Sunday, July 13, 2014

ALA Annual in Las Vegas, a small recap

Well folks, my 2014 Printz year is officially done with the closing of this year's ALA Annual Conference. Hard to believe that the amazing year I spent reading is done with. Serving on the Printz is something I will never forget and I feel really lucky that I was able to participate in YALSA in this capacity. It's an opportunity I can't see anyone passing up.

Las Vegas was... hot. I am not a fan of Vegas by any stretch of the imagination so I can't say that I loved annual to pieces this year but there were definitely aspects that thrilled me. My hotel was always nicely chilled and I had a great roommate AND we were by the convention center and the monorail which definitely made things easier in terms of getting around. I will admit that I was a slight curmudgeon on this Annual experience though in general. Vegas just is not for me.
I'm up there!!! My name I mean.

I had the chance to meet several friends I have only known in an online capacity, including my good friend Kel, who I have known since I started on the internet way back in high school or at least early college. I have known her a long time needless to say and it was SO AMAZING to get the chance to meet her in person. I also had the chance to meet several librarian friends I know online which is also wonderful. That made the heat bearable in some small way.

Another great highlight was the Printz celebration on Friday night! YALSA tried a new format this year and while I admit to being a bit skeptical upon hearing about the new format, I did embrace it and enjoyed every minute of it. Marcus Sedgwick started the evening off with his Printz medal speech for Midwinterblood and it was wonderful. (I know, I'm biased.) I thought he hit the perfect combination of being gracious, funny, enjoyable and just fun to listen to. My committee had the pleasure of having dinner with him earlier that evening and let me just say, he is a gracious writer who has lots of sly wit and a genuine personality which came across in all his interactions. Anyway, that shined through in his speech I thought. I hope others enjoyed it as much as I did. Following his speech was a Q & A with the rest of the authors (Rainbow Rowell, Clare Vanderpool, Sally Gardner and Susann Cokal).

Vanderpool, Rowell, and Sedgwick
The authors did a great job of playing off each other and making the panel a lot of fun. It wasn't stiff and boring as I feared (yes, I admit I thought it could be boring). They all had a great rapport with each other which made the rest of the evening a success in my eyes. My personal favorite was Sally Gardner who was absolutely hilarious. Seriously, if you have not read Maggot Moon yet, please do. She has thrown pieces of her personality in it but also made it very dark and interesting. My committee had lunch with Sally and Susann on Sunday and while they were both amazing to listen to, there is just something about Sally Gardner that makes her someone you cannot stop listening to. She had some hilarious anecdotes during the Printz questions too!

I am not a reader who needs signatures or pictures with authors in general. For me, the text of the book itself is what keeps me enthralled BUT I have

ME AND RAINBOW ROWELL!
to admit, my goal that weekend was to get a photo with Rainbow Rowell, and I did! It is not a great photo of me but she looks fab in it. And I just feel lucky she was willing to take a picture. Otherwise, it was just nice getting to know the authors in a more intimate setting at the meals we were able to attend with them. SO MANY THANKS to the amazing publishers (Candlewick, Macmillan, and Random House) for hosting our committees. The time I got to spend with the authors and my fellow committee members is something I will never forget.

Otherwise, Annual went by very quickly. I spent some time in the exhibits hall on Saturday and picked up a few galleys (as seen below) and talked with some publishing friends. Since Annual was paid for by me I kinda took it easy honestly. The heat really tired me out easily so I went to my hotel and napped and relaxed a bit between various events. I just didn't feel like running around like crazy like I normally do during Annual.
Galleys I brought home
I was fine with that. I think I only ended up going to one session too. This will be my last Annual conference for awhile but despite the setting of Vegas, it was a great weekend. I felt really connected to my Printz committee and I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating all our hard work (because believe me, it's no easy task to be on the Printz!). I am not in general an overly sentimental person but I feel like we will always have this special connection between us and that is just amazing. I also want to say hi and thanks to all the amazing people I met over that weekend. As always, the friendships and connections at Annual is what makes the entire experience worth it. I cannot reiterate that enough and if you've ever been on the fence about going, I say do it because those face-to-face connections are what will make the experience priceless (yes, even in Vegas.)

So yes, there you go! ALA 2014 is finished but despite my initial doubts and well, grumpiness about having to be in the desert during summer, I managed to find things that made it all worth it. (And fortunately, Vegas does not mess around with its A/C which helped immensely!).

If you've ever thought about running for the Printz or really any awards committee, I highly recommend it as it is an amazing experience you will never forget. And there are definitely some fun perks once all the hard work is done.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

This and That

Paws to Read sponsored by iRead
Summer reading is upon my library once again. If you follow me on Twitter, you know this is a time of year I basically dread. HOWEVER, this year I am trying really hard to stay positive about it, despite its challenges. I really am tired of being defeated by summer reading so I am going to hopefully focus only on the awesome things about it, like sharing a new series with readers, or making a young reader's day by giving them a book about Minecraft. Those are things I can control and enjoy. I can't control how hot it will get, how cranky some parents become as summer wears on, or even how messy the children's area will be every.single.day. but I can grasp at the good moments. My library is doing the Paws to Read theme and during visits I was pleasantly surprised by how many children recognized Tad Hills as the illustrator. Rocket is more popular than I imagined!

I will also be attending ALA Annual in Las Vegas at the end of June. It is the celebration of my Printz year so I am excited. Not quite so excited about the fact that it is in Vegas but I know Vegas has a lot of A/C so that will help. I fly in Friday and fly out Monday morning so if you are attending, lets meet! This will be my last annual for awhile now. I need to save some money and I want to focus on travel opportunities for fun rather than work (though of course I do have fun at those too).

This year I will serving on two virtual committees which I am excited about. I am serving as CHAIR(!!!!!!!) of YALSA's summer reading taskforce. Holy cow, I was so excited by this opportunity. And, I am also serving on ALSC's Quicklist Consulting Committee. It's my first time volunteering with ALSC so I am excited to finally participate. I love what Quicklists puts out every year so I hope I can make a good contribution to the list.

Other than that, summer is a time for me to kick back, watch tv and well, normally, read. We'll see how much of that I get done. I'm heavy into watching Hart of Dixie right now and enjoying every minute of it. I also for the first time planted some flowers in pots and have those around my place and on my porch and they look so pretty in bloom. I am not a fan of summer but I will admit, the days I can laze around, summer isn't too bad!

The thing I am most excited about this summer is the season 4 premiere of Teen Wolf on June 23. It's coming! I am deep into Teen Wolf craziness still (as my Tumblr can attest to) and I just absolutely cannot wait for new episodes. I think this is how most women feel when expecting children. Me, it's all about the tv episodes!

I hope to get back to more reviewing on a steady basis this fall. That is a tentative goal at any rate. I invite you to chat with me any time on Twitter or Tumblr where I am as always very active. I do have a few romance reviews coming up on the blog too. To all my fellow summer reading librarians, we can do this!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James
Julie James is one of my absolute, favorite romance writers. Her books have gotten progressively better (even as they were pretty top-notch to begin with). It Happened One Wedding is her newest book and it is utterly fantastic. So fantastic in fact that it is one of the few books I have read this year. There is no way I'd pass up a Julie James book.

Synopsis: SHE KNOWS BETTER THAN TO SAY “I DO”

After a humiliating end to her engagement, investment banker Sidney Sinclair is done with commitment-phobic men. But when her sister winds up engaged after a whirlwind courtship, she’s thrown in to close contact with exactly the kind of sexy playboy she wants to avoid—the gorgeous best man. She’s stuck with him, for better or worse, until her sister walks down the aisle, but that doesn’t mean she has to give in to his smooth advances, no matter how tempting they are…

BUT HE MAKES IT HARD TO SAY “I DON’T”

Special Agent Vaughn Roberts always gets his man on the job and his woman in bed. So Sidney’s refusal to fall for his charms only makes him more determined to win over the cool and confident redhead. Only what starts out as a battle of wills ends up as a serious play for her heart. Because the one woman who refuses to be caught may be the only one Vaughn can’t live without…(Goodreads.com)

Sidney and Vaughn have instant chemistry from their first meeting on the page. It is definitely a contentious meeting. Sidney is coming out of a broken engagement and Vaughn is, well he definitely appears to be the stereotypical romance guy who likes to play the field and has no desire to settle down. And he is that guy but he is also a lot different from that. Julie James knows how to turn an archetype on its head.

The characters are just wonderful. When I finished the story, I felt like I had truly gotten to know Sidney and Vaughn. The characters are put into settings where their true natures come through. Sidney and Vaughn are surrounded by friends and family, and also in their work settings. These are two very high profile career characters but that is just one facet of their characterization. I always feel like Julie James must go into full research mode when she writes her books because the careers she chooses for her characters seem like they are portrayed incredibly authentically. (I of course would not know the difference being that I know nothing about the law or crime solving but when I feel like I know more about these careers after finishing the book, it seems like a successful portrayal.)

Frankly, I just about loved this book. I even re-read it after finishing it. Sidney is a woman after my own heart. She knows what she wants and she is going to go after it with all her heart. I hate to fall into the "sassy" trap but Sidney has sass to spare and she is not afraid to use it on Vaughn which results in some hilarious dialog (and some very sexy dialog too!) Sidney is not going to just let herself settle anymore. She will find the man for her, who will support her and love her in the way she knows she deserves. Vaughn falls for her hard. That's about all you need to know. He is not expecting it but he definitely leans into it when he recognizes it.

Julie James writes amazing contemporary romance. I don't know how to say it any better than that. If you've been searching for a new romance writer to try, if you've never really read contemporary romance, you cannot go wrong with It Happened One Wedding. Though there are references to characters from Julie James' other books, they do not interfere in any way with the main story. This is a wedding story but you'll see no bridezillas or uncaring grooms here. Instead, you'll probably just fall in love with the story and characters, just like I did.

It Happened One Wedding is available now and believe me, it's one book you will want to read this year. I am very cautious about where I spend my book money (student loans, curse you!) so when I say that this book is well-worth its value, it's no lie.

Basically, I bow down to this book.

Other reviews:
Dear Author reviews It Happened One Wedding
Smexy Books reviews It Happened One Wedding
Fiction Vixen reviews It Happened One Wedding

ARC provided by publisher for review.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

BEA bound!

I'm attending my second BEA this spring (heck, at the end of this month!). I went way back in 2010 and I'm excited to be back. Good friends, NYC, and even books! Can't get better than that.

If you'll be attending BEA and want to connect, please let me know. Just email me. I'm happy to meet just about everyone though I will probably be shy and awkward in person. Alas.

Anyway, long story short, I am excited to be attending and to just be in the wonderful book atmosphere that is New York. There is nothing quite like it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Join in the conversation!


I am never going to be an eloquent speaker or writer on this topic. BUT, this is a topic that is important to me and is crucial to libraries and the book world and it just so happens that there are some great voices in the blogosphere that you need to hear. I hope you will take the time to read more about this project and to support the authors and book lovers who are working so hard to spread the message.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reading in new ways (aka discovering a love of fan fiction)

According to my Goodreads account, I have read a total of nine books this year. NINE BOOKS. I was very outraged at myself when I discovered this because, hello, it's only nine books! I've read well over 200 books in previous years.

Of course, this should NOT surprise me given the fact that I have avoided reading as much as I can this year. Nothing really holds my interest. Re-reads of past books, new romance books, favorite YA authors, nothing. I am quite content watching TV and just basking in the joy of not reading.

When I discovered Teen Wolf earlier this year, my non-reading habits DID change however. I was reading like never before. I was also reading something I had never really read before. Crazy to believe it now but I have never been a fan fiction reader. Even during my obsessive Harry Potter days, when I tried to get into The Shoebox Project, I just... never did. I may have read a few chapters but I did not feel compelled to keep up with it. Why would I want to read a made up story about characters I liked when the real author could do such a better job on his or her own?

Well, what a fucking asshat I was, me of ten years ago. Fan fiction has really opened my eyes to some great writers, some terrible writers, and just some plain old fun storytelling. Much like real, published book, fan fiction can be AWESOME or pretty lack luster. But most importantly of all to me right now is the fact that it has me reading. It's like candy at this point, I just can't seem to get enough of it and even though I have a few ARCs on my Kindle by some favorite authors I should, theoretically anyway, be reading, I'd much rather reach for some of my bookmarks and read all about the sexy times of Stiles and Derek.

So, my reading has become somewhat untraditional for a change which is astonishing to me. Why, I don't know, but I feel like my joy of reading has been somewhat revived lately. I can read short pieces which hold my attention. I get the romance angle I love in my stories. I feel NO NEED whatsoever to attempt to review fan fiction which is a huge burden off my shoulders. And frankly, sometimes I just love spending time with characters I have grown to love. I am also really, really impressed by the output of fan fiction writers. Holy goodness do they stay busy with writing.

Another bonus? Fan fiction does not get the hype machine put on it by publishers and marketers. I am not inundated with constant updates on all my social media networks that SO AND SO has a new book coming out. And I don't have to read reviews of that same book over and over on the various blogs I follow.

Basically, fan fiction is the best possible thing to happen to my reading habits lately. I know I will find time for books again in the future but for now, I am quite content in exploring this new facet to my reading habits.

And hey, if you need any Sterek recommendations, I've got you covered!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review: Once Upon a Billionaire by Jessica Clare

Once Upon a Billionaire by Jessica Clare
So, you may remember that I have a slight author crush on Jessica Clare? Her Billionaire Boys Club series is pure addiction and I for one am so, so glad I am addicted. I reviewed The Wrong Billionaire's Bed awhile back and I liked it well enough but this book, Once Upon a Billionaire had to have been written specifically for me because it combines some of my favorite, favorite romance tropes. Grumpy, disgruntled, intelligent hero? ROYAL FAMILY? Heroine who is a bit plain at first glance? Heroine who is not afraid to give the hero a set down? CHECK CHECK AND CHECK. I had been looking forward to Griffin's story since he was first introduced but I admit, this book turned out even better than I expected.

Synopsis: As a member of the royal family in a small European country, Griffin Verdi’s presence is requested at the wedding of the century. The scholarly billionaire feels out of his depth in social situations, so a good assistant is required—especially when dealing with royal etiquette.

Unfortunately for Griffin, he’s stuck with Maylee Meriweather, a pretty, charming, and thoroughly unsuitable woman who doesn’t know a thing about high society—but she sure can kiss. Her lack of polish may sink Griffin, because after all, even his money can’t buy class. But through Maylee’s eyes, he’s starting to appreciate the simple things in life—if simple means the most complicated woman he’s ever met.

Maylee is everything Griffin isn’t—and everything he wants—if he can let down his guard and step outside his sheltered world… (Goodreads.com)

Griffin is a dick. I mean, I hate to say it, but at first he is just not very nice at all. I know this doesn't work for all readers but for me, well I have long enjoyed the hero who is a scornful and sometimes cruel (I know, I know, I shouldn't, but I do). Fortunately, he does not remain a jerk for the entirety of the story. He does however remain pretty clueless about Maylee and how to treat her for quite awhile. He just does not understand the real people thing, much as he claims he is basically a commoner himself, what with only ONE SERVANT (yeah, I know, I scoffed too).

Maylee puts up with a lot of hurt and well, poor communication from Griffin. Like, a lot but she has her reasons. Maylee is the first in her family to leave her home state, Arkansas, for new chances in New York City. Her family is proud of her and wants her to succeed and Maylee is determined to not let them down. She truly is just a sweet and kind character and it would take a hard heart indeed to not root with her.

For me, this book is just the kind of story I love passing the time with. It is of course, more than slightly imaginative, what with a nonexistent country and royalty, but those are plotlines I deal with and enjoy. If you're a reader who likes their story perhaps grounded in a bit more reality, this book may not be for you. I can also see people becoming irritated with the characters, especially Griff's dunderheadedness but for me, it works. I truly believed at the end that he was as madly in love with her as she was with him. I need that kind of ending and Jessica Clare provided it in spades.

Once Upon a Billionaire is a great combination of fairytale and true love. Griffin is no prince (in fact, he really isn't. He is a Viscount) and Maylee perhaps sometimes personifies Southern stereotypes a bit too much but I was able to forget those things and become absorbed in the story. Once Upon a Billionaire is another fabulous installment in this series and I look forward to the next book already. In the meantime, I may just re-read THIS book.

Once Upon a Billionaire is available on April 15, 2014 from Penguin.

ARC provided by publisher for review.

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