July 9, 2012

Favorite Characters: Brenda Lee Johnson and Tonight, The Closer Starts Closing Its Doors - And I'm Pumped. Who's The Leak?

I've been a fan of The Closer since its pilot episode, not only because I love procedurals but because I loved the character of Brenda Lee Johnson.  I liked the arcs over time that revealed her to us:  for example, the arc of Kitty.  First, she hates cats.  Then, the cat gets to stay.  Then, Kitty gets pampered and loved and sadly, Kitty dies.  We saw Brenda grow with Kitty.

It's a little thing, given this is a cop show, but this is the stuff I love and that I look for -- the people plots, the backstories, the characters evolving and relating and miscommunicating.  You know what I mean.

I like the ensemble here, all the actors are top-rate, and I'm really anxious to learn who the leak is -- the mole that has been betraying them all with information that resulted in both state and federal lawsuits being filed against the Department and the individuals themselves.

This week, I'm voting it's Lt. Daniels who got booted from the squad a couple of seasons back.  Not that I didn't and don't like her: but it means that the Major Crime squad doesn't have a backstabber in its midst today, and I like that alternative.

Sure, I thought it was Pope.  Too easy.  Gabriel?  Red herring.  Taylor?  Maybe.  Hope not. 

Luckily, I know from an interview that was published online that Kyra Sedgwick has confirmed that she may be appearing in the show's sequel, Major Crimes, in the future -- so Brenda Lee isn't going to be killed off.  Thank God.

But we do know that she does leave the Major Crimes Unit.  This better be a happy ending.

June 25, 2012

Spicy Mystery Stories - October 1935: Maybe There's Hope?

I was surfing around today at Wikimedia Commons for a public domain image to use on a project, and stumbled upon this magazine cover from the 1930s. 

Pretty risque, isn't it?

Thought I would share this with you, Dear Reader.  Maybe there's hope for America after all ... things are not growing more decadent by the day, if this was being sold way back when ....

Check out that evil hand with the syringe.  Scary stuff, boy. 

June 6, 2012

Free EBooks as Marketing Strategy? Joyce Magnin Got Me -- Now I'm Buying Her Books.

Who doesn't like a freebie, especially in today's economy?  Well, I know that I do.  Several times during the week, I'll check the Top 100 Kindle Free EBooks list.  Sometimes I grab one or two; sometimes, there's nothing there that I want. 

You might find more (or less) than I have.  Most of the books on the Top 100 Free list at Amazon's Kindle Store are highly rated, I'm just not interested in more cookbooks right now, for example.

Here's the thing.  I've noticed that some authors are smart enough to drop one of their books into the "free" section of the Kindle store for a short time period.  Not that long, but long enough.

Like Joyce Magnin

I discovered her in the Kindle Free Top 100, and now I buy her books.  That's right:  I buy them.  Authors, agents, and publishers take note.  I spend money because she's giving me a good read, and I admit I like the fact that she started out by giving me something. 

How does that translate in bookseller lingo?  I'm on a book budget.  If I am choosing between one of Joyce Magnin's books and one of another author I like, and only have money in the budget for one book, then Joyce it is. 

I guess that I am more loyal to Joyce Magnin because I think she's more loyal to me? 

May 28, 2012

Heather Haven's Alvarez Mystery Series: Another Great Find as a Kindle Free EBook

I don't know how I would have discovered Heather Haven's mystery series if she hadn't offered one of her books for free as an ebook on Amazon last week.  She isn't the first author that I've discovered roaming through the Amazon store on my Kindle, but she's the latest - and I'm using her book as an example of great reads you can find for free right now.

Sure, I'm going to buy her other books in the Alvarez series.  I love this series.

As for Murder is a Family Business, it's a cozy, sure.  However, it's funny.  It's endearing.  It also keeps you guessing (though I did figure out WhoDidIt pretty early on, I was surprised at some twists and turns in getting to the end of the book).

It's well written.  Never did I have the urge to skip ahead as I read this book.  And that doesn't happen to me very often.  Sign of a good writer.  

One thing I really enjoyed here was the lack of snarkiness.  The family members here care for each other, and shockarino, they respect each other too.  They treat each other with kindness and consideration and I didn't realize how little I'm seeing that these days until I read the first book in this series.

I highly recommend Heather Haven's Murder is a Family Business. Even if you have to pay a bit for the book now. 

 I highly recommend downloading freebies from Amazon to your Kindle, too.  Sure, some of them are bad; some need editing; some are so-so. And some are very, very good.  Like this one.  (Haven's no novice, by the way.  Check out her bio here.)

May 21, 2012

Libraries and EBooks. I Like 'Em. Will Hachette's New Test EBook Program Mean More Selection for Me? Maybe.

It's just plain sad, but I read all the time or maybe it just seems like it.  I don't choose between paperbacks or hard bound, or audiobooks or ebooks or even ebook readers (I've got a Kindle and a Sony Reader right now, and I'm coveting a new Kindle Fire).  I buy and I borrow, too.

Anything for a fix.

Which means that, yes, I know how to go online to my public library website in the dark of night when most people are asleep to get a couple of new reads.

It's so sweet, you should try it.  Just once won't hurt you.

What actually happens is that I'm escorted electronically from the San Antonio Public Library site to the Overdrive site (here is the link, I don't know if it works without manuevering through a library host site first, though).  From there, I choose which format I want (Kindle, ePub - heck I can get a selection of Adobe pdfs, too along with audio and video) and I can also hone my search to certain publishers, or awards, or subject/genre.

It was through this site that I've discovered Alison Weir and her Elizabethan Era works (good stuff) as well as some Agatha Christie short stories (this week, I'm all Miss Marple over Poirot, but that will revert by the end of the month, no doubt).

So, imagine my thrill when I open my MediaBistro news update this afternoon, and there's the headline from GalleyCat that Hachette is testing a new ebook pilot program for libraries.

More.  More for me.  Hands begin to involuntarily rub together .... 

Consider Hachette's Author List and drool along with me:

  • Steve Martin (yes, THAT Steve Martin.  No "i" on the end, though I like his stuff, too.)
  • Michael Connelly
  • oh, heck.  There's much too much to type here, go read through the Big Names for your own book-loving self.
Now, those in the know will recall that Hachette did have its books available for e-readers and middle of the night borrowing a couple of years back, but sadly pulled them back from libraries for I don't remember what reason.  It was obviously a Bad Call.

Thank the Lord, they've come to their senses.  

Now, the next big question I have:  how many of their publications are going to get ebook versions?  Yepper, that's the big question, isn't it? 

Well, that and WHEN.

Gimme, gimme, gimme.

February 6, 2012

Amazon's Stores, John Locke's Simon and Schuster Deal: Hints of the Future of Publishing?

Seems there are rumors that Amazon.com will be opening brick and mortar stores.  Exactly what the inventory would be sold there is the big question; eBookNewswer wonders about a place you would enter just to see what was available, but you wouldn't take the book home with you -- you'd order it.

Interesting, isn't it?  There's all those empty Border's stores ready to go, after all....

Meanwhile, John Locke has entered into a deal with Simon & Schuster where he has his indie book Wish List being sold as a mass market paperback by the publishing house - but Locke is shown as the publisher.  

Which apparently means that the publishing house has made a deal for its distribution channels and marketing abilities with traditional publication deal thrown in for the mass market paperbacks.  Telemachus Press will still be responsible for the actual printing of the ebooks, as they have been doing for John Locke for years now. (For more info, check out the comment from Claudia at Telemachus Press, below.)

So, we have Amazon moving into physical stores and one of the biggest indie authors making deals with a traditional publishing house - for distribution.

Looks to me that these are hints that the publishing industry is growing and changing, but that ways are being found to keep our beloved print books and the sanctuary that is the local book store alive and kicking while the boom of indie publishing is allowed to bloom.

At least I hope so.

January 6, 2012

Reading Great Writers – James Lee Burke for Setting

I’ve just finished James Lee Burke’s Feast Day of Fools.  It’s not a short read and it’s a violence one (no surprise, right?) but here’s the thing: you can learn so much from this guy.

I’m re-reading it now, marking things up, because he’s just so darn good at describing things.  Like the bleak horizons down on the Texas border with Mexico.  The colors, the sounds, you get the idea. 

There’s one scene, where a sociopath has taken his victim (I’m trying to avoid a spoiler here) out to his personal killing field and as the evildoer parks his “gas guzzler” and exits the car to walk back and open the truck where his victim has been tossed … well.  Not much word count, and I can still hear those boots moving, the sound of the truck opening, the barren surroundings, the breathing of the bound man.  Creeps me out. 

I’m not using his vocabulary. 

You need to read it for yourself.  Feast Day of Fools.

Amazingly good stuff.