with my husband when he accused of reading too much - how absurd!)  So, of being the girl who can't say no, I'll become the girl who just says "soon".  Here's hoping that works.

    The Hopeful Return of Your Neighborhood Bookstore

    November 4, 2011

    I am cautiously optimistic that I am noticing a trend that will continue -- a trend that will bring joy to all readers out there.  No, I’m not talking about tablets or Kindle Fires (which are pretty cool, by the way); I’m talking about the resurgence of your neighborhood bookstore.  In the past week or so, I’ve heard talk of TWO new bookstores in my area.  I can tell you that it has been quite a while since I’ve heard of such an event and I am delighted to think that it may be the start of something old, something new, something great for me and you.

    As many of us know, the demise of our local Borders was a big blow.  My husband and I spent many an hour aimlessly wandering through Borders, meandering from section to section wherever our interests took us.  I might start out perusing the current bestsellers and end up in international travel by the end of the night.  It was wonderful to have so many books at our actual (not virtual) fingertips.  Inevitably we’d walk out with new reading material – nonfiction and magazines for him and a favorite author for me.  It was wonderful.  It was like taking a vacation from our daily grind to explore all the complexities and facets of the world around us.  It was the ultimate “stay-cation”.

    It was with great excitement that I heard the news of these two new establishments.  I checked with the American Booksellers Association website and an article written in February, 2011 did predict that independent booksellers would resurge in order to fill the void left by Borders.  Lo and behold, it appears that this just might be the case and I am delighted.  Avid Bookstore recently opened to great community support in Athens, Georgia and I hope it’s another sign of the public appreciating brick-and-mortar locations, especially those that also offer online services as well.

    As an avid reader, I value the ability to choose my reading material in a variety of ways, whether it’s online, in-store, eBook or physical book.  I am reaping the benefits of the multi-faceted face of publishing.  With the hopeful rise of neighborhood bookstores, I can add one more choice to my book-buying pleasure.

    Changes to List Management

    September 8, 2011

    As I've said on a few Facebook posts, we're in the process of building FictionDB mobile apps. For the first time, someone other than myself will be doing the programming and that's an interesting process. FictionDB has been around since 1999 and its little idiosyncrasies have developed along the way. What's interesting about this app process is explaining to non-FictionDB people what the site does. It's made me examine why certain things work the way the do. When my only response for the question why does it work that way is "I don't know. It's always been that way.", something probably needs to change.

    So, on that note, a few things changed today. Hopefully, you'll think the changes are for the better.

    1) A book can reside on all 3 lists at the same time. This one has been asked for over the years and I honestly don't remember why a book could only be on one list. Did I mention having to answer for strange quirks of the system? Clicking the check mark will remove it from a list and the + sign will add it.

    2) When you rate a book, today's date will automatically fill the date read. The old system used to do this and, again, I can't remember why the new system doesn't. Well, it does now.

    3) The author list management features have totally changed. Clicking on a + sign or the check mark will add any books that don't currently reside on any list to the list clicked. A new link has been added to the right column "my books by this author" that will filter the books by those on your lists.

    4) I've also moved the book detail page around a little to improve readability, but you may not notice too much there.

    You can find the new list management functionality on the icons tour page.

    If you notice something not working correctly, please let us know.

    Fun Evening with the Forever Young Adults

    August 14, 2011

    The website Forever Young Adult just started a book club for adults like me who read a lot of YA. The Los Angeles westside group met for the first time last night to discuss Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

    We had a great time discussing our favorite books. Meeting new book fanatics is always a thrill. I find I'm not alone in my obsession.

    Join a book club in your area -- not just YA, but any type. You'll be really glad you did!

    Just for Fun

    August 9, 2011

    I was just checking out Facebook and in honor of National Book Week people are taking part in this event:  “Grab the closest book to you.  Go to page 56.  Copy the 5th sentence as your status.  Don’t mention the book.”

    I thought this was a really fun idea and decided to “borrow” it for the blog.  So friends, feel free to write that sentence as a comment and post it.  Above all, keep reading and have fun!

    What's in a Name?

    August 9, 2011

    During my recent reading of Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead I started thinking about the importance of character names.  In particular, the name Vic Willing stuck with me.  Was this character a “willing victim” or was there another, deeper connotation?  The same held true for the title character, Claire DeWitt (clarity of wits?).

    All this left me pondering the significance of character names.  Some are so subtly crafted that we don’t even notice it.  Every name is evocative.  Don’t we all remember this from analyzing literature in high school?  I recall discussing the significance of the name Miss Havisham from Dickens’ Great Expectations – how her life has become a sham of its former glory, how her young love had been a sham, etc.  I’m sure other interpretations exist, but I remember that one from my junior year English class.  Consequently, I’ve been looking a little closer at character names lately.

    Names can clue a reader into whether a character is plain, exotic, rich, poor, educated, bold, or beautiful.  They breathe life into a character even before actions reveal that character’s deeper makeup.  Sometimes author’s create a name that evokes a character trait, like Emma Sharpe in Carla Negger’s Saint’s Gate.  This character is “sharp” as in clever.   How about Jesse Stone?  Doesn’t that name make you think of him as hard, immovable, a rock of a man?

    Names can be so important to creating a memorable character yet they must not be so overt as to be annoying.  I can’t stand it when a name is blatant.   They require a certain subtly.  If not handled carefully, they can become a parody and a distraction.  However, when crafted carefully, they add another dimension to the character and the story.  An excellent example of this skill is apparent throughout the Harry Potter series.  I love the name Draco Malfoy, how it connotes nastiness and malcontent.  It’s perfect, like so many other names Rowling crafted.  She is a master at creating a name that IS a character unto itself.

    So, my question to you is, what are some of your favorite character names and why?  Or, conversely, what are some of the worst?

    News: Loveswept Revival Coming in August, 2011

    June 23, 20011

    Good news Romance Readers!  Remember the Loveswept imprint from Bantam in the 1980s and 1990s?  Well, Random House is reviving it as an e-book only line using the tagline “Love stories you’ll never forget by authors you’ll always remember.”  The line will launch in August, 2011 in North America, the United Kingdom, and the British Commonwealth.  It will release one title per month and the launch list includes This Fierce Splendor by Iris Johansen, Remember the Time by Annette Reynolds, Tall, Dark and Lonesome by Debra Dixon, Legends by Deb Smith, The Vow by Juliana Garnett, The Baron by Sally Goldenbaum, Lighting That Lingers by Sharon and Tom Curtis, and Dream Lover by Adrienne Staff.  The books will be released with new packaging as well as bonus material available to the U.S. market.

    New Romance Line from Amazon

    May 26, 2011

    Amazon recently announced that it will enter the romance market with its fall launch of Montlake Romance.  Amazon currently offers AmazonEncore and AmazonCrossing imprints but the new line will operate more along the lines of a traditional publishing house.  Montlake will be competing with other publishers for romance authors.   Amazon has remained guarded about its future publishing plans, but it is believed that the retail giant will also foray into other genres such as mystery.  Amazon plans on distributing its Montlake titles both online and in physical retailers.

    The first Montlake title, The Other Guy’s Bride by Connie Brockway, will be available November 1, 2011.

    FictionDB's 2011 BEA Book Bag Awards

    May 26, 2011

    For many, BEA (Book Expo America) is all about the free books, but all those books have to be stored, shown off, and schlepped around. Which is why FictionDB has "The BEA Bag Awards". Bags are the silent heroes of BEA, and we want to commend the good and help the bad improve for the future.

    The Anatomy of a Good Bag Handles -- They have to be long enough to fit comfortably onto the shoulder, wide enough to not cut into you, and of a material (preferably fabric) that doesn't slip. We can't stress this enough. If a handle isn't a good length and a decent width then the bag is rendered nearly useless for carrying a heavy load of books -- unless you like holding the bag in your hand...which we don't recommend unless you like numb hands and broken fingers.

      Material -- There are lots of materials for bags, but we feel that canvas is what it's all about. Canvas is durable, washable, and comfortable against your body. We give a nod to bags that are made of a heavy duty plastic exterior. Unlike canvas, these bags have the ability to portray vivid colors and pictures, and with their slippery bottoms, are excellent for dragging along the expo floor.

      Rigidity -- A bag must be firm enough to stand up on it's own, so that books can be placed into it without a fight. Many of the bags we saw on the floor this year were made of sad, thin, slippery material that couldn't hold itself up.

    Shape -- Since this is a book event and books are rectangular in nature, we like a square or rectangular bag. It just holds books better. Also the bottom MUST BE rectangular so it can stand upright.

      Size -- Distribution of weight is a key feature to a good bag. Big is better right? No! When dealing with heavy items like books, a medium to small sized bag is best. It stops the user from overfilling.

      Branding -- We don't really care about this as much as the other features, but it's something we think about. Someone paid money to create the bag to market their product, so if you don't know what that product is, or can't tell who made the bag, well, that just seems sad to us.

    Look -- Like FictionDB, bags are a tool -- a resource to use. Therefore, functionality is key which is why, just like FictionDB strives to look good while being the ultimate place for information on fiction, we expect a bag to look good while being functional too.

    So with all that out of the way, let’s move on to the winners in each category!

      The "Where Did You Get That?!" Bag
    Stone Arch Books/Capstone With it's long handles and great look it was the number one bag people asked about. We felt it was a bit too big, and the plastic handles were already coming apart by the third day, but it was usable and looked gooood!


    The "Everybody's Using It" Bag
    I Wonder Why/ Kingfisher Made of a durable plastic, having long handles, a great shape and rigidity, it was well branded and the perfect size which is probably why we saw this bag everywhere and found ourselves reaching for it every morning.

    The "Sad Sack" Bag Bloodlines / Razorbill Wrong on so many levels. The bag was made of a too-thin, t-shirt-like material that allowed books to poke you. The handles are too short, too thin, and roll up to gouge you. The branding looks great but who wants to use it? Shown below with the awesome Mulholland bag which gets it all right for that size.

    The "So Close it Hurts" Bag Every Day a Friday/Faithwords This bag woulda, coulda, shoulda been great. Made of durable canvas with sexy rivets, and great branding, the handles were just woefully too short. We can, however, recommend this bag to very small people with very thin arms.

    The "Get's the Job Done" Bag Ingram A little on the large side, but well proportioned with good branding. It’s functional and we saw quite a few of them around the show.

    The "Aww! It's So Cute!" Bag Priddy Books With it's super cute art, long, soft handles, and canvas material this bag is a real gem. It's a bit too small for daily use on the expo floor, but it's a bag people asked about, wanted, and we can see ourselves using at many a farmers markets in the future.

    The "Not For BEA But Totally Love it Later" Bags HarperOne/Angel Burn Carrier bags and back packs rock! These are both great and although we didn't want to use them at show, we can't wait to use them for book fairs and on the airplane.

    The "Epic Fail" Bag McGraw Hill Some might be surprised that such a nice looking bag (and one we saw a lot of people using) won this award, but the thing is, this bag fails on too many levels. Everyone we spoke to said that in years past it was their favorite bag. One attendee even brought her old one back to use this year! But this year’s bag had lots of complaints -- serious breakage problems. The handles kept busting off and a full bag would break out through the bottom. Let's hope in the future McGraw Hill goes back to their old material for a better bag.

    The Bag to Rule Them All Abrams The Cadillac of bags. Thick canvas with a bold logo. Long, extra wide straps with a snazzy red stripe and cute white stitching. It was unanimously loved by all for comfort and durability. Long lasting and multi-purpose, we see ourselves using it for years to come.

    So what makes the perfect book bag for you?