I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
Note: I'm writing this a little hungover. That's my disclaimer if anything sounds snarky.
A common grumble in BookLikesandia is that the database could be better (my polite translation). This is a perennial grumble that rolls across BookLikesandia regardless of search/import outages or other unfortunate and annoying bugs.
I and the other librarians scurry around the records like ... ants, trying our best to fix things and make the database a solid body of reliable, verified data. No flag waving, but Themis-Athena and I have done over 100,000 edits combined - and in reality, the number is much higher because the system only counts how many times we open a record, not the number of edits we make while its open. With other librarians, the count is almost 150,000. We've been scurrying.
We have so much more work yet to do. Tip of the iceberg stuff.
But changes on BookLikes take a lot of time. There are no bulk-edit librarian tools; every book and author record has to be edited, merged, or tied together one at a time. Today, I did 7 pages of queued up edits, 20 to a page, in 5 different languages. It took me over 2.5 hours.
I enjoy doing it - I'm a nerd and get a great sense of satisfaction out of seeing an accurate and complete record. BUT - and this is the point of my lead up: if edits and new books were added correctly by most users, 2 hours of my time this morning could have been spent fixing old problems and cleaning up old records.
If records are submitted correctly (including edits), I could have gone through the 7 pages in the queue today in 30 minutes, instead of 2.5 hours. I've done posts before - repeatedly - about do's and don't's, and, let me be clear a lot of people DO submit wonderful records. Really, and it's really appreciated. We remember your names, and smile when you submit stuff. Ok, I do anyway.
But a lot of people are still missing the details. So. I have pictures. Screenshots of the two biggest time wasters for librarians processing the queue: mis-labelling formats, and adding ASINs where they should NOT be added.
Let's start with E-books:
Both of these are wrong, and have to be fixed. The first one because it's a KINDLE, not an ebook, and the second because it's an EBOOK, not a kindle, and the ASIN should NOT be theres. It should be on a KINDLE edition, seperate from the ebook edition.
This is what a correct ebook edition should look like.
This is what a correct KINDLE edition should look like.
Now, paperbacks and hardcovers:
Both of these are wrong and have to be fixed. Paperbacks and hardcovers NEVER HAVE AN ASIN.
This is an example of what a paperback edition should look like (and hardcover - except, of course, it should say "hardcover").
This record is doubly wrong:
No format was included, so we don't know if this is supposed to be a paperback, hardcover, ebook or kindle - hell, it could be an audiobook for all we know. So we have to leave Booklikes to search the web (because most of these include a GoodReads source URL that doesn't specify the format) to find out what format it is before we can correct it.
Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes mistakes are made, or someone is in a hurry, no biggie. But most of these aren't mistakes, most of them are submitted by serial offenders. And please understand that I'm not complaining about a few - almost half of the queued lists are usually made up of records like these, that have to be opened and corrected before they're approved. Today's count would have been close to 70 records. On top of the records missing covers, ISBNs, etc. Out of 140 records today, only about 40 were submissions I could just approve as is.
As I said, I enjoy doing this, as do the other librarians, but our time is finite, so whatever we spend on new submissions that have to be corrected is time we can't spend on fixing old records, bad imports, combining scattered editions and merging duplicate author records. The records that cause all the grumbling in the first place.
Please help us make the BookLikes database better for everyone. Rant over. Send aspirin.
As I mentioned in my previous post, my timely trip back to the states is giving me the chance to share my good fortune to have married into the printing industry. My husband has offered to print and mount bingo cards for a few people, if they'd like a physical version to play the game with, or just for posterity. Or both.
There's still 2-3 left available if anyone would like one? They'll hopefully arrive before the game begins (I'll send them out on the 25th of this month) and they'll be 22x29 (cm) / 8.5"x7.5" (inches approx.) and mounted on heavy card.
If you'd like one, just comment below with some affirmation, and PM me your mailing address. As stated previously, this is open to anyone, not just the US; my trip to the US just makes it possible b/c it's cheaper and faster than AusPost (glaciers are faster than AusPost).
Sample card (card colors are washed out in pic b/c of sun). Demonic cat not inc ... negotiable.
How gorgeous are these bingo cards? Moonlight Madness has spoiled us with our custom cards. Thank you heaps to both her and Obsidian Blue for all their hard work - and it IS hard work, as Themis-Athena and I found out last December.
Travel plans will likely made it difficult to impossible to stick with a reading plan, but I'm doing one anyway, because picking books is almost the best part of the game (almost).
Southern Gothic: Houses of Stone - Barbara Michaels
Fear the Drowning Deep: Pirate King - Laurie R. King
Modern Noir: The Fourth Bear - Jasper Fforde
Relics & Curiosities: TBD
Country House Mysteries: Thirteen Guests - Jefferson Farjeon
Amateur Sleuth: A Room with a Brew - Joyce Tremel
Doomsday: Magic Triumphs - Ilona Andrews
Spellbound: Familiar Motives - Delia James
Cozy Mystery: Toucan Keep a Secret - Donna Andrews
Terror in a Small Town: Killer Characters - Ellery Adams
Murder Most Foul: Booked to Die - John Dunning
New Release: TBD There won't be any shortage of options.
Free Square: TBD
Classic Horror: TBD
A Grimm Tale: TBD (I'm annoyed about this one, because the book I've been listening to the last couple of week, Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett is perfect for this square.)
Darkest London: The Sherlockian - Graham Moore
Shifters: Wild Hunger - Chloe Neill
Baker Street Irregulars: The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure - Robert Arthur
Romantic Suspense: The Ebony Swan - Phyllis A. Whitney
Cryptozoologist: Time's Convert - Deborah Harkness
Genre: Suspense: Locked Doors - Mary Roberts Rinehart
Diverse Voices: TBD
Ghost Stories: The Haunting of Fox Mill - Phyl Cooke
MT brought my card and my stickers home today!! So exciting - my tentative plans are following in a seperate post.
I've decided to do one large sticker this year. It's the exact same size as the bingo card, and MT printed it on a single large transparent label. If you look closely you can see the trim marks, so I can cut out squares; as I read each square, I'll put the corresponding sticker on the card. A black out gets me a complete halloween picture. I had him print two versions: one normal, and one that has a more transparent image. Hopefully the transparency will allow me to see the square behind it, while still seeing the picture. It's an experiment.
Now, for the exciting part...
It occurred to me a few days ago, that not only am I going to the USA, but that I'll be arriving about a week before the game starts and that I could mail cards to people without bankrupting myself AND with a reasonable expectation of a timely arrival for everyone.
I spoke with MT about it. Since he prints the cards out on card stock, then mounts them on cardboard for that true Bingo experience, I wanted to see how willing and able he was. With his current workload, he's willing to print and mount Five (5) cards for me to take with me and send off via USPS.
So here's the deal: first 5 people that comment below with "Yes Please!" (or just Yes; we won't stand on ceremony) who are willing to send me a mailing address, will get their own printed bingo card (stickers not included) on card stock, mounted on cardboard. They'll be sent out on the 25th or 27th, depending on whether or not the postal service is still open on Saturday?
This is NOT just for US residents; anyone can request one. It's just that I can send cheaper and faster from the US than I can from the land Down Under, where sending anything takes twice as long for twice the price.
If you're actually living in Oz, I will, of course, send it to you from here. :)
Note: If you haven't yet received your card, but are planning on playing, you can still put your name in; once Moonlight Reader gets your card done, we can print your card.
Whose ready to play some bingo?
It looks like I'm checking out the stickers, but really, I'm getting high off the ink fumes.
I can't believe how long it took me to read this book. It was my second Elizabeth von Arnim book, after reading Elizabeth and Her German Garden, and i have to say it was harder going at first. Her Adventures in Rügen start off in a much more florid style of writing than she used in German Garden; her verbosity was challenging, to say the least, and I found myself putting the book down and passing it by for days on end. I was determined though, because I had to believe the writing I loved in German Garden would be in there somewhere.
And it was. By the fourth day (page 87), the Elizabeth I had expected started showing up. Coincidentally it was about this time that her idyllic trip round Rügen started to become less idyllic and more comic. By the fifth day (page 115) I was pretty well hooked, and where as the first 115 pages took me three weeks to read, the remaining 185 took just a few days. As the book, and her trip, progress, the writing becomes more concise and the pace ratchets up higher and higher until it reaches its final, devious, and hilarious conclusion. I loved the last two chapters, they had me chuckling regularly, and the ending was absolutely perfect.
A few notes about my copy of this book: I was lucky to find a 1904 copy in beautiful condition that includes a pristine pull out map of Elizabeth's trip. A few things about it made me smile though: the cover title spells the island's name as Ruegen, but everything else in the book uses Rügen. Both are correct (as ue is the alternate for ü), but the inconsistency left me curious about why. Also, my edition's copyright is in the USA, but it states that it is strictly intended for circulation in "India and the British Colonies" only, and the publisher is Macmillan, London. So we have a book written in Germany, printed by a London publisher, copyrighted in the USA, for circulation in India and the colonies.
This is why I love old books.
On the 24th of this month, after 4 years of epic procrastination (I dislike flying), I'm going home for three weeks. This is going to have a number of consequences to my life at a bibliophilic level. Halloween Book Bingo is starting September 1st, so the first two weeks of bingo I'll be away from my books and therefore unable to read books as calls come through. This isn't going to be as big a problem as it could be, both because my mom lives across the street from a Friends of the Library shop, where I'm known for cleaning the place out, and because from September 6-9,
I'll be at Bouchercon!!!!
For those outside the USA, Bouchercon is an annual Mystery lover's book conference, and this year it's in St. Petersburg, a very easy drive from mom's house.
I'm very excited about this: my first book conference! A couple of my favourite authors are attending, and there are several panels that sound interesting, but let's be real here: I'm in it for the books. The free ones, the ones to be found in the book room. All. the. books.
Who's going to be my best friend for three weeks in the states? The US Postal service, that's who. Between the FOTL sales and Bouchercon, I'm going to be on a first name basis with mom's local post office.
This is, of course, going to absolutely destroy my TBR reducing project for this year. I'd managed to do really well up until this point, even with my pre-order binge in June, I've stayed ahead of the game, managing to read 2 books off my TBR piles for every 1 I bought. Not after September though; even with my built in loophole of 'free/gift books don't count', history shows I stand no chance.
As a bonafide book addict, I am, of course, ok with this. After all, I finally get to attend a mystery readers' book conference. Now is now the time to develop literary self-discipline.
The best news: even though the timeline of all the books in this trilogy takes place before the final Kate Daniels, Magic Triumphs, out this month, the author has a note in the book that the actual recommended reading order for the books is:
Iron and Magic
Iron Covenant #2
Iron Covenant #3
This is a huge relief, because no way could I put off reading the last Kate Daniels for however many years it takes for the final 2 books in this series are published.
Now, onto this book. It was good. Gripping, hard to put down. But not as good as the Kate Daniels series overall. I like Elara and I can see the redemptive possibilities in Hugh - I especially liked the authors' insight into the psychological make up of his relationship with Roland - but the two of them together... eh. I don't get the dynamic between them and their sex scene made absolutely no sense to me. I think I know what the authors were aiming for, but the whole thing felt schizophrenic. Like the scene was a double exposure; two different scenes over-lapped. The secondary characters don't feel distinctly individual either, although in all fairness it is only the first book. I have no doubt that will change for the better.
But as I said, it's still a great story; I love, love, love Elara's power potential. I like the twists in Hugh's power. I love Hugh's horse. The book is battle heavy, and sometimes a little graphic, but compelling readable. It's not a Kate and Curran book, but it's a great read nonetheless.
I can't wait for Magic Triumphs.
UPDATE 7 August - FINAL with categories 21-31
Please note: Recommendations to the lists will get added ASAP, but there might be lags here and there as unreasonable people demand I participate in real life.
Also, if I start getting overwhelmed/confused by the number of comments on a list, and I've already added the books suggested, I may delete that comment thread. I'll NEVER delete actual conversations, but if it's strictly a recommendation comment, deleting it might keep me from doing daft things, like adding the book multiple times.
Per Moonlight Madness' request, I've created new lists for the new categories (and where applicable, renamed old lists). This is the final post of list links for all the 2018 categories.
This post will be updated as the new categories are announced.
Southern Gothic (short, needs suggestions!)
New Release (no list)
Shifters (I've broken out Vampires from the old Vampires vs. Werewolves, so there are now 2 lists)
Spellbound (The original Witches list, renamed)
Murder Most Foul (Since this category is any mystery, I've put my own spin on this list)
Good luck to everyone!
I don't know how this book ended up on my TBR; at a guess it was a freebie a bookseller threw into one of my orders, but it's about cats and I'd read the author's dog series years ago, and remembered enjoying it.
At first I didn't think I'd get through it - the mc struck me as shallow - but there's a strong satiric vibe to the story; a lot of tongue-in-cheek fun poked at cozy mysteries, their authors, and the preponderance of cats involved in mysteries. The flagrant use and acknowledgement of all the cliches, as well as serious name and title dropping, kept me going. And the cats of course. They don't talk, thankfully, but there are a few chapters told in the third person, but from the cats' perspective. Nothing unreasonable, but contributing to the plot's resolution.
The mystery of who killed the dead guy ends up solved accidentally - although the cats' get some credit, or course - and the solution didn't feel all that plausible. Or, maybe it felt plausible but too abrupt to work for me. Regardless, it was a decent read and I enjoyed it, just probably not enough to make any wild efforts to buy any further books (if there are any).
I used to love this series, but at this point it's more a nostalgic fondness. I love reading about books, book binding, and book restoration, and the characters are all just ... awesome. Quirky, kind, strong, and the friendships and family dynamics are amazing. There was a stupid nemesis character for awhile at the beginning, but Carlisle dumped her, an action with did nothing but improve the story lines.
Alas, this book centered around Brooklyn and Derek's wedding, and I don't like weddings much. On top of this, while there is a book at the center of the mystery, there's only one scene about bookbinding/conservation and it was brief and had little to do with the plot.
Speaking of plot it was ... scattered. Even with an epilogue that tied things up it never felt like the criminal solution ever came together. Everything is answered, but there wasn't a sense of satisfaction about it. Carlisle does get a bonus point for incorporating every bibliophile's secret fear: death by book avalanche.
Buried in Books struck me as more about Brooklyn and Derek's romance than about plotting out a great murder mystery. This is a letdown, but the characters go a long way towards staving off complete disappointment. Hopefully if there's a next book, it'll be more focused on the dead bodies and books.
Three words: Phoned. it. in.
That's what this book appears to be. Something Andrews - an author whose books I've always enjoyed - phone in. Huge continuity errors, like an off-stage character that dies in WWII, first over Iwo Jima, then over Germany. A fragmented sentence ended with a period that is truly a fragment - just cut off half way through; I can't even guess what it was supposed to have conveyed. Monster gaps in the timeline, and I don't just mean time passes, but time passes where plot-important stuff happens and it's just ... gone. Like maybe it used to be there and someone went all highlight-and-delete happy without turning Track Changes on. The first half of the book is like a time warp, without the narrative overlay.
There's supposedly a romance in here too, one that gets exactly two scenes. Normally this would be fine; this story isn't about the MC's romantic life. Except the story starts with Brooke being a single mom because she didn't tell the boy's father she got pregnant the night before he left for a 3 year research trip to Alaska, then continued not telling him. During the course of this story he comes back, hoping to start back up, having no idea he's a father. Even after he meets the boy. All of this ... baggage; seems like it would call for more than 2 scenes.
The most unfortunate part of this is that The High Tide Club is, at its core, a really great story about extraordinarily strong women, friendships that span a century, and a ripping good murder mystery. It's genuinely lovely; with a lot of heart and, at the same time, a delightfully brilliant mystery. The American South setting is something Andrews excels at, even, apparently, when she's phoning it in, and the characters are all fully realised.
If St. Martin's and Andrews hadn't been so short-sighted as to publish the raw manuscript, instead of a finished, edited work, this might have been one of her best. As it is, I think I'll just re-read Hissy Fit.
This is my RL's book club selection for August, and seeing as how I skipped the last two (one of which I genuinely forgot about), I felt obliged to give this a chance. Luckily a friend and fellow BC member loaned me her copy.
I actually DNFd it at the end of chapter 2. Put it down and actually said out loud, 'no, I'm not reading this crap'. Scenarios of possible book club meeting outcomes played through my head and my inner voice said 'you really haven't read enough to justify your ire'. So, I made myself pick it up again.
Is this a compelling story? Yes, it absolutely is. I tore through the book in one sitting yesterday. There's a lot of talent in the writing and the telling.
There were just two problems for me: 1. I just didn't like a lot of it. This is subjective, of course; the story just isn't my thing. 2. The story was fundamentally flawed because there were a number of basic inconsistencies to Eleanor's character. These inconsistencies aren't subjective and can't be explained away by story events, even though the story events are horrific enough to allow for plenty of inconsistent behaviour.
Eleanor is, from the beginning, framed as a super-rational, automaton-like woman with a very expansive vocabulary, a formality of speech that approaches legalese, a scrupulously balanced diet, and a perfectly timed, strictly adhered to routine. She hoards prescription pain meds, and goes through 2 full bottles of vodka every weekend. Fine so far in terms of consistency.
But then she meets Raymond, who smokes, and she wastes no time telling him in detail why smoking is vile and unhealthy; when he comments on her knowledge, she tells him its because she considered taking up smoking but as she always researches everything before trying anything, she discarded the idea. Now, if she researches everything, and discarded smoking because it's detrimental to health, then a personality such as Elenor's would also research alcohol and likewise refrain from systematically drinking 2 large bottles every weekend.
I understand cracks in the facade, but really, Eleanor is so rigid at the start you question whether she's on the autistic spectrum; it implies a level of personal discipline that doesn't allow for vodka flavoured cracks.
Eleanor's past is a dark and pretty horrific one (Trigger warnings for physical and emotional abuse), but she wasn't raised in isolation. In fact she's in the foster system from the age of 10, so it's stretching the bounds of incredulity when she visits a McDonalds for the first time and describes a filet o' fish sandwich as though she were an alien visitor to this planet, saying it was her very first visit to a fast food establishment and how she finds fast food repellent and unhealthy. Hard to believe when you've spent 7 years in a Foster care system that you've never experienced fast food, but, ok. Where the real inconsistency lies is when she goes home and has spaghetti hoops for dinner, which I'm assuming are the British version of spaghetti-o's, a particularly vile nutritional wasteland in a can.
At one point later on, she comments on someone wearing jeans and jean jacket, saying she never knew you could turn denim in to a suit. A small thing I'd not have noticed, except I was already inclined to rack up inconsistencies. She grew up in London and she's now living in a large Scottish city and she finds someone wearing jeans and a jean jacket odd? I'd have said on any random night in any metropolitan city, a denim ensemble would be amongst the least of the outstanding sartorial choices. There's no way you walk through a major city for 7 years and find jeans and denim jacket weird.
At the end - and this is purely an outright editing error - there are two news articles dated about 6 weeks apart. The first one says something along the lines of "the victim, aged 10, cannot be named because of privacy laws" (she said it better, but I don't have the book at hand). The very next article proceeds to name her - first and last name - multiple times. Guess that underage privacy law was repealed in those 6 weeks.
There's a massive plot twist (this is a HUGE spoiler - you've been warned):(show spoiler)
So it's a compelling story, but a very inconsistent one. A book that relies as heavily as this one does on emotional extremes deserved to have had a much more pedantic editor, as befits a pedantic character. Eleanor had a horrific childhood and is broken in more than a few places, but she lived in the world; participated in it, yet we're presented with a character who might as well be a newly arrived visitor to planet Earth. Even though I liked Eleanor, and found her funny, and agreed with her views on text-speak, I just couldn't buy into her reality. Like Eleanor, I value consistency, and this story just wasn't.
Your mileage may vary.
Well, I needed to read 22 books this month if I was going to pull myself out of the TBR-reducing-hole I'd dug for myself in June, and thanks to a reading binge, I pulled it off. My total this month was 28 books. 6 of those were re-reads, but either way you interpret the parameters of my challenge, I still pulled it off.
I had 1 5-star read this month: Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World by Rachel Swaby and I recommend it to anyone - in either print or audio - that has an interest in women, history or science. The bios are brief, but 90% of these scientists are ones you're likely to have never heard of before, so it's all new stuff and well-written.
I had 4 4.5-star reads too, including one Man Booker Prize winner; a first for me. Lincoln in the Bardo was also the only fiction to make the cut this month.
For July, since I was feeling chart-y this month:
(I just realised that second chart is mis-labeled; it should read "fiction/non-fiction" but I can't be bothered opening the program back up and fixing it.)
TBR Challenge update:
July budget: -11
Books bought in July: 3
Books read in July: 28
Deficit brought forward to August: 0
# of books pre-ordered for August: 6
August budget: 7*
*: by my admittedly dodgy mental rules, because I went into July at a deficit, clearing it should start me back at zero, as though I'm starting over. So this month's budget is based on half the number of books I read in July *after* clearing that deficit.
So it would appear I have 1 book left to buy in August, except I don't. I've placed an order for 5 books from Mysterious Books, which means I'm in the hole again by 4 books. So far. Hopefully it'll stay at 4; Halloween Bingo is coming up, but I have loads of books on my TBR I should be able to make work, so I'm semi-confident I won't need to buy any - at least until September.
How was your month? :)
Our re-vote for September's new read was a landslide win. Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright beat out its nearest rival by 3 votes. Landslides are relative here at the Flat Book Society.
A witty, irreverent tour of history's worst plagues—from the Antonine Plague, to leprosy, to polio—and a celebration of the heroes who fought them
In 1518, in a small town in Alsace, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced until she was carried away six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had been stricken by the mysterious dancing plague. In late-seventeenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary.
Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the diseases history and circumstance have dropped on them. Some of their responses to those outbreaks are almost too strange to believe in hindsight. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues we’ve suffered as a species, as well as stories of the heroic figures who selflessly fought to ease the suffering of their fellow man. With her signature mix of in-depth research and storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks, and ultimately looks at the surprising ways they’ve shaped history and humanity for almost as long as anyone can remember.
Hopefully, this will prove to be a much more easily obtainable text for everyone wishing to participate.
I'm just speculating here, but for those who are on the fence about joining us, looking at the book's description, I'd say odds are pretty good that might work for - maybe - a category or two on the as-yet-unveiled 2018 Halloween Bingo. I mean, plagues. A club for people with no nose. Typhoid Mary y'all. Just the description makes me think it's a definite contender for Horror, so hopefully, a possible twofer for some of us in September.
Also, I just wanted to mention The Flat Book Society is 1 year old! Woo! I can't believe we made it a whole year. Cake for everyone!
This is so undignified. Where's the cake?
Reading this now - 7 years after the first read - I wonder if Fowler's editor convinced her she'd overplayed Gabriel's machismo in the last book and recommended toning it down. Gabriel isn't perfect, in this 4th book, but he's nothing like the horse's ass he was previously.
There's a lot of family drama in this one - some of it amusing (I love the bible verse war Bennie's grandmother and great-aunt engage in), some of it not. The mystery plot itself stretched itself though; definitely not her best murder plotting. Too far beyond the realm of believability for a series that is so firmly and deeply rooted in reality.
-------old review below-----------
I haven't found a book I don't like yet in this series. A bit 'angst-y' but I think the author does a good job of balancing that, so it doesn't weigh you down. I'm looking forward to continuing with the series.
Huggins wants to know: Did you vote yet?
Voting closes July 31st.