Posted by: Katie | June 20, 2014

Author websites

Earlier today, I posted two related tweets:

The background for these tweets was that I was trying to find when a particular book was first published for something I was doing at work. I always treat the author’s website as the first source for authoritative information about her/his books. Sadly, not every author agrees with me on this. I was very frustrated because, not only could I not find the information I was looking for, but the website was flat out fugly. It looked like an amateur site from the 1990s, only missing the marquee and blinking text. This is for an author who I know damn well has done very well for herself monetarily if her rabid fans are anything to go by. I could not believe that someone who obviously has built her career up to this point on word of mouth could have such a shitty website. Note, I did not publicly name the author in my tweets, nor will I. Why? Because her website looks just fine on my home computer using the same browser. It’s shitty on my work computer because of various security lockdowns which do not allow the JavaScript in her menu to work as intended. That’s a very different issue from intentional bad design. The only comment I’ll say about that to authors whether you are doing your website yourself or if you’re contracting it out to someone: CSS (cascading style sheets) is your friend.

This all led to my asking on Twitter what information people expected to find on author websites. Here’s a list in no particular order, but I’ve starred the ones I think are especially important as a librarian who expects your website to be the authoritative information source about your work (yes, I’m trying to lay down some Irish Catholic guilt on you):

  • Information about upcoming releases*
  • Publication history about previously published works whether they are currently in print or not* – double points for printable (we librarians have patrons who still really prefer getting a piece of paper from us)
  • Reading order information for series* (this includes “you don’t have to read these in order!”) – again, printable
  • Contact information* – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, other social media du jour, email (maybe I’d like to book you for a program if I were to book programs for my library), newsletter sign up link/form
  • Biography – @surlyspice suggests two: 1 brief and 1 expanded
  • Excerpts from past, current, and upcoming releases
  • Every cover that your book has ever had*
  • Direct links to where to buy your books

I especially liked this response:

Another common refrain in the responses is to keep your site updated. For example, on your upcoming releases list, the most recently announced book is from 2012. Really? Build it in to your schedule to update your website at least every six months, but you should really be doing it any time any information about your books changes.

For those who are considering building or rebuilding a website, I hope you find this information useful. My fellow librarians and I (as well as *your readers*) thank you.

Posted by: Katie | June 1, 2014

May reads

It’s a wonder that I’ve read as much as I have this month as alter ego spent a week in New Orleans attending the RT Booklovers Convention, and I just got home yesterday from four and a half days in New York for Book Expo America. Obviously, the depressive bug that hit me and that I talked about in my last post has gone into remission.

Read

  • What Angels Fear by CS Harris – I’ve been meaning to try this series for years. I can’t remember what made me finally read this, but I think I may have gotten the ebook on sale for something like $3. Suffice it to say that when I was coming out of the depressive episode, I wanted to try something new. This worked very well for me on a number of levels. I’ve got a soft spot for historicals where a main character is dealing with PTSD. I don’t know why, but I find it intriguing how an author deals with a condition that is relatively well-known, if not that well-understood, today, but few people could even claim to begin to understand prior to World War I. I like the range of characters in this series, and Sebastian St. Cyr is an intriguing main character. First in the Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series.
  • When Gods Die by CS Harris – Second in the series, this cements Sebastian’s interest in investigation beyond him having an immediate personal stake in discovering the truth of the matter.
  • Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop – This is the second in the series centering around the Others. I’ve heard about it from friends since the first, Written in Red, came out last year. You’ll note that I haven’t recorded Written in Red. This is because I annotated it for work and have yet to carve out the time to go back and read it fully. However, after annotating Written in Red, I *had* to find out what else is going on with the characters and brought MoC home with me. I promptly read the entire book that night and was up *way* too late. In other words, this is a series made of crack if you like urban fantasy.
  • It Happened One Wedding by Julie James – Fifth in her FBI/US Attorney connected series and another author that I find crackalicious. I waited until the RT Booklovers Convention so I could get a signed copy of this. I read about a chapter that night before I had to set it aside to continue with convention activities. I saved the rest of it for my plane trip home. I was thankful when the plane was delayed in getting into the gate once we were back on the ground at home so that I’d have more reading time. I read the last page as my second checked bag was making its way to me on the carousel. Julie writes fabulously sweet (in terms of the emotion, because she can write a damn hot sex scene) romance with characters who are assertive in what they want out of life. For fans of contemporary romance. Also, I bought a gift copy of the ebook for my parents, neither of whom are romance readers, to share with them a story I really, really enjoyed reading. Also, James has dropped in a couple of Easter eggs to books not directly part of the series.
  • Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick – This reminded me of Quick’s early novels from 1990s which I read in high school. Definitely a modern take, and I think one that might be enjoyed by many readers of historical romance. Though, I think the appreciation level might be higher with long-time Quick readers.

Reread

  • Love Irresistibly by Julie James – After reading IHOW, I decided I absolutely needed to reread at least this story which is the one immediately previous to IHOW. This reread then snowballed into the next two. Suffice it to say, that if you like one Julie James book, make time to binge on them.
  • Something About You by Julie James – The first of James’ FBI/US Attorney connected books.
  • A Lot Like Love by Julie James – The second in the series.

Listened to

  • None

Novella

  • The Kraken King, Part IV: The Kraken King and the Inevitable Abduction by Meljean Brook – see part 7
  • The Kraken King, Part V: The Kraken King and the Iron Heart by Meljean Brook – see part 7
  • The Kraken King, Part VI: The Kraken King and the Crumbling Walls by Meljean Brook – see part 7
  • The Kraken King, Part VII: The Kraken King and the Empress’s Eyes by Meljean Brook – As this serial continues on, I grow more and more impressed with Brook’s writing ability. She’s cemented me as a fan and I will trust her wherever she wants to lead me. I’ve greatly anticipated each Tuesday since the first part released and was cursing myself for forgetting to download part five before I left my apartment to fly to New Orleans. I thanked the airport gods for the free wifi. If you do not like cliffhangers (and see Brook’s discussion of how she defines them), you might want to save reading part seven until part eight releases, but that’s in two days, so most of you should be okay :) This is definitely a serial (it will be released as a full novel at some point in the next year) that will appeal to fans of adventure science fiction (steampunk) stories.

Children’s

  • None

Total read in May: 12
Total read in 2014: 34

Posted by: Katie | May 8, 2014

February, March & April reads

I so meant to post this a lot earlier, and monthly! March and April turned into nutty months for me with schedule disruptions between library and romance conferences, moving into a new apartment, and a coworker retiring. For the most part I handled it well, and attributed my low reading level to being short on time to read. For the most part, it was. Were it not for audiobooks and novellas, I don’t know if I would have finished reading anything in March or April. However, as is often the case with me, my low reads also signified a brief bout of depression. Since I have noticed the trend in the past, I did consider if depression was part of the cause, but, of course, depression lies. It told me it was nowhere in the picture. My low reading was all due to stress and just not having enough time. Think Carol Kane in The Princess Bride shouting “LIAHR!” It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago when I had the physical manifestations of depression (for me) with being unable to move my body when I knew I should be up doing something that I realized it was indeed depression I was dealing with. Thankfully for me, my bouts of depression are usually short-lived and the physical symptoms usually signal the end of them. I’m still stressed as alter ego will be at the RT convention next week, with a few days back in the office before heading out to Book Expo America which means May is virtually shot for me in terms of day job productivity. But! The depression has ebbed away so I’m feeling very positive and happy and am back to reading at a quicker pace.

Read

  • The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams – ARC provided by publisher. I loved this! Beatriz’s storytelling style really works for me. I enjoy the dueling timelines with the way her writing voice works. This storytelling construct is a hard one for an author to pull off for me as a reader. I especially liked Violet’s story, and how there was a loose tie to “A Hundred Summers”. Out 5/27.
  • The Masterful Mr. Montague by Stephanie Laurens – ARC provided by publisher. I was a bit disappointed with this story, and I think it was because it would have worked better as a novella since the romance was no more than 50% of the story and it felt like it was supposed to be the primary reason for the book. However, I obviously finished it, so I think this might work best for established fans of Laurens. Part of her “The Casebook of Barnaby Adair” subseries.
  • Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase – ARC provided by publisher. A rousing end to her Dressmakers series. I’m looking forward to rereading it.
  • Loving Rose by Stephanie Laurens – ARC provided by publisher. This worked *a lot* better for me than Montague’s story. I think because the romance story line was given more time on the page than in Montague and you could really understand why the couple was together. If this is going to be a continuing series, which I wouldn’t be opposed to, I’m perfectly fine with it having a stable main cast solving a “case of the week” with a side of romance here and there. Part of her “The Casebook of Barnaby Adair” subseries.

Reread

  • None

Listened to

  • Northern Lights by Nora Roberts – annual-ish re-listen
  • Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich – Because I love listening to Lorelei King.
  • Affair by Amanda Quick – I got this through work, so no comment on narration. This one took me a while to get through, but definitely a story that I’d recommend to historical romance readers who like a suspense element and would prefer a story on the edges of the typical society setting.
  • Trust Me On This by Jennifer Crusie – No comment on narration. Older story of hers and you can see a lot of the themes she’d go on to develop in later books.
  • Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie – annual-ish relisten
  • Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie – annual-ish relisten

Novella

  • The Peculiar Case of Lord Finsbury’s Diamonds by Stephanie Laurens – Self-published and part of “The Casebook of Barnaby Adair” subseries. Tightly focused on the romance, and it worked well.
  • The Kraken King, part I: The Kraken King and the Scribbling Spinster by Meljean Brook – See below
  • The Kraken King, part II: The Kraken King and the Abominable Worm by Meljean Brook – See below
  • The Kraken King, part III: The Kraken King and the Fox’s Den by Meljean Brook – The first three parts of this serial set in the Iron Seas world is working very well for me. Brook ends each part with you craving more, but not about to go insane from waiting. I like how she’s crafted each installment to move the story forward, but allow the reader some closure of plot points and character motivations. A must read for anyone who enjoys adventure stories.

Children’s

  • Crankenstein by Samantha Berger – Definitely a book I want to pick up for my nephews and niece.

Total read in February, March, and April: 15
Total read in 2014: 22

Posted by: Katie | February 9, 2014

Steal This Idea: Six Degrees of Movie Programming

I got this idea when I realized that both movies I’ve watched this afternoon, Romancing the Stone & Johnny Dangerously, both had Danny DeVito in them. I then got to thinking that I should spend one Saturday watching six movies that connected one by one. I gave it some further thought and figured it didn’t have to be limited to actors, but also include writers and directors. Mainly because if I wanted to continue on this thread, I could move on to Practical Magic because Griffin Dunne stars as Tommy Kelly in Johnny Dangerously and directed Practical Magic. Hopefully, you get the idea. The real trick is figuring out a sixth movie that somehow ties back into the first movie.

If you were doing this in a library, you could add another layer of fun by doing it over a six week period and give a prize to the patron who could guess the connections between the movies.

Posted by: Katie | February 1, 2014

January reads

New year, fresh start! I had a bit of a hard time sorting out what I wanted to start reading at the beginning of the year. I ended up deciding to ease myself into the new year with a couple of rereads. That helped. I think this year is going to see me reading more novellas and shorter novels, but we’ll see what gets published :D

Read

  • Thankless in Death by JD Robb – I’m all caught up in the series!! I really liked this one as it played with the concept of family and celebrations.
  • Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare – Full disclosure: I’m listed in the acknowledgements. However, this caught me by surprise when I opened the ebook to read it as I was waiting on the dentist to fit me with a temporary crown. As I wanted to keep reading the book while my mouth was pried open and getting worked on, that should give you an idea as to how addictive this story is. With *many* nods to fan fiction and the romance community, this is a very fun read.
  • River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz – This was an interesting read for me. JAK’s avoided paranormal elements for the first time in about five years, so this is a straight romantic suspense. What really struck me is that the main characters, while absolutely feeling adult, definitely felt younger than me–though absolutely appropriate for their ages. Definite props to JAK on that.

Reread

  • Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett – When I realized this was the first time I’ve reread this book, I was a bit surprised. I really enjoy the crazy, almost madcap, adventure of it. What I was able to put my finger on is that this is a tough book to read due to the use of language. The fun is absolutely worth it, but it does take a bit longer to read than other books.
  • Archangel’s Storm by Nalini Singh – Another first reread of this book for me. I love Jason, and was shocked that I hadn’t reread it before. Then I got to the section at the end of the book which is like ten pages of ugly cry. Fabulous book, and worth it, but yeah, have the tissues ready.

Listened

  • None finished

Novella

  • Ashes & Alchemy by Cindy Spencer Pape – the latest in her Gaslight Chronicles series. I really enjoyed this one and look forward to the next one. I like that she stepped out of the inner circle she’s been dealing with in the last few stories, while at the same time still smoothly incorporating them into the story.

Children’s

  • A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant – Very interesting picture book. Great story of how to find a way to do what you love after significant disadvantages–in this case, no opportunity for formal training and permanent injury.

Total read in January: 7
Total read in 2014: 7

Posted by: Katie | December 31, 2013

2013 in books

So, my first book read in 2013 was a children’s book (The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce) and the last book I finished in 2013 was a children’s book (Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Hearts by Julie Cummins). There’s an obvious reason why I was never a math major (in fact, I got out of having to take the “remedial” math class in college by taking Stats). I just broke down the types of books I read in 2013. However, the total did not match the one I listed in the previous post done less than an hour ago. I went back through, and I messed up first in February by including the bullet points for the nones in my count, and somehow added an additional book in the total through the course of the year. Which means, my total read for 2013 is 75 and not 78. However, it’s a nice round number.

The breakdown of the types of books I read were:

  • 32 “Reads” which are essentially new-to-me novels.
  • 8 “Rereads” which are novels I’ve read at least once before the tally year.
  •  15 “Listened tos” which are audiobooks of any length, but typically are novels.
  • 12 “Novellas” which are typically under 40,000 words in length.
  • 8 “Children’s” which generally are picture books.

As usual, the overwhelming number of books I read were romance novels, though I do not keep specific count of genres. This year saw the month with the lowest number of total reads (4 in October), and is the lowest total since the year after I came off of a book award to committee. I did not keep annual counts before the committee year. The biggest reason for the decrease in total is because I recommitted to my writing career and focused on producing more rough work. I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams by writing just over 180,000 words. A little more than 175,000 of those words were written since June 1st. A number of those stories were polished up, edited, and submitted to various venues and one story was accepted for publication in an upcoming anthology. Since this is my fiction, feel free to ask me in person what my pseudonym is. If writing more means reading less, then I’ll have to accept that trade off. I’m eyeing 2015 as the year where I take a few vacation days from the day job and do nothing but work on decreasing the “to be read” pile. How was your 2013?

Posted by: Katie | December 31, 2013

November and December reads

Since I didn’t post November’s list on time, I figured I should probably get this post up a little early. Especially as I know I won’t be finishing any more books this year :) The majority (by a slight margin) of these were read in December. But that’s relatively easily explained by the fact I was writing the first draft of a novella at the start of November. Speaking of, the next post will be a reflective wrap up of the year.

Read

  • Kinked by Thea Harrison – Latest in her Elder Races series. Well worth the wait and very worthy of Aryal who I truly have enjoyed as a character since the first book.
  • The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas – I started reading this at work when I was only supposed to be editing the annotation (rather than annotating it myself) the day before Thanksgiving, and promptly bought a digital copy so I could finish reading it on the plane home the next day. Loved it.
  • Long Live the Queen by Kate Locke – Latest in her Immortal Empire series. I really loved it and am curious where the series is going to go next. I hope there’s more to it!
  • Hostage by Kay Hooper – Latest in her Bishop/SCU/Haven series. Really enjoyed it. Got it from the library.
  • If Wishes Were Earls by Elizabeth Boyle – ARC provided by the publisher – Released today – Completion of her Rhymes with Love trilogy. I enjoyed it a lot. I had to set it down after I first started it, and I think that had more to do with my mental state rather than the story as I really wanted to continue reading it. Obviously, I did come back to it and finished :)
  • Reaver by Larissa Ione – Latest in her Lords of Deliverance/Demonica series. Definitely better to read these stories in order as a lot of the base plot/characterization is built up in earlier novels. Really enjoyed and am looking forward to the next story.

Reread

  • None – Shocking. I know. Technically, I have been doing some rereading, but it’s mainly scenes rather than whole books. Though the two books in the next section are rereads.

Listened to

  • Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie – I got this through work, but it was the Brilliance edition. The narration was fine, and it was interesting to revisit Crusie’s earlier work.
  • Absolutely, Positively by Jayne Ann Krentz – Another one through work, but this was a work edition, so no comment on narration. This was from JAK’s iffy period for me, though I thought it was one of the better ones, and was the one that kept the spark alive through the low period. It’s kind of interesting to be reminded that while JAK’s core stories do age well, she becomes dated in clothing descriptions quickly.

Novella

  • Midsummer Night by Deanna Raybourn – Interim story in her Lady Julia series. Very enjoyable.
  • Silent Night by Deanna Raybourn – Interim story in Lady Julia series. Again very enjoyable.
  • The Principle of Desire by Delphine Dryden – #3 in her Science of Temptation series. Loved it!
  • The Seduction Hypothesis by Delphine Dryden – #2 in the Science of Temptation series. I’d forgotten I hadn’t read this yet until I started reading PoD. Obviously this is a series you don’t absolutely have to read in order, though the characters are all part of a close group of friends.

Children’s

  • Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Hearts by Julie Cummins – This is actually the last book I’ve completed reading. As I have a bit of a fascination with early aviators, especially those from the 1920’s, this was a fun little book. It’s got a great message of not letting a *huge* setback stop you from doing what you love.

Total read in November and December: 13
Total read in 2013: 78

Posted by: Katie | November 2, 2013

October reads

Well, this year is definitely shaping up to be one of my lower reads in my recorded history. Which, for as long as I’ve been reading, isn’t all that long. I’m just thankful I’ve broken through the 1 book/week average mark. This month was a low month for me. In fact, tallying them up, this may take the record for the least amount read in a month since I started keeping track. Looking back at what happened during the month, it doesn’t surprise me. Things did pick up toward the end of the month, so that’s something. Also, all of my new reads were in series I particularly enjoy. While not my usual comfort of rereads, but a very close second.

Read

  • Calculated in Death by JD Robb – Definitely more on the mystery side of the series. I liked the plot and appreciated the weaving in of elements from previous stories. One of these days, I think I need to tackle a reread of the whole series…at least the novels.
  • Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh – Latest in her Guild Hunter series. I may have purposefully gone to bed extra early Monday night so I wouldn’t be tempted to open my ereader at midnight to frantically download my pre-ordered copy. As it was, I fought with my various devices on the way to work on Tuesday to get it to load on one of them so I could read on my commute. I adore this series, and think this was a great entry into it with the way it advanced the relationship with Elena and Raphael, while at the same time raising the stakes in the world they inhabit.

Reread

  • None

Listened to

  • Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer – if you don’t know my feelings about this book by this point, you haven’t been reading this blog that long.

Novella

  • Dragos Takes a Holiday by Thea Harrison – ARC provided by author – I was giddy when I saw this went up for reviewers on one of the egalley sites, and even giddier when my request for it was approved. This is a favorite series of mine, and Harrison did not disappoint. When I finished it, I immediately went back and reread all of the parts with the Peanut. From an RA standpoint, I definitely would not hand this to someone who hasn’t at least read Dragon Bound and Lord’s Fall. Compared to those two, however, this is a very sweet story.

Children’s

  • None

Total read in October: 4
Total read in 2013: 65

Posted by: Katie | October 3, 2013

September books

Last month was a pretty good reading month for me considering how busy I was during it. With the exception of Labor Day weekend, I was out doing things every weekend of the month for the whole weekend. That I was able to read as much as I did, I’ll count as a total win.

Read

  • Delusion in Death by JD Robb – Really enjoyed this entry into the series. Definitely more mystery-heavy, and fairly gruesome details of the crimes.
  • Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen – ARC received from the publisher – I *love* Allen’s previous books and this is her first after dealing with breast cancer. The romance in this one was lighter than in some of the previous titles, and there were parts where I was ugly crying. So, yeah, good book. Out in February.
  • No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah Maclean – ARC provided by publisher – Another author I really love. This is the latest in her Rules of Scoundrels series. There were some really sweet parts of this story that went along with the spicy. Sarah’s definitely going to be nominated for awards with this one. The epilogue beyond the first page of it is embargoed, so I’m looking forward to when it releases in November to discover the true identity of the last Scoundrel.
  • Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer – ARC provided by publisher – This was an unusual story. I enjoyed the author’s voice, and the premise of a serial killer in 1915 San Francisco. I had some issues with the structure of the story because of the glossing over of certain time frames. Mainly, the trainsitions in places were not as smooth as they could have been. However, definitely for those who like historical mysteries wih paranormal and romantic elements.

Reread

  • Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn – Reread of one of my favorite stories by Quinn. Sebastian rocks as a hero.

Listened to

  • What Happens in London by Julia Quinn – I’d actually forgotten this was the prequel to Ten Things until I started listening to it. Very sweet story, and the narrator was very good.
  • Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn – Acquired through work. This was an interesting story due to the setting and the eventual perpetrator of the crime Lady Julia and Brisbane are investigating. I also admit to ugly crying in parts.

Novella

  • None

Childrens

  • None

Total read in September: 7
Total read in 2013: 61

Posted by: Katie | September 2, 2013

August reads

It’s not much, but I feel like it’s a lot especially considering the length of a few of the books. Part of this is because I’ve been furiously writing my own fiction. I finished the first draft of a novel, and started a novella. The time that I’d usually be listening to audiobooks is also being used for listening to podcasts. This month I decided to focus on clearing out my To Be Read (TBR) mountain. This trend will be continuing in future months :)

Read

  • Alien in the House by Gini Koch – Latest in the Katherine “Kitty” Katt series. It took me a while to get into it, but I enjoyed it. The overarching story of the series continues to move along.
  • An Invitation to Sin by Sarah Morgan – copy provided by the author – Loved it. Both of the characters accept their flaws, and work at being mature. What I really love about Sarah’s Harlequin Presents titles is that I never feel like they’re angst for angst’s sake. Plus, she writes some very smoking scenes :)
  • Sinner’s Heart by Zoe Archer – Conclusion to the Hellraisers trilogy. I really enjoyed this. The whole series is an interesting mix of paranormal elements, adventure, and a not-common historical setting.
  • Rogue Rider by Larissa Ione – Conclusion to her Lords of Deliverance quartet. I’ve had this sitting on my ereader for almost a year, had started it and had never gone back. I thought I’d just skip over it and go straight to the sequel book, Reaver, that is releasing later this year. I’m glad I didn’t. There’s a lot of set up in this story for Reaver. However, I also feel like this set up pulled attention away from the main characters. As a long time reader of the series, I was able to (mostly) follow along, but if you were to pick this up first, you’d probably feel lost and not be a happy reader.
  • Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts – I enjoyed this. I’ve got other titles of hers I’d rank ahead of this one as favorites, but this is definitely one I’d reread before some others. I liked both main characters as well as quite a few of the secondary characters and they struck me as people I’d enjoy hanging out with if they were real people.

Reread

  • None

Listened to

  • None

Novella

  • None

Children’s

  • None

Total read in August: 5
Total read in 2013: 54

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