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Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Just Another Manga Monday: The Story of Saiunkoku by Kairi Yura and Sai Yukino

So, my college major was Recreation Administration. It was geared towards municipal recreation departments and consequently required 18 credits of political science. Apparently we needed to know what an ombudsman is in order to toss around a ball or organize a marathon. The problem being that I really can't stand politics. I thought travel and tourism would be a better avenue to explore within the recreation department. Sadly, my college didn't offer any such focus and I was stuck with the 21 credits of political science. I wonder how it was, then, that I found myself reading The Story of Saiunkoku illustrated by Kairi Yura and written by Sai Yukino.

Series Description:
Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T.
Shurei Hong, destitute but of noble birth, has always dreamed of working as a civil servant in the imperial court of Saiunkoku, but women are barred from holding office. The emperor Ryuki, however, refuses to take command, leaving everything to his advisers. Shurei is asked to become a consort to the emperor to persuade the ne’er-do-well ruler to govern.

Publication Date: May 1, 2012 | Series: Story of Saiunkoku (Book 7)
Though Shurei and Eigetsu passed the Imperial Exam with high marks, they are being bullied as they go about their duties as new civil servants in the palace. But it seems the pair may have found an unlikely ally...

My Review:
The story is set in the country of Saiunkoku with the majority of the story taking place within the various ministries, at least so far. I first encountered this story as an anime. I didn't finish watching all the episodes, but Viz started releasing the manga here in the US and the anime has been released here as well.

Saiunkoku is ruled by an emperor with the different ministries running specific aspects of the government. The country is ruled by a fool of a young man named Ryuki Shi who doesn't take his position seriously, can't be bothered doing his job or learn his duties or be bothered with the governance of the country. In order to try to reign him in, Shurei Hong, daughter of one of the 7 noble clans, but destitute, is brought in as his consort to teach him how to govern.

Shurei's lifelong ambition is to become a civil servant and work at court. Unfortunately, women are not allowed to take the civil servants exam or work for the government. Her father is the Imperial Archivist and has taught her about government, so she understands what is at stake. Ryuki just seems like an idiot, but she has a job to do and she tries to get him to understand the importance of his position and his responsibility to the people of the country. With her guidance, he begins to take an interest in the running of the government.

The title of consort was only to be temporary until Ryuki started to become the emperor he should be. He has fallen in love with Shurei, but knows he cannot keep her by his side. He wants to earn her love and respect and ordering her to stay would do the opposite, so he begins to cultivate a plan. A plan that will perhaps give Shurei what she has always desired most in the world, but may also lead the two of them back together eventually. Ryuki has decreed that women should be allowed to sit the civil servants exam and hold public office.

In Vol 7, Shurei has passed her exam and she had the third highest score of all entrants. There are many men who resent that, especially considering the first ranked seat was won by a 13 year old boy. The job placements will be announced soon, but in the interim, all the inductees are working for the various ministries to learn as much as they can before they are assigned a post. Shurei and the first seat, Eigetsu, are targeted, bullied, given extra work and crap details. Far more than anyone else has to do and they don't complain about it.

There is a conspiracy with the two of them at the center. In an effort to get rid of the two upstarts, a mystery civil servant has orchestrated a situation that may get them removed from their positions before they are ever assigned a post, but not if Ryuki has anything to say about it.

I absolutely love this story.  Ryuki is so eager and sincere and he truly cares about Shurei and what she desires.  While he has his head's more in the clouds, Shurei has the ability to ground him.  They balance each other out.  The story itself has everything, romance, adventure, espionage, intrigue, murder, corruption, a little something for everyone.

Volume 8 is due out October 2.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson.  I love books about traveling and meeting new people.  One of my favorites is Falling in Love With English Boys by Melissa Jensen.  I also love the Emily Williams books by Katie Maxwell.  I am hoping Flirting in Italian is as good.  I bought on the synopsis alone, so we shall see.

Book Description
June 12, 2012
Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!

Since I had purchased book 5 of the Mortal Instruments series last week, I thought it only prudent to order book 4, otherwise there would be a gap, so I ordered City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare.  Now I just have to start reading the series.

I also got the final volume of The Fallen series by Lauren Kate, Rapture.

Book Description
June 12, 2012 Fallen (Book 4)
RAPTURE, the fourth & final FALLEN novel, is the Lauren Kate book the world has been waiting for.

The sky is dark with wings. . . .
Like sand through an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and Daniel. To stop Lucifer from erasing the past, they must find the place where the angels fell to earth.
Dark forces are after them, and Daniel doesn’t know if he can do this—live only to lose Luce again and again. Yet together they face an epic battle that will end with lifeless bodies . . . and angel dust. Great sacrifices are made. Hearts are destroyed.
And suddenly Luce knows what must happen. For she was meant to be with someone other than Daniel. The curse they’ve borne has always and only been about her—and the love she cast aside. The choice she makes now is the only one that truly matters. In the fight for Luce, who will win?
The astonishing conclusion to the FALLEN series. Heaven can’t wait any longer.

And the final book I received this week is Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McKoy.

Book Description
May 1, 2012
From the author of Pure and The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, a friendship story with one girl, several boys, and lots of complications. Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl’s perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys’ band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex–best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free…until it isn’t anymore.
     When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl…and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he might want to be more than friends with Char…being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.

Now I still have a couple packages I am waiting for.  I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait until the package arrives, then it's fiiinally here and that's awesome because, hello!!! Loot!!!, but then as soon as the rush is over, I start wondering where the other packages are.

So, now I'm just waiting for my packages....again.

Friday, June 22, 2012

As I have been unavoidably detained dealing with a furniture delivery this week, today I have a guest post by my niece, Brianna. You all remember her. She's the one who ran away with 6 books when we went to the book store when I got nothing. Did I mention I did not acquire anything? At all? I guess BEA made up for it, though, so I can't really complain.

So without further ado, here is Brianna. She is going to tell you all about the Junie B Jones book she just read by Barbara Park, Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket.

Book Description:
Publication Date: May 23, 2000 | Age Level: 6 and up | Grade Level: 1 and up
The world's funniest kindergartner is back, in her 15th book!

It's almost the end of the school year, and Room Nine is taking a field trip to a farm! There's lots of fun farm stuff there. Like a real actual barn. And a real actual farmer. There's even real alive animals you can pet! Only, where's the gift shop? That's what Junie B. Jones would like to know. Surely no one would want Junie B. to go home empty-handed. . . .

Brianna's Review:
Hi my name is Brianna and I read Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket and she is really funny. It is a very good book to read. Me and my grandpa like that book and we read together. Once I read Junie B., First Grader: Dumb Bunny and that was fun to read too.

Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket was a book I finished in 2 days. Those are my favorite books to read but I don’t read them all the time because I’m getting older and that means I’m almost 9 and my birthday is on August 29. Now I’m reading James and the Giant Peach book and I’m on chapter 5. I know I’m not done but I am really liking it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's Just Another Manga Monday: Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori

Well,I began the post at 11:59 so technically it was Monday when I began. Been busy moving furniture. That being said, today's delectable little treat is a little on the strange side. Now when I was in high school, I was in some of the clubs. I was in the drama club, the library club, gymnastics, band, chorus and choir. There were language clubs, chess, community service clubs, literary clubs and a host of other clubs, but I can't say I recall there ever being a Host club at school, but maybe I didn't know the right people. Or perhaps my school was not elite enough. Of course,, no one in my school looked like these guys, so maybe it's just as well. I give you Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori.

Series Description:
Reads R to L (Japanese Style).
In this screwball romantic comedy, Haruhi, a scholarship student at exclusive Ouran High School, breaks an $80,000 vase that belongs to the 'Host Club', a mysterious campus group consisting of six super-rich (and gorgeous) guys. To pay back the damages, she is forced to work for the club, and it's there that she discovers just how wealthy the boys are and how different they are from everybody else.

Publication Date: December 6, 2011 | Series: Ouran High School Host Club (Book 17)

My Review:
Haruhi Fujioka is a scholarship student at the elite Ouran High School. All the students are wealthy, well connected and seem to have scads of free time on their hands. While this series takes place predominantly in the high school, there is actually very little time devoted to class room sequences.

Haruhi walks into a room when she begins school and she accidentally knocks over a vase and breaks it. She is wearing a boys uniform and has her hair cropped short, so she is mistaken for a male student and forced to work for the host club to pay back the debt she has incurred by breaking the vase.

There is a rich cast of characters that are just out there.

The leader of the Host Club is Tamaki Suoh. He has a very delicate emotional state and when ever his feelings get hurt or he gets upset (which pretty much happens every volume), he curls up in the corner crying. He's very sensitive, overly so, but he is also generous and kind. He likes to call himself the father of the group and the other members of the club refer to him as milord.

Kyoya Otori is the brains of the operation. He is the power behind the throne. He manages the books, the finances, pretty much all administrative tasks for the group. He is also the informative member of the group. He knows what's going on with every one and everything. His family has a network of spies, er, retainers that he can call on any time of day or night for assistance if need be. As powerful as he is within the club, he is a second son and has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He can also be very twisted.

Mitsukuni "Honey" Haninozuka is the cute factor for the group. He is a senior, but is small and looks like he should be in middle school. He carries around a teddy bear and has an obsession with cake. Don't let that soft, cuddly demeanor fool you. He also has a black belt and is a fearsome fighter. Whatever you do, don't take his bunny rabbit or his cake. You might live to regret it.

Takashi "Mori" Morinozuka is also a senior and is rarely seen without Honey. They are cousins, but it seems that Honey comes from the main branch of the family. Mori looks out for Honey and he seems to be the only one that is able to Tell Honey when he has had enough cake. He also seems to walk in Honey's shadow and is perfectly content to let Honey lead him. He is a tall, quiet, somber type person, but he does have his moments.

Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin are perhaps the strangest pair in the club. They are the same age as Haruhi and are in her class. Their host club persona is brother on brother love. They are identical twins and the only one who has been able to figure out which is which is Haruhi. They are the tricksters of the group, always playing practical jokes and have a very carefree attitude. They are immediately likable, but often leave me scratching my head.

Eventually, the club members realize Haruhi is a girl which leads to all kinds of father / daughter fantasies in Tamaki's head. Even after they discover she is a girl, she continues to work for the host club as a boy and is quite popular with the ladies.

It seems as if the female population spends most of the time visiting the host club that it's a wonder they haven't all flunked out of school. Who can blame them, though, when the Host Club comes up with theme days like a Harem party. They love to dress up, get in character and lavish compliments on the female clientele that are so sickeningly sweet, but he ladies just eat it up.

There actually is a plot. Tamaki is only half Japanese and is not welcome by his Grandmother into the family. He does not live in the main house with his father who is the chairman of the school. Tamaki's mother is ill and living in France. Tamaki's grandmother wants Tamaki to quit the host club, end all relations with the host club members, especially Haruhi, and learn the family business so that he might one day be a proper son of the Suoh family and take over for his father. The gang is trying to get him to come back.

The final volume just came out June 5th and I am anxiously awaiting my copy. I love this series and will be sorry to see it end. It's silly to the extreme in all the right places, but can also be serious when necessary. There is also an extensive collection of secondary characters too numerous to mention, but it makes for a very wacky comedy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stacking the Shelves: Two Words - Fuzzy Domo

I loooove getting packages in the mail. Always have. When I was a kid, I would go through my grandmother's Reader's Digest, Family Circle and other such magazines she subscriber to and look for the promotions. I would mail away for anything; the most memorable one was a single spoon as a dinnerware sample. They always had to be freebies, though, as I was around 10 or so and wasn't holding down a job at that time. And while I stopped sending away for random, useless items I don't need, I have never loss my obsession for getting things in the mail; packages like, not junk mail or bills.

I used to be really big on sending away for cereal box promotions and the like. I would specifically hunt out the cereal, cookies, tv dinners and such with the coolest mail-ins. Sadly, though, it seems most of the promotions now are crap, and while I may look every so often to see if there is anything good to send away for, it has been a rat's age since I have actually mailed in for any of the promotions. I think Kung Fu Panda was the last promotion I mailed in for.

I used to order a ton of DVDs and CDs as well, but I haven't really been doing that for quite some time. I do still order books, though. Sure, I could get them for my Kindle perhaps a little cheaper than the book, but then I'd miss out on the fun of getting a package in the mail. I sometimes wonder if I order things simply to get mail.

My neighbor gets packages all the time. I can't stand it. So I have at least two packages that should have been here already. I've been waiting desperately. I know they shipped, so where are they? I hate waiting.

This is what I picked up this week. Still waiting on those packages.

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Domo Qee Mystery Box Series 4 - Orange Fuzzy Domo - Rareity 2/15 - Purchased at the local comic book store.
Dr Who / Star Trek Crossover comic Vol 1, variant gatefold photo cover - Purchased at the local comic book store.
Angel & Faith monthly comic # 10 - Purchased at the local comic book store.
City of Lost Souls, Book 5 in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare - Purchased at CostCo with an exclusive chapter only available at  CostCo.

One last item was acquired this week thanks to my friend Terri over at Alexia's Books and Such....
Since I could only get to BEA on Thursday, she stood on line for me on Wednesday and got me a copy of Destined by Aprilynne Pike signed by the author.  I was soooo happy as this was my second most desired book at the BEA.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I was a BEA zombie...The Sequel???

So, here are some final thoughts on my experience overall.

• It was awesome! Although, I want to go for the entire show next year. I already have the dates so I can request the time off. I was so jealous when I saw some of the authors in attendance on Tuesday and Wednesday. I had Terri looking out for things for me, but she had her own stuff to get. She did get some of my requests and I am eternally grateful.
• Comfortable shows were definitely a key. I was wearing a pair of sketchers sandals and I had no problems with my feet. I walked all over the hilly, cobblestoned streets of Toledo, Spain for two days in these shoes, so I knew they’d be good for the show.
• A large tote bag is a must. I know have my huge red tote bag, so I will just use it again next year, but if the tote is not adequately sized, it will mean either more drop offs to your checked luggage or carrying around multiple tote bags.
• Make sure to bring a large suitcase. It’s better to be safe and have extra room than be sorry. I was glad I brought it. It was only half full, but weighed a ton. I wouldn’t have wanted to carry all that weight on my shoulders.
• Check the luggage was one of the best investments of my $3.00 I have ever made (unless you count the $.99 investment to load the Ninja Fruit app to my phone). That way, I could dump off stuff and give my poor aching shoulders a rest. It wasn’t too far to get to either and we were back in action faster than you could say “My hovercraft is full of eels”.
• Make sure if you have long hair to either bind it up or bring rubber bands or clips to put it up. My hair was down and I only had one small octopus clip. At first, my hair kept getting stuck under the tote bag strap, but then it kept falling in my face and sticking to me if I looked down because I was sweating a lot. I did manage to get my hair up off my neck, but it wasn’t very secure.
• Next year I need business cards. Everyone asked for business cards. I have a lot to say, sometimes you can’t shut me up, but I would be happy if other people heard what I have to say. Business cards make a more lasting impression. You might forget the name, but you remember when you look at the card when you get home.
• Planning is essential. There are lots of events, autographings, promotions, giveaways. It is important to know when and where. Doing the research and planning it all out ahead of time will just make the experience that much easier and less likely that you will miss something you really wanted to see or get. For instance, if I had realized Tiger’s Destiny was at the Sterling booth, I could have asked Terri to go to that booth specifically to see if she could get her hands on it.
• If you’re not interested, don’t make eye contact or you will end up will a bunch of stuff you didn’t want to bring home.
• I think the most important thing to remember, though, is to just have fun. Take in the wonder of it all and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I was a BEA Zombie...It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

No I don’t think it is fair to have a best of list without also having a worst of list, so here it goes.

• The show closed down at 3pm without any kind of major communication to advise
• Some of the galleys were already gone by Thursday, even ones advertised as Thursday giveaways
• Not as many events on Thursday
• The signing for After being shut down because the books ran out and the signing being cancelled in the afternoon because the rest of the books never showed up
• Book signings had to be cancelled due to the early closing of the show
• Some bait and switch. For instance, Becca Fitzpatrick was supposed to be signing Finale, the final book in her Hush, Hush series. My friend Terri was in line to get me the book, but what she got was a signed copy of the trade of Hush, Hush. Apparently a lot of people grumbled about it. Or the signing we were going to go to for the Wood Queen and there was someone else in that time slot.
• I have to say I was most disappointed by the Macmillan booth. They had a gigantic book, but all they did was have posters up of book covers and on Thursday they only had one galley to offer. There weren’t even display books of new or upcoming releases out that you could thumb through to an idea of what the book was about and if you’d be interested. They took up all that space and had nothing much to offer the show-goer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I was a BEA Zombie...These are a few of my favorite things...

So, after the show, Terri and I decided to get lunch. Our options were dirty water dogs from a cart outside the Javits Center or getting a nicer meal closer to home. I figure, I’m out the door already. Might as well wait until we’re close to home and have a nice sit down lunch where we’re not lugging a suitcase. Lunch itself was unremarkable. We went to On the Border because Terri’s husband doesn’t like Mexican food. It wasn’t lunch itself that was so memorable. It was the conversation. She asked me what my favorite part of BEA was. Now you might expect me to say the free books and you wouldn’t be wrong, but you wouldn’t be right either. My first response was that I really enjoyed meeting the authors and having a minute to chat and say hi. We talked about it for a while and what I ended up with is a list, a few of my favorite things if you will.

• Getting to meet some of the authors - Whether an author you are already a fan of or an author you are meeting for the first time, perhaps a future favorite, it’s nice being able to show your appreciation of what they do and they can show you their appreciation of your support.
• Meeting people while waiting on line - You never know who you might meet. Authors are fans too. You can also meet fellow bloggers, make connections, friends. Why I even listened at some length to a discussion between two people behind me that were talking about hockey. I don’t think they would have minded if I jumped into the conversation. I find book people to be the nicest of people.
• Being exposed to new authors - There were a lot of book signings and galley giveaways and the descriptions were in the convention publications. I enjoyed flipping through, seeing a book, reading the short synopsis, liking what I read and being able to go get the book. It allows the opportunity to be able to find new authors. Or perhaps you have heard of an author, but are picking up a book by them for the first time based on the description. Either way, it is a lot of exposure to books you may not have otherwise been aware of. For myself, there were some galleys I was not able to get and the books are now on my wish list. Had I not gone, I may never have heard of them.
• Getting to meet people and let them know who you are, making those professional connections - I was not promoting myself as a book blogger for the most part, but I heard other bloggers talking to the authors asking if they could send the author a link to the book review they will do. For book bloggers, it is a great opportunity to try to develop a relationship with some of the publishers and authors. Words have power and in this electronic age, word spreads fast over the internet. It is a symbiotic relationship.
• The programming and breakfasts - I only had the one day and a much shortened day at that, so I didn’t really have the time for any of the panels, but some of the other events were really worthwhile and had I been there for more than a day I would have partaken of them.
• Display books – Even though not all books were being given away, it was nice to be able to thumb through display copies of books to see if it is something you will be interested in. You can’t always tell from a book blurb. I have bought some books that sounded interesting from the description, but he prose ended up being lack luster and difficult to get through.
• Having a partner in crime – I had the best time hanging out with Terri and spending the day with her amongst all the books, just like old times. It made standing in line for an eternity fun. Also, we could divide and conquer. We had each other’s backs.
• Oh yeah, and free books and swag.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's Just Another Manga Monday: La Corda d'Oro by Yuki Kure

I have a confession to make. I was a band geek. I was in marching band, concert band, pit band, chorus, concert choir, I was a baton twirler and I used to be in the stage productions as well. An all around nerd. I have to be honest, while the theater geeks were usually kind of cool kids, the beatniks, the band geeks were always kind of looked down at as the freaks of the school, the unpopular crowd. And while we band geeks did have a lot of friends, they were more of our kind and not the A crowd. In La Corda d'Oro by Yuki Kure, the roles are reversed. Seisou Academy is broken up into two separate schools. There is the music program and general ed. The students of the music program are the elite at the academy, they have the nicer uniforms and they look down their noses at the general ed students. There is really no interaction between the two campuses and it is very clear that not all students are equal. But with a little bit of fairy magic, that is about to change.

Series Description:
Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T.
Every few years, the prestigious Seisou Academy holds a prominent musical competition, and only the very best students at the Academy are allowed to participate. Though all are eligible to apply, only students from the music department actually make it to the competition...until now.

Kahoko is a normal student in the general education department with absolutely no musical skill, but all that changes when she catches a glimpse of an elusive fairy who lives on campus. The fairy grants Kahoko a magic violin, and before she knows it, she's nominated to participate in the school's music competition with five very attractive boys. Will she win love and fame, or will bitter rivalry rule the day?

Publication Date: March 6, 2012 | Series: La Corda D'oro (Book 15)
As Len leaves Japan to study abroad, Kahoko struggles with the changes in her own life. Can she find a way to say farewell to Len before it’s too late? Can she ace the upcoming music contest without Len’s tutoring—or the help of her magic violin? And what will she do when both Ryotaro and Azuma decide it’s time to make a move?

My Review:
Kahoko Hino is in the general ed program. There is really nothing remarkable about her, but she is able to see a fairy that no one else can see. The fairy gives her a magical violin and she finds herself auditioning for the school musical competition, one in which general ed students never make the final cut. Kahoko is one of the finalists, but it is only because she has the magical violin.

The other contestants are:
Len Tsukimori, violin, who has a real attitude problem. He seems very conceited and looks down his nose at everyone, including other music program students.
Keiichi Shimizu, cello, who is very sweet tempered, but he is usually asleep or snacking on junk food.
Kazuki Hihara, trumpet, who is probably the most likable of the contestants. He has a real positive attitude, is friendly with everyone and really just enjoys himself.
Azuma Yunoki, flute, who is the demon of the group. He shows one face to his fellow students, but to Kahoko, he shows a dark, twisted, demonic side. He may seem like a pleasant guy, but he has a mean streak.
Ryotaro Tsuchiura, piano, who is also a general ed student. As it turns out, he is a bit of a piano child prodigy and he is a later addition to the competition. He's also on the soccer team.

Kahoko finds that through her experience with the competition, she really does love music. She really respects Len and his talent, even though he acts like a jerk more often than not. She makes it through the competition, doesn't win, but decides she wants to keep learning how to play for real. She may be rough around the edges and needs to learn finesse, but she still has a pure passion for music and the violin that wins people over.

Like so many other shojo manga, it seems the course of love doesn't run smooth. It seems Kahoko is developing feelings for Len, but is it possible he is starting to reciprocate? Kazuki is certainly crushing on her. Then there is is Ryotaro, who looks out for her, but is there something more to it that motivates him? And what is up with Azuma? At times he seems cruel to Kahoko, but then there are times he seems to like her.

Len seems to soften towards her when he agrees to help Kahoko by tutoring her on the violin. Matters are complicated further for her when Len decides to study abroad and annouunces he is leaving Japan. Has she become proficient enough to be able to compete on her talent alone without the aid of a fairy and magical violin?

I was a BEA Zombie...This time it's personal

So… my thoughts on being a Power Reader…

• Non-industry people were allowed in for the first time. A really big deal was made of it. It seemed like there were going to be special promotions just for Power Readers, but there was no agenda specific to Power Reader promotions or giveaways.
• I only found one booth that had a special promotion for Power Readers and that was DK books. They had a special tote bag and pamphlets inside. So kudos to them!!!
• I checked the schedule of events last Sunday and realized that most of the really cool events and authors I wanted to meet were on Tuesday and Wednesday. There’s tons of cool stuff to see, but we’re not going to let you see any of it.
• Also checking the schedule, there was less than half the events scheduled for Thursday then there was for either of the previous days. So there wasn’t even as much of a selection of events to choose from to attend.
• There was the business of the convention shutting down two hours earlier than was advertised. What’s up with that?
• Some major publishers, like Harlequin, had no signings or events scheduled on Thursday at all even though it was the only day the Power Readers would be allowed to attend. These are fans. These are people that read your books. These are people that will read a book and talk about it and spread the word, but you’re not giving them anything to talk about.
• The Power Readers were all wearing blazing lime green lanyards, so we were easy to pick out of the crowd. We were tagged. I felt like the unwanted stepchild because I was wearing green.

I must so all in all that it was a fantastic opportunity. In order to get into the Bloggers Convention, you need to have the stats and you need to be accepted. Since I am new at blogging, there was no way, I am sure, they would have accepted my registration. This is the only way I could go. I just think they can do better promoting the program. Make sure there are good things to see and do on Thursday. Perhaps publishers could hold some of their galley giveaways for Thursday like Penguin, Scholastic and Random House did. Have more special promotions and giveaways just for Power Readers. Have more autographings and some bigger names on Thursday.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Stacking the Shelves: Can you ever really have too many books?

So, I got to go to BEA on Thursday as I'm sure you've read by now. I believe I managed to pick up 31 books. I am not going to list them all on this post, but my friend Terri enticed me to go to the local book store with her today. Now, even though I came away with all those books Thursday, quite a few of them on my wish list, I still picked up some more books today. I can't read all the books I just picked up that quickly, so why? I do have to wonder, but I believe that it really must be about the having.

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

So here is what I got this week that was not acquired at BEA.

In the mail:

From the bookstore:

Now what to read first......

I was a BEA zombie...Endgame

I was very excited about the children’s galley giveaways and had put them all into a spreadsheet. Out of all the galleys I saw, the one I coveted the most was Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck. The publisher I had on my wish list, though, was Splinter according to Amazon, so when I was preparing the publishers to visit last week, I didn’t find them. Then Monday night I had found a link that posted all the galley giveaways and it was on the listed, only the publisher was listed as Sterling. I finally put two and two together and pulled out my mobile app on my iPhone to locate them and while Terri was on line for a signing, I made my way to the Sterling booth. I asked if they had any more galleys. No, they’re all gone. It was, after all, Thursday. I begged, I pleaded. I’m going to buy the book anyway; I just need to know what happens!!! After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, they let me in on a secret. The galley did not include the ending. That was to be kept a secret. Still, I couldn’t quite hide my disappointment. Little did I know that it would not be my only disappointment of the day.

Dejected and defeated, I made my way back to Terri. We made our way to the autographing are so we could get a copy of After, an anthology by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow. We got there about 11:15 and the line was already closed off as they had run out of books. Not to worry. There was also a booth signing at 1. So, we made a drop off with our books, feeling refreshed that we had gotten a load of our shoulders and headed back for more.

After reading the book description for Darker Still, I wanted to get an autographed copy at 11:30, so I made my way over to the Romance Writers of America booth only to find that the singing had been postponed. Terri had gotten in line for Skylark, so I decided to join her. At noon, I made my way real quick like to the Penguin booth because I wanted to pick up a galley of Venom by Fiona Paul. When I got there, however, they did not have the book out as they had run out. I could have asked Terri to pick it up for me Tuesday or Wednesday, but it was one of those last minute add ons after I had read the book synopsis. So I missed out on that. I strode purposely back to line to catch up with Terri and it was just in time. We got our books signed and thought to get in line for Curiosities, which proved to be one of those must have books and very popular. We decided to get in line and see how long we would have to wait. The line went around the block, snaking into the shadows behind curtains and we lost sight of the end. As we couldn’t see then end and there were already at least a hundred people cued up, we decided not to wait. We were both tired and Terri’s knee was bothering her, so we made our way over to the booth for the afternoon signing of After. As we were a half hour early, we had to make busy for a bit. David Levithan was also signing at 1, and I had added him to my agenda last minute. His book, Every Day, sounded quite intriguing. We decided Terri would go back for After and I would get on line for David Levithan.

The line for him didn’t seem too long and just as I was about to cue up, someone got in front of me and said there were more coming that had been waiting in line God knows where. They just appeared and kept coming and lining up in front of me. I was then told by an official person I would need to wait for the end of the line. Like I couldn’t figure that out, but where the devil was it? I decided not to wait out of frustration and made my way back to Terri. As no one seemed to be getting in line for the other book, I decided I would go back after all, but now I was back even further. I had a very nice chat on line with the woman behind me. I took it from her comments that she was an author, but I was afraid to ask in case I hadn’t heard of her or if I had read her at didn’t like her, so I just made light conversation. She was talking about one of her books coming out on audio already and my curiosity got the better of me. I glanced down at her name tag and saw that it was Jeri Smith-Ready. My eyes got real big and I quickly tried to cover it up by acting cool. Terri had texted me to say the books for the afternoon signing of After had never been received, so the signing was cancelled. She eventually met me on line and I was trying to do that head bob thing to the side in Jeri’s direction. Now, I have never read any of her books, but Terri is a huge fan and she was clearly not picking up on my signals. She decided to go explore while I was on line so I texted her to tell her that Jeri was on line behind me. Unfortunately, she was getting lousy reception and didn’t get the message until after I was through the line. I believe she will never forgive me for this or at least never let me live it done, but then, neither will I. She said she didn’t recognize Jeri because when she has met her, Jeri has always been sitting down and she recently died her hair blond. Uh huh. She also berated me for not texting her while standing right next to Jeri and she thought I was just being weird with the head bobbing thing.

I went back to the Romance Writers of America booth to get Darker Still, but I also wanted to get a copy of the Paladin Prophecy at the same time, so Terri offered to stand on line for me, Jeri-gate forgotten for the moment. She is such a pal. Once I finished up on line, though, I had no more activities scheduled. Things seemed to be really winding down, though, and a lot of the booths had already started packing up. The show was promoted as ending at 5pm, but Terri had read a tweet that said the show was closing at 3 and I had read an email on my mobile app that indicated the same. It was a bit weird because there were scheduled autographings at 3 and 4. One was a book that Terri really wanted to pick up called Blood Born, so we made our way over to the booth anyway. It was about 2. They were packing up everything. They did have a stack of the book and when Terri asked if she could have a copy, they said no because they had to be taken back. I’m a bit confused by this. The books were brought to hand out. You are trying to promote the book. You have a person in front of you who wanted to come to the signing, she’s wearing a press badge and you tell her she can’t have the book you were going to hand out for free anyway.

After that, we kind of lost it. The sound while earlier was the constant hum of conversation was now replaced by the sound of packing tape being pulled from the roll and we knew it was time to go home.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I was a BEA zombie 2: Electric Bugaloo

I walked through the doors of the Javits Center, only this time not as an otaku or comic nerd, but as a Power reader. One of an elite 1,000 that was allowed entry into the hallowed halls, or should I say aisles, of the BEA, that were not trade or press, for the very first time. I was special. It’s all there in the name; Power Reader and I was on top of the world. My voice mattered. We were invited into the fold and I felt all warm and squishy inside. It was going to be one hell of a day.

There was a special desk reserved just for Power Readers. We got a special badge with a special lanyard, lime green, and a special swag bag not offered to other attendees. Little did I realize then we were being marked.

Anyhoo, we checked our luggage and got on line. With my faithful friend, Terri at my side, I was ready to tackle the day. You know Terri, of Alexia’s Books and Such…Today, though; I was her sidekick, her apprentice, her padawan if you will. The force is strong with her, or perhaps it is her will, but she is a woman with a purpose, or at least a well- drawn out agenda. She was the pro and I was such an amateur. I deferred to her in all things. She was my guide, my beacon and she had the map. When they let us in, she high tailed it to the Sourcebooks booth for the t-shirt give away. Along the way, we passed by some of the major publishers and stopped in real quick to see what galleys they were giving away. It was like California during the gold rush. There be books in them thar hills, or booths actually!!! I felt I just walked into the Chocolate room at Willy Wonka’s factory, a world of pure imagination.

It didn’t take long for me to realize my tote bag was woefully inadequate. I glanced sideways at Terri’s enormous red bag and felt for the first time in my life tote bag envy. Taking pity on me, as she often does, she told me where I could procure one for myself, so after we picked up the t-shirt and she had gotten on line for an autogrphing, I headed for the McGraw Hill booth so I could make one of those red tote bags mine.

I didn’t have much on my agenda. I had two signings at 10, one at 12 and one at 1. I had time on my hands. So while Terri got in line for Jeri Smith-Ready, I went walkabout. I met back up with her just before she got her book signed.

One thing Terri warned me about was the authors/publishers that are trying to attract people to their booth. Now I will say up front that I really do feel for these people and would love to support them. They are trying to generate interest and revenue in their work, but I really just don’t read up on the fauna of the Adirondacks or the life cycle of a meal worm. They are like a Venus flytrap, though, looking all pretty on the outside, drawing you in, and then whammo, snapping the trap shut. As we walked away from JSR, a woman was handing out a green tote bag. Oh, pretty, matches my lanyard. Thank you, how nice. Until she then asked if I wanted to meet the author and she herded me over to his table. It was a weight loss book. Now I know I still have a bit more weight to lose. Was I being targeted? Was she making a statement as if to say, “Honey, you really need the assistance you will get from this book.” I don’t know, but I felt trapped. The author was a doctor, but also a client. That kind of thing. He gave me the pitch; he showed me the illustration, the vicious cycle of weight gain, which I could see as it was on the cover of the book. Yes, I see, depression leads to eating leads to weight gain and so on and so on. He had to demonstrate the cycle by pointing it out as he was talking about it. It was hard to feign interest. Now, I would have been okay if he had just given me a few second pitch, signed the book, handed it to me and let me be on my way. I’m intelligent. I can read. And I am interested in the psychology of it all, but come on, I have another signing to get to.  Can we hurry it up? No? How about I give you back your tote bag and let’s call it a day. But I was polite and exhibited a patience I didn’t possess and was finally able to get out of there. Lesson one learned. Do not make eye contact.

We headed off to our 10am autographings which were uneventful. Since we had time, Terri wanted to go get in line for the Wood Queen only to realize that when we got to the front of the line, it was someone else entirely. As she was in front of me, she ended up feeling guilted into getting the book while I sidestepped around her. Ain’t I a stinker?  I wasn't falling into that trap again.

To be continued......

I was a BEA zombie....Part the First

It was a dark and stormy night...(Sorry Mr. Schultz. I needed to create atmosphere.)

Getting ready for BEA was going to be easy peasy, or so I thought. I had, after all, gotten a lot of solicited advice from my friend Terri over at Alexia's Books and Such... I had a list. What one can accomplish as long as one has a list. List-havers can, dare I say it, take over the world. I dare. I was confident and prepared. But as so often happens, things do not often go according to my design.

I got stuck at work late and had to go to the gym after, so I didn't get home until about 7:30. I then had half an hour to feed the cat, feed myself and not much else before the Devils game at 8pm. They were facing elimination in the Stanley Cup finals and as much as it may have pained me, I had to watch. I had to know, see it with my own eyes. The unfortunate thing about hockey is if you blink, stuff happens and you miss it. Usually for me it is a goal. Perhaps I should blink more often. While watching the game, I had to finalize work stuff; send status reports and some emails. I was trying to get things ready in between the periods of the game. So much to do. I had to get the suitcase, figure out which tote bag to bring, what snacks would I take, what I was going to wear. I had to finalize lists for the next day, print. I had my list. I checked it twice. I had to do all this during two 20 minute intermissions.

The hockey gods were with me and the Devils staved off elimination to play another day.

The game got over quite late, about 10:30. Checked the list again. Checked on line for any last minute updates, found out what galleys were being given away. Thought about my suitcase. Thought about checking my suitcase and that I would be putting books in my checked suitcase and realized the one flaw in my plan. Did I have a lock for my luggage? Would my suitcase even accommodate a lock. Had to find out. Checked the suitcase and it did have a ring for a lock. One crisis averted only to be struck by another. Where in himmel were my luggage locks? I checked up in the attic, you know, the walk-in attic, past the manga and comics books and found the large suitcase for the green set of suitcases I wasn't taking. That suitcase had a lock on it. Awesome! Only problem was no key. Now where the frell did I put the key? I know I saw it recently, but I've been moving things around so much it could be anywhere. Thought it might be in the zipper part of my wallet. No. Perhaps my Badtz Maru wallet. Again, no. Where the devil did I put it? I had to stop and think and remembered that whenever I had small things turn up in the bedroom of my old apartment, like a paper clip or a safety pin, I would put the tiny bits in a see through plastic egg. Dug through my niece's room until I found a little black travel case I put bits and pieces in and lo and behold, there was the plastic egg. Dumping out the contents on my niece's bed, I found not one key but 5 and an extra two locks. After much cursing, I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Checked the list again. Mind you, there were only about 7 things on it: suitcase, water, snacks, camera, tote bag, comfortable shoes, phone, but I had to be sure I had everything. Finally shower time. I was as prepared as I could be. As I'm standing in the shower letting my mind wander, I realized I had forgotten to leave an out of office notice on my work email. Not many people knew I was taking the day off.  It was my first of the year.  I wouldn't want people to think I was ignoring them, although I do anyway. So, after I showered, I had to go back to my computer, log back in just so I can put on the out of office.

Since I had washed my hair, I didn't want to go to bed with wet hair. The day was too important and I have been known to get seriously wicked bed head. I did, after all, want to make a good impression. Now I had to blow dry my hair. It takes forever, because my hair is quite long. By the time I got it dry enough, it was already after midnight closing in on one am. Finally feeling confident enough, I hit the sack only to have visions of books dancing in my head all night.

I woke up before 5am feeling not at all refreshed. I hung out in bed wondering if I should get up, read a bit or try to go back to sleep.  As I was too tired to make any sort of decision, I finally dozed back off around 5:30 and was awoken to the 6am alarm. I shut it off, got back in bed and thought for a few about getting up. It was tough, but I finally convinced myself by telling myself I could run around the corner for a Dunkin Donuts iced tea if I just got up. I have enough time before Terri got there. That was all the persuasion I needed.

Got up and dressed, went downstairs and checked my list. Made sure I had everything. Went to DD to get that iced tea, came home and made my english muffin with swiss cheese breakfast sandwich and just waited. Terri was driving since I had driven us in to a cocktail party Monday night. When she finally got there, I dragged her inside to go over everything I had put in my suitcase to take. Thankfully I conferred with her before I closed everything up. She's a pro at this by now.  I ended up leaving an extra tote bag, my camera (had the one on my phone) and two short sleeve shirts in case I got too hot. I also left out my rubber bands for my hair which did prove to be a mistake. I grabbed everything else and we hit the highway. Other than some traffic, the ride was fairly uneventful and we even got on the ferry pretty quickly. A short ride and we were disembarking and making our way to the Javits Center. I had arrived.  (This is the part where I rip my hat off my head and throw it up into the air while uplifting music and corny lyrics with a positive message is playing.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

BEA bound.....

I am finally going to be able to attend the BEA!!! Yay!!!!!! As much as I love books, I have not been around them in quantity (unless you count my book shelves - of which there are about 17 in the house if I have counted correctly - and the boxes up stairs in the attic of books that won't fit on the shelves in the house and the manga I am in the process of reading or am keeping or the 20 boxes or so of books to get rid of in the basement.  Oh did I forget to mention the storage facility?) in many a year. I worked book store retail for a total of 11 years as I have said before and the last time I attended a book affair of this magnitude was the ABA (American Booksellers Association) in NYC probably at least 15 years ago. My friend at Alexia's Books and Such has been telling me about it for the past two years. Sadly, I am getting in on Thursday only as a Power Reader. Since I am a newbie at blogging and have only been up with my blog since February I am lacking the stats to get in to the Bloggers Convention. Next year.

Anyway, I am working on my strategy for the day, so if there is anything or anyone that is a must see and not to be missed, give me a shout out and I will make sure to check it out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

It's Just Another Manga Monday: We Were There By Yuuki Obata

Do we ever really forget our first love?  How long would you be willing to wait if you knew at the end you would be with your true love?  What would it take to throw in the towel and call it a day?  How much heartache would you be willing to bear before you walked away for good?  Is it real love or just the idea of what you think love should be that you hold onto?  How long would it take to be able to feel again and let someone back into your heart.  If you find your way back, would  all the heartache be worth it?

It took me 7 years.

We Were There by Yuuki Obata is a bittersweet story about first love.

Series Description:
Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T+.
Nanami Takahashi falls for Motoharu Yano, the most popular, carefree boy in class. For Nanami, it's first love, but Yano is still grieving the death of his girlfriend who died the year before.

Publication Date: May 1, 2012 | Series: We Were There (Book 14)
When you’re in love, once you hit the switch…

…no one can really say…

…what will truly happen.

The impossible may even become possible.

My Review:
I had first watched this as an anime called Bokura Ga Ita in Japanese with subtitles.  It was some time after the series was made available in the US through Viz in manga format.  While I have seen the anime in its entirety, the manga series has deviated from the anime and I am not sure how many books are in the series or where exactly it is going to go. Book 14 just came out and I will have to wait until November 6th for vol 15. Argghhhh!!!  I love this story, but it is an emotional one.

Nanami is a cute girl, but pretty straight laced. Yano is not quite the class clown, but he is so easy going and likable. He is not very responisible, so Nanami takes it upon herself to be his conscience. She has never had a boyfriend and can't help but be drawn to Yano. Yano hasn't gotten over the death of his ex-girlfriend, so even though he seems so carefree, he is nursing some heavy hurt inside.

Slowly, Nanami begins to crack the shell around his heart and heal the hurt. They have a very rocky relationship, constantly on again off again. He won't be open as much as Nanami wants him to be. She is sometimes clingier than Yano would like. He is not always truthful. She is too demanding. Things are further complicated when Yano's best firend, Takeuchi, also develops feelings for Nanami, so he and Yano are constantly in competition over her. She only has eyes for Yano, though, even when he completely pisses her off and she dumps him. They always get back together, though, usually with Yano groveling.

Before the final year of high school, Yano's parents get divorced and his mom decides she wants to start a new life in Tokyo. He makes the decision to go with her, but not before he and Nanami make a promise to be together in Tokyo. She is going to apply to college in Tokyo so they can be together again. And then he disappears. Oh, it's not sudden, but he finds that life does not always happen according to design and he ends up calling Nanami less and less frequently until she stops hearing from him at all. Still she promised him she would wait and he promised her he'd come for her, so whe waits. She ends up getting into a university in Tokyo, but now does not know where he is.

Five years have passed since she's seen him. Takeuchi is still in love with her and they have kept in touch all the while. Takeuchi proposes to Nanami, but does she accept? Or can she still not break that promise made to Yano 5 years ago even though she hasn't spoken to him in almost as long? How long is too long to wait if you are truly that deeply in love with someone?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Stacking the Shelves: If at first you don't succeed....

Well, since I was thwarted last weekend when I took my niece to the bookstore, I thought I'd try again today. Let me tell you, it is much easier to look for books for myself when I am not toting around an 8 year old who becomes bored once we are no longer looking at things for her. I have to tell you, though, there is nothing like watching a child explore the shelves of a book store or the excitement in their eyes when they found themselves a treasure. It is a feeling to nurture and cultivate. Stories stay with children for their entire lives, or they can. I know they did with me. There is nothing like trying to share that passion and having it be accepted by a young one.  Perhaps it is that she is impressionable and able to be molded is open to suggestion.  Some things I know will have to wait, like The Phantom Tollbooth. I think she is still a little young to truly get the concepts in that book, but one day. Oh sure, today she is all about Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, but one day, hopefully not too far off, she will be ready for more sophisticated things and I can share with her some of my favorite stories growing up. The Phantom Toll Booth was one, but I also loved any stories about horses like The Black Stallion series. Loved those books. Once again I digress, though. Back to the point. So, I went to the bookstore with my husband and immediately upon walking through the door, he had picked up a book. Now is that fair? I walked through my favorite sections; New Releases, SciFi/Fantasy, YA and while I saw things, I didn't find anything I needed to pick up. By this time he had picked up another book, a matching set of history books, one about the Axis powers and one about the allies. He had said that he couldn't help noticing I didn't have anything in my hand, so I browsed some more. After all, that sounded like a challenge.  I mean, he threw down the gauntlet.  And I'm just the gal to take up that challenge, to pick up that gauntlet and put it right back where it belongs.  After what seemed like an eternity, I finally came up with a bargain book; At the Gates of Darkness (Demonwar Saga Series #2) by Raymond Feist.  Now, I am not where near caught up in this series of books that are Midkemia, and the book has been on my wish list for a very long time (To give you an idea, it is on page 8 of my 11 page Amazon wish list and it is no longer available in hard cover other than used or bargain), but I do have book one of the Demonwar saga. It seemed only right to pick up book two, especially since it was a bargain. And because I felt so woefully inadequate for not having anything in my hand to buy. Still there's a lot to be said about completing a set.

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.