The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 3-9-14

Sunday Post

The good thing about being married is that you share things with your spouse. The bad thing is that the sharing sometimes means that you share being sick. I spent most of the week down with a sinus infection, and then I was generous and gave it to my husband.

The good thing (there was one) about the sinus infection was that I spent a lot of time reading. The bad thing is that I have a ton of reviews to write, because sitting at a keyboard and leaning forward hurt like hell. And made my nose run.

Speaking of “real life”, I’ve just become a member of the American Library Association Notable Books Council. Which does just what it sounds, pick the “notable books” of the year. It means I’ll be reading more literary fiction and nonfiction this year, which should be interesting. There’s also a bit of secrecy to the whole thing, since we’re not allowed to say which books are even being considered. So don’t ask!

Current Giveaways:

The Obsidian Heart by Mark T. BarnesIt’s Always Been You by Jessica Scott (ebook) ENDS 3/10
$25 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Nina Croft ENDS 3/10

Winner Announcements:

$10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card in the Leap Into Books Giveaway – the winner is Ashfa A.
Paperback copy of Cider Brook by Carla Neggers – the winner is Courtney W.
Signed copy of The Obsidian Heart by Mark T. Barnes – the winner is Jo J.

never deal with dragons by lorenda christensenBlog Recap:

A- Review: Bittersweet Darkness by Nina Croft + Giveaway
A Review: Never Deal with Dragons by Lorenda Christensen
C+ Review: Deceiving Lies by Molly McAdams
B Review: Death Defying by Nina Croft + Giveaway
A- Review: It’s Always Been You by Jessica Scott + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (79)

slam dance with the devil by nico rossoComing Next Week:

Slam Dance with the Devil by Nico Rosso (review)
Good Together by CJ Carmichael (review)
The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan (review by Cass)
Retribution by Anderson Harp (blog tour review)
Unleashed by Emily Kimelman (blog tour review)

What’s on my (mostly virtual) nightstand? 1-22-12

I am in Dallas at the American Library Association Midwinter Convention. Connectivity is decent, so this post is coming to you from my room, and not from the hotel bar. I’m not sure whether that’s the good news or the bad news.

The biggest problem with any kind of ALA Conference is the exhibit hall floor. The exhibits are miles and miles of carpet over concrete, and endless walking. There is no thrill of victory, there is only the endless agony of the feet.

And, because I want to get on more publishers’ direct lists for reviews, I left my card at every fiction publisher’s booth…and I picked up Advance Reading Copies. Well, I couldn’t very well say I wanted to review their books without actually picking up some books to review, now could I?

I just took a look at what’s on my TBR (is that To Be Read or To Be Reviewed?) list for January 31 and February 1 and wanted to avert my eyes. Then I scrolled through the rest of February and decided it’s not so bad after all. There’s a lot for 1/31 and 2/1, but not much after. I’ll catch up. But let’s just deal with the 1/31 books this week. February is a whole other month, right?

How to Dance with a Duke by Manda Collins caught my eye on NetGalley because the heroine is a wallflower and a bluestocking and involved an exclusive academic society. It reminded a tiny bit of Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody Emerson books. Whether the heroine does or not, well, the reading will be the proof of that.

Horizon is book 3 in Sophie Littlefield’s Aftertime series. Aftertime is a dystopian series about one of the few survivors of the zombie apocalypse, and I heard a lot of terrific things about the series. When this book popped up on NetGalley, I grabbed it. But in my usual completist fashion, I need to read through the series to get to it, so before Horizon, there is Survivors (prequel novella), Aftertime, and Rebirth ahead of me.

And slightly out of the usual for me, I have The Mountain of Gold by J.D. Davies. This is adventure on the high seas, similar to Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander series, which I read and loved, all 20 books of it. The difference is that O’Brian’s series took place during the Napoleonic Wars, and Davies series concerns the Restoration period, about a century and a half earlier. Yes, I said series. The Mountain of Gold is the second book. I still need to read the first book Gentleman Captain. (At least I don’t have to worry about running out of time on The Mountain of Gold from NetGalley. I found a print ARC at the conference.)

As I expected I haven’t been able to take many books off my nightstand while I’ve been at the conference. Too many meetings, too little time.

I did finish up Todd Grimson’s Stainless, because I started it on the plane from Atlanta. The story was weird, mostly in a good way. Obsessive love, obsessive hate and an endless quest to feel anything at all make for quite a story. I’m reviewing this for Book Lovers Inc, and I’ll write it up after I get home.

I’m in the middle of The Canvas Thief by P. Kirby, and so far, I like it better than a lot of the other reviewers did.  I’ve also finished The Stubborn Dead by Natasha Hoar, and that review will be up early this week. My short take on The Stubborn Dead is that it is excellent but too darn short!

I’ll need to pick one of the ARCs off the pile for at least part of the trip home. It is so annoying when they make me turn off my iPad. It’s not just any electronic device–it’s a book!

Tomorrow is Dreamspinner’s turn on Ebook Review Central, with a whopping 59 titles for December 2011. Don’t forget to tune in!




What’s on my (mostly virtual) nightstand? 1-15-12

Martin Luther King Day is tomorrow. No mail. No school. It’s a day off for a lot of people. But I’ll be working, Galen will be working. There’s no rest for the wicked, as my mom usually says to me. (And I fully recognize the implication!)

Mid-January in this library household means one other thing–the impending doom of the American Library Association Midwinter Conference. January 20-24, this year in Dallas, Texas. At least it might be warm? (2010 was in Denver, 2013 will be in Philadelphia, this point is very much NOT moot.)

ALA Midwinter is a major household disruption. We bring out suitcases. The cats hate suitcases. The suitcases take their people away! They might have to train new staff. This is very bad.

But the conference represents major headaches all the way around. In June in New Orleans, our hotel did not have connectivity in the rooms, so I only posted once, using Galen’s iPhone as my net connection. Not fun. This conference, I admit I’m going to queue up as much as I can, just in case connectivity is a tad “iffy”.

On the one hand, plane rides are still a terrific opportunity for reading. Not to mention that lovely extra two-hour wait ahead of the flight for “security”. On the other hand, ALA conferences are a sea of Advance Reading Copies, unfortunately all print. What’s a girl to do?

I have four books to read on the airplane on my way to and from Dallas, because these are scheduled for release January 24. Except I really only have three.

Heiress Without a Cause by Sara Ramsey popped up on NetGalley as a historical romance debut that just sounded interesting. According to the blurb copy, it was selected by Barnes & Noble for an exclusive release on the NOOK beginning Jan. 23rd.

The Stubborn Dead by Natasha Hoar was featured in January 2012 print issue of RT Book Reviews as one of the five debut authors not to miss in 2012. So I couldn’t resist picking up first book, about a “rescue medium” when it appeared on NetGalley. Whether this is urban fantasy or paranormal romance or a combination, it looks like a terrific start for this new author.

Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo is the first book of the Centauriad. It’s YA and it’s something I pulled from NetGalley when I was researching YA genre lit for a table talk I did for the South Carolina Collection Development mini-conference. Since this is definitely fantasy, I’m going to give it a try.

Banshee Charmer by Tiffany Allee is the last book on my calendar for January 24. I had downloaded it from NetGalley because I liked the premise, an urban fantasy about a half-banshee detective solving a serial killer murder. Sounded cool. Then Book Lovers Inc asked me to review it for them. Cool beans, I already had it.  I’ve read it, loved it, and written both reviews already, one for my blog and one for BLI. Done and dusted. I just can’t queue anything up here until the BLI review is posted.

And now for putting the cap back on the old recap.

My review of Nick Marsh’s Soul Purpose is already scheduled to post on Tuesday. I’ll get to Past Tense after I come back from Dallas. BLI says I can have two months. I promise I won’t take anywhere near that long! Besides, Soul Purpose was too much fun for me to wait that long to read the sequel. I want to see what happens next.

And I received an unstained copy of Todd Grimson’s Stainless this week. Woo-hoo! I take one “dead-tree” book with me on the plane, so I have something to read for those horrible minutes when they make me turn off my iPad. Stainless might be it.

I also finished A Lady Awakened and Don’t Bite the Messenger from last week, so reviews for both those books will be part of this week’s postings.

Reaching back, to the Christmas Nightstand, I’m in the middle of J.L. Hilton’s Stellarnet Rebel. As a blogger, and a science fiction fan, I’m caught up in the story on multiple levels. I mean wow, living on a space habitat, kind of like Babylon 5 or Deep Space 9. And, earning your living by being a blogger, live, full-time pretty much, total life immersion blogging. 3,000 posts or 3 years until she can go back to Earth. And will she want to?

Going even further back, I took a look at the 12/17/11 Nightstand and read Forever Mine, the prequel novella to Delilah Marvelle’s Forever and a Day. Yes, I’m a completist. I have to read the whole series.

That’s all we have time for in this pre-conference madness issue of the Nightstand. We’ll see you next week, live from Dallas, hopefully not blogging from the hotel lobby. The bar, on the other hand…

Tomorrow will be the Carina Press December 2011 edition of Ebook Review Central. And it will seem like Christmas all over again.

The conference halo effect

There’s a phenomenon that I call the “conference halo effect”.  I think it happens to most of us, or at least I certainly hope so. The alternative would be unbearable.

While I’m at the conference, I’m energized. This is in spite of the fact that my feet are usually speaking to me, and what they are saying translates into “expletive deleted”.



The panel discussion that I participated in on Leading Technical Services in 2011 was very well attended. The room held 150, and we nearly packed it, but didn’t overflow. It was just right. The audience laughed in all the right places, and asked great questions. And if the person in the second row on the right with the wonderfully encouraging face is reading this, my heartfelt thanks. I had practiced one last time while sitting somewhere in the conference center and the gentlemen in the chair next to me fell asleep while I was practicing somewhat sotto voce.  Having someone in the audience who looked eager to hear me was a much better confidence builder!

My fellow panelists, Anne McKee and Peggy Johnson, were terrific. Peggy even acted out her slides when the PowerPoint gave up the ghost. Her performance was truly inspirational in more ways than one. Peggy didn’t just talk about leadership, she demonstrated it right there. And the coverage by American Libraries in their blog was awesome.

But every moment in the conference presented opportunities to see or hear something new – be it in the form of workshops, stalls or pull down banners, or if it was something to take back and work on, or a commitment that needs to be met in the days and weeks ahead.

At the time I was in New Orleans, every time I was in a meeting, or right after I finished a meeting with someone, I would send myself an email labeled “note to self” with the action item in the email. The joy of a 3G iPad is that I always had connectivity. (My hotel room wifi was iffy at best) Because of the “halo effect” energy of the conference, everything seemed both easy and possible while I was in NOLA.

And the biggest problem with actually being on a committee (I’m incoming Chair of the new ALCTS Affiliate Relations Committee) is that I didn’t get to half the places I wanted or needed to get to. My list includes a lot of entries that say “find out what happened at X session” that I wasn’t able to attend. But it’s all part of the ALA experience–except for the no conflict times, every time slot has 3 things you want to go to, and they are generally as far apart as geographically possible.

Now I’m back, and that mountain of “notes to self” is in my inbox. The halo has worn off. Those things don’t seem so easy anymore. But they are still possible. Even more important, they are still necessary. They are commitments I made to myself, and to others, of things that need to be done.

Time to dig in. I think I see a LOT of Diet Coke in my future.



What does it mean to miss New Orleans?

I didn’t hear live jazz playing in New Orleans on this trip until Tuesday morning. The playback in my mind is of jazz spilling out of every open doorway in the French Quarter, usually accompanied by a street corner barker trying to hustle the crowd into his joint for a girlie show. Times change.

That memory is indelibly etched, but it was a long time ago. Anything pre-Katrina is a long time ago now. But for me, those memories represent a different watershed.

I was 19, and the week between Christmas and New Year’s, my parents took me along on a trip to New Orleans. Another couple went along on that trip, I don’t know why. But having them along changed everything.

When we arrived at the hotel, I asked at the desk if I would be able to go into the bars to listen to the music. The desk clerk looked at me and said, “you’re old enough”. For the first time, I was treated as an adult. Suddenly, instead of being on a trip with my parents, I was one grown up on a trip with 4 others. The difference was incalculable.

I’m aware, looking back, that I never went out alone. But on the other hand, I was treated as someone whose preferences mattered as much as anyone else’s. I was, and am, a night owl. My mom is not. My dad tried to stay up 20 hours a day, I swear, but that was pretty normal for him. The other couple were both night owls like me. I spent more time out with them because my schedule matched theirs. In retrospect, my mom was the odd one out.

I went everywhere. I was never carded. And yes, I ordered drinks if I wanted them. Hurricanes of the alcoholic variety in NOLA are infamously watered down. The music was amazing. I recognized absolutely nothing, and I didn’t care. Every bar had a band, and if it sounded good from the street, we’d just wander in and sit for a while. It was the way the players would play together, then solo in the middle, and then pick up the piece as a group that astonished me again and again.

But in walking the streets of the Vieux Carré, window shopping and music sampling, the seamier side of Bourbon Street was also on display. I may have been 19, but I was well read. I could see, even then, that every sin that mankind had invented, or possibly would invent, was for sale somewhere in the alleys of the French Quarter. That darkness was part of the gumbo that made New Orleans what it was, even though the city fathers and mothers tried to pretty things up for the tourists.

That trip was the last vacation I ever took with my parents. That winter break during my sophomore year in college was also the last time I ever went home to my parents’ house.  There is a saying that there are two things you need to give your children, that one is roots, and the other is wings. That trip was one of the times when I very much felt the wings more than the roots.

When ALA went to New Orleans right after Katrina, I did not expect to see much of the NOLA I remembered. The hurricane had been devastating, and the boarded up windows bore mute testimonials to that devastation. The anti-FEMA t-shirts were less mute but just as devastating in their own unique way.

I wondered what the city would be like this time. The Creole flavor that was New Orleans took multiple cultures a few centuries to simmer just right. Five years isn’t long enough to bring it back. But there was a jazz band at Jackson Square that had a good start.

Opening day at ALA

No matter where it is the American Library Association conference always feels like librarian’s old home week. All the people look vaguely familiar, convention centers all look alike, and even the signs are pretty much the same from one year to the next.

Some of the content is even repeated. RDA has been a topic for several conferences in a row, and probably will be for several more. The budget squeeze on libraries has been an unfortunate ongoing theme for too many years. “Doing more with less” is a refrain that is heard over and over.

Moving right along, I spent most of the day in a truly fantabulous pre-conference– “Assembling your consulting tool kit” by Nancy Bolt and Sara Laughlin. For me, the topic was relevant and timely, and the presenters did a bang up job. Setting up as a consultant is just something that goes against the grain of us librarians, we’re all used to thinking of ourselves as publiic servants and not as businesspersons marketing a product, particularly not when that product is ourselves. Nancy and Sara made it sound imminently doable, and their tips from the pros were very much appreciated by this newbie.

When the exhibits opened this evening, there was one book that I was more than willing to carry home  in “dead tree” form, if I could get one. Penguin was supposed to have advanced reading copies of Lev Grossman‘s The Magician King, the sequel to The Magicians, in their booth. I beat a path to their proverbial door as soon as the crowds were let in, and managed to worm my way through the crush to get one. Score!

And ByWater Solutions had a “booth babe” that proved me wrong about the exhibit halls all looking alike. This particular lady could only have appeared in New Orleans.